Since everyone else was posting thankful lists.

This year, I am thankful for so many things. I am eternally and always grateful for my family. Being with them the beginning of the week refreshed me and made me think in ways I really needed. I am thankful for my father who loves so simply, so easily, or at least it seems that way. He is never concerned about control; he loves with abandon. I love how he forgets that his glasses are on his head, how he cares too much for his plants, how he smiles when he talks about the dog, how his face twists when he's overcome by emotion and trying not to show it. I love that I can hear in his voice that he is proud of me, that he loves me as much as I look up to him and that he has no idea how we got so lucky in this world to create the closeness our family has.

I love that my Mom wants to hug me forever and never let go, that she worries, thinks with her heart and never believes that evil will overcome the good in people. I love her excitement over the first chill of the year, the way she talks to children at the library, the sound of her voice reading stories. I love that she tries to make up for all the wrongs for which I hold her accountable. I am thankful for her gentle spirit, her sensitive nature and her encouragement that seems boundless and endless.

My brother always makes me laugh, even if I don't know what he's laughing about. I love his enthusiasm for life, for his friends, his thirst for adventure and true, deep love. He has that yearning in him that I share, the drive to do great things. I love his belief in the greater good, his sense of morality. I am thankful that he is my brother, that I shared my childhood with him and that I continue to share my growing up. I love how we can pick up as if we've never been apart. I love his slow, southern drawl, deeper than my own. I can listen to his stories for days. He likes life less complicated and I admire his ability to simplify things. I love that I have someone in my life who just gets it. Who doesn't ask anything of me but myself.

I am thankful and humbled by Michelle. She has no idea how much I love her. She is, besides my brother, the most genuine person I know. She is who she is, because that's all she knows how to be. She isn't worried whether people like her or not. She lives for this day. Not yesterday or tomorrow. She believes in the moments of life and that it's all about what you do with them. She balances me in ways I can't even comprehend. I do not know who I would be without her. I am thankful that she knows when to push me, when to back off, when I need reassurance, when I need her touch. She loves completely without questions and with her entire soul. She teaches me how to come out of my head, to taste the rain and feel the wind and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that she loves me enough to put up with my bullshit, my insecurities, my absolute insanity over school. She believes in me and supports me and encourages me. With her, I feel like I can accomplish anything. Before she came along, I had convinced myself that I didn't love, that I didn't need to depend on someone that deeply because people always let you down, you always get hurt and I was avoiding being vulnerable at all costs. The first night I met her, I looked into her eyes and wanted to tell her every secret I'd ever held. I dreamed about her mouth, about kissing her. She scared the shit out of me because I knew what being with her, what asking her to be with me would entail. I am thankful she did not let me run away. I am thankful she is strong enough to handle me staying. Life with her is never boring or ordinary. Even when it looks that way from the outside. She is love, my love, my girl, sweetbaby, my partner, my friend.

Speaking of friends:
I am thankful for Midori, my rock star kitty, who embodies my personality traits in so many ways it's terrifying. She purrs in my ear and lays all over me and makes me believe I am capable of loving something that cannot talk back, that cannot speak of Kafke and Doystoyevsky though I'm sure she'd have some opinions on both. This bodes well for potential and hypothetical babies.
I am thankful for Brianne, who always makes Wednesday dinner for me, who shares her family and her tv shows as well as a little piece of her heart with me and Michelle. She is the best second girlfriend you can have.
I'm thankful for Janice, whose honesty is refreshing and a bit scary cus she really tells it like it is, who always makes me smile and who has been one of the greatest friends to my girl, especially in times of crisis. (Some of which I caused).
Amanda, whose view on the world is truly her own, who laughs easily and suddenly and is the foil for Michelle in many ways.
I am thankful for new friends like Oren, who doesn't groan when I ask the same question for the third time and whose gentle spirit makes me feel like home. I love laughing about something catty or connecting about something deep. He is the consummate friend and colleague and I have no doubt our friendship will only grow.
Marie, is another new friend, whose support is overwhelming. We're going to write a great article together one day.
I'm grateful for knowing Stefanie so I can say, I knew her when. She'll be running a department one day so maybe I can get me a job, knowing her. And I'm grateful that I've been able to get over myself enough to open up to her and accept her as the wonderful person she is.

I'm thankful for old friends like Maria and Omer, who prove time and again what love can overcome. Maria, who cuts through the bullshit and loves me no matter how fucked up I feel I've become or how far down I go.

I'm thankful for Joe who looks after my crazy cat when I'm gone and who puts up with me as a roommate, who understands some things from way back that I'm not sure I even get. His approach to life may be different from mine, but he's always willing to listen and share, which is important to me.

I'm thankful for Evan who thought I didn't like him when we first met and who has come to be one of those great friends whose always up for fun.

I'm thankful for the professors who have been so understanding of my learning process as I strive to achieve my academic goals. I am thankful I found people with which I can work toward my dissertation, professors who challenge me, who support me and help me to believe in myself and my work. These are people whose value cannot be measured. I'm thankful for teachers, all teachers, everywhere who love what they do more than they hate it.

I'm thankful for growing up in the South, for learning what hate can do to people and how love can overcome it. I'm thankful for fried everything and sweet tea and the breeze off the bay on the hottest July afternoon. I'm thankful for front porches and sunsets of my youth and the wide open fields, the grey snowy sky and gorgeous Illinois falls of my adulthood.

I'm thankful for this place, this very moment in my life.

P.S. I'm thankful for Pogo Online Games for keeping Michelle busy during this very long and emotional post.