Xmas ’22 – Day After

It was a day like any other day (at my parent’s place). But for some reason the fatigue weighed on me. We had a hearty breakfast, and then set out to see what remained of the world.

Already it was clear that something had gone down.

The weather wasn’t favorable. The storm the night before had knocked out the power and flooded some of the roads. It looked a mess down on the beachside, but a crime had clearly been committed. The storm may have uncovered something. Though it could easily have been overlooked by the average passerby, to me the sign was in bright neon. There were drag marks leading into the tall grass.

It would be impossible to follow the drag marks into the grass. It was taller than my head in some places, and married with dead rose bushes. The only ones skilled enough to brave it are the small birds, grown fat without competition for food or risk of predators, and the small bunny rabbits, who burrow in like their own underground network of quick escape routes. Them, and apparently the culprit.

Further down the trail more evidence appeared. The discarded remains of a beach snail. Large as average hermit crabs and some of the residents of this area. They live peacefully alongside the small birds and bunny rabbits. They all live nonviolent lives. To find these remains was proof enough that something bad had happened.

Because the trail was washed out and the wind and tides had carried flotsam and jetsam higher inland than usual, the chances of finding more evidence seemed slim. And there would only be a few more hours before it became full dark.

There was no sound out there. Not the singing of the small birds, or the flapping of duck wings on water, or the gentle wash of the tide on the beach. It was as if everyone knew something had happened. And no one was telling.

Eventually I happened upon an area littered with a dozen empty snail shells. Some were partially burried, some looked fresh. I had somehow stumbled upon the culprit’s killing grounds. And it was a horrendous scene. Who would bear enough hatred to go on a mass killing spree such as this? Or maybe they had been killing for much longer and the storm unburried old evidence…

It was hard to know yet. This crime seemed to run deeper than just the random killing of a beach snail. The birds and the bunnies seemed to know something, but weren’t saying. I’d have to find another way to uncover more evidence. I needed to come up with a motive, and hopefully, a suspect. I needed to know why. But the sky was growing dark, and the rain was moving it. It would be a race against time, …and the elements…

Xmas ’22 – The Day

…and mistletoe and holly and snow and slush and poop…

…and there was a poop…

At some point the smell of coffee hits. Or the sound of music drifts into your consciousness. Or dreams finally bid you farewell, and you wake from your slumber. Who really knows how it happens? But it is never a question as to what day it is.

When you were young it was a day of great mystery. All the things you have wanted and hoped someone had been paying attention, maybe, just maybe someone thought you have been good. At least for the last two months you have been on your best behavior. And you would make your way down the stairs, never running. Not like all the movies. You have had too many accidents on the stairs to dare running down them. But the smell is always the same, and the music is always the same, and the air is filled with some kind of excitement.

It isn’t like that anymore. Certainly you open your eyes and smell the coffee and hear the soft crooning of Christmas music from somewhere below. But there is no mystery to the day. No magic or wonder.

The threat of getting no present should you be bad no longer stands. When one says they don’t want anything, they still will get something. It is too socially unacceptable to NOT get them something. This is a day of giving.

People create shopping lists of things they want. There is no mystical being breaking into your home at night to steal sweets and leave suspicous packages behind. Stockings become holders for all the random candy and other items too small to justify wrapping. And the mystery that is the very purpose of wrapping paper is gone, because you already knew you were getting everything you get.

We finally gather together and begin opening presents around close to noon. No one is in a rush to get moving. Some never changing out of their pajamas. When the first corner of paper begins to tear, it is the dogs who show the most excitement. My parent’s older golden retriever long ago learned the fun of tearing up paper. What once was cute that she could open her own presents has now become a battle of whack-a-mole, except it is snatching presents back from her before she can open them for you. Combined with my cousins’s black energizer doggy who has learned the same game… Slowly unwrapping presents to savor the mystery is a thing of the past. The ground between us is littered with ignored dog toys and shreds of paper.

Somewhere in the background the warm smells of food drift from the kitchen and hunger pulls us from the living room. We snack on random bits while playing with our new toys. Except me. For some reason I never ask for things I can play with. I walk around in my new boots. I flip through new books I won’t be starting yet. Until finally I get on my computer and work on school stuff that has no impending due date.

It feels like a short day. Maybe the shortest. We wake up late. And then it is dark out so early. By 6pm it feels as though we have all been milling around for days. By 9pm we are struggling to justify staying up. What did I even do today? This day that is about family and togetherness. We did not talk to any extended family, and everyone sat around staring at their electronic devices. Maybe that is Christmas now. An internet live time map showing you where Santa is as he flies across the world. No reindeer. All electric fireplaces. Instant video notification of anyone who even gets close to your front door. I made cookies. “World Famous” my cousin calls them. And I left the bottle of White Christmas (rum and brandy) out on the counter, just in case anyone wanted some eggnog. But the dog only barked at my cats. And the nog was only being drunk by me.

In the end, it it’s not really about the presents. The things we ask for. And while it is no longer a mystery as to what is under the sparkly paper, it is an indication that we are not alone. We make a list and send it into the world, and the message we receive back is saying, “I am here, I see you, and I love you.” Maybe there is no cherry cheeked fat man laying down the fear of coal unless you pay him in sweets. But there is the promise of love and warmth as long as you put in the effort to nurture it. Maybe it won’t snow, and maybe you won’t get kissed under the mistletoe, but the mere presence of unconditional love is the gift you are given by an extraordinarily happy man who brings you all together.

Xmas ’22 – Day 3.5

Cutting Hair

I had somehow gotten the idea in my head that in Asian culture one cuts their hair after they have suffered loss or heartbreak etc. It seemed to make sense.

In actuality cutting hair is more of a sign of shame and disgrace.

Maybe it is the same..

In my head though, it still feels like something symbolic. If nothing else, it is symbolic of letting go of what is old, what is past. And bringing change, allowing a fresh start.

I was ready for this. I woke up determined to cut my hair. My entire year has shown me loss, betrayal, and heartbreak.

But a couple hours after waking up, we received a call. My hair appt had been cancelled for unforseen reasons.

You can see that I am an oddly spiritual person. And I can’t help but believe in signs. I was extremely disheartened when I realized I was not going to be able to get my hair cut. But I also wondered what the sign was. For some, unknown reason, I was not meant to let go yet. There is still more for me to do.

I read my horoscope, my tarot cards, and runes. They are certainly not hard and fast truths. In a sense, they are the frames for which you put your own image. Everybody interprets them in their own way.

Today, the message was to trust myself because I have the strength to move forward.

In some cultures long hair is a symbol of strength and responsibility. There is more for me to deal with in my future due to events that have occurred this past year. Perhaps that is the reason.

Xmas ’22 – Day 3

Xmas Invasion

I spent the afternoon busting into fallen alien pods and harvesting their strange alien seeds. It felt almost cruel, yet cathartic. Occassionally, sneaking a taste of the undeveloped alien, red running down my fingers.

Until I eventually found it. The single most unique seed. The one seed with the power to either rule them all, or to destroy everything…

Luckily, I was able to capture and prevent that seed from developing into the alien leader it was destined to become, and to somehow call down more of its alien pods.

Though I fear I may be too late…

What strangeness is this candle whos light is made of water??

Xmas ’22 – Day 2

Playing elf..

Spent some three hours wrapping presents. It was okay, I was determined to do it. Despite finding it tedious. I try to make it fun.

“Oh just put the gift card in a small bag.”

“No way! I much prefer putting it in this big jewelry box with a hand full of candy. That way they think they’re getting something really good!”

The wrapping paper companies must make off like bandits. The only thing more wasted than tissues. At least tissues are useful. Wrapping paper… you spend three hours sizing, and folding, and taping. And you spend 10 seconds ripping it off. Add another five seconds to ball up the paper and throw it at someone.

Three hours. And it is never some elvish stream-lined process. You can never cut a straight line. Despite the dotted grid guide on the back of the paper. Despite utilizing both methods of cutting. The slow, measured snip, which always results in a jagged and sometimes slightly torn edge… or the fast sliding slice, which can sometimes result in a grossly crooked edge, or in the case that your arms are not long enough, the paper bends and the scissors catch and grievously tear the paper…

Oh well, that’s what tape is for right? This magic ‘invisible tape’… that is completely, glaringly visible. Either finish, smooth matte, or vivid gloss. You may as well be using that neon 90’s hip-hop era colored duct tape. …actually, duct tape would probably stick better to some of the cardboard. So much for magic tape.

And, of course, you can never get the piece of wrapping paper just right. You either have too little and thus toss that piece aside and hope you have a smaller present to wrap… or you end up with too much, in which you either stick with it and roll and roll and roll the paper around the gift like a roll of paper towels… or you snip the extra off creating those annoying and useless strips of wrapping paper you’ll never be able to wrap anything in…

It is all well and good. You will hear people constantly and self assuredly announce that they don’t like surprises. Almost as if hanging a sign around their neck that says, “Sucker. Someone hide around the corner and jump out at me when I get close.” And yet they always, always fall into the magical mind game that is wrapped presents. The very purpose of wrapping presents is that the gift is mean’t to be a surprise. The object of opening it is that you want to be surprised. Weak constitution or control freak, whichever you are, nobody DOESN’T want to be surprised. The world would be so disappointing if you knew everything and every action and every event. It is the purpose of our brains to be challenged in even just some slight way. Shake the present (hope it isn’t fragile because wrapping paper with the words “fragile, this side up” would remove some of the magic) and attempt to guess what it is.

And when you tear back that paper (unless you are like me and carefully unstick each piece of tape individually…) even if you knew what it is, you still feel a slight swell of surprise. Because the purpose of a gift is not just to spend money on someone that you know. The purpose of a gift is to show that person that you see them, and that you care.

(Wrapping paper is still kind of ridiculous though… one roll of baby shower paper and you only had one gift to wrap… )

Xmas ’22 – Day 1

Crazy Coincidence, or are we entering Crazy Town?

On the morning of Nov. 13, 2022 police received a 911 call that led them to the bodies of four university students of my alma mater, The University of Idaho. They had all been brutally stabbed in their rental home off campus. None of the victims was older than 21 years of age. The house also had two more roommates, one of whom had made the 911 call. All six of the individuals living in the rental were white. There were no signs of forced entry. And the police strongly believe it to be a targeted attack.

Dec. 20, 2022 the murder still remains unsolved. The police do not have any suspects.

In the early hours of Aug. 13, 2021 police responded to a 911 call in rural Salem, Or. A young husband and wife had been brutally stabbed in their home. The husband died, the wife sustained serious injuries but survived.

Aug. 13, 2022 the murder still remains unsolved. The police do not have any suspects.

They do not believe the two crimes are connected.

In 1987 a man named Michael Francke was hired as the new director for the Oregon Department of Corrections. He uncovered incredible amounts of corruption within the prison system. On the night of Jan. 17, 1989 Francke is found stabbed to death outside the entrance of his office building in Salem, Or.

(Also not connected, but another gruesome stabbing in Salem, Or. just an hour or so north of my current home town, Eugene, Or.)

On Dec. 7, 2022 police released a statement asking for the public’s help locating a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra believing the driver or passengers might have information. They did not have a license plate number and the police have identified over 22,000 vehicles.

Dec. 20, 2022 police have identified a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra in Eugene, Or. and are looking into its possible connection to the quadruple homicide in Moscow, Id.

The police have deemed the car unrelated..


I tend to live in my own little bubble. I woke up to coffee and some six inches of snow. Crime is something that happens to other people. It happens somewhere else. It happens on TV and in novels. But all of this feels very close to me. I, and I am sure many other children who watched it, found the show Unsolved Mysteries to be absolutely nightmare inducing. It was because there was no happy ending, the murderers were never caught, the crimes were never solved. That is this crime. The brutal stabbing of 4 college kids. And the news articles keep pointing to Oregon..

Xmas ’22 – Prologue

And we travel through the wardrobe..

The world is grey and cold. Rain comes tumbling down without hesitation. Water falls as easily as lies off lips. And the air is thick and biting, chasing you away..

My car is like my spaceship, encompassing me with warmth and safety. Through the speakers comes the audio mystery of the 1989 murder of the Oregon Department of Corrections director. The murder, a mystery, spurred on by all the incredible crime and corruption in the state. Most prominently, just an hour North of my home town.

So I fly away. I fly from the unhappiness and hurt of my everyday life. I fly past the town of murder and corruption. I fly North.

Eventually the world grows more and more dark while I glide along through space and time. And as I slide across a bridge, suddenly I am somewhere else. Like the Pevensies climbing through the wardrobe.

The sky still falls. The world grows white the further I go. A hundred shaken snow globes in each cone of orange light I pass. My headlights setting the ground aglow, flashes of twinkling light. Diamonds drifting down without hesitation. Blanketing the ground in a regal gown of white.

And when I finally come to a stop, arrived at my destination, the world I left behind is simply a memory, drifting down to the ground, where it will melt away.