Today I was driving between schools and listening to an interview with Sarah Silverman on NPR. Sarah told the story of being a chronic bed wetter as a child. It was a secret she didn’t want to get out, so at sleepovers she never slept, instead she’d spend the night pinching herself to stay awake.
On one memorable occasion a group of girls was invited to an impromptu slumber party. Sarah recalled she had to borrow pajamas and a sleeping bag from the hostess, as did the rest of the attendees. For some reason that night Sarah slept deeply and awoke the next morning to a sopping wet sleeping bag and drenched pjs. She quickly changed out of her pjs and left them beside the sleeping bag and went on as if nothing had happened. Then the Mom came in, took a look at the wet things and roared, “Who would do something like this?” Just as Sarah was about to raise her hand and take the blame her friend’s dad came running into the room.
“Elvis just died!” he exclaimed, thus saving little Sarah from major embarrassment and perhaps social death as everyone forgot about the wet bedclothes in their grief over the King’s untimely demise.
Sarah’s story reminded me of a time between my fourth and fifth grade years. A friend, “JB,” had invited me to Baptist church camp located about 25 miles from Floydada in the Texas panhandle. It was a sleepover camp and most of the girls had attended before. I, however, was totally unprepared.
Mom wasn’t sure what to pack for me. We had to have several dresses for daily services along with suitable pants (no shorts!) for hiking in the canyon. I must have grown taller that summer because all of my dresses bordered on being too short. I was just becoming aware of the differences in the “haves” and “have nots.” And, while most of the girls at camp were from the former category, including JB, I was firmly ensconced in the latter.
Judging from the looks I got from adults during morning services I was not dressed appropriately for camp. Someone must have mentioned this to my friend’s mom because she brought out two dresses that she’d made just for me the next day. They sort of fit me, if gunny sack was a fit, but most importantly they were suitably LONG. I remember trying them on for JB’s mom in the dormitory while the other girls were at crafts.
“Well,” she said. “You’re never going to be a beauty, but at least you can be modest.”
I looked up the word “modest” when I got home from camp:
1. Unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements.
2. (Of an amount, rate, or level of something) relatively moderate, limited, or small.
Talk about a blow to one’s blossoming self-esteem! I’d already pretty well determined that my beauty was going to be more of the inner rather than the outer kind, but she also wanted me to be limited or small. Screw that!
I wish I’d had the guts then to tell her thanks, but no thanks for the dresses. I wish I’d worn my too short skirts and basked in my immodesty. Instead I kept my mouth closed and suffered the giggles of the other campers for the remainder of camp.
Elvis, I’m glad you didn’t die that day, but a distraction would have been nice.
Peace, People (and, thank you, thank you very much)!
“Wag More, Bark Less.” If we all could just follow this simple thought life would be immeasurably better. Yet, barking tends to get all the attention.
Sometimes we bark without even realizing it. The cost of gasoline goes up. Woof! The weather doesn’t suit us. Woof! Woof! Someone says something that offends us. Woof! Woof! Woof!
How different our lives might be if we wagged instead. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the things that make us want to bark, but that we need to take a breath first and ask, “Will barking make it better?”
I admit it, I’m a barker, but I am making a concerted effort to be more of a wagger. My top barking topics:
1) Bad drivers in general and people who text while driving in particular. My Studly who is by nature a wagger counsels me to just take care of my driving and be extra aware to reduce the impact these drivers have on my life. Okay. I can do that.
2) Politics. Again, Studly the Wagger says just stay informed, vote your conscience, and trust in the system. “Barking,” he says, “won’t change anyone’s opinion.” A little woof, but I can try.
3) Religion. Studly recommends avoiding the topic altogether. Alrighty then. Like political ideology, I suspect that religious beliefs won’t be changed by any amount of barking, no matter how vociferously one woofs.
Just typing this I realize how hard it will be not to bark. My brain kept wanting my fingers to type, “but what about….”
I think I have to remember that there lies a big difference between barking and taking action. Taking action can be done with a wag.
Wag more, bark less, wag more, bark less. A new mantra? I think so.
Playing with words:
A rudderless horse
A riderless ship
A butterbug and a ladyfly
Two conepines and a pinlinch
A bump that goes “thing” in the night
Beaver eagers and fly soxes.
As for Jomeo and Ruliette
A nose by any other name would still smell.
Summer storms in Tallahassee are an everyday occurrence. At 2:00 p.m. the sun can be shining without a cloud in the sky, and then bam! 2:15 brings a mighty wind, torrential rains, and zero visibility. At 2:30, all is forgiven, the sun shines again, and one wonders why an umbrella was even necessary.
One day last week I was caught in one of these storms. I had the top down on the 350Z and was cruising along without a care in the world. Then all hell broke lose. One flash of lightning followed almost instantly by a BOOM and down came the rain. As soon as I could safely do so I pulled over and put the top up, but I was soaked. I sat in Trader Joe’s parking lot and got a case of the giggles. Then I went in Trader Joe’s and got a case of beer. Pretty good trade off.
I live about 12 miles from Trader Joe’s via Interstate 10, in a subdivision dubbed Lake Yvette West. There is but one road into the subdivision, and when I got to my turnoff, it was blocked. A huge limb from a big ol’ tree had broken off as a result of the strong winds generated by the storm and was laying across most of the road. A gentleman from Talquin Electric arrived about the same time I did and began assessing damage to the power lines.
Of course while I waited for him to give me a go ahead signal my imagination ran wild. What if the road was closed indefinitely? Could I reach my home via Lake Yvette East? Would some kind person over there lend me a boat so I could row across and tend to my cats? Maybe Studly and I could build a houseboat and live on the lake. Maybe Han Solo would swoop down in the Millennium Falcon and take me to Coruscant….
But then, I got the all clear. Darn! Just when it was getting good.
Yesterday I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. This wasn’t my home mirror that recognizes and accepts my every move and curve. No, this was a mall mirror just hanging around gawking at passerby. Unlike my home mirror, this mirror judged me: A square bodied, middle aged woman with absolutely no fashion sense. I cringed inwardly and outwardly. What happened to the girl who was once too skinny? What happened to the woman who once dressed in size 10 clothes? What happened to the “while never pretty, not terrible looking” person I used to be?
As I contemplated my missing self over a McAlister’s veggie baked potato smothered in cheddar cheese, a slender, stylishly dressed young mom in her mid-20’s and her adorable daughter sat down at the table next to mine in the mall food court. Being the lonely broad that I am I started a conversation with the little girl. She was three she told me, not in words but by carefully arranging the appropriate number of fingers and holding them up.
Her mom was so proud of her. She told me how smart her little Daneisha was and the little girl demonstrated by singing the alphabet and counting to 20. I was suitably impressed. I told the mom how much I liked her look and about my confrontation with the mall mirror. She said, “But you are a beautiful woman! Look how much Daneisha likes you and she doesn’t like strangers!”
I’m embarrassed to say I got tears in my eyes. The tears are here now as I type this. We aren’t a size. We aren’t a shape. We aren’t a style. We are souls. Mirrors have no business telling us otherwise.
My husband, Studly Doright, is a Golfer. He lives, eats, and breathes the game, and over the years he’s become rather good at it. He’s self-taught, with a homemade swing that looks a bit awkward, but is certainly effective.
Studly didn’t begin playing until his mid-thirties when our son indicated an interest in learning to play; although, my dad tried to get him involved back when we first married. Studly thought then that golf was an old man’s game and couldn’t believe anyone under the age of 60 would take a serious interest in smacking a little white ball around for three hours on a Saturday morning. My how times have changed!
Every week for the past 20 plus years, weather permitting, Studly has played golf on Saturday and Sunday mornings and at least one evening during the week. His first three years of golf were played in North Dakota, so the golf season wasn’t very long. But Studly was the first one on the course in the frigid spring and the last one off the links in the freezing fall. Our North Dakota neighbors decided that “Tex” was crazy. I didn’t try to dissuade them.
The man is a pretty natural athlete, but golf didn’t come easy for Studly at first. He could hit the ball a figurative mile, but there was absolutely no telling where it would end up. He called it military golf (left, right, left) as we walked a million miles in search of wayward Titleists.
Now, I’m not a golfer. Daddy tried to teach me, then Studly did his best, but the consensus was that some people just are too uncoordinated to even pull a club out of the bag, let alone try to swing one. Even so, I’m a fan of the game and an even bigger fan of my own favorite golfer. Imagine my pride when he told me he’s basically got a 2 handicap. That’s darn good for someone who only began playing in his mid-30’s.
Where at one point in our marriage I detested the number of hours he spent on the links, I’m now encouraging him to play even more. It’s raining? I don’t want to hear it. Get out there, man and hit that ball. You say it’s too cold? Wear more layers! Put on heated gloves! Too windy? Suck it up, buttercup! I’m signing him up for the senior tour next year, and he won’t make it with a 2 handicap. No more slacking!
I remember when I first wanted to be a writer. I was a second grader in Mrs. Gregory’s class at R.C. Andrews Elementary in Floydada, Texas. The class was assigned the task of writing a story based on a series of pictures. Those pictures remain imprinted on my mind:
Frame 1: a little blonde girl stands on her porch looking at a kitten
Frame 2: the little girl gives the kitten a bowl of milk
Frame 3: more kittens come to the porch
Frame 4: the little girl gets more milk
Frame 5: more kittens are on the porch
Frame 6: the girl’s hands are in the air and she looks distressed
Mom saved the story and every so often I find it tucked away in the pages of an old scrapbook. I must have just become familiar with the idea of using a period because they are everywhere, especially where they don’t belong. After a brief battle with autocorrect I’ve successfully copied the story below. Note the spelling of “hungry” and the use of the word “fixing.” For your reading pleasure:
“Kathy and the Cats”
One day when Kathy was going for a walk. to look for her lost kitten Frisky. She had just walked out the door when she spotted her kitten. Then she said I bet Frisky is hungery. So she brought him out some milk to drink. She was just fixing to go in when. She heard something. When she turned around she saw more kittens. So she got more milk. And fed them. Then more and more kittens came. Then finally she threw up her arms and said I have more kittens than milk.
Mrs. Gregory, who really did not like me very much, had written “S+ Very-very good” in red ink across the bottom of my paper. Mom said, “You did such a good job! Maybe you will be the writer in our family.”
Now, for all I know, Mrs. Gregory might have written the same praise on every student’s paper, but at that moment I decided I was going to be a writer. I just had no idea what that meant. And, I had no idea how to find an audience once I was out in the world. Thanks to the advent of web logs (a.k.a. blogs) we can all have an audience.
So, I credit Mom and Mrs. Gregory for putting this writing idea in my head. And I thank you for being my audience.
Finding an episode of Criminal Minds that you’ve not seen before
Having fresh guacamole made to your taste right at your table
Opening up a fresh loaf of soft bread
Discovering a new author whose books speak to your soul
Listening to a song that lifts your spirits
Identifying with a character in a novel
Having that aha! moment when working on a project
Completing a less than fun task in a fun way (you should see my toilet cleaning technique)
Singing in the shower and sounding like a pop star
Clicking through the channels and finding “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” already in progress
Getting an old-fashioned letter in the mail
Snuggling with a kitten
Kayaking with my Studly on the lake behind our home
Getting surprise calls from my youngest and oldest grandchildren on the same day (thank you D and Ninibelle)
Having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the patio with a good friend
Finding peace within myself if only for a moment
Having a good dream about loved ones I’ve lost (Mom, thanks for your “visit” last night)
Hearing the words, “I love you, Nana!”
What are your little things?