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Friday, March 16, 2018

Why Jichaan is Mad at Me

I’m trying my best to ignore the simmering resentment emanating from the in-law suite.  We are in day two of a massive geriatric tantrum.  

What caused this sweet old man to retreat into a sullen silence you ask?  

Let me tell you.  It is because we won’t sell the house and move to Houston (city) so he can walk to the Asian grocery store when he wants to.


And because Bill told his father that he discussed it with me and WE agreed WE don’t want to do that, get this, are you ready for this?  

He told Bill I’M calling all the shots.  Like, I’m the boss.

Can’t let your wife have a voice in a marriage right?  That’s crazy talk!  Says the man born in 1923.

Anyway, so he’s mad at me too.

I gave Bill a list of all the things that would be different around here if I were REALLY in charge.  

Suffice to say it included a two story pool with waterslides, a home theater and a yoga/sun room.  And three more dogs and two cats.

The first day of the tantrum I was worried.  Bill, trying to save me the drama, hadn't told me about their fight the night before.

So Jichaan stayed in his room with the door shut all morning.  Finally I knocked and asked if he was ok.  (Hello?  Are you still breathing in here!?)  

Yes he was but something was clearly wrong.  He didn’t want to see the kids all day and he didn’t set foot outside or in the garden for the first time in the month he’s been here.  He burnt his tofu too. 

I told Bill to come home early because I was worried he didn’t feel well and just didn’t want to tell me.

Turns out he’s just mad.

Turns out even when you’re 95 you still don’t grasp your days are numbered and you should spend them wisely, in love, and not chuck them away being angry all day.

Well, I will learn that lesson for him.

So I will spend the day lovingly checking on him, asking the kids to go see him, bringing him snacks and offering to share our supper.  Which will probably drive him totally bonkers.

Anyway - hug your grammies and grampies, even if they don’t want you to.

You’ll be spending your day in a right way AND it’ll probably drive them nuts.  Two birds.  One stone.

As Mark Twain liked to say:  “Always do right.  This will gratify some and astonish the rest.”  

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Growing Flowers with Jichaan

What I’ve done this week:

Listened to the movie ‘Inside Out’ 1,247 times.

Listened to Ojichaan tell me how to prune my roses so the ‘air’ can get through and they’re less prone to disease. 

Listen to Ojichaan tell me where and how to plant my grape vines so they get the max sun.  

Listen to Ojichaan tell me why I need to transplant my plants so he can have an easier path through my garden.  

Listen to Ojichaan tell me how to water properly so the water ‘gets deeper’.

Listen to myself chant my new mantra:  "He's good for the kids, he's good for the kids, he's good for the kids, he's good for the kids, he's good for the kids...

Because there is only one proper way to do EVERYTHING.  And you must listen carefully.  Until Benji falls in the mud/loses his boot and is walking around/picking up dog poop/sticking the hose down his pants/pulling up my tomato plants/stepping on my pumpkin plants/pulling the fertilizer off the shelf and trying to play with the TOXIC CHEMICAL.  Cue me, pulling out all my hair.

Anyway.  This morning Bill got to listen to him for about 45 minutes.

Here’s the lowdown: 

Apparently Jichaan thinks I should go to work and hire a Japanese nanny to take care of the kids.  (Works for me).  Also, that we should move into Houston so he can walk to stores.  (Buy him a condo!)  And so the kids can make some friends with Japanese families.  (Good idea).

Anyway and the kicker - he also wants Bill to quit his job, move to Taiwan with us and open a pizza restaurant.

Yeah.  I’ll just let that one sink in for a minute.

He wants Bill to quit his job where he’s been working at the same company since University, over twenty years, move his entire family to Taiwan and start a restaurant.  Selling pizza.

I said to Bill... “Let’s go!”.  The only answer to absurdity is absurdity.

But that's ok because now Jichaan wants to move to Taiwan HIMSELF.  

I mean…we don’t even need to get into the craziness of that idea.  

In all the angst and stress involved in getting him here and settled it never once occurred to me he’d rather live alone.  

Of all the terrible things I was imagining that could happen:

“He’s going to fall/get hurt/get sick/die on my watch while I have the kids.  He’s going to plug the toilet/pee on the furniture/leave the gas stove on/cook weird things that smell bad/need a bum wipe/help getting off the toilet/out of the shower and I have to see old naked man.  (I’m sorry, it freaks me out ok!).

It never once occurred to me I’d have to deal with him NOT wanting to be here.  

Being here in case he needs me when he’s grateful and happy to be here is one thing.  Being here in case he needs me when he’s resentful and bitter about being here?  Not even on my radar.

If it were my dad I’d lay out the options.  A government-run home, or here.  Two options.  Get happy about one.  (I love you dad, you stay with me!)

So, anyway.  I’m trying not to numb my bad feelings with sugar and good red wine.  I’m trying to lean into these feelings and just feel them.  Listen to sad songs and ask for extra hugs from whoever is giving them.  (Asking for hugs from the nice cashier-lady at HEB is cool right?)  That’s normal.  Eh.  I haven’t seen a moment of ‘normal’ since my 12th birthday.  Why start again now right?

“Normality is a paved road:  It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.”  Vincent van Gogh

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Pulling Weeds by Hand and Muttering to My Tomatoes

But first, so it turns out it isn’t going to be easy to apply for my masters degree.  (I know…I was surprised too)  And the deadline for this September has already passed.  But that’s ok because I have to complete a GRE exam as part of my application for NEXT September.

Whaaaaat?  And there’s MATH.  Noooooooooooo!!

Adding and subtracting fractions and remembering what the heck an integer is?  Why God, why?

Can you tell I’m terrified?  Not a little.  A lot.  Math.  It isn’t really the math I fear so much as the overwhelming sense of inferiority and helplessness it swamps me with.  Who likes to be reminded they’re not smarter than a fifth grader?

Anyway.  I see you, math-wall, and I am going to climb you.  I’m going to get high school math workbooks and GRE prep books and I’m scheduling my exam date so I have a deadline and…and if I fail I’m going to try again.  And Again.  Until I get this.  Grrrrrr.

Why?  Because my good friend Bobby went blind at 40, learned Braille, went back to University, earned a 4 year undergrad degree in Sociology and then completed a Masters.  Or mostly finished.  In any case he’s teaching at UNB so that is AMAZING. 

Holy crap if I can’t handle a measly GRE and a year and half masters degree WITH BOTH EYES, I’m not worth the math sheet I’m sweating over.

So that’s my update on my Masters Degree Adventure.

Quickly to recap my Ojichaan Settling Adventure:

(On my way out the door yesterday with both kids trying to get to the doctors office because Benji has been screaming non-stop all day) 

Ojichaan:“My clothes are missing.”
Me: “Your CLOTHES are missing?”
Ojichaan: “Clothes are missing.”

On my way to his room to check his closet for a shirt he may have dropped he says:  

“Door is shut.”

So I check the patio door and unlock it, open it for him.  He’s still making his way back to his room from the living room.  I wait.  Benji screams.  Ellie throws her shoe at the wall.  

I come back out of his room and meet him in the hallway.

“Door is shut.  Bathroom,”  he manages to say.  I look at the bathroom door.  It’s shut.  I try the knob.  It's locked.  How does this happen?

Feeling a lot like MacGyver I rush around with a butter knife and after a few minutes manage to get it open.  He smiles and says ‘Thank you, thank you!  Arigato, arigato.”

Feeling like a super hero for not only figuring out what he wanted but fixing the problem, I proceed to herd the two demented cats (I mean my kids) into the van and onto the road.

Baby steps people.

I’ll finish off with a revelation I had this morning while weeding the garden.  I love to garden.  Even the crummy bits like weeding.  

Out there in the early morning sun by myself, focused on the seedlings and clearing the weeds I felt whole.  There is a solace gained by the solitude in a garden.  It’s this perfect mixture of fun - playing in the dirt - and divinity - sharing my space with God and nature.  The sun on my back, the birds overhead, there’s something spiritual about working outside in a garden, helping things grow and bloom, nurturing and caring for the young seedlings.

Anyway.  If you come by the house and my kids are duct-taped to the couch in front of a movie and Ojichaan is napping because I slipped him some wine in his juice, you know where to find me.

That's right, I'll be outside in my garden, pulling weeds by hand and muttering to my tomatoes.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What I want To Be When I Grow Up. Hint: It isn't an Oompa Loompa

The two things I’ve always wanted to be, since I was a teeny tiny tot of a terror, was a writer; and a Star Ship counsellor.  I wanted to be telepathic too like Diana on Star Trek.

Whisking through the stars helping humans and aliens with their troubles.  Then writing a best seller about it.  Or about just the aliens.  Or a tawdry romance about my three dates with a Vulcan.  Vulcans.  So cute.  So smart.  So emotionally unavailable.  So my type of guy.  Ah, alien?  Anyhoo.  

Where was I?

What I always wanted to be when I grow up.  

Well here I am, ready to re-enter the work force after six year absence and I want it to be special.  I don’t want to just ‘have a job’.  I want to have a meaningful, fulfilling career I can be proud of.  

I want to help people.  

Even though most of the time they don’t want my help.  I can’t say that I blame them.  Who wants advice from an Oompa Loompa who dresses like an eight year old boy?  Who would rather crack a joke than a textbook?

I think it’s hard to take me seriously sometimes.  I’m a bit of a nut.  Clearly too happy to be smart, too.  You know, the Smartest People are also Super Serious and Sometimes Mean.  Grumpy for sure.  

Really Smart People don’t go around asking what they want to be when they grow up.  Not at almost 40, anyway.  Or do they? Hm.  

Anyway, I don’t want to make a mistake this late in my ‘money-earning years’ we’ll call them.

So I went to a life-coach workshop-thingie for an hour and half last Sunday to try and get some professional guidance.

And you know what she said about mistakes?  She said I WOULD make mistakes.  And then I’d learn from it.  Who doesn’t make mistakes?  People who aren’t getting off the comfy couch and trying new things, that’s what.

She also asked me why I didn’t want to use my psychology degree?


Bottom line?  It’s going to be hard, guys.

Hard to get the masters degree I know I’ll need to get a good job.  Hard to find the money to pay for it.  Hard to go back to school after twenty years.  Hard to have a young family and a new career.  Hard to work with special-need kids and not have my heart all wrung out and pulled apart at the end of every day.

If I really examine myself, it’s kind of what I’m built for.  My heart’s all lovey, my spirit’s all nurture, my mind’s all CHALLENGE ME!  

So.  Did I figure out what I’m ‘meant’ to do?  I don’t know.  Maybe I figured out what I’m supposed to try to do.  Maybe I’ll fail.  Maybe I won’t find the money, or the time, or the grit to see it through.  But then maybe it will lead me to something else, something I don’t even know is out there yet because I haven’t started the journey.

Maybe you all can start the journey with me?  It won’t be so scary then.

Really?  You will!?  Thank you so much!

Ok guys I’ll keep you in the loop.  In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without err and shortcoming; but who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”  Theadore Roosevelt.