December 31, 2012

Getting The Best Start

When 2010 was such a terrible year in every facet I made the decision that 2011 would not be the same. It didn't happen all at once, but I eventually got a job that wasn't great but gave me abilities and skills I didn't have before (which led to the great job I have now), started the most wonderful relationship, and ran 3 half-marathons. When 2012 started (by the way, how is it that you can tell so much from a new year's kiss?) I was confident it would be as good as 2011 was, and it only got better. Now it's ending and I have an amazing job at a fantastic company, my relationship with the boyfriend has gotten stronger and I love where I live and how I live.

Going over my predictions for 2012 from last year, I'm a little disappointed. The Mayan End of Times was no big deal. People seemed to treat it like I've treated all of the past end of times... with a party. The last day of the world was the night my company's holiday party and the group next to us was an End of Times dinner party. Awesome, but there wasn't as much fear mongering as there used to be. I suppose people are becoming more rational. Sigh.

2012 has been the year of Apple. In June I bought myself a new shiny, and in October the boyfriend got me a mini shiny, helping me finally join the world of iPhone (yay!). I bought a heavy duty case for it, mostly because the boyfriend is convinced I'm going to drop it in the toilet or something (to his credit, just the other day I was holding it while standing perfectly still and somehow it leaped out of my hand, but my hyper-aware iPhone reflexes helped me catch it, so there), but I want a thinner case to show off the sexy profile. Cause let's be real: a big part of the reason I wanted this phone was because of the slim, sexy design, and my case lets everyone know that I'm a clumsy fool. Or that I have a toddler.

This month my car and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary and I can proudly say I'm a full-fledged stick driver. Plus, I taught the boyfriend to drive so whose car we take doesn't turn into a who has to drive situation. We took my car on a 2,00+ mile road trip up to Oregon in August and he gave it a couple of sexy photo shoots. 

There were a few sort-of disappointments this year. The main disappointment being I did not beat the 2 hour mark on my half marathon in 2012, and in fact did not even come close. I ran the worst race of my life, coming at barely under 3 hours. Embarrassing. But here's to making 2013 better.

I also took out the piercing I got in 2011, finally admitting that it was infected and just not worth the pain and hassle (and money). Rather than working towards 7 piercings, I'll just stick with the 5 healthy ones I already have and be satisfied with that odd number. Maybe that's me being a little bit of an adult... other people, some of whom are younger than me, are removing piercings because they aren't "adult" so maybe it's not so bad that I do, too. 

This year has been a pain in the ass for birth control. I still had no insurance so had to rely on Planned Parenthood even though I was working full time for all of the year, and it's been really frustrating having to give up so much just to stay un-pregnant. I'm not one of those women who has to take hormonal birth control for medical reasons, so for me it's just to be able to have a normal relationship with my boyfriend and not have children neither of us want. Which seems simple enough, doesn't it?

Also, the fish I got in 2011 died. 

I'm ending the year with almost as much debt as I paid off in 2011, which is OK because I have the money to pay it off, but have been saving it for an apartment deposit. Once I have my moving situation settled it'll be paid off in no time. Making pretty good money helps.

So what's going to happen in 2013? One of the first things will probably be moving. This will be a terrific milestone for me because I haven't moved since late 2010, a feat I never really thought I'd do (one thing that stayed the same from 2011 to 2012 was not moving). Now that I'm working 4 blocks from my current apartment I have no reason to leave - especially since I love the neighborhood. So finding a place that likes dogs will be one of my first tasks. My second task will be to start training for my 5th half marathon - the 3rd annual Safari Park Half. This time it's for rhinos! I'm so excited to run for the guys I love. My third event will be my first time as a bridesmaid! All of those activities will take place before June, so I have no idea what the second half of the year will hold, but I'm really excited. If the first 6 months tell me anything, 2013 is going to be another great year.

My resolution will be to redesign this blog, host it myself, and write 10 posts a month. I want a new name, a new home, and a new look. I would also like to do some of the same things for the food blog, even though that's still relatively new... Also take that blog a little more seriously and write a lot more. 

I would like to write about some of the other things that happened in 2012, things not directly related to me, but when I think about what the world was focused on this year (rape, shady politics, genocide, taxes) it mostly depresses me.

So here's to a fantastic 2013, to all of those in my life old and new, to those who had a great year and those who had a not so great year. May 2013 be one of the greatest years. Cheers!

December 26, 2012

Another Word On Gun Control

Since I am a writer and I have a blog, and since I am American and human and disgusted at the violence against children we value so highly, I'm going to weigh in on the gun control debate that is consuming our country. (Spoiler alert: gun nuts may want to stop reading right about now.)

The gun control debate is a distraction.

That we're even arguing about gun control and gun rights in the wake of 20 dead children and 8 dead adults is ridiculous. I've been reading about guns and gun rights and gun ownership and gun violence every day for a week and have heard the full range of opinion from all sides. In the end, I've decided "gun rights" is an oxymoron. Americans should not have the right to own a gun. No one should have the right to own something designed exclusively to kill.

But what about protection? While guns may be purchased under the assumption that they will only be used in cases of self defense (for example, in a home invasion or robbery), guns are not typically used for protection. Guns settle escalating arguments (hardly a noble motive), guns provide a means for letting out anger against another person, guns are used against friends and family members, and guns are fired accidentally during play or cleaning or "empty" threats. But guns are not used - widely, at least - to protect their owners. Sure, there are some people who are able to defend their lives and property against someone else with a gun because they have a gun, but those people are in the extreme minority.

But what about hunters? I don't know many hunters, but the ones I do know use more traditional weapons - single bullet rifles (or bird shot), knives, single line fishing rods, etc. I do not know of a hunter who uses or claims to need an automatic weapon for hunting. Nor have I ever heard of a hunter who claims to rely on an automatic weapon. In fact, hunters widely take pride in their skill at killing a fleeing animal with a single shot (or maybe two). Blindly shooting into a forest to kill a deer and anything else in your path is not a skill, and is not the point of hunting (any hunters out there are welcome to correct me). There are rules, regulations, and etiquette that hunters follow, and those who deviate are fined, banned and/or ridiculed by their fellow hunters. A "hunter" who shoots up a deer half a dozen times and uses absolutely no stealth, strength or aim to kill is not the same as a hunter who tracks and cleanly kills a deer causing almost no disruption to the rest of the forest. A hunting rifle will have 5 or 6 bullets in the magazine, while a military style automatic weapon (of similar structure) will have a magazine that can hold dozens, if not hundreds, of bullets.

But what about the second amendment? Bullshit. In all likeliness, the 2nd amendment was not created so that all citizens can freely carry automatic weapons, hidden in coats in public places armed with bullet proof vests and military armor, it was created to ensure a prepared military. Which we have. In fact, we have the most highly trained military in the world, full of fucking volunteers, who want to do nothing but be in the military. Our country spends more money arming and preparing the several branches of our military to respond to any situation imaginable. There's no chance that many millions of people, most of whom probably join the military to protect the American people, would go along with a government take-over that the seemingly paranoid NRA believes could happen.

But what about my freedom and right to own a gun? If your freedom to own a gun - something that's sole purpose is to kill - means that my freedom and right to live is at risk, I'm going to argue that your freedom is less important than mine. Because by law it is. The NRA saying that we need more civilians to be armed with guns to prevent murders from happening means I need to rely on others to protect me. Since no one is saying every American should have and carry a gun those who are uncomfortable with that prospect don't have to carry one. But it also means that we can't stop certain people from having and carrying guns, if it's a right bestowed on all Americans, which means I'm at the mercy of all those potentially unstable gun toting citizens. But hey, that's their right, right?

So what if it's unlikely that I'll actually use the gun I bought for the reasons I said I bought it, I still have the right and still want the opportunity to use a gun for those reasons. Again, I have to call bullshit. If you know that a gun at home is far more likely to kill a family member (or yourself) than an intruder and you still want one, you're not thinking clearly. And anyone who is not thinking clearly should not have a gun. Let's, for argument's sake, say you buy a handgun for protection against home robbery. Let's say you wake up in the middle of the night because you  hear someone coming into your home (and let's assume it's not your kid coming back late, the dog making a racket, or someone you know doing something completely innocent) and you have your handgun at hand. Because you're worried about protecting yourself, you don't keep your gun in a safe, and it's always loaded. After arming yourself, you creep down the hall to where you hear the intruder. It's dark, but you obviously can't turn on any lights. You find the suspect in the living room, snooping around. Fortunately, he hasn't noticed you yet, so you have the advantage. You shoot. What are the odds you hit? Perhaps the gun had more of a kickback than you remembered the last time you used it. Perhaps it was darker than you thought and the suspect was the easy chair, which now has a nice hole in it. Perhaps your hand was shaking at the prospect of killing a person (even an intruder) and you missed entirely. Perhaps you hit the person but didn't kill him or her. What now? You're in your PJs, the intruder has every advantage now. Chances are the intruder will now fire at you, and because he or she is more accustomed to holding and firing a gun and because he or she has grown accustomed to the darkness, you're hit. You may not die, but now the intruder is gone and you need an ambulance. And that's the scenario if all goes well. If the "intruder" is your kid or your dog or someone you don't want to kill you're totally fucked if that bullet finds its target. If, because you want easy access to it in case of an intruder you don't keep your gun in a safe, someone else finds the gun and accidentally kills themselves or someone else, will you still advocate owning a gun for protection? No one can answer this until it happens. You absolutely cannot speculate how you would feel until your kid or your parent or your spouse, or even your dog, is dead because you had a gun.

Yes, people will still kill people even if no one has a gun. But it'll be a lot, lot harder. Kids won't accidentally die after finding a gun kept for protection, arguments won't escalate to the point that someone grabs his gun, 20 children won't die in 15 minutes because someone had a gun. Yes, we'll still have cars and knives and bombs and cross bows and even airplanes that will kill mass people. But not more than 8 thousand people in one year. And that's the point. No one is saying that we will eliminate murders or suicides if we eliminate guns.  But there will be far, far, far fewer.

December 17, 2012

Teaching For The Money

Because I wanted to post a cat picture, and this was highly relevant.

How many teachers do you know? How many teachers do you know who got into teaching because it paid well? How many teachers do you know who got into teaching because making a difference in kids lives and doing something worthwhile was important to them?

I know several teachers and not one of them got into it because it would make them rich. Sure, regular vacations was appealing, especially to those who want kids (making it easier to have a career and kids). But my teacher friends figured they'd have about enough to get by - maybe their spouses would have higher earning careers so they could afford the kids they wanted.

My teacher friends paid their own money to go through a credential program in order to teach the children of their communities. And they do it while paying down the loans they took to get their Bachelors and their credentials (and some their masters), making just enough money do do so and pretend to be middle class, and if they put in enough time they'll get a nice teaching position in a school close to their homes and have their loans paid off and be able to lead nice, modest lives.

But what is the first thing on the chopping block every time we have budget issues? Teachers. School supplies. Even the number of days our kids are in school. And how does this help? It gives teachers fewer earning days a year, lessening their salaries by hundreds or thousands, which means they have less money to spend on their kids or their classrooms (a lot of teachers use their own money to buy classroom supplies), less money to spend improving our economy. It also means parents of kids have to spend more money on daycare or more time bribing others to watch their kids or take more time off work (days they don't earn money) to keep their kids occupied. Each day a parent doesn't earn money is less money the family has to spend on the economy, and each paycheck that goes to daycare is less money on other things. How this will help our economy in the long run is something that I've yet to understand.

Politicians have all but accused teachers of not being altruistic enough when they protested budget cuts. Every year hundreds of teachers (whole school systems) receive layoff notices, putting hundreds of people out of work. Many of these teachers regain their jobs or find new jobs in other districts, but the stress that ensues means they stash away any extra cash they might have, stopping it from reentering the economy. Politicians stop just short of saying our kids' education isn't important, teachers should just be happy to be influencing the next generation, and there are more important things than school. 

But what happens when these same teachers lay down their lives - literally - for their students? What happens when teachers hide their kids from a gunman, saving them, and lose their lives for their efforts? All we can do is call them heroes. But in 6 months when we're still having budget issues these teacher's colleagues will be on the chopping block. Again. Because we have no other way to thank them. 

Perhaps it's time to start rethinking our values as a country. Maybe the second amendment isn't as important as the value we place on education from a young age. Maybe a defense budget isn't as important as widespread physical and mental health care. Maybe we should commit to short term sacrifices for the long term good. Or maybe I'm just a liberal woman who doesn't know anything.

December 16, 2012

Just Another School Shooting

I heard the reports that there was a gunman on an elementary school campus in Connecticut Friday morning around 8:30, right when I got into work to start Twittering and Facebooking for my clients. At that time the Tweets weren't saying there were any deaths, so I kept scrolling, looking for something relevant to post or retweet.

Had I clicked on any of the links in those tweets I might have learned far earlier what happened. It wasn't until after 11am Pacific time when a coworker asked  if we'd heard about the 27 dead in the school shooting.

Wait... what?

Twenty seven. Dead. Most of them children.

Throughout the day I paid close attention to Twitter, waiting to see the latest as the story unfolded. My office was quiet for a long time - like the rest of the country we were shocked, horrified and saddened that such a thing would happen to 6 and 7 year old kids. The shooter was barely an adult himself at just 20. Why would he target classrooms of little kids?

There was the range of typical emotions I felt on Friday (anger, frustration, sadness, shock), but one I did not feel was surprise. When I saw that first tweet my thought was just another school shooting. I hoped no one was injured, and assumed that if anyone was it would be just 1 or 2 people, like what had happened just two goddamned days earlier in Oregon. The point was this had happened so many times just in the last 6 months that I very nearly brushed it off completely. It seems like there's always someone with a gun  going crazy and not caring if they die. For a long time, Columbine was a word everyone knew. Then so was Virginia Tech. These places were where innocent kids (and young adults) died because a crazy classmate wanted to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. Now I'm honestly having a hard time remembering the names of the schools and towns where massacres took place over the last two years. This year was that place in Arizona where the state representative was shot in the head but survived, there was the midnight movie theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, a few people killed in a mall in Oregon, and now there's Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, a place I'm sure to forget after the next few mass shootings. 

There's not enough time in between shootings now to really commemorate each location. We all knew Columbine and Virginia Tech like we knew 9/11. There are kids alive right now who know nothing of what it was like before we killed each other on a regular basis and endured being killed by extremists. Taking off their shoes, being touched by strangers in an airport security line and being scanned for explosives is just how we fly planes now. I remember when the building in Oklahoma City was bombed: that was heavy news for a good week that caused my mom to cry for days. I remember feeling for the kids in that building, there only because one company provided daycare for its employees, and wondering why that man would do such a thing.  Now a school shooting (as horrible as an elementary school massacre is) is just one more tragedy.*

A second thought: there was a lot of misinformation reported on Friday. Other than me thinking no one had died, it was reported that the shooter was targeting his mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook, and her classroom. It was also reported that the shooter's dad's body was found at his house later in the afternoon. It was also reported that there were two shooters, brothers, and one had escaped to the woods nearby. All of these things (and possibly more things) are false. There was one shooter, and his father is still alive. His mother, not a teacher at that school, was found shot to death in her bed in the home she shared with the shooter (it was her guns the shooter stole and used). The shooter acted entirely alone, and his brother was unfairly arrested and questioned. The Huffington Post also had to edit a report that "misidentified" a Facebook profile as that of the shooter (major oops).

What's with journalists? Are they so excited to be the first to report something that they won't check to make sure it's correct? Does accuracy not matter anymore? Just because one cop or paramedic makes a remark or comments on something does not mean it's true. Plus, the reporters were going around to the surviving 7 year olds and asking them what they heard, what they felt, and how they got out alive. Fucking 7 year old little kids are being interviewed and asked what it was like to survive one of the worst school shootings in the country's history. I wonder how that's going to make them feel when they're old enough to understand what happened. Reporters should have laid off the kids. Talk to adults in the school, or parents after they found out their kids were safe... but leave the traumatized kids alone.

*Aside: Up until the first week of November of this year the there was a lot of debate between the presidential candidates, their VPs, and various other congress members and senators about who will keep us safer from extremists who hate our way of life and want Americans dead. Maybe it's time to focus less on outside forces and more on those within our ranks who want us dead (or at least some of us). 

December 12, 2012

Feeling Like A Child

Childhood relics at your parent's house can set a person back.

There's an article in Cosmo magazine (I know, I know, but my littlest sister pointed it out [who is their demographic, after all] and it wasn't awful) offering advice for those with emotional distress when home for the holidays. It was targeted at the young adults who are newly into their adult lives: out of college, in big kid jobs with big kid responsibilities and lives, who suddenly feel like children as soon as they're back in their teenage rooms and being chauffeured in the back seat of mom and dad's car. 

This article was pointed out to us because it's my sister's way of telling us that she feels like we treat her like a child, and not like the young adult with responsibilities that she is. She's never been one to openly discuss her feelings, so just showing us an article in a magazine is an invitation to talk about it. 

So we talked about it. Not with her, of course, because we're a normal dysfunctional family. Amongst ourselves, though, yes. We discussed what she might be feeling, what she might want us to do, what we might be doing that is causing her to feel like we see her as a child. And we pointed a lot of fingers. OK, I did a lot of the finger pointing.

I haven't felt like a child when visiting back home in a few years. But I did feel like that when I was my sister's age. And I do feel like that at my boyfriend's parents' house. Not because they treat me like a kid, or treat him like a kid, not at all. In fact they treat us both like adults. And not because of the way they talk to either of us. But I do feel like a kid when we have to sleep in different rooms. 

To be perfectly fair, I fully understand that this is a their-house-their-rules type of situation and I would never, ever say a word (hope they don't find this); and it's not like we're married or engaged or even living together (though I seriously hope one of those things would cause the room situation to change). But my boyfriend, their son, is 30. We're in a serious enough relationship that we're taking each other to our respective families for the holidays. And I'm pretty sure they're both aware we spend the majority of our nights together. But I sleep in the room next to the master and he sleeps in a room on the other side of the house. And I feel like I'm 17 who needs to be stopped from doing naughty things with her boyfriend rather than an adult in a totally normal adult relationship.

The Cosmo article also touched on dealing with family opinions and beliefs that may be different from yours, giving changes in religious and political beliefs as an example. Having to sleep in a different room is conforming to a belief that I don't share. While this is a more extreme example from the annoying-but-harmless dinner table discussions about who voted for who the magazine was hinting at, the feeling is there. You don't want to say anything and start something (especially in my family...), but the article pointed out that if you don't speak up your family won't learn who you are as a new young adult. This is easily my sister's largest issue: blame it on the divorce, but both of my sisters are massive people pleasers who will do anything to avoid a fight and anything to make everyone else happy. This  means repressing a lot of their own feelings and emotions, which is also not healthy. 

If the holidays make you stressed out (and I think most people feel some stress during this time), do what you can for yourself. Take a step back, distance yourself if you have to, and remember that you can't control how other people react or feel. I was reminded that these situations are a two way street, and that each person has to give a little to get somewhere. Myself included.

December 9, 2012

Letting A Piercing Close Up

Right after I got my 6th piercing

Over a year ago I went with my sisters to get our ears pierced, me taking the next step towards having 7 piercings. I chose to pierce the middle of my left ear which only had the lobe pierced from when I was 11, sorta evening out my ears in a very uneven way. 

At the time I was really excited about it (even though the shop itself was a bit too shady...) and it didn't feel any worse than any other piercing I'd ever gotten. But it ended up getting a slight infection and I had to use saline solution for a lot longer than usual, but then it got better.

The earring was a bit bigger than the other cartilage piercing I have, something I didn't notice at the time. So a month ago, when my newest piercing got suddenly swollen and painful, I took out the earring and put in my smaller one. It felt great and the hole started to close around the smaller earring. Success!

And then yesterday it swelled up again and was immensely painful. Goddammit. 

It throbbed and itched and huuuuuurt to touch. The boyfriend's advice was to stop poking holes in my ears and they wouldn't hurt. My mom's advice was to stop getting piercings. I started to think they might be right, so I took out the earring. 

It was disgusting. I won't go into detail here but it was super gross. On the upside, after taking the earring out and cleaning the piercing it felt way better. So I've decided to let it close up. I'll settle for 5 good, healthy piercings and not worry about having 7 like I originally wanted. And when it comes down to it that piercing was not my favorite anyway, so it's better to sacrifice that one and keep the ones I love.

And,  you know, keep a healthy ear.

December 7, 2012

To Die Young And Unhappy

(Or, how misleadingly titled "studies" create sensationalism.)

Two flawed studies today revealed that if I keep to my way of life I will die young and unhappy. Or at least younger and less happy than others.

No, not because I have a crazy wild lifestyle and party hard and make risky choices, but because I am childless and non-religious. Apparently, not having children causes a death rate of two to four times as high as those who have children and not being religious robs me of happiness.

The first study: The one that says the childless have a higher death rate than the child-bearing looked at couples in Denmark treated for infertility, and collected data from birth and death registries, IVF records, hospital admissions, psychiatric services, and labor market statistics. During the 14 year study, a large number of women and larger number of men died and a very large number of women and slightly less large number of men were diagnosed with a mental illness. "Having a child cut the risk of early death, particularly among women." Childless men and women are 2 and 4 times more likely to die from circulatory disease, cancer, or accidents than those who conceive or adopt. To their credit, the study does end by saying correlation is not causation, so I guess there's that.

The flaws: First and foremost, the title of the study is quite misleading. Death is not 2-4 times more likely for childless couples because everyone dies. Obviously that wasn't the point, but I will still point out a second flaw in the title, which is acknowledged in the study itself: there is no differentiation between voluntarily childless couples and involuntarily childless couples. It also points out a glaring problem with the whole having children quest some people are on: if mental illness (depression) and a risk of an earlier than normal death is so prevalent among the involuntarily childless, why not adopt? The study recorded that only 1,500 of 21,000 couples treated for infertility adopted (15,000 conceived). This means there were 4,500 couples who were unable to conceive a child and chose not to adopt... I'm guessing these were the couples that were diagnosed with depression and died earlier than the others. The study showed that couples that adopted could halve their risk of mental illness, which makes sense: if you spend your whole adult life lamenting your infertility but don't adopt one of the very needy children in foster care because it's not your blood? I can see how you'd get depressed. And there was the awesome inclusion of "rates of mental ill health were similar between couples with and without children of their own, with the exception of those with drug and alcohol problems." Seems a little unnecessary to include that tidbit... 

The second study: The one that says religious people are happier than non-religious people looked at why this is found to be true ("considerable" research has been done on the topic). Turns out religion gives people a sense of purpose, is a resource for coping with life and fears, and provides them with a social network. Religion is a social activity and since social connectedness is a major contributor to individual happiness it stands to reason that the religious are happier. It's not just having a social circle, though, it's having the support of that social circle. Like the previous study, they do note that correlation is not causation and religion does not predict happiness by itself. (There was also mention of a separate study that looked at the repeal of blue laws, or laws that made it illegal for stores to be open on Sunday, and it found that women were happier when blue laws existed. In an almost funny manner, the writer of the study suggested that church makes women happier than shopping does.)

The flaws: The study points out that religion is only associated with greater happiness in countries where most of the people are religious, like in the United States (we also have the great fortune of equating Christianity with patriotism). The study is based on the premise that if most people form social ties through their religion, and you're not religious, you will have a hard time finding social support and will be less happy because of it. This also assumes that religious people won't want to befriend a non-religious person. The study does end by saying that it's not religion that makes people happy, it's the social ties religion facilitates that makes people happy, but I guarantee you a lot of people don't get past that goddamn sensationalist title.

My bottom line: Taking these titles to heart, I'll have a 4 times higher risk of death by cancer, an accident or circulatory disease if I remain childless and I'll waste away my remaining days unhappy with my life due to lack of social support. Which actually kind of makes sense: religious people have more kids than average, so if I'm childless I'm already kind of out of the loop, and if I'm childless and non-religious I'm pretty much just screwed.

December 6, 2012

Dividing The Holidays

The boyfriend and I wanted to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together this year, which meant dividing the holidays between our two families. It's not the first time I didn't spend both holidays with my family (I worked Thanksgiving and Christmas a couple years ago, seeing my family beforehand), but it is the first time I chose to spend one of the holidays with a boyfriend's family. 

We decided to spend Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. I'd met his parents before so that wouldn't be new, but it would be my first time meeting any other relatives. The plan was to go to his aunt and uncle's place in a nearby town, where I'd meet aunts, uncles and cousins from his dad's side. 

When we got there I was introduced to a flood of people and of course I don't remember most of their names. But I did end up sitting next to the funniest aunts, one of whom was laughing so hard (and at her own stories!) that she had to wipe tears from her eyes. They told stories of the jokes they played on their kids, of the unbelievable mishaps (a fake leg falling off while on a bicycle, no joke), of Thanksgivings past, and stories of relatives who weren't there and couldn't defend themselves. It was hilarious. They had me laughing so hard along with them that, along with several sarcastic comments, made me feel like I fit in.

Talking with some people a few days later I was asked if there were any foods at their Thanksgiving that weren't foods I was used to or anything I always had that they didn't have, and I realized there was no pumpkin pie. No pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving... I was surprised I didn't realize it at the time considering how pumpkin anything is pretty much my favorite. The boyfriend shrugged it off when I brought it up. They just don't really do pumpkin pie. Goddamn travesty.

Besides eating two fills of pumpkin pie over Christmas, I'm really excited to bring the boyfriend. And he's really excited, too! Having sisters makes holidays and special occasions so much fun and this year I get to share that with the person I love. As an only child he never spent Christmas morning with brothers, and though his extended family always got together cousins just aren't the same. This year he'll get to spend Christmas with my siblings, which I realize still isn't the same but he'll see how it is with us and be included in that.