Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Yule Log

Well I guess we're technically halfway through 'the holidays'(as in both of 'em, plural). The days in between Christmas and New Year's Eve have always struck me as a meaningless little stretch of road, its spell of nothingness broken only by the occasional what-the-hell-happened-this-year articles along the side.

The best part of Christmas is probably the anticipation of it. As one who's helped raise a 4-yr-old and 6-yr-old for a couple years in there(as well as being a former 4-year-old myself)I remember it well. And after all that buildup, it seems Christmas blows its wad all too quickly. Within 10 minutes of opening presents on Christmas Day, the living room floor is a mass of wrapping paper and the kids have got Dad trying to figure out how to assemble all their stuff while Mom cleans up the mess. A lot more foreplay than action, as it were..

Okay, that was probably a weirdly irreverent analogy, Christmas as premature ejaculation, but then that's probably why you read this drivel of mine. For the weirdly irreverent analogies and the like.

Anyway. What gives Christmas its particular luminescence, even more than celebrating the birth of Christ, is the 'magic' connected with it, the popular legend of Santa Claus and his various helpers. Some very cool images there for somebody 4-8 years old or so, elves and flying reindeer and whatnot.. After you're about 9 or 10, you realize that Santa is usually just some homeless guy who goes back to the Breadline after the season's end, and that all the Christmas stuff is just stuff Mom and Dad bought at White Folks Mall or some other retail establishment--but the dream was nice while it lasted.

Like most dreams. I don't believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny anymore(though I have, as a significantly younger person, taken LSD, and therefore know that they can exist--or at least similar hallucinogenically-inspired apparitions), but I do still hold stock in the spirit of the season. I mean, you can(and really would do well to)do that stuff all year long, but at least Christmas gets you to behave a little better for a couple days in there. A little kinder, more generous with one's time and energy.

I love getting(and sending) Christmas cards, and often they're from somebody I hadn't heard from or thought about in awhile, a nice surprise. Got to see someone over this holiday season I'd grown up with here in town, played in bands together, but hadn't seen in 31 years. Boston in 1974 was the last time. We were both born in '54, which would make us 20 then and 51 now. By this reckoning, I figure we'll cross paths again in 2036, when we're both 82.

Two of the pictures on this blog site(Ben Drake & John Crain et al)were sent to me this Christmas by a lady I hadn't seen or heard from in years(though less than 31 of 'em), but which brought back a lot of memories, not just for me but others I shared the pictures with.

One card I really liked this year was from a friend, also my age, who now has 2 sons, age 6mos and 4 1/2 years. Both are sitting on Santa's lap, and the comment on the back of the card reads, "by the time these guys are in college, I'm gonna look like the guy in the middle!"
Those are the kinds of things that make Christmas for me. I'll take the presents too, though...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ode to Winter(and weekends)

Of the four seasons, I'd probably put Winter in there as a distant 4th as far as being my favorite. Fall is best, then Spring, and then Summer- and finally, by default, that 3-or-so-month period of snow and ice from January to March(and sometimes November to April). Never been much of a cold-weather person, even as a kid. As an adult, I loathe the whole affair: having to spend an extra 15-20 minutes every morning scraping ice and shit off the vehicle and warming it up to take me to work, having to insulate myself with extra layers of clothing, having to be careful as not to slide on the ice, etc..

But I gotta say. Freshly-fallen(or falling) snow is an experience unto itself. Seems to spread a hush, a stillness over everything it touches. You breathe in the silence of the moment and instantly feel at peace, with yourself and the world. Particularly on a Sunday morning when you don't have to drive through the shit to go to work. A very cool feeling this morning, seeing everything covered in a blanket of white, with more snow falling gently to the ground.

My dog is a happy guy in the backyard in most kinds of weather(except rain), but particularly in the snow. And he definitely stands out: 45 lbs of jet-black lab/spaniel, bounding about in the white snow. Daffy Dog.. Being a fairly wet snow, his paw-prints were "documented" all over the yard, scattered all about and looking like a Chinese Menu--or perhaps like one of those Family Circus cartoons where he traces one of the kids' circuitous paths from Point A to Point B, stopping all along the way to check out whatever..

So. A nice peaceful weekend here at chez Roundly. The kind you almost wait all week for, and are over much too quickly, but the effects of which send you into the coming week in just a little better stead. Eventually, it'll be Friday again, and hopefully a weekend just as nice as this one.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

How I'm Spending My Winter Vacation

Well, here I am on my 4th vacation day out of 7. Yes I know, Saturday and Sunday are already days-off(at least to non-retail workers), but they're still part of a 7-day block of time in which my services are not required. You've gotta have a couple days off in a row just to 'air out'.

Of course I'm talking about your psyche as well as your office shoes. I mean, if you work a full-time job, 40-or-so hours a week, most of your time every week is spent at work--not even figuring the commute, whatever that may be.( Fortunately I have about a 12-block distance , which takes about 5-7 minutes in the vehicle--but then I have to stay and work if the weather turns to shit, unlike the commuters who get to hit the trail). You spend more time with your co-workers than your family or friends.

After awhile, your co-workers take on a familial air, since you see so much of their ass. You're concerned about what goes on in their lives, whether Aunt Bessie's gonna have that operation or whether they get that big promotion. Some of them you get pretty fond of, to the point that they would probably be friends if you didn't already see them all day every day. And, like family members, they can get on your last nerves(or you on theirs).

Some offices here in town are incredibly tight-knit as far as the cameraderie, carrying over beyond 5 o'clock. I know of a couple Public Aid offices where the fellow workers all go out after work for drinks, and all play on ball teams(well, they're a bit younger too, so that's part of it- just more gas in the tank). Others, to the other extreme, are more like "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers", with little or no interaction among the zombie staff , who go silently, expressionlessly about their business--and where they probably have to put mirrors on the phones to see if people are still breathing!

Our office is somewhere in the middle. We all get along, and talk and joke among ourselves, and occasionally go out for drinks. Some folks pal around here and there outside of work, and some of my co-workers are on my e-mail list as far as jokes and such, but basically we all have our separate lives before 8:30 and after 5. Which I think is healthy. I think playing on a ball team with my co-workers would be a bit much as far as togetherness--sorta like dating the chick singer in your band. You gotta let those office shoes air out sometime, or they start to smell.

So what have I been doing for 3 days? Not much. Like my shoes, "airing out"..