Cleanliness

It’s amazing how a clean (or not clean) space makes a world of a difference. I am staying st my aunt and uncle’s house for a few days right now, and so have been somewhat stressed because of the lack of cleanliness left by the last person who stayed here while they were gone. I have been wanting to leave since the day I got here, in a way… I want to be in my own, clean home setting, not here where almost every surface has something icky on it, floors included, and chairs, too… something I have to clean just to be able to use the surface… Of course, the necessary cleaning supplies are in short supply right now, so I had to use them with extreme discretion and rationing, not allowing me to clean all surfaces and floors… ugh…

The last time I stayed here a month without hesitation, and I only left because I had to leave for something back in Houston. Very different experiences here.

I feel like a Sophie Kinsella main character right now, wishing that cleanliness were part of the law. 😛

Anyway… so, there’s that, and it has been bugging me and I am ready to go home tomorrow as soon as I can (after my tutoring, which will go possibly all the way to 2pm).

Ugh… irony can be really annoying sometimes. Haha 😛

Post-a-day 2020

Campfire Music

Tonight, around a campfire, a semi-eclectic crowd of Catholic artists listened as I and a lovely younger girl Claudette performed on our ukuleles together. We had never met before this night, and only met because I agreed to bring out my ukulele to ‘give an alternate perspective’ for the typical campfire Christian guitar songs (and we had three guitars working together already), and, as I went up to play, someone mentioned having seen a ukulele with someone else a while ago. The guitar guys convinced her to pull out hers with me, and come play. No one had any idea I was about to play a German song that none of them were likely to know, but I figured we could roll with it – if the girl pulled out her uke so easily (though it wasn’t out of the case yet, and she was carrying a binder, too, so she had some hesitation hat likely was nerves), she must be able to play at least the basic chords, if not a great amount.

So, I showed her the song and we tuned her up and went through it quickly together quietly, and then someone actually made an announcement for everyone to listen to us play. I pointed out that Claudette was reading a language she didn’t understand for this, so please be very proud of how well she plays along, because that is not an easy thing to do…, and then we played. We made mistakes, and it still sounded awesome.

Then, because people just seem to do this, the guitar guys requested Iz’s “Over the Rainbow”, which both of us have but never play. It’s kind of a hassle simply due to the range going so low for the singing…, which we both proved to everyone while we fumbled through it together, laughing kind of often as we went. Afterward, we actually played a couple other songs well, and enjoyed them greatly. The other folks enjoyed them, too.

One of them was the first song in her notebook, “La Vie en Rose”, and, since her version was in English, we had her sing in through once off the paper, and then I sang it through once in French… which totally shocked the listeners, and was a way fun surprise. (By the way, I feel like I am sharing as though I am a middle or high schooler or something… :P) What was extra fun was the part where I suddenly realized that I genuinely have no idea what the very last line is, and so I simply shrugged just before it, and then sang, “Je ne sais pas les mots, mais c’est bon,” which translates to, “I do not know the words, but it’s okay.” Obviously, no one had any idea that I had made up that line. 😛

And we finished off with two collaborations with the guitar guys. The first was a semi-four chord song, so, since I couldn’t see the paper (remember, there are here guitar guys and then two of us), I just watched Claudette’s fingers to know which of the four chords was happening when out of sequence. It went surprisingly well for me… it was really cool. On the second song, the paper was on our side of the notebook, so I could see it for myself. And it was one of my favorite old songs from Church, about Samuel, who was Hannah’s child. But I liked the song long before I ever learned that connection… like a solid decade beforehand. Anyway, two guys claimed the first two versus, and said we all would sing the bird verse together (and choruses, of course). But, during the second round of the chorus, I was told/offered to sing the third verse myself. So, I did. And, halfway through, because the versus were rather long, I told Claudette to sing with me. And she did.

Singing with her reminds me of elementary school, when I was told that this one girl, Katie C—, and I sounded really great together on a certain song (“The White Cliffs of Dover”). I didn’t entirely understand at the time how anyone would know that, or how someone would sound better singing with one person than with another, except for the fact that he one person must just be a better singer than the other. I have since learned. And I was almost shocked tonight when I heard us singing together. Our voices and styles are quite different from one another, and yet they complement each other beautifully. It made me want to sing and play more with her. I hope I get the opportunity tomorrow and often in the future.

As we were closing up the campfire, it came out that this was my first public “performance” of my ukulele and singing skills, so to speak, and no one could seem to believe it. I guess because I wasn’t shaky, and was able to talk and play and sing like what seemed to them like any other normal day. But that’s training in presenting and self-comfort, not in performing music. In response to their claims of disbelief at this, I ended up sharing how I only just starting playing more and writing songs earlier this summer, so it is still a kind of new idea for me to be playing for other people in the first place. And so, now, they clamoured to hear one of my songs.

So, I accepted the anointed guitar the priest had been playing – because that’s just baller, y’all – and told a quick background to one of my songs, and then played it for everyone. And I think the back story really put a context to the song that kind of blew everyone away just a little bit. It actually made me tear up a bit during the song, as is common for me with this particular song… it’s just really good, and the meaning is spectacular when one knows the context of its writing. Anyway, so, that was a really, really cool mini-adventure tonight. And I am very grateful for it, on many accounts. Now, however, I must sleep.

Goodnight! 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Frenching

Today, I posed a question to myself. Though, I didn’t actually have words to the question until after I answered it. You see, I was looking at myself in the mirror, about to go downstairs to go on an afternoon walk (since I still can’t run after my accident three weeks ago). In my head was French and the excitement of living in France as an adult – something I have only dreamt of doing, but have tasted as a student – due to this Netflix show called Emily In Paris.

I was somewhat lonesome today, and wanted a movie or series to keep me company while I cooked for a long while. I somehow ended up with Emily In Paris, and fell in love. We had a full and satisfying relationship all day long today (think Jim Gaffigan on Netflix shows being like dating), and I was taking an unwanted but necessary break to go on my walk (got to get those hundred miles in somehow). And so, I’m looking in the mirror, French and Frenchmen and France and chocolatines in my head. And I somehow answer this unsaid question aloud, in French.

I say first, before seeing myself in the mirror, “Bah ouais. Je ne parle pas le français comme langue maternelle. Ce n’est pas ma langue maternelle. Mais j’adore le parler….”

Pourquoi ? someone asks in my head.

“Parce que quand je parle le français…, je me sens…,” and I now look directly at myself in this Masaie mirror on the wall, halted just before the first step downward. “Je me sens… un peu sexy…,” and I smile as I admit it, adding raised eyebrow as and a head tilt at the second feeling, “tellement à l’aise… et,” and this last is he hardest to admit, “comme quelqu’un qui en vaut l’envie. Je veut dire, quelqu’un qui mérite être envié…,” and I look at myself with these words having been said aloud, experiencing the fullness of their truth, and somewhat being that person envying his girl in the mirror – woman in the mirror – and I smile, fully content in that moment, give one final glance to the freckles around my nose, and head down the stairs and out the front door for a hearty walk in the chilly late afternoon air, under the overcast, Fall sky.

As I began my walk, I realized that my unsaid question – it felt a bit like playing Jeopardy, I suppose 😛 – was, “Why learn a foreign language?”

I contemplated this on my walk, and even recorded myself for a bit, just to see what it was like as a means of keeping track of my thoughts. (It was cool, but I’m not sure it is my style for sharing those thoughts with others.) I repeated my earlier statements on speaking French, but added the question to the beginning, and continued my statements with a further idea: When I speak English, these are not the ways that I feel. By speaking French, I have discovered and continue to discover things within myself that I previously had not known. By speaking a language different from my native language, I get to experience myself and life in a new way. And that is possibly the best and most valuable part of speaking a different language.

And, to be clear, this is not due simply to saying words in a foreign tongue. It is by having learned the language, which means experiencing its people and culture, as well as its use, that I have gained access to these formerly-foreign parts of myself. It is the Frenchness within me that I have learned and found throughout the process of learning to speak French, the language. I always support immersion as a necessary part of learning a language, because the language and culture not only go hand in hand, but cannot be separated from one another and still remain true to who and what they are.

So, why learn a foreign language? To discover how life and you are better than you ever imagined. 😉

Yeah 🙂

P.S. For those who do not know French and have not already stuck that paragraph into Google Translate, what I had said roughly translates in English to, “Well, yeah. I don’t speak French like a native speaker. I’m not a native speaker of French. But I love speaking it. Why? Because, when I speak French, I feel… I feel… a bit sexy…, entirely at ease…, and that I am someone worth envying.”

Post-a-day 2020

Some thoughts on sex and marriage

******Warning: potentially uncomfortable content here, though no intention of being offensive in any way. Just giving you a heads up that it talks about sex and some uncommonly publicly discussed topics.********

A friend was talking to me recently about the seeming pointlessness of honeymoons for the average couples nowadays. Typically, they are already having sexual intercourse with one another before marrying, and most have at least some version of living together, be it that one stays over st the other’s place often/regularly, or that they actually do live together. The whole purpose of a honeymoon was for a couple, in many senses, to get to know one another and to grow comfortable being together in an intimate way, that being physically, emotionally, and sexually.

And I tend to wonder with this friend on his particular topic: Is the honeymoon really anything special or valuable most of the time anymore? Is it not merely just a vacation together, and likely not the first?

So, I was thinking about the Fifty Shades books this evening, and a conversation I was having with a different friend last night. We were discussing shaving and laser hair removal at one point, and found ourselves discussing, in a space of somewhat silly comfort, personal preferences of shaving, as well as various cultural theories on pubic hair in terms of sexual intimacy and pleasure. For example, when I did some research on The Vagina Monologues several years ago, I heard a good handful stories from women that really stuck with me, as they were about how physically uncomfortable they women were when they shaved off all of their pubic hair. A few of them had gone to marriage counseling, and the therapist had recommended they shave fully, because their husbands liked it, and that would help their sexual and therefore whole relationship. But these women were in actual pain during intercourse, when they had no pubic hair… and that idea blew my mind.

You see, I grew up with significantly older sisters who were in the category of ‘shave almost everything, but leave a touch for aesthetic purposes’. I also heard about their sexual lives, whether anyone paid attention to that or not. This idea that women would be in physical pain not having their pubic hair was very striking for me. And hat they would have pain during intercourse was even more striking… that’s meant to be one of the most pleasurable experiences in life, yet it had become something of torture for these women… and even with men they loved.

So, we were talking about all of this, gently yet honestly and openly, and something eventually brought up a reference to the Fifty Shades books. So, tonight, the books came back to mind, and I somehow found myself thinking of Fifty Shades’s various sexual activities, and wondering if the average couple every bothered to explore any of those activities, or if they kind of just told each other, ‘I like this,’ and left it at that.

And then I wondered if they even tell each other anything about their likes and dislikes sexually, let alone discussed exploring it all together newly.

And it hit me that that is exactly what could be accomplished on a honeymoon for the average couple nowadays. I fully believe that a relationship works best with continuous effort and intention and communication on all of this – it is not a one-time thing. However, it is often not an easy topic for most people to broach, and a honeymoon just seems like an easy enough in for such a conversation, be it verbal or only physical. A honeymoon was originally established as a means of growing comfortable together. Why can people not still have it be that?: a growing opportunity. Then, hopefully, even of a couple has been together for years, sexually active together for years, perhaps they can explore together sexually, and discover not only new bings they each like and dislike, but also find a new depth to their relationship and intimacy, a further comfort they may or may not have noticed was lacking before.

It’s not a perfect idea, but it is one I think is worth pursuing. Especially for the people who feel that one must have sex with another before marriage, so as not to be stuck with someone where the chemistry is just a mess, or something like that, the honeymoon could be a real opportunity for paying special attention to sexual exploration and comfort for both members of the marriage, in a way they never had before then. It’s not about visiting sights in a foreign land, but about visiting sights and experiences with one another that have been foreign or frightening (in terms of comfort, not safety) thus far, with risk of embarrassment. That, ‘I’ve always wondered about that,’ sexual activity could be a huge part of exploring together on a honeymoon.

Anyway… just my two cents from tonight’s casual thinking. Take it or leave it, as you wish. 😉 Though, I’m totally hoping you take it with you and share it. ;D

Post-a-day 2020

Walking again

Well, feeling better but still not fully well. I am extremely grateful that my head is no longer pulsing or pounding – that was rough, and on top of feeling ill in the first place… yuck.

I potentially have a lot to handle tomorrow, but most of it is likely to be extremely satisfying to have handled, and the least satisfying stuff pays reasonably well, so it has a literal payoff for the annoyance. I want to start being more active again, but, due to my testing every couple or few days, I know I have to be extremely careful wth my leg. This bone bruise demands respect, in a way, and I want to give it more than it demands and all that it deserves. I want it to heal beautifully and effectively, so I’ll be using it minimally still for a while. But I think it is safe to io the activities a bit. I went for a walk with my mom yesterday morning, and I managed over a mile of semi-fast walking without any pains. It wasn’t until I was getting close to a mile and a half straight that my leg began to tell me that it wanted to rest for a long while. So I can definitely get into some daily walking now, I think. Of course, I will pay close attention and end immediately any activity that feels unhelpful or painful for my leg. I just want to keep the rest of my body running well, despite this injury. I’ve been noticing already too many aches and pains from lack of use these past two weeks. It is time to be more active now that my body has the energy for it again, and isn’t in overdrive healing mode anymore, leaving me wiped by early afternoon, no matter the day’s activities.

Fingers crossed!

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

Friday Night

There is nothing quite like an utter exhaustion at the end of a Friday in a desk-job workweek during a health pandemic to make one concerned about carrying a big-deal virus. It is extremely doubtful that I am actually sick here, because I genuinely just get worn the full out at such jobs, but it is slightly disconcerting, nonetheless.

Fortunately, I was paid well for my efforts this week, helping out someone in need just for the week.

Also, super fun fact: I signed a contract today for my new part-time job. Yippee!!

Now, off to sleep.

We shall see how I feel when my alarm sounds ridiculously early tomorrow morning. As for now, I am passing the full out for the next several hours… whatever my status, sleep is the immediate answer for resolving its ailments. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Lend a helping hand… from a distance, of course

On my way home tonight, tired, I pulled up to a stoplight and waved with a shake of my head to a young guy slightly shaking a small red gas can toward me in an almost greeting. As I come to a full stop, I hear him say aloud, “I’m not even asking for any money.”

I crack the passenger window – automatic in my just-picked-up new car!!! – a bit and ask him for what he is asking. He tells me he just needs a ride, his bike was towed, and he’s been trying to get help for hours.

I wasn’t sure about the scenario… I’ve always ridden with the tow truck when having a vehicle towed. Perhaps he parked illegally and had the bike towed.

“Where are you needing to go?” I ask him.

“Just 45 and the beltway,” he says, as though that isn’t a half-hour drive away by highway.

“North or south?”

“South.”

Yup. Half an hour. And in the opposite direction of my home.

I nyackered, and don’t want to be driving for another hour. He is also looking rather sweaty and I just picked up this brand new car. I don’t exactly want a sweaty person in it ever, but especially not at this moment. Not that that would be my reason to deny helping him, but it is a factor. Really, I don’t want to spend half an hour in any car with this unknown kid/guy. His desperation makes his space a little rough and hard to read.

“I’d even give you money like an Über… that’s really all I need.” He has kept talking, but I’ve not been paying full attention to his words.

“What kind of bike do you have?”

“A Suzuki,” he says.

“Yeah, but what kind?”

He tells me some numbers… perhaps a 300 something?… I drive a 300cc Vespa…, so that isn’t a very hefty bike, if that’s what he said… No, he didn’t say 300, but I don’t know what he said…

I didn’t really listen to his words – just that they were the right kind of words, naming an actual type of motorcycle, and hey had no hesitation to them. They were simply a statement in response to a question. And that’s what I wanted.

The light had turned green.

“Shit,” I say, and I pause just a moment before saying, “I’ll meet you at the gas station.” I point as I say this to the gas station on the corner, through the intersection where I was stopped. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do, but I would figure it out without the pressure of a green light and cars waiting behind me.

Seconds later, as I pulled into the lot, I knew I would get him an Über. I didn’t really want to be alone with him – after all, I was then parking in a specifically lighted area next to the building of the gas station, because his vibe was just enough off that I wanted to stay in the light and visible with him around – and I had the added aspects of exhaustion and keeping the car clean.

When he made it over to me, I was leaning on the hood of my car, pulling up Über on my phone. I knew there was a reason I kept this app on my phone, and even logged it back in. Thank you, Universe, World, and God for that.

I pulled up where he wanted to go – and yes, it was 27 minutes away – and ordered a car for him. Why didn’t he just order one himself? He apparently left his phone in his bike. The bike whose carburetor had blown, requiring it to be towed. He had just grabbed his stuff out of the bike in a hurry and let it go, not realizing until afterward that his phone was still with it.

He looked disheveled enough and carried the right odd mixture of bags for this to be believable. Trust me, when I have unexpectedly had to stop somewhere while on my bike (Vespa), I have definitely walked inside with the oddest-looking set of “baggage”.

I didn’t see a helmet with him, but I didn’t want to find out that he rode without one, and a small part of me didn’t want to tear apart his story enough to disprove it. His desperation to get home was real, and that, apparently, was enough for me. Whether his story was true or not, I appreciated his effort in making it all up and having details enough to go with it. Though, in full frankness, he did not strike me as someone to come up with much backstory detail when trying to pull a fast one on somebody. I mean no offense by that statement. Most people wouldn’t come up with much backstory in a scenario ahead of time. So, I was hoping he was in the most people category, and so was just genuinely telling the truth (or, at least, his version of it). But, just in case, I didn’t want to find out that he wasn’t. So, I didn’t ask about the helmet, nor did I ask any further questions. I knew what I needed to know: He needed help, and he was grateful to have found it.

He said he had been there for hours, trying to get help from somebody. Obviously that was to no avail until I stopped for him. I didn’t mention to him that he was in the wrong neighborhood for looking as he did, and expecting someone to pick him up and drove him half an hour away… or anywhere at all. This was a Mercedes and Tesla and Range Rover neighborhood around us right now. They don’t give people rides off the side of the road. But they might give you a dollar or few just for standing there.

If I hadn’t picked up the new car, and had been in my old one, it would have made sense that I had stopped. I in my crappy-looking 2002 Hyundai, with duct tape and peeled paint all over the place, crank windows, and only three door handles that work… it would have been obvious that I didn’t belong in that neighborhood’s genre of people, had I been in that car. But I had just picked up the new one, the one I am leasing, and so I almost seemed to fit into the crowd of shiny expensive cars all around. Nonetheless, I was not one of them, and the fact that I stopped and invested my time (and money) into this kid showed as much (to me, anyway).

I was proud of the fact that I had grown up in that neighborhood, yet was the one who was willing to stop to help, to give my time to someone in need, in a sudden desperate situation. Even though I didn’t wasn’t to mess with it, I found myself doing it anyway, because it just felt necessary for this poor kid’s sake.

I think he was in college, at the University of Houston, because he was wearing a UofH mask and had something else I don’t specifically recall that made him seem like a student there. He also had the physical look and mental space of a college student, or someone very near that age, anyway. He spoke on the younger side of life, not as a college graduate. I think he thought I was the same age, and not over half as much more. But that was okay.

He shared of his concern that Coronavirus was keeping people away, scared to help him. Had my life changed much because of the virus? I told him an extremely brief version of my running incident the other week, and how the people were too afraid to help me as I lay in the road. But, otherwise, my life wasn’t all that different than pre-Coronavirus.

He told me about his name on Facebook while we waited for the car, and I smiled at the genuine sweetness. He was clearly grateful, and he was relieved beyond explanation. There was no denying that.

As he was getting into the Über, he reminded me to ‘”send that request”. I smiled and said comfortably that I probably wouldn’t. He smiled back and said, “Okay,” not so much disappointed as understanding of my honesty and my lack of desire to send him a friend request on Facebook.

Man sieht sich immer zweimal im Leben.

If it is meant to be, our paths will cross again at some point, at least once more.

Twenty-nine minutes later, after I’d gotten home and was already getting ready for bed, about to shower, I received the notification that my Über ride was completed. He had been dropped off right by a gas station that is at the entrance to a neighborhood, and not just at the mall, as he had told me to input for the ride. It was only a few streets from the mall, but on the other side of the highway. I think he probably lives in the neighborhood there, and the driver offered to take him more to where he was going than just the mall as a whole, and on the opposite side of the highway. I was glad to see that. And relieved.

What an adventure, eh? And all I did was go home, and be nice along the way. It cost me only a few minutes of my time and $29.93. Whatever the guy’s real story, I was glad to have been able to help him get where he needed to be. Yes, that is a lot more money to me than to most people. But it felt right and worth it to pay for this kid’s ride home. For whatever reason, he was desperate and needed it. And I had it, and wasn’t desperate.

“Just pay it forward, okay?” He seemed slightly confused, probably thinking I meant actual money for the Über driver. “Do something to help someone else now.” And he understood, both that I wasn’t expecting him to pay me or the driver anything, and that I wanted him to pay forward the kindness.

And that felt right.

So, I’ll see ya when I see ya, Alfred. I hope you get yourself more organized and at ease by then than you were tonight, and I wish you all the best going forward.

Second interview – the one-on-one – is tomorrow at noon. Yippee!

At this point, I am at ease to the fact that either I will get the job or I will not get the job. Whichever happens is perfect somehow – I’ll just need to be open and searching as to how so, whatever the case.

So, while I am a bit nervous, I’m kind of not at all anxious. It will happen one way or another, and I will be doing an amazing job of sharing what I have to offer with the world. And I look forward with gratitude and love and joy at that prospect each and every day and night.

At that, I bid you goodnight.* 😉

*At nine oh nine…. clearly I am exhausted. Haha 😛

Post-a-day 2020