Monday, August 25, 2014

living the dream

About once a day, I have the realization that I'm living the dream life I wanted and envied in others when I first moved to this town 15 years ago.

When I moved here, I was a single mom, on welfare, struggling to finish college, working a part time job in a restaurant. I lived in this utter shit hole 1 bedroom apartment, and my car had blown up on the freeway on the move here. I didn't have any friends here. 

Going to campus, I would drive through the "fancy" neighborhood and see these put together moms out jogging in cute work out clothes, pushing their kids in cute strollers, and I'd look at their nice cars and huge houses and I really wanted that life. 

And now I live in that neighborhood I would drive through, and I have a big huge SUV and a big family and a wonderful husband and I am that mom sitting at soccer practice and running around the neighborhood on the weekends. 

It's just.......really surreal sometimes. 

I'm so so appreciative of my life and all that God's grace has given me.

Maybe it's life or getting older or achieving a "dream", but it also has made me realize that it's stupid to envy other people. Because I still have problems. Sure I live in this neighborhood, but it costs me a bajillion dollars and I'm almost always broke. And, yeah, I drive a giant SUV  but...I kind of have to. Four kids and all. Living here doesn't make life wonderful, it doesn't magically change anything like I thought it would 15 years ago.

I'm  not complaining. I'm also grateful for the insight, I'm grateful to know that my happiness doesn't depend on my car or neighborhood or work out clothes. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

gone

My high school buddy, Jeremy, died last night.

We used to be close, but haven't been as much in the last few years. Through no reason other than life and getting old.

He was truly such a good heart. When I got pregnant in college and when I moved to this city when I was a new mom, he went out of his way to always tell me "You can do this". He used to take me out to bagels most Saturdays because I was too broke to take myself. He would always say some variation of "You got this, Lopez. You're gonna be a great mom."

Like........just a million percent supportive.

And now he's gone, which feels...........so weird that he's not in the world anymore. I mean, really? He's just gone?

My brain is just in a fog. I feel...........gross and indecisive. I arrived at work and had a moment where I contemplated just going to a bar and drinking till I passed out. I get that feeling now. Nothing can fix this, so maybe I could blur it out for a while?


But of course, a much bigger part of my brain flashed big red flags and reminded me what a horrible, horrible idea that is.

So I'm writing a blog instead. Still kind of in a fog, with my brain not really wrapping itself around the idea that Jeremy just isn't here anymore.



Friday, July 18, 2014

wonderful kids

Our family has a weekend breakfast tradition. On Saturdays, I make pancakes and on Sundays we go out for donuts. It's a lot of carbs in our house on the weekends.

A few weeks ago, I found a recipe for whole wheat pancakes with oats. I drug my laptop into the kitchen to look at the recipe, whipped em up, and served them to the kids. They gobbled their food  down and I proudly re-pinned the recipe with a smug little comment about how I got my kids to eat whole wheat pancakes and they didn't complain or even seem to notice the deviation from the standard Bisquick pancakes I normally make.

The following weekend, I went to make pancakes again. As I was pulling out ingredients and going to the living room to fetch the laptop to get the whole wheat recipe again, my 6 year old stops me and says:

"Mama, I want you to make the pancakes you know how to make. Don't make the ones you don't know how to make."

And now each Saturday, I hear "Mama, you're going to make the pancakes you KNOW how to make, right?"

But don't tell him I generally sneak in oats anyways.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

100 words - "Sing" by Travis


The older you get the more you realize you don’t know.

But, I think I’ve learned a couple truths in my 38 years.

One of those is that clich├ęs are often true. One of the truest is “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself”.  If you are self-loathing, or don’t respect yourself…it’s just not possible to love another.

Another truth I’ve learned: you have to share it.  If you love yourself… it’s going to die if not shared. You can’t love another if you don’t love yourself, but you MUST love others if you DO love yourself.  Truth.


 
 
My contribution for 100 Word Song, hosted by My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.
Inspired by the song "Sing" by Travis.





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In Defense of My SUV


I was car-free for nearly 3 years.

I was able to do this because all the stars aligned just right and it was easy for me. I worked at home. My kids went to school just a few blocks away. I live in the center of a busy, large city where I was just a few blocks from groceries, a pharmacy, a couple of Targets, and four hospitals. And I had access to the services of ZipCar and Relay Rides when I ever really needed a car or just felt like getting out of town.  Despite what many people thought, it was quite easy and a significant reduction of stress on my resources and myself.

 

Then I got married and started a job in the real world. And suddenly my house had four kids and two adults going off to school and jobs each day.

That’s not to say we couldn’t still be car-free. Yes, we could. However, for us, the logistics of two working adults and four school aged kids made the trade off of convenience versus money leaned more and more towards convenience every day.  

So we bought a Suburban.

Yes, the giant, gas guzzling SUV that is probably the biggest SUV out there, aside from a Hummer.

We looked at smaller SUVs but realized that 1)they get about the same gas milage and 2)the whole point of “going big” was so that we could do things like all go places together, go camping and have room for family AND stuff, and so when we were in a car for longer than 10 minutes, it wasn’t uncomfortable a cramped. Again, all things that we of course could live through if we had to…but we didn’t.

We had a finite number of dollars, and it wasn’t practical or realistic for us to finance a new car. So with our finite dollars we had to find something that fit the criteria we wanted that was also within our budget. Hence, the older model Suburban that now sits in my driveway.

Why am I explaining myself so much?

Well, I’ve found that I get treated a lot differently driving a giant SUV than I did driving a tiny economy car. Other drivers and pedestrians seem to automatically assume I’m going to drive like an asshole or be an asshole and the only difference I can see is my car. I get honked at A LOT more. Maybe it’s because I drive worse in my SUV, but honestly, it’s not that hard to drive. And I’m a pretty conservative driver.

I am actually still primarily a bike rider. So I like to think I’m pretty aware of pedestrians and bikes when I’m out and out. I don’t speed. I park way out in the boonies of the parking lot. Generally, as I always have, I try to be a safe driver.

But I get dirty looks and honks and people yelling “watch it!” at a much higher rate. Does my SUV really look that scary?

Recently, I woman I know and like very much, who also happens to be a very vocal advocate for bike riders in my city, twittered that her new neighbor owns a Hummer and she “doesn’t think she’s going to like him”.

Because of what he drives.

Now, I admit that, I too judge Hummer drivers because it seems like a huge excess of money to spend to have one. I just could never justify that, but then again I’ve never had that kind of disposable income.  

But I don’t know that I could ever tell you for sure that I would most certainly dislike someone PURELY based on what they drive.

And maybe I’m a little defensive because I now drive one of those hulking behemoths.  I’d like to think I’m a nice person, concerned with my community, and just trying to do my best with what I have.  You can’t tell any of that about me when I’m behind the wheel of my car, though. Why would you think you could anyways?

If I had a gajillion dollars, I’d buy a brand new Tahoe with the FlexFuel option, but I’d keep an electric car of some kind for most of my driving. I’d own a fancy-pants Madsen cargo bike and all my kids would have expensive bikes too.

But I don’t have that money so I don’t have those options. I needed a car that fit my whole giant family of 6 for a really tiny dollar amount.  It is what it is, man. Why does that make you a better human than me?

 

As I’ve been mulling this over the past week or so, I had a scary thing happen to me yesterday. I was riding home through the city center and noticed a smallish pup running down the street I was biking down. He was running straight towards a very busy through street that feeds onto a highway…..so traffic is usually going along at a nice healthy 50mph clip. I tried to coax him to me but he was skittish and ran. He turned the corner, and a pedestrian was approaching so he did the scariest thing and ran dead into speeding traffic as I watched in helpless horror.

Two small cars barely missed him, but only by the grace of God, as both drivers were not paying attention and one was texting. And then the pup barreled into the path of a giant black Tahoe. And the driver screeched to a stop. And the pup tried to divert his path but ended up running himself into the screeching rear tire. He bowled over, yelped, and then got up and hauled ass down the side street. The Tahoe driver pulled over, obviously shaken. But no one else did. No one else even slowed down.

A man on a bike came tearing around the corner behind me, screaming for his dog and the Tahoe lady and I both yelled at him and pointed out where he could follow his dog, and he took off.  And the Tahoe lady looked at me and looked pretty sad, and got back in her car and got back on her way home.

 

The only obviously nice person there yesterday was the SUV lady.

Maybe most people who drive SUVs are jerks. I don’t know. But I like to think I’m not a total jerk. And I just saw a stranger who very obviously wasn’t one.

So, really…..judging a human being as worthwhile or not based on what you happened to see them get behind the wheel of? I just don’t know about that.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Everyone has their tribe

I've been struggling for the past few months with the internet and dysfunction.

Lot's of people make very compelling arguments for why the internet is, overall, good, but those arguments never sit well in my soul. And I finally figured out why.

Everyone has a tribe on the internet. Everyone can find a group of people who totally, completely accept them....and that's not always a good thing.

The thing is that everyone can find 100 people on the internet to tell them they are awesome. Even when they are doing shitty/dysfunctional/harmful things. There are dozens and dozens of people who will tell you "Don't listen to the haters! You're awesome!", even if the haters are right and you aren't being very awesome.

And humans take that validation and corrupt it to look like fact. "See!? Look at all these people who say I'm awesome and what I'm doing is totally ok!"

The true validation should come in real life. Your family, your close friends, your church, your school.........whatever community truly knows you. That's where we should be getting our validation or, sometimes, it's where we should be called out.

But being convicted is super uncomfortable. Sometimes painful. And it's much easier to retreat to the safe haven of people who only e-know you but will tell you "You're awesome!".

I find all this really depressing. Because the internet takes up more and more of our lives lately and people are having fewer and fewer authentic real-life relationships, at least as far as I can tell (but, you know, there will be 100 people on the internet telling me I'm full of crap so, clearly, they must be right).


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

can we be honest about some things?



My brain has been mulling over something quite a bit over the past few weeks:

Atheists are kind of jerks. 

And,  if I'm being honest, I just say "kind of" to be socially acceptable. Every atheist I know is real life is a jerk regarding their beliefs (or lack there of). They are generally perfectly normal, nice folks in other areas of life.........and huge, huge jerks about believing.

I'd like to have some real talk about this.


My atheist friends are quick to jump into discussions about religion and immediate bash their believer friends. And those discussions typically take one of two turns........the "You're stupid to believe in fairy tales" approach or the wider "Look at all the problems that religion causes!" argument.

Let's start with the later. "Look at all the problems religion causes!"

Here's some real talk: In my day to day life, in my town, in my circle of friends, in the community I participate in every day,  I don't know any abortion clinic bombers. I don't know how any jihadists who have suicide bombed a building.

I do know people who go out of their way to attempt to make me, and other believers, feel badly about themselves. I do know people who regular call others "friend" and then seek to tear them down.

You want to talk about making the world better or worse? Let's be real about it. Let's be honest with what our contributions are to our community on a day to day basis. Because I think we could all agree that America is kind of messed up right now and a huge part of the messed-up-ness we find ourselves in lies in how disassociated we are from one another.

What makes my world worse, real life, day in day out, in my community, in my circle of friends, in my town........is people who find it ok to insult and demean others because of differing beliefs.  What makes my world worse and what demonstrates bad behavior to me is people calling me "friend"...and then seeking to hurt me.

The former argument my atheist friend use...the "You're stupid to believe in fairy tales!" argument... is just a tag-along to this. That argument was only created to tear others down. Because...lets be real... on a day to day basis, how many believers do you know personally who are going around deliberately trying to harm you? And, let's say you know some. Is the best contribution you can make to your community divisiveness? Resistance of compromise and understanding? That's really your best choice? That's really  helping things? What does it matter if someone doesn't believe the exact thing you do? How does it make anything better to take something someone finds very important and scoff and call it mere fairy tales?

At the end of the day, what makes my community worse is more conflict. More unkindness.


And I'm gonna go off on a little tangent here:
When you post your snarky little memes on social media, and you are aware you have believers as friends, you are being a jerk. You are insulting those you call friends. Let's just be honest about it. I don't know if you're trying to pretend your believer friends don't see it or you're falling back on the ol "It's my FB page and I should be allowed to post what I want" line. Either way, insulting your friends and calling them names makes you a jerk. (I mean, unless you have a ton of folks on your FB that you don't really like and don't care about.......but it's still a pretty jerk move to willingly insult your audience).

Anyways........


You want to sit around a belittle others for not doing life exactly like you? That's your best contribution to your community?

There is no "right" side of intolerance. There is no "right" side of hate or spite.

When you seek out to tear others down simply for the sake of doing it, you are part of the problem. And that's a truth for believers and non-believers a like.