Friday, March 14, 2003

The Friday Five:

1. Do you like talking on the phone? Why or why not?
It depends. Sometimes I can gab for hours. Sometimes, just the sound of the ringing phone annoys me. I used to love to light up a cigarette and call my friends to talk until we were exhausted and our voices were hoarse from the smoke and conversation. Now that I don't smoke anymore, I think those marathon calls have lost their appeal. I talk to my mom once a week, so our calls last a while too. Every once in a while, I'll call an old friend and pick up where we left off the last time we talked. But now that my daughter demands so much attention, my phone calls are usually brief and to the point.

2. Who is the last person you talked to on the phone?
My sister-in-law.

3. About how many telephones do you have at home?
We have two cordless phones, a regular corded phone and two cell phones.

4. Have you encountered anyone who has really bad phone manners? What happened?
Lots of times. The last time was a sales call to give money to the local fireman's fund. Since we're watching our money, as do most who don't have full-time jobs, I told her I could do it. She just hung up on me. That's great PR for the local fireman, I must say.

5. Would you rather pick up the phone and call someone or write them an e-mail or a letter? Why or why not?
Sometimes e-mail is better if you don't have a lot of time, or if you know it's going to be a difficult conversation. I know it's the wimpy way out, but it also allows you to collect your thoughts, and to prove what you said later!

Thursday, March 13, 2003

When I first met my husband, during a job interview of all things, a thought came into my head, hitting me like a brick wall: This guy's supposed to be my husband. The problem: I was already married. Granted, we were having problems, had been having problems since day one of our relationship. But to have that kind of thought about a total stranger had never happened to me.

Time passed, and my then husband's relationship deteriorated, and I finally left. Did knowing that my meant-to-be husband was out there help me to finally call it quits to a doomed marriage? I don't know. I just know I finally decided that I deserved to be happy, that I had to stop worrying about what people would think, and do what was right for me.

That didn't mean that I didn't cry at night, wondering whether I'd done the right thing. My parents have been married for 34 years, and I always assumed that when I got married, it would be forever. That was a hard reality to face. And when he got in trouble (as he so often did), I had to fight back the urge to go running back to save him. The whole experience definitely made me stronger. Now he has his own life with a wife and two kids, and I hope he's happy.

For me, my current husband, who had become a very good friend prior to the deterioration of my marriage, was there for me through the hard times of my divorce process, but he also encouraged me to take some time for myself to figure out what I wanted. But the thought was always there that he was meant for me.

We began our relationship very slowly. And while did have difficulties in our relationship, I think most couples do, I knew he was the right one for me, and I knew those difficulties could be overcome, something that just wasn't there in my first marriage. Now, more than five years later, we're in a great place with our daughter, our house and our cozy little life together. I guess my dad was right when I asked him as a teenager how he knew my mom was the right one for him. "You just know," he said.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I don't think I've ever had a real traditional date. Sure, my husband has surprised me with dinner and a play before. And I've gone to nice places for my birthday. But I've never had the stop-at-my-house, come-to-the-door-with-flowers-and-take-me-by-the-arm-before-opening-my-car-door-type-of-date.

I guess part of it is that I've usually been friends with guys that I've dated before I started dating them. By then, you're so used to saying, "You wanna go get a burger?" that there's no romance any more.

I think my first official "first date" was with an eighth grader on my block. We spent the day playing Frogger and Pitfall before he kissed me in his room. My thoughts: "Wow, his tongue is pretty slimy and going right down my throat. People like this?" My next date was with a very shy guy in high school who took me to see Conan the Barbarian (very romantic) but wouldn't even hold my hand. We dated for about 3 months and I think I kissed him once. He was very sweet, but we spent most of the time watching TV on his couch.

Since then, I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that traditional dates aren't going to happen to me. I love my life with my husband and daughter, but sometimes it would be nice to be whisked away for a surprise night on the town. No scenarios like, "What do you want to do for dinner?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?" "I don't know."

I was watching Dr. Phil yesterday and he said you teach people to treat you certain ways. So does this mean that I've made it to easy for guys? Should I demand to be taken out places? I've just never wanted to be seen as high maintenance. I guess that's why I settle for pizza and Chinese food on the weekends. But is that so bad?

On another note (I guess switching topics is allowed since these are "random thoughts"), I think I've come up with a great idea for a book. It will be loosely based on my grandmother's life with fictional parts to protect the innocent. I'm pretty excited about this because I think I'll have a lot to write about. Now if I can just get my butt in gear and focus on writing this, maybe I'll have something really good in a few months. Focus ... Focus.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

I admire my parents a lot. I didn't always admire them, especially during my rebellious teenage period. But they've taught me that it's easy to think your life is terrible and blame everything that happens to you on a bad childhood. But it's a true sign of character to become a good person and have a great life, despite having a bad childhood.

Both of my parents had it pretty rough. My dad's dad cheated on my grandmother several times, got another woman pregnant and divorced my grandmother to marry her so her child would have a father. What about the two little kids they already had together? I guess that didn't matter. My dad ended up living with his father as a teenager, but suffered enough verbal abuse that he joined the Marine's and went to Viet Nam at 18. My aunt and step-aunt suffered much worse, of which I won't go into detail here. My dad really didn't have a good role model of a father. My grandmother remained a single mother until her kids were grown (she did end up marrying a wonderful man who I really remember as my grandfather).

My mom's father was an abusive alcoholic who threatened to kill his teenage son in fit of drunken rage, who was physically abusive to my grandmother, and who drank away his paycheck each week. My grandmother ended up leaving in the middle of the night with three of her kids who remained in the home (the other three had already left home at an early age to make it on their own). My grandmother never remarried for the rest of her life, but worked hard to support her kids and then herself until she died at the age of 90.

Rather than become victims of their past, my parents worked hard to overcome it, and become great parents. My dad is the most loving person and was always there for us, offering praise and being our biggest supporters. Something his father wasn't. My mother taught us independence, not to rely on others, but at the same time to appreciate love and support from your best friend, your husband. And while she sometimes will tell us about stuff they didn't have growing up, to make us appreciate what we did have (which wasn't much, but more than she had), she also is pleased that we've succeeded in our lives.

I know this sometimes makes me intolerant of people who whine about what they didn't have (when most times, they had a lot) or who play the "victim," being to dependent on others, I also know that I have become a stronger person by appreciating what they overcame.

Monday, March 10, 2003

My parents were pretty strict when I was growing up. Aside from the standard, "No swearing, no drinking, no smoking" rules, we always had to be on our best behavior. No running around in a restaurant, while other people were eating. No straying off to pull clothes free of their hangers in a department store. We had to stay with them and be quiet. I think that's why I'm so terrible at sports. I was never able to run around as a child.

When I was in high school, I had a curfew of 11 p.m. I had to tell my parents where I was going and when I would be home. And while they never waited up for me, you could never be sure if my mom, who was a very light sleeper, would choose that exact moment to get up for a drink of water.

While I rebeled a lot as a teenager, and spent many weeks grounded for it, I wouldn't change a thing. Rules that I thought were crazy back then only helped me to become a living, functioning member of society. I still try to be polite in public and respect other people's space. And while the "no swearing, no drinking, no smoking" don't always apply in my life right now, I still think I came out OK.

And I know when my own daughter gets older, I'll do the same things to her. She'll learn to respect other people -- that not everyone likes children and not everyone will think she's as adorable as we do. She can't just run around screaming and bumping into people at will. She'll say "please" and "thank-you" and not throw tantrums to get her way. She'll understand the value of a dollar and that we might not always have the money to get everything she wants. And when she's older, we'll know who her friends are, where she's going and when she'll be home.

I think those commercials where the teenagers talk about how much they hated their parents for invading their privacy are great. All of the things they hated about their parents, they thank them for in the end. I was the same. I resented my parents for always interfering with my life, but I think back now and know they did a great job. And while I don't hold the same opinions as my parents about certain issues, I know that the basic values of respect and decency will be ingrained in my daughter as well.

Thanks, mom and dad.