My dad’s birthday is tomorrow, his 56th. Long live the king. Another day older, another day wiser I guess you could say. We’ve haven’t always seen eye to eye but there has always been a mutual respect between us. His understanding of the world is obviously a whole lot different from mine because of the different times he grew up in. He knows how to use a computer obviously, but there is still many other technological things that would be a mystery to him, like smartphones and tablets. I’m seeing him more often than ever since my parents split, nearly every day now, which is a good sign that our relationship will start to strengthen more over time.
A family tree tells a lot about you in many ways. What you once thought was true suddenly goes out the window as the whole puzzle comes together.
Last night I decided, out of sheer curiosity, to look up the origin of my last name, because there is still so much mystery I have yet to uncover. My digging for answers eventually led me to Ancestry.com, where I began constructing my whole family tree, going back to my long ago ancestors in Ireland. The entire lineage of just my father’s side of the family creates some interesting theories: am I directly related to other people with different last names than me, that aren’t exactly apart of my family bloodline? The “treasure” I am ultimately trying to find is the point where my immediate family begins, where the usage of the last name ultimately started. I also wanted to know if I in any way had any trace of royal blood in me, if any of my relatives were descended from the royal kingdom. Probably not, but still worth a try.
My mom’s side of the family seems to go way back to a long lineage of Dakins, Brooks, and Wheelers that originated from England, first immigrating to New York and Massachusetts. Then they started moving west and eventually settled in Michigan. The Draffens, however, settled down in the southern states of Kentucky and Tennessee, with some moving to Michigan to find jobs perhaps.
My dad’s side of the family includes the Hammells, Chisholms, O’Hearns, and Meehans.I have been able to go back as far as my 3rd great-grandfather with the name Hammell, while I am still going strong on finding the oldest great-grandparent in my family history, now down to the 11th level and traveling back to my ancestors homelands in England, Germany, Scotland, and Ireland.
Little E with her Connor in a happy moment sometime last year.
There’s no such thing as a late holiday.
And what an eventful couple of days it was. Emily and her boyfriend Connor came up from Kansas to have a late Christmas with us at my dad’s apartment, which doesn’t usually see so much action like it did. Another round of gifts was very pleasing and entertaining. This is the latest we have opened gifts and it felt vaguely different because of the rush factor not being there. I received a couple more shirts, including another Star Wars themed to go along with the two others in my collection, a much needed guitar songbook, and a retro series Sega Genesis loaded with over 80 games and able to accept original cartridges. Sure beats anything from the modern day game consoles.
Most of the time during those days the two Kansasites stayed, it was eating and eating. We first ate out at McDonald’s, then Virginia Coney Island (I ordered the Elvis burger), then Olive Garden (the flirty waitress and her cheese grater), got pizza and breadsticks from Klavon’s (long, long wait), and ate at the icecream parlour today.
Tasting wine at Olive Garden was something. Connor acted all connoisseur and sophisticated in the art of wine tasting, swirling it around and sniffing out the aromas. The waitress was very friendly and sported a playful and cutesy attitude. When I asked for more cheese to be grated onto the big bowl of salad that was ordered, she put some on my empty plate, laughed, and said “there’s your more.” Along with an alcoholic beverage, I ordered the chicken scampi, which became leftovers that took me two days to finally finish because I kept forgetting about it in the car trunk.
Damn. I didn’t win the Powerball lottery. Got just one number from three tickets. Three people from California, Texas, and Florida won the money and split it. Why is it always the big, iconic states that win? That can’t just be a coincidence.
Now that the big billions are gone and the jackpot is back to its minimum amount, it will be easier to play it with the odds being better and not so many people buying a ticket. I will continue to play my same numbers. It may take me the rest of my life but someday I’ll get lucky – and probably end up with bad luck after winning. For the people that have just won the lottery, I hope they are smart enough to get a financial advisory or lawyer to help them with it. Having that much money and nowhere safe to put it (not even a regular bank) can be risky.
My new friend Connor was a ball of hyper energy as usual (referring to the last time he was with us) and upset my dad quite a bit with his lippy attitude and ego, and tendency to correct people. When Connor said that the radio playing the national championship game was too loud, dad stormed away from the table, where we were playing Cards Against Humanity, and shut off the radio that was playing in his room.
Today we all went to the Westwood Mall. Emily and Connor wanted to ride around on these motorized animal riders, Connor being way too big, so they both paid five dollars. I would have joined in but thought five dollars was too steep for this silly thing, so I went around recording the two with Emily’s phone. She then shared the video on Facebook.
Connor and I then stopped by Gamestop so he could buy something with the giftcard he got for Christmas from us. He ended up buying Minecraft for the PS4 and a guidebook. While sitting on the bench outside the store, we talked about games and different things that could be built in Minecraft, like redstone activated castle doors and the lot.
Then him and I went into Hot Topic (a punk/pop culture store) and browsed around. He was looking for a gift to get Emily, which ended up being a Zelda themed dress that I was hesitate about at first but then okay with after seeing my sister walk around in it, reminding me of something Luna Lovegood would wear. He also bought a Majora’s mask t-shirt to go along with his matching medallion. Hot Topic is one store that had since lost its “cool” edge ever since I graduated high school and grew up. Going back in there brought back memories of my first time shopping there and buying my first piece of “dark” clothing.
The whole group later shot a couple rounds of pool at the Avenue Billiards. Connor and my dad had one table while me, mom, and Emily played amateur at another. I ended up playing a round with dad (getting smoked) after Mr. Know-it-All gave up trying to beat the pool shark that my dad is.
Everything feels so much quieter when it’s just me, my uncle, and mom in the house again. My thoughts are much louder and it is easier to write when I don’t feel distracted. I love it when everyone is together and having fun talking and laughing but in the back of my mind I know I have responsibilities and can’t just let things go, which can be very easy to do when I am having such an exciting time, like I did these past couple of days.
Our boy Connor is definitely the X-Factor when it comes to these family get togethers. He is quite the polar opposite of my immediate family, who are usually laid back and calm while he always has to have drama and be causing a scene. I like to say he complements me though and I hope that we both can get to be real good friends for years to come.
Daily Prompt: Ripped Into the Headlines
Whatever happened to
My deeply special Thanksgiving
When the food was so irresistible
And football wasn’t even my thing
The meals we all shared
Turkey “carved” at every table
The unconventional prayer
Spilling gravy on my lapel
Always the cranberry sauce
Smell of fresh baked rolls
The mac and cheese steaming hot
It was a cozy winter’s time
As a young one with the
Aunts, uncles, and grandparents
Raising a goblet of fake champagne
Ding, ding, ding
For best wishes and merit
But now something is lost
And it’s just not the same
I suppose that’s the advent of growing up
Family has gotten smaller
And now the greatest thing is pies
And the football game
What happens in Springfield, stays in Springfield. Okay, not really…it’s not that exciting but I’m just trying to be funny.
So today my great but sometimes odd family all came together in Springfield, Illinois as I told you was going to happen yesterday. And what a wonderful reunion it was. Everyone, that includes my two sisters, Emily and Liz, and their significant others, Connor and Shaun, mom, dad, uncle, and I, and the son, Jace, of Liz’s boyfriend Shaun. We all had a very fun and exciting day filled with happiness, laughter, and a lot of conversation coming from one overexcited video game expert.
A highway asphalt rolling machine I saw on the way to Springfield. The only reason I took this picture is because we were in a traffic jam and stopped on the highway.
Emily, my youngest sister and her boyfriend Connor, the very conversational video game junkie, at Bob Evans.
Matt Thornton – the greatest thing to come to convenience stores everywhere, that they even had to erect a giant sign of him.
And a gas pump at Thornton’s.
My meal at Bob Evans.
Floor arrow. How exactly do you make free happen? Oh, rob the place. So the arrow message is promoting shoplifting?
Neon lighted sign. Soda as they say in any state except Michigan, home to the word “pop”.
Scenery on the highway.
The Coca-Cola truck.
Overexposed picture of a frog on the outdoor patio table at the place we are staying, the home of an elderly lady with two grandsons.
Hickory River Smokehouse, where we ate dinner tonight. I had a pulled pork sandwich and couldn’t finish it because I was so stuffed.
Not so fabulous menu at Hickory River Smokehouse, a not so fabulous restaurant but the whole family was together for the first time.
Sharkie! I met this odd looking stuffed toy today in Emily and Connor’s car. To say that we didn’t have the least amount of fun waving it out the window and hitting it against heads would be wrong.
Tomorrow, our stay in Springfield continues with our visit to the Abraham Lincoln national cemetery and museum. I will be interested to be visiting my very first gravesite of a former president or any significant figure in history for that matter. There really isn’t that much to Springfield besides Lincoln but having the whole family come together in one spot is what I will really take from this trip.
Pictured above is a low res shot of my closest family taken at a college hockey game in Wisconsin this year, owing to the fact that I used a webcam to take a picture of the original physical photograph, not having a scanner. As you can see, we are ordinary in a good way and sport very pale complexions, being of distant European descent with low pigment levels. Midwestern we all are, bred into a society of simple-minded people that value hard work and labor, manufacturing and agriculture. I’m wearing a very bad combination of blue plaid button down shirt and white plaid golf shorts, though I didn’t know it until seeing this picture for the first time. My oldest sister is beside me, mom is hiding in the back, there’s dad in fourth, and youngest sister on the far right.
I sometimes consider myself a nerd because of my fascination with seeking knowledge and knowing all the technical details of how things work and because I’ve never been very good at sports or other physical activity, though I have known myself to be an exceptional runner.
My lifestyle is pretty ordinary. I wear a t-shirt and jeans or shorts, enjoy snacking rather than eating big meals, speak only one language, and try to enjoy life by doing what hobbies I like the best, such as writing and picture-taking.
The only times I’ve ever dressed up are when I was going to interviews, a fancy restaurant, or to a special occasion such as a funeral or my high school dances. Most days, I just pick out a random shirt from my laundry basket or there is a voice telling me “ah, I believe it is a nice day to wear blue, don’t you think?” I only have one pair of blue jeans and replace them maybe once a year when I get the chance. My wardrobe is a mix of secondhand and store bought items.
I communicate through a time traveling mailbox. No, just kidding.
Communication has always been an anomaly for me. I’m not always comfortable talking in big groups but sometimes the moment presents itself and I am free as a kite, just saying whatever I have to say with no fear or hesitation, though I feel embarrassed afterward. It’s amazing that I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and could barely hold a conversation all the way through school and now I’ve come a long ways in terms of development, my quite similar uncle being the sole reason. We have great conversations all the time and I can relate to him in a way because we’ve both had difficulties getting where we want to go in life, someone or something always blocking our path, like a disability or the prejudice of society itself.
I like talking and sharing interesting stuff on social media such as Facebook and Twitter because it is a good form of self expression and I’m more comfortable talking anonymously than in person. Blogging is where I’m most effective at communicating though. I have a lot more room and freedom to have a voice and (hopefully) be heard. It’s more guaranteed that my pictures will be shared with the right people. I can get more praise and develop relationships better than on any other social media platform because I’m able to follow people with similar interests to me.
My hairstyle seems to go one way: circular and flat on top with a swoop to the left, and bangs that jut out just above my forehead. I’m constantly patting down my big head of hair which grows faster than a New York City skyline and is very hard to keep neat and combed. There have been many attempts at developing a new hairstyle: I tried a flattop, spiking it, slicking it back, going from a buzz cut to getting it a styled cut with scissors, to even dying my hair black, with it always going back to the same result. I usually know when it’s time to get a haircut when my bangs start getting into my eyes and becoming a hazard to myself and others (if I bump into them).
The eating portion of my life has never been that extravagant. Most nights in my household it is hotdogs, hamburgers, or some other quick fix meal. Ever since I was yeah small, my mom’s been throwing those Salisbury box dinners onto the table, along with lumpy mashed potatoes. I’ve become tired of that and have tried to develop a more creative approach to mealtime by cooking and eating things I’ve never tried, such as a soufflé. When I get the chance to cook, I have a passion and desire to make a meal that is not only delicious, filing, and presentable, but also healthy. But with limited space, money, and overall knowledge, I’m usually stuck with eating ordinary inexpensive things, which I don’t mind at all. Wendy’s is my favorite fast food place, followed by Burger King, Arby’s, and then McDonald’s. I’ll do just fine with an order of boxed pizza as well.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Style Icon.”