October 19, 2011

I'm Not Your 99%...Don't Hate Me.

For the love, I swear I try to be an agreeable person.  I don't comment on a lot of things I read on the web because I really don't want to stir the pot.  Truthfully, I know sometimes I don't know enough about a subject to speak intelligently about it, so I keep my thoughts to myself.  I make a big enough ass out of myself without giving anyone extra ammo.  But, so help me God, I think I've had quite enough.

I might be off base here...it's been known to happen. 

There is an upside to living in a small southern town:  The economic pendulum doesn't swing as abruptly here.  When everyone else is living the fat life, we're still living moderately; and, when it goes sour, we don't usually have a drastic drop.  I didn't make that up either...I read it in a journal!  I know there is unemployment here, and I know people who have lost their homes because of crappy mortgage situations and loss of jobs to pay for the home.  I get that.

Here's where I get lost:  I've read many of those "I am the 99%" pics.  Some of them tug at your heart.  (Yes, I have one.)  I am sorry for those who lost their job and, subsequently, their homes.  I regret people are having to forgo retirement and work longer.  I feel sadness for those who aren't able to realize their dreams immediately because of our crappy economy.  But.

Where did anyone make you sign the dotted line on those loan papers?  Yes, I paid for my college education...and my debt covers THREE college degrees.  I knew when I took that on there would be consequences.  I knew I'd have to pay it off.  My family does without things because of this debt.  While there isn't a choice between this payment and food, it still affects what we can do.  Our choices are based upon this.  I realize that many people did the same thing assuming they could find a job and do that same thing.  But it didn't.

I guess what I would like is for someone to tell me what the answer is.  I agree healthcare is out of control. Once I paid a bill out of pocket for my daughter.  The amount I paid was half the original bill:  The office manager told me they had to charge double to recover their costs if the insurance company was paying for it.  Hmm....

I think how banks handled the mortgage mess was atrocious.  It wasn't just bad business, it was bad juju or karma or whatever you want to call it.  What I also have to think is this....who was complaining when everyone was buying homes they truly couldn't afford?  Who was worried when the loans enabled us to be George and Weezie and move on up?  It was a huge buffet, and we stuffed ourselves on worthless shit.  We didn't save money because we were buying big screen televisions and traveling to foreign countries to find ourselves.  Would today be different if people had saved money and lived on money they had and not whipped out a credit card?  I dunno...

I don't have any answers.  However, I don't think anyone does.  I hear chatter about occupying and ousting.  If you can afford to sit in a park for four weeks, is life that bad?  I glanced at the ows page, and I saw visitors could make donations.  Really?!  Here's an idea:  Take the money you're gonna donate to some stranger sitting in a park and go buy your unemployed neighbor some groceries or help a family member get caught up on his mortgage.  To me, that's effective change...reading peaceful protest books in your tent and keeping the whole damn town awake with a drum circle doesn't do it.

So, statistically, I'm the 99%.  I should be upset and marching and demanding things, but I'm not.  I don't want a hand-out from anyone.  I don't want things to be free when they shouldn't be.  Why am I supposed to be pissed because a man sitting in a corner office is making $10 million a year and I'm not?  Jealous, maybe, but not pissed. 

I guess what rubs me is that some of the people I know who are coming out in support of this haven't lost their jobs due to evil stock market people and collusion among those evil people and the idiot politicians we have.  They have chosen not to work.  Yes, they CHOSE it.  They either live off mommy and daddy or they work under the table to avoid paying taxes.  Um, if you're not paying taxes, who are you to criticize how much other people are paying?  That is just wrong.  Period.

We lived through a good chunk of time where all was good.  Houses were big, cars were bigger, and there was no such thing as "no" to anything.  I read an article the other day where a professor said this generation was not used to failure.  This was a generation where everyone was always a winner, and they could not comprehend how to deal with NOT succeeding.  According to him, they believed they graduated high school, attended college, then waltzed into the dream job, dream wife, dream home, dream whatever.  Who the hell guaranteed that?  Why is it someone else's fault you didn't win?  Face it, someone has to lose.  Sorry.

I think I'm rambling...well, yeah, I am.  Maybe I'm missing the big picture.  Maybe I'm not smart enough to get it.  But, maybe, just maybe, I'm not your 99%...maybe there's a portion of those 99% who just want to do whatever and allow someone else to foot the bill.  Maybe they want to go to school at the government's expense...oh, wait...that's my money.  See how that works?  It's not just the big, evil, thieves' money; it's my money.  Our country is in horrifying debt, and we need to fix that.  So those with more pay more...okay, I'm good with that.  But it goes to pay down the debt, not to fund some whack-job project that has no glimmer of hope creating jobs or to add to the number of "assistance" programs we have.  

My grandfather, who you might remember me saying in an earlier post was a great and wise man, lived through the Depression.  When my dad talked of college, my grandfather said that was a great plan.  He could be a rocket scientist if he wanted to!  However, before he could do that, he had to learn a trade.  So my daddy is one mean plumber and electrician.  It's not his profession, but a skill.  Guess what he could do if he lost his job?  Yep, use those skills my grandfather was wise enough to pass along.  

So, maybe the fault doesn't all lie at the feet of Wall Street.  Maybe it lies, somewhat, with us.  Those of us who signed the mortgage papers without reading the fine print...those of us who gambled on getting a better job when that interest rate went up...those of us who chose a major without regard of how we would use it...maybe, just maybe, it's time we step up and take our fair share of the responsibility.

October 18, 2011

My Excused Absence

Well, it's been a bit since I've been on here.  And, amazingly enough, I had a good reason!  Looking back, the last post on here related to that adulty thing we were doing.  Well, we did it.

As I write this, I am sitting on my completely pattern-less gray couch, looking at my new windows (cause the others were literally falling out of the house), surrounded by my peaceful, "Rainwashed" walls, and listening to the kids pick through the fridge.  Apparently dinner wasn't a hit.  We are here.

But.  Cause there is always a but.  It is soo not done.  If my eyes stray the least bit upward, I am gazing at not one, not two, but six different sets of wires poking from the ceiling.  Yes, in a normal, finished home, these would have lights attached to them.  Not in this one.  Again, too much commitment.  I can't find the perfect light, so I just won't have one at all.  I bought new lamps I absolutely love, so, really, overhead lighting is just not necessary.

I have unpacked more boxes than I can count.  I have found memories I thought were lost forever...a wooden box full of rose petals from my papaw before he died, photos of my dear aunt, and cards from the kids when they were babes who loved me to the moon and back.  Of course, something must be lost in the move, right.  Isn't it some required rite-of-passage that something must disappear?  You would think it would be a toothbrush, maybe. Perhaps a pair of shoes?  What did we lose?  The comforter for our bed.  A really large KING size comforter.  How?  Just...HOW?

In the midst of all this, I decided it would be a great time to start a new job.  Again, this is what sane people do.  So, two weeks after closing on the new house, while living with my husband and our three children at my in-laws house, I started from scratch.  New everything.  Yikes!

So, here we sit, months after my last post, with a new address and a new employer. Life is sweet.  I miss my old peeps, but I've added some amazing new people to my life.  Our house sits on a cul-de-sac, and everyday I hear the joyful sounds of multiple children playing in our yard.  It's the wish we had for a very long time...and now we get to live it to its fullest!  Hope that makes up for the absence!  

July 9, 2011

It's A Good Thing I'm Not Rich...

We're on the verge of a major life moment.  Like, a big ADULT thing.  After working for the past five years on updating our home, we've sold it.  Well, so long as everyone signs the paperwork this coming Friday.  Being me, until I have ink on the paper and money in the bank, it's not really sold.

The BIG part of this is we've bought a house.  And it's an adult house.  Really, it has a garage.  And an attic.  For some reason, although I've owned 3 houses in my adult life, this feels really grown-up.  I guess because we're buying it together and it's going to be a non-fixer-upper.  Well, okay, it is a fixer-upper, but that will be done when we move in.  We think.  We hope. Yeah, okay, we'll see.

Better Half and I promised each other when we finally sold this house, we'd have our next one be move-in ready.   No more Saturday morning trips to buy paint or other home improvement crap.  No more sacrificing saved-up money for un-fun things like bath remodeling.  No more child-stained furniture with sprouts of stuffing springing from the cushions.  It would be all adulty...not in a XXX way, but a place we'd invite other adults over for football games and just hanging out.  

Now that the process is in motion, I realize it is my duty to keep that promise.  But, that promise takes one HUGE thing:  Money.  One would think I would enjoy this.  What I've learned in the past few days is this:  Spending ginormous amounts of moolah makes my stomach ache and my head spin.  It makes my mouth dry.  I hesitate and second-guess my decisions.  I can't commit to anything.  I'm amazed I could tell another human being I would be with him for the rest of my life when I can't make a decision on a stupid fabric.  Granted I have done that with two different human beings, but I meant it the second time.

I've decided I would totally suck at being rich.  Not that I'm not willing to experience that, mind you.  It's just hard throwing down the money and knowing a year from now my appliances won't be cutting-edge.  Cause, really, I have no idea what true European convection cooking is because I do well to master toast.  I picked all gray fabric for the couch because patterns are too much commitment.  My lesson?  I've learned that it's truly a case of the grass being greener on the other side.

July 5, 2011

Only Because She Said I Would...

If you see my mother, don't tell her I wrote this. She said I would, but I was hoping to surprise her and keep this one on the low.

My mother and I are not super huggy-feely types, but we are pretty much reflections of each other.  It's sometimes one of those situations where we're too much alike so we disagree on things, but ultimately I'd say she's my best friend.  She doesn't listen to a damn word I say, but that's probably how she's felt about me a time or two.

For the past year or so, I've been trying to eliminate things from my diet that may or may not be what's ailing me.  Cutting out gluten has worked wonders for me. I'm not as zealous as I should be, but I'm doing pretty good.  I told my mother this last fall as we tend to have the same health issues, but she poo-poo'ed my glorification of all things gluten-free.  Fast forward to this past Sunday.

As we were sitting in church, my mother and I noticed our church was now offering gluten-free wafers for communion.  We pointed and smiled at the awesomeness of our thoughtful and cutting-edge pastor.  Then mother wrote me a note (we write a lot of notes in church...shhhh) that she wasn't eating flour of any kind.  I wrote that she could have rice and corn flour, to which she responded absolutely not!  No flour of any kind.  She'd made up her mind! I was proud of her because I knew this was a monumental challenge for her.  As a family rich with diabetes (and not cause we're all fat; we just got lucky), I know how difficult it is to end the passionate love affair I had with all things bread.  

After church, the parents and I went to grab a bite to eat.  The manager of this particular restaurant makes about 50 homemade biscuits each Sunday for her staff.  My parents know this particular secret after she offered them some of the extras.  You should know my parents eat there at least every other day, so it's not strange.  Mother fell in love with them.  In her words, "They are to die for!!"  Now, one would think she would moan about not being able to have any more of these because she, by GOD, isn't eating any flour.  Even communion wafers.  But, no.  

As the server asked if we wanted anything else, she looked at me, then quickly turned her head and said, "Are there any biscuits left?"  Yep, she did. And yes there were.  Matter of fact, there were two.  Notice I said "were."  Because my mother proceeded to eat one and then take one HOME!  Really? You pass up communion, but you're gonna eat a 4,000 calorie biscuit made of FLOUR?!  Because we're not eating flour, dammit.  At this point, my not-so-public self took over and I began laughing....large guffaws...then...a very, very loud....SNORT!  Yep, I snorted so loud that every table in our section looked at me.  Then a server from another section came by and said, "Wow! I can never do that!  How cute!"  Um, no, not really.

The reason this was snort-worthy was because I get it.  I know what it's like to swear up and down I'm going to not eat sugar or I'm going to start flossing my teeth every day.  I've made those promises.  What's hard is keeping them.  I feel better after eating healthy and blah, blah, blah, but the euphoric sense I feel after a MochaNut Frappe ain't too damn bad either. (Have you had one?  OMG!  Mocha & Coconut & Whipped Cream!!!!)  My mother is the same way, and, unfortunately, we are enablers for each other.  Starbucks?  Sure!  McDonalds Frappe?  Why not!  We are certainly two peas in a pod...a sugary, flour-laden pod....with whipped cream.

June 13, 2011

Am I The Only One Who Thinks This?!

Two of my smartest friends and I have an on-going conversation.  It starts when we have a "situation" of some sort and we see a very practical solution, but for some insane reason, others don't.  Then committees are formed, research is done, tests are implemented, studies are gathered, spreadsheets are made, etc.  All the while, we sit and look at each other like, "Really?"  We're not geniuses, but we have some common sense.  The whole time the process is taking place, we feel stupid.  Why? Because, obviously, if others don't see it, then we must not get the whole picture.  These others make lots more money than us, and they have offices (REAL offices!), so they must be wiser in the ways of the world, right? I mean, there is no way a solution would be THAT easy, right?  Ehhh...

I had this thought again today when another friend posted about her experience with buying medication.  Her son remarked on how he felt sorry for people who did not have insurance.  Dear friends I know pay several hundred dollars a month for their medications.  I'm sure there are others who pay thousands.  I read an article today about an older lady who has cancer.  Although her Medicare paid for the treatments she needed, the pill she needed to take cost $2400 a  month.  Um, yes, that was ONE pill.  That makes my stomach hurt, let alone my purse.

Because I don't live under a rock most of the time, I know there has been and will continue to be a huge uproar over the healthcare plan.  I won't try to critique it, because I would only show my ignorance.  Here's my question...what about those people who have insurance, but the medications have gone through the roof because of the companies trying to cushion themselves?  What happens to the families who go to work everyday, but have to spend a week's pay at the pharmacy?  Kinda hard to fuel an economic recovery when I'm leaving it at the drugstore.  Trust me, I'd much rather drop that kind of cash on some shoes or a purse. 

I get that medicine is a for-profit industry.  I know drug companies, while trying to save/better lives, are not doing it for free.  I know it takes money to research and market new meds.  I get it. I just get a little ticked when  someone's DEDUCTIBLE is $2400 for a pill. 

The American Dream was, according to my grandpa, all about working hard and doing better for your children.  You set an example with your work ethic and your morals.  You teach them right and wrong.  The quality of life, for the most part, is dictated by how hard you work for it.  Nobody, by God, owes you anything, and it's not the government's responsibility to take care of you.  If you take care of yourself, then no one else has to.   Unfortunately, that's getting harder to do with medications costing a half month's pay.

I don't know what the answer is.  I don't pretend to.  I just can't help but think that giving uninsured people insurance doesn't help those who now can't afford to pay for the medication they need.  Sort of my friends and I looking at each other and wondering if we're the only ones who see this, I wonder if I've just missed something.  Is there some solution in the 90 million page document that addressed this?  I hope so.

P.S.  I've declared I'm an idiot in this department, so you don't have to!   :)

June 9, 2011

Some Helpful Grocery Store Tips

A trip to the grocery store is sometimes my only moment of sanity in the day, so I like to savor those moments.  However, as of late, it's more like a trip into the bowels of Hell.  Thus, a few tips I learned yesterday.

1.  The young man stocking the produce section will be really pissed if you don't take his suggestion of which tomato to purchase for your fish tacos.  He will glower at you until you leave in a haste due to his icy glare.  I don't care if those bland, pale red hothouse tomatoes are on sale; I want a REAL 'mater! Or at least as close as I can get before my gardening-minded family send some my way.  Sorry, dude, but I'll stick to what I want, not what you deem appropriate for my fiesta.

2.  I didn't realize how many people took their Hoveround to the grocery on a weekday afternoon.  Now I know.  The answer?  A lot.  They usually have an accomplice, so I'm dodging the Hoveround, the cart, and two humans in a small aisle.  To compound matters, the Hoveround driver usually stays on his side, but directs the accomplice who is shopping on both sides for him.  Result?  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Until I just give up, turn around, and hit the next aisle.  Who needs toilet paper, anyhow?!

3.  Bathing is optional at the grocery.  I don't mean in that, "Hmmm, their nails look a lil' dirty" kinda way.  I mean, HOLY-SHIT-HOLD-YOUR-BREATH!! kinda stink.  The kind that permeates every single molecule in the building.  To make matters worse, the offender had apparently forgotten something, so he'd backtracked through the store and re-generated the original stench zone.  I almost made a run for the pharmacy to rub a little Vicks under my nose like the coroners do.  Trust me when I say it's hard to shop for delectable vittles when your face is buried in your shirt halfway past your eyeballs.

I think I will go back to my normal routine:  milk, bread, cereal.  This is the fastest way to complete the grocery trip.  Besides, I'm sure all the restaurants/fast food joints in town have been missing us.  I'd hate to disappoint them.  Plus, I think this is a Heavenly message that I'm just not meant to cook.  Who am I to argue with that?!

June 7, 2011

No, It's Not Fair!

Life is not fair.  That simple.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, either.  I remember clearly the first time it truly hit home for me.  Sixth grade year, Wendy (Alison, now) Beckner wore a pink buttondown shirt with a red sweater...and she rocked it.  If that had been me, the laughter would still be ringing in my ears.  Plus, she had great hair, and ~ the kicker ~ she was nice.  Like, really nice.  And she could pull off pink and red.  My intro into Unfair Life.

Yesterday was one of those days where I wanted to slash tires, kick small animals, and cuss loudly.  Life was unfair to me.  Grossly unfair.  Other people's decisions were impacting my life.  Given my love affair with control over all parts of my life, this is not my idea of fun.  At all.  I went to bed grumpy and hating the world.

Today, though, life wasn't too unfair.  Matter of fact, it was pretty darn good.  I got to get my sparkly tennis shoes smudged up...I got a lot of the house packed up...my tribe didn't kill one another...all in all, a good day.

Better Half's response to our kids when they say something isn't fair is, "Life's not fair!"  That's true, but only on some days.  Others the sun shines down on me and I'm queen of the world.  It's those days that help me get through the others, the ones I want to spit on.

There will always be those unfair moments.   Someone will always walk right out of college into a powerful position he doesn't deserve.  People will cheat on their spouses and then judge you for what you wear.  Children are born with disabilities.  Good people die for no damn good reason.  Life is unfair.  But what if it wasn't?  What if life was always fair?  We always get what we want; No one suffers; Everyone is eternally sunshine and rainbows; What then?

I say it would bite.  For all those crappy, horrible, and painful unfair things that happen, there is a good thing that makes me feel blessed and grateful.  Sometimes it takes a little reminding that life is not a bowl of cherries.  When you do hit a sweet spot in life, you appreciate it even more.

I'm still bitter about yesterday because I TOTALLY deserve this, but I get it.  It's not my time, yet.  BUT! It will be.  One day.  So don't sweat the girl who makes everything look good, the promotion that didn't come you're way, or the trustafarian who travels the world while you slave away...It's unfair, but it's okay.  The sun shines on all of us every now and again.

June 5, 2011

Go Love a Geek!!

I heard on the radio the other day that being called a geek is now a compliment.  My, how times have changed...that was almost a fightin' word when I was cruising the playground.  Apparently, no longer is this the case.  I see it supported by those gigantor glasses everyone is now wearing as fashion accessories. 

I was fortunate enough to grow up with a variety of friends. Not to say everyone loved high school. Many people I've talked to have said they wouldn't go back for a bajillion dollars.  Of course there were groups of different sorts ~ the jocks, the artsy, the future criminals ~ but we pretty much got along for the most part.  Having said that, I'm sure there were others who don't feel the same way.

Our class was fairly close, and the turn-out for our ten-year reunion was pretty amazing (as far as ten-year, high school reunions go).  Everyone got along great, except the date of one graduate who stole from the bar.  Yeah, that was a nasty moment...I wasn't concerned with who was divorced or what jobs people had; I was truly just enjoying seeing everyone.  

 I did notice something, though.  The guys who were considered "geeky" or "nerds" in high school had bloomed!  No longer were they wallflowers or quiet, shy boys sitting on the sidelines.  They were the life of the party, dancing, talking, cracking jokes...putting all those tired-looking jocks to shame, I say.

My own Better Half was one of those boys in high school.  And, though I loved him then, he was too blind/smart to notice.  He always made me laugh.  Looks may wither, but a man who makes me laugh is worth his weight in gold.  Really, when we're old and gray in our matching recliners at the old folks' home, am I gonna care if he was hot 60 years ago?  Doubtful.  If he can make me wet my Depends with his jokes, he's my recliner-mate for life!

I wish all those young girls out there would take a look at that brainy little boy sitting beside them in the cafeteria...I wish they could look into a crystal ball and see the "bad boy" they are trying so hard to impress may turn out to be a cold dung pile in a decade or so...I wish they'd just give geek a chance.  

June 1, 2011

Boxes and More Boxes and More Boxes and More Boxes

I keep waiting for the phone to ring.  Then, those words:  "The deal fell through. Sorry."  Now, as is typical for me, I have no reason to suspect this will happen, but I'm prepared on some level.  It was too smooth, ya know.

Our closing date is now about 7 weeks away.  That would be the closing date for selling our house...not the date for closing on a new one.  Why?  BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T FOUND ONE!!!  But, it's okay.  Better Half and I have been the ultimate planners since we married.  We've set goals, found a strategy to reach them, and stuck to it (for the most part...it's always the purses that cause me to stray. I love you, Coach and Louis!)  Flying without a net isn't so bad.  Matter of fact, it feels pretty good to "live outside the box."

Today we've cleaned. I mean REALLY cleaned... like, sorting through the boxes that have been in storage for years.  Going through photos from high school.  Culling out the computer games from the good old bachelor days. That kind of cleaning.  On that note, here's what I've learned today...

1.  I have a lot of books.  Lots and Lots of books.  Almost the entire series of Sweet Valley High (don't act like you don't remember those!) and a fair amount of Nancy Drew.  Also, one about teenage lesbians.  Yeah, I don't know either.

2.  I was a crappy college student until my junior year.  Coincidentally, this was the year I started paying the bill myself.   In my mind, I was a scholar, but apparently that was an illusion. 

3.  Packing sucks.  I'm grateful the house sold this quickly; don't get me wrong.  But, do you have any idea how much crap a family of five can stockpile?! Bags.  Boxes. Tons.  Mountains.  It's easier to part with it, though, when you think about making a fresh start. Still, packing, taping, labeling, stacking...bites.

4.  My kids are horrible assistants.  I told them to go through the movies.  We still have all of them, but now they are scattered hither and yon across the den. Apparently, they needed to view every dvd they've ever gotten to make sure it still worked before they could make a decision.  I think I'll have to do some late night recon and remove some for them.  Trust me, they'll never notice.

5.  My semi-OCD has paid off, finally!  My sorting, organizing, categorizing, label-making self has really helped.  Even though I'm going through a ton of crap, it's pretty much together already.  I knew it would pay off!

6.  Finally, I have an over-abundance of office supplies.  No, really, like 500 envelopes, about 200 manilla folders, and too many file folders.  We don't have a home office.  Most of my stuff stays filed (although neatly) in an old pampers box until our annual file/shred day(s).  Girlo Two has been shredding for three days, so maybe we should make it a week.  Or maybe I should get out those supplies and use them instead of packing them?  Nah....

So, there, my lessons for today.  If you walked in, you'd never know we've worked all day on this, but we're making headway one box at a time.  Truthfully, it'll be a little sad when it's all packed up and ready to go.  It's time, though.  Then we can move on to make another mess in another home!

P.S.  To those of you moving out and on, good luck.  You know who you are!! :)

May 27, 2011

Something's Amiss, I Say!

My neighbors are international, drug-smuggling, arms-dealing terrorists.  Or possibly meth-makin', oxy-snortin' drug addicts.  At the very least, they are strange.

The house beside our humble abode is a rental house which has, in the past, been home to several nice families. Okay, except the one with the yay-hoo children who destroyed our swingset, but other than that it's been all good. I think we may have hit a bump in that illustrious road of neighbors.

Having used the term neighbors several times now, let me clarify something. I'm not real sure who they are.  I've seen a toddler on occasion, two young males, a young female, and an older female.  There is no pattern to them.  Just random people-ness. I think one of the young men belongs there.  Better Half spoke to him when we told him their ankle-biter dogs had to be on a leash when outside. Young Man said they hadn't lived "in the city" before (um, small town, but whatev), but he'd take care of it.  Minus a few Houdini moves, they've pretty much been up since then.  Thank ya kindly, mystery neighbor man.

The past few days, however, have piqued my seriously honed, mad detective skillz.  The perps (my girl Lynn loves po-po speak) have been sitting in either a car or a truck at random times for the past two or three days.  Just. Sitting.  They're not listening to some gangsta rap that's inappropriate for the toddler (she's still randomly seen running through their 2 foot tall grass.) or even running the engine listening for some knock in the engine.  I swear, they just sit there.

I've been doing surveillance from my kitchen since yesterday.  Although I have yet to see the incriminating blue haze wafting from the vehicle a la Cheech & Chong, I certain there are some shady activities. Really, the weather's nice and all, but who sits in their car IN SILENCE for that long? No music. Furthermore, I don't even think they're talking. Just. Sitting.

So, okay, maybe they're not running AK-47's to third-world countries...but they're still weird.

May 26, 2011

Adieu, Ms. Oprah

Funny, I didn't realize how early on I had started watching Oprah.  Yesterday, as I sat on my bed and watched her final show, I thought, "Wow, I was 14 when I started watching. Dang, that's only two years after she started!" I remember hooking my stereo up to my television so I could make a cassette tape of her show to listen to when I drove to visit my then-boyfriend. 

I wanted to be her when I was younger.  I loved her ability to pull raw emotions from strangers and to make them feel everything would be better when they left her.  My whole fear of public speaking thingy kinda put the brakes on that, but I still stand in awe of her ability to move people.  I wonder if the air around her feels different. I bet it does.

Yesterday, she spoke what she calls her love letter to her fans.  Funnily enough, I almost missed the show.  Life happens, and I've only caught about two episodes this past year.  It dawned on me at 3:47 that today was the day.  I didn't cry through the show, but I was teary-eyed plenty.  She has that effect.

My ex-husband hated Oprah. He'd rant and rave when I was watching the show.  I suspect it's because I might listen to her and realize things weren't the fairy tale I talked myself into.  She wanted everyone to take that little light of their own and make it shine, shine, shine.  Mine finally shines.

She talked about the whispers God sends to us. Oh, how I love the whispers.  The little pokes and prods that are meant to send us in the right direction.  It's that tug at your soul that says, "Do this."  It's the co-inky-dink that makes you stop in your tracks and wonder, "Why does this keep happening?!"  My whispers said to write, and I did, thanks to three great ladies who encouraged me.  What do your whispers say?

I don't agree with her politics, but I can't argue with the energy she puts out into the world.  Yesterday she spoke of how what you receive is what you put out there.  So, so true.  Put out your best every single day, and the world will send it back to you tenfold.  Own your life.  No matter where you started in this life or what jacked-up paths you took, own it.  No matter what has happened to you, you make the decisions of where your life goes.  The past is that:  past.  Own it and make it your own life ~ no one else's.

My four o'clock hour won't be different than it was before she left the air.  As I said, I haven't been a regular in years.  But, like an old and faithful friend, she was there if I had a moment to sit down with her. I thank her for making me aware of, well, life.  To know there is more out there if I'm willing to receive it.  To know I have a light to shine out into this world.  To know I'm worth it.  Thanks, Oprah, for brightening our world.

May 16, 2011

Routines, I tell ya, ROUTINES!!

"Change, shit, I guess change is good for any of us."  Tupac

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes....I'm not a fan of change. Matter of fact, I think I kinda hate it.  I like routines and things that always happen the same way.  The downside of that is then I get bored and have to change up the routine a little bit.  But it's still a routine.  I know it's good for us; I mean, c'mon, Tupac said so. Anybody remember that movie "Poetic Justice" with him and Janet Jackson. Man, I loved that movie.

Last night the Better Half got the whole famdamily in the car and took us for a ride. He said he felt like we should be doing something since we were all home on a Friday night, so that's what our something was.  Suits me fine because I love pointless rides in the car.  We headed out and eventually drove through a new development we'd looked at for maybe building one day.  I wanted to freeze that moment in time.  The air was fresh from rain with a breeze, the kids were actually getting along in the backseat, and it was just nice.  That's why I don't care for change...I like those nice moments and I want them on a constant loop for eternity.

 I get that change is a certain part of life, "like death and taxes."  I guess the part of change I hate is the hurt it causes.  Loved ones leave us, friendships fall apart...those sucky things that are inevitably part of life.  I wish for those rare moments in time when all my friends are happy, truly happy, in their lives; when my children are innocent and soaking up life's offerings; when my husband is tucked beside me watching the Braves...These are the moments I love, not the yucky, painful, hurtful, sad moments.

Where you find yourself, though, is often tied to those moments when change whacks you in the face just to see if you really, I mean REALLY, know just who the hell you are.  And you learn how strong you truly are, even though you may have thought you didn't have it in you.  You learn that sometimes your best friend is the one who lets you fall, not the one who is constantly telling you how to live your life.  It's facing the truth of life and making that change because you have to if you're ever going to have a bite of happiness. 

Maybe I'll try to be more accepting of it one day.  We're fairly certain the house is sold, so there is a big, fat experiment just waiting on me.  But like it?  Nah, not gonna happen.

May 8, 2011

Lipomyelomeningocele...That's what he said.

First, a little background...Compliments of Seattle Children's Hospital...

What Is Lipomyelomeningocele?
A lipomyelomeningocele (pronounced lipo-my-elo-men-IN-go-seal) is a rare birth defect. It affects a child’s backbone (spine).  A lipomyelomeningocele is a fatty mass that is located under the skin on the child’s back. It is usually located in the middle of the back. The mass goes inward to the spinal canal. A lipomyelomeningocele is covered in skin. You can usually see it on the outside of the child's body. It looks like a large lump.

The two biggest problems that develop with lipomyelomeningocele in children are:  The spinal cord gets stuck (fixed) to the fatty mass and the fatty mass puts pressure on the spinal cord.

It's Mother's Day, and this has been on my mind for some time, so today felt like a good day to put it out there.  As every mother knows, all of my children are special for different reasons. While you don't love one more than another, you love them differently.  Girlo Two is my tender-hearted artist.  She cries when she's angry with someone because she's more irritated at herself for feeling angry toward them.  As my firstborn, she was the first one I experienced unconditional love with, so there's always a different relationship between us than the others.

Baby Girl is such an amazing combination of us, it blows my mind sometimes.  I suppose because I'm in such a different place than I was with her sister and brother, I'm getting to enjoy parts I didn't have the ability to before.  She is stubborn, curious, loving, and firm in her nature.  I'm not sure what her specific gifts are, but I expect her to do great things.

This post is about my middle child, my sweet boy.  I did all the right things during my pregnancy...ate the right foods, didn't smoke or drink, took my vitamins, and was tested for all those various things they test for.  Everything was normal.  Then he was born. And when he was born, there was a small spot on his bum with no pigmentation. 

Because I get so sick from the meds during the surgery, I spent several hours after his and Girlo Two's births sick and sleeping.  Not pleasant, but I survived.  When I returned to my room, he was not there.  My dear friend came to see me, and she said it wasn't in the nursery, either.  I later learned they had taken him for x-rays at a different hospital with a NICU.

Long before I became pregnant with him, I remember asking my friend when she was pregnant if she was being tested for Down's Syndrome and all the other things they test for.  She said no because it would not make a difference to them.  I clearly remember saying, "But I'd want to be prepared."  There is no preparation; it is a journey with no map.

Our pediatrician, who will always be a saint in my eyes, knew there was something wrong and sent us to a specialist.  At four months, I walked into a neurosurgeon's office with my sweet little boy, and he told me there was a tumor bound to his spinal cord and surgery was needed.  I could tell by the furrows of his brow he was trying to communicate to me the seriousness in a vocabulary someone without his knowledge would understand.  His look and the convoluted images of my baby's back said what his words could not.

At five months I gently laid my baby in the arms of a nurse whose name I did not know and I walked into a waiting room for an 8 hour test of my will.  The nurses called hourly to update me, and finally he was out of surgery.  The mass was tethered to the cord and had twisted all of his nerves.  What should have been to the left and right was in front of and behind.  They had taken the tiny vertebrae out of his back and then placed them back together.  The staples ran from his tiny bum to his shoulder blades.  But, he was alive and breathing.

There is nerve damage.  Whether from the mass or the surgery, we'll never know, and it's not important.  He wears braces on his legs, and his doctors believe he will at some point ask for a wheelchair to get around.  We've had a few other surgeries since for issues related to it.  Other than these things, he is a normal boy.  He wants to work for the FBI; he has a wit beyond his years; and he beats up his sisters with annoying regularity.

On this Mother's Day, I want to say thanks for my little boy because he taught me to live life a little lighter.  I thought I'd need to be prepared for a child who needed a little more, but there is no preparation.  We take it as it comes, and we try to work out the kinks.  When I watch him walk his funky walk into school or when I hear him taking off his braces at night, I'm grateful I got him.  He will never be the little boy version of Forrest Gump who just miraculously runs out of his braces and turns into some hippie marathon runner.  That's not reality. But it's okay.  I love him as he is forever and always.

May 4, 2011

Memories, Er, House for Sale

I sometimes hate my house.  Okay, a lot of times, I hate my house. I need new windows so I can put up those pretty two-inch blinds, and the hardwood floors need refinishing.  The couch is in need of replacement, and the kitchen table has marks where baby girl has slammed her fork into it.  There is also a streak of hot pink paint on the top and some yellow smeared around a chair.  I can't "accessorize" anything because cute little baby girl will rip it off the table and shred it into a gazillion tiny pieces.  Suffice to say, no home decorating magazines will be stopping by anytime soon.

My better half finally decided we would put the house on the market "just to see" what happens.  Oh, I don't know...no one comes to see it EVER or the stars align to sell it and then we're homeless.  With three kids.  I'm not sure which will happen, but the sign is in the yard, so we'll see.  We got a call around lunch today asking to show it at 5:30.  Of course, it's the day he's sick and doesn't feel like moving.  With a little luck and a lot of sprinting, we got the job done and it was actually shown twice.  So, why do I feel so sad?

When I left at the crackass of dawn Monday, I looked back into the house as I was pulling the door closed.  It didn't look like my house:  Everything was clean and in its place.  The dawn was just beginning, and faint rays of sunlight were peeking into the wall of windows on the front of the house.  It smelled of lemony Mr. Clean and Murphy's Oil Soap.  For a split second, I loved it. Maybe for longer than a split second.

If we sell it, it will be hard to leave.  Growing up, we moved...a lot.  It wasn't because of being in the military or job related. My parents just liked to move.  I lived in three houses all within about 150 yards of one another.  Just because.  To me, it's no biggie.  Truly, home is where your family and your heart are.  It can be a cave if that's what floats yer boat.  Somehow, though, this is a little more than that.  This is the house we painted together, the house the kids and I moved into when Better Half and I got married, and the house we brought baby girl home to when she graced our world with her presence.  I know why certain marks are on the walls, and I know exactly where the kids are in the house by the creeking of the floors.  It's a big memory box of the past five years of our lives, and it'll be hard to leave here.

I have mixed emotions about moving to another house.  I know it, too, would become our home, yet I know I will drive by here and my heart will tug.  Maybe we should stay and just get those windows for my pretty blinds.  I don't know the answer, so I choose to go with the old standby, "If it's meant to be, it'll be."  And if it's horrible, I'll blame the Better Half.  After all, it was his decision!  :)

April 29, 2011

A Simple Wave

If you were sitting here with me sharing a cup of tea and sitting on the porch, you'd experience a beautiful spring night.  The kind of night where you still feel the faint reminder of winter's chill, but hear the sounds of spring all around.  If you looked at the sky, you'd see an endless inky blackness dotted with stars and blinking satellites. To the east there'd be the faint outline of the smooth, time worn mountains.  It is a night where there is a stillness to the air.

It is also the night after.  The night after ghastly winds ripped apart the small community I've lived in my entire life.  The night after homes were tossed on top of automobiles.  The night after ancient trees were ripped from the ground and flipped carelessly across fields.  The night after men and women died.  It is a night not to be forgotten.


It is also the night I rocked a sweet, innocent infant while her mother showered.  It is the night I talked to a man who spent the day picking through the rubble of where his home once stood. It is the night I talked to a former student who is now a volunteer with the Red Cross after he spent the day working in the hardest hit areas.  It is the night where hours have been spent stocking endless supplies for those in need.  It is a night where the faintest glimmer of hope can be seen.

As I stopped at the shelter on the way home to see what was needed, a father and two young daughters were walking in, too.  I don't know if they were helping or seeking help, but that's neither here nor there.  The youngest girl looked at me as I was getting my key out of the ignition, and her eyes locked on mine.  Then, a smile spread and her hand waved to me.  A stranger.  No one she knew.  A simple wave from a child who may not even have a home left. 

We will wake again tomorrow and begin the process again.  Assessments will begin taking place, and people will start piecing together their lives as best as they can at this point.  Funerals will be planned.  Fundraisers will be planned.  Such is the way in my small southern town. 

I will not forget anytime soon the sounds that rushed over my home last night or the spectacular lightning I witnessed.  What I will also not forget is the smell of sweet babies who are blissfully unaware of the tragedy they survived or the haggard looks of the volunteers who'd been up for almost two days.  And I most certainly will remember the wave of a child, who, without saying a word, reminded me there is always a reason for hope. 

April 20, 2011

Give'n It Up So I Can Fill 'Er Up

Growing up, we were the consumate church hoppers.  My dad had grown up one religion and my mother another, so we bounced between those two and everything else available.  We shopped based on the people and how we felt when we attended. Kinda like Goldilocks and her porridge...some were too stuffy, others too stiff.  At about 14 I called it quits for the next 15 years or so.  I never felt like I "fit" and wasn't real sure what I believed anyway.  It felt fake to sit there and say the words if I wasn't sure I believed in them.

Fast forward through the college years and searching...I realized somewhere along the way my faith was my faith, and I really didn't need a name for it.  I suppose when you quit looking, you find what you're looking for.  We found a little country church where the people come in suits and blue jeans.  They put their money, however meager or much, where their mouths are and help out those less fortunate at every turn.  Everybody knows you, they speak no matter what, they take care of everyone when a marriage happens or a baby is born, and (most importantly) it feels like I belong when I plop on my pew. 

On Ash Wednesday, we went to church and our very wise pastor explained the purpose of giving up something for Lent.  For the past couple of years that I had tried (I swear, I tried, really...) to give up something for Lent, it had been the standard sweets or carbonated drinks.  I had only replaced sweets with more potato chips.  I somehow don't think that's the point.

What I chose to ditch this year was the anchor on my life ~ the ambiguous monster that always holds me back...I gave up fear.  That doesn't mean I'm skydiving or tempting a nest of bees; It just means I'm taking chances when I usually would've let fear hold me back.  A few opportunities have popped up recently.  Before I would've convinced myself I was too stupid or not connected enough to get the chance, but now I've put myself out there.  And, truthfully, they may not happen, but it's okay.  Point is, I tried.

Trust me when I say you don't have to worry about me knocking on your door to try to convert you.  I figure you believe what you believe, and I should respect that just the same as you respect mine.  Just posting this is about letting go of that fear of offending others.  Some may read this and never come back.  And that's okay. 

I understand now what she meant.  The point isn't about giving up...It's about replacing a negative with a positive.  It's about filling up that space with something that is good.  Something that makes you a better, well, you.  I'm going out on a limb here, but I think that's a general human thing we can all aspire to regardless of the time of year or what label we place upon ourselves.

April 15, 2011

Feet: A Love-Hate Relationship

I'm not the spring chicken I used to be.  It's quite possible I've been a bitchy old hen since birth, actually.  My body is starting to give me not-so-subtle hints it needs more TLC, so I've started going to yoga.  The most serene and wonderful woman who teaches the class told us one day to put our fingers between our toes and then we did something (can't remember what, but I know I felt better later even if I can't pronouce it.)  And can I say it was all I could do to comply?  But, she asked nicely, and I am a perfectionist.  Still, feet make me gag.
BUT.  Yesterday as I walked around at work in my old Birks, I looked down at my feet, and I started to kinda like them.  My toes are painted a sassy pinkish-red at the moment and my annual professional pedicure is holding up quite nicely.  I had one of those flashes of clarity and suddenly I thought of how much those feet had carried me through in life.

Looking back I was never seriously overweight as a child, but my best friends were all cornstalks in pastel Izod shirts.  I was chubby in weird neon jumpers.  I remember thinking at some points, "At least I've got cute feet."  Sam might have been able to do a front handspring, but my feet were better. Which, since I kept them firmly planted on the ground, was a good thing.

I remember the first time I could paint my toes after having Girlo Two (the eldest).  She was lying beside me snuggled safely in her blankets sleeping the sleep that only newborns can, and I watched her breathe in and breathe out.  I painted my toes pink, and I felt hope for the first time in a long time.

When my oh-so-sweet son was born, there were indications of problems.  Tests and surgeries were to come.  I missed those chubby baby feet I had loved with Girlo Two, but his feet spoke his story.  Flat, so that he sounds like E.T. when he walks down the hallway, and with no push-off ability, his feet are long and slender and marked with surgical scars...an elegant reminder of his journey.

When I learned my ex-husband was having an affair, I remember looking down at my feet and watching the tears dropped onto them.  My lungs felt as if the air had been stripped from my body, but I felt every sob.  I put my knees to my chest and cried long and hard while my feet rocked me. Heel to toe, over and over.  Then I got up, dried my face and feet, and they carried me on.

I walked down the aisle to my soulmate, whispered my vows and then danced with these feet on the night we were married.  We still dance in our kitchen when the spirit moves us. He complains when I put my ice cold feet next to his on winter nights, but misses them when he's away.  I suppose it's my subconscious way of making sure he's there in my slumber...

Shortly before bringing home our last little one, I painted them the brighest, shiniest pink I could.  They might have swelled like fat sausages, but they would be pretty, dammit!  The nurses all complimented me on how great they looked next to my lovely, stark white compression tights!  Again, I had found hope, and I would bring this baby home to wrap in snuggly blankets while I listened to her breathe the same hopeful breaths her sister and brother had several years before.

No matter how twisted and beautiful and lonely and heartbreaking and serene and hopeful my path has been, my feet have carried me along through it all...keeping me upright when I only wanted to fall, helping me dance and live life when blessed with joys.  Next time my beautiful friend and yoga genius tells me to squeeze my toes for the position I can't remember/pronouce, it will be done with love. 

April 13, 2011

Ya know, I really get on my own nerves...

I annoy myself, but I've decided it's okay.  I'm not sure if it's just one thing or if it's a lot of things that fall under a general umbrella of annoyance.  Whatever it is, I decided it was okay on the drive home today and just sang my way down the road to some Indigo Girls.

Most of my life has been spent on the verge of some health-related acronym.  Borderline OCD or ADD or some other something something.  I was never one to go through the house turning off lights repeatedly, but I had to have things "in their boxes" in order to keep that panic tucked in the mental footlocker.  As for the ADD, well, let's say there are times I start folding laundry and somehow end up scrubbing the bathroom only to find when I go back through the house, the laundry is still unfolded and somehow the dishwasher is open, too.  Not sure how that happens, but it's my life.

Lately there have been things that I've not executed with my usual OMG attitude.  We went out of town recently and I didn't pack two weeks before.  When my better half left today at what I consider "Oh, SHIT!" time to pick up the kids, I didn't say a word.  I started to get worked up about it, but thought to myself, "Why?"  I can't change the situation, so what's the point?

Letting a lot of the shitastic weight of life roll off my shoulders these days is what leads to the annoyance of me by me.  I used to stress and worry and perfect things.  I realized the other day I wasn't compulsively color-coding and alphabetizing some spreadsheets I was working on.  Mind you, these habits don't help the process or make it more understandable.  I just like it to be pretty:)  I typed it up and sent it on.  Something is amiss, I say!

So here's my list of why I get on my own nerves.
1. I promise myself I'm not going to care what others think, yet when I behave in that manner I spend the next month analyzing my every move.  It's not like I acted bad...I didn't dance naked on a table or wear white before Easter.  I just made random conversation or laughed. Ughh! Then I decide it's easier to stay in my cave, but then I realize that won't work either...and the cycle repeats.

2.  I'm not THAT mom.  Honestly, I'm tired at the end of the day.  As much as I'd like to take the kids to the park to feed not-so-wild animals or expose them to some culture, there just ain't enough gas in the tank.  If they want to be fed and wear clean clothes, then that will have to wait till the weekend or until a grandparent feels sorry for them.  As much as I wish I could be the perky mom with nary a dilemma, they're stuck with grumpy, chaotic me.

3.  I may be a tad indecisive.  Or maybe a lot indecisive.  I'm not sure.  Big decisions make me sweat way more than a southern girl should, so I just ignore them.  None of my children were planned in that "We're trying!" kinda way.  That would've been too much pressure.  We talk about trying to sell our house, but it scares me, so I'm waiting on my better half to make the call.  My response is usually, "I don't care."  It would take entirely too long for me to debate the pros and cons for each option, so we can accomplish more if you make the decision.  

4.  My husband says I have conversational Tourette's.  I like to think it's my genius at work and only a small number of brains universally can leap this fast within such a small window of time.  His simple comment on a billboard can lead me into a 30 minute commentary on a childhood memory with no obvious connection to his.  In my mind, though, it makes sense.  He talks about the kids needing milk, and my mind goes something like this:  milk, cow, uncle's farm as a kid, sitting on fence rail, falling in cow shit, cousin's too-small shorts...So my response is, "Ya know, I always was kind of a chubby kid."  And he thinks I'm an alien.

5.  My mix CD's and playlists are without direction.  I love them because at the moment I chose them, they were exactly what I wanted to hear.  As I drove home today, though, I heard New Edition (tell me baby, can you stand the rain?) then Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine followed up with Charlie Daniels Band.  Not on different stations, but all on one CD.  If this is a reflection of my personality, I'm in trouble.

I suppose that part of my learning to breathe has to be about letting "it" go.  I can't worry about every little snit of a thing, because, frankly, there just aren't enough hours in my day.  So I suppose I will continue to overanalyze myself, hold DCS at bay (kidding!), procrastinate about decisions, and hopscotch through conversations all the while listening to Anthrax and Suzanne Vega.  As long as I'm breathing, it's all good.

April 9, 2011

When I said, "How are you?" I didn't mean it.

Long time, no write.  Life throws curveballs, granted, but the past week was an endless series of fastballs right to the gut.  All is getting better...if only the laundry would walk itself and wash itself in the laundry room. On to other things...

The other day I ran into someone who is somewhere between a friend and an acquaintance.  It was a random thing, a chance to say hello.  When she asked how I was doing, I responded with my usual response:  Truth.  I told her how my back hurt, I was deprived of sleep, and I was frustrated with my students.  I could tell after the first 15 seconds of my response, she regretted asking. Her eyes glazed over...her brow knitted...confusion washed over her face.  She didn't really mean to ask that, I'm guessing.

Thing is, I'm not really a negative person.  Matter of fact, I'll be your best damn cheerleader if you give me half a chance.  Granted, I'm sarcastic and a touch cynical at times, but overall I'm a fairly glass-is-half-full kinda gal.  Of course, now that I think about it, I always think I'm dying or am going to die in some random situation, but that's normal, right?  Besides, it only applies to me:  Everyone else is going to live a healthy and long life.

There are times when I deliberately skirt around a question.  I won't outright tell you your new boyfriend is akin to a llama, but I'll drop some hints to tell ya there are better fish in the sea.  For some reason, asking me how I am is not one of those.  I will tell you everything.  Every. Last. Detail.  Why? Because you asked, idiot.  That's what the question means.

I know when I ask the same question to others, I expect a truthful response.  If you have a problem, maybe I can help.  If nothing else, I love to offer unsolicited advice based upon any statement you make that I can identify with in any microscopic way.  Because I really want to know how you are.  Really.  And I want you to be happier than a pig in mud.

Alright, I know it's the courteous thing to say and blah, blah, blah. But, really, why waste the time and air to ask a question you don't really want to hear the answer to? You could just as easily say, "So, how 'bout Pluto becoming a dwarf planet? That's some stuff, huh?"  Or maybe, "Read any good Chaucer lately?"   I promise to be so dumbfounded that you could run away before I wiped the stunned look off my face and unloaded upon you.

I suppose I just hate the fake interest when you don't even really have to fake it.  A simple hello would've been fine.  Truthfully (cause I'm all about some truth these days), you can just smile and I'll be happy. Don't even have to push the air out of your lungs.  And I promise, in return, if I ask how you are doing...I mean it.  You can even talk about your gout or your ear wax or your annoying neighbor's dog barking or your crappy boss or your daughter who just won a full scholarship to an Ivy league school or your order at McDonald's that got screwed up or your heat bill that was entirely too high or your car that is about to up and die on you or your bra that just lost its underwire or your underwear that rides up your crack or your whatever...I will listen because I meant it.  Promise.

March 30, 2011

Oooh! A List! And Music! Win!!

I'm pretty sure I was conceived while my parents were listening to music. I know, "eewwwww!" That, however, is the only way to explain my devotion and love for music.  I'm not picky: I'm just as likely to be listening to Black Flag as I am Reba McEntire.  Today's musical choice at school was Breakfast Bossa Nova.  You can see I like a wide range of tunes.

I have no musical gifts.  When Randy on AI is talking about range and melody, he might as well be speaking in tongues for all I understand.  I just love to sing my lungs out when I'm riding down the road.  I've been rolling down my mental playlist of favorite songs, and here is the list (in no particular order) of songs I can't live without.  Literally. 

Hank Williams, Jr. Country Boy Can Survive
Not sure where I was the first time I heard this one, but I remember riding in the car with my parents and listening to it. It made me proud of my little southern town.  If you messed with country folk, they had guns...they weren't afraid to use them either.  And then?  Beechnut in your eye.  Just to make sure you got the point. 

Liz Phair, Divorce Song
I played this song like there was no tomorrow during my college years.  Somewhere along the way, I realized the lyric And the license said you had to stick around until I was dead, but if you're tired of looking at my face I guess I already am was written for me.  That lyric gave me permission, so to speak, to file divorce papers and move on with my life.

Nine Inch Nails, The Only Time
This has always been a fav, and there was a moment in time when it made perfect sense.  I love it...My moral standing is lying down...This is the only time I really feel alive...how perfectly said.  That moment when everything flew out the window and you lived for just one moment without a care of consequence.

Not an official vid, but the only one with clear audio

Tori Amos, Silent All These Years
I've got something to say you know but nothing comes...Um, yeah, too many times I had something to say, but was too chicken to say it.  This reminds me of a girl having a conversation with a boy, but the boy has no idea she is even talking. I also love Talulah because it totally rocks a harpsichord.  Yes, it does.

Willie Nelson, Stardust
Let me make it clear that as much as I love my husband and as old as Willie is, if he asked me to run away with him, I totally would.  That said, this is my favorite song.  I know it's probably an obvious choice in some ways, but maybe that's what makes a classic, well, a classic. It's a standard of excellence, and I think it's pretty excellent. But, I'm biased since I love him so.  It also reminds me of my daddy and my bff's daddy, Mike: They loved some Willie, too, but I don't think they'd have run off with him...

Outkast, B.O.B.
Imagine a slammed kitchen in a super busy restaurant on a hot summer night...the temperature is in the high 80s in there because of all the heat from the gas ranges and ovens...orders are piling in and it's time to step it up. This was the kitchen's song for those nights.  One-nine-nine-nine...It would come on, and the boys in the kitchen would just rock it out.  For a short period of time, we had a golden thing going on...miss those times.

Anthrax and Public Enemy, Bring Tha Noise
No matter that Flav became the only reality show on VH1 and was a bit of a joke at that...When this song comes on the stereo, I play it as loud as I possibly can without blowing all the speakers in my husband's car. Every. Single. Time.

Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine
If I had a dollar for every time I've listened to this song, I could retireDarkness has a hunger that's insatiable...Oh, boy, don't it though!  I listened to this tirelessly the summer I worked with my dear aunt...I sang it when I was happy, and I sang it when I was sad.  It makes me hopeful that you can actually get somewhere close to "fine" other than just giving an empty reply when others ask how you are.  I was lucky enough to see them one summer, and it was an amazing show.  I think they are poets who happen to play instruments. And a tin whistle? Win!

I know there are some I've forgotten because I'm tired, it's late, and I've got a bad tummy tonight; however, I totally reserve the right to add to this list at any point. After all, it is my blog!  Like right now, I realized there is no Prince on this list.  That's obscene...and no Ministry...and no Paul Simon...No Billie Holiday...Yikes!

March 28, 2011

What Doesn't Kill You...Only Gives You Nightmares

There are mornings when I wake, and I lie there silently in my bed reliving my dreams.  A lightness envelopes me in these moments as I remember that which will escape me once the day begins.  These are the good days.

Other days, however, I wake fully aware that sleep did not bring peace to me.  I remember the times I awoke, looking at the clock to see how much longer till daybreak.  My head aches from lack of rest.  As much as I love to soak up those good mornings, I want to run from the dark ones.

During the dark days, sleep always brought me respite from the world.  I looked forward to burrowing in my soft haven and making my brain stop.  As my friends would say, "locking up the squirrels."  Once those days spread farther and farther apart, sleep became what should be: Recharging the body and soul for another day of living.  Every now and again, though, I'm cheated. 

When I left the safe confines of my elementary school, I was amazed at all the people I was meeting.  It was a mix of race and class (at least for a small southern town) and I truly loved finding new friends even at this young age.   

As we were walking one day during gym class, I started walking with a group of kids I'd just met.  A bunch of eleven and twelve year-olds on a fall day without a care in the world...  When class was ending, the coach called us up, and I told the others I'd finish my lap.  They went up to the school.  What I did not know there were two other boys still down there.  As I walked, they started saying things to me I had never heard, but I knew their tones didn't have good intentions.  One boy was coming toward me, and I saw he was unbuttoning his pants.  This is the part where I should've screamed or ran, but the only thought I had was, "What the hell is happening?"

I firmly believe in guardian angels, and, at that moment, mine appeared.  One of the boys I had been walking with had noticed I was not coming up to the school as quickly as I should have.  He came back for me.  That simple:  He came back.  That moment is seared into my soul for eternity.

I am aware that I am luckier than most would have been in this situation.  I walked away, but not as complete as I was when I woke that morning.  My innocence had not been shattered, but there was a fracture.  Their names stick in the back of my brain, crawling out every now and again.  While I suppose forgiveness would be the noble thing to do, I can't.  Last night I dreamed of them chasing me...never able to catch me, but always just right behind me.  Maybe if I forgive them the dreams will stop? Or is it I can forgive them when the dreams stop?  Dunno...

All I know is there was a young man, one who barely knew me, and he made a split-second decision that changed my life forever.  Wherever you are, Donny Jackson, thank you for coming back. I pray your dreams are peaceful.

March 27, 2011

An Endorsement I Should Totally Get Paid For...Photos,too! YAY!

Remember that guy I blogged about? The one I totally love? Well, I totally love him even more now!!!!  Massive brownie points were scored for a weekend at Biltmore: He not only went on the cheesy tours, but he also wore a sweater to dinner! Dude must love me!

View from room at Inn
 At first we sorta felt like Jed and Elly May rollin' in, but the staff was amazingly gracious and not snotty at all. Bonus points for giving us a larger room, too! The rooms aren't huge and the bathroom was average in size, but it made up for averageness (it's a word if I say so!) in comfort.  So nice to use towels that match and aren't threadbare! For the first time in years, I sat in a bathtub...ahhhh.....

Biltmore House
I don't know if words can adequately describe the house.  Granted I'm a nerd of epic proportions when it comes to houses and history. I can't remember shit historically, but I'm fascinated by it. Dates and persons of importance elude me, but I'm no less intrigued by them.  When we started the tour, it was impressive, but nothing like I saw as we continued.  The weight of history while walking those halls, looking into those rooms, and touching banisters that had been touched by the likes of whom we'll never see again about drowned me.  Standing in the banquet hall surrounded by armor, grand chairs in velvet, three fireplaces over 6 feet tall, and a seven-story ceiling, my eyes welled with tears.  This is a home, not a display case. People lived here:  They dined in this room, slept in these beds, and birthed children in those rooms.  They sat in front of fireplaces and talked ~ not texting another person, but actually having a conversation. They read one of the 10,000+ tomes of literature or played chess. The history is crushing.

I love this statue!!

After my breathtaking, tear-laced afternoon, we had dinner at Cedric's Taven, which is named after Vanderbilt's beloved St. Bernard. The service from everyone was superb, and free dessert was even better! The chef made sure I got an amazing meal even working around my gluten weirdness. 


Yeah, I know, I should've taken the pic BEFORE I started eating, but it was just too tempting. AND FREE!
Biltmore Ice Cream bites covered in chocolate=Yummy Goodness
I know we should've probably done something equally amazing on the second day, but we pretty much stayed in the Inn.  We did pretend we were rich and ordered room service.  Nothing like a rose on your breakfast tray!

Room Service, anyone? The bacon was, like, uber thick. Bacon Rules!
After than it was a movie fest.  Not a big deal, but, when you have three kids, an afternoon watching movies without commercials AND a kid needing something is HUGE!! I cried through Russell Crowe's Robin Hood (and lusted a little cause he was H-O-T!) and then cried even harder through The Blind Side. We hit the winery after my Cry Fest 2011, because who doesn't need wine when you're an emotional basketcase?

Part of the machinery involved in making the wine. That's where the grapes are crushed.
The wine tour was free (YAY!) as was the wine tasting. We each sampled about four wines, and we picked one to bring home to the babysitters (aka Grandparents).  I loved when the tour guide said, "You can sample about seven before you stop tasting wine and just start drinking it."  Well said, my boy, well said.

We finished off our trip with dinner at the Inn's Dining Room.  It was a little intimidating at first, because we don't usually dine in this manner (read: our meal didn't come in a bag or a box.) They started us off with a palette stimulating (their words, not mine!) demitasse of cauliflower and asparagus cream soupy thing.  Don't know if it stimulated anything, but it was delish.  I got an amazing salad with greens from their farm, goat cheese, cranberries, and walnuts.  For dinner I got the Filet Mignon with potato/cauliflower gratin.  I can't do it justice, but we'll just label it as orgasmic and you can imagine it.  The server was dressed in a suit and tie and catered to our every need throughout the meal, including the gluten thing.  He brought me a rice flour bread and checked with the chef on everything I ordered.   

After dinner, we ordered dessert and coffee. While we were waiting, they brought a lemon sorbet to cleanse the palette for the sugar rush we were getting ready to participate in.  I love that term: Cleanse the palette.  Truthfully, I could have finished a garlic bulb and I'm always down for some sugary goodness. If there's sugar, I'm not picky.

Kevin chose three sorbets:  Georgia Peach, Pear, and Grapefruit.  They were divine, to say the least.  My dessert was a work of art.  I loved the care and precision that had, obviously, gone into it.  It was a pistachio souffle with cream anglaise. On the side was a small cone of peach sorbet rolled in pistachios.  The server opened the top of the souffle for me and poured it full of the cream anglaise.  Dear God, when I die, please let that be served in Heaven (assuming, of course, that's where I'm headed.)

Simply, there are no words...just, none. Sweet pastry gods, I thank you.

I think it's important to step outside the box every now and again.  When I suggested going there for our anniversary, my better half thought it would suck donkey eggs.  Our theme (everyone has a theme for trips, right?!) was to step outside the box.  When we would discuss doing something, if one of us started to get icky about it, the other one would say "Step outside the damn box!"  We managed to have a marvelous time and added another memory to wander back to when we are old and gray.  Outside the box is good.

The love o' me life!