I was going to call this entry ‘tea and sympathy’ but the reality is that it’s actually pizza, coca cola, and Nyquil. It’s new year’s eve, and instead of going out, or cooking a sumptuous dinner, I’m sittng in bed, pumped full of cold meds, and in a kind of drug-induced Otherspace where everthing seems a bit warped and reality and I aren’t quite connected.

I posted about resolutions last night, so nothing to cover there, and yet, there’s something about this date screams for an overview of the past year, and a plan for the future.

The thing is, I’m just not a goal oriented person. People ask me where I want to be in five years, in ten, and I can come up with socially acceptable answers, but they’re as vague as my resolutions were.

I’m not sure whether this is good or bad.

And just to be clear, it’s not that I’m without ambition, it’s just that naming goals means you have to stick to them, and what I want now might be very different from what I want five years from now, which would mean that I spent five years working towards something useless, or at least unsatisfying.

Anyway, I’m sitting here with a small dog keeping me company (Zorro, because Cleo flees in terror if I sneeze) watching cheesy Disney movies because I don’t have to use my brain to keep up, and trying to come up with something coherent to write about.

Except that I’m not coherent at all.

Cuz I’m in Otherspace.


I looked up from my desk about an hour ago, and saw the most fabulous evening sky. The main part of it was all grey and wintry, looking colder than it actually is, with feathered clouds above the trees, and then, from the west (which, because my office window faces south is the right), streaks of vibrant pink and orange appeared. Alas, the camera was downstairs, and even if it hadn’t been, the angle was wrong to attempt a picture.

Just as it’s evening, as I write this, so today is the evening, nay, the night, of this year. I’ve thought a lot about resolutions, and such, but I’m not going to post a whole list of them, or anything. I have this theory, you see, that the reason most of us don’t make good on our resolutions is that we try to change everything, all at once, and it gets overwhelming, and so we give up. So, just as I’ve tried to make it a rule that I do at least one productive thing every day, I’m going to resolve in very vague forms: to learn something new, to make a new friend, to help someone, and to do something to improve myself. Is this cheating? I don’t think so.

Despite what I posted yesterday, I did not take down the Christmas stuff. I’m going to enjoy it all for another day or so, and then take it down on Sunday, and as a reward, I will change the calendar page – it was always something I looked forward to doing as a child, and I still find a small bubble of delight in doing so as an adult.

Sometimes, at least, I’m easily pleased.

Post Christmas Blahs.

We woke before dawn so that Fuzzy could take my parents to the airport. I didn’t go along because they had two more bags than they arrived with (due to their nearly incessant shopping), and because Fuzzy was going directly to work after leaving them off. The plan had been that I was going back to bed, but did that happen? Of course not.

I’m pathetic. As soon as everyone was gone, I made a cup of tea and sat staring at the Christmas tree. Honestly, I’m thirty-four years old, and should not miss my mother five minutes after she’s out of the door. It’s not as if we don’t email daily, and talk almost as often, by phone. But it’s not the same. On a visit, emotions are heightened, and we’re both far more mushy, snarky, and sensistive than we would be if we still lived in the same neighborhood.

I finally went back to bed around seven, after watching a couple episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on television, more for noise than because I really wanted to watch it. I mean, they were episodes I have on DVD (my collection, thus far, only goes through season four – must fix that.)

In my family, we generally leave Christmas decorations up until at least New Year’s Day (and sometimes Epiphany), using that day to clean up mentally as well as physically, but suddenly the tree seems dejected without extra people here to enjoy it, and so I’m considering tearing everything down tomorrow rather than waiting for Saturday. It’s only two days, but it makes a difference.

While I don’t generally get depressed during the holidays, the post-Christmas blahs hit me hard. I think it’s because the lights and pine-scented happiness hide the dinginess of winter, and make the cold, bleak weather seem cozy, rather than confining.

Added to my sudden blah-mood is that Fuzzy’s got to go on a trip to Virginia in a couple weeks – far too soon – and while we’d talked about me going, I really don’t want to spend the money when we’re just getting into the flow of things here, and while I WANT to see Virginia – I don’t particularly like to travel in January.

In any case, I’m sure by morning I’ll feel better – a good night’s sleep and the realization that my house is MINE again tend to do wonders. Meanwhile, I’m mulling over the concept of New Year’s resolutions, but that’s a separate entry.


My mother has become addicted to the game Bejewled while she’s been visiting me. Every morning, I’ve found her sitting at my desk, moving the glowy shapes around the screen, and smiling at the sounds – clicking sounds – like pearls on a necklace rubbing together, shattering sounds – like the most gentle glassy crash through a window, explosive sounds – the perfect cherry bomb, and fantasy sounds, not unlike the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s transporters.

Admittedly, it’s my own fault that she’s hooked on this game. After all, if I hadn’t purchased a new cell phone, and started playing it myself, if I hadn’t downloaded the game from Pop-Cap, she’d never have heard of it.

But I did.

Then, of course, I made the mistake of showing it to my stepfather, who things computer Solitaire is the alpha and omega of gaming fun. I thought he’d find, as I do, that there’s something zen-like in the playing of this game. (All through NaNoWriMo, I’d do 500 words, then play two games, 500 words, then play – it kept me sane, and let my mind wander to the next scene I needed to write.) Instead, he said, “No, it’s far too overwhelming for me,” and told my mother to try it.

And so, more often than not, she’s excused herself, over this last week, to “go check email” only to give herself away by not lowering the volume on my computer, when she begins to feed her digital addiction. “I like the sounds,” she says, in the same tone a pot-smoker would use to share the joys of being high. “They’re so pretty!”

She’s already displaying disturbing junkie-like tendencies – whining that she wants to play right now, and that I should turn off my game to allow it. “I’m leaving in the morning. I’m your only mother. I birthed you from my loins.” If I hadn’t handed her a mug of strong coffee not five minutes prior, I’d have been convinced she was in caffeine withdrawl. As it is, I think her hands were trembling.

So, what did I do? Well, I have not given up the computer yet, as evidenced by this entry, but I did make her unpack her data-key (aka USB drive) and, because I’m a good daughter (even if I don’t keep the fridge stocked with Milano cookies all the time), I gave her a copy of the program. (Shhh! Don’t tell!)

I’ll be logging off soon, heading to bed so I can see her off tomorrow morning at five. And she – she’ll be up here, playing Bejewled.

At least the game uses the mouse, which keeps her from banging on my keyboard, the way she usually does.

Note: The actual game is Bejewled 2 Deluxe.

Film at Eleven

As we do whenever there’s a news event with global impact, we spent last night and most of today fluttering between our individual activities and CNN, watching coverage of the Tsunami aftermath in Southeast Asia. We have friends in Malaysia, Thailand, and India, and are understandably concerned.

I blame my mother for this disaster. Well, not really. But it has to be more than coincidence that something happens every time she visits – this tsunami, an earthquake in California last Christmas, a flu epidemic in Languedoc when we were there, and the time she visited me in South Dakota we woke up the morning after her arrival to find that Princess Diana had died.

I don’t have words to describe the sympathy I feel for the victims of this disaster, or the survivors. They’re in my thoughts, though, of course.

I do have words to describe the fact that whether my country aids other countries, or not, is based on political advantage, but I’m not going to utter them here. You can guess what they are, I’m sure – most are four letters long.

My brain is tired tonight, my muse evidently sleeping. Sounds like a plan to me, so goodnight, and see y’all on the flip-side.

Romantic Notions

WarriorPoet(2), a friend of mine from Open Diary, suggested that I write an entry about an alternative life in which, instead of ever meeting Fuzzy, I was an international jewel thief. On the surface, it’s a romantic notion – going all Carmen Sandiego and hopping from continent to continent, spending a week browsing through the Louvre, or having romantic one-night stands in Barcelona or Milan, dancing through Carnival in Rio.

But the thing is, even in my fantasy, that’s not a life I’d want. Oh, I can appreciate the romance of it, the thrill, the sense of daring and fun, but a life on the lam is no kind of life at all.

Here’s my real fantasy – I want to be an old-style foreign correspondent. There’s this book called Paris to the Moon that I read a couple of years ago – it’s a series of essays about an American couple with a young child experiencing life in Paris. The author was freelancing for The New Yorker at the time, and the book is a compilation of his work. The life they led – writing in the morning, experiencing life in French and English – going to cafes and public swimming pools and museums – that fascinated me. That’s what my alternative life would be – me holed up in a garrett or loft in some extremely quaint European city, and having little adventures disguised as trips to the market, an afternoon of shopping, late evenings listening to jazz in obscure clubs, early mornings sipping coffee and nibbling on croissants or beignets – and writing about it all – for money.

I blame these romantic notions on my mother, who has a Sweet 16 lecture we all received as we hit that age – “See Europe!” she told my cousins and me.

I also blame Jo March, the fictional character created by Louisa May Alcott in Little Women. When I was nine years old I stapled a red bow to my black velvet beret, and tucked my hair up inside it, whenever I wanted to write. I filled pages and pages with nonsense, none of which was ever complete. (I do the same thing now, when I have time, except that my vocabulary has improved and I don’t wear the hat any more.)

Rilke once told a young poet who sought advice, that if you wake up and all you can think about is writing, you’re a writer.

Words flow through my brain on a near constant basis, and I am ever so madly in love with pen and ink and text on screens. Writing isn’t all I want to do, but it’s the thing that never goes away.

But it’s just a romantic notion.

Obligatory Christmas Night Entry

It’s been a quiet Christmas at Chez Meliss, but that’s not a bad thing. We spent the morning opening presents – I now have a spiffy new hat, scarf, and bag to add to my collection of accessories – and sipping coffee, spent the early afternoon brunching on ham and eggs courtesy of a recipe gleaned from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and spent the rest of the day puttering – my husband napped, my stepfather worked on editing a document, my mother fed her addiction to Bejeweled on my computer, and I finally learned how to thread the sewing machine she gave me four years ago.

This evening, we broiled salmon and steamed asparagus for a simple but tasty dinner, and watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which dvd was provided for me by Santa Fuzzy. (I’m actually watching it again as I type this, and letting the fanfic part of my brain ponder some new ideas. I haven’t written any fiction or fanfic since NaNo, even though I’ve been writing every day, and Snape is starting to whisper to me again…and the thing is, fanfic warms me up for writing my own stuff…also, I got a nifty book of Latin quips (also from Santa Fuzzy) that I’m dying to use.)

I’m hesitant to list the rest of the gifts I received, because really, it’s not ABOUT that, but I’m tickled by the two books on quilting that are currently sitting by my bed – I’m planning a wedding quilt for a couple of friends – and I received a pair of throw pillows that my mother designed and made, using scans of greeting cards I’ve given her, and some really amazing fabric. They’re gorgeous.

Tomorrow (Sunday) my aunt and cousin are driving over from Shreveport, LA, and bringing food – we’re cooking a London Broil to go with whatever they bring – and that should be nice. Or at least interesting. I’m so accustomed to family being 2500 miles away, that I’m a bit thrown by having anyone within driving distance.

My parents will be here through Tuesday evening, and as much as it’s nice having them around, I’m also happy that this visit is drawing to a close. I’m tired and cranky from living on a ‘normal’ schedule instead of the sort of off-kilter schedule that Fuzzy and I generally keep, and I am anxious to hole myself up in a room with music and quilt pieces, and not have to be social.

Noche de Paz

Noche de paz, noche de amor
Todo duerme en derredor
Entre los astros que esparcen su luz
Bella anunciando al niño Jesús
Brilla la estrella de paz
Oh, brilla la estrella de paz

“Midnight” mass begins at 10:30 PM at the local Episcopalian church, but the fact that it ends and midnight rather than starting at midnight doesn’t make it any less magical, though it was probably a degree or two warmer.

Somehow, Christmas Eve is more special when it’s cold out, when you can see your breath hovering in the starlit sky just before you enter the church. Then, the cold night air is replaced by the warmer air inside, laced with pine and holly, melted wax, wisps of smoke, and a trace of incense leftover from the earlier, family-friendly service.

The church wasn’t packed tonight, but it was nicely full, and while most people were dressed up, a few were not. Any other time, I’d not have cared, to be honest, but dressing up helps the night feel more special, enhances that sense of being out of time, and in time, all at once.

The thing about Christmas Eve mass is this: the music and the incense and the lit trees on the altar, and the pine and holly in the church mix together to form this unburstable bubble of delight and love in my heart – for this one hour (well, ninety minutes, really), I can put all my skepticism aside, and just get lost in the sound of 100 strangers singing “Silent Night,” a capella, in the dim light of wax candles.

For the three verses of that song, we were not anglo or hispanic or black, we were not men or women, we were not agnostic or Christian, or anything else, except just people.

And for me, that is the magic of the season.

If you celebrate it, I wish you a Merry Christmas. If you don’t, I hope your December holidays are or were as lovely as mine. And no matter what, I wish everyone a happy and successful, and peaceful, 2005.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.


I hate the game UpWords. I hate it with a passion. I hate it the way I’ve never hated anything before. I hate it as much as I love Scrabble – and I reaaaaaaly love Scrabble.

It’s a completely irrational hatred.

On the surface, the two games are similar, you have tiles with letters, and you make words, but Scrabble is all about using your vocabulary to create obscure words with the seven tiles given. There are blanks. There are double and triple word scores. There is some TALENT involved. UpWords is Scrabble’s white trash cousin. Instead of expanding the board by making new words, you stack tiles to manipulate existing ones. There are no blank tiles. And you can ONLY use Q in combination with U.

My husband, the one who can’t spell, loves UpWords.

My parents, who are actually decent Scrabble players, love UpWords.

So, I guess I’m just a snob. A snob with enough of a Scrabble-induced guilt complex that I cannot stack letters because it feels like cheating.

Also, the average word is only four letters long, which is NOT terribly interesting. In fact, four letter words almost never appear in our Scrabble games, unless they’re words like “qaid” and “vole,” words that aren’t likely to be seen in an UpWords game. (In fact, it’s impossible to include “quaid” in an UpWords game, because of the Qu tile instead of just a Q tile. Hmph!)

My family thinks I dislike UpWords because I don’t always win it. This is not true. I recognize that not all of game playing is about winning. Indeed, I enjoy Phase 10 – and Scrabble – whether I win at them or not – but no matter what the score, I detest UpWords.

Winter Wonderland

22 December 2004
Click thumbnail for larger image.

Sleighbells ring.
Are you listening
In the lane
Snow is glistening.
A beautiful sight!
We’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland

The picture above was snapped earlier tonight, by Fuzzy, at my request. We had a day of snow today, and I wanted a picture of the Christmas lights, with the lawn still sporting it’s light frosting of whitestuff.

If I thought our street was cute before, and our neighborhood cozy, I think so even MORE today, when it was cold, grey, and wet. The pavement is rain-dark now, and somewhat icy, and the lawns are sporting the faintest dusting of snow, and with all the Christmas lights, it’s all very magical. I wanted to walk through the park, but Fuzzy said it’s too cold tonight.
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