Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Inbox

As I have been doing some serious electronic aerobics (that don't count as Weight Watchers activity points, darn it) these past few weeks, my original foray into the world of electronic communication - my AOL account - has rivaled my plants for the title of "most neglected." I thought...hey...I'll clean out my inbox and see if that qualifies as housework (since I've pretty much neglected that as well.) I mean, it's only been a few days, right?

OMG. I have eighty gazillion messages to sort through.

See, what I have done in my ignorance of how these things SHOULD work is put everything in one place. That "everything" includes Twitter responses, eBay, PayPal, Facebook, the blog, AND the junk e-mail that I used to actually find somewhat interesting because I wasn't tweeting, selling, and finding friends on Facebook.

At the time I signed up for all of this crap, I was actually able to handle things fairly well and just check my mail a couple of times a week.

I'm so over my e-mail account.

And, unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me remember what to do to undo all of the junk e-mail because I'd rather be doing anything else (except cleaning, cooking, or doing anything remotely domestic, that is).

Things that are probably interesting to someone are there like...$39 airfare to Seattle from Atlanta. (Like I care...thanks anyway, Delta.) Offers from KFC to try their "grilled" chicken. (Sorry, I haven't trusted you since you started being in denial that the "F" in your name originally stood for "fried.") Tips from Tide, Campbell's Soup, and Pledge. (Like I clean).

And then there's the hemmoroid of the At some weak moment, I actually signed up for this "mother" of all annoying websites so that I could earn points to try to get back over to Europe to see my sister. Thirty six quizzes and two hundred seventy clicks later...I have earned 85 points. It takes something like 2,500,000,000 points to actually earn a trip...and then it's probably a domestic flight. I need international.

After realizing that I would be spending about eight hours a day on this thing if I answered every request from the pit bulls at, I just eventually had to vote "no". I just decided that if I could ever get the unlikely trifecta of time off, decent exchange rate, and money to go...I'd just have to jump on it. I elected to just owe Capital One until 2048 instead. It would probably take me until that year to earn enough stupid points anyway...and in punting them, I would retain the added bonus of having what is commonly known as "a life."

I get monthly statements from American Airlines (although my frequent flyer miles expired and they find it necessary to report to me quite frequently that I have a zero balance), I'm on the e-mail list of every travel site known to man, and I get reminders from UPromise to do this or that every week.

I'd actually go onto the UPromise website and see if I can figure out how to get the $8 or whatever I've saved over the past ten years shopping at CVS to send to Jill, but I can't remember the password. I mean...I established the account in something like 1994. I can't remember what I did three days you can well imagine that something fifteen years ago is a total loss. I tried to use the clue - the dog's name - but I don't remember which dog that might have been: Hannah, Harley, Rebel, or Dixie...but because I guessed wrong at least twice, I now have to call their stupid customer service line to reset my user ID and password again. They'll give me a password that has letters and numbers so that it is "foolproof" for scammers. I miss the days of using "password" as the password. I'm from the generation where they put our social security numbers to post grades and remember a time when you didn't have to have a pair of scissors or a hacksaw to open a bottle of Tylenol. Whatever.

Am I alone in this?

Somewhere in the midst of all of this e-crap, I found two things that I didn't know about or remember and were somewhat important: an e-mail from my sister, Lara, and an e-mail from work that I forwarded home to post here at some point. The rest of it is like the Victoria's Secret catalogs that come into this house every day that are promptly delivered to the big green trash can outside along with the Pizza Hut coupons, offers for life insurance for $2.99 a month, an invitation to join the AARP and J.C. Penney ads.

Oh, and the fact that I have a self-directed IRA means that this is the season of the "annual report" as required by the various SEC (and I don't mean Southeastern Conference) regulations. Apparently I needed this reminder that I made no money for my retirement account last year. Plus, I get the added bonus of seeing the little weasels that made stupid decisions in the various companies in slick glossy color. Well, at least those organizations that our illustrious President hasn't taken it upon himself to oust the leadership of personally...yet.

The lone exception...which was primarily purchased to spite my father...was my stock in McDonald's. This is a blessing because - as a banker - I actually owned a fair amount of bank stock (did you catch the use of the past tense there....) My rebellion in purchasing MCD was rooted in frustration that we were banned from there during my childhood because the McDonald's organization gave money to Richard Nixon and the Republican Party during Watergate.

So what. I just wanted a hamburger. Viva McDonald's! (Do not get me started on the Viva Viagra commercials...or we could be here all night...) I correctly assumed that no matter how bad the economy was...people are still going to line up for their Big Macs and Happy Meals. We grow cellulite in the U.S. like nobody's business.

Even though the latter - the "Happy Meal" has been tainted with "healthy" alternatives for little children to eat. This does not make me happy. Why not just call it a "Healthy Meal" instead of a "Happy Meal" because it is impossible to be both. I mean, some people can fake it...but trust me...waive a Krispy Kreme around, and even the biggest health nut on earth will at least think about it. Apples and yogurt in a "Happy Meal." Puleeze. Kids need a certain amount of unhealthy food. Not much...but a little bit. I suppose it is a cruel twist of fate that the kids eat their little "Healthy Meals" masquerading as "Happy Meals" and then crawl all over the unsanitized "Playland" for hours and then put their hands in their mouths. Yeah.

But back to my piles (and I see a correlation here...) also include about sixty-five Visa and Mastercard offers that come into this house every day that have to be transported to work to be shredded. Ironically, the "shred container" at work is a big green trash can...with a padlock and a hole in the top. I guess that's pretty hysterical...can't you see THAT meeting?

BOSS: Does anyone have a good idea for a way that we could have the on-site storage remain protected but yet still be cost effective until we can pick it up and shred on-site?

UNDERLING: Well, we could put little shredders on everyone's trashcan...

BOSS: No! We want to charge something astronomical for the service. We need something that holds a lot of trash, is easy to transport, and something that people would actually view as a waste recepticle...I'm thinking...anyone...(Bueller?)

UNDERLING: We could use a big green trash can and put a slot in the top and secure it with a padlock...

BOSS: Brilliant!

Thank heavens for my job at a bank. Free shred service. I must put three hundred pounds of crap in there a month.

Oh...and as I do...don't I long for things to have relevance. I'd love to just log onto my e-mail account and find nothing but totally cool e-mails. OH but no...I'm tagged for "Beautiful Women's Month" - which apparently occurs non-stop and messages about how we are turning into a socialist nation. I get enough of that from Mark Levin on the drive home.

Guess that's why I love Facebook so much. Amid the quizzes, the comments about the weather and work frustrations, I see something of beautiful new babies born this week, the sweet faces of old friends that will always have a place in my heart, the hysterical ramblings of people who have to write or explode, and sometimes just a thumbs up or a comment that lets me know that someone actually took the time to look at something I've written or shared.

Yep, we all do need affirmation, don't we? I suppose I'd just like a little less of it from Victoria's Secret, Shoe Station, Visa, L.L. Bean,, Delta, Mastercard, Swifter, Ann Taylor, and American Express. They seem to be quite aware of my existence.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maiden Names

I have sincerely enjoyed being on Facebook the past couple of weeks and catching up with folks on a virtual level that I may be unable to visit with in person. With schedules, the demands of life, and the fact that we are all pretty slammed trying to fit in all that we want or have to do in a day anyway, getting out of touch just happens. In a couple of cases, it is due to the sheer impossibility of racking up enough frequent flyer miles to arrive on the doorstep...even with serious assistance from Capital One. So, as I've looked at the faces of those that I have known since childhood, attended Wesleyan College or Troy (State) University with, or worked beside daily...I realized that something is just TOTALLY unfair.

Maiden names.

I mean, I have been Karen Mixon for over half of my life, so I sometimes forget that I was once Karen Toner. My hair is lighter (thanks to Greg) and I'm just a little (an understatement) heavier than I was back then. Not to mention the other stuff that comes with the passage of time. Not that I am complaining about my gene grandmother lived to just shy of her 98th birthday. However, I do consider it a bit unfair that my sister, Linda, can have two kids in two years and still wear a size 2. She's mad because she's only 5'2". I'd gladly trade the three inches for the gazillion pound difference. I a few years, I'll be 5'2", anyway myself.

However, I am still able to type this without the benefit of glasses, although I really do see far better when I have them on. I also still have relatively good health, most of my mental capacity (that my kids didn't suck out of my brain via the two pregnancies), and I am still fairly flexible...which I find helpful because I no longer have any sense of balance whatsoever. But, hey, let's face it...I look like a Mom. And you know what? That's really okay with me.

See, growing up, I thought that a Mom drove a Country Squire station wagon with the wood paneling on the side, was the room mother/Brownie leader/carpool person, and used a pressure cooker. My mother drove a 1966 Mustang convertible, dressed like a model, and opened cans. While my kids are probably embarrassed that I'm "such a Mom"...I was a little bit embarrassed that my mother looked like anything but. That embarrassment later turned to awe. My mother is one of the most beautiful women I know. Always has been.

Some of the girls on Facebook went the same route as Mom and look better than they did in high school and college. I am quite envious...but trust me...I'm also giving you a high five for pulling it off. I'm sitting here in my stretch pants and wash and wear hair and my minimal jewelry. But you know what? I'm actually pretty happy!

I really do enjoy dressing my life sized Barbie - my daughter, Jill - and even get to shop in Victoria's Secret as long as she's with me. I used to think it was hilarious to go in without her and watch the sheer terror in the clerk's eyes when I asked for a thong in a size small. I'd let the girl squirm for a minute or two and then add..."for my daughter". Some things you just can't hide...that look of relief...was unmistakable.

What I realized in looking at some of the people online is that I am missing a link...and that link is their maiden name. I have always believed myself to have a good memory...but 25 years later...I'm a little rustier than I thought. So, if you don't have your maiden name on your profile...have mercy. And know that the reason I might not recognize you is not because you look worse...but because you probably look BETTER. That's a good thing, huh?

The guys have it easier...they just put their name on the profile and go with it. And truth be told...they all look great, too! I don't know if our particular classes in the early 80's have a Dorian Gray thing going on or what...but I think it rocks.

I have also found that the pictures help...and sometimes when I make the connection I feel like a total dork. However, I'm going to try to put more photos out there this that if you run into me in Target should you ever end up in Montgomery, AL or in Tuscaloosa at a University of Alabama football game or'll possibly recognize me.

The funny thing is...I don't know if there ARE any pictures of me.

I tend to be the one with the camera not the one in front of it. This is partly due to my scrapbooking insanity that started in early 1996. One day, when confined to a nursing home somewhere, I'll probably be shuffling down the hall mumbling "January 18, 1996" and noone will have a clue as to what it means. It was the date of my first scrapbooking party. So now you do. Very "Citizen Kane", don't you think?

ANYWAY, the scrapbooking mania has continued for the past 13 years...which constitutes a habit, I suppose. I have not been good about taking pictures this year because I am behind on my scrapbooking.

So, assuming that I can find any...I'll put more photos out there, and you help me out as well by doing the same. Granted, the pictures may be from 2006 (Europe trip)...but I promise to TRY.

And just so you know...even if we weren't best friends when we were living in the same dimension...the memories I have of you...whoever you are...are all happy ones. Thank you, Barbra Streisand. You may be a crazy left wing nut...but "The Way We Were" is spot on. Wonder if we did that one in Lee High Singers?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Today, I was e-mailing a friend, and I had one of those senior moments that I swear I'm too young for and about one of the most unlikely to occur to me - a misspelled word (gasp!). Now please do not think me arrogant...I was just born with this particular gift. Those of you who can clean a house, decorate, sew, make biscuits, or stay possess gifts that I do not have. So there. And just like when you occasionally burn a pan of biscuits, gain a pound, or leave gradu in the sink...I find temporarily being unable to grasp the spelling of a word somewhat disconcerting.

Anyway, the word in question was...(what was it?)...(hold on...calling C)...OH YEAH...irresistible. How hard is THAT? Um...not very.

However, in consulting the Yodas at Merriam-Webster...the coverless yellowed dictionary that I have carried through my working life since 1990...I came to the realization that just putting "IR" in front of something either changes it, or makes it the direct opposite of the word following it. For instance, the word irrelevant makes it...NOT relevant. Same with irregular.

And I was pondering all of the words that start with "ir" and noting how interesting it was to myself (for entertainment purposes since I am a word junkie),I came upon one of my least favorite words in the English language...irregardless. My distaste for this word is that it just seems to be one of those non-words that is also saying "two twins" or "yellow jaundice" or something.

My memory of the word is primarily due to its overuse by a former coworker of mine when I was a consumer loan collector. It was used so frequently that the hair stood up on the back of my neck...something that is normally just reserved for things like fingernails on a chalkboard, liver, and Peeps.

Now, if the thought of me as a loan collector shocks should also know that I was one of the best collectors in the department at the age 24. This is particularly notable because I also had the past due "unsecured loans" in my portfolio. So, I was trying to convince people that were probably not paying for things that were probably more their house, mobile home, cookware or car... that I needed to be paid too.

The only other female collector...I'll just call her Patsy (because that was her name)...would be on the phone with some poor soul who was unable to make his car payment and I'd hear..."Well, irregardless of the fact that you say you are making a partial payment is too late...we're picking up your car." She even used it on the lady who came in with a tube top and flip flops on with her two kids that looked like the "Lost Boys" in Peter Pan and about dang near as wild when she said..."Irregardless of the fact that you paid all of your payments, you still owe us for the force-placed insurance."

Irregardless...for those of you who are going "what is her deal?" supposed to be just simply - "regardless". We don't have to put the "ir" on it to make it relevant.

Yep, my days as a loan collector were fairly entertaining. Among my personal favorite people was one of our secretaries...who will remain nameless...who had some interesting things to say just about every day. Some of the more memorable included the fact that she referred to her feet as "fetuses" as in, "ooh girl, my fetuses are hurting from these cheap shoes." Or..."I have to go to the doctor to get some testes run." She wasn't kidding...and I just kept a straight face and walked away before I exploded in laughter...on a daily basis.

Part of my success as a collector had to be attributed to the fact that I just talked them to death. If I ever got one to the phone, I was just nice to them. In fact, over time, I even began to know the voices of the extended family members who would think that I was pitiful and would get their loved one to the phone...because I wasn't yelling. More than once, I'd be on the phone when I'd be alerted to the fact that someone had just brought me the keys to some sad little automobile with smoke billowing out of the back and a cracked windshield. This was to save them from having to pay the repo man fees since I somehow convinced them that a voluntary repossession was far better than the regular kind. Yep, I had more repos barking up the lot than any other collector...but it did save us the phone call to the repo man. At one point, we actually ran out of parking space in the deck in trying to accommodate what looked like a car lot operated by Mad Maxx or someone.

The majority of them...upon meeting me for the first time...would be totally shocked...not just by my appearance...but by the fact that my name was "Karen Mixon" instead of "Carolyn Nixon." This was usually discovered as they read the nameplate on my desk. The majority of them still called me "Mizz Nixon" - which suited me fine - as I figured if someone went off the deep end they would be unable to find me in the phone book and go postal in my driveway or something. Not that that stopped an attorney several years later via phone...but that's another story for another day.

Yes...Carolyn Nixon...Loan Collector. Good times.

I only did this particular job for a year, and found that it actually was quite interesting. I only was threatened verbally one time and cussed out fewer than five. All in all it was nothing like the show "Repo Man" which I suppose is primarily because I just picked up the phone and someone else picked up the car. Worked for me. Getting cussed out was even entertaining. Especially when they'd start talking about my that would cause me to get on the stump or something. I figured that if they actually had met my Mama...they'd realize what complete idiots they sounded like.

I was blessed to work with people that were also quite entertaining IRREGARDLESS (egad) of the fact that we really hated calling the same customers every month to come pay for their stupid ragged out automobiles. One of my particular favorites - I'll just call him Earl - had tires on his car that were worth more than what he owed us. He wanted them off the car when we picked it up the third time., "O Brilliant One"...we're keeping those...AND your 8 track tape collection.

Then there was the lady who paid all right...the phone exchange went something like this:

MAINTENANCE: Um, Mrs. Mixon, I believe that one of your customers has attempted to get her payment to you today...

ME: Really? Great. It's the end of the month and...

MAINTENANCE: You can come pick up the envelope if you want...Diebold had to come and get it out of the ATM where she stuck the wad of bills. I have no idea how long it must have taken her to cram it in there.

ME: Diebold?


I kid you not. One of my customers had crammed a wad of bills into where the cards go in an ATM. It cost the bank about $400 to fix the machine. I figured that her investment in time at least constituted a waiver of her latest late fee. I still laugh about that. If they ever start a "Hall of Fame" for deadbeats...that one act should firmly guarantee her place in history.

Part of the reason that I remember this lady so vividly is that she would give her name and and address followed by "you know me?" Every time. She also had a very high pitched voice so it was..."Mizz Nixon...this is Mary Smith at 440 Main know me?" Well, yes, I did. And years later, when doing a church loan as a commercial lender at another bank, I got a call from "Ms. Smith" who wanted to thank me for loaning money to her church. I kid you not. And YES...I did know her and I also knew that she had not moved in the intervening ten years that had passed between the two exchanges.

Anyway, one of these days I'll tell you about one of my fellow loan collectors. He was hysterical.

So, irregardless or irrespective of your irregular irritation of the overuse of IR...I hope that you learned something interesting today. Seriously...remember...REGARDLESS...not IRREGARDLESS. Don't make me get on the stump. Later!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The F Word

By the title, you are probably thinking of the mother of all F words...but that's not what's on my mind today. What is on my mind is the word "FAT." Now, I have whined excessively about the fact that I am in Rehab (Weight Watchers) and about the frustrations that naturally flow from my association with said organization. This particular post will be no different.

I mean, every support group is just a little bizarre, isn't it? Mine is no exception. There are people in the group that appear normal. I mean, people that I can somewhat imagine having occasion to speak to in my real life. And naturally, there are others that I just watch every week and contemplate...that if it weren't for FAT...we'd have absolutely nothing in common at all. And I'd actually be really okay with that. My personal favorite group includes those that are so "gung ho" that I just want to slap a pound off of them (and give myself "activity points" at the same time!). Then there are those that have to buy eight boxes of Weight Watchers treats every week. The same Weight Watchers treats that gave me such a sugar high that I thought that LSD was listed as an ingredient (and who could tell either way, anyway)...and I have a high sugar tolerance.

Others are apparently oblivious to the fact that they seem as bizarre as I view them to be. I don't really know what causes an individual to pierce a body part fifteen times or to don a pair of Army fatigues, a Hooters tee shirt and flip flops...and look in the mirror and go...yep, I'm good with that look.

Tonight I went, actually got to talk to my friend, Valerie, for a few minutes and then settled in my seat. I hate that awkward fifteen minute interval where I am sitting there, nobody is talking to me (and I honestly do not care), I've tired of watching Donna (the lady who made "Lifetime" tonight...good for her) float up and down the aisles chatting everyone up and can't check my text messages (probably both of them I may have of which is "Hey Mom..will you bring me some food while I'm at work.") because my stupid cheap phone died today...with my contact information...dang it.

So, I decided to pull Pati out (again). This time, I was careful NOT to just let her choose for me...and I started out with the Foo Fighters.

Since I'm apparently enamored with the letter "F" tonight...I suppose that it was most appropriate...and the Foo Fighters are always good. I mean, I had to go through about five versions of "Times Like These" before I settled on the one that came with some random Target CD...but "Learn to Fly" is always guaranteed to make me smile. My eyes were closed and I was actually listening to "Monkey Wrench" - really loud - and I could tell that everything had gotten kind of quiet. This made me a bit nervous as I sometimes start moving when I have Pati on and am not really aware of it. (I know what you're someone else's blog...I'm "iPod Girl.")

So I opened my eyes up and what is at the front of the room but a couple (both of which offer witty and helpful advice every week whether we want it or not) with two boxes of spoons and a carton of Edy's ice cream. WHAT THE?

I mean...time and place, people. You've got a room full of starving and possibly ticked off (as I was...bad week) people about to share a half gallon of ice cream when OH YEAH...there's a possible pandemic going on. And before you ask...YES...I ate a bite when it came around. A big one. I mean...there WAS chocolate involved. But I digress...

Apparently Edy's makes a fat free and sugar free ice cream that by some sick freak of nature actually tastes decent. It is loaded with fiber, though, and let me tell you from personal might want to be a little careful with that gastric TNT. I've actually accidentally consumed 56 grams of fiber in one day. I was drinking Fiber One 10g drink mixes that were actually not bad, was working diligently and didn't really think anything of it until I thought that my internal organs were going explode like a WWII mushroom cloud through my navel. Needless to say, I do not recommend this. Just because I lived through it...I can't speak to anyone else's pain tolerance levels but my own. It wasn't up there with giving birth...but it was close.

ANYWAY, I didn't win a door prize (big shock, there) although it was whoo hoo happy night at Rehab. I had whipped everyone into a frenzy of keeping their food diaries last week...and this week we had drawings for those who had. At least I got my quarter from one of the "sponsors" from last week. And, oh yeah, only ONE person asked to see my food diary. The ol' heifers.

So, here's hoping that I have an actual decent week in Rehab. If I don't...I'll probably be writing about another "F word" next week...fiber. Sorry if you were expecting something a little more "interesting" but hey...Later!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why Scholarship Matters

College is a wonderful time of growth, freedom, and change, and an experience that you are probably not yet fully aware of as the blessing that it is. To some of you, going to college is as natural as breathing…you have been conditioned since the cradle that you will one day attend college and have an outstanding four years to forever be known as “the best time of your life.” Others of you have crashed through barriers just to get here. Still others are attending because it just seems like the thing to do since you remain absolutely clueless about what else to do with yourself…and you just know that a career as a waitress at Chic-fil-A, although a very nice company, is not your true calling.

I am here to remind you of some very basic facts. These are well known to you, and you may sit there and go “yeah…yeah…yeah”…but I want you to really focus on what I am saying. In a world of caffeine, minimal hours devoted to sleep, and hormones (which…in reality is really very close to my own life…I’m 46), I realize that you are going to have to focus on what I am saying to you. So…ready…set…focus.

First of all, I want to remind you that college isn’t cheap. Remember this…if you hear nothing else…it was your hard work, the sacrifices of your family, the kindness of an organization that gave you a scholarship, the faith in you shown by the keepers of the university scholarship dollars, the fruits of surviving the paper jungle of the federal government also known as the FAFSA, or someone’s foresight who thought enough of you to save since your infancy that pays these expenses. You may not want to hear this…or you may think that someone owes you four years of college…but let me start by reminding you that if you are 19 years old in the state of Alabama…nobody owes you jack. Maybe your loving parents paid money into the PACT program for your benefit (as I did for my kids.) Well, even that program is under siege right now courtesy of the economy, and we are all sweating bullets to make sure that this program is propped up long enough to get you out. I know that’s what I’m thinking.

Secondly, please remember that your number one reason for being at any university is to get an education. While being a fraternity little sister, the perkiest sorority member ever, a cheerleader, SGA President, etc. is great, it is supposed to enhance your “college experience” – not replace it. Or perhaps your primary reason in going to college was to find a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancĂ©/husband/wife, to get out of the house because your parents were driving you crazy, or because there was nothing to do in the small town you grew up in. However, you got here, you are now here, and you ought to just make the most of it.

Finally, remember that the real world is coming at you at warp speed. And let me go ahead and break this to you…NO…you really do not want to be out of college. Well, eventually, but not before you absolutely, positively have to be. It is easy to forget that within the next five years you will be expected to conduct yourself as an adult. That means paying your own bills, holding down a job that supports a lifestyle that you are probably not familiar with now but will be…unless you live at home or have parents who keep you in emotional “Pullups.” Funding your future non-lifestyle will be tougher for your group especially since credit cards will probably not be a “lifestyle funding” option. Even more painful is that you grew up with it and expect it, and getting married to fund it is also not really encouraged either. Everyone wants to wait to get married…so they just do without or (unfortunately) move in together and play house to make ends meet. But, that’s another lecture entirely.

The idea, though, is that you will one day be taking care of your own wants and needs. Oh, and while you are being an adult…today’s kindness shown to you by the student loan program will be coming around along with the payment book for the new car that you will no doubt find necessary. Fail to repay your student loans…and the government will take your tax refunds for about a decade and your credit report will also reflect that you were not on the ball. In this world of electronic reporting…remember…"you no pay…you no get good score". This will be problematic when you do actually meet Mr. Wonderful or Ms. Wonderful and decide that you want a house, 2.5 children, and a dog. Just so you know…the curly headed guy singing on the commercials is spot on.

Many of you feel overwhelmed right now, and cannot seem to juggle all of the many stresses in your life including boyfriends girlfriends, The Biggest Loser/The Bachelor/24, , tanning bed appointments, sleep, thank you notes, finding a summer job, parties, keeping the Freshmen 15/cellulite at bay, studying, and oh, yes…class.

Just remember that it is all pretty basic.

First of all, you must find your syllabus, your book, a pen that writes, and your alarm clock. Any notes that you have taken will possibly be helpful assuming that you were awake, they are legible, and are not the incoherent ramblings of a professor who likes to talk about his life and then test you on what’s in the book.

Second…read the assignment. I don’t care if it is boring. Of course, it’s boring. You will probably only be interested in about 10% of what you are actually learning in the entire four years you will be there. It isn’t YouTube and meant to be entertaining…it is life. Life is wonderful, but please dare to tell me something interesting about washing the dishes, cleaning the gradu out of the dishwasher, filling out a FAFSA, paying taxes, or taking continuing education classes in the summer months to keep your certification. See?

Next, go to class. Yes…every one of them. If your hair isn’t curled/straightened/washed…go anyway. If you are ill…go anyway. If you are THAT ill, go to the infirmary and get an excuse. The point is…you need to show up. This is the training that you are paying for to make you competent at whatever it is you are training to be. It really doesn’t matter if it is raining, you are tired, you were up late, you were out late, you are running late, you have cramps, you are hungry, you want to leave early for the beach, you just broke up with your boyfriend or if you have two additional “free” skips. I’ll go ahead and enlighten you. In the real world, your boss cares about none of the above. I’ve actually had someone who worked for me come to work and throw up in a trashcan and then would not leave until she finished her work. Now, granted, that is extreme. This is the level of dedication that people of my generation (who will be your future bosses) pretty much hold themselves to as a standard…and we don't think it is unreasonable. Surely with your youth and overall great health…you should NEVER be out sick. Just so you know…on average…vacation days generally total 10 a year, and sick days total 6 a year. Generally, you will receive fewer than 10 holidays…and if they fall on a Sunday…then that is just too bad. That means that there really isn’t time to be sick when you aren’t truly, honestly, commode-hugging sick unless you want to be sick on your vacation days or find somewhere else to work. Your Mama and Daddy might care…but I assure you…your boss does not.

Finally, remember that you are there to learn the material and the goal isn’t to find the easiest teacher…the goal is to find the best teacher. The better teachers make you work. Most students will go to great lengths (which involves work) to avoid work. This skill set called "work" will come in handy in the real world. And, these good teachers are the professors that you will never forget. People who come to college expecting to be spoon fed are in for a rude awakening. Those who somehow survive college by a thread will find that the working world is even in…”here is your desk, here are the files, coffee fund is $3, the bathroom is over there…have a nice day” for on the job training. Wish I were kidding. You have to be able to figure things out for yourself. Start now.

I can tell you these things because I can vividly remember sitting where you sit today. I know the fear of getting a grade back because I wasn’t prepared and the pop test just seemed so “unfair.” I know the sickening feeling when you hope against hope and then you get exactly what you deserve…and learn that “F” isn’t for “fantastic” – it is for “failure to perform.” However, after a reality check in my sophomore year, I also know that by simply doing my work, showing up for class, and considering it important enough to warrant skipping some of what I thought was necessary…I succeeded…and actually excelled. Granted, it helped to transfer to a different school, but due to my attitude adjustment, I graduated summa cum laude from a University in 1985. That “F” I made in Algebra as a sophomore was an “A” as a junior. The difference? I actually quit whining and just did my homework and didn’t quit going over the problems until I finally figured it out. Whining is extremely time consuming as well as annoying to those who love you best. I’m not saying that you are guaranteed to make straight A’s just by doing the basics. However, you will find that your professors are a whole lot more tolerant of the struggler who is well prepared, asks questions, and gives good eye contact than the genius who glazes over, shows up for class randomly, and really does not try. Plus, if you do not prioritize correctly, you also run a huge risk of being the kid you are trying to convince your parents that you no longer are. Parents are much like bosses...they don't care what you say...they care what you do. So, as is often quoted…put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

For some of you, I am preaching to the choir. For others, you honestly have not really recognized the fact that you are on that last socially acceptable level – college – before you are going to be expected to stand on your own two feet. Start now. Start today. If you aren’t doing well…find someone who is. Go to class. Say, “no, I can’t go to the (“insert fraternity house/church function/wings night/happy hour tonight" and mean it. Stay home (gasp!) on a Thursday night. Actually read the assignments. It is sad...but if you do these will be among the minority of college students...which will set you apart - in a very positive way - by default.

It is your future. You can do it. If nothing else…you will know what it was you bought as you grumble through ten years of student loan repayment. Skipping class is like buying season tickets and then not attending the games. What is the point of THAT? I know that you are more than capable, because I’ve been around your families for years. You may be young enough to be my daughter… I am the mother of a 19 year old freshman at another college…but you are no longer kids. So there.

Finally, because to those whom much is given...much is required…remember that it is not only yourself but your family that you are letting down by not giving your best effort. You are only as strong as your weakest link. None of you want THAT designation, I feel sure. Find someone who can mentor you and help you over the tough spots. I’m sure that there are many, many others out there also willing to help. Just ask. And study hard!

(This was originally written for a group of very lovely girls who may or may not have benefited at all. Some edits were made by a friend. This is from the archives.)


I realized this morning what I have named this blog..."My Points in Time." Now, exactly WHY I did this...I do not know. I have a couple of possibilities, though. See if any of these seem remotely logical to you:

A. I was trying to be clever. I just don't listen to enough country music to be up on my double entendres, so whatever.
B. The title "Hot Flashes from the Dark Side" just seemed a bit morose.
C. The title "Rantings and Incoherent Mumblings of a 46 Year Old Working Mother of Two" was already taken.
D. I actually thought I'd have a point to some point...maybe.
E. The Weight Watchers organization has brainwashed me to such a degree that the word "points" just flowed out of my subconscious.
F. The words "points" and "time" appear to be two things that I never have enough it was a kind of backwards wishful thinking.

I am inclined to believe "F" above all...although "C" is equally true.

ANYWAY, today I am writing on the prison system as I am "helping" Jill edit her paper that is due (naturally) tomorrow. She has been busy with potential rushees, important functions (fraternity parties), and has been SO incredibly busy these past three days (tanning appointments, Pilates, preparing for Sigma Chi Derby Days, and...oh yeah...class) that she won't have time after her Rush Workshop today to do an adequate job. I'm being unfair...she actually started this last week...including making a surprise visit home last week for less than 24 hours just to show me how far she'd gotten (all four lines of it.)

However, thinking about it...motherhood is something like prison. I is like turning yourself in...but you serve at least a 20 year sentence. I'm on year 20 of this right now...and serving a concurrent sentence (17 years) as well. I've been told that at the end of this, I will be granted a reprieve in the form of grandchildren...or at least will have some monetary recompense. Let's hope so. While I have not really minded being incarcerated most of the time, there have been those days when I have almost considered ripping off a 7-11 just to be sent to prison to get some peace. And some money. I don't know that I've actually had any money since 1990. Somehow, it is eerily comparable to anything green in my possession (ie plants) just shrivels up and disappears.

Here's why I believe that there is some correlation between motherhood and prison:
13. Both prisoners and mothers wear the same clothes over and over and have little regard for fashion.
12. The wage rate is about the same...something random like $.32/hour.
11. There are opportunities for parole (ie grandparents) that don't come around often enough.
10. Even after you come still feel like you are behind bars...even if Junior is 33, married and has 2.4 children of his own, a Volvo and a dog.
9. The food is the same...high in fat and carbohydrates (ie chicken fingers, hot dogs, mac and cheese).
8. Most of your rights (like to have a life of your own) are temporarily suspended.
7. The privacy is comparable. (There's always someone in the bathroom with you...and it is impossible to shave both legs at the same time.)
6. Nobody cares about your feelings, needs, or wants. You will receive the latest appliance for your birthday...and you will like it.
5. You are expected to do work detail. This involves cooking, cleaning, laundry, clerical work, and occasionally you get to work in the library.
4. Your TV viewing is controlled by others...and it is almost guaranteed to not be of your liking (ie Cops, Repo Man, Dirty Jobs, etc.)
3. Communication is often not returned since kids have caller ID on their phones...much like the collect call from prison.
2. You are always known as a convict/mother. You used to have a first you are "Jill's Mom."
and the number one reason...
1. Prison stripes or stretch marks...any difference?

You guys have a nice day...back to the old ball and chain (English 102). Later!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I am writing this after having a full eleven hours of sleep...and NO...I am not on vacation. The last time that the dogs, David, my children, telemarketers, Jehovah's Witnesses, my mother, obligations, or the weather didn't wake me up was sometime in 1994. I think it was because David had gone out that morning and had the kids with him and this was before the arrival of Dixie and Rebel to our family.

I am now listening to the sound of my husband and son putting silverware in the tray...which can only mean that they are unloading the dishwasher. I probably need to make sure that I am still breathing. I'm probably not...I thought I heard David tell Brian to go fold his laundry. I vaguely recall hearing the lawnmower at some point when I stumbled to the bathroom at about 8:00 am. Could it be that they've actually cleaned up without me? OMGosh. This can only mean that A) Brian wants something B)David is bored or C)It's my birthday (which it isn't...)

Speaking of birthdays, though...last night, I attended a birthday party for my friend, Beve, and enjoyed time with my scrapbooking ladies. We had fun...and the strongest things I consumed was decaffeinated coffee and some serious BlueBell ice cream with hummingbird cake. Needless to say, the whole dinner racked up about 84 points on Weight Watchers. That's fine. At least I'm writing it down. If I go outside and walk, I can probably burn those off by Tuesday is I don't rest between now and then. This is not a good thing, since my next weigh-in is on Monday night.

Anyway, I am now trying to decide exactly what I want to do with my day. I am currently wearing a hot pink mou-mou and have no intention of getting dressed today. I have a room that is littered with eBay rejects, everyone's stuff, scrapbooking paraphenalia, a bed that needs the sheets changed, and dust. This isn't ANY dust, though. This is the kind of dust that requires serious eradification...baseboards...blinds, and the blades of the ceiling fan. I mean, the blades aren't bowed bet, but I'm almost positive that the walls were once darker than they appear to be right now.

I'll keep you posted. Anytime that I actually clean house always spawns either a flurry of productivity or a disaster. Both normally include a story to relay. Later!

Friday, April 24, 2009

What I Wish I Had Known...for High School Seniors

You are entering a phase in your life that is truly the beginning of a new chapter. You have closed the book on your childhood and are in that waiting room right before adulthood. You may think of it as purgatory at times, but more often, you will probably think of it as endless. Endless in a “good” way, that is. Most college students believe that four years is an eternity. It really isn’t.

I just wanted to put a few things in perspective for you. These are some pearls that I wish that I had been given, and as it says in the Bible, we are not to put our pearls out there to be trampled by swine, so I’m taking quite a risk here in laying it out. And you are taking quite a risk in reading this…because then you remove ignorance from the equation and you can no longer say that you didn’t know.

Every day of my life I hear or see some type of news – be it on the internet, television, radio, or just what I hear in passing – that is a report of something that has gone horribly awry in someone’s life. Often it is something beyond that person’s control – an illness, abandonment, a bad decision by someone that has ricocheted into some poor soul who was simply minding his or her own business. But most frequently, it is because somebody knowingly made a poor decision somewhere along the line that they are paying for that they could have easily avoided. If you leave a little problem alone to grow into a big one, you are just asking for trouble. A sip of wine will not hurt you. Unless, of course, you are an alcoholic. Which you normally do not discover until you actually are one. A tendency to lie or cheat can grow into the loss of trust and eventual jail time if you happen to be a government official who tries to take shortcuts. Risky sexual behavior can give you an STD, a baby, or a permanent loss of self respect.

So, my first piece of advice? Choose where you go and who you go with very carefully, and remain under your parents’ authority. If there’s a chance that you will be caught doing something you shouldn’t be…expect that you will be…and then see if you can live with the consequences. That one mental exercise should keep you out of a good bit of trouble.

Do you want to raise a child alone at age 20? Then go ahead and date the guy your parents hate. Any time that your parents give you a piece of advice – you should strongly consider remaining under their authority. That’s how you get blessed. Unfortunately, in today’s world, kids believe that parents are there to be some kind of combination maid/ATM machine that is terribly out of touch, controlling, and just plain wrong. Well, the truth, my friend, is that this is a lie from the pit of hell. For the vast majority of kids, under the authority of their parents is the safest place to be. If you routinely go outside of those boundaries, then you are asking for far more trouble than you know. Because trouble is certainly out there lurking. And it often doesn’t introduce itself properly.

Any friend who tries to encourage you down a path that leaves you uncomfortable is not a friend. That person is a tool of the devil. I don’t care what their background, belief system, or intentions are. They are just plain wrong. Just keep that in mind. And be on guard for serving in that capacity to other people. Because you can be the person who drags someone down the wrong path much farther than you would ever go just because they admire you and think that’s where you are headed. And it is something that you may never truly recover from witnessing. The destruction of another person on your shoulders is a terrible cross to bear.

My second piece of advice is to focus on your future; and I don’t mean this weekend’s ballgame or spring break either. You should focus on where you want to be in five years. Hopefully, you will see yourself as a college graduate by then, employed, and off of your parents’ payroll. That’s the first and immediate goal. Many see themselves married, traveling abroad, attending graduate, law or medical school, or living somewhere totally different. Those are all worthy of consideration. The first goal is to get the training you will need to do a job and get paid for it, or to have some clear idea of how you are going to do that. At 22, you can probably get away with not being entirely sure (other than having to declare some kind of major), but at 27, you don’t want to be living with Mommy and Daddy and sleeping in your twin bed with the Superman sheets. I hope not, anyway. So, spend some time actually doing internships, talking to people, making contacts, and figuring it out. It comes really fast, and the decisions you are making now will impact you for a very long time. It is fun to play video games with your friends, go shopping, and think that it will last forever. I’m sorry to say that it won’t. Remember to be in the group that actually thinks about it and has a plan. Pray about it. God will lead you.

My third piece of advice is to learn to be grateful. Most young people either are very aware of the sacrifices made for them or completely oblivious to them. Grandparents and parents will not live forever. The teacher that impacted you, the person who led the Bible study that brought you to Christ, the friend who stood by you when you needed one, the neighbor who always asked about you, or the parents of your friends who fed and supported you will not be around forever either. Be aware of the gifts that are being given to you in time, prayer, energy, and love. Don’t take anything for granted. To fully live is to understand that we are all interconnected. God designed it that way.

Remember that failure isn’t fatal. Well, normally it is not. It just feels that way. In some way, every person drawing breath has failed at something. Granted, failing publicly and wasting opportunities are certainly not easy to deal with. But remember that if you do mess up – and chances are that you will – you aren’t unique. Sometimes the things we learn are only taught through failure. Often, we fail because we are too fired up, to arrogant, or too ignorant to listen to the more subtle hints that we are on the wrong track. Or, we have to try to find out that Plan A is not a good idea for us, but we have to move past that to get to Plan B. Most adults are living on Plan M or Plan Z for their lives. Often, Plan A is what we want in our strength, and beyond that is what God wants for us. We just aren’t always bright enough to figure it out. Failure is a pretty good teacher.

Pray a lot. Not many people do. They say that they will or that they do, but they figure out what they want to do most often, and then ask God to bless it. Sometimes He does just so we can see how pathetic our little dreams are. Pray for big dreams. And then be brave enough to follow them even if people think you are stupid or if they don’t understand. I’m not suggesting that you be foolish, but I do believe that you have a purpose or you wouldn’t be here, and if you will dream big dreams, God can and will use you. You just have to line up your dreams with God’s purposes for you. Pray about everything…who to date, what to do with your time, what you should be when you grow up, how you can serve Him, and then remember to say “thank you” when He answers.

Be the person that you want to be if you haven’t been happy with the person you have been in the past. College is a natural break point, and even if you go to college with half of your high school class, you will still have the opportunity to branch out, meet new people, and start over. If you were not a great student, you can be in college…just go to class, read your assignments, and actually do your work. If you were a wild child…find new friends. If you were quiet and ignored…find a group on campus that you fit in with more easily. You’ll be fine. I know people who go to college with the expectation that it will be a continuation of high school. It doesn’t have to be if it was negative. And if your high school experience was good and you really do want it to go on for four more years…then at least try a little diversity by meeting people who might have something positive to teach you.

Just so you know…your parents will likely become significantly more intelligent once you leave home. It may be the stress of paying your way that rendered them unworthy of your respect, or it may be that you find out that the insidious “everybody” who is doing whatever it was you wanted to do don’t really exist. And those who were doing everything that you wanted to do but couldn’t because of your parents are probably not living the life of their dreams. You’ll also find out that your parents are real people with emotions, feelings, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and a love for you that is stronger than you can even imagine. Unless you are in a significantly dysfunctional situation, you are going to love coming home. And if they paint your room after you leave, it’s really okay. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. It actually means that they have confidence that you will make your own way in the world. And you will.

I hope that this has given you some food for thought. And on that subject – food – try not to eat everything that you were not allowed to at home just because you can go to Krystal at 3 am. Just because it is allowed, doesn’t make it beneficial. If you are one of the ones who believes that the European drinking age of 18 is more your style – and unless you are in Europe at the time I personally think you are an idiot – remember that the most fattening thing you can put in your body short of lard is alcohol.

Take care, and get out there and remember where you came from, enjoy the moment, and make us proud.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cardmaking - The Reality Series

Sometimes we see on television or in the movies how things are “viewed” in a dream state. We might be having tea on top of a mushroom with John F. Kennedy, or have blue hair, are attending college (although actual graduation was in 1985), or have children that we somehow think are ours but who actually look like the “oompa loompas” from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You may be living in a house you don’t recognize, may put yourself in an awkward situation (ie naked in Times Square and you aren’t strumming a guitar), or stuck on the edge of a cliff with no means of escape. We’ve all been there at one point or another unless we are continually under the effects of Tylenol PM or a libation…although having been under both…I can honestly say that it often made it worse rather than better.

All of this to say that it is not too often that we find ourselves actually in the middle of the dream state in real life. And when we do…it is either terrifying, too bizarre for words, or just plain hilarious. I am going to attempt to share with you my most recent descent into such a place…and the names are going to be changed to protect the guilty.

Now for the backstory…many of you know that I feel that my life’s calling (other than birthing my two children and being the caretaker for Dixie and Rebel) is to deal with paper. I love paper. I love to write, scrapbook, take photos, wrap things, and read. So, I assumed (with all of its inherent dangers) that a natural extension of this “calling” was to learn to make cards. I mean…I’m repeatedly told by my friend, Cindy, that it just isn’t that hard. Well, of course it isn’t that hard for HER. She has all of the stuff, a creative bent toward making cards, and she can actually part with hers.

I, on the other hand, refuse to part with any of the cards that she’s made me because they are just too pretty. I put them in my scrapbooks instead of mailing them to others. I know that this is selfish, but give me a break. I don’t hoard much…but I hoard Cindy’s cards…and would likely get on the stump if someone tried to relieve me of even one of these treasures.

All of that to say that I volunteered early in 2009 to attend a monthly meeting with Cindy’s card queens so that I could actually learn how to make cards. I’ve now been to two of these…the first and third…because the second one conflicted with Trinity’s play. ANYWAY, the first one went sufficiently well, so I pretty much expected the third one to be somewhat of a cakewalk. Yeah…right.

I showed up and immediately realized that the night was going to be a little bit different. First of all, I could actually see the participants due to the fact that I had just picked up my new glasses from Costco. And a lot of participants there were…the table was full, and there were about four ladies just standing around. I was greeted at the door by the homeowner…who was sufficiently sunny as she always is.

The presentation started, but I was, unfortunately, blocked by a lady who not only took up the entire end of the table, but I found that her size also made it impossible for me to see around her to view the demonstration. Now, being overweight myself, I am not “hatin’” on this woman…I’m just stating an indisputable fact. This was further complicated by the ladies chatting in front of me about who knows what, the arrival of the pizza guy, and a cat who was a little too friendly for my liking. They know I am allergic to them (cats…not pizza guys) and all of them find it particularly hysterical to just rub all over my legs (aren’t you glad I clarified the above?). It is almost as if they know that I will spend hours trying to convince Dixie and Rebel that I am not bringing them home a new friend to terrorize. The leg sniffing did indeed occur later that night…and I distinctly saw that “and you have been WHERE?” look from Rebel when I got home.

But back to the story…I finally gave up and just went to the kitchen where there was a strawberry concoction that was non-Weight Watchers, but I convinced myself to eat it anyway because I could recognize the strawberries…and nuts are healthy, right? I did pass on the pizza and on the wine, which by that time was flowing quite freely. I am not a wine person…whiner, yes…consumer of wine…no. A couple of the ladies were indulging quite a bit including the homeowner. Nobody was loud or obnoxious…and so I just sat by the strawberries, texted a friend to report my current condition (third circle of Hell), and waited for it to all be over so I could sit down, make my cards and go home.

Finally, we sat down and I was really looking forward to the card-making when two events occurred that put me in the “dream state.” The first was the arrival of the homeowner’s pre-teen who I can only describe as the well...the typical pre-teen that has a lot of people at her house and is on a sugar high. Only one of my kids' friends was like this on a regular basis, and she has since been diagnosed as bipolar. ANYWAY, after realizing that this young lady was going to be seated right beside me, I did about four sets of deep breathing exercises and tried to tell myself that it was almost over…much like I do in spinning classes after the first song. (Yeah…one down…seven to go…you can do it!)

The second occurred as the wine was still being consumed, I was trying to stamp fish on a card and was having ink issues, and then realized that we'd moved on to embossing something. The resulting aroma smelled a little bit like gas being passed. I didn’t remark on it until I realized later on (embossing for myself) that it wasn’t the embossing producing this particular aroma at all…it was in reality…someone passing gas. SO, I am trying to stamp, emboss, and put little bubble things and all and I’m trying not to get on the stump or reach across the table and slug the pre-teen, whose every other word is “girlfriend.” The only thing that makes it worse is that her mother calls her by a pet name (let's just make it "Baby Girl")when SHE isn’t saying “girlfriend.” The wine is clearly affecting her by this point, but I’m not really sure if it is that or the fact that she is getting intoxicated by the aroma of the 5,000 candles that are burning in this house simultaneously.

Not that I am anti-candle. I like candles. I am just not used to being in a home that made me think I was on the set of a Sting video. I mean...if I'm lighting is because Alabama Power is dragging around in getting my power turned back on.

Anyway, pre-teen and her mother were taking all of the supplies I needed and pre-teen was giving me smart remarks that I think she thought were clever every time I asked for something. It was probably to her advantage that she kept stealing the scissors and the embossing thing, because had they remained in my possession I might have been sent to "time out" in the Montgomery Detention Facility.

By this time, I was so traumatized that I strongly considered picking up the remnants of the various wine bottles and chugging them as to not deal with any more of this unreality. I finally got my cards and basket made and actually began to believe that I might actually eventually leave this “Twilight Zone” episode masquerading as a card party.

Alas, no.

We had the dreaded order form to navigate. I am silently cursing myself that I do not carry cash...and can't just fling a twenty at someone and say..."please...just order anything." Finally, I got through the form, ordered 50 clear envelopes for the future cards that I may never make, and a punch I can use for scrapbooking, wrote a check, and got out before I heard the word “girlfriend” again.

The only saving graces for the evening were that the kitchen guests were having as much fun as I was as we all squeezed together to attempt to see through the remaining doorway unblocked by Big Mama, I had a conversation (that made me feel better about my life) with a lady whose son is 22 and “finding himself” (God love her) and the strawberries were excellent. I also really do like the hostess a lot - although those of you reading this are probably thinking that I'm a real heifer for not appreciating her hospitality.

As I was preparing to leave, something snapped, and the hostess had enough of “Baby Girl's” mouth and shut her down…which meant that I found out that “Baby Girl” does indeed have a middle name…and a first one other than “Baby Girl.” I made a mental note to pray for this lady because she has a rough decade in front of her from what I witnessed.

I did feel bad because she had also passed from “bubbly” to that place right before “dark” where people who drink too much sometimes find themselves. She didn’t burst into tears…but she was talking about the futility of all of the crap in her kitchen and was yelling at her kid…so I felt that it was definitely time to go home.

I finally sprinted to the vehicle and was pleased to note that I had pretty cards (that will never be mailed…they are for my scrapbook) and still had time to spend three hours on eBay after I got home.

Three months of card parties more to go. Yikes. Later!

Spring Fever and the Over 40 Crowd

Today in the thriving metropolis of Pike Road, AL it is approximately 79 degrees outside, is pretty, the pollen count is down because of the monsoons last week. It is one of those days when you hear the yard people at work cutting the grass next door, and you begin to curse the career path you chose.

I am a banker. I was a commercial lender for over 10 years, and had several other various banker jobs (cash management sales, operations, investments) along the way. Like most of my banker generation, I have been gainfully employed at a total of five banks...well...six if you count mergers that occurred while employed. I am now a commercial loan underwriter. That means...I actually have credit skills. Scary, isn't it? There are not many of us left out there. Most have at some point run screaming for other fields like insurance, education, or the State. Some actually went to work as CFOs or controllers of various companies. Most have returned. Banking is the Hotel California of almost have to have something wrong with you to consider this field in the first place (ie. it is the quickest way to graduation out of the business school...and is better than economics...there, I finally admitted it.)

On days like today, I notice that my thoughts immediately go to those days in my younger life when I was "bored." Such a distasteful word...but one that I'd really love to have the opportunity to relive at some point. As for me...I look out the window of my office like a puppy at PetSmart and silently whine. Being bored to me would imply that the house is completely clean and organized, I have contacted every member of my immediate family and found that they don't need me for squat, it would also mean that I have money in my checking account, the dog isn't in "season" or requiring grooming, the bills are paid, the organizations I support don't need time or money, I have nothing listed on eBay, and nobody wants to be my friend on Facebook. Getting past the needs of my family alone almost guarantees that I will never again be bored.

When you are over 40, the days of wearing a swimsuit and getting a tan are primarily over. I mean...some of you may still be able to manage it...and if so...I salute you. As for me...a bathing suit now consists of a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. And yes, I have a pool. I get in it twice a year. A tan now comes with the risk of skin cancer...and so I actually slather on the sunscreen instead of the baby oil with iodine in it that represented my tanning oil in the 1970's unless I had just been paid at my job at McDonald's and bought Hawaiian Tropic.

It is JUST TOO PRETTY outside today. I might even stop by Belk and look in the Junior Zeppelin Department (ie. Women's Fashions) for a floral infested swimsuit in size OMG. Ya never know.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ironies of Life - Part II

Well, today I spoke to the 10th grade girls (Brian's grade) and really enjoyed it. They are all really great girls, but it was extremely weird to be with them in the same forum (bible study) that I was with Jill's group and the one the year after her. I still think of them as the little girls they used to be.

Much like I do ANYTIME I am traveling and have to be at a meeting or something...I dreamed that I overslept. So in my head...I am stuffing three of the Little Smokies weenie things in a biscuit and trying to make the pigs in a blanket and get out the door and yelling at David while I do this...for not waking me up.

By getting myself so riled up in my dream world...I actually WOKE myself 4:45. Egad.

Bear in mind that it is normally next to impossible to rouse me from my Tylenol PM induced coma each morning without some serious David was amazed that I was up. Because I can't get up normally, I have simplified my morning routine to something quite amazingly simple...and yes, it includes David bringing me coffee.

I normally leave on time...mostly dressed...and in the process of makeup application. Yes...I am one of those annoying ladies who puts her mascara on while driving through a school zone. I figure...hey...I'm already going 25...if some kid comes racing across the 1/4 mile it is between the school and the road, then more power to them. If I actually hit one...they can just sue me.

See, in my estimation...a kid in front of the car is a fairly remote possibility. The policeman directing traffic calling me in and giving me a ticket when I have a 16 year old male and a hotfoot 19 year old on my THAT'S something to fear. Authority figures...gotta love 'em.

ANYWAY, I got up and made about a gazillion (75) pigs in the blanket, gratefully loaded the remaining muffins from hell (9 1/2 points on WW...which puts them in the "Are you KIDDING me?" category of foods) and arranged the fruit that I purchased into a leftover spinach container because reusing stuff makes me feel like I'm being environmentally healthy...and it IS Earth Day and all...

Oh, I could have simplified my life. I could have hit a drive thru or stopped for donuts...but I figured...hey...why start them on the road to ruin with Krispy Kreme? Best that they not ever think that they can eat such. The window on irresponsible sugar consumption is closing for them sooner than they know.

I arrived on time, parked in what I thought was the "Visitor Parking" but OH NO...I parked in the "Reserved Parking" which I only realized after I unloaded all of my crap onto the trunk of the car.

The bible study itself was great. I read one verse, and had an object lesson (wheat seeds from sweet Peggy) and (not surprisingly) had a lot to say. In fact, had I been an auctioneer, I don't know if I could have imparted every bit of wisdom that I wanted to share. I suppose that I just wanted to throw them a lifeline to let them know that they won't be in high school forever. This is welcome news...but also sad at the same time. Of course, I also told them that by the time they were seniors, they would be so annoying that their parents would gladly pay ANY amount of money, sign ANY loan documents, drive them ANYWHERE to college (California? No problem.) and even pay to decorate their room just to get them out of the house. This seemed to be news to them.

The advice boiled down to a few major points that I won't rehash here. They were very polite and listened intently...which I'm sure was difficult to do considering the sugar content of the muffins coupled with Juicy Juice and a side order of fruit.

One of the girls gave a prayer request for an 18 year old relative. She was mortified that after some injuries she sustained in overtraining...she now had the joints of a 30 year old.

OMG. I'd KILL for the joints of a 30 year old. And I said exactly that. It is all a matter of perspective. She thought she was giving a prayer request...I let her know that 30 year old joints would actually be a cause for celebration. She - no doubt - thinks I'm nuts.

When I got back to the office I had two interesting phone calls. One was with my health insurance company. Like I needed to pull up my claims history this morning to see if they've mailed my check yet (since American Express has already been paid) and realize that they've denied my claim for eyeglasses under my vision insurance.

Let that last statement sink in.

My response: Are you flipping kidding me??

Now...before I start off on a rant...I'll just give you a visual. Anyone seen the Karate Kid? Remember the stump? Yep. That's where I go in my mind when something totally overwhelms the "magnolia" in me. So, there I am...perched on one leg...hands rising like the crane...

I very calmly called the office and informed the person who cheerfully answered that I wanted to speak to anyone there in the category of "remotely intelligent."


She then said that there WAS someone who is very good with "special situations" (read that: problem customers...because it was apparently dang obvious that I was going to be one). I informed her that while I sincerely appreciate and highly value my awesome insurance as evidenced by the unbelieveable premiums I pay for family coverage...I really DON'T appreciate paying for VISION INSURANCE and then having my stupid claim for glasses turned down.

Bear in mind that this is just minutes after I get to work after teaching a bible study. Yeah.

And you already know what happened.

Some genius over at Costco (where I purchased said glasses) put something in the wrong block. My new best friend - Lisa - could only discover this after I faxed all of the crap over there to her. She tried the old..."our system is down" trick with me...but as I've already said...I was on the stump. I had it allll in front of me.

Seven faxed pages later...she "personally" walked this through to Claims...where she assured me that they would fix the problem. Well thank you Captain Obvious...because by this point...I have your name, phone number, and fax...and if I don't get my check...I'm calling back. A lot.

Look...I work in the service industry...a bank...mess with me.

I think she kinda sensed this. I don't know if it was the quiet manner in which I spoke to her but said exactly what I thought or if she checked my age and realized that I might be somewhere near the big "M". Either way...she took the safe route. Smart girl.

The burning question is: In spite of the fact that people are losing their jobs at the speed of it still too much to ask for competence? If we have MBAs working at McDonald's...then could we please replace the rocket scientist who turned down my request with someone who possesses something remotely resembling intelligence? In my estimation...since they paid the claim for the eye doctor visit in the first place...seemed to me in this brave new world of imaging...the facts would have been right there IF he or she had only looked. Of course, this person is probably from the generation that just pushed the picture of a Big Mac instead of actually knowing the price and having to (gasp!) add.

The second call was with a friend who is dealing with someone who is making her life much harder than it needs to be. I mean...this woman has a child who is a college my heart truly goes out to her. The nemesis is someone who really doesn't fit her name. Ever run up on those people?

People named Joy that are anything but? Folks named Mercedes or Tiara on their nametag when they take your order at Waffle House (no offense...I'm a fan of Waffle and and time.) My personal favorite is a sweet name like Giggles or Twinkle or something equally interesting. I actually know people with names like that. I AM in the South, you know.

In the Bible, people were always named after what they were supposed to represent, and anybody who has ever had a kid has worn out the baby name book with the "meanings" assigned to the name. In fact, The Prayer of Jabez (by Bruce Wilkinson) several years ago was because a guy wanted a break because his name meant "pain". (And all you mothers out there...can I get an "Amen.")

I can even somewhat understand this having grown up as KAY-RUN. My name (according to my mother...who should know because she named me) is CARE-IN. Only when I moved to Alabama did I find people who called me by my name...and so I stayed. Granted, I've had to adjust to the too frequent for my taste overuse of the non-word "hisself" and I occasionally find people who want to ride "on" the car instead of "in" it...but whatever. It is a small price to pay.

I even worked with a lady once who kept an actual list of names and occupations. She thought it was hilarious that a local OB/GYN is named Dr. Love. I did too...the first couple of times she read me the list. Unfortunately, she re-read the list every time she discovered another one...which, if I recall correctly was about once a week. The only other thing I remember about her is that she was totally anti-computer in the 1980's. She even retired because she wasn't "learning how to use that thing."

So, my advice to my dear give you hope, so to to just play a little mind game with yourself. Next time this individual gives you grief...just laugh quietly to yourself about how inappropriately named she is. Sounds to me like her true name should be something like "Sasquatch".

I will eventually become quite hilarious. Kind of like the girl who hated me years ago because I got the job she wanted and she would never speak to I intentionally carried on one person conversations with her...EVERY MORNING in the kitchen at work...which annoyed her greatly. I'd ask her how she was...she wouldn't answer...and then I'd just say...I'm fine...thanks...but I thought it was dang hilarious. I eventually wore her down. It was either that or the hormones from her pregnancy the following year. Ah, who cares.

Sorry for the long dialogue...Later!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ironies of Life Part I

Last night, before the part I talked about in my last post, I had a truly funny and ironic moment. I'll try to set the stage for you...but I don't want you to think it's a big deal...just confirmation to me that God has a sense of humor.

I arrive at 5:30, get my stuff, and since I'm not weighing, I don't really have anything much to talk to anyone I find my seat at the back of the room and sit.

I read the stuff they gave me...the text messages from the day...a random ad in my purse...and then it hits me...I have Pati.

Yep, Pati the iPod...named after the holiday closest to my birthday...St. Patrick's Day...and because Pati is green. Jill spelled it that way...not moi. I'm sure that the people at Apple have that spelling on Pati's birth certificate, and I just don't have the energy to change it. But I digressed, didn't I?

So, I detangle Pati's earphone cords and the charger from the Ziploc freezer bag that she lives in along with the armband for when I exercise (as if) and tried to turn her on. Then I I do every time I turn Pati on that I have to move the red button thingy from the top before she'll actually work. I somehow accomplish this, and then push the "shuffle songs" command. I close my eyes, lean back in my chair against the wall and wait.

And then I realize what I am listening is Collective Soul's "Heavy."

Only I would be sitting there listening to a song called "Heavy" in Weight Watchers. Some of the lyrics include, "and all your weight it falls on brings me brings me down..." Yes. And I'm laughing hysterically to myself.

And then I just turn it up and rock out. Until my other back row friends arrive. Then they want to talk about how much weight they've lost. One of the back row peeps has lost over 150 pounds. All I can think about is how much money I've lost on this latest stint in rehab.

Anyway, that really happened. No lie.

I hope that you all are well. I act like any of you is actually reading this. Oh well. I'm going to do a girls 10th grade bible study at Trinity in the morning. Please pray that I get up in time. I'm making pigs in the blanket (that I can't eat...I mean...I CAN eat it, but I'd like to eat something else the rest of the day.) I'm also bringing fruit. Bingo. I've been writing down my stuff today. Day 2 and all is well.

Rock on.

If you have something you'd like for me to write about...let me know. If not, you'll be getting these every day in cyberspace whether you actually care or not.


Monday, April 20, 2009


Tonight was my Weight Watchers meeting. Just exactly where I wanted to be sitting tonight from 5:30 until 6:30. I refused to weigh. You can take that pass one time while on Rehab, and they are supposed to just deal with it. After my plunge into the depths of a Reese's ocean and portion sizes more appropriate to the Jolly Green Giant over the recent Easter holiday and beyond, I felt that weighing would be more disheartening than anything. Not that I have a clue what I weigh. I don't. I don't let them tell me, and they just mark it on the card that I refuse to look at each week. I just don't think that I could stand knowing that I weigh more than I did when I was full-blown pregnant with a 95 pound weight gain (Jill...circa 1990), toxemia, and eerily resembling a deranged superhero...Water Girl. I am fairly sure that I weigh more than the majority of the University of Alabama football team, and this cannot be a good thing.

After listening to our leader discuss the merits of writing everything down...I finally raised my hand and just short of begged the class to ask to see my food diary next week. I suppose that just knowing that someone probably will is enough to keep me on track. I will have to do this every week...because I run in twelve week cycles. For three weeks...gung ho. Weeks 4 and 5...sketchy. Week 6...stopping at Chic-fil-A and eating the combo number 1 while justifying the "health benefits" of fried chicken and counting potatoes as a "vegetable" and thus free of points entirely. Weeks 7 and 8 are trying to get back on the wagon...week 9 and 10 involve mental flogging and week 11 is desperation week. I then snap back to week 1 behavior again. What I really need is to be sent to a place with a computer and no food.

Anyway, this "confession" spawned a ton of discussion including some lady who is bringing quarters for everyone who keeps their food diary next week, and another lady matching it. I mean people were fired up. It was almost like someone had just come up with a non-caloric cheesecake or something. Our leader (whose name I am never sure is Jennie or Jeannie since people just choose one or the other when they talk to her) was a little confused by this outburst of emotion (I asked for help since I was under the impression that Rehab is a support group). I did feel better leaving there, and much more resolved to do what I am supposed to be doing. If any of you see me, ask to see my diary. I should have it available for your viewing pleasure.

This whole experience reminded me that in life, sometimes we just need someone to speak up to say the words that are unconsciously on the tip of our tongues. As for me, I need someone to tell me that they are actually reading these. If not, it is no big deal...I'm just curious. Later!


I will not even suggest to you that I am in the majority of people who are truly, honestly exhausted. Those people that are taking care of parents, children, or spouses who are critically ill, those raising more than two teenagers, or those who are trying to work four jobs to get their kid through college. No, those are the true heroes. I will tell you that over time, a certain weariness with this or that seems to be the mental equivalent of running a marathon, though. Not that I'd actually know about running a marathon because I can't even run 1/4 of a mile anymore but whatever. But what I mean is...after 32 years of working continuously, there are days that I'd just like to not have to drag myself out of the bed, find a clean pair of black pants and try to do something with my increasingly unruly hair. I'd like to just wake up when I want to, start my day slowly, and then sashay to work about noon-ish. I wouldn't even mind working until eight to get my hours in. I just know that right now, every fiber of my being is screaming..."back to bed!" and I am typing this in the hopes that I will wake up enough to get in the car and head to the job.

And somehow between two cups of coffee, the grace of God, and one of those muffins I brought home from Costco that probably cost $6.66 because I now believe them to be the muffins from hell, I'll pull it together. Somehow I'll manage to find one of the five pairs of black pants that I own in various shades of faded, put them on along with a shirt that covers my large rear assets, will put on enough makeup to suggest that I care, and will drive my oil leaking, non-working driver's window (that has now been securely shut with a screw...wish I were kidding) and transmission slipping carriage to work.

Once I arrive, I'll pour another cup of coffee if the people who refuse to make coffee and leave 1/8 of an inch remaining in the bottom don't beat me to it first...causing me to huff and puff and mumble (happens at least twice a week) and shuffle back to my desk. I will then pick up the same file I've worked for each of the past five years (because I am somewhat working in the work version of the movie "Groundhog Day") and will try to figure out if these people made any money or not last year (like anyone actually did) and deserve a continuance of their existing line of credit. Such is my life.

I love my job, but sometimes I'm in such dire need of a vacation that I run out of things to entertain myself with during the workday. Some days...even Collective Soul and Pearl Jam just aren't enough on Pati (the iPod). I am going on vacation in three weeks, and I really need the time off. I'm headed to Pennsylvania, by the way, to pay a long overdue family visit. As I am headed north, and I'm sure that with my accent, it will be immediately clear that "I ain't from around there." People will probably just ask me to talk...I think that people from the north really don't believe that we actually talk the way that we do, and so, like a trained seal, I will most likely comply.

If you are reading this, I'd appreciate any comments that you have. Some of you were expecting it to be more entertaining, and because I've had a quiet weekend, there has been little to really make me laugh. I'm sure that within the next 24 hours someone or something will catch my attention in a way that I just have to relay it here. Maybe...maybe not. So, you "Erma K" crowd...just bear with me. I'm just so tired right now that the only thing that makes me laugh is the letter to the manager of "Always" maxi pads that a friend sent me a year ago referring to their "Have a Happy Period!" campaign. Just thinking about it is already making me smile. Later!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today at Church

Today we went to the 8:00 service (Contemporary) and had great intentions of staying for Sunday School, but just didn't manage it. We had our senior pastor as the teaching pastor in this service instead of our regular teaching pastor. While he did an excellent job with this particular sermon, I did notice that I was somewhat annoyed with this intrusion into my normal worship routine, and I really do not understand where that was coming from. They are both excellent speakers, but have drastically different teaching styles. We attend the Contemporary Service primarily because we happen to like our regular teaching pastor's teaching style or we would be in "Big Church" as we call it...on a regular basis in the first place. Naturally, we do not attend Big Church in part because I would have to dress up, and I only own two dresses. Unfortunately, both dresses are identical; just different sizes. The larger one drags the ground, and the smaller one hits about mid-calf. I know that they are different, but nobody else would. Besides, they are the universal color of fat with almost every pair of pants I own save the navy ones and the gray ones. I don't even really know why I wear pants at all, since they tend to ride just below my bra (ala Steve Urkel). I'd really just like to wear a shift (ie mou-mou) and be done with it.

The lesson today was about the infaliability of the word of God and why we can trust it. I won't elaborate too much on that right here, because I happen to believe that you must come to the decision to believe the Bible...or not believe...on your own. Granted, I also happen to believe that you don't even come to the point of decision without the work of the Holy Spirit in the first place. So, a lot of people sit in church each Sunday believing that they will be pursued, and will continue to sit there week after week with no divine revelation. Some eventually get burned out, some drag the world into the church and build their own little power base that suits their needs as a sad little substitute to true service, and others just wait it out.

I find that the burnouts are the most vehemently opposed to "church people" and I strongly suspect that these people likely had reasonable expectations regarding faith on the front end, were probably raised in the church and may have even witnessed firsthand the work of God in the lives of their loved ones. They just tend to feel like everyone is being spoken to by God and that they do not possess the decoder ring. Truth be told...they probably don't.

The second group, in my humble opinion, is the most despicable, because their mere presence dams up the flow of love and service that is supposed to occur in the body of Christ. Nobody needs to manage something indefinitely. I believe that we are all here to serve in different ways for brief periods on a fluid basis.

Kind of start out as a young married couple, and you work in food service. Later, you have kids, and you keep the nursery, teach Sunday School, or work Vacation Bible School or camp. As your children get older, you focus on the short term projects - like Angel Tree - and you help out the Youth group. As they move on, you start working in other areas - including mentoring other younger people. When you are retired, you do those jobs in the afternoon that others simply cannot do because they are at work. If you are housebound, you write letters, pray, and you do what you can for as long as you can.

The group that just gets in there and squats out their power base destroys the natural flow of things and the initiative that is, quite frankly, God given. People believe that their service for God as perceived by others is more important than their service for God as perceived by God. While they are busy keeping the people that God really wants to serve out, they are also missing out on the experiences that God wants them to have.

So, God has to reroute the people He intended to other posts and then has to fill the spots that the squatters refuse to relinquish with other people. Since He has to work around everyone's free will, I'm sure that there are times that He just has to hit the pause button with some just to time everything out. Those on "pause" don't want to be on pause, so they try different things. It must be the cosmic equivalent of herding cats.

The third group are the saddest to me, in that they sit there faithfully, week after week, waiting for God to call them off of the bench. They are passive about their faith and its application. Instead of looking for an opportunity that is right in front of them, they tend to misinterpret what it actually is - a call to service. I know a lot of faithful, God-loving people who sincerely do not know what to do at all.

I suppose that I've concluded that I've been in the third group for quite awhile after feeling like the first group and working through that, and then finally giving up and bypassing the second one. Most days I sit waiting for the next assignment.

However, I will tell you that the assignments have been coming to me on a far more regular basis lately. The assignments have also been incredibly random: tutoring college kids, serving as president of my Phi Mu chapter's brand new Chapter Association, secretary for my Neighborhood Association, blogger/eBayer/Facebook explorer, speaker for the 10th grade girls Bible study, member of a new card club (that gives me hours of enjoyment after I leave), organizer of the mothers of Jill's classmates monthly luncheons (reminders), and chairman of the graduation reception at Trinity next year. All of this in 2009. Whoever is praying for me out there...thanks.

And while you are praying...please pray that I'll have the discipline to keep trying to lose weight. My family bought the iPod (Pati) for me to use while I exercise. Well, I use it to focus while at work. I am sure that I am one of the few people who uses Def Leppard to relax. However, those of you who know me are not truly surprised by this revelation at all.

Speaking of music...I am about to start something else that is quite unique and hope that you will enjoy the journey with me. Most of you do not share my musical tastes - nor I yours. You would be as nuts listening to Nirvana as I am listening to a cantata. I listen to music for the words and how it makes me feel. You listen for beauty, technical expertise and inspiration. I get that.

I will say, however, that listening to Susan from Britain transcended even my prejudices. I do like most show music (except Hairspray...which seriously gets on my nerves). I even have ABBA on Pati, although I'll admit that I skip it the second it comes on if I am "shuffling songs." There's just something wrong about listening to my favorite song of all time...Collective Soul's "December" and then having the first few bars of "Fernando" follow that. I didn't like "Fernando" the first time it came out and I sincerely do not like it now. Thankfully, it was omitted from "Mamma Mia" - the Broadway play or the movie.

More on music to follow. For those of you who don't think you'll ever like what I listen me. You may not like everything, but I think you'll understand why it is that I do...other than the fact that this part of me just never grew up. Later!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bad Movies

I have just spent the past three hours pouring over Facebook, Twitter, this blog, e-mail, and eBay. In the background, primarily because the kids are not in the house, I am watching a movie that is funny but so incredibly crude that I wonder why I have let it cycle back around. Oh yes...I'm watching it for the SECOND TIME. What kind of idiot does that? I suppose that because I love Kate Hudson...and like Dane Cook if he's on regular TV and they've cleaned up about a third of what he says. Good heavens. If this movie is like real life...and at least one source of information coming into this house indicates that it is...I must be older than I feel.

Tomorrow will be spent going to early church, and cleaning up this house. We spent the majority of the afternoon on various car lots looking for something to purchase. Naturally, we are looking for something that is affordable, safe, and "cute". Like most things in life, when there are three choices, you will get two of the can get a cheap, cute car, but it will be older. OR you can get a safe, affordable car, but it will be the vehicular version of the lady with the great voice on British Idol (or whatever they call it.) [OH, and if you have not heard Susan really need to find her on YouTube...or just turn on any random TV and there she'll be.] The third option is a safe, cute, car...but it'll cost ya. Yep, like most choices in life when there are three they say...two out of three ain't bad.

I just got a sweet text message from Her Highness. Hey! Maybe she's reading these. Nah. Later!

So, it's been twenty years...

Try not to pass out or anything...but I have signed up for a Facebook account. I have been familiar with Facebook since a guy friend of my daughter's had an obsession with it in 2005, and both of my kids currently have Facebook accounts. I have no intention of trying to be their "friend" as it is difficult enough simply being their mother.

Her Highness has noted that it is "weird" when parents try to talk to kids, and so in that vein, I don't want to be friends with anyone under the age of 30. Just between us, I'm quite terrified of what might actually be on the pages of the "under 30 crowd." I trust my kids, but I don't know if I need that much information on anyone else's. I've seen a few pages of kids that I know (ironically from church) that were beyond the pale and was so stunned by what I saw that I had to remind myself that these "kids" are over 21. I suppose they have every right to stand next to their beer pyramid for a long as they didn't drive home afterwards. The bunny wannabe striking the pose that was shared with cyberspace (and any subsequent blowback)...well, that is her problem. If she doesn't know better by age 21...when the ignorance card has been fully played...then I suppose that these photos were a fully informed adult decision. Would I go back to being 21 again? Um, no thank you...with the possible exception of the figure that I had then. Yeah, the one I had when I thought I was "fat." As if.

Last weekend, while under the influence (pun intended) of the sugar high brought on by simultaneous consumption of two varieties of cake (37 points) at the Easter lunch in Birmingham (which was fabulous, by the way)...I picked up my niece's computer and started a Facebook account. It was really has even taken the picture from the NY trip in December that is the most recent photo I have allowed (Twitter would not). I am, therefore, using a photo from 2006 on my Twitter page. I am standing there with my nephew (now 3 1/2) who was 8 months old at the time. We were in Paris. My hair was in a ponytail, and I look really happy (sleep deprivation). But...I WAS lighter. Enough said.

Anyway, I signed up...and then pretty much forgot about it.

That is...until I opened my e-mail and saw a "friend" invitation from the one person I really wanted to friend, Kay, that I worked with at Union Bank. She is from Troy, and also attended Troy State (as we referred to it then)...but was in a different sorority. She somehow found me (probably a suggestion because of the Troy link) and sent me a friend invitation. I then decided to see who else was out there, sucked it up and uploaded the picture, and just let it fly.

To my amazement, I've found my former sorority sisters everywhere. I've sent friend invitations to at least five of them, and I hope that they remember who I am. I'm thinking of digging my old composite out of the bread box that it lives in with the other momentos of my high school and college years...and see who else is out there.

The funny thing was...I found myself shocked to see that me...have been busy raising families and living life...albeit in a parallel universe so to speak. I suppose I still see them as the girls that they were walking down the floor of Pace Hall in a towel, at Winter Formal, or sitting around with sparkling eyes during my White Bible ceremony. Now, they are wives, mothers, and career women. They are no doubt dealing with stress, husbands, children, and jobs.

Call it a giant paradigm shift on my part, but when you haven't seen someone in twenty plus years and then you reconnect, it is a little disconcerting. Almost like going to your high school reunion and seeing the nice, quiet kid as a very successful businessman, the jerk who treated girls poorly as bald, fat, and thrice divorced, and the mean girls who finally received everything they'd been due for years. Ironically, that last one is hard to watch because...if you are like'd wished it on them ten times over then and feel somewhat responsible for it now.

The funny thing is that most of my sorority sisters, and my friend, look as good or better than they did in college! I certainly don't...but it was inspirational to see!

The lives that we live...breathing in and out...dealing with this or that...moving forward and managing what is on our plates today...often causes us to file away people and experiences as the "past." These files are like photo albums that we fill and then put on a shelf...only to be visited when something prompts us to dust them off and enjoy them. I don't think that it is the way we mean for it to is just the way that it is. I know that I did that with these wonderful girls who shared my sisterhood and who were the center of my universe for that brief period in time. Fortunately for me, the Facebook vehicle has allowed me to revive those old memories and get an immediate virtual update of how their stories have played out these past twenty years or so.

Several weeks ago, I received an invitation to attend a meeting in Troy to consider starting a Chapter Association for the sorority. I have been working with some very wonderful women who want to get it going...and to find the 900+/- girls who are our sisters. Being in a sorority doesn't end when you graduate. I can...but it doesn't have to be that way. We feel the need to reconnect now that we are starting to clean up and renovate these nests of ours that are starting to empty out. Plus, the current chapter needs support and - obviously - money to make some improvements to the house. Funny that they have a house...we had a "chapter room." However, the table that is in the TV room looks eerily familiar to the one that was in the chapter room in 1985...and probably is.

So, I'm wondering if that "hey, let's see what this Facebook thing is all about..." was more than I expected when I just initially followed a whim and signed on. Who knows? Maybe it was God kindly reminding me that I've had more in my life than just the raising of children or the sale of my time to a career. Perhaps I am supposed to learn more of the stories that we've all been writing. You all know I love a good story...and of course...closure.

On another "note"(hee hee)... I'm still tweeting away. I've put the tweets to the side of this blog so that you can see what the deal is. My very favorite part, of course, is following people. I'm currently following some nice people that I don't know...but seem to have interesting lives...and some famous people as well. My favorite is the group Collective Soul...which if you know me at all...know that it is my favorite. The guys seem very normal and fun in spite of the fact that they have written some really great music. They are currently preparing another album for release in August...and I'm very excited about that.

I'm sure that everyone is mentioning Twitter and you remain unaware of exactly what that is. Nor do most of you have the time or inclination to care. Leave it to your obsessive little friend to brave that for you. As if I need yet another obsession. (Hey! I see you rolling your eyes right now.) Later!