Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Post: Sarah Paige Ryan's Holiday Survival Guide

Oh, the holidays. The shopping lists. The paper cuts. The delayed flights. The family gatherings where Grandma reminds everyone that she thought you’d never graduate from high school. If you’re like me, then the season of giving is a source of both joy and dread. After years of holiday meltdowns, I’ve compiled the perfect survival guide to see you through the merry-making.

You might associate this classic cocktail with the likes of Don and Betty Draper, but I have my in-laws to thank for this hangover-proof mood enhancer. Every year, my relatives gather around the Christmas tree and get good and drunk on their own version of the Old-Fashioned: lemon-lime soda, brandy, a dash of bitters, a slice of orange, a maraschino cherry, lots of ice and, for good measure, a sprinkling of Sweet’N Low.

Bad Sex
Why waste your time on a furtive quickie when you can read other people’s half-baked exploits? On December 6, the British magazine The Literary Review will announce the winner of the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. According to the editors, “The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel and to discourage it." Twelve authors from around the world are on the shortlist, including Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Jean Auel, and David Guterson. Extracts are available online at The Guardian.

A Good Book
There’s no better excuse for retreating to an armchair with an old-fashioned and a warm blanket than a really good read. When the season strikes, I want to be transported to distant locales. I want to ooh and aah over the marvelous and strange. If you love novels, I recommend Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder for its fire and ice evocation of disparate locales (Minnesota and the Amazon) and love and nature. If you prefer to dabble, pick up a copy of The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities and enjoy a bizarre and horrifying collection in which parasites might hold the key to religious ecstasy and mechanical teachers are linked to the development of mustard gas.

Schadenfreude is the time-honored art of deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others. It’s distinctly un-seasonal, but it’s also an invaluable source of relief at a time when there’s so much pressure to love one another. On Wednesday, November 30, at 7pm, the members of the Old Town Writing Group will share their tales of holiday mishaps during the Feast of Fools event at Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins. The reading is free. The writers include Karye Cattrell, Dana Masden, Laura Pritchett, Laura Resau, Carrie Visintainer, and myself. Work off that Thanksgiving stress with stories of social disorder.

Sarah Paige Ryan is a local writer and blogger. Her memoir, Solar-Powered Sex Machine, is available online. Learn more at

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