Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Home is where the heart is...

A picture of my hometown is today's challenge, but this seemingly simple task is not so simple for me. Trying to define where my home truly is tears at my heart. Is my hometown Fredericksburg, Virginia? Where I was born (and ultimately where I accepted my first teaching job of the first 4 wonderful years of my career)?
I suppose my hometown is technically where my parents now live, where I grew up and spent the majority of my life: Charlottesville, Virginia... or more specifically, western Albemarle county. Basically living near cows and trailer parks but with awesome views like this one:But even though I love central Virginia (and not just because of the Virginia wineries although it's a persuasive argument), I don't know if I would consider it my home.

When I was 10 years old, I moved to Japan. Even though I only lived outside of Tokyo for three and a half years, Japan became a part of me. I constantly feel this pull to return, so much so that I chose my career path around it and even broke up with a man I almost married in order to go back.

Tokyo isn't my hometown as cool as it would be to say so.

What about the happiest times of my life? Some people say home is where the heart is, and Frankfurt, Germany is where I left my heart years ago. For the longest time I thought that if I died I would want my ashes to be scattered there.
After years of college and teaching secondary social studies, to the point where I thought I would never get out of school, I was finally able to move back to Japan. Hamakita became my home, a sleepy little town outside of Hamamatsu. Every Saturday, which was my only day off from teaching English (school... again!), I would take a train into the city of Hamamatsu to meet friends and enjoy the adventures that only being young and carefree can bring. And I miss Hamamatsu every day...

Now my home is in Herndon, Virginia. It's a nice suburb of Washington, D.C. and I like the area. But compared with other suburbs around northern Virginia, Herndon is boringly similar. Most people live in the suburbs in order to have the quiet, family-friendly lifestyle yet still be convenient to the big city. But if you live in DC you understand that driving into DC is in no way convenient.
Still Herndon is home for now. It's nice, has an awesome homemade bread shop, and a quaint farmers' market on Thursdays. The irony is that it's the town I would have called home had I not gone back to Japan, had I continued my relationship with a man I almost married. At 26 years old the thought of living here in Herndon was such a suffocating thought that I was willing to move around the world in order to escape it.

Sometimes I feel that restless yearning for an adventurous life again. As a stay at home mom, freedom and escape stalk my thoughts whenever the daily grind threatens to overwhelm me. What would my life had been like had I chosen to stay in Japan?

If I'm being completely honest with myself, in those quiet moments of reflection that come so infrequently now, I have to admit that it wasn't until I was in Hamamatsu that I realized that I may love where I live, but to live somewhere without love is its own form of bondage. I think human beings cling to this hope that life is all about picking through imperfect people and unwanted experiences to find that one thing that will fulfill us. But the longer I live the more I have come to realize that there will never be a perfect life, a perfect job, a perfect place, a perfect love. The only way to truly be free is to find acceptance of the circumstances and people in your life. Because with acceptance, there is peace.

So I chose to come home. Truly home. And I chose to live in a place I sometimes enjoy and often times tolerate in order to marry someone I loved. I've come to understand that life isn't perfect, and love even less so, but it is all about acceptance. That knowledge is what keeps me free.

Still... I'm holding out on persuading John to move to the beach after retirement. :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 34- A picture of my favorite morning

What I really needed here was a picture of me fast asleep and the clock reading something past 8am... Unfortunately, John wakes up after I do, and my preschooler still hasn't mastered the use of my digital camera. Amateur.
But this would be even better because it's at a hotel (which means someone is home watching the kids) AND I get my breakfast served to me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I lead such an exciting life...

Day 33- A picture of somewhere I went today. I also went to Quebec and spent some time with Caillou, but I'm too traumatized to talk about it...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I'm an aunt!

Baby boy (maybe to be named Ian) Davisworth was born in Charlottesville, Virginia at 9:56am this morning, at the exact same time that John and I were arguing about driving to church late. :-)
Baby boy weighed in at 5 pounds, 8 ounces which isn't bad for being 5 weeks early...

Baby boy may be in the NICU for a week or so, but then he'll be home. My sister looks so happy...
Natural childbirth for 36 hours. I'm so proud of her, and I can't wait to meet my new nephew. I'm hoping to be down in Charlottesville later this week.

Congrats Christina!! You're a mama. :-)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 31- A picture of food I made

Unless someone (and by "someone" I mean Laurie) happens to be here watching the kids, this is the extent of my culinary abilities with 2 screaming toddlers hanging onto my legs:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Someone I miss...

Day 30- A picture of someone I miss. I miss my grandfathers, but have no digital pictures of them. I miss my friend and former college room-mate Jessica, who would be celebrating her 34th birthday this year. She was hit by a car while riding her bike in Fredericksburg.

I was thinking about all the friends I miss and rarely ever see. The one who stands out, mostly because I will more than likely never see him again, is Ky.
The last time I hung out with Ky was almost three years ago when he came to visit Mariko and I here in DC. He's a 6'3" Chinese guy who can put down 2 Big Macs in a sitting and never get fat. It's irritating. Ky is now engaged and getting married next year. He currently lives in the UK, which makes a visit expensive (and ridiculously difficult with 2 young kids), but when he moves to China in the coming year to be with his fiancee, visiting will be almost impossible.

I met Ky at the HICE in Hamamatsu while taking a Japanese class on Saturday mornings. He would sit stoic and drink his Royal Milk Tea. I could see he was Chinese, and I thought he didn't speak a lick of English. Turns out he moved to the UK when he was 7 years old and was fluent in British english. Once Mariko and I became friends, we felt it was imperative to pull Ky (and any other English-speaker we could wrangle) into our craziness. His dry wit always made us laugh. And we taught him valuable American cultural nuances such as "going postal" and "going commando," which really made him give pause and consider the weirdos he was choosing to spend his time with. We also said "dude" a lot, which he in turn started saying all the time. And there is nothing funnier than a Chinese guy saying "dude" with a British accent. :-)
Anyway, as you can see from the pictures, he's great with kids and such a nice guy on top of having the world's best sense of humor. Miss you, Ky!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A picture that can always make me smile...

Rachel could make the best faces as a baby. And her hair stuck straight up... I wanted to weep when it finally fell flat.

Everytime I see this picture I can't help but smile...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The spirit of love always overcomes fear

After posting about the upcoming excitement of meeting my future niece or nephew, here on day 28 I am supposed to find a picture of something I'm afraid of. I found a great picture of a wolf spider, but Laurie refused to read my blog ever again if there were any pictures or mention of spiders. It would only be a slight exaggeration to say she screamed and hid under my Snuggie while shaking in terror.

So because I have ample respect for the woman who helps me with the kids on a consistent basis, even on her days off, I thought I would write about something that is keeping me up at night since Friday. I haven't talked about my time in Japan much on this blog, mostly because I feel a lot of guilt at not keeping in close contact with my church in Hamakita. I was sent there for what I believe was a God-given purpose, and I feel as if I failed both as a missionary and as a Christian.
When I heard about the worst earthquake to hit Japan ever, I was devastated. My biggest fear is losing my friends without having any knowledge or any way to help. Since Hamamatsu is on the coast, I assumed the worst, especially in regards to the tsunami. Thankfully, it seems the Shizuoka Prefecture has been spared, although they did have a 6. earthquake today. I think everyone is most concerned about the nuclear reactor leaking radiation and possibly losing containment. The Japanese government is urging people to stay inside their homes, but many Japanese are weary of the corrupt government and some are not heeding the warnings.
Verizon is offering free calls to Japan until April 10th, but land lines are down and cell phones lines are busy, at least every time I've tried to call my friend Ayano-chan. If you are a praying person, please pray for Japan. Also, if you can spare even a few dollars, go to the Red Cross web site and donate. It does make a difference.

Please note: I do not own any of these pictures. They are owned and protected by law here from The Atlantic, which is also linked from the third paragraph above.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 27- Me, my sister, and ?

This is my only sister. She's younger, but that doesn't completely explain the fact that she got all the gorgeous, youthful genes in the family. We don't know the name of the baby girl or boy who's crowding the shot, but we hope to meet him/her in April.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What means a lot to me....

There are a ton of things that mean a lot, but here on day 26 of the challenge with two toddlers and no free time, there is one thing that stands out above all things...
When John takes the kids off my hands for a few hours means more to me at this time of my life than anything. I don't get opportunities to feel like an adult very often. I cherish any time I can get on my own: to read a book, to drive alone, to SHOWER for goodness sake (there's nothing like trying to wash your hair as your 3 year-old is staring at you and asking questions like "What's that hair down there for, mommy?")...

This picture was taken at a Wiggles concert, which as you can see, John thoroughly enjoyed. I'm just glad that he volunteered to go, and I got a nap. I can't believe there was a time in my life when I had too much free time on my hands. Just one more thing I will never again take for granted, at least not until the kids are in college... :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 25- A picture of my day

Since day 24 was a bit depressing, I thought this would cheer people up a bit...
Not only does that picture sum up my day, it also pretty much sums up my daughter.
Thanks for coming over for a play-date, Pete. And thank you for coming over and eating my pancakes, Laurie and Valerie. ;->

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Something I wish I could change.

When I was in college I dated the best friend I ever had. We had been best friends for four years. We had so much fun together; we could laugh about everything and enjoyed common interests as friends often do. What I didn't realize throughout the 4 years of our friendship is that this young man had some serious issues, the kind that only come out once you get close. I'm not talking about "issues" like subscribing to Maxim or drinking cocktails and running half naked around your college campus in the middle of December (I'm pretty sure I was mostly clothed... the night is a little fuzzy). I'm talking about issues like believing fervently that his ex left him because she was cheating (she wasn't- she just wanted to get away from him), and screaming in your face when you decide to do something he doesn't agree with.

I begged him to get therapy. He wouldn't. So instead of nagging, begging, and threatening my best friend and lover to go, I went instead. And I learned something that changed my life: this man wasn't the problem. The problem was me. Because even though he had issues and needed to change, I needed to change too. I was attracted to men that I thought I could "save," men who I thought no one else understood, men who "needed me." The truth was I needed them to fill some void in my life that no one could fill.

After seeing a therapist I regained my courage and found the strength to leave the relationship. I tried to keep our friendship, but he couldn't handle that. It still hurts, but in the end he is the one who lost, not me.

I also did the best damn thing I ever did in my entire life: I took time between my relationships to start focusing on me. Who am I? What was I really looking for? Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to spend quality time with yourself, especially when you suffer from a low self-esteem and depression. I had confused relationship drama for passion. I had used books, fantasies, drinking, friends, and men to block my reflection; I was afraid of being alone and seeing myself for who I really was. But in the end EVERYONE will be forced to face themselves. I hated myself for a long time. However, once I spent time alone (and I mean I spent a year or 2 between dating at times), I realized I was a pretty cool person. I learned to love myself, and that is the greatest gift you can give. You can't love others in a healthy, whole way until you love yourself first.
I currently have a loved one who is suffering through similar emotional abuse. Only it's not some college romance she can easily walk away from. Children complicate everything. I remember in my situation how the young man used things that I loved in order to control me. I know there are millions of women and men who are trapped in similar circumstances. If I could change one thing, I would change my loved one's life. I would make her strong again. I would have her see herself the way healthy individuals see her: as a caring, beautiful, acceptable woman who is lovable just as she is.

In the end, there's nothing I can do for her just as there was nothing I could do for the young man who was once my best friend. I can only pray and hope they find their way- No one can do that for them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to annoy your spouse AND anonymous strangers AT THE SAME TIME!

My husband John has several religions, the most notable being Christianity, politics, and Redskins football. Every night John worships at the feet of football forums, where he is a moderator. When we first got married, I was annoyed that this took up what I felt was WAY too much of his free time. Free time he should be spending with his new wife: rubbing her feet, cooking her dinner, taking her for shopping sprees at Swarovski...

After five years of marriage, I came to realize something that was probably painfully obvious to most singles but leads to divorce in most cases- if you can't beat him, join him.

Now I love football as much as the next couch potato, but I wasn't about to join a football forum where random people analyzed draft picks. Draft picks, for pete's sake... So I asked myself: What did I like enough to commit time and energy to...? Well, I like t.v. And I'm watching this show called Human Target, so maybe I'll look on the Fox community boards for the show and lurk a bit.

So I lurked for about a year until I finally got up the courage to type my opinions about characters and episodes. I decided to get really creative and go under the pseudonym "Jennifer."

What I found out was- Wow! Posting is fun! After awhile I started responding to more threads. Then I got up the courage to start my OWN thread. Then I got addicted, which I'm pretty sure John wasn't counting on (Note to couples- being on your computer as much as your husband will either lead to understanding or strife, but it will always be fun). :-)

I love the forums on Human Target, mostly because I find random strangers who AGREE with me which is so cool... Most of the board discussions revolve around the introduction of 2 new characters in the second season named Ilsa and Ames who happen to both be women. The majority of posters hate these new additional characters because it changed the entire dynamic of the show. And now the show is going to probably be canceled.

But every now and then some random schmuck will start a thread or join a discussion and be insulting. I'm all for using sardonic wit to make a point, but I get irritated when people make personal attacks, mostly because the posters to this forum write like prepubescent tweens that flunked eighth grade English and that brings out my natural teacher sense as well as my maternal instincts. Call me old-fashioned, but I have a problem with anyone who starts a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

Yesterday, I finally got an opportunity to use my contentious sarcasm on one of these schmucks named JP. I'm pretty sure JP is a disaffected college student on spring break because he has a lot of free time on his hands and writes like an eloquent prick. JP started a new thread, and this was also his first post. The transcript follows:

Men Become More Interesting When in the Company of Independent Women

Posts: 6

Keep everybody!

The Ilsa-Chance angle is less about romance than it is about relationships. And the relationships are less predictable when you've got this mix of five people with different stories and sometimes different goals.These relationships (Winston + Guerrero, Guerrero + Ames, Guerrero + Chance, Ilsa + Ames, and Winston + Ilsa) take the stories and from basic comic book to something better.

Perhaps if the guys who want to eliminate the women characters were more comfortable with independent women, they wouldn't be so hostile, like 8-year-olds protecting their treehouse from girls with cooties.

Posts: 141
Dude... I'm so uncomfortable with independent women that everytime I pass a mirror I scream at my reflection, rip up my Roth IRA documents, and heave the stapler at my college diplomas.

OR... how about this angle: maybe a majority of the people really enjoyed the show the first season and felt duped when it changed completely in the second.

Posts: 6

A majority?

"Dude," what was the size of your survey sample and what was your methodology?
(Then a cool guy named Duncan jumps in and tries to keep the discussion civil and on topic. He fails.)

Posts: 71
JP go and look through the posts that remain on this forum and they will provide you with evidence to the fact that the majority including myself enjoyed season one because there were not whiney women but independent strong female characters.

Posts: 6
Ah--a self-selected sample. Not statistically relevant.

As for the descriptor "whiney"--that fits Bridget Jones and Sarah Palin more than it fits the characters of Ilsa and Ames.

Posts: 141
Mar 8, 2011 -- 5:04PM, JP wrote:

A majority?

"Dude," what was the size of your survey sample and what was your methodology?

Dear JP,

No formal methodology, but reviewing posts doesn't require a class on statistical analysis. I encourage you to read through the posts about the addition of the women. The majority of people who have posted were highly displeased to say the least. And not all of them were men, even if that surprises you. But if fans of the show on these boards isn't enough of a population sample, I would be happy to help you contact Gallup.

P.S. Sarah Palin isn't whiney; she's belligerent. In that respect, you two have a bit in common...

Posts: 6
Of the two of us, you're the only one who chose made a personal attack. It's ironic that you called me "belligerent"--from the Latin word for war.

You have demonstrated that the anonymity of these postings doesn't bring out the civility in everyone.

Posts: 141
Dear JP,
From your first post:
"Perhaps if the guys who want to eliminate the women characters were more comfortable with independent women, they wouldn't be so hostile, like 8-year-olds protecting their treehouse from girls with cooties."

You started this thread by making a personal attack to every man on this forum who happens to disagree with you on the addition of the female characters. Most of the people on these boards, and I've been on them for a year now, think they add nothing and take away from the original concept of the show. You can disagree, that's fine. But don't hide behind your thesaurus and be wounded when someone bites back after being attacked. If you want posters to be civil, then begin with a civilized discussion. You reap what you sow, my friend.

As for anonymity, as you can see I have no problem using my real name.

Posts: 6
You seem to speak for a lot of people: Not only "the majority," but "every guy on this forum."

Still, apology accepted.

Posts: 141
Dear JP,
I know you wanted the last word. Oops.

Just out of curiosity, why did you join this forum? I ask, not because I object to you being here at all, but the only posts you rush to write are on this thread that you created, no doubt to add some drama to an otherwise dull day. You haven't bothered to check any of the other threads that would prove your theory incorrect, and yet you seem to have ample time to research as to whether the majority of people like or dislike the addition of the women to the show. I would really like to hear what you have to say on other topics.

That being said, I'm quite sure I didn't apologize to you. Let me check. Because as a stay at home mom I could do this s**t ALL DAY...
Nope, didn't apologize.
But if you would like to apologize to me, that would be great. Could you throw in a million dollars? And a pony? Forget the pony. They poop a lot.

(At this point, a nice girl named Taryn tries to once again get back to the original topic. Then she mentioned she liked the pony comment.)

Posts: 141
Thanks Taryn. But I'm afraid I'm giving up sarcasm for Lent. Of course, if JP continues to post on this thread (and we continue in this vein), I'll be forced to give up something more substantial like Triscuit Thin Crisps, which would suck because my local Giant just started carrying the Quattro Formaggio ones.

As for the women... well, that debate has been so overdone on other threads (and discussed more efficiently) that I guess I just felt like hammering home more important things like the pony. I blame the fact that yesterday was Fat Tuesday. That and the fact that I really, really wanted a pony when I was a girl. I have emotional scars.

I think the bottom line is this: people like what they like, but most people who have posted here seem to prefer the women be written out of future scripts. And for all the forum readers who had the misfortune of finding this thread, you can ignore everything I've written up this point, but remember this one thing:
Quattro Formaggio Triscuits are delicious. You should go out and buy a box. But they are also highly addictive, like small triangles of crack cocaine. Don't say I didn't warn you...

I hope I was able to impart something to JP, mainly that no one likes a smart ass and that Triscuits taste better than sarcasm.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Hiding Place

Day 23- A picture of my favorite book.

I didn't read the Hiding Place until my twenties. It's an autobiographical account of Corrie Ten Boom and her family. Long story short- her family was a part of the Dutch resistance movement during World War 2 and provided a hiding place in their home to Jews escaping Nazi persecution. They were betrayed by a neighbor, and eventually ten Boom was sent to a concentration camp with her older sister. Throughout the entire ordeal, she and her sister never lost their faith. In college I read Night by Elie Wiesel, and I can't help comparing the two books. Both writers were victims of the concentration camps of the Holocaust and suffered unimaginable tragedy. But whereas Wiesel loses his faith in God, Corrie Ten Boom's faith grows stronger. Her faith in God makes mine look lackluster, even on my BEST days.

One part of the book that stands out for me is when the barracks the sisters are staying in becomes infested with lice. ten Boom urges them to thank God for the lice, which seems absurd, but the Scriptures say to give thanks for all things. So everyday during prayer they continue to thank God for the head lice. Later it was revealed that the lice actually kept the Nazis out of their barracks and saved the women from being raped.

I usually read science fiction, but when I reach for biographies, especially ones with so many tragedies, I can't help but think about how easy my life is in comparison to what so many have gone through. There are so many untold stories of hardships that millions suffer through everyday. While this book centers around the suffering of the Holocaust, it is actually a story of hope. It changed my life and helped me draw closer to God.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just one of those days...

I'm just going to step away from the whole 100 day challenge thing for today. It was one of those mornings where God had to gently remind me that I do not lead a charmed life. My 3 year-old has been skipping naps AND getting up at 6:30 in the morning. My daughter was a thug for the Russian mob in her past life and continues to bite, kick, and shove everyone who gets in the way of her toys. It was lovely to get clocked in the mouth with a guitar after lunch. But the highlight of my day was vomiting in the middle of the grocery store parking lot for no reason and getting it in my hair before going shopping (No, I'm not pregnant). One day, they say, I will look back on this time of my life and smile. Sure.

BUT I wanted to share a hilarious post I found from my blogging idol. I'm all for making my small cliche of readers have a good laugh. The entire post is a great read, but the part on the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home-mom was what I could TOTALLY relate to...

The PROS of being a stay-at-home mom: You don’t have to shower until noon. If your child is under 6 months old, you can watch zombie movies and The Big Lebowski all day and they totally won’t care. Pajamas are your new uniform. You’re always home to sign for packages. You get to see all the cool things your kid does all day. Your kid isn’t exposed to the petri-dish of germs that is daycare. You feel like Donna Reed. You don’t have to deal with that bitch at work anymore. Your partner thinks you’re amazing. You have the quiet satisfaction of doing what’s right for your children.

The CONS of being a stay-at-home mom: You don’t have time to shower ever. If your child is over 6 months old, you have to watch really shitty kids TV all the time and you have weird sex dreams about Thomas the Train. All of your pajamas have bodily fluids on them. And not the good kind. You accidentally show your boobs to the mailman/cable guy/next door neighbor.* You realize that your kid is boring and/or an asshole and you can never escape from them. You want to knife Donna Reed for making it look so easy. You irrationally shout, “STAY-AT-HOME MOMS ARE WORKING MOMS” every time you read an article like this and then you shake your head and wonder how you got like this. You feel so lonely that you actually start to miss that bitch at work. Your partner wants to rest after a long day of work and they don’t understand that you need to rest too and they say something like, “Why? What did you do all day? This house is a wreck” and then you have to go to jail for stabbing them in the shoulder. You find that prison is a pleasant break from being a stay-at-home mom. You secretly worry that you’re making the wrong decision.

And by the way, the pros and cons of being a working mom are just as hysterical. I had to share...

*The sad thing is my friend Laurie stayed with us for a summer when I was still breastfeeding Rachel, and she used to keep a daily tally on how many times she saw my breasts. Unfortunately, she kept it on her hand so every time she changed a dirty diaper, the lines were erased putting her back at square one. But she's pretty sure she got up to two dozen every day. Rachel ate a lot. :-)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Something I wish I was better at

Nope, not bondage. I wish I were better at keeping my big mouth shut.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

If it walks like a duck...

Today's challenge is a picture of something I wish I could forget. What do I want to forget? I want to forget being sexually assaulted as a teen, the total douche I gave my whole heart to in Germany, the movie Howard the Duck...

This was a slam dunk... and not just because I can't imagine trying to find a picture of the first two.
If you've never seen Howard the Duck, the picture pretty much sums it up. This god-awful movie still haunts my nightmares. Ironically, it was highly-anticipated when it was released- kinda like Barbarella. It's about a sexually-depraved comic book character from outer space who lands on planet Earth... and wears a giant duck suit. Whoever green-lit this project should be dragged onto a busy street and shot. It was so bad that even at the tender age of 10, I left the theater and walked home (At the time I lived on an air force base and "home" was an apartment building literally ten yards away from the theater; don't want readers to think I hitchhiked across Washington, DC).

Did you know Tim Robbins was in this movie? And George Lucas was an executive producer?? Yeah, I didn't either until John went on IMDB. George Freakin' Lucas, people!!! It's my theory that the genius who created the original Star Wars trilogy and gave us Indiana Jones became so tainted by his association with this movie that horrid delusions produced Jar Jar Binks... and that God-awful Indiana Jones alien sequel.

I dedicate this post to you, George Lucas. Because thanks to you I can never look at ducks the same way again.