I promise to play nice

Nothing says holidays like a cheese log — Ellen DeGeneres

Christmas is next Monday. And cheese logs are disgusting. Maybe I should be more excited about it. Christmas, I mean. But considering I don’t have children, I don’t have the opportunity to see it through their eyes and experience that child-like wonder about it and re-think the whole concept of Christmas.

I suppose I could be more excited if I had a significant other to share the holiday with. But I doubt that would happen. I’m not a traditionalist in that sense and it wouldn’t make any sense for me to be in a relationship with someone who puts in a lot value into something that strikes me as commercial and a bit capitalist. How much you love someone is equal to how much you spent on their gift. That’s my take on it, so no thanks.

Don’t even get me started on the religious aspect of Christmas. I respect all religions. Just don’t shove it down my throat or I will make sure the last words you say to me will be “You are going to burn in Hell for that.” To which I might reply, “I’ll see you there.”

I’m really not Scrooge. And let’s be honest, Scrooge has nothing on me.

I enjoy the holidays, usually on my terms. If that makes me sound a little inflexible, well… too bad. For me to enjoy the holidays in the company of others (regardless of whether they are friends or family), I have to want to be in their company. Seriously, who wants to be around someone who doesn’t want to be there? Serious killjoy vibes going off and who wants to feel that? And quite frankly, for anyone to tell the person who doesn’t want to be there to loosen up and give it a chance, just doesn’t understand or is at least lacking some empathy for that person. Guilting someone, bullying someone into putting on a happy face for a certain occasion will lead to nothing but grief in the future. Passive-aggressive, anyone?

Yeah, I’m speaking from experience. And this is not just tied to the holidays. It’s tied to expectations laid out by anyone who expects you to put forward your best face at any type of social gathering.

You have no idea how often I’ve wanted to disappear or how often I amused myself with guessing how the person standing in front of me or beside me would die. Like I said, Scrooge has nothing on me.

To be honest, I’d like to reduce the number of times I have to amuse myself with guessing how someone will die. It gets boring and tiresome. Give me lots of room to breath (and I mean LOTS of room) and I’ll be amenable to playing along… unless I really don’t like someone and I don’t care to be in their company.

It hasn’t been bad this past year. I’ll admit there were times where I did not care for the company of others because there were things that needed and demanded my attention, and I was sure as hell, not interested in letting life get in the way.

For 2018, I have one very specific goal I want to complete. And it will entail finding a way to not let life disrupt the pursuit of that goal. So, yes, there will be times I will be distracted or seem anti-social. I’d prefer to be described as laser-focused or hellbent. Actually, hellbent is a good description for me during these times. And if things get a little bumpy, you can call me murderous.

So now that I’ve given you the warning, I’ll be roasting a turkey, something I haven’t done in at least ten years. It’s probably more than ten years. So, why am I doing this now? Because a family member is obsessed with having turkey for Christmas dinner. Is this family member a traditionalist? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. Am I doing this to keep the peace? Yes. I’m also doing this to cut the wistful whining down to a minimum.

I enjoy cooking but there are far more interesting things to do than cook. I have stories to tell. I have research to do. I want to expose myself to things that inspire me. Right now, cooking is a function and not necessarily a pleasure.

For one day, I just have to cook a turkey and prepare the stuffing and sit with family. As a non-traditionalist kind of person, this is stifling and a bit claustrophobic. I’d rather have the simple pleasure of drinking tea, listening to music and working on my writing.

Yeah, yeah, Christmas comes once a year. Just do it for one day, right? Let me think about it.

Okay, I’ve thought about it. Still doesn’t change how I feel about expectations that are put on me during the holidays or any special occasion for that matter.

But I promise to play nice this Christmas. Well, I’ll try.

Welcome, 2017

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves — Bill Vaughan

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a lovely New Year’s Eve. I stayed up until midnight to see the new year in. But I also stayed up to make sure the old year left, too. I guess you can be an optimist and a pessimist at the same time. It could be viewed as having a balanced perspective, perhaps.

For New Year’s Eve, I was a homebody. Parties don’t cut it for me anymore. To be honest, New Year’s Eve parties never really did anything for me. Even when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. Just not my jam.

So, New Year’s Eve consisted of reading, writing and eating dim sum leftovers (from lunch) with a glass or three of sparkling wine while watching Elysium on Netflix. I wanted to watch Mr. Pig afterwards but I went back to working on my writing instead. Yeah, I’m definitely a party animal. I plan to watch Mr. Pig in the next 24 hours. It’s all good.

I suppose I should say whether or not I liked Elysium. I liked the storyline. I bet that didn’t sound entirely enthusiastic. Here’s how I see it. Matt Damon isn’t an actor I follow with any great interest. But I have watched the Jason Bourne movies and I quite liked them. Plus, I have to admit I watched it because I knew Diego Luna was in it. Then much to my surprise, I realized, while watching the movie, that Wagner Moura (Pablo Escobar from Narcos) was in it too. Seriously, I love that man. What a fantastic actor. He certainly didn’t disappoint in this film.

I suppose the only reason I might sound like I’m saying ‘meh’ to the movie despite Luna’s and Moura’s appearances in the movie is because of Jodie Foster. I like her. I do. But I can’t get past that blasted accent/affectation she used in the movie. If she was consistent, I would have been okay with it even though I still would have scratched my head over it. But she wasn’t consistent with the accent or whatever. It came and went throughout the movie. It drove me bananas. She spoke french beautifully in the movie but the accent wasn’t French. I couldn’t place it. Eastern European? No. Spanish? No. How about Danish? No. A mash-up of different accents? Who knows. Maybe it was supposed to be how a rich person sounded (those with a superiority or entitlement complex). Damned if I know.

She threw me off. And gaping at Luna and Moura didn’t help. Damon did an admirable job and his Spanish speaking skills were muy bien. Doesn’t hurt to have a wife who speaks the language. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed over the fact I was more interested in the secondary players than the leads in the movie. Well… I don’t feel like apologizing for that, anyway.

Didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions because, in short, I know what I need to do and want to do. Don’t need resolutions to help me keep my eye on the prize.

It’s 2017, folks. Let’s see what we can make of it.

Surprise in the sublime

So, how did you spend New Year’s Eve and what did you do as the clock moved ever so closer to the stroke of midnight to ring in 2016?

I spent mine watching Ex Machina for the first part of the evening. Holy shit, that film blew my mind. Did not see that ending coming. I’m going to just leave it at that. I suppose my choice of films to view over the holidays might be a little strange.

None of that It’s a Wonderful Like stuff for this girl. Oh, hell no.

Case in point, for Christmas Eve, I watched Attack the Block, a 2011 comedy / action / sci-fi movie about a gang of teen thugs living in South London defending their apartment (or block) from alien invaders. Sure, it’s a far-fetched storyline but the Brits are more than capable of pulling off any story, far-fetched or not. Believe it or not, there is character development among the bloody and gory bits you see in the movie. I appreciated that. And I appreciated the fact it really was well-acted. Like I said, the Brits can pull off anything.

Thankfully, it didn’t make me think as much as Ex Machina when it was over. It took me a couple of hours to decompress after watching that one. That damned movie is going to haunt me for years to come. Just like Person of Interest.

So, I spent the first part of the evening getting my mind blown watching Ex Machina and a minimum two hours afterwards recovering from it. So what do I do next? Write smut until 11:58 pm which is when I took a break to ring in 2016 by having a slice of a Yule log (chocolate cake and chocolate mousse = win-win) and a glass of milk. Such a badass, I know.

I would have had a glass or two of Spanish cava but I didn’t get that gift until New Year’s Day. Think I’ll save it for my birthday.

You’re probably wondering why I was writing smut. Well… because I can. Because I’m good at it. And I felt like doing it again.

Yes, I was inspired. But I will not say what or who were the inspiration for another descent into deviancy. I won’t even say if the sex is between a heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple or some multiple combination of participants. It’s a scene I’m going to keep and will likely use in a future writing project.

What can I say… something (or someone, if you really want to pursue this) grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go until I started banging away on the keyboard. Have to get it out of my system before I head back to the other story I’m working on. A totally unexpected break can be a good thing. Nothing like a sexy recharge to get the juices going. I would never turn down an opportunity like that.

Only my best friend, Ali, has a hint of what’s got me locked and loaded. And she can’t wait to read what’s been bouncing around in my head. As long as she doesn’t find the sex disappointing, I’ll be happy.

Rest assured, I will never ever be a contender for the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award. I have a list of people who will vouch for my skills in this area.

Helluva way to kick off the new year. Maybe it’s sign of creative things to come.

I spent last year working on my fitness through CrossFit and running. In a way, that was surprising to me. I hadn’t expected 2015 to be the year I made a concerted effort to push myself physically. But I did and I have no regrets. I know I can still push myself more and that will be the plan this year. But to do it without incurring any major or nagging injuries. Finding that elusive balance.

But I think 2016 will be the year for something else. Another creative breakthrough, perhaps. That would be sublime.

Discovering what and/or who will inspire me and how they will help me tap into the madness (good and bad) that happily occupies my mind.

Yeah, that would be sublime.