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I am very bad at updating this, but it is difficult to write about the same things all the time. I mean, it’s not like my past two months have been uneventful, there are just so few big things happening.

So, let’s see, where have I been?

After my last post in December, things were pretty good. I still had my crappy job, but I was riding high on the holiday festivities. Goodies to bake, presents to buy and make, presents to wrap, things to plan. Alex and I went on our first big date in a while and went to Basbeaux’s pizza and then the zoo, where we got to admire the pretty Christmas lights and see what little animals were out.

Then, there was Christmas. Mom flew down to Texas to visit her side of the family because for the first time ever, they had everyone down in Texas for Christmas – except for me. I had to work on the night of the 23rd. I got off work at 5:00 in the morning on Christmas Eve and drove the three hours down to my dad’s house. I nearly passed out on the front porch because I was so tired. When I went upstairs to sleep, however, that didn’t go over so well. I felt bad because my brothers and my youngest cousin were playing and they had to be told multiple times to be quiet because I was trying to sleep. Of course, with fifteen other people, two dogs, and two cats in a house, sleeping during the day just doesn’t work. I somehow made it through Christmas Eve without passing out, though.

Christmas overall was good. I wished that it had lasted a little longer, as the day after, everyone left my dad’s house – including my brothers. I had originally wanted to stay and hang out with them, but with that news, I decided to leave as well. Presents were fine, though sometimes I wish my family understood me more. I’m not the kind of girl who needs or wants two televisions in her house, nor am I the type of girl who needs the newest and best everything. My phone isn’t a smartphone, my laptop is going on five years and it might be on its last legs, but I’m not rushing out to buy a new laptop…

Anyway, so yeah. There was some awkwardness, to say the least. After leaving my dad’s, I drove up to Alex’s house and celebrated Christmas with him and his parents. I had to go back to work on that Tuesday night, so it was quite the whirlwind Christmas visit and it hurt. Yes, I know I’m a young adult and this is a part of growing up, but still. I don’t want to be lonely.

I was actually lucky to get the night off for my own birthday party. Two weeks beforehand, she had put me on the schedule for the 31st when I had been planning this party a month beforehand. I know that bosses don’t have to ask to schedule your times, but when I had previously been under the impression that I would have that night off (it was a voluntary sign-up sheet and I hadn’t signed it), I was greatly annoyed to see that I was scheduled. Lucky for me, the part-time guy wasn’t a jerk (for once) and took over for my shift. I was so happy. I didn’t have to ring in the New Year and my birthday in a place I hated with all my being, and I had one awesome party. It was such a good night, even though the oven went out the night before and I had to run over to Nick’s house and bake my birthday cupcakes at his house. Yeah, that was a fun story. Our garage door and the opener went kaput the day before that, too.

Anyway, so January was okay. My birthday was fun, we finally had our Secret Santa exchange, I got sick with what I am pretty sure was the flu, and Mom and I went over to Ohio to see my grandparents. That was a fun visit, let me tell you. I got home at 6:00 in the morning and we had to leave two and a half hours later. I basically went for twenty-seven hours on two hours of sleep. However, it was actually a great time. We went to an art museum and saw a huge exhibit on Norman Rockwell, and then ate dinner at an Irish pub where I had the best beef stew in a bread bowl. I seriously wish that place wasn’t hours away, it was so good.

This month is shaping up to be pretty good so far. We watched the Super Bowl and bored the crap out of my boyfriend. We ate good food, though! I’m reading more, writing, working out. I’m happier. I can breathe easier. I can’t remember the last time I cried. Seriously. It’s been so long since I had that uncontrollable wave of sadness.

You know why?

Because I left that horrible job.

No, I don’t have another job lined up, but I’m searching. There was only so much I could take. Driving for one and a half hours a night, paying at least fifty bucks, if not more, a week for my gas (and that’s only if I drove to work), and a few other factors worked into my decision. My family and friends have been pretty supportive about it, except for my grandpa. I mean, I know where he is coming from, but he doesn’t understand the magnitude of anguish I had been going through these past few months. He was there for Thanksgiving, he should have had some idea.

Sure, I wish I had some form of income right now, but my mental and physical health is not worth ten dollars an hour. Either that job had to go, or I am pretty sure I would eventually have had either an aneurysm or a heart attack at the age of 23. I know it was a risk to leave, but I am confident I will find something better.

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It has been eight days since my last bout of uncontrollable crying. So… progress! I am also happy to report that this is not the result of any prescription, but is completely natural. I have not felt sad. I’ve felt a little angry because of some things that are happening at my job, but not sad.

It has been a good past week. Last Sunday, I got to visit with Jennifer and her newly adopted kitty, Sadie, before Jennifer had to return to school. It was so great to see her, because I hadn’t since my Labor Day party. We just sat and talked for a few hours (and I fawned over her Sadie because I really wish I was in the position where I could adopt an animal right now), and I think that’s some of what I needed – just some social interaction.

Alex came up last Monday after he got off work and stayed the night. I made turkey broccoli fettuccine and garlic bread, we watched television together, played Words with Friends on his phone, and ran out to get Blizzards from Dairy Queen. I accidentally fell asleep on the couch with him, and I ended up going to bed at 10:00. Again, I was sort of lame and we didn’t do much, but all I needed was to be around him, and I felt better.

Tuesday, my day was pretty normal. I hung out in my pajamas, watched television, and knitted. I laid down for a nap around1:30, aiming to sleep until 4:30. I woke up at 5:00 when Mom came home. I had enough time, though, to take my shower and get dressed.

We had dinner at IHOP, where I had pumpkin praline pancakes with eggs, bacon, and hash browns. Then, Mom and I went to the movie theater to see The Muppets. The clerk said we had missed the first twelve minutes because there is a discrepancy between the times on the mall website and a normal Google search, apparently. We still took the chance (and got a discount on our tickets), and it was perfect. We didn’t miss any of the movie, just the previews and the Pixar short before it. There were only two other people in the theater. And the movie? It was magical. I would say that if you are a person who has ever enjoyed the Muppets, you would enjoy the new movie. They’ve done a wonderful job of mixing the old material with the new, the cameos were great (Neil Patrick Harris, Alan Alda, and Jim Parsons FTW) and there were several times where I was in a laughing fit. I am certain that I was grinning from ear to ear the entire film.

At the end of the movie, there’s a bit that might make you tear up a little. Not because it’s sad, but because it’s such a display of how the Muppets will always be in the hearts of those who grew up with them in their households (like my mom and myself), and there is room for them in the hearts of generations to come. I could hear my mom sniffling next to me, and I reached out to pat her leg, as I understood what she was feeling. Then I shed a few tears myself, because I felt like it was okay to. These weren’t tears of frustration, pain, and sorrow like they have been, but tears of love, for beloved characters I was glad to welcome back

The rest of my week has been pretty decent. I’ve wrapped the majority of my presents and put them under the tree (why yes, I am an overachiever), Mom and I have figured out what Christmas goodies we are making, and then we took our Christmas card picture. Yes, that’s right. We have a bunch of Christmas cards with photo frames, and since this might be the last Christmas my mom and I have while living under the same roof (as I’m hoping to move out next year), we took a Christmas picture together to put in our cards for the first time EVER. Yeah, this Christmas season has been full of weird twists this year, and it’s not over yet.

My nights at work have been okay. We haven’t been too busy. I loathe Thursdays and Fridays, but once I get over that little hump, I only have to work Saturday night until I’m free. This past Saturday night was a nightmare. We were not only full, but a lot of my co-workers on other shifts neglect to pass messages on to other shifts, or they don’t pay attention and it trickles down to our shift. I was so glad when my relief came in on Sunday morning. It was one of those mornings I was surprised I made it home because I was so tired, and I’m surprised I just didn’t lose control of myself because it was just such a long night.

When I came home, Mom just pulled monkey bread muffins out of the oven. Even though I probably shouldn’t have, I ate three and then went to bed. I woke up in the afternoon, got ready, and Alex showed up. We ran to Goodwill because I was trying to find something for a project with no success, and when we returned to my house, we had dinner. We didn’t do much, but I did have him try on the sock that I’ve been knitting for him and finally figured out how I can make them fit him. I will try finishing that up today so maybe I can actually finish the pair of socks before our anniversary – or, even better, before the end of this year!

Alex and I cuddled and played one of the games we used to play when we were first dating – a line of questions. We went camping once and walked around in the woods, just tossing questions back and forth about our favorite childhood memories and books and Thanksgiving traditions. This time, we asked Christmas-themed questions, even though we knew some of the answers already. However, I think we were meant to be when I asked him what his favorite Christmas movie was and he said that it was Love, Actually though he also likes the original animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas. My sentiments exactly.

In the past few years, Christmas has made me miserable with everything we’ve had to do and all the presents I’ve had to make, but this year, I think it has brought me a sense of comfort that I’ve needed for a while. I look forward to the next few weeks full of Secret Santa trades (OMG SOCIALIZING WITH MY FRIENDS!), actually allowing Christmas music in my car, holiday baking, and finishing up the rest of my gift buying/making and wrapping. Before I know it, I will hopefully be in Lexington, celebrating with my family.

This girl’s not a Scrooge this year, that’s for sure.

I have been caught in a holiday whirlwind for the past few days, though I’m sure many people have been, too. I’ve enjoyed it all, though. No major accidents, no tears, all good.

I drove to my (paternal) grandparents’ house in Richmond on Thursday. I made it there without a problem, blasting Devo all the way. I was the first family member to arrive, and I got to spend about an hour with my grandparents before my dad, Cindy, and my brothers showed up. I went out shopping with my grandma, dad, and Cindy, and when we returned, my aunt Cathy, uncle Rob, and cousins Kaity and Jack had arrived, and my aunt Jeanne, uncle Steve, and cousins Christopher, Matthew, and Brian had come over for dinner (they live close by). We had spaghetti, and it was a scramble for chairs.

As usual, I slept in the living room with my cousin Kaity. I don’t usually pull rank, but I sort of did this year. I hate sleeping on air mattresses, and I didn’t want to sleep on the floor, so I called the couch – which isn’t nearly as comfortable as one would hope, but it’s still a place to sleep. I said, “Merry Couch-mas” to Kaity when we were going to bed, due to our past Christmases; once, we shared one giant wraparound couch with my cousin Brian on Christmas Eve and that was interesting.

On Christmas Eve, we did a lot of hanging around the house, watching television and talking. I worked on a scarf for my mom. We went to Christmas Eve mass, and everything went well, though I started feeling sick because I went nine hours without having anything to eat. We came home and had beef and noodles for dinner.

In previous years on Christmas Eve, Kaity and I have been kicked out of the living room so last-minute wrapping of presents can take place and the adults can hang out without being bothered by the kids. We usually sit around, watching movies or something. Well, this year I had a bright idea – why don’t we go out and see a movie instead? I had been itching to see TRON: Legacy, since I bought the soundtrack a week ago – it’s effin’ amazing! Kaity hadn’t seen it, so we pitched the idea to our parents. They agreed. So after dinner, I got directions to the movie theater, and the two of us got to escape the craziness for a while. I even got to play a little Electric Six for her.

The theater was nearly empty and we got our choice of seats.  It was great. And then the movie – oh, the movie! I LOVED IT. I know it has its flaws, I really do (Penny Arcade pointed many out), but I can appreciate the film for what it is, and how it relates to the first film. Even if the plot isn’t the best, I think people can at least agree that it is visually-striking and the soundtrack is totally boss. I feel like the geekiest person in my family for how excited I still am about this film, but whatever. We spent a major part of Christmas Day watching and discussing the original Star Wars movies – we are a family of geeks.

After the movie, we left the theater to find it was snowing. The big, fluffy flakes were gorgeous. We got back home around 10:00, but I stayed in my car to talk to Alex. When I got back inside, I found everyone had gone to bed except Kaity, who had just changed into her pajamas. In addition to this, I was left without a blanket and pillow. I had to wake the little boys up (my brothers and my cousin Jack) in order to find at least one blanket to cover up with, but I was still left without a pillow. It was hard to sleep. When I was trying to get David to go back to bed, he told me, “Don’t you think that tonight is just the longest night of your life?” I know we were thinking of different reasons, but I couldn’t have agreed more. I didn’t sleep much at all.

I was up early, too. By 7:00, everyone was up and I was seated at the dining room table with a cup of coffee. We were unwrapping gifts by 8:00. I think this Christmas was perfect. My family was happy with the gifts I gave them, and I was happy with mine. Dad and Cindy got me a GPS so I’ll stop getting lost when I go places I’ve never been or aren’t familiar with. That was a nice surprise. I also got The Fantastic Mr. Fox (the movie), and a bunch of books on my Amazon Wish List I haven’t read before. I have a lot of reading to do. I also got gift cards and money to help support the growth of my “professional wardrobe” since I have very little to choose from when I go into the schools. If all I could wear were t-shirts and awesome graphic/band tees, I’d be set, but sadly, that’s not the case.

We had our traditional Christmas breakfast after opening gifts – pigs-in-blankets and scrambled eggs. Dinner was two hams, a turkey, green bean casserole, cheesy potatoes, sweet potatoes, applesauce, and rolls. No one will ever go hungry in my family – if they do, it’s their own damn fault. Like I said before, we watched Star Wars, episodes 4 through 6, but we also watched Scrooged and Despicable Me. Also, I learned how to make buckeyes! Grandma said we might run out, and since they are popular at Christmas, I told her that if she had the ingredients, I would make another batch of them. I was so honored to learn how to make them, and my grandpa even took pictures to commemorate the event.

It was a nice Christmas, and I was glad to see everyone. On Sunday, my dad, Cindy, and my brothers went back to Kentucky. I left around 2:00 and met my mom and (maternal) grandparents at the nearby Applebee’s. They had me open my presents in the restaurant. I got a nice blouse, gas cards, a holiday ornament shaped like car keys (ha!), and – drum roll please – a crock pot! I can’t wait to try it out!

We had a good meal, and then we parted ways. I drove my mom home. She’s been having back pain, and was on medication, so she shouldn’t have been driving anyway. She hadn’t been in my car before, either, so that was interesting. The only thing that sucks about having her in the passenger’s seat is that she critiques my driving, or she’ll be giving directions and say, “Go left!” and I’ll go left, and she’ll say, “No, I said go right!” and I’ll say, “You just said left!” and we’ll get into an argument about that…

I had to finish making my mom’s gifts before we could exchange them. I had to eventually finish the scarf in front of her, but she was so happy about it, she didn’t mind. She got me a doughnut pan, among other things. This is also another kitchen gadget I can’t wait to try out.

Yesterday, Mom and I went shopping. We spent some of the gift cards we received for Christmas. I usually don’t like spending mine all at once, but since I’m teaching in a few weeks and I need to expand my wardrobe, I can’t exactly wait around. I found some good deals, though. I found a turtleneck, a v-neck, two t-shirts, a cardigan, a brown skirt, and a purse (I’ve never carried a purse before! So weird!). That was only at two stores, too! Mom and I also stopped by Paradise Bakery for muffins and browsed Borders. Then, we went to see TRON: Legacy in 3-D. Yeah, I had to see it again. I’ve never seen a 3-D movie before, but I was curious, since it seems like that film would be amazing in 3-D. I won’t say it was bad, but I definitely won’t be seeing another 3-D film again. The glasses are too awkward over my real glasses, and then my eyes hurt mere minutes into the film. I had to close my eyes at times just to have them rest. I was still happy to see TRON: Legacy again – still amazing!

We came home, ate dinner, and watched Hellboy II: The Golden Army, since Mom got it through Netflix. While we watched that, I worked on a knitted Kindle cover for Alex, since he got a Kindle this year for Christmas. He is super excited about it, though I still prefer my physical, paper books. There’s just no feeling like the turning of pages in your hand.

I saw Alex today. I drove down to his house and we went bowling. We exchanged gifts, and we were both very happy. He says his gift was lame, but I truly appreciate it. I just wish that I lived in a place of my own where I could have nice things and make it look like a home. We don’t have a dining room table. I would die to have a nice dining room table, rather than just eating on the floor…

Anyway, we played with the Wii for a bit, and I stayed for dinner and dessert. I left about a quarter to 8:00, and went home. I had been invited to hang out with people at my friend Chris’s house, and I went over there about 9:00. It was Chris’s birthday and he’s 20 now, so strange! We played this game called Quelf, ate chips and brownies, watched Eddie Izzard’s “Dressed to Kill,” chatted, and played with kittens. Oh, if only I could have had one of those kittens! They were so cute!

So I’m home now, for a while. I think tomorrow is just going to be a lazy day. I think I need it.

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat

How I wonder where you’re at…”

It is 3:00 a.m.

I am still awake, and so is my mom. She has to be at work in five hours.

What are we doing?

We’re baking cookies for our Christmas goodie bags. In short, we are effing nuts.

I fell asleep standing up, leaning on the overhang on our stove, mumbling things about how I’m the Yoda Master of poking holes (in our cookies) and stuff like that.

I am so tired and I want to go to bed. I’m on my second cup of coffee, but I don’t think even that will help.

Things are relatively good, though. I went to hang out at a friend’s house tonight. I brought fudge, gave people rides (now that I have a car!), we ordered pizza, watched Christmas specials, and chatted. I gave my friend a gift that she really liked, but I won’t talk about it just yet.

Something I will say was not good today was dropping my phone (which I got less than a month ago) in the toilet. I did that as I was getting dressed this evening – right before I had to pick up my friends. The good news is, it’s somewhat functional, except two of the function keys aren’t working right so I can’t access my phone’s menu and there’s a water blotch on the screen. But at least it can still make calls and receive texts. I’m kicking myself, though.

That’s all that’s going on right now. Tomorrow, I get to see my lover boy. I’m really excited – I’ve missed him! And Tuesday, Mom and I get to have some more mother-daughter bonding time that doesn’t involve baking over twenty dozen cookies in forty-eight hours.

Yeah, that’s how we do Christmas.

This year for Christmas I visited my dad’s side of the family, as I usually do. I love it because it’s big and often chaotic. My grandparents had four children – three girls and one boy. They now have ten grandchildren. My Aunt Sue, Uncle Mike, and their two children aren’t usually at the family gatherings, but the rest of us are. My Aunt Jeanne, Uncle Steve, and their three boys stayed at their house, but my Dad, Cindy, my brothers, their dog Jock, my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Rob are here with their children, too. I’ve probably lost you by now, but here’s what it comes down to – there were eleven people and one dog staying together in one house. I love this family (even if sometimes we get on each other’s nerves), and Christmas without these packed gatherings would not be the same.

Just some highlights from the four days I was at my paternal grandparents.

  • My cousin Christopher actually wrote about how much he wanted Grandma’s gingerbread cookies in his Facebook status.
  • Everybody loved Jock and gave him lots of attention.
  • My grandma cooked for an army, and made sure she had something for everyone to eat. What a woman! (Although she didn’t do all the cooking – Cindy, Aunt Cathy, Aunt Jeanne, and Uncle Steve helped out a few of the days)
  • I was Grandma’s helper by wrapping gifts, peeling apples for applesauce, and cutting out aforementioned cookies.
  • I’m almost twenty-one (tomorrow!) and I still sat at the “kids’” table with my six-year-old brother.
  • My brother Alex got his fingers slammed in a door for the second Christmas gathering in a row. I guess it’s not a family gathering unless someone gets hurt.
  • My older male cousins and my uncles got into a snowball fight while we were trying to leave for lunch.
  • . My cousin Kaity and I always share a room, since we’re the only female grandchildren (besides Kelly, who we haven’t seen in a while). I called dibs on the couch, since for the past few years I’ve slept on the floor.
  • The only “private” place I could call Alex (boyfriend) from was the laundry room – and even then, my aunt had some things in there and interrupted me five minutes in.
  • I didn’t sleep well, but as it turns out, no one did and we were all up and in the kitchen by 7:30.
  • We took at least three cars to go places, and no one knew who was going to be in what car.
  • It was (as always) fun for people in restaurants or at church to figure out how the sixteen of us are all related.
  • My aunt Cathy beat out the rest of us to put the last figure in the advent calendar.
  • There was no room to sit at church, which prompted me to have a panic attack.
  • My aunt Cathy hit Uncle Rob in the face with a snowball. It was hilarious.
  • Grandma made delicious sloppy joes.
  • My brothers were fidgety during family pictures.
  • The tree was so small compared to the pile of presents that were crammed underneath it. See the below picture.
  • I was up at 5:50 on Christmas morning, and we didn’t even open presents until 7:00.
  • Everyone liked my gifts. David wore his hat all day and wouldn’t take it off, and then on Sunday, he sent me an e-mail praising my cookies.
  • I got some really nice items, but it was better to visit with my family.
  • Dad made the Bouche de Noel and let me lick the beaters from the frosting.

Sunday, Mom picked me up and we went to Ohio to visit with my maternal grandparents. My aunt Jo and uncle Dave were there too, and it was nice, quiet, and calm. We had a delicious dinner and dessert, but Mom and I had to leave early because it was snowing. We left at 6:00 and it took us three hours to get home. We were exhausted, but it was so nice to be home.

I hope all of you have had a nice holiday season, and I wish you all the best in the New Year.