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.)

He-She

I have worked many times with a Japanese man who, despite being quite good with English speaking and understanding, regularly gets people pronouns wrong. “He is coming now,” for a woman preparing to renter a room. “Yes, that’s what she said,” not ironically in reference to something a male we both know said.

I’m not sure if he actually is aware of the fact that he does this, or, at least, that he does it so often as he does.

And, for whatever reason, I kind of really enjoy whenever he does it. I usually don’t even correct him. I only ask for clarification when there is space for confusion, and I want to avoid the confusion. Usually, though, I know exactly whom he means, and it is no concern whatsoever.

And that has me wonder about how important those pronouns are in the first place.

I already know that Siri is fine with the fact that I call her big male and female, depending on the context. But people have something more attached to gender. I have a feeling it is the fact that we are human that we care so much. And yet, part of being human is having gender, even if in a sort of combination of parts (because it is definitely real that people sometimes end up with both male and female reproductive organs). Perhaps those people have the right to be called “they”, since they technically are plural, at least in their genders… 😛 (Can you hear the grammar nerd within me peeping out right now???? ‘Stop messing with grammar, and use the right words, please, or make up new ones.’)

(Or just do what this Japanese guy does, and use whichever pronoun whenever.) 😛

Post-a-day 2021

Blah-blah-blah, hai!

Well, I made it through today. And I even got in a quick walk outside in the direct sunlight. That part was especially awesome (and beneficial). I’ll need to be sure I do the same tomorrow. Our lunch break is even longer tomorrow, though, so I likely can get a much longer walk in there.

It has been interesting doing this all today. I’m working with Japanese folks, talking about Japan. I do this every so often, yet it still surprises me each time how much I find that I want more of it in my life. I have no official reason, yet I want to pursue a certification in Japanese. I want to be at a higher level of conversing. Half the time, I don’t even necessarily want to say anything myself, but it would be nice to have a fuller understanding of all of the conversations and chit-chat and everything. I usually get the general gist of it all, and often understand almost every word. However, there are definitely times when I have understood only a word or few, and have no real idea of what is being said. I know I can survive in Japanese, but I keep finding more and more so that I want to thrive in it.

Man…

Post-a-day 2021

^Only took minor consideration this time

Talk

“The pleasure was All mine.”

What kind of comment is that? I know, I know: it is typical in the US. But how did we get there, and why have we stayed there? It was a pleasure for me, too. I even said so. So, why is someone degrading my experience and my statement, declaring them to be false?

Or had no one considered that that was what was happening when claiming the pleasure all his own, instead of having been shared by us both or all?

Post-a-day 2021

^Still had to think about it, but I got it the first time 😉

Grammar, man

I shared about some grammar concerns today with someone new. It didn’t exactly go very well, so far as accepting and understanding go. I was left with an experience of having been not heard, not believed, not trusted, and considered bizarre in a negative way. I merely shared that there were errors in the copy of almost everything official that I had read by this company, and that I wanted to reach out to the right individual or individuals to begin creating the corrections for all of those errors. I even gave various general examples of the error types that I had found. After doing that, I was asked what kind of errors I had found. I repeated myself almost verbatim in answering the query.

And I know that I care about language and grammar loads more than any average human being is likely even capable of caring – I get that. But it doesn’t make it suddenly not suck when I experience someone not only distrusting and disbelieving me but also verbally responding with words that suggest that I am a negative anomaly in the world. Because it does suck when that happens, and that does happen.

And I get that this person likely was very tired and rather surprised by the concept I was presenting. That also does not make it suddenly not suck, how that person responded to me.

So, I just wanted to share that – that it really sucked in those moments of someone, whether knowingly or not, invalidating me and my concerns for the betterment of this company.

Yeah.

I guess this is an opportunity for me to look at how I might do the same to others, especially when I am tired or sleepy. 🙂

Yeah. 🙂

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

Homophones ;)

I never quite understood what was going on in the song, though I listened to it multiple times… I attributed this to my lack of knowledge on the history being referenced within it…

Even when I watched it happen on the stage, and I listened carefully and understood almost every single word in it, I was still slightly lost… as I considered it afterward, I saw that it just still didn’t quite make sense to me – why such a title and then have the song be talking so much about what it was discussing?

I was guessing that it was showing how problems in the government’s leaders’ lives always had a risk of being life-threatening, and so there were two sides to being in politics at the time (and a third during the war itself, but from an enemy, not an ally)… thus the “dual” of it… the duality, would it be?

Anyway…

It suddenly clicked for me tonight, though, as I prepared myself for sleep, and contemplated Lafayette’s 19 words in under three seconds –

And I’m never gonna stop until I make ‘em
Drop and burn ‘em up and scatter their remains, I’m

Is it “duel” instead of “dual”?! I asked myself in sudden doofusfeeling inspiration.

I quickly checked, and, of course, it is, indeed, the “Ten Duel Commandments”.

Still a play on history and phrasing, but not in the way I was interpreting it… similar, but not really at all the same idea. 😂

Oh, the fun of spelling. 😛

P.S. Extreme gratitude yet again for the beautiful gifts that Lin-Manuel Miranda shares with the world at large… Thank you, good sir… 🙂

P.P.S. Daveed Diggs,…. dude… I kind of love you for your space of fun and for your spectacular precision. 😀

Post-a-day 2020

What’s on your mind?

Every time we log in to Facebook, we are presented with this question: What’s on your mind?

Well, Facebook, painfully annoying stuff is on my mind tonight (and clearly I am not telling you about it 😂).

I’m finally, tonight, allowing myself to accept and experience the hurt I have from today and this past week.

It feels almost like déjà vu, and that seems to be what hurts the most about it all.

For the second time in a very short amount of time, I have met a guy and endeavoured to establish a relationship of friendship with him…, and I have been, while accepted at first, almost immediately denied the opportunity.

They aren’t being mean to me – not intentionally, anyway.

They actually are, in a way, being extremely nice in telling me that they don’t want to continue in the relationship (whatever kind it may be), as opposed to disappearing entirely or just slowly phasing me out of their lives intentionally.

However, what hurts about it all is that it feels like they didn’t even give me a real chance – they say they don’t think our personalities match up, or something like that, but they barely even took the time to discover anything about my personality.

This one, I’m not exactly clear if the comment was BS, in that he was actually just interested in a rebound dating relationship or sex after a recent breakup of his, and I was not sharing that intention in the friendship…

For one thing, can we please just speak honestly and openly about these things?

Would you just tell me what your intentions are, and we can figure out that way if our intentions align, or if we want to make them align?

Secondly, I was under the impression that he had a girlfriend – because he had had one when I had last seen him.

I was necessarily dealing with a mental dilemma, wondering if I was reading incorrectly into his seeming advances, or if he, in fact, was either A)in an open/polyamorous relationship, or B)was actively pursuing someone else despite his being in a relationship.

Whatever between the two, I was absolutely disinterested in being involved in the matter.

What’s more, I was looking for camaraderie or friendship, as I had said.

So, I was confused as to whether I needed to be disturbed with his behavior or whether I was seriously misunderstanding social cues from this person.

That was happening while I still aimed to be nice and un-prying – because who wants to be the person who calls him out on it, and finds out that he is in a loving relationship, and I was just way wrong and totally misread everything? – and give him the benefit of the doubt, that somehow this all could make sense, eventually.

Well, I found out eventually that his relationship had ended.

And then, after little else, he tells me that, ‘out of respect for me, he doesn’t think he’s interested in continuing our relationship.’

Okay… what relationship is that?

The one that never actually started, because I first didn’t understand what on Earth was going on, and then denied your somewhat unclear invitation – I think that’s what it had been intended to be, anyway – for sex?

Or was it for a dating relationship?

I genuinely do Not Know.

Like I said, I wish people just would be straight about this stuff, about their intentions.

I am not offended or the least bit upset, if you tell me that you would like to have sex with me and not have any other sort of relationship with me, or if you tell me that you are only interested in possibly dating me and don’t want to be friends of the dating doesn’t work out, or even if you say that you just want someone to date casually and with little-to-no commitment.

That would give me the chance to re-evaluate the situation, see how I feel about it all, and let you know if we line up or not… instead of your just assuming what my opinion on the matter would be.

I am extremely frustrated when you have clear intentions, but won’t make them clear to me… Just tell me, dang it(!!!).

What sucks so much, is that, had I known the situation ahead of time, I would have had a very different approach to it… I mean, he’s certainly an attractive guy, and I made several delighted grins at things he wrote or said to me… if I had known he was single and looking, I likely wouldn’t have been opposed.

But that isn’t something I can sort out properly in my head in an instant… I need a bit of breathing time to move someone from the ‘unavailable and off-limits’ category to ‘available and interested in me’ one…

Anyway…

I don’t know where I’m going with this right now… I’m just frustrated and hurt that, once again, a guy wasn’t straight with me, and so he has no idea what my thoughts or opinions are on the matter, but he decided he wanted to cut off all communication with me…

I’m an amazing person, and I truly know that.

It doesn’t mean this isn’t still frustrating, though.

What’s with people?

A friend said to me about it earlier that this seems to be something like a Millennial thing: The moment something starts to get uncomfortable, they ditch.

Granted, I’m not actually a Millennial, but the fad seems to be seeping into those near enough in age, and I am starting to feel like I have too many of those in my life right now.

Today, different people in two very different contexts told me that I am a lot to handle (and they didn’t mean it as an insult), both of them men.

One even said that most people are too superficial for me, and so my deepness and interest in being with people for real, on a real level, is hard for people who are used to living on the surface.

My cousin, in another unrelated conversation, mentioned to me that relationships with people can, in fact, develop beautifully and easily by people being straight and open and deep from the start with one another, as is evidenced by my relationship with my conversation exchange partner.

She brought that up on her own.

Another man told me, ‘You are a special woman. Remember that!’

I never thought a woman I [hardly know] could affect my life with such intensity.

Today, three different men and a woman affirmed voluntarily, with no request or prompt from me, that I am a wonderful person and am totally worth it, deserving of the best.

When does that happen in a single day?

Yet, what fills my mind is the one man who never even gave me a chance.

Why do our brains do this?

::big siiiigggggghhhhh………

I think I just need to experience and embrace this frustration, so I can let it all go.

Pick up, and release…

I’m hoping for a freeing feeling tomorrow…

Post-a-day 2020

Pride and Prejudice and Candor

I am currently rereading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, as I tend to do about once every year or so.

[If you haven’t read it and you care to, be forewarned that plot ‘spoilers’ ensue.]

Tonight, listening to the audiobook – yes, I count it as reading, though I could argue against it in a way – while I rearranged and tidied my room, mostly folding laundry (one of my biggest struggles in daily life so far, laundry is), I was struck particularly in the section of Mr. Darcy’s proclamation of love and request of Elizabeth’s hand in marriage.

The whole reason things work out in the end is because, in going against all standards of propriety, Eliza speaks openly and honestly of her opinion of Mr. Darcy.

Sure, it is an opinion formed by false and inaccurate information, but these errors could never have been remedied had she not mentioned them so vehemently in their few minutes of true candor with one another – a few minutes which were quite irregular in society at the time.

And then, I thought, a few minutes which are quite irregular in society here, now…

How might things be so drastically different, if we were open and honest with one another as they were in that brief interview?

Would more problems be caused, or would more be solved?

Perhaps, at first, more problems would arise than we would feel we could handle…, but then, with practice, I think we would learn how to live differently, communicate differently, such that an unbelievably high number of problems would be resolved by the new way of interacting with one another with true yet kind candor.

It isn’t that everyone would be running around, insulting everyone else all the time… merely that, when asked, we would speak honestly of our opinions and our thoughts on matters.

Knowing that people would be honest, perhaps some questions would not be asked…, but, knowing that honesty would be given, perhaps more questions would be asked, the asker knowing that no offense need be taken from the answer – it would not be contrived, but merely honest.

It reminds me, too, of how, in the Bis(s) zum book series (a beloved German read of mine), the one group of individuals suddenly obtain the ability (?) to hear one another’s thoughts collectively, always – they cannot avoid sharing a thought, nor avoid hearing a thought of another in the group.

One’s pain is, in a way, experienced by all, and the same with joy and anger and any other experience, as they all hear one another’s thoughts, almost as though the thoughts are their own.

They all care for one another and support one another, and the exposure of the deepest and darkest and most embarrassing of thoughts of any one member, at some point or other, must be accepted by the others, if they are to remain together in life – so long as they live, they will know the thoughts of one another, all of the thoughts.

And they, despite learning these dark and embarrassing thoughts of one another, and of unwillingly exposing their own, eventually draw even closer to one another, their bonds made even deeper by the shared thoughts…

And I find that lovely.

How might the world be different, if we learned to share like this with our loved ones in life… and to love one another knowing these thoughts of one another…?

If we dropped our pride and our prejudice, and listened to the innermost thoughts and fears and wishes and concerns of those around us, and shared our own in return, would we suddenly be able to love more deeply than we had ever imagined possible, live more profoundly than ever we dreamed?

Anyway…, some food for thought, I guess you could say.

(Though I kind of just want some actual food right now…)

Post-a-day 2020