Earlier in the week I took my kid to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park where he enjoyed Dutch pancakes and rides on metal reindeer, and we were both thrilled to partake of a mighty fine carousel.
Then we raced over to the Southbank Centre for a magical, hilarious, and rather creepy appointment to visit Santa's Secret Village.
Now we're building robots and eating leftovers and enjoying the waning days of the year.
Whatever you celebrate or decry, merry winter wishes!
I have a new UK phone number!
I made a haphazard guess at who might wish to know it, and emailed accordingly.
If you didn't hear but need/want it, just write me a note!
If you are looking for last minute inspiration on holiday gifts, check out a few of my awesome friends:
Some trivia: the original TESC site was designed by Phan, Brian Ventura, Byron Two, and probably that dude who lived under the floorboards, though the administration did not understand why a college could possibly need such a thing, and therefore failed to complete the technical changes required to make it resolve to the correct name... it was just a string of numbers for years.
Some more: Back in ye olden days I was the only person in any of the grad programs who had an email account, and one of perhaps 4 in the entire institution - professors often asked me to send messages to faraway colleagues on their behalf.
Of course I work best in the midst of chaos, and the day has certainly delivered on that level!
Though my spotty memory - my kid calls it 'nominal aphasia' which is as good a term as any since most of it devolves to the head injury - is interfering with the project.
A couple of years ago I was hanging out with KTS in NYC and he squinted and said What was the name of that first guy you married?
I pondered, then replied Um, dunno.
KTS has been a friend long enough he just sighed and said Dude was the scariest person I have ever met!
Lucky KTS, especially given he, like me, grew up in the grimmer forgotten corners of the NW.
I perceived my first husband as amusing and sweet, even if I sometimes forget his name. Perhaps because we haven't talked in the last fifteen years, though technically the failure might convey more than should be allowed about my skewed mental faculties in 1989.
I'm way behind on a deadline but rather than buckling down I am instead attempting to purchase xmas presents on ebay.
Procrastination can be fun!
Though technically I am struggling with the thing I am supposed to be writing, since it is about stuff that happened in the late eighties.
You might think the fact that I've published a memoir means I have exhausted the topic of youthful indiscretions, but no.... in fact, several years and most of the formative experiences were skipped entirely.
I still haven't figured out how to accurately describe the way madness, secrecy, sex, and poverty smacked up against each other and eventually forced me to leave the peninsula.
I can't even quite figure out how one day I was riding around with cholo boys and the next had gone underground with militiamen. I mean, c'mon. Does that really seem like something a polite, politically engaged honors student would do?
Let alone the fact that I regarded sex as a commodity to trade not for drugs or money but instead for eradication of repellent ideologies. Want some action? Then ya gotta change your essential belief system, buddy.
My tshirt might have proclaimed One Shot, One Kill but I was at heart a missionary. I never had any problem messing around with any sort of bad kid, so long as they were prepared to be reformed. Lonely addicts, violent thugs, racist assholes? I always believed that if they followed my simple rules each and every one could find redemption.
Strangely, my messianic approach worked in most cases. It appears that I was very convincing. Especially when they wanted to sleep with (or marry) me.
Now of course I am bored by the results. My gun totin' sociopath ex is not just a businessman, he wears Dockers! Oh, the horror!
Even the serial rapist grew up to be more dull than could have been predicted back in the day.
I have no grudges, and care so little I do not even wish them well. It all seems like a dream, not just because youth often fades to a strange luster, but because I was crazy.
I do not recognize myself in any of the stories from August of 1988 until, oh, the winter of 1992. During which time almost everything you could fear or imagine happening, happened.
The bifurcation of my life was tremendous yet I had almost no emotions at all. Nor did I sleep, except occasionally passing out in the car during my 120 mile daily round-trip commute. The only bits I remember enjoying were playing with my kid, reading case law, and arguing with housemates about post-structuralism.
Nothing really made sense then, and the intervening years have not helped. People who were around are often surprised when I reveal some pulpy and preposterous true fact that was hidden at the time. I'm unable to remember large swaths of the daily reality.
The other night someone asked if I'm having an affair and I replied in astonishment Here, in Cambridge? With who exactly?
In a word: ick!
Why do so many people insinuate that would be the best solution for my perpetual boredom with this town? Just because I pontificate about sex does not mean I'm looking for a hookup, and very specifically not with a drab academic. I don't even enjoy talking to them for the most part!
Even if there were sexy people around, I do not desire additional encumbrances, and I have never successfully managed to pull off a light-hearted romance. They always want to marry me, and that is tedious.
I think the locals just want me to act up for their own amusement, in the same way Jean expects me to regale his dinner parties with gun stories.
Too bad! I am not a court jester!
The only thing I'm asking Santa for this year is more time to work.
Last December I was in Rome definitely not having an affair with Jody (though it amused Muffy to presume otherwise) and he just posted a bunch of images from the trip on Facebook.
Sniff. I miss him!
New on HM by, um, me:
Have you ever wondered if there is a terrible truth about Santa - who he is, how he treats his elves, and what his home life has become? This holiday season reveals all, in a new play by Greg Kotis, the Tony Award winning writer of Urinetown, featuring the entire multi-talented Kotis-Halliday family! One strong warning: this is definitely not a show for children!
Hip Mama caught up with matriarch Ayun to discuss the new play.... click for more
Last night I was invited to go partying in London with some coked up Eurotrash kids, but I declined.
Have I finally grown up?
Or do I just dislike taking the late train home?
Presumably the latter.
Though I have never enjoyed any bar scene (aside from the Bus Stop - but that was more like a home than a drinking establishment). I certainly do not feel inclined to spend any more time or money in Shoreditch than is strictly necessary.
One of the hideous aspects of doing taxes is the fact that I have to account for my whereabouts on every single day, and state whether or not I was working.
While this might be fun when simply musing, it is a massive pain to present in a form accepted by tax and immigration officials.
During the two years I documented yesterday, I was never in my designated residence longer than four weeks at a time.
2006 found me in Seattle, Amsterdam, NYC, Phoenix, Seattle, Barcelona, Trento, Venice, then back to Seattle again - with lots of trips to London in between.
2007 looks better at a glance but the trips were longer, including almost a whole summer in the Pacific Northwest, then the South of France, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Denver.
Both years were easier than 2005, when I traveled in a similar fashion and also went on two long book tours.
In the abstract it all looks like great fun, and it would be churlish to claim otherwise. I am delighted that I had the freedom, opportunity, money, and sufficiently good health to go on all the trips, no matter how difficult or strange.
I started this journal in 2002 to document the process of abandoning my home in Portland for what looks easy in retrospect - just a move up the I-5 corridor to a house on top of a hill in Seattle. At the time the decision seemed perilous, risky, extreme.
I didn't know that a little over a year later I would end up leaving not only the Pacific Northwest but also the country. I had no idea I would end up in England, let alone this rarefied and irritating academic enclave. I did not guess that I had the capacity to spend most of my time recklessly, on the road, or that my domestic arrangements would devolve to include not much more than a boat and a bicyle. I did not understand that I could love an unsettled existence more than the security of home.
I worked too hard, cooked too much, stayed up too late, indulged beyond reason, and thrashed my immune system. I always forget that I am technically fragile, and should restrict my actions or risk some health consequence.
This time the curse has taken the form of bleeding hands. Fun!
Possibly the only thing more fun than having this mysterious stigmata is using the bleeding knuckles to do my taxes. Especially given that I'm self-employed, need to file in two countries with tax years that do not match, and .... etc.
My life is filled with excitement and glamor!
Speaking of which, last night someone pointed out that my music collection includes no love songs whatsoever. I was quite huffy - what, Elliott Smith isn't romantic?!
But then I was able to dredge up some John Denver and Stevie Wonder, so my reputation was saved.
While I think l-o-v-e is idiotic, I truly adore holiday music. If you share this interest, check out Festive!.
Anyone living in or near Cambridge, England (and even those beyond) should definitely consider snagging tickets for The Magic Lamp.
Yes, I know it claims to be a 'family' show.... but it is my mates Sally and Steve - two of the most interesting people I have ever met - at the Junction!
Planning for my annual expat feast always starts with the directive Borrow a house.
This year it should have been Borrow a bigger house.
People congregated from near and far, sworn vegetarian Nick made the meaty gravy like always, I bustled around making food and holding babies and laughing.
I have no idea how many people turned up, but it was so crowded I couldn't get in the room to serve the turkey. Or sit. Or eat.
In fact, I did not even get a slice of pie!
It was an honor to feed my friends and loved ones a traditional harvest meal, and to reflect on all the things I am thankful for.
Top of the list, even after all these years? The National Health Service.
Perhaps one day my homeland will offer decent provision of health services to all citizens. Maybe our new president will keep his promises.