Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Yesterday, I, like millions of Americans, engaged in the once-yearly tradition of stuffing myself with all sorts of Americana-type foods. You know the ones.
This morning, I engaged in that second tradition of Thanksgiving, not throwing up the starchy contents of my gorging the night before...but shopping.

I woke this morning at 5:15 to go to the bathroom, as one does when one is 39 weeks pregnant. But this time, I didn't go back to bed. I resolved instead to participate in that phenomenon that is shopping on Black Friday. Never one to be sucked in marketers' hype, I was surprised that for some reason I wanted to jump into the joviality. Further, I don't have a great many presents to buy this year (my family is getting a baby for Christmas!). So, my participation in Black Friday was more a social experiment, one that put me out abut $180 after all.

In the darkness of our room, while hubbie slept, I rustled myself together: yoga pants, t-shirt, hoodie, toboggan...(people don't dress up for Black Friday shopping right? I mean, I'm hoping to see people in PJ's). Dog was a bit confused about my early morning and hasty exit. Pulling out of the driveway into the still Black of the early morning, this potentially frantic ritual felt strangely calm. And then I heard it, the normally "adult alternative" radio station that was queued up on the car radio was playing Christmas music. Yes, now I was quite in the spirit...of shopping that is. I turned up the music, and enjoyed the peaceful drive to the mall, encountering only a few cars en route. However, when I reached the mall exit, I was surprised at the red-glow of rear lights already skirting along Ashford Dunwoody.

Now about 5:45, I glanced at the lights and carnival of the mall and saw a parking lot almost 1/2-full already. Across the street, Best Buy's lot hummed with activity, appearing nearly full. Busy patrons carried awkward-sized boxes of digital utopia, basking in the glow of the big yellow-lit sign. My fascination remained. Even though I had not planned on trips to Best Buy, or the mall, seeing the cars and vibrant activity made me feel like I was missing out. The strange electricity of the early-morning put a charge in my veins to jump into the fray, like you would if you saw a large gathering crowd on a city street. But despite not having coffee, my focus was regained and I continued to Target, imagining the melee that may await.

Upon arrival, I noticed that the lot was not jammed. Buy, yes. Chaotic, no. Not so far. This being my first early-morning Black Friday, I had visions of either angry mobs in cashier lines 4-deep, or that I and a few other brave souls may in fact be the only ones out and about, snatching up the deals we'd been brave enough to rise early to earn. The scene as I entered the bright-red, neon-light glow of my neighborhood behemoth was neither "Stille Nacht" nor "Party in the USA," though closer to the latter, I would say. Sadly, I missed out on one of the FREE, fashionable re-useable shopping bags given to the first 500 customers. So I had to settle for bargain-finding to make it worth my while.

Like a good shopper (and one who can easily lose focus), I had a list, a goal and I went for it. A highly-marked-down digital gift for my parents. Ah...HERE were the crowds I'd envisioned, all in the electronics department! Carts, families, short ladies with stacks of merchandise and tired-looking adventure-seekers jammed aisles. I zoned in, asking a friendly staff to direct me to the item I was seeking. Ah, THAT'S what that queue by the digital cameras is all about, I have to buy said item at the electronics checkout counter. I joined the line, one of the herd, wondering if this would be my last chance to capitalize on the $10 gift card with every $100 spent. I begged the help of another friendly attendant who told me yes, all purchases must be made together.

She must have seen my puffy, sleep-eyes, or my pregnant belly and had mercy, allowing me to travel around the store holding my electronic purchase without having to immediately check out. Another tactic for the easily-distracted shopper: carry no basket or cart. If you want it, you have to be able to hold it using only the leverage of your two arms and big belly. Ten minutes, and about 5 items later, I returned to the electronics department. It felt strangely less hectic than minutes before. I think they'd already run out of something. Wow, I guess my early action did in fact save me about $150 I may not have a few hours later.

I checked out, then racked my brain if there was anything else I needed. Well, of course, but anything else that was on drastic sale? No, no...just get back to the car and go home, Katie. See, the fever was catching. I was gaining wisdom into what marketers must already know. These strange shopping phenomena are tremendously worthwhile, the buzz opens minds and wallets to things people never knew they needed. "But it's on sale"..they reason, infected by the dark, chilly morning and bustling crowds.

I climbed in my car, feeling happy for the bargains, but a little empty. Was it over already? The bedlam of Black Friday had only been my companion for a few mere minutes, now I would return home on traffic-less streets, arriving back less than an hour after I left. As drove out past the mall, my hands twitched on the wheel, wanting the strange experience to continue, wanting to hunt for things I don't need amid the melee of other bargain-buyers. Or are half the folks out this time of morning just voyeurs like me? (Voyeurs who still spend about $180). I resisted the temptation and headed home, deciding to be satisfied with what I had gained, both in bargains and life experience. I just wish I would have been earlier to get the free bag, and see if there was actually a line-up at the door. Oh well, I guess my passion for free stuff and social observation isn't THAT keen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Babies, Blueberries, 'Ballers, Oh My!

Life seems to go in fits and starts. A few months will seem to hold nothing significant at best, or at worst, a host of significance, each one of which makes you want to cry. Then those seasons come along that seem fraught with, well, good news. I'm no expert in handling, or explaining, either of those seasons, but suffice it to say that God is wise in his conception of seasons, wherein spring indeed follows winter. And as if not enough, the summer brings the bounty that spring has only hinted at.

So there is my weak attempt at Sunday morning philosophizing as a preamble to what season we, Weavers, are amidst. We are seeing the lights of spring, and the bounty of summer after a cold, dry fall and winter where bad news seemed to lurk around most corners, where even in the good, we waited cynically for the proverbial "other shoe" to drop. An unsold house lurked next door, sapping up our monetary and emotional resources throughout the winter. It's 4-walls lurked in our periphery, a reminder of happier days past when our prior tenants, some of our best friends, lived in community with us. But last summer and fall saw the end of that dream, as their lives took one dramatic turn after another ultimately leading them out of our humble rental home, and leaving us with the whiplash of all those fits and starts we'd endured with them. The most traumatic perhaps being their seperation and divorce. How had our perceived communal bliss turned so wintry dead in just a few short months? And to that backdrop of sadness and confusion, we endured death within our walls. I had a miscarriage in the fall, dampening our hopes that things may be turning around, firming our growing hardness toward life and God, and God-knows-what-else.

But life ebbs and flows, we didn't see it then, perhaps only had dim hope that it would turn around. And by-God, it has. All is not perfect in 2009, fallout from the pain of 08's harsh seasons still lingers, and new disappointments arise, but we have renewed hope...a baby girl in my belly for one. At 21 weeks, my tummy is growing, as is our confidence that maybe this one is for real. We love her already and are immensely thankful for life, after so much dying last year.

Perhaps very soon (as in...not in another 3 months as my blogging cycle tends to be), I will touch on the bluberries and ballers alluded to in this post heading. For now, I'll just leave some pics of our baby. The first is a profile...the 2nd, she's looking at you.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Music Poem

I read this poem today while catching up on a weekend's worth of emails. It arrived in a newsletter from Friday, May Day. Reading it tonight, in the quiet dark of my living room, lit only by the glow from my laptop, made me re-long for the connection that I have always had with music, for the very reasons this poet espouses. But I have lacked such connection of late. I just haven't been listening to music as much. I have no commute, so no consistent car time to soak in music. I like tunes while I work, but as background, not as distractions that may transfix me. So, here is, in print, my renewed committment to music, my goal to spend those unspent iTunes giftcards this next week, and maybe find something transcendent.


by Anne Porter

When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother's piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I've never understood
Why this is so

Bur there's an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.

"Music" by Anne Porter from Living Things: Collected Poems. © Steerforth Press, 2006.
Reprinted from "The Writer's Almanac" produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Holy Week

It's hard to believe that the Lenten season is almost over. We gave up some food-related stuff for the season, and for this Holy Week, the days as we journey toward Easter, I raised the stakes and signed off Facebook. Now, lest you think this was purely as ascetical exercise, it also had to to with knowing my week was rather full with work, church and some social obligations. To not have the temptation of putzing around on FB when instead I should be clocking paid hours, is a good thing.

But there are "holy" reasons too. On this Maundy Thursday, I've reflected on much, now here are a few of my observations from being Facebook free:
  • My propensity to meddle in everybody else's news is quelled and that's probably a good thing.

  • I'm glad to not have to consolidate my life into 150 character snippets. The pressure to somehow say something humorous, clever, profound or provocative every 13 or so hours can be a mounting burden.

  • My imagined connectedness with people has been cut off for a few days, whereby to find out how they are doing, and what is going on, I must CALL them. I've made many more phone calls and e-mails this week.

  • I wrote a letter today. A real-live letter. In part inspired because I received one a few days ago, and in part ABLE because I'm not frittering away precious minutes that turn to hours in an imagined community of 350 or so of my closest friends.

Lest you readers feel the heavy-handed weight of judgment if you're an avid FB-er. Because let's face it, after all this illumination, I'll likely be back in the game once Christ has risen.

Oh, and did I mention that my laying aside of the Facebook burden ALSO happens to coincide with Jeff's and my purchase of a brand new HDTV! :-) So, those hours that would have been wasted on Facebook have been instead spent watching anything and everything I can in High Definition. woohoo!

Peace to you this Holy Week. Joy to you this Easter morning.