Confession: I’ve never had a New Year’s Kiss

10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!

I’m one of those saps at the party who actually yells “Happy New Year!” as the clock strikes midnight, while everyone else’s lips are otherwise occupied in a New Year’s kiss with the one they love.  Or I’m not at a party at all, opting to clear the collision course for the braver drivers on New Year’s Eve by staying home and watching old movies, baking cookie, cleaning house, or crocheting.  Or blogging.  Ok, when I say it out loud like that it sounds a little sad.  But really, I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. Continue reading

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Filed under Confessions, Dating, Growing up, Men, Who am I?

“My brain and tongue just met.”

I need to use my words.  They’ve been bouncing around inside my head for weeks, and I’m a little scared of the force with which they’ll escape when I finally unleash them.  So I’m letting them out like helium from a balloon:  slowly and noisily through a carefully pinched opening, lest I deflate too quickly and fly across the room. Continue reading

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A thousand points of light

candle-flame
Who is your personal hero?
Write a personal essay about
your hero's accomplishments and
what makes that person a hero.

How many times did I write essays about my personal hero as I moved from big, clumsy letters scratched from an oversized pencil to smooth careful curves flowing from a ballpoint pen to awkwardly fumbling fingers on a computer keyboard?  When I was a child my heroes were important adults in my life; they were people who had accomplished great feats, faced great fears, and overcome great obstacles.  These were people whom I aspired to be like.  Some might have called them role models, but to me they were much more.  They were heroes.  They are heroes, still–those still with me, those far away, and those gone but not forgotten.

My heroes were not generic, faceless do-gooders, nor were they impersonal figures in a book or on a television screen.  They were real, tangible humans who made up my day-to-day experience.  They had faces, names, quirks, flaws, shortcomings, blood, tears, voices, laughter.  However familiar and close to me, they were at the same time years and years away because they were adults and I was a child.  Their actions and their hero status were out of my reach, if only by a few years (or a few inches).

Now I am an adult, and, as such, a member of that vast pool of potential heroes.  I’m casually aware of this when interacting with children and young adults, but became acutely aware of it yesterday listening to the President speak at the memorial for the soldiers tragically taken in the Fort Hood shooting last week.

“We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.”
–President Barack Obama
November 10, 2009

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This is where I used to live.

GEDC3817

I made it.  The move is done.  Well, the sorting, purging, packing my life into 15-odd boxes and 3 suitcases and plodding around an airport from 6 o’clock in the morning Pacific time til 7 o’clock in the evening East Coast time–that’s all done.  Now I’m set unpacking those 15-odd boxes, which were meticulous and orderly for the first several trips to the post office, but become increasingly haphazard–I daresay schizo–as the moving day drew nearer and the contents of my apartment I had left to deal with became increasingly daunting.

And I’m not unpacking them into a new, empty space–a clean slate, if you will; no, I’m unpacking them in my old room in my parents’ house where I grew up.  I carefully drew a box opener over the packaging tape sealing the first box and pulled out a beautiful mahogany frame encasing a photo of me and one of my best friends from college on the beach on Kauai at her wedding a couple years ago.  I surveyed the room and placed it on the entertainment center next to some antique glass bowls that once belonged to my great-grandmother, a trophy from a writing competition in 7th grade, and a picture of me and my high school boyfriend at my senior prom.  There it was–my heritage, my childhood, my first love, and my current best friend–a cluttered mess…or a beautiful mess?

This is my life.  I suppose the beauty is in how you arrange it:  in having a knack for keeping just enough of your past to be cozy without waxing too nostalgic; in having the good taste to keep that which is truly meaningful and to cast away the rest; and in having the sense of balance to blend the new with the old, the proud with the awkward, the joy with the heartache.  This is my challenge. Continue reading

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Filed under Change, Travel, Who am I?

“Girl, put your records on, tell me your favorite song”

Some things change so quickly it’s hard to keep track.

That’s a statement that can be taken in a million directions, many deep and profound.  But what I’m thinking of today is popular music.

Multi-National Corps Iraq

Multi-National Corps Iraq

My best friend has been in Iraq with the U.S. Army J.A.G. Corps since March.  Living in the Internet age as we do, keeping in touch is much easier than it used to be.  We can email and occasionally chat (though the time difference makes this difficult), which is great!  It brings me back to the days when we would IM one another from our desks…which were in the same room in our college dorm!

We were chatting recently and I offered to send her my copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife which I’d read this summer.  I mentioned that I hadn’t yet seen the movie, and she was unaware that it had been made into a movie.  That’s when I realized how hard it must be to keep up with all the trivial entertainment news that bombards us everyday.  Movies, book, music, trashy gossip–it’s all pretty small beans compared to the work she and other members of the armed forces are doing day-to-day.

But that doesn’t mean those things don’t still matter!  Entertainment news–the latest releases, etc.–is the kind of fun release soldiers need to stay sane during long, tedious deployments.  That’s why I’ve decided to send a great care package to help my buddy catch up on some of the essential entertainment she’s missed out on. Continue reading

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Confession: I hear dead people (Part 2)

Do you ever stop to think about what a memory really is?  Like exactly what it is that is sticking around our brains, how we store it, and how much detail we store?  I sometimes wonder if memories, at least the kind we reproduce anecdotally, are just that–anecdotes–stories that we tell and retell to ourselves in our own mind.  And as things that get told and retold are want to do, these stories morph as details blur or merge or disappear or get embellished (ever play the game Telephone?).  So our memories are less like snapshots and souvenirs in a scrapbook and more like folklore–dangling from a thin cord of facts amidst a cloud of details and possibilities.

I think we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another, or else have been asked, what our first real memory is.  When do children start making memories, anyway?  I can tell you things that happened when I was only a few months old, like the time I stole my cousin’s pacifier and clutched it–and my own– next to my face, giggling, while he bawled and screamed.  But I’m certain that these are merely anecdotes related to me by other adults in my life and not real memories.  I think I remember hitting that same cousin on the head with a hammer a couple of years later, but wonder if I only remember hearing this rather remarkable tale repeated by parents and other adult parties involved in ajudicating the situation in its aftermath.

I distinctly remember deciding when I was in first grade that my first real memory was of my cousin (yes, same one) biting me on the arm when I wouldn’t give him my Baby Glowworm (this might’ve been why I later hit him with that hammer!).  But now I wonder if my memory of that event–which had no adult witnesses to retell the tale to me–is really just a story that I told myself, that I replayed in my little tow-head as I lay in my crib, and then in my big girl bed, until by the time I reached first grade it had solidified as a bone fide memory.  I wonder.

But there are others types of memories I can’t explain in the same way.  I can’t explain the way walking by a display of Love’s Baby Soft perfume after it’s just been sprayed brings to mind images of my hot pink Caboodles makeup case full of all my contraband cosmetics I used to hide in my closet; I’m certain I’ve never replayed a story like that (until just now, putting it into words).  It’s more than just recognizing the smell and then associating it with a time and place in my past.  The smell creates the memory, and suddenly I’m recalling slumber parties and dresses I wore on school picture day or to school dances that I didn’t remember I remembered.

Then there’s the memory of a familiar voice. Continue reading

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Filed under Change, Confessions, Family, Loss

I love you like I love mashed potatoes

I love you like I love mashed potatoes.

 You’re both so tasty.
If either of you is in front of me, I’ll always partake
Because you’re both comfortable,
And I’ll only hesitate for a minute
When I remember how you both go
Straight to my hips.

Everything in moderation,
I’ll chant in my head.
Mashed potatoes have made these hips
As healthy as they are today,
And you’re not complainin’.

I love you like I love mashed potatoes.

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Filed under Men, Poetry