Tag Archives: love

Not Even a Finalist. Hmpf………..

So George Mason University was hosting this contest about the best couple’s story – you know, a “how we met at Mason” extravaganza.

I entered my story with Number One Hubby. We didn’t even make the finals.

But, I have my own blog. So there. You can still be bored to tears with how we met!

Violence in Film – A Love Story

I just know it is going to happen. At our 50th wedding anniversary, my grand-daughter is going to lean down close to my chair right before we blow out the candles on our anniversary cheesecake and whisper excitedly, “How did you and Grandpa meet?”

And just as excitedly, I will lean in closer to her with my hand cupped gently around my mouth and giggle into her tiny tilted ear, “in a Violence in Film class at George Mason University way back in 1989”. She will surely take a step back and wonder if I am hitting early Alzheimers.

My husband and I will simply laugh. Because that is exactly how it all started. I was an English major taking a film class. I (obviously) didn’t pay much attention to the genre when I picked this class. I was just trying to get one more requirement in and in a course catalogue filled with poetry and short story writing and literature and transcendental meditation classes, who would be worried about a simple film class focusing on violence? Clearly, not me. A Violence in Film class is just about the last class I would ever sign up for. It is even lower on the list than Shark Training 101.

Unfortunately, it did not all happen on a dark and stormy night because that would have made a great introduction to the story. Alas, it was actually a bright and sunny day at the beginning of the Fall semester. He was already sitting down when I walked into class on that first day. He was scrunched down in the seat, feet in the aisle, ankles crossed, and his blue tattered hat was tilted to just enough to the right. And he was cute as heck. He was an accounting major taking an upper level English class as an elective. Because that makes perfect sense.

Then I saw her. The teacher. Cynthia Fuchs. In fatigues and, if I remember correctly, she donned a strawberry blond crew cut. She looked pretty serious. Then I saw the syllabus. Violence in Film. Hmmm. I immediately wondered how many classes I was allowed to attend before dropping the class without GPA consequences. I wanted to stay just long enough to meet that guy, but not one short take more because the movies listed were gruesome – Taxi, Robocop, Blue Velvet. I would not have paid $5 to watch those shows at the theater and then suddenly I was about to let my parents drop a load of tuition dollars on this class because there was a cute guy in the back row. Excellent.

Professor Fuchs started calling out attendance. I waited and watched to see when he would raise his hand. This was my chance to find out his name.

Robert.

Here.

Seriously? Is that Rob, Bob, Bert, Robert, Robbie, or perhaps Bobby? Or maybe he goes by his initials. You gotta be kidding me. This might take more than one or two classes to figure out, especially considering the fact that every other class was scheduled as a viewing class where we would sit in the dark, in silence and watch a movie. A violent movie.

What I came to find out not so much later was that the cute guy in the tilted hat with the official first name of “Robert” actually went by his middle name.

I figured I would at least go to the next class. We were watching a movie. So, I packed my popcorn and my cranberry juice and headed off to class. The seat next to Robert/Bobby/Rob a.k.a. Number One Hubby was open. I took it. Maybe I pushed another student out of the way to get there, maybe not. But I got the seat. The lights dimmed, the movie started, and I carefully put one piece of popcorn in my mouth at a time and let it melt, slowly and quietly.

Then I heard, “Pssst.”

Really, was he talking to me? The dropping of this class and the making of our first date just might happen sooner than later.

I put my hand to my chest and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “who me”. I might have even flipped my hair. A little. Maybe. Just a little.

To which he replied, “Could you please keep it down? It’s hard to hear the movie.”

Oh dear heavens. That is when I learned that my future husband was not only handsome, but also a smart arse. And thus the crush began.

We starting skipping the classes in which films were being shown and, instead, hung out in the Ratt. I vaguely remember beers and pizza being involved. Then we would have to rent the movie and it made more sense to watch it together. We’d go to the discussion class together and have our own discussions afterward. He liked the movies. I hated the movies. It was a match made in movie heaven.

We even worked side by side on our final papers. We had to create our own violent movie scene. And to this day, Number One Hubby will swear he got a better grade in the class than I got. And sometimes, for the sake of marriage, we let the little tales go so that one day we will be able to tell a Violence in Film Love Story at our 50th wedding anniversary party.

It all came together when he proposed to me, wearing that same tattered blue hat tilted perfectly to the right, in the Blockbuster video parking lot. We were creating a new story – not for homework – but for a lifetime.

Looks like we made it……………

If  you read my post earlier today about the premiere of Eat, Pray, Love, you know that my family might have been in it. Well guess what folks, number one hubby and the kids and my dear friend Linda all made the cut! And, yes, that means, I was not so visible. Sniff sniff.

The flashback wedding scene is probably about half-way or two-thirds of the way through the movie and it is right after the Indian wedding scene.

Tres cool!

And, by the by, my computer is slowing crashing – so if you don’t hear from me for a few days prepare for a PC funeral.

15 milliseconds of (possible) fame………….

If you have been reading along for a while, you might remember that my family and I got to be extras on a movie set while we lived in India – just one of the many wonderful things we got to do on our adventure that we would have n.e.v.e.r. been able to do here. I was hesitant at the time to say what movie it was because I didn’t want our scene cut from the movie because info about it appeared on some (stupid mommy) blog.

However, the movie premieres today and we just might be in it.

Guess what the movie is – go ahead, guess…….guess…….guess. Yep, Eat, Pray, Love.

This is a frame that someone (who apparently knows and loves Peter) froze from the trailer.

Now, I want to be very clear that it is extremely possible that this scene got cut from the movie. It is a flashback wedding scene that was not originally in the book. But just in case it makes it – Hubby and I are sitting at the back left table and my kids are sitting at the back right table. Hubby and I are sitting with the main camera guy’s girlfriend (I know he is a super duper big deal and has a much more glamorous title than just “main camera guy” but I cannot remember what it is, sorry) and our kids are sitting with someone’s (maybe even the director’s) kids – so I am thinking we have a good chance of being in there. But I won’t know for sure until 7:10p when I drag my hubby to the theater. And you bet your arse I will write again tomorrow and let you know for sure.

About the book – I will be very honest here (shocking, right?) and tell you that when I started reading this book several years ago, I was not a big fan. I thought it was indulgent, selfish, and, because I had children, a husband, and a life I am happy with, completely unrealistic. The main character does not have children (if I remember correctly she is trying to get pregnant at the beginning of the story) and she decides to completely reinvent herself by leaving her life behind and traveling to Italy to eat, India to pray, and then on to Bali to love. That is so not going to happen in my world so I had a hard time making a real connection to the story. Plus the author came across as a little too impressed with herself – however this whole book thing is working out pretty well for her. Believe me, Julia Roberts isn’t knocking down any doors to play me in a movie so I will shut up on how much I didn’t care for the book right about now.

The experience was a lot of fun.

Hubby and I and even the kids actually auditioned for speaking parts. The kids had to pretend to be afraid of family antics at the Thanksgiving table – they have absolutely no experience with family antics so they were woefully unprepared and were not picked. I tried out for the role of soccer mom which I am woefully over-qualified for and I think they were afraid I might out-act the actual stars. And Hubby tried out for the part of the priest. And if you know him – stop laughing – it really is not that funny. Really, stop it.

The movie crew offered to send a driver to pick us up. I wasn’t too sure that leaving our house with our children in tow at 4am and driving off into the sunrise with a complete stranger in India was a great idea. We had our own driver take us. But once we got there, we got to go to wardrobe and makeup and hair – where they straightened my hair – pretty funny since I have paper straight hair and they put make up on me that made me look like either an 80-year old great-great-great-grandmother or a woman who doesn’t own a mirror. But the chances of you actually seeing my face or my hair are probably pretty slim. So here I am with my dear friend who loves me enough to wake up at 4am to come with. Smooches girl!

About Julia Roberts – I was frankly disappointed that she never even said hello to the group of us in the room. I think that would have been the nice thing to do since we all woke up at the crack o’dawn and sat in a very hot room all day to help make the movie. She is certainly very pretty and actually smaller in stature than I thought she would be. And her laugh is absolutely infectious. But she never once turned to us and said “thanks for being here guys – especially since I am going to make enough money on this movie to feed all of China”. Really? Hmpf.

As you can tell, the scene we were in was a wedding scene. So at one point, one of the directors thought it would be more realistic to have people “pretending” to take pictures. They gave cameras to the people in the scene who were associated with the filming so that they could trust that pictures would not end up on the internet (which by the by, I totally would not do because I know full well that would mean the scene would be cut, duh).

As I mentioned, we were sitting with the big guy’s girlfriend and she was given a camera. So, I asked her if she would use my camera instead. Brilliant right? Hubby was crawling under the table, very sure that we would be getting kicked out and he would have spent his entire day in the heat in a suit for nothing. It was probably as close as he has ever come to considering divorce. But she was delightful and used the camera. She even told me she was trying to get a picture with me and Julia in it together – she was really a liar, liar, pants on fire. She is actually a director in her own rite and was very careful to only take pictures without faces. But it was very sweet of her to pretend for the crazy lady trying desperately to break bend the rules.

And then, at the end of the day, she turned us in. Honest to God, I thought I was back in college trying to get into a bar with a fake id (and Dad – by that I totally mean hearing a story about a “friend” in college who tried to get into a bar with a fake id – you taught me better than that). Enter Bruno who could not flatten his arms against his body because they were so bowed by muscles. Hubby is giving me the death stare while Bruno deletes the pictures.

But, all in all, it was a fantastic experience. The beginning and end of a wonderful acting career – and, yes, hubby and I were each paid $60 for our time and extreme talent.

I will be back tomorrow to let you know if we made the cut.

The Great Wall of China……………

This past weekend we hopped over to Beijing to see the Great Wall of China. That sounds crazy, right? Well it was, kind of. I truly never imagined that I would “hop” over to China. But it was fantastic.

The Great Wall is certainly great. Construction of the wall began in 221 BC under the direction of the first Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. Further construction was accomplished during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). It is now 4,000 miles long. Urban legend holds that the Great Wall is the only structure on earth that you can see from outer space – but the actual astronauts who have been in outer space seem to dispute that. I’ll go with what they said.

So the Great Wall is up, up, up on top of the mountain – that means if you want to climb it, you must go up a lot of stairs – and by a lot, I mean A LOT. We climbed stairs for about an hour and a half. That was mostly because I way dumbed us down and took a long time getting to the top. My kids probably could have done it in an hour no problem. But, did I mention, it’s a lot of stairs? And stairs that were built a very long time ago – so some are really tall and some are not so much tall and some are crooked. And the handrail was meant for people with not very long arms. So, it is not like stairmaster stairs or escalator stairs. It’s more like Dr. Seuss stairs. Tall stairs, small stairs, and crooked stairs too. Up some, down some, and over some too.

And I learned this about China. Most of the doorways in the older structures have a step within them. I was told this is because they believe that evil spirits are short and cannot enter a doorway with a step in it. Okay – I am not one to point out minor details – but if an evil spirit has to climb, let’s just say 1,000 steps to even get to the doorway, it seems a wee bit redundant to put one more obstacle before him. But, hey, better safe than sorry on the “keeping evil spirits out” philosophy!

We did not have time to go see the terra cotta warriors while we were in China – so it was fun that these guys were there. Too bad he wasn’t available to carry me up the stairs.

And I think you should heed this warning.

We saw these locks lining the walls. I wish I had known that they were the “locks of love”. Couples come and add their lock to the chain, then throw the key over the side of the wall. I would have totally done this with hubby!

There are a few pit stops along the way – a couple of places to buy a drink or an ice cream or souvenirs. But there is only one “bathroom”. So go before you go. Or you will be squatting for all the world to see. This picture will surely totally confuse some of my western readers. So, I will answer a few questions – yes, this is the women’s restroom. No, there are no doors. No, there is not toilet paper. Yes, it is at least inside a room – a room with windows – but a room. Yes, be thankful this is not a scratch and sniff blog.

The girls and I went in thinking it would be a good idea to take advantage of the facilities and then we decided that we could wait for a better option. But on the way back down, I wanted to get a picture for you dear blog readers. So, armed with my camera, I turned the corner to take a picture and a woman was – let’s just say busy – so, I quickly stepped back out. It was really hysterical when she came out and tried to explain to me what the “bathroom” was. I just said, “yes, I understand, bathroom. Just wanted a picture – not willing to actually use it.”

This is me – totally ready for the adventure…

And this is me about half-way up thinking “how much further?”.

Just a few tips. You don’t need to carry your purse. You won’t really need a lipstick at the top of the wall. A water bottle is a good idea though. And I did start off wearing a sweatshirt with a light sweater underneath with a t-shirt under that. I was glad to have the layers. We were there in early April and it was chilly starting off. But as we walked up more and more steps, we were glad to shed the sweatshirts. I was also happy to have my sweater to put back on as we went back down the stairs. It turns out going down is much, much easier than going up.

This sign either says “Great Wall” or “do you have any idea how many steps that is?”

It was interesting also to see that there were no first aid stations or anything like that. So, really be careful if you decide to take this hike. I am sure most people are fine – but take breaks when you need them – and do eat a good breakfast. Truly, just when I thought we were getting close, we turned around another guard tower just to find more steps. Steps that were going up.

The views were spectacular.

And if you do make it all the way to the top, cartwheels are absolutely in order!

And going down is much easier when you “slide” down. 😉

Wall in Wall it was a “great” trip.

Digging Deeper…………

When I began writing this blog, I guess hoped it would challenge me as a writer but I never imagined that it would challenge me as a thinker. I just looked at it as a way to journal our experience, share it with friends, and remember the details we might otherwise forget. But, recently I wrote a post about my c-section experiences and I got a lot of feedback. Most of it was positive but a couple responses were pretty angry.

I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I do see that many women feel traumatized by this surgery; however, I still do not understand why women are devastated by experiencing a cesarean birth. I am a “by any means necessary” kind of mom. Just get that baby safely here. And if you can do it quickly, even better. I hear that some women feel cheated because they believe doctors rush to do a c-section to avoid malpractice lawsuits. I have to say wait a minute on that one – malpractice lawsuits happen when something goes wrong – so if the doctor is trying to avoid a malpractice lawsuit, I fail to see why that is a bad thing.

But reading the responses made me want to dig deeper and uncover why I am so unscathed by my experiences. This what I came up with.

When we decided we were ready to be parents, my husband was excited – that means we get to try – a lot. I had other plans – sorry dear. I wanted a boy first – I have an older brother and he is my good luck charm. So I hoped if I ever had a girl, she would have an older brother. So, there is timing involved. My husband swore if we got pregnant the first month, I would be a single parent.

Me: Ooops. Count your blessings honey. Some people try for years.
Number One Hubby: Hmpf.

I had an easy pregnancy with Bear – but his birth – well that was a little more exciting. You can read here about how all three of my children were born in emergency situations. Yes, that surely tainted my judgment and fostered a lack of resentment. As I said, by any means necessary.

That first year went well. So, we started talking about adding to our family.

Hubby: Do we get to practice more this time?
Me:  I’d like a girl this time. There is timing involved, you know.
Hubby: I’ll take that as a no.
Me: Well, we’ll see – I’d like to just try the first month.
Hubby: Remind me again how do you feel about single parenting.

We got very lucky again. Flower was born 23 months after Bear.

Then a year later, we thought about starting to talk again.

Me: I am pregnant
Hubby: What? How did that happen?
Me:  (Looking at Flower and Bear)
Hubby: Yeah, I know that. But, does that mean we don’t even get to pretend like we are going to practice?
Doctor: Something is not right.

Baby Doe never made it completely into our family. I don’t know if Baby Doe was a boy or girl. S/he wasn’t with us long enough to get a name, just a place in our hearts. Baby Doe did not make it very far. We lost Baby Doe early. The first sonogram showed that our baby was measuring too small and there was not a heartbeat. Let’s wait about 10 days and see what happens. Maybe you aren’t as far along as you think you are.

Hmmmmmm. 10 days as in 240 hours as in 14,400 minutes as in, literally, a lifetime. Baby Doe’s lifetime.

My HCG levels were rising at encouraging levels. That got me through 10 very long days. But the second sonogram showed no growth, no heartbeat. My body, not realizing what was not happening, did absolutely nothing. So, I was scheduled for a DNC.

It is hard to capture those feelings. Not everyone knew I was pregnant – although I am glad I had told my family and close friends. Otherwise the loss would have been a silent one.

The people who were most concerned about our loss were people who had experienced the same loss themselves. I do feel it much more deeply for others now too. Miscarriages seem so unattended. So nameless and faceless and lonely. Solitary.

It’s not that often that I think of our miscarriage – remember I try to focus on the gifts not the disappointments – although writing about our experience made me shiver a little. There is certainly an emptiness in the experience. Writing about it takes me to the softness in my heart where sadness echoes memories that were never meant to be.  I think I was lucky that I was able to grieve our loss when it happened. So many women fight the sadness and move on a little too quickly. I did not have a choice. It was overwhelming and empty. Grief came to me in the quiet moments I was alone and allowed myself to think of what was not to be.

We never knew what exactly happened – just that something must have been very, very wrong.

We were told to wait a few months before trying again. Physically and Emotionally. Not me. Thank you. We started trying soon after. Hubby didn’t even ask about practicing. It was not as fun this time.

Six months with no luck and we decided we should count our blessings. Two children – one boy, one girl. We are very lucky. We can stop here.

Hubby scheduled an appointment for a vasectomy and was on his way to it when another doctor called him. He needed to go to his parents’ house immediately. His father was not doing well.

That following week my father-in-law passed away from a long, hard-fought battle with lung cancer. We had his funeral on a Wednesday and on the following Friday was Flower’s second birthday. I felt funny. Exhausted. Not really that hungry. Pregnant. But we had a lot to do and Hubby was just overwhelmed. I decided to wait until after the party to share the news.

My mother-in-law graciously asked us to continue with Flower’s party. She thought it would be nice to have something happy to do. She was right. It was lovely and a very nice diversion. Toward the end of the party, I heard hubby declaring our intent to be a two-child family. He laughed and joked. But his bottom line – “we are done.”

After everyone left, I asked him to sit down.

Me: We aren’t exactly done.
Hubby: Huh? Again with the no practicing?
Me: Apparently.

The first sonogram did not go well. We had to wait 10 days again. Luckily this time it was not a lifetime. Although it felt like one.

The second sonogram went great. The message typed on the screen was “send pizza”. Does that mean you see a heartbeat? Yes.

Some of my tests showed abnormal results and I ended up having an amnio. Everything tested fine and we knew for sure we were being blessed with another daughter. But something about a miscarriage can leave you questioning your entire pregnancy. What will happen this time? Will she be okay? We have all heard too many stories.

So, when I was in a car accident the day Angel was born and I heard very scary words in triage, I still was very unsure I would get to meet her. Hold her. Luckily for me and her, we both came out of surgery just fine. Three weeks early. Her little gift to me. Thanks honey!

I feel so blessed that my children are with me. That we survived pregnancy together. So, when I hear someone lament their c-section story, I don’t share their loss – even if we share similar scars. My scar is a physical reminder that I am blessed – it is a badge of honor. Some scars I guess are more emotional. And I understand they might not ever heal. I have sympathy for that sense of loss but, clearly, perspectives are different. I am not sure why they are unable to simply soak in the gift they have been given. Just look at their child and see that great fortune was delivered right into their arms via their heart – by any means necessary.  As  for me, I plan to continuing appreciating what is and forgive whatever was not.

And the stockings were hung…..

This year, when I think of the gifts I want to give my kids, I don’t think of what I can wrap and put under the tree. I think of confidence…laughter (not to be confused with happiness, they have to find that for themselves)…integrity…love… security…determination. Gifts I can wrap around their hearts – gifts that can seep into their personalities. Gifts that can help them understand their potential (not realize their potential, but understand that they have it, – again, realizing it is up to them) – gifts that will shape who they are going to become.christmas-sprig-with-cranberries

I am realizing that as they get older, I have a chance to mature and focus.

That is their gift to me – perspective.

This year, it’s going to be hard for us to give them tangible (translation – material) gifts. Which is a gift in and of itself. So, Number One Hubby and I decided to give them the gift of family, amazement, memories, and laughter. It is a gift we are re-gifting – a gift our families have given to us.

We took them to see Cirque De Soleil.

We went to dinner first and just simply caught up with each other. It was lovely. We had lots of time – no rushing. Then off to the circus. We were dazzled, amused, amazed, and very much entertained. We laughed the whole way home as we recounted our favorite parts and marveled at how the artists managed to do any of what they did – right before our eyes.

The circus was fabulous and we would highly, highly recommend it. But that wasn’t the gift. It was the time together. The memories and the laughter. We created wonderful memories that I know will last at least a lifetime. Maybe memories that will even last thru generations, I can hear them now…….remember when we all went to the circus…. and then, prayerfully, later to their own children, when I was your age………………………..Now those are gifts worth giving.