Sunday, December 28, 2008

Look, I won't trash your traditions if you don't trash mine.

Every family has its holiday traditions.

Every family.

And I know that in some families holiday traditions consist of who is able to belch the loudest during the commercial breaks of the Rose Bowl. Still others celebrate holidays by dredging up all the old family dirty laundry that's been comfortably buried in piles of other dirty laundry for years and years and is now crawling with mildew (yes, mildew would crawl in this situation) and possibly young families of mice.

Others carol, tell tales of the histories of their people, light candles, swap embarrassing and heart-warming stories about the childhood exploits of blushing siblings, take road trips, watch movies, put together puzzles, do enormous amounts of baking, visit neighbors and elderly relatives and soup kitchens and heck, maybe even animal shelters.

My family does a lot of that too.

But our most persistent holiday tradition?

We get sick. Very, very sick.

And this year we played out our ol' familiar tradition in style.

The sickness can come from any direction, really, and it doesn't have to be any kind of sickness in particular, just something that knocks the majority of us down for at least a day or two, just enough to significantly reduce the amount of quality family time we're able to spend together during the holiday season (that is, if you don't count competing over who gets the highest recorded fever as 'quality family time').

This year, my older sister and her family got sick first. They all started experiencing some significant abdominal distress a couple of days after my youngest sister's wedding (the last of the girls to marry--other than me--hah!) but thought it had moved through and on by the time they came to my parents' house on Christmas Eve.

So they came, and we played and laughed and watched movies and ate cake and caroled around the piano and told embarrassing (and sometimes heart-warming) stories about each other. And it was great. We even thought we had escaped a general family sickness, since my older sister's family appeared unlikely to pass it on, and although my mom had been quite sick with a flu-like cold during my sister's wedding, (extremely unfortunate, but she fought through it like a trooper), the cold didn't appear to be spreading.

This is why my onset of nausea after eating Christmas dinner was somewhat distressing. But even more distressing was vomiting bits of turkey and mashed potatoes out of my nose a few hours later. And hearing everyone else vomit their assorted semi-digested eatings later that evening, in the middle of the night, and into the morning and afternoon of the day after Christmas, including my two-and-a-half-year and six-month-old nephews. (In fact, probably the worst part was hearing my six-month-old nephew crying because he was hungry, but couldn't eat because A: if he did eat, he was likely to throw up and B: my sister hadn't eaten anything for about 18 hours, and thus didn't have any mammary-produced sustenance with which to feed him.)

We're all feeling pretty okay now. A cleansing of the entire system (the entire system, I assure you) and plenty of ginger ale, juice popsicles and an assortment of bananas and toast has brought most of us back to about 90% of normal. And my sister and brother-in-law (parents of the two nephews) who had intended to stay with us only a few days have now spent many more days with us, due to being all sick and unable to get up and stuff, so that's been a boon of sorts.

And you know, I've been thinking. In all honesty, I'd take the 'puking and/or feverish colds every holiday season' over 'family fights and not speaking to each other every holiday season' any day.

So, I guess if we have to pick one terrible family tradition, this one isn't the worst. Maybe, when it comes to holidays, something that 'isn't the worst' might be pretty good after all.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And a happy, HEALTHY, new year.

Monday, December 15, 2008


So, as happy as I am with the love-fest in the comments section, I really didn't mean that last post to be a combination talk about how badly I'm doing right now and request for comfort. It was more of a discussion of where I've been this past semester. It was hard, but I'm really doing fine at the moment. (Somehow, having the stress of schoolwork removed by the cessation of the semester has made the sun sparkle off the concrete of Boston just that much more.)

Seriously. It's good. I'm good. We're all good.

Also, I am feeling particularly great because:

A. I leave for home in approximately 24 hours.

B. I cleaned the apartment today, which is always satisfying (?).

C. I got straight 'A's this past semester.

Yeah. Seriously. I'm pretty dang okay with that.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A little hefty bit

Let me be frank: this semester has been dang hard. It's been hard scholastic-wise, social-wise, personal-state-of-self-wise, hair-wise, glasses-wise, pretty much every conceivable -wise possible.

Well, actually, that isn't true. I've had no difficulties with, say, species identity. I'm pretty sure I'm Homo sapiens. Also, my fingers have given me little trouble over the past few months. And hey, my continual acquisition of books has gone swimmingly.

But other things have been hard. When I say that the semester has been difficult scholastic-wise, I don't want to imply that I haven't enjoyed it; it's been one of the most enjoyable semesters I've had here. In fact, I feel that during this semester I finally got into the meat of what I hope to do as a professional librarian: reference work with children, preferably ages birth (yes, we do provide library services to babies) through 8th grade or so. I learned about programming for children, during which time I got to both construct a box of resources for a themed story time and later use someone else's box to perform a story time in class. It was, frankly, extremely awesome. Particularly the whole reading-picture-books-and-singing-songs in graduate school thing. I learned about children's literature, including how to write reviews and analyze the library's current collection to better meet the needs of the community. I spent hours and hours and even more hours getting familiar with reference source after reference source. It was intense, but oh-so-informative.

I guess that's the point: this semester's schoolwork was pretty heavy, but I feel like I learned more, or at least more valuable, pertinent-to-me information than I'd learned in any previous semester.

So, school was actually pretty good. Stressful, HECK YES, but good.

Let me just breeze through a few of these others before I get to the real meat of this: my hair is currently way too long and frazzled at the end. I needs a trim. This equals hardship for my poor self. My poor straggly-haired self.

Glasses: lost a screw. One of the lens frames is now held together with a fashionable piece of copper wire. I dare you to try to spot it without knowing about it beforehand. (And now you know about it! So you lose! Automatically! Dang, I'm sly.)

Personal-state-of-self. Dude. I consumed a ton of cookies tonight. I ordered Chinese food and pizza and I'm down to one pair of jeans that fits properly. Which makes me feel that I stink as a human being.

Which kind of leads me to the point of this whole post, the subject that I'm kind of reluctant to discuss, mostly because it reveals my really real deep inner flaws in a way that makes me intensely uncomfortable.

You see, this last semester, I also withdrew a lot from human contact.

It's not as bad at the moment, so I know have to write about this in a looking-back sort of way, rather than an I'm-in-this-right-now sort of way, so I don't know if I can fully recapture all the things that've been going on in my internal parts these past few months. Frankly, I could probably recapture it best at about 3:00 in the morning, with the occasional murmur of a single car passing outside my window making me feel, somehow, not less alone, but more so.

But, my roommates are home, and in and out of the room, being friendly (which is great) so let's see if I can grasp on to this slippery feeling that settled on me like a film of soap this past semester...

I have a feeling that my withdrawal from human contact has stemmed, to a large degree, from my growing dissatisfaction with myself. It's manifested itself in different ways: I can recall, for instance, sitting in church and feeling so unable to deal with people and the crowds and the press and the noise and the pressure that I had to escape outside in a near panic. I think I couldn't stand being around other people because, in part, I couldn't stand myself, or rather, I couldn't stand how I was sure other people viewed me.

So, I got out. And I kept getting out. And I kept not connecting with people, and I kept shutting the door to my room when I got home and I kept not really talking to people in class and.

And I just drew myself in and encrusted myself with as much armor-thick I-don't-care-ness as I could muster.

So, I had only myself to deal with. And, reluctantly, rarely, other people. When they absolutely refused not to be admitted. Which some did refuse, thank goodness.

And yeah, my relationship with God suffered too, mostly because I didn't take time for anyone besides my own brain. And, as crazy and entertaining as my brain can be, it can't provide insight into tremendously difficult life problems or answers to questions about the nature of the universe and our place in it (although it can come up with hecka-awesome dreams).

And. Good grief. NONE OF THIS explains really what I've been feeling or thinking or anything. And it's already too long by about 458%.

I guess, suffice it to say, I've had the door to my room closed far too often and for far too long. And I'm starting to reemerge back into the world, but it's hard. And I feel vulnerable and shaky, particularly because I'm still not entirely happy with myself, and because I'm afraid that other people can see the flaws in me that I can see in myself and that they scorn me for it.

But, you know, I'll still get up tomorrow morning. I'll still put on my skirt and those ugly brown shoes that are nonetheless comfortable and I'll wrap that blue scarf around my neck and button my slightly-too-tight coat over my bulgy self and I'll sit in church and listen to people talk and maybe even make a comment or two. If I'm feeling particularly daring. And it's even possible I'll feel the spirit. I hope so, because that's why I keep doing it.

And maybe, this week, and this next semester, maybe I can work on some of the things that have lately made me so unhappy about myself.

Maybe I can start to leave the door to my room open. Just a little bit more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Shall I post about why I haven't blogged in over a month?

Shall I write about this past semester and its joys, worries, hardships and my unaccountable desire to reread Asimov's entire Foundation series?

Shall I spend time profusely apologizing for being ineffably boring and neglectful by not providing my faithful readership with new and fascinating, periodically updated reading material?

I probably will. Soonish. But, having turned in my last assignment this morning, I believe I'm scheduled for a recovery period. Which means sleeping. Lots.