I spent the weekend in Chicago, and will be working from my parents' house today and tomorrow before flying back to Boston (to drive to Raleigh to fly to China)[0]. Originally I was just here to see my parents, as they (as usual) requested my presence, and tend to bribe me with my favorite comfort foods upon arrival (I had my first decent bowl of lugaw (rice porridge) in 2 months last night, and it was great), but when I landed in Chicago I promptly found out that my Ama (paternal grandmother), Ako (father's eldest sister), and my Ako's daughter Rizza (my cousin - she's my age) had also arrived that day.

In the past year, my mother has taken up both yoga and stonecarving, and is noticeably calmer (I think) now that she is taking time to do things for herself, and I am glad. (And have been telling her to do this for the better part of... hrm. I dunno. 12 or 13 years, at least.) My dad is as akaw ("overly affectionate") as he ever was. Ako and Rizza have taken over the bathroom: I am not sure what the multiple bags and tubes and jars and bottles are, but they take up a lot more room than... my toothbrush and my travel tube of toothpaste. (See, I figure when I stay somewhere, there will be soap and shampoo present, and if not, I can walk to a drugstore and get a tiny travel-size bottle, and what more than soap and shampoo do you need anyway?)

This afternoon, my cousin Mark (also my age) and I took Rizza, Ako, and Ama downtown because my parents were busy using Mark and Randy's Christmas present to them (a cooking class). We rented a quad bike, which looks like a golf cart with pedals, and rode up and down the shore of Lake Michigan. More accurately, Mark and I pedaled us up and down the shoreline while Ama sat in the back and Ako and Rizza tried to keep up with our pedaling. When we went up hills I would leap out and push from the side while Mark continued to pedal and steer (so they wouldn't have to pedal my weight, but I could push harder).

It was a good time; warm day, blue skies, and I was more or less myself and more or less relaxed and their reaction was an amused ay nako, there goes that Mallory being weird again head-shaking and laughing. Really, if it's a sunny day and you've stopped by a park and are waiting for people to come back from taking pictures, I think it's perfectly normal to lie down in the grass and enjoy the sunshine, but for some reason this is amusing, as is running (in general) and spontaneously being excited about... well... life. They really have been getting more and more used to me over the past several years, which is... good, because my role in the family appears to be "let's push the edge of everybody's comfort zone now, shall we?" at times.

Dinner featured the Asian equivalent of the Pru Frappe: a giant coconut bubble tea freeze from Joy Yee's that was approximately equivalent in volume to a Pru. Om nom nom. As much as I complain about my family sometimes, they can be pretty awesome, and I do love them (and vice versa). We don't agree on some things, and I can't speak the mix of languages they speak, and I am unashamedly the Weird American Child, but... I dunno if this makes sense, but hearing conversations in dialects I barely understand is part of coming home. An oddly comforting part of coming home. This setup, strange and stressful as it is sometimes, is home. And these people are my family. And... I do not appreciate this enough.

I'm not coherent enough to write this well tonight, but wanted to pin as much of my brain down as possible before I spiral into unconsciousness for the night. Trying to fight perfectionism in my output, since I need to spew a lot of it and have been failing "release early release often" due to overly high standards, so you'll likely see me spew a lot of utter nonsense in the next 2 weeks. I'll brainspew, then at some point (hopefully) cull the good stuff and send that to various Planets / my team / etc / etc / etc.


[0] and after I get back from China I am hoping that my next destination will be unconsciousness. Good grief but it's been quite a summer. AN AWESOME SUMMER!!!! but yes. Rest. I've heard it's sometimes a good thing.