A new year has come upon us, and I think it’ll be good. I have no hard facts or even significant sensations to back up this claim. Only blind, dumb optimism, a commodity I tend to lack or avoid for no reason other than I am a numbnuts. <—See, look at that, I’ve already deflated my potentially winning New Year attitude with an infantile, uncalled-for dig at myself. At myself! What do I wanna make fun of mySELF for? What’s THAT gonna get me? Why would I hurt MY OWN feelings like that? God, I’m an ASSHOLE!
I talked about the inexplicable promise of 2009 with my wife, too, and can I just put a few words in here celebrating my wife? Maybe a poem? My wife deplores poetry, which is a hilarious and arguably worthwhile thing to deplore, but she is fond of rhyming, so here is my attempt to celebrate her with the art of the lyric:
ODE TO MY WIFE
Your sensible ways cool me like a fan, ya see.
What the fuck?; why the fuck is WordPress putting a space between every stanza?
What a shitty website, resembling one designed by Tony Danza!
Remember when we watched that talk show he had, and as a prize he awarded his entire audience a vacation in Miami?
Later today we will eat pie. Yammy!
The title of that poem is “I Love You (Please Don’t Divorce Me, I’m Sure I’ll Improve With Age)”. A lesson we can take from that poem I just wrote is don’t try to write loving poems on WordPress, since when you hit the return button it assumes you want a whole new paragraph, discouraging legions of budding poets, much to my wife’s delight. But think of the budding poets! Won’t someone?
So the tree’s still up. I’d take a picture of it, but you could simply look at the picture I posted on my previous post and think things like “January 10th” and “lazy”. As for Christmas, well, it was what it was, to employ a phrase I alternately hate and find useful. Got a few things, gave a few things. Neglected a few utilities. Saw a few family members. Ate a few luscious clods of Finnish bread. Here’s some pictures of some stuff I got.
These are some nice record frames I got from my wife. I like purchasing and occasionally listening to records. But mostly purchasing. It’s all about the selection process for me. Isn’t it great to glean Me Facts from the Internet like this? Get ready for a lot more this year! More than ever, in 2009 it’s all about ME! Tonight I celebrate my love! Killing me softly with my song! Anyway, these frames are great, too bad I’ve already broken one.
See, the idea behind these record frames is you take out the panelling on the back, then place the record neatly behind the glass pane, then refasten the back panelling and hang as needed, hey presto. When I originally opened these and excitedly put them together, my made-of-poop brain told me “Durrr, me know how do this. Me awkwardly wedge record into front of frame, on top of breaky glass. It fine that record not really fitting into frame. It still look pretty. Me hang now.” A WEEK PASSES. “Mmm, me like raviolis! Wah! What that falling breaky sound in other room?! Duurrr, me go check! Wah! Frame fall down! Land on record player! Glass on floor! Owie, me step on! Wah, only three records on wall look bad! Ruined present from house woman! Smelly Christmas! Santa crying! Me want Cheezits!”
In closing, I sat down and spent some important learning time with the frames, and I now understand how this sort of thing works. Unfortunately, it leaves me with three record frames on the wall laid out in an unattractive fashion, which I refuse to remedy because sticking the tacks in the wall took a long time and hurt my arms, and it also leaves me with a broken record frame on the side of the couch, because it was a present and I feel bad about discarding it, plus it’s not really broken enough to throw away, and furthermore there’s nowhere logical to put it. Also, when I threw the smashed glass pane away, the shards sliced through the garbage bag, and now there’s a coffee filter on the lawn that I don’t know what to do with. Thank God it snowed the other day so I don’t have to think about it for the time being.
Jeez, that couldn’t have been too interesting for ya! Sorry! Moving on!
I do not expect to receive Christmas gifts from my father-in-law. The fact that he allowed me to marry his daughter will likely have to serve as present enough. However, we went to his apartment recently, and he made us a take a bunch of his old stuff, so I’m going to pretend that this dismissive, begrudgingly welcoming snowman that he foisted on us is actually a present he thoughtfully selected for my own enjoyment.
Sure, he wrote his own name on top of the snowman’s hat, but he couldn’t possibly have fit “To the best son-in-law a guy ever had, Love Louie” on there! Give the guy a break!
A thing we did this year at my folks’ house was a new game my mother kept unsettlingly insisting on referring to as “Santa’s Sack”. Basically, we all bought a bunch of alternately burdensome and useful items, wrapped them, threw them in a giant garbage bag, then took turns passing it around and taking stuff out and opening it. It turned out pretty fun. In youth, receiving hand sanitizer and “Pear & Blueberry Drops” (replete with inadequately scratched-off Marden’s price tag, no less) for Christmas would surely have resulted in the bitterest of tears, but I’m pleased to report they now induce wan smiles and muttered expressions of polite gratitude.
By the way, have a look at these Pear & Blueberry Drops:
Yeah, didn’t expect them to be covered in powdered sugar, did you? Neither did I, friends. Neither did I. They sure are weird and freaky, but they’re not half bad. Despite awareness of their reasonable tastiness, it never gets any easier to initially pop one into your mouth. They were from my mother-in-law, who also gave us a bunch of money, so frankly she could have wrapped up a boxful of a year’s worth of credit card offers accompanied by a fresh turd and I would have hugged it to my chest with rapture. Still, I don’t know for the life of me what I’m gonna do with these. You want ’em?
Other events that have transpired that I hesitate to mention within the confines of this dopey blog: my wife’s wonderful Auntie Mary quite unexpectedly passed away, about a week shy of Christmas, so the holidays would have felt grim and frivolous with or without the acquisition of powdered bargain-basement hard candies. She had the type of immediately engaging and gregarious personality that one fears is only available for witness in movies about loud, emotive families like “Moonstruck”, and she always made me feel welcome and wanted in an initially terrifying (due to my own shyness more than anything else) extended family.
Attending holiday events at my in-laws place was like nothing I’d experienced in terms of both bickering and food, two things my wife’s family knows a thing or two about. To stop eating at their Thanksgivings was flat out impossible. You just kept going. Every side dish imaginable, many of Lebanese origin, and pie after pie after pie. Usually upwards of eight. Auntie Mary’s chocolate cream pie is among the most delicious desserts, or food of any kind, it has ever been my good fortune to eat, and when we lament its sudden omission from our lives, we do so without irony, with true grief. She had a hug and kiss and a joshing insult for everyone, one of those people you feel you know the instant you laid eyes on her. Just a great lady, and her death was a cruel kick to a family that was already down, having already lost Ghiddo, the grandfather/father/overall head of the family, only a couple months earlier.
Ghiddo was something else. He lived to be 94. I daresay not many of us will manage that feat, or even attempt it. He called me The Jerk, which was certainly apt enough. Giving the various husbands of the family crap was one of his favorite pastimes, but it was never without a bemused, very perceptible twinkle in his eye, although I’m sure he really did think, not without reason, that we were essentially shiftless. I readily accepted the nickname, happy to have made an impression.
He had a way with a snappy comeback (Me after one particular visit: “Sorry I came along with Annie to see you, but I’ll try to remember to stay home next time.” Ghiddo: “Is that a promise?”), spoke several languages (including sign language), and on more than one occasion would look down at my shoes and try to guess at the size. We went to visit him in the hospital, and Auntie Mary made sure I was the first person he saw when he woke up. “What a horrible sight,” he moaned with disbelief. I of course loved it.
He had overseen a widespread local shoe business in his day (hence the shoe size guessing), and was highly regarded by his peers, most of whom he had handily outlived by this point. If you grew up in the Bangor area in the 80’s and 90’s, you just might remember him as the diminutive gentleman who made change for you at the Space Port arcade in the Bangor Mall, a job he took to keep busy after he retired from the shoe business. My brother and I had pestered him for quarters (and later tokens) in youth whenever we wanted to play “Roadblasters” or “WWF Superstars”, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered I was now lawfully related to the man. It was an honor to know him for a short time.
An awful way to leave 2008, and we’ll leave it at that.
The necessary evil of the tying up of loose ends came next, most of which was left to Auntie Mary’s siblings, but Annie and her sister have been entrusted with the act of going through all of the photo albums left in the now empty house. To give you an idea of how many albums we’re talking about, they required their own room. Or here, look:
And that’s not even all of them. Going through them obviously meant more to Annie than it did to me, but I was still struck by the family’s devotion to preserving these pictures, notes, cards, mementos. A skinny laptop takes up a lot less space, and it’s easier to click through the photos, but how much nicer to have a picture you can hold, with some matter to it, however seemingly negligible in the grand scheme of things?
Wishing you all a prosperous 2009,