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Home for the holidays is such a mixed-bag of awesome and extreme emotions of every stripe. There used to be a tradition in my family that my mom would buy my dad clothes for Christmas--they'd be these beautiful cashmere sweaters from Brooks Brothers or a new suit from J. Crew or monogrammed handkerchiefs. They were all very glam, very snazzy, very smart. He still wears everything she gave him and he puffs with pride when someone mentions a shirt or his hat or whatever--he's a pretty dour guy most of the time but he gets a tad pink-in-the-cheeks and says something about the kind of taste my mom had.

My mom died a little over a year ago. Last Christmas, rather than just ignoring the issue altogether, my sister stepped up to the plate and bought him some clothes. She's been doing odd-and-ends kind of clothes purchases for his birthday for years--a tie here, some argyle socks there--he's honestly such a pleasure to buy menswear for because he really can be quite dapper when he wants to be--so it wasn't too much of stretch. And he LOVED it. He--because this is actually the kind of person he is--wore everything from that batch of presents last year all on the same day when my sister arrived last week. Just to show her how much he likes them. And he sends us all an e-mail recounting the praise he gets for each item every time he wears it.

I joined the game this year. I got to wander the J. Crew suiting area for about an hour with my sister yesterday. We contemplated sweaters and the different prints to the Oxford shirts and hats...it was lovely.

My dad is the loveliest of men. He worried and worried about appropriate presents for all us kidlets this year--also because my mom used to direct him far more accurately, having a finger on the pulse of our materialist desires far more than he ever has--and it feels just wonderful to contribute to the collection of nice clothes he wears with such obvious pride. It's such a lovely simple way to make him happy.

So, there you go, J. Crew. You are the bringer of domestic happiness and the true holiday spirit.

PS - On the other end of the holiday spirit, I may just murder my brother before the holidays are over. No joke. I want to shish-kebab him, like Buffy used to do to vampires. He has taken to making fun of the way I talk because, apparently, I sound more midwestern now that I live in Michigan. I don't, of course, but he likes to repeat whole sentences and insist that it's so affected. That, and he wastes no opportunity to call me pretentious, snobby, mean, and supercilious. Just because--shock of shocks--I don't think mocking his teachers is so funny, you know, being a teacher as I am.
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So, you know how every couple of entries in this journal re-affirm how I should not be left in charge of my own life/soul, let alone the grades of impressionable teens? YES. This is one of those entries.

I saw Harry Potter in the middle of the night last night because, dammit, it is ingrained, sir, twill endure wind and weather--and YES I quote Shakespeare in a totally douchetastic way--but HARRY. YES. He's been important in my life for a long time and I will never, ever care if the movies are (a) good, (b) accurate, or (c) infantalizing. I JUST WON'T. I refuse. I'm a conscientious objector to any discussion about quality and Harry Potter.

BUT I TOTALLY LOVED THIS MOVIE. As a movie, as a Harry Potter movie, as a thing to do with two+ hours of my life. I LOVED IT. And, Dobby, you will ALWAYS be the free elf of my heart. I raise my glass to you, sir.

But THEN. AFTERWARD. I got home in the wee hours of the morning and thought to myself, Self (as you do when you address yourself) Self, I thought, it'd be silly to set an alarm for the morning. You don't have anywhere to be till 3 PM. Even you can't sleep that late.

I would like to inform Last Night Self that she is STUPID. Because I woke up at 2:55PM and had to bike to campus sans coffee and sit through a whole bureaucratic bullshit session on whether "First Year Composition" is a hurtful title for the course that is, in fact, a composition class for first years because sometimes sophomores and juniors end up there after failing multiple times and we wouldn't want to hurt their dainty feelings, now would we also without cofffeeeee.

So, kids, today's lesson is this: Harry Potter should not dissuade you from setting an alarm.

Or something.

On the plus side, I got accepted to a panel on Darwin at the NeMLA this year--held at my undergrad! I can stay at home, chill with my dad, reboot my native Jersey-ness. It will be AWESOME.
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I've been visiting family in the mid-west for a couple of days now. The cottage we're staying at has been in the family for a couple of hundred years and (though that is unspectacular for anyone not from America) that's pretty awesomely old. If I understand things correctly, my great-great-great-(rinse-and-repeat)-great grandmother probably poisoned her rich older husband after he built this cottage and married her young lover. Who also died. Anyway, we have this awesomely old cottage.

My uncle, who inherited it (and is the only person in his generation who could afford to have a summer home), is more than a little wealthy. It's very strange to slip into his kind of lifestyle temporarily--especially because this summer place is all about aristocratically pretending to be in a lower income bracket, much like Marie Antoinette's cottage. It's still very authentic to how it had always been but, back in the day when my grandmother still owned it, it didn't have much of a bathroom. Instead, it had a kickass outhouse. See? Times have changed.

But, yeah, we're in farmland and staying with my richest relative. It's odd. And then...we went to a rodeo.

Most of the events I was just like "Why are you dragging that poor clown around the mud again?" or "Couldn't you get the cow to stay still while you milked it?" and other questions of logic. It was fantastic.

The evening ended on a rather low note: a guy got crunched by a bull. It turned out he only had a broken leg but it kind of broke the mirage for me. I mean, the person who provided the music had sad music on cue. They also had music for when, like ten minutes later, a bull escaped the pens. There is a certain disregard for human (and animal) life there that is disconcerting. I would rather skip the bull-related deaths, thankyouverymuch, and get back to the wild cow milking and barrel runs. Those were awesome.

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ifeelbetter

August 2012

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