The dentist

Nothing to do with teeth, but it's almost Christmas, and this is almost too much to handle. An extravagant light display in town.

When we were little, Mom would reward us for being cavity-free by a rare trip to Wendy’s to get a Frosty. I understand that this is like giving a pyromaniac child a box of matches as a reward for not setting the dog on fire, but still, it worked. It made going to the dentist a far less traumatic experience–and it kept us brushing our teeth, with the keen aim of winning another Frosty.

Guion and I went to the dentist yesterday. Both of us haven’t been in years, so I was pretty nervous about it. Even though I’ve had practically everything in the world done to my mouth (e.g., braces for four years, permanent retainers, teeth pulled, screws drilled into jaw to install new teeth, phrenectomy, and the list goes on), teeth pain still scares me a lot. More than just about any other pain–except childbirth.

The hygienist was fairly aggressive with her tools, but it didn’t take long and I didn’t have any cavities, which is what I was primarily concerned about. Guion had two, but he’s rather unconcerned about it, so that’s good. I think he’s going to get them filled after the holidays.

In other news, it’s snowing now and I’m home! The office closed today at 11 a.m., so I drove home–and have never been more terrified to be in a car in my life. I was sliding all over the place. The Jeep, which one would think would be a safe car to drive in the snow, is probably the worst. The 4-wheel drive makes the car totally shut down (which Guion and I learned last winter), so I was just sliding all over the place. I drove about 8 m.p.h. the whole way back. But now I’m checking work e-mail and sitting in our cozy living room with my husband, who is wearing his red onesie. He looks like a big Christmas baby. Loves it.

Monday Snax

We had a very festive weekend here. It was super. Two parties, two houseguests, lots of fun. New photos on Flickr. A small sampling below:

Angela came for a visit! The prettiest.
Annual Christmas party at the Blue House. Cutest Tiny Tim I've ever seen.
Also spent some quality time with the North Pole and Chestnuts.

Um. Can you believe that next Saturday is CHRISTMAS?? I can’t. Snaxy snax. Lots, to make up for sparse weeks:

Two challenging TED talks I watched this week:

Women, Wartime, and the Dream of Peace. This talk is from Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi woman who established the non-profit Women for Women International. Salbi speaks about the terrible burden of war on women–80 percent of war refugees are women and children–and the utter lack of women at the wartime negotiating table. Women are the ones left behind to rebuild, she says, and yet they are ignored and sit on the “back line” of war, despite being on war’s front line at home. It’s only 17 minutes long; do watch. (TED)

A Call to Men. Kelsey, I’m thinking about you and your class with this talk. Tony Porter is internationally recognized for his work to end violence against women. In this 11-minute presentation, he challenges our notions of “acting like a man” and how men have to move out of culturally mandated roles to end the epidemic of violence against women. Important–and so refreshing to hear from a man. (TED)

And now back to your regularly scheduled program:

Christmas gift tags. A present from my favorite Swedish artist, Camilla Engman! Enjoy this PDF of printable Christmas tags. Totally cute. I already printed off some for my own use this season. (Camilla Engman)

Miss Modish Muses: Snow Bunnies. These cute/sophisticated/funny vintage photographs of women in winter certainly get me in the mood for the holidays, a la “White Christmas.” (Miss Modish)

Iseeyou: Michael Wolf’s Voyeuristic Views. Hong Kong-based artist Michael Wolf has a new show of his photos of 21st-century voyeurism: see-through skyscrapers and intimate moments captured on Google Street View. Really interesting. (Flavorwire)

Photoshoot by Sarah Doyle. A dreamy and yet strong model; I can’t find the right words to describe my impression of these photos. Aggressive and yet delicate, maybe? (Silent Storyteller)

Fragile Wings. Loving the red lips and the braids! (Snail and Cyclops)

People of Turkey. After becoming a fan of Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, I’ve developed a growing interest in this interesting and complex country sandwiched between Europe and Asia. I enjoyed this collection of photographs from this super-adorable (and super-privileged!) couple who is traveling the world right now. (Mr. & Mrs. Globe Trot)

Stenelux. A glimpse into a beautiful–yes!–taxidermy/natural history shop in Amsterdam. I’m not sure why it’s so charming to me; I think it’s because it makes me think of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” or something. (An Apple a Day)

Sisters. Another charming post from my Danish girl crush that I linked to last week. Ida Nielsen shares some photographs of herself and her sister. Makes me miss my own! (Ida Nielsen)

Mr. Tomkins, Wait! Because you can’t have too many pictures of a fawn licking a cat. (Cute Overload)

Steve Wozniak Wonders Whose Altar We’re Worshiping At. Interesting thoughts from the co-founder of Apple. Are we indeed prisoners to our personal machines? (Daily Intel)

Dear Brussels Sprouts. I generally don’t read food blogs that much because 1.) why read about and look at food that you can’t eat? This mirrors my perspective on the Food Network too. I’d rather watch football than Ina Garten. And 2.) they’re usually not interesting. But Diary of a Locavore is an exception. This woman writes like a novelist, but about vegetables instead of people. Here is her heartfelt epistle to the much-maligned Brussels sprouts. I’m thinking about trying them again myself. (*Professor Cloud, I will always remember how to spell “Brussels sprouts” for the rest of my life, because I once spelled it “Brussel sprouts” and lost 50 points on that paper for you because of it.) (Diary of a Locavore)

Your best Christmas ever

Marley and Me. With my cousin's puppy, Marley, Christmas 2008.

It was the Christmas of the Canine. I can’t remember how old I was. I’m going to guess 9 or 10. All I wanted for Christmas was this giant, glossy, expensive book, The Encyclopedia of the Dog. It was all I thought about for months. It contained every dog breed known to man–and even some that probably weren’t known to man. I think I had seen it in a bookstore once and since that moment had not ceased begging my parents for the book. I remember my Mom kept telling me, “Well, I don’t know, Abby. It’s pretty expensive.” (*At least it was then! Amazon is now selling it used for 25 cents. Depressing. It’s only 12 or 13 years old!) It was about all I could think about for the entire fall–holding that heavy hardback book of wonders, book of all of the beautiful dogs I would one day own and train and love…

So Christmas came. Da-Dan (my grandfather) handed out the presents one at a time, like usual, calling out the name of the recipient while we all waited around anxiously for the next present to come to us. I got a set of plastic dog figurines of maybe 30 or 40 breeds. These were exciting for some time, although I was probably too old to be playing with them. I set them out on the coffee table and waited. The presents kept circulating. No Encyclopedia of the Dog yet. I noticed that the pile under the tree was growing thin.

Then Da-Dan announced, “Well, that’s it, folks. Looks like we had another bountiful Christmas.” I blinked. I did not get my book. My eyes started to well up with tears, but I was old enough to understand that it would be selfish and ungrateful to be upset about it, so I rushed into the bathroom. I think I sat in there for a while, trying to compose my little body, trying not to cry in disappointment.

I heard my Dad’s voice calling from the living room. “Oh, Aaaaabby, come here.” It was his teasing voice. I was afraid to come out, afraid that he’d seen me about to cry and would humiliate me in front of the whole family. I wiped my face with the back of my hand and cautiously walked into the living room. Dad was crouched under the tree. “Da-Dan, it looks like you missed one,” he said, pulling a large rectangular package from the back of the tree.

Could it be… I held my breath. He handed me the package and I tore it open, finding the majestic face of a Labrador staring back at me. The Encyclopedia of the Dog! I think I was so happy that I started laughing, hugged them all, but then stopped and said, “That was mean. That was really, really mean.”

Dad just laughed at me. I spent the rest of the day flopped on my stomach in front of the fireplace, carefully thumbing through every page, every breed group, and reading every page. Pure childhood Christmas bliss–although it came at the cost of slowly suspended terror.

So, what’s your story? What was that Christmas present you begged your parents for as a child?

Christmas came early

Best present ever.

I came home from work today, sniffly and tired, to find the best surprise. There, in the middle of the living room floor, was a white box with a vase of irises on top of it. I didn’t look that closely, and then…


He came out of the kitchen, grinning. Yes, there on the floor was my Christmas present. A month early, but who’s complaining!? My sweet little MacBook Pro. I can hardly believe it! It’s really an amazing feeling to work on a laptop that doesn’t take six minutes to open Firefox. Amazing!

But the best present of all? My sweet husband. Not only did I get this lavish present and a bouquet of flowers, but I also got a steak dinner tonight with malbec on the side! And then we watched “Weeds” before going to the poetry reading. The perfect night with the perfect man.

Be back soon

We almost finished all of our Christmas shopping yesterday. It made me positively giddy. One, because I love buying presents for people; I wish we had an unlimited gift budget. Two, because it makes me feel so TRIUMPHANT. I nearly skipped out of Target humming “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Guion is less enthused about shopping for presents, but he was quite helpful (and by “helpful,” I mean that he played with all of the animated toys in the kids’ section).

I had a very vivid dream last night that I won a labradoodle puppy in a fashion makeover contest. Yes. I know. These dreams! At least my psyche is consistently stuck on puppies. The contest was to see who could put on the best and craziest face of makeup in five minutes or something. I beat out two of Guion’s MFA classmates to win this puppy. As soon as I saw it, I announced to everyone that I couldn’t have a dog in our apartment, but that I was going to give it to my mother. She was less than pleased, but Dad was thrilled.

Leaving for Davidson in just a few hours! I can’t WAIT! We are getting back in town on Monday, so Snax will probably be delayed until Tuesday or later.

We’re on the fast track to Christmas now, people.

Going to go eat some pumpkin pie, be back later,