Have you missed me?

diary writing

I want to think that I’ve been missed. I want to suppose someone has wondered why I haven’t posted in a while. I need to believe someone, anyone, has asked himself or herself where I am.

The truth is, I’ve been held hostage. Or more accurately, I’ve held myself hostage. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. Readers who follow my blog can attest to the fact that my going AWAL has become rather habitual; that my rants have become fewer and far between.

But like I said, I’ve been in self imposed captivity.

How? In thinking the only time I can write is when circumstances are right; when all my ducks are in a row; when everything else has been handled. Only then, can I set my imagination free so as to give birth to creativity.

However, I’ve come to realize that I am never going to have enough time. My ducks are never going to be aligned and something will always have to be handled.

That’s life; the way things are. It is not going to change.

So after much pondering, I’ve concluded that if I don’t take action, this blog is going to die. My virtual friends are going to disappear, and if I wait longer, no one is going to wonder where I’ve gone.

Some time ago, I read the following phrase: “A true writer is unable to stop writing. For a true writer, it is easier to stop breathing than to stop writing.” Don’t ask me where I read that. I’m afraid I don’t remember. Nevertheless, the message stayed with me.

I thought of those words today, and while I agree there are times writers are unable to stop writing, I disagree that only those capable of doing so are true writers.

Which leads me to ask myself, am I truly a writer?

This question is what prompted me to think about what direction this blog should take; before it dies; before you forget about me.

And I’ve decided that more than a writer, I am a communicator. It is vital to my existence for me to communicate; to share with others what touches my life. As such, no longer will I wait for the perfect time to crank out what I believe to be a writing piece worth reading. Instead, I am going to communicate more.

At times, it might only be through a photo of something that caught my eye. Or an anecdote of someone or something that infuriated, impressed, or shocked me. Other times, it might simply be a haiku.

I truly hope you will continue to accompany me on this journey. I promise to try and make it an interesting one.

Who calls shotgun?


Does age affect the way we see Valentine’s Day?

Broken heart

Be my valentine!
I heart you!
Be mine!
I love you!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been bombarded greeted by these declarations long before Christmas was over. Establishments, all the way from bookstores to bakeries, have been more than happy to promote the countdown to the most awaited (or dreaded) holiday of the year.

But before any V-day lovers get their knickers in a bunch, know this will not be a rant on the evils doings of Cupid and his arrows. Nor will it be a history lesson on Saint Valentine and his role in this capitalistic venture upcoming holiday.

Rather, this will be a walk down memory lane (it’s been too long since I did one of those) to explore my attitudes and reactions to the “friendship/love” day.

And so it begins…

Age 6
I remember coming home with a self made, decorated envelope stuffed with “valentines.” Cards illustrated with fat cats and the words “You’re Puurfect, Valentine” made me giggle. The fact that so many people wanted me to be their valentine made me feel special and filled me with joy.

Age 10
Valentine cards, some of them still unopened, filled my backpack. Rushing to my room so I could continue reading “Anne of Green Gables,” I spied Nana, standing regally in the middle of the hallway, a stern look on her face. “Bella, unopened Valentine cards show a lack of respect and appreciation to your classmates. March your behind to the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of milk, and let’s read those cards!” I knew better than to protest.

Age 12
At this age, I had discovered that crafting was not only fun, but also a way to bond with friends. Since we considered ourselves too “big” to hand out valentines, we spent this day making beautiful cards out of glossy paper, lace, and glitter. The recipients? Only our very best friends (known nowadays as “besties,” “bae,” or “BFFs.”)

Age 14
Valentine cards were replaced with “candy grams.” For a mere fifty cents (which wasn’t so mere at the time), you could send friends a lollipop in the shape of a heart, accompanied by a message. Many used this method to send anonymous messages to secret crushes. The amount of candy grams received determined a person’s popularity and sadly, also had the power to undermine the self confidence and self esteem of many. At the end of the day, it was easy to see who was well liked and who was “invisible.”

Age 17
Boys had “upped” their game and arrived at school bearing gifts of flowers and heart shaped chocolate boxes. This was also the time when I received a poem from a young man named Eddie, in which he professed his undying love. I wish I could tell you what it said, but I barely skimmed the contents before shoving it into my pocket. Unfortunately, I forgot all about it and it was destroyed when Nana threw my pants in the wash. When Eddie learned of his poem’s demise (yes, I was stupid enough to tell him), he looked at me with contempt and said, “Bella, may your callous disregard for someone else’s feelings result in you never being loved. Really loved. Like I loved you but no longer do.” (Spoken like a true poet.) Eddie, if you’re reading this, please know your hex worked and to this day, I still believe love is an illusion.

Age 20
This Valentine’s Day brought love (and horror) into my life in the form of a phone call. Hearing the words, “I love you. Will you marry me?” induced a panic attack that lasted for days. (Did I mention it was my first proposal and came from an ex boyfriend I hadn’t seen in two years?)

Age 24
Second marriage proposal. This time my reaction was more positive. Although in hindsight, I would have been better served reacting the same way I had to proposal #1.

Early 30’s
Valentine’s Day was no longer a one on one affair. As a single mother, I went from recipient to delegated card buyer, to crafts expert, to writer of cards. I was also a shoulder to cry on when the Daughter didn’t receive a valentine from “the one” and the Son got too many “stupid girly cards” and none that featured Pokemon.

Age 35
Third marriage proposal. This one came from Christopher, one of my pre kindergarten students who, dressed in a long sleeved white shirt and black shorts, dropped down to one knee, and asked for my hand in marriage. To this day, the beautiful little plastic ring he offered me is one of my most valuable possessions.

Late 30’s
Valentine’s Day celebrations are just a hazy memory. I’m only reminded of this holiday’s existence by phone calls from loved ones (young and idealistic family members), eager to scream, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Oh, and by the low hanging “Be Mine” sign at the supermarket that hit me on the head and almost gave me a concussion.

Early 40’s
Valentine’s Day? Really? Are they still celebrating that?
Note to self: Include a reminder on Google calendar for February 15. Must beat to the punch other overworked, disillusioned, and exhausted women over the age of 40 for 50% off Valentine’s Day chocolates. (Remember to wear comfortable shoes since physical altercations are very much a possibility).

Oh, chocolate.
You have the power to remind me why I’m still grateful for this holiday. Thank you for that!

Do you still celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent

Can I interest you in some cheese?

cc licensed flickr photo shared by ulterior epicure

(This blog post is for anyone who would rather walk on glass than have to sit through an evening composed of bad hors d’œuvres and nonsensical conversation composed of crap you could give three rats’ asses about.)

Last night I had to undergo the dreaded visit to the in-laws.

(I’m glad I’m not one of those bloggers who actually counts with the support of extended family because it means I’m actually free to write about this stuff.)

The arrival at the in-laws is marked by the significant other’s mother greeting us at the door, ready to take our coats, and remind us to remove our shoes.

This is followed by significant other’s father ushering us to the living room to where a predictable guest already awaits.

This guest would be none other than the significant other’s “still-a-bachelor-even-though-I’m-way-past-forty” brother who’s happy as a clam that we’ve arrived. This because we can act as an audience for his new house digital picture display.

Without even a glass of alcohol to take the edge off the nightmarish evening that awaits me, I’m asked to witness shot after shot of his new bathroom, new living room, new kitchen and new bed.

By the tenth picture I’m ready for the significant other to light me on fire so I can catapult myself from the third floor terrace in a blazing glory.

However, before I can even hand him the matches, out comes the significant other’s mother with a tray of cheese. Yay!

OMG, have these people never heard of real aperitif and why in all these years have I not understood that the only way I’m ever going to eat anything tasty in their home is if I bring it myself?

“No thank you, I will pass on the cheese.” (Why? Because like I’ve told you for the past nine years, I hate cheese.)

“Would it help if I threw in some crackers?”

“No, I’m still going to pass.”

(Perhaps you might interest the significant other with this type of rat food. He seems to be very fond of it. Perhaps this is also why you continue to serve it year after year.)

At this point, the significant other’s brother pulls me out of my reverie as he tugs on my sleeve to remind me his digital frame is still cranking out pictures.

In the meantime, the significant other’s father looks out the window and then looks at me, almost as if suggesting he would like to join me in the “light myself on fire ceremony” followed by the catapult.

“Did you see this one of the toilet? It’s a great shot, isn’t it?”

I would like a shot of anything now to anesthetize me to this mental anguish but instead, out comes the significant other’s mother bearing gifts of coffee and more cheese. This time true to her word, accompanied by crackers.

This further convinces me that somewhere between the first offer of cheese and the time she went into the kitchen, she lost her ability to comprehend English.

“Did you see this shot of my new bed?”

(God I wish I were in bed. Alone without all this black noise, the cheese tray and the ever-changing digital frame.)

How many pictures did he actually take of his bathroom and why are we looking at them anyway?

“Honey, do you want cheese?” significant other asks with a smirk.

“Do you want me to stab you?” I whisper back. “I’ll give you fifty euros if you smash your brother’s frame.”

“I would have done it for twenty”. “Deal. Now go and put it and us out of this misery.”

Almost as if privy to our whispered conversation, the significant other’s brother turns off the frame and carefully puts it away.

“I guess I’ll put the cheese away if no one’s going to eat it.”

(Again in my head) OMG, are we still talking about the cheese?

The significant other’s father still has that look on his face; almost pleading that we commit the double suicide.

I sadly shake my head from side to side, and take a sip of my tepid coffee.

The cuckoo darts out off the clock and reminds us it is now 8pm.

There is a God.

We make a run for the door and shout, “It was great seeing everybody. See you next year.”

Really? That soon?

As we head into the night, we jointly exhale and walk away as fast as out legs can carry us.

When was the last time you had to endure your in-laws?