Saturday, February 28, 2009

The reality of Facebook

Funny, funny stuff.....or it would be, if it weren't so true!

The Boy and a choice

I have to start this post with a shout out to MrG, the man I stood with before God and our families ten years ago and promised to love forever. I meant it then, and I mean it now. If you doubt me for a minute, please click here: For MrG....Every day, you choose to stay. Go ahead. I'll wait.

It amazes me that teenagers, driven by hormones and stupidity, are empowered to make decisions that change their lives forever. Case in point: I met a boy in March of 1985, my senior year in high school. Our attraction to each other was strong and immediate, and we were inseparable until I left for college in the fall.

First stupid mistake - I left for a LOCAL college in the fall. Never mind that I had already been accepted at Texas A&M (three suitable hours away) and would have made my old man proud had I gone to his Alma Mater. I opted, in all my glorious teenage wisdom, to attend North Texas, which was about 45 minutes from my parents, and about 39 minutes from The Boy's house.

We dated throughout my freshman year in high school - he came to town frequently and stayed with me in the dorm (I know, shame on us!), and I came home on the weekends he wasn't there with me. My grades were good and things were going just as I had planned. At the end of my freshman year, my GPA was 3.67. Life was grand and glorious for us, until he decided one day that it wasn't, and then he dumped me cold. Broke my heart into a million little tiny pieces. Here I was 45 long minutes from home, heartbroken and lonely. Boo-effen-hoo. I moved home over the summer and then returned to school and got my first apartment in the fall.

Second stupid mistake - 19 year old girls should NEVER live alone. Be smart. Get a roommate. Better yet, get two or three, and make sure they are good, responsible ones. Pay attention here, LittleG.

My sophomore year was a disaster. I worked a lot and partied a lot and rarely went to class. Much to my father's chagrin, I got a dog. By the end of sophomore year, my GPA had plummeted to a 1.47. You gotta drink a lot of beer and miss a lot of school to drop your GPA that far in just two semesters. Trust me.

Finally, my little sister graduated high school, and she went away to Texas A&M like a happy little Second Generation Aggie should. Thank heavens she let me go with her. I needed a change of pace and a fresh start, so I packed my suitcases and grabbed the dog, and took off to live with my sister.

It took me two years of working my butt off at the local junior college to get my GPA up high enough to get back into the school that by all accounts I should have been graduating from at that point in time.

Texas A&M was good for me. I learned a lot. I made some really nice life-long friends. I finally got my Aggie Ring, then my diploma, then my payment coupons for my student loans. I was ready to head out into the world on my own. Instead, I moved home with my parents and hooked up again pretty fast with The Boy, who by now had been married and divorced and had a young son of his own.

Third stupid mistake - girls, don't do it! The post-breakup relationship is already doomed. It didn't work the first time, and it's not going to work the second time. Especially when there is a child involved!!

The Boy and I hooked up a few times and enjoyed each other's company, which was working pretty well for me. At least it seemed that way, until one night it didn't. That night, I was in line at the movies with my BFF, when I spied a mighty fine pair of Wrangler jeans on a boy with a smokin' bod. It took my mind a few solid minutes to come to grips with the fact that the smokin' bod belonged to The Boy and was now draped around a skanky ho. It hit me at that moment that I was good enough to stay home with, but the skanky ho was the one who was good enough to take out. I never talked to him again after that night.

Broken heart, part 2. You try keeping it together in line for the Pelican Brief, when your first true love is in line 50 feet away from you with another girl.

Thank heavens for
best friends and John Grisham movies. I made it through that evening, somehow, then the days and weeks that followed. I met MrG pretty quickly after the Movie Event That Scarred Me For Life, and the rest, they say, is history.

The Boy and I still live in the same city, about five miles apart. I saw him at the grocery store a couple years ago, toting a tow-headed child down the cereal aisle. If my own child had been behaving like a human, and if I had looked like I had made any effort to dress like a grown up that day, I might have approached him to say hello. But coward that I am, I ducked behind the rotisserie chicken stand and let him drag his kid out of the store without speaking to him.

I accidentally stumbled upon The Boy recently. I was on a high school friend's facebook page, and the page referenced another friend's myspace page. I clicked her myspace page and read several comments that others had written. As social networking tends to go, I was soon clicking into myspace pages of people I had not thought about in years. Some levels of clicking into it, I came across a comment that The Boy had left on the page of a friend of a friend of a friend. I was shocked to see his name so I clicked in to his page for a quick trip down memory lane.

He's still smokin' hot, and now he has the tattoo to prove it. He's married and has a second child, about the same age as LittleG. Must have been the tow-headed kid at the Kroger, but I couldn't say for sure. I was shocked to see that he still has the same job he had when we began dating in the 80s. Points for him for staying with something so long. I think the only way anyone keeps a lifetime job these days is that they've struck the perfect balance between loyalty, good attendance, a strong work ethic and pure dumb luck.

He's a total blue collar guy and lists his hobbies as Harley Davidsons and Heavy Metal. Under his Favorite Books section, he writes "who has time to read?" His prized possession? Not his wife or his kids. Instead, it's his Harley. This, by the way, is not a judgment of people who own Harleys. I'm sure they are lovely motorcycles. They just aren't my cup of tea.

It sends shivers down my spine to think that half a lifetime ago, The Boy was THE ONE for me. How little I knew about him then, and how little I knew about myself, or about the grownup I would become and the life I would have some day.

Really, can you see how things might have been for me? College educated snobby elitist career mom who drives a minivan and never fails to read something for pleasure, every day, married to a lifelong mechanic who loves his motorcycle more than his wife and never picks up a book? For heavens sake, he's a myspacer, and I'm a facebooker. That is Judge Judy just waiting to happen, friends.

I think back now over all the spilled tears and the hours I wasted pining away for The Boy when he was never meant for me. He was teenage folly, pure and simple.

And yet, as a teenager, I made decisions that inexorably changed the path my life would take. I get it that grownups make life altering decisions all the time. But a teenage kid? Holy Mother of Pearl!

I chose a lousy college, then almost trashed my academic career when things didn't go my way. How different would life have been for me if I'd followed the original plan and started at A&M like I should have? I know for certain that my relationship with my father would have been different. My student loan balance would have been lower, and I would have drowned a lot fewer brain cells.

I would not have wasted money on classes I didn't attend or paid rent for an apartment where I didn't really live. Don't get me wrong - my stuff was there, and I slept there more often than not, but it never felt like home for me.

I might not have engaged in really risky alcohol and stupidity fueled behaviors. I might have eaten right and gotten enough rest. I might have been smart enough not to got behind the wheel of a car when I had no business doing so. I probably still would have run around with bad boys - some habits are just hard to break.

All of this, in the name of a relationship that was never meant to be.

Perhaps, though, had I made different decisions, then my life after college would have gone in another direction. I might have missed MrG entirely. And missing MrG would mean missing LittleG. And that's just not acceptable.

I am thankful, overall, l when I look back at the choices that I made. I never hurt myself or others. I got some bumps and bruises and learned some really hard lessons. I paid off my student loans, found a job that fulfills me professionally and personally, and eventually met and fell in love with a really great guy. We have a beautiful daughter, a mortgage, and a minivan. Nary a Harley Davidson in sight.

Eventually, LittleG will be a teenager and then a young adult. And it scares me to death that she, too, will have the wherewithal to make life changing decisions, without having the wisdom to do so smartly. I hope someday that the universe intervenes in her life like it did in mine. Because sometimes it's the wishes that didn't come true that really matter.

Friday, February 27, 2009

An open letter to the Pope

Dear Pope Benedict,

I'm writing today to ask you to reconsider the rules about eating fish on holy days and Fridays during Lent. I appreciate that giving up red meat on those days is supposed to be a sacrifice.

That is totally lost on my family.

When I told LittleG this morning that we would be having shrimp for dinner tonight, she ran through the house yelling "Strimp for dinner!! Yay, strimp!!!!"

What should be a sacrifice turns out to be a treat here at Casa Garcia. You think next year you could assign something like broccoli or asparagus?

Lady Steele

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Of course it's in the high 80s today

It's 86 degrees in my part of the state today. This morning's low was 5 degrees higher than our normal high temperature. And it's February.

But that's ok, campers. It's going to drop 30 degrees tonight, and the high tomorrow will happen shortly after midnight.

When LittleG was just a tiny baby, it snowed here on Valentine's Day. Real snow - inches of it blanketed our landscape and yard. I remember thinking it was a total freak of nature that we would have that much snow so late in the winter.

But no, I think 86 degrees on Thursday, with only 59 degrees on Friday is even freakier. We're a month out from springtime, and we're at almost 90 degrees.

Welcome to Texas, folks. I hope you packed your shorts and your heavy sweaters. You're gonna need 'em both.

Lady Steele's Random thoughts about Ash Wednesday

I went to Ash Wednesday services yesterday at lunchtime at a nearby white bread DFW suburban parish. It was the first time for me to visit this church, but it's convenient to the office, and one of my office BFFs who is a much better Catholic than I was along for the ride. And it was the first time in MANY years I've made it to an Ash Wednesday service.

Several things struck me about my day.

From the outside, this beautiful church looks like a mosque. It has huge golden domes around the spires of the church and looks much more middle eastern than anything in Coppell, TX has a right to look. Is it actually possible to be a lapsed Baptist Catholic Muslim? And if so, does that make me a Labatholim?

LOTS of working class folks made it to this mass. Coppell is near Las Colinas which has a pretty substantial population of office workers, and it's the nearest parish, so by default, that's where we ended up. And there were hundreds of us.

Coppell has LOTS of stay at home moms with little kids. And I think all of them were at the noon mass. At one point, I was so distracted by the noise from the children that I forgot where I was and why I was there. My friend who has an infant daughter said she didn't even hear the kids. Go figure.

I'm pretty sure the Monsignor was Dennis Miller and the Cantor was Barry Manilow. At least is certainly sounded like it over the din of all the little chillin. The church was so big that I couldn't see either one of them, but I'm pretty sure they both represented yesterday.

Regardless of how long it had been for me, the familiar words and intonation of the mass filled me with peace and settled my soul.

I was raised Baptist but am Catholic by choice. After kneeling for way too long, I have determined that parts of me will always be Baptist. Like my thighs and my glutes, who haven't seen that kind of sustained muscle activities for a long dang time. Write your own jokes here, Protestants.

It is absolutely amazing to me that as I listened to the Ash Wednesday mass, Catholics all over the Central time zone were hearing almost the exact same words (except homily) at the exact same time as I was hearing them. Remarkable! Say what you will about individual worship - I'm all about drinking the group koolaid.

If we are to fast with bright shiny faces that give no indication of our sacrifice, give alms without trumpeting our generosity, and pray in secret, then why is it that our foreheads are marked with ashes for all to see? Are we out there, or not? I'm confused.

All told, I'm glad I went yesterday. It was a good reminder to me of why we do what we do, and I am glad I was with my friend. And as always, I was grateful that my friend was with me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

She's Back!

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been one month and nine days since my last blog posting.

Lent is upon us, and as it should be, it is for me a time of reflection. It is at this time each year that I usually find myself pointed back on the path of salvation, or at least in the general vacinity of it.

I am a somewhat lapsed Baptist Catholic. Lapsed may not be the right adjective. Maybe apathetic? Disenfranchised? I'm not sure. Regardless, I find myself fairly unplugged from anything holy most of the time.

Regardless of how long it's been since I've stepped foot inside a house of worship, I usually stick to the traditions of Lent. I fast on holy days, don't eat meat on Fridays, and I always give something up to remind me of the sacrifices made for me.

This year, I'm trying something new. Instead of just giving something up, I am going to ADD something to my life. I am committing right now to blog every day during Lent. I'm not committing to a good blog, but I am committing to living consciously and paying attention for the next 40+ days (Sundays don't count). And that means having the presence of mind to get words inked, every day.

I actually started thinking about this when I clicked into the blog of a friend of a friend. She writes every day about something that she's happy about - her kid, a lovely sunset, the perfect cup of coffee.

I don't think I can aspire to 40 days of bluebirds and butterflies, but I know for sure I can churn out words every day between now and Easter.

My dear friend pointed out that blogging and posting are not necessarily the same thing. You may not get to see all 46 days worth of writing, but know that somewhere on the other side of cyberspace, my written words will be waiting.

So until tomorrow, peace be with you.