32 tagged with #family

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Call Your Mother


Some Saturdays fly by, but it doesn't help when I don't crawl out of bed until just after noon. I try to resist planning for things to happen on Saturday, because it is my only explicitly unstructured day of the week, and I enjoy not giving that up. As a result, I generally plan to do all the things I don't tend to plan to do. I can't think about that too hard without falling into a feedback loop of hand-wringing.

I've put off laundry for days, and the food production aligned itself so fresh bread and fresh hummus happened at the same time. The sky is pressing a slow, drenching cold rain onto the earth, and my mother sent me a text declaring herself as having a couch potato day. I don't understand how anyone can purposely have a couch potato day, because there are few things that agitate me more than sitting in front of a television for more than ten minutes.

My father flew to China to spend a few weeks with his family, and my mother asserted that this means I have to call and text and email her so much more because he's out of reach. If she wanted to claim that she was lonely and needed the contact, I would have been less annoyed about the request, but it was bundled with her anxieties of getting robbed, slipping in the shower and hitting her head, or having a stroke on the kitchen floor. Given that she lives a five hour drive away, I'm not sure how sending her a text message every day would allow me to prevent those things from happening to her. In any case, within the first day that she was left alone, she used up all of the minutes on my phone plan for the month telling me about her grocery shopping.

I wonder what she did for the two weeks when my father and I were both in China. I'm conflicted between wanting to give her the support she desires and wanting to believe that she's not so emotionally helpless that she can't deal with being in the house by herself for a little while. I'm conflicted between letting myself get stressed out for two weeks so my mother is less stressed out, or taking care of myself by not allowing her to monopolize my energy when she requests hour-long phone calls every day.

And I'm sad that there are two states that cannot exist in harmony. Either my mother suffers, or I suffer.

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29 March 2014 16:03


Excerpts


Part of a response to my father, when he asserted that there is a hard cap on everyone's innate ability to do something as a reason for why he doesn't feel like working on improving his go playing in order to keep up with me:

I think you will never know how good you are capable of getting if you stop working on it, though. If you don't really know what 10k even feels like, how can you say that you don't think you'd be any better? The way I see it, I know what 7k is right now, and I know what I have to work on to get to 6k. When I reach 6k, I might know what I need to get to 5k. I can keep inching forward until I get to a point where I no longer know how to proceed. I reached this point a few years ago, around 14k, and thought I was basically done improving, but after some time to back off and start with a fresh approach, I've started improving again. I think I can keep doing this basically indefinitely; the only limiting factor for your skill is where you choose to stop improving. So, if you think you've reached that point, then you really will never get better. But there's no harm in staying at that level and working on it anyway, right?

Sometimes I underestimate my own capability for nauseating optimism and resisting fatalism.

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18 March 2014 12:27


Representation


I have a recent bug up my ass about my inability to draw things, only when I think about it, I realize that this is a recurrent bug that I've felt since I was a small child. In fact, the more I go through the things I have drawn in the past decade of my life, the more I am aware that I have not made any progress, but I just forget what happened the last time this gnawed at me and approach each phase of renewed effort at drawing as if I am doing it for the first time.

The first time I was asked by my parents to contribute to my grandmother's birthday card, I stated intent to draw a horse. After a few months of horseback riding lessons and spending a significant amount of my socialization with the canonical pod of little girls who draw horses, I thought this was a service I could perform. I don't know if it was that the mail system has ever truly been so undependable or if it was an effect of my parents' raging paranoia, but this was a card that we could guarantee delivery because it would be personally handled by a visiting uncle.

I recall an argument that involved my parents trying to convince me not to draw a horse, since at least one of my cousins was known to be a far more accomplished childhood doodler than I, and they worried that my horse would not look as good next to hers. I was beyond the age when ugly scribbles were considered cute, but not yet at an age where I had a firm enough grasp on things like perspective, line weight, and self-respect.

Ultimately, I don't remember if I drew a horse, or if I just filled the blank space allotted to me with flowers and badly-written Chinese. I have not tried to draw horses since that period of my life.

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09 March 2014 17:14


Home Sick


"It's not like it's anyone's fault that you're sick," is what he told me, and in that instant I realized everything about my associations with illness that make me so unwilling to stay in bed all day. I dragged myself through a 10F bike ride to work yesterday, despite my boss's gentle suggestion that perhaps I didn't need to pretend that I wasn't sick.

"You're not having fun now, are you?" my mother used to ask me, when I'd try to burrow into the bean bag in a corner of the kitchen, a mop bucket slowly filling up with my inability to keep down food. "I told you not to get sick."

It's why I'm happy to have the house to myself when I can wallow, when I don't have to either look more pathetic than I feel or sit up straight without sniffling to prove that I am well enough for more soup. The hammock is filled with blankets, a carefully arranged cocooning with interlocking layers that keep the cold air out. The downside is that once I've exited, peeling back the edges so I can ooze out and slowly drop to the ground, I can never return, because it will never be the warm and cozy burrito it was before I disturbed the shell.

I still easily forget that being sick isn't necessarily a poor reflection on one's moral character. I still steadfastly claim that I am not sick through a hoarse throat and a layer of phlegm. My boss still sends me home early.

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04 March 2014 16:05


Spring Head


The cardio room stocks a pair of indoor rowers, placed next to each other in one corner. It's rare that I use one and am alone through my entire workout; it's hard to keep my own pace when someone else is rowing inches to my side. Usually, I outrow my partner, and usually, I go through several of them before I'm ready to quit. Yesterday, I was trounced, and it felt good. The chances of finding a spare rower are much higher than a spare treadmill, and the activity is much more interesting to me on a purely intellectual level. I have very little desire to row an actual boat, but the ergometer provides an interesting set of statistics to stare at.

I stretch on a mat that overlooks the lap pool, and remember the days when I swam thrice a week. I have never been a fast or strong swimmer, but one summer of stubborn grinding at least gave me the ability to spend hours paddling. A few weeks ago, I swam over a spring head feeding northern Florida's waterways, a crack in the bedrock thirty feet below the surface that pushed sixty-five million gallons of water out of the aquifer per day. I could sustain swimming into it, if not for the pressure that crushed against my ears.

I have never been a diver. The draw of swimming hard against the invisible current kept me hovering in place, twenty feet below the surface, the point at which I could not sustain the pain enough to keep pressing downwards.

My mother never realized I had learned to swim; my childhood swimming was characterized by floundering in place and never moving in any direction I intended. She was raised in the water herself, but I still swam circles around her when we were looking at the spring head. My father spent years as a lifeguard, yet was terrified to put his head completely under.

There are days when I realize I've exceeded my parents in some things, and those are strange thoughts.

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28 January 2014 11:26


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