March 22, 2011

Last night, something interesting happened. I posted an invitation in my Facebook status asking people to tell me anything they wanted to say to me. A childhood friend that I haven't seen face-to-face in years (since I was 13) sent me a message apologizing for being mean to me in school. The crazy thing is, I don't remember her ever being mean to me.

However, I do remember several other people being mean to me in school. I attended a private church school for several years in a very small town, and most of the people I went to school with were also my neighbors, family, and playmates. (The school had about 30 students ranging across several grades, so we're talking very small.) For some reason, my "friends" often chose me last for games, left me out of their group conversations, or whispered behind my back. Maybe it was that my parents taught at the school and my dad pastored the church, which made me the "teacher's pet". Maybe it was that I wore thick glasses and had unruly hair. Maybe it was that I didn't have nice things or a lick of fashion sense. Maybe it was that I made exceptional grades despite staring out the nearest window half the time. Maybe it was that I was socially awkward from being raised in a home where I was expected to act like an adult all the time and didn't know how to interact properly with my peer group. But the meanness still hurt, and I didn't realize how much it hurt until my friend apologized. What hurts the most is that the people I remember being mean will probably never apologize.

I realize now that this is a bigger issue with me than I previously thought. Now that I'm an adult with my own family and measure of success, I feel relatively accepted and respected by others. However, for years I felt angry at my extended family for their lack of concern and support. Just before my study abroad trip to Japan, a particular aunt asked my father why he was letting me go abroad. I was 22 at the time--hardly a child needing my parents' permission--and I had earned two scholarships that covered all but $1,000 of the $16,000 trip. There was never an offer of congratulations from anyone in my extended family: no phone calls, no cards, nothing. It was pretty much the same story when I graduated from college and when I got married. I once sent $200 to help two children in my family; their mother was in jail and being prosecuted for fraud, and their father (a good man) was ill in the hospital. No one even passed along a thanks. I'm sorry, but I just can't understand how people can act that way. It's unconscionable.

Since all of that, I put it out of my mind and determined to get on with my life. But some pain is still there. Will it ever go away?


March 15, 2011

I remember...trees
Trees a century old, on an ancient hill.

I remember other trees in bloom
And worshipers that lay gazing at the crowded boughs.

I remember city lights and tea bowls
And women in lovely cotton robes...

Mounds of sweet dough rising in the sun,
Gilded temples to honor imagined gods.

I remember people everywhere,
Each one a world unto themselves, yet kind.

I remember all that I left,
And grieve at all that has been lost.

(Final image taken from the Web at

*From September 2004 to July 2005, I lived in Japan as an exchange student. My time there was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The photos that I have posted here today (with the exception of the last) are from my personal collection, and are some of my favorites. Since the recent earthquake and tsunami there, I feel as if I have lost a dear friend. The news makes me weep. My thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people and the friends and teachers I left behind when my visit ended. Thank you for reading.

Grappling with Uncertainty

March 3, 2011

My depression has been bad recently. It has nearly turned me into a person I don't like. I wrote a letter to my friends on Facebook recently, and I made this statement: "I often feel crippled by the uncertainty that comes with meaningful action." It's true.

I recently applied to a community college so I can start taking the prerequisite classes I need for my teaching degree, and the details are killing me. What will I do with William? What if we don't have enough money? What if I end up with no time to write or study? Meanwhile, I'm grappling with feelings of inadequacy when it comes to raising my son, worrying about money, and trying to deal with the constant craziness that is a normal part of my husband's job. It seems so much easier to just spend my days losing myself in pointless political debates and conversations, or to zone out in front of the TV. Meanwhile, my emotional constipation has grown to the point where I'm nearly sobbing at every sad commercial that comes on. I finally realized that all the debating was probably contributing to my anxious state, so, about two days ago, I cut it out of my daily life. I hope the change helps.

This past Sunday, I visited a church for the first time in months. My mom has been talking to me about getting back into church, and I know she's right. Faith has always been a big part of my life. The problem has been finding a church that's right for both me and my family. The way I think about God and church is so different now from what my parents believe. I don't think I would be comfortable going to the types of churches I attended as a child. The church I went to on Sunday had some of the most welcoming people I had ever met, and I want to go back. The service itself is a bit too structured for my taste, but I love the friendly atmosphere. That's most important to me. My mom wasn't thrilled to hear about their particular doctrine, but I loved that, too. I'm hoping I've finally found a place to call home.