Saturday, November 30, 2013


     Now that I spectacularly failed the opportunity to have a talk with Taka, I was of two minds. I gave a thought to how I can repay him for being unapproachable and blowing me off. Then I gave in to my realization that it was my fault that it happened this way. He didn't have a motivation to act any different, because I didn't give him a reason to do so. 
     This morning started well. I was dreaming that we were in the kitchen. I was walking around, serving breakfast to Roberta, when my dad said: "I guess I have to ask someone to feed me!" I jumped and began to make him oatmeal...My dad! 
Yep, that's him!

     It was good to see him, specially because he is dead! I wanted to laugh and to cry, instead I woke up
 - "Toyoda-san, Dina, come quick, we have a big problem!" 
- "What's the matter, Dr. Park?!"
- "No, come quick!"
Taka went first, I had to still get dressed. By the time I ran out of the bedroom, Taka was coming back with an annoyed look on his face.
- "What happened?" - I asked
- "Nothing! Go make sure he stays out of the way!"
     Outside of the house, on a usually quiet Saturday morning, was a pandemonium. Three huge trucks growled and puffed on both sides of the street. At least ten men in yellow workers' jackets milled about, and Park hopped around in their midst like a mad rooster.
images (183×275)     - "You have to tell them! They should've called us first!" The words were shooting out of his mouth. He was really mad.
- "Dr. Park, leave it alone, let us talk with them. Please, keep out of it!"
- "Yeah, go tell them! They should've called us first!"
images (266×190)     What the problem was, I couldn't see. The workers were there to clear out the tree that fell to our side from the neighbor's property. I found the boss, asked him some important questions and went back home. Later on, I came out to tell them to be careful not to damage or cut our own trees, but they did it anyway. The nectarine sapling that we planted in my dad's memory was cut in two. Maybe, that's why he decided to visit me this morning!
     Park kept on huffing and puffing. When his phone rang, he tried to force it on me to talk to Patrick S. 
- "Here," - he said - "Just explain the situation to him!"
     By that time I was really fed up with him. Patrick had nothing to do with any situation that concerned our household! I waived Park away, and he went off telling Patrick what happened. I should've taken that chance to thank Patrick for repairing my van's back door, but Park's interference prevented me from thinking rationally. 
     All the while, I tried to think of what to do about Taka. I treated him nicely and, when he came out to the kitchen, hugged him and told him that I was sorry for getting mad last night. 
     The rest of the day went normally. Roberta and I were going to a salon to do our hair. Park got jealous and said that he'll go with us and then take Roberta for a picnic in a park. It was quite a departure from our plan, since Roberta decided to go to a salon to get away from him, but we complied. We took separate cars and left.
images (200×138)images (225×225)     The salon was very crowded. Park had to wait for more than two hours until we were done, and then Roberta declared that she was too tired to go to a picnic. I can only imagine what kind of frustration he felt!

Little Hanah is having ice-cream with her grandpa.

Friday, November 29, 2013

HOWL!!! "Puppies Learning to Howl Compilation" || CFS

OK, I admit, I do want to howl from frustration at myself right now!


     The plan was for me to use non-violent communication in talking with Taka. I should've said that I notice that we don't talk much about anything, and that it is a necessary part of any family's life. "I need to hear what you are thinking and feeling. Would it be possible to go somewhere and spend some time together talking?" That's what I was supposed to say. Instead this idiot (myself) just asked Taka to go for a cup of coffee together. I wrote about it in a previous post. He refused. In the evening, he came out and proposed to go get donuts from Krispy Kreame drive-through. I thought: "Here is my chance," - jumped in the car, got the Ungame cards out and again forgot all about the non-violent thing. Why is it important to do it that way? Because telling him what I feel without blame is just that - telling him about my thoughts and feelings. It is not trying to change him. On the other hand, trying to get Taka to go with me and then starting the whole Ungame thing is, kind of, manipulative, and looks like an attempt to change him. At least, that's what I heard from Mr. P. and agreed with... then.
     What happened? Taka totally blew me off! I want to say: "Of course!" - but am trying to have a more positive attitude. I got really mad at him, but it was, in essence, my fault. 
     What is it that makes me act so stupidly? How could I forget the most important part of the action plan? By the way, the action plan was for me, and not to ambush or influence Taka. Still, it didn't work, since I didn't follow it.
     Mr. P. would, probably, say: "Condemning my imperfections has never enhanced my appreciation of life or helped me to love myself more (he would've been proud of me: I remember it by heart)". I don't know, what I did was pretty stupid!


images (275×183)     I felt safe in my assumption that things between Taka and me are doing better. Maybe because of his advancing age and less Testosterone coursing through his veins (my mother always did say that he'll become milder with age). Maybe, because of people praying for us; maybe - because of all the ancestors' interference - we began to have less fights and understand each other better. Of course, I also learned to shut up and keep my opinions to myself to avoid  annoying him or simply started to behave like he was a tenant of whom I took care. It's been two years since that change took place. I settled in the belief that this is what I have to do to keep peace and, perhaps, get things to be a little better. I felt better!
jpeg (193×262)
It says in Russian: "No blabbing!"
     Last week's Al Anon meeting proved me wrong. I read from one of the books there. My page was about the way relatives of an alcoholic begin to feel, when he/she stop drinking. They are happy, of course, but then they notice that 1. Their relative changed his character and routine, and it's harder to anticipate what he/she will do. 2. Before the change it was easy to blame all the problems on drinking, but now it becomes apparent that even though the drinking stopped, most problems are still there.


     I read that page and was called upon to explain how this relates to my life. I talked eloquently and clearly (at least I want to believe that). I felt my lips move but didn't believe a thing that I said. It was about the change in Taka and myself, but I was ju-u-ust  missing some major point, because even to my ears my words sounded hallow. Besides that, I began to experience this painful feeling in my chest, the anxiety, the panic eating me from inside. I couldn't identify the reason for it. Outwardly I was happy and carefree. Inside I became more and more confused and depressed, because I realized that despite assuring everyone in how much better the relationship with Taka became, something must be wrong for me to feel this new fear.
images (307×164)     Today Mr. P. opened that same book and found the page that I read. I read it again. And again. An idea began to crystallize in my mind of why I got anxious. I said it even before I finished to fully form it. "I realized that I have to leave that place that I considered emotionally safe these two years. Just staying out of each other's way and being codependent does not create a true family relationship." 
jpeg (225×225)     Mr. P. strengthened that realization by advising me on how to start creating that relationship. He looked truly excited. He ran to his saddlebags (he rides his bike everywhere with 30 lbs saddlebags of books and materials on it). He brought back a stack of cards. They were a game that he likes to play called, the Un-game. On each card there was a simple or - not a very simple - question. What the players do is, each take turn in answering those questions. That makes for a nice way to find out about each other and have an easy give-and-take together. My assignment was to get Taka to have a cup of coffee with me and play the Un-game. Mr. P. trusted me with seven of his precious cards (he counted them out and made me swear that I will bring them back to him). 
     As I came home, I was ready to try . I went straight to the bedroom/office where Taka works with his favorite wives, the computers. "Hey, do you want to go get a cup of coffee somewhere?" - I asked airily. "Why?" - he asked showing me a mug on the table - "I already have a cup of coffee!"
     "It's alright!" - I kept telling myself while retreating to the kitchen, and then cited to myself Mr. P.'s quote: "Expectation breeds frustration." "Do not expect him to change, do not try to change him." I was a little disappointed, but - there's always tomorrow!jpeg (254×199)



Yep, sometimes we feel like we are all that: super witty, agile, dressed to the nines... That's when God smiles. It does seem a little sneaky, to catch us at moments when we don't expect any trouble, instead we think ourselves to be on the top of the world! It happens with some of us, like with me, more often than with others. Fate, I guess. Or just stupidity. No, I'll stick with fate!

Thursday, November 28, 2013


     I just woke up. It's nine o'clock in the evening, Taka is watching Adele's concert, struggling to hear through my snoring. I didn't even have turkey today with it's customary after-dinner snooze fest. We had a wonderful feast instead. 
     As we came into Mary's house, the sight of many young people busily preparing to receive guests greeted us. Mary has five sons. Five! Sons. 
     We deposited our own gifts of a beautiful flower arrangement, my "pikes" (remember?) and some veges that needed to find another home (I liberated them from Park who got too much free food from a charity organization) in the kitchen. Mr. M., Mary's husband, was putting last touches on his creation. 
      When the table was finally set, we sat down around it. Young men (including Sonny) were in another room, enjoying their privacy from adults. Mary's youngest son, Daniel, is nine years old; there is a ten years' gap between him and his older brothers. They came in one by one and introduced themselves (it was a trip through the Bible, because all of them have biblical names). There was no sign of Daniel, until I heard some people's laughter and noticed a piece of a blanket that quickly disappeared around the corner - Daniel under it, feeling shy, was doing some reconnaissance before entering the room. 
     To say that Mr. M. did his best for us would be a gross understatement. A huge platter stood in the middle of the table with rows and rows of various sushi prettily arranged on it. Smaller plates with slightly seared tuna and sashimi surrounded it. A beautiful bawl of salad with spring leaf mix and thin slices of red radish was a sight to behold. On a side table was spiral-sliced ham (cooked in their oven), chicken, mashed potatoes and asparagus. The dishes on the table were very pleasing to an eye with their unquestionably Japanese simplicity of form and patterns. 
     I was worried about Park. He is biased against the Japanese, and usually doesn't touch their food. He behaved, though, eagerly munching and praising the cook. Taka and I were in culinary heaven, especially, him, because he loves it when Japanese food is made properly by Japanese. We shamelessly plucked one piece of sushi or sashimi after another off their resting places and stuffed our faces, until an idea occurred that there is also some exquisite ham to try, and we'd better save some room for it. You should've seen it! The edges of every slice were blinking and oozing in delightful glaze, the aroma was warm and inviting.
     A conversation jumped from food to sports (the boys were watching football and, time to time, reporting score to the parents).  Talking gradually became more interesting than the food, and we turned our minds away from the beckoning platters, except sometimes thoughtfully tapping our stomachs as if checking for any available space in them and furtively picking our teeth behind guarding hands. 
     Mr.M. is not only a gifted cook but also quite a philosopher. He  knows surprisingly a lot about American schools and politics. We all had something to add to a discussion, so it continued for a couple of hours. Finally, Park, who was visibly bored since he could not monopolize conversation and played with his IPhone for the last half an hour, declared that Roberta was tired and it was time to go home. She seemed startled by that statement for a few seconds but complied and ruefully smiled at us. We didn't even get to have the desert. 
     At home I put away the loot or food that we brought with us from our friends' house. Both cats were of an opinion that they were reprehensibly overlooked in the whole Thanksgiving feasting activity, so I let them have a few pieces of my precious ham (my own, my precious!). When Taka raided the refrigerator and brought back a plate of food, they were right on top of him. And just like that, with a plate of leftovers in front of me I knew that our THANKS-HA-GI-NUKAH-VING was over. 
                                                Mazel Tov!
Hmm, thinks Chickie, I thought there would be more food!


Married or not… you should read this.

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.
Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?
I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!
With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.
The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.
In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.
This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day. She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.
I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.
My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.
On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.
On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.
She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.
Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.
Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.
But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy. I drove to office…. jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.
She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart. Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.
That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed – dead. My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce.— At least, in the eyes of our son—- I’m a loving husband….
The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves.
So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!
If you don’t share this, nothing will happen to you.
If you do, you just might save a marriage. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”