Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Good China

There's a moment in everyone's childhood in which we cross the threshold into the big world and stop looking back. It starts, of course, the moment we leave the womb - our interactions with others outside our family are short and controlled at first, then gradually, over the years, we spend more time away from home and family than we do in it. If we're lucky, the childhood years include a home that we want to come back to, a place that feels safe. But even with that, there comes a time to move on. We create our own safety and comfort zone somewhere new.

My mother once got upset because I referred to my dorm room off-handedly as "home." The house I had left was home, she insisted. I know what she meant. But really? Home is where you feel settled at the moment. It's what you expect to find when you open your eyes in the morning. And I'd crossed the threshold and found a temporary home in Mary Ward Hall, third floor. I've had a lot of homes since then, and that house I left has been home to lots of other families since that time.

What I've carried around with me to all these homes is a sense of who I am and where I came from. Like good china. Better than a house, and easier to pack, too.

Annie is standing at the threshold, and not inclined to glance back. These last few months we've watched her turn her attention out into the world, gaze focused farther each day. Far away college dreams, boyfriend, international plans. This birthday weekend is all about friends, and we had to kidnap her last night for an hour in between work and a night at the movies to even be able to give her birthday cards and money and wish her well.

Next weekend is the last weekend before she heads to Europe for the whole summer, and where I once had to literally pry her 10 year-old fingers off me and push her into a car to go on a fabulous three day adventure with her closest friends, she now has not even a hint of wistfulness about what she leaves behind.

And although I will miss her both this summer and in the future, I could not possibly be prouder or more happy for her. She knows what she wants, and she's going for it. She has made wonderful choices for herself, and worked hard to achieve her goals. She is a good friend to have, a fine family member, a superb part of the greater community. She takes care of herself and those around her.

In short, she has her good china packed, and is ready to go.

Friday, May 29, 2009


How the heck did this happen? The first picture is not long after her 11th birthday, the second is just a couple of weeks ago.

Like me, like all of us, she is a work in progress; she had some bumpy patches today, her birthday. But unlike me, unlike most of us, she gets that about herself. And I think that meta-maturity is what impresses me most about her.

She'll do all right. Yes, she will.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How's That Working Out for You?

For those who, somehow, might not have kept track of every detail of my life, my master's program requires a full time summer internship, and I'm at one of the best my program offers: blood epidemiology at the Blood Systems Research Institute in San Francisco.

The Beast hooked up with Beauty (not that I'm Beauty, but it's a handy allegory) because he was a nice guy, not because he was handsome. When I ranked this internship top of my choices, I knew it would be interesting, and it is. They've got some great projects for me to take on, and have encouraged me to do nothing but read read read for the first two weeks to get some foundation information. Yesterday I spent the whole day learning about hepatitis C virus, today will be all about genetics. Interspersed with my reading are bouts of looking at data, one of my favorite things, and seminars on all manner of interesting topics.

But Beauty got some surprises she hadn't bargained for when that Beast turned into a handsome prince. Interns at BSRI always publish, how cool is that? And at my "intake" meeting, I found out I have full benefits for the whole family for the summer at the astonishing cost of $82.83 per month (saving us about $1100 per month). The dreadful commute I anticipated has turned out to be quite pleasant and predictable (I will write a lot about San Francisco this summer). And the people are just so nice, I could go on and on. Whereas my last job was all about The Drama, these folks are as down to earth as Minnesota farmers.

And there's free tea. I like that a lot, too.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Some Stuff Making Me Happy This Weekend

Just some things. The radishes are the last of the first bed of them from the vegetable garden, the swiss chard is the first harvest (destined to be sauteed with garlic and minced onion tonight). The empty bed is the second round of radishes, planted today. I overplanted lettuce and we're trying awfully hard to keep up, but this is the second grow-back of this cut-and-come-again patch, just about 1/5 of the baby lettuces.

The Ultimate photo is a "hat" point in a tournament that had a bunch of silly spirit points. I have video of a "skipping" point that was great.

The fridge (it's CLEAN) and laundry (it's CLEAN, DRY, FOLDED, and SORTED!) are things that got awfully far behind the last few weeks.

Tomorrow might be cherry picking in Brentwood, or it might be something else altogether. Don't know yet.

Oh, and the boy at the top? He's CLEAN, too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Recap, Re-entry

It turned out to be a long drop out. Since that last blog post, lots has happened, all good, all time-consuming, all mentally and/or physically taxing. We've had ultimate western championships (girls placed 5th, although if the Ultimate Deity had been with them for one thirty second period on the first day, it would have been 2nd or 3rd), ultimate state championships (one of the school's two teams took first), soccer, Annie's SATs (a triumph, thanks again, Kaplan), amazing academic turnarounds for Joe, a turbulent but finally triumphant second half of the semester for me, the end of my job at the hospital, and the start of my internship at the blood bank, Rob's aborted move to a new school, and the planting of a vegetable garden.

One thing kept coming back to me over the past month: I miss writing for fun. I'm spending a lot of time, lately, reading and editing research papers(I picked up an easy, if not lucrative, job editing scientific non-native English authors), and even more time writing for school, and it makes me miss thinking carefully about the sound of the words I'm choosing, what I want to talk about, how, and to whom all the more. So, at least for the summer, regular blogging is one of my goals. Secondary to that is blog reading. Apologies to friends who write beautiful prose un-read by me for months. I'll try to catch up, and more importantly stay on top of.

The other is getting back to running. Not a day goes by that I don't miss both the running and the being in shape. This semester (and most likely the coming fall semester) were just not conducive to doing anything but what had to get done THIS MINUTE, but I want to try to remember what it feels like to be a runner by late August, even if it's fleeting.