Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blog roulette

I was busy watching paint dry, so I asked several friends to text me some blogging topics. Here they are below, in the order in which they were received! Thanks, Friends! Hope you enjoy the answers!

1. What do you like most and least about the Christmas season?

Most: Hmmmmmmmmmmm. I'm not sure I can pick one. So I'm going to make a list of several things I love!

1. (Good!) Christmas music -- Sarah McLachlan, Hanson, N*SYNC, Nutcracker. Julie. Andrews.
2. Christmas movies -- THE SANTA CLAUSE, The Family Stone, Muppet Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street
3. The smell of a Christmas tree
4. Stockings
5. The fact that, after several Christmases spent in depression and anxiety, I can now genuinely enjoy the holiday
6. People's reactions to a gift I gave them that they love
7. My office's annual holiday party
8. Making Christmas decorations with Abby
9. Being surprised by gifts from people whom I didn't expect to receive from
10. Something that is giving me more meditative pause as I experience more Christmases, is the poetic choice of God to come to earth as a gentle babe.

Least:

1. Bad Christmas music
2. The stress about spending so much money
3. Tension surrounding planning travel with my family

2. If you were an animal, which would you be and why?

I interpret this question two ways, so I will answer it both ways:

1, is which animal would I be based on my personality?

I think I would be a combo of a cat and a dog. Cat, because I love to be all snuggly and warm and express my happiness (e.g. purring); and, I am independent and like to select when I have my people time. Dog, because I love people, and I'm pretty happy.

2, the other way I interpret this question, is if I had a choice, which one would I choose to be?

And I have no idea how to answer this question...

Giraffe? Because I could see over the tops of trees, and that would be awesome.
Cat, because no one would ask me to go to work, and I could just snuggle up in the blankies for as long as I want.
Dog, because I'd get sooooo much attention from people.
And fish, because I love to be under water.

3. Best gift you ever gave! (Tangible? Intangible? Up to you!)

Answering superlatives sometimes stresses me out, so I will just think of some gifts I gave that took some extra time or thought, or that were especially well received.

Funny thing is, everything that is coming to mind are things I gave to my mom:

In high school, I used my time in sewing class to work on a T-shirt quilt for Mom. I took all the Kansas Jayhawk shirts from our home (which was a risky move...), each different, some autographed, several handed down, and cut them into squares, ironed, stitched, cut, ironed, stitched. The quilt front is finished, but the full quilt remains to this day unfinished. Maybe someday I'll finalize it as another gift.

Last year I gave her a necklace that I bought in Mexico. Inside the outline of the cross is a silhouette of Jesus' face. She loved it, said it was her new favorite cross necklace.

And, another year, I gave her a statue of a silhouetted family of six from Africa. Our nuclear family adds up to six, so she loved it.

4. Best you ever received!

I have been overly spoiled over the years, I will admit.

Some highlights:

In 2002, after being misdiagnosed with a horrible disease by one doctor, another doctor (an expert in the disease who assured us it only occurs in Turkish women) gave me a clean bill of health during my Dec. 24 office visit. THAT was a gift, indeed.

The year that my brother Patrick received a CD player for Christmas, he was privy to the knowledge. Whether he had a private chat with Santa Claus or was just uber confident that Mom and Dad were getting him one, he spent Christmas Eve preparing his tape player for me. Late into the night, he dubbed me several tapes -- some of his favorite albums, and some original mixes. My parents still have my cassette tapes at their home, but I won't let them get rid of them until I can give a proper goodbye, because -- especially those ones from Pat -- they're very special to me.

My parents know that I love to cross stitch, and my late aunt used to love to stitch as well. One year they gave me a sampler she had done, filled with colorful Bible verses. It's now hanging in our apartment, looking over the living room. Abby once told me that she likes that the words "With God all things are possible" are in the biggest font of them all.

5. How about the lack of Christmas lights in LA?

This thoughtful question was submitted by my boy toy, who just sent me beautiful flowers AND a teddy bear AND chocolates for our anniversary. Sweetie pie!

Anyway, he thought I was getting sassy with him this weekend -- whereas I was simply observing! -- when he mentioned that not a lot of Angelenos had decorated their homes for Christmas this year. I told him that he said that last year.

I was just being sentimental, because I remembered he said that on our second date. Anyway.

I've only been here for three years, so I don't know that I can empirically comment with any authority just yet on the number of Christmas lights this year versus another given year.

However, I will say that while I grew up associating outdoor Christmas lights with, yes, the Christmas season, but also with winter weather, I don't mind that people here in California hang lights during our relative "winter" season. I love the color against the dark backdrop of night sky.

What I do think is weird, though, is when people in LA decorate with snow-related items. Snowmen. Signs that say "Let it snow." Shirts with snowflakes on them.

What???

Guys, it's not gonna snow. And you know it. So. Um. Stop?

6. Or the fact that Del Taco shouldn't be able to offer 39 cent tacos? I mean, what sort of weird food products are in those things?!

Another fine question submitted by my honey sweet. I'm not sure how to answer this, except that I would eat a 39 cent taco. And have. My dad introduced our family to Del Taco, after discovering the joint during his first year of seminary studies. I had to break the news to him when, years later, I visited St. Louis and found that original location of his to be closed.

Also, I think that maybe it's a good thing they're so cheap, because homeless people can afford them.

7. Ummmmmmmm New Years resolutions

See here for more details on this subject, but a little review of (some of) my resolutions are as follows:

No fast food for the year (delivery pizza is allowed).
Exercise three times a week.
Complete a draft of my book.
Work on a broken relationship of mine.
Finish several cross stitch projects.

8. Oooooor family at Christmas

I recently met someone at a party who said that his family, each year, buys a Christmas tree and then, a la Elf, takes turns running and jumping at it. I think that's awesomely hilarious.

My family doesn't do that, but I do tend to get a phone call from Patrick each year on Dec. 24. He likes to receipt a piece of "art" my mom has displayed in her house, that I wrote up on tablet paper when I was six. It says:

"One day jesus [sic] made a holiday, and he named it Christmas Eve."

That was the first thing that came to me on this subject.

We also send about a thousand emails back and forth trying to coordinate travel that will land us in the same city for 24 hours. This seldom works out, and always makes me tear my hair out.

9. Ooooooor Ralph the tree

Abs and I got a tree! We named him Ralph, and decorated him with many pink and purple ball ornaments. He is in touch with his feminine side, and we love him. I especially like him when most of the lights are off, except his twinkly (girly) ones.

10. Learning how to poo in the right place

This suggestion for a blog topic came from someone I know training a puppy. In case you're wondering about the wackiness of it.

Ummm, all I have to say about this is that, growing up, my family had a copy of the book "Once Upon a Potty" but not of "Everybody Poops." Am I missing out?

11. Sick and vacation time in the US versus other countries, which get so much more, and have higher levels of productivity overall.

Word. I remember reading a book in college -- and we'll see if the title comes to me as I type this -- that suggested four hour work days, and I may or may not have written an impassioned essay about my support for this idea.

I am one who needs a lot of breaks. I know that I work better if I can get up, pee, get some water, have a five minute chat, several times a day. And we should absolutely have more vacation time in the U.S.

12. Fave Christmas memory!

One of my fave memories was with Patrick, two years ago.

I couldn't sleep, and after going to the bathroom, I was deciding whether or not to try and sleep again when Patrick asked me, "When does Friday Night Lights start?"

I had requested that we watch it as a family, but didn't think I'd get any bites. So he made us some old fashioned cocktails, and as we pressed play on Season 1, Episode 1, we clinked our glasses, said "Merry Christmas," then looked at the clock and realized it was midnight, then turned back to each other and said, "Hey!" in excitement.

After watching the show, we carried a play kitchen upstairs. Pat had refurbished it for his kids as a surprise and had been hiding it in the basement. With much giggling, we got it into the living room, wrapped it, and then covered it with a ton of bows. Precious memory for me.

13. Fave Christmas movie as a kid and how you feel when you watch it as an adult!

The Santa Clause. Then, I thought it was so creative and funny. Today, still do.

"All Neil told him was that Santa was more of a feeling. More of a state of mind than an actual person."
"Kind of like Neil."

Gets me every time.

14. Fave charitable act to do around the holidays!

Oooooh...I'm not so good at this. I think I've done the soup kitchen thing once, and I don't know that it was around the holidays, and it was a very long time ago.

I need to be better at being less selfish. Like, a lot better.

I've been more generous this year, with gifts. But I don't give a lot of my time to people, especially the marginalized.

Also, I need to give blood. Thanks for the reminder, kind friend who texted me!

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