Saturday, January 15, 2005
So this is the new year
...or how I'm spending my January vacation.

So this is the new year
And I don't feel any different
The clanking of crystal
Explosions off in the distance

The says it feels like 16 degrees outside. It is lying. It feels much colder than that. Then again, I am a total wuss when it comes to the cold. It feels exactly like it did outside when I left Kentucky nearly three weeks ago--last year.

So while Alan was gazing dreamily outside his window, I was careening down I-64 like a bowling ball between bumpered lanes, bouncing from one snowdrift into another. It was a single-file drive from Louisville all the way to the Illinois stateline. The drive should have taken an hour and half. Instead, it took me six hours, and I found creative ways to wedge my car in various collections of snow no less than four times. Thus, by the time I finally escaped the tundric clutches of southern Indiana (I was later told it was the worst snowstorm southern Indiana had seen in almost 70 years), it was already nightfall, and I was far from even halfway to my Oklahoman destination.

I stayed overnight in what may be the world's most disorganized Super 8. It was grand fun, and I arrived in Broken Arrow just in time for Christmas Eve at Grandma's.

Being such a creature of rhythm and routine, being here has completely thrown me off anykind of schedule whatsoever. The week after Christmas I did nothing but work while watching movies, and really, did you really want to hear my thoughts on the Return of the King documentaries and Seinfeld trivia? I had high hopes of accomplishing much reading and writing and deep reflection, but nothing of the sort has happened. It has been a creatively dry three weeks. I just feel so obligated to spend my time in the presence of those people that I rarely have the opportunity to see. And to that extent I do not regret it. But it does mean that the writing on here gets put on hold.

So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self-assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions

I'm not one for cheap resolutions. It just sets me up for failure. The cultural tradition of choosing January 1 as the day of setting unrealistic goals I cannot meet is a foolhardy one, I believe.

That said, I do think it is an opportunity to reflect over the past twelve months, think about what made it a good year or a bad year. This is a good thing to do. Personal inventory time. It was an amazing year. I can look back and without one single ounce of shallow cliche or cynicism say that God is good. Overwhelmingly good. But that needs its own post.

And I bought a pretty girl flowers for Christmas. Could not remember the last time I purchased flowers. Just why exactly did I do this, I wondered not-out-loud? Well, because I could. And because I like her. And because a pretty girl should never go through the holidays without flowers.

So everybody put your best suit or dress on
Let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once

Apparently I was a good boy this year. Santa brought loot. Mostly books and movies. Got some board games, too, so I can entertain the smalltown seminary locals. Grandma bought me The Five Books of Moses, a new translation and commentary by Robert Alter. It was one of those moments where you open a present and you and you alone understand the coolness of the gift. Your eyes are wide as saucers, while everyone else stares, "Uh huh." I'm just weird, man.

Christmas at the White House is a pretty low-key, laidback affair. Christmas Eve is spent across town and Grandma White's house. She's big into games, games involving gag gifts and the like. Dad's sister and her family were there. Three total cousins and a family friend I didn't know, along with our family of six. And this is a tiny condo Grandma and Grandpa have.

Christmas morning is then spent at home with the immediate family. Typically, the kid brother and sister wake at the buttcrack of dawn and wait impatiently for me to rustle my lazy ass from slumber. This year they serenaded me with Christmas carols outside my door at 9 in the morning. Then we rad the tree and split the presents into everyone's individual piles and open them all one by one. It was the first time to experience this ritual with my brother's wife there, and it was my first in about five years. Excellent times.

Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
As thirty dialogues bleed into one

Dialogued with my parents' pastor the other day on the prospects of United Methodist ordination. Still trying to work out that decision-making process, and got good information about the differences between "elder" and "deacon" ordination. Got the phone number of the Disctrict Superintendent to initiate the initial candidacy process. Left him a message to call me back next week. Still, it's a decision requiring a calling and a lot of prayer. And I'm so bad at that.

I wish the world was flat like the old days
Then i could travel just by folding a map

I love movies. I suppose if you know me, you already knew that. I love stories. I love the ways movies make me feel. I love that experience of sight and sound, that feeling unexpressable.

Kid sister sat me down last week and we watched Garden State together. I don't get what she gets that movie. Because I'm the one whose 26-year-old guy, coming "home" for the first time significantly in five years, not really knowing where "home" is really anymore.

Everything changes. My old room has become dad's art studio and office. I couldn't find any of the old stores in the mall. There's a crappy Chinese buffet where the McDonalds used to be. Suddenly there's one of those Turbo Wal-Marts in my smalltown. Don't get me started on the shockingly distasteful name of the new gas station in town, Kum-n-Go.

If there were anyone from high school I wanted to get together with, I wouldn't know how to get in touch. Nearly everyone I knew from college has scattered to the four winds. And good for them. My siblings wisely opted to attend college two hours away. So basically any return to Tulsa and Sand Springs is for the benefit of my parents.

The big question everyone keeps asking: "Where are you going to live after seminary?" I have no flippin' idea. I don't really know where "home" is anymore.

No more airplanes, or speedtrains, or freeways
There'd be no distance that can hold us back.

So I built myself a shelf for my growing movie collection. All those hours invested in watching Trading Spaces has paid off. I painted it two different colors and distressed it myself and everything. I used a real hammer and nails, too. Be impressed.

There'd be no distance that could hold us back
There'd be no distance that could hold us back

I love my parents. Seriously. They're wonderful people. But three in their constant companionship has its moments.

We got dad a digital camera for Christmas. More accurately, we gave him cash so he could pick his favorite one out himself. The next week he spent completely consumed by the quest to find the perfect camera. Every magazine. Every website. Every store. He finally picks it out. It finally arrives in the mail. Now he won't stop taking pictures. Of everything. The six of us were driving through Norman last week, crammed into one car, and facetiously I point, "Hey, that church would make a great picture." Rolling my eyes. Dad: "You're right!" He stops the car in the middle of the road. Gets out, starts trying to figure out best to shoot in the dark. Cars are now honking there horns, since he is blocking traffic. I love dad. But please make him stop taking pictures.

Last week the seminary president coincidentally spoke at the church here. Mom is determined to meet him, so after the service she rushes us out, up the elevator to the pastor's office. She then proceeds to introduce herself, and then introduce her son. Thanks mom, but I'm quite capable of such social rituals. No need to hold my hand at this point.

I love my parents. I really do. Can I come "home" to Kentucky already?

So this is the new year
So this is the new year

So the car CD player that has given me such fits since summer is finally fixed, or rather, replaced. It became such a fiasco I am never offering my business to Best Buy again. You see, when I took it in again right after Thanksgiving, they removed it from my car with the mounting brackets still attached. They shipped it then to Louisville and called a month later to say it wasn't worth fixing and they would replace it at no cost. So I go down to Lexington the week of Christmas, get a new player, drop off the car for a few hours to wait for installation, and then receive a call: "Where are you're mounting brackets? We can't install with those pieces." Well, I reply, you meatheads shipped my friggin' mouting brackets to Louisville. "Oh." So they offered to order the pieces themselves from Toyota and call me. This was two days before I was driving halfway across the country.

It's been a month and they still haven't called. So I broke down and purchased the pieces myself for $18 and now can listen to cd's in my car again. I'll be demanding a reimbursement Tuesday at the Lexington Best Buy. Come check it out. But I will be charging admission.

And Monday morning I shall be departing Oklahoma back to Kentucky. Then Friday, I will once again hit the road and embark through the wild country of West Virginia en route to our nation's capital to visit friends in Northern Virginia and Maryland for about ten days.

So this is the new year
So this is the new year

posted by Peter at 1:22 AM
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