Blogmas: Looking Ahead

The year is coming to an end, so it’s probably time to reflect on what happened and think about how I want to handle the future, I guess. People make resolutions this time of year, but I don’t think that’s for me. What I want is too inconsistent to promise myself a set of things, but I can come up with a few vagueries to commit to.

  1. Expand my yoga practice – I really want to do a handstand, you guys. Also successfully hold crow for more than a second and get up into wheel. Maybe I’ll even go to a class? Who knows, but Adriene is doing a new 30 day challenge to start off 2018, and I couldn’t be more pumped!
  2. Write more – This blog and NaNo have helped me reach some personal goals in 2017, so for 2018 I plan to expand on that. I have a trilogy I need to finish, Vacancy to post, and the desire to write something completely new. I’ve been working on the same handful of projects for years now, and while there is merit in that, things get stale. My writing and my personality have evolved, and it can be difficult to work on a project that a version of me from 5 years ago was excited about and invested in, but the problem is, I don’t bring things to fruition fast enough. Hopefully in 2018 I can start and finish one whole thing. Wouldn’t that be something?
  3. Improve my nutrition – Now that I have my weight under control, I want to focus on macros. Giving up meat has made it really easy to fill up on carbs and miss out on protein, and somehow I don’t get enough fat everyday (I think a low cal diet kind of naturally does that to you). I’d like to expand the foods I eat to get more sources of these things and get back to cooking regularly.
  4. Learn something new – I told you these would be vague. I have no idea what I want this to be, but I know I need to keep my brain alive. Sometimes I have a really tough time thinking of certain words, to the point that I feel like I have early onset alzheimer’s. That shit needs to stop! I’m hoping I can turn the brain bus around with some exercise in the form of a new hobby. But then there’s the whole thing of finding time.
  5. Be more at peace with myself and others – There will always be things that I don’t fucking understand, and I’ll always be bitching about them, but once I bitch about them, I need to learn to more quickly let them go. Maybe that will happen through meditation or journaling or some other fluffy, hippie, bullshit hobby, but the end result needs to be a more zen me. Blogmas is actually my first step in that, if you think about it. An older version of me would write “Things I Don’t Fucking Understand: Christmas,” but this version of me is more likely to write “I Guess I Fucking Get It: Christmas.” Maybe that’s a new series?

So that’s five things, and five is a good number of things for a list, right?

Okay, also, starting this week I’m going to ramp-up the Christmas-ness of Blogmas. If you’ve stuck with me this far, you’ve earned it! I’m going to find some generic Blogmas ideas and I’m going to pull that shit off!

Blogmas: Treat Yo Self

A very busy week was capped nicely last night by a very good time, as you may have seen in my last post. That was a gift to myself where I got to do some of the basic white girl things I don’t typically get to do because I don’t really have friends *insert lady emoji with her hand up like “o well”* Just kidding, I obviously have friends, I am just a homebody!

This morning, I went out shopping pretty early to beat the “already mad rush” so I could finish up shopping for the family my company has adopted for Christmas. Some had already been done, and I was given what was left ($416) to even out the gifts for the kids, get wrapping paper, and a gift card with the leftover. So I managed to magically spend $216 leaving me with an even $200 for the gift card.

Since we took donations from coworkers in the form of cash or gift cards, I had multiple forms of payment, including a lot of one dollar bills, so checkout was a little difficult. I had some printed egift cards which required scanning, and some plastic swipeable cards, and then cash. The cashier got more and more annoyed with me even though I was very quick to hand her everything. I always make an effort to be overly nice to people in the service industry because I know that shit is fucking hard, and it’s especially difficult around the holidays, but it didn’t matter what I did, this lady was determined to be pissed off at me. So I didn’t buy the gift card from her, and instead walked all the stuff out to the car, recounted the money, and walked back in and purchased the gift card from what was probably the sweetest old lady who had to count almost 100 ones out, but she was actually tickled to do so and when I apologized, told me “No, honey, it’s fine, we can always use ones, we love em!” So that kind of made everything better.

Once I got back home and ate lunch, I curled up in the recliner with all the soft blankets in the house that Husband was so kind to bring to me and started to nap. I was warm and cozy, but then someone knocked on the front door and my heart shot up into my throat. We have a glass door and long window panel that are somewhat obscured by decoration, but you can see inside and out. There was a formally dressed woman on our front step, and Husband got up to answer, but I told him just to ignore it. She knocked a second time then left. I managed to fall back to sleep when the doorbell rang. This time Husband went for the door with long, angry strides. He was ready to tell whoever was out there off for waking up his wife (twice!) but this was just a delivery. Can’t get mad about that.

My nap was shot, but it could have been much worse. I putzed around the rest of the day, played some The Sims, then decided I needed to yoga. I almost always do yoga in the morning, so I forget how amazing yoga is in the afternoon/evening. Sometimes I stretch before bed, but nothing like a full routine. Well, holy shit guys, I am way more flexible and balanced than I thought! Just turns out morning time isn’t super conducive to complete bends and twists.

Then it was time to exfoliate and shave. I’m basically a werewolf, and I shave my pits and legs every day because I HAVE TO. My hair grows at a rate no human should have to live with, and it doesn’t come in light colored or even soft–it’s actually painful to wear pants when I haven’t shaved in 24 hours–but I’ve resigned myself to this mammalian existence. Today, though, I really went all out and worked at my skin with one of those rough glove things, then dragged a sharp bit of metal all over me til I looked like a seal. Now I feel like a goddess who has taken mortal form to find a lover. Yep, it’s as gross as it sounds.

The point here is just a reminder that you need to treat yourself now and again. While I think “treat yo self” culture has gone off the fucking rails (thanks Parks and Rec!), the underlying message is important: do something for you. DO IT.

Blogmas: In Photos

Since I’m an old lady, I need to go to sleep immediately when I’m out late and by late I mean 10:30, so I’m phoning this in, but you should know I had an awesome night and you should be totes jelly you weren’t there.

Blogmas: A Haunted Holiday Pt 1

“I’ll not have it this year,” Lady Allerton stood stiffly in the entrance to the parlor, hands folded, chin raised just so. Her tone was light, almost pleasant, but her clenched jaw told them that she meant business. The sack of gold on the tea table didn’t hurt either. “This thing,” the word seemed to burn her tongue on its way out, “ruins the festivities every year.”

“You want it gone because it wrecks your parties?” Reggie squinted at her. To be fair, it was one of the more novel reasons they’d ever heard.

“The Allerton name has thrown the most exalted holiday festivities for over three hundred years. His and Her Majesty have even been in attendance. This is our mark on the Empire, Mr. Kirt, so yes, I want it gone because it wrecks my parties.”

Reggie took a step back as if her words had physically assaulted him.

“I assure you, Your Ladyship, we will identify the source of the disturbance.” Hugh was, of course, unphased by the royal, even bored by her, and he turned away, already inspecting the room.

With a few graceful steps, Lady Allerton came to stand just before Bianca. She dipped her head down, “You must understand, I am uninterested in identifying the problem.” Her eyes flashing from harsh and cold to sad and pleading, and if she didn’t know better, she could have sworn she felt the woman’s hand on her own. Bianca studied her face, its severe angles, the tautness of her hair, the perfect shape of her lips, frightening in all its perfect glory from across from room, appeared only desperate so close up. She listened in the quiet of the parlor for something more, shutting out Reggie’s anxiety and Hugh’s constant hum, but only the faint sound of Lady Allerton’s soprano spoke in her mind, Please.

Hugh’s sigh broke her concentration as he announced to the room as if everyone in it should have already known, “It is almost impossible to remove a specter without first determining what, exactly, it is.”

“It is a ghost,” she snapped her head toward the man, her tone icy enough to make even him shiver, “And you will rid this place of it by Christmas.”

***

More Writing

Bianca, Hugh, and Reggie are some of my forgotten ghost hunting characters from an attempt at a pseudo steam-punky, Victorian England type world. I kind of want to write a Christmas ghost story with them? But do I have the time? I’m not even sure where this is going right now except, obviously, right here.

Blogmas: Exhaustion

How is it already setting in? It’s only day 13, not even a fortnight, and yet I am just…blah. I am so blah I got unnecessarily angry at Husband this morning on what was a really important day for him. Not because it was an important day, of course, but because I’m a little overwhelmed. And that’s really dumb because no one should be overwhelmed by Christmas. Christmas shouldn’t be an obligation, and that’s exactly what I said I wasn’t going to let it be when I started this whole thing.

But here’s the truth: holidays are almost always at least a little obligatory for women. In most cases we bear the emotional load of our relationships, or are at least expected to. And as a lifelong people pleaser, I have an especially hard time with this. I did all the shopping for Husband’s family and my own. When he tells me I don’t have to do this, I tell him yes I do because my options are either do the shopping or get blamed for the shopping not being done because it doesn’t really occur to most people that the male spouse of a hetero couple should be responsible for at least 50% of everything in a household, and perhaps even 100% responsible for tasks to do with his family of origin. So my real options are A) get it done or B) disappoint people and be seen as “that bitch,” and my chronic people pleasing gives me too much anxiety for B.

I’ve also been staying up too late recently. I realize I’ve probably never said this, but I get up at 4:30 on weekday mornings. That’s early! Husband and I drive together since we work really close to one another, and we leave by 6:30, so I use those two hours for yoga, showering, getting ready, cat care things, and sometimes a chore. Two hours goes by really fast, especially if you get distracted by your wordpress feed, but I’ve really come to be a morning person thanks to yoga. The only problem is, in order to get eight hours of sleep, I need to be asleep by 8:30. Not in bed, but a-fucking-sleep. My compromise is to have my Fitbit remind me to start getting ready for bed at 8:45 so I can be under the covers by 9:00. But if you have any idea when my last couple blogs were posted, you know that did NOT happen.

Also, I’ve got my period right now, so the fatigue could just be from how hard my uterus is working to slough out all these dead cells. Who knows!

Ultimately, I am tired. But not tired of Christmas. I’m still really pleased when I look at my tree, and I’m excited about upcoming plans. The biggest problem right now, I think, is that my house is a mess. There are boxes and receipts everywhere. It needs to be vacuumed and wiped down, laundry–clean and dirty–is piling up as well as dishes despite that I’ve hardly cook at home recently, and things just feel so disorganized! I know that I only truly feel relaxed when my house is clean and organized, and this is probably my problem. Oh woe is me to have such big problems, eh?

I wish I had a fun story to tell today or a project I’m working on, but really, I’m just getting by. I’m hoping to cook some soup this weekend, do some crafts, finish up all my presents and get this house in order for the final push, so maybe the next couple days will be more interesting. But for now, well, it’s 7:30 and I think I’m about to go to bed.

Blogmas: A Show

I think I’m officially an adult, Dear Reader, for, you see, I have been to a Show™. Well, to be fair, I’ve been to see a few live performances in the past, Christmas ones to be exact, but this was different. This time, Dear Reader, I was an adult!

There’s something particularly Christmas-y about getting together with a group of people you care deeply for and going to a venue where you’ll watch real-live people put on a performance. It’s probably the camaraderie, both of your small circle, and then of the greater circle you become part of when you cheer with, laugh with, and dance with a bunch of strangers. The shared sense you get when you’re part of a group or crowd can actually be quite nice. Of course, it can morph into mob mentality, but let’s not go there.

Instead, let’s stay on the lighter side of crowd psychology. Losing a sense of individual responsibility, in a reasonable and ethical way, is really freeing. You laugh as loud as you want, you smile, you dance, you don’t overanalyze, you can just kind of be. This might work on a smaller scale too. Sure, sometimes around groups of people we might act a little more reserved or put on a bit of a persona, but I find that more and more I’m able to be a little sillier, a little more daring, and a little more open when there are others around in ways I never thought I’d be able to before.

So, a Show, as I said. Husband, lovely couple, and I went to see Blue Man Group on Saturday, and it was a fucking blast. I always have a great time with lovely couple, so that was no surprise, but the show itself was wicked! I have always loved theater–the idea that there are real people in front of you in real time, performing their passion is something else. No one accidentally becomes a performer, not really. If you’re on stage, you love it, and if you’re talented, it will show. You end up there because you should be there.

Blue Man Group was so unique and a whole lot of fun. Even though it was a little topical with technology references, felt timeless in that it can always be updated but since it relies on physical instruments that are clearly handmade, it will remain this familiar thing. There was something about the narrator’s voice, I felt like I’ve heard it before. Maybe, maybe not, but it was familiar. But I definitely remember the Intel commercials featuring the “Bluemen” when I was pretty young, and the show felt exactly like that. Like maybe BMG had always existed and always would. And of course, the music.

I guess I didn’t realize the show would be so musical. I knew there was drumming, but it’s more than that (not that drumming isn’t complex on it’s own, percussion friends!) The instruments the performers use are totally unique to the show, so they’ve learned this distinct skill that can’t really be applied to much else, and it’s so incredibly impressive. For as long as I can remember, music has been the most moving thing to me. I can cry at the drop of a hat, but I’m extra emotionally susceptible to sounds. The show played with that a lot.

So now I want to go to Vegas and see another show, and also see some musicals here, and I want to dress up and be a fancy adult for all of those things. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?? Oh, and I also want to bring my rock and roll career out of retirement. I think that’s equally reasonable, yeah? Being an adult is hard.

Woah, it’s so hard I almost forgot your x-mas-y video of the day! Dang!

Blogmas: A Wreath

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I did a Christmas craft! Yeay! Well, I guess technically it’s a Yule craft, according to the name. When I showed Husband the finished product, he made a legit “woah” face, told me “That’s freaking cool” and said it reminded him of Hermes which, in many ways, was what I was kind of going for (also Artemis, obviously).

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Supplies and my scratched up table. It has seen its fair share of crafts.

I wanted a wreath, and I figured I could make one, and if I was going to make one, I should go all in and make exactly what I wanted. No greenery here! I took some inspiration from Homemade Ginger for the twine background. I thought it had a distinctly witchy vibe, then tried to take it in a little more wintery direction.

Everything came from Michaels except the twine which just came from my mini craft closet thing. I found sprigs of gold/off-white/glittery things at the store that I thought went well together and were also on sale. They were really big, but I intended to cut everything apart anyway.

I started with a metal ring and wrapped it in the twine–this was both for the aesthetic of the twiney look and to give everything I’d glue to it something to grab onto. Then I continued with the twine and wrapped it about, criss-crossing the ring. My one regret here was not looping the twine around the ring every time I crossed it. In some places I just when around the ring instead of looping it totally to make it sturdy. I’m afraid the strings might come loose in the future.

That got tied off when I felt it was right and then I started laying out the pieces of my flowers where I thought they should go. Again, this was all a feeling, but I stuck with the more neutral gold leaves as the base, then added in the glittery leaves in distinct groups since they were visually louder. Since they were originally these really tall sprigs, they had wire running through them, so I was able to twist them around the ring until I was ready to start hot gluing which I did from the back at first, then when it dried I added some to the front under the leaves for stability.

The antlers were planned for the bottom, of course, and the flowers were strewn around to cover up and parts of the metal still visible. Like a lot of artsy fartsy projects, it was mostly by feeling: what looked good to me and would I be willing to continue staring at as time went on? I can stare at this and not get sick of it, I think. I’m just glad I got this done before the new year, honestly.

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Obligatory filtered photo.

And here’s a little diddy for you to turn up while you’re crafting this holiday season:

Blogmas: Not At All What I Planned

Today went very differently than I thought it would. I had grand plans of a morning workout and an afternoon DIY. Instead, I found a dog while I was out walking, a small chihuahua like rat-dog, and of course I had to bring it home and find its owner. After posting on Nextdoor, Facebook, and taking a trip to the Humane Society to check for a chip, we came up empty-handed on an owner, but we took him for a couple walks and talked to our neighbors and one of them recognized him and directed us to another house, and the ladies that lived there were so excited to see him!

BUT! He was not their dog! Apparently they found him on Thanksgiving, so he’s been missing from him home for a while. They had a bed for him and food and supplies, so essentially they’d adopted him, but were willing to adopt him out if someone else wanted him. We are a cat house (no, not that kind), so we weren’t going to keep him, but another neighbor is considering adopting him. I’m not sure what will come of it, but he’s safely with another family for the time being.

Now, I do not like little dogs. They yap and piss and bite and are all around really mean, but this dog, THIS DOG, was the sweetest, most polite, quiet, cute puppy I’d ever met. He just ran right up to me on the sidewalk and let me pick him up and cuddle him since he was shivering (it was in the 50s here today, but it was in the 80s Friday, so quite a temperature change) and nervous, but I took him home and he was so freaking polite! He was even afraid of our cats! And after a few minutes, he wanted nothing more than to just sit on my lap and take naps. This is the definition of good boy:

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I cannot even.

I guessed he was a chihuahua (maybe some other terrier in there though), and we wanted to call him something other than “doggo” so we started calling him Paco, which in retrospect may have been a little racist, but when we found the lady who had been keeping him, Rosa who only spoke Spanish (translated for us by her sister), they showed us the little house they’d made for him:

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Serendipitous, no?

So Paco is in some version of home tonight, and while I was really excited to blog about the awesome night we had yesterday (we went to a SHOW) and possibly about a DIY project I was going to do today, none of that’s happening because I’m too exhausted to even dye my hair which is on the verge of being a necessity. Even after a nap! BEING A SAVIOR IS EXHAUSTING.

Blogmas: Favorite Commercials

I don’t watch TV anymore. With the advent of on demand internet-watching stuff, cable has gone out the window for me and so have commercials. While I’m mostly happy about that, there are a couple Christmas-y commercials that used to come on every year that I really liked. So in order to totally half-ass this blog today, here are a few of my favorites.

Hershey Kisses – who doesn’t love that little extra bell at the end?

Gap – Any of those weird ass Gap commercials from the 90s/00s are a fucking treat:

Coca Cola Polar Bears – Remember when this was like the height of CGI?

Folgers Siblings – Every line in this thing is golden, and you know exactly why:

And the Christmas advert to end all adverts. If I need to cry for any reason, I just put this on (this also counts as the music for today because I wasn’t being lazy enough!):

Blogmas: Finding Peace

It’s no secret that I am areligious. In fact, one of the most common jokes I make (or is made about me) is that I worship the devil. Of course, that is not a form of not-religion, but good luck convincing most people of that.

While I would like to believe there’s something greater out there, I fully admit I could never understand what that is, so while I do strive to be a better person and to try and make sense of life, the universe, and everything, I don’t prescribe to any set of rules or named deities.

That being said, I do have a nativity scene up for Christmas. Or, more specifically, a crèche, because that’s what my family always called it and my grandma was really into French for whatever reason. I cleared out a bookshelf at eye level in the great room area, and set up the figurines in the same way they were always set up when I was little. I don’t do this because I believe in Jesus Christ’s divinity, and I don’t do it to honor “the reason for the season” despite my stance. I unpack the box marked “manger” every year in someone from my family’s handwriting, this crazy sturdy, old box that’s been moved from state to state with staples all up and down its sides, and lovingly unwrap each king and lamb and angel because it’s the one constant that I’ve always had at Christmastime, and to me this crèche represents joy and goodness and hope.

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We always put it out on a white, sparkly piece of fluffy fabric like Jesus has been born amongst the snow. It’s as historically inaccurate as you can get.

So here’s what I was told about this set. My great uncle, so my maternal grandmother’s brother, collected the pieces one by one in the 1940s. I’m fairly certain the barn piece itself is not from that time, but the figures each still have the pencil marks on their bottoms with the price (between 5 and 15 cents). This story has always enchanted me.

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I didn’t get a great picture, but my set has four kings rather than three. My mom always said “yes, there were four, one was just really late.”

First, when I was very little, I couldn’t imagine my great uncle ever being young himself, but when I got a bit older, I put myself in his shoes, trudging out into Boston’s winter, almost unimaginable to a child who had never even seen snow, with just a nickel in hand to the corner drug store to buy a single lamb to add to the collection.

I wasn’t allowed, or able, to touch the crèche when I was very small, as it was kept atop a hutch that typically housed other fancy breakables, but once I could reach it, I would play with it. I remember doing so in secret at first because I knew I shouldn’t be touching something so old or fragile, but I was always a careful, quiet kid, and quickly everyone got over it.

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Mr. and Mrs. Cow

No one ever indoctrinated me into any religion throughout my life, and for that I am entirely grateful, but there was some “Christianity is the right one” background music. I mean, obviously, we had a nativity scene up and were celebrating Christmas, but I didn’t really know who Jesus was. My actual focus was on the animals. There was a long stretch of time I wanted to be “a farmer” when I grew up because in my head that was a person who just owned a bunch of animals and pet them all day, and the crèche was like my mini farm. It had sheep, and cows, a donkey, and even a camel! And my loose understanding of Jesus, deeply influenced by animated Christmas specials, was that the animals came to see him, and to me that was very similar to a Disney princess which was another aspiration of mine. Princess Christ, if you will.

When I was eleven and my mom and I moved out of the house I had lived in my entire memorable life with my grandparents to Ohio a thousand miles away, that first Christmas was pretty hard. It was nothing like the ones that had come before, except the crèche was there. It was always there.

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So many sheep!

It was there when we lived in that first city in Ohio when we started fresh and I finally started making friends, and then it was there when we moved less than twelve months after that to the most rural place I’d ever seen. It got put up in the tiny one bedroom apartment we lived in for a couple years, and then again put up in the house my mother built with her own fucking hands on seven acres where we actually did have real live cows. And then when we were forced out of the house and back into those tiny apartments, it was put up again. It saw me cry, it saw me go through a phase where I actually did believe in Jesus and so badly needed him to believe in me, and it watched that belief slowly fade away.

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Thanks, Princess Jesus!

And now that I’m again a thousand miles away from the people I grew up with, including my mom, the one Christmas constant I have is this scene of the birth of the messiah from a religion I don’t follow, collected by a man who’s no longer alive and I hadn’t spoken to for at least a decade before he died, and passed down through three generations to a heathen. But despite everything it carries, it gets to look out on a different me, a married me, a happy grown up me, and even though I don’t hold what it represents literally, it is certainly a beacon of hope and joy in this house.