Sunday, December 25, 2011

'Tis The Season

My dad once said something interesting about religious holidays. He said that Christians have our celebrations backwards. He wasn't talking about the rampant materialism of Christmas, or the flavorless pastel sweetness of Easter (though he is plenty bothered by both of those). He was talking about the actual religious services that go with these.

Have you ever been to a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church service? We sing joyous hymns, everyone wears bright colors, the church is sparkling and bristling with twinkle lights, holly wreaths, and glittering Christmas trees.

Have you ever been to a Black Friday or Easter church service? The Black Friday service is more depressing than an actual funeral, often lit only by candlelight in a sanctuary draped with black cloth. Even the Easter services, celebratory as they are, are decorated with lilies, flowers that are traditionally used in funeral or memorial services. Yes, we use the flowers of death to celebrate the gift of life.

My dad said that Christmas should be the sad, somber day. Christmas is the day that Christ gave up His divinity* and became Man. Christmas is the day that His days became numbered. Christmas is the day that He began His walk to the cross, the day that our sin was so great that God Himself was forced to leave His kingdom and enter the Hell we had created just so that He could save us from ourselves.

Easter, on the other hand, is the day that all of that ended. Easter is the day that Christ was able to shed His physical form and ascend once more to His rightful place at the Father's side. Even Good Friday should be a day of rejoicing, for it is the day that "it was finished".

But there's just something about Christmas. I think Vienna Teng expressed it best in the first line of her "Atheist Christmas Carol": It's the season of grace coming out of the void. Even atheists get it: there's just something about Christmas.

And i know that everyone always says that we should keep the Christmas spirit going all year long. I agree. I hate that we go into this goodwill frenzy from November 25th through December 26th, and the rest of the year we look out for number one. But somehow, other priorities always seem to assert themselves, and we think that we can make up for it during the Christmas season. So go ahead and get all frenzied and joyful and spend way too much money on other people. Just for once. Because there's something about Christmas.

So this year, i hope no one is reading this. This year, i hope you're all with loved ones, celebrating traditions and peace and love. This year, i hope everyone sacrificed a little to give someone something that they really needed. Or even just something they really wanted. Or even just a necktie. This year, i hope that everyone knows that someone loves them. This year, i hope we celebrate with enough tinsel and glitter to keep Ke$ha supplied for life.

Because there's just something about Christmas.

*Yes, Christ was fully God even while He was on Earth. But He was also fully man. We can have a debate about this if you want, but it ends up being like the old "Can God make a rock big enough that even He can't lift it" question. The point is, Christ made sacrifices to walk among us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nothing to See Here

Yesterday, i turned 22.


Kid birthday parties are fun. You get to play games, and wear party hats, and your mom is responsible for the whole thing (including clean-up). All you have to do is be alive for a certain amount of time.

The thirteenth birthday is great, because you're officially a teenager. Sixteen is cool, because you get to drive. At eighteen, you get to vote, smoke, buy lottery tickets, and pierce or tattoo anything you want. And at twenty-one, you get to drink.

That's it, unless you want to rent a car (25) or run for president (35).

I suppose in some ways, this birthday was an occasion. It was the first birthday i had away from home. It was also the first birthday i had in my office (though it was not the first time that i worked on my birthday). And, since i own a car that i rarely drive and have no desire to ever be in politics, this birthday marks the beginning of an era: the era where birthdays don't matter.

I'm not saying that i won't still expect cake and Facebook well-wishers. I'm just saying that from here on out, i don't want to have a birthday party unless my age is a convenient fraction of a century (25, 50, and 75, for those of you not mathematically inclined).

Fortunately, my boyfriend is amazing, and this year's birthday celebration consisted of him cooking dinner for me. He made antipasto, garlic bread, bacon-wrapped scallops, mashed potatoes, and chicken marinated, crusted with spices, and wrapped in prosciutto. For dessert he made rum cake with walnuts. He also gave me jewelry, and we spent the weekend watching The West Wing, cuddling, and . . . doing other things. What more could a girl want?

Monday, December 19, 2011


My parents started watching "The West Wing" when i was in middle school. By high school, i had started watching it with them, and it wasn't long before it became a favorite family activity.  My brother and dad and i still engage in quoting wars on Facebook, going through basically every line of dialogue from the first four seasons (the last three had new writers and weren't nearly as good). I own the full DVD collection of all seven seasons and watch them on a loop when i do homework or chores, the same way that other people put on music.

There is one particular episode where a new character, Ainsley Hayes, is introduced, and the President wants to hire her. Ainsley gets the call from the White House as she is programming her caller ID. She presses a button, freezes, and whispers, "202-456-1414". Her friend asks if it's an agent. Ainsley replies, "It's the White House."

One evening, my mom and brother and i were watching this episode. Intrigued, my mother asked if we thought that that was really the number for the White House. My dad was out of the house, so we had no adult supervision. My mom took my phone, dialed the number, and handed the phone to my brother.

Operator: "White House. How can I help you?"
Adam: "Oh. Um. Uh, wrong number. Um, sorry." *hangs up*

My dad gets news headlines sent to his phone. Whenever there is breaking news, he gets a text right away. When we called him to tell him what had happened, he "forwarded" us a fake headline about a terrorist cell suspected in Crumpton. My mom panicked, i yelled at her for using my phone, and it was Adam who pointed out that Dad was probably playing a practical joke.

So yeah. That really is the number for the White House.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Overheard in the Office 6

"When I went to Messiah for homecoming, I accidentally broke this girl's nose. And apparently, to her that said, 'I love you'. So she's been stalking me ever since."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Secret Santa

Yesterday was our office Secret Santa gift exchange/Christmas potluck. Through a bizarre turn of events, i somehow ended up with two gifts (no, i didn't rig the drawing. I swear. In fact, i almost got left out of the gift exchange all together. I swear i didn't rig it. Shut up.)

Anyway, one gift was a gift card to Amazon, which was awesome. The other one was a framed photograph of me.

Let me explain, because that sentence comes nowhere near the glorious awkwardness of this gift.

My Secret Santa took this photo from my Facebook:

"No, don't take a picture! Gah, i look so ugly!"
Just kidding. This was from my senior photoshoot.
He then took a photo of himself and photoshopped it like this:

"Friends are the Family you Choose".

Once my gasping laughter had subsided, he explained that the real gift was the frame.
"Girls like frames."
". . . girls like frames?" i asked, confused.
"Yeah. Girls like frames. I had a girlfriend once. I know what they like."

I really wanted to write a funny punchline to go with that, but as Emily once told me, "Sometimes the facts need no commentary." This is my life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It was Saturday night, and my living room was one sip of wine away from a lesbian orgy.

One of my roommates used to sell sex toys from a company called Athena's. Although she is no longer an active representative (or "Goddess", as Athena's calls them), she still had lots of connections within the company. She and my other roommate decided to host a ladies-only party this weekend.

If you've never been to a sex toy party, think of it like a Tupperware party, but with fewer casseroles and more glitter and lube. It started out slow, with things like "Body Dew" (an oil that you mist onto your skin after showering to give yourself a healthy glow) and exfoliating scrubs. Our goddess for the evening, Juliet, demonstrated each product. For some, she chose a volunteer (usually me, since i was sitting next to her), and for some she simply passed around the sample and let everyone try it for themselves.

After the more innocuous beauty products, we moved on to pheromone-infused colognes and something called "Nipple Nibblers". This is a chapstick-like product applied -- you guessed it -- to the nipples. It is supposed to make them perky and produce a either a cool or warm tingling sensation. The exact effects differ from person to person. It is also flavored, for . . . well, for nibbling. For the Nipple Nibblers, Juliet passed the jar around and had each of us apply a small amount to our nipples. In the living room. With everyone else.

This was the last part of the evening with any pretensions to delicacy and innocence. Other tester products were given to girls to take into the bathroom, from whence they returned wreathed in smiles and sat back down awkwardly. And then we got to the toys. Let's just say that i no longer have any questions about anal sex or the different varieties of female orgasm and leave it at that.

At the end of the demonstration, we retired to the kitchen for penis cake and more wine, while girls went one by one into the living room to do their ordering privately. As hostesses, we were entitled to a discount rate based on the amount our friends had spent. Like commission-based store credit. Since one of my roommates was still entitled to her Athena's discount and i was not really in the market for anything, the whole credit went to one lucky roomie.

We're planning a co-ed (or Jack and Jill, to use the Athena's parlance) party for February. Right before Valentine's day. So that couples can . . . I can't think of any more polite euphemisms. It's so couples can get sexy with one another and singles can get sexy alone. Carissa, you are totally invited.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Letter to My Boss

Dear Dick,

You are not as charming as you think you are. Stop trying to use your obnoxious laugh to get me to do things for you. I am your assistant. It is my job to do things for you, and your staccato chuckles are not making it any easier. Stop before i punch you in the throat to make that noise go away. Furthermore, charm is not an adequate replacement for competence. Trust me when i tell you that people will like you better if you actually do your job.

Condescension does not help people understand you. It pisses them off. Even the people who are honestly too dumb to know what you are saying will understand that you are being condescending and will hate you forever. Maybe the problem is not the other people. Maybe the problem is you not understanding the various challenges associated with being an adult and having a real job.

Where the hell are you? You have no meetings or appointments today, you just got back from vacation last week, and i have not seen you all day. I need to talk to you to get guidance on my latest assignment. Your employees need to talk to you to check in on their weekly progress. People in other departments need to talk to you so that they can better support our department and improve conditions in their own department. You are a pretty important cog in this machine. When you go AWOL, the entire organization suffers. We need to know where you are. If you want to work from Starbucks, fine. But at least tell me that that's what you're doing. If you are not in this office by noon, i am putting "WANTED" posters all over campus with a picture of you photoshopped to look like Waldo. You have been warned.

Finally, and i cannot stress this enough, you need to do your job. Two months ago, i gave you an invoice. You needed to sign off on the expense and put the correct account number on it. You emailed someone in a different department to ask them which account number to use and she responded that the expense came out of your department, not hers. You then sat on your ass for two months, eating my candy and laughing loudly as you asked me to finish your outstanding Visa statement (i was still waiting on half a dozen receipts from you). Finally, when the neglected expense had become urgent, you went back to the woman from the other department and tried to make her fix your problem. Guess what, asshole? It's still your problem. And if you had taken care of it when you were originally asked to, you wouldn't be in trouble now.

Do. Your. Job.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


When my cousins and i were younger, we were pretty much inseparable. Me, Agelseb, Adam, and "Lynn" hung out all the time at my grandmother's house. We were constantly forming clubs around various activities that we wanted to be involved in. Usually, they were not activities that we actually were involved in, just activities that sounded exciting. Like our detective club. I think this one was my idea, because it happened during my elementary (ha. pun.) school Sherlock Holmes (told you there was a pun) phase. Anyway, i had a "detective kit" that included such essential items as a magnifying glass and notebook. I don't remember what else it had. But my cousins and i were convinced that we could be detectives, and that opportunities for exploration and crime-solving were around every corner of the tiny, historic, Colonial town we grew up in.

The various club activities are far too chaotic to list here (and by that i mean that we once pretended that there was a mystery in my grandmother's neighbor's house, but there really wasn't, and that that was the only thing we ever did as a club). The point is that, since we were constantly forming new clubs for various activities, we needed a meeting place. We dreamed of a treehouse, or a secret cubbyhole in the attic, or an underground lair. But since we lived neither in a Disney after school special nor in a Bond villain paradise, we were forced to be content with the space under my grandmother's stairs.

That is, until Agelseb and Lynn were struck with sudden brilliance: why not buy a house? The idea occurred to them after seeing a "For Sale" sign in town. They called the number and set up an appointment for 8:30.

How on earth my cousins (who couldn't have been more than six or seven at the time) actually managed to convince the realtor that they were in the market for a house is beyond me. Even they are not totally sure why he thought they were adults. But on the day of their showing, they hid behind a bush on their way to school and went off to the house. The realtor never showed, and their clever ruse was discovered when the school called their parents about their whereabouts. Later, it was discovered that the realtor had been laboring under the mistaken impression that the appointment was for 8:30 pm. I'm not sure how this was discovered. I am sure that my cousins were strictly forbidden to ever call any numbers that they saw anywhere without asking a parent first. And all future club activities were held in the space under my grandmother's stairs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Things I Have Learned In My First Semester of Grad School

1. Never assume that being the least experienced person in the room makes you the least qualified.

2. Always ask for clarification BEFORE beginning an assignment.

3. Alcohol really does soothe the pain temporarily.

4. Sleep is overrated.

5. Food is overrated.

6. Spending time with friends is overrated.

7. Crying is underrated.

8. Carry chocolate with you at all times for emergency energy boosts and/or mood stabilization.

9. Never assume that other people are doing their work. Even when they are in your group. Even when they won't get their degree if they don't do their work. Even if you threaten them with grievous bodily harm.

10. If you have to choose between an accomplishment and your mental health, choose sanity every time.