Saturday, September 25, 2010

Old is the New Young (Kinda)

I have always believed “40” is what happens to OTHER people – not something I would actually experience for myself.
And much to my shock and disbelieve… I eventually turned 20, then 30, followed by an unavoidable 35 and now at nearly 37 – I feel as if 40 is a smug Katie Couric waiting to air our interview on foreign policy.

Growing up I constantly felt I looked TOO young. Julie means “youthful one” and for years I distained not looking quite my age. I remember being carded for a MOVIE around 30 years old, and thinking, “Does this high schooler behind the ticket counter really think I’m 16 and could be in his P.E. class? Disturbing!”

However, in Africa these past 6 months – we were THE OLD PEOPLE. I think the average age of the rest of our training class was about 24 years old. This should not have surprised me (being “the old couple,” that is) – but somehow I still feel 24, despite my near 40 year old state (doesn’t everyone?).

I will say…the highlight of my summer was returning to our home church and being introduced as a “nice young couple.” It was great. I thought that’s right – I’m young! I have my whole life ahead of me! Jensen’s not going to put me in a home YET!

To stave off the inevitable, I’m reading the book How Not to Act Old” (by Pamela Redmond Satran), and I have to cringe at the tell-tale signs of my inescapable old age:

• Wearing a watch - the “evil young” (as Satran calls them), don’t wear a watch because they use their cell phones to tell time – I say, show me a cell phone you can strap to your wrist and I’ll show you a girl that no longer wears a watch!
• Leaving a voice mail - apparently “the young” prefer to let you see their “missed call number” so you can wonder with excited anticipation what is the urgent reason for their call (as opposed to “leaving a detailed message at the beep” – however efficient and polite that antiquated system is – apparently it’s out). As for me, when I see a missed call I assume you accidentally called my number and are hoping I didn’t notice.

Sending email – Ahh – why use email if you can reduce all your communication to 140 characters in a text message or Twitter post? If you have more than 30 words to say, should you really be saying them at all?

• Surfing the Net – No one calls it that (it’s “getting online”). Here are a few techy words Satran says we all must know before our old age pushes our current vocabulary into Shakespearean oblivion:
  1. Dead Tree Version: paper edition of a newspaper or book
  2. Ego surfing : Googling yourself (you should try it)
  3. Fat Finger: typo excuse (because your fat fingers can’t find the right keys??)
  4. Mommy Save: saving a computer file without first choosing a folder or directory
  5. Voice Novel: endless voice mail
So there you go!

If I could just get myself to throw out my watch, reduce all communication to texting, never leave a “Voice Novel” and stop sending email – I could give Joan Rivers a run for her money!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Snapshots of Life with the Ostrands

It’s been great being back in the US this summer, and we will return to Africa in a few weeks – to embark on our 3 year commitment. Here’s a few snapshots of life with the four members of the Ostrand family…

Miss Daisy Can Drive

While I was in Africa I went on strike as a driver. Unequivocally I REFUSED to get behind the wheel.

Although I’ve been driving in the US for 20 years, can handle a stick, have successfully maneuvered through New York City traffic, and posses my international driver’s license - I just COULD NOT get my mind around the concept of driving on the left side of the road. If it’s not right…it MUST be wrong!

From day one in South Africa I was chauffeured around. When Karl couldn’t take me somewhere– others would drop me off and pick me up. True, it was a little “Miss Daisy” – without the colorful southern banter – but I fully embraced life as an old lady passenger.

On our first day back in the US this summer, I asked Karl to take me to my beloved Target. I wanted to give it some big, sloppy kisses ASAP.

He said, “Well, I’d love to take you, but I really need to figure out our cell phones here.”

I said, “Oh, that’s OK. Can your mom take me?”

Awkward pause.

He hesitated, searching for just the right words… then settled on, “My mom? You can DRIVE!”

Slowly it sunk in…“Huh…that’s right. I CAN drive!”

And off I went, happily on the right side of the road – gleefully singing all the way to Target, “I’m driving on the right side, I’m driving on the right side – I get to go to Target and I’m driving on the right side!”

What in life, I beg of you, is better than those two things? I guess I’ll take up driving when we get back to Africa, but it won’t be the same without Target.

More is Less

Karl has been thinking about living a lot more simply. While in Africa he kept a careful list of things to buy in the US to bring back to Africa.

However, here are a few things he’s recently crossed off– deciding that sometimes more is less (if you saw all the suitcases we brought to Africa in January, you would agree that hauling around more stuff can be much less pleasant)

  • Even Bigger Jack Bouer Knife – To stab the dogs in Ocean View before they wrap their gnarled teeth around an unsuspecting ankle (I guess his somewhat smaller “Jack-Bouer-As-Pre-Teen-Knife” will have to do)

  • Rubber Bands – Does he really need something that can twist, tie and stretch in such perfect symmetry like a rubber band? I think he’s holding out that these brilliant little bands actually exist somewhere in South Africa (NO country should be anti-rubber band)

  • Another watch – Karl’s current $30 watch has lasted about 2 years, but he planned to get another one here in the US because the “loopy thing that holds the band in” fell off – however, he’s discovered that Emme’s pony tail tie works just as well (I think he’s pushing the envelope a bit too far on this one)

  • Medicine– Apparently we don’t need to bring back enough medicine to set up our own home clinic

Money Grows on Trees

Jensen has had two recent realizations…

#1 “Understanding Jesus is kinda tricky,”
#2. And in the next breathe…“Having lots of money is kinda tricky too.”

I’m not quite sure how these two epiphanies are related – but she has been talking about all the money she’s going to pick off the “money tree” she planted back in Africa. She even jumps up and waves her arms wildly in the air – showing me how she’ll just grab bunches of money out of those trees – wading through her piles of cash. I wish I was kidding – but when Uncle Mike visited us, he told her if she planted her coins a money tree would grow. Sure enough, the next day I found her out in the back yard, diligently digging a hole– planting all her coins in hope of some kind of Donald Trump forest of money trees. She watered it faithfully and could not be convinced that a money tree wasn’t just around the corner. Thanks, Uncle Mike!

Emme Tries Out for American Idol

The “try-out” episodes on American Idol often leave me bewildered – wondering what kind of mother would not mention to her terribly off-key-Britney-Spears-wanna-be daughter that perhaps she should look into a career as a key-grip or band bus driver instead. Some things are better discovered live on national television?

That said (and admitting that we mothers, as a people group, are biased judges of our children’s abilities), I still say that Emme is on the fast track to stardom!

See Emme's Video