Archive for the ‘The Strangeness Within’ Category

Today is my 22nd unniversary. Let me explain.

After I graduated from high school, I chose not to go to college. I turned 18 in July, decided I was a grown up, and moved out. As the summer wound down and as most of my friends set off for campuses far and wide, I cast about for new ways to occupy my time. I decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into the charismatic, evangelical, fundamentalist church where I’d been working as a childcare provider for the past two years.

At a time when every part of my life was changing: my home, my daily routine, my access to friends, my theology – M became my friend. He was a good guy: loyal, reliable and funny. While he wasn’t the type to whom I’m typically attracted, I was attracted to the attention he gave me. Soon we were dating; soon after, engaged. What else did I have to do? I was under-employed and without homework for the first time in years. Planning a wedding seemed like a viable alternative for how to spend my time.

With a diamond ring on my finger and a stack of wedding magazines full of frothy dresses and shiny cakes, I repressed any feelings of doubt and set a date: November 3rd, 1990.

Winter became Spring became Summer and still I pushed onward, despite the myriad signs that M and I were ill-suited for one another.

Then the week of Power Source camp arrived. M and I were both camp counselors at this five-night adolescent extravaganza of rock-n-roll worship songs, gross skits, silly team competitions, barely-held-in-check-hormones, tongue-talking, and lots and lots of sobbing teenage girls. There was little sleep and many “revelations” from God.

I look back now on those times with equal parts nostalgia and horror.

Whatever was really going on there, one of those “revelations” gave me the courage to do the thing I knew needed to happen months earlier: I broke up with M, telling him that I knew that it was God’s will. Regardless, it was the right thing to do. Frothy dress be damned, the two of us should not get married. We were too young, too different, too clueless.

Now, 22 years later, I don’t have any God-sent revelations anymore. But I’ll always be thankful to whomever that I didn’t get married all those year ago. I love my life just the way it is – messy theology and all.

So each November 3rd I raise a glass to M, to my life, and to grace – whatever the source.

Join me.


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Yesterday, whilst hanging with the kiddos, between playing “Trick or Treat’ (during which my skirts brandished as capes and swim goggles and/or sleep masks comprise super hero regalia) and making paper plate turkeys, I dusted off the Christmas Songs playlist in iTunes and we rocked out to “The Beach Boys Christmas Song,” “Christmas in Africa” and “Donde es el Santa Claus?”. Typically, I have a hard-and-fast “no xmas tunes before Thanksgiving” rule, but this year I’m in a festive state of mind and I say go with it, as tomorrow the Grinch could reassert his customary spot in my holiday heart.

So along with buying two-not-one evergreen wreathes and contemplating in what shapes to fold my niece’s and nephew’s cash gifts this year, my thoughts have turned to holiday cards, thanks to my lovely friend Jenny at www.zestyenterprise.com.

I haven’t sent out holiday cards in a long, long time. I bought Christmas cards with the best of intentions about three years in a row in the early nineties, and finally donated them to Goodwill when I moved two years ago. Follow-through (or lack thereof) aside, I’ve thought a good deal about what a holiday card from me might look like, now that photo cards are easy, affordable, and all the rage.

If I were less lazy, those of you who I know and love IRL would be receiving a card that had a photo of me wearing this:

surrounded by these:

But since I am what I am, it’s likely that you’ll be getting no card at all. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love to receive cards from my friends! Let me recommend www.shutterfly.com, because what I’d like more than a sparkly image of an angel or tree shedding glitter all over my immaculate floors is a cute photo of you and yours. Here are my favorites (click on the card image to go to its page in the Shutterfly site):

Clean lines, nice colors, a great font.

I love the image on this one. Plus, it’s called “Holly Chocolate Christmas.” At first I read it as “Holy Chocolate Christmas,” which I liked even more.

Apparently, I’m attracted to cards with brown backgrounds. I really love the bird in this one.

So there, my bit of holiday advice (also, don’t overdo the nog). I’ll be awaiting your card with appropriate holiday cheer.

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Mostly drivel…

I’m writing not because I have something particularly compelling to say, but because it’s been exceedingly long since my last post, and the guh-ilt is tottering away up there, threatening to fall and crush me like a grape. So here are a few tidbits:

1. Twins are fascinating. Currently, I’ve got one set close at hand and another arriving imminently. I am doubly (quadruply?) blessed. The girls get more alluring every day. I love it when they sit on either side of me in the mornings, their jammies still on and their diapers threatening to runneth over, and we finish reading a story and in unison, they call out, “Again!” Or when they lean their heads against me and sigh simultaneously. Of course, the tandem thing reached new depths a few weeks ago, when, sporting colds, both girlies put their faces on my sleeve and wiped their noses, mirror images of the other. That one was more icky than fascinating.

2. I’ve never been to Vegas, but I’m on my way baby! 2011 is a banner year: my oldest niece turns 18 and graduates from high school, my nephew turns 16, and I turn 4-0 (much, much more on that to come). We’re celebrating with Lady Gaga and 16,797 of her closest friends at the MGM Grand. Then we’re going to – huh. Teenagers in Vegas. Suggestions?

3. Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut. This is not a typical practice for me. Over the weekend I developed a very strong opinion about something, and went back and forth about whether to share it with pertinent people. Uncharacteristically, I chose to refrain. Today, my opinion was validated and my wish came true. I’m torn between feeling smug and grateful. I’ll likely be smote later.

That’s it. I tire, therefore I stop. G’night.

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Every month or so, when I have a little check-in with my naturopath, one of the questions she asks me is, “how was your PMS this month?” And I hem and haw and mutter things about pizza and moodiness and….  I haven’t really known what I’m talking about. I’ve not been adept at noting and remembering what’s happening below my head, which is where I like to spend my time.

But since I’ve been asked this question about three dozen times now, I think I’m finally figuring it out. So here, ladies and gentlemen, they are: my PMS symptoms, which will henceforth be known as THE ISSUES. (I know, you’ve been waiting for a looooong time.)

There are two distinct phases to THE ISSUE: 1) Apathy and Lethargy, and 2) Irritability and Hunger. I’m currently in phase two.

Phase One: Apathy and Lethargy

This phase always starts first thing in the morning, and it’s generally on a weekday. I wake up, stare at the ceiling, and think, “Am I sick? I must be sick. I can’t possibly be not sick.” Then I test out coughing, feel my glands, ponder possible nausea or stomach disorders, swallow test for soreness, and sigh. I’m never sick, at least not physically. But I am completely without the will to move. I don’t want to get up, I don’t want to roll over, and I definitely DO NOT want to go to work. So, sometimes I don’t. And then I go back to sleep, and when I wake up at 11:30 or noon, I’m gripped with guilt for not being at work (I don’t think that last part has anything to do with the PMS).

And if I do go to work, I’m certainly no Princess Productive, if you know what I mean. Which also involves guilt. Luckily, phase one only lasts about 24 hours.

Phase Two: Irritability and Hunger

The longer of the two phases, this can last for anywhere from two to FIVE days. And it’s serious. Today, I went on a tirade about the way the dishwasher was loaded at work. The dishwasher, people. Who the hell cares?

This is exactly how I feel and exactly how many hotdogs I want to eat. Poo.

Well clearly, I do. At least during phase two. For awhile, there was a terror threat-o-meter outside my office door that would change based on an intern’s outfit (a post for a different day). I’m seriously considering putting it back up, but this time for me. That way, if a co-worker wants to ask me a question, they can do so at their own risk, knowing that the filter that makes me at least a skosh diplomatic is not functioning properly, and they’re likely to get an EXTREMELY “HONEST” answer (that’s the way I like to think of it).

And along with the crabbiness is the h.u.n.g.e.r. I really don’t like to talk about it, because I’d rather be using my mouth to chew.

Pizza, hot dogs, cookies, sandwiches…. excuse me, I need to go have a snack.

Okay, better. Of course, this phase comes with it’s own guilt. Again, a post for a different day.

Anyway, it’s a freakin’ relief when my period finally starts, and I can be pleasant and energetic and moderate again. I know that many women don’t like “Aunt Flo,” but she’s one of my favorite relatives. May she arrive soon.

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You know how we all have certain characteristics that our friends ascribe to us, but we ourselves would never in a million years come up with when we’re asked to describe ourselves? Mine: Knower of all obscure children’s songs.

Now this is a flat-out exaggeration, and I’ve many-a-time been in a situation where I wished I knew the song that someone else was singing to the kids in the room, but it is true that I could hold my own in a silly song contest. Not just children’s songs, but TV theme songs, commercial jingles, et cetera, et cetera.

One particular song runs through my head almost instantly when I wake up every Tuesday morning. I learned this little ditty from an LP that I’ve no doubt my mom bought for my older sister when we were wee; Cere’s name was penned ever-so-neatly in the top corner of the sunshine yellow border of the jacket. But I’m the one who listened to it repeatedly for the better part of a decade (sorry Mom, but you brought it on yourself!).

Yep, that's Annette, front and center. Right next to the creepy cat children.

The album? Mickey Mouse Club: Mousekedances and Other Mouseketeer Favorites. An absolute classic from 1975, with 24 hit Mouseketunes. And no, I can’t name them all (much to my chagrin, I also can’t find a song list online. The interwebs have failed me!).

I can, however, sing all the words to one of the songs: “Tuesday is Guest Star Day.”

Today is Tuesday, you know what that means!
We’re gonna have a special guest.
So get up, broom. Sweep the place clean,
Dust off the mat so the Welcome can be seen.
Roll out the carpet, strike up the band,
And give out with a hip hooray – hip hooray!
Wiggle your ears like good Mouseketeers,
We’re gonna present our guest today,
‘Cause Tuesday is guest star day.

And I do sing it. Every Tuesday. Because on Tuesdays, I wake up with relish. There’s a little extra spring in my step, and when I’m getting ready, I make sure that my hair and eye makeup look just so.

You see friends, there’s a Guest Star in my life each Tuesday. And no, it’s not a cast member from “Lost,” although they’ve made Tuesdays special in their own way [sigh].

No folks, my Guest Star is special to a small-but-stalwart group. There are four of us who wait in anticipation, listening for the tell-tale rumble that occurs a little after eight, signalling his short-lived appearance in our lives once again. When we hear it, we dash for the family room window, and while three-year-old Manny perches precariously on the railing of the doll crib, I scoop up two mostly-naked toddlers in my arms, stand on my toes and we all gaze adoringly down at our fleeting Guest Star….

The garbage man [bigger sigh].

That’s right, the big green CleanScapes truck brings one of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen to pick up my trash each week, and under the guise of “helping the children,” I get to stare unabashedly. And our eyes always meet.

Of course, what he’s seeing from two stories down in the alley are three angelic young faces with big brown eyes and beaming smiles, waving their pudgy hands in an enthusiastic hello, and the hair, eyes, and rapidly-turning-red-from-the-exertion forehead of me, the baby platform.

I suppose the brevity of my garbage man’s weekly visit is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because, let’s face it, I could look at that face all the live long day. A blessing because, let’s face it, I can only hold both girls for a couple of minutes. So it’s a bittersweet moment when GM gives a final wave, hops up on the side of the truck, and rumbles to the next row of cans.

With the warmer weather, he’s switched from a knitted skull cap to a baseball cap [biggest sigh yet].

So if you see me on Tuesday and there’s a wistful smile on my face and a faraway look in my eye, join in with the happy song in my head:

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Note: I suck at titles. I always have. So when something I’ve written is accessorized with a title that is remotely clever, I feel I should explain, although I do accede that this one may need no explanation. I stole it from Sir Paul McCartney’s and the late John Lennon’s “I am the Walrus” (side note: I had to Google the title to make sure that it was indeed the Beatles who had penned the song – my parents’ musical tastes in the ‘70s of my childhood ran to Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers and John Phillips Sousa, and that annoyingly insistent-but-inaccurate voice in my head was certain that it was Pink Floyd. (Yes, I recall now that theirs is called “The Wall.”)). I suspect that McCartney’s and Lennon’s song was somehow connected to Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass,” but since those same parents considered Ludlum, Clancy and the editors of “Better Homes and Gardens” the purveyors of classic literature, I’m hazy on that point as well. Anyway, since I like this title, I figured I should thank Messrs. McCartney and Lennon, along with Lewis Carroll and my parents. And Roger Waters, for good measure.


“Quick to commit, slow to achieve” – it could be my personal tagline.

I am a decision maker, not prone to a lot of internal debate about things. Which is not to say I have a lot of answers. I make up a lot of answers, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

I generally make commitments, take on projects, sign up for whatever, buy airline tickets / expensive bras / ukuleles without a whole lot of forethought. It’s one of my many charms.

But much of the time, the aforementioned projects languish for a loooooooong time before I get them complete. A long time. Quite long. And I think about them. Every. Day. While experiencing feelings of guilt.

For instance, there’s one particular project that I initiated and volunteered for SIX MONTHS ago, which is about 85% done. It’s been about 85% done for the last month-and-a-half. It doesn’t help anyone until it’s 100% done, but that seems to be beyond my reach. Except….

Tomorrow is a powerful day. The final day of 2009. A day for reflection, resolutions, and in my case, cramming. Because if I do nothing else, I’m finishing that &%*@$ project tomorrow, before 2010 sweeps in. And since I want to ring in the new year with people I love, I’d like be done by the time 2010 arrives in Madrid.

It’s time for the tortoise to step aside for the hare.

And as far as resolutions go, in 2010 I’ll conceive for myself a hybrid of those fabled animals, one with the perseverance of the tortoise and the energy of the hare. Good thing I have 365 days to get right on it.

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I found it!

Huge cheers and celebration for the return of the prodigal! That’s right folks, I found it – my motivation!

For the last few months, I have been feeling uninspired. A little listless. Luh-ay-zee. I’ve done nothing more than the bare minimum required of me socially, at work, and to silence my mom’s voice in my head.

But in the last few days, since beginning to recover from HEAD COLD: FALL ’09 [insert 3-D graphic and “Dunh Dunh, Duuuh” music here], I’ve been on a roll!

Exercise – POW!
Bring my lunch to work – POW!
Make an appointment to give blood – POW!
Wash my face before bed (yes, it had gotten that bad) – POW!

It’s not summiting Everest or curing cancer or abolishing shag carpeting, but one must revel in the small victories, yes?

And I’m not new: I know that this train may only go so far down the track, but I’m ridin’ it for all I’m worth. The alarm is set for a 6 AM appointment with my elliptical trainer, and I’m on my way to bed before ten.

For the record, I found my motivation in my punchbowl/liquor cabinet, hiding behind my secret stash of Jif peanut butter.

On second thought, maybe it was bourbon I found. Same-same.

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