What am I looking for in the new year?
More tea, more candles, more writing. More quiet time for mindfulness.
One of my pet peeves for myself is constantly on the lookout for a new calendar even while I’m already using a new calendar. I am never satisfied with the planner that I have. Except for 2016. That was the first planner that I used for all twelve months. I’m going to try again this year. I’ve got a different design, but the same exact style, size, and binding, so I have high hopes. I use the monthly section for important dates, you know, like a calendar, and I use the weekly pages for planning my website, blog, and writing.
So, that’s first. Next Monday, I will spend most of my day filling in all of the dates that I’ve been listing in a notebook plus birthdays and retreats.
Once again, as I am wont to do, I’m going to add some weekly topics, perhaps a monthly theme tied into a weekly series. I like to find what people find interesting and enjoyable. Or even worthy of discourse. All suggestions welcome.
One of the things that I discover after every major liturgical season is how much I miss the daily devotional books. I’m currently reading the one for Advent and Christmas, and I enjoy the daily thoughts that I can meditate on, whether they affect my prayer life or my writing life; both are really balanced against the other, and interchangeable. Interconnected. Unfortunately, that book will end with the Baptism of the Lord (January 8th).
My husband bought me the best, most thoughtful Christmas present. It is a weekly prayer journal. There is a short reading, a Scripture, and a space to jot down thoughts. I always think that I want to do this daily, but that is usually too overwhelming and forced. This weekly format seems perfect. It’s also a personal test for me since I am always hesitant to write directly into a journal like this – I will usually do the exercises on a separate paper or notebook so the original remains perfect. That is so not the objective, but I’m trying.
I also discovered a book offer in my emails for daily reflecting and exercises. 365 Health and Happiness Boosters Kindle Edition by M.J. Ryan. I’m going into it with a reasonable expectation to only do what I choose to do. I’ll read it daily, and see how it and I feel.
In building my own program of mindfulness or whatever the kids are calling it these days, I am seriously contemplating writing a yearly format book. I know it sounds braggadocios to say, but often I like parts of several books, and can’t find one that works best for me, and think that I could do it better. I know there are others who’ve mentioned this to me as well. That was the feeling I had when I created and published my original travel organizer.
I’d like to get back in the custom of attending the daily 9am mass, barring any weather or work-related conflicts. In doing so, I’d also like to stay for those rosary prayers as well.
Spend less money.
Express myself better, especially politically.
Teach a writing class.
Join a board of education committee.
Stay ahead with a writing schedule and putting together a quarterly editorial calendar. I’ve tried this before, but what I’ve been doing the last few weeks seems on the whole to be working – planning, writing, scheduling those posts and writing others. Keep better track of my published pieces and word counts.
Work on my Wales book.
Outline my House book.
Do good. Be good.
Be kind. Create art.
Give myself a mantra. (Those are already taken.)
Looking back on 2017 and how much I’ve advanced in my writing and motivation needs to start before the year even began. For Halloween 2016, I dressed as a journalist, complete with reporter’s notebook and 1950s fedora. The election year had been a difficult one for journalists and the press in general, moreso than the usual kidnappings and murders that they face yearly all across the globe. Theirs is not an easy job, but where would we be as a society without them? The maligning they received at the hands of Candidate Trump, and continues with him as President is horrifying, not only to this country’s First Amendment, but also to this country’s value we put on knowledge and information; checks and balances.
I have always been a fan of journalists and news reporters, and my choice for two Halloweens ago was a reminder of that love, but also of what was at stake at the following week’s election. We can see how prescient that choice was.
It’s been a long year. L–O–N–G.
I’ve had a few missteps and missed deadlines on the blog, but I’m happy with how far i’ve come, the changes I’ve made, and confident in the changes still to come in the new year.
I’m grateful and appreciative for every follower, every like, and every comment. Each one helps me to grow just a little bit more as a writer.
I now also consider my attempts at art and photography as part of my writing and my writing life.
I participated in Nanowrimo, and I was very satisfied with how much was written in those thirty days: over 35,000 words. As I’ve said before, I didn’t make it to the 50,000 word goal, but I do have 35,000+ words more than I had on November 1st. I’m looking forward to creating outlines and editing and more research in the early parts of the new year to get my book on its way.
I have also decided to send a letter of intent to a local continuing education department and teach a six week class on writing. The workshops, and my contributions to them, not to mention this blog, have given me the confidence to believe that this is a next step in my writing life.
In reading too many books that I feel I could have written, not so much better, but differently and valued, I believe I have another book in me, this one specifically on journaling. Or writing. Or inspiration. It’s still in flux.
This looking back will have me looking forward by the end of the week. Stay tuned.
I, for one, am very excited for television in the New Year. Spoilers for everything in the tags follow. Read at your own discretion.
Food makes the world go round. When we travel, the first thing we do when we get off the airplane or park the car is to find somewhere to eat. I know we’re always looking for that perfect, quintessential local food that we can instagram and taste, and talk about when we get home. Maybe that’s just me.
The holidays are also a time of food; not always trying new things, but having the old things – the things of our childhoods, of our in-laws, of that Pinterest thread that we’ve been promising ourselves we would eventually try.
Here are a few of mine:
1. Candy canes for Christmas and Gelt (chocolate gold-wrappered coins) for Chanukah.
2. Latkes. Confessional time: I make latkes more during Passover than I do during Chanukah. Passover has an overabundance of potatoes, and by mid-week, it gets a little tiring, although celebrating our Exodus from slavery is never old.
3. French Toast. I happen to make the best French toast. Plain, unadulderated, egg, milk, white bread with butter and Aunt Jemima syrup. Mmm. On occasion I will make a French toast casserole that needs to refrigerate overnight, and then bake in the morning, and that is also amazing, but I think that has less to do with me than with easy French toast on a weekday morning!
4. Green bean casserole. Yes, the Kraft one. Or is the recipe from DelMonte? I think the recipe calls for milk, but my mother never used milk to keep it somewhat kosher-like. Again, simple: 2 cans of French-style green beans, drained, mixed with one can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, mixed with half a container of French’s fried onions and baked for 30-35 minutes on 350. Sprinkle the fried onions on top, and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Voila!
5. Orange Marmalade. I’m not sure why I think of orange marmalade at Christmas time. Possibly because my mother-in-law is British/Irish and that’s a very British food to have during Christmas (or any tea time) with scones or English muffins or biscuits.
What are your holiday favorites that you really miss or can’t live without?
The last time I stayed up until 2am watching election returns my mood was much more somber, much more reserved, much more depressed. For the first time since November 8, 2016 I have hope. I have worry – the Republicans are still pushing their taxscam, the President implied my Senator was a prostitute, and the FCC closed the internet last week, but I have hope. I don’t believe any of this needs to be permanent.
While covfefe was the rock that broke the dam and let me see human again, Doug Jones is the light in a very long, very dark tunnel.
McConnell can wait to seat him and pretend he’s not the obstructionist in chief. He can encourage the Dems to clean house while supporting a child molester who was banned from the local mall. He can laugh at his bigotry over his reactions to President Obama and he can relish in his hypocrisy of using social security and medicare while now calling them entitlements and planning to eliminate them from families just like his.
We have the higher ground.
We have always had the higher ground.
This country was founded on a strong central government with limited state powers. How the Republicans corrupted that I don’t know. Probably the same way they corrupted the 2nd Amendment from James Madison’s original intent.
They let their people denigrate the liberal states, while knowing that they couldn’t survive without our invention, inspiration, and tax support. Secede. We’ll be okay. We give more than we get.
My inner dragon is awakened.
My kids will not live in dystopia or fear.
Rise up. It’s working.
Wise up. Pay attention.
Eyes up. See the whites of their eyes.
Look them in the eye; don’t back down.
A pro-choice Democrat who prosecuted and convicted the KKK was elected the Alabama Senator.
I absolutely have hope.
Everyone has family traditions that they follow throughout the year, but none more than on those special holidays. I’ve written about some of our family’s traditions, some that have come from my family and some from my husband’s family as well as the ones we’ve begun ourselves.
For Thanksgiving, we’ve adopted my family’s sweet potato pie. I don’t always make pie, sometimes I make a casserole. It had already been changed from the original recipe that I received from my friend in New Orleans by eating it as a side dish. My mother could never fathom it as a dessert. She wasn’t much of a pumpkin pie eater either; more coconut custard or cheesecake.
My husband’s mother was born and raised in Northern Ireland. She brought many of her Christmas traditions to her family including a roast dinner for Christmas dinner and the most amazing trifle, which I find impossible to replicate, so I choose not to.
When we began to have Christmas at our own house with our immediate family, my husband was insistent that we follow his familiy’s traditions to the letter. This includes Chinese take-out for Christmas Eve dinner, Dunkin’ Donuts for Christmas breakfast before we open our gifts, and roast beef and mashed for Christmas dinner. Since I had grown up Jewish, we didn’t have any Christmas tradition conflicts. After my conversion, I attend mass and events at my parish, but those are usually not in conflict with what we’re planning at home.
We’ve added our own like the gift of pjs on Christmas Eve night for all the kids, baking cookies for Santa, and watching the Doctor Who Christmas special.
In between all of that, I attend the masses, the Advent reconciliation prayer service, and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a wonderful musical event that my parish holds every year.
Having every year flow in nearly the same way with only a few differences is comforting. It’s how we build the family and let the kids see what and who is important at the holidays.
Things change as the kids get older and want to spend time with their friends, girl- and boy-friends; they have jobs and have to juggle days off, and the like.
That is our challenge this year. My oldest son is an EMT, and he is working Christmas Day. He is working from 6am until midnight on Christmas Day. After some now-what-panic, i jumped into mom mode, and rearranged all of our days so we will still have our family holidays time, simply by moving everything up by one day. After the regular Vigil Mass on Saturday, we’ll have our Christmas Eve Chinese take-out, and make sure all the gifts are under the tree. We’ll wake up Sunday morning, and open our presents all together. Unfortunately for the kids, Santa doesn’t rearrange his schedule so they’ll have to wait for him to come on Monday morning, which is a bonus for we parents who can make the kids go to sleep early. Sneaky, IO know. Monday morning, my son will see if Santa filled his stocking before he heads out to a full day of work, and I will go to Christmas Day Mass that I usually miss in favor of the Christmas Vigil.
We all have our holiday challenges. This is a good reminder to everyone that as long as you’re with the ones you love, it will all work out in the end. It isn’t just the thought that counts; it’s the people.
A couple of weeks ago, DC and The CW did their second four show crossover, similar to one they did last season. Instead of four nights (one for each DC program), Crisis on Earth-X ran for two nights with two shows airing each night. For one thing, I have to say that I loved this format. It was unusual in that it’s still a four hour arc, but it also keeps you invested by flowing for two consecutive hours on each night. My typical television schedule is to leave The CW at 9pm and watch a different show, and then catch up on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on the CW app the next morning. The way they set up this crossover, I stayed for all four consecutive hours and found my other show in the on demand section of my cable provider. It also did not tie up four separate nights when families could have sports and school schedules conflicting, especially in that time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
Another difference between the two crossovers was how the characters were used. In the first crossover, Heroes vs. Aliens, Supergirl started it with her move to The CW from CBS, and three-quarters of that episode was primarily a Supergirl episode and introducing CW watchers to the new addition to the CW family. From there, the following night was Flash with some guest appearances, followed each night by Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow respectively. While each show had its main individual characters, there were a few of the major characters from the other shows that helped the crossover work.
In Crisis on Earth-X, I felt the story came first. There was a cohesive plot and I wasn’t as distracted by which actors appeared where. They used whichever characters needed to appear where they needed to appear without confusing fans who only watch one or two of the shows. The overarching plot was a new one while still incorporating canon from previous episodes as well as the comic books that are sometimes eluded to as Easter eggs.
In addition to the four night miniseries plot, individual stories and plots were advanced for individual shows. Actors were showcased in different lights while playing the characters we already knew and their dopplegangers from another verse, from Earth-X. For example, Wynn (from Supergirl) was gruffer and gruffier, decisive and determined. It wasn’t that he can’t be those things on Earth-1, but it shows the potential that is inside. Overkill (Supergirl’s evil twin) had a similar transformation, and my first reaction, while not a part of the story was that Melissa Benoist took some evil acting lessons from Teri Hatcher’s time on set last season. I also loved how it used the actors and the characters with their own co-stars and others from the verse.
There was great balance.
There was also great balance between the action and not. I was going to say the slow parts, but there really wasn’t anything that was slow. It was measured, it was deliberate, it was storytelling at its finest.
I absolutely loved how it opened with all four shows revolving around RSVP’ing for Barry and Iris’ wedding in between fighting criminals in their individual cities. I loved how they mirrored each other in talking about Barry and Iris, and that they all procrastinated telling them whether or not they would be coming when they knew that they would, of course be coming.
The one night stand of Sara Lance and Alex Danvers was brilliant. There is no doubt they both needed it. I like the way The CW’s DC programming handles LGBT+: it’s there, but there isn’t a need to announce it. If Sara is hitting on Alex, she’s not asking, hey, are you…? No, she goes for it, and if she gets turned down, that’s how life works, and it’s all good. The assumption is that there’s no reason not to ask someone, anyone out on a date, and that’s a wonderful thing. I don’t like to use the word “normalize”, but my kids watch this show, and I appreciate that getting Sara and Alex together, either as a potential friendship or intimate relationship isn’t something foreign that needs to be explained. It’s just the way it is. Like the real world.
I thought Felicity showcasing her Jewish heritage, both on Earth-1 and Earth-X in the different components of each character was a phenomenal use of backstory and historical accuracy in fiction. If you’re going to use Nazi-like or Nazis as your bad guys, don’t sugarcoat it. There are very real victims. We should not be glorifying these bad guys. I also loved and appreciated Felicity helping to take down the Nazis on both worlds. That was very satisfying.
Very girl power, but while it was extolling and empowering the women characters, it also wasn’t engaging in misandry. There was equality and feminism without calling it out as such. As with the LGBT+, the empowered women were just there. Like in the real world.
One other note on the acting, I really liked how Paul Blackthorne used his natural British accent as a Nazi rather than his American accent as Quentin Lance. I liked that the Nazis and their actors weren’t redeemed or redeemable. No Stockholm Syndrome. The William Katt cameo was a nice surprise as was his exit.
By the end I wanted to title this crossover Two weddings and a funeral.
I’d also like to talk about Victor Garber’s exit for a moment. Those of us that watch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow knew that he was leaving the show. I was a bit surprised that his death came in the crossover episode, but it was also fitting that it was during the Legends hour. He did begin his role on The Flash, so it was important for those characters to also say goodbye. Jax’s reaction was heartbreaking. Letting Martin go can’t have been easy. They had grown so close, and not simply because of the telepathic link. It took Martin some time to convince Jax to join the team. Even when they weren’t Firestorm, they were inseparable. It was a very sad moment, but it was also very satisfying from a story standpoint.
If you happened to have missed this fantastic crossover, download The CW app, and watch Crisis on Earth-X while it’s available. It’s free, and while you’re there, you can catch up on all of The CW’s DC shows before the newest addition, Black Lightning, premieres on January 16th at 9pm.