Happiness Kitchen

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Photo by Bethany Legg on Unsplash

Yesterday, my son’s soccer team lost two games in the last summer tournament this year, which effectively took them out of the running for first and second place. Mentally, emotionally, and physically (sore hip) drained from three weekend games, my son merely wanted to go home to rest for the rest of this week (done).

I took a detour home, stopping at a Del Taco first. Unfortunately my little pit stop took us through the worst of the road construction projects, Revive I-5, where three lanes were closed for repaving.

Somehow, I went around the worst of the closures on I-5 off a Kent exit. The exit took me through fields and sparse residential neighborhoods I’d never seen before, despite driving the main roads here many times before on previous tournaments.

During this detour, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and love come over me and my son — who helped me navigate. It bonded us somehow. I can’t explain it, other than to say the five-minute detour — a blip on the radar — meant more to us than three games of exciting, strenuous back-to-back play in a stadium filled with people.

I noticed that these little detours in life tend to bring me the most satisfaction, whether it’s an exit off yet another aggravating traffic jam, or stumbling into a Japanese restaurant without a sign for the most delicious bowl of cold zaru soba noodles this side of Japan.

The problem is, I can’t control the detours. I just have to be open and ready for them when they take over what I’ve got planned down to a science — a nearly monumental feat for an anal-retentive, by-the-book OC-D like me.

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Chris missed the shot, but I didn’t.

Like, when I opened the photo card and found a treasure trove of shots from this weekend’s tournament, featuring my son and his teammates in action. They lost by the most goals in the last game yesterday. But I scored the best photos of my son and this one goal that slipped through, in a split second. it was a moment of pure bliss.

For me anyway, ha ha.

I remember the moment well. After a bee scared me away from the game (I have a history), I found myself mindlessly sitting down in the shade of one of the stairwells closer to the field on the other side. By halftime, the score was 4-0, the game already over for our team, so I sat back, enjoyed a rare breeze, and watched the sheer athleticism from both teams as if I were watching a professional FIFA tournament on TV.

With the pressure of winning gone, I really enjoyed myself. No expectations. No anxiety. Pure bliss on the happiness train.

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And, that’s when it happened. My son suddenly took possession and began running toward the other team’s goal. I picked up my camera, focused only on him, and watched through my lens, snapping instinctively as he came closer toward my line of sight.

I think even he looked slightly surprised my lens-eye was on him the entire time when he looked up to pass a through ball.

Usually, I’m so intent on catching other players during a game, I hardly have any shots of my own child! I don’t care, because a good photo’s a good photo, and I grow to love every player on my son’s team.

These recent photos of my son are a gift from sitting back and simply enjoying the moment.

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I need to try and grab onto those moments more when they happen, and let go of my expectations of how a day should proceed. I think we all do.

I hope you all had a weekend full of moments in the happiness kitchen.

10 Surprising Things About Me

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11. I love to color. Always have. I used to spend a lot of time as a young girl also doing paint-by-numbers, putting puzzles together, and playing with my collection of Ultra-Man monsters. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
  1. If your voice is weird, I secretly judge you. My ass may also explode. Hell, I may stop being friends with you over it. The L.A. baby voice, the smug, earnest Seattle-Mariners-commercial man-boy gush, Steve Raible coming all over himself over the Seahawks, the fashionista affectation, the stupid way you say “Vet-Tran,” my mom when she orders beer in pidgin English, all of it.
  2. I have a soft spot for bass players. Blame Level 42’s Mark King.
  3. You won’t catch me ordering sandwiches, American BBQ (except Carolina style), chicken strips, mac ‘n cheese, or fancy sushi (get away from me with your cream cheese crunch monsters).
  4. I enjoy watching “Counting On,” “Outdaughtered,” “Kate Plus 8,” and the “Real Housewives…” My guilty pleasure is pop culture, however controversial or moronic. It relaxes me.
  5. I’m strangely fascinated yet repelled by the dark side of human nature. Hence, my strong interest in biographies about serial killers and multiple-personalities. This explains my Stephen King book fetish. In another life, I would be one of those FBI profilers.
  6. I’m so repulsed on a physical and mental level by smoking that I can’t even say the “C” word. I say “cancer stick” instead. Even the sight of a smoker and his phallic symbol can send me to the bathroom to hurl.
  7. I have many pet peeves. But the one that is a deal breaker is if you consistently refuse to take me seriously. I spent most my childhood with people in my family who talked over me, dismissed me, and/or never gave me credit when I was right. When you do it to me habitually, I know for certain that we can never be friends.
  8. As badass as I may appear, I’m really naive. Childlike, really. You are the one who will have to point out the prostitutes and the drug dealers in the crowd, and even then, I will have a hard time believing you. You need to explain the punchline of every sexual joke, like I’ve never heard of sex. I won’t get it right off the bat. I always fight that dichotomy, choosing to believe in the best in the end. It’s a dichotomy I’ve struggled with all my life, hard as it is to believe. This may become a blog entry later.
  9. It takes me a long time to process information. I’m one of those dimwits who needs to get her hands in the mix to truly understand how to do something, a visual, hands-on learner. I always have been. I remember how to spell by intuition; if the word looks right, then it’s spelled correctly. Unfortunately, this applies to emotional trauma, even as slight as a stranger cutting me off in traffic or blasting me verbally.
  10. I fall in love easily. Too easily. At any one time, I could be in love with five different people, men and women — it doesn’t matter to me, for very different reasons… usually because they’re 1. kind, 2. funny, 3. smart, and they 4. single me out in a positive way.

Move on

Every so often, too often to mention, I’m up late staring at old photos of loving married couples, comparing them to the current ones in social media.

What a messed up game of musical chairs they play.

The line that keeps repeating in my head is, “Why don’t you love him anymore?”

I am duped daily by convincing people and their convincing acts. All my life, really.

My parents were expert at putting on a good front for the public, then showing their true selves in private.

I watch this happen all the time, all around me.

There’s this couple that bothers me, they were married for about 25 years. They seemed happy. Everyone adored them, especially their children. Now, she’s off with another guy and his kid, and he’s alone struggling every day for an emotional foothold.

I keep going back to this picture I took of them at a birthday party. They doted on their child. They were so perfect together. He lived and breathed for her and the family they carefully grew. WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?

What happened? When did they stop loving each other? Do they turn it off like a faucet or a computer? Why am I supposed to slither off and pretend I didn’t bear witness to any of this?

I get sucked in, and then, as I’m digging myself back out, these fucking people are gallivanting off into their self-made sunsets like nothing happened.

I swear the Rapture could come, or the mushroom cloud — and these people would go around acting like it’s an ordinary day, bitching about traffic and Donald Trump. Like usual.

I feel like screaming at them, slapping their doe-eyed faces. shaking the life back into them. “What is wrong with you? Do something! Say something! FEEL SOMETHING!”

Acknowledge what happened. Let’s talk about it. Yell, throw things across the room, let’s get it all out. I want, no, I demand to know how you move on after everything you’ve put each other (us, me) through.

I don’t want to know about your awards, your lavish hotel stays and vacations, or your homemade strawberry jam.

Tell me the truth or I swear I’ll tear this curtain to shreds.

Space Ship

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Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

I should be in an abandoned diner somewhere with the rest of the survivors, reminiscing about ice cream and Coke floats.

You should visit. My head is swimming with TMI, snippets of my favorite songs, YouTube Truthers and their dire warnings, layered images from my past, what could have been, my dreams, somewhere in between here and all those other lives in this parallel multi-verse where he waits in a cabin far behind the Golden Gate Bridge — with his sheets of music and his border collie.

I feel Bobby walk through me, as I listen to the golden butles sound off on a recent Airmen of Note record, hear the crash of metal on metal, watch glassy gray waves cut into this side of the cliff forever known as, Monmouth, where I believe he lives, waiting for his one, true love’s return.

I’m a writer. I should know what this means. I should know how this ends. A psychic once told my mom that I was supposed to be a lawyer, but her timing, as usual, sucked, and fucked me with this female body I never wanted and this female mind led slavishly like a dog begging for one more pat on the head before her master throws her another bone into the farthest reaches of this forest, which only catches fire in my borrowed imagination and my handful of memories.

I look for Terri beyond this one large pine tree, where Beth and I tied a gossamer ribbon for her wedding, where love brought a bunch of damaged strangers together for cupcakes and steak.

Tonight, I walked among those trees, on barren roads, the stillness of empty houses sending echoes into my subconscious. I remember or dreamed of the time(s) I snuck out of this space ship parked on someone’s lawn in the middle of Georgia… just to feel grass on my bare feet, the rustle of familiar winds. I knew they would come looking for me in an instant the longer I basked, with their heavy reminders of a world gone by, a world they destroyed.

I am utterly alone, serving a survivor’s penance.

This is the same place. Am I seeing you in another life, or just the one down my street?

Am I programmed? Am I shutting down?

I need to turn this off, this thing that keeps insistently rapping on my back door, as if to say, “Let me in. I’ve news.” Peace, I say. The people, they just sit there staring into their bourbon drink, waiting for shade.

Just one more day, one more day, when the smoke clears. I’m at Dahlia Bakery, sharing beignet-style donuts with my family, dipping each morsel carefully into the mascarpone and the chocolate. It is Aug. 21.

Not now. I’m not ready now.

Selfie Mirror

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Photo by Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash

If you take a lot of selfies, go away.

Yesterday, I unfollowed a YouTube vlogger I really liked because I couldn’t take her selfies anymore. You know the kind: Stand in front of a mirror taking a picture of yourself taking a picture of yourself in a full body shot, then posting like you’re this ingenue trying to figure life out in your own humble way.

Get away from me with that bullshit.

I’ve actually done this pose when I dropped 40 pounds after a pre-diabetic scare in 2014. I was so proud of myself, so shocked at my smaller body — after decades in the 200-lb. range — that I needed to record the milestone somehow. Plus, I looked pretty, which never happens.

I didn’t mean to do the mirror selfie thing, either. I just couldn’t come up with a better way at the time. Nobody was home. Even if someone was, my son can’t take a picture worth shit, and my husband wouldn’t want to be bothered.

The selfie didn’t do shit, btw. I still looked 200 pounds heavier.

I’ve never taken good photos, not even when I looked my best at 120 pounds — pre-uterine fibroids, pre-pregnancy weight. I’m usually the one taking photos of everyone, not the one in the photo. I’m more interested in other people anyway.

So when you see a selfie, it’s usually because I’m having a rare, good hair day, I don’t look too atrocious, or the moment is too awesome not to memorialize somehow (a Mariners game with my husband!).

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#WhereIRoot

For the longest time, I couldn’t even look in the mirror. I still can’t stomach my reflection longer than the briefest of seconds, and only to brush my teeth, make sure I don’t have snot on my face, or spiders in my hair.

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A lot of that stems from my strict upbringing in a family full of beautiful, charismatic Narcissists, and racism. At a very young age, I was made to feel less-than simply because of the way I looked, because I didn’t look like everybody else, and because I looked like this.

Is this part of why I abhor selfies so much? Partly.

The rest is that, with so much going on out there in the big blue yonder, why do you feel it necessary to insert yourself in every picture? I know people who travel far and wide, and insist on selfies and videos with the natives, like they have their own reality-TV show. That makes me want to puke. On them.

I do know I have a problem living in the moment without a camera nearby to capture that moment. I need to learn to put the cell phone away and just enjoy what’s going on, especially at my son’s soccer games.

A tournament’s coming up this weekend, too. I’ll try like hell to watch more than shoot. But a lot of that’s about me dealing with my raw nerves and the tendency to get heated with the calls and the misbehavior of the other team players. Taking pictures is my way of behaving.

Besides, I enjoy a different kind of show altogether through my camera lens. I see these boys close up, which is the equivalent of scoring box seats to a Sounders game or even better, Real Madrid.

My family hates selfies. My husband and son wouldn’t be caught dead in any photograph if they can help it. My son even went back and erased all of his five photos on Instagram, leaving the page blank. He doesn’t care about that stuff, and he’s extremely photogenic. See?

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People who tend toward selfie after selfie turn me off. No matter how much you protest that you are imperfect and hate every detail about your face, you still share pictures of yourself with everyone on the daily, WTF why?! Who has time for that bullshit?

Last night, out of curiosity and because pop culture tends to be one of my guilty pleasures, I tuned into Kylie Jenner’s new E! series, “Life of Kylie.” The part that really made me laugh, then shudder, was early on when she kept trying out different poses for her constant selfies that her supposed fans demand.

She said that she checks after posting every one. If her fans say, “What the hell was that?” she immediately “deletes that shit.”

She’s the norm. The norm. Think about that.

I often wonder what my life would be like if I were born a Kylie Jenner. Probably wonderful. For two seconds. I mean so many kids look up to her and covet her lifestyle. She’s rich, white, privileged, young and beautiful (without the make-up and the lip thing), all the things I grew up wishing I could be. Young women want to be her, young men want her period.

Maybe if I looked remotely beautiful like Kylie Jenner, I’d be posting endless selfies too. I joke often that I’d walk around naked in the frozen foods aisle.

But would I really?

I’d like to think that I’m too smart for any of that nonsense. Yet, if I were beautiful, how smart would I be? Doesn’t one go hand in hand with the other?

It’s a shame I had to unfollow this YouTuber. I really bought her peaches and cream, We the People act for a while there. She’s not the first, unfortunately. She won’t be the last.

And, fair warning: If I drop off the face of the earth, you might want to check your social media selfie quotient.

Check out “The #Selfie Generation: On Narcissism, Distorted Reality & Ignorant Bliss” by Samantha Shorter at Thought Catalog for more on this trend.

 

Bottom of the Barrel

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Photo by Masha Danilova on Unsplash

I’m very claustrophobic.

I didn’t get that way overnight. I was born into a world crowded with people, noise, and filth in the middle of some ghetto in a place my mom called Sonyuri, South Korea. She also yearned to get away by any means necessary, using her beauty, her body, her wiles, and her business sense.

What the wide-eyed tourists pouring in from America won’t tell you is that Korea is terribly polluted, cesspool really. But the food is fantastic.

My claustrophobia affects the way I deal with people in general. I don’t like them too close unless I really like them. I get panicky in crowds, even with groups of friends. After awhile, I have to leave. When I’m driving for longer than 15 minutes, I can feel that itch to run away.

I couldn’t wait to leave. At three, my Army sergeant father took us to the United States, the land of the free. Yeah, for a few months.

The moment American Airlines touched down in Kentucky, my world opened up. My fondest memories are from there.

I felt the breeze, I felt the wide, open, green spaces landscaped with cattails, fireflies, and honeysuckle. I felt freedom for the first time, and I hungered for more.

I experienced many firsts, good and bad: my first crush, the first of many rejections, the first time someone other than my parents hit me (with a ruler across my hands in school), riding shotgun on a motorcycle, shooting a BB gun and getting shot in return, cherry pie and Pepsi picnics, playing doctor with the boy who only loved me for my long, black hair, living in a trailer park on nickels and dimes, Certs and Bingo, Rough Collies, grits, piping hot sweet potatoes and Halloween, racism and rock ‘n roll.

When my father suffered his first (of three) heart attacks, he retired from the Army in July of 1977. He offered my brother and me a choice: back to Hawaii or Stuttgart, Germany. In hindsight, I should’ve went with Germany.

But we all agreed that being with our own kind (Asia City!) might serve us better after so many years growing up with racism on the Mainland.

But Hawaii, Hawaii… It reminded me too much of where I came from. Far from the paradise the tourism industry pushed like crack.

In the beginning, from the 1970s to the early ’90s, Hawaii almost lived up to the hype. Wide open blue skies, plumeria-scented tradewinds, beaches for days, as long as you stayed out of Waikiki, but starting to show the wear and tear of catering to tourists flooding in from Japan and then China.

Even then, there were too many people packed on one island (Oahu). If you were smart, you took the bus or walked everywhere. Driving became a hassle; forget about finding parking at any of the hot spots or landmarks. Nobody drove to Ala Moana Center, or Hanauma Bay.

Concrete buildings grew where plumeria trees once stood. Hawaii resembled a cross between Hong Kong and a poor man’s Bel-Air. I wanted no part of it.

By the time I met my husband at a Nadine’s Music Store, we were both ready to go back to the Mainland and find our own wide open space somewhere — untouched by racism or mindless development.

We thought, Seattle.

Until the Emerald City pushed us north toward the Snohomish suburbs.

Now, look. It’s become another Hawaii, Korea, Hong Kong, Beijing, Bel-Air, crowded, polluted, dirty, one festering, claustrophobic hellhole.

I honestly believed the people of Seattle were smarter than this. They wouldn’t allow massive overdevelopment to happen, not these nature-loving, pure-hearted activists. I can’t tell the difference between downtown Seattle and any other big city.

More and more people continue to come here, hoping to find a place of their own. The homeless situation is almost as bad as Hawaii, #1 in have-nots. Needles litter schoolyards, parks, busy sidewalks in between tourist destinations and five-star dining establishments. The gentrification is absolutely out of control.

Now, wildfires up north in Canada are causing massive air pollution. We’re going in on week two, and I’m afraid to let my son, who has asthma, go to his soccer practices today and Thursday, then the weekend tournament.

Air quality’s gone back down and will pose a threat to children like him and others through Friday.

Yesterday, I went walking around my neighborhood and couldn’t see the sun. This gauze of grey took over, like a real-life “Under The Dome.” The age-old claustrophobia set in.

My soul can’t breathe.

What have we done to this planet?