10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!
I’m one of those saps at the party who actually yells “Happy New Year!” as the clock strikes midnight, while everyone else’s lips are otherwise occupied in a New Year’s kiss with the one they love. Or I’m not at a party at all, opting to clear the collision course for the braver drivers on New Year’s Eve by staying home and watching old movies, baking cookie, cleaning house, or crocheting. Or blogging. Ok, when I say it out loud like that it sounds a little sad. But really, I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. Continue reading
Do you ever stop to think about what a memory really is? Like exactly what it is that is sticking around our brains, how we store it, and how much detail we store? I sometimes wonder if memories, at least the kind we reproduce anecdotally, are just that–anecdotes–stories that we tell and retell to ourselves in our own mind. And as things that get told and retold are want to do, these stories morph as details blur or merge or disappear or get embellished (ever play the game Telephone?). So our memories are less like snapshots and souvenirs in a scrapbook and more like folklore–dangling from a thin cord of facts amidst a cloud of details and possibilities.
I think we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another, or else have been asked, what our first real memory is. When do children start making memories, anyway? I can tell you things that happened when I was only a few months old, like the time I stole my cousin’s pacifier and clutched it–and my own– next to my face, giggling, while he bawled and screamed. But I’m certain that these are merely anecdotes related to me by other adults in my life and not real memories. I think I remember hitting that same cousin on the head with a hammer a couple of years later, but wonder if I only remember hearing this rather remarkable tale repeated by parents and other adult parties involved in ajudicating the situation in its aftermath.
I distinctly remember deciding when I was in first grade that my first real memory was of my cousin (yes, same one) biting me on the arm when I wouldn’t give him my Baby Glowworm (this might’ve been why I later hit him with that hammer!). But now I wonder if my memory of that event–which had no adult witnesses to retell the tale to me–is really just a story that I told myself, that I replayed in my little tow-head as I lay in my crib, and then in my big girl bed, until by the time I reached first grade it had solidified as a bone fide memory. I wonder.
But there are others types of memories I can’t explain in the same way. I can’t explain the way walking by a display of Love’s Baby Soft perfume after it’s just been sprayed brings to mind images of my hot pink Caboodles makeup case full of all my contraband cosmetics I used to hide in my closet; I’m certain I’ve never replayed a story like that (until just now, putting it into words). It’s more than just recognizing the smell and then associating it with a time and place in my past. The smell creates the memory, and suddenly I’m recalling slumber parties and dresses I wore on school picture day or to school dances that I didn’t remember I remembered.
Then there’s the memory of a familiar voice. Continue reading
I love to travel, but I hate hate hate flying. Actually, it’s not the flying I hate so much as it is the ordeal it takes to get to and from the plane. Being on the plane, up in the air–that’s cake…usually. But the rest of the air travel experience is something I could do without.
I spend a lot of time on airplanes. Maybe not as much as, say, an executive who flies from city to city on a weekly basis, but certainly more than I’d ever expected to. In fact, I never set foot on an airplane until I was 22 years old. Now, living three thousand plus miles from my entire family, I make the cross-country flight from California to Ohio (and back) at least 4 times a year. Throw in a couple of flights for conferences and the odd vacation, and I’m typically at 10 round-trips a year, with many of those having at least a couple legs. Boy, do my arms get tired!
I have no fear of flying, but I dread every minute spent in the airport. Maybe it has something to do with the hour I fly at (I’m typically torn from my bed around 3:00 a.m. to catch a shuttle to the airport for my 6:00 a.m. flight), but I am certainly at my least patient and most irritable in airports. Between the unseasonsed travellers, the over-priced food and beverages, the akwardness of dragging luggage through crowds and into bathrooms, and the lack of communication from the airlines regarding flight status, it’s enough to frazzle the most sedate of us. That’s why I make sure to always pack some zen.
My carry-on bag is my solace from the colicky babies, angry men on cell phones, and overly cheerful (though ultimately unhelpful) airline employees. After 5-ish years of flying, I’m finally getting close to the perfect bag of zen to get me through just about anything–including late nights on horrid airport benches and floors. I just made the big West > East Coast flight this past weekend; here are the contents of my latest goody bag: Continue reading
The last time I saw my grandfather alive he was crying.
In my 23 years I’d never seen him cry before. There was something so unsettling, so disjointed about the whole thing that I couldn’t acknowledge it. From across my grandparents’ living room–a room I’d spent more time in, perhaps, than any other room–it was difficult to make out the tears dampening the weathered skin behind his glasses. But when he said good-bye there was the unmistakeable crack in his voice–not from age or weariness, but from a half-sob being stifled behind a strong, proud facade.
For a split second–no, that’s too long–for the shortest moment I’ve ever been conscious of I contemplated crossing the room, back to him, for a final hug before I walked out the door. But that kind of contact would only intensify the tears, the ones we’re both trying desperately to hide by casting our eyes into the glimmers of sunlight filtering through the blinds in the window. And then I’d have to acknowledge that my grandfather–my hero–is crying. That I’m breaking his heart by leaving. I’m too young and headstrong to do this, so I dab the dampness from my eyes on my grandmother’s shoulder as I hug her goodbye. I walk to the car and suffer a series of deep sobs, shoulders shuddering huddled behind the steering wheel, before composing myself to drive the two blocks to my parents house to catch my ride to the airport.
It was January, and I was preparing to fly back to California after a wonderful Christmas break spent with family. Continue reading