Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Otherwise

A poem for the new year:

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

- Jane Kenyon


-----

Today I Am Happy - My own attempt at a blog post in a similar vein.

...and a happy new year - A phone call to my father where we grunt, hem and haw.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Brown Suit

Nice, but why don't you ever wear the brown suit I gave you?

(c) 2006 The New Yorker

-----
Other cartoons that have appeared in NMP.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pretend Holiday

"Hanukkah is a minor holiday," proclaimed Mark, my colleague at work.

Mark is Jewish. I, of course, am a Gentile. Especially my hands, since I use premium hand lotion.

"It's not a holiday where you have change your behavior," he continued. "You don't have to fast, refrain from working or anything. Hanukkah has been 'elevated' to the level of a major shopping holiday, like Christmas."

"Shopping, of course, being the operative word," I finished for him. "It's the time when we can all give each other Pieces of designer Earthenware."

He nodded, "It's all crass commercialization! The true meaning of the holidays has been lost."

Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, these holidays have been elevated to this frenzied level by the retailers. It won't be long before they have a menorah with 14 branches because we need more shopping days.

Even Christmas, now celebrated from Labor Day through the very last after-after-after-holiday markdown sale, has its origins from pagan rituals. Christmas still bears its pagan symbols: the tree, the star, the disco ball ornament.

I mean, Jesus wasn't even born in December, couldn't you tell? He had a tan for hissakes. Jesus would never have a fake-n-bake, that would be lying, a sin! I think we should pass a law that prohibits the people with fake tans from getting married, coz it threatens the sanctity of marriage.

I think that to be a major holiday, there must be sacrifice, there must be bloodshed, lots of it: Thanksgiving, the massacre; Easter, the Mel Gibson version; Valentine's Day, that time when your late boyfriend forgot to get you a gift. Christmas--it's just a pretend-holiday.

"How do you spell Hanukkah," I asked, thinking about how to blog this conversation.

"Most people spell it 'Hanukkah,' I think. Some people spell it like 'Chanukah'," he said. "It's pronounced 'Cha-nu-kah'."

He said the first syllable 'cha' as if he was calling me an 'asshole' behind a cough.

I repeated it after him.

"No, no, no, more phlegm. Say it as if you were going to hawk a loogie," he advised.

Ok, everyone, here it goes:

"Hhhcchhhappy Hhhcchanukkah, and a very merry Hhhcchristmas to you all!"

(and don't forget the true holy day behind the pretend one)

-----
Other holiday posts:

Baby's First Christmas - Jordan's nephew Justin becomes a mouthpiece for his disgruntled aunt.
Red Envelopes - Learn the ancient Chinese tradition of gift-giving for the holidays.

Appetite - In my first Christmas nativity pageant, I played a cow when I should've been Mary.
Brokeback Mountain - Hey since there is a picture of Jake, you might as well read about that gay movie he was in.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Houseguest

Having never lived with a woman, I've never really understood what that was like. I didn't know the challenges of this arrangement.

In this particular case, having to deal with random long brown hairs lying in my house. I feel like I am one clump short of a mohair sweater or a Chewbacca costume. These long hairs belong to our houseguest Kate, who is staying with us for a month.

Sometimes it irks me when I am lying on the couch and I find a strand of hair sticking to my face. It burns me up. I think dark thoughts about her, this good friend of mine, soon to be not-so-good friend if this keeps up.

I feel a twinge of guilt about this because it's not like she can help that her hair falls out. I can't help myself wishing horrible things would happen to her, like a plague of split ends, so she has to cut her hair off. I look for signs of anorexia because I hear it makes your hair fall out. To prevent this, I pour out her two-liter bottle of Diet Coke and fill it with regular Coke.

But I love her dearly, which is why Brian and I let her stay with us for a whole month. We were in agreement in this. And when I say 'agreement', I mean that I used emotional blackmail on him. I would've threatened to withhold sex instead, except that after being together nearly five years, we only have sex about six times a month, if we're lucky. If somebody forgets to wash the dishes, that dwindles down to two. So I am hesitant to use that sort of power. I reserve it for one of those really rare and special occasions, like when the cat has diarrhea.

If I had more experience, I suppose these things wouldn't surprise me.

One day, as I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I happened to notice that there was something in the trashcan that looked odd. It was something wrapped in tissue paper, one edge looking damp and red.

At first I thought, it was the leftover steak I grilled last night. I thought, why would Brian throw that out? There was enough to make a perfectly nice steak sandwich garnished with roasted peppers, arugula, and a little garlic-mayo spread on ciabatta bread. If I were a different person, I would've fished it out. It was wrapped in tissue.

Of course it was a tampon. You can't make that into a sandwich. Unless you were a vampire.

This made me think about how blood is such a part of women's lives. I get queasy at the little blood that comes out when I pop a zit. But women bleed, man. This stuff pours out of them every month. If I popped a zit everyday for the rest of my life, it wouldn't even come close to how much blood comes out of a woman in a month. To be a woman, it's like...murder--but with nice handbags. No wonder they're cranky. I think if I were a woman, I would have a lot of nice handbags.

We men will never understand this, or why women use chocolate ice cream as medication for their ails.

I tip my hat to you straight men. Women are almost a different species. You take the differences between the sexes and you make. it. work. Tim Gunn would be proud. Some of you even take it to the next level. You take a woman's period and you make something beautiful with it. I think you call it a "rusty nail"?

It's been three weeks, and I think I have learned a lot. I think I am becoming more attuned to Kate. I have learned a lot about women--some important lessons in life--like the double-edged sword of beauty, learning to live with pain, how to properly use an eyelash curler. I also learned the wiles of how to get a man to pay for dinner: by dating only rich men.

A few more days, she will be on her way. Just as our spiritual menstrual cycles were getting in synch, she'll be leaving. I wondered about what that would've been like, whether it would've taken our friendship to the next level, brought us closer together as friends, and whether I would've needed to start stocking tampons too.


-----

Check out some of my other friends:

Things That Might Drive Joe to Crazyville - Or, let's get to know Joe by reading his rants.
Wanted: Friend - Determined never to go solo again, Han makes his move.

My First Time - Annie's first guest post. But who cares when there's a pic of her boobs?
Special Dispensation - Only the Pope, or my friend Matt, can grant me a special dispensation to date Kevin.

Hardly Knew You - Doug went out for lunch... and never came back.

Guest Blogger - You'll be surprised at who made an appearance.

If I Could Turn Back Time - A custody fight for Patrick between me and a famous sitcom star.
#1 Single - Lisa Loeb and I are this close. The unlikely friendship of a popstar and a blogger.