Tuesday, November 27, 2007



It’s always been my opinion that the fourth Thursday in November is reserved for the voluntary giving of thanks to God, nation, family, etc. However, as T-Day 2007 rolled by, I came to the painful realization that upsetting the gods of Thanksgiving leaves them with no choice but to squeeze every last bit of gratitude out of your haughty being through random acts of inconvenience and humiliation.

Beware, my friends, of upsetting the omniscient gods of gratitude.

I’m not entirely sure at which point during the preemptory weeks to Thanksgiving that I first upset this grand council. It might have been when I labeled Thanksgiving merely a “Kick-off-to-Christmas” holiday. Perhaps it was when I threw a brick through the window of Nordstrom for broadcasting their Thanksgiving observance and swearing not to decorate for Christmas until black Friday. Was it when I committed to driving back to Utah while dinner was still warm on the table to work a shift of frivolous retail? Or maybe when, in lieu of gushing our blessings around the dinner table, I suggested we all claim the things in life that annoy us the most.

“I’ll go first,” I said, my mouth full of creamed broccoli. “Neons and Civics disguised as racing cars.”

Believe me, dear readers; the Spirit of Thanksgiving has made me pay.

T-Day Karma is a sneaky fellow, first securing my Volkswagen as an accomplice. As I tried to make my escape after dinner, my on-again, off-again German companion (see prior posts) decided to offer its own fuel pump as a sacrifice to the Thanksgiving gods.

Fettered, but not broken by the demands of November gratitude, I instead solicited the help of my brother’s unregistered (shhhhhh!), but reliable Chevrolet for the trek southward, leaving my sad broken German on my parent’s cold Idaho curb.

Successfully arriving in Utah in time to work a midnight-to-eight am shift at Banana Republic and then a full day at my full-time job, the all-powerful Thanksgiving gods attacked my health. By the time I made it home on a very black Friday, my temperature was up and my spirit was down.

If only I had acquiesced at that point.

Instead I carried on, ill and unlicensed, until a pothole dug by the very spirit of gratitude took with it not only my brother’s tire, but also the rim of the front passenger wheel.

And so now, let it be known: to the spirit of Thanksgiving I surrender. You have my gratitude. I lay my undying humiliation at your autumn feet.

Beware, my friends, the gods of November.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I am your ghost of Christmas present.


In Miracle on 34th Street a disenchanted pig-tailed tot convinces the whole of New York City to believe in a Santa Clause moonlighting at Macy’s.

Will Ferrell, dressed in green tights and a perma-smile, used carols and sugary snacks in order to urge city folk to discover Christmas spirit.

And who can forget a blanket-dragging Linus convincing his scribbled cohorts to believe in “the true meaning of Christmas.”

All valid causes, to be sure, but I have a different agenda on my mind.

This year, I pledge to make Christmas entirely about me.

My plan is at work, and the tinsel-encrusted wheels in my head have been turning for several months. My anticipation of the holiday season will only be cap-stoned when, as carols ring and colored lights twinkle, your thoughts are turned from North Pole elves and bright colored packages to, well, me.

That’s the plan, my friends. I vow to insert myself so blatantly into every party, each parade, every nutmeg-sprinkled vat of wassail, never ceasing until the line where Christmas ends and Kristen begins becomes irreparably slurred.

“Oh, the vanity!” you might exclaim as I adhere my tiny self-portrait to the face of a kneeling shepherd in your nativity.

Come now, I’ve always been drawn to random acts of overwhelming narcissism.

“But why?” you ask as I scribble your name on my own naughty/nice list.

Power. Authority. Self-efficacy, blatant egotism.

You know, Christmas cheer.

And so this Christmas, I urge you to turn your thoughts from the vast commercialism and exhausted consumerism that has become the holiday season, focusing on what is substantial, meaningful, and long-lasting….


Prepare for the unfolding of the greatest PR scheme ever performed.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Never, never, never trust a German.


I can’t deny that I would loathe a society void of German influence. I live for the cocoa-filled decadence that is German chocolate cake. I can’t begin to imagine Christmas without the regal Taunenbaum, and epic poetry without Faust seems much like a feast without the entrĂ©e. In fact, aside from the tiny historical blunder that was World War II, Germany has, in my mind, contributed quite nicely to the social order.

Or so I thought.

Enter Crayola, the sputtering, untrustworthy Volkswagen that is my daily German companion.

Sure, she looks innocent enough: her cool blue exterior the very color of loyalty, premium alloy wheels and an initial-embroidered headrest that once was our special bond.

This, my friends, is my very own femme fatale.

Our past has always been a bit rocky. I brought her home on a whim, always attracted to something new and shiny. From the start she made me work for her affection: learning to drive a stick being more effort than I’d ever put into a relationship before.

And yet we seemed to get along, and our first year together was the stuff they write books – or auto brochures, rather – about.

And then something changed in Crayola. She was no longer the zippy 1.8 I fell in love with. She began backing into everything. Mailboxes, garbage cans, mini-vans, you name it – Crayola hit it. I didn’t understand the masochism then, and I blamed myself, knowing full well that I couldn’t help her if she wouldn’t help herself.

So we separated.

It was two years, and the dark days she spent as my mother’s chariot made her realize how good we were together. When we reunited, it was magic. It was as if Crayola had grown a new heart – albeit simply a clutch and a fresh set of performance tires. Many a long hour we spent together, gallivanting through town, soaring down the interstate. I fed her premium, gave her baths and never left her unattended for long.

But she snapped anyway. And one stormy April day Crayola tried to kill me.

The rain was pouring, mud and sleet flinging at my windshield when Crayola halted her wipers without explanation and drove me, quite nearly, into the freeway median.

I pulled over, shaking, fuming at the temper tantrum I hadn’t known her to be capable of.

Well, that was April.

June brought with it bad brakes and threats of rear-ending every car on the road.

August was a busted coil pack and Crayola taunting me with her flashing CEL light.

And just this week, she attempted again.

I was pulling out of Fashion Place mall, cold and exhausted from a 14-hour work day. I wasn’t asking for much: merely a safe trip home and perhaps a heated seat. But she was having none of it, and her halting, choppy acceleration let me know that our relationship was, once again, on the rocks.

Despite her protests, I made it home, slamming her door and marching into the house, telling her to sit outside in the October cold and to think about what she’d done.

I gave her 10 hours, but 8 a.m. brought no remorse for her previous actions. In fact, it wasn’t until she saw my tears that she began behaving.

And so here we are, picking up the pieces of a broken relationship and trying to move on. I wonder, at length sometimes, how life could be different had I chosen another companion – Japanese or American, perhaps.

And yet, we’re here, and every day is a risk with this menacing European.

Because, my friends, you can never trust a German.