Saturday, September 24, 2011

Going Back to Cali.

I often see friends and acquaintances reporting on a girl's weekend or girl's mini-vacay on facebook and blogs. They're usually enjoying some bff or sister time in Vegas, a cabin or on a cruise and I've always lamented that I'd never been on one. Well, this weekend my mom and her three girls went down to So. Cal for my uncle's funeral. Yes, for me to get a mini-vacay someone has to die.

My mom's younger brother passed away last week after a short fight with cancer, so my daughter Shannon, sister Cheryl and I drove down to Hurricane Utah to pick up my mom. After spending the night, we left the next morning for L.A., a trip of about 6 hours. I grew up in L.A. and dropping down Cajon Pass feels like entering the home stretch, almost there, the portal to my past. For all its traffic, graffiti, and SMOG, I still wouldn't mind living there IF I had enough (a lot of) money and the rest of my family were down there, too. Of course, that's easy to say when your just there for a short visit, staying in a darling little cabin home in Mountain Pass, on the road to Lake Arrowhead.

While there we visited the largest cemetery in the U.S. and tromped around several aptly named areas: Garden of Serenity, Garden of Tranquility, Garden of Eternal Rest, you get the idea, whilst looking for the grave-sites of our dearly departed. The kind, if stupid, employees of the largest cemetery in the U.S. drew elaborate directions on maps which proved to be more confusing than anything else. We finally found and photographed the headstones, with Shannon acting as our bird dog, more often than not finding the grave site before anyone else, then standing on the spot and waving her arms silently, so as not to wake the dead. As we spread out and walked the rows in a kind of search party formation, the cemetery security force cruised by a couple of times probably thinking we were one of those bands of bronze thieves, but upon asking if we could be helped, they realized we were just hapless illiterates, unable to read a cemetery map.

We wanted to go to someplace for dinner that held memories for us and settled on the North Woods Inn. The faux log lodge with snow-covered roof was always a special occasion destination. Inside stained glass lamps provided a dim, rosy light, the waiters sang Happy Birthday Barbershop style and while waiting for your reservation you drank Shirley Temples and ate peanuts throwing the shells on the floor! It was pretty much the same and we were all a little giddy that we had stepped back into a time-machine, reliving so many happy occasions.

Next morning, I woke up early and Shan came with me to make the trip into town to buy a Chinese Donut. Chinese donuts, imh, are the best donuts in the world. If you want a good donut, at least in So.Cal., find a little strip mall Chinese food place that makes and sells donuts in the morning. I'm not kidding!

Shan and me in the back row, sister Cheryl to my right. Mom right in front of me and my sister Tracy to mom's left. 
I'm not going to continue with the travel log, other than to say the funeral was a good funeral, the trip home long, the personality clashes few, but hey, we are four very strong personalities, mama didn't raise no shrinking violets. We have decided that this must happen again, this Baker Girl excursion! My mom just relished being with her girls and we all feel the same! We'll go back!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's not your job to like me - it's mine.

I am a pleaser.

Over the decades of my life, I have become less a pleaser than I used to be, but I am a pleaser, just the same.
One of the problems with being an evolving pleaser is that now, when I find the gumption to do things my way or say what I think, I am often overcome with remorse.
"Why did I say that outloud?"
"What was I thinking!"
"What will they  think?"

I know lots of people that never waste a minute worrying in this way. They happily and unashamedly announce to the world their opinions, insights and arguments, never worrying about fallout.
Recently I was visited by a woman I didn't know well, someone who wanted to get to know me better. As we talked about "how I was doing" I recounted my experience with cancer, work, children and other things that woman talk about. Then she asked me a more personal question and before I answered, I thought to myself, "I'm going to be candid."

I  got the feeling that she was a little disconcerted at my "telling it like it is." Maybe surprised at what I had to say, she was very sympathetic but I thought I caught some alarm in her eyes.
Of course, immediately after opening-up, I regretted it. Now she knew my "secret", would it stay a secret? Would there be fall-out. (I realize you're probably wondering what in the heck I'm talking about, but I have to be a little circumspect here. )

On the one hand it felt good to be...I guess you could say, honest.  I know it didn't please her. It sent me into my usual speakers remorse and wondering what got into me. So, this evolving into a more honest yet tactful person is hard work, much easier just to say what people want to hear.
But I will keep at it, in a nice way.