December 15, 2014

the most horrible time of the year

ten days to christmas.

once upon a time, on christmas morning, there were seven people in our house: my parents, my brothers, a sister-in-law and a close friend of the family, a man my parents have treated like a son and i have treated like a brother. seven people.

and then there was six because one of my brothers left us.

then there was eight because the other brother had twins.

this christmas there will be only four in our house: a fact that feels horribly, horribly wrong.

i'm not feeling very spirited this year. maybe that's because this fall pretty much sucked, and i'm still mentally hungover from the suckage. maybe it's because my small town isn't small anymore, and the crowds at the mall and on the roads... the me-first! and the hurry-up! and the general selfishness i see in every direction... i don't know. i just... my heart's not in it at all this year. save for my mother's gift, i did my christmas shopping online. i never do that. i wasn't even gonna send out christmas cards. and i used to love doing that.

i don't even have great reasons to be bummed right now. i know women who are facing their first christmases without their husbands or their mothers. that's a hell i don't want to imagine.

so today, instead of doing something practical and good like cleaning my room or doing laundry or helping my mother or taking my new used car, mercy bocephus, to the dealership to have the brakes checked, as i'd intended, i decided to go online to and get an address for one of our guys overseas who maybe doesn't get much mail. the way it works is you send a letter directed to a soldier who then gets that letter to one of his soldiers who hasn't been shown the love.

the monday after i totaled phineas, i'd gone to starbucks for a breakfast sandwich and some iced tea. i ate the sandwich on the way to the mall (i needed to stop by work to see if i could pawn shifts off so i could take care of the car business and get some giant, plastic shopping bags to empty out phinny). i hadn't touched the tea yet. i didn't park close because i was in a cadillac suv (this is what the rental company put me in... i'd told them i wanted something with two doors, and they gave me that... it drove well, but it was HUGE); i was scared i couldn't park it without hitting something. so i crossed the lot, cut across a grassy patch and promptly fell on my ass, spilling my tea everywhere. i was quite pissed off and in pain. i went to work, managed to clear my schedule 'til the weekend. and then i went to another starbucks and got them to replace my tea free of charge (which was really nice... i hadn't expected them to do that). i was feeling so hateful in that moment that i insisted on buying the order for the next woman in line. she didn't want me to. i almost started crying right there. i'd told her what had happened (the five second version, because i really didn't want to talk), that i was feeling so hateful... that i needed to do something good to counter that. so she let me. more, she hugged me. she was really sweet.

i don't feel hateful right now. i feel alone and joyless. maybe i'm not the best person to write these boys. but i don't like thinking they feel alone and joyless. no one should have to feel that way.

so i wrote one a nice letter and put it in the mail. it cost forty-nine cents. i felt so good for doing that that i went and bought christmas cards to send to some more soldiers. and yeah, they'll probably get them late. and i won't know what to say. but something like merry christmas! happy new year! stay safe. come home. your life matters. what you do matters. thank you seems good enough, yeah?

December 13, 2014

random quarter: the q&a edition - december

one. on a scale of one to ten, how happy are you? four.

two. do you want to know how it ends? not really.

three. who do you miss? my older brother.

four. what is your most recent act of generosity? salvation army's angel tree gifts.

five. where do you find joy? little things and the twins.

six. what's on your wish list? better lives for the twins.

seven. what is your biggest regret? not loving my brother better.

eight. why are you impressive? generosity, compassion, intelligence, talent, resilience.

nine. moderation or excess? moderation.

ten. what do you find irresistible? pretty eyes, tattooes, strength, kindness.

eleven. if you had to move to a new city, where would you move? don't know. somewhere near water.

twelve. what do you like to talk about? fiction, film and football.

thirteen. what's your favorite cereal? honeycomb/cap'n crunch/corn pops.

fourteen. write down five words that describe today. heartbreaking morning... better... then best.

fifteen. on a scale of one to ten, how spontaneous were you today? two.

sixteen. when was the last time you felt at peace? for a second... yesterday.

seventeen. snuggle down or go out and play? snuggle down.

eighteen. what details from today would you like to remember? fortune parking, pleasant workday and evening.

nineteen. today you gained another pound, i'm sure.

twenty. how ambitious do you feel today? not at all so.

twenty-one. what surprised you today? getting a first-row parking space.

twenty-two. if you could change one thing about today, what would it be? i'd find the right words.

twenty-three. where do you see yourself next year? the same place.

twenty-four. what is your dream vacation? a beach, booze and books.

twenty-five. list what you've eaten for the past week. ice cream, steak, vegetables, junk.

December 5, 2014

winter reading challenge

another reading challenge... this one's brought to you by my friend, erin. this's my third attempt with one of these this year. for the last two, i managed to only read two books apiece. i'm hoping to do better. erin's set up a facebook group for the challenge. feel free to join!

five points: any book with two hundred or more pages. rays of the dawn by thurman fleet.
ten points: one with a, an or the in the title. the opposite of loneliness by marina keegan.
ten points: any with a two-word title. grown-up girlfriends by erin smalley.
fifteen points: any animal in title. skinny bitch by rory freedman.
twenty points: any whose title begins with the same letter as your name.
just listen by sarah dessen.
twenty points: any set in europe.
the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society by mary ann shaffer.
twenty-five points: any of npr's recommended titles for this year.
i'll give you the sun by jandy nelson.
thirty points: any title not-yet-read by your favorite author. fangirl by rainbow rowell.
thirty points: any by a comedian or comedic actor. last words by george carlin.

December 1, 2014

four fun facts... because i'm fond of lists

four nicknames:
one. prunella.
two. spanky.
three. fruitcake.
four. wub.

four occupations:
one. scanning technician.
two. bookseller.
three. editorial assistant.
four. gift registry specialist.

four favored films:
one. star wars: episode v - the empire strikes back.
two. star trek (2009).
three. serenity.
four. steel magnolias.

four favored novels:
one. harry potter and the halfblood prince.
two. eleanor and park.
three. the language of flowers.
four. the fault in our stars.

four residences:
one. conroe, texas.
two. san antonio, texas.
three. hawkins, texas.
four. houston, texas.

four places i've vacationed:
one. london, england.
two. munich, germany.
three. barcelona, spain.
four. hay-on-wye, wales.

four places i’d rather be right now:
one. monterey, california.
two. rhosilli bay, swansea, wales.
three. natadola, fiji.
four. the baths, virgin gorda, british virgin islands.

four things i don’t eat:
one. oysters.
two. escargot.
three. caviar.
four. mushrooms.

four of my favorite foods:
one. knorr's butter noodles.
two. mom's chicken noodle soup.
three. chicken spaghetti.
four. cheeseburgers.

four favored television shows:
one. sunday night football.
two. monday night football.
three. thursday night football.
four. whatever game's on saturday night.
(i'm anti-television at the moment, save for films and football)

four things i look forward to this year:
one. the end of the holiday shopping season.
two. days i don't have to work.
three. having my own vehicle again (once i've figured out how i'm going to pay for it).
four. a quiet house.
four things i’m always saying:
one. my head hurts.
two. i'm tired.
three. you know what i mean?
four. does that make sense?

i did this post because erin did it. erin did it because ashley did it. ashley did it because... and so on and so forth...

the good in my day: november

my parents. the patriots beat the broncos!!! st. vincent. more editing... but i only cut out a couple dozen pages. so eighty percent of my story is pretty damned awesome and ten percent's pretty okay (at least, i think so). stephanie. forgiveness. chatting with the soldier boy. the aggies beat auburn!!! chicken spaghetti. chatting with the folks at deaux's. shopping with mom. shopping for mom (clothes for the wonder twins). melissa. nick and nihar. the theory of everything. st. john's bay's long-sleeved, boatneck cable knit sweaters (so comfy!). pottery barn kids' flannel star wars sheet set. the folks at lenny's sub shop on research forest drive. the nineteenth of november was a pretty good day; my head was clear, and i didn't feel hateful. veronica. friday's interview. dianne. pete's piano bar. kim. metallica. hallmark's the christmas ornament. thanksgiving dinner with the twins. black friday wasn't unbearable. the couple of hours of quiet i got before work saturday. a good night's sleep.

the good in my day

i read in a magazine or on a website or something... somewhere... about how one should write down the most beautiful thing about the day. and that looking at this list will help a person see her life differently, more positively.

daddy. sarah. mercy bocephus! iced tea. pottery barn's comfort roll-arm slipcovered sofa. saltgrass' chicken fried steak. jewell. that the world can sometimes be so beautifully small. the compliments a woman paid to my father through me. the memory of a man. that window of calm in the day, just as the sun's setting... when the world seems painless and plentiful: the dogs barking, the people laughing and loving, the daylight blushing before it pales. first-row parking places. cousins.
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