Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Steph's 2008 at a Glance

Oh how the time just flies (faster somehow as I get older). I'm excited for 2009, but here are some hightlights from the lat 365 days...

Things that made me happy
1. Finishing my book and getting an A-G-E-N-T (Steph does happy dance). And in case you’re wondering, getting an agent is not as easy as signing up with a cell phone carrier, it’s rough out there (in a rare move I’m tooting my own horn, in case you didn’t catch it).

2. Wild West vacation: Cirque, Spas, Roller Coasters, Harry Potter Movie props, earthquakes…it was happy heaven.

3. Rhapsody
I…LOVE…RHAPSODY. I could be a walking infomercial for this company. I signed up in January (wanting to make an honest music consumer of myself) and I was instantly addicted. Whatever music I want, I have. Just like that. I don’t have to pay a dollar a song and I don’t have to cross my fingers and hope I find it on the (ahem) other downloadable sources. It’s a (frugal) music lovers heaven. It’s totally the way to go.

Things that inspired me:
1. O-BA-MA—that’s all I have to say about that.

2. Afternoons with Alisa. Okay fine they were mornings (but afternoons sounds better). These were almost weekly sessions of writing, bitching about writing, and writing some more (sometimes eating, laughing, drinking and shopping were also involved). Sometimes we dressed up in crazy outfits just to see what people would say (which turned out to be nothing). No matter what, it was always chocolate for my soul.

3. I am Legend (the book by Robert Matheson). It’s super short and the ending is beautiful and has a dynamic shift unlike anything I’ve read elsewhere.

Things that made me laugh
Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords, Tropic Thunder, Ghost Town (Ricky Gervais), and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.

Things that made me cry
1. Losing my grandma. It occurred to me that as we move across our time on this planet, there are only a handful of people (if that) who love us absolutely and completely. She was one of mine. Now there is a big gaping hole in my universe that I don’t quite know what to do with. But I still have the bundles of love she gave me, so I’ll figure something out.

2. Happy tears for all the friends who got married. Brooke and Nate, Alex and Jeff, Alisa and Chris.

Things that vacuumed up my time
Games on Facebook (I’m now in a twelve step recovery program for Word Challenge abusers)

Things that disappointed me.
(SPOILER—lest anyone throw stones my way like last time….) Breaking Dawn. I loved the first Twilight book. I would even say on the whole, the entire series was all right. But when I read Breaking Dawn my heart broke for all the teenage girls who will want to run down the aisle and start having babies when they’re barely grown up yet.

Things that challenged me
1. Running a half marathon. I totally thought I’d be doing the full thing in 2009. That was until I almost broke down crying around mile 11 wondering, What the fuck was I thinking? I do love running though, but I think 8 or 9 miles is my limit.

2. Writing a novel. I’m almost done with my first draft and am addicted to writing fiction. Get this…you can make shit up!

Music that filled my brain
I spent most of the year addicted to Rilo Kiley. I also discovered Camera Obscura and Sons & Daughters. Also, the Rhapsody New Wave channel, can’t go wrong with New Wave.

Sights that moved me
1. The sun setting over the Pacific in Santa Monica
2. Driving down into a midnight lake of fog in the West Virginia Mountains.
3. The full moon over the Atlantic in St. Augustine

I can't wait to see what great things await me in 2009. I wish you all a happy, healthy New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Getting My Holiday Spirit Back

So I’m back from Ohio and trying to get back in the swing of things.

I’m still heartbroken of course, and dealing with that mental incongruity that’s created when someone you talk to on a regular basis is no longer there. At least five times during the past week I’ve thought, “Oh, just wait until I tell Grandma about that.” A couple times at her wake or funeral someone would say something to me and I’d mentally file it away knowing I was going to tell her the next time we talked. It’s strange, but the impulse to call and tell her about my trip to Ohio is amazingly strong.

Getting back in the holiday spirit is hard. Usually by this time I have put up Christmas lights, made an excel spreadsheet of everyone on my shopping list, consulted last year’s spread sheet, baked dozens of cookies and begun my much anticipated wrapping paper frenzy. This year however, I have done none of that. Nada, zip, zero.

So I’m scrounging for last minute gift ideas. You may be stuck too, so I thought I’d spread some holiday shopping inspiration.

Star Trek plates.

This site was sent to me by my friend Kelly. Don’t tell Danny, but I think there will be a “Christmas in the Nexus” plate under the tree for him this year.

Flash drive bracelet

For the person who wants to have their data handy AND show the world they know how to accessorize…

Star wars flash drive set.

Don’t rely on the force to back up your files.

Custom Bobbleheads—you know you want one.


This is one of my favorites. Originally sent to me by Nicole, fellow cynic and friend. These are spoofs of those motivational posters you sometimes see in offices. My favorite: LOSING: If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.

Random stupid shit.

All the things I want and have no idea why. Including meatball bubble gum, a pirate toast stamper, and a yodeling pickle

Here’s a little gift to all of you, my grandma’s recipe for Snowball Cookies (Russian Tea Cakes). She usually made them by the ton.

1 cup butter
½ cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 ¼ cups of flour
¼ teaspoon of salt
¾ cup of nuts

Chill dough and roll into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 400 until set but not brown (10-12 minutes). While still warm, roll in confectioners sugar. Cool and roll in sugar again.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goodbye Dolly

My oh my. What ever prepares us for moments in life such as these? Nothing I suppose. This afternoon, my grandmother, Dolores Rose Seguin passed away.

For the first ten years of my life I lived with her. She sang Andrews Sisters songs to me before bed at night. She got me up and ready for school in the morning. She held my hand when I went to the doctor and let me help her in the kitchen when she baked Christmas cookies. She made sure my "slacks" fit right in the crotch and hemmed them when they were (always) too long.

Every single Saturday of my childhood she took Steve and I with her to the beauty parlor to get her hair "set." Afterwards, we walked to the bakery and she let Steve and I pick out a dozen doughnuts (as long as one was a chocolate eclaire for her). Every night after saying my prayers I told her I loved her more than all the houses and all the cars and all the trees and all the stars...

Last week was her birthday. I'm sure she wanted to hang on long enough to fit just one more in (she was efficient like that). She liked to rib Danny for never picking up the phone, so she was tickled pink when he called her on her birthday (and gave her his work line---even I don't have that number!)

Grandma was a clown if there ever was one. She had an affinity for tabloid magazines, butterflies and Tim Allen movies. She collected nativity scenes and made THE BEST french toast on the planet. She rocked the house at Atari games. She always had a wry joke. She read my blog on a regular basis (and always called to chide me when I used to many swear words.)

When I talked to her last week, on her birthday, she was going in for her birthday "meal" (an IV bag). I told her to make sure they put a candle in it so she could blow it out and make a wish. I will miss her immensely, but I'm so very happy that I got to tell grandma one last time, that I love her more than all the cars, and all the houses, and all the trees and all the stars...

Monday, December 1, 2008

An Open Letter to All Motorists

Thursday morning I loaded up my Mp3 player with thousands of songs and headed south to Ft. Myers for Thanksgiving. Danny stayed behind because he wanted to catch up on work (and also because he is a borderline Scrooge when it comes to the holidays).

Generally, I am a pretty laid back driver. I don’t weave in and out of traffic, I rarely go more than ten miles an hour over the speed limit, I don’t tailgate and I always use my turn signal, sometimes, out of sheer habit, I flick it on even as I’m turning into my driveway.

I don’t get road rage (road sarcasm maybe.) However, there is one highway driving rule that morphs me into a crazed angry monster faster than a speeding bullet. So today I am making a plea. If you are in the left lane and there is a car approaching fast behind you---MOVE THE FUCK OVER.

As far as I'm concerned, if I have to pass you on the right you should be so ashamed of yourself that you want to crawl into a deep, deep hole and never come out again.

Thursday’s drive was about four and a half hours. I spent about two of those cursing drivers who stubbornly remained in my way as I tried to make it home in time to stuff myself with carbs and poultry.

My tension level was high for the first fifty or so left lane hogs, after that I pretty well relented to cruising with the flow of traffic even if that flow happened to be driving five miles per hour under the speed limit (sacrilege!) I consoled myself. Breathe in. Breathe Out. Choose a calming song. I tried to distract myself from my fury with a book on tape. Which I enjoy while driving but have come to realize the main drawback is my mind wanders rather easily and by the time I’ve finished wondering why I still call them books on tape even though it’s an mp3 file and why do I still say “mix tape” when I haven’t used a cassette in over a decade but “Mix CD” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it—I’ve rejoined the story and have no clue what’s going on.

Listening to a book on Thursday’s journey proved particularly difficult due to the fact that two out of three drivers wouldn’t GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY.

Okay. It’s okay. Breathe. In. Out. Relax. Concentrate on the amusing British accents of Oliver Twist. Think about turkey and stuffing. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of…fine, concentrate on the amusing British accents of Oliver Twist.

I did manage to make it home without blowing my top. Thankfully there wasn’t any traffic waiting to get on the island where my parents live or I may very well have just pulled into a gas station and had a Thanksgiving meal of Combos and M&Ms. But I didn’t need to resort to that, I pulled in to a fabulous dinner lovingly prepared by my family and all I had to do, was eat.

Woo hoo! Can you feel the stress? (I mean cheer) The holidays are here!