Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve and Other Stuff

So here’s the thing. Back in October (I think??) my bookclub read The Monk, which was so ridiculous that I had to love it. Anyhoodle, one of my bookclubbers read to us from a review of The Monk he had found online and it was so funny that we made him email all of us the link so we could go read the whole thing. Except it was so great that I started reading all of the reviews, and totally using the reviews to pad my (already quite long) to-read list over at Goodreads. Today I had nothing much to do, so I totally worked on that all day. And my to-read list went from 28 to 39 when I added all next year’s bookclub picks to 98 when I started reading Books I Done Read and I’m only on the letter M as I write this. People, I am never, ever going to finish my to-read list. Especially when you find out that I have two other to-read lists which have none of the same books (one on my phone and one on a notebook I keep in my purse).
Also, I was going to tell you about Chicago.
I love Chicago. Also, I love holiday traditions because I don’t really have any. My best friend, however, does. One of hers is a trip to Chicago every December to look at the windows in Macy’s (except it used to be Marshall Field’s and was apparently much better back in the day, but this story is not about the un-Chicago-ing of a Chicago landmark, so moving on…). Except this year her family didn’t go and she didn’t think she was sad about it (due to the apparent sucki-ness of Macy’s compared to Field’s) until I told her that if she wanted to go on Christmas Eve I would go with her. So, Friday off we went to Chicago, and it was awesome. There was cheesecake made out of Frango Mints (which are pretty much the best way to eat chocolate-they are magic candy). There were very few crowds and there were very many “Oh crap, Christmas is tomorrow and we still have whole tons of Christmas stuff!” sales. I bought two gorgeous Christmas ornaments (a wine bottle because of my wine touring this summer and a new topper) for less than either one of them cost full price. The only thing that would have made it better was if her brothers (who were invited) had decided to come, I know she regretted that they weren’t there and she wishes she spent more time with them. Also, they are both very polite young men who don’t make me want to slap them in the face every five seconds like my brother. I took some pics, but there are mostly of glittery things for me to admire, or of sparkly Christmas lights, which I already showed you like forty-seven pictures of, so I won’t include them in this post.
Anyway, that’s all I wanted to tell you about Christmas Eve. Hope your holiday was a wonderfully sweet and comfortable as mine was.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas, Again

I LOVE Christmas Eve church. I always go to the 11:00 service at the church I work at with Kristin and her family. I always sit with her brothers (because she is assisting minister-like every year). And I always feel like the whole service is just one big Christmas hug (if that makes any sense). BUT, when I was a kid the church I went to said that the Bible never said to celebrate Jesus' birthday and so they didn't do anything special AND the church I went to in high school did their special service the Sunday before Christmas and nothing on Christmas Eve. So for me the Christmas Eve service is a choice I've made as an adult and I think that's part of why it means so much to me.
It's kind of weird for me actually. Most days I don't really think about God at all, and even when I do (because I work in a church- it comes up!) it's kind of a here and gone thought. But on Christmas (and Easter, yup I'm one of those people- Chreasters Kristin calls them, who only go to church on Christmas and Easter) I sit in the pew and I can't help but think/pray things like this...
"I know you and I (meaning God and I) don't really spend a lot of time together, and I clearly struggle with the whole God thing, sacrifice and not doing what I want [i.e. list a few sins that I engage in fairly regularly] aren't realy my thing. All the same I am really glad there's this special time. That You are into sacrifice and gave up Heaven to come here to live adn die for people, because hello, you're God, you could totally have just hung out up there pointing and laughing at us and our pointless lives instead."
See, it's weird. Like I see the real meaning, but I can't really take it to heart and I end up standing outside of it all staring in, kind of wishing I could accept it and belong, but not quite being able to do so. Sort of like how I feel with Kristin's family, like I'm ALMOST one of them, but...not really.
And now that I've told way more about my complicated issues than you ever wanted/needed to know, I'll wish you a Happy Christmas and go on with my holiday! Tomorrow, maybe I'll tell you about my trip to Chicago yesterday!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I had meant to participate in one of those “25 Days of Christmas” things with post questions for each day from December 1 until Christmas. But instead…I didn’t. No, instead I just spent a lot of time enjoying Christmas with my friends. I told you I went to the Holiday Magic light display at the zoo I’m a member of, and it was awesome. It was below freezing both days, and yet I had a total blast. I didn’t take the kids either day, instead I went with Kristin on Saturday and Sarah on Sunday. Saturday Kristin drove. She was quite pleased with herself because she got to play with a penguin. She put her finger on the glass and started moving it near a penguin, who followed her finger. After a few minutes he decided he wanted to lead and swam away a little bit, but Kristin thought he was done playing. Then he came back and gave her just the most exasperated look ever and swam away again until she started trailing him with her finger. It was very cute, and very funny. That was three weekends ago (!) I totally meant to tell you about it sooner, and also show you these pics.

Last weekend my best friend and I got together with our friends who are getting married and exchanged presents, then we went looking at Christmas lights. I haven’t just driven around looking at lights in forever (like since it was my gas that was being spent, or that of my equally poor friends?), but there’s a neighborhood not far from where we were that I had heard about online and from Sarah (Juniper Lane, South Elgin if you want to go). It was amazing!

Tomorrow I’m going to Chicago to check out the Macy’s windows (Kristin has always gone with her family but they didn’t go this year, I have never gone but always wanted to, so it works out well for both of us). Saturday I’ll spend the day with Kristin’s family and Monday is my family’s Christmas. It will be a pretty busy weekend, but I’m going to love every second of it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

To Do Lists

See I always have big, grand plans for December. I think I’ll attend several Christmas parties, spend time relaxing and thinking about the season, perhaps do Advent for myself (not just my class), make Christmas cookies, and watch classic Christmas movies (you know the ones I’m talking about right? The old claymation movies, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th St., It’s a Wonderful Life, etc). Instead my to-do list ends up looking like this…

  1. Finish making Christmas present for friend (who reads this blog, so I can’t tell)
  2. Paint scenery for school program
  3. Make school program music (which means actually mixing music, not just making a quick cd- it took over four hours!)
  4. Work on present for parents (31 handprints per kid later, we’re making super cute handprint calendars)
  5. Finish making Christmas cards (quick, spend 28 hours on those so that the FIVE mom wants to sign can sit on the table for over a week waiting to be signed so I can mail them BEFORE Christmas)
  6. Buy that one last present that I never get on time, even though it’s the biggest one and I HAVE to get it because it’s from four other people who are all counting on me.
  7. Babysit niece and nephew at least three times more than I planned and on nights that I don’t really have the time for them
  8. Go see the NEW movie that I’m dying to see, but that has nothing to do with my picturesque Christmas movie plan
  9. Help figure out how to make sure the babies (who are supposed to be Jesus) don’t look “like terrorists”
  10. Ambitiously agree to help figure out NEXT year’s Christmas program two days after this years
  11. Figure out how to make a crib look like a manger, and after thinking about it for days, get told that we can just wrap some paper around the one part they don't like- it totally doesn't need to look like a maner!
  12. Stare sullenly at the giant pile of Christmas movies every time I come in or out of the house wishing I could just sit for two hours and watch one of them
  13. Spend an entire weekend at holiday magic with two different friends (wait, I actually really enjoyed that one-I’ll post pictures AFTER the Christmas program tomorrow-I mean today)

And that, dear friends, is why I haven’t posted in over a week because that, that is just this week’s to-do list. :(
Also- did you know that my last post was my 100th? If I’d known, I might have written a special post just for that, but I just realized today when I was posting number 101, so.. I didn’t.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

**Update from Below**

Wow! I got my first annonymous comment today, and people are mean! I deleted it, because such things don't need to jumble up MY space. But I will clarify what I meant when I wrote before...
I'm not a lesbian. I don't HATE male companionship, in fact I do enjoy men. Men think so differently than I do that's it's always interesting to be around them. I enjoy the perspective they can offer. I've always had fun hanging around with my male friends or my friends boyfriends/husbands. I even seek it out sometimes when that slightly different perspective can help me solve a problem. However, I don't crave it as the be all, end all of my existence. I date. Sometimes. I've been in fairly long relationships (you know afew months or whatever). I just don't spend all my time seeking one out. If I was attracted to a man that it was practical to pursue, I probably would. But most of the men I know are dating or married to my friends, or they are the brothers of my friends, or they're in relationships of their own. Therefore, it would be STUPID to let any interest on my part show.
Also-no crush boy (thanks for the term Sarah!) is not currently dating/married to one of my friends. I would NEVER even look twice at a man in a relationship. Not in that way.
Finally- Sarah, you don't know crush boy, but I'll tell you all about him tomorrow at the zoo.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Maybe you see yourself as an adventurer or a political genius, a math whiz or a sweet homemaker, maybe you see yourself as an academic or a jock. There are thousands of ways to see yourself, each unique to the person doing the looking. I want to see myself as independent and practical. One of the parents at my work recently bought his wife a Mazda 2. If you recall that is the car I really wanted when I bought my Focus. Ever since, one of my coworkers has been making quite the big deal about how jealous she is of the wife. We’ve been talking about it and I just realized my coworker is jealous because the husband bought his wife a car. I however, am jealous because I want her car. I don’t want someone to buy me a car; I want to buy myself a car.
The whole situation has made me think about how I perceive myself, how others perceive me, how I want to be perceived all in comparison to who I really am. In reality, I’m not as independent as I’d like. I live with my mom because I can’t afford to move out. Of course there are always options. I could get a second job, cut corners, stop going out, etc. But I’m essentially lazy. I like to be able to play with my friends, and have time for myself to watch TV or read books. So despite being independent in the little things, that clearly isn’t always the case, and especially not in the big things. As for practicality, I know other perceive me to be a bit of an airhead and again I sacrifice necessity for desire.
I want to be an Elinor (from Sense and Sensibilty) not a Marianne. Not coldly emotionless, but neither exposing my every passing thought or emotion. Not chillingly removed from those around me but neither revealed in front of everyone. Yet I conceal little. I have to acknowledge that those closest to me have little doubt as to my personal thoughts, from little things like what they’re getting for Christmas to the big things like my latest (and longest lasting) crush. I just can’t contain my exuberance, from my excitement at having bought the perfect present to my joy at spending time with crush boy.
That’s another place reality and perception doesn’t really meet. I am generally contented to remain single. The only time I really wish there was a special man in my life is late at night when I wish I was cuddled up to something other than my pillow. I don’t long for male companionship, although my friends know I do tend to notice every attractive man in a five mile radius. That’s just because I like to look, and I’ve liked to look since long before I would have known what to do with one if I had him anyway. I don’t enjoy the chaos of early relationships. I prefer to be around people I know and can be comfortable with. I enjoy being around people I can comfortably be quiet with or talk about anything rather than having to search for safe topics to discuss with people I don’t know. Despite all that I know very few people perceive me as being happy with the status quo in this area. People generally think because I have a dirty mind and like to look at men, that I want one of my very own.

The Ghost Map

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern WorldThe Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My dad and I read this book together, and it was amazing. While a bit gross (do you know how cholera spreads? because now I do) it was one of the most interesting history books I've ever (and since my BA is in history, that is saying alot) and it was great to discuss.


I just reread this for bookclub, and I enjoyed it way more this time than last. Although I could do without the author’s lengthy epilogue on the hazards of nuclear weapons, the information found within the main body of the book is fascinating. Johnson manages to spin out the suspense of a hundred and fifty year old epidemic by turning the bacteria and the city both into characters (and by pointlessly endangering the life of one of the human characters- but I guess since it’s nonfiction, you can’t really blame him for that). My only real complaint is the total lack of the “ghost map” in a book entitled The Ghost Map. He goes to some lengths to explain why the map made by the doctor was groundbreaking in its time and instrumental in convincing people of his argument, yet doesn’t choose to include a copy of the map in the book or on his website, which I found to be somewhat less than useful. Also, I knocked a star off what was once a five star review because of it.

View all my reviews