Friday, November 25, 2011

Saying Goodbye

It's been five days.

I've been trying to write this for five days. Today I am actually putting words onto a screen.

My grandfather had been sick for a while. Two major heart attacks. Diabetes. Other problems, none fun. He was tired. He was ready. We were not. So he held on, mostly for Nana, I think, but also for us. For his daughters. He worried...he tried to prepare them, they tried to prepare us. It wasn't a shock.

The shock is how much it still hurts.

We were all welcome to speak at the service, encouraged even. My children wrote letters to him - unprompted by me - and asked if they could put them in with Grandad when he was laid to rest. They read short versions of them at the service. My aunts and cousins and uncle and a family friend spoke eloquently, sharing memories and stories.

I did not. I could not.

He had nicknames for most of us. Mine is Fawn-do. Fondue. I cannot remember a time when he called me anything else, unless it was "hun."

I wish I'd followed him around with a tape recorder...journaling his stories, his laugh, his advice. What I wouldn't give to hear any and all of that tonight.

What I remember most was his laugh and his voice. How anything he said when I was a child was law. He didn't demand respect - he didn't have to. His authority was absolute and I knew no fear of him. The only thing I ever feared was disappointing him. He loved us tremendously. His family was everything to him. I loved hearing him talk to hear them playfully (mostly) bicker back and forth.

I remember spending the night with them, and he always had dinner in his chair when I was young - and he always had salt. I remember the salt. We both ate lots of it. He watched "wrasslin" on TV - I always wondered if he knew it was all fake but I know now that he did. Of course he did. Nothing got past that man. Absolutely nothing.

I went to see him just about a year ago. He was in the hospital for something routine, and he was in Little Rock, so the rest of the family had gone back home. I wanted to see him before going home from work. I got something that night that I hadn't had in many years - his undivided attention. We sat there and talked for a good hour, and after asking after the kids and me, we talked about Nana...the things he was worried about. He laughed and told me she was eating too many cookies and drinking too much soda. He was worried about her. I hugged and kissed him before I left, as I always did, and we said we loved each other.

At 5:00 a.m. the next morning, I got a call. His heart had stopped. He'd been shocked five times and he was back, but probably not for long. We were brought in to say our goodbyes.

Against all odds, he survived it. Along with an unplanned swim in the lake a few months later when the roads were covered in ice.

He loved my grandmother almost his whole life. 65 years. He took a vow to take care of her until he drew his last breath, and that is just what he did. He worked hard, he raised three amazing daughters, and he weathered the storms of the past decade with grace and honor, always. He is, without any question or competition, the best man I have ever known. I miss him more than I'd have even imagined possible.

I love you, Grandad.

Be careful going home.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friendship: Proceed with Caution

People who call me a friend generally appreciate my lack of a filter. I am sure there are people who call me an acquaintance who do not share that appreciation. However, being friends with me brings with it loytalty and a fierce - when necessary - level of protection. If I feel like a friend is being treated badly, or manipulated, or hurt - I am without the will to keep my mouth shut. This is both a curse and a blessing.

Lately, it has ended up being strictly a curse and has cost me some friendships.

To be quite honest, it cost me my most important friendship. But I am not ready to talk about that yet....the pain is still very raw.

However, I will talk about THIS. THIS OTHER THING.

So Friday night I unexpectedly found myself without kids - I was supposed to have one but things changed at the eleventh hour. I called up one of my girls and we went out to sing some karaoke at our favorite dive.

The night went as it usually does with us, with the usual parade of folks. I sang a few songs, we talked at length about this couple we always see there (look how happy he is now that he has a girlfriend! he's in a nice shirt! and he bought some of that spray hair!)(if he can find love, why can't we?)

The usual.

So I notice a woman at the bar that I haven't really officially met but whom I know is dating a friend of mine. Their relationship is, according to his Facebook page, SOLID. They seem happy, and are very much in love. They did go through a rough breakup several months ago, but from what I could glean from our conversations, it was because he screwed up and he eventually won her back, after MUCH MUCH mooning and whining and generally becoming one of those people whose statuses I need to block lest I lash out at them.

But now? Happy.

I saw a man come in, someone I also know. I hadn't actually seen him in a few years, and I was going to go up and say hello but...let's just say he was pre-occupied.

With my friend's girl.

Now...I try not to judge people. I know this isn't any of my business. I KNOW. So I tried not to pay them any attention. I did mention it to the friend I'd brought with me, since she also knows this guy we were both watching them. I debated getting involved. I hate the dramz. You guys KNOW i HATE THE DRAMZ. But when I got ready to leave, it had been over an hour and he still hadn't come up for air long enough for me to even say hello to him.

So I did the bad thing.

I texted my friend. I didn't give a lot of details. I just told him his girl was at a bar with someone I knew and I would want to know it if it were my S.O. canoodling in a public place.

I'm not going to get into the details about what has happened since. Let's just say I got a not-very-nice message from her, which I responded to not with an apology, which is what I think she mistakenly thought she deserved, but with conviction that my vision is indeed working QUITE WELL and that I stood by what I said.


So at the end of the day, the dude hasn't said anything else to me. And I probably should have just kept my mouth shut. God knows, I've been the victim of salacious gossip. OH, haven't I? But this wasn't gossip. I actually witnessed this with my eyes and I was appalled.
What he chose to do with the information at hand isn't for me to say but...should I have kept it to myself? I don't know. I'm learning though that maybe my definition of friendship isn't the same as the people I hold dear, or even the ones I hold kind of at arm's length.

Now I put it to you, friends - would you have sent the text? Or kept the info to yourself?

If I'm wrong, I'll admit it. But I'm gonna need some backup.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Back to School...

We toured Brendan's new high school the other day.

We talked to various groups and debated about which ones Brendan might be interested in joining (none) and which ones his mother would be THRILLED to see him get into (golf, teen court, band) and which ones, in the name of future popularity, that he should probably pass over (chess club, FFA).

My high school student. Good Lord.

So...then we went into the gym...and oh my goodness. The smell of that gym brought back, in one instant, all the desperation and ecstasy and hope and PROMISE of high school. I remembered pep rallies and games and Prancer practices. The things that REALLY mattered back then. Cute boys. Mean girls. College applications. ACT scores. Prom.

It is hard for me to believe that my own kids are now living through those same experiences. And it made me wonder - have I prepared them? Have the lessons I have tried to teach, by being an example of what to do - and probably more often what NOT to do - been enough to keep them on the straight and narrow?

I was hardly an angel in high school, but comparatively speaking, I was a pretty good kid. I only had a couple of boyfriends. Never made it past first base until I was out of high school and engaged. Never snuck out, only drank once, and it was under my parent's...semi-supervision. Never tried drugs. And the biggest reason, I think, that I didn't do any of those things wasn't because I was afraid of my parents or of how it might affect my future. I probably could have found the popularity I so desperately wanted if I had gone to parties and screwed around with boys. But I didn't, and the reason I think is because I am such a control freak that I didn't want to let any substance, or urges driven by hormones, dictate my actions.

I realize that this makes me an oddball. I have come to terms with that.

The truth is, though, that none of us has it figured out, in spite of the fact that we all know people who seem to have done. We are all struggling, and growing, and learning as we go. We should forgive each other for that.

So as I send my kids off to high school, I will trust that I have taught them enough, and what I haven't taught yet, I am learning right along with them. We'll figure it out together.

With G'n'R, Metallica, and Def Leppard as our background music. Because that's one thing I have taught them. Good music.

OH. And great shoes. Because these are my kids we're talking about, after all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I can (almost) see the light...

Things have been a bit sticky as of late.

You know that Murphy’s Law stuff? I think there’s something to that. When it rains it pours, and all of that.

However, I detest people who use Facebook to cite their many woes and problems – particularly those that seem incapable of posting anything else. If your life truly does suck, then for the love of all things chocolate, make some changes. Do SOMETHING about it.

Then again, I guess I could just hide the posts of these folks from my stream, yes? Sigh…I’ve always been afraid I’m going to miss out on something good though. I’ve been like that since I was a kid. And patience? No. I am Miss Instant Gratification. These are just a couple of my flaws. Add them to the list.

So back to the subject at hand…I have recently changed jobs – and no, contrary to jokes from friends, it is not because my attempts at pole dancing were unsuccessful. The place where I was working is not operational for the next 9 months due to renovations. So after a month – a long, ramen-noodle filled month – I am finally back to work full-time, although it is temporary for now. This place is BY FAR the coolest place I have ever worked, and I am desperate to join them permanently. To that end, I am working hard, coming in early, leaving…well, leaving on time, but still. Also, dressing for the job I want, not the one I have. I tried to explain that concept to my kids and I think what Brendan took from that is that he should be dressing like someone who makes a lot of money by doing as little as humanly possible. Carson has started wearing his football jersey every day, and Jillian lives in her cheerleading uniform.

Somewhere, my lesson has gone awry.

A few more weeks of Ramen noodles and PB without the J sandwiches are in our short-term future, until I have recovered from the weeks without pay – and hey, feel free to contribute to the cause, if you want. I have no qualms about easing your conscience by allowing you to treat us to dinner.

Ooh you know what’s really cool though? This new place? Offers free counseling sessions for all employees – one of their many STELLAR benefits. Any other thoughts on how to shine?? So much so that when my temporary gig is up (I’m covering for a woman on maternity leave for 14ish weeks), they will be desperate to hire me on permanently?? I’m all ears.

And power suits.

(Also accepting all donations towards the purchase of this outfit. BECAUSE I NEED IT.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Playing to my...strengths...

So, this has been kind of a week.

In the span of 7 days, this happened.

The alternator - add it to the list!- went out on my car - on my way to pick my kid up for his already twice rescheduled orthodontist appointment. The alternator was fixed (Thanks, Bobby!!!) after some...drama...with an ex, and I rescheduled for the THIRD time for my kid..

Then, whilst doing some laundry, I noticed some smoke coming from the hallway. I'd just put my son's sneakers in the dryer and thought maybe the rubber had gotten hot or something, so I pulled them out and...yeah, the smoke was coming from behind the dryer.
I looked back there and saw that my vent hose was melted and that the wire was glowing red and smoking. Fun! And my favorite bra was RUINED...GRRRRRR. Unplugged all. Went several days without doing laundry until I could fix that. Which I did - all by myself. I was feeling very smug until...

I missed a day of work with excruciating back pain and - certain that I was passing kidney stones again - rushed to the doctor's office. Was given the standard tests and xrays and referred to a urologist.

And then, the cherry on top - I lost my job.

So now, urology adventures looming, I am also looking for my next vocation. Since I failed so miserably at pole dancing, I figure I should stick with what I know, which is accounting/customer service/bookkeeping/writing.

I have been giving some thought to a change in careers, though. At this point, school is not an option - I could get enough financial aid to pay for tuition, but not for the designer jeans and food and such that my teens require. But in keeping with the idea of trying something new, I decided to list out my strengths - areas where I excel - and see if they point me in a new direction that interests me.

1. Choosing the most expensive option. If you put in front of me fifteen of anything - shoes, earrings, apples - I will inevitably fall in love with the most ridiculously overpriced thing. It's a gift, really, but not one that I can see spinning into a career.

(These shoes cost a million dollars. But LOOK HOW GORGEOUS)(I know.)

2. Penmanship. This may seem like no small thing, but if you could see the writing of my ten-year-old self, you would know this is QUITE the accomplishment.

3. Line Dancing. I can still do the Achy Breaky Heart, the Watermelon Crawl, and even the Regulator. Bunny Hop? Electric Slide? Please. Child's play. However, I don't think demonstrating line dances going to put designer jeans on my kids' butts.

4. Driving Slowly in the Middle Lane. Because it's the safest, and if you don't like it, experience has told me that you can and will go around me. If you think I am bothered by your gesturing and slowing down long enough to share your thoughts, you are sadly mistaken.

5. Hanging Pictures Crookedly. I do not own a level, and no one walking through my house would dispute that. But because I want to put things up RIGHTNOW, they're just kind of thrown up there. I don't mind it but I am certain that it drives my level-using family members bonkers.

(Actual photo of something hanging in my dining room. Yes I fixed it after I took this. RELAX.)

6. Wearing Inappropriate Footwear. This is TRUE talent. If I am going to be called upon to walk along a cobblestone or brick-laden street, you can be sure that I am going to be found wearing my highest, slickest heels. And if it starts off at 70 degrees and drops to 30 below by noon - as it is wont to do in our fair state - I will be wearing sandals.

(NOT an actual photo of my feet - I would never wear shoes too small for me - TACKY!)

In looking at this list, I guess I should stick with what I know. Unless, of course, you want me to drive slowly to your place wearing overpriced heels and hang stuff up incorrectly, and then leave you a beautifully penned note. And if you do - I'm available for hire.

Please allow me to Bunny Hop my resume right over.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pole Dancing 1, Fawn 0

Some of you may recall that I have always said that I’d like to try a strip/pole dancing exercise class.

The keyword there is EXERCISE. In no way did I ever think that I would take a class like this and it would lead to a vocational change. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not, you know...for me.
I’m not even in a relationship right now. Still, I can’t deny that a small part of me hoped I’d learn a few moves that I could use if I ever do find myself in a relationship again.

A friend of mine saw a Groupon that allowed one to purchase a pole dancing exercise class and to bring a friend – a one shot deal, just to try it out...

Truly, we had no idea what to expect. We showed up Saturday morning, me in my yoga pants, she in her running shorts. We met the instructor, a bubbly, adorable black woman with a squeaky voice. She reminded me of Tootie, only with better hair and no braces. She said the other four classmates should arrive shortly and we’d get started.

There were two poles in front of the mirrored wall. Behind them she'd set up a yoga mat for each of us.

The class started off as many exercise classes do, with some stretching and warming-up. The moves may have been a bit more sensual than in other classes, but nothing crazy. I was keeping up, feeling good, ready to get moving already. So far so good.

Then things changed.

Tootie helpfully demonstrated for us which parts of our anatomy were our “honey” and our “money.” We had to say this out loud – “This is my honey, and this is my money. Put it in the BANK.” I won’t get into much detail here, but let’s just say I had more in my bank than most of the other girls in the class.

We proceeded to do some gyrating type moves on the mat, all the while talking about honey and money. This part wasn’t too bad. Just as I started to get the hang of it, it was time for the pole.

This is where it got ugly.

First we had to dance on the pole. Now, not to brag, but I think I’m a pretty good dancer. I can get out and shake it with the best of them. I may have been a little overly confident in my gyration skills because, let me tell you, there was nothing pretty about what happened next. Over and over I TRIED to make my body do what Tootie’s was doing. But rather than looking like a graceful wave, I looked like a snake trying to digest a rat.

Next, Tootie demonstrated a simple spin. Hook your right leg in front of the pole, grab the top with your right hand, left hand up in a “Y” formation, left foot up on toes. Bring the left hand down to the pole and allow your weight to spin you around.


We split into two groups of three, mine being me, my friend, and the tiniest ballerina you ever saw. She was grace personified, and cute as a bug.

My friend went first, and she did fine. She’s a little thing too, so she had no problem.

My turn. I gamely clomped up there like an elephant. I grabbed the pole, arm extended, and…

Like a pretzel at the bottom. You could hear the skin on my wrist SQUEEEEEK as I slid down, landing on top of my feet, which were tucked at unnatural angles beneath my bank.

The ballerina went next – and really she was a sweetheart so I can’t hate on her. She did it perfectly. She explained that she’d been taking classes twice a week for a month or so, but she looked like she had been doing it for years.

And so it went on. We’d practice, my friend did fine, I gallumped, the ballerina floated. Fine, SQUEAK, Float. Fine, SPLAT, Float. Over and over.

Eventually my body hurt so much that I gave up and watched from the sidelines. That was actually a lot more fun than participating. Everyone else seemed to get it, and I was fine with that.

I guess I can add pole dancing to the (long) list of things I’ll never be good at – like sports involving hand-eye coordination and snorkeling.

But hey, at least I can scratch this off my bucket list!

Anyone up for a kickboxing class?

Monday, January 31, 2011

In Defense of Arkansas

A grocery store in Arkansas recently came under fire when the manager placed a shield in front of the cover of Us Magazine featuring Elton John with his partner, David Furnish, and their new baby. After a shopper snapped a photo of the shielded magazine and sent it to several high-profile people via Twitter, outraged phone calls flooded the store, and the store manager removed the shield and issued an apology.

Now…I’ve been pretty open about my support of the gay community. I’m a Christian, yes, but I am also a reasonable human being, and I believe, deep down, in the rights of all people to live in peace and harmony. I just do. I am fine with gay marriage, gay parenting, gay adoption. I don’t see sexual orientation the same way I don’t see color. People are people. The heart wants what it wants. I believe that.

Like many people, I was horrified about the magazine shield. My issue…for what it’s worth….is the fact that because this happened in Arkansas, people seem to think it’s open season on our fair state.

Truth – there are more conservatives here than liberals. I am most assuredly in the minority. I tell myself that the people that I know who are conservative in these types of issues are acting out of ignorance. And that I have to love them anyway. I do love them anyway. Some of them I want to shake and plead of them to educate themselves before they make stupid remarks, particularly publicly. But still, I love them.

However, I do get very tired of defending our state to those outside of it who think there is nothing here but a conservative, narrow-minded, anti-gay mindset.

I am not embarrassed to be an Arkansan. I love it here. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But I do get weary of defending myself to friends –and non-friends – who think that we are backwoods, barefooted morons, incapable of evolving into an equal rights society. It just seems sometimes that the only people in Arkansas speaking up are those with a dated, archaic ideology about what is acceptable. They dislike the unfamiliar. They reject what makes them uncomfortable. They are ignorant.

But they will NOT be the mouthpiece for me.

And so, this is me speaking up. I encourage anyone who feels the same way to speak up as well. Please do not let the bigots and prejudiced masses of Arkansas be a true reflection of our populace. We have a voice. Let’s use it.

Arkansas is not the land of the unevolved.

Spread the word.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Catching up...and thanking an angel

My car is trying to die.

It started out smallish – the heat went out, right around the time it got cold. I love the irony, don’t you? Anyhow, a sweet angel of a man fixed it for me, temporarily at least, and I was on my merry way. Then, the day before Christmas, my battery decided it had had enough and IT TOO said goodbye, to the tune of a $108 replacement – not exactly in the Christmas budget. I thought of putting a red bow on it and trying to pass it off as a gift from Santa but I thought better of it. Plus I couldn’t get it out of the car. Bolts and stuff.

After that - and by after I mean two days later - my right headlight went out. JOY!

AND THEN, about a week and a half ago on my way to church, I realized it sounded like there was a squirrel family having a party in my undercarriage. (Wow. That sounds way dirty, eh?) (Hi, Mom!) But seriously - clanking, banging, and grinding - you cannot imagine the ruckus. It wasn’t so bad at first but after a day of driving I was convinced that I was going to have an axle break in half or have a tire fly off while barreling down the interstate, so I called the same sweet angel of a man who fixed my heat, and he came and gave it a test drive and a listen.

He thought it needed a new rear end and a new transmission. Now, I’m no mechanic (clearly) but I knew that stuff – it wasn’t cheap. I was at a loss as to how I would take care of it. He insisted on letting me drive his car and took mine home with him. A few days later, he brought it back, good as new. He says it was “just a hub bearing.” (GREEK) He even replaced the headlight for me.

I have no idea what I would have done without his help. Skeptics say angels don’t really exist, and real skeptics say that good people don’t exist, but they do. And I am fortunate enough to have one as a friend.

So thank you, my friend. This single mama is in your debt, big time.

As for the rest of the story, there really is none. I’m still taking it day by day, waiting for the next challenge or adventure. I’m thinking of starting an anonymous blog to chronicle my (mis)adventures in dating but I haven’t done so just yet. I can’t really do it here – protecting the innocent and all that. But if anyone has any suggestions, comments, etc. I welcome them with open ears.

Until next time…