30 November 2008

What Do I Remember Most?

Recently, I read a list that a friend wrote - his top 150 memories from his first 30 years. (Of course, I had to give him a hard time, because I didn't make the list.) Since then, I've been thinking about this concept... What are my biggest memories from my life so far? The good, the bad, pleasant and unpleasant... What events, people, places and ideas have shaped me into the person that I am today? So I decided to make up my own list. I don't know how many memories will make it onto the list, so I'm not going to set a number. But here is what I remember most (in roughly chronological order...)

* Preschool - working as quickly as I could each and every day to color as many pages as possible, so that I could show my mom how much work I was doing in class! (She tells me that this was because she always asked my older sister, Carin, how many pages of work she did in school, and I was competing. I don't remember that, I just remember sitting at the long table with a stack of papers and a pile of crayons, busily working long after all of the other kids had moved on to other things.)

* Eating almost 2 full bottles of Flintstones vitamins with my sister Carin and going to the hospital where they had to induce vomiting. (To this day, the smell of multivitamins turns my stomach!)

* My very first boyfriend, Seth Richards (in preschool & kindergarten). I was going to marry him someday! I was heartbroken when he moved all the way to Green River (12 miles) after kindergarten!!

* Learning how to read. I loved the book "The Fire Cat" and asked my sister to read it to me over and over and over again. Finally, she got tired of it and started skipping words, phrases or whole pages to get through the book faster. I of course, had the book memorized and called her on it. So she taught me how to read so that I could read it to myself.

* North Park Elementary School - The school was completed and the doors opened for classes midway through my kindergarten year. I still remember the excitement as we watched a brand new school being constructed near our house and the thrill of riding the bus from our old school (Desert View) to the new school for the first day of classes!

* Watching Seth and his best friend, Kenny, fight over me on the playground. I thought it was a silly thing to fight about, because it didn't matter who won. Seth was my boyfriend, and Kenny was just annoying. However, I did enjoy the instant fame I got over the fight. Even the big kids (4th, 5th & 6th graders) knew that I was the girl that the boys were fighting over, and I was something of a celebrity for a day or two!

* Mr. Kirtland's magic tricks on Fridays. It was the best thing about kindergarten! We figured out how he did all of the tricks but one - and the M&M's trick still feels like magic to this day!

* My huge crush on my Aunt Becky's boyfriend, Maurice. I didn't want anyone to know about the crush, so I always called him "More Grease" to prove that I didn't like him. And I just couldn't figure out how everyone knew that I liked him anyway....

* Eating 2 big bags of mini marshmallows at Kenny's house and getting sick. (I haven't liked marshmallows since!)

* Drawing a glitter picture for Santa - and then being amazed on Christmas morning when I discovered that Santa had supersized the teddy bear I had helped Grandpa wrap for Grandma because he was so happy with the picture! (We wrapped a 6-inch teddy bear, and Christmas morning, there was a 5-foot teddy bear in a box next to the tree!)

* Eating too much frosting at my kindergarten last-day-of-school party and getting sick (I can't eat frosting to this day, either!)

* Being the first family in the neighborhood to own a trampoline.

* The computer program that my dad wrote for our Apple computer. It was called "The Starting Gate" and it was lots of fun. My sisters and I even got to help with some of the creative aspects of the games!

* Cutting my hair all by myself (well, I made my little sister help with the back where I couldn't reach) - and then getting really upset with Santa, when he thought that I was a boy!!

* Going to QUEST - the program for gifted students - once a week and learning how to draw with a turtle on the computer (what was the name of that program?)

* Playing Oregon Trail in the amazing computer lab where we had enough computers for everyone in class. (And being beyond proud when I discovered that my dad was the one who donated the computers to the school!)

........ Which brings me to 2nd grade.............. This trip down memory lane may take a while!

19 November 2008

Who Needs Depth, Anyway?

Okay, so I admit it. I am shallow. But who needs depth, anyway? It's overrated!!

Actually, I am a little bit ashamed to admit it. Well, kind of....

The point is, I am the person who always talks about how looks really don't matter. I am a huge proponent of the idea that beauty truly is found within - that physical appearance is just a shell and not an indicator of real beauty at all. And I really believe that - most of the time.

Phil always laughs at me because I am the worst person in the world for describing a person. When I'm talking about someone and he asks "who is that?" I can tell him, "Oh, she's the person with 4 children who sings alto in the choir and has the great sense of humor. She worries too much, but she loves board games as much as I do, so we really get along well. You know, the kids are friends with her kids, and she told that really funny story about her mom the first time I met her." Yeah, great description - and sometimes, he can figure out who I'm talking about, if I continue talking long enough, or if he happened to actually be present for some of the events that define that particular person in my mind. But my descriptions don't usually help him pick someone out of a crowd!

Conversely, when Phil tries to tell me about someone, and he tells me, "He's 6'4" with light brown wavy hair and hazel eyes," I just stare at him blankly. I almost never know who he's talking about! It's become quite the joke in our household, because I don't ever even notice (so Phil says) the obvious physical characteristics. ("You could have mentioned that he was bald!" "Oh! Ooops! I guess I never noticed.") And really, I don't usually notice.

So I tell myself that I am not a shallow person. I had myself convinced that looks really weren't important to me.

But I admit it. I guess I do dwell on physical appearances. At least, I dwell on my own physical appearance. I'm still the last to notice if my friend gets her hair cut and whacks off 12 inches or if she's 5 months pregnant with a big baby belly or if a guy gains 20 pounds or shaves his head... I guess I'm not very observant.

But in 2006, when I had to take the steroids before and after my brain surgery, and I gained more than 100 pounds in less than a month (going from size 10 jeans to size 18 literally overnight).... Yeah, I noticed that! I still cry when I get dressed in the morning and I see the stretch marks that cover probably 85% of my body. I would be the first in line if they ever brought back those 1920s full-body, long-sleeved, down-to-your-knees bathing suits. And I am painfully aware that the scale in my bedroom seems to have broken, because the numbers just aren't coming down. And I really meant it when I told my doctors that I absolutely refuse to ever take steroids again, no matter what. Nothing is worth going through that kind of reaction again! Yep, when it comes to Veronica, I have trouble seeing past the physical. I don't usually see what lurks beneath the surface....

And I haven't allowed more than one or two pictures of myself in almost 3 years. I hate the idea that there might be evidence to show the way that I look now, post-surgery.

So about a month ago, when I started to interact with friends on Facebook, I realized that I didn't have any good pictures of myself to post on my Facebook profile. I had a choice between old high school senior portraits and the few post-surgery photos that I allowed simply because my kids wanted me to pose for a picture. No brainer! I went with the high school photos! And it's been bugging me ever since. Why should I be ashamed of the way I look? I mean, my appearance doesn't make up who I am, so why should I let it define me?

I finally decided that it was time to have some actual photos taken, to stop being afraid of the "evidence." So I made plans with a friend of mine, Trish Larsen, who is a photographer. I showed her my old high school pictures, and I told her that I would like to take some photos in the same style - just showing me the way that I look now. And yesterday morning, we went to the little park area across from the BX here on base and she took my picture.

Okay, so here is how you know that I really am extremely shallow.... The pictures were amazing! I couldn't wait to post them up on my Facebook profile, because Trish is an absolute magician and made me look gorgeous! And I have been reveling in the praise from friends. In fact, I have been going back to my Facebook page and re-reading the comments over and over again! I feel better about myself now, with these amazing pictures that make people say I'm beautiful, than when I graduated from college with honors after only 3 1/2 years! College degree? No biggie. Building furniture for my daughter's bedroom with no training or tutorials? Okay... A great picture and friends telling me that I'm beautiful? Yeah. That's worth bragging about. That is something special and wonderful. I even caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror while I was getting dressed this morning (whoever designed these stupid base houses with mirrors all along one full wall of the master bedroom is NOT my favorite person in the world, by the way), and it didn't make me cringe. I just thought of the pretty picture I had saved to my computer upstairs, and I smiled. "I'm beautiful."
So, why is it that I can see the beauty that lies within for every other person I know? Why is it that I can glory in this friend's musical ability or that one's artistic talent, but I can't see any value in myself until and unless I am beautiful first?

Sad, maybe a little bit disheartening, not something I'm proud to admit. Yes, I am very shallow. Apparently, I care more about the way I look than about who I am. And I have to admit that my favorite reading material is now the one-line message that an old friend sent to me: "you look amazing..why do you criticize your looks" (I think I've read it about 20 times now!) Why does it matter? It doesn't, I guess. At least, it shouldn't. But I like being beautiful. I guess, deep down inside, I'm just shallow... (But don't you agree that I look good in these pictures?)