A Day in the Life

A wide variety of random stuff from my brain, intermittently posted. :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

For Melanie, With Love.

Miss Melantie Jean, I can't believe you've left us already. I wasn't done knowing you, and this is totally not okay with me in any way. So much of my history, so many stories, have gone to the grave with you and I'm having a really hard time getting my head around it.

I was just a kid when we met, and I'm so glad you decided to hook up with Andy so you could be my mom-person. Not just a stepmom, no, my buddy, my confidant and a role model for so many things. The first newborn kittens I ever saw were in your closet, you showed me my first episode of Saturday Night Live, the first gravestone rubbing I ever did was with you, you're the reason I did theater, my love of fashion came from you, I could go on and on about all the ways you made me who I am today. Most importantly, you taught me how to take someone else's perspective, educated me about how horrible the world can be, and showed me a kind of unconditional love that I've never experienced before or since.

While I was growing up, you were always quick to call a "family meeting" to discuss my newest rebellious behavior but you never, ever gave up on me. Through all the years of my dumbassery, you were steadfast in your love and support and always claimed me as your kid. You were perfectly suited to your chosen profession and I often think I was really good practice for you.


You were the queen of taking pics of every single life event, some not so important, and some super important. You're the reason I have cap and gown pics, you took my first modeling style pics, and you also took pics that I hope get destroyed the moment we locate them. I used to complain about having to stop and take them, but now I thank you that we have them to keep the memories alive. Honestly, though, I wish you were in more of them because you were mostly behind the camera.

You loved a celebration and my hostessing skills are a testament to that fact, although I never quite mastered it like you did. I'm sad I never got your sangria recipe, you used to do it brilliantly. Most of my “girl” skills came from you, you taught me how to do my makeup , dress for my figure, choose flattering colors, and accessorize. I might even still have the thank-you note “templates” you wrote for me all those years ago...and I still use those formats to this day.

As the years went by, I realized that you did for everyone else except yourself and I started losing respect for your opinion. It's hard to want to take self care advice from someone who doesn't practice it. Because you ran on “Melanie time” it was almost impossible to make plans with you, being the schedule Nazi that I am. And then you got a best friend that I couldn't stand, which made it much easier not to come around than to have to struggle with my inner Bitchy during visits. With my 20/20 hindsight, I realize this was a chickenshit move and I should have been brave and discussed all this with you instead of running away from it. Regrets, I have them.

We were just starting to reconnect again right before you took your leave, and I'm eternally grateful that isn't on my list of regrets. I sincerely wish we'd been further along in the process, but it is what it is and I can't change it. My inner critic wants to tell me what a crappy kid I was to you, but my inner nurturer kicks in and tells me you knew how much I loved you. I hope the nurturer is correct.


I imagine you're reunited with all the people who went before you and it makes me happy to think about. I hope the family is taking good care of you with your transition. Please say hi to everyone for me and send my love, I look forward to hugging you tightly the next time I see you.

Miss you and love you so much. Xoxoxo

Jenni

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What is wrong with people??

I had a life changing experience yesterday of the pretty awful kind.

We pit stopped at a rural gas station in Louisiana and there was a seriously injured possum near where I parked, and a cop who had pulled up to the pump next to mine. I backed away from the possum and pointed at it so the cop saw what was up. He aimed his gun at it while I got in the car to move to another pump. At the time, I wondered if discharging a weapon near a gas pump might be dangerous and I hoped he wouldn't need to use it. I also didn't look that way just in case he did end up shooting it. The possum never moved, he was jacked up like maybe got hit by a car and was terrified...you could see it in his eyes. I know from experience they can be immobile for hours when they're scared, so I wasn't too stressed but was watchful.

Meanwhile, my traveling companion went inside the store and the clerk called animal control. The cop went inside the store and we all shopped and whatever before heading back out to our cars. The cop went outside first and we came shortly after.

We're walking to the car watching the possum to see if it had moved...when the top of his head exploded because the cop chose that exact moment to shoot it. I will never unsee that, and I'm crying as I relive it right now. My friend came completely unglued and started yelling at the cop about "What is wrong with you?" and "Why would you do that?" We quickly got in the car and couldn't get away from there fast enough.

I cried off and on the rest of the trip home and my friend is so angry she couldn't calm down for hours afterward. She is planning to make complaints, and I'm curious to see what comes from that. Am I wrong in thinking discharging a firearm next to a gas pump is dangerous? The possum was next to the pump at the end of the raised concrete platform it sits on, and that seems pretty close to shoot at. Regardless, what kind of person would do that in front of two civilians at the exact moment they're looking? It's like he waited until we got to see it or something.

As if I wasn't damaged enough. Thanks a lot, asshole. :'-(

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where in the world is Jenni?

I'm having a breakdown and I'm strangely comfortable with it.

I've been the sad version of myself since last summer and the rest of my emotions are somewhere in the distance. I can see them but can't quite get there, not really, not fully. I've been struggling with major depression and have had many days where upright on the couch (vs. fetal position in the bed) was the best I could do. I've barely been working, I haven't wanted to leave the house much, and I've become more and more introverted as the months pass. It's safe to say I'm a very hot mess right now.

Over the last month things have been changing inside me at a scary fast rate, and here's how it happened...

Several months ago, a dear friend sent me over this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

which is an animated short about Empathy vs Sympathy. It resonated with me in a way that caused me to go back and keep watching it.

Fast forward to the snow/ice week about a month ago. While doing my traditional "I'm stuck at home, bring on the day drinking", I decided to research the voice behind the animated short. My life changed forever because I found this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0

For anyone not planning to follow the link, (although I highly recommend spending the 20 minutes), the video is a TED talk by Brene Brown called the Power of Vulnerability.

Brene Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher at the University of Houston and everything she says is based on years of research of thousands of actual people's stories. She has applied all the principles to her own life (unlike the multitude of self help practitioners who don't/can't/won't work on themselves), so I respect her opinion. Plus, she's a native Texan and an amazing storyteller and it feels like I'm listening to one of my friends when I hear her.

I spent the rest of the week during the inclement weather devouring everything of hers on YouTube. I feel like one of those people who get "born again", as deeply as I'm drinking the kool aid that is this woman.

While digesting the glut of Brene Brown information I'd gobbled up, I decided to go further.

I tried to participate in a group self help project where I was tasked with envisioning my "Strategic Self" which is that part of myself that runs my own business, maintains my household, and generally gets stuff done...and I came to a dead stop.

I have no vision of myself as a success.

On further reflection, I realized that I have a bigger fear of success than I do of failure. I'm really good at failure, I have a lot of experience at it, and it has become a familiar place to me. I'm stuck in a rut of "I'm going to fail anyway so why bother trying to succeed because I'm going to end up here anyway and feel worse about it having lost a measure of success". That's gotta change, sooner than later, and I've already started a list of what successful looks like for me.

As I was googling around about conquering fear of success, I found this article: 

http://startupbros.com/21-ways-overcome-impostor-syndrome/

Imposter Syndrome, I absolutely have it and I needed to find out why.

I've done a metric crapton of personal growth work throughout my life. I've been in therapy off and on since the age of 7. I was 11 years in AA and worked the steps multiple times. I love a self help google search. I'm not afraid to look at myself with a critical and brutally honest eye. So with all this work on myself, how on earth could I still be this messed up??

And then it dawned on me, I've been "faking it until I made it" for over 20 years and I haven't made it yet. I feel like a cleverly disguised piece of shit and worry that I'll be found out and y'all will all run away. Logically I know this can't actually be true, and even as I write this I see how ridiculous it sounds, but the fact remains that's truly how I feel.

Through the years of self-discovery, I've worked on treating people with more compassion, adding tact to my world, and a whole bunch of other things designed to make me a nicer person to others. I've never once translated that kindness to myself. If I have the skills to be kind and nurturing to others, why am I not applying them to myself?

I began really paying attention to my self talk and realized that I would NEVER let anyone speak to me the way I speak to myself. I would also never let anyone talk to someone I cared about the way I speak to myself. This is totally unacceptable and must change right now.

The new rule is that I'm not allowed to say anything to myself that I wouldn't say to a little kid, and oh my friggin lord this might be the hardest project I've ever had to take on.

In an effort to start loving myself (Even writing that makes my tummy react in a stressful way. I really can't explain how terrifying this sounds to me, and I'm honestly not even sure why yet.), I went to a few friends and asked them for a short list of the reasons they love me. I'm compiling answers into a reference document for future use, and the surprising news is that I agree with everything they've said so far. I might be able to logic myself out of this one, hopefully anyway, fingers and toes crossed.

So basically I'm in a place in my life where I had a completed house built but apparently hadn't poured the foundation correctly. I've now demoed it to the earth and am in the process of reconstruction. I'm planning to reuse most of the building materials, but also add some new things to freshen the place up.

Socially, I'd have to say I'm extremely awkward and almost completely introverted right now. As someone who has always been an extrovert, this is uncharted territory for me. The good news is that I find it peaceful and safe and that's exactly what I need right now. Y'all don't worry though, I'm not isolating. I've had people come by the house pretty consistently throughout and I'm still totally comfortable in controlled environments with small groups of people. I've got a few people who hear from me daily and I'm trying not to let myself get bogged down with any of this.

This project is my own personal growth version of eating an elephant and I'm having to do it one bite at a time. I have no idea how long it will take and it'll probably be a work in progress forever. I'm so grateful to have this insight so I can now finally fix the thing that's prevented me from success throughout my life. I feel hopeful for the first time in a very long time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Proud Auntie Bragging. :)

I had the opportunity to go with My Sissy and my niece (aka Mini Me) to my niece’s first “cattle call” audition Thursday and it was a blog-worthy experience for sure.

The show is X Factor and there were literally thousands of people from all over the country auditioning in Dallas. This was my first experience with a situation like this and I was not impressed with the lack of organization on the show’s part. It seemed like they didn’t properly anticipate the amount of hopefuls and nothing went as smoothly as it could have throughout the day. Still tho, it was fascinating…

They got all registered on Wednesday morning and brought me a copy of the image release, I’ve never seen such a thorough document in all my life. It actually said they have the right to use any image they got of me throughout the universe and for eternity…I could not make this stuff up. I signed it even though I’m not thrilled by the thought of images of me running around without my control but I had to go support the Mini Me. :)

We got up at 4 am (omg how is that possibly the beginning and not the end of my day?) and caught the 5:15 train to the convention center. Thanks to my awesome neighbor for that brilliant idea because the train drops off inside the convention center and we didn’t have to deal with (or pay for) parking. We arrived at 5:30 and the epic waiting began, corralled into the Blue 2 section.

We found a lady who had brought her guitar (even though the instructions said not to bring instruments) and she had a small group around her that were hanging out and singing and having fun. Obviously we gravitated to the fun. The group was about 10 of us who all ended up hanging out for the 6 hours we were stuck in the parking lot. We got to be friendly, got to exchange stories with each other, and built a basic camaraderie during that time. I’m pretty sure Mini Me traded Facebook info with some of them so hopefully we can keep up with them and how they progress in their careers and with the show.

The crowd was the most interesting thing. The fashion ranged from classy to klassy and even included some people who could have been contestants on Let’s Make a Deal. I swear some of these people did not have mirrors in their homes or any friends or family, otherwise they would not have left the house looking like they did. Yikes! We had too much fun being the fashion police.

They moved us to the tunnel outside the convention center and then left us sitting there for another 2 hours before they finally let us into the building. I’m thankful we were in the shade though; you should have seen the sunburns the people got who were left out in the parking lot, poor things! Once we got into the building we finally had a place to sit down (other than on the ground) and wow what a complete and total relief. We made more friends around us once we got inside because we got stuck there for an additional 5 hours before they finally called her into the last line to get in front of the first-round judges.

Through the whole day people would just spontaneously burst into song and most of the time it was a happy pleasing noise, however, there were others that made you wonder what they were doing there. I gotta say, some of these people made me feel better about my own singing voice…which is hilarious and sad all at the same time. Our seats had a great view of the lines to the curtained “rooms” that had judges in them and we got an interesting fashion parade and got serenaded with some super loud singing during our wait.

Once they called Mini Me to the final line, My Sissy went with her and I adjourned outside where I ran into a friend who was also there auditioning and we talked and passed the time. Mini Me wanted to go in alone so My Sissy stepped away during her audition. Mini Me did well enough that even though the judge didn’t choose her, she did tell her that she’s young and they would be back in a few months and she should try again. We’re all encouraged by this because the judge told several people “No, just no.” while they were waiting.

Mini Me was understandably disappointed but to me, this was her first audition outside of school and I really didn’t expect much other than experience for her. She was a trooper, she stood most of the day while My Sissy and I sat on the ground so as not to mess up her dress. She didn’t sing with the other people much to save her voice for the judges, and even laughed at the people who were just belting it out and said they should blow out their voices to give her a better chance. She didn’t get all weepy when she didn’t make it, she sucked it up like a pro. And I think this experience has made her even more determined to make something happen with her singing career and that’s worth a million bucks right there.

A couple of people we made friends with made it to round two auditions and I’ll be curious to see what happens with them. We met some amazingly talented people during the day.

My function at the event was simple, observe the crowd, and take mental notes for the next time we do something like this. I also got to be cheerleader after the bad news was given and I am the ninja at that. Before we got in the car, Mini Me was laughing and we were all talking about strategies for the next audition.

She’s a very brave girl for even having the courage to do the audition; it’s something I’m not sure I would do no matter what the audition was for. However, I remember as a kid wanting to be famous and it seems she has that same ambition. I’m going to help her out however I can to make sure that happens for her. I’m the proudest auntie EVER and can’t wait to see what the future holds for her! Go Mini Me!!

Friday, May 06, 2011

My Asian Adventure - Part Twelve, 80s-o-rama

Okay yes, I realize I'm not in the Philippines anymore but I ran across this post that I wrote while I was there and thought I might as well post it anyway. Hope y'all enjoy!

-------------------

Here locally, it’s very clear that the 80s came here to die. It’s so strange to me to hear Air Supply, Asia, and Journey on the radio on a regular basis. Okay, seriously, am I in a time warp? The strangest thing is that they don’t play any of the really good music that came out of the 80s (there was a ton), they only play the really sappy love songs. And it’s not on the oldies station, it’s on the popular station, mixed in with hip hop, dance, native pop music, and a Xmas carol thrown in every now and then for variety. So very strange, this soundtrack…

A couple of weeks ago, Eric and I were sitting in a bar having lunch and the parallels between now and our time in Cali together (sans romance, of course) were notable. We’re on an adventure together in a strange place where Madonna plays over the loudspeakers. I had to have a good long giggle at the thought of it. Thankfully we both have much better haircuts these days. ;-)

The fashion is all straight up 80s although I’m happy to report the ridiculously large shoulder pads are *not* present and accounted for. Gods, I hated that style, it made me look like a linebacker. Lol! Off-the-shoulder stuff and shirts long enough to belt are definitely in every store here. I’m sad to report I have seen no paisley, however, I would *rock* that style again. There’s almost nothing for sale that doesn’t have some sort of pattern printed on it and they love some bright colors so the stores are a little visually overwhelming. Add the Christmas soundtrack and decorations to the mix, and a buncha short native folks and it becomes very clear that I’m not in Kansas anymore!

Speaking of the malls, it’s interesting to me to see the differences in fashion between here and home. The flip flop section is quite impressive; it’s actually rows and rows of a wide variety of styles and prices. It’s a myriad of colors and patterns, and they’re all flip flops. Then there are more of the higher quality (leather and 1”heel) styles mixed in with the regular shoe section. It’s the land of painted toenails out here. :)

The pricing on things is *so* cheap but the bad news is that the quality matches the price. I’ve never seen things fall apart so quickly and easily as the stuff I’ve bought here. Seams come undone, things stop working, etc. I joke that we live at the dollar store and it’s really true.

When dealing with the non-corporate vendors, it’s very much a haggle society out here. There’s a non-native price (“gringo price”, as I refer to it) and a local price. This is true for literally everything not bought in a commercial store and it sometimes annoys me, but it is what it is so I’m learning to work with it. I also have my local friends call on things when I’m trying to get pricing so I get the local pricing. My inner jew is hard at work here. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Asian Adventure - Part Eleventy, Religion

The national religion here is Catholicism and oh boy, it shows. There are pregnant women and kids literally everywhere. The religious imagery at the stores is a bit overwhelming and elaborate. Of course, I live in a mainly Hispanic neighborhood back home, so it’s not complete culture shock.

Here’s something strange: every day at 6 pm, there is a moment of prayer. The first time Mike and I witnessed it we were at the grocery store and this disembodied voice came over the loud speaker which caused everyone to literally stop in their tracks. We just looked at each other not really knowing what was going on and if we should keep shopping or what. Total wtf moment. Apparently it happens in all the public areas like stores and malls daily.

The girls in the cafeteria at work listen to Christian radio every morning, so we’ve started joking that we eat breakfast with Jesus. It’s actually quite surreal but sometimes when they’re on the “thought of the day” part there’s a message there for me. Guess it really doesn’t matter what religion you are, the basic tenets are the same: be a good person, try and live a good life, and do it without completely screwing anyone over. I can get on board with that. :)

They do have some beautiful churches here and I got to go to downtown Cebu one day with a local tour guide who was the awesome. I saw the oldest street in the entire Philippines: Colon (pronounced cologne, fyi). I also got to see Magellan’s cross which is located by this amazing cathedral. I want to go back with Eric’s camera because there’s no flash photography inside the church, and my point and shoot just didn’t cut it. I did get some super cool pix of the outside and of Magellan’s cross, tho. :)

Halloween seems to be primarily a kid holiday (much to my extreme disappointment) but omfg the Christmas is already killing me. I’m told the stores started playing the music over the loud speakers at the beginning of September, and there is an amazing variety of it. I’ve heard it remixed with pop songs, and Mike actually purchased that cd because we knew no one would believe it. Hilarious. It totally cracks me up hearing the winter songs about snow and snuggling by fires, because it *never* gets cold here. Oh the irony. LOL!

Since Christmas is my least favorite holiday, it’s like a whole new level of hell to be in the retail areas and have to deal with this. I’m happy to report I’m starting to get used to it and even have a laugh at the crazy decorations here. I’m gonna have to collect pix, it’s so notably foreign and familiar at the same time. This country is so hard for me to understand!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Asian Adventure - Part Ten, Pictures

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Asian Adventure - Part Nine, Island Hopping

We chartered a boat and spent a day out on the ocean and wow...it’s breathtaking out here! It’s so beautiful I almost can’t get my head to register that it’s real. I’ve been taking lots of pics but they really don’t do the reality justice. It’s like a movie or a video game or something, heh, Philippines the video game. LOL!

Everything is crazy cheap…we got the boat rental for $50 for the whole day. Six of us went, so we split it and it became ridiculously inexpensive. We made friends with a local who lives near our house and he organized the whole thing for us. Francis is totally the man for that, and we’ll most definitely be using his services again. I’d really like to do this boat thing at least once a month while we’re here.

We got a late start because we went the morning after the Halloween party at the house, that’s also the reason for the small group. The flake factor was high that morning. I wasn’t a hundred percent myself, but there was no way I was gonna miss the adventure.

Everyone but me snorkeled while we were out on the boat and it was hilarious to watch. It looked like a group of dead bodies floating around in the ocean. I think everyone ended up getting burned on their backs as a result, even tho the sunscreen was flowing all day. They said it was amazing to watch the fish and see the coral and stuff but I seriously doubt I’m gonna indulge in the ocean again. The first weekend we were here we did a night swim at one of the resorts, and I got sea urchin spines in my foot that are still working their way out. I’m creeped out by all the critters in the water and since I won’t be able to see without my glasses anyway, I’m opting out until further notice. Thankfully I’m a tanner so just being on the boat and getting sun is totally fun to me.

We went to the strangest “restaurant” for lunch. It was a platform built above the water with tables and a kitchen. The boat pulled up to some stairs(ish) and we climbed up to the place. The food was buckets of live sea critters and you picked out what you wanted to eat from there. Um, okay? I was super grateful they had prawns and were willing to peel and devein them for me so I was able to eat a little lunch. What’s with people eating shrimp here with all the parts still on? Creepy and gross. I’ve never eaten so much rice in all my life. Lol.

All in all it was a successful day, everyone had fun, and I made some new friends. :)

I’m really glad I’m starting to form a social group out here, it makes me far less homesick and gives me alternatives of stuff to do. I’m kinda shying away from the party crowd because I don’t need to drink like a fish the whole time I’m here, tho I am being friendly with them and will still do that from time to time. The alcohol out here is stronger than back home and I think, even tho I drink a lot of water, that I’m probably dehydrated a lot. Drinking out here so far has not been a positive experience because I can’t gauge it like I normally do. I’ve been drinking more at home to try and figure out where my limits are…the last thing I want is to get out and overdo it and be a burden on the group or an embarrassment to myself. I’m *so* not that girl.

Monday, November 01, 2010

My Asian Adventure - Part Eight, Pictures

Hey all! Sorry I'm having trouble finding my voice right now...my cat back home passed away and I've now basically missed celebrating my favorite holiday. In the interest of not saying anything if I don't have anything nice to say, I'm staying quiet. I hope to be able to change my attitude soon and get back on track.

In the meantime, for those who aren't on Facebook, here are some links to my photo albums:

Our overnight in LA:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=226579&id=588038946&l=b5f20aa0be

Us at the airport in Korea:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=226581&id=588038946&l=d1689d94e3

The neighborhood we live in:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=229634&id=588038946&l=1b65144242

General pics of the trip:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=226582&id=588038946&l=5010c126ca

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Asian Adventure - Part Seven, Food Issues

Yes, it’s true, I have been mostly starving since I’ve been here...which, with my blood sugar issues, is definitely not a good thing. Let me see if I can explain why.

I have an overdeveloped sense of smell and when things smell bad to me it throws my appetite off. The smells here are very strong and mostly fish-like, whether it’s the local food or the tide being out, it’s all fishy and therefore stomach turning to me. Thankfully the longer I’m here the more I’m getting used to it, so I’m now able to eat in spite of the smells. Also, the local fare has a lot of fish/squid/random sea creatures so it’s like having my nose assaulted at every turn.

The food being mostly Asian of all types (Filipino, Korean, Thai, etc.), it doesn’t sit heavy on you or stay with you. No matter how much rice I eat, I’m having trouble feeling full and when I do feel full I’m hungry again in a few hours. Normally I eat about every 4-5 hours, but here I need to eat every 2-3 and I almost never feel full.

I never realized how much cheese I ate until I moved to the land of no cheese. The cheeses they have available here (unless you go to a specialty store and pay high prices) are cream cheese, American slices, and an inferior version of velveeta that is basically inedible. The cream cheese is exactly what you’d expect, which is thankfully very edible. There is no ranch dressing, although you can buy a thing that’s labeled “ranch” at the store, it is nothing like anything you would actually eat. The mayo is also questionable and I’ve been avoiding it as well.

The meats here are not what I’m used to either. The chicken is *awesome* but they are the thinnest chickens you’ve ever seen and even when you get a whole rotisserie one from the roadside vendor (which are delicious, btw) you get very little meat off of it. The meat on a stick places have things like livers and intestines on the sticks, ugh, gross. The pork is all served with the fat still on it so by the time I trim off the part I will eat, there’s very little food on my plate. There are a lot of sausages which are not my favorite by any stretch of the imagination, and I’ve seen spam quite a bit which is something I’m not willing to eat no matter how hungry I get. I’m not a big fish fan but there is an abundance of it here so it’s very limiting to me. Also, squid and eel are huge here and I’m completely out on those.

I finally found a health food store at the big mall over in Cebu City where I can buy protein bars. Granted they cost about $4 each, but it’s worth it to actually feel full and know that I’m getting enough protein. I’ve been eating a lot of peanuts, cashews, and pistachios lately which are helping with my protein intake also. We do cook at the house which is terrific, but since we usually work 10-hour days, by the time we get home and cook it’s quite late. On those nights we cook, eat, clean up then go to bed. Oh and did I mention that we work 6 days a week? :)

I know it won’t be like this forever and I’ll get to come back to civilization eventually. When I get there, Katie bar the door cuz I’m gonna be an eating fool! I’m drooling just thinking about it...