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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Category: Family

Day 164: Stuff and Things and Letting Go

Things strangely collect our emotions.

I posted a couple weeks ago about how giving away my loveseat on Craigslist was a tearful disaster (more because of the recipients than the item—but still). And today, my parents are moving. They packed up their Chicago house and are headed to the northwest.

We’ve never been a terribly nostalgic family when it comes to structures and stuff. Growing up, we moved more often than most of our friends, and settled ourselves in different parts of the country for the sake of adventure. We collected people and shed things every time we left a house, and always (almost) enjoyed the newness and excitement of reorganizing somewhere new.

But this move feels a little different. My parents are doing it without my sisters and me. We don’t have our own bedrooms in the new place (much to my mom’s chagrin), and there will be no school orientations, no track meets and no yearbook functions. It’s an adult move and they’re paring down.

Even our old art projects, skating ribbons and American Girl dolls aren’t going along for the ride. The remaining evidence of my sisters’ and my youth is heading into a storage unit outside of Chicago, where we can come and pilfer as we have time and space.

So for the last couple of months, my parents have been selling, donating and free-Craigslisting (sans tears) many of their belongings. I’ve seen the “come and get it” Facebook posts and waited on the phone as a 9-1-1 fallback while strangers picked up their couches and end tables. I was well aware that their things were going to new homes.

And I was fine with it until my mom posted a picture of my dad’s charcoal Weber grill (the one he received for college graduation and has been using ever since), and called it up for grabs.

Instinctually, I grabbed. Out of sheer terror. I mean, what would my parents be without the Weber? I grew up understanding its timelessness, its durability and its knack for producing the perfect, patiently grilled steak. I knew I had to hang on to it for them, lest their personalities disappear completely with this move.

The Weber

There she is.

Two text messages with my mom proved logically otherwise. They don’t need it anymore. And I’m a vegetarian living in a one-bedroom apartment with no outdoor space. Though I remember the grill being a fine roommate when it had a deck to itself, in my current arrangement it would coat my wispy curtains with soot and be the centerpiece of my living room. And it doesn’t do so well with veggies. She gave it to a grateful neighbor instead.

The bottom line is that stuff gets you sometimes. And then you have to let it go.

Because really, stuff is nothing without people.

Day 155: Six Reasons to be Weird

Being a weirdo is a-okay. Here are six reasons why:

1. As long as your weirdness doesn’t extend into severe social anxiety or obscene outbursts (in which case, practice taking some deep breaths before you panic), it can help others feel more comfortable around you. Everyone has a freak flag; they’re often just nervous to fly it. You admitting your fascination with flightless birds may be just what your conversation partner needs in order to let their guard down and connect with you (perhaps even over mutual avian interests).

2. Weirdos get a free pass to have more fun. Love moonwalking down the street to the music coming out of other people’s windows? Just do it. It’ll only take once for you to get a “weird” label and then you can street dance as often as you want without anyone bothering you.

3. According to John Manley of Fast Company, your inner weirdo helps you get ahead at work. His recent article also includes some wonderful commentary about “declaring a minor” in life—a weird or not weird avocation that keeps you stimulated and fosters your propensity for adventurous creativity.

4. In extreme situations, weirdos always prevail. Stranded on an island? The weirdo knows which plants taste like pizza (and won’t kill you). Accidentally erased your harddrive while trying to watch videos of cute cats? The weirdo will have you back in business in three minutes flat.

5. As my mother always says, “to be interesting, you have to be interested.” Showing interest in something unique helps define you as an interesting human being. Showing interest in others unique interests doubles (maybe even triples) your interesting factor and additionally makes you extremely pleasant to be around. Everybody likes a weirdo who asks good questions.

6. Because of your wide-ranging weird interests, you’re able to connect the dots on disparate concepts and come up with creative (albeit not always plausible) solutions. When successful, this ability not only helps you at work (see number 3), it gives you greater appreciation for the community knowledge-pool. You’re more likely to be able to capitalize on someone else’s weird skill when you have a few of your own.

Woman with Eat More Kale sweatshirt

One of my weird family members with a squash head named “Turkita” over Thanksgiving. We clearly had no fun. 

Day 122: Whatever Works

I try to steer clear of politics on here, because people become incredibly polarized incredibly quickly. But to me, marriage isn’t about politics. It’s about family—about making a commitment to being a family with another human being.

Here are four reasons I support gay marriage:

1. Marriage of any kind builds community. The U.S. gives families opportunities to care for each other in ways individuals cannot. In this glorious and frightening age of digital connectivity, we should celebrate any two individuals who choose to connect to each other in person and through law.

2. I want my friends to have every legal right that I have, even if some of us never choose to act on those rights.

3. Gay marriage doesn’t hurt anyone (or anything). Traditions live within the individuals who uphold them, not in how many people are included or excluded.

4. I’m nearly certain we have other pressing matters to discuss. Education, health, the environment, economics—no matter where you land on these topics, they seem like a bigger deal than a couple of folks trying to tie the knot.

“That’s why I can’t say enough times, whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace—whatever works.”
– Boris Yellnikoff in Whatever Works

Day 120: It’s Not Fun!

As promised, below are more of my youngest sister’s youthful musings from her recently discovered journal.

(Parents, even though your kids may hate journaling with a passion when they’re young, they’ll be so glad you made them do it when they’re in their twenties and thirties. The pain will be worth the later laughter. Make your kids write.)

From the mind of a nine-year-old:

1/15/97  Last week and a day was my birthday but my party was only 4 days ago. I think I got my last gift was yesterday, It was the cutest stuffed animal cat. But I wish the gifts would still keep on coming, not that I am greddy or anithing it’s just they make my room briter because my room is where the sun never shines so I at least want my room to be fun so I like my room at all.

2/13/97  It’s not fun!

3/19/97  Here I am sitting here just wating around for choir to start. I wish my mom didn’t teach conformatoin because if she didn’t teach conformatoin I wouldn’t be siting here wating at all. There go’s a bunch of preschoolers about to go outside, lucky them. But now that I think of it I don’t really want to go outside. From now on this isn’t my jornal anymore it’s my place where I keep my secrits, in other words my diary!

4/23/97  Yesterday my mom said that we could go bike riding! But since me and my sisters were fighting we couldn’t go. So everyone started blaming me for it (they say I’m a tattletale.) I told my mom what they said and she said in a loud angry voice, “That’s exatly why I didn’t let you go on the bike ride, I don’t want you to be mean.” I said, “I’m trying not to be mean,” then I started to cry. My mom said “I know you are, I only said that because I love you.” Now I feel much better.

Journal drawing

More of my sister’s birthday thoughts + a drawing of a human/rabbit with a bun. 

Day 119: For Little V

As I alluded to on Sunday, two of my dear friends welcomed a little peanut (human) into the world this week. She’s six days old today and I get to meet her this afternoon (!). Since she probably won’t understand anything I tell her today, I’m blogging her a list for future reference.

Dear V,

Here are some things you should know:

1. Lots of people love you.

2. Your parents are super cool. There might be a time between ages 10 and 20 when you don’t think so, but you’ll come back around.

3. Your super cool parents might embarrass you sometimes. You can get back at them by telling your dad you’re a Centrist (but only say it if you don’t really mean it; he loves that).

4. You were born into a world with a lot of problems, but you’re surrounded by incredible role models. There are problem-identifiers, solution-makers, strategic thinkers, beauty-seekers, doers, fixers, connectors and all-around kindhearted people. Your world will be full of opportunities, no matter what path you choose.

5. It’s okay to fail, whether you’re building a Lego castle or a business. Everybody fails. Just pick up the pieces and try something else.

6. Your mom will know if you’re smoking pot in the bathroom or hiding cigarettes in the car. She just will.

7. You and I are going to make some dances together. I’ve already come up with a few ideas, but I welcome yours as well.

Love,

Ashleigh

PiratesYour cool/embarrassing mom and me back in 2006 when we were pirates.