Make You Proud

As a younger adult with parents still alive and well, something that weighs pretty heavily on my mind is their opinion of me. Since I was very little, I remember desiring above all else to make my parents proud. That can sometimes feel more like a prison sentence than a goal, but it is something I hold very close to my heart. I know that my parents aren’t perfect, but they did the best they knew how, and I may be a little biased in saying that they produced a pretty successful kid (well, technically three of us, but I can’t speak for my brother and sister, now can I?)

When my dad mentioned he was going on a business trip, I volunteered to pick him up from the airport. He has been in negotiations and conferences all weekend and I offered to have him sleep on our couch instead of driving all the way back to his home. What he doesn’t know is that because I knew he was coming over today, I busted some serious tooshie trying to make our apartment moderately presentable, clean and smelling like respectable people live here. I also went with my husband to the store yesterday (because we were desperately low on edible goods) and picked up some things to make my dad the most fancy dinner we can afford. Why?

Because my parents went without a lot of times. I know that. I may not have understood it when I was younger, but I damned sure do now. I know that my dad is pretty stubborn and that he and I have the exact same attitude and that makes for an interesting time (especially when I was a teenager). My parents work hard, they do their best to provide everything for my sister (who is currently the only one living at the house, because she’s still in high school) and I appreciate their struggles and hard work much more now that I am living on my own (ish) than when I was living under their roof. Do I still think some of the things they do are cooky? Sure. I mean, I am from a different generation afterall. But when I offered my dad a place to rest today, I knew I wanted to do something nice.

When my parents helped my husband and I move into our apartment my dad made the comment that I should buy him dinner somewhere as payment. That’s all he ever asks for: a warm meal in exchange for his help. And I know he meant dinner out somewhere. But I know that I can’t afford that right now, so a home cooked meal will have to do.

I tried my best, had my husband taste the meat (cause I really don’t eat meat if I can help it-and haven’t for almost 4 years now), I made a bunch of yummy, wholesome side dishes and I put some coffee on, stuck some Dr. Pepper in the fridge and now I’m waiting. I have no idea when he’ll get here, but I think I’m more excited than he’ll be.

Anyway, all this comes down to one thing: I want to show my parents (but at this very moment my dad) that they raised a successful, well-mannered daughter who understands common decency and thankfulness-but is still full of sass and shenanigans. I don’t want my parents to come visit me and it look like I haven’t done anything but loaf about for months on end. I want them to rest easy knowing that I’m not a complete screw-up. And I hope that’s what I prove.

Now, that’s not to say that either of my siblings are disasters-this all only applies to me and how I see things. Like I said, I can’t speak for either of them. That’s just the way it is.

I started this post last night (obviously) and just wanted to say that dinner went well. I think he understood that I tried my best, and I woke up and made breakfast (another thing I usually don’t do) and it was good. All in all, I think it went okay!

Thankfulness, Day 24

I had a thought yesterday that I had meant to include in my list of thankfulness, but what I have to say requires a bit more than just a blurb in passing.

When I was a child, I was impatient, self-centered and at times, a little devil-spawn. No one else even knew. Because by the time I reached kindergarten (well, actually pre-school), I had been trained. Of course, the only people who knew I was a little hellian were my parents.

I am incredibly lucky that I have both parents, and they are together, they are both healthy and they are patient people. My mother is supportive, she makes excellent food and has taught me several things which only mothers can do. My father is proud (and proud of me), he works incredibly hard to provide for my siblings still living at home and has taught me multiple things which only fathers can teach daughters. Growing up, my siblings and I were always introduced to crowds as “the cross between a hillbilly and a polak.” My father’s family is the stereotypical country folk, coming from West Virginia, Virginia and Southern Ohio. There’s a twang in their voices, and they are red-skinned from work outside. My mother’s family is a very stereotypical Russo-Polish family, even though we’ve been in America for two generations. We love food, we thrive on familial support and don’t seem to mind the cold. We ate pierogies before they were cool, and all of us are pale skinned with dark hair (except my sister, who is oddly blonde, but we love her anyway). Both sides of my family are infamous for their hotheadedness and quick tempers. 

My mother has a teacher’s aid certificate, but chooses to farm. I don’t mind, because I help her till up the yard and thusly get to have some of the food. My father works for the biggest newspaper in the midwest, and I get to tour the factory and inevitably just end up covered in ink. They’ve been together for an incredibly long time, they married while he was still in service to our country (he got married in his dress uniform and helped make/decorate the cake). I was born just after Operation: Desert Storm, when my dad came back from Kuwait/Iraq/The Persian Gulf, where he cooked and drove a tank on occasion. He doesn’t talk about it, but I am proud of him regardless. War cannot have been easy.

I put my parents through the ringer as a kid. I was never a “bad kid”, and in fact, that’s probably why I was such a hell raiser. But the thing is, I always knew they loved me. And they still do. My mom and I talk every day, my dad and I are basically the same person in different genders and time frames. For a long while, that’s why we didn’t get along (I mean, two people with bad tempers and the ability to lash out quickly don’t make for a fun time all the time). But once I grew up and actually tried to take responsibility (and otherwise acted like an adult), we got along splendidly. My parents are such wonderful people. 

So on this day, if it isn’t obvious at all, I am thankful for my parents. Without them, I would not be the me that I am now. I love you, mom and dad. Thanks for always being there-even when I didn’t deserve it.

The One With All The Problems

I’ve been trying to come up with a blog that isn’t preachy or condescending or depressing or overly critical, and I’ve come short almost every time. I know that my interests and passions are not those of others, and I respect that there are people out there with different opinions. I try to be understanding and accommodating of those differences. We all have different backgrounds, different vantage points and different futures. Each of them is valid and it is something of a marvel, truly. 

And then I remembered that this is my blog, and if I want to complain or preach or whatever else it is that I so choose, I can. I do not live in a country where I feel the need to be afraid of my words and ideas, and for that I will always be thankful. And it is with that in mind, that I would like to engage in a soapbox rant. But first, a little side note: I chose the title, because I’ve been binge watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in my spare time (when I have some) and I have a little bit of a nostaliga problem. Anyway.

If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you claim to be an adult, act like it. If you live in the apartment below ours and you feel like having a party in the middle of the night in the middle of the week, grow up!

But I guess that’s all besides the point, isn’t it? I mean, my real frustration right now isn’t necessarily the lack of responsibility shown by a lot of people, it’s the general lack of respect and common decency.

My parents were not perfect, are not perfect. But I know that. And as an adult, I know that they gave it their very best, every day. But the one thing I am exceptionally grateful for is the fact that no matter what they tried to teach me (I was a stubborn child), the lesson that stuck was respect. So naturally, growing up in a small town, with small town values and settings and friends, I grew a little too fond of the way we all knew each other’s parents and values. Some got a little rebellious, and that, I suppose you could say happens. There are also the people from that small town who never understood what it meant to be considerate and respectful.

I’m not perfect, and I will always be the very first person to admit that. The stubborn streak I had as a child, it only grew and with it, little spurts of anger accompanied by a large amount of ranting. But I know that when someone asks me to keep a secret, I do. When someone needs a hand, I lend one. When someone needs an ear to bend, a kind word or a healthy dose of reality, I am there 100%. Sometimes I need those things too. But I’ve found that outside of some of those lasting friendships I made in the small town I grew up in, not too many people understand that.

It’s all take and no give. And I can’t seem to wrap my head around that. 

 You see, the thing is that of all the things I listed up top about “understanding”, not having a code of conduct which follows a general “Don’t be a dick.” guidelines doesn’t make sense to me. How is it that you cannot seem to understnad that being an adult means being responsible, but also so much more than that. It means understanding that you aren’t the only person in the whole wide world who matters. It means working toward a compromise instead of calling in someone older or bigger than you to solve your problems for you. It means helping out, even when you think you are better than the task at hand (In which case you NEED to be helping out). Being an adult was never about a show for power-that’s being a child. Being an adult means taking the hard way every time so that you will be refined into a success story.

I also don’t understand people who leech off of their parents even though they are “adults”. My parents, whom I love, were not exceptionally wealthy while I was growing up. They worked hard for everything we had, and I saw that. I may not have always understood, but I do now. When I was an only child, I remember Christmases where presents stacked almost higher than the tree. When I turned 4, my brother had just been born and I was still well-gifted. By the time I was 8, my sister had been born, and there was a slight change in Christmas. By the time my brother and I were teenagers, Christmas was more intimate, more family oriented. And you know what? I knew at the age of 15 that my parents were working harder than ever to make sure we had everything we needed, let alone what we wanted. I understood. 

And when I went to college, I moved out on my own. I understood why life was so hard. Money comes from 16 hour shifts three days in a row, followed by a full day of classes, homework and then more work. It doesn’t just appear, it (like respect) has to be earned. When someone who didn’t understand that got in between my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I from moving to a new apartment, I spent my  21st and 22nd birthdays back with my parents. It just so happened that my husband and I needed to move closer to campus and found two other college students who did as well and we all became roommates.

I’ve met people since then who need their parents for just one thing-money. They go out to eat every day, buy things they don’t need and have no time for, waste resources that could be conserved. I watch people, you see. And it greatly influences my perception on the world. Or maybe it just increases how confused I am by it. And there continues to be more confusion.

I spent my first year of undergrad thinking I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I had the grades, the study habits and the desire. A year later, I thought I wanted to be a nurse, because that was who I felt would help the most people. A year later, I settled into anthropology. I didn’t pick it for the fame or the recognition or the reasons I wanted to be a doctor or nurse. I picked it because, well, it picked me. And now, I get to look at cultures-but more specifically, I get to look at religious hate crimes and religious extremism (as well as the occult and all things mythological and religion based).

But why am I telling you all this? Because I have come across quite a few kinds of people in my short time on this planet, and I have only ever found three types I didn’t understand.

1. The ones who don’t know how to respect someone else, have some decency and responsibilty.

2. The ones who use thier parents for money, and cannot stand on their own.

3. The ones who are so filled with hate that they cannot fathom each other as equals.

When I look around, I see huan beings, filled with potential, open to the world. And it hurts my heart to see people hate so much that they do not see it too. It hurts my heart that there are people who only look out for themselves, their own best interests. I don’t understand, and I feel like maybe that’s okay.