May 1, 2005

Reality Shows

I spent the last week or so knocking things off the to do list and visiting my brother's family, my mother's family, my father, and friends.

I'm all caught up. I've heard all about or seen enough to understand without discussing the latest developments, money problems, relationships problems, hurt feelings, joy, and frustration from the trials and tribulations belonging to each of these people.

At my brother's, I witnessed the frustration and the toll that raising a 3-year-old and supporting a family of three in California on less money per year than I will make this summer. It's hard. And I can't help but feel a compulsion to help. I also felt blessed to be part of the wonder that a brilliant 3-year-old can bring to any conversation: everything is new, wonderful, and fascinating. When did we lose that? Why do people think that money will make them happy? Maybe it just keeps you from being sad.

My mother was a typical mother-hen -- happy to see me and hungrily devouring each wedding detail I provided. Her joy at inclusion in the wedding plans is embarrassing -- it means more to her than I ever imagined, how did I not know?

My father was typical papa bear -- too gruff at times and awkward in his recovery, but funny, well-intended, and thankful for any time his kids could spare.

H's wedding is less than a month away, so my visit to catch up involved quite a bit of "thank-god-you-can-relate-and-even-if-you-can't-you-should" conversation. I left aware of more wedding details than I needed to hear, stories of more wedding-related family drama than I had even considered as a possibility, and a much firmer understanding of the reality of financial stress that comes with a wedding when the couple funds it themselves. It was a bit overwhelming.

After the trip home, I hosted R for a 3-day birthday visit consisting of many long (both drunken and sober) conversations on topics as varied as: the scarcity of resources, subway as the largest fast-food chain, gender roles, the beauty of highway 17, violence, the goodness of fried food, taxes, wedding atire and how it can go horribly wrong, foreign policy, caffeine, arsenic, and education. In addition to our fun, we fit in a visit to D during packing so we were able to pack up several boxes on D's behalf before the big move. What the hell else do friends since 6th grade do if they don't help one another move?

Finally, R & I headed to Santa Cruz, our traditional get-away-from-it-all town, for a night of good food, martinis, and great conversation with E2. After eating and drinking ourselves silly, we watched an easter procession at an orthodox church, and R & I finished up the night at Denny's, surrounded by high school kids. It was surreal.

Now, I'm home. My little sister has moved into the guest room for a while. I start my first summer associate gig tomorrow. I'm exhausted. And, nothing seems less important at the moment then the final I've got scheduled for Wednesday. This is a recipe for disaster.

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