Learning To Adult

I have three websites. One is a commercial site for chocolate and coffee, one is for promoting my books, and there’s this one – for whatever I damn well wish to write at any given moment.  Still here?  Buckle up, bumpy ride ahead.

This is going to be rather personal and probably a lot maudlin. Feel free to close the browser tab and I send no hard feelings if you do.  By way of explanation, a younger relative of mine is on the cusp of one of life’s greatest adventures – waving farewell to the parents and getting her own apartment. This got me remembering my own rite of passage. Those days are burned into my brain with the red-hot poker of nostalgia.

That’s the weirdest sentence I’ve yet written, but I stand by it. I can still remember the smallest of details. How the cheap wood floorboards creaked. The slam of the trunk of a Yellow Cab. The annoying crackle of a single paint-splattered speaker I laughingly called my ‘stereo system’. The squeaks of an air mattress every time I moved in the night.

Continue reading Learning To Adult

Happy New Year?

Try googling ‘alone on new years eve’ and you’ll be inundated with article titles that include the words ‘cope’, ‘freaking out’, ‘hate’, ‘depressed’ and ‘survive’.

Really? Really?

I love New Years eve. And New Years Day. And the whole week after New Years.  In my mindframe, it’s not a holiday. It’s a walk across a bridge into a fresh new year. I can leave my baggage at one end of the bridge and find new roads on the other side. My tradition is to take the first week of the new year off work, which helps me focus on my own needs and goals. I’ve spent December tidying up as many loose ends as I can manage, finishing projects, cleaning stuff up and generally tidying my life. I try not to take on any new projects or commitments in December – no new pressures are needed right then.

I say goodbye to the exiting year with a glass or three of bubbly and wake up to the new year watching my beloved Rose Parade. And then I take a deep breath and begin exploring this pile of new days, 365 of them, all heaped up and ready to dig into!

Many of my friends and family agonize over New Years Eve. I’ve noticed they feel a lot of social pressure to have a fabulous night out, whether anyone else expects it of them or not. There’s a lot of agonizing over finding someone to kiss at midnight. There’s a lot of plans for drinking to excess.  There’s that list of resolutions they’ve made and are already dreading.

So, let’s say you meet all those goals. You wake up on New Years day with a headache and a vague recollection of snogging someone who’s probably trying to remember who YOU are while reaching for the aspirin, too. Or even more awkwardly, they’re in your bathroom right now mooching all your aspirin. When they’ve finally finished messing up your kitchen, then drank all your coffee and evaporated, you’re left alone again, holding a resolution list and trying to figure out how to post something in Facebook that’ll make everything think your evening was fabulous, which will just make others like you feel the pressure to do the same. What did you have in common that might have kept you together longer than one night? Booze and the calendar?  The happily ever morning-after only happens in the movies.

You want a real happily ever after?  Resolve to life your life in ways that make you deeply happy, every day. And make others happy – be the kind of person someone might want to kiss at midnight the other 364 days of the year. Be nurturing of relationships. Nurture yourself! Don’t worry about what society expects of you on one night of the year – most of society isn’t living up to that hype either. Be content in who you are. Be happy that you’ve been gifted with a whole new year to do amazing things. And do have that champagne. It’s such lovely stuff.  Happy New Year!

It’s a Jeaney Halloweeney With Her Porch Pals

Halloween, 2005 was a special holiday, and I’ll tell you why.  Back then, my online life was just starting to blossom in the rather trendy livejournal community, but my longstanding relationship with  rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc continued to be a daily indulgence. I’d been consumed by that amazing newsgroup since about 1996-ish or so, and it had become a way of life. Certain MSTies from there were counted among my best of friends.

Jean Jackson was one of those. Jean was a remarkable woman for a heck of a lot of reasons.  She was kind. She was amazingly witty. In latter years, she painted a series of homages to famous works of art, but with a MSTie twist. Here is her gallery of these works.  “Sunday in the Park with Frank” is the print that we chose to purchase and I am grateful to own it.

Sadly Jean passed away suddenly and far too soon, in January, 2013.  She was quite partial to Halloween. It was her birthday.

For Halloween, 2005, Jean composed a Halloween tale that has become an annual treasured tradition.  As MSTies might say… “Enjoy it, won’t us?”

Porch Pals

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far too screwy for us to comprehend, there existed a plump and incandescent planet of legendary proportions, known for its rollicking good fun, as it was inhabited by beaming and globular beings of the botanic persuasion.

We, of course, would recognize the natives as ‘pumpkins’, but on their home planet, where they rule, eons of evolution freed from all known predators and an oppressive atmosphere, has allowed them the freedom of limitless self-expression and implanted in them a remarkable self-esteem of substantial vigor. It might do well for creatures of all Phyla to contemplate their philosophy and thereby profit from it.

Their gregariousness is legendary, and honored ambassadors representing innumerable systems of awesome dignity travel from far and wide in order to receive vegetative wisdom including, but not limited to, instructions for lightening up and boogying down. The more esoteric precepts are held in secret, not for human ears, until the time should come when we are more culturally advanced and initiated into its mysteries.

As we might imagine, such exuberance cannot be confined for long, and our pumpkin friends have nurtured a well deserved reputation for footloose proclivities, sightseeing wherever they might be welcomed and exhibiting an affection for schmoozing with creatures representative of the most weird the galaxy has to offer. Millennia ago, seeking strange new worlds, our pumpkin friends were booked for a Gourd Trek to planet Earth, guaranteed to offer not just delightful surprises, but also unique challenges for this rollicking and rambling species.

You see, their home world is clothed in a riot of reddish and yellow hues, flashing and sparkling heavens, and a firmament bathed in perpetual neon glow. In this context, of course, a pumpkinish aspect would be considered the height of urbane and noble solemnity, but on our planet, saturated with soothing blue-green tones, they would stand out like the proverbial festering digit.

The pumpkins, not wanting to cause undue alarm in more primitive species, had decided to disguise themselves as members of the already ubiquitous immobile terrestrial flora, and enjoy their sojourn as mere spectators, participating in Earthly events only when suspicions would not be aroused. Now, we might credibly wonder why such an adventurous species would restrain themselves in such a manner for protracted periods, and can only surmise that they considered it a small price to pay in return for fertile soil and wide open spaces, where the inhabitants could be easily persuaded to feed, water, and weed, and lavish them with care, as we might giddily harbor visions of extended pampering in exotic and opulent resorts.

Over time, the pumpkins grew to consider Earth a desireable destination spot for sabbaticals involving metaphysical discussions, loafing meditations, and the refined rejuvenation of necessary energies. Fortuitously, this annual voyage happened to coincide with an Earthly festival known as ‘Halloween’, and as our intergalactic visitors like nothing better than a good time, they participate in the celebrations with alacrity and every intention of graciously adding to the anticipated hilarity. Now, we all know by now that this benevolence has been manifested in allowing themselves to be harvested, transported, bathed and polished to a resplendent sheen, with formal and elaborate display at every retail center across the land, a homage to be envied by any sentient being in the known universe.

But it doesn’t end there, oh no – further tribute is lavished upon them. Earthlings, inspired to a creative frenzy, take our pumpkin guests lovingly into their own homes where, after proper oohing and ahhing reverence, commence to sculpt and fashion our friends into the most marvelous designs, hewing them into monuments of appropriate holiday ornamentation, each trying to out-do the other in gleeful exhibition of these commemorative performances to be enjoyed and reflected upon for many days. Now, oh dear, you might well conclude, this vegetal evisceration must cause regrettable discomfort, to say nothing of rendering mortal wounds on our innocuous friends. But here, happily, you would be mistaken due to one unrevealed fact – this bodily carving is an essential function in their life cycle, and actually facilitates in reproduction and proliferation! Let us observe subsequent events, with objective and logical consideration, where all will become clear.

After a nominal passage of time, while our pumpkin boarders have been the recipients of deserved veneration, they have been furtively accumulating a sufficient amount of indigenous biological material known to us as ‘mold’. Slowly, almost imperceptively, they begin to slather themselves from head to toe in this impermeable armor, preparing for the next stage of existence, while we are left, unfortunately, mourning their coming departure due to a substantial stench and anticipated oozing over every available surface. Our lament, howver, is their rapture, as they journey expeditiously to landfills and sewage treatment plants across the land, where they hibernate and ripen once again into former vitality.

With clever foresight, and unbeknownst to human perception, our pumpkin pals have germinated and sprouted innumerable spores, capable of a torpid existence as camoflage for their true character. They appear to us, cunningly, as ordinary and mundane, if somewhat colorful, popcorn kernals. Once again we take them into our homes, and with the proper application of heat and oil, they are jettisoned upward, where they might capture and store prodigious amounts of our solar currents and launch themselves on their homeward jaunt. Admittedly, many do not reach the upper atmosphere, and are destined to repeat the cycle here on earth. But, enough of them posess the capability to fashion oblique trajectories, maintain the necessary velocity to return home, and are left with pleasant memories, hauling sacks of souvenirs.

Upon arrival, they spend many months regaling their friends and acquaintances with tales of incomparable Earthling hospitality. In fact, so profuse is their praise that, even as we speak, residents of the Rutabaga Galaxy are packing their bags.

And now, The Weather.

We’re receiving word from the City Council that there was absolutely not a Pink Floyd Multimedia Laser Spectacular this weekend at Radon Canyon, that there was never a Pink Floyd Multimedia Laser Spectacular ever near Night Vale.


“Pink Floyd is not even a thing,” said the Council, in a very stern, but quiet, statement just received by me, here, via phone. The Council, and this is strange, the entire Council, not just a representative of the Council, but the entire Council, just issued this statement, all speaking in unison, just now, over the phone; that Night Vale citizens are prohibited from discussing any lights or sounds coming from Radon Canyon this past weekend, and that they should just stop remembering Pink Floyd shows altogether. The Council reiterated that there is no way that they are huge Floyd fans, privately using public funds on a laser-powered seance to talk “hard-rockin’ classic jams” with the ghost of original front man Syd Barrett, and that Syd “wouldn’t even say anything juicy anyway, because he is such a gentleman, and an artist.”


This did not happen at all.

I have now listened to 24 episodes of Welcome to Night Vale this weekend and am all caught up. I’m also a fragile, cracked shell of my former self.  Please produce more.

Of New Years, Resolutions, and To-Don’t Lists

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” — T.S. Eliot

My new year always starts in December. I try my best during this month not to take on any new projects or commitments. I’ve just spent the previous 11 months taking on far more than I should (it’s a weakness. Everything looks shiny!)  Now it’s time to clear the decks so that once again I can give in to the tempting projects that 2013 will dangle in front of my nose. There’s no use in resolving not to take on new things. I know myself too well. Besides, I enjoy them!

And so I shall continue to knock longstanding projects off my to-do list, and revel in seeing it shrink. December-me finds doing that addictive and exhilarating.

The second phase of my New Year tradition is to take a vacation the first week of the new year.  It’s not for traveling – it’s for me sliding into the new year on my own terms, ignoring the clock, not feeling rushed, letting my mind settle, and just enjoying a week of being free of that dratted to-do list.  I shall live by the rules of the magical to-don’t list.

But you just know that somewhere in the second week of 2013, sometime REALLY shiny is going to reflect it’s light right into my eyes. And off we go again.

 (Click the cartoon to embiggen and enjoy)