Ugly & Beautiful

Three Things I Learned This Week

“Paris Syndrome” is apparently a psychological condition, mainly experienced by Japanese tourists, marked by an extreme disappointment when the City of Lights does not live up to expectations. It can cause disorientation and even hallucinations.

Rock polishers do not polish rocks quickly. Expect each batch of rocks polished to tumble for about a month. Expect that month to be underscored by a gritting, grinding sound.

There are apparently four types of introverts.

Reading & Writing

The Resolution to Write

I love New Year’s Resolutions. I tend to make a lot of them. But there’s one resolution I make year after year:

The resolution to write.

Then again, it isn’t really one resolution. Some years my resolutions are about word count. Sometimes they’re about establishing routines, carving out time–my “writer’s life,” if you will. There are dozens of ways to resolve to write, and that resolution can be regularly renewed or revamped. I’d say there are so many ways to resolve to write, that the blanket statement isn’t enough: we need to focus on a more specific, more concrete goal.

Since I’ve been resolving to write for so long, I thought I’d share some of my more specific resolutions. You’ll notice that they all come with a common theme: Don’t expect too much of yourself. I don’t want you to underestimate yourself, either, but it’s better to set yourself up for success than for failure.

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Friends & Family

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Remember when no one shared photos of Christmas morning because they were all bed-headed and crusty-eyed?

Remember when “sharing photos” meant getting your film developed and handing someone a photo album or just a pile of prints to flip through?

Remember slide shows?

Remember when your dad set up the camcorder in the living room to record the opening of the presents and then no one ever watched it?

Ever?

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Fun & Games

Five Things I Learned This Week

The Russian birthday song is way prettier than the American one.

Bing Crosby was married twice and had seven children.

A former classmate of mine was recognized by Oprah for her book, Happy Like This.

An owl’s neck has 14 vertebrae (that’s twice as many as humans have).

The tradition of Great Britain’s Christmas Number One began in 1952.

Fun & Games

LadBaby’s Historic Christmas #1, Christmas Spirit, and the Power of Social Media

If you’re British (or you’ve seen Love, Actually) you know that it’s a British tradition to award the title of Christmas Number One to the season’s most popular new song.

This tradition dates back to 1952. It’s gone to the Beatles, the Spice Girls, Ed Sheeran and now, LadBaby.

Twice.

That’s never happened before. LadBaby has now been named Christmas Number One two years in a row and has officially made history.

But who on earth is LadBaby? Have you heard him on the radio? What kind of music does he play?

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Cooking & Eating

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

I love gingerbread. I love ginger snaps. I love ginger anything, really, including redheads.

I especially like them if they have a little oomph.

It was nearly a decade ago that I discovered my spicy gingerbread recipe, and I’ve made it every year since. It’s not for everyone; it has a kick, by which I mean it kicks you in the back of the throat. It lingers on the palate. It goes really well with ice cold milk or a glass of eggnog.

I wouldn’t waste this recipe on a gingerbread house. I would try this mix of spices in other ginger recipes–molasses cookies, maybe, or a classic gingerbread loaf.

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Friends & Family

The Santa Secret

I was in the second grade when I unmasked Santa. I’d had my suspicions for a while: the handwriting on the gift tags, the fact that Santa used the same wrapping paper as my parents did, and I’m sure I’d heard rumblings around the playground or maybe from my older brother. But whatever evidence I brought before them, my parents stood by Santa. Coincidence, they said. Santa’s helpers, they said. Go to bed, they said.

I spent that Christmas season snooping. I finally found my proof on Christmas day, not long after I received a beautiful Barbie dream house, pre-assembled under the tree. I was probably helping clean up wrapping paper, or perhaps making a last-ditch effort to make my point, but I found the box for the Barbie dream house in the garage, and my parents could pretend no longer.

I was not angry. I did not feel betrayed; I felt proud. Proud of myself for figuring it out. And I was grateful for my Barbie dream house, whoever gave it to me.

As I prepared to have my own children, I wondered whether I’d uphold the Santa myth. I didn’t want to lie to my children. Then again, I didn’t want to burden them with knowledge they couldn’t share with their classmates. I heard a lot of young parents considering the same conundrum. When they were babies, though, it was all academic.

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