A Retirement for the Day

We had a lovely retirement party for my uncle this evening… 35 years working for the same company, doing, essentially, the same work, day after day… completed.

Of course, we are not exactly permitted to be together for a party, so we did a Zoom video conference party – which, actually, allowed even more people to come than would have been able to make it even if we had been allowed to have the party in person, and saved All of us loads of time in driving, and even allowed for last-minute (literally) guests to join the party – and made it a total surprise for my uncle.

I ended up organizing the call, since I was the most apt to figure such computer-y things out, as well to manage a group of people and make things happen the way we want them to happen, and so I arranged with everyone (via a liaison I enlisted – aka my cousin who was originally put in charge of organizing things, but who quickly handed them to me, when we discovered his lack of and my having experience in such a thing) when to meet and how, explained the goal of the quick conference and how it would run, offered up and accepted my mother’s ridiculous idea of our all singing, “For he’s a jolly good fellow”, after the initial surprise – yes, we had discussed how we would be all out of synch, but that that merely would add to the enjoyment of my aunt and uncle, who would be the recipients of our group singing – and informed my aunt that we were all ready.

The surprise was lovely, the singing hilarious; the photo I was asked to share was a hit; the ‘quick five, max ten minutes’ for the call turned into 45 minutes; as arranged, my aunt went through and had each of us say something individually, and lots of tears happened, even from those who avoid tears, especially for such occasions as this public one; and we all had a lovely time from all across the country, and even down to El Salvador.

Also, fun fact: the grandparents (my grand, that is) couldn’t quite get the technology to work for video conferencing, due to their having older phones, and so they each were Skyped or telephoned in and held up to the computer screens of others, so that they, too could be part of the celebration, despite their lack of technology or technological skills. 😛

It was adorable.

In short, it was a spectacular 21st century retirement party, in more ways than one.

Our family is no stranger to long-distance and cross-country calling and video calling (and jut working with what we’ve got and making it work wonderfully) – we have had our fair share of people living here or there around the country and world – but this was the first entirely digital event we have had…

And it was actually really quite cool.

Technology is quite spectacular, when we allow it to do its best and we use it well.

I express tonight extreme gratitude to all those who have played a role in the development in technology connected to what our family used today – thank you, all.

Post-a-day 2020

Saturday

(I’ve decided to share about Class 101: the laughing out loud class, instead of 100, so that’ll come next week.)

I went to the workout this morning, and it was rather uneventful but that my friend and I finished second in the workout, and there were a lot of people there today… we just found a beautiful way to get through the push-ups, and it worked perfectly – when other people seemed to take forever on the push-ups, we slammed through them quite quickly.

After the workout, I practiced and improved my double-under jump roping, and was glad for it.

I then went home and made a spice cake from the grain-free/flour-free zucchini brownie recipe I’ve been using, but this time used cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger instead of cocoa powder… and it was delicious.

I discovered that I have no interest in going to Minute Maid Park, due to their security requirements that prevent me from having any form of protection, as well as a reusable water bottle (even empty)…, and so I did not go to the Astros game to which I had been just invited.

I did go to a house party – not the jammin’, drug kind, but the friends hanging out together kind – instead, and it was wonderful.

However, on the way to the party, on my way to stop at the new grocer to pick up plates that were requested for the party, I found myself at a stoplight next to car crammed with young guys (adults, but still younger than I am) who clearly had just played a soccer game together – the matching jerseys and sweaty hair kind of gave that one away.

As I turned and saw the front seat guys looking my way, the back window rolled down, and three faces looked out at me, smiling.

“I like you’re scooter.”

Ha…, “Thanks.”

“Does it go fast?”

I shrug, knowing fully that their borderline joking comment is about to choke them, “I’ve gone eighty on it,” I say, quite casually.

Their eyes pop open wider than one could have imagined, and their mouths opened wide, ready to catch some flies…

Eighty?!

“Mmhmm… It’s a big scooter, 300ccs,” I add quickly, smiling, before driving off, for the light has turned to green.

At the next stoplight, the car pulls next to me again, the back window still down, the boys smiling bigger than ever.

“Long time no see,” they laugh together.

I laugh and smile broadly.

“Do y’all know where the HEB is?” I ask, having just been wanting to be able to ask someone (which was why I had even looked over to their car in the first place).

“Yeah! It’s on this street,” one says, pointing forward and to the right side a bit, confirming my thoughts.

“Okay, thanks!”

“Are you going grocery shopping?”

“Can you put your groceries on there?”

“Are you going to carry groceries on that?”

“Do you need help?”

The sudden rapid fire of their near-simultaneous questions knocks me back a tad, and makes me smile and chuckle even more than I already had been doing.

“Yes, I can carry groceries, yes, I’m going to the store now,” – “Really?” – “and no, I don’t need help.”

I then drive off again at the newly green light, and see them take off not far behind me.

As I slow and pull into the HEB parking lot, I both see and hear them passing me one final time, saying a few more positive comments that make me laugh (though I do not at present remember what exactly they were – I was focused on the turn and figuring out the parking lot and watching out for stupid people in cars in the lot, but I remember that they were pleasant comments of well-wishing).

I enter the garage fully chuckling fro the hearty spot on my belly, lips super wide on their glorious, teeth-filled grin position – I just had my first fanboys, I think to myself, and smile all over again.

Post-a-day 2019

Yearbooks

***Update on the ant bite: My bicep still rocks, but the bite swelled and split open this morning, only to close up, turn green in the middle again, and start swelling again… we’ll see how it looks in the morning, now! (And the coach’s bites did not turn green, he said, but one was hurting a lot.)***

We now return to regular programming.

There is a guy working with me who graduated high school with my youngest brother.

I pulled out the yearbook from their senior year today, and had a brief look through the senior photos.

I enjoyed how much hair this guy and my brother both had in their photos, and how they both have almost none now, and both keep their heads shaved (though my brother uses a razor, and the other guy only seems to buzz it as short as possible).

One thing I noted was that their service work locations seemed almost stereotypical for each of them…. interesting, perhaps.

Something bigger, however, was the other people I found in the yearbook.

I crossed names of people whose faces I knew not, but whose names I knew well from my brother – how fun to put faces to the names, even almost two decades after the fact.

And then I realized that I finally had the opportunity to look up and remember my brother’s best friend’s full name – I forgot his middle name a few years back, and haven’t recalled it since…. I just always thought it was fascinating, because he was the fourth with the name, so he had a “, IV” at the end of his legal name.

And I use the past tense here, because he died at the start of their sophomore year of college.

It was drinking and a bit of drugs at a party, and everyone thought he’d simply fallen asleep, but, of course, he hadn’t… I’ve always remembered most that my brother was invited to that same party, but chose to work on his absurd amount of homework, instead (thank you, UT Architecture program [not for the first time]).

And so J—– died at the party, and my brother spoke at the funeral, at the request of J—-‘s family, and he did a wonderful job.

My mom and I also attended the funeral, along with a lot of people.

After the funeral, since J—- had always said that he wanted to go out with pinwheels and fireworks, we (a handful of select people that happened to include my mom and me) went to an open land area across from a movie theatre, and set off a bunch of little rockets and a few big shebang fireworks (the pinwheels had decorated the casket) – it was a true party and celebration to send off J—- and to say goodbye together.

When I came across his name today, I was delighted – I finally have it(!).

And then I gave his photo a good look.

And it was almost terrifying as an experience, though terrifying just is not quite the right word…

It suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time I’d seen a photo of J— since around the time of the funeral – I’d only had mental visions of him since then.

It was weird to think that, u like my brother and that other guy, J— had not aged from this photo… maybe two years’ worth of aging, but that was little different from the boy who sat in the frame that is in front of me now.

These were posed senior portraits for the yearbook, and so they each are looking directly at the camera…, directly at the viewer of the photograph… J—- was no exception…

And it was spooky, knowing that those eyes, so true and almost penetrating in this photo, were no longer here, no longer existed.

And then, it had me wonder how many people in this book, this yearbook are no longer around?

And that was perhaps even spookier…

I had to move on to other things then, both in terms of productivity and in terms of an emotional desire to step away from the increasing discomfort and potential sadness of what sat before me, visually and mentally, at that moment, and so I closed the book, put it back in its place, and walked away.

I soon had tears in my eyes, and the feeling of hollowness just behind the bottom of my ribs was growing.

Now, hours later and many tasks and conversations later, I feel less afraid, and more aware of the fleeting aspect of life, the circumstances that allow us a promise of a chance at everything, and at a chance of it all going away at any moment, in a moment’s time…

On my way up to the house where I am housesitting tonight, I passed their church, where J—-‘s funeral had been… I think of him every time I pass it (though that doesn’t happen too often), because it’s the only thing I’ve ever attended there…

……

I don’t have anything insightful about this… I just wanted to share…

Post-a-day 2019

Pity party

Some days, I think I’ve just got to go ahead and pity myself… not so much as a big deal or anything, saying how sad this and what a poor, poor dear I am…, but as a short and sweet, compact little pity party.

We talk about how part of facing our fears is being able first to name them… and I think my little spells of depression can relate much to that idea.

I always acknowledge that I feel I am sucking at life…, but I don’t ever really list it out, say it all out loud.

Tonight, I kind of did in a phone call to my mom… sure, she had some not-so-uplifting, but true things to say, and that didn’t help much in the moment, but it was a good reminder for now.

However, by stating all these things where I felt like I was totally sucking at life, it was like putting a name and face to my current sources of this panicky depressive state from this past week and weekend.

‘This sucks and this sucks, and I feel this way because of this, which totally sucks…., and I feel like a total crap woman because of this, and a total failure in this part of my life, because of this…, etc.’

And I cried a little as I said them, though not lots.

And, now, I feel significant improvement… almost good.

I think I was resisting feeling miserable, because I was ashamed of the circumstances in the first place, and disappointed in my being upset in the second…. and by declaring each upset, without getting all dramatic and angry or anything, by just stating what each piece was, I was able to being letting it all go, letting it all let go of me…

I didn’t tell everything to my mom, so not everything is freed, but everything I told her is mostly totally over for me now.

(There’s one final piece to my weekend stress, and I’m not quite ready to let it go, so I’ll reevaluate it in the morning, if I even still remember it, and I suspect things will go very well after that point.)

So, it seems to me* that this little miniature version of a pity party, in which I say out loud all of the sucky things going on for me in life at the moment, is actually a practical and beneficial means of letting it all go and moving forward with empowerment.

Who’da thunk that a pity party ever would be the answer to truly good things in life? 😛

Maybe that’s why we started them in the first place… we just tend to have a little (read ‘a lot of’) trouble with keeping our words simple and not intensely and immensely dramatic…

Post-a-day 2019

*Dagny would be furious, I know! 😛

Instant (Tickle Fight) Friends

In middle school, a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers one day, and I somehow ended up invited to that friend’s birthday party, which was, I believe, the upcoming weekend.

I knew very little about this girl, but I got her some kind of present and showed up to the party.

At the party, I knew few people, but really, really hit it off with the birthday girl – we created our own no-hands cake-eating contest (just the two of us, while everyone watched), and, because we were having such a good time together, turned the birthday party into a birthday slumber party, having girls call their parents (or check with them as they arrived originally to pick up their daughter) to request staying and having a change of clothes delivered.

During the slumber portion of the evening, when everyone was splayed across the TV room floor in sleeping bags and pallets, and the version of “When Harry Met Sally” that has the miniature interviews with old couples interspersed through the film (and therefore adds an extra hour or more to the run-time) was playing, the birthday girl and I were snuggled right next to one another.

I remember my hair being wet still, because we had also turned the party into a swimming party earlier on, and I had swum in borrowed clothes.

Anyway, she and I were watching the movie and chatting with one another off and on, when we came to the topic of being ticklish.

Neither one of us had much of any resistance to being tickled, but we both had the desire to be able to resist the way other people we knew could – mostly people with lots of siblings.

I had (and have) many siblings, so I felt like I was missing out on this special skill that people with siblings seem to have.

And so, by reasoning that it must be a matter of having been conditioned that allowed these people to resist, we agreed to test out our own conditioning.

Therefore, dozing off during the film, we both slowly and gently ran our fingers back and forth across one another’s feet bottoms (yes, the soles), so that we each could practice deep breathing and calming ourselves in the face of being tickled.

Fast forward to today, and I can tell you that our night of tickling practice paid off – most people have no idea that I am at all ticklish (this includes, of course, all the people who actually tickle me – I’m not just saying it because people don’t try or anything).

I can’t resist forever, but I still have a solid thirty seconds to a minute or so that I can resist quite well, even when the tickling is intense.

When the acrobats were hanging with us, we all had a tickle fight (because what’s the point of giving up tickle fights amongst friends, just because we’re adults?)… almost every attempt to send me into crying giggles failed, due to my power of resistance – vive la résistance! – but our fingers grew sore from jabbing at what felt like concrete or brick walls, because the extremely muscled abdomens of the acrobats were also extremely ticklish.

(This went in many different directions… now, back to my original concept with the instant friend in middle school.)

And so, years later, I still recall Sayrah, the girl who became my instant friend that one week in middle school, just about every time I consider a no-hands food-eating contest or event or when I consider my awesome skill at resisting being tickled.

***As a quick note, I totally can be tickled like crazy, and I willingly give in to it instantly when I’m in the mood for a good and deep laughing fit, but it’s nice to be able not to have those when I really just want to be a rock of calm. 😛

Anyway, I miss having that, instant friends… we even mentioned that tonight, missing the social aspect of school, where you get to be surrounded by people of similar age and intelligence at least five days a week, and friends kind of abound… adulting is tough in that respect…

Post-a-day 2019

Fashionably late

Tonight, after all of our own family activities and general gay atmosphere hanging out, my mom and I headed to my high school boyfriend’s family’s Christmas dessert gathering/social.

I sent him a message when we actually were getting close to leaving, but received to reply, and so I called him when we actually were leaving my brothers’ dad’s house.

The party was slowing down, but we could for sure come hang with him, if everyone else was gone, he said… and so I had him verify with his mom that it was still okay for us to come over (because we live over half an hour away), and she said to come on!

And so we went… and his dad’s dad was practically walking out the door as we arrived, the final guest at the gathering.

And yet, the whole family was there to greet us happily with hugs and cheer, and then hung out with us for what turned out to be about two and a half hours of good and real chat time.

We finally walked out the door, and we were shocked to find it was just shy of one in the morning(!).

But it had truly felt like we’d received a sort of VIP treatment for the party – when other guests are present, conversations are cut short/off regularly, and often only last a minute or three at most, and often less time with the host of a party… and yet we spent two and a half hours with direct conversation with the hosts of the party.

How often does that happen during a party?

Quite rarely for me, really… it’s always only if I arrive really early or stay to the end that I get the one-on-one time with the party host.

And yet we had full attention the entire time we were there – it was certainly like special treatment for this party!

I definitely feel like this puts a whole new level/dimension to being “fashionably late” to events. 😛

Post-a-day 2018

English…?!

Whenever I tell people that my master’s program is for a master’s in English, I’m always surprised at their reactions – or their lack thereof, really.

I do not see myself as an ‘English type’.

My family and I (on my mom’s side, that is) are really rather scientific and math-y about things, and we are total nerds and dorks about the things that interest us… and we also do loads of research on things just about all the time.

If we love something, we also are semi-experts on it – that’s how much we look into things with our research and how much we love learning.

Tonight, I happened to mention that I have read 45 books so far this year (It was relevant, but I don’t presently recall why.).

My friend said that I was and English type, because those were all [insert super famous, depressing-topic novels from around the world that have at least a version in English], and I made a face, cutting her off with, “No, not that crap.”

We both halted at what I had just said, and saw that I had unconsciously called what is considered some of the most important things in the world to an ‘English type’ crap.

I wasn’t intending to be rude to those books or those people, but it was straight from the heart and head, what I said – I love to read, but just not much of that stuff that everybody seems to say is necessary and kind of the only part for caring about literature.

I had even given an ‘ugh‘ of distaste at an overheard conversation earlier on, in which someone was naming some of those famous novels (thereby making me mentally gag).

Just as anyone likes one thing over another, I like certain books and book genres and styles over others – it isn’t that I see no value in the famous novels – many of them certainly are the foundation for modern-day styles and rhythms and topics on a regular basis – , but it is that I see value in other novels, too… more value than the English buffs ever seem to give them.

That’s why one teacher wasn’t sure what to do about my thesis idea – there is no teacher at our school who has a background that is entirely relevant to the author and books I’ve selected to research and discuss as valuable, because they are too new and too radical in the world of English buffs and, therefore, degrees in English.

That’s okay – I’m part of the tiny minority of caucasians at a black university… I’m accustomed to doing things differently and making them work.

Post-a-day 2018

P.S. Is it weird to anyone else that we’re almost finished with 2018 already??…. I mean, it feels like the end of September right now, maybe early October…

Freshly Sliced

I am the epitome of sliced white bread, as I enter campus.  I have on my dance top and shorts and my hipster tie-dye Oakley sunglasses.  I am eating a Trader Joe’s snack bar and holding a large bottle of cold Trader Joe’s electrolyte water, and am walking with a cool green backpack on my back, and my dirty blonde hair in a messy bun on top of my head.

Two black guys are walking towards me.  The larger of the two, a very large and very dark guy, asks me how I’m doing and what I do here.  I tell him that I go to school.  He asks if I do any sports or anything, because I look like I do long-distance running; I look very thin and fit.  I say that I did.  He says that ‘you see there, I was right – you look like it’.  I notice that I’m also wearing running shoes – the ones I used to wear for all my walking and bike riding at my Japan job – and that I haven’t just been doing exercise, despite my complete outfit for it.  He hands me a flyer while saying that they hope I can join them on the 20th, and then I continue onward.  Based on the flyer, it looks like some sort of DJ dance party with stereotypical black advertising and expected attendees.  Not that I’m opposed to the party, but I’m not exactly the target audience of the flyer, making it surprising that this guy would have stopped to invite me…I mean, did he see me?  Again, not opposed to it.  I’m in full support of it.  I’m just a little surprised by it.  However, I recall that this is a college campus, so they’re probably inviting just about any girl they can find (who doesn’t look like a total nerd, that is), and my surprise lessens significantly.

After a few hundred yards of walking onward, I see what I originally think is a dead snake on the ground.  As I approach it, I see that it is a strand of weave, of false hair.  A gurgling chuckle rises within me.  This is definitely not my typical territory, and I feel as though my thoughts of being stereotypical white bread have just been proven by my surroundings of very much black culture  – not to mention the fact that almost everyone I can see is black to some degree – showing up in stark contrast to me.

And then I remember that I also am wearing a drape-y scarf, despite the fact that it is still technically summertime.  I’m even more white bread than I had thought.

Post-a-day 2018

“You could tuck in the mullet part”

The things we say in our family member text messages – things which, at the time, seem normal enough to us – never cease to amaze me… and today’s was no excuse.

We were looking for a reasonable Elvis wig in the costume shop, for a Catholic Life Insurance party this weekend, you see, and one wig was really rather good, minus the few mullet hairs in the back.

Simple, and totally normal, right?

😛

Post-a-day 2018