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A Love Story: The Short Version


His & Her jeans. Guess which is which.

The Dude is about 2 inches shorter than me. On a good day.

There are days when we’re about the same height, like when I’m in flats and he’s wearing his fancy Cole Haans. And then there are days when I’m about 5 inches taller. Those are the days I wear heels. Those days are few and far between. It’s not because I care about being so much taller than the Dude. It’s because I’m clumsy enough as it is wearing flats.

I’m 5’9 and, before I met the Dude, I usually only dated men taller than me. I didn’t have anything against dating shorter men. Really. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Shorter guys never approached me and I was much too shy to approach anyone, let alone a cute shorter dude that didn’t even look my way. As soon as I sprouted in junior high to become the 2nd tallest girl in the class, the guys immediately stopped teasing and flirting with me. Instead, they asked me to play on their recess basketball teams. In high school, the cute short girls snagged all of my crushes, many of whom were my height or shorter. I never saw tall girls and short boys together. It was only when Tom Cruise married Nicole Kidman that I believed that there were people out there that didn’t give a crap about height.

How many times have you heard a woman say that she would never date a man shorter than her or a man say that he only likes women a certain height?  It’s the kind of stuff I heard in high school and continue to hear well into my 30′s. What gives? (continues…)

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In Honor of 9/11: Something to Remember While We Never Forget

(photo courtesy of Think Progress)

Islamic Fundamentalism is to Islam as  ________________  is to Christianity.

The answer?

The KKK.

If you’re a fan of West Wing, then you may remember the thought-provoking episode that aired shortly after the 9/11 attacks (portion embedded below my signature). In that particular episode, the character Josh Lyman explains to students that it is wrong to judge an entire religion based on a handful of lunatics that use their religion as an excuse for inhumane acts. We don’t think of the KKK as Christians and we don’t attribute the KKK’s actions to the Church.  So why would we attribute the horrific acts of Islamic fundamentalists to the entire Muslim religion? As a shell-shocked nation searching for blame, we needed to learn that lesson. Nine years later, many are still struggling with that task.

Between the debate over acceptable locations for a Muslim Community Center, physical violence against Muslims, and the burning of Quran’s, the persecution against Muslims seems to have only worsened.

When does it end?

Americans need to be careful to make sure that the freedom of which we boast  is a freedom consonant with American values, and not an America premised on euphemism, bumper sticker mentalities, and flat-out hypocrisy. Americans cannot claim to believe in and stand for American values — values that stand for pluralism, equality, tolerance, and coexistence — while demonizing an entire religious group. We claim to be better than repressive governments that are intolerant of difference. So let’s either be better or abandon the pretense.

Don’t fly the flag of tolerance while extolling bigotry. Don’t claim to believe in freedom of religion while protesting the construction of an Islamic Community Center.  If we’re really for freedom of religion, then any street in this country should be able to peacefully house Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques. (continues…)

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The Mother/Sister Role

My father, my half-brother and my half-sister flew in from the the East Coast for a visit last week. My half-brother is 14 and my half-sister is 10.

I was 20 years old and away at college when my brother was born. I was in graduate school when my sister was born. Since we’re decades of age apart, didn’t grow up together, and live across the country from each other, I obviously don’t have a normal sisterly relationship with them. I love them as I do the sister and brother I grew up with, but it’s a very different relationship.  Over time, I have developed a dynamic with them that seems half-mother/half-sister. When you’re old enough to be the mother of your siblings (and often get mistaken for the mom…ugh), it’s easy to find yourself playing the mom role just as easily as it is to be the sister.

During our visits, I find myself shifting between this mother role and the sister role. I can ask my brother and sister to help with dinner, stop running down the hardwood stairs in slippery socks, or clean up after themselves just as easily as I can find myself on the couch with them playing DJ Hero, teasing and giggling with them as if I were their age.  At the same time, I need to monitor myself like I would with any other kids around, like watch my language and avoid inappropriate topics.  And when topics come up that aren’t necessarily inappropriate, but definitely on the serious side, it can be confusing as to how to handle it. For one thing, my sister and brother aren’t even half as sheltered as I was growing up. It’s not because of how they are parented but rather it’s due to the world they and their friends live in. Their access to the world is staggering and their precociousness is reminiscent of my young adult self and certainly not my tween and teen self. (continues…)

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Longing For An Ordinary Life

On the 4th of July, that day of all days, my baby brother deployed to Afghanistan.

For my family, this meant two things.  My brother, an Army psychologist, had to leave his base in Europe and say goodbye to his pregnant wife and two year old son for the next year. It also meant that, as of the 4th of July, both my brother and sister are now living in Afghanistan.

As I spent the long holiday weekend at the beach, enjoying the company of my family and good friends, my mind was elsewhere. It was on a military plane that was flying my brother to a war zone. It was in the isolated desert compound where my sister lives and in the helicopter that transports her to various work assignments. It was with her husband, my brother-in-law, patiently waiting for his wife to return home to him. It was with my pregnant sister-in-law, living alone in Europe with her toddler, missing her husband tremendously. It was with my two year old nephew, not old enough to grasp that his daddy won’t be there every night to read him a story before going to sleep.

My brother and sister, the two people I grew up with fighting and loving along the way, do not live typical American lives. And when people you love are living an extraordinary life, it makes you appreciate your ordinary life all the more.

A few months ago, my sister called to say hello. It was 2 am her time and she had been watching her DVD’s of the TV show 30 Rock. While watching the show, she had become homesick. There is always a little ache within her – she always misses her husband and her family. But what surprised her were the little things that caused her to miss home even more, like watching a TV character drink a Starbucks coffee while casually walking down a busy city street. It was a simple reminder of her former life. She longed to do those little things that most of us take for granted, the simple things that provide normalcy. We don’t give walking down the street with a coffee in our hand a second thought. We don’t consider going to the grocery store to buy fresh food or go window shopping at the mall a big deal. Why would we? Living ordinary lives gives us the power and freedom to ignore everyday things.

When families are separated for a while, for whatever reason, it’s not just the big events that will be missed. My sister has had to miss wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and funerals. My brother will miss the birth of his second child and  his son’s third birthday. But, perhaps even more importantly, is that they will also miss the normal everyday family stuff like cooking and eating meals together, going on a walk around the neighborhood, enjoying a fun day at the park or beach, or reading a story to your child at bedtime and giving him a kiss goodnight.

I spent the 4th doing what most American families were doing, spending the day with family and friends and enjoying the fireworks. My normal and simple life will continue as usual, but a big part of my mind and heart will be in Afghanistan for a while. I will be waiting for my brother and sister. Waiting for them to return back to an ordinary life.

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The Good Dad

The Good Dad

The best moments in life are not filled with words. Only love. The Dude and The Monkey, on vacation, in 2008.

Seven years ago, this week, I was introduced to the Dude by my sister.

Before I met him, there was a trend with most of the guys I dated. The more I got to know them, the less I liked them. The opposite was true with the Dude. After every e-mail, phone call, or date, I liked him even more. Within a month, I knew this guy had *The One* potential. But what really locked my heart up was something he said to me shortly after we started dating.

During one of our many conversations about life ambitions, goals, and dreams, the Dude mentioned that he could not wait to be a father. That really floored me, mostly because having kids was the last thing on my mind. I had too many other important things to do, like finish my graduate degree and get a promotion. But here was this highly ambitious and successful 26 year old man telling me that the most important thing he ever wanted to become was a good dad. In that same conversation, he questioned how he would be able to handle the task of working grueling hours at a law firm and being present for his future kids.  He wanted to be there for every milestone, every first day of school, every parent-teacher meeting, and every soccer game. In fact, he wanted to coach the soccer team.  He told me right then and there that he would quit his job if it meant he couldn’t be there for his kids. Despite not knowing him very well at the time, I believed him. Seven years and one kid later, I still believe him. Because it’s true. (continues…)

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