Just when we all thought it couldn't get worse... The post about Turtle visiting is in the works...but after that I opted to be done with lies and falsehood and leave Idaho behind. Who knows if I'll ever get my money?

So I moved a bit more south, back into Utah. Near Logan to be exact. Smithfield. I was there last in May and wrote this about going with my dad back to his roots. Now I live here.

The job hunt began. It was going well. I had applications out, and people were becoming interested. Then another level of disaster I could not ever have imagined...

I was walking home from the library last night and needed to cross Main St. so I could go home and have dinner with my grandparents. I waited patiently until it was clear to cross, because I don't like making a bunch of cars stop, and whose to even guarantee they all will, anyway? I was across three of the four lanes, then I suddenly turned my head to the right about half a second before being plowed into by a white car going about 50mph.

Someone hit at that speed should have died. Or at least broken their back. Or their neck, and been paralyzed. God caught me. And this is proof that he loves me, because all things considered, all that happened is miraculous. Especially when you consider that (according to witnesses, I don't remember a single thing) the impact threw me up onto the hood, across the windshield, over the top, and down the other side.

Landing on the other side of the car took all the skin from my right hip to my right shoulder and made it ground beef. Scraped/bruised/gone, etc. Also, the initial impact broke my right leg in 2 places below the knee. So badly that when they operated on it, they set the bones, put in metal rods, and then left the incisions open because of what they are calling "compartmental swelling" which could apparently swell to the point of closing off my circulation and me losing the appendage. So they just wrapped it in gauze which continues to bleed through and have to be changed. They are going to go in again tomorrow and look/clean it again, then maybe sew it up all the way on Tuesday.

Likewise, I scraped the skin on the left side of face, and got some stitches there. Also, the skin on all my knuckles on my left hand is gone. I guess I also have a mild concussion.

All things considered, it could have been much worse. Much, much
worse.

So I'm recuperating, but I'm afraid this is going to delay
things even more. Argh.

Please keep me in your prayers. If you want to come visit I'm at the Logan Regional Hospital Room #335. The direct phone is 435-716-3335. They have said there are not "set" visiting hours, but they prefer no crying 2yearolds after midnight, so plan accordingly.

Thank you for all your phone calls today, expressions of concern, and general worry for me. God made me into one tough cookie. So I have a broken leg, and some blocked memories, but that's about all. I'll get through this with your help.

Love you all,
Thanks,
~SpAz

PS, if they tell you that I'm not here you can ask for me by what they have dubbed my "trauma name": Minnesota Vikings Zzzlo. Go figure on that one. Supposedly it's so nosey media people can't get my info. But it kept some friends from calling me today too, so lame.

So when I got back from Florida, I was looking forward to settling in and enjoying the rest of my winter in the mountains. I mean, I bought my snowboard and gear months ago! And I hadn't been snowmobiling yet either. When I landed in Boise on the 6th, my cousin Travis picked me up, which was odd, since Kels lives closer and usually gets me.

He took me to his house, made me feel welcome, and I slept in his 3-yr old's bed (since the kids and wife are in Montana). Next day I just sat at his house pretty much and did whatever I could find to keep me occupied while waiting for my uncle. I ventured out of the house once, but Trav lives in a very small town, and he's not near downtown either, so I had to walk pretty far. Found a pizza hut though and got some grub.

My uncle finally came late that night and we loaded up and drove off. By the time we got home I was beat and it was past midnight so I went to sleep.

January 8th, I woke up and went downstairs, excited to be back. Only I shouldn't have been based on what happened next. My uncle's lease ran out December 31st, and he gave the lodge back to the owners. When I left Dec 17th, the owner was working out a deal with some potential buyers. Turns out that deal went sour and the owner just took it back. Raul was still cooking, but begrudgingly so and only because he hadn't found anything better yet.

When I went back upstairs the owner was fixing the furnace. He turned to me and said, "I need you to clean your room out. Today."

Excuse me? I thought I'd misheard him. "Today." Nope, he was serious. I couldn't believe it. I'd done so much not just for my uncle, but him as well. All that firewood we got was now keeping his place warm. Not to mention all the cleaning and organizing I'd done. I come back and this is how I get treated? Then he added that if I wanted anything food, water, etc. I had to pay for it like a regular customer. (Arrangement with my uncle was anything, anytime, all free).

I did the only thing I could, immediately called my uncle and locked myself in my room. My uncle came down and "negotiated" (where would I go?) a few more days. I just stayed in my room, and stole food when no one was looking (because I'm evil and to spite him for being a [expletive]). That night after we'd closed, Raul came to my room and gave me the low-down on the failed deal and what else happened. Apparently one of the owner's daughters (two of which were now helping him run the place) had tried to break the door down in my absence. O.O SHE WHAT? He said the only reason they didn't actually go through with it was because they didn't want to damage the door frame. I'd noticed when I returned that all the other rooms had been opened and emptied. So then my stomach just completely knotted up in a ball and I couldn't breathe or sleep or eat and I wanted only to not be there anymore. The plan had been for me to go to the valley Friday and Saturday then come back on Sunday to teach my class, and figure out in the early part of the next week what I was going to do jobwise. Now housewise as well. I decided that if I followed that plan, when I came back, my stuff would be gone. So I couldn't.

I slept fitfully. As soon as I woke up on the 9th I called my uncle and said, "Look, I really need you to just listen to me for a minute. I know you're busy, you've got tons to do today, but I can't stay here. I try and pay attention to my feelings and instincts (read: the Spirit), and I need to move out. NOW." My belongings weren't safe, and I was beginning to feel that neither was I.

My uncle thankfully agreed that we could head in the direction of Boise. I hung up the phone and packed. Everything. In under 3 hours. (Isn't that AMAZING?!) Then Tobias showed up with the blue van. God knew exactly what he was doing. The van had been up here for a while kicking around, and it was totally extra. Better yet the seats had been taken out before it came up some months ago. Which means I could put all my stuff in there and have it fit! By that night, I was out. Out of hell and away from those ingrates who wanted to work me over for the little I've got left. On that note, at one point the owner mentioned that if I so desired I could stay on in that room for the low price of $600/month. Excuse me while I rant: $600 A MONTH? ARE YOU FRIGIJICKING KIDDING ME?! DO YOU KNOW, DO YOU KNOW WHAT I COULD GET FOR $600/MONTH?!?! THAT SPACE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A BATHROOM! $600/MONTH?!!? END RANT.

I was even nice enough to wash my linens and put back together the 2nd bed I took apart when I moved in. But I was so glad to get out. Then we drove down to Boise and my stuff got dumped in Trav's garage.

But for about half a day (for those of you waiting for this explanation) I really DID live in a van. And the next weeks felt like it since I'd just thrown everything wherever it would go, and didn't know/remember and didn't feel like digging through my myriad boxes to find it. I was living out of a bag on a couch having no purpose, no real place, and of course, no job. So I felt like a hobo. Living in a van. On Chicken Dinner Rd (inside joke).

My uncle assured me that he had a lead on a job up in McCall along with a flat to stay in that was in downtown, within walking distance of everything. Okay, perfect. No. It was more empty promise, more false lies. I knew it would be, but I made myself believe anyway.

I spent a week with Turtle and hung out with Tobias (future post) to pass some of the time, but the rest was job hunting and sitting on a couch from the time I woke up until I went to sleep. It drove me nuts (and gave me the opportunity to look into TV shows I should be watching, but until now, haven't...probably also a future post).

Anyway.

Basically I've been unemployed since the end of November, not to mention the part where I have yet to be P A I D for my work the last 4 months... sigh. NEVER MIX WORK AND FAMILY. IT'S A TRUE SAYING PEOPLE. EVER. Once Turtle left it was time to get out, get on, and find the new beginning that never seems as exciting to me as it probably should. Because I'm tired of my uncle telling me one thing, and then it being another, which is what always happens. I'm still carrying around two checks from the 1st which I was assured which I left December 17th I would be able to cash on New Year's. More non-truth.

This will be my 7th mailing address in the last 12 months... I don't know if I should love that, hate it, relish it, brag about it, feel ashamed; just, there it is.

I'm out, and the nightmare is over...except the part where I get paid. *SIGH*

So. Now that it's 22 days into January, I'm finally ready to approach January 1st.

And that whole...resolution thing.

Except that I hate it. And will not hesitate to admit that I don't understand what fuels it. Why is the beginning of a new year a time to lift and inspire yourself to do new and incredible things? I'm not trying to be prideful or vain in saying this, but... I usually do that on a daily basis.

I don't find anything particularly thrilling or exhilarating about the little number at the end of the date going up one more (and I'm not trying to be a pessimist about this either; just honest). Ooo! Now I get to write a NINE. I must vow to radically alter my life based on this minuscule-but-so-critically-important difference!

I mean you read what happened at my house on New Year's right? Whoopdela...blah.

So yeah. I don't really make resolutions. Should I resolve to resolve? lol But I want to just absolve my resolve instead and continue being me. What if I just finish my to do list for once in my life? I guess I could force myself to tease all you poor people who want me to join the evil demon possessing your souls...

CHANGE MY LIFE 360% SHATTERING GOALS OF 2009:

1. Join Facebook.

e.e I can't believe those words just splattered on my page. Now you are all going to hold me to it too. But will I? Bwahahaha *contemplates erasing this post* Merh.

Even now... I still have 343 more days to torture you.

Anyway, if I had to reminisce about New Year's I'd say the best ones were in High School when we all went to Erin's house and played pool and ate food. Because good times and good friends. I guess part of what I'm really trying to say (if that be anything at all) is that I'm missing some essential part necessary for me to be an addict (read: partaker) of these traditions. Guess I need more friends who are wild New Year's partiers, eh? (read: get wasted?) Something like that. That'll be my next resolution I guess. :P

DISCLAIMER: Ain't you figured it out yet?

January 4th, 2009 - Sunday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Being a new year church was now at a new time. 9am. EW. I dragged myself out of bed though I didn't want to, and I definitely didn't iron my shirt (though I got out the board and the iron). Whatevs. Sunday school was even worse than last week (if that's possible), and made me want to go inactive it was so non-spiritually enriching. And I even went to just the last 15 minutes of it. Before that I was sitting on the couch in the foyer with J and his friend. I try really hard to be non-critical, and understanding/accepting of all...but sometimes I just can't. It's the darkness inside me. People can be so naive. Some lady made a comment, "I’m really excited to study the revelations..." this was after the lesson was over and the teacher hadn’t called on her. She was like, "I want to study, blah, blah, blah," and you know she’s not going to. Priesthood was more of the same boringness (I'm really glad I don't go to church here in the FL) was lame too, and I tuned out once I got my dad to give me the Sudoku book.

After that J and I blatantly sinned. And ended up being glad we did (keep reading). We went to play Frisbee. This time I was on his team, and we had some great teamwork and rocked the other team, except when two of our players didn’t care and/or swatted the Frisbee to ruin the winning catch. We said some pretty non-PG things about them and their frivolity that I can't write here. This time I did my best yet, making two or three scores, and getting in some good hits/dive/falls as well. Ended up covered head to toe in dirt, which means I played good and I played hard. One catch I made was in the air, and as I came down with it, one of their players collided with me, and I went tumbling...but held on to the Frisbee! Ha! It was great fun for all.

So here's why we were glad we'd decided to sin and play. If we hadn't gone to play, then CS wouldn't have ever got out of his car (J had to get him), which means Cam wouldn't have seen us and come over on his bike. Had neither of those two everyone else who came late would have gone home (we had the frisbee) and there would have been no game. And an old man would have DIED.

Right as our game finished there was this old dude kicking a soccer ball on the field next to us. He kicked the ball maybe like three times and then just keeled over. Flat our dropped to the ground (busting his chin open in the process).

We all rushed over there and he was barely breathing and we called 911. And they were SO RETARDED I HAVE NOT WORDS. Seriously, the firehouse is close enough to the park that had I sprinted I could have run to the flipping building myself. It's around the corner! LITERALLY! But the dispatch lady was like where is that park? AROUND THE CORNER. And they kept asking inane questions like how old he was, and what was his name, and where did he live, etc. LADY WHAT PART OF HE'S DYING SEND A [EXPLETIVE^4] AMBULANCE DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND!?!?!?! The stupid ambulance took like 10 MINUTES to get there (around the corner remember?) The guy had stopped breathing by the time they got their butts in gear and got over there. Ridiculous. He seriously almost died because they took forever and didn't know where the park down the street was. JUST UNBELIEVABLE. Thank the Lord, they revived him when they got there. The guy came to and was hilariously belligerent.

EMS: "Sir, you need to come with us to the hospital. You just had a heart attack."
Man: "No, I don't want to."
EMS: "It's not a choice, you have to."
Man: "Screw the hospital."
EMS: "Sir, if you go home tonight, you could die. Your heart is very weak."
Man: "Screw dying..."

LOL. Anyway we were glad to have played and been able to save a life by doing so. Went home and took an extra long shower to scrub all the dirt off, then went to my puzzle with a vigor. I was finishing and finishing that night. I used the time puzzling to listen to music and talk on the phone (I love multi-tasking!) I talked to BW, Brit, and Turtle (once she finally woke up!) and just put in pieces. Cheryl called too. Krys had her friend Yulia over from Iowa because their sons were playing in the band at Disney, so their parents came over and we invited them to dinner. I paused my puzzle to make an appearance, played two games of durok, and then went back. The last 180 pieces went really fast, and my dad helped a little, so did 'Stas but I easily put 5 or 6 pieces to their one. Here was the end result:



I TOLD you it was 70s psychedelic acid trip. I did the whole thing without the box because looking at it made my head hurt. I was so glad it was over. After that I chatted on the phone with Brit some more until I fell asleep.

January 5th, 2009 - Monday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Woke up at 10:30. Helped 'Stas with school and pretty much packed and cleaned house. It’s amazing how absolutely disastrous the room looked. I shoulda took before'n'after pics. For real, I don't think I've ever trashed a room in the course of three weeks that badly before.

Mom got Ry out of school early so we could go to the movies, lol. Then we hit up the Dollar Theatre to see City of Ember.

Ack, ack, ack. If you have NOT read the book, GO see this movie right now! Because you will love it! So good! If you HAVE read the book (which I loved) DO NOT see this movie. You will HAAAAAAATE it.

Grade: C (only because I read the book, otherwise it's much higher). I tried really hard to be objective, but couldn't do it. I couldn't. They changed too much. Major pieces of the plot, not just minor things. I was so incredibly disappointed (but still love the book, so it's okay).

After that we had dinner while J finished packing. We got a late start on the road (I was driving him 2.5 hours back to college) and then stopped at my Grandma's. We did so because she always complains that I never come see her, and the drive went right past her house, and I don't know how much longer they'll be here. So we stopped. Had some ice cream, chatted, and I helped her beat one of her Freecell games she was stuck on while J talked hockey with Gpa (who is turning 90 in February! Can you believe that?!)

Then back on the road. We finally arrived in Gainesville, I helped J dump his stuff, and then around midnight I was finally back on the road to go home (2.5 hours again). I talked to Turtle with my earpiece and was glad for her company because it helped me stay awake. The fog was ridiculous and I couldn't see anything for most of the trip, but made it safely home and to bed. I was supposed to hang with Bro one last time before I went back, but that didn't happen because he had to go to bed. Sadness.

January 6th, 2009 - Tuesday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'm out of outline...lol I got up early and went to the airport. My plane was like 2 hours late leaving Orlando which was dumb since there was no ice or snow or anything inclement like that. Merh. I only made my connecting flight because they held it. But then once we were ready to depart, some pin was stuck to the plane so we couldn't leave. Really? They tried to spit on it (GENIUS) and of course that didn't help. Seriously we sat there for like an hour while they got it unstuck (the de-ice trucks were frozen too?) Yesh. When I got back my cousin picked me up and took me to his house to spend the night.

January 7th, 2009 - Wednesday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Back in Idaho! Woot! Only I spent the whole day on a couch staring at my computer. Because I had to wait for my uncle to come get me. *SIGH*

It did give me a chance to reflect on my trip overall though.

I can't say it wasn't without its heartbreak and pain, and I still don't know what's going to happen with my parents, who are now talking, but only on the surface (I still FAIL to comprehend how it's possible to sleep next to someone when you have that open wound between you and neither one is doing anything to staunch the loss of blood... and love?); that said, I CAN say this this trip was MUCH better than previous years.

MUCH. I can confess that I had fun. I enjoyed myself. I didn't think of committing suicide even once.

I got a tan. :)

When I was on my way to Florida, I professed the desire/need for something, anything to be different. IT WAS. I'm chalking it up to the fact that I got out of the house this time. It was not all sitting, all waiting, all video games, all StarCraft. I played frisbee. (And will now confess that I am more addicted to that sport than Geocaching). I went geocaching. I went skateboarding. I went to the beach. I went to rock climbing. I played Sardines.

Sitting there looking back, and looking ahead, I spit that I'd rather stay in Florida with my family than go home to Idaho. Which is... unthinkable. But true.
Half of me even wants to move home (but not live AT home)...

Because though my trip is over, (and so is the log, praise all gods), the journey is not. And the next patch of road looks excruciatingly difficult.

And I'm not sure I'm ready. But I did more than survive this year, so the trip is/was a success. And that counts for alot.

DISCLAIMER: Like hopscotch, only better.

December 31st, 2008 - Wednesday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When we finally woke up, Bro wanted to try out caching but I didn't have any of my stuff. So I ran home, dropped J, who wanted nothing to do with caching, and nabbed 'Stas. Then we hit UCF campus with the 4 of us, plus Bro's roommate, and roommate's girl friend. We hit 16 in one day and it was so fun. I'll tell you about one. Because we got the cops involved and this is a great story.

Inevitably when you are poking around a college campus with 6 people, you're going to get a little bit of attention. We were looking for a particular small cache hidden in a newspaper bin, which was being elusive. Roommate's girl friend looked, Bro looked, I looked WITH a flashlight, and then Ry made the find by poking his little head in there. We'd looked there seriously 3 times already! So right as we pull it out and I'm opening it to sign the log, a cop pulls up and asks what's up.

Bro instantly replies, "We're geocaching."

Cop hears "we're Jew catching."

BWAHAHAHA. Cop: "Excuse me?"

Bro: "Geocaching." (cop hears the same thing)

Cop: "That... well that sounds particularly anti-Semitic. You're going to have explain that one. So Bro and Roommate moved closer and explained the situation, this time with the cop being a little more intelligent and a more careful listener. Once he finally understood, he moved on, but was still suspicious of us, and followed us around to the next two caches we went to. Good times on that one.

After a long and arduous day of treasure seek-and-find we headed back to Bro's who was going out for New Year's. Me and the little ones went home. I sat around logging my caches, we played some StarCraft (it worked this time) and then finally (after I'd been asking for like three hours) Krysten wanted to watch The War. This movie is easily one of my top three movies of ALL time, so I reverence it and was so excited to show it to my family. Only it sucked. Ry was loud the whole time, getting ice, eating, commenting, and really got on my nerves. Krys and her BF basically laughed and flirted through the whole thing... when they weren't kissing or texting. J just sat on his computer and didn't watch at all. I thought my dad would like it too, but he didn't bother to come for the beginning and went in and out for the whole movie. I was pissed. How dare they disrespect such a great piece of work! I felt like I had just cast some of my pearls before swine and been trampled upon. Ry made us pause it in the middle because midnight came. We turned on the ball drop for all of 15 seconds, which was 15 too much for me. I didn't want to see Smiley Miley or the Jonas Bros. *vomits* Once the movie was back on, we watched the rest. Ironic thing is that the movie is about fighting and when it's worth it, and when it isn't. Ry continued gabbing and I EXPLODED. Like when I get really angry (very rare) blew up, and I seriously felt so violent that I almost punched the little man in the face. Literally. Somehow I just screamed, and the kid wisely shut up. As soon as the movie was over, (now 1am) I left. Walked out of the house, said I was going for a walk, and I left. Called Turtle all but in tears. Decided to go down the walking path, even though I guess it's closed at night (didn't know that) and there were no lights. I just wanted to sit on the benches over the river and pout. And be pissed. And wish this vacation was over. Well, it ended up being much further than I anticipated, so I eventually doubled back in the pitch dark. Then when I was going I suddenly heard this ruckus in the leaves to my right. A loud and large ruckus which scared me stiff. All I could think was 'giant Gator' and tried not to scream. My parents are under the impression that it was just a raccoon but it sounded 3x too big for that. I thought it was going to chase me, but I kept walking, almost running, and trying to be calm and not scream. There was no way I was going to shine my pocket flashlight and find out what was terrifying me. Once I was back inside my gated neighborhood, I saw a real life armadillo which was sooo cool. I really wanted to scare him so he'd curl up, then I could kick him like a soccer ball and see how far he went; but I didn't. Just went home and slept, angry that I had wasted such a good movie on such as they.

The only thing I can't complain about is the food. The food was good.

January 1st, 2009 - Thursday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I was so mad the night before I slept until 10am. Then I went caching with Ry and 'Stas again. This time by car because I wanted to hit so far away caches that had bugs in them. Some bugs were there, others weren't. After that back into town and a quick illegal park job later we were making a find under a footbridge. Nice! Then back home for the family event of the day.

ICE.

Really? My family has officially lived here too long. They wanted to drive 30 minutes to see something that I can get outside my window. LOL Whatev. Family event. So I went along. We had to stand in line for a freaking hour and 15 minutes. To see ice and snow. Bwahhhhh.

In ICE's defense the whole thing took an hour and a half to walk through, and some of the ice sculptures were pretty freaking sweet (my bro and mom have pics... check back frequently and I'll hopefully get them soon).

At the end they had these ice slides and we were going to race, but they were different heights so it didn't work out. My sister Krys took pictures of us sliding and didn't get to slide, then we were all the way at the end she told us that. She said it was fine that she didn't, but Bro and I wouldn't hear anything of the sort, grabbed her and drug her back into the exhibit where we talked through in about 30 seconds, lol back to the slides. After that we went out to eat at Golden Corral, which is almost as bad as McD's. But I will admit they had good Okra and even better spinach. But the Mac N Cheese was NASTY.

After that I either puzzled or played StarCraft until bedtime.

January 2nd, 2009 - Friday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Frisbee Round 3. Except everyone came this time, and there were 40 of us. 40. So we split into 4 teams and had a frisbee tourney. J wasn't on my team, but I had a cool captain and played hard anyway. This time I even scored. Yes! We easily beat all 3 teams and were the champs. Go team! Home, shower, then cook like crazy. Last Sunday I signed up to have the missionaries come over, because fun. And an excuse to cook.

I made Chicken Squares (a triple batch), my specialty asparagus, and candied oranges. My mom made some holiday punch to top it off. My dad entertained the elders while the cooking finished then we sat down to eat. One of the missionaries had been transferred since Christmas Eve Frisbee, but the other one was still there. We asked the usual questions and settled in for good grub, which they loved. And E. Shepherd thought I was freaking hilarious. :)

After they went back to work, we managed one game of StarCraft before 'Stas came in with her friend and wanted to play Manhunt. Night games with little kids, lol. I'm bigger, and can run way faster...yeah, I'm in. ManHunt devolved into Sardines when she only managed to round up 5 people, three being our family. Ry's friend had to leave before we even played through one round which left us four. We played mostly in our yard and I, of course, had the coolest hiding spots, including when I climbed up on top of our playcenter and lay on the roof. Ry found me, but it took the girls like 10 more minutes to do so. Nice hiding. When Turtle called I quit and went inside, and talked to her til I went to sleep.

January 3rd, 2009 - Saturday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
J was supposed to wake me up early so I could go to the beach but the punk left without me. LAME. When I got up no one was home. I called my parents and they were at their parents down in Leesburg. I woke Ry and 'Stas up. Today was the day to fulfill their wants from me. 'Stas wanted most to eat at Waffle House since no one else in the family will go. So I googled it close to a cache I still needed to hit, and we were off. Google Maps is a dirty liar! There was no Waffle House anywhere nearby! 'Stas didn't want to go caching, but I needed to make the grab. It was super hot, and back in a wilderness area filled with spiderwebs and not far from a lake full of gators. Yergh. We were supposedly looking for a "shack" but we looked all around the coords and saw nothing building-like at all. Argh. I started decoding the extra-help hint...look up? No way... it was in a freaking birdhouse up a tree! 'Stas made the dash even though she's afraid of heights and we followed her up. Cool hide. On the way out we ran into a guy just trying out his GPS with his wife and daughter doing a cache we hadn't tried for. I don't know what was wrong with his GPS but it was messed up. After the trek out we drove super far to the next nearest Waffle House (thanks Bro for the location). Candice called me on the way and I screamed into the phone more than once about traffic or missing my turn lol. The whole time we waited for our food I listened to her boy dilemmas, then chowtime. Service was decent, my food was way better than in Ohio, but my Pops called saying they were home so we had to eat and run.

After the rush back home, I plugged in to download more hides, but the printer wouldn't work so we went with some close to home I already had. Mommers and Pops joined the hunt and we were now 5 hunting for treasure. At the first one, there was a pile of dirt I thought it might be in, which turned out to be a colony of fire ants... ow ow ow! I only got bit twice though before I got them all brushed off thankfully. Then we hit one at the gas station which was really funny because it was totally a LPC and my mom thought it was super suspicious of us finding a pill container hidden there, thinking we looked like drug dealers. LOL Nice.

Then we hit a nearby park and the fire station. We were driving back home and my parents opted it was time for me to do what Ry had been begging me to do since day 1 I'd arrived (we tried once before but it had been closed). So they ditched out at a stop sign near our community and I jumped into the driver's seat and off we went to Oviedo Rec Center. Rock Climbing. I encouraged him and he watched me. He made it up the practice wall easily, then worked on others. He completed two walls and so did I, but we both got beat by our nemesis walls. His was one that I did, mine was the 3rd from the hardest. The wall went up, came out, then jutted out into a ledge type thingy. It was just the right angle that I could get my hands on the next hold, but couldn’t pull myself up over the lip. And the more times I tried it, the less able I was. Sigh. It was a good, brutal hour.

Then we had two hours to kill so we just vegged and played SC for a while, ate dinner, etc. Then we went glow bowling. Krys had been talking it up for days, then ditched out on us to be with her BF, lammmmmme. But dad, J, and Ry all came. J couldn’t bowl at all on his bad ankle, so he went home to get his brace. My first game was abominable. Dad got a 113. He said his first game is always his best. So we were going to pit his first against my second but I only got 106. Ugh. So I decided to bowl a third game by myself; because I knew I could beat that. But I have this crazy knack for just buckling under pressure. True to color, I could get the first bowl but never made up any of my change. 7-,8-,9-,8-,8-, etc. I think I got two strikes... ended up with a 108. If I had hit ANY of my 2nd frames, I woulda beat him. Agh. I was so annoyed with myself (I think I've mentioned my self-hate sports complex I don't like to talk about before, that's a glimpse). I talked to Turtle on the way home, logged my caches and went to bed at like 2am.

One more...

DISCLAIMER: Part 3 has bread crumbs.

December 27th, 2008 - Saturday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The morning was tedious, just like the day before. This time, though, when we asked my mom if she felt up to anything "family" she voted that we were finally going to have the picnic that had been planned since before I arrived.

I finally got my Christmas-present-to-myself in the mail and I was ready to be NOT in my house. I tried for like 3 hours the day before to get the nearby caches to download with no luck, but this morning I got up, plugged it in, and it worked fine, so away I went. Time to hit the walking trail behind our house. Ry and I made plans to meet up with my family all the way over in the park (about 4 miles away), then hit the road, armed with TBs, the GPS, scooter and skateboard. Time to go caching!

I won't bore you with details, but we had a blast treasure hunting and searching, though we couldn't find one, and almost gave up on some others. After about I dunno two or three hours in the heat, exerting ourselves, and having a blast, we were stumped on a particular cache, and Ry wanted to just quit and move on. I opted for a detour to the McD's to get some water. Which we did. We even PAID for BOTTLES. I figured out that I was lame, and decoded the hint wrong, and we then knew where what we were looking for actually was - genius. I was still thirsty and instead of just TAKING IT, I waited in line for like 2 minutes to politely asked Mr. Couldn't-do-better-than-McD's-dead-end-career who'd I just given more than a DOLLAR for the stupid bottle if I could get a refill. He said no.

HE SAID NO. OF ALL THE [EXPLETIVE] NERVE! NO? *FREAKS* This is EXACTLY why I refuse to eat here. [More expletive]

I said some things I shouldn't have (covered Ry's ears first), and made a few gestures, threw my water bottle in the garbage (in retrospect I shoulda lobbed it at jerkwipe's face) and we left. Back to the hunt. We made the find, and gladly moved on. We continued working our way down the trail, and made good time, but still ended up having to wait for the rest of the family. I had Ry take us to where they'd picnicked last time and we lay down in the shade on the lovely real grass (most Florida grass in crabgrass which in Ohio = weed, and always will be in my mind...) and waited. When the rest of the family arrived, Bro walked up to where we were, read a sign, and walked away. We got up and moved closer while Mom said we were moving elsewhere. Then we saw the sign (dare you not to sing it in your head!) "WARNING: This area CLOSED for Chemical Treatment."

X.x Awesome. Now I'm going to grow a fifth arm or something ridiculous because my genius 12-yr old brother led me to grass from the side where the sign wasn't visible. Why the heck wasn't the place roped off? Why wasn't there more than one sign? Gar.

After we freaked out for a few, we drove to the new location and set up for the picnic and some good ol' family fun (read: croquet!) Unfortunately it was an old croquet set, and there were kinda 8 of us. There are only 6 balls in a complete set, and we lost one. So in utter disgrace to the super nice Bocce Ball set we have, we used 3 balls from there to make 8. Take about your UNFAIR. Bocce balls are like 2x heavier, and way harder to make move great distances when you are thrashing them with a mallet. Unless you hit them REALLY hard, and then they go completely 1000% farther than you ever intended to hit them. Agh. Needless to say, Pops, Bro, and I (the 3 oldest males) all did not fare well. We ended up horribly in the last places (to the point that I blatantly and carelessly cheated and stayed almost last) and arrived at the finish as the poison balls were rolling out. Awesome. Somehow I made it to the end and obtained poison status. Bro and I had an alliance to go all the way to the end together, but then when I poison-entered... he was the only one there, so in a fit of foolish betrayal I went for him. And missed. And I got destroyed for it. I was like the 3rd person out or something like that. Meh. That just meant I got food faster, lol. We had subs and chips and a fresh fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas (yech!), and apples. Delish.

After the food was done, Bro and I declared rematch, this time we got to use croquet balls though. We did much better not having a HUGE and ABSURD handicap. Funny thing though. When we started the first game, 'Stas was in last place. And everytime she went, she whined that she hated the game and couldn't play and didn't know how. Well, Bro and I stepped in, gave her pointers, and away she went. 2nd game came down to me and her. The one who couldn't play. We were close enough to be in hitting range. She was going to run, knowing she'd be decimated. We encouraged her to take the shot! Try and hit me! If she got it, she won. If she didn't, well she'd lose anyway, right? She went for it. Miss. An evil laugh, and a hit. In the bag. I, what? Missed? How? Centimeters, my friends. But with enough force it was again the same distance. Encouraged once more, she took the shot. And got LUCKY! Clink, and I was out. The 14-yr old who can't play the game WINS. She beat me! ;) Way to go lil' sis. (I taught her everything she knows!)

The family togetherness was actually relatively enjoyable, and I had high hopes that finally, my mom was returning to normal. Maybe the worst was over?

Nope. When we got home that night Ry almost got grounded for an entire month simply for asking my sister a question. Yee. Bro decided it was time to cut his losses, and he went back to his apartment. He was tired of my mom being psycho, and over-dramatic, and didn't understand what was really happening underneath all that. J retreated to his room and buried himself in books. Krys went out with her BF. 'Stas and Ry had nowhere to hide, nowhere to go. And were too young to handle it. ME. Again. Always. I'm the one who has to fix, to help. I tried to broach the subject more than once with my father but he didn't seem to see the extent of the damage even. And it was, according to my mom, his gouge in the first place. The fun is there, the family love is real, but it all breaks down against the whole truth and I'm just left with bloody hands gripping tightly at splintered shards.

December 28th, 2008 - Sunday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A day of rest. Of peace. Of renewal. I hoped.

I didn't feel like waking up, but I did anyway. Church. I don't even remember any of the talks, so clearly it wasn't overly uplifting/enriching. I found myself missing my kids though, and asked my mom could I come to nursery with her. I mean, I hadn't been to Sunday School in months! She said no, then after a moment, amended her statement by saying, "I guess you could come instead of your father." I'd forgotten. They work together in there. I sighed. I wanted to stand up right there in the middle of everyone and just yell. IT'S BEEN 3 DAYS FOR LAND SAKES!!! SPEAK TO EACH OTHER! THIS IS ABSURD! ARE YOU REALLY JUST GOING TO GO ON SLEEPING IN THE SAME BED EVERY NIGHT PRETENDING THIS DIDNT HAPPEN? THAT THESE FESTERING HOLES ARENT THERE AND NEED REPAIRING?!? I didn't know what to do. I didn't how to reach them. How to patch this disaster. I didn't. But I knew I wouldn't be the creator of opportunities for them to increase the distance. I opted to go to Sunday School. My dad went to the nursery then joined me 5 minutes later. Cop-out! I wanted to shake him, slap him, sock him, scream, and make him see. But how? I just sat in silence. And picked apart the teacher. Who seriously WAS the WORST Sunday School Teacher ever. E V E R. Powerpoint. Slides with the text from the Scriptures on them. Really? So unnecessary. He didn't interact with the class, didn't ask good questions, ignored people's hands, I almost couldn't bear it. Priesthood ended up being more of the same.

When we got in the car, I almost had a complete breakdown like in previous years. My dad was annoyed, and I was not happy with the whole mom situation, Ry and 'Stasia were fighting, and Krysten had to thrust herself in the middle and voice her 17 yr-old harsh, mature opinion. AGH.

But in that moment of extreme annoyance and border-line tears, everything clicked into place about this place. Florida. Hell. Previous breakdowns. Why I hate it here.

And the most important piece of all was the succulent, and life-important realization that it WASN'T ME. I love my family to death, but they are also what I so deeply hate. The constant fighting, the disagreements, the impatience, the silence and tension, the overreacting... it's not me. When I stop eating and sleeping and my self-destructive behaviors multiply and renew themselves, it's because I can't handle the myriad breakdowns in my family unit I've refused to see. INCREDIBLE.

A very, very large portion of time(read: the rest of the day) was dedicated to my jigsaw puzzle, which I'd already started on some days earlier, and had quickly become my escape. I brought out my laptop, put on my Mindy, EFY, and Hymns mix, and had to shut the sliding doors 3x at least to not overhear more fighting and bickering. Florida is like Ohio. Only much, much worse. It's my own family, so the discrepancies, the problems, the glaring holes... they all hurt deeper and affect me more readily. This is why. This is why I do not come here. Because I see the problems and the fights and the wounds and I want to fix them all. Only here I *do* insert myself to try and fix everything because it's my family and I love them and I care about them so much. This revelation, while vindicating of my self, was crushing when it came to everyone else, and I lost myself eagerly in the pieces of my puzzle. I hate Florida.

December 29th, 2008 - Monday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I woke up this morning, still reeling from the day before, I was relieved to find that my mom actually wanted to do something. My dad had gone back to work. It cuts me to the core thinking (and in some cases knowing) that those who love their work only do so because it provides an escape from the shambles that is their home.

While my mom got ready and had things to do, I took 'Stas to do her exercise, Ry on his scooter, hopped on my skateboard, and did some more caching. Because I'm a freaking addict. This time we cached the other half of the trail. Ry and Stas both enjoyed themselves, though we got stumped on the last one (which I am not yet convinced is even still actually there) before mom came with Krysten to pick us up.

Off to the beach we went. W00t beach. We had more picnic, and I played in the water, which was cold, but nothing like California Santa Cruz water cold. It ended up being kinda sad and anticlimactic thought because I went out in the ocean almost to where I couldn't touch anymore (which is when the wave hopping gets actually fun) but my mom wouldn't let any of the youngins out that far, and she wasn't coming, so I was by myself. Which is boring. So I went back in. My mom told me I went super duper far out to the point that she was just waiting for the lifeguard to scream at me (how would I have heard if I was really that far out?) Ry tried to teach me how to do some kind of boarding whose name I can't remember, where you have boards similar to boogie boards, but hard, and you try and skim across the shallows or something like that. Anyway, he must either be doing it wrong, or it's the lamest sport EVER invented, because it super didn't work. At all. Once we got board with the water, we spent like two hours making this enormous sandcastle, only we didn't dig it in completely dry sand, and when we made our moat to protect the castle for when the waves came, it flooded itself from underneath (read: nothing could be more lame). So we dug this huge trench and then an even huger pit, which also failed and filled itself. Oh well, we had fun anyway.

Once we got home and all cleaned up, I decided to run. Because I was tired of hurting and feeling bad, and trying to figure out how to make my ill-fitting, imperfectly failing family function. My mom said she had no plans for the evening, so (with permission) I kidnapped J and Ry, and we all crashed my Bro's apt. When we got there one of his roomie's friends were over so we played Halo with her for a bit, then decided we were hungry, and went to Stake N Shake. With my 12-yr old brother. At like 2am, lol. Good times. We were happily enjoying our food when 2am actually did happen and being that my Bro lives right by a campus, suddenly the place started filling up with drunk people because the bars close at 2am. LOL We took the 12-yr old and went home. Quickly. LOL Then we decided we were tired and bagged the game and slept.

December 30th, 2008 - Tuesday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We woke up late, since we went to bed the same, then settled in for more video game. We didn't quite make it to the end before it was time for J and I to leave and play some more Frisbee. Only this time there wasn't an invite-all. Just a bunch of kids. I was the oldest (though I don't look it!) as most of them were High Schoolers, with some College Kids mixed in. But a much tougher, rougher group than we played with on Christmas Eve. Which suited me fine.

I made some good plays this time and felt a little better about what I was doing (don't get me started about my "sports" complex). I did drop some easy passes though, which frustrated me. We frisbee'd for a good 4 hours. Then we cut out to pick up Ry from Bro's and take Bro to work. After that we showered and tried to play some StarCraft, but couldn't get it to work. J went to the movies with a friend, and since there wasn't anything else to do we watched Kit Kittredge: An American Girl with my parents. My mom got it since it was the only one on her queue that sounded even remotely watchable to me.

Grade: A. I won't lie on this one. This was actually a dang good movie. Make fun all you want, it's really worth your time. I was surprised myself. But it's emotionally engaging, funny, a good storyline, and the acting is on par as well. I was impressed, and might even put it somewhere on my top 10 list (I'd have to figure out the list first of course).

After J got back from the movies, we escaped to Greg’s once more where he and Roommate were playing JLA. Once they finished, we settled in to finish what we'd started, and the four of us finally finished the game. w00t. And then to bed around 3am, just like the night before. Aren't brothers great?

Stay tuned...

DISCLAIMER: See part 2 about part 1. :)

December 23rd, 2008 - Tuesday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Merh. This day is going to happen in summary version, because I forgot to write it down before I forgot what happened. Oops.

Anyway, I'm sure it involved lots of present wrapping, and I know for a fact that I went shopping with my Mommers. And loved it. Because I love my Mommers and spending time with her! We were especially looking for a ring for my little sister that we didn't find the day before with my bros.

We went to a number of stores and malls and looked and looked and looked. We even went to KOHL's which is my mom's #1 ADDICTION. While we were at the mall (that I specifically selected for my bro J's present, I popped into a bookstore and nabbed book 3 of the trilogy I was giving him, so he'd have all three. Score. Eventually we found a ring that we liked, was NOT $100, and would fit her, and went home happy. I think I took my mom out to eat...like I had the year before, but I can't remember where.

The rest of the day is a blur, though my 3 younger bros all settled in and we started playing an Xbox game together. Mmm, bro kinship. My mom wanted to have a family activity and go to the movies. Awesome! Which one?

When the words Beverly Hills Chihuahua came out of her mouth, I literally fainted. Just keeled over on the floor right there. Say what the [expletive]?! You want to see what? She repeated herself and I... well I continued shrieking in a confused mix of hilarity, pain, and utter bewilderment that not only was there a person on the planet WILLING to SEE that movie, it was my mother, while remaining mildly unconscious on the ground. We kindly asked her to reconsider. For our sakes.
So she did. She sat down, conferred with the sisters, and the Pops and they refined their choice.

High School Musical 3.

BWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA. I lost all control. I...just...who WERE these people? You want us to have a family outing, and yet you have 3 males over the age of 18 and want to go see [edited for the children]?!?!?!!!! *continues for 5 more minutes of unaided distress to scoff and scorn and laugh uncontrollably*

Needless to say the outing split. My 'rents and the two sisters went to movies. The four boys continued to play their Xbox game. BWAHAHAHA. I'm sorry... *shakes head* High School Musical 3. What an improvement over the previous choice... merh, N O.

December 24th, 2008 - Wednesday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The eve. I think we stayed up late the night before(?) and thus slept in. Don't really remember. There was more present wrapping I'm sure, as well as eating, and the like, then J, Ry, and I went to play some Ultimate Frisbee. It was an all-invited, all-ages game so we had everyone from 50yr old men to 10yr olds, so it wasn't the most *dynamic* of Frisbee games ever played. But we enjoyed ourselves. A shower later and then some relaxing (more video game? Bah. I didn't write these two days down) it was finally Christmas Dinner Time. The Grandparents had come up from Leesburg like every other year to join us in eating and celebrating. I was tired and not feeling well (I'd been sick ever since returning from Ohio) which was interesting for me since that happened LAST year too. I ate a little (Bro was kind enough to dish my plate) then lay on the couch until it was showtime.

Christmas Eve at my house is the dawn of all celebration and festivity. I love this time. Family togetherness, bonding, love, and remembering Christ. It's just wonderful. So we gathered around (with some rearranging since it's hard to get 10 people into a circle when the Christmas, the gaping mammoth of presents, and furniture is also filling the same room), and read the Christmas Story out of Luke 2. Krysten was declared the reader (since it was the first Christmas where she could speak English, 2nd Christmas being in our family) and managed through it (there are some big, difficult words in that Luke chapter!) Then as family tradition dictates, all the kids got to open one present from their siblings. I tried to opt out since at 25, I'm not exactly a "kid" but my mom insisted. I don't even remember which one I opened, but I'm sure it was great, lol. Then off to bed with us.

Permit me another moment of holiday reminiscing. Since I can remember us boys have ALWAYS loved Christmas Eve because it was the one night of the year we ALL (5) got to sleep in the SAME ROOM! We would consistently get in trouble for too much giggling, talking, wrestling, etc., even to the point of threats of no Santa, but somehow he always came. The tradition continues that at the absurd hour of 2 or 3am, after we KNOW Santa has come, but way too early to wake the parents, we'd all wake up and in a gang rush out to see the pickings. We weren't allowed to touch any of the presents, especially not the ones that Santa brought, but we were allowed to open our stockings. So we'd all wake up super duper early, run out, rip open our stockings, compare the findings, and then go back to sleep until the parents deemed it was late (early) enough for the real haul to begin. It got more complicated when my first sister was adopted, but my parents let her sleep in the same room sometimes, and then as she got older, sleep across the hall with our doors open. My older brother is now married and far away and only comes every other year, and let's be honest, I'm not as "kid" as I once was (though all will defend my "kid"ness remains in force). Last year when Krysten joined our family, 'Stas had someone to share the room with, and Krysten's friends from Ukraine were here too, so there were 4 girls and 4 boys (my older bro now has a wife and doesn't join in anymore).

That brings us to present. I'm 25, and my mom had told me earlier in the year that my stocking was being retired because I'm too old, which I was fine with. Then she told me that BigBro didn't come (year to visit his in-laws) that my stocking was re-instated. Well, I didn't realize so much of tradition rested on the KID in me, but apparently it does. I opted to sleep in my own bed, thinking that the other 3 would just continue the tradition in my absence. Turns out that's not true, and Ry, still being 12, was super bummed out because the 21yr old bro and the 19yr old didn't want to participate either. Sigh. Being a Big Brother can be so hard sometimes. Since no one else was participating, a dejected Ry came to crash with me. Agh. So I set my alarm for 3am because I'm just awesome like that.

December 25th, 2008 - Thursday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
3am came and we got everyone up, except J who had already opened his (punk) and wouldn't come out again. We even got Krysten up who absolutely HATES our tradition (and hated it last year as well). We opened up the treats (I got SPF Sunscreen for snowboarding, a glasses cleaning kit, and some new pumpkin carving knifes (which, bless my mother's soul for trying, were too big for me to use).

Then back to bed until like 8am. Or 9am. I can't remember anymore which it is. Anyway, I woke up a bit early and was totally in the mood to just whip up Breakfast for everyone! It would be so awesome! Some eggs, maybe pancakes, a little bacon, it was going to be delicious. But just as the amazingness-that-would-be-breakfast coalesced in my mind, it was killed. Because my mom got up. And she was making Christmas Quiche. This is a recent/semi-new tradition in our home, (one I'm quite okay with), and so I didn't get to make breakfast after all. The rest of the family filed out slowly and amid Quiche, we opened the presents.

My silbings all loved their gifts (because I rock at giving!) even though the sheets I fought for over a year to find weren't *quite* right for my Mom. :( I tried SO HARD! I made out with: Heroes Season 2, Myst V, a new plush warm blanket, sausage and cheese (which I always get! and love!), a wireless mouse, a psychedelic acid-inspired 1000 piece puzzle, a new brown belt, a new black belt (which is so shiny and chic) and a new clock radio (mine broke!) that not only automatically sets itself (once you have this, you can NEVER go back) AND displays the time on the wall, but ALSO totally docks with my shiny ipod I bought myself a few months ago. I'm missing like 2 or 3 presents I got, but again, I didn't write them down soon enough to remember. Which = lamesauce.

After the hours-long opening was done (think about 10 people each getting every one gifts, and you easily have 100+ presents, opened one at a time!) we settled in to enjoy our new toys and such. We had hoped to have some kind of family activity, but my mom didn't seem to have anything planned. The bros wanted to continue our game, so we discarded all our new stuff and headed to my bro's apartment to take the game to his ridiculously huge TV. In the ensuing transfer, Ry only brought one controller which gave us only 3 and 4 players. So we called my dad and he was nice enough to bring us the other one. When he made it over, he brought his new Star Trek: Voyager DVDs my mom got him, and we convinced him to watch one with us.

And he agreed.

And that was the beginning of Christmas D I S A S T E R.

My mom kept texting my dad telling him to come home, and we kept saying, just a few more minutes (because we wanted to keep watching), and it just all spiraled out of control. I can't remember what she texted my bro J, but after my dad left, he got texts to the extent of her being so mad she was sorry she'd ever birthed us. O.O That's pretty pissed. We thought she was being a little over the top. We cut the game, called it quits, and went home. When we got there, we filed in one by one and all of us hugged my mom, and apologized for our mistake. Thoroughly apologized. All four of us. She pretty much blew us off and kept playing a game with my grandparents and Dad. They were interacting so everything was fine, right?

The rest of the night passed with nothing eventful enough for me to remember. But the broken shell that had once been Christmas would take a long time to pick up.

December 26th, 2008 - Friday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My not being 100% on the health scales continued and I found myself up early hacking and coughing and trying to be quiet. I turned on the kitchen light to get some Orange Juice. Before I can finish filling my cup, out stalks my mom.

Mom: "Why is this light on?"
Me: "Uhhh...because I was drinking O.J.?"
CLICK! She flicked the light off and stomped away.

I could tell her anger from yesterday was still thick and at the forefront.

I said sorry once again, and tried to explain that had we known, none of yesterday would have happened.

She turned back and snapped, "Whatever, you knew."
Me: "No, we didn’t."
Mom: "Yes, you did. I said that I didn’t want to be left alone, and you knew that. I can’t help it if you are all idiots."

(Note: She had my grandparents, and my two sisters, so she wasn't alone, but I guess, she was being specific about my dad?)

Me: "Whoa. That was a little uncalled for."

Silence.

Then, "I’m sorry that you think it was uncalled for. I don’t. And I’m angry."

Me: "You have every right to be angry. No one is telling you not to be."

She went back in her room, then after a minute, came back. "It wasn’t even that he went. Or that he stayed. It was that he didn’t tell me. If he had told me he was staying, I would have been okay with it."

Me: *listening*
Mom: "But he didn’t. And this isn’t the first time. It happens all the time."

Silence. Me: "So how long are you going to be angry?"
Mom: "Forever."

O.J. still in hand, I was now looking up at the Christmas present she gave my dad. Re-mastered copies of their temple wedding. Me: "Don’t you think that’s a long time?" I mean, how does that compare to your forever union?

Mom: "I don’t know how to heal a wound this deep."
Me: (off-handedly) "So you’re getting a divorce?"
She DIDN'T ANSWER.

And that jarred more than anything else she'd said. Not the first time, she'd said. I wanted to let my cup of O.J. fall to the floor and shatter, the same way my brain was. My parents have ALWAYS been the absolute epitome of union, harmony, and love. Married to your best friend, that's my parents. Never in my 25 years of life had I seen them fight. Quarrel. Disagree. I STILL have firmly etched in my mind how completely vehement my father would become any time any one of us ever tried to disrespect my mom. Nothing could come between my parents... but this? I was shocked. I moved and sat down on the couch to try and salvage something of my parent's image in my mind.

My mom had stalked off, and now she came back again. "I’m hurt a lot right now."
Me: "That’s completely believable. You have every right. Dad messed up."
Mom: "And what’s worse," she started breaking down and crying, "is that I bought that for him. *I* wanted to watch it with him."
Me: "We only watched one episode. Why can’t you start over and he watch it with you?" Honest question. Fair and valid. Why not?

Once again, she didn't respond.

Eventually, she said, "I’m hurting so deep right now, and I’m using anger because it helps me feel better. I don’t want to hurt."

I'd already figured that out by now, but it was good to hear her say it. I thought we were making progress and that maybe now that she knew that, she would be able to work through it, and begin to let it go.

I got up and tried to hug her, to hold her. She was at the breaking point now and ready to bawl. But when I approached, she pulled away from me. "Just leave me alone."

Rejected. I had slowly, painstakingly, as tactfully as I could, maneuvered, posed questions, and stripped away all the layers of her front to get at the wound. Then once I'd found the broken, battered, still bleeding mom drowning in anger and masks, she pushed me away.

So I retreated. As I always do when I feel rejected, whether I want to or not. I went back in my room and shut the door. But I wasn't ready to give up.

I could still communicate without directly being in her way. Without being directly pushed away. So I sent my mom a text: "Dear mom, i luv u tons n am so sry u got hurt. I wanted 2 go on a walk with u 2 talk but u r shopping with gma and i don’t know if u are ready to hear the answers i think will help u. Plz let me knw whenev u want 2 go. I am patient n will be ready whenev. Right now i listen n will leave u alone like u asked. Love, D."

She took the bait. Mom: "Answers to what"

Me: "2 the ?s that remain, the anger u don’t want 2 abandon, and the pain that u cannot see beyond. I have lived all these, and know how 2 move beyond them. All in time. I will wait. More luv, D."

Mom: "Each time a wound is reopened it goes deeper and takes longer 2 heal"

Me: "I do not disagree. AT ALL. 1000% correct."

Mom: *after some delay* "Go back to sleep"

She was on her way out with my Grandma to go shopping, so I waited in my room until I was sure she was gone, then I emerged. The day went alright until my mom came home, then we all did our best to give her a wide berth. I spent a good amount of time in my little sister's room helping her with a puzzle that she got for christmas of glow-in-the-dark wolves, and we talked. Really talked. Which is good for her, because being enemies with my mom and her big sister, she doesn't really have anyone to go too. She loves when I'm home and that she has someone who cares about her. We spent most of the evening doing that until it was bedtime, and then I slept. 'Stas kept her light on reading a book though, and got the full wrath of my still-wounded mother. So did my little brother. *Sigh*

My own family was broken, and it was going to be up to ME to fix it? I've been through a lot, and I'm pretty strong, but this? REALLY GOD? W H Y...? Why is this on ME? My dad wouldn't talk to her, neither of my sister's were in a position too, and my brothers either didn't care, lacked the empathy necessary to get anywhere, or were too young. That meant the job of marriage-repairman fell to me. Well, I *didn't* want the job. I went to bed that night feeling heavier than ever.

Hell. Christmas break is ALWAYS hell at my house.

More is forthcoming...

DISCLAIMER: Still stands from part I.

After parting with Emmy and boy, I drove the icy roads back to Christi's (only like 5 minutes away, so no worries), and crashed.

December 20th, 2008 - Saturday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After sleep that went by way too fast, I drug myself out of bed to head for the Bob Evans, once again as tradition dictates. Breakfast with Melissa. We invited others, like Steph, but no one came. So it was just us two. She got biscuits and gravy like always. I got something that I don't remember, so it wasn't exceptionally delicious. We chatted it up for a good few hours, then went to her house to see Mommers and Dadders. After chilling and catching up with the 'rents, I went back to Christi's where she and Jess were hard at work constructing a gingerbread house. After getting the walls in the right places (Christi tried to make the roof pieces the walls) we realized that the instructions insisted we let each piece dry for 30 minutes. What?! What kind of destroy-a-kid's-attention-span-and-leave-the-candy-fun-to-the-parents-with-no-time-conspiracy IS THIS?!!! Sigh. So we went to lunch. This time with Becky Alexander (formerly Renna). She has TWO kids now! We caught up on everything and everyone and just enjoyed Panera Bread. After that Becky opted to "kidnap" me and then we went to her house to see her kids, Ava and Clarice. They were super cuties. We looked at pictures of her mission trips and watched a MacBeth movie we made in 10th grade that Alan has on his myspace. It was TORTURE. No wonder everyone thought we were out of our minds back then. Yeesh.

When I got back from Becky's we did gingerbread house round 2. Once the roof was in place, we thought we were good to go and did not wait 30 minutes, just started decorating...to our detriment. DISASTER. The whole house began to cave. We tried to salvage it, but it was no use. The gingerbread house was dead. (Note the GAP in the far wall... eee)



Once we gave up trying to repaste the roof (we ran out of icing), it was dinner time, so off to Max n Erma's. I got to see Jillybean! She’s still just as fun as always with her little voices and silliness. Dinner was good times and good eats. After dinner we ditched the kid and Christ’s parents and wanted to do something fun. Like go out for drinks or go bowling. We ended up at Lissa’s house and decided that Monopoly was an adequate substitute and would provide ample entertainment. Mel was the first to bite the dust, and Jill struggled. Christi had money dripping out of her nostrils, and was declared the winner. I protested since I was totally holding my own, but they forced the game to end. Stop in the middle and count our money and properties? Blasphemy! I still refuse to concede defeat. Becky was seeing a play with her hubby, and when it was over she came. For the most amazing three minutes all four girls were in the same room! This was unprecedented and had not happened in almost 7 years!!! I didn't think it would ever happen again, but it did. We took a pic even as proof. Amazing. I = not only World Changer, but now The Connector as well. :)



I tried to get Alan to come over but he was locked up with a computer problem he couldn’t get around. Christi had to leave to get Jess from her parents and Becky sat down and the 4 of us remaining chatted and reminisced and it was wonderful. I loved it, especially Jill and Becky going back and forth about High School memories.

Eventually around 1am, we were tired, and parted. The ice was worse than the previous night. I seriously almost biffed it off the porch but caught myself. And there's no picture as proof. Becky took me home graciously, thanked me for inviting her, and then I went to bed.

December 21st, 2008 - Sunday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Got up, got ready, went to church.

My old ward that I left in 2001 and never looked back. It was insane how many people were STILL there. I saw the Waits, the Adams, the Hartwells, the Huffners, the Wynns, the Emmers, the McKnights, the Slacks, the Maddens, even Shane Kelson. Billy was there with her weirdo husband and uber pregnantness, and I avoided them at all costs. Emmy and I talked pretty much through the whole sacrament meeting looking around and trying to remember who that man was, and whose kid that was, and how long this family had been in the ward, etc. Although Uli Simcox, my fav seminary teacher was there and gave a wonderful talk. Em and I both love her, so we did listen during that. Michael Walker and wife were there with their new baby and sat next to us. I ducked my head into Pickerington ward and saw Sarah Peterson and the McHardys, which was neat.

I loved seeing all these people I had grown up with and how'd they changed, who remembered me, and who stared knowing they knew me but having no clue how. The one interesting thing I felt was that it was no longer my home, though I still (and probably always will) claim it as my home.

Then I had lunch with Mr. Grayem. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. He was my 10th grade English Teacher for half the school year, before he retired because his wife was sick. He had been the OWE (Occupational Work Experience) Program Director for a number of years. Basically this is the kids who get suspended/have little work ethic who go to school only part-time and have jobs the rest of the time. Mr. Grayem loved these kids and worked extensively with them, making a difference in their lives. Then he got our class, which he was in no way used to teaching. A regular english class. (Funny thing was Becky, Melissa, Alan... all of us were in this class. Because we all decided together that we didn't feel like taking Advanced English that year and wanted something easy, lol). Having lots of experience with problem kids, he felt sorta out of his league teaching us regulars. He told us repeatedly he was intimidated by us, and wasn't sure how to teach us to make sure we were ready for 11th grade. Well, whatever he did, he did it right. He is by far the teacher (though he was only there half the year) that had the most impact on my pre-college schooling. When I called him to tell him this, he didn't really remember me, but said he'd be happy to have lunch. I was flattered and lunch could not have gone better if I had planned the whole conversation out beforehand and written it.

When we sat down, we just started talking...and didn't stop. The poor waitress! She knew she was absolutely interrupting every time she came to our table. We didn't order for like 30 minutes because we didn't even look at our menus. Mr. Grayem told me after we talked on the phone that he'd gone to the school archives and looked at yearbooks and anything else he could find to try and remember me and had partly put it together in his head. But the NOW me he called "refreshing," "put together," and "astounding." He could not believe how busy I'd been - all that I've accomplished in the last 10 years. He said the foundation that I’ve laid for myself is incredible, commendable, and he applauded me on my lack of debt, etc. He commented he always knew I was smart, but he was impressed with the amazing journey I’ve been on. "And," he said, "I don’t even know the half... a quarter of it. Do I?" The twinkle in my eye betrayed me. "And you’re not going to tell me either are you? Because you’re not one to pat your own back." Depends on my mood? lol

He was so grateful that I had come, especially when I explained that he had the greatest impact on me as a teacher. I mean, when he taught it wasn't book stuff. It wasn't grammar or principles. He taught us to learn, and love learning. And he taught us practical ideas that directly applied to everyday life. Which was phenomenal, and gave me so much direction. This was the man who showed me The Power of One and The War. Teachings... examples like that were unmatched in my life at the time. He was deeply moved and grateful for my gratitude.

He also commented off-handedly that he could tell by my voice that I was still “playful” Hee Hee. ;) Indeed I am.

Mr. Grayem loved that I’d really taken advantage of the educational system. I used it to get me places, to get me what I want and need. He respected that I “got out” and went somewhere. He said there were people who were scared to leave Ohio, scared to leave the community even. Not me. I struck out and I made things happen. I agreed readily. Tangent: It's astonishing to me how many people from my class are still in the town, and have seemingly done near to nothing with their lives. I don't want to be critical, but I just felt so overwhelmed by the shock and realization. I even felt a little guilty for having got out and done something. The majority of them are waiters, or cooks at restaurants. Yeah, you make tips, and it's a job... but I know that I am meant for bigger things. I don't want that to sound prideful or scornful, but it's the truth I feel in my bones and blood.

He was duly impressed with my fiercely independent spirit. He asked me what my parents made of me. Were they proud? Was I admired? Were they sad I had cut myself so loose? I remarked that my mother was more aware of my drive for independence than even I had been.

Anyway, I could go on and on about our conversation. Needless to say it was just beautiful. And I LOVE MR. GRAYEM. He was the only teacher ever that made me want to be a teacher too.

After we eventually ate, he took me to the Lorencen's where I reviewed lunch then helped Emmy wrap her Christmas presents while mom and dad made dinner. I miss the Lorencen's so much. I mean just watching the back-and-forth exchange that transpired over putting the dining room table together was enough to make me want to stay forever. I love the way they "interact" (read: bicker and argue, lol)

Dinner was served and Colleen came over with Candler. She was more reserved and introverted than I remember, but so it goes. After dinner they wanted a reading, and so I gave them Hero Material but it didn't come off near as funny as it had at NULC. Hmm. Something to think about. I read some other pieces which were moderately received (according to my perceptions) and then Colleen left and Rene was pretty much falling asleep, so we called it a night. I chatted briefly with Emmy, but we had no where near enough alone time to get out all our drama and secrets and the need-to-share information we usually trade with one another.

When I got home Christi was watching a documentary on 9/11 and I sat on the couch and watched with her, the fiesty little kitty promptly jumping up and falling asleep on my legs (something he never does with Christi). That went on for a while, then I had to pack everything in preparation of going home.

All in all, Ohio was such a great trip, and so needed, and I love and miss everyone that I got to see. I will be absolutely honest about the multiple people desiring me to come back. I want to. I would love to. BUT I CAN'T. Because I know what would happen. I would gravitate to those I love most who are struggling and having problems and needing me, and I would fill those holes. Case-in-point: I would fill the missing dad role in Jessie's life, and become a husband to Christi. And that would only be the beginning. While I'm not entirely opposed to this, it's not wholly fair to me. Because it relegates me prisoner to the needs and broken bits of others. That is why I keep my distance, Ohio. That.

December 22nd, 2008 - Monday
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Early, early, we headed to the airport and I said goodbye once more to dear friends, and even dearer memories. I will always love Ohio even if I know I can never truly go back, much I want to.

I landed in Florida, and my dad picked me up with Ryan then had to go to the store. I was starving so he dropped me and Ry at a StakeNShake, and we got lunch. Dad told Ry he was limited to $5. I told him get whatever he wanted, and then I paid.

After that we went outside to a nearby Christmas Tree lot and got branches from their dumpster for my mom. She loves the smell of the needles and doesn't have a real tree, so I always get her scraps to put on the mantle. After like 2 hours we were finally home. Longest pick-up from the airport ever, lol. Then I needed to do my Christmas Shopping still (except my mom, Krys, and Bro), so I took Ry and Bro and we went to the mall. I got a Jigsaw (not the puzzle) for my dad, and thought of a series of books J hasn't read, but they only had 2 of the 3, which I got. Then I got an idea for Ry, and sent him off with Greg while I got a giftcard from GameStop. Then we started looking for a ring for 'Stas. We looked at like 10 different stores and couldn't find anything we liked that wasn't $100 and was in her size. Merh. That night we watched The HULK. The re-made version that's supposed to be way better than the first epic FAIL. Grade: B-. It wasn't overly engaging, but it didn't suck. Simply alright as far as movies go.

More soon...

Best Movie I saw for the 1st time in '08: Kingdom of Heaven.

Best Book I read for the first time in '08: Cormac McCarthy's The Road. (to be reviewed in an upcoming Travelogue Edition).

And with the induction of iTunes (which I still secretly hates in the depths of my heart) into my life, here are my Top 25 Most Played Songs:

25. Right Now by SR-71 (61)
24. Be Like That by 3 Doors Down (63)
21. What Have You Done Now (Extended) by Within Temptation (71)
21. Daylight in the City by Strata (71)
21. Storm by Lifehouse (71)
15. Say (All I Need) by OneRepublic (72)
15. Hanging By a Moment by Lifehouse (72)
15. You and Me by Lifehouse (72)
15. Time of Your Life by Green Day (72)
15. Salt in the Snow by The Classic Crime (72)
15. Adam's Song by Blink-182 (72)
13. This is Our Town by Broken Image (73)
13. Do It For Me Now by Angels and Airwaves (73)
12. Forgiven by Within Temptation (80)
11. Lifeline by Angels and Airwaves (82)

9. Apologize (Non-Timbaland version) by OneRepublic (83)
9. A Little's Enough by Angels and Airwaves (83)

8. It's Not Over by Secondhand Serenade (84)

7. Broken by Lifehouse (89)

5. Everything's Magic by Angels and Airwaves (96)
5. It Ends Tonight by All-American Rejects (96)

4. The Great Escape by Boys Like Girls (101)

3. Better Days by Goo Goo Dolls (116)

2. When The Time Comes by The Classic Crime (120)

And finally, my favorite song of the year and current addiction:

1. FALL FOR YOU BY SECONDHAND SERENADE WITH 122 PLAYS! w00t


 

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