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03 May 2016 @ 07:29 am
Hello again, Maria. Happy birthday. You share your birthday with my friend Emily, who is very kind and quite possibly the funniest person I've ever met. She has an impressive way with words that, as a writer, I feel I ought to be somehow envious. But I'm not because she's THAT good. Babies born on this day tend to grow up pretty good. ;-)

It's been a hell of a year, hasn't it? I see what's happening in the world and I hope you're not quite old enough yet to notice how strange and awful some people can be some of the time. Some times I forget how old you are, to be honest, and have to count my own age backward to see how many years you have; don't take it personally: I always have to do birthday math with my husband, too. Age just has never seemed particularly important to me. Oh, I mean, there ARE the big ones: 10 is pretty important. So is 12 and 13. Then 16 is great, followed by the real big ones: 18 and 21. Then after that ... the tens are sort of important: 20, 40, et cetera. But I very much hope you will try to enjoy being the age you are and not rush ahead to those real-big birthdays. It's probably something you hear all the time and are starting to hate hearing, but being a kid is the best. Which is not to say you don't have problems. I know you do. Being a kid is not only the best, sometimes it can be the worst. I remember. At any rate, what I wanted to say to you this year is: enjoy it. Be young. Hate it. Be young. Listen to advice. Be young. Tell people giving you advice to go to hell. Be young. Be the age you are and try to not wish to be older. When you get older, enjoy that, too and try not to wish you were younger. That's all. It's advice I have to give myself a lot recently.

Until next year,
03 May 2014 @ 06:11 pm
Happy birthday, Maria Harris. You share a birthday with the City of Washington D.C. and also with Geocashing. Imagine that: an entire city was born on the same day of the year that you were. Well, to be honest it was incorporated, which is pretty much the same thing to a city as being born is to a human. 3 May is also the day that the very first Geocashing co-ordinates went up on Usenet. Geocashing, if you don't know, is where people hide little things at specific places and try to get other people to find them using various types of maps and little local clues. It's sort of like a scavenger hunt.

These things don't really tie into any sort of concept or advice I'd like to give you this year. In other years I've tried to talk about things I thought were important (Freedom! Siblings! Several-hundred year-old saints! Biting!) This year I just wanted to give you some trivia and let you know you aren't alone. Ever. But in a good way, not a creepy way, I promise. There will always be something new to learn, more trivia to watch or read about. Every day. New skill, new places, new facts. There is an old saying that if you are bored, then you are boring. That always made me mad because I think what's closer to the truth is that if you're bored, you don't actually know what it is you want to do. The only remedy I've found for it is to go and find the un-boring world for myself. Go to the library. Take a tour of your hometown. Go to a museum. With your mom or dad's help, go dive through the Internet (the most wonderful, all-inclusive fount of knowledge the human race has put together in thousands of years,) go to the zoo.

As to not being alone (and really not in a creepy way, I swear): you aren't and never will be. Sometimes you may find yourself by yourself. And that is okay. Sometimes I find it's a really good thing to just Get Away From People (I put that in capitals because I understand how sometimes other people can be exhausting.) But there is a difference between being by yourself and being alone. Someone will always be thinking of you, Maria. You have a good family. Even though they aren't perfect. You have a large extended net of human beings out there in the world who are thinking good things of you, care about how you are growing, and who want you to be happy. If you do decide to try to get out there in the world (to the library or zoo or any of the other suggestions I made) the further out you get you may feel like you are the only one who has ever felt the way you do or thought the things you think and that no one cares about you. Always remember that "no one cares about you" is just a lie. People do, and always will. No matter where you go or what you do.

And that's all. Have a great year, Kiddo. Hang in there.
03 May 2013 @ 05:42 pm
Since every year I list events and people you proooobably don't care either about or for which either share or coincide with your birthday, I thought I'd change it up and tell you that you share your birthday with Noah Munck ... who I have been told is a funny dude from a show called iCarley. Or possibly iCarly. Or something like that. I don't know who that is. Or what that is. But I was told by an ten year-old friend that he's cool, so there's that. Apparently, 3 May is also the birthday of Toby Turner who is famous for doing something on YouTube. I found that one out from a twelve year-old friend. I wouldn't know what exactly he did apart from make some sort of video which he posted to the Internet, of course, because I'm so old that I'm older than your parents, and they are OLD. But I'm willing to learn.

And that's the theme of this year's letter to you. I've been told that you are ridiculously clever. That's really cool. Smarts will get you pretty darn far in the world, so long as you don't stop using your smarts. Learn something new every day. Strive. Keep yourself going. Don't just rely on people thinking that you're clever, actually BE clever. Take your big brain and make it bigger. Think for yourself. Think all the time. Don't take the easy path; and trust me: because you are smarter than some of the folks around you, you will find the easy path. But instead of the easy way out, try to go down the harder road. It will teach you something and, maybe, make you a more complete person. This probably sounds sort of dumb. Or obvious. And also a lot like something you probably hear all the time from your folks or teachers. Just because it might sound dumb or obvious, or because you've heard it a gabilljon times, doesn't make it wrong.

Also this year I finally got to meet you as a talking, walking, human being. I met you once before, on the day you were born, but you were less "walking and talking" and more "flailing and screaming." Don't take it too hard: everyone is like that when they are first born. I hope to meet you again in the future. Have a great day, and don't point the Nerf gun at anyone's face. That's just rude.

Till next year: happy birthday, Maria.
03 May 2012 @ 06:57 am
Happy birthday, Maria Harris. You share today with the anniversary of the May Uprisings in Germany and the defeat of the King of Naples at the Battle of Tolentino (really fascinating time in history, by the by I urge you to look up with Neapolitan War and the Regency Period when that sort of thing starts to interest you.)

I only mentioned fightin' and feudin' this year to show you that it's as warlike as any other month, May is, and that's why it doesn't surprise me that you seem to have spend some time over this past year being .... physically assertive.

It happens. And sometimes it takes people by surprise: May babies are supposed to be dependable and predictable. Gentle and given to a desire to eat icecream whilst reclining on a soft couch. So when we get rowdy, it can cause a bit of a stir.

It can go too far, though. Maria Harris, I am given to understand that you've gotten a little ... bitey. I'd go so far as to describe you as a wee fractious thing who may or may not be a little bit of a bully.

That happens, too. Don't take this the wrong way, because I hate it when people who are older than me start telling me about "people my age" in that patronizing "I know everything because I'm older" type of way, but you're at an age where, depending on the situation, you either know exactly what you want and can't find the right way to say it or you don't know what you want but you know how it should be and you can't find the words to express it. Plus, of course, now there's not just the one little sibling, but two! TWO! Who on Earth can live with that kind of thing! Right? No one is paying attention! Stuff at school isn't easy! So you go bite somebody.

You should probably not do that, you know. It's the wrong sort of attention. And I know you're smart enough to know that, too. I can't advise you to stop, because it's the sort of thing you have to figure out for yourself; and I can't tell you that I don't sometimes bite people, too, because I do. Not actually with my teeth, mind you. Because I'm an adult and if I bit somebody it would be called "assault." But sometimes I get mad or frustrated and I can say some very bitey things. One of the few downsides to being smart (and you will start to figure this out because you are smart) is that your smart brain can come up with very clever and quick things to say that can hurt people. I really try to avoid that. I don't like myself after I've been bitey. It's the wrong sort of attention. So when I get mad or frustrated because I can't say what I want or because there's not enough attention being paid or I'm tired or lonely or whatever reason ... I try to work really hard to not hurt other people. And it can be difficult sometimes. But, you see, you get over being mad. Things are not always frustrating. You will understand that it's OKAY for things to not go your way sometimes and that, just because no one is paying attention to you doesn't mean you aren't loved. Because you are. Mom and Dad love you. Your aunts and uncles do, too. You are loved by more people than you realize, I think. And you're littler siblings love you. You're the Big Sister. I know I keep coming back to this theme, but it really can be a very amazing job, being Big Sister. The benefits of being looked up to, of always having someone to play with, of having someone who will understand where you came from when you all grow up, all outweigh the occasional frustration that comes with not being The Baby and having people expect you to act like a Big Girl. Which is a total drag and I understand.

I hope this year gets better for you. Happy birthday.
04 May 2011 @ 04:38 pm
Happy birthday, Maria Harris. You share your birthday with The May Uprising in Dresden, and the strongest tornado ever recorded which had winds of up to 318 mph and cut a swath of smashy-destruction through Oklahoma back in 199... something. Which indicates that you will witness some awesome and terrible things over the course of your lifetime.

Well, it would have been "happy birthday and here's some history" had I been able to post yesterday. Or a year before. So happy two years and a day since last I wrote you. Less catchy than the traditional "happy birthday," but I thought about you and asked your father about you every time I saw him, so maybe that should be the theme of this year's letter: at some point or another, every person you know will let you down in one way or another, but that doesn't mean it was ever out of meanness or neglect. Sometimes, as the saying goes, life just happens and it gets in the way. I had a really hard year last year; not that that excuses me from forgetting to write you on your birthday, but I hope you didn't mind too much.

Maybe the theme for this year's letter should be forgiveness, but that might be a little self-serving, wouldn't it?

I have a feeling that this year's letter should be about how I have no right to offer advice or observations to anyone, especially not to a young lady such as yourself. I understand you're doing better in school and helping to look after your little brother. I know I've wrote it before, but being an older sister is a huge responsibility. One that's tough and frustrating. You'll sometimes want to yell or pout or wish you were an only kid. But, of course as I'm sure you know, there are other times when it's pretty cool that someone looks up to you, and that you can teach someone something, and that you know, in your heart, that you'll never be alone because you have a brother who will always share the same memories of being a kid that you will have.

I hope the rest of your year goes very well, Maria Harris. Happy birthday. Plus one.
13 November 2010 @ 01:23 pm
Today's collection of pictures are brought to you by BACON!

Here's the list. The one's I've done are crossed-off, the ones I'm doing to day are in bold.


1. your Facebook profile photo
2. a photo of yourself a year ago
3. a photo that makes you happy

4. a photo of the last place you went on holiday
5. a photo of you
6. a photo that makes you laugh

7. a photo of someone you love
8. a photo of your favorite band/musician
9. a photo of your family
10. a photo of you as a baby
11. a photo of your favorite film(s)
12. a photo of you
13. a photo of your best friend(s)
14. a photo of one of your favorite family members
15. a photo of you and someone you love
16. a photo of you at the last party you went to
17. a drunk photo of you
18. a photo of one of your classes
19. a photo of you on a school trip
20. a photo of something you enjoy doing
21. a photo of you standing up
22. a photo of your town
23. a photo of your friend as a baby
24. a photo of you that your hair looks nice in
25. a photo of a night you loved
26. a photo of your favorite weekend
27. a photo of last summer
28. a photo of what you ate today
29. a photo of someone you find attractive
30. a photo of you when you were happy

And now the pictures.Collapse )
11 November 2010 @ 10:00 pm
Many people are doing this. Notably the charming ersatzpixie and the lovely bohemiangrrl . But I'm doing it now and that's all that matters.

(I was going to do a content-driven post. Really I was. But meaningful and/ or interesting writing is much less fun than posting pictures. At the moment, anyway.)


and for the last time: it's not a meme. It really isn't. We just call it that. Although the meaning of meme has sort of become a meme in and of itself... just stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Or don't.

I'm not doing one a day. I want to catch up. Plus I'd totally forget to log on and post every day. So to save time and shameful postlessness, I'll do three at a time.

Read more...Collapse )
22 October 2010 @ 04:24 pm
time was
i was considered gregarious
though more and more
i find i like
to be more solitary and anonymous
here's where i'm happy
reading a book and eating a muffin in the corner of my coffee shop
dozing off in the hammock under the giant maple
on the floor of my husband's office in mid-creation with a canvas or notebook on my knees
in a huge and faceless crowd like
the throng at a fireworks or
the crush on the subway platform or
the mob of a real city street
maybe i'm coming into an inheritance from my father
who is like a thing found
at the tops of deeply forested mountains
like a bear
or a wizard
alone and gruff and bigger than life
or maybe it's a more aetheric inheritance
from my boy who died
who was like a fluffy persian cat
moody and discerning and aloof
who didn't often say
i love you
because we knew who he loved
they were the people with whom he sat
like a cat
he scratched or ignored or abandoned people he didn't love and
lay calmly and quietly with those he did and
i've tried
jesus christ
i've tried
to be better at expressing my intentions than that
to be better at communicating my affections
i tend to blurt when I try
and any intelligence with which i was blessed
runs from my head like
soda through a sieve
but i want to try
so i blurt
out of no where or
not stopping when i ought to
hearing myself and not able to shut up
going on well past when the person i
is uncomfortable and not in a petting mood but
i'm trying
jesus christ
i'm trying to tell you
i love you
but i seem to have inherited some bear-ness or some cat-ness
and i'm no longer good with people
i'm better at being alone
solitary or anonymous
i'd rather be with you
and i waned you to know
that's what i'm trying to say
when i leave my coffee shop or
the floor of my husband's office or
wander out of the crowd i'm swimming through or
climb out of the neighbor's borrowed hammock
and stare at you for a minute
and then blurt with embarrassment about your hair or
my heart or
how well we work together
understand that i've forgotten how to be convivial
and i'm trying to say
my friend
i love you
my friend
and that's all
This has been, bar none, the most melodramatic year I've ever heard of. Certainly the most melodramatic I've ever lived, I tell you that for free. And this is coming from a girl who was once a suicidal drug-addict.

Sort of. You sort-of had to be there.

Nevertheless: this year? Takes the fucking cake. It's made me realize that I am not living in a gentle indy-movie. Nor a black comedy or even a period-piece (all genre's to which at one time I compared my life.) No, I'm not a movie at all. I'm apparently living in a soap opera. A cheap, second-string, cheesy, low-rated soap opera.

Oh, haha! you say. We know you are having a laugh, haha! Because is it not true that there are some very small characteristics of the traditional soap opera in ALL our lives? You must be making a funny!

I have proof. Step right this way.

I'll start with me. I'm not saying I'm the main character, or even one of the ones that anyone particularly likes, but my storyline is entangled with all the other ones, almost like a pivot point. My storyline is the one that happens right before the really interesting storyline that comes before the commercial. My penultimate storyline is sidekick to that cliffhanger storyline that people actually care about.

So this year: I was offered and accepted a position of authority which made the people who disliked me with no real basis and without speaking to me about it and the people who supported me no matter what actually switch sides. My intestines exploded, hospitalizing me for a month and requiring two surgeries to fix, in the end removing all of my lower intestines and part of my pancreas. I was dying. It was interesting. Then, while recuperating and re-learning how to walk, Chris and I got kicked out of our house so the landlord, who had lost his house, could move in. I had to borrow large sums of money from my grandmother. Then I suffered a dehisance. Or however that's spelled. That means that part of my surgical scar spontaneously re-opened, leading to loss of blood, longer recovery time, and being hooked up to a horrible machine. Then I had a wedding. I got married to a guy I had dated on and off over about a decade, and had originally "stolen" from a good friend. Then my Da announced HE was getting married again. Then my best friend of over 15 years died of something NO ONE dies of any more in this country. Then my step-father comes down with cancer of the everything. No shit. Tumors on his spine and liver and lung and everywhere. The man had cancer of the cancer. Then my job was seriously threatened at the same time that the state arbitrarily cut off payment for my rehabilitation over a small paperwork error made by someone else. Then I paid off my student loans (finally). Then my dog started having seriously awful seizures.

But that's just me. I know I'm leaving some stuff out, but basically, that's me. Wanna know what was going on around me while all this was happening?

My (now dead) best friend's family swooped in and kicked his long-time boyfriend out of their house (the one my best friend bought before he died) and sued for unspecified damages. I had not one nor two but THREE strange love triangles happening to people I was close to. People with penises were sticking them where they did not belong, and people with vaginae were waving them all over the place. There were no less than three car accidents, two pregnancies (one of which was unplanned), two non-familial weddings and one rape. The new theatre building got up and running, but now with extra drama-sauce over things like money and what seemed like a general workers-strike. My grandmother moved in to my mother's house to care for the giant ball of tumors that had once been my step-father, and while she was there she was shot at, had thugs run-up on her, she witnessed and actual honest-to-god gang fight, and then the house across the street from there was set ablaze by ruffians. A miracle: the chemo was working! The doctors had, essentially, told Tumor-Man to pack his bags because he was leaving post-haste, but then everything started shrinking, just in time for his scary, disturbingly-wealthy ex-wife to die (also of cancer) and leave him with a huge chunk of money where his alimony used to be. My aunt got a new girlfriend, my brother-in-law got a new girlfriend, and a friend from work won the lotto. There were people in my circle called to war, called to spectacular jury duty, and one called by the FBI for having the same name as someone on the terrorist watch-list thing.

I know I'm forgetting something. Several somethings. But I'm over loaded, you see. I don't know where the next Thing is coming from, you know? Every time the damn phone rings I'm expecting a bus crash or divorce or Publisher's Clearinghouse. While waiting for the other shoe to drop, I've realized that the shoe-dropper is a caterpillar and CATERPILLARS WEAR A GREAT MANY FUCKING SHOES. I swear to you: I am one Evil Twin In A Coma incidence away from going completely out of my mind.

And yet I keep tuning in. Well, hell: wouldn't you?
Da and I go to a lot of movie together. It's a tradition that started right after his divorce from my mother. Sometimes, at least at the beginning, we pretended that the movie outings were commemorative or at least occasional: the first few X-men movies because they were released in theatres right around my birthday... the Lord of the Rings movies because they came out around Christmastime and we both had nothing better to do...Hellboy because Guillermo del Toro directed it, and any such movie is an event in and of itself. But the real reason, and the sad truth, is that they were mostly movies that no one else would see with us. Because, you see, Da is gruffly scary and, for awhile anyway, I was mistaken for someone who was cool. We had reputations to maintain. Sort of. And the movies we wanted to see were based on comic books, or sci-fi/fantasy, or foreign and really artsy. We like the stuff we like.

The man raised my sister and I on Star Trek, Doctor Who, Monty Python and the literary miniseries that PBS used to make based on 19th century novels and the works of Shakespeare. Libby and I were already pretty nerdy by nature: I liked looking at bugs and reading far more than little girls ever really do, and my sister was preternaturally good at mathematics and mechanical engineering even before she was in kindergarten. But our parents added that dose of geekiness that has lingered in various ways with both of us.

We were all nerds. Even my mother, who was, and still is, quite beautiful by most standards and who grew up in a very straight-laced, conservative, military household. I think she took up with my father and had nerdy little babies in small part as a way to embrace her natural, and up to then subdued, theatrical form of geekiness. Such was our family. Two former hippies and their two barbarian bluestocking daughters. We owned all the Star Trek movies and series of Doctor Who the moment they were released on video tape, and this was back in the time when the cost of VHS was prohibitive. We reenacted great battles in the back yard with dowel rods and the garden hose. We were read Grimms Fairy tales at bedtime. The real ones. The stories with blood in them.

The place where Da and I bonded was Star Trek, though. He explained to me the history between Vulcans and Romulans, why we knew Spock was evil in the alternate universe because of his facial hair, how Mudd always escaped consequences, generally. It was ... okay. Apart from The Wrath of Kahn, most things having to do with the original series were just fun background. Because, you see, my life was changed in September of 1987. I was ten years old, and Star Trek: The Next Generation had its television debut. I was riveted. Riveted. Da, though being an Original Series man himself, sat and watched it with me. Every week, no matter what else we had to do. Sometimes he'd grumble that Patrick Stewart should have stuck to the stage, and how he had seen Stewart with the RSC several times when he lived in London, and how, had he known then what he knew now, he would have warned the man. I ignored poor Da. Because I had fallen in love with an idea.

Now, I wouldn't say I am either a trekee or a treker or anything even close. I have never dressed as a Klingon and I've never been to a convention and I've never written either a fan letter or fan fiction. I just, as I said several paragraphs ago, like the stuff I like.

My sister escaped all this, bless her. She's more of a Star Wars fan herself. She is more able to hide her geekiness, and she has all but shed her nerd-atude. My husband has a theory: Star Wars fans are less geeky because their fandom started in movie theatres, forcing them out of their basements and into public where they were forced to interact with other people. I think that's sort of an unfair assessment, but Chris is a Star Was fan and therefore biased to say the least. My sister is still a bit of a genius, striking as our mother and as theatrical as both our parents, but she is fairly normal, preferring booze and pirate films over comic books and sonnets. She would never stay up until one in the morning arguing with our father over the Picard/Kirk question. (This is the only time I'll say this: while Kirk was admittedly The Man, Picard was the better captain. I have a whole rap on it, actually. Yes: THAT level of geek. Sorry.)

And Da is maybe a little disappointed in me for loving Next Generation over the original. But lovingly. There is always, when we speak of Star Trek, an undercurrent of playful, passive-aggressive war between us. I will give you an example, which ties us back in to the first subject, Da and I going to the movies:

When Generations came out in theatres, Da and I went to see it opening weekend. It wasn't too bad, though it suffered a bit from The Curse of Alternating Trek Films. About twenty minutes in, Patrick Stewart has his arse handed to him by Malcolm McDowell. As we watched Picard lose his stones on the rocks, Da leaned over and whispered "Kirk coulda taken him." I snorted. Then, fifty minutes later and thanks to one of those mind-numbingly, awesomely awful space/time shenanigans that always happens on Star Trek, William Shatner shows up and takes the bad guy to the cleaners. Of course. Da didn't say a word. He just turned slowly in his seat and gave me a look, one eyebrow raised.


Chris and I, for one reason and another, can't have kids. But we can and do have dogs. We are animal people, him being in the veterinary field and me being a little childish and naturally good with fuzzy mammals. We talk to our pets like people. Sophie-Pig, our pug, is a bit more my baby in the same way that our black lab Dakota is more his girl. I don't know if it's because of the moving things on the screen or because she actually is watching, but The Pig likes to sit with me and watch Star Trek streaming from Netflicks or Hulu on my computer. She likes to lay on my shoulder with her chubby, whiskery face pressed to my cheek, both of us only illuminated by the glow from my laptop. Even considering that household treat the animal companions like people, and even considering our general household geekiness, I still think it maight look strange if viewed from above: a pudgy gypsy and a small, squash-faced beast curled up in the easy chair; the gypsy's lips next to the dog's soft little ear, telling her not to be afraid of the Borg because they aren't real, about how it's okay to think Jonathan Frakes looks like a gorilla, about how the holodeck is suppose to work; and the little beast seeming to listen to every word, following the spaceship across the screen with her little bug-eyes.

I just hope she doesn't grow up to be a Voyager fan.....