A couple of blog posts back, I christened 2020 as my year of Clarity.
What seems natural to me as a result of this is for me to be experimental. Mostly with my creative writing; but I doubt that my writing pursuits would benefit if I wasn’t also willing to simultaneously be experimental in my day to day life. Experimental with what I do and how I do it. With who I interact with and how. With my choices.
So yesterday was Saturday. I love that day of the week, don’t you? Because of my planning tendencies, I usually manage to make it a decent combo of fun/relaxation and taking care of important shit. Like grocery shopping. Which I did do yesterday.
Saturday mornings I always sit down in front of my computer and do some writing for this blog. Yesterday I think I wrote two whole sentences on one half finished (hopefully not half-assed) blog post.
So that was weird experimental.
What was far more experimental, however, is that Spawn #2 (who recently moved themselves and their cat in with Hubs and I and needs a better moniker on this blog) and I sat down and watched the most bizarre film I have every seen in my entire life: Midsommar. I don’t even know where to start on this one. I don’t know that I can even recommend it. As I told the kiddo, I can’t unsee that. I don’t know that I can properly describe it even. It was a fucking trip.
Let’s just say if you have the right combination of the things, you might appreciate this film. Though I’m not even sure “appreciate” is the right word here. Maybe you don’t appreciate it as much as you arecompelled to see it through to the end because of morbid curiosity.
Here is what I feel one needs if they are to embark on the strange odyssey that is “Midsommar”:
A good block of time. Not that it’s the longest film ever; it’s just that we felt refreshed by the couple of breaks we took throughout the viewing. It’s that intense.
Patience. Much of the first half is, while tragic, very slooooowww moving.
Enthusiasm (or at least a heaping dose of tolerance) for the macabre.
A fascination with human psychology.
No one under 18 (or maybe 21?) in attendance.
A strong stomach and/or a willingness to avert your eyes PRN.
Willingness to hear more Swedish folk songs than you can imagine.
A sense of open-minded curiosity. Morbid works too, as mentioned above.
If you happen to be a fan of MST3K, you may want to consider not taking this film too seriously by making it a game with your friends. You know, the ones you can have a high old time playing “Cards Against Humanity” with.
If you have seen this film, please do me a solid and share your feedback in the comments. I would love to dish (no meat tarts though please) about this with someone!
My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.
I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.
In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.
More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.
So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.
Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.
I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.
I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.
Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
“Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k
While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.
Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.
FOOD AND DRINK
Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.
But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!
When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.
I personally love it!
I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!
Americana (also known as American roots music) is a genre of music that represents the spirit of the United States. It is a contemporary mashup of folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and gospel. It features a distinctive roots-oriented sound that exists apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it draws. It is often performed acoustically but at times includes a full electric band.
Americana music is my current jam, people. I’m at the point in my life where my musical tastes are more eclectic. In high school, I was all about Classic Rock and Top 100 Pop Hits. I listened to Kasey Kasem’s show on the regular. In my mid-twenties, when I was a mom to two toddlers, I went through a “New Country” phase (think Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill). I was an avid viewer of CMT.
What has always stuck with me, however, was an appreciation for classic country and bluegrass artists, like Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Reba McIntyre, Dolly Parton, Allison Krauss, and Garth Brooks. I’ve enjoyed their music since forever. These artists and more have no doubt ushered in the Americana genre.
What I love about the Americana genre of music is the storytelling aspect, much like the iconic country songs of yesterday. I love the bluesy, swampy melodies. I love the harmonies often found in these songs. And I love that these songs are uniquely American.
So it seems fitting to me as a creative writer, card carrying AARP member, and music lover in the current “upside down” political and social culture that is our United States to highlight the talents of today’s Americana musical artists that I enjoy and appreciate.
Here’s a sampling of songs that fall under the Americana umbrella that I find especially special:
Side note: Hubs and I saw Logan play live at the last John Hiatt concert we attended (I’ve written about John Hiatt in previous posts, but this post is the most comprehensive one). Logan opened for Hiatt, and after he did his set, the audience was invited for a “meet and greet” with him. I took this opportunity to tell him I thought he was an amazing performer and that I looked forward to watching him win his Grammys. Yes, I am a dork. But I’m also right on this one. “Mark my words” as my Mom used to say. If you chose to skip clicking on the link I provided above, you won’t know what I’m talking about. Just sayin’.
True confession: as I was putting this post together, I got myself thoroughly lost in Americana. I wanted to add songs from Drive-by-Truckers, Todd Snider, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams…
But instead I’m going to have a little faith that you, my music loving readers (Americana or otherwise), will treat yourself by checking out some of these artists and songs. Tell me what you think of them. Maybe turn me on to some new artists yourselves.
Here’s something special from the King (to me) of Americana music for your listening enjoyment:
Right now, life is very good for me and mine. I love my life here with Hubs and Radar in Colorado. I love my job. I’m excited about the opportunities it presents to me.
I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I want to these past couple of weeks, however (though I did manage to finally re-vamp my About page). I’ve been busy “doing” instead of writing; taking care of business rather than simply “being”. This is on account of me being left to my own devices with Hubs having to be out of town for work more often and my compulsion to stay on top of all the social planning that comes with the looming Thanksmissween holidays.
Speaking of which, Halloween is coming up next. Just 15 more days. I’ve been consumed with figuring out costumes for the two of us and Radar. And planning a Halloween potluck costume contest extravaganza for work. I’ve got a freaking awesome costume figured out for myself, btw. If it turns out the way I envision, I will surely post a pic or two in an upcoming blog post.
Radar is the best boy ever. We have totally bonded with him. He is so very smart. Two Sundays ago, this dog that started as a raving lunatic in beginner obedience training at PetSmart graduated from “Intermediate” obedience training, as a matter of fact. We plan to move on to “Advanced” obedience training in 2020. I’ve been tempted to write more posts about him, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the best path for me right now. So instead, I’ll share recent pics of him to get it out of my system:
While Hubs was off doing his work stuff in another state, I did take a little “me” time and watched an amazing movie on Netflix: “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. I seriously could write a whole post about each and every detail I adored about this movie, but instead I’ll just give you a quick summary:
It’s a documentary by Steve Young, a former writer for “The Late Show with David Letterman”. He happens upon industrial show tune albums, created between the late 50’s and 80’s for big company’s sales conventions, which were used for bits on the show. He uncovers this totally unknown-to-the-general public genre of music and essentially becomes obsessed with it. He becomes a rabid collector of these albums, making friends with other collectors along the way. He meets and has lovely interviews with some of the composers, writers, producers, and performers of these industrial show tune albums.
Steve’s story inspired me on several levels. Here he is, pushing 50 and about to enter a new phase of his life, as this was at the end of the run of “The Late Show with David Letterman”. He pursues this very specific, odd genre of musical entertainment out of a sense of sheer wonder and curiosity, like a dog with a Kong toy. In the end, he proudly displays his “freak flag” with this pursuit and shares the all the wonderfulness of it with the world through this documentary.
I think I ought to add this song to my “Soul Song” playlist ASAP!
So tell me, friends, how are you rocking and rolling right now?
I was planning on putting on my “reviewer of t.v. fare” hat on and wax on about how I love the Amazon Prime series “Catastrophe” and how you should all watch it.
But then I caught the Netflix series “Dead to Me” and decided you need to watch that one too.
First things first.
About Catastrophe: this show is, to me, the perfect blend of romance and humor. The writing is simply brilliant. And the very last episode was perfection. So unlike every other show that has a sucky last ever episode. Every single person who worked on this show in any capacity will benefit from this being on their resume.
Weirdly, the last episode included a joke about ceramic bananas(in reference to one of the main characters mom, played by the late great Carrie Fisher). While I believe one could posit that this is a great name for the next great rock band, in the vein perhaps of Greta Van Fleet, I related to it on a personal level.
Short description of this show: it’s a highly relatable, humorous tale of a marriage between middle agers Sharon, from Scotland, and Rob, from the good old USA. It’s set in England. The two meet, get between the sheets in record time, and before you know it, they are married and Sharon is pregnant. They muddle through life together, have another kid, and presumably live happily ever after (that is why the last ever episode ROCKED.)
Here’s a clip that I think gives you a taste of how this show rolls.
Other factors at play throughout the series include both Sharon and Rob’s struggles in their careers (she an elementary school teacher, he an ad man), their periodically dysfunctional family members and friends, and Rob’s struggle with alcoholism. The two of them banter just like real life married people. I so heart this show.
Now onto “Dead to Me”. This show is about sisterhood. The two main characters, played by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, are tied together by fate. One accidentally kills the other’s husband with her car (it was dark out and they didn’t see him in time), and they wind up in group grief therapy together. The two actresses play off each other so well. Their character’s personalities are quite different, which makes for interesting dialogue. There are twists and turns and plenty of drama, but plenty of laughs as well. I found it incredibly easy, not to mention enjoyable, to watch episode after episode in the span of a couple of weeks. This first season had a “holy shit” sort of ending which makes me so curious where the writers will take the story next. I can only assume there will be a Season 2.
I have recently begun watching “Little Big Lies”, which may be my next bingeworthy series. I was interested in watching it largely due to the actresses in the series: Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Laura Dern. Shailene Woodley. Zoe Kravitz.
Now, I have only watched the first 5 episodes of Season 1 thus far, so for anyone who has seen the entire series: No spoilers, please. I love surprises!
My take on this show (aka why I find it bingeworthy): it is set in beautiful California. The camera work showing scenes of the ocean is spectacular. The characters live in beautiful homes and have fabulous wardrobes.
I think the opening credits provide an excellent example of the aesthetics in this show. And this song is gorgeous, right?
Beyond the aesthetics is the complexity of the five primary female characters. They are all dynamic, multi-layered, strong women. They are moms first; they fiercely love their children. They have love/hate relationships with each other and in some cases with their spouses. The superb acting and storytelling are highly compelling. I just know there are deep, dark secrets going on under the surface and I am looking forward to their unveiling.
So tell me, my fellow bingers, what shows are bingeworthy to you? Please share comments on the shows I mentioned if you have also found them bingeworthy.
In the way back of my life, I was a college student working on a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As part of obtaining my degree, I was required to complete an internship.
This of course is not uncommon. I’m sure many of you readers have had your own experiences with internships.
I’d always been an eager student. Full of curiosity. Ready to soak up any knowledge there for the taking to better myself. I chose to intern at the local Children’s Home.
Working with intellectually disabled children was not necessarily my end goal, career-wise. As I recall, my decision to take that internship was guided more by the limited amount of choices before me. The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that managing these children’s erratic, peculiar, and sometimes explosive behaviors was not something I had an instinct or talent for.
And that was and is perfectly okay with me. The point is, I learned from that experience the track I didn’t want to pursue in my future career in social work.
Here’s the thing, though: while approximately 30 plus years have passed since this internship, I’m still as hungry as ever to learn something new. Expand my horizons. Both career-wise and for my own personal satisfaction.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the Esteemed Wizard of General Adult Education has presented me with an opportunity to be an intern again, at the age of 52. With no restrictions or guidelines. Just whatever kind of internship I can dream up. She is a wizard after all, so she can make that happen for me, right?
I believe that 99.9% of internships are unpaid, so I would have zero expectation of any financial compensation. But since this is my own customized internship opportunity, I would require that I 1) have the ability to set my own hours and 2) if the internship location was not in the north Denver metro area (where I currently live, if you didn’t know this already), that I would have free housing and a modest daily stipend for culinary sustenance.
Here’s one possibility:
Interning at Saturday Night Live. I am a life-long, hard-core fan of this show. From Gilda Radner’s “Rosana Rosana-dana” to Chris Farley’s “motivational” speaker sketch (I live in a van down by the river!) to Debbie Downer, all the incarnations of “Weekend Update” and most of everything in between, this show has amused me for over 40 years.
I imagine I’d be hanging out in the writer’s room while the writers spitball ideas for scenes, dialogue, or sketches. I’d have pen and notebook at the ready to jot down the best ideas and expand upon them. I’d have opportunities to interview the writers, asking them questions about their journeys to becoming the writers they are. I’d get to hang out with celebrities and learn a bit about what makes them tick.
I wouldn’t be just a taker in this scenario either. I’d provide sketch ideas, like this one:
Heidi Gardner, playing Brie Bacardi opposite Mikey Day’s Nico, is interviewed by the newbie entertainment reporter with a ridiculous name, played of course by Kenan Thompson. At Coachella. He asks her how she got her name. She explains that “years ago” (2017) at a “low key ” late evening soiree with her besties sitting by a fire on the beach, she drank this:
For reference, here’s one of the sketches featuring these two doofuses:
Once Brie realizes that Nico has been behind her photobombing the live interview, she loses her shit (because this interview was supposed to be all about her) and a ridiculous fight ensues, which ends when he hands her a new puppy he has named “Breezer”.
What do you think-do I have a shot?
More importantly, however: if you, imaginative and curious readers, could be an intern right now, where would it be and why? I would love to hear what you come up with!
My “Kindness Jar”, which I wrote about here, ended up being a bust in 2018. Don’t ask me why. It’s not because I stopped noticing the kindness of others around me, or because I did nothing kind for anyone at all this past year. I guess I just lost interest in documenting all the kindnesses. It started to feel like I was just repeating what I had done the previous year with my “Happiness Jar” (same jar).
So in mid 2018, I just stopped doing it. And truthfully, I hadn’t given my old jar much thought since then.
However, on New Year’s Eve, as Hubs and I were sprawled out on the couch binge-watching Netflix (OMG-you must watch Black Mirror), feeling a little buzzed on craft beer, we began talking about what could be lying ahead for us in 2019. Hubs declared that the word for 2019, the word that would be mantra for the year as we plunge into our 29th year of marriage would be this: Adventure.
Now, that got me excited. So excited that I was prompted to come up with a new use for my old jar. In 2019, it’s going to be referred to as the “Adventure Jar”.
This is not to say that we are going to write down an adventure we had each and every day. That would be ridiculous. And likely disappointing.
Instead, we are going to individually jot down, when the moment strikes, one small (or big) “adventure” to pursue in 2019. As I told Hubs, the “adventure” need not be anything huge. Or costly. Or terribly time-consuming. It could be anything from “let’s go for a hike somewhere we haven’t been before”, “let’s try that new restaurant”,”let’s write a blog post together”, or “let’s visit the Sand Dunes in Moab”. Simple, doable, new-to-us experiences.
The only real requirement of this plan, as I told Hubs, is that whatever the chosen “adventure” is, it has to be something that we have not yet done as a couple. Something new.
Then, on perhaps a weekly or at least monthly basis, we will pluck one of our little notes out of the jar, then proceed towards the chosen adventure.
We started living out our “adventure” mantra this past weekend, in fact. As we did nothing of any real interest during the Christmas holidays, and on account of Hubs being furloughed (because of a stupid wall no one really wants besides that big dummy in the White House) and him being stuck at home every day essentially since 12/22, we decided to go on an overnight adventure.
In the spirit of being adventurous, I approved Hubs’ suggestion that he could do all the packing. That way, he could simply pick me up from work promptly at 2 p.m. on Friday (have I mentioned how much I love my part time hours??) and we could be merrily on our way.
This was indeed an exercise in trust.
Now, this blog is called “Pollyanna’s Path” and I do endeavor to exhibit as well as inspire a positive outlook, so all I’m going to say about the whole packing thing is on a scale of 1-100, Hubs got a solid 80. I’m not entirely certain that in the future I would be quite as willing to trust his ability to remember every essential thing (essential according to me that is) I need to go from looking like a troll doll when I wake up to looking like a reasonably decent member of polite society. But we’ll see.
Okay, so we drove 1 hour away to Idaho Springs, Colorado. The primary point of us going to this specific locale was to enjoy some time soaking here. We did that on Saturday. It was soooo relaxing. And serene. And comforting. And romantic (despite the 50 + people of all ages, genders and nationalities frolicking in the warm, soothing water all around us).
On Friday night, we stayed at this sweet little B&B. It was cozy, the bed was comfortable and breakfast on Saturday morning was quite a treat. An unexpected added bonus was the chit-chat we had with the other two married couples over this breakfast of quiche, hashbrowns, ham, and toast with homemade jam. They were all close in age to Hubs and I. They all had grown children. They were also seemingly hungry for adventure, just like us. We chatted about places in Colorado the couple from California could see before they had to fly home on Sunday. We chatted about having grown ass adult “kids” and how things are different for today’s millennials than back when we were in our 20’s. We talked about the legalization of weed (general consensus: alcohol is far more dangerous in our society than weed ever could be).
During our convo with these other couples, I was told that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. Hubs was told he bears a striking resemblance to this guy:
The ironic thing is, Hubs and I recently caught the movie “Vice” (I give it mixed reviews) and started getting into “Black Mirror” (mentioned above) and this particular actor, Jesse Plemmons, was in both of them (and of course in the movie “Game Night”-pictured above-which we really enjoyed). Upon seeing the first episode of “Black Mirror” I told Hubs that this guy looks like he could be his younger brother. His less-good-looking-than him younger brother, of course.
We also enjoyed a nice, “neat”, glass of whiskey at a local bar in Idaho Springs. And we couldn’t leave the place without scarfing down some awesome “Colorado style” pizza at the original Beaujou’s. They have a bottle of honey on each table to dip your crust into to enjoy as a little dessert.
This little getaway was very refreshing and re-energizing for both of us. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Hubs as this year goes on.
What’s in your “jar” for 2019? Or maybe you have a special word, as Hubs and I now do, to guide you through this new year? Please share in the comments!