Sunday, June 27, 2010

The second time around

When I tell people that I reconciled with my husband following our divorce and that we remarried, the first thing they always want to know is this: Are things better this time? Even though things got off to a rocky start at first, I have to answer with a resounding YES. And, now, on this, our second anniversary, my answer is still YES. We still bicker sometimes. We still occasionally drive each other crazy. We still both want different things from the other -- but accept the person we have. And we still do occasionally just want the other to stay VERY. FAR. AWAY. But my answer is still yes. Yes, things are better this time. Yes, things can improve even after a divorce. And, yes, people given a second chance will often not disappoint.

That is the big thing that I think about a lot. How I gave my husband a second chance. I wasn't so willing to do so at first, because my heart was not in the right place. But looking back, I'm glad I made that choice to give him a second chance. I look at how things might have been for me and my daughter and I am especially grateful that I made that choice. I believe it was the right one to make. And my daughter and I are especially grateful, because we got Jesse because of that choice.

I know a lot of people who think that once you divorce someone, you should NOT go back to them. You should move forward, not backward. But I believe that sometimes, a marriage to someone could be like a "starter marriage." And that by going back to them and giving them another chance, recognizing the mistakes made that led to the divorce and the time away from each other to analyze feelings and reexamine priorities are the building blocks of what could make the marriage work the second time around. I don't agree that when we divorce someone, we should write them out of our lives forever. Well, in SOME cases, that is definitely a smart thing to do. If the divorced spouse is an abusive or violent person, if there is too much danger in staying together or if there is a line crossed that cannot be forgiven, then, yes, I agree that they should be permanently written out of a person's life. But other than know, the heart is very resilient. Love finds a way to make things work. And that's exactly what happened for us. Love found a way.

As I stated, the beginning was a little rocky for us. I made it VERY CLEAR to my husband that we were NOT going to repeat the same mistakes made in our first marriage. This time, things would be different, and we would NOT do a repeat of the way things were with us in our first marriage. I was NOT going to allow him to treat me the way he did the first time, which led to our divorce. As his wife, I demand respect from him. I expect to be treated fairly and to retain my connections with family, even if he didn't like that. I also made it clear that if I ended up making more money than him, he would have to accept that. It's OUR money, anyway. Not mine, not his. It's ALL ours. And that's another thing, too. Everything is not "yours and mine." It's OURS. We're a team, we work together and we share together. We keep no secrets from each other and we are honest with each other about our feelings, even if those feelings hurt. And we talk about things, instead of bottling them up.

It took some time but things HAVE improved for us. In fact, he has spoiled me, and I smile when I think about all that he does for us and our family. He works really hard and he tries to make our lives as comfortable as it can be. I think about all the factors that contributed to our problems before and I am grateful they no longer exist. I am grateful for how things have improved, changed and developed between all of us. Sure he and I are still different -- we're like apples and oranges -- but the common ground we share is what brought us back together. And it's what keeps us together, too.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer vacation starters

Yesterday was the last day of school. Yay! It was also a day we had a baseball game. Unfortunately, we couldn't get to the game. I could not find Jennifer's baseball stuff! It's so weird; her baseball stuff keeps disappearing. I felt stupid not taking her to the game just because we couldn't find her stuff, but I didn't want her to show up without it, either. Believe me, I turned the house upside down trying to find it. I even kept asking Jen where she had her stuff last but she couldn't remember. (Oh, that helps!) What was even more frustrating is that she would not help me look for it after she got home from school. So I just pretty much gave up the search. I guess it wasn't that important to her! Wasn't happy she missed a game, but...there it was.

Also yesterday, I had a bit of a scare. I had the baby with me while running errands and managed to get to the bus stop in time to pick Jennifer up. We sat there for a while and I kept myself occupied with reading the EW. Jesse kept himself occupied by keeping himself occupied. Haha. Anyway, we just sat there waiting for the bus to get there, and it ended up being about 5 minutes late. I watched the doors of that school bus open and children file out, keeping my eyes peeled for Jennifer. One child after another came off that bus and I kept expecting Jennifer to appear. But, she didn't. And the bus doors closed and the bus drove away! My heart froze. I scanned the children again, thinking maybe I missed her. But, she wasn't there! I asked a little girl who knew Jennifer if she had been on the bus and she told me no. ACK! I raced home, my heart pounding in my chest and feeling very scared. Remnants of the story of the disappearance of the Portland boy, Kyron Horman, ran through my mind, mainly because it wasn't discovered he was missing until the stepmother was at the bus stop to pick him up and he never appeared. So I got home, logged on to the computer and emailed hubby, asking him if he'd picked Jennifer up while he was out meeting with his friend. I was barely able to breathe at this point, my hands practically shaking. Finally, he replied that, yes, he did have Jennifer with him. THANK GOD! I was so scared something had happened to her. I politely thanked him for telling me (NOW!), though I was tempted to scream at him, "Don't DO that!" Sheesh. I'm just glad she was okay. I hugged her extra hard when he later brought her home. Now I DEFINITELY need to get a new phone, just so we can text each other faster and know where everybody is at!

Since it's now officially summer vacation, I have been pondering just how to plan it all out. We're DEFINITELY going to have some mornings of sleeping in -- though, in order for me to have time to work on my books, I'll still be getting up early. Except for today. I slept in today. Maybe it was until 6:30, but, hey! That still counts as "sleeping in" for me! It's later than 5 or 5:30, anyway. The kids slept in this morning, too. But we won't be sleeping in ALL summer! No, sir! Just the first week. I'm planning to have Jennifer back on her "summer schedule" just so she won't veg out in front of the computer or TV all summer. I know it's important for children to have structure.

I was reading the papers sent home from Jen's school and comments her teacher made. Her teacher had, in fact, expressed her hope that Jennifer will continue to read books this summer. Well, that's not going to be hard; she DOES love to read! But, I thought, it would be nice if her teacher would be able to see just what kind of progress Jennifer makes with her reading during summer vacation. Eventually, I came up with an idea: Create a reading chart! This way, we could keep track of all the books she reads over the summer and we can show it to her teacher when school starts again. Also, I think maybe a reward system would be a nifty feature for that reading chart. Say, after she reads 20 books, she gets a reward. We have decided that her first reward will be a visit to the Splash! water park. Other rewards could be an ice cream outing, a new book, a new toy, a picnic, etc.

I think this "reading challenge" will be good for her because I have growing concerns about her addiction to computer games and TV. Yes, yes, I know I am partly to blame for that. It is just so hard for me to curb that addiction. I certainly DO NOT want her to end up like her father, spending hours on the computer every day. So I know I need to step in and DO SOMETHING about that. The reading challenge is just one thing I can do. Another is to set a time limit on how much computer time and TV time she can have. I'll need to put my thinking cap on about that one and see what I can do. Really, if it was educational stuff, I wouldn't be bothered by it so much. But it' games (like the one with plant zombies) and kid-friendly sitcoms (though she'll try to watch OTHER, teen-related shows if she could get away with it!). It's something I'll have to work on.

My plans for the summer are not all worked out just yet, but at least we can start it off with some ideas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Barbecue and baseball

Yesterday, Jennifer had a barbecue at her school AND a baseball game. The two events were scheduled right next to each other!

Actually, the game started at about 40 minutes after the barbecue.

I spent all day trying to figure out just HOW we were going to get to both events on time without looking rude for leaving one event early. I couldn't skip the barbecue; I had already told Jennifer's teacher we would be there. And, in fact, I learned about the game being on the same day only AFTER I made the commitment to show up at the barbecue. (Jen has THREE games this week! With no practice in between. I may not be a sports coach or an expert on physical fitness, but that just seems wrong.)

Finally, I decided we would just wing it and see what happened. I hated the idea of leaving early, though. That is just rude. But, hopefully, they would understand.

Before we could head out to the barbecue, however, I had to stop at a neighbor's house to offer an apology about something that happened the day before. Apparently, the neighbor's boys were up to no good while Jennifer was playing there, and Jennifer ended up being a partner in crime. Somehow, I was relieved to learn that this mother also had this particular kind of rule her children must obey, maybe because I didn't want to feel bad about how I don't allow Jennifer to do that kind of thing. Anyway, I apologized to her about that and explained that I had reminded Jennifer NOT to do that and that she also had been disciplined. I also apologized for Jennifer accidentally breaking something and offered to replace it. She was very understanding and thankfully there were no hard feelings. Thank goodness for that! The last thing I want to do is cause hard feelings among my neighbors.

We got to the barbecue okay and it was nice to see Jen's teacher there, along with her baby. We talked briefly. I apologized for having to leave early but she understood. Unfortunately, Jennifer didn't behave very well at the barbecue. She kept whining about how she wanted to run off and play with her friends, and when I took her by the arm, to try to get her attention, she tried to pull away from me. I held onto her arm, which probably made it look to everybody watching like I was shaking her, or something, because she kept pulling away. As we ate, I told her I was NOT happy with her behavior and she should not pull away from me like that when I am holding her arm. She couldn't hear me over the people in the cafeteria so I had to keep repeating things in a loud voice. Maybe some of that came out as yelling, I don't know, because one woman looked at me funny and moved away. (Sigh. I can't hear how loud my voice is! Yet so many people judge me for that and think that I am intentionally yelling at everybody. I can't even know how loud I am supposed to talk when there is too much noise, because I have no way of hearing how loud the freaking noise is!)

After we ate, we had to go. As it was, we got to the baseball game a half our late. I am just glad I had told the coach by email earlier in the day about our other engagement. He wasn't mad we got there late. So Jen played baseball. She hit the ball on the first pitch! I excitedly cheered about that. While we were at the game, I started to talk with one of the moms and somehow or another I let it out how I've been coping with my mother being so ill from cancer and that sometimes I just need to be alone to deal with it. It's very depressing and sometimes it's too hard for me to focus on the writing work or even feel up to getting out of the house or socializing with people. It's gotten to where I cry every day about it. I miss my mother terribly and I just pray to God I get to see her one last time before it's her time to go. She is not doing very well. I saw a recent photo of her and she looked almost like a skeleton. My cousin said she's very emaciated. I have no idea why I opened up to that woman about it. I barely know that woman! But I guess I just needed to talk to someone about it. I just can't talk to my husband about it; he doesn't understand why she's faring so poorly. But, anyway, that's what happened. I don't know. Maybe I needed to explain why I hadn't been at the last game or maybe why I tend to be standoffish or absent sometimes. It's just really hard to cope with this. I try to stay positive and enjoy my children, but the sadness lingers.

Jen's team didn't win yesterday but everybody had a great time. Jesse sure did have fun making me chase him all over the field. He wasn't happy when I had to put him back into the stroller after one particularly long run around said field. After the game, I got the kids ice cream then took them home, read them a story, and got them into bed.

This morning I read in Dear Abby about how this woman complained about her co-worker's daughter showing up at the office every day to join her for lunch. She said she was "tired of it." That really made me angry. I wish I could join my mother for lunch every day. Hell, I wish I could even SEE her every day. Once upon a time, I had been able to, even though my dad got tired of my daily visits. But Mom never did. She always looked forward to me coming over every day. I wish we could go back to doing that. I wish I could see her every day like I used to be able to before.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wait, this ain't California?

Lately, Jennifer has started to take an interest in driving. I have answered her questions about cars and driving where possible and even let her try shifting gears on my car a time or two. However, I have yet to break the news to her that it will be some time until she can actually start learning how to drive.

As I drove her to school this morning (she ended up missing the bus because we had a "shoe crisis"), I started to wonder how old she had to be in order to legally drive with a learner's permit. In California, you can have a learner's permit when you are 15 years old (though I don't know if they've changed that since we left).

As I started to ponder this next dilemma, a scene from the movie Elizabethtown came to mind. It's the scene where Orlando Bloom's character, Drew, is trying to make a case to have his father cremated. At one point, he gets all huffy and says, "And that's the word from California!" What had me break out into hysterics was what came next in that scene. Where he realizes his mistake and says, "Sh*t. OREGON." Everybody laughs and he laughingly adds, "You know, we really are from Oregon."

I was laughing so hard over this because it so applies to us. Sometimes, it's like I forget we are in OREGON, not California, so California laws no longer apply here. It's the Oregon laws we have to think about.

So, I checked this out later in the day, and, yes, she can get a learner's permit when she is 15 years old.

And that's the word from Oregon!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Excerpt from Bringing Up Girls, Dr. James Dobson's opinion of the movie Grease

As we have seen, the popular culture refers to public nudity as "becoming comfortable with your body." Huge numbers of girls have accepted that interpretation and brazenly disrobed for Playboy, for movie producers, for soft-core and hard-core pornographers, and for anyone else who offers to pay them. It is another form of prostitution, of course. Some teenage girls seeking attention receive no compensation in return. In a transmission called "sexting," they send nude or sexually explicit photographs through their cell phones or the Internet to boyfriends, who download the images. The guys can then distribute the pictures widely for decades to come. More than 20 percent of teens have engaged in this activity.Whatever happened to the voice of conscience that told generations of young women that disrobing before strangers was wrong and cheap? It has been perverted by a popular culture that instead condemns modesty and morality, urging girls to get comfortable with nudity.

Everywhere teens turn, they hear versions of the same party line. I am reminded of the enormously successful movie Grease, which subtly helped to weaken what was left of traditional morality. It was released in 1978 but set in the 1950s as a fluffy, glitzy, relatively tame musical about teenage love. The film starred John Travolta as Danny Zuko, a big man on campus who made the girls swoon. Olivia Newton-John played a cute little blonde named Sandy who was a newcomer from Australia. Clearly, she didn't know the ropes. She was a "good girl" who usually dressed in white or pale yellow. Every other girl at Rydell High seemed to be having more fun than she was, and in fact, her new friends were concerned about Sandy's embarrassing innocence. They invited her to a sleepover to toughen her up.

Sandy's virginity was the focal point of the party. When one of the girls, Frenchy, offered to pierce Sandy's ears, another girl handed her a "virginity pin" to penetrate the lobe. Get it? the blood was symbolic of the loss of virtue. The girls introduced Sandy to wine and smoking, which sent her scurrying into the bathroom to throw up. While she was inside, the brashest member of the clique, Rizzo, said, "Little goody two shoes makes me wanna barf." Then she put on a blonde wig and began to sing, mockingly:

Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity.
Won't go to bed till I'm legally wed,
I can't, I'm Sandra Dee.

The lyrics went on to lampoon Sandy's good-girl image. The relationship between Sandy and Danny continued to go sour in the days that followed. He took her to a drive-in movie and gave her his school ring. "That means so much to me," she said. "It means you respect me." Then Zuko made his move. He tried to touch Sandy's breast and then pinned her down on the front seat of his car. Sandy screamed and struggled free, then stumbled from the car. The incident frustrated Zuko and caused a rift between them, after which they drifted apart. Sandy was very confused by what was happening.

Then a drag race was staged at the Los Angeles River, pitting Zuko against his rival. Sandy is seen sitting in the distance and thinking about what had gone wrong in their relationship. Suddenly, it hit her. She realized she was altogether "too good." That led her to sing Rizzo's sleepover song sadly,

Wholesome and pure, of so scared and unsure,
A poor man's Sandra Dee.

The last words of the song are, "Good-bye to Sandra Dee." Remember that Sandy was said to be "lousy with virginity." That was the big problem.

Sandy knew exactly what she had to do. She asked Frenchy to oversee a makeover, and in the next scene a vampish-looking Sandy emerged wearing a leather jacket, skintight leather pants, and spike heels. She saw Zuko and said, "Tell me about it, Stud." They pranced through a dance number at an all-school carnival, at times moving their hips toward each other symbolically to the beat of the music. Then they got into a futuristic car and soared into the clouds while the students at Rydell High danced with glee.

I have described this entertaining movie in detail, not because it is the worst movie that has ever been produced. It is actually rather tame and quite funny. I have singled out Grease because it subtly and convincingly destroys virginity as a virtue. It illustrates precisely the point Shalit and Liebau make in their books. Being "wholesome and pure, oh so scared and unsure" is how girls are told they will feel if they are too virtuous. ... Girls today, like their predecessors, look to Sandy's character as a role model who teaches them why they also need to get rid of their lousy virginity. Today's girls are warned that they'll never get the attention of guys if they continue to look and act like Sandra Dee.

Excerpt from Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson. Copyright 2010 by James C. Dobson. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. The excerpt was taken from the hardcover edition of this book, which was a gift to me. The excerpt is from pages 158-60.

Bringing Up Girls: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Women
by Dr. James Dobson

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Deaf character in One Missed Call: Final

Some time back, one of my sisters texted me about the One Missed Call movie franchise. She told me she was watching the third installment in this Japanese film trilogy and encouraged me to see it, too. I added the movies to my queue on Netflix, along with the American version of One Missed Call, and pretty much forgot about it. Then I recently went over my sister's old blog posts (sorry for falling behind on your blog posts, Sis!) and read about how she thought she had a haunted cell phone, because her phone was going off even while she was charging it, even when it was off, and even when it had no more minutes on it! She talked about how odd this was. I know my own cell phone has acted strangely in the past, but never anything like that! Anyway, it reminded me of the movies, so I moved them up in my queue and recently saw all three of them.

I thought the movies were interesting. The second one was just too confusing. It was like thirty different plots thrown into one movie and all that confusion just didn't make any sense.

Then I watched the third one. Even though many reviewers on Netflix trashed this movie, I thought that, after surviving the madness of what was One Missed Call 2, I could get through this last film in the series. But what especially had me interested was that there is a deaf character in this movie. I wanted to see just what kind of role he played in a movie about a haunted cell phone. (And I must say, it was good to see creepy Mimiko in this movie again. She is just so scary!) Also, one reviewer said that it was nice to see a deaf character in a prominent role, so I was encouraged by this.

So I watched the movie, with extra attention focused on the deaf character (actually, he is a deaf-mute), and I had mixed feelings.

First off, I couldn't tell if the character was using Japanese Sign Language (since this is a Japanese film) or Korean Sign Language. Even though the boy (and actor Jang Geun-seok) is Korean and living in Korea, a little checking confirmed he was using Japanese Sign Language. I still had to wonder: Is there such a thing as Korean Sign Language? There actually is: this link and this link were interesting links to check out about Korean Sign Language. I thought it interesting how the person who wanted to learn about Korean Sign Language (KSL) noted the fact that people all over the world do not sign the same as "we" do. I have noted this in my comparison of British Sign Language (BSL) with American Sign Language (ASL). There is also SEE.

And speaking of, I noticed how some of the JSL signs were similar to their ASL counterparts. Words like "school," "group" and "email" were similar to how they are signed in ASL. All the same, I also noticed how he kept using the same sign for different words. I had to wonder if this is the norm in Japanese Sign Language. It's something to think about.

Finally, even though the actor playing Jinu can hear, I really thought he was deaf in real life. He so acted like a deaf/HOH person would around people, studying their faces closely when reading lips and not reacting to sound like everybody else does. On the first note, I have to add that I kind of thought it was funny how he practically had to strain his neck so that he could lipread Emiri (who kept looking away as she was speaking -- to herself or to him, who knows). I mean, the girl knows he is deaf and most of the time, she DID look at him as she spoke. But it reminded me of how people "talking to me" often turn away as they speak or look down and I have to try to get a view of their face again to continue lipreading them. On that other note, I at first wondered why Jinu reacted to what seemed like noise when he and Emiri are looking for another character. But I noticed how he was the one to turn first and Emiri reacted fearfully like there was something behind them, when there was not. I realized he was just being careful, something a deaf/HOH person would do in that situation. I constantly have to remember to look around and take notice of things since I can't hear footsteps or the breathing of someone behind me so we are told to be careful like that and look around. It's possible Jinu was acting that way as a defensive reaction, just in case there WAS something there behind them.

Finally, at the end of the movie, I was curious about what Jinu means when he tells Emiri "I heard what you said." This is confusing. Did he mean "I heard about" what she said? (This reminds me of the many times friends and classmates have poked fun every time I said "I heard about" after I became deaf, because, um, I wasn't able to hear, so they took the whole "hearing" about something thing literally and teased me about it.) This part of the movie doesn't make sense, especially since Jinu is nowhere near Emiri at that particular point in time he is referring to. He might be referring to some kind of hallucination or something that happened at that time. As far as I know, Emiri was mysteriously transported back to Japan from Korea, and not Jinu. Then again, it could be something lost in translation when the person responsible for making the subtitles tried to match something in English with something signed in Japanese Sign Language.

Overall, though, I was still satisfied with how this deaf character was portrayed. Kudos for including a deaf character in such a major role and kudos to Jang Geun-seok for portraying a deaf character so impressively.