But Sometimes I Was Right

It’s over! To close out the A-Z blog challenge, I’d like to offer 26 things that I’ve been right about for a very, very long time.

American cars. I don’t give two hoots about your generic Mercedes or Lexus or BMW. Give me an American muscle car any day of the week. They are way sexier.

Board games. Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, Parcheesi, Mousetrap, Scattergories, Risk, Clue, Mastermind, Taboo, Uno (yes, I know it’s a card game), Othello, Chinese Checkers, Simon, Operation, Yahtzee (yes, I know it’s a dice game), Trouble, Candyland. And don’t forget Hi-Ho Cherry-O!

Carol Channing as the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland. 1985. Look it up. She’s amazing. Continue reading →

Zits

And so we come to the end. The end of April, the end of the blog challenge, the end of the mittens and scarves and pompom hats, at least for a few months. Let’s chat about another end, the end of adolescence. The end of adolescence is supposed to mean that your body has stopped undergoing the changes that were the cause of so much speculation, confusion, and embarrassment. One of those changes was zits. So many baby apple cheeks turn to active volcano fields of pus when hormones start spiking. So many allowances are spent on Proactiv and Stridex.

But not me! I can count the number of teenage zits I had on one hand thanks to some damn fine genetics. I got the worst of my dad’s genetics – the limp hair, the schnozz, the negative 7.5 glasses prescription. But at least I got the good skin too! And so I thought zits would never be an issue for me. Continue reading →

Youth

This post is a bit brief because I have a few longer pieces on youth and aging that I’ve been working on for a while. One of the reasons I joined the A to Z Blog Challenge was to get in the habit of writing daily and stop my editing/perfectionist paralysis. I plan to continue writing daily when this challenge is over, though posting probably only once a week. I think that’s a good balance between this frenetic pace and what I was posting before – which was absolutely nothing because I never felt it was good enough. So look for those pieces, and the several dozen other half finished ones I have on my Box account, during the next few months. Thanks for reading!

Being young is not the best, regardless of the belief of the young girl who flaunts her youth in the face of older women as if it’s something she worked for and will always possess. If high school was the best time of your life, I feel sorry for you. What’s to love about living with your parents and siblings, having to get up for school at 6:30 every day, and having almost no control over your daily responsibilities? Don’t get me wrong – I had plenty of friends and liked high school just fine, but being an adult is way better. I definitely enjoyed my late teens and twenties more than high school, but even so, I was broke most of the time and worked a lot of shitty jobs. I was also insecure about a lot of things, although at the time I thought I had plenty of confidence. Then, in my thirties, I mellowed out personality-wise, started really earning good money in a career I was passionate about, found a solid core of friends, and became involved with someone who I hope to be with for the rest of my life. For the last four years, my life has unequivocally been better than it ever has. Continue reading →

eXpatriation

Yes, I’m aware expatriation doesn’t really begin with X. But what else can I write about for the letter X? I don’t think I had any big misconceptions in my younger years about x-rays, xylophones, or Xerses the Great. I’ve never been xenophobic either, obviously, or I wouldn’t have been an expat for so long. In fact, I love all things foreign – people, food, traditions, geography, climates, history, cultures. Bring them on! When I started travelling, I thought I would never return to the United States. I even contributed several segments to a book on leaving America. There’s just so much to explore and experience that it seems a waste to just sit around the same place all the time. But in some respects, Dorothy was right.

My longest stay in any foreign country was in Russia – I spent one academic year in Volgograd and two in Moscow. We were five foreign teachers at my language school in Russia and I was the only non-Russophile. I chose to teach in Russia because, well, why not? I had taught in Mexico first and then South Korea, so I was looking for some place that would be very different from both of those. Aside from Greenland or Vanuatu, I think Russia was really the best choice. Continue reading →

Working (9 to 5)

For my N post, I had planned to write about normalcy but then ended up going in an entirely different direction, which is OK because today’s post is kind of the same topic. W is for working a 9 to 5, something that in my wannabe-badass, green-haired, tongue-pierced teenage years I swore I would never do. I avoided doing so successfully, except for a few random temp jobs, until I was 31 and had just finished my graduate degree. Then I got a contract job working in HR for Google (I know, not bad, right?!) while I looked for something in my field.

When I started the first week and got home by 5:30, I couldn’t believe how many hours of the day stretched out ahead of me. Six whole hours until I should really get into bed to have a good night’s sleep for the next day. Even if I spent two hours going out to dinner with friends, I still had so much time to read a book, do the laundry, walk the dog, work on some side writing projects, and do whatever else I wanted to. It was great! Continue reading →

Vegetables

My parents were teenagers in the 60s and 70s and parents of young children in the 70s and 80s when microwaved, processed, convenient food was all the rage. I’m not even sure the word “fresh” was in the dictionary back then. So, besides candy, I grew up on a lot of Totino’s, Stouffer’s, Hot Pockets, Hungry Man, Gorton’s…anything you can find in the frozen dinner aisle. Except for iceberg lettuce and the corn on the cob that we bought from the farmers on our street in the summer, vegetables in our house almost exclusive came from cans. Asparagus in my world was those soggy, foul smelling, stringy green lumps that slid out of a Del Monte can. There is absolutely nothing to like about that.

Then I studied in Germany and lived with a host family who, apparently like all Germans, was crazy for white asparagus. We ate it for dinner the first night and many nights thereafter. Since I’m always of the “when in Rome” philosophy when travelling, I wasn’t going to refuse…and it turns out that I wouldn’t have wanted to. It was delicious. True there was some kind of sauce on it, so that helped (cheese on broccoli, anyone?), but the spargel itself was also really tasty. Continue reading →

Underwear

If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve written a few rather disgusting posts for the A to Z blog challenge. You might be afraid this one is too, given the title, but I assure you it’s not.

Because there were five, sometimes six, and sometimes even seven children in my household, my parents were more than happy to send us on a rotating schedule a mile down the street to sleepover at our maternal grandparents’ house. And we were more than happy to take our turns and get away from the herd for a while.

One summer evening, when I was probably 6 or 7 years old, it was my turn to vacate, so I packed up my Lisa Frank backpack with all my favorite woobies and my light cotton summer pajamas with the pastel yellow pants I loved so much and made the long trek over in our Chevy Malibu. I spent a quiet afternoon playing with the same Mr. Potato Head and Pick Up Sticks and ViewMaster that my mother had as a child. Then I had a nice dinner at 4:30 and went to take my bath before the late night TV shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy came on. Continue reading →

Trust

Today’s Topic T is something that I think we’ve all been wrong about at one point or another – who to trust. I can’t speak for men, but for women, or at least myself and every female I’ve ever known, we all fall into the savior/nurse/Cinderella/whateveryouwanttocallit complex sometimes. You know what I’m talking about – the idea that you are the one. You’re going to turn everything around for this person, you are special, you’re the exception, you’re exactly what this person needs and he/she is going to realize it if you just wait around long enough. All the warning signs are there. Your friends try to get you to open your eyes to reality, but you ignore their concerns because they just don’t know this person like you do. You question certain things this person does but always find a way to rationalize them in your own mind so they don’t seem so bad at all. You act a little bit differently around this person, biting your tongue in situations when ordinarily you would say something, but you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

You probably think I’m talking about romantic interests here. I kind of am because that’s generally when this problem occurs, but the specific story I have in mind for myself is not one of romance but rather just a professional tale. Continue reading →

Sunday Paper

S is for Sunday paper, and super short blog post, and sloppy writing. I’m quite pressed for time today, but I’m determined to meet this challenge through to end! I am very glad, though, that there are only seven posts left. This is exhausting!

The Sunday paper was, and probably still is in a lot of households, an important American tradition. I was brought into the tradition very early. I read the comics and played Super Jingo with my dad every week, trying to win a vacation. By the way, does anyone out there know what Super Jingo was? They say you can find anything on the internet, but that doesn’t seem to be true in this case. I looked for a Super Jingo image for quite a while but came up empty. Furthermore, Google searches only show up Buffalo News results – some stories about winners and their cool trips to Orlando and Las Vegas. It is possible that this newspaper contest that I looked forward to, but never won, every week for years and years existed only in Buffalo? Someone please tell me if you know what this is! Continue reading →

Religion

I was very involved with the Christian church when I was a kid. Part of the reason was that I really liked it. Sunday school and other Bible lessons were kind of like regular school in that we were memorizing information and doing activities and having contests about what we knew, and since I liked regular school, it’s logical that I enjoyed Sunday school too. The church I went to also had a lot of fun events geared toward kids – Vacation Bible School, snow camp, and a youth group that met regularly at a private rec center where there was mini golf, rolling skating, a gymnasium, and a pool. There was a no shortage of entertainment, and I had some good friends in the church. But another part of the reason I was so involved is that it was an unwavering part of my microculture. My parents went Sunday morning, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings, so did I too. That’s just how my world was. My parents are firm believers and so much like when they told me the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny were real, when they told me all the information in the Bible was true, I took their word as, well, the gospel truth. It just took me a lot longer to stop believing in Jesus Christ the Savior than in the rest of the mythical creatures. Continue reading →