I made a cake on Friday night. Chocolate with buttercream icing. I burned it a bit – my oven isn’t calibrated properly, I guess. After having two pieces for breakfast rather than the requisite yogurt – which has failed dismally at becoming requisite – I threw the remainder away.
“Can’t be trusted.” I said, the voice in my head taking on a lyrical Irish accent. My audiobook is delightful in that I finally picked up the way vowels sound from Irish or British people. I’ve never been able to replicate it – even internally – before. I tried out an Irish accent on my way home from Friend’s last night. It made me giggle, but it was a decent effort, I decided.
So I – with my internal Irish monologue cheerfully in tow – slashed the cake into pieces, then tossed each one into the nearly full bin of rubbish (too much? Really? OK.) in front of a riveted animal audience. 40% of the huge pieces (that would be 2) ended up on the floor, cake side down, and I scowled and swore. These accidents lead to a thorough sweeping moments later.
I just got back from walking this morning – my ears burning as they acclimate back to their typical defrosted state. I normally let Chienne choose our route – or at least our initial direction, but she chose to walk into the wind immediately. I think she likes the way it blows her ears about. But I decided the brisk air would feel best on the way home – after climbing several hills and warming up my muscles. So I tugged her the other direction and we headed… Let’s see. The sun rises at the back of the house, so that way (points right) is east. South. We headed south…ish. Maybe.
My subdivision – a massive collection of single family homes – fascinates me. I’ve yet to see a home precisely like mine, though I avoid the many cul-de-sacs that form the neighborhood and stick to streets that actually go somewhere. But I love my house – partly because it’s a good floorplan and pretty structure. Mostly because it’s mine and that glow of ownership – of my first property, no less – makes me smile upon seeing the light brick nearly every time.
I returned home last night to unload my purchases – watch and frames from Kohl’s (Friend could tell you I was absolutely mad (It’s the Irish monologue again!) about getting to Kohl’s before the sale ended at 1. Sorry, Friend. But I saved so much money that I was nearly bouncing with joy by the time we left, gray bags firmly in hand), and over $100 of miscellaneous items from WalMart. I scoled Chienne – she found her 2 gifts under the tree in my absence. Opened them, ate the bag of treats and played happily with her pink plush blowfish. Then I placed gifts in boxes, cushioned with my newly acquired tissue paper, and began to wrap the remaining presents.
I took a break to complain to my parents. “They’re ruining Christmas!” I said with drama. “Sprout keeps batting ornaments from the tree and Chienne opened her presents!”
“Just hers?” Mom asked.
“She tore a tiny hole in one of Brother’s, but then realized she didn’t need a watch and moved on. So, yes, just hers.”
I heard them laughing and whined some more, enjoying their response.
“Tell them you can’t have anything nice.” Dad advised. “It’s what we always told you and Brother when you ruined something.”
And we all laughed. I told shopping stories and listened to more tales of snow removal. Then we said goodnight and I turned up the television.
I noticed I was still straining to hear it a few moments later and wondered why I had selected this particular level. I felt a vague discomfort as I made it louder and paused to consider its source.
Ah, I realized. I’d spent time in Friend’s apartment – watching a movie (which was surprisingly enjoyable) and professing my love for my favorite of her cats (She’s the prettiest and nicest and she likes me too. What more could I want?) – and had drifted back into the apartment mindset. A noisy puppy clomping about above our heads. And – from me – the gut reaction that I shouldn’t bother anyone myself, so all noise must be kept to a minimum.
That was my least favorite part of living in an apartment. Being so damned considerate. Making sure to pick up dog messes at once after their creation. Spraying dutifully for bugs to prevent building-wide infestation. Keeping careful watch of any baking or cooking to prevent smells or worse – the setting off of smoke alarms. And keeping quiet – television and stereo at moderate levels, dog quickly shushed, quiet conversations, walking gently on my floors.
After setting the TV a bit too loud, I smiled. I love owning my house. Hanging pictures, then moving them. Playing in my flower bed. Adding a cat to my little family without asking anyone for permission or paying extra pet rent. Having more than adequate storage and tons of garage space. I really am happy with this choice. I love my house.
Leaving my beloved abode this morning (see, I came back to it), Chienne and I headed southish, away from the more established part of the area (my home is 10 years old now) and toward the new construction. It’s less than a mile away and the grades of the hills get steeper in that direction. I decided we’d go down the hill immediately (heading west), then complete our southerly stretch, climb one of the larger hills to come east, then finally face the wind to walk north, back to the house.
Pleased with this plan, we set off. At first, I thought distinctly uncharitable thoughts, directed at a particular pair of people. I could share them – I played with the wording quite a bit, smiling and impressed with how vindictive I could be. In fact, the title of that post would have read “In which I am vindictive.” And insulting adjectives get really easy for me to remember at some point – must be that darn pessimism. But writing out those thoughts helps no one, I decided. And only makes me look unhappy and pathetic, though my insults really are valid and true. I don’t want to be sad and mean, I decided, so I shall keep those thoughts to myself. Someday soon, I prayed, I’d like them to leave completely. But then I thought of another appropriate descriptor and winced. Perhaps not quite yet.
At that point – for said thoughts took up a good amount of time – I had reached the new homes. I like it when the doors aren’t yet on and I can peer inside from the street. Look at the staircases and see how the living space eases into the kitchen. Calculate how many windows each bedroom must have. Estimate how long it will take to mow such a small yard – less than 1/3 of the time I spend, likely. Then I noticed how close together the houses were. Cute – with their varying shades of siding and brick – but probably about 15-20 feet between their walls. As I was looking between two houses, I noticed there were no windows on the side walls. None. On any of the houses. How icky, I thought. I have windows on every side of my house. Then I tilted my head to indicate my superiority.
It’s a good section of the neighborhood, I decided, heading back into the wind toward home. I don’t notice the siding that should be pressure washed or the trash in the yard, as in some of the older houses. Instead everything is shiny and new. Clean and smelling of construction – drywall, paint and glue. But my house doesn’t have construction dust and I do like the size of my yard, I thought, pulling the zipper of the my sweatshirt up farther and wincing. The air had drifted to the other side of pleasantly cold and into biting.
Here I broke off writing to get ready for church – I woke up this morning and groused about having to go to work, then smiled when I remembered it was Sunday. My first happy thought? Church! I had paused, wondering at the difference between guilty motivation and eager attendance. And it was lovely – really, really wonderful. Eunice put a hand on either side of my face and said, “Miss Katie! I’m so glad you came back.” Her husband smiled indulgently and shook my hand – his name is Don. Donna – my after-church friend from last time – introduced me to her granddaughter and explained that they would sit in the back in case someone needed a potty break. But next week, she promised to sit with me.
“I’m OK.” I said. “I don’t mind sitting here alone.”
“No.” She shook her head firmly. “We’ll sit together. Next week – I’m looking forward to it.”
“Me too.” I said honestly, smiling at her.
It’s just perfect here, I kept thinking from the same chair I used on my initial visit. The candles lit by scruffy looking teenagers – the same sweatshirt-clad youths who collected the offering. Putting ornaments on the tree during children’s time and the subsequent hymn. The sermon that included mention of world events, personal stories and the meaning of advent.
“People are searching for meaning and many of us hope to find that in God. I think there are all sorts of reasons for coming to church – to feel comforted, to have hope, to see friends, to observe family tradition. But I think we’re all here looking for God in some way, on some level.
“Christmas is the time to remember that He came looking for us.”
I was so moved – by that particular line, and throughout the readings – displayed on the overhead screens so I can follow along, the songs – the choir is absolutely exquisite, the prayers – silent, guided and group, and the overall sense of rightness that seems to emanate from my being there. I’m profoundly grateful – incredibly pleased that God lead me there.
“I needed it.” I wrote to Carrie in an email I titled, “[software name], [project name], and how I’m crazy.” It also discussed how therapy was going. “I think God finally realized how badly I was doing and sent me to this amazing place that works really well for me. It’s wonderful.”
“I need that church too!” She whined in her reply, entitled “[software name], [project name], and how you’re sanity-challenged.” In addition to addressing other topics, she spoke of how my finding a church was fantastic and she wished she could do the same.
Perhaps it’s perspective. It’s easier to see what I need – what I like – after observing what’s out there. I love my house even more after picking apart the elements of the lovely new homes down the street and getting a tiny taste of apartment living. After years of searching for a good worship service, I can greatly appreciate the fit of this particular Presbyterian wonderland. After feeling badly about my cake-filled morning yesterday, I was pleased with and proud of my whipped yogurt this morning. When hearing the ridiculous Irish accent in my head, the way I sometimes eat the ‘g’ in words ending in ‘ing’ doesn’t seem so awful.
For the afternoon (since this hasn’t been nearly rambling or meaningless enough), I’m going to wrap my front bushes in white lights and red bows. Then I want to make a Christmas template and make some progress on my grant. I’ll probably think in an Irish accent the whole time and consider how wonderful it would be if I wrote a book (for my audiobook is about publishing, not because I have any hope or desire to actually pen a novel). Then I’ll likely giggle at how silly I am. It’s a good day today after a rough evening last night.
I’m all about perspective.