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By request.

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

My friend, Suzanne, wanted me to write a poem about how giant Christmas lawn ornaments can make us feel sad:

The snowman deflates.

On ice, the polar bear drifts.

Next: Easter bunnies!

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Categories: Friends, holidays, poetry

Teach me to relax.

December 27, 2011 4 comments

This week marks the second week of my winter break. Next Tuesday, I’ll return to my internship. The following Wednesday, I start my last semester of classes. After that, I will have earned my Master’s in Social Work and full-time employment awaits (fingers crossed). That means this week should be a chance for me to breathe easy and collect myself in preparation for the stress, panic, and chaos that will inevitably sneak up on me during the next three and half months. Sounds OK, right?

Last week, I was perfectly happy with this arrangement. I finally cleaned up my apartment and went to the supermarket. I ran. I read. I wrote. I trained. I even socialized. On Saturday night, I went to my dad’s and planned on staying the next day for Christmas. I thought I was going to go home Monday morning. I’m still at my dad’s.

I don’t know why.

Yesterday started out the same as last week. I’m really good at occupying my time. I read and wrote. I signed up for an LSW licensing exam prep course. I applied to a summer study abroad program. Up until about 4:30 PM, I felt like I was striking a good balance between enjoying my time and keeping focused on the future. I planned on going to judo. I really did. At first, it was not even a question. However, having all day to think about whatever I wanted to think about instead of the social worky things that preoccupy me during the semester, I started to have some irrational fears.

My grandmom is not doing so great, and her condition is such that she’s not going to make significant improvements in her health. So yesterday, I’m looking at my dad making phone calls to her nursing facility to check in and all I could I think about is that one day, it will be me on the phone with my dad’s medical team trying to figure out what’s best for him. Which led to me to think about how many good years I might have left with my dad. Which made me think I should spend more time with him. Which made me question if I should go to judo. If I went to judo, was I choosing judo over my family? What kind of person does that make me if I chose judo, which I’m not even good at, over my family? And lastly, what the hell is wrong with me that my brain would equate going to judo with not caring about my family? By the time I realized what a nutball I was being, the window for me to make it practice slammed shut. Great.

Did I enjoy hanging out with my dad? Yes. The thing is, though, is that my dad would have been totally cool with me leaving for practice and to return to my regular life. He trained for a billion years. He knows how it is. I think my problem is that too much time for myself is not a good thing. I thrive on the challenge of deadline and meeting one goal after another, no matter how big or small. Being still never feels right.

During a break, if I don’t give myself enough structure, I start to question pretty much everything about who I am and what I’m doing with my life. I find myself wishing I was one of those people who could be truly content with small bouts of laziness, but laziness brings me panic. As last night demonstrates, laziness come with a whole spider web of crazy, unproductive thoughts as well.

Here I sit, once again, wondering where the balance lies.

Christmas can be OK.

December 25, 2011 7 comments

For a long time, Christmas sucked for my family. My brother was killed by a drunk driver on December 19, 1998. With the chaos of his funeral and talking non-stop with police and lawyers, I don’t think my parents and I would have even acknowledged Christmas if the police hadn’t come to our house with a decorated tree. I remember being so touched by the gesture, but also feeling like the tree was painful to look at.

Since my mother was Jewish and my dad is a disillusioned Catholic, Christmas became less important in my house as my brother and I got older. After Scott died though, the holiday season evolved into an unbearable time of year for my parents. Instead of celebrating together, my parents would go to some tiny Caribbean country and I would return home from college to have a quiet day at my grandmom’s with my uncle and his family. Throughout college, I didn’t even know why I left UMass to come home at all.

Then in the spring of 2006, my mom died. Months later when Christmas rolled around, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was living in Georgia with my ex-boyfriend at the time and after a 13+ hour drive, we got to my dad’s and I was surprised to find that he got a tree. He bought all new decorations. He put on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass at full volume and we decorated the tree. In that moment, I felt like my dad decided that we were going to keep going no matter what.

After that year, Christmas was OK. My dad found someone new and slowly her family and our family started to spend time together. This year, I spent eight hours with my dad and his girlfriend’s family, eating too much, sitting by the fire, getting slobbered on by dogs, making dumb jokes, and checking out different kinds of arm locks on YouTube. I’d forgotten what it felt like to spend a whole day feeling so relaxed and comfortable, knowing as the day unfolded that today will end up being one of my favorite memories.

Categories: Family, holidays, Life, love

Priorities

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

For some, the holidays are a time for families to take pause and reconnect with the people they care about through the comfort of tradition. This year for Christmas, Mr. Latimer and I will share in a Christmas brunch with his girlfriend and her family at the Latimer family home. I told my dad I would come over on Christmas Eve so that I could be there early the next morning to help get things ready. He said, “OK, sure. Whatever.” I said I’d come over Christmas Eve between four and five o’clock, to which he responded, “OK, sure. Whatever.”

Then this afternoon, Mr. Latimer sent me this text:

“Eagles game 4pm Sat on tv. If u need a ride it must b b4 then. XO”

When I was growing up, Eagles games were a special time when my dad would ignore everything else and scream at the television for three hours. I’m glad to know that Mr. Latimer and I will be sticking to our family tradition during this festive time of year.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: conversations, Family, holidays