Friendsgiving

For the years that I remember Thanksgiving, I spent them in Fort Dodge, Norfolk, or Lincoln, up through my 21st year. In each of these cases, I was with my immediate family, and often my grandparents and/or aunts, uncles, and cousins.  It was purely a family event.

For my next six years, I was not around my immediate family, but was around my cousins and aunt & uncle in Milwaukee, whom I did not see very often when I used to live in Lincoln. It wasn’t just family at this one, as a dear family friend of my aunt and uncle joined us each Thanksgiving that I was there.

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[M.M.X.I.V. 6] Bonus vacation!

When I flew into Lincoln for my winter break, my plane was delayed by about an hour.  I framed it as a sacrifice so that Casey would avoid the ACTHD (Angry Casey-Travelling Hating Deity… OK, that doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as AIRBHG).

At the end of the vacation (i.e. yesterday), my plan was to go to Omaha with Mom, Dad, and Levi, have lunch with my aunts, uncles, and cousins from Omaha, and then to go to Eppley Airfield to fly back to Chicago.

After a slow start to the day, I realized that I didn’t have my signature purple-white-red scarf.  So, we made a detour to the office–search failed!  Another place I might have left it: Valentino’s, which turned out to be where I left it.  But we had insufficient time to pick it up.

Not far away, however, on 84th Street, my phone went crazy with announcements: Ulpan cancelled Monday.  Northwestern closed Monday.  Northwestern women’s basketball game postponed.  Recalling that Southwest Airlines gave me an opportunity to change my flight to another available date and time (some restrictions apply) with no penalty, Mom convinced me to stay in Nebraska another day or two.  So, therefore I postponed my vacation’s end from Sunday at 18:55 to Tuesday at 16:20.  BONUS VACATION TIME!

The rest of the day in Omaha, therefore, was pressure-free.  Unfortunately, half of my Omaha family was not at the lunch, because they were “stuck” on vacation in a tropical locale.  Still, it was good to see whom I was able to see.  We also got some cold-weather implements at Cabela’s, had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, and dropped Levi off at his house before Mom, Dad, and I returned to Lincoln.  However, the scarf pickup mission failed.  I can get it today or tomorrow!

Interestingly, this is the third time that I have had a school break extended by weather.  The long weekend that ended the first quarter of 1997-98 was super-extended by the October Storm of 1997.  Then, in 2006, my spring break was extended by two days.  Although in both of those cases, I was “in town” with the extension of those breaks.

And, I’ve been attempting to get back into research today.  But it has not been easy, as my mind is in a weird limbo: my break is “technically” over, but because I am still physically in my locale of vacation, my motivation is low.  Of course, this is a difficulty that I must overcome!

The difficulty there is worth it, since I get to spend some extra time in the presence of my parents.  The readers probably know by now that I am a family man.

And tomorrow, I return to Chicago, unless I further anger the ACTHD…

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Today is the sixth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes six days.

Change of pace

In some sense, this is a continuation of a post from earlier in March: “Yawn!”

As is probably evident from many of my blog posts, I tend to have a lot of activities going on.

Research!

Card games!

Bike rides!

Sporting events!

Lots of other go-go-go events!

Services at Hillel!*

Family time!*

Notice that the latter two items have asterisks.  I like them just as much, if not more so, than some of the other activities in the non-bulleted bullets.  However, those events tend to be less physically and/or mentally involved than the others.  (Even though davenning uses spiritual energy, I find it uses a different part of my brain than when I am thinking with research or teaching.)

Indeed, the latter two seem a change of pace from my hectic “regular” life.  Oftentimes, when I am with family, our activities can be lower-key, like hanging out around the house, chatting or watching TV.  I treasure these times, since I am with the most important people in my life, but I tend to get yawny or feel tired in these situations, especially on holidays.  For example, last night, by 20:30, I was already starting to feel tired, despite not having done much during the day.  It was relaxing sitting on the couch after dishes and חנוכה candles, just chatting about various topics.

In the March post, I had mentioned that I sometimes get yawny on Sunday afternoons or evenings, and gave a few possible reasons.  For this case, I have a feeling that, when it comes to Saturdays in which I try closer to follow the laws of שבת, or to holidays with family, clearly I am not in a go-go-go mood.  It’s a change of pace from my usual, and in some sense, I feel that my usual busy schedule, rather than sapping my energy, actually provides me with energy.  It is not a perpetual motion machine, but since I approach these activities with such vim and vigor, alacrity reigns even if I have already done a bazillion activities in a day.

The days of less activity give me more time to think, I feel, and also the change of pace seems to really slow me down.  I’ll call it constructive boredom.  As I think I have mentioned in some previous posts, I know my boundaries on productivity, and when I am on vacation, I would rather be bored than attempting to work against my will.  Boredom is not a bad thing, especially when seen as a change of pace.  In some sense, boredom for me is often accompanied by togetherness, and that turns it into a positive.

Let me put it in another way.  Despite all of my activities, sometimes I feel that they are often in a state of being alone (NOT “lonely”).  Being around other people helps me to break out of my shell of being alone, and in some sense, my go-go-go is an Aspie shell that I raise. Holidays, family time, and other times of togetherness help to break it down.  It is, frankly, somewhat ironic, since the go-go-go could be construed to some people as sensory overload!

Therefore, this description of lack of energy should NOT be construed as a complaint at all.  At the end of the day, I feel that with whom you are is more important than what you have done.

(OCTOBER XIV) Appreciation

I begin this post with a reprint of a Facebook status that I posted on May 1, 2011.  Here it is:

“Whom you are with. It’s more important than where you are.”

As my readers may know, this weekend I was back in Lincoln and Omaha for Sam’s בר מצוה (bar mitzvah), which obviously involved seeing my family, both immediate and extended.  I consider myself to be a real family man, as it has always been meaningful to me being in the presence of family.  Actually, the Facebook status came from a weekend that Mom and Dad spent with me in Chicago.  Though it was great that they came to see me in Chicago, I would have been happy seeing them in Chicago, Lincoln, or even some Po-Dunk place.  My parents are my strongest role models, and although I talk with them on the phone quite frequently, phone conversations and even Skype conversations cannot replace physical proximity.  As social creatures, humans need true face-to-face contact to stay healthy and sane.

When I was younger, living in Fort Dodge, Iowa, most of our vacations were not to “exotic” locations, but rather to Lincoln, Omaha, or Milwaukee, to be with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  Honestly, I think this is the best way to do vacations with younger children.  In this way, the younger children get an opportunity to more comfortably build relationships with people older than them of whom they are related.  Vacations to be with extended family for younger kids is more important than “exotic” destinations that are not as likely to be remembered.  Your relationships with family will last a lifetime, but even the “trip of a lifetime” will have memories that dwindle over time.  This is especially true if the kids are too young to appreciate it.

Living in Chicago, though I have many friends (although most people would consider them to be acquaintances instead), I miss the opportunity to be around family.  This makes every time that I go to Nebraska or Milwaukee, and every time that family members come to Chicago, personally salient.  Though I didn’t appreciate time with family when I was younger, once I moved out and could not take it for granted, it dawned on me how important it is to have a strong bond with the clan.  It doesn’t matter what activities we are doing when together–the togetherness is what matters.

Furthermore, even though everyone in the family has their own quirks, knowing how others in your family act in their own ways can help you to understand when others unrelated to you act in different ways.  In the idea of extending a family (i.e. through relationships), I have a feeling that having a strong bond with your own family is necessary to be able to develop meaningful relationships with people on the outside.  Not in the sense of your family being “practice” for other relationships, but especially your older cousins, or your aunts and uncles, etc.  They may have advice for you!

Yet, at the same time, the great thing about occasions for family reunions such as בני מצות, weddings, and other happy events is that they bring the family together.  However, sometimes there can be “too much family.”  I don’t feel that I have ever been “family’d out” from suchlike events, but not everyone feels the same way.  Despite coming from the same ancestors, different branches from the parents will be non-identical, due to factors such as spouse, kids, personality, and much more.  Though an ideal family would have everyone getting together well, some can be an explosion waiting to happen.  Of course, I never consider these, since I try to be a tension tamer.

But, all in all, I have enjoyed this weekend with kin and look forward to seeing Mom, Dad, Casey, and Levi next weekend in Chicago for the Husker game!

Today is the fourteenth day of O.C.T.O.B.E.R.  That makes two weeks.