Monday, March 20, 2017


Ya know how "they" say that you can create your porn name with the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on?  Well my porn name would be Bubbles Myrtle.  That sorta elicits images of Naomi and Thelma Harper combined.  Not sure that works for me. 

In other news, I feel like I just learned so many important life lessons while sitting and watching the world’s most resilient bubble floating through my kitchen and into my living room.  Through door handles, into and back out of cabinets, up to the ceiling, around lights, it continued to float and reflect the light around it.  I just learned that no matter what gets in your way, you can go around it.  Even when you float into the shadows and nobody can see you, you’re still there.  Even when you think that you’re hidden from view and nobody is looking for you, someone still is.  When you have just the right light shining on you, you look more powerful than a fairy.  Even when half of your bubble has faded, it’s still possible to enjoy an enduring life.  The simple power to be able to float around life has got to be one of the most amazing gifts ever.  The rainbow colors of a bubble are probably the most beautiful colors one can wear.  When you get close enough to someone that you realize can hurt you, it’s okay to turn right around and head back to safety. 

I watched this bubble for at least 13 minutes, and that’s just from the time I thought to look at the clock.  It was still a while before then that I’d been watching.  When that little bubble actually went inside the door handle of my cabinets instead of floating around it, then it went into the cabinet and floated about for a moment before coming out, I realized it was an interesting bubble that deserved my attention.  I’m glad I gave it. 

As we headed into the living room, I thought about how long it had been since I just stopped and observed without any other motives.  I might meditate every day, I might be acutely aware of my surroundings to the point where I can tell you exactly what birds I heard during my run and where, but how often do I truly just stop and be?  Not often, for sure.  I got to do that for 13 minutes today.  It was lovely.  It reminded me of those times in Afghanistan when I would go out onto the back porch and blow bubbles after particularly annoying or frustrating days.  It’s tough to be angry or frustrated while watching bubbles.  They just float so beautifully.  So carelessly.  So gracefully.  And they look so perfectly round.  The way they reflect the world around them, but in rainbow colors, just captivates me.   

I’m going to buy bubbles and start making that a part of my self-care after work, after rough counseling shifts, or whenever my mood gets a little grumpy.  How can life be complicated, upsetting, or troublesome when there are bubbles to watch? 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Walk a Mile in their Shoes: Immigrants & Refugees Episode

You are a 5th grade student.  You were born in the United States.  Your parents were not.  New laws are enacted that will cause your parents to be deported.  But not you.  How does that make you feel?

You fall in love with a person from another country.  He or she comes here legally.  You enjoy the life you had planned.  But suddenly a huge push for "English Only" occupants is brewing.  How does that make you feel?  What if he or she gets deported?  Even without the threat of deportation, just knowing that the majority is against your love, making him or her feel awful.  Alone.  Unwelcome.  Who wants that?

You live in a country where your lives are in daily threat.  You take your children and come to the US.  You do so legally.  But you have three children and you cannot get a job that pays enough to keep them fed and housed.  In fact, you cannot get enough jobs that cover basic expenses.  Yet even though you came here legally, and even though you have legal jobs, you cannot apply for government subsidization for at least 5 years... if not more.  How do you plan to get through these years?

Immigrants.  They come from everywhere.  They look like us or they look different.  They talk different.  They may have different mores and customs.  Yet there's a funny thing about them-- they are still people.  And they came here in hopes of improving their situation.  The land of the free, the home of the brave.  The place for your poor, hungry, and, well, you know:
"From her beacon-hand glows the world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame" (Lazarus, n.d.).  And of course, the great one: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" (Lazarus, n.d.).  Does that not sound inviting?  I mean really inviting?  Like, to all?  So what went wrong?

I am trying to learn to do handstands.  I'm still in the phase where I need the wall, so I use my hallway since there is a free & clear space.  While I'm chilling upside down, I look at my bookshelves and admire all of those yummy books I want to read.  There was one that kept calling me; "What is the What."  I first heard about it years ago with my old book club.  We never read it together but it was definitely discussed and I went ahead and purchased it.  I finally (FINALLY!!!) got around to reading it (oh, only around 7 or 8 years later...) and though it took me a while to get through, I was blown away at how much emotion that stirred in me.  Refugees.  It's like people think they want to run from their land and to leave everything behind.  It's like we expect them to just be able to "fix" their situations and deal with it on their own.  This is sheer terror that causes so many of them to flee.  Not terror as in riding a freaky roller coaster, terror as in seeing their families and friends burned, tortured, beaten, shot, beheaded, etc. right next to them.  I'd run too!  Refugee.  What does that even mean, exactly?  According to Oxford Dictionaries, it's "a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster" (Refugee, n.d.).  Forced to leave.  Do they have a few months to get their affairs in order before taking off, or time to say goodbye to loved ones, a forwarding address to give them in hopes of reconnecting in a few months?  No, not usually.  They run in the middle of the night.  The kids, if they are lucky, can take a comforting stuffed animal or blanket.  Others aren't even "lucky" enough to be able to take a change of clothes.  Or food.  Or pictures like those that so many of us hold dear.  Imagine just suddenly having to get up, right now, running out your door, and never coming back.  Imagine losing everything that you have ever worked to acquire without any hope of seeing it again.  I can't do it.  I honestly cannot imagine what it must be like. I've read books about it, seen the news clips, read articles on the 'net and in the paper, but I cannot wrap my head around getting up, running away from here for fear of my life, and never coming back. 

I got to go on a field trip the other day to the Japanese American Museum.  With all of the talk about the concentration camps that the Nazis were running, it seems like the "camps" here in the US are often overlooked.  The Japanese, whether US citizens or not, were rounded up and sent to these camps for their safety.  "Their" safety.  At least that's what they were told.  What were they being kept safe from?  The docent of my little group the other day was born in one of these camps.  She had first-hand knowledge of the living conditions, the weirdness of it all, and the sacrifices that were made during that time.  She explained what her family experienced, what she saw first-hand, and gave these stories a very personal feel.  Personal because she is a real person.  What are we learning from history?  Anything at all, or are we trying to do the same things over and over again in hopes that the results will be different?  I don't get it.  Read "What is the What" if you want to experience life in a whole new way.  After you're done, let's try to come up with the answers. 

Lazarus, E. (n.d.). The new colossus.  Retrieved from
Refugee [Def. 1]. (n.d.). Oxford Learner's Dictionaries, retrieved December 03, 2016 from

Friday, November 25, 2016

Items 1 and 2

My big plan was to have a list of almost 40 items that I'd work on this year.  I can't come up with that many.  I got close, and I guess if I specify all of the books I want to read, that'll send it over the top, but I'm putting "read a bunch of books" into one slot.  It's been almost 2 months since I set out to be doing these specific things and I'm happy to report that I've been making some progress. 
My first project was working on learning to knit.  It's not spectacular but I'm starting to get it.  My grandma left a LOT of yarn and knitting/crocheting tools at her old house when she moved and I was able to get quite a bit of it.  I'm going to have a blast using her things, whether it's just for learning or (eventually...) for actually making legit, useable projects.  I have a feeling that it's going to be a long road to a legit project, but I'm having fun in the process. 

Beginning stages above, current stages below. 

I'm playing around with it, not aiming for perfection.  I'd say that's not too terribly bad for someone who has never done this before! 

I can't exactly call this goal completed because there's much more to learn but I'm still going to count it as #1. 

Second on the list is a book.  Mom & Me & Mom, by Maya Angelou.  That woman has such a beautiful style of writing that really works for my brain.  Not that she's writing for my brain, but the way my brain works and her writing style are a perfect combo.  So this was recommended in a list of "books to read before turning 40" type of list.  I chose around 20 or so... maybe it was closer to 30, I'm not sure, but it just so happened that I was subbing in one of my favorite places the other day and the kiddos had been reading an excerpt from this so I decided it would be my first to get to from that list.  A talking point with the kids I suppose.  Hmm.  What to say about this book.  Insightful, interesting, quick, liked it for sure, not positive that it would need to be a MUST read for me.  I am glad that I did, but I don't feel like it's changed my life or that it has any impact on my upcoming last year of 30s.  But it was really good and really readable and a great exploration of those... hmm, complicated mother-daughter relationships.  Only I can safely say that Ms. Angelou's version of that relationship is hugely different from mine.  Or anybody I know, for that matter. 

Next up will be some more books, more crafting of sorts, and likely some of grammy's recipes.  I'm hoping to do at least 10 of her spectacular items but I can only think of around 7 that I really want to try to recreate.  Lemon bars, chocolate cake with this amazing white icing, sticky buns (shoosh, you...), chicken & dumplin's, potato chip cookies, wine jelly, and a couple more.  At least.  Oh, and I'm thinking that I really need to go ahead and make her version of lemonade, even though there are about three pounds of sugar per glass.  It was well worth it! 

I'll be back soon with the next round. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Like sands through the hourglass

Many things have changed in my life over these past few years since I've written here.  Very many things.  I've thought about restarting the blog a time or two, always had plenty of thoughts to write about, but never got much farther than writing a draft, getting distracted, and never posting anything.  Even with those drafts, I kept thinking that the blog title, Living the Other Side of the World, still fit.  If I wasn't in Afg, then I was trying to work on a relationship where we were on opposite sides of the world.  That relationship is no longer, but what about the side that I'm trying to live now?  It's so vastly different from what I thought it would be in my younger years that it still is the "other side of the world" in a way.  Truthfully, I can't even really define how it's different, I only know that it is.  This is now how I pictured my life when I was 10.  I'm not even sure if I comprehended this point when I was 10.  So many children I know have a clear direction of where they want their lives to end up.  Not to say that direction will always pan out, and even having direction might be a downfall for those kiddos who can't handle a change of plans well, but they have an idea.  I didn't.  I still don't.  Oh, I have ideas.  Visions.  Plans.  But how?  When?

Sounds like an invite to do some exploration.

My grandma died a few weeks ago.  It feels like only a couple of days.  It was really quick and sudden and unexpected.  Sure, she was almost 93.  Some consider that to be officially old.  All I know is that one day she and I were still discussing where we'd be celebrating our birthday dinner and the next day she was gone.  The moment I heard that she died, I decided that I didn't want to celebrate my birthday this year.  It wasn't right without her.  For the past month or so I've been thinking about the fact that this is my last year of my 30s.  I wanted to have a list of some things that I really wanted to get done before I hit 40.  I'll admit, there is not one single thing on this list that I can't do in my 40s, but the point is to be more aware of the passing (ridiculously quick passing, mind you) of time and the fact that our days are numbered.  I've always been painfully aware of how fleeting life is and I really want to ensure that I'm able to get all out of it that I can while I can.  I decided that I wanted to have 39 or 40 items on this list and that I want to aim to dedicate them to my grandma's memory and her beautiful life. 
Oh my gosh she is so adorable.  And thank you, Munch, for capturing her so perfectly in this pic. 

Anyway, as I was starting to draw up this list, I decided two more things.  I would blog about them and document every step of the process, and I would throw one dang cool party for myself and for my friends and family when I turn 40.  Life is going by too quickly, but that doesn't mean that we can't take advantage of every little moment.  I try to do that.  Now I want to have some bigger, more intentional moments. 

Some of these items on the list are very grandma-specific, such as learning to knit or crochet and tackling some of her recipes. Others are things that I've been putting off for years like taking surf lessons and white-water rafting.   There are a few that are age-specific.  I need to get a retirement account going that is not dependent on a place of employment.  Why have I not done that?  I guess I can be thankful that I have contributed something to my future, but how about getting it together all by myself, huh?  I also want to read some of those "These books will change your life" books.  A few of the items are just things that have been chilling on my life list for a while and I'm using this as a reason to get crackin' on that list.  As I mentioned before, these can still be done in my 40s, as one of my dear friends pointed out to me yesterday, but if I keep saying that I'll do them next year then I'll never do them! 

While drawing up my little list, I consulted a few websites with suggestions of things to do before turning 40.  I was thrilled to see that I have already done many of their recommendations.  I can safely say that I feel like I have had a rich and fulfilling life.  I've done skydiving, travelled abroad, learned about different cultures, spoken in front of audiences, gone to a religious service for something outside of my religion, and generally stepped outside of my comfort zone in many ways.  I am so grateful for all of my opportunities and experiences.  Now it's just a matter of being aware of these years as they pass and not letting any desires go unanswered. 

My list is at 19 right now.  Any suggestions for a few more important activities? 

Friday, April 11, 2014


How is it that we can love, adore, and embrace another person’s imperfections so easily yet despise our own?  Or not even let someone else adore our imperfections the way they want to?  I was watching my favorite news today and there was a young lady on with such a unique face.  I couldn’t get over how adorably cute she was, not in spite of a slightly funny face, but because of it.  Another one of the ladies who clearly couldn't dance well was trying and it melted me so much and gave me such a greater appreciation and admiration for her.  Yet I really have a hard time embracing the fact that I can’t dance to save my soul… and I sure as hell don’t want someone else to love that fact about me!  What is it that society has put in our heads that causes this? 
Imagine my surprise when I found out that one of my absolute favorite parts of my boyfriend’s face is something that he views as a flaw.  I was completely shocked.  Shocked as in my mind kept saying “NO!!!”  Shocked.  His mouth is just so beautiful to me, how can that be something that he does not see? 
People are just cute to me in all of their uniquenesses.  Uniquities?  Differences.  So why, then, do we strive to all be so similar?  I don’t get it.
People who don’t smile because they don’t like their teeth. 
People who won’t sing aloud because they can’t sing well.
People who won’t dance because they can’t dance well.
People who are afraid to speak up because they worry their ideas will be shot down. 
How can we appreciate these things so much in each other yet despise them in ourselves? 
What even defines a flaw?  When I was younger, I was so disappointed that I didn't have the "Workman dimple".  It’s such a trademark of our family.  My cousin who is my age has the most breath-taking dimple.  She is just a beauty all the way around.  But I hated the fact that I didn't have that dimple.  To make me feel better, my mom pointed out that dimples were once viewed as a flaw.  It didn't make me feel better.  I just couldn't wrap my mind around that.  It was a “flaw” that I wanted.  I have it now.  When I saw a picture of myself and realized that I looked like the rest of them, I almost cried I was so happy.  Go figure.
I’m a Ginger.  No doubt about that.  Pale, red hair, and freckles.  I have the profound triad of Gingerdom.  I've come to grips with it, but it took time.  But the thing about it is that I know each of these has been considered a flaw at different points in time and in different locations.  I was ridiculed regularly for all three aspects of my Gingerness.  I still am, though now it’s usually with more affection than an intent to hurt (conveniently coupled with thicker skin over the years, right?).  But there often was an intent to hurt!  What is that all about?  Are we just so hung up on making ourselves feel better about people that we need to put others down? 
Eh.  I don’t know.  Funny faces truly rock my world.  A scar.  A unibrow.  A random patch of grey hair on a noggin.  A scratchy voice.  Tone-deafness.  The inability to dance.  Kitties with 6 fingers on their paws.  These things make people (okay, and kitties) beautiful in my eyes.  They make us so… individual! 
Years ago, I was standing in line in a grocery store and I overheard a lady talking to a friend about how every single face of the celebs on the magazines looked the same.  The more I think about it analytically, the more I see that she was very right.  That’s why I cannot get enough of the actors that stand out.  It’s rare, but it’s beautiful. 
When I was in college, I spent a lot of time with Asian friends.  Of course that joke that they all looked the same came up more than a few times (oh they so don’t…) but I just about died laughing when they (often) said we all looked the same.  Honestly, it just was so funny to me, but in hindsight, they might have been completely right!   Is it that important to have the right hair color so as to fit in?  Is it that necessary to get braces so we have perfect teeth?  Are our parents doing this to prevent us from lifelong teasing or is it just to make themselves feel better?  Do children have to go through speech therapy to learn how to say the letter ‘R’ “properly” just so the child can be like everybody else?  Or is that to make mom & dad feel better?  How can we teach children to embrace what they are and what they have?  Why do we have to compare?  How can we learn not to be so self-conscious?  How do we keep children from being so self-conscious?  I think that is the large part of the beauty that is childhood.  A pure unawareness of what they are expected to be and the image to which they should conform.  They can grin proudly with crooked teeth.  They can run with such a lack of grace.  They can say a letter or a word funny.  They can dance as they see fit without caring how they look.  They can sing with all of the gusto their little bodies can manage and not care if they are “pitchy”.  They can air-guitar.  They can create a beautiful world that works for them and not give a flyin’ fig if anybody cares.  They so have it right.  I never thought to feel embarrassed about my lips until my friend told me they were too big.  Wow did that open my eyes!  I was in 3rd grade, I think.  What, 8 years old, and already freaking out because my lips are too big?  Yeah, that’s healthy.  In 8th grade, one of the adult escorts for a school outing said that he truly disliked red hair on females.  I was so crushed, but still kinda thankful that he opened my eyes to the fact that people have different tastes and preferences…  Is that what it all boils down to?  Just finding the right people who appreciate what you have?  That can’t be it.  Besides, how do you communicate that to a little 8 y/o girl who is crushed because someone made her realize that she doesn't sing well?  What right does anybody have to kill the hopes and dreams of a child?  Oh I must always remember to help the little ones truly be who they are.  We all should have the right to be who we are. 

And for those of you who are reading that have a funny walk or maybe can’t sing or don’t like you smile or hate a scar you have or wake up every morning thinking about what you think is an imperfection… I love you for it.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I've been thinking a lot about life and death these past few weeks for a number of reasons.  First and foremost is likely my aunt and all that she is going through.  It’s so not okay to have to watch this and not be able to do anything about it.  We can’t fix this problem and I know that all of us wish we could somehow.  The second reason I’ve been thinking about life & death is that for a few weeks, we were going through my grandparents’ old house and getting it ready to be sold.  My grandpa died a few years ago, while I was in Afg.  I hated not being able to be there to say goodbye, to be with him when he died, or to be at the funeral.  It was not ideal.  So about a year & a half ago, my grandma moved but she only took what she’d need or want to have at her new place.  Given the expanses of her old home and the confines of the new one, that wasn’t much.  Not comparatively speaking, at least.  So the family had the fun/duty of going through the remainders and getting what we’d want or taking the important stuff that shouldn’t be thrown away or given away.  I gravitated toward two things—cooking and kitchen stuff, and my grandma’s craft things.  I’ve been doing some sewing lately and have a lot of improvements to make and room to grow so it’s nice to have materials without having to spend money when I’m not sure how the items will turn out.  While going through her things, I kept wondering about what an invasion of privacy it might feel like to her.  Or to my grandpa, for that matter.  Then I started to wonder what people would think of me if they were going through my things if I died.  Boy.  That was… insightful!  I’ll tell you one thing for sure, they would see a person who loves crafts and has a lot of unfinished projects.  Similar to my grandma, I suppose.  They would also see someone who has a book obsession, for sure.  What would they think about my books?  My taste in movies?  What would they think if they went through my computer and saw my browsing history?  My goodness, the research I’ve done for my papers has had me reading extensively about eating disorders, child abuse, substance abuse…  would they think that was for my entertainment or realize that it’s for research?  What would they think if they saw my saved paperwork?  Probably that I’m a sentimental sap about a lot of things.  Would they laugh at my embarrassingly large collections of candles, panties, and perfumes?  Not that any of those have anything in common, but they’re some very extensive collections!  If someone had to go through my receipts would they think I was a drunk or someone who really enjoys a variety of wines?  Would they see my receipts from restaurants as laziness and not wanting to cook or would they realize that it was amazing time spent with lifelong friends that I wouldn't trade for anything?  What do we leave behind for others to know about us?  Do we leave a legacy that we are aware of or is it more often accidental?  Most of us don’t get a say as to when we leave this world.  We can’t sit here with our loved ones and explain the meaning to an unsent letter to a parent that was hanging out under our mattress.  We (wait, if either of my parents are reading this, I actually don’t have any unsent letters to either of you hanging out under my mattress… it was just an example.) don’t have a chance to point out that the little piece of beach glass we are saving is because it reminds us of our grandma or our trip to the beach with our honey who just happens to be seeing the Pacific ocean for the first time (that part is legit).  These little objects that mean so much to us mean nothing at all to people who don’t know the story.  I found a little bear in my grandma's crafts that was made out of those tiny little crafty pom-poms.  I don’t have a clue if this bear means anything to her at all, but I cannot bear (hahaha!) to get rid of it.  I’m sure I could ask her, but I’m not sure if she’d remember.  Oh memories.  How precious and fragile. 

What is our legacy?  What story can be created out of our belongings?  What do our physical representations of personal memories mean to anybody else?  What happens when we lose sight of those memories?  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Step away from the books

It is entirely possible that I just reached my dunf’r* state.  I started a new class today.  Really excited about what I’ll be learning, happy to have some projects other than papers to write, but a smidge overwhelmed at the amount of reading that will be required of me.  It’s a lot and it’s also going along with the other class I’m taking that also has a pretty sizeable read-load every week.  And my big projects are coming up soon.  The end of class stuff.  Papers, interviews, research, theorizing, all that good stuff.  Anyway, my dunf’r.  So I’m reading a sentence with a new word in it.  I’ve seen a few of those today.  Not too shabby for a fairly intelligent & well-educated gal, huh?  It’s been a good learning day.  So I’m trying to understand this word.  It’s fairly familiar, and I’m pretty sure that I can figure out the meaning of it, even though I wasn’t really concentrating on that part yet.  I was just trying to sound it out because I read that way in my head.  I don’t normally say the words as I’m reading unless I really need to concentrate on one part, but my brain still processes things by knowing what the word is as I’m reading.  This word just was not coming to me.  I was coming up with feel-o-SO-fizing, filo-so-FIZING, feel-o-sop-hizing?…  Oh crap.  Philosophizing.  I know that word.  It’s what happens when you’ve been reading too long and suddenly realize that you should put your book down, like, now. 

Time to give this tired brain a break.  I’ll be back soon with thoughts on my new class.  Culture.  Diversity.  Acceptance.  Difference & same & everything else that makes a lot of no sense.  Those aren’t the thoughts but that’s what they’ll be about.  This is going to be an interesting eight weeks! 

*Dunf’r is my version, a-hem, my tired and slightly countrified version of "done for".  It’s more like a dunfer but even that extra ‘e’ takes too much energy at this point.  Dunf’r.