Saturday, December 26, 2009

thank you thank you thank you all!

I am so humbled by the outpouring of support that Jonathan and I have received in response (I'm assuming) to my previous post. We received so many kind comments and words of encouragement on the blog, in emails, facebook messages, by phone, and in person.

The morning after I posted the depressing vent list, I received two gift cards in my email inbox. One from an aunt and another from a cousin. They said they were late wedding gifts, but they could not have come at a better time.

Later that night, a friend called to tell me that her family had an extra coat that might fit Jonathan. She brought it over the next morning along with a cute dress for me.

As I went to work that morning, Christmas Eve Eve, I finally started to feel that familiar twinge of Christmas happiness that I'd been trying to figure out how to find.

Upon returning home from work late that afternoon, I stopped in the kitchen to put some leftovers in the fridge and chat with Laura before heading downstairs to our apartment. As I stepped down the first few stairs, I saw slivers of wood, strips of bark, and ripped up paper all over the floor at the bottom of the stairs. 'Cia'd had a good time chewing on stuff last night and I hadn't cleaned it up yet. Then as I took a couple more steps down, I saw a bunch of presents under our little tree.

At first I was confused... I thought Jonathan and I decided not to get each other anything much this year, let alone 9 gifts. I knelt down next to the tree. Each gift had a tag that read either "To: J" or "To: A." Nothing was written to tell us who they were from.

It hit me. We'd been Secret Santa'd. I ran back upstairs to question Laura. She followed me back downstairs to see, saying she knew nothing about it. I called my mom. She swore it wasn't her.

I just have to say that it's amazing what a few unopened gifts under our tree did to lift my spirits on Christmas Eve. I don't think it was the fun of getting stuff that did it, as much as the realization that someone cares about Jonathan and me enough to do something that kind and generous. We decided to leave the gifts for Christmas morning. As I went about my Christmas Eve activities I couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful people are.

After the festivities of Christmas Eve with each of our families, Jonathan and I went home to enjoy each other. We put on some Christmas music classics and lit some candles. I gave 'Cia a bath and picked up the apartment while Jonathan worked on his painting for Josh. At about 11:30, Jonathan had to run over to my parents' house for something he needed for Josh's present. He went upstairs to leave and then came back down carrying a box he'd found on the front doorstep. The tag said "Merry Christmas, Amanda and Jonathan." We opened it to find lots of food, baked goods, and candy.

The next morning we opened our presents from Secret Santa. We got some very nice and much needed new clothes, a cash gift card, a restaurant gift card, and some muffin mix.

Then I noticed an envelope on the tree that I'd missed before. I have no idea when it showed up there. It was an anonymous card with a generous amount of cash inside.

Another gift on the tree was from another friend: a grocery gift card.

We went to my parents' and were received with more nice gifts. Then on to my grandparents where we received a game and another generous late wedding gift that again, could not have come at a better time.

Christmas evening, at the Graceys', I finally succumbed to my first game of Settlers of Catan (thanks Sica) and actually really enjoyed it (and won) despite it's length. Two friends stopped by to visit with their cute kids and dropped off another generous gift card.

We feel so loved.

To all who have given to us, thank you, thank you, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your thoughtfulness and generosity means more than I could ever express. Christmas quickly turned around for me from being a painful reminder of how little we have to a beautiful reminder of how much we really do have in people who love us.

To those who gave us the food, clothes, gift cards, and cash anonymously, I wish I knew who you were so I could thank you personally. Please know that as soon as we have the means, your wonderful good deed to us will be paid forward to another. Thanks for the excitement, anticipation, and true spirit of Christ that you have given us.

We love you all. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

moaning myrtle

I've been wanting to blog more. I really enjoy connecting with people through blogs. My problem is that I'm afraid I'll just keep posting downer posts if I post at all. Thus all the random YouTube clip posts lately. I don't want to use my blog just to gripe, whine, complain, and vent... but on the other hand, I want to write about some of the struggles I've been having lately.

Yes, I could write these things privately, but is there or is there not some great release in just telling the whole world (or maybe 20 people) that life sucks sometimes? ...And then move on. I think there is.

So if you're not in the mood for Moaning Myrtle, then go read nienie. She deals with a lot more than me and still seems happy and upbeat. Whatev. I'm giving in.

If you want to commiserate, read on...

-I got fired from a dream job that I had for three days in August because I wasn't peppy enough.

-I now work in a restaurant under the most power-tripping, demeaning, socially inept, and just plain mean boss ever. I hate going to work but I pick up every possible shift because we need money so badly.

-Actively job-hunting since May has been hurting my ego and slowly killing my soul.

-Jonathan finally found a job. An hour away. $9/hour. 1-2 days/week. bluh.

-I hate money.

-Student loans are the bane of my existence. Sallie #$@%ing Mae wants to eat our firstborn. they also say we owe $3000 that Jonathan never used (in addition to the $15,000 that we legitimately owe). The Art $@!&ing Institute wants to eat our doggy. they say they sent the Sallie Mae money back. Sallie Mae begs to differ. It's a mess.

-If we pay the minimum amounts to our creditors each month, plus rent, we usually can't buy enough food. I bring home food from the restaurant as much as possible and we eat at parents' houses a lot. The pits.

-We keep getting tantalizing possible job opportunities that have all shriveled up and died just as we were getting excited about them.

-Settlers of Catan has stolen my husband.

-My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are getting divorced and I'm so sad/frustrated/confused/depressed/angry about it.

-Buying Christmas gifts is pretty out of the question.

-We haven't been able to afford to get one of our vehicles inspected, registered, and titled in our name. Tonight Jonathan got pulled over and was given a ticket for expired registration. $$$. Now we really can't afford to. The cop said he decided not to impound the car because "Merry Christmas."

-I love decorating and reading design and craft blogs but our place is really blah. Nothing on the walls. No money + lack of motivation = ugly house.

-Policia chewed my only decent church shoes to oblivion. He chewed holes in the halfway decent ones so I still wear them but my feet get wet.

-Jonathan doesn't have a coat. We are running out of pants that don't have holes or stains.

-An old man at work yelled at me and told me I am despicable because he wasn't happy with the amount of time his food took to get to him. Instead of saying something horrible back I held it in. Then I cried. Then my boss threatened to fire me in front of all the customers and coworkers because of something random and stupid. I had to keep serving but I couldn't stop crying. I felt weak and stupid. Then my boss got mad because I was unprofessional for crying in front of customers.

-I have anxiety that someone I love is going to get hurt, sick, or die.

-We still haven't written thank you notes for all of our wedding gifts and I feel terrible about it. People were so generous and I still haven't thanked so many of them! I'm horrible!

-I want to control a lot things that I can't possibly control.

-My digestive system still suffers the effects of Ecuador.

-I will probably get fired for writing all this stuff about work and my boss on this blog. Everyone cross your fingers that he's not an internet stalker.


Anyway... We're fine. We'll be fine. Maybe one day we'll even have extra money and jobs we like. Right now it's just the uncertainty that's so hard. When is it going to get a little easier? Who knows. Will it get even harder? I hope not.

I hear on the news about kids going missing, young spouses dying, and terrible accidents and abuse. I read about people with horrible illnesses and health struggles. I hear my parents report on a refugee family they're helping for Christmas that has no kitchen table, blankets, towels, beds, etc. All of that makes me feel a so guilty for thinking that my life is hard right now. We're mostly healthy. We have the necessities. Why am I complaining?!

The good news is that Jonathan is a trooper. He gets way less stressed about all these things than I do, which is a relief. We can't both be a mess. He keeps me sane. He and the rest of my family are my happy and bright section of life. Everything else seems a little dim and uncertain right now. Thank you, Heavenly Father for family.

...and also for blogs. Writing this all down has been cathartic. I'm glad that I've done it. I won't always blog about hard things but today I am and it's fine.

If anyone else feels like griping, venting, whining, or complaining, feel free to do it in the comments. It'll be fun. Just this once. You can even post anonymously if you need to. I'll also take any advice from anyone on any point I've whined about in the list. In addition, any good vibes, prayers, or happy thoughts in our behalf would mean a lot.

In the words of a new friend of mine (and probably a lot of other people), "Life sucks and then you die. So you might as well be happy." The ultimate pessimist's optimism. I'm going to try it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

you will love

don't know who he is or where he's from but he is awesome. end of story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

favorite movie quote

man: ...the train service has improved so.
Cecil: I always travel by balloon.

from the film "A Room with a View," based on the novel by E.M. Forster.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thank You, BBC

I'm a sap. Can't get BBC's new version of Emma out of my head. It's not available in the U.S. yet but someone posted all 4 episodes on youtube in 10 minute parts.

Jane Austen has grown on me in my old age. Sigh.

My favorite dance scene I've ever seen in a movie. I just love it:

Go check it out if you're an Austen fan. Warning: make sure you have 4 hours to spare over the next couple of days. It's divided into hour-long episodes, but it's hard not to just click right onto the next. Here's the first one.

P.S. Can someone please organize a ball like that? And we all have to dress like that and learn the dances and have a live orchestra. Pretty please?