I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Archive for December, 2015

The Temptation of Festivus

This girl has been a diehard Seinfeld fanatic for 2/3 of her life. When the episode about Festivus premiered, I was in 8th grade. Jerry Stiller’s Frank Costanza describes his epiphany/creation as such: 

  
I remember hysterically laughing when I first saw this 18 years ago. Part of the brilliance of Seinfeld is that it grows with you; while I still get thigh-slapping laughs from watching this, I now watch this and find myself sympathetic with Frank. Though I’ve not reached the point of raining blows upon someone, I am in total agreement with him – there HAS to be another way to celebrate Christmas. 

As a child, I used to love this time of year. The gifts! The music! The Jesus! I remember caring for them all, and as I’ve grown, my priorities have simply shifted. Sadly, so has my attitude. It is not because I learned Santa isn’t real (although I did just finish watching Miracle on 34th Street), or that I have to buy presents for other people. My Lord, do I wish that was all that Christmas called for – shelling out some cash and calling it a day. Why did Frank rain blows upon the man? He wanted to do right for his family. Who can be mad at those intentions? 

Thus we find ourselves wanting to get into the ‘little c’ christmas spirit, saying things like “It’s not about the presents!” or “Spend time with your loved ones!” These are, indeed, good things all year long. Suddenly, it gets to be after Thanksgiving and everyone remembers how they should have been acting the previous 11 months? Can’t we space out the cheer? Whether it’s preparing a program for work, attending a stupid ass party, or preparing our home for all the family that’s going to converge upon it today, I find myself thinking that this is now my least favorite holiday. 

Don’t get it twisted. I am a Christ-follower. I believe in observing this time of year with special reverence. However, like Frank, I find myself without the peace and reflection that anticipated his coming. I, too, seek another way, but sadly, I have found my heart becoming too much like the Festivus pole…

  
Cold and impenetrable. I, here and now in this post, am airing my grievances! I am sick of all of the things that get in the way of truly observing the miracle of Christmas. It’s not the commercialism; it’s all y’all. Sorry. Running around like a crazy person for four weeks is costly as well. 

As I was putting ornaments on our Christmas tree a few hours ago (just in time!), I noticed that the leaves were starting to shed. I paused and smiled to myself. I hope my heart is always more like a live Christmas tree than a Festivus pole, with evidence of His presents? Presence. Heh. There should be light. The ornaments are like all of the people who make my life better. Yes, sometimes their presence makes some of my leaves shed. I may even feel weighed down at times. Like the tree, I am more beautiful for having them. 

Thank you for being on my tree! Enough with the parties though, okay? Merry Christmas!

  

The Good Fight

My two previous posts notwithstanding, I don’t tend to dwell on this element of our relationship: 

 

I must confess that there is one time I am given a stark reminder of our cultural differences. Any guess? I’ll wait while you think. 
Would you care for a hint? 

  
Our radio presets, naturally. 

I feel it’s important to note before I proceed that I do not believe in “white music” or “black music” in the stereotypical sense of music belonging to certain listeners. Of course music originates from different cultures, and even subsets of American culture, but all cultures share a need to express feelings through music. I do not think it is inherently bad that people like what they know. Problems occur when we are judged for listening to music that is not “ours.” That’s stupid. Know that when I write “his music,” I am referring to his preferences, not his culture.

I am happy to report that I really dig Adonis’ music. He loves Greek music, classic rock, and soft rock. He enjoys my music as well – soul, funk, Caribbean, classical. We share our music with one another, give our honest thoughts, and have fun taking turns. I’m thankful that our presets will likely never be something to fight over. I do wonder, however, about what our presets represent and how we will handle it as a family. 

Now, I can hear your palm slapping your forehead. “Joan. Maybe music is JUST music,” you think to yourself. But all of us come with all kinds of presets, and most of us think that they are good and worth keeping. Adonis can listen to greek music in my car all day but I’ll be damned if he changes one of my presets. I have a feeling he feels similarly. We are proud of who we are. Thankfully, as American ethnic minorities, there’s not the pretense of thinking that either one of us is “normal,” which, of course, does not exist.

I want my offspring to not just embrace both of our cultures but to be as we are, enjoying exploring outside of their box. I ask myself how I would feel if they rejected my presets. Would that mean they didn’t appreciate that part of their heritage? Am I okay with indifference? Would I be okay if it were the reverse, that they were not into anything Greek at all? All of those potential things perturb me, but not as much as the idea of them feeling like they have so many presets they aren’t comfortable anywhere. I am ‘just’ ethnically mixed (as opposed to racially, at least for the most part) and sometimes it is a fight to feel like I belong anywhere. I think one of the reasons Adonis and I work is because as an immigrant, he has had to fight for the same thing. We’ve found belonging with each other and it is beautiful. I will always fight for my family to be at peace within ourselves and to help foster environments where others are made to feel at peace with us.

Party Politics, Part II

Apparently, Adonis and I had similar takeaways from the dinner party, but mine was more analytical and his more personal. 

Me: Wow. Prejudice is everywhere. Everyone is the same. Heh. 

Him: I can’t believe my friends were not accepting of you! 

Huh?

Initially, this caught me off guard. I suppose it was because the party had a different purpose for me than it did for him; I wanted to be with him and get to know his people. Honestly, the reverse didn’t even occur to me because I do not open up if I do not trust in the exchange of ideas/emotions. I ask questions, I politely engage, I actively listen, but it ends there. 

I reflected upon my bringing Adonis around my circle of friends. I can’t think of an instance where anyone close to me hasn’t made an effort to get to know him and be excited for us. I guess finding the love of your life and an upcoming wedding IS dinner party conversation if you haven’t seen a friend in a while, but it didn’t come up. He lamented that he believes it’s subtle prejudice and that he thought the people he knew were different. “Why?” I said. “The whole conversation last night was about how some people are better than others.” 

Adonis’ reaction reminded me why I get more excited every day to be Mrs. Katsopolis. I hate that he was upset, but I love that he knew there was something over which to be upset. I love that we can be honest in a non-threatening way with each other despite our different backgrounds. While the idea that we live in a post-racial society is complete nonsense, when I am out and about I am likely to assume mistreatment/lack of interest is due to self-absorption or insecurity, a lot of which I saw last night. It’s just not a far leap to think that if you think you are the best thing to happen to civilization that I would be looked at as inferior. Solomon said it best:  

“A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I think it really sucks for Adonis that by choosing to marry a black woman he will likely not be able to show me off in the way he wants to. He’s losing some of his privilege by choice! How amazing is that?! He sees things in people he wouldn’t have seen if he were not with me. I say this because it humbles me – he is proud of being with me and wants others to appreciate me, too. It’s not that the feeling isn’t mutual; I think life has just taught me to expect less from people. No matter what is on my inside, I’m simply not going to be seen as a catch by society. Not everyone in my family grasps what a catch I have, either. The only difference between he and I is that I was prepared for this. I’ve been prepared all of my life for this kind of foolishness, from all sides. I know that I’ve hit the freaking jackpot, but if you don’t see that it’s really not my problem. What can we do other than that get married and start making cinnamon babies to piss off more people? 

 N.B. I feel like Adonis would want me to tell you that he is actually taller than I am. Don’t let my heels fool you. 

Party Politics, Part 1 

I did something a little crazy on Friday night. 

Per usual, I was talking to Adonis throughout the day when he drops this bombshell on me: 

We’re invited to a dinner party. Tonight.

  
If you know me, you know that 1) I am the type of person who plans her spontaneity and 2) I am not one for large, non-family gatherings. Make no mistake – this is not because I am uncomfortable around a lot of people, as someone recently surmised as I turned down a different invitation. It’s that I like real, intimate, BS free conversations with individuals and it’s difficult to get past small talk at these parties. I get that it is an important way to show love to people, but it burns me out. Moreover – what’s with the 6 hours notice? Clearly we can’t be that important to these people. That being said, Adonis rarely asks me to do anything like this, and he accompanies me to fun things like races and concerts, so I didn’t put up a fight. Though we’ve been together quite some time, I haven’t met too many of his people because of his crazy chef schedule, and I knew this was a golden opportunity.

Because the party was located in between us geographically, we met there. I also figured that I would be able to leave when I needed to in order to sleep on time; I hate being held party hostage! Basically, nothing was of note until the after-dinner conversation, which turned to politics. “Finally!” I thought. “Some action.” Greeks are like Jamaicans, in that every conversation eventually turns to politics, so I was very comfortable. 

For the next hour and a half, I think I spoke maybe – 5 times? 10? I sat mostly in silence. I am one not to speak unless I feel it will be productive, and it was the type of conversation where I knew it would not be. It’s quite normal for people discussing politics to have an agenda and not really listen to what the other persons are saying. Basically, it seemed like a d*** measuring contest. I smiled to myself as I earned good fiancee points and listened to his friends talk about everything wrong with Greece and all the people they blame. 

My favorite part of the evening was when the conversation turned to “good people.” They were talking about “real” Greeks and how people on certain islands are no good and how their not being “truly” Greek explained it. I laughed inwardly. People everywhere are the same – everyone thinks they are the best and everyone else is second class. 

As bedtime approached, I excused myself for the night. Adonis said he would follow soon after. Not gonna lie, another reason racing is one of the best things to happen to me is that I have a legitimate excuse to escape social foolishness. However, I can’t say it was a wasted evening; in fact, it was quite interesting as sociological experiment – the way I believe a dinner party should be enjoyed. 

The Confession of Confessions 

  
My God, I am needy. 

I’ve spent 30 years trying to deny it, but now that I am engaged, the jig is officially up. What is a wedding if not a public admission of lack of self-sufficiency? Blah blah love blah blah family blah blah big ass party. Don’t get it twisted – I could not be happier to profess my neediness before the Lord and forever intertwine my life with that of Adonis. I would be remiss, however, if I did not reflect upon that which has helped me arrive here. 

I must admit that this denial of being needy has been rooted in fear. If I truly need something, will I be able to get it? Let’s pretend that the need doesn’t exist! Do I really need to elaborate upon all that I have needed from my parents? I am blessed to witness their stable, loving relationship. They’ve demonstrated their love for Christ and shared Him with me. They gave me music lessons! Learning to play this beautiful music has brought not only joy but wonderful teachers, colleagues, and now students into my life to shape me into the woman I am. The discipline I’ve gleaned as a musician has helped me commit to running and fitness, which has brought another amazing cohort of people into my world.
I am confident that March 12 will be the best day of my life to date because it will be the day that I am finally celebrating my neediness. It is this need that has helped me the strong person I need to be in order to risk being permanently vulnerable. No celebration can be recognized as such, however, without the pregame. Apparently, this is to come in the form of a bachelorette party, says society. 

If you know me well, you know that I am a long-range planner. I picked my bachelorette weekend six months ago. “Why am I just hearing about it?” You asked that at JUST the right time. Inviting people to something like this means I need you, and that still makes me uncomfortable. I have needed amazing girlfriends all of my life, and I will continue to need them after I am Mrs. Lady J. I don’t just want to celebrate getting married. I want to celebrate with the wonderful women who have helped me become who I am. I want to celebrate the life God has given me and the people He has given to me. I want to be the best friend I can be because I’ve been given such wonderful friends. I need you to run or walk beside me, just as you have been doing, whether it’s been for 20 years or 20 months. 

I need you. 

Beautiful Liar: Race Report 

I am one of the least honest people I know. 

I don’t say this to say I think I lack integrity. If you ask me anything, you can generally trust that my answer corresponds with reality, as long as it’s not time-related. I run, and I run late. 🙂 I mean that I lie to myself all the time. 

“I will wake up early tomorrow and finish my work.” Lies. 

“I will pick up those clothes this evening.” Lies. 

“I won’t go to Starbucks today.” Bold-faced lies. 

And thus the story of what will be my longest race of 2015 begins – with a lie. 

Now, for a variety of reasons, my longest run for the last 2 months has been 5 miles. Balancing injury and the almost wifey life has proven to be trickier than I thought. Also, sometimes I’m just lazy. Progress sometimes leaves less room for error, I feel. Anyhow, I was in South Florida for the weekend and I learned that I could run with my favorite athlete…

  
That’s right! Serena was repping MY sport, tee hee. I was close enough at one point to touch her but I decided I’d rather run the race than get clocked or go to jail. 

Lie of the Day

I will be happy, regardless of the result. I am not feeling well. I have not had a recent long run. I have no reason to expect that this will be an extraordinary quarter marathon. No pressure. 

Dirty liar. 

In my head, I had a goal of an 11 minute mile pace throughout the race, which would put me around 70 minutes. The 10k I ran in September was 1:16 and change and I actually, by some miracle, am more fit than I was then. 

I felt good as the race started, of course. Plan: walk only as you drink water. Plan going okay for miles 1, 2, 3. I ran (heh) into my cousin on the turn around, who was also running her first quarter marathon. Oh, hey not running more than 40 minutes recently! Turns out those long runs REALLY matter! Moreover, it was 80 degrees on Miami Beach at 8 AM when we started. I found myself dehydrated and having to take real walk breaks by mile 5 to break it up when my HR monitor yelled at me. I am glad I listened to it and didn’t hit my cussing threshold, tired though I was. While I was happy to see the finish line, I hadn’t quite reached desperation. 

Just like everything else in life, it helped when I thought of other people. Thinking of 3M and The Mentor helped take my mind off the moments of self-doubt. Though my time was 5 minutes slower than I wanted, there was actually a lot with which I can be pleased. 

  1. I did it. I wasn’t sure I could, but I did. 
  2. My HR didn’t get too crazy. 
  3. My Achilles didn’t nag me.  
  4. I got to see family.
  5. I saw Serena!
  6. Ray Allen only beat me by like, 20 minutes or so. I’m coming for him. 

Anyone want to volunteer to nag me to make sure I don’t miss any long runs before my half next month? I need people to keep my lying to a minimum…

  

The Race That Almost Wasn’t: Race Report 

1:30 AM: 

Awakened by heavy rain. 

3:30 AM: 

Awakened by bladder, observes continuing heavy rain. 

5:30 AM: 

Awakened by Mommy. 

As we sit in the living room, we realize we have to make a game time decision. 

Reasons to Run: 

  1. We’ve driven 150 miles to be here. 
  2. We paid for our registrations. 
  3. We’re awake already. 
  4. It’s just a 5k – not that long in the weather. 

Reasons not to Run: 

  1. We could go back to sleep. 
  2. “I feel congested from my swim yesterday!” – Me 
  3. “I don’t want to get my shoes wet.” Mom

We decided to get dressed and see what conditions were like and make the call at the park. I suppose we saw all the people getting wet and didn’t want to punk out at that point. As Dad dropped us close to the starting line, Mom said she wanted the umbrella, and it turned out she wasn’t joking. She walked to the start with umbrella in tow. I stood next to her anyway. 🙂 

When the race started, I bid her farewell. My goal was to run between a 10 and 11 minute mile. Honestly, it felt like a lot of work, but as I checked my HR it turned out that my mind was weaker than my body. As I ran, I noticed my sinuses cleared. Each mile was slightly faster than the previous! 

Later, I learned that both Mom and I got 3rd place in our age groups. Maybe the really fast people stayed out of the rain? No matter to me! I am thankful that I showed up. I am not sure if I will be able to finish in less than 30 minutes in a week and a half (it took me 33 and change) but I’m going to give it a go! 

  

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