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1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Went to Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Touched a whale shark.
Swam with hammerhead sharks.
Hiked to 16,000 feet up a volcano.
Threw a baby shower and became a sort-of (sort-of because we’re calling ourselves aunts, though we aren’t related at all) aunt to Nate and Shelly’s baby Owen.
Began to seriously contemplate giving Owen a sort-of cousin.
Earned my PhD. Officially became a Doctor!
Published a paper from my graduate work.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make an official New Year’s Resolution for 2010. Rather, maybe, the nebulous get healthy/stay healthy goal. And I think I’ve done pretty well. Mentally, I’m in a much better place now than I was a year or even two years ago. Physically, I’ve taken care of some healthy issues, really started exercising more, and have even lost a decent amount of weight. So all in all, I’d say I did pretty well. And frankly, I’ll probably make the same resolution. There’s always room for improvement.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yep, Shelly did! To a beautiful little baby boy on Thanksgiving morning. This is also the thing I’m most thankful for in 2010–that two of my best friends became parents to a beautiful, healthy baby. And that Owen is a wonderful baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, though we worried a lot about John’s grandmother due to all the things that contributed to her prolonged hospital stay, which included a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism. But she’s doing much, much better now.

5. What countries did you visit?
Ecuador and the Galapagos (same country, but vastly different). Both were amazing.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Health care through my job.
More financial security.
A larger living space.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Owen’s birth.
My fifth wedding anniversary.
My dissertation defense date.
My graduation ceremony.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Earning my PhD.
Getting healthy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
With the goal of mental health, I’m not answering.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I threw my shoulder out again on December 26th, 2009, and thus spent the first 3-4 months of 2010 re-healing it.
I was diagnosed with a fairly non-serious medical disorder that is now under control.
Mild aches and pains at times, especially when I took up running again.
But in general, pretty healthy, especially right now!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Baby clothes for Owen.
A trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Perfect Christmas presents for everyone. It took awhile to find just the right thing for each and every person, but I did! This is, quite honestly, my favorite part about Christmas.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and groceries and utilities and boring adult things.
Paying for my own health care for the second half of the year. Maybe I should have re-thought that whole graduating and no-longer-a-student thing. But it was worth it.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Owen’s birth.
Graduating with my PhD.
My new job.
Elizabeth’s residency here in the Bay Area, meaning she and Mark will continue to live here and we can see them all the time.
The San Jose Sharks pummeling the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL Conference semi-finals.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Black Eyed Peas “I gotta feeling”. (Was that even this year?) But it was a good year and a good song.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

A bit thinner. Maybe happier.
Overall about the same. And happy with that.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Scuba diving.
Running.
Exploring California like we always say we’re going to do.
But in general, it was a really good year just the way it was.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Not much. Complaining, maybe, but I think it was a good year. I like it how it was.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Iowa, surrounded by family, extended family, and in-law family. Laughing, cooking, taking pictures, sharing memories, gossiping, eating, staying warm.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Um, I didn’t watch much TV this year, honestly. Except for sports, like Sharks hockey and college basketball. John’s new favorite show is “Wild Justice”, which is pretty good. “Better With You”. “Better Off Ted”.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
“The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer. Love it. Highly recommend it.
Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink”, “Tipping Point” and “Outliers”.
Atul Gawande’s “Complications”.
I’m sure there were more, probably in the romance category, but none that come to mind.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Songs on the radio I could sing along with.
Handel’s Messiah, as always.
Christmas music, at least for the last month or so.
The group Cage the Elephant, who’s music is great for exercising.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I think I only went to see two movies this year. A chick flick with Elizabeth, though I can’t remember what it was. And “Eat, Pray, Love” with Shelly. Both were okay, neither were a favorite.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28. My dissertation was due to my committee about a week later, so I probably spent the day working on it. Went to dinner with friends, if not on my birthday, then right around that time.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
It was great as it was. For others, better health for John’s grandmother. Less heartache in the beginning of the year for my sister. A Stanley Cup for the Sharks instead of for Chicago.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Comfortable.

26. What kept you sane?
John. My friends. My family. Scuba diving. Running. Graduating.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

Learn to be happy with who you are, or work to be who you can be happy being.

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I just planned out the next six-ish weeks at work, and it includes working about four of those six weekends. Including Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. Including Thursday this week. Not for long, but still.

I feel like I’ve been focusing so much on finishing up at the current job, and spending my free time either exercising or sleeping, that I haven’t had much time for myself lately. Probably why I’m also throwing posts together before collapsing in bed.

But here are some things I want to do, little things, when I have time time:

1. Finally write up my trip stories about Papua New Guinea, as well as Ecuador and the Galapagos.

2. Make an indentation on the stack of unread books on my bedside table. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of John’s comic books because the (a) don’t take brain power, and (b) I can read a few pages and put it down instead of getting sucked in and reading all night.

3. Work on some of the recipes that I’ve been reading and drooling over in the Fine Cooking that my parents send John for his birthday. They all look so fabulous and tasty, but the last thing I want to do when I get home at 7:45, sweaty from the gym and exhausted from the day, is start in on a big meal.

4. Find some new running routes, either by poking around online or by driving to some different locales and then just running. I know this kind of falls into exercising, but I’m thinking more in terms of the long, casual runs on the weekends. The ones that are about time and distance rather than speed, that are about getting out and enjoying the day rather than making it through a workout before the gym closes. Same goes for bike routes, though it’s getting cold so those are maybe a bit limited by weather, seeing as how they’re longer than a run.

5. This sounds silly, but catch up to where John is on a couple video games. He has a bunch, and I play a few of them, and it would be nice to, say, finish editions I and II so I can start on III, which looks awesome.

6. Declutter my house. It needs it and I need it. But then again, we’re looking to move in the next six months, so maybe I leave the decluttering for the packing and unpacking process? But I feel like I need some change in my living environment.

7. Spend some quality one-on-one time with various friends. For example, Cara. We see each other fairly often, but mostly with John and James in tow. It’d be nice to get in a girl’s night. Throw in Shelly and subtract one-third of the alcohol (she’s pregnant) and it’d be a pretty awesome time.

8. Go scuba dive for fun. I haven’t done this in Monterey in forever. It’s all been classes, which have their own rewards, but are not about me, underwater, blowing bubbles and making friends with fish.

9. Watch more hockey and college basketball. I’ve got to soak it all in for the next however many months before the summer drought (and baseball) settle in.

That’s it, off the top of my head, but I’m thinking I need to make some time to do some of this. Even if it maybe means a few less workouts. Or a few days longer at the current job. My mental health could probably use some or all of the above, just to make me feel happier and more centered and more grounded in my life.

Thing One:

John and I are constantly quoting random snippets of things–books, movies, shows–at one another. They’re usually things that are relevant to the situation, but also we like to test one another to see if we can name the source.

One thing we did already, but with extra frequency, was quote Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country” at one another CONSTANTLY while in Australia. Neither of us could quite believe we hadn’t brought the book to read, but miraculously, the lady next to us on our flight home was reading it!

This book was (a) the first book to ever make me laugh out loud while reading, and (b) one of the reasons I so desperately want to go (back) to Australia and see it properly. Some day!

Thing Two:

I’m constantly making up songs that I sing to pretty much no one buy John and our animals. I have all sorts of songs, usually set to the tune of nursery rhymes, that I sing to the cats, and and an even larger repertoire that I used to sing to my baby bunny boy.

But while in Australia, I came up with a brand new one. While feeding the kangaroos and wallabys, there was a certain amount of material that accumulated on our shoes. Eww. Luckily, the zoo had a shoe cleaning station right outside, which was certainly handy.

Not perfectly clean, but good enough to pass muster.

However, this resulted in the following exchange the next morning while we were waiting to get on the plane to Port Moresby, PNG. I was singing. John wasn’t.

Me: I have ‘roo poo… On my shoe…
John: You’re cute.
Me: …What shall I do?…
John: You’re strange.

Good thing he’s learned to love my strangeness!

John is not the sort of person who rereads a lot of books. Once he’s finished it, he’s finished. With some exceptions. Same for movies–if he’s seen it, unless it’s been quite awhile or it’s a movie he really likes, that’s that.

I, on the other hand, am a rereader/rewatcher. There are very few books in my bookcase I haven’t read multiple times. I read them completely the first time, and after that, skim them in a “good parts version” where I skip boring parts but read most of the book. It’s something I’ve always done. So long as I still enjoy the story. More for my money, I suppose.

Something in “real life” will remind me of a passage from a book, and I tend to go and reread the book. If it’s part of a series, I tend to get sucked in and reread the whole thing. If I’m rereading, I can get through about 300 pages in 2-3 hours. It helps when you skip parts, I suppose.

I’m the same with movies. Not necessarily all of them, by any means. There’s some movies I’ll only watch once. Castaway, for example, or American Beauty–for some reason, now that I know the ending, I’ll never view the rest the same, so there’s no reason to rewatch it. However, with a lot of movies, I’m all about rewatching.

My favorite movies are ones I can watch over and over and over again. Maybe not back-to-back, but within a fairly short span of time. Of course, with John around, this hardly ever happens. But when he works late or on the weekend, and I’m not working or doing something else, I tend to rewatch a movie that he has no interest in watching.

Often, these fall into one of two categories. The first is just my all-time favorites. I love many things about these movies, and can watch them just about any time. In no particular order, those that come to me are:

  • Ocean’s Eleven (new one–I keep meaning to watch the old)
  • The Italian Job (ditto)
  • Princess Bride (ahh, true wuv)
  • Whole Nine Yards
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one, though the other two are good)
  • A Town Like Alice (this is a ridiculously long movie, something like 5 hours, but it’s so good–it’s my sick day movie for when I’m home all day in bed feeling gross but unable to sleep)
  • Night at the Roxbury
  • The Thomas Crown Affair
  • Usual Suspects

On a side note, it occurs to me that a lot of the above movies are about, among other things, revenge. Not physical, beat-’em-up, but more mind-games-revenge. I think what appeals to me is trying to figure out how they did whatever trick they pulled in the movie. Maybe. But maybe it’s just the revenge? Naw. I don’t think of myself as a particularly vengeful person. Verbally, to John, I probably am fairly vindictive about things that annoy me, but I’d never, for the most part, do anything about it. Maybe I have secret fantasies to, though? Hrm.

The second category is more movies I do love, but they also serve a purpose to me at times:

  • Emma
  • 10 Things I Hate About You
  • The Wedding Date
  • Sleepless in Seattle/You’ve Got Mail
  • When Harry Met Sally

With these movies, I tend to watch them when I’m feeling in one of two particular moods. The first is if I feel like I just sort of need to cry, to be a bit emotional and let it all out. Not necessarily that something in my life is making me sad and teary, but it can be cleansing in many ways to just have a good cry. You girls out there know what I’m talking about, right? And most of these movies are guaranteed to make me cry at some point. (I should point out, I’m a cryer at movies. Always have been. Always will be. No apologies.) The second is if I’m feeling a bit low and just need to feel good about something, with the “something” generally just being a happy ending.

John will generally watch most of the movies in the first category with me, if it’s been awhile. The second category, though, is where he draws the line. Poor boy. I try not to torture him, though.

Anyways, we recently discovered we could pay for an Xbox Live subscription and instantly stream movies from Netflix. Wonderful technology, that! Especially as John uses our Netflix subscription to get/watch all sorts of TV shows when he’s holding down the fort at
work and staying late. Now I can add movies and instantly watch them instead of never getting anything I want to watch on our queue. Voila! Wonderful!

Anyways, last night I randomly watched You’ve Got Mail. Not because I needed particularly to feel better or to cry, but mostly because I hadn’t watched it in a long time, and he worked late so it was the perfect opportunity. It made for a lovely little evening of “me time”.

And now, today, we got a little red envelope with Night at the Roxbury in it. Fun times! Especially because it means he was nice enough to not get his movie so I could get mine. He’s good to me, you know? And for me, too.

Thanks, guys, for the words of encouragement. I don’t know where this funk is coming from, but I’m doing my best to shake it. Part of it is work (it’s lovely to find out some coworkers think your work is crap and not worth doing), part of it is stress, and I think part of it is just a sort of nebulous “something isn’t right in my world” feeling that is probably just my own psychosis having some off days.

Anyways, this weekend has helped, I think.

John had the weekend off, the first he’s had in awhile. I haven’t gone into work at all, though I may have to this evening if Steven reports back that my viruses are about to take over the incubators. Mwahaha.

Instead, I’ve been lazy. And it’s felt good.

Yesterday, John made his version of huevos rancheros for breakfast. While not all that authentic, they were damn tasty. Then I spent about 4 hours loading music onto my computer.

In the Great Logic Board Replacement of 2008 (4th logic board in 3 years–Apple, take note!), I managed to somehow backup my iTunes preferences folder instead of my iTunes library folder. Brilliant, right? So I loaded CDs onto the computer while sitting on the couch reading. Only problem was that my (new, right?) disc drive only recognized about 1 in 10 CDs, so I had to reboot 9 out of 10 times. Hrm. Apple, you may be getting a call on your 90-days warranty for work. Oh, and the touchpad you replaced? The mouse click button only works on the left, and my thumb rests on the right. Convenient, that. Just don’t wipe my computer clean and give it back to me with Tiger on it, when I gave it to you with Leopard on it. Hrm? Mmmkay then?

We did some grocery shopping, and made a casserole for dinner, but mostly just spent the day doing nothing in our separate ways. I did practice my talk (committee meeting Tuesday, where I justify my existence and paycheck to my boss and 3 random people) a couple times, but also finished my book. It was lovely.

We were supposed to help with a scuba class, which also would have been lovely–compressed air therapy is always nice, and I love working with students. But with 10 students, 4 instructors, and 4 divemaster candidates in the pool, it was pretty packed. Greg and James F and Ben and John and I decided it would be better for the divemaster candidates to get some experience rather than for the guys to have our PADI-certified help in the pool. Ah well, it was nice to do nothing, too, instead of spending 6 hours in chlorine.

Today was a little more productive. More music loading, more cooking (Honey-Mustard BBQ shrimp with pinapples and peppers is being prepared as I write), more hanging out, but we also worked on the backyard. A bike ride was supposed to occur, but the backyard ended up taking more time. The porch was pretty piled with crap, mostly ours but some of Amelia’s, too. We threw away a lot of our crap, took a bunch of stuff to storage, and cleaned off the rest. It’ll theoretically be restacked nicely and neatly in a way that allows more use of the room on the porch. I’m trying to talk John into doing a July 4th BBQ, but we’ll see if that actually happens. Don’t hold your breathe.

I think the laziness and doing fun stuff has helped to get over some of the work-related stress and committee meeting stress, and the comments from the coworker. (Surprisingly, the best “get over it, it’s not worth it” came from the Lab Manager, who didn’t even know the comments had been made, but managed to say just the right thing anyway.)

I’m not sure about the nebulous “WTF is wrong” feeling, but since I can’t figure out what it is, I think I just need to get over it. If there’s anyone out there sending anti-Sarah thoughts my way, cut it out, would you?

Now I’m off to ransack the pineapple that’s being dissected. It smells too tasty to pass up.

*This was originally posted yesterday, Saturday the 17th, then deleted. Now I’ve reposted it. Sorry.*

(”Y’all” just for the benefit of Amelia.)

I’m bored. I’m about to whine–feel free to skip all this.

My mother used to tell me, only boring people are bored. Maybe today I’m being boring. Or there’s just nothing on my to-do-list that’s at all entertaining. It’s the weekend, and I want to be entertained.

John’s at work, and Amelia’s at home visiting family for a couple days. I have no one to play with. Wah, wah, wah.

There’s no more email to read, and I’ve finished my book.

There’s laundry to do (John got rib sauce down the front of his shirt and on his shorts last night at dinner), but that’s not fun. There’s a house to clean, but it’s too hot to move. Ditto on that for riding my bike, which was a vague plan I had. What I was planning to do at work today crashed and burned because yesterday, things didn’t go as planned. (That’s science, bitches. It works…sometimes.) There’s a present to be bought for Rhiannon (her birthday tomorrow, thus dinner plans tonight). There’s Safeway to be visited to buy milk and flea medication.

Yes, fleas. John brilliantly let the cats out in the backyard a week or two ago, and now I have seven, make that eight, random bug bites (just realized the random spot my knee that I was scratching wasn’t quite so random). Last time this happened, it was the beginning of the end. Or at least, fleas on the cats and the rabbit, and bites on me. I get covered in them. John doesn’t get bitten, but he’s at least sympathetic to the huge, swollen, red, nasty bites I get.

Ugh. Hope the Safeway sells is good enough. Last time, we had to go to the vet, and that was a wee bit expensive. Dear god, flea medication can cost a lot.

I should just get up off my lazy ass, go start the laundry, wait until I can throw it in the dryer, go get Rhiannon’s present, stop by Safeway, and voila! it’ll be time to head to dinner.

But. I. Don’t. Wanna.

I’m just being whiney. I know. Sorry. But it’s hot, and I itch.

Any ideas?

  • I’ve been feeling better since Wednesday. Maybe I just needed to spout off some nonsense and get it out of my system.
  • When it looks sunny and gorgeous and beautiful outside, it should be gorgeous and beautiful outside. Not sunny and 50 and windy as hell. Not that I’m complaining, since some of you are apparently supposed to get snow, but still!
  • My couch is much more comfortable than biking when it’s windy out.
  • Amelia and I went shopping, and I got a skirt for Dave’s wedding. Now I just need a top.
  • Boys can be very annoying sometimes, especially when you’re married to them.
  • Going into lab only to find out things didn’t work so you have no reason to actually go into lab isn’t fun. Especially when that’s the only reason you got dressed. 
  • Does anyone need a glass rose? I know where to get one if you need one…
  • Our white cat has gained 2-3lbs since we started feeding him the “adult cat” cat fud. Chubby McChubberson. The gray cat? Still a reasonable 10lbs.
  • The San Jose Sharks are playing tonight. Hope they win, for James and Cara’s sake.
  • I read a book this past week. That may have been the first one this year.
  • And my house is reasonably clean. Possibly also for the first time this year.
  • The local burger joint is just not that good. It’s always drafty and cold (that’s what you get for all those glass windows and poor heating), the onion rings are too greasy, and it’s just not quite worth it. Unless you’re dying for a milkshake and nowhere else is open.
  • MSNBC.com needs to not have a giant picture of a python when the caption is “Python tries to eat owner” or some such heart-stopping nonsense. Don’t think know people can freak out? Sheesh.
  • There are some random cars that have been parked in “my spot” on the street for awhile, and they need to move. And in the 30 minutes that I was at work, someone parked illegally in the spot I had. Facing the wrong way on the street. Asshats.
  • I thought there was more, but I guess not.

Hello again.

Yes, I know. I’ve been busy.

Yes, I know, I’m always busy.

First there was basketball. We met up with some classmates at one of the pubs around here to watch. Stanford creamed Cornell in the Battle of the Brains. Sadly, brains don’t do much for you on a basketball court. Brawn does. And two 7ft twins. Namely Brook and Robin Lopez. It wasn’t a very exciting game, simply because it was so one-sided.

Amelia and I left part way through the next game, USC and Kansas State. USC was losing pretty bad when we left, but had caught up by the time we made it to my place. Maybe we should have gone out and driven around again, because USC fell behind again and lost. Bah.

Then there was the Arizona game. Alas, alack. My boys did not quite pull it out. If they’d played the last two minutes like they played the second-to-last 2-4 minutes, they might have done it. But they imploded slightly. It sucked. Amelia watched it with me, and thought I might cry. I thought I might, too, but didn’t. Another year of Arizona basketball, over and done with. At least they made it into the tourney this year.

Friday was lots of work and more basketball–I skipped off around 4 to Amelia’s to catch the Oregon game, which they lost. So much for Pac10 dominance. We went 3-3. Friday was also the beginning of all the infamous upsets in this year’s NCAA Tournament. My bracket is on it’s last legs, gasping and wheezing for breathe now, but it’s still capable of limping along. Amelia’s is pretty much done for, sadly. Unfortunately, Rhiannon, who knows nothing about basketball, save for what we’ve taught her this season, is skunking everyone. Either we’re really good teachers, or she’s really lucky. Or a combination.

Saturday, Amelia and I went out for a bike ride. We managed to do 45 freakin’ miles, people. We went out with a guy she knows. He kept up with her pretty well, so I was still left in the back. However, I definitely pushed myself. Go me!

I was both completely pooped out and amazed with myself by the time we got done. I pushed harder on the hills, kicking my speed up about 1mph, and it was a lot easier. I still can’t keep up with Amelia, but I don’t think I was as far behind her as I could have been at times. I also did more standing up and pedaling, which also helped.

Somewhere in the middle of the ride, I found my rhythm and got going pretty good. I don’t know how far I went, but it felt good. The hills still wiped me out a bit, but I’m improving. The hills in the beginning still kicked my ass, but I think if we could do a bit of “warming up” or just finding our stride before we got there, I’d do better. I slowed down at the end, especially up Page Mill hill, but it’s big, so that’s okay. Then I got caught behind zillions of stoplights, but got to practice taking off, so it worked out okay, I suppose. By the end, I was ready to be done, but I felt good.

Also, the Cinderella Ride is in a week and a half at this point. It’s 60ish, 65ish miles. I was dubious about being able to do it–not so much that I’d give up, just that I’d be so far back from Amelia and her aunt that they’d have no fun waiting for me all the time, that I’d have no fun going so slow, and that I wouldn’t feel good afterwards.

After this ride, I felt like I could have done another 15-20 miles if it had been flats. And I think we did more hills than the Cinderella. So I should (hopefully) be good. Cross your fingers, will you?

Sunday was Easter. Happy Easter, people! We went up to my relatives’ house in Santa Rosa and had a great brunch, complete with mimosas. Clearly, all holidays should be celebrated with alcohol. I made Hot Cross Buns again, and even managed to put in the raisins this year. It was awesome. Right up until I had to go to work. Ah well.

Then, the last two days, have just all been crazy scientist stuff. Boring, you don’t want to know, it’s okay. I don’t particularly want to be doing it at times. But I’m wishing the latest batch of crazy experiments will get me that much closer to publishing my first paper.

So yeah, I haven’t sat down much lately, unless I’m doing something or driving. Haven’t even started the new book I got last Thursday, though I did read the “prologue” part this morning while finishing my coffee.

Mmmm, coffee. Maybe I’ll go find me some of that. Thank goodness for hospital cafeterias that include Starbucks.

We took off at the buttcrack of dawn on Saturday morning, heading for the wild, wild midwest. Despite various plane delays, we made it to Des Moines just after the storm hit, which resulting in some slipping and sliding down the runway (great fun) and a very slow and long drive to John’s family’s house. My parents were kind enough to pick us up and in theory get to spend the afternoon with us, but the weather being what it was, we headed straight north so that they could get home as soon as possible.

Upon arriving, John’s mom Pamela immediately offered us about 15 different kinds of Christmas candy. Now, normally, I may be prone to exaggeration. But here? Nope. Lots of candy. We had a good evening with his mom, grandma and oldest younger brother.

Sunday, we went with them to their big family Christmas. It was a lot of people that I’m now related to, but who I didn’t know beyond being able to sadly tick off in my head each family that never replied about the wedding. We weren’t big on their list, apparently. But they were all nice. We ate a lot of food, watched a lot of football, ate some more food, played a lot of Catch Phrase, had some snacks and talked. And ate more. Constant grazing, really.

Monday, Christmas Eve, we woke up and sat around most of the day. John’s sister and her current flame arrived, and we did presents. Then church (my first Lutheran service, too). Then more presents and dinner. John and I got clothes, cash, books, and all sorts of little random things. Good times.

Then it was off to my family’s celebration. We arrived just in time for dessert to be cleared away, which was good, as we’d been eating nonstop for two days. With the possible exception of when we were snacking. However, lest you worry that we starved, my mom had graciously cracked a bunch of crab for us, and provided it for our grazing contentment. Then church (Episcopal, this time) and home. We stayed up talking with my cousin for quite awhile before crashing.

Christmas day, the family all convened. It was my mom’s sister, my mom’s older brother and wife and daughter, and my mom’s younger brother and son. Two other sisters and their families didn’t come. Great time was had by all.

Though tradition states we do stockings, breakfast, presents, the degree of impending crabbiness from my mom was enough to make breakfast of great importance. And the homemade scones (pronounced “on” not “ohn”–Scottish aunt and all) were delicious. The stockings and family pictures were also good.

We’re also the family that does presents like this: everyone gets one, then we each unwrap, one at a time, with lots of ooohing and ahhhing. But with 11 people and the pile under the tree, I was vetoed it was decided that we’d just go at it. John and I made out like bandits: a griddle, a calphalon skille, a whustof knife, clothes, books, gift cards, towel sets, kitchen supplies, etc, etc, etc. Everybody got lots of kitchen loot, courtesy of Amy’s job in a cooking store and her subsequent 30% discount. It still took us about 2 hours. The presents we took were a great hit, especially the 6-pack of wine.

In the afternoon, we ran to John’s family’s house to do stockings and eat more. Then back home for some more food. Christmas cookies had to be decorated and eaten, ham made, potatoes, salad, the other salad, and Christmas pudding. Fully lit, of course. With brandy butter. We actually got the thing to stay afire for quite awhile, what with all the brandy.

All in all, a very lovely day.

Wednesday, my mom’s younger brother and his son left, which meant we all woke up even earlier than on Christmas, as they had a very long drive. After waving goodbye, we went on a long walk through the neighborhood. This is actually one of my favorite holiday traditions: my family always goes on a long walk. We did at Thanksgiving, we did Christmas day, we did the day after Christmas.

After showering and sitting around for quite awhile, we then went shopping, as all good Americans do. John got a bunch of clothes that he desperately needed, I got some pants and shirts, and we contributed to the local economy. Very thoughtful of us, eh?

Then it was home to steaks. One of my great aunts usually sends a giant box of the Hickory Farm-type stuff: summer sausage, cheese, crackers, dried fruit, chocolate. This year, instead, she sent a GIANT box of Omaha steaks. And pork chops. And fish. And more steak. And stuffed potatoes. And since there’s 6 siblings in my mom’s family, she sent a lot of all of it. Funny thing is, she usually sends the entire thing just to our family, so no one else gets any. This year, it was even better stuff, and we got to share it. Good timing and delicious!

Thursday morning, we all went out to breakfast, where we convinced Amy to write her name and number on a sugar packet and leave it for the cute waiter who’d been giving her Looks. We’re all waiting with baited breathe to see if he calls. No bets have been placed.

Then it was decided that the remaining brother/wife/daughter should leave, as they also had a long drive and there was snow predicted for today (Friday). John and I had to catch a plane in late afternoon, so we packed up, realized there was NO FRICKIN’ WAY we were getting it all in carry on, and ended up checking two bags and two boxes. Lots. Of. Loot.

We got delayed again leaving Des Moines (lack of a plane will do that), but luckily our flight in Chicago was also delayed. Otherwise we’d have had 6 minutes to make it. But we got home safe and sound, with all our luggage, and James and Cara were kind enough to come get us.

And that was our trip. Yay Christmas!

It’s always hard, after a long break, to get back into the mindset of work. I haven’t done ANYTHING work-related since last Saturday, and believe you me, my mental health is so much better now than it was a week ago. I don’t feel like snapping at anyone and everyone, and aside from random back pain throughout the night (scuba injury long ago that reawakens often) and the cold John gave me (cough, cough), I slept fine.

No waking up in the middle of the night wondering what I’d forgotten to do at work, or what I’d left of my list of TO DO for the coming days, or what I’d messed up. No laying awake for hours mentally going over what needed to be done and how to do it.

I honestly feel so much more mentally healthy. However, the number of emails and stuff to catch up on is just heinous. I’ve actually done very little work-work today, and mostly caught up on lab correspondence and lab duties and whatnot. And met with Dr. M to review my thesis committee meeting, and plan how we’ll deal with our guest lecturer on Friday–apparently I get to give the lab talk for him.

(Insert heavy sarcasm here.) Yippee! Yay me! (Okay, we’re done now. Maybe.)

But, the best part was, as I went to go actually start some physical bench work, Steven told me not to bother, to do it tomorrow when I have all day. Woot! Love it when a mentor tells you NOT to work. I may be able to forgive him for whatever he did the other week that pissed me off so badly.

So here I am, kind of twiddling my thumbs, waiting for Journal Club to role around in half an hour or so, after which I can flee! And then…unexpected free time! Not sure what I’ll do with myself, but I’m thinking baking. Or watching a movie. Or reading a book. All things I haven’t done in a while. Of the things I now have the mental capability of dealing with.

I’m actually thinking of having a Holiday party in a week or two just so I can have Thanksgiving-type food and have leftovers and have tasty stuff again! My mom had a killer dressing recipe (I have it on good authority that it can only be stuffing if it’s, well, stuffed), and a pie crust recipe that involves VODKA. Now that’s my kind of pie! Apparently the vodka makes the crust moist, but then evaporates to leave it flaky? Trust me, you had me at VODKA. Oh, and I suppose we’ll have turkey. And then we can make a Thanksgiving casserole. Oh dear god, that sounded good!

And really, I just haven’t done any theraputic baking recently, and need to do some. You know things are getting bad when your therapy (baking and reading trashy romance novels for me) gets lost in the hubbub of being too damn busy being stressed.

*sigh*

Also, I’ve got basketball in the mix now, and even though my beloved Arizona boys put up a good show last night, they just couldn’t pull it together in the last couple minutes. (PASSING!! CATCHING!! NO TURNOVERS!! FORTHELOVEOFGOD BOYS I CAN PLAY BETTER THAN THAT!!! Btw, great job catching up to and hanging with #4 Kansas, but SERIOUSLY!!! You’re going to have to do better than that!!!) Basketball at least ensures that on one or two nights per week, I’m out of lab and home by 7pm in order to catch the games. We’re (Amelia and I) also working on bringing Rhiannon into the cult that is basketball fandom in order to get her out of lab.

But actually, what I’m really hoping I’ll have time for now that I seem to be back on my mental feet, stability -wise, is being there for others who aren’t stable. Amelia, specifically, who’s having some “fecal matter hit the rotary propeller”, as the case may be. Family-wise, work-wise, health-wise, love-wise, she’s having a time of it right now. Last Friday night, what was supposed to be a “Help Sarah recovery from committee meeting” turned into a “Help Amelia by listening and refilling her wine glass” night. And then this Saturday a bit, too. I think that sometimes I get wrapped up in my own little world and don’t have the ability to deal with other’s problems. I promise you, though, that has GOT to change. She needs me, and I’m going to be there.

So, no more crazy hectic weeks at work. I’m going to maintain this new-found stability. Even if we are gearing up and getting back into the swing of things, I’m going to be swinging slightly less. Or simply with less enthusiasm.

Hrm, that sentence alone doesn’t really convey what I want it to convey, but oh well! We’ll see what fun search terms it brings up! Hello all you random people who show up because of it!

Here’s to remaining sane through the rest of the holidays!

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