Conversations with Erin

I love Erin Z. She’s my Bangkok sister. We lived across the hall from each other on the fifth floor of Baan Bunrapa. I miss seeing her everyday.

Both of us are back in North America, adjusting to this awkward season. In a recent Skype conversation we bonded over being unemployed and single:

Me: Update me on life!

Erin: My life is “www.livingwithmyparents.wordpress.com.”

Me: Glad we can relate.

Erin: Do you know how embarrassing it is to meet guys?

Me: Yup.

Erin: ‘So what do you do?’ ‘I’m unemployed.’ ‘Where do you live?’ ‘With my parents.’

***

Erin: How are you liking your apartment?

Me: Well my roommate’s getting married so–

Erin: OMG! Your life is totally like 27 Dresses! (Not the first time she’s compared my life to the movie. Read about it here).

Me: YOU ARE SO CRUEL!!!

Erin: Everyone around you gets married!

Me: [Not pleased] Thanks Erin.

Erin: Seriously, out of all of my friends, you deserve it [marriage] the most.

Me: Aww [softened a little] …thanks Erin.

Conversations Continued

On Dating

Sitting on the deck watching a construction man grade the backyard.

Mom: He’s single, Natalie. He’s a single dad.

Dad: He’s got a missing tooth and 8 cows.

On Music

In the car. Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” comes on the radio.

Me: Mom, is this still your favourite song?

Mom: No, I like the one about the fireworks. (Katy Perry, Firework)

Dad: I like the one about the money. (Jessie J, Price Tag)

Me: Why do you like that song, Dad?

Dad: Because it’s about money.

Me: You know she’s actually singing, “It’s not about the money, money, money…”

Dad: Oh, gee. That’s terrible! Young people know nothing. It’s all about the money!

On Aging

Dad is resetting the time and date on the oven after the power went out.

Dad: Is it July?

Me: It’s August.

Dad: Huh?! No…

Me: It’s your wedding anniversary!

On Technology

Mom: Are you bringing your laptop?

Me: [Somewhat offended] Camping?! No mom, the sites are non-electric. There’s not going to be any wi-fi either.

Mom: Oh, right.

I’m not that addicted to the internet. I don’t even have a smart phone!

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Conversations with Natalie

Guest Blogger: Natalie’s mom, Susan

After her last “Conversations” blog, I began to recall some of the silly things Natalie has said over the years, joking that it was her turn to be embarrassed on her blog. She gave me the go ahead, so here are some “Conversations with Natalie” from over the years!

Early Years

At one of our “Moms & Tots” playgroups held at our home, Natalie, a sweet little 4 year old, was asked by one of the moms if the flowers in our garden were pansies.

Natalie: No. They’re my mommy’s.

****

Natalie’s childhood version of Jingle Bells sang in a very nasally voice:

Chorus:
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way,
Oma fart…

****

A neighbourhood child shows up at the door with a bloody nose.

Brad: Natalie punched me in the face!

Me: Natalie, why did you punch Brad in the face?

Natalie: Cause I told him to get off our front yard and he wouldn’t!

****

cute

Rich, Mom, and Natalie

School Days

Natalie follows Rich (her brother) into the house sweaty and out of breath.

Natalie: Didn’t you see me? I was running behind the van all the way home from school, trying to get your attention to give me a ride!

Richard: Oh yeah? John said he saw you. He thought you were waving at us!

****

Thinking she might like to buy a new camera.

Natalie: Maybe if I get a new one, you can buy my old one from me.

Me: Natalie, I bought that one for you in the first place!

University

Whilst on a trip to Baden Baden in Germany, Natalie and I decide to go to the Thermal Bath. Using her best German she almost gets us into the ‘no swimsuits required’ section!

****

While in the same Thermal Bath, we decide to use the sauna. Natalie almost knocks me over as she does a quick turn around. She is rather agitated.

Natalie: Mother, hurry up, there’s a naked, wrinkly old man in there!

I had to take her word for it, as without my glasses on, I can’t see that well!

****

Receive a rather urgent call from Natalie.

Natalie: Mom, I’ve locked myself outside on the balcony. Can you help me?

Me: Umm, you’re in Kitchener. I’m in Newmarket!

The cities are separated by a 90 minute drive.

Last Week

Natalie: Will I always be half your age?

She turned 27 last December. I am 54.

Me: [Somewhat puzzled]. No, Natalie. I will always be 26 years older than you.

Math has never been her strong suit.

****

Natalie’s first time using the Bluetooth to make a phone call in the new vehicle.

She screams into the dashboard. (The microphone is above the driver’s seat).

Natalie: CALL HOME!

Consequently it did not compute.

****

Natalie is in the passenger seat of the vehicle, checking herself out in the mirror.

Natalie: I’m really drawn to the mirror. It’s probably because I find myself attractive. I don’t know why no one has married me yet.

****

Natural beauty

Aspiring writer

Treasured daughter

Affectionate

Loyal friend

Infinite wisdom

Encourager

mom and nat

Overlooking the Pacific ocean in White Rock, BC

Post Bangkok Conversations

On Affection

Sitting on the deck with my dad sipping our morning java.

Me: Dad, can I have a hug?

Dad: Are you stressed out or something?

Me: I’m sad. Can I have a hug?

My dad doesn’t budge from his chair. He unenthusiastically extends his left arm toward me. There’s still about 2 feet between us.

Me: [Mildly annoyed] What is that!? You call that a hug?!

Dad: Natalie, you have to understand that my culture and my generation does not hug.

Me: Dad, you’ve been hugging me my whole life. Give. Me. A. Hug.

On Driving

Dad: So how are you getting to Amy’s house? (in Toronto)

Me: The 401.*

Dad: Are you kidding me? You’re taking the 401 to downtown Toronto? Natalie, you haven’t driven in 6 months!

Me: Dad! I’m 27 years old. That means I’m almost 30. I can drive the 401!

It’s a wonder they let me go to Thailand…

*According to Wikipedia, the segment of Highway 401 passing through Toronto is the busiest highway in North America and one of the widest and busiest in the world.

******

My parents are helping me pack my car for a mini road trip.

Dad: Natalie, these are the high beams. High beam on. High beam off. Don’t drive with the high beams on.

Me: Dad, this is my car. And I know all about high beams.

Dad: Ok, good. Do you want me to back out of the garage for you?

Me: No.

I close the door and turn on the engine. My mom taps on the window and speaks loudly, exaggerating the movement of her mouth so that I can read her lips, just in case I can’t hear her.

Mom: DO YOU REMEMBER HOW TO PUMP GAS?

My eyes widen in disbelief. I force a smile, because I know she’s just being a mom.

Me: I remember. Goodbye!

My parents stand in the driveway and wave until I am out of sight.

On Money

Watching the news. Catch the last 30 seconds of a segment on gold.

Me: So why is the price of gold going up?

Dad: Because the whole world is having financial problems. Not just Natalie. The whole world!

Me: [Laughing].

Dad: Greece is in a much worse state than you are, Nat.

Tales of an Erratic 20-Something

Before I left for Bangkok my parents told me that when I returned to Canada I had one month to find somewhere else to live.

Harsh!

Well, I one-upped them. When I return to Canada it will be a mere 12 days before I unpack, repack, and move out of my parents’ house. Not only that, but one-third of those 12 days will be spent in my hometown attending a wedding and catching up with friends.

They’ll be begging to have me back in no time.

In all seriousness, my parents put up with a lot from me during those 6 months at home. I was reflecting on this last week and on how thankful I am to have a family that provided nothing but encouragement despite my endless pity parties, mental breakdowns, and that one time I threw an object across the room in a fit of exasperation (true story).

“I started a blog, ‘Living With My Parents,’” I said to my mom via Skype on Saturday. “But you and dad could have easily started a blog called, ‘Living With Our Erratic Daughter.’”

She misheard me. Bad connection.

“’Living With Our Erotic Daughter?!?’”

“MOTHER!”

I remember the first time my mom heard Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” on the radio. I was lamenting about yet another job rejection.

“You know this song is about you, right Natalie?”

I looked at her and rolled my eyes, but when she turned up the volume and sang along with the chorus, I had to laugh. That became a habit of hers every time Bruno came on the radio.

With my dad now retired he and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together, cutting down trees in the backyard, making trips to Home Depot, or going out on regular lunch dates. He always used his favourite phrase on me – the one I see him live out in his own life: Don’t worry!

“You’re doing everything you can, Natalie. You’ll find a job soon. It won’t do you any good to worry about it!” And then he would end his pep talk with “I’m proud of you,” and “I love you.”

Then there’s my brother and sister-in-law, who would scour the newspapers and internet for job advertisements, review my resume, and offer to practice interview techniques with me. I can’t even count the amount of times they had me over for dinner or just invited me to be a part of their lives, whether that was joining them on their outings or making a fool of myself on their slo-pitch team. My brother often reminds me that I’m going to owe them a lot of home-cooked meals when I’m married.

Just last month I received an unexpected gift when I was visiting my friend Kathleen in Singapore. I met Kathleen’s friend Prudence one evening during a dinner outing to Little India. The next day Prudence presented me with a card that she made. It was a picture of a tree with the words, “a new creation.”

“When I met you, I just kept thinking ‘new creation’ and I saw an image of a tree,” Prudence told me.

I shared with Prudence a little bit about my struggles prior to coming to Thailand and how her card was a huge encouragement to me.

Mid-way through my 6 months at home I came to a point when I realized I had a choice. Eventually this season would pass. I would find a job, and I would move out of my parents’ house. When I looked back, did I want to say that I wasted it on a bad attitude, or did I want to say that I used this time to consider these trials joy and develop character in my life? I whined and complained, but finally I chose the latter.

I’ve always loved trees. I’d often go walking along the river in my hometown, climb to the top of my favourite tree, and think. When we moved into our new house last July I was delighted to discover that the backyard was filled with trees.

Last October I decided that I wanted to be like the tree planted by streams of water, that yields fruit in its season, and that doesn’t fear in the drought or in the storm (Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17). I claimed those pieces of scripture over my life and prayed that even in my season of not knowing and feeling purposeless, that I would trust God, choose joy, and bear fruit.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

– Jeremiah 17:7-8

I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life to choose joy, but I seldom have. I know that God intentionally set apart those 6 months to teach me joy. And as I look to the future, I hope that I’ll maintain that trust and joy and continue to bear fruit in my life. I’m so thankful for a family that sustained me and a God that is patient with me.

And whenever I hear the song “Just The Way You Are” I can’t help my smile from ear-to-ear!

Conversations at The Gallery

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Thursdays nights. Akko Art Gallery is a safe place for me to share life with wonderful people.

Petula is the woman who opens her home up to the ladies from church week after week. A couple things I love about her: 1) She’s a “give it to you straight” kinda gal, and 2) she’s hilarious! I come from a funny family so I value a good sense of humour. If you make me laugh you are in my Book of Awesome People!

Here are a couple of  conversations from last Thursday that had me laughing:

Discussing the “next steps”

Me: You think that’s a bad excuse to not go home?

Petula: I didn’t say that. I said it wasn’t a good excuse.

Me: [Throw my hands in the air dramatically.] I don’t know where I belong!

Petula: Welcome to Bangkok! [Turns to I-Hsuan.] I-Hsuan, who are you?

I-Hsuan: [Looks up from her plate. Shrugs. Shakes head.] I don’t know.

Petula: [Turns to Michelle.] Michelle! What are you? Thai? American?

Michelle: I don’t know.

Me: So in other words, I’m right where I belong.

Petula: I don’t know about that. There are a lot of weirdos in Bangkok.

[Sidenote: I have a pretty good understanding of who I am as well as my gifts and skills, it’s more a question of where I live that out.]

****

Sharing our praises (things we’re thankful for) from the past week

I-Hsuan: Remember my birds?

Me: Yes.

I-Hsuan: They died.

Me: Oh.

Silence.

Petula: We don’t judge each other’s praises.

****

Looking forward to more laughing and sharing in the weeks to come!