Home > Blogging, Death, Entertainment, Family, Friends, Los Angeles, Love, Parenting > Between the grave and perfection

Between the grave and perfection

I was sixteen when I wrote my first blog twenty years ago tomorrow. image

I already wrote my twenty-year bloggingversary post, but there is so much more in my heart as my family and I drive back from Legoland.

When I wrote that first blog, I had just graduated high school. I’d already spent time living away from home. I’d long since held my first jobs as a Chinese restaurant hostess and McDonald’s grill girl. In the twenty years after writing that first post, I’d attend college, work as a dishwasher, work as an administrative assistant, be a Big Sister (twice, having once loved being a Little), study martial arts, make girlfriends, graduate from college, move to South Korea to teach English, move to Los Angeles, attend and graduate from UCLA Law school–while working as an extra on my favorite shows and watching my mom devolve into untreated mental illness–before teaching English in Japan, move back to Oregon and begin negotiating contracts, move back to Los Angeles, have a child, lose my mom to cancer (after, blessedly,  she had a chance to meet her first grandchild), run some marathons and half marathons, get married, have another child, keep blogging and do a million other things I could never have dreamed when I sat down to write that first blog.

I have done so many things. And yet, looking back, the biggest thing I’ve done isn’t some external milestone I’ve checked off a list.

In between all the hurt and all the hubbub, all the love and all the laughter, I have learned to like myself.

Once upon a time, I thought I might like myself someday when I was a little closer to perfect.

At 36, the thought makes me laugh.

I’m a whole lot closer to the grave than perfection. Why waste one more minute waiting for the impossible? No, thanks.

Today my family and I went to Legoland with my very first girlfriend and her family. Our kids had many adventures together, and apart. image Between those adventures, I enjoyed stillness while watching my youngest son flop and flail in pursuit of Legos to bang together.

Perfection had nothing to do with that sweet, simple moment, which was–still, somehow, simultaneously–nothing I’d dreamed of and everything I’d wanted:

Beneath the roaring of the rapid, rocky circumstances of life,
the deep, resounding peace
Of being Here


  1. June 22, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    I still maintain that perfection is boring. Life is lived in the messy imperfections.

    • June 22, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      My mom used to say imperfections–and mess–were signs of character. Perhaps. I know for sure they are signs of life, and I try to savor them now. ♡

  2. June 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Of all the things we do (our distractions and preoccupations too), loving ourselves and others (and our perfectly human imperfections) brings such happiness to us all. Smiles! 🙂

    • June 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      So, so very true! Stuck in traffic, listening to the boys laughing in the back seat, overflowing with love and excitement for all that is ahead … but even more so, all that is now. Big hugs. ♡

  3. Deb
    June 22, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    And if we were all perfect who would be writing all these blogs that bring us together…:)

  4. June 22, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Deborah … you are, sincerely, an inspiration and a challenge to me. I need to tell you that the hope of meeting you when we’re in SF in October for Himself’s 50th class reunion is probably my single biggest reason for looking forward to the trip. Hope we can make it happen!

    • June 22, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      That would be beyond rad! Also, thank you. ♥

      • June 22, 2015 at 10:15 pm

        Annnnd … you’re in LA, not SF… sigh. And they are very very far apart, according to Himself. I will NEVER get used to the sheer size of this country!

        • June 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

          See, but that’s not actually a bar for us … more like an instigator! We’re the kind of folks who wait until a week before our wedding to “plan” it. We’ve been wanting to visit some dear friends up north since before J was born; with how we sort everything out, it’ll be another five years … if we don’t seize some specific event to inspire the trip!

          • June 24, 2015 at 7:43 pm

            Really? Yay, it’ll be so cool if we can make this work! We’ll actually be based in Vallejo, but I’ve told Himself that I plan to abandon him for a day while I go exploring in San Francisco. (He detests cities and is happy to be left behind to commune with the other old salts.) So my day for that is Saturday 10/7 – it’s the other day that isn’t planned up to the hilt with reunion activities. I’ll have a car, and no set plan except to enjoy myself.

          • June 24, 2015 at 7:52 pm

            “Honey, we’re going up to the Bay Area October 7th.” — me

            “So, you’d like to do that for our anniversary, basically?” — Anthony

            “Yes.” — me


          • June 24, 2015 at 7:57 pm

            Bwa ha ha!

            Okay … so now I need to know something. I needed to know anyway, but I’m thinking about it now. My daughter is visiting from South Africa in a few weeks time and I’m having her bring over small gifts for a few special people, including the children of a few of my favorite bloggers. Can you give me some hints re your boys’ interests?

          • June 24, 2015 at 8:58 pm

            D likes … things that imply superhuman strength, or allow him to believe he has it. J likes anything–and I mean anything!–that gives him a chance to shake his arms/legs/booty. A musical instrument that also looked capable of beating bad guys unconscious would be the ideal match for both of them. :p

          • June 24, 2015 at 9:06 pm

            Cool. Which is which, in terms of age?

          • June 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm

            D is nearing on six years, J on fifteen months. Anything J has, D wants, and vice versa. Heh.

  5. June 22, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Liking myself is still a huge step.
    Some day.
    And I am always inspired to hear of other’s journeys to the light.

    • June 22, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      There are still some moments where I don’t like myself very much, but when I look at the totality as I would anyone else? There’s a lot of really good stuff. I can and will keep working on the less good stuff, but the less good stuff alone doesn’t negate the rest.

      I’d like to show you you through my eyes. If I had one superpower, it’d be that: to show anyone how I see them. Not everything is favorable, of course, but far and away are thoughtful and compassionate attributes in the people around me.

      I hope you see glimmers of your own soon.

      • June 22, 2015 at 10:13 pm

        Thank you. I was brought up to believe that liking/valuing yourself was vanity. And it was forcibly discouraged. I realise that my early teaching was wrong, but am yet to make the quantum leap.

  6. June 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Beautiful post! It took me a lot longer to learn to accept myself. Learning to like yourself in your 30s is fantastic! By the way, all of your interesting life experiences show in your captivating prose. Catie

    • June 24, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      Thank you, Catie! For me, it seems wild it took me so long in light of how many eloquent reflections I read over the years. With the message so eloquently expressed, how could I have missed it?! And yet, the wondering is idle. I really think some things are to be read and stored away versus read and understood immediately.

      I am excited to see my little sister already almost there at 25. That fills me with hope.

      Sending much love. ♥

  7. June 23, 2015 at 3:17 am

    Perfection be damned! Isn’t it fabulous when you realize life is full of perfect messes. Struggling through the mess, it is sometimes difficult. You inspire me.

    • June 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm

      It really is a perfect mess! Actually, one of the next deleted blogs I’m going to post is titled something like “A glorious mess of hope and wonder.” I was writing–mostly–about a physical mess, but I can appreciate it a very different way now. Much love.

  8. June 23, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Wow, you’ve lived quite the life!

    • June 24, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      I’ve been told when interviewing that I don’t emphasize the right points from my past; I’ll talk about reading a good book the same way I talk about researching killer whales. In my mind, it’s all just stuff that I’ve done, until someone says, “You did what?!” Having watched lots of Veep recently, I can’t help but think I suck at optics. :p

  9. terrikurczewski
    June 23, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Bravo! Keep blogging. You’re amazing and perfect and wonderful all wrapped up in one!

  10. June 24, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Congratulations on a well traveled life. I enjoy the moments you share with us. We should celebrate so here goes 🎊🍤🍢🍦🍰🎈🍷🍺

    • June 27, 2015 at 8:28 am

      Thank you! I’m excited for travels yet to come, though I expect they’ll be decades in the making at the pace with which my husband and I plan! :p

  11. June 24, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    I don’t think I even began to think about really accepting myself until sometime in my 40s, and even then, not sure how long that took! I am really pleased whenever I hear a parent with as much self-awareness as you share here, because I think that confidence translates really well to the next generation. And what a fun way to spend a day–Legoland! My granddaughters love that place…I’m hoping sometime I get invited to come along. 🙂

    • June 27, 2015 at 8:31 am

      It was a blast! My family had annual passes to Disneyland until a couple months ago; with their rates raised, we opted to let them expire. After our day at Legoland, we realized (i) the total family cost for an annual pass was about 20% of our Disneyland passes and (ii) annual passes would pay for themselves with even one more trip there this year. We will easily find occasion for another trip. I hope you’ll find yourself there, too! The miniatures alone were amazing.

      Something that’s exciting for me is seeing my sister have revelations in her mid-20s that I’m only just beginning to have now. That leaves me feeling so, so very hopeful about what’s ahead! ♥

  12. June 25, 2015 at 6:59 am

    ❤ to all of this!

    Who wants to be perfect? I'd much rather put my effort into becoming, over time, more and more human. Which is by definition "imperfect" — and is also so, so much more beautiful…

    • June 27, 2015 at 8:34 am

      So beautifully put!

      I remember how I used to detest specks of dirt on clothing. If there was a stain? It was out, immediately. Now I have the stained shirt my mom wore frequently in her final days, and when I wear it–or even touch it while rummaging through for another shirt–I smile and think of how she said the character was in the imperfection. She was right, though it took me years to understand it!

      (The good thing about this shift? Not becoming aggravated when I saw WordPress removed all the line breaks from my post! I’ll fix them up now for easier readability, smiling instead of griping.)

  1. December 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

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