Friday, January 29, 2010

Living in Whoville

Whoville, the Dr. Seuss creation where all the little Whos are struggling to be heard, struggling to just let others know they exist. As a woman married to a successful man, I sometimes feel like I live in Whoville. This isn’t the fault of my husband, of course; it’s the fault of individuals in our society – and often they are women, too – who fail to look beyond Horton the elephant to see that there are also Whos. This happened again yesterday. I received an email from the UofO Duck Athletic Fund regarding our recent deposit for seats in the new Matthew Knight Arena. Our Duck Athletic Fund account is in both of our names (though that took years to happen since they initially set-up the account in only my husband’s name, even though everything sent in to them contained both our names), the seating application form had been filled out by me, I had signed the check and, guess what – I’m a UofO alumnus, too! Yet, this woman in the DAF office sends an email expressing gratitude for the deposit, but the email is addressed only to my husband. This wasn't a form email that just picked up the first name on the account; it was a personal email – addressed only to my husband, but in reference to our joint account.

I had a previous professional life and, I will admit, when I first quit my job to stay home, it took awhile to become comfortable with my new identity. I often wanted to introduce myself to people saying, “Hi, I’m Debbie. I used to have a professional position.” In the years since I’ve come to appreciate my contribution to both our family and society and I no longer struggle with the need to justify myself. However, when someone so inconsiderately overlooks my handwriting, my signature, indeed even my name, to focus on just my husband, I revert to feeling like just a little Who in Whoville.

P.S. I sent this woman back a stinging note about this subject – I don’t think she’ll overlook a Who again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Cat Under the House

A friend told me a story with a tag line that has quickly become a “saying” in our home. This friend let her cat out for the day recently, but the cat did not come home in the evening. She called for the cat; her husband called for the cat; the kids called for the cat. They finally gave up and everyone in the house went to bed except for my friend who sat up in her office. Late in the night my friend heard the cat meowing and went outside to investigate. She found the cat (a large, roly-poly cat) stuck in a vent opening while trying to get out from under the house’s crawlspace. Afraid of hurting the kitty, my friend went to get her husband who was sound asleep. “Honey, the cat is stuck in the vent opening of the crawl space. Will you come get it out?” Her husband sleepily asked if she seriously expected him to get out of bed to rescue a fat cat that got itself stuck under the house. She, of course, responded that she did expect him to do that – he bundled up and headed for the large crawl space opening on the opposite end of the house, flashlight in hand. The light and sounds underneath the house spooked the cat enough to encourage him to get himself unstuck and out of the vent opening without harm.

Some of the women listening to this story were amazed that the husband had actually gotten up to rescue the cat. I wasn’t amazed; I know my husband would do the same thing. He might look at me funny, but he’d get up and do it. Little chores like this are, in my opinion, one of the things that separate a good husband from a great husband. Again, this is my opinion, but I believe that when a man does a chore, even one he thinks is silly, because his family asks it of him, he is showing his adoration for his family.

Friday night coming back late from an “away” girls’ basketball game, two of the players found their cars had been “pranked” – one had the battery removed, one had been put up on blocks. There was one dad in the group at the parking lot (the dad of one of the girls with a “pranked” car) and, even though it was late and the rain was pouring down, he got out, jacked up the one car to remove the blocks and put the battery back into the other. As I watched him (I had my car turned so that my headlights were illuminating the work areas), I thought, “This is a cat under the house.”

I’ve often thought that a man is sexiest when he is doing something for his family. Show me a dad comforting a crying child, changing a diaper, coaching a sports team –that, to me, is a sexy man! Now, in addition to those family-oriented visions, we’ve also added the vision of the man who does what’s needed when there’s a cat under the house. A man who may roll his eyes at his wife’s request, but who gets up and does what’s needed regardless of what type of situation it is that can be called “a cat under the house”.

P.S. Lest you think that this is a one-way path, stay tuned for the next blog that will flip the “doing” in the other direction.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

OMG - It Happened!

In this process of aging there are markers and events that remind us that time is moving along: the first gray hair or wrinkle, children reaching milestones, parents with declining health – some are serious, some are just vain, but they all scream out, “You’re getting older!” I’ve come to grips with the fact that I am getting older (not old, just older) and I’ve welcomed many of the signs of aging: celebrating my 50th birthday almost two years ago, my oldest child getting married this past summer – gray hair? Hah! I conquered that concern years ago (with the help of my hair color guru, Joelle). But last night an event happened that really stopped me in my aging tracks! Last night I gathered with my group of neighborhood women friends for our monthly Pokeno game. Pokeno is similar to BINGO – everyone gets a Pokeno card which is filled much the same as a BINGO card except that instead of numbers, the Pokeno card has pictures of playing cards in each square and a deck of cards is used instead of the typical BINGO balls. During the second game last night, as the woman sitting next to me was “calling” the cards, I suddenly realized that my brain could not connect the card she was calling with the pictures of the cards on my Pokeno card. I panicked a bit as she called out and showed us three different cards and I found that I could not make sense of those cards in relation to my Pokeno card. Finally, I said out loud, “Well, that’s just weird!” and I went on to explain what was happening. The friend on my other side said, half-jokingly, “Maybe you are having a stroke or maybe you have a brain tumor.” Frankly, that’s sort of what I was worrying about myself, but as she spoke I realized that was not the case. The truth was, I COULD NOT SEE THE DETAILS ON MY POKENO CARD BECAUSE I NEEDED TO USE MY READING GLASSES! I’ve used reading glasses for computer work and for reading books, menus, etc. for several years; I have glasses lying around all over my house (in fact, twice I’ve had a little boy whisper to me, “Debbie, someone left their glasses on the back of the toilet” – yea, we know who those belong to…), but the Pokeno card is not small, there is no small print and, up until last night, I have not needed my glasses to see my card. Last night my brain said, “Enough!” It refused to make the effort to discern the shapes, numbers and letters on my Pokeno card from the blurred visual message that was being sent to it. Last night I had to retrieve my reading glasses from my purse and do the Granny-glasses head tilt where I looked at my card through the glasses, but then had to tilt my head down to look over the top of the glasses whenever I looked at someone across the table. This may seem vain, but this was an aging event that I have dreaded, that I have denied was coming and that I’m still not sure I can accept. Maybe my eyes were just tired, maybe the lighting wasn’t good…maybe I’m just getting old(er)!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Holding On To The Upward Spiral

I love the look of our home once we have all our Christmas decorations up – the house feels so rich and festive! I revel in the beauty and light throughout the holiday season; however, once the season is over, I’m so happy to have the house back to normal. This weekend we put away the last of the holiday decorations and our home feels new, clean and refreshed again. January is a time for making resolutions and starting over; it feels as if my home experiences the same renewal. When the house is clean and organized, I feel more organized and in control myself. I’ve been lighting candles and turning on lamps throughout the house during the darker hours of the day; I’ve been cooking dinners for my family; and I’ve felt peaceful even amidst our hectic schedules. Nothing external in my life has changed during the last few weeks – same work, same schedules, same stressors, but I have made an internal shift that has created a feeling of peace within me. I feel better internally, which creates a more organized living environment, which makes me feel even better, which makes me want to continue with the plan that is keeping the house nice and my mind organized – it’s a nice upward spiral – now the trick is just to figure out how to hold on!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm a DD; You're a DD; We're all DDs

I have just spent four of the last five days at Disneyland with my husband and the “older” half of our family. When we enter Disneyland the first day, we always stop to read the plaque above the entrance gates: "Here you leave the world of today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy." Then we hustle under the gate and come out in a new world. As we went through the gate this trip, I was messing around with my 20-year-old son and we sort of put our hands out to the side like we were flying through the gate. We were laughing and, as we reached the other side, my son said, “Next time you need to twirl as you go through.” My husband laughed at me and said, “You’re such a dork! You’re a Disney Dork!” I took that as a compliment.

Throughout the four days, my husband and the kids teased me about being a Disney Dork. They laughed at me when I told the cast member on the Dumbo ride about my youngest daughter’s concerns that I would not have anyone to ride with (and then proceeded to ride Dumbo with my arm to the side as if I were embracing a child beside me). They laughed as I conversed with little kids throughout the park (my son said that I’m not allowed to ever again go to Disneyland without my own small children because it’s not right that I keep “borrowing” other people’s children – I didn’t actually “borrow” them, that could be construed the wrong way, I was just engaging them). They laughed at me when I cried trying to say hello to Walt and Mickey (the statues); when I cried at the castle-lighting ceremony; when I cried coming out of Small World (decorated for Christmas with a Peace on Earth theme). Well, I guess my response to this teasing is that I’m proud to be a Disney Dork (I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt that says so) and, to my family, y’all should look in the mirror when you say, “You’re a Disney Dork!” There was my daughter-in-law in the Winnie-the-Pooh ride, bopping up and down in her seat in time to the Winnie-the-Pooh music, there were our grown-up “boys” playing with bubble-guns all day under the guise of making other people happy with their bubbles. And there was my husband who texted me at the end of the day yesterday saying that, instead of heading out of the park with the rest of the group, I should turn back down Main Street and join him at W&M (the Walt and Mickey statue) so that we could say a proper goodbye before leaving. Yes, I’m a Disney Dork, but I’m not alone. If our family ever starts our own rock band I have the perfect band name: Debbie & the Disney Dorks.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Beautiful Year?

I’m sitting in a hotel room watching the sun rise over L.A. (we’re here to watch the University of Oregon Ducks play in the Rose Bowl today) and I wonder if this beautiful sunrise can be an omen of a beautiful year.

Frankly, I’m feeling a little whiney about last year. I know it was a tough year for a lot of people, my family included. I feel whiney because I usually believe that we make our own happiness and I have trouble feeling happiness about the last year (even though there were many happy events and occasions) – the overriding feeling in my heart is one of burden and feeling beat down. So, I’m sitting here watching this beautiful sunrise and giving myself a pep talk about sloughing off the weight of last year and moving into this new year with an open heart – reinstilling my belief that we do make our own happiness. Things happened last year that were out of my control but, like a snake, I can shed that skin of doom and let a bright new outlook shine and New Year’s Day is a great time to start anew. 2010, I’m ready for you!

Post-script: I wrote this yesterday, but was unable to get it posted to the internet (don't even get me started on hotel internet connections and costs). Also, we now know that the Ducks did NOT perform well in the Rose Bowl, but I want to state that, even so, I love my Ducks! As I look forward to 2010, I'll also be looking forward to the 2010 Oregon Football Season!