For the last couple of years, I've written a sort of mega-essay on the last day of the year. Something that made me think back on the past 364 days, and look forward into the next 365. I don't know what it is about this year that I can't do that. For one thing, I'm busy. I had an amazing day of rest and silence and fasting and rejuvenation on Thursday, and now, I'm busy and tired again. (But in a good way. Friends don't turn 40 years old every day, you know, and if I do say so myself, Mabel and Cheese and I have put together quite a fete.) For another thing ... I think I'm avoiding reflection. Not because it's extremely painful or traumatic or anything like that, although this year, like any other, had its fair share of extreme moments. But there was just so much, and I'm not sure I want to reveal it all. Folks know bits and pieces. Some folks don't know anything and love me anyway ... and I am ever grateful and accepting of their love. Some folks know everything, and they too love me anyway ... and through them I understand what grace and friendship and Jesus is. So yes, I'm practicing a bit of avoidance. NOT denial, simply avoidance. It's too much and most of it, I've dealt with, and I don't feel that it would be right or honoring to myself or to God to dredge it all up again. Suffice to say ... this year has been without a doubt the utmost of almost everything good and bad imaginable. And I have grown immensely as a result, and I know I face many more growing pains to come ... and I'm not afraid.
The guys who work at my local liquor store -- is that strange that I have a "my" liquor store? -- are so cool, and they are happy all the time. I could walk in there feeling like a total grump and hatin' creation, and one look and smile from the dudes at the cashier, or a heads-up from the guy on the floor telling me that a new cool label came in (I know nothing about wine, and so I purchase bottles based on how cool and funky and odd their labels are, and embarrassingly, I admitted this to the guys there and now, they think I'm just ever so naive and adorable, which is an interesting thing to be viewed as at age thirty), and BAM! I'm cheered. I never fail to walk out of there with a goofy grin on my face.
"Happy New Year!" said the dude to me today. And I meant it when I said it back to him.
It's snowing. It's been a stinkin' fifty degrees all week long, and now, on the last day of the year, it's snowing. Seeing the big fat flakes drift slowly to the ground, the evergreens across the way as their lush backdrop, I am soothed. The rest of my day and night is going to be manic, hectic, annoying even, loud, crazed, frenetic, hilarious, fun-filled. But for now, I am calm, peaceful, hopeful, rested, feeling the blissful weight of His grace and presence like the warmest Korean mink blanket.
Now that I've hit my thirties, officially, it is ever clearer to me that I'm turning into my mother. And that, my friends, is an eminently great thing. Sure, she's got her weird hang-ups like everyone else, but overall, she rocks. She's largely emotionally stable, she's incredibly creative and soulful, she's down to earth and logical, she's a fantastic hostess and an even better cook, she's highly intelligent and thoughtful, and she drives like a maniac. I am not fully all of these things yet, but I certainly aspire to be just like her, even if it means suffering the same rheumatoid arthritis that becomes aggravated every time she has friends over and has to wash tons of dishes and platters and pots and pans after they leave. The pain is worth it to her, as I know and hope it will be to me.
But, feeling like I'm in the prime of my life right now, I see her in me, as a remembrance of her in the prime of her life. In her thirties, she was cooking, cleaning, running errands, planning events, going nutso for church. Y'all needed a place to gather? Come to our house. Y'all need someone to plan a major retreat? She did it. Y'all need to assemble gift boxes and roll bath towels and wrap toothpaste boxes for presents? She took care of all of it in record time. And last night, sitting with two ladies in their forties and my crony Mabel, it hit me: Mabel and I are my mom. We are now the ones coming up in leadership, taking care of things, never running out of energy or ideas or wacky creations, hokey or not. We are now the ones willing to shell out dough we don't really have for the benefit of others, just because we know it will make them happy. We are the ones who would rather cook for twenty people rather than order food in, just because home-cooking tastes better and is more fun.
It's funny to joke about us turning into the bad things about our moms -- being cheap about groceries, wearing chintzy clothing, complaining about the price of cabbage, moaning about how our beds are so much more comfortable than anyplace else in the world. It's an entirely different and heart-warming thing to see how I am turning into the very best of my mom, all those things that made me want to brag about her and shout her praises from the mountaintops. My one and only prayer is that these things in me would not die off and that my energy and desire would not fade until it absolutely has to.
Annie Dillard is something else. I know, I KNOW, that Flacon is going to say that HE introduced me to her, but that is NOT TRUE. I found her on my own and enjoyed her long before NHF came into my life. And I am enjoying her still. Her old book, Holy the Firm, is rocking my world ... will it rock yours too?
I can't end the year without doing another list, can I? Thanks to TinyCricket for the afternoon inspiration.
Four jobs you've had in your life: federal judicial law clerk ... intern with the United States Attorney's Office working on a major gang murder/drug case and being psuedo-protected by the FBI as a result ... babysitter for a two-and-a-half year old girl who was STILL breastfeeding and would ASK for a feeding by shouting, "BREAST! BREAST!" (True story, and the LOL's love this still: the first time I heard the girl shout this, we were in Gymboree in Manhattan, and I thought to myself, "Wow, what a bright and precocious two year old! She knows that she wants chicken breast for lunch and knows how to ask for it!" I figured things out when she started grabbing at MY CHEST. Talk about yucko.) ... administrative assistant in the admissions office of Boston University's School of Edjumacation.
Four movies you could watch over and over: "The Sound of Music" ... "Madagascar" ... "Pride & Prejudice" (BBC version) ... "Napoleon Dynamite" (yeah, I know, I know, I'm so high-brow, right?).
Four places you've lived: a NYC suburb, Manhattan, Brookline and Boston.
Four TV shows you love to watch: "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" ... "Lost" ... "Everyday Italian" ... "Divine Design."
Four places you've been on vacation: Block Island ... South Korea ... Whistler/Vancouver ... Los Angeles.
Four websites you visit daily: nytimes.com ... all my blogfriends ... pslawnet.com ... rbc.org/utmost.
Four of your favorite foods: pad thai ... fried rice ... almost any Korean dish ... almost any pasta dish.
Four places you'd rather be: Block Island ... Los Angeles ... Block Island ... Block Island.
Sundays and Fridays have taken on new meaning for me this year, for a variety of positive and negative connotations and reasons. I am apprehensive and hopeful and curious and excited about how these two days will continue to morph and develop in significance in the new year.
I started with seven bamboo shoots. I am now down to four. Although, technically, one of the four shoots is completely brown at the stem and has drooped completely over such that the top of the shoot is touching the tabletop. So I'm really down to three; I'm just avoiding throwing out the dead stalk. TALK ABOUT SAD. What am I doing wrong? If you have bamboo shoots in water and rocks in a ceramic vase in an indoor environment, and yours are SURVIVING, you MUST tell me what you're doing right, and what I'm doing wrong. I am starting to believe it's because I stopped talking to them, but it freaked some people out and so I stopped. Should I start again?
Last night, Mabel and I stayed up until 3am talking with friends about all manner of bizarre and frivolous and serious things. We talked at length about our dream lives. Don't even get me started on dreams and how they function and are created and what they mean -- I'm still trying to figure out what the back of my eyelids actually looks like. But it was totally encouraging and interesting to talk about dreams in a Christian context, to wonder together if God speaks to us, teaches us, rebukes us, loves us, in our sleep.
I believe that He does. In fact, I believe He speaks to me -- yes, with His actual voice -- more loudly in my sleep than when I am awake. This both freaks me out and encourages me. On the one hand, I think, "if I am so vulnerable and open to God's voice when I am sleeping and not fully in control of what comes into me, then what else am I vulnerable to? Who else's voice, NOT God's, is entering into me?" SHUDDER. But on the other hand, I think, "thank GOODNESS that I am asleep and open to Him, because He certainly knows that during any given day, I have a hard time just sitting for a moment and taking the time to turn my ears toward His mouth."
I wonder about the state of Christian psychiatry. Not just psychiatrists or psychologists who happen to be Christians, but doctors and therapists who practice from a Biblical perspective. I wonder what they would say about my dreams. I have entire series of dreams where I am saving the world. These are so vivid and so real that Flacon has recommended that I write them down, to find a consistent theme, to pray over their significance. I have dreams that come true one, three, six months later, right down to the details of what people are wearing and the words they are using and even the titles of the books that are sitting on the table. Is this just magnified deja vu, but if not, what is it? I have dreams where I wake up with a burden lifted from me, or a burden placed on me, and I must revel in the freedom or carry the weight with me all day long. What has He taken from me into His own hands, and what concerns is He placing on my heart to consider?
And then there's just the fun stuff, too. Why is it that if I have a particularly nice dream one night, I can go to bed the next night and will myself to continue the story? Why is it that I speak not a LICK of French, but had an entire dream in French, and woke up KNOWING that it was real and not gibberish? Why is it that people are not supposed to dream about their own deaths, but I have not only died in some of my dreams, I've watched my own funerals? Why is it that we allegedly dream several dreams in a given night, but I only can remember one or two? Why is it that some people don't remember any? And if the back of our eyelids don't have moving images on them, then how is our brain able to "see" images? Forget that. That just opens up a whole can of worms that I can't even begin to think about.
Whoa. It's snowing more heavily now, but that's not what I'm "whoa"-ing about. The flakes are as big as cotton balls. No, bigger. COOL.
I am greedy by nature -- are we not all? -- and so here's my list of things I want in 2006:
*a husband I will love with my whole heart and soul and with whom I will build a life that will bless God, my family and my friends*
*this one friendship to stablize and keep growing*
*another friendship to continue in its honesty and trust and deep care and hugs and 3am feedings*
*HaYoung and family to move to New York*
*gran to not slowly go deaf and to not slowly grow old*
*NHF to go ALL OUT for God*
*to play guitar like a crazy woman*
*new window treatments*
*to see the LOL more often*
*to visit London*
*to give Bob to Mabel and get Bobito with the Intel chip and thinner body*
*to start writing my book*
*to finish writing my book*
*to get more massages*
*to be more faithful and trusting and hopeful, and to finally understand "unfailing love"*
*to not lose anything I gained in 2005*
Yours truly is going to go through a change for the new year. A new format, a new picture, a new logo, maybe a new tagline. I might change up once or twice before I settle down. See, the life of a blogger is truly difficult, it really is. I mean, forget about what you WRITE. You gotta find the right blog TEMPLATE. I like the colors red, orange, pink and brown. But place those on a blog background and BLECH. Pink is hard -- most templates tend to verge on froufy and NOT me. Red and orange can be like a slap in the face and absolutely anxiety-producing. And brown ... sometimes I think I'm sick of brown, other times, it's the only color that soothes me. What is a blogger to do ...
And so, I will play around a bit. Glitches will ensue. None of you will agree on what you like looking at ... (but psst, I don't really care all that much, and I mean that in the nicest way possible!). And I will be on the everlasting search for the template that screams ME ME ME. I beg your patience and understanding and constructive criticism.
And as ever, I look forward to the New Year. I hope you all do. I appreciate the friends I've made via this site ... and if that sounds creepy and nerdy, then so be it. You know how I enjoy your writing and sharing whatever of your lives you share back with me, and you know that I think of you as fellow creators and commiseraters (that isn't a word, is it?) in this weirdo place known as The Internet. And you know, also, that I appreciate the friends that I know and love in the flesh, and that is something that is unchanging, no matter what the calendar says.
Happy New Year.
God's grace and providence upon all of you.