Tag Archives: life

Growing Up George: Ch. 2 Cilantro Seeds

You ever get the feeling you’re capable of more than people give you credit for? It’s like I always surprised people that I could read and write.

And then there’s the opposite. People giving me too much credit because they expected a lot outta me. They expected me- little George from the Barrio- to grow up and become Cesar Chavez and then president and come back, repave the alleys and build a bridge to paradise. And I couldn’t even figure out who my dad was. Much less, college scholarships.

Not that I was even trying. Not for the scholarships, anyways.

My auto shop teacher knew a guy and I was going to start working there twelve, maybe sixteen hours per week. Help my aunt with the bills. Get a decent phone. Maybe buy my own ride. Eventually get a girlfriend. Girls didn’t want to ride bikes by that age. It’s like they grew up too fast and that killed part of the magic. But you couldn’t date a freshman cause then you knew eventually you’d break up cause you’d be 18 and she’d be like 15 or 16.

But if you had a nice ride, then you couldn’t lose. You’d get a girl your own age and if you really liked her you could get really down with her in the car. But then if it didn’t work out, eventually she’d go to college or move closer to the city and you wouldn’t even have to break her heart. That’s what the guys on the varsity team said.

I was going to try out for varsity soccer that year but I wanted the job more than the extracurricular credits.

I guess what I wanted was the girls. Or maybe just one girl.

Cindy Nuñez had moved to the other side of the neighborhood along with her seven brothers and sisters back when we had started middle school. She didn’t speak English back then but she didn’t have to say much to get to know her. It didn’t take her long to fit in or become popular because she was so sweet. Her straight long brown hair just barely covered her bare waistline when she’d wave at you and then turn around hurrying off somewhere. I had been studying her summer schedule and figured out she always went grocery shopping with her oldest sister on Wednesday mornings.

So the following Wednesday, I asked my aunt Matty if she needed anything from the store.

“I just went Monday.”

I was afraid she’d say something like that so I had drank half the milk and orange juice the night before, and poured the other half down the drain.

“Yeah but we’re outta milk.” I opened the fridge. “Looks like we’re outta o.j. too.”

“Already? Jeez Louise, are you training to become a wrestler? You’re already tall enough. Stop drinking so much milk.”

I was really only like four inches taller than Aunt Matty, which wasn’t saying much.

“I was thirsty.”

“Alright alright, that’s not how I meant it. Here, get me cilantro seeds.” Aunt Matty handed me a ten dollar bill.

“That’s alright, Tía. This one’s on me.” I had been weeding out my neighbor’s yard and had about twenty dollars on me. I reached for the car keys by the door.

“What are you gonna take the car for? It’ll fit fine on your bike.”

I clenched my mouth and looked up at the ceiling with my eyes closed. Took a deep sigh.

“I did some work on your car last night and want to see if it’s running good,” and I shot out the door.

“Mentiroso!” she yelled behind me, liar, and I heard one of her rubber chanclas that she wore hit the door, but I was already backing out of the driveway in a cloud of dirt.

I scanned the grocery store parking lot and saw Cindy’s sister’s Corolla there under a magnolia tree. Checked myself in the mirror. My hair was too long and bushy, beyond the help of gel. I slapped on my Pirate’s cap and glided inside. I had to extend my two minute trip inside to be long enough to bump into her.

Luckily, she was in line at the register reading tabloid headlines when I walked in. Everything else seemed to fade in her presence. Sounds became faint and echoed, like when you’re under water. She was wearing her hair in a bun and had a strappy red camisole on. If I said her name, she’d turn around and smile, and I’d have enough to live on for another week. But then she might expect me to say something back to her, and I wasn’t prepared for that.

She must have felt someone staring at her because she looked up and our eyes met. I felt the soles of my shoes melting into the floor. She waved.

“Hey George. Are you trying our for varsity this year? I just got an email saying the girls’ tryouts are tomorrow and Friday.”

“Uh. Yeah. Of course.”

Because, duh, the girls’ soccer players always went to the guys’ games and vice versa and Cindy had played defense the year before. How could I have forgotten that minor detail?

“Good luck!” she went on, “Hopefully I’ll see you around then.”

“Looking forward to it.” Well, that was stupid. What a loser thing to say. ‘Looking forward to it.’ The words resounded in my head for like the next forty-eight hours. Cindy had just giggled and held up a magazine that said someone important had broken up with someone less important. I shrugged and went on my way.

‘Looking forward to it.’ Man was that stupid.

 

Growing Up George: Ch. 1 The Headline

“George. George. My car’s making that sound again.”

Now I love my Aunt Matty but 6AM on a Sunday???

“Can you check it before I go to church?”

I rolled over and covered my head with my pillow.

“Were you going to go with me today, George? George? I know you’re awake.”

“No I’m not.”

“Come have breakfast.”

Aunt Matty, at her forty years of age, was full of energy, but her long silver hair made some ask if she was my grandma. She took me in after my parents died, though I’ve always been somewhat unclear on the details. She never really had boyfriends, and sometimes she openly told me she hated men, so she was gonna try to keep me a boy for as long as possible.

However there are some things that at sixteen a boy just cannot ask his aunt and at breakfast that morning I found myself cautiously trying climb up my family tree.

“Didn’t Dad have no brothers?”

“Whadd’ya wanna go knowin’ that for?”

“It’s just you never talk about it.”

“They’re all dead.”

“How many were there?”

“Three.”

“Including Dad?”

“Look George. I could lie and tell you your dad was an air force pilot and he died for all our freedoms and all that romantic crap. That ain’t what happened. You ever seen any uncles pull up to our house in their Bentleys looking for their long lost nephew?”

“Well, no- I just-”

“Then you don’t have none.”

“Well they ain’t gotta be rich. I could use a regular one just the same.”

“As far as you’re concerned, I’m your dad and your uncles and your ma all rolled into one.”

“That’s fine Aunt Matty. I didn’t mean to-”

“You going to church?”

This woman thinks I’m the Flash expecting me to fix her car and clean up in time for the 9 AM service. “I’ll try to make the afternoon service.”

That afternoon, I ended up at the library. I hadn’t been able to fix her car and I resorted to YouTube. Did I mention we didn’t have internet at home? Well we didn’t. My aunt said it would have disturbed the spirit of peace in our house but looking back I think we just couldn’t afford it. That’s the thing about growing up poor. A lot of times you don’t know you’re poor unless other kids point it out, and I wasn’t the type to openly share that information.

So there I was, looking at “car videos” when I stumble upon the city’s newspaper site. Main headline: “Parole Panel Delays Decision in Ballesteros Murder Case.” I didn’t care much for criminal law. But my last name was Ballesteros. At least it had been, originally, back in grade school. Then my aunt had it legally changed because the other kids were making weird comments like “Don’t mess with George, he’ll have you sniped,” and “You know where my brother can buy stardust?” Things that suddenly made sense upon reading the article, because this Ballesteros, whoever he was, had given my father and uncles a bad name.

Still, I thought if I could talk to him, maybe he’d have the answers my aunt didn’t want to give me.

Too Charming for Myself

Last time the a/c technician came to the office, he kind of asked me for my phone number and i kind of said No.
Today he is here again and i think i made him cry.
I told him no one told me he was coming.
It is unnerving for a guy to just show up and want to come in, and i think he got sad.
I just passed him down the hall and gave him my best fake smile i have to offer.
Charmed, no doubt.

This morning i went to do ministry work which is done this way in my congregation:
Whoever is a member of that congregation or an active member of another congregation can meet at a set time at our hall.
In our hall it is only in the mornings and since i work most mornings and oversleep the other mornings, (without mentioning the mornings on which i do both), i tend to only make my own arrangements and go out in the evenings.
But i try to show up Fridays and Saturdays to the group meetings when i can.
Today only one brother was going out in the ministry.
He is a Vietnam Vet and has a lot of stories.
(We don’t go to war but that was before he studied the Bible).
He is retired and married but his wife died twice and the paramedics brought her back to life.
(“Oh Well,” he says).
Now she is overweight and can’t really walk anymore, so he is always alone or with this single younger brother who is a little socially awkward, but i’ll leave his stories for another day.
So this brother is from Central America and he’s always contrasting his childhood on a coffee farm with the time he spent in trenches in Vietnam.
Later in life he had other jobs, the last of which was a lawyer.
Today we were speaking with a genuine hippie, the kind you only find in Ojai, Seattle or Oregon.
Mr. Hippie owns a big property (big by California standards) and feeds wild animals from scraps he finds in the neighbors’ trash bins.
He bathes in the creek or ocean with his clothes on.
(Thank God).
I’m pretty sure he was stoned the whole time we were talking to him.
You see, people round here are not that nice.
But he invited us to take a seat and the brother i was with was telling him his war stories while a woman who rents a room on the property overheard and was visibly disgusted.
That is the problem with people round here.
No one wants to hear the truth.
They just want to paint butterflies on their walls and build water fountains out of rocks they find in their neighbor’s driveway.
Still, despite his probably being stoned, we had a good conversation about making conscientious use of the earth’s natural resources.
He pretty much thinks everything humans do is damaging and we are bound to destroy ourselves.
I tried to read him a couple verses from the Bible about the future but if you are a woman, perhaps you can relate to the following:
There is a point when a woman is having a conversation with a man when you know he is dismissing your opinions as not having any serious weight to them because he is seeing you as a sex object.
Confirmation of this suspicion came when he proceeded to ask me my age.
What the hell, you go talk to people about God and stuff and guy just wants to know if you’re young enough to bear his offspring.
Of course i only put two and two together because he held his gaze for too long.
I was uncomfortable but the brother i was with didn’t seem to notice and kept sharing war anecdotes.
I don’t mind that the brother strays off topic because i wonder what his mind would be like if he didn’t have anyone to share his traumas with.
He could be one of those homeless guys who heckle my friend and me at the park.
Vets have been through a lot and though i am opposed to war, they do not get the social help they need- that is more than obvious.

I am still adjusting to the local small town artsy culture there is here.
I still haven’t decided if i have any friends yet.
One sister whom i spend a lot of time with and yeah, she’s pretty cool, kind of keeps hinting that she wants to see my twitter account but i don’t think our relationship is there yet.
At least i’m not.
(My account is public but i dunno. It’s a big step).
There is a sister who i was getting along great with but last time i saw her she kind of got on my case about not meeting in the mornings and i am the kind of person that usually doesn’t reply… but the more i think about it, the more i wish i had said, “Uhm some of us have to work.” and possibly even be more insulting because she lives off a trust her husband has and he is a little bit disabled, and she doesn’t work because she has asthma.
I have asthma too but i work.
So it is just irritating when people pressure you to do more and you already feel like you’re doing the best you can and instead of asking how they can support you, they focus on what you can’t do.
Don’t get me wrong, i love everybody, at least in theory.
But when things like that happen i don’t have anyone that i can talk to about it because i am supposed to be this model minister who gives discreet answers to stoned hippies and doesn’t tell off the homeless guys who heckle her at the park, she doesn’t tell people to mind their own business when they ask about her personal schedule and she doesn’t talk about her bouts of depression because she is supposed to be always happy and smiling and encouraging and God i hate everyone, i swear everything i do is all out of love to God and no one else.

The Hungry Commuter

On a very hungry day of the week, my friend CM was driving home from work on the northbound freeway between Goleta and Buellton when she was passed by a California Highway Patrol car at the precise moment she happened to be biting into a burger.
He pulled into the lane behind her and switched on his siren lights.
She safely stored the burger in front of the speedometer until she found a decent spot to pull over.
The officer stepped up to her window and asked, “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?”
CM glanced under her dashboard.
“Well, no… I couldn’t tell because the burger was covering the numbers…”
The officer told her he was going to have to write her a ticket and went back to his car.
Just then a strong ocean breeze came upon them and swept one of her food wrappers out the window.
She watched in despair through the rear view mirror as the wrapper stopped every few seconds only to then roll away some more.
Not only was she facing a speeding fine, but now, if the officer saw the wrapper, she would also be facing something like a $400 littering fine.
The implications were overwhelming.
Should she risk endangering her life by stepping out of her car next to the busy freeway traffic just to pick up a silly wrapper?
Would the officer think she was going to attack him?
Should she pretend nothing had happened and pray the officer didn’t notice the wrapper rolling by?
As the officer stepped back up to CM’s window to hand her the ticket, she saw the wrapper lodge itself behind a prickly plant.
The officer asked if there was anything else she wished to tell him.
“Well yes…” she said, “Would you mind handing me that wrapper that just flew out of my car?”
“Where is it?”
“Behind us, lodged in that prickly plant.”
“That one there?”
“Yes.”
“Ok.”
So he handed her the wrapper and sent her on her way, with clear instructions not to put burgers in front of her speedometer in the future.

Someday

The last time Rita saw Theo, he was at a red light about to make a right turn onto a busy speedway that led straight into the city.
If it hadn’t been for that damn zigzagging biker, she wouldn’t have honked her horn.
He wouldn’t have turned towards her.
Their eyes wouldn’t have met one last time.
He shrugged and blushed.
She threw her hair back and laughed, shaking her head at him with a twinkle in her eye.
He waved, made the turn, and that was that.
Of course, there’s always that instinct…
That human survival skill that kicks in around your mid-thirties that makes you want to seize whatever opportunity you have left in life because it may not come around a second time.
She fought the urge to follow him.
Besides, she was in the wrong lane.
She drove forward towards her grandparents’ beach ranch.
One intersection.
No U-turn.
Two intersections.
No U-turn.
Three intersections.
She was going for it.
‘It’s now or never,’ she thought.
Never mind the milk in her trunk that would probably spoil.
Never mind her niece she was supposed to pick up from school. She knew the way home. She was old enough to walk.
She would make a U-turn at the next intersection, just past the railroad tracks.
Then she heard the train coming.
She slipped her heel off her right foot and jammed down on the accelerator.
She passed the tracks nice and clear before the rail started to come down.
She made the U-turn and then- No.
It was too late.
The silver late-model railcars reflected the intense summer sun one by one.
Beyond the glare she imagined happy couples falling in love at first sight and dining together for the first time.
By the time they got to their destinations, they would have exchanged addresses and they’d send each other post cards until they were ready to move in together.
50 years from now they’d be celebrating the anniversary of the date they met on this very train.
Rita clenched her teeth and lay her head on the steering wheel.
What was this, the 300th car? 400th? She’d lost count after seven.
Finally, the rail started going up and she didn’t know whether to try to find Theo’s car, who by now was probably a good five minutes ahead of her, or to turn back around and go to the ranch.
“Ah, what the hell,” she said to herself. “What do I have to lose?”
But the rail came back down again.
She rolled her eyes in despair.
Was the train going to go in reverse?
Yes, the train was going to go in reverse and switch tracks.
Ludicrous engineers.
How dare they.
But it was a momentary false alarm, and the train went forward again on its way.
Rita wouldn’t have known that, having made another U-turn and taken a back alley over to the speedway.
She thought Theo would be at his brother’s house and took that exit.
She wove between faster cars down the boulevard, looking for his car, which he would have to have parked out on the street.
She went around the neighborhood three times, unable to recognize the house.
“Perhaps they painted it? Added a second story?”
She hadn’t been there in five years.
Finally, she gave up and pulled over at a gas station.
She thought she saw Theo’s car, but there was a young woman driving it.
Up until then it had never occurred to her that Theo might have moved on.
The notion had been there- the fear– but not the belief.
After all, why should he move on, if here she was daydreaming about him after all these years?
Her imagination had been enough to fuel her affection, so why shouldn’t he feel the same way?
Suddenly, it all made sense.
Why he’d stopped texting her all of a sudden.
Why he’d been so curt every time they happened to run into each other.
Of course.
He’d moved on long ago.
How could she be so dumb?
It was there before her eyes all along.
She didn’t finish filling her tank and went home.
The truth is, it wasn’t Theo’s car at the gas station that day.
Theo had been headed into the city, but after he got on the speedway, he got off at the first exit and came back around toward where he’d seen Rita.
In fact, he would have seen her were it not for a passenger train blocking his view.
When the rail finally lifted, what with the sun in his eyes and the eagerness to pull out of there, he didn’t see Rita turning her car around and Rita sure as hell didn’t see him.
He went to her grandparents’ ranch, didn’t see her car there and waited half an hour for her to show up.
A little girl passed by the gate.
“Is Rita around?”
“Aunt Rita?” said the girl. “She was supposed to pick me up. Something real important musta come up.”
“Will you tell her…”
“Huh?”
Theo saw he was making the young girl nervous.
“Never mind. Thanks.”
He drove off back into the city, where he made a decent living and lots of friends over the next couple of decades, letting time roll down his back.
Rita found the strength to move on too.
She married a real nice man whom she gets a real nice alimony check from every month, which kind of sort of makes up a little for his real nice new wife that’s taken her place.
But no one’s taken Theo’s place.
If they’re not so knuckleheaded, perhaps they’ll find that out someday.

Equals Mortified 

Idk why i feel like i need to explain this right right now of all times.
I sometimes remember- i should explain this!
And then i forget.

Many many years ago, when the internet was AOL, i used the = sign invariably to represent eyes, the way people today use the : sign.
Some of you may remember that once famous show “equals 3” as in “=3”.
WELL i always thought it was a cat, you know, with the eyes and the chubby cheeks…?
I used to sign my emails that way.
Then one day, not sure why, my husband saw it and said, Why are you typing penis?
Me: What do you mean?
Him: That emoticon. It’s a penis.
Me: No it’s not. It’s a cat. You know, like the YouTube show. Equals Cat.
Him: *tilts head* Yeah i guess in a really innocent person’s mind that could be a cat but on the show, it’s a penis.

Thus i came to find out i had been signing my emails “Have a great day! Penis, Ave.”

Why I’ll Start Writing Again

Whoa, I just read what I wrote almost a year ago– That’s some dark stuff there.

I didn’t remember having written that, but looking back I understand what was going on.

That’s the power of blogging.

Well the old me is back, the real me, the one who uses a pseudo-pseudonym and wants to write 24/7, even when I’m dreaming.

The truth is I never really stopped writing; it was just very dark and lonely and unsuitable for this blog’s audience.

So it was on Tumblr.

Naturally.

I don’t want to go into details about the past, but my marriage is as good as it’ll ever be.

I am less interdependent so if that relationship goes down I think I might skip a beat but probably not 2 and definitely not 3.

Now I no longer commute for work. My boss got me an office a few blocks from my home, so I could concentrate on sales, and I no longer have to wait for coworkers to leave the room before I can write.

I’m all alone here, just me and the Internetz.

And the phone. That rings every now and then but I’m not sure how it works. I think it’s trying to tell me something.

Oh! My faithful subscribers. How I’ve missed thee. If only you could know the anguish our separation has wretched me with. I shalt never leave thee again!

Unless I die. In which case, leaving thee is entirely involuntary and should not be held against me.

Unless it’s suicide.

If I kill myself you can be mad at me. But not if it’s accidental, like an overdose. Stuff loses its strength over time. They don’t make it like they used to.

Anyway, let me tell you what my office is like.

It is on the second story behind an art gallery which sells weird ethnic art, like the African pieces my boss had at his office. I imagine that subconsciously it largely influenced his decision to choose this location.

There is a winery next next door and the mother of the owners is a new friend of mine from my church. My friend also owns the vineyard so in a way it makes me feel special somehow even though it has little to do with me.

In my office, there is a tiny window out of which one can view happy little people- “kids” i think they are called- playing in a park-like setting, around a beautiful fountain surrounded by red and yellow sycamore trees.

The window has bars over it in the old Spanish style and is a small reminder that whilst i am at work, i am to think of myself as a prisoner and partake in none of those joys which i may observe below.

My one point of social interaction is when i walk to the post office every day, or when i get lucky, the FedEx drop off.

The clerks at the post office know me now and they are like 100 times nicer than the ones in DOWNTOWN SANTA BARBARA- yes, I HOPE YOU ARE READING THIS you mean clerk who made shipping packages from there a living hell.

(Just that one clerk though- all the other ones were nice, especially Daniel and Michael. I think they are vets). (War vets not animal vets otherwise their career counselors should have told them).

Everyday the bell at the post office tower chimes out a song. Lately it’s been a lot of Christmas music, which some of us find tastefully offensive. But mostly it’s old American classics, the same kind that used to play in my 65 Mustang’s AM radio.

My office kind of has more space than i need and no walls. My boss let me have his old glass desk so i need to rearrange the computer stuff onto that but i’ve been meaning to do it for 6 weeks now and i just can’t seem to bring myself to do it.

I have what they call lazyphoria.

The office is very cold but it has a brand new climate system which no one knows how to program for heating, only for cooling.

Sometimes i bring my guitar but i can’t play very loud because i’m afraid the other tenants will hear me and ask me to perform for them. Then my boss might find out i’m using the office for concertos and then he’d want to get me a bigger office. But i like this one just fine.

There is a skylight on the ceiling.

Well duh, it’s not like there would be a skylight on the floor… *clears throat*

I guess that counts as a window too. I can see some form of rusty pipe and sometimes clouds, but today the sky is blue- like a tepid sky-blue.

Once, down the hall, the hatch to the roof was open and I climbed the ladder because no one was around and the hatch was open, beckoning for someone to climb up through it. There were only more pipes and roof gravel.

Downer down the hall there are a couple of architects who mostly just look stuck up but are actually quite decent, i imagine, and a married couple who are masseuses, (am i saying that right?) and they are just about the nicest people one could ever meet.

Downstairs there is the shared girls’ room, which ought to have but does not have a mirror, because i assume the other tenants are too ugly an no one wants to remind them of that.

Someone is building a tapas bar so i have that to look forward to.

Perhaps then i shall make a friend or two.

But knowing me, i’ll probably just observe them and then write about them.

So now you have something to look forward to too!

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Stopped Writing

I was once a great writer.
Similes and metaphors rolled off my fingertips like…
Marbles on silk?
But why revisit the past?
That was then.
Today, i don’t write.
I sulk.
In bed.
While driving.
At work.
At lunch and then dinner.
I sulk 24/7.
I am a master sulker.
I am the Sulking Works.
You ever excited about something and you wanna tone it down a bit, just come to me, i’ll show you how it’s done.
Sulk-o-rama.
Empress Sulkith.
You get the idea.
What happened to that bright-eyed curly-haired woman passionate about bubble wrap?
She’s dead.
I’ve been in an emotional coma ever since November.
I am not quite ready to write about that yet, but i will have to eventually.
I am extremely careful about which fights to pick with my husband.
Most of the time it’s best to just sleep.
I love him and he loves me.
Or some distorted quiet version of me…
Fatigued, i’ve avoided my creative projects that for years kept me ticking.
There’s no one on the other side of them.
What, of any plausible interest, could i ever produce?
I am not particularly good at anything at all.
For instance, tonight i managed to somehow close my car door from the outside while my head was still inside.
Who does that?
I got distracted cause i was looking at the stars.
The stars look amazing on a clear night, and most every night is clear.
Absolutely mesmerizing.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m extremely grateful to God for all i have.
I was starting to dance, like when i was a kid.
Then something happened.
I said something.
I must have.
I don’t remember.
It was in November.
Haven’t been able to do anything creative since.
What’s the point?
I haven’t an audience.
Everything i do is wrong or boring.
Especially my job.
Then my boss and his wife sold their other practice.
Now i’m surrounded by people every day.
Before it was just Mondays and Wednesdays.
I was happy.
Had at least half the week to my introverted self.
Now it’s going on 6 weeks that people are always around me.
I can’t stand it.
There’s no time to heal from their previous presence.
Bleh.
Draining.
Even with this new book review project my friend and i are working on, nothing stirs my creative juices.
I need a break.
Hopefully i’ll get the hour-reduction i asked for.
That’s created additional stress on my marriage.
He doesn’t say it’s a bad idea; but he has pointed out every possible drawback.
I just want to go to Legoland and forget about everything.
Whoops, my typing woke him…
I used to be a great writer.

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.