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December 30, 2005

the happy new year soiree

it's that time of year when everyone is in a retrospective, naval-gazing frame of mind. i'm a sucker for "best-of" lists (and its evil twin, the "worst of" lists), "the top fill-in-number-here" lists, "most/least whatever" lists, and the like. i enjoy the way they turn a year's worth of data into a festive little information soiree, with the lists being tasty little hors d'oeuvres served on silver platters of totally subjective, random categories.
currently, i'm enjoying Time Magazine's end-of-year edition, which features not only its famous "Person of the Year" cover (this year: The Good Samaritans: Bill & Melinda Gates and Bono), but also a veritable smorgasbord of lists: People Who Mattered, 2005 Milestones (a nice way of saying Deaths of Notable People This Year), Must-Read Book List, 15 Who Had Their 15 Minutes of Fame. my iPod is currently brimming with the massive NPR podcast of "Memorable Moments of 2005." listening to it has been interesting: i've discovered that if i'd already heard the original broadcast, i usually remember where i was (usually in the car), and where i was going at that time. and of course i'm looking forward to laughing my way through Newsweek's end-of-year collection of memorable quotes and political cartoons.
now, lest you think i'm some completely highbrow person who reads news journals and listens to public radio, let me correct you. while i do really only read news journals and listen to public radio, i am NOT a completely highbrow person. how do i know? well, for one thing, i've become completely addicted to this site, whose logo features a tiny kitten in a pith helmet. click at your own risk... besides, a truly highbrow person would never have a site like this in her blogroll. but i digress...

given my predilection for those year-end information soirees, i admit i've been feeling some pressure to throw one for myself here. so put on your party hats and fill a glass, as i present a very random list of HadashiWorld's 2005:
1. most fond farewell: to Grandpa Joseph Y.W. Chan.
2. coolest out-of-body-type experience: watching an electrical storm at 3am in the Nyangatom desert in Ethiopia, near the border of Kenya.
3. biggest challenge: moving and getting married in the same week.
4. endurance award: to Spice, my wee Honda, for surviving another year and going strong.
5. nicest bonus: seeing much-loved people out of the normal context: my fabulous sister Erin twice in California; T.T., Lisa, and Prances in New York City; Ms.Jen back from Dublin here in SoCal. i love visiting people in their usual habitat, but there's something about switching it up that makes it an even better adventure.
6. best sunset: in Death Valley on March 9th, as T.T. popped The Question.
7. worst, and therefore best, accident: getting hit in the face with my own surfboard and needing it (my face) to be superglued back together. for those who have known me for awhile, this is clearly a banner year if something this minor was the "worst accident."
8. most interesting museum/art exhibit: "ashes and snow," a photography exhibit by Gregory Colbert, in New York City. happily, it is opening in Santa Monica in a few weeks.
9. least interesting museum/art exhibit: "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs," at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. sorry, Tut, you were badly curated.
10. yummiest food experience: i was originally going to say black sesame ice cream, but i think i'm going to go with a full German breakfast including Nutella on Laugenbrötchen (mini pretzel bread -- mmm, bread!).
11. funkiest food experience: the Skippys One Thru Five, who in the morning would be dropping little goat poops all over our Ethiopian wilderness camp, and in the evening would be headless, roasting over an open flame.
12. best spontaneous decision: to enroll in an intensive six-week German language course.
13. worst spontaneous decision: to work on this show. i had a mic thrown at my head, for heaven's sake.
14. best venue for insta-new-cool-friends: BlogHer '05. you ladies freakin' ROCK.
15. the all-around, number-one, biggest-ever, ultra-amazing, can't-be-beat top moment of 2005: - and i know you know what's coming - the veil is lifted, my brand-new husband kisses me, and amidst cheers, laughter, and an ocean of love & shared joy, we clasp hands and begin a new life adventure -- together.

so raise those glasses, my friends, and drink up -- here's wishing you a very blessed and happy 2006!
**clinkclink!**

Posted by hadashi at 1:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

peace on earth

that's a holiday message that can be substituted for the somewhat banal "season's greetings" that's PC enough to not offend any celebrator of end-of-year festivities. it's a universal human longing: for peace and not conflict; for harmony and not dissidence; for coming together, not tearing apart. as the advent season tumbles forward, ever closer to Christmas Day, i ask myself what i'm doing to bring peace to my little corner of earth. it's not easy, especially when wild-eyed victims of holiday stress drive around parking lots and the freeways like crazy monkeys who had way too much crabby-nog.

the famous advent passage of Scripture, the prophecy about Christ's birth from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, is usually quoted beginning with the familiar words "For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given." (you fellow Messiah fans, i know you just started to sing along with me, didn't you?)
but we rarely hear the context of this promise -- listen to these powerful words of hope in the verse just before:
Every warrior's boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.

as much as war, violence, threats, and terror are much on the minds of every nation, they are also on the mind of the compassionate Lord whose coming we'll celebrate in a few days. God is fully recognizant of the reality of war and blood and even the violence and noise of our own personal battles -- and He promises that one day, all the carnage and mayhem and detritus from our struggles will become a mighty blaze in the flames of peace.
mixed metaphor? certainly. the prophecy concludes that the Son's name would be called (Messiah fans, please resume singing!)
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government
and peace there will be no end.

it's a promise worth holding on to in these uncertain days. it's a promise worth remembering as i strive to extend peace to those around me, even the ones who cut me off on the freeway.

Posted by hadashi at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2005

Rudolphus rubrinasus

a small addendum to the joys of Christmas music: "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" - sung in Latin. although i heard it on NPR, you can find all the information here, including lyrics and a link to the mp3 file to hear it performed by the choir of St. Bartholomew's.
yes, i know i am a geek, but as far as novelty Christmas songs go, this is WAY better than the nasally sung"I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas."

*****further addendum!*****
regarding my taste in animal-related carols, i have been taken to task by the astute Julie, and i do stand corrected. i now offer this Christmas carol as superior to Rudolphus. the lyrics are especially meaningful, as the childhood realm of HadashiWorld was constantly denied a kitty due to her beloved Daddy's allergies.

Posted by hadashi at 2:05 PM | Comments (2)

December 12, 2005

fa la la la la...

there's a lot of Christmas music playing at HadashiWorld right now, and we freely admit we are getting in the holiday spirit. fa la la la laaaaa! thanks to Aunt Nellie's fabulous wedding gift of an iPod (how cool are my aunts, really?) it's easier than ever for the music to be toted around with me wherever i go. of course the Number One Most Fabulous Christmas Music Ever has got to be George Frideric Handel's oratorio Messiah. no contest. i cannot even tell you how excited i am to be going to a sing-along Messiah performance at the fabulous Walt Disney Concert Hall next week. T.T. thinks he's not going to be singing along, but how can you stay quiet with such catchy tunes as "And He Shall Purify the Sons of Levi?" really. of course, whenever possible, i am practicing heartily (i.e. sing loudly to the music only you can hear through your headphones, or while doing dishes). thanks to a comment from Zippy the Fish on my post last year's regarding the Messiah, i have been listening much more closely to the lyrics. they are full of hope and longing, but also of fulfillment and promise. they are often as beautiful as the music.

i've also been listening more closely to the lyrics of other Christmas songs, and yes, there are a lot of inane ones (sample: "happy ho ho ho to you"), but mostly they give me plenty to think about. i appreciate Harry Connick, Jr. not only because he's so darn talented and oh-so-dreamy, but because he performs "O Holy Night" with the full beyond-the-first-verse lyrics, which are rarely sung:
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
He knows our need
To our weakness is no stranger

a simple wine merchant wrote these words in 1847, and the truth in them is compelling. yes, we celebrate Christmas for the coming of Christ, but too often we skip straight to the end of the narrative and talk about His sacrifice and bringing of salvation. we forget that Christmas is about how God "became flesh, and dwelt among us" -- that the King of Kings was indeed born to be our friend.

the other song that is living in my head is the supurbly crafted "Christmas Song," sung by Dave Matthews (he of Dave Matthews Band) with just his guitar. i never imagined a DMB song would overwhelm me, but the first time i heard this plain-brown-wrapper truth of Jesus' love & humanity & realness, it made me feel again the simplicity of faith i had as a small child:
So I’m told, so the story goes
The people he knew were less than golden-hearted
Gamblers and robbers, drinkers and jokers
All soul searchers like you and me
Like you and me
Rumors insisted he soon would be
For his deviations taken into custody
By the authorities, less informed than he.
Drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers
Searching for love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love was all around

yes, i'm a gambler, robber, drinker, joker... but hopefully most of all, a soul searcher. i am thankful that the Lord that i celebrate this season is the friend of the broken, the crazies, the ones with smudgy faces. i am thankful that the One born to be my friend looks beyond status, stereotype, color, deeds done and not done, political viewpoints, gender, identity, money, affiliation... and loves me all the same, wants to fill me with that love. it makes me want to sing.

Posted by hadashi at 10:41 PM | Comments (6)

December 9, 2005

bouncy castles for grownups

the other day i passed a children's birthday party featuring that most venerable of children's birthday party attractions: the bouncy castle. i have to confess a certain fascination with the bouncy castle: as a kid, on a summer vacation in America, i was kicked out of the only one i'd ever gotten a chance to use on the grounds that i was "too small." i suppose the host thought my tiny hapa self would get crushed by some huge overweight white kid... truth be told, i'd have probably hurt myself by attempting to do a flip or maybe a headstand off the shoulders of said large white kid... what can i say; i was always a bit of a daredevil. in any case, i've often thought that grown-ups' birthday parties could use some bouncy castle action, provided that everyone leaves their drinks outside, please. you always see the grownups standing around the lawn in front of said bouncy castle looking somewhat forlorn, and jealous of their kids, who are inside having the bouncy time of their lives.
so it is with great pleasure that i present one of the more amusing finds of the week: Airquee, a British company that makes some pretty amazing inflatable buildings.
first, i introduce the "Inflatable Pub." yes, only an Englishman could come up with this one:
inflatablepub1.jpg
according to the website, it can be customized with a working bar and up to thirty customers. now there's a party!
please note the detail in this interior photo, down to the inflatable fish plaque over the inflatable fireplace. only 10 minutes with two small blowers, and you'll have the most interesting birthday party for miles!
inflatablepub2.jpg

however cool you might think the Inflatable Pub is, it's completely blown away by its predecessor, the "Inflatable Church." yes, a real church.
airquee-church1.jpg
complete with inflatable pews, arches, and stained glass windows...
airquee-church2.jpg
...but my favourite is the inflatable altar with its squishy cross and squishy candles. it's brilliant!
airquee-church4.jpg

what's next? well, the company says they are exploring "next generation bouncy castles." if their site is any indication (look under "Air Play" or Air Xtreme" -- my fave is the inflatable sumo setup), finding parties where the grownups are having the bouncy time of their lives won't be a challenge. hurrah!

addendum: since posting this, i have been informed that "other blogs" covered this Inflatable Stuff "long time ago." i don't care; it's all new & exciting to me!

Posted by hadashi at 5:16 PM | Comments (4)

December 1, 2005

advent

for as long as i can remember, the first of December was a special day for me, because my family always recognised the advent season. before i was born, my mother's oldest sister gave my parents an extraordinary handmade advent calendar with a devotional book that she had also done by hand, in calligraphy. i loved pulling the little felt symbol out of one of the 24 pockets and pinning it on the front, while my father or mother read a short explaination of the meaning. there were the usual Christmas symbols: a star, a shepherd's crook, a green triangle for a tree. but there were less obvious ones too: the four connected circles of red, yellow, white, and black that represented the multicultural nature of the Gospel; the golden anchor that indicated the reliability of Christ's peace in the storms of life; the arrows pointing up and down that alluded to Christ's, and our, dual citizenship as people of earth and children of God. theologically heady stuff for a little three or four-year-old, but it took and held.
that calendar is still in existence, but it hangs in my parents' home several thousand miles away. and it's hard to believe that long ago my Aunt Ginger sat at a table and cut our little felt scraps to make it; i think of her as this social maven/woman-about-town who lives in a highrise with a doorman in New York City, and considers Lincoln Center practically a second home and always knows a great restaurant to take me to when i'm in town. sure, times have changed, but the message of advent has not, and i still need to, want to, recognise the season.
so what is advent? according to this ecumenical site,

The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate.

since i don't have the felt calendar, i'm participating in this year's advent season via this excellent blog, A Light Blazes In the Darkness (http://alightblazes.blogspot.com/). it's run by the RevGalBlogPals, an online community of women "pursuing or discerning a religious vocation -- and their friends." in so doing, i want to prepare my heart, to sort of shake out the dusty corners, and not only rejoice in the coming of Christ to earth, but also give thanks for the everyday presence of God in my life.
so whatever the significance of this holiday season for you, i encourage you to join me in committing to take a few moments out of the days leading up to Christmas or Hanukkah ("rededication"), or Kwanzaa("first fruits"), etc. these are days which will most likely be increasingly filled with noise and decoration and gift buying and parties and cards and craziness and... i do not expect reflection and stillness to be easy or natural. i'll need to be disciplined to carve out the pocket of quietness necessary to hear my heart sing.
it will be good for me to remember to mentally pin the symbol on the felt pocket.

Posted by hadashi at 9:38 AM | Comments (0)