a girl and her boy

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A Rose by Any Other Name: A Post on Books, Knitting, 2010 Adventures, Rumination on Names, and Hopes for 2011.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve intentionally held off from posting because of how worked up I was about some specific parts of the holidays. And now that those are over, and I’ve had some time to reflect, I’m ready to write again.

You might want to take a potty break now. Fill your water glass, or grab a mug of tea or coffee. It’s a long one.

Books! Books! Books!

This season has been the season of books. I’ve added so many to my collection that I can’t even begin to name them all, but I do want to share a very special and memorable haul. Gabe and I visited my maternal extended family in Maine (more on that a little later in the post) and on our way home, we stopped in Freeport. What is a visit to Maine without a visit to L. L. Bean? Before we made it to Bean, we approached a rare, out of print, used book store I’ve passed many times without actually stopping in. So, we stopped!

The porch of this home-converted-to-bookshop was stacked floor-to-roof with books. Upon closer inspection, I found that those were all a dollar! I was stunned to see some of what was there. When I asked the book seller upon entering about the selection on the porch, he simply said that it helps promote turn over. I could see why turn over was important for him:  the store was brimming full of books. First editions. Rare books. Used. History. Literature. Art. It was all there. And I was in heaven. I think Gabe and I spent a good two hours browsing. I wanted so many of the volumes there (especially the first edition rare copy of Arabian Nights!) but I kept my pile modest at thirteen books, and all for the low price of $27. I couldn’t believe it.

I’ve also picked up some more advance copies of books from Library Thing to review:

I’ll post reviews here as well as on Library Thing, Amazon, and a few other places when done. I’ll provide links.

So that’s my acquisition history of late. I’ve also been working my way through the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Savage Beauty, and I’ve been loving it. She’s such a striking figure and I am thrilled to get to know her better through this book. I’ve also been working on reading Stress Less by Thea Singer. I’m hoping to finish off a bunch of these projects over my nice long relaxing weekend pet sitting on the beautiful Marblehead coast this weekend.

Speaking of Projects, On to Knitting!

Since last post, I’ve finished Through the Woods (the green hood), the scarf for Gabe’s mom (and of course I didn’t get pictures!), started the Scott Pilgrim hat for Robert, and cast on and finished off an infinity scarf for my friend Alison in Marblehead (kitty sitting here we come!) as well as a pair of fingerless mitts.

Moosey was more than happy to pose for me once again. He's modeling the Through the Woods hood.

Infinity Scarf for Alison. I love that texture!

Fingerless Mitts for the Win!

The beginnings of the Scott Pilgrim hat for Robert.

And here's a sock teaser for good measure.

2010 in Review.

In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve been up to, musing on, or stressing over in 2010:

  • I haven’t been working regularly at all since mid-summer from health related stuff. This has been a serious irritation for me. I want to be working! Argh.
  • The teaching market is all messed up from the economy. So many teachers are out of work right now and are fighting their way back in. I’ve been working on retooling my skill set and resume to move into editing/publishing, freelance writing, and anything else remotely interesting and related to my skills, as well as teaching. I have a few good, really good, network connections that should bear fruit soon. Details on that when there’s something solid.
  • I’ve been working on book reviews, short stories, and my novel pretty steadily.
  • I’ve knit a lot of fun things.
  • Health related stuff has not been much fun. Since March, I’ve been to the ER twice and had a CT scan, xrays, and an ultrasound. I’ve had a colonoscopy (August) and just yesterday an upper endoscopy as well as more blood work. No answers yet. I’m still sick all the time. And so is my sister, Amanda. She’s been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and I suspect that’s what’s going on for me.
  • With this suspicion and no answers, and lots of testing out of the way, Gabe and I are doing a month-long self-test where we will both eat gluten-free. It’s part of our new year’s changes. I’ll let you know how things go.
  • I’ve been breaking some ground in therapy and I’ve come to some new realizations and healed some. I’ve also uncovered a lot of new pain and anger that I need to work through. Recovery from multiple types of abuse as a child is a lifelong process.

That’s the nutshell version of 2010’s adventures.

And to the heart of what I want to say today.

As I mentioned before, the holidays are especially stressful for me, and heck, most people. I’ve avoided going to family parties, specifically my maternal extended family gatherings, since high school graduation because of the confusion, hurt, and anger I have towards my parents for their abuses and neglect. The last two years, two of my aunts have been opening the door up for me to talk with them about some of my experiences. They were aware of some of what I experienced, but not all by any means. Since I’ve had some of these conversations, and from their own experiences with my parents, they made sure that this year’s holiday party would be safe for me to attend. I am so very grateful for this. I was able to reconnect with my cousins, aunts and uncles, and more importantly, my grandparents. I saw my grandfather for the first time since I was a very young child this month. He suffers from memory problems and I had to reintroduce myself to him every time we spoke. (“Hi, I’m your grand-daughter. Would you like some coffee?”) But it was special.

Gabe, me, Grampa Ricci, and Nonnie at the family holiday gathering.

One of the most heart-wrenching parts of the family gathering, and one I’m still processing, is that my grandmother, Nonnie, cried when she spoke with me. She’s missed me. And she alluded to knowing what’s happened within my nuclear family and her shame and regret for not stepping in to stop it. Non, you did what you could to be sure I had some good memories. Thank you for that. There’s only so much people outside the nuclear family can do when these things happen.

Since all this, my brother has moved to Pennsylvania, a 10 hour drive, give or take some, from Boston. My sisters are plugging away in school and doing well. And I’m plodding along here in Boston.

While in Maine, I was able to see my sisters. I’ve seen Amanda a few times since moving to Boston (she’s come to visit) but I haven’t seen Bekah in a few years. We laughed. We teased. We cried. But mostly laughed. It was so good to see them. I’ve missed them so much.

After seeing them, sharing with them, and connecting with my family, I’ve realized it’s time for a really big decision and change. I’ve decided it’s time to reclaim my family name of Sirois.

I’ve hated being a Sirois. I’ve hated being connected with my parents through it. I’ve hated the reminder of all the hurt and pain and confusion associated with it. And I’ve wanted nothing but to get rid of the name since I was 12. I finally assumed another name in 2008 through marriage, but have wondered what to do about a last name since the divorce.

I don’t think most people spend as much time ruminating on the meaning of a name as I do. I’ve spent countless hours pondering the meaning of a name, cultural rituals and customs around naming, and what it means to me to have certain names. Sister. Cousin. Daughter. Niece. Granddaughter. Coach. Teacher. Friend. Jennifer. Lynn. — ?

After visiting my siblings and extended family, sans parents, I got some perspective, healed some, and realized just how much my siblings need me — in name and in presence. So, I decided it’s time to suck it up and take the power back from our rotten parents and make my siblings proud of being a Sirois (sir-roy) by kicking butt and taking names in this world.

And so, I’m taking the name of Sirois back. I’ll clean it off, polish it up, and make it my own. Maybe I’ll hyphenate in the future (Sirois-Ciociola — yikes!) but I figure I’ll stand solid with my siblings as a Sirois whatever the future brings.

Speaking of the Future. Hopes and Goals for 2011.

This next year, I set out to accomplish and hope to bring about the following:

  • To regain health. I hope to figure out what’s been making me sick these last 12-14 months and seek appropriate remedies or treatments for it. While working on that, I will continue to ratchet up my healthy eating plan and healthy movement plan.
  • To finish my third novel and send it to editors/publishers.
  • To regain employment:  editing/publishing, writing, teaching, or other related.
  • To continue the path of emotional healing.
  • To love and support everyone who has earned a place in my life as fully as I can.

** ** **

CODA:  Should this post end up in the view of my parents, I would like them (henceforward referred to as “you”) to know something:  It’s not about YOU any more. Your time is done. It’s about ME, RYAN, AMANDA, and REBEKAH.  It’s about our path to healing, and that includes truth-telling. The truth WILL come forward. I am not afraid to speak our truth anymore.


8 responses to “A Rose by Any Other Name: A Post on Books, Knitting, 2010 Adventures, Rumination on Names, and Hopes for 2011.

  1. habitsofamouse December 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I’m so very happy for you! It seems as though not having to work has given you the chance to really muddle through some murk and mire that needed muddling through, both in your health and your familial life. You go, girl!

    • Jen December 29, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you! This post has been choking me for a month or more and I finally got it out, specifically the family part. I’ve written on the family history topic before on my other blog with a lot of backlash. I’m hoping against hope that I don’t get it this time, too.

  2. Michelle Glauser December 30, 2010 at 1:40 am

    I feel kind of like I just read one of my own entries, that’s how much I related to your post. The only problem is, I think you’re a lot further in the healing part. My blog has become so impersonal because I can’t open up about my experiences this last eyar. I’ve also been sick, sick, sick, and nothing seems to be helping. I guess I’ve kind of given up, though if I were to make resolutions, they would be word for word the ones you have. Except for the last one. I don’t know anymore if there are true people who have won places in my life. I suppose I’ve lost a lot of trust in humanity.

    Oh, by the way, are you on goodreads? Because I would love to see your book list (maybe we’ve already established this and I’m just being forgetful). And all your knitting projects look so great, I am jealous.

    Happy New Year.

    • Jen December 30, 2010 at 10:42 am

      Michelle, I completely understand. I had been there for a while, too, with both impersonal posting and being completely frustrated by medical problems and people. I still am. I just woke up yesterday morning and realized it was time to speak up and say what I had to say. You will, too, when you are ready.

      As far as Good Reads, I made an account there a while back but it was for my classroom. I need to get on there and create a personal account. I’ll email you when I have made a new one. Are you on Book Glutton? That’s another super fun one! =)

  3. Amy Lawson December 30, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Love you!
    That’s all…

  4. maurabela December 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Hugs to you Jen and good luck with the GF month. I think you’ll feel a difference — I definitely have!

    • Jen December 30, 2010 at 11:33 am

      Thank you, Stacy!

      I am more than positive that this is the change my body needs. I wasn’t able to act on it until now, though, due to all the testing. I had to keep my diet exactly the same for the results to be right. And even so, I think the GI doc who did the upper endoscopy goofed. From all my reading, you *have* to do a biopsy, the doc shouldn’t go on visual alone, and he didn’t take one. I’m seeing my PCP on Tuesday and will be asking to go to see a different doctor at at a different hospital, Beth Israel; they have a Celiac department there and a specialized program for people with stomach/GI problems who have histories of abuse, too.

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