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Postings are in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

2004 is drawing to a close - holidays coming and going like so many drinks at an open bar...

The open bar analogy is wishful thinking on my part, as I'd need to spend a tidy fortune to drink myself into the appropriate state to deal with things holiday blissful. Okay, I don't rely on alcohol to get me through like I used to, but it does still lend a certain fuzzy something to the overall picture.

I was stressing out last week. "Gotta get this! Gotta do that! Life as we know it will come to an end if I don't get these!" Buy, buy, bake, make, bitchbitchbitch. Then Ume said, "Would you chill? You're stressing me out."

"Too bad!" says I. "I'm in the holiday spirit! Gimme, gimme, gimme. You're the freak, trying to get it all done in a laid back fashion. Me, I'm running with the crowd - a sleek, plastic-sucking consumer huntress in her element!"

"Funny," says she. "From here, you just look stressed out."

As much as I hated to admit it, she was right. I'd gotten swept up in the cultural Christmas melee - where it's all about stress and consumerism and you lose sight of the fact that Christmas is the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - a time you get together with your family and spend your precious time face to face and express your appreciation for the simple things...

And if I were even the least bit religious - or remotely interested in monarchy - and the very idea of spending time with family didn't send me up a tree - all of those grounding sentiments might help me through the day. As it is, I get bent out of shape over Christmases past (not a great time of year when I was a weeling...) and forget that they're not Christmases present, and that I can actually go about my business in a fashion that's less than over-wound. Being over-wound may distract me from the uncomfortable memories, but it doesn't make me feel any better. I have a choice - and I have chosen to keep the stress at a minimum. People will survive if I don't manage to get them that certain something (that they don't really need anyway) and, what's more - so will I. And if they don't appreciate what I buy or make them - they can bite me. It's that simple. I just needed a little reminder.

So it won't be all frenzied bliss this holiday season, chez Brulee. And to top it all off, the year's ending!!! This year sucked mightily (maybe not for you, but we're talking about me if you'd not caught on to that yet). It'll be a great pleasure ringing in a new year. All fresh with neat tucked-in corners - ours for the unfolding! I'm looking forward to it. Of course, it's an artificial thing - a date - I could turn over a new leaf anytime I want to, but there's a certain power in the symbol of it, and so I'm going to celebrate this year's demise - with gusto.

Things learned in 2004? Yes.

1. Breathing is essential.

Really, this is true. Well, not if you're a rock - but for a lot of us it's a good idea. And what's a better idea still, is learning how to breath well. Sounds easy enough, sure - I thought I had it pretty well under wraps. Breathe in, breathe out... what's the big deal? Might not be for you, but then I've already established that I'm not writing about you, haven't I?

If you're like me and you don't breathe evenly when, say, you're typing... pondering a stressful issue at work... watching your favorite team losing a game... picking your nose... whatever - you might find that you've got some wicked tight muscles. Well then, breathing well is for you! It was for me anyway. I can get wicked tense and forget to breathe evenly or deep enough. If I can poke myself during a spell of extreme focus and say - "Yo! Nutball! Let it go! And BREATHE while you're at it!" my muscles are really thankful for it. I recommend it highly - breathing.

My mother would be so proud! She'd brag about me at the holiday cocktail parties...

"Mrs. Brulee, you remember my eldest, Flan - well, she just got her third promotion, she's regional manager! And she and Dirk have had their second child! Brock, their first, he's a terror, talking up a storm at four months - in Latin! He arranges his Cheerios into algebraic formulas, we think he's going to be a nuclear physicist. What's Creme been up to this year?"

"We've just had a note from her, she writes that she's learned to breathe... "

Instead of inquiring about her friend's son, whose still in prison for real-estate fraud, Mom takes a long, cool sip of straight-up scotch.

Other things learned in 2004... Yes.

2. More Americans believe the crap the Bush administration is peddling than don't. Not a huge surprise, but we learned it.

Anything else learned in 2004?

3. Cherish the people you care for - even when you're busy taking care of others or stressed or all mightily important in your self-absorption. Let them know you appreciate their accomplishments and encourage them in their day to day joys and struggles. Take an interest. They won't be around forever. They may not be around next week.

And turn this sentiment around on yourself, and give yourself a pat and big smile. You're too cute not to.


4. I like dark purple.

Not much in the way of original thinking as far as things learned, but we all go at our own pace, don't we? And you're inching along at my pace here at the Seen.

Ume and I send you warm wishes for a bright and sparkly New Year! Joy, peace and bliss to you and yours.

We saw the film "Kinsey" last night - terrific stuff. Bill Condon, who also directed (and wrote) "Gods and Monsters" (amazing film), did a great job!

I don't know much about Mr. Kinsey - aside from his scale, of course. The seven point rating scale he used to note the homosexual and heterosexual experience or response a person reported when they gave their sexual history; 0 representing exclusively heterosexual - 6 exclusively homosexual.

Surprising to many at the time he published his first report (1948), but less suprising now, was how much there was going on between 0 and 6.

Human behavior is fascinating stuff. And trying to observe and unravel it is tricky business. All manner of cultural trip wires get sprung. And here is this guy trying to communicate what he'd discovered about people and their sexual behaviors in 1948 and the early fifties? Wow - that's a great story in itself, and Bill Condon did an excellent job of telling it.

What was extra fun for Ume and me was the casting. Liam Neeson as Kinsey was a hysterical coincidence for us as we've had something of a running joke about him for years. When Mr. Neeson got nekid in the movie "Nell", Ume's response was, "Wow, maybe I'm still bisexual after all."

I wouldn't hear much about her bisexuality until we'd see another movie with him in it.

"So how'd it go?" I'd ask.

She'd answer something like, "I can't tell unless he takes his clothes off. That man has an incredible body."

It appears to be an extremely localized bisexuality, because she doesn't have this response to other actors she likes - Tim Robbins, John Cusak, Sean Connery, Cary Grant... but then, those guys don't get nekid all the time, so maybe it's localized to Liam 'cause he's nekid more often. I'll start being concerned when there are lots of men who look like Liam Neeson walking around naked - until then, I'm guessing we're pretty safe.

Me, I seem to be developing something along the lines of a heterosqeamishness. I've noticed it creeping in over the last few years. If I'm watching a movie and there's a straight kiss, I'll sometimes wince involuntarily - sometimes avert my eyes (and try not to say "blech!" if I'm in a theater - I wouldn't want my discomfort to cause the straight people seated around me to feel bad about themselves, I mean, it's not like they can help it).

My reaction is especially strong if it's some grandad actor kissing some twenty-year-old actress. I do say "blech" then, because that's simply objectionable on too many levels - especially the feminist one.

I don't mind watching men kiss - doesn't do much for me especially, but there's a certain charm about it. One of our once single friends wanted to know if an acquaintance of ours, who was also single, was straight. We responded that we didn't know and she should ask him out if she was interested. "I don't like kissing guys who've kissed men," she told us. "They're too aggressive." This was news to us and we didn't quite know what to do with it. And if it's true, I imagine there are a lot of women who wish their men would start kissing men more, and a whole lot of others that wish theirs would stop.

So many variations, so little time.

Here's an interesting page on the Kinsey Institute site with links to pages on sexuality information.

There are cool links like this one for Go Ask Alice, a web site sponsored by Columbia U., where folks, primarily young folks, can have their questions about sex addressed. It's also got basic survival information about general living issues for those who've recently left home - like info about eating leftovers without poisoning yourself, etc.

And lookie, lookie, there are, not surprisingly... comments like this one by a disgusted reader. The puritanical urge runs strong in this one...

I'm overcome by an urge to quote Hellen Keller:

It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.

In the news...

I've not been newsy of late, you can check these outlets for good to excellent analysis of this past week's happenings:
Weekly wrap with Shields and Brooks
Week in Review with Daniel Schorr
Wait! Wait!

The election's over already! Get on with it! But this conversation on the misinterpreted poll results is fascinating (I just knew Americans weren't as moral as everyone was claiming!):
The Election, One Month Later (Talk of the Nation, 12.07.04, audio file)

And this conversation with the Washington Post's White House correspondant, Dana Milbank, has some interesting insights into what's going on with politics and the American the media:
Dana Milbank (The Connection, 12.10.04, audio file)

James Randi is one of my all time favorites!
Mystics Can Pocket a Million - When Pigs Can Fly (Reuters, 12.06.04)

Birth Month Seen Linked to Multiple Sclerosis Risk (Reuters, 12.06.04)

'Thinking Cap' Controls Computer in New Experiment (Reuters, 12.06.04)

2004 Déjà vu - Nov.- Oct. - Sept.- August - July- June - May - April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2003 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov.- Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - May- April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2002 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov.- Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - May - April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2001 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov. - Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - Misadventures- April

Compassion Fatigue Entries - 2001

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