Tuesday, May 27, 2008
99% of the time, I really don't have a strong enough opinion to find myself at odds with my compadres. I'll eat anything, see any movie, shop anywhere, travel to any destination, listen to any radio station. And I'll even manage to enjoy myself while doing it. This is no sacrifice - it is simply not important enough to argue about this stuff.
There are times when I will sacrifice my feelings to honor another's. For example, I feel dreadful in a swimsuit. I hate the way I look and am pretty much convinced that everyone who lays eyes on me in that attire will run away, screaming something about their eyes. However, my girls are part fish, so several times each summer I don the cursed lycra and sit patiently poolside and pretend that I don't care how I look. In those moments they are more important than I, and it makes me happy to make them happy.
The problem with being so damn agreeable all of the time is that in those rare moments that you aren't, others react as if you have lost your ever-lovin' mind. Every once in a great while I have a need that is significant enough that I speak it out loud. When I do, it always seems to find itself at odds with someone else's need. And if it was important enough for me to speak it in the first place, it is important enough for me to stand up for it, defend it, insist that it be met.
Conflicts arise. Arguments ensue. Feelings get hurt. I end up apologizing, restoring the homeostasis, returning things to normal. Sadly, I'm not sure I've learned a darn thing from these experiences. But I remain hopeful.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
11 years of marriage to a man who wanted me to change everything about the way I looked
9 months of playing punching bag to an ex-marine
1 lousy self-image
For three months after escaping the terror of The Monster, I dated an honest-to-God hottie. I met him in an unconventional way. I had just finished a training ride and headed over to the local Wal-Mart to pick up a few personal items. I decided to peruse the book section, although I had no money and didn't plan to buy anything. I had on holey jeans, a faded t-shirt, glasses, no makeup, and had a bad case of helmet hair. I was not putting my best self forward.
I noticed him out of the corner of my eye - tall, slender, clean cut, young, and flashing those crystal blue eyes that always slay me. I was embarrassed that I was so sloppy, but there was nothing to be done about it but exit the area quickly. Too late - he was coming right toward me.
He looked me right in the eye, smiled ever so slightly, and softly pardoned himself as he sidled by. I don't think I babbled, but I'm pretty sure I swooned. He looked like he could have just walked right off a television set. He was out of my league.
I checked my items, navigated the parking lot, and backed out of my space. I looked in the rear view mirror in time to see those blue eyes gazing at me over the steering wheel of the vehicle behind me. I considered myself lucky to get one more eyeful of this young man.
It didn't take me long to realize that his car was traveling precisely in the same direction as mine. I took a few random turns to test him, and lo and behold he was following me. It was broad daylight, and I am as curious as a cat, so I pulled into an empty parking lot and waited.
He sauntered up to the driver's door while I lowered my window a few inches. I asked if I could help him. He asked for my phone number. I'm not a complete fool, so I suggested he give me his instead. He complied, asked me to call sometime, and drove off.
I held on the number for a few days, not really intending to call. I just wanted to have it. Sort of a burden of proof that I was desirable, to one so desirable himself, even if only for a few moments. I surprised myself when I dialed the number. He surprised me even more by actually being the one to answer the call.
We embarked on a whirlwind romance of the most insensible kind. We behaved badly, you might say. It was sheer animal magnetism, nothing of any substance. We had nothing in common. He was the wrong kind of guy - too young, too immature, too unstable, too poor. And.. I was having the time of my life. Never before had anyone stopped me in front of mirrored tiles in a mall to say to my reflection, "Do you know who that is? That is one beautiful woman, that's who. And she is with me!"
I know, I know. This wasn't a real relationship. Not the kind that smart, self-sufficient, honorable women embrace. Yet it was exactly what I needed at that time. It didn't last. I didn't expect it to. It was sad when we parted. I'll never forget him. And I'll never underestimate the value of the rebound boyfriend. I only wish I had thought to thank him.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Oh... uh... me, either.
Okay, CAN'T WAIT to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I'm all a-tingle just thinking about getting to see a shirtless Harrison Ford again. Oh, yeah, and all that action and special effects and stuff, too. Yeah, of course.
And... CAN'T WAIT to see the new Get Smart movie. I loved, loved, loved that show when I was young. It was virtually impossible to wallow in my teenage angst when watching Maxwell Smart talk into his shoe.
Hey, go over to Amanda's blog, This Is How It Goes, and read about her cruise. And check out how hot she looks in her Little Black Dress. Easy, boys. Gotta get me a dress like that.
After that, go to Looky, Daddy! and read his "Flick" post. And then get on your knees and genuflect and beg forgiveness for taking pleasure in another man's pain. I'll meet you at the altar.
Speaking of another man's pain, get BB to tell you about jalapenos and milk sometime...
I finally sent off all of the paperwork to apply for my temporary counseling license. Man, they must really need you to be absolutely sure you want to go through with this, because they make you jump through a lot of hoops to apply for these licenses. And pay a lot of fees.
Our air conditioning went out at the end of last summer. We toughed it out for the remaining weeks knowing that eventually we would get a break from the heat. And, we just didn't have the money. So we have scrimped and saved and paid off bills, and the repairman is coming tomorrow morning to put it a new unit, to the tune of $1700.
It will be worth it to sleep in a cool house again. I'm one of those weirdos that can't sleep without some type of cover, and I can't stand to have anything blowing across my body while I'm trying to sleep, so you can imagine how little rest I've gotten these last two weeks.
I'm conducting a stress management workshop at my boss' church in a few weeks. Quit laughing. I can say this with all honesty - it will be like no other stress management workshop anyone has ever attended. Including me.
My office is on the second floor, and I have plenty of windows that offer a lovely view of the parking lot. I also have a nesting pair of pidgeons on the ledge. The babies (what do you call baby pidgeons - pidglets?) are getting pretty sizable and nearly have all their feathers. Which is good, 'cuz naked baby birds are not attractive. They don't mind me checking on them one bit.
Hey, one of my favorite songs is on the radio - Rock Me, Amedeus!
My brain is on fire, so expect some rapid posting in the next few days.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I am Texas.
I am larger than life, and I am shamelessly proud. I believe I am chosen by God and that He put me here for a purpose. And I can be humble when that is what it takes to reach you.
I will welcome you with open arms and happily give all I have to offer. And when I believe you are good and settled in, I will no longer wait on you. I will encourage you to make yourself at home and help yourself.
I will proudly show off all of my attributes and graciously accept your compliments, for I know that they are hard-earned and well-deserved. And if you decide that you no longer appreciate me, I will sweetly show you the back door and the highway that will take you back to wherever you will be happy. For I sincerely believe that no one should remain where they are not happy.
I am vastly diverse. I have hills to raise you up and valleys to draw you closer to me. I have changing tides and flowing waters to take away your pain. I have close forest glades to embrace you and spaces so wide you can see forever. I am language and color and movement and sound and taste and beauty and touch and aroma. To love me is to accept me in my entirety, for to separate any of these from the others would mean the end of me.
I am ever changing. Most days I am warm and sunny, beaming at you until you return my smile. And without warning I may be a fierce storm, speaking my mind and clearing away all that distresses me. I will test you with fire and still you with numbing cold. I can be windy if I believe I am not being heard. When you grieve I will whisper softly in your ear. And if life knocks you down and drags you down the road, I will cleanse you with a gentle rain.
I will drench you in brilliant color at the kiss of dusk so that you will have beautiful dreams. And I will light your way through the darkness with a million stars. My devotion, like my sky, never ends.
I am Texas.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Early Saturday morning I awoke with a killer headache, and Mikel worked some overtime, so I medicated and caught a few more zzzz's. The Little One and I went to Mommy/Daughter dance rehearsal* and had a really fun time.
(*These dance rehearsals are for recital numbers that Dads and Moms can participate in with a daughter.)
Took in a Fort Worth Cats game Saturday evening. The weather was great, the crowd was enthusiastic, and the score keeper was busy. The Cats won, but the Canaries gave 'em a run for their money. We ate burgers and ice cream and had a grand time. The Not-So-Little One was in charge of reminding me not to yell because I had a singing engagement the next day. She was diligent.
I sang in both services at church and, if I do say so myself, it was quite satisfactory. Everything I built into the song - dynamics, color, texture, emotion, placement - happened as planned. I hope the congregations benefitted as much as I did.
After church I was treated to a fine meal at Outback. It was crowded! I dined sufficiently, which is much nicer than saying, "I got full as a tick."
After a little more napping, we all plopped down in the living room with popcorn and sodas and the 2003 remake of Music Man with Matthew Broderick. The girls were reluctant, but I told them no self-respecting dancer can go through life without seeing a few musicals. Besides, it was my day, and I love me some musicals.
Speaking of dancing - the girls are going to be quite busy next year. They have both been invited to dance with the Junior Competing Company next year. In order to participate in the company, they will take a summer class, participate in three workshops, and compete in three contests. They will take ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical. And they have also been invited to enroll in a pre-pointe class.
Only dancers who have proven a level of competence in ballet are considered to dance en pointe. Most girls don't stick with ballet long enough to earn this consideration, and it is no small recognition. We are all thrilled. I will cry like a baby the first time I see them en pointe.
What all this means is that I will have to keep the second job to pay for the classes and the eight costumes each of them will need. But it is worth every cent to know that they are happy, poised, focused, skilled, confident, and purposefully occupied.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
My first experience away from my mother was when I started first grade. It was pretty terrifying, but I was ready. By some weird coincidence, I happened to be the only non-blonde girl in the classroom. I looked around in startled amazement at all of these pale little dolls and wondered if the world looked the same through their blue eyes as it did through my brown ones.
I announced at the end of the week that I wanted my mother to take me somewhere to have me changed. She had no idea what I was talking about, so I explained that I wanted to have yellow hair and blue eyes so I could be pretty like the rest of the girls in my class. She informed me that was not possible and suggested that I try to make friends with some of these girls.
After my father retired from the military, we started to visit some of his family. My earliest memory of my grandmother was hearing her remark to my father that we children looked too much like my mother. She turned to him and asked why he hated her so much. "Why did you have to go and marry a Jap?" I had never heard this word, but the look on my mother's face told me everything I needed to know. We were not accepted.
This was my introduction to racism. The lessons continue to this day. I remember how much it hurt my mother when I asked her not to walk me to school anymore because the other kids called her names when she walked away. I learned about pecking order - White kids picked on Black kids who picked on Latino kids who picked on Asian kids. But the Asian kids knew martial arts.
I decided to act as White as possible. I emulated like crazy and never mentioned my heritage. I learned to keep my mouth shut in church during the "the Bible says we should marry within our own race" lectures. I ate only American food and never learned to speak Japanese. I was only interested in White boys. Tall blondes with blue eyes were my weakness, which made my father very happy.
Sadly, it never seemed to be enough. My father's family never accepted me. Neither did my husbands' families. My first husband encouraged me to wear blue contacts and bleach my hair. When I've made the "mistake" of trusting enough to tell people that I am half Asian, I am often sorry I did. Employers, classmates, teachers, church members have all proven capable of saying the most asinine things. I smile and tell myself that they can't help being stupid. I try to understand what they really intend.
I thought I was getting a grip on this, but I realized that one of my daughters is being viewed through the same filters I was. She does not get the same attention, from family members and strangers alike, that her younger light-haired, light-skinned, blue-eyed sister gets. She asks me why people like the Little One better. And I cry a little inside every time I tell her, "I don't know."
Thursday, May 8, 2008
The dealership offered an insulting 18.9% interest rate for 5 years. We walked out and went directly to our credit union. They offered 5.9% for 4 years. Sold.
I did take a little time for myself yesterday and visit the salon. Stacey once again worked her magic on this mess also known as my hair. She is an artist. A very patient artist.
Stacey takes her job seriously, and as my stylist she found it necessary to point out the greys that have crept into my mane. I am resisting the urge to color, and I told her just that. We both agreed that at my age I have earned a few greys.
I noticed as I sat in the chair that the three blonde women that flanked me were all there to have their roots touched up. They all looked the same - same hair color, same hair style, same fashion sense, same facial features. It was eery. I was proud to be different for once.
BB has been out of the office, as well. Which means the phone calls hit my desk. Rats. Guess it would be wrong to forward them all to his voice mail....
My little church choir reached an important milestone last night at rehearsal. The 6 that were there rang in an overtone on the last chord of an anthem. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were bewildered by my excitement. I tried to explain to them what it means. I tried to tell them that by singing their four notes in exactly the same placement, with exact intonation, and with exactly the same vowel, they were able to produce an extra note - one that they were not singing - by virtue of good vocal production. I went on to say that when that happens they suddenly sound bigger than 6 people. They still seemed unimpressed. Sigh...........
Oh, well. I certainly understand what it means. It means that they are finally taking me seriously. That I am fulfilling my purpose. That I am doing precisely what I was sent to do for these singers. That although all directors dream of conducting huge choirs, little choirs can dream big and perform big. And... that I really do know what I'm doing.
At'll do, pig. At'll do.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
We stayed at the Oblate Renewal Center, which I understand to be a place of spiritual renewal and reflection. The rooms, therefore, are quite bare. No television, no telephone, and certainly no internet. It was quiet, that is for sure!
There have been some changes in the counseling department at my agency, and tonight I said goodbye to some good friends. Change is inevitable, but it still hurts. It just does. One of the changes means I will have to find a new LPC supervisor as I complete my internship. Drat.
Speaking of change, BB is graduating! We are all proud of him. And.... I am in denial about the very real fact that he will eventually be leaving my department and pursuing his dream. Happy, happy, happy for him. Sad for me. He will be difficult to replace.
I'm learning a new song. The lyrics are simple, but they seem to fit:
You can spend your whole life buildin' something from nothin'
When a storm can come and blow it all away
Built it anyway
You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway
God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway
This world's gone crazy and it's hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart, for all the right reasons
In a moment they can choose to walk away
Love 'em anyway
God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
Yes, I do it anyway
You can pour your soul out singin' a song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Sing it anyway
I suppose for a parent there is no "easy" season, but Spring seems really hectic this time around. As the school year comes to a close, my calendar continues to fill up. TAKS tests, recitals, pictures, extra rehearsals, field trips, band try outs, choir concerts, talent shows. It is a lot to keep up with. I have the nagging feeling that I am forgetting something important.
I went to mother/daughter dance rehearsal (something that we do with our daughters in the recital each year) on Saturday. I love to dance. I desperately wanted to dance as a child, but the money wasn't there. I would walk to the studio with my friends after school and watch them through the two-way mirror. And I would emulate them from the lobby. I'm enjoying the opportunity to finally put these skills to good use.
Speaking of TAKS - the Not-So-Little One said that her teachers informed her that if she is commended on all three TAKS tests, they may recommend that she skip the 6th grade and advance to the 7th grade. (She was commended on the first two and awaits the final score.) Now, I haven't heard this from the horses' mouths, and I am a natural-born skeptic.
However, if it is true, we face something of a conundrum. I must admit I am ambivalent about this prospect. Okay, so she is academically advanced. Way cool! What parent wouldn't love to say that about their child? But she will be leaving some friends behind, and she is not the most outgoing kid in the world. And I'm not altogether sure she is emotionally ready to hang with 7th and 8th graders. 8th grade girls, in my opinion, are the devil.
I'm pretty convinced that all the book learnin' in the world isn't worth a hill of beans if a person doesn't know how to get along with those around her. I would love to hear what you think, reader.