Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas Indeed!

On Christmas Eve, I worked in the morning and then headed out to Mr. Burns house who would be returning from the airport with some family members who were visiting. As I drove, I found myself behind a woman in a Mercedes, who stopped in the middle of traffic and dashed out her car.

I watched as she delivered a decorated gift bag to a homeless person who was panhandling on the street. I figured I'd stay behind her car, rather than pull around her so that I could help protect her car from another driver who might not realize she was stopped.

She got back in the car and went half a block before she stopped the car again. She handed the next group of homeless panhandlers gift bags and cash. I studied the inside of her car and determined it looked like her three teen-aged sons were with her... and something was taking up space on the back seat, as two boys were sitting close together on one end of the seat bench.

I continued to follow the Mercedes, mesmerized. They were stopping traffic to hand out gift bags and large bills to all the homeless people they saw!

I gave a gentle honk and gave them both thumbs up as I smiled from ear to ear -- and even missed my turn by 5 blocks because I so enjoyed witnessing the act of kindness!.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas?

I have been mystified.
It started sometime in the past ten years - when it seemed to suddenly become inappropriate to wish someone a Merry Christmas. 'Happy Holidays' is somehow more politically correct. Someone, society maybe, is trying to suck Christ out of Christmas.

I decided years ago to fight it. I will say 'Merry Christmas' and I'll mean it. I'm not trying to squelch anybody else's beliefs - but I will not deny my own.

Then I noticed, every time I wish a heart-felt 'Merry Christmas' to a stranger in a store - I get a knot in my throat and tears in my eyes. A bit mystifying. A bit disturbing. Am I struggling internally with forcing my faith on someone else? Or is it just an extension of my inability to sing hymns in church without being moved to tears?

Am I a true Christian sharing my faith, or am I just making lip service by wishing someone a Merry Christmas?

Last night I rushed into a Ross store after work to pick up some cheap supplies for our Christmas celebration. Serving spoons, a nice platter - that sort of thing - without having to drop a lot of cash. I'm unemployed/underemployed again this year and I'm not buying Christmas gifts for my whole family - so I certainly didn't want to go overboard on supplies.

After I checked out and was walking to my car, a woman sitting in the entryway greeted me.
"How are you tonight?" she asked.
"Good and you?
"I'm homeless." she said.
"Oh no." I replied. "Can I help you with anything?"
"Can you give me money for a warm cup of coffee?"
"Sure." I pulled out $5 and handed it to her, figuring she could get that and something to eat at the pancake house next door.
"I could use a blanket to keep warm." she offered.

I thought for second, realizing that I could go back into the store and get her a blanket or a comforter from the home department. Then I remembered the blanket I keep in the trunk of my car in case of being stranded. I went and got it for her.

When I returned, she slipped her feet out of her cheap, ill-fitting sneakers. They were bandaged and crusty and swollen. She told me that she'll get Disability in two weeks but for now she has nothing. She said her foot was swelling quickly.

I thought about the City Mission, but reasoned that she must know about it and if she wasn't already there she probably didn't want to be there. (I could be wrong.) I wondered if there was a cheap motel nearby where I could get her a room for $20. I wanted to help, I told her, but I just got laid-off myself and don't have a lot of money. (I felt a bit of a lie - as I am struggling for the lifestyle I am accustomed to... but I have plenty.)

I looked at her feet again. "Do you have socks?"
"Let's see if we can get you some warm boots."
She sprang from her seat and followed me to the shoe department where I learned she wears a size 11. Of course there were only about five items in the size 11 section - so we settled on a pair of fuzzy lined, rubber soled slippers with plenty of room for her swollen, bandaged foot and a pair of socks.

It cost about $15.
I figured I'm not buying anyone else gifts, I can at least do this. ( I could probably do more.)

I met her back at the entryway and told her I hope they would be warm.
She asked if she could come stay at my house that night.
I said I didn't have room. (I mean, what do you do?)

I wondered if she went to the hospital for her foot if they would keep her overnight and before I said it aloud, realized they wouldn't. I didn't know what to do. How else I could help. (Frankly, without inconveniencing myself more.)
I did sincerely want to help, but I also didn't want her sleeping on my couch.

And now I am still struggling. I did show her kindness - but was I Christ-like?

I turned to leave and wished her a Merry Christmas - there was no knot in my throat, and no welling of tears - and she is the first person who wished it back with real sincerity in her voice.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


You haven't heard too much about Mr. Burns around these parts lately - and that's only because I'm carefully sorting out thoughts and feelings, and enjoying the complete turn-around from last year at this time.

There is a lot of 'future-talk' these days. He has suggested that if we were to get married, we should live in his condo for a year or so to save up for a house. The idea scares me (not the marriage - but living in his small condo) because my best friend moved into her husband's tiny house in 2002 and they are still there -- now with two children!!

My chief complaint is that there are only two closets... a coat closet and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom (the spare room doesn't even have a closet - it was designed to be an office.) I suggested that if I were to move in, we would have to redesign the closet space to accommodate both of us. So last weekend, he bought an elfa closet system and we installed it together. Amazing! He keeps opening the closet doors and saying, "Wow!"

The redesign required completely emptying his closet - removing the old builder-grade shelves and rods - installing the new system - and then organizing his stuff back in the new closet.

In the process he uncovered something he picked up years ago in Korea when he was sent there for a few months on his first job out of college.

They're called Marriage Ducks. A traditional gift for a Korean couple, each duck represents the bride and groom - and is a symbol of the status of their marriage.

Traditional Korean Weddings always include a pair of Korean Wedding Ducks. Ducks mate for life, and are revered by the Korean people as symbols of loyalty and fidelity in a marriage. After the marriage, the Wedding Ducks are placed in the home of the newlyweds. If the ducks are facing each other, nose to nose, then the marriage is happy. If the ducks are facing away from each other, tail to tail, then the couple is fighting. The female duck has blue and red strings tied around her bill as a reminder to keep silent and always support her husband.
I was touched that he thought to buy the ducks back in his early twenties - clearly expecting marriage at some point in his life - and that now after many years this hopeful souvenir might turn out to be meant for me/us.

He surprised me further by taking them out of their box and setting them on the fireplace mantle, nose to nose, above our hanging Christmas stockings.

The next day I was especially crabby - due to outside forces. With the fuel from all my negative energy I ended up cleaning most of his house. The circumstances that made me angry kept swirling in my head as I thought of all the sassy retorts I could fling at those who irritated me to this state. I evaluated my crabby mood and thought about the ducks - and how it would benefit me to keep my mouth shut rather than spout out all the complaints in my head.

When Mr. Burns returned home, along with all the cleaning I accomplished... he noticed the female duck and the string I had tied around her beak, then burst out laughing.

I don't know if it was the cleaning and burning off my angry jet fuel that improved my mood for the rest of the day - or my acknowledgement of my big fat mouth.

But I think the ducks are a great idea.

The Challenge

I tend to challenge assumptions. Particularly as a single woman.

Once, just after I completed college I had to call my High School to get some transcripts or some such.

So I called my High School and a student, working in the school office answered. I told her what I needed and she asked for my name. I told her my name, the same as I introduced myself at the start of the phone call.

"I mean your maiden name." she said.
"One in the same." I replied. "I've only just finished college, not married yet."


Shortly after I bought my condo, a friend, also a new homeowner told me about a home store going out of business. She knew I wanted to change my bathroom sink and thought I might find a deal there.

I remembered to swing by after work one day - failing to bring my measurements with me - but thinking I could look around.

A salesman swarmed me, and upon hearing I wanted a pedestal sink showed me a sink that could suffice for a tub!
"I think that is too big for my space. I'm sorry, I forgot to bring my measurements."

He went on about it being a 'regular size'. Not realizing that I live in an older building and not an oversized modern home that needs a sink the size of a swimming pool to bring things to scale.

He was relentless - trying to push the sink on me. I insisted my determination that it would not fit between the toilet and the tub and suddenly he was hit with a bright idea.
"You could call. Find out the right measurement."

I didn't skip a beat.

"Call? Call where, my home? Who would answer? I'm here. I am not home. I cannot answer at home if I am here."

He did not understand.
So I clarified.

"I'm not married. I live alone. There is no husband to come to my rescue here."

He was bewildered. As if I couldn't own a home without a husband or something.

Anyway. I left the salesman, looked around the store and found the perfect pedestal sink (petite size) for $49 and hired a handyman to install it.

I still love that sink!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I'm pretty sure I woke up this morning, already upset. Not that I'm ever very cheery in the morning but something was weighing on my mind.

I'm trying to find more of my own personal space in my life and part of that comes in the form of time away from my and everyone else's blog - and checking my email only occasionally. I have a bit of an Internet addiction... once I'm on it ... hours fly by. I'm losing my life.

So now I'm choosing to only minimally check my email, lest I be sucked in by the rest of the Internet.

I'm on my HOA board - at this point - mainly because I don't trust what the board will do if I'm NOT on it. The Board President sent a snarky email saying he hasn't heard from any of us about the email he sent Saturday morning. I first saw both of these emails on Monday when I finally got around to checking my email- and explained that to him - only to get a response back that he checks HIS email a couple times a day and it's not too much to expect that we all do the same.

FINE! Maybe you aren't addicted to the Internet like I am!

Suddenly, my head was swirling with everything that keeps me from living the life I want right now.
But mainly, I can't stand it when I feel that someone is upset with me so it spun 'round and 'round inside me. Until I called Mr. Burns to let it out.

Then I was talking about resigning from the board - and selling my condo and ... and ... and...

Mr. Burns said, "I'm finally understanding how you get when your period starts."
He was right. I was more emotional than I needed to be, and that was exactly why.
Then he said, "The first few times it was like, 'Jeez, she's crazy'. But now I know it just is what it is."

I had to laugh - because as menstrual symptoms go - the sweet Lord has spared me. I get serious fatigue the first day then it's mostly over with. Until I was regularly around Mr. Burns I didn't realize how emotional I get (also the first day) - and that's probably because I have enough girlfriends to spout off to that they never had to hear it every month. But poor Mr. Burns is my go-to set of ears and shoulders now.

So I laughed and told him that compared to a lot women, I'm not even very bad. (though I do think my emotional range is worse now as I'm getting older). He agreed, reminding me that I once broke down and declared myself "Just a pile of goo." That is what he refers to me as at those times now.

Actually, I think that ought to keep him around because if I'm pretty mild - he doesn't want to find out what 'normal' PMS is like in other women!!!