I'm back home from a trip to see an old friend and his wife (and family). Christmas is over, and I managed to survive it again this year. So, a few observations.
Shopping sucks. Too many people trying to get too many places, and far too much noise going on from too many directions. How does a person not feel anxious with all of that going on? The mall has to be the worst, because there's really nowhere quiet to hide. You can't find a part of a store where someone won't bounce up to you and ask if they can help you. ("Yes, you can help me. GTFO.") The most respite from the noise and people that I found was stepping outside-- and even then, there was a Salvation Army bell ringer. I discovered that he stopped ringing his bell if no one was near the door, so I went for a walk a few feet down the sidewalk.
Video games suck too. I was able to deal with Call of Duty-Black Ops being played all week; my combat experience wasn't ground pounding, so in general, first person shooters don't bother me too much. It was the kids games with the repeatingly repetitive noises and sounds that grated on my nerves. It seems that any game involving Mario requires a sequence of seven or eight notes that are played again and again, no matter what happens in the game. Drove. Me. Crazy.
It is a challenge to get ten or eleven family members, some of whom are kids, to get ready and get in the car and go anywhere. It's like trying to herd cats. Those who are married get on each others nerves, and so they're fighting, the kids want this or don't want that, the people who are in from out of town just have to suck it up. I made it a point to ride shotgun, which kept me from being crowded in to the back of a van and gave me a good view of the road ahead. I found that tracking where we were (my phone does GPS) brought a little bit of sanity to the situation. (Or, maybe it just gave me something to do to keep my mind occupied.)
The folks I was visiting had a cat, and the presence of a furry creature had me looking into a service dog, but I'm not certain it would be a good fit. I still manage to get to work and the grocery store, so I don't think of myself as being "disabled" in the same sense as recent combat vets might be. (The NY Times has a April 2010 article about service dogs if you're interested.) Would I love to have a constant furry footed companion? Of course. I'm a dog person. But, I live alone in an apartment where I'm not home all that much. So a cat may be an acceptable compromise.
Finally, I haven't looked at most of my final grades this semester. I'm not sure I'm ready to see them.