Hello, everyone. Welcome to 2014. Happy New Year, and all that. i intend to be better about keeping this blog updated this year (and, to be fair, i did have NaNoWriMo shoved right up against the holidays, but still…). One of my Futile New Year’s Gestures (why bother calling it a Resolution when you already know you’re going to fail?) is “promising” myself to get something written on this blog at least once a week. We’ll see how that goes, but i do intend to make an effort. But now is the time for two months’ worth of news.
The big story from November is that i succeeded in making the 50,000 word goal for National Novel Writing Month! In fact, i exceeded the goal by 1,020 words before November, and i still technically haven’t finished wrapping up the story. It doesn’t have too much steam left in it, but i think i may be able to get another four or five thousand words out of it. The trick will be finding time to get back to it now that i’ve had to set it aside for the holidays. Still, that brings me to another Futile New Year’s Gesture that i will be trying to make happen, and that is to write something that isn’t related to work or class every day, even if it’s just one or two sentences. Because if i can keep myself in at least moderately good shape, this year’s NaNoWriMo will go that much more smoothly.
The holidays…. oh, the holidays… Thanksgiving was actually kind of cool. My parents and i flew to Florida to visit a number of relatives on my dad’s side of the family, some of whom i hadn’t seen in at least 20 years. It was pretty cool getting to hang out as adults with cousins who i’ve only ever really known from a child’s perspective. And we had some damned good food, too. To begin with, the Thanksgiving meal itself was excellent. For pretty much my entire life, my parents have always hosted Thanksgiving for a few family members who made the trip out, so this year was an opportunity to taste a few dishes that were different from the things i’ve grown up with. The highlight, i think, was a Mediterranean 7-layer dip that included hummus, feta cheese, and kalamata olives as layers. The next morning we had brunch at a place that did creative twists on Eggs Benedict. i had a “Benedict Cubano,” which involved chorizo instead of Canadian bacon, and it was delicious. The night before we left Florida, we ate at a British pub in St. Petersburg called The Moon Under Water, and i had one of the best, and certainly the spiciest, Lamb Vindaloos i have ever tasted. It was a great food trip… and the family time was pretty cool, too. Karaoke was involved. They actually got me to sing. My dad’s side of the family is a lot cooler and more laid-back than my mom’s side of the family, but i’m getting ahead of myself.
So, yeah, December, December, blah blah blah, nothing much to report. School let out for Winter Break, and then… my sister arrived in from Boston.
i love my sister. She can be a lot of fun, and we have isolated moments where it feels like we’re actually very close. But she has embraced my parents’ (well, my mother’s) puritanical views on sexuality and other such issues. She’s liberal about the actual issues… she thinks people should have the right to do what they want with consenting adults. She just doesn’t want to hear about or see it (even kissing), and comes off very judgmental about it when it is less generalized and nebulous. So i can’t be as close to her as i’d like. i still have to hold her at arm’s length on many things, just like i do with my parents. Which is really kind of sad, when you think about it. Early adulthood is reportedly when you’re supposed to start getting along with your siblings again and really create a strong familial bond. It’s just not happening between us, and i’m not really sure how it could without her making a huge 180 on a lot of things.
Then there’s the atmosphere in the larger family when she comes home… i don’t know if i’ve mentioned it on here before, but my sister is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in virology at a major Ivy League university (hint: it start’s with an “H” and ends with an “arvard.”) She’s not paying a cent out-of-pocket, and they are in fact paying her a stipend to cover living expenses and such. Meanwhile, i’m working on a Master’s Degree at an okay state school that i need just to get my foot in the door of my career, and i’m struggling to pay for it all on my own making the small salary that i do. She has arisen very handily to the lofty height of most-favored child, and it’s so completely obvious without anyone having to say anything that you would practically expect my parents (my mother, especially) to bow down and kiss the ground she walks upon as she passes. She literally can do no wrong in my parents’ eyes. She was being a smartass while we were playing a game this past week. i turned around and gave it right back no more extremely than she did, and i got yelled at. i constantly feel the weight of comparison, even when she’s not at home, but it intensifies when she is. It’s almost like my parents see in her what i could have been–what i should have been–in their eyes, if only i could be more “grown up and responsible,” and if only i hadn’t gone into a “soft” field like the Humanities. It’s not my sister’s fault that she is succeeding so resoundingly, and i try not to hold it against her. i am, in fact, extremely proud of her achievements now, and the ones that are sure to follow, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow being the Faramir to her Boromir, and it’s almost like she doesn’t even notice the preferential treatment she is afforded, and sometimes i wonder if that blindness is willful.
In any event, we did the big trip to Michigan again this year, off to visit my mom’s side of the family (the aforementioned uptight and stress-producing bunch that i promised to get back to). It’s about a 15-hour one way drive to get there, which i got to spend with my parents and my sister, but i slept most of the way, so that made it less stressful. i did have the “pleasure” of enduring fat shaming from my mother (yet again) when we stopped for dinner on the way up and i didn’t order the “right” food item. Wonderful. The time spent with her family was mercifully short-lived, and i got to spend most of it hanging out with my cousin on that side, who has picked up some of the family psychosis, but is intelligent and self-aware enough to think for himself about things. The entire trip took about 4 days, with an overnight stop included on the way back. We also stopped at three microbreweries on the way back: Founders in Grand Rapids, MI; Bell’s in Kalamazoo, MI; and Square 1 in St. Louis. So it was actually one of the better Michigan trips we’ve had in a while.
After we got home, my sister stuck around another few days, leaving on the 31st to go spend New Year’s Eve in Boston with her boyfriend. i managed to finally get away from my family for New Years, going to Waxy O’Shea’s, and spending about half the night depressed and feeling alone in a huge crowd of people. So that was lovely, wasn’t it?
But now it’s 2014, and as much as the cynical depressed voice in my head says it’s not going to be any better, i would like to at least try to make it so. We’ll see…