There are ads for cholesterol-lowering medications that say something like "there are two sources of cholesterol: family and food." In my case, the two usually go together. It has been a while since I was in a house overstuffed with people eating massive quantities of leftovers from disposable plates. Conversations in a mix of three different languages (only one of which I really understand) are flying around, and multiple cousins are coaching Ian on how to say "thank you" in Mandarin (谢谢). The kids are coming down the stairs in their pajamas, we had leftover wedding cake (lemon-flavored - no chocolate left, alas) and... yeah. I miss this too.
For lunch, 6-ee (my aunt June, the 6th sister of my mom) and I went out to Goldilocks and had kare-kare, dinuguan, and halo-halo. Next door was a Filipino grocery, where I picked up little bags of atsuete (for use in huana miki) and spice mixes for some of my favorite dishes - sinigang (sa sampalok - way better than guava for this, in my opinion), kaldereta, more kare-kare, palabok. You can't find this stuff in Boston, and I'm guessing it'll be similarly impossible to find in Raleigh, so now I have my little bag o' comfort food (I can make lugaw anytime, though century eggs are hard to get).
I played with the mandolin for a while - I've learned a reasonable number of chords now and can pick my way through "Take Five" and "Lullaby of Birdland" (yes, I like jazz) and in general feel reasonably comfortable on the fingerboard although I haven't yet learned which notes go with what spots on the fingerboard.
My family is also pretty much the only place where I'm actually surrounded by women. I went to a magnet math and science school, studied engineering, work in the software industry... pretty much all my best friends are guys, and I've picked up a lot of habits from them. "You know," my female relatives will constantly remind me, "you are a girl." And yet I'm always surprised when I realize how much stuff other women bring with them when they travel - face wipes and makeup and three different kinds of soap and lotion and a jar of "dry scalp treatment" goop - I... bring toothpaste.
Or how much effort goes into outfit selection, which I am still not quite trusted to do despite being ordered to have my aunt Lynne May and my cousin Melanie select my wedding outfit - which they did - my mother brought a backup dress and backup shoes for me, and my aunt June brought two backup shirts. ("I'm not that bad, am I?" I moaned, to which they gave me The Look.) Turns out I had to use a backup shirt anyhow, since the original shirt selection was white, which is a color of mourning in Chinese culture, and... eh. Well. I wore pants, so it's all good.
Anyway, it's a rare thing for me to be in a world of women, but that's another thing I get when I'm with family. So late in the afternoon today, the other younger women in the house went out walking and invited me to come with - Tintin (Elinor/Nono's youngest sister, who is 24 in October) was the youngest, then me, then Tintin's two older sisters (Elaine and Lilliam) and her sister-in-law (JoAnn, Willison's wife). We strolled down to Huntingon Beach; Elaine and I were the only two who made it all the way out to the end of the pier (the others got tired/cold and dropped out along the way to sit in the middle of the shopping plaza waiting for Willison to pick them up).
The sun was setting as we walked out on the pier, and the day was warm, and the waves were in fine shape. They were huge beasts, cresting as they swept past us under the pier, crashing on the beach. The sky went all orange behind the palm trees, and the sea was gray and foamy, and it's just... I could have stood there for a while just watching that, leaning against the strong wind as it swept by. Elaine's lived here for five years and never walked out to the pier, let alone to the end of the pier. ("Well then, it's about time you did!" I replied when she told me that.)
It was a good stroll, and I appreciate long solo walks during times when nobody else is really out (same reason I like driving in the middle of the night). They're good for thinking. The pier opens at 5am, and the sunrise (according to the internet) is at 5:45am tomorrow, which is 8:45am Boston time. I have mobile broadband, so... this might work out well.
It's past 2am in my time zone, and I'm definitely feeling it. I ought to go to bed - I finished scanning my receipts for expense reports, and have a few wiki edits to make before I pass out, but... yeah. Mm. So I'm doing that, then going upstairs and sleeping on the floor in front of the house's computer desk (go figure). On a plane again tomorrow night - red-eye from 9pm California time to 8am Massachusetts time. Hurrah!
I really am happiest in motion. Or maybe it's that I don't know what will happen if I stop - but this life seems pretty dang good to me so far.