Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Wrap-up.

Things I have liked in 2009:

- Pine State Biscuits
- The 'doo doo doo's' at the end of Crosby, Stills & Nash's Suite Judy Blue Eyes
- How I Met Your Mother
- Anna's Taqueria
- Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon
- Award shows
- Conan O'Brien
- Yurts
- Lily
- Everclear's Santa Monica
March Madness
- Boneless buffalo chicken
- Tom Petty
- Marley & Me, the book by John Grogan & the movie
- Paul Rudd
- National Geographic
- Lisa Hannigan's I Don't Know
Early signs of spring: daffodils & hyacinths
- One Shining Moment
- The Cat's Meow
- Gossip Girl
- Gertrude Hawk Smidgeons
- The Boston Marathon / Marathon Monday
- The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, OR
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- A good grey t-shirt
- My Canon AE-1
- Crepe Mondays
- Burgerville
- The ARC Bike Hike
- Sweet potato fries
- Portland, Oregon
- Dave Matthews Band's Under the Table and Dreaming
- Up
Michael Jackson
- Por Que No? Taqueria
- Simon & Garfunkel's America
- Our Man of Perpetual Sorrow, by Dan Savage
- Harry Potter
- Southern fast food
- Weddings
- Cookies & Cream
- Radiohead's The Bends
- Nutella
- The Cranberries
- A Time to Kill
- Breakfast in Portland
- The Beatles
- Striped shirts
- The Office
- Brookline Booksmith
- Pretty much any & everything pumpkin related
- Brandi Carlile
- Rain boots
- The Danger of a Single Story, by Chimamanda Adichie
- Laughing Planet Cafe
- 5 Blues Traveler songs
- The Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Real Christmas trees
- Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in Meet Me in St. Louis
Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You
- It's a Wonderful Life

Not bad, 2009, not bad.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's a Wonderful Life.

"My mouth's bleedin', Bert! My mouth's bleedin'! ZUZU PETALS! Zuzu - there they are! Bert! WHADDAYAKNOW ABOUT THAT! MERRY CHRISTMAS! Mary! Mary! YAYYYYYYY! YAYYYYYY Hello Bedford Falls! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, movie house, Merry Christmas, emporium, Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building & Loan!"

Up until two years ago when Kathy made me watch it I had never seen It's a Wonderful Life, and after my first watching I decided it probably had to be my favorite movie of all time, and ever since I haven't changed my mind.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You.

Okay, FOR REALS, twenty years from now, this will be the one Christmas song from our generation that still matters. This is not just the perfection of the Christmas pop song, this is one of the best pop songs I have ever heard in general. Its infectiousness cannot be stopped! Yeah that's right indie kid, you think it's catchy and can't help loving it too, and not even in an ironic way! From its spare dramatic beginning to its classic fade out end, it is perfect. It is like candy! Sweet, Christmas-y, 1990's Mariah Carey-filled candy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in Meet Me in St. Louis.

Kathy and I watched Meet Me in St. Louis today and when it comes to this part, gee whiz, it is just. The. Most. Beautiful. And. Sad. Thing. Ever. If you can watch this scene and not cry and cry, or at least want to cry and cry, then you are a bad human being. Yeah, I said it. As I'm writing this I'm listening to it over and over and just feeling weepy. And then Tootie runs downstairs crying and knocks down all those beautiful snowmen she made which are obviously not made of real snow because she is so upset about going to New York! Gah! THEY LOVE ST. LOUIS SO MUCH.

Sad Christmas songs also always makes me think of Mr. Buehler, my first real employer, who is now sadly no longer with us. I worked on the very small family resort he and his wife owned and it was all very idyllic and old-time-y but I was miserable there because I was so angsty. Mr. and Mrs. Buehler were the type of old couple where the wife is really mean and stressed out all the time but the husband is quiet and cheerful and smiles a lot, and he was pretty much the one thing I liked there, other than the family dog and the horses and the broccoli salad, which was awesome. Since the resort was only open during the summer I'm not sure how Christmas music got brought up, but I remember so clearly Mr. Buehler telling me about I'll Be Home For Christmas, and how when he was in Europe in World War II all of his fellow soldiers and he would listen to it and just cry like little babies. Which to this day is pretty much one of the saddest things I have ever heard.

It occurs to me that writing about things that make you cry is a strange thing to write about in a blog about things I like, but I do like the things about Christmas that make me cry each year because along with the cookies and the presents and everything they are the best part about it! For they are those comforting, sentimental kind of tears that make you appreciate your life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Real Christmas Trees.

1) In Pennsylvania each December we took a right past the Paupack Post Office onto Gumbletown Road, so curvy but beautiful, and drove until before that park where Jeff played little league baseball games and Mom and I played tennis sometimes, before the township building where we recycled, held girl scout meetings, and voted, and before the Paupack Blueberry Farm, we'd turn onto a dirt road to a field full of trees. I remember there usually being snow on the ground, or if not, it at least being frigidly cold, and we'd stalk around in our boots and gloves and scarves until we found a sufficient one. Then we'd find the guy with the chainsaw who'd chop it down for us and load it onto Mom's car. She'd give him 20 bucks, and once we returned to the house, she and Jeff would commence in an epic struggle to get the tree into our ancient stand, which usually involved a decent amount of curse words, while Sara and I watched TV and ate Christmas cookies.

2) Decorating the Christmas tree at my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve, always in the same spot in the corner, in front of the wood paneled walls and between those 1960's couches. Being that my grandma was a tiny, gentle woman and my grandpa an overweight, grumpy man, I don't know in retrospect how they actually got the tree into the house and into the stand, except I do know it probably involved even more curse words. They were always a fan of blue spruce. We'd toss on a bunch of tacky tinsel and the most godawful ugly balls--there seemed to be a never ending supply of them. Yet there was also a Hallmark ornament for each of the years' each cousin was born--our name was written in ballpoint pen on it in case we couldn't figure it out--and we always treated these reverently. The Zalasky cousins were usually late, so Sara and Mom and Grandma and I would do most of the decorating, saving just their Hallmark balls for them, and then commence to a long afternoon full of cheese, crackers, shrimp, candy, and a general abundance of appetizer-y food before church.

3) Christmas trees are one of the biggest exports of Oregon and Washington, and it seems like you can't walk ten feet without running into somebody selling them. For the last three years though we've stuck with the boy scout lot down on Powell in the parking lot of the Catholic church. The kids who work there always seem remarkably wholesome and helpful, throwing footballs around and being all around cheerful when helping us. It is not quite as authentic as trudging out into a field in the snow, but we still like it. We nervously drive the ten blocks home. Both of our parents have sent us boxes of some of our old, personal ornaments - I laughed about a crooked candy cane Kathy made in first grade when taking it out of the box this year, handed it to her, then she dropped it and it broke, and we both stopped laughing - and ones we have gathered ourselves, ones bought on vacation in Seattle, New York City, North Carolina. Toby seems pretty nonplussed about it, as he does about everything. Lily and Cleveland sleep beneath the needles on the skirt we bought from Target.

4) The smell. In particular, walking inside after being away from home for some 12-odd hours at work, and having it hit you in the face. And thinking, That's right, it's Christmas! And it's warm inside, and it smells good, and really, what can be better than that.