Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Letter

I saw this on the House of Hsus blog and thought it was a great idea: A blog post in the style of the traditional "update on our family" Christmas letter. So here's mine!

The biggest and most obvious change this year is my new job. Since November I've been an aide in the autism class for this county. I don't usually believe in fate, but I really feel like the stars aligned for me to get this job. I wasn't even looking for a school job anymore, but one just fell into my lap and it was the class I most wanted to be in out of the whole county - and I didn't even realize that until *after* I got the job. Those of you who know me well know that autism is where my heart is, and I really feel like this job is perfect for me at this point in my life. The other aides in the class are wonderful; I really couldn't ask for better coworkers. The kids have some serious problems and we have many bad days, but on good days we get to send some kids home clean and smiling who came in dirty and miserable, and that makes it worth it. (Plus, there's that whole "summer and holidays off" thing. That's pretty awesome too.)

Mama has decided she'd like to maybe start a little home business selling homemade candles, so I bought her some basic supplies. We haven't made any yet, but we probably will during Christmas break. I also would really like to start making jewelry to sell, so I asked for some beads and things for Christmas. Even if these things just stay as a hobby, we love candles and jewelry so having extras around is just fine with us.

Since I was unemployed most of the year, I spent that time playing around and learning. I studied German and I'm getting decent at playing the guitar. I learned some basic watercolor techniques and over the summer I got really interested in world history, mostly from playing Civilization II. I took a bellydance class but I quit halfway through because it was so far to drive. And of course I paid lots and lots of attention to the election - much more than ever before. But my biggest interest was alternative education methods. I spent lots of time reading about Montessori and Waldorf, and then homeschooling, and then unschooling. All of this constant shifting of values and ideals really helped me get a more positive attitude, since I've stopped feeling the pressure to live out some prepackaged life.

As for health, we've been up and down this year. Mama's emphysema has gotten a little worse and she has an oxygen tank, but rarely needs to use it. Otherwise we've been doing pretty well - Mama has only been in the ER once or twice all year (one was a false alarm) and I haven't been at all so far (knock on wood). My PCOS hasn't been acting up too bad, and my blood sugar has even been improving since I started work, probably because work forces me to be careful about eating enough protein at meals since I can't eat at any moment I choose. Oh - I did have a bout of mono in February, which I forgot about. But it wasn't a bad one, and I was unemployed and could get all the rest I needed, so that was fine. I seem to get it every couple of years, but it gets milder each time.

I've been able to do lots of fun stuff with friends this year! In April I went to Arizona and spent a week with Roni and Lyle and another week with Bobbie and Lin, who took me to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Plus I got to see Megan's Law perform, which was pretty rad. Then in the summer Fez was working in America for a month so he and Terry and I all went to Yasumicon (a small anime con) together in Miami - making that two internet friends (Fez and Roni) that I've met in person for the first time in one year. Not bad. And then in September, Terry threw a party (on my birthday, by pure coincidence) and Spiffy came down for that, so I went and stayed with them for a few days. And at the beginning of December I got to be a bridesmaid in Sarah and Dennis's wedding, which was really beautiful. The sad things this year were that Uncle Bill passed away in I think February, and that Spiffy moved back to New Jersey and Val moved to Boston. I miss them a lot, but I know they're happier than they were living here.

Somehow this keeps slipping my mind, but I also had my graduation ceremony from FCCJ in April. I actually got my diploma in August of 2007, but they only have the formal ceremony once a year so I had to wait. It was a nice ceremony and a lot of my friends showed up for it, which was the best part.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't include totally frivolous fun stuff in here! My favorite TV show this year (besides The Simpsons) has been The Venture Bros., which I've been totally in love with all year, especially in the summer when season 3 was coming out. And of course there's always music - this year my favorite stuff has been Genesis (which I got into like a month after telling Lin I hated them, because I am just difficult that way), Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson and David Bowie on the rock front, and George Winston, Libera and Secret Garden on the "new age filthy hippie" front. As for Mama, right now she's totally into watching Miami Vice because she apparently missed the 80s the first time around and is just now discovering them. She was really into 80s music too for awhile, but now she mostly listens to 50s on 5 on Sirius-XM.

We got a new cat at the beginning of the year, named Lady Blue, from a friend who couldn't keep her anymore. She's 14 now and I really don't think we were expecting her to be around this long, but she seems to be doing fine and is really enjoying the easy life of an indoor cat. All of our other animals are doing well too, although Jake had ear mites and got a hematoma that had to be removed. (All these old animals we have, and it's the baby that ends up racking up a big vet bill. Go figure.)

And that just about covers what we've been doing this year! I hope you all have a safe, merry and peaceful Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Festivus, or whatever it is that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy this time of year. Maybe it's vodka. Merry Vodka!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Positive choices

On days when it's really, really hard to get up and go to work (such as *ahem* the Monday after a five-day weekend), it helps to remind myself that having a job, and having this job, is my choice and not a great big have-to.

I'll say: "I chose to have this job. I could quit anytime, but I don't because I wouldn't like the consequences."

Hmm... that still sounds kind of yucky and oppressive. But today, instead, I said this:

"I chose to have this job. I could quit anytime, but I don't because there are too many good reasons to keep it."

Ahhh that feels better! Amazing how that one little rewording makes my chest a little less tight and my mood a little lighter.

Choosing something because there are good reasons to do it feels and sounds a LOT better than choosing something because bad things might happen if you don't choose it.