11. Light at the end of a Tunnel

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Aunt Jenny peeked through the door of my room one day, sat me down, and said,

“We need to have a talk.” I tried to imagine what about. I attempted to be on her good side, but I kept messing up the way laundry needed to be done. Maybe I put some bright colors in with the towels again?

She sat next to me to on my bed and looked straight ahead.
“Um, I’m not sure how to do this because I’ve never done this conversation before.”

Okay. Probably not laundry-related.

She took a deep breath and just went for it: “Uncle John and I know that you’re at the age where you will be getting married soon, and boys will be paying attention to you, and they will want to, you know, hug you or hold your hand.” She let the air out and then quickly added, “We would appreciate it if you could tell us when that happens so we could see what kind of a person he is and if he’s from a good family.”

I studied the gray carpet pattern on the floor. Wow. We were so far off from each other. We were definitely not on the same page. We were in completely different chapters. I was in my second relationship at this point, and this one was worse than the first. I had no idea how to end it and who to talk to about it. And if my aunt was struggling bringing up this topic, there was no way I would talk to her about what was really going on.

I was following Uncle John’s lead, thinking that the next step for me was to get married and move on with life. What confused me was that as I was preparing myself for this, and taking steps forward in that direction, the eligible bachelors weren’t even remotely thinking about it! I was being played and I didn’t even know it.

“Well?” Aunt Jenny was speaking to me with an expectant look on her face. Oh. She was waiting for a response from me.

“Ah. Mm-hmm,” I forced my head to move up and down in a nod. “Of course, yeah, I’ll let you two know.”

A look of relief flooded her face and she jumped to her feet. It was almost as if she was expecting me to share something and was dreading it. “Good talk!” She smiled and left my room.

An unraveled piece from the carpet interrupted the pattern I was following. Nothing could last forever, not even heavy string meant to stay in its place. It wanted to get out from its confinement. It didn’t like being in carpet mode. I felt glad for the string. Good for it, it got out. I wanted to get out from my situation.

It seemed that more and more things were going wrong in my life. The more I tried to please people, the more I heard what was wrong with me. Wanted to make more friends and join the choir? Turns out I couldn’t sing, couldn’t carry a tune at all. Wanted to get married? Turns out the boyfriends want girlfriends but don’t want to get married. I wanted some validation for who I was, but I kept receiving what I was not. I was not skinny and fit, I was not eating correctly, I was not working at a neat clean job, I did not have beautiful hair, I did not have a pretty name. But, that’s who I was. So everything was wrong with me?

My regular diet of breadsticks began to include pizza. I discovered the ingredients we used at work for it were things I liked, and if the cheese was crispy enough after baking an extra minute or two, pizza was quite the delicious food! That, coupled with weekend binging on donuts with youth groups from church, began taking a toll on my body. I puffed up and expanded and had a handful to hear from my uncle. “Oh no, you have to lose weight! How are you going to get married? Guys don’t like fat girls! You need to go running!”

The regular pimples teens get wouldn’t be so bad if that’s all it was. My face got such an awful case of acne that I went to the doctor for treatment. It became embarrassing to go anywhere. I would stand in front of the mirror and sob as I plastered makeup all over in an attempt to even out the surface of my cheeks and forehead. The reflection I saw made me upset and angry. The anger came out through furious thoughts of “you’re so ugly” and “you’re so fat” and became a daily habit of negative self-talk.

The doctor’s visit was a sprinkling of salt to the wound. He prescribed a birth-control medication that was supposed to affect my hormone levels and stabilize the acne on my face.

“Here’s a prescription for you. Hopefully it starts working so you might have a chance to come back for the real reason of this medication,” he snickered. He probably thought he was being clever and funny, but that was not how a troubled teen saw it.

It confirmed everything I thought; even a doctor, who’s supposed to see all sorts of nauseating things and get used to it, thought I was too ugly to deserve anything normal.

I tried to focus on church. Maybe God would show me something and I’d feel better about myself. Some friends heard about a prayer service two hours away. It was led by an older gentleman, and was in fact called “Grandpa’s Prayer”. I had the privilege of attending a few times with my sister and some friends. It had a lot of young people who appeared to be on fire about God and life and it was so encouraging to see! But alas, since it was so far away, it wasn’t something I could frequent.

The church I attended had prayer services filled with some older people and with some more senior citizens. I was the odd young duck. It felt too awkward and unnatural. I couldn’t fit in. The youth services were there but I knew the people. They appeared one way in church, and acted another way outside of church. The more “churchy” they seemed to be, the further away from the truth that was. I hung out with them. I attended the parties they had. I was handed water bottles that were filled with vodka.

The attitude was: “How far could people go without getting caught?”

I felt sorry for the parents who naively allowed their home to be used for a “gathering” without being aware of the young people almost dying from alcohol poisoning within those walls. I saw trashed people on Saturday who would put on their Sunday best and sing in choir the following day. The most promiscuously behaved were the ones who could get Oscars for putting on such a show in church and be the best of them all. That was the life. It was a double standard or nothing at all.

I hated the double standard. What kind of a life was that, wasting it away on moments that nobody remembered but then tried to glorify? There was no purpose to it.

There was no purpose at all.

There was no purpose to life.

I sat up.

Linda was sleeping in the bed we shared, but she was a sound sleeper. Regardless, I climbed out from under the blanket and made myself comfortable on the floor to continue my thought process.

I was a terrible burden to Uncle John. He stressed out constantly about my whereabouts. He would call me at random times throughout the day to verify where I was, and if he stopped by the college and couldn’t find my car I would need to draw a diagram of the parking lot to show where I had parked, in order to confirm that I wasn’t out doing stupid things that “youth did these days”. He would have this stress eliminated.

Linda would miss me, but it’s not like she would have a shortage of other sisters to choose from if she needed to talk to somebody.

My numbness turned to something cold. Chilling cold. Goosebumps covered my skin. The problems that I had would go away. The problems I created for others would go away, since I was the main problem.

Several tears slowly rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe it came to this. My thoughts tormented me. It would have been so much better for everybody if I had never been born, but since I was, there was only one option left. I would leave life. How did I not realize this earlier? I should have driven faster on my racing days. Should have been more reckless. Well, at least this way I can make a plan, I can have all the details figured out. I can compare different methods and decide which one to choose. Plus, I can say goodbye.

After turning on the light I took out a spiral bound notebook from my drawer and opened to a blank page. I found a pencil in my bag, decided against it and fished for a pen. With trembling hands I scribbled a goodbye letter to Linda, apologizing for not being the good example of a big sister that I should have been. I looked over the letter and couldn’t even read it because the writing was so sloppy. I steadied my hand and rewrote the letter.

Quietly, I tore it out, folded it neatly, and set it aside. Next was a simple apology letter to Uncle John and Aunt Jenny, for messing up their lives with my unpredictability and for being such a burden. I felt each sibling deserved his or her own individual letter, so I wrote that bunch. They probably had great lives with their new families, and wouldn’t even miss me at all.

Each page was soaking up tears that dripped from my eyes. The ones that fell on ink got smudged. I imagined how dramatic it would have been if the tear splats looked more artistic, like watercolor splashes. It would be such a glamorous declaration of my farewell. Geez, how can I even manage to think of that?

A few more letters addressed to friends made it into the pile. I carefully placed the letters inside the notebook and covered it with a few books. It wouldn’t be beneficial if somebody discovered those letters earlier than necessary.

After that I climbed back into bed.

I didn’t feel rushed.

I felt in control.

9. Pizza! Pizza!

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After looking left and right, and right and left, I pressed on the gas pedal and slowly inched forward onto the road. The streetlights offered a decent amount of brightness. My hands tightly gripped the steering wheel and I gave myself a mental high-five for remembering to check each rearview mirror. Aunt Jenny came to pick me up after work and let me drive home since I needed the practice. The backseat was filled with some of her kids so I put in extra effort to drive carefully.

 

Up ahead a cop car turned onto the road, driving towards me. He blinked his headlights. I straightened in my seat. There were no other cars behind me. Was he signaling at me? A few seconds passed as the distance between our cars closed. He flashed the headlights again. I looked at Aunt Jenny.

 

“Why is that cop flashing his headlights?” I asked nervously.

 

She leaned over to verify my speed limit. “Hmm, everything seems fine. We’re buckled up, you’re driving 25, are your headlights turned on?” I fumbled with the knobs until I found the correct one and switched on the lights. Oops!

 

The cop was flashing his lights for the third time right as my headlights came on. Suspicious at the delay of such a simple task, he turned on the red and blue lights and did a U-turn right behind my car to pull me over. Oh no! I slammed on the brakes and abruptly pulled over to the side. My heart began to race. I watched through the rearview mirror as his door opened and a tall man in a dark police uniform stepped out to walk over to my car.

“Good evening,” the officer greeted me after I finally managed to roll down the window. He had brown hair and appeared friendly. “I noticed some trouble with your headlights so wanted to check everything out. May I see your license and registration please,” he requested.

 

Aunt Jenny quickly gave me the paperwork. With my hand trembling, I handed it over to the officer. He waited. “And your driver’s license?”

 

“I… I’m not 16 yet. I…I don’t have one,” I stammered.

 

“Excuse me? Then why are you driving?” The officer peered into the backseat of the car. “Who’s all this?”

 

“These are my cousins. This is my aunt.” I motioned towards the passenger seat.

 

He looked at me with an exasperated expression. “So. You don’t have your driver’s license. You’re driving with somebody who is not your parent. You have a full car of people, who are kids! Wow. Well, at least show me your learner’s permit.”

 

I gulped. “I’ll have it in a few days. I just started Driver’s Ed and applied for the permit. It’s supposed to arrive in the mail any day now.” I wondered what would happen to me. Can a person get arrested for driving without a license?

 

The officer sighed loudly and looked around as if trying to remember what to do in this type of a situation. I bet he didn’t have a lot of experience with minors driving cars illegally.

 

“What is your name?” he finally asked, after pulling out a tiny notebook from his pocket. “Spell that, please. And your last name? How about the address? What is your aunt’s name? Her address please. You live with your aunt? Where are your parents?”

 

I told him that Dad died a few years ago and that Mom just died a few months ago, so I live with my aunt and uncle. The officer inquired about previous addresses where my family lived.

 

“Oh hold on a moment. Was it the yellow house by the Post Office?” he asked.

 

I nodded. Yikes. Was this guy psychic?

 

He took a deep breath. “I was one of the officers who responded several times to the emergency calls when your dad was being taken to the hospital.” He paused. “What a rough time you had to go through. No. I don’t want to add more problems to your life. Here’s what you’ll do. Get out of the driver’s seat, switch seats with your aunt, and have her drive you home. Don’t drive anymore without a driver’s license. OK? Good luck in life.”

 

And just like that, he shoved the notebook into his pocket and quickly walked away. A shaky sigh of relief escaped from Aunt Jenny’s mouth. We switched seats and drove home.

 

I didn’t enjoy school anymore. I doodled in my notebooks and skipped classes. It wasn’t as glamorous as I had imagined it to be. Sometimes I would skip a class and end up spending time in the library reading or chatting with friends. One time my friend and I had a chance to skip for a whole day, where we got a ride to the mall half an hour away. Now that was exciting. Instead of sitting in class we walked around the stores trying on clothes and eating junk food. After we walked out of one of the stores, my friend did a little victory dance. She showed me the contents of her purse and I saw a cute pink skirt that she had been trying on moments earlier. I stared at her.

“When did you have a chance to go to the register?” This didn’t make sense at all. She grinned. “I didn’t!”

No, this can’t be right. “How is it in your purse?”

She kept smiling.

“Did you steal it?”

She closed her purse and started walking. I caught up to her. “What is wrong with you? Why? Your family is rich! You have enough money!” This was followed by a string of colorful words that are not appropriate to write down.

Our friendship was never the same after that incident, and since she had been my best friend at the time, school became more of a dreary chore.

 

When I was at home, I felt weird. It didn’t feel like the home I had grown up in. It was way too quiet. Most of the siblings were gone. There were no more braiding hair competitions. There were no more chocolate and tea parties. The collective sound of voices of all my siblings was gone. I missed the rambunctious toddlers who ran up and down the stairs and always got in the way. I missed the games of tag we played in our downstairs living room. I closed my eyes and replayed the game in my mind. My heart pounding from running, I’m racing to the laundry or kitchen “safe zone” where I could rest for a minute from the person who was “It”. Catch my breath, and keep going. It was our entertainment. We had fun. The lively squeals and thunderous bumps against the walls from all our games sometimes got us in trouble. Then at other times I was the one annoyed; I needed to do homework and it was too loud.

 

Now at this house, it was a lot quieter; I could do as much homework as I wanted to. I didn’t have to constantly cook or babysit or clean, just keep my room tidy. I didn’t need to help anybody with his or her homework or projects, or sign the take-home sheets from school. Everything that I had done didn’t need to be done by me anymore. Aunt Jenny managed her kids and her kitchen and the rest of the household. I felt utterly useless.

 

My thoughts would drift back to my best memories of Mom. They usually involved something in the kitchen. We sat around the kitchen table and she showed me how to roll up cabbage rolls. I questioned why pieces of butter needed to go between each layer of the cabbage rolls and her answer was “Well, because butter makes everything taste better!” We had dumpling evenings too. For several hours we mixed, cut, and rolled pieces of dough into round flat disks. Then we filled them up with meat and pinched them together into perfect little dumplings. She taught me how to pound chicken with a tenderizer “just-so”, and didn’t get upset when I kept mixing up the order of dipping those chicken pieces into flour and then an egg wash before dropping them onto the skillet.

 

All these memories brought tears and I couldn’t make them stop. I hated it. It made me angry. Why did God allow this to happen? Why couldn’t He take somebody else? Lots of families had two parents; why not take one of them? Why take both my parents? I didn’t like being home because those thoughts usually visited me.

 

Working made me busy enough to not dwell on the sad part of my life. I enjoyed working at the pizza shop. There was an option to have more hours, as long as a legal guardian signed the paper, and my grades at school were acceptable. Sometimes Aunt Jenny gave me a ride, sometimes my grandpa did.

I didn’t like pizza but I learned how to make it like an expert. The challenge was to sauce the pizza, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, apply the toppings in appropriate measurements, sprinkle more cheese on top, and slide it into the oven at record speed with minimal waste. I became familiar with the regular customers who ordered extra cheese pizzas, and with the odd ones who ordered pizza with no cheese at all. There were pizzas with artichokes and pizzas with anchovies.

 

I looked forward to my break when I could get a bag of custom-ordered breadsticks: crunchy, warm, with light garlic butter and heavy sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Since my shift tended to be until closing, the breadsticks dipped into marinara sauce became my regular dinner. If Grandpa picked me up, I would drive home. Exhausted from the long days, I fell asleep quickly at night.

 

This school and work schedule became a stable routine. That is, until I got my driver’s license…

 

 

 

 

 

 

[image above taken from Little Caesar’s website]

8. The Quirky Couple

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Uncle John and Aunt Jenny knew how to have fun. On most weekends, they drove to the local grocery store to stock up on meat, vegetables, drinks, and watermelon. A short drive later the whole family arrived at a park next to the beach. There was a lively debate about which picnic table was best. A colorful plastic table cover was placed on top, the food items arranged, and the grill started. Then relaxing time.

 

This was new to my sisters Linda, Lisa and I, who were now part of their family. We could sit on the grass or bench. We could walk around. We could cross the street and dip our feet in the water. Our mom had almost drowned as a child, so as a result we were kept far away from anything deeper than a bathtub. Here we played volleyball and tossed Frisbees. Eventually the aroma from the grill would call us back to the picnic table, and we enjoyed a delicious, mouth-watering meal.

 

Other days the family went to an aquatic center. It was several hours of good plain fun. The warm pool, the slides, the different depths of water, all of it was fascinating. However, it was a confusing time. Although I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help feeling guilty for having fun. Am I even allowed to enjoy things like this? Is it bad that I’m not thinking of my mom or my dad or my siblings while I’m at the park or at the pool? Does it make me a bad person that I forget about what’s going on in life and just enjoy the thrill of the long slide and the enormous splash? What if my other siblings weren’t having as good experiences as we were in this family? Thoughts such as this dominated my mind.

 

A family friend, Mr. Es, came to visit. It was somebody who grew up with Mom’s family in her village. Mr. Es was a jolly-looking fellow with neatly combed brown hair and kind eyes. He opened his arms and clasped my sister Linda and I in a great big bear hug. He talked quickly, as if he was in a hurry and had to be somewhere else.

 

“Girls, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. I grew up with your mom, and her sisters, and her brothers. We belonged to the same group of friends when we were young!”

 

I didn’t know how to respond appropriately.

“Ah. Interesting!” I really didn’t know this person. Was I supposed to ask some questions about him? Perhaps about the village?

“So, small world, and here you are, right?” Making conversation wasn’t a strong skill for me.

 

Mr. Es didn’t seem to mind. He got to the point quickly.

“Girls, I know nothing will bring your mom back, or make anything better. But I want to try. Can I buy you something? What’s something you always wanted but don’t have?”

 

“Oh, we have everything,” I responded politely.

 

“No, no, no, that’s not what I meant. I know you have everything. I know Uncle John and Aunt Jenny got that covered. I mean something special. A toy? A cool trinket?” He motioned his hands around as if waiting for ideas to come to him. “Is there something your friends have but you don’t?”
We had everything we needed, and being asked on the spot was slightly nerve-wracking.

 

“You have your Mom’s old civic once you get a driver’s license. What about a bike? Or new shoes? How about roller blades? Do you have those?” He was watching our face expressions closely and was able to tell where our reactions gave us away. He got some more practical information and a few days later we received our gifts. I got a brand new pair of roller blades with the rubber wheels, not the cheap plastic ones.

 

On Sundays we piled into the family van and drove to church. This was a different church than where we went with our mom. Girls and women weren’t required to wear the traditional head covers. There were a lot more people. It was exciting. There were lots of guys and girls who made up the youth group.

 

After church the members of the youth group would go eat and hang out. Uncle John was flexible to the point where he allowed me to go with them, as long as Linda was with me. We had to make sure somebody from our neighborhood was also going, because he or she would be our ride back home. Uncle John would verify with the guy or girl, usually guy, to find out where the youth was planning to go, and to make sure we would arrive home by a certain time in the evening. Uncle John was generous, too. He would flash his pearly whites and with a grand gesture he would whip out his wallet. After thumbing through it, he’d pull out a twenty-dollar bill and hand it to me saying, “Here’s money for you and Linda to buy some fancy lunch with your friends. Don’t spend it all in one place!”

 

For some reason it felt so awkward to take money from him. I felt like I owed him the money back. Linda and I would try to make that money last as many Sundays as we could so we wouldn’t have to admit we didn’t have any and then have him give us another twenty. On lucky occasions, some guy from the youth group would pay for our meal. I never could tell whether it was because a guy was trying to impress us, or because he just got a paycheck, or if he was simply being nice. Other times we would eat at the mall where we could get cheap food like McDonalds fries and ice-cream cones, or if we were very hungry, a teriyaki bowl. I didn’t look forward to restaurants, because those were on the pricey side, but when youth went there, Linda and I would split an appetizer. The popular evening place was a donut shop. We could easily spend an entire evening there, eating fresh donut holes or apple fritters.

 

Shortly after this new living arrangement, an interesting pair came to visit us. The duo was tall and thin, and very animated, as if they drank energy drinks instead of water. The blonde woman, Mrs. Tee, was dressed elegantly while Mr. Tee was a dark-haired man who wore a bright polo and shorts. They clarified that this visit was not to become friends with Uncle John or Aunt Jenny, but just to have a chat with Linda and I. In fact, a chat was not enough. How about they take us out to a fancy sit-down restaurant? It took a bit of convincing Uncle John, who finally relented because this couple explained they were just trying to do something nice to some kids who lost their parents.

 

The car ride consisted of small talk and directions to a restaurant. Linda and I kept exchanging glances. We were certainly aware that there were different types of people who had unique ways of responding to others’ problems. Lots of donations had accumulated as a result of mom’s passing. It ended up being distributed in some form or another, mostly going to the family who was building their own house. But what were these people up to? It’s not like we never had a meal outside of the home.

 

As soon as we got seated, the waiter brought the water glasses, and left us with the menus. Mr. Tee was practically bouncing in his seat. He was surely addicted to coffee or something.

“Alright, here we go! Now we can talk. Wait, first decide what you want to order. OK, done?”

Mrs. Tee was evidently less caffeinated, she told Mr. Tee to calm down, to give everybody a minute.

 

I was growing more curious and didn’t want to waste time studying the menu options. I selected the first soup and salad listed while Linda chose an appetizer.

“Wait, girls, that’s it?” Mr. Tee’s eyes widened. “No, that is not enough. Get something more, get a main dish!”

 

I glanced at the prices in that category. No way.

 

“Don’t even worry about the cost! This is our treat to you, get whatever you want!” He must have read my mind. The waiter showed up to take our orders, and as we didn’t add anything to our original choices, Mr. Tee took it upon himself to order the most popular dish for us as well.

 

“Back to our talk. When we heard about what happened to your family, we cleared out our schedule to drive all the way up here.” He looked at me. “Since you’re the oldest, we specifically wanted to talk to you. This affects your sister too, but mostly you.” He directed a glance of acknowledgment towards Linda. “Now, your uncle, does he treat you well?”

 

“Of course!” I nodded, wondering where this was headed.

 

“Yes. Naturally. They just took you in, lots of attention is still focused on them, of course they’ll be doing their best. For now. But listen to me. I need to say some things that nobody will probably ever tell you, but somebody has to.” He leaned forward. Mrs. Tee placed her hand on his arm as if to offer support.

 

What in the world was he going to say? A slight shiver ran down my spine. I leaned back.

 

“Your uncle has his own family. He has a wife and a few kids. All of a sudden, boom, he got a few more kids. They are not his own. He never asked for them. But here you are. Now right now he’s treating you as well as his own kids because everything is fresh. All eyes are on him in this community, in your church. But some time will pass and you will notice he won’t be treating you like this anymore.” He paused for air. “You will notice he’ll be treating his kids better than you. You won’t be able to talk to him like to a dad. You’ll have conflicts. But he won’t be doing this intentionally. He will just default to the natural state of how he was used to doing life, before you all came into his family.”

 

Our waiter arrived with the food. I sat frozen in my position as the plates were being passed around. What was I supposed to do with this information? The feeling of being a burden was a thought that flickered in my mind periodically, which I would push into a corner and forget about. Now it sprang up from the corner and was glaring at me. Great.

 

Mr. Tee took a whiff of his food. “Mmm, absolutely delicious!” he exclaimed. The way he ate his meal was every bit as energetic as his words were.

 

“Now, here’s what you have to do.” I let out a burst of air that I didn’t know I was holding. So there was a solution. “You’ll need to become financially independent. Does your uncle give you money?” I explained about the twenty-dollar bills on Sundays. He tapped his fingers on the table. “And do you feel guilty when you take that money?” I nodded.

“Ah-ha!” Mr. Tee slapped his hand against the table. “There you have it, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. It starts like that, and then you’ll feel how much of a burden you are that you’re living in his house, and that he’s providing all the necessities for you, and the list goes on and on. So, you’ll need to get a job. Get a job, and you’ll have money! This way you won’t have to rely on your uncle to give you money for a snack, you can get it yourself. You can buy clothes, your own cell phone, whatever you want! You can start making your own decisions. Work hard, work as hard as you can, work your way up as far as you can. Become independent!”

 

I nodded. That made sense. I saw Linda finishing her appetizer. I should probably eat some of my soup. It had cooled down, and there wasn’t much taste. I tried the salad. It wasn’t any better. But Mr. and Mrs. Tee were paying for this meal, and it would be rude to leave everything untouched. I managed a few bites. There was some kind of lump in my throat that made it hard for the food to go down. Where was I going to get a job? I couldn’t even drive. Driver’s Education classes were offered at my school, I had just signed up. The only jobs I could think of were the summer jobs at the berry fields at that moment. I tuned back into the conversation. Mr. Tee was chattering about something funny his mother-in-law had done.

 

He managed to finish the story, his meal, and whatever Mrs. Tee left on her plate all at once. He jumped up. “We have one more stop to make before we take you home. In case you ever need money or help, we will always be available, alright?”

 

We stopped by the bank where he opened an account and added my name to it. There was $100 in the account.

 

“If you ever need money, take it. Here’s the little card with all the information on it: the account number, my name, my phone number.” He handed me a small white card with the information written on the back. “When this money runs out, call us, we can deposit some more, you hear?” I nodded. I suspected Uncle John would not be very happy about this bank stop. Mr. Tee again seemed to read my mind. “Don’t you dare tell your aunt or uncle about the bank!” He received a strict glance from his wife. It must have been about his tone, because he continued in a softer manner. “They don’t need to know about this, it won’t hurt them. This is merely something for you and your sister, as a way of us helping you. OK?” I nodded again.

 

They arrived at our house, came in for tea, and Mr. Tee entertained everyone with his peculiar stories until it was time for them to leave.

 

A few days later I was taking care of errands with Grandpa when the words “Accepting Applications” caught my eye. I noticed they belonged to a poster on the window of new construction next to our grocery store. The poster showed a Little Caesar’s Pizza logo and “COMING SOON” in bigger font. I asked Grandpa to stop the car and ventured inside. A worker wearing a white construction cap looked up. I asked how to apply and he pointed to a cardboard box with a stack of empty applications inside. I took it, filled it out, and turned it back in. A few weeks later I got called in for a group interview, and so began my first official job.

6. Apple Pie

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The relatives who were involved in Mom’s well-being and hospital visit were absolutely shocked at this suggestion.

 

“No way!” was their response, Mom’s response, and my translated response. There had to be another test or another doctor who would take a look and determine how to fix the problem without introducing cancer.

 

Mom’s tailbone pain was so extreme she couldn’t walk because the fall threw her hips off balance. A home-based homeopathic doctor corrected and adjusted her hips and promised it was on its way to fully heal. The bruise and pain on her chest wasn’t getting any better and breathing was becoming very difficult. Another appointment was scheduled. This doctor didn’t receive the full story either, so he contacted the first doctor and had the same “cancer” suggestion. One of the uncles flew off his handle.

“How dare you keep saying it’s cancer? Get some doctor in here who knows how to be a doctor and make my sister better!”

 

After more yelling and threatening, security was called and my uncle had to calm down and be escorted out or else he’d get arrested.

 

This experience prompted us to drive a few hours to take mom to an emergency room in a Seattle hospital. Here her case had a team of students who followed the main assigned doctor around and took notes. One set of the aunts and uncles who regularly stayed with us were outraged and had a huge complaint about “student” doctors who didn’t know anything. They demanded professional doctors, not students. As the translator, I reworded the sentences to make them sound slightly more pleasant. Last thing anybody needed was another security officer adventure.

 

To deal with the sterile, antiseptic smell of the hospital room, I wandered around the building until a different scent reached my nostrils. I’d reached the cafeteria. From the limited food options, the apple pie looked most appealing. I ordered a large slice and breathed in the aroma. The taste was absolutely perfect: a delicious combination of a warm, flaky crust, and soft, sweet apples, with just a hint of cinnamon. I enjoyed it immensely and had a few pieces during that stay. That is where I learned what emotional eating was all about.

 

During the night Mom had a terrible breathing attack and a doctor on duty came to help. Since he wasn’t familiar with the case, he decided to check what was causing this shortage of breathing. He inserted a little tube with a light at the end of it, inspected the area, and said that some veins burst. Mom would need a surgery to repair those veins to get the blood flowing normally and to restore the circulation. The surgery couldn’t be done immediately because first, the assigned doctor needed to go through all the paperwork, and next, Mom needed antibiotics for several weeks before she could be ready for the surgery.

 

Mom requested to go home for the antibiotic treatment. We continued to have people visit us who prayed for Mom in hopes of obtaining supernatural healing. Mom read Psalm 121 aloud on a regular basis. The uncle who had the shouting match received a letter from the hospital stating that Mom’s condition was in fact not cancer.

 

For the first time in my life I was allowed to have a party to celebrate my 15th birthday. The planning didn’t take long; I just wanted a cake and some friends over. The night before the party Mom had a breathing attack and was running out of breath. The closest driver was Grandpa, so he took us to the hospital. Mom was given an oxygen mask and we were placed into a room overnight.

 

Instead of feeling bad for Mom, I was feeling sorry for myself. The birthday party was supposed to be my highlight of the year. I collected some tabloid magazines and sat in the sitting area hating my life. In the morning I dialed a few numbers and briskly stated the party was cancelled due to the fact that I was in the hospital with my mother again. I made friends with the apple pies in this cafeteria too. Well, that wouldn’t be correct. If I made friends with them I wouldn’t be eating them, but I did, so technically I just enjoyed how they made me feel. At least I could count on apple pie. The apple pie paired quite nicely with a can of Root Beer. Unfortunately Root Beer was the enemy because it had the word “beer” in its title, and it caused an unnecessarily long fight with an uncle who couldn’t believe I stooped low enough to drink beer.

 

We were released home again. Mom’s immune system kept getting weaker. She was now barely walking holding on to a familiar steel walker, the kind that Dad used to have. A ten second walk from her bedroom to the bathroom began to take several minutes long with assistance from a person or two. Grandma’s cheeks were streaked with tears as she helped mom with a bath. After she was done and Mom was back in her bed, Grandma would let the tears flow freely and say how unfair it is for a mom to watch her child go through this. That it should be the other way around. I agreed with her. But a child watching a mom go through it was unfair even more! I would think, but keep my mouth shut so I wouldn’t get in trouble.

 

Mom’s voice completely disappeared. Her breathing was raspy and she had horrible hacking coughs to a point where she would cough stuff up. I had to make a phone call to the bank about Mom’s account and had problems when it came to the verification problem.

 

“Am I speaking to the account holder?” asked the bank representative.

 

“No, this is her daughter, but she’s right here. She doesn’t speak English very well, plus her voice is broken so I’m calling for her.”

 

“I’m sorry Miss, but I cannot give you the information you’re requesting until I speak to the account holder.”

 

“She’s right here! Let me turn on the speaker.” I moved as close as I could to Mom.

 

Mom was propped up on her bed and tried to speak. “This is Yelena,” she whispered. The bank rep couldn’t hear anything. Mom strained her neck, applied as much effort as she could, and a croak came out. I tried to use that.

 

“You hear that? That was her voice. Can you help me now?”

 

It was useless.

 

Another time Grandma made a thin soup for Mom. It had some rice, potatoes and grated carrots. Grandma left me with the bowl and said to feed Mom.

 

Mom tried to eat a bite, but it was difficult for her throat to swallow anything. She gave up after several attempts.

 

“I can’t do it; I don’t want any,” she whispered in a barely audible tone.

 

“But you have to! Grandma will be mad at me if you don’t eat any!” I tried to persuade Mom to eat a few bites.

 

Mom’s eyes were filled with tears. “I can’t,” she said.

 

Grandma came in to check on us. She didn’t approve the current status.
“What is this? No excuses. Eat,” her disapproving tone demanded obedience. When she needed to be strict, she could manage it in such a way that anybody in her way would drop what they’re doing and follow her orders.

 

Mom looked at me desperately.
“Please eat a few bites for me, honey. Please do it. I cannot. Please,” she begged. I haven’t seen Mom act like that before and it frightened me. I forced a few spoonfuls down, just in time as Grandma came in again. The bowl was wordlessly handed over, and we received a satisfied “Hmph!” in return.

 

Those months were a blur of hospital visits, faith healers, elders, and more scrutiny of our lifestyle than ever. God definitely must be punishing us for something. Obviously Mom must have some hidden sin in her life. Perhaps a mistake must have been in our decision to switch churches. Mom was required to agree going back to the previous church if she got healed. Perhaps a curse was on our family. Was Dad’s mother a witch? Some of these conversations took place inside hospitals, not just at our home. Mom would be so drugged up with morphine that her speech was babble that didn’t make any sense. In between doses when her speech was more coherent, a helpful individual would shower her with these suggestions and questions.

 

The doctors had some bad news for us after some more tests. The surgery couldn’t be done because the antibiotics were administered too late. They should have been done right away when Mom had her accident. Her situation became worse: either the blood was clotting, or something was happening to the veins and they were affecting the lungs, or the lungs themselves were collapsing. To top it all off, she caught the MRSA bug at the hospital and had to be placed into quarantine. One person at a time could come in, only if dressed up in protective clothing and mask. That day she slipped into a coma.

 

The next day, September 11, in my first period class, something strange was happening. The TV was turned on, the students were panicked, the teachers frantically scurried from one classroom to the next. The World Trade Center twin towers had just been attacked. The dreadful anxiety I was feeling because of Mom’s coma didn’t have to be hidden. It was a relief to let it out and cry with the rest of the students.

5. The Dollar Store

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It was a time of many firsts.

 

The first time we went to the beach as a family: one picnic table, one loaf of sliced rye bread, two round containers of salami, and a carton of Capri Sun juices.

 

The first time we got Christmas presents: each child wrote a wish list and Salvation Army delivered.

 

The first time we got a camera: Mom always wanted to take photos, and without Dad there to stop her, she took lots and lots of pictures. We had discovered one-time use disposable cameras, and due to their convenience, Mom purchased many of those.

 

I wanted to participate in school sports, particularly track, tennis, or cheerleading. I brought up the topic several times, and pointed out the benefits, such as developing friendships and getting exercise. Mom’s answer:

 

“Absolutely not! Who would stay home to take care of the kids and house?”


I had a disrespectful thought: I’m not the one who made all those kids. “Um… the other sisters?”

 

“No, they’re too young. Your sisters are your friends and cleaning the house is more than enough exercise.”

 

The school cheer quad happened to have a carwash by our grocery store. When I saw them, I pointed them out to Mom.

 

“Mom, see? Those are cheerleaders. That’s one of the sports I really want to do.”

“Those half-naked girls? No way! Good thing I didn’t let you.”

 

“But Mom! It’s like gymnastics, so much exercise! And that’s just their uniform! All the parents let their kids do sports. It’s not fair.” I tried to pout. “At least go to their carwash and give them money for support, since you won’t let me participate in any sports.”

 

Mom obliged, and I persuaded her to give the cheerleaders a whopping $20 for the carwash.

 

Then Mom found one more job.

 

It was during the day at a Dollar Store. Now we barely saw her. We come home from school, yet she’s working there. After that she might come home for dinner and then go to the laundry job. Some days she wouldn’t be home until late at night when most of the kids were in bed. A friend or an aunt stayed with the kids who weren’t yet of school age.

 

I wasn’t happy with her having that Dollar Store job. I felt like she went to that job to escape dealing with the family. I had to do her motherly duties for her: cook meals, clean, make sure everybody’s homework was done. On the plus side, she would give me money if there was a good dinner and the house was clean.

 

One of the reasons I didn’t approve of that job was because the boss didn’t pay fairly. Oftentimes, after a full day of working there, the boss would say:

 

“Okay, Yelena, thank you very much. You can choose 30 items from the store today.”

 

Mom would come home hauling cheap plastic bags stuffed with food items, fake flowers, toys, hair accessories, and shampoo. When I confronted her about it, she said the boss paid her in cash too sometimes, so it was fine. This job was unofficial, and Mom was nervous to report this job to the Department of Social and Health Services because she feared they would take away all the benefits and throw her in jail.

 

On Saturdays she took me with her to help at the Dollar Store. Usually I operated the register, helped unload the new supplies, and restocked items. The boss would say at the end of the workday:

 

“Wow, thank you for helping. Please choose one item for yourself.”

 

I didn’t know how much the minimum wage was, but I sure knew it was a lot more than one measly Dollar Store item for hours of work. My silent form of protest was to not smile at the customers and hope that somebody could somehow sense the unfairness of me slaving away my Saturdaysimg_1683.jpg. Mom would try to make me feel better by giving me a ten-dollar bill for my labor.

 

One day Mom, in her high heels as always, was carrying an extremely heavy box from the Dollar Store to the car. She somehow misplaced her foot and crash-landed backwards into a concrete parking lot curb. Her tailbone met the edge of the curb, and her chest met the edge of the box.

 

She didn’t want to go to the hospital; for fear of going to jail if Department of Social and Health Services found out she had an unreported Dollar Store job. She called her sisters and parents to see what her options were, and was advised to go to a chiropractor. When the pain didn’t let up within a few days, I made an appointment for her. It was unnerving watching the chiropractor make his adjustments and hearing Mom cry out in pain. It didn’t help the fractured tailbone much.

 

One of Mom’s sisters decided to take her to the hospital. Mom was not being a very cooperative patient and simply said something hurts on her tailbone and something hurts very much on her chest area between her lungs. She refused to let me tell the doctors that she fell and had a heavy box fall on top of her. She got an X-ray done. It showed a large mass in the middle of her chest.

 

“Well, we don’t know what it is, but it sure looks like cancer. We need to perform a biopsy to be sure.”

 

4. Mr. W

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For the sake of clarity, let’s call the man with white hair Mr. W. It didn’t take many visits before I figured out that Mr. W had an agenda: he was trying to get married to mom! I confronted Mom at her earliest convenience:

 

“Mom. Why does Mr. W come over?”

 

My mom was gathering her keys and getting ready to drive off to work.

 

“Oh him? I’m not sure.” She tried to brush past me to get to the door. No way.

 

“I’m serious, Mom. Why is he trying to get married to you?”

 

“Oh don’t be silly, he simply comes to talk. I suppose he’s just lonely, he doesn’t have a wife.”

 

And off to work she went. I gathered an emergency family meeting and explained the urgency of the matter.

 

“We need to stop Mr. W! If we don’t stop him now, Mom might start liking him and might get married to him! Do you want him to be our new dad? He looks really strict! He might spank us more than Dad did!”

 

We brainstormed a list. Any idea was welcome and validated, no matter how silly or ridiculous. We won’t talk to him, won’t smile, younger siblings can stick their tongues out and make faces, and anything else that would be fitting to make him feel unwelcome in our home. The next time Mr. W came over, mom wasn’t home, so he gave us a bag of something and said, “This is for your mom.”

 

We looked inside and saw a few bags of ripe green grapes. As soon as Mr. W drove off, we hid the grapes under the porch steps as far back as they would go. The next time he drove up, we searched for the largest pebbles and propped them behind each tire. A few sharp ones made it in too, in hopes of possibly popping a tire. We were delighted to see his frustration when he attempted to drive off and had a rough time backing up. Mom asked us about grapes. Apparently Mr. W asked her how she liked the treat he brought last time. Oops. Not.

 

Our home was a giant duplex-style house where technically two families could reside in, but since we had 11 individuals, we had the whole house. All the kids were sent downstairs when Mr. W was over. We took turns holding a broom and hitting it up against the ceiling, to create an annoying thumping sound for the upstairs. Since there was only one broom, any long object worked, as well as toys that could be hurled up, as long as they didn’t leave any marks or dents in the ceiling. The youngest siblings were encouraged to run up the stairs and distract Mom as much as possible, pretending to be hurt, requesting Band-Aids, being particularly loud when taking a snack from the kitchen, and if they wanted bonus points, directing insulting sounds at Mr. W. If they would be talking outside on the porch, somebody would take out the trash and place it right next to them. Of course the bag would be slightly opened to help add an interesting aroma to their setting. Mr. W didn’t stand a chance against our motivated team.

 

Mom went shopping for clothes one day. She usually took me along to speed up the process. The stores of choice were Value Village or Goodwill, and sometimes they had days where certain colored tags were 50% off. We would purchase only those items. Some days we would get clothes with only yellow-colored tags, another day it would be only blue-tagged items. I began to loathe the musky smell of second-hand clothes. I wanted to own something brand new, and would request to go to Wal-mart or K-Mart, but the price tags there were too high.

 

After we were done shopping, Mom took a detour and pulled into somebody’s driveway. It was Mr. W’s house! I was mortified. He had a giant smile on his face when he sauntered up to our car window. They had a little chat, Mom handed him something, and we drove off. She had a goofy grin on her face. I couldn’t think straight. I felt like I would explode. Was she that desperate? I mean, she could probably use some help with managing all of us kids, but she could do way better than this!

 

“Mom, what are you doing? Why are you bringing him food? He is an old man! He’s ugly! He’s mean! It’s only been a year!”

 

Needless to say, the drive home was anything but pleasant.

 

By far the most extreme challenge Mr. W had was when he came over and some of the kids would dare to tell him “Go away!” and “Don’t come back again!” One of the evenings I recruited a sister to walk up to Mom and boldly state,

 

“Mom, you need to go to work now. Do you want to be late?”

 

Apparently it was the final straw. Mom stormed upstairs, marched directly at me, and smacked my face. I reeled back. My cheek stung and felt hot. This I wasn’t expecting.

 

“What is wrong with you? You’re the oldest child here! I expect decent behavior from you! Is that so difficult?” Mom whisper-shouted.

 

“But, uh, I didn’t do anything, I’m just sitting here,” I tried to defend myself.

 

“Oh, you!” Mom shot me a menacing glare and hurried back to resume her conversation with Mr. W.

 

Whether it was a single incident or the combination of our childish pranks, but Mr. W wasn’t ready to handle the whole package that came with Mom. Whatever they had attempted to build eventually fizzled out and he stopped showing up at our door.

 

We tried to make Mom look more modern. Her funky hairstyle was usually piled up very high on her head, and coupled with the brightly colored head covers she wore, it made for a disastrous fashion look. We thought if she would change her hairstyle, she would look more put-together. The heels and skirts paired nicely but that wasn’t enough. Mom didn’t like any of our attempts at making her look more contemporary. I think she realized she needed to do something different to distract herself from her loneliness or to potentially find a partner. She began to sing.

 

My sister and I had to sing with her. We would practice a hymn or two, and then on Sunday we did that number at church. It was so embarrassing. We had no music, just a hymnal, and it was just us singing in front of everybody. I had a huge problem with it and made it known.

 

How did Mom resolve it? The one song I learned how to play on the violin came in handy: we learned that song and sang that while I played. Great. I tried to have hoarse throat excuses and those worked every once in a while.

 

Other than the singing presentations, Mom began to loosen up a bit. She gave in to exploring stores like Ross and Wal-mart for our clothes. My first brand-new piece of clothing that I chose myself was from K-mart. It was a gorgeous red short-sleeved shirt that had DIVA spelled out in silver glitter. I wore it every other day until the glitter rubbed off.

 

There was a farmer’s market we frequented. Mom noticed one of the teenage helpers glancing over and with a knowing smile she mentioned to me:

 

“Well, would you look at that! He’s totally staring at you!” I pretended I had no idea what she was talking about, but inside I was excited. Apparently I can talk to Mom about topics like boys? That was pretty cool for a mom.

 

The eighth grade graduation was coming up. Our family couldn’t be bothered with school events so I had to make arrangements for my grandpa to drop me off in the evening and to pick me up when it was over. I wore a long black skirt and a quarter-sleeve periwinkle blue shirt with the same colored designs embroidered all over. As I was walking into the building, the most popular girl in the entire grade was walking by as well, and she said,

 

“Hi Galina, that’s a pretty shirt.”

 

I froze, and racked my brain desperately for how I was supposed to reply. This sounded like a compliment, and in the sixth grade we had a lesson about compliments and putdowns and how one was to respond.
“Oh, hi! Um, yes. Uh, thank you! It is just a…” I remembered that a response to a compliment was supposed to be simple. “Um, thank you!” Wow. That was so nice of her.

 

Students and families mingled after the graduation ceremony. There were appetizers and project displays set up all around. Somebody asked me where my family was.

 

“Oh, nobody was able to make it.”

 

“Oh, that’s so sad!”

 

“Eh.” I shrugged. I looked at the art display. There was my acrylic painting that won Judge’s Favorite award in the county fair. I wondered if Dad would be proud of me. He had found a great deal at a garage sale for my first set of drawing pencils and tracing paper. Art class was my favorite class. The teacher would do a little bit of talking and the rest of the time we could create. Once a girl began talking about how her life is so sad because her mom died and how she misses her mom very much. I felt her pain and thought that maybe I could be her friend. Several people began making comments about how they felt sorry for her and began to ask questions. She talked for a little and then cracked up.

 

“Hahaha ha-ha! I’m just messing with you all! I have both parents. This was so funny! All of your responses! Ah-ha ha ha ha!” I wanted to punch her. I couldn’t believe how immature that was. I couldn’t wait until high school. That’s when real life would begin.

 

I couldn’t have been more right.

1. Ambulance Ride

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I clasped my hands tighter and tried to keep myself from trembling as I sat between the two paramedics.

“Do you want to go really fast?” asked the driver. I nodded, not sure why he was asking me. “How about the sirens? Should we make them loud?” I nodded again. Why was he asking me that? He was the driver, those were his decisions to make, not mine.

The other paramedic asked me how old I was. “Twelve,” I answered.

“And you speak Russian?” I nodded.

“Your English is great! How long have you lived in America?” I shrugged. Why do they keep talking to me?

“That’s really neat! I wish I knew two languages! You know that you can be a professional interpreter? They make really good money! You’re the youngest interpreter I’ve ever met!” He sounded impressed, but I couldn’t tell for sure.

 

Out of the corner of my eye I could see cars flashing by as the ambulance raced to the hospital.

“Is…is my dad gonna be OK?” I asked quietly. My knuckles clenched harder than I thought possible.

“That’s why we’re taking him to the hospital. There are some very good doctors who will take a few tests to find out what’s going on.”

 

The emergency room was ready for my dad. A nurse was talking through each step that she took. I wasn’t paying too much attention because my dad had regained his consciousness and there was no need to interpret anything. He looked helpless and kept offering me a weak smile each time I looked at his face. I jerked with a start when the nurse mentioned drawing blood. That I could not handle, even if someone else was getting the procedure done. The ominous-looking needle, the outstretched arm, and the strong sanitized smell of the hospital was almost too much. Shifting my seat loudly, I turned my head and closed my eyes.

 

Earlier that evening, the whole family had been gathered in the living room for the daily devotional time. We usually sang a song or two and prayed. My favorite part was when each person got to choose a random number and my dad would read that verse if that number was available from the page of the Bible that he’d selected. The goal among the siblings was to choose a verse that wasn’t on the page so that another choice could be made. Most choices = winner.  It didn’t take much to entertain us. All of a sudden my dad yelped and grabbed his leg. “Help! My leg! Something’s happening!” and he fell with his back to the floor and stopped moving.

 

My mom lifted her third-trimester belly and shuffled over, calling his name, shaking him, trying to get him to wake up. All the kids froze, just momentarily, then chaos took over. Some began to wildly jump around, others cry, and since we were in prayer position, still others began praying really loudly. In absolute panic I sprinted to my parents’ room and grabbed the phone. It took several attempts before my fingers landed on the 3 digits correctly and the line began to ring.

 

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
One of the most dreadful feelings is when you need help, but you can’t request it. The words weren’t coming out of my mouth. It was like a bad dream.

 

“Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?”

 

“Ah! Ah! Help!” I croaked. It wasn’t easy trying to force words out and breath at the same time. “My dad. Help! Ah…Dying? Please help!”

 

God bless her heart; the operator told me to take a few deep breaths and began asking questions that I could answer with one or two words and the next thing I knew, she told me to go unlock the door because an ambulance had arrived and they needed to come inside. It wasn’t just an ambulance, there were police cars and fire trucks too. The commotion brought out all the curious neighbors. The medics tried to figure out what happened. I heard the word “seizure” a few times.

 

Since my mom’s English speaking skills were limited, I was the person to accompany my dad to the hospital.

 

I heard my dad call my name. I turned my head. His smile wasn’t fooling me for one second. “They’re done with the blood draw. Everything will be fine, you’ll see,” he said.

 

 

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Ephesians 5:22

Easier said than done. It’s not enough that we say we are renewed or born again, and no longer do evil deeds. We need to actively demonstrate the fruits of the spirit. Joy is particularly challenging or even impossible during tough parts of life, yet there it is. Listed right there. I think it helps knowing we are created for a greater purpose than just self-gratification here on earth. Sometimes when I’m tied down with the daily hassles of life, I forget to practice being joyful, and instead I act like Ms. Grumpypants. It’s a mindset that can be trained, and I’m still working on it 🙂

When our thoughts are like raspberries

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So far in my life I’ve had over two dozen jobs. One of them was working in the fields over the summers. What kinds of fields, you ask? Berry fields! Strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, even some extra work in potato & cucumber fields. Cucumbers are prickly… worst thing ever to pick. The raspberry  field was very special, because one had to be a certain age to work there. The summer when I turned 14, (or maybe 15) was quite something, because that meant I could apply, and hopefully work in those fancy-shmancy ginormous field machines.

It was as glorious as I’d imagined. The job consisted of sitting and sorting raspberries from the conveyor belt. It was constantly moving, and raspberries kept coming. As they fell into each box, I needed to rotate the box around so there wouldn’t be more than like an inch of raspberries over the whole bottom of the box. At the same time, I needed to catch all the bad raspberries and toss them out. If I didn’t, the box of good raspberries would get “contaminated” from the one bad moldy one. Sometimes there were bushes where a ton of bad raspberries came through at such a rate that my hands were a blur trying to toss them out. Other times it was a very slow relaxed row or day where one had time to actually think thoughts.

Anyway, I recently remembered this job when I was thinking how our thoughts work. We have so many thoughts on a regular basis and if the bad thoughts don’t get tossed out right away they contaminate a little section of our brain. If we let it go, it’s like allowing a poisonous area to accumulate. Then our thought process is messed up, we think incorrectly, we have a terrible attitude, we have a skewed perspective, etc. I’m not going to list off actual examples; there are too many.

“We … take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5

Instead of allowing our emotions, feelings, social media, culture, etc. define us, or dictate how or what we are to think, we need to make sure it’s aligned with the Word of God.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

First blog post about my lunch

FullSizeRenderThis is my very first post. OMG. Seriously it’s like my 4th attempt at having a consistent blog where I write stuff. Who wants to bet how long this one will last?

Anyway, the prompt for this first post suggested telling readers why I’m starting this blog and its purpose. (Shoot, is there supposed to be an apostrophe there?) Well, two reasons.

1. Trying to break a record for how many times a person can begin a blog.

2. Work on my grammar because obviously the less I write the less grammatically correct everything is. Like that apostrophe problem above. But hey, at least I spelled grammar correctly! I will forever spell grammar correctly because in 7th grade I had a principal ask me to spell that word and I spelled it g-r-a-m-m-e-r confidently, even after he asked me “Are you suuuuuure?” several times. Duh, why would he even ask that if it was correct? (was, or were? Argh!!)

3. Apparently there’s a third reason. I need to get some of the craziness associated with being a stay at home mom of 2 princesses out!

So there you have it. The picture is one that I took on my iPhone. It was my lunch. My Princess 1 was feeling sick, I was feeling probably worse than she was (because 2nd day of guess what), and my Princess 2 was attached to my hip, so I absolutely deserved a Haagen Dazs ice-cream. To tell you the truth, I actually had 2. I HAD TO! SERIOUSLY! I had given one to Princess 1 (because she’s sick, and when people are sick you give them whatever they want of course) but apparently she felt so sick she only ate a bite. And throwing away Haagen Dazs ice-cream is a sin. They were two different flavors, so it was like an appetizer and an entree.

By the way, I’m absolutely terrible at conclusions. I have no clue how to end a conversation, or a blog post, or that last paragraph when I used to write papers in school, or anything like that.

Ok, well, it was nice talking to you! Isn’t that awkward?

So, thanks for stopping by, come again! Nope.

OMG I gotta go, bye! Maybe.

This concludes the sentences I’ve been writing above. I introduced myself, explained the purpose of this blog, and shared some personal details about my healthy lunch choices. Ew, no way.

Bye! Too abrupt.

I give up.