Christmas was...Christmas. Pretty dull, really, at least from the family standpoint. I stayed 5 days in the inordinately snowy hometown, wearing extra sweaters because my parents still like their house at deep freeze-levels. Most of the trip was spent shopping for my new car, which was actually acquired on the Monday after Christmas (a week ago tomorrow). I traded the '02 Civic LX (black, 5-speed) for an '11 Civic LX ("polished metal metallic" [a.k.a. dark gray], automatic), plus a few grand in payments. It's my first real new car (the former spouse bought the last one without much input on my part) and both very cool and terrifying. It had 6 miles on it when I drove it home. !
New Years was a combination of delightfully mellow (I was a new, low-key version of plastered on Friday night) and stressful. The Cat-Beasts opened their home to me for the weekend. I drove up Friday after work. The Beast is a heavy-handed pourer; he wouldn't make himself any money if he worked his own bar. Saturday started out a quiet morning, until the rest of the family arrived--some Cats and some Beasts--and things just became a little more complicated.
No, the nephew was not present.
This brings to mind my resolutions for 2011. Yes, I am usually reluctant to the point of belligerent regarding the making of resolutions, but this year I was both too intoxicated and frustrated to refrain. Therefore, I resolve that as of this year...
"no fraternizing with lawyers; more sleep; avoid nephews, games, and potholes."
(As posted to my Facebook at 11:48 Friday night.) What does it mean? Last year's New Years' kiss (albeit slightly delayed)--and lots of other angst--was with/about/over a lawyer; sleep helps with everything; there's nothing good for me in the nephew; games (I mean mind games, not table tennis or cards) wind me up; and potholes, literally and metaphorically, cause damage that it can take years to work out.
Some of my friends might be surprised to realize that theirs are the games that I plan to avoid.
I read a couple of books this weekend. Tim Farrington's The Monk Upstairs (the sequel to The Monk Downstairs, obviously enough) is a novel about a graphic designer married to a former monk. Absolutely filled with dying, confusion, and dysfunction, it is both lyrically written and enormously depressing. I can't say I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't read and loved its predecessor. The second book, Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes by Merrill Feitell, is a collection of short stories that I have re-read several times and appreciated more and more each time. The book won the Iowa Short Fiction Award in 2004. The standout selections that resonate particularly strongly for me are "The Marrying Kind", in which a pregnant woman attends the wedding of her former lover, and the title story, "Here Beneath Low-Flying Planes", about a woman who is dating a younger relative of her best friend.
Last night, I dreamed that I was visiting the Cat-Beasts. The difference was that they were also hosting The Cat's two nephews (the regular Thanksgiving guests) as well as her niece and niece's husband, who were over for New Years'. Because the house was extra full, the nephews were in the guest room in which I typically sleep, and I was in the basement on the blue couch. In the dream, I was asleep on the couch--facing the back of the couch, curled into a ball with my face half-covered--when I felt someone grasp my shoulder and give a little shake. I opened my mouth to yell, but before I could make a noise, a hand covered my mouth. That freaked me out even more, so I took another breath and yelled again, while trying to bite the hand over my mouth. Once I calmed down, though (after the person managed to whisper something that I could understand), I realized that it was The Enigmatic Nephew. He was dressed in a standard set of little-boy flannel pajamas (much like the ones at left, only sans feet) (no, that is NOT him in the photo), buttoned all the way up to the top, and his hair (hey, he had hair!) was tousled. I was suddenly glad to be wearing my own concession to sleeping in someone else's house: a long-sleeved t-shirt and flannel PJ pants. I asked him, rather urgently, what the hell he wanted, waking me up in the middle of the night.
Hot Nephew: "I'm bored."
Me: "Go to sleep!"
N: "Can't sleep."
N: "Go for a run with me."
Now, this makes absolutely no sense, given that the two of us could hardly be less energetic at the best of times, not to mention the utter absurdity of running in someone else's neighborhood in the middle of the night. And then there's the idea of the two of us doing anything at all together. Alone.
Me: "Are you insane? I'm not going to run with you. I'm asleep!"
N: "No, you're not. We're talking. At least come out for a walk or something. I'm clearly not going to let you get back to sleep if you don't humor me."
So we pulled on our heavy coats over our PJs, put on running shoes (which makes zero sense, too, as an item we might pack for that stay), and slipped out the door.
We walked through the neighborhood until the sun started to show. Our faces were flushed pink and our noses were running a little. Neither of us spoke at all.