Thursday, December 29, 2005

All the people that you've loved they're all bound to leave some keepsakes

Right now I'm feeling a bit strange. I'm not sure if its because I'm going to the city tomorrow and my plans are a bit up in the air, or because I've spent too long sitting at my computer today with no real purpose, or the fact that I'm listening to the Smiths, or the fact that its the end of this year. I'm overly anxious, I always have been. I can't leave well enough alone, because I can't turn my brain off. It goes off at a thousand miles an hour, almost always in the wrong direction, and this is not a good thing.
Right now I'm anxious that Vivek will not be able to meet up with me when I get to NYC, and that the TAN man will be too busy to meet up for a drink, and that I'll be stuck in NYC alone for New Year, and then I'll be thinking about how much fun everyone else is having and it will only increase my misery when in reality I'm likely to meet up with both Vivek and TAN and we'll have a wonderful time and I'll get to see a little bit more of the city, and get a bit drunky, and buy some crappy souvenirs, and despite the fact I don't have a place to stay on Saturday night I will still have fun because if push comes to shove I can store my bag in a locker somewhere or dump it at Vivek's cousin's place and stay up all night partying with people I don't know yet.

This year, wow. We've had a few beauties this year, haven't we.
Speaking for myself, I began the year in the last stages of my Masters degree, proceeded to teach at two universities, present a paper at a conference in Australia, ended the affair I should not have been having but damn it was fun, randomly found out about this university in New York, and ended up here on a full tuition scholarship with a graduate assistantship to boot.

I also finished a career in hospitality I began eleven years previous, which was bittersweet. I still miss the madness, especially in the kitchen, but it was time to move on, and I was in a position to be able to.

I saw the Beastie Boys and the Chemical Brothers in the same day at the Big Day Out, which was coolness personified. The next one is headlined by none other than Iggy and the Stooges, and I would freaking love to see them, especially if they do Search and Destroy. That would rule. I also saw the awesomeness that is Fat Freddy's Drop on my last Saturday in NZ, and thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

I built a really good relationship with my nieces. I had a pretty good one with my nephew, because he's that little bit older, and remembered more of me from before I left the last time, but Sam was just a baby, and Rosie, well she wasn't even a twinkle in her father's eye.

Speaking of her father. My brother in law. This year was pretty extreme as far as my family is concerned. I didn't blog about it at the time, because it wasn't my thing to be talking about, but it's over now, and I feel like I can.
Not that it was about me at all, but the day before you are meant to submit your thesis is not the best day for one's beloved brother in law to be going into surgery to remove a brain tumour the size of a golf ball. Especially when said man is 32 years old, father of three children under ten years old, and a penchant for junk food notwithstanding, really freaking healthy. The guy goes for three hour bike rides. For fun!! Up and down hills!!!
When we found out we had no idea what was happening, he was having violent seizures, but there was no trace of epilepsy or similar, my poor sister had to hold it together for the sake of her children, two of whom were too young to understand, and its hard looking a child in the eye and telling them that daddy was going to be fine when you have absolutely no idea if he will live or die. I was still working in the restaurant at the time, and trying to hold it together there was a struggle at times, one which I lost a couple of times.

When I was trying to put the finishing touches on my thesis for submission while the rest of the family was at the hospital or with the children it really made me think about the important stuff. Have you seen Labyrinth? If not, you should, because it is one of the best movies ever made. All of life's important lessons are in that film.
There is one scene where the heroine Sarah, a sixteen year old Jennifer Connolly, is in a mock up of her bedroom. The evil Goblin King has stolen her baby brother and plans to turn him into a goblin, and Sarah must prevent him. A witchy crone type goblin attempts to distract Sarah with the illusion of her bedroom, and shows her all the treasures of her childhood. Teddy bears, figurines, a shiny gold mini carousel, are all things the witch uses, saying to Sarah "these are the things you want".
In the face of all this temptation to abandon the search for her brother, Sarah has a moment of clarity. She realises the true value of family versus trinkets, and hurls the gold carousel into the mirror, crying "Its all junk".

That scene, better than anything I could come up with, summed up what I felt while sitting in my office that day. My thesis, the quest for money and shiny things, all the material things of this world, are all junk compared to the real wealth one finds in family. Deadlines, possessions, daily stresses, wondering what to have for dinner, what to watch on the telly, whether to buy those new shoes, its all junk when a member of your family is lying on an operating table.
And I think we've all learned from this. I said to my sister that the whole unpleasant business made me think about what we have, and told her that I love her and that I'm so glad I have her for my sister. And we're all stronger for it too. There's the feeling, at any family gathering, that we are lucky, we are so freaking lucky its not funny, to have all of us here together, and luckier still that we can recognise that.

So many people go through their lives without that sort of opportunity. Sure, it was hell, and given the option, no sane person would chose nearly losing a member of their family over an eventless year, but I believe (after many years of hard work) that there is something positive that can come out of almost anything, and out of this experience we are safe in the knowledge that we love each other, that we are important to each other, and that when the excrement hits the air conditioning we've got what it takes to come out on top.
After a month of not knowing what was going on, then brain surgery, then two months of recovery, followed by several more seizures, a benign verdict on the excised tumour, a few hiccoughs with medication, some more MRIs and other scans, we now have a really positive outcome. He is back at work, the nine month scan proved absolutely no regrowth of tumour type matter, and today he cycled over the Crown Range.
I think after its all over, I can say that the entire experience proved what an incredible woman my sister is. She had to hold it all together for her husband and children, and did so with such grace and strength I am constantly amazed. If anything, I think it was more stressful for her than anyone, including her husband, and she handled it like nothing I have ever seen.

So, if I was to pick a person of the year, as the tv stations seem so keen on doing, I would not pick any old celebrity or politician. I pick her.

I hereby nominate my oldest sister as person of the year, for grace under fire, courage through adversity, true selflessness, keeping it together and raising the three coolest kids this world has ever seen.

And with that, I end the blogging of 2005.
I'm off to the city tomorrow, and my computer will be staying here, keeping an eye on you all.
Sunshine, Grace and Apoc, you may well be recieving boozy phonecalls on New Years Eve. Or not. Depends if I lose my phone/lose my friends/lose my marbles.
TAN, I have emailed you my phone number, so please call me tomorrow and we will have scrummy vodka styles.
Tara, I'm sorry I can't be in Paris with you, but one day baby, one day....
All my friends in NZ yes I know you will have New Years 18 hours before me, please be good to the new year before you send it off this way
Flint....I'll see you on January 14th.

I'll be back in 06.