Christmas and stuff

All in all, it was a good Christmas. Mark was gone pretty much the entire month of December, a victim of year-end accounting at work. That sort of sucked, but we had our romantic rendezvous on the 23rd when I flew into San Francisco. Despite all my dread over flying at the holidays, the whole process was much more tolerable than I’d expected, thanks to a series of happy coincidences that resulted in very favorable seat assignments.

A few hours after I arrived in SF, we were on the way to Fresno to spend the holidays with his family. It wasn’t really any warmer in Fresno than it had been in Winston-Salem when I left, but it was quite a bit foggier. That made me happy.

There was Christmas Eve breakfast at the Chicken Pie Shop and random Christmas shopping before dinner at the home of the sister-in-law and family. I’m not showing pictures of our niece here, just because I think it might (understandably) creep out her mom a bit, but she’s adorable — trust me on this — and she also shared her crayons with me.

There was more food and family on Christmas day, and then we departed on the 26th for a quick one-night stand in San Mateo, where we had dinner with Dan, Jamie, and Eugene at Pancho Villa and then wandered around downtown and made the staff at Draeger’s nervous before bedding down in preparation for my really early flight the next day. The return flight, alas, was not nearly so pleasant as the westbound one had been.

The cool thing, of course, is that we got to have Christmas again when we got home: twice. The first was the traditional “fire in the basement” Christmas at home, where we gave each other our loot. For the record, I got a turntable (we’re now a two-turntable household), and lots of cool books and videos, among other things. We also got a quite wonderful vintage phone from Sister Betty and the happenin’ tiki lamp from Jamie.

And then, we got to go to Greensboro and do it all over again with my parents. Despite the picture, my mom really did have her eyes open through most of it, which we all appreciated.

Mark left this morning, and I have to take down all the decorations this afternoon. So I guess it’s over now, and it’s time for me to get back to the daily grind.

Maybe some day soon, I’ll even post pictures from the last two road trips. Right now, though, there’s a whole slew of exciting new shows on The CW and My Network TV that are just dying to be promoted online. And there’s a certain university bureaucracy that needs a cattle prod jammed up its ass. But that’s another story…


Speaking of anniversaries, my parents are having their fifty-eighth today. Which is pretty damned amazing. And it got lost in the shuffle, but Mark and I had our sixth a couple of weeks ago as well:

I love that boy. And our anniversary itself didn’t really get lost in the shuffle, only my post about it. And that’s because I haven’t yet had the chance to put up our exciting anniversary road trip pictures yet.

At the rate I’m going, it might not happen before Christmas…

Whither Yer Humble Host?

So whither yer humble host?

Despite the fact that I haven’t been all that talkative online lately, depsite all the stress a week or so back, despite the occasional sleepless night, I’m feeling happier and more satisfied with life than I have in years, thanks.

A lot of very positive things have happened to me in the past thirty months, leaving San Francisco and moving back to North Carolina being at the top of the list. Returning to a part of the country that just works better for me at this stage in my life, moving with Mark into out first house, being in close proximity to so many more road trip opportunities, eating barbecue again, and reconnecting with my family have all been great (although the latter has tried my patience from time to time).

Not everything has been so rosy, though. My job quest, and the subsequent realization that I’m not really qualified to do much that anyone wants to pay me for, have been a bit depressing, and have led to some periods of financial tension and general mental anguish. I’ve had a significant chunk of family health issues to contend with, and I’m nervous about what the future holds. The insurance nightmare from last December and January gave me fits. And then there was that whole cancer thing. That kind of sucked, too.

But I’m feeling pretty damned good about everything right now. I’ve lost all of the excess weight I’d put on since moving back east, and then some. I’m getting some exercise, if maybe not quite enough. I’m earning a reasonable amount of money now, if not as much as I should be. And I’m in school, preparing for a profession that fascinates me, and thinking that I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. That’s pretty exciting, and I sometimes get all tingly just thinking about it.

I have goals and plans for the future. I have items in my calendar, and things I need to do, and research I enjoy, and projects that fascinate me, even if they do cause me short-term stress. In short, I feel like I have a reason to get out of bed every morning. To be honest, that wasn’t always the case a year or so back.

Not everything is perfect, of course. I need to find more robust sources of income now, not two years from now. My parents continue to age, and I continue to worry about how I’ll deal with the inevitable problems that will become more and more a part of our lives because of it. I could still stand to lose a pound or fifty. But my outlook is positive, I’m making progress, and as I said above, I’m generally happier than I’ve been in a long time,a dn plan to stay that way.

At least as long as I never have to face another week where I have to face all of the following at the same time:

  • Potential hard drive failure.
  • Disappearing domains and unresponsive registars.
  • Two big class projects.
  • My dad having emergency surgery on his shoulder.
  • My mom needing yet another explanation of how to check her email and downolad photos from her camera, while having a simultaneous emotional meltodwn because of my dad’s surgery.
  • A big pile of extra, unscheduled work, half involving a new client and the other half involving major changes in a job I’ve only had for four months to begin with.

Actually, I think I’ll be OK even if I do have to face all of those at once. I’d just feel sorry for anyone who had to be round me. And glad that I had a most wonderful and supportive husband.

Art Prints and Textbooks

Check out my dad, having an 82nd birthday dance with my mom, less than two months after his hip replacement surgery.

Before meeting up with my parents, I stopped by campus to buy my textbooks. I’m not sure what shocked me more: the price of the books or the fact that everyone on the entire campus looks about thirteen years old.

It’s very odd making my third return to UNCG. Everything is so different, but small, random things are exactly the same as they were during my first two enrollments, like the tables in the student union where they sell the very same Doors and Bob Dylan posters “art prints” they’ve been selling at the beginning of each semester since about 1968, as far as I can tell.

Am I nervous about entering a classroom for the first time in sixteen years? You betcha I am.

Happy Birthday, Dad

And it’s a happy birthday to my dad, who is (in case you were wondering) recovering quite nicely from his surgery last month. He’s already ditched the walker and he’s even started driving again.

I hope I’m that resilient when I’m his age. Come to think of it, I wish I were even that resilient at my age.

In case you care, you can read an interview with me on Yahoo! Picks Profiles today. It’s a followup to when this site was a Pick of the Week back in 2001.

Mama Mia

My 76-year-old mother has recently discovered ABBA, nearly thirty years after most of the world did, and she’s become a little obsessed with them. I find this absolutely adorable, and I apologize if that sounds condescending. It’s not meant that way.

It’s a testament to the power of iTunes, I guess. I put one or two ABBA songs on her new Mac Mini several months ago. I have my suspicions that she initially latched onto the Swedish superstars because she didn’t know how to sort any way other than alphabetically (the default), nor had she quite clued into the whole “party shuffle” thing. Thus, they’ve always been at the top of the page whenever she opened the program, sort of like AAAAA-1 Plumbing in the Yellow Pages.

My mom actually bought ABBA – Gold. At full price. She usually shops in the $1.99 CD bin, and winds up with things like the Flamenco guitar version of the entire Burt Bacharach catalogue.

Today at lunch, a Blondie song came on. She asked if it was ABBA. I told her it wasn’t, and then wondered for a moment how a Blondie compilation might change her life. Blondie starts with a “b”, so it would be pretty easy for her to find in iTunes, right?

Either way, I think it’s just about time for her to see The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Or maybe just Mamma Mia.

Mmmm. Squash.

In the spirit of historical revisionism, I’ve added some photos to this post. It may be the only chance you’ll ever have to see me in a suit.

On a completely unrealated note, who’d have thought that two little squash plants could produce so much offspring for so incredibly long. Squash jam, anyone? Squash casserole? Squash stew?

For those who have asked, the answer is no. Things haven’t really calmed down all that much, although I’m almost to the point of only driving to Greenboro every other day now, and I haven’t been to Reidsville since Saturday.

A Long Week

It’s been a really long week.

Last Wednesday, my dad went into the hospital for hip replacement surgery. It was pretty major surgery to begin with, despite the fact that doctors tend to minimize it these days. But just to make it a little more difficult on my dad (and the whole family), his brother had been taken to the emergency room the day before with an apparent stroke, and had yet to regain consciousness when my dad went under the knife.

The surgery went fine, with no real complications, although my dad was in really intense pain afterward. My mom was convinced that Mark and I would be OK to leave Friday on our planned weekend trip to celebrate his thirtieth birthday.

The came Friday morning. We were almost packed and were starting to take things down to the car when my cousin called with the news that my uncle had died at 7:30 that morning. Since my uncle’s wife had died in 1982 and they’d never had any children, my cousin and I had shared his power of attorney since his first stroke in January, although she’d ended up doing most of the work. My uncle had spent much of the past six months in and out of hospitals and nursing homes, but he’d finally been able to go home before this last episode, which is a good thing.

I loved my uncle. I’d be lying if I said we were really close and had a lot in common, but he was a good man and I knew he always cared about me. Family was everything to him. And he had a sense of humor that I always appreciated.

Needless to say, we canceled the trip. I spent Friday delivering the news to my parents and hoping it wouldn’t affect my dad’s recovery. I liked it better when they were the ones who delivered bad news to me, by the way. Later that day, I participated in funeral planning and coffin selection for the first time, which is a story in itself. What a quick and efficient way to waste thousands and thousands of dollars. But I digress.

Poor Mark spent his birthday weekend not on vacation, as he very much needed to after a very stressful patch of his own, but as a participant (and even a pall bearer) in funeral services for a man he barely knew. I felt really bad for him and I can’t say quite how much I love him for all his help. We did manage to have a bit of a birthday celebration Saturday night after the family visitation at the funeral home.

The funeral was on Sunday, and was OK, if a little too immersed in holy water for me. The dicsussions about the will started shortly after the post-interment fried chicken. I’m not sure if I have the stomach for that whole process, even though I know I’ll be very much involved. Afterward, I realized that, since I’d been driving back and forth to both Greensboro (30 miles away) and to Reidsville (50 miles away) at least once each day since Friday, that I pretty much had taken the equivalent of a rather siginificant road trip this weekend. I just hadn’t gotten anywhere particularly entertaining.

And then on Monday morning, the hospital called to give us three hours notice that my dad (who could barely walk) was being discharged. I can’t tell you how much we appreciated all that notice, really. So Monday was spent waiting for paperwork to be filed and finding a rehab facility for my dad. It was all pretty familiar, as we’d done the same for my uncle six months before (on similarly short notice).

Yesterday, I was finally able to catch up a little on work, household stuff, etc. before driving over to visit my dad at the rehab facility. We’re avoiding the term “nursing home”, thanks. Mark, sensing my dismay at not having been anywhere but hospitals, nusring homes, and funeral parlors for six days or so took me to dinner at one of our favorite pizza joints in High Point.

Today, we have company coming for lunch (very late, as it turns out). Tomorrow, I start a new part-time job, where I may have to be on Friday as well. On Saturday, I’m supposed to meet with my cousin for the first round of talks about my uncle’s estate. Several more visits to my dad in Greensboro will be interspersed as well.

On Sunday, I plan to do nothing and have no human contact whatsoever except with Mark. Sunday will be nice.


So I apparently accidentally uploaded an unfinished journal entry a day or so back, with broken image links and all, and never quite caught it until today. The really sad thing is that no one seems to have noticed either. Oh well.

Sorry for the disappearing act of late: family drama and stuff, y’know? Back soon…