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Today I dropped off my 2007 Toyota Yaris for a free recall repair. They told me my breaks were worn down to 1 millimeter or some such measurement, while 10 would be safe. I forked over the 8 hundred to fix the breaks. Some girls get Gucci bags. I get breaks. My high school friend and I laughed about this--our middle class values. "Breaks will make you safe; a purse won't," she supported. I spent three hours scrubbing the grout in my bathroom tile floor with a recipe I found on the internet. My so sexy summer teacher vacation.
"There's a high price for low livin'," my friend Arthur Reginald Gray IV's father gently chided with his southern drawl while strolling in Tokyo. We were on our way to see a giant Buddha statue. I had not drunk the middle path the night before. I was 28 then and balance was soon restored. I am 42 now, in New Jersey, and I am paying the price of cheap wine from last night. I bought it along with mozzarella and basil at Trader Joe's to accompany my fresh, backyard grown tomatoes. It only cost me $7.50 and one day.
I like TV's "Say Yes to the Dress"--not for the manufactured drama, but for the pretty dresses, and the vicarious wedding dress shopping. I am forty-two years old and single. I own a home and am getting a new roof on Tuesday. I waffled about the shingle color--oyster gray or weathered wood, gathering input from three friends, two relatives, and one roofer. I told one friend the roof process has been like wedding dress shopping because it is so expensive. She laughed, "The ROOF is YOUR wedding dress." I burst into tears. Say yes to the roof.
This evening I taught my Chinese housemate Flo how to do the chicken dance, the electric slide, and the Macarena. "Now you are prepared for cruises and weddings." Last weekend my Japanese friends taught me their equivalents-- two Obon festival dances-- the Tokyo Ondo and Tankobushi. I am going to take tap dance classes on the weekends soon and ballroom in the fall. After dinner I push the furniture to the corners of the room and put on music and dance freestyle. I am not waiting for a dance partner to feel the music run through me. I am alive.
Dr. Who. The tenth and eleventh doctors. Cobalt blue next to aquamarine blue. Zeppolis with powdered sugar. Kittens. Silver dishes, silver jewelry, silverware. Laughing. Laughing with intelligent people who love to laugh. Talking about ideas with other people who are equally excited about those ideas. Lightening, thunder, and heavy rain that you can hear on a bilco door. Taiko drumming. Hugs.good, strong hugs that last long enough to feel home, safe, and loved. Lasagna. Journaling. The green of pine trees set against a clear, cool, blue, autumn sky. Snowboarding. Tap dancing. Hiking. Bicycle riding. Salad with chicken. Favorite things.
My email address is agapejourney. I made it back in 93 when I was fresh out of college and had just gone on a religious retreat and was all on fire in love with God. It tickles my funny bone when people pronounce it to rhyme with "grape," as if I'm walking through life stupidly stumbling all wide-eyed staring up at the sky in awe of everything and everyone. I intended the Christian brotherly love for all mankind. If we did walk through life giving and receiving that degree of love, then we might indeed be wide-eyed gapers.
Highlights from today: watched hummingbirds zooming around a feeder; saw a black bear slowly lumbering through the backyard; ate a slice of freshly baked mixed berry pie with a tall glass of cold milk; ate lunch with my dad and a priest who is a family friend and a nice conversationalist; received a compliment from my dad on the quality of my backyard home grown tomato that I brought him; shopped for the DVD Toy Story to give my friend's son who calls me "Tia Joanie;" felt some sinus relief from saline spray bottle; enjoyed the low humidity blue skies.
It had been six years. He called from a phone booth in Montana where he'd been studying wolf migration patterns for his degree. He said, "Please don't hang up." He apologized for the way he had treated me all those years ago, standing in my father's kitchen, scoffing, " What do you think I'm gonna MARRY you?" He said, "for what it's worth, I've spent every day for the last six years thinking about you." I wondered--stalker or a Nicolas Sparks character? Vulnerability fed curiosity. Result? He didn't love me. He just didn't want to feel bad anymore. Still selfish.
I have a crush on Matt Smith. Yes, the British actor who played Dr. Who. It's funny about crushes-- that I can still have one at this age. Also funny because he could be a total tool and I wouldn't know it unless I met him. If I ever get famous for something fabulous, I will go on talk shows saying that one of my bucket list items is to kiss Matt Smith. When I was little I had a crush on Sean Cassidy, then Erik Estrada, and then Ricky Schroder. Matt Smith's tall, has beautiful eyes, and that smile!
I remember our trip to Bali--learning to surf for the first time, getting inexpensive massages. I had such a lovely time until I had to take you to the hospital because you almost died of dehydration because you insisted on running on the beach after a super long plane ride. I was terrified. Your life was in my hands. That's how it always was with you and me-- it was always exciting, but too exciting, never boring, but never secure either, like all the extreme joys could any second be stripped away by your uncertainty. So I left you.
"It's a vlog." "Oh, like a blog with video? I want to do that! It'd be totally fun. Can I make it about teaching?" "Um, most people who watch are teenagers. You have to be interesting to your audience and be attractive to watch." Sometimes my twenty-two year old housemate is blunt. Cracks me up. I might actually want to try the vlog thing. I don't know about sharing my personal self with strangers; don't wanna be famous solely for being famous, but I do know a thing or two about teaching that might educate or entertain beginner teachers.
Weddings have gotten WAY too extravagant in the Northeast. Couples spend what could be a down payment on a home for elegant receptions in venues. They hire bands or a DJ, spend money on favors, invitations, clothes, cake, a full meal, and full bar. Guests customarily give at least $150 each to help pay. Female guests need a dress, mani/pedi, hair blow out, hotel room, tips for bartenders/ parking guys, bridal shower gift, engagement party gift, bachelorette party, and travel to wedding. Plus, all weddings feel the same. Huge expense for a fifty-fifty turnaround. Good for business, though.
People who mock New Jersey don't know. It has mountains, forests, lakes, a warm ocean in summer, proximity to New York City, fascinating diversity of cultures/dining options, farms with the best tomatoes and corn, and people who say it like it is. I love this state. I drove to parkway exit nine to a friend's beach house. At a restaurant surrounded by docked boats, we ate fresh clams and fish tacos. A seagull pooped on my friend's baby- in NJ, a sign of good luck. Maybe we are just hearty people who are used to dealing with s&$T.
I saw a monarch butterfly, seagulls, knotty pine trees, gravel roads, beach tags, a red sunset, well-dressed tourists strolling happily holding ice cream cones along the mall in Cape May. I heard a baby cry and laugh, seagulls, tires crossing a bridge. I tasted fresh flounder fried in crunchy batter, home grown yellow low-acid tomato sliced on a turkey sandwich with grey poupon. I smelled marsh at low tide, a skunk from a car, a coconut scented body spray and body cream. I felt the most comfortable outdoor temperature and humidity ever. I rocked my new bathing suit.
Ate takeout fish dinner from styrofoam box at a picnic bench facing a red sunset on the beach of Cape May facing Delaware. Recounted the story of my dearly departed old friend and neighbor, Lou, AKA Luigi. He was a member of the greatest generation. Having served in WWII, he brought me several times to the VFW for ziti dinners with his buddies. He drove like Mr. Magoo. We would go to movie nights in the summer in the town park. He knew everybody. I nicknamed him "The Mayor." We planted a garden together. He was 85; I was 37.
My housemate is in the kitchen baking a rainbow cake. It is her second attempt. She is following a youtube recipe. The first attempt was a fail, but only because unbeknownst to us all, the oven was not calibrated and was a full seventy-five degrees cooler than it was reading. It was a sad, soggy mess. I was sure her friend was going to get sick from the cake. It was a birthday cake. She makes her own icing because she says American icing is too sweet. Cake attempt number two is a thank you cake for her professors.
My birthday is coming up soon. I get progressively less enthusiastic and sentimental about birthdays in general as I age. I'm certainly not one of those birthday haters, who doesn't like aging, and refuses to enjoy the day, as if that will slow the process or defy gravity. I just feel more humble each year, I guess, like I don't need the hoopla. I do like the fact that my dad marks the occasion with some gifts and a thoughtful card. I am cherished, important, and valuable to at least one person on the planet. My birthday forebodes summer's end.
I would like to have a dog. I like the looks of a min-pin, but sometimes I think small dogs look slightly ridiculous, like squirrels posing as dogs. I grew up with a brittany spaniel, so that breed somewhat defines dog for me. I like the disposition of the Bijon frise, but I don't like how the coat looks a bit discolored easily. My friend has a min pin mixed with Italian greyhound and it is adorable, but a nervous, trembler. I will probably get a brittany; later, because my current neighbor has a pitbull that attacks other dogs.
I got my retainer adjusted today. Yes, I STILL wear a night retainer. There is NO WAY I am going back to crooked teeth after suffering braces as a freshman in high school. The only problem is they didn't tell me that teeth can get messed up again if you don't wear a retainer for the rest of your adult life. What kind of racket are they running? Did you know it costs me thirty dollars every time I get the retainers adjusted monthly? Today she suggested I spend $3,500. on a new set of braces. What the fudge?!
I dismantled the rabbit proof fence today, took out the tomato stakes, and threw away the dried out dead tomato plants. It was a great year. Great yield. Next year I will do fewer plants. I had twelve this year and I didn't know who to give them to. I didn't know to whom I might give them. Imagine a world wherein we wrote like prescriptive grammarians. But I digress. With only three days of summer vacation left, I am addressing my to do list with vim and vigor. Please be aware that hiking, napping, and reading are to do's.
I spoke with my boss about how I was piloting this site before recommending it to my students who like to write. She thought the gist of it was to write an on-going piece in one-hundred word installments, so each entry is a piece of one larger work completed at the end of the month, like a thirty paragraph story. I like that challenge. It seems to be a level up from what I have been writing thus far- just random thoughts as they occur to me on any given day with little to no editing or revision.
I craved the small town USA provincial lifestyle because I felt like I was on a treadmill that was going way too fast for me, living the international highlife, living "during interesting times, " as the old Chinese curse goes. Just as I found myself settling into knowing where to get a good hair cut, a good car mechanic, a decent salad, I overheard the buzz in town. Everyone was talking about the hot news-- a new Wendy's fast food restaurant on Washington Avenue, our Main Street, USA. I felt like I was on the set of What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
I posted a picture on Facebook today. I have posted only twice in five years, so it was surprising when people "liked" the photo of four different dishes of food labeled, "my housemate cooked authentic Chinese food for my birthday." It was a good FB birthday...I heard from friends in three foreign countries and from childhood friends, college friends, work friends, a former student. This is your life. It made me think about how much we change offer the years, yet essentially remain the same. The same idea of accepting changing faces came up with Dr. Who last night.
The final seventeen minutes of my forty-third birthday. It was a mixed bag kind of day. I had breakfast in my hometown with a dear friend from high school. She gave me an orchid as a gift. It was yellow and flecked with pink. We went for a long walk in my childhood town. She tried to give me tips on how to lose weight but it just really pissed me off because I wanted to pretend the problem wasn't as big as it is. No pun intended. I wanted to pretend long enough to eat my birthday cake.
I wonder sometimes about publishing on the internet. Sharing's risky. Often the honest, raw emotion and experience is subjective and often not reflective. Years soften memories, reveal meaning, purpose, or resignation of indignation. Our perspectives on our own lives change. One time, a boyfriend of mine wrote a song about a painful experience I had in my life before I met him. I had shared the information with him in an intimate conversation. I didn't think he had the right to sing MY story. He argued that his right to express himself trumped my right to privacy. What a douche.
Today a mason came to the house to remove old fence posts and repair the cement walkways. Six hundred dollars later, it looks decent and it is safe, without jagged metal sticking up. Home ownership is quite a challenge. A nice investment to have a home, more work than a condo, but I can bang on my drums all I want in a house and it's fun to decorate a house. I will take a break from all house projects now until the end of the school year. Teaching takes priority. I am excited for a new school year again.
If I think you might be reading this, I suddenly find I have nothing to say; I feel stymied, stifled, afraid. If I think you might somehow randomly cyber stalk me and my 100 words are there and you have a window into my world, a world you are not privy to by my choice, have I unwittingly exposed my soul to your harshness, the very repugnance I disdain? I suppose every person who writes dares to do so, knowing it may be read, may be read with a different set of eyes, a different paradigm. Yet I write. Geronimo!
Estrangement. You have become a stranger to me. I knew you, or rather, who I understood you to be, for a lifetime. I don't know you now. I might know you again in the future, but it doubt it. It sucks because I really really liked you. I thought you were smart and kind and gentle, like a true gentleman in the traditional sense of the word. I looked up to you, even. I considered you a lifelong friend, and I felt myself equally esteemed in your eyes, so when the onslaught of life's terrors ensued you would affirm me.
"I don't wanna get dopey," my father confides his deep fear in a curmudgeonly voice. "I swear I'm getting dopey." He fumbles around for some scrap of paper where he has scrawled a list of to do's. Is he looking for paper, or for an assurance from me, that if indeed his faculties fade, I will assuredly have his back? This is the man who held me in the ocean waves as a child, who listened to me cry for far too long over some guy who broke my heart, who never left my mother's side till death. Always, Dad.
Just got news that an old friend of mine is visiting me from Japan in two months' time. Just the inspiration this fitness program needed. Lol yeah, he remembers a size six marathoner. Tee hee. Dusting off my runners in the morning'. I loved the time in Japan. I was 26-28 years old and no one asked annoying questions like, "Are you married?", or "Do you have children?" Can we all just agree right now that those questions suck and ought to be removed from polite conversation? I call it the Jennifer Aniston principle--gratitude for what you have.
Ah, I made it! The last day of my first month-long writing batch. My feet are wet in the pool and I'm ready to try other venues. I created a twitter, a website, an Instagram, and am learning to vlog. Watch out world! I would recommend this site to student writers for sure. For the discipline of daily writing, for the small window of leniency for make ups, for the chance to read other writings. Thank you, 100 words creators, maintainers, and writers. I have enjoyed visiting this site during the month of August in the year of 2014.
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