We spent the second-half of our Christmas week with Sam's parents back in New York. They had already done the great and wonderful tourist thing, so it was a nice few days just getting to hang out and visit.
Saturday night, however, we spent New Year's Eve in Times Square.
That's right. TIMES SQUARE. And it was amazing. We got tickets to the Olive Garden's Party, and as cheesy as that sounds, it was spectacular. There was good food, an open bar and dancing. But, best of all, it meant we could spend the night viewing the giant hoards on Broadway in the warm comfort of a restaurant with bathrooms nearby. We sat at a great table and watched as the crowds slowly gathered to the point where there was literally not room for even one more person in the street. And then, at 11:30pm, with streamer-decorated tiaras and top hats proclaiming "Happy New Year!" we headed outside to join them.
And it was, in a pathetic understatement, awesome. We stood, in a crowd of tens of thousands and sang "Imagine" by John Lennon. Tears welled in my eyes as I thought about the hope I felt there. How all these people from these different places could all sing those words, and it seemed maybe things *would* get better. Be better in the new year. And to hear everyone take a breath and join in "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm nto the only one . . ." - it gave me chills. I get tears in my eyes now just thinking about it.
And then the countdown. Everyone yelling from 10, screaming in joy as the ball dropped, grabbing those close to them and kissing them, hugging strangers and yelling above the din "Happy New Year!" It didn't' matter we had never spoken, in that minute we were all friends - sharing this amazing beginning to a new year. Sharing where they were from, who they were, passing out hugs as if we had all known each other forever.
And then Sinatra's "New York, New York" began to play and before I knew it we were all kicking it up, arms around each other, singing again. And as I turned to look at Sam, his arm around me on one side - his camera snapping pictures with the other, his parents behind us dancing with our new found friends; I felt like the luckiest person in the whole of the world.
"If I can make it there, I'd make it ANY where, it's UP to YOU! NEW! YORK! NEeeeeeewwWWWW YooooooooooooRK! . . . ."
It was the greatest way to spend the beginning of this brand new shiny new year, and an even better way for Sam and I's first New Year's as husband and wife.
Hello, 2006. Awfully glad to meet you. I have a feeling we're going to get along just fine .
Saturday, December 31, 2005
We spent the second-half of our Christmas week with Sam's parents back in New York. They had already done the great and wonderful tourist thing, so it was a nice few days just getting to hang out and visit.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Well, our Christmas week began amazingly. We spent Saturday through Tuesday night with my parents in the Happiest Place on Earth - and more specifically - our favorite parks. Epcot on Christmas day itself, Magic Kingdom the next and to finish it off with true flying colors, the Animal Kingdom the last day.
Most importantly, however, we got to just hang out with my parents for the first time in a year when we weren't planning (or having) a wedding. It was great. We went to all our favorite places in the parks, ate all our favorite meals, (discovered a few new ones) and celebrated the holidays in true Disney/Bell Family fashion. They spoiled us rotten. It was great.
We had such fun. It was like a little mini vacation and was MUCH needed. We arrived at the airport exhausted and feeling much loved. It seems every time we go visit my parents, I end up at the gate crying on Sam's shoulder. I always want the trip to last just a bit longer, I want just a few days more. I miss my mom and dad a lot and the times we get to spend time with them are only getting fewer and far-er between. But with this trip, I truly couldn't ask for more. We had a wonderful, amazing time. And it feels so good to have the four of us hang out as family. It was our first Christmas and it was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Those of us today who have ever pondered the ramifications of a cataclysmic event such as a "nuclear winter" or the aftermath of a giant meteor impact after some ober-budget blockbuster movie can understand how frightening it must have been to see the sun slip away every fall. Harsh winter conditions and scarce food supplies made survival risky. Vegetation was dormant, migratory birds had long since disappeared to warmer climes, and many animals had vanished into hibernation. As the weeks drew closer to the solstice, it was a time of anxiety over ever-darkening days. What if the sun lost its vigor and never came back? Would light and warmth simply fade away forever? Would the earth be wrapped in eternal night and cold?
But then, magically, the long night would end, the sun would return, and slowly the earth would warm and provide for its people once more.
No one's really sure how long ago humans recognized the winter solstice and began heralding it as a turning point -- the day that marks the return of the sun. But that is what it is - a heralding of light, a joyous reach toward the future and all the beauty and hope it holds. Tonight is for reveling, for rejoicing, for accepting that the dark has passed and the light is slowly creeping in. It *will* return, it has begun to - and we in turn shall find joy in what lies ahead of us.
It's the root of the Christmas traditions - the birth of the sun, the birth of the son. Both stand for a world awakening, rejoicing, finding itself bathed in a blessed light. I hope you all have wonderful, beautiful and hopeful holidays.
Happy Solstice! Merry Yule! Brightest blessings, indeed.
"Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom? There are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our understanding." --Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of Christmas
That's the name of Sam's new video iPOD. He won it at his company Christmas party and is, to say the least, very excited. (I am insanely jealous, by the way.) He has right to be excited, though, we have had a 40 gig iPOD for a few years now, but - being the only child I am, I refused to share it.
So now he has a new shiny full-color one all his own! He shall soon know the ultimate love of the iPOD owner. This is what he gets for making fun of me all this time! :)
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Alas, it's not going to happen. I've learned to live with it and, you know, if I didn't like it - I'd go look for a job that might provide it (good luck with that by the way). I've learned to make the best of my job, and while there are many days I'm sure your job sucks, today my job sucks a bit thanks to you. I want to be more sympathetic, it being Christmas and all, but I really only have one thing to say to you -
SUCK IT UP and go back to work. This madness you're causing right now is just bullshit.
I realize this sounds harsh, but the issues that are brought up publicly are ones, obviously, I feel should not be sticking points. I would have more sympathy if someone would come out and say "Look, we're working under 'X' horrible conditions and need help." But so far the points I read about are ones I feel like we'd ALL like; that are part of the "ideal" job we all dream about it. But that's just it, it's an IDEAL. I'm not retiring when I'm 55, I know this. I'd LIKE to, but it's not happening. I've accepted it, I've moved on.
But if anyone wants to tell me an issue that's WORTH causing the craziness in the city right now for, I'll totally support the strike. Til then my sympathies lie with all the businesses that will be hurting for lack of supplies, or even people. For the teachers and students that were forced to walk miles in the bitter cold this morning to get to school. For my friends who desperately tried to get to work today in hopes of finishing stuff up so they could NOT work over Christmas break . . .
I believe everyone has the right to work under safe and fair conditions. I guess I'm just not seeing what the transit union wants as "fair."
Monday, December 19, 2005
It's hard to answer when people ask why I live here, why I love it. Some ask as if they already know; some think it's obvious - the museums, the art, the culture. How could I not love it?
There are those, though, that ask really wondering. How could I possibly love it? What could there be? Why would I possibly want to stay? Why not just visit like everyone else? Those are the ones that seem especially relieved; that act like we have some special bond when I answer "I love it, but we probably won't be here forever."
And that's how I usually answer. It feels safer, it feels true-er. How could I truly love this smelly rotten over-crowded place? This place that makes me want to cry from the cold from December to March? How it could it really be home? But it is. In a million ways. And not because of the museums and the theaters and the amazingly cool jobs that are no where else.
It's because it's a place where my friends are truly international. Where I have learned more about how other people live and work and love than I have ever before. This place has given me a world view, and a new appreciation of where I came from and what now surrounds me. The city itself no longer scares me, it feels no different than any small town I have lived in, actually. I recognize my neighbors, I pass people on my way to work that miss me when I go on vacation. That ask where I've been. I am not a small town girl lost in the city any longer; I am a girl, living in Hell's Kitchen among friends.
(From the link below) "New York is indeed a hard and impersonal megacity. It is also very much a city of small towns. These are communities without Zip Codes or identifiable borders, and their memberships cross economic, racial, and language barriers. They are founded on kindnesses."
When I came here I was scared, and I felt very much alone. There are still people in my life that have perfected lectures on how babied I am, how incapable. But I am living here, in this place, and making it. Truly finding my way and digging in and enjoying it . . . I truly feel there is nothing I cannot do, no where I cannot go and be okay. In fact, not just be okay - but thrive. I love this place. For all it's taught me and all it's provided for me. I may not live here forever, but it will always truly be home.
And I'm not the only one who loves it! Check it out - http://nymag.com/news/articles/reasonstoloveny/index.html
Sunday, December 18, 2005
And, for the record, so do Sam and I. Dave comes to town for amazingly short stints approximately twice a year. And every single time, it's been good times. He's known Sam since they were both little and I love seeing them together. They have a million inside jokes and twice as many stories about people I'll never meet, and I never feel left out. I never feel like a third wheel. And that makes *me* love him all the more.
He's the best best-friend-in-law ever. Hands down.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
So my company party was Friday. It's something I always have mixed feelings about. We've never had one that wasn't directly after some sort of company upheaval and therefore always had this tinge of uneasiness about them. I always hope for the best, but it seems I'm always itching for the door come the second hour.
This year, it was very different. They bussed (school buses!) all of us down to the meat packing district to a club named "ciello" and we had it all to ourselves from 5pm to 10pm. This year, for the first time, we were also invited to bring our "others" and THAT was awesome too. Almost everyone did, and it was great to hang out with the people we often only get to hear about. And since Sam's practically an official member of XM by now, it was cool he got to come and hang out as many of my co-workers are good friends of his.
And hang out we did. We drank from the top-shelf open bar (and I got tipsy for the first time in FOREVER), ate a magnificent dinner and danced danced danced. It was truly barrel of monkeys fun. We stayed til the very very very end, and then hopped into John's mini and back to our hood to our neighborhood bar, The Gaf, which happened to pick this night to celebrate FESTIVUS. Airing of grievances, feats of strength and all. James, John, Sam and I sat at a bar and made plans for future adventures a while til I totally pooped out (midnight or so). As I headed for the door they headed for the dart board.
It was a brilliant night. Once again I am reminded that I work with the best people EVER. I've been really struggling with trying to feel "christmas-ey" lately, with all the work I've been doing, and this night? Ironically, nailed it. I'm ready for the holidays. I'm ready to celebrate this past wonderful magical year and begin the next.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
So I've been listening to our ceremony music today. We've had a lot of people ask for CDs of it, and while I've been burning discs (and designing intriguing sites all about deodorant, of course), I've been listening to these songs on repeat.
And, well. Um. I don't know how to begin to say what's on my mind. Music has always been important to me. It's so entwined in my memories that often songs cannot be separated from their corresponding events. En Vogue's "Whatta Man" reminds me of Jamie Johnson in the red metro convertible. Godspell's "Day by Day" will always remind me of my friend Mark. I will never hear Madonna's Lucky Star without thinking about how on my first date, Lance and I danced to just that song. Or how (god help me) during Color Me Badd's "I Adore Mi Amore" Scott Haden saved me the humiliation of sitting by myself the Homecoming I got stood up and asked me to dance. Even recently I listen to "Montana Skies" by John Denver to escape this city a bit, remembering how I played it on repeat as I painted in the mountains this summer.
Music has always been important to me. Partly because a lot the people I love most adore it so, and thereby help me adore it. Revere it. Stand in its uncompromising power to move the spirit.
And today, today has reminded me of all that and more. These songs coming rushing at me with a power I cannot describe. The lyrics I so carefully listened to, printed out and ruminated over for months now hold an entirely new meaning. I cannot hear the music without picturing a ravishing sunset; feeling the wind blow across the fields. It takes me straight to everyone I love most, just like it took me to *the* one I love most just months ago.
But what's different this time, is I don't hear what's actually playing. I hear Nathan's voice filtering across the green at me. Hear his breath in the mic and his fingers on the strings. I hear Leslie's voice reaching up among the stars and can clearly see Ryan dancing behind the piano as the music picks up. I hear, during 100 names, Sam's voice whisper in my ear, "Ryan is amazing." I remember hearing Les sing that very song in my garage and still tear up at just the memory of its beauty. I love listening to Concrete and Clay and being able to picture Lance rocking back and forth with this amazing smile as he beat the bongos. Or, dear lord, Scott putting Huey Lewis AND the News to shame during Power of Love.
That was one of the greatest gifts we were given at our wedding. These people taking their time and their talents and doing nothing less than giving us something time can never fade or lessen. They gave me - us - something I can never thank them enough for. They took this little spot of grass in Olathe, Kansas and turned it into magic. It was open and sweeping and the wind blew through it, and yet they filled every inch of it. They filled it with love and hope and everything I had dreamed of. I don't believe I'll ever be able to find the words to thank them.
But I do know that every time I listen to this playlist, from now until I'm 80 years old, I will hear them playing, them singing . . .and I will thank the gods that they were there. That they gave us so precious a gift.
And I will forever be trying to find a way to thank them.
Monday, December 12, 2005
So Sam and I made a whirlwind trip to Kansas this weekend to go to a wedding. The groom had been in our bridal party, and Sam was in his.
I was the typical "girl with usher number 2" whom no one knew.
I hate being that girl. I'm not so good at making friends - take that back. I'm pretty decent with complete strangers. Put me in a room where no one knows me and I'll chat you up. On the street, waiting for a bagel? No problem. You'll know my whole life story and we'll be trading emails. But in a room filled with friends of Sam's I have never met?
I am as socially inept as a twelve year old girl in braces and glasses in a room full of high school football players.
I'm nervous, I'm antsy. I'm quiet and try to just stay out of the way. I want to be myself, but we all know my first impression is often a bit bitchy and while this is information I was told fifteen years ago - it has resided in my brain and made me absolutely terrified of coming off that way now.
To Sam's friends. To their wives. I don't want to be *that* wife. You know the one. The one that somehow captured the fun guy, the guy that was always a ball of excitement and adventure. . . and *god*, what DOES he see in her?
So I'm there and the wives, they are ever so kind to me. They act like I've been around forever. They ask about my life and what I do and they invite me to sit with them and dear lord, I feel like I just got invited to sit with the cool kids. And I have a blast. We snark about the DJ and laugh about our husbands. They tell me stories I've never heard and I go make a bar run to get them more wine. It was so fun. And I feel like maybe, just maybe, I made some new friends. And that makes me happy.
What else makes me happy? Speaking of me being a bit bitchy? Their wedding was nice, but ours? I liked it better. That's right, I said it. Ours was better. Hee. And I know it's awful to say - but I took a special kind of joy thinking as we were going through "I'm glad we did this and not this." I guess you make so very many decisions in the rush of it all and kind of just hope it worked out, and you *think* it did, but it's hard to tell. There are a lot of "what if's." And this weekend ended them all for me.
I loved our wedding the first time, reliving it in my mind this weekend again, I loved it all the more. I wouldn't change a thing. Not one small, tiny, infinitesimal thing.
I'm guessing this is how all brides feel. At least, I hope so.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Despite turning my back on the systems of belief that hold possession of this holiday, it is still one of my favorites. Despite not ever *truly* celebrating it's REAL purpose, I cannot help but celebrate all that accompanies it. I listen to the music, I am enraptured by the stories, I am enthralled by the lights, the candles, the garland.
And of course, this is natural. Christmas, in many ways, is home. It is the time of year you remember the itching of days when you were small, the trips home when you were in college. The grand reunions between you and everyone you love most. Just the sound of carols takes me immediately to the Little Theater, with my friends performing in the band, the chorus, the orchestra. I remember the first Christmas back from college, standing in Oakdale Park in the bitter cold, a million stars above us as Scott sang an Italian aria he had learned that semester we were all away. I remember sledding down Indian Rock, driving haphazardly through Salina, Kansas on the Tour DeLights . . . or even, most recently, carrying a giant wooden easel into the house for Sarah and then hours later driving myself to the emergency room, because I would not go earlier, would not miss her Christmas.
It's a magical time. It's filled with memories and sentimental traditions. How could I not love it? But you might not understand to the *extent* I am enthralled with this holiday. I fully embrace it and all it's ridiculous and tchotchkie-licious remnants. I adore for far more than the memories and warmth it has given me throughout the years.
It's greater than that.
And no, I don't' mean the birth of Jesus.
And, yes, that's exactly what I'm referring to.
This holiday stands alone to me, in the giant list of overly-marketed holidays, as the one that truly has a wonderful, magical, amazing message we should be shouting about. Ringing bells, grasping hands, lighting candles, raising wreaths. Not because of a messiah, not because of who this child was. But THAT he was. And how the world has since responded.
The world responded. That is what I find so very magical. This holiday isn't about giving presents or babies' birthdays or magical men and their deer to me. It's about the smallest of beings and the course of the world. It's about hope.
It's the promise to each of us that great change can come. Great change does happen. In the most remote of places, on the quietest of nights; in the smallest of beings.
Greatness exists. It does not shout, it does not render terrifyingly. It cries against the wrong, it whispers to a world ready to hear it. And it can be heard.
The smallest of humans changed the course of humanity. It can be done. There is love; there is hope. There is greatness.
And whether you believe that small babe born thousands of years ago truly walked the earth as the son of god, or whether you take this tale as just that - a tale told within the confines of a belief - the message stands as strong.
There is still a story of a small babe, born in the hardest of times; who, just by his appearance began to change the path of a world gone wrong. And that, to me, is worth celebrating. Worth revering. Worth taking to heart.
There is always hope to change the world. And none too small to do so.
Merry Christmas, my friends. Here’s to us doing just that, finding a way to change the course. In the spirit of an incredibly brilliant story.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
This song reminds me of him - of us. I remember the first time I heard it I thought it was perfect - it was the two of us, with all our plans and hopes. Lives stretched out in front of us, filled with dreams and wishes and concrete foundations.
I always thought meeting the love of my life would go hand in hand with abandoning those foundations; compromising those dreams. And then, I met Sam - and it wasn't so much about compromising as knowing I could run as far as I wanted and never be behind. Explore and build and know I was never alone. I feel like what we have is right because, among other reasons, we *both* feel like that.
That we have all the sky we need.
You turn a blue eye to me
and you look right through me
You said, “Define what you think
freedom means, if you want freedom”
“’Cause we can wake up this lullaby town –
and burn through every red light we found
lift a dustcloud, break the speed of sound
We could break free…”
“If you want to run,
I’ll pack my suitcase
and if you want to stay,
I’ll make a front door key
and if you need space
to fly free,
take all the sky you need”
If I stand on the rooftops
I look down on my story
and it swallows me
Beyond the horizon
the tail lights, the glory
will you follow me?
I need to know who I am
I’m like a moth in your hand
Do I fly or stand
Or fall on my knees?
One good woman
makes a one woman man
She’ll keep your head straight
keep you walking a plan
You dream too big
the crystal ball breaks
Never turn your back
on a woman who waits
Thanks, Ellis Paul. You rock.