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Apr. 16th, 2013

Random musing.

One thing I really appreciate about my mother is that she seems to understand that not everyone is made happy by the same things. Which is really good, because she and I are very different in terms of likes and dislikes: for instance, Mom hates living alone, while I am really picky about the people I can live with* and need my own space or at least people who can give me my own bubble (I do fine during Christmases with Mom and my brother, even if I'm sharing a room with my brother and generally camp out either in the recliner or at the kitchen table to do things). (My sister takes after Mom; Jenn has never lived alone in her life, actually. Nor has my brother, but he also hasn't moved away from home yet.)

It also comes up with matters of money. During the job hunt, Mom reminded me to ask about salaries because, while I'm happy living on my grad student stipend, she wanted to make sure I had enough money to do things I like doing (traveling to visit friends and family, having a place I wanted to live, buying a car which I admit I'll eventually need) and suggested things like 'if you have the money, why not look into a weekly cleaning service, since we both know how you feel about housework?**'. I don't know if that's something Mom would spend her money on -- she might if she had more income, given she works long hours and not having to spend her days off cleaning would be pretty nice, but right now it would probably mean fewer trips to see her family -- but it's something she thinks I'd like, so I should totally look into it and see if it fits a budget. (This is also why Mom got laser eye surgery: the improvement in her vision was totally worth the money and pain of surgery, so she saved for it.)

It's nice to know that whatever I do with my life, I know Mom is proud of me and will help in any way she can, even though it is so far from what she wants for herself. (Mom once told the head of the UNL physics department at a job interview that, if she could have any job, it was the one she used to do as a nurse's aide at a retirement home; our chair joked that at least the physics department had its share of old people.)

* Thankfully, all of my biological family make this cut, or I've learned to adapt to them and they to me.

** I don't think many people like housework, but I guess there's a point of 'do I hate it enough to justify the expense of paying to have someone else handle it'.

Jun. 11th, 2012

Home Stuff

So, I'm going to be an aunt (besides any honorary titles I have as 'good friend of people with kids'): my sister is pregnant and due in the fall. Since my brother-in-law just finished up his MBA and she is finishing her Master's thesis, it's a good time for them.

Also, I'll be heading back to Nebraska for a week-ish next month, to check in with the family and to see friends. It'll be around the 4th, since Seward (a town less than an hour from my hometown) does a big Independence Day street fair and such, so it's a good time to visit the state.

Jun. 10th, 2012

100 SF/Fantasy Stories 010: Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

So, Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht was a difficult novel for me for about the same reason Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okaofor was; I don't mind reading things that are set in a darker era (real or fictitious), but afterward, I want the literary equivalent of something sweet and fluffy. A bit like drinking black tea with pastries.

Anyway, Of Blood and Honey is set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.  )

Dec. 27th, 2010

And, in less happy news...

So, some of you know about the Snowpocalypse that hit the East US coast. My family is in Boston, so there was some of the usual fuss.

But my great-aunt's home caught fire. The family had already evacuated since they live right on the coast, and there was flooding, so no one was hurt, but all the things were lost.

It was on the CBS national news, which was weird. Also funny that every one of my family on FB knew what had happened (because of the news) and my aunt had to call Mom and pass it on to the Nebraska branch.

Not much I can do from out here, and we have a boatload of family in Boston, so they'll be taken care of. The Red Cross and other disaster-relief charities are also on it.

Dec. 13th, 2010

Random Thought

Over Thanksgiving break, I met up with [livejournal.com profile] hsiuism to walk around Boston and hang out. When my mother heard this, she was all 'who is this girl*', 'what does she do?' and 'how long will you be out?'. And, of course, 'stay safe and in a public place'. She then proceeded to tell her sister (my aunt, Maryjean) that MJ should check in with me regularly and call me if I'm out past the time I said I'd be. Maryjean was all, 'Karen, she's a grown woman in her twenties and it's just a person from the Internet'.

The funny thing is, as far as parents went, Mom was about average with strictness in high school. I never had a curfew -- well, my curfew was 'use common sense, and if you don't have any, then we'll set a time'. And Mom was pretty cool about me hanging out with friends. And, as soon as I was in college, the rules were 'tell me if you're skipping meals or staying the night elsewhere', which mostly struck me as courtesy for a roommate (who did most of the cooking), rather than parental rules.

But something about the Internet future shocks my mother. I think she'd be fine if I, like my sister, went to bars to hear live music playing with friends, because that was what Mom did when she was young. But meeting 'strangers' for coffee could lead to Horrible Things**.

Sometimes I wonder if, when my sister has kids, I'll be the (childless) Aunt Maryjean to Jenn's Mom.

* Any one of her children' friends are still 'boys' and 'girls', even though all of us are in college or grad school, and my younger sister is married.

** Another thing that strikes me as odd, because it feels like it's expected in academia that a lot of the people you'll meet by reputation first. And that remote interactions are at least as telling as, say, someone in the same organizations as you. (I mean, most of the folks I knew in high school and college from, say, clubs, were fine people, but I could point out a few that ended up badly.)

Nov. 23rd, 2010

My true meaning of Christmas

I discovered a Christmas song I liked*. A bit early. Anyway...

White Wine in the Sun, by Tim Minchin

It's a song about how the singer isn't religious and doesn't like the consumerism of Christmas, but he really likes Christmas because of his family, and how he's passing the close-knit family he has down to his little daughter.

it just made me think about my mother and our family. I'm going to be visiting my aunt for Thanksgiving. She has a big to-do every year -- before my grandmother died, it was four generations of family under one roof. Normal attendance is my aunt and her husband, kids, and their spouses and kids, my uncle Donny and his family, my uncle Bobby and one of his daughters and her kids, my Uncle Jay, and me, plus friends who need a place to spend the holiday. (My cousin Martha has brought friends, and her husband has brought his fellow grad students so they have somewhere to be during the holiday.)

Also, both my grandmother's family and my grandfather's have a family Christmas party of people descended from their parents (so descendants of my maternal grandfather's parents and descendants of my maternal grandmother's parents). My grandfather's family also has a summer reunion usually hosted by my Uncle Jay and some of my cousins-once-removed up the coast in August.

But, every Christmas so far, I've gone home. To see my mother and brother and sister and brother-in-law, and usually my dad and stepmom. And some close friends who are family in all but blood. Someday, maybe, I won't be able to get home over the break. I hope never, because that's what Christmas is to me. I'm not religious and the gifts, unless home-made, are things I'd buy for myself. But it's about being with the people that I care about, and doing things like having meals and watching movies and talking.

* Because someone put a cover of it on a Christmas album and people threw a fit about the fact it was sung by someone for whom Christmas wasn't about Jesus.

Nov. 7th, 2010

Holiday Plans

So, for folks in the Boston and Nebraska areas, I made my holiday plans. I'll be visiting my aunt and uncle (and cousins) in Boston over Thanksgiving, and should have Saturday free for bumming around the city. Or Friday, but I want to stay on hand to help my aunt clean up -- she normally hosts most of her brothers' and sister's family in the East Coast area for Thanksgiving, taking over from my grandmother. Plus anyone who needs a place for the holiday. This can mean up to two dozen people at one table. (My aunt is a domestic genius to manage this. I'd be ready to go after people with a carving knife.)

Christmas, as usual, will be spent with my family. I'm home from 20 December to 5 January.

I also suspect I'll be doing cards, but more info on that later.

Feb. 10th, 2010

Misc. Stuff

So, when I don't update Facebook or keep my cell phone charged, I get concerned emails from Mom wondering where I am and what I'm ding. Which is fair, since I need to get a local ICE person who will get notified if I do have trouble, and be responsible for making calls and stuff. (I need to ask someone around here.)

Also, my cousin Martha had her baby, giving me a sixth 'child of my first cousin'*.

Anyway, I'm all right, besides spending yesterday having a headache that meant painkillers and sleep. Better today, though the weather makes me want to ditch work early, pick up some staples at the grocery store, and then pretend the cold, cold universe doesn't exist. I've still got some tomato soup in the fridge, and supplies to make noodles 'n veggies.

Grace the cat is settling in fine, besides being convinced I don't spend nearly enough time petting and brushing her. I took a drawer out of my shelves to locate some Computer Stuff, and she decided that the empty spot was perfectly cat-sized. Then starting chasing her tail in it. She also discovered the shelf next to it, where I had, among other things, two pipe-cleaner dolls [livejournal.com profile] mirisa_ardruna made me. What I thought was her octopus toy this morning was the head of one, which now needs to have repairs done.

* A first cousin once removed, but this also covers my mother's or father's first cousins.

Jan. 1st, 2010

Hope all of you had a nice New Year's Eve. Ours was spent trying to stay awake and trying to figure out if any of the New Years programming was worth watching. Well, that and watching Fox and the local cable company square off -- they didn't get the contract renewed in time, so it was likely that Fox would go off the air at midnight*. Fox is using the fact that the local college team is playing in a bowl game in the evening as a bit of leverage, as people will be upset if they can't see the Gators play.

Plus, there was arguing over when the decade starts -- I kind of like [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower's suggestion based on Mesoamerican calendars. The last day of the month is the 'seating' of the next. The last five days of the year** -- which tended to annoy ancient people because 365 was hard to split up evenly, while 360 was so easy -- were the seating of the next year. So any XXX0 year would be the last year of the decade, and the seating year of the next decade.

It also seems like my caffeine tolerance has progressed enough that I can have tea after dinner when tired, as long as I don't overdo it. There were fireworks on the beach, as well. Earlier, during daylight, we walked along the beach to look at the birds and stuff. There was supposed to be a manatee handing out by the pier, but he had left. I did see sea turtles, though.

2009 and 2010 )

Speaking of interesting milestones, Spirit the rover is coming up on six years on Mars on the 3rd. Though it's still stuck in a sand dune and two wheels are broken. Its sister-rover, Opportunity will have its six-year milestone later in January, and is currently cruising south to look at another crater. The New Horizons mission crossed the distance halfway mark on the 29th -- it is now closer to Pluto than it is to Earth, though its time halfway mark is later. (It slows down as it coasts away from the Sun, just like a ball thrown upward -- except this ball got a kick from Jupiter, so it's never coming back down towards the Sun.)

* Turns out that they decided to let it sit for a couple of hours.
** Or six, for leap years.
*** Though right now, my shoulder has been unhappy with me -- I must have did something on Tuesday to it. If it's still hurting when I get back to New York, I'm going to have to call into the Health Center and have someone check to rule out anything I need to be in a cast for, or need set.

Dec. 25th, 2009

Christmas Redux

Snow's still coming down. Mom went out to check the roads, and said that there were drifts of a foot and a half.

Jenn and Matt made it to Matt's parent's place, but they live outside of town. Not as far outside as Dad lives, but enough that Matt's parents need to keep a personal plow to clear the driveway. A plow that didn't start this morning. Jenn is bound and determined to see us, which leaves us out of sorts until we know if (or when) she can take her little car out and drive to Mom's apartment.

As much as I love my mother, I wouldn't want to head outside in this weather. Jenn's stubborn like that.

It makes scheduling things like dinner and present-opening awkward, because we don't know when Jenn and Matt will be here, or if they will make it or get snowed in. Mom wants to make sure everyone will be fed and happy, which means making sure if Jenn comes in the afternoon, that there is food for her -- originally she was going to be in for the morning for presents and the evening for supper, but she's insisting that she spend some time with us, and already missed the morning.

Dec. 24th, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Nebraska

I'm sitting here in the dining room (well, dining area of the living room). It's snowing hard and the wind is blowing. My sister and brother-in-law are supposed to drive down from Omaha after he gets out of work and stay overnight at his family's place. Mom is trying to convince Jenn to stay home, but Matt is determined to come. Considering what it looks like out of my window, I think anyone who can avoid going outside is crazy.

It's a bit sad, since it's the first Christmas we might not have Jenn around. Even when she was in the college band, the team never got into bowl games that required her to leave -- sometimes she had to leave at noon on Christmas Day, but she was still there to open gifts in the morning.

Ironic, considering one reason I am running around like an idiot this holidays -- a triangle trip from Ithaca to Lincoln to Orlando and back (well, to Syracuse) -- is because I wanted to see everyone this time.

Also noticing my connections. The friends of mine from high school who don't do things like Facebook or LJ are people I have to re-connect with every time I come back. Everyone else I tend to keep up with, but I still like to see them again.

Dec. 20th, 2009

Christmas with My Friends

I need to call Sara -- normally she starts calling my mother as soon as she thinks I'm home, but now the home phone is gone*, and I don't think she has my cell.

Anyway, last night I had my Christmas celebration at [info]yuuo and [info]emilie_burns's place, with [livejournal.com profile] mirisa_ardruna and her son. I got a Mars book (with red pen so I could add in new stuff) from Jen and Zanne, and a pair of fingerless gloves (my hands and feet get cold easily, even inside) from Kim. Jen and Zanne made dinner, so that was also nice -- we had bratwurst, sauerkraut and potatoes, with Kim's cookies and my fudge for dessert. We were going to watch a movie, but dinner ran late, so we just ended up hanging out.

I <3 my friends, by the way.

More writing today -- foolishly I agreed to pinch-hit for Yuletide, despite having defaulted on my primary claim. Mostly because the pinch-hit canon was shorter, and I had coincidentally re-read it recently, while my primary claim involved watching 20-some episodes of anime to make sure I had the voices right. I still have the idea, so I might do the primary claim as a New Year's Resolution.

(Plus, the pinch hit lets me do comedy, which is one of my favorite things to write.)

* Mom got rid of the landline once Ben graduated high school. She and Ben both have cell phones, and she was already using her cell for long-distance calls instead of paying for long-distance on the house phone. More and more it seems like that's the new trend.

Dec. 17th, 2009

Back in the Midwest

So, travel wasn't that bad. I got about 2 hours of sleep on Tuesday, but I can never sleep well before a flight.

I got to the airport at 5:15, when my flight was due to leave at 6. Yes, I know the 'hour before you leave' rule, but the Ithaca airport is seriously small -- plus, the taxi was late. I got through security about the time the plane should have boarded, but I know better than to expect any 'first flight' from Ithaca to take off on time, especially in the winter.

Read more... )
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Dec. 1st, 2009

Holidays, with a dose of Writing Emo

The period of time from November 1st until I go on my holiday break always stinks, with the exception of Thanksgiving. I had a lovely time, by the way. I visited my aunt, and we had 17 people for dinner (my aunt Maryjean, her husband, two sons and one grandson, my uncle Bobby, his girlfriend, one daughter, one son-in-law and two grandkids, my uncle Donny, his wife and their two daughters, and my uncle Jay. Plus me.*)

Read more... )

Oct. 20th, 2009

... And also a family rant.

Not quite a rant, but more a frustration I'm trying to work out.

Dad just emailed me to invite me to spend Christmas and his birthday in Florida with him and Marjorie, my stepmother. Normally I spend Christmas in Nebraska -- Dad lives there, Mom lives there, neither of my siblings have moved out of state, and I still have friends in Lincoln. But Dad and Marjorie have taken to spending winter break in Florida for the weather. Dad apparently thought I did things closer to how we did things as kids -- I'd spend Thanksgiving with one parent, and Christmas with the other, so he offered to pay for my plane ticket down to Florida, assuming I'd see Mom next month.

Well, except I don't feel like flying across the country for a long weekend, so I normally take a bus to Boston and visit my extended family there for the Thanksgiving holidays. So, if I take Dad up on his offer, I save some money, get to see him for Christmas, and get to spend Christmas on the beach. On the other hand, I won't see Mom or my friends -- and probably Jenn and Matt, since my sister both has to deal with spending time with Matt's family and if given a choice between Mom and Dad, will choose Mom. (I don't know about Ben -- he doesn't like having his routine disrupted*, but he also does like seeing Dad, though, unlike me, he sees Dad regularly.)

* And Christmas morning at Mom's is traditional -- normally either we go over Dad's the night before, or for Christmas dinner. Or, more recently, a later weekend.

The only compromise I can come up with is to visit Dad for a week or so for Christmas, and then maybe take a week off for my birthday to visit Nebraska.

Sep. 25th, 2009


I'm starting to discover the causes of my occasional insomnia. Basically a mix of anxiety* and irregular sleep patterns. Two nights ago, it was anxiety. Last night, irregular sleeping -- I fell asleep after dinner, so it took me over an hour to fall asleep for the night. Both of these should be correctable with effort.

Also, I think I'm turning into my mother, in that displacing myself to the living room to sleep for a couple of hours, only to wander back to the bedroom, seems to help.

* Usually compounded if I forget to take my meds.

Also, someone needs to tell my father that he's allowed to email me for reasons other than shameless self-promotion. I sent him an email when my computer broke about that, and trying to chat, but most of the emails he sends me are links about him making the news.

Today, he was mentioned in a NYT article about a bombing suspect. Dad studies a chemical that's commonly manufactured as a bathtub explosive. Mostly because it's the type of thing you can make with stuff from the drugstore, and is terribly nasty -- it was the explosive used in the 2005 London bombings. Which means he gets occasional news mentions as an Expert, and the occasional local piece as Chemist Fights Terrorists with Science~!
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Sep. 19th, 2009


You know, it's funny, but I can be incredibly inspired by what I think are other people's bad ideas. Sometimes to rant, other times to get my own. Shame it doesn't extend to writing things. I have a lot of worldbuilding ideas, but never do anything with them plot-wise. I think it's a bit intimidating to find a story in them.

Read more... )

Sep. 11th, 2009

Mom and Ben are going to be moving about a month from now to an apartment building on Vine Street. I can picture where it is -- not that far from where we used to live, and the sort of thing we'd drive by a lot if we were heading to the university from our house.

I also saw that my uncle Donny posted a picture to Facebook of Grandma's cottage up for sale. Grandma owned property on the New Hampshire coast, and left it to her kids when she died. Problem was, Mom and Uncle Rick were too far away to use it much, Uncle Donny had a place up there already, and Maryjean and Uncle Jay and Uncle Bobby* didn't feel/couldn't afford to buy out their siblings -- or at least field the property taxes and utilities. Not to mention that when Grandma was alive, Uncle Donny was usually the maintenance guy, with occasional help from my cousins Declan and Dylan when they were teenagers. Not quite fair for Uncle Donny to maintain two places up there, one he doesn't even own (different when it's for his elderly mother, I mean). So, they finally got their act together and are going to sell it and split the money six ways. It's a couple of blocks from the beach, but it's also the sort of place that's decades old and needs some major repair work, and is also small**, so most likely it'll be torn down to build a bigger beach house.

It's just weird, you know, thinking that things will be different than they've always been.

* Yes, my mother had five brothers and sisters. My dad has four. Insert your favorite joke about Catholics here.
** I think it's a good size for a family beach house, and we've slept ten people in it for family reunions. (More if Maryjean brings her tent and sleeps in the backyard.)
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Sep. 4th, 2009

This is where we used to live...

Mom warned me about this when I saw her over the summer, but she's selling the house now that Ben's out of school. Basically on her income, she can't afford the mortgage without help from the child support she gets from Dad. Since my brother is going to be 19 in October, there goes that income.

Mom emailed me this week to tell me the house sold, and they'll be moving soon to an apartment somewhere. Mom figures she'll have to rent storage until she can pare a house's worth of crap down to an apartment's worth.

(Also, she's kind of upset that this means she can't do her awesome Halloween yard displays. If anyone is in the Lincoln area and wants someone to turn their front yard into a haunted house for a month, and doesn't mind helping by getting up on a ladder*, she'd be happy to help. Our neighbor/Mom's best friend** offered, but Mom said that they have different tastes -- Mom likes 'creepy' and Peg likes 'funny'. I know only a few of you live in Lincoln, and many still live with family, but hey...)

It's kind of weird. We moved to that house when I was 11 or so, back when my parents were still together. Dad built the swingset in the backyard -- which Mom donated to the day care next door when we got too old for it -- and tried to start a rock garden in the side yard which languished once he moved out, and eventually had to be re-lanscaped when the terracing collapsed. It was my first room on my own -- I had to share with Jenn when we were kids -- and I stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling and covered the walls with posters and maps from National Geographic. I remember the tree in the front yard falling during a windstorm, and planting an oak tree I got for Arbor Day that may or may not still be there.

Things were already changing once I moved out here. A year or two after I left, Mom redid my room into a guest room -- she took down the posters (but kept the glow-in-the-dark stars) and moved things around. It was a shock. She also redid the office -- which was originally a spot Dad set up to work on stuff, and became our computer/junk room once he left -- into a tiny dining room, and moved the computer into Jenn's bedroom.

But, still... it's weird to think that the next time I come back (for Christmas), I'll be coming to a two-bedroom apartment where I'll have to sleep on the couch rather than the house I grew up with and my old bedroom.

* Mom is afraid of heights, so one of us kids would usually handle things.

** /the computer teacher (and Patron Saint of geeky high school students) at my old high school/Mom's coworker's wife. In summary, our family's tight with hers. She even has an open invitation to visit Mom's brothers and sisters, and Mom was friends with her family.
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Aug. 13th, 2009

Travel (but not Cats)

So, I got my yearly dose of beach, card games* and family gossip/drama at the Mom'sFamily family reunion. Have to add 'baby afghan' on the To Do List, as my cousin found out she was pregnant -- she's trying to keep it off Facebook, though, but everyone knew, so I don't know how long that will last. (Thankfully, the baby isn't due until after the holidays.)

* The family is a big believer in card games. Plus we had my aunt's step-grandson visiting for the week, and he was constantly in need of being entertained.

Let's talk about the trip back.  )

I'm working my way through hundreds of LJ posts -- the smart thing to do would be to put together a reading list of friends, then just skim for community announcements, but I didn't do that. So, I'm skipping the hundreds of [info]bad_rpers_suck, [info]fanficrants, and drabble posts on writing communities to get to the meat of things. I have a feeling I'm not going to make it into work, as it's lunchtime and I'm still fuzzy, so I better let my boss know that travel fatigue has me skipping a meeting where I'll just be listening to the rest of the group.
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