“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” – Roy T. Bennet

Posts tagged ‘family’

Quirks

There are so many things that our parents have taught us. Many of these things are subconscious. Here are a few quirks and mannerisms that my husband has learned from his parents:

Instead of orange juice, they have “ornch” juice. Despite my efforts, he has and always will say it that way.

His dad has never been one for rushing. even though his mother hustles and bustles about like a bee. One of them is generally ten minutes late while the other is sometimes close to twenty minutes early.  My husband has taken on the former habit, having rejected the need to be early to every event. To make up for that, he stays until the end of every get-together. That is actually how we came to start dating. He would come over to the college group that met at my parents’ house and stay until nearly midnight in order to talk to me.

There is no such thing as height. It is “heighth”. Although it is technically not in the dictionary, it is simply a colloquialism from Old English. It also makes sense to say “heighth'” when we have “width” and “length” and “depth”. I have noticed that even his grandparents say it this way. I do not.

A glass of water always accompanies your meal. It has helped me to drink more water, although I’ve had to remind his family multiple times that I don’t drink it with ice (as I am clumsy and tend to spill when big ice cubes get in the way).

He cannot stand being woken up in the mornings. I guess that back when he went to school his mother would have to wake him every morning. Now, it seems to give him a sort of traumatic reminder of his childhood (because getting woken up in the morning is incredibly traumatic).

As he so often reminds me, money should be spent on good shoes. A good pair of shoes is worth every dollar to him and his dad. If the fit is even slightly off, the shoes will be returned and anyone that thinks of buying them should think twice. Both of these men have extremely picky feet, so there are many shoes that do not pass their tests.

Now, let me set you straight. I’m not making fun of my husband’s (or in-laws’) ways. I like to observe and make note of my observations. Next up, things that I do and say that I get from my parents.

 

 

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Language

I can’t help but be drawn to languages. Communication and the fine use of words are beautiful things. It bothers me when people do not care about the language they are speaking. A lot of people only speak half a language; they speak a watered-down version of English, full of crass and mispronounced verbalizations. I understand that upbringing plays a large part in this, but then there is also the world of the Internet in which many people get lazy. From laziness comes a lack of care which becomes a bounty of grammatical errors. I am not perfect in this as I also grow lazy with my words.

My mom read to me and my five brothers when we were younger. She has always had a compelling storyteller voice, and even as we grew older, we would still listen in as she read to the younger kids. This brought a love of books to our family. We would collect series and try to read books before anyone else got to them. Our favourite series was the Redwall series, written by a man named Brian Jacques. We would take his fantastical stories to the backyard and pretend to be talking mice and otters and foxes. Even as an adult I am sure I would still play those games if it were societally acceptable.

I was lucky to have the childhood I did. I can speak and write and I hold a desire to learn inside of me. There are those, however, that never were given the chance. Kids drop out of school, dread homework, can’t even add sums or multiply simple numbers. It’s a hard world for learning, but I must reiterate: the language you speak is important. It is the difference between a high-paying career and minimum wage. It is the difference between forgiveness for a ticket and an instant fine. This is a prejudice but oftentimes a truth. We can use language to our advantage. After all, it is what convinces a nation to vote for a president, to believe what they read, and to take a single comment as complete truth. The moment someone types your instead of you’re, their opinion is instantly disregarded. It matters.

While I intend to complete my knowledge of the Spanish language, I am still learning the English language. There are words that I have never heard or have never dared to utter for fear of mispronunciation. English is complex and brimming with rules and exceptions to these rules. I occasionally bend these rules for the sake of rebellion and/or poeticism. All in all, maybe I simply wish for everyone to have the same draw toward their own language. Perhaps then our communication wouldn’t be so lacking.

 

Domino Effect

I didn’t live in the Dominican Republic for long. It wasn’t even three years in the end. But, despite all my efforts to not assimilate to the culture, I left with several quirks because of it.

Every afternoon, someone would either invite us to have coffee at their house or someone would simply put a percolator on the stove. You would think that hot coffee in high heat and humidity would be overkill, but I found that after the initial sweating, the outside humectation would seemingly lessen. Now, I enjoy a pot of (decaf) coffee when the day begins to lull and I’m already preparing for dinner. It may be summer, but I feel as though I am better acclimatized than my husband and can stand the heat of midday enough to run in it.

The beaches of Sosua were always interesting. That side of the island is the more tourist-y side, with bars and high-priced trinket markets lining the beach entryways. The worst thing about them was the appalling amount of lecherous creeps that preyed the shoreline. These were the Speedo-wearing, beer-bellied predators blocked from their own countries. The average age was about fifty, but that didn’t (doesn’t) stop them from picking up sixteen-year-old Haitian and Dominican girls to use and abuse with the promise of a future outside the island. Unfortunately, because I grew so used to seeing this sick trend, I now assume that large, white, fifty-year-old men are all predatory and dangerous. I know this isn’t a fact of all men that look that way, but perhaps I am racist and sexist in small ways because of it. I don’t trust anyone’s grandpa until I really know them.

Lastly, the poverty in the Dominican Republic made me appreciate the abundance of America. Appreciate, and also abhor. We live in such luxury here and complain about the things we do not have. We have so much. I do not go hungry. My family does not go hungry. We have a one-bedroom apartment and I could have another child and it would still be sufficient. We have jobs. We have savings. We have clean water. I cannot complain.

After all is said and done, I do wish to go back someday.

To Those That Worry About My Health

Every week, I am met at some point in time with the question/statement, “You’re eating enough, right?”

My answer? I can never eat enough. I am a breastfeeding, ultra-running, metabolism-of-a-teenager mom and I am ALWAYS HUNGRY. I wake up and eat right away and I go to sleep dreaming of what I will eat tomorrow. When I run, I think of food. When I relax, I think of food. When I eat, I think of food. I get seconds, thirds, sometimes fourths. Free samples are the first thing I beeline to when I walk into Costco or Trader Joe’s. Yes, I barely weigh 100 pounds at times but I am trying my best and, man, you don’t even know how hard it is for me to gain weight.

But that doesn’t mean I am going to give up running or even decrease my mileage. Just please, please, please stop questioning my health because I hear it all the time from everyone I know and your overwhelming concern is becoming overbearing. Did you know that I can eat half a bag of Costco trail mix in one setting? Can you? Stop talking to me about my weight because if I said anything about yours, the world would be in an uproar.

Please.

And thank you.

Two Days in the Life of Zeke

These last two days I have been taking Ezekiel to try out new things and documenting it. He won’t ever remember, but he enjoyed them all just the same.

Day 1:

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To start things off, we went to Barnes & Noble. We walked the two miles to get there in the somewhat cooler morning before the heat hit us. His favourite thing to carry around with him is his hairbrush, which may seem rather odd, but when a baby is teething they will chew on anything.

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The wall in Barnes & Noble has a little mural on it. He kept trying to pick off the little black painted spots, confused as to why they wouldn’t come off in his hand. I attempted to read a book to him but since he wouldn’t stop trying to eat it, I gave up and put it back before I was forced to purchase it.

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We walked the two miles back home and rang up his grandma to see if she desired a hike. Off to the Forest Park trails we went, right at the hottest time of day. I lathered Ezekiel in sunscreen since he is an extremely ivory child.

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He didn’t (and doesn’t) understand the idea of a selfie, hence the look of confusion on his face. Also, it turned out that during the two-hour trek up and down and up and down the mountains, he had been carrying a load the entire time. Perhaps that is what this look is about, him having an uncomfortable warmth in his pants while he was already uncomfortably warm in the sun. The last mile was somewhat of a jog, and then I eventually had to bare all to potential hikers when he decided he was too hungry to wait until the end. Have you ever tried a brisk, midday hike with a baby latched to your chest? I have now.

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He seemed a little tired and frazzled when we went to a goodbye party for a friend. This is his grandpa (and my dad). Ezekiel found a piece of onion on the ground and did not enjoy it as much as he thought he might. To end the first day of documentation, I had to work at an obscurely late hour and came home to my baby fast asleep in his crib. His dad did well.

Day 2:

Since we had journeyed nearly eight miles the day before, we decided (I decided) to continue on our streak of keeping away from the apartment as long as possible.

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We went to KidTime, a hands-on children’s museum half a mile from where we live. Although Ezekiel is little, he enjoyed climbing up every stair and incline he could find. Someday, he will be an ultrarunner. I know it.

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(Cue the blurry photo of an active child.)

He kept trying to carry on a conversation with the other baby in the mirror. Right now he also likes to grab hands, and was slightly frustrated when he couldn’t hold hands with the baby. We spent an hour at the children’s museum and then joined a group run for a six-mile jaunt on the greenway.

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After the run, I still didn’t feel like heading home, so we took a detour to the library. Ezekiel was stealing toys from the other kids and attempting to eat books, so we didn’t meander there too long. I began to feel a little peckish, so I grabbed a sandwich while Ezekiel nursed. He wore himself out with all his thieving.

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(A baby with his bounty.)

Finally, as the heat steadily rose, we made our way back home. He is, at the moment, appreciating the luxury of a good, long nap after a nice, cool bath. On a side note, tomorrow I am running approximately twenty miles out of pure enjoyment. I hope I don’t get lost.

That Broken Harmony

People.
Have you ever noticed how different we all are? Even people that are similar have differences. We dress different, give our bodies our own flair. Celebrities try to be each other, we try to be them, and yet we cannot. Do you know why? Because we can never be the same as someone else. We are not clones cut from the same mold or the same exact ingredients. Even children are different from those who made them. There are changes in personality, changes in the way they walk, differences in what they prefer to eat. Twins, the people who are the closest to each other, are different. None of us is like another.

Still we try.
We shape our bodies and our faces to be like people we know. Mass groups are changing themselves, compromising their images to be false. Why do we do it? What have we to gain? We have so much to gain from being unique. From each person we can learn. We all have thoughts and words ready to break forth out of our lips. Our ways are our signatures, the signatures that we leave behind when we walk out of a building. They leave people wondering, wanting to know more about us. Our differences hold the interest of those we meet. They are what make friends and enemies and rumors and job offers. Without these, life is lifeless, colorless.

Can you see the sparks?
Leaping off our faces and out our eyes, surrounding our sighs with light and laughter.  Those are our desires and feelings. Those are me, drinking  my coffee without any sugar. Those are you, drinking your coffee with several spoonfuls. Those are the world, preferring one movie over another, one fabric over another, one topping over another.  Those are also the pain that each of us feels. The reason a father hurts his family and the reason a friend betrays a brother.

Without.
Without.  We are purposeless, gray matter amidst rainbows. Nothing we do can change that we are not alike. Hello, you. It’s me, a person. I am not you. You are not me. Now let us be friends in that broken harmony. 

I Can’t

My little brother Silas is spoiled. We realized a little late that it’s not always good to give a crying kid what he wants.

So now, if he doesn’t get his way, he’ll scream and throw himself on the floor, or he’ll deny himself things, thinking that, if he can’t have his own way, then everyone will sympathize and give in.

Of course, he has his moments. Sometimes, he’ll come up to me, grab my arm, and start kissing it like a crazy person.

But, he still has issues. When it comes to brushing his own teeth, he starts screaming and yelling, “I can’t, I can’t!”

He can, obviously. He’s seven years old. He can brush his teeth.

(This is going to turn into some random life metaphor, I know it.)

Another thing, when we mentioned making him go without snacks for a week, once again, he started screaming, “I can’t, I can’t!”

These words cross my mind many times, are you kidding me?

I really don’t know where I’m going with all this, but, needless to say,

My first child better be a girl.

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