Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

It is Christmas. Yesterday I spent 40 minutes waiting in a checkout line to buy many cans of Chunky Giblets in Gravy, which my cat likes. I’m not sure what a giblet is, though I assume it is not something I would eat myself.

On Christmas Eve I:

·        added a few lines to the script of a play I am trying to write. I have never written a play before, but a local producer thought there might be an idea when we discussed the notions of existentialism. I volunteered to try to put together something, a sort of theater-of-the-absurd piece, such as were popular in Paris in the 1920s. Think Marriage on the Eiffel Tower or Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. But probably not as good…
·        cleaned my house. Really cleaned. The kitchen and bathrooms are spotless, and most dust bunnies have either fled or fallen victim to the vacuum cleaner. There’s always something Sisyphean about such chores, but it’s still satisfying.  
·        went to the gym and had coffee with a friend. I exchanged text messages with another friend who is spending the holidays in Minnesota, and considered myself lucky to be here in Virginia where it is not snowing. The temperature is dropping though, and my basement, where I work, is getting chilly. It’s going to be time to beat a retreat to the upstairs which is always a good ten degrees warmer.
·        made beef stew. It’s amazingly easy. The French call it Boeuf Bourguignon and add wine to it, but it’s just as good sans alcohol. It simmered all night and is truly tasty. I will freeze some and hand it out to carnivorous friends.
·        disposed of some 50 magazines I have either read, not read, or planned to read, except that by now they are no longer relevant. I get magazines that have little to do with my life. Make tells people how to create stuff the use of which I don’t fathom. Wired speaks a completely different form of English than I do, sort of alien, really, as if a different language was established when I wasn’t paying attention. Sports Car Sales tells me what automobiles have been sold for tens of millions of dollars, which I don’t quite understand. The cars are trailered everywhere and never driven, seldom seen outside of international concours where everyone dresses in white and sips champagne. The vehicles seem to be passed from one über wealthy Arab from Dubai to an even überer collector in Japan.  Personally, if I had a 1934 Voisin Guillon Élégance Saloon, I would drive the hell out of it and take it to Starbucks so kids could admire it.
·        wrote a blog-and-a-half.
·        did a ridiculously small, water-wasting laundry.
·        read about 50 pages of Guy de Maupassant’s La Maison Teylier, the story of a village brothel and the women who work there.
·        ate a half-package of Mrs. Smith flank-cut fish sticks, which is my latest comfort food.
·        watched about half of the movie Elysium where Matt Damon has all sorts of tubes and metal thingies implanted to become a sort of poor man’s Terminator. Jodie Foster is a baddie, which she does extremely well.
·        tuned my pedal steel guitar, which is no small job.  There are 20 strings, eight pedals and four knee levers that all need minute adjustment. The trick is, none of these elements are tuned exactly to a particular note; all are either slightly sharp or flat. This is called tempered tuning, supposedly invented by Bach (The Well-Tempered Clavier) because he did not like the way some notes, played together, sounded. All told, tempered tuning takes about an hour, but when it’s done, there is not a guitar in the world that sounds more distinctive.

I am thinking that I have spent the majority of the last 20-or-so Christmas eves by myself, and this is OK, though it took some time getting used to it. Most people have families and I am a family of one, which for the most part is good. Only rarely does the solitude become loneliness, and when it does, it is only in passing.  

Today, Christmas Day, is bright, cold, sunny, and very, very quiet. The traffic on my street has thinned to almost nothing. My house is warm and smells of spray wax and laundry soap. I am on my third cup of espresso, contemplating having a bowl of stew although it’s not even ten in the morning, and life is pretty good.

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