Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Letter

December 31-

I love a good Christmas letter.  I especially like the typewritten ones that come late, far too late, after everyone but the laziest of decorators has socked away the ornaments and consigned the Christmas tree to the basement or the woodpile or wherever it is that spent trees go. 

I like to receive evidence of a well-considered year.  A year examined not from within its confines, but from the far side of a tunnel of New Year's Days.  At that distance, folks tend to abandon reportage and get on with the true business of Christmas letters, which is making stuff up.

So I'm early.  And lazy.  And tragically allergic to the post-compositional liturgy of the Christmas letter, which must properly include a succession of irritants like envelopes and post offices.

But here goes.

2013 was a slow paddle.  It's true that the year encompassed -was devoured by- one of life's signal transformations. I got pregnant.  I had a kid.  I did the thing that is supposed to alter you irrevocably, send every last one of your cells through a giant spin cycle, splatter your marrow with the red paint that marks you as a mother.

But, as I really should have known by now, I'm not a Transformation kind of gal.  Life kept going. I kept going.  And at the end of the day -by which I mean the end of the year, but also the end of a process that was supposed to nuke me straight into New Womanhood- I don't feel any different.  I want the same things; I have the same strengths and weaknesses; I haven't become selfless or obsessional in the way of Archetypal Mothers.

This is both gratifying and sad.

Maybe the whole thing will snake around to bite me later, or grow over me slowly, like bread mold.  But maybe not; maybe we are who we are, children or no, and I should stop examining myself for the stigmata of personal change and get down to the business of making sure my child stays alive.

What else from 2013?  Concerts.  Rubbing, often painfully, up against the business of music. Crying over things I can't change, like death and falling and people who forget.  Some more writing.  And, very, very briefly, the sea.

A good year.  As every year is, in its way.  As if it needed me to tell it.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Low Sunday

December 29-

I love the fallow sevenday between Christmas and New Year's.  Nobody's doing much, and if they are, they're doing it languorously.  The whole week is fat and stuporous; your only task is to don your slippers and gulp some coffee and watch the sun carousel up and and down.  Happy slow days, all.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 in Books

"Best" is a very strong word.  It implies the application of objective criteria in such a way as to obtain a neat distribution of value.  One candidate is better than another, which is better than another, etc. on some cosmic ladder of excellence.  "Best" strikes me as way too much of a slog. 

I read a fair number of books in 2013.  But I won't tangle with "best."  Instead I'll go for "sticky."  Here are five books which, after two months of sleep deprivation, I still manage to recall having read.

1) Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon.  The longest book I've read since an ill-advised slog through Don Quixote, but about thirteen thousand times more interesting.  Solomon's doorstopper is a meticulous charting of families rived -and bound- by difference.  How does a parent cope with a child who is not merely different from himself, but categorically distinct: deaf, or autistic, or a prodigy?  Pretty much the best book since sliced bread, if sliced bread were a book.  (But don't eat this book: Paper is not tasty.)

2) The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer.  I am a huge sucker for books in which protagonists reexamine their youthful choices, and I am a sucker, too, for Wolitzer's sedimentary writing: the slow layering of detail into a luminous whole.  In recounting the journey of a close knit group of friends from teendom through middle age, Wolitzer explores what it means to be talented -and, in particular, marginally talented.  Since scads of us marginally talented, this makes for some satisfying literary navel gazing.

3) Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel.  The face-smashed-into-the-plate-glass, bloody-nosed immediacy of this novelization of the fall of Anne Boleyn is wild and bruising and very, very lovely.

4) Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright.  I mean, WOAH.  Read this before the Scientologists enturbulate the world.

5) Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, Anne Lamott.  Lamott's hilarious recounting of birthing and raising a colicky boy child by herself at 35.   A nice dose of hey-it-could-be-worse for your average new parent, and plus Lamott lived to publish this book, so that's vaguely reassuring.  Maybe I'll see you in 2014 after all.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Post-Boxing Day World

December 27-

It's amazing the difference a little more sleep makes.  It's also amazing the angst you feel when you realize you have little to no control over whether or not you get it.

But I got six uninterrupted hours last night.  SIX!  UNINTERRUPTED!  HOURS!  I am a new woman.  A new woman who knows she's probably in for it tonight. 

Parenting is an important job, but sometimes I think people make it out to be even more important than it is because a lot of it sucks so very hard.

But in the meantime: rainbows! Bunnies!  Love!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day

December 26-

Verlyn Klinkenborg has written his last installment of The Rural Life, his occasional series for the editorial page of the New York Times.

I feel unexpectedly devastated- I didn't read every installment of Klinkenborg's series, but I savored many, and I especially enjoyed the oddity of the column's placement.  Verlyn's columns were about nothing -or rather, the slow accretion of nothing that compresses, under the weight of observation, into a flint-hard, sedimentary something.  

Year in and year out, his quiet words lay cheek to jowl with statements on Israel, or capital punishment, or the minimum wage, or the inefficacy of congress.  For 16 years, they were a fulcrum, a point of stillness in the frenzied swings of the 24-hour news cycle.  They were beautifully slow in an age of hurry.

I will miss them terribly.

But here:

"Perhaps the most important thing I learned... was to look up from my work in the sure knowledge that there was always something worth noticing and that there were nearly always words to suit it." 


Wednesday, December 25, 2013


December 25, and I've come to the end of my Advent calendar of posts.

This from the New York Times editorial page today:

"The culture of Christmas - the songbook, the films, the stories, chapter and verse of the nativity- is so intent upon making us feel what we ought to feel (charity, rejoicing, something of the shepherds' awe, the glee of children) that sometimes it can come as a shock when we actually feel those things."

My love to you,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


December 24-

six twenty seven
after a long, hungry night
dump truck beats the sun

Monday, December 23, 2013


December 23-

The baby is growing on me.  Like mold, or a particularly virulent species of spider plant.  He's seven weeks old tomorrow, and in the past three weeks or so his social repertoire has increased.  Instead of merely staring, creepy-old-guy style, he is now able to stare, creepy-old-guy style, AND smile.   Also kind of creepy-old-guy style.  While making small, imperious noises.

This is a flabbergasting improvement.  When you start with one sardine, two sardines seems positively profligate.  I mean, smiles, hot damn!  I can actually start to see a human on the horizon, as opposed to the pissed off, wounded ferret we kept caged in the napper during month one.

Let's hear it for neurological development!

In terms of my own neurology, an interesting side effect of baby-having is that you become absolutely bat-shit, basket-case crazy when it comes to stories of bad stuff happening to babies.  A serial-killer aficionado friend of mine had to give up serial killers for two months.  This morning I listened, terrified, to an NPR story in which previously hunky dory infants succumbed to a terrifying, though reassuringly rare, neurological disease.

And I'm remembering, and remembering, and remembering again, the women I know whose babies died.  Three children gone before they could begin to irritate -and delight- their mothers.  All my love, and my sorrow.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Will Shortz 4 Eva

December 22-

We're out the other side of the dark, now.  I'm celebrating by doing the crossword.  There's not much better on a Sunday morning than the crossword and I'm glad I'm finally able to muster the concentration to take a whack at it.  Provided the progeny sleeps, of course.

Wondering if I can sneak it behind the bulletin at church.  Never thought I'd be a churchgoing atheist- or, for that matter- the mother of a son.  You play what you're dealt.  Or rather, you fill in the blanks.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter and Night

December 21-

The Solstice today.  It is sixty five degrees and sunny.  But someone brought over biscotti last night, so if I make a good cup of coffee, I can probably pretend to hunker down against the cold, wild wind.

The space between what is and what should be: where most of us live, most days.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Facebook, Baby

December 20-

Of my female Facebook friends with children, I am one of only a handful who have not substituted a picture of a child -or a family photo- for a picture of themselves.

Of my male Facebook friends with children,  the trend is reversed: only a few men post a photograph of their child in place of themselves, while the majority continue to plaster the Internet with selfies.  

This makes me uncomfortable- both the gender disparity and my status as an outlier,

To put it baldly, I do not want my child anywhere near my profile picture.

I am not my baby, nor do I want my baby to symbolically obviate my selfhood by taking ofter my Facebook profile.  But in keeping my profile picture baby free, I'm clearly deviating from the female -if not the male- norm, and it's tough to stray from normal without questioning yourself: What is wrong with me that I don't prioritize my child / give my online life over to him/ hold him up visually as the most important thing in my life, etc.?

On the other hand, why, as a woman, should it be so abnormal NOT to have my profile overrun by progeny?  No one would think twice about man who maintains a boundary between his online identity and that of of his child.  Just as no one ever asks the question:  "Did your husband keep his name?"

When you flout a social norm you're ultimately called upon to weigh who is dipping into the crazy.  Is it the norm?  Or is it you?

I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

All By Myself

December 19-

Alone in the house for the first time yesterday.  Just two hours in the middle of the day but I was taken aback by the loveliness of it, the way time seemed to drip and slow and sweeten. Solitude is the ultimate luxury now.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


December 18-

Baby is really a lovely baby in the mornings.  He wakes up and kind of hangs out quietly for a while in his crib or his napper until he begins to work up to hunger and then we feed him.  When we first bend down over him, he offers us the sloppy, gummy smile of someone who has, over the course of the night, forgotten we existed and is delighted -and probably relieved- to remember that we're around now that the sun is up.

This is, in fact, exactly what he's done.  When we're out of the room, we're nowhere to be found in that tiny baby brain.  The cat is still winning the cognition contest, paws down: Updates to follow.

So we feed him and he smiles and we change him and he smiles and then he makes small conversational noises at us for a while and then he lies quietly wherever we stash him before drifting into a salutary morning nap.

In the evening he becomes a very small Kim Jong-un, fussy to uncertain purpose, so it's nice that he uses the mornings to broker detente.

And I needed the baby loveliness this morning after being kept up between the hours of 3:30 AM and 5:30 AM, which is when my husband decided it was time to bake a cake.

That's right, people, a cake.  For his office Christmas party.  At 3:30 in the morning.  With a newborn in the house.  WHO DOES THAT?!

He eventually explained: Pre-baby, he loved to bake for people.  Post-baby, with everything in life turned upside down, it became important to him to prove to himself that even though he could no longer shave or shower or speak in complete sentences, he could still bake a damn cake.

I get that.  I really do.

But I also didn't get any cake.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

O Adonai

December 17-

Dear adrenal glands: Shut up, already.

Monday, December 16, 2013


December 16-

The advantage to being stranded at home in a mind-numbing cycle of sameness (can you tell I will be a mother who goes back to work?) is that every little shift in texture, every nub in the weave, looms large. 

Yesterday a very nice, baby-happy woman from church offered to sit so I could go to a concert.  So I went to the concert.  Never look a gift horse in the mouth, and all that.

(What IS a gift horse?  I imagine a worn-down jumper sporting giant bow.  Why would you want to look in this horse's mouth?  Why would you want to look in anyone's mouth?   Do you think there's going to be treasure in there?  When was the last time a pirate stashed his booty under someone's tongue?  Never.  That's when.)

But the concert: One of the most unfortunate side effects of becoming a professional musician is that you basically hate music.

This is an oversimplification, but it's tough -extraordinarily tough- to turn off the inner critic that you have so rigorously trained up in the service of becoming the best musician you can be. It's like going to a party and bringing along your grumpy Great Uncle Herbert who served in the Great War and finds every person and experience thereafter morally bankrupt.  The enjoyment other audience members so clearly experience as the holler and leap to their feet- well, it's lost on you and on Herbert as the pair of you sit there cataloguing mistakes and missteps, ticking off ways this or that thing could have been better.

In these situations, enjoyment requires a deliberate act of will. 

So I mustered it.  There are always elements to savor, even when those elements are surrounded by things that piss Herbert off.  Enjoying a concert is a small triumph, but it is a triumph.  I took Herbert home and picked up the baby and the three of us sat on the couch together, being quiet.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lower the Bar!

December 15

Bad night: Baby, who usually succumbs to the dark with some compact, fuel-efficient fussing, test drove a souped-up-Escalade sort of fuss for divinable reason  before finally passing out amidst an exhausted pile of his parents circa 10 PM. 

It was made worse, as all things are, by expectations: I'd been lulled, these past 5.5 weeks, by baby's heretofore agreeable sleeping habits.  And so, anticipating the thought of a deliciously early bedtime for myself, I felt betrayed.  That tiny little monkey with no object permanence or neck control STABBED ME IN THE BACK!

Of course, the real betrayal is my own.  I know -of course I know- that expectations set you up for disappointment.  So why did I allow myself, for a couple of weeks, to take something for granted?  To dare to feel, if not entitled, then at least secure? 

It's a fine line, the distance between quashing expectations and wild anxiety. "Expect the unexpected" is the mantra people use when they're trying to walk this line, but really, if I sat around expecting the unexpected all the time, I would exist in a state of paralytic fear. I mean, there could be zombies!  Any minute!  Or the floor could open up and swallow me!  Is that a swarm of killer bees I hear?  Will a demigod emerge at any minute from your bowels?

When you're adrift in a sea of chaos, you look for some spar to cling to.  We're pattern seekers, we humans: predictions comfort us.

The trick, I think, is to accept expectation.  But to make sure, as much as possible, that you set your expectations really, really,low.  Like, oh, hey: we'll all still be alive at the end of the night.

Which we are, barely.  Thanks to the miracle of coffee.  That's some good stuff, coffee.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Week's End

December 14:

Saturday! I remember when Saturday used to mean something.

Baby woke up happy today.  Maybe he is a morning baby, like me.  This is good: the morning half of our household needs reinforcements.  The cat has gone over to the Other Side.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The View from Here

December 13:

Post-baby, which bears no small similarity to post-apocalypse, I miss all of the things I thought I would miss.  I miss a peaceful home with no crying time bomb ready to go off.  I miss my calm self.  I miss the ability to step out the door and take a walk, or head to the museum, or really to go anywhere or do anything without a massive outlay of time, trouble and money.

But what I didn't anticipate missing, and do now -acutely- is perspective. Part of what I valued about working so many jobs was that my vantage was constantly shifting: I entered and exited different worlds every day of the week.  There was my home world, my inner city education world, my music world, my teaching world, my writing world...each with its own set of values and tribulations.   A split screen life offers protection: if you don't like what's playing in one window, you can always shift your gaze.

I miss that terribly.  You can glean a little bit of perspective through fiction or the newspaper, but it's not the same.  Now I'm just....here.  Which is tough.  Especially when someone is peeing in the bed.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Not Tonight. Or Tomorrow.

December 12:

You get a lot of advice, immediately prior to having children.  And all of it boils down to something like: "Say goodbye to everything you enjoy in life, and also basic hygiene, because you will never again be able to shower or read a book or kindle any delight in your life other than that which is to be found on the self-immolating altar of Motherhood.  And you will like it, damn it."

I didn't really enjoy hearing this, pre-baby, but post-baby, I've decided to extract what wisdom I can, which basically boils down to a foolproof excuse to stop doing all the things I didn't really like doing in the first place.

For me, this has proven to include:
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning the bathroom
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Cleaning really anything
  • Making pretenses at yardwork
  • Going to the Post Office
  • Responding in a timely manner to work-related emails
  • Half-hearted stabs at personal grooming
  • Staying up past 9:00 PM
  • Dressing in things that are not stretchy
That said, I'm starting to suspect that we parents do, when it comes down to it, make time for what's really, really, really important to us.  It's possible that the folks who say "I haven't read a book in five years" weren't big readers, anyway.  Maybe the non-exercisers never liked it all that much. 

But if you love something, you demand time for it, and you basically do this by going after that sucker like a crazed hound after a rabbit.  The list of non-baby-related things you accomplish post-parenthood is necessarily smaller, but it does help to illuminate your priorities.

Here, apparently, are mine:
  • Reading
  • Exercising
  • Practicing
  • Writing
Now, on to divining what else I can let slide!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sunny; Cold.

December 11: Husband and I have spent a fair amount of time debating whether or not baby is smarter than the cat.  My take: Only one of them knows how to use the litter box.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


December 10, redux!

I have just discovered I've been doing my dates wrong.  Apparently I thought yesterday was December 10, the day before was December 9, etc.  This goes toward demonstrating the timelessness of newborn care, the great slack hours that, nevertheless, manage to stuff themselves full of things you can't even remember doing.

What the heck have I accomplished these past 5 weeks?  Not much, besides keeping the progeny alive.  This is tough for a to-do-list-aholic like myself.  There's nothing I love more than a good to-do list!  I enjoy making them; I enjoy using them to precisely schedule my days; I enjoy (oh boy howdy) the delicious moment when you draw a pen slash through that sucker and wipe your hands.

It's a disease, I know.  And in baby-rearing, it's singularly unhelpful.  There's a great part in Operating Instructions, the fabulous Anne Lamott baby memoir I am currently rereading, in which one of Anne's friends tells her that caring for her son gives her an opportunity to "dance with her feelings of anger and inadequacy."  Anne's instinct is to tell that friend to stuff it.

But you are forced up against your own temperament, with a baby.  You assess your personality characteristics in a new light: not as a collection of harmless quirks but as a regiment of soliders who will, ready or no, accompany you into battle.  You walk up and down the line, inspecting your troops.  Humor: a loyal and tireless ally.  Laziness: can be prodded into action.  Impatience: the one who will accidentally shoot you in the butt. 

To arms!

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Doubt It

December 10: Just came across a piece on self-doubt in the NY Times, which manages to articulate the doubts I've felt about doubting self-doubt (!)

As with so much of life, it's a tightrope.  Here's article author Mark O'Connell:

"The problem is that the inner critic is actually an indispensable element of any writer's working life; it is the immune system, the necessary resistances against the toxicity of bad writing.  Excessive self-doubt is therefore like a sort of autoimmune disease, caused by an overactive and overpowerful inner critic: the cure becomes the condition."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sleepless in Babydom

December 9: I'm not sleeping well.

This is not really a surprise, given that I have a four-week-old.  But the dreadful irony is that my child is sleeping better than I am.  Like a good little soldier of somnolence, he goes down around 9:00 PM for four or five hours, feeds, then goes back down for another four of five hour stretch.  For his age, he's a champ.

I wish I could say the same thing about his mother.

Alas, what's keeping me up at night is, well...me.  It's not unprecedented: I have always been, and will likely always be, my own worst enemy.  Instead of knuckling down to the business of slumber after the 1:00 AM feed like my son does, I lie awake in the dark panicking.  I need to sleep!  I need to sleep!  Am I sleeping yet?  Is he eating enough?  Why is he sleeping so long?  Why did he spit up so much? Are those real social smiles, or my imagination?  Why isn't he sleeping more during the day?  Will he get diaper rash?  Was that intestinal distress or indignance?  Why does he wheeze?  Is that heart murmur going to kill him?  Should I be calling 911?  Should I be calling the pediatrician?  Why am I not sleeping?  Oh my God, am I setting myself up for a lifetime of insomnia?  What if I'm setting myself up for a lifetime of insomnia?  Will that make me a bad mother?   I should really be sleeping! 

And so on.  Having a baby revs the engine of anxiety, but of course anxiety was always there, biding its time like a cartoon villain resting between sequels.  Meanwhile, I pore over the baby books.  In this first, most important of years, baby has a lot to learn.  He must learn to fall back asleep.  He must learn to soothe himself when he is upset.  He must learn that, however upset he gets, things will ultimately be OK.

Me too, baby.  Me too.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


December 7: Sleeping baby; storm on the way.

Friday, December 6, 2013

5:30 PM

December 6:  I think what writing helps me to do is pay attention.

This year I've mostly written professionally, and my attention has been rigorously directed: this piece, this performance, this artist.  But in letting my unpaid writing slide, I'd also let lapse attention I used to pay to, well, everything else.  It feels good to get back to smashing my face into the rest of the world.

Yesterday I ambled back from the drugstore with my stroller, passing the plate glass windows of the combined cleaning service/art education enterprise.  It's an odd pairing: the storefront is divided into two halves, and the half that houses the cleaning company is rapturously dirtier than the half that houses the easels and paints.

It was nearly, but not quite, full dark -that overeager December black that arrives before you've braced yourself.  A cat picked its way amongst the paper piles of the cleaning side; in the art studio, a lone man sat, inexplicably reading.  He had a real book, hefty, at least the width of his wrist, and he looked to be near the beginning.

It was all the inches left to him that speared me with delight.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


December 5: Thinking this morning about my grandmother, a woman I never met. 

Oh, sure, I spent time with her: every other summer we'd fly to Sacramento to stay in my grandparents' dark, low-slung duplex.  I remember walking outside and feeling the heat slap me in the face.  Even the grass seemed cowed.  At night, my grandfather, a fearsomely toupeed Southern Baptist Minister, would read us bible stories in a tight, urgent growl.  We were heathen, unbaptized, wild: he had limited time.

My grandmother in these memories is background noise: a clanging in the kitchen or a humming from down the hall. Children don't wonder: they don't question, or probe, and by the time I was a teenager, old enough to want to understand my grandmother for who she was, rather than what she did for me, she'd slipped into dementia.

But I know my father loved her, and fiercely.  He wept when she died -I'd almost never seen him cry- though by that time my grandmother was a decade into Alzheimer's, unable to speak or eat or recognize her son.   Most of what I know about her comes from my father: she was a thrifty woman, a calm woman, and, above all, a pragmatist. Wherever she found herself -and she found herself in town after town; my grandfather was a restless soul- she did what worked.

Today, as a new parent, I desperately need her model.  There are so many BARS TO RISE TO; so many ways to DO THE BEST THING FOR YOUR CHILD.  There are implicit capital letters everywhere in modern parenthood:  THE STAKES ARE HIGH, and you have to get child rearing EXACTLY RIGHT or you are selfish and lazy, and have basically consigned your child to life as a homeless obese schizoid methhead.  Upper-middle-class parenthood has become fraught and perilous and urgent, my grandfather thrusting bible after bible into my hands.

I wish I'd met my grandmother, really met her, but I have my father's stories.   How she put my profligate grandfather on an allowance, my busy father on a leash.  That time my father ran full tilt toward the edge of a roof and, instead of screaming, she sat down and stared at the shingles.  "Look!" she exclaimed, pointing at nothing until my father trotted back to see what the fuss was about.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


December 4th: I ran again today.  It was 6:00 AM, pitch dark, and it was only toward the end of my slow shuffle around the neighborhood that the sky began to turn.  The way the blue comes and takes over is so startling.  Sunrise never fails to take some small part of me by surprise.  It's the joke that stays funny, the book you read and finish and read again.  You expect it; you know it's coming; and yet, when the sky sets itself on fire, or when, at last, your baby slides up over your stomach in the delivery room, you think: Holy Shit.

That might be all there is: Holy Shit. 

Your Advent thought for the day.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


December 3: Lying in bed with my baby next to me.  He's wheezing and snuffling like an old man or a very angry squirrel. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cold & Canaries

Three years into my sojourn in VA, I've officially gone soft.  I own one of those coats that does not really keep me warm.  My winter accessories are a hopeless jumble, and for all I know, the snow shovel disapparated years ago.  The temperature dropped into the high twenties several nights ago and I became wretched with cold.

And indignant.  Didn't I have a right to my mild winter?  Wasn't the universe obliged to provide me with the ability to run outside, year round, without feeling, well....cold?  It's funny what you begin, over time, to accept as your due.  It's as if entitlement is the canary of acclimation- the singing thing that tells you that, at long last, you've settled in. 

It was with the smack of righteousness then, that I greeted December 2: Sunny, mild, blue. A good day to start my shamble back to life.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Hi, my name is Anne, and I'm an Adventaholic. 

No, I'm not religious.  Nor do I celebrate Christmas with any particular vigor.  (In point of fact, I celebrate Christmas with the vigor of a spavined, mortally wounded mule.  Sometimes I manage a poinsettia.)

But Advent -hey now!  There's little quite so pleasurable as pleasurable anticipation- and to top it off, you get the day-by-day injection of awesome that is the Advent calendar. What's more satisfying then prising open the secrets of each day, especially if you can thereafter pop those secrets into your mouth? 

But I'll take just about any advent calendar, even the most unchocolatey.  Because there's more to advent calendars than the rather delicious illusion that you are eating time.   There's that moment - rarer and rarer in my life- of conscious, deliberate acknowledgement.  Instead of letting the days rush past, I take a moment to stare each one down and, as if I had all the time in the world, to bow.

December 1, 2013.   Nice to meet you.