Before we get into anything, I just have to say, because it just happened, that while Sloane is napping, I just finished reading the last page of the book, "Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay", in a series by Elena Ferrante. I read it immediately following the first two, "My Brilliant Friend" and "The Story of a New Name" and ran through these at breakneck speed, consuming them as if I had a ravenous hunger. It's still rattling and reverberating around in my head now, and I'm reeling from the cliffhanger endings these books have and had in this last one, because I thought the third book was the last in the series, but it turns out that there is a fourth coming and it's not coming until September 2015 (!). The skill with which these novels are written - compelling story lines and characters, fluid prose and an exploration of theme of female friendships and identity - held me captive throughout three books. I'm still processing the effects and maybe I'll come back to write down some more reflection, but I wanted to share here that if you're looking for something to read, these books might be worth your time. My soul feels full at the satisfaction of having finished some great books; my mind feels burdened with all the thoughts that I want to think about in regards to what I just read.
A nap seems like just the thing right now, but instead I'm going to write some words here, because there are things to be said and things to share, and if not now, it won't ever happen, so here we go!
On Friday, our friends the Agabas and Robinsons threw a Christmas party for loads and loads of people and in they came, some in twos, some in fours, some in nines...filling up the house with drinks and snacks and kids and babies, and in between the treats and hugs, there was singing. I love singing Christmas songs together in a big group - it cements the existence of this holiday season deep within my icy heart, and makes me feel festive and part of something, good. Everyone got in a big circle of sorts and we sang Christmas carols and hymns, with the kids joining in too, and the babies looking either joyful or bewildered and all in all, it was a beautiful time.
Up there is family photo at that party, and then next to that is a picture of Ken and myself right before we went out to his work Christmas party, third year in a row, in pretty much the same outfits each year, except that this year, Sloane danced around me as I got ready, her eyes shiny as she looked at me try on several dresses. "This one, mommy!" "Twirl, mama!" "Where's my necklace?" "Try on anther one?" I felt like someone important, with a tiny admirer flitting about me with excitement and making everything feel more special. She knew how to help me zip up my dress and I turned that moment into a little treasure that I tucked away in my mind's box of such treasures.
I've been trying my best. I'm trying my best to keep going, to finish my to-do lists and my sentences, to have fun at work parties and celebrate the season. But some days, my best is completely overwhelmed and I wonder if the strain of trying my best is appearing in the form of cracks across my face. I've made it through some of the tougher days and I attribute that to anything from providence to the good ol' responsibility gene that lives inside me. Sometimes though, the lifeline comes in the form of some of the best shrimp and grits I've ever had, delivered to me at work by a saintly friend. That bowl of shrimp and grits (from The Dog and Pig Show) served me like a hug that lasted all day... and that card!
Another sort of lifeline is the kind of workout that kicks your butt but gets your heart pumping in just the right way and reminds you that you are alive and capable, and really capable of sweating and surviving. I did a "12 days of Christmas" workout at my Crossfit box on Saturday morning (with people in respective Christmas gear) and even though I had to drag my butt over to work immediately after that, the workout and doing it with all these people, put me in a great mood.
Finally, to end, here are some things I think are worth sharing. These things have also been helpful in getting me through the workday, and getting me closer to Christmas.
1. Best songs of 2014 from NPR: It's a massive list of over 300 of NPR's favorite songs of 2014, and you can stream them all right here.
2. 25 best podcast episodes from Slate: I've heard some of them already, but I've been making my way slowly through the ones I haven't.
3. Speaking of podcasts, have you been listening to Serial? I laughed aloud watching this video and found this article about what the innocence project is looking at in regards to this case really interesting.
4 more days until Christmas!
4 more days until Christmas!