Thursday, August 23, 2012

For The Love of Typhoons

There are all kinds of storms brewing around us.  Typhoon Tembin has been threatening to invade our small tropical island for daaaays.  Seriously, this is the most wishy washy typhoon I've ever met, she looks like she's heading this way, but then she's taking her sweet time, giving the weather forecasters and the general public plenty of time to create drama.  The intensity, the direction, the speed, the amount of rain it will bring, the level of winds that will come, all this changes as fast as my daughter changes her mind about what to have for breakfast.  Though our young maiden typhoon Tembin is indecisive, she has a suitor!  Yes, another typhoon is trailing behind her, and get this:  his name is Beloven.  No kidding?!  "Beloven Be Lovin' Tembin." The setting is perfect as Tembin makes landfall on the Chinese Valnetine's Day. Okay, enough with the cheesy puns, people, two typhoons heading straight for us, this means business.  Stock up on stuff, cuddle cozy with your family, it's time for a storm.

This afternoon I went grocery shopping in preparation for some indoor days.  Supermarkets in Taiwan are often scattered with various sales people offering samples of food items being sold.  It is very popular amongst Taiwanese people but I typically find them irritating in the way one feels when one is being forced to buy something one doesn't want.  I am browsing the aisles with my extra large umbrella (it had started raining on my way in the store) sticking awkwardly out of my tiny shopping cart.  A saleslady shoves a morsel of food on a toothpick in my face offering a sample and as usual I pull a crafty evasive maneuver with a quip of "no thank you" before moving on.  A few moments later, I hear her call out after me in a tone of voice stripped of the sales pitch,

"Has it started raining outside?" She didn't miss my ginormous rain gear.

"Yeah, yeah it's raining."  I'm a little disoriented having been interrupted from my focused path to the next destination: frozen peas.

"Is it raining hard?" The supermarket is three levels below ground floor, she really has no idea what the weather is like.

"Yeah, it was starting to rain big drops out there."

"Is it windy?"

"Yeah, wind is starting to pick up."

"So it's coming, the typhoon is really coming."

We exchange shy smiles filled with an air of nervous excitement knowing the storm's upon us as I continue my errand.  Yet that small conversation lingered in my mind as I reflected on how the weather somehow connected us, two strangers who have nothing in common except a briefly shared space in a department store.  It reminded me of how I must be missing the big picture if I passed by this woman thinking she was just another commercial tool used to coerce an economic transaction instead of a fellow citizen on our little island.  We may have different families, ideas, jobs, background, but we were there in the same geographic location, sharing in the anticipation of a big storm together.  And for that one moment we bonded.

I went through the checkout register and decided to pick up some bread.  As one of the workers at the bakery were helping me, I smiled at her and said, "hey, it's raining outside."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Names, Numbers, Formulas

I just finished up the third week of my new job as an administrative assistant at the school.  My responsibilities include sorting through student applications, compiling lists on excel worksheets, processing information on school demographics records, pulling up attendance reports, and doing this with efficiency and accuracy.  Names, numbers, formulas.

Don't get me wrong, I love office work.  I enjoy staying organized and I play with excel worksheets for fun (blush).  These tasks need to be accomplished as a means to deliver a quality education for our students.  And yet the paperwork induces restlessness deep down inside of me.  I think because somehow numbers reduce our humanity.  The applications can't tell me about the nerves these new students feel approaching a strange environment.  The paperwork can't deliver the nuances of each family's struggles and successes.  Lists are not life producing.  They manage, categorize, and control.  They do not tell stories.  They cannot love, forgive, have fun, and cry.

Sometimes I fear our society has become so fast paced and cluttered with to-do-lists a mile long that we have become merely names on applications and numbers on lists.  I hope I am not alone in wanting to wiggle myself out of checkboxes and demanding to live a more abandoned, dynamic life beyond routine reports.  We are more than another name and status update on someone's news feed.  We are more than numbers on someone's list.  We are more than another slot in someone's schedule.

We are human beings created in the image of an intense, dynamic, unpredictable God.

A God who has thrown together a cosmos with a dizzying array of planets, stars, suns, and moons.

A God who has a seemingly limitless palette of colors with which He paints the sky, the earth, and the waters.

A God who loves, forgives, parties, and weeps.

This God gave us life, and damned if we let ourselves be confined to names, numbers, and formulas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Daughter and the Gilmore Girls

I know it's totally last decade but I've been watching the Gilmore Girls while I exercise on my treadmill.  Some nights when Jason is working I'll watch some episodes in bed by myself.  He won't watch it with me, go figure.  Last night he walked in on me tearing up to Luke and Lorelai breaking up.  It's just SO sad!!!  Yes I get a tad involved in my dramas, it's a good thing.  It means I am empathetic.

Anyway, my dear daughter who is nine years of age, begs me to let her watch with me.  She, being the mini-me that she is, also leans towards the dramatic side.  Like any human, sensible mother, I say no (it's not a show for children, come on) and then cave (I'm tired, there's no will left to fight).  I wince a bit whenever a "what the he$$" pops up, or a "da$m" slips in.  I recoil as "adult themes" are referenced. It's quite stressful watching a show keenly aware of a nine year old's perspective, I don't recommend it.

Last night she inevitably asks again.

"Please, please, pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?"

"No, honey, I just want to relax, I'm sorry."

"Why?"  Flashback to the three year old life stage.

"Because I get nervous watching it with you knowing there are parts that aren't appropriate."

"Why is it inappropriate? Give me one example." Oh geez, brain cells dying slow and painful deaths.

"Well, it's a show about a mother who has a daughter without a husband.  I don't want you thinking that's what you want to grow up doing."

"Moooom (yes, just in that pre-teen sassy tone you're imagining in your head)!!  I don't WANT babies, you know that!  Give me another example."

"..."  Seriously, Cindy, two examples.  One plus one example, and you couldn't even come up with it.

"Honey, it's a show for adults. If you watch it, you're like an adult, and your childhood is way too short as it is, I want you to enjoy just being a child." I don't even know why I say things like that, it makes me sound like an old geezer.

"Moooom (yep, for the next decade, I better get used to it)!! I'll still play with my friends and stuff, I won't turn into an adult."

I think we went back and forth a few more times, or maybe not.  I just caved again and had another anxious evening of the Gilmore Girls.

Don't judge me, friends, unless you've got a better idea of communicating to your nine year old daughter why they shouldn't watch Gilmore Girls with you.