Old Year, New Year

The new year is coming rather rapidly. In the waning hours of 2008, though, I have to admit myself awed by the old year. It was perhaps the fullest of my thirty years, carrying a vast emotional range that still overwhelms me as I look back.

Dad-gum it, I’m actually crying.

Apt descriptors for the year of our Lord 2008, in my life, include beautiful and arduous, poignant and brilliant, thrilling and painful. And stressful—and glorious.

Most of the main causes have gotten at least a brief mention here. Not all. But there are only two hours left in the old year and I’d like to be asleep for part of them. No, I am not planning to stay up; the fireworks and shouting will likely waken me at midnight, though, perhaps for long enough to say a quick prayer of thanks and petition over both years.

New Year’s resolutions seem to have fallen out of vogue; only a couple of people have even mentioned them in my hearing. Last year, I didn’t make any. Without intending to make a fine list of goals for the purpose of forgetting them all by the fourth of January, however, there are a few things I’d like to accomplish in 2009. I want to write—to keep up this blog more, create new songs, and return to my long-loved fiction, where I hear the worlds of faerie calling. I’d like to do more recording. I want to get more exercise and lay off the stress, hopefully to get some of my once-strong health back. And maybe at some point God will consider it time to give me the gift for which I’ve begged him, quite shamelessly, since my wedding.

Time in great increments is a fearsome thing to stare in the face and usually much less imposing to look back upon. I don’t know what this annual giant holds, but I’ll take it as it comes. Starting with tomorrow.

Happy New Year, everyone.


New Article

I've got a new article up on Silhouette today! This one's about one of my favorite, favorite pastimes: re-reading. And in case you want to know which of the books mentioned at the end made it off the shelf first, it was Austen's Persuasion. I finished it again tonight, and couldn't even guess at the number of times I've read it through.


My Husband

... is brilliant.

This piece of his on what has been lost in the removal of the word "Christmas" from Christmas is both thought-provoking and hilarious. It's well worth the read. Among other great lines:

"... it was the left that changed "Happy Holidays" from a synonym for "Merry Christmas" to a political antonym--the Yuletide equivalent of "Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries"."

* * *

He's also good to me. Tonight he took me to see Twilight in the theaters. As a general rule, he doesn't like movies much. I didn't think he would like this one, and wasn't even sure I would--two reads through all four books have left me a lot of appreciation for the story (and enjoyment of it!) but still some mixed/uncertain feelings about parts of it.

As it turned out, we both really liked the movie. A lot. I'd like to write more, but would be here all night trying to think my way through it--for now, I'll just say that it was well written, well acted, and very well filmed. Special props to Stephenie Meyer for having a cameo in her own movie. And the cinematography exquisitely captured the look and feel of the Pacific Northwest (the story is set in Forks, WA, over on the Olympic peninsula.) I'll have to post more later about both books and film.

Best movie I've seen in the theaters in a very, very long time, though! I could definitely be tempted to see it again. But oh! if you go, and one of the trailers on the front begins with a woman talking on her cell phone and listening to her baby monitor: cover your ears, close your eyes, and count to sixty at least twice. Believe me. You do NOT want to see that preview.


I’ve seen 67 out of 239 films

We have more snow here, and cold--it's in the 20s today, but has been in the teens for the early part of this week. It looks like Christmas. I love Christmas, but I'm not fond of the cold. It makes me miss summer--sitting on rocks by the bay, dangling my feet in the water; bright sunshine and blue and green life everywhere; flowers and short-sleeve shirts and my skort; reading books under trees. I miss summer very much.

* * *

Whether it's narcissistic or just juvenile, I'm not certain, but I've a hard time resisting this sort of thing.

I quote Greg Willits here:

"SUPPOSEDLY if you’ve seen over 85 [of these] films, you have no life. Mark the ones you’ve seen. There are 239 films on this list. Copy this list, go to your own Facebook account or website, paste this as a note or blog entry. Then, put X’s next to the films you’ve seen, add them up, change the header adding your number, and click post at the bottom. Have fun."

() Rocky Horror Picture Show
() Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
() Boondock Saints
() Fight Club
() Starsky and Hutch
() Neverending Story
() Blazing Saddles
() Airplane
Total: 2

(x) The Princess Bride
() Anchorman
(x) Napoleon Dynamite

() Labyrinth
() Saw
() Saw II
() White Noise
() White Oleander
() Anger Management
(x) 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
(x) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total: 5

() Scream
() Scream 2
() Scream 3
() Scary Movie
() Scary Movie 2
() Scary Movie 3
() Scary Movie 4
() American Pie
() American Pie 2
() American Wedding
() American Pie Band Camp
Total: 0

(x) Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
() Resident Evil 1
() Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
(x) Little Black Book
() The Village
() Lilo & Stitch
Total: 6

(x) Finding Nemo
(x) Finding Neverland
() Signs
(x) The Grinch
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
() White Chicks
() Butterfly Effect
(x) 13 Going on 30
() I, Robot
() Robots
Total: 4

() Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
() Universal Soldier
() Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
() Along Came Polly
() Deep Impact
() KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
() Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
Total: 2

(x) A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
() The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
() Dumber & Dumberer
() Final Destination
() Final Destination 2
() Final Destination 3
() Halloween
() The Ring
() The Ring 2
() Surviving X-MAS
(x) Flubber
Total: 4

() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
() Ghost Ship
() From Hell
() Hellboy
() Secret Window
(x) I Am Sam
() The Whole Nine Yards
() The Whole Ten Yards
Total: 2

() The Day After Tomorrow
() Child’s Play
() Seed of Chucky
() Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
(x) Just Married
() Gothika
() Nightmare on Elm Street
() Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
(x) Coach Carter
() The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
() The Mask
() Son Of The Mask
Total: 4

() Bad Boys
() Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
() Lucky Number Slevin
(x) Ocean’s Eleven
(x) Ocean’s Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity
() Bourne Supremacy
() Lone Star
() Bedazzled
() Predator I
() Predator II
() The Fog
(x) Ice Age
() Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
() Curious George
Total: 4

() Independence Day
() Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
() Christine
() ET
() Children of the Corn
() My Bosses Daughter
(x) Maid in Manhattan
() War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
Total: 3

() Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
() She’s All That
() Calendar Girls
() Sideways
() Mars Attacks
() Event Horizon (Note courtesy of Greg: Most Evil Movie EVER - DO NOT WATCH)
(x) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
() Big Trouble in Little China
() The Terminator
() The Terminator 2
() The Terminator 3
Total: 4

(x) X-Men
(x) X-2
(x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man
() Spider-Man 2
() Sky High
() Jeepers Creepers
() Jeepers Creepers 2
(x) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday (the original only!)
() Reign of Fire
(x) The Skulls
() Cruel Intentions
() Cruel Intentions 2
() The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
() Shrek 2
Total: 9

() Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
() Old School
() The Notebook
() K-Pax
() Krippendorf’s Tribe
(x) A Walk to Remember
() Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
() The 40-year-old Virgin
Total: 2

(x) Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings: Return Of the King
() Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
() Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 4

() Baseketball
() Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
() Highlander
() Mothman Prophecies
() American History X
() Three
Total: 1

() The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
() Shaolin Soccer
() Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
() Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard
Total: 2

() High Tension
() Club Dread
() Hulk
() Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
() 28 days later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
() Waterworld
Total: 2

() Kill Bill vol 1
() Kill Bill vol 2
() Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
() Kingdom of Heaven
() the Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
() Army of Darkness
Total: 0

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x)Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
() Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total: 6

(x) The Matrix
() The Matrix Reloaded
() The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
() Evil Dead
() Evil Dead 2
() Team America: World Police
() Red Dragon
() Silence of the Lambs
() Hannibal
Total: 1

And the rules continue:

"Now add them up and… Put “I’ve seen [however many] out of 239 films” in the subject line and repost it on Facebook or your blog. And for that matter, leave a comment here on our website and let us know how many you’ve seen!"

I've seen 67 of these, most of them quite cheerfully. A few of them I could have definitely done without. The Matrix, for instance, and Meet the Parents. But I do have a life. It's official. We all know how trustworthy these internet quizzes are! It's the Internet! Don't talk to me about arbitrary.


Christmas Decorating 2008 and other stories

My knee hurts. I just pulled off a spectacular wipe-out on the kitchen floor--full-body impact--due to an unfortunate combination of fuzzy socks and linoleum. The negative part of being as tall as I am (well, this and towering over half of the men on the planet and almost all women) is how far one has to fall.

The fuzzy socks were a necessity today; it's very, very cold. But that's part of a longer story.

* * *

Christmas decorating, for Lou and I, began last Sunday with my parents. My whole immediate family was there, and we succeeded beautifully at the usual ornament-packed tree and not so well with the chocolate donuts (we couldn't find the original recipe and the new one just wasn't as good.) I missed the usual stuffed-snowball fight. This made me feel sorry for myself, but Lou did stuff one of those snowballs down my shirt, so I didn't completely lose the experience.

Decorating continued with a busy Thursday and Friday at work, and our department has now won the company Christmas decorating competition for the fourth year running. We win because we don't think it's half so much fun if we aren't part of the decorations. This year our theme was "Night at the Christmas Museum" and my responsibilities included calling the manager on his cell phone so he could pick it up and say "Buddy the Elf! What's your favorite color?", dancing to the Linus and Lucy theme in the Charlie Brown Christmas exhibit, and leading the angel choir that sang from the loft as the judges looked on my team leader and her new baby dressed up as Mary and Jesus.

The winning department was announced at the Christmas party last night in Ferndale. Lou and I sang in the company choir there, me in the soprano section and he with the basses. The choir is one of the highlights of my year. Our closing number was a medley that started with Vivaldi's Gloria and ended in the last part of the Hallelujah chorus.

I had planned to wear my short-sleeved black cocktail dress to the party, but it was getting so cold out that I changed my mind and wore a glittery red shirt and ankle-length black wool skirt. This proved to be a wiser decision than I could have expected. We arrived an hour early to practice, and the growing wind held an uproarious little gala in my carefully-arranged hair. When we left four hours later, the wind was driving powdery snow in sharp, white, level horizontal lines across the parking lot.

Usually the worst of the weather can be found north of the Bellingham airport, but when we got south of that exit on the freeway, the raise in temperature and slackened winds meant bigger flakes and more snow sticking to the road. We passed at least one car in the ditch as we neared town, and the road got more and more slippery.

We went straight to Mom and Dad St. Hilaire's, planning to decorate the tree at their house since Andy and Lindsey were in town. They live in a somewhat more level part of town than we do, but it was still challenging getting there and we did bounce off a curb at one point. Andy and Lindsey, coming from a wedding in another part of town, must have had some major protection by guardian angels; they hit a patch of ice and slid into another car that had spun out from the same patch. When we arrived at Lou's parents', Andy and Lindsey had just arrived and Lindsey was almost in tears. I'm sure the full story will go up on their blog, but the short form is that the other driver had been crazy enough to get out of her car and had only just gotten back in; had they been a few seconds earlier, their car would have pinned her to hers.

Mom and Dad S. invited us to stay the night. Lindsey begged us not to go, and neither of us particularly wanted to try the route home before it got good and sanded down, so we decorated the St. Hilaire tree and had a fun impromptu slumber party. Mom and Dad provided us with everything from warm pajamas to new toothbrushes. The howling wind made everything seem colder, so Lou and I, staying in his siblings' old bedroom, instead of sleeping in twin beds like in 1960s TV shows, and instead of pushing a couple of those beds together, climbed into one twin bed. We slept in awhile this morning, had a comfort-food breakfast--sausage souffle, English muffins with sorghum and marshmallow fruit salad--and went to church together in the icy sunshine, and Lou and I finally headed home on sanded streets.

This afternoon I took a nap and Lou wrote a letter to the editor, and then we decorated our own first Christmas tree:

We had a great time putting up the decorations, he taking the traditionally male role of stringing the lights and me unwrapping the ornaments and setting them out as both of our moms do. Starting our own traditions is all the more fun because we're drawing them from his family's, my family's, or both. And it felt good to be quiet and homey together; the fitting end to a happy and adventurous weekend.



I should blog more often. Blogging is good. Blogging is much more fun than being busy.

* * *

Thanksgiving, of course, was a good kind of busy. Lou and I spent time with both of our families and still had some time in the weekend to relax at home. That, in and of itself, was much to be thankful for, but I also had him, and I could never be too thankful for my husband.

* * *

Back in the spring I served as a judge for a local private academy's writers' conference. I read something like twenty-five plays. The school gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card as a thank-you, so Lou and I braved the crowds on Black Friday and had some fun. I bought Brian Jacques' Redwall (the first book in the series) and ordered in John Granger's Deathly Hallows Lectures.

Thus far I have not managed to get very far into Redwall; a problem which can be blamed on Stephenie Meyer and two of my friends. I picked up the first book in Meyer's Twilight Saga in a bookstore awhile back, flipped it over, read the little excerpt and burst out laughing. Had it not been for Briana and Leigh, I don't think I'd have ever read the books, but Leigh talked me into listening to part of the first book, after which I of course had to know the ending. Briana mailed me her copies so I could read them without having to get on the immensely long library waiting list.

I really really really want to post a good long review of the books here, but that's going to take some time and thought. Right now I'm still on my second trip through book 3, and I have the same mixed feelings I had on the first trip through. Those feelings are gradually separating and clarifying, though, and should eventually distill into something expressible.

Granger's book almost stopped me blogging tonight. I may email him and beg to be allowed to proofread his next book before it goes to press, but his ideas are positively enthralling and I'm not even past the stuff I already knew.

* * *

Speaking of books, I've recently had a run-in with the worst set of Bible commentaries ever. They contain an appalling combination of bad doctrine, strange ideas, pompous proclamations, and--worst of all--horrific grammar and spelling (he actually talked about 'concrete examples' of God 'damming' people, which sounded a lot more like my old Swiftwater Rescue class than a theological exposition.) Listening to the guy talk about Catholicism is like listening to someone who, having heard a Londoner speak the King's English, automatically assumed that 'the bush' meant the shrubbery on the front lawn.

He has tempted me greatly to make fun of him in various ways. And I admit that I haven't managed to resist the chance to fuss, rather laughingly, to family and friends about his work. But I wonder what, for me, would be the most appropriate response to a guy like this. After all, he calls himself a Christian (although he would certainly say I'm headed for hell if I don't repent of my membership in the apostate church.)

What is the right way to treat, especially in a public forum, Christians with whom I disagree? And should someone who gives fundamentalism a bad name get the same treatment as someone like Biden or Pelosi, whose views on abortion are in direct contradiction with the very clear teachings of the church in which they hold membership? Can I attack untruth without attacking its purveyors? Should I?

I see different philosophies about this in action across the web, and until I challenged the Harry Potter Alliance on their extreme anti-Proposition 8 stance, I didn't really think about it much. But discussion with a member of the HPA and various commenters, hearing the way they think about Christians, and becoming aware of the vast difference between their narratives and mine, has sickened me a little on confrontation between Christians. Because some of what I hear from Christians—even people who believe much like I do politically—is almost a pander to those who hate Christianity, a "We're not like those Christians" attitude that cuts back at errant or dissenting brothers.

This bothers me; it's much more than a simple "THAT guy is off his rocker" statement about this or that public Christian. And I think I'm guilty of it myself, perhaps less in the blogosphere than in my own thoughts and words. I don't know. What I do know is that tonight, I can't mock that author publicly by name. Maybe it would just be calling a spade a spade. Or maybe not. I'd like to straighten out his thinking, and I certainly don't appreciate his arrogance, but in the end I guess I just hope he really is my brother. A mixed-up one, yes--but we've all got somebody in our family who is more than a little nuts.

Yes, a lot of Christians believe some very bizarre things, and no, I'm not afraid to admit that some of them may even be "real" Christians. But atheists and Wiccans and pseudo-Buddhists, etc., are just as goofy. I'm glad to call myself a Christian even in the company of a few weirdos. We Jesus freaks aren't the only ones who need to question our narratives.