Monthly Archives: December 2006

I Am Resolute: No Resolutions

I have never made New Year’s Resolutions and I don’t plan to start now. I figure the best time to make a resolution is when you’re feeling, well, resolute. And that can happen at any time. At this time of year I am feeling all sorts of things, things that might get me arrested if I decided to be all resolute about them.

For instance, by the time the 1st rolls around the kids have been out of school for at least a week. When they were younger, that meant they were bored and picking on each other. Now that they’re older and so much more mature. . . they’re still picking on each other. But they are also going out — in cars, at night, with their friends, radio volume set to “stun” — and that means I am staying up late, waiting for them to come home in one piece. I’m feeling slightly sleep deprived and perhaps a little surly and any resolution might reflect that.

At this point, the holiday decorations have been in place for at least two weeks, maybe three. My daughter is pleading for them to remain “just one more week, please?” You do not want to know how I’d like to resolve that issue.

By now the dog has usually eaten a significant quantity of: a) wrapping paper, b) ribbons and bows, c) the remains of a meal, or three, that someone left sitting at a height of less than five feet off the floor, d) chocolate candy, including the foil wrappers, and e) paper towels and/or napkins. My resolution for this would have nothing to do with buying more carpet cleaner, not even the one with the appropriate name.

I make a living in the world of finance and the end of the calendar year is usually also the end of the fiscal year. You don’t want to know the details, believe me, but suffice it to say that if my longing for a vista without reports and numbers and long hours sitting behind a desk were to turn into something resolute– well, both the beach and the mountains are an easy drive from here.

So for me, making resolutions at this time of year is not just a bad idea, it is something to avoid at all costs. Really. Because once I resolve to do something, I usually do it.

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Home for Christmas

Yes, I’m back and I’ve been incredibly busy. Feels like I never left.

First, I have a confession to make: It’s just not that difficult to find an internet connection while on vacation, even in another country. You do know that “www” stands for “world wide web,” right? This internet stuff is all over the place.

The thing is, I had decided not to engage in any internet activity while I was gone, except to check my email once in a while. For one entire week, I was going to do nothing but relax with my family and write.

But I had forgotten that I’d set my Blogger preferences to deliver all my blog comments to my email inbox. So every morning when I checked my email, I also got to read the comments on my blog. By the second day, I was laughing so hard my DS21 asked what was so funny. I said, “The CBs are decorating my blog and having a party while I’m gone.”

He was horrified. “You let them into the house? While we’re not there?”

I laughed and said, “Nonono, they’re pretending. On my blog. Virtual reality? Relax, these people live all over the country, they’re nowhere near the house.” He just shook his head, muttering something that sounded a lot like “you are so weird,” and walked away.

The second day, after I had essentially the same conversation with DD18, she informed me, “Mom, you are not allowed to talk about your blog in public anymore.”

Neither of my kids have read my blog, thankyouverymuch, but they are apparently united in their opinion that I should not be doing anything fun. Kids. They’re always expecting you to be a parent.

So anyway, thank you all for making me laugh while I was on vacation and busy ignoring the real world. I hope you’ll forgive me for the small deceit of being “unavailable,” but I really needed the time away to focus on my writing. No, I didn’t finish the book, but I made very good progress and discovered a couple twists I hadn’t expected. I’m pretty excited about the way it’s all coming together.

And I realized something these last couple of days. I had been thinking I was purely crazy to take a week of vacation right before Christmas. There is always so much to do and never enough time and I must be nuts, adding this stress to my life, giving myself only two days right before Christmas to finish doing everything that needed doing. But you know what? Turns out not having enough time is a really good way to eliminate the things that just don’t matter and focus on what’s important.

My kids and I had fun with our hurry-up-and-get-it-done decorating. The stores were practically deserted, because everyone else had already finished shopping. I wasn’t even tired of listening to Christmas songs, not having heard any for an entire week. I got everything important done and loved every minute of it.

Of course, being tanned, pampered and well-rested might have had something to do with it. There is something very liberating about being able to wake up when you’re done sleeping, instead of when the alarm goes off. I saw the sunrise, and the sunset, almost every day for a week. I think going away on vacation right before Christmas might become a new tradition.

However, there is just one tiny little thing left to do and I might need some help with that. Ahem. Do you all think we could maybe move some of these decorations over to the “other” blog? Because all it will take is for my kids to get one good look at the pole and the punch bowl and the goofy expression on the dog’s face and they’ll start to get ideas about how they’re going to spend my next vacation.

Go ahead and finish opening your presents first, and by all means don’t be late for your holiday feast. Have that second glass of wine or that extra helping of dessert. I’ll be over here waiting patiently, very happy to be home for Christmas.

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday, and sharing it with the people you love.

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Wish You Were H– um, never mind

One day last week a challenge was issued for me to post on my blog while on vacation. Well, it took some effort to accomplish, but here I am. Hope you all appreciate it.

It was quite an undertaking. First we had to navigate the kayaks across the fjord, then hook up with the sherpas and cross the mountain range. Then we had to rendezvous with the nomads and the camels (everything they say about those beasts is true, by the way) and trek across the desert. The SF helicopter waited as long as it could, but we were running late and they had places to go and things to blow up so we had to take the train overland to the internet kiosk. Sheesh. The things I do.

Some of the more cynical among you will wonder whether I wrote this before I left and set a timer thing to post if for me. Right. Those would be the people who do not know me very well and don’t realize how much easier it would be to just find an internet connection in a foreign country and post in real time.

Don’t believe me? Hmm. I should just leave you all to wonder about it, shouldn’t I? Perhaps in retaliation for the mess you’ve made in here while getting into the holiday spirits.

And whoever left my dog outside overnight with the incapacitated delivery man and the cookies? Bad idea. I’ll never be able to order pizza takeout again.

Did you know that Blogger tracks where you are and changes the language on your laptop to fit the country? I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy.

I have to get back to getting away from it all now. Maintaining this state of sated bliss is damn hard work, you know.

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I am here –> X

Well, I’m not here yet, but I will be next week.

My bossy older sister, Babs, called a few weeks ago and asked what I was planning to do for my birthday this year. I told her, since it falls on a Monday, probably going to work. She said I should do something special this year.

I’m not in the habit of making a big deal over my birthday so I said, “Ok, I’ll buy a cupcake and stick a candle in it.” She didn’t think that was special enough. So she invited me to go on vacation with her and her family.

Well, let me tell you, she goes to some mighty nice places and this was a very generous offer. But I hesitated, really I did, and said, “You know, the kids will be home from school and it’s probably not the best time to go away.” And she said, “So bring the kids. We’ll be there for two weeks — you can come for all or part of that time.”

Hesitation vanished.

I went with Babs to this place once before, over Thanksgiving weekend five years ago. Sorry, I’m not trying to be mysterious, but this involves someone else’s privacy and I promised not to divulge the actual location. I can tell you it is not in the U.S, is closer to the equator than Miami and takes all day to get there from here by airplane. I took some pictures when we were there before and have received permission to post a few of them here. If I don’t break anything, you will see for yourself that it is a paradise.

Let me tell you about a typical day. Breakfast is at 8:00 am. Theory being, I guess, that if you’re going to eat that much wonderful food in one day, it’s best to get an early start. All meals are served at an open air dining area and prepared from fresh local food by a gourmet chef. Yes, really.

The morning hours are occupied lounging about the pool area, engaging in desultory conversation, gazing alternately at the fluffy white clouds and the hypnotic azure water of the Sea of Whatever, listening to the gentle crash of waves on the beach at the bottom of the rocky bluff just beyond the manicured expanse of verdant lawn, and taking an occasional dip in the pool.

And that’s pretty much the schedule for the rest of the day, too, unless you go inside and take a nap. And why would you, when the thick, soft terrycloth-covered pads on those chaise lounges are so comfy? If you feel like getting dressed and finding your shoes, you can go into town and take your time meandering through the myriad small shops, purchasing gorgeous local crafts.

All this leisure activity is interrupted only by a mid-morning snack, a tasty lunch, a late-afternoon snack accompanied by a sampling of the margarita of the day, and then a magnificent dinner. Of course, there is the ever present cooler full of drinks set out by the pool (ice cold bottled water, cokes, lemonade, beer, wine coolers — the content varies with time of day). The day ends with starlit poolside conversation and perhaps a nightcap, accompanied by unobtrusive local music piped in through the invisible outdoor speaker system, the occasional burst of laughter from the kids’ conversation drifting over from the outdoor hot tub.

Food and drink are offered before you can even think to ask, before you even realize you are hungry or thirsty. Clean towels appear in your room twice a day. Your bed is made for you every morning. This picture is the view from the bedroom where I stayed, which faces east and is called, appropriately, the Sunrise Room.

Without a doubt, it is the most decadent experience I’ve ever had. And I was thrilled when my sister invited us to go with them again, because I never expected to get a chance to go back. Really, once was a special treat. Twice? Pinch me.

Now some of you may remember that way back in early October I wrote about how Babs was all impatient for me to finish writing the damn book already so it could get published (yes, I suspect she really thinks it’s that simple — the minute I finish it, it will hit the shelves of her local bookstore). And I said back then that I was sure as soon as she figured out how to speed up the whole process, I’d be hearing from her.

So after I recovered from the initial shock and accepted her invitation, Babs warned, “There’s just one thing.”

I said, “Oh yeah? And what is that?” Even though at this point I really didn’t care.

She said, “While we’re there, I want you to write.”

And here I’d thought it just couldn’t get any better. You have no idea. I nearly wept.

I’ve only got a week, so I have to make good use of my time. But odds are very good that I will indeed finish the damn book next week. Well, the rough draft anyway.

But I am coming back. Really.

Wait, let me check.

Yep, says right here on the ticket confirmation. Round trip. Besides, all that perfection probably causes extreme crankiness after a while.

So I’ll be back. In about a week.

Really, I will.

I’m debating whether to explain to Babs how I’m probably going to need an agent.

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I’m busy here

Why is it so hard to go away for a week of vacation? The closer it gets the more stressed I feel, the harder I work to get everything done so I can leave.

Something is wrong with this picture. I mean, c’mon, it’s only a week. It’s not like I’m planning to be gone for eight days or anything. How tough can it be for everyone in my life to do without me for one lousy week?

What if I got run over by a truck and ended up in the hospital for a week? Not much prep time involved in that, let me tell you. And the people who know me would either be busy getting drunk and celebrating in the streets and wouldn’t notice that my chores were undone, or they’d be thrown into a deep dark depression and, again, would not notice.

Eventually, someone would make arrangements to feed the cat and make sure the dog went outside on occasion. Someone would either bring the newspapers inside or cancel delivery. Same with the mail. Someone else would clean the litter box, take out the garbage, water the plants and make sure the kids got their weekly allotment of funds.

Someone might even realize that NO ONE will be here to eat fudge and cookies or gaze appreciatively at holiday decorations and decide that all that can JUST WAIT.

At work, someone else would file the sales tax reports, though the ones for SC would be wrong because they’re impossible to figure out. Someone else would deposit the receipts and pay the bills. Someone would write the paychecks, believe me. I’ve heard the IRS insists that you deposit payroll tax if they notice you didn’t, so someone might even remember to do that. Eventually.

And either someone would come over here and write a few words in my absence or those of you who apparently have nothing better to do than pester me about how I haven’t written on my blog for a while would find something else to do.

Geez.

It’s only a week. And yet I’ve got a month’s worth of work to do in the four days before I leave. So I’m busy.

And really, YOUR time would be better spent practicing how you’re going to fall all over yourselves with gratitude when I return and take up where I left off.

If past experience is anything to go by, you all need the practice.

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