Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve was a big big deal when I was a little kid, what with being allowed to stay up to a deliciously late hour and then make an unholy racket. These days? Not so much. I'm in it strictly for the football.

Already on the second EPL match of the day while waiting for the bowl games to start rolling (Berbatov has been a beast lately, hasn't he?), so let's see how far back into the past 364 days the old memory machine will stretch.

The Year in Review.

Best Meal (Tucson): Two trophies should be handed out this year; luckily, I make the rules around here and will allow it. One goes to a particularly perfect grilled cheese and tomato soup the girlfriend made on a cold rainy evening sometime this fall. The other was earned by the incomparable Cafe Poca Cosa three weeks ago. I don't even remember what was on the plate. It doesn't matter. It was the Plato Poca Cosa and I would like to marry it.

Best Meal (Seattle): Okay, technically not Seattle, but Bainbridge Island, at a waterfront bar and grill called Doc's, where the clam chowder made us weep (and I do not even like clam chowder, but DAMN) and the lobster mac 'n' cheese made the weeping continue all the way back to the ferry. In a good way. I mean, completely fucking stunning.

Worst Meal (Tucson): O heartbreak! Guadalajara Grill seriously misfired with the mole last week. What is that odd funk wafting off my plate? With sickly sweet hints of someone who is perhaps experiencing that not-so-fresh feeling? Do not want.

Worst Meal (elsewhere): There wasn't one. Seriously, that mole sucked.

Worst Food Trend: Kale. Kale, kale, kale. Kale salad. Kale chips. Puree of kale. Fuck kale. That is all.

Best Beer: Dragon's Tooth Stout, Elysian Brewing, Seattle. Everyone else should just give up brewing. End of story.

Best Purchase: My Nespresso Pixie (in Persimmon Red, or, as we say here in the States, "orange") espresso machine. Should the Plato Poca Cosa turns down my marriage proposal, the Pixie can still make me the happiest woman on the planet.

Best Sports Moment: Abby Wambach's 122nd minute goal against the cheating, diving, evil Brazilians. US Soccer should embroider "122" below the collar of the national team jerseys, forever.

Worst Sports Moment: Retroactively awarded to the nanosecond in December of 2009 when John Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick said, "Brian Kelly! That's the ticket!"

Best Book Choice: Probably The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I also read a somewhat dry history of the Whiskey Rebellion that was still illuminating in that it disabused me of my dewy-eyed Schoolhouse Rock notions of founding-era politics being somehow purer or higher-minded than they are now. Who knew that the guy perennial middle-seed NCAA bracket-buster Robert Morris College is named after was actually a shameless influence peddler who rigged tax law and Continental Army procurement policy to maximize his personal profit?

Best Twitter feed: @angrysantaelf brings you the inside story of the North Pole. Probably only during actual Christmas season. Otherwise, the incomparable The Browser brings you the best of the web several times a day. More importantly, its #fivebooks feature points you to books you would probably not hear about otherwise.

Best Gleefully Profane Political Website: Wonkette. The comments make it. Finer snark has never been forged.

Best Pop Singer I Can Actually Get on Board with: Hey, that Adele lady's not half bad.

Worst cold: The one I am currently experiencing, thanks to my brother's humorless yet apparently potent fiancee.

Best Friday Night Escapist TV: Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. Mindless. Poofy. Dramatic. Fun!

Best Out and Proud WPS Couple: Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson (formerly of the Cheesesteaks, currently free agents), although Abby Wambach and Sarah Huffman (free agents, nee MagicDan) have made a subtle yet strong run at the title over the past few months.

Best Women's Soccer News: WPS sanctioned for another season!

Possibly Worst Women's Soccer News: With only five teams!

Worst Moment of 2011, Period: Yeah, that morning last January 8 at the Safeway.

Best Moment that could Possibly Follow: Did you see the Diane Sawyer special with Giffords and Kelly? That, with the pep rally in McKale Center a close second.

Fondest Hope for 2012: In this moment, that this goddamn headache goes away before the ball drops. In the big picture, the usual. Health and happiness, love and life, food and football.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The sun came up too soon this morning. I finished my coffee too soon. The appointed hour came too soon, lunch went far too quickly, and in the blink of an eye there we were, saying goodbye again, far, far too soon.

I came home and put the Christmas decorations away, stared at the new chimenea, built a half-hearted first fire that went to ashes almost as quickly as it flared up. The bowl games persist despite my spotty attention, punctuated by noticing one more thing here to pack up, one more thing there to straighten. A book to read, or not. I wonder if the Baylor defense woke up this morning elated or mortified. I weigh the relative merits of sleep and tea and cast my lot with jasmine.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Derp, Part Infinity.

Most of the houseplants spend most of the year on a plant stand by the living room window, but they are exiled en masse to a shelf under the hallway window every December to make room for the Christmas tree. Like clockwork, the tree comes down and the plants are moved back, and every year I marvel at how green and robust they managed to get in the very filtered and short-term east light that comes to that part of the hosue.

And I go ahead and stick them back by the living room window anyway, and a month later wonder why everything is faded and struggling again.

Are some lessons too obvious to even be lessons? Jesus. It's a wonder I ever learned to breathe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chrysalis, Solstice, Lint Roller, Something

Christmas came and went, and my mostly unintentional but nonetheless tenacious year of mourning came to an end as well, spitting me out the other side somewhat bewildered but mostly unscathed.

My sense of self is tethered only to memories now, not places. Childhood home is gone. Grandparents are gone. Fucking dogs are even gone. Parents grown old. Kid grown into a man bounding off into his own life. Traditions, muscle memory, everything we did and do Because It's What We Do... all in the long ago and far away. Stuff that's going to happen someday, really, if I just hope hard enough? Not gonna happen. Here and now? As good as it's likely to get.

And I guess I'm okay with that.

Blank canvas, lump of clay, pile of raw lumber waiting to be imagined and sketched and built into something else. It's all that's left.

Time to get to work.