Monthly Archives: December 2012

The (mixed) message of the season

I just did something really, really hard.

It was hard because I knew I would be hurting someone’s feelings, and I so didn’t want to do that. But it had to be done, and it couldn’t be done by anyone else but me, and so I took a deep breath, screwed up my courage, and made the call.

This is the sort of thing where you think to yourself, once it’s over, you’ll feel better for having done it. Only I don’t. If anything, I feel worse.

Sometimes Christmas is so not the most wonderful time of the year. I mean, obviously there’s a lot to love about it, but at the same time there’s so much about it that’s very, very difficult.

The thing is, this whole month, and the whole Christmas season is, as best as I can see, just one big fat mixed message.

And that message is: Be generous, but also be selfish. Or, put another way: this is the time to be good and kind and giving to others, especially your loved ones. But be sure to be good and kind and giving to yourself.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: When the stresses of the season get to be too much for you, cut back, let go, don’t feel you have to do it all. Adjust your expectations. Something you get used to hearing every year about this time, isn’t it?

Right. But you know what? I don’t exist in some kind of vacuum; the fact is, I’m not the only one with expectations. And to the extent that my expectations involve other people in my little world, or theirs involve me, the butterfly effect of that adjustment can be massive.

So, here we are. In the interest of being good and kind and giving to myself, I just made a big mess out of my relationship with someone close to me. Which is sort of the opposite of what one hopes to be achieving this time of year.

Now I need to spend a little time sitting and thinking about how I can put things right with her again. At the moment I don’t know what that will look like, but it’s one Christmas gift I know I need to give.

How about you? Ever found yourself balancing on the fence between what you know you need to do for someone else and what you need to do for yourself?

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The invisible (wo)man

Honolulu is a big city, nearly a million people live on my little island, but really it’s just a largish small town.

Put in terms of degrees of separation: if you’ve lived here for any amount of time, especially if you were born and raised here, we’re talking more like one or two, certainly not six.

A month ago The Coach achieved a bit of a milestone with respect to his coaching career. Let’s just say it was a very, very good night for The Coach and his team.

That night he received over 20 congratulatory text messages, and nearly as many emails.

The following night, a Saturday, we had been invited to go out to dinner with our best friends, and upon entering the restaurant — which is a pretty small restaurant, by the way; maybe two dozen tables — we saw three couples we knew, who all made a point of coming over to our table to shake The Coach’s hand and congratulate him on his achievement of the night before.

Sunday morning, The Coach and I went out for breakfast at our favorite little (yes, also tiny; what is it with us and small eateries?) neighborhood coffee shop, and two more people recognized him and offered congratulations.

So I’m married to something of a local celebrity. Which is kind of a challenge for me, on a couple levels. For one, I don’t possess even close to the same kind of face or name recognition that my husband does. In fact, apparently I have an ordinary, sort of forgettable face, because it’s rare for people to remember me, even after being introduced to me multiple times. This happens all the time.

On the other hand, no one ever forgets The Coach. So therefore,¬†in these sorts of public situations, we’re kind of having the opposite experience.

I’ve gotten used to it. I admit it’s still irksome to have to re-introduce myself to people I already know, but because I no longer expect people to remember me, I’m mostly done being overly bothered by it. I’ve accepted my invisibility.

And being invisible is not so bad. In a way it’s a good fit for my personality type, which is introverted. (INFJ, for you Myers-Briggs folks.) Being invisible allows me to do a certain amount of observation, while I’m going mostly unobserved. Meaning that, while you’re engaged in conversation with The Coach and ignoring and/or forgetting me, I, on the other hand, am mentally salting away all sorts of information about you.

I’m not saying I missed my calling or anything, but I might have made a good spy. Hmm, I wonder if the CIA has any openings for middle-aged, nondescript matrons. Because I think I can do invisible like a pro.

29 years

Every year on December 5th, The Coach and I celebrate our anniversary.

And by “anniversary,” I don’t mean our wedding anniversary. It’s the anniversary of our first date.

And by “celebrate,” I don’t mean we actually have a celebration of some kind. More like we remember the day, or recognize it, or briefly acknowledge it.

And by “every year,” I don’t mean every year, exactly. Often, in the past two or fifteen years or so, only one of us may have remembered December 5th and gotten a card or something (this year: yours truly). I have to admit that some years both of us have forgotten the day. More than once, several days will have gone by when one of us will say, “Hey, wasn’t December 5th a few days ago?”

Anyway, 29 years ago, The Coach and I went on our first date. It was not your conventional dinner-and-a-movie type of thing, which may have been part of why it was so much fun. And why we still celebrate it. Only, not exactly, er, celebrate [see above].

This is where I could probably throw in a whole bunch of cliches about how 29 years ago I never could have imagined what my/our life would be like at this point, blah blah blah. It pretty much goes without saying, right?

I mean, today I’ve washed a whole bunch of dishes, done a load of laundry, scrubbed two bathrooms, washed some windows, and gotten the spare bedroom ready for a houseguest. And that was before lunch. But after I had made breakfast and The Coach’s lunch, read the paper, did the crossword, walked the dog and paid a couple bills.

On my “anniversary.” Somebody bust out the champagne.

So, yeah, maybe not exactly the future I pictured 29 years ago, but whose is? And anyway, you know what I think is the point of celebrating/recognizing/acknowledging (let’s face it: HAVING) a 29th first-date anniversary? It’s that it serves as a reminder that, no matter what the ride has been like for nearly three decades on our roller coaster of life — we got off to a pretty good start.

This was not our first date, but maybe four days later. Good grief, we were young

This was taken at a party a few days after our first date. Good grief, we were young.