Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolute. Kind of.

Resolutions, resolutions... This is supposed to be the day where we all sit down, think about how shitty the previous year has been and make unrealistic goals we will only work at until about January 27th.  It's a time-honored tradition, it is.

I have taken a break from resolutions for several years (at least). The best reasoning to this is that it was just another thing that my psyche could latch on to and beat the shit out of me over. So not worth it. This year, however... I want to give it a go.  Here are my top three resolutions that I will try to keep in order to make me a more sane and happy person.
  1. Do things for myself to please myself
  2. Go after what I want
  3. Learn to love myself
I posted the lyrics to this song way back in January 2010. It's been a long time, but the words still ring true.

All will be well
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself
All will be well
You may ask me how but only time will tell

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Goat Rodeo Sessions (Review)

A "goat rodeo", according to Urban Dictionary, is "about the most polite term used by aviation people (and others in higher risk situations) to describe a scenario that requires about 100 things to go right at once if you intend to walk away from it." Fortunately, not only did everything "go right at once", but it almost seems as if stars aligned. That good is the new collaboration album from Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, titled "The Goat Rodeo Sessions". There are also two great vocal guest performances by Aoife O'Donovan.

This album has been on my wishlist thanks to a bit of a Christ Thile musical crush and it certainly didn't disappoint. Thile has grown up since his Nickel Creek days. He's eclipsed Sean and Sara Watkins and come into his own.  The showboating we remember from Nickel Creek and his solo career is still there, but there is so much substance to this album that it's hard to compare them.

I've long admired Edgar Meyer as an incredibly versatile musician. His bass-playing brings foundation, quirk, and playfulness at the same time to the quartet. I don't know much of Duncan, but he holds his own and grabs the spotlight, no doubt. Ma is, as always, a solid, glittering rock of a musician and an artist. Was he ever a diamond "in the rough"? For inattentive listeners, Ma's performance may blend in more than the others, but it really seems to be the mortar holding things together. It is oddly most noticeable when it's absent.

The Goat Rodeo Sessions is equal parts nostalgic, frantic, and ecstatic. It's a great, whirling, windy ride of gorgeous melodies, tight harmonies and tangible camaraderie.  Goat Rodeo has surpassed genre boundaries (which is no small feat) and brought us an incredible work of art. In the words of Stuart Duncan, "It's bound to work. It's just music." It's as simple as that, and deliciously more complicated at the same time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Last Day

Well, today is my last day off until the New Year! That sounds so much more dramatic than the four days that it is.  I'm spending the time with my grandparents. We're watching Rick Steve's "Italy's Cities" (again) and there is a constant batter about Italy's "greatness" floating through this house.

Really I'm just killing time until I get to see the "little kids". The "little kids" actually aren't so little any more. They're my three youngest siblings and they range from 14 to 20. Even though they're older, it seems like they'll always be the "little kids" in my mind. Regardless, they're pretty awesome.

Great steampunk chic ring I got for Christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I-I'll H-Have A Green Christmas!

We have... NO snow! Just a teeny bit excited about that. While as a kid I loved the idea of a White Christmas, I also didn't have to deal with shoveling snow, scraping cars, or the heating bill. Now I couldn't be happier when I can still see the green grass.

Had a wonderful Christmas Eve with my family. We all went over to my Aunt's for her annual Christmas Eve party (calamari and conchigliere with clams, alongside pierogis and stuffed cabbage are traditional). After the party, I accompanied my grandparents to midnight mass.

We slept in a little this morning and exchanged gifts this morning over a delicious breakfast casserole that Grandma and I put together yesterday afternoon. Now, we're enjoying a little bit of "Rick Steve's Italy" (one of my gifts to them) before we go to another Aunt's for Christmas dinner with the rest of the family.

Happy Holidays.

(By the way, the title was me mocking Elvis' "Blue Christmas")

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Hate the Holidays

Well, I’m back to my normal self. Apparently yesterday was the breaking point of the annual “try-to-ruin-her-holiday-spirit” game. All it takes is one imbecile driving an SUV, or a woman who can't stop complaining about line length, or over-sugared kiddies screaming their little heads off in public. I’m fed up. Fed up with the materialism, the excessive sweets, rich foods, and greediness. I’m just done. I can’t win. I can’t maintain a plastic holiday cheer smile for one more freakin’ day.

Call me a Grinch, I don’t care. My current plan is to hunker down in my mini-bunker of an apartment and ignore the world until January 2. Any one feel led to share their Y2K rations? C’mon, you know if you saved those up you’re still trying to get rid of them now. I promise not to steal all the toys and the roast beast from Whoville.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Student Loan Sorrows

I have my BA and I'm pretty proud of it. I loved my school experience and I think I'm a better person for it. However, lately I've been wondering if it's worth it. I'm not working in my field and now it appears I took out student loans for nothing as I'm not using it in anyway.

At 18 years old, I knew nothing about finance. I didn't even fully realize what it meant to take out loans and to repay all of that money. Now I sit here and I'm pinching pennies and scrimping to make ends meet thanks to those stupid decisions almost ten years ago.

What about you? Did you take out student loans? Are you working in your field? Either way, was it worth it in your opinion? What would you have done differently?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Waiting for Sanity ...I mean Santa.

As a kid, Christmas couldn't come soon enough. As soon as Thanksgiving had passed (and I mean that quite literally --think Black Friday morning), we were begging to bring the decorations out and get a tree to put up and decorate. Overkill, much? Yeah, just maybe.

Now it's not so much waiting for the event, the decorating, or the food as it is waiting for the time off of work. Even in a job you love, the time between NOW (whenever that maybe) and THEN (the mystical time off of work for a holiday) is i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y long. Not even I'm-a-twelve-year-old-kid-who-can't-wait-to-die-of-asphyxiation-thanks-to-a-pine-allergy incredibly long.  It's like the time is moving so slowly that it feels like we're almost moving back in time.

Happy Holidays and (to all you working folks) hang in there. A day off is coming soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Low, Low, Low

Do you ever just have those days where nothing seems right? Whatever you do, see, hear, say, think is just a millstone tied around your neck. I hate these days. I just feel so low and nothing can shake me from it.

These are the days I feel my isolation the most. Even though I've been here for two years, and it seems like I've been here forever, I live a pretty solitary existence. Being surrounded by people is never a remedy for loneliness.  It doesn't matter that I live near my family or have people I hang out with occasionally.

I miss having people that I can just be myself with. Everything about my life right now feels like an act: work, family, friends, maybe even my writing? Not necessarily in a bad way, but it really is. OK, let me take that back. In almost every way this is a bad thing. I hate that I have to pretend to be someone else in order to live life in peace.

A couple years back, I challenged myself to be honest with every person I encountered. You know what? People don't want the truth. They want to see something that matches up with their belief system all wrapped up in a boring box with a bow on top. God forbid we step outside the box or except people the way they are.

Urgh. Can you tell I'm a little fed up?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why Charlie Brown's Tree is My Favorite

It really is. I know it sounds cheesy, but I like it for the sentiment. A cheap twig on a wooden stand that was put up in the spirit of love and giving means more than the tallest, most beautiful tree anyone could ever dream up.

When it comes to decorating for the holidays, I favor simplicity over everything else. The tree doesn't need to be weighed down with 50 pounds of ornaments. No themed pillows, throws, or wall hangings for me.  A simple tree decorated with things that remind me of the good things, a basket of pinecones, a stack of gifts waiting for their recipients, and a cup of cider? I'm all set.

I've had to scale back it's easy to forget that this time of year is not about materialism, receiving gifts, and feeling the license to indulge. It's about people you love, giving, and goodwill.

Shoot me now. I'm sounding sappy!