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Chasing The American Dream

May 29, 2007

TESTING 1, 2, 3

I’m convinced life is a big test, or a series of tests, or maybe even a daily test. Now, I’m not a religious person, but I think whoever is up there presents us a daily quiz or test. The test is never ever easy, but the good news is that we get to grade our own papers. And you know me; I’m a very critical self-grader. Unlike my umm, 20 years of school, I’ve often gotten an F. But unless you’re part of that whole Apollo 13 experience where failure was not an option, failure is not necessarily a bad thing. I used to fear failure, but now I look at it as a risk I’m willing to take in life which, I think, broadens my horizons substantially.

But here’s where it gets tricky. I guess you have to admire the "if at first you don’t succeed, try try again,” mentality, but the thing is, when we try try again, pass/fail becomes less of an importance. What’s important is that even if we fail, and fail again, we learn from our previous mistakes. And that’s where these daily tests come into play. Ya dig?

Maybe it’s appropriate that on my would-have-been 14th wedding anniversary, I got a pop quiz. Remember those things? “Put your books away and take out a #2 pencil.” My little pop quiz came up on TV. It’s one I’ve had plenty of practice with, but the results for the past couple of years have been a crapshoot. It’s a state-of-mind quiz. Am I progressing or regressing? Chances are, if I’ve repeated the same mistakes over again, then I’m most likely regressing. I know, I know. What’s the quiz, and how did I do?

Well like I said, it’s basically a quiz on my emotional state. Two-years ago, I was getting F, F, Fs. My emotions were a wreck. For many reasons. When grading my quizzes, I didn’t take off points for going through all that leaving home, leaving my son, my dogs, driving across the country for a new, unstable job, yada yada yada. Back then, what challenged and truly failed my emotions was this whole dating thing. The harder I tried, the more effort I put forth, seemingly, the greater the disappointment. It made me a mental mess. The result was that when I watched TV or listened to the radio, I’d cry way more than I care to admit. I remember crying while watching the finale of “Friends,” even while watching “How to Lose a Guy in 10 days,” some silly Vin Diesel movie for which I can’t even remember the name of, and countless other embarrassing moments.

Well, while I was flipping channels, one of my crying movies came on and the quiz began. I don’t know why this movie always had hit me so hard, but for some reason ”Cast Away” was a guaranteed cry. Oh man, when Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt shared those kisses in the pouring rain after he returned from the dead…whew! I couldn’t shut off the faucet. Maybe that’s understandable; I don’t know. But when Hanks couldn’t rescue his volleyball best buddy Wilson? Yeah, the tears would come rolling down my face. A poignant moment in the movie sure, but I don’t know if it’s cry-worthy. And so I watched. And waited. First came Wilson. And as he (it?) drifted away and left Hanks sobbing on his storm-ravaged makeshift raft, I felt the sadness. I felt it hard in the back of my throat and in the pit of my stomach. I was genuinely saddened but no tears this time. And came the kissing in the rain scene. Again, the same feelings hit me hard in my throat and stomach. Close, but no tears.

It was a good test. Do I get an A? Perhaps. Progress has been made in the past couple of years. A kinder, gentler, softer Plantation that perhaps is more in tune to his emotions. And I give myself credit for taking time out for myself. Splendid Isolation was much-needed. No repeated dating mistakes that tend to break me down disappointment after disappointment. It’s been seven months now. I definitely know isolation isn’t the answer but metaphorically a vacation of sorts. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the right time for me to get off the island now. WILSON!!!



  • I've often wondered why (some) men view tears as a fail thing. Why can't crying be viewed more positively? I think it's a beautiful thing to do....it means you feel, you're human! And men ARE actually human.

    I, too, cried when he lost WILSON! I think that's exactly the point the movie was trying to get across. You should be proud that you got it! A girl I knew didn't understand "the whole volleyball-thing in that movie"....I kinda had to explain it to her, duh.

    As we all know, the media plays on emotions...it's what sells and it's what captures people. And most of the time we are all going through something or other that will undoubtedly make us cry. Well, at least if we're lucky it will.

    PLANT, as a long time reader of your blog, I will always give you an "A." Just expressing that to you brings a tear to my eye ;)

    By Blogger catsteevens, at 1:49 PM, May 29, 2007  

  • Aww. Thanks cat. That's so sweet. Thanks for hanging in with me :-)

    By Blogger Plantation, at 11:24 PM, May 29, 2007  

  • Now this is my favorite kind of essay. Personal, witty, smart and simple, philosophical... Keep up the good blogging man :)

    By Blogger Jane E., at 11:03 AM, May 30, 2007  

  • Thanks jane e. It's been a while since I've written introspectively. The regularity has decreased proportionally with the drama in my life.

    By Blogger Plantation, at 10:54 PM, May 30, 2007  

  • Really enjoyed this post. Just what I needed to read right about now.

    By Blogger It Starts Now, at 11:53 AM, May 31, 2007  

  • It would take me pages to explain the irony in this post, but suffice it to say it's funny (even if you can't appreciate the humor, just trust me and laugh a little. I promise I'm not laughing AT you in the least!)

    You have come a long way. We all need to grow in so many ways, I can only hope that over the past couple of years I've grown in the ways I've needed to as well.

    By Blogger Amy, at 12:35 PM, May 31, 2007  

  • Todd - Just wanted to pop in to say hi, and to let you know that the blogging is back on. I have missed y'all! Will have to catch up on what y'all have all been up to for the past almost a year now. - Melissa

    By Anonymous Melissa, at 10:44 PM, June 04, 2007  

  • Life is quite the proverbial journey. Hills and valleys, hikes and downhill sledding. Sometimes we do need to take a vacation, to get a new perspective, to heal, and to renew. Animals hibernate in the winter, trees loose their leaves and then rebud...

    Congratulations for turning a new corner. Coming full circle :)

    By Blogger California Girl, at 12:42 PM, June 05, 2007  

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