Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Re Unions

I went to my 25th high school reunion this weekend.  I went to a very small Adventist High School that sits on the edge of a very small Adventist college campus where many of us continued our schooling once high school was over.  It is small, there were at most 125 students in all while I was there and my graduating class was only 25 or 26 kids.  Only 9 of us showed up this weekend to celebrate the years we spent together in this small conservative school in this small conservative town called Angwin.

My family  moved to Angwin when I was 14 and because it was the place we stayed the longest in my whole life, it is the place I have always considered home.  It is hard sometimes to visit because nobody from my family lives there - they have all left - and our old home, the place where I lived off an on for nearly 15 years,  belongs to someone else.  But I digress, this is about my reunion.

While there were lots of weird and creepy stuff that went on in this small religious community and this even smaller religious Prep school, there were equal amounts if not better amounts of great, fun, fabulous, gut wrenching, show stopping, hilarious and crazy stuff that happened.  So the 9 of us met at the school around 2:45 or 3:00pm and walked around the halls and looked at pictures, peeked in classrooms, retold stories and laughed and giggled.  I almost started crying at one point.

I realized a couple of things while we were there, first of all it smells exactly the same.  I'm not sure why but it does.  And secondly the school is so small.  And I remember it being so big.  And finally, I started to act like a moron while I was there, almost like I was 15 or 16 again and sliding back into my high school Joy persona.  Very very very silly and fun.

Then we went to another friend's house and drank punch and looked at old yearbooks and laughed and talked.  And from there we went to St. Helena to dinner and talked and laughed some more and then we went to another bar and all the really good stuff started coming out.  We talked about who dated who.  We talked about who didn't date who.  We talked about who didn't show up and why.  We talked about who we were glad didn't show up and why.  We talked about who was married the longest and who had been married the most times.  We talked about Tom who died.  We talked until there was nothing left to talk about and then we went to sleep.

As I got in the car and drove down the hill this morning I felt good, glad I had come and seen the old place.  Glad I spent time with Lorna.  Glad I stopped at the College Market and bought those nasty veggie hot dogs my kids love.  And glad to be going back home to my family.  But I can't wait to come back and see it again because it is very much a part of who I am. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

South Korea

We said goodbye to friends who are leaving California and going back to their country, South Korea.  We have known them a very long time and have enjoyed their company, laughter, cultural differences, having and raising children, work, delicious dishes and much much more over the last 8 years.  We went out to dinner with them on Thursday to enjoy one last Korean meal together before we said our goodbyes and hugged them over and over and promised to someday meet each other again either here or in South Korea. 

When I quit my job in Portland and my husband quit his job in Portland and we moved to Davis so he could go to school, we had to start again from the beginning.  He had not been in school full time in a few years and I had never been a stay at home Mom.  Shortly after moving we met our Korean friends and started to converse with stilted English as they had just moved to California and were still picking up words, sayings, slang, and learning their way around this sleepy and hot Northern California town.  

We ended up spending a whole lot of time together in the end.  I took care of their son for over 3 years while I was raising my babies.  Our kids napped together, they ate together, they played together, they fought together.  We celebrated birthday's together and we spent a lot of time either at their house or at our house.  I learned how to cook a bunch of really delicious Korean dishes from scratch and I learned how to make 4 very delicious kinds of kimchi.  I learned how to say more dirty words in Korean and I learned how to say them very well. 

When we went to hug each other goodbye - I didn't mean to start crying.  We had been all smiles and jokes until that moment.  But we both started to sob at the same second and then we couldn't let go of each other.  We just stood in the parking lot as our kids ran around and our husbands watched and hugged each other and cried.  And I realized that while I will miss being a part of their lives, they will also miss being a part of ours.  And how lucky we were for 8 years to have each other.

Monday, September 10, 2012


So yesterday I got to spend the day with my very favorite 15 year old niece in the whole wide world.  She is going to an Adventist boarding school in Healdsburg and so I drove up to my in-laws on Saturday night, spent the night and then headed up to the school on Sunday morning to pick her up bright and early.  My mother in law loaned me her very adorable and brand spanking new car to drive which is a super Fiat 500 and so when I pulled up she thought I had gotten a new car!  We had so much fun zipping around Santa Rosa in this tiny but speedy little toy.

After checking out her new room we got in the car and drove down to Santa Rosa and had brunch at this cute Bistro.  She had a full stack of pancakes with strawberries and I had Chilaquiles (my favorite Mexican breakfast, lunch and dinner), but the best part of this meal was talking to Heidi and seconded by the French Press coffee that I got hot at the table and sipped throughout breakfast. We must have sat there for over an hour just chatting and laughing.  We could have sat there all day!

Then we hit the mall.  And we got lost in the labyrinth of Forever 21.  I vaguely remember this store becoming popular when I was in my early 30's.  I always felt way too old to shop at this store but I certainly enjoyed helping my niece pick out some cute jeans and tops.  It was the opposite of what shopping is like with my kids.  And most of the clothes were super skanky but we got the 3 or 4 items that were not skanky because she has a strict dress code at school that doesn't include anything skank.

We did some other fun stuff like go to the movies and grocery shop for her little dorm room fridge and microwave and all the time talking and laughing and catching up!  And while I don't get boarding school and I'm pretty sure none of my kids will ever go to a boarding school, Heidi is pretty amazing in my book and so I imagine I will be making monthly trek's up to Healdsburg to see her and hang out.

Look out Healdsburg!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


One of the things that I always knew growing up was that I would someday struggle with my weight.  I knew it every time I looked at a picture of my grandmother.  I knew it every time I looked at a picture of her mother.  I knew it when I looked at certain pictures of my mother.  I knew it when I looked at pictures of myself.  It wasn't so hard in my 20's and early 30's to keep it off.  I prided myself on being able to drop 5 pounds in a week by just sticking to cottage cheese and cucumber slices and that was because I hated cottage cheese.  I exercised obsessively to the point of exhaustion many many times.  I lived on diet cokes. 

And while I exercise daily and I like to think that I prepare healthy and mostly vegetarian meals I have a middle section that I like to think of as a survival technique.  When I was a child I was raised Seventh Day Adventist and we would hear about a "time of trouble" when food would be scarce and people would have to run for the hills.  I will not be the first to die if and when this occurs. 

We visited my folks  last weekend and whether or not my mother intends to do this, she always manages to somehow mention my weight and how fat I am whenever I see her.  When I was a teen I would just make a joke and ignore her.  When I was in my 20's I didn't have to hear it because I was thin.  When I was in my late 30's and having babies I would make a joke and tell her it was baby fat.  Now that I'm in my 40's I just ignore her.  But she still has to bring it up.

Last week I took the girls to the mall.  We were sitting near this Starbucks/Pretzel place so I could enjoy a coffee while they enjoy these hot pretzels.  Next to us was a Spanish speaking family and from the sound of their Spanish they were most likely Mexican.  The mother was holding a baby and bottle feeding it and a young boy about age 5 was walking around wearing a new backpack his parents had just bought him.  His parents admired his backpack and then his father said, "Oye, ven aqui Gordo".  For those of you that don't speak Spanish he called his kid "Fatty".  And then he proceeded to call his son "Fatty" evey time he talked to him.  "Si Gordo, No Gordo, Porque Gordo, No hagas eso Gordo, Dejalo Gordo, Come mas Gorgo"  I started wondering if maybe he had forgone Jose, Juan, Jesus for a more descriptive name, Gordo.  Of course it didn't help that the kid was about as wide as he was tall. 

I've heard people explain that in Latin culture calling a child an adjective is a term of endearment.  It is the equivalent of sweetie or honey or precious or lovely in English.  At our house we don't let the girls use the word fat to describe someone, they use the word round.  For example, "Hey look at that fat chick" sounds so much worse than "hey look at that round chick".  See? 

It is all in the way you say it.  I know my Mom probably heard that kind of stuff when she was a kid and so that is why she says it to me.  I also know she isn't Latin so she definitely isn't passing out terms of endearment.  But imagine how sweet it would be if she was.