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Fun Fact: My Big Fat Family

My office puts out a monthly “Fun Facts” on the department website. Given that I work for a home health care agency, and that we deal with the  evaluation and analysis of patient data, these posts can be interesting, but I would hardly call them fun. So, I decided to put together fun facts about myself. Hopefully, they’re entertaining, and it can turn into a series of fun facts in the weeks to come. This is all in the spirit of keeping me writing, despite my suddenly very busy life.

HPIM0104

When I tell people that I have five younger siblings, their eyes usually pop out of their heads. I suppose it’s impressive, but for me it’s just a fact of my life. The age differences between us is what I find more shocking. The youngest of my siblings, my little sister, is 19 years younger than I am. She just turned 13 a couple months ago, and a couple weeks after that, I turned 32. Needless to say, there was always a battle for my mom’s attention at home, one that I usually lost to my younger and more demanding siblings.

But, there were some benefits to being the eldest sibling, and I would say the most significant was being able to watch my younger siblings grow up. I have a ton of great memories of them doing and saying hilarious things. Like the time the youngest of my brothers got a battery stuck up his nose, and then expelled it by using what he called “the force.” Or the time the middle brother became so upset after getting a haircut which he felt made him “look ugly.” He must have been 3 or so years old, but even then he had a sense of style. And then there’s my little sister, who hasn’t stopped chatting since the moment she learned to talk, and somehow always manages to be hysterical.

One interesting fact is that they see me as an adult, and not just a big sister. When we were younger, this meant that they were fascinated by everything I did and were especially intrigued by my belongings. I once asked them in a rage why they insisted on sneaking into my room all the time and touching my stuff, and they told me: “It’s because you’re so cool!” and really meant it. It made me laugh, because I realized that I had never placed myself in their shoes and imagined what it would be like to have a much older sibling. It was a very strange setup indeed.

I lived at home until I was about 27. The lack of privacy and the incessant sound of children playing drove me bananas. Nowadays, I miss my siblings seeing me as a “super-sister,” (like a super-senior in high school) before they became teenagers way cooler than I am. Thankfully, I have a bunch of memories (and pictures) of their less cool days to deflate their big heads. Above is my youngest sister during her Hannah Montana phase, which she is now so over. The picture was taken on her 8th birthday.

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Not a Morning Person

As a kid, my mom would wake me and my younger siblings up for school by cranking up some Spanish-language AM radio station. We were forced to sit through breakfast with the news and weather blasting at us. In addition to this torture tactic, my mom would cheerily remind us every day that it was time for school, as if she were describing a trip to Disneyworld. I think it took everything in us kids to contain our displeasure. We just sat there in silence seething, not even making eye contact.

The only positive association I have with mornings is sleeping in on Saturdays and watching cartoons. My favorite was Garfield and Friends. Garfield was my kind of cat. He was cynical, hated Mondays, loved to eat, and sleep was his favorite hobby. Needless to say, I’m not a morning person. I never wake up bursting with energy, and I consider it a good morning when I manage to leave the house without snapping at David. Nowadays, I wake up to his alarm, which happens to be set to National Public Radio. Clearly, he doesn’t believe I’ve suffered enough….

Despite the morning crabbiness and my generally cynical nature (which I truly believe I was born with), I consider myself a happy, positive person. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and accept these traits as part of who I am–only human. Life is so much easier this way. Some days (usually when David’s alarm is turned off), I even wake up in a good mood–thankful and full of love. That actually happened yesterday, but I later needed all the joy I could muster, because I had the commute from hell and was late for work. I still get kudos for managing to get through a good three quarters of it without rolling my eyes.

Schmalentine’s Day

Daily Prompt: Cupid’s Arrow – It’s Valentine’s Day, so write an ode to someone or something you love.

Das Boot

David + Das Boot at Oktoberfest

I unintentionally wore a red sweater today. When David pointed it out over breakfast, I joked, “Ugh, now I have to change….” But I did not, because I really love this sweater and the way I look in it. This is the goofiest holiday of all. I don’t need a special day to love or feel loved. I eat chocolate almost every day, and David doesn’t believe in giving flowers as gifts, so that’s not happening either.

I am incredibly lucky to have two great loves in my life. Yes, two! There’s my boyfriend David, and my dog Izzy. What’s so remarkable is that I never imagined that I’d love either of them as much as I do. For months, I insisted that David and I would never work as a relationship. As for Izzy, I have never been attached to an animal in my life. In fact, I thought the idea quite ridiculous. And yet, these two bring me insane amounts of happiness–more than I knew was even possible.

But love isn’t all about romantic dates, flowers, chocolates, or stuffed animals. What about the other 364 regular old days when I’m just doing my best to share my life and my home with another human being and a small dog? It’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun, but that’s love too. Sometimes it’s in those moments of frustration or disappointment that I realize how much I care. I don’t just want the good stuff, I want all of it!

poppers in bed

Sir Issac Newton/Izzy/Mr. Puppers/Poppers/You little shit!

The Mind’s Eye

Daily Prompt: Whoa! What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?

I have a fantastic dream life. I’ve experienced things in deep sleep that are supposedly uncommon, or so I’ve been told. I have traveled to alternate universes, I have flown above town several times, and on one occasion, I actually experienced death (words cannot describe). But the most impressive dream I’ve had involved no sci-fi/fantasy themes. In fact, the dream itself was unmemorable. What stood out was that my cousin Xavier, who I  hadn’t seen in several years, appeared in it.

Xavier was actually my mother’s first cousin. When I was a kid, I thought of him as a cool young uncle. Having grown up in New York City, he knew all the fun places to take my siblings and me, whether it was ice cream at the Haagen Daz in Brooklyn Heights, or catching a movie in the East Village. I wanted to be just like him when I got older: smart, independent, and just plain cool.

I use the past tense when I speak of Xavier because he and his wife disappeared one day, seemingly out of nowhere. Not even his own mother knew what had happened. Years went by, and there was no trace of either of them. He was slowly becoming a distant memory to me, until that night when he appeared in my dream. The next morning, I found myself thinking a lot about him–about the adventures we had, the songs we would sing together, his signature knock on the door. Later that day, I casually mentioned my dream to my mother, and much to my surprise, she divulged that she had dreamed of him as well. But what still blows my mind until this day is the fact that my great aunt had called her that morning to let her know that Xavier had contacted her the previous day, while I was asleep. He told her that he was okay, and that she shouldn’t worry or try to search for him. It seems that somehow, on a level I cannot comprehend, I felt his presence, even if it was just over the phone.

I never saw Xavier again. By now, a good 25 years have passed since I last saw him. I wonder if he is alive, and if so, where he is and what he is doing. I wish he’d been around to see me grow up, and to offer me the guidance that my parents could not. I wish I’d had him around to talk to when I was going through difficult times in my life. He would have given me one of his awesome hugs that I remember so well. I wish I could tell him how important he was to me, and what a lasting impression he’d made. Most of all, I hope that I’ve become someone he would be proud of today.

Stroke of Midnight

Lavraki

Lavraki

I must have jinxed myself last week when I bragged about how I rarely get sick, because right after Christmas I came down with the stomach flu, followed by the actual flu, which I have yet to recover from…. But there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to kiss 2012 good-bye and good riddance!

Somehow I managed to drag myself down to the greek restaurant where David currently works as a waiter. With a stuffy nose, puffy eyes, and clogged ears, I sat at the bar enjoying complimentary drinks while David finished his shift. We munched on some delicious fries with feta cheese and shared an entire sea bass. At midnight, along with the restaurant staff and some of the owner’s family, we toasted with champagne. Everyone hugged and kissed, and then the Greeks started breaking dishes and dancing and shouting “Opa!”

All I really wanted was to be with David at midnight, so I had no other expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised to have had such a fun New Year’s, even with my dreadful cold. Here’s hoping that this year will be full of happy surprises–with plenty of good food and wine, good people to share it with, laughter, dancing, and most of all, lots and lots of love. OPA!