My Favorite Season

I don’t know how it’s been a month since I’ve posted anything here. A few days pass, then a few more, and suddenly, I’m totally delinquent. The good news is that the lack of posts isn’t because I haven’t been doing anything fun. Let’s catch up!

I’m writing this on the evening of my 44th birthday, full of contentment (and dinner) and gratitude. For me, autumn is the best time of the year: the weather cools down, we get some rain, the kinds of movies I enjoy start taking over from the summer blockbusters…

One event I look forward to every October is The Bridge School Benefit Concert, which I’ve attended with my friend Dave seven out of the last ten years. The musicians that perform donate their time, take their egos out of the equation, spend time with the kids that attend the school, and put on amazing concerts. This year’s line-up: Pegi Young and the Survivors, Puss N Boots, Band of Horses, Soundgarden, Tom Jones, Brian Wilson, Florence + the Machine, Pearl Jam (Soundgarden & Pearl Jam even performed a few Temple of the Dog songs together for a killer ’90s reunion!), and Neil Young. The highlights for me were Tom Jones (whatever one thinks of some of his cheesy material, at 74, he hasn’t lost his voice or his ability to command a stage) and Florence + the Machine. Between the videos highlighting the beautiful children that thrive at Bridge, the powerful music, and the community feeling of singing to old favorites with good friends and total strangers, I was on emotional overload most of the day. I just hope that Pegi and Neil Young’s pending divorce doesn’t prevent them from continuing to put on this show any time soon!

A couple of weeks later, I took a long weekend and flew down to Burbank to visit some old friends. I met Tomas in math class when I was a freshman in high school, which means that we’ve known each other for 30 years…yikes! He and his wife and I (plus a few other people) were housemates in San Francisco in our early 20s and it’s always fun catching up with them. I can count on staying up too late, having rambling conversations (mostly about movies), and eating diner food. Although I immediately got punched in the face with a head cold as soon as I got there, it was still a fun visit. When their 5-year-old daughter found out I hadn’t seen Frozen yet, it became her sacred mission to introduce me (with plenty of commentary) to it; she helped me make some lime frozen yogurt on my last night there…I will consider my work done if my pals use their long-neglected ice cream maker once in a while.

Adding to the Autumn Nostalgia Tour: after hearing that Twin Peaks is coming back to television in 2016, I watched all the episodes on Netflix. I’ve got Singles on in the background now. Add some cheap beer, matte lippy, and a burrito from Zona Rosa on Haight Street and I could be right back in the early ’90s, writing poetry.

I can’t discuss the beauty of fall without mentioning Thanksgiving. I look forward to it every year; it’s always been a big thing for me. In general, I prefer family holidays to the party variety, and what’s better than cooking and eating with people you love and taking some time to be grateful for what you have? Despite my older nephew having pneumonia, my younger nephew being rotten, and my Alzheimer’s-afflicted stepdad no longer knowing who I am, Thanksgiving was still a happy reminder of all I have. My sister and her boyfriend just moved in together, so they hosted. My contributions were mushroom gravy, blueberry sorbet, and cranberry sauce. (Here’s what I learned attending a tiny, private Christian school during junior high: puberty sucks, I don’t believe in god, and that I only hated cranberry sauce in a can — I learned how to make it from scratch in home ec in 8th grade and have made it for Thanksgiving every year since. I rarely make it the same way twice. This year, the recipe featured, cherry juice, dried cherries, dried cranberries, port, and cloves.) A few days ago, I pureed the leftover cranberry sauce and made ice cream out of it. I had some of it last night with gingerbread cake (Trader Joe’s boxed mix — love!) for my birthday cake…hence the photo illustrating this post.

This time of year gets really busy at work, so I’ve made it a habit to take a long weekend off for my birthday…one last break before year-end madness hits. I’m 4 days into my 6 day weekend. I’ve been sleeping in, watching some of the shows/movies I’ve been cramming onto my TiVos, doing a little reading, and (duh) going to the movies. Some film recommendations: Nightcrawler, Foxcatcher, Birdman, and The One I Love (the last one is on Netflix).

It’s past midnight now, and my birthday is over. Although it wasn’t a glamorous day, it was lovely. All day long, I received texts and Facebook messages full of love and best wishes, I got to see a movie with my sister and dinner with my family. I received thoughtful gifts and cuddles from my nephews. More and more, I realize that when I’m just living my life — not comparing it with what friends and family have and do, not worrying about conforming to what I expected adulthood to be or to what I’m “supposed to want/need” according to whomever — it’s pretty great. I have time to myself and friends to share time with, a job that gives me security and the ability to do the things I want to do, the openness to developing new interests, and the self-awareness (most of the time) to see my strengths and opportunities.

Best of all, I’ve never been closer with my sister. Our biggest argument right now is which of us deserves the Best Sister Ever award. In my wildest dreams, I would never have expected this to happen and I could not be more thankful.

Happy holidays, friends!

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