Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Words

And if you need the *rest* of the the letter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Best Lesson in the Christian Faith I Ever Learned from a Buddhist

The Linguista and I recently found ourselves in one of our famous marathon parking lot discussions that occur when one of us drives the other to a mutual destination and then the return trip to pick up the car turns into a two-hour gab session that inevitably becomes deeply philosophical.

As we talked about relationships, I told her that I had to focus on being a better person and a better Christian before I troubled myself further to find the love of my life.

"Why are you so hard on yourself?" she asked. "I marvel at you every day."

I mumbled some sort of abashed thanks for the compliment but quickly turned back to my failings. All the ways I fall short of the glory of God that I should be focused on improving.

The Linguista, a Buddhist, asked if Christians were the ones who believe that we are made in the image of God, and I confirmed. "I read this part of your book," she said. "And I don't think it means that you have the face of God. Maybe you do. But I think it's that your soul is in the image of God. You have a God-shaped soul. And you have to find the beauty of God that's already in you."

I had never thought of being created in the image of God as more than a literal interpretation that we resembled God in some way. And as a Baptist, I've always been far more educated in the ways that I am not like God than in the ways that I am. But to think that, as she put it, I have a piece of God's soul, cleaved from the whole, makes me feel less like I am a broken thing in a constant state of repair and more like I have something amazing inside. And it makes sense to think of God desiring a relationship with a soul that is like Him, but this idea that God's soul was there all the time, is, well, to put it Buddhistly, enlightening.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dear a-Men:

I read your latest letter to Penelope with, per usual, an absolute sense of likewiseness. Of the sense that tradition clearly stems from the past, is carried into the present and seems rather moot in the face of a faceless future. How (and who - which I must point out is an anagram of "how" -) will it be toted forward if there are no small hands to reach for it? And not even one hand to reach for yours to make new tradition?

Christmas Eve started well enough with coffee with an old friend. But then, it was on to some rather joyless cooking. The chopping and stirring and measuring all seemed rather like a chore than a shared experience. Though we tried to laugh and infuse the egg peeling and pretzel smashing and vegetable boiling with yuletide brightness, it simply felt tired and dim.

We watched the Christmas Eve service on the internet rather than going because I just couldn't muster the energy to push everyone to go. And then we watched Prep & Landing, and it was lovely, but the theme of dissatisfaction and finding fulfillment just made me cry.

And then my brother called and wanted us to come down to his house before Santa's arrival on Christmas morning. But his in-laws were there, and the house doesn't really offer the room for four more adults to be added to the festivities and plus we don't open presents on Christmas day anymore because the in-laws are there and so we postpone until the New Year's weekend. This all led to serious Nana-guilt for my mother and envy-guilt for my sister and me who were having a hard enough time with this holiday season.

The call was a reminder of all the tradition lost and the way our Christmas has become this slippery ephemeral thing to be moved around on the calendar to accommodate everyone's schedule. It all leads to a half-hearted Christmas on both ends of the week - a Christmess if you will. And not only that but there was the reminder of children, of in-laws, of new celebrations and bright eyes and innocence and the kind of love that creates all those things that's decidedly missing from my life right now.

Even though it was snowing - my first white Christmas! - and the Christmas music played in the kitchen and there was a blue velvet birthday cake for Baby Jesus (because Dillon's favorite color is blue) and Reese woke up from her nap demanding "Ash'ey" and curled up in my lap all warm and cherubic for some TV time, there was still on the inside a void. A cold hollow that echoed with all the doubts about whether it will ever be different. Whether I will ever have my own warm cherub and strange desserts by request.

We ended the night by watching two horrible made-for-TV movies that somehow took the edge of bitterness off the day. If even the Hallmark movie could fail in holiday perfection, perhaps I should cut myself some slack.

Ah, M. Let us continue the advent celebration with the same sense of hope that Immanuel delivered to us. God is with us. And for now, that will have to be enough.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dear 2010:

Let me begin by saying I had high hopes for you. I wanted to give you a chance to be the Year of Great Things. But you made your choices and became the Year of Disaster instead. Even though you're in the death throes of your last week, I'm going to lay my litany of complaints at your door. Because I deserve to have my say.

Kudzu's illness and subsequent passing shaded the whole year. From February when I first noticed his weight loss to March when he first went to the doctor to June when he finally lost the fight. Pretty much the whole of you, 2010, was spent enduring the decline of my sweet furry friend or mourning his death. That's a lot of kleenex.

There was the house I bought in February that I still don't quite absolutely live in full time, a fact I lay entirely upon your doorstep, 2010. And just to add insult to injury, I remind you of the delightful $800 water bill that resulted from the running toilet in the guest bathroom and found its way to my mailbox the week after Kudzu died.

And speaking of that week, heartbreak just heaped on heartbreak when I once again found myself in the general vicinity of Singledom. My poor heart, already in shreds, took another hit when The Barrister and me parted ways. At that point, I pretty much emotionally flat-lined.

Just when I thought I might stop living every second on the Verge of Tears, I found out that a dear friend from high school had taken his own life. I felt guilty for failing to be in touch with him more recently than I had. And I felt his absence profoundly. Even as I worked to verify that the rumors were true, I knew their truth in my heart. He was gone. I struggled through the service and the drive home, filled with questions that had no answers.

Your July also brought my 31st birthday, a rather pitiful affair. A mere two weeks after Kudzu died, after D.'s death and The Barrister and me disintegrated, and I was not only getting older, I was alone. Until the end of the month when I was briefly kind-of-sort-of stalked by a loose-cannon photographer.

The next month, there was the news of the final demise of The Old Job and STGD suddenly finding himself unemployed after more than a decade of faithful employ. Even though I'd heard rumblings of its approach, the actual arrival of The End made me more sad than I anticipated. Somehow, it was like the last crumbling of the life I once lived.

In September, I was mistaken for a pregnant woman. Kill me now. And my pregnant friend Hilary gave birth far too early and had me in a vigil of prayer and concern. On a bright note - though don't think you're off the hook, 2010 - little Aubri is doing just fine.

By October, I was over you. Not over all the havoc you'd wreaked on my life, but totally. over. you. Dunzo.

Unfortunately, you were not through with me. Why else would I have suffered through not one but two embarrassing setbacks on the road to romantic recovery? I mean, really, 2010. Was the humiliation and EPIC FAIL really necessary at this point in the year? I guess you figured a time when I had no dignity left was as good a time as any to send me down into the dumps.

And finally, December arrived. The light at the end of this 12-month tunnel of darkness. But just to get in your last one-two punch, you decided to claim another friend of the family, sending me to the funeral home mid-month. And you managed to even taint my beloved job to the point that I was desperate for a vacation by the time the holidays rolled around.

In closing, I would like to bid you not adieu. Or farewell. Or even good riddance. I prefer instead to bid you get the hell gone and don't ever show your face around here again.

Love (yeah, right),

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Interoffice instant messaging

Texas Twin: I hate math.

Me: Math is evil

Me: Just like boys.

Me: So...boys are math?

Texas Twin: And girls are...calculators?

Texas Twin: But that would mean we could figure out boys.

Me: Which we cannot.

Me: I'm going to start a band called Boys are Math