18 December 2006

It's beginning to look and feel a lot like...

...sheer insanity, that is if you've been bold enough to brave the mall. Shopping has never been my passion or forte - which has worked out well for my bank account.

I'm happy to say that Wilmington and I both survived the Star-News article that appeared last Tuesday. We both managed quite well I do believe and, my wonderful friend in NYC came up with the best title imaginable for the submission I have to finish in three weeks. Working on that layout only consumes every other waking moment. The rest of my non-existent free time has been spent getting in gear for Christmas. It feels as if the days are flying faster than the speed of sound or light or maybe Jet Blue, huh Katie? :-)

I have to say that my daughter just wrote a blog entry that made me laugh and I can't help it, I am so proud of her talent - she's perfectly sardonic and what a style she has! Her latest blog entry is entitled and, do yourself a favor and read this one, "All I want for Christmas is not to die in a fiery plane crash". If I didn't know better, I would swear she's adopted, but I do know better and she's 110% mine and how happy I am that she is. I feel the same about her brother, who's writing style is also off-center, keeping with the family of writers he is connected to, and with although, in all fairness, he is perhaps a little more sentimental - a trait that Katie and I just don't quite grasp or show much interest in adopting. Of course, I'm proud of them and not simply because I am their mother. If you do visit Katie's blog (vox), please be sure to leave her some good advice and hopeful words and the more acerbic, the better!

Let's see, what all has gone down in the past week. Aside from my coming out in my hometown newspaper as a recovering alcoholic (just another day at the office, right?), I have received some wonderful e-mail - amazing really, the kind words of people I know and people I would like to know. Not to mention the fellow Wilmingtonians who've stopped and commented on the story and said such kind and supportive words to me.

I am most relieved to say that the only surprises I've encountered have been positive and each one has reaffirmed for me that I did the right thing. I'm glad I consented to that interview and I truly do love hearing how people have related their experiences because they read about mine. Hearing similar accounts paved the way for me three years ago. I think if we're about anything at all, it should be directed toward making things easier for those who follow. I don't feel uncomfortably exposed or that some dark and treacherous secret has escaped. I put it out there, I stand behind it and I'd do it again.

If someone reading this has written me in the past week and you haven't heard back from me as of yet, please know I'm working on it! I LOVE the e-mail, but as of 1:11 AM, I have over 80 still left to read and I'm getting there. I think my e-mail must have rabbit-like features because it seems to be multiplying! I'm certainly not complaining and truth to tell, I love receiving messages so much that I like to take my time and read through each one - it's just that in these fleeting days before Christmas, I'm not quite as efficient as I might normally be, but I'll get there!

Stephanie and I braved the mall on Sunday. It was sheer madness. I think we spent about two hours in Brookstone and played with all kinds of cool gadgets. It was, in fact, gadget heaven! I know I was int here perusing items for gifts but my gosh, I wanted everything in that store and if the mall hadn't closed we would probably still be there pushing buttons, wondering how everything works and oh my gosh, I saw the coolest things! One item that had my name written all over it was this sort of self-contained eco-sphere. It came complete with salt water, algae, and yes, a brine shrimp and it was all encapsulated in this elliptical glass vessel with no opening. It didn't need one! I would LOVE to have that whatever it is and if I did, I'd place it on my desk right beside my monitor. It would provide hours of entertainment between pages. I could literally watch that tiny creature grow and do whatever tiny creatures in ecospheres do. See? I really need one because it's a mystery to me what occurs in that thing after days and weeks and months. I kind of doubt I'll find one under my tree because I don't think my family would even notice it, but my gosh, it's beyond cool.

And what Christmas shopping trip would be complete without Wal-mart? We couldn't escape a visit to the South's version of Saks Fifth Avenue. More wall-to-wall people and, of course, the added challenge of navigating a shopping cart. I cajoled Stephanie into pushing it most of the time. I tried to keep diverting her attention so that she wouldn't realize that she was pushing the stupid thing. I hate pushing carts and clogged aisles make me crazy.

While Stephanie and I were banging around "seasonal" in search of cookie-cutters, Katie text-messaged me. Katie's text read as follows, "We're eating sushi and Julia Stiles is two tables over from us.". I read it aloud to Stephanie and we looked around us and I think we both came up with the same reply which read, as follows: "We're in Wal-mart and within ten feet of two Nascar, confederate-flag waving rednecks. One is even dressed in camo."

I hated one-upping her, given that she's in Manhattan and eating ill-prepared food among the glitterati, but she asked for it. It wasn't like I text-messaged her first simply to brag about the colorful comings and goings at Monkey Junction Wal-mart, but I never shy away from touting the advantages of living large below the Mason-Dixon Line. I didn't divulge that I was drinking iced tea - that might have pushed her over the edge and she's nearly there already - and please, don't forget to read her Vox blog and read that one of a kind melodramatic post - such a heart-warming blog entry, no question. It ranks as some of the best literature it has been my pleasure to read this year. David Sedaris couldn't touch the quality of her latest offering. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll get the picture.

We FINALLY made it home from hell (Wal-mart) and had all of 40 minutes to wrap Justin's presents before he pulled in from work. Justin has a gift for snooping and discovering every single gift and stealing the thunder of the gift-giver, eradicating any thrill of watching his face "light up" as he unwraps one "un-surprise" after another because he can't seem to keep himself from prying. He's good at it, I'll give him that, but my gosh, it's so anti-climatic for everyone concerned. There have been years when I've thought, why bother wrapping it? But I've generally gone through the motions mostly for the sake of other family members knowing deep inside that to keep something under wraps from Justin is a feat not often accomplished. It's not like he's clairvoyant - he's a blatant snoop! I don't even think he can help himself and I rather doubt that he makes much of an attempt. After all these years, I've accepted it, but I had to school Stephanie on his antics - this is her first Christmas among us and she has no idea what she's in for. Bless her.

The good news is I chipped away impressively at my list and the bad news is I chipped away depressingly at my bank account. December is always a financial juggling act - but somehow, it all works out. I have to say I have really enjoyed these last few days and though I miss Katie to pieces, she sends me text messages, e-mails, indulges me with phone calls as she pushes her way through the stores and subways like the New Yorker she is - a role she was destined to play.

I also want to say something about my Mom, who turned an impressive 83 on 13 December 2006. Two words: She's amazing. The woman is unbelievable in what she still manages to take on and the thousands of things she does for all of us, who are blessed enough to be related to this dynamo. She is the ultimate Mother and makes June Cleaver look like such a slacker.

Vanessa sat my mother in her magic chair and gave her a lot of attention and pampering this past Thursday and a very lovely haircut. It was great having my parents visit at work and they brighten up any room they walk into. They infuse calm and humor into so many lives simply by being themselves plus, how often is it that anyone runs into a couple who've been married for over 60 years and who openly adore each other? Talk about icons. You bet I'm proud of them both. Thank you to my dear Mom for everything you have done and continue to do in order to make our lives run so smoothly. In every sense, Maxine Cook is a beautiful person. We are better people because of her love and care. As long as we can keep her away from a computer, we will be fine because if she ever fell prey to the same computer/online addiction that everyone else in this house suffers from, we would not be long for this world. Fortunately, she's too antsy to sit still for any length of time which is, no question, our saving grace.

Good stuff is breaking out all over the place - in fact, I'm nearly afraid to discuss it or write about it just yet. While I am grateful, I want to deal with it in just the right way and assign the proper attention and focus the work I'm doing merits. I'm sure I'll overcome my hesitancy to discuss events in the next few weeks, but for now, I think it might be best to keep things under cover.

For now, just color me grateful.