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In the Hospital, in Jail, and at a Dark Parking Lot…

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There’s a Spanish saying that goes something like “Only in a hospital bed, and in a jail cell, will you know who your true friends are.” Would you not agree?   I would add one more: at a dark parking lot with a dead car battery. 

The other night, around 9:30pm, as I returned to my car after a full day of work, followed by the first day of my fall semester night class, my car greeted me with some bad news.  It would not start. Yes, I had left the headlights on the whole day.  Now, we do have a very friendly and helpful DPS department on campus; the only problem is that the charge box they use to jump cars never works on my van (that’s right this was not the first time I’ve done this).   Luckily, the friend that rescued me last time, gifted me a set of jumper cables.  Now I just needed to find a willing soul.  However, at that time of night on a weekday there is not much traffic on campus, and administrative offices are closed for the day.

After waiting several minutes, a guy who was parked diagonally across from me came by.  I asked for help and he graciously agreed.  Chris, that was his name, was so helpful he even pushed my van forward so the jumper cables would reach his car.  Now, he had no experience doing this, and guess what: neither did I.  Contrary to common sense, all the previous times my van needed a jump, it didn’t occurred to me that I should be watching in order to learn how to do this! Turns out Chris hooked the cables the wrong way and…. the cables got fried.  He was mortified and I felt so bad for him.  He promised to notify DPS of my distress on his way out of campus.

Back to the waiting game, about 20 minutes passed and nothing.  That was strange since we are a small campus and DPS is very prompt to respond.  I started to get nervous to be alone out in the dark, already my cellphone had given me a low battery warning, plus I had a babysitter watching my kids at home, who I was paying by the hour.  I called the DPS office but nobody answered.  I was hesitant to call on my friends since it was passed 10pm and most of them have kids to tend to, plus is a bit of a hike to the university.  Did not want to bother the guy friend who helped me last time either since he is married and I am sure his wife would not appreciate a female friend calling him at night. 

Fortunately, a new coworker of mine who happened to be working late that night, walked my way.  He parked his car as close to mine as he could but his cables were shorter than mine (which were fried.)  As Matt, my coworker,  was reassuring me saying we will find a solution, a DPS officer came to the rescue.  He tried charging my car with the charge box, which of course did not work.  Although, they are not supposed to use jumper cables since it might turn into a liability issue, he offered to do it.  Now both the officer and Matt pushed my car backwards in order to get it to a parking spot that would allow Matt’s cables to reach the officer’s car.  Whoever said that chivalry was dead?  The bad news is that my batteries did not charge, even after several minutes.  At this point I thanked both of them and told Matt it was ok for him to leave; he needed to get home.  The officer asked if there was someone I could call to come help me and I said yes; he then went back to his booth, not without advising me to invest on a AAA membership.

It was close to 11pm now and I began to feel hopeless again.  Wait a minute, there was this single male friend who could probably help!  Too bad he did not answer my call.  Now what? I was so drained and discouraged by this time that I started to cry like a little girl; which I rarely do.  Then I proceeded to wake up the only man who never says no to me; my dad, who promptly came to the rescue; and yes he was able to jump-start my car with his cables and his car.  Dads always know best.  He didn’t even complain, or remind me that he had performed this services for me recently, he didn’t even ask me to be more diligent about shutting off my headlights.  He just gave me a big hug and a kiss.  Thank God for good dads.

How about you; do you know how to jump-start a car?

The Buddhist Monk and The Smart Cell Phone: Who Would Have Thonk It!

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Mack is wearing the green shirt, to the left is Sochettra, the Head Monk, Talh (I know I butchered it) and Sochettra's brother

As many of you know, I visit a Nutrition Center where, in addition to having a healthy meal, I get to socialize with a group of friends.  This has become a part of my daily routine I happily look forward to, as it is a moment for me to unwind, and just enjoy mindless chit-chat. 

At the nutrition club I met my friend Mack, who is originally from Cambodia and has lived in the States for many, many years.  Recently, I was very surprised when one day after work I went to the club and found Mack seating at a table with two Buddhist Monks who were wrapped up in bright orange robes.  Being the curious creature I am, my rear end promptly found a seat right at their table, and after being introduced to the Monks by Mack, my brain started formulating all sorts of questions, which they kindly answered.  For your benefit, I am posting all my new found knowledge about Buddhist Monks right here (you can thank me later :).) 

Ok, so I didn’t gather all the profoundly spiritual information you might be expecting.  I went for the most basic stuff like:  You have a cell phone!!! Are you kidding me? A Buddhist Monk with a smart cell phone, which by the way is much smarter than mine???  Apparently, although they are required to make a vow of material detachment, these rules were made long ago, so naturally cell phones were not contemplated because they didn’t exist, thus cell phones are not against the rules – bet you didn’t know that! Other things I learned:

  • Monks should not touch females; although if they “resign” from being a Monk they can get married and will be accepted without being frowned upon. 
  • They can’t eat after noon; however, they are allowed to drink.  That is why Mack had the brilliant idea to invite them to the club for a protein shake.
  • More likely than not, someone from the community prepares meals for them  since their time is thought to be better spent in prayer and meditation rather than cooking.
  • They are encouraged to pursue lifelong learning.

I am of the Christian faith; and my curiosity in the Buddhist Monks was mostly cultural.  I believe in learning about, and taking an interest in, people in general, and I try to teach this to my kids as well.  Of course, you know once I found out that their temple was right in one of the nearby neighborhoods, a visit was promptly planned . 

 I had driven by the area many times without noticing that one of the houses was actually a Buddhist Temple!  My son came with; together,  along with other members of the community, we sat on the floor while the Monks had their lunch.  They kindly let us try some of the food, including some dry semi-sweet meat, and some ripe plantains in a light green sauce for dessert.  Mack was also at the temple on the day of my visit and he gave Aleck and I a mini tour of the place.    My boy was so curious about this whole new culture for him.  It was a good experience, he got to greet the head monk,  Sochettra, as well as sit on his special chair.  Also, my son was asked to join a Cambodian language class thought at the temple on weekends; Aleck is excited about the idea. Later that day, I received a text message from Sochettra thanking us for our visit.

Measuring Up

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Cute BDay Card

Courtesy of MonsterMarketplace Products

On one of my previous posts, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past to be exact, I had talked about certain items on my bucket list that have a special  characteristic in common; they are perennial.  These goals are supposed to be ongoing undertakings rather than consummative tasks.  I am having trouble coming up with ways to measure my progress on this type of goal.   I have identified 4 such items on my list and will include them below with the hopes that you might give me helpful suggestions:

#4 Raising Happy, Healthy, Confident, Cooperative, Responsible, and Faithful children

#5 Growing in Faith

#16 Cultivating valuable friendships

#19 Fostering a close-knit family environment with my kids, parents, siblings and extended family members

I feel like I am already engaged in most of these goals on a daily basis, but how do I determine if I am on the right track?

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

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During a trip to NY city this past weekend I realized I was unknowingly working on one of the items on my bucket list.  Cultivating valuable friendships made it to my list because due to many relocations during my lifetime I have had to separate from dear friends, many of whom I have lost touch with, and others I still keep in contact with. 

However, there’s always been a part of me that longs for those early friendships; the ones that will always remain regardless of time or distance.  There is also a sort of barrier within me that has not allowed me to cultivate many quality relationships in a good while.  I have rationalized this and have come to the conclusion that A) I might have some separation anxiety surrounding new relationships since I have had to leave many dear friends in the past, and B) Perhaps friendships that began on my younger days seem more significant because of the purity and transparency of that age.

An unfortunate event, the death of a family member brought me to the city on Saturday.  The plan was to attend the service, and family reunion following it, and return home on the same night.  However, the family reunion lasted longer than planned and I decided against taking the bus back home at that time since if I did I wouldn’t get home ’till midnight .  I called a dear friend from my highschool years who happens to live in NY city at the moment, and asked if I could stay the night.  She was thrilled,  and so was I. 

My friend and I have kept in touch on and off through the years.  Currently we talk on the phone every several months, text sometimes, and are on each other’s Facebook list of friends.  However; we had not seen each other in 13 years; we have not met each other’s children; and had not tasted each other’s cooking.  As an added bonus, her sister, whom is my dear friend as well, happened to be visiting her for a few days!  The status of my relationship with her sister is pretty similar, with the exception that I had seen her 2 years ago during a trip to my hometown.

Upon arriving at the cozy city apartment I felt right at home.  It was like we had seeing each other yesterday.  After many hugs we started chatting like we were picking up a conversation were we had left it off just recently.  My boots came off; we giggled and gossiped; prepared a meal together and downed it along with some beer.  Just like the silly teenage girls we once were, we even tallied all the relationships each of us has had, and compared boyfriends and husbands.  It was absolutely great.  Amazingly none of us felt the need to hide our mistakes or to pretend that we were perfect; there was no one to impress.  After all this time we still felt extremely comfortable being our true selves with each other.  That is what true friendship is, isn’t it?  What a great night.

On my way back home the next morning I realized that this unexpected visit counted towards my goal of cultivating valuable friendships.  Moreover, it dawned on me that some of the items on my bucket list, this one included, are perennial, and that such items need to be addressed slightly differently than “culmination tasks”.  Since,  I have been pondering on ways to help me measure my progress on the “ongoing” type of tasks.  Suggestions welcomed.