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Dirty, Dirty Santa

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I take a break from my self-exile in paper-writing-wonderland to report on the results of our small group’s Dirty Santa gift exchange last night. We gave:

  • Our extra copies of C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters and an extra copy of John Calvin’s Golden Booklet of the Christian Life. We feel a little less Presbyterian having given these away, but we’ll manage.
  • A three-in-one picture frame that had been sitting in our bedroom for a while. I’m not sure why. And the unbelievably hideous brass wreath ornament that Noel received at last year’s company Christmas party. There’s an engraved fighter jetĀ  tearing around the world in the middle of the wreath.

Noel received, in a single, black, white, and pink patterned gift bag:

  • 4 pink, green, and white striped cotton napkins
  • 6 write and erase stem markers for all those wine parties we throw; it came in a difficult to open plastic cube that almost proved too complicated for Noel to open
  • 3 orange plastic packs of paper soaps. In citrus!
  • 1 pale yellow plastic tube that the gift-giver swore was for peeling garlic

I received, in a single gift bag:

  • A translucent pink, white polka-dotted, glitter infested bracelet. Words really don’t do it justice.
  • Uno.
  • A magnetic key hider box that says KEY HIDER EXTRA LARGE in incredibly large type on the front. Way to be discreet.
  • The heaviest tea light candle holder in the history of mankind, crafted from some kind of Pakistani stone.
  • And, the ultimate Dirty Santa gift: a length of navy blue velor edged with artificial pine garland and complexly stitched and pinned to allow the lucky recipient the opportunity to wear it as a “Christmas tree costume.” Liz claimed she had worn it for several years. I don’t know how they celebrate Christmas down in Alabama, but that seems like a bit much.

Thanks, Dirty Santa. We can’t wait to give all of this away next year!

Timely at the Time

Friday, November 14th, 2008

I neglected to let everyone know that we were the crashing stock market for Halloween. We’re kind of conceptual dorks like that:

Unfortunately, the flapping skirt ruins something of the red line’s dramatic dive. And maybe Noel looks a little like he’s in prison stripes. But trust us. We thought it was funny.

Up Next: Aliens.

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, Noel and I received these slips in our fortune cookies:

The software developer, of course, was affirmed with the declaration that his financial future was secure. Me? Facing a new semester with a new batch of freshmen and the always combustible departmental politics, I am told: “An alien of some sort will be appearing to you shortly!” Cool.

I’m Here, Feeling Awkward

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

As April and Bets have already chronicled, we indeed all got our new piercings. Because I’m a nerd and a weanie, I just got another hole in my ear…

…and consequently my tale of The Moment of Piercing itself is rather unremarkable. What no one else has commented on, however, is the general atmosphere of the piercing-and-tattooing establishment we patronized. We went to Iron Age on the Loop, which came highly recommended. We also went on a Monday afternoon. And…the place was packed. On a Monday afternoon.

I arrived first. A man with a frizzy beard divided into two ponytails and assorted metal accessories protruding from his face was ushering a client into the back, curtained-off chairs. The woman at the counter — dressed in skinny black with various facial piercings and a purple bow in her ponytail — was surrounded by several concentric rings of clients. Because it was so busy, I quietly took a seat in the waiting area, decided that trying to read “Skater Times” wasn’t going to help anyone and pulled out a journal article instead. Nothing like reading a little Asian American visual culture theory in a tattoo parlor. April called shortly and I announced, “I’m here. Feeling awkward.”

Given the state of anxiety I’ve just described, you may be wondering: “Well, what did the clientele look like, Elissa?”

And I would tell you — and you may be disbelieving — that they were largely middle aged women.

Bubbly and Lovely

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

We were walking hand in hand through our neighborhood tonight.

The man in the white t-shirt and jeans stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, twiddling his cigarette between his fingers and eying us intently.

“You’re bubbly.”

He said, pointing to Noel.

“You’re lovely.”

He said, pointing to me.

And then, with the man clearly pleased with this couplet, we parted.

Symbolism for the Body

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

It’s been a long time coming, but this month Noel and I have finally been offered wine for communion at our own church. It is amazing — even unsettling — how quickly our bodies and minds rewire expectations. After two years of tipping back little cups of Welch’s finest every Sunday, I had grown to associate the solemn words, “Christ’s blood, for you,” with an easy shot of sugary, watery juice-from-concentrate.

When I took wine, I shivered a little. Rather than being a sweet, comforting splash, the wine stung. The initial sharpness and developing complexity jolted me. I can forget the grape juice almost immediately after I drink it. I cannot do that with the wine. The wine lingers. It traces a line of acid down my throat; its tannins linger in the back of my mouth. My body cannot forget it quickly, and so my mind and my spirit are prompted to consider longer and more carefully the gravity of what I have just done.

Isn’t this what Christ sacrifice is? Mingling a sting with layered richness, the wine speaks to the bitterness and the glory, the already and the not yet, that I claim when I take this sacrament.

When we begin to separate the physical reprecussions of the symbol from its spiritual meaning, we begin to veer towards an unhelpful — an incorrect — dualism of spirit and fbody. But God became flesh to save us. He gives us sacraments to call to our flesh, to offer us truth incarnate in touchable, tastable, visible forms. When I take the wine, I relish the symbolism that serves my soul through my body.

Superbia

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

I got my diploma from WashU in the mail a few days ago. I had sort of forgotten that I had actually finished a degree program and now possessed some useless letters that could but probably never will follow my name. It’s a fancier diploma than I expected, all engraving-on-silk-inset-in-leather-folio.

This is all well and good, but the entire diploma is also written in Latin. Every. Last. Bit. Because we are just that special. I am pretty sure that I am a Master of Arts in Art History and Archaeology, but I really can’t be positive, having been marginalized by my own diploma.

I’ve sent it to my youngest brothers — whose classical education Latin may now, at last, prove useful — for translation. But should you, similarly educated reader, choose to translate it for the masses of the internet, that would be cool, too.

Also, I’d prefer not too think too long and hard about the unnerving parellels between my exceptionally non-profit-producing degree and the oft-proclaimed dead language of Latin. Thanks.

Triangle Man

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Today, whilst running, I spent about three tenths of a mile running towards a man shaped like an inverted triangle. He was middle aged, tanned orange, and wearing bright blue running shorts. The important fact, though, is that his biceps took up roughly the entire width of the sidewalk. Like this:

This made me acutely aware of my lack of both bicep girth and summer tan. Despite a recent, brief trip to Florida, I indeed remain a pale-to-medium shade of yellow. In shape language, I felt a lot like this:

Like a geometry proof in motion, we pounded towards each other. I chickened out and darted for the shoulder of the road, momentarily abandoning the sidewalk so he could pass. I was worried a bicep might accidentally knock me in the eye.

Resting, Resting

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Things I am not doing this summer include: taking a language class, writing a chapter, and spending inordinate amounts of time in the library.

Things I am doing this summer include: helping plan two weddings and execute four, watering my garden, remembering why I love contemporary art, traveling, assembling friends’ Ikea dresser, getting a piercing, eating as many meals as possible in my backyard, learning about hospitality, learning about twitter, trimming a chapter into an article, researching evidence of ethnic profiling in World War II visual culture, and running 6 miles.

Yay.

Pow. Pau.

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

A few trees later, my thesis has bee submitted to my committee. I am defending this week Wednesday at 12:30.

triumphant heel

Shortly, I will be nervous about my defense, anxious about talking to three really excellent professors about this half book that I just wrote. But right now, I am triumphant.