The Swim to my 50s – Hazing for Marriage

johnstonnc.com

johnstonnc.com

I often wonder, why he married me.  Why and how did he endure such cultural torture?  He could have run at any point – far, far away.  But (for the life of me), he stayed.

Others ran as fast as they could.  Some hung in for a little while and tried to fight the impossible, only to realize that there was no hope.

I couldn’t adore my parents more.  I have often described my father as a very, very strict man.  Of course, as a young girl trying to assimilate to a new culture and way of living, this did not sit well with me (as I kicked and screamed).  I gave it quite the fight in trying to convince my parents that our old-fashioned Spanish values we had brought with us from Puerto Rico, did not belong in the States where we now were.

As it often is the case (darn it, they are always right), it was not until I had children of my own and was faced with choosing the values I wanted for them, that I finally understood what my parents were doing.  It was still tough as @#*%, believe me, but I get it now.  I am happy to be able to look back and find the insanity humor in the events that took place.

My father was a big man and had the lowest voice around.  One that led him to be a radio DJ in his younger days.  In reality, he could be as gentle as a lamb but knew his façade had to be tough.  He had a presence about him that earned him immediate respect (the kind that silences a room and parts the seas.)  He was loved by many and feared by some.  Especially, the some that happened to be between the ages of 14 and 18, had not yet mastered their cracking voices, had no control of their raging hormones and who expressed an interest in either of his two daughters.

This did not create a problem for my younger sister who had no interest in boys, then.  She loved to stay home, read books, listen to music and watch tv.  For me, however, it was a whole different story.

I was born loving boys.  I was shy, yet social and seemed to attract male attention even at a young age.  Many times the attention was inappropriate and unwanted, but as I got older, flattery took over.

It was well-known in our school that you were not to mess with us sisters.  Not only did my dad help in establishing that rumor but my older brother served as the enforcer when my dad was not around.  Many of my brother’s friends were warned and often threatened.  It made it for a, not so fun time for me.

I will never forget the number of – shorter than me, skinnier than me, acne-filled, middle school boys who wanted to take me on dates.  I would explain that in order to do anything with them, they would have to speak to my father and ask for permission.  That usually ended their pursuit of me, but every once in a while, a brave boy would step up to the challenge.  After rehearsing and getting their nerve up to call my father, they would hang up with a bruised ego, in humbling defeat.  My dad would answer the phone in his very deep voice (the poor scrawny fellows), would let them finish their scripted spiel and would say, NO.

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Papi, please can I go to the movies with him?  Why won’t you let me do anything?  I wish we had never moved here!  I would cry to my mother who assured me that things would get better (Dear God,when?) and that my father did it because he loved us.  

On the rare occasion that I was given permission to go out,  my date would have to not only take me out for ice cream or a movie, he had to also treat and entertain my younger sister and younger brother, who served as designated chaperones.  Boy did I hate it when they had to tag along and they were not exactly thrilled to be there, either.

I made it through High School with my share of boyfriends but they would soon give up after all the work dating me, entailed.  Talk about high maintenance!  Most of the time, I was not allowed to do whatever activity they wanted to do.  We tried every avenue we could, even having my boyfriend’s parents call my dad to reassure him that they would be home and chaperoning at all times.  Unfortunately, my dad did not budge.  Ay!  Dios Mio!

Then, along came my husband.  A young man from a wonderful family, mature beyond his years, polite, more chivalrous than a knight, smart and cute.  We had gone to High School together but did not start dating until college.  He was the perfect Eddie Haskell.

Although we were in college and one would think that we would have certain freedom common of people our age, because I was living at home, the rules still applied.  Had I been in PR, it would have been the norm.  Here, it was unheard of.  

The rules were pretty clear.  NO boy was allowed upstairs near our bedrooms.  When having a boyfriend over the house, somebody else had to be in the room with us or on duty every 10 minutes to check up on us, there was to be NO sitting on your boyfriend’s lap, NO kissing in the car when your boyfriend dropped you off from an outing (as we learned after my father caught us and locked me out of the house), the said boyfriend, was the designated errand boy/servant that needed to be sent everywhere to get everything needed for the household (even though he had just driven 2 hours to see me and nobody else was busy.)MV5BMTY4NzYzMDAxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjQ2NTE5._V1_SX214_

As we became more serious, the hazing continued.  He had to prove that he was worthy of my hand and would earn zero respect until he showed he was ready for marriage.  We were now in our mid 20’s (young adults, people!), lived two hours apart from each other while working in our respective jobs and tried to see each other on the weekends.  

The poor guy, had to sleep on the living room or dining room floor, when staying at our house.  We didn’t have an extra room and upstairs was off-limits!  My loving dad enjoyed teasing him and giving him pure hell slack.   Before heading upstairs at night, knowing  my husband was curled up on the floor, usually under our dining room table (for maximum protection), he would turn on our very noisy dishwasher which made it close to impossible to fall asleep.  My father would then make a point of waking up very early the next morning, so he could blast the Spanish music (my boyfriend would have to learn to dance to) in the living room, sing along loudly to the song and use every noisy pot and pan we had in the kitchen, as he fried eggs and bacon for the family.  Needless to say, my husband never slept well while visiting me.  

When it was time for us to get engaged, my husband knew what had to be done.  God Bless Him.  On a snowy, wintry November night, he and his parents drove two hours to our home to ask for my hand. My grandfather was visiting with us at the time and was to be part of the event. Although  small in statute, my grandfather could also be…feared. We waited in the living room for them to arrive.  Once they did, my husband spoke first (I am pretty certain his voice cracked numerous times and his pants were soiled.) He announced to everyone in the room what his intentions were (to marry me and fly across the world to escape and never turn back) and why he was worthy of my hand in marriage.

My father and grandfather who sat in very comfortable royal-like chairs, listened to what was being said.  My in-laws to-be, were then asked to express their opinion and thoughts about their son being ready for marriage (they could have run at that point, but bless their hearts, they too stuck it out.)  My father and grandfather then asked their questions.  After much discussion, my father announced that he would indeed give us his blessing in marriage.  Halleluhia, Praise the Lord, Word to your motha (and I’m pretty sure a fat lady sang.)

clipart.comThe transformation was instantaneous.  Once we wed, my husband was King in my father’s eyes.  He could do no wrong.  In fact, my father would remind me to tend to my husband when he was hungry and when he needed something.  Don’t worry, my husband knew better than to adopt this part of our culture.  I was sure to let him know that my father was the only man I would serve.  One sassy Spanish evil-looking eye from me, was all it took for him to realize this fact.

You could feel my father’s sense of relief that his daughter was married and that he would no longer have to worry so much (in other words: this is a final sale son, there will be no returns.) One down, one daughter to go.

My husband had accomplished the seemingly impossible.  He passed all the tests (barely)…and believe me, there were a boat load of them!  In the end, my father and he became very close and had mutual respect for each other.

My sister married two years after I did.  She lucked out some after having me pave the way for her and her husband (she still owes me big time) and, because of the fact that my dad had mellowed some by then. Her husband was also a fast learner, and knew better than expect his new wife to serve him.

As I look back, I appreciate most of everything my father did on my behalf.  He was an amazing and loving father and wanted only the best for all his children.  Would I still argue with him about his ways if he were alive today?  You betcha!  But I would do it with a smile.

As for my husband, he is deserving of some sort of life award… for at least nine lives.  He hung in there, persevered, endured, suffered, was broke from having to take my siblings out as well and put up with more than any sane person would and he did it all for me.

Click this link to see hisHusband_award

Although I am a very strong woman and wife (and wave my finger at him often),  I am  more than happy to spoil my husband in any way I can.  I, will even serve him his meals before serving myself.  And you know what?  Like with my father, I do it out of pure love. 

The Swim to My 50s – “Perfect is the Enemy of Good,” Voltaire

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Last Saturday, instead of doing the usual mundane errands, I was swallowed up by our oversized soft leather living room chair, in front of our movie theater style television.  I had an icy glass of a Cranberry Spritzer I had made earlier and my feet were resting comfortably on the coffee table. The only time I looked away was to make sure no family member was lingering in the near distance, waiting to interrupt my self made oasis.   

I am not an avid television watcher and only watch the few shows I really enjoy.  Like for example,  Wednesday’s winner line up of The Middle, Modern Family, & Nashville.  I cannot miss Thursday’s tantalizing, Scandal, Monday’s The Bachelorette (I know…) and the sultry, Dancing with the Stars as well as CNN – particularly since the horrific events of the past month. Oh yes, there is also, Duck Dynasty when my son has it on and, Pretty Little Liars when my daughter wishes to bond with me.  I look forward to Meredith Viera’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire every day after dinner (although I do miss Regis), Nightly News with the handsome, Brian Williams, American Pickers with my treasure hunter husband and of course, The Voice and oh, I love Robin from Good Morning America….

Ok,  so my big brown eyes watch a bit more television than I originally admitted to but the point is, that on Saturday I came across the Hallmark Channel.  I knew it existed but always flipped right by it on my way to another channel.  I stumbled upon a tear jerker of a movie about an Amish young woman who finds out that she is adopted and decides she does not have to stay and live the Amish way and ventures out to explore the outside world, against her adoptive parent’s wishes.

The same big brown eyes soon morphed into a pair of swollen, blood shot, dried up balls as I sobbed like a baby who had lost her binky.  Part two of the movie soon followed and by then, I would not have been recognizable to my next of kin, had they attempted to interrupt me.

 Instead of redeeming myself once it ended, I sat mesmerized by our dizzying 55 inch, 1080p widescreen way-high resolution quality picture and was sucked in by an episode of The Waltons, followed by Little House on the Prairie.

But, the fun did not end there.  A talk show titled, Marie, came on.  Marie, as in Osmond.   She has endured her share of woes in her family in addition to delicately fainting while a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and did lose all that weight while on Nutrisystem,  but what caught my zombie-like attention was, her face.  

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Quite unfortunate and disappointing, is the fact that she has joined the increasing number of people (mostly stars) who now represent the face of this century.  It’s that puffy, botox filled, collagen enhanced, stiff, clown-looking face.  What will our grandchildren’s children be saying about the way we looked, back in the 21st century, when they go through old pictures of us?  They will be puzzled by the anatomy of our faces and will try to study the causes of such deformities, for years to come.  I am by no means trying to be mean, I am just simply confused by this.  

Marie-Osmond 

I admit that there are more than a few little parts of my face that could use some nipping, tucking and plumping, and I don’t disagree that a little help can be a good thing,  but why isn’t good, good enough?  Take a look at these stars:

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No Mickey…come back!  barry-manilow-plastic-surgery 1307915539-barry-manillow-facelifts-botched-cosmetic-surgery “Looks Like We (You) Made It”…a big mistake that is.

Where, for the love of God, are their agents and family members in all of this?  Aren’t they supposed to look out for them and tell them how they really look?  Could I possibly be missing something?  Could somebody be so kind and educate me?   

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Every time I see a favorite actor/actress  join the circus – per say, I feel so distraught.  Why have they gone to the other side?  Wayyyyyy over?  There is no turning back now.   

Meg Ryan, please don’t….go!!! Darn it, it’s too late… images-35 

Courtney-Cox-Plastic-SurgeryMonica, I mean Courtney, don’t do it, don’t… join the circus! Aww man, also too late.

Between nodding off during Marie’s interview of a woman who had married a man who was really a woman who thought she was a man since birth but then dressed like a woman, and trying not to drop my glass on the floor, my mind delved deep into mankind’s fascination and desperate search for, perfection.

We don’t want it later, we want it now.  Fast.  We don’t just want some, we want it all.  We don’t accept good, we want perfect. When did good, become not good enough?

Please don’t let Perfect, be the enemy of your Good.

 

The Swim to My 50s – I was meant to be carried on a bed with a canopy and curtains and fed grapes to

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This, according to a health provider that used to treat my feet and body when I was first diagnosed with RA.    She worked on trigger points and would try to alleviate my aching and rapidly deforming feet.

When nothing seemed to help, she simply looked at me and said, Your feet were not meant for walking.  You, my dear, should be carried on a ‘litter’ (a bed with four posts, a canopy and curtains) and fed grapes to.

I couldn’t agree more.

When God made me, this must have been part of his plan.  He knew that my feet would not be able to carry any weight and that my other joints would also fail me.

I am almost 50 and I have yet to see a litter parked in my driveway.  Where are the shirtless men in cloth diapers ready to carry me to my destination?  My old Toyota Camry has no curtains and although it sports a sun roof, it’s just not the same.

I have discussed most of my other body parts in earlier posts.  My feet, however, require a blog of their own.

I inherited my feet from my dad.  Size 9, wide, a long big toe and beautifully protruding bunions {I apologize if you have a foot fetish and I am turning you on right now}.  This is where my dad’s and my feet’s similarities end.  Now, picture these feet turning out to the sides with my bully of a big toe leaning and squashing the other more, fragile and helpless toes.  Not a pretty sight.

It is a good thing that I never understand what the ladies who do my pedicures are saying but I can guarantee you that as they are smiling at me, they are aghast at the sight of my feet and pretend not to notice.

Before RA, I wore all kinds of shoes.  My favorites were the stilettos I wore while frequenting the discos.  I am now the not-so-proud owner of several God-awful Crocs.  Pink and black.  And, I even have the winter ones with fur inside.  But once I had surgery on my left foot, my selection expanded again.

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Crocs

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I won’t even tell you what a nightmare the surgery was and how much I suffered.  It was so bad that I had my mom ask our priest if he could stop over to visit me, as I lay in bed for 4 months, recovering.  

There is a funny story about this day that I have to tell you.  After sitting at my bedside reassuring me that things would get better and to continue to have faith, Father asked me to pray with him.  He asked me to say my Hail Marys.  Now, I don’t pretend to be super Catholic, but at least a moderate one…at best.  I froze when he asked me because I, for the life of me, could not remember it!  Hail Mary, full of grace… After what seemed to be hours of silence as he waited for me to begin, I asked him if he would say it with me.  He agreed and began reciting it with his eyes closed.  I stared at his lips and tried desperately to match his words, accentuating the ones I remembered and mumbling through the words I had forgotten.  Not my proudest moment.

So now, I have one straight foot that has permanent nerve damage, with an even longer big fused toe (which I ended up jamming and breaking after the surgery) that is a size 9.5 and that prefers narrow fashionable shoes.   And, one deformed size 9 wide foot, that requires the comfort of…Crocs.

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Ain’t they purdy…

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 I have often said, to those who will listen, that I refuse to operate my right foot unless I can be put in an induced coma for 6 months while it heals.  Needless to say, I have accepted the fact that I will be living my next 50 years with mis-matched feet.

I think I will say my Hail Marys every night until my birthday and hope that on that morning, I will wake up to find a huge shiny red bow taped to my new state of the art, loaded litter {men in cloth diapers feeding me red grapes – cuz green ones are too sour- included}, sitting in my driveway.

 

 

The Swim to My 50’s – How Sweet It Is…..

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etsy.com

Hospital Blue. Mauve. Pale Pink. Mint Green. Lilac. Peach Blossom. Puffy Sleeves.  Platform Shoes. Blue Eye Shadow. Lip Gloss. Where am I?  Prom 1981.

Lucky for me, it is 2013 and I don’t have anyone in the house going to a prom this year.  My son enjoyed his last year and my daughter will be going to hers next year.

But every May, memories of my prom pop up in my mind in vivid detail.  These memories are fortunately, very fond ones.  Triumph, revenge, accomplishment and warmth are the feelings I re-live. 

It was March of my Senior year and my boyfriend and I had been dating for several years.  Everyone, including yours truly, assumed that he and I would go together to the prom.  A rational assumption considering our relationship status.

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susfoundation.org

Unbeknownst to me, T had a different idea in mind.  He approached me in the hall and proceeded to explain to me that, seeing that our high school years were coming to an end,  he had decided that he could not leave the school without dating a couple of girls he had been interested in while we were dating. (Wait for it…)

He then revealed the names of these, deprived of his love – girls and told me that he would be asking one of them to the prom.

I was a bit shy back then but at the same time, had developed a certain level of confidence and respect for myself – not typical of this age (I thank my mother for this).   I knew how I deserved to be treated by boys and knew that the relationship was over.  Yes, I still loved him but thankfully, my character and strength took over.

I calmly said ok and walked away.  I was not so much mad as I was flabbergasted by his audacity and stupidity.  I know he was only 18 and boys will be boys, but honestly?

scoutofthecloset.bogspot

scoutofthecloset.bogspot.com

Word soon spread and I was received with stares from my fellow students as I walked the hallways.  Oh my Gosh, can you believe he broke up with her and is asking someone else to the prom? Amazingly, I walked with my head up high and a sense of reassurance.

He asked one of the girls on his list to the prom who also happened to be, my friend.  She admitted to me that the situation was a bit..awkward but obviously not awkward enough to stop her from running to the mall to buy her prom dress!  She joined the many other girls who were giddy with excitement about the up-coming event.

Several days later, one of his best friends approached me.  He seemed nervous and looked from side to side as I leaned against my locker, checking to see who was near by.  He then asked me if I would like to attend the prom with him.  I stood speechless for a bit, the thought of this happening had not even crossed my mind.  I smiled inside, looked at him right in the eyes and said, J, I would absolutely love to go to the prom with you.   He smiled and we went our separate ways to our respective classes.

When I said yes to J, at no time did I think of it as an act of revenge toward T.  I honestly thought that going with J would be a lot of fun and he was after all, a class act.  It was not until later that I realized that revenge was a sweet consequence of the situation. 🙂

Once T got a hold of this information, all hell broke loose.  He went…psycho.  He called me day and night, tried talking to me at school and could not fathom me going with someone else.  To the detriment of his new date, he called the whole thing off.  He told her that he had made a big mistake and that he was going to prom with me.  

Or so he thought.  Once he broke it off with her, he came running to me to tell me that we were all cleared to go together.  Not so fast, buddy!  I told him, in my calm confident voice, that I had made a commitment to J and that it would be rude for me to break that commitment and besides, that I would rather not go than to go with him.  He desperately attempted to break down J so that he would un-ask me, but J did not budge.

T and his date ended up missing prom.  She was so devastated and embarrassed about what had happened and had to return her dress and shoes.  T tried to make me jealous by telling me that he was going to hang out that night with a girl in town that went to another school, but saw the zero effect that had on me and moped around all night.

clipartguide.com

clipartguide.com

I had a blast!  Danced all night, hung out with friends and was the recipient of the best goodnight kiss I had ever had.

I see T on occasion and we are friendly with each other.  I wonder how he feels when he thinks about prom.   All I know is that I cannot control the huge grin on my face when I see him.

How is it that the events during these formative years can stay with us 30+ years after and the feelings are as fresh as they were on that day?  More so than the memories of our college years, it seems.  

I have passed this story on to my teenage daughter, who smiles every time she hears it.  Hopefully, the message she got out of it was empowering and will serve as a reminder of the respect she must have for herself, before expecting it from others.    

 

The Swim to My 50s – Things that make me ^%@#*- swear!

quotes.lover.com

quotes.lover.com

I am by no means a prude but I am no cusser either.  I get increasingly stressed out and anxious when others swear, yet hearing myself say these words, is not as bad.  I still try to avoid it.

Unfortunately, I am finding that the frequency of me reaching that…breaking point has increased over time.   Not only am I swearing more in English, but the Spanish swears are flying off the shelves of my sassy tongue!  And let me tell you, swearing in Spanish is even more gratifying.

I have an answer to the very clever quote above.  I don’t open my package because I…f-@#*%-‘in – can’t!

Have you tried opening packages lately?  For the love of God, somebody do something!

sunpack.com

sunpack.com

Did you know that by 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons in this country?  This is more than twice the number in 2000. People 65+ will represent 19% of the population by then.

Hello?  Manufacturers, are you listening?

This isn’t just a problem for the elderly or people with arthritis.  Everyone seems to be resorting to their chicklets to open just about… everything.

soyouwantocomplain.blogspot.com

soyouwantocomplain.blogspot.com

I have tried to adjust to this reality by purchasing user-friendly gadgets in order to make my life easier and to actually cook dinner for my family.  No one is ever home when I need to open those jars and cans and I was tired of hobbling over to the neighbor’s house for help.
 blackanddecker.com
blackanddecker.com

This funky electric gadget above looks like the Cat’s Meow but, it lasted one day.  The thing jammed the jar in there so tight that I could not only not open the jar, I couldn’t remove it and had to throw the whole thing away.

Got a headache?  Relief is going to have to wait until you figure out how to twist the cap open, rupture the safety seal, peel the remaining foil out, reach in the small opening for the cotton ball and get the two d-*&%# caplets out.

stopbuyingcrap.com

stopbuyingcrap.com

I’m sorry, but if you have to use a meat cleaver to open up your new way too expensive printer ink, something is very wrong!

I had just about enough a couple of months ago, when I purchased an OralB electric toothbrush in order to make my life easier and alleviate my aching wrists.  I tried opening the stiff “clamshell” plastic packaging (I even used my handy As Seen On Tv, Open X Dual Blade knife) and ended up with a big gash on my finger from the sharp edge of the plastic.  Really?  I bled trying to open up my new toothbrush?  After writing a letter to Procter & Gamble, they responded by saying that the instructions were in the back of the package.

bigluckydeals.com

bigluckydeals.com

How about those convenient little #@%^* ketchup packets?  After trying to “tear here” with your fingers and then your teeth,  you end up with a huge mess and thinking you would have been better off stomping on the packet instead.

Heinz Ketchup

Heinz Ketchup

For the sake of my new and rapidly developing  potty mouth and my grandchildren-to-be, I hope that companies stop triple packaging everything and realize that half of the population cannot use their products because they can’t… open them!

@$&^%$*#!!!

The Swim to My 50s – Toasting to The Weekend with Sangría & Arugula!

DSCN5706Nothing says warm weather like sitting on my porch with a thirst-quenching tall glass of Sangría and a homemade arugula, prosciutto, sun-dried tomato, mozzarella cheese & a balsamic glaze flatbread pizza!  Cheers & have yourself a lovely weekend!

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Sangría Recipe:

4 bottles of Red Spanish Wine

2 C of 7Up

1/4 C Sugar

1/2 C Cointreau Liquor

1/3 C Cognac

2 Lemons  (juice)

Orange Slices, Apple Slices, Raspberries, Blueberries, Kiwi & any other fruit of choice

Mix & let ferment in fridge overnight

Serve with ice

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Arugula Pizza Recipe:

Flatbread/Crust

Sliced mozzarella cheese

Sliced prosciutto

Seasoned sun-dried tomatoes

Arugula

Balsamic Glaze

Place all ingredients on flatbread/Crust, drizzle with balsamic glaze and cook in oven on 425 for 12 minutes.

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Won’t you join me?  Mi Casa es Su Casa! ¡Salud!