December 26, 2010

this is a christmas card

Welcome to my Christmas Card and consequently, well look at that, my blog! I realize I am late, that Christmas has past, but I'm me. I wouldn't want to confuse anyone by being on time for something.

to those nearest & dearest to my heart, etc. & so on & so forth:

left to right: me, Santa, Cristy
I hope you all are enjoying the magic of the holiday season as much as I am. I look forward to this season all year; the season where cooking with pumpkin is once again acceptable, when people put horribly tacky lights and things on their homes, when I can listen to Mariah Carey's Christmas Album and watch Jim Henson's Christmas Toy without shame, when I can unabashedly stay home and make crafts on a Saturday night - because it's all in the name of Christmas! And no one can argue with Christmas!

I thought I'd catch you up on the past year ever so briefly, as Christmas letters are wont to do.
Here are the highlights:

I traveled to weddings, bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, and graduations. I was a maid of honor. I threw a killer Halloween party with my three sweet roomies. My purse was stolen. I decided I believe in Unicorns. I was loved extravagantly and beyond what I deserve. I found, lost, laughed, criedhealed a little some places, healed a lot other places, and learned more than I know what to do with. I perfected a karaoke duet, finally had tea at the Brown Palace, started wearing red lipstick, and my hair got real long. I saw 7 incredible concerts (don't know how 2011 is going to top that), sang a lot of karaoke, baked a lot of funfetti, and had a lot of fun with a lot of really wonderful people. I think I understand the meaning of Christmas, too.

I worked as an office assistant for a Hedge Fund, a sales associate at J.Crew, a sitter of sorts, and even did a short stint with the Leukemia & Lymphoma society working on their Light the Night Walk. All the while writing innumerable cover letters, updating my resume daily, and applying for any and all jobs here in Denver. The search continues! Despite the fact that life is not perfect, that I still don't have a job and I am still in transition and I still have a ton to figure out, I feel thankful to reach the end of 2010 and tell you that I am happy. I am free-er than I have ever been, I have a great life, and I'm happy. That is great.

One gift of transition is that I have found that I love to write. I have taken the liberty to link you above to some posts from the past year if you are interested in hearing more about any of the aforementioned topics of great importance. I read it recently from another jobless blogger: "I blog because I love writing and, since there hasn't been an occupational opportunity, this is what I do." She goes on, and so will I: I write because I love it, and this is how I can keep doing it. I offer no deep analysis of the human condition and my posts are not about politics or anything of any importance at all (sometimes). "They're just me."

I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I want to offer you a special Christmas/New Years surprise. There are not many things I brag about, really, but if there is one thing that I am confident about in my life (other than my talent for doing voices) it is my ability to make a great mix CD. Seriously, and I don't say this lightly, but it is something I feel I really excel at. As such, if you become a follower of this blog (by going to the right side and clicking "follow") I will burn you your very own mix CD. I don't care who you are, or if I know you, or even if I like you. Follow the blog, send me an email with your address, and you will get a CD in the mail. Like magic. Available until supplies last. Or until I get tired of burning CD's.

I'll be here all year, folks. finding, losing, laughing, crying and writing about all of it.

wishing you all a 2011 filled with funfetti cupcakes, karaoke to your heart's content, red lipstick,
and every so often (if you're lucky) a piƱa colada in the shower.


December 19, 2010

Emmanuel, Barnabas?

I grew up with the Amy Grant & Mariah Carey Christmas CD's as staples for the month of December. I remember that on the day after Thanksgiving, Mom would drive Thomas and I to Kansas City to see Nana, etc, and it was on that day each year that we broke out the Christmas tunes. I would sing "All I Want for Christmas is yoooooou baaaaaaaby" until my throat hurt. I really like music in general, and I really like that Christmas music is only for a special period of time once a year. Nothing makes me crave something quite like telling me I can only have it for a month of the year does.

Just as a funny aside, when I was a wee one, I loved the Amy Grant version of "Emmanuel, God With Us," but I genuinely thought for most of my childhood that the words were "Emmanuel, Barnabas." (Before you judge me, sing it. It sounds right.) I can just hear me, 9ish years old, singing my little heart out. And I can just hear Thomas, 3 years my junior and know-it-all-y as can be, "ARE YOU SAYING BARNABAS? Mom, listen! Megan thinks its Barnabas!!!" Then I probably hit him and we both more than likely cried, but I'm just guessing here.

Not much has changed about much, including the fact that I often am mistaken about the meaning of things. (And Thom is usually there to correct me, but that's another story for another time.) Now, I can't say I've ever really been searching for the "meaning of Christmas," at least not the way they do in Lifetime Original Movies or Hallmark specials, but nevertheless, I think I finally get it. I think this is a big deal. Really big, actually. Bigger than I have words to describe, in fact, which is the kind of thing that I find at once both frustrating and delightful.

In church last Sunday we talked about Emmanuel. Just like I once thought Amy Grant was singing about a guy with a funny name, I don't think I really understood Emmanuel until last Sunday. The concept that God is here, with us, is hard. Lots of bad things happen. God is there? It is hard for me to believe that in the past two years of loss and suck that God was here. I hear so many people cry out in their pain, where is God? Why hasn't God shown up? Our pastor pointed out that more often than not, those three words are uttered as a question in desperation. Far less often are we sure of it.

Christmas doesn't just bring the answer to those, our most personal pleading - it is the answer. Baby Jesus is Good News. He shall be called Emmanuel, which means "God with us." The babe didn't erase our pain or guarantee us a life free from sadness, loss, rejection, hurt, loneliness, addiction, anger, or resentment which I think sometimes is what I expect "God is here" to look like. But alas, Christmas doesn't signify that we won't have to deal with that stuff. And really, how much more powerful - personal - is a God who does not remove our pain but steps right into it with us. I don't know. Some days this makes more sense to me than others, but right now, I feel it in my very bones. Emmanuel is not a question. It is a promise that's been kept.

There are times, not often mind you, when I get a feeling that I like so much that I wish I could bottle it up and give it away. I don't mean to imply that I have a monopoly on warm fuzzies or that you are not capable of getting it yourself. Probably even more, I'd like to save it for myself for the days when my bones feel less sure of things. I want to take it off like a jacket and give it to the people I know who feel sure of nothing right now other than that life is hard, because I was there and it was awful.

It is possible that being there was the only way I could get to this place, though. It is possible that I had to be there in order to really, finally, fully feel the peace I felt last Sunday when I heard that God is here.
It's not a question, it's an answer.

December 10, 2010

vacation angst [why I'm thrilled I'm not 15 anymore]

My family is going on vacation for Christmas, and as a result, a certain tale has resurfaced and I have been taking a lot of heat as a result. I figured it best to address it here, publicly, and then perhaps said story will lose its luster and everyone can move on with their lives. And stop making fun of me. Doubtful, but worth a shot.

We've all done things that we regret. 
Things that, if we could go back, we might do differently. 
Things that, in retrospect, are embarrassing. 

That thing for me is the Disney trip. Ten years ago.

First of all, in my defense, I was fifteen. Let's be fair. Characteristically and by very definition, fifteen-year-old girls are on the brink of hysteria at all times. I can't help it if this cycle of teen angst was set in motion just in time for the plane to leave Wichita, KS on the fateful first morning of Spring Break 2000, can I? No. I cannot. Hormones are to blame.

So it is the morning of our departure, and per usual I am jolted awake by my parents' voice on the intercom. I learned early on that with this intercom system, all I had to do each morning was SOUND awake. I didn't actually have to BE awake, but as long as I could muster one or two alert sentences, I was good to sleep for another 15 minutes or so. And what's more, in the morning, I am not smart. Nothing productive happens in my brain until about 34 minutes after the initial alarm goes off. This particular morning was no exception. On either count. 

As the story goes, when everyone else was hopping in the car for the airport, I was still slumbering soundly in my bed. I was discovered, in bed, unprepared for departure - the fury and panic in my mother's eyes will be forever burned in my memory. After attempting unsuccessfully to feel satisfied with my atypically unkempt appearance, I was ready. Tearfully utilizing my best theatrics, I headed out the door to a car full of sleepy, probably angry family members.

I vividly recall being pissed the entire week. Honestly, I have no explanation for it. I spent a lot of the time avoiding rides that scared me (which was, as it were, most of them) and being generally ridiculous. My niece who was 5 at the time commented that she remembered me being upset about a hair-braid situation somewhere along the line. Thanks for throwing me under the bus, there, Em. I'm pretty sure (and I only tell this because if I don't someone else will) that I insisted on getting the aforementioned braids and then pitched a fit because I didn't like them. My sweet little niece is now 16, and mark my words, when she has her inevitable meltdown on our upcoming vacation, I'm going to listen and nod my head sympathetically. I will tell her I understand, been there, felt that. 

And then, when she least expects it, at the ripe old age of 25, I WILL BRING IT BACK. 
I'm kidding, relax, I am a very nice aunt actually. I will probably be the only one who stands up for her. I will probably laugh a little bit... until they start talking about me again. I can hear my hypothetical children now: "Mommy, is Nena right? Were you crazy?"

Here are some personal rules I came up with to ensure that our trip will not be a repeat disaster:

1. No braids. I don't care how cute they looked on that girl in Teen Vogue that one time.
2. No skipping rides/activities for fear's sake. Even if it terrifies me and I am basically catatonic for an hour following, at least no one will mock me for skipping things that they've deemed "fun." 
3. No oversleeping. I'm setting 5 alarms and telling all 3 roommates to make sure I'm awake.
a. And not just that I sound awake, but actually am awake. 
b. Maybe shower the night before, just in case of mishaps.
4. Laugh at above story, which will inevitably be brought up at least twice daily on upcoming trip.
a. Cry in the shower if you have to. Don't let them see you break down.
b. Obtain a solid number of embarrassing tales about everyone just in case.
5. Wine. (This is the key option that was missing when I was 15!)

It may also help that I am sort of a grownup now. But in case it doesn't, and upon entering vacation mode I revert to my true inner teenager, I will have those rules in my back pocket. 

Puerto Vallarta, here we come!