Merry Christmas, darlings. (A love letter from me to you)

Hey, you. Yes, you.

Merry Christmas. And season’s greetings. And happy holidays. And, um, happy Monday.

I started this blog a few months ago, because of a friend who was dealing with a very painful, very sudden loss. In talking to her on the phone, I realized how happy it made me to hear her laugh, even if it was through tears. That made me feel like, despite the miles between us, that I was maybe easing the troubles of someone dear to me.

And then, oh man, I actually started listening to all of you guys. Not just hearing, but listening. And you guys break my heart.

I want nothing but the best for you. I want you to be happy and to feel exactly as loved as you are, which is a whole ton by everyone around you.

That isn’t how life happens though, is it? Life sometimes doesn’t care how good you are. It kicks you anyway. It’s not fair.

Some of you have dealt with medical issues, either in yourselves or in loved ones. Some of you found yourselves dealing with separation and divorce. Some of you have had to deal with chronic or severe acute pain, and you have to figure out how to live your lives while your body feels like it is giving up. Some of you have had to come to terms with sudden deaths of loved ones. Some of you feel like you’re a million miles from home. Many of you are so sad and lonely.

I want to fix everything for all of you. I would have no idea how, but I want it all the same. Just for you….cus you deserve what your heart most desires. Take away a car accident here, a divorce there, a hurtful word or two, and…boom. Good as new. But it doesn’t work that way. I would if I could….but I can’t. I’m sorry.

You know what though, guys? I believe this time of year is just a little bit magical. It really is. It’s the possibility of something better. It’s a fresh start.

You’re awesome. You can do it. This will be your best year yet. If I get my Christmas wish, all of this will be true for you, and I can go back to sharing dumb stories because I’m dumb, not because it breaks my heart to see you so sad.

Merry Christmas, darlings, and all the best to you. I mean it.

Amy

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Nine volt apple pie

This is a note to myself, so that next time I want to make apple pie, I wont hulksmash through the kitchen trying to remember what I did and how I did it. Maybe you’re not a hulksmash baker, but I am. Not remembering how much sugar I need makes me angry, and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Ahem. Back on task.

Nine Volt Apple Pie*

Makes 2 9″ pies.

– 4 pie crusts, ready made, unless you feel like dallying about with making pastry. Making pastry makes me angry and sweary, so I don’t. Judge if you must.

– 10 or so granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced.

– 1/2 cup butter.

– 3 tablespoons allpurpose flour.

– 1 teaspoon (or more, or less, or whatever you feel like) ground cinnamon. Note: paprika and cayenne both kind of look like cinnamon, but really should not be substituted for it 99% of the time. Who knew?

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

– 1 cup demerara sugar

– 1/4 cup water

1. Preheat over to 425F.

2. Put the bottom crusts into the pie tins. Trim off excess.

3. Pile sliced apples into the pie crusts evenly.

4. Slice the other two pie crusts into one inch strips and make a lattice crust. Over, under, over, under….just like that basketweaving class you took in college instead of calculus!

5. Admire your work or vow to learn weaving, as the case may be.

6. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour. Once all the flour has been incorporated, add the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Stir-stir-stir! Burnt sugar smells terrible. You do not want this. It will make you angry and sweary.

7. Pour the sugarbutterflourwater mix over the pies evenly and slowly, so it doesn’t splosh everywhere, because sploshing is messy and gross. Don’t believe? Google it. Filters off, of course, for full NSFW understanding. You don’t want that nonsense in your kitchen.

8. Put in preheated oven for 15 mins. Lower the heat to 350 and allow to bake for another 40 minutes or so.

9. Let cool, and either slice it up if you’re fancy, or just grab a fork.

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*– Please note: while this is called nine volt apple pie, it is not actually recommended to put batteries in it. Cranberries would be okay, as would walnuts or raisins. But no batteries. Thank you.

It’s a three on the pain scale. It is ALWAYS a three.

I hurt my foot yesterday tripping over Olddog. I’m not quite sure what happened to it, but its pretty uncomfy. I’d put the pain at a three on the hospital one to ten pain scale.

I always put pain at three.

Gallstones? That’s a three.

Ripped ligaments in my thumb? Also a three.

Dislocated shoulder? Three. Maybe three and a quarter.

A rusty nail through my foot, which broke inside when I pulled it out, because there is simply no way that I can walk around with a 2×4 attached? Three.

The first time I ever encountered this scale, I was in an emergency room here. I forget what I was there for, but it was probably something to do with tripping over a particularly dense chunk of air and needing to make sure I wasn’t legitimately broken. I know me, y’all, and I have complete confidence in my abilities as a tanglefoot.

Anyway, the nurse showed me the scale and told me to tell her what number my pain was at.

I asked her to define the numbers. She looked annoyed.

“One is no pain. Ten is the worst pain you can imagine.”

Of course my pain level was not a one. One is the level of nothing wrong, and no one shows up to the hospital when nothing’s wrong. I had no trouble with this concept. One equals fine. One equals a good day to maybe work in the garden and have a beer with friends. No one should ever be in a hospital feeling one about things.

Ten though? Wow. The worst pain….I can imagine. That’s a challenge that I accepted, and I got to imagining right away.

I asked the nurse if getting one’s hand caught in a paper shredder would be a ten. She said it might and asked if that was the worst thing I could imagine.

Nope. Not even close. What if you got your hand caught in a paper shredder, then forgot somehow, and used that hand to reach into a gallon jar of pickles to reach the very last one at the bottom? See? That’s way worse and I didn’t even need to think that hard about it.

She looked bored. She asked if that was a ten. I shrugged and said while it would definitely hurt a lot, there’s worse out there. There must be.

I realized that she was just looking for a number to write on my chart, and spared her all of the other scenarios of my “how much would this hurt and could it possibly be worse?” train of thought.

This is not a scale for pain level. This is a test of imagination, people. This is a test to see exactly how dark those little corners of your mind really are. Mine are dark, as it turns out. Really dark.

In the end, I learned three things.

One, the current system of sad faces and numbers cannot possibly be useful.

Two, no matter what happens physically and no matter how badly I hurt, it could always be so much worse because apparently, I am a twisted individual.

And three, the very act of thinking about how much worse it can be can actually make your pain seem less. You can drop at least a half point by imaging that in addition to whatever happened to you, that you also had to walk barefoot in the dark across a floor full of stray lego to get to the hospital.

On that note, my foot? Why, it feels better already. I may even call it a 2.98 today.

One of us is doing zoology wrong.

I went to the little Korean market by my house today, and in addition to grocery stuff, I bought myself a little container of cookie sticks with frosting, even though I hate the frosting. The cookie sticks are just that good.

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The picture is sideways, but maybe you can make out that it says “look inside for fun words”. Maybe you can’t. At any rate, it does say that, and as someone who appreciates fun words, that is exactly what I did.

The first few cookie sticks I pulled out were cute. They had the name of an animal, a little drawing, and a short fact about the animal. See?

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Zebra, herbivore. (Ooh, this is fun!)
Giraffe, tallest mammal. (Yep. Fun and educational!)
Squid, black ink. (Aww, they do have black ink! Hooray!)

Then, all the confidence that I had just acquired went straight to h-e-double-cookie-sticks with the next batch I pulled out.

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Panda, go for more. (Wait….)
Octopus, lucky number:8 (What??)
Squirrel, your best friend. (I don’t even…..)
Chick, lucky colour: yellow ( ….I need a glass of wine now)

Maybe next time I should just spring for Pocky and avoid this whole situation.

The bell

This is not funny. If you’re here for the funny, please feel free to check out the ridiculousness in the archives.

I have had a rough time with the Christmas season for my entire adult life. Sure, there were sometimes deployments scheduled for just after Christmas, or I had to work, or I was six months pregnant with complications and morning sickness that didn’t know it was supposed to vanish after the first trimester or a million other things, but it was always both more and less than that.

Christmas, with all the joy that is supposed to happen, is stressful. There is more cleaning, more food to prepare, more food to eat, more social obligations, more decorating, more shopping, more more more. And of course, more more more also refers to the smiling that is required through the entire thing.

By mid-December, I have usually become a fruitcake scented, festively striped powderkeg, because of how short I fall of the impossible expectations of perfection that I place on myself.

Several years ago, I was trying once again to outdo Martha Stewart, and once again, I was failing miserably. I guess Munchkin was in first grade around then, or maybe she was even a little younger. I was trying so hard to be Merry! And Festive! And Perfect! but I think it was pretty obvious that I was one burnt cookie away from a week long crying jag.

She scurried over to the tree, and pulled out a little tiny box that she had proudly gotten me from Santa Store at school, and insisted I open it.

Guys, no one in the history of any holiday ever wanted to open a present less than I did right then. There was work to do and joy to be forced. Still, she hounded me. Five year olds who insist on things are rather…..tenacious. I opened the clumsily wrapped little box.

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In it was a little keychain, blue with a simple yellow butterfly on it. It jingled softly as I rolled it in my hand.

“It’s like Polar Express”, she said. “Only people who hear the bell can like Christmas. You hear it, right?”

I did hear it.  She beamed. She hugged me.

And things were all better.

Today, I am sick. I had a million things to accomplish before I even get started on my regular tasks.

I was walking to the market by my house to pick up a few stocking stuffers, tripped in a pothole in the road, dropped my purse and rolled my ankle. I wanted to call the whole thing off. Yes, again. Just like I do every year.

I picked up my purse from the middle of the street. Somewhere, between a grocery list and a lipgloss with dog hair stuck to the cap and a half eaten bag of Skittles, the bell on on the keychain jingled just loud enough for me to hear. 

And again, things are all better.

Im on the edge of ladylike glory

Ways to be more ladylike

1. Sexy jammies (at least twice as sexy as sweatpants)

Success. Sexyish jammies have been acquired. I look like I poached the last of the critically endangered fancy satin leopards for their pelts. Must stop looking sad over this new thought, as I did not poach anything.

2. Find luxurious looking cat to lie on bed luxuriously.8

There is a cat lying on the bed, waiting to be painted like one of your French girls, but he is not a luxurious cat. He is a ginger tom with a tattered ear from a long ago fight, a weight problem, and a face like a goat. Still, it is ladylike to be graceful and not too critical over his less-than-luxurious appearance. Half success.

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Cat and satin leopard pelted knee. Ladylike? Yes.

3. Learn to like a ladylike drink. Call it a ‘tipple’.

Abject failure. Perhaps I am being too critical, but I cannot seem to move past the lighter fluid and death aftertaste of choices like brandy. Perhaps drinking beer from a glass instead of the bottle will work.

4. Learn man pleasing recipes to please Johnny Rotten.

Very good progress. I now know men like the trio of meat, potatoes and gravy thanks to a copy of Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook. I have been doing it wrong until now, but I can certainly change that. Gravy for all the meals!

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5. Find a non-zombie-related jello mold for the other recipes in this book. It seems required, and serving a shimmering beef salad molded in the shape of the brain doesn’t seem ladylike. Also? It is tough to decoratively place olives in a brain mold.

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Classy in a ring. Gauche as a brain or severed hand. Must not be gauche. 

6. Practice not cursing like a sailor with a stubbed toe. Speak in cultured, dulcet tones instead.

Failure. Nothing more can be said, as it will undoubtedly be said in the tones of an enraged fishwife.

I must keep working. I really feel Im on the edge of glory with this.