Monday, December 31, 2007

Last post of 2007

I'll probably be posting sporadically over the next few weeks, what with business travel (and fun vacation) being the story of my life until Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. I'm excited about this new chapter in my professional life. I'm also excited about my per diem and my corporate card and having a hotel room all to myself.

Bets on how quickly the novelty wears off? I'm thinking around Thursday.

I'm entertaining the notion of becoming a bizarre food blogger while I'm on the road. Photographing my restaurant meals and writing about them. Because seriously? Without my kids and husband and neighborhood for material, I'll be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

But I'll tell you one thing...this training? Will result in me being very jacked up on caffeine. I can assure you of that.

Friday, December 28, 2007

8 Things for 2008

As promised, my eight lofty, yet attainable, goals for the upcoming year.

1. Utilize my gym membership. I had a good streak going for several months, but I got out of the habit after a bout with the flu. This business trip, with the two-week hotel stay, could get me back in a good exercise routine. If I lost a few pounds, I wouldn't be heartbroken.

2. Keep my desk clean. I used to have a really, really messy desk at work. I resolved, about a year ago, to spend a portion of Friday afternoon making sure my desk was clean before I left. I've done well with that and am trying to increase the frequency of the desk purge to daily. Hopefully that will spill over to my purse.

3. Stealing this one from Zoot. I'm going to take the dogs, particularly the big girl, on longer walks. I'm sure she'd be a better dog if she got more exercise. Plus, she's getting a little chubby, which is cute but certainly not healthy.

4. Eat more fruit. If I had my druthers, I'd live on cheez-its, dinner rolls with butter, and country fried steak. With macaroni and cheese on the side. Unfortunately, that's not a sensible diet for anyone. Adding a couple of pieces of fruit might help me break the cheez-it addiction.

5. Ride my bike more. I live downtown. I work downtown. I do a lot of things downtown, and I feel pretty stupid driving around, looking for parking, when I live under a mile away from most of the things I do. Our house isn't in the downtown core, but it's an easy bike ride to get most places we go. If I bothered.

6. Give more of my time to help others. Delivering meals on wheels was so easy and so rewarding that we'd be crazy not to sign up do continue throughout the year. And I'd like to find more things we can do, as a family, to help out. Especially in our own neighborhood.

7. Finish the book. Along with exercising, that's part of my two weeks in a hotel plan.

8. Get more photos printed. Not everyone wants to look at a tiny camera screen. And computers crash. I really love the photo book I made of our wedding pictures. The next step would be to make more, like for vacations, birthdays, holidays, or whatever.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

7 Things That Happened in 2007

Stealing my own meme from last year, but it seems a worthwhile endeavor.

1. Started a novel. It began as a reckless foray into National Novel Writing Month, totally consuming my life for three weeks, and now remains a nagging project I'd like to finish. Two weeks away from my family next month might be just the push I need to get it done.

2. Preached a full sermon. I'd spoken in church several times before, but this was the first time I was the lone speaker. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. But that doesn't mean I have any plans to become a minister. I'm way too awkward visiting the sick.

3. Got a well-deserved promotion. After the bitter disappointment of being the second-place contestant last year, I laid low and decided to stay in my current department. I had faith in a couple of very trustworthy and loyal colleagues, and it worked in my favor. (Plus, just to make me feel better, the person who got the other job looks just plain miserable every time I see her. Another trusted colleague assures me that I would have hated it and would probably have thrown in the towel by now.)

4. Refinanced my mortgage. Too many scary stories of adjustable rate mortgages ending in foreclosures led me to the loan officer's office for a fixed rate mortgage. Peace of mind? Priceless.

5. Looked long and hard at my priorities and made some changes. I sleep better at night.

6. Met some bloggy friends in real life. Which was just as awesome as it sounds.

7. Drove 850 miles in one day, by myself. It was hard.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 in review

At the end of last year, I made a list of goals for this year. Let's see how well I did.

1. Vastly improve my cooking skills.

Not really. I've been so busy with #2 that the kitchen has been neglected. But I've sorted out a few good dishes and my palate is probably better. Oh, and I'm better at baking bread. So maybe I can get half-credit.

2. Change jobs in an upward direction.


3. Help my church develop a religious education strategy for children with disabilities.

Huh? I don't remember writing that. Definitely didn't do that.

4. Be more present when I spend time with the kids.

I'm gonna say yes on this. I think the kids would agree.

5. Do at least three catering gigs. The two I did this year went well. I can do even better next year.

Not so much. How about zero instead?

6. Keep blogging.

Obviously. I even went to BlogHer!

7. There are several things I'd like to do better: singing, being a better wife, getting more exercise, increasing my community involvement....okay. I'd like to get an iPod or MP3 player for myself.

a. just did karaoke the other night, still enjoying the afterglow
b. ask the husband on that one
c. until last month, I was doing great...and will do better in January
d. yes, I've done that
e. yes

Obviously, some of the things that I thought were really, really important this time last year have slipped in the rankings a bit.

And yes, I think you're being completely reasonable to expect an "8 things for 2008" post this week. I assure you it'll be done by Monday. Because making deadlines? Is probably on that list.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Media Frenzy, Round Two

When we walked into the MIFA headquarters this morning, we were wondering how many meals we would deliver. We were wondering where we'd be going. We were wondering if the kids were going to be okay with delivering meals to homebound seniors. We weren't wondering if the reporter from Channel 5 was going to be our new shadow.

But that's how it played out.

Something about my family screams, "Media, follow us!"

I'm thinking it's the kids.

That or the "Media whore" tattoo on my forehead.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wish I had that much money sitting around....

This is an awesome prank.

That is all.

Christmas Eve

Because I somehow think I'm some kind of writer, I volunteered to write the children's portion of my church's Christmas Eve service. And because I have suffered from writer's block, I flagrantly lifted text used in my parents' church (which is 750 miles away, so I doubt anyone at church will recognize it).

"Stealing" a worship service from a Presbyterian church is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Because I adapted it to become (a) Unitarian Universalist, and (b) kid-friendly. When I wrote our church's holiday play a couple of years ago, the words practically flew out of my fingers onto the screen. This one required more thought. Which, yeah, suggests that I might have had an easier time coming up with something completely original.

But I didn't. And, despite the theological differences between Unitarian Universalism and Presbyterianism, I think I've come up with something nice.

Spoiler alert...if you're going to Neshoba Church's Christmas Eve service tonight (at 6 p.m.!), you might not want to read this.

Seriously. Don't read it before the service.

Are you still reading? Don't say I didn't warn you.

"Let there be light"

Staging: after I welcome the congregation and the kids join me on the podium, the lights will be turned off, even the Christmas tree lights. Pitch black, or pretty close. Six readers are assembled.

Reader 1:
In the beginning, when it was very dark, God said: ‘Let there be light.’
AND THERE WAS LIGHT. (I light the reader's candle.)
Light goes on shining in the darkness

Reader 1 lights the candle of reader 2, then walks to the front right corner of the sanctuary.

Reader 2:
Carrying a candle
From one little place of shelter
To another
Is an act of love.

Reader 2 lights the candle of reader 3, then walks to the back right corner of the sanctuary.

Reader 3:
To move through the huge
And hungry darkness, step by step,
Against the invisible wind
That blows for ever around the world,
Carrying a candle,
Is an act of foolhardy hope.

Reader 3 lights the candle of reader 4, then walks to the back center of the sanctuary.

Reader 4:
Surely it will be blown out:
The wind is contemptuous,
The darkness cannot comprehend it.
How much light can this tiny flame shed
On all the great issues of the day?
It is as helpless as a newborn child.

Reader 4 lights the candle of reader 5, then walks to the back left corner of the sanctuary.

Reader 5:
Look how the human hand,
That cradles it, has become translucent:
Fragile and beautiful; foolish and loving.
Step by step.

Reader 5 lights the candle of reader 6, then walks to the front left corner of the sanctuary.

Reader 6:
The wind is stronger than this hand,
And the darkness infinite
Around this tiny here-and-now flame
That wavers, but keeps burning:
Carried with such care
Through an uncaring world
From one little place of shelter to another.
An act of love.

Reader 1:
The light shines in the darkness
And the darkness can never put it out.

Reader 2:
You are like light for the whole world. A church with doors open wide, welcoming all and serving all, cannot remain a secret.

Reader 3:
A home filled with love, nurturing, supporting, forgiving, caring, will never be empty and lonely.

Reader 4:
A life spent in service, volunteering, helping, sharing, will never be ignored or forgotten.

Reader 5:
In this season of long nights and short days, we are here to watch and wait for the coming of light into the world. We long for the day when the things of darkness—selfishness and greed, suffering and oppression---shall be no more. We seek ways to help hasten that day.

Reader 6:
Together, we can
Light up the past
That we might learn from it with thankfulness.

Reader 1:
Together, we can
Light up the present
That we might live in it with love.

Reader 2:
Together, we can
Light up the future
That we might prepare for it in hope.

Reader 3:
As we watch and wait,
May we be always ready to find the holy
Which is already and always with us.

Reader 4:
The Ancients greeted the longest, darkest time of the year with rituals and celebrations of light and fire, anxious to keep the darkness at bay, hopeful of a return of the light. Gradually this dark season was transformed to a time of the bringing of the good news: Light DWELLS among us! We strive to share the light---the light of hospitality, of acceptance and inclusion, of love.

Reader 5:
As we enter this special season, we think of all the holiday preparations---the baking, the shopping, cards and gifts, decorations….sometimes it is fun and exciting….and sometimes it is exhausting and overwhelming. Just like the Ancients, we huddle together for warmth, for companionship, in the season of long nights and short days. We may try to get together with lots of family and friends, and try to squeeze in parties and open houses and caroling and the Nutcracker and concerts and the Christmas Carol….as if there won’t be time after December 25 for any of this! But the season calls us to stop. To wait. To think about what lies ahead…the light is returning. What does this really mean for us?

Reader 6:
We wait in the darkness of the season. We notice the nights drawing in. As we notice the darkness of our world---the violence and pain, the fear and uncertainty, we can open our hearts to that darkness. We notice the darkness in our own lives, our personal struggles. We know that in the darkness, in all those places of darkness, the holy is still present, already present.
So, in the darkness we wait for the coming of the Light into the world.

Reader 1:
Christmas celebrates the birth of a special baby who grew up to change religion as it was known before. His light shines in the darkness, illuminating every corner…we cannot help but see the poor, the oppressed, the ignored, the neglected, the stranger in need. Now that we can see---what will we do?

It is easy welcome friends and loved ones…but can we welcome the stranger too? Hospitality---the gift of welcoming not just the friend but the stranger too---and it’s not that simple. In Celebrate Advent, by John Hendrix, it says “God’s people were strangers in Palestine, but they could never quite settle on what to do with the strangers in their midst. For most of the ancient world, the stranger was an enemy---an unknown sinister one who needed to be driven away. Yet, they were not quite sure because the stranger might be a messenger from God. This feeling of fear and suspicion was mixed with fascination, curiosity, and the need to be helpful.” Abraham welcomed three strangers to his tent in the desert…and they brought a blessing and a promise of a son. The Bible wants us to know that welcoming a stranger brings us close to an experience with God. …Jesus says, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”

Reader 2:
But it’s easy to welcome the sweet little baby, boy-child of Mary, meek and mild. What about welcoming the Jesus who ate with sinners and had tax collectors and prostitutes for friends? The person who broke the rules and had no place to lay his head? Is that the kind of person we want in our homes? The Baby Jesus remains, in some ways, a stranger, one who, by his example, asks us to do difficult things---to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, care for the outcast, welcome the stranger, do unto others as we would have them do unto us, be the light in a dark world.

Reader 3:
holy child of bethlehem, whose parents found no room at the inn; we pray for those who are homeless.

Reader 4:
holy child of bethlehem, born in a stable; we pray for all who are living in poverty.

Reader 5:
holy child of bethlehem, rejected stranger; we pray for all who are lost, alone, all who cry for loved ones.

Reader 6:
holy child of bethlehem, whom herod sought to kill; we pray for all who live in danger, all who are persecuted.

Reader 1:
holy child of bethlehem, a refugee in egypt; we pray for all who are far from their home.

Reader 2:
holy child of bethlehem, help us to see the divine image in people everywhere.

Reader 3:
With lights on the trees

Reader 4:
With holiday cards and greetings

Reader 5:
With letters of remembrance and thankfulness

Reader 6:
With packages under the tree

Reader 1:
With donations to MIFA, Habitat for Humanity, Bond Homes, Heifer International

Reader 2:
Invite blessings into your home

Reader 3:
Welcome the lonely, the sick, the downtrodden, the homeless, the jobless, the poor, the forgotten

In Unison:
Be the light to the world! Be the light to the world! (Christmas tree lights are lit up)

All readers return to the front and sanctuary lights are turned back on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No details yet

Sometimes it pays to stay at work even though it's time to go home.

Today, for instance.

Because that promotion that my boss has been talking about for the past month? Happened exactly fifteen minutes before time to go home.

Now, the interesting part is how fast it happened once the wheels were in serious motion. Normally, time at the Corporation is measured, well, geologically. In this situation, I honestly expected things to get going in February, maybe even March.

But not so much. Because when I come back from vacation in two weeks, I won't be coming back. My family, literally, will be dropping me off on the way home, in another city, where I'll be in training for two weeks. All expenses paid. But that also means that next week, meaning the week including Christmas, is my last week on my current job.

The timing couldn't be better. Or weirder.

But it's really hard to get all the way excited until I know what kind of raise we're looking at. Maybe I'll know tomorrow, but probably not. I have a pretty good guess, since my current position is one that is privvy to that kind of information.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd, I don't know how to end this post. So I guess I'll just stop writing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


My darling husband turns 39 today.

The world is a much more awesome, hilarious place because of him. I've been lucky enough to be his sidekick for just about half his life (we met a few weeks before his 20th birthday), and I can assure you that he's much cuter today. And funnier.

Hope 39 is the best year ever, Sweetie. I love you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Much more important than my whining

Please, y'all. If you don't already know about Bossy's daughter, please click here and find out why mothers get gray hair and wrinkles. And then say a prayer or two for them that they get good news on Tuesday.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bullet point update

I've neglected my blog lately, but haven't had anything to write about, really. So here's a bullet point update.

  • My kids did a great job in their respective performances at the school's holiday program. Alex and Susie both had more than one thing to do, so Craig and I remained engaged in the action pretty much the whole time. Susie has made good progress on the cello, and Alex amazed all of us with his mad hip-hop dancing skillz. He also received his award for coming in second place in the art contest, so it was a good evening all around.
  • We did almost all our holiday shopping in one fell swoop yesterday. In the rain. And the cold. But we were done, and home, by 3 p.m., which made for a nice relaxing evening with the visiting in-laws. Barbeque was consumed, basketball was watched, and all was well.
  • My daughter is mired in some pretty crazy pre-teen girl drama with a friend who moved away about two years ago. They have an email group, along with a few other girls (and I get copied on all the emails), and the last few days have been, well, high-traffic. And pissy. It's a hint, I think, of the years to come. I alternate between being amused and feeling sorry for the girls. Email is a hard way to communicate, even without hormones flaring. Not sure if I need to intervene yet, but I'm glad my daughter put me on the distribution list, just so I can see what's going on.
  • The lack of television, due to the writers' strike, is beginning to make a difference in my life. And after tonight it'll be even worse, I'm afraid (season finales of Dexter and Survivor). Please, networks, get this sorted out. It's looking pretty bleak for January.
  • It's unreasonably cold today. But it sort of got me in the holiday spirit. Go figure.

Annnnnnnd, that's all.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Media frenzy

You'd think we were people who actively sought out the media. But I promise, they came to us.

Here's the cover:

But perhaps even better is the very surprising and delightful article about my son. (Page 25)

He gets his award tonight. Betcha $10 that I cry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If you're local

Pick up the most recent issue of the Memphis Flyer. There's this awesome family on the cover. I think I recognize the house. (Their website should update Thursday; the last issue is still on the site right now.)

In all seriousness, I'm very, very pleased with the picture and the article. I was in a pretty flippant mood when we were interviewed for the story, so I was a little worried that she didn't have much good material, but I shouldn't have worried.

Plus, it's further evidence that my neighborhood is truly awesome.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Still alive

It's an amazingly busy and chaotic week, not just at work, but in other areas of my life. The first time my husband and I will be in the same room for more than an hour or two, awake, will probably be late Friday night. Unless you count when we attend the kids' holiday program at school on Thursday. And I don't count that because we can't talk to each other while watching our son do his hip hop dance routine or watching our daughter sing or play the cello.

We've moved from one facility to another at work. (Sorry I'm so vague. Some of you know what that means, and if you ask me I'll explain privately.) So far things have gone pretty smoothly, with a few bumps. But it makes for fast-paced days, followed by absolute exhaustion by bedtime. I guess that's good timing: the writers' strike has seriously curtailed my television viewing. Which means I have no reason not to go to bed, other than playing on Facebook.

Did I mention that I'm working a full day today, plus staying late for a service project, then coming back to test another software/hardware upgrade? I'm told they'll only need me for a few minutes, around 9 p.m., but that time I stayed until 6 a.m. I had been told we'd be done by 10:00 p.m. or thereabouts. So I'm going to wear comfortable clothes.

And yeah, as an indication of my overworkedness (if that's not a word, it should be), let's consider the mailing of my grandmother's birthday card. Her ninety-ninth birthday is tomorrow. And I drove to the main post office yesterday, addressed card in hand, ready for the mailing. And I put it in the mailbox, well before the deadline of when they pick up the day's mail. Re-read that paragraph. What's missing?

The stamp.

How dorky is it to FedEx my grandmother a new card?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

But aren't you scared?

I guess NaBloPoMo got me all crazy, what with two posts on the weekend.

Over the past few weeks, I've been putting in more hours than usual at work. We've got a couple of very big projects going on, and that's sometimes meant that I leave work closer to 6 p.m. than my usual pre-5 p.m. departure.

Do you know what the difference between leaving work at 4:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.?

It's dark.

As I've mentioned, my commute is atypical for Memphis. I walk to work. Until a few months ago, my walk was one city block, then I entered the safety of the well-guarded campus where I work, then was across a parking lot, across a street, then inside a building that is connected to my department (door to door, about 1500 steps). Road realignment and other construction projects have removed the back entrance from service (temporarily), increasing my commute to about eight blocks outdoors, six of which are not inside the campus. (Which, incidentally, has prompted more than one person to note that I seem to be losing weight. I think they may be correct.)

When I tell people that I walk to work, most people express envy, telling me that it must be nice to save all that money, to get exercise, and so on. But a few people, especially those familiar with my neighborhood, say something else. "But aren't you scared?" they ask.

Let's consider the dangers involved in my commute.

I cross two streets. I don't have a crosswalk or a traffic signal for either crossing, but the traffic patterns make for a safe trip across the street. I suppose there's potential for injury, but it's pretty slim.

I walk in a residential area and then on the sidewalks along busy streets. Streets with plenty of car traffic but little foot traffic.

What should I be afraid of?

I'm not afraid of being hit by a car, or even a bus. I know how to look both ways before crossing, and I give myself plenty of time to wait for a safe opportunity to cross. I suppose there's the outside chance of a driver losing control of a vehicle, but those kinds of freak accidents are freak accidents, and I don't spend time worrying about them. (Plus, I'm just as likely, if not more so, to be injured while driving in a car in such a situation.)

Oh, I know.

I should be afraid of the people who are on foot. The people walking to the bus terminal, to a bus stop, to somewhere, wherever that may be. People who don't, for whatever reason, probably economic, have the use of cars. People who might be pushing shopping carts full of aluminum cans or their personal stuff. People who might ask me for a dollar.

Wait a minute.

I'm one of them, right? Because I'm walking, too.

Almost fifteen years ago, right before we got married, Craig and I bought a house in Cooper-Young. The neighborhood, at the time, was in transition. It had had some bad years, resulting from the growing suburbs beckoning to young families. When the solid middle class abandoned the area, things got dicey, and crime rates soared. The crime was diminishing, businesses were moving in, and Craig and I (wisely, I might add) saw a great opportunity to buy a house that would easily appreciate in value (it did, more than we thought it would have).

At the time, Craig was working at a video store, often working nights, and I was alone in the house a lot. And I was mostly fine with that. I would often walk from our house to the neighborhood coffee shop (we just had one car), and I frequently made that walk alone, in the dark. Maybe that was stupid. Maybe I should have been afraid. But it never occurred to me to feel anything but confidence. I was in my neighborhood, on my street, surrounded by my neighbors.

Maybe I'm still stupid, if that's what I was then. Because I don't feel scared walking in my neighborhood. I don't feel scared walking past the construction parking lot (I've gotten to know the men who work there, and I tend to think they're looking out for me). I don't feel scared walking on the sidewalk on a well-traveled street, especially when I can see homes owned by my hairdresser, by other people I've gotten to know by living here.

I'm walking in my neighborhood. If I'm scared to do that, then why the hell should I live here?

I might just be a little sad when my walk gets short again. Maybe I'll keep taking the long way home.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Delving into other territory

In general, it's my policy to avoid blogging about my marriage, or at least to do so in vague, superficial areas. Members of his family and mine read here, and, at least in that arena, discretion is the better part of staying happily married.

Last night, however, we got one of those date nights. The kids had been hounding us to let them go to "Freedom Friday" at a local church. Have you heard of these things? A seemingly unlimited number of children (no reservation is required) show up around 6:30 (or have stayed over from the church's afterschool childcare program), pay $15, and skate, do karaoke, watch movies, play basketball, play video games, and generally run amok. (They also can buy pizza and snacks for quite reasonable prices.) The only rule is that parents must pick them up by 11:00 p.m. (I bet there are other rules, but I really didn't see much evidence of that.)

So we had a few hours to spend doing stuff that kids aren't allowed to do. Like see rated R movies. Well, one movie. December is prime movie season, so there were several films out that I was more than willing to see. Craig selected the newest Stephen King adaptation, "The Mist."

We were a split panel. He thought it was great. I thought it needed a lot of editing. An hour in, I was restless. An hour and a half in, I was ready to leave. When it was over, I was delighted. The final credits gave me information that I think was important to what I thought the film's failings were caused by: the same person wrote the screenplay, directed, and produced the film. Equally important to me was that the film was based on a novella. As in "short novel." The movie was fully two hours. Not short.

I'm not going to spend any more time bashing the movie. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. I've seen plenty better, but I wasn't mad or cranky about not liking it. (I was, however, quite sure that Craig was kidding when he told me he thought it was great. I finally realized he wasn't.)

But what happened next was interesting. It didn't last long, but we had a pretty loud argument. My screenplay of said argument:

Me: So, should we pick up the kids now?
Him: You don't want to eat?
Me: I'm not really hungry. Are you?
Him (louder): I haven't eaten anything! And you just want to pick up the kids!
Me (louder): That's cool, we can go eat. Do you want to go to Huey's?
Him (even louder): You said you wanted to pick up the kids and go home!
Me: ???
Him: You don't care that I'm hungry and you want to go home!
Me (quite loud): WTF???
Him: You haven't cared about anything we did all night!! You just said whatever to anything I suggested!!
Me: Dude, I just effing suggested that we eat at Huey's!! And I told you that there are like five movies I wanted to see so I didn't care which one we saw!! Eff!!!
long, long silence...about four blocks of driving

Me (coldly): Do you want to go to Huey's?
Him: Whatever.
long silence, punctuated by a few random curses by me

Him (softer): So are we going to be in a fight the rest of the night?
Me: Whatever.
shorter silence

Him: I'm sorry I...
Me: It's okay.

And, scene.

So, what was the magic word?

I bet you can guess. I love it when he apologizes when he's been a butthead.

But I'm pretty sure the whole argument happened because we were a split panel on the movie. He and I have been together are entire adult lives (we were 17 and 19 when we started dating), and we inform each other's taste. While he has a broader range of appreciation for movies and music than I do, it's rare that we're such a split panel (unless it's a romantic comedy, a genre for which I have a weakness, but I'll still admit that it's mostly crap....deeply enjoyable crap to watch, but crap nonetheless). And I think when we do have divergent opinions, it can cause tension. Maybe because it's so rare that it flips us out that we're not 100% soulmates. In fact, when I look back at our almost-15 years of marriage, I see that most of our big fights were because we couldn't figure out why we had a divergence of opinion.

I also see that most of them were solved, completely solved, by two words.

We don't need to apologize for disagreeing. Good heavens, how boring we would be if we agreed all the time. Heck, we often vote differently in major elections. But we do need to remember that a surprising difference of opinion is not a bad thing. It doesn't chip away at our marriage. It needs to be honored, celebrated, that we, as two distinct individuals, can still be together.

But I'm picking the movie next time.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday spirit

Just got off the phone with a friend, who was putting up some holiday decorations while we talked. The nativity scene she was erecting is a stained-glass ensemble, attached to the windows with suction cups. And, clear as day, she said the most awesome thing I've ever heard in my entire life.

"Hang on, I need to put the ass in the window."

True story.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

November 24

It has been called to my attention that I didn't discuss my brother's wedding to his hot girlfriend in full detail here. (I did post pictures, however, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, I've got well over 100,000 words!)

And now I've missed the boat, it seems. Because the wedding has become a minor internet sensation, with mentions here and here and here.

But I may have something to add. This is my only brother we're talking about, and it was a stunningly happy occasion. Happy for all the right reasons (true love, she's the yin to his yang, etc.), but also because I know what happened before the big day. Before they met (and after). I know how much crap he withstood before this wonderful woman came into his (and my family's) life.

Seeing the two of them holding hands and promising to be together forever was powerful. Seeing the support of their friends - friends who, by the way, were immensely welcoming and friendly when I met some of them in July - made my heart very happy. My brother is a good guy, a kind person, a really good uncle, and he has surrounded himself with a group of people deserving of his awesomeness.

And his new bride is a big part of that. She lived in Chicago before he did, and I presume that many of his friends started out as her friends. That she had these people in her life is a credit to her character, which had already impressed me when I first met her last Christmas.

The strength of their relationship (and the wedding plans, and each of them) was tested a few months ago, when her mother finally succumbed to the cancer that had been present for years. (I don't know all the details of her mother's illness, so please understand if I don't fill in the blanks very well.) When things got really dire, my brother appeared at the hospital, ready to have a chaplain-officiated ceremony there in the hospital room so that his fiancee's mother could see her daughter get married. (Hopefully he'll fact-check me in the comments, because I don't exactly remember what happened at that point.)

And the wedding went on, despite the recent loss of her mother.

And it was beautiful.

I have only a casual understanding of Steampunk, while my brother and his wife have at least a strong affinity for the aesthetic that accompanies it (again, my ignorance keeps me from going into satisfying detail). I know (from the Wiki article) that it has roots in scifi/fantasy literature, but everything I've found regarding fashion points to neo-Victorianism. Since my kids were in the wedding party, I knew what the bridesmaids were wearing. And I struggled to figure out what to wear, seeking help from the internet, and from a real-life friend who started out as an internet friend. (And I wound up not being neo-Victorian but going with the gray color scheme. Because sister of the groom is not one of those flashy roles in a wedding. Leave the bride to be flashy.)

But here's the part that I want to tell you. The ceremony? Was amazing. My parents, definitely not steampunks in any way, enjoyed it. The "minister" did his job quite well, straddling the line between stand-up comedy and reverence perfectly. He paid tribute to my parents' and Siouxzi's parents' long marriages. He drew everyone in attendance into the power of these two people's love for each other. Yes, I got teary. Maybe I even cried a little.

The reception was delightful (in the same space as the ceremony, quickly transformed by the wedding party and a few close friends), with music from their high school years (think New Order, Information Society), and plentiful food and drink. The cupcakes my mother made were topped with some pirate figurines, and the cakes were decorated with gears made from fondant.

My children adore their Aunt Siouxzi and Uncle Alan. They were so proud to be part of the wedding.

I'm so happy to welcome her into our family. I hope they continue the romance and keep making each other happy, because each of them deserves just that.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Not NaBloPoMo, Day One

The writer's block, it is ugly. And leaves me with nothing to say.

That's not true. I just wrote and deleted three paragraphs so horribly boring and poorly-written that even my mom would have thrown her computer out the window.

So just a couple of film recommendations for you.

Enchanted is lovely. All four of us enjoyed it thoroughly, and I didn't cry! (Ask the kids...they find great sport in catching me dabbing my eyes during Kid Nation or Hallmark commercials or um, a lot of things.) Excellent, funny, well-done.

But if you're strong of stomach and are amused by horrible Japanese movies, please to enjoy "Terrifying Girls' High School." (Hint: "terrifying" must have gotten really messed up in translation.) It's hilarious! (But not for children or grandmothers or any other kind of viewer who would be offended by torture scenes that are, um, funnier than scary.) Seriously, I played computer solitaire the whole time it was on and had NO problem following the plot's amazingly insane twists and turns, despite the fact that it's subtitled and I only know about twenty words in Japanese (and six of them are numbers).

That's all I have.

But remind me to tell you about my son winning an art contest. That's a really good story.