Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Well, that was awkward...

We've all had those awkward moments. Moments in life we find ourselves caught in the headlights; having the wind knocked out of you. It could be from something you hear, or something you see. Usually these moments are ones we can all do without.

I remember one awkward moment from my childhood in particular. I remember sitting in the parlor of my mother's home in the Azores. We had just arrived, and my mother's aunts, God bless their souls (they are no longer with us), were all gathered there visiting. My mother's aunt, was sitting there happily reading a letter out loud. It was a letter written by her daughter and she could not hide her excitement. We had brought this letter with us from the States, and my mother's cousin had come over to bring it with us, but I don't think it was her intention to have her mother read it out loud in my mother's home. Tia Ana was so happy to read this letter, and she apparently wanted everyone in attendance to hear it. Fortunately, my mother was busy in the kitchen and did not overhear the contents of this letter. Tia Ana happily read the following out loud: (translated in English):

"That silly Ana (my mother) did not have room in her luggage to send the gifts I had bought for you. Perhaps if she didn't pack so many shoes there would be room for the gifts I wanted to send to you. She is so stupid."

Tia Ana just continued reading away and didn't even bother to stop. The other aunts in the room all looked in my direction. I wish I could say there was some awkward silence involved, but there wasn't. Tia Ana must not have realized what she just said, or may be she pretended not to. I just know that I pretended I didn't understand. Okay, it was no secret that my mother liked to dress well. I didn't bother telling my mother, mainly because I knew it would only cause unneeded drama, but I remember my face turning a little red, and I remember giggling away from the room.

Pretending awkwardness never happens works, sometimes.

I think the worse awkward moment was the day I caught someone, an old family friend, go through my purse. What does one do in such a situation? I whisked away as fast as could hoping I would go unnoticed. I thought some situations are easier to deal with when you pretend not to notice. I found myself pacing in the bathroom pondering what to do. I thought of my options. Approaching the subject, and asking the subject what the heck she was doing in my purse would more than likely cause a very uncomfortable/defensive environment. Should I just let it slide? I asked the house. It was an old house, with what I thought had a lot of spirit, and a lot of wisdom. I wondered what my dad would do. After being in the bathroom for at least ten minutes, I decided that it would be easier to all involved to just let it slide. I let this person off the hook, but apparently, I can't honestly say I've let it go yet. The rest of her visit, which was only a few days longer was hard. I did my best to laugh it all off, and try and get past it. But it honestly bothered me. What was she looking for that she couldn't ask me personally? Did she need lip balm? A tampon? What? Was she looking to see if I worked for the FBI? Did she need my passport? Honestly! I didn't notice anything missing from my purse-at least anything I noticed was missing. I just think she knows that I know. Yes, I know what you did that summer, and that just wasn't cool.

Awkwardness. Is that even a word?

I could go on about a number of other awkward moments, but I'm afraid it might just get me in trouble.

But here are few personal, somewhat awkward ones:

Being in the drive-thru with my kids and the Burger King, in front of an unlocked bathroom: A unassuming man opens the door wide open, and there is this guy sitting on the john with his boxers down at his knees staring at our direction in shock...

Walking into a bedroom and catching sight of an older man in his boxers in the middle of getting dressed. This guy actually had knee high socks complete with garter belts.

Being at a family wedding, chatting away with cousins in the bathroom, when in comes a person in a full tux. I tried to alert my cousin, but I was too late. "Sorry sir, but this is the women's bathroom!" "I am a woman!"

Sitting in church pretending not to hear the stomach sounds coming out of the older man sitting next to you.

Talking to a someone, and end up staring at the piece of spinach stuck on their front teeth.

Talking to someone and pretending not to notice the booger hanging at the end of their nose.

Pretending not to notice that your boss has a huge red leakage stain on the back of her dress. (I was afraid of that woman. I didn't know how to tell her.)

Pretending not to notice your significant other just farted in public.

In a intoxicated moment having someone confess to you that they've had a crush on you for years, but never had the courage to tell you.

(What do you say after that??)

Having an undergarment slip off from under you, and finding yourself kick it to the side.

Discovering that the friends with kids who came to visit left stains on your couch pillows, and the parents hid them by turning them over, thinking you wouldn't notice.

Learning that your child really did need to use the bathroom, and pretending not to notice that big puddle in front of the Pinocchio ride at Disneyland.

Being asked by your ex-mother-inlaw who is ill, why you and her son are no longer together.

Pretending you don't know someone anymore, because doing so would only make for an awkward situation.

Feel free to share your own.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cocktails and Dreams

The other day, while driving around town, doing my errands, I noticed a sign on the side of a bar. It read, "Cocktails and Dreams" and it made me laugh out loud. From where this bar was, in the middle of a strip mall nudged between a Taco Bell and a Dry Cleaners, it was hardly the place a person would be looking to capture some "dreams" perhaps a drink, but dreams?

As I laughed and drove away, I began to wonder about my own dreams. Most of the dreams I had in high school have faded into reality, and only thought of occasionally if ever at all. My priorities in life changed. As I grew up I realized that most of the dreams I had were more impossible than approachable. Or are they? Why must I wonder? May be I should take the sign's suggestion and drink more. I mean, really? Are things more "possible" when your thoughts are altered? Is being too logical and sensible the main cause of defeat?

Remember when you were younger, and nothing seemed impossible? Sure, you "thought" you knew "everything" about life, and you were so convinced that your parents and most grown ups where so clueless and so boring that there was no way in hell you would end up like them. Then you found yourself suddenly thrown in the adult world of reality. You suddenly have rent or a mortgage to pay, and you had to be responsible. Then, you have kids. Okay, game over! It's no longer about you--it's about them.

I remember getting married at a very young age, and for most people I knew, they thought we were both crazy. Sure, I was still going to community college, and my husband had no college education whatsoever, and sure, his command of the English language was a little limited, but that didn't stop us. We worked, we bought a house and we had jobs, and did pretty well considering. While my friends from school, who just got out of college were struggling, we were making mortgage payments, having kids and traveling. We didn't have a perfect life by no means, but we loved each other, and we weren't afraid.

I was always the designated driver. I didn't drink, and now, when I look back sometimes, I think I should have been doing most of the drinking. I did let him leave to pursue his dreams though. Did I really have a choice? You can't make people change their dreams--especially if you don't belong in them. It doesn't matter how warped or wrong you may think of another's "dream" - they are still going to pursue them, no matter how many people it hurts along the way. Sometimes it feels "safer" to not dream at all. It was a mutual parting of ways. And I think that was the best decision we both made, but I can only speak for myself. My dreams are still in drive. I'm still working on them, and I don't think I'll be done anytime soon, but it's work in progress. My dream box has no reverse gear.

Cocktails and dreams? It's a lie. It's just an illusion. It's the "afraid" part that will always get you. Afraid of failure; afraid to be alone...afraid of old age, sickness...death. Time to live is now. Live your dream. You don't have to be famous, nor do you have to do something the world will love you for, and don't do something that is expected of you. Do something that means something to yourself because that is all that matters. I'm not writing this to counsel anyone; just myself, but if it inspires you, I'll take it as a compliment. I raise my glass you! Cocktails and dreams..

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A New Dress Deserves A New Bow!

Easter is upon us, and I'm sitting here thinking of Easters of my childhood. Most Easters involved my mother making new Easter dresses for me and my sister. Of course the dresses had to be matching, and made of the same material. Sometimes, mother would change things a bit and coordinate with different colors. Sometimes one dress was light blue, and the other one was pink. I would usually get the pink one because I was younger, and I had "big rosy cheeks". Sometimes the style of the dress would be a little different, but it would definitely be of the same material. If there was any left over lace or ribbon, she would make a big huge matching ribbon for our hair.

"A new dress deserves a new bow!" my mother would exclaim.

I would be lying to you if I told you that I enjoyed wearing these creations of polyester and cotton. I hated it. Not only were the dresses uncomfortable and scratchy, it made the whole Easter and church ritual something I didn't look forward to. I was jealous of the other girls my age who went to church in jeans and casual clothing. I felt like my dresses only brought on unwanted attention, especially on Sundays when we arrived late (which was quite often). It's not everyday you see two chubby sisters enter a church in matching dresses and matching enormous bows on the top their heads. I felt ridiculous and juvenile. The ruffles on my dress made me feel like "George Washington". Or the checkers on my polyester pants made me feel like, "Chubby Checker". I could feel the stares behind the big pink bow piercing into the scalp of my big rosy cheeked, chubby head. I would complain to my mother and tell her that I didn't like the way everyone would look at me at church. My mother's reply would always be:

"Oh Julie, they are only looking at you because you look so pretty."

I didn't believe her.

One day, years later, a stranger came up to my cash register at work. I was newly divorced, working two jobs, and feeling pretty exhausted at the end of a 12 hour work day, when a woman came up to my register. As I was ringing up her purchase, she told me that she still remembered me from church. I looked up at her suddenly to see if I knew her, but I didn't recognize her as someone I remembered. She was at least 10 or 15 years older than me, but I grew up in a fairly small town where everyone looked somewhat familiar.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes, I sure do remember you. You and your sister always looked so pretty at church. I remember seeing the both of you and your family sitting together every Sunday."

I guess mom was right.

Still, I promised myself I would never have any of my offspring go through such an ordeal. My daughter has no need to worry for unlike my mother I have no talent when it comes to being a seamstress. I did try. I bought a sewing machine and made a futile attempt on a dress for myself. I purposively went into the fabric store and bought the most simplest pattern and style dress I could find. As I entered the store, I was flooded by childhood memories. The aisles of Harts Fabrics, where I would run through the aisles as a child, through what seemed to be hundreds upon hundreds of different colored fabrics. It was a playground of bright colors, patterns, and textures. Books and upon books of different patterns, and the buttons! My favorite part of picking the material of a dress were the buttons. Hundreds of different buttons to select from! I left the fabric store fully inspired and confident that I would create a beautiful dress! Apparently the dress pattern however was not simple enough.

My dress came out crooked. The sewing machine was then put away, and dreams of becoming a seamstress faded into the darkness.