Wednesday, November 23

Another early morning, I wake up at 7am hoping to finish packing my suitcase for departure back to Houston in the afternoon but only to be motivated to stay in my comfy, warm bed because of the Residence Hall’s inability to comprehend that when it’s winter, the heater’s supposed to go on, not the A.C., but the HEATER. I remain in my cozy bed for about 2 hours talking to “Polly” on MSN. Good day thus far.

My roommate then comes back from her lectures and says, “I’m going to bake you oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies for your birthday!” I try to tell her that it really wasn’t necessary but fail, miserably, so off she runs to go bake me cookies for my birthday. She comes back about an hour later and, whilst laughing hysterically, tells me, “Your cookies turned into cookie cake… I think I put too much water” at which point I look down and see an amalgamated coating of oatmeal, chocolate chips, and cookie dough on her rectangular baking pan. Well, I can’t eat the entire pan of cookie… so there I was, cutting circles and squares (whichever shape fit best) with Jenn’s plastic butter knife and trying to make the pieces of baked cookie dough resemble the appearance of cookies the best I could. *Refer to picture below* The remainder of the day, I spent scraping the stuck cookie dough from the pan with the, abovementioned, plastic butter knife. All in all, it was a fun experience and it’s always the thought that counts. Thanks Jenn.

Thursday, November 24

Being the crazy, lunatic people that my parents are, they decided… Hey! Let’s drive 5.5 hours to Dallas to visit Dad’s old college buddies whom you haven’t seen for the past 13 years and most likely won’t remember at all! So we get up at 8am, load the SUV, and depart at 9am in order to avoid any possible traffic (not like there would be any *on* Thanksgiving Day). The first 4/5 of the trip went pretty smoothly thanks to our “handy-dandy” Navigation System, but once we arrived in Dallas… things didn’t go as well as planned. The Navigation System told us to take the tollway that wraps around part of the city and eventually leads to Legacy Street. My dad, being the overly confident and self-proclaimed genius that he is, says, “No, stupid program, we’re not taking the tollway, it wraps around so we have to drive *gasp* 2 extra miles. I know a shortcut!”

In an attempt to avoid the tollway ($1.75), the loop-around, and the whopping 2 extra miles, my dad decides to take his so-called “shortcut.” This so-called “shortcut” was sooooo short that we ended up wasting 45 minutes of our time; time we spent looking for Legacy Street without taking the tollway. Finally my mom gets impatient and tells my dad to take the next exit and make a U-turn. My dad obliges and… wow, some U-turn it was; we forgot to look at the sign before exiting and ended up turning onto the George Bush Turnpike. At this point, my dad, still brooding for having driven 18 extra miles and for not being able to avoid the George Bush Turnpike this time, is completely oblivious to his surroundings and hence, misses the sign that separates the TollTag lane from the Self-pay lane and continues to cruise down the TollTag lane (which we don’t have). Not until I yell out, “Dad! You just drove past the TollTag… now you’re going to be fined $20 by the government” did the man come back to his senses, partially. He turns his head around in disbelief and starts laughing hysterically, “Oh the irony. This is B.S. They can’t fine me; I engineered 90% of their damn bridges!” Then to my dad’s dismay, the George Bush Turnpike turns into the tollway we were originally supposed to take, but luckily, we ended up in the correct lane this time and paid our $1.75.

Eventually, we arrived at my dad’s friend’s house and everyone got a good laugh at my dad’s stupidity whilst he desperately tried to reconstruct his crushed dignity. Men and their egos, ugh.

By the time 11pm rolled around, I was completely exhausted, so I asked to be excused from the Thanksgiving party to go to bed; my sister decides to sleep also. The hostess then led us to the guest room where there were 2 beds- a small one and a big one- and being the older sister, I got the bigger bed. Although tired beyond belief, I couldn’t fall asleep until around 12:30am but only to be woken up by noises coming from the opposite side of the room and a dark figure. Then I realize it’s my sister and I ask her what the hell she was doing up at 1:11am walking around looking like a psychopath and she responds with, “My bed’s lumpy. I can’t sleep.” So… I scoot over and we share the big bed. Again, I had trouble falling asleep till it was around 3am, but once again, was woken up by some strange music that I ignorantly dismissed as a subconscious, mental alarm clock of some sort, so I fell asleep again. The jingle goes off again 5 minutes later and I recurrently disregard it as anything significant but merely as my own mind playing games with me because I was so tired. So between this 25-minute interlude (3:58am-4:23am), I was in a state of limbo- half conscious and half unconscious, falling in and out of sleep because of this constant thought-to-have-been intrinsic, mental alarm clock that I later realized to have been the “New Message” tune on my cell phone, which had been going off every 5 minutes since 3:58am. “Polly” sent me a text message to wish me a happy birthday. Thanks.

Finally, I could sleep in peace… or so I thought. My mom came into the room at 5:15am to sleep on the “lumpy bed” because my dad was snoring too loudly in the other room. She then approaches my bed and tells me that I can sleep till whenever I wanted Friday.

Friday, November 25

So much for getting to sleep till whenever; my mom marches into the room at 9am in the morning and starts reprimanding me on why I was still asleep while everyone else was waiting for me downstairs to eat breakfast. Hence began the second longest day of my Thanksgiving Break. I quickly get up, do the morning routine, rush downstairs to have breakfast while the adults share embarrassing stories about when I was a little kid, then sat watching TV until it was time to join the rest of my dad’s colleagues for lunch. At this point my eyes resembled somewhat those of a goldfish – swollen from lack of proper sleep. Lunch was pretty good although weird at one point. Food was great; restaurant atmosphere was great; table size and customer-to-customer distance, not so great. One minute everyone would be chatting and laughing…

Man1: “Remember how bad I was at mathematics? Hahahaha”
Dad: “Hahahahahaha!”
Man2: “No, wait, what happened?”
Dad: “The professor asked him what he can do with logs Hahaha.”
Man1: “And I told him Hahahahaha ‘Sir, you use logs to build a fire of course.’ Then he gives me the weirdest look and I add, ‘Oh, and to make furniture!'”
Man3: “You still probably don’t know what a Logarithm is! Hahahaha”

And the next minute I look up and everyone’s silent- crying, reflecting on the past.

After lunch everyone decided to drive down to a mall some 20 miles away to visit yet another college friend of my dad’s who owns a store there. We stood around her store for about an hour talking, and right before we get ready to leave, she shoves a shopping bag containing 2 purses in my hand. I highly dislike taking things from other people. She worked hard to get the money to buy this store and to keep it from closing due to lack of customers and bankruptcy; she wakes up at 6am every morning to drive all the way down here and stays till past 9pm every night; what makes me different from any other customer who comes into the store looking for something to purchase? I haven’t seen her in 13 years and she barely recognizes me; I’m no more a friend to her than any random person she picks off the street. But with everyone, including my 9-year old sister, pressuring me to take the gift, I had to oblige. Thanks.

Still feeling restless, the parents decide to go to Starbuck’s for some coffee. My mom doesn’t know I occasionally indulge in a nice cup of Starbuck’s Caramel Frappuccino; so in order to keep up this charade, I bought my sister and myself the usual Vanilla Bean whilst the other kids were given Hot Chocolates by their mothers instead. It was quite amusing watching these kids stare at my sis and me as we drank our cups of Vanilla Bean, envying us, and then running to their mommies asking for some also. But of course, having already bought their children Hot Chocolate, they refuse these moneyless kids their much desired drink.

Personally, I think that’s just stupid. The kids should be able to choose what they want to have in the first place and not be restricted to what their parents believe is “good” and “healthy.” Vanilla Bean doesn’t even have caffeine anyway. In most families, it’s this simple constraint and suppression by the adults that lead the child(ren) to sometimes become restrained, secluded, afraid to try new things, anti-social, rebellious, naïve, and/or vacuous on many different levels. Don’t get me wrong though, I shield my sister from outrageously obscene movies/TV shows all the time but censorship on television and the media is something I’d rather not get into right now unless you want to read a 5-page essay.

Hence, I went and bought the kids some Vanilla Bean after fighting one of the mothers to the cash register. Luckily for me, she didn’t know the name so as she was scanning the menu looking for it, I got a head start.

With another party/get-together on the schedule, my dad also got a head start in finding the perfect birthday cake for me before any one of his colleagues could; but of course getting a head start meant not telling anyone where he was going… so there we were standing in the middle of the Starbuck’s parking lot in the cold Dallas winter (and it does snow in Dallas sometimes so it’s not just me being a wuss and being unable to stand a chilly Texas winter!) trying to find my dad. I refused to wait any longer because I needed to shower before the colleague-to-colleague gathering, so I left early on a separate car.

We arrive back at the house, and I was in the middle of undressing when I hear my sister and 3 other kids yell, “Lucky? Luuuuuucccckkkkkyyyy… Where are you Lucky?” *Author’s Note: Lucky is our Pomeranian (for all you non-dog-lovers out there, a Pom, AKA Pomeranian, is a specific breed of the canine family) whom we brought with us on our trip*

My mom, prior to leaving the house for lunch, left Lucky in the backyard so he had more room to run around and play than sitting in his cage all day until we got back. But *Surprise Surprise* there was a hole in the backyard fence. I quickly put on my clothes again and run outside barefoot with my sister, looking for my dog for almost 45 minutes. At this point I was ready for the worst: he got ran over by a car, got stolen by a neighborhood thief who likes pretty dogs… in which case my sister starts crying and proposes that I’m purposely saying such horrible things just to make her feel miserable. As we make our way back to the house I yell out “Lucky” one last time, and we hear a dog barking and scratching on the next-door neighbor’s backyard fence.

It ends up that Lucky didn’t crawl out of the hole… oh no… the neighbor heard my dog barking and opened the fence door, then took my poor dog to his house. Who the hell in their right mind does that? Maybe this is why shooting someone who trespasses on your private property in Texas isn’t illegal; such weirdoes living in this state.

At the party there really wasn’t much to do. All the kids were fighting over one Xbox controller. So with nothing else better to do when the controller was taken, the little kids decide: Hey! Let’s play “gang-up on the big kid”- Me. There I was perfectly minding my own business and watching Jeffrey play Aquaman when a line of little toddlers come charging at me with pillows and cushions in their little hands. That’s right- Pillow Fight! Two 7-year olds on my right, a 6-year old in the middle, and my sister on my left- I had only 2 couch cushions with which to defend myself. On a side note, I never knew little kids could run so fast. But it’s always good to be twice as tall as all of them, except for my sister… who hits the hardest, especially on the head.

That night I slept well, that is until my sister’s irregular sleeping positions resulted in me being kicked in the stomach by her big foot, which eventually made its way somehow up to my face, in the middle of the night.

Saturday, November 26

Saturday wasn’t as eventful as Friday, but nonetheless, still interesting. Initially preparing to leave Dallas at 9am that day, the host and hostess of the house convinced my parents to go out to lunch with their family before we left. Their little 6-year old son named Austin sat in our car. The entire drive there he wouldn’t stop asking “Where are we going?” and “Are we there yet?” even though every one of us had answered his questions at least 4 times. Being the easily-annoyed person that my sister is, she immediately started yelling at Austin, and being the older one, I had to fix the problem. So, to get his attention away from the phrases “where are we going” and “are we there yet,” I turn to Austin and I ask him:

Me: ‘Austin, are you afraid of me?’
Austin: “Noooo…”
Me: ‘Hmm, then what are you afraid of?’
Austin: “Nothing! I hold the power of the universe!”
Me: ‘Oh really… then I guess you’re not afraid of being tickled, huh?’
Austin: *Whispers* “I’m not afraid…”
Me: ‘You sure?’And I immediately start tickling him and then eventually stop after about 10 seconds of torture.Austin: “I bet you’re ticklish too!”
Me: ‘Nope, I’m not ticklish; you can even ask my sister.’
Christin: “She’s ticklish, hehehe.”
Me: *Glares at sister* ‘Liar.’

But before I could say anything else, Austin starts “tickling” me everywhere, but instead of lightly contacting the surface of the skin to arouse the tickling sensation, Austin starts pinching and clawing me. Good game gone awry.
Me: ‘Hey um Austin, you’re kinda hurting me.’ As I try to avoid his crab-like hands.
Austin: “See! You are ticklish!”

We finally arrive at the restaurant- eat, chat, laugh, eat some more. Then comes the time to pay the check… my parents whisper in my sister’s ear to DISCREETLY grab the tab without anyone noticing and bring it to them. I have to applaud my sister for her dexterity in being inconspicuous. She grabs the check swiftly, runs around the table to my parents’ side, and balances the small pink sheet of paper perfectly on my mom’s head. A person must be blind not to have noticed that, and unfortunately, my dad’s colleague did notice that; so began the game of Keep Away. Eventually, my dad did get a hold of the check and sits on it; his friend, not knowing where the check went, starts climbing underneath the table and tablecloth looking for it, looks up and spots a pink slip of paper between the seat cushion and my dad’s behind, grabs it and runs to give it to his eldest son. My dad’s friend ended up winning this game of Keep Away. Right before our 5.5-hour drive again, this time back to Houston, my dad’s colleague/friend/host stuffs $50 into my pocket as a birthday gift. Again I was stuck in an awkward situation and once again had to oblige due to peer and filial pressure. Thanks.

(Originally Posted 11/30/05)