Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ding Dong, Ding Dong...

...Christmas bells are ringing. Oh, wait, make that wedding bells. Yep, in addition to maid of honor (upon arriving at the hotel to get ready on Friday I learned that I'd been promoted from bridesmaid to MOH) and bridal translator, I can now add "wedding chapel bell ringer" to my ever-expanding wedding resume. As guests filed past on their way out of the tiny chapel, I tugged on the rope and sent clangs of good cheer out into the frosty night air.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

There's a first time for everything.

Today, specifically, was the first time for the following:
  • had lunch at Sal & Carvao, a churrascuria (Brazilian steakhouse) which = lots of yummy meat in my belly.
  • tasted swordfish, which = mighty tasty, for fish.
  • received email from pregnant friend with post-doctor's visit update on her developing baby...and the state of her cervix, which = TMI.
  • met the bride of the wedding that's taking place this Friday, in which I am both bridesmaid and translator, which = I'll be the one in a pink dress clutching a Sp/Eng dictionary.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Walking in Memphis

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Memphis with my boss to meet some of the people we've been working with there. While there we had lunch at the Cozy Corner restaurant, an authentic Southern greasy spoon considered to serve some of the best BBQ ribs in Memphis. Well, with that kind of endorsement, it seemed only fitting that I order my first plate of ribs ever (which was incomprehensible to our local dining partners). While I have no other rib tastings to which I might compare my experience at the Cozy Corner, I can report that the BBQ ribs were quite tasty indeed. Continuing the theme, the plate came with BBQ baked beans, which were okay but not anything special, and BBQ spaghetti, which I tried but just couldn't get into. (The unusual combo reminded me of Will Farrell in Elf, smothering his spaghetti with maple syrup.)

My boss and I ended up with some time to kill before our flight back to Chicago, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather (sunny and about 50 degrees...downright balmy compared to what we had left behind in IL) and wandered around donwtown Memphis. We walked up and down Beale St (which I learned is Memphis' home of the blues) and ran into Elvis, which of course required a photo.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Don't tell me this is the last minute.

I've received at least 5 emails today from various retailers announcing their "last minute" sales.

Seriously?! Today is December 11th. There are a full 13 days left before Christmas. I decided not to be rankled by the fact that Christmas merchandise showed up in stores quite a bit before Halloween this year, but I am not about to stand by and let someone proclaim to me that on Dec. 11th I am firmly entrenched in "the last minute." Sure, I understand that when ordering gifts online one is constrained by the number of days required for shipping and delivery, but can't they find some other phraseology that doesn't strike dread and shame into those of us who don't plan to shop online but still have a hefty list of holiday to-dos?

I mean, come on now, Dec 23rd is the last minute. Rushing around to whichever stores are open on Christmas Eve to snatch up whatever's left on the shelf is the last minute. Deciding that a stick of summer sausage is an appropriate gift for your uncle simply because you happen to already be at the grocery store picking up eggnog is what you do at the last minute. On Dec 11th there is still plenty of time to make your list, check it twice, and go about your holiday activities with a sense of decorum rather than haggard desperation.

Except there's not. I mean, yes, I still staunchly believe that 13 days out is hardly the last minute, but a study of my planner this morning revealed that I have very few pockets of time between now and Christmas during which I might accomplish the many things on my list, and while I am enthused about the sundry parties and gatherings and even this curious wedding coming up (though not the pink dress), I find myself groaning inside just a little bit at the lack of white space...

Margins. Margins are important. I set out this last January to reform my use of time, to learn about creating and guarding the margins in my life...those places full of white space outside the confines of scripted life where there is joy in spontaniety, where silence and solitude are not jockeyed out of position by relentless pressures, where Sabbath rest renews the body and soul.

I have to say that though I set out to learn a lesson about margins this year, I have been a very reluctant student, compromising time and again in the name of a busyness ethic on which I can't seem to release my grasp. I thank God for the grace that covers my failed attempts at rest; for another year on the horizon to continue learning this lesson; for another year of margins and white space just waiting to be...left blank.