December 31, 2009
So it’s New Year’s Eve and here I sit at my computer, contemplating my hopes for the next year. I struggled a bit with how to celebrate this oncoming eve. There were few options thrown out at me earlier in the week, but quite honestly nothing really appealed to me. I don’t really feel like going to a bar and being surrounded by all the amateurs that undoubtedly come out in droves on this night. I can already feel the elbows jabbing me in my sides and see the drink spills on my shoes, so that doesn’t really make me jump in excitement. I also thought about inviting other stray friends over, to maybe watch a movie or have dinner. But then the thought of me having to change out of my lounge wear or having to be concerned with the contentment levels of everyone’s food and drink, kind of made me slump even deeper into the couch. And I am most certainly not interested in going over to my parents’ house to ultimately watch my father sit in his easy chair and fall asleep in front of the TV by 11:45. Nah, none of those options really appealed to me. No, instead, I really just wanted to stay home tonight by myself with One (my kitty), my computer, and my TV with Ryan Seacrest and hopefully a cameo by Dick later. So what’s so wrong with that?
I told a friend last night at dinner what I planned to do tonight, and he laughed and started teasing me, saying, “You’re totally going to be lame aren’t you?! HA-HA, you’re totally going to be lame!” Of course I defended my reason for staying home tonight vehemently over our Korean Barbeque bonanza dinner, complete with threatening to shove kimchee right up my friend’s ass. But after we said our goodbyes last night and as I entered my now empty apartment (my sister having left to spend the next couple of days at her boyfriend’s place) I began to wonder, am I being lame? Should I be feeling bad for wanting to stay home, alone. Quite honestly, I really don’t feel bad, or sad, or mad…that I am currently sitting here alone. This is actually...great! On the tube right now is one of my favorite 80s movies, Romancing the Stone; I had for dinner the BEST leftover homemade chicken broccoli mac-n-cheese I've ever made; I’ve got the best view of the cutest kitty in the world curled up in a sleepy ball on the bed; and I’ve got my thoughts. So what’s so lame about that?
I think what begs to be said here is that we live in a culture where so many of us are judged on how many social calls we can receive in a week or even in a day, or how many friends we can have on the ever popular social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or even how up to date we are with all the happenings around town, etc. It’s funny, but suddenly I’m remembering back in high school and the dreaded “candy grams” that would occur during special events or holidays. You remember them: those carnations or little notes that would be delivered during homeroom. I always hated those occasions because I feared the shame that could very well befall me if I didn’t receive at least three of those grams in front of all my friends. And God forbid should the quiet, awkward nerd in the corner receive just one; well that’s just impossible, they had to have sent it to themselves. This kind of measure of worth is not new to any of us, and we all know how preposterous it really is, yet here I still sit, wondering…if I should be feeling bad?
Ah, and then Jack T. Colton dives off the high wall and into the water….now what was I saying?
Oh right, and so here I sit, contemplating 2010 and actually now, I’m just realizing that this will be my very last blog entry EVER for 2009. Goodness what to say now….
Well, looks like I just can’t stop it, the love is swelling in me as we speak, the clock is just about to strike 12, and my god, Dick looks great....three, two, One.
Happy New Year
December 18, 2009
Today was all about the SNOW!! It was SNOWMAGGEON, SNOWPOCALYPSE, AND SNOMG! We got around a total of 18 inches or so. I spent about 3 hours in it, taking photos, and just thoroughly enjoying the winter spirit.
And it's funny, but so was everyone else. Despite the crippling efforts of such a bad storm, everyone seemed to be absolutely delighted. What is it about the snow that makes people so happy? Is it the whiteness of it? The grace at which it falls from the sky and gently lands on an eyelash or window sill? Or is it truly its frozen gift of making everything stop, including the noise. It's around 2 am right now, and I have the window slightly open and I can sense the stillness that is outside. I am so tempted to get bundled up again just to go for a stroll at this midnight hour.
*Sigh* Now that is the one thing I felt I lacked today though. That well...certain someone to...you know, snow snuggle with. My sister had her boyfriend over for the past two days. So of course I couldn't help but evaluate my own relationship status or lack there of. You know, I really don't know what to say about it. It's been, let's just say, quite some time since I've had anyone "special" in my life. And I'll be honest, I've grown kind of accustomed to just living the single life. I don't "date" around either. I'm not really built to just "date" around. The thought of doing dates really makes me roll my eyes. I just don't have any time for that. And it's not that I think there's anything wrong with it, I just don't do role play very well that's all. So of course, therein lies my dilemma.
But again, I don't really mind the single life I've created for myself. It's just that sometimes, there's those little moments where you might catch a glimpse of a shy smile, or a soft gentle touch, or a deep silent look between two people you know who have just stopped for each other. Kind of like how today's snow has also made me stop to see those gentle, shy snowflakes fall throughout the day, and noticing each one completely drifting on their own.
But then again who knows what the future holds for me. It could be with someone or not. Or it could be with many in between. Shrug. But for tonight, I think I'll just drift...and fall softly into this winter wonderland, completely alone, but certainly not at all, lonely. I've got too many snowflakes around me.
December 13, 2009
So there’s a photograph of me and my mom that I’ve had to keep in the forefront of my mind these past two weeks during her visit. My sister found the photograph about four years ago while sifting through old slides that my father had tucked away in his basement. I recall the moment I first saw it, the tears welled instantly. I was floored by the beautiful image as was my sister. It’s no secret that my relationship with my mother hasn’t been the best. We’ve had years and years of difficulty and bad circumstance. However recently, this photo has been our saving grace. It continues to remind me that at the end of the day, no matter what my mother says to me or does to me, I know that the woman loves me, and regardless of our past, present or future, that fact will always remain an unconditional matter between us.
I've realized too that my mother's lot in life wasn't the most fortunate of lots. The very fact that she was born a girl to my grandparents was even considered unfortunate; a typical Chinese stereotype, fed by the tradition that boys are worth more than girls. In a conversation the very first night she arrived this past visit, she confided to me and my sister again that she had “never felt accepted” and was “always the black sheep” and that “no one ever wanted her.” It’s comments like these that have helped me set aside my own memories of abuse from her because I know that it’s all just a result of her own anguish manifesting in behavior I know she'd choose otherwise. But I've really only recently come to believe that because of the image in this particular photo.
And of course, there was then the fortune of a marriage to a sailor. And though I’d like to think my dad was an “officer and a gentleman,” the truth of the matter is he wasn’t, and she had to survive through that. When we brought the old slide to my father’s attention, I remember he held it up to the light, let out a soft sigh, handed it back to us, and then quietly left the room. I felt the contrition in his exit, and I wasn’t surprised by it. My mother was the one who had raised two daughters on her own and in a country that was unfamiliar to her, and not to mention, not very nice either. Another story she retold to us during her visit this past week was when she was shopping at a grocery store with baby me in a carrier. Some strange woman came up to her and asked, “How much do they pay you?” Can you imagine? In one simple question, my mother wasn’t only alienated racially and economically, but even from her own blood. Thirty-five years later, she still recollects in the memory, though now, she says it all through a chuckle, but back then, I’m sure it was through some very painful shame.
However, I do see these moments of recollection as important opportunities of healing for both me and her. There in lies the real fortune. I invite these kinds of confessions because it allows me to recognize her circumstance and thus the reasoning behind a lot of the harsh treatment toward me growing up. I’ve always been on the receiving end of her anguish, but again, having these heart to heart conversations with her along with the image of that particular photo, has made our relationship really grow over the past four years. Though that is not to say many times I’ve still had to dig REALLY deep down for that special kind of patience that often times I end up mumbling to myself that only a saint could possess.
But then again, what I see in this photo is exactly why I bother digging that deep. After all, if she can love me that much there, it’s the least I can do for her here.
November 28, 2009
So I really don’t like feeling this way. On Wednesday, my sister and I got a phone call from our mother. Well, actually, my sister got the phone call because my mother knows how I would've reacted to her petition. She wanted to pay an impromptu visit and she wanted to come either Thursday (which was Thanksgiving) or Friday. Immediately after my sister got the phone call, she put my mother on hold and called me, “We’ve got a problem, Mom wants to visit and she wants to come, like tomorrow.”
Damage control. Instantly I told her no way. That would ruin our plans to spend Thanksgiving with our Dad and Stepmom. Unfortunately since my parents’ divorce some twenty years ago and my Dad’s remarriage since then, my mom has yet to come to a peaceful conclusion about the whole thing. So I told my sister to tell her no (hell no), and then for the next half hour, my sister and I discussed this visit that our mom was insisting on paying. We both threw around dates and asking, “Does it have to be for two weeks. How much for just a week, five days, how about next week. What?” It was actually quite comical, but at the same time, sad. Usually, both of us are able to mentally prepare for this kind of visit for months in advance. But I was foreseeing that this visit, would actually only give us around 48 hours. The dread started to creep in on us both the more we thought about it. We both commiserated. Ugh. Two weeks. Two weeks. *sigh* Two weeks.
And you know, it’s not that I don’t want her here. Neither one of us feel completely appalled by this. In spite of everything, sure, come and spend some time with us Mom. The problem is that history has shown that our mother’s visits can either be really, really good or really, really bad. Best described as manic, and it’s this kind of unpredictability that causes such dread in us. Her most recent visit with us in August actually didn’t turn out so bad. I even cried a little when she had to leave back to San Diego. However I also recall her visit last winter. Not 24 hours into her visit, my sister lost herself in tears in the parking lot, while our mother sat yapping in our ears about closer parking spaces and bad boyfriends. I’ll admit, I laughed at this particular instance. Usually it’s me that loses it first. My sister and I often bet who will lose their patience first, and that time, she did. I remember feeling very good about my sister’s meltdown. Is that bad? Probably, but I couldn’t help feeling happy that I was finally the one able to contain my feelings. However I am certainly not without my own meltdowns. Three visits ago, we all went to New York for my cousin’s wedding and on our return home, my mother and I fought the entire way back. It was literally four and half hours of her shouting at me while I shouted back. My poor sister drove the whole way, doing nothing but mumbling to herself about how she had both a crazy mother and a crazy sister. It was legendary. So it’s this kind of history that's making me dread this next visit. Though I am trying to keep in mind that she’s merely a mother who just wants to spend time with her “eggs.” Yes that’s what she calls me and my sister, her “eggs.” I can’t fault her for that. I am just hoping that by the end of this visit, I’m not completely scrambled by her, that’s all.
So I’ve got about 2 hours until she arrives, and my sister and I are already fighting out of the stress this visit is already beginning to cause. Lord help me. I really don’t want this to turn out badly. Damn it, if only I had more time to prepare, to just mentally prepare . . . ugh, I know:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee
November 21, 2009
It’s been a wonderful week. I went on my very first cruise with my dad, my stepmom and sister, and I have to say, it was an awesome time. And though I didn’t find any “real” buried treasure, what I did find was:
*One strong Mai Tai, and that Piña Coladas remain the Caribbean crack,
*One cheesy crew director, complete with preshow Neil Diamond covers all sung in a suit that desperately needed alterations and dry cleaning,
*And one beautiful island named Bermuda, which just might actually benefit from the use of speed limits.
What else did I find?
*That cabin fever sets in at around the fourth day, especially if you’re sharing one suite with four members of your family,
*That I suck at rock wall climbing (fell off twice while a 70-year-old woman who preceded me seemed to zip up easily and without strain),
*That I seemed to have developed a pattern of pissing off menopausal women regarding seating arrangements (to save or not to save, to block view or not block view),
*That a fiercely rocking ship will not make me sick, but will actually lull me to sleep any where at any time in about 2 minutes,
*That no one should let loose three women, who are in a shopping mood, off on the beautiful island of Bermuda and trust they’ll be back on time for ship off,
*That Obama should allow this look in the Oval office,
*And that my father’s socks were like little tribbles everywhere!
And what else?
*During the art auction, I couldn’t concentrate on all the mediocrity that was being put on the block, especially since I kept thinking about the recent Warhol that sold for 43.7 million.
*As I sit here right now, I can still feel the sensation of the waves…weird.
*A ship that doesn’t accept cash and will only let you put all your charges on your room key is EXTREMELY dangerous, yet devilishly convenient.
*A smart way to “get the message” to my overweight/diabetic preacher father that pastries are not good for him, was to tell him that for every chocolate frosted donut he ate, I bet it was going to be an extra day in purgatory for him.
*A dance floor on a rocking ship is really quite fun.
*I irritated the hell out of some guy because I jumped the buffet line, only because I just wanted the eggs up ahead and not the lox that he and his wife were stalled at.
*Between the four of us, my family’s flatulence could’ve fueled the entire Royal Carribbean fleet!
*I paid $3.50 for one can of coke.
*The oncoming traffic of both walkers and strollers makes me want to run in the other direction.
*At this very moment I took this pic, someone in the audience shouted, "immigration!"
*I now have an appreciation for when Simon Cowell says, “Um, it was awl right, but a’bit like a cruise show performance.”
*I probably should have been playing with my food too instead of eating it.
*I traveled all the way to Bermuda to fall in love with a beach cat.
*And my stepmom traveled all the way to Bermuda to sit by a trashcan.
But seriously I found…
*That being on a boat, surrounded by the vast ocean, with nothing in sight, can actually make you feel a little bit disconnected, but in a good way,
*That everyone should see the sun set while sailing in the middle of the ocean at least once in their lifetime,
*That I feel bad for the one woman on our ship who isn’t coming back. She had rented a moped on Bermuda and was hit and killed not 10 minutes away from returning to the dock,
*That my family has an amazing way of getting though trying times by using patience and a lot of humor,
*That my Dad’s return to the sea after 25 years away and his nostalgic recollections of the Navy were both bitter and sweet,
*That I won’t ever forget what the hardworking crew did for us to make our trip enjoyable,
*But mostly I discovered that I, too, probably would've thought, the world was absolutely flat.
October 31, 2009
On this eve,
little black kitty sits in the night
waiting for his mistress to take her flight
and through the dark sky will she soon soar
casting her spells against evil forevermore,
And as he sits with her while on their way
they’ll meet those that drift unholy
on this Hallows’ day,
And together they’ll lead them out
and away from the rest they’ll go
those ghostly spirits of doubt
gone far from our pumpkin's glow.
So do not cower
should you see them during the witching hour
for their path you see across the moon
is nothing more but then a good wish for you.
October 24, 2009- For All The Pet Lovers
So One and I have had a rough couple of weeks lately. He’s been a completely healthy cat since I rescued him back in 2002, so naturally I was caught off guard at the intense concern that struck me when I noticed the problems he was having when he used his litter. He’s better now, not fully recovered, but doing very well.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the panic that overcame me when I saw my best buddy listless and not his same sweet self. Strangely enough as I drove One to the vet the first day, I couldn’t help but recall the moment at the Golden Globes when Mickey O’Rourke stepped up to accept his Best Actor award for The Wrestler. Mickey, looking like someone who’s obviously been through rough times, walked up modestly and said, “I'd like to thank all my dogs, the ones who are here and the ones who aren't here anymore, because sometimes when a man's alone, all you got is your dog. And they've meant the world to me.” I didn’t flinch after hearing Mickey, and I remember I didn’t mock him. All I did was look over to One, who lay near me, and thought to myself that I knew exactly what Mickey was talking about.
I met One (One Luv) back in July of 2001 when I first arrived in Takoma Park, Maryland, having just gotten out of the hospital in New York City (see Tattoos: A Leaf). When my dad and I finally arrived at my sister’s apartment, which was set in a small garden style building on the quiet street of Flower Avenue, I remember seeing this beautiful black cat sitting on the steps that led up to the building. As I stepped out of the car, I remember One walking slowly down as if to greet me. Immediately I knew he wasn’t scared of strangers. He was a loving little thing, and while he purred and rubbed his head around my legs, I recall feeling slightly better about my circumstances. Later my sister told me that One had always lived around our building as far as she knew. His presence wasn’t a nuisance to anyone in the building, and of course I wouldn’t mind having him around since I’d been a cat lover my whole life, and actually, I rather invited the feline company because I knew in the days ahead, I’d need it.
So as the weeks went on and I began to settle into my new life, which was made up of therapy five days a week, four hours a day, with no friends, no fun, and the impact of the guilt I was feeling having led a life filled with dumb choices, I soon began to look for anything that made me feel better, which ended up being just sitting on the patio steps, chain-smoking, and hanging out with One.
I wasn’t allowed to smoke in my sister’s apartment, so every time I’d go out to have a cigarette, there One would be, just hanging around the building, lying on the sidewalk. And if he wasn’t there when I first stepped out, he’d surely show up by the time I lit my second cig. Day in and day out, the two of us just sat out there together, me smoking and thinking, and him just looking at me and enjoying my pets. I recall sometimes having long quiet conversations with him in the still of the afternoon. I droned on and on about whatever, and he just sat there gently staring at me. I often felt lonely. Everyone seemed to be at work living their lives, making their living, while I just sat in every moment uncertain of what I’d be living with next. Anger, dejection, pain, guilt, or sadness were constant companions for me, but so was One. His presence seemed to be the only thing calm and positive in my life at the time. Many hot afternoons were spent just looking at each other, not caring where we'd go next or what would happen tomorrow. There was only this one cigarette now, and this one moment here. Just me and One.
There were others though. A day after I arrived, I met Two. Two was another black cat that hung around our building. He wasn’t as friendly as One, slightly shyer, but chubbier and his eyes sat slightly closer together so that when you looked at him you only saw this adorable, dopey face. Two had cat leukemia, which our neighbor found out through another neighbor. The township of Takoma Park has always been very good about monitoring all the strays that roam in the town. Two’s illness, however, never made him seem sick. He just moved slower and was calmer in temperament. One was most definitely the stronger of the two personalities, and I often witnessed One chase away Two whenever Two tried to interlope between us. But despite One’s terrible selfishness, Two was still a welcomed visitor.
After about six months of living there, I was lucky enough to obtain the studio apartment that was in the basement of the building while my sister continued to live on the top floor. My new apartment was in the back of building facing the woods which was ideal for me and the cats. I’d often leave my window open which leveled right at the side patio where One could enter and leave as freely as he wanted. Two never came into my apartment. He only sat at my door. Many times I’d open the door, and there Two would be, just looking at me with his cute dopey face. If One was in my apartment and saw Two sitting there when I opened the door, all hell would break loose and One would again, charge at the interloper. I don’t know how many times I scolded One for being such a tyrant. But at the same time, I knew why. He wanted me all for himself, and who wouldn’t appreciate a little of that?
One was a tough tomcat. Many times he’d show up at my apartment door with deep gashes in his flesh. I figured they were from the fights with the raccoons or possums of the woods. Typically then, the tough little soldier would park himself in my apartment, lick his wound, sleep it off, and then a week later or so, he’d return to the woods ready to battle once again. I found myself worrying about him while he was out there a lot. I noticed that the gashes in his flesh got bigger and bigger each time, and I often wondered how much longer it would be before he messed around with the wrong raccoon.
I also noticed during these times, One’s growing dependence on me. Though an outdoor cat, I could still come home, and maybe it was rainy and I’d forgotten to leave the window open, and there One would be, perched on the step of my door, just waiting for me. Two was never in want of shelter. I suspect he preferred the woods. Two would really only show up for food and maybe a little attention. But One was different and he seemed to need me more, which of course, I invited. One’s need/love for me healed a lot of my own wounds I had at the time, and though some might mock this, I’m grateful for it because it was his meows, his purrs, and his little nose nudges that had lifted my sad eyes out of all the loneliness and regret.
About two years after living there, One and Two had a new visitor. I’m convinced that somehow the word got out that we were all feeding the cats. Enter Three, and amazingly, he too was a black cat. It was the strangest damn thing, but one day, Three just showed up. Three was completely feral and he kept his distance. Three was the most agile of them, too. I once watched him scale the entire brick wall of my neighbor’s house to get to the roof, where he then sat and watched over the woods. But though Three kept his distance, you could be certain that he’d still be there for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
But the visitors still didn’t end there. About six months after meeting Three, enter Four. Again, suddenly one day, Four showed up at all our doorsteps. And yes, he was black, too. Four we also nicknamed “Scarface” because we think he was hit by a car sometime in his life which resulted in an amazing scar on the side of his face. Four was the attention hog. He LOVED being held, pet, fed, any of it. We suspected he also had another mistress somewhere because he would later show up with a purple collar around his neck. But none of us minded, we all figured the more the merrier, and so just about every morning and every evening, there they all were: One, Two, Three, and Four.
The next 4 years were sublime with all our cats. I loved having them around. At times and typically during the winter months, I’d wake to the chill coming from my left open window and there around the apartment would be One, Two, Three, and Four all scattered about and cozy down. They were great companions, but Two, Three, and Four just couldn’t compare to my One, my One Luv. My sister gave One the full name of "One Luv" because at the time, he was just that. I also loved the name because of the nod to Marley’s tune (not the Whodini tune). And even though there were three other cats around a lot of the time, it was only One that made sure that he was the one on my lap, or sitting next to me, or sleeping in my bed with me. He had become my best friend, and whenever I came home from a tough day of therapy having toiled through layers and layers of complicated emotions and feelings, he was the only one there ready to provide me with something to just simply love.
In 2006, my sister and I received the bad news that we had to vacate our building. Our landlord sold the property and the new owner was turning the apartments into condos. The news disturbed me because I knew what that meant, and I really wanted to take them all, but I knew I couldn’t because of several reasons: Two had cat leukemia which might prove to be a handful, Three was too feral to be domesticated, and Four we knew had another mistress elsewhere so really, there was only One, which actually ended up being very fine with me.
I struggled with taking him out of the “wild” though. I knew he loved his outdoors, but I also knew how attached he was to me and the thought of me suddenly disappearing was too hard to bear. On the day we moved, I recall One didn’t come by the whole day, which was very unusual, and I suspected all the moving noise had scared him away. I made myself promise not to look for him, but decided that if he should come by, I’d then consider that a moment of clarity. Interestingly enough, as I swept the grime from my now empty apartment, I noticed a slight movement from the corner of my eye, and when I looked up, I saw my precious little One Luv appearing in the open doorway. He sat looking at me and then gave me a sweet “meow.” I knew at that moment that he was my family and to our new home we’d go together. And of course, he’s been with me ever since.
When One became sick last week, of course this trouble with his health sent me into a deep tizzy because I was and am now forced to recognize the inevitable. We aren’t sure how old One is, but we suspect he’s getting up in the years. This sudden realization is what brought me to this blog tonight. I’ve been recollecting all week about One and our life together, and I really don’t want to deal with the fact that one day, my best friend won’t be around. As I sat with One on the floor the other night, again...just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company, I looked at him and said, “Just please, give me five more good years, that’s all I ask.” He gently stared back at me and then gave me a nice, big stretch across the floor as if to say, “Oh, okay, I’ll try.”
My relationship with One has probably been the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had with anyone or anything. We never fight, we never argue, and we don’t get into trouble. All we do is chill. I don’t think I’ll ever have another friend like him. He’s my One Luv.
Here are the kids in order: Two, One, Four, and Three.
One Luv and me, just chilling.
October 11, 2009
So just a little over 6 months ago, I took a position within the Department of Education as a reader for four blind employees. The opportunity to move came at a very good time for me. I was incredibly unhappy at my previous job. My boss at the time was a royal pain in the ass and it was becoming unbearable to continue working for him. Luckily, my sister, who has worked for the Dept of Ed for the past 5 years, heard of this position within the agency and asked me if I'd be interested. I jumped at the chance. The idea of reading to blind people both interested me and at the same time, gave me a sense of real pleasure, in that, I would be finally helping someone who really needed my assistance, and not to this current asshole that just didn't deserve me. So I interviewed, was selected, and have been happily working there for the past six months.
Admittedly, I have learned so much about the human spirit than I could've ever possibly learned at all my previous jobs put together. I don't want to state the obvious regarding what it must be like, that is, reading to the blind for a living, but let's just say I've been humbled, inspired, and most of all, showed what is actually important in life.
So like I said, there are 4 employees I work for. There is Brian, the hip, 40-year-old, that I just assume guides himself since when I do walk with him, he walks faster than me and damn near runs ME into things! There's Carol, the stylish Baltimore aristocrat, that knows how to accessorize her outfits better than any other woman I know, not to mention her absolutely PERFECT size 6 feet. There's Pamela, the older cute-b-tootie that is quick to criticize me for not knowing Elton John tunes or how to tell a friend that I think her boyfriend could be a creep. And finally there's Elizabeth, the quiet, strong-willed Nigerian princess, that will run up 10 flights of stairs and then back down all in 2-inch heels and call it her daily work out (seriously, she does this EVERY day.) All four will need my help from time to time, and I have gladly provided the best of myself, I would hope, to all of them.
I also work very close with one other reader, Stephanie. Stephanie and I are kindred spirits. Aside from having practically identical physical features-we both have long dark hair and wear black rim glasses (though recently I bought red ones)-we are often confused by other employees. We both find our commonalities entertaining, and I like to think we both find great comfort in our kinship as well. It's funny but even our boss made the comment that, "we seem to have great chemistry." And I truly believe we do.
So last week, we were all attending a team building session at headquarters. The entire department was in attendance. It also happens that I work for the Rehabilitation Services Administration, the agency that oversees grant money to states that provide vocational rehabilitation and independent living services. The agency is also a subdivision of the Office of Special Education, so naturally, the past six months I've also been exposed to all sorts of issues regarding people with disabilities. But what stands out the most from what I've learned is just how people WITH disabilities are actually treated in everyday life.
Now on this day, we were all seated about six to seven per a table. Pamela and Stephanie sat to the left of me and Elizabeth and around the table were three other employees. The facilitator directed each table to discuss team priorities, both the challenges and strengths. This directive is not uncommon in teambuilding exercises. As readers, Stephanie and I don't really participate in the actual programmatic aspects of the agency. We are merely there to assist should Brian, Carol, Pamela, or Elizabeth need our assistance for they are actually the ones who hold the necessary responsibilities to the agency. So as the facilitator gave each table the go to discuss, me and Stephanie, as always, just sat there listening.
The discussion began between Pamela, Elizabeth, and the others around the table. And naturally, as issues were discussed, contentions began to rise over competing priorities. Elizabeth, our Nigerian princess, soon began to discuss her frustration over how VR monitoring always seems to take precedence over IL monitoring, her particular area of interest, and only simply because VR has more money. Though you might not understand the jargon, you can understand how sometimes greater things or the majority are paid more attention than to those lesser or in the minority. The table acknowledged her frustration, but still seemed to keep the conversation focused on the competing "greater" area. Elizabeth, however, wasn't going to back down and she continued to press for more than just acknowledgment of the problem. She wanted a solution.
I recall watching Elizabeth intently and I was amazed at her tenacity. And I also recall a fellow coworker who didn't want to bother with a solution and really just wanted to keep the conversation moving along. He wasn't aggressive or too contentious with her, but he definitely wanted to leave things alone.
He said mildly to her, "Well, Elizabeth, VR has more money, more stuff to do, it's much bigger. What do you want us to do?"
And quietly, Elizabeth just replied in her soft, little voice, "Yes, I understand that, but even small drops can fill a bucket."
As soon as the whole table heard that, it was as if Elizabeth had taken a butcher knife and cut straight through us. We replied in unison, "Ohhh, Elizabeth, that's so...awww, Elizabeth." If only Elizabeth and Pamela could see how the rest of us around the table just looked at each other acknowledging the life lesson we knew we just learned.
It was amazing, and after her comment, I couldn't help but now look at this tiny, petite woman as if she were a lion sitting next to me. I was so touched. So touched. And as the "teambuilding" session went on, Elizabeth's words began to take on an even greater meaning for me. I soon realized that Elizabeth actually lives these words. She has probably, her whole life, been looked over or not considered as a fully functioning member of society simply because of her disability of blindness. I have seen how people don't address her, or any of them for that matter. Just because they can't see doesn't mean they can't hear. Literally, any four of them could be standing next to me or Stephanie and some asshole will address them as a "third" person.
"Ugh, does he (she) have their ID?"
"Well, I don't know jackass, why don't you ask them?"
It's ridiculous and I could go on and on about the stupidity I've encountered, but I won't. I'm sure you get the picture. But like I said, Elizabeth lives these words. She is the small drops. Her, Pamela, Carol, Brian, all folks who may have a disability, or anyone who may live their life in the margins, the minorities, the different, the countercultural. Elizabeth speaks great wisdom when she says that despite being just a small drop, it's the small drop that makes the bucket. It's the pebble that makes the beach. It's the blade of grass that makes the lawn. It's the small act of kindness that brings on the flood of love. We're all parts of the whole, you know.
October 5, 2009
I had an interesting discovery this afternoon. I was reflecting on one of yesterday's readings during mass. Miraculously I had made it to mass yesterday. I'm pretty infamous in my family for not attending mass consistently. My problem is two-fold, first usually one of the reasons why I stop going is because the priest has managed to give a homily that has pissed me off, thus, putting me off and stealing all the desire of returning. Or second, I just sometimes find it hard to wake up. I like to sleep in late, and this quality of mine has long been but a curse when it comes to going to church. But yesterday, I managed to schlep my ass to mass, and was quite glad that I did.
The readings were quite beautiful and I was struck particularly by the first reading which was Genesis 2: 18-24. And though part of me cringed when it got to the woman out of man's rib part, the clinging to the woman part in the end, made me feel balanced once again. Admittedly, the biblical romance I heard brought a tear to my eye. I don't know why, call me a softy, but I like the idea of two becoming one, etc. Biblical stories, though metaphorical (to the Catholics at least), do inherently capture human characteristics, and for this particular story, I believe, indeed, the animals just weren't enough for man; thus, God made woman.
But I digress. Any way, so I was reflecting on the reading when I was suddenly reminded at what my father had mentioned at Sunday dinner. My parents' pet poodle Fido was sitting at the foot of the table looking earnestly to any of us to slip him some table food. My stepmom hadn't fed him yet. When my dad asked why, she mentioned something about he won't eat it until later any way, so why bother feeding him now. At that time, I piped in that I had heard a Jewish law that comes from the Halachah that instructs people to feed their animals first before they feed themselves. It teaches compassion, selflessness, etc. My father added that he knew of the law and found it right because, after all, in the order of creation, the animals were created first, thus only making it right to respect and take care of God's creatures as God intended. It was funny, but my father and I didn't mean to make my stepmom uncomfortable, but she soon got up and began preparing Fido's food. Lucky pooch.
Any way, so while I was at work, I decided to reread Genesis 2, just to revisit some of that old romance. As I read, I soon became rather disturbed at what I now know is the age old controversy of the conflicting creation stories of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. If you don't know, Genesis 1 recounts the creation story with the animals being created first, and in Genesis 2, there is an assumption the animals were made AFTER man. I had not been privy to this debate. Years ago, I even sat down and read all of Genesis, but apparently that little nugget of contradiction didn't strike me until now. I then grabbed a ton of articles off the internet and apparently there are a whole slew of explanations, but mainly scholars blame translation, that in fact, Genesis 2 could very well have been translated incorrectly. I'll admit, when I noticed the discrepancy, I became slightly alarmed. Since I was a kid, I have always thought that according to the bible story, we were created last, and personally, I would like to continue to think that way. Why wouldn't God want to create the animals first? And why wouldn't God want us to take of them? Animals are the best! (As I look over and look at my absolutely adorable kitty.) As far as I'm concerned, the discrepancy says a lot about us humans too: That sometimes things just get lost in translation, just like sometimes our animals just get lost in our background.
September 30, 2009
Late the other night, when everyone was asleep, crept in a little Turd monster. Little Turd monster got very curious. He didn't want to play with the cat...no, he didn't want to look through closets, no, he didn't even want to look through the refrigerator and see what kind of goodies were inside...nope, instead, the little fucker wanted to skip around and leave little spelling turds all over my website!! When I woke in the morning, I opened my site and found all the tiny turds everywhere! Like: attendent, dimissive, kurt, fundemental, alot, lovliness, and so on! Egads! They were just scattered about! But not to fear, I called Señor Spell Check and he came over and did a good comb and collected all the little turds and threw them out. Señor Spell Check has assured me that he thinks Little Turd monster will not come back because has left a little special something in case he does. He sprayed just a nice thin layer of humiliation all over to insure the little fucker won't return. Señor has warned me that I cannot get lazy when I am working here. He tells me that is what the Little Turd monstr loves most. "Aquí! See what I mean?" He sputters.
So I have promised Señor Spell Check that I will try to pay better attention no matter how tired I may be. He is very happy with me now.
Little Turd Monster, never again!!
September 29, 2009
I have to apologize to my dad tonight. He called me earlier to tell me that he had read all my stories and wanted to talk to me about them. To be honest, I didn't think he'd get through one of them, let alone all of them. And in fact, he did, in 90 minutes!
It's not that I don't think my dad necessarily cares about my artistic endeavors, it's just that he was never the type to be into "art" etc. He's very much a meat and potatoes kind of guy, who loves baseball, the Catholic Church, and his pet poodle. So I usually don't really talk too much to him about things I write because I know I'm not going to garner the feedback I'd want to hear from a parent. A "that's great..." is really all I ever expect, but for some reason tonight, was different.
It seems my dad really went out on a limb and took the time and genuinely absorbed everything I had to say in my stories. He provided great praise, some constructive suggestions, but mostly he just left me feeling supported and loved. When I had come home tonight, I was feeling a bit miserable. Hadn't gotten enough sleep, tossed and turned all night, and work just seemed to drag on all day, but after my phone call with him, suddenly, everything felt better. Funny, even at, ahem, 30 something, it's amazing how we sometimes still need just our parents approval to make everything better. And though I'm sure tomorrow he'll bring something else to the table to piss me off, for just tonight, I'm my father's daughter.
September 27, 2009
So here it is! The official launch of ThatTattooGirl.com. I am so excited. I have been working on this for just about a year and am giddy as hell right now. I never thought I'd finish. This might be a bit cheesy but I have to thank three people, my friend John who made me believe that I could do this, my friend Kris for actually helping me to do this, and my girl Stephanie who put the fire on my ass. You guys are the best!!