Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a safe, happy, healthy holiday!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Say hello to my leetle friend

This little girl is an eight-month-old Russian Blue. Ty and I are watching her while her parents are on vacation. Isn't she sweet?

She is soft, playful, affectionate, beautiful. We simply adore her. On her very first day with us, she climbed into my lap to snuggle, purring all the while, and closing her gorgeous green eyes to show her contentment. She is as trusting as a baby, and has every reason to be. She went straight from her mother's bosom to a loving home. She has never been cold, or hungry, or abandoned. She has never been in a fight. With the minor exception of a few vaccinations and the Great Water Spray Bottle of Discipline, nothing bad has ever happened to her. We are crazy about her. She is everything one hopes for in a cat; the very pet I would have custom-ordered.

Yet, as I stroke her and coo at her, I can't help but be reminded of someone else. A very different kitty.

He was big and orange and strong. Appearance-wise, he bore almost no trace of his past, of cold, hungry nights, and alleycat scuttles. The one exception was his uneven pupils--for a long time, the sole physical manifestation of the illness that eventually killed him, the illness he most likely contracted when he himself was just a baby. A baby thrown out of his home, left to fend for himself on city streets that would be rough on a human man.

Somehow, he kept himself going. He charmed himself into my husband's life, into his home. When I came on the scene, he made it clear that he would not be pushed aside. Privately, he hunted and stalked and bit and scratched me. He made me work for his love like I'd never worked for anyone's love before. Then, one day, he simply crawled into my lap as if I were his nursing mother, and had been all along. I had no idea what he was doing--those sharp claws rhythmically kneading at my flesh--but I knew instinctively that I had broken through, that this was a good thing. I talked to him. He talked back to me.

I was with him when he took the first of his many labored breaths. I caught him when he first stumbled and veered to the side. I carried him to the vet, who took him in a back room and called for a "handler." A few moments later, I looked up to see a bouncer-sized man entering a room, fresh gashes on his arm. When I was finally allowed to bring him home, he stopped fighting. He sat and looked at me, weary from the effort of fighting and protecting himself his whole life. I knew then that he was almost done.

I was with him when he died, three years ago now. I still cry from missing him. He is the pet I never thought I'd love; a rambunctious, aggressive male who won the affection of someone who'd only ever parented a tranquil female.

He taught me tremendous things about being open to possibilities, and about finding love where you least expect it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Favorite Charities

TB has a great post today about remembering those less fortunate than yourself. Inspired by her, and because Blogger had other plans than to let me post the first photos I would have posted since, oh, June or so, I've decided to take this opportunity to stop bitching about my own problems and to list some of my favorite charities.

1. Gilda's Club

Named for Gilda Radner, and intent on fulfilling her wish that cancer patients everywhere have a place to go for support, this organization provides a meeting place and support network for cancer patients and their families and friends.

2. City Harvest

Sadly, even in cities with great wealth, the hungry are often forgotten. This is a food rescue program dedicated to feeding New York City's 1 million hungry people.

3. Christian Children's Fund

Perhaps best known for its child sponsorship program, in which individuals correspond with and sponsor a particular child in need on a regular basis, this organization has many programs designed to help provide food, clothing, education, and medical care to the world's poorest children, including emergency funds designed to bring quick relief to areas with acute problems.

Please consider these organizations for your holiday or year-end giving, or post some of your own favorite charities in the comments section!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Not-So-Inside Joke

I just saw this short headline on

"Over 160 ill after eating at Olive Garden"

That's all I'm going to say.

Except for one more thing: When I clicked on the headline, I saw that the article itself actually says, "Over 160 sickened after eating at Olive Garden" [emphasis mine].

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Major Mergers

Approximately three minutes after finding out the sexes of my babies, I started to focus on the next giant question:

Who will they look like?

Ty and I aren't exactly Barbie-and-Ken alike. He has comparable ethnicity and coloring to the new Bond (and he's every bit as handsome), while I'm a textbook dark Mediterranean. It's pretty interesting, as we each get to see how the other half lives. He's lived here for a gazillion years and is more New York than many New Yorkers, yet people constantly assume he's from out of town and/or really aristocratic, and disdain accordingly. In contrast, when we have traveled to other parts of the country, he has fit right in and I have been viewed as exotic. At home, I am often assumed to be Hispanic, and am offered the accompanying snubs or (metaphorical) embraces.

Our coming together was interesting. We were already pretty serious when he met much of my extended family. Everyone liked him, although they viewed him with curiosity until it was confirmed that he was, indeed, Catholic, and knew and enjoyed real Italian food, at which point all questions ceased and he just became part of the family. The marriage merged us rather seamlessly.

Now, we are merging in a way that is simultaneously wonderful and serious and scary. We will have children that will be part him and part me. I love my husband and I love his name, which I have taken, but I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge the feeling of having lost a little part of myself in the process. My first and maiden last name were very coordinated and flowing, and my married name, while perfectly nice, is less coordinated and flowing. I no longer have the paisan connection with a fellow Italian simply by extending my hand and introducing myself by name--something that used to result in a wide smile and conversations about where our grandparents were from, our visits to the mother country, etc. My children will never have that.

On Ty's side, he showed me an article a couple of years back about how natural blondes will become extinct in the relatively near future, due, of course, to their reproducing with non-blondes. The article made me think of one of Ty's baby pictures--his soft, fuzzy blond head, more precious than a baby chick. It is unlikely that our children will be blond, and very unlikely that they'll be as blond as their dad. Their children will probably be even less so.

So, naturally, we will teach them Italian words and take them to the British Isles and feed them fusilli and shortbread and, in general, do our best to make them aware and proud of their different cultures, the different components of themselves. But they will probably look vastly more neutral than either of us, and therefore will probably miss out, just a little, on the time-honored tradition of being ethnic, of being obvious. It is the inevitable result of growing up several generations into living in what is, in my opinion, still the best country in the world, a grand experiment in which people really can come here from all over the globe and make lives for themselves and their families and marry whoever they please, regardless of how obvious or non-obvious their ethnicities are. Yet, still, it's a little bit agrodolce; a little bit bittersweet.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Two Haypennies

As is known to absolutely none of you, I enjoy reading Judith Martin's Miss Manners column on a regular basis. For the uninitiated, her updates can be found on the Washington Post website (in the Arts & Living section), and at MSN Lifestyle. Her column is not at all what I had initially expected. I thought there would be ample talk of shrimp forks and calling cards and other specialized pieces of cutlery and paper goods, and there is some, but, in general, I find her surprisingly witty and clever and full of good quotes (here is a small sampling). She is always educational, even when I disagree with her, which is unusual.

In a recent column, a reader of hers wrote in to express her dismay over the lack of personal details, news, and handwriting in Christmas cards that she receives these days, and what a buzzkill it is that addresses, etc., are frequently preprinted. The reader writes, "I have been repeatedly disappointed in everyone's lack of spirit and genuine good cheer." Miss Manners essentially sympathizes with her.

In case anyone had any doubts, this is one of those few columns with which I disagree.

And here I was, patting myself on the back for finishing about 60% of my Christmas cards without committing an axe murder! I managed to prevent chest and back pain while filling out the cards by continually shifting my position. I also kept stopping to wash my hands every time I coughed or blew my nose, as I was sick for the second time in three weeks, was unable to medicate, and didn't want to send germs in place of "good cheer." The cards were sandwiched in during an increasingly-rare moment of leisure between doing work and doing dishes and fortifying other people's femurs; it's not as if they were a pleasant diversion from putting up peach preserves or making a quilt. I didn't realize that simply adding to the preprinted message "Dear So-and-So," and "Best wishes for the New Year!" and signing my name was, apparently, a social slight on the order of calling the recipient's mother a whore.

If I had known that, in order to avoid rudeness and social shunning, a personal update was a requirement, I would have written an update, all right. It would have gone something like, "Arabella has finally stopped throwing up, and her bruising is considerably better than it was earlier in the pregnancy! She is so overwhelmed by her condition that she recently sobbed so much in the bathroom of her obstetrician's office that she forgot to label her "specimen," but that didn't stop her from acting sunny and getting all her Christmas cards done in a timely manner, so it's all good." Or, I could have just left it as a polite "Best wishes for the New Year."

Sure, Christmas cards are a charming tradition. Wouldn't we all love to catch up with friends and family during the season? Unfortunately, peoples' lives vary tremendously this time of year. Some of us are full of festive cheer, and that's great. Some of us are happy, yet pressed for time. Some of us are overworked. Some of us are bogged down with despair. Some of us are caring for sick relatives, or worrying about putting food on the table. Some of us are simply overwhelmed.

While overwhelmed, I am quite lucky. I have friends and family around me that understand that merriment can't, and shouldn't, be forced, and that one shouldn't have to sacrifice sleep or showering simply to bring someone else "up to date." These are friends and family that care how I'm doing all year round, not just during a command performance at Christmastime. People who know that "updates" are better, more meaningful, and more forthcoming when you go to someone else's home and actually talk with that person as you help with the laundry. Or when you make an occasional phone call or send an occasional e-mail during the other 11 months of the year just to let them know that you're thinking of them. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is so much more charming a tradition than complaining about how they have insufficiently amused you, don't you think?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hot Airbags

Yesterday, at a midtown Manhattan McDonald's, I heard a man bloviating loudly about "Sedan Hussein" to his captive dining companions.

Ty and I are considering the purchase of a larger vehicle. I hadn't heard of this one. I wonder if it comes equipped with the LATCH system? How it fares during rollovers?

The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I don't have time for a real post today, so, instead, I thought I'd share a laugh with you.

This is the funniest article I've seen in The Onion in the past five years.