I'm not going to discuss Hussein or Ford or Brown. Hope y'all aren't disappointed. I also want to wish y'all a belated Happy New Year!!!
I have never gone so long without updating my blogspot or MySpace blogs. I really appreciate everyone's concern, and I didn't mean to ignore or scare anybody. It's just been a three-ring circus. Several things kept me away; they can be best summed up as "end-of-year crap at work, plus holidays, plus wanting to spend time with L'Ailee while I could." My department generates an astonishing amount of paperwork that must all be taken care of, and I was given almost total responsibility for the office holiday party. *smile* The vodka luge, also known as the vodka slide, was back, oh yes. I like those lots, and so do other people. Some other companies have really scaled back; mine didn't, for which I was grateful. I think I did okay. At least, I haven't heard any complaints.
As some of you know, L'Ailee doesn't push paper. She teaches martial arts in a gym, and we're coming up on resolution season. She and her co-workers place bets on how long new members' enthusiasm will last. Perhaps some of you may find the idea of busting a bet motivational! I won't be seeing nearly enough of my wife for a while. Plus I've got my night courses in interior design coming up in the middle of the month.
Why is it that more often than not, I travel on a Sabbat? On February 2, Brigid's Day, I'm going to take the Acela to Washington DC so I can attend a concert with my mother. I can't believe there's actually a concert we both want to see, but she was so thrilled to learn that I love Trace Adkins, too. We've never seen him live, so that will be cool. I'm going to see the little panda boy--well, not so little anymore, but still very cute--Tai Shan at the zoo the next day. L'Ailee's not going, and Mom has never cared for zoos, even though she's a Tai Shan fan, too. I guess I'll go by myself, and make it a quick visit.
I traveled on the Winter Solstice, December 21, too. L'Ailee and I went to Orlando for a week. Our hotel was very nice (and it should have been; we were using my mom's rewards points to pay for some of our stay), but there was no computer access! The local library allowed tourists (oh, how that term rankled) to use the computers, but their filters blocked MySpace, Blogspot, discussion forums, and most anything else I wanted to use. I could check my Yahoo mail, but that was about it.
The week was a blur. L'Ailee and I tried helping my brother and SIL pack up and clean up, but the Dorkfish made that a losing battle--couldn't touch this, move that, throw the next thing away! I hope they'll be able to get everything together in time. We saw friends. We celebrated Festivus in our hotel room on the 23rd. Dorkfish brought the aluminum pole, and we brought in pizza and beer. A few of our older cousins and a few of our friends came. It was very low-pressure, just a time to eat and talk...and take L'Ailee on in Feats of Strength. If you do it two years in a row, Dorkfish and I figure, it becomes a tradition, so now Festivus is a tradition for our friends and the Cousins. All that, and I have only ever liked two or three episodes of Seinfeld!
Christmas Eve with the family was harder. It's a lot like the late Message Board of Love became for me--enough nice and interesting people to make showing up worthwhile, but with just enough mean, judgemental, vocal people to make me wonder why I ever bothered. L'Ailee's cousin, who is also my oldest cousin's fiance, made her much more comfortable, at least. We were so happy to see the youngest cousins and a few of my many aunts and uncles. The one who was hosting it has let it be known how she doesn't approve of "the lesbian lifestyle," but she and her husband were very friendly this year. (This is the mother of the boys in the post below.) We tried to concentrate on the nice ones, even though the difficult ones tried to get our goats. On the whole, I'm glad I went, and L'Ailee was glad to see certain people.
My brother, mother, our partners, and I opened gifts in her hotel room on Christmas morning. Ever since Dorkfish and I saw the "X-Mas Story" episode of Futurama, we've spoken of "winning Christmas." In the future, you see, people will "win X-Mas" if they get the most gifts. Dorkfish and Mrs. Dorkfish adhere to that definition. Mom thinks she's "won Christmas" if she gets lots of cards. (She'll let a present languish unopened for days, but put a card in her hands and she'll have that sucker out of its envelope in two seconds.) And L'Ailee and I think we've "won Christmas" if people like our gifts best. I couldn't wait for L'Ailee to open up the cashmere sweater with Hello Kitty rhinestone detail and the two cashmere caps. I thought the caps would feel nice on her shaved scalp in the winter, and she knits, but never in cashmere. She loved them. I loved the glass seaform ring, the Vera Bradley watch set, and the two new pairs of shoes she gave me, too. I don't like buying shoes 'cause I feel self-conscious about my feet. She did good for me!
We thought we'd lost Christmas when we saw my brother and SIL's gift to my mother. Growing up, I always felt bad that she had only a couple of packages to open, while we had quite a few. So I like to give her multiple packages now that I can. She always says she wants pretty stationery and her favorite perfume. We got her both. The stationery had been bought from precious and expensive NYC stores bit by bit over the past few months, as we saw it. And then I also got her some nice pens that are supposed to not aggravate her carpal tunnel. Meanwhile, the Dorkfish, and my SIL, gave her a diamond necklace! They were so proud. L'Ailee and I just stared at each other. We felt so chintzy.
Then I realized a few things. Mom only wears gold, and the necklace is silver. She only thinks jewelry is appropriate from herself or her significant other. And we had given her exactly what she asked for. So we won Christmas after all! The thought cheered us considerably.
I was slightly dismayed that people thought I needed "things" this year rather than gift cards or animal adoptions. Oh, I got those, too, and Mom was nice enough to give me a panda calendar from the National Zoo. But my gifts include two necklaces that are much too short for me. (I have a short, thick neck and a fear of strangulation.) One of my aunts thought L'Ailee and I needed "answers from the Bible." But the worst was from my grandmother. She uses Christmas gifts as a way to punish errant children and grandchildren. This year, L'Ailee got *nothing* from her. Her cousin didn't, either, but that's because she never buys gifts for fiances, only spouses. I got slipper socks in colors I don't wear, ever. Dorkfish and my SIL got chintzy-looking personal organizers and a lecture on staying organized, neither of which they needed. And all the rest of our cousins? They got $50 Wal-Mart gift cards! We had given her a $50 card to Sunoco because she's always fretting over the price of gas. We wanted to that right back, but we did not.
But it could be much worse. We were there for the tornadoes. They skipped over my aunt's and grandmother's homes in Daytona, TTG!!! We watched the Weather Channel obsessively on Christmas Day. On the 26th, we visited my aunt, even though she's the one who gave us "answers from the Bible." We needed to see that she was okay, and she was, albeit a little shaken up. We made a contribution to the Red Cross when we got home. I also supported Daytona Beach's economy by getting many little orange-shaped bottles of my trademark orange blossom perfume at a tacky tourist trap and, oh yes, a very lovely Walden surfboard with a Hawaiian flower print that cost $500. Incidentally, the gentleman who broke my last board, and almost broke my bones, has paid me back for it as he promised, though he expressed surprise that a surfboard could cost that much. I was very grateful that the shops and hotels at Beachside and the Daytona Beach Superspeedway were unhurt. Daytona doesn't need an economic setback like that, and it's bad enough that a mini-9/11 occurred at Embry-Riddle (the aviation college) when the tornado flung one of its planes, fully fueled, into one of its buildings.
Also on Christmas night, Dorkfish and I and our wives saw Borat. We needed some comic relief once our relatives called to say they were okay, and we were getting cabin fever in the hotel. This was the second time for me and the first for everyone else. L'Ailee, who is so much more prim and ladylike than anyone would guess by looking at her, spent most of it cringing and covering her face. I'm sure she blushed scarlet, too. Dorkfish and my SIL laughed until they cried, and so did I. On the way out, I told them that I "laughed hard enough to pass a kidney." "That is gross," L'Ailee murmured, and I replied that if anyone was offended by that description, they had no business seeing Borat anyway. "People like me," she murmured again, and the rest of us laughed, and I kissed her cheek and apologized for not warning her enough. I love that about her, and I hope she never loses it.
My cousins kept asking if we were going to go to Times Square. We tried that once. L'Ailee doesn't like crowds, and I don't like situations where I can't get a soda or a trip to the bathroom. Instead, we once again stayed home and observed our wedding anniversary in bed, with cheap champagne at the ready and the alarm set for midnight. Our NYC friends, thankfully, understood this time. They whined about our not wanting to go out last year. If you do it two years in a row, we say, it becomes a tradition, and now this is our tradition: taking a much-needed break while the rest of the world goes insane for a night, and making damn sure we can kiss, or something, at midnight. It's not a bad one.