Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays were great, full of fun, family, friends, food and all the things you value. Mine were mixed; Covid raised its ugly head and some of our plans were changed, postponed and even canceled, but I think that I found the proverbial silver lining.

My two granddaughters, home from college, insisted that we attend yet another performance of The Nutcracker. I agreed with the proviso that next year we had to see some alternative version of the classic: an all-Black cast or a rock interpretation, something else than Balanchine. Just as we sat down at the Philadelphia Academy of Music a voice on the loud-speaker announced that we were attending a “Relaxed” performance. For a moment I thought someone was reading my mind or playing a joke on me. No, a “Sensory Friendly Performance” is a special time for families and the general public to attend a ballet without the usual protocols. The lights were kept on, phones and iPads were allowed—just no flash. Talking, leaving your seat, coming in and out, all permitted. At first, we thought this would be very distracting, then we started talking among ourselves and discovered that it was relaxing indeed. An adorable little girl wearing a velvet dress and sparkling leggings with shit kickers—a future alternative dancer perhaps—kept making funny remarks about the dancers to the merriment of everyone around. During intermission, when the bells alerted the public that it was time to go back inside, people continued snacking and drinking; no hurry going back in, this was definitely an alternative version!

For our Christmas Eve dinner I had planned a Moroccan menu, still smitten with the North African culture. In addition to the tagine dishes I bought during my trip, I found a couscoussièr to make the perfect couscous, the ideal glasses for mint tea and, of course, all the matching tableware to satisfy my decorating streak. With the table all set and the refrigerator full, my oldest daughter tested positive for Covid. No problem, we would celebrate on New Year’s Day when we should all be healthy. What difference did a week make?

On the assigned day, I woke up with a prickly throat that had nothing to do with the flavorful ras-el-hanout spices and the delicious chicken tagine with apricots, prunes and almonds I prepared. The dinner was a success, but the next morning I tested positive as well, and we are still assessing how many other family members will be getting sick. I had also planned a Three Kings dinner party for January 6, which I promptly canceled. This was going to be the year I’d try making the traditional cake dessert myself, but it would have to wait. No worries, as my daughters say.

I have been home for an entire week, but I’m not complaining. My case is mild, the refrigerator is still half full and I have a long list of films to catch up for the Golden Globes and the Oscars. First, I binged with the provocative two series of The White Lotus (Netflix), then I watched Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (also on Netflix) and The Triangle of Sadness (Prime Video). What is it this year with parodies of wealthy people, each darker than the next? It seems that Parasite (available in Prime Video now) opened a gold mine. Decision to Leave (Prime Video), another South Korean jewel made me think I had seen my new favorite thriller, despite its over-two-hours length, one more characteristic trending this year.

But nothing prepared me for Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, the last movie by the Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Unlike his latest works, this one is set in Mexico and Spanish is its primary language. According to A.O. Scott, The New York Times’ film critic, this movie: “devotes itself to the crossing and blurring of boundaries: between life and death; between fact and fiction; between the personal and the professional; and, perhaps above all, between Mexico and the United States” (Nov. 3, 2022). For me, in addition to all of the above, it’s an emigration story.

The protagonist, Silverio Gama (portrayed by the marvelous Daniel Giménez Cacho), is an alter ego of the director. Like him, he’s from Mexico, but lives in Los Angeles; like him, he is married, with two children who prefer to speak English; like him, he’s successful professionally, but is in an existential conundrum. Although he is “a first-class immigrant,” he suffers going back and forth to his country of origin, as do his children. The sequence in the LA airport when the passport officer tells him that he can’t call the US his home, is indicative of the plight of the immigrant. Told in a humorous tone, it’s pure pathos, nevertheless. Obviously, the sight of the celebrated father, the beautiful mother and the two teenage children, a son and a daughter, reminded me of my own family story and moved me to tears. I hope all this makes sense, remember that not only I’m living between two cultures, like Iñárritu and his alter ego, but I’m also under the effects of Covid’s brain fog.

7 Responses to Happy New Year!

  1. Annette Linck says:

    As usual I am overwhelmed by your endless curiosity, adventurism and energy.
    The unraveling of the recent series of events would overwhelm most of us but you manage to plough through without rancor or self-pity – BRAVA!

    • conchaalborg says:

      Thanks so much, Annette. It takes one to know one, you are a model for me in many ways as well. Love, Concha

  2. conchaalborg says:

    Un poco triste, accidentado pero en el fondo bonito fin de año. La reunión familiar al final siempre compensa.
    Esperamos que ya estéis recuperados. Besos para toda la familia, Alberto
    Muchas gracias, Alberto. Estoy pensando mucho en vosotros, con cariño, Concha

  3. conchaalborg says:

    What a lovely way to memorialize your holiday/Covid adventures. I appreciate your ability to “roll with the punches” with such grace. Alas, I am more the “wrestling with angels” type. I rarely given in to challenging circumstances with grace – my default is frustration, exasperation, and sometimes, anger. When I grow up, I want to be more like you.
    I hope that you are feeling better and that we are able to all go out tomorrow night.
    Thanks, Randi. I think that you are admirable in many ways as well. I love that about “When I grow up”… Concha

  4. conchaalborg says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and entertaining blog.
    Happy New Year and love, Diane

    Happy New Year. I was sorry to read about your “bumpy” start to 2023, but it sounds like you made the very best of it. Love, Alan

    So sorry to hear about all the sickness – but still a wonderful joyful post. You are so resilient! And thanks for the great movie suggestions. Xx, Jean

    It was wonderful reading your lengthy article
    About the recent holidays, your family, holiday postponements, your testing positive for Covid. Wonderful to read and learn. Hope you are having a wonderful day. Libby

    And a Happy New Year to you Concha. With all of the TV watching you are probably ready for a book. Just read Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. An excellent read. Take care,

    Thank you one and all for the many encouraging words. Friends are the best any time of year!

  5. conchaalborg says:

    Me encantaron tus descripciones del blog tus Fiestas de fin de año, lo bueno y lo ‘original’, por suerte ya estas mejor y un dia de estos deberíamos encontrarnos.
    Te mando un abrazo y buenos deseos para una mejoría total, sin brain fog.
    Cariñosamente, Vera

    Gracias mil, Vera!

  6. conchaalborg says:

    Concha, querida, qué saga con el dichoso Covid. Me alegra saber que ya sobrepasaste y que empleaste bien tu tiempo en casita. Ahora me toca a mí ponerme al día con la lista de pelis que has mandado. De todas las que mencionas solamente he visto la segunda temporada de White Lotus con las deliciosas imágenes de Taormina, y los pesados protagonistas!
    Nosotros muy bien y haciendo planes para el año de la celebración de los 80 de Erdmann! Geezers are us! ¿Te vienes de visita en primavera?
    Abrazos y buena salud, Cristina

    ¡Enhorabuena a Erdmann, increíble que vaya a cumplir ochenta!
    Sí, pronto tengo que hacer planes para veros. Me quedaba en el hotel Normandy, pero ahora quiero ir a otro que me han recomendado.
    Abrazos a los dos, Concha