Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Writer’s Block? Why?

December 28, 2008

concrete_block1I’ve been laying on my bed with my laptop for the last 20 minutes, which have felt like an hour..I want to write a post today, but my mind keeps going blank..I tried to write yesterday but the same thing happened. Part of it, I guess, is I keep wanting to doze…a lupus flare, of course, after the holiday fun/chaos at our house this year…everything I think of writing about seems too much…too heavy…or I keep editing it before anything ever gets written..so i’m just going to do stream of consciousness and see what happens…

My mother… 78 years old…for once I enjoyed her, felt the bond, it was as it should be all the time, wish it could be so, too much bad history, too much inner conflict for me…the kids, with their whole lives ahead of them, most of mine behind me, one newly married, the other newly engaged, the next generation getting ready to take center stage in our family life…well good, I hope somebody gets a bigger house because ours was too small to hold everyone comfortably this year, i remember when my parents did it all, way back when…and all of us young adults went to their house for the most wonderful Christmas Eve…my dad cooking the linguini with clams, and then the lobster tails, the traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner…afterwards the extravagant exchange of presents,  each of us opening one at a time, my father reserving the right to open all of his last, then he died of cancer at age 52, diagnosed and told on his last Christmas Eve, a tragedy i cannot write about even 25 years later, but i do, i must, because how can i not wonder how different our lives would all be now, my mother over the years became a recluse, my son would have been in business with him, making lots of money,  rather than struggling to keep his head above water now…oh my, the head is falling forward again, the need to doze so apparent to me now for what it is, a block to painful feelings still locked away, to things i don’t want to think about…

And so I’ll stop writing now, because I don’t want to think about my dad anymore,  because it hurts, and I miss him so…

Is this what all writer’s block is about? A block to exactly what  needs to be thought about, felt, written about? 

We are all writers here. What do you think?

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Psychscribe (Christmas) Quote # 48

December 23, 2008

ERMA BOMBECK:

“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”

The Gift of the Magi- By O’Henry

December 20, 2008

This is another lovely story about the true meaning of Christmas.

 

The Gift of the Magi

By O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad. In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.” The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good. Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag.     

She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet. On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.” “Will you buy my hair?” asked Della. “I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it. “Down rippled the brown cascade. “Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand. “Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. “If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?” At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops. Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.

“The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face. Della wriggled off the table and went for him. “Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice– what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.””You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor. “Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?” Jim looked about the room curiously. “You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy. “You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table. “Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims–just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!” And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!” Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit. “Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.” Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. “Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.

“The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

December 20, 2008

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Its always nice to read this famous letter- to remind us of the magic of Christmas and what its all about. I am touched every time I read it. Hope you will be too.

 

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

“Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

 

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. 

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. 

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. 

 

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!! 


Checkin’ In

December 9, 2008

Hi All,

Just want you to know that I have not vanished into cyberspace. The season has suddenly got me running in circles planning gifts, Christmas dinner and other festivities…well…you all know…but the best gifts are the ones I’m making myself – jewelry for the women in the family – it feels so good to MAKE rather than BUY gifts….it feels so good to have gotten to the point where what I make looks nice enough to give  to anyone…I am a self taught jewelry artisan at this point..even went to my first bead expo over the weekend… (the word “artisan” sound so much cooler than “beader” or “crafter”, doesn’t it?)

Hope all of you are well, back to you soon,

Psychscribe

World Aids Day Today- Who did YOU lose?

December 1, 2008

aids_day_en

I am so ashamed to report that  until I read VanessaLeigh‘s post today, I had no idea…

I lost three family members to AIDS.  My Uncle Joe died in his 40’s. He was a handsome, brilliant professional actor and singer who never did make it to the big time.  He never had the time. Also, in those days, he “passed”…but not enough… God what a guy magnet he was! I remember he visited my husband and I when we lived in Italy and we practically had to barricade the doors to protect him! Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.  He was also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, my mother’s dearest friend, wild, witty, best known for his role as one of the original four cabaret singers in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.  When he died, they had a tribute to him that I will never forget at The Village Gate in Manhattan, where the show ran for years. I was so proud to be his niece. I was always a bit in awe of him and so I loved him from afar.  Uncle Joe, I pray that you’re alive and well and living in Paradise with my father and yours.

Lenny and Joe,  my own age and my cousins on the other side of the family, will be harder to write about, because I loved them more. They were  my age and we grew up together. They started drugs at the age of twelve which ultimately led to them dying of AIDS,  also in their 40’s. Lenny was the proverbial chick magnet. He was a swaggering, gorgeous, macho early Sly Stallone look alike. He was bitingly sarcastic (anyone who reads my blog knows I hate sarcasm) but I could read him…I knew him…I saw his facade…his emptiness and no clear sense of his own identity. The same emptiness drove his identical twin brother.  Joe was the less aggressive one. A goofier sense of humor. A one girl kind of guy. Rough around the edges, both of them. Street smart but no interest in academics, ever.   Their twinship, rather then feed a closeness, seemed to drain both of them of their psychological life’s blood. Almost as if there weren’t enough for both of them. God I miss them. My roots. We were the first three kids in a huge Italian extended family. We all lived together in a 3 family house until I was about 6. There was a built in pool which of course  needed  adult supervision in order for us to jump in. So we would start the garden hose and put drops of water on our foreheads in order to get someone to take pity on our overheated bodies.  On Christmas Eve we listened in awe as reindeer and bells clattered across the roof of our house, courtesy of our ingenious uncles.

I started life with two older “brothers”, and now they’re both gone. There but for the grace of God went I.

Lenny and Joe, I will always, always miss you. I will always be grateful for the love and the roots and the FUN we had as kids, before the drugs and the plague took you. And I will ALWAYS associate the magic of Christmas with you, and remember the sound of those bells on the roof.

Most of all, I pray that, like my Uncle Joe, you’re in Paradise with my father and yours.

And so, my friends….who would you like to memorialize here?

So WHERE was the nearest mall…?

November 30, 2008


rohden_franz_von_gerburt_christi

 

by Franz von Rohden

German artist 
born 1817 – died 1903

The Gift I Gave that Everyone Hated

December 31, 2007

Our kids gave us a surprise party last month. All our friends and family came, and everyone looked really great. You’d think that would be obvious since they were so  decked out and all. I mean, thought they looked great. So I printed and framed a photo of each couple for Christmas, and managed to apparently traumatize each and every one of them. Well, truth be told, it was the women who were traumatized….

Responses ranged from polite dismay, to “Omigod, I look terrible in that picture!” to “Do I really look that fat?” to my sister’s most memorable response. She opened the gift, exclaimed “But I look so old!”  and began giggling uncontrollably….which caused our mother to start giggling with her…till they were laughing so hard that tears were streaming from their eyes. (In all fairness to me, she wore a silly hat the night the photo was taken, which did not flatter her, but I figured she must have liked how she looked or why would she have worn it, you know?)

The moral of the story: I will never, ever give anyone a photo of themselves again. People always think, hope (?) that they look better than they actually do…why would I want to be a buzz kill ?!

More on My Alpha Male

December 24, 2007

An alpha male recognizes a problem even before it actualizes, and prepares for it. After all, that’s what leaders do, don’t they? So because I am unwell this holiday season, he single handedly has the whole Christmas feast planned and ready to go. This silver star recipient, who has countless medals for his valor and heroism in combat, is at this moment simmering his homemade cranberry sauce, layering his home made lasagne,  and roasting two turkeys for our 14 guests tomorrow. I am so so blessed to have him.

My Christmas wish to all of you is that you not only receive blessings and good health, but also recognize the ones you have…and remember to thank the people who are the blessings in your life.

WHY won’t men ask for directions???

December 9, 2007

Santa Won’t Ask for Directions…