radvent: entertaining

Day 17: Write out some ideas for a party that you will host in the next four weeks
Who will you invite? ★ What will you do? ★ Where will it be? ★ What will you serve? ★ How will you decorate?

Ooh, this is an easy one! I’m in a book club with some friends, and in January it’s my turn to host! The way we do it is, whoever picks the next book* hosts the next gathering at their house. A few weeks ago we met at Stephie’s house to discuss the book she chose, so next time we’ll meet at my house to discuss mine.**

The book club gatherings are pretty casual, and mine will be no exception. Lately we’ve started having book club on Friday nights and including dinner, so I’m going to make something. While there’s really no NEED for me to make no-cook one-handed appetizers, I’ve been meaning to try Helen Jane’s recipes for those, so maybe I’ll do that. My place is pretty small, so we can’t all sit at a table; that can be reason enough for skewered things! Plus I like the idea of people showing up to find that all the food is on sticks.

Decor-wise, I’m just going to make sure the place is clean! Maybe if I have time I’ll try some of the decorating ideas on my craft site. Also there will be drinks–some I’ll have, some that people will bring. It should be fun! I like book club.

*Actually each person suggests a few books, and the rest of the club narrows it down to one that most everyone can agree on. So far we’ve read a really wide variety of books, which was the intent.

**My pick was The Imperfectonists, by Tom Rachman.

radvent day 3

(Day 2 was about organizing something, but dudes. I am so organized. Look at my craft area:

craft area

Most of those boxes are labeled with what’s inside, and this area is even more organized now than when this photo was taken. So, I didn’t do yesterday’s Radvent.)

Radvent day 3: Write a letter of love to yourself to read in one year.

Dear Alison,

I know you know this, but you need to remember it: you are not supposed to be doing anything in particular with your life. Take care of your physical and mental health and your responsibilities, and make enough money to support yourself, and that’s it. You’re not supposed to do anything else. If you want to spend your free time working on something, that’s cool. If you want to spend your free time knitting while watching the same episodes of Better Off Ted over and over again, that’s cool too. Do not beat yourself up for it.  You are doing fine, and there’s nothing wrong with you.

You’re making a lot of plans for the upcoming year, and of course I don’t know how they’ve turned out. But regardless of how they’ve turned out, you need to remember how it felt to have something to plan for, something to look forward to, something to work towards. It’s a really exciting feeling, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the success or failure of whatever the plan is. Don’t forget it.

This year you have been avoiding letting your fear of failure stop you from trying things. That hasn’t paid off in a tangible sense yet, but it’s helped you to think of yourself as a person who deserves good things. You try your best, and it doesn’t work out, but hey, your best was much better than you thought you could do. Try again next time!

Anyway, keep that up too. And be nice to your mom.



I could start this out with a whole lot of stuff about OH I HAVEN’T WRITTEN HERE IN FOREVER and HERE’S HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN GOING or whatever, but it’s 2010, not 2002, and this is my website, so I won’t bother making excuses.*

What I will say is this: I’m not even remotely the same person who started this site in February of 2000. I was 21 years old, living in a tiny Houston apartment, and working full-time as a web designer, totally unaware that the dot-com bubble would burst in just a few short months. When it did, I went back to college, majored in English, and became obsessed with the personal web, all of which informed lots, if not most, of my writing on this site.

I still live in an apartment, and I’m a web designer again, but that’s where the similarities end (oh, and my hair remains awesome). A few months ago, an online friend (acquaintance? person I know? you get it) of mine** wrote this on his private site:

All those words, nearly forgotten and willfully unremembered, that I find from time to time in email searches and old misnamed text files, they read like lies, because I no longer believe in the world they describe. I no longer believe that I ever believed in it, only that I wanted to, and tried, and failed. It’s just a muscle that moves blood for a while. There is nothing to break.

Replace “email searches and old misnamed text files” with “my bluishorange archives,” and you’ve got exactly how I feel about this site. I’m not comfortable with reading my old writing, nor am I comfortable with exploring the depths of my own psyche the way I used to. It’s too difficult, too painful, too something.

But make no mistake, I’m not filled with regret or anything. I’m not going to say, “Oh, I had such high hopes for myself!” or “What happened to me?” Things are fine here. It’s just that reading my old writing is like watching a documentary about a problem that doesn’t exist anymore–clearly this person feels very strongly about these things, but, uh, what?

Eh, maybe I’ll appreciate having 2700 essays about my 20’s when I’m old.

Anyhow, thanks to my friend/online acquaintance/fellow internet road warrior Ariel, I’ve found this journal project called Radvent. Each day in December*** there’s a writing prompt, and I’m going to see if I can follow them this month (cue laugh track). I could use some reminders that things in my life are better now, MUCH, better, than they used to be, and I think this might help. Here’s the first prompt:

What were you doing five years ago today? As the holiday season began? Where were you? Who were you with? What did you want? What did you have?

Oh, things were not good in late 2005. I was unemployed, kind of depressed, and making my living selling jewelry and vintage clothes on the internet and doing contract web work. I’d just moved to Austin and hadn’t met many people yet, so I rarely left the apartment I shared with my boyfriend at the time. Besides him, Maude was my best friend. Here she is post-Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house in 2005:

Maude is a most excellent friend, but I definitely needed (and wanted!) to get out more and meet people. I was, however, too busy berating myself for not being more awesome.

The bright side of 2005: it was when I really started to get into sewing. Said boyfriend got me a vintage sewing machine for my birthday that year, and I taught myself all kinds of things pretty quickly. So, when I was at home all day and all night for weeks on end, at least I had something to do.

*I will tell you that I do lots of posting on my tumblr these days, as well as over on my craft site, I Could Make That.

**Hey online friend person, do you want me to credit you for writing that? Didn’t know if I should since it’s on a private site.

***You know how I feel about religion (and, consequently, Advent), but whatevs; we can focus on the Rad part instead.

(Hey, look, the 10th-anniversary-of-Bluishorange post I did in February hasn’t fallen off the main page yet!)