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December 2005

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

I said I was going to post pictures today, but why start breaking my habit of breaking blog promises before the new year?

Anyway.

I think I have posted this before:

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me--still He knows what He is about.

I cannot tell you how many times I repeat these lines to myself during the course of a week. Actually, just the line about perplexity will do. I am always perplexed.

When I first encountered Anxiety, as a cloaked and stealthy full armored force, I immediately turned to God. What else, what other power could make it stop? I couldn't think of anything else. But it didn't stop. I was in Switzerland. I took the train by myself to Lucerne and walked from the train station to Lake Geneva. It was this time of year- bitter cold, clear skies, glittering water. I walked as far as I could from any other person, I sat down on a rock where the lake was so wide it filled in my peripheral vision and I told God how very exhausted I was, and could he please help? I have never ever clung to God like I did that day in Lucerne, but I was still anxious.

I got much better after that winter. I learned all sorts of things to help me manage things and it disappeared nearly as quickly as it arrived. I didn't count on it coming back, but it did. If the first time was an instant incineration and a swift rebuilding, this time is more of a long slog through a dark wet jungle, always moving towards open sky, but sometimes lurching into the mud. And God? He's good for impassioned pleas for assistance when I drive to work in the morning, a deep breath before I prepare to fall asleep. That's been working. I am fairly experienced, now, in managing myself.

The other day I got an email where someone was quoted: "Resist the urge to manage your pain."

What is the first thing I turn to when I'm anxious? God? Not likely. Having never been much of a help, he ranks somewhat low in my arsenal of anti-anxiety weapons. But something was pulling at me. It'd been so long since I tried. So the other night when my heart was racing and the potential sleepless night juxtaposed with my seven a.m. meeting made my stomach lurch, I said to God, "Fine. YOU manage my pain."

My anxiety did not go away. I was awake another hour or two, waiting for it to pass. But I waited patiently. I wasn't worried. I wasn't upset. I was a world apart from a body unable to halt its own adrenaline production. And I woke up in time for my meeting, tired and splotchy faced, but not particularly aggravated by my restless night. I stared at the tiles in the shower thinking, "This is what he means when he says, 'Do not be afraid, I am with you.'"

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.

I am a Catholic. It is a Catholic thing to "offer up" whatever you have, for the glory of the Kingdom, for the pagan babies, for the souls in purgatory. I've always considered it to be a sort of ridiculous concept: what could I possibly offer up from my average ordinary everydayness? How can one person's suffering make any difference? What is it for? Am I donating my own suffering in hopes that someone else's grief will lessen? But recently I've decided to do it anyway. I I'm not even sure what it means, but the next time I can't sleep, I will turn to God first and I will offer it up. I may even agree to experience it instead of begging to escape it. My perplexity, my anxiety, even, may serve him.



Bah humbug

I have a nice little photo collage draft going for you guys, but someone was too lazy to upload pictures last night. Instead she chose to reorganize her kitchen, the better to accomodate her beautiful new stand mixer (oh the photos, they are coming) and to attend the 7:40 showing of 'Fun with Dick and Jane'. Which, if you must know, was not fun at all. What a horrible movie. I will watch pretty much anything that includes at least 30 seconds of Tea Leoni, and after having watched 'Bruce Almighty' while using my beautiful new stand mixer, I was even in the mood for Jim Carrey. But you guys, this movie is AWFUL. Your nine bucks is better spent on, oh, I don't know, ANYTHING. I wasn't even amused by the big "Thanks To" list of all the evil corporations- it was LAME. The Enron people should be mightily offended. First they lose their pensions, now their revenge fantasies are corrupted, pulverized, beat to a pulp and made unforgivably BORING by Hollywood. FOR SHAME.

But Christmas, Christmas was nice. I worked about two days total last week and spent the rest of it in the car driving back and forth to Puyallup. Then yesterday I woke up at 5 to have breakfast with my parents. (Why 5, you ask? That dark ungodly hour of the morning? Because they had to drop Alex at the airport at 4:30 and didn't want to drive home, then back to Seattle. Why did Alex have to go to the airport at 4:30? Because he is CRAZY and volunteered to kick it with the National Guard in some undisclosed Middle Eastern country for the next four months. I KNOW. Be assured that this country is known to me and it's not one of the ones mixing up nuclear warheads. In fact, words better associated with this country are "resort" and "many many buckets of oil money". This undisclosed country would also like you to know that:

Unfortunately, many people still have misconceptions about [undisclosed country] and think that life here is how it was 20 or 30 years ago. So we have collected a series of articles to help clarify these misconceptions and help those individuals looking into visit or relocate to [undisclosed country].

The series of articles are about shopping, tennis, islands, festivals, hotels, stadiums, restaurants and "A City Who Cares". How helpful! It slightly smacks of the big packets my family used to get whenever we moved; all the lifestyle, culture and getting around information pertaining to our next assignment. I did scan through the military issued packet Alex received prior to departure. Seemed that lip balm was the thing you really needed to remember to bring with you. That and the flak jacket.)

So ANYWAY. Today I'm all "Work? Like, with paper? And a computer? Huh? ???"

Pictures tomorrow. I PROMISE.


Where am I?

Here is the obligatory 2 sentence post to say "Hello, I'm still alive, and once I am in one place for longer than 10 minutes, I will update. Really! Truly!"

In other news, the mini family Christmas is tonight and guess who gets to open the gigando 1,200 pound box that's been sitting under the tree for a week, tempting her every evening with its shiny monstrousness?

ME THAT'S WHO.

Oh, I would also like to send a quick THIS REALLY SUCKS to the person who decided that today should be ugly, miserable, gray, wet and UGLY because that really puts an upside on the out-of-towners' big trip to the city. THANKS A LOT, WEATHER DECIDER.


Merry Christmas, Love Becca

Hi Maggie,
This is the list Katie and I made.  Please download and burn to a CD for our Christmas Eve listening pleasure.

1. White Christmas- The Drifters
2. Baby it's Cold Outside- NOT Dean Martin
3. Jingle Bell Rock- (I don't know if this should still be on the list.  Katie thought this was the title for Rockin Around the Xmas Tree.)
4. Santa Baby- Eartha Kitt (Madonna version should beoutlawed)
5. All I Want for Xmas is You- Love Actually Soundtrack
6. So This is Christmas
7. The Xmas Song- Nat King Cole
8. Something by Josh Groban (for Grandma)
9. What are you Doing New Year's Eve- Mel Torme (Feel free to ignore this. Katie made me listen to it and put it on the list but it sounds like Santa had too much wine and forgot the words.)
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Margaret Whiting
11. Something by Bing Crosby (Perhaps Snow from White Christmas? Poor Vera Ellen. Don't worry honey. You can dance!*)
12. Let it Snow
13. Winter Wonderland
14. Peanuts Christmas Song (The one with words.)
15. I'll be Home for Christmas
16. Blue Christmas- Elvis (This is Katie again.  I had nothing to do with it.)
17. Rockin Around the Xmas Tree-Home Alone Soundtrack
18. That's What I Want for Xmas

That's all we could think of.  Thank Phillip for us!
Love, Becca

*My sister Becca recently watched the DVD of 'White Christmas' with commentary by Rosemary Clooney. I haven't seen it myself, but Rebecca pretty much recited the commentary word for word and OH MY GOD IT IS HILARIOUS. (Only if you know all the words to the 'Sisters' song. If not, it's possible you may not find it so amusing. You are probably also really sad and lonely.) (Oh and once Rebecca acted out 'The Ring' for me and even THAT was too scary for me to watch. Someone has some untapped talent, I think.)

Oh, and I'm supposed to add my requests. Any favorites?


If it means I must prepare to shoulder burdens with a worried air

Last winter I completed a project that is a Very Important part of my job, if not the most important, in about two weeks. I had never done anything like it, it was completely intimidating, I had to ask lots of questions and getting it finished before Christmas was kind of a big deal. "At least you won't have to worry about that over the holidays," I remember my boss saying when I mailed it off.

This year I finished the project in two days. Scratch that- two mornings.

I need to be doing something different.

This is what I would LIKE to do:
1. Have a baby. Preferably a very fat, very cute, roly poly one who doesn't scream or poop and sleeps all night, but I'm not choosy.
2. Write a Novel. Preferably the kind that gets me written up in the New York Review of Books as "Best Debut Novel Ever In the Entire World", but I am not that talented and I'll just settle for actually finishing a novel. The timeline for that is: Sometime before I die.
3. Learn how to make pretty websites. I have no qualification after this one- it seems difficult enough.
4. Do stuff at church. Right now this means starting a small group, I think. And I use the term "small group" purposefully as that's what the Protestants do and they are awesome at it and the Catholics? Woefully small group-less, at least at my church.

So permit me a small moment of self-congratulation here, dear readers, as I think I may have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up:

A Harried Mother, a Starving Artist and an Occasional Starving Freelance Blog Designer who is Utterly Swamped By Her Churchy Obligations. My parents must be so proud.

However! None of these things necessarily involve an employer-type figure handing me a bucket of money, however small, every two weeks. That is a problem, no? The other problem is the problem of Right Now. While all the list items are definitely on the horizon, no one is going to drop off a baby on my doorstep tomorrow and give me an allowance while I spend my mornings writing and my afternoons going to web design classes. (Anyone?)

Although I do have Phillip, who has a work ethic 400 times the size of mine, who has Dreams and Goals and Ambition, all of which most certainly include regular income. And for this I am, obviously, terribly thankful. SOMEONE has to be responsible around here, right? But even if Phillip were a zillionaire, I'm not sure how I would feel about soaking in the tub all day reading InStyle and eating those little truffle thingies from Trader Joe's.

(Okay, that is an outright lie. I would be in Pig Heaven.)

So what do I do in the meantime? I need a day job before I can have the day job I really want. Make sense? Any ideas?



Missing Person Report

Perhaps you thought the party killed me? That the sheer amount of gin imbibed Saturday night kept me in bed through Monday evening?

Nah, I'm just lazy. After the Saturday night festivities (gin! artichoke dip! some rather excellent white elephants! people who should not be allowed to mix their own cocktails!) I ignored the sea of martini glasses on my counter and spent Sunday in my pajamas watching English detective shows on the BBC channel. I had to go to work yesterday (I know. So unfair.) and then came home and put on my pajamas and read an English mystery novel. I probably only checked my email, like, five times yesterday instead of the usual 47. Lay. Zee. This is what happens when you spend the previous two weeks up to your eyelashes in flour, sugar and cracked eggs.

The laziness needs to end, though, because my mom and dad are flying for Christmas this weekend for, like, the first time EVER. We never flew home to the states for Christmas when I was a kid and I always flew to Italy for Christmas when I was in college, but then I got married and Phillip's company ignored my seventeen manifestos on Why People Need Two Weeks Off At Christmas Every Year No Matter What Because SERIOUSLY How Cruel and Scrooge-like Are You? So I had to stay here, but that was okay, because my grandma can show you a rockin good time around the holidays. Or at least a festively decorated one.

But this year? The parents are coming HERE. My little sisters are well and truly pissed off ("No skiing in the Dolomites? No trips to the Saturday market where Mom will buy me anything I want? No daily visits to Stradella's, God's own cappuccino venue? We have to stay here and go to STARBUCKS?!") but whatever. I am way excited. Especially because the Freakin Adorable Nephew is arriving this weekend as well and last I heard, he's about 400 pounds heavier since I saw him last spring. And I know you all will agree- fat babies are the cutest.

Anyway, all that is to say: I need to clean my house.

(Those of you who came to my Christmas party? I did not clean for you. Sorry.)

Instead of cleaning I went to see the Harry Potter movie. I am a big fan of the books and rather bitter and cynical about the movies. Mostly because Hermione? DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THAT. Just, no. No no no. WRONG. I grudgingly go to these movies because Phillip wants to go. And I don't reread the books beforehand because I just get annoyed at all the Fred and George jokes they leave out. But. But! This fourth movie? Is NOT BAD. I think I had a little more grace for Emma Watson because the kids are older and Hermione may have thinned out a little and regained control of her hair by now. (As a compromise, I suppose, the Evil Hair People gave us back Hermione and instead allowed red-haired dead animals to drape themselves over the heads of Ron, Fred and George. What is up with those 'dos boys? Is that the Look now? Because I am old and approaching my 10th High School Reunion (which I am most certainly not attending, AS IF) and not up on what the Kids are doing These Days. But oh, that hair is terrible.)

So the hair people were having issues and Mrs. Weasley was nowhere to be found, but the Quidditch World Cup was AMAZING and Maggie Smith telling the students about the Yule Ball was ADORABLE and Mad Eye Moody was CRAZY and is there any doubt that Ralph Fiennes is Evil Incarnate? I think not. Get thee to the theater.

(But I also want to see 'The Family Stone', so maybe we shouldn't rush to heed my movie recommendations.)

And now I need to um, write my Christmas cards lest they become, oh, President's Day cards. Boo.



Should I create a new category for Paranoia?

So people, my brain is practically bursting with Nerdness this morning. I just sent an email to a coworker outlining possible nerdy solutions for a nerdy problem including the words "pro" and "con" and with BULLET POINTS. In an EMAIL. I probably don't need to add that he has not responded.

And because I am bursting with Nerdness, I am considering sending another email, this time about a web design class that I think I should get to attend and that I think my boss should pay for. What do you think? And Firefox users, you just hush about that annoying pink line I have not yet fixed.  But before I send this email I need to think about how to sell him on a $375 tuition fee. "Please send me to this class so I can build our company a lovely new blog in Movable Type" is probably not going to work because he'll be all "Movable Wha?"  But seriously. I'm not going to be able to stand doing this for much longer.

The real nerdness in my life has been emanating around the clock from Phillip, who has been working since about six a.m. last Monday. He took a breather last night for dinner, but that's about all I've seen of him.

So last night I entertained myself by making Russian tea cakes (my grandmother's recipe calls them 'Melting Moments') and watching the 1992 episode of Reunion. (Which is cancelled. I hate it when they cancel shows before you know who killed who.) I thought about starting a cherry pound cake, but by then it was 9:45, a little late to be starting a brand new culinary experiment.

Instead I commenced the What Are We Going To Eat At The Christmas Party Freak Out. Which morphed into the No One Is Going To Show Up Freak Out and then the How Hard Is It To RSVP Freak Out.

Today I have skipped past the whole eating thing and gone straight to the drinking. Have any holiday cocktails to recommend?


A recap, a declaration of love and a quick retraction because I am fickle

We figgied and it was good.

There is something to be said for standing on a downtown street corner with a group of like-minded (and by "like-minded" I mean "crazy") folks and suddenly breaking into song at 6:15 p.m. in front of a group of strangers. (And even if the crowd was everyone else's friends and only strangers to me, it still counts.)

There is something to be said for throwing on a pink feather boa and prancing around with your sister to 'Santa Baby', in front of last year's president of the BaneOfMyExistence Organization and relishing how long it takes him to realize, "Hey, is that MAGGIE?"

There is something to be said for 963 carolers raising a crapload of money for a downtown low-income senior citizens center that happens to be doubling in size this year.

That something to be said might be: We are freakin' awesome. 

We skipped the awards ceremony this year, which is a hour's worth of thank yous and two minutes of performance highlights, and headed straight for our self-congratulatory drinks at the Westin. And can I just say that I am married to the most fabulous guy on earth? Mr. Classical Saxaphonist led us all through a medley of Santa Claus-ified oldies, played a beautiful street musician solo during 'New York State Of Mind' and kicked his voice up a few notches when the resident spotlight hog fell sick with laryngitis. Without Phillip we were just a bunch of loony people shouting about what Santa better bring us for Christmas.

*love*

And while I was shopping and eating cookie dough making Christmas cookies, poor Phillip was working. Work work work. He took some time out for Neighbor's thirtieth birthday party shindig at the bowling alley, but then it was back to the cavernous pit on the bottom floor of our house, also known as The Office or No Girls Allowed. Something about a deadline? This Friday? A big databasey project with godawful forms and report formatting? (The most frightening aspect of all this is that I UNDERSTOOD what he was working on. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?)

I went shopping. I wrapped presents. I ruined two cookie sheets when I used wax paper that melted. (Really. What is my problem? But I SWEAR I have successfully used wax paper instead of parchment before, I SWEAR.)

Oh, and in between we argued about where the Christmas tree was going to go. Because even though our house is bigger than our old apartment, there aren't a whole lot of options. Especially when one person absolutely insists on putting the tree in front of a window. And by "absolutely insists" I mean "pitches fourteen hissy fits and cries inconsolably, breaking the other person down tear by tear until he moves every piece of furniture to her liking."

Also, I realized that I am having a Christmas party this weekend. The invitations are out. People will probably show up. But I have no idea what we're going to eat or drink or where they're going to sit or, most importantly, what I'm going to WEAR. And if the party stinks we're all going to blame Phillip who wouldn't let me buy the copy of InStyle Parties in the grocery store rack. (He also wouldn't help decorate the tree. We're going to start calling him Ebenezer.) (Except for when he's slaying us with saxaphone. Then he's all right.)

Send your party tips to mightymaggieATgmailDOTcom!



Wherein I tell myself to break a leg

When I got home last night there was about an inch of snow in my postage-stamp sized yard. I will now be licking Steve Pool's shoes and writing a post dedicated to his frighteningly perfect hairline.

But it BETTER NOT snow tonight because if you are standing on a street corner singing made up words to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Barbara Ann" in front of many many strangers and pleading with them to fill your donation box with lots of dollars, you are NOT interested in getting snowed on. How am I supposed to keep track of my lines when it's snowing on my script? Get that Mother Nature?

I don't think I should be particularly worried about keeping track of my lines when we are pretty much laughing through them anyway. YOU sing about Santa Claus to the tune of "I Saw Her Standing There", complete with Paul McCartney mop top head shakes and try not to let out an unbecoming snort.

Also, the Director requested that I take over someone else's solo as he is having trouble remembering how it goes. And even though I don't know how it goes either, I asked the Director to call me and sing it to my machine. Which she did. But it's a rewritten line to "New York State of Mind" and I CAN'T GET IT. I don't have perfect pitch or anything like that, but I'm pretty good at remembering how to sing something. Except this. I cannot get this one right. I kind of sound like the unidentified group member who is assigned the second line of 'I Will Survive' and takes the group to a whole other key as she goes (in her kicky shoes). (Hi Becca!)

But my rooftop is not such a bad cliiiiiimb

But my rooftop is not SUCH a bad cliiiimb

But my rooftop isnotsuch a BAD cliiiiimb

GAH.

So I was telling this to Phillip last night. He listened to me sing it a few times and said, "Oh, you're doing a major third."

THAT'S when I should have immediately turned back to my internet shopping experience (more links! here and here and here!) and ended it right there. But no. I was all, "Ugh, you are a SNOB and a HALF." (Who said it?! Who said it?!)

So Phillip sang it a few times and each time it was WRONG. Which, of course, I couldn't help mentioning. But he only looked slightly perplexed and said, "But I think it's a minor third. That's what gives it the bluesy feel." And he sang it a few more times.

And I was thinking: "No it's NOT." But also, "If he is right I am so not going to admit it."

[Irritated Tangent About My Musically Gifted Husband: Phillip is the holder of two degrees, one of which is a degree in SAXAPHONE. Now who, I beg the Internet, gets a degree in a musical instrument? Who is not going to be a Concert Pianist or some such arty profession where you wear tuxedos to work? MY HUSBAND. And the music school required everyone to take piano classes and singing lessons, no matter what type of degree they were pursuing. So my husband now plays piano better than ME, who has taken piano lessons her ENTIRE LIFE, and spouts such obnoxiousness as, "Oh, you're singing a minor third!" I find it all extremely annoying, possibly because IT IS NOT FAIR.]

He said, "Sing it with me." And I swear, even with someone singing it right next to me, I could not get it right. It was a sad moment for me, someone with a terrible voice, but who at least can sing in tune. I saw my future, standing in the back at church, mumbling the songs to myself so as not to ruin the melodic experience of those around me.

So tonight, if you happen to venture downtown and come across a group of Sassy Santas (the group that's not singing Christmas songs and has absolutely no sense of shame), you may hear my offkey warbling: But my rooftop is nooot such a BAD cliiiiimb

Interestingly enough, I am not nervous at all. FANCY THAT. As someone who is nearly perpetually nervous for no good reason, this is quite shocking indeed. It helps that I am an Old Seasoned Pro, of course. I did start my stage and screen career at age five in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (which, I must add, is a wonderful Christmas book that everyone should be required to read before they die.) I am also thinking I will be too cold to care what I sound like. But it's fun! Christmassy downtown-in-the-city fun!

Thanks to everyone who gave money to the old folks- you all are divine- and thanks to everyone who's coming tonight to put the old folks money in our box- you will be divine in a few hours.

***UPDATED, 4:10 P.M. PACIFIC TIME***

Okay. NOW I'm nervous.


Upkeep

I have been a very dull very boring blogger lately. I have four or five posts rattling around in my head, but I when I go to type them out I sit there thinking, "No one wants to read this bombastic sanctimonious crap." Either that or "This is so not funny it's painful."

So. It is December first. DECEMBER. And we timid Seattleites are on High Alert as it is supposed to snow today. (It was supposed to snow yesterday and the day before that, but Seattle has yet to see any, so WHATEVER, Steve Pool.) And really, I am not making fun of timid Seattleites for I am their Elected Official For Life. When my boss told me that it might snow Monday night, I must have given him a look of Pure Terror because he immediately followed up with, "Just give me a call in the morning if you want a ride into work! It's okay! I'll pick you up!" And Internet, I commute to work in a four wheel drive sports utility vehicle.

Where did November go? I swear I was just cleaning my house for the murder mystery Halloween dinner party. And now I'm freaking out about where I'm going to put my Christmas tree.

And seriously: WHERE AM I GOING TO PUT MY CHRISTMAS TREE?

I finished my fourth batch of cookies last night. And I forgot my shopping list for the fifth batch's ingredients. I might have to actually spend Thursday night in front of my television. Did the Weavers get kicked off the Amazing Race yet?

Speaking of television, Lost was pretty good last night, no? If Walt is still with The Others, they're kinda slacking on their supervision.

Okay, this is what you get when I decide not to write the post about How Seasonal Depression Has Yet To Kick My Ass, So Take THAT Wicked Brain Chemistry or the post that picks up after Lee's post and slides into shrill strident rant-iness. Or the post about buying Christmas gifts (snore) or the post about What I Want To Be When I Grow Up Version 4,847,999 because we are ALL getting tired of those. I'm not lacking in material, just quality.

I really just want to put up something new. Hi, I'm here. I should be figuring out why I can't add a record if there are more than two related records (AUGH) but instead I'm shopping here and here and here. Let's all hope I come up with something smashing fun to write about tomorrow.

*UPDATE!*
How come I JUST found out about this? NaNoWriMo