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2004-02-16 - 1:01 p.m.

Saturday dawned bright and new. I woke up to an empty house, or empty in a manner of speaking; just me and the four cats. My parents were gone, at a bird watching event that my dad bought tickets for as a Christmas gift. Later, they told me how they treked out to an area where 100s of bald eagles are currently enjoying mating season. My mom described it as two birds flying right at each other then raising up together, higher and higher, until they eventually split apart. There was a younger, immature eagle that they spotted, which flew around and watched the couples. My mom thinks it was to learn how to do it but maybe it was a peeping tom. Which I suppose is no different from all the bird watchers that day.

As a Valentine's Day gift, I cleaned the house. It took me a few hours. I read some and relaxed with the kitties. I had been hoping that my parents would come home before I left so I could show off the house, but I took off before they got home. Jay Ar had called a couple single people she knew to get together for a Valentine's singles party at her apartment. I didn't know the people very well, but I was excited to see Jay Ar and Christine again.

I was the first person there, and Jay Ar helped me carry up the liquor I brought over, remmanents of the Christmas party I'd had late December. Eventually Ahren, Brad M. who I'd not seen since high school, and some guy I think they called Butters showed up. The 5 of us went out to dinner at Applebee's. I've been to Applebee's all over this great nation and I always order the same thing so I can tell quality differences in the food immediately. At least the differences in the wraps they have. I give the Applebee's on lake street a 3 out of 10. It was a little less than mediocre.

Christine was back at the apartment when we got back, and I taught them how to play kings. One guy, the one that memory says his name is Butters, didn't understand the game at first and was taking shots of vodka for every time he had to drink. We stole the bottle of vodka from him. We all got pretty drunk. I was one of the first people to pass out, which was good because I got the couch. At first, I didn't really like these guys too much... one of them was so proud of his butterfly knife and would use any excuse to take it out, as though it was proof of having some kind of personality. Later on that evening I got into an interesting conversation about the Crusades with that same guy, which he is apparently studying in college and is hoping to get a grant to write a paper on it this summer.

My first impressions are almost always wrong. I've been learning to keep my mind more open about people for longer periods of time, and I'm glad I didn't write these guys off because I would have never had that conversation about the crusades. Or as good of a time.

I remember singing part of a Guster song but all I could remember was one line, so I sang "4 3 2 1" over and over. I remember feeling the need to tell Christine all about Cody and how I think they would be a good match. Which I do, but I don't know why I felt the need to tell her this in the middle of a game of Loaded Questions and then decide to take a nap on her bedroom floor. The next morning I said I had a good time before I left, and Jay Ar laughed and said, "We know, you kept saying how happy you were." Which is typical for me. I get so happy when I get drunk that I can't stop drinking because I keep getting happier, and I eventually pass out from sheer happiness. Alcohol a depressant? If everyone wasn't so damn sure about this I'd argue the fact until the day I died.

So, Valentine's day was good.

I also learned Christine's surgery is this Thursday, and she's going to be living with her parents while she's in a wheelchair. Her parents live not too far from me at all, I'd be surprised if it was more than a mile or so. I'm looking forward to this as a chance to rekindle our friendship, in the sense that anyone can look forward to a friend's major surgery (trying to look on the bright side). It was nice to have someone around to talk about comics in a serious manner for a change.

Sunday morning I was feeling dehydrated and hung over. I got home and talked with my parents for awhile, and then took a nap. I got up and ate a danish, and felt better. I read a book and an article in the newspaper that my mom showed me about the new Scrabble dictionary that's coming out. The exciting news: QI and ZA. These new Scrabble words will mean mega points later, not to mention it will be easier to get rid of the Q in a pinch.

That night, my parents made a steak and lobster dinner, with salad and rolls, and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. The lobster was delicious, and the strawberries were intensely flavorful. (I forgot to mention that on Friday my mom surprised us with LeeAnn Chin's chinese food and individual chocolate mousses in chocolate cups. Delicious!) My mom had gone out and bought us Valentine's day gifts with Mexico in mind; she got my dad some great new shirts, and a new pair of swim trunks. My brother she got the same, some new shirts and trunks, and she'll take the gifts out to him when they visit him in California at the end of this week. For me, my mom said that she couldn't find any cute spring clothes, so she got me some socks, a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, some new CD's, Godiva Hot Chocolate, many wonderful things. My dad got my mom some sick looking roses, which looked especially sick compared to the radiant tulips I had received earlier in the week from Jimmie. We had a good laugh about it.

A lot of people don't like Valentine's day. It's a silly excuse for trying to force romance into your life, not to mention the idea of it being appropriated by the Catholic church as a way to convert pagans. But I see it as a way to celebrate love of any sort, and an excuse to give presents. Any present that someone feels like they're being forced into giving is no present at all, but some people do need an excuse; spontaneous gifts are embarssing for some people, for whatever reason. I personally don't like gifts that I know are being given to me out of obligation; who would? But all the presents I got from my parents I know are out of love. How many parents give their kids presents for Valentine's? It's a nice way of showing you care, especially when you look back at the rest of the year and realize they already show you they care in 100s of other little ways. Why give presents then? You might say. I think it's because presents to show you care can mean so much. Like the Barnes & Noble gift certificate; you'd have to know me to understand why I love that present so much. Like the starfish I got from Jimmie. I love starfish. Like the Ninja Burger T-shirt I got Josh.

I also love to give gifts. I'd like to think that Josh thinks of me every time he puts on that shirt. I think of Jimmie every time I look on the dining room table and see those beautiful flowers. Years from now, I'll buy some flowers and put them in the vase he gave me, and think back to this Valentine's Day. Gifts are ways to stay connected and remember people.

People can look at presents however they want to. A crass means of overcommercializing even the most sacred, or an oppertunity to show someone how much you care. Either way you look at it, holidays aren't going away. My parents do their best to make the holidays special for those around them, and in doing so they become wonderful events. I'd rather get swept up in the happy sprit of the holiday that we make it into than sit and feel angry or irritable about it and get swept up in the negative sprit of the holiday.

Who's with me!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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