Sunday, December 12, 2010

Perhaps If You Are Out There Still, You'd Like To Read This, In Which I Simply Chat A Bit About Things In General, And There Are Secondary Characters

This time of year, when most people add to the General Clutter of their lives, I now take the opportunity to get rid of some of my Cranial Clutter by dumping it out here at the Dept. So, ready your Virtual Dustpans and Dustbins and press on.

Today I finally put up all the Festivity on my fireplace mantel. I had to replenish my supply of Overpriced And Classy Candles, courtesy Pier 1. The nice thing about getting my candles there is that they last about eleventeen years since I only use them at Christmastime, the scents are long-lasting and comforting without being cloying, and they come in designery colors other than Rudolph Red and Pine Green. As I was unwrapping them, I happened to read the label on the bottom: Burn within sight, it says direly. Keep away from things that catch fire. Keep away from children. Hm. Seems to me that last part is redundant. I feel like "things that catch fire" sort of says it all. Most children I know do burn.

Continuing with candles, one of the ones I bought was a sort of seaweed color scented with patchouli. I bought it for the color and the size, mainly. I gave it to Rick to smell and said, "This one is patchouli, that typical hippie incense scent. Here, smell and tell me what you think." He said, "It smells like marijuana and protest rallies and--" At that point I just grabbed the candle.

My Creative Writing I students are writing their one act plays. One of them came up to conference with me about a possible idea. He has a propensity for writing horror and always wants a twist ending. Also, everyone has to die at the end. Everyone. The plot is really not important, the machinations are endless, the characters incidental: everything is invested in the twist at the end. The conferences are exhausting, but I find this student delightful in every way. On Friday we had a Typical Nick Conference and, in the middle of it, when I was feeling like a limp dishrag and desperate for a double vodka martini, I stopped him. "Nick," I said. "A conference with you is like eating crablegs. At first it's like a fun adventure, and you love the delicious little chunks you get as you work away. But after a while, you start wondering if it's all worth it for the payoff at the end. You start feeling like you've invested a lot more effort than what you're getting out of it. I adore you, but you are absolutely wearing me out right now. Don't make your play do the same thing to your audience. Know what I mean?" And he absolutely did.

On Friday Rick and I decided to go and bang out the bulk of our Christmas Shopping and then get some dinner. Part of that plan was a Good Idea. The other part was A Nightmare. Shopping went well, but we decided to eat at A Certain Restaurant , and it was rather late for NEO diners, 8:45. Let's just say that the service was...nonexistent, my Cosmopolitan never saw a drop of real cranberry juice, our meals were definitely the tail-end of the cook's pantry, and we left hungry and with everything still on our plates and the meal comped--at well past 10. But one of the most horrifying parts was the buxom blond girl who, left over from a huge party, stood for almost an hour with her two friends directly in the aisleway and in front of another table of diners, talking and laughing loudly and, at one point, dragging a hairbrush through her long hair. It was at that point that I wished I were carrying a licensed firearm and had no moral upbringing. Seriously.

It is snowing profusely right now, and we are under A! WINTER! WEATHER! ADVISORY! Can you possibly imagine that getting a snowstorm in Northeast Ohio is incredibly newsworthy and amazing? It is the lead story on all the Cleveland newschannels. What really kills me is that lots of snow and bitterly cold temperatures in Minnesota led the national news this morning. Really? My sister lived a year in Minnesota, and believe me, we heard all about how much snow they got (lots) and how cold it was there (bitterly). Geeze. Bring me some real news or shut the hell up already, NBC.

You sound like a blog.


  1. It's a good thing my husband reads your blog too, as I'm cackling and saying "I love her" while reading this. That last bit about snow - hilarious. Why, it's been snowing all day here in Xenia & while it's annoying to think about my commute to Cincinnati in the morning, it's pretty much par for the course here.

    P.S. I didn't comment, but your nativity set is absolutely amazing. Really. :)

  2. Anonymous10:37 PM

    Nick's problem is that he tries way too hard to be original so in the process, everything he does makes no sense. Plus he focuses way too much on shock value.

  3. Anon--I've no complaint whatsoever with anyone striving for Originality. I know what you mean, though, that the effort can consume the result. Sometimes, a new writer searching for his voice becomes mired in his "schtick" rather than a true voice. That is always the danger. It takes time, and in a class like CW I, where there is a ready audience looking for a good time, it is a challenge.

    The Bug--Well, I have a Snow Day today, and I simply cannot accept it Graciously. I pity your commute to Cinci, but at least you are moving and carrying on. I would rather be at work, believe it or not, because we only get 3 Snow Days this year, and I also just started teaching The Scarlet Letter, which I am desperate to finish before Christmas Break on the 22nd. And one does not successfully hurry Hawthorne. Sigh. Thanks for the compliments in your comments, dear, and for your continued loyalty to the Dept.

  4. I don't even have the boxes out of the basement ... and the mother of Little Stuff has booked Christmas dinner here, which means a tree, which my [deleted] husband insists we search out and cut from our own property and, waaa, I want it to be November.

    I can't live without Santa red candles at Christmas - alas that the manufacturers thereof insist on scenting them like candy canes.

  5. Oh, thanks for the candle tip! I need two nice ones for the living room, and now I'm thinking I'll go to Pier One later this week.

    I now have ALMOST all of my shopping complete, and my packages ALMOST completely packed and ready to ship. That's the best feeling, when I have everything in the mail to my far away family. Then I can relax and enjoy the rest of the season here, with my close-by family. :)

    Do you get blue crabs? Because dungeness crabs are always worth the work. But those little east coast blues are too much work. Perhaps another apt analogy might be trying to eat a pomegranate. That burns more calories than you consume, I swear. Which is fine if you're on a diet, but not so good if you're HUNGRY.

    Sorry about your horrid restaurant experience. Blech.

  6. J.@jj--I just don't want to have to do too much work for my food. I like to think I've evolved, you know? I mean, I don't mind having to fix a nice baked potato, or cut my own meat, but to have to crack and probe and coax meat out of a ridgid container when it could all be done for me by someone ahead of time just seems idiotic and pointless in this day and age, you know?

    Mary G.--Here is what I envision for you, regarding your tree.

    Mr. G--Honey, it's time to go get our tree.
    Mary--Let's go get one at the tree place down the road.
    Mr. G.--No. We have trees on our own property. The perfect one is right in our own backyard, so to speak.
    Mrs. G--I'll wait here, then, while you go find it. Be careful. See you later.

  7. Mikey G.2:51 PM

    You'd barely know it was Christmastime if you stepped into my apartment. We normally have holiday lights in our hallway to use as a nightlight, but they were unplugged the last time we cleaned and we never plugged them back in. So we have fewer lights than we normally have.

    And in my room, the only sign of Christmas is my Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. There are presents for the boy all wrapped up, but they're under my bed so he doesn't see them (some of their shapes would be dead giveaways).

    Candles or snow? Nope.

    My word verification is "gangl" which just seems to fit into the theme of my comment for some reason :-)

  8. Mikey--the CB Tree is for sale at Walgreens for 9.99$. I think it's cute. I just "finished" my shopping today. I say "finished" because there are always last-minute things that occur to me even though I say, "If it's not bought and wrapped, it's not happening." Sigh.

  9. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Contrary to what you predicted in your blog, Nick's play does NOT end in death. still cliche ending,maybe, but still, it's something new for him. And I was shocked at your copious laughter at it. I wasn't offended, it just didn't seem like your sort of thing. I read it and thought it was only slightly amusing. But two each's own. I have no idea why people think Jeff Dunham is funny either.

  10. Mikey G.3:17 AM

    I know what you mean by "finished". Today I found the face wash that Joe loves but is no longer available at Costco, so I bought a couple of containers of it. Lord knows, I'll probably find something else I want to get him in the next week :-p

  11. Anonymous--"To each his own", yes. I love humor that is silly but smart at the same time, and that's what N's play is. Like French farce. And not like J. Dunham.

    Mikey G.--For me,it's the dreaded Stocking Stuffers. I would love to give them up, but I know Two Boys who would be disappointed/outraged.

  12. I have finished twisting my way through the holiday labryinth. This weekend marks the beginning of The Good Part, which includes receiving cards and packages in the mail, going to the movies, hanging out with the famdamily, burning all those candles, and enjoying the fruits of my labor. Still to come? The part where I wish everyone would go back to work and school and quit bickering.

  13. V-Grrrl--I am done with the major gift shopping. I still have to buy the foodstuffs for the Annual Family Christmas Eve Open House Buffet, held at my home. Sigh. This also means Rampant Cleaning, and my last day of classes at The Rock is the 22nd. I've already cut out all baking except for my usual Christmas Friendship Cake, and that's helpful. But it's still Worky, as I've discussed here at the Dept. a myriad of times. Talk to me on the 25th. That's when I can finally BE DONE. (Loved your photo over at Neil's btw.)


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