Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The run-up to Christmas

Here's a cool webcam of downtown Northampton. They're calling for eight inches of snow tomorrow, starting around 1 pm. And Lily came home from school today saying they are talking about a snow day on Monday because of a storm predicted for the weekend.

She and I have started a Wednesday night dinner tradition, just the two of us. Dave drops her at work and she checks the giveaway table for books and occasional toys. Then we go eat. Last week we went to Friendly's and this week we went to Mimmo's, home of the gigantic pizza slices. They had some old photos that seemed incongruous but kind of fun, this one of the Rat Pack playing pool, and this one of the construction workers eating lunch. We talked about how chicken we were and we agreed neither of us could never be iron workers. I asked Lily what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said maybe a vet. When I said she had to know math, she said, maybe a vet's helper. Or maybe a writer, she likes to write. How about a director, I asked. Oh yeah, I'm bossy! she said proudly.

Just a year here and I have already been invited to more holiday parties than I ever was in Brooklyn. I think that's partly because I have a job now, and there are parties associated with that. But also Lonnie and Erika had a great low-keyed Hanukah party on Saturday night, with great conversation and good food. I made toffee, of course, and people seemed to like that.

The weather has been cold and kind of raw and damp. It's alternately raining and icing. Monday was so slick school started two hours late, and our driveway was sheer ice. I made it out in the car okay, although I heard a noise that I thought was something I'd run over (I think it was me losing traction on the ice), and when I got out to look the car started slipping back down the driveway. I made it to the parking lot, then slipped and did a jackknife on the ice on the sidewalk. I was okay, and happily surprised when a car pulled up almost immediately and asked if I was okay. I was, just a bit wet from the snow and ice, and a tad embarrassed.

In addition to the party, the weekend was very busy. Mum and Don visited and oohed and awed over our new windows -- thanks, Mom! Mum and I went shopping, and later Lily and I went shopping while Dave did a co-op barn raising thing on Sunday. We also had D&D here, which was fun, with a roaring fire, and leftover food from the Hanukah party. I've been going to the local YMCA so I did that Sunday morning.

The Big Event was the local Nutcracker, a massive community effort, with half the cast from our office, and kids Lily knew separate from my work. We went to the matinee, which was really fun--gotta love the music--and the audience was packed with families. The Northampton mayor was Mother Ginger on Saturday night.

(The only downside was getting rearended at the corner of King and Damon Road. A guy was asking for money and someone in a car ahead of us had stopped to give him some. The light changed, though, and they were still talking when someone banged into us, hard. She saw the green light, apparently, and hadn't noticed that the cars couldn't move yet. I am against panhandling at busy intersections like that. Dave got out and looked at the bumper but didn't see any damage so we didn't even exchange numbers.)

It reminded me of all the Nutcrackers I've seen in the past, including the Brooklyn School of Music's Brooklyn Nutcracker a couple of years ago, with Lily's friends Georgia-Rae and Ariadne. The neat thing was the Brooklyn angle: If memory serves, the mom and Clara (Georgia-Rae) are at a party and they get separated--kinda creepy Drosselmeyer scoops Clara away for a tour of Brooklyn. The mom's pulling her hair out with anxiety and Clara is having all kinds of adventures. The mice are actually some tough local kids who have a tap dancing competition with Clara. They tap very aggressively, and she responds by tapping back. Then the mice tap again, and Clara taps, and in the end the mice are impressed with her dance ability and everyone is friends. During the Arabia sequence Clara is on Atlantic Avenue, and during Tea she's in Sunset Park. Stuff like that just makes me love Brooklyn all the more.

My all-time fave remains The Hard Nut by Mark Morris, though. It always makes me cry, especially the pas de deux between Drosselmeyer and his prince; the snowflakes at the end of the first act throwing their handfuls of snow and then stopping to watch as Drosselmeyer trudges through them, oblivious; the Waltz of the Flowers, with Marie's mom celebrating her daughter's blossoming sexuality; and the ending, for some reason, with Fritz and Marie watching TV again, just like the very beginning, and this time the credits role. It all makes me shiver, makes me teary. Why is that? I don't know.

Tonight after dinner Lily and I came home and she had more homework, but she was cold. So we lit a fire and she did her math next to it at the kitchen table. She went to bed so easy tonight and after I tucked her in I stood by the railing outside her room, looking over our blue living room with the smoldering fire, the blinky 3-foot plastic Christmas tree Mum gave us a couple of years ago, the gerbils I cleaned at 10 pm last night because they really stank, and the too-hard puzzle on the card table next to the fireplace. And I just felt relaxed and happy and I thought, yes, despite this weird loft thing and this very public bedroom, when I snuggle in with Dave in our flannel sheets under our down comforter, as the house cools down and the woods through our new windows are so very dark, I am so grateful and peaceful and happy to be allowed to live here.

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