Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Thursday, September 22, 2011

3 Short Stories

So my 2nd grader looks at me very seriously the other day and says, "Mommy, practically everyone in my class believes in God!" To which I replied, "Wow, who says that public school has taken God out of the classroom!" Actually I didn't say that but I thought it. We talked about what Mommy believes in and what Daddy believes in and why we have given our children the choice to choose for themselves whether they want to believe in Gods or in something else. Thankfully our oldest child is thoughtful and rational and so explaining something as intangible as God is something she can process without too much frustration or confusion. After explaining that she could make her own choice about all the things I had explained to her she replied, "But Mommy, if everyone else believes in God I want to believe in God too, because I don't want to be the only one that is different." Hmmmm

I heard a story on my favorite news program, This American Life about the after effects of September 11, 2001 and what that experience was like for some Americans. It was a very touching program but the one that touched me the most was how Muslims in this country were singled out and forced to endure ridicule, tormenting and name calling and how the hardest hit were children in school. The program mixes interviews and narrative and they interviewed a young girl who was 8 years old at the time of the towers coming down and how afterward in the Midwest town she lived in she was tormented at school to the point where she stopped eating, got sleep disorders and had skin problems. The tormenting continued to the point where her parents were forced to withdraw her from school and keep her at home for her education. She is now 17 years old but she feels like her fellow Americans turned on her and rejected her and held her accountable for something she had no control over.

Lastly, my niece had a good playmate when she was 10 years old. She only has so many kids to play with in her town as she lives rurally and there is a 45 minute car ride to the nearest town or gas station. She really enjoyed the company of her friend and looked forward to play dates as any 10 year old girl would. And then one day the friend told her that her adoptive parents had told her that since the 10 year old took ballet lessons and dancing is a sin, that they didn't think she was a positive influence on their child and so the play dates should stop. My niece didn't realize that she was being asked to make a moral decision regarding her eternal salvation, to her it was just a choice between dancing or her best friend. Naturally she picked what any 10 year old girl would pick, she picked the play dates with her friend. When I asked her 4 years later why she gave up dancing she looked like she was going to cry and she said that she was pressured into it. She said the sad thing was that she was no longer best friends with that girl, and that made me want to cry too.

These three stories can be tied together or these stories can stand alone. Just 3 little (but very big) stories to take you into the weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today is the day, the first day of preschool for my youngest child. This is also the first day I will be working at Preschool and I hear there will be an orientation to teach us what to do and how to do it. Sometimes I will be a Snack Parent and sometimes I will be an Art Parent and sometimes I will be a Cleaning Parent, and sometimes I will be the Tired Parent but I will get to be a hands on participant in my child's learning and that is exhausting, I mean exciting to me.

We had the opportunity to meet our Preschool teacher and she was very nice. We told her all about our Imaginary Friends. The first friend is Pada and Pada has been around for a long time. Pada and Dagadoo were the first two Imaginary Friends that came to live with us when our Preschooler was about 18 months old. Pada is very naughty, she has a hard time listening to instructions and does things like draws on the wall. Today she is very bratty, at least that is what I was just told. Sometimes Pada is a boy and sometimes Pada is a girl, but mostly a boy. Then there is Dagadoo, and Dagadoo is a baby. Dagadoo cries a lot and uses baby talk and likes to drink milk out of a bottle and needs a pacifier. And finally there is Julie. Julie is in 3rd grade and very big, she can run fast and is a good listener. Julie likes to read and do art projects. Julie bears a very close resemblance to our oldest daughter. We used to have a fourth Imaginary Friend named Noodle but Noodle kept getting eaten by Pada, Dagadoo and Julie so Noodle never came over to play after a while. Anyway, Teacher met all of our Imaginary Friends and met us and was very nice and friendly and disarming. Quite honesty, Teacher melted my heart and won me over by being super interested in our Imaginary Friends.

Our Preschooler has been telling me for the last 2 weeks that she is not going to like Preschool, that she is going to kick and hit and run away and that she is going to cry and not use the potty like a big girl and has been having night terrors and waking up screaming bloody murder. She has been whining and crying at the drop of the hat, fighting and stomping away and making me wonder if preschool is a good idea after all.

However, after meeting Teacher and having her meet all our Imaginary Friends, something tells me that even if my little one, Pada, Dagadoo or Julie doesn't like preschool, it doesn't matter because I am going to like it very much!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Good Will

I am not a decorator. In the past we never had money to buy nice things, using our money to buy food, pay the bills and keep us afloat until our ship came in. But now that I have a little spending money I thought it would be fun to go out and buy nice things for our house. It turns out that it is impossible because not only do I have a terrible sense of style that gets worse with each passing year but I also can't ever decide on what to get because having been poor for so long I now have no desire to spend money on something that I will end up hating a 2 weeks or have someone criticize because it doesn't match or is ugly.

I walked into the Goodwill looking for used Halloween costumes that I could either make over into something my kids will wear or that I could save money on and walked out with a heavy wooden Buddha picture that now lives in my downstairs bathroom. I almost put it back because I couldn't decide if it would look nice with all the other second hand and used stuff I own but when I saw it was only $13.99, (yes, Silicon Valley Goodwill is pricey) I decided I couldn't pass it up. I have to say that for the time being, it looks great in the bathroom.

I don't usually post bargain purchases on my blog but I wanted to pass along my Goodwill find and maybe you will find Good Will in something today, too.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


My father came to this country in the 60's in a time when people had to ask him where South Korea was because they didn't were not familiar with Asian countries. He married a Caucasian woman in a state, Maryland, where you had to prove you were not Black because Whites and Black's were not allowed to marry in this state. My mother tells that he had to convince the marriage license person he was not from the Philippines because Filipinos were on the list of people that had Black mixed races and the license issuing person didn't know where South Korea was in relationship to the Philippines. By the time I was born he was an American citizen, increasing the immigrant headcount by one more and for many years making me feel like this was a country that welcomed people from other places and situations and that made it a great big melting pot.

I have a good friend from Mexico that told me a story yesterday about her family's first trip to American soil. Her husband is a brilliant engineer and she is his brilliant wife. When they first got to Houston and went through customs they were met by a lady of Italian descent, I'm not sure how my friend knew she was a child of immigrants but that is because my Spanish is not as good as it once was and because there are holes in my brain. But she told me that the woman asked why they were coming into the U.S. and her husband told the woman he had been recruited by an important U.S. company to do brilliant things for them. This is the part of the story where I will be ad-libbing the exact dialogue that went down between these two. She looks at him and says, "Did you know my son has been out of work for three years?" My friend's husband very eloquently said "I don't have the pleasure of knowing your son but I am certainly sorry for his hardships in his career". To this the woman says, "it is because of people like you coming into this country and taking jobs away from Americans that he has no job", and then she waved him into the room here you go and have all your stuff X-rayed and you get treated like some drug smuggling mule that has a constipated look from carrying cocaine filled condoms up your ass for 12 hours.

I could go into the psychology of this woman and how medication or a job change would have helped her through her obvious problems with being a customs officer in the United States of America. Or how maybe her terrible parenting skills resulted in a deadbeat son who didn't have a job. Or how the company recruited my friend's husband and he had no fault - should he have turned the job down and said to the company, "Sorry Great Company but I really would like that Immigration lady's son to have this great job so maybe I'm gonna turn your lucrative offer down this time around but hang on so I can get you his number". Or how the U.S. should try to not employ complete morons at our customs departments, nothing like an incompetent and unprofessional welcoming committee. Or how our immigration and residency system is just as efficient and effective as the Coyote Human Smuggling system, that for big sweaty handfuls of cash, you can get residency the legal way just like the same big sweaty handfuls of cash will get you a trip over fences, through tunnels and in the dead of night with some guy named Francisco who might get you arrested and killed.

Part of my daughter's routine in school is to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance and here is how mine goes: I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it Stands, One Nation under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for Some.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Old School

When I was in high school there was a newspaper that came out every month or so and it had articles written by teachers and students it it, as well as pictures and poems. I can't remember what it was called, maybe Campus Connection or something prosaic like that, although I do have some old copies tucked away somewhere. It was very basic because you have to remember this was pre-internet and pre-photo-shop and pre-digital cameras - I'm sure there are some of you out there that can remember those days.

Anyway - I don't know about the other students at my school but I loved this paper. I loved reading about all the events at school and around school and seeing who contributed and if there were pictures of me, etc. I will have to admit that because I went to a small Prep school it made it even more fun to always be featured in some way in this paper. It made me feel like I was making my mark. It made me feel popular.

There was a section in this paper called Eyes and Ears. It was exactly what it sounds like, a gossip column. It was fantastic and whoever wrote it knew exactly what was going on and who was dating who and who was seen parking at the local make out spots and who held hands to Barry Mannilow during couples skate, who spent more money at the fall festival kissing Todd in the kissing booth and and more. I was always accused of being the person who wrote this but I wasn't and I would defend myself vehemently when accused because not only would I not expose my friends in this manner, I couldn't figure out who it was that knew so much but felt that also felt comfortable putting it in the school paper. When I look back, some of the stuff was pretty rude but the paper sponsor must not have had enough time to edit every article or maybe it was over their head.

I had a really good friend in high school who was always bemoaning my popularity, I didn't give it too much stock, I figured it was just a competition thing with her and brushed her off whenever she would start in about why she was never invited to parties or invited on dates by boys. I also felt very awkward whenever the subject would come up. I didn't want to admit I was popular because I didn't feel good about accepting that title but I also didn't want to have to address the things she was doing to cut herself out of social settings and invitations. Instead what I did was I went to parties and events and lied and didn't tell her or made up stories that my mother wouldn't let me go and had restricted my ability to go out. I lived in constant fear that she would find out I was betraying our friendship in this manner and would call me out as the fraud I knew I was.

It was either on graduation day or several days later we got together to talk about our lives when she revealed with great excitement that she had been the editor of the Eyes and Ears column and that she had gotten all her good gossip and tidbits of information from me! She said that she would giggle inside whenever I would get accused of being the editor of that column because she knew she could not tell me while she was writing it for fear I would stop telling her all the good stuff. I distinctly remember feeling sad and I knew that it had changed our friendship forever. I wasn't upset that she had taken the things I had told her and written them down, I was sad that we hadn't been honest with each other.

In the end, she never asked me how I knew all that stuff. And I never told her that her not telling me she was the editor of Eyes and Ears, had hurt my feelings. We are no longer in touch with each other and I ran into a mutual friend about 4 years ago and was told that she had told her that "Joy and I are no longer friends" and I wondered if that was part of the reason why?