This is my 40th Christmas, and like clockwork, every Christmas, I receive a card from my Aunt Virginia & Uncle Stan containing a crisp, new $20 bill. Every year since I was a little kid, I have been able to count on $20 in December from these wonderful folks. It's comforting to know that, no matter what the chaos in my life, there's this regular gift from Maryland every Christmas.

I received this year's card today, and like the previous 39 Christmases, I wasn't disappointed!

And I put it to good use: I did laundry. I've needed to do laundry since before Thanksgiving, and everything I own is starting to smell. I even washed my bedding.

And while the wash was going, I straightened up my room, and vacuumed.

Nothing like an infusion of familial love to get me up and going again! And nothing like the feel of clean sheets to inspire me to reduce the amount of entropy in my life.

Thanks, Virginia & Stan. I love you!
Called mom this afternoon after class. She had just had more dental surgery, so she was really groggy.

Told her that I would be graduating June 14th. Turns out my sister is getting married on that day to her fiancé, Joe, and mom has already committed to being there for her. It's not a huge deal, though -- it's Nettie's 2nd wedding, we all did the big family wedding the first time around, and they're just going before a Justice of the Peace -- so I'm not stressing about not getting to go.

Mom, however, is stressing, because she can't be in both places at once -- at Nettie's wedding and my graduation. Just bad luck that they'll both be on the same day. I wasn't expecting her to fly up her for the graduation anyway, so I told her to put away the sack cloth and ashes. Catholic Guilt not necessary. She laughed when I said that. She's really happy I'm FINALLY graduating, though.

Dale's in Alaska on TDY, his second assignment away from Japan this year (he was in Malaysia earlier in the year). I know Cindy's gotta be going nuts with those two little kids in Japan all alone (she hates it there). Dale had a layover for a couple of hours in Seattle this weekend on the way up to Alaska, and emailed me, asking if I could drive down to visit. I had to explain to him that I'm almost a 3-hour drive from SeaTac, depending on traffic -- there's no way I could do it with no advance notice. Poor guy, to be so close, and yet so far.

The BIG news, and the reason Nettie and Joe are getting married in a hurry: Nettie's getting sent to Iraq in early October. Merde. Dale also might be going to Iraq next year -- looks like both of my siblings could end up in Iraq soon. I am worried.

DAMNIT! End this fucking pointless occupation!!!
I just got off the phone with my maternal aunt, Virginia, who I call every year on December first to wish her a happy birthday. I adore Virginia. She and I have very similar attitudes about politics and culture, which means we get along well.

I was telling her about my observation that I appeared to be the 3rd generation of the Wright family of Knoxville, Tennessee, with severe mental illness problems. And she told me something new and astounding: Her grandfather, 'Buddy' (Thomas Jefferson Wright I, my great-grandfather) had a "nervous breakdown" when he was younger, though he eventually recovered. (They attributed the breakdown to "working too hard.")

I had NO idea, but that means there are now FOUR confirmed generations of this mental instability in the family. Buddy's daughter Evelyn was institutionalized for uncontrollable violent episodes. Everyone described her as "mean." She was probably an undiagnosed schizophrenic, and later died in the psychiatric institution of pneumonia. Until today, hers was the earliest mental illness problems in the family I knew about.

Her brother (Thomas Jefferson Wright II, my grandfather) possibly committed suicide, though no one knows for sure, because of the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance and death.

His daughter (Cecilia Wright Bell, my mother's sister) is schizophrenic, and has been institutionalized for years.

And now I am the 4th generation to have severe mental health problems -- I've dodged the schizophrenia bullet, but the major depression episodes have been grinding me down for a quarter of a century now. *sigh* At least I came by it honestly.

Wow. I wonder how much farther back this goes? No one knows much about Buddy Wright's family, so what madness might have come before him is lost in the mists of time.

I need to tell my brother Dale about this, because that means his children are 5th generation, and he needs to watch his kids carefully for signs of this "darkness of the soul," which seems to have come down the Wright line.

Neither I, nor my sister, nor three of my four cousins have ever had children, so right now, Dale's the only one where, if this is indeed genetic, it could possibly have been passed down.

I just wish I knew how to contact my cousin, Rose Bell (her birth name), who Cissy gave up for adoption at birth. I think she should know about this. But we don't know what her adoptive name is, or where she is, or if she has children. She's never attempted to contact her birth mother, as far as we can tell.
I spoke with my little sister, Nettie, on the phone tonight. Her unit is being sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, tomorrow to help with the rescue efforts in New Orleans. (She is an army medic/EMT, based at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky). She'll be EVACing people out of New Orleans by helicopter.

She only told Mom that her unit is being sent to Mississippi to help with the Gulf Coast disaster relief efforts. She hasn't told Mom that she'll be flying missions into New Orleans, because she doesn't want Mom to worry overly much.

I just have to say, I so immensely proud of my little sister.

Go Go Nettie to the Rescue!


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