Relateable Me

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Cedar Chests of Sentimentality April 8, 2010

Filed under: Life chapters — relateableme @ 4:36 am

I have always enjoyed my grandma, she really is a kick. She never backs down from anything and is a walking contradiction,  full of idiosyncrasies and fun. She is obsessed with her weight – this is truly bizarre since she will be 88 this year. She is always trying to get me to weigh myself – something I NEVER do. She likes to know how many pounds difference we are and then gloat that she is much taller. I have pictures of my grandma in a two-piece bathing suit a month after she gave birth to her second son; she is amazing. She will go days without eating very much and then tonight, she polished off a burger built for a truck driver and washed it down with a vanilla shake.

Today she commented on how crazy my hair is. I told her, “Grandma, I get lots of compliments on it.” She replied, without hesitation, “Mandy, they only compliment you because they don’t know what to say.” And then dropped it as though there was no point hearing any other option. I thought is was hilarious. I have been through enough in life to know when to laugh. So my 88-year-old grandma hates my spiky hair – it would be just plain weird if she didn’t!

I used to bring my friends down to my grandmother’s for visits – they all loved it, she lives in the Beverly Hills of San Diego, except this town has class. Today I brought my kids. We spent time this afternoon looking through my grandmother’s cedar chests, bulging with artifacts that no longer mean much of anything to her: original dresses from the 1920’s, my father’s Boy Scout uniforms and her wedding dress ( a grey velvet suit). I have never been able to fit into that damn dress.   Let me also add that she has a chest full of letter to and from her mother; from the day she married until her mother’s death, she wrote her mom every day – every day.  Mary, my daughter had a ball dressing up in everything from frilly frocks to fur hats. My son dressed in his grandpa’s uniforms. My grandmother even kept the top she wore on the night she met my grandfather: February 13, 1943, San Fransisco.

I’m not a sentimental person – at least not in the right ways. I used to be. I once had a shoebox full of things from my first boyfriend: the straw from the first 7/11 Icee he bought me, down to a picture of the wedding dress I was going to wear to our wedding. One day I threw it out, not because I wanted to, but because I married someone else.  I hold on to memories, but not for the right reasons; they plague me and remind me of what might have been and what could be if everything went according to my delusions.

I don’t keep things anymore. I think it’s because I want a fresh start: new memories. My grandma doesn’t want her things anymore. I asked her today what she wishes me to do with everything when she’s gone, “Oh Mandy. It doesn’t matter, whatever you want.” She has no hold on life now that my grandfather died. She hasn’t given up, she just doesn’t hold on. She has 62 years of memoires that mean more to her that cedar chests full of treasures.


The Whole Picture April 4, 2010

Filed under: Confessions — relateableme @ 3:05 pm

While men are renowned for having selective hearing, I think we have selective memory; at least my husband has always accused me of that and I think he’s right. I’m always able to recall what benefits my cause from an argument or fight, but I never can actually recall the whole story.

Recently my dad took all our videotapes from the kids’ first couple years and put them on a DVD for us.  I sat at the kitchen table yesterday and watched some. It was amazing to see all those lost moments. If they hadn’t been captured, I would have sworn they had never existed. I watched my husband and 2 years old daughter dancing, my girl running around the backyard naked in the sprinklers, my daughter saying only 10 words a minute instead of 1000.  They were marvelous moments, lost treasures to remind me how sweet life is.  I wonder how may other moment are lost forever;  moments lived without a camera nearby to capture the whole scene, the full pictures, the true memory.

I wish I could lay in bed at night and watch the good moments of my marriage or years of motherhood and recall with perfect accuracy. I want to be reminded of the truth, not to just relive over and over my version, edited, spliced and tampered with.  I need sweet reminders right now.


A Mommy Moment April 1, 2010

Filed under: Random nonsense — relateableme @ 11:54 pm

I had an amazing mom moment the other night. Let me preface this with the fact that I love my sleep – it is very precious to me and that was a huge factor in not having more kids. It might sound selfish, but seriously, I know my limitations. I used to lose it when my kids would wake me in the night. That was my time, the only thing I had left to claim as my own – all of me was occupied by something/someone else.

The other night my son woke me up about 12:30 AM with a bloody nose. I was in a fog, but took him to the bathroom to clean up. I asked him if he wanted me so sleep with him. We squeezed into his single bed, on the bottom bunk and proceeded to spend a very uncomfortable, but wonderful night. I loved being close to him and sharing those quiet moments.

When we woke up in the morning, he lifted his head and his sleepy eyes opened in sheer delight, like Christmas morning in a smile. He was delighted to see me. It melted my to see him, all happiness and little ears and have him nuzzle his head close to mine. To wake up and feel such acceptance and know someone took such sweet pleasure in my company was a treasure.


Falling for LA March 31, 2010

I was always told that LA was a smoggy cesspool 75 miles north of my hometown. Perhaps it was during the 80’s, but as I’ve had the chance to visit a number of times lately, I’m falling in love. After living in Europe for about 7 years, there is very little that compares to the cultural cornucopia it has to offer.  Since beginning to homeschool my daughter last year, we have gone to LA for a few field trips; we visited the LA Science Museum and neighboring UCS Rose Garden, the Burbank Library for a one woman Laura Ingalls play, a couple visits to the American Girl Store, The LA Farmer’s Market, Santa Monica Pier and The Getty Museum. At the Getty, my kids brought their art kits and sat outside by a sculpture for about 30 minutes drawing and playing – loved it! My daughter was also able to see the originals of artists that she has studied in her art history class.  Honestly, I feel like I’m alive again mingling with all the cultures and experiences. Even sitting in Friday afternoon traffic on the 10 freeway was relaxing with the windows down and the kids laughing in back.

I can’t wait to visit the market again. It reminds me of the open-air markets of Europe and I long to take my laptop and sit and write for hours. I plan to take my husband to the Getty and enjoy a day of art and beauty. For cultural experience I’m planning to visit some of the ethnic neighborhoods with my kids: Indian, Asian and Mexican. I even saw a sign for the Byzantine/Latino district????? I’m game.

When we visited the Getty, I accidentally went to the Getty Villa instead of the Art Center and had to take Sunset Blvd.  over the hill to the 405. I had no idea such quaint town existed in the hills – amazing. Is this really LA?

All I can say is that I’m falling in love


The Smell of Lemons February 19, 2010

Filed under: Vignettes,Writings — relateableme @ 6:12 am

She sat on the steps smelling the lemon. As she’d lean her nose against the rind, she’d slowly close her eyes and blush. She was all brown and pink and strength.

“Mom, smell it. It smells so good.”

“Roll it between your hand and the step and then smell it. It will smell even better.”

She rolled it against the cement and the oils began to spatter slightly and stain the step. I wondered how many people had sat on this step. Ten kids and sixty years was my answer. Countless. As I looked at my daughter she smelled the lemon again and her eyes widened and her smile creeped across her pinkness, “You’re right, mom” That didn’t happen often. “It smells even better.”

She continued to roll the lemon and I thought about all the women inside her; all the women who lived to make her exist. Everyone says she looks like me, which isn’t  true, it’s our coloring that gives that impression, but with the big brown eyes and her daddy’s nose, and the ability to crush me with a word, she is his, inside and out.

I had a hard time with her when she was born; she broke me in five minutes. Granted there wasn’t much to break, I’m a much quieter soul. She took all I had left. I tried to stand tall and she bent me and broke me with everything she is. When she was a year old, she’d call for me by my first name and yell it over and over until I came, tired and broken.

Now I love her strength; I hope she’ll be everything that I’m not. She already is. She has the quiet strength of my husband’s side; every woman in his family has the ability to handle, balance and survive heartache and do it with an unspoken beauty. Their hearts are like statues, poised to withstand anything. She also has the outspoken strength of my side; something that ricocheted off me and landed on my younger cousins. She is my mother, which has caused enough trials in itself. I gave birth to my mother, before I could appreciate everything about her. My daughter taught me to love my mom and more importantly, to understand her.  My girl was born to conquer, she conquered me but didn’t leave me vanquished, I arose stronger.

We sat on the steps and listened to the women talk. They’d laugh about times and memories.

“My mom died in that room, my dad too. I guess that’s where I’m gonna die,” said my mother-in-law’s sister, between laughter.

It would be nice not to take life so seriously. After over seventy years they know what matters and that everything else is a waste of strength, as if they had none to spare. They wield this strength in ways that they never seem to regret; they considered strength, what I was taught is weakness; To marry men they didn’t love and stay with the unfaithful drunkards. Knowing them now, I see the strength; it’s something so inherent in them that my daughter has it without knowing what it’s like to be like the rest of us.

I see the strength in their mother, who birthed eleven children and buried one, while ten of them buried her twenty yeas ago and still wait to be buried. She spent more time pregnant or breastfeeding or both than she did without a child contained within. The nurses were so cruel to her when she would deliver her babies. She was nothing to them but another dark-skinned woman with too many children who was unable to speak their language. She only left her house to cross the street to attend mass every morning in the tiny church where my husband was baptized.  She never went to the store; her husband brought home bags of beans, rice and flour. She lived for Sundays when her seven daughters would bring their kids over for the day. She always had popsicles ready after the grandkids kissed her soft cheek. My husband said that she would sit at the table with small pot of beans, and like the widow in the Book of Kings, it multiplied; everyone ate with enough left over for her to eat in the kitchen alone, after everyone left.

The quiet strength that flows through my girl’s veins, I don’t fight it anymore, but try to shape it, to make it beautiful and noble. I just read “Taming of the Shrew” to her and she loved it until the end, when Kate is tamed. She was puzzled and quiet, two adjectives I never apply to her. I knew she was thinking that Kate was amazing until she was quiet.

“Stop rolling the lemon, it’s going to split and be good for nothing,” I insisted absent-mindedly.

“But I love the way it smells.”

I wonder about the life she’ll lead and if the world is big enough to contain her.


Facebook vs. Imaginary Friends February 16, 2010

Filed under: Life chapters — relateableme @ 5:27 am
Tags: ,

About three months ago I stepped away from Facebook. I did so for a multitude of reasons. Anyway, I decided to take inventory and look back at what I was able to accomplish while not fiddling my time away commenting about every minuscule event of my life and that of others.

1. I learned to crochet

This is something I have never wanted to do. I have tried a number of times and find it extememly boring and frustrating. But a few weeks ago my daughter came home from one of her classes saying that she had learned to crochet and wanted help. So I got on YouTube and learned to crochet. I have made a number of scarves and have tried to make a hat/beanie a number of times without success. Today, in an attempt to make my husband a hat, I ended up with a long twisted chain. Obviously, crocheting is not a gift, but I am still determined to swallow my pride and overcome beanies that look like doilies.

2. I read a biography

When I was a kid I was a voracious reader, mostly because I was a fat dork, but I really loved to read. I loved Library Day in Elementary school when we could go and peruse the musty isles of the school library. I loved auto/biographies. I read about everyone. At some point though in my education, I convinced myself that I hated history. I actually enjoy history, but hate memorizing dates. While this is important to history (and a rather impressive gift that my husband has) rattling of the dates and exact events that lead to the Boston Tea Party are not essential to life – at least my life. Anyway, I randomly picked up a book on Archie Astor and Amelie Rives and delved into the Gilded Age. Interesting and aweful, but interesting enough for me to pick up another biography as I visit the library with my kids this week.

3. I created an imaginary friend

This is obviously the most questionable of my feats. Honestly, my mind is a rather confusing and lonely place and I need someone to bounce my ideas/fears/questions/feelings off of. Before you consider having me committed, most of our conversations are done in written form – more of a journal, but I see it more as a conversation than pen and paper. It’s actually very therapeutic.


I’ll never… February 8, 2010

Filed under: Projects — relateableme @ 5:14 am

Last week I started doing something that I’ve never wanted to do – crochet. A few people have sat down with me over the years to try and teach me and I have gotten so frustrated with it. Last week, my daughter learned to crochet in one of her classes and wanted to work on it, so I got on YouTube (I have to see things to get them) and watched a couple videos on crocheting basics. I had a scarf started the first day. I’ve made three scarves so far – it’s really easy and relaxing once I loosened up. I need to be doing something constantly – I really don’t know how to relax. So when my husband wants to watch TV in the evening (I’m not a big TV fan, but I like being with him) I can just pull out the yarn and “do something.” Yesterday, I finished a scarf in the car – I loved having something to do when all I can do it sit.

Anyway, it’s funny finding myself doing things I swore I’d never do – I guess it goes on a list with other “nevers” like being a pastor’s wife, living in California, having kids, homeschooling…

It’s all good.