Here's to all you Christians and the birth of the world's most famous Jew. However you do (not) celebrate Christmas - may the true spirit of the day share at least some of the time and energy you expend.
Right around the time I got my masters degree, I decided I was "over" the notion of learning and education and sitting in a classroom and endeavoring to get wiser/smarter/more astute/whatever. That was in May, 2000. By September, 2001 (let's say the 11th-ish) I had decided the world I thought I knew so well was way, way bigger than I had thought. I went to Borders (stop laughing) and bought a copy of the Noble Quran and started learning again (spoiler alert - terrorism has NOTHING to do with Islam). Fast forward 15 years and three months and I'll still scratching my head at the world.
Here are the ten biggest/best/most important things I learned this year . . .
10) Common Core is NOT stupid/absurd/whatever - it is just a totally different way to use one's brain than what "we" learned when "we" were in school. Do I think it is better? Nope. But I was raised Catholic and am now a proud, proud Jew. Change is good.
9) "Goy" is (potentially) offensive. Much like "shiksa", "bitch", and other words that are considered pejorative by many but embraced by the bold (?) - calling someone "Goy" (gentile/non-Jew) can either be a simple clarifier of their religious stance or dismiss them as "less than". I had always meant the prior, you could presume the latter.
8) Twitter is Stupid. I've often struggled with my relationship with social media but if 2016 taught me (and the rest of the electorate) nothing else - it taught me that Twitter is no way to communicate or go through life. I had my Twitter password changed for me about a month ago. Haven't missed the stress, anxiety, or shouting at the wall one bit since.
7) I'm an XL/XXL Hat. I'll talk more about this in the coming days but I'm getting super, super bald and I went and had my head professional "measured" (not "shrunk") and my face shape assessed by a true professional/legend and I'm now fully, fully obsessed with protecting my noggin.
6) Nascent means "new", not "negligibly small". I'm 40. I consider myself a word/language lover. The actual definition of this world is, for me, nascent. What other words am I butchering on the regular?
5) Voting Trump doesn't mean you're a sexist, racist, xenophobic, dismissive boor. It means you're a person who values your fellow man/woman/child so little that they would look the other way for someone who is all those things (and worse). Yes. That is what you did. It is. Seriously.
4) If you don't monitor your goals, you won't hit them. 2016 was one of my greatest years in many, many ways. But if you look at my goals and objectives - it was an actual disaster. More to come on this one, too.
3) I can still find delight and joy in the world . . . even when I really, really don't want to.
2) Our democracy and sense of values is under attack - but not at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But, instead, in the North Carolina statehouse, the Sedgwick County Commissioners' meeting room, and countless other venues. I told you all - forget the Presidential election, watch the locals.
1) I'm screwed. Soon enough. But I'm not going down without a well-read, well-informed fight.
I mean I "knew" I was getting married when I asked someone to, you know, MARRY me but I didn't really think - in that cold, crisp air with the jolting smell of dead fish wafting by and the awkward glances of fellow cold, fish-filled air revelers casting about - that it was something that would ever smack me in the face or get "real".
Sure, sure. The ring shopping, the talking with her parents (and I thought actual negotiations were a bit much but my future father-in-law drives a hard bargain and knows the value of his offspring (I jest)), the actual asking, the announcements, the discussions, the (actual) negotiations over ceremony components, the hand wrangling over the bridal party and participants (some of whom are still yet to be asked/informed/negotiated with (I've got a few goats left to give, folks)), the constant "How's wedding planning going?", the save the dates (the hours and hours and hours spent stamping little tags and tying strings and putting satin circles on metallic honey caps and putting the whole thing on the save the dates (why can't THOSE f*cking things be resolved with goats?)), the searching for kippah and cufflinks. The hunting for the perfect ketubah and the tearful (happy tears) review of the language options and the discussion of Jon vs. Yon vs. John vs. Jean as one translates my future father-in-law's name.
It has been "real" (and (generally) wonderful) for many months and yet it was just last night (214 days after "popping the question" and nearly 3/4 of the way through our betrothal period) that I got PROOF that we were getting married.
Debash, you see, put our actual invitations to bed and I was emailed a PDF that put it right there - in "midnight navy" and "aged copper" ink on a double-weighted, "still grey" stock was the succinct (I'm trying to be less verbose (he says, hundreds of words in to a blog post)), simple fact that I'm getting married. I need to review, and approve these details (which we provided) that state for the whole world (or at least the 115 households on the invite list) that we are - in fact - getting married.
It is true. I have (a) PROOF. And a wonderful future father-in-law, wonderful day to look forward to, and amazing, squishy-faced genius to spend my life with.
What? You're not enraged by this post? HOW not (yes - I know that makes no sense)? But . . . seriously. That crap is horrifying, right? Because let's talk about how strange it is to speak of the "burden" of honesty with your spouse when said "honesty" is not so much "I took the last Oreo" and much more "I've never actually loved you." Yep. That is one of the FOUR examples that this proud
NOW . . . I get that every person is different and has their own belief system (I think "more" of you if your favorite color is orange and I think the more you tell me about your "training" and "fitness" routine the more you need other stuff in your life) and I know that people find inspiration in odd places (my sock drawer, Judaism, and Twitter accounts for the eternally angry) but please, please, please tell me no one is looking for beliefs worth following and inspiration from a woman who thinks you are best not admitting that you're no longer attracted to, in love with, or perhaps have never loved your spouse.
I know that physical attraction ebbs and flows and that the moment sexy stubble turns to mini blades of skin irritation is real. I know that love is alive and evolving. I know and admit and embrace all these things but you should talk with your spouse about these things. Not in the context of "if you lost ten pounds I would bang the bottom of you but, for now, I'm checking out your sister and loving my left hand exclusively" (because that is absurd, childish, and only 4% of men are left-inclined in this way) but in the context of "Hey - where did the love go?"
You know what is a burden? Living a lie. You know what is a burden? Finding out you're living life with a person living a lie. You know what is not worth sharing? Masturbation stats. You know what is not worth keeping to yourself? Misery within a relationship.
I'm not going to soapbox too much on this one but I'll just say this . . . "lov(ing), honor(ing), and vacuum(ing)" is not your friend and you're way, way more attractive than your sister anyway.
I've mentioned it here on the blog but Debash gave me an ultimatum (she doesn't remember it being quite so stern) about eight months ago . . . either get more bookshelves or stop. buying. books.
In her defense, the $17 particle board/cardboard/sticker-that-looks-like-wood-grain set of shelves (all three layers of 16" x 24" goodness) was well overcrowded and the stacks and stacks of books atop the Walmart specials and on this end table, and that coffee table, and this chair in the dining room, and the dining nook off the kitchen, and in the box in this closet, that closet, and the other three closets were clearly, certainly, undeniably in need of some space to breathe, collect themselves, relax, and show their spines proudly.
So . . . I did it. I bit the proverbial bullet and I went to Walmart (where all good decisions on home decor are made) at like 10 PM on a Sunday and bought two of the cheapest shelves they sold (this was not a real solution - I'm eventually going to endeavor, with a friend, to build built-ins) and I brought the home and proceeded to use every four-letter word in my vocabulary, and eventually physically destroyed said shelves in the driveway (imagine me "silently" sulking through the house to get to the driveway that I might smash these cheap, bent, crooked, ugly, poorly conceived shelves atop our cement (see-meant to Kansans) slab. Twice. Each.).
Then, the following weekend, I went to Target (where all moderately trendy decisions on home decor are made) and selected a beautiful set of shelves. I carried them to the car. I brought them home. I tore open the packaging. And discovered they were the wrong color. NO matter (yes - I'm so lazy that I won't repackage and return bookshelves . . . in my defense I presumed I would also, eventually, smash these against the driveway too). I put them together.
I moved the books from the falling in shelves to the unit. Half full. I did a loop of the house and amassed every book in plain sight. Two thirds full. I pulled a box out of each of the six closets where we were storing books . . . TOO full.
Back to Target. Repeat. In the same "wrong" color. More boxes came out. More books came out of hiding. More beautiful, dead, didn't die-for-nothing trees-turned-paper-turned-pages-turned-printed word-turned-book-turned AWESOME were out of the closets and on plain display.
I stood back. I admired what I had done here. I rested. I fired up smile.amazon.com (where you can decide what non-profit gets 0.05% of your every (eligible) purchase - please choose Congregation Emanu-El in Wichita, Kansas if you don't already have a place to send your fractional gift. I found my wish list. I. Went. Off.
In the last four months I've purchased 37 books (for me - I've purchased more for the kid and the future missus). And why NOT? I (typically) select used books that are "like new" (which is code for - a library sale and/or someone gave me this book that I'll never read).
I've continued to fill out shelf two and it feels wonderful. My Judaica collection is up. I own (save for ONE) every book Daniel Handler has written. I'm building out Lemony Snicket. I'm just getting warmed up. Don't worry - the shelves are still available (and on SALE) at Target. I'm going this weekend to buy one more. Maybe two. Okay - three.