Monthly Archives: February 2010

Modern Day Letters from 3 Women

I get a lot of email. Yesterday I got over 80 messages in my gmail box (which is actually 5 accounts that come into one “box”). I have not checked other email accounts, but I imagine that yesterday I received well over 100 emails in all of my accounts together — closer to 200 if you include the account that houses emails from freecycle and DC Web Women lists.

In a typical week I receive maybe one personal email (not counting  work emails or the emails that alert me to comments on my blog or emails from the email lists I manage asking how to do this or that).  Sometimes I get a little annoyed that of all those emails none is directed personally to me. None ask how I am or what I’ve been up to. But then how many of those emails do I send out myself? Um… None?

So I was surprised and delighted when I received three personal emails yesterday all from women who have been important parts of my life.

The first email arrived around 8:30 am and was from a woman who was the principal at a school where I taught when we first moved to the DC area. She left the area, but we kept in touch for a few years. We lost touch for a while but Linked-In got us back in touch. The years I worked at her school were the best years in my teaching career. She was a wonderful principal and I’m glad she is working as a principal again. I’m envious of the teachers who work with her.

The second email was even more of a surprise, but should not have been since I’d sent an email to this person a few days ago. It was a surprise because more than half of me thought I would not get a response and as the days went by I expected a response less and less.

The email was from a woman who was my roommate when I first moved out of my parent’s house. I was a late bloomer, so that was when I was 23 or so. Maybe 24. She and I met in 1974 — she was a Jeremy’s schoolmate and friend. We were pen pals during the time Jeremy and I were a “couple” and after we broke up this woman came to the US for a visit. She liked it so much she came back as soon as she could and moved into an apartment with me on Mosley Street in Elgin. We had a bit of a rough time — I wasn’t used to roommates. I was envious of her blond hair, beautiful face and ease with other people. We parted on bad terms sometime early in 1980 and never spoke again.

Well, through a series of fortunate events (and my superior stalking research skills) I was able to obtain her email address (from her brother) and wrote her a brief and apologetic email on February 12.

She wrote me that she’d also been thinking about me and that she was happy that I found her and would like to keep in touch. She also mentioned she was in the hospital and had come close to not making it a few days ago.  I pray for her speedy recovery. I still can’t believe we’re in touch again.

The third email was not really a surprise at all, because I’d emailed the sender yesterday morning. She was a neighbor when we lived in Alexandria and one of the few people I feel completely at ease with. I wish we’d see each other more often, but it just doesn’t happen.

Keeping in touch is something I used to be much better at. I used to have at least 3 pen pals at a time. Writing letters was a high point in my day. I rarely write letters anymore — finding addresses, putting stamps on them and sending them just seems too much bother. I’m better with emails but I don’t always remember to  follow through.  I’m going to try to remember my joy at receiving the 3 emails yesterday and be more conscientious about emailing people I care about more often. I might even write a real letter now and then.

[Update: The English friend is out of the hospital and at home. The clot was dissolved.]

My Mother, My Boss [Part 2 of My Mother Series]

It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I was able to understand my relationship with my mom.  I’m still not sure I understand it fully — and it might not be until my kids have kids that I do, but it is getting a little clearer as the years go by.

One of the hardest aspects of the relationship is that of authority figure. I’m pretty sure that, from a very young age, I rebelled against authority figures — except I was too shy to rebel in front of anyone other than my family, so most of that rebellion manifested itself into rage at home when I was not given my way or disciplined in anyway. I had temper tantrums and screaming fits. I once picked up a pile of newspapers and as I went to fling them on top of a brand new dining room table realized that something very heavy was among the papers. I flung them anyway and put a dent in that table that is there to this day.

My mom wasn’t all that strict. In fact she was pretty lenient. I was a “good” kid for the most part, except for the tantrums at home. There were times, however that she put her foot down — or at least made suggestions that made me uncomfortable. Like the time she thought I should talk to the popular kids that were in the same store as we were. Or the time that she suggested I stop by the office at school to see if anyone turned in my lost purse that held my retainer because I’d lost so many retainers we were going to have to pay for the next one. I remember the feeling I had about those experiences. My chest felt tight, my throat closed up. I clenched my teeth and fists. My breathing quickened. I was mad. I didn’t want to talk to Laura Holtz. I’d already asked at the office about my lost purse. I didn’t need suggestions. I just needed to be left alone.

I don’t have temper tantrums much anymore. I still occasionally “lose it”, but not like the old days. I still have trouble with authority figures though. Basically, I don’t like being told what to do — especially if I was already planning on doing it or if I had reasons for not doing it. I also have trouble when I’m questioned about an action. I guess in that case I get defensive.

I don’t usually have trouble taking orders from someone who employs me. I try to do the job I’m given. I never had much trouble with teachers or professors — I expected assignments and did them.  The authority figures I have the most trouble with are the ones that one day are my friend or associate and the next day are president of the PTA or a neighborhood or not-for profit-board member for whom I do some odd (volunteer) jobs. I have trouble when they give me assignments — or micromanage whatever tasks I’ve taken upon myself — especially if I’ve been doing it alone for years and they come in and want to change things. Sometimes, even,  my anger can rise when a friend (or my husband) seems to be taking over something I’ve planned.

The anger is the same as what I felt when my mom would make suggestions. And I find myself thinking in a rebellious teenage voice, You Can’t Tell Me What To Do. You’re Not My Mother!

I never do say that aloud, but I don’t always handle it well either. Sometimes I explain my reasoning. Sometimes I reply angrily. Mostly I say nothing, take a deep breath and move on although occasionally I tweet about it or make it my Facebook status.

New Comment Software

I’m testing a new comment software to see how I like it. It might be more annoying than not because a pop-up box will always ask if you want to log in to disqus. You do not need to log into anything to comment here. Let me know if it is too much bother and I’ll go back to the old way.

My Mother, My Self — Part 1

My mother and me 1965
My mother and me 1965

Last night I dreamed I was going to be the 103 lb wrestler for my son’s wrestling team in a tournament. For some reason (the snows perhaps) the rules of who could wrestle for the team were relaxed so that the parent of a wrestler could fill in for another wrestler. Even in the dream I must have realized how wrong this was — and not only because it’s been 10 years since I was 103 lbs — because I reasoned with myself that I was just a filler. There was no way I’d win the match.

Anyway as I was getting ready to leave with Dean and Andrew, my mom walked into the room and said she was going to go too — that she’d missed so many wrestling meets this year.

It is not unusual for my mom to pop up in a dream. When I dream of being at home (meaning my current home) the house is often the house in which I grew up and my mom is always there. She’s often in dreams in which I dream of my husband and children.

I think I’ve known this for a long time, but never wanted to admit it, but when my mom is in those dreams she is me. Even if I am in the dream, I think my mother represents me. She’s usually doing the right thing, while the other me is goofing around or as in last night’s dream, trying to get the scale to work while everyone is waiting in the car to go to the tournament. In the dream from last night she made the decision to not make dinner, but to pick it up on the way — and if I need to cut weight could eat the sandwich after weighing in.

I think she is the authority figure in the dreams (I’ll write more about how I perceive authority figures in my life in a later post) but I don’t seem to have a problem with that — in dreams.

Today is my mom’s birthday. I’m glad she was going to be there to watch me wrestle, but luckily for the team and me, I woke up before I even got to the tournament.

[And just so you know — Mom’s alive and well and even on Facebook]

I have issues: Part 4 — Fear of Annoying People

I hate to be a bother. I hate to annoy people. I get worked up about possibly saying the wrong thing to someone at a party and worry about it the next day, and beyond. I don’t know how normal this is. I don’t normally talk about it, but I know it is the root of a few of my character flaws, like why I usually wait for people to call me, rarely initiate things with friends and why I dislike asking for help of any kind. I don’t want to bother them if they are in the middle of something. I don’t want to annoy them with my request. I don’t run my air conditioner if I don’t absolutely have to because a neighbor complained that it was loud — I wouldn’t want to bother her in her quietly air conditioned house. I just want to live my life and not be a bother to anyone.

Until the past couple of years this issue only manifested itself in real life, but lately I’ve been more conscious of feeling this way about my online interactions. For instance, when I first became active in Facebook I had all sorts of things streaming on my “wall”. I had my twitter feed and my friendfeed sent to my Facebook wall. I also allowed whatever app I was using on Facebook to be sent to my wall. These notices were then sent to my Facebook friends’ newsfeeds and I annoyed at least one person enough that he deleted me from his friends. When I asked him about it he suggested I join twitter if I wanted to update my status as often as I seemed to be updating it. I explained that it was twitter that was doing it.

Anyway, after that I tried to limit what was posted to my wall. I made a few mistakes, but seemed to be doing fine. Lately, however, a number of people are posting status reports that they are annoyed by other people’s wall posts. Of course (another of my issues is thinking that I’m to blame for everything) I assumed they were talking about my wall posts. Was my app/external site usage being seen by my followers and I didn’t know it? I searched the settings and double checked that what I was doing on Facebook was not annoying anyone. Not bothering them.

And then there is this blog. The theme or the plugins or the widgets is causing problems with commenting and viewing. I’ve spent entire days troubleshooting and have not found an answer.

This is one issue that is not going to be fixed by writing a post about it. I expect that I’ll have this issue until the day I die. I imagine it is part of a larger issue.

So if I annoy you in real life or on Facebook or on Twitter or on my blog, please accept my apologies. I really don’t do it on purpose.

17 Airedale Drive

17 Airedale Drive in 1974
17 Airedale Drive in 1974

17 Airedale Dr
Horsforth, Leeds
LS18 5ED
UK

I don’t know how many times I wrote that address on letters and packages nor how many times getting a letter or package from that address made me very happy. Hundreds probably. I do know, however, that I’ll never write it on a letter again nor will I ever receive a letter from that address. (Although, in all honesty, it has been years since I did send a letter to 17 Airedale Drive.)

You see, it has been sold, or I’m fairly certain it has been sold. Yes, a Google search confirms it has been sold. I suspected as much when I received Jeremy’s Christmas letter this year and saw that Pat, his mother, moved into his house after a 6 month stay in a hospital.

17 Airedale Drive in 2009
17 Airedale Drive in 2009

Jeremy and his family lived at 17 Airedale Drive when I first met them. 17 Airedale Drive was where I stayed during my visits to England between 1974 and 1979. I have a lot of wonderful memories of that house with its beautiful rose garden in front and the front door with the stained glass window. I remember sharing Jeremy’s room with Sue and, on another visit sleeping in the tiny bedroom in front. I remember the kitchen with the tiny pass-through door to the dining room and the front lounge area with the comfy furniture. I remember the back garden where I had my first bread, cheese and wine meal.

So today I found myself Googling 17 Airedale Drive to see if it had been sold and saw that Google Street View was implemented along Airedale Drive. I’d been waiting for this — it was not in place when I wrote my entry about Google Street View in my neighborhood. I wanted to see what 17 Airedale Drive looked like now.

I sort of wish I hadn’t though. Jack’s roses are gone. A side addition was built — probably to expand the kitchen. But perhaps that was there in 2002 when we visited Pat. The back garden looks nice though — but the mural Jeremy painted on the garage doors is gone.

So someone else is living at 17 Airedale Drive. Someone is making their own memories in that house. Do they, I wonder, ever stop and think about the memories already made there? Probably not. And that’s okay.