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.

In need of a little ‘me’ time

During the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the best gift of all is simply the gift of time. I can’t think of anything a writer would appreciate more than being given time and space to work — Kate Klise

Holy crap, its December. That means Christmas is just around the corner. And unfortunately, the holidays just amplify my need to have ‘me’ time.

When I say this, I know there are some people (i.e. the odd family member and assorted acquaintances) who think the fact I live on my own must means I have an abundance of ‘me’ time coming out of my ass. Hate to say this, but there is a difference between living on my own and having a little ‘me’ time.

Doing the laundry, batch-cooking food for the upcoming week, running errands and grocery shopping do not constitute ‘me’ time. Not for me, at least. Probably for the last decade or so, my idea of ‘me’ time during the holidays has been to go watch a movie in a movie theatre or on Netflix and maybe push a ‘reset’ button once or twice.

This time, I’ll be watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It may be the movie I’ll watch on Christmas Eve. Haven’t decided yet. If I do, it’ll be my third time watching it. Yes, I said third. I have tickets for two different showings in the first week the movie opens. I’m pretty sure I had indicated in previous posts that I’m a nerd. But I also have a habit of watching a movie more than once in a theatre if I really like it. I’ve watched Moonlight twice and will buy the Blu-Ray once it comes out. I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the movie theatre six times. Yep. Nerd.

I suppose I should have watched Moonlight at least six times in the theatre considering that film still has me spellbound. And it is still possible to watch the movie four more times before Rogue One hits the screens. I think the only reason I haven’t watched it six times already is because there is this instinct to slowly digest the contents of that film. A fuller meal, perhaps. Moonlight is an entirely different beast from any film I have ever seen. Its resonance hasn’t left me from the first time I saw it. It only burrowed deeper into my bones the second time. I can’t imagine what that resonance will do to me when I do watch it for the sixth time, be it in the theatre or on Blu-Ray.

Watching movies constitutes ‘me’ time. Exercising is ‘me’ time, too. I also consider writing as ‘me’ time. To clarify, I’m not referring to writing for this blog, I’m referring to fiction writing. Storytelling. Creating a story is ‘me’ time. And while I love a good movie and giving my body a good sweat, working on my storytelling skills makes me happy and engaged.

During the holidays, I plan to have one or two whole days or more, sequestered away at home with music, hot tea or atole (a masa-based hot beverage) and my laptop and just write. I haven’t decided if I want to disconnect the landline and leave the cellphone on vibrate. That will most likely depend on how bananas I feel in the run-up to Christmas.

That reminds me, I think I have some Christmas shopping to do.