More paragraphs than I planned on.

When we were kids, my friend Rebecca and I used to write stories together and read stories together and do basically everything together. Beck had those mildly gruesome little “Scary Stories to Read in the Dark” books, which I was always a little jealous of, because I probably wasn’t allowed to have them. We would take the instruction quite literally and look for somewhere dark, or semi-dark, to read them, like a tool shed in the back yard, which, with bright daylight peeking through the door, was just the right amount of scary for me. (If we had only known at the time that a teenage boy had murdered his entire family in her kitchen and living room just 40 years earlier! True story!)

I don’t know what prompted me, but I was thinking about this the other day, about when we used to read these stories to each other. Whenever it was Rebecca’s turn to read I would follow along with her over her shoulder and correct any time she read a word wrong or misinterpreted a particular mark of punctuation. Pretty much I must have been completely annoying! I could pick much more amusing stories from this friendship to write about, could in fact probably fill a book of memoirs-turned-blockbuster movie, but like I said, this ritualistic scary-story-reading is what most recently came to my mind.

And anyway, I just remembered what had sparked that memory. Last night Rachel and Molly and I went to see Holly play a show at IQs, which was great except for the smoke (Madison, my lungs and I love you for being smoke-free… Green Bay, get a clue!) One of Holly’s songs has a line about a toy drum, which made me think of that scary story with the toy drum and the gypsy girl and the woman with the glass eye… I remember reading that story with Rebecca and then a few years later hearing the very same story plagerized by some girl in the class above me, trying to pass it off as her own. Can you imagine? Trying to plagerize a classic like “Scary Stories to Read in the Dark”? Is nothing sacred anymore?

My family and I went to see the movie Marley & Me today. I was surprisingly engaged by it, and so, it seems, were all of the little kids in the theater who were sobbing. I cried a little too – partly because I could feel my mom’s tender heart breaking in the seat next to me. I don’t know if anyone loves animals more than she does.

Friday night I was at Holly’s birthday party and got to hang out with a 3 year old princess.  Really, she had two separate princess gowns along with her. She is my friend now. We played magic carpet ride and sinking ship and fort and when we got hungry we ate Holly (“Come here, you Lunch!”) Anyway, it was good for me. I wasn’t sure if I liked kids too much, but my new 3 year old friend proved that I do, or at least that I can.

On Christmas day my family went to stay at my dad’s cabin on the Wolf River. While we were there we watched Alone in the Wilderness, and I was reminded of how attractive it is for a man to know how to build things. I first realized this when I watched The Notebook with Laura and remarked that, “There is nothing sexier than a man who builds a house for the woman he loves!” So anyway, I’ve decided that my dream man will have the skills to build a cabin with his bare hands (and okay, a few tools). He will also play guitar and be kind to animals. There are at least 100 other qualifiers on this list, you can inquire to hear the rest of them.

While we were at the cabin the snow was everywhere and terribly beautiful. My dad has cross country skis and snow shoes hanging on the walls and for the first time in many years I actually felt some desire to go outside in the winterland and participate in some form of sport. Trust me, this is a new development. Being so new, I did not act on it, but I really think I might try some outdoor activities this winter. Considering how winter is just getting started! Don’t tell anyone, but as my family and I were driving through the state this week I said, with my eyes fixated on the gray and white landscape surrounding us, “I like winter.” Who am I? I tried explaining to my mom my theory that winter is the perfect climate for humans to exist (as the miserable beings that we are) and she thought it was kind of depressing. But kind of true?

We visited the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau and checked out the tromp l’oeil exhibit and the illustrated letters exhibit. The latter really inspired me to start writing letters again, and to do so creatively. That was the fun part of a long distance relationship, but of course letter-writing can happen between friends and family as well. I won’t make it an official goal, but maybe in 2009 I’ll do a bit more of this.

Hey, I just made two new friends. They are great. They are characters in my story. I mean, that is the only place that they exist. Is that weird? I brought my sketchbooks along with me this weekend thinking that I’d have a lot of time to get some pages filled. Well, I did have the time, but I am learning that I can’t write when there are people around, or even the option of being around people. So progress has been limited, but I still hope to have my designated chapter finished by the end of this month.

This has been a terrible summary of the past week… it is not chronological, it is not exhaustive, it is hardly descriptive. But considering that I just sat down as a matter of self-discipline and forced myself to start writing I’d say it’s not so bad after all.

2009 is going to be a big year…

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Would that I could BCC you. Consider this my Christmas email.

Although I enjoy receiving them, I have not yet become a person who sends Christmas cards or Christmas photos or Christmas letters, although last year I did send a Christmas email. At the time, it seemed there was enough going on in my life to warrant the festively disguised update, as 2007 had seen some fairly major events in my life, most notably moving to a new city, starting a new job, traveling to both coasts and planning a trip to Hawaii (which actually occurred in 2008, so that might have been cheating). I thought about it for a few seconds today, what would I write about in this year’s hypothetical Christmas email (hypothetical because I am probably not going to send one)? There was not very much that happened this year. I am at the same job, in the same city, in the same apartment. I did not get married or even engaged, I did not have any children. I stopped painting, took a few intro-level courses at the community college, decided that now is not the time for graduate school, and started writing a graphic novel. It was a very quiet year, and in some ways a sad year. It was one of those years in which “the Lord takes” and I learned what it means to let that taking, which is painful, bring me closer to God. There was not much that happened this year in the grandiose-event sense of things happening, but I learned a lot. 2008 has been one of my biggest years yet, as far as learning is concerned.

Perhaps because I am simple-minded (or perhaps because I am an INFJ) I like to categorize my life by year. I tend to categorize by age, such as, “23 was my year of adventure, 24 was my year of romance, 25 was my year of heartbreak, 26 was my year of… (yet to be determined!)” but I will occasionally mix it up and categorize by calendar year (I’m pretty zany like that). If I were to do that this year, I think I would simply say that 2008 was my year of growing. And there are growing pains, but they are necessary. Anyway, I realize that every year we are alive we should be growing, shouldn’t we? And probably I’ve been growing all along but have only recently become aware of what that looks like, to change in subtle but monumental ways.

Oh, I get so cryptic at the end of the year. Probably I am feeling a little sentimental because of the holidays. I am feeling a little guilty that I have not been blogging at all about Advent, but I haven’t really been blogging much at all, so I’m not necessarily a horrible Christian, just a horrible blogger (and a mediocre Christian). Okay not really, I mean, this is a busy time of year no matter what holiday you celebrate, if any. It’s unavoidable. All right, that’s a wrap. (And that’s a hint… to what I’m about to go do!)

From the archives…..

Here’s something I blogged last Advent and here is another.

Wait a second…

What am I complaining about? It’s like 45 degrees out right now. Gas is incredibly cheap (just filled my car for $25!) I have a plane ticket to San Diego. And, whether or not I’m able to get excited about it, once upon a time Jesus was born. Cool!

Boo hoo, like some kind of Scrooge.

Yay, my Welcome Wagon CD finally came!  Right when I sent an aggitated email to the distributers, of course.  Also, I added a button to subscribe to my feedburner… so subscribe!  You’ll find it in the right sidebar, just under the photo of me looking so skeleton-cool.

Gwen loaned me an American Elf book and now I have the renewed urge to draw a daily comic strip, buuuuut I still don’t have the time.  Gotta focus, Bea. 

I’m cold all the time.  Even the womb has been disappointing me lately.

I have not been in the Christmas spirit.  I decided early on this time around to reject the commercial aspect of the “season”, and my plan was to focus more on the holidays of my preference (Advent and then Christmas).  So I rejected the commercial, but somehow all the stuff that is meaningful to me has kind of slipped out of my sight also.  Which leaves me with nothing, except winter and this constant feeling of cold.  How depressing!  Tomorrow morning, though, Christ Presbyterian is going to be performing Handel’s Messiah so I am really really hoping that gets me in the mood.  Who knows… maybe we need some of the commercial stuff to keep Christmas real.  As much as I hate it, maybe I need to fight the crowds at the mall and choke on the B.O. of some ragtag Santa Claus to realize that there really is something about this time that is different from the rest of the year.  

Or maybe there really isn’t.  We don’t know when Jesus was actually born, right?  Maybe there is no real point to celebrating any of this.  I have this fantasy of celebrating New Years by going to bed at 9pm on December 31 and waking up the next year, no party, no ball dropping, no midnight kiss (which I never get anyway!)  Maybe that’s how I should celebrate Christmas too, just ignore it.  I’m just so bored by all of the tradition.  

What’s wrong with me this year?  I’m in some kind of holiday funk.

Correcting consumerism.

It began innocently enough.  Shawn was playing an instructional DVD which was teaching about light and color in digital art.  I made the comment that I would like to learn how to use Corel Painter, and my mom said, “Well, Christmas is coming.  Maybe you would like that program for a gift?”  We already have Painter, so I began to think what else I might like for a gift.  An ipod?  Computer accessories?  New clothes?  My mind settled for a moment on one thing, and I announced, “I think for Christmas I would like a digital video camera.”  Because it would be fun, to have one of those and make silly movies and capture the memories and what not.  But is it something I need?  Not at all.  It’s something that would be outdated in a year and I would be unhappy with it and want the newest model.  Don’t believe me?  I have a video camera.  It’s sitting on the top shelf of my closet because it’s not cool enough, it’s not digital, it’s not new.  I have an old ipod and heaps of last season’s clothes and stacks of books that I’ll never read, music I never listen to, and computer gadgets I never use, and I’m sitting here thinking of what I want next?  As if I need anymore stuff?

My good friend Rachel posted some great videos on her blog that kind of snapped me back out of my consumerist trance.  She posted the first three but you should watch the entire series.  They are informative and convicting.

My church has been talking about this thing called Advent Conspiracy, substituting compassion for consumerism.  Even if you’re not a Christian it’s worth a look:

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    Breena Wiederhoeft
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