Sunday, March 29, 2009


I met my niece Ella today.

My dad is moving to Kansas in two weeks, so we had lunch at Ben and Katie's, I suppose as a re-introduction between his children before he goes away.

The baby had enormous cheeks. I said she was cute and Ben said, "Well, sure, she has our blood!" It was jarring, not so much that Ben and I are related, but to hear something that implies it's significant. I don't consider it meaningless; I just never considered it at all: that being related could have implications, that his children could look like me somehow, or that we share something based on family lines.

I went shopping with Caitie on Thursday. We don't look anything alike (in the face, at least). I've always considered her entirely my sister, but being family was about shared experience, not blood. Maybe our values or mannerisms or sense of humor, things I think we share most, were passed on genetically. These have value to me, and knowing that she's the only person who knows my childhood in detail, understands what it was like to grow up with my mom, her father on weekends, our stepdad. This knowledge that we'll carry certain profound impressions through our lives is what makes us sisters; that we're half related has little more significance to me than the idea that we're half un-related.

Rod and I had dinner with Ben and Katie once a couple years ago, and I went to their wedding a year or two before that. I saw Ben occasionally when we were kids, but I was maybe 5 at the oldest and my idea of family was pretty much shot -- or revised to include only a mom and baby sister. Comprehending that this older kid was somehow my brother didn't compute, and I never felt inclined to consider it.

If I had considered it more recently, I would have realized that regardless of my ambivalence toward knowing my dad, I would like to know Ben and Katie, and now Ella. Katie is a teacher, earned her masters at the UW. She maybe studied art history. Ben cooks, apparently, braises lamb shanks. They have a great house about two blocks from my Ravenna apartment, and judging from the decor they have good taste. I want to meet more babies; they have a baby. Presumably, I could try to get to know them now, but we've lived nearly within walking distance for years, so it's a bit odd to think of it today. And there are probably hundreds of Seattle couples with backgrounds and interests compatible with mine and Brian's, but apparently being family means a shortcut to friendship - you don't have to get lucky meeting someone at work, you can assume connections based on blood, then learn about them later.

So If I had considered it, I might have made some effort to know them. The implications of that, though, are barely fathomable. Would we actually have spent time together? Would I have known my dad better, seen some better side of him that made me like him more? Would the idea of having a brother mean something different to me (mean something to me)? It might have changed my concept of myself within some tenuous family structure, or might not have changed anything. Introductions are usually meant to resolve some mystery (Oh, you're the one. Now I see why everyone likes him so much. I didn't realize she'd be so tall.), but today was just questions.

Friday, March 27, 2009

OMG I love TV

Seen on an MSN slide: "House: A woman who believes a cat has predicted her death desperately seeks House's help."

Goodbye April budget.

Hello Kate Spade.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Children are our future, supposedly.

Beer and snacks last night with another young couple, half of whom Brian knows through MSN. Another extended conversation about job prospects for humanities majors in a time of economic turmoil.

Brian starts prepeqs for a masters program next Monday. I do not envy homework, but the moving forward with new skills and ideas, the opening of new doors, the meeting of new people.

I looked at the UW College of Ed Programs again and still feel little excitement for Higher Ed Leadership and Policy Studies. Maybe if my job felt stagnant or I felt underqualified or I was actively trying to move up the ladder (or if there really was a ladder). It's not that grad school is wholely unappealing - an art history degree would be exciting, or literature.

Or a Masters in Teaching. Then I remember I've spent almost no time with kids, and very little time off a college campus. Would I teach high school social studies? First grade? I have no frame of reference, I can't even imagine what a first grader is like ... smallish, I guess, but more cute or more obnoxious? Do they read novels in first grade? Do they comprehend history or international relations? Do they pick out their own clothes? Shouldn't I have met some small children by this point in life?

I emailer SAM about volunteer opportunities with kids and the director is sending my contact info to the person who runs the youth and community programs. It might be more enlightening to tutor, but I know SAM is a solid place to volunteer, and helping toddlers paste feathers to masks seem like a safer step toward exploring my abilities with youth.

Friday, March 20, 2009

First day of spring

It hasn't exactly been winter: no frost, no snow but big splashy flakes last Sunday. Wintery sentiments of cocoa by the fire (or TV) gave way back in January to New Years' resolutions, now also long gone. I went spring clothes shopping with Melissa a month ago, and had to try on my new skirt again to remind myself what it was like. This awkward interim between seasons maybe be thanks to the forces of marketing more than nature, but it's still a relief to officially say today is Spring.

There's a pink tree outside my office window, and the rain has let up momentarily. Campus is mostly empty.

Nate and Melissa are looking at houses. $300k, three bedrooms, a loan at 4%, a zipcode outside the city. A yard for a pony-sized dog.

It was a shock to my identity to consider living outside Seattle. Wallingford doesn't exactly bustle, but we've got fancy cupcakes and a view of the city from the bottom of the street. People look happy and interested when you say you live in Wallingford. No one says, "Oh, Lynnwood! I love that neighborhood."

But, browsing Redfin, houses get bigger and prices smaller as you click further from Seattle. Developments with names like Windy Willowpines advertise low rates through preferred lenders. Pristine homes in gated communities offer benefits that make me feel both sick and entitled: "A security entry gate to ensure that only friendly faces are at your doorstep." I'm again conflicted to edge my cursor carefully away from my old neighborhood, my own school district. I may become comfortable outside the city, but I don't want Everett on my address labels.