merry meat
Before my mother wrapped my grandparents’ Christmas gift, she took it out of its box to show me. She unearthed it from its layers of cardboard and packing, and held it up with a gleam of crazed pride in her eye, the pride of a victorious shopper. It looked like an industrial-strength hypodermic needle. “Uh, what is it?” I asked. “It’s a meat injector,” she said. “I bought it on QVC. You fill the needle with marinades and inject it into your roast or your chicken.” I hesitated. It looked like something you’d find in a dentists’ office or a hospital, not in my sweet grandmother’s kitchen. “Do you think they’ll like it?” she asked uncertainly. My confused expression had already shaken her confidence. I could have lied and said yes, of course! Instead, I just said: “Do they eat a lot of meat?”

On Christmas Day, my grandmother peeled off the layers of paper and lifted up the cardboard inserts with her mouth half-open, ready to say “Oh, how wonderful!” But when she finally got to the needle, her mouth closed. “Oh… ” she said. “What is it?” My mother proudly told her it was a meat injector. “Oh…” she said, trying not to laugh. “Well, that’s something.” My grandfather came into the room just then and noticed her holding the big metal needle contraption. “Wow!” he said. “What’s that for?” My mother explained the whole thing, how she’d got it on QVC, and you could inject your meat with tasty juicy marinades.

Turns out, they don’t eat a lot of meat. (We-told-you-so, my sisters and I chorused.) My mother tried to explain how QVC makes everything sound so super-desirable. “I had to get it before they sold out!” she said.

My grandmother, on the verge of collapsing into giggles, suggested that it should be shipped back to QVC. But first, she and my grandfather posed for some snapshots with the big needle.

Sometimes, observing my family explains why I’m so weird.

oh. christmas tree.
It’s tradition. Every year, before we go pick out our Christmas tree, my dad declares: “Next year, we’re getting an artificial tree.” This year, he had a flash of inspiration.

I said that it’s part of Christmas to go out and pick out a live tree. It’s a fun tradition. My dad replied that it just seems like a big hassle. So many fallen pine needles all over the rug, a whole entire tree gone to waste. But he agreed that it’s sorta fun to go and pick a tree out. “We need an artificial tree farm,” he said. He described a vast field full of fake trees… green ones, silver and white ones, some pre-decorated and playing music. “We’ll serve hot chocolate!” he said. I told him that if he ever starts an artificial tree farm, he can count on me to help run it. I wouldn’t miss that for anything.

update
I got a nose job. Ok, not a real nose job. I had a deviated septum fixed. It’s a pretty minor surgery. It’s not like I had a kidney removed or anything. But yet it still seemed very complicated. One little piece of cartiledge had to be realigned, and yet I had to go to the hospital, get all this blood work done, get an I.V. and a hospital gown that was missing about ten snaps, and a blue shower cap-like thing for my head, and get a general anesthetic and this doctor went to work… when I woke up I decided that this was the worst idea I’d ever had in my entire life. “Feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, huh?” a nurse said sympathetically as I floated in a post-operative haze.

Luckily I’m feeling much better now. I’ve got a sling for my nose. It looks really, really funny.

Patrick was watching t.v. the day I had the surgery and came across this bit of dialogue on Mad About You:

Helen Hunt: You should’ve married that woman with a nose job!
Paul Reiser: You’re so cruel! The woman had a deviated septum!
Helen Hunt: They alllll do.

so many things…
… That I can’t control, can’t predict the outcome of, have no idea what will happen to… I used to think that I could predict the future. I really, really believed that I could. And then I figured out that there’s no way I’d be given the ability to predict the future, because that would go against the whole point of being alive. So where does that leave me? Hoping and wondering. Trying to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

update
I’m back at home for two weeks. I’m sitting here, curled up in a leather desk chair, in a cozy house that’s surrounded by snow. It’s funny how I feel differently about this place and my family every time I come home. It’s like a kaleidescope. The same pieces are all there, but how they fall together makes a different image each time. So this time, I’m happy about the weather, happy to be someplace calm and quiet, glad to see my little sister, and looking forward to lots of good food.