Just breathe

“I’m proud of you… everything that you do… Remember that.”

As far back as I can remember, it has been a bit difficult for me to be around very old people. If they are old and alone, that hurts me already, but , once they have reached a point that their bodies are beginning to fail them openly, it is as though a switch flips in my mind, and I suddenly struggle to breathe, to function, to focus.

My grandfather is at this point. Actually, he is much beyond it. As we talked today, I had to clear myself continuously in order to remain present with him. I have begun missing him more and more in recent years, as there has been less and less of him to see, with whom to speak and interact. I have seen him grow more and more frustrated with his own brain, his own body as a whole, as he has lost ability after ability… ones which he had is such intense abundance. Indeed, he was one of the smartest and most learned people I have ever known. And he didn’t even attend college. Nonetheless, he was the best resource we had growing up – even better than our teachers on most subjects, and more efficient and detailed in his answers than an encyclopedia. He was one of my greatest inspirations as a child and young adult, and I think so much of me longed to be most like he was. And he always made it so clear that we were loved by him. In almost very action, every phrase or look, every article or comic strip he saved for us or television program or clip he recorded for us, it was clear that he loved us.

He, every so often, would call me “Honah Lee” (from “Puff, the Magic Dragon”), and still does. He’s always played around with pronunciations of words, both of English nature and foreign (e.g. jalapeños with a hard j and firm n). So, it was an easy step to get to calling me Honah Lee. After I had learned German, and we had long since begun to use it with one another (college and onward for me), he called me one day, and said that he wanted to share what he’d figured out so far. He then sang to me “Puff, the Magin Dragon”… in German. He had done his best to translate the lyrics. I think I might actually have cried while he sang to me over the phone. There was just something about it, I was quite overwhelmed with the expression of pure delight and love in that act. Indeed, any time he used German, I always noticed how he sparked to life, as though becoming, just for a few moments or minutes, a young child, excited for the unexpected adventure that life could and would unfold. He hadn’t been allowed to use German in school as a boy – it was forbidden by the school. It was his language of home, fun, love, and self-expression. But he hadn’t used it much beyond his childhood. And, by the time I was born he had almost never used German at all; not until I had begun learning and using it with him. And so, every time we used German together, it was like I got to know him as a child, free from the many pressures and stresses that naturally arise from adulthood, from aging. I just got to be with him. And I reveled in that.

And I still do.

However, talking with him today, discussing how, though he is to turn 91 years old in a few months, he hopes yet is not sure he will make it there, it was somewhat terrifying how easy it was to be with him. He was 100% present as we spoke about that, though is isn’t always these days. He said that he has lived a wonderful life, that he is grateful, and that he is not afraid of dying (despite the fact, as he said, that people say not to say that). I merely nodded, and cried as I said that we very much would miss having him here with us. I held his hand for a bit, and we shared multiple kisses on the cheeks and I love yous and Hab’ dich lieb’s before I had to leave.

And then, just before I had to leave, he said to me, slowly and intentionally, looking me directly in the eyes, – something he has struggled to do lately – “I’m proud of you… everything that you do… Remember that.”

And I will.

And I would not be surprised if today was the last time the two of us see one another in his life. We might see one another again, but it is not very likely. He cannot seem to eat almost anything anymore, and his body is, frankly, falling apart and shutting down on him. A could be causing B, and B could be causing A, but both are contributing to the other, and the result is the same: he does not have much likelihood of living in his physical body on this Earth for much longer.

And it’s terrifying for me.

My paternal grandfather died when I was in middle school. It was expected and not. And it was difficult yet not. The same was true of my paternal grandmother. I was in college when she died, but I was still very much in the child mentality, much more so than the adult mentality. Now, I am very much more on the adult side of life than I am on the child side, and it is an entirely different kind of experience to have this happening now. I suppose that, since my maternal grandparents had survived my childhood, something in me had felt that they would be forever present in this life. They had made it to adulthood with me, so to speak, so they were here to stay.

But they aren’t. No one is, really. But they are more obviously likely not to be here for that much longer. A small part of me had felt disappointed in myself for not providing them with what feels like would have been some of the greatest gifts I could have given them. I do not have a stable career. I do not have a partner in life. I have no children. I don’t even have a pet. I know they do not need those things for me. But that is why they would be gifts.

However, when Opa said that to me today, that he is proud of me… of everything I do…, it reminded me of why those other things have always seemed to matter. They are most often expression of success in living one’s life fully. At least, they are mostly seen that way. But, when the ultimate goal is that we live life fully… that we be true to ourselves and fully self-expressed…, I cannot say that I have failed my grandparents or that I have let them down. Indeed, I have fulfilled every wish they could have for me in relation to success in my life. All the other stuff – the marriage, the children, the house, the career – are tiny details by comparison.

I do not say this lightly nor boastingly when I say that I am one of the most loving people I know. I do not do well with keeping people at the standard ‘comfortable distance’ in life. I do not chat about the weather easily. Either I do not know you at all, or I want to know you, embrace you fully. Like Ender Wiggin said, the moment I get to know you, I get to love you. And I love loving people. It is terribly difficult and stressful for me to ‘try to get to know someone’. Just be yourself with me, let go of whatever you are hiding, let me see you, be with you…. let me love you. That’s all I want from the people around me. And that’s how I want them to see me, too – see all of me now, so that you can love me for me. Let us not waste time on pleasantries and weather. Let us dive right in, and have an absolute blast together. Indeed, that is exactly why dating is so difficult for me, why I cannot seem to ‘figure out’ how to interact with this guy with whom I went on a date recently. I don’t do surface level. I do the real you, the real me. And when people avoid that, turn or step away from it, usually in fear, it is so hard for me… it only makes me want to come even closer, that I might love you even deeper. And though this might sound like I am socially awkward, I truly am not. I can be quite quiet in certain circumstances, but I probably am the only person at the party who will know everyone else by the end of it.

And I am grateful for that. So much of who I am is love. And I have no idea what comes next for me in life. (Like… genuinely, I have no idea… please, grasp that for a moment…) But I know exactly who I am stepping forward into that unknown. And I love her and I am grateful every moment for her and for all that she is and for all that she is not. And I learned today that, more than I ever saw, my Opa feels the same way about her. He knows I’m not married, not settled in any way, not career-stable or financially stable. But he knows that I am stable, and that I am ready for whatever is through that next threshold as I step forward into it. And he is proud of that, and all that it involves. He is proud of me, of who I am, of all that he knows I will create out of who I am in this life, even though he will not be here in person to see most of it with me.

I pray only that his love, his support, his guidance help me to move forward confidently and comfortably throughout the rest of my life. I am grateful for him always. And I love him dearly, deeply, truly. Thank you, God, for allowing us the opportunity to spend so much wonderful time together in this life.

In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Danke, Gott.

Post-a-day 2021

P.S. Frohe Ostern, folks!! Happy Easter, allen!! (Not to deny the weight of all of that ^, but it was because of Easter that I was able to spend the time with my Opa today at all. And I am grateful for that. And the Easter Egg Hunt in which I got to partake. Today really was a great day, filled with silliness and love and fun. But it also was very real one, in which, I believe, God was helping me to prepare for part of what comes next.)

Birthdays and bad days

I remember attending my childhood best friend’s birthday party at Skate Central, an indoor roller skating rink, own time when we were little. I had gotten her a Bop-It (probably a Bop-It Extreme). As is usual for my family – my mom is very good at thinking things through practically, and so trained us even as young children to do the same – we had taped the necessary batteries (the ones “not included” with the toy itself) to the present. Therefore, whenever the recipient – in this case, my best friend – wanted to get set up with playing with the toy, all the necessary tools were on hand. And no, it didn’t require any other tools, or we likely would have brought them along, too.

Anyway, that was the present that I was very excited to give to her. Someone else at the party also have her a Bop-It. The same kind, yes. That person did not include batteries in her gift-giving.

So, what happens? My friend and her mom take the batteries from my Bop-It and open up the other friend’s Bop-It to use. Mine will be given away at a later time to someone else, but the batteries were nonetheless useful.

…..

I am not sure that I can appropriately express how distraught and useless I felt at that moment. I only saw myself as useful in filling in where others had failed. I was no main focus in any way. I was merely there to fill in the gaps, as needed… to provide the batteries that no one ha smothered to remember or would consider again until they ran out of power and needed replacing. I was forgetful and a convenient helping hand. Nothing else.

Can you believe I got all that from a single event like that? Yes, it was ridiculous what they did. And yes, they did it without even thinking – they needed batteries to open this other one, and saw batteries on the first Bop-It – problem solved.

This is now something for me to contemplate and consider for a bit. I imagine I have some strong opinions about myself deep down because of that incident. It really hurt me at the time, and we human beings tend to do rash things when we are hurt unexpectedly.

Yeah…

By the way, I loved playing Bop-It Extreme as a kid. I would spend hours walking around – pacing around – my dad’s house upstairs, playing on my own. Everyone said the sound-only game was the hardest. (Psychologically speaking, it’s actually easier, but whatever…) Most people, even with practice, never made it far past the twenties and thirties. I grew accustomed to challenging myself with that one, and ended up with a ridiculous high score of around three hundred something. I averaged a hundred or so for any given play. And that started after only a matter of days of playing it. It was just very natural for me, and also quite fun. I truly enjoyed it, and I loved spending my time playing Bop-It Extreme.

My mom found my one from her house recently. I had gotten a second one, because I missed it when I wasn’t at my dad’s house, which was the majority of the time. When she found it, she replaced the batteries in preparation of showing it to me. I convinced her to play a few rounds with me in the multiplayer version, and we had a blast. When I did the solo player version, I ended up stopping because I wanted to get back to what I had been doing beforehand, not because I made an error. In other words, it was still easy peasy for me, and I was awesome at it.

I really loved playing Bop-It Extreme. 🙂

Post-a-day 2020

Photo surprise

I shared a casual 40-ish photos with a friend from elementary school last week. I had gone by his daughter’s outdoor birthday party to take some photos. I wasn’t hired. I just wanted the practice, and he was open to having photos and to having me around. I was invited as s guest to the party, should I like. The photos were my own intention.

So, I went later than I had hoped to be able to go, and only took a good handful of photos, as I would call it, of the friend, his daughter, and her cousins. They weren’t the greatest I’ve done, but I had fun logging the silliness and fun of those few characters – for they certainly are characters. And the photos represented that fun and silliness quite well, I think. Plus, they were pretty photos.

Today, logging into Facebook, I saw a notification that I had been tagged in a post by that old friend. He had shared all 40-something photos, and said that I had produced them in their entireties. That was not only kind that he would tag me but flattering that he would include all of the photos. Even I would have included only the top ones for my own posting. Perhaps those were his top picks… all 49-something of them.

Whatever the case, it was really cool and was a really great experience for me to see my love and passion being appreciated and shared. Gratitude on both ends of that equation. 🙂

Post-a-day 2020

Kid talk

Talking with a little boy at a small birthday party yesterday, while he played in an inflatable water slide thing and I took photos of the little cousins for their parents – he being one of those cousins – I was reminded of the fun that can come of simply having little kids around. His little brother told me that he, the little brother, is two. Then, the older of the two tells me that, yeah, he is two and I am four. Oh, I see. He’s two and you’re four.

“Yeah, but I’ll be five soon.”

“Oh, really. You’ll be five soon,” I say in the question-like statement I tend to give little kids oh, so often.

“Yeah.”

“When will you be five?”

“Oh,” he almost sighs, giving a little pause before saying, “after a couple a years,” and he nods knowingly.

I nodded with him in understanding… a couple years really does make up a long time. Half a lifetime, it even could feel… but I didn’t say so… I didn’t trust myself not to hurt his feelings… I swear, I barely kept it together and didn’t laugh right in front of this child in uncontrolled fits. 😂 My entire insides were shaking with a desire to burst forth in laughter.

Fortunately, I was able to tell me mom about it afterward, and we got to laugh really hard together over it. 😛 Clearly, the kid got the phrase from his parents or some other adults, and just applied it without any idea of its actual meaning, but knowing that it was used for something that wasn’t going to happen quite yet. 😂

It was beautiful.

Post-a-day 2020

Barbie Who?

My mom sent me a photo the other day of a hippy-like Ken doll. I wasn’t entirely sure that it was actually Barbie, or, even, Mattel, but I could tell it was something different. It was different from the standard, anyway, and intentionally so.

Today, while checking out some fabrics and yarns for making dresses for these Barbies that I’m painting for Día de Muertos at the end of the month, my mom stopped at an aisle in the store to show me something. Low and behold, it was the Ken doll… surrounded by several other new and different Barbies. And yes, they are Mattel and Barbie. They are the real deal.

Turns out, there is this whole line of Barbies and Kens that I had never even heard mentioned, let alone seen myself. From hipster baristas with man buns to prosthetic legs to heavier everyday girls, Barbie has released a line of dolls called “You can be anything” Barbies.

And, at Walmart, anyway, they are only $8 plus tax (total of $9 exactly in Texas), and I am kind of in love. Something within me wants to own, to have and to hold a couple of these Barbies…, specifically, the man-bun barista Ken and the hypopigmentation black Barbie.

Here’s a closer look at the lot.

Note the size and shape of Park Ranger Barbie and the neighboring Fashionista Barbie #144 (that seems to be the generic term for the ones that haven’t been given specific names yet). Big fan over here of the human-shaped Barbies. 🙂

Check those prosthetics! Baller! I still remember the video of the little girl who got the first doll she had ever seen with a prosthetic, how she cried, declaring, “It’s got a leg like me!” (Info here, and original video here. Fun fact: That girl is actually from Houston.)

And that hunky man-bun barista Ken… there’s just something about the hipster that always gets me! ❤ 😛

I know this is only a single step in an ocean of stairwells, but it is a huge step and it is definitely is a very good direction, so far as I am concerned.

Thanks, Mattel, for taking this seriously and to heart. It is very much appreciated, and probably more so than you ever will know. 🙂

Post-a-day 2020

Stuffed Love

Which is very unlike a stuffed shirt, by the way…  😛

Tonight, I snuggled up with several feather pillows and my extra-large white bear that was given to me by my paternal grandparents when I was probably only single-digits years old, and watched Frozen, while sitting (or lying) on my bed.  And it was delightful.  I don’t know why people let go of stuffed animals and piles of pillows in their adulthood.  Even in college, I had several stuffed animals with me at school.

The year I lived in an apartment with a friend of mine (still campus housing, but an apartment, nonetheless), we had full sized beds as part of the furnishings.  A different friend was staying the night, and, as we were getting into bed to go to sleep, she thought it was hilarious yet adorably wonderful that I had stuffed animals in my bed, their having clearly been my nighttime snuggle buddies so far that year.  She, delighted, declared it like “a jungle!”, and snapped a photo of me snuggling in with the animals.  Of course, I made total room for her in the bed, and it wasn’t crowded for us or anything.  But, when I didn’t have physical company in my bed, I preferred having stuffed company to being on my own with the sheets.

To this day, I like to feel that something is around me when I sleep.  When I get to sleep in a bed with a person, some small piece of me has to touch that person, in order for me to sleep fully at ease.  When there isn’t a person, I just like having contact with something presence-marking.  These days, that typically means a stuffed dog strewn across my thighs, and my arms casually relaxed across my rib cage, creating just enough pressure for comfort and subconscious reassurance…  Perhaps it was because I grew up with siblings always around, older than I, and so I always wanted to sleep in their beds with them…, because they were my older siblings and I loved them and looked up to them.  And then, when they weren’t around, I ended up sharing the bed with my mom or my dad, depending on in whose house I was staying that night.  (Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to stay in my dad’s bed, because of the divorce stuff, but, with my active history of terrible nightmares as a child, I voluntarily would creep down to his bedroom and sneak onto the side of the California king.  Sometimes he noticed before morning, but I made enough of a fuss about not wanting to be alone upstairs, and he was half asleep, anyway, so he let it go.  Naturally, my mom was annoyed at this, so I kind of just stopped telling her about it.  It wasn’t even an every night thing, either, but, when I needed it, I needed it, you know?  And then it was just habit and comforting, even when I didn’t need it anymore.)

By the time it really didn’t bother me so much to sleep on my own, and the nightmares had mostly subsided, my sisters moved into my dad’s house.  And, just as part of spending time together, I ended up often sleeping in the one sister’s bed, and then always sleeping in the other’s, once she moved in, too.  We always had a habit of talking after the lights were out, kind of just chatting about anything or nothing – whatever we wanted or needed that night.  It wasn’t usually for very long – maybe five or ten minutes at most – but it was always something I loved, and something I didn’t want to miss out on having by sleeping elsewhere.  There were even the occasions where we all three shared a bed together… those were really great memories for me.  I was literally surrounded by love for me.

Perhaps that’s really why I want stuffed animals in my bed, or pillows, or the touch of someone…, because that is one of the strongest memories I have of being loved and wanted and appreciated and cared for… surrounded by love as I went to sleep at night.

Ha… I’m noticing now how, even at dance events, when we occasionally have crammed three grown people into a queen sized bed, I’ve been totally okay and comfortable with it, and even delighted about it.  The physical presence represents so strongly for me the experience of love, of being loved.  I guess that all goes back to growing as a baby in the womb, huh?  We turn to the fetal position in times of extreme need for love and help… that feeling of being held all around by a safe, loving, omnipotent source of life.  So…, yeah… I’m beginning to think that stuffed animals are more than okay and acceptable – they’re actually a really good idea.  They can help to provide the comfort that we can’t seem to provide on our own, when no one else is physically – or emotionally – around us…

Yeah…

Post-a-day 2020

Disney repeats

I’ve been considering the film version of the Disney musical “The Little Mermaid” tonight. As I found myself not only singing “Poor, Unfortunate Souls” while readying myself for bed, cleaning my teeth and putting in my retainers, but also saying with accurate intonation all the dialogue that exists throughout it and directly after it, I began to wonder if I knew more than I had passively considered. I hadn’t much thought about it, but I was a little bit surprised at my having known even that little bit of dialogue outside of the one song. Once I truly considered it, though, it seemed silly that I would be surprised at this knowledge, for the simple fact that I very likely could dialogue my way through almost the entire film, and with minimal error. The fact is: I know that era of Disney films quite well.

A Japanese friend once asked me, as I sang along to a Lion King song that was playing over a speaker at a Harajuku outdoor shop, why all Americans know the words to Disney songs. I laughed rather hard at her question before answering. My initial thought was, ‘Well, duh – how could we not?’ But I found the reasoning for such an automatic thought, and explained it to her, how Disney films were such a huge part of US culture in the 90s and early 2000s especially, so kJ so that their music became big parts of pop culture, so even people who didn’t watch much of the movies still knew the main songs from them.

That being said, I was one of the people who watched the films over and over again. When I find a movie I love, I tend to watch it regularly and somewhat often (when I’m in a movie phase or mood, anyway). Only the really amazing movies that actually are sad movies or depressing ones are the ones that I tend not to rewatch. The rest of the ones I love, I probably have seen them loads of times, up to dozens, perhaps. And certain Disney films fall into that category of films I have watched an absurd number of times, “The Little Mermaid” being among them. That and “Aladdin” probably have the highest number of viewings for me among the Disney animated films.

And so, it should come as little to no surprise that I would know so many lines from the film, and possibly could recite the whole darn thing. 🙂

Though, that makes it no less absurd that I can do that in the first place… 😛

Post-a-day 2020

Ugh…

What is my story right now? Well, I spend my days hanging around, only doing a workout three times a week, and living vicariously through film and shows, while completely alone in the house.

It’s kind of a weird place to be, really – I feel like so much is close to happening in my life, but it also feels so difficult to do anything these days, with nothing really happening already, and no one even to see on any given day…

Ugh… and Benedict Cumberbatch does a spectacular job of making me want a partner in my life – he plays the adorable, slightly crazy, genius smart-ass quite well, and it really makes me want to have my own. 😀

Anyway… the show actually kind of gives me nightmares, so I can’t watch it after dark, and must pointedly watch something happy before bed, so the Sherlock stories don’t get to me too much at bedtime…. As I said before, I think I might be able five years old, sometimes. 😛

Post-a-day 2020

Movie night(mare)s

My siblings thought it was an acceptable idea to have me watch the original ”Scream” film when it came out. I was five. My mom was furious. But I survived. I even have a sort of affinity for the film, despite the many nightmares it produced throughout my childhood. 😂

Then, “I know what you did last summer” was another they shared with me, only a year later… yikes. Again, though, I survived.

The sequel was freaky but fun for me, because it was possibly the first sequel to release during my lifetime for something that I knew.

At some point, before age nine, they showed me “Jaws”. “Jaws” is actually one of my favorite films – I even read the book recently! – despite the nightmares… and general fear of the ocean… that still exists today… 😂

Frankly, seeing “The Sixth Sense” at my mom’s strong recommendation when I was eight was significantly more traumatizing than any of the others, and I, to this day, have bad dreams and spooky nights because of it…, but that’s for different reasons. “Scream” isn’t very practical or realistic for everyday life.

“Deep Blue Sea” and “Lake Placid”, at age eight, were probably the films that put me over the edge in terms of being comfortable swimming alone in any body of water… I just couldn’t do it – even in the pool at my brothers’ dad’s house, I was somehow convinced that, after I had started to swim away from the wall, someone had opened up a secret panel behind me, and released a shark into the water…., and so I would rush to the other side and wrench myself out of the water as fast as possible, breathing hard… always to find no shark, of course… fortunately, of course…

One of my brothers – one not involved in having me watch the scary movies – had mentioned to me, after his having seen “The Ring” in theatres, that the film was terribly funny due to the fakeness of so much of it… he was the only one laughing during the film, but he was laughing hard at times, he said.

The thought of a scary film’s being funny was new to me, and I considered that I might want to see this film…, but not badly enough to seek it out – I had already written away scary films from my life by that point.

One night, however, years later, I was drawn by a film that came on television, not knowing what film it was. I had an odd feeling that it was “The Ring”, however, and I turned out to be correct in that judgment. Keeping my brother’s idea of humor in mind, I stuck with the film. Frankly, I also found the film quite stupid in many ways, as my brother had suggested and described years beforehand. I was still haunted in dreams by certain aspects of the film, but I recovered much more easily than with any other scary film I had ever seen, and I attributed it to the mentality of laughing at the graphics and illogic of certain visual scenarios within the film – thereby distancing myself from the story itself.

I still stay firmly away from scary films, though, and horror films are a solid no for me, with no question of even discussing them and their subject matter…

I’m almost certain that almost all of my nighttime and dark-alley fears have come from films…, so, perhaps life could have been a lot easier not having the scary films in it…, but perhaps it is just those fears that have me be so prepared for just about anything in life…?

Anyway, the point is that I very much dislike and avoid scary movies (now that I have say and am not a little kid), but I was exposed to several as a young child, yet I survived.

So, if you are watching a film, and discover in the middle that it might be a bit too gory or freaky for a child in the room, don’t worry too much… you’ll probably traumatize them much more with other things in life than with that movie… I don’t encourage the scary films – not at all – but I recommend not panicking too badly, if they end up seeing something you think might be a bit much for them… they’ll survive. 😂