While absolutely nobody reads this blog, save for a handful of close friends, it seems I’ve been targeted by a spammer-bot that found me on LiveJournal, and just won’t quit with the comments. So, I’m going to handle the situation like I usually do when a problem with someone or something comes my way: by writing a polite note that is perfectly cordial on the outside, but on the inside, contains a very large middle finger. :)

Dear Spammer-Bot,

My comments are moderated for a variety of reasons, but you are one of them. Your comments will not be approved, so, please, stop wasting your time and mine.

Thanks,

*~ A.

In other news, I have now officially failed at/ broken all my New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t lost a single pound since successfully convincing the scale to take 5 off the number it shows me every day, I spend more time wasting time on the computer during my work day than actually working, I’m not in a financially promising situation due to all the things that are going into planning a friend’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and attending her wedding next month, and I’ve only read one book and watched one movie on the “classics” list. The past few months have brought a good deal of distance, both physically and emotionally (though, ironically, not at the same time.) into my relationship with The Guy I Am Currently Dating. We’ve had open and kind of emotionally draining conversations about the future of our relationship—or, in my mind, the lack thereof.

I’m certain that those that have known me for a long time have pegged my recent sadness as simply that thing that happens to me every so often, where I realise I’m dissatisfied with my life, and ready to run: from a job that isn’t ultimately what I want to do, but is improving my life and good for me *right now*; from a relationship that often seems too hard and too complicated and destined to end as soon as it is time for me to make any kind of major life change; from a living situation I don’t like, with a roommate that simply refuses to find a full-time job and hasn’t paid more than $100 a month toward living expenses for a year; from friends that talk about me behind my back and I’m not always certain truly like me or consider me a friend, nor if I truly like them. I know I tend to run away from things rather than moving forward, but I haven’t done that in a long while, and as a result, I feel stuck.

And while I know there are options for unsticking myself that don’t involve just packing up and going somewhere where nobody knows my name (which I guess means Boston is out. :P ), that idea can’t help but seem appealing and exciting to me. I’m ready for a new adventure, and for things to not always feel so stagnant. Part of me just wonders if I’ve exhausted my adventures here in Atlanta, while another part simply wants to move closer to the city and into my own apartment. Either way, I find myself being bored and restless, and while I don’t want to leave behind all the positive relationships I’ve built here and find myself all alone in the world, it seems like every time I finally develop something that feels like home and family, my natural inclination is to want to go away from it and visit it on holidays.

I am really, truly, in need of personal growth, adventure, and excitement. For the first time, concerns about relationships, work, money, and everything else aren’t paramount in my mind, although they really should be. My energy and focus always drifts away, and dreams of adventure, exciting changes, and recapturing my spirit.

I’m not really sure what to do with that, or about that.

….and, no, it had absolutely nothing to do with Sarah Palin. ;)

Tonight, although the world was pretty much back to normal and Atlanta decided to venture out again, The Guy I Am Currently Dating was still stuck inside his house, due to an excessive amount of ice in his driveway. Since our plans for tonight involved a trip to the movies, I decided to have movie night on my own.

I started off with “The Young Victoria”, a lovely period piece about the coming-of-age of the future Queen Victoria—a historical figure I know relatively little about, despite my great love for both the intrigue and drama of the history of the British monarchy, and literature/drama/fashion from the Victorian era. It focused not only on the political intrigue of the time, but on the love story between the young queen and Prince Albert, depicted as one of feminism, idealism, and equality, in a society when none of the above were popularly-held ideas.

Though some will likely find the story a little dull, as it focuses on character development much more than action, I thought it moved at a fast pace and was thoroughly engaging. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of historical drama, period films, or quaint love stories—or anyone who sat through Showtime’s “The Tudors”. :)

Next, I decided to watch “Eat, Pray, Love”, based upon the book of the same name, which I read while in New York last month. Although I didn’t hold particularly high expectations for the book, it was enjoyable enough; it was something I could relate to, and so I figured I’d give the film a try.

Unfortunately, the author’s words simply don’t translate well to the screen, and after reading the book, the mental image I’d formed of the main character has little to do with the casting of Julia Roberts. It almost seems as if a different type of character—one 50 pounds thinner, 15 years older, and with lips that announce collagen injections gone wrong (I haven’t seen such painful-looking lips since Goldie Hawn in “The First Wives Club“.)—was created with the casting of Julia Roberts, and although Julia is typically very endearing, it actually makes the character far less likable than the one portrayed in the book.

The most annoying artistic choice, and the one worthy of the title of this post? During a scene where the Julia Roberts character first arrives in Italy and discovers the wonder of a good meal, she is in an Italian trattoria, and they have a sweeping operatic aria playing in the background.

This would be a great choice, given that Italy is the birthplace of some of the greatest operas in the world, and there are many recognizable Puccini and Verdi choices to be had. However, this film chooses one of my favourites, The Queen Of The Night’s aria (“Der Holle Roche”), from The Magic Flute. For those who don’t know, The Magic Flute is a great opera written by Mozart—in German!! In fact, the choice is an indirect slight to Italy, since at the time, many composers and opera fans considered Italian more low-brow, music for commoners.

I believe this sense of annoyance is what sci-fi geeks feel when Star Trek opts for a plot device that is just scientifically impossible. *laughs* If you’re going to make a film about a woman who falls in love with Italy, it would be a good idea to actually use examples of things from Italy. (Why was music from “The Godfather” playing when they were in Naples? I thought that family was Sicilian? However, I could be wrong.)

I didn’t make it much farther than that in the movie, since I’m kind of tired, and the film wasn’t worth staying up until 4:30 to finish. I’ll watch the rest tomorrow. But, unless you’re bored and have a free rental code from Redbox, don’t bother with this one. It’s more work, but much more entertaining, to actually read the book.

Every passing day is another chance to turn it all around.“—- “Vanilla Sky

Happy New Year to everyone out there in the blogosphere!

Like every year, the time of year that falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day (and includes my birthday) did not go exactly as planned. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love the holidays. The problem is, they don’t always seem to love me back.

For the last two weeks of December 2010, I’ve been hanging out in New York and Philly, catching up with friends and family. For the most part, I only get to see everyone back home twice a year, so I typically take two two-week trips up to the Northeast: one in late December, and one in early July.

The problem with this scenario is that every single time I’m up there, there’s some extreme in the weather that makes travel (and life in general) a little less enjoyable. During my December 2009 to NYC, a Nor’easter rolled through the area, making it too cold to walk around or really go anywhere, since the wind chills were in the single digits. My aunt called me, and advised getting to Philly a few days early, or I’d be stuck in NYC for Christmas (which is not a bad place to be stuck, at all.) I got on the bus, and ended up getting home a mere three hours before a blizzard hit, dumping a foot of snow on Philadelphia, and paralyzing the city for days.

During my July 2010 visit, there was a heatwave, delivering temperatures and humidity levels that make Atlanta look like the Pacific Northwest. Although I typically deal with heat much better than I do the cold weather, and I still got around and about, a majority of my time seemed to be spent in search of water and air conditioning.

This time around, Atlanta was going through a cold spell when I left, so I figured I’d be prepared for the typical Northeastern winter climate. Not so. I spent 3 days wandering around NYC in extremely windy conditions and wind chills in the single digits. The best investment of the season? I bought myself a proper set of gloves, hat, and scarf. Winter gear that you buy in the Southeast is not the same as what you buy in the Northeast, although you think it is at the time. All my sweaters, which seemed bulky enough here, are Fall sweaters in the Northeast. Even the scarves and gloves are lighter, and don’t provide the needed insulation. There is definitely a different level of wrapping yourself up and braving the elements in NYC, and even with my more appropriate gear, I ducked into Starbucks for a hot chocolate at least 4 times a day.

Despite the cold weather, the trip was relatively pleasant, and free of hassles like ice, snow, and sleet; that is, until it came time to leave. I was set to leave on Tuesday, from NYC. On Monday, an impressive blizzard hit, dumping 10.5 inches of snow on the ground in Philly, and a more catastrophic 20.5 inches on NYC, making it the city’s 6th-largest snowstorm. Needless to say, travel on Tuesday did not happen for me, and since I preferred not to spend my birthday potentially stuck (along with thousands of other travelers), I elected to reschedule for Thursday.

I finally made it back to Atlanta, tired and cranky and starving, early Friday afternoon. After two hours of sleep, I was up and ready to celebrate NYE with a few friends— and a lot of strangers—- at Aqua Blue, a restaurant and martini bar I love in Roswell.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite what I expected. The crowd was older, and I turned out to not know more than 10 people in the room. Aqua Blue was woefully understaffed, with two or three bartenders for a crowd of 225+ people. We had to wait over 20 minutes for drinks, and two hours before we snagged two seats at the bar. They did provide complimentary champagne and NYE party favours, as advertised, but we had to repeatedly ask for both. The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I had the good sense to have dinner before hitting the restaurant, so we chose a rather low-key, inexpensive Mexican place that was all but deserted. In retrospect, I might have had a better time with a crowd of 20 of my friends, ringing in the New Year with chips and margaritas.

I can’t complain too much; I was exhausted, suffering from a cold, and would have been cranky anywhere, and as an organizer of the event, we got complimentary admission (generally worth it on NYE in just about any city.). It simply wasn’t my vibe; more like a singles’ bar for the 40-plus crowd than an upscale event. Next year, I’m thinking I’m going to either plan something that is a little more my scene, or go all out and attend one of the formal galas in the area, since I generally enjoy that kind of stuff. Nevertheless, ringing in the New Year with those important to you is fun, no matter where you do it, so I was thrilled to have made it back to ATL for 2011. Some of my friends, unfortunately, were still stuck in airports around the country, so much is to be said for being where you want to be, when you want to be there.

New Year’s Day is always a positive day for me; the feeling of a clean slate, and new possibilities is energising, and something I enjoy. Even the rain, which I like in small doses, is providing a restful backdrop for the day. I don’t necessarily make resolutions, but I do make a list on things I’d like to work on, experience, or accomplish during the next year. I try to make them as realistic as possible, so as not to feel defeated by January 2nd.

One of them is pretty appropriate to mention here: working on this blog! I’ve missed being a part of the blogging world, and even if nobody ever reads me (which I kind of hope they don’t…*lol*), it gives me a sense of peace and contentment to throw myself out there into the virtual world.

Other resolutions? Losing weight, and living a little healthier top the list, and I’d actually made some progress on that (significantly reducing my Coke/caffeine habit, and adding water to my diet, as well as exercising a few days a week) which yielded results fairly quickly: I lost almost 9 pounds over a month’s time, without giving up too much. Unfortunately, like most people, I fell off the wagon over the holidays, and gained back 6 in a little over two weeks—more than a little disheartening.

I’m also resolving to put a sense of fun in my life, and to reclaim some of my adventurousness and free-spiritedness. Many of my 2010 resolutions focused on gaining more stability, and while I’ve done that, I’ve also gained a tendency to take everything a bit too seriously, to avoid taking chances, and to plan my life months in advance. I do know this is what most adults do, but it’s left me feeling constrained, and unlike myself. I’m hoping to kind of recapture a sense of the younger, more irrepressible me, without allowing my tendency to overindulge in all of the Seven Deadly Sins to take over my life. *laughs*

I’ve written a few blogs during my travels, so stay tuned for posts over the next few days. A Happy New Year to all of you, wherever you are!:)

For as far back as I can remember, Christmas has always been one of my favourite times of the year. Never mind that I’m a summer girl, and that snow, ice, and temperatures below 50 degrees turn me at least 3 even more drastically whiter shades of pale, cause me to catch colds three times in 5 months, and leave me with a perpetual desire to hide underneath my electric blanket with the TV remote and flannel pajamas. Despite that, for the 4 weeks or so that fall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s (and include my birthday!), I’m clearly happy to be alive, prosperous, and enjoying the most festive time of the year.

Each year, I spend the holidays with my family, with the exception of one year involving an ex-boyfriend, snowstorms, and a broken-down car (which left us in a decidedly less urban area over the holidays, but the atmosphere was still warm, spirited, and charming, nevertheless.) Amusingly enough, after the end of my 10-to-14-day visit home, once the warm fuzzies have departed and everyone’s gone back to yelling at one another and pointing out why they’re glad Christmas only happens once a year, I can’t wait to get back to my home, my adopted family, and my normal life. But for the month of December, I’m a child again, one who can’t wait to get home and put up the Christmas tree in front of the fireplace, bake cookies, and listen to my mother’s favourite radio station on a month-long endless loop of sentimental carols and dedications to long-parted lovers, newly engaged couples, and children fighting in wars far away. Eleven months out of the year, it drives me completely insane. But at Christmas, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

I’m also sentimental in another way, in that I love sending holiday cards, complete with photos and individually-crafted handwritten messages. I know that many people look at it as an outdated tradition, or an obligation, but I love taking the time out to tell someone special to me that I was thinking of him. I love the personal touch that, despite our technological advancements, e-mail just doesn’t quite convey.

So, when Shutterfly offered a promotion on their website, offering 50 free holiday cards to bloggers willing to share their holiday card stories, I was all about it. Each year, holiday cards are a huge part of my December ritual, encouraging me to break through the ice, snow, commercialism, and family squabbles to send a little bit of holiday spirit to those who’ve made my year a special one.

Are you a holiday card fan? Visit Shutterfly, and send one to those you love. And, if you’re a blogger, share your experience, and get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly.