Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne 2013

Another year almost gone. Every year has its highs and lows, and 2013 is no different. I choose, however, to reflect on the highs, since most of the lows were out of my control. So before the clock strikes midnight, I raise a glass to:

Charlotte Currin Richeson, born May 21, 2013. Never has there been a happier, smiley-er, chubby-cheekier granddaughter. I love you to the moon. And back. And to the moon again. And back. Infinity.

Girlfriends. You know who you are. Childhood friends, All Saints' women, and other confidantes who love to talk and laugh and eat and drink and talk some more.

A job that lets me travel to wonderful places and meet incredible people - Hong Kong, Philippines, Haiti, Los Angeles, Jackson in 2013. Where to next?

Social media. As angsty as everyone gets about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I love that I can stay in touch with family and friends all over the world. It doesn't isolate me; it enhances my friendships.

New York City. For the great theatre, museums, and parks I've experienced this year. And for the world's most breath-taking skyline, day or night.

Atlanta. You have my heart because you have my family. And thanks for fun at Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Puppetry Arts Center, Legoland, and wherever else Liam Samuel Richeson leads me.

So farewell, 2013. Even with a few sad losses, you've given me great memories. May 2014 bring more adventures, good health, money to cover basic expenses, and a greater resolve to be present in every moment. Happy New Year and may God bless us all!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The 10 Commandments of Being Lazy

All I want to do today is sit around in my pjs (flannel, not shorty), watch old movies, and eat junk food, but the guilt of doing absolutely nothing is ruining it for me. Damn that Puritan work ethic! I can think up all sorts of things I should/could be doing, but, shoot, I only want to have one day of laze. Sigh.

However, I just have to do something, so I have created for you, dear readers, the 10 Commandments of Being Lazy. Whenever you approach your own lazy day, pull these out for inspiration:

  1. Thou shalt not change out of thine flannel pjs, wooly socks, and old sweatshirts into non-lazy raiment, or thou shalt completely defeat the purpose of staying in and being lazy.
  2. Thou shalt ignore particles, specks, yea, even layers of dust covering any object. Neither floor, nor bookcase, nor lamp shade shall cause thy hand to lift a dust rag or push a vacuum cleaner.
  3. Thou shalt not consider indulging in any form of physical exercise, be it walking to the park or lifting any object heavier than a spoon to thine lips.
  4. Thou shalt honor thy comfy chair or sofa by remaining sedentary upon thine honored sitting place throughout the live-long day.
  5. Thou shalt not even consider improving thy mind by darkening the doors of museums, libraries, or theaters. These are activities that completely defeat the purpose of being lazy. Inspiration is dangerous to laziness. Thou can, however, read that tawdry novel sitting on thine night stand, as there is no danger in improving thy mind with it.
  6. Thou shalt remember to stock thine fridge and cabinets with goodies that will prevent thou from even considering getting out and doing something productive or leaving thine comfy sitting place.
  7. Remember Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and thine own stock of DVDs to keep them handy for series-binging. 
  8. Thou shalt ignore thank you notes, bills, and any kind of correspondence that detracts from thine complete laziness. 
  9. Thou shalt feel free to take plenteous naps throughout the day. 
  10. Thou shalt completely, utterly ignore that pesky Puritan work ethic. To thine own laziness be true.
Good luck with your own lazy day. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Her Window in Time

Our family lost a most beloved member yesterday. Nell Rose was an absolutely essential part of our lives, and yet she stood apart. Her story is sort of grafted on to ours - through blood, through experience, through memories.

We thought of her as a young aunt, though in truth, she was our second cousin. She was born four days before the 1929 Stock Market Crash. Her mother died when she was 3, her father a couple of years later. Five-year-old Nell went to live with my grandparents, who had four almost-grown daughters of their own, including my mother. Mother always said that she thought of Nell as her first child because as a teenage she often took charge of the little girl. Nell was our go-to person for the "real" family stories. Of course, she saw things from a small child's perspective, but often, that's the truest viewpoint.

She was a survivor. She had polio when she was 11 - pre-vaccine, when the diagnosis meant either death or being crippled for life - and spent a couple of weeks in an isolation ward at Grady Hospital. She also survived cancer later in life. She was an independent working girl, who worked for Ma Bell (back when there was only one telephone company) from the age of 19 until retirement. Nell staked her independence flag by first transferring from Atlanta to Savannah and then on to Orlando and knew how to live life on her on terms.

Which was why we all landed on her doorstep at one time or another during our teenage years. It was the perfect summer set-up for a pre-driving teen. Nell had an apartment with a pool ('nuff said), plus she worked all day. She trusted us, and it wouldn't have occurred to us to do any damage or cause trouble, anyway. All we did was sleep late, go to the pool, clean up after ourselves, and wait for her to get home in the afternoons. She hated to iron and couldn't sew, so I kept the ironing under control and even made her several dresses for work. Our parents supplemented her income for doing this. We ate out a lot. As I said, one sweet arrangement for a teenager.

Nell was an avid reader and crossword puzzler. She loved Frank Sinatra and Johnny Carson  (once, we taped movie magazine pictures of them to the inside of the toilet lid, just to get a laugh out of her). She was a Braves fan. She made great deviled eggs. She gave me my first legal alcoholic drink (a Brandy Alexander).

There's so much more to say, but all of that will have to play itself out as the days and years go by. This wonderful woman helped shape my life in more ways than I can count. Her story is unique in our family. She was her own separate generation, wedged between my mother and her sisters and those of us who were their children. That uniqueness of voice and experience was the gift she gave to me. And love. Always love.

If it's true that people live on through good memories, our Nell will live forever. Rest in ever-lasting peace, rise in glory, and enjoy seeing your mama and daddy, Bully Bartow sisters, and maybe even Frank Sinatra, dear Nell.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

My Little Christmas House

I pulled out my Christmas decorations this evening and festooned my tiny apartment as best as I could. I almost gave up before I got started because going through the boxes of decorations breaks my heart a little every year. Every ornament, candle-holder, or festive knick-knack just brings back memories of where they dangled, sat, or hung in my little Atlanta house. And it makes me a bit sad. A lot sad. All right, all right, tear-shedding sad.

Yes, I sold the house at the right moment, right before the housing market went over the cliff.  I mean, there was no way I could've kept it and lived in New York. We tried renting it out, but that was more trouble and cost than it was worth. So, yeah, it had to go when I left town.

But knowing all of that doesn't help as I pull objects from Christmas Past out of their boxes. It's when I feel the loss of that house most keenly. I loved decorating it - the tree, the mantle, the dining room buffet, the front door. But now, I don't have any of those things. No tree, no mantle, no dining room, and just an apartment door.

So most of the decorations stay in their boxes. Waiting for another little house, though I don't think there'll ever be another little house for me. And I wonder if the angels and Santas and glass baubles and bells will ever come out in full force again. That's what makes me sad.  So I have my little Christmas cry, give the dear objects a blessing, and put most of them away for yet another year.

And then I have to put away thoughts of my little Christmas house. It was, after all, just a house, right? Except it wasn't. It was home. And now it's not.