Monday, July 21, 2014

Going Home: Our love story and the CDP Nuevo

Ok, so far, in this love story, David and I met, I confessed my feelings for him and we started dating.  Although this felt like my whole life, in reality it was really only a few months.  It was right around thanksgiving when David invited me to come home with him.  

I was the first girl that David ever brought home. 

He’d obviously dated other people but he’d never brought them to meet his mom and see his land.  
I was determined not to ruin it.  Although I knew this would be a little tricky since David had mentioned his mom had cats, like around 20 of them, and I was horribly allergic.  Of course, not ruining things required me to act like having 20 cats is totally a normal everyday thing I was used to, not a threat to my ability to breathe.  
Before we left Santa Barbara we had breakfast with his sister Kalli and her husband.  They prayed for our trip to Nuevo...after which I was like, “Where is Nuevo?  I thought you lived in Riverside?”  I had a lot to learn.
Come to find out Nuevo is the name of the CDP (Census Designated Place) they lived (it’s not technically even a city hall...just land, land and more land) in Riverside county.  It’s population and it’s total acreage both hover around the 4,000 mark.  David’s family making up a good portion of the population and owning the majority of the land.  
No place on earth smells like Nuevo, CA with the pungent smell diary farm manure and the rich earthy alfalfa, sod and sundry other crops covering the land.   It is completely wide open, I kind of gasped when we made it through the mountains and looked down on the expanse below.  It was brown, baked in the sun with little hints of green olive trees lining the main ways.  I felt out of sorts without the green refuge of trees I was so used to.  
The streets were mostly unpaved and I was happy to be bumping along in David’s cherry red F150 rather than my hand-me-down minivan.  It was obvious from the moment the land came into view that David loved it.  He pointed out landmarks and places he and his dad had farmed, fished, hiked.  His shoulders relaxed; he was clearly at home.    
As we pulled into a dirt driveway I fell in love with the place. It totally harkened back to my early 1990s obsession with the movie Overboard (with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.)  The rusted out cars in the driveway, the enormous springs and tractor parts strewn about the backyard bore put me at ease.  
I noticed 3 more things as David escorted me inside.  #1. The oven was held closed with two shoestrings that seemed to be slightly singed.  #2.  David’s mom was even more gorgeous than he had told me with long blond hair and piercing blue eyes. She looked more like his older sister than his mom.  #3.  The “shower” was in truth just a over-oxidized pipe sticking out of the bathroom wall.  
As we took the tour of the house, I saw the cats.  It was hard to keep count because David’s mom only took in black and white cats.  Or rather she took in a cat named, “Fat Cat Moo Cow” who’d  sired most of the rest. 
As much as I despised the cat’s hair I was impressed by the way David and his family cared for animals.    Their compassion knew no bounds, it extended to humans and ran over onto every living creature God made.
The next morning we went to Beverly Ann’s donuts which had been bought out by a chinese restaurant but still sold donuts.  Much to my chagrin, Fat Cat Moo Cow and his brood seemed to have reign even over the tiny shopping complex down the road.   By the time we left.  My nose was completely plugged up.  My throat was a straw sized passage that I wheezed through and my eyes were hard to keep open both because of the constant watering and the extreme puffiness.  But I was happy, I’d completed phase 1. His mom’s house, now it was on to Hemet and the rest of the family.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Words of Wisdom

This was a writing prompt I was given a couple weeks ago and it was pretty fun to write:) 
"Write a letter to a seventh grader that is becoming an eighth grader with advice about what to expect, what to do, and what not to do."

Dear Seventh Grade Me,
Don’t take that dare to wear a tiara during your History Presentation.  Or if you must take the dare find a way to relate it to your topic.  Don’t worry though, the detention is probably worth the laughter in the end. 
I'm not really sure what to say about this picture except "YIKES"
Do take the opportunity to do higher math and don’t worry about how it affects your grade.  It is as important to understand numbers as it is to understand words.  
Enjoy ska and punk while you can.  It will be a somewhat guilty pleasure later in life so get to every concert you can.
Work harder at soccer.  Try to understand the sport, not just get through practice.  Seriously, you have a chance to be really good.  Watch professionals.  
Focus more on singing than on the trumpet.   
Get over the fact that you did not get the princess part in the play but were forced to be the evil stepsister.  You are not in fact, going to go into acting as a career. Besides the prince and the princess holding hands will be priceless blackmail material soon.  

Spend more time with A.  In 3 years she’ll get pregnant and have a baby.  You’ll lose touch and then she’ll get cancer.  One morning you’ll get the call that she died.  You probably won’t be able to change the way things happen but at least enjoy the time you can before she’s gone.  Same for L and E.  They all die young and you’ll miss them more than you expect.  
Have fun, these are some of the sweetest years of your life.  Learn Mrs. Wright’s memory verses and learn to conjugate latin verbs but don’t let a dead language kill your joy.  
Be yourself!  You turn out pretty well and believe it or not you do get married.  And to someone you never could have dreamed up... not to mention the 2 adorable kids you get to raise.  
See you on the flip side,
 30 year old me

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

World Cup Update: #BRA vs #GER

We interrupt the normal Wednesday guest blogger for a moment to consider the historic soccer game that took place last night.

As I stated in my first World Cup post, I am no soccer afficinato.  I own only two jerseys.  They are the official 2006 Germany jersey (the year that they hosted) and this year’s official Brazil jersey.  Talk about ironic.  In 2006 Germany went to the semi-finals only to lose to the Italians (who would go on to win the whole thing). Germany, at home, had to settle for third place. 

And now this.  Are there any words for what happened last night?  In case you are not a soccer fan.  Brasil lost to Germany in an unprecedented 7-1 defeat.  And to put salt in the wound, Miroslav Klose (#GER) passed Ronaldo’s (#BRA) all time record for World Cup goals scored. 

 It was absolute craziness, the caption box couldn’t even contain the names of all the German’s who scored, and some scored twice!  

A friend tweeted, “Isn’t there a mercy rule in soccer?” 

 There isn’t.  I should know.  I was captain of  our high school soccer team my senior year.  Don’t be impressed my senior class was 43 people.  We played in a prep school league that had some hard hitting teams though and it was not unusual for us to lose by double digits.  That hurt.  And as the eternal optimist at the end of each game I’d think 10 minutes left okay we just need to score 1 goal per minute.  5 minutes left, okay people score in under a minute...2 goals a minute.  Under five minutes I started to lose hope, by the bus ride home I was crushed.  That was the last season I played soccer.  I applied to Westmont hoping to make their nationally acclaimed team but didn’t even try out after the defeat of my senior year.  

I didn’t handle disappointment and embarrassment well.  
I regret that.  
Obviously, this is a sliver of a microcosm of what happened last night.   

So, back to the World Cup.... Germany settled for third place again in 2010.  In fact, they have never won as a united nation.  Yes, West Germany has won 3 times (1954, 1974, 1990...hence the 3 stars on the German Jersey). But even the 1990 win preceded reunification of Germany by 339 days. And so they’ve waited and rebuilt and waited.  Taking third or fourth place over and over again.  And last night they struck.  

It was a very hard blow for Brasil.  Too hard, some may say. 
It was excruciating to watch the players suffer.  They seemed shaken to the core of their identities. 

And soccer player or not, we have all experienced that sort of soul searching, that realization that we have been beaten, badly, by an opponent who was clearly our superior.  And we wonder:
What could I have done to become better than the best? 
How could I let people I care so much about down?
How do I live with the anger and humiliation of being outclassed? (especially in front of the whole world)

But here are some things I’ve been mulling over:

-Brasil did not have to qualify, they were granted a spot automatically as the host.   It’s not as if they would not have qualified.  They always have.  But the process of qualifying refines a team.  Sometimes we feel we have a destiny that we are meant to achieve but it doesn’t just fall into our laps. And if it does, we should be all the more wary.  

-Many did not expect to win without captain Thiago Silva and top scorer Neymar Jr. and certainly not after the first 3 goals went in.  Any team can win on any given day.  Yes, Germany is the better team, clearly.  But there is always a chance.  Even if you see no way, you must believe that “God provides a way where there seems to be no way.”  Never stop searching for that way.  Never ever, ever, ever give up. The people who love you will believe in you even when you fail.  That is why I love that #WestillProudofyouBRAZIL and #Brasilnuncamorre have been trending since the game ended. 

-They still have to play for third place. And it will be a very very hard game  Whether it is against the Netherlands (a fantastic team) or Argentina (their hated  enemies) the game must be played well.  And I think that  President Dilma Rousseff’s response was apt, "Like every Brazilian, I am very, very sad about this defeat. I am immensely sorry for all of us. Fans and our players," she wrote on Twitter yesterday.  "But we won't let ourselves stay down," she said, before quoting a Brazilian song: "Brazil, get up, dust yourself off and move forward."  This from a woman who was captured and tortured as a young woman but is now,  “One of the most powerful heads of state” according to

So, “get up, dust yourself off and move forward.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More of our love story

Ok, reviewing the “love story” posts I’ve written for the blog I realized that I missed a pretty crucial part of our relationship...right in between when I found out David’s name and when I left for the East Coast.  

Someone told me once that the song “Ironic” was misnamed and really all the frustration Alanis Morsette spends 4 minutes 6 seconds outlining are really just “unfortunate” events not ironic.  As an English teacher I have to disagree.  There is some amount of dramatic irony in a man overcoming his Pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying) only to die in a plane crash.  Although I admit that the irony of finding a black fly in my chardonney still eludes me.  In any case, the tragedy that struck David Lauda only weeks after I met him makes the misfortunes of Ms. Morsette look like mere annoyances.

Probably a month after I first laid eyes on David our church held baptisms.  Now, the church connotes a whole host of images, from cathedrals to big tent revivals.  Let me assure you that whatever you are picturing is not what our church was like.  We met in homes, on the beach, in a theater, wherever people let us really.  We were a band of college kids and young adults on fire for Jesus.  We’d worship anywhere and everywhere.  So, these particular baptisms were held in a friend’s backyard in his hot tub, which was exactly as awkward as it sounds.  

The first thing that amazed me was how many people wanted to baptized.  We held baptisms every season and each time there would be 5-10 people whose lives had been completely turned upside down by their new faith.  The second thing that amazed me was that David chose to wear tie dyed zebra print short shorts and what James refers to as a “hoop ball hat” (aka a sweatband).  I’m not sure if anyone had told him that this was not traditional baptismal attire but he stood up there without a care in the world.  

Oh yeah, those are the shorts..yikers:)
Finally, it came time for the people getting baptized to give their testimony.  People had a variety of long (really long in some cases) stories chronicling how they had made this decision.  Then the pastor called David up.  He asked David for his testimony.  David looked out over the crowd, “My testimony?” he asked.  I waited with baited breath because I heard that he had a very dramatic conversion.  “My testimony is that I am a terrible sinner but Christ died for my sins.”  Boom.  Just. Like. That.  #Truth (although this was like 15 years before hash tags).  

After the service was over I somehow I finagled a way to get a ride back to school with him.  On that 40 minute drive he talked more than I have ever heard him speak at one time.  He told me all about his faith and his family.  He told me that since becoming a Christian he had forgiven his dad and was back in contact with him.  In fact, his dad was getting released from prison in only a few months.  He was super excited because he and his dad had been inseparable before the 10 year sentence came down.    

I got back to school and I got caught back up in school...obsessing about making B+s into As.  I didn’t forget about David, in fact every time I saw him I felt more and more amazed and taken with him.  But we didn’t get a chance to talk.  Until I was talking with a friend, weeks, maybe a month later.  “Did you hear about David Lauda’s dad?”  she asked.  “No,” I answered hoping that maybe his release date had been moved up and I could meet the man, the myth and the legend Jim Lauda.  

“He died this week,” she announced.  And I felt sick to my stomach.  Just before getting released?  It couldn’t be true, she couldn’t know this.  But when I saw David later that night I knew it was true.  I didn’t know what to say or do.  We were all acting like he had the plague...too awkward to ask about it, too big a deal to not ask about it.  I finally ended up talking to his sister and he came over.  I held my breath. “You know what song   I have stuck in my head?” she asked him.    “Don’t pull on superman’s cape, Don’t spit into the wind and you don’t mess around with Jim.”   Kalli quoted.  David laughed. 

It took days, weeks, years to piece together Jim’s death.  He died fighting wild fires in Northern California (Inmates on good behavior can volunteer to do that in emergencies).  I wasn’t close enough to go to the funeral.  But I was at the spreading of his ashes the next summer.  We built an ebenezer of stones up at Lake Shasta so as never to forget him.  5 years after that our first son was born... James, after Jim.  

But back then, back when the grief was so fresh and raw, I could only marvel at David’s courage and faith.  Two qualities that only those who've lost loved ones can understand.  They are what held us together that long summer and our first year of dating.   They are what hold us together still.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Yard Sale Generosity

Our yard sale this weekend wasn’t a huge success, not by any stretch of the imagination.  My gross income totaled a grand $21 and a scarlet sunburn to boot. 

Still, there were two things that made it all worth it in my mind. 

First, was that J--- sold her Vespa.   She and D-- had bought it for $1,500 in Colorado ten years ago. It had 5,000 miles on it.  Baby blue with some wear on the leather, double seat for hot dates and a compartment beneath the main seat perfect for a six pack of beer.  

As soon as she rolled it out there was a lot of interest.  She was selling it for $500, a steal, with the lock, two helmets, oil and cover included! But everyone was trying to haggle her down.  $300 cash now, $350 cash in a little bit... and so on and so forth.  She got numbers gave out numbers and then these two brothers came up.  They were young. The first brother who turned out to be only 18 want to buy it for his older brother who was turning 21 and had recently moved to Roxbury.  The first brother was a talker, hipster glasses, a graphic tank top, smooth latino skin and perfectly coiffed hair.  The older brother was rougher, wearing his old grey sweatpants and a white T.  The looked like half brothers, same dimples but completely different style.  Although they both did have sleeves of beautiful tattoos.  The lettering was perfect and the icons indelible.  La Vida, the Boston Bruins spoke, and two newly tatted spades, fresh shiny ink.  

At first, they couldn’t do $500.  But J--- and I wanted them to have it.  They were young, unattached; basically the perfect age for Vespa adventures.  I wanted them to experience all the laughter and sights and madness that I’d shared with David.  It really was a deal, ours sold for much more and since this one was 50ccs you didn’t need a motorcycle liscence to buy it.  

In the end, they came up with the money.  I’m not sure how.  No 18 year old should be carrying over $500 on their person but this guy was.

And now for the second and more amazing part of the story.  At the end of the day when my shoulders were burnt and we were all hot and worn out from haggling, we packed up our stuff and lugged it back into our respective houses/apartments.  And just as I was dragging up the unsold antique high chair, C--- walked up with an envelope.  She and S-- had pooled the money to give to me and David for the move or whatever else we might need. It meant so much, so much more than I could put into words then or now.  That is God’s blessing, not even just the money but good friends who care and will spend all day frying in the sun, not for themselves even but for you, even if you don’t know it!