Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

When I became pregnant with our second child I was so thrilled. Just as thrilled as I was with the first.

Hard to believe it was twenty years ago.

While pregnancy brings about many things the first on my list was prenatal visits. So an appointment was made with the ob/gyn group down the road from our home.

On one of the first prenatal visits I checked in at front desk. Soon I was escorted to an examining room in the back. I am handed a disposable paper covering for the bottom half of my body. You have to know when it comes to me disrobing in an exam room I take it very seriously. It’s like a game of twenty questions. The nurse normally gets pelted with my inquiries.

Usually goes something like this.

“All of my clothes? Just the top? Bra? Panties? Socks? Headband? Watch? Earrings? Wait! Does a paper gown open to the front or back?? Flimsy disposable paper sheet covering the lap?”

I quickly followed the instructions. Took off clothes and placed the neatly folded clothes on the chair. No one dilly dallies around in those exam rooms. Because anyone could open the door at any moment and catch you partially clad. Or exposed. Doesn’t matter that the doctor and/or nurse is going to soon see every little bit of you.

While waiting for the doctor I sit on the table and get caught up with the celebrity news in the latest “People” magazine. I am making a lot of noise because every time I move an inch the paper liner on the examining table crinkles up, rustles and makes a racket.

I soon realize that I cannot concentrate on the magazine. Or anything else. Because the heater must have been broken. It was absolutely freezing in the room.

The doctor poked his head in and saw that I was turning blue. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but he did get that I was cold. He appeared upset at this.

Said, “Hold on a minute.”

He leaves the room. Two seconds later he returns with his jacket. It was waist length and black leather. He takes it and wraps it around my shoulders.

So, there I am. Sitting on the examining table with nothing on except a black leather biker jacket.

Feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Like I was about to star in a S&M photo shoot.

I honestly didn’t know that to think. Was it kind? Unprofessional? Creepy? Chivalrous? Inappropriate?

I was surprised and didn’t know how to react. This was not in the rule book I learned over the years or in my memory bank. I left feeling confused.

See, him inserting his gloved fingers into my vagina for a pelvic exam was okay and appropriate. I knew that would happen and signed up for that. But putting that black leather jacket on my body was not in the pre-approved script.

Did not go home and tell my husband. Or my friends.

Just filed it away in the old gray matter under the indexed tab, “Confused.”

I wouldn’t be the first to file that. Women can experience all sorts of confusion. We are taught to be nice. Think the best of folks. So we question is the boy/man being kind or pushing a boundary? Manipulating or thoughtful? Purposeful touch or an accidental brushing? Surely, he didn’t mean that? Did I somehow lead him to this? Allow this? And on and on.

I did eventually share this anecdote at a party with a couple of lady friends. Not in the vein of my being wounded, scarred or anything. Just adding to a conversation topic that might have included “Bizarre behavior” or “You can’t make this stuff up!” Or maybe even, “Wait, get this! I have an even better one for you!”  Maybe even, “Proceed with caution.”

My husband hears me recounting the experience and looks at me like I have more stories than Walt Disney and says, “What??? That never happened.”

I replied, “Oh, yes, it most definitely happened. I was there.”

The reason I never shared this with him was because, in my mind, it sounded crazy and embarrassing.

I didn’t do anything wrong. Yet I couldn’t rightly say that the doctor did anything wrong either.

I would also later share with my ladies’ bookclub. Again, using it as fodder for interesting, bizarro conversation. Certainly not portraying me as a victimized woman.

It’s not something I really shared with anyone else.

I was a grown woman nearing her thirty-fourth year. Not physically hurt in ANY way. Just want that to be crystal clear. Yet, I still walked out of that office feeling like it was a bit surreal. Embarrassed and confused. Not feeling quite as clean as I was when I arrived. Thinking how on earth did that weird scenario happen. Could I have prevented the cow hide from being draped over my shoulders? Who’d believe that story?

Imagine then how a young girl might feel if someone abused power and violated a different boundary. Hurt her. Who would believe her? Against the word of a possibly upstanding young man? What would she be put through if she actually told her story? Character assassination? Shame? Embarrassment? Confusion? Guilt?

63.3% of sexual assault cases are not reported in the United States. Think about that for a minute. That’s something to really ponder. We don’t even need to wonder why. We know why. And since the thinking caps are on consider this also. One in three girls/women will experience some type of sexual violence in their lifetime. In the United States of America. So take a good look around your neighborhood, classroom, place of employment and home. Then count to three.

My last couple of postings have a recurring theme (girls and women) with some type of vulnerability as the common denominator.

The mindset of our society needs to change. The old, abhorrent way is no longer acceptable.

We certainly don’t need to worry about boys/men and possible false reporting. The boys (if they are white) will be just fine. The percentage of that happening is quite low. Something like 2%.

While actual sexual violence perpetrated against women is disgustingly high. 

Wait. Tell me again. Who do we need to worry about?

How’s this novel idea, though? Instead of worrying about our girls why don’t we focus on properly educating our boys. About boundaries, respect, language and objectification. It will be a struggle since every outlet we (men and women) are exposed to these days seems to support the objectification of women.

Maybe we could make America great again.

My original intention was to keep this short and sweet but it morphed into something else.

I’m glad it did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was recently talking to one of my daughters who is away at university. She mentioned an upcoming party.

So, of course, I don’t stop being a Mom just because she’s away. Feeling like I have to get all of my last minute warnings in- just in case I should expire in the next few hours and the opportunity is lost.

I say, “I know you don’t party but if you did… you remember the rule, right?”

The guessing game begins. Because there are about a million rules we teach our girls. I’ve been doing it for years. Hammering these points home. Over and over again. We do it because we want to protect them. We want them to protect themselves.

She says, “Stay in a group?”

“No, not that one. But yes, please, stay in a group.”

“Watch my drink? Always keep it with me?”, she asks.

I respond, “No, that’s not it. Yes, yes, of course! Watch your drink and keep it with you always!”

It’s not just me. Parents are giving these same warnings to their daughters all over the U.S. I remember reading an article years ago about Christie Brinkley (former wife of Billy Joel) telling her daughter Alexa Ray (who was at or beginning university) to watch her drink so no one puts anything in it. 

My daughter questions, “Don’t walk home at night by myself?”

“Not that! But yes, please do not walk home at night by yourself!”

I just can’t help myself. 

Finally, we “I” get to the point.

“If you drink do not get behind the wheel. Call an Uber.”

She’s like, “Of course, Mom.”

Those are just a few examples of what I have actually shared with my daughters. Over and over again. There are a ton more. As we are all well aware.

The interesting thing is that we only share these warnings with our girls. There is no need to tell these things to our boys.

Why is that?

Okay, maybe just the one, “If you drink do not get behind the wheel. Call an Uber.”

So sad.

I am hoping for change.

 

 

 

 

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I was a young girl. Not a toddler and not yet a teen. Maybe nine or ten years old. Old enough to be out and about with friends. We were always playing outside. No one wanted to be in the house.

On this particular day, I was with a pal named Paula and her sister Kerri. Hanging on the swings at the local park. I suppose it was where everyone in our neighborhood eventually spent some time. There was also a football stadium, tennis courts and basketball court. So in good weather there was always activity. The wind was always blowing around the distant voices of kids you knew.  It was a middle class neighborhood. Usually not a lot of extra coin but not poor. Everyone pretty much felt safe. We all knew each other.

It eventually became time to leave the park. The girls and I were about to cross the parking lot to head home. A car slowly rolls up in the corner of the big parking lot. One male occupant in a Dodge Dart. Don’t ask me the color. It was probably forty-four years ago.

I do, however, remember what color he was. He was white and looked like the mustached and afroed Gabe Kaplan, who starred as Mr. Kotter on “Welcome back, Kotter.” A U.S. television program from the 1970s.

This man starts talking to us and asking us questions. Then the guy pulls out this thing. No, not that thing!

It was a hand grip strengthener. Back then I wouldn’t have known what to call it. This is an exercise tool that one uses to strengthen their grip. You can search google images to see what it looks like.

Continued to ask us questions -like an important survey. I do not remember any of that long ago conversation but the one thing I can still recall is he wanted each of us girls to try the hand gripper. And we did. No harm in that, right? We weren’t afraid. Just a trio of friendly and super helpful kids.

Anyhow, we continue on our way back home. I say goodbye to the girls and then I head toward my house one block away from theirs. Never thinking about anything except it was a very nice time at the park with my friends.

Well, one of the girls mentioned the guy in the car to their mom. Warning signals must have gone off in her head (as they should have in any adult’s head) so she called my mom and the police. We soon got a visit from the police asking me numerous questions about this guy. A description of him and his vehicle.

That was that.

Looking back, I don’t know what this man’s intentions were and one could almost shudder with the thought. After the police interviewed us we came to realize that it was wrong in some way. But we didn’t even know how or why.

We knew he was a stranger. He wasn’t from our neighborhood and yet we still talked to this nice adult. As innocent children might. Even with all the warnings we received about bad guys and strangers.

I guess that was the introduction to our vulnerability. We didn’t even know it.

“You need to be careful.”

 

 

 

 

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Well, hello there! I hope you are all well.

My apologies for being a slug and not writing sooner. Had a very busy summer. Not a moment to think! Don’t get me wrong. It was lovely and fun. Filled with family and friends. As well as new experiences. Just super busy.

I thought when I arrived here (in the U.S.) during the Spring that I would have all the time in the world.

Then I blinked and summer was gone. Just like that. Snap.

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The original plan was to head back to Delhi, India at the end of September, hang out with my husband and begin exploring the country again with my newfound friends.

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But we all know about plans. I suppose we need a constant reminder to always view them as fluid. And go with the flow.

We are happily repatriating after seven years of overseas living.

Do I wish I had more time in India? Yes, I do. I swear a person could spend a lifetime in India and not fully see or appreciate that amazing country. So diverse. Language, terrain, people, food, climate and especially the colors!

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Some folks complain about moving. I get it. Each person and circumstance is different.

Fortunately, I am not one of them. I view our past moves as experiences that continually added depth and a ton of beautiful people to our lives.

I counted thirteen moves in our nearly thirty-two years of marriage. No, of course it’s not always Skittles and beer. Each and every move created indelible memories. Some happy and some sad. Leaving beloved family and friends. The excitement of exploring new places. A clean slate. Missing important family occasions. Adding new friends to the list. Losing people along the way.

Knowing that each move means you’re a little bit older and so is the generation before you. Everything changes and time does not stand still. At all.

I still do not have any regrets or complaints. Not even sure if this is our last move!

Below was the view from our balcony. Enjoying the calm before the packers got busy.

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nextdoor

This last move was going according to plan. The fellas are punctual and ready to get cracking. I oversee the operation. Like they needed my assistance. 🙂

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At the end of this first day we are at the hotel. My husband is visiting with a friend by the pool and telephones me. He is cheerful and says, “Come join us.”

I replied, “Be down in a jiff.”

Two minutes later, I am heading down the stairs and my mobile rings again. I was thinking, “Why on earth is he calling me again? I’m on my way already.”

I could tell something was wrong by the way he said my name. It was. He just got word that his mother had died in Syria. 😦 I think losing your mom has got to be one of the saddest things. Like it’s your mom. The only one you ever get.

That was a Tuesday and we were leaving India on Saturday in the wee hours. Honestly? This move, in a weird way, provided a huge distraction during a very sad time. Because we were in the midst of decisions and a constant state of busyness we were able to get through each day of this week without despair.

So this particular move will always be associated with the death of my mother-in-law. His mom, a beloved grandmother, mother-in-law and someone who has been a part of my own life history for more than thirty years. Still seems a bit surreal. I thought she was going to live forever.

But like all of our moves it is never about just one thing or feeling. There is now also some excitement. Starting a new chapter in my home state. We haven’t lived here since we left in 1994! So while it’s still familiar it has been awhile since we permanently hung our hats here. A lot has changed but it feels like we have sort of come full circle.

We are enjoying this transition back to the U.S. and enjoying the great (and clean) outdoors. Our air shipment (14 moving boxes-clothes, linens and personal items) arrived last Monday. The sea shipment (furniture and rest of it) will follow in the middle of November. I don’t care too much about “things” but I will be glad to have our photo albums, framed pics, art, personal papers and family history back with us.

I feel so very fortunate. It’s like my being has absorbed all of the people and experiences on this twenty-four year journey through Texas, California, Malaysia and India. So that I can always carry these people and places with me. Ensuring that I will never forget any of them.

So that’s my news. This is where I am. You are officially updated.

I look forward to working on this blog with more frequency. Lots of writing to be done.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

 

 

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There are a few issues in the U.S. that need addressing.

We need to start respectful, serious discussions.

Mass shootings in America has totally gotten out of control. I think we can all agree on that. What we cannot agree on is how to fix it. Or prevent it.

There is always someone who will say loads of people die from drugs, alchohol or car accidents. Should we ban driving? Again with the Prohibition?

Someone actually did say this.

No. But as a nation if we can keep improving why wouldn’t we try?  In many ways we have shown so much progress.

Our children are strapped in secure car seats. Probably saved a few lives. While biking we have our kids wear helmets. I am sure that prevented a head injury or two. We still have cars but almost every American buckles up once they are behind the wheel. Think that kept a body or three protected. Cars are now outfitted with air bags. I can tell you that helped me when I was in a head on collision many years ago.

The age to use/buy alcohol was changed and while young folks can/will still find a way to drink it might just have decreased the rates of alcohol related accidents/deaths and early addiction for some.

So why, when it comes to our children being safe while learning their ABCs or attending a concert, would we not want to look at any/every possible way to keep them secure? Have safety measures in place?

I feel like it’s closing in on us.

Long time followers of this blog will remember that my niece and nephew lived in the next town over from Newtown when that horror took place. Neighboring schools went into lockdown mode. My nephew was under the desk and couldn’t understand why his teacher was yelling. My niece was sent into the cubbie with the teacher pretending it was a game.

That was right before Christmas. Next town over but it effected everyone in the area. My brother and his wife were sick about it. Could hardly talk about it. Who wouldn’t be sick about it? I just can’t imagine the pain of a parent losing their baby like that. The fear those children must have experienced.

Not too long ago there was a terrible shooting in Las Vegas. Wasn’t in a school but during an outdoor concert. A young girl, whose mother worked in the office at my daughter’s California school, was shot in the head that day. A guy who attended high school with my friend Karla was killed.

Something has to be done. A lot has to be done. And maybe both sides of this debate can make the decision to move a bit closer to ensuring the safety of our children.

They can be the future.

If they’re safe.

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I loved the parables of Jesus when I was a little kid. Whether it was the nuns sharing with us or curled up with the glossy covered kid’s books reading on our own time.

My husband also heard parables or stories when he was a child but they were not about Jesus. They were about the Prophet Mohammad.

Same appeal.

He loved the childhood stories just as much as I did.

There was one he told me that I enjoyed.

The moral of the story, in my husband’s telling, is very important.

Each day a Jewish neighbor deposited trash on Mohammad’s doorstep. And every day Mohammad would pick it up and bring it to the dump.

Every single day.

Then one day Mohammad found that there was no trash on his doorstep.

Wait. What?

No trash?

Should be a good thing.

But it was unusual for this neighbor not to leave trash on the doorstep.

Mohammad went to check on the neighbor and found that he was ill.

This is a very important story. Religion, in my opinion, doesn’t have anything to do with it. That was just my jumping point. This is about the human connection.

Everyone in the neighborhood where I grew up knew everyone else’s business.

Knew when people pulled up their shades in the morning. The school and work schedules. Meal times. When someone had company. Which Mass families attended. When vacations took place. And when the shades went down at night. Usually after the late news or a bit of  The Late Show.

People know these things without realizing. It was just the usual daily routine.

When one of those things didn’t happen, according to the norm, it was a cause for concern. Something just wasn’t right. People checked on each other.

We all live in different neighborhoods and types of communities. Everyone has neighbors. I always say that one doesn’t need to be best friends with their neighbors (that’s a bonus) but we should care about each other.

Each person has a role in building up a strong community. Knowing your neighbors and caring about them can be the very first step.

 

 

 

 

 

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My dogs come to me.

That’s an expression I have used on occasion.  I picked it up from my friend, Mary Ann, years ago.

It’s meant to convey, with a sort of cocky bent, that one doesn’t go chasing after dogs. They should come to you.

When we use the phrase, though, we are not actually referring to dogs.

I think I have had this attitude toward making new friends in Delhi. Waiting for my dogs to come to me. Not really putting much effort into it. Not chasing anyone.

Sure, I sent a few emails to groups, organizations, etc.

When I didn’t receive any replies I just let it go. I’ll be in and out of Delhi so was sort of thinking exactly how much time/energy do I want to sink into this.

A friend, over dinner, said that maybe I just need to put myself out there a bit more.

Absolutely correct.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my own company. I’m so easy going. LOL

But I realized I do want to put energy into bonding with people while I am living here. I was thinking it sure would be nice to explore Delhi with friends.

So, the dinner, where the sage advice was offered, was on a Friday evening. The following day my husband and I were pulling into our neighborhood after running some errands. I spy a woman on the street strolling along with her little girl.

An expat neighbor perhaps?

I wave from the car. She waved back with a quizzical look.

Glance at my husband as I’m heading out of the car, with a determined expression on my face. Think of “I’m going in…” or “Here goes nothing!”

I actually say, “I am going to talk to that woman.”

And talk I did.

She was sooo lovely.

I fell in love with her right away. You know that feeling. When you immediately hit it off with someone.

Yay!!!!

Lives a couple of houses down from us. Works at the Swiss Embassy. Loves living in Delhi. Husband works for the Foreign Service.

But.

She was moving to the USA in two weeks.

Oh, rats! That is some dumb luck. Can’t be investing too much time there.

Anyway, it was nice to chat with her. She took us over to her house. Met her other kids. Asked if we wanted a drink. Very sweet. We declined but visited for just a little bit and then we went home.

Oh, well, I tried.

When we got back to the house my husband couldn’t find my US sim card. Because I had taken off the phone’s protective cover (where my sims roam happily about) so I could charge the phone with his case in the car. He thought it was in his pocket.

Maybe it was dropped while we were at our neighbor’s house.

So, I am in total Nancy Drew mode with eyes glued on the street. Looking for a needle in a haystack. Because those suckers are small. I retrace our steps back to neighbor’s house. Ask one of the kids to bring me to her mother. She is having tea with a woman named Nathalie who was picking up her child. Makes introductions.

I say, “So very sorry to intrude.”

Don’t find the sim card. On my way out of her home husband calls and says he found it. Great. I bid them a fond adieu and head back home.

I never saw the lovely Swiss lady again.

I continued to walk in the park each day for an hour. Got to keep my girlish figure. Or rather to find it again somewhere under the empty nest, smoking cessation, 0 friend list, twenty pound weight gain.

On one of my walks I saw a lady walking towards me. Figured she was an expat. I smile and say hello.

Side note: I had told my friend, Nancy, that I was going to say hi to every single lady/expat in the park as a way of putting myself out there. Just a little human experiment to pass the time. She was like okay, good luck with that.

The woman returns my smile with a cheerful one of her own. And we continue to walk in opposite directions.

A few days later I am huffing and puffing through the park when I see a woman who looks familiar. I think I know her. Can’t place her. Think she was woman I saw during a previous walk in the park.

She is heading toward me and smiles at me. I return the smile and say, “We should be walking together!!!”

The woman stops, does a turnabout, grabs my arm and we are now walking together in the same direction.

As we are walking, she says, “I thought I knew you!”

How does she know me???

She tells me that she remembered me from the day I was looking for the sim card at the Swiss lady’s home.

This was Nathalie!

Anyway, small world. We walked for an hour together. I heard all about her world. And she heard about mine.

She asks if I heard about this organization called Delhi Network. I told her I don’t think I had and I am a pretty good researcher. If I did, maybe the website wasn’t working when I checked.

She used to attend before she started working and said that expats (mostly women) meet each week for a coffee morning at a hotel. Almost in my own backyard. They have lectures, excursions, educational tours, etc.

Nathalie said I should just show up but she would double check which day the coffee was held.

That evening she texted me with the details.

I attended the next coffee, signed up with the group and started making pals. Went on a city tour, wine tasting in the country, frequented bazaars, etc.

I never saw Nathalie again. She was a teacher at the German school. Maybe she even moved by now.

But I might never have met her if I didn’t put myself out there and forced myself to talk to the young mother strolling on the street.

It was just making the effort.

A step in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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