"A Name I've Not Heard In a Long Time...A Long Time"
But now I'm back and I'm in desperate need of another holiday so that I can recover from the stressful (but not entirely unpleasant) week I've spent with my family. It started last Sunday when my dad decided that a good way to deal with his stress was to isolate himself, alienate his children and cancel our traditional Christmas Eve A Christmas Carol marathon (Alastair Sim's 1951 Scrooge is far and away the best; George C. Scott's 1984 is pretty damned good, and Michael Caine's 1993 foray in The Muppet Christmas Carol is quite nice, while Patrick Stewart's 1999 TNT Original Production blows). I talked him down from that in time for me and my younger sister to spend an afternoon with our mom, step-father and step-family where we always feel oh-so warm and welcomed. It's been a helluva year between the birth of my step-niece, the death of my step-grandmother, my other step-niece's behavioral disorders, my step-sister's recurrent alcoholism in the face of liver failure and her final success staying clean and sober long enough to get herself on the transplant list, so nobody had any energy left to attempt to degrade the queer child of a recent convert to a socially conservative religious orientation. Yea me!
I really am too hard on them. They've never really been insulting--well, my mother has, but she's behaved very nicely of late (I think the HRT is doing her some good)--they're just a bunch of rednecks who don't know what to do with me. I'd be queer to them even if I were straight. I just don't fit any of their norms. Eh. C'est la vie. But I got through dinner with them in time to have supper and the movie-fest with Dad. My sister left for a bit to spend time with her boyfriend and some of their people, but when she got back at 1 AM she had new jewelry to show off. My initial reaction to her engagement was chilly, but I'm slowly warming up to the idea. It has nothing to do with her fiance, and it has nothing to do with her (although she does need to finish her degree before she gets married--all my girl friends agree). It has everything to do with the way marriage gets sold as the end-all-be-all of human emotional, sexual and economic relationships.
In other words, I'm an outspoken critic of marriage--gay and straight--who now needs to find productive ways to manage his concerns about his sister's impending marriage. On the upside, this is an opportunity for them to do marriage differently, an opportunity for a young couple to recognize that there is no set of necessary propositions for what a marriage is or is not. It's an opportunity for them to queer their marriage. Insert smiley face here.
Christmas with Dad and our extended family was a blast, as usual. I don't think I ate any solid food all afternoon; my uncles kept feeding me imported beers (which were just excellent), but they were only doling them out in tiny portions, and I was drinking quite slowly anyway, so I never got crocked, but I was quite happy by the time my aunt, uncle and cousin dropped me off back at my dad's place where I celebrated my masterful diplomatic skills and inspired negotiation of my family relationships by watching the Special Extended Edition DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (a much appreciated gift from my sister--thank you, Sweetie!--who's Kermit the Frog, by the way) and drinking the last of the Old Fezziwig Christmas Ale my father had acquired for the celebration of our Christmas feast. It was a very nice holiday, indeed.
But now I'm home and I need to decompress quickly so I can get back to work on my Master's Portfolio. I've chucked the Thesis Project entirely, and I'm a bit frustrated that my advisor didn't see the wisdom of this a long time ago. At the beginning of every semester for three semesters running I've gone into her office to pitch my portfolio proposal, and every semester for three semesters running she gives me the "A Portfolio Is an Inferior Option" speech.
She gave it to me in August. I remember.
But, after accomplishing absolutely nothing in terms of material development of the thesis this semester (but accomplishing a great deal in terms of personal growth and development) and getting called onto the carpet to explain my apparent lack of progress (I'm still pissed about this--I haven't accomplished a damned thing either of the other two semesters I've been enrolled in Research Hours, but now a satisfactory assessment is an ethical dilemma for her), I pushed my portfolio plan one more time and she gave her consent. Apparently there's been some new thinking in the Department, and they've realized collectively that a portfolio is not to be looked down upon because other big-name departments (like Harvard) don't even offer a thesis option for completion of a Master's Degree. I'm not really upset about the time I've spent at this institution; I've been clueless about what to do next for the past 18 months, so I would have hung around here anyway until I got myself sorted out (which I think I've managed to do, by the way). I am, however, pissed about the extra $18,000 in student loans I've taken out while I beat my head against a wall trying to get this damned thesis out of me by hook or by crook.
But now, I need to start thinking about getting to bed so I can get up in the morning and go running before I throw myself into the retyping of my seminar papers for my portfolio. I lost the electronic originals when Windows 98 crashed after I installed my external CD writer last January--I like XP Pro much better, thank you--but I do still have hard copies of all three papers. Hell, I have hardcopies of everything I've ever submitted. That's just the sort of guy I am.
So a happy Christmas to all, pleasant Kwanza, a good Yule and a luminous Hanukkah (I know it's over, but I never took the opportunity to publicly acknowledge it, so thpppt).