Monday, January 5, 2015

The hostess with the leastest

"Life'll find ya, wherever you go, requiescat in pace, that's all she wrote."

2014 is done and dusted. I packed up the ornaments and put away the 3-foot tree. The stockings were un-hung from the staircase with care.

The latter half of December was a stressful end to an otherwise perfectly good year.

Blame me. Despite keeping it as simple as possible, I'm the hostess with the leastest, and when we have house guests, even ones closely related to us, something or someone is always getting on my last nerve.

I try, I really do. I bought new sheets, comforters and pillows for the guest rooms and washed multiple rounds of towels, and stocked up on a reasonable amount of food and, with a lot of help from Neil, orchestrated two homemade family dinners.

Our kids' visits didn't even overlap. Neil's crew was here for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and mine showed up on Boxing Day. It's not that we plan it that way, it's just tradition that my kids spend Christmas Eve and Day with their own dad. No one is willing to be flexible or change, and it's not a battle worth choosing.

It's probably simpler and easier to have separate celebrations, especially since we have different ideas about the reason for the season. Neil's kids are used to a giant gift-fest. I give my kids money and the same small gifts and my traditional stocking stuffers every year. Socks and soap, sometimes nail polish, makeup, body lotion. This year everyone got Del Sol keychains in their stockings - which were a big hit.

Having people around 24/7 saps my energy. I'm easily overwhelmed by sinks full of dishes, cups and glasses and cans and bottles of beverages everywhere, gift wrap detritus strewn hither and yon, too many voices talking, talking, talking.

I'm out of my routine, and not in a good way, not in the way of being on a Hawaiian vacation with Neil. I'm eating at odd times, such as when I'm not hungry, and eating more than I really want and not getting any exercise.

I am having food-issue flashbacks.

These are my problems, my baggage. Other people have to own their own bodies and decide how to fuel them and even whether or not to abuse them. It's on me that it hurts me to witness the choice of overindulgence by others.

With one or two notable exceptions, I've been slim most of my life and that has involved some discipline and denial. Intellectually, I know that my choices may not be right for everyone. Practically, I can't get past the judgmental idea that gluttony is a sin.

And on the flip side, I have one child judging me relentlessly for the shortage of vegetables in my own diet and pantry, and for the fact that I buy flavored, sweetened yogurt instead of plain - and adding my own fresh fruits and honey.

In fact, I felt pretty much perpetually judged and criticized by children, mine mostly, for most of the holiday weekend. Words put into my mouth, history reinvented, and everything from my driving to my wardrobe scrutinized and found lacking.

At least they care. Sort of.

With Thanksgiving, followed by Hawaii, followed by Christmas, followed by the New Year holiday, I've gotten behind on my personal bead making. In December I took on another 100 pair-project for Beads of Courage. That left me little time to make anything new to sell on Facebook, although I did eek out a few small sets.

Mostly I've been selling some of the beads I've had hanging around for a while, some for bargain basement prices. I just donated 100 Act of Courage beads to Beads of Courage, along with the Carry-a-Bead pairs. "Act of Courage Beads are the artist-made glass beads that are given to acknowledge the milestones in a child's treatment journey. These beads truly bring the arts to our Arts-in-Medicine mission." [From the BOC website]

So I thought that getting something, even just $10, for beads I've had on hand, was better than nothing.

I'm conflicted about this of course. Do I devalue my art as a whole by selling some older and less popular designs for budget prices? I sell them in a Facebook group that sets a $10 minimum starting price and a $25 maximum Buy-it-Now price (although auctions can go as high as the bidding takes them). Mine mostly started at $10 and ended at $10 - or $11 or $12. Sometimes they just expired with no bids.

I've stopped letting that bother me. What does bother me is when I see someone else post a set of 6 or 7 very so-so beads and watch them get bid up or bought now for good money, while concurrently a pretty set I have listed languishes, bid-less. I whinged about that in one of the group chats and someone reminded me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And of course, as a bead maker, I look at beads with what Neil would call the hairy eyeball. I see the flaws, the level of skill (or the lack). But as my dad used to say, it's differences of opinion that make horse racing.

Anyway, as always, I want to up my game. I want to make nicer sets with better curb appeal. It just takes time. Which I won't have any more of, after tomorrow, until next Sunday. Orlando calls. Yes, we are off again.

In the meantime I reopened my Etsy store, or rather, didn't close it as I intended. I let almost everything left expire, but when I was down to about seven items, I started to renew unsold listings. I'm up to 81 items now, with one sale since my change in direction. I've yet to list anything new, but that is the long-range plan, at least today.

2014. It was, as I said, a perfectly good year, but there was a sad note recently. One of my Colgate friends in Houston has pancreatic cancer. When he told me, I had no clue how grave a diagnosis that was, not to mention that I mixed it up with prostate cancer and was stupidly positive on the phone. "Oh, my cousin had that, and he's fine now."

I did the research and the stats are grim. If he'd said liver cancer, I'd have known it was nigh to hopeless. The prognosis for pancreatic cancer isn't a lot better. But my friend says they caught it early and he'll have chemo, followed by surgery, and he talks in terms of recovery. At least that's his story and he's sticking to it.

I don't know, it just seems wrong, My parents have been gone for one year and four years, my friends should not be dying. But it happens, it has happened, we've lost classmates and more will follow.

Keeping that in mind, my artistic conundrums are clearly first world problems.

I'm planning to keep that in mind. Front and center.

You've got an invalid haircut
And it hurts when you smile
You'd better get out of town
Before your nickname expires
It's the kingdom of the spiders
It's the empire of the ants
You need a permit to walk around downtown
You need a license to dance

Life'll kill ya
That's what I said
Life'll kill ya
Then you'll be dead
Life'll find ya
Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace
That's all she wrote

From the President of the United States
To the lowliest rock and roll star
The doctor is in and he'll see you now
He don't care who you are
Some get the awful, awful diseases
Some get the knife, some get the gun
Some get to die in their sleep
At the age of a hundred and one

Life'll kill ya
That's what I said
Life'll kill ya
Then you'll be dead
Life'll find ya
Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace
That's all she wrote

Maybe you'll go to heaven
See Uncle Al and Uncle Lou
Maybe you'll be reincarnated
Maybe that stuff's true
Maybe if you were good
You'll come back as someone nice
And maybe if you were bad
You'll have to pay the price

Life'll kill ya
That's what I said
Life'll kill ya
Then you'll be dead
Life'll find ya
Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace
That's all she wrote

(Warren Zevon, 1947-2003)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz