This is probably my last autumn photo of the year. I sure didn’t make this tree, but I did work to save its life one year during a terrible drought that pushed it to the brink. Taking extra steps to keep this pretty piece of Creation around seemed the least I could do for the sake of nature in general and our backyard in particular.
Several random digressions were tossed from the previous entry because I wanted to keep it concise and streamlined for first-time visitors and photo addicts. The following self-Q&A represents what I hope will be the final roundup of anecdotes from our weekend in general, a few reflections on the positive things that came from it, and some eager anticipation of potentially exciting events ahead in 2014 for us and for MCC readers.
So…was that it? You left the con, went home, wallowed in your high blood pressure, and registered your dismay on the internet for all to see? We had a backup plan, but I didn’t expect to have time to use it. After abandoning downtown we headed out west and attended the open house at Who North America. Touted as America’s largest online retailer of Doctor Who memorabilia, they’re normally closed to the public except by appointment, but they open one Saturday every month for a four-hour window. They timed their March open house to coincide with the con and drew at least ten times their normal visitor count. The line to enter was a ninety-minute wait…but at least we were allowed inside. They even announced they were extending their hours to accommodate the tremendous response. We literally applauded their generosity.
All around you are family, friends, and strangers using the excuse of a new January 1st to restart, relaunch, or reboot their lives. You may doubt their sincerity, their dedication, or their grasp on reality, but you’re not in charge of their story arcs. For whatever reason, they’ve decided their “series” needs to begin again from scratch. Some of them aren’t so sure about what they’re doing, but they firmly believe the results will justify the scheme. Some of them will be wrong, but it’s possible a few of them may be on to something.
What if they’re right? What if it works and they win? Can you steal their idea after the fact and hope no one notices? And how can tell when it’s your turn to end your current numbering and start over from #1? Check your life for one or more of the following warning signs:
* Situations and struggles have become so predictable, what once took you twenty-two minutes to solve now takes only two.
* The world around you seems poorly drawn, as if the architect of your universe is distracted and rushing to get each day over with.
* Every other day you’re butting heads with the same arch-nemesis again and again and again, as if there’s nothing better for you to do.
* Your best friends nag you about how your life has become too boring to follow, and keep writing long essays about how they’d make your life 100 times better if they were in charge.
* Your last few decades’ worth of continuity have become so convoluted that you now have multiple conflicting memories of singular events, all impossible to reconcile with each other.
* You find yourself saddled against your will with one or more lame, whiny sidekicks.
* You have a tiny, hardcore group of supporters who think you’re winning at life, but deep down you wish you could sacrifice them all, sell out, and appeal to a much wider, younger, shallower, less discerning audience instead.
* Everyone else around you is doing it, and hopping on bandwagons is cool.
During the solemn, lamentable weekend following last Friday’s senseless tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, Facebook users who were already struggling with their own reactions, the reactions of their friends, and the fights breaking out between friends of conflicting reactions all found themselves interrupted dozens of times over the course of the weekend by the reassuring face of Academy Award Winner Morgan Freeman, perceived as one of the kindliest, most grandfatherly figures in all of Hollywood. His face was attached to a short essay decrying the culpability of mass media in encouraging too many broken young men to become power-tripping mass murderers because of the seedy allure of posthumous headlines and ten minutes of front-page infamy. Few would argue with the content of the well-meaning essay, but this wasn’t just any old essay written by an ostensibly intelligent typist. This was an essay attached to a photo of Academy Award Winner Morgan Freeman.
Somehow the photo imbued those words with a godlike acumen that transcended all racial, economic, and spiritual barriers. Within seconds one out of every one-and-a-half Facebook users was forwarding the words and picture to everyone in striking distance under the assumption that they naturally had something to do with each other. No need for fact-checking, no verifying sources, no asking why Freeman would release a public statement as if he’s an official White House spokesman — someone they knew forwarded it to them, so it had to be true.
What you saw probably resembled this, except more professionally cobbled together and without my modified attribution:
Once upon a time, there was a cute little reindeer candle. I have no idea who gave him to us or on which Christmas, but we accepted him with open arms into our diverse family of Christmas decorations. Unlike other reindeer, he was white and chubby, but no one made cruel albino jokes or excluded him from reindeer games. If anything, he reminded me of me. Like many other candles, he was made of wax and topped with a fuse. Perhaps he was made to chase away the dark, but to us he was too cute and innocuous to light up.
When I retrieved our Christmas decorations from the attic last week, during the unpacking phase I discovered to my dismay that the attic’s complete lack of environmental controls had taken an unkind toll on the little reindeer candle. The summer heat had jump-started the melting process, no open flame required. His hooves and horns were now deformed. A homemade yarn-and-popsicle-stick from someone’s childhood had melded with his poor, softened, formerly rotund face. I yanked it off as delicately as I could, but several strands and dog hairs were stuck fast, leaving him with a scraggly, patchy, mountain-man countenance. He didn’t look very happy to be rescued.
(I’m sure my wife’s to-do list is twice as long as mine, but she’ll be fine because she’s more magical than Santa.)
I’m shockingly ahead of schedule this year. My scorecard so far:
* Put up Christmas tree and indoor decorations. I refuse to retrieve our Christmas decorations from our attic until after Thanksgiving is over. That’s partly because I believe in celebrating a maximum of one (1) holiday at a time. That’s also partly because I hate going up in the attic. It’s cramped and uncomfortable and the door is hard to access and there are harmful pointy nails everywhere. I call it “the Danger Room”. But it has to be done within a week of Thanksgiving or else I suffer my wife’s adorable Christmas-loving wrath. The enclosed photo evidence confirms Christmas tree is go; we have themed wreaths and other Christmas knickknacks in place; and Christmas dinnerware is now in effect for extra credit.
Every year my wife and I pin my company’s holiday party on our calendar for exactly three reasons:
1. It’s a rare excuse to spend quality time together in an adult setting in nice clothes.
2. It’s a free dinner.
3. They’re generous about giving out door prizes to the majority of the attendees.
It’s been a few years since my last door prize, but I try not to give up hope for the first few hours of the party, during which she and I do our best to pass the time with not much to keep us occupied except each other and pure imagination. This is not as easy for us as it is for normal people. We don’t dance or drink. Those I call “friend” usually find reasons to bow out. Those I call “happy acquaintance” are great at pre-planning their seating arrangements with their longtime closer friends. The two of us usually find an empty table, establish our own Island of Misfit Diners, and grant asylum to other loners or latecomers seeking refuge. It’s a necessary service we’re used to providing.