Friday, April 23, 2010

Being Alive Takes a Lot of Expensive Maintenance

I'm sitting on my comfy couch watching Criminal Intent as I write this; very snuggly in my Ohio U sweathshirt blanket and with a snoring Jethro the puppy at my feet. Yes, it's Sunday night, and I'm a Monday-Friday workin' girl. But I'm up past my bed time (there's still a rather cozy feeling associated with that ;) on this Sunday night because I have an involuntary day off tomorrow - I have to get an 'upper endoscopy' done at my gastrointestinal doctor's outpatient clinic. (Do I sound exciting or what?!)

She thinks I may have either ulcers or a gluten allergy - not rooting for either, by the way. But tomorrow morning I will have to be put to sleep while they stick a big tube down my throat, from what I understand. Then when they're done, I wake up at some point, Aar drives me home, and I can't 'drive or sign legal documents' for at least 24 hours. (So driving to The Phoenician and working in HR is O-U-T.) Looks like I have a few more episodes of Criminal Intent in my future...

I am nervous. I guess it's whatever amount of nervous I usually am before I get drugged up. (It still creeps me out that I KNOW the drugs will put me to sleep but there's nothing I can do about it. I suppose that could reveal some slightly alarming control-freak tendencies of mine, but I'll ignore it for now. Because I CHOOSE TO!) But more than nervous, I am just feeling....throwing-hands-up-and-sighing-ish. I just want to know why my stomach always hurts, and I want to do something about it, and I want it to be gone. Whatever they find tomorrow, no matter how annoying it will inevitably be, I just hope it's something.

And I'll be honest with you - this procedure is not going to be cheap. I already know how much I owe for it, and when I first heard the amount I had a little hot flash/hand to the forehead moment.

(Pause: No, I am not going to a 'healthcare debate' place with this. No matter how outrageous medical costs are, I would still never ask perfect strangers to pay for mine.)

Have you ever just thought about what you're costing yourself? It's an idea I never quite entertained until my own personal maintenance was showing up in my own checkbook. Hair cuts, doctor visits, food, shampoo, shoes, laundry detergent, tooth brushes. Going to the gym! Advil, water, dry-skin lotion. Fiber supplements, rest!, seat belts, dentists...someone to talk to! It's exhausting trying to keep your engine running, especially when we tend to think of it not as 'a task' but simply 'living.'

It intrigues me that I am so high maintenance, just for the mere fact that I'm still around. I think I'd be less stressed about the financial burden of everything, though, if I started to think of taking care of myself as something I need to give some real time to and not a nuisance that seems to need attention at the most inopportune times.

Healthy rest, a working small intestine that doesn't hate me and well-exercised muscles shouldn't be a burden, but a joy, right? I am going to work toward that.

Thanks, God, for giving us such fun D-I-Y projects. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Being an Error

On Sunday, Aar and I watched "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist." It took Aaron a while to get past the title (I believe he was assuming it was going to be a rather snooty and pretentious two hours, mostly regarding the exclusive coolness that is indie music and the fact that we could all really learn a thing or two from sneaker-toting twentysomethings...) but we were just bored enough to watch it. Michael Cera is charming and I liked the atmosphere of "New York At Night." But the story was way too familiar; and therefore, at its ending, way too that's-never-the-way-it-happens-esque.

[spoiler alert]

I suppose it's not out of the ordinary for girls to feel they can't measure up to other girls. My experience as a girl myself leads me to believe it's not a particularly rare sentiment. But watching that movie made me remember all of the awful and really, downright cruel times I have been reminded, by others (mostly dudes), that I wasn't measuring up. Now I don't mean this to be a pity party for me, or to say I had it worse than others. But looking back on old journals (which I did, after watching the movie) I honestly cannot believe some of the s-word that was said to me back in high school, folks (and a few years after.) Gotta use the s-word. Because that's what it was. S-word.

I was left at parties without rides home, forced to sit on the other side of the booth at restaurants so that no one could mistake whomever I was with and me for a 'couple,' asked to act as a matchmaker for people I was crushing on, told I was too much like a 'sister' to be taken seriously, told I just wasn't attractive enough (at least that one was straightforward), told not to talk to someone IN PUBLIC, asked NOT to come to get-togethers so that a guy I liked could have some alone time with the girl he liked... I have literally been told, by a friend of over 5 years, not to stand next to him at a concert because he didn't want other people to know we were friends.

The thing of it is, all of these things were done - ALL of them - with a certain connotation of "come on understand, Maria." As in, look at yourself, Maria, and let's be real here. You can't blame me.

And what grew out of that was that I didn't blame. I never ever did. And I didn't wallow in it either. I just figured - hey, that's what I'd do if I were him, too; and I tried to enjoy being 'like a sister.' (Also I avoided mirrors.) I mean it - you should read my journals. It was never: "Listen to what this jerk did to me tonight!" And it was always: "Sheesh, I should really work on being so mediocre-looking...then maybe next time he'll let me sit next to him."

It wasn't just my appearance though either - I honestly found myself quite annoying and nerdy as well. The consensus seemed to be such.

In fact, let me tell you a particularly ridiculous story (getting a little fired up here.) Do you know that for two years I had a MAJOR crush on an older guy in my night he had a bonfire at his house and invited me. We were pretty good friends by this time, and we were both Christians. At one point during the night, he asked me to go inside with him for a minute, just the two of us (I was super excited, obviously). What he wanted to ask me was NOT 'where have you been all my life??' Haha. Instead, he wanted to know if I would be willing to flirt with his buddy a bit, who was rather lonely.

Now that was one time I actually had the rationale to get up and leave. Being pimped out just didn't sit right with me, I guess. But most other times when something like that happened, I had the reaction I was talking about before - 'well, I don't blame them.' And it was because of that reaction that I stayed friends with people. When I was asked not to sit next to someone at a restaurant or not to ride a roller coaster with someone at Cedar Point because he wanted to make sure no one mistook us as "together" I said... 'well, I suppose if I were him I wouldn't want that either' and I scooted on over.

I'm not saying this all didn't absolutely crush my adolescent spirit. It really did! I was really quite heartbroken that I was such an error of a girl. I'm just saying I generally reacted with understanding. And after watching Nick and Norah on Sunday night, I became so mad that I reacted that way. And I became so mad that I was treated that way.

Norah actually gets angry at Nick at the appropriate times - when he abandons her for a 'prettier' girl, for example. That is something I never did. (Also something I never did: told someone "well I can't compete with her" and heard "what are you talking about?!"Unrealistic movie plot problem #1). With Nick and Norah, however, it of course ends up with Nick seeing the 'obviously she is the down-to-earth-one' light and walking into the sunset (insert: NY subway) with Norah. With Maria it did not ever end so.

Now Aaron has loved me for a while, and it still confuses me sometimes, but I am grateful for it. But I still have friends (well, one in particular) who seem embarrassed of me. (The not-standing-next-to-me-at-a-concert thing? Last summer.) I'm not sure how I'll go from here regarding that relationship, but if I were to be honest I'd have to say I sure am mad about it. No matter how gawky, chubby, annoying, embarrassing or not-cool I ever was, I should have never been the object of embarrassment to anyone. And I should have never, ever 'understood' it. What a waste of how cool I could have been for someone else.

Friends, if you're treated unfairly, please make it stop. I think that will be my lesson for today. It's a shame that it has to be learned and is not instinctive, but I hope you learn it. I am still working on it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

God Himself could not sink this ship!

Ok, as best friend Amy has just informed me, friends, it's April 15. (Well, on the east coast, will be here soon too! :) 98 years ago today, the great Titanic sank down, down down. In the interest of full disclosure, I must share that the sinking of the Titanic is, like, a thing with me. Why? I have some theories, but I suppose I can't truly say... I liken it to how obsessivly fascinated some people get with historic events like the Civil War, the lives of the Kennedys, etc. I just have a thing with it. I find it so tragically beautiful; such a poetic statement about humankind in 1912 and before...and after! It's so mysterious and fascinating... I never tire of imagining the people on the boat decks; some from backgrounds of unbelievable wealth and others of unimagineable poverty, all facing such a primal fear and reacting in what was, in some cases, beautiful and in other cases, extraordinarily dark ways.

I love the culture of that time-period then as well; the clothes, the music, the hopeful comings-to-America, etc. What a time to build an 'unsinkable' ship and then watch it kill 1,500 people as it plunges into the icy North Atlantic. What a statement...what humility that renders.

I just have a thing, ok?

I started reading books about the Titanic when I was 11 - BEFORE the movie came out, by the way. Of course, once the film did come out I fell in love with it and it remains my favorite movie to this day. And YES, I am going to watch it today (tomorrow) after work with my begrudgingly obedient husband. (I promised to make him a cocktail 'or two' before we start it, heh.) Watching the movie is something I do every year on April 15... my family suffered through it for years, my college roommates obliged (albeit with no shortage of groans) and now Aaron faces the same tradition. (Hey, he knew what he was getting into.) I think they all dislike is mostly because I literally, truly, can quote the dialogue throughout the entire thing...and as much as I try not to say it outloud, sometimes I can't help it! ;) Honestly though, who of you has watched that movie and not at least been even marginally emotionally moved? The despairingly beautiful flute melodies and that dramatic ocean... what a STORY!

I always loved to sleep with the window open after watching it, too. I'm not sure where that came from necessarily, but around this time in Ohio is when the air first starts smelling sweet and the stars get a little brighter at night, and the mysteriousness of the Titanic just always felt a little closer with that silvery breeze coming in. Of course Amy will always frown on this ritual, as she will not let me live down the ONE YEAR when she, of course, was watching the movie with me and then contracted a pretty severe cold the next week. She whines to this day that it was because of my open window...pish posh! ;)

I suppose I really don't have anything particularly introspective to share today, just that I love remembering the Titanic on the day of it's great battle with fate, even though it ended tragically. It makes me feel thoughtful and lovely; it makes me feel like I have a connection with the past, even if for no other reason than that I acutely appreciate the magnitude of it.

One final note - did you know that a great number of people who died on the Titanic refused to get on lifeboats because they wouldn't accept the fact that the boat was sinking? That's a powerful image right there. If your boat's ever sinking, I hope you realize it, friend.

And remember - if you think God can't sink, can't destroy, or can't fix something, you can't be more wrong. I pray you'll find a lifeboat. :)

(Title of this post is, of course, that famous quote from White Star Line giant Bruce Ismay, who allegeldy is the one who begged Captain Smith to speed up the boat to 'make the papers.' He did this even though there was severe iceberg dangers. He then reportedly was one of the first to run to the front of the line and take a place on a lifeboat even though there was limited space available...I promised myself I wouldn't start getting all "Did you know?" in this post but I can't help it! Grin...)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How Grand

Mom and Dad are here. I could reflect on how rarely I see them, etc., but I'd rather just say how much fun it is to have them here, and how much fun we are having! Yesterday we went to the Grand Canyon - the first time seeing it for all four of us (my hubby included.) It was incredible... it was so fascinating what confusion it brings to one's depth perception. You could honestly look at it from a few different angles and believe it was 2-d... it's hard to imagine how vast it is, even while looking at it. How much fun God must've had creating all of that.

Isn't it kind of cool to know you're seeing exposed rock that was there when the dinosaurs were here? I think I was the only person in our group yesterday who found that endlessly fascinating, but I embrace it.

There's Aaron Michael, me, Ma and Pa! Yes, I had dreams all night of falling off the edge.

Well, Mom and Dad got here on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday afternoon I found myself in the hospital with stomach pain so bad, I thought they really didn't take my appendix three years ago and it was attacking me again. As we were on our way to the hospital, I started thinking what absolutely ridiculous, exasperating and horrible timing this was. I haven't seen my parents since Christmas and don't really know the next time I'll see them, and here we were going to be spending our afternoon at Scottsdale HealthCare hospital.

Whenever my plans are frustrated like that, I usually try to condition myself to think of how it could be worse; or why it might be GOOD timing and I'm just not feeling it. For example. I kept telling myself on Wednesday that I should count myself lucky, because my mom just happened to be here for my hospital visit - and who doesn't want their mom around when you're feeling awful? But I was having trouble convincing my heart to be positive...

And I thought about how God felt about the afternoon. I am sure that He gave me that stomach ache (the doc. believes I have an ulcer - have to go for a follow-up next week) at that moment for a reason, and that it happened at the 'right time.' That might sound silly - that God gives that much attention to my minutia - but I think He does. Not because I'm important, but because He's God. That's a blog for another day, I suppose...

But anyway, I started imagining how OFTEN God must be whispering "just WAIT...I know what I'm doing..." and how He must feel whispering that. Do you know that feeling? It's like that feeling when you're doing something kind for someone, but they interpret it at first as cruelty.

I'll give a silly example. On Saturday before Easter, I made Aaron a yummy batch of Funfetti cookies (Aar has a funfetti problem) while he was at the baseball game, and hid them in the storage closet to give him on Easter. That night, after dinner, he started begging me to make a batch of cookies. I kept telling him no, and he got frustrated enough that he decided to make them himself. I eventually just got out the funfetti's and let him at it ;), but while he was asking for cookies beforehand, I really felt like I came off pretty cruel. Why wouldn't I make him some? He seemed legitimately bewildered. But I felt anxious - I wished I could just tell him "WAIT! I know what I'm doing!" Do you know that feeling? It's not comfortable. It makes my belly hurt. (Though I guess these days, what doesn't? Nice.)

Anyway, my goal is to keep God from that stomach ache; to be able to tell him "I believe you. I'll wait to get frustrated. I'll figure this is for the best." Don't know if I'll ever get there, but I'll keep trying. Good thing we have a God who smiles on trying.

(That reminds me of my favorite CS Lewis quote: "He wants [us] to learn to walk and therefore He takes away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with [our] stumbles.")

Well, the stomach ache is on the back burner for now (always there, but not nearly as bad) and I am loving the time with Mom and Dad. We are back from the Grand Canyon and going to eat at an awesome Italian restaurant tonight. :)

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Joy

I didn't sleep great last night. I am feeling kind of under the weather...scratchy throat and tired muscles. I have discovered that when I don't feel well, I take to yelling at Aaron during the night. Well, less like yelling and more like...scolding. Apparently last night I yelled at him for leaving his laundry out... forced him to re-fill the air humidifier (a necessity in the desert!)... forced him to close the window... yelled at him for being on "my side of the bed"... etc. The worst part is that while in my sleep I am evidently quite demanding, in his sleep, Aaron is quite... obedient. Haha... I am a terrible person!

Today was a sunny morning, of course. In Ohio, sunny mornings are few and far between and always gave me the joyful, yet anxious, feeling that I should 'make the most of them' by spending them outside when possible. Here in Arizona, sunny mornings are the rule, not the exception. I guess the statistic is that we have something like 300 days of sun on average each year. While I don't think I've lived here long enough to not still love it, I admit there are days when I feel a slight nostalgia for clouds.

There's a Hootie & the Blowfish song (I love them, and am in no way ashamed of that. You should know this about me.) with a lyric that says "Sometimes you wanna see the rain, but the sun gets in your eyes..." and I love that. I am quite certain he was trying to be much more existential than I am now interpreting, but I felt that way this morning. I feel under the weather and a little homesick, and if there were ever a day for clouds, today should have been it! Come on!

I went to Good Friday mass last night. I don't belong to a Catholic parish anymore, but something in me still pushes me to mass on special occassions, especially when my Christian church doesn't have anything going on. The mass last night was beautiful and quiet and serene, but respectfully sorrowful. Growing up, it was my absolute favorite service of the year. So somber, but not bleak; because we know what is coming on Sunday.

I sang at my church growing up for something like 7 years or so I think, and there's a song we sing on Good Friday that I LOVE. We sang it last night, too - it is called "Behold the Wood." It is sung while the church practices the "veneration of the cross," which is when a wooden cross is placed at the front of the altar, and church members can come up and touch it, kiss it, etc. and pray. It is so lovely.

The thing that always gets me about Good Friday is trying to imagine how God's people felt when it was actually happening. It's not something I think we as a church concentrate on too much; to imagine a Good Friday when we didn't know Easter was coming soon after. There really isn't much reason to concentrate on that I suppose; other than the fact that it makes Jesus' ressurrection that much more SURPRISING, and I think that has value.

Can you imagine what Jesus' disciples must have been thinking? We're told that each time Jesus predicts his death to them it confuses them; that the truth of it was "hidden from them." I really don't think they understood that he was physically going to have to die. So if they didn't understand that, and then it actually starts happening... can you imagine? Here's what I imagine would have been going through my head:

1: WHAT THE?!?
2: Is he seriously dying?! I thought that couldn't happen!
3. Maybe He isn't who He said He was...
4. Did I just waste an entire 3 years of my life following this fraud?
5. How could He lie to us like this? I thought he was the Son of God! I really did!
6. This is so am I going to answer for my faith in Him after this?
7. He looks so pitiful up there...that can't be what God looks like...

etc. etc.

We don't really have any info on what the disciples did on Saturday, but I imagine it was quite a numb day. And fearful, and embarrassing. Everything they had been proclaiming so boldly for so long; the thing that had given their lives purpose was completely gone and dead. And we know it must have been a fearful day, because even AFTER Jesus rose, they still lived in fear because they were Jews (see Acts.)

But thinking about all that just makes Easter seem that much more glorious, doesn't it? They may have thought it was all over and that their lives were wasted, and then suddenly, oh! Right! He came back for us!

Maybe some of the disciples had the faith to know He wasn't gone for good, but I'm not sure I would have. Either way, imagining the monumental, body-filling relief and the joy they must have felt when they realized it was Him who rose on Easter morning makes my heart glad. Would that I can feel a little of that surprised and grateful joy tomorrow (and always!)

Well, Aaron is home from the Cubs game he went to this afternoon with our pastor, and I think I am going to lie down and chase this scratchy throat away.

By the way, I just had a little chat with my best friend Amy and promised to give her a mention in this post. Last night another of our friends stayed at Amy's place in Columbus, and at one point during the night Amy admitted to noticing that our friend didn't seem to be breathing (our friend has narcolepsy) yet Amy simply rolled over and went back to sleep. Now, I may be bossy in my sleep but at least I'm not homicidal! Watch out for Amy, Ohioans. (Not sure this was the "mention" she was hoping for but I have to write the truth!) ;)

Happy Easter! Be joyful!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'm New.

Hi, you.

Though I'm not new to journaling, this will be my first online deal, I suppose. Unless you count xanga, that is. Don't you forget about xanga.

I imagine I should introduce myself, but I kind of hate the idea of describing myself in a great, sweeping one-sided conversation because it makes me feel silly and a bit boring. I think if you'd like to get to know me, I'll invite you to just keep reading!

I can tell you some basics - I live in Scottsdale, AZ and work in HR at a big resort here in town called The Phoenician. I got the gig because I learned Spanish in school, and I love getting to speak it every day. I got married last September to the sweetest face I've ever seen, and its name is Aaron. He is quite lovely and we have a lot of fun. I have a puppy named Jethro B., but we call him Jet. He is lovely too. Right now he is asleep on the floor, and he is clearly having quite an involved puppy dream because he is whimpering little puppy barks every few moments.

I'm also a Christian, and decided a few months ago that I'm going to take the risk of taking some time off from "planning" my life and try to do nothing but seek God in each moment. I promise that's not as 'existential' as it sounds... what I mean by it is that each time I face a decision about what I should do with my time, even if just for an afternoon, I'm trying to decide what would love God the most. And then I try to do that. Sometimes it means sitting with Aaron on the couch and eating peanut butter. Sometimes it means volunteering at the Murphy School District in Glendale. It's a curious experiment but my heart seems to be reacting quite cheerfully...

Well, Aaron got a new job today (I'm sure I'll post more about that later) so I want to enjoy tonight with him. He has worked so hard!

How are you? Let's be friends.