New Year’s Eve, resolutions, etc.

I kind of hate New Year’s Eve. Way too much pressure to be awesome on the holiday.

Last year, for example, was pretty hellacious and also horribly cold.

I was totally in love with this one guy, but because the New Year’s Eve fates hate me, I couldn’t hang out with him. And I wasn’t about to sit at home wishing all night that I was with him, so instead I went out with one of my (amazing and awesome and loving) friends to a random bar club in Palatine.

And while I was there, I met a kind-of hot random dude, whom I properly kissed at mid-night just show that I could, and I thought everything was a success. Except, well, the New Year’s Eve fates hate me.

See, we had planned to grab a Metra Train to get home, except the stupid Metra train never came. Ever. Seriously. We didn’t miss it. It never came. I promise you that.

We kept hoping it would come down the rails though, so we waited in like -80 degree weather for an eternity. If I don’t get into to heaven, I promise you that right there will be my hell, expect it will also somehow include me covering a school board meeting that never ends. Anyway, I finally realized we were waiting for a train that was not coming, and I grabbed my friend, called another (amazing and awesome and loving) friend who lived nearby, hopped in a cab and the two of us ended up sleeping on her love seat while I called the guy I was actually in love with.

I vowed that night that sitting at home wishing I was with the guy I was in love with would always win out over going to a random club. Always.

And so, alas, it looks like that’s what I’ll be doing this year. I’m trying to justify it by telling everyone I have to be up über early for church, and seeing as how I’m on staff and stuff, it’s not like I can just skip like all the heathens do. (Note to people who don’t get me: I don’t actually think people who skip church are heathens. Not all of them anyway).

But really, I wish I had awesome plans this year. I wish I was going to hang out with a guy I’m in love with, and kiss him at mid-night and then live happily ever after. Instead, I’ll probably just sit at home, and maybe stay up late enough to watch the New York countdown on TV. And then I’ll say some prayers and go to sleep. I’m so cool.

Of course, all this doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun resolutions, like everyone else does. I admit that I don’t feel any real sense of commitment to New Year’s resolutions, because I much prefer changing my life for the better during Lent (when it’s for God), or at my birthday (when it’s actually the start of a new year in my life).

But I’m not going to let silly logic get in the way here. So, behold, my New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Give Up McDonald’s. OK, look, I KNOW that basically all the food there is made of lard and salt, but it’s the closest restaurant to my office and the coke has the addictive equivalent of Vicodin in it, so I have a hard time avoiding the place. This year, though, I want to just stop going there all together. Not even for a Cesar salad.

2. Stop judging my life based on other people’s Facebook posts. The problem with Facebook is that everyone’s life looks super freaking awesome all the time on there, because people don’t ever go around posting photos of themselves when they look fat, or when their boyfriend breaks up with them or when they lose their job. And I know that I have a habit of looking at how happy everyone else seems and then believing that my lame life sucks by comparison. I’ve thought about just completely giving up Facebook all together, but I really seriously do need it for my youth director duties and stuff, so instead, I’m just going to try harder to understand that Facebook profiles do not represent real life.

3. Stop buying things I don’t need. I do this too much. (See: Spray tans, pedicures, fast food, random crap from Target, $17 Clinique lip gloss, etc.) I need to stop doing this. I’m going to try harder to do better with this next year.

4. Get regular oil changes. You would think the fact that my car literally yells at me every time I need an oil change would be enough to get me to do this, but alas, I can’t get past the mindset that oil changes are really just a suggestion. I hope to be better about this next year.

5. Visit my dad. I actually don’t remember the last time I saw my dad in person. He lives like 2.5 hours away, and I just haven’t had the time and/or money to go down and visit him lately. I feel bad about that. I’m sorry for it. And I really do hope to see him soon.

Now excuse me while I go buy a bottle of sparkling grape juice and play Words with Friends while I countdown to 2012 — the year the world will most likely, probably end. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Some things.

1. Financially, my family is pretty much on the brink of things, but I’ve a gained a strong trust in God for taking care of us all, after going to hell and back with the big guy upstairs and having him save me every time so I’m not freaking out too much.

2. For the record, I am the best Scrabble player in my family. I need everyone to know that because I’m not the best at any other game among them.

3. I’m currently hosting my mom and my three siblings in my apartment for Christmas. My mom and I shared my bed, while one brother got the couch and then my sister and my other brother each got their own queen-size air mattresses, which are lined up end to end between the couch and the TV in my living room. We made it work.

4. I got a free kitchen table from my best friend’s boyfriend, and it came just in time to host all those people. Praise the Lord, Hallelujah! Amen! And, AND!, it even has a leaf in the middle, so it’s totally big enough for all of them to sit around and lose at Scrabble to me.

5. My amazing friend Sarah helped me pick it said table because she’s the only person I know within a 100-mile radius that has a mini-van AND enough love in her heart to drive to Timbucktoo with me and get it. She never once complained — even when the two of us were trying to carry the thing down a flight of stairs that randomly featured a left-turn right in the middle. I love you Sarah.

6. The Bears season is over then, I guess. I knew as soon as I got the text message from the Chicago Tribune that fateful night saying Jay Cutler had broke his thumb that it was all over. It still sucks though. On a brighter note, Tim Tebow seems like a genuinely nice guy. I mean, ya, I was mad when he beat the Bears, but then I remembered that everyone was beating the Bears these days, so I got over it.

7. I hid all of my sister’s gifts in a really good hiding spot and she has no clue where they are. This is especially hard because the two of us share a psychic connection and she can usually tell what I’m thinking just by looking at me.

8. I joined my church last Sunday. I know, I know, you’re all like, “Dude, Crystal, you started going/working there like 18 months ago? And you JUST now joined? What the what?!” But I take that decision very seriously and  I really wanted to make sure everything was a good fit before I said my vows in front of the congregation. A wise man once told me that it takes about 18 months to feel fully accepted as a new leader in a church. Over the past year and a half, there have been extreme highs, but there have also been days when I left there feeling like I’d been hit by a truck because I was so stressed about it all. And I just kept telling myself, 18 months, 18 months, 18 months. And you know what? It’s been 18 months and I really do feel like a genuine part of the family there now.  That doesn’t mean I don’t still stress and worry and whatnot, because you know, I’m Crystal and stuff, but it makes me feel like they’re kind of stuck of with me the way a sister is stuck with her brother. There’s a strange comfort in that.

9. I’ve been off work since Thursday for the holidays, and my company closes its office the week between Christmas and New Year’s because they rock, so I don’t go back until Jan. 3. This means I have a legit Christmas break. At 28. And did I mention the free candy? Best. Job. Ever.

10. I’m saying a formal pastoral prayer for the Christmas Eve services at my church tonight. It’s mostly a mash-up of Christmas and Advent prayers from the Methodist Book of Worship, but it’s my first time doing something like this, so I’m kind of excited about it. Usually when I pray in church, I just wing it, so this is really different. I wanted it to be formal, but also accessible, which is really hard to do. An excerpt:

“When our need for a Savior was great, you sent your Son to be born of the virgin Mary. To our lives, he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy and love. Grant that his Spirit may be born anew in our hearts tonight and that we may joyfully welcome him to reign over us.”

I love that line, “When our need for a Savior is great, you sent your Son.” It makes me think that humanity was just barely hanging off the cliff, with their fingers slipping off the edge, and God came through. Like He always does.

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My friend Stephanie

I got to chat last night with my friend Stephanie for about 8 minutes and all at once I remembered how much I miss the heck out of her.

She’s in the far off land of Springfield, Ill. raising the cutest baby girl west of everywhere, and loving her husband and working and whatnot. And I’m here in Chicagoland balancing two jobs, and trying not to eat too many french fires.

And because of those things, we hardly ever get to talk anymore.

The two of met in grad school, and bonded over our mutual love of blonde highlights. We clicked incredibly well for two people trying to find friends in an insanely competitive group of journalists.

And that friendship was solidified like the marble steps in the capital building once we started our Wednesday night dinners. It was a tradition that began as a response to the depressing Illinois winter and the exhaustion we endured from chasing around Gov. Blagojevich. At the time, I was on a diet, so it was the only day of the week I let myself drink soda. (Sweet, sweet soda, how I love thee).

Anyway, I always (always) wanted to go to Olive Garden, but sometimes I’d let her choose the place. Wherever we ended up, the evening turned into a magical night of friendship.

I miss those Wednesday night dinners with all my blonde soul.

Lucky for me, we’ve been able to stay in pretty good touch over the years (wow, years. with an s. crazy).  And I could tell from our 8 minutes of amiga bliss last night that we’ll continue to be friends for a long time.

My favorite part was that after she said she still keeps up with me on Facebook and my blog, she asked what only true friends can — tell about all the stuff you don’t post on the Internet. And I spewed out as much as I could before we had to say good-bye.

And, I’m making a promise to myself now that I will see her and her beautiful daughter in person soon. Because good friends like Stephanie are hard too find, and when you meet one, you have to hang on for dear life.

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