Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas 09

I'm snuggled in my sister's bed under approximately four blankets (one of which lies across my feet at the end of the bed). Amy's not here anymore and neither is her dog Sophie. Since I have the only twin bed in the house, when the family begins to drift away, I usually move to one of their beds. Amy's is my favorite because it's a nice tall bed and the feng shui feels good and I think her bedroom is warmer than both mine and Emily's.

It's been a cold Christmas. It was chilly when I arrived, but then on Christmas Eve it began snowing... and snowing... and snowing... and after a foot of snow on the ground and drifts upon drifts pressed up against cars and houses and windows and porches, and piles of plowed snow lining parking lots and strategically placed in the middle of double lane roads, it got really cold. And our house is drafty anyway. It's old... for the Midwest that is. Built in the early 1900s it's huge with mostly french windows all around it (two full walls of my bedroom are just windows). It's beautiful, don't get me wrong. But a little chilly.

"Do you want me to put your beer in the fridge so it won't get cold?" my father hollered up to me one afternoon. I'd forgotten I'd opened it and had become swept up in loading dad's CDs onto his computer since the Pittman women bought him an iPod this year for Christmas.

"This will change your world, dad."

Of course, it didn't work. Leave it to us to buy the one broken iPod in the whole Apple store. Well, sort of broken. It works okay, but it's earphone jack doesn't work so you can't hear anything. Not much good that does. My dad was really disappointed. So tomorrow after they drop me off at the airport my parents are driving into KC, the closest city with an Apple Store.

But truth be told, even if we weren't prone to buying things that are broken (iPod) or stolen (a car) or illegal (a house), this was definitely the Christmas of broken stuff. My phone broke (when my dad stepped on it). The power-steering on my dad's car broke and just today something with the muffler got messed up when we ran over a curb hidden in snow. Mom and I broke my grandma's phone this evening while trying to untangle the cord and clean off the mouthpiece. It screeched and hollered and made noises I didn't think a phone was capable of. The automatic windows on Emily's car broke when she forgot to roll them up while she went through a car wash. You should have seen her afterwards when she pulled up to an ATM and was trying to get her window to go down so she could slide her card into the machine and retrieve some money. but all it kept doing was going up, up, down and up again. Look mom, no hands! I've never laughed so hard.

My heart broke a little too when I had to leave all of my pets in Austin so I could fly to Missouri, a first for me at Christmas. I've always driven, every year, with the cats, then with the cats and the dog, then with the cats and the dog and the boyfriend and then with just the dog, but this time, I flew. Two years ago my car broke - blew up rather - on the highway while driving home and at the rate we're going this Christmas season, I'm guess I'm kind of glad I flew. Somebody knock on wood, please...

With all the snow we've had here and with the snow all across the Midwest (Ok City was declared worst city for weather on Christmas day) I'm pretty glad I don't have to drive back in it. That makes for a stress-free trip (at least for my family and friends who worry about me). The snow relieved me of even more stress than a car drive home. It cancelled church... twice! I know church isn't supposed to be stressful, but I was scheduled to sing on Christmas Eve and my voice wasn't fully recovered from the strep yet and while I know I shouldn't try and be perfect and that I should just "praise God with what I've got," I still was a little nervous about belting those high notes. And then when the Christmas Eve Service was cancelled and I realized I was going to have to now sing the song at the Sunday worship service that made me even more stressed. I had planned on skipping Sunday worship... a little break if you know what I mean, not that any of you get stressed by going to church, but well... it turned out I didn't have to worry about that either. No one could even get into the church, let alone the parking lot, so Sunday's church service was cancelled too. Sorry baby Jesus. I guess we'll just have to have church in our hearts.

Grandma and grandpa had to have church and Christmas at home. Usually after the three Pittman girls have finished opening our stockings, we call gma and gpa and invite them over. By the time they arrive, we're mostly through the presents and they get to catch the last few big ones (this year it would have been dad's broken iPod and my NEW! luggage!). But they were stuck, and they were too nervous to even have dad come and get them. This was probably a pretty good choice on their part since the next day when mom and dad went over because grandma/pa's furnace broke (i forgot to list that one earlier!), my parents had a terrible time getting off their street and even in pulling back onto our street dad's car slid into a snowdrift and he nearly had heart attack number three.

Truthfully, I've loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not one night when we miscalculated our turn into the driveway (turning on snow and ice can be tricky) and had to push the car out of the snow knowing that we had almost made it home and the back door (and warmth) was just a few steps away. But other than that, it's been great. Winter Wonderland literally.

Snow makes everything brighter. Literally. At night, it's not nearly as dark because the white snow reflects the light so well that there is a constant glow in the city. I wonder if that's how people keep their sanity in Alaska. Darkness is hard for me which makes Daylight Savings Time my least favorite six months of the year. But with snow, the world is brighter, lighter and feels less scary, less sad, and less oppressive. And snow forces you to slow down. You weigh the benefits of driving somewhere. Is it really worth the trip? And you have to drive and walk slowly on snow. Each step is deliberate and necessitates your concentration on the moment. I like that. I like being able to see and slowing down... and of course snuggling.

Except, not for me since I'm on day 72 of no men. Which really made me miss my pets this Christmas. You need more than just your own body to fight the cold in winter. Staying warm is a team effort. Fortunately for me, on her last night in St. Joe, Sophie spent most of it draped across my legs in my bed. We'd made a bargain earlier that day. "Sophie," I told her, "if I give you this apple to eat, you have to come sleep in my bed tonight." Unbeknownst to me, this white lab understands the human language and sure enough, when I tried to roll over in the middle of the night, I awoke to find her keeping me warm.

And tomorrow I fly home. It'll be in the 40s when I arrive and as high as 60 the next day. I get to leave, to escape. But I'll also be leaving behind a little part of me that loves the drama of it all: the snowflakes, the sparkle, the snowdrifts taller than you, the ice storms, the electrical blackouts, the fires in the fireplace burning real wood, the two pairs of socks, the piles of blankets, and the light... being able to see in the dark. Always cling to the light.

My favorite thing to look at when it snows is the Christmas lights that decorate bushes in front yards, bushes that are perfect resting places for fallen snow. Not being trampled or dirtied by feet and goulashes, the bushes stay perfectly covered by inches or sometimes feet of snow. The lights have been dampened by the snow, diminished even maybe, but you can still see them glowing underneath, whether white or red or multi-colored, illuminating the whole pile of snow on top of it. I love that. it makes the bush more beautiful than before.

Always cling to the light, whether you're covered in snow or not.

And always let the light shine through.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Movie Review

So, starting back at Thanksgiving when I came home, the fam has caught a couple of flicks at the Hollywood 10 that I find worthy of a blog review.

1. Old Dogs. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. It's horrible. My father wasted, WASTED $80 paying for the family (minus Amy) to see this over Thanksgiving. We only chose it because I wanted to see Fantastic Mr. Fox and Emily wanted to see Blind Side and neither of us wanted to see what the other wanted, so we compromised by mother announcing that we would go see Old Dogs. That was a mistake. It's now a nice family joke, but no joke is worth that much money or that much of my time.

2. Sherlock Holmes. MUST SEE. As if the raving critics weren't reason enough, this movie has two of my favorites in it: Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. I mean, need I say more? And I was skeptical, people. I'm a literature person. Sherlock Holmes is a nerdy middle aged man who wears a cap and sits in his library smoking a pipe and solving mysteries. He's not some kung-fu murder solving karate kid. But my skepticism was unfounded. I was wrong. I should have known better. Lest my childhood crush deceive me, RDJ was amazing (and hotter than ever!) and of course Jude Law is just good eye candy. On top of that though the plot was interesting, the jokes funny and Holmes was still... well, a little bit nerdy. And I was quite taken with the cinematography which my father insisted was actually a 3d film sans glasses, but which I thought illuminated Holmes' thought process well. Overall 4 stars or 5 or however many stars are available. Plus we saw it on Christmas Eve with the WHOLE FAMILY which was awesome.

3. It's Complicated. Good movie. Mom, Dad and I caught it after all the other children left and liked it a lot. Meryl Streep is always so fun to watch and Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin are always good. Plus Jim from the Office is in it, so it's real NBC special! There were a few scenes when I thought, "O God, I'm watching this with my parents," but overall it was very tender. If you're low on cash I'd recommend waiting for it to come out on DVD, but it was still worth my time and my dad's money in my opinion.

4. Up In the Air. Amazing. Tangible, funny, unpredictable, this movie usurps even Sherlock Holmes the excitement of which kept me going to the movies this holiday season. It was the final viewing by my mom, dad and me this Christmas season since I return to Austin tomorrow and it is a MUST SEE. From the 23 year old girlish optimism turn realism that I still often feel at 31 to the down-to-earth beauty of the 34 love interest of George Clooney who also resonated with my life, it was a capture-it-all film of what it means to live up in the air and what it means to live here on earth. I'm adding this to my birthday wish list 2010. It's a must own.

5. Nine. AWESOME. Although I haven't seen it yet. We were supposed to see it yesterday in KC with Emily and Jesse but dinner ran late and we didn't make it. I plan on seeing it when I return to Austin and also Avatar which I've put off seeing until I return to a city with 3d theaters. Yea! Maybe I'll see you there!


Tales of the Pittman Christmas adventures are to come, but until they do, here's a beautiful Christmas poem...

by Gary Johnson

A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye
Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,
And also the partridge in a pear tree
And the golden rings and the turtle doves.
In the dark streets, red lights and green and blue
Where the faithful live, some joyful, some troubled,
Enduring the cold and also the flu,
Taking the garbage out and keeping the sidewalk shoveled.
Not much triumph going on here—and yet
There is much we do not understand.
And my hopes and fears are met
In this small singer holding onto my hand.
Onward we go, faithfully, into the dark
And are there angels singing overhead? Hark.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Grinch on Christmas Eve

Since my sisters have kindly nicknamed me the Grinch (I was a little cranky earlier this evening because when I asked what we'd be doing as a family for Christmas Eve since the service at church had been cancelled, my sisters responded "watching Falala Christmas." I know. You just threw up a little.)... And since my neighbor/the-brother-i-never-wanted lightly explained on a facebook post that the Pittman's had two daughters and a grinch... I thought we could read the poem for old time's sake.

Plus my parents DVD player is broken, so I can't watch it on there.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss

Every Who Down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot…
But the Grinch, Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown,
At the warm lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Whoville beneath,
Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.
“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer,
“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find some way to stop Christmas from coming!”
For Tomorrow, he knew, all the Who girls and boys,
Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise!
Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE!
Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they’d feast! And they’d feast! And they’d FEAST!
They would feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast beast.
Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!
And THEN They’d do something He liked least of all!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!
They’d sing! And they’d sing! And they’d SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of this Who Christmas Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”
“Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!”
“I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! But HOW?”
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
“I know just what to do!” The Grinch laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!”
“With this coat and this hat, I look just like Saint Nick!”
“All I need is a reindeer…” The Grinch looked around.
But, since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch? No! The Grinch simply said,
“If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!”
So he called his dog, Max. Then he took some red thread,
And he tied a big horn on the top of his head.
THEN He loaded some bags And some old empty sacks,
On a ramshackle sleigh And he hitched up old Max.
Then the Grinch said, “Giddap!” And the sleigh started down,
Toward the homes where the Whos Lay asnooze in their town.
All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care.
When he came to the first little house on the square.
“This is stop number one,” the old Grinchy Claus hissed,
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But, if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue.
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
“These stockings,” he grinned, “are the first things to go!”
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos’ feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
“And NOW!” grinned the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree!”
And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove,
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.
The Grinch had been caught by this tiny Who daughter,
Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, “Santy Claus, why,”
“Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”
But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick,
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
“Why, my sweet little tot,” the fake Santy Claus lied,
“There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side.”
“So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.”
“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”
And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head,
And he got her a drink and he sent her to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!
Then the last thing he took Was the log for their fire!
Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks and some wire.
And the one speck of food That he left in the house,
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
Then He did the same thing To the other Whos’ houses
Leaving crumbs Much too small For the other Whos’ mouses!
It was quarter past dawn… All the Whos, still a-bed,
All the Whos, still asnooze When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,
He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!
“PoohPooh to the Whos!” he was grinchishly humming.
“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!”
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!”
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
Then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry BooHoo!”
“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “That I simply MUST hear!”
So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!”
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
And what happened then? Well…in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch’s small heart Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light,
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he, HE HIMSELF! The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy 40th Anniversary

Yesterday was my parents' 40th Wedding Anniversary. Whoa. So we celebrated tonight by surprising my mom with a family and friends dinner at Galvin's, a famous restaurant in St. Jo, Mo. EJP made mom and dad a scrapbook of the past 40 years including letters from friends and family reflecting on old time and more recent times and on my parents' marriage. It was a pretty exciting and happy and yes, a little bit of a tearful evening. My dad gave a speech and my grandpa fell asleep (he couldn't hear it anyway) and as always, my grandparents figured out a way to pay for dinner.

So, here's what I wrote for my parents to put in the scrapbook and now on the web.

Dear Mom and Dad,

You've taught me that...

No matter how messy the house, how obstinate the children, how high the bills, how leaky the roof, how needy the children, how stinky the pets, how low the funds, how overgrown the yard, how ornery the children, how aged the body, how annoying the in-laws, how slow the internet, how overcooked the dinner...

Love is worth it.

The beautiful children are worth it, the blooming impatiens are worth it, the nights at the theater are worth it, the Sundays at church, the living room full of family, the articulate children, the murder mystery parties, the rock garden, the den cabinet full of toys, the Disney movies and Steven Spielberg films, the swim teams, the choir performances, the creative children, the boards and committees, the dinners with the grandparents, the friends who made it and the friends who didn't, the fireplace fires, the birthday parties, the talented children, the quiet nights alone, the swing sets, the board games, the cats, the hamsters, the guinea pig, the newt and even the fish who jumped out of their bowl... it was all worth it.

Love is always worth it.

Congratulations on 40 years of Love. Here's to 40 more...

My New Favorite Christmas (and Hanukkah Song)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

While Making Your List

Consider this...if all the people who attended church in America bought Just One fair trade item for someone on their list this Christmas, one million families would be lifted out of poverty for one year.

Last year one of the best gifts I received was a computer bag I wanted from Trade as One. It's super cool and in buying it for me, my mom... I mean Santa Claus... empowered people living in poverty to take one more step toward self-sustainability.

Trade as One is fair trade company whose mission is to to bring ethical spending to the church in America. They partner with churches is several different ways introduce fair trade and provide opportunities to buy fair trade. Take a second to check out the TaO website.

Check out the Trade as One Website and happy shopping!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Found It

When I was somewhere around the age of 11 or 12, I was in a play that I just finished assistant directing with Trinity Street Players and which is running THIS WEEKEND ONLY, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I played Imogene. "Type casting," my sister said; Imogene is the oldest girl and the ringleader of the infamous Herdmans, six children who are the bullies of the community. They lied and stole and smoked cigars, even the girls! The Herdmans had never set foot in a church until they heard there was free food.

And in the show I was in. I really had to smoke. Here's proof.

At one point in the play, Imogene Herdman is found smoking cigars in the ladies room wearing the Mary (the mother of Jesus) costume. That, of course, was the scene the local St. Joseph Gazette newspaper wanted a picture of for their article. So the girl who played Beth (the narrator) and the girl who played Alice (the know it all) and I all showed up for our photo shoot one Saturday afternoon and I smoked two or three cigars while the photographer worked on getting the best shot. Unlike Bill Clinton, I only inhaled once or twice, and at the young age of 11, that was definitely on accident.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a delightful play that everyone in Austin should come see whether you're six or 29 or 82 years old. It's a great family outing or would make for a very cosy and sweet date night.

While our version of Pageant doesn't have Imogene smoking cigars, it does star my best friend, Michelle

and was directed by myself and my other best friend Amy.

While working with 521 children (or maybe just 21) often made me want to pull my hair out or have a hysterectomy, it was an awesome learning experience and I really have fallen for some of those little monsters a.k.a. baby angels (side note: never reference younger children with names like "little monsters" in front of older children because children, no matter their age, go home and tell their parents what you said. yikes. like i mentioned, this was a learning experience).

Anyway, if you're in town or even close to town, come see our show. And be reminded that Jesus was not born to a family modeling what society tells us are worthwhile attributes: wealth, power, perfectionism and good manners. Rather, the story of Christ is one of humility, poverty, and the unpredictable nature of God.

7:30 tonight (Saturday) 2:30 Sunday. FREE 901 Trinity Street in downtown Austin.


Monday, December 07, 2009

2009 Christmas List

Luggage. Mine almost didn't make it back from Chile... in either lime or pink. these are 20% off and have free shipping for the next 2 days.

Canon Powershot sd990IS camera or the Fugi Finepix f200EXR or the cheaper Canon Powershot sd780 IS camera

Gift Certificates to Home Depot, Victoria's Secret, Parts & Labor (local Austin), Toy Joy (local Austin).

a pet guinea pig. i told myself i couldn't get any more pets until i got married, but if someone gave me a pet, i couldn't exactly decline it...

the new regina spektor cd, Far.

some teeshirts i like: Big Cats for MU Game Day, this Chesire Cat tee (that changes in sunlight!) or Zion, or maybe dinosaurs against creationism all "Girl" shirts, probably in "med" but "small" if that's all they've got.

a Girls Are Not Chicks Coloring Book. You can buy it here

red iPod nano armband $29

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Man Is Only As Good (a great poem)

A Man is Only as Good . . .
by Pat Boran

A man is only as good
as what he says to a dog
when he has to get up out of bed
in the middle of a wintry night
because some damned dog has been barking;

and he goes and opens the door
in his vest and boxer shorts
and there on the pock-marked wasteground
called a playing field out front
he finds the mutt with one paw

raised in expectation
and an expression that says Thank God
for a minute there I thought
there was no one awake but me
in this goddamned town.

Where Should I Live Next...

When Texas gets tired of me, where should I move next? How about to one of the ten coolest small towns in the nation?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas Came Early This Year

I don't know why. It's definitely not in my character to break out the boxes and hang the tinsel early, but sometime in mid-November... November 18th in fact, I decorated my Christmas tree.

And then I felt something else out of character. I didn't want my decorations to be... well... ghetto. Not this year. I didn't want lights all strung around every which way, the whites and the greens and the blues and the multi-colored all intermixed and cattywampus. I wanted order and beauty.

I don't know if I'm finally done defying my parents (people rebel in different ways, I certainly can't explain it) or if I was just feeling nostalgic, but that night I knew I needed Christmas although I didn't yet know why. I found out a few hours later. And a few days later and well, who knows really why we need Christmas so badly in our lives. Perhaps because we live in a free country where religion can't unite us so we need a holiday to do it. A big long one cause we're a really divided nation.

I watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada tonight and was reminded of that.

"Thank you God for not making me be born in a poor, undereducated, racist, sexist, environment... or in Texas." I joke about the Texas part (mostly because i'm feeling obstinate cause I know I'll be berated tomorrow for not watching the Big 12 Game tonight), but not about the rest. This movie is wonderful. It speaks so bluntly of the depravity of society and so profoundly of the opportunity for redemption.

Too bad you have to be beaten and dragged through the desert with a dead man sleeping next to you to find it... but it's possible.

"You gonna be okay?" The "villian" calls out to the "protagonist" at the end of the movie.

You gonna be okay?

I think so, I just needed Christmas to come a little early this year.

Technically it gave a little wave back in September when we held auditions for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. And then it began peeking out from behind the pillars during October as we began rehearsing once a week. Now it's jumping up and down in front of me screaming and waving its arms in every direction: Christmas is here! I'm here! Look at me! Pay attention to me! Celebrate me!

Yep. I see you.

And the church needs to pay me more.

I told the director the other day that I've never identified more with a character that I'm not playing.

I sat down Wednesday on the edge of the stage composed of 14 heavy platforms that we carried down two flights of stairs last Sunday, that were painted on Thursday and then "textured" on Friday. I sat down, just like the character does in the play and put my head in my hands.

This isn't going to work.

Actors didn't know their parts, parents weren't participating. "I have spent thousands of dollars on something that might flop."

As if my lame social life and my the fragility of my family weren't disappointing enough, now I might be failing at my job too?

It was time for Christmas to show up.

And it did at today's rehearsal when the kids received their body mics and their faces and their entire attitudes changed as they realized this was it. The real deal. Miley Cyrus watch out. Here come the Baptists.

And it did when I watched Three Burials tonight: a gruesome story of sin and redemption, fierce friendship and forgiven enemies. And I think that's what Christmas is about.

Cause in Christmas you get the whole package. You get the barn and the baby, the poverty and the power, the edicts of death and the prayers for peace. And you know, for as popular as it is to hate the commercialization of Christmas, our culture got some things right about Christmas. Sometimes it's okay to give gifts, even really impractical ones like frankinsense or Chanel No 5. And it's okay to let a child's birth give us opportunity for rebirth in our lives. And it's okay to take the advice of a fat old white man (we've been doing it for years anyway) and choose to be nice over naughty for once. There's nothing wrong with watching snow and wondering if you too could wipe the slate clean. And sometimes, even when you feel like shit, you gotta dress your life up with some garland and white lights. There's nothing wrong with optimism and there's nothing wrong with love. And if you can't get it in a christ-child maybe you'll find it in a christmas tree or the ringing of some bells or in a green grinch or an overgrown elf.

So Christmas came early. November 18th. And I'm glad it did. Cause for all the smiles and parties and presents and spiked eggnog, there's still the hundred feet of lights that you hung up on your roof all by yourself that won't light up. And there's the tear and the sigh and the longing and the wondering sometimes if this is worth all the effort.

Thankfully Christmas answers yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

With a bow, or maybe even an angel on top.

Friday, December 04, 2009


In the past month, three of my friends' fathers have passed away. Two of them I knew and dare I say, even loved a little. This morning one of my best friends from seminary, Big Phil, lost his dad to cancer. This is a picture taken at his brother Darrell's 50th birthday celebration in October. I love this family and I'm really grateful I got to participate in the celebration and see WA (who flew in from Alaska for the festivities) one last time.

Rest in Peace Wa.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Yep, this is the play Trinity Street Players is doing this winter at FBC. Only instead of being in our Black Box Theater, it will be in the sanctuary. So there's no need for a reservation unless you've got a party of more than ten. If so, call it in and I'll rope you off a row.

The doors open half an hour before each performance with live music by Darrell Shepherd (Friday night), Cantamos directed by Louise Avant (Saturday night) and FBC's Youth Choir on Sunday. So come early, get your seats, find your friends and listen to some great music.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was written by Barbara Robinson and is directed at First Baptist by B. Iden Payne Austin Theater Award Winner, Amy Downing.

There's only three performances so mark your calendars. Opening night is one week from tonight! Hope to see you there... Shazaam!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Okay Peeps, Let's Re-cap

So before I quit my blog and then unquit it, you may have noticed I hadn't been blogging much. So here's what was going on...

I threw yet another fabulous Halloween Party if I do say so myself (and I always do!). The costumes were yet again amazing. I went as Corpse Bride.
Can you see the resemblance? Laurel went as a monarch butterfly.
But my favorite costume was Bethany who went as Mother Earth and painted her whole bare stomach like a globe (albeit a backwards globe since she used a mirror).
It was awesome and we all had a great time.

Then came Thanksgiving and for the first time in NINE years I spent T-day with my (real) family in St. Jo Mo. I wrote about that experience too of course, but it's in my journal and not on here so sorry about that. Here's some pictures instead.
Yes my family is neurotic about all holidays. Even really boring ones like... Thanksgiving. And here's my placemarker for the dinner table pictured above.
Yes, it has sparkles on it. Which even I can admit is a little bit fantastic.

I participated (or rather opted out of participating and stayed inside Lowe's where it was warm) in the annual getting of the tree the day before Thanksgiving.
And I got to spend time with my grandma and grandpa which was the real reason I went home.
Grandma taught me how to make a baby blanket which is proving helpful considering my potential new line of work:

Being a doulah.

In November, I helped deliver my second baby. Well, not my baby, but the second birth I've participated in. While the first one back in June was short, sweet and to the point, (Laurel knows how to get things done), the second birth proved more of a chore. And so instead of snapping a few quick pics of parents and newborn, I actually got to help in the laboring process: holding hands, rubbing backs, holding up mom's upper body while she floated in the bathtub, you get the point. And it took forever. Lila (pronounced Lie-lah) was not interested in seeing what this new world has in store and took her sweet little time getting here. But what a sweetie she proved to be! But not cute enough to ever make me want to go through what her mommie went through. Dear God.

So that's baby number three in case you're counting. First Pete and Joy gave us Zoe. Then Chris and Michelle brought us Laurel and then Lila begrudgingly made her way into the world to Angela and Patrick's relief. And finally, Bethany and Gabe texted me the day before Thanksgiving that their little bundle of joy had arrived. So welcome to the world Tessla Meredith! I saw her when I returned from Missouri and loved all her dark hair!!
She looks like a little latino baby with her black hair and jaundiced skin. Too cute! But 5 and 6, we're still waiting on you guys. My last two besties of the year, Lynnette (and Sam) and Amy (and Grant) are due in January and February respectively. So I'll keep you posted on that.

If you think that might be too many best friends having too many babies for one single person to handle, you may be right, but I love them all anyway... :)

Visiting baby Tessla was the last relaxing and peaceful thing I did this week. After that came Advent, a time of waiting and contemplation of peace and meditation about the coming Christ for some... for me? Pure chaos. I've already worked 40 hours this week and I still have two work days left. I don't have a day off until December 19th. "Remind me next year to quit my job before Christmas starts," I told someone tonight as I arrived breathless to sing with my women's choir at a nursing home before running back to church to do an advent worship service. I had to hire someone to help me in my office today (yep, I won her help with cold hard cash) and the two of us put in 17 hours worth of work total. Seriously? Seriously. And thank god for Charlotte
(who went as Annie Potts from Ghostbusters for Halloween!) who gave her time to paint my stage for the play we're doing. GOD BLESS VOLUNTEERS. Char, you're the best. Thanks.

So there you have it. Holiday, Baby, Holiday, Baby, Grandparents, more babies and work work work. That's pretty much what you've missed out on.

I mean, I gave up boys... so how much drama could be left?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I lied.

Or maybe it's April Fool's Day.

Or maybe after talking to my therapist, I changed my mind. Who knows. But I'm back. That vay-cay was short lived and I'll post a little more in a little while perhaps with more details, but if not, know that I'm back. And I've been composing blogs in my head since I left you, so you're really in for it! Get ready!

And forgive me for leaving you. At least I didn't leave you for someone else! (Wordpress will never have me!)