*clings tightly* how are y'all? I am sorry I totally fell off the face of the earth for a couple of weeks (details to that below) but I think I'm back now! At least until school starts again! I'm terribly sorry because I know I've missed everything and everyone and there is absolutely NO way I'm going to be able to catch up again. So I'm starting from today (and if anyone is so inclined, give me links to things you posted, or things you liked, or new artwork you fell in love with? I will be forever grateful! Seriously grateful.)
So, where did I go?
School dragged me kicking and screaming into its clutches.
There were unholy, nay entirely evil, Japanese finals. And a Japanese test that I think I actually mentioned. I finished 45 pages of critical writing in just under two weeks. I managed to translate this little gem (well, only a paragraph) in time to turn it in. It was horrid, it was exhausting, and it was definitely the hardest time I've ever had at the end of a semester. It was also kind of glorious that I did it -- BUT -- I could not have managed to survive a day without the love and cooking and encouragement and support of my beloved man. Seriously, he was patient, he edited my papers, he made sure I ate, he didn't make me do any chores, he made sure that I did my laundry... it was downright freaky and completely amazing and I'm stunned at how generous he was. I wish I had an Oscars speech so I could've thanked him. Instead I'll probably dedicate my first book to him, when I figure out what I'm writing about and manage to write it... but he knew that was gonna happen anyway.
Then I hopped on a Jet Plane.
I did, however, know when I'd be back again, and the trip was almost too short. I am profoundly grateful I got to see my dad, because after his open heart surgery he basically told me not to come out until December - he said he'd be in recovery and grouchy and wouldn't want to talk to anyone until he was feeling better. He was right, but I was worried. He made it through the surgery just fine, and yes, indeed, he was grumpy and snarly and I feel bad for my stepmother having to deal with him being confined to the house and not smoking for the first time in 15 years. But by the time he picked me up at the airport last Thursday he was as fine as you can be after major surgery, I couldn't have been happier to see him, and ... I have absolutely no words for how wonderful it was to get off the escalator and be able to hug him.
I don't know how it happened, it must be something about growing older, but there is a depth of love in hugs I get from my dad and stepmom that is incomparably sweet. Maybe it's the distance, maybe it's just that I realize now how lucky I am to have them both as foundational parts of my life, but it makes me happy. Deeply happy.
The week was completely lazy. Out of seven days I think I spent two in frenzied activity. The others were filled with simple time catching up, sitting in the comfy leather couches in the family room, half watching the eternal news and half goofing around and playing variations of pattycake with Francesca. Two sisters together, we dyed my hair. We went shopping (two girls let lose on Arden Fair Mall for six or so hours in marathon shopping - i ended up with a pair of ear rings out of the whole endeavor). We cleaned up after dinner. I found out about boyfriends and best friends and remembered what a pain in the ass it is to be 16 (and was called the cool aunt, which is fine with me). We got ready for the day of family - when all 18 of us get together for a single day, pass out presents and generally act fairly silly. Curious about it? Here are pictures in a slide show to see us all in our goofy glory. (to see my goofy comments, click the "view pictures" link and then on the right, click "view as a slideshow") Yes, I am the one with nearly purple hair in black. I read a cheezy detective novel, stayed up too late, got up late, drank coffee and went to the grocery store.
I think the best part was simply knowing that I got to spend more time than a weekend with them. My dad is just my dad - a little concerned about my finances, a little protective, a good hugger and a good listener. My stepmom is the one who draws it all out of me while he listens and soaks it up - we talked about this semester and our favorite writers, about how the government is doing and how weird the world is today, about my sisters and nephews and niece and other assorted friends and family members, about the future and the past and my grandmother, and I know that in some very important ways I am the daughter of three parents, not two, and incredibly lucky for it. She and I are so much alike, and we love it.
Finally though, all roads return home
Mom picked me up in her new car yesterday morning, and we managed to make it through the 6 (or was it 8) hours it took us to make it home... sitting in the last row of the airplane for the longest leg to Dallas was loud and sorta painful, but we made it through to get picked up by the sweetest man on the planet and miss Daria. We wandered home, smoked a little, kissed the kitty, and simply got used to relaxing without the world shaking because we were in the air.
Today we shopped! Sadly it's really hard to shop for people when you're with them, but the plan is to do some more tomorrow in separate groups. And now we're home, resting our weary feet, looking over websites and feng shui books, and watching tv... but we do it together, my second family.