Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dream girl

One would hope that dreaming of one’s significant other would be a pleasant experience. That having your companion join you in your dream state would be a neat way for the two of you to connect and bond. Sure, you’re not actually sharing the dream but you can certainly talk about together it in the morning.

I remember when my wife, Danica, and I first started dating, I didn’t dream about her. I kinda felt bad about this. I missed her when she wasn’t with me, I thought that maybe seeing her in my dreams would be a nice compromise until I could see her again in person. And if the dream happened to have a certain amorous nature, all the better.

Eventually, I did start to dream about Dani but those dreams were not pleasant at all. In my dreams, Danica—who is normally very open and communicative with me—would give me the silent treatment. I could sense that something was wrong but when I asked her to talk to make and tell me what was the matter, she would just ignore me. Few things are more painful for me to experience than to be ignored by someone that I care about (especially when something is wrong and I’m pretty sure that talking it out would at least clear the air if not solve the problem).

I was very disappointed that dreaming about the woman that I love seemed to be a negative experience. When I awoke, I told Danica about my dreams about “her” but I was also sure to tell her that I knew that the woman in my dreams (as I slept) was not the same person as the woman of my dreams (with whom I share my life). Needless to say, Dani was kind of distraught at the thought of me having bad dreams about her. As the dreams continued and dream-Danica, who I took to calling “Mean-Danica,” would mistreat me, I always reminded myself as soon as I woke up that the real Danica isn’t like that at all. My Danica isn’t mean. She’s sweet, kind, supportive and loving!

The night before I started writing this post, I had another dream about Mean-Danica. It started out pleasantly but as the dream progressed, we made our way through some sort of party and as we left and got into our car, she said something to the effect that she enjoyed making herself available to other party goers. She didn’t go into much detail about what that meant but I got the feeling that it wasn’t just making polite conversation (but it didn’t go so far that any clothing needed to be removed). Regardless, hearing her say this made me very uncomfortable and anxious. I told her that we needed to talk about it and perhaps establish some clear boundaries that I had assumed were already just there based on the fact that we’re married.

Mean-Danica slowly turned her head toward me and with this look of annoyance and condescension, gradually raised her hand between us, the back toward me, and extended her middle finger.

When I woke up, I told Dani that I had a run-in with Mean-Danica again.

“I don’t like Mean-Danica,” my wife stated.

I then shared a realization with her, “Mean-Danica does have a purpose.”

“What could that be?”

“She’s there to remind me of how wonderful the real Danica is.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reaction to "Ender's Game"

When I saw "Ender's Game" in the theater it brought back a lot of memories and feelings from my days in the US Navy. Especially my experiences in bootcamp. It was kind of disturbing. However, as I watched the film I did remember one experience that I was particularly proud of and I'd like to share it here. This was written while I was still in the Navy toward the end of my enlistment...
     March 25 of 1998 marked my five-year-anniversary of being in the Navy. As I’ve prepared for the end of my active enlistment, I’ve been looking back at the last five years, trying to see what it is that I’ve accomplished in the Navy. Certainly a great deal of personal growth, though that’s the kind of thing that’s difficult to measure on an evaluation “brag sheet.” I can’t say that I’ve turned too many heads professionally either. Though I do sincerely try to be a professional when it comes to work, I can’t seem to suppress the urge to take an assignment and put my own little Puente spin on it. Such as writing movie reviews in lieu of division news reports or ending briefings with jokes instead of formal dismissals. When asked why I joined the Navy in the first place, I can honestly say that it was a decision based on reasons economical, educational, political and even philosophical. I needed a job, an education, proof to myself (and potential voters should I someday run for elected office) that I’m a patriot and... a strange need to understand conformity. Well, after five years of living and working in an environment where conformity is the rule in almost every aspect of our lives, I’ve come to the understanding that I know what conformity is and I’m really not all that impressed with it. Oh, sure, there are a few things I’ll take with me, but, for the most part, I need to go back into the real world and be as different as I possibly can because that’s the only way I’m going to accomplish the other things I’ve set out to do.

     If I had to look back at my military “career” and try to determine exactly when my finest hour was, I can’t say it was when I became a petty officer. I remember going through “Petty Officer Indoctrination” and being told that it was the first of two major events in any sailor’s career (along with becoming a chief). But anyone with drive, dedication and, in some cases, patience, can become a petty officer. Is it the ribbons I wear? Yeah, right. I’m lucky enough to join the Navy while there were still American troops in the Persian Gulf so I’ve “earned” the National Defense Ribbon. I happened to be stationed at a Naval Security Group Activity at the right time so I “earned” a Joint Meritorious Unit Award. I managed to last three years without going to Captain’s Mast (UCMJ Article 15)... That’s not counting how many times I was threatened with it, but it’s what’s on paper that counts, so I “earned” a Navy Good Conduct Medal. No, I have to say that in the last five years that I’ve been in the Navy, my finest hour was in Boot Camp. It wasn’t anything obvious, like graduating, though I’m glad I did. Actually, it was something that occurred in the briefest of moments. It happened while my company was being “cycled.”

     I don’t remember what it was. But we screwed up somehow. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it was the first time that I didn’t let it get to me. Our Company Commanders decided to cycle us. Cycling is the act of performing calisthenics to within an inch of one’s life. And as if that wasn’t enough, other Company Commanders in the division were invited to join in. They threw everything in the book at us. Jumping jacks, eight count body builders, push-ups and sit-ups... but not ordinary sit-ups. They devised a sort of “Team Sit-up.” We all had to lock our legs together and formed a wave of human bodies. As the recruit to your left came down from his sit-up, you were going up. When you went down, the recruit to your right went up. There were probably eighty recruits on the floor. I imagine that, were we able to see ourselves (and actually do the exercise properly), we might have looked like some strange ciliated, two-toned blue, microorganism.

     Well, it didn’t take long for me to get winded. I was having a heck of a time on one particular set of sit-ups and I made the mistake of making eye contact with one of our visiting company commanders. He saw me struggling and, like a hyena going after its wounded prey, he walked right to me and bent down looking at me like a bug he was about to squash. And there I was, looking at him upside down as I struggled to get that next sit-up.

     “You better get up there, recruit!” he said.

     “I’m trying,” said I, struggling before him.

     “Well, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough!”

     From that moment, time seemed to stop–or at least slow down–so that I might comprehend what he had just said to me and formulate a response. In that instant, I knew exactly what he expected to hear. The words any struggling youth might utter in a time of stress like this one. The words, “I can’t.” True or not, they sounded pathetic and hopeless. And, quite frankly, I didnt want to give this man the pleasure. Somehow, he was enjoying this and I knew that I had to do something to take the fun out of it for him. It has never been my style to offer a conventional answer when an unconventional one will do. I looked straight into the eyes of this man and said, at the top of my lungs so that everyone in that compartment could hear it, “Then I’ll try harder!”

     The room literally fell silent. Few were aware of the exchange that had occurred, since most were occupied with their own efforts, but all were aware of my contribution to the little talk between myself and this senior petty officer. The look on his face was priceless and words could never do justice to the emotion that I could see in his persona. It was first a look of shock followed by one of utter disgust. He had no response to what I had said. If I had cried, “I can’t,” as he expected me to, I’m sure he could have come up with something. “It figures,” perhaps, or “Then what are you doing here?” But there simply was no comeback to “I’ll try harder.” So he did the only thing he could think of. He walked away... angry. I called his bluff and he knew it. In our war of words, though I was the one struggling on the floor even after he left, I had emerged the victor. And he knew that as well.

     And that was my finest hour.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Philip I (1998-2013)

One winter day I had planned on taking my dog, Philip, to my friend Sandy’s house. She’s his regular baby sitter. I put some of his dog food in a plastic container and loaded him into the car. I didn’t make it to Sandy’s and wound up just taking Phil with me to where I needed to go.

On our way home, we stopped at a grocery store. Standing outside the parking lot was a homeless man and his dog. He was holding a sign asking for loose change. I don’t usually give money to strangers on the streets. I’m not unsympathetic, I’m just limited with my own resources. I went into the grocery store and picked up some things I needed.

On my way out of the parking lot, I saw the man again and remembered the extra dog food I had packed for Phil. I stopped on the way out next to the man and his dog and opened my passenger side window.

“I don’t carry cash,” I said, honestly, “but I do have some extra dog food with me that your pooch can have.”

With a smile on his face, the homeless man said to me, “That’s even better than cash.” He took the food from me and said, “This will keep her warm and she keeps me warm.”

That night, my Philip was the hero. Though he’s always been my hero. Just by being in my life, Phil always made sure that I made my way outside to get some fresh air and sunlight. Even toward the end of his life, when he wasn’t able to tell me that he needed to go outside, I still made sure to take him out and spend time with him laying in the grass and getting some sun.

I miss Philip. Whenever I was away from him, I missed him. When I took him to the vet that last time, I missed him even before we said goodbye. I missed the energy he used to have. His personality that shined through his canine complexion.

In the end, he was just tired and hurting and I had to make the difficult decision to help him let go. Now It’s my turn to let go.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Childhood flashbacks

This week I worked on a movie called "Dear Dumb Diary." I was a background player portraying a cafeteria worker. The set was dressed like a modern middle school cafeteria and it brought back a lot of unpleasant memories for me.

First—and this wasn't a bad memory, just a weird one—part of the film included an 80s flashback so I saw a bunch of kids wearing neon and crimped hair. I haven't seen that since I was those kids' age.

Then there were the signs about the school being a "bully free" zone and promoting friendship over bullying. I was bullied a lot when I was growing up and back then, no one seemed to care. Not even the teachers. I even recall being bullied by a substitute teacher once.

There was also the fact that the scenes we were shooting were in a cafeteria. Lunch time was a difficult time for me. My parents didn't seem to care if me and my sister ate or not. They didn't sign us up for school lunch, nor did they put much thought into having much for us to take to school with us. As a result, I didn't eat much during lunchtime. There was one time I recall in elementary school when I got to have a school lunch. I stepped away from my tray for a minute and when I came back, someone had chewed up something and spit it into my food.

I was grateful for the ability to work on this film but I didn't like the memories it brought up for me.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Romance novels

I read a romance novel last week. A friend of a friend wrote it. I don't think I read a romance novel since "The Bridges of Madison County."

This novel was more of an erotic romance novel. The love scenes were a but more detailed. I liked the story and loved the characters but being single, I found myself kind of annoyed.

Conclusion. A lonely person like me shouldn't read romance novels.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Appreciation vs. Objectification

I found myself on the misunderstood side of a misunderstanding recently. One of the things that I've addressed in therapy on a number of occasions is this quirk I have about not being understood. I can't stand it when someone doesn't get me or they misinterpret something I've said, written or posted on Facebook. This little treatise is an attempt to clarify such a misunderstanding.

First off, I'm a guy. Guys are visual creatures. We're easily distracted by a pretty face or a curvaceous figure. However, some guys allow themselves to be ashamed by this. To confuse the appreciation of the human form (male or female)—or even a pretty face—with objectification. Admittedly, others do indulge in it and do objectify people.

I took the liberty of polling some close friends. I asked them if they ever perceived me as someone who objectifies women. The general response to my query was, "No." However, there were a couple of caveats. That someone who doesn't know me as well as they do might misconstrue something that I say or post or "like" on Facebook in that way.

This seems to be what has happened in reference to the aforementioned misunderstanding. Not once but twice. The first misunderstanding had to do with someone who thought that I didn't respect women because I subscribe to a few pages on Facebook that celebrate what I think of as unconventional beauty. One of them is the Facebook presence for a web site called "Suicide Girls." These are "alternative" models. Women with tattoos, body piercings and unusually colored hair. The web site itself is adult in nature because many of the photo sets include nude "pin-ups."

I do not subscribe to the web site. I honestly have no interest in seeing nude photos of these women but I'm happy to see the more "modest"—if you will—samples that they share on their Facebook page. Yeah, they're in lingerie, swimsuits and are generally scantily clad (the better to show off their tattoo artwork) but there's something to be said for "leaving something to the imagination," as they say. Though I honestly don't find my imagination going there. I just appreciate what I see. Yes, the pretty faces. Yes, the attractive figures. But also the artwork, the hair, the jewelry, the way that these women take charge of their identities and express themselves. I love their sense of individualism and the courage they have in expressing it.

Another page I subscribe to is simply called "Curvy is Beautiful." This page rejects modern standards of "beauty"—i.e. stick-thin supermodels—in favor of ideals that are historically more appreciative of the genuine female form. Not just the hourglass figure but reflecting what the average woman is really like physically and declaring that they are beautiful just the way they are and that they don't have to subscribe to unrealistic—and often unhealthy—standards of beauty.

Unfortunately, some people still think that "curvy" is synonymous with "fat." I disagree.

Which brings me to the next misunderstanding.

"Curvy is Beautiful" posted a picture that really appealed to me and I decided to share it on my Facebook timeline. It was of an anime-style illustration of a curvaceous girl in glasses and said, "I like my girls nerdy, dirty and curvy."

This wound up hurting the feelings of a friend of mine who thought that I was posting it about her. While she does wear glasses and is curvaceous, I don't think of her as "dirty" and she was very adamant that she wasn't.

Though I do think the word "dirty" can be interpreted in different ways. Within the context of that particular picture, I thought of it as referring more to open-mindedness and not being offended by things that others might consider dirty. Others being a more prudish type of person. I feel I should say here that my friend is definitely not a prude.

Another source of tension and misunderstanding was a remark I made about eye glasses. I said to my friend that I had an appreciation for girls who wear glasses and that it was "almost a fetish."

I said "almost" because I don't get a weird sexual thrill from eye-glasses, I just appreciate them on a pretty girl. Glasses make people look studious and inquisitive and I find that very appealing. But my friend heard the word "fetish" and seemed to come under the impression that I was objectifying her. I tried my best to assure her that I wasn't.

She also said to me, "On the inside I'm not a fat girl with glasses. Those are really not things I pride myself in."

Of course, I know that isn't who she is on the inside. I just wanted her to know that I think she's beautiful just the way she is.

This all begs the question of where one draws the line between appreciation and objectification. Personally, I think it's in the heart of the individual. I know what's in my heart and when I see a pretty face or express appreciation for something quirky or unique about a person, I know I'm not objectifying them. Of course, I can't control what other people think or how they perceive things. I just hope that this explanation helps others to understand more about me and the way I think.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Facebook for Journaling?

I don't use Facebook as often as others do. It's primarily a networking tool for me. But I see a lot of other people who talked about their day and share a lot of their lives on Facebook. It makes me wonder if Facebooking can count as journaling.