Songs I am Digging

Did I just use the word, “digging”? As if I actually use that word in real life. Well, whatever. It’s a mentally slow day (more like week, really) and my brain is lagging. So, we are just going to listen to music today. Here are some songs I am enjoying on the radio. Let me know what songs you’re enjoying in the comments.

1) Holding On for Life – Broken Bells
The first few times I heard this on the radio, I kept thinking, “When did the BeeGees make a new song?” Well, I’ve since found out it’s a guy from The Shins and a guy from Modest Mouse teaming up together. For the record, even though Hapa Papa thinks I am full of it, other people (Google says so) think the song sounds like the BeeGees, too.

2) Young Girls – Bruno Mars
I don’t know why I like this song other than I just do. It makes me happy.

3) Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo ft. 2Chainz

Even though I find the lyrics completely deplorable (which is most rap music to me), I find the sax in this song dirty and grindy and yes, I like it. I try to zone out the words because when I actually hear them, they totally piss me off. This is a case where I’m annoyed that I find the song so catchy and I worry for my children because I may have to stop listening to the radio if they have to hear shitty, misogynistic shit like this on the daily. (Oh my word, did I just say, “On the daily”?)

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That Even My Edges Are Loved

So, the new John Legend song, All of Me, just destroys me. I haven’t yet broken down sobbing while listening to it, but mostly, I think it’s because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t be able to stop.

My favorite part is the chorus with the lyrics (full lyrics here):

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections

When I told Hapa Papa that I loved this song, he incredulously asked, “So, you’re telling me you love my farts? I’m pretty sure you do NOT.” I wanted to deck him. I guess he thinks he’s proved himself right on the impossibility of loving all of him. Well, I never said I loved the song because I loved all of him. Hmph. 

I love this song because I so desperately want it to be true for me. That all of me is loved and lovable – even my edges (and I certainly have many of those).

One of the side effects of having Daddy Issues is that for so long, I thought there was something wrong with me that made my father leave. I thought that if I just behaved a certain way, was more loving, sweet, and “Daddy’s Little Girl” that maybe just once, he would choose us. Every time he came home, I knew I was crazy to hope that he would change. Yet each time he left, I felt abandoned all over again.

The other day, I was reading the blog of someone I used to know through church and I just wanted to weep for her. She’s five years younger than I am and her entries reminded me of who I used to be – so broken and jagged, unable to believe I was loved and desperately wanting to be.

I recall the despair I used to feel constantly. That no one would and could and should love me because I was a horribly broken and shattered person. Who would want to hitch their wagon to that type of baggage? Even when I was loved, I couldn’t receive it. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was all a lie. I would do everything in my power to make myself as unlovable as possible, lashing out at the people who cared and loved me the most. Then, when I pushed people to their breaking point and they would inevitably leave, I would point to that example as proof of my unlovableness. That those people who “loved” me were made out to be liars.

I used to be somewhat dramatic.

Even now, after years of therapy and mostly healed relationships, every now and then, slivers of doubt and self-hatred slip into my thoughts. It used to happen when Hapa Papa would point out something horrible about my character and I would downward spiral into bouts of intense self-loathing combined with wanting to push Hapa Papa as far away from me as possible. But instead of wallowing in the despair as I used to, I now try to nip the unhelpful thoughts in the bud as quickly as possible.

A lot of it was me being unwilling to look at my own selfishness and sinfulness. When I finally chose to look at myself with as little self-condemnation as possible, I could see how Hapa Papa wasn’t attacking me or telling me that he didn’t love me. He was trying to love me by being honest with me in as kind of a way as possible. And truthfully, I am an incredibly selfish person (more so than most people), so the fact that Hapa Papa rarely pointed out my faults just meant that he is, as my brother said, The Most Patient Man in the World.

I can now say that I am in a mostly healthy place and can take Hapa Papa’s concerns about my character as him asking me to change because I hurt him with my selfishness vs. him asking me to change because I am irreparably broken and no one will ever love me and if they do, they are utter fools and completely deluded and once they find out what I really am, they will leave me.

I’m not even sure how the change in me happened except that I had to fake it until I made it. I have always hated that advice. It seems so insincere. But truthfully, that is what happened. I had to fake believing that I was lovable and loved and acted as if I believed that it was true until I actually believed it. At some point, I CHOSE to act AS IF what I desperately hoped to be true (that someone could actually love me), WAS true. And eventually, it was so.

This is just my really long-winded way of saying that I love this John Legend song because it reminds me of what I ultimately long for deep inside my cold, dark heart. That I am loved and lovable – edges and all. I suppose it took this many words for me to finally figure out the why and to articulate the sentiment.

IMG_0020

Proof Hapa Papa loves me (or did).

It is also my roundabout way of saying that this is how I feel Hapa Papa loves me. Perhaps he is not quite as romantic as John Legend, but Hapa Papa acts as if he loves all of me (even if he says he doesn’t love my horrible, selfish parts). Every now and then, I ask him if he still loves me, and he hems and haws, but I know he’s doing that just to tease me. (At least, I am choosing to think that.)

So even though Hapa Papa calls this an “idealistic, fake song,” it still makes me think of him. After all, I have his love for me caught on film. (Even if it was seven years ago – it’s still proof!)

Geez. When did this post devolve into a long mash note? Enough of that. Here’s the YouTube video of John Legend and his real wife, Chrissy Teigen. Beautiful people in a beautiful video.

My Kids Can’t Read But Are Expert YouTube Surfers

I might as well confess (although I’m sure it does not come to much of a surprise) that I am an utter failure when it comes to limiting screen time. Sure, there are days when my children don’t have any time on the iPad/iPhone/TV, but that is an anomaly. I suppose it is just as much an anomaly on days when my kids are endlessly on a screen, but I guess I only remember those! In general, though, my kids have a bit more than the two hour recommended screen time. I seriously don’t know how the time flies when they’re on it. I would be better about screen time, but WHY ARE THERE SO MANY HOURS UNTIL BEDTIME?

Also, let me just state now that I have no intention of seriously changing this behavior. I don’t want advice on how to cut screen time or articles linking to the rotting of my children’s brains. My brother and I watched at least 5-6 hours of TV after school every week day and we turned out – dare I say it – AWESOME! So I am not really worried about them. After all, they also spend hours outside, at the park, in class, playing play dough, cars, running around screaming and going on adventures with each other so I think we’re ok.

IMG_1206-001Anyhow, like all humans, my kids have preferences of what they want to watch and what medium with which to watch it. Of course, the kids love TV but since their grasp of the remote control requires reading and less intuitive button pushing , YouTube on the iPhone/iPad is their favorite. (Although Cookie Monster and Gamera have a disturbing capacity for observation and now know how to turn on the TV and hit On Demand and My DVR. *shakesfist*)

Watching my kids, especially Cookie Monster, navigate YouTube is amazing. They prefer the pre-iOS7 YouTube application because its recommendations are much easier to access, but they will also make do on the new YouTube app. Either way, they have no issues at all with locating what videos they want, fingers flying and scrolling with expert ease. I don’t think know how to use YouTube with as much proficiency as my kids do. I can only imagine what they will be like in the future and I have trouble with programming the future equivalent of a DVR.

What do they watch? Lately, they are obsessed with Frozen movie and song clips, (just like they went through a Cars and Thomas fan video phase). However, the most long lasting obsessing is watching two YouTube channels: BluCollection and DisneyCollectorBR.

For some reason, my kids LOVE to watch OTHER people play and demo Play Doh kits, Egg Surprises, color changing Cars, Toy Story characters, whatever – instead of playing many of the same toys themselves! WTH? And when they are playing play dough, they repeat the instructions out loud just like in the videos! (eg: “Remove the excess.” or “Use the molds.”) This is also how they know SO MANY Disney and cartoon characters without ever having watching the shows/movies.

I find it fascinating.

More than that, I find the videos and the video-makers fascinating. The videos don’t sell any toys, the makers tell you where to buy the toys (and it’s never their own sites). As far as I can tell, these two people just love to make videos and play with Play Doh and kid toys and color changing Cars. It’s mind-boggling! What do these people get out of these videos?

Hapa Papa surmises that they get money or free products from manufacturers to demo the toys to their audience – likely made up of ignored toddlers/preschoolers like my own. I guess that must be it.

What do you think? Also, my kids can’t be the only ones who know how to use phones and tablets better than most adults, right? RIGHT?

Cover Me

I didn’t appropriately account for how exhausted I would be with Christmas, visiting family, plumbing issues (not a euphemism – literal plumbing problems), and Glow Worm sleeping erratically these last few days. So, you all get another fluff piece (TWSS).

Best covers that are better than the original (sampling doesn’t count). Discuss in the comments. My favorites are below in no particular order (edited to reflect Hapa Papa reminding me what I really love):

1) Travis – Hit Me Baby One More Time (covering Britney Spears)

Who knew this song was so melancholy and deep?

2) Tori Amos – Smells Like Teen Spirit (covering Nirvana)

Well, pretty much anything Tori covers is better than the original, but I hate the Nirvana version so that means Tori’s version must be super awesome.

3) No Doubt – It’s My Life (covering Talk Talk)

The original is good but this one is so much better!

4) The Sundays – Wild Horses (covering The Rolling Stones)

LOVE LOVE LOVE.

5) Johnny Cash – Hurt (covering Nine Inch Nails)

So good people think NIN is covering Cash.

6) Mary J. Blige – One (covering U2)

Come on! It’s just too awesome! (But Hapa Papa doesn’t consider it a cover since Bono is also in it. Whatever.)

The Prodigal Father

A lot of people have been sharing articles by Matt Walsh lately and I totally understand why. After reading a few of his blog entries, I find myself, more often than not, agreeing with him. I even subscribe to his blog so he shows up in my Feedly blog reader.

However, I have always felt a little uneasy when I read his blog and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until recently. Walsh’s writing taps into that part of myself that I try to tamp down because it is hyper critical, scathing, and lacking in grace. This not a knock against Walsh. I think many of his entries are truthful and true and at any rate, I don’t think he is a cruel or graceless person. In fact, I think he is like many of us, frustrated with “the way things are,” intelligent, a good writer, and generally, a good person. (Not that it really matters what I think of him anyway.) Really, it is likely just me and my own personal hang ups.

You see, Walsh’s writing reminds me of the elder son from the parable, The Prodigal Son.

My college Christian Fellowship was obsessed with this parable. We heard months worth of talks on the parable. Did numerous Bible studies on it. We even referred to it by a way cooler name: The Prodigal Father. Most of it was cribbed from The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen.

Here’s the tl;dr version: A rich man had two sons. One day the younger son goes to his father, and says, “Hey, let’s pretend you’re dead and you can give me my inheritance now, ok?” The father agrees and the younger son goes whoring it up and spends all his money. He finds himself eating from a pig trough and realizes that even the servants in his father’s house eat better than that so he decides to go home and beg to be a servant.

When he nears his home, his father sees him from a great distance and comes running out, rolling out the red carpet, rejoicing that his son has returned to him. The man throws a huge party and kills a fatted calf.

The older son, who had stayed behind is super pissed off when he hears of his brother’s return (especially when he finds out about the party). He goes off and sulks and when his father chases him down and asks him why, he answers:

“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

– Luke 15:29-32 NIV

Look, I’m not saying Walsh is the elder son in real life. I have no idea! I don’t know the guy and really, his spiritual state is between himself and God. All I know is that Walsh’s writing pushes a button inside of me and that button says, “Elder Son Alert!”

It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but there it is. I’m a lot mellower about it now, but I’m still a stickler to the rules at heart. I’m a douche bag extraordinaire when it comes to finding fault with EVERYTHING and I get pissed when I think people are getting away with stuff. (Of course, I conveniently forget when I get a free pass, but details, details, people!)

Anyhow, not sure what my point with this post is, but ultimately, I don’t want to be either son. I want to be like the father, who is prodigal (ie: wastefully extravagant) to both his ungrateful children. The father lavishes love and resources on both his kids even though the older son seems to think his father is a horrible slave master and the younger son only comes home because he is hungry. I can only hope to love my own children this way – let alone random people.

I leave you with some shameless self promotion. Back when I was a senior at UCLA, I wrote a song from the elder son’s point of view and my awesome and talented composer friend, Chris Wong, made it sound much better. If you don’t want to sit through the video for the lyrics, I’ve posted them at the end.

I spent too many hours figuring out how to make a lyrics video for YouTube last night so I am not only proud of this song but of the video. I’m surprised I could even make it happen considering it takes me at least ten times longer to learn anything new nowadays – let alone succeed at it. But hey, old dog and new tricks.

Also, this recording is more than fourteen years old! WHAT?!

The Elder Song

Oh, God
What has become of my system?
What has become of my life?
It has fallen down.

Oh, God
What will become of my faith?
What will become of me now?
I am down.

Free falling
down
down
down

Oh, God
How could you allow this to happen?
How could you stand by and watch
Me break down?

Why did you do this?
Why have you made me fall?
Was I not faithful?
Did I not follow your call?

Why won’t you give me?
Why won’t you bless me?
What a miserly God

Did I slave for you?
Did I slave for you?
All these years?

Oh, my God
Where have I pushed you away to?
When did I leave home behind?
I was slaving away.

Oh, God
I see you embracing my brother
I hear you choke on his name
and I wonder

Would you do the same for me?
Would you do the same for me?

– Mandarin Mama

What Is Love?

Every time I have a conversation with my mother-in-law about love and the nature of love, I come away astounded. For some reason, she thinks that she is not a loving person because she is not affectionate (eg: she doesn’t hug, kiss, or whatever) and doesn’t really think of the kids too much or worry about them when she’s not here. She claims she is a cold person because she is not like my mother, nor is she like the grandmothers and mothers on television.

Each time she says that, I respond with, “You know that television isn’t real, right?”

I know. I’m an ass.

It pains me to hear my MIL tear herself down this way. Not because I’m such a great daughter-in-law (I’m not. I’m utterly terrible.), but because it’s such a lie!! Despite what she thinks, my MIL is a very loving and kind person. For example:

1) She dutifully attends birthday parties, etc. even though she HATES dealing with people and strangers. She is very self-conscious and absolutely CANNOT STAND being at the parties – but she comes anyway. After a few years of this torture, I’ve finally relented and have ceased to force her to attend. We end up having a smaller, family party that includes her, and have a bigger party for ME. (Let’s face it, it’s not really for the kids.)

2) She goes out of her way to come visit us from LA every few months or so. I mentioned how she hates being in public, right? She also has a veritable menagerie at her house and it’s difficult for her to be away that long from all her pets. This is a BIG DEAL.

3) Every time she comes up, she brings a small little toy for my kids. I used to hate the toys she would bring. (Mostly because they were all made in China and you know, the toys would likely be radioactive or full of lead or something.) But I got over it when I realized every single toy she has brought is always the toy that all the kids who come over to our house fight over. ALWAYS. She is the toy whisperer.

4) Every time she comes, she plays with the kids, tells them stories, brings them stickers, and the kids adore her and adore playing with her. She walks with them to the park, shows an interest in their lives, and is generally present.

My MIL says that because she is not physically or vocally affectionate with the children and isn’t exactly like my mother, that she’s a bad grandmother. But that is so stupid because no one is asking her to be MY mother. We’re asking her to be present with my kids – and she IS. I try to explain to her that I don’t care about what she says or hugs, etc. It’s what she DOES that is most important. It’s her TIME with the kids that is conveying love to my children – and vicariously, to me.

You see, on the outside, my father seemed to be a very loving person. He was effusive in affection, always hugging, kissing, holding hands, calling me (and my mother) his sweetheart, his love, his precious. He bought presents – sometimes very lavish, and threw big romantic gestures. All the while, he was unfaithful to my mother multiple times with various women. He abandoned our entire family for years at a time. He stole and lied and physically threatened our family. He robbed my uncle and my cousins of their inheritance (not to mention my brother and I). He paraded his mistress in China around to his family, telling them she was his new wife (he was still married to my mother), claimed God blessed him with another son (did I mention he was still married to my mother?), and tried to convert his family to “follow Jesus” and become Christian. (I find that the MOST foul.)

Despite his many proclamations of “love,” I had never felt more unlovable in all my life.

This is why I don’t care about flowers or gifts or romance. I mean, it’s nice. I’m not stupid. But to me, I find most of these gestures meaningless. I far prefer my boring, day to day love with Hapa Papa. I know we mock each other all the time and pretend we don’t want to spend time with one another. (Ok, that’s not so much pretend, but it’s not unpleasant to spend time with him.) But ultimately, I know, deep in my cold, dark heart, that Hapa Papa is utterly devoted to me and the kids and the rest of his family (including my own). I know, because every day, he proclaims it in all the tedious minutiae of working, washing dishes, and taking care of the kids. Every day, he is present and HERE, sacrificing his time and energy for us.

Do you know that Hapa Papa has no free time for himself? He is always working or with the kids. His free time is his daily 2-3 hour round-trip commute. Even though he loves sports and would love to watch all the various games on TV, when he comes home, he focuses on the kids and plays with them, gives them a bath, reads them stories, and puts them to bed – even during playoffs. After which, he does more work.

His two indulgences? Sports stats and watching Suits (of which there are only thirteen 1 hour episodes a year).

Even when I give him free time to do whatever he wants, he usually naps or gets a haircut. (See, I’m not entirely cruel.) Every now and then, he hangs out with his friends. Sometimes, I practically have to force him to get out of the house.

I think he’s crazy. I practically beg to go out and play with my friends or spend hours reading books without any thought at all.

He never complains.

Now, I realize that just because someone doesn’t have a life doesn’t mean it’s love. Nor does having a life mean it’s not love. My main point is that love is not so much the sweet words and romantic gestures. Love is time served and hard work. You know, like prison. But a prison made of love.

And now, your earworm for the day. (How is that for a segue?) You know it was already in your head just from reading the title. You’re welcome.