Tag Archives: friends

Garbage In…

In between sips of my Amaretto Sour, I kept gingerly clinking my teeth together.

One of my hallmates suggested going to Nick’s, and I realized my usual response of “I’m not drunk enough to eat at Nick’s” was not accurate.

“I can’t feel my teeth,” I offered.

“Great, let’s go!”

Janice was the only person on the hall who was sober and awake. She graciously and foolishly agreed to drive a bunch of drunk people to Nick’s.

Surveying the crowd of us, she responsibly pointed out, “you won’t all fit in the car.”

Fro’s argument was clear and strong as he tossed her the keys, “Nick’s!”

We entered the car in shifts. The last available space was horizontal. Two of us had to wedge ourselves like Tetris pieces onto the laps of those already on the back seat.

My neck bent awkwardly and my head was jammed into the ceiling.

The Nick’s virgins got a briefing on the proper etiquette. Be ready by the time you get to the front of the line. No substitutions. Yes, you had to eat the macaroni salad. Don’t look, just eat.

We debated the merits of pouring ketchup over everything. We sang along with the radio. We accidentally poked each other in sensitive areas whenever Janice took a sharp corner.

Before I’d taken one bite, that first garbage plate from Nick’s turned out to be one of the most nourishing meals I’d ever had.


​This post is a response to this week’s writing prompt at Write on Edge.

“Certain local items linger in your mind and weave together with memories and stories you remember with an almost possessive type of nostalgia. This week you have 350 words to write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece in which a local or regional item or industry plays a role.”

My college-era nostalgia is possessive indeed! As stated in the video, a garbage plate from Nick Tahou’s is a rite of passage for college students in Rochester, NY. He neglected to mention the drunk in the wee hours of the morning part.


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

It’s Good to Be Matt Damon

Two nights before Christmas, I stayed up late to wrap gifts alone. I kept the TV on for company and groaned when Charlie Rose came on with Matt Damon and Cameron Crowe. I expected shameless plugging of their movie We Bought A Zoo and perhaps some vapid discussion of their “craft.” But about 10 minutes in, the interview took a surprising turn that resonated in a bordering-on-creepy way with the two biggest themes I’ve wrestled with over the last year:  career fulfillment and friendships.

Matt Damon is very articulate. And also one lucky son of a bitch.

Phase 1 (in which Matt Damon and Cameron Crowe Confirm My Biggest Fear about Career)

Matt Damon pointed out how Cameron Crowe’s movies center on a main character doing something in the first act that everyone around him thinks is crazy. They do this because “it’s something they need to do…their inner voice is telling them to do it.” You know, just like we all do to choose our path…Oops. 

Amazingly, just as I was thinking, I have no inner voice, and what the hell does an inner voice say anyway, Charlie Rose said, “an inner voice that told you?…”

Matt Damon: “I gotta do that.”

Cameron Crowe said, “Exactly.” Then they both proceeded to rub it in. Their inner voices. That they both had from their earliest memories (Matt Damon’s Mom knew he’d take this path when he was two). That were encouraged by their parents (both of their mothers worked in education). That they reached the pinnacle of success by listening to and actively pursuing (Cameron Crowe wrote a Rolling Stone cover article at 16.). But I’m not jealous or anything.

Cameron Crowe: “Someone told me…if you don’t listen to that little voice it goes away…”

Me: “Yep.”

Matt Damon: “Boy that’s a terrifying thought.”

Cameron Crowe: …”pay attention because to be out there with no instinct guiding you, that’s truly scary.”

Me: “Welcome to my world. Not sure if I ever had the voice, but if I did it’s gone now. Terrifying? Maybe. But definitely overwhelming and frustrating.”

Charlie Rose: “Do you think that everyone if they listened carefully would find it, would hear it? Is it easily unheard?

Me: “No and YES!”

Cameron Crowe just looked confused (“I loved writing, loved the written word, I just had to follow that path.”). Matt Damon: “it probably depends on who you are…for some people it’s pouring out of them, and for others it might be a softer kind of voice.”

Sitting on my Mom’s living room floor, I alternated between cutting, wrapping, taping and staring at the screen in disbelief. How did they get onto this topic? Had they read my blog? Why did I have to be the second kind of person?

I closed my eyes and tried to hear my inner voice. My inner voice was so faint I could barely make it out. It said…

your life would be a lot easier if you were Matt Damon.

Phase 1 post script: I saw this billboard off the Pennsylvania Turnpike coming home after Christmas. Even Kermit the Frog has an inner voice.

Even Kermit has an inner voice.

Phase 2 (in which Matt Damon Confirms My Biggest Fear about Friendship)

The conversation turned to Matt Damon’s early days in the film industry with his best friend Ben Affleck. Just when I thought this interview couldn’t get any more surreal for me, Charlie Rose asked, “what is it that makes a great friendship?”

Me: “No way they are going to dissect friendship now too.”

Matt Damon: “For one thing, when it starts.”

Me: “Uh-oh.”

He and Ben met in high school and had the same goals. Charlie Rose summarized as follows, “the point is that you started early, the bond came early.”

Me: “Whoops!”

Thanks to Matt Damon for tackling two of my big life questions and pretty much taunting me.

I’d been meaning to write about this so thanks to Studio30 Plus for throwing out a writing prompt that fit: The Big Question.

Old Friends

A Gift

The song didn’t exist and then, as if by magic, it did. He sensed it could be his greatest work. 

When Paul Simon said, “I think you should sing Bridge Over Troubled Water,” although Art Garfunkel obviously did sing it (and Paul ironically resented how the song came to be associated with Art), his original response was reportedly, “Nah, you go ahead and sing it.”


Simon & Garfunkel did not record another album after Bridge Over Troubled Water. If childhood friends who built their relationship over years and blended their voices together so beautifully couldn’t maintain a harmonious friendship, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The Harmony Game

Last year was the 40th anniversary of Bridge Over Troubled Water and I recently saw “The Harmony Game,” a documentary about the making of the album. The documentary reignited my college obsession with Simon & Garfunkel’s music. And their friendship.

I enjoyed the documentary as much for the old footage of Paul and Art interacting at the height of their partnership as for the more recent commentary on the music by them and the other players. The ease and bond between them back then came across clearly and poignantly. However, by the end of their partnership, Paul’s lyrics gave powerful voice to the abandonment, rejection, and regret he felt in his friendship. Those feelings resonate with me more than I’d like to admit.

I discovered the Simon & Garfunkel catalog and read their biography at a time of unwelcome changes in some of my friendships, some fading with distance and others damaged by regretful  behavior. From sitting in my tiny dorm room trying to work out Art’s harmonies, to shedding a tear 20 years later realizing I don’t sing very much anymore partly because I no longer have anyone to sing with, their music both soothes and unsettles me.

Obviously I don’t know the status of Simon and Garfunkel’s relationship today, nor is it any of my business. There was friendship, partnership, estrangement. There were reunions and rejections (like Art having to be talked into singing Paul’s masterpiece or when Paul decided to strip Art’s vocals from what was supposed to be their reunion album). The interviews did not focus on the friendship and Art, in particular, focused on how wonderful his memories were. Neither man mentioned any debate about who would sing “Bridge,” and Art only said how much he enjoyed “delivering Paul’s intentions.”

Both men danced around the obvious questions about friendship. Art said: “I don’t want to play my friendship with Paul on camera. It’s very deep, very private, and full of love. But yeah, those songs are about friendship.” Paul said: “If there’s a theme that runs through Bridge about leaving, it was certainly unintentional.”

This discussion centered around the most obvious abandonment song, “The Only Living Boy in New York” (one of three songs Paul did in concert this year that made me cry). But when Art heaped praise on what he called Paul’s “under-appreciated gem,” “Song for the Asking,” I couldn’t help but (probably) misinterpret this “love song” to be about his friendship with Art too. 

During the discussion of this song, Paul said, “Notes of apology that show up in album after album, that’s just to say I haven’t forgotten what I did to various people.”

“Thinking it over, I’ve been sad. Thinking it over, I’d be more than glad to change my ways, for the asking. Ask me and I will play all the love that I hold inside.”


I’ve been hurt by people I thought were my friends. And I’ve done really dumb things when I’ve felt a friend slipping away. It’s like my subconscious tried to avoid the pain of loss by, ironically, causing me to behave in a way that would speed up the loss. People say marriages require work, but friendship is more difficult for me. Without the commitment of marriage, the close proximity of shared space, and physical intimacy, what binds one to a friend?

One of the goals I set for 2011 was to be more social–a euphemism if ever there was one. It had become easier to believe I didn’t need friendship than to put forth effort, since that effort often exhausted me and left me feeling empty and rejected. And while it is daunting to feel that way, I decided to stop pretending I don’t need friendship or that a happy marriage negates that need. So I’m trying what for me is heavy lifting in the friend area. Like making some. And being a better one to those I have. I toy with the idea of trying to make amends to those I’ve hurt even though I worry those scabs are better left unpicked.

The jury is still out on how I’m doing, but I’m trying. In the year when both Simon and Garfunkel turned 70 (how terribly strange!), I wish for them the same thing I wish for myself, to have a cherished old friend sharing that park bench.


I haven’t even scratched the surface on the actual music. I’d love to write about my favorite songs, but haven’t been able to whittle my list down to fewer than 20. I might as well just say, “I really, really like Simon & Garfunkel” and leave it at that! Do you have a favorite Simon & Garfunkel song?

Have you ever reached out to an estranged friend? Or an old friend with whom you’ve lost touch? How did that go?

M.Y.O.B on O.P.P.

With apologies to Jane Austen, the writers of He’s Just Not That Into You, and Naughty By Nature.

What makes people think they have special psychic powers on the topic of other people’s feelings? If you are really psychic, I think I’d rather know what stock is really going to take off next week, not who you think likes me.

It starts early when your Mom tells you boys pick on you because they “like” you. Why do we try to convince girls that appalling/indifferent/conflicting behavior is a sign of love? Not helpful.

I think people are just bored. Who doesn’t crave a little drama now and then? Even better if the drama doesn’t directly affect us. In other words, we are all down with O.P.P. (Other People’s Pursuits), particularly those of a romantic nature.

So friends, family, and random passers-by love to talk smack and try to plant seeds of romance, most of which have about as much chance of blooming as…something that usually doesn’t bloom (Dave’s annual failed tomato container gardens, perhaps?). While possibly well-meaning, these thoughts are based on no special insight whatsoever and, in the case of your loved ones, a completely biased sense of how appealing you are to whichever sex you are trying to attract.

Of course, your worst enemy in the game of O.P.P. is you. We can be vulnerable to this unsolicited matchmaking because everyone believes, or at least hopes, they are worth liking.

Exhibit A: “Project Fox” or “From Disinterest to Devastation”

My high school allowed Exhibit A and I to attend classes at the college downtown. He offered me a ride. My friends nudged each other and exchanged knowing glances. I bristled with embarrassment and actually considered saying no.

“We’re going to the same place and he has a car. He’s just being nice,” I insisted.

An over excited friend, let’s call her Miss Woodhouse, decided this offer meant something deeper. Watching for signs in every little move he made became her pet project. Like all pets, she insisted on naming it: “Project Fox.” Project Fox would, of course, culminate in Exhibit A asking me out. My feelings on the subject (disinterest) were immaterial.

One afternoon, he locked his keys in the car. By the time we broke in, we were too late for class, which led to a string of afternoons spent ditching class and hanging out. Even my most cynical friend became down with O.P.P., “I totally think he locked his keys in the car on purpose.” (Editor’s Note: Show of hands, who thought the same thing when you got to that part? Who’s down with O.P.P.? Suckers!)

I felt the excitement of getting away with something. I also felt the excitement of making a new friend. My friends felt the excitement of O.P.P.

Miss Woodhouse believed Exhibit A’s not asking me to the upcoming dance was a sign, not of his disinterest, but only that I would have to ask him. Although I wasn’t really up for it, the Project Fox matchmaking manipulation was a success. Inexplicably he said yes and we spent an awkward evening together during which I carried myself as if I were made of glass. When we said good night without a kiss, I was both disappointed and relieved.

Project Fox ended in a standoff in an empty classroom where I demanded an explanation of why we weren’t friends anymore. He squirmed like an animal in a trap and insisted we were still friends. But we weren’t and that stung. People, sometimes a ride is just a ride.

You don’t need a Cruise Director for your love life. Relationships engineered by the Miss Woodhouses of your life are doomed.


This was inspired by this week’s RemembeRED memoir prompt (“Write about a relationship you knew was doomed from the start.”), but since I’m over the word limit, I didn’t officially link up.

Have you ever let a Miss Woodhouse convince you to pursue someone you otherwise wouldn’t have? How’d that turn out?

Write on Edge: RemembeRED


I stake out the far corner of the dressing room, but there is nowhere to hide since I’m sharing the room with two friends. Crouching over to shield myself from view, I feel naked before I even undress. I wish I hadn’t grabbed an outfit to try.

My friends chatter away and their preoccupation allows me to change. I assess the skirt and blouse in silence. Under no illusion about how I look with these 15 extra pounds, the mirror tells me the truth. The outfit does not perform any miracles. But it fits. It is comfortable. I would actually wear it. It’s passable.

As I start to change back into my own clothes, one friend asks for feedback on her outfit. When I turn my attention to them, I realize she is trying on the same blouse as me.

My other friend answers before I can. Looking at both of us, she tells my friend, “It looks good on you,” before turning back to me to say, “but Tracy, it makes you look pregnant.”

I involuntarily bristle and can feel my face contort into a grimace of pain. Stung, my instinct is to flee, but where would I go? My feet are stuck to the floor anyway. All I can do is stare at her. I’m speechless. What seems like a flicker of regret passes over her face, so I wait for an apology.

Instead, she lets out a little laugh and adds, “Maybe it’s the skirt, the blouse might look better with something else?”

An uncomfortable silence falls over the dressing room. They both look at me expectantly. It’s my turn to say something.

I turn back to the mirror and study my appearance again. Still the same. I look the same in this outfit as I do in most others. Half-formed tears tickling my eyes and throat, I gesture to myself and manage a weak, “this is what I look like.” I try and fail to keep the hurt out of my voice.

She stares back at me blankly and says nothing. The room is now stifling, the air stale and warm. I desperately want out. When our other friend says she needs a different size for something, I grab the item from her hand and am out the door before she finishes saying, “are you sure?”

When I step into the cool air of the store, I can breathe again. I shake my arms as if the hurt and anger were rain drops I could fling off of me. Tears blur my vision as I look for my friend’s item. A beam of sunlight shines through the store’s doors. A fantasy of walking out, of being done, overtakes me.

My car isn’t here. My purse is still in the dressing room. I am not wearing my own clothes.

I squeeze my eyes shut to stop the flow of tears. I find my friend’s item and start walking back to the dressing room. I take a deep breath. I have a long day ahead of me. I stay, but I’m no longer really there. 


I’m linking this to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, in response to the prompt: “Write about a time you wanted to disappear.”

Mama’s Losin’ It

A (very) few of you might find this post familiar. I had originally written about this for a prompt to write about a fight, but the original post never felt right because a.) there was no fight and writing about what I could but didn’t say in anger didn’t make me feel any better and b.) the person I’m most angry with is myself. When I saw the Mama Kat prompt, I finally understood what was wrong with the original. To pretend I have a sense of humor about this:

Photo Friday: Dutch Yahtzee

My family played Yahtzee a lot when I was growing up (we managed to play without any violence, seriously that link is so disturbing…couldn’t they just have said no, I don’t want to play Yahtzee? And what kind of person doesn’t enjoy a good game of Yahtzee anyway?).

I spent a summer during high school living with a host family in the Netherlands. I bought Dutch Yahtzee (“Het best verkochte dobbelspel ter wereld”) while I was over there. It’s the same, only in Dutch.

I took the game to college and it was amazing how entertaining Yahtzee terms translated into Dutch could be to drunk people. One of my friends on the hall was originally from the Netherlands and she was able to translate, although it’s really not all that difficult to figure out, for example “three of a kind” is… “three of a kind.” However, “four of a kind” is “Royale with Cheese-like and translates to “Carre” (I think it means “square.”).

My friend John Boy decided “bovenste helft” (which means “top half”) sounded like something to say as a toast. So we instituted a new requirement to drunkenly shout out “Bovenste Helft!” every so often while playing. Soon playing Yahtzee was no longer a prerequisite for sharing a little good will with a boisterous greeting of “Bovenste Helft!” Our Dutch friend thought we were nuts walking around yelling out “top half” for no reason.

French In Action

Ah, the sounds of France. The sea crashing onto the beaches at Normandy mixed with the respectful hushed voices at the World War II cemetery, the rapid fire native French speakers I strained to understand, the clank of the manual metal elevator doors in the charming small hotels, and the beat of the techno music at the discotheque our teacher allowed us to go to one evening.

However, of all the sounds I heard during my junior year trip to France, none is more vivid in my memory than slurping. The good old-fashioned slurping of an American girl reunited with chocolate after a long Lenten promise. At first, I was charmed. After 40-odd days without chocolate, and the last few with the added bonus of jet lag, my friend was getting pretty fucking grumpy. So at the strike of midnight on Easter Sunday, I was happy for her as she pulled out her stash of Cadbury Creme Eggs and prepared to shut the door right on Lent’s ass.

I believe this was the same evening I’d called my Mom collect to check in. When the French operator asked for my name, I cringed as I said “Tracy,” since I knew he was going to have trouble with my super American name. But to my surprise, he excitedly said “like Tracy Shapman?” (French-ifying the hard “Ch” sound of the semi-popular singer of the time’s last name). I toyed with the idea of breaking out into “Fast Car,” but just said “Yes, like Tracy Shapman,” and that seemed to satisfy him.

Do you know how long it takes to finish a Cadbury Creme Egg if consumed by sucking out all the fondant through a tiny hole in the tip? A long time. The sound attacked a nerve in my brain. Oh my God, the slurping. She was like a crazed junkie getting a fix. But because we were celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ the next morning (at Notre Dame, no less!), I decided to let my friend live.

Good thing too, otherwise I would have been in a French jail instead of at the discotheque in my super hot periwinkle skort outfit with mock turtleneck and white tights. Amazingly, a French guy asked me to dance that night in spite of my outfit. For some reason, I’m more popular in France. I believe I’m three for three on dance requests at French discos/dances. Let’s just say the figure here in the U.S. is…lower. My friend titled this photo “Tracy at the piano bar.” It looks like I’m ready to begin my lounge singing career. Thank you!

My friend and I went back to France two years later, accompanying our high school French teacher and his students on their next trip. Being graduates, but not yet 21, the trip was a weird mix of independence and stifling. On that trip, we hung out with the chaperones just as much as with the students. We sang while walking back to our hotel in Nimes late one evening and I did Paul’s harmony on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and felt free (mostly of this). On this trip, it was hard to maintain the respectful silence required at the World War II memorial because my friend and I spied the ridiculous sign below. How the French expect school groups (and ahem, mature college students) to avoid giggling over wild boar warnings is beyond me. Especially when my friend posed on all fours and acted like a wild boar (the photographic evidence of which I’m kindly not publishing here).

This is in response to this week’s memoir prompt at the Red Dress Club. The prompt was to write about a memorable school trip. Word limit is 600.

People Watching

Sinking down into the comfortable reclining chair, I slide my feet into warm, bubbling water. Knowing the aesthetician and I will fall into silence after a couple of awkward questions and answers, I brought various forms of entertainment with me.

The busy salon door keeps opening, bringing more customers. They all arrive in pairs or groups. Finally, a lone woman enters. The receptionist motions for her to take a seat for her service. But she replies, “I’m meeting a friend, I’ll wait.” Huh, her too.

Filling the seats around me, these women chat about wedding plans, their children, vacations. Their conversations flow easily and pull my attention away from the magazine I’m halfheartedly flipping through and the Facebook statuses I’m absentmindedly checking.

The Facebook statuses! Facebook documents parties, potlucks, hometown reunions at holidays. Picture after picture shows smiling faces, arms comfortably draped around shoulders and waists.

At home, a recent warm day allows me to sit on the front porch. My next door neighbors walk past. We exchange smiles, waves, hellos. Some of our other neighbors run into them, each holding one of their new puppies. They laugh with the realization they independently decided to visit each other. As they walk past again, we exchange smiles, waves, and inquiries about our dogs. I sort through my mail, hearing their giggles and cooing over the puppies playing in the yard next door.

While responding to email at work, the voice of my newest coworker drifts down the hallway. She and another coworker are finalizing weekend plans. Other coworkers are calling in a lunch order, which reminds me it’s time to eat. On my way to the microwave, my coworkers and I exchange smiles and hellos.

At my previous job, I get an office mate after a year. Each time one of her visitors knocks, it takes me by surprise. I look up and exchange smiles and hellos. Within a few weeks of sharing an office, I catch up on a year’s worth of office gossip.

My graduate school has an office space just for students in my small program. When someone walks in, people smile and call out greetings. We help each other finalize homework between classes at the large wooden table in the common area. We snack on candy bars and complain about the volume of work and the early morning classes. My fellow students plan evening study sessions, dinners, and Melrose Place-watching parties.

During grade school, predicting when girls who had previously talked to me would decide to exclude me again is impossible, better to watch and wait for an affirmative sign before assuming anything.

Shortly after my fourth birthday, my mother takes me to preschool. We have driven by the building many times and I’m obsessed with the indoor slide I can see through a front window. My first day, I’m taken to a large room in the back of the building. The back door to the room leads to an outdoor playground. Sunbeams enter through the partially open door and the sounds of other children playing outside pour into the room. My teacher greets me and suggests I go play, waving her arm away from her desk. I look around carefully and it is not clear where to turn or what to do. All of the other children appear to be engrossed in activities already. The loud noises of their talking and laughter assault my ears.

Squinting to hold back tears, I wonder how everyone else knows each other already.


This post is in response to this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt at the Red Dress Club. The prompt: “We’d like you to write about what your character wants most.”

A Great Big Bundle of Joy

Holy shit, it’s December.

This turn of events is horrifying–where did 2010 go exactly? On the other hand, yesterday I got to open door number one on my Neuhaus advent calendar. Beyond all reason is a good way to describe the way I love Neuhaus chocolate. Look at how adorable this year’s advent calendar is…

So this means it’s Christmas time, and there’s no need to be afraid.  But I am a little afraid of my to do list.

Christmas was magical for me as a child. What’s not to love about Christmas as a kid, with the special events, vacation from school, the cookies, and the much-anticipated presents. Some of my childhood home life was, shall we say, unsatisfying, but at Christmas things seemed different. Christmas somehow lightened my father’s mood and the tension in the house that often permeated our day-to-day existence dissipated during the holidays. The front two rooms of our house were transformed by the tree and the beautiful soft glow of Christmas lights and our ridiculous, but awesome life-size light-up Santa. I can still feel the warmth and coziness of our house at Christmas and remember fondly all the traditions we religiously upheld (cutouts frosted in pink, orange-flavored drop cookies frosted in green, driving around the neighborhood to see light displays–the house with lights that blinked in different colors blew my mind, and even where we all sat to open gifts on Christmas morning). Christmas was like cuddling under a favorite blanket.

I started counting down the days more than a month out and created elaborate color-coded countdown calendars (now I have an electronic countdown timer because I am more mature and sophisticated).

I’m not sure when I turned this corner exactly, but lately I’ve started to see Christmas more as something to get through than something to look forward to and that depresses the crap out of me. Now if I want cookies, guess who’s baking them? Right, that would be me. (Shout out to my Mom for still making the traditional green-frosted orange cookies I loved as a child). Even if I don’t want something, I just might be making it.  Also, as a child, your Mom wraps up shaving soap for your Dad for you and your gift-giving is complete. As an adult, you are expected to put more effort into the giving. When I have a great gift idea for a loved one, usually my Mom or Dave, I get pretty jazzed about the giving. When I don’t have great ideas, or even OK ideas, which seems to happen more and more frequently, I feel gift-giving performance anxiety.

A couple of years ago, I found myself lingering in a surprisingly wistful way on a catalog page depicting a mother and daughter in matching flannel nightgowns sitting by their Christmas tree. Panic-stricken, I thought “am I changing my mind about having children?!?” I started to imagine myself in this catalog scenario and realized that I didn’t see myself as the mother in that picture. Imagining myself as the mother did not replicate the warm and fuzzy feeling. No, I was wistful about being the kid.

As I was writing this post, one that was originally intended to be about my Christmas to do list and trying to rekindle the joy, a possible explanation hit me for the dampening of my enthusiasm (I mean, in addition to having to create the magic myself now rather than my parents being responsible). Christmas used to be more interactive, a shared experience among family and friends. My immediate family was never large,  but through the early years of high school, my Gram was around to celebrate with and now she’s gone. In high school, my music class practiced Christmas songs for weeks and it was so engaging and special. We sang this absolutely hideous yet wonderful song called “Jazzy Jinglin’ Bells” (go ‘head, baby) which I will never forget even though it’s been 23 years (gulp). Our foreign language teachers taught us “Silent Night” and we sang the song in English, French, and Spanish at the Christmas assembly.

Making many different kinds of cookies has felt like such drudgery during recent Christmases. I was in high school when I first started this tradition. My friends used to come over and keep me company while I baked. In fact, there’s a cookie I can’t make without them. Napoleon Hats are almond-flavored cutouts filled with a ball made of almond paste and shaped to look like a tri-cornered hat. I’m too spatially challenged to shape these cookies myself. I get the dough made, rolled out, cut into circles, the almond paste balls placed in the middle and then… Yeah, try as I might to make three equally sized folds on a circular-piece of dough, I cannot do it so that it stays or looks like a Napoleon Hat. Miss you Erin and Sarah and Kristen, come help me make cookies!

In college, the University Choir hosted an annual “Boar’s Head” dinner. As a member of the choir, I helped serve the dinner to my fellow students and prior to each course we sang a festive holiday song. Wassail! In college and the years immediately after, visiting home at Christmas was a chance to catch up with everyone. In more recent years, I’ve lost touch with some friends and others have since moved away from my hometown.

One of my favorite Christmas-related memories is from a visit to Dave’s hometown when we were still dating. I can still make myself crack up thinking about the time we went shopping with Dave’s friend Jim on this visit. Dave and I were looking to spice up our Christmas music collection and Jim offered to buy him a CD for Christmas. Dave selected Acid X-mas. We popped the CD into the car’s player and cranked it up for the drive home. I will NEVER forget the look on Jim’s face as the first strains of “Carol of the Bells (A Demonic Christmas)” washed over us. We laughed so hard I thought I’d be sick. I can’t even remember how long it’s been since we’ve seen Jim.

So adulthood might take some of the shine off Christmas for more than one reason. At this point, I no longer want to provide a boring list of my Christmas to dos. Suffice it to say that it’s long, and that in my new time management spirit, I have created a spreadsheet (I know!) to ensure that completing it all is actually a do-able feat. I’ll probably share the fruits of some of the tasks here, but as for the list, who gives a shit. I’ve thought about cutting back, but I realize there’s a reason I do all this stuff. The tree is pretty. The gifts give people pleasure or at least let people know you care about them. The photo calendars let me use the photographs I’ve taken over the year in a creative way rather than just staying trapped on my computer. People enjoy the cookies and the buckeyes I make. And I’m GLAD that people enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Happy Advent!