Saturday, December 24, 2005

I’m Dreaming of a Pink-and-Purple, Polka-Dotted Xmas

So maybe 4 hours before Xmas Day is a little late for the de rigueur pre-xmas post, but I’ve been collecting tidbits for over a week, so it averages out.

Every year, I manage to slide a few more tacky xmas decorations past my husband. This is the man who came into our marriage thinking multi-colored lights were tacky. Oh, silly man. I let D.D. put the ornaments and the silver tinsel on the tree, so everything is lopsided and clumpy. L.H. complained, but he who is too lazy to fix, must endure. Personally, I like it; it reminds me of the fringe on a go-go dancer’s dress. I’ve already bought some red and gold tinsel for next year. My ultimate goal is bubble lights.

I have to draw the line at animatronic xmas decorations, though. I mean, if you want to scare people, why not cut to the chase and hire a clown? A shop in our village has a full-sized Santa outside its door, facing the street. Santa’s head turns left and right, watching you go by. And a pharmacy in town has three little angels in the window, playing trumpets and turning either side to side or bowing. Baby angel musician robots. Eek.

Another mind-boggling decorating misstep I saw in town was in the same window with the headless angels I mentioned previously. Behind the mannequins, some deranged person has hung deer heads—deer heads made of white plaster soaked in iridescent glitter. (Iridescence is another point on which L.H. and I disagree, he being for, and I against.)

But it’s not just the shops getting in on the decorating madness. (But compared to back in Texas, you might not call it mad at all.) One family down the street has a Santa climbing a rope ladder up the size of their house, another lounging on a window ledge, and a third in an old-world style robe standing behind the railing around their terrace, which makes him appear to be trapped in a play pen. Most people (if they put up a Santa at all) would be satisfied with just one Santa.

My sister-in-law’s family has a fun tradition I wish I could participate in: they try to find the ugliest possible wrapping paper. One year her sister skunked the whole family with *Hulk* xmas paper. I thought I might be in the running with Shrek paper I found at the Toys R Us (in this color scheme), but then it occurred to me that “Eat, Stink, and Be Scary” isn’t specifically holiday-themed. And Shrek and Donkey weren’t wearing Santa hats like the Hulk. Rats.

L.H. and I have a typical xmas shopping arrangement: I buy, wrap, and ship all of the presents for the whole family, including D.D., and he shops for me. And as usual, he started about the time I finished. But we were both finished far enough in advance that there was no need to enter a shop at all on xmas eve (which may not even be possible in these parts).

So that was the pre-xmas blather. I wish all my loved ones a happy, healthy (especially LilSis and her brood), restful, and safe holiday.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Nee and Rudolph are Goin’ Down in History

Today, I officially became the last American to set foot in a Starbucks. And I didn’t even burst into flames! But I didn’t drink coffee, so I’ll still be the last person to drink Starbucks coffee if I get around to it before I die.

I had made plans to meet a classmate for tea this morning, and since I didn’t have all afternoon to hang out (her first suggestion was going to her place on the far south side of town; I live on the far north side of town), she suggested Starbucks. It was terribly crowded, but we got the last two seats in the farthest nook.

And that’s about all there was to it. It was ok as far as coffee houses go. I do have to mention that I’d been looking for xmas music for my old man, and after popping into 4 or 5 shops in the shopping district, I found basically what I had been looking for *at the counter at Starbucks.* American commercialism strikes again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Now that I'm actually doing it, I feel kind of lame blogging a photo of a felt tree skirt. But this is a felt tree skirt that I *made*, and it only took 5 years or so. That might be some kind of record for my entire family. Posted by Picasa

The Good, the Bad, and the Pissy

By the time we got to school this morning, I was ready to boot D.D. out of the car as I sped past the building. I would have sold her to the first Gypsy to wander by, but no self-respecting Gypsy would pay good money for her the way she was acting.

Today is the last day of school before the holidays, so I’m hoping she straightens up before we’re trapped at home with her for a couple of weeks. Otherwise I may turn hamster and eat her.

She was in a perfectly good mood yesterday. Of course, what 8-year-old wouldn’t be: she got to eat lunch at McD (blech—it totally tore the ass out of me), go on a toy shopping spree *for herself* at Toys R Us, ride the carousel at the xmas market, and go ice skating. She made me so proud in the department store: “Mom, that scarf is *so* tacky.” The scarf in question was knit in lengthwise stripes in magenta, acid green, turquoise, and brown, and all but the turquoise stripes were garnished with matching fur. That’s my girl!

D.D. has got the German slang down, so L.H. and I are always learning something new from her. In English, if you don’t have a special interest in something, you can say, “It’s all the same to me.” In German, you can add either “fart” (grade-schoolers) or “shit” (everyone else) to that phrase, which gives it a certain flavor not easily translated into English.

Her English is also developing an unusual slant, thanks to the gentle warping from her parents. She often declares that she has to “take a whiz” (1) on the “terlet”; when she’s cold, she needs a “blanklet.” I’m almost positive she got that last one from her younger cousin K.E., although she can’t recall now.

(1) From the game introduced on Ren and Stimpy: Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence (sample track 13 here).

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ode to My Friend

My best friend since the sixth grade has also caught the bloggin’ bug, and I’ve been enjoying seeing her life in more detail than had previously been possible from seven time zones away. But imagine my surprise to read this about myself. Although she might have overdone it a wee bit *grin*, it really touched me. And although I know I will not be able to do her justice in mere words, I want to tell WestTexGirl here just how much she means to me. (1)

We went through most of our teenage firsts together: first dance, first boyfriend, first heartbreak. We weren’t clones of one another; we had interests apart—WTGirl managed the girls’ sports teams in junior high, and homemaking against my inclination—but the differences never served to split us up, just to make us each more well-rounded. And they didn’t prevent us from spending hours on the phone every evening after spending all day at school together. One reason I was such a reasonably well-behaved teen was that my parents threatened to take away the phone as a punishment for rule-breaking. What would I ever do without at least 10 hours of contact with my best friend every day?! And we somehow always had something to talk about.

I spent my last night before driving the four hours to start university the next day with her—first at the Kettle until midnight, drinking hot cocoa, then standing in my driveway for a couple more hours, not wanting to say goodbye. Despite the distance, we managed to stay in touch and see each other semi-regularly. And at each visit, we picked up right where we left off, as if there had never been a separation or major changes in each of our lives.

We used to joke about being on the same brain wave, but now I realize it was probably all WTGirl. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in need of a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on, and the phone rang, or there was a “thinking of you” email from her in my inbox. Even with hundreds of miles between us. And it’s not just her timing; she always knows the exact right thing to say. She is tactful and warm, and a compliment from WTGirl is like a bear hug.

She is also wonderfully supportive. Many is the time I’ve had an ass-headed idea, when my normally supportive husband looks at me like he’s trying to decide on the best institution to have me committed to, but WTGirl enthusiastically cheers me on, although with a helping of advice and common sense so I don’t go immediately down in flames.

Part and parcel with her supportiveness is her fierce loyalty to her friends and her generous heart. There are a lot of us she could have given up on as being too far away or too busy with our own silliness, but she doesn’t. For example, when one of her friends recently had twins as a single mother, WTGirl could have said, “I’d love to help, but I have a full-time job, and a family of my own” (including a toddler and a stubborn little 8-year-old). Instead, she became this friend’s main lifeline, even more so than her own mother: she took her to the doctor, took care of a million tiny details while she was on bed rest, even accompanied her into the delivery room, and she was there when her babies came home.

The flip side of being friends with WTGirl is that you always wonder if you’ll ever live up to such a high standard of friendship. But I like to think that I am benefiting from her example.

She is also a super-smart lady. You have to take what she said in her blog entry with a grain of salt. This woman teaches ANATOMY, people. I would never in a million years be able to remember everything she does; I get to “the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,” and then I’m lost. And she manages to deal with college-aged students and not go on a killing spree. Tact. Patience. She’s got them both in aces.

And she is eloquent. You should read her entry on our home town. I promise you, no one else could make it sound so good. The Chamber of Commerce should be cutting her a check. She sees the good no one else sees, and she can translate it so the rest of us start to get it.

I am proud that she still thinks I am worthy of her friendship, because it is something worth having.

(1) Lovely Husband has pointed out that this is something only women would do. The last two message he received from his best friend from high school were a birth announcement for his second child (typed by his wife, I think) and an evil, gloating missive on the occasion of George Bush’s reelection. To say nothing of the porn.