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Archive for December, 2008

Kitchen Sink

It’s four am on Thursday and I’m waiting for my iPod to sync. I feel like I should be doing something more productive than watching the progress bar in iTunes slowly go gray from left to right. It’s taking FOREVER.

I figured I’d write something for the blog, seeing as how I whined about missing it for two weeks. Wouldn’t you know …now that I have unfettered access I can’t think of anything to write. I could whine about doing laundry or having insomnia, but those strike me as the blog equivalent of a stand-up comedian doing jokes about airline food.

In reorganising my office the other day I found a poster I won from Kerry Woo in a blog-related contest. It’s quite cool; I meant to get it framed back when I won it but didn’t have the money. I also have a poster I bought from AllPosters. I do think that there should be a rule about that store. Once you’re 30, you shouldn’t buy from them anymore, seeing as how everything they have is pretty much designed to give flair to the average dorm room. Seeing as my office is half dorm room and half nine-year-old’s play area I figured I was okay to get the Berlin Wall poster with the Pink Floyd quote on it. Yes, I realise that’s about as dorm-room cliche as it gets, but seeing as how “Mother” is my favourite Pink Floyd song and I have a deeply personal connection with the Berlin Wall I figured I’d spring for it anyway.

Entertainment Weekly has introduced a new feature in the Books section where they show a photograph of a writer’s workspace. The fellow chosen for this most recent issue is the author of some biographies. He has a very serious and very clean desk which overlooks Central Park. I figured if I ever finish my books, get published and get noticed by EW it’ll be a bad thing for my desk to be featured. My workspace lacks the Serious Writer gravitas they seem to be aiming for. On the upside, though, if they did a story about Magpies, I’d be a shoe-in. I can’t resist collecting shiny, sparkly junk.

Oh, thank goodness. My ipod is Synced. Now I can go have insomnia while I fold the laundry.

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A few weeks ago, Bravo’s rerunning of The West Wing made it back around to the series’ beginning, so I happily queued up the TiVo and have since been enjoying the idealism, sincerity and optimism of the Bartlet White House.

On most issues I’m about the farthest thing you’ll find from a Democrat (short of the boards at Free Republic), but I wouldn’t mind if we had a Bartlet presidency. Because for all that we disagree on the handling of certain issues I do admire people who take America seriously.

It has dawned on me in the last few months that so few of our headlining politicians DO take America seriously any longer. It seems they all view politics not as a chance to do some legitimate Public Service but as a chance to be In Charge. And while I didn’t vote for Obama (we all know I didn’t vote for anybody this time around) I will say that at least his speechwriters are touching on that love of America which seems to have been lost. That dream of freedom, the dream of all of us individuals working together to make the world a better place. While we disagree on what the government should do about the world, I think we’re all better off if we believe in what we’re doing here.

I certainly hope that Obama bears out the promise of his speechwriters, because I sure wouldn’t mind getting us back to the place where America is a dream of hope born in the minds of free people and not just a cash cow for an oligarchy.

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As I mentioned earlier, our heater was out in the basement. I’d had nightmares of being told I had to come up with eight grand the week before Christmas to replace the whole unit, so I’d put off calling. Finally, yesterday I’d had enough. I knew we had enough cash to at least get it checked out so I looked up “Nashville HVAC” on the Internet and came across Donelson Air. I’d used them once before and they even had a “special offer” coupon. $49 for a System Check.

I called them, asked the man on the phone if the coupon was valid for diagnosing the problem and he said “yes, it should be.” An hour later a very nice young man was here. An hour after that he had diagnosed our problem*, repaired it and had the heat billowing through my office in a comforting, tropical way.

The only problem was that they refused to honour the coupon. Apparently the $49 System Check is for them to check when there’s nothing wrong. If there’s something wrong it’s technically a “Diagnostic Fee” and that costs $79. Now in the grand scheme of things, thirty dollars isn’t the end of the world, but it’s still galling.

*We had a bad Condensate Pump. It removes the water from your system while it operates, and if it goes bad a safety switch is tripped which stops the HVAC unit from running and getting too wet. The whole thing including the, ahem, Diagnostic Fee, was $443.00.

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First off, let me explain my absence. We had a bit of a heat problem in my office/basement, and with the arthritis I can’t really type a lot in a room with no heat. So I’ve been taking time away from the blog. I can’t tell you how I’ve missed it. I have at least three random thoughts a day that I wish I could write out of my system. There are pieces of paper (now in the trash) with paragraphs here and there. I swear if I don’t write I get this constipated feeling in my soul. It’s hard to explain–which may prove that I’m a crappy writer. But we’ll go with “constipated soul” and leave it at that.

Anyway, the “I’m a Jerk” thing….

So there is smoke pouring out of my neighbours’ house. Lots of it. I can’t walk over and check because I’m in the middle of a bad flare. So I call 911. Turns out it was nothing. They have a new fireplace in their bonus room–one that vents to the outside through the wall. Well, to me it just looked like smoke pouring out of their wall in the room where I know they have a Christmas tree.

I’m an idiot for wasting the fire department’s time.

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With three weeks left until Christmas I finally busted out my holiday decoration mojo. The garlands and lights are up, the poinsettias are lovingly placed and the crystal centerpiece is languishing on the table.

The Nativity scene is in the window. Minus the Wizards.

The mystic in me loves that their were wizard astrologers who saw the signs in the stars and travelled to see Jesus. I remember eating lunch with another blogger who was amazed at the idea that the “Wise Men” were actually wizard astrologers. That’s how good we Christians can be about shoving mysticism under the carpet. They weren’t Mystics! They Were Mysterious People! yeah! No matter how we bowderlise, the fact remains–they were wizards.

The fact also remains that they didn’t show up until Jesus was a young child–two years old or so. I never ever ever put them out with the Baby Jesus nativity, for much the same reason that I don’t put a block of Velveeta cheese there, either. They’re both out of place.

But as I was setting Mary, Joseph, Infant Jesus, Random Shepherd and Sheep on the window sill I got to thinking…is the Nativity idolatry? It is, at its most basic form, a graven image. I know of several families who gather around the nativity scene in their homes for Christmas devotions and prayers.

Whenever I see them they remind me in their own way of Buddhist and Hindu shrines–something that most Christians would call “idolatry” without question. It makes me wonder about people and our need to see what we worship.

The mystic in me has long been uncomfortable with the current fashion of Christian Christmas anyway. All of the desire to reduce the mystical and unknowable Trinity into a knowable thing we can all control–a baby–makes me uneasy. It’s as though we would rather deal with God on our terms so we focus all of our energy on taking the greatest and most infinite and most holy into the weakest and most precarious form of human life imaginable.

I realise the magic of the Birth Of Christ story is that the infinite God allowed itself to be subject to that form for a passing time in order to deliver humans from their finite existence and allow them direct communication with the Divine. (We Christians more commonly call this “salvation” and “prayer”). But it troubles me that the Weak God has become the fetish of our focus. We love the story of God as helpless infant and we love the story of God as a bloodied, dying man. We can’t seem to bear the thought of God as mighty and triumphant and everywhere mystical and existing.

Yes, God did make himself lower than the angels. But that was the act of a supremely magnificent and mystical God. I wish we focused more on that greatness.

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Oh Come ON!

My husband emailed me gleefully yesterday to tell me that the Arrested Development movie is a go. I don’t know quite where he heard it, though, so I’m hoping it isn’t the same quality of good news as when various Bluths announced the project in interviews over the last two years. It’s been the world’s longest flick-tease.

Can they do it, though? I’ve watched my AD dvds so many times I think the laser has worn them transparent. I have whole episodes memorised, which is annoying to the other people who try to cleverly quote them only to get them wrong. And be corrected by me. It’s as though AD quotes have entered the same territory as urban legends. Don’t say them around me because I’m the tight-assed killjoy who will correct you about it. (Yes, I know it’s rude. No, I can’t help myself.)

So, anyway, back to the movie. Am I excited? Reservedly so. I think more AD to obsess over is almost always a good thing. But if they screw it up badly (think “Sex And the City” movie) then it tarnishes the canon.

Oh brother. What is my problem? An Arrested Development movie is the best thing since sliced bread and I’m excited already.

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I didn’t really give a thought to what the holidays would be like this year. I’m a Thanksgiving and Christmas nut. I love everything about the whole time of year. The decorations, the food, the long trips to see family–it’s all my milieu.

Of course I had no idea that the death of my dog child would haunt me this badly. Every celebratory thing I do from cooking to decoration–even simply listening to holiday songs–reminds me of the last time I did it. The last 7 times. Each of those times involved a big, black, stinky, wiggly, fuzzy guy. All the memories of him smiling and running toward me with glee are rippled through with the memories of him whining pitifully between sedatives as the cancer ate his bones.

There was nothing about me that deserved him in my life and there was nothing about him that deserved that painful a death.

On Black Friday I bought a little ornament at Target. It’s a silvery angel with a sparkly charm at the heart. It’s what I have to honour him this holiday. All in all, though, I’d rather have him back.
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