january 4

so i haven't stopped moving much recently...


last exam mostly finished (project, actually) and a few hours later i fly off to miami with brother and dad to hang with that side of the family. we go down about every other year, and there are a couple of traditions... one is a big party of about a hundred relatives up in palm beach. it has usually been a lot of people telling you how tall you were the last time they saw you, but i'm starting remember faces and names, and it's good fun. we like to stay out on the periphery, where you can really talk to people or go out onto the tennis court and look at the night time ocean. we're kind of the outsiders of tghe family, the ones that moved to new jersey and stayed, but we're always accepted back in. we're family.

the other tradition is the pig roast at uncle johnny's. it starts early in the morning, while everyone is sleeping of the christmas eve revelry. he goes out and starts the coals in the outdoor barbaque, which is really just an open rectangle of cinderblacks, on top of which is a big pan that he had to have specially made, and on that the pig, which has been marinated in lemon juice and mustard and onions (along with whatever secret ingrediants). the ritual begins in early afternoon when the ribs are ready... usually you see one or two people head over to that part of the yard, and soon everyone is there. the older relatives get first grab, but everyone ends up with a rib or two, even the little kids who are told to dip it in the pools of salty lemony juices. then everything is carved up and people hover, picking off whatever picado they can. it's kind of a game, seeing how much you can steal, always being told that that's the last bit. it's a great time. sabroso.

really the best part about this year's visit was being able to follow the bilingual conversations that fly around. now that my brother and i both know a bit of spanish we realize how important it has been to us to understand what's going on and be able to toss in a bit of our own. it's so natural, it doesn't feel strange at all, because after a while you think in both languages, and when something doesn't come out in one it comes out in the other. and now we don't always feel like we're being talked about in some secret code ;)

i was always the least fanjul of the fanjuls... i have my mother's features, light hair, olivine eyes, california skin. when my brother was born three years after me, my father's mother said "ah, there is my little cuban baby." he is darker, even if he does have our squinty eyes. it has never been much of an issue for me tho... cubans come in so many flavors that i am nothing so far out of the ordinary. then my grandmother says that i am finally starting to look more like a fanjul, pointing to another lighter-skinned cousin, and it makes me realize that i always was a little outside that way. the older i get, the more important the family is to me... now i can speak a bit of spanish, i look forward to the food like water in a desert, and i think i'm starting to understand the family sense of humor and staunch mannerisms. we get in each other's faces, and we end up laughing. i have always had it in my blood i guess. granted, people take a second to believe me when i say that my father is cuban, and i am never considered latino, not that i really identify that way. i'm a white boy, raise by my mom, but my father swam in the caribbean when he was a nino. he taught me knots and hiking, and also plantain chips and medianoches and mojo sauce. i love both sides... i am two great things made into one (pardon the egotism... you get what i mean).

greg's party

... was an experiment in the incredible. imagine if you will a bunch of us mild-mannered college students, all gussied up in black and white and holding champagne glasses. what's funny is that we were still really ourselves... trying to swindle drinks away from the bar that was carding everyone, huddling away from the crowd in the livingroom, dancing like manaics when the band started actually playing good stuff. greg was funny... he had this white scarf that made him look very posh, and he was mingling and showing off denise... i didn't get to talk with her much, but she is great, and quite a match for greg... they're so cute together you'd never believe it was the same greg that would swill a bottle of jack and declare the night begun. the night was rather mellow... crepes and gin ricky's and then came the last hour, when we gathered in the ballroom and sang along to brown-eyed girl and some other trans-generational favorites, then we all screamed in the new year and danced like it was, well, 1999. everyone was smiling and laughing and having a great old time. real good spirits.

by 3am i was crashing next the the pool table in the basement where we were all camped out, passing around the scrounged wine bottles and eating left-over hors d'oeuvres.

"i am the weaver of fate. that's the way it is. pass the wine" - professor gregory hansell

at 11am we were rudely awakened by greg's father calling for strong young men... bleery eyed and rueing the day man invented the couch, we carried furniture from the basement catacombs up into the main house, all the while greg's dad chuckling to himself and keeping us moving. once everyone else ascended from the wonderful tomb-like darkness, we went and stormed the villanova diner. we'd tried the ihop, but we got there two late to seat sixteen of us, so we piled into four cars with greg leading the charge in his dad's black jaguar, and ran up a hundred dollar bill at the vd.
"can i have tea instead of coffee?" - cathy
"<smirk, shaking head in disapproval> i have no cathy." - josh
"you never had a cathy." - cathy

new hampshire

once back from the party sandy, my brother, and i all pile into my slightly ailing car and take off for sandy's sister's house along rt. 93 in new hampshire. first we drop off samira, who graciously tolerated our pumped ska all the way to connecticut, where here mother made us wonderful lasagna and lemon squares. we were soon in snow teritory, and getting out to pump gas was torturous from the cold and winds.

the next day we strapped mike onto a board for the first time, and on his first run he was already making turns, which is pretty darn impressive. then he caught a heel edge and got himself a concussion. he was out for about a second, and remembering my highschool trainer i didn't move him, and eventually he got a ride down on the first aid sled. he ended up ok but that was his last run for the trip. it seems that new jersey migrates to new hampshire in the winter... in the waiting room of the first aid station, every person but one was from nj... very disparate parts, but we could all agree that our state is the only one that calls the shore the shore, not the beach or the coast.

with on day left sandy and i went out and tore up the slopes, and we had new snow and completely flat light from a storm that was engulfing the entire coast, so no one was on the slopes and it was a great day. i'm really getting the hang of it, and i'm doing bit beautiful carves that just feel like you're flying... it's such an amazing feeling that when you close you eyes, before you dream, you feel yourself flying down the slope, and all you want is to be out going it again.

the fates had it in for us tho... on the way back i was going about 35 on a slushy highway and lost control, ending up in a huge ditch about a foot away from some very solid rock. lots of people stopped to help us, and while we waited for the police and the tow truck sandy broke out the snowboard and messed around in the ditch. we were all laughing, and it was a pretty funny scene, especially since the driver's side door was a few feet off the ground, and i had to hoist my aching rear up to it and into the warm interior. forty buck and some skillful winching later, we were back on the now cleared roads. we were warned by augery, i tell ya - an owl, the caller of death, flew over the car when we started out... should listened to it ;) that's the second time the gods have given us a sign, the first being the duck at the beginning of this past summer's drive west and the storms we drove into... my car seems to have some funky vibes. it's going in for a tune-up soon. gonna get those vibes re-strung.

12.20.98 | january | 01.07