Visiting Popsicles

I had mentioned several months ago that my church’s Spanish congregation had been dissolved in this particular town i am in.

Today we formally began to meet here, although for now it is only to visit those who were previously interested.

We are sent off in pairs but when there is an odd number of us, i get assigned to my husband and his pair.
I’m a third wheel of sorts.
Or the other brother is.
Depends on how you look at it.

I wait in the car while my husband and the third wheel visit a man who invites them to sit and chat.

Earlier, this elderly brother accompanying us complained that we’re just visiting popsicles, since most in this area are apathetic toward biblical topics.
He himself reasoned that we must still preach.
“So where are we going?” he asked.
My husband directed him toward said Popsicles.

This is the third home we visit.
I see my husband greet the man of the house like an old friend, though they’ve never met.
He takes personal interest in every word the man says.
After a couple minutes, the edges of the Popsicle-Man have melted and they are invited to sit.


I had gotten out of the car while writing the above introduction because of the heat.
My husband saw me leave and texted me to come join them.

They were speaking with a Catholic counselor (not sure what his formal title is).
The man was seemingly polite but he got agitated when i read him a text from his Bible.
He said i was showing-off and i had failed his psychological test.
I said i wasn’t sharing anything of my own but that it was out of his own Bible i had read the text.
He called me a show-off again and i perceived that he was not accustomed to a woman teaching him.
My husband told him we do not visit people to psycho-analyze them and God doesn’t test anyone, for it would be unkind of him to do so.
The man said, “One needs to be very humble to talk about these things.”
I assume he was saying that in regards to himself, since we all know i am as humble as they come.
I restrained from adding carbon to the fire and tried to shut up.
The man said he’s seen some from our church drinking a beer, and the elderly brother told him the Bible does not condemn drinking moderately.

That reminded me it was almost lunchtime, so on that note we left.


My husband said he was not satisfied with the way the conversation went.
I wonder if i made things worse when i joined them.
Probably.
But i tried not to dominate the conversation.
The man was criticizing us for preaching to the population at large, while saying he focuses on alcoholics and drug addicts- “those who really need it.”
I praised him for helping “those who really need it” before asking him for permission to use his Bible.
The text i read him lists nine sins that prevent people from inheriting God’s kingdom, not just one or two.
And i reiterated that some of our members had participated in those sins before becoming Christians, so it’s not like we’re not helping anyone.
He said he carries the Bible with him but doesn’t go around using it.
“That would be showing off.”

We meet different people everyday and i’ve been doing this for quite some time.
First time ever someone tells me i’m showing off.
I don’t think handling a Bible well is showing off, much like i don’t think people who are not familiar with the Bible are ignorant.

“I’m a nobody,” i had replied, “what could i possibly share as far as wisdom? All i can give comes from God’s knowledge, not mine.”

But when he told me again that i was showing off, i decided, again, to shut up.

It is not uncommon for our visits to leave a bitter taste in our mouths.
My husband’s demeanor throughout never seizes to impress me.
The way he discreetly but very effectively teaches about God leaves me in awe, like when he explained that God doesn’t test anyone.
This was, of course, in response to the man telling me i had failed his psychological test.

The same thing happens when i accompany my mother in the ministry.
Her calm demeanor when people are being flat out rude is just beyond me.
And her compassion tape runs three times longer than mine.

I am the opposite.
Sometimes i wonder if i do more harm than good.
I may not talk back but my personality can be somewhat transparent.
It’s easy for people to tell when they’ve exhausted my patience.
Especially if they follow me on Twitter.
As a minister, i am most effective with people who have low self-esteem.
Awesome people, like me.
Patience is not my thing.

The man asked me twice if i would go give a 3-hour sermon at his church and i replied that men head the congregation under Christ, not women, but that i minister by giving home Bible studies.

His wife had passed by twice without acknowledging our presence in any way.
It is not difficult to be Christian.
What God asks of us is straightforward and doable.
Yet, it is very difficult for me to be a minister’s wife.
It is very difficult to dominate my own wants and passions and subject them to the priorities of an imperfect human.
A Christian shepherd should always have serving God as his priority, and a large part of that is serving the congregation.
My husband does an amazing job at that but our own shortcomings can create frictions at home.

It is very difficult to not walk out and look for someone who makes me his priority instead of a large group of people.
It seemed unrealistic of me to maintain “platonic” friendships with guys who subtly or openly hit on me from time to time.
Almost half of the married friends i had ten years ago have ended up getting cheated on, having affairs or getting divorced.
I’m not so different.
I’m only human.
Close guy friends who never hit on me have come to ignore me all together.
So i cut off the ones that were left last November.
(I’m referring to local men i was friends with over several years, not people who live far away and i occasionally talk to online).

It is easy to get lost in my husband’s shadow.
For instance, a sister who has been in our congregation since January was surprised a couple weeks ago when i told her i worked.
“I thought only your husband worked,” she said.
Which would make perfect sense… if i was ill, had a baby or a zoo… or living off a rich uncle’s inheritance…
Anyway, what i’m trying to convey is that as a minister’s wife, much of my role in the congregation, which is also hard work, goes unnoticed and i just have to bite the bullet.
Or perhaps she thought i am so supportive, she just assumed i had all the time in the world.
?
My husband, who is a minister in two capacities, both in the preaching work and within the congregation, sometimes forgets to acknowledge my relevance.
Then i have to remind him that i exist and i need him around too.
He usually takes to it but sometimes he puts up a fight.
(That’s when i try to kick him.)

It is not easy being a minister’s wife.

I would recommend a life of self-sacrifice and social service to hardly anyone.
But when i look back at what i wanted from life when i was a teenager, i know this is it.
This is what i wanted.
This is what i got.
But there are people out there who make it worthwhile.
Now and then i’ll meet someone who reminds me of me, and they just melt my own popsicle heart away.

The Last Day of My Life at Bar Happiness

If at the end of your life, you were given the option to live one day out of your life over again, just one day, just for the next 24 hours, what day would you choose?

Who would you spend your last day with?

More importantly, how do i come up with these questions, and why do i try?

We were eating at California Pizza Kitchen, one of my favorite places (even though today they put bacon on my veggie pizza and brought me the Seasonal Sam Adams instead of the Draft) when my mind drifted to when we ate pizza in Florence.

Next my mind drifted to when we visited Lago di Garda in northern Italy.

And I then asked myself
How do I work this?
And I then asked myself
Where is that large automobile?
And I then told myself
This is not my beautiful house!
And I then told myself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Sorry, mind drifted again.

(Letting the days go by… Water flowing under-)

And I thought,

Same as it ever was.

j/k ok sorry, i thought, i would love to live that day over again.

The day we spent at Lake Garda.

Bar Happiness
Happiness Bar at Lago Di Garda where you can literally drink up happiness.

So naturally i asked my husband the question at the onset of this post: what day would you live over?

His answer didn’t shock me but it was a wake up call.

“I would choose the day my mom told us she was expecting my brother.”

Aww! How sweet, right? Wait. There’s more.

“Because everyone was there. My brother, in my mom’s womb, my sister, my dad and my mom.”

Everyone was there.

As in- everyone that matters?

Everyone you would want to spend more time with?

Everyone who isn’t your wife (aka- ME)?!?

Wait- there’s more.

“I was going to say our wedding day but my sister wasn’t there.”

I wish i was making this up.

But it’s practically verbatim.

Then of course i proceeded to get all teary-eyed, after which his usual reaction of having no idea what’s going on with me- the “did I say something” script.

I tried not to dwell on it and changed the topic to pizza.

Then he asked me the same question.

“What day would you choose?”

I was embarrassed of my initial choice.

I ransacked my memories for alternates.

I came up with a couple other memories i could do over.

Both with him in them.

“It’s not important,” i said, dipping my pizza crust in ketchup.

He insisted to the point that i figured he must be thinking i must be thinking of some other guy, all the while i was really thinking, ‘don’t let him know you love him more than he loves you, don’t let him know you love him more than he loves you.’

I had to come up with a better answer fast.

“You know, i haven’t really thought about it. Rather, i need to give the answer more thought.”

So now i’m thinking, whatever day i would want to live over- i probably haven’t lived it yet.

Cause if all my favorite memories are post-marriage, and yet my marriage-mate essentially does not see me as part of “everybody,” then perhaps i’ve overrated my life thus far.

Maybe, if God gave me the choice, i’d just say, “uh, thanks, just shut me in a cell with an ocean view instead. That way no one has to spend any more time with me.”

Italian Audi
Or maybe i’d just ask God to please let me drive around Lake Garda in an Italian sports car listening to The Talking Heads.

Because if i’m not “everybody,” then I must be some form of opposite of that.

Perhaps, “nobody.”

At least not anybody important.

The good thing now is, i’ve got two cats that really look up to me.

Sure, i’ve had more suicidal thoughts in the last couple weeks than i did in the last 6+ months, but it’s hard to leave or kill yourself when that would disturb your cats’ daily rituals.

Also, i’m not sure my alter-ego would be able to update this blog as well as i do.

TBH, she’s kind of neurotic.

The Wallflower Hums

There is a tape recording of me as a child crying in the background while my father plays some of his songs on his guitar.
Then the tape stops abruptly.
You turn it around and I continue to cry.

My parents listened to a lot of Santana, Roberto Carlos, Rocío Durcal…
Mostly 80s latino sounds.
That was 50% of it.
The other half was when we’d play what we wrote ourselves.
There is another recording in which my parents are pressuring me to sing a song i wrote into the tape recorder.
I refuse because my brother is “looking at me.”
I was a very self-conscious 4 – year old.
While my present style of writing music is heavily influenced by Rocío Durcal, if no one else, i discovered Classic Rock when i was 12 and would say my lyrics have also been influenced by what’s her name, the blonde one.
Stevie Nicks.

I saw Christie Hynde (the Pretenders) perform not too long ago.
I love her 80s music.
But she’s really rude on stage.
Not Rock rude.
Bad rude.
Not bad rude.
Stupid rude.
For example, the concert opened with this great Irish guitar duo.
Then Christie got to the part of her show where she presented her band.
She didn’t know the pianist’s name and regarding her guitarist, asked, “When was the last time you heard a good guitar player?”
Uhm, half an hour ago?
Your opening band?
She cursed every time a flash went off.
Then she kept saying she was leaving but kept coming back.
I understand when bands do this to take a breather.
Or hit or whatever it is they do backstage.
But she did it over and over and over.
My husband and I kept walking down and then up the theater stairs to go back to our seats.

The theater where she played has a whimsical romantic style about it.
My best girl friend in high school and i once saw the Wallflowers play there.
After that show, we knocked on the bus door and the drummer asked us to have sex.
“Uhm, we’re underage?”
YOLO.
But not us, cause we’re Christians, so we told him we just wanted to talk about God.

To be honest i never really have been able to play or sing my own songs in front of my family.
They’re so much more talented than me when it comes to music.
The other day i was playing a recording of my newest song in the car and my husband inadvertently turned it off.
Then i texted a fb friend of mine who also composes if he wants to do a collab, but he wants to barter for his services.
I feel a bit deflated.
Which is great kindle for a wannabe song writer.
I’ll try experimental sounds next.
Perhaps an album where i cry for an hour.

If you agree with me that sound is music, i recommend you watch the movie Frank.☆☆☆☆☆

This was written in response to yesterday’s daily prompt, but i fell asleep before i could finish it.

Values, Sibling Rivalry and Stuff

As i sit here on the front porch of my only brother’s new forest dwelling, i wonder how two people with the same roots can wind up having such different approaches to life.

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My husband and nephew are wrapping up a game of chess in the living room.
It’s a stalemate.

They have found their intellectual equals in one another.
(My nephew trains with a Master).
That is something I have been conscious of for years now.
And it should come as no surprise, seeing as how my brother’s wife has the same personality as my husband.
It makes sense that my nephew would have so much in common with him.
Even if i feel they all have little in common with me.

My family has always stretched out the joke that I was adopted.
The truth is I was switched at birth.
I don’t recall if I’ve ever written about this; i apologize if i redund myself.

It was the first time my mom was going to breastfeed me after having given birth.
She says the nurses brought her an Asian baby.
The baby didn’t take to her and she didn’t take to the baby.
For starters, the baby didn’t speak Spanish.
My mom pressed the red emergency button by her bed and a couple nurses came running in.
“No es mi bebé.” (This isn’t my baby).
The nurses looked embarrassed and apologized.
Then they brought her the “right” baby- Me.

I have heard this story so many times that I have a vivid recollection of everything that happened even though, technically, I wasn’t there.
A few of my dad’s clients are neo-natal nurses.
He says sometimes he hears them chat about how they remove the id bracelets from the newborns and then try to guess who is who.

So who knows how many people in my hometown have actually grown up with the wrong family.

All my cousins say I look exactly like a younger version of my paternal grandmother,  so I have never bought into my family’s “you were adopted” joke.

To be honest it is really my brother who is different.

He is far more determined and assertive than any of my other relatives.

I worry we are too different now.

He was the one person who always got my sense of humor.

Then, his success made him hyper-conscious of being overly culturally sensitive and politically correct.

See, when you’re a minority, it’s easy to joke about the stereotypes attributed to your own culture.

But if you don’t share in that culture’s problems, it seems insensitive to joke about those who do.

That’s why I take great care to never make insensitive comments on this blog, not even about white people.

My brother saved my life once.
He walked me to class on the first day of school.
He taught me to respect my parents.
But I don’t see myself adapting to this new lifestyle of his.
A lifestyle in which he expects me to keep my point of view to myself.
Perhaps nothing’s changed at all.
Come to think of it, that’s the way it’s always been.

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"A dip in the pool, you say? Silly Girl, the only way to thrive is to adapt," (Baby Lizard has Australian accent.)

Becoming a Worser Writer

Have you noticed my writing has actually gotten worse over the months?

I was feeling vain and went back to read some of my old posts and I notice I really have trouble getting through the more recent ones without skipping whole sentences.

The older posts are far wittier and engaging!

What is happening?

To me?

You see what I mean?

I have trouble typing meaningful sentences.

I did hit my head back in July and have had periodic headaches on that same spot since.

When I looked up where the damage was, it turned out I damaged the part of my brain that interprets speech.

Brilliant.

Leave it to me to damage the one part of my brain I was relying on to make a living.

It’s called Wernicke’s Area.

I think I can still be an interpreter as long as I rebuild the word bridges between the neurons that were there before the accident.

Besides, I would blank out while interpreting since before the accident, so I can’t blame my shortcoming entirely on that.

What happened was that I asked my husband to move something heavy and he said it would take him an hour and a half to come to where I was, so he basically said to just move it myself.

Then my friend was helping me move it but I didn’t lift it on my end as fast as she did so since it was heavy, she let go of it and it hit me on the head.

This is only one of many ouwie-a-la-tête.

The first one was when I was 3 or 4; I rolled off my bed and hit the back of my head on the metal handles of my dresser.

The truth is I can hardly recall anything prior to that moment.

In elementary school, absorbed in thought, I crossed a tether-ball’s trajectory.

Then a basketball’s.

I wish I had gone to the nurse or something; my head really hurt on both occasions, but back then I was always going to the nurse to get out of class.

There’s only so many sick excuses you can use up in a school year without the admin bringing your parents into the picture.

On top of these, I have very bad spatial perception.

I hit my head quite frequently on cupboards, car frames, doors which I am in the process of opening, etc.

Lately I have had dizzy spells too.

Today I’ve had three.

I don’t know what’s going on with me.

Why I’m such a boring writer all of a sudden.

Or maybe it’s my life that’s more boring?

Or is it me? Am I boring?

What does a person do when they find themselves boring?

It’s not like you can just ditch yourself and go into a more interesting person.

Nope.

I’m stuck with me.

Somebody help!

Psychological Displacement

Ever feel psychologically displaced?
Lately my opening lines have been optimistically poised in the form of questions.
I’m not 100% sure what it means to be psychologically displaced- if it’s a cool term I just made up a couple minutes ago or if it’s a real thing.
Let’s assume I’m making it up, that way I can take full creative liberties.
Psychological Displacement is when you can’t find your anchor inside you- the one that tells you you’re real.
For instance, some minutes ago, my co-worker and I were toying with the idea of taking a class together.
I was going on about how much I miss school, and she was going on about how dumb she is, so we flipped through the community college’s course catalog.
Of course, we had to focus on courses without pre-requisites, but I was still excited.
Then I couldn’t find anything that interests me.
There’s got to be a thousand courses in there, and not one makes me feel anything.
This is very unusual.
Am I depressed?
But I can’t feel it.
Then again, I am sucking on a butterscotch lollipop.
My mind is usually very active.
I often find myself telling me to shut up.
Especially at 4 AM, I wake up and it’s like I’m a tiger running at full speed through a jungle, except that the monkeys hanging along the way are all people nagging about something.
But at this very moment, nothing or no one engages my attention.
I could plan a vacation, but that usually implies flying (flying+me= panic attacks).
There are a few tasks I could work on in the office, but that usually implies working.
I probably need a good novel.

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The other day I almost kidnapped a hen on this street. That was sort of exciting.

I don’t follow too many people on social media.
It depresses me when other bloggers don’t engage.
I probably need something like a friend or something.
My husband texts me usually every day but he’s really busy and doesn’t get my jokes.
It’s ok I guess. He tries.
Well not the jokes.
He doesn’t even pretend to get them.
Hardly anyone does.
Idk maybe I’m not amusing.
Maybe my cuteness is an illusion of mine.
Or delusion?
At church all I ever want to do is draw.
I sit in the corner so no one sees me.
I think I’m going to start going to an English-speaking congregation on the side.
Maybe I’ll make new friends.
Or at least I’ll get to draw new people.
The thing missing in me is passion.
Everything seems to have already been done.
Overkilled.
I still take great pictures.
But it seems like it’s enough that I see them.
I have no pressing need to share them, like before.
Maybe I’m lonely.
But not for people in general.
I should’ve had a sister.
My ex-psychologist once told me life screwed me over by not giving me a sister.
I have these friends: B. and C.
B. is my best friend.
But she is the female personality version of my husband.
Super ultra mega busy.
She’s always there when you need her, but it better be important.
C. is easy to talk to and very creative.
But she doesn’t open up to me about her own life problems, so she’s more of a therapist than a friend.
R. is another friend.
We communicate in the same wavelength but unfortunately she’s 15.
Starting to get a bit too mature.
Other than that I don’t have close friends.
Just acquaintances and cats.
Maybe I need to change my entire approach to life.
Maybe drinking isn’t the answer.

The Wrong Bus

Ave managed to walk all over downtown and get her errands done before 5.
She could take an early bus home or go to the art store 3 blocks away.
She was short on art funds and in this 90 degree weather she thought about how crisp the a/c would be inside the big blue bus.
She detached into her virtual world at the stop for a few minutes as a row of professionaly dressed non-sweaty females stealthily trickled up against the local library.
When the bus pulled up, there was something wrong about it.
The driver was unrecognizable to her.
She hadn’t taken that particular bus in a few months.
It was packed.
She waddled her way down the aisle to the first empty seat with an ocean view, which was also the last seat on that side of the bus.
She closed her eyes and grinned as the a/c vents blasted her thick curly head.
Just when she was about to pull the lever to lean the seat back, she noticed a lump on the armrest.
A blue goop.
Yuck.
A gum.
It was a gum!
A chewed up wad of a guck of a germ laden gum!
She quickly grabbed her bag and coat and hopped to the seat across; one with an ample view of the freeway.
The gum kept looking at her across the aisle as if it was about to grow legs and strangle her.
She took out her bus schedule in order to text her husband about not forgetting to pick her up.
There was no scheduled stop to where she was going.
Was this not the bus that she used to take all the time to get home?
The horizontal line on the trifold page could not be wrong.
This bus she was on made no such stop.
In a flash, she saw her fate before her: “Honey! I got on the wrong bus!”
“How do these things always happen to you?!? I can’t pick you up til 10!” (Hypothetical).
She ran to the front and begged for a transfer slip.
(Since her bus funds were also low.)
As she made chit chat at the next stop with a normally apathetic woman, she noticed a shady stone wall that beckoned at her.
She waited for the woman to look the other way before akwardly straying over there.
“Ahhh,” she thought, “no a/c but shade is nice.”
But something kept tickling her up her skirt til she finally became paranoid and shot up onto her feet.
She’d been sitting just above a spider web.
‘That spider was trying to rape me!’ she gasped.
The next big blue bus pulled up and Ave verified the destination with the driver.
She put her transfer into the machine thingy (what did we call it last time? Dollar gobbler?) and momentarily freaked out as an automated voice announced to the rest of the passengers, “TRANSFER DENIED. PASSENGER IS POOR. PASSENGER STOP HOLDING EVERYONE UP.”
She turned red-panicky toward the driver.
“Let me guess,” said the driver. “You got on the wrong bus?”
Ave waddled her way to the back seat of the ocean-facing side of the bus, the only available ocean-view seat, and did a general search of the area for any stray gum guck.
This was, in fact, the right bus.

image
Ocean view. Big deal.

The bus arrived early at her off stop.
She mingled with a pack of homeless waiting to be picked up.
Well “mingled” is such a strong word.
Maybe she just didn’t hide from them.

I Presume You Think I’m Stupid

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"A- I presume you know that .25 is #1/4

Dear Mrs. Upper Micro Management,

No, I did not know that .25 would be referring to 1/4, despite getting an A in my 4th grade math class.
Even so, I still managed to graduate from college and accurately calculate all the invoicing for both your businesses for the last two years.
In fact, I was going to work very hard today,  but I have decided my time would be better spent grasping my head around the concept that .25 is 1/4.
That must be why 25 cents is called a quarter!!!
Thanks for the enlightening post-it note.
Working with you is such an enriching experience.

Sincerely,
Your Eager Employee

PS- I notice you throw away the magazines in reception that don’t have white people on the cover.
I will speak to Sports Illustrated, National Geographic and People en Español to request special custom covers for our particular office.

PPS- I presume .5 is 1/2?

Advice on Befriending a Married Person of the Opposite Sex

If you are a married person,  don’t invite your spouse’s ex-BFF to dinner telling your spouse last minute when said ex-BFF has only kept in touch with you but ignored your spouse for the last five years.

And if you are the ex-BFF, don’t keep in touch with your ex-BFF’s spouse for five years after you called your then BFF to tell her she is a whining, self-serving hypocrite while she was at school and you’ve  made her cry in public and then ignored her for five years.

Just saying.

Jalapeño Dental Instruments

Once upon a time there was a young woman who worked packing dental instruments.
One day she didn’t have time to get breakfast or lunch so I she snuck a bag of jalapeño chips in her purse under her desk.
She started packing dental instruments and eating jalapeño chips at the same time (!!!)
They were supposed to be sterilized before use but then everyone realized how good they tasted and the woman kept eating jalapeño chips forever as the product’s popularity grew and grew.

Supplemental information:
Ironically the reason she didn’t get a chance to eat lunch was because she herself had a dental appointment.
But those instruments didn’t taste good at all.