Category Archives: tradition

Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.

I think you’re supposed to do resolutions this time of year. That’s the thing, right? NEW YEAR! RESOLUTIONS!

This is for you, Andreas. I know you'll love this.

This is for you, Andreas. I know you’ll love this.

Thing is, those get broken. You’re all fired up for like a week, then you get tired, and it’s so damn cold (well, unless you live somewhere warm; somewhere warm certainly isn’t here) and you might have resolved to, I don’t know, go to the gym more, or eat better, but again, SO DAMN COLD, and it’s so much easier to shotgun episodes of Elementary and eat a lot of comforting bread pudding. I mean. Not that I know anyone who’s done that. Who would do such a thing? Foolishness.

Yeah, who would eat all the warm bread pudding? WHO WOULD DO THAT?

Yeah, who would eat all the warm bread pudding? WHO WOULD DO THAT?

So instead of resolutions, I like to have some objectives. I may or may not reach these objectives, but they’re something to shoot for…and sometimes they’re long-term objectives, and sometimes lifetime objectives, and sometimes short-term objectives. And I try very hard not to beat myself up if I don’t meet my objectives. Being nicer to myself has been a long-term objective for years. I’m working really hard to keep that one.

My main objective for 2014 (hi, 2014! I am so excited you’re here!) is to be brave.

What? Amy? Amy isn’t brave? Amy’s awful shouty for a coward.

I’m not a coward. I just often take the easy way out, and that’s often the quiet route. I let a lot of life pass me by because it’s easier to not reach for what I want, not speak up, not be direct about things.

Being brave is SCARY. You have to step outside of your comfort zone a LOT to be brave. You have to be willing to get shot down, and you have to be willing to be laughed at, sometimes. But you also get the satisfaction of having BEEN brave. You get to take that home with you. That’s yours to keep.

I’ve already set some of the scaffolding in place for this for the year; nothing I’m going to discuss at the moment, but it’s actually progressing as we speak. (Another objective: not waiting until some random day like the first of the year to start things. I started working on this one big bravery-objective probably mid-2013.)

So, if we had to pick a watchword for 2014: brave. Not in the Sara Bareilles way or the badass-archer-redhead and her bear-mom way, either. Just in an Amy-way, which is a much smaller-spanning way, and probably has very little impact on anyone but me…but I’d like to know that I have it in me to be brave.

2014 is also going to be a year for travel: that’s not as much of an objective, but a given. I have the tickets. I’m going to Europe. The clock flipped over to 12 and it became The Year Amy Goes to Europe. (Well, I suppose technically it’s the year I go to Europe AGAIN, as I’ve been ONCE, but this time it MATTERS.) This is the year I’m old enough to APPRECIATE Europe, and give some people that have my heart some HUGE HUGS. And spend actual face-time with them. Extended face-time. I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this. I’m marking days off my calendar like I’m facing parole in a little under 5 months. Europe! I am so going to rock you with ZOMGs and excited laughter and wild eyes of wonder and hair that is totally intractable! Look out!

Here I come, land of the Finns! We are going to have the best of times!

Here I come, land of the Finns! We are going to have the best of times!

I’m also planning at least one, if not two, trips to my favorite city in all the world (which is…who’s been paying attention? NEW YORK CITY! You win! What do you win? Hell, I don’t know. My applause, I guess!) and will go with/see some more of my favorite people while there. My favorite city plus my favorite people? Total win.

I miss you, New York! It's been too long!

I miss you, New York! It’s been too long!

Maybe some other smaller trips; maybe just little adventures around here. There are adventures to be had close to home, not just far away. There are places I’ve totally not explored here, even after living here for 11 years. It won’t hurt anything to have a few close-to-home adventures. Plus, upside: I know where all the bathrooms/escape routes are!

It’s also going to be a year of books (not a surprise to anyone that knows me, I’m sure) and theater (again, not at all a shocker) and catching up on television shows and spending time, both in real-time and internet-time, with the people I love, and none of that varies from this year. Those things have all worked. You keep the things that worked, you see. The things that didn’t, you boot to the curb. You don’t need to carry those things with you into your shiny new year. If you keep carrying around all that garbage, you’ll give yourself a sore back, you know?

And I’m going to risk things, and go on adventures, and I’m going to be brave, because you don’t get anywhere if no one knows you want to go. You can’t just sit at the station and watch the trains go by; you have to get up your courage and get ON one of those trains. Where it’s taking you? Well, you might have an idea, but it also might be a bit of an unknown to you. And that’s the scary bit. But you’re never going to go if you just sit and watch. You have to actually be part of what’s happening.

Here’s to stepping in the middle of it and not getting trampled. Welcome, 2014; your big brother 2013 hasn’t been overly kind to anyone I know, and we’re all so, so glad you’ve arrived. You be good to us, ok?

Welcome, welcome, happy new year! I'm so glad to meet you!

Welcome, welcome, happy new year! I’m so glad to meet you!


Rites of Spring

Here we are. Sunday! And a lovely Sunday it is. Birds are chirping! The sun is…well, it’s not really shining, but it’s trying to, if the damn clouds would get out of the way. A person barely needs a coat!

I’m going to say it, even though I’m probably risking the wrath of the weather gods in doing so. SPRING HAS SPRUNG, my little chickadees!

I’m so excited about this I can barely sit down for the time it takes in order to write this post. Eh, who am I kidding, I love sitting down.

Spring is my favorite season of them all. I like summer, except I hate heat because who likes to be sweaty unless you’re doing something a little naughty that makes you sweaty? I mean, walking to the car should not make you sweaty. There’s nothing naughty about that. I like fall, except it leads to winter. And I HATE WINTER. I hate snow and I hate cold and I hate wind and I hate ice and I hate heavy coats and boots and hats and all things related to winter. Except hot cocoa. I’m down with hot cocoa.

But spring! Spring is just the best thing. It’s like a gift to us all from nature. The air smells like a promise. Beautiful things start to grow. Trees start to shyly peek green at us. You can open the windows and your place can smell a little less like you’ve been cooped up in it for months and months and a little more like humans ought to live in it. There are mud puddles and sometimes crazy wind and rain storms and it’s all very exciting and very new. I never get tired of spring. I’d live in a year-round spring climate, if there was such a thing somewhere.

They're like a little surprise! A little nature surprise!

I know this year we didn’t really have a winter, so you’d think I wouldn’t be as excited about spring springing, but I totally still am. SO EXCITED! I have got the worst spring fever. Yesterday at work I did NOT want to stay inside. Obviously, that isn’t an option, as we work in a call center. I mean, it’s not like you can move a whole computer and phone setup to the picnic table. But OH how I wanted to try. It was BEAUTIFUL outside. I want a dog all the time, but more so in the spring, so we can go adventuring and smell all the smells and see all the sights. I want to feed the ducks to thank them for coming back for another year. I want to hug strangers. OK, that’s one step too far. I’m not hugging any damn strangers. But I can’t say the thought doesn’t cross my mind. I AM FILLED WITH SPRING FEVER.

I used to love a boy who loved Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. I think I kind of fell in love with him starting with that factoid, honestly. He was writing an epic poem based on the music. Tell me you wouldn’t have fallen in love with a deep, dark, twisty blue-eyed poet writing beautiful words based on an almost century-old musical work. You can’t tell me that, because it would be LIES.

So today I was poking around online, you know, as one does when one lives in the internet, and found a list of things that cultures and religions do to usher in spring. Well! THAT is exciting. Since the spring equinox is Tuesday, we should probably celebrate. Here are some things we can do. Ready? SHUT UP, YES YOU ARE.

In Japan, March 20 is Vernal Equinox Day. It is a NATIONAL HOLIDAY. Are you LISTENING, Merka? Japan gives the FIRST DAY OF SPRING as a NATIONAL DAMN HOLIDAY. I approve, Japan. I highly approve. Let’s see what Japan does on their amazing, springy, day off from work.

Um. They spend the day visiting family graves and holding family reunions.

I take it BACK. Japan! Way to ruin a beautiful spring day. No one wants to fight with Aunt Matilda over how salty her baked beans are while visiting a cemetery on their day off. Day off FAIL. Sigh.

(Apparently, they also take some time to look at the cherry blossoms. OK, I’m a little less down on Vernal Equinox Day now. Because, look!)

Nowruz is the Iranian New Year, celebrated around March 21. The first thing that is done to celebrate Nowruz is a huge spring cleaning. Well, I’m down with spring cleaning. This place has more cat fur in it than you can even imagine. Dumbcat is SHEDDY, you guys. OK, cool, so we’re spring-cleaned. Then what, Nowruz? Then we buy new clothes and a whole bunch of spring flowers. LISTEN. This is awesome! I want to clean my whole house, then dress up all fancy and get some blooms. This is going great so far.

Then people go to visit their friends and neighbors while wearing their fanciest clothing and give each other gifts. WHAT KIND OF AWESOME HOLIDAY IS THIS. Because I totally want in. The best part is? People visit each other “in the form of short house visits.” SHORT house visits. Like, you don’t even have time to get SICK of your visitors! I like this so much, Nowruz. Wikipedia says the visits are half an hour. Awesome, I could totally visit with anyone for half an hour without getting stabby. Also, GIFTS! And “pastry, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and special nuts, tea or sherbet”! I am SO DOWN WITH NOWRUZ.

Look at this fun display! I want some of these things. The lamp makes me laugh, though. HI, LAMP.

In Egypt, the beginning of spring, Sham el-Nessim, ALSO A NATIONAL HOLIDAY, AHEM, MERKA, is celebrated with picnicking in gardens, along the Nile, or in a zoo (OK! Yes, please, Egypt, I want to picnic in a zoo), and a delicious meal of fish, lettuce, onions, beans, and colored eggs is consumed on your delicious zoo-picnic. I like that colored eggs are like a universal sign of spring, don’t you? So cheerful.

Don't Easter eggs totally make you more cheerful? What, they do. It's like a RULE.

Oh, hey, this one’s for Andreas! Look, Andreas, these are your ancestors! According to Wikipedia, there was a Scandinavian “sacrificial holiday” on the Vernal Equinox called Dísablót. I like how they don’t come right out and SAY what that means but if you read between the lines I’m pretty sure it means they were sacrificing people so that they could have better crops. Andreas! What’s going on with this? Apparently, Valkyries and kings with harmonious names like Alfr were involved. And now, instead of sacrificing people, there’s an annual market in Uppsala. Samesies! Hey, I remember Uppsala! They mentioned it in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I think. THIS IS ALL VERY EXCITING. I want to go to a Scandinavian market with roots in a bloody sacrificial holiday! What could I buy there, I wonder? Man, Andreas’s ancestors have ALL the fun. I don’t even know who mine WERE. Grump. Grump.

Look, here's the market. I was going to put in a picture of the "sacrificial holiday" but to be frank they scared the beejeebers out of me.

Oh, shit, and, AND, apparently, there’s a World Storytelling Day around the Vernal Equinox and it started in Sweden. But obviously now it’s WORLD Storytelling Day. Well, THAT’S exciting. I like stories. And telling of stories. This year’s topic? “Trees.” I think I could tell a very exciting story about trees. I don’t think it would be along the lines of what they were looking for, though. It would have more chicanery. And nefariousness. Probably more spies, too. And douchecanoes. Let’s be frank, I’d be kicked out of the conference.

Apparently in Maryland, where I am TOTALLY GOING THIS SUMMER, they have a “burning of the socks” ceremony at the Vernal Equinox every year. The fancy boat people have to wear socks all winter. They don’t like that. So when the spring hits, they burn their socks. Now, listen, Maryland, I am torn about this. A., I hate socks and would walk around sockless for the rest of forever if given the opportunity. Also shoeless. I’m like a damn hippie about not wearing shoes, if given the opportunity. HOWEVER. I love socks. I know, isn’t it ironic, Alanis Morrissette? I have a whole DRAWER of wacky socks. I LOVE wacky socks. I have cat socks and Wallace and Gromit socks and Goonies socks and penguin socks and frog socks and turtle socks. ALL THE SOCKS.

The sheer fact that this popped up when I did a search for it worries me.

So I’m kind of six of one, half a dozen of the other on the sock-burning issue. (SIDE NOTE – I can NOT, for the life of me, get that saying right. I always say, “I’m five percent of one, a dozen of the other on that.” Or something like that. It’s different every time. And my coworkers are all, “You’re WHAT?” and look at me like I’m nuts. I AM NOT GOOD AT THINGS THAT INVOLVE NUMBERS AND METAPHORS AT THE SAME TIME OR SOMETHING. Leave me BE.)

And of course we have the Wiccan celebration of Ostara. Sound like anything you’ve heard of? Anyone? Anyone? YES YOU IN THE BACK. Oh, Easter? Yes, you win a bag of Cadbury Mini-Eggs (what, they’re only the perfect candy.)

The pagan celebration of Ostara, celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, was co-opted into Easter by the Christians, because they had to quick quick like a bunny make all the pagans be Christian, but the pagans didn’t want to give up ALL their holidays! So they just said, here, we’ll pop Christ on the cross around the same date as your Ostara, who knows what time of year that all really happened, it was so long ago, we’ll call it Easter, those sound similar, and hell, we’ll even let you keep your pagan bunnies and eggs and chicks and shit. Are we cool? ARE WE COOL, PAGANS? Because if we’re not, we’ll totally kill you.

And the pagans were all, um, yeah, we’re cool. Guess we’re cool. Guess so.

Ostara is the celebration of the Vernal Equinox. It’s totally joyous. It’s when the Goddess and God reunite. It’s totally a sexy holiday, you guys. It’s a holiday of fertility and reunion and all good things. You know why bunnies and eggs are the symbol of Easter, right? Not because of Jesus. What does Jesus have to do with bunnies and eggs? Nothing. Because SEX, that’s why. Because pagans and sex. Who doesn’t want a sexy holiday filled with sex? Also, Eostre (sounds like Easter, right? Because it IS) is the goddess of fertility. You want to hear about a sexy goddess. She’s one hot mama. Eostre is this voluptuous sensual goddess of fertility and sex. Wherever she steps, she leaves green GRASS and FLOWERS, she’s so damn fertile. Whoo.

I like Ostara. I like Ostara very much.

Did we learn anything today? No, not much. Other than listen, GO OUTSIDE. The air smells like magic. There’s squelchy mud. Flowers are coming up. You can’t be sad, because you can sense something’s coming, something bright and beautiful and shiny and new.

Also, if all else fails, go get some Mini-Eggs. Nothing’s wrong with a little candy-covered chocolate in your mouthhole. NOTHING.


Consider this the slip that brought me to my knees

We were discussing Lent the other day on Twitter. I was cheering on some friends who are participating in Lent, while explaining that, although I find it beyond admirable whenever anyone goes through Lent, I no longer participate in the practice, because I am a stubborn ass when it comes to Catholicism. This brought up some curiosity as to why this is.

No, not why I’m a stubborn ass. If you could answer that question, you’d win the prize. I can’t even answer that question. Genetics? Nature? Nurture? My most influential role model growing up was (and remains) the most stubborn man I’ve ever come across in the history of ever; I’m sure that plays a part. My brain just being wired that way? I don’t know. I’m stubborn, and I can, and often am, a complete ass about it. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to it. I can’t often explain my actions to myself. Sometimes I even say, “Amy! Stop being such a stubborn ass!” TO MYSELF. It doesn’t often help. I just keep assing along.

No, why I’m a stubborn ass in relation to Catholicism was the question. I’ve touched on it now and again here, a few run-ins I had with various clergy members or things that have happened to me over the years in the church. There was the time I was kicked out of churchschool for standing up to the bully asshole priest who screamed at the Planned Parenthood employee; there was the time I was so mad at the games we had to play in churchschool I refused to participate, and therefore I became an object lesson for the entire congregation.

Neither of these explain why I refuse to go to church anymore. I still attended church after these occurred. I attended church right up until a little after grad school, actually. Then I’d had enough, so I stopped.

Now, before I start this, please bear in mind: I am not attacking the Catholic church, or any church, or any religion (well, except for maybe cults. I’m scared of cults. Or religions that are yelly about things. Or religions that get in my face. Other than that: you go, religion, you go.) This is MY PERSONAL TAKE ON SHIT. If you want to be an asshat and all “YOU HATE GOD” or whatever, you know what, go do that over there, or something, I don’t have time or energy to deal with your shenanigans.

It all came down to this: I could no longer attend an institution that was making me pray, on a weekly basis, for social issues to be resolved in a manner that was opposite to what I believed in.

Sure, there were other things. There was the time there a senile priest chased me out of the confessional screaming “GET ON YOUR KNEES AND BEG FOR GOD’S FORGIVENESS YOU HEATHEN” (wish I was kidding, you guys), there was the evil priest, for whom a special circle in Dante’s inferno is reserved, one where fingernails are pulled out OVER AND OVER AND OVER, who called my mom up at work and called her the Whore of Babylon (yeah, I know, right?) because she and my father refused to donate substantial amounts of money so he could get a new rectory; there was the time that same priest installed a rearview mirror in the confessional so he could see who was making confession even though it was supposed to be anonymous, I assume either for blackmail or gossip purposes. But those were individual incidents, and not indicative of the church as a whole. So I kept going.

Then there was the hypocrisy. I like rules. I approve of rules. I think, as a society, we could benefit from following the damn rules a little more often. But no one was following the effing rules of church, yet people were still GOING. People would be eating Egg McMuffins in their cars in the parking lot, then going in and receiving the Eucharist. THAT’S NOT THE RULE. You’re supposed to fast before you receive the sacrament. THOSE ARE THE RULES. People would only attend a mass here or there, usually the ones where you got goodies, like palms or ashes, and then be all, “Yep, I’m a good Catholic.” You attend ALL the masses and ALL the holy days. THOSE ARE THE RULES. People that I KNEW were horrendous human beings in real life would be at mass on Sundays. I’m pretty sure you were supposed to be at least ATTEMPTING to follow God’s teachings ALL WEEK LONG, not just piously showing up in church on Sunday. RULES. RULES. RULES.

But that was on them, not on me. So I kept going. Good Catholic girl, parents raised me to attend church, I kept going. Not saying I didn’t miss a mass here or there, especially in college when I was too hungover to get out of bed on Sunday mornings, but I made an effort. I tried to do my best. I still believed in what the church stood for, the greater good of it all. I kept going.

Years passed. It weighed on me, more and more. But I kept going.

Then this weird new practice started, and that was when I drew the line.

At the end of every mass, right before we could leave, we all had to stand there while either the priest or a deacon or one of the readers stood up and read off a list of things the church, as a whole, was praying for that week. And we all had to put our arms and hands up in a Sieg Heil salute throughout. No, I’m not kidding. Did I have the only church that thought this was a good idea? There have to be some Catholics reading this. Did your church make you pray for things while Heiling? Was this a thing? Is this still a thing?

So the first time I looked around, trying to catch someone’s eye to share the delicious insanity of “hey, we’re totally doing the Sieg Heil thing, this is cuckoo-bananas, right?” but everyone had dead, dead eyes. Like a cult. Like a dead cult. IT WAS ALARMING. It was grainy WWII news-reel footage of Hitler youth alarming. I did not like it one little bit.

So I just stood there and refused to put my arm up. I wasn’t Heiling ANYONE. I felt like I’d fallen into a bodysnatchers movie.

Then the person reading started reading what we were praying for. Poor people. Cool, I could get behind that. At the end of each statement we were supposed to respond something. At this point, many years later, I have no idea what that is. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, it was “Let us pray.” I don’t know what it was. I barely remember what I wore yesterday. (I’m lying. I wore my Dr. Horrible shirt and it was AWESOME.)

So, poor people. Cool, cool, cool. I mean, I wasn’t Heiling, but I could say “Let us pray” to that. Fine. Then something for more clergy members, or whatever. Some things that I was completely down with and found to be not-at-all-objectionable.

Then we got (and I’m working from memory and imagination, here, so bear with):

“Let us pray for the homosexuals; that they see the error of their ways, and find God. Let them come back to God and realize that the only true love and marriage is that which is found between a man and a woman.”

WHAT THE HELL.

I mean, I wasn’t an idiot. I knew the church was totally anti-homosexuality. But they didn’t usually SAY it. Not in MASS.

I wasn’t “let us pray”-ing for that shit, no no, not me. Not with over half of the people I loved more than anyone BEING those damn dirty godless homosexuals. So I just stood there, refusing to Heil, refusing to let-us-pray.And kind of getting a head of steam, honestly. And an Amy head of steam is never a good thing. They usually boil over. Someone gets scalded.

Then some other filler shit, then we got:

“Let us pray for the aborted babies, who have been killed, through no fault of their own, by their mothers. Let them enter heaven, whether baptized or not. Let the government see the error of its ways and outlaw this barbaric practice.”

AW HELL NO.

OK, first you attack my best FRIENDS, then you expect me to Sieg Heil away my right to frigging CHOOSE? Nope. Not going to happen. HEAD OF STEAAAAAM. Also, separation of CHURCH and STATE. You aren’t supposed to talk about the GOVERNMENT in here. Yes, yes, that’s not what that MEANS, FINE. Either way. STOP BRINGING YOUR POLITICS TO MY ALTAR.

And everyone else around me, dead, dead eyes, were just standing there, arms outstretched, mindlessly, thoughtlessly “let us pray”-ing. Probably not even listening to what was being said. Not even thinking about what they were throwing their words behind.

That was when I realized: there was a very, very good possibility I think too much to attend mass anymore. Because I overthink EVERYTHING. The rules. What’s being said. What the things being said MEAN. Why we’re doing certain things as opposed to others. Why there aren’t any female priests. Why priests can’t marry. Why there is so much pedophilia in the Catholic church. Why we’re Sieg Heiling to social issues that are the VERY REASONS I choose which political candidates to vote for, or against.

But I thought, maybe this is just a special-occasion thing. Maybe this isn’t going to happen every week. Maybe this is going to happen once in a while, and you can just stand here and 1967 conscientious-objector this shit out and all will be well.

Nope. Every week. Every week the same old “pray for the dead babies” and the “pray for the godless gays” and me standing there looking around the congregation for someone, ANYONE, who wasn’t just Heiling away their soul and not finding a single kindred spirit.

So I couldn’t go anymore. It was over for me. Just, over. Done. Other than once or twice (once because the priest mentioned in the link above was in town, and I wanted to see him because I loved him more than almost anyone, and a couple times for Christmas when my parents’ wheedling became just waaaaay too intense, before I finally put my foot down) I haven’t been back since.

Do I miss it? Yes. I miss the gorgeous ritual of it. I miss the routine. I miss the rules. I miss the pageantry and the iconography and the stories. But the magic of it was gone for me. I can’t stand behind an institution that hates women and believes that homosexuality is evil. I can’t. I wouldn’t put up with it from a politician in office, I wouldn’t put up with it from a friend, and I won’t put up with it from my church.

The worst part is, I don’t believe this is what Jesus would have wanted his church to come to, were he here today. Jesus was a progressive dude. He was all-inclusive. Back in the day, he was friends with tax collectors and whores, who were like the dregs of society, you know? He was the original hippie. And you’re telling me that a church, founded on this man’s teachings, wouldn’t change with the times and accept all people, regardless whether their plumbing’s an innie or an outie or who they choose to bed down with at the end of the night? Really? You think I’m stupid enough to go along with that?

I’ve tried other religions, because I miss the magic. I really do. I miss the belonging and I miss the belief in something. But my heart will always be with Catholicism. See, that’s why I say, don’t even attack me, because this isn’t an attack on Catholicism. I LOVE CATHOLICISM. I do. I just don’t like where it is, as opposed to where it could be. And I can’t, in good faith (heh, pun intended) back that horse.

Do I believe in God, I suppose, is your next question. And that’s a huge one, right? One that most people probably don’t even want to discuss. Well, listen, if there’s ever been a place to discuss it, it’s here, so I might as well get it out of the way. I believe in SOMETHING. I think there’s something out there. I’ve seen too many things happen that are too coincidental to be coincidences. I think there’s some sort of master plan, sure. It’s nebulous, but it’s in place. Somehow. What is it? What the hell do I know, I’m not in the inner circle. Is the higher power God? Jesus? Gaia? Buddha? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW. I don’t know if there’s even a name on it, honestly. I just think there’s something. SOMETHING. And I respect the right of everyone else to believe – or not to believe at all – in their somethings, or their nothings. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, and as long as you don’t get too shouty about it.

So yes. I’m stubborn as hell. I won’t go to church with my family when I’m home, which upsets them to no end. But it’s not like they think – because I hate the church. It’s not that at all. It’s because if I enter a church for mass, I’d feel like I was a hypocrite, no better than that guy chowing the Egg McMuffin in the parking lot before mass. I can’t stand behind some of their most basic beliefs, so the church is not for me. If it changes? If they decide to change with the times, embrace the social issues that are dealbreakers for me? Stop railing against homosexuality, accept a woman’s right to choose, allow female priests, and allow male priests to marry? Then yes. I can see myself attending mass again. Because I do miss it.

I’m a stubborn ass. I know that. I know that’s true. But I also know I don’t belong in a room of thoughtless people with their hands raised, saluting and praying for things that they aren’t even listening to, one eye on their watches, thinking about getting home for football. I have better things to do with my Sundays. I usually spend them at a theater. That’s a kind of a church, for me. More all-inclusive. More welcoming. And, if done well? Totally a religious experience.


Christmas Wrapup: Banner Year at the Bender Family

OK! NOW let’s have some fun, shall we? The unpleasantness out of the way? Yes. Good. GOOD.

How were all of your varied holidays? Fantabuloso? I hope so!

I am HOME. Finally. I had a lovely time full of family and fun and various shenanigans, but now I am home in my own place and all is well and I don’t have to be back to work until Wednesday. That is awesome. Will wine be had? Yes, I think it will be had! But listen, a sad thing happened? I brought wine home, and FORGOT IT THERE. I know. It’s the worst. My mother is totally going to drink that now because she liked it a lot. It was the delicious no-hangover magic Olive Garden wine, of course she liked it.

OK! Let’s get to it!

Push th’ little daisies

So, as planned, when I got home on Friday, I said, “mom mom mom CEMETERY” and she said “YES GOOD” and my dad said “you’re both insane people.” I was encouraged to bring a Monopoly hotel by one of my favorite commenters, Renni, but I could not find one and also it was balls-to-the-wall cold on Friday in upstate New York so I didn’t think we’d want to be setting up tableaux.

We were also in a crazy hurry because right after the cemetery, we had to pick up THE NEPHEW! SQUEE! from daycare. When I talked to my brother and told him we were going to the cemetery, he said, “You’re not bringing my son to the cemetery, are you?” so I had to reassure him that no, we were not, in fact, bringing a toddler to the cemetery so I could lay on my future burial site while he waited.

So we got to the cemetery and we visited my grandparents. “Amy, you’re not supposed to stand ON the dead people,” my mother said. “They like it, I think,” I told her. She just rolled her eyes. (There are rules? For where you stand in a snow-covered cemetery? Man, there are rules for EVERYTHING.)

Then we got to MY GRAVESITE. Mom got the shower curtain for me to lay on out of the car.

“Mom, that’s not a shower curtain, that’s a teeny dry-cleaning bag,” I said.

“I know, but I didn’t think your blog people wanted to see the shower curtain. This will be less conspicuous,” she said.

“I’m going to get all snow on my ass,” I responded.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, you are.”

So then I had to decide, which side did I want my eternal resting place to be on? My mom’s side, or my dad’s? I decided my dad’s because you could see the trees better from his side.

I totally got freezing cold snow all on my ass. ALL FOR YOU DAMIEN.

My mom didn’t like this one. Because my mouth was open and you couldn’t tell I was in the cemetery enough. Who knew she was such a photo critic?

She was more into this one because I looked more dead. And you could see the tombstone. Nice job, Mom!

Then I said, “Let’s do MORE, my ass is already frozen anyway, what the hell.”

These are me being a ZOMBIE on my gravesite. My mother said no one would know I was being a zombie but I think it’s pretty obvious. I mean, look at my totally scary claw-hands and growly-face.

When I showed these to my father, his responses were:

“Please tell me no one else was in the cemetery” (this was in response to the totally normal dead-person photo) (PS no, there wasn’t, but I still would have done it if there was, I did make you all a promise)

and

“What the hell are you doing with your hands and face in these photos here?”

When I told him I was being a zombie he said he didn’t want to talk about that anymore because it was too scary. When I told my brother he said that only serial killers, rapists, and people with one hand read blogs (I couldn’t make this up if I tried – one hand? Really? I don’t even know) so he refuses to believe I’m actually a blogger because what kind of idiot would write things for those type of people to read, and then he put his hands in front of him like a mummy, and I had to explain that I wasn’t being a MUMMY in the cemetery, but a ZOMBIE, but I wish I had thought of that because a mummy would also have made a sweet photo if my ass hadn’t been freezing due to the fact that dry-cleaning bag was very, very small and also not very insulating.

THE NEPHEW ZOMG

OK, so you know how when I left I was a little excited about seeing The Nephew? Well! I guess I underestimated how awesome he is. Because think of how awesome I thought he was a few days ago, and multiply that times oh, I don’t know, A MILLION TIMES, and you kind of touch on how awesome he is.

Things The Nephew did that were filled with so much awesome I can’t even:

  • He watched Frosty the Snowman for the first time at daycare. He did not like the magician who kept trying to take Frosty’s hat. The magician scared him. So he hid in a playhouse until the magician was gone. When I tried to tell him that he could just cover his eyes, he said, “No, the playhouse is where you go when a scary magician comes.” That is excellent advice, and very specific. I approve.
  • He pretended to sneeze, and when someone said “Bless you!” he very practically responded, “No. I made that up.” He’s already making things up. And then admitting it! GENETICS.
  • Even though he has not seen me in four months, which, in toddler-time, is like seventeen years, he was not scared or freaked out by me at all. He let me pick him up right away and everything. Excellent taste.
  • His fallback answer for everything is to give it a gender. “I am a BOY. You are a GIRL.” This will not be adorable when he is, say, eighteen, but right now it is the best.
  • At one point, he was saying “no” to something I said (you’re probably all aware of this, but at the age of two and a half, the thing to do is argue everything everyone says to you, ever, for no apparent reason. It would be annoying if it was anyone else’s child; I found it ADORABLE) and I tricked him by agreeing with him. “Yes!” he then said. “We have reached an accord, then,” I told him. This was the funniest thing I told him all weekend, apparently; it cracked him up for a number of minutes on end. Words ARE fun, The Nephew! I love you!
  • When opening Christmas presents, he opened three Hot Wheels racetracks in a row (different ones, but they all fit together to make one huge track full of awesome.) When he got to the last one, he looked up with very bright eyes and said, “You got me this because you love me?” Grinch heart, three sizes, you know the drill.
  • Sometimes when he was crying for no apparent reason (you think the Terrible Twos are a fallacy? YOU ARE WRONG. However, if you love the child so much that your whole brain turns to mush when you see him, it isn’t annoying. I think maybe this is why parents don’t murder their children) if I would scoop him up and have a chat with him about what was wrong or distract him or make a face or something, he would stop crying and smile at me and it might well have been the best thing since ever. Just saying. Also, I win at aunting.
  • If you pretend you’re going to eat your nephew’s ham because he won’t eat, that makes him want to eat it, and then you win at getting a toddler to eat. You have to also act sad that he got to it before you did, though. Or else you’re not committing to your role enough. They know if you’re faking. They’re like the toughest theater critics you’ll ever meet.
  • I got to read six books to him. It was also the best.
  • When it was time to say goodbye for the last time of the weekend he let me put all his winter clothes on him and kiss his cheek and tell him how much I love him and then my Grinch heart shrunk back up and hurt a little.

That is the story of The Nephew. To recap: he is the best. My father tried to take a photo of me reading to him but the camera decided it didn’t want that so it didn’t work. Instead, here’s a photo of him opening a present.

I have ones of his face, but how do I know you don’t all have one hand? My brother said you might, and now that’s all I can think about.

Presents on the tree

I got a kajillion presents because I am spoiled. It has come to my attention that this is not normal, so I will not rub this in your faces.

Things that were standouts:

  • A lava lamp (Why? I don’t know. It makes me smile, though.)
  • A new GPS because my old one wouldn’t update anymore no matter what I did and wherever there was construction it showed me driving in empty space like my car was a forging a new Oregon Trail or something and what if I was going to die of DYSENTERY? I used to play that game, that always happened
  • A gorgeous necklace from my uncle who has the best taste
  • The best nail polish ever that I’m totally putting on tonight
  • A handmade quilt
  • Many other things that I’m kind of embarrassed to talk about because I guess it’s not normal to have a trunk and backseat filled with gifts when you come home from Christmas so I’ll stop now.

Also, The Nephew’s mom bought me a Kindle, only she was informed that I’m violently anti-ereaders so she returned it and bought me other things that I love to death instead. I feel kind of badly, because that was totally so nice of her and so many people WANTED a Kindle for Christmas, and I’m kind of an asshole, but I really can’t see that I’d use it for anything, and I can’t afford books or any movies or television shows to put on it, and I have my phone for email and Twitter. So I thank her very much for the thought, and it was so, so nice, but I’m glad it didn’t happen because I don’t know what I’d do with it if I had one. And I like paper books so much.

Post-Christmas Shenanigans

So after the gifts were open and the food was eaten and blah blah blah, I said, “hey, I think my throat’s a little sore, this is odd” and now I have some sort of sudden-0nset death cold that I think might kill me with the congestion, just saying. I haven’t been sick since February so I’ve forgotten how to do it. The answer seems to be, “be very grumpy and hot, then cold, then hot again, and also use up a lot of Kleenex.”

Then I headed home this morning all bright and early, but not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because I am totally dying, probably of the grippe. And after about an hour and a half on the road, my car started bucking like I was a cowboy breaking a wild stallion and also not accelerating when I pushed the gas pedal and smelling like burning electrical death. I was on the highway at the time, too, so that’s not at all dangerous.

“Ah-hah!” I said. “I’ve had AAA for thirteen years and hardly ever used it, this will be a piece of cake!”

Um. No, no it wasn’t.

I was on the side of the highway, right under an overpass that was clearly labeled Route 22, right near a marker that said Mile 140.These are totally awesome landmarks for a tow truck, right?

Be there in 30 minutes, he said.

So I waited, courting death with each 18-wheeler that barreled past, and waiting, and waiting, and WAITING. I called my parents; they started heading my way with my dad’s old car, so I’d have something to drive while that car was fixed. Yes, I know. I’m totally the most spoiled human alive. I know. My parents were an hour and a half away, remember.

Called AAA 45 minutes later. “We can’t find you,” they said. “Exit 37?”

“I don’t know what exit, I’m not near an exit sign. Mile marker 140. Overpass for Route 22.”

“On our way. Just a few more minutes.”

Waited. Waited. Waited. Thank you, heavens above, for the 58 blogs my RSS reader compiled while I was out of phone range over the holidays, and for Twitter, and for the fact that if I’d broken down just a few miles further along, I wouldn’t have had phone coverage because there’s a hour-long dead zone just past that.

Called them again. “Still can’t find you. You’re up by Glens Falls?”

“NO. I’m HEADING toward Glens Falls. I’m back by Lake Placid.”

“Oh. We’re probably another 45 minutes away, then. That’s not where you told us you were. You said Mile Marker 40?”

“ONE FORTY. ONE FOUR ZERO.”

“Maybe an hour, then?”

Oh, by the way? Cold as hell today. Windy. And I had to pee like no one you’ve ever dealt with in your life. My car chose to break down where there were no trees. Nothing. I started thinking, “How embarrassing, exactly, would it be to just squat in the open? It’s that or pee all over my seat, and that’s worse, right?”

The tow truck pulled up. He was FURIOUS with me. He wouldn’t even SPEAK to me. He glared in my general direction and started hooking up the car.

My parents pulled up. My dad was upset as it was. Seeing his poor kiddo on the side of the road with her legs crossed doing the potty dance while the tow truck driver was glaring at her wasn’t really cutting it for him.

“Get in your mother’s car, it’s warm,” he said. He strolled over to the driver. Words were exchanged. The tow truck driver unhooked whatever was hooked and drove off into the wind. Ha, bye.

My dad babied my burny-smelling car to the next exit while my mom and I followed in a convoy and got us to a gas station where I peed for like an hour in a gas station where the door didn’t even lock BUT I DID NOT CARE. I’m pretty sure I might have sighed with pleasure, so deep was my need to pee at that point.

So I drove my dad’s car back home and he drove my car the hour and a half back to his house where he’s going to fix it up THERE and bring it back HERE like old Grinchy-Claus and his tree that won’t light on one side. Best part? It didn’t even act up for him on the way home. Nope. Acted FINE. Remember that vampire test I took a while ago about mechanical things not working for me and I was all “they work FINE?” Yeah, add some points to my score, I’m totally getting closer to vampirism as we speak.

So I’m home, my little chickadees. My place has never been so welcoming.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and day off today, if you got one! I missed you all like crazy people. Dialup is the worst, by the way. It took – not even exaggerating – 45 minutes to load Twitter each night. And then I had to hit refresh in-between each Tweet to see if anyone replied. So THAT was fun. NO NO NO DIALUP.

Happy week between Christmas and New Year’s!

(OBVIOUSLY the title is sardonic; I had a LOVELY Christmas, other than how much I want to throw the tow truck driver into a flaming trash pit. I just wanted to throw in a Bender quote. Can you blame me, really?)


Well, not just one wish. A whole hatful, Mary. I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that.

I watched most of It’s a Wonderful Life last night. I’ll watch the rest tonight, then probably start it over again, and then repeat the process Wednesday night. See, I’m in the midst of a present-wrapping flurry (speaking of which, I have totally run out of packing tape. WHO RUNS OUT OF PACKING TAPE A FEW DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS? Me. The answer to that question is me. Good gravy) and I can’t wrap presents without one of three things playing in the background: A Wish for Wings that Work, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or It’s a Wonderful Life.

I have to have something playing I don’t have to pay attention to, because I need to pay attention to the wrapping, but I need something festive, because Christmas is sucking all the joy out of my brain. So I can’t watch one of the million shows I have recorded, because I’d have to pay attention to them because they’re new to me (I did debate putting on Criminal Minds last night, but as much as Dr. Reid puts me in a mood, it’s not as much “festive” as it is “romantic” so I decided against that.) I blogged about my love of A Wish for Wings that Work and The Grinch already this season. I rewatched A Wish for Wings that Work last night and realized a few things: a., I’m probably the only person that watches this special like clockwork every year, and that’s the saddest thing ever; b., I know every single line in the special and repeat them along with it, obnoxiously, under my breath, with a lot of emphasis, because I am an ACTRESS, as it’s playing; and c., it’s a little disturbing how hard the stupid thing makes me cry EVERY SINGLE YEAR. I wasn’t even HORMONAL last night. I was just ME. And there I was, AGAIN, crying over a penguin who wanted wings that didn’t just sputter. My dad calls that “an allergy attack.” He gets embarrassed if a movie makes him emotional so if I pick on him about it, he says “MY ALLERGIES ARE REALLY ACTING UP RIGHT NOW” and runs off for a tissue. So yeah, Opus the penguin totally gives me an annual allergy attack.

So anyway, It’s a Wonderful Life. To me, this is just about the most perfect movie in existence. And the first time I watched it, I didn’t even like it. I thought it was too long, and I thought it was boring, and I remember I mocked it and upset and confused my friend I was watching it with. Then, the following year, I was all alone and it came on and I had nothing better to do so I actually paid attention, and I realized, DAMN but this is the best thing that was ever created in the history of ever and I love it so much. Also, it totally causes a number of allergy attacks throughout. And there is very little in the world I love more than a good cry.

Apparently, when the movie came out in 1946, it didn’t perform all that well, and people liked it well enough, but weren’t blown away. It got dismissed as overly sentimental. But over the years, it took on a life of its own, and now, every Christmas Eve, NBC airs it (so I can watch it for, oh, I don’t know, the fourth? fifth? time in the month of December, usually while hanging out with my brother and having a few Christmas libations.)

I just love everything about this movie. Is it sentimental? Sure. Sure it is. Throw on a few more pejoratives, if you must. It’s also a little hokey, and overwrought, and sappy. But it’s also heartfelt, and true, and well-written, and inspirational.

I can hear you, you know. “WHAT? AMY likes this movie so much? But Amy is dark and twisty and evil!” Sure, yep. But I love this movie more than just about anything. SUCK IT UP CHUMLEY I’M AN ENIGMA. You don’t have enough time left in the WORLD to figure out the maze that is my brain.

So if you hate it, or you’re just totally over Christmas crap, or you have NO SOUL, move on, Sally. But today we’re talking It’s a Wonderful Life. Because it makes me HAPPY. 

George Bailey

OK, I have a lot of love for Jimmy Stewart. I mean, just look up there. He was a ridiculously handsome man. I love old-timey handsome black and white actors. It’s a thing with me. But Jimmy Stewart just makes me tingle. So tall! So self-possessed! Such a sexy smile! Also, later in his life – westerns. I LOVE WESTERNS SO HARD.

I love everything about George Bailey. I love that he does the right thing, even though he doesn’t WANT to. He’s conflicted. He’s real, like real people are – but he comes through. I love how angry he gets at things. I love how much he loves his family. I love how he just kind of puts his head down and does his work and you watch his dreams dissipate around him and your heart just breaks for him (more on this later.) Also, he’s kind of surrounded by idiots. (Again, more on this later.) I love me some George Bailey, you guys.

Mary Hatch Bailey

Sure, Mary’s kind of a simple woman. She figures out what she wants when she’s like seven or something – she wants to marry George. She told him so, at the drugstore. “Is this the ear you can’t hear in? George Bailey, I’ll love you til the day I die.” That line thrills me every time, and I have a heart that’s black like coal, seriously. And she works toward that goal. But she also goes off to college, so she’s not completely pathetic. And she has a backbone. When George is being all stompy, she stands up to him. Also, Donna Reed is absolutely glowy in this movie. She’s not the perfect goody-goody she became later on down the line on television. She’s beautiful and she’s spunky and she’s funny and she runs around town to save the day. I like Mary because I think she’s like me – she likes a good project, especially when it involves someone she cares about.

(Psst, if you Google Donna Reed, there’s a very strange and kind of offensive photo that I’m not going to post of her in really odd makeup playing a Native American with a really miserable look on her face. It’s really skating the line of bad taste. If you’re entertained by that sort of thing, please, do yourself a favor and employ your Google-fu. You’re welcome.)

Wizened-up scurvy little spider Mr. Potter

I know, you’re probably supposed to hate Mr. Potter, all broken in his chair and spinning his little webs and being all evil, but I love him. He’s so nefarious! So wicked! When he steals that money from Uncle Billy you get a naughty little thrill. I love the scene where he’s trying to buy George by offering him everything he ever wanted and he realizes that George can’t be bought. The look of surprise and disgust on Lionel Barrymore’s face is perfection! I also love the scene when George comes to him for help when Uncle Billy loses the money (that Mr. Potter himself stole) and George says “I misplaced $8,000” and Mr. Potter says, incredulously, “YOU misplaced $8,000?” It had never crossed his evil little mind that someone might actually shoulder the blame for something they didn’t do to save someone they loved. I love when George runs past his office after he’s come back to life and yells “Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter!” Mr. Potter retorts, “And a happy New Year to you! IN JAIL!” Mr. Potter! You are the genesis for Mr. Burns and I love you! 320 Sycamore

Aw, I love that old house, too, Mary. I love that Mary all secretly buys it behind George’s back and that it was what she wished for when she threw the rock. I love the round thing (that probably has a name, I don’t know, I’m not an architect) that keeps falling off the staircase railing and how George kisses it at the end. I love George’s rant about how “this drafty old house” is killing everyone. I want a 320 Sycamore. There’s a 320 Sycamore-esque house in the woods we drive past on the back way when I go home to visit my parents that I totally want. Someday I’m going to win a meeeeelion dollars and buy it and then have all the rescued animals there and live like a weirdo and be so so happy.

The dance where they fall into the pool

I love the whole dance. I love that the guy that Mary’s there with is Alfalfa from The Little Rascals and he’s kind of hot but totally annoying and I love that George tells him to “stop annoying people” in such a grumpy old-man voice. I love their Charleston contest. I love that Mary’s face just lights up when she sees that George is there. I love that George’s face just lights up when he sees that Mary turned out very nicely, thank you. I love that the floor opens up and they dance oblivious to the widening gap. And I love that they keep dancing once they’ve fallen in.

The walk home from the dance

The walk home from the dance, with George in an old-timey basketball uniform and Mary in a huge bathrobe because their clothes were wet. Singing “Buffalo Gals.” “This is a very interesting situation!” “What do you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.” “Why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death? Oh, youth is wasted on the wrong people.” They are the CUTEST. Then, as all good things do, it comes crashing down. George gets a glimpse of happiness and finds out that his father has had a stroke. Mary’s face as he runs away, her eyes wide and worried, kills me. 

George & Mary’s wooing scene

George showing up at Mary’s house, all out of sorts because he’s realized that Harry’s not staying in Bedford Falls, so that means that George, yet again, is left holding the bag. Mary, so excited to see him, with all of her little preparations – the record, the needlepoint she’s made. And then George being the CRANKIEST HUMAN BEING ALIVE. It makes me laugh EVERY TIME I SEE IT. Mary asks him if he likes Harry’s new wife. “Well sure I like her. SHE’S A PEACH.” Out of nowhere, sitting on Mary’s couch: “I see it still smells like pine needles around here.” Who SAYS things like that when they’re trying to woo someone? George Bailey, that’s who. But don’t worry, Mary holds her own. When her weird, meddly mother sticks her nose in (my brother is convinced the woman playing her mother is a man, and she does have a very masculine voice, yelling down the stairs) asking what George wants, Mary yells up, as pert as can be, “He’s making violent love to me, Mother!” I love Mary so hard for that, I can’t even tell you. Then Sam Wainwright, Mary’s current beau, or who THINKS he’s Mary’s current beau, calls.

Listen, if this scene doesn’t get you at least a little hot, you might be broken. I pretty much AM broken and it gets me totally hot. The tension between the two of them in this scene is OUT OF CONTROL. I read somewhere that Jimmy Stewart thought this scene was stupid and didn’t work and he improvised most of it. Uh mah gah. This scene is one of the sexiest things in the whole planet. Well, until he kisses her, because that’s kind of weird and wooden and it looks like he’s eating her face. But up until they kiss, it is the sexiest thing just about ever ever ever. “I don’t want any plastics, and I don’t want any ground floors, and I don’t want to get married! To anyone! Ever! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do!” Oh, George. You were lost the minute she walked into your drugstore when you were a kid and asked what coconut was, and you know it.

The run on the Savings and Loan

I love the run on the Savings and Loan, even though it makes me angry. I love when Mary runs in with their honeymoon money all, “How much do you need?” because Mary is the most kickass. I love the woman that only asks for a little money and how George kisses her right on the mouth for it. I love Potter’s whole “fifty cents on the dollar, my pretties!” scheme that doesn’t work out for him. Love, love, love.

George realizing he’s going to be stuck in the town forever (multiple times)

Every time George realizes he’s going to be stuck in the town forever and another one of his plans falls apart my heart breaks a little bit more and I think I’ve seen the movie probably upwards of 100 times. First he has to stay in town to keep the Building and Loan running after his father dies. Fine! Fine, he’ll do that for four years, while Harry goes to school, it’s for the best of the town, it was his father’s dream. Once Harry comes back, they’ll swap places. But wait! Harry’s back and has a kickass job offer in Buffalo and a hot new wife! Well, George can’t be selfish and expect him to back out on THAT, now can he? So he stays. Then he’s going on a honeymoon with Mary, all over the world! But wait, the Building and Loan’s about to close! Well, let’s use the honeymoon money to save it. Then Potter offers him a dream job, with all of the money he could want and a chance to travel! But he can’t take it, because that would mean selling his soul. Then he and Mary start having children. Every chance he has to escape and live the life he thinks he was meant to, he’s stopped by one thing or another. And every time, my heart hurts for him, because who hasn’t had that happen to them? And Jimmy Stewart is amazing with this – his look of eager anticipation, followed by the slow leaking-in of realization and loss, is a wonder to watch.

Harry Bailey. Harry Bailey topped ‘em all!

Every time the angel narrator is telling about the war and says “Harry Bailey. Harry Bailey topped ‘em all!” I cry a little. I know it’s stupid. I just really, really like that line. And I like that George is strutting around town all proud brother with a cigar. Listen, Harry, you couldn’t have topped ‘em all if George hadn’t saved you. Don’t forget that, Fighter Pilot Champion.

Effing Uncle Billy, why’s he live with so much vermin anyway

I am always totally annoyed by Uncle Billy. I know you’re supposed to feel bad for him but mostly I think he just needs to be institutionalized. I think he’s mentally ill. My father stops watching every time right before Uncle Billy leaves the money in the bank because “I hate that stupid old man, he ruins EVERYTHING.” So he watches right up until that part then he leaves the room, which always makes me laugh. Also, Uncle Billy lives in a house of vermin. He has that crow, which he brings all over, and you know it probably shits everywhere, gross nasty thing, then when you see his hoarder-style house he has a damn SQUIRREL running around. What the hell, Uncle Billy? Those are NOT PETS. Those are VERMIN. The only good thing about Pottersville is that Uncle Billy’s in the nuthouse, where he belongs. Yes, I like Mr. Potter better than Uncle Billy. Sorry. I might be squishy about this movie but it doesn’t make me not Amy.

Those kids are totally the most annoying

When George comes back to the house and the kids are screaming and banging away on the piano and “Scuse me! Scuse me! Scuse me!” and “Dad Dad Dad how do you spell frankincense” and “I want to give my FLOWER a drink” I think I’d probably jump off a bridge, too. LOUD NOISES!!!! Also, who names their kid Zuzu, and I love when he yells at the teacher in that scene over the phone and Mary’s all “Well, she’s hung up” and George snarls, “I’ll hang HER up.” Hee!

George not even hesitating when he jumps in after Clarence

It’s just a teeny, tiny, not-even-a-second thing, but I think it speaks volumes about George’s character that it’s a snowy night, he was just about to commit suicide, and when he sees someone in the water drowning, he doesn’t even think twice – he throws himself over the bridge to save him. Not even a moment’s hesitation. None. I love that scene.

George realizing the implications of not being there for everyone

Clarence (who also kind of annoys me, sorry, I hate stupidity and I hate dumb innocence) bringing George around, showing him what was different, kills me. The worst is the cemetery. “Harry Bailey was a hero! He saved every man on that transport!” “Every man on that transport died because Harry wasn’t there to save them – because you weren’t there to save Harry.” Oh, tears. I mean, allergy attack! Allergy attack!

Oh! No! MARY IS A LIBRARIAN!!!

It makes me laugh SO HARD EVERY TIME that the WORST THING the filmmakers or screenwriters could think of for a fate for Mary was that she was a spinster librarian. Wouldn’t it have been worse if she was a hoochie-cooch girl at that bar that Violet is being kicked out of, or something? OH NO! “You’re not going to like it, George!” Clarence warns, when George asks him where Mary is. And you think, oh, shit, she’s married to Sam Wainwright. Or is it worse? Is she married to Mr. POTTER or something? And IT’S SO MUCH WORSE. She is a LIBRARIAN. And she – GASP!!! – is UNSEXILY ATTIRED and LOOKS PLAIN and ISN’T SMILING. I know. I KNOW. Fate worse than death, you guys.

The town comes through 

This scene gives me so many allergies I need to take an Allegra-D. I love that Mary runs in and she’s all bright-eyed from the cold and she sees George and she’s just so happy he’s alright and she’s hatched this little plan, and she’s got all the people rounded up, and they just start coming in and coming in and COMING IN, putting money after money after MONEY in the basket. And Harry comes in, because he’s eschewed his celebrations in order to be there for his big brother. And Sam Wainwright sends a telegram, saying whatever George needs is his. And then Harry toasts – “To my brother, the richest man in town.” SO MANY TEARS. I’m a little teary WRITING THIS. And it’s NOT EVEN ON. I know. Seriously, this movie gets me every time.

So thank you, Frank Capra, for making a movie sixty-five years ago – before my FATHER was even born! – that still makes me cry and laugh and puts me in the Christmas spirit every single year. I need that this year, more so than most years. It is much appreciated.

I’d totally let George lasso the moon for me. Any old time at all.


%d bloggers like this: