Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Grinches Who Stole Christmas

Dear Annie,

I remember several years ago walking on my parents' vacant lot where their custom home now rests. It took over four years to design and build this home... they angled it in such a way as to take full advantage of the view. Almost every room in the house faces towards the mountains, and all have massive windows. It was Christmas, two years ago, that they triumphantly finished construction and were ready to move in. I remember taking their Christmas card photo in the empty living room. My mother set up a small tree with decorations. They were so excited.

I recall standing in the backyard, overlooking the valley, and my mother bragging about how no one could ruin their view. Shortly after this, the neighbor's newly planted tree on the bank mysteriously came down with a fatal fungus, and when the neighbors on the other side moved away, someone had several trees on their bank yanked out in the dead of night. My mother just happened to overhear the new owners one day, while they were standing out on their deck, exclaim dumbfoundedly: "Why... they're all gone!" Two days later my beaming mother showed up on their doorstep, cake and cookies in hand, innocently welcoming them to the neighborhood.

Over the past few years more and more homes have started cropping up across the valley on the opposing hillside. I remember commenting to my mother a while back that she has no control over what is built there. She replied, "It's ok... at night it will be quaint to look out and see all the little glowing homes..."

Today, the largest house across the way is also at the highest elevation. It has a long, barren driveway that steeply winds up to its entrance, with a grand black metal gate at the bottom. The house itself, being a tract home, is rather conspicuous, bright and boxy. We became fascinated with this home, while relaxing on the porch during lazy summer afternoons. Because it sits on a hillside, the swimming pool is technically in what would normally be deemed the front yard. One day, while gazing upon this grand beauty, we noticed two tiny specks swimming in the pool. The couple had just moved in and must have been enjoying their fine purchase. Binoculars in hand, my ever so curious mother was determined to get a better look. She walked over to the edge of our property, and strained to see, hot pink mumu blowing in the wind. To her surprise the couple actually waved back. We laughed and waved, too.

Well, life goes on and we all but forgot about the boxy beauty across the way. Fourteen months ago, however, the aquaphiles decided they'd better decorate for the holidays. Seeing that their abode is so large, adorning the thing with Christmas lights would probably prove quite treacherous. Instead, they had a rather brilliant idea... "Why not turn our home into one big, bright, light?"

Three gigantic spotlights appeared in their front yard one morning, and, for the following week, their home glowed as bright and shining as perhaps the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem. If that image doesn't do it for you, think Gotham city... bat-signal. And then, just when we thought it could not possibly get worse, the couple put colored filters on the spotlights, making their monstrous abode glow neon green.

My parents were horrified.

I could, at this point, insert a picture of the green house for you to see. A photo would not, however, do the thing justice. Simply use your imagination, and then quadruple the magnitude of your wildest spectulations.

Christmas was at our house that year, but no one noticed my mother's Christmas village, or her beautiful lamps and grand kitchen. The green house stole the show, and I have not laughed that hard in a long time.

You have to understand, the windows in my parent's home are so grand that, when you pull up to the front in your car, you can look right through the front windows and see right out the back. Now, all that one notices is the green house leering at you through layers of construction. At night, if you tiptoe out to the kitchen for a midnight snack, the green house taunts you the whole way. It is hard to read a book... watch tv...

They took the spotlights down after the New Year, thankfully, but this Christmas they are back.

Tonight it is wet out and, the glowing behemoth reflects quite beautifully off the thick layer of fog. The windy road up to their entrance is glistening green.

There is no Christmas village this year in my mother's living room, and we had our party at my cousin's.

We've schemed up all sorts of ways to get revenge (which I'll keep to myself in case one of our plots comes to fruition). My mother wants to turn them into the authorities (who she imagines care about our plight). My father wants to leave them an anonymous note. Possibilities include:



I, personally, would prefer to gather the townsfolk and storm their foreboding gate with torches, pitchforks and wooden stakes.

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people. " ~ G.K. Chesterton

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 18, 2008


Dear Annie,

Have you ever noticed that in the absence of light, one’s surroundings become colorless? I'm viewing my black and white world right now through the dim glow of my computer monitor while I sit here typing in the wee hours of the morning. I'm wrapped in a blanket, as I just crawled out from under the covers of my bed. I sleep with the windows open, even in cold weather. Why? Because I'm stubborn.

My jaw hurts. I've been clenching it for the past couple hours while in deep thought. I feel awake. Alive. Passionate. I've been reading something theological, and cannot help but ponder the ramifications. Some people shy away from controversy or a good paradigm shift. I thrive on it. In the end, my faith is always strengthened, and I'm left in greater awe of God. I take delight in His mysterious ways.

Yes, that's right. Mysterious.

Most of the bible is rather matter of fact. It is so... forthright. God states His case simply and feels no need to qualify. Good examples might be: the story of creation, the flood, Jonah,

אהיה אשר אהיה


Thus we have reached the end of this late night voyage through the elusive musings of my mind.

Till next time,

Monday, December 15, 2008


Dear Annie,

Believe it or not, in college I had a pet rat. I don't know what I was thinking really. Perhaps I had read Flowers for Algernon one too many times. I remember driving down to Santa Rosa with a friend, walking into Petco and picking out the rat. The Petco employee informed me that my rat was a female. I named her Aphrodite.

Aphrodite was the cutest thing. So tiny. I could hold her in the palm of my hand. I used to sit in the lobby by the fireplace and study with Aphrodite exploring the sleeves of my sweater. We weren't allowed to have pets in the dorm, but I managed to hide her for awhile.

I must have had her a week or two when quite mysteriously, Aphrodite decided to grow testicles. I switched its name to Hermaphrodite just for fun.

Hermaphrodite often accompanied me about my day. I remember one time in an honors class it was my turn to recite a poem, and just before I began the first line, he took the opportunity to pee all over my leg. Everyone's eyes were on me. I was mortified. Nobody seemed to notice, but I barely made it through the poem! Toting around a pet rat... could there be a more ideal way of accessorizing my insanely short hair and baggy clothes? No wonder I didn't date much in college.

It wasn't long before Hermaphrodite started getting... bigger. I only had a small cage for him. He'd wallow around all day in, well, you know... and I soon became wary of holding him. I remember I'd bathe him in the sink, which he hated! I felt so bad about this.

I don't know if my roommate simply couldn’t take it anymore, or if the dean accidentally discovered him... either way, one day the hall monitor informed me that Hermaphrodite had to go. I didn’t know what to do with the little guy. I had no car to drive him anywhere safe (a rodent sanctuary perhaps?), nor did I know anyone who wanted a pet rat.

My dormitory was way up on the hill, nestled in the forest. I took Hermaphrodite in my arms and trudged out into the wilderness. I sat down in a field and released him into the great wide open. He sniffed the air, his little whiskers twitching. He took a step or two. I'd like to think there was a moment in which he turned around and gave me one last longing look. I waved goodbye and watched as he waddled away, across the dirt and under a nearby bush.

There were tears.

I'd like to say I cried because I was sad to say goodbye. In reality, the great amount of relief I felt at not carrying around such a burden anymore made me realize how pathetic I was. Here I had taken on the responsibility of a pet, and I had failed miserably.

Every so often I ponder the fate of poor Hermaphrodite. I remember going back the next day to look for him. He wasn't there. Did he starve to death or freeze in the cold? Was he snatched by a hawk? Snake food? Owl pellet? Perhaps he lived a long happy adventurous life in the woods, subsisting on wild berries and early morning dew.

Only God knows.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Dear Annie,

Starbucks, in an attempt to capture the holiday spirit, has introduced some new pastries. Everything from mint chocolate brownies to pumpkin scones...and their latest addition, gingerbread men. Today there was one lone gingerbread man left in the display box, and he was squished up alongside the edge of the tray with his head slightly bent, beginning to crack. I felt sorry for the little guy, and decided to rescue him. 

I watch as the Starbucks employee ever so daintily plucks him off the tray, yet still, by the time he slides Mr. Gingerbread Man into the bag, his head has fallen off completely. 

 Awwww. I receive no apologies. The Injustice!

I pick up the bag. It's a long solitary walk back to the office, and he keeps me company. 

"Be still, little one. I will put you out of your misery shortly..."


The little guy is surprisingly edible...

You have lovely pictures of your family posted, and all I have is a sad photo of my decapitated gingerbread man.

Ah yes, it has been one of those days...