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. ūüėõ

Post-a-day 2019

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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

Towels and Conversations

In my first year of college, whenever I’d have an evening shower, I usually would end up down the hall afterward. ¬†The social and clearly labeled “extrovert” end of the hall was always booming when the girls were in, and I always would go down to check in when I heard the chatter. ¬†(I had been assigned the introvert end of the hallway, and, somewhat ironically, I was the only one in the hallway who knew everyone else. ¬†I just like to get to know the people around me, and so college was no exception to that.) ¬†This meant that, come evening time on weekdays, I would spend some portion of the time down the hall, socializing, so to speak.

And, as mentioned, this included the time immediately following my evening showers.  And so, I would be hanging out down the hall, hair wrapped in one towel and body in another, both holding tightly, as though sewn into place.  Totally normal for me.

One night, one of the most outgoing girls asked me about how on Earth I can be so comfortable in just a towel… Wasn’t I worried it would fall off?… Or that I was naked underneath??? ¬†No, not at all, I told her. ¬†And I explained why I wasn’t. ¬†First, we were all girls, so I saw no issue anyway (though I had no intention of anyone seeing anything under the towel). ¬†Secondly, I grew up with older sisters who had seemed to spend a third of their time at home (when in college) walking around in a towel or two, and so it was very normal for me. ¬†And, from a very young age, I had learned their tricks of how to make the towel stay in place, and, naturally, I had mastered it by college. ¬†So, it never seemed dangerous for me to be hanging out down the hall ¬†– this was after the curfew when boys had already been kicked out, mind you – in a towel. ¬†It was like hanging out in almost any other clothing.

She had trouble believing that the towel was stuck, and so I even did a little shaking around to show how it wouldn’t fall off. ¬†Nevertheless, she still was terrified of ever doing such a thing herself, and I was amazed that this towel tying trick wasn’t common knowledge or part of common use. ¬†I think I even showed them right then and there how I tied the towel (without opening it, of course). ¬†These were the girls who talked about just about everything with one another, quite openly, and yet they were somehow terrified at the thought of showing their bodies to one another. ¬†I still have a certain shyness about my body, but, in certain contexts, it’s very¬†so what to me. ¬†Like in¬†onsen, the Japanese hot baths, it is absolutely no big deal to show my body and to see other women’s bodies. ¬†And in theatre, for costume changes, it happens sometimes…¬†oh, well… it’s no issue. ¬†It just happens.

To this day – last time was Friday evening – I still walk around in my towel and chat comfortably with people after I shower. ¬†My high school ‘big sister’ was known for always saying, in response to a compliment about her clothing, “I’m naked under this.” ¬†The initial shock always wore away when, after a few moments of consideration, the listener realized that we¬†all were naked underneath whatever outfit we were wearing – that’s kind of how it works when you put something on in the first place. ¬†For me, there is little difference between clothing and a towel. ¬†Plenty of people regularly don’t wear underwear, and men don’t wear bras, so we’re just as naked under a towel as we are under most clothing. ¬†(It’s just what in our minds that messes with us and makes us uncomfortable.) ¬†That’s why, even when I’d shower in college, and a guy would be in the hallway when I was heading back to my room in just a towel, I was unconcerned. ¬†I’d even talk with them, if I knew them. ¬†It seems that, if they were concerned about talking with me, they could always excuse themselves and leave. ¬†That’s what my friends and I would do if we had an issue with a guy in only a towel. ¬†(But that really isn’t much of an issue to me, mostly too due to my upbringing with older siblings.)

(I somehow feel harsh or demanding with all of that…, but I didn’t mean to be; not in the least. ¬†People can always do as they prefer – I’m just sharing why I am so comfortable in such a silly situation, and why I see it a totally normal, despite its being totally awkward for plenty of people. ¬†I mean, my ukulele teacher is someone I met when we both were bathing in an onsen, naked, of course.) ūüėõ

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. ūüėČ

Post-a-day 2018

Work your nerd

I found out today that my brother had felt unease about his nerdy knowledge on various topics. ¬†Quite frankly, I had always admired him for said nerdiness. ¬†Whenever he was interested in a topic, he’d do what he could to learn as much as possible in a short period of time. ¬†And then, if it was something that he really enjoyed, how continued to learn about it in the years that followed, becoming ever more the genius on the topic. ¬†Possibly the best part of it to me was that these often were topics that had almost nothing to do with his work or schooling – it was purely things that interested him. ¬†Nowadays, he is still the same about it all, though he definitely has certain topics on which he could be considered an expert after so many years and hours of study and work dedicated to them.

I guess, growing up, I just didn’t know his world of friends and classmates and, eventually, colleagues, because I was so much younger than he was. ¬†I had no idea that¬†they didn’t know about his nerdy areas in his life, too. ¬†They apparently only knew about his cool, chic, sporty side (from what I understand now). ¬†He, it seems, was afraid of being rejected for his knowledge and studies. ¬†Now, though, he has begun to embrace his nerdiness, and publicly so (think social media, etc.), and he has been discovering how much respect exactly that aspect of him; especially since he is cool, chic, and sporty, but loves knowledge and nerding out over certain things. ¬†He is discovering that he had no need to be insecure about his interests and knowledge. ¬†Plus, despite the fact that the public has been responding really well to his nerd side’s being exposed, he already knew that it doesn’t really matter what other people think of him anyway – that’s their own business, not his. ¬†What matters is what¬†he thinks about himself. ¬†If he is happy with who he is, then there is no reason not to express that in his life. ¬†So, he started finally expressing himself, nerdiness included. ¬†Now that he has been doing that, he has also found that people are grateful to him for sharing himself and his passions with the world. ¬†Super duper win-win, I say. ¬†And I am proud of him doubly, for keeping up the nerdy knowledge, and now for sharing it with the world. ¬†ūüôā

Post-a-day 2018

How do You shave?

One of my favorite memories from my childhood is the time my brother, sister, and I bonded over shaving legs in the living room. ¬†You see, our dad’s house used to be a duplex, and so the upstairs and downstairs had the same floorpan, giving the girls – the upstairs lots – our very own living room. ¬†It was normal circumstances for us girls and maybe a girlfriend of one of theirs to hang out on lazy afternoons and evenings there. ¬†Occasionally, our bother would join us. ¬†On one particular night, my eldest sister had decided to allow me to shave her legs for her, while we watched some television show. ¬†I was around eight or ten years old.

In my panic of doing it, worried that I would slice open her leg or something, my brother joined in on the adventure, to show that it was definitely doable by me, since he had never shaved legs, but¬†he was able to do it safely. ¬†And so, he shaved her left leg, and I shaved her right, while she lay on the rug in the living room. ¬†Such beautiful sibling bonding time. ¬†ūüėõ

Post-a-day 2018

Church, bras, and tangled hair

I was discussing with a co-worker this evening a church that my family attended when I was a baby, and it brought to mind the last time I attended Mass there.  We had moved elsewhere for church when I was still quite little, but occasionally still went to Mass there for a while.  Eventually, though, we had stopped altogether going there, and always went to one of two other nearby churches.  Therefore, it is easy for me to remember the last time I attended Mass at this particular church, because it was a singular event, with no other occurrences within years of its happening.

My youngest brother and I were tasked with going to church together on our own.  He was probably 16 or so, making me 12 at the time.  I remember how we were hanging out at home, and how he was playing games on the still-new PS2.  And I eventually finished getting dressed at the last minute, and we rushed off to Mass.

We ended up having the Mass time incorrect, so we weren’t just a little bit late to Mass. ¬†But we stayed, anyway, and attended what little was left of it once we arrived. ¬†When we arrived back home, a very unique experience happened, and one which I feel shows how loving we are, my brothers and I. ¬†I had worn this top that went on like a tube top – yes, there were sleeves of some sort, or else a sweater that I wore over it, but it went on like a tube top. ¬†However, it wasn’t the usual stretchy material of tube tops, but rather a somewhat set-size material with elastic around the top piece to help it stay in place. ¬†(I’m almost certain that it had wide-ish straps, but nothing like actual sleeves to it. ¬†I remember specifically that I had to wear a strapless bra with it, because of the strap situation, but that is all of which I am certain about the straps – strapless bra required.)

When I went to remove my top, changing out of the nicer clothes and into comfy, regular clothes, I got myself stuck. ¬†You know the feeling… pulling it upward first, and, at the pivotal point, feeling the fabric stop sliding and suddenly hold tightly to the width of your currently-expanded shoulder blades… and being incapable of pulling the top back down, because your arms are now stuck up in the air, because the fabric really just doesn’t give almost at all.

So, what could I do but get help?  I remember having the slight concern of going to my brother for help, because he would see my bra! my thoughts shouted in whispered tones.  It took almost no time to accept the social standard as just that, and then to let it go.  I was beginning to panic at being stuck, when I was walking back out into the living room for help from my brother.  He easily stopped immediately what he was doing, and came to the rescue.  I think it might have actually taken us a good bit of effort to free me, but we eventually succeeded, and I was grateful for his help.

And, what is amazing about this, really, is that neither of us was uncomfortable with the situation.  Sure, it was an odd situation РI was already at the point of having been able to dress myself alone successfully for years.  But it was still easy for us both, because of our love and care for one another.

 

As another brief anecdote, I remember a time my oldest brother was babysitting me, and I went to use my mom’s rounded brush, typically used for curling hair while blowdrying, to brush my hair. ¬†I did it in a sort of hurry, and somehow twisted the brush while it still had my hair running through it (I had long hair at the time), and began brushing a new spot on my head… ultimately knotting a big chunk of my hair into the brush.

My brother was able to reach my mom on the phone, and she said to check with the neighbors, because the mother there might be able to help unknot my hair. ¬†A good, long while later, the neighbor was convinced that my hair had to be cut, in order to remove the brush. ¬†I remember my mom’s voice on the phone declaring, “Do¬†not cut her hair,” to my brother. ¬†I think it took over an hour, possibly longer, and I don’t remember who finally did it (though my brother, the neighbor, and I all worked on it at times, and my mom might even have had to finish it up when she got home later), but my hair eventually was freed. ¬†And I was concerned about ever using that kind of brush in my hair again.

Obviously.

You know, I think those were the worst that ever really happened when my brothers were in charge of babysitting… not bad, I think. ¬†ūüôā

Post-a-day 2017