November 30, 2008

Damn Those Reindeer

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was ordinary--which is always nice. It was filled with the usual, you know: family, food, fun. We ate too much, played some games, and didn't deal with any in-law drama.

So now comes the Christmas season. It's a lot of work for such a small amount of time, but I have always enjoyed it. I love to decorate normally so having a good reason for it makes it fun. But I am a lot slower at getting things situated this year. I don't know why I'm not done yet, but I've narrowed it down to a couple of theories:

1. I have a lot more stuff than I used to have. When you get excited that 18-gallon totes are on sale at Home Depot, you're collecting too much holiday stuff. There was a point in my life when I didn't even own one of those totes. Now I'm exclaiming, "Dan, totes are 2 for $8!" across several aisles.

2. I have a two-year-old who insists on undoing any progress I have made. After flinging several non-breakable wreaths down from the attic while advising Kate to move out of the way of the flying evergreen, I lugged the aforementioned green and red totes down the rickety steps of the attic. (I have learned that wreaths roll well and could easily knock down an unsuspecting person that weighs, let's say, around 28 pounds, but I digress.) Opening the red lid, I recognized the little table-top Christmas tree my mom bought me last year at the end of the season and set it on the table. I then arranged its tree skirt, hung every tiny glass ball on pre-selected boughs, and strung tiny garland around it. Gently placing the gold star on top, I smiled at my achievement and turned to see what else I could find in my magical Christmas box. Seconds later, I turned to find the little tree on the floor, garland strung around my little girl's arms, star on top of her head. So much for my quest for holiday perfection.

3. Owning a home (rather than renting) shifts interior design attention to the exterior. Also, stupid neighbors think their plastic reindeer make good decorations. I think I hate plastic reindeer because of Joni Mitchell's song, River, which has the line: "They're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace; but I wish I had a river I could skate away on." When we dealt with the birth defect and eventual loss of our first baby a few days before Christmas in 2002, I sang that song every day. I still cry sometimes when I hear it, but it now serves me to remind me of what a great Christmas this year will be for us.) Anyway, I deserted my indoor decorating yesterday and headed outside with my retro ceramic lights and started to clip them to the gutter. I was done rather quickly. The rest of the decorating went rather smoothly, too, until I decided I needed "a little more light" on the far side of the house. Three stores and four hours later, I still couldn't find the kind of lights I wanted. It was now late, very cold, and I was aggravated. Defeated, I reluctantly turned off the lights, glancing over to the neighbor's plastic reindeer. They were shining brightly, taunting me.

Damn those reindeer.

November 25, 2008

Through New Eyes

The header above took a while to get online. I guess I'm rusty with various programs and if you take any kind of break from the Internet, you return to a bunch of new things designed to make it easier. Yet it never seems easier. I kind of liked the "ease" of my website in 1996, where I self-taught myself HTML and had to do everything myself. Now I just tell the magical computer what I want done and it does it. (That doesn't let it be very unique, does it?) Although I still can't tweak this page enough for my tastes and I don't have the time to figure out how that would be possible. And someone else probably wouldn't notice anyway.

Did you notice the words on the header in back of the title are actual previous musings? I sure have been all over the board with my thoughts! It's amazing how different we seem if you go back a few years and read your thoughts. For years I kept a paper journal but it always seemed that by the time I got to the end, the entries I made from the beginning of the book were a different person. That introspective look helped me realize that we can't be sure of how we'll feel about anything in the future. We shouldn't say "never" because we don't know. And hopefully we'll grow and change. That bothers a lot of people, but change is what helps us extract all we can from life and enjoy it. There's so much to enjoy but we get caught up in the daily things and don't even see it.

When I take my two-year-old daughter anywhere, I try to picture seeing things the way she does: with newness and wonder. As adults we assume that everything is static and is the same, but there's a lot to see if we just look at it differently. She points to something with eyes wide open and a huge smile on her face and I realize that the shiny ribbon I passed so many times really is beautiful. Seeing things through new eyes is a great gift.

So just like the times at work that we hate, hate, HATED the newest edition of Quark only to eventually love it too much to update to the even newer edition, I will get to know Word 2007 and Windows Vista and the new blogger template thingy. And I'll probably be blogging about the newest thing next year that doesn't cut it. Unless I start looking through new eyes...

November 24, 2008

Crazy Napkin Note #1

Okay, so the changes I've made don't exactly justify the two-month hiatus that I have taken from blogging, but I wanted something new to mark my return. I come at you now with a new perspective, a new laptop, and a new look. I deleted my old blog template by accident so the change is a forced one, but a change nonetheless.

I have a lot to catch up on! I have all these little notes around my house that I jotted when I would get an idea about something I wanted to write about. (Not having a computer can be taxing, let me tell you.) I figured that if I had died under mysterious circumstances and the police came searching for clues, they would think that I was crazy because of my notes. They're very cryptic and I scrawled some of them on napkins and whatever I could get my hands on so they probably wouldn't make sense to anyone who found them. Here's the first one I'll get to since you've been waiting so patiently:

Dan P

When I was in high school, I sat next to a guy named Eddie in homeroom. He was funny, charming, and quarterback of the football team. We would chat every morning and he would smile as soon as he saw me. We became friends and I didn't think much about it until one morning he asked me out. I didn't know what to say, but it wasn't because I didn't like him. I am embarrassed to say that it was because he was black. I declined because I knew it would be too difficult to be in a mixed relationship because of others' expectations.

One of my good friends named Dan was black, too. We were on a road trip when we ran into car trouble and had to stop to make a phone call. (Sadly, I remember times before rampant use of cell phones!) We walked into an old diner in a small Pennsylvania town and it was like a scene from a movie. Everyone stopped eating and speaking and just turned and stared at us. It took me a few seconds to figure out that a white girl and a black guy just wasn't usual there. It was uncomfortable and awkward and that experience happened just weeks before Eddie asked me out.

Later, when reconnecting with old friends for my ten-year high school reunion, I looked up Eddie only to find out that he had been killed in a car accident a few years previously. The years that had past from my teenage decision had made me regret my decision. I shouldn't have cared what others would think. I shouldn't have cared that it might cause problems. But I also realized at the time that although I didn't see Eddie differently, others would see us as black and white. Different. If I really saw us going somewhere--which I could--then what would our kids go through? Seeing kids of mixed race being called horrible names and teased made me think I shouldn't fall in love with someone if it would be difficult from the beginning. I probably would have had the same issues with a guy of different faith, too, but I never had to make that decision. (I wasn't asked out much!)

As a general aside: as an adult coping with infertility, I know I would welcome an adopted African-American child into my home as my son or daughter. Years have taught me that my own happiness and convictions override everyone's beliefs of how you're supposed to live your life.

So I cried tears of joy when Barack Obama gave his first speech as President-Elect. I cried thinking I'd never see an African-American become president because of the racism of this country. I mistakenly thought that there would be too many people that wouldn't trust or want a black president. I was proud casting my vote for him, but I wonder if my high-school mentality was the reason so many didn't vote for Obama. It isn't the norm. That's not what a president is supposed to look like. Others won't like it. Thankfully, enough people went against the "norm" and voted with their hearts and brains. I cried because I was so happy that we as a nation seemed in sync and that the world that people like Rosa Parks, Martin L. King Jr., and others lived in just 40 years ago no longer existed.

If only I had been brave enough then...

November 22, 2008

Don't Get TOO Excited

I'm back!

Well, not yet.

New stuff coming soon...