Memories

My cousin and I were talking tonight about old, old memories in our lives.

Growing up, I had a situation that was incredibly unique at the time (and that still is a bit unique nowadays), in which my parents each had children from a previous spouse, only had me together, married when I was three, and divorced one another when I was four.

My siblings on my mom’s side not only lived in the same neighborhood as I did, but my mom and I were regularly at their dad’s house, spending time with them and, even, their dad, who was my mom’s first husband, but with whom my mom was no longer involved in such a relationship.

My siblings on my dad’s side moved to Georgia (until they kind of moved back, off and on, one by one, starting when I was about nine), and so were only around for certain holidays and for what I guess to have been about a month each summer.

My cousin pointed out that she remembered being often at the place my mom and I lived for many years together after she split up from my dad, the one that was in the neighborhood with my brothers and their dad.

I, too, recalled that they often were there visiting us, and we often were at their house (two hours away, by the way) visiting them.

She then presented the interesting and confounding concept of accepting the idea of someone seeing one’s cousins more often than seeing one’s own siblings…, because that’s really how it was in the first decade and a half of my life, so far as my mom’s sister’s children and my dad’s children were concerned.

I have many more memories from earlier childhood with those cousins than I do with my siblings on my dad’s side.

Certainly, I saw my brothers from my mom all the time, almost daily…, but my cousins were, as I can pull up old school activities and projects to show, some of my favorite people in the world, and they were often on my mind, because I saw them often…, such was not the case with my siblings on my dad’s side.

Sure, I cared about them, and I had spectacular memories from the brief time we all spent in the same house when my parents were married to one another, but I really think we could say that I had more a relationship with and attitude towards them that people have with cousins, rather than one with siblings.

So, my half brothers were like my brothers, my cousins were like my half siblings, and my other half siblings were like my cousins… relationship- and attitude-wise, anyway.

Kind of crazy, huh?

I hadn’t really ever thought much about it, because, as my cousin also pointed out tonight, it can be amazing what kinds of things we just accept as children, not concerned in the least about whether they are uncommon or absurd.

I guess the absurdity doesn’t surprise me, of course, because, well, even now, absurd is normal in my life, as this same cousin so graciously pointed out to me a few years ago. 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Advertisements

Christmas presents

I kind of gave up on Christmas presents over the past handful or so of years.

You see, Christmas is about the story of Jesus the Christ, not about giving a present to everyone we’re ‘supposed’ to like and be related to… and I feel wrong pulling a holiday so far away from its foundation.

Plus, this whole consumerism thing has really gone a bit out of whack in recent years, and it might just make me sick, if I were to think about how much waste is caused, first) in terms of physical items, and then, second) in terms of mental effort.

We work so hard to give gifts to people, and we usually fail at bringing them the joy we were hoping to share with them – we want them to feel our love, but why must our love be so shallow and know them so poorly that we gift them ‘crap’ they never really liked and now feel obligated to use?

So, my goal has been to find ways to share my love with the world instead… I’m not so sure I’ve done a great job of achieving that goal, but I’ve been working on it.

Plus, for gift-giving, I do that normally in life – when there is a gift I want to give to someone, I do my best to make that happen, whenever it arises… I don’t wait ten more months for the excuse of Christmas.

Someone once told me that I must be an awesome friend, because I gave him a book and out of nowhere, shortly after we’d really met – just because our conversation had led me to believe he would really love reading the book.

I kind of shrugged it off at the time, I think, but I’ve come to see how valuable that is nowadays, where people do often give because they feel obligated to give, and not because there is something they truly want to share with the individual.

Anyway, the whole reason I brought all of this up, is because I was given a check this evening, as a Christmas present.

I had already said that I didn’t need it – separately to both parties involved – and that I didn’t expect anything to be given to me – and I’ve said the latter for years, more or less – … and yet the check was given me in double the amount from years past.

It made me want to cry with frustration as I examined the check (and I did actually tear up from that a bit)… I didn’t know what to do about it.

After a quick but genuine text chat with my brother, I mentally accepted the money, finally able to see that this was their way of showing that they cared about me.

Plus, it gives me an opportunity to do something great with the money that they likely never would have done with it – it doesn’t have to become just plain groceries for me alone… it is, instead, an opportunity for good.

I was hesitant to reject the money, because I didn’t want to leave them feeling rejected by me, nor did it make any sense whatsoever to pass up money being given rather freely to me at the present point in my life (remember the grad school and total uncertainty situation).

And yet, I felt utterly pathetic for having been given money in the first place – like sad charity, is how it felt for me.

But it worked out, thanks to my brother’s wonderful alternative approach:

Hannah, you should accept the gifts people give you. They want you to have them

Be grateful you have people in your life that have those resources

Use the money for something good, be empowered by it. Don’t pity yourself, instead, make its value exponential

Also, consider how much more good you can do with that money vs what they’d do with it. A transfer of wealth is much more than a gift

And I can see that now the way he saw it.

The funny part about it is that I had said that I felt similarly about a gift he, my brother, had just given me, too.

I had known that my view was not so good nor healthy, and I was glad to have a new way to see it all, as well as something beautiful to go do with these gifts given to me.

Post-a-day 2018

My brother’s birthday

Today was the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.

Today also was my brother’s birthday.

It was wonderful – I got to devote almost my entire day to delighting, empowering, and loving someone else, and it happened to be someone who openly appreciated it all and who truly experienced the love from all of us around him.

I’m not so sure there is much of a better feeling to be had than that…

Perhaps this could be something I organize doing more often, and not merely for special occasions… it is just so wonderful.

Post-a-day 2018

What happened today

I got out of bed at 3:45am, and met my friend outside at about 4:10am to drive to the airport.

I flew in an airplane to Chicago, where I met my cousins and then drove to Wisconsin.

We met with my brother and his friend at Devil’s Lake, and then hiked about six miles together around the lake.

We admired willingly the spectacular and deep-breathing-inspiring colors of the Fall, and awed at a Bald Eagle who flew over the lake for a bit.

We checked into our joined suite rooms, and then dunes down the street at an all-you-can-eat Mongolian stir-fry place, each eating more than we’d intended.

We gathered in the joined living area of the suite rooms, sipped digestifs, chatted about nonsense, played ukulele, practiced/learned some yoga and some acro-yoga, talked about nerd stuff, joked about my brother’s classmates back in college who argued about some terms in calculus, cracked up when my cousins began to argue about those terms in calculus, and consciously enjoyed our collective company.

I chatted more with my brother as he prepared for bed and I, unknowingly, was locked out of my room.

We laughed, and, eventually, I gained access back into my room with my cousins.

My cousin and I listened to voicemails from our grandparents, filled with wholesome delight.

I took the first good shower I’ve had in months (since the one where I’m living has been quite the nonsensical mess since I moved in there), and reminisced about Japanese onsen while I untangled a crazy knot in my extremely long hair.

I earned another badge in my Fitbit, because I walked over 22,000 steps today.

I stayed awake and in a good mood for over 19 hours.

I breathed easily almost the entire day, for the first time in a long while (it has felt, anyway).

I was myself, and so were the others, and we were spectacular.

I and we did good today, both grammatically correctly and incorrectly. 😉

Post-a-day 2018

My oldest brother, the eldest nerd of us

Another of my most beloved memories is the time my eldest brother and I went through the top ten logical fallacies together.  He’s a total skeptic – not just in life in general, but he actually identifies as “a skeptic” – and we’re both total nerds, so, out of some conversation one day came the discussion of what a logical fallacy was.  Utterly intrigued at how he explained them, I wanted to know more than just an example or two.  And so, we printed out a list of the top ten most common logical fallacies people use in arguments, each with a brief description with the name of it, and he and I went through the list, one by one.

I would read the name of the fallacy and the brief description, and then I would see if I could come up with another way of saying it and with an example.  He would help me whenever I was unsure or stuck in my understanding.  It was a fun activity for the two of us, he getting to be the teacher of something he loved and I getting to learn something I found fascinating, and both of us getting to bond further with the other, not just in spending time with one another, but also getting to be nerdy together.

What I find most silly about this was that, as I recall, this was around my brother’s second or third year in college.  That’s silly, you see, because that made me 12 or 13 years old.  What 13-year-old do you know who references logical fallacies in the middle of discussions, kindly informing the user of the fallacy that his or her point was, due to the use of the fallacy, invalid?  Indeed, I don’t know any children at all who do that, and I teach high school.  However, I believe that also was right around the time that I started reading a book on quantum physics (because I found what I had learned about it in a documentary to be fascinating, and so I’d bought one of the most popular books by one of the speakers in the documentary [whose name and book title I’d had to memorize carefully when I saw them at the end of the film, because the Internet wasn’t quite a thing yet then, let alone IMDb]).

So, to this day, I still love nerding out with my brother (though it happens with more family members than just with him, he’s the point of this brief trip down Memory Lane). I’m preparing to go visit him in just a few weeks, and I’m looking forward especially just to sitting around and hanging out with him, because the enthusiasm and excitement that arises in our conversations is always spectacular.  Nonsense shared is never just a nonsense with us – something nerdy and smart inevitably arises from the stupidest and silliest of comments, making the nonsense oddly sensible and, usually, quite comical in the utter dorki-/nerdiness of it.

Post-a-day 2018

CrossFit Games

I don’t even do CrossFit, but I watched the end of the 2018 CrossFit Games today, because my brother was super excited about it, and he attended it all weekend in Madison, Wisconsin.  Not even four minutes into it, I was balling.  And, from that point onward, I continued having bouts of extreme tears all over the place until the very end of the Games.  It’s just that kind of thing.  I’ve done and been part of plenty of sports to be able to relate to so many of the feelings and situations and emotions, that I felt as though I could feel their struggles and successes.  Add the comments about how the whole goal of doing CrossFit is to be better as a person than one was yesterday, and it’s just a total tear fest.

I’m still not sure that I want to do CrossFit myself, but it was really neat to watch the nonsense that was the final round of the 2018 CrossFit Games.

Post-a-day 2018

Middle School Men

I used to fake a friend’s name in middle school.  I did.  To clarify, I faked his name in writing.  I didn’t know how it was spelled, and I never worked up a way to find out (and to remember) how to write it.

Traditionally, I always wrote people’s names clearly.  Sure, my handwriting was sloppy and small and almost always in cursive.  However, I took the time to write people’s names, oftentimes in print, and much better than my standard note-taking, squinty script.  So, when it came to this one friend’s name, I faked a sloppiness that was not my own.

See, regularly, when he wrote his own name, he connected the last two letters together somewhat, making it unclear as to whether it was a hurried -an or -on at the end of his name.  It was a somewhat irregular name, and so I had no basis for comparison.  Plus, the pronunciation didn’t help – there were plenty of foreign-like names that had an -an sound like a US English -on.  (Take Han Solo for example.)  To top it off, the first note he gave me, whenever he signed his name, I couldn’t tell which way his name was spelled.  And, since I saw it that way first, that was what stuck.

I had heard how people spelled his name wrong all the time, and I had seen it spelled by others both ways.  I was not about to make that same mistake.  Therefore, I just threw in a stab of – and I say stab casually, but it truly was painful for me – sloppiness whenever I wrote his name in particular, and no one ever had to find out.

(Until now, of course, but that is beside the point.  These sorts of things mattered among young people learning to become friends in middle school.)

It was kind of funny, really, remembering all of this tonight.  It all came to me, because of something similar about slightly illegible writing, but, because it was from middle school, I ended up with the song “sk8r boi” by Avril Lavigne in my head (a middle school hit).  As I thought about the song, I happened to notice how my middle school was somewhat the reverse of the “sk8r boi” scenario.  The nerd-esque boy in the ever-present UT jacket that seemed to conceal any shirt he ever wore – oops… I digress – now, he seemed to want me (and everyone knew it).  I semi-wanted him, but I declined because he was not the cool kid, so to speak; he didn’t have the skater boy edge to go along with his book brains.  (I didn’t actually like the skater boys at my school either, but my brothers roller skated and skate boarded a little, and their general coolness was my standard for what was needed in a desirable guy [and still is], in addition to brains.)

I somewhat cared about what all my friends thought about him, but that totally wasn’t my reasoning.  I just didn’t actually have a crush on the guy.  We were classmates, and I had a blast going back and forth in contest with him over having the highest grade in class (math class for sure, I remember).  But he didn’t have what I desired – he was just a half package, so to speak, not the whole thing.  Come to think of it, that’s how I’ve felt about most any guy I’ve known.  Perhaps that’s part of why I’ve never really been in any kind of dating relationship – I’m only looking for the whole package.  Anything less is fine for a friend or acquaintance, but not for dating.

huh… not quite where I expected this thought line to go tonight… 😛

Post-a-day 2018