Monday, February 06, 2012

My Third Grade Self

When I was in 2nd grade, I switched schools. I didn't know anybody at my new school, and I was in a class that had kindergarteners, first graders, and 2nd graders. There were 3 teachers (Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Hagadon, and Mrs. Haff), and 73 students. There were a handful of other 2nd graders, but they were in the 2-3 split across the hall.
In my new classroom there were a lot of kids who had been at Webster for the last year, some even since kindergarten. They knew who was who, and without knowing it I relied on their wisdom to select who might be my new group of friends.

Stay away from Sara, they all said. She picks her nose. I remember thinking this was gross--although I, like every 2nd grader ever, picked my nose, too. Just not in public. But regardless, I heeded their warnings. I was never mean, she just wasn't one of my "regular" friends. I played mostly with Stefanie, Kelly, Julia, and Miti.

I remember in 3rd grade I got invited to Sara's birthday. She was a grade behind me, and I honestly can't remember too many times we played together or anything. I didn't really want to go, but I did. I remember thinking that I was going out of pity, like I was doing her some sort of favor.

At Sara's party, it was me and a girl named Abigail. She didn't go to our school, but I actually remembered her from Kindergarten. She was so cool--she wore a real Chinese cone-shaped hat for Halloween and eyeliner and a real Chinese robe and everything! Turns out, she was one of Sara's good friends. It was only us at the party. I got there and I remember thinking that it was a good thing I came, because apparently nobody else decided to.

Sara's parents took us to the Marquee Theatre, and we watched the play Jack and the Beanstalk. It was so fun! It was a really special and big deal to go to the theatre any time! And then her parents took us out to eat. When we got back to their house, we got goodie bags and they had the coolest things in them.

I remember leaving the party thinking it was the most fun birthday party I'd ever been to. And I remember thinking that I was mad at people for telling me not to like Sara the year before. She didn't pick her nose one time while I was at her party! I remember feeling sorry for her because if I went by the mean things everyone said, and how kids teased her, I would have thought she would be sad. But Sara didn't seem phased one bit.

Looking back on the entire experience I try to evaluate what kind of person I was. And I am convicted every time I remember the pride in my heart, thinking that I was doing Sara a favor by gracing her party with my presence. I am embarrassed that I let my peers influence my perception of someone who could have been a good friend. But I think the thing that sticks with me the most is that Sara invited me on purpose. She got 2 invites, and I was one of them.
Whatever kind of person I was in 3rd grade was the kind of person that Sara wanted at her super-special birthday party. I'd like to think I was the kind of person who was nice to everyone, and didn't participate in bullying. And Sara noticed.

Sara and I never became close friends. But I never believed any negative words I heard about her ever again. And I always defended her if I ever heard anyone talking unkindly. We went to high school together, and got to spend time on the cross country team together. And she was the kind of person who worked hard, and didn't let anyone bring her down.

I want to be the kind of person who doesn't judge people based on gossip.
I want to be the kind of person who people know will stick up for them.
I want to be the person who gets one of two invites because for whatever reason I was special enough. Because who I am made someone feel safe enough to want me around.

I am thankful that Sara couldn't read my mind or my intentions that day. And I'm grateful for the lesson she taught me about how others words can shape our impressions all too easily. And not always for the better.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Here We Are, 9 Months Later....

No, we are not pregnant.

As you may or may not remember, joseph and I got married 9 months ago. And the 3 or 4 days following our wedding were quite eventful. Probably what I would consider the most eventful honeymoon any new couple could have ever asked (or NOT asked) for. And most of those events were like a Ben Stiller movie gone wrong.

Lucky for Team Brevetti, we have a sense of humor. And lucky for us, we've had a pretty uneventful first 9 months of marriage.

So, of course, when the weather starts to get nutty the world must have realized it was off balance. And when the world is off balance, it means that it needs to be shaken back on track. And this is where the events of 9-month-marriage-anniversary-honeymoon-trainwreck begin.

The weather has been uncharacteristically cold these past 5 or so days for an Oklahoma March. On Saturday, we received some cold air from the North that has put our mid-March temperatures of 75-80 degrees down into the high 40's and low 50's. Yes, I realize that this would be typical of Michigan March (so take note, northerners: I am not complaining, merely setting up my story), joseph and I thought this might be a good time to try out our firewood supply.

Saturday evening, our good friend, Eric, brought us some firewood. I was oug grocery shopping, and joseph and Eric took it upon themselves to start a nice fire. It was cozy and comfortable. Joseph and I slept out in the living room together on the couch and enjoyed it. The wood burned itself completely up during the night, and Sunday morning the ashes were waiting for us.

After church, I started another fire and it burned through the afternoon while joseph and Mark had a FIFA date. We were getting pretty used to this comfortable and peaceful way of heating our house just enough to not need the heater, but not too warm that we're burning up. Sunday night, joseph had to drive into work to incubate some bacteria for Monday's experiments. I was nervous about leaving the hosue with the fire not completely dead, so I volunteered to stay behind. We knew we'd be gone only a short while, so we called our next door neighbor (Daniel) to let him know we were leaving and that there was still a little fire burning in the fireplace. I asked him to please call the fire department if the house caught fire, and then to call us. He said not to worry and that he'd stop it with his body and the fire department would not be necessary. Joseph and I laughed about it and drove downtown.

We were gone a lot longer than anticipated, as we stopped by Eric's house and filled the backseat of Rasheed with firewood. And stayed to chat for a little while. When we got home, we found the fire almost out and the house as we had left it.

Joseph put another log on it and re-lit the gas and we pulled a big blanket out onto the floor and fell asleep in the living room again. Monday morning, the fire had gone out, wood was completely burned up, and only ashes were left. Joseph and I went to work as normal.

I had to stay late at school Monday, and it was so nice when I got home to find that joseph had another fire going in the fireplace. We were getting spoiled! He had it roaring particularly well, so we decided (yet again) to sleep on the couch together that night.

Tuesday morning, when I woke up, the fire was out. However, all of the logs were not burned up like on previous mornings. For whatever reason, the fire had gone out before it had used up all its fuel. Before I left for school, I looked at the fireplace and took note of the situation. I blew on the ashes and wood to see if anything was still going. It seemed alright.

I was at school when joseph sent me a text saying that he closed the flu and went to work. This made me a little bit nervous, so I left school during first hour to open the flu. I didn't want our house burning down! Especially with our sweet puppies in their crates! I rushed home, opened the flu, and examined the logs. They were not burning or smoking, but I figured that just in case I should dump water on everything. I took a large glass and dumped 3 or 4 glassfulls of water on the logs and the ashes. They sizzled, and I blew on everything to see if there were any embers still lit. All clear! I rushed back to school.

Tuesday night, we decided not to light a fire. Our house was starting to smell a little bit like smoke, and we wanted to sleep in the bedroom that night. The flu was closed from when I got home from school that day and turned the heat in the house back on. We both noted that the house was stinking a little bit like smoke and I promised I would clean it Wednesday when I got home.

Sleeping in our bed felt nice for the first time in several nights. I woke up around 4AM and noticed that even in our bedroom it smelled like campfire. I was a little annoyed, but figured it was probably my hair and my pillow (which had been out in the living room for the past several days) and went back to sleep.

I'll bet you're wondering when this story gets interesting, huh?
Well, it's about to.

5AM joseph and I are both woken up by the blaring sound of all of the smoke detectors in our house. He and I run out of the bedroom into the kitchen to find that it's full of a vague cloud of smoke. The living room is worse. I grab a towel and head to the hallway to start waving it around to clear the air and I look over to the fireplace to find a significatly well-roaring fire. I quickly pulled my sleeve over my hand and reached up into the fireplace to open the flu. I ran around opening windows and turning on fans and joseph and I were waving kitchen towels furiously trying to get the beeping to stop.
Our fireplace had started itself!

Obviously, the thoughts of "thank goodness we were home!" and "it's a good thing our smoke detectors work" and "we are very lucky it stayed in the fireplace!" were running through my head. But they were equally mixed with "this is probably the most hilarious thing I've ever done at 5 in the morning!" and "this would happen to us!" shooting through my mind as I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the entire situation.

Joseph and I may not like to go out. And we may be somewhat boring in ourlist of extracurricular activities. But I will tell you one thing: Life with Team Brevetti is NEVER boring!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Team Brevetti

I'm not sure where it all started; but joseph and I aren't just husband and wife. We are Team Brevetti. I think that's supposed to mean that neither of us really can accomplish anything without the other. It was particularly obvious when the addition of Team Huckerby and Cragen joined our family in late December. They lived with me in the house (joseph lived at his parents' house), and without joseph's help I could accomplish nothing with them.

We started referring to ourselves as Team Brevetti in soccer. Joseph would pass me the ball, and I would get confused and kick it anywhere but at the goal. I'm pretty sure there was never any team like it.

Joseph and I would talk about how we go together; we're a pair--we are a team. You don't get one of us--you get both. Whether or not you want both, we're a set. And we will be a set forever.

Joseph bought us a wedding present while I was up in Michigan. Of course, I'm not good at waiting on secrets--and joseph isn't very good at keeping them. I asked him if he'd tell me what it was, and he did. He got us a tandem bicycle. It is really difficult to put into words how tickled I was by the thought of us owning our very own tandem bike! I imagined in my head taking rides through the neighborhood, just like the team that we were.

It was thoughtful.
It was romantic.
It was hilarious.
And I loved everything about it!

You may or may not know about me that I am a control freak. Not really uptight, but I like to know my ducks are in a row--so to speak. I like to be in charge, and make lists, and delegate tasks. And joseph doesn't seem to mind a lot of the time, because maybe he sees it as stability? Maybe he knows what to expect? Maybe it's because he'd rather me make a decision than him have to. Perhaps it's a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, we get teased sometimes that I'm the pants. And while we both know that I just happen to be more organized; it's fun to laugh it off. I know I'm a little much at times. And he knows he's a boy at times. And we both know that in the contradictions of our personalities lie the compliments; and thus our teamwork is at its best.

At it's baby-stages best.

On the tandem bicycle, however, I am humbled.
And on the tandem bicycle I realize the places in our relationship on which I need humbling.

I can ride a bike.
I can turn corners.
I can stop.
I can go.
I can (on special occasions) ride with one or (one time) no hands on the handlebars.
It's not that hard.
When the bike starts to wobble, I hold the handlebars and straighten the wheel. Once the bike is straight again, I've gained my balance.
I do not change the posture of my body; I change the posture of the bike.
The bike is what is moving me forward; therefore if it is not straight, I do not go straight.

Apparently, this is not how the average person rides a bike.
The average person rides a bike like it is an extension of his body.
If the bike starts to wobble, he leans to balance the bike.
To turn a corner, he doesn't need to turn the wheel; but only lean his body in the direction he wants to go.
The bike and the person are moving forward together, and therefore must work as one unit to produce the desired result.

I believe that parallells can be drawn between my bike-riding style; and the average person's bike-riding style. But, really if both the bike and the rider are getting there, who cares how?

On the tandem bicycle, I realize the importance of teamwork.

I can't ride on the front of the bicycle.
I can't ride on the front because of how I control a bike. A bicycle carrying two people doesn't turn a corner with just a shift of the front tire. It turns and wobbles out of control.
If the bicycle starts to tip or wobble, I try to correct it with the wheel; which doesn't work. Especially when joseph is behind me, leaning to counteract the wobble. I feel the lean and interpret it as a loss of balance--when really it is what is needed to regain the balance.

So usually joseph rides in the front.
When joseph rides in the front, however, I don't get to coast and pedal when I normally would. And when I think we're going to top, it doesn't do either of us much good when I jerk the handle bars and turn his seat to the side.
I'm sure he gets annoyed as I squeal at him to slow down when we're going too fast; or gasp as he leans into a turn I wasn't expecting.
When we hit a bump and sort of skid and I say, "why did you do that?!" like it was his fault.

Riding on the back of the tandem bicycle makes me realize that I have to trust joseph to be in control. And that when he's driving, the only way I can help us get to where we need to go is to be on his team.
I have to work with him; and lean with him.
I have to not only be one with my team mate; but also with the vehicle that's taking us to our destination.

It's a lot of control that I like to have that I just don't get to have.
But we'll never get there if I don't let go of the way I've always done things.
We'll never get there if I can't trust my teammate to never steer us wrong.

One of these days we'll get good at riding our bicycle.
One of these days I might even be humble and mold-able enough to be in the front.
One of these days we won't wobble
And we'll always get there together.

Monday, July 05, 2010

For Better, and for Less Better

I am certain that getting married has immediately made mine and joseph's lives instantly more interesting. I have never had a more eventful week full of things that didn't go quite right than this past week.

So, I can say with confidence, that being married is VERY exciting!

Here's the lowdown:

Three hours before our wedding, Livonia was hit with a massive storm that sent tornado sirens whirling. It was pretty exciting, considering not everyone gets tornadoes on his or her wedding day!

The night of the wedding, joseph and I checked into the Embassy Suites in Livonia to stay the night. We no sooner get into our room and I walk back toward the bathroom and the fire alarm starts going off. Still dressed in our wedding attire, we rush to open the door....and no one is outside their rooms. I call the front desk and they send the building engineer up to check it out; and he declares it a-OK. But not before telling us a 4-minute joke.
So later on--maybe about an hour or so--joseph and I are watching soccer (on a TV whose volume would not go below 22) and the fire alarm goes off again. joseph goes to check out the door, just in case it's real this time. It's not. So I called the front desk. They graciously gave us a new room.

Sooooo, still giggling about our unfortunate happenstance, we head back to my parents' house to pack up for our drive up north. We had intended on staying in a Holiday Inn in Petoskey for a night; and then some friends from church so generously let us stay in their cottage in Boyne City for a few nights! The drive up north went well and uneventful. We checked in to our Holiday Inn suite.

...and then we got the text....

Our friend, Katie, had been puppy-sitting our puppies and she'd been texting us pictures of our little guys just to say 'hi.' joseph had told her that we liked the updates, so we get an update that says something like ..."uh, where's your vacuum?" and it had a picture of the back office room that the puppies decided that they wanted to eat. Whoops! It was equally horrible and hilarious at the same time (note: MUCH less hilarious in person....SORRY Katie!).

Our stay at the hotel was a little less exciting than the fire-alarm stay at our first one. Especially since their "complimentary limo service" wasn't up and running that particular night. We ate at Wendy's.

So we get up to drive over to Boyne City to stay in the cottage. We're pretty excited because it's on a lake. And there's kayaks--neither of us had ever kayaked before, so it was appealing. There was a lot of wind off the lake, so our first day in town we were pretty cold walking around trying to find a bar that was playing the soccer game. We spend the rest of that day watching Transformers 2 (it took the rest of the day because it was so inappropriately long) and we're in the middle of Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 2: Earth so we watched several of those.

We knew we were going to Mackinac on Thursday, so we'd planned on kayaking Wednesday. It was about 65 degrees when we woke up; and headed to a high of 73. I didn't quite realize how dead-set on kayaking joseph was until he had his swim trunks on. I put on my suit and we headed down into the windy morning to grab our ships and walk down to the water. joseph was in the blue plastic kayak that you sit down inside; and I was in a green one that sits up above the water and is more of a foam material.
The water was much less cold than I'd expected; and while the waves were high, we were both having a lot of fun. We let the waves a current carry us for a while; and then we decided we'd better start paddling back. It was pretty tough going against the waves, but manageable. I'd finally gotten in the grove of things, and I yell back over my shoulder to joseph that I don't think it will be as hard as I thought. ....and he's not there. I do a double-take and see that he's tipped his kayak and is furiously struggling to drain it and trying to get back in. There's no way for it to drain, so it's sinking lower and lower in the lake and joseph is spitting through the waves that keep crashing in his face. I paddle over and ask him what I can do. He gives me his paddle. I start panicking and brainstorming possible solutions and ask him if he wants to paddle my kayak in and come back to help me. He doesn't answer; and I can see he's getting more and more frustrated and angry. I am getting more and more afraid, so I look around and see that we are about two or three hundred meters from some of the shore and I just start paddling as fast as I can. I realized that it wouldn't be of any help if we had two kayaks and couldn't get back in either.
I got up to the shore and pulled the boat and the oars up on the rocks to set so they wouldn't wash away. I jumped back in the water and started swimming out to jospeh. I hadn't realized how bad the waves were until I was swimming against them without the kayak. I finally get out to him and I took his kayak to give him a break so he could float/swim back into shore. I pulled the kayak in and we both (tired as anything else) cut our feet trying to get it out of the water onto the rocks on the shore.
So we're giggling a little bit about how we're glad we didn't drown on our honeymoon. And now we have a half mile to walk two kayaks and paddles back to the cottage. Let's just say that this part of being married was SO exciting, we both slept for the rest of the day.

Thursday, we woke up and packed up all of our things to leave the cottage and head out to Mackinac Island. I won't go into much detail here, but let's just say we didn't explore much because one of us got really sick. Sort of a bummer, but we got fudge and salt-water taffy so that's really all you need.

We stayed Thursday night at a hotel in Flint, MI because we have been waiting for the movie The Last Airbender to come out for EVER. So we wanted to see it! I'm not going to go into too much detail there, but if you know Flint; understand the truth in certain stereotypes; and put the two made for another adventure!

Friday and Saturday we stayed at my parents' house. Pretty boring--I hardly expect the rest of the years of our marriage to compare with these "normal" days and nights.

Especially when our drive on Sunday happened!

So we are barely on the road--we're on I-69 heading out of Michigan and into Indiana. We're about 7 miles north of the Indiana border and Rasheed starts to feel like I'm driving over rumble strips--but I'm not. So we pull over to the side of the highway, and sure enough, we've got a hole in the side wall of our back driver's side tire. I called my insurance people and they call a towing company that will put us in contact with the closest available tow-truck (did I mention that it's July 4th?). So we get the call that someone is coming to get us; and that we have about an hour.
joseph and I, being so adventurously married, pull out a blanket and UNO and Phase-10 from the car and have ourselves a little road-side card-playing date. Joseph beat me in UNO, and in an amazing tenth phase comeback goes out before me on the last hand and beat me at Phase-10 also.

The tow truck shows up, and the guy hooks up Rasheed and we start driving back into town (we called a Wal-Mart Tire Center and they had what we needed). We start talking and he asks us what brought us from Oklahoma to Michigan. We told him that it was our wedding. He congratulated us; and told us that he actually wasn't from Michigan, but lived in LaGrange, Indiana (just over the Indiana border--where my mom is from). But his landlord was from Oklahoma and would call in March or April and talk about how it was golfing weather in Oklahoma. I'm listening (you know....small talk is something you just have to do when riding in the front middle of a truck with a stranger), and I say, "that's so funny! My grandparents live in Oklahoma and rent a house out in LaGrange!" To which he looks at me and says, "what's their name?"
Let's just say I called my grandpa later to let him know that Joe Pardo says hi, and that he and his wife are back together and doing great!

How funny! It pretty much made my whole entire day!

After about a 3 hour delay (all total), joseph and I get back on the road. We stop to eat just outside Indianapolis for dinner, and then by the time we're back driving through the city it's just getting dark. Making our exciting marriage even MORE exciting, we had a 360 view of choice fireworks going off in ALL directions! There were the official ones going off in the downtown; there were some up the river; lots coming from back and front yards; it was the greatest thing!

So we're back home in Oklahoma now; and unpacked and rested from our trip. It's good to be home. It's great to be married. And I am excited to see the rest of our marriage live up to the excitement of the first week!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Emperor's Clothes

There's a lot of things I think people do, say, or like because they feel like they're "supposed" to.

Green tea. It is undeniable that green tea tastes a little bit like grass and dirt. And also that it looks like pee. Sometimes, there's a variety of green tea that has a flavor (from a fruit or another flower), or even some added sugar. But I'm talking about green tea all by itself, prepared in just boiling water.
It tastes like grass and dirt.
But yet an alarming number of people claim to "love it." Or that it's "so refreshing." Last I checked, hot grass in a cup is not refreshing.
I think that everyone secretly believes those commercials and ads that say things about green tea raising your metabolism and making people skinny. And therefore, they convince themselves that they like it so they don't have to admit that they're secretly hoping it makes them skinny.

The Coen Brothers. There's no denying that they've made some entertaining movies. They've done some great work. Be it quick and witty dialogue; creative and engaging cinematography. I happen to enjoy 3 and a half of their movies very much. And one of them decently well. I'm not sure I see the "genius" of their work. I just enjoy the quirkiness and story of these particular movies. But then they come out with A Serious Man and reviews come out about it that it's their "best work yet." Or "the masterpiece they've finally hit." Or "deep and meaningful."
Okay....I can't say that I've seen the entire movie. Because I was so bored of it I turned it off. But it quite literally had nothing happen for the entire movie. There wasn't any character development. There was no plot. No conflict or resolution. No climax. No theme. Not even really a continuous story. It's not even like they were following a character through any particular event or situation. Nothing happened.
But people in droves were running to talk about how much of a masterpiece this movie was.

Modern Art. A red rectangle on a black velvet canvas. Spikes of glass hanging from the ceiling with a creative title like "Tears of God." An old shoe nailed to a wall covered in torn and mosaic-ally tiled cereal boxes. People pay hundreds of dollars to go see this stuff in a museum and stand around and talk about existentialism and the meaning of life and how well it's conveyed in the painted belly of a pregnant woman standing in the living art display in the far left corner. Pictures that could have been taken out of a kindergartner's backpack and put in the hands of the right person could make millions of dollars because someone important said it meant something real.

I feel like people want to be seen as smart. Intellectual. And things like the Coen Brothers and Modern Art are supposed to be "smart." And I think that people are afraid of "not getting it." They don't like to walk away from a movie by people who typically challenge us thinking "what?" They walk away afraid that "maybe I just didn't get it." Like in English class when the teacher manages to find a reoccurring theme that you never saw coming.
"How could I have possibly missed that!?" And I think that the Coen Brothers are smart enough to realize this. So they make a movie that means absolutely nothing. No themes. No story. No plot. And put it out and people have no choice but to walk away from it outwardly saying, "oh....It was so deep and complex....I can hardly explain it. The only thing to say is that it's brilliant!" While inwardly all they can say is, "...wait.....what?????"
Modern art. Nobody gets it. But nobody wants to admit that it makes no sense. Because they don't want to be the person who "just isn't deep enough."

Movies and paintings don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. They're meant for entertainment. But if you think about how afraid people are of not being able to see the magical clothes; it makes me worry what happens when somebody important relies on the praises of how great they are.

Nobody wants to be the one to tell the emperor he's naked. Even if he already knows.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Growing Up Stole My Christmas

Here is my disturbing realization:

Christmas Day is just a day.
Christmas is the celebration of Christmas.

This year, I will be waking up on Christmas morning alone in my house. Probably without a tree. Or lights. Or presents. Or stockings. Because it's just me here. And it's making me realize that December 25th doesn't mean anything.

The day that's going to count for me is January 1st or 2nd when I get to be in Tulsa with my sisters, brother, and parents.

Friday, November 20, 2009

This Didn't End Up Where I Expected. . .

I don't respond well to displays of disobedience.
I don't think it's funny to cause mischeif, or to make big messes for the sake of "having a little fun."
Food fights, toilet-papering, and other "harmless" acts of vandalism don't amuse me.

I always hated The Cat in the Hat for this very reason. Even when I was a little kid in kindergarten or first grade I remember not liking this book.
I don't understand what sort of lesson can be learned when a grown-up (in my mind, the Cat in the Hat was a grow-up) shows up and tells two little kids to disobey their mother. And not to just disobey her--he practically destroys their house. And for some reason, it's all okay in the end just because they cleaned it up and she never found out?
That never made any sense to me.

I also never liked the book Where the Wild Things Are. It's often a childhood favorite of many. People tell me they love it because it's so imaginative. When I was little, I hated even looking at the pictures because I thought they were so ugly. But what I really didn't like was that the little kid was so mean to his mom. And then he went to this ugly place and was mean to these monsters. And then he gets to come back home and have his dinner waiting for him.

Funny, now that I've shortened the plot (if you could call it that) to that short few sentences; it reminds me of all the same reasons I really struggle with seeing King David as a hero. . .

I don't like it when people don't get in trouble for their actions.
And for their disrespect.
And when they leave messes that other people have to take care of.
I don't like it when this behaviour is rewarded.
And I don't like it when characters like the Cat in the Hat and mean Max (isn't that his name?) are considered the "hero."

I think the heroes should be the ones who are bigger than me and can forgive the little punks who break the rules. . .

The One who is bigger than me and has forgiven all the little punks who break the rules. ..