Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back in Session

I did not intentionally plan it to coincide with the New Year or any resolutions, but within the past few weeks I have signed up for two classes to take which both begin in January.

Just sharpening the old noggin.

Please ignore me.

My personal training sessions run through January (which has been a great experience- lost a few pounds, got a lot stronger, got back in the gym period) but since I plan to take my physical fitness into my own hands after that, I need other interests to pursue.

The first class I signed up for is a series on The Bible: A-Z (that's what I keep calling it, it's really Genesis to Revelation I think), which will be taught at my church in Dallas and covers the story of the Bible. My Community Group and I will be taking this class together as a way to start 2010 together, learning about the Lord and continuing with purpose that which we started in 2008.

Purely for my own amusement, I have also signed up to take a continuing education course to learn calligraphy at Southern Methodist University (or SMU) here in Dallas. I like my handwriting- I'm a swirly cursive kind of girl, but I would like to learn different styles, adding a certain panache to my thank-you notes and invitations. I think it's such an interesting talent.

I like that I will be learning alongside people who want to be in the classes. I graduated college two and a half years ago, so learning is no longer obligatory but elective. I get to sit among people who desire more, beyond what they know.

I turn 25 next year (and by next year, I mean two weeks from now). One of my friends said she was ready to "wreak havoc" on 25, and I'm on board with the idea.

There is no time like the present to pursue things, people and places that interest or intrigue you. And while you're at it, buy some sparkly nail polish for New Year's Eve. I know I did!

Why the heck not?

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
Albert Einstein

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry {Day After} Christmas

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders...

In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders. Or one may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colourless in the dark, he lost his colour too.
{C.S. Lewis- Miracles}

...And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
{Isaiah 9:6}

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

They Know Me Too Well

Last Friday night KS, MG and I celebrated roommate Christmas together. We had on Christmas music, we sat by the tree in our front room (complete with the PB couch, which arrived) and opened each other's gifts.

It was cute.

Anyway, sometimes I falsely assume that I notice things about other people, but they don't notice things about me. Like I have some personality shield that makes me impervious to observation. This is wrong, as evidenced by the gifts I received from both of them.

Apparently they've been watching me.

KS gave me a 2010 Kate Spade planner as well as some accessories from Anthropologie. I love both of those places and could outfit my entire life from either one, if possible. KS has a good read on style, both mine and her own, and her gift was a combination of both. Her gifts bring out my more girly side. Both of my sides are actually girly but KS appeals to the ruffles-and-bows- and-headbands-oh-my side. She also gave MG and I cute luggage tags with our first initials on them and Kiehl's hand cream. Every product KS uses smells good, feels good and makes you look good, so her beauty recommendations are heeded.

MG gave me a booklet of sticky notes for the kitchen and cookbooks, which combines so many things I love about cooking and note-making. Since adhering to the instructions and ingredients of any one recipe is apparently against my moral judgement, I will use them often. She also gave me a blue Martha Stewart ribbon box. Who could give a gift like that save for someone who knows how much you love the Martha Stewart aisle at Michael's, would recognize the fact that it is the perfect shade of robin's egg blue for your room and would have knowledge of the seemingly ridiculous quantity of ribbon you keep around?

It's been a great seven months with these two. They're the kind to which you can say "hm hm hmm hm-hm-hm" with a toothbrush in your mouth, and they'll respond back to you "yeah, let's do brunch tomorrow at 10" like it's totally normal.

Because it is.

Sweet hymns of joy in
Grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us
Praise His holy name!
-O Holy Night, words by Placide Cappeau

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And To All a Good Night

Remember how it was just Thanksgiving?

Yeah, me too.

I recall many years spent in eager expectation of Christmas, thinking about this time that it would never get here, whereas now I wonder how on earth it is December 20th today.

There was one year (emphasis on ONE) that my brother, cousins and I (pictured) and our cousin BG, our ring-leader (not pictured) were all under the same roof for Christmas Eve. We were all in the same room, actually, which was mistake numero uno. There was a lot of giggling, shushing and no sleeping whatsoever. We all received assignments like Flashlight Holder from BG and even after strict instructions from our parents, we still snuck downstairs at some ridiculous hour to see our presents in the living room.

This year BG is about to be a dad (in January!), my brother and I will roll downstairs at the leisurely hour of half-past whenever we wake up, but my cousins KH and BH maintain their principles of waking up in the early morning to open gifts. They are now 22 and 24-years-old, respectively. I don't know why exactly they do this, but I do recall them being beside-themselves one year when their parents sneakily turned off their alarms, causing them to sleep in heavenly peace for hours past their usual wake-up call. My poor aunt and uncle found out that spite is a beast that will unfailingly wake you up at 6am on Christmas morning.

And yes, my cousin IS wearing flip-flops in that November photo, in case anyone needed confirmation.

Lucy Van Pelt: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.
Charlie Brown: What is it you want?
Lucy Van Pelt: Real estate.
-A Charlie Brown Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moths & Cashmere

I don't have any sisters, so sharing clothes was never something I did growing up. I didn't really have to share anything because as soon as I was old enough to establish dominance with the bathroom counter-space for all of my pre-teen accessories and hair products, my brother moved into the third upstairs bedroom. We would steal t-shirts from one another during college, when he took hostage my Aunt Carrie's shirt for a few years (it's from a restaurant in Rhode Island, it's soft, t-shirty perfection) but I won the war on that one.

A few months ago I wore a cardigan that belongs to KS a few times and then took it to the dry-cleaner. I don't take things to the cleaner's very often and it's always a massive heap when I do, so when I started examining everything as I was paying, I saw the condition of the sweater and thought it was ruined. I panicked, thinking that the sweater must be the most important and pivotal piece of her wardrobe, and I would need to take her to J.Crew and pick out something she would love, just not as much as the yellow cardigan I had destroyed. Upon further examination, it looked like they had washed it and had knotted it and let it dry and it was just terribly wrinkled.

I don't know how everyone else's dry-cleaner operates, but wrinkled is not typically the look I'm going for. Glad we are on the same page.

Ultimately they fixed the sweater (after three attempts) and ironed it to within an inch of its' life so as to get out the wrinkles and I was able to return it to KS with profuse apologies of tardiness and she was nice as could be. That's just how she is.

Fast-forward a few months to yesterday as I returned home from work and found a cardigan of mine that KS had borrowed was hanging in the laundry room. KS and MG had been cooking for MG's family who were coming over, and KS said "I have something to tell you about your sweater..."

I saw the look of fear and worry in her eyes, the very look I had when I thought I had ruined her sweater. Before she could continue, I said "The little holes in the sleeve? I did that while moving a mirror." She looked confused and said that she thought they happened when she had been holding her dog Sadie, how she had been wriggling and thought that she snagged the two little holes and how she had fretted over telling me for months. I told her for first thing that the sweater had been gone for a while and obviously I was okay without it, secondly that it was not her fault in the first place and thirdly that it would have been okay had that happened anyway.

I realized it was completely true- it would be one thing if things just disappeared all the time but were never returned, but that doesn't happen at our house. It makes life so easy. In both cardigan situations, we both spent a good deal of time worrying about something that would have been okay either way. I have become more of an advocate of borrowing from each other out of convenience and in that it is non-budget-threatening way to wear something new. We have nice things and take care of them, but accidents happen.

Moths also happen, apparently.

Evidently a moth found my favorite blue cashmere wrap in my closet recently and decided to have a snack, leaving two finger-poke sized holes behind. I will not be so forgiving, should I find him fluttering around my closet again.

The culprit is still at-large.

I've got to get home - Oh, baby, you'll freeze out there
Say, lend me your coat - It's up to your knees out there...
-Baby It's Cold Outside, lyrics by Frank Loesser

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wallflower Tendencies

On the precipice of a busy weekend filled with parties and holiday cheer, I find myself preparing to face an inevitable evil:

Talking to people I don't know.

Oh, the horror!

I dread small talk. Or rather, I'm not good at it.

It's not as though I dislike people on the basis of not knowing them- I just get stressed and clammed up when a meeting occurs. When it comes to small talk I am an epic fail. If I don't know someone, beyond a few intro questions I run out of things to say. For someone who had a lot of random blind dates for date parties in college, you think I would have made some improvement in this area, but you would be wrong. First impressions are rarely smooth-sailing for me; they are more like a perfect storm of uncomfortableness and forced questions.

There are things I consider myself good at, such as cooking, choosing outfits, holding my own in a sports-related conversation or giving unqualified relationship advice, and then there are things I am less-inclined to, like pop-culture references, making music recommendations and talking to strangers. Those do not come naturally for me.

I am thankful that I live with MG because my social anxiety, as I have found out, is not weird. Or maybe we are just weird together, which I can also live with because MG is very funny and likes to talk about novels and eat chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. I can appreciate all of those qualities. We have been, among other things, known to avoid random acquaintances at church, disappearing with the stealth of undercover spies until the coast is clear while one of our friends like CC, for example, hugs and greets every familiar face she sees. It's torture.

It's a deceiving sort of anxiety that we have because because we function normally in society. We both willingly joined a sorority and were actively involved in other activities in college. We have many close friends and both have jobs that involve talking to people for many hours of the day. When we are home with KS, we are rarely in our rooms because we are hanging out together. KS is good influence because she is nice to everyone, could talk to a wall if you asked her too and she's a master at flirting. Flirting is advanced on the socializing ladder, in case you were wondering.

An added issue is that most everyone by their mid-20s seems to develop the habit of saying: nice to see you. It is a practiced response and many people seem to say it without much consideration to whether they have met you or not. I like believing that politeness should be genuine, not generic. It is perfectly normal for two people to have run in similar circles and never met each other before- stranger things have happened, I assure you. My social anomalies give me a heightened sense of awareness around strangers, so I usually know if I have met you before. People who actually take the time to remember make themselves memorable to those who pay attention.

There are two things I have found that make meeting people easier: first would be that they are already a friend of a friend and you are meeting them in the context of people you already know. This makes any situation more automatically more relaxed because you are with people who put you at ease.

And the second? The second would be having a few drinks and hoping for the best.

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.
-Robert Frost

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stockings Hung By the Sony With Care

I feel like I have been a bit detached from the blog world the past few weeks. I don't find myself at a loss for words, it's just that not every stream on consciousness forms itself into a blog post.

My friends and acquaintances have outdone themselves with the Christmas parties this year- so much so that KS, MG and I elected to wave the white flag this December and let everyone else entertain us instead. We'll have a party when people least expect it. You just wait. Our house does have nice holiday touches throughout, though as you may have guessed our stockings are literally hanging down below our T.V. on the media console because we have no fireplace. Santa will have to ring the doorbell.

I am currently chipping away at The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The complexity of the story reminds me why the classics are the classics, and why they continually withstand the test of time. Knowing full-well that I could not read consecutive novels this engrossing, I am still enjoying it.

There is also this new application I have downloaded on my phone called Words With Friends, which is terribly addicting. It's more about strategy than actually knowing how to spell, which I'm trying to learn. I recommend it.

I cooked Italian over the weekend- first was eggplant parmesan with BF on Friday night, which MK came over and ate with us. I had honestly never tried it before, and as MK described it: it's one of those dishes that you see on a menu and you are thankful that vegetarians have it as an option, but you don't think to order it yourself. We cooked enough to feed an army and the man at the liquor store pointed us in the direction of a huge bottle of inexpensive red wine that "all of the old Italian people" buy in his store. I had no idea there were so many old Italians in Dallas, seeing as we have Mexican food on every corner, but the wine was good both in the dish and to drink, so he seemed to know what he was talking about.

The second meal was manicotti which I helped my mom with at home yesterday while my family watched football and relaxed at home. I had never made either dish before which made them interesting, and both were delicious. I find that with new recipes I am most concerned with timing- I can tell by looking at a recipe any ingredients I want to add or omit but I always read directions multiple times to get a handle on what needs to happen when.

So if anyone needs to eat this week, please let me know. Leftovers abound, though I cannot promise garlic bread because I'm fairly confident that BF, MK and I did a number on it Friday night.

After my snow report from last week I am pleased to say that the cold weather persists. I did not love it so much when our heat was out at the end of last week and MG and I had to sleep here in the 53-degree temperatures, but now that it's working again I can fully embrace the weather outside as being frightful. It must be my winter birthday doing the talking, but I do love it.

If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away.
-Victor Hugo

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Crying Wolf

One of the truths I hold to be self-evident as a kid born, raised and colleged in Texas is that when the local meteorologist starts talking about snow, you can't get your hopes up. You really need to get your hope down, in fact.

I cannot tell you how many mornings I woke up as a child after being lulled to sleep with promises of freezing precipitation on the news, only to wake up and find a bone-dry driveway out my window and not a flake in sight. Snow in Texas means that regular schedules cease completely. People don't know how to drive in it and we are ill-prepared for temperatures below 32 degrees.

I know better now than to dream of a day off, but if you think the possibility of an inclement weather day is not just as enticing now, as a full-time working adult, as it was when class was cancelled in elementary school, you are mistaken.

Last night the murmurings of "weather" started, but my friends and I went about our business, celebrating our friend KR's birthday unhindered by the rain and the freezing cold. This morning my mother called while I was still in bed and it was still dark outside, which would typically mean emergency because why on earth would anyone call before 7 AM? She reported that it was snowing at my parents house, 30 miles from me, and was it snowing at my house? I hopped out of bed with the enthusiasm of my younger self, only to find that no, it was raining.

I continued to get ready and did not open the blinds in my room, I was so annoyed by the false hope I had allowed myself. Keeping with my normal routine, I walked downstairs an hour later as usual, turned on the coffee machine as usual, and opened the blinds... as usual. Only then was I taken aback by the scene in the window above our kitchen sink: snow. Huge flakes of beautiful, white snow. Very few moments in life are poignant or breathtaking, but that was one of them for me- when a normal day was made surprisingly beautiful.

It was not sticking to the ground, so after walking in the backyard to be awestruck for a moment, an effect snow has always had on me, I had to leave.

Oh well, makes a normal Wednesday that much prettier...

Loralei Gilmore: The whole world changes color; flakes flurries swirls crystals. whatever form it comes in- I'll take it. We go back, snow and me, we have a beautiful history.
-Gilmore Girls