Monday, December 29, 2008

In Which I Sarah Vowell My Way Through Reconciliation

Any post following or during a trip home, as some or all of you may know either from reading this blog or from blogs past, is likely to be full of condemnations of or reflections on my home life and the people who form the largest chunk of my West Haven experience. Certainly, with good reason. Its normal to not enjoy the idea of being home for an extended period. Generations of early Americans set forth westward, or outwards from their original settlements, traveling farther and farther west fueled perhaps not by religious difference or the arrogance of manifest destiny, but perhaps by a desire to get away from all that nagging.

Of course, I normalize this sentiment by talking about my general dislike for being back in West Haven, how my family is perhaps a tiny bit dysfunctional, and surrounding myself with people who also have a hard time staying back here, of all places. The tyranny of such a placement.

This trip is no different. Of course, I start with a grand premise: I'm going to give it the good old college try, and try to normalize relations as much as possible. You know, create those adult relationships I convince myself I am able to create with my brothers and father. After all, I am an otherwise functional adult with a job and life and relationship. Why should this be out of my grasp? Yet time and again, and this time before I get home from the bus terminal, I find that perhaps I do not have the patience or desire to do so. Oftentimes, this gets justified because I'm 'slipping back' into old habits of interaction, or because this is just how my family interacts. Certainly, this is not how I live my life outside of this house. I don't aim to answer these questions, or solve these problems now. In a few months, perhaps I'll be ready again, after the process of active amnesia that I seem to muddle through in the weeks and months following trips back.

These issues are made only more clear after a delightful visit to K.'s home in suburban Massachusetts. The time has passed for a comparative post on our Christmas experiences. Suffice it to say, there is no Christmas tree here. Those are the 6 words that would have summarized the whole post.

So there have been particular battles, particular issues, and other fine particulates that have more or less clogged up my dream of a trip home with adult relationships. Again, I came to the conclusion that I do not treasure my time here. Again I have resolved that it's going to be quite some time before I'm back. These are matter of course statements. My brother and I parted one year with the statement "Alright, see you when the next parent dies". As though that would be the only thing to bring us back. That is the sentiment that I feel when I drive away.

So today, I spent a lot of time in the bedroom my brother and I share when we're back. It started out going through the bookshelf, where I realized that we own a disturbing number of books. Then I traveled along the wall, and noticed more piles of books and comics. Then, my eyes wandered to the top of the bookshelf, where there were piles of books. Rounding the corner, I find this glass case, where there are spots for a TV, a DVD player, CDs along the side and maybe books in the parts on the side. Except the whole thing is stuffed with piles of books. PILES, so that more can fit inside. Ditto for those ugly Yaffa blocks my mother decided was going to organize life and NOT look like crap. Books under the bed. Everywhere.

In the closet were not books, but rather old family photos from the mid 80's and early 90s. Aside from the astonishing choices in clothing (ie my 4 year old self in a striped blue long sleeve and red running shorts), there was this other trend. Most of the pictures were either my brother and I or the two of us with my father. This is not a suprising trend, considering the make up of my family during the more formative years of my youth. However, something about the pairing, considering that was the occupancy of this house over the weekend, seemed striking.

These things are in some ways not relevant nor related. However, I came to this realization while reading The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell, that perhaps it is this shared love of reading and books that ties us together, at least in interest. It is astonishing the love of reading born of those within this household. There is a legitimate interest in literacy and love of printed material here.

To me, this is fascinating. I have yet, in 5 years of coming back, to find something about home about which I am excited. Something which we share as a family. Something that might actually inspire me back into the voracious reading I did during the summer of my senior year. I'm fascinated, and perhaps inspired, and maybe (somewhere deep in my two sizes too small heart) connected to this.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Welcome to West Haven, where Christmas is an ornament to be smashed... or to slowly crumble to dust in an attic.

This holiday is, following a growing trend, disappointing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Closing Up Shop and Fever Dreams

No... not the blog.

In the past week, I finished up the last of my academic work for the semester and closed up the residence hall. The master's degree is currently 1/3 in my hand, provided I did the following:

-passed the multiple choice Legal Aspects final, wherein one of the potential answers was "burn down a sex offender's house". This was not the answer I chose. I think that maybe I did alright on that one.

-did acceptably (read: D or better) on my Organization and Administration final. The final was a 20 page take home exam, worth 40% of the grade. I don't think that you really get grades lower than a B on anything in this program, and the paper was pretty solid for something written while having fever dreams. I'm wagering on a 93.

While all this was happening, I was pretty sure my body was planning on closing up shop. I started coming down with a cold while out Christmas shopping with K., and only deteriorated from there. That night, I had an intense fever: the kind that leaves you shivering and sweating, and then begins inserting images from your dark unconscious into your half away fever shaking mind. Actually, it was more of a narrative. A ridiculous narrative, detailed below.

Basically, around 3pm, I decided that there was a fever in my body because Dick Cheney was using me as a vessel to hold the Constitution, but it was really more like a dark constitution bomb of some sort. I'm not sure on the details, as this was likely a fever dream. So, the reason I was feeling so terrible is because I was a vessel for this god knows what bent on destroying the inauguration. That was his evil plan, after all. Along the way, I met with Janet Neapolitano and Mary McDonald (the President from Battlestar Gallactica), who told me that, in this position, I was the most important person in the Universe... and I believed her. I seriously believed her. Tammi Duckworth agreed with me, because she was in my dream. Yes, the 2006 Democratic candidate for Congress in the 6th district of Illinois. Any plan to get up and get water was of dire consequence. There was a desert in my mind and my mouth, and decisions about getting a cold compress involved the consult of my makeshift cabinet of sometimes fictional advisers. At some point, I decided that I had to soldier through it, and defeat the sickness myself as part of my civic duty.

Yes, these are my fever dreams. The National Security Counsel, Battlestar Gallactica, and CNN's former sweethearts. There's a lot going on in my noggin.

So that lasted for a week, but I'm doing much better now. I've only got a little bit of the death rattle of a cough left, and after one night of profuse sweating (and a dream about Mr. Consorte from highschool), the fever broke. So now I'm milking what little bit I can to get off from the worse duties at work (read: there's nothing to do there anyway. Hello Perez).

Basically, this post only exists because I wanted to write about my fever dream experience. Its right up there with the time that I drunkenly e-mailed Hillary Clinton.

(as an aside, I would like to offer this counterpoint to my personality: my fever dreams involve political deception and high rolling figures... sort of... but my current musical obsessions are Miley Cyrus and Paramore. Yep...)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Good Days

I've two thoughts here: one is a post about a great day I recently had, and the other is a thought about what a good day IS. I wonder about if its characteristic of the way that I write that I might try to dissect what makes a good day in my narrative of a good day-- its a thought that I leave here, because I have no interest in trying to answer that question.

I'm on duty right now with three other RAs. Seeing as this is one of the weekend days before finals, we're doing double duty to do as much damage control as possible in our building. Charitably, its been quiet, and we've just been able to do this fun march of a duty round through the building, chatting about films, what we've been up to, and other stuff that 20 somethings talk about.

It was this conversation among us that got me thinking about what makes a good day for me--or at least, why my good day might sound a little bizarre.

This has been a good night. I've hung out with residents, did some arts and crafts, and watched my favorite documentary, Blue Vinyl. I'm listening to Monserrat Caballe, about to re-read Spook: Science Tackles The Afterlife. Try mentioning to someone that you're about to watch your favorite documentary (try telling them that you had to watch it for your Gender and Environment class too), and the responses are going to be all over the board. The quiet night, spent on these kinds of pursuits, has become too few and far between for me, and perhaps especially so in general. Imagine the dialogue we might be having if we did this instead of American Idol!

If you only click on one link above, click on Caballe, listen, and thank me later.

Part two of this post is about Wednesday, which I'll keep brief: I was offered and accepted a job at Emerson College for my practicum course. I'm set for next semester with a paid internship! How exciting! Then, K. and I had decided to become official! So, I am currently and officially off the market (as opposed to before, when I was just off the market because I was seeing K.)

So, I have here a really good day and a really good night. How lucky have I been so far?! :-)