There but for the Grace of God...

June 10, 2010

You Gotta Spend Money to Save Money

The Captain is often exasperated by my insistance that you have to spend money to save money.  This little bit of wisdom usually comes up when I've come across a really great sale and purchased a ridiculous amount of stuff that I probably don't really need.  I walk in the door, triumphant about my shopping prowess, and call out to him:

You won't believe how much money I saved!!

He inevitably cocks his head at me and asks what kind of logic spells savings when I just spent $200.  Of course, I excuse his inability to understand the basic math of shopping.  He is, after all, a Man.  The intricacies of the shopping transactions are clearly beyond his ken.  I actually feel kind of bad for him, knowing he'll never fully experience the exultant feelings generated by  a 50% off rack with an additional discount for red dot items.  I try my best to share the jubilation with him, but, again, his shopping math deficiencies hold back his enthusiasm.  Poor man.

I wonder how he'd react if I started buying coupons on eBay.  Did you know you could do that?  I had no idea, but when I stumbled (and by stumbled, I mean actually meandered my way there as opposed to being led there by across the ads today, I was at first perplexed.  It never occurred to me that people would actually buy coupons in an online auction.  How do they authenticate them?  Is that even legal?  It must be.  It still seemed a little wrong to me, until I remembered shopping math.  You gotta spend money to save money, and apparently, sometimes that means buying coupons.  Now, I just have to figure out how to explain it to the Captain.

April 30, 2010


I love winter.  I do.  The muffled atmosphere created by snow piled waist high and the silent descent of big fluffy flakes has a magical quality.

 But come spring, I start to remember how amazing the sounds of nature are.  The birds singing, the tree frogs calling.

And then we have a thunderstorm, with that electric feeling in the air.  The sound of fat drops of rain falling against the roof, the ground.  It's magic in its own way. 

 And I'm loving it. 

I fully recognize that the Beast has nothing really to do with this post, but isn't she cute?!?!

April 21, 2010


Spring has come to the Great White North.  I know it's a little unbelievable the snow is gone and it's only
April, but there it is.  I'm not sure what we did to deserve this gracious turn of weather, but I'm not complaining.  Unless this is the result of the whole climate change fiasco.  Then I just feel a little guilty for enjoying it so much.  But lacking positive proof of that circumstance, I'm going to continue on with my reveling.

Spring is an odd time of year.  The cozy comfort of winter spent swaddled is over, while the crisp green growth of new beginnings are blooming.  It's a wistful season.  A season of uncertainty and possibility.  Planning for summer, but not yet done with the obligations of winter.  Sunshine and wilderness calling to an inner child while the weekly responsibilities of job or school or church hold you back.

This spring is especially fraught with all of that and more for the Captain and me.  We recently found out that we'll be leaving the Great White North, heading east, in the fall.  Such is the Army life, but knowing we have but one more spring and summer here makes the days seem a little more poignant.  Our summer plans are evolving to encompass family we'll see much less often, special getaways to our favorite local haunts and hiking trails, and relishing the moments we have together.  There's a year long deployment waiting on the other side of that move.  It'll be our third.  But for now, today, it's spring, and we're cherishing the possibility of the season.

March 19, 2010


You're so beautiful, you don't have to worry about your figure.

When she said these words to me, what I heard was:

You're fat.

This hit a little hard, because I have been working hard to lose weight and get in shape.  Going to the gym 4-5 days a week.  Working out at home on the off days.  Watching my fat intake.  Counting my calories.  I'm making progress, slowly but surely.  Those ten pound weights are feeling a little lighter.  I'm overcoming my hatred of the elliptical machine.  I'm down two pant sizes.  I'm getting there.  But still, what I heard was:

You're not good enough.

Now, the thing is, she really does think I'm beautiful.  She comes from the Philippines.  A culture that admires fair skin and European features.  She hates that her skin is brown.  That her hair is black.  That she's short.  She referred to her pregnancy as her "ugly time", as her mother before her did, because her skin darkened and her belly enlarged.  The first time we met, she showered me with compliments extolling my light skin, my blue eyes, my red hair.  She has considered cosmetic surgery, skin whitening treatments and hair dye to look more like me.  Not me specifically, but the standard I represent.

In her culture, the women greatly out number the men.  The men are not faithful.  Women there are obsessed with staying thin and looking young, because they fear that any imperfection will send their men scurrying to someone else's bed.  It's not uncommon for men to divorce their wives because they gain too much weight, and once divorced, their chances of finding another partner are slim, because men there won't consider marrying a woman who has children.

She's married to an American man now.  A military man.  He adores her.  He loves her for her differences.  Her dark almond eyes.  Her gentle nature.  But still, she clings to the fears of her culture.  She wears a size 3, but longs for the days she wore a 0.  She has lustrous long black hair, but believes that blonde hair would be beautiful, once she gets her skin light enough, that is.

Her notion of beauty is so far removed from the reality of herself that she'll never attain it.  My heart breaks for her a little, because she is truly beautiful and can't see it.  But I wonder at times:

Am I any different? 

To her my red hair and fair skin define my beauty.  My weight has no meaning in the beauty equation.  Fat or thin or somewhere in between, I will always be beautiful.  To me, weight is the deciding factor in the equation.  I berate myself because I'm not a size 3, let alone a 0.  I see women in advertisements and magazines who are thin and sexy and think:

I'll never be beautiful like that. 

We make quite the pair, she and I.  Neither of us able to fully recognize the beauty in ourselves, but instead spending too much time thinking of ways to change ourselves to match our idea of beauty.

Here's the part that I keep getting hung up on, though.  I know, as in believe with my whole heart, that she sees me and sees beauty, even if I can't see it.  I know that when I look at her, I see beauty, even though she doesn't recognize it in herself.  So here's my new plan.  I'm going to trust my friend.  I'm going to believe her when she tells me I'm beautiful.  I'm going to embrace the things that make me beautiful in her eyes, and it's going to be good enough.  Because the next time she says:

You're so beautiful, you don't have to worry about your figure.

I only want to hear:

You're beautiful. 

March 15, 2010

The Works

When I was in the 6th grade or so there were two boys I spent part of a summer playing with.  We were friends when they weren't accusing me of stuffing my bra or snapping said bra strap.  Their names were John and Eric.  John was just a little guy.  Small and wiry.  In fact, in later years we called him Little John, in direct comparison to Jon, who was not little.  Eric was an average kid.  A bit on the thin side, also wiry.

The thing about John and Eric was that they were just fun to hang out with.  A more mischievous combination I've rarely encountered.  We did boy things, like throw a football around and tell fart jokes.  Now don't take this to mean I was a tomboy, because I just wasn't.  What I was was aware of the fact that girlie girls were not respected by the boys.  So, in an effort to avoid that disrespect, I set aside my inherent dislike for dirt and grime.  I stepped out of my comfort zone because playing with the boys was more intriguing than sitting around talking about the boys with my girl friends.  Plus, it was like a reconnaissance mission, which appealed greatly to my curious nature.

On occasion, either John or Eric and I would pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend.  Now by pretend, I mean practice going the motions of forming that kind of attachment.

John:  You wanna go out?

Me:  Uhm, I don't know.

John:  Why not?

Me:  Well, what would we do?

John:  Uhm, hang out and stuff.  Go to the movies.  Maybe I'd get you flowers on Valentine's Day.

Me:  Okay.

These relationships rarely lasted past the end of the week, if that long, but it seemed to work for us, and didn't disrupt our friendships much.  I realize that would come as a surprise to some kids today who take themselves way too seriously at way too young of an age.  Sixth graders today are having sex, but in my day, we weren't interested in those kinds of things.  We were more likely to spend our time thinking up ways to make homemade incendiary devices.  In fact, one of my funnest childhood memories is an afternoon spent making Works bombs in the empty lot next to Eric's house.  I'm not going to describe how to make them, but suffice it to say it was so easy a grade schooler could do it.  Successfully.  While avoiding injury.  We must have blown up a dozen of those things.  And it was awesome!  Until one went a little awry and broke a window in an old garage.

Some neighbor must have heard the crash and come to investigate, unbeknown to us.  Shortly there after a police cruiser came tooling down the street, which sent us running for home.  Now Eric didn't have far to go, but John and I lived on the other side of town, he further than me, so we booked it through back yards all the way to my house, where we crashed under the willow tree in my back yard.  Then we laughed like there was no tomorrow.

John:  You should have seen your face!!

Me:  You should have seen yours!

John:  Do you think Eric made it home before they saw him?

Me:  I hope so.

As it turns out, Eric did make it home.  Unfortunately for him, the neighborhood nark knew who he was and the police made it to his home as well.  Eric was so grounded.  So was John for that matter, once Eric's mom called John's.  I was never found out, though.  My folks were beyond strict and both boys knew that if my mom and dad found out, their month long groundings would likely seem like a slap on the wrist.  The boys shielded me from that.

It wasn't long after that event the Eric's mom transferred him to a private Christian school.  We rarely saw him for the remainder of our school days.  John and I stayed in each others' lives to an extent, as we went to the same church and were involved in youth group and band together, but we weren't close like we had been that summer.  Such is the way of children, who drift in and out of each others' lives.

I'll always remember both of them with a great deal of fondness, though.  Their mischief and fun gave me the opportunity to shake off my naturally reserved nature for a while.  I took life too seriously as a child, always watchful, always preoccupied with looking silly.  I failed to join in the play too many times to count.  But those boys were exhilarating with their sense of freedom and adventure.  They were unfettered in a way I hadn't encountered before, and it made me realize that I wanted to be more like that.  I wanted to let go of my control for a while and see where impulse would lead me.

It's been a lifelong effort to emulate the spirit of those boys.  To learn to live fully in the moment.  I can't say I've always been successful in that effort, but I am getting closer.  Every day a little closer.

February 21, 2010

No Time Like Tomorrow

I have been incredibly remiss in posting new content the past couple of weeks.  I've got a few different things I'm working on, but have been lacking time to polish them up before posting.  What's frustrating is that I would rather be writing than say working.  Or cleaning.  Or doing homework.  But all of these things have been taking precedent.  On the upside, my spring cleaning is about done, save the basement.  Look for new stuff coming in the next few days.  I will finish something this week.

February 5, 2010

Tales of The Captain

Groggily rolling over in my sleep, trying to hold onto the dregs of my latest dream I wake up  to a yelp with my knee in The Captain's butt.

The Captain, voice filled with dismay:  You kneed me!  Why did you knee me?

Me:  Whaaa?

The Captain:  Jess, you just kneed me in the ass, full force!  It hurt like hell!

Me:  I did what?

The Captain:  You slammed.  Your knee.  Into my ass.

Me:  *coming awake and registering what he's actually saying*  Long pause, then....  Bwuuahhhahahahaha!

The Captain, huffily:  Stop laughing.  It's not funny.

Me:  Oooooh hohohohoho!  EEeehehehehe!

The Captain, testily:  Shut up.  It's not funny.  It hurts.

Me:  Okay, I'm sorry.  *snort, giggle, giggle*  I'll stop.  *face in pillow, deep breaths*

The Captain:  Thank God I wasn't facing the other way.

Long pause...

Me:  Bwuuahhahahahaa!