Monday, November 26, 2007

On a proper holiday, and a Not-Even-Friday, Not-Even-Random Ten

It's all good.

Okay, so more than a couple of you have noticed that I've been way, way off my game these past few weeks (or, okay, month). There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that things are getting shuffled around at work and I actually have some to do, which is unusual for this time of year, and it's new and different work that actually requires a little bit of concerted attention. Another of the things is the fact that politics make up a significant part of my blogging volume, and I'm just not all that interested in politics right now; none of the potential presidential candidates from either party really excite me, and a body can only blog so much about the administration's criminal incompetence, Congress's inefficiency and ineffectiveness, and the gradual but inescapable erosion of our constitutional rights before that body notices that things aren't getting better and blogging, shockingly enough, isn't making a difference. Yet another of the things is a series of personal stuff -- not bad stuff; even, arguably, good stuff, but the kind of stuff that takes up a bit of time and attention -- that has demanded my time and attention. And I won't pretend that burnout isn't also a factor; I've been doing this thing for three and a half uninterrupted years, and while I try to keep it fairly fresh and new and interesting, the well is starting to run just the slightest bit dry, in case you hadn't noticed.

In light of all of that, Practically Harmless is going to take a bit of a vacation for the month of December. We're going to kick back, relax, take care of some stuff, take some time to really savor the holiday, and start collecting ideas for blogging in the coming year. There'll be plenty of activities to fill the down time; I've got a big trip planned for the middle of the month, Christmas presents to buy, some knitting to do, and believe it or not, a manuscript that has lain completely neglected for all of three months now. It's all fun and some of it's kind of exciting, and when I return January 1 -- and trust me that I will return January 1 -- it'll be refreshed, renewed, and ready to actually be interesting and post with some regularity.

Obviously, one of the things I've neglected in my negligence is TGTBATFRT for a full two weeks now. But what better time to really consider the good and the bad of it (mostly the good) than Thanksgiving, a time when, as the name indicates, we give thanks? So I'll make up for my prior failings with a big, fat Super Good, Bad, and Friday Random Ten: Now Thank We All Edition.

What's good (for the two-week period ending 11/23):

- My family. Yeah, blah, blah, blah, I'm grateful for my family, but I seriously am. My mom is one of the most genuinely generous, selfless, thoughtful people I've ever met, but she's also one of the coolest; I've never met such a truly nice person with such a... well-rounded sense of humor. My dad can do anything, from healing the sick and teaching residents to woodwork to pancakes to talking a distraught daughter off of a ledge with more insight and understanding than is expected from most men. My brother is a great listener, a source of great advice, the funniest person I've ever met, and not an un-snappy dresser, and he'd chew off his own arm if he heard that you needed one. And we actually enjoy spending time together; going home is never a Tim Allen Holiday Blockbuster chore, because there isn't the nagging or the browbeating or the getting on each other's nerves, because we actually like each other. And, knowing how rare and special that is, I'm grateful.

- My country. Despite our government's best efforts, it's still, in my opinion, the greatest place in the world to live. I'm grateful for a society that recognizes the importance of makes continual strides in the direction of women's equality. I'm grateful for the right -- and the responsibility -- to criticize my government freely. I'm grateful for the freedom to practice my religion as I see fit, and the freedom from anyone else trying to make me practice theirs. And I'm grateful that, when those rights and freedoms and responsibilities are threatened, when someone tries to turn my country into something it's not supposed to be, there are people who'll stand up and say, "Hold on, you don't get to do that. Let's get back on track." There aren't a lot of places on the globe where you really can do that, and there certainly aren't any others that offer all of that and 30 Rock.

- Chunky women in gold lamé:

- Having a reason to go around twice:

- Turkey, gravy, chestnut dressing, sweet potato casserole, cheese grits, green beens amandine, cranberry sauce, sourdough rolls, apple pie, apple crisp, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, chocolate espresso pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and Alka-Seltzer

- The Georgia Bulldogs and Coach Mark Richt

- CoverGirl VolumeExact waterproof mascara -- and friends who keep you laughing so long and so hard on such a regular basis that waterproof mascara becomes a necessity

- Saved-up vacation days

- Rainy mornings when you have time for a cup of tea before work

- December holidays and everything that goes with them: Christmas music, Christmas lights, artificial trees that shed "pine needles" all over your carpet, glittery ornaments that shed glitter all over the "pine needles" all over your carpet, crowded shopping malls, not having to buy anything at those crowded shopping malls because you did all of your shopping online, latkes, my Jewish coworker's indignant children (who might actually start a War on Christmas; they're absolutely adorable), kolacky, the Airing of the Grievances, Feats of Strength, peppermint mochas from Starbucks, spiced-apple-scented candles, carol services, awkward office Christmas parties, relatives who forget how old you are when they buy you presents, overly aggressive Salvation Army bell ringers, all of it. I love it all. I'll take it all, every last awkward or uncomfortable or annoying wonderful bit of it, because I love the season. It's the one season where people at least give lip service to trying to live the lives we're supposed to be living all year round, and if only for that, I say God bless it.

What's bad:

- Plenty, sure. But there's time enough to go into that later.

A Very Special Thanksgiving Ten:

1. Enya, "A Day Without Rain"
2. Les Nubians, "Brothers and Sisters"
3. Michael Bublé, "A Foggy Day (In London Town)"
4. Dave Brubeck, "A Fine Romance"
5. The Cranberries, "Dreams"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "A Different Point of View"
7. 311, "Livin' & Rockin'"
8. Beat Foundation, "My Freedom"
9. Dido, "My Life"
10. The Temptations, "All I Need"

How about you? What's good in your life? That, your Thanksgiving favorites, your Christmas list, your Random Ten, all of it goes in comments.

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