So, this is Christmas

First I'll get the depressing stuff out of the way...

We got to visit my family for two days after Christmas. This was the first year my grandfather wasn't home for Christmas... we visited him in the hospital and that was really shocking. He's just not there any more; he spent most of the time just sitting in the hospital chair staring into the middle distance. (It might be better if they hadn't lost his glasses, but...) He had lost a bunch of weight... he looked so small and simple and confused. He had a hard time talking; anything more complex than "yes" or "no" gave him trouble. You could talk at him, but not with him. It was difficult... we left T at home because hospitals aren't nice places, and seeing someone like that is scary... I almost don't want to visit again. I think they're hoping that being in a nursing home with daily activities and personal care will help... as it is, the hospital is understaffed and the patients are on their own almost all day.

I got to see my childhood dog Gabby for a few minutes (my mom and step-dad are seperated, and he got the house, so I don't see Gabby much). She's got pretty bad arthritis and has a hard time standing or going up stairs... her face is all grey. When we showed up at the door she growled and woofed and tried to stand up to run and hide (her usual routine - all bark and no bite), but once I got to her, she either recognized me or decided I wasn't going to hurt her and she started wagging her tail and whining. I really miss my puppy... it's hard to only get a few minutes a year to see her, especially when I know she's going to be gone soon.

And now, the not depressing stuff...

We didn't decorate for Christmas this year! Right after my last exam, we left to stay at T's parent's house, and we're not going back until tomorrow... it didn't seem worth it to put up the decorations, only to pack them away a few days after returning. The only decoration we had on display was a lovely advent calendar that T's mum made for us.

I made [almost] all the presents for my family. I did twelve scrapbook pages for Mom and my sister (who will be seven in January), sewed an apron for my grandmother, and lightscribed a bunch of DVDs for my mom and sister. I had fun making minimalistic covers for the cases from re-colored MSOffice clip art:


I have a book on my shelf that I occasionally read to make myself sad. It's Birds of America by Lorrie Moore, and I picked it up at a secondhand bookstore because it was cheap.

It does not contain the heart-wrenching and dramatic sadness of death and loss. It never actually brings any tears to my eyes. Instead, it produces a general sort of disquiet that stays with me for days. It's the sadness of Eleanor Rigby and Mad World. It's the sadness of abandoned homes. It's the sadness that keeps me from hanging around the deli section of the grocery store, near the piles of boiled eggs that no one will buy. It's the sadness of toy stores that no one visits, and puppies that are alone in their cages, and biographies that don't sell, and empty Chinese restaurants. On their own they're just buildings and books and puppies and eggs; it is only when framed in a certain context that they become sad.

I think, though it's hard to put my finger on it exactly, that it's the sadness of loneliness. Things that are left behind, or unwanted, or misunderstood, or that were once treasured and now are not. Moore's stories are about people who are stuck in unhappy lives, without the power to affect change or even identify exactly what is making them unhappy. There's one line that has always stayed with me: his young, sad wife. To me, it's more poignant and heart-wrenching than loss. Maybe it's because I've lived my life being familiar with that very same quiet unhappiness, while the grief of death is entirely strange to me. It's not necessarily that I identify with these characters, but more that I know people like this exist, everywhere, and that's a deeply upsetting thought.

Phone Pic Dump 2

Photo of a male child in dark lipstick wearing embroidered 'vampire' costume and holding a cane.
Most pimpin' little kid costume I've ever seen

Poster of a Reaper figure with text, 'The Reapers are Coming. Bury your multiple email personalities'
Microsoft representatives dressed like grim reapers wandered around my campus, giving email assistance to unsuspecting university students.
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