Saturday, January 10, 2015

YoCP > YoTP

Well, friends the YoCP is over (well, technically it was over when Jolie ended it early mid-way through the year, but I had kept going on it...mostly). Looking back over the year, I'm impressed with how many things I got done.

There was the shoe purge, and the wrapping paper impressiveness, and of course, the big closet. My car was cleaned (and ahem, could probably use a touch up) and the BBQ was scoured. I even threw in a bonus porch project just for kicks.

But I didn't finish everything. There are still two cards left unturned, plus a few of those silly celebration cards. I mean, yes, I had a drink and admired my work in December, but there's something that doesn't quite feel right about turning over those last few "you did it" cards until I've actually done it, ya know?

I've started assessing and paring down the kitchen and dining things (erm, last week, when I also purged the pantry). We did some of the guest room boxes. But there's still work to do. And thus, I begin thinking about what this year will hold, homemaker-wise.

There's no YoCP: Redux happening, but I still like the idea of putting my projects up on the board. It really helped me to visualize all the things I want to do and only worry about them when it was the assigned time. I like structure, and I like schedules. It's my blessing/curse.


I've been feeling overwhelmed lately - something that tends to happen towards the end of the year, with the holidays and wrapping up the year at work, somehow there never seems to be enough time. This is normal, I know. But I'm also prone to overcommitment and a need to fill every moment...and we just have a lot of stuff. No more. Time for change, New Year!

2015 is the Year of The Purge. It's time to make more room in my life. Less stuff, less commitments, less crazy. More space, more time, more sane.

I'll be making a fresh board for the year, perhaps even this weekend, but all of my projects are going to focus on getting rid of things, making more space. Not to fill with new things, but just to breathe a little easier, to see clearer. To practice letting things go. The practice of letting go of physical objects will (hopefully) seep into my psyche, making it easier to say no to plans in favor of a quiet night at home, or to feel less guilty saying no to pet projects. A girl can hope.

Did you tackle any big projects last year? What's on your list for this year? Have any resolutions/goals/intentions/plans?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Into the Words.

On January 2, 2015, I finally saw Into the Woods. If a movie comes out over Christmas, there's a good chance I won't see it for several weeks. Even when I'm practically peeing my pants to see the movie. Even if it's a movie based on my favorite musical. Even if I've read a crapton of things about it in anticipation, and am anxiously alternating between reading spoilers and covering my ears. Even then, a movie that comes out over Christmas will likely have to wait. Holiday travel, you don't do great things to my movie watching.

So. Anyway. I was excited and scared. And I finally saw the movie. And I have lots and lots and lots of feelings. Here they are, in order of how I freaked out, once I got over the nostalgic squeeing over a new interpretation of my favorite words and music. It should be obvious here, but this post contains massive spoilers. All spoilers, all the time. Do Not Read If You Do Not Know This Show And Do Not Want To Know. YE HAVE BEEN WARNED.

  • [summary of text-argument with my friend Elon over the fact that they didn't show the ball and the inside of the Giant's house.] While it would have made for some spectacular cinematography, what happens at the ball is insignificant to the story of Into the Woods. The actual ball doesn't matter as much as Cinderella's reaction to it. (director) Rob Marshall doesn't need to establish her relationship with the prince or the fanciness of the ball - that's the point. We don't need to see them fall in love at first sight - the story takes into account the fact that we all know the story of Cinderella. Sondheim doesn't spoon feed it to us, because he knows we don't need that. Same with the Giant's house. We can imagine. We don't need to see it. I don't disagree that it would have been fun to see, it would have been "more cinematic", as Elon said. But is it integral to the story? Nope. Into the Woods is about what happens after
  • I really missed "No More." It's one of my favorite numbers. Small, simple, but a truly lovely expression of disappointment and loss and growing up, sung between vanished father and abandoned son. I mean, it doesn't make a *ton* of sense without the Mysterious Man (and I appreciated the "No More" instrumental underscoring during the scene where the song should have occurred), but I think they still could have done it with the ghost dad situation. Don't know the song? Listen to it here.
  • Speaking of...I don't know how they would have done the Narrator, but it's one of the reasons I encourage fans of the movie to watch the original (this just watch it just it's amazing). One of the great moments of the stage version is when the Narrator unwittingly ends up in the story, and how the characters deal with what happens after he's gone. I thought the movie did a decent job of portraying the "oh shit, now we're *really* alone" feeling, but it's just so. much. better. the other way.
  • The princes were fantastic. Absolute perfection. "Agony" was a miracle of the cinema, one of the truest examples of why some stage numbers work better on screen. So, so, good. Just brilliantly executed. Chris Pine's prince was on point; I could watch him be the Prince forever. Why did they do away with the "Agony" reprise? It's so damn funny, and it just reinforces the "happy endings aren't just so" narrative in a way that having Rapunzel run away with her prince just doesn't. Both princes are cheating douchebags - not just Cinderella's! Which brings me to...
  • Rapunzel not dying. Sigh. I don't know if this was a Tangled thing, and Disney didn't want to kill off one of their current princesses or something...but come on. The Witch's spiral into rage and madness is so much more powerful when it's triggered by the literal loss of her child. And Rapunzel's descent into insanity is such a great bit of character development, only further enhancing the irrevocable harm her mother has inflicted. Yes, it's hurtful and traumatic for her child to cast her off and run away - but for that to happen and for her to go crazy and then to die? Horrifying. Tragic. Final. That would drive the Witch to dramatic suicide, now that she truly has nothing left but her beauty - the beauty that couldn't salvage her relationship with her daughter, with whom there is now absolutely no chance of reconciliation. 
  • Ok. So, I had read that Sondheim changed some of the lyrics in "On the Steps of the Palace" to make things more clear, to make it more present-moment or something. And many of the you's were changed to I's. But truly, this is one of the things I hated most. For example: "But then what if he knew who I am when I know that I'm not what he thinks that he wants? But then what if I am?" vs "But then when if he knew who you were when you know that you're not what he thinks that he wants? But then what if you are?" Not only is "am" a painful word to hear sung on a sustained note; the fact that she speaks in the third person throughout the song lends the number a sort of doublespeak. It creates tongue twisters and a sense of confusion. Haven't seen the original? Click here. Movie version here for comparison. I did enjoy the freeze-frame visuals in this number though...seeing it take place in present time, with the beauty of the sparkles frozen all around was ethereal and beautiful and a change I wholly support.
  • Johnny Depp was an unnecessary hot mess. The candy in his jacket was overkill. His zoot suit and his growly whisper were more sexual and pedophiliac than necessary. He was one of the first actors announced for the production, and I get that they wanted a big-name draw, but I don't think they needed him. In the original, the wolf is creepy and just a tad gross-sexual, but mostly you just get the impression that he wants to eat Red Riding Hood. Because he's a wolf. Not because he's a pedophile. It's creepy because she's a child and he's an adult, but I always took the number to be about his sexualization of eating. He's getting turned on by the thought of his meal (both granny and girl), and the thing that creeps us out is that he's doing this seductive little dance number with a child. With Depp's interpretation, I thought he was trying to sleep with her. Which was just over the top. And the key change was gross. 
  • And speaking of RRH and the Wolf, I could have done without that odd "being swallowed by the wolf" sequence. The first shadow puppet made me think of the beautifully-animated Harry Potter Tale of Three Brothers sequence, but then it turned into this weird Alice in Wonderland, vaginal, Magic Schoolbus atrocity. Very strange.
  • I thought the tempo of "Your Fault" was too slow - maybe they wanted the audience to make the words out better? Might have been a combination of the tempo and the staging (which I thought was weird), but the number felt more like "we. are. singing. this. rhythmically." than "we are freaked out and this is frantic and passionate."
  • The flashbacks at the beginning, during the "Witch's Rap" took away from the rhythm of the song in a way I didn't appreciate. I didn't think we needed the flashbacks to tell the story, and the pauses required to show the, interrupted some of the most comedic moments (especially the flow from "your father cried, and your mother died" to "and well that's another story, nevermind, anyway". It's such a great moment when it's timed right, and this just wasn't. 
  • What the hell was with the "blue moon" thing? That threw me off.
  • Meryl had big shoes to fill, but I thought her portrayal of the Witch was dynamic and powerful. I mean, it's Meryl. Duh. Really, Johnny Depp was the only one I didn't like out of the bunch. And I'm usually so fond of him! Alas.
  • I loved the woods - the scenery was gorgeous. I love that they built a forest so massive that actors got lost on the soundstage. I love that they used real trees. I love how the forest changed as the movie changed. I loved how they filmed in a real castle, and a real dilapidated barn, and how beautifully they incorporated the scenery into the story. The woods was a character.
So there you go. My word vomit. I still have a lot of feelings and I could talk about Into the Woods for days (already have). It's an important piece of theatre, for many reasons, very well-articulated in this New Yorker piece. I love that Sondheim's Cinderella chooses to leave the ball for her abusive household, that she chooses to leave her slipper for the Prince to find, that she's torn between choices, and that she's able to acknowledge that her choice doesn't have to be her final one. But it's her choice. I love that the characters get their Happy Ever After - until they don't. This show is about parents and children and a community coming together, and loss and growing up, and reconciling our pasts with our futures, and the choices we make and how we deal with the lives we've chosen and the pain we haven't. It's an important story. And Emily Blunt was very eloquent about why we shouldn't try to protect our children from everything. Kids know things. Life isn't perfect. Happy endings aren't always. 

If you haven't seen this version, I highly recommend it. And here's a fun little interview with Meryl Streep, Stephen Sondheim, and Rob Marshall from the LA Times that you might enjoy.

What did you think of the movie? Let's talk about it. Now. Obsessively.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year. Here's a Christmas Tree

I took some photos of of our house all decorated, and I wanted to share them, but I don't have much to say except that this holiday season came and went faster than I could hold onto it. It went by very quickly, as evidenced by my inability to write anything for the blog while it was happening, and my sheer exhaustion and disbelief when I look at the calendar. I have a feeling that 2015 will be nearly as insane as 2014, though hopefully with my new "learn to say no to things" attitude, I'll find some space for self care and reflection. And maybe a little casual reading, just for fun.

Anyway, here are some pretty pictures. I know it's January first, but we can hold on to our holidays a little longer, can't we?

The front of the house, all decked out for the season.
Can you spot the cats and the menorah?
Food, light, festive things.
I made this ornament last year at a Crafternoon.
It's so simple, but one of my favorites. 
Picked this one up in Rothenburg on our
honeymoon - classic old timey wooden cute.
Celebrating the last night of Chanukkah during
Christmas with my in-laws. Yes, they bought
a menorah so that we could do this whenever
the calendars align. Very sweet.

I hope your holidays, wherever and however you celebrate them, were merry and bright. Here's to a new year, more writing, more sharing, and also more resting. Share your holiday photos if you have them, and if you, too, aren't quite ready to move into the new.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Twisted Holiday

Well, my last post was before Thanksgiving, and I'm barely getting this one in under the wire for 2014, but here it is. The Holidays are nearly over, and it's been a busy season. So busy, in fact, that I neglected to share these glorious photos from our holiday party earlier this month. A party that was, in part, sponsored by the good folks at TwistedShotz.

I met the TwistedShotz team at BlogHer this year, and when they reached out asking if I wanted some Shotz to sample at home, I figured they'd make a great addition to our annual Multidenominational Holiday Jamboree. And boy, did they.

On (a very festive) display...
Our intrepid first shooters - Cheshire and Erik
Will chooses a festive holiday location
for his first shot
Hockey team looks a little unsure...
...but those boys can handle their shotz

The verdict: TwistedShotz are delicious. At 20% alcohol, they're not boozy enough to really get you drunk, but enough of 'em will definitely give you a little buzz. We sampled Strawberry Sundae, Rattlesnake, Buttery Nipple, Sex On The Beach, Porn Star, Polar Bear, Whipped Chocolate, Ginger Snap, Root Beer Flirt, and Miami Vice...I stuck to the Whipped Chocolate (chocolate and cream) and the Polar Bear (a minty chocolatey concoction) - many of the others are Tequila-based and I'm just not a Tequila girl. I can say that those two are delicious though. And that it didn't take long for all 48 shots to be devoured. 

Interested in getting your own Shotz? Check out their website for retailers near you! 


Full Disclosure: TwistedShotz sent me a ton of these little guys to review, but did not otherwise compensate me for this point and did not persuade me to write a particular review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

YoCP: Frame and Hang Art

Technically, this was a July YoCP project. Technically, I'm still working my way through some of August, September, and October. Technically, it is actually November. But technically, as of July, YoCP is on hiatus (according to an email from our fearless leader, Jolie Kerr), so I don't feel quite so badly about being behind.

But YoCP was a promise I made to myself, if not a commitment to the greater Clean Person Community. And I created these projects with a purpose, and I do plan on completing them. Even if it takes me all year. Which it might, because there are only 6 weeks left in the year. Holy shit, did I just say that? Is that true? Jesus.

Ok. Back on track, here. One of my projects was "Frame Art. Hang Art." We have quite a bit of artwork, both personal mementos and arty posters, and since we're likely not moving any time soon, I figured we might as well take them from "big pile in the guest room" to "things that actually hang on the walls". Turns out, it wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. Many of the pieces were oddly-sized, requiring custom mats and very specific frames. Framing delays meant it took longer to assess the stash, and busy schedules meant delays in actual hanging. But as of a few weeks ago, all of our art is framed and hung (ok, there's one poster that I framed that's due to be hung in the guest room, but I haven't quite figured out where I want it to go, so it's leaning up against the wall, but I'm just not going to count that one, ok?).

In the bedroom, I finally have the art wall I'd been envisioning pretty much since we moved in. There's a little room for more artwork if we have it, but overall, I really like it. It's a collection of pictures from trips we've taken, or of special or meaningful things to us (like the "Going to the mountains is going home" John Muir quote print I found totally randomly, and then just happened to find the perfect frame for when I wasn't looking). It's really lovely to wake up and go to bed looking at things that make us happy.


Have you completed any projects lately? Are you still YoCP'ing? What's the most complicated framing job you've ever done?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Front of House

Although it wasn't on my YoCP list, I've been meaning to tackle the front porch for a while. Over the last few years, it had gathered dust, grime, and assorted detritus, and with festive gourd season upon us, I figured now was as good a time as any to clean. Holiday decorating is one of my favorite for cleaning, after all. I meant to post this before Halloween, so just travel back in time with me a bit, when porches needed to be cleaned off to support jack-o-lanterns and ghosts.

 You see, the railing of our porch was once white. It was relatively white when we moved in three years ago. But the grime had gotten a little out of control.

I'm a bit embarrassed to share this picture, but I think it's important to share just how bad it was. Not only so you can see the progress (I promise, it gets better!), but hopefully to ease any shame you have at the state of your front porches.

It's ok.

We are none of us perfect.

We clean.

We move on.

It may be worth noting that the splotchiness is a result of several lanterns that usually reside on this railing - the grime gathered under them a bit, but mostly around them. Not sure about the clean white patch in the middle. It's a mystery.



I started this cleaning project with one goal: get rid of that black grime so that it looks pretty. I figured I'd tackle it with a little Dr. Bronner's and water, and all would be well. NOT SO, MY FRIENDS. NOT SO.

I scrubbed with Dr. Bronner's and a scrub brush, and a sponge, and all my (limited) upper body strength, to no avail. I busted out the 409. And the Comet. I scrubbed and I rinsed for about two hours.

Still, I was left with something that looked like this. Not a huge improvement - irritating, even, given the amount of time and effort I'd put into this should've-been-easy project.

And then I bought some Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. The heavy-duty kind, made for outdoor furniture.



They were not as strong as the advertisements made them out to be, or maybe my grime was just that bad. I worked my way through about seven erasers, which split and tore and turned irreversibly black as I convinced myself that this. would. work. Because it had to. I'd sunk too much time into this already, and dammit, I wanted to decorate for Halloween!

However, after about an hour of scrubbing and cursing, I was left with something that almost resembled cleanliness. It's more gray than white, really, and there are slivers of black grime that I just couldn't get out, embedded into the grooves of the wood. But overall, it's progress. And it was enough to make me consider the project a success.

I mean, look at those before-and-afters, eh? I later learned (upon bleaching a spot where a potentially-rabid-maybe squirrel had destroyed one of our pumpkins) that (oh yeah, duh) bleach is a *really* easy way to whiten things. Probably could've saved a lot of time by starting with bleach. Ah well.



I felt good enough to put the lanterns back out, and add some gourds (and a flying ghost) to the mix.

I later removed those hanging lanterns (which have been so destroyed by wind and rain that they were just a ragged mess), replacing them with a small metal hanging lantern (thanks, IKEA). I took the extra metal table and moved it to the yard, next to the BBQ, for extra "counter" space.

It's still a little dirty out there - it could use a good scrub, and would probably benefit from regular sweeping, but at the end of the day, it's a porch. A porch on a house we rent.

We do our best to keep it in good shape, but it will never be magazine-perfect, because we do not live in a magazine.

It's ok. We are none of us perfect.
We clean. We move on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Unplugged

I've taken to giving myself little "unplug" challenges lately. It feels silly. They're small. It's things like, "Get to the end of the next block without checking your phone." "Don't check Twitter for an hour." "No email until you've gotten out of bed and brushed your teeth." I usually fail. Or if I succeed, it's very difficult.

In the past, I've made "disconnecting" a New Year's Resolution and a Goal and an Intention, and it's just really fucking hard. It's embarrassing how hard it is. It feels silly to even want to disconnect sometimes. Isn't this the future? Isn't there something magical about connecting to strangers and friends on the internet? Having the world at your fingertips?

I work in tech. I'm active on social media. I love the internet. I'm around technology, "connecting" (and yes, sometimes Actually Connecting) to people all the time. It's amazing how much of my day is spent staring at a glowing screen, my fingers micro-moving across whatever keyboard I'm on. Pushing the pain of what's probably some sort of RSI or carpal tunnel or worse out of my head to just scroll a little farther, read one more article, type one more reply. Ignoring the actual world in front of me so I can connect to the world that's far away.

This weekend, I'm challenging myself (again) to a No Internet Saturday Morning and Afternoon. (NISMAA?) I'd love to say No Internet Saturday, but I know that's just setting myself up for failure. Last weekend, I said No Internet Saturday, and I was on my phone before I even got out of bed. So this time, I'm claiming the morning and afternoon as an internet-free zone. I can catch up with the world in the evening. But the morning and afternoon will be spent without the phone, social networks, and email that clutter my mind and tighten my fingers. Less multitasking, zero open tabs to flip through.

But how will I fill my time? Well, I'll be getting a flu shot, gardening, and purging my closet. Taking things to Goodwill, doing laundry, and unpacking the Target purchases from last weekend. Decorating the house for Halloween. Baking. There's so much I could be doing, it's no wonder I don't get anything done while I'm so distracted by technology. I'm looking forward to some forced dedicated time away from the screens, to make some progress on projects and goals I've been meaning to get to, and to move my body and mind in a way that doesn't involve typing, staring, or scanning.

How about you? Have you ever done a "technology sabbath" or an "unplugged challenge"? Do you think I'll make to 8pm without the internet?