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 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!

March 23, 2011

A Love Letter (Fo' Real)

There's about to be some serious mush up in here, so you might wanna stop reading now unless you're the type to hang out for hours in a Hallmark shop.


Oh, and it's probably going to be long.

In about 48 hours my better half and I will celebrate 5 years of marriage. That may not seem like a milestone to some, but for us it's amazing. It's amazing that he gave me a second glance, and it's amazing I put up with his crap.  We are both in awe that it's been five years. On one hand, it's been the blink of an eye; yet, on the other, it seems like it's always been us.

A little background...

I have been married before. It was a most spectacular debacle in the same manner as a Lifetime Movie Special.  One you wouldn't watch.  Although it lasted for close to a decade from first date to final divorce decree, it felt like a lifetime of disappointment with the exception of the births of my children.  I lost my pride, my health, and an ocean of tears, but one thing I never lost was hope that there was someone out there who would love me and be happy with just me.  There had to be someone for whom I was enough just as I am, warts and all.  And I promised I would love that person with every ounce of my being because he respected me and loved me.

Now, many years before Debacle Marriage, I knew a boy in high school. To say we didn't run in the same crowds would be an understatement. He laments to me quite often of how he heard me having a conversation in high school and was terrified of my potty mouth.  (In my defense, I do not remember this conversation, but it's probably true.) I, however, recognized his stellarness even at this age and had a huge (secret) crush on him.  He thought I was scary.

Fast forward to seven years ago.

My first marriage was over, and I was adjusting to the thoughts of life as a single mom.  Because I have an amazing family and rockin' friends, it was not the scariest thought ever, but I had the same doubts every person going through this does:  Do I want to ever date/marry again? Will that person be up for this? What if they don't love my kids? (Cause that is completely unacceptable, and you'll be kickin' rocks before I choose you over them.) Then, a surprise lunch offer.

One date became two became twenty and then a proposal by the beach on a star-filled night.  This man, the same one I had frightened so many years ago, stood before God, our family, and our friends, and agreed to love me and my children for all time, and I promised him the same.  Life began as a family.  There were rough spots: illness and surgeries. There was beauty:  the birth of a child. Through it all, it's been us together.

I don't think I can sum up the feelings I have for him.  I love him; I respect him; I am in awe of him; I adore him.  He has been strong for me when I couldn't. He let me fall apart and put myself back together, and I never doubted he would be there.  I am a firm believer in soulmates. There are people you can love and be married to, but there are others who are just more than that.  Beyond all there is, he is tied to my heart.

To my husband:  It is with a full heart I say thank you...thank you for asking me for that first date; thank you for deciding you could walk into our insta-family; thank you for loving my family despite our craziness; thank you for asking me to be your wife; thank you for being there even when I deserved less; thank you for encouraging me to be me (even though "me" can be tough); thank you for being that man I dreamed of so hard and for so long.

I love you. Lv, me.

March 21, 2011

HELP! I Need Somebody To Sue!!

I've thoroughly decided I am not truly meant for work.  After my first day of Spring Break, I like this staying at home business.  Not to say I would be in bed eating Ben & Jerry's all day; I'd clean up a bit. At least I'd have more time for it than I do now, so I can promise it, anyway.  I'd probably get a little crazy after a few weeks, but I could always blog and facebook my time away, right?

In the interest of "research" of the world of blogs, I was reading one last night and the author mentioned how McDonald's was selling happiness in a box without regard to health.  I'm not a dietician and I'm not skinny, so maybe I'm not the right person to be commenting on this, but does it take a mastermind to know McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants are NOT exactly the way to feed your kids?  Or yourself, for that matter?

My kids love McDonald's and would eat three or even five meals a day there.  My 2 year-old giggles and points when we go by the Golden Arches.  Does that mean I whip the MomWagon in there?  Uh, no.  Why? Cause I'm the adult! I'm the one who has the bucks (or at least the plastic) in my pocket. I'm firmly in control of the car.  There is no Fast & Furious drifting going on that pulls me into the joint without my control.  If we go to get fast-food, it's because I DROVE US THERE! 

Toys are part of the marketing of fast-food restaurants.  So are the advertisements on television.  When my parents were kids, many of the television shows were sponsored by foods made for kids.  Kellogg's sponsored cartoons so that their ads could be "placed" better in between segments.  Did my grandparents sue them because my dad became obese from eating sugary cereals?  Hell no, because he didn't become obese. She didn't feed him full of crap and she made him go run around and play all day.  See the difference?

There is a place for appropriate lawsuits.  Large companies knowingly poison your drinking water?  Fair game.  What I find ridiculous is suing over what YOU KNOW WILL HURT YOU!  If I jump headfirst into the baby pool, guess what? I'm probably gonna get hurt.  If I eat three meals a day from a fast-food joint, I'm probably gonna get fat(ter).  Is that their fault?  Nope.  And if someone's too stupid to figure it out, then maybe they need to be culled from the gene pool anyway.

p.s.  If you haven't rocked out to George Michael's "Faith" in a decade or so, go pull it out and listen to it.  I'd forgotten how cool it was.  Don't laugh, you know you own it.

March 18, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Home (Actually 3, but ya know...)

I am a lover of lists...but now that I think about it, I never really cross anything off. I make them and then leave them at home or shove them into my purse.  Really they serve no purpose at all in my life other than making me feel like I'm totally accomplishing something. Now I realize I'm not because I waste time making a list I never use in the first place.

Today, though, I have a list of three things that happened on my daily 30 minute commute home.  To some it may not be funny, but I laughed my arse off.  Here it is.

(1) Passed a wreck on the way home. (That's not funny, I know, but it was a non-injury accident so quit thinking I'm an ass.)  The funny part was the man who had driven/rode about 1/2 mile up the road on his Hoveround to check out the goins' on.  Even better? He actually had to cross railroad tracks to get to his vantage point. Really? Isn't there a Jerry Springer show on?

(2)  Immediately after passing Mr. Hoveround, I passed a guy out for a ride on his motorcycle.  Made sense because today was an amazingly beautiful day.  What I failed to understand was the cigarette hanging out of his mouth.  It would be different if I hadn't been the passenger on a motorcycle a time or twenty. (That's a whole different chapter that will be shared one day in its hilarity.) You can't really smoke a cigarette at 60 mph on a motorcycle.  Maybe it was his way of reinforcing the idea he's a bad ass.  I'm sure the lovely lady riding with him loved the ashes flying in her face.

(3)  This may not apply to anyone who didn't survive the "All About the Benjamins" era of music.  I was listening to the radio, and heard Sean Combs/Puff Daddy/Puffy/P.Diddy/Diddy's new song, but I didn't realize it was a new song because it sounded just like every other song he's ever done.  Is there any song he's done that doesn't lament how much he misses Biggie?  I know you love him. Now, thanks to those philosophical lyrics of yours, I know you'd have taken the bullet for him.  Very kind of you.

I arrived home in one piece with my belly hurting from laughing, and then I got to go hang out with some stellar friends to work on our elementary school's spring fundraiser. We were working diligently on a disco ball.  It was so amazingly good that one young, astute child walked through the stage area and said, "What's the wrecking ball for?" I will never understand how he confused an oversized beachball covered in aluminum foil, glitter, and silver stars as a wrecking ball.  Maybe that's four funny things?!

Enjoy the weekend!

March 17, 2011

It's On Like Donkey Kong!

I bought a tennis skirt. This may not be a big deal, unless you know me.  I am not an athlete in a form or fashion.  I do well to walk, let alone run or anything that involves coordinating multiple body parts.  All my friends played sports when we were growing up; I was in the stands cheering. That's how I roll.

Last summer, however, I made a split-second decision to play tennis. Nevermind my tennis experience consisted of intentionally serving tennis balls onto the roof of my high school so I wouldn't have to play for the rest of gym class. The vision in my head consisted of me going to the courts and discovering I was a natural. I mean, of course I would be a natural, right? Not so much.

First, a little background on my previous athletic attempts.  I tried snow skiing once when I was a freshman in high school. After realizing my instructor was only interested in the tall blonde, I gave up on that.  I did try again about ten years later, but it was an equal disaster.  At my bff's bachelorette party (maybe not the best conditions to learn to ski?), I fell off the lift so they had to stop it.  Then it took me four hours to get down to the lodge where I belonged in the first place.  In my defense, the girls I was with took me up way farther than they should have.  Either they had a lot of faith in me, or they were looking forward to a few good laughs. 

Since snow wasn't my area of expertise, I tried skiing at a local lake. I must say, this might have been more disasterous.  Imagine this:  Getting up on skis for first time...leaning too far forward...feet coming up to meet you...large, old, very solid wooden ski smacking you right between the eyes...falling down into water with such force your bathing suit becomes part of your internal organs.  Chalk that up to a negative.

So, tennis would be good.  I was gonna break this curse, by God! Nope. Not a chance.  Apparently the tennis courts are sacred to people who play tennis.  No one told us it was rude to laugh or that they expected us to know how to keep score.  And I really, really tried to hit my tennis ball on my court, but sometimes it went into someone else's court.  Like seven times.  It might have been okay, except those people had tennis outfits that matched their partner's AND THEIR SHOES! They also had multiple rackets in their very expensive bags. I'm thinking they might play a little better than I do.

My goal for this year is to take my (TJMaxx) tennis skirt and (KMart) racket and rock the courts.  I will settle, however, for not getting anymore emails detailing the obnoxious and unacceptable behavior of some players on the courts. True.  If nothing else, I'm gonna go represent all of us with our cheap rackets and non-matching clothes and unacceptable behavior.  Serena Williams is gonna be out of the game for a bit, so maybe this is my shot? I'll let you know how the tennis skirt pans out.

March 15, 2011


I seem to remember my mother telling me that my brother was my birthday present. It didn't matter I hadn't asked for him (that I recall anyway), or that he was born in March and my birthday is in August. Either way, he butted into my only-child life when I was 4 1/2.

We are typical, I guess, of most siblings. My friends and I dressed him up like a girl; we tossed him out of porch swings; I dropped him headfirst off picnic tables. He drove me nuts begging to hang out with me and my friends or blackmailing me for rides when I got a car. I professed to our parents multiple times that a 4 1/2 year age gap was just really shitty. For better or worse, though, he was my sibling and the only one at that.

Watching my own children grow reminds me of that bond siblings have.  I can clearly see in my mind's memory the day Girlo Two walked her younger brother into Pre-K when she was only in second grade.  Her cute little bob haircut, blue dress and cowboy boots holding tightly to his hand as he struggled to walk.  He looking up to her for all the inside track on how school worked.  I watch her protect him from the schoolyard bullies who don't see my witty, brilliant son, but focus on the braces on his legs.  I hear him asking her to read a story at night instead of mom because she "cuddles up to him better" than I do.  It reminds me of what I share with my own brother.

Don't get me wrong...there are times I'd like to kick the living shit outta him.  He can make me madder than anyone on this Earth, save one.  He doesn't listen to me.  He does stupid stuff. He pushes my buttons intentionally to piss me off.  He doesn't apologize for doing stupid stuff.  When all is said and done, I'd still give him the beating heart from my chest.

As I write (type?) this, he is sitting on the other side of the world in the middle of the chaos in Japan.   As I sat earlier today reading a message from him after the latest aftershock (for the record, 6.1 is a damn earthquake ~ not an aftershock, geological people), I broke. The only person on Earth with whom I share this bond is in the middle of a disaster, and I can do nothing. I cried like I haven't cried in many years.  I never cried when he was in Iraq; I was prepared for anything and everything then. Now I wait impatiently for every message, and I am prepared for nothing. 

My parents never told me to look out for him, but I always have.  We are the only two people alive who know what it's like to be the children of our parents (and they are amazing ones to share).  I can't look out for him now.  I pray my prayers and hope, but that is all I can do.  And, really, that just sucks. I need him home so I can make him haul my crap around in his truck, and I need him home so he can cheer on Girlo Two at her soccer games, and I need him home so I can pick on him and tell him what to do.  I need him home so I know he's safe, and I need him home so I can cherish every single moment. Until then, Bratsy....
Blurry photo, but it's us.  Pacific Ocean 2003

March 13, 2011

Why The Internet Makes Me Feel Small

When the husband and I started dating, I thought he was a real weirdo because, among other things, he kept talking about his online friends.  At first I thought they might just be some imaginary friends, but in time I found out they were indeed real. It was just a super strange concept to me that these people had never met in reality but knew each other so well.

My friends are basically the same fools I've known since I was a babe.  I remember my mom telling me we'd split up and go our separate ways, but we've pretty much stuck together, albeit rather loosely at times.  I always assumed people you meet on the internet were those people you don't take candy from and you sure as hell don't share details with them. I don't know their parents, where they lived, who was their 5th grade boyfriend, and who they went to prom with.  How can you be friends without that important information, I beg?

The internet just seems so, well, big.  Like big in that "Holy SHIT! I'm lost!!" kinda way.  Lately I've been stepping outside of my imaginary internet box and reading blogs to see what else is out there.  I've found sooo much that makes me smile. Of course, I've also found these amazing home blogs that make me hate my house and want to move, but that's another story.  Sometimes, though, I feel like I need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find my way back home.  You end up on some page selling color-coordinated bread ties and go whuuuttt?  How did I get here?

I get why my better half is so tight with his online guy friends:  They have things in common, and it's stuff I don't wanna do so it's a win-win.  It's the same reason he has no problem with my "meetings" that are really girls' night.  What I'm starting to get is that there are other people out there who share my slant on life or have a snarky sense of humor.  In a way that's what makes it so strange.  There's this huge, colossal, gigantor world of connectivity out there, and I'm this little, tiny speck within it.  Yet, somehow, you find other people you connect and can be friends with despite not knowing who they lost their virginity to. Amazing, I tell ya, amazing. 

P.S.  The husband turned out to be the normal one, and I realized I'm the weirdo in our relationship.  Also, I'd love for you to leave any comments you'd like and to follow my blog.  It would make me feel less small.  :)

March 12, 2011

Rant, Rant, Rant, Rant

Beware, I'm gonna get on my soapbox here. What? Oh, I never got off it? I forget that sometimes, but you're probably right.  When I started this, my goal was to stay away from anything related specifically to education. Not because I don't have a million opinions about it, but because this is supposed to be NOT that. Well, mama tried. I'll try to keep it brief. Try.

Here's my bitch:  No Child Left Behind wants all kids to be 100% proficient in reading and math, which is a great goal. Tennessee students have to pass the ACT's College and Readiness Test to graduate.  Reality, however, is far from that.  I know there are people who will suggest I be burned at the stake (and it's not just my husband's ex-girlfriends!) or at the very least fired because I don't "believe in the children" or some crap like that.  Truth is, I believe in them 100%.  I believe they can be what they want AND what they are capable of being.

What I want someone who votes these great idealistic dreams into law to realize is that some of the kids I teach aren't college material or have no desire to go to college. They are great kids, but they don't want to be a mathematical genius sitting in a white room solving equations or the CEO of some gigantic company. They want to install the heating and air unit in your home and coach their kid's Little League team.  I know the kids need to know how to read, write, and do math. That's truth. What the hell does that have to do with making every single kid a college student? Is it so wrong, so disgraceful to be *gasp* a graduate of a trade school or something other than four-year college? Think the garbageman is a lowly, disgraceful job?  Imagine if he stopped coming.  

Now, my dad is a pretty wise and common sense kinda guy, but he was raised by damn near the wisest (not in a mafia kind of way) man I've ever known: his dad.  Big Artie was born and raised in New York and was a teenager during the Great Depression.  He told my dad he could be whatever he wanted to be, a rocket scientist even!  But, and that's a big but, you couldn't plan on what the economy would be so you had to plan for a back-up career. No matter what happened, according to him, people would always need plumbers, electricians, and mechanics.  Amazing the foresight, huh?
My thought is this:  There is nothing wrong with being just the electician or HVAC guy/gal. The point is to be the best whatever it is you want to be. Be honest. Have a moral/ethical compass.  Show up on time and don't cheat people.  Do the job right ~ the first time. If you give your word, follow through.  Just be the best damn whatever it is, no matter how seemingly unimportant. That would be a good start. 

March 10, 2011

The Gloved One

My mother told me when I was a young child how she remembered exactly where she was when President Kennedy was killed.  Later, I would have the memories of where I was and what I was doing when Challenger exploded or of 9-11.  There is one more, though:  The day MJ died.

I was walking down the sidewalk after some shopping when I got a text from my old school bff.  We grew up on MJ, rockin to some Thriller back in the day.  We had satin (Really? My parents bought that?) wall tapestries of him and all his albums. Seriously, they were albums. Her text said the Gloved One was gone. Our MJ had bitten the big one.

It's not like we hadn't buried some beloved rock star before. Hello? Kurt Cobain, anyone? A little bit of that chapter of your life closes when you learn of a famous person's death with whom you associate parts of your life. But MJ was different.  He was the first big star that was ours.

You may be thinking, "Yeah, yeah, we all had the album. So what?" Ah, yes, but I got to see him. The Gloved One, in action, in Knoxville. I wasn't supposed to go, but I found out my best friends, who are sisters, had tickets. AND THERE WAS AN EXTRA!! I ran home, told my dad we were invited (we weren't, but how could they turn me down if I'd already made plans?), and then told the older sister I was going. Now, I knew she was becoming a little tighter with another girl, but I never thought she'd cheat on me like that. She was pissed and raised hell, but I prevailed in the end. Their dad liked my dad, so he wanted to take me so my dad would be there for him. I get that now that I'm a parent.

I don't remember much about that night because I was obsessed with the teenage girl with the silver glove, flourescent shirt, and god-awful hair who was fist-pumping (yes, before Jersey Shore) through the entire show.  Plus, it was nosebleed at Neyland Stadium, so MJ looked like a speck and I was blinded by all sorts of pyrotechnic crap and lights. 

When we got back to the van, that would be the navy blue travel van with the captain's chairs and and cool table you could set your drink in, their van had been broken into and all the stuff we'd so cleverly left in the van was scattered around the parking lot.  This was my first experience with karma.  In return for my inviting myself, the concert gods punished me.  My very lovely pleated white pleather purse had carelessly been tossed into the bushes.  I was beyond distraught till I realize thugs don't need Hello Kitty pencils, so all my worldly possessions were intact. It was a little smudged, though, which kinda ruined it for me.

I know in the end he went all nutso, crazy weird. And when kids talk about how cool he is and start trying to dance like him, I get a little sick because he was a little cuckoo-cachoo, and, if he were still alive and could see them, he'd probably be checking them out. But, DAMN, in 1984 he was the stuff.
Not quite the same as remembering Kennedy, but who the hell else could rock one sequined glove AND sequined socks? Only the King of Pop.

March 8, 2011

My Husband Is Considering Legal Action Against Me

Seriously. He told me so the other night. His exact words were, "I'm filing suit for false bill of goods. You sold me on a false bill of goods, woman."  I asked him to provide proper evidence of his allegations. I watch a lot of Law & Order, and I wanted to be an attorney when I was 10, so I know how this business of law works.

His first piece of evidence was my clothing choice. Apparently my slouchy sweatpants (Go Devils!) and his holey sweatshirt from the police academy isn't considered sexy. Who knew?!  He recounted to me the clothes I wore when we first dated...cute skirts, frilly shirts, etc. I muttered a moment and then admitted he might have a point on this one.   

Next followed how I had quit cooking somewhere around year two of marriage. Or maybe year one...I've lost track.  I was quite the cook when we were dating and first married.  Dinners were made with care and took into consideration everyone's preferences.  Girlo Two (the eldest child) set the table sometimes, we all ate together, and sometimes got yogurt afterwards.  I defended myself heartily on this one.  I still give the same thoughtful consideration to our meals: Which drive-thru will it be?  Everyone still gets to choose what they prefer, and they usually put a treat in the kids' meals. Same outcome with a slightly different approach, but I might give a little credit for that as I can see how McDonald's dollar menu doesn't have quite the same appeal as homemade chicken and dumplins.

At this point, he's on a roll and having a great time raking me over the coals. The final hurrah, the kiss of death, was "You've lost that lovin' feelin'."  Really, Maverick? Where are your back-up singers, for the love of God?! Cause this is where I really just have to stop this hot mess.

I adore my husband. He really is my favorite, and I can say that because I've had two.  I remember fondly the butterflies in my stomach if he was coming to dinner. I remember spending hours picking out my outfit on our first date. I remember thinking this boy better marry me because I'm going to stalk him if he doesn't.  Somehow all that changes when you share the same house.  Sometimes he's just one more pair of underwear on the floor or the person leaving a dirty spoon on my countertop. Sometimes he's flat-out taking up my air.  That's the reality of what being married sometimes is.

So, I'm filing a countersuit for the same reason.  He convinced me to marry him on false grounds.  He turned out to be way more stellar than I could ever imagine. He is dirty laundry, but he also the one cleaning the kitchen. He steps up and raises our kids without question. He makes it okay for me to be me, and that's a pretty hard job. Others have failed, trust me.  I'm expecting you'll see us on Judge Judy just about any day now. 

March 5, 2011

Dear Mr. Cool Car

Dear Mr. TN License Plate 397-GRG,

I know you probably won't believe this, but you and I have a lot in common. I, too, love the thrill of flying down the road. It's the feel of the car as it smoothly corners round the curve, the wind flowing through my hair, the stereo pumping Van Halen's "Panama" (shout out to Todd M.!)....these are things I know we could agree on if we were to meet.

You should also probably know that I like to call the police. No, make that LOVE to call the police. I've curbed that urge a little since my husband told me the dispatchers in the three main counties I regularly call to probably have my phone number posted and throw darts at it.  I believe it is my duty to assist the local law enforcement since they are strapped for personnel.  So far, I've resisted the strong and almost overwhelming need to call about you.

See, that black Ford Mustang you've got is okay, I'll admit. You've dressed it up a little, what with the hood scoop and all. Granted, it is the newer body style, so that's good for ya.  I can't see through your (illegally) tinted windows, but I bet you have the racing speedometer and other gadgets that conjure up dreams of Jeff Gordon back in the day.  You may also be hoarding a dead body or having sex while your driving past me, but those windows hide your true identity.

Let's talk about your morning drive, okay? You normally ride up on my ass right past the Interstate at about 7:23.  Once you realize I have Fraternal Order of Police tags (cause I married the po-po), you slack off for a minute. Ah, yes, but then you remember who you are:  Bad ass mustang man!  Then you pass me at about roughly 80 miles an hour. Even this is only slightly annoying.  What sticks in my craw is you pass me on double yellow lines, pass me when other cars are coming, and generally endanger my life on a daily basis. You are a prick, generally, when it comes to driving.

I know those parachute pants your wearing are probably a little snug, and your Members Only jacket makes you feel the need, the need for speed. You may not be seeing those oncoming cars through your aviator sunglasses and (illegally) tinted windows, but trust me, they are there.

So, I send this to you so that you may have a little warning...I now have the direct numbers of the three counties we drive through on our morning bonding time. That means no pause to explain to 911 what my emergency is.  It will just be me and the police dispatcher discussing how they can catch you.  It will be me telling them the exact mile-marker we just passed. I thought about wishing you would wrap that jacked-up discount model around a guardrail, but I figured it'd be better for you to have several hundred dollars worth of tickets and multiple points on your license.  That'd be so much better.

Thanks so much for slowing down for the sweet soccer mom in her SUV...and, if not, I'll wave as I pass by when the police pull your punk-ass over.

Soccer Mom (and general Bitch)

March 2, 2011

The Mix Tape

I took part in a very, very serious and lengthy meeting last night. It was of utmost importance, so naturally it involved tortilla chips and margaritas. After plotting, planning, and disecting the upcoming elementary school talent show (the utmost importance part of the meeting), the conversation took on a life of its own, as those things are wont to do after margaritas.  One of the girls mentioned her husband's car had a tape deck in it, and she had raided her closet for her old mix tapes. My car has one as well, so this morning I raided mine for the drive to work.

The mix tape is sooo much more than today's iPod playlists or even the mix CD.  The mix tape was lovingly put together after much consideration.  I remember sitting in front of the stereo with its double tape decks pouring over each and every song choice. Reading the lyrics, which hopefully were printed inside, and analyzing them to make sure they fit.  Putting the songs in a certain order to tell a story.  Drawing cute little pictures on the inside with messages ~ some cryptic, others simple.

There was the love tape, which went to my high school boyfriend.  It had "our" song, but then others that artfully spoke the words I could not. Looking back, I realize I was more Edie Brickell, and he was more Metallica, but whatever.  If the love tape didn't work out too hot, there was the break-up tape.  This, too, had "our" song, possibly several times, but it was a whole tape whose sole purpose was to make me cry endlessly and contemplate the demise of our relationship which obviously was meant to end in marriage, two kids, and a cool house.  There was the best friend tape, which had the important memory songs on it.  The songs we listened to when we rolled a house, rode around and drank beer (maybe underage, but I'll never tell), traveled to football games, or just hung out and debated life.  Whatever the need, mix tapes met it.

Music is a funny thing in that it always takes me back to a very specific moment in my life.  Anytime I hear the Doors or Cream, I think of my father because he gave me these albums when I got my first stereo. Granted, second grade might have been a little young to "get" Jim Morrison, but I gave it my best shot.  High school was an olio of musical tastes:  Red Hot Chili Peppers (saw them with the boyfriend), Jane's Addiction, and the like.  But I also (secretly) listened to Willie Nelson, Dr. John, and Reba.  Since then it's been wherever the journey takes me.

The mix tape will always be my youth.  Somehow clicking on a song and adding it to a playlist doesn't have the same appeal as sitting in front of that stereo pouring my heart and soul into that magnetic diary of my thoughts and dreams.  So, after the kids are out of the car, I will blast some Pixies and Flipper on the ride to work and pretend I'm young and carefree...for at least 30 minutes.