The one about the turkey…

I had to finish up my Thanksgiving Day shopping today. This year, I am hosting Thanksgiving at my new apartment. I could not be any more excited and nervous. Do not worry though, my brother in law is coming over to make sure I do not screw up the bird. (And the world takes a collective sigh of relief.)

At my local grocery store, they have a deal where you spend 100.00 on groceries, you get a free turkey. Last week I spent 100.00, so I got my free turkey. Then, they had Butterball on sale for 98 cents a pound. I had to snatch that up as well. I am thinking ahead to Christmas dinner, or perhaps turkey sandwiches on New Years. Either way, I have two turkeys. So today when I spent another 100.00 on groceries, you guessed it, I got my third turkey.

Everything was fine, until Vinnie lugs the 20-pound bird up one long flight of stairs, barrels into the apartment, huffing, and puffing, while throwing the bird on the counter.

Joe ~ What’s going on?
Vinnie ~ Mom has lost her mind.
Joe ~ Another one?

It’s like these people do not even know me.

“It’s fine! I mean it was free. Who would turn down a free turkey??!!”

I start putting the groceries away. I open the freezer.

Hmmm. The freezer is packed. Between the Butterball turkey, my assortment of pies, and my usual groceries, there simply was no room for the brand new turkey.

I had only mere seconds to come up with a “Plan B” before I would hear the words “I TOLD YOU SO” from Joe and Vinnie.

Think Jen, think!

I quickly grabbed my newest free twenty-pound turkey and snuck out the front door.

……

There he was. Sitting on the stoop like always. I do not know his name. He is my neighbor. Kinda scary, kinda nice. Smokes a lot of weed, and is always arguing with our Landlord in the parking lot. He is the type of guy who knows everyone in the neighboorhood….because he is always home….or on the stoop. On occasion, you will find him arguing with an outsider. He seems to be a good enough guy who has been through a lot. May not always make the best choices, but really, who does? He has a very distinct voice. Throat cancer.

“Hey, hey, how ya doing? Ya need any bringing up your groceries?”

“Oh, no thank you! That’s what Vinnie is for. So, do you want a turkey? I have this turkey and it was free so…”

“You’re giving me a turkey?”

“Well, I mean only if you want it. I do not have room in my freezer and….”

“Yes, I will take it. My check is late and I did not have money for Thanksgiving. Thank you.”

“Oh please, it’s nothing, glad you can use it!”

“This is good, thank you. Happy Thanksgiving Babe!”

Now, between you and me, I am not too fond of people calling me “Babe” when I do not even know their name, but I can overlook that. I hope when he gets into one of his arguments with the “outsiders” he will remember that the girl who lives next door to him gave him a free turkey, so the drive-byes have to happen in another part of the complex. ya feel me?

I make my way back to my apartment.

Joe~ What did you do now?
Me ~ Nothing! I gave the turkey to our neighbor. See problem solved!
Joe ~ That’s cool, I like him, he seems like a good guy.
Me ~ Well, he called me babe, so you may have some competition.
Joe ~ I think I’ll be okay.

Now, the only thing I need to do is find a way to sneak the brand new Christmas tree in. This may take me some time.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Christin is giving away a 15.00 Starbucks gift card. If you are a long time reader of the blog, you know Christin and I have not always had it easy. Many times we wanted to help people, but we did not even have the fund to help ourselves. To enter the drawing please leave a comment either here or on the Vodka Calling Facebook page. Tell us your favorite Starbucks coffee drink, and your favorite Thanksgiving Day dish……with the exception of turkey.

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Drinking while Facebooking.

Christin can always tell when I have had a few drinks while Facebooking. The tell-tale sign is I post music videos. Music videos of mostly 80’s music. Specifically The Karate Kid soundtrack. I mean if you were here, in my house, you would be lucky enough to see me do a dance routine to “You’re the Best.” The amazing song that was played in the last big fight of the Karate Kid. Screw you Cobra Kai!!

Remember the infamous episode of “Friends” where Monica and Ross do their dance routine at a New Years Eve party? That would be me, except I am in my living room and there is no dance partner….unless you count vodka. Which I do not.

Christin gets a kick out of it, kinda sorta at my expense. I mean it’s not like she will shoot me a text and say “Jen, you have had too much to drink, get off of Facebook.” Instead, she waits until the following day when we talk on the phone. “So who were you this time, Daniel or Ali.?” I am always Ali or at least my own version of Ali. Unless of course, I switch over to “Your Love” by The Outfield, in which case I take on a totally new personality. I am pretty proud of my 80’s dance moves.

Usually, what follows is something along the lines of “OMG YOU COULD TELL I WAS DRINKING ON FACEBOOK? WHY DIDNT YOU TELL ME? to which I am met with “Remember when you signed me up on Plenty of Fish when you were drinking, well this is payback!”

So, as the story goes. “Apparently” one night, many years ago, I may have had a little too much to drink (in the safety of my own home!) and kinda sorta made Christin a dating profile on Plenty of Fish….and forgot to tell her. In my defense,  Christin was at a crossroads in her personal life, and just between you and I, she always attracted the losers. (Hello pot, meet kettle.)

Enter Me! I figured I was doing a good deed, helping my girl out. I would weed through the schmucks, and send any potential “good guys” her way. It was a perfect plan, executed by one too many diet cokes and vodka.

The plan was in motion. With a drink in hand, I call Christin (with The Karate Kid soundtrack playing in the background.

Me ~ “Hey! Just curious…..what is your ideal perfect date?”
Christin ~ “Ummm, I don’t know, maybe a jazz club. Why?”
Me ~ “Really? A jazz club? not dinner and a movie?”

Me ~ “So when you are at this jazz club, like what kind of guy are you with? Black, white? Tall,  short? Big, small?
Christin ~ “What the hell are you talking about?”
Me ~ “Nothing, call you back in a few!”

It’s funny how I remember sitting at my computer, SO EXCITED to make Christin a dating profile! Joe thinking I had lost my mind, while secretly hiding the vodka.

Yet…..somewhere in between me making her dating profile, and listening to Ac/Dc’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” I somehow forgot to tell Christin I had made said profile.

THREE DAYS LATER.

I am getting ready. Joe and I actually have a date night. This was back in the days before Gracie was sick and I had a babysitter. As I am applying my lipgloss with perfect ease, a song comes on the radio. Ac/Dc’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

Hmmm. Was there something I forgot to do? I grabbed my aqua net hairspray, sprayed it in my hair just as Joe was coming in the bathroom to check on me. As he is having a coughing attack, the lyrics “You shook me all night long” is playing on the radio, it hit me. I forgot to tell Christin that I made her a dating profile on Plenty of Fish.

Crap! I told Joe to go outside an have a smoke, to help clear his airways from my good ole hairspray, while I reached for the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hey! It’s me! Soooo, are you sitting down?”

“No…..should I be?”

“Ummm, probably…but do not get mad.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing! Except, I kinda made you a dating profile on Plenty of Fish, because, well, you know. I used your email but I should be able to weed out the losers, so only respond to the ones I send you, not any other emails.”

“YOU DID WHAT?!?!”

“So I may have had a bit too much to drink the other night, but that’s okay, I get all my brilliant ideas when I am drinking, I just wanted to give you a heads up…..be open minded. I have to go, Joe and I are going to see the new Brad Pitt movie.”

It took a great deal of convincing on my part. I mean in my mind I was doing the what any good BFF would do. Helping my girl out! It took Christin a bit longer to see that.

This is why, to this day, when Christin sees me “drinking on Facebook” she does not say a word. Payback or whatever.

However…..let me just say that if you go on Plenty of Fish, you will be able to see the very profile I made for her. So….in the end…..I was kinda right.

Which means, maybe drinking and Facebooking is not a bad thing?!

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Helpers.

As many of you know, I volunteer at the school my ten-year-old daughter attends. She is now in 5th grade and has been at this particular school since kindergarten. Over the years, both my daughter and I have been blessed with some outstanding teachers. Each one of them, so different, yet all sharing the same passion for teaching.

When my daughter entered the second grade, this is when I became active in the PTA. My daughter’s second-grade teacher, just like the ones prior, was simply amazing. I refer to her as the “Snow White” of teachers. Any parent would be lucky to have this teacher teach their student.

When my daughter was ready to enter 3rd grade. I had done my research. Although I did not personally know him, I knew what teacher I wanted for my daughter. He has a strong personality and does not coddle the students. He is a veteran teacher and I just knew, he was the one. So I did what I do best and fought hard for my daughter to have him for 3rd grade. I asked around, I did Google searches, I watched from a safe distance. Although I had never been formally introduced to him, never did I have any doubt my daughter belonged in his class. And that is exactly what happened.

As my daughter enjoyed her year in 3rd grade, I slowly began working in the classroom as needed. By the time my daughter entered 4th grade, I was a Room Mom for her former 3rd grader. Now, with my daughter in 5th grade, this guy cannot get rid of me. I have found where my passion lies. Volunteering for a special group of 3rd graders who are pretty lucky to have this particular teacher.

Over the last two years, I have seen it all. I have seen this teacher go above and beyond for his “kids.” I have seen him teach the unteachable. I have seen his excitement when one of his “kids” understands a new math lesson. I have seen him make his class stand up and sit right back down until they get the concept of “voices are off.” I have seen 3rd graders who unfortunately do not have the best of a home life tell him “Why are you even a teacher, you suck!” I have seen him teach a class of twenty plus students while literally standing in between two students who are ready to “throw down.” I have seen him having the physically take a student out of the class because this student could potentially be a danger to the rest of the class, and in the process, this teacher gets kicked or scratched. I am not kidding you when I say I have seen it all.

Yet, just when I think I have seen it all, there is always more to see.

Yesterday afternoon, as the school day was coming to a close, I had my oldest daughter in his class. Sometimes this happens if I am killing time or there is more work to do. My daughter, Gracie, who has autism, knows this teacher. He is one of the very few where she feels comfortable enough to sit in his class. As I am working on a project with three other students, the teacher wrote a long subtraction problem on the whiteboard for the rest of the class to complete. This was a hard one, and I can only assume he came up with this particular problem to “kill some time.” As I am watching over the three students who are helping me with a project, I notice Gracie. She is sitting at the table, the same table I sit at during the day, and she is focussed on the teacher and the whiteboard. I then notice Gracie takes a pen and writes something on her hand. I am still preoccupied with the three students I am working with. I make a mental note to ask Gracie what it is she is writing on her hand when there was a stack of notebook paper right in front of her. I know some of you may not understand this, and some of you will totally get it, but her writing on her hand is an autism thing.

Twenty minutes later when the class leaves for the day and this teacher makes sure to shake the hand of each of his twenty plus students, I go to Gracie and ask her “Sooooo, what is on your hand?” Well, she wrote the math problem down…on her hand. The same math problem that the teacher wrote on the whiteboard, she wrote it on her hand. “What’s the big deal?” you may say? I will tell you. In a room full of chaos. In a room full of twenty plus students, each one of them on different tasks, Gracie was focussed enough to write the problem down. Not because she had to, but because she wanted to. She wanted to because she was focussed. Gracie has a comfort level with this particular teacher where she is able to tune out what she wants and focus when need be, and although Gracie gets much credit for this, so does the teacher. Yet the beauty of it all, he had no idea that he had her attention. He had her attention because he is an excellent teacher.

Now if that was not enough, now is the time to pay attention. I know this is a long one, and I apologize. Just stick with me.

Today in class, another teacher came in to talk to the 3rd graders about bullying. Bullying in 3rd grade?!?! Yet, sadly, this is what is happening. The 3rd-grade teacher and I are sitting back, listening to the speaker tell past stories of his experiences. At some point, this class filled out a survey on their thoughts and fears regarding bullying. It is sad, it is depressing and it needs to change and it needs to change now. The speaker who was leading the discussion about bullying gave us the sad fact that in that class alone, a good portion of the students is afraid to come to school because of bullying. Again, this is 3rd grade.

I am sitting there listening to the speaker. I am listening and feeling the pain, the sadness, the frustration, and anger. Then, one of the most powerful moments I have seen since I have been at the school happened. The 3rd-grade teacher politely interrupts the speaker. He gets up and points to six of his kids. “You, you, you-you-you and you, all of you stand up.” All six students stand up. “This is how many of you, just in my class alone, are afraid to come to school. This is unacceptable, we have a problem and we need to fix it and we need to fix it now.”

At this point, I had to dig my fingernails into my hand just so I would not cry. What an emotional yet cringe-worthy scene. To see six little 3rd graders who do not even feel safe at school. I scanned the class. Trying to gauge the reactions of the students. A very sad thought crossed my mind. What are the odds of one of these little 3rd graders growing up and being the victim of domestic violence? An even more depressing thought, what are the odds of one of these little 3rd graders growing up and committing domestic violence? It’s a depressing thought, however, this teacher is determined for his class at the very least to not be a statistic, because he cares, because he knows when you know better you do better. This teacher is a class act, and over the years has become more than a teacher to me, he has become a friend.

……

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis (that would be all four of you) you know Christin. Christin and I share a sixteen-year friendship. We have seen each other at our worst, we have seen each other at our best. Christin lost a family member yesterday to suicide. Christin carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. More so now than ever. We will see her through this because, in times of crisis, we look for the helpers.

Now, because Christin knows everything that goes on in my daily life (as I do hers) Christin and the 3rd-grade teacher somehow conspired against me.

A few weeks ago when our local Seattle Seahawks played my beloved NY GIANTS these two decided to take advantage of my weakness for my team and made a bet with me.

I will not bore you with the details. All you need to know is I lost. So here I am trying to make good on my bet. The bet was I would have to write a blog singing the praises of the 3rd-grade teacher and Christin while proclaiming my love for the Seahawks.

Easiest bet ever.

You see, I do not have to sing their praises because their actions speak for themselves. Spend thirty minutes in the classroom of this 3rd-grade teacher. Have a phone conversation with Christin while she is working on homework, cooking dinner, and being a mom to her children. Be a fly on the wall when I am at a weak moment, venting to either of them about my own inadequacies, and you will see what I already know. I do not need to sing their praises because if you are lucky enough to know them, then you already know what I know. These are good people, and that is what this world needs more good people……more helpers.

As far as the Seahawks go. Although they are not my number one team, they are a close second. I have been in Washington state for seventeen years. I believe Russell Wilson does amazing work at Seattle Children’s Hospital. A hospital that Gracie has been to by the way. Currently, I believe in the Seahawks more than I do my own team…..who happens to have the second worse record in the NFL this season.

I believe in good.

I believe in this 3rd-grade class, I believe in the teacher, I believe in Christin and I believe in the Seahawks.

I believe in looking for the helpers in times of crisis…..but most of all, I believe in being a good person, because that is who I learn from.

I am a better person because of them.

And I am a better football fan because the Seahawks force me to show loyalty in times of crisis.

~Jennifer

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A Random Act of Kindness Giveaway

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, Christin and I decided to do a small Random Act of Kindness here on the blog. Both of us have been the recipient and the giver of Random Acts of Kindness.

Here are two of our stories.

Christin (The Giver)

It was about 5 years ago on a hot day in July. It was a few days before payday, I had exactly $20.00 to my name. As I walked into the grocery store with my young son in tow, I noticed a young man in his late teens or early 20’s sitting on the side of the building.  He looked dirty, defeated as he sat in the 100-degree sun, with no clouds in sight. I took my son’s hand as we proceeded into the air-conditioned store. I pulled out my list: Milk, eggs, and bread. Calculating the prices in my head, I quickly grabbed the items and got in line. I’m not sure what it was but the young man’s face flashed in my mind. I grabbed my stuff off the conveyor belt as my son followed me to the back of the store.

“Mom, where are we going?”

“We are going to do something nice for someone who needs it,” I said, grabbing some bologna, another loaf of bread, a gallon of water and some bananas.

We got in line again, again I mentally calculated the costs of everything, hoping I would have enough.

“$19.29 ma’am.”

I gave him the $20.00.

We grabbed the bags and walked out the door.

With my son next to me, we walked over to the young man, whose head was hanging low.

“Here, I got you some things,” I said, nervously, holding the bag of groceries towards the young man.

He looked up and for a moment, his eye met mine.

“Thank you so much,” he said, with a hint of a smile.

“You’re welcome,” I said, returning the gesture.

As we walked away, my son turned to me and asked: “Mom, why did you give that stranger food?”

“Because we should always help people when we can. You never know when that could be you.”

He nodded as if he understood.

It might have been a small gesture, but sometimes that’s all it takes to make somebody’s day a little better.

To this day my son still talks about “that time we gave groceries to the guy.”

It was a learning lesson for him to do for others, even if you don’t have a lot to give.

I hope this holiday season you find an opportunity to practice random acts of kindness, you never know how you can brighten someone’s day with a free coffee or even holding a door open.

Jennifer (The Recipient)

November 2002

I was a single working mom of two boys. A toddler and a 9-year-old. Times were tough. I had no idea how I was going to make a Thanksgiving Day meal. In a way, I was lucky. I knew at any time I could call my family, tell them the situation, and they would either send money or a gift card to a grocery store so I could purchase a turkey and all the fixings. It was not an option for me. I did not want my family to worry about me. I did not want them to feel sad while they were having their Thanksgiving Day meal, knowing I was close to rock bottom. So I played it off and never said a word to them.

Wednesday. The day before Thanksgiving, I am working on my budget or lack thereof. My boys were young. They would not know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I had enough money for some chicken tenders and french fries. One of their favorites. I figured I could cook a Thanksgiving Day meal when I got paid, and turkeys would be half off.

I will never forget the next few moments.

Standing in front of the open refrigerator, looking at nothing. I made a mental note to call my friend Alphonso, who just lived upstairs. I was going to ask him to watch the boys while I walked to the grocery store to buy chicken tenders and french fries.

As soon as I closed the refrigerator door, there was a knock at the door. Everyone I know just walks in, so, this was weird. I make my way to the door, slowly opening it. There was no one there. What was there was a large cardboard box. I bent down, almost expecting to find a kitten, for no other reason than I just love cats. There was no kitten. What there was, was something I will never forget. 

Inside the box was a turkey and two boxes of stove top stuffing. I looked around on my very small landing. Nothing. Cautiously, I made my way down the stairs. There is a guy, carrying another box. He passes me, goes up the stairs, and places the box right next to the other.

“Hi, excuse me, I think you have the wrong apartment.”

He pulls out an index card from his jacket pocket.

“Is this Apartment B-303?”

“Yes, I am Jennifer, I live here.”

He places the index card back in his pocket.

“This is the right place. It’s my mother, she does this every year.”

He kinda of motions his head in the direction of the parking lot. 

I see an elderly lady with a cane, walking, carrying a small plastic bag.

“I am sorry, I am confused?”

“Happy Thanksgiving.”

He walks off, meets his mother. Gives her a hug. His mother then turns around and heads back to the parking lot, while giving me a quick little wave.

At the same, I start walking towards the mother and son.

The guy meets me halfway, hands me the plastic bag, and turns around to leave. I look inside the plastic bag and find three pies in there. Two apple and one pumpkin. 

I am more confused than ever. 

The elderly lady and her son are already at their car. I head bag upstairs to look inside the second box. A five-pound bag of potatoes, three cans of green beans, corn, dry milk, and cranberry sauce were looking back at me, along with a small ham.

I sat there for a good 8 minutes or so, just stunned, going through the boxes.

There was a note.

“Happy Thanksgiving. I know times are tough. Remember, this is only the journey, not the destination. When you are able, pay it forward.”

 I cried. 

To this day, I have no idea who these people were. 

And now, well now I am in a position to pay it forward.

And that is exactly what I am going to do.

In honor of Random Acts of Kindness, we are giving away a $50.00 gift card to Wal-Mart for your Thanksgiving Dinner! Please like & share our Vodka Calling page and comment your favorite random act of kindness (given or received). We will draw a random name on Friday, November 10th @ 8 p.m. (PT)

Stay tuned for more flash random acts of kindness giveaways!

Have a Vodka Calling holiday from Jen & Christin!

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May the Best Team Win…

The Bet:  Jennifer and Christin share a sixteen-year friendship. Over the years they have shared it all. All, except for one very important thing. Their favorite football team.

Jennifer, a lifelong NEW YORK GIANTS fan. Born in Queens, NY. On any given Sunday, you would find her father rooting the GIANTS on, or perhaps cursing at the t.v. That would all depend on how well they were playing.

Christin, a SEATTLE SEAHAWKS fan. In her early twenties, Christin came into her own. It was also at this time where she took on THE HAWKS as her one and only team.

It’s been a few years since the GIANTS and HAWKS met up. All will change this Sunday.

And…..just like any good game, comes an exceptionally good wager. Jennifer, having faith in her underdog team, Christin, believing that her team is where they need to be. It all comes to head this Sunday.

The Wager: Jen and Christin will be putting everything on the line. Their dignity, self-respect, and even egos will be sacrificed on Sunday. The losing team will have to provide a video of themselves, professing their love and admiration for the winning team. Said video will then be uploaded to the blog for all to see. Stay tuned for the debauchery that is about to bestow you, may the best team win.

Christin: Let’s look at the facts… Giants have won how many games this season? 1. That’s right folks, 1 game, a fluke some might say. To say that the Giants have a chance against the Seahawks is like saying the 49ers have a chance at going to the Superbowl this year. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

We have one of the best Quarterbacks in the NFL. Russell Wilson. That says it all. We have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Enter Legion of Boom. Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman. If you don’t know about these guys, look em’ up. They are beasts.

It doesn’t even matter that O’dell Beckham is out for the rest of the season. Nope. The truth of the matter is, we are stronger, faster and we play harder.

Tune in on Sunday for the game. My prediction for the score is 42-6, Seahawks, of course. Sorry, Jen. I’m not sure another loss for YOUR team will even matter at this point. Go Hawks!

Jennifer: I am coming at this from a different perspective than Christin. Christin is giving you the facts as they appear on paper. I am giving you heart, emotion, perhaps even what some may call a fairytale. I am giving you the Eye of the Tiger.

When the GIANTS played the Broncos last week, missing their number one wide receiver Odell Beckham, team morale was down. The GIANTS had not yet won a game, and with two of their main guys out, they were certainly the underdog.

No one saw it coming, most of all the fans of both the GIANTS and Broncos, yet, the GIANTS got their win. Their first win of the season, but a win none the less. What changed for them? Did they get a good talking to from their coach? From their quarterback? Who knows.

My theory is my guys wanted to prove to themselves that they could pull off a win without their number one guy. It was not about the NFL, it was not even about the fans. They had to show themselves that they have in them to win…..and they did. This is why I believe, although it will not be easy, they will give us another win against the HAWKS……and this time, not only will it be for them, but this win will also be for their die-hard fans who have stuck with them.

I know they have it in them. I know they can do this, especially in their own house. They will pull off a win for all of the new little girls who may be sitting at home watching the game with their family member, just like I did many years ago. They will pull off a win because, at this point in the game, there is no other option.

 

 

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An unexpected lesson…

Let me explain to you how Sofia’s school morning drop off routine works. All the kids meet in the gym. This is done for safety reasons. Each class has their designated spot. Every day Sofia goes to her designated spot where her class sits, while I stand back against the wall, waiting to hear the morning announcements before starting my day.

Yesterday, Sofia and I got to school a bit earlier than usual. I tell her goodbye. Sofia goes to take her spot on the floor, while I grab my coffee and take my spot on at the wall, right behind her class. I am doing the usual. Checking messages on my phone, checking Facebook, and planning my day. Every now and then I glance up and make sure Sofia is doing okay.

Now, Sofia cannot see me unless she turns around, but I have a perfect view of her and her class. This is when I noticed it. Sofia is sitting next to a group of five girls. All five girls are talking to each other, but no one is talking to Sofia. I put away my phone and pay better attention to what may or may not be happening in front of me. Five minutes pass. Still, no one is talking to Sofia. Ten minutes pass. Still, no one is talking to her.

I start to wonder what is going on. Did something happen between Sofia and her fellow classmates? Is Sofia sitting there, feeling embarrassed because she has no one to talk to? Should I go over there? Of course, I cannot go over there! My heart is hurting for my ten-year-old daughter. I remember my days in elementary school. On the bus, at lunch, even in the classroom, no one would ever talk to me. I felt dumb, I felt there was something wrong with me. The last thing I want is for my own daughter to go through that.

A teacher, who is also a friend,  makes her way over to me. She has some PTA questions. Right before she leaves, I ask her “Lisa, look at Sofia, does she look okay? Do you think it’s concerning none of the other girls are talking to her?”

Lisa takes a moment to evaluate the situation.

“I think it is fine. Remember, Sofia is not a big talker, typically she does not like people. I have no doubt that if Sofia inserted herself into the conversation, those girls would talk to her. In some ways, Sofia is socially awkward, but she is fine, there is nothing to worry about, I will keep an eye out for you!”

I could feel the tears coming. In mere moments I would be standing there talking to Lisa in a gym filled with 300 plus children….and staff, crying. Quickly, I take my scarf and wipe away my tears. “Lisa, say something funny, I cannot have anyone see me cry!” It took Lisa a whopping five seconds to utter the words “Well, I for one think it is hilarious that you do not know how to cook.”

Mission accomplished! I was now laughing. Trying to fix my makeup, but laughing. “You good?” “Yes, I am good, thank you.”

I spent the rest of the day thinking about Sofia. How was her day? Does she have anyone to play with at recess? What about lunch? I mean I know there is assigned seating at lunch, but who wants to eat lunch and not have anyone to talk to? I used to eat lunch in the bathroom because I did not want anyone to see I was “that” kid who had no friends. The same cannot happen with Sofia.

……

At the end of the day, I am back at the school waiting to pick Sofia up. Prepared to do any sort of damage control that I may need to do. I will even order pizza for dinner if that’s what it takes to lift her spirits. I had Gracie with me. If anyone can give Sofia a boost of confidence, Gracie can. I mean just this week Gracie got in trouble for telling a boy to “mind your own damn business.” Gracie is my perfect wingman.

There I am. Sitting at the table in the school foyer. Gracie is bored out of her mind, and we are waiting for Sofia. I am nervous, kind of sad, not sure what to expect.

Finally, Sofia and her class make their way down the hall. It’s the moment of truth….

“Hi Mom, Hi Gracie!

“Hi Sofia, how was school?”

“Mom, seriously, it was the best day ever. I never in my years at school had such a good day at school.”

“What?!?!?!”

“Let’s go, I will tell you all about it in the car.”

Gracie is looking at me like I am nuts, while Sofia has the biggest smile on her face.

In the car I ask Sofia “So tell me about your day, why was it the best day ever?”

“I don’t know mom, it was just different. I had so much more confidence and I wasn’t shy. it was just a good day! How about you, how was your day?”

I figured it was not the best of times to tell her I was crying ugly tears in the gym because I was worried about her.

“Oh, you know, the usual.”

……

Joe is already home by the time I get home with the girls. We walk in the door, and Joe ask “How was everyone’s day?”

“It was the best day ever dad, just amazing!”

Joe glances at me, expecting me to elaborate. I got nothing.

While the girls are talking to Joe, I sneak outside to call Christin. I give her the rundown of everything I just talked about here.

After a few moments of gathering her thoughts, she said to me “Jen, it’s important to remember that our kids have their own experiences, their own feelings, their own highs and their own lows. We have to give them their own space and not assume they are going to deal with their problems the same way we did.”

After much overthinking, I came to the conclusion that both Lisa and Christin are right. Sofia chooses not talk to some people. Not because she does not like them, maybe because she is just getting ready for her day, and prefers to do that in silence.

A situation that I took as a negative, was really nothing. It had no impact on Sofia’s day. She did not even mention it. The moral of the story, Sofia is okay. She is more than okay. Sofia is coming into her own, in her own way. What may have shattered me as a child, does not have the same effect on Sofia.

As for me, I need to learn to let go of my fears. I need to realize that my past experiences and how I reacted to them will not be hers. My kids, they are just a better version of me.

And that is exactly how it should be.

lesson

 

 

#MeToo

Jennifer’s #MeToo Story

Many of you have heard about the #MeToo Movement that is taking Social Media by storm.

Now, my only complaint about the #MeToo Movement is I do not need “all woman.” If you tell me you have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted, I will believe you, because you are enough. Your one voice is enough. If you are a woman if you are a man I will believe you because as a human, it is my job. It is not my job to judge, it is my job to believe.

With that being said, here is my story.

I was a single Mom, in my mid-twenties who found myself in a less than ideal situation. My very good friend and her husband graciously opened their home to me and my young boys. They were offering me a chance to get on my feet while allowing me to save some money so I could move on to the next chapter of my life.

I had been living with them for a month. Things were going well. The boys and I became part of their family. We would cook dinner together (Well, I would watch them cook) we would have “Movie Nights.” At one point when a guy show interest me, they told me he was not good enough, to never settle.

I was introduced to their extended families. On occasion, we would spend the night out, at her sisters beautiful home. I had the entire bottom floor to myself. I felt good, I felt relaxed, I felt as if I was getting better.

One weekend, my friend was booked up with church activities. I had the weekend off from work, my boys were in a safe place. It was just me, alone for the weekend. Without my boys there, I did not know what to do with myself. I had the entire weekend free and yet found myself depressed. Listening to Matchbox Twenty on repeat. At this point in time, I had not yet learned how to be “me” without my boys.

My friend called me from her church activity. She encouraged me to go to the Bite of Seattle with her husband. She wanted me to get out of the house and not sit around feeling sorry for myself.

With some prodding from her and her husband, I finally agreed.

The Bite of Seattle was nothing I had ever seen before. There were food vendors, music, and wine tasting galore. This was a part of Seattle I had not seen before. I was in heaven. Her husband took pride in showing me all the ins and out of the Bite of Seattle, and I took it all in. Especially the food. My friend was right, I needed this.

As the day was coming to a close, we sat down on a hill, listening to the grunge music that Seattle was best known for.  The Husband and I talked about dinner. We decided on pizza. That way, my friend would be finished up with her church obligations.

Somewhere between talking about pizza and the band switching to a ballad, things took a change. As I was sitting there on a lush green hilltop, sipping on my coffee, he scooted in behind me. His arms went around me. “Turn around kiss me.” I was frozen. What is happening here? “Ya know, we have some time to kill, there’s a motel not too far from here. I can show you a thing or two.”

I had every emotion you could imagine going through me. First I was mad. I was mad that he would put me in this situation. I was mad that he took advantage of his wife’s good heart. His wife trusted him. She trusted me. I was mad that he thought he had the power. I was mad that if he had his way, he honestly thought he could take me to Motel 6 and “show me a thing or two.” I was mad that I now had to drive back home. I was mad that I now had to make very quick choices that would change everything. I was hurt. He took the private conversation that I had had with him and his wife and used them to his benefit. I was sad I that I had allowed myself to open up to him, telling him my concerns about finding a good guy, he took that and used that in the hopes to get a quick lay. I was hurt for my friend, who is one of the nicest, most generous people you will ever meet, I was now hurting for her. I was in disbelief that this guy who at best would be a 3, thought he was something more. I now had hatred. I hated this person, for everything he tried to break.

My struggle had only begun.

It was only a matter of time before people at work found out. Naturally, everyone picked a side.

I was at fault for agreeing to go with him alone to the Bite of Seattle. It was all my fault. There was only one person who had my back. Who made sure through all of this that I was okay.

His wife.

Now the one person who had no reason at all to show me support was the one person who did. While everyone else at work was saying to her “I am so sorry, I am sure she asked for it.” “Do not blame your husband, he is a good guy.” “What was she wearing, that could have contributed to it.”

My friend stood by me, as I did her.

As my friend was working on her marriage, and I was working on my reputation, my friend said to me…

“Jen, I get it. Years ago, it happened to me too.

Christin’s #MeToo Story

We had said Hi in passing several times while working at the store. He was very friendly, always smiling, engaging, even a little charismatic. From another country, I found his accent interesting, always asking about his native home and how it was there on a few occasions when we would coincidentally be eating lunch in the breakroom at the same time.

When I found myself shopping at the store on a day off, he approached me like any other day, a smiling, friendly face.

“Hey what are you doing?”

“Shopping. What are you up to?”

“I’m just getting off my shift.”

“Well, that’s good. I have to finish up some shopping, so I’ll let you get going.”

“Hey, you want to hang out for a little bit.”

“Sure.”

The only thing that was waiting for me was my little studio apartment and my hamster, Hammy. I was in a relatively new state with no family, a handful of friends, and a lot of free time.

“What do you want to do? We can grab a movie or maybe some dinner. There’s a cute little place off Monterrey Hwy.”

“How about San Francisco? You want to take a drive there, I know a little restaurant on the bay.”

I hesitated.

I didn’t know him very well but he was a well-liked guy. Besides, I could’ve really used another friend in the big, busy city.

“Okay, let me put my stuff in my car and we can go.”

I left my car in the parking lot as he insisted on taking his car.

We made small-talk for the next 40 minutes, talking about our families and where we come from. He was a good conversationalist and an even better listener.

Driving into the city by the bay, the place is one of my favorites. The people, the buildings, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli’s… everything.

He and I walked around for a bit, enjoying the sights. Turned out he loved the city too.

We chatted some more as we made our way into the quaint restaurant overlooking the bay. The sun had gone down, the bright moon reflecting off the dark water.

Dinner was nice, mostly small-talk.

It was getting late, I was ready to go home.

He paid the check after my insistence to pay my part.

“Don’t worry about it. I got it”

We found our way back to his car, making the short drive back to San Jose.

“Hey, it’s late, do you want to just stay at my place tonight?” he asked as we got off the freeway, about 10 minutes out from Wal-Mart.

The question caught me off-guard.

“No, I have to get home. It’s late.” I said, looking at the clock in the car that read 11:09 pm.

“C’mon. My apartment is just around the corner, you can have my bed and I’ll take the couch.”

My heart began to race. My hands became sweaty.

“I can’t tonight. I have some things I need to get done in the morning,” I said, trying to convince him.

Anything to get out of this car.

“It’s fine. I can bring you back to your car in the morning. I promise.”

“I really need to get home tonight.”

“My place is close by. I can give you ride in the morning. It will be okay.”

None of this seemed to be okay. As my heart and my mind raced, I began to formulate a way out.

I looked over and his smile had dissipated. He was now serious, and me telling him “no” was only agitating him.

“I have to get something out of my car,” I said. “I really don’t want to leave it in there overnight.”

“Okay, so you can grab it and then we can go to my place.”

I sat in silence, waiting for the glow of the blue lights of Wal-Mart to appear. The parking lot was desolate besides the few cars belonging to the overnight stockers (Before the stores became 24-hours).

I put my hand in my jacket, making sure my keys were easily accessible. My purse was next to me, ready to be used in any way necessary.

He pulled up next to my car and before the car came to a complete stop, I pulled the handle, jumping out. I hit the unlock button on my keyless remote, grabbed pulled the door open on my car, just as he was jumping out of his. He grabbed my arm just as I was getting into my car, I pulled as hard as I could, shaking out of his tight grasp.  I pulled my door closed and locked it, as he was pulling on the door handle. With my hands trembling, I pulled my keys out and tried to put it into the ignition as he began banging on my windows, screaming at me, through the window, his face inches from mine.

I finally got my key in the ignition through the tears and shaking. I slammed on the gas, and sped out of the parking lot, straight to my nearest friends’ house.

I was violated that night. Maybe not physically, but spiritually and emotionally. My trust was violated. My sense of peace was violated. At 20, my outlook on the world was violated. One person took my good nature, trusting, open vulnerability and tried to take advantage of me.

For many years after, I always thought it was something that I did. Maybe if I hadn’t been so friendly. Maybe if I had insisted to pay for my meal. Perhaps I led him on in some way unintentionally. Only until recently, when preparing my own daughter to go out in the world on her own in 4 short years, did I realize that it wasn’t me, it was him.

It could happen to anyone. It happened to me, too.

me too