28 January 2009

Second Chances Are Cake Stand Blue

I have never been so happy to see the backside of a year as I was this past January 1st. There were some good moments, no doubt, but the majority of my 2008 was smudged with the trials and tribulations associated with my sister's drug addiction.

Usually I don't talk a lot about my sister's struggles with crystal meth because I feel that is her story to tell. So I won't be telling that story here. I do, however, feel that I can talk about the 7 years or so I've stood in the middle of the intense fire that engulfed my family. Topics like this aren't really suitable dinner conversation, so I typically reserve this heavier fare for those late night philosophical discussions with my mom or very close friends.

And topics like this aren't really fun to read about on blogs.

But what does make for a good blog post are those moments when you can actually see the storm cloud behind you.

This week I've been moving all of my things from one room in my parents' house to my sister's old room. This is an effort to provide a healthy environment for my sister when she returns to this house for a holiday visit or a weekend stay.

My sister's old room was a bright purple. The color that a high school girl would pick to match her very girlie Pottery Barn bedspread. I guess most people would look at a color like that and be cheered up. For me, though, that color was terrifying and depressing. I think my mom felt the same way when she looked into my sister's old room because she was adamant about painting over it.

So I went to Lowe's and looked at rows of paint samples called "mint gelato green" and "summer sky" and "antique white" until I found a pale blue called "cake stand blue."

As I painted over that terrible purple, I wondered if the walls would forget all that they had seen in this room - if the memory would be wiped as clean as this new color. I thought about how bright the room had become and the promise of new memories to be made in this room.

For my sister, her current state of transformation is not much different from these four walls. She is in a program, as most people politely refer to rehab, and has matured exponentially in a very short time. It's taking a lot of work, but she is slowly shedding darkness and discovering the bright promise of her future.

Ah, Cake Stand Blue. I think you're my new favorite color.

04 January 2009

Another year, another Moleskine

Ah, the first of the year. Time to put away twinkle lights, say "oh no!" to desserts, take up early morning jogging and make declarations of balancing checkbooks and writing more lists on a regular basis.

I say boo to all of these things.

Some people relish the close of the holiday season, but I do not. I adore twinkle lights and using the excuse of December as reason enough for a nice dinner out. I also don't mind partaking in dessert AND jogging.

For me, the start of a new year is celebrated by turning the pages of my new blank (and black) Moleskine diary/calendar. The promise of a blank calendar! After carefully slipping the cellophane off my new calendar, I quickly scribble in important birthdays and anniversaries. Then I flip through the months, anticipating Saturdays spent with coffee and the NY Times, trips I may take, and the adventure a new year can hold.

I also try to begin a new book at the start of the year. I'm boring, so why not? I finished off '08 with "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (many thanks to Katherine for the recommendation of that title while pouring over the classics section at Waterstones).

I'm starting off '09 with "The Reader." It's quite a somber book -- described as morally complex, haunting and philosophically elegant -- but somehow that seems appropriate.

Its subject matter, particularly the relationship between the two main characters, is dark and not for those with a weak stomach. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of people I could recommend this book to who would not find great offense in its explicitness. But I enjoy the challenge of being stretched and questioned by characters who make decisions I would not make myself.

I am promised by the back cover of "The Reader" that the book is ultimately hopeful. Sort of how I imagine my blank Moleskin to be - ultimately hopeful.