Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Romy and Michelle
It seems like several significant life things are going on lately for me. But none scarier, or more age-defining than..... the Ten Year Highschool Reunion.

Oh yes. The Tyrant is that old.

So, my reunion is coming up this weekend. And it's brought a flurry of emotions and thoughts along with it. When I received the first announcement about it several months ago, I pretty much decided not to go. Why go? I don't talk to those people anymore. I didn't have a lot going for me (or so it seemed to me). Why waste the time and money? I decided I didn't need the blow to the ego.

Here was the situation at the time: I had a job I hated, no husband, no kids, no prospects for husband or kids, I don't even have a pet. I live within ten miles of where I went to highschool, and this also happens to be ten minutes from where my parents live. I also have no Pulitzer Prize, nor an Olympic medal, nor have I made it on any reality television shows. My novel isn't published, nor is it likely to be read by people who don't know me or who haven't read it, yet. And, worst of all, my hair greatly resembled something of the mullet genre.

It was a very dire situation.

But since then, some things have changed. I have a job I like now (we can call it an 'advertising career' for the purposes of the reunion festivities). I own a home (which technically I owned when the situation seemed bad, but it makes the story better to mention it now instead). I have a Boy (which is what has been taking up a lot of my blogging time lately), and he is most definitely going with me to this reunion thingy. And, while I haven't won any awards or medals, and I haven't published any of my writing, I do technically have a 'website' with 'merchandise'. And I'm way hotter than I was in highschool. I've had a haircut to rid my head from the mullet. And I can probably come up with a few good stories to make myself more interesting for a few hours this weekend.

All in all, the situation is much more presentable. Thusly, I am going to the reunion.

But, this whole thought process and freaking out over who I am and what I've done at this time in my life got me thinking. Ten years ago I went through four years of trying to fit in. We go to highschool and struggle through years of trying to be accepted, trying to impress people, wanting to be with the right crowds and do the right things, trying to make a name for ourself. By the end of those four years we hope to come away with a few accomplishments, some good relationships, and a promising future beyond the walls of that have kept us thus far.

We do a lot of work to be a part of highschool. Then ten years pass, and here I am again- finding myself trying to fit in with the same group of people. Why do we do this? Is highschool forever to be a cycle of trying to be 'someone'? I feel certain I'm not the only one concerned about the impression I will make amongst these people here in a few days.

I have kept in touch with no one from highschool. Not a one. For awhile I did. But things change, distance occurs, and eventually I lost touch. Occasionally I'll see someone or hear from someone. But for the most part, those friendships and acquaintances have drifted away over the years. Now suddenly, in just a few days, I'll be thrown back into another experience with them. The first round of highschool with them was significant. It is an important time. We learn a lot about who we are to be during highschool. We graduate. We take a big step from one life to another, and it's all with the same group of people. Ten years later, you're back with them to experience another milestone. Whether you liked any of them or not, whether you stayed friends or not, there they are again to go through another rite of passage with you.

Am I going to show up and find out I graduated with a Pulitzer Prize winner? Or an Olympic medalist? Someone famous? It's possible. But that doesn't make me any less worthy to be there with my story and my life. Yet, I probably am not the only one that has considered not going because I'm not sure what I have to show for the last ten years.

I realized, though, that when I really think about it, I remember very few people from highschool. I was in the band, and not only in the band, but I was the drum major. The head band nerd. The leader of them all. I knew a lot of people because the band was large and I was in charge of them all.

But, outside of those people I didn't know a lot of people. I mean, I knew them. I was popular enough. I mixed well with other groups because I was the 'cool' band person. But, I couldn't tell you now who the really popular kids were. Or the hottest guy. Or the prettiest girl. Maybe I just didn't pay attention. Or maybe I just remember the more important things about my time in highschool. Like, the best friend I had throughout that I no longer keep in touch with. Or the few guys I dated. Or the group of friends who went everywhere with me, the ones I 'belonged' with. Does it matter who was the most popular? I don't think so. I didn't especially love highschool. But thinking about it now, I had what I needed.

Tonight I got out my yearbooks in a last attempt to recall some faces and names and to remember what highschool was like. I have to say that after looking through them, I'm even more excited about the reunion. I can't really explain why. I'm not at all impressed with the way I really looked ten years ago (seriously, the hair?? what is up??) But maybe I just need to see and be around people that used to know me. Maybe I'm curious. Maybe I have a tiny bit of hope that there are still some friendships there for me.

Or perhaps I just need to see how far I've come. I read through a lot of the notes people wrote in my yearbooks. My best friend wrote a long letter that is truly one of the most beautiful things anyone has ever said or written to me. Man, I miss that. The "Best Friend". But many of the names written with the messages are names that I can't put a face with. I don't know who these people are. Granted, I graduated with 800 people, including two people sitting on either side of me at graduation that I'd never seen before the day of graduation. But still, you'd think the ones who took the time to write in my book would evoke some sort of memory of them.

Anyway, there were several common themes in my yearbook messages:
- you're funny. really funny. we didn't hang out but you made class funny. stay funny.
- you're sarcastic. really sarcastic. it's really funny. stay sarcastic.
- congrats on making drum major. you should make band funny. finally, a funny drum major.
- congrats on making drum major. you're a great leader. we need a great leader.
- it was great getting to know you better this year.
- you're so cool. and i really mean that.
- here's my phone number. let's hang out this summer.

Seriously, I'm surprised at the number of phone numbers in my yearbooks. Not that it means people were actually anxious to hang out with me. But I have to wonder what would have happened with all those people if I'd actually called all the phone numbers with, "Hey, you said we'd hang out. You put your phone number in my yearbook." It would probably teach them to not give out their phone number so easily. Maybe I should call them now.... you said we'd hang out! Hang out with me!!

I wonder if I handed a 'yearbook' or even just a blank sheet of paper to my friends now and told them to write something to me, if the sentiments would be similar to what I found in my yearbook. I don't think they would be. I'd still get the comments about being funny. I think that's probably what people know best about me. But I'm not sure people would recognize leadership in me now. I tend to steer clear of responsibility these days. And it would be interesting to see what else they see in me or notice about me (besides my killer good looks....) to compare with what people saw in me ten years ago. What I really wonder is how well people think they know me, versus how well I let them know me.

I'm pretty sure that knowing me now is completely different than knowing me then. And I'm almost certain 'knowing' me then was just that- 'knowing', in a vague sense of the word. I don't think I let people really know me in highschool. I was funny, I was 'on', I could get the laugh, I could lead a group. That's all people really needed to know about me. I don't think I really even knew myself. I'm still not sure I really do, but I do know I have let more people since highschool and who know me now really know me.

If I've accomplished nothing else in the ten years since highschool, that one ranks pretty high in my book. I'm proud of that. I probably won't start many conversations at the reunion with that tidbit of information (I don't want to be laughed at for the wrong reasons - I do have a funny reputation to uphold). But for me, letting people really know me is a bigger accomplishment than a Pulitzer anyday. And tonight, realizing that difference from ten years ago, well, I feel pretty good.

Too bad Romy and Michelle invented Post It Notes, though. I was going to use that one for me.....

I'll keep you 'posted' on the reunion festivities. HA! See? I'm still funny....


Sunday, September 26, 2004

So much to say.
There's a lot going on for me right now. I hope to blog about all or most of it soon enough. Exciting things, new things, and just moments I've had and thoughts that come with the moments that I'd like to share if I can find a way to get it all on a page in words that make sense. It's an interesting time for me right now.

I'm like, growing and stuff. And I don't mean taller or larger.

Tonight I am very tired and longing for my bed and good sleep, but I have things I want to say and thoughts busily running amok in my head. I've noticed lately I've been a bit shy about blogging and getting personal on the blog. Lots of eyes read this, and I've been more self-conscious of what I write lately, unsure of how much to share with such a wide variety of eyes. Some who know me, many who don't. And some who are a part of what goes on with me, the things I experience, these thoughts that are provoked. I've discovered it's a fine line between sharing myself and opening up a bit more than is comfortable for me, and maybe sharing too much.

It's easy to write to an audience I can't see. There are no eyes looking back at me, intimidating me, helping me filter what I say and share. Is this all stuff I want people to know? Is it okay to write about what goes on with me? Or do I sometimes forget that when I put it here on the blog, people will know it. It's not just a book or journal that I write into here. It's a story I'm telling, and people read it. It's been awhile since I've struggled with that on the blog. But I think it's mostly because I'm just out of practice from blogging regularly. I have to remind myself that I put things out here that I want people to know. It's good for me. It's safe.

Well, mostly safe.

So, back to what I want to say for now. I just returned from a quick weekend in California, visiting some friends. These are people who I love dearly and who have blessed me tremendously in the time I've known them, just in knowing them. I always come back from time with them feeling great. They love me. And I always know that when I'm with them. We are family in a not-actually-related sense (although I'm pretty sure their son gets some of his unique qualities from Crazy Auntie Tyrant - especially his talents and good looks). I treasure the family they are to me.

I don't even really know how we became friends. We've never lived in the same city, or even the same state. I met Friend J through a network of organizations that worked together at a job I had several years ago. We would see each other at conferences, and we'd chat. Then we were chatting more, and eventually keeping up with each other outside of work related events. Finally we discovered that she is weird and I am weird, and we decided to know each other for a long time and ever after (she bought me a thing for my wall that says as much). We match. We get each other. It's good.

Friend J's husband is a Marine. He's been a Marine for a long time. Not active, but still Marine-ing. Recently, however, he was re-activated and inevitably shipped off to Iraq for too many months. This was when his Marine-ish-ness became real to me. This is what he does. It's very bizarre. I know him in California. I've never actually seen him do any Marine stuff. It doesn't fit that he was not there for a long time, and instead in the middle of this Iraq stuff I keep seeing on TV.

Last week he came back from Iraq. This weekend we threw him a party. I was there for the going away party months ago. I was glad to be able to go to California for the welcoming home party this weekend. These people mean the world to me. I very much wanted to see him home, with his family, as things should be.

I only had a short weekend with them, but I came home with a new respect for what these guys (and girls) do way over there in Iraq. He showed me a slideshow he made of pictures during his time there, and I looked through all 600-plus pictures more than once, just mesmerized at what his life was like for the past eight months. Stuff you don't see on TV. Scenes of Marines and helicopters and desert, but with my Marine Friend J's face mixed in every once in awhile. Except it was Marine Friend J loaded down in Marine gear and large guns.

The last time I saw him, he was rolling around the floor with his tiny son, in pj's, reading a book out loud in silly voices. Not at all Marine-like.

It made the whole Iraq thing very real. The pictures, seeing him now after so many months of being shot at regularly while flying helicopters in the desert. He looked good, but tired. He seemed good, but different. Maybe it was his desert farmers tan, having only previously ever seen him as white, or as sunburned as I ever am. Never tan. It was odd to see him tan.

I have to admit, I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to the Iraq thing. It's far away, it's been going on for awhile. It's faces and people I don't know. Except now my friend has a weird tan from too much time in the desert. And there are 600-plus pictures of proof that it isn't so far away, it is people we know..... and it will continue going on for awhile.

Marine Friend J has to go back to Iraq in April.

In looking through the pictures, I realized the sacrifice these people make. The close quarters, the all-Marines all-the-time, the less-than-tantalizing food-type-stuff, the group bathroom experience. The heat. My God, the heat! It's not anything like home. But the sacrifice is not unique to just the men and women who go to Iraq. It's also the families who are left here. My heart has been broken for Friend J and Son A while Marine J has been gone. They've had to keep going without dad around to be a part of things as he usually is. Son A is almost two years old now, and in the time his dad has been in Iraq he has learned to walk and talk. Marine J returned to a family that was quite different than when he left. And if it were me, this might be harder than the whole eight months away. Fitting back into a life that went on without me. And knowing I'll have to do it all again before it all has time to sink in and feel right again.

Whether or not you agree with what is going on in Iraq or how the U.S. is handling the situation, remember that it really comes down to people. Lives. Families. Sacrifices.

Those guys over there with guns are the same guys you see here in pj's.

Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Miss The Tyrant?
Well, don't forget you can take her with you wherever you go.

I haven't promoted the store in awhile, but in case you haven't been there in awhile this is to let you know there are new items in The Tyrant Store, lower prices, and so much fun you will hardly be able to stand it.

And yes, there is now a yellow shirt. Or two.

Support the Tyrant. Buy stuff.


Things on my mind lately....
It's the simple things, really.

1. Why does Hallmark make 'good-bye' cards, but does not also make 'welcome home' cards? Do people never come back?

2. Why are UPS trucks white on top, but brown everywhere else? No one sees the top of the truck unless you look down on it from above. I've done this. The top is white. Did they run out of paint after doing the sides?

3. Do birds have personalities? I'm pretty sure dogs have different personalities. Some are nice. Some are mean. But what about birds? I saw two birds hanging out the other day. They looked like they were getting along fine. Then one bird started pecking at the other bird. Do they just do that? Or was that a mean bird picking on a non-mean bird?

4. There's a fine line between being cool and not being cool. In highschool it was not cool to listen to Ace of Base. Now? I'm fairly certain it's retro cool to drive around with the windows down in the Jeep, blasting Ace of Base. Or Wilson Phillips.

5. You know you're in good company when you are with two other people in the front seat of a truck for eight-or-so-hours of drive time, with only a radio, bad radio stations, and each other to keep the three of you entertained ... but you don't miss having more leg room and a CD player to help pass the time.

It's the simple things.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

The One About the Grief
So, recently there was this again. It's been five years now.

I didn't really intend to write anything about it this year. But in conversations lately, I've noticed that some give advice or perspective with the qualifier that they've never dealt with grief before. As though the help is less valuable or effective because they haven't been there, and whatever they say might not make a difference because grief is big. This 'disclaimer' got me thinking.

Yes, grief is big.

But as I've thought about it, it's a lot like everything else we deal with. We've all dealt with some form of grief, whether it's the loss of a relationship, or a job, or just something that disappoints us. Or we've all dealt with tough things that are tough to us, even if it can't be considered grief. Grief in it's purest, scariest form, when we lose someone in death or when big tragedy strikes, is huge. It's debilitating. It wrecks your life for awhile.

But really it's just an intense form of things we've all dealt with.

I realize that for each of us, the things we go through are ours. We feel it at that time, and it hurts, and it's very real to us. A break-up could be the worst thing we've ever dealt with. Time passes and it's still hard. It hurts. And that's what we're struggling with right now. It's not the end of the world, or comparatively as bad as things other people may be dealing with, or even reasonable to those who watch how we deal with it. But it's ours. It's real. It hurts.

It takes a lot to share grief with those you know have never been through it. I admire those who can receive it and still be brave enough to share their own perspective on dealing with things. People dealing with loss and pure grief can be scary sometimes. It's a situation we all fear to have to deal with ourselves someday, and when those around us are going through it, it becomes a little more of a reality. It's not pretty.

But, it just happens that at this time in my life the loss of my sister is the worst thing I've dealt with. It just happens to be a big thing. I didn't ask for it. But I also don't necessarily deserve for it to not have happened to me, either. It's just what happened. Sometimes things just suck.

But sometimes the best advice and perspective I get is from those who haven't dealt with grief, yet. Their vision isn't clouded by absolute rock bottom. I'm glad to have them, and their thoughts. Because sometimes in the middle of the toughest thing you've ever dealt with, your perspective hovers around doom and gloom. You get caught up in this being the toughest thing ever. It's hard to see around that.

So, it's nice to hear the view from someone that hasn't been in your shoes, yet. They're more qualified to offer perspective than they think.

And really, it's all the same. Whether you're sad over a lost job, or a boyfriend, or a relationship that didn't work out the way you thought it would, or you're sad over the death of someone close. The feelings are the same. It's all real. It all takes time. It all hurts. It's all good perspective.

Grief is just a little more intense.

So, here's to five years of intense, and to good people who remind me that it doesn't always have to be intense.


Can you take a frog to the ER?
Animals at my house don't fair well. It's not intentional. Things just happen.

I've discovered over the past few weeks that I have a frog. He lives in my yard. Typically I find him in the evenings near my water faucet when I'm watering the yard. He is small. He hops around. We are friends.

The frog went on vacation this week to visit the air conditioning unit on the side of the house. He should have let me know of his plans. Tragedy might have been avoided.

As I worked in my yard on Friday afternoon, it happened. I was routinely weed-eating my yard, as I do every week. The frog was not a thought in my mind. I made my way around the to the air conditioning unit and proceeded to weed-eat the grass and whatnot around the unit. As I always do.

Suddenly, I noticed some movement in the grass, followed by a trail a large spots of blood. Very bright red blood. Had I just weed-eaten my toe and not known it?

I checked. All toes accounted for.

Then I saw the frog. He was hobbling away from me, followed by a trail of the blood blobs, and dragging a lifeless leg behind him.

I weed-ate the frog's leg.

I immediately stopped weed-eating to attend to the injured frog situation. What do I do? This frog is my friend. I've taken other friends to the ER. Can I take a frog to the ER? I wasn't sure.

I decided probably not.

But, I felt horrible. This frog trusted me. We had a good frog/yard owner relationship. And I had abused that by severing a limb. He had now crawled underneath the air-conditioning unit, and was peering out at me.

Oh, the look of betrayal and pain in his eyes! I swear I hadn't meant to de-leg him. I just hadn't seen him until it was too late!

I apologized profusely.... until I realized that I was standing in my yard apologizing to a frog. Then I got ahold of myself and finished my yardwork. With a heavy heart, mind you. I did actually shed a tear.

Once the yard was finished I came back to check on the frog. He was still underneath the a/c, staring at me. I decided there was nothing I could really do for him. I fear he will die from bleeding to death.

Or, he will grow old and large, forever hobbled by a stumpy leg. He will be angry and attack small children and old ladies that pass by, hurling things at them with his good leg.

If only it had been one of the 57 stray cats that have inhabited my yard lately. I wouldn't feel so bad, and I would still have a frog as my friend.