Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Forever Young

So, I've been absent from the blog for a while. I was at a conference for my "real job" last week, and the lavish dining out and drinking in the swanky hotel bar kind of got in my way. Therefore, when I say "a while", it's really only been six days, but it feels more like "a while". I've really missed writing down my random thoughts, both those that are sarcastic and tacky as well as those that are lovely and meaningful. I fully intended on the sarcastic and tacky variety as I had a bit of a showdown with a well-known cable company for most of my pre-noon day, but then I just couldn't do it. So maybe tomorrow. Maybe.

Last week was the educational conference (which truly was great), but apparently I missed a crapload of crazy here at camp last week. And when I say that I missed it, I don't just mean that I was absent for it. I mean that I really and truly missed it; I thought about it every day. But I wasn't a part of the crazy, so that's not my subject tonight either.

Remember that movie, The Karate Kid? The original. Not this new lame-ass Jackie Chan version. The one with Daniel-san, the outcast, who befriends and later learns from Mr. Miyagi? That Miyagi character was weird for me at first. Sure, he's all wise and cool as shit once you get to know him, but truthfully now, wasn't he just the tired old dude with the bonsai addiction for like half the movie? And didn't you think, "WTF, dude? Why are you hangin' out with that old man?" It was weird. Admit it.

Don't worry about the Karate Kid sidebar. I'll get there. Just be patient.

When I started as a counselor at camp 16 summers ago, I was so young and dumb. Soooo young. Soooo dumb. But I loved it. I loved every single second of it. And although I loved the kids -- adored them even, the best part of camp for me was time-off. Time-off = hanging out with my new best buds. Time-off = hanging out in the Counselor's Cabin, telling stories, smoking cigarettes (or just taking in the secondhand smoke), and laughing our asses off.

But every once in a while, something strange would happen.

Our boss-- THE camp director -- would waltz in, plop down, and entertain us for a while. Sometimes, she'd let us entertain her. And whenever she was in the CC, it seemed like we could do no wrong in her eyes. Things she might normally frown upon were overlooked because... in the CC... everyone's an equal. There's no rank; it's a completely classless (in every sense of the word) society. Here was the Boss Lady, singing camp inappropriate tunes, re-living the good ol' days, and playing practical jokes. Literally, one time, she spent half a day or more with a dead snake on a string, scaring the bejeezus out of each and every person arriving for their break. It was bizarre and awesome all in the same breath. I always wondered, however, why she took the time to come in to that ratty-ass, smoke-filled cabin because, I mean, she was... well... old.

(Mind you, I was nineteen. Nine-teen. Plus, did I mention that I was young? And dumb? Only a dumbass 19 year old thinks that 36 is old.)

When I joined the ad staff a couple of summers later, I realized that the wisecracking, fun-loving person wasn't just who she was in the CC, it was who she was most of the time. That ad staff had a great amount of fun those few summers. They were some of the best portions of my life, in fact, and I still count those people as some of the most dynamic and life-changing people I've ever known. And a few are still my very best friends, including that practical joking Boss Lady. But I can remember, at the not-that-grown-up age of 21, thinking how slightly strange it was that someone 17 years older than me and my equally not-so-grown-up cohorts could not only stomach us and our shenanigans and dumbassery but also kind of appreciate us in spite of it. Honestly, I thought that she would, one day, wake up, realize how wearing and tiresome the Young and the Dumb could be, and kick our broke asses out into the street.

But she didn't. Amazingly enough, she stuck with us -- chance after chance after chance until one day, when no one was paying close attention, we grew up and got all... responsible. For real. We hold down jobs, pay our bills, and do our taxes. Some of us own homes, exchanged vows, and one even has a kid of her own. And she totally knows what to do with him and doesn't leave him random places because she forgot where she put him. This fact amazes me. (Granted, she was the only person I knew who ALWAYS had her water bottle at camp. I should have viewed this as some sort of test-run to motherhood. I, on the other hand, always left my water bottle random places and just borrowed hers when I felt like it. Come to think of it, now sometimes I just borrow her kid in much the same way. Weird.)

Tonight, as I walked into our office, I found it full of counselors on their time off. In fact, they're continually in our office, hanging out on their time off. Our office is this camp's version of the CC, apparently (minus the smoke and the snake on a string). Normally, when this happens, I leave them alone, find another computer to work on, and go about letting them be young. And dumb. Because that's their job when it comes to time-off. So, I went next door to the Boss Lady's office to work. And damned if there wasn't another counselor in there! So, I gave up, took off my soggy shoes, and chatted up this kid about the world events and life and the new L-U-V he's discovered at camp.

One by one, the time-offers trickled in -- some counselors, some ad staff -- and, you know what? We laughed our asses off. They fully entertained me, and they even let me entertain them a bit. It was awesome. Then, just as I was starting to feel young again, I dropped my favorite -- the f-bomb -- and one of the 17 year old JC's almost fell out of her chair. She was stunned, but slightly impressed, I think. And just as I was starting to feel cool again, I realized, "She's not impressed because I'm like her. She's impressed because I'm so UNLIKE her."

Because I'm... well... I'm old.

Then another one had to rat me out for playing a practical joke on him a couple of years ago. Why was it so amusing to others? Because I'm... well... old, and old people don't play practical jokes on kids. And I suddenly realized that I am 17 years older than some of my staff members. Just like the Boss Lady was to us. And I'm stunned. I am stunned to be Mr. Miyagi and not Daniel-san. When did THIS happen? Now, I have worked this very job for 5 summers. How on Earth can I be shocked by this fact? Maybe it's the similarity in time frame. Maybe it's just because I was kidding myself. Maybe, although I'm not so young, I'm still kinda dumb.

But maybe it's because I figured some shit out about the Boss Lady and her trips into the Counselor's Cabin oh-so-long-ago.

A) It's a good way to know what those sneaky little bastards are up to.
B) It's a good way to let those sneaky little bastards know that you know what they're up to. Or at least to make them think you know.
C) It's a good way to get some gossip off of those sneaky little bastards because they don't know when to stop talking.

But, more than anything, I think what the Boss Lady knew, but never told, is this:

D) Those sneaky little bastards keep you young.

Seriously. Those damn kids who aren't really kids? They keep me young. They teach me constantly, and this pays off in my "real job" because I know what all my students are listening to, talking about, and obsessed with. Instantly makes that "real job" a hell of a lot easier. Every summer, they loan me a little bit of their cool factor and a lot of their energy. And they're funny. Randomly... awesomely... awkwardly... funny. When I watch them with their campers and with one another, my camp counselor days just don't seem that long ago. And that makes me feel young too. And happy. Overwhelmingly happy.

I don't know how long it will be until they discover that they can run away to their own version of the CC -- a place that is far too disgusting for an old fart like me to enter -- to spend their time-off. I don't know how many more nights this summer that they will gather in our office, order a pizza, and shoot the shit with the likes of me. I don't know how long I'll be able to put up with their shenanigans and dumbassery before I kick their broke asses out into the street because the other thing the Boss Lady never revealed? The Young and the Dumb ARE wearing and tiresome. (Come to think of it, she did go to bed really, really early when we were the Young and the Dumb.)

So there's a lot I don't know except for this: I know that it didn't happen tonight, and for that, I am grateful. They stayed, they made me laugh, and I didn't mind so much that they weren't right on time to return from break. And because of it -- instead of dragging ass up the stairs, crawling into bed, and dreading my alarm clock's call -- it's 1:30 AM, and I'm sitting up, listening to the crickets, seeming a lot closer to 19 than 34, and feeling happy. Overwhelmingly happy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Game of Tag

My friend, Amanda, might be the cutest little pregnant girl ever.

Seriously, she's stinkin' cute, can probably -- wait, TOTALLY -- outrun me (even at 8 months preggo -- holy shit, 8 months, really?), and happens to be one of the funniest people I know.

If I didn't already have so much time invested (and, honestly, if she wasn't about to pop out a brand new baby for me to obsessively love and hold), I would completely hate her. But you shouldn't hate her 'cause, like I said before, she's wickedly, awesomely funny. And you should check out her blog here, in fact.

So she tagged me with this silly, little questionnaire and because I think she's just so darned adorable, I simply cannot ignore her request. Plus, like I said, she runs fast, and I cannot avoid her tag nor will I ever be able to really tag her back.

Here we go!

1. Favorite Color: Yellow. It's the sun. It's my hair (or was my hair until reality and old age set in). It's warm. It's positive. It reminds me of lemonade and giggles. It's all the things I strive to be/have in my life, but sometimes lose sight of. Except the lemonade. I always have lemonade in my fridge.

2. Favorite Brand/ Designer: Ummm... I'm not exactly a style guru, so I'd probably say Adidas. If I were a cracked out, anorexic model/celebrity, I'd say Christian Siriano. 'Cause he's FIERCE. And I love his tranny ass.

3. Favorite Restaurant: Chik-Fil-A. Surprising, huh? It changes often, but overall, it's my favorite fast food because the chicken is delicious, and I can get a fruit cup and convince myself that it's "healthy" because, as we all know, fruit cup = an additional 37 days to your life span.

4.Hobbies: Reading, movies, camp, reality t.v. and then mocking reality t.v., and exaggerating to prove a point about a subject on which I know very little. Seriously, I hope you didn't just buy that bit about the fruit cup. I have done no research, it's just a hopeful estimation that I tell myself when I swing by CFA.

5.Favorite thing about yourself: I have been told that I make others feel good about themselves. And that I'm nice. I used to think that "nice" was just a polite synonym for "nothin' special", but as I've grown up, I've decided that the world just needs more "nice". I'm not super religious, but I believe in the Church of Just Being a Nice Person. Of course, being tacky is way more fun than nice, and sometimes tacky wins out. Then people snicker at my tackiness, and that gives me an evil little jolt of delight.

6.What does your room look like? A hot mess.

7.If you could have dinner with 2 people (dead or alive) who would they be? I hate this question. There are millions of people I'd like to have dinner with, but if they're dead, what's the point? My biggest question would be somthing along the lines of, "What's it like to be dead?" But then I worry that Shakespeare or Hitler or whoever would be all, "Eh" (with a nonchalant shoulder shrug and bum everybody out). And who wants that at a dinner party that you have LITERALLY moved Heaven and Hell to host? So, in truth, probably just my best buds at Joe T's with a couple of margaritas and lots of laughs. My friends are never just "Eh" and none of us are good at nonchalance.

8.What's your next "big splurge"? My super-secret goal... or I guess not-so-secret goal now -- is to buy a house within the next year or so. But it makes me have rumbly in the tumbly just to think of it, so I'm going to stop that talk and just breathe for a minute. Literally. Give me a minute.

9.What's your favorite joke, quote or saying?: I'm sorry, but I must steal Amanda's answer on this one. And I quote, "If you know me, you know I cannot tell jokes because I don't remember all of the lines." This is so classically me. Or even if I remember the lines, I get sidetracked in the telling of it because something reminds me of this other time when this happened.... and so on and so forth until the listener either walks away or finishes the joke for me. My newest favorite quote is by Judy Garland. "It's better to be a first-rate version of yourself rather than a second-rate version of someone else."

10.Anything else you would like us to know about you (random fact)?!: Amanda can lick her armpit, and that totally sicks me out, but I can pinch you with my toes. Seriously, I have monkey toes that almost serve as fingers. It's weird, but my pedicure ladies love them because I have "great nail beds". Umm... thanks? I know they're just making conversation, but it doesn't make me feel that great. No cute boy has ever complimented my "great nail beds", and, honestly, if he did, he's not the boy for me.

So there you have it. Ten questions you probably didn't want to know the answers to and a good 180 seconds (300 if you're a careful reader) you'll never get back. So, it's my turn to tag someone, and I tag...

Musings from Suburbia

and YOU! Feel free to post in the comments or on your own blog if you have one!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Men in Orange

So yesterday... at approximately 12:30 PM, I did it.

I drank the kool-aid.

It was Apple flavored, and it. was. awesome.

I have avoided the iPhone craze for a while now. All around me, people moved seamlessly into the Dawn of New Technology, but I dug my heels in and flat-out refused.

What in the crack was I thinking?

Okay. Here's what I was thinking.

I am afraid of technology. Not in the "old lady in your technology class who's afraid of starting nuclear winter with one wrong button push on her PC" sense of the phrase, but rather in the "the machine in the palm of my hand is sci-fi smart and that freaks my shit out" kind of way. Seriously, I have the illogical fear of technology taking over the world and not in the good way. Probably, somewhere in my nerdy past, I read some book or watched some movie about robots or cyborgs or microchip implantation that warped my brain into its somewhat paranoid state, and logically, I am aware of how idiotic it all sounds. Doesn't matter. It still exists. I even have a friend whose husband has entered robotics competitions. That's right, Dude builds robots. For fun. Or so he says. He could be building a little robot army to overthrow and enslave everyone in the Lone Star State. I mean, what do I know? I'm fairly sure that this is NOT the case because he's actually a pretty chill guy, but even still I am always sure to be extra nice to him and always laugh loudly at his jokes. (Just kidding, BB... I laugh because you're hysterical. And so that I can be second in command of the Robotics Rebellion).

Anyway... after much ridicule by my friends, students, and near strangers about my sad little flip phone, I started to re-think my position. Then... when I saw a friend of mine (who is mildly technologically disadvantaged) tooling around on her brand new iPhone, the gauntlet was thrown.

So, yesterday, I marched myself down to the mall with Faith, my tech-savvy friend and leader of the flip phone ridicule, determined to get myself a Big Girl Phone. I stood at the edge of the techno pool, breathing deep and talking down my nerves, hoping to just stick my toe in and test the waters a bit. Newsflash, peeps. That pool? It's got a few sharks in it.

Seriously... I'm pretty sure Michael and Danny ('cause, yeah, we're totally on a first name basis), the Men in Orange, were standing in the front of the AT&T store, nonchalantly discussing the weather or the World Cup or maybe their favorite brand of hemorrhoid cream, when they suddenly paused, took a big whiff and found the smell of fear and hesitation in the air.

As soon as I said the word "upgrade", their eyes lit up like Christmas. When I took out my Samsung Freebie, they didn't even attempt to stifle their out-and-out laughter. I'm sure they thought they were taking a long shot when they threw out the iPhone plan, but little did they know that their guffawing was the only sales technique they needed. Laugh at me, will you? Mock me, huh? You're gonna point out my obviously lame taste in cell phones? Do you REALLY think I'll fall for such junior high, pop psychology tactics?

Damn straight I will.

My righteous indignation cost me yet again, and this time, it cost me a pretty penny.

Danny started in with the hard cell sell, and he knew just what he was doing. He hit me, Ali-style, with some "extended warranty", "data package", "rebate" kind of talk. Numbers swirled around me, and the percentage explanation? Get out of town. He could have been speaking Japanese to me for all I knew. Then, to top it all off, he asks me to look at the rack of shiny, multi-colored cases, and pick one. As if I wasn't dazed enough. Now I had to accessorize? I pointed to the Otter... obviously a super-expensive option... which ALL my friends had recommended, and asked him "What do you think about that one?"

I'm pretty sure he shit himself at that precise second.

"Are you kidding?" he exclaimed. And then he sprinted over to the counter, snatched up his own "personal" iPhone (which, in reality, could've been just a block of scrap wood, I was so confused), shoved it into the Otter case, held it out to me and said, "Now drop it." Was he effing for real? I started to back away, shaking my head furiously, and he, seeing the total fear in my eyes, reared back and spun that mo'fo' like some East German shotputter. The damn thing bounced -- BOUNCED, I tell you -- three times on the floor. From an 8 to 9 foot drop. Without a scratch.

The entire store's population looked at him like he'd just skipped a newborn down the escalator.

In the meantime, Michael has pulled up my home phone bill with the promise of finally taking off all the crap I've intended to remove for 3 years but have been too lazy to do so, and he is in like full-blown cardiac arrest over my cable, home phone, internet bundle. He is shaking his head, all shameful, and looking at me as if I've just been out in the backyard everyday lighting up barrelfuls of $20 bills.

Which, truthfully, I might as well have. But that's beside the point. Was I, D-effing-Nazty, going to let this chump push me around? Was I going to let him shame me into changing my cable provider, therefore forcing me to learn a whole new remote and dvr system, and rob me of all of the phone services that I was not currently using -- but might in the future?!

Damn skippy I did. Shame is my number one motivator. It gets me on the treadmill. It sends me to the dentist. It keeps me from cheating on my taxes. Shame completely works. It was like when, in those slapstick comedies, the bully waves one hand and distracts the other character's silly ass and then suckerpunches him with his free hand.

So while he's guaranteeing me a savings of almost 91 bucks a month -- and that's like $1,092 a year. I know, I just checked it on my iPhone calculator 'cause I'm too fancy for a regular calculator now -- Danny is giving me a crash course in iPhone technology, and my friend, Faith, is watching me and wondering when the next time I would actually breathe or blink would be. For real, I was staring at that dude like he'd just grown another head or announced that we were standing on the moon. Dumbstruck.

When they bring in the third guy who, by the way, wasn't even in the orange shirt, I almost backed out. I had honestly believed he was just another customer, shooting the breeze, until he started tapping out some secret codes on the computer and asking me for my social security number. He was like a Mafia boss -- always present, hardly seen. I started to wonder if any of those other customers were real, or if they were just decoys, hired to make everything seem to be a good idea. My palms were starting to sweat all over my new piece of the Apple Corporation when I heard Michael ask Faith what kind of phone she had.

"She's not even one of Y'ALL," I blurted out desperately. "She's a Sprint person!" I threw her out there like she was Frankenstein and they were some torch-wielding villagers. Other people shaming me works, but having shame for myself? Not a chance. I. have. no. shame. Not when the pressure is on. But Faith, as I stated before, is way more savvy than I, and she side-stepped their advances quite deftly.

After about 20 more minutes of sheer terror, they'd swiped my card, set up the arrival date for my Direct TV installation, made me promise to name my next pet after Steve Jobs (or Wozniak -- I guess either way, Steve, it is), and sent me on my way with a palmful of sci-fi smart. And, yes, it freaked my shit out. Twenty-four hours later, I'm still a little freaked out, but I have yet to start nuclear winter with it either. I wish we would have hidden around the corner to watch because I'm pretty sure they totally high-fived each other as I walked away.

So, if you're reading this, and chuckling to yourself, it's okay. But IF you beat me at Words with Friends, you'd better watch out because I WILL chunk my palmful of techno wizardry at your head, Naomi Campbell style, and bounce it 3-4 times off of your smart ass, vocabulary enriched noggin.

Because... oh yeah... I bought that ridiculously expensive phone cover AND the extended warranty, and I plan to get my money's worth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Wild Girl

Today, I witnessed a miracle.

People say that all the time, but I rarely ever believe in it. I think the word is over-used and under-appreciated. When everything is a miracle, then nothing can be miraculous. All the shine is faded.

But not today. Today, I witnessed a miracle. And her name is Sophia.

Ten summers ago, I helped start off a day camp for blind and visually impaired children, and Sophia was one of our first campers. At only about 8 or 9 years old, she was a little ragdoll of a thing, and she had three basic words -- "no", "yes" and a high-pitched screech to indicate either extreme excitement or extreme displeasure. Neither of them was especially delightful.

Sophia had no social skills. She had little gross motor control and even worse fine motor skill. To be in the dining hall, where plates and cups and silverware clanked and scraped together, and where children and teenagers talked in overwhelmingly loud voices, was sheer torture. At horseback, two people had to hold her steady in the saddle because she did not have the muscle strength to hold up her own head and upper torso which slumped over the reins. She looked like a little wild girl, born into nothingness and no one, but still managing to somehow have on clean clothes and bows in her hair.

Sophia's mother would not admit that anything, other than blindness, was at play in the mind of her child. And I got it, why heap more devastation onto an already devastating situation? But I couldn't understand that when she looked at her darling girl, she only saw what she wanted to see -- what she could bear to see. When her mother came to the closing ceremony, however, she could not deny what she saw: lots of other children, just as visually impaired as her own, who were speaking and moving and interacting all around Sophia. Literally. Around. Sophia. She slumped and fidgeted and barely lasted the hour without losing control. It was a visual reminder of what we, and probably her mother as well (deep down), knew already. Sophia was locked away, and no one seemed to be able to find the key.

But camp was the key. Or, at least, it was the hand digging around in the purse, searching for the key, brushing it with our fingertips and glimpsing it just enough to know that it was in there somewhere. I fully believe that. I will never accept anything other than that.

Sure, there were therapists and teachers and people who knew more than us helping her each and every day. And those people, especially her mother, deserve most of the credit. But I'm not sure that anyone, and I do mean anyone, cared more and cheered harder for a child than her camp counselors did. Every summer, more of Sophia came through. First, there were things like getting in the pool or eating with a knife and fork. Then came the mimicking and parroting of voices, sounds, and songs. Her mobility improved. Her language barriers began to crumble. And each time I saw her, she was a little more grown-up and sitting a little straighter in that saddle.

Four years ago, when I became the assistant director at my "normal kid" camp, my week with those wonderful day-campers and Sophia slipped away by the wayside. I could visit at the barn or even take a dip with them at the pool, but they stopped being my kids and became someone else's. And that included Sophia. Sometimes, I watch them amble down the road toward the pool or archery or canoeing with their canes and sighted guides and wheelchairs, and I am filled with both joy and regret because although I will always belong to them, they no longer belong to me. I barely know most of the campers anymore. None except Sophia. And, of all of them, the little girl who didn't speak, the wild girl who locked herself away, she was the least likely to remember how to heal my heart simply because she seemed to be the least likely to remember me at all.

But today, in the camp store, the little girl who didn't speak, spoke to me -- the me she hasn't known in four years. She smiled, yelled "Deana, Deana, Deana!" and giggled. Then she squealed the names of my friends, her other biggest fans, and my heart could not be contained. Not only had the wild girl remembered me, she could also place me with the other people who had loved her and adored her for so many summers. In her head and in her heart, we all live in the same place -- in the same place she keeps camp.

She squeezed my hands, put her palm to my cheek, answered my zillion questions, and made me realize all over again what is truly important in this world. How does that happen in the span of 5 short minutes in a crowded camp store? I will never, ever know, but I'm so glad that it can.

I think I could write about that moment for the rest of my life and never perfectly describe it to someone else. There aren't enough words to describe today because the only important words, the only words that mean anything at all, were the ones pouring from her mouth.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dear You,

Dear You,

Tonight I spoke your name lightly, just in passing conversation, and I thought it would hurt. It has sometimes hurt before, just the sound of it escaping my lips. Sometimes, it hurt deeply. Other times, it was only a pinch. But when it comes to You, hurt is hurt, big or small, and I braced myself for impact.

But it didn't hurt. And that was weird at first. When I got into the car, I tried it again, softly and slowly. And nothing.

The whole drive home, I thought of You. And that was weird too because I don't think of You that often anymore. The time that I knew You feels like a million years ago. But then there are times when it feels like You were here with me just yesterday. There are times when I cannot remember your face without looking at a picture, and then there are times when I can still feel your lips brush against my hair as You whispered a secret in my ear. I cannot recall the last conversation we had, but I know every word You spoke to me as You brought me that first Diet Coke, leaned back on my picnic table, and pointed out constellations. You spilled your life to me then (and for countless nights after) all the shame and secrets and sadness, behind the comfort and seclusion that a dark Texas night can provide.

This is the exact moment You stole my heart.

I didn't know it at the time. In fact, I didn't know it the whole time I was falling in love with the idea of you, but I realize it now. Sometimes I wish I had seen that moment for what it really was because, if I had, maybe I would have sent You to go find some other picnic table to be your confessional. And then maybe things would have been different.

But I didn't see it for what it was because I was young and stupid, and when you're young and stupid, your brain stops making decisions and your heart takes charge. And the heart isn't very good at decision making. So things weren't different, and day by day, you charmed me into loving your broken life, and I became addicted to You. More specifically, I became addicted to solving the riddle that was You. You were my first fixer-upper. The first wounded bird that I could not heal. I was sad for that because to make you happy and to see you smile was all I ever wanted.

Lately, however, I've come to understand that I wasn't addicted to You at all. I was addicted to the way You made me feel about Me.

You made me feel unique instead of awkward.
You made me feel smart, and I was sure that You were the smartest person I'd ever known.
You made me feel beautiful, and I had only ever felt plain.
You made me feel as though I could accomplish anything.
You made me feel comfortable because you didn't ask me to be anything but Me.
You made me feel nervous but not insecure. And I didn't know those could be two different things.
You made me feel powerful and confident.
You made me feel that my voice was important and that I deserved to be heard.
You made me feel talented and special.
You made me feel loved and appreciated, all in the space of seventeen short syllables.
You made me feel necessary to this world at a time when I was seriously lost and alone.

Even more than making me feel those things, you made me know them. For. a. fact.

You made me know that I was all of those things before You, and that I would be all those things well after You. You lit up my soul and then held a mirror to my face. And then you forced me to see myself. It was painful and hard and electrifying all at once. Many times in all the years since You, I have forgotten that I knew these things, knew them in my heart, and many times I have chosen to ignore them. But those times were my fault, not yours. And those moments are fewer and farther in between now.

I am so very different now. I am not the person You knew. Perhaps You might not even recognize Me if we passed one another on the street. I might seem familiar, like someone You knew in a past life. And I am.

I understand that You are different now too; your life is so very different than when I knew You best. I'm ecstatic about that because You were so unhappy then, and that fact alone caused me such pain. I am hopeful that although I couldn't fix you, maybe you uncovered a way to fix yourself. Or maybe the love of someone else filled in all those places that were missing. And maybe when she tells you that You are beautiful and special and powerful and unique, You believe Her just like I once believed when You whispered those words to Me.

This is the gift that You gave to Me. The knowledge that I am enough. That I am worthy. That I can do anything. That even though things may be painful, they are important. That people can slip away and that they can break your heart, but they cannot break your spirit and that they are not gone forever.

And this is why it doesn't hurt to speak your name anymore. And why sometimes it even makes me smile.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

One Tough Cookie

Today, I went to see my friend, Heather, who is recovering from major back surgery. And when I say "major", I mean MAJOR. I mean a 12-hour, neck to crack incision, "the doctor has his mother effin' hands on your spinal column" kind of surgery.


And I have to tell you, since she decided to go forward with the surgery several weeks ago, it has been as if a troop of vindictive Boy Scouts grabbed hold of my intestines and used them to practice for their knot-tying merit badge. I feel better now that I've laid eyes on her and heard her smartass retorts to nearly every question. (Except those questions regarding her pain medication -- those answers are devastatingly sweet and kind. She's a smartass but certainly not a dumbass.)

After only about 15 hours of recovery, she'd already sat up in a chair. Twenty hours later, she was walking with a walker. Today, less than 48 hours later, she choked down half a piece of elementary school pizza and put a couple of nurses in their place. And, according to Dr. Magic Hands, she's way ahead of pace in comparison to others who've had the same surgery.

I'll take "Things That DON'T Shock Me at All" for $200, Alex.

Because this is who Heather is. She's stubborn and tough and not willing to back down. Ever. She throws up her middle finger to the world that tells her something can't be done. If there's a challenge, she's usually up for it. When she was nervous about the surgery, it sent me to the edge of "Ima break into CVS and steal some Xanax" kind of nervous. Mainly because she's never nervous. Yet, here she is, shocking the doctors and nurses, and steadily climbing her way up - even without the help of her lovable and much-missed pain pump. Although I wouldn't classify myself as "shocked", it's still pretty damn amazing.

I'm a fairly timid person. I'm wishy-washy and a self-proclaimed crybaby. I have trouble standing up for myself and saying what needs to be said when I need to say it. I'm sensitive and sentimental, and I'm easily hurt by others. And then I tend to forgive even the worst hurt that people inflict upon me because I'm a people-pleaser to the core, and I can't stand to have someone mad at me. I'm the Queen of Apologizing For Shit That's Not Even My Fault. I hate all of these portions of myself. Fifteen years ago, I would have described my own self as spineless.

Then I met Heather.

Heather taught me how to have a backbone. She taught me how to stand up for myself, and she coaches me when I am nervous about standing up to someone. And when I can't handle that confrontation, she's more than willing to give that someone an ass-kicking for me. When I won't let her, she instead just describes the imaginary beatdown, play-by-play style, in order to make me laugh and give me a little courage. She has little tolerance for stupidity and has no trouble letting someone know when they're dabbling in it. But she's my friend, one of my very best friends, and she's never about to let anyone else crush my spirit. All my friends protect and support me, but Heather will flat-out kick the fool out of someone that hurts me (or any of her friends, for that matter).

I don't think anyone would ever dare describe that girl as spineless.

To see her there, lying in the hospital bed, recovering from a surgery that will hopefully make her spine a little straighter and stronger, I can only tell you one thing: Watch out. She was already pretty hell on wheels pre-surgically repaired backbone, so I'm not sure the world is ready for the new and improved assault on anyone and everyone who pisses her off. But I'm certainly glad to have her in my corner.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Smell of Summer

I reek of campfire. In line for a Diet Coke, I'm sure the people behind me crinkled their noses at the smell. But I didn't care because I smell just exactly like summer should.

For me, nothing encompasses who I am as a person or what is important to me, like the smell of a campfire.

It brings me to my knees and steals my breath away.

The smell of campfire smoke, woodsy and primitive, stirs a longing in me. For a simpler time and an easier pace. It lives at the cellular level, in a place that only God knows. It is imprinted upon my DNA, signifying my belonging, carving out my place in this world. It is my truest essence. It transports me to another place.

Destination: Memory.

Tonight, it is in my clothes, in my hair, and, as always, deep within my soul. And with it, there is you, dear friends. I got into the car, and it completely overwhelmed me. But instead of rolling down the window, I took a deep breath and resisted the urge to call you up just to hear your voices.

Campfires mean summertime.

They mean camp.

They mean friendships, old and new, strong as well as unsteady, lost but not forgotten.

That smell holds, in its wispy fingers, all the joy, excitement, heartache, and hope a summer can be.

That smoky, rich aroma reminds me of Wednesday night cook-outs, soft songs on the night breeze, and the feel of your hand in mine.

It reminds me that there is still goodness and magic left in this world.

It is the smell of shared laughter, shared tears, and a thousand shared memories.

It is innocent, honest, and true.

It is the beauty of your faces, bathed in the soft orange glow of dying embers, smiling back at me.

It means family.

It means I am Home.

I know I should step into the shower, wash my hair and change my clothes, so as to save myself a few valuable moments in the morning as I rush off to my last meddlesome day of work. But I can't. I am bathed in a scent that I can neither explain nor let go of. Not if there's a chance to lay my head upon my pillow, close my eyes, and allow you, sweet friends, into my dreams to linger for a while in that place of late night campfires, stolen moments, setting suns, and starry skies.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


It's the things left unsaid that seem to burden me the most. They weigh heavy on my heart and creep up my throat only to never make it past the lump that always forms at the very last second. They flounder, in the pit of my stomach, like butterflies with wings of lead.

My whole world is a study in words -- hundreds of thousands of them. The words I've read, the words I've written, the words I've learned and shared, and even the words I've spoken. But when it comes to the words I should've said, I can never find them. So, I'm sending them out now, into the great technological beyond, so that maybe I can locate them one day when I need them again.

  • I'm proud of you.
  • I understand it's hard for you.
  • I don't know how to make it any easier.
  • You were my favorite person in the entire world.
  • I'm sorry I missed so much time with you.
  • The same loneliness you fight lives within me, too.
  • Being happy and satisfied is worth the struggle.
  • I know that struggle. It's totally scary.
  • It's not brave if you're not scared.
  • I love you. Now, then, and forever.


I came home from a long day, trying to ready myself for a long (but exciting) weekend, to find some sad news on my internet homepage. John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood, dead at 99 years of age.


What must that feel like to walk this planet for nearly a century? In the past 99 years, how much did he witness?

  • Women winning the right to vote.
  • The Great Depression
  • The Holocaust
  • Armstrong's Walk on the Moon
  • The assassinations of two Kennedys and Dr. King
  • De-segregation and the eventual election of our first black President
  • Two World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, and two more wars in Iraq
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • The OKC bombing, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina
  • Both the fear and the fall of Communism
  • The birth of television, the evolution of cinema, and the appearance of personal computers, the internet, and gadgets like the iPhone.

How does one person reconcile such change in the world around him? How does one person wrap his brain around how drastically different life is at the end than it was ninety-nine years before? How does one heart sustain the sadness on that list? How does one heart contain the joy from the other parts of history, those of the of the world and of his own private life?

I cannot fathom it.

My high school basketball coach was the first to introduce me to the legend of Coach Wooden. His simplicity and grace and wisdom were a siren song to me, and my interest and study of him and his philosophies only grew throughout the years. John Wooden stopped coaching before I was even born, and although his achievements in basketball are incredible and awe-inspiring, it is his life away from the court that fascinates me most.

He was a man of simple nature. He believed in the basics; that the fundamentals, if laid correctly, would guide you to success. In life, in basketball, and in love. This was a man who kissed his junior high sweetheart, married her, treasured her for 53 years, and wrote a love letter to her every month for the last 24 years since her death. For me, that is an accomplishment greater than 100 national championships, and it saddens me that this, this love and dedication, is not what he is remembered for most.

One of my top 100 wishes was to hear him speak in person, in some sort of hope that his wisdom and patience would float through the air and nestle within my spirit. Now that wish will go forever ungranted.

I don't know where this post is going. It's late, and I'm tired. But it's a day I want to remember because as a coach and a teacher, he was one of the most revered of his time. But as a human... as a man... that is where I suspect most of the magic lay, and I hope that wherever one lands when they are gone from this swiftly spinning rock, he is hand-delivering that love note to the most important person of his 99 years.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Today's post is brought to you by something that I think is sorely lacking in our world.


Not many things make me sicker than disloyalty. When someone or something has depended on you, loved you, supported you, and celebrated you, to turn your back on that makes you one ungrateful bastard. Marriages, friendships, jobs... it doesn't matter to me. If you give up, without putting forth more effort than you ever thought possible, then you did just that. You. Gave. Up. On something, that at some point in your life, you valued and loved. And, even when it's necessary to give it up (because sometimes you have to call it quits, it's reality, peeps), it still makes me sad. I gave up on something I loved 16 years ago when I walked out of my basketball team's locker room because my coach hurt me to the core. Everytime I step on a court, I think about that 10 second walk across that room, away from a group of girls that had been nothing but loyal to me. It is the only thing I've ever truly regretted because I had committed my own worst sin of disloyalty.

Call me sentimental. It's okay. I love the storybook ending. I constantly wish for "the way things used to be" even if I'm not ever sure that's how they really were. For example, being a coach and a lifelong sports fan, people always want to chat me up about sports -- especially the professional sporting world -- and my answer is always the same. I... don't... like... pro... sports. "Whaaaatt????" they say, as they stare at me like I just answered their question in Japanese, totally bewildered and completely disbelieving. Let me explain. For a long time, I thought my distaste resided in the fact that many pro athletes are overpaid, whiny-ass, sometimes thug-a-delic, pantywaists who need to realize that they are paid millions of dollars to PLAY A GAME for fuck's sake.

Don't get me wrong, that's a big part of it. But what really whips me is that they are pantywaists who can't even stick around in a city that adores them because they're looking for even fatter paychecks to PLAY A GAME. (I hope those jackasses get re-incarnated into any occupation featured on that show Dirty Jobs. Now those are some peeps who deserve a fat paycheck. For real... have you SEEN what those people do? Gross.) Of course, not every pro athlete is the root of the problem. Sometimes it's the jerkwad owners, but they don't even matter enough to go into that. When I saw Emmitt Smith put on the jersey of an Arizona team, my love of pro sports began its death rattle and my hatred of Jerry Jones went to DEFCON 1.

My example is turning into a rant, and that's not my intended purpose here today though.

Many of my heroes (even those in sport) are people who have demonstrated loyalty. Larry Bird. Drafted in 1978 by the Celtics, he played in Boston for 14 years. His ENTIRE career as a pro basketball player. When he couldn't play anymore, he went the only other logical place... to his homestate of Indiana to coach and work for the Pacers. Where he has worked and still works--since 1997. Cal Ripken played for all his 20 years with the Baltimore Orioles. The dude homered in his very first at bat in the first game of a 2,131 consecutive games played streak. Two thousand, one hundred and thirty-one games, people. Do you know anyone who has shown up for 2,131 straight days of work? Sick? Injured? Forget about it. It's not about cash. It's about pride. And passion. And loyalty.

Same thing with Mike Krzyzewski. This year, he coached his 1,000th game at Duke and everyone's all "Well, yeah. It's Duke. Why would he leave?" But after just a few games, those crazy ass fans all had their doubts. And their voodoo dolls. They didn't scare him off though, and he's got four national championships and an Olympic title (if not the medal) to prove it. Seriously, the man coached some of our biggest pansyass fatcat pro players into winning... for their country instead of for a paycheck. When each of those men that I once detested (and now kind of like. Kind of.) put their medals around his neck, I fell apart. That's what loyalty and hard work gets you. Respect.

Pat Conroy, my favorite author, was a cadet and graduate at The Citadel. Then he wrote a little book called The Lords of Discipline. It's not such a flattering look at life, and especially the brutality, that exists in a military academy, and he pissed off a whole lotta people from The Citadel who could clearly see through some thinly-veiled name changes. In fact, the school pretty much turned its back on him and even demanded he give his class ring back. And that was okay with him because as his school's biggest supporter, he also claimed right to be its biggest critic. Because he lived it; because he survived it. And he lived it when the entire school, and most of its rabid alumni, wanted his head on a pike. Seriously, these dudes served in war(s). They could give a crap about offing some word nerd for the sake of a little school pride. Yet, he never quit on them and has finally been accepted back into that long gray line, even receiving an honorary doctorate and giving the commencement address in 2001. His loyalty and love of his school could not be shaken, no matter how much it was tried. Say it with me, now. Loy-al-ty.

My dad and both my brothers married their best friends. All put together, that's like 70+ years of marriage. Was it alwasy easy, this idea of being with the same person for all those years? Hell to the no. It CAN'T be easy. It's another PERSON... in YOUR space... all. the. damn. time. How could that ever be a breeze? But because they love each other, they stuck it out. I've had the same best friends for 15+ years. I've known one of my very best friends ever since her sassy 5 year old butt told me where to sit on the bus every stinkin' day of 1st grade. We don't talk every day, but if I needed her, she'd be in the car, breaking every landspeed record in her way. It's loyalty that does that. And don't even get me started on my other greatest friends in the world. They are a study in loyalty like the world has never known.

Examples aside, however. Here's the meat of my story today.

Today, I celebrated the end of my 10th year with my school. The same school who gave me my first job when they DIDN'T EVEN HAVE AN OFFICIAL JOB OPENING FOR ME. That principal hired me because she believed in the person recommending me, and that person who recommended me has unfailingly believed in me since Day One of our 15 year friendship. When someone sticks their neck out for you, a little loyalty is the least you can re-pay them with. I hope you know what you did for me, Crazy Lady. You changed my life by giving me this job.

And, believe me, there have been hard times. This year, in fact, was a pressure cooker whereupon I dealt with a species of 7th graders which this world has yet seen before. Ten years ago, I started at my school, knowing nothing of it, but quickly learning that many people in the district thought very little of it. It was a building bursting at the seams with kids of all colors, economic levels, and academic ability. Its reputation wasn't highly regarded, and many times, it still isn't. Here I was, a kid who graduated with 32 other people in her entire class. I was a girl who grew up in a town where racial divides were clearly drawn (hello, train tracks) and white faces filled my class pictures. The entire population of my hometown is not even twice the population of the two grades within my school. Here was a girl who'd barely even traveled out of the state, trying to teach English to kids who weren't always even born in our country. I wanted to quit after the first 6 weeks. But I didn't. I couldn't. Every fiber of my being told me I had to stay and finish what I started. Because all my heroes finished what they started.

Every day in my school was an uphill battle. Most days, it still is. People doubt us, snub us, forget about us always. Last year, we were labeled "Academically Unacceptable" due to test scores (by like only 9 test scores, however) and everyone in the district rolled their eyes and whispered, "Told you so." Hell, some of them even shouted it in our faces. Thanks, by the way, Mr. Big Boss for your total lack of confidence; it was inspiring. Just so you know, not everyone cheers for the underdog.

It would have been easy to jump ship then. To cut and run. But no one did. In fact, we actually had to lose some teachers, some really great teachers, to try to help balance our district's budget crunch. And today, we found out we were unacceptable no more. In fact, we were finally Recognized. We rejoiced in the news, on this the last day of the toughest year yet, knowing full-well that the battle begins again much too soon; knowing full well that those who were whispering behind their hands will probably never even mention our success. And that's fine by us because, at my school, when someone steps to you, talkin' a buncha hot mess, it's time to throw down and get... some shit... straight.

Because we're loyal, see?

Today, in my 10th year of teaching -- all 10 years at my same little school, I stood up and accepted my piece of paper and dinky little pin. But I'm not sure if I've ever been more proud of a piece of paper and a dinky little pin because I accepted them in front of a faculty that gets me. They may not always like me, but they get me, and, in my world, that's way more important these days. Today, in my 10th year of teaching, I can name at least 10 other teachers who watched me walk in that very first day of my career. Ten other teachers who didn't ignore me or tell me to run for it. Ten other teachers who guided me, instead, and showed me, time and time again just what it takes to do this job well. Ten other teachers who have been there for more than a decade. And I can probably name another 20 in 20 seconds who have been there for 5 years or more. That's a mother-effing lifetime compared to someone like Terrell Owens.

Am I naive to wish for that storybook ending everywhere I look? Probably. The Days of Old are old for a reason. Things change no matter how much I wish they wouldn't. People leave, marriages crumble, and the world keeps on turning. It's reality. I don't like it, but I still have to face it. Do I ever think about leaving? Sure. Quitting? On almost a weekly basis. I rant and rave and threaten. But I can't. Not yet.

Not when there's an Exemplary Rating out there, somewhere, waiting for a throwdown with me and my homies.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

At Least I Didn't Call It "Swinging Beef". Gross.

Today was the last day with my 3rd period kiddos who, as I've stated before, walk a fine line between annoying the crapola out of me and sheer comedy genius. They jabber continually and whine often, but in general, I get them and they get me. Most days, harmony is achieved even if the lesson objective is not.

And, in a way, they are responsible for this blog. So if you hate it, blame them. They'll probably ignore you, though. They're not into your harsh criticism, and they always have my back. If you like it, well, they will bask in the glow of your adoration and be all, "Naz Who?". They are one of the few groups of kids in a long while who, as a class, love to explore new ideas, debate, and more than anything -- write. They are fascinated with the art of the written word and love, love, love to share their thoughts, and they didn't just request that I participate in daily writing with them, they demanded it. It made me fall in love with the process of writing and revising and creating all over again -- which led me here to this inconspicuous little spot on the internets. This is the gift they gave to me, and I'm sad that my time with them is done. Truly. I wish I could have told them how they inspired me, but truthfully, I don't want their nosy little butts in here.

Therefore, in honor of 3rd Period, today's post is an email (below the stars) I sent to some friends on one of my favorite days with them. My friends are sad, too, by the way because they laughed their asses off when I hit them with this:


I love my 3rd period kids. Many times, they are the saving grace and, by far, the most interesting kids I have.

In true 3rd period fashion, a tangent provided the most interesting lesson of the day. Since we're reading The Yearling and just beginning to learn about the main character and his life in the country, the kids asked me about growing up on the farm (and although I didn't, one of my childhood best friends did. So, this makes me a total expert in their eyes). I told them the story of Rudy the Steer (intended lesson -- why you don't name the animals on a farm). This is the conversation that interrupted my story.

Spacey Girl: What's a steer?

Me: Ummm.... well... it's a male cow that's been... castrated. (I tried to be delicate, but, really, how delicate can the topic of castration truly be?)

The Loudest Girl in the World: What's "castrated"?

Me: Ummm... well... it means that its.... testicles... have been... (ahem) removed.

Entire class: DO WHAT????!

Me: Well, that's what it is. A bull has 'em. A steer doesn't.

Them: (Groans, shrieks, and a few nauseated looks from the boys)

Me: You've never heard of calf fries?

Them: NO!!!! Eww... ick... Wait... what's that?

Me: Slices of deep fried bull testicles.

Them: (More shrieks and groans) And people eat them???

Me: Well... sure.

Them: (literally writhing on the ground) That is so DISGUSTING!!!

Another kid from the crowd: Gross. What would that even taste like??? (asking a completely rhetorical question)

Me: Kind of like chewy steak fingers.

Suddenly, all eyes were on me, and all talking ceased.

Icked-out Boy: (eyes popping out of his head) Oh... my... God. YOU ATE ONE????

Me: Well... yeah. It's kind of a rite of passage where I come from. Also, on menus, they're also called Rocky Mountain Oysters. Don't be fooled. They're not really oysters.

Them: stunned silence immediately followed by several completely inappropriate questions.

Things just went on from there. Maybe the word "bull nuts" was uttered by a few of the boys. It was pretty entertaining, and, if I must say so, the most education I've conveyed in the past two weeks. It was hard to get 'em back after that, but I think I did earn a little more respect.

People with office jobs must get so bored.

When people ask what I do for a living, and then look at me with a mixture of pity/shock/mild distaste when I say "junior high teacher", these are the kinds of stories I tell. And, then, I think they're a little jealous because this kind of shit just doesn't really happen where they work. There are lots of things about my job that bring me to the bottom steps of the bell tower, but then there are always these little moments that make all of that nonsense fade into the background. And I'm reminded again, that I'm here on the planet for a reason... even if it's just to gross out some city kids with a little life lesson on bull testicles.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Just LOOK White, People.

I'm white. Pale white. Blond hair, blue-eyed white. Full on Cau-Casian.

Anyone who knows me, however, and happens to know a little bit about discourse patterns, understands that beneath this Casper-like exterior, is the soul of a fiery little Latina.

That's right. I said it. I am Hispanic of the Heart.

See, it all started when my friend, Colt, and I wound up in the wrong seminar at an educational conference. We'd wandered off on the San Antonio Riverwalk to find some actual Diet Coke because, let's face it, San Antone loves their Pepsi Cola products. Me? Oh, no me gusta. But Colt, being the good little boy from Small Town America sniffed out the only Diet Coke within 20 miles -- at, no less, a Dairy Queen. Even the Riverwalk can't say no to the power of the DQ; it's that good. I told ya.

So, we're off, getting our fix, ignoring the fact that our session is most likely filling up. So where do we wind up? At this total BRAIN RESEARCH session on discourse patterns -- right up on the very front dang row. So we're both putting on that we know what the hell this dude (who is so just an old, dried-up hippie in a Polo and respectable haircut -- awesome) is talking about. We nod wisely, every so often, and jot down notes and take long pulls from our 32 ozs of delish.

I'm still only mildly paying attention when all of a sudden, the dried up hippie, starts showing all these diagrams and making us do some audience participation. So, I pinch myself, clear out the Winnie-the-Pooh Head (cotton fluff for brains), and prepare to be called upon because that's just my luck.

Then, what do ya know? The Dude totally tells me I'm Hispanic. Fo' reals, yo! Because as he's explaining discourse patterns (which is basically the way people relate stories and converse --either orally or in writing-- that only took me about 12 minutes to grasp this definition), he shows us the following examples:

People in Asian languages tend to explain things in an indirect pattern. Meaning? They appear to dance around the topic. They circle it in a spirally-shaped pattern because to address the main idea or issue immediately is considered rude. Native American patterns are similar, but I think theirs also has to do with the interconnectedness of their culture with that of the earth. It's all very mystical and cool, but I fazed out at this point. Someone on the other side of the room had on a really bad wig, and I simply had to study it for a moment and ponder whether I could get an inconspicuous picture for my friend, Courtney, who is a champion wig-spotter. I knew she'd be impressed.

Then he went back to American/British discourse patterns and how we are all about "straight to the effin' point, peeps". Literally, it's like a straight line. No variations. Totally boring. This depressed me a little, I must admit. There's nothing I hate more than the "Here's what I'm gonna tell ya... Now I'm telling ya... Let me re-cap what I just told you" sort of writing I see far too often. I thought those people were simply boring, but, no... just American. Maybe British. Jamie, if you're reading this, I'm sorry to tell you that you are only slightly less boring than the Yanks.

Just as I'm relaying this juicy realization to Colt, via 7th grade note-passing style, the Dried-up Hippie Dude grabs my attention with something I can use! How to understand the writings of my Hispanic students! What? I wasn't understanding? There's something more going on than just bad spelling and the atrocious denial of any and all punctuation marks? Apparently, HECK YES there is!

It's called discourse pattern, and obviously, me... the boring gringa with the nauseatingly dull, American pattern has been missing out. While many people think that students who deal in one of the romance languages (i.e. Spanish) are just "rambling" or "off-topic", in truth, they are just doing as culture dictates.

Por ejemplo (that's "for example" for the caucasian set):

Romance languages develop by digression; take lots of time; begin with topic, go off on tangent, contradict tangent, and conclude with main idea. They totally move in a zig-zag pattern. It's flowery, fancy, uses lots of intensifiers and reiteration; each time it gets bigger and better. It involves lots of examples that seem to not have any connection until... TA DAH... the end is there and everything is all wrapped up and making sense! Sadly, however, most crazy Americans/Brits just give up halfway through and mentally make note to never engage that person in conversation/reading ever again. Ever. Suckers! Hey, Los Estados Unidos, you're totally missing out!

This is the point where I start adding up all the pieces of my life. My cousin (who's not really my cousin, just the daughter of my mom's best friend) married a Hispanic man. I spent many summer nights at his family's house, and I LOVED IT. Loved everything about it except the menudo (the dish, not the band). It was warm and homey and everyone was in everyone's business, and at night... there were ALWAYS stories. And not stupid Americanized bedtime stories that are like 9 sentences over 20 pages. Stories that went all over the place, jumping characters and settings, weaving in Spanish with the English. It was lyrical and magical, and I could never tell them, but I always knew where they were headed and where they'd been. Thomas's Abuelita would start off, and I'd be nearly asleep before she wound up at the moral of the story. And there was ALWAYS a lesson, but there might be 4 different stories to illustrate it. It was pure awesomeness. She was a total story-weaver.

So, I'm trying to tell all this to Colt, who is nervous and embarrassed because we're on the front row of this shindig, and I'm clearly disrupting, but he's not getting it. The fact that, as a storyteller? Dude, I'm totally HISPANIC! It all made sense! My continual free-flow, devil-may-care way of relaying my point, with tons of analogies and similes and tangents isn't due to a lack of an internal editor. It's due to culture, Man!

Now, granted, my whole family is lily-white (or so they say), so is my cultural breeding simply a result of my time with the Reyna family and their sweet, little Abuelita? Multi-culturalism by osmosis? Or just an excuse for some adult-onset ADD? I prefer the first. It makes me very mysterious. Very "you think you know me, but oh, no... you're wrong". Very "don't judge a book by its cover". And I like this. It's the only time in my life that I've ever been exotic. It justifies me in all those times I've spent watching people's eyes drift away from my story. I'm not rambly. They're just boring and ignorant of my adopted culture. Freakin' racists.

I recently unveiled this revelation to two of my very good friends. Only, when I relayed this story, I was also 2 glasses of iced tea infused vodka up on them. By the way, vodka totally makes my Hispanic discourse pattern even more zig-zaggy. Tequila, too, but we didn't have tequila that night. Just vodka. Really good vodka. Court's husband made some sun-brewed vodka. How cool is that?

They didn't argue. They've known me almost half my life, and they are fully conditioned to my randomness. I mean, really, could they argue? Because if you're at this point in the post, you can't deny it either. And, I totally turned off the internal editor for this one. She's American and this is how she'd tell it.

  • There was a conference.
  • I went to a session on brain research and discourse patterns.
  • I decided I was Hispanic because my conversation is never "to the point".
  • Colt thinks he may be Hispanic, too, simply for the fact that he can follow my thought patterns.
  • We laughed.
  • The end.

Snoozefest. Internal editor is Dullsville, America.

I'm so glad I'm Hispanic instead.