Monday, December 20, 2010

"First you believe in Santa, then the Tooth Fairy, then you grow up and invent the trickle down theory." (Murphy Brown)

I am home. After a train ride that was significantly shorter and less eventful than last year's.

View from train this year:

View from train last year:

We did have three inches of snow on Thursday, but nowhere near last year's blizzard and subsequent 8-hour train journey home. But just in case something did happen I planned ahead for entertainment purposes. The best way to pass the ride is with TV shows on DVD so I treated myself to the first season of "Murphy Brown."

I loved this show when it first aired and still remember a lot of the episodes and details, despite how young I was. It means so much more to me now, for many reasons, starting with the fact that it is set in D.C. I very rarely consider myself a Washingtonian, mainly due to being constantly lost and craving biscuits. But watching a movie or TV show set in the city and noting all the truths or fallacies definitely makes me feel like one.

That's not what I love about it the most, though. It's the funny and distinct characters. It's the intelligent, topical, and controversial story lines. It's Murphy. It's really Murphy. A strong, independent, passionate, stubborn, intelligent, funny, and flawed woman. A fierce journalist devoted to her career and to fighting for what she believes in. A single woman surrounded by a good group of friends. A prep with a serious collection of blazers, scarves, brooches, and menswear items. A comedienne with some great lines:

"Maybe running my own country is unrealistic. So I’ve set new goals. Like, live through this day. Keep a plant for more than two weeks. Get a date on Saturday night."

As I get older and my passions and opinions become more ingrained as personality instead of just passing fancies, I begin to realize the influence certain pop culture icons have played on me as a woman. After hours spent in the newsroom with Mary Richards and Murphy Brown, it's no wonder I still can't quite cross "journalist" off my list of career options. Of course, thanks to Auntie Mame I also can't quite cross off "rich surrogate aunt," so I can't let pop culture influence me too much. But I will continue to channel Murphy and Mary, Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope, until I figure out exactly the kind of woman I am.

And if they would release the rest of the series on DVD, not just the first season, that would help too.

Murphy: It was going so well. I was going to put guys to jail. That's my favorite thing.
Frank: Don't take it so hard, Murph. The Republicans are still in office. There'll be other chances.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fountain Friday

I only meant to take a short break from Fountain Friday since I was getting so lazy about writing about them. But then I forgot about them entirely. Oops. Now, as I need a break from serious writing, Fountain Friday is back.

 Triton und Nymph*
Vienna, Austria

This was from our first evening in Vienna. We walked around Volksgarten admiring the beautiful landscaping and flowers. The thing I remember most about this fountain and the whole area was the sun. It was just starting to set and seemed to be right on top of us, with light emanating from every surface. There were lots of roses and with the help of the sun this fairly simple fountain suddenly had a beautiful glow to it.

Shortly after this photo my friend and I had someone take ours. I was wearing a UNC shirt and our photographer mumbled "Go Duke" under his breath. This came a day after a tour in Munich where our Irish tour guide was a Duke grad. Those Blue Devils, sadly, really get around.

*I'm 99% positive this is the name and location of this fountain. Even though in all the pictures that come up in a Google search it looks far less pretty than here. So I guess I hit it at a good time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on." (Coldplay)

Christmas ornaments are a big deal in my family. We have so many at home that my mom doesn't even hang them all up because it would take her all day and they probably wouldn't all fit on the tree. In addition to what we call "family" ornaments my siblings and I each have our own  set. Each one designated by our initial on the back marked by mom. And all stored in our own separate boxes, first cardboard and then increasingly larger Rubbermaid tubs.

I think it started that we would get two ornaments a year. One miscellaneous one and then one of whatever figure we collected. (Angels for Melissa, Santas for Joey, and snowmen for me.) But that two-a-year thing is long since out the window. There are just too many options and too many branches on the tree to fill. (Especially when Cracker Barrel has a 50% off sale on their already cheap decorations the day before Thanksgiving.)

Mine remained on the tree throughout college and then I took them when I moved to D.C. And now they grace my own tree. Though there are dozens and dozens of them they still don't come close to filling my tree so I've had to buy lots of "filler" ornaments that come in sets super cheap the day after Christmas. Aka, those which have no sentimental value.

It's the sentimental aspect that to me is the whole point. A Christmas ornament should express a sentiment. I can pick out any (non-filler) ornament on my tree and tell you approximately where it's from, who bought it, how old I was or what I was doing in my life, and what it means to me. But since I don't imagine anyone stopping by anytime soon to quiz me on Ornament History, I'll just feature a few here instead.

First, my tree:

One of about four "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. She used to have a loose halo on her head I managed to keep up until just a few years ago. I'll try not to read too much into that.

One of my absolute favorites that I've had since I was 4, maybe longer. He might need a little surgery, though, as his forehead is peeling.

My mom gave me this in Kindergarten after I was in "The Nutcracker" at school. I was asked to be Clara out of all the little girls, but was too shy and was a dancing flower instead. I still stand by that decision. Not sure where his arm is.

Crafty birds from 1993.

Treasure chest.

One of about a dozen Barbies.

Since finding a tabletop Nativity after lots of searching, I've decided to collect Nativity ornaments.

Last year's White House ornament.

Love this one, though the sister and brother have ones that declare each of them the favorite, too.

Just a few of the many, many snow(wo)men. Made from a light bulb.

A sassy one.

Bringing the Tar Heel love, of course.

Another of the many UNC-related ones. She's from '99, making it one of the last UNC things I let someone buy me before I instituted my "no UNC apparel lest we jinx my future acceptance" rule.

I like to get an ornament from all my trips. Double decker bus from London.

Castanets from Spain and the Eiffel Tower from Paris:

But, of course, there's no place like home.
Center Street at Christmas in my hometown, a favorite sight of mine.

Just a few of my favorites. And I only knocked down six other ornaments in the process of photographing these. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The train ain't even left the station

Song of the Week: Oh Children by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I love this song so much. Though I just bought it a week ago it's already making it's way up my most played list. And severely infringing on my Christmas music listening in the process. But I don't care. The song played on repeat all day today and I just can't get enough. It makes me happy and sad at the same time.

And yes, it's from perhaps my favorite scene in the new Harry Potter movie, when Harry and Hermione dance. The second time I saw the movie it just made me sob. Two teenagers in the midst of a journey they shouldn't have to be on just trying to have a light-hearted moment while dancing to this heartbreakingly beautiful song.

I'm stressed and anxious 95% of the time so when something calms me I run with it. And right now, this song is giving me peace.

My favorite verses:

Hey, little train! We're jumping on./
The train that goes to the Kingdom./
We're happy, Ma, we're having fun./
And the train ain't even left the station.

Hey, little train! Wait for me!/
I once was blind but now I see./
Have you left a seat for me?/
Is that such a stretch of the imagination?

Hey, little train! Wait for me!/
I was held in chains but now I'm free./
I'm hanging in there, don't you see./
In this process of elimination.

Hey, little train! We're jumping on./
The train that goes to the Kingdom./
We're happy, Ma, we're having fun./
It's beyond my wildest expectation.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Peter's home!

I recently saw a new Folger's coffee Christmas commercial entitled "Coming Home." (I won't link to it here but it's on YouTube.) It's a (far inferior and fairly creepy) re-take of the popular 1980's Folger's commercial where Peter comes home for Christmas.

As far back as my memory goes, so goes this commercial. As a kid it wasn't Christmas until the commercial aired. I just loved it and would feel instant peace and joy the second it came on. I was probably the same age as the little girl when it first started airing and loved the idea of being on a secret mission with an older brother. Loved the sound of the grounds being scooped and the fresh-brewed goodness hitting the pot. Loved the way I could smell the aroma and feel the warmth through the television. Loved the excitement on his family's face.

But let's not forget Peter. Because, yes, I definitely had a crush on Peter. Tall, dark, handsome, and clearly preppy. I had a type even at five.

I don't know, maybe part of me knew, even then, that some day I'd be like Peter, coming home for Christmas every year.

Though without the sneaking in or coffee. Because it's kind of hard to sneak in when you don't drive and kind of hard to make coffee when you don't like it nor even know how to make it. But that's far less catchy of a commercial.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

The week before Thanksgiving and the week after have been very stressful at work. I lost track of how many hours I worked last week but, hopefully, the worst is behind me. Which should mean more blogging! Hooray?

And things are slowing down (no jinx) just in time for lots of fun Christmas festivities. Every year I try and do more and more to soak up the city's fun holiday offerings. One of these offerings are the Zoo Lights at the National Zoo, which the roommate and I went to on Friday night. This year they are free to the public, which is a very nice touch.

I'm not a big zoo person, and certainly never thought I'd be at one at night, but I just love Christmas lights. It was very well done and creative and really quite beautiful when you think about it.

It was cold, however. Bitterly and miserably cold. (But not as cold as today, which apparently is the coldest day we've had since February. Which I assume was in the middle of Snomageddon.) They did have a few buildings open so you can stop in for warmth. And they were also selling hot chocolate and funnel cakes.

It's still odd to me that I can leave my apartment in a city and take the metro or a bus to a zoo. And in this case, a bus just two miles down the same street I live on. I share a zip code with zebra, giraffes, and panda bears. Odd. But lovely.