Dec 15, 2007

A Post for Year's End

I'm a terrible blogger.

I was better at it, and enjoyed it more, back when I wrote without thinking about it. Now I think instead of writing; how annoying. Worst of all are these posts after a long absence, in which I feel irrationally obliged to write about everything. I try, run out of time halfway through, and then abandon the post to moulder in blog-limbo for all eternity.

I really ought to be working right now, but I can't make myself do it. I've been wearing other people's contact lenses for at least a year now. I never get enough sleep. The light in my office is dingy and yellow; it flickers or I imagine that it does. I've been late to work every day but one in the past month. I should be writing an English curriculum, but I can hardly form a coherent paragraph. None of these are real excuses for blogging instead of working, but that's all right.


Things are good; things are bad.

The bad: Aforementioned sleeplessness. Too much nightlife. Social anxiety disorder, as always. Unable to get my shit together. Money problems. Loser brother. No time to myself. No hobbies or friends. Boyfriend possibly bipolar. Boyfriend's computer died during final exams, so he's monopolizing mine. Choppy fucking sentences. Is this the exhaustion talking?

The good: Job marginally less boring. Good office-mate. The possibility of escaping via grad school. There's an English-language style and usage guide on my desk. Going to Hawaii for the holidays on M.'s mom's dime. M.'s finding some success throwing parties, but this also counts as bad. I'm watching movies again. I even made it to the theater to see No Country for Old Men. Physically healthy and fit. Following the U.S. Presidential race has provided me with constant entertainment.


What a discomfiting experience going home has become. My real Thanksgiving bore little similarity to the one I imagined, but I still left San Diego feeling shell-shocked, and I took days just to feel normal again.

I think it used to bother me less because I went down there more often. Things changed more gradually. Now, it's as if everything is changing in snapshots taken a year apart. My mom has twice as many gray hairs as the last time I saw her; my dad's wrinkles are noticeably deeper. My childhood dog, well into her teens, seems exponentially more decrepit with every passing year - and she's been decrepit for a while. Each time I go back, the subdivisions encroaching on my parents' rural enclave have crept a quarter-mile closer.

The old friends who are left down there have changed. The married one bought a condominium with her husband and is talking about having children. Another one has become a fervent evangelical. Kat, the globetrotter whom I expected never to settle down, appears to have settled down in SD and bought a shiny, new downtown apartment. Moreover, after years of flitting noncommittally between men and rejecting relationships in favor of independence, she was thinking about starting a serious relationship. Namely, a serious relationship with my ex-boyfriend, C., whom I dated for five and a half years. I wished her well, and I can't say I was surprised, but I still think the whole situation is more than a little awkward.

Most upsetting, though, was my grandpa, whose mental faculties seem to be deteriorating in a step function. It's not Alzheimer's, and I don't think it's any standard dementia, but Thanksgiving dinner with him was painful. He's been close to deaf for as long as I can remember, but now he has trouble talking as well. My grandma thinks it was a small stroke: he looked frustrated trying to convert thoughts into speech. His sentences trailed off; he rarely formed a complete thought.

He was born in 1920. He's a very old man. Physically he's relatively healthy and active, but I could tell he was thinking about death when he said at the dinner table, "All I want is to see this family back together." He was talking about an old grudge between my grandma and my estranged uncle, Chris. The details are not really important, but they involve money, property, and above all, pride. Chris won't forgive my grandma; she won't forgive him. One result is that my grandpa hasn't seen two of his grandsons since the early nineties. I hear there's another one, a girl, whom none of us has ever seen.

My grandma and dad couldn't have been less understanding. "Why don't you ask Santa Claus? Maybe he can arrange that for you," said my grandma, and my dad snickered. My grandpa looked like he was going to cry. He repeated, "All I want is to see this family back together."

Later, when my dad lay slouched in front of the TV and my mom and grandma putzed about the kitchen, my grandpa moved seats and sat next to me. "I put you in charge," he said. "I can't do it myself. I don't hear so well, so I can't call them on the phone. They moved houses, so I can't drive up and find them. There's nothing I can do." It took him many minutes to get these thoughts out. He whispered, fully aware: "I can't hardly talk no more."

I'm in charge? Shall the social-anxiety poster child succeed as family peacemaker? It's a burden I don't really want, but maybe I'm best suited to it anyhow.

That night, I set to work on Google. There were too many people bearing my uncle's name, and even more with my cousins' names. The search seemed fruitless, so I tried finding the oldest of my uncle's kids on Facebook. Of the ten or so matches to my cousin's name, one was a freshman at my dad's alma mater in LA. It's probably him.

I imagined the message I'd send him - "I think you're my cousin" - and cringed. How should I approach this? "Your grandfather, whom you probably don't remember, wants your dad to make peace with his mother." Or, "Come see grandpa before he goes." Facebook is awkward enough without my using it for such a weighty errand.

I have a calculus final next week. Then, on Friday, I go to Hawaii. I'll think more about this when I get back.