Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year....

As part of my annual calendar wrap up, I look at the year in review online. The internet is a fantastic tool for researching pop-culture, and I find myself getting lost amongst the trivial topics of what our society deems important. I am particularly fond of lists. Top 10's are always interesting, and sometimes surprising: from New Year's resolutions to what became popular, and what waned. The best photos from National Geographic. The year's hottest music and movies.

But the best is always the most Google searched topics.
A telling example is Christmas Day's most popular queries:

  1. prime rib roast cooking time
  2. after christmas sales 2009
  3. is starbucks open on christmas
  4. what stores are open on christmas day 2009
  5. mele kaliki maka
  6. oklahoma road conditions
  7. walmart christmas store hours
  8. is best buy open on christmas
  9. iowa road conditions map
  10. mimosa
Okay, I get the prime rib thing, but Starbucks? WalMart hours? What kind of society do we live in that searches for Best Buy Christmas hours before the mimosas? Has Corporate America taken over our common sense? (Is common sense an oxymoron?)

I wish you a very happy new year, that you kiss your soulmate at midnight and all of your searches end with mimosas.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the day before Christmas....

I awoke with a panic. It was the day before Christmas; I had completed all of my shopping, wrapped the gifts, baked all the treats. What had I forgotten? I poured a cup of coffee and grabbed the paper in my normal relaxing morning ritual. Only I couldn't relax. I just knew there was one last thing to cross off my list....

Like a thunderbolt, it hit me. I had spaced going to the post office to mail my packages! In the trunk of my car they were out of sight, and completely out of mind. I would now have to stand in line for ages in the company of countless other procrastinators in festive holiday moods. The post office is the last place I planned on being on Christmas Eve, but it was imperative my mail was postmarked before midnight, so off I went.

The line was long. Really long. And people were grumpy. And smelly. But I finally reached the front and plopped my packages on the counter. The USPS guy looked like he had worked a season or two behind the counter, and kept glancing at the clock behind me, just over my head. He sleepily recited the standard mail jargon, charged me a fortune, and tossed the packages onto the conveyor belt. As an afterthought, I asked for a book of stamps to take with me.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Can I see what's available in Christmas stamps?"

USPS Guy: "We ran out of Christmas stamps. Everyone is mailing this year, and they didn't make enough to last until Christmas. I've got Hanukkah stamps, Kwanzaa stamps, museum stamps.... but no Christmas stamps."

Me: "Okay, then, let's see the museum stamps."

Me: "Uh, that's a Madonna and Child."

USPS Guy: "Yeah, that's all that's available. Sorry."

Me: "But that's Jesus! And Mary!"

USPS Guy: "Yeah, we ran out of the Snowman stamps the first week of December. I can see what else we might have back here....."

Me: "Merry Christmas. I'll take the museum stamps, please."


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Campers....

I am a city girl. Manhattan, London, San Francisco, Paris. Love them all. I could spend my life bustling from one museum to the next. Expose my palate to a different nationality every night. I love the smell of bus exhaust. The sound of horns honking. The feel of trains jiggling china off shelves. I'd gladly surrender my driver's license for a public transportation pass and live in the city.

So when I announced my engagement 6 years ago, my boss quietly said, "Does he know.... you don't go.... outside?"

You see, I married the guy who was everything nature. He would rather have a rectal exam than experience the frenetic life of the city. A day off meant all day fishing, or hiking, or climbing. Every weekend spent sleeping on the soil in his trademark one-man tent.

Waking to the sound of woodpeckers. One with the universe. Eschewing basics like electricity, plumbing and hygiene. Before I wandered into his scene, Matt contentedly spent his time waist-deep in snow-melt rivers, chasing trout and breathing clean air. He had no clue what was about to hit him.

And neither did I.

There were compromises. Of major proportions. Where would we live? Was Matt willing to buy a suit? Would I tempt fate and sleep under the stars? The negotiations were long and intense, but in the end both parties were satisfied.

Matt goes off to feed his soul in the wilderness with the boys (and by boys, I mean grown-up responsible sorts who like to hang out with bears, drink whiskey by the fire and have farting contests). But he did buy a suit, and has learned to appreciate theatre. Being a professional chef has opened many doors for him in the culinary world, and I have become accustomed to the star treatment we receive in fine restaurants.

I meet my refined, metropolitan friends in the city (and by friends I mean the kind of chums who wear nice shoes, love Broadway and talk about the latest paint colors). But I bought some hiking boots and didn't die when I came upon my first snake. Running into bear scat doesn't even scare me anymore.
We have gone camping, and it's not all that bad. In fact, sometimes it's pretty fun.

But we did have to get a bigger tent.