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The memory of typhoons

In 2004, I experienced my first typhoon in a small coastal town on Japan’s main island, Honshu. I filmed myself standing in the middle of a street while everything shook and swayed around me.

All was silent and still in the eye of the storm. I couldn’t believe the winds would soon whip around me again, but they did. I howled with them when they returned. The windy days I’d loved at home were nothing compared to this.

I enjoyed my later typhoons, too, but none invigorated me the same way my my first one did.

Today, an ocean and a dozen years removed from my first typhoon, I look out my SoCal windows and see the trees thrashing in the wind. The wind rattles my home’s windows, slamming sheets of rain against them.

I don’t know what it is about the wind, but I have always loved it. I will always love it. This wind-advisory afternoon, I’ll snuggle up with my husband and my little boys, content in now … but also remembering the thrill of being one small body standing strong against ferocious winds.

Thunder Thighs Forever

February 10, 2017 Comments off

For more than three decades, I shared a birthday with my mom.

In October 2010, I faced my first birthday without her. Cancer had claimed her body in March 2010.

mom me n d

(but not before she met my Li’l D, the first of her many beautiful grandchildren)

Writing about her sometimes challenged me, especially early in this blog’s days. How could I show all her love, humor, compassion, and ferocity, while still being true to the hardships I endured both growing up and saying goodbye to her?

I got as close as I’ve ever gotten in my 2014 birthday letter to her, my blog’s most popular post by far, “Dear Mom.” In a single paragraph, I was able to sum up my experience of being her daughter better than I had before or have since:

You always begged me not to write about you. You thought I’d write about how you beat my siblings and me, how you yelled at us, how you could barely feed us and only kept us in a home by selling other people’s trash. I do write about these things, because they’re part of you. But they’re a small part, so enormously insignificant compared to your laughter, your love, your lessons in forgiveness, our birthday trips to Farrell’s and Pietro’s. I wish I’d written more about you in your life, so you could have seen how greatly your loving acts overshadowed your lost and tired ones. I wish I could’ve started writing sooner, or that you could’ve lived longer to see your love through my eyes.

I was a little nervous when I wrote about my mom in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor: Poverty, Predation, and Understanding Love.” I posted it on Progressive Army, a site with readers knowing nothing about my mom but what I wrote there. Since they didn’t know my mom, I worried they’d take away from the piece a unidimensional understanding of a woman enormously complex and vivid.

My mom was and remains my foremost superhero. While the word “superhero” is thrown around a lot these days, I mean this fairly literally. One of my favorite things about my mom was her superhero alter-ego, the uniquely malodorous Thunder Thighs. Read more…

A sitcom jersey & memory lane

On Wednesday evening, I caught the flu my two-year-old had just ditched. I stayed home Thursday, but was determined to make it to the office on Friday. Why was I so determined? First off, my cube is quiet and tidy, unlike my home. I cherish my time there.

Second, a beloved teammate was in from another office this week. I so seldom get to see him, I wasn’t about to let a little thing like “recuperating” keep me from the office.

Finally, it was a rare jersey day. With the Super Bowl just a couple of days away, I could wear a jersey and sneakers to the office! How could I sit that out?

My husband, Anthony, loves hockey and owns at least a dozen jerseys. At first, I put on one from his alma mater. It more or less matched my comfy toe shoes, which was this sports-ambivalent person’s main criteria for choosing a jersey.

Seeing myself in it, unfortunately, I could easily imagine a dozen conversations explaining that, no, I didn’t actually go there. (Been there, done that. It’s no fun for an introvert, even one in peak health!)

Anthony brought out one from a bin under our bed. Unlike the first, this one, a gift from his third season on a show for which he worked five years, had shared meaning. I’d worked on the show as an extra once, when my husband and I were newly dating. My heart fluttered when I caught a glimpse of him from the bleachers, and again when he swung by to say hello. Read more…

Because I am lucky

One of my sons is sick today. Because I am lucky, his grandma is watching him while his dad and I work.

The other son’s school didn’t open on time. Someone on the staff either missed an alarm or had an accident, and so my little one and I stood outside the school for 45 minutes before it opened. Because I am lucky, my manager laughed when I explained I’d be late. “What, you don’t want to leave him to fend for himself in the parking lot!?” he replied.

My son shrieked with glee when he saw his teacher, which made me smile.

Every day, I am able to either be with my sons or leave them with people who care. Because I have been unlucky, I am grateful to be so lucky today.

Categories: Family, Parenting Tags:

We Grew Up in Violence

My happy scarers

My two-year-old hides behind his hands, then throws his arms out wide while shouting, “Boo!”

I shriek as if startled, which makes him scream in delight before devolving into giggle-fits.

We repeat this over and over. Sometimes, we’ll do it a hundred times in one sitting.

My seven-year-old recently asked, exasperated, why I pretend to be afraid.

I replied, already wistful, “Your brother will understand soon enough that he’s not actually scaring me. So while he still believes it, I’ll keep on shrieking. I’ll keep on cherishing the sweet sound of him laughing, knowing he’ll soon enough be on to other joys.”

“Oh. Will you scream if I do it, too?”

“Sure, if your brother’s around.”

So he tried, too, and I shouted in mock horror.

Now, for at least a little while, both my little boys take turns scaring me, and I’m happy.

Bernie, Because I Was Poor

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