jedusor: (neuron art)
I'm in Chicago with my family for Christmas, and it's by far the longest I've spent with them in years. I'm actually not sure I've spent more than a week with any of these guys since I moved away around my seventeenth birthday. I've been sick for a few days, which sucks, but other than that it's been mostly good. I love my weirdo clan a lot. It's been nice to revisit all our family Christmas traditions, Mom's been cooking like a fiend and my stepdad has been baking my favorites, and my brothers have all grown into pretty cool people.

It's been interesting, though, to note the ways I've changed over the last few years. Like: Mike gets pretty much traumatized by yelling, so I've learned to be aware of when I'm about to lose my temper and tap out of the conversation before it reaches that point. And Mike knows that's what's happening, and doesn't push it. But that's not how we did it in my family growing up--arguments always continued long past the point of potential resolution. So now when I feel myself reaching a point where I can't communicate productively and I exit the situation, my family gets confused and irritated about it.

And my sense of humor has changed, or I suppose is in the process of changing. In this family, intelligence is valued above pretty much everything, and wit is the most common way to express intelligence. So if you think of something funny, you say it. Doesn't matter if it's gonna make someone feel bad, as long as it's funny enough to make up for it. This is something I still struggle with a bit myself, because instincts are hard to fight. But I am trying to fight them, whereas when I was younger I embraced the "it's okay to be an asshole if you're funny enough" philosophy.

And there are the trodden-toe situations. You know the metaphor: when you step on someone's toe by mistake, you don't tell them not to be hurt because you didn't mean it, and you don't argue about whether your foot had more of a right to occupy that space than theirs. You just apologize. This is one I think I've gotten a lot better at over the years, and it's kind of a jolt to be back in a place where being right is generally more important than anything else.

I think I was at least vaguely aware of most of this when I lived with my family, but I've changed in another important way since then: my values have had some time and space to settle, and I don't spend nearly as much time worrying about whether the thing I just insisted I believed was actually flat-out wrong. I'm pretty solid where I stand on this stuff. I might not be perfect about implementing my values, but I know what I'm aiming for. That's actually really reassuring. As is the fact that I know Mike is with me on all of this.

Like I said, I do love my family and I am very glad I'm here. It's just that there's this extra person floating around in the back of my head right now, the teenager I used to be, and I don't really get to check in with her that often, so I'm trying to take the opportunity to work through the things that might be important.
jedusor: (badass geek)
When I first moved to Kansas City right after my thirteenth birthday, my family started going to some homeschool gatherings. At one of them, I hit it off with a girl around my age named Grace, and invited her to my house for a sleepover. She told me at some point during that night that her older sister Ida had this uncanny knack for predicting fashion trends. If Ida wore something, she told me, everyone would be wearing it two years later.

I was excited about this. Had she done tests? How many times had it happened?

Grace didn't really know.

But if she hadn't tested it, how could she be sure?

Grace kind of shrugged. She was sure because right now everyone was wearing the jeans Ida had been wearing a couple of years ago.

No no no, I explained, that's not how being sure works. You have to write down what she's wearing now, then compare it to fashion trends in two years, and then you can really know for sure. But only if you track someone else who isn't a trendsetter and compare them. Here, look, let me graph a projection of the results if you're right. No, look.

...this, in retrospect, may be one reason I've always had difficulty finding people my own age with whom I could really connect.
jedusor: (children)
The list )

I didn't realize how complicated my family situation was until I had to explain it in French to my whole class when I was fifteen, and had to keep asking the teacher how to say things like "stepfather" and "half-brother" in French. Here's the sibling story: I have two full brothers, Clayton (16) and Cordell (22); one half-brother, Lincoln (6); a stepbrother, Avery, and a stepsister, Veronica.

I don't know Avery and Veronica's ages. I think they're something like 7 and 10? It didn't even occur to me to think of them as siblings until Cordell said something last year about having two sisters, and I honestly had no clue what he was talking about. Jeffrey adopted Jeanette's kids a while back, so I guess technically they count, but they've never felt like siblings to me in the slightest. They're sweet kids for the most part, though, and I don't mind being around them.

Linker is totally a sibling. I don't even think of him as a half-brother, usually. I have a very different relationship with him than with the older two, though, because of the age difference. I was fourteen when Lincoln was born. I changed his diapers when he was a baby, and took him on the bus with me to church when he was a toddler, and babysat him all the time; I'm more of an adult figure to him than a peer.

Cordell is two and a half years older than me. We grew up picking on each other constantly. When I was little, I never understood kids who said they loved their siblings--mine were nothing but unpleasantness until I was well into adolescence, and I'm sure I was the same to them. But after we stopped living together, things got better, and since he got back from Japan, we've actually gotten along really well. Turns out he's a pretty neat dude. He started teaching me about sines and cosines yesterday via AIM and an online whiteboard app.

Clayton is three and a half years younger than I am. We got along more when we were kids than Cord and I did, but things have still been better the last few years. I think about six months before I moved out, Clay realized he was about to be hurled into the same kind of teenage fun I'd been dealing with for a few years, and suddenly started being really nice to me. I didn't always deal with that stuff well, but at least I can tell him how not to do it. The poor kid's always kind of been trapped between the childhood extremes of me (reckless, headlong, constantly taking chances and getting in trouble) and Cord (who never did anything until he'd thought about it for three weeks, including taking out the garbage). Now Cord and I have both grown up and shifted toward the middle ground a bit, and we're not around anyway, so Clay has a little more breathing room to figure himself out.
jedusor: (dysfunctional)
The list )

Mom is kind of a force of nature. There are a bunch of different careers she's qualified for--writing, editing, braiding, massage, business--but she chose to channel her energy into her kids instead, although she does some of those things on the side when she can. She's a bit of an earthy-crunchy type, big on alternative medicine and pagan-type spirituality. I inherited a lot of her temperament; we're both good at getting what we want, but we have a tendency to blow our shit when we don't. Largely because of that, we had some rough patches when I was a teenager, but we've been totally fine since I moved out. Mom's second husband Bill and I hated each other's guts for the first few years, because I was a pain in the ass and he had a sharp sense of humor that got cruel sometimes, but things got better as I grew up and he learned to tone it down, and we're good now too. I don't know if I'd call him a parent, but he's put up with enough crap from me over the years that he deserves the title if he wants it.

My dad and I stopped being close when I was ten, and I stopped talking to him altogether from the ages of about twelve to fifteen. Now I talk to him on the phone once or twice a year, and I visit his family sometimes when I'm in the Bay Area--he feels more like an acquaintance than family, and I usually refer to him by his name, but we mostly get along these days. He remarried a few years ago and adopted his stepkids. I like his wife Jeanette a lot, but I definitely don't think of her as a parent.
jedusor: (Default)
(talking about the differences between me and my brothers)
Amanda: It's a question of common sense, whether you can find your way out of a paper bag.
Me: Hey! I can find my way out of a paper bag!
Amanda: Okay, but what do you do when you get out? Clay pops out of the bag and goes, "That way is north!" You pop out and go, "Ooh, butterfly!" Cordell goes, "uh, bag's looking good..."

On "home"

May. 14th, 2009 10:29 am
jedusor: (Default)
So, there's something I don't get.

I've always looked forward to turning eighteen and moving out. My family rocks, but I never had a choice about moving in with them. Besides, moving out is what you do when you grow up, right? You do your own thing, you make your own way in the world, you get your own physical space as well as the space to make your own decisions.

I know I'm not the only person who takes this approach. Sure, there are plenty of people who stay with their families into adulthood, and that's fine if that's how you do things. But there were also plenty of people alongside me throughout adolescence, chomping at the bit to get out of their houses the day they hit eighteen. And some of them--not all, but some--did.

This is not unexpected, is it? As a country, we grant people legal adulthood at eighteen. It shouldn't be a surprise that some of us grab that and run with it. And yet both socially and bureaucratically, it's assumed that young people have a "home" with their parents. Clark refused to accept my college mailbox as my current address; since I now have an off-campus apartment, I called to change it to this one, and they initially refused to change it because it's a "summer residence, not a permanent residence." Financial aid is impossible to get without taking parental income information into account until the student is 25, even if the parents refuse to pay a cent; I know several people who have been thoroughly screwed over by this policy. I can't count the number of people who have asked whether I'm "going home" for a school break or for the summer, and telling them that I live here only gets a confused "I thought you were from California?"

It's not just college students, either. I hear real grownups with houses and kids and everything referring to visiting their parents as "going home." I don't understand. I visit my family members, and I enjoy those visits, but they're visits. When I go to Davis, where I was born and spent my childhood, it's pleasantly familiar as the place I grew up, but it's not home. To me, home is where I go at the end of the day. That was my parents' house, once. Then it was my grandparents' house. Then it was a dorm room. Now it's an apartment in Worcester, Massachusetts, with a couple of near-strangers who seem pretty nice. In the future, it might be my own place, or a place I share with people I love; it might be P's couch in Lyon, if I ever manage to get my butt across the Atlantic; it might even be an actual house of my own someday, unlikely as settling down feels to me now. But "home" doesn't mean someplace far away that I only see once or twice a year, and it seems very strange to me that that's what others expect it to mean.

Go, Bill!

Apr. 14th, 2009 02:32 pm
jedusor: (riverdancing)
My stepdad just got a job offer from DePaul University in Chicago. He, Mom, Clayton, and Link will be moving there in August, and he'll start teaching in September.

Congratulations, Bill!
jedusor: (pintsize duct-taped)
I got my first vaccine doses today. Three shots: one tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, one measles/mumps/rubella, and one hepatitis B. The little information pamphlets inform me that if I am one of the one in 1.2 million people to experience seizures, it'll happen in about a week, so Death Guild could be extra-fun! I'll need to get second doses of two of the vaccines and a third dose of one over the next six months; Clark's health center says they won't bar the gates as long as I promise to get those when I'm supposed to.

I got home, achy-armed, and logged into my Clark e-mail to find a message that made me very, very happy. I had written the professor of the entrepreneurship class I want to take this fall, saying something along the lines of "ack Clark won't let me register until the day before classes start and your class that I want to take already has 39 of 40 spots filled, pretty please let me in?" and he responded saying no problem, let him know when I'm allowed to register and he'll do an override, which gives me hope for other potentially full classes. Mom, the most worthwhile lesson you ever taught me was "it never hurts to ask."

I also met my great-aunt Kathy this afternoon. Kathy has recently discovered the internet, it seems, and I was called upon to instruct her in the purposes and proper usage of Facebook, LiveJournal, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Wikipedia. She left a few minutes ago, page of scribbled URLs in hand, eager to master the series of tubes.
jedusor: (don't dream it)
I had a crappy day today. I was going to post about it, but then I went outside to put an envelope in the mailbox at the end of our bazillion-foot driveway, and I sort of forgot about the crappiness.

I complain about living in the middle of nowhere, but sometimes this area just overwhelms me with its beauty. In the near-pitch-blackness of midnight, feeling the cool air on my skin, listening to the silence that just doesn't happen in cities... all the drama and worry and physical discomfort faded away.

This area really is gorgeous. I wouldn't want to stay here, but I'm glad I got the time here that I did. I'm glad I got to know my grandparents as people rather than as the free vending machines they seemed to be when I was a kid. I'm glad I got to know myself a little, as is inevitable when spending so much time alone. I'm glad I got to know what it's like to not live within ten blocks of everything I need in my daily life.

It's beautiful here during the day, too, when there are animals and clouds and incredible views. But it's at night, when I go out to the mailbox, that I fall in love with this place. It's dark, and it's quiet, and I'm alone, and for a few minutes, the urgency of to-do lists and daily life just doesn't exist.

I'm going to miss that.
jedusor: (looking at the stars)
My grandpa was listening to jazz in his room with the door open a little while ago, and a particularly loud frog outside started croaking in time with the beat. About eight or nine bars straight, perfect rhythm.

That may be the closest thing to a religious experience I've ever had.
jedusor: (stfw bitch)
Mom is in California, and just finished the portion of her visit that includes me. I hadn't seen her or Link since August, so it was nice to spend some time with them, as well as with Cord and Clay. I'd forgotten how loud they all are. Things move so slowly and quietly around here that it was a bit of a jolt to have the whole gang thundering around.

Cord, Clay and I went ice skating with Jeffrey's family on Monday. I nearly made it the whole time without falling, but blew it two minutes before the rink closed. I did successfully manage the trick I was trying to do twice before landing on my ass, though. The three of us were handed back off to Mom, and that night the aforementioned gang descended upon Halflab, who were good sports about it, as usual.

Yesterday, we went to Google's corporate headquarters (though "corporate" really doesn't feel like the right word for that place) to have lunch with a Googler friend of Mom's. She gave us a brief tour before we ate, and it was pretty bloody awesome. I especially liked the huge T-rex skeleton wearing a Santa hat and devouring a Christmas tree. Also, the nap pod was pretty cool. And there were toys and books and food all over the place. I ran into two people I knew, and I know at least four other people who work there, not counting the person we were meeting. I'm tempted to devote my life to computer programming in the hopes of someday scoring a job there.

Rose (whose lecture on guerrilla knitting got linked on boingboing!) is going to be in the area for a while, and we've got vague plans to meet up sometime in the next week. After that, I leave for Boston! I'm so excited for the Hunt, and to hang out with NPL people. Fair E-Girl/Delirium/Liz is going to be there, and I haven't seen her in way too long. After her offer from MIT and [ profile] lizzip's offer from Cambridge, I'm hoping some college acceptance fu will rub off on me.

Okay, I'm sick of talking about me. How about you? What's the best thing that's happened to you in 2008 so far?
jedusor: (blame my parents)
I talked to S yesterday for a good two and a half hours. We haven't spoken since before we both moved from Kansas City to California in July. She's living a couple hours' drive away from me with her boyfriend, and she has a job caring for mentally ill people during the day, and she sounds really happy.

Something that kept coming up in the conversation was the fact that she's now responsible for herself instead of having her parents dictate her life, which is a huge change for her. She told me that it's wonderful to experience the natural consequences to her actions instead of always feeling ashamed and worrying about parental disapproval. Now she does things because it's to the benefit of herself and others to do them, not because she's worried about her privileges being taken away. She informed me enthusiastically that she has stayed up late and then been unable to perform to the best of her abilities at work the next day, and that that's teaching her not to stay up too late.

I didn't have a whole lot of context for this revelation, because natural consequences are the basis of my mom's parenting methods. She's always tried to let us learn lessons for ourselves, pointing them out if we didn't figure out the connections between our actions and the consequences, and trying to match the crime to the punishment when punishment had to be dished out. I remember my dad's punishments, way back when I was small enough not to know how to stop him bullying me, and I never learned anything from them besides to be afraid of him and to be dishonest when caught. Thankfully, he wasn't a large enough part of my life to cause much serious damage.

So thanks, Mom. You had the right idea.


Sep. 27th, 2007 11:53 am
jedusor: (children)
[ profile] shoutingboy, your new car is nice and all, but I think my little brothers have found one that could kick its ass and take its lunch money:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(Thanks to [ profile] mamagotcha for the photo.)
jedusor: (sad world)
A man went on a shooting rampage this afternoon at the Ward Parkway Mall, less than five miles away from my house. People got killed.

My mom and brothers went to that mall this afternoon, saw the police cars and flares and everything, and decided it would be better to leave. I am very, very glad that they did not choose to go a few minutes earlier.

I would like to note that Seung-Hui Cho was Asian, the guy in my history class is African-American, and this shooter was white. Hate and insanity have no race.

EDIT: Scott Adams wrote a blog post that I found thought-provoking.
jedusor: (sad world)
My stepdad had a letter to the editor printed in the Kansas City Star a couple of days ago. It's the fourth one down on that page, but it was the first one in newsprint. I think he made an excellent point about the public reaction to the Virginia Tech shootings. We all pay attention when the murder happens here in America.


Feb. 9th, 2007 10:17 am
jedusor: (i have a cat)
I'm really, really sorry for spacing on this yesterday: happy birthday, [ profile] 1firefly! You are the most awesome aunt in the universe, and I can't tell you how lucky I am to have you in my life. I love you! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
jedusor: (blame my parents)
Lincoln (flipping through a book): Six ladybugs! Five ladybugs!
Cordell: Five ladybugs, huh? Did all the rest get eaten?
Me: Yep. Pretty gruesome book, isn't it?
Lincoln (pointing to the agent of one ladybug's demise): Grasshopper! See the grasshopper?
Cordell: Aren't grasshoppers vegetarian?
Lincoln: Nope!
jedusor: (blame my parents)
Cordell: *putting a video game into a console* I hate Nintendo marketing.
Me: Hmm?
Cordell: I am sticking monkey balls into my Wii's slot.
jedusor: (pintsize cake mix)
Our Thanksgiving dinner was fantastic. )

After dinner and before pie, we went to Stowers to watch the Plaza lighting from the sixth floor. There were fireworks and something like nine helicopters circling, both of which made Link very happy. (The elevators and the sight of the moon also excited him. It was a busy half hour for a two-year-old.)
jedusor: (O.o)
Item 1: Allen has conceded, and the Dems have the Senate. Woo HOO!

Item 2: I just spent over $50 on two Christmas gifts. They're totally worth it, though. This is the first time in, um, ever that I've found a really good present for Bill (seriously, he's gonna love it), and Link's is adorable- thanks for the tip, [ profile] shoutingboy.


jedusor: (Default)

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