Tootsie

Facebook Memories can bring up some of the best memories. Funny pictures, awesome trips, happy days… But it can also bring up some of the worst times. Times you have shared, to vent, to feel less alone, to let people know. Although, 12 years ago I’m sure I didn’t have half as many “friends” as I do now. Perhaps a handful of mates from college. Most of whom are probably no longer listed as “friend.”
But 12 years ago, at this time, I put down my cat Tootsie. I have no recollection of where the heck I came up with that name. I was very young. I remember them, her and her sister Peanut, living in a large box next to the fireplace. Like true sisters, they hated eachother. I remember peeking over the edge of the box, they were so small.
Peanut was my brothers, a calico who became fat. Tootsie was all mine, a sleek all black angel. She learned to climb the slippery black ladder of my bunk bed to be near me. She would bite at my arm when I was having a teenage meltdown, to make me stop and breathe. She loved potato chips and would bat at my face to get one. She was my most precious angel.
And I remember 12 years ago. I remember her becoming sick. We took her to the vet and afterwards she seemed better. My parents and I had planned a trip over New Years, and they were considering canceling it. But I threw a fit. I wanted to do this trip. I needed to do this trip. Admittedly, I simply wanted the brief opportunity to be with a boy I’d met last time I was there, in the spring. We had begun a long distance relationship and I hadn’t seen him face to face since. My parents didn’t think it was a good idea, to leave Tootsie, but in the end relented.
When we returned I was so excited to see Tootsie. I swept her up in my arms, and I instantly realized she had gotten worse. Much worse. Her eyes barely registered me, and my parents knew that we had to put her down.
My sweetest angel. I had been so selfish in leaving her when she was sick. For a boy. And the guilt and heartbreak has never left me.
I don’t have pictures desplayed in my home of family or friends. I simply never have. Except one. A picture of Tootsie, guarding my pen and notebook.

I don’t want it to seem as though my current cat Thumbs will never compare. I love him just as fiercly. He, with his buck teeth and huge paws. He, with his hatred of all fish except cheddar blasted goldfish. He, with his open and unabashed love for all those who are most important to me.

I was young and selfish 12 years ago. My heart was wounded. But I have grown since. I have developed a sense of priorities, and patience, and an appreciation for the fragility of life. And Facebook helps remind me of that every year.

My Twenty-Twenty, a Reflection in 12 chapters

It’s been a long and strange year. For everyone.

Here’s a reminder to myself of some of the stuff that happened.

1.

I did my Black and White Food Challenge.

( https://mavieenroseorg.wordpress.com/2020/03/02/february-food-fest/?preview=true )

2.

I got a bug up my butt and did a major rearrangement of my place…

…right before moving…

3.

We created and accomplished The 120 Dumpling Challenge, in 1 hour.

4.

Took the tortoise for a walk… ended up pulling up a chair and drinking a beer…

5.

Mari and Little Mo came into my life.

6.

I managed to pay off all my credit debt!

7.

My beloved chest freezer, Body-Stasher, bit the big one. I had to tearfully throw away so much meat and fish… But a cheritable co-worker donated to the Restock Rose’s Freezer fund.

8.

I finally applied to Grad School!

…and didn’t get accepted…

Stellar essay here: https://mavieenroseorg.wordpress.com/2020/09/23/graduate-admission-essay-to-the-school-of-social-work/?preview=true

9.

New (used) car happened!

10.

I survived the One Chip Challenge. Despite it being booby trapped with a stale chip…

11.

I held a wee hummingbird that required rescue. (Actually happened twice. Poor buggers keep getting stuck in my stoop.)

12.

I journeyed around the world in a ship of Spaghetti.

( https://mavieenroseorg.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/spaghettis-of-the-world/?preview=true )

Epilogue.

And survived…

Joyeux Noel

Everybody has their Christmas movies. White Christmas, A Christmas Story, Die Hard… And while I don’t watch this every Christmas, I still love this story best.
Not-so-secret secret confession: I love War movies. I don’t know why, but I always have. And while this one is entirely opposite of what one would envision a war movie to be about, I still love it just as much.
I had read about how war strips a man of their humanity. Their compassion and empathy. They are treated as robots in a machine, and are rewired to be as such. Kill the enemy, Win the War.
The beginning of this movie shows children from Germany, France, and Scotland, all reciting mantras teaching them who the “enemy” was, who must be killed. The movie goes on to show the three sides fighting against each other, as you would expect of a war movie.
But Christmas of 1914 was different. The three sides declaired a cease fire and spent Christmas together. Sharing drinks, singing songs, showing pictures, exchanging addresses and promises to keep in touch.
The War, the World, looms just outside their trenches, but for a short time, they all laid down their guns and became men again. And it is a story that warms my heart every time. Men who can open their eyes and see each other as equal, as real, flesh, blood, and heart.
And as of late, it is the sort of story we need. A reminder of what it really means to be human. Not the hatred, and anger, and violence. But the openness, and compassion, and caring. And Soccer.
This is my Christmas story of choice.
Joyeux Noel.

Mulan

Ohmygosh! I adored this! I have already always loved the Disney version of Mulan, but this more dramatic live-action version was lovely.
I am sad that filming in certain locations despite the Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs, raised such controversy for the film. It was the locations that really created the film for me. I don’t want that to take away from how important this film is. It casts an American spotlight on the Asian population and culture. And, while initially based off a very short poem, the story shows just how highly the Chinese, and most Asian cultures, held ideas such as Honour, Respect, and Duty. These are ideas that many Americans hold loosely in their hands. But the Chinese gripped onto them so tightly. To the point that dishonouring your family was equal to exile.
But to me, the thing that I have always loved about this story, was the strength it gave its main character. Mulan, a woman whos only job in life is to be lady-like, find a good match, and maintain family honour by being obedient. That is not the way for Mulan. She rises up, despite EVERYTHING stacked against her, and proves she is just as strong, if not stronger, than any man.
(Trying very hard not to think too much about the Chinese Opera version of The Ballad of Mulan I saw long ago, in which, Mulan’s love interest perishes, and she decides to weep at his grave for the rest of her days…)
This is not “the Disney version of Mulan.” This is a Chinese movie, about a woman named Mulan. Don’t expect a sing-a-long.

One-Child Nation

Anyone living in America will probably agree that our nation kind of sucks. But the truth is, Americans have no idea what it’s like to live in a truly terrible country.
Until recently, many Asian countries really suffered. China began suffering over-population and risked the depletion of all their resources. In the early 80’s, the Chinese government enacted the One-Child Policy, stating that it was against the law to have more than one child.
The extremity to which this policy was enforced was barbaric. Women were abducted and forced to be sterilized. Midwives and doctors performed thousands of abortions. And, as Asians valued male heirs over females, often baby girls were placed in baskets and abandoned on the sides of the streets or in market places.
In America, the idea of selling another human is considered inhumane and referred to as “human trafficking.” In China, these people were referred to as, “matchmakers,” for helping abandoned babies find homes, by selling them to orphanages. Their goal was not to make money, but rather to save lives. These people were arrested and sent to jail.
A decade after the enactment of the One-Child Policy, Chinese orphanages opened up to international adoptions, which assisted in saving the lives of thousands more babies.
Because of the nature of these adoptions, the chances of ever being reunited are near zero. And as an adoptee, this movie, this look into another side of adoption startled me. I have always operated under the belief that parents put their children up for adoption so that they can have a better future. And while I know that that is not always true, I had never once entertained the idea that parents might be forced by their government, to the extent of having their children taken away, to be adopted just to survive. My own cousins, adopted from China during this policy, both happy, healthy, beautiful girls. I can’t help wondering if this policy played a part in their being adopted…
In 2015, China realized that with so few children there would be too few to take care of the elderly, a custom in many Asian countries. They declaired that at the beginning of 2016, families would be allowed, and encouraged, to have two children.

Mad World

Just watched this movie, Mad World, and it was really good.
Working where I do, mental health isn’t a mystery to me. I understand it, but for a lot of people, it is the invisible illness. People would rather not acknowledge it. And sometimes, entire countries fall into that category.
This movie, about a Chinese man with Bipolar Disorder, shows how other countries views on mental health can be extremely different from ours. After being discharged from a mental health facility, he is unable to reintegrate into society. He is seen no better than a murderer released from jail.
But, first and foremost, this movie is about a man’s struggles with Bipolar Disorder. Having been discharged from the facility, he moves in with his estranged father. The tension between them is obvious. The father, while wanting to make ammends for his absence, does not know how to care for and understand his son. We see the, “just take your medications,” and the, “why can’t you just TRY to be happy,”s that are the textbook responses of someone who truly doesn’t understand mental illness.
Through out the film we are peppered with the young man’s memories of taking care of his ailing mother. Abandoned by his brother and father, he alone was left to do it. And it is extrordinarily difficult for him. Perhaps burdened by the tradition of respecting and taking care of elders, he refused to place her in a home. Just as the father is burdened with the choice of sending him back to the facility, and risk their relationship forever, or continuing to try and care for him himself.
This film opens one’s eyes a little bit into the world of mental health. How it’s not easy, how disruptive it can be to one’s life. And how important it is to have love and support for those who suffer from mental illness.