It Must Be Genetic

My nine-year-old daughter is a packrat.  She saves everything from old shoe boxes to school papers from first grade to the tags that we take off her new clothes.  Every nook and cranny of her bedroom is filled with stuff that she’s buried away like a squirrel in the fall.  I’ve wondered for a long time why she is like that.  After all, I am probably the complete opposite of a packrat…throwing stuff away if I can’t find a good place to keep it.  But today, I found a clue to her behavior.

I was lying on the bed, chatting with my husband about our plans for the day as he cleaned off his closet shelf and cleaned out his top dresser drawer.  As I watched the items that he pulled out and sorted, I came to the realization that packrat-ness runs in the family.  And the more he pulled out, the more I laughed.

From his closet shelf, Sarge took a bayonette for an AK-47, a large roll of glow-in-the-dark tape, and a gun-cleaning kit.  He found an 18-year-old Army cap for his dress greens, a couple of military medals, a pair of red suspenders, and some ear protection for when he practices shooting.  He also pulled out a magnetic tool picker-upper-thingie and, strangely enough, an antique clay thrower. 

Then he moved on to his top dresser drawer.  It has not been deemed a “junk drawer” officially…it is supposed to hold his socks and underwear.  However, after seeing what he pulled out of it, I may need to relocate the socks and underwear.  The top drawer collection included two maps of Michigan, two armbands that were worn in Iraq, two exercise bands given to him by his physical therapist (which have never been used, by the way), and some paperwork on how to control your cholesterol.  He also pulled out a padlock, a deck of “All American Dad” playing cards that one of the kids got him for Christmas a couple of years ago, an old pair of glasses, two old cell phones, and a “make your own office stamp” kit, which in all fairness he gave to me and I just haven’t used yet.  The more he pulled from that drawer, the more I laughed.  He tried to defend himself, saying that he isn’t a packrat at all, but by the end, I think even he was amused.  I told him it would make a great post, and he tried to act mad at me about using him as fodder for my blog.  But I think he saw the value in such an array of objects being pulled from such unlikely places. 

So it seems that Blondie comes by her packrat habits naturally.  She’s just a chip off the old Sarge.  Mystery solved.

Slowly But Surely…

The following is a recycled post from my old blog, Lyrics of My Life.  I was reading it over today and realizing that I’ve come a long way since I wrote this post.  I still struggle once in a while, but mostly, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin.  Read on:

 

13 Again…(Summer, 2007)

 

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. I’m into all kinds of music, and being a self-proclaimed writer/poet, I especially love anything with great thoughtful and meaningful lyrics. One artist I listen to a lot is Alanis Morissette (No, I do not hate men!) because she sings so honestly about stuff I can relate to. The following song got me thinking about what I wanted to blog about today:

 

“So Unsexy” by Alanis Morissette

 

Oh these little rejections how they add up quickly

One small sideways look and I feel so ungood

Somewhere along the way I think I gave you the power to make

Me feel the way I thought only my father could

 

Oh these little rejections how they seem so real to me

One forgotten birthday I’m all but cooked

How these little abandonments seem to sting so easily

I’m 13 again am I 13 for good?

 

I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful

So unloved for someone so fine

I can feel so boring for someone so interesting

So ignorant for someone of sound mind

 

Oh these little protections how they fail to serve me

One forgotten phone call and I’m deflated

Oh these little defenses how they fail to comfort me

Your hand pulling away and I’m devastated

 

When will you stop leaving baby?

When will I stop deserting baby?

When will I start staying with myself?

 

Oh these little projections how they keep springing from me

I jump my ship as I take it personally

Oh these little rejections how they disappear quickly

The moment I decide not to abandon me 

 

There are times when this is me in a nutshell. I want to not care about what other people think of me. I want to state my opinions and hold my own and stand tall without worrying about what everyone is saying or thinking about me. I want to see people from my past (which for some reason I’ve been doing a lot of lately) and be proud of where I am in my life. I want to feel like I can be a beautiful person even if I never lose this 20 pounds. The thing is, I’m just not always quite there yet. 

I’m better than I was. Much better, actually. While my husband was in Iraq for a year, I gained a little more confidence in what I can do on my own. If I can get through a year with three kids and a mortgage while my husband’s in a war zone, I figure I can get through just about anything. I also went to Europe for a week by myself (well, my sister met me there for most of the time, but I still did most of the scary parts on my own) during that year and it was absolutely the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I gained so much perspective in that week, just experiencing something–life–other than what’s in my own backyard. So I’m not nearly as “scared” as I used to be. 

But still, there are definitely times I feel like I’m back in high school…or middle school…trying to at least look pretty so people will like me, agreeing with the crowd so I won’t be singled out as the “weird one”, shoving my opinions under a pile of smiles and nods. Even this blogging thing makes me vulnerable…putting myself out there and hoping my readers out in cyber-land will comment good things and go away thinking I’m a pretty interesting person instead of clicking on my blog and then looking elsewhere for something good to read. 

So am I destined to be 13 forever? Will I be 80, trying to do my hair in just the right shade of blue so I’ll fit in at the senior center? I think if I could just be me, I’d be so much more free. (Okay, I didn’t mean to make that cheesey rhyme.) I’m just sort of an oddball in my circle. I don’t always “fit in” so easily. I’m Christian, and I go to church most Sundays. I even help lead a Bible study during the week. I also have 3 tattoos, I love Sangria and martinis, I have 2 good friends that happen to be a gay couple, and I’m an avid (read: obsessed) fan of reality tv. The people at church don’t always “get” me. Heck, even my husband is usually clueless. 

So I’m telling myself…I’m not going to give other people the power to make me feel less-than-worthy. I’m going to make a point this week of expressing my opinion even if it may not be the popular one. I’m going to do what needs to be done this week to feel more comfy in my own skin. Maybe by next week I’ll be more like, you know, 14.

 

 

Parental Guidance NOT Required, Apparently.

Right.  So the whole “posting every day” thing?  Not so much.  Life sorta, you know, got in the way.  You know how it goes.  And plus there’s Facebook. 

Yesterday Blondie came home from school sporting some wicked road rash on her face.  I mean…really nasty.  I was shocked, and wondered why the school didn’t call to let me know.  Turns out, it happened on the way to the bus stop yesterday morning.  She had to walk a city block, and this happened.  (Seriously, how do you even get road rash on the bridge of your nose??  I’m not sure I understand.)  She was bleeding.  She was crying.  She was hurt and upset.  Did she turn around and come home to tell me that she was hurt, so I could clean her up and then drive her to school?  Nope.  She just got on the bus, crying and bleeding.  When she got to school, she went to the office to clean up a little.  She wanted to call me.  They said there was nothing I could really do, since those were just scrapes on her face.  They gave her a Band-Aid and sent her back to class. 

Now it’s true that I couldn’t have done anything but offer some sympathy.  It’s true that by that time, most of the pain was gone and the bleeding had stopped and she was fine.  I wouldn’t have gone to school to pick her up.  I wouldn’t have left work to check out her injuries.  I would have simply listened to the story, asked if she was okay, and told her I was sorry she was hurt.  I would have let her know that if she is ever injured on the way to the bus stop again, she should come home and let me know.  I would have given her a little Mommy-love and told her I would see her after school.  Instead, my nine-year-old daughter went through an entire school day looking like she was a member of a fight club, and I didn’t know anything about it.

I’m not mad at the school.  I’m not going to call and yell at someone.  I’m sure they get a gazillion kids in the office every day wanting to call home for some reason or another.  I guess it just bothers me that I didn’t know what was going on with my own kid.  Even if it was an injury that didn’t really need medical attention, it was still an injury.  And I am, after all, her mother.  I would have wanted to know about it.  I did want to know about it.  Instead, my little girl came home looking like this:

roadrash1

I know, right?

Gullible, but Loveable

I was doing some Christmas shopping today, merrily minding my own business.  I was the only person waiting in a cordoned-off line for one of three open registers in front of me.  That’s  when a middle-aged woman walked up to one of the counters with her purchases, completely ignoring me, and waited for the cashier to finish ringing up the customer she was with at the time.  Essentially, as my 9-year-old would say, she took cuts. 

I stood there in line, with an armful of heavy bags and juggling my loot, trying to decide what I should do.  Should I say something?  I could politely say, “Excuse me…the line is back here.”  But then again, it is Christmas time.  I could graciously let her go ahead of me and I could just forget about it.  It would only mean a couple more minutes to wait, and I wasn’t in a hurry.

In the end, I didn’t say anything.  She made her purchases without even glancing my way as though she knew she was doing the wrong thing, but didn’t care.  If she didn’t make eye contact, she didn’t have to feel badly.  It was not a big deal.  I waited until she was done, made my purchase, and was gone within five minutes.  But still, I was left feeling like a push-over.  She “got away” with being rude and inconsiderate.  And while I didn’t mind waiting the extra five minutes–in fact if she would have asked permission to go ahead of me because she was in a hurry, I would have said yes without hesitation–I also didn’t want her to think she could take advantage of me.  I didn’t want to be seen as “weak”, I guess.  I didn’t want to be taken for a fool.

I often feel the same way on my way to work.  There are two separate men who often stand at the top of the freeway exit near my job, holding signs that say “Hungry.  Please help” or another similar message.  At different times, I have happily given those men the lunch I packed, or a few extra dollars from my wallet, or a cup of hot coffee.  I don’t mind doing it.  It’s no trouble for me, and if the roles were reversed I would hope that they would do the same.  But at the same time, I wonder about those men.  What do they do with that money, or that lunch?  Have they decided that it’s “easier” to take other people’s money and food than to work for their own?  Am I just another poor fool that’s willing to offer up what I have?   It’s one thing to be gracious, but it’s another to be gullible.  Which am I?

I guess the bottom line is this:  should I worry more about my intentions, or the intentions of others?  Is it more honorable to be generous and trusting, even if it means that others sometimes take advantage of me?   And what does that make me:  a girl who puts others before herself, or a pushover?  I choose to call myself a girl who puts others first.  But I must admit that sometimes, I can’t help feeling like a doormat.

A Still, Small Voice

It’s okay!  No need to send out a search party or call 911.  I actually am still around, for the five of you who still read my blog and are interested.  I know it’s been over a month since I posted.  I know that some of you have been waiting for news of what’s been going on in my life.  I know some of you have wondered if I’m done blogging forever.  I know.

The truth is, in the words of my friend Melbs, I miss that obsessive blogging that I used to do back when I had my old blog, “Lyrics”.  When I used to post practically every day, and I would look around me all day for blogging fodder, and my husband knew that anything he did would most likely be posted for the world to see by that evening.  I miss that.

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately, for sure.  I thought that there was nothing “blog-worthy” in my life.  I thought that all I had was work and home, and no time for deep thinking or long philosophizing about the world around me.  But I’m realizing now that there is much to write about.  There are my new friends at work.  There are the issues that have recently come up in my life about race and background.  There are my thoughts about the differences between working moms and stay at home moms.  There are cute stories about my children.  There is stuff.  Stuff that I can write about. Stuff that I should write about.  So what’s stopping me?

Throughout my whole life, writing has been an outlet for me.  When I’m stressed, I write.  When I’m sad, I write.  When I’m excited about something, I write.  When I’m nostalgic or melancholy, I write.  And lately, I’ve let that go.  I’ve been so consumed by work and volunteering and family and housework that I’ve let the balance that writing gives me just slip away.  And in the last couple of days, I’ve begun to realize that I subsequently feel that I’ve lost my voice.  That the part of me that expresses myself the best…the part of me that allows me to be me most clearly… is gone.   I think that part of me is afraid.  Afraid that the new people in my life, the people who have recently come back in my life, the people who are just getting to know me, will read what I write here and either think I’m a fool for the things I write, or will be shocked at the thoughts that often go bumping around in my head.  Am I ready for them to see, in black and white, who I really am before they get that chance in person, gradually?

But then it all comes back to my voice again.  Do I want to be an actor?  Do I want to act like someone I’m not?  Or do I want to be exactly who I was created to be, perhaps not who I’m going to be yet, but a work in progress?  Do I want to be real, no matter what people think?  The answer, of course, is yes.  I want to be me, real and genuine and unafraid. 

So here goes.  I’m starting a  blogging campaign for myself.  I hope to post everyday, even if it’s just a quick thought or funny story.  I’m going to be intentional, in the hopes that writing will once again become a habit for me, in the same way as breathing or the need to nourish myself.  And in the process, I hope some of you will hear my voice in my writing, and decide to stick around for the ride.