Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Get Ready For Better Focused Pictures of Meals and Animals

It's almost too embarrassing to list everything Stella, D., and I got as Christmas gifts this year. We are blessed and spoiled in many ways. But allow me one tiny bit of exuberant gloating!


It's my Awesome Christmas Present! I don't really know how to make a picture look good other than point, focus, and shoot (evidence below)...but that's not gonna stop me!



The T-Shirt Says It All



Julie



Chicklet


It's going to take me about six years to learn how to do everything on this camera. I can't wait to get started!

Dark, Rainy, Cold, Quiet, And Filled With Love

Today is the sort of day in which, if I were at work, I would be miserably thinking, "Today is the perfect day to spend in an unwashed, lazy marathon of fire-stoking, internet perusing, and sandwich making."

Well, since I'm not one to let myself down (every time I get the chance), and since this is the first day of my holiday break that I haven't had at least four or five obligations, that is exactly what I've done.

By the way - turkey, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, cucumbers and salad mix make a TERRIFIC sandwich.

I am a lazy, gluttonous, spoiled person.

But that's not what I came here to write. I came here to write about the reason that 2007 was the best year of my life.

I have never written or said those words before, "This was the best year of my life." I'm not that old but I'm not that young either, so it feels pretty amazing to write it out.

Coincidentally, today marks 365 days since I first set eyes on D.

There is still sadness in the world, in the past, and in my family. But I'm not consumed by it, as I might have been at one time. I remember an exercise a yoga teacher would have us do. When we were lying in corpse pose, she would say, "If a concern or worry or stressful thought comes to you, don't deny it or try to make it go away - address it, acknowledge its existence, and then let it go." It's a good tool for stopping the destructive cycle of negative thought. It's also nearly impossible to do when you've been stuck in that cycle, oh, most of your life. However, this is what I'm able to do, for the most part, most of the time now. It started very slowly but gained in momentum and confidence, this new way of living. Stupid clichés like "one day at a time" become unavoidable when describing how one is able to do this. I never expected a path to mental health and clarity to feel so much like the path to physical health. Stupid, huh? Of course it should feel similar!

2007 was the year I felt stable. And I will never, ever take that for granted.

Thank you, D. for your patience, your quiet strength, your love, your friendship, and for my awesome Christmas present! I also sort of love the fact that our story begins with, "Well....I was in the bar the night after Christmas....."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hell's House Band

I give you: Trans Siberian Orchestra.

A marriage of two of the the absolute worst subgenres EVER in music: Prog Rock and Christmas songs.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Not Exactly The Holiday Spirit

I might not understand much about the way the world works - but I try.

I listen to the news on the radio and read several news sources so I try to get information from several sources.

And I'm frustrated and angry with our government. I even went so far as to write (er, email) my representatives in Congress last month. I told them that I wanted them to pay more attention to domestic issues, such as this SCHIP (Children's Health Insurance) bill and social causes. I told them that under no circumstances should they put a bill involving war(s) funding before the President without listing a timetable for withdrawal. I might as well scream into a black hole.

So what happens? Congress gives the President 70 million more dollars, no strings. SCHIP will run out of money around I think May for most states. I just use those two bills as examples because I've been following them closely. The SCHIP bill is of particular interest to me because my daughter was a recipient of the Arkansas version for several years and it was a (literal, in one case) lifesaver for us.

What else can I do? I'm seriously asking. What can I do when I realize I am not living in a country with a representative government. I mean....what do you, these readers think? Am I the only one who is angry about the course of events here? I know that one is a rhetorical question because I talk to people who feel the same way I do. Maybe I should talk to people who DON'T feel the same way. If any of you out there reading this think that the SCHIP bill's latest passage was right, or who fully support additional funding from here to god-knows-when for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, please explain why. Because what more can I do? I vote. I encourage others to vote. I glean information. I read. I discuss. And yet I am at the end of my (pardon) fucking rope.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Surprise!!

So for the better part of a year now I've been enjoying reading and commenting back and forth with the delightful Step Right Up.

And today she shocks the everliving daylights out of me by revealing that it's my longtime (I will never say "old") friend Stacey! And she's gettin' hitched! And she wants me to be a bridesmaid!

I'm over the moon. Thrilled, surprised, excited!!!!!

And I feel just a little dumb. Like, how could I not figure it out????

Best trick ever.

I'm so happy today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Probably Why I Was Single For So Long

Picture this:
It's late-ish Friday night, a near-freezing rain has been pouring down for days. We're expecting snow possibly and ice certainly. After the obligatory Work Christmas Party, D. and I head to the one godforsaken place where we can get all of our necessary items (rock salt, shovel, dog food, comfort food fixin's, cigarettes) at once - yes, you know it - Wal-Mart.

We soldier on through the holiday crowds and are tantalizingly close being done, prepared for the worst and at home, sitting in front of the fire. We're waiting in the one Cigarette Line because my sweetie is (sadly...and not for much longer?) an addict. If you've ever been in a Wal-Mart, you know this line. It's the longest and crankiest.

So there we are. With our cart full of bad-weather provisions. The shifty-eyed guys in front of us are buying cigarettes (duh) but also three bottles of Robitussin apiece. Hm. That's some cough, guys. In other words, how sad and gross it must be, spending a terrible, cold, rainy night drinking cough syrup to get high and smoking cigarettes.

But back to us. The checkout guy, who I imagine has probably been on his feet for hours and hours dealing with holiday shoppers, scans everything very quickly because they all have UPC codes but then gets to the VERY LAST ITEM, a lone orange pepper. I specifically chose this pepper for the chili I planned to make because it was more than a dollar cheaper than the red pepper ($2 and 40 friggin' cents each). The guy puts it on the scale and punches in the code, I see it come up on the register as "Red Pepper - $2.40" and, before I could even stop myself, I burst out with, "No. That's an ORANGE pepper and it's a dollar twenty." And with those few words, thus began our descent into hell.

The guy tries to void the previous scan and ends up somehow charging us for four orange peppers instead (now well over $5). He keeps punching the same buttons and getting the same beeping error message. He tries again. Same thing. Again. Same beeps. The line behind us is growing. People are shifting their weight and starting to stare daggers into our eyeballs. I can't even look at D. because I'm afraid of what I might see in his expression - disbelief, frustration, and possibly fury." I can read his thoughts, though, "Alannah! ONE DOLLAR'S DIFFERENCE!!! We were almost out of here. Why, oh why couldn't you keep your trap shut? Just this one time?"

Checkout guy turns on the blinking light to call over a manager. She punches the very same buttons. Same beeping errors. She tries several more times. Mutiny in the cigarette aisle is imminent. D. is offering to pay the $5 extra, $10, whatever.... just get us the F out of there. In my weak attempt to make up for all this trouble, I run back to the frozen section to trade in D.'s halfway melted Ben and Jerry's for a new pint. The manager tells us we have to go to customer service to figure this out. By the time I come back with fresh, frozen ice cream, D. is walking back with four crisp dollars in his hand, and the comforting knowledge that he's got himself the craziest, cheapest, penny-pinchingest girlfriend in the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Think The Grindstone Has Ground Me To A Fine Dust

This has been a tough week. I guess no tougher than many, but maybe my coping mechanisms are a little faulty right now. Tensions always run higher around the holidays. I haven't had problems with anyone in my immediate life but I can feel that my patience is lower, and my tolerance isn't where it should be. So don't push me, is all I'm sayin'.

I had my first ever salon mishap, wherein my hairstylist (who is also a very dear friend I've known since we were 13) was touching up my roots and giving me a trim - no biggie, right? - but somehow, someway, dyed half my head a dark, drab brown. With my blond at the ends. We both tried not to freak out, but it was clearly something of a disaster. Of course, not on a global scale...but this was my hair! Women take their hair very seriously. She's fixed most of it and I'm going back in for a follow-up dye session on Saturday but whew, that kinda threw me.

Then that very same night (and I still can't figure out how, exactly, I managed to do this), I had some weird spastic reaction and jerked my arm and spilled red wine all over a.) my friend's new couch, b.) her new, pricey rug, and c.) my off-white skirt. There was a moment of "Oh shit! What do we do?" before we all scattered to grab rags and stain removers. But all the stains came out. I am a diligent stain-remover. You should know that about me.

So..this was a banner week for color and stain mishaps. I'm only drinking white wine and vodka from now until forever.

And I wouldn't even say those events were what made this week so tough. It's the undercurrent of stress that never goes away. I think I need a change. Not a drastic change, but a change.

No, you know what I REALLY need? I need that Christmas week break to hurry up and get here. EIGHT MORE DAYS!!!!!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Weekend Blahgging

This week's Creepiest Christmas Find is a nativity scene starring a diverse group of Precious Moments-esque kids, currently selling for $9.97 in Wal-Mart..... KIDS!... IN A NATIVITY TABLEAU!... WTF?


I prepared brunch for 10 people today. It pretty much took all day long to prepare, clean up, and recover from. The menu:
  • Tray of cheese, crackers. sausage, and salmon dip
  • lemon blueberry corn muffins
  • ham, swiss, and crimini mushroom "quiche" on puff pastry
  • vegetable quiche with yellow squash and red peppers
  • scalloped potatoes
  • steamed asparagus
D. and I survived the families meeting for the first time. The tree is up and decorated. We accomplished a lot this weekend. Now I'm praying for this ice storm tonight to be bad enough that I can take the morning off tomorrow.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Are We Really This Kind of People?

The kind of people who walk, arm in arm, around the Square listening to piped in Christmas carols and looking at the lights?
The kind of people who take a ton of pictures of their kids riding camels around the Square?




And, worst of all...the kind of people who do THIS to their pets?



I guess we are. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Past Few Weeks

I finally took the time to empty out the ol' memory card.

Thanksgiving dinner table:




The Pies!

Coconut and Chocolate Cream


Pumpkin and Pecan Praline


Last Thursday we went to our friends' 10 Year Anniversary party. A whole house filled with love! Ten years is the aluminum anniversary, so one of the guests brought this amazing, unique, and beautiful arrangement made from painted sticks, aluminum foil and Hershey's kisses.

Kids: always a reliable source of entertainment.

The Enchanting Abbey and Kole Who Cannot Sit Still.

Robin - More beautiful today than her wedding day ten years ago.


Last weekend I took my students on our scheduled Social Justice-themed trip to Little Rock. Here we are in front of Central High School.



Dale Chihuly's breathtaking blown-glass tree, made for the Millenium Celebration at the White House, now on display at the Clinton Library & Museum.

We happened to be at the Clinton Library on World Aids Day. This year's largest display of the AIDS Quilt in the U.S. was spread out on the grounds.

I should have a semi-regular segment called "I ♥ The Internet." Because I do. I love how it connects me with people I should know already. This weekend I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at Stephanie's house. We "met" via Megan Chapman's blog and it turns out our kids go to school together and we have a ton in common. Sunday we worked on jewelry, ate yummy snacks, and "clicked." It was the best Friend First Date ever! When I saw that her boys were eating this for dinner, I knew we could totally relate to each other. There are just some nights when you look over and realize your child is eating Lucky Charms straight out of the box, topped off with shrimp and cocktail sauce, and you think, "Well..it does say it's made with Whole Grain...and shrimp...there's your protein!" Not to mention the fact that it was SO FUN to say, "I'm sorry, but I've got to take a picture of this for my blog" and know that she wouldn' t be totally creeped out by it.