Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Letting It Run Its Course

Today a friend was at home with a sick son and was stressing a bit because he has not eaten in a few days. The usual medications were prescribed and dehydration had been addressed...but she was just worried that he didn't seem to be improving. Sometimes, illnesses just have to run their course. And while it certainly is no fun at the time, it must be endured.

Another friend has been going through some health issues with her mother, and is celebrating that they have completed the course of treatment. Now what is left to do is to wait, hope, and pray. They know that God is in control, but they also want to be the recipients of an overwhelmingly positive message from the tests. And I for one believe that they will get it.

But while illnesses and treatments generally follow a normal healing pattern, matters of the heart are a little trickier...to say the least.

Several weeks ago, my daughter was dealing with the various emotions that accompany a breakup. She was sad, in denial, angry, and then finally accepted it. Since that time, she has had a fairly active social life, but says that she is now quite interested in remaining single for the time being. The pain had to run its course...which cleared the way for her to look ahead.

Or at least I hope so. All of my posturing about having a young man pursue her that was strong enough to actually pick up the telephone has apparently been honored in the universe. Oh my. Guess we will have to see if THIS runs its course as well.

We normally associate something negative in our lives as something that we must tolerate for a period of time. We are so focused on the end result - having it stop - that we often miss the little reassurances, blessings, and growth through the pain, healing, or changes. As I see it, the time something runs its course is going to pass either way...you might as well make it productive.

I think that in these times when we are waiting God is closest to us. He is giving us the opportunity to change our perspective and get outside of our comfort zone a little bit. Often we will tap inner strength that we didn't know we had. As we struggle, He is watching us to see if we will fight or surrender to whatever it is, and He waits for us to ask for help.

And perhaps he allows us to struggle a little so that we start stripping away all of the unnecessary pieces that are weighing us down. I know that when I did the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer walks in 2000 and 2001, I left perfectly good items in trash cans along the route, because I got to a point where finishing the 60 mile course was far more important than holding onto anything that could easily be replaced.

So, as my friends are making sure that their family members are moving toward healing, they are offering nourishment, encouragement, prayer, and love to help get them there. My daughter has survived another "walk through the valley of the shadow of loser" (a phrase stolen from my friend, Carrie), and is currently on the telephone giggling with someone I'm told has a wonderful personality.

Or, perhaps - this, too, will run its course as well. We shall see...


Monday, June 29, 2009


When I was about seven or eight years old, and living in Jackson, Mississippi, I fell in love with the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. I've never really been a tremendous Lennon or even a Beatles fan beyond normal appreciation then or since. But for whatever reason, I latched onto that song and went on and on about it until someone bought me the album.

There was something in the lyrics...before I actually grew up and understood them... that caught my attention...even as an eight year old. While some of the lyrics might be debatable, I believe that they describe how earth will be after Christ comes. Plus, the lines, "...You may say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one. I hope some day you'll join us...and the world will live as one" still sounds like a good plan to me.

Tonight I looked up and saw the word "Imagine" in black all capital letters as a sign sitting on top of the cabinets in my kitchen. I have two, actually. The other one reads "Be Happy." I suppose I thought that being reminded of these words every day would be inspirational. And in some small way...they are.

I'm now well into adulthood and have found that I have grown into some of the dreams I had for myself as a child. Granted, I had to give up a few: being a member of The Partridge Family, being able to sing beautifully, learning and being graceful doing modern dance, having four children, being a lady of leisure, and owning a Golden Retriever. I mean, some of these might actually come true in some form or fashion down the road...but for the most part...I let them go.

When my dreams started stalling several years ago, I started dreaming big dreams for my children. And while I'd love for their lives to be perfect, it is up to them to dream their own dreams and make them happen. I am a spectator who occasionally gets to participate in the game. But little do they know that they have already fulfilled many of the dreams that I had for them already. I'm insanely proud of both of them.

I would like to imagine myself back to a normal weight, not exhausted, and with a whole lot more money, but for the most part, I am fine with where I am, who I am, and what I have. A lot of my life is far better than I would have ever imagined it for myself all of those years ago.

So, when I see someone chasing their dreams, I applaud. When I watch someone having something wonderful happen to them, I rejoice. And I continue to imagine a better life for myself...and my family. And for those seeds of future dreams that are planted in the soil of the hearts of those I love, I try to add the warmth of my love, the water of my praise, and the necessary pruning when the need arises.

I think of the eight year old girl who used to listen to John Lennon and write poetry...and the forty-six year old version of that girl who is now listening to Collective Soul and Foo Fighters and is writing a blog. I guess some things we imagine for ourselves then and what they later become may not be exactly the same...but are close enough for comfort. And I imagine that's okay...


Saturday, June 27, 2009


Back in the day...before personal computers or cell phones, there were boys and there were girls. In most cases, beginning somewhere in the junior high years, one party or the other would instigate communication intended to decipher the feelings or intentions of the other. In simple terms: people were attracted to each other and paired up. While there were same-sex unions then, and there are now...I'm going to assume for purposes of this discussion that there are boys who like girls and girls who like boys. Only for simplicity, and because I understand that dynamic better.

The ritual of pairing up has taken many different forms and turns since the beginning of time including arranged marriages, layaway programs (Jacob in the Bible), multi player models (one guy...a gazillion wives), good old fashioned love at first sight, war brides, friends then lovers, and now...the internet and Match.com.

But it still boils down to this: two people are somewhat remotely possibly interested in getting to know each other better. They are willing to spend time to determine if this is something that they want more of...or want to run screaming from as quickly as possible.

In the 1980's, the dating ritual involved finding out who someone was, getting your friends to intervene, using the rotary telephone (or push button if you were "uptown"), driving by the person's house, attending ball games, and just randomly showing up in the hopes of seeing them and then eventually getting to hang out with them. If they did or didn't like you...normally everyone knew...because you had to go through friends and acquaintances to get from point A to point B. So, you had to be really sure...and really careful...since if it did or didn't work out...everyone would be aware of what was going on and it would be the topic de jour.

And as long as it wasn't you...it was interesting to follow. Because of this...many mothers today are trying to follow the exploits of their daughters who are managing the ritualistic dating dance in a totally brave new world. And they wonder why we are so interested in who they are talking to and why. Well, it was all that training years and years ago of trying to figure out the twists and turns of relationships with our friends that make us annoyingly inquisitive now to our daughters. The truth is that we'd just like to utilize the skill set that we so carefully honed once upon a time.

Today, if there is someone that my daughter is interested in...all she has to do is send a "friend invitation" or accept his on Facebook. Facebook friendship for the younger set is far less discriminating. You can be friends with tons of people that you not only do not know...but do not really care to know. As a friend...you are then free to delve into the pictures everyone has tagged to the individual, find out who his friends are, what his ex-girlfriend looked like and pretty much any pertinent data short of his blood type.

The "status" on Facebook can be changed from "in a relationship" to "single" and prompt a flurry of discussion...and telephone calls to the now unattached. And this can be watched over time, kind of like a virtual buzzard flying over some poor soul's relationship. Trust me, I've seen THAT one in action as recently as last month.

Wait...did I say telephone calls? I lied. I meant TEXT MESSAGES. Yep, they can find out someone's phone number by finding out who her friends are and asking one of them that he knows. Shouldn't be too hard...they probably have 100 or so in common.

See, today's young man can be turned down without actually having to man up and ask her out. He doesn't have to start out with a telephone call and figure out something to say to her. If he texts her something brainless like "Whazzup?" and she doesn't talk to him...well...no biggie. Nobody knows that she isn't interested...but him. And that's okay. Sort of.

If she is somewhat intrigued...she will check out his profile to see if he is worth even responding to. She may be a little freaked out by a picture posted the night before of the caller and a very attractive female. She may not know that it's his sister. If she sees this first...she may not respond to the text because she doesn't want to get into a catfight with some girl over a guy she barely knows. He will realize that she hasn't responded...thinks she isn't interested, and move on. Then the girl will wonder why he texted her once and then went away.

All done without getting emotionally involved at any level...and with an off the charts laziness quotient (except for the cyberstalking).

Today, Jill met someone on a fraternity river float (whatever that is). By her description, I was able to locate him on Facebook. I found out where he lives (home address) on the fraternity website. I also know his first name (which is interesting and likely a source of mortification for him) because he showed up on the Dean's List in 2007. All by the magic of technology. And NO, I am not normally a cyberstalker...unless you count Collective Soul and Foo Fighters YouTube videos and interviews. In these cases, I'm guilty as charged.

And we wonder why boys are so lazy now that they wait until a girl pursues THEM. Well, why wouldn't they? By just hanging out with Miss Right Now...they don't have to look for Miss Right in person. They can just find someone to hang out with/date/talk to on the internet. Scary, isn't it?

I have found that cyberstalking is so prevalent that most of the kids I know do it. They put their lives online...and then they manage the emotional part of it without benefit of having to actually have a conversation with someone. So weird.

I suppose that I miss the days where you actually waited for a phone call. Now, you wait for a text message. A little different, don't you think? You miss the voice inflections, the nervousness that tells you that they really do like you, and the joy that comes from three hour phone conversations about nothing.

Oh well. Here's hoping that my future son-in-law is a little more "old school." Later!

Friday, June 26, 2009

There Are No Words

I have always been a "word" person. I love to talk, read, write, document, journal, blog, or anything else involving the spoken or written word. I probably missed my life's calling as a high school English teacher or a book editor. In fact, my job now involves writing...interpreting financial statements and putting the data in a format that people can read to clue them in on the viability of a loan request. It is like fact based creative writing.

I feel that this must be a God given passion and one that He apparently values since we have the Bible as proof. It is the only book or publication that I have read and not found a single error.

Sometimes, though, there are occasions where there are just no words that seem adequate for the situation. I mean, you can say something...but you'll almost wish that you hadn't and you'll find yourself floundering around in the sea of political correctness. Or, you'll try to be philosophical and end up sounding insincere and like you ripped off what you are saying from the inside of a Hallmark card. I mean...sometimes it is just tacky to say what you are REALLY thinking. And you know that we don't tolerate tackiness in the South.

Like looking at someone's scrapbook and turning to the wedding photos of their son and daughter-in-law's nuptuals. You instandly notice that something isn't quite right. You realize that it is the tattoo on her shoulder and the one on her arm and the one on her lower back. She finds it necessary to have one of those low cut wedding dresses so that it can be displayed properly. Yeah. "Lovely girl" just doesn't seem to fit. If people want to get tattoos...that is fine. But sometimes, just for the sake of decent wedding photos...we need to cover that stuff up. Either that, or get married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator.

You then flip forward a few pages and see her daughter's wedding. The groom looks shell-shocked and the pictures emphasize that sweat is pouring out of his body onto his tux. His Mama and Daddy are looking none too pleased. And then you realize that she looks a little heavier than when you saw her last. When was that?

Oh, wait! Now it's the honeymoon pictures. You see that she's standing barefoot on the porch of a cabin with a huge Confederate flag draped across the front of it. From this particular angle... you put it all together pretty quickly.

A few pages (and six months later according to the dates on the scrapbook)...you see the new grandbaby. Mystery solved.

Or you are talking to someone beside you at the doctor's office...and they start out making polite conversation. And before you know it, you have found out more about their life than you are really comfortable knowing including most of their indiscretions of youth, arrest record, number of sexual partners, and how much they make. Granted, there are people who have absolutely no filter with people they know...but with random people who sit beside them at the OB/GYN? What do you say? A paternity test...really? I mean...there just are no words.

Perhaps you are somewhere and it becomes abundantly clear that you have absolutely nothing in common with anyone in the general vicinity...and you are there for a week. Their lives are the equivalent of one continuous mission trip, alcohol has never touched their lips, and they refuse to watch network TV because someone said "damn" in 1974. You are afraid to speak for fear that they will find out that you actually go five miles over the speed limit sometimes. So you sit and smile...and keep your mouth shut for fear that they will know that you have actually entertained an evil thought...not to mention acted on quite a few.

My personal favorite...shopping with friends. Someone asks my opinion about some ghastly outfit they are thinking of wearing out in public. I don't like to lie, and since I find it totally tacky to flaunt one's cleavage...I often have difficulty saying "that's trashy" on that single basis alone. Women vary greatly on the whole cleavage argument...and many women just accept it as a fact of life. Having never really been the possessor of cleavage, I don't particularly enjoy seeing it. So, I honestly am floored when they are concerned that the length of the garment is too short or too long, when my attention is drawn to the fact that the "girls" are planning a mutiny in the front.

Then there are the people who just ask something directly like..."why don't you lose weight?" as they stand there with their high metabolism and 4% body fat. Or people who will directly ask you how much you make, if you are going to have (or are through having) children, or how much you paid for your house, car, or vacation. On one hand you don't want to be rude, but on the other hand, it is truly none of their business.

I find that for someone who loves words, there are times when they fail me. I make it a policy now not to exaggerate (except to jest), lie, or speak the truth unkindly. Sometimes I find, though, that there are a few antidotes to these situations. Here are a few I've learned. I am not taking credit for all of these...because most of them I read somewhere else. I'm just compiling them for you.

When someone has a lifestyle that is not in line with yours, and does not see the ridiculousness of taking a traditional ceremony (ie wedding) and turning it into a circus, just be glad it isn't your child. Be doubly glad if you aren't invited to go. My poor friend, Cindy, has a knack for being invited to weddings that are just too tacky...and my friend, Beve, is attending one in a few weeks. Cindy sent us photos from the last one via cell phone...which were precious...and Beve is trying to figure out which covered dish she wants to take to the reception. I kid you not.

If you find that someone has put "the cart before the horse" in the wedding arena...be glad that there is a marriage...and know that while a lot of marriages of this particular kind fail...a lot of them don't. Frankly, a small wedding is fine in these cases, but the full blown, doves released, $35,000 shindig is totally tacky...especially if everyone knows why they are gathered.

If someone gives you personal information that you are not prepared to deal with ask, "have you talked to a professional counselor or your minister about this?" That usually clues them in that they are oversharing. If not, pick up your purse and say, "I have to take this call..." and then go out to the hall and act like you are on the cell. Actually call somebody so you won't be lying. (I have actually done this. By the time I got back...they had called her in. Thank heavens.)

When you are in foreign territory, just be yourself. God may have put you there to straighten out a few Pharisees. I have been in this particular situation more times than I care to mention. I've found that when I open the barn door of reality, it is amazing what runs out into the light. No lie.

With regard to how someone looks. Tell your friend that the offending outfit is "not my favorite" and hope that she gets the message. Sometimes, she will ask you why...to which you respond, "because your boobs are hanging out in the front." If you don't tell her... she'll probably be mortified to hear women trashing her in the bathroom while she is in the stall and locked in a full debate about whether they are real or not. In this area...be a friend...it is tacky NOT to be.

If someone asks you a rude question, ask them in return (with a smile, of course)..."why do you want to know?" That shuts them up. If not, go, "seriously, why do you want to know?" over and over until they get the message or give YOU an answer. (They won't.)

Hope that this is helpful...good luck out there! Later!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

For My Children...

In light of having my mind on loss today...I want to put my list of hopes for my children. It isn't exhaustive...but it does represent my dreams for them. So...here goes...

I hope that in your lifetime…every year…you will witness a miracle.

That you will have a sweet love story to relay to your children and grandchildren.

That your health is excellent and your lifestyle choices are wise.

That if you are sensitive, that you learn to channel it so that you cry fewer tears of frustration and pain...and can strengthen your heart, with God’s help, into something valiant. If you are less sensitive by nature, I hope that God will touch your heart often enough to keep it pliable.

That you wear the “cloak of humility” enough to keep you grounded, but that it not be so heavy that it leaves you stunted.

That your eyes will not only see what is there, but what could be.

That your ears will not only hear what is said, but what is meant.

That your relationships will be in inverse order of the world’s teaching: spiritual, social, emotional then physical, instead of physical, emotional, social, and then spiritual. (I actually got this from Chip Ingram.)

That you learn to do one thing really well and that it gives you an outlet.

That you grow up without growing old.

That you learn the difference between wants and needs.

That you have the opportunity to have one thing in your life teach you the value of patience and persistence. It isn’t all about instant gratification.

That you are able to watch your parents experience the joy of having at least one of their dreams for you come true. And that you will experience that same joy with your children.

That you learn to write a thank you note and a message in a sympathy card. If you don’t know the purpose of either, and depend on other people to do this for you, then you are missing more in life than you know.

That you know how to defend your faith.

That you will learn how to use the gifts God gave you to bless others and work for the advancement of His kingdom. May you never detest the gifts, hide them, or think of them as unworthy for use.

That you will never spend one minute of regret for the negative outcome of a situation you could have avoided. I hope you choose wisely. But even if you don't...that you will know that redemption exists.

That you will not become bored with the things you have, but will instead be overwhelmed with God’s generosity to you…so much so that you are compelled to share your blessings with others.

That you will have people in your life who will encourage you, who you will want to be better because of your association with them, and who think better of you than you think of yourself.

May you always know that no matter how many fans you have, God is still your biggest cheerleader, and your parents aren’t far behind.

That you will never allow a disappointment to define your life.

That you will be a good steward of what you are given.

That you will be sensitive to God’s urging.

That you will realize that most things happen exactly on time...and that time is generally far later than is convenient. Rarely does God act until the last possible minute. He does this, I think, to remind us who’s really in charge. Never give up. Even past the time that you think something should have occurred. It may be a “no.” More than likely, it is a “not now.”

That you never expect the worst. If you do, that’s probably what you’ll get. When your life is spinning out of control on the road of life, don’t look at the wall you are about to hit. Put your eyes back on the road. Where your eyes are is where the car is going a lot more often than not.

That you always find a silver lining.

That you know how incredibly lucky I feel to have you in my life.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sun is Shining

Several years ago, my grandmother (Gammy) and I went to the Chinese restaurant in Thomaston for an order of orange chicken...her absolute favorite. We ate our meal - which in my case took about 20 minutes, and in hers...over an hour...but I digress. After the meal, when the bill arrived, as is the custom in most Chinese restaurants...we received our fortune cookies as well.

I opened mine and read it. I don't remember what it was...so it was obviously not terribly profound. Then Gammy opened hers and asked me to read it for her. Hers said, "The sun is shining."

I kid you not.

She was not particularly pleased with this fortune and after requesting and receiving an alternative that was obviously about as meaningful as mine was, her fortune - or perceived lack thereof - became quite hilarious to us. For whatever reason...that memory has stuck with me. I can still see the room and her reaction to it. What I certainly didn't recognize at the time, though, was how profound that particular message really was.

How many times in our lives do we look for the sun to be shining? Definitely on our vacation week. After weeks of rain or gray winter days...we love to feel the warmth on our cheeks. And during other times that are far more dark and difficult...through the worst of the chemo...to the next morning when we wake alone...to profound disappointment over a failure. Our souls scream out for just a little ray of light...so that we can hold onto just a thread of the hope that comes accompanies it.

We can tolerate an awful lot of gray if we know that somewhere ahead the sun is shining. People will encourage us as they point us toward the light at the end of the tunnel, or keep cheering for us to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

For some people, the sun seems to refuse to shine. And at these moments we have to hold on to our faith. We must hold on with the knowledge that one day the clouds will lift...and we will see that we've been carried through the storm because the Son is shining on our path and our life. Sometimes we may not see his presence...but we can certainly feel it.

So, tonight as I sit in a semi-clean room, with both of my children home and well, my husband snoring and with warm memories of a very special lady, I am seeing a little light ahead. Here's hoping that you are as well.

P.S. Not knowing that this would be my subject tonight...I am reflecting on the irony of what I just had to have for lunch today...Chinese food. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today was one of those days where I had a bad attitude. It started last night at Weight Watchers when I learned that I had only lost 1/2 pound instead of the four or twelve that I was hoping to drop. Then I came home and found out some information that I was really not happy about but was explained and I felt a little better. After that, I just zoned out in front of the computer watching Foo Fighters videos and staring at the hopeless mess that is my bedroom.

And while I cannot drop the weight I want to overnight, I could certainly do something about this room. But before I do...I need to do something about this attitude.

You see...how you are viewing the world at any given point in time is a lens through which everything else is viewed. If you are stressed about money...then every little thing that is unexpected is a big fat hairy deal. You will go absolutely ballistic because you have to spend $25 to change the oil in the car. If you see the economy as terrifying and crumbling...then every stock market drop or plant closing will cause your blood pressure to rise.

So, I suppose...if you start seeing the world as God intends for you to...with Him in control rather than your circumstances ruling things...then it stands to reason that you'll see things considerably more positive as a result. Right?

I have to admit...I have been freaking out this week...something that I don't entertain often and certainly don't enjoy. Truth be told...it is also something that is certainly not biblical. Worry's antidote is in Phillippians 4:6-7.

Today just was not a good day in that I just gave in to the misery instead of looking up instead. My day was something like this:

7:35 I'm supposed to be leaving for work to arrive on time...but I have been downloading Foo Fighters songs on iTunes. I have a dilemma...on time...or with my iPod (and my sanity). The latter wins.

8:03 I finish downloading, get in the car and arrive at work about 15 minutes later.

8:30 Finish something minor and then go online to sign my Master Promissory Note for financial aid at Alabama. This should have been done in November...but whatever. The process is supposed to take 10 minutes. This time limit assumes that you won't be interrupted.

8:35 Five minutes into the 10 minute process...someone calls with a work related question. I answer it.

8:45 Back to the stupid form...WHAT? Timed out? FINE...

8:50 Back to the same place in the form when coworker from next door interrupts me to tell me that someone is about to call me for a form that I created about 10 years ago as a lender. I tell her that it will be a few minutes...but naturally she puts the call through anyway. Apparently, I also did not say this nicely enough as I'm trying desperately not to time out again...and she takes offense. She signals this to me by closing her door...hard.

8:55 Form done...on to coffee.

8:57 Are you flipping kidding me? Which troll left 1/4 inch of coffee? OH, the one putting half of a packet of Splenda in his...which I find to be a total waste of his time. Why not the whole packet? Why? I hate to have my head spin around on this guy ala Linda Blair since he is the ONLY other person in the office that makes coffee other than yours truly. So instead, I just announce LOUDLY that it is annoying to have people just assume that other people will make it every single morning. One guy sticks his head out of his office because I have NEVER expressed myself to this degree in the year that we have all worked together in this building. Well...they know now.

9:02 I get my coffee and get back to my seat. I'm immediately asked if I've done something from 5:00 on Friday. Well...NO...because the guy sent it at 5:00 on Friday. I didn't make a note. I will give him bonus points for the ace on the "pass the buck" thing. Classic.

9:10 I start the 160 pounds of tax returns that I have to get through. This requires my Foo Fighters backup. I plug in and start out with "Monkey Wrench." The caffeine has kicked in. This is good.

11:30 Kids want lunch. I exhaust the majority of my points on this.

12:30 Back at work. Afternoon crawls...coworker from this morning still not speaking to me.

2:00 The air conditioning at work is not working properly. It is 80 degrees on our side of the building. Visions of the witch from the Wizard of Oz and "melting, melting" come to mind.

5:00 Leave work. Try to find a book at Books-a-Million. Fail to find book.

5:45 Go to Sonic drive-thru. Order two diet cherry limeades...they don't put the cherries in there...which just makes me sad...since it is my favorite part.

6:00 Pick up Jill. Listen to her rant about how Brian left her stuff in the car with him and how she needs it. This goes on for about an hour.

7:00 Jill and Big Dave go for a run. I get 30 minutes of peace.

7:30 The jerk on Twitter starts hounding me about not getting upset enough to suit him about something that we've been back and forth with for the past couple of weeks. He is SO blocked.

8:00 I start cleaning my room.

8:07 I give up.

11:18 I am writing this blog.

And my attitude still stinks. So, tonight before I go to sleep, I am going to note the following positive trends:

My sister, Linda, is arriving from France on Monday for 6 weeks.
I go on vacation in 10 days.
My daughter and son are both employed.
I'm employed.
The bills for June are paid.
David is working on a job and only has one client not paying on time.
He also has a couple of other people interested in bids.
My dog is not in season.
The pool liner has made it another year.
There's no way to lose enough weight to matter before vacation so...whatever.
The tuition for Alabama will be paid. Likewise with Trinity.
My son is dating someone and my daughter isn't.
I have a wonderful family and friends who tolerate me quite well.

I'm going to spend a lot of time looking up over the next 24 hours. I am obviously spiritually hungry. Later!

Monday, June 22, 2009


This morning before I left for work, I woke up to one of those random funky smells that you wish you could identify. Or not. And my first thought was..."hmmm...I'll bet one of the dogs left me a 'gift'". Fortunately...not.

Well, with that notable exception, don't we all love gifts?

Or not.

For me, gifts are getting more and more optional now in the physical sense. I have the ability to purchase anything that I really need, and many things that I want. When buying for others...I have stress of trying to buy the perfect gift for people who...like me...have everything that they need and then some.

I find now that I am older, the best gifts that I can give are the ones that are unique to me. And likewise, I love receiving gifts from others that reflect their talents, interests, and abilities.

My favorite gift last Christmas was the one that my friend Carol gave our scrapbooking group...a goat. Yeah!...it was though World Vision. How many people actually can say that they've received a goat as a gift? And the beauty was that I didn't have to do anything (like house it or feed it)...but smile.

Another friend sends me cards and surprises in the mail. She just loves to think of her friends and honor us with a small item or a note that lets us know how much she cares. One makes cards that I am supposed to give away to other people. I haven't quite mastered the surrendering part yet...but I love that she has faith in me. And then there is a friend who uses her enthusiasm and planning skills to keep me on track and my husband gainfully employed.

I also know people who make casseroles to take to people, take elderly people to the doctor, visit people in nursing homes, take in foster pets, teach people to make bread, and make scrapbooks for people because they ask. The funny thing is...most people do not see these activities as the gifts that they truly are to the recipients.

To me, the sharing of the gifts that we have is important and far more meaningful than buying items for people that they can easily buy for themselves. I mean...I like a gift card to Bonefish Grill as much as the next person. But, I find that what really touches my heart is a gift given by someone using the gifts that God has given them.

Many people miss the point that each of us is blessed with multiple gifts. We can all do something...make something...teach something. Our biggest barrier to doing this, however, is ourselves. Many of us do not fully understand how much we have to offer. The things that come easy for us are not fully appreciated by us. Talent that we did nothing to possess is often highly underrated.

How many times have we said..."oh...that's nothing..." when to someone else it is not only impressive but perfect for them? We somehow miss the fact that although something isn't difficult for us...it is so that we will be generous in sharing that ability. And when we don't - because of our insecurities - people miss out.

I think of people who can decorate, arrange flowers, paint, sing, write songs, play the guitar or teach children...and I am amazed. I can do none of those things without effort. Instead of being energized...I am drained in the attempt. But if you need something written, or thought out, edited, or someone to talk to about something troubling you...I'm your girl.

I find that when I can quiet my inner dragons...those feelings that my offering is insufficient...I am often surprised by how blessed people are when I do what God put me here to do. I am likewise blessed by other people employing their unique and special gifts.

So, as you ponder giving something in the coming weeks...think first of what you can give of yourself. Don't be afraid...step out there. The wonderful thing is that you will probably be unexpectedly blessed in the process.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day, and as I write this, it is nearly almost over. Having spent time today enjoying family and seeing a movie marked what turned out to be a very nice...albeit extremely hot day for the first day of summer.

Today I am very grateful for the fathers in my life, and as much as I feel led to write about what I am feeling, the words are somewhat stuck in my throat. I do not believe this to be a result of writer's block...but as the result of having a lot of important things to say all at once. It is kind of like being at a formal dinner and taking a bite of something that was deceptively large and then having someone ask you a question. The time it takes to chew behind your napkin seems interminable. I hope that reading this won't seem the same...

So here goes...

There have been many special people in my life who for whatever reason in place or time...have filled the role of a father. I believe that daughters (especially) put a lot of pressure on one person...our Dad...to be every man to us. In fact, it is my personal belief that this tendency is something that they probably don't even comprehend. While our mothers are more likely to love us in spite of what we do, what we look like, how well we perform, or who we turn out to be...we seem to instictively understand that our fathers may or may not. Unfortunately, our view of ourselves, our gifts, and our value stems from how our father relates to us. And much like we remember any negative comment that a young man makes during adolescence, it seems even more painful and harder to bear if those comments...or any judgment...comes from our fathers.

Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond their control...or ours...there seems to be a mismatch between the gifts or abilities of a father and the child that he is given to parent. And while some children have a strong sense of self...others are just slower to develop.

As a child, I grew up with divorced parents before this was more socially acceptable. I had also been an only child for the first six years of my existence. By the time my sister was becoming a real little person...I was not only competing for attention...but I was competing for it from one parent. For an overly sensitive child, who was high maintenance to say the least...this became the beginning of a rough road ahead.

Skipping forward a decade, I tried to figure out how and where I fit in...and I never seemed to get it right. I have forgiven myself for being stupid and stubborn...but it is hard to apologize for being young. A less sensitive or a compliant child would have had an easier time...in fact, my sister did. But for me...the kid who needed a lot of reassurance...not having that put me into a spiral. This spiral finally ended in a gas station parking lot in Fort Deposit, Alabama when I met Big Dave in 1983.

After going home with a girlfriend for the weekend, I met David and I decided to transfer to another college in Alabama. My home life was very positive, my grade point average soared, and I found myself actually happy. I believe this to be the benefit of God's grace and timing...to bring me to maturity at an advanced rate. And as much as I do love the state of Georgia...it was not until I became a resident of Alabama did I really find myself...home.

I look back on those years now and am so grateful that I had the gifts of men in my life who probably do not fully understand their impact. Our across the street neighbors modeled marriage to me at a time when I needed to see that example. I believe that Mr. Billy put together many bicycles for me over the years, kept an eye out on my grandmother in her later years, and even saved my wedding day by getting black shoes for David from his store (on a Sunday). (Somehow...he ended up with white shoes and didn't notice until about four hours before the wedding.) Miss Charlene was a wonderful cook and never seemed to mind if I was there at dinnertime. I am sure that it was very inconvenient...but she always made me feel very welcome. I am grateful today for fathers like Mr. Billy (and for mothers like Miss Charlene.)

During my college years, I began to truly understand and respect my stepfather - Ralph - and build a relationship that seems to get stronger over time. He chose to support me both financially and emotionally...although he certainly didn't have to do so. It was his choice...and one that I understand...now that I am a parent. After the first initial rocky years of their marriage...he has never failed to believe the very best about me. He has never once suggested that I change...but has encouraged my strengths. He has told me numerous times that I can do anything that I set my mind to...and I believe that part of the reason I have is because he gave me the courage to try.

I've also had a wonderful father-in-law...who has always made me laugh...encouraged my efforts...and accepted me the way that I was. He has also been I also have a wonderful uncle, brothers-in-law, nephews and son. Each of these men in my life has been uniquely special to me.

I was blessed with a wonderful husband who has stuck it out with me for almost 24 years. It has not been an easy ride, but he would never admit this. I'm just grateful that he is the father of my children...who benefit from his love, care and concern.

And I have a father in Texas who has understood and accepted that sometimes we have to accept less than what we'd like in a relationship. He has a wonderful relationship with his three children in Texas, and I understand that there were limitations on both sides that just are what they are. I know that he cares, and I know that he tries...which is now enough for me. I am grateful for the family vacations, and feel that my strong sense of family is due to the fact that he took us to family reunions...and has made sure that we all spend time at the beach every year.

But on this Father's Day...I am most appreciative that all of these added a dimension that allowed me to realize that I've always had a perfect father in my heavenly one. And while I would not have picked my path...it has all turned out fine. There are days where I do wish it had been easier...but I also know that because it was a little "different"...I've been able to broaden my focus a bit. Through the years with the benefit of retrospect, I have been able to see that God gave me all that I really needed.

So, as you go through your week...think of all of the fine men who God used to bring you to maturity. Coaches, friends, fathers of your friends, neighbors, coworkers, family or in-laws...all are important...and all are on my mind this Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Miss International Hooters Wannabe

I am writing early in the afternoon today because I'm going to a friend's party tonight, and it is either this or cleaning my bedroom. Guess which won? I just walked in from outside where my daughter and one of her girlfriends are floating around the pool whining because our swimming pool feels more like a hot tub than the refreshing chlorinated mecca that it is supposed to be. Last time I got in two weeks ago...it was freezing. Well, after a week of 100 degree days...it is what it is.

While I was out there and we were discussing our plans for the evening, Jill mentioned that she was going to Hooters tonight because her friend's sister was in the International Miss Hooters Extravaganza tonight...which would be aired in the local Hooters restaurant from sunny Hollywood, Florida. Really?

I mean, REALLY, what do you say to THAT?

Somehow, "That's great!" didn't seem to fit, and certainly would have been in strong conflict with my inner feelings of "ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME?" Or, I even briefly thought about just going, "Really?" Unfortunately, my face is fairly easy to read...and lying is something I quit doing sometime in 1999 as my "New Millennium Resolution" or something.

As a result, if it is a choice between lying and not lying...I'm going with door #3, Monty..."say nothing". Granted, sometimes I get the jackass behind that curtain instead of the new car or boat...but at least I can sleep at night.

So, safe with my choice...I just stared. And after watching my inner struggle...her friend started to laugh...and said, "Hey, at least our family gets to eat free tonight." I'm thinking that Jill is going to be known as Chardonnay...so that she is in line with the other family names. My only request was..."if they try to recruit you, honey, just say no."


Now, this particular young lady who will be competing for this illustrious title is attractive and happens to have a beautiful voice. But then again...she is obviously Hooters-worthy, or she wouldn't be in the contest in the first place. Yet I struggle with wanting to give the family a high five for her success and sympathy for her choices simultaneously. It is quite an interesting dilemma.

Working at Hooters would probably fall into the top 10 list of occupations that I hope that Jill will not entertain along with pole dancing, topless waitressing, exotic dancing and being the next Octomom. And since I know the girl's parents...I'm pretty darn sure that this is probably in their bottom 10 as well.

So, what do you do when your beautiful daughter decides that she wants to be Miss International Hooters? I guess you show up for the free hot wings and move on.

I understand that her mother is currently composing a song called, "You Can't be a Hooter's Girl Forever." I suppose it is therapeutic. Frankly, I'd need some serious therapy if this is the route my kid had chosen to travel. Even so, I suppose I'd better shut up because I suppose that there are worse things out there than having a job that involves hanging out in the sun all day in Florida. And quite frankly...I don't want to know.


Friday, June 19, 2009

To My Future Son-in-Law

I am writing this to you in June 2009 as I listen to your future wife and her friend laughing at YouTube videos and pretending to study for Economics. She is a truly beautiful girl...even sitting in there with no makeup on and her hair looking like mine does every morning. She could have gone out tonight...but she didn't. She is content just to be at home.

I don't really know who you are...or maybe I do and just don't know it yet...but I assume that you are tall, probably brunette, and at some point played either football or baseball in high school...or both. I wouldn't be surprised if your choice of vehicle was a pickup truck or big SUV. I'd be willing to bet that you are from the South. Camo likely becomes you...and you are probably equally comfortable in a pair of Carhartt's and work boots. I know that you will be handsome with a great smile and kind eyes. At least that has been her type up to now.

I'm very sure that she will want to meet your family, and will be looking for some information that is critical to her. She will watch the way you treat your mother, and she will note the way that your mother treats her. If your mother does not like her...chances are...you will have a lot to overcome to win her heart. She has had one mother treat her poorly, and so it is higher up on her "needs" list than you might know. Although some girls won't...she will be interested in your siblings, cousins, and closest friends. She has an extended and rich view of "family" and will want to make sure that yours is a family where she is comfortable.

I sincerely doubt that you will be in the top 10% of your class...but I can dream, can't I? I do know that you will be smart enough to eventually be employable...because if you aren't...her Daddy and I would have already sent you on your way. My girl is extremely smart...but not in the classic sense. She has to work for her grades...and she does. She is extremely intelligent in very important ways...how to get things done, how to care for people, how to manage her time and money, and how to support those that she loves. She is not afraid to work, and is certainly not spoiled, extravagant, or demanding. Not unbearably so, anyway.

The only exceptions are that she does like her toenails painted and will want to look "cute" for you. She will never embarrass you by dressing inappropriately or not pulling herself together. She prides herself in looking nice...but is not vain or silly. She knows how to shop from the sale rack, and gets a kick out of getting something for almost nothing. She will also never spend without you knowing exactly what she is buying...and why. Not that you need to take advantage of that and try to control her...because it truly is not necessary. She values a dollar and has had a job in high school...and still does. She does not expect everything to be handed to her, and she will not waste her time or money...or yours.

I know that you will be somewhat athletic, and will end up joining a gym if you haven't already. She is serious about keeping herself in shape, and since she has her Dad out there running with her now...you can pretty much count on that as part of your life. Your couch potato days are over.

You may be a fraternity boy...but you don't have to be to draw her attention. She tends to look at the person and how they treat her far more than anything else. She won't try to "fix" you unless you originally had a problem with manners or grammar that needed to be pointed out. Life is too short to be embarrassed because someone eats like a caveman. She understands that what you do affects her and her future. So, I hope that you will always honor her by putting your best foot forward in all situations.

If you ARE in a fraternity, though, she will expect you to conduct yourself like a gentleman. There are party girls who will whoop it up and carry on...but as you know...she is NOT one. I suggest that you sow any wild oats you are planning to sow before encountering her...or you have missed your chance. If you met her at a fraternity party...I'd be willing to bet it was your night to be the designated driver when you did.

You are probably a dreamer and see possibilities in everything. I say this because she is a very literal thinker. That does not mean that she is not creative...she is. But, she has never been full of dreams of her own. She has chosen to be guided into areas where her skills could be developed. She is a go-getter...but she will need someone who can show her the possibilities and dream big dreams for her or with her. She will also need someone who sees the magic in life and will bring that magic to hers. I suspect that you are exactly this type of person. She will call you a "romantic." All I can say is that you had better put some effort into your proposal...if you want her to say yes...and you'd better go have that talk with her Daddy first...trust me...she will expect it.

I hope that you also are driven, outgoing, and able to deal with outspoken people. If the first two are true...you will complement each other well. If you can't take the third...you may want to rethink your stance on that. You will find that my daughter will push you to be your best, and will provide an environment for you where you succeed. She will expect you to want the best out of yourself as well.

She has never had to be the center of attention...although as beautiful as she is...you might be surprised by that. She is definitely a "wind beneath the wings" type...and you and any children you have will be blessed from her gift of service to others. I have no doubt that she will be a wonderful mother.

I know that you have turned her head by making her the center of your world. She is looking for exactly that. And frankly, she deserves nothing less from you. Please don't forget that as your weeks turn into months, years and decades.

But most importantly, she wants a man who is going to be a Christian leader in the home. She wants to be the helpmate to a strong, godly man. She wants you to treasure her...but she wants your heart right with the Lord first. She wants you to have an opinion...but to be willing to listen and then be decisive. If you fail to include her in the decisions you make...you will regret it. Her wisdom is amazing. If you acquiesce to everything she wants...you will find that neither of you is happy. She wants you to lead...but in doing so...wants to feel like she has your heart and your love.

I know that this is a tall order, and that you must be an incredibly special person, and I look forward to meeting you in God's time. We know this, of course, because we have been praying for you and your preparation for her since she was a little girl. We have thought of you often through the years...

Before I end, however, I want to say that I hope that you will love her deeply and will work through whatever comes your way. Life isn't easy, and marriage is harder than it looks. I also hope that you will find it possible to love us as well. That is the only part that I worry about right now. Unfortunately, I don't bond easily to most of the people she dates...although I have once. Since then, I have felt that it only right that we should wait for you...and we are guarding our hearts carefully.

So, whatever it is that you are doing out there tonight...I hope that you are doing it with my daughter - your future wife - somewhere in the back of your mind. I hope that you are treating other people's daughters with respect and honor, and are not sowing destructive patterns into your life. I believe that you think enough of yourself to wait for what God is going to bless you with in my wonderful daughter.

And while I can't wait to meet you...for now...I am content with just the idea of you. We are not ready to give her away just yet. She is also growing more beautiful internally and externally day by day...although I often find it hard to believe that it is possible. So, until the day of God's choosing...take care of yourself...grow strong...be good. Someone wonderful is waiting on you.

P.S. I hope that you like animals. You'll need to...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reflections on the Florabama

After watching a YouTube video of the classic Southern male at the beach, my mind was brought back to Orange Beach, Alabama...the site of the Florabama Lounge. Bear in mind that I have not been to the Florabama since the series of hurricanes in 2004-05, and from what I understand...there have been some changes since then. So...it is entirely possible that "my" Florabama might differ from "your" Florabama for that reason alone.

My first encounter with the Florabama was an officers' retreat for the bank I was employed with at the time. Several of us rode down together, and the senior officers pretty much camped out there and had a cocktail while everyone arrived. My first impression was a rundown fairly flat roofed building with a liquor store in the front. It was situated on the Alabama/Florida line where half of the "facility" was in Florida and half was in Alabama...thus the name.

Frankly, it didn't look like much...but the group I had come down with wanted to go in for awhile...so we did. There was a long bar with a small intimate room with a number of tables and a place for a guitarist or perhaps a duo. Past that were pool tables, a place to purchase lottery tickets (on the Florida side, of course), another place for a band, a pavilion with a stage, a trailer selling crawfish (or is it crayfish...whatever), and a couple of portapotties. Beyond the back door was the beach. Frankly, I never quite made it that far.

Upon entering the building...which was fairly low lighted except for the requisite neon beer signs...you noticed a certain ambiance. Frankly, the charm of the place included such decorating gems as "Mullet Toss" posters and bras hanging from the rafters. All of the furniture was rustic and I sincerely doubt it matched or even came close. You had to pick up your machete at the door to cut through the smoke, and the word "loud" to describe the music, the clinking glass at the bar, and the crowd...was an understatement. Someone was always either playing guitar in that front room...or the jukebox was wide open.

The patrons to this establishment did not follow any particular guideline in terms of background, age, or quite frankly...anything else. There were bikers, barflies, college kids, professional adults, ladies sporting beehives, military people, and the locals. There was obviously no dress code, and you'd see a little sorority girl in a sundress and then someone in Daisy Dukes and a tube top. Running like ants through the crowd were a team of waitresses that were quick, efficient, and long past putting up with anyone's crap. You ordered...they delivered...no problem.

As you walked through the main room, you would somehow find yourself either in the room with the pool tables (which was just never my thing) or by one of the bands that was always playing. How the place could manage three separate bands and the crowds that were often so thick you'd wonder how anyone could move...is beyond me.

Although I enjoyed hearing "Lucille" and "Brown Eyed Girl" almost every time I was there (because of the unique audience participation)...I really found the outside pavilion area my favorite spot. Someone had built a makeshift table that was like a long series of picnic tables. There was no floor...just dirt or sand. The walls were heavy plastic designed to keep out the cooler night air or the rain since we were most often there in October. There was no dance floor...but there were plenty of places to sit. Granted, every so often someone would get up on one of the tables and start to dance. In fact, we learned that one of the girls in the group was apparently a pole dancer in a previous life. I won't elaborate.

The highlight of my evenings was a visit to the ladies' room...hands down. At any given trip I'd make...there would be a line. I would hear "hold my hair" or someone would be in there ranting about something. Usually, it was about something some guy was doing, or two girls would be in a fight over something random. My personal favorite "throw down" was the night that a mother and daughter got into a shoving match and were just short of a fistfight because "Mama" had been kissing daughter's boyfriend on the dance floor. Wish I were kidding.

Often, while in line, someone would just start talking to me about something. I found it all quite fascinating. It was just a slice of life that was interesting to visit...but you wouldn't want to live in it.

Like the girl who was on her honeymoon and was not sure that she had done the right thing. I'm thinking...a little late for THAT true confession.

Or the girl who said that her ex had just gotten custody of the three kids. She let me know that she was appealing it because the middle one wasn't his. Well, alrighty then.

Or the lady who would weave in and everyone would give her a clear berth because we thought it wasn't going to end well.

But that was all pretty typical. A bunch of drunk women waiting on the bathroom and just talking about their lives. Frankly, after I left there each time...I felt far better about my own.

Sometimes, you would hear of Kenny Stabler being there and everyone would look around. One night I ran into a customer from the bank...which was interesting. We also always had a designated driver because the police took their jobs quite seriously there as evidenced by the fact that there were always several police cars around. Which was good.

One night, however, we decided to take public transportation because someone erroneously thought that this would be a good idea. We ended up on the shuttle with a group of people who had been partying all day...and were redneck in the deepest sense of the word. The Dixie Chicks song "Earl" pretty much wrapped up the male member of the little party. His "harem" included three women who might have been his wife or girlfriend or well, frankly, I don't know what. Something. I honestly couldn't tell since they were all hanging on him on the bus...and I was just not seeing what the fuss was all about.

I haven't been back to the Florabama since probably 2001 or so. I hear that things have changed a bit...yeah, yeah, the bras are still on the exposed rafters and the place is still a dump. But, it is a melting pot in the truest sense. Anyone can go to the Florabama and have fun.

Anyone...meaning...Jill on Spring Break last year. Yeah. It was during the day...but she liked it just the same. She said that she just felt comfortable there and that the music was good.

There is a weekend in early March (or late February) called "Mullet Toss." The Florabama actually has a contest that involves tossing fish across the state line. I have not attended this particular event...but was down there one weekend while it was going on. Some of my comrades went to check it out. They came back after the "Jamaica Your Own Bikini Contest" where the winner made hers out of safety tape. Yeah. Sorry I missed that spectacle. (Not.)

So, if you are in the Orange Beach, AL area...stop on in. If you are feeling bad about the hand that life has dealt you...take it from me...it could be worse. You'll just have to trust me on that one...later!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Thoughts

Tonight I am fighting the urge to fling myself into the kitchen to attempt to find something non-caloric yet satisfying. And before you start thinking that it doesn't exist...know that it indeed does...it's called WATER. I have been reacquainting myself with this beverage at what can only be described as...a mass delivery level. See, I've been told that one needs 1/2 oz of water for every pound you weigh. If this is true, I need an IV...or another gallon.

And you thought that this was going to be about happy thoughts? Really? With me on a diet? Fat chance (pun intended.)

Let's see if I can do better.

Tonight I requested some ideas for something to discuss here. The first entry was "poodles" followed by "den rearranging," "adult children at home" and "why is life so hard?" I think I have my work cut out for me.

I have to admit...the "poodle" entry made me laugh. There's just something about a dog that hardly sheds, is annoying to a legendary degree, looks like it has a home perm from 1983, and is in total denial about its size relative to its attitude that just cracks me up. Truthfully, it is the 1983 look...because I thought it was hysterical THEN...and I KNOW it is now...on either people OR poodles.

But in case you are not aware, there are yippy little poodles and there are standard poodles. The standard poodle is about the size of a collie and looks like it lapped up whatever substance made Lou Ferrigno turn into the Hulk - minus the green tint, of course. I encountered one at my uncle's chiropractor years ago in California, and photographed it because I was so enamored with it. I have only seen one other standard poodle...probably because it looks like a regular one on steroids and people are partial to the little yippers.

My only real experience with poodles has been with Grandma Emma Pearl's dog Bonnie Blue Butler Morris. (I kid you not.) She came from an entire family of dogs named after characters in "Gone With the Wind." And, unfortunately, where Bonnie Blue fell off of a horse in the movie, Bonnie Blue Butler Morris ran out into the street under the tires of a car.

However, prior to her demise, this little dog could yap with the best of them, and was the typical small poodle with which most of us in the South are familiar. She was apricot in color...not typical white...and she was off the furniture on the furniture off the lap on the bed off the bed on the sofa, all while yipping incessantly. I miss that little dog (not).

At least she kept it interesting.

And that is difficult to do these days, isn't it? We like variety...change...excitement. So, how do we girls of a certain age fill this void in our lives now that we aren't needed to be "Mom" as much anymore? Well, since we aren't trying to figure out how to fix/improve/change/involve/butt-in to our kids' lives, we have to take that energy and apply it somewhere, don't we?

So, we organize things, plant things, give away things, or just shuffle them around. This is a short term solution for the energy that used to be employed in being team mothers, cookie chairmen, sponsors, bench brigades, and helpers. We don't want to lose it...so we use it...by rearranging our lives constantly to suit what is coming down the pike.

For some of us (apparently) this manifests itself in rearranging furniture, redecorating, learning a new skill, or just going what our family deems "nuts." For others of us, it is new hobbies, crafting, or spending hours in front of the computer. Maybe we volunteer...or go back to work...or start focusing on the next generation. But for most of us...something is changing all of the time...and we are going to be in the middle of some project of some kind. It's just the way we are wired.

Truthfully, for me, it has been remarkably difficult to transition from being "Mom" to being "friend Mom" or the person who is supposed to be simultaneously cool, wise, and possessor of an unlimited Visa card. This transition occurs with our children somewhere around the age of 20...when they have been away for a couple of years and now believe that they have the ability to figure out their own schedule, curfew, dating, and major. This is where I go...REALLY? Is that why I'm still paying tuition bills? Car payment?

Hmmm...yeah, I THOUGHT that being in by midnight was what you meant to say, too...

I'm really in the midst of enjoying this metamorphosis with Jill right now. She is capable of dealing with her personal needs, can hold a job, keep up with her money, and even make and go to her own appointments. This is all very good. However, I'm somewhat looking forward to the day when she calls to whine about how little time she has to work out with her new job and all, and how Christmas won't be very big...so she hopes we won't be disappointed. OH, and the kids are driving her crazy...I hope that I live to see it.

Because she will soon find out that life is complicated...and that the little barriers that pop up on us are sometimes annoying...sometimes serious...and sometimes just learning experiences. She will have to learn for herself the lessons of sacrifice, determination, and grace. I have pointed out examples as often as I can...but some things you just don't learn without walking that road or that valley...whatever the case may be.

I don't know why life has to be so hard. I suspect it is because without the difficulties, there would be no appreciation in life. We have the dark times to bring us closer to God and closer to becoming the people we are intended to be. I don't think that He wanted an entire planet filled with self-centered, gratification addicted people to deal with (in spite of the fact that it looks like that is exactly where many people are headed). He wants maturity...love...sacrifice. So, sometimes we have to endure the bitter to get to the sweet. Our hardships also give others an opportunity to get to be His hands and feet...an experience that He uses to teach both the caregiver and the one needing care.

So, it is my fervent belief that it is a good thing that some things just make us smile...like poodles (or losing weight). Other things keep us occupied and productive...like changing our living room around a gazillion times and watching our kids morph into rational and surprisingly wonderful adults. And in spite of our busyness, good times, and seasons of change...we always recognize...that life can also be fragile and not easy...but it is a gift...from Him to us.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Back to Rehab...AGAIN

Tonight I went into my Rehab meeting which is commonly referred to as Weight Watchers. I truly hate the name of the organization because it implies that I must actually watch all of this weight that I have put on...and that depresses me. The only watching I want to be doing...is watching it come off. Which, naturally, is far easier said than done.

After missing the better part of May and taking what amounted to a six week hiatus...I managed to put back on everything that I gained. At least I'm pretty sure of it. I didn't look at the book to see the + sign...but I know it was there. I'm pretty sure that she wrote down two digits...which as you can well imagine...totally sucks.

But what did I really expect? I mean, you can't eat a good portion of a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, three doughnuts, portion sizes fit for Shaq, and unmeasured butter indefinitely. Well, I suppose you can...but leaving your house will require a crane, eight people, and a television crew. I think not.

And just as I was getting ready to just lie to myself that I could do the program on my own...I got the little yellow card in the mail that is Weight Watchers' version of a "get out of jail free" card. You don't have to pay for the missed meetings...just bring in the card...pay one week...and move on. So, I figured that it (along with the fact that my fat clothes are now fitting) was a sign.

I waited until 5:45 today to walk in...which was a serious mistake. All of the perky ladies who have lost a gazillion pounds are already there encouraging everybody and coming up to the line to speak to people. I don't want to speak to anybody. I'm mortified that I have failed and have had to come back again. If Weight Watchers' national had actually kept a file of my membership data (dating back to 1977)...it would very likely weigh more than I do.

Miss Dot is taking her time with a very confused lady who has apparently never been through the drill. Puhleeze. She's probably had a metabolism until recently, and is now joining our group to lose her 13.2 pounds. The heifer. After her, there is a mother and daughter pair who talk incessantly and apparently think that coming to the meeting is "fun." Really?

Then there was the lady on crutches who broke in front of me...but I didn't have the heart to tell her that she had. She kept asking me questions about how long the meetings were and asking if the leader was good. All of the while...she is inching up just a hair with each inquiry.

So, I ended up in line for 17 minutes as I waited for the four people in front of me to get their stuff done. I just stood there staring at the floor and wishing like anything that I could just fling her a $13 check and get the weighing over with...but alas, NO.

Finally, I did get to weigh, and as usual...I have no idea how much that might be. I refuse to let them tell me how much I weighed on Day 1, and here three months later, I choose to remain in the dark. I just don't have time for a mental breakdown right now...and having this information would either drive me to overeat from the stress of knowing how much I weigh (and I would gain weight in the process) or I would just throw in the towel and eat (and I would gain weight in the process). The only third option I could think of was total ignorance. Now, I just assume that I weigh more than most defensive lineman...but since I don't really know...I still have hope that perhaps I don't.

One must have some hope in order to lose weight. Either that, illness, or a divorce. I'm thinking that hope is the best alternative in this particular threesome as well.

I sat in the back (as I always do) and there was a new big couple who was in my spot. This annoyed me at first...but I just found another quiet spot to plop down even farther away from everybody. The only person who was not annoying was the guy who has lost 155 lbs - Ricky - who had gastric bypass because he could not move. Now, he walks with a cane and is making definite progress. He was also the only person other than the leader who noticed A) I was gone and B) I was back.

It's always nice to be missed. But then again...since I have absolutely nothing in common with these people other than we are all well...fat...I don't mind just blending in...as hard as that might seem to believe.

So, for the next week I will be struggling. I'm not looking beyond one week. It is not easy to break the bonds of addiction...even if that addiction is to chocolate. I mean, you don't HAVE to do crack...but you DO have to eat.

To keep myself motivated...I've decided that there are a few things that I want to be able to do...and in spite of how much I weigh...I will know I am progressing when any of these occur:

I can cross my legs at the knee.

I don't have a bruise on my right hip where it hits the seat belt thingy in the car every time I get in.

I don't panic when I go to the theater, ballgame, airplane, or anything with assigned seats for fear that I will be sitting beside another big person. (Or require a seat extender.)

I can actually wear shorts. (Without fear.)

I wear black by choice and not because it is the only color offered. (Check out the Junior Zeppelin Department - otherwise known as "Women's Fashions" and see if it isn't just a sea of black...accented with gargantuan floral pieces appropriate for an AARP trip to Hawaii.)

Someone will tell me that I look "cute" in something I'm wearing and ask me where I got it. (And the hummingbird pin that everyone loves...doesn't count.)

I can go to the gym. (Yes, you can actually be too big to go to the gym...if you can't fit into your gym clothes.)

I am able to sit in a chair without first checking its ability to withstand me. (Nothing is scarier to one's self esteem than breaking a chair.)

I can "scootch by" someone instead of taking the long way around. (Or lodging myself between the cart and the candy rack in the grocery store.)

So, I have a lot to look forward to.

Fortunately, I have a good attitude, support, and it IS summer...where good, nutritious food abounds...but unfortunately has to be counted. Oh well! Later!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Falling Short Part II

Last night I wrote about how I was behind on some things people were counting on me to do, and how much that is upsetting me. I will be making time tomorrow to manage some of this, and I feel at peace about that part of it. However, looking at the title that I chose last night, I can also see that there is something else that is going on with me in the realm of falling short.

I used to be an ultra competitive person. I couldn't play "Dirty Santa" at Christmas because I would get angry when someone would take my beautiful fluffy blanket or silver reindeer and leave me with a skating pig or WalMart clearance section ornament. I once stormed out of a Sunday School party in protest (quietly...but I still left to calm myself down)..so it proves that I have come a long way in at least now being able to speak of it without using language that would make Seth Rogen blush. In fact, I don't even wince at the memories of this...too much.

Playing any kind of game used to be a minefield for me. Watching college football games on TV became mood changers...something that is seriously just wrong. If whatever team I was pulling for lost...my weekend was ruined.

At work, if someone got a promotion, I was happy for them, but I secretly seethed as I watched them get something I felt that I was denied. Eventually, I made it to the point professionally that I wanted to be...and that competitive feeling has been non-existent for the past ten years. This is a good thing. In fact, I'm quite grateful that I no longer have to wear pantyhose, suits, or need to look professional. As long as my work is professional...that's enough.

With my friends, there have been times in the past that I felt that if I was excluded from something...that it was personal. Never mind that there were limited tickets, people who I didn't know involved, or a long history of certain people being invited to certain events or if I really wanted to go or not. I just felt left out if I was not included. Now, I'm actually relieved if I don't get asked...so I can pretty much do what I want when I want to. It is freeing.

Bigger house? Nope...happy with mine. Different car? Not really...mine runs. Better wardrobe? Yeah, if I lose a bunch of weight...sure.

I think what I've realized is that I'm fairly content with my life, who is in it, and what is in it. I like where I live, who I am, and what I do. That's all taken me 46 years to be able to say...and I'm very proud that I can...considering my history.

BUT...and there always is a but...I realized yesterday that I have a mini green eyed monster trying to make a comeback in my life. A tiny but powerful little creature called ENVY.

See, on Twitter, my favorite band of all time - Collective Soul - is having a contest for the 20 biggest fans. And because I'm not on there all of the time, I have no chance of winning a spot. I am going to do one more post about why I love the music and then I'll consider that horse duly beaten.

I realized, though, that some of the people I follow ARE on that list. And while I'm really happy for THEM...I'm feeling a little sad that I am not on there. Why would I be? Do I tweet incessantly about the band? No. Do I know them personally? No. Do I have a gazillion followers on Twitter? Negative. Do I have anything to offer whatsoever besides my respect and occasionally a sale from iTunes? Hardly.

So, I'm going to try to not think of this "envy issue" that I have going on right now...and will try to focus on articulating exactly why I am a fan on the blog one last time...and then I will let this go as well.

I suppose that part of the problem is that I have felt like I used to when other people got promoted. I know that sounds very shallow and stupid, but at the same time...it has alerted me to the fact that although I've exorcised a lot of demons...there are still a few lurking around me just waiting for an opportunity to slip in. And, if nothing else...it is always good to be reminded to be on guard for THAT. Later!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Falling Short

Tonight I am experiencing a little bit of anxiety. Now, I know that from a biblical perspective, when we arrive at this point we are supposed to - as Christians - turn anxiety over to God. And I will. But before I do, I wanted to just discuss it a bit here.

I think that in everyday life, we all have expectations of what we want our days and activities to be to a certain extent. Other parts are just beyond our control...and we accept that. Some of the choices we make include our marital status, who we love and support, whether we will be parents through the usual way, adoption, or not at all, what we do for a living, where we live, and how we choose to spend our time. The choices for all of us are as unique as we are!

Lately, I have been worried about work a bit (the economy), money (I have kids), and my schedule. It seems that I have committed to do things that I intend to do, but the timing just has not been right. I have NOT had the time to pull it all together. And thus, the anxiety.

I can normally trust God's timing without questioning...but when I run into those times when I try to work things out and they just won't fall into place I begin to wonder...is it truly a timing issue, or is it me falling short?

I think one common human experience is that we all want to give our best except in those rare cases where we actually choose not to for whatever reason. I know that I love the feeling when I have done something well and I am content with the effort whether I am the only person who knows or notices the results or not.

Sometimes, though, we can't find our rhythm. We are like the person who claps on the off beat while everyone else is clapping at the proper time. I am in one of those phases right now.

And yet, I think that this week will be the week. I go on vacation in three weeks. A lot of what I had stressed over is behind me or can be postponed. My husband and children are busy and happy. It's summer. My mother's knee is healing. I'm catching up with old friends and writing...I'm even scrapbooking again.

Some of what I am worried about is beyond my control. I can control my side of the job equation, but cannot control whether the company decides to retain me. I can try to spend wisely, but I cannot control unexpected expenses. Those are just...well...LIFE.

So, why is it that I have any anxiety at all? I think it is because I am afraid that if I don't get with it on the few remaining undone items on my "to do" list...then I will not be able to fully appreciate all that is going right.

And there are too many wonderful moments in life waiting to be enjoyed. I need to address those undone items, quit worrying, and punt this fear of falling short. I think I'll start...tomorrow. Later!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Reality Doesn't Always Bite

After anticipating our house guest's arrival, I am pleased to say that everything has gone along really well. I mean...he DID arrive to find a piece of furniture that was moved from the study/spare bedroom in the foyer...but HEY, it was out of there by mid-afternoon. So the pine straw didn't get spread? Well, that's not the end of the world. Those two bales have been sitting behind the boxwood for the past three months...and I suppose they'll sit there for a few days (weeks or months) more. And although I was worried about the heinous neon orange comforter that is on the guest bed that was once in Jill's room...the house guest showed up today wearing - of all colors - orange. How awesome is that?

After experiencing a day this week that was so annoying that I've already "shared" it...I have found that some things this week have actually gone as planned or even better than expected. Shocking! For instance...I ordered cups for graduation gifts from Tervis Tumblers (they are personalized as well as have a little symbol on them (ie. Auburn University, University of Alabama, etc.)on Tuesday. They actually arrived in three days.

Other things have been as simple as actually having a piece of trash that I throw toward the trash can actually fall in there instead of on the floor beside it, a chain of green lights, sheets on sale that weren't marked, and just having the right songs show up on my iPod on "shuffle songs." For little pleasures...I am quite grateful.

So, after being at a hassle factor of 10, I've had some equally neat things that have totally offset them. All in the same week.

So, I suppose...reality doesn't ALWAYS bite. I mean...reality TV does (in my opinion)...but most everything else has a silver lining if we are just able to take the time to look.

Here's hoping that your weekend is one of the best ever. Hope that you have time to breathe, love and savor. As for me...I'm just pleased that the week has not been what I have traditionally characterized as a "bad week". Next week has potential to be, though...back to Rehab (Weight Watchers) on Monday. Later!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


The word "anticipation" will forever conjure up visions of a ketchup bottle in midair over something remarkably delicious. I think that Heinz was quite smart to use that particular song during the old days that we had to manage ketchup out of a glass bottle. You know...the pre-squeeze bottle era. Between us, I am glad that we are doing plastic bottles now...except for the fact that the bottles at restaurants are red and look full...but are almost always anything but. However, this is not exactly what is on my mind tonight.

I was thinking of all of the preparations that we have made this week for a house guest. A young man who attends Alabama with Jill and lives in Atlanta. Because of the three hour drive, he gets to come here and stay for a couple of days. Oh, assuming that she feels better, they'll likely drive down to Gulf Shores for the day on Saturday...so my hostess duties will primarily be tomorrow night.

We've been cleaning out and cleaning up.

Just some backstory on our house. We built it in 2001 on a five acre lot in the anti-metropolis of Pike Road, AL. Pike Road is located just out of Montgomery, and finds itself in constant lawsuits with the city of Montgomery for just who owns the rights to the Home Depot and Wal-Mart sales tax revenues. It's a long story...but Pike Road has residents that are determined to not live all over each other and just want to have the decent lives that people in small town America take for granted. This is certainly not what those who live in Montgomery have at this point in time and thus the split. Not that Montgomery is a bad place...it isn't. Not really. But anyway...

We have a three bedroom house with a study, and an open floor plan...which means that the kitchen, family room and dining room are all pretty much the same room. It's not a huge house, but we have 10 foot ceilings and wood floors and I like it very much. We have a pool and a pond out back that has real live fish in it. I just love to see it from my house since I don't fish. It's icky.

The house is filled with pieces from my grandmother's house and David's parents' house and sometimes the combination seems eclectic and wonderful and sometimes...not so much. But it's home.

Our style is pretty laid back. We are an eat outside, grill-loving, barefoot kind of house where it is not a huge deal if someone spills something or tracks in soaking wet from the pool. The neighborhood dog wanders in...and we don't really see this as a problem. We just love having people here, and we hope that they feel comfortable when they are our guests.

The problem is...every time we have overnight guests, we have to vacate our bedroom so that someone can stay in it since we do not have a formal guest room. Jill's room is currently housing last year's dorm room in addition to the normal items in there. Brian's room is...well...let's just say untidy. Actually, it borders on what we in the South call "nasty" in that he refuses to keep it neat...so clean is a distant dream. I don't mind being displaced, but it does tend to make people feel bad, and it is a hassle. Because my room currently looks like eBay threw up in it, I just cannot face the prospect of getting my act together on a timetable...and so I started thinking of alternatives.

So, because Jill needs a double bedfor her apartment next year (size constraints) and we're going to eventually get a headboard from storage, we went ahead and purchased her mattress. So, as we anticipate our house guest tomorrow, he will have a brand new bed in the study (with a newly cleaned bathroom)of his very own. Hassle factor? Low to moderate. We are also anticipating my sister's visit at the end of June...and now she will have use of the bed and bath so that if I don't get this room cleaned up...I won't feel like a total loser.

We've tried to anticipate what the weather will do, what they will do, what we will eat, and even what she will wear during this visit. We don't know if this young man will meet us and go, "um...waiter, check please" or not. We don't know if they will even be speaking to each other two weeks from now. We don't know if the visit will be very fun or a dud. None of that really matters, though. Right now, we're just anticipating his arrival.

The fun is the anticipation. Meeting someone new...welcoming loved ones home...preparing to move into the first apartment. All of these are ahead of us (or so we hope). As long as we have something to look forward to...most of us can deal with the little annoyances of life. Vacations, weddings, new babies, graduations, reunions, or visits are what keep us going sometimes. They are markers in our lives.

So, here's to anticipation. The positive kind. Like something absolutely delicious is about to happen. And even if it doesn't...that really doesn't spoil the fun of what I'm feeling right now...anticipating the unknown. Oh well...here's hoping it does turn out wonderful just the same...Later!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today Totally Did NOT Rock

Today was one of those days where I wanted to channel my inner two year old and just throw a big fit in the parking lot of Chic-fil-A. I'm 46, and most people would find this somewhat unattractive. But some days are just impossible to keep from whining. Today is such a day.

I arose at 5:45 this morning to the sound of my daughter's voice. She spent the night with a girlfriend last night, and somewhere in my Tylenol PM induced coma I thought I remembered this accurately. So, either she stayed out all night (bad) or something was wrong (equally bad) since it is my experience that 19 year old college students DO NOT get up until at least 9:00 unless they have to go to work or want to go shopping.

She awoke at 4:00 am at her friend's house with a ripping sore throat and a headache. And so she came home because she wanted to be babied by the one person who does it better than anyone...her Dad. Yeah. But today was an early day for Big Dave, and so he left her with me.

Enter Dixie - our shih tzu - at about the time Big Dave was leaving looking remarkably pathetic. Tail between her legs and just looking like she didn't feel well. There was also the added bonus of a "gift" in Jill's room...something that she rarely does anymore. I use the word "anymore" because if there is one breed of dog that is next to impossible to housebreak...it's the shih tzu. Or mine, anyway. Fine...whatever.

So, I called the vet and made Dixie an appointment at 11:00. That meant that I had to ask Brian to bring her to town so that I don't have to drive alllll the way out here and alllll the way back to the vet and then allllll the way back home and alllll the way back to work. I mean...I DO currently have something known as...a JOB. Oh, he was fine with it as he was ignoring me and playing XBox at 8:00am. Never mind that HE was up, too. Weird.

So at 10:40, I phoned the house to see who was going to bring me the dog. Jill was whining, and Brian was trying to convince me that I didn't need to spend the money on the dog...that she was fine.

No, big boy,- you are L-A-Z-Y. But not today. So, after threatening to remove every privilege he has, I finally convinced him that it is in his best interest to bring me the dog...pronto.

I walked in the vet's office and a little receptionist didn't even acknowledge my presence. She was too busy flirting with the boy doing the filing. He graduated from the school my children attended, but did he speak, smile, or in any way acknowledge my presence either? UM...NO. The little flirt girl didn't even glance my way. One minute passes. Two. Three. Finally, I huffed and sat down. Eight minutes later, another lady came out and asked "Are you being helped?" Um, that would be NO. Do I look helped? Was it the scowl? Me talking to the dog and telling her that eventually we'll get in to see the vet loud enough for the little hussy at the front counter to overhear?

Eventually we got back there, and Dixie does have a throat infection and got a shot. She weighs fifteen pounds now - within the normal range for a shih tzu according to the chart on the wall. I read EVERY chart on the wall. Three times. Then backwards. By the way, there are 56 tile squares on the floor, they have a water spot in the ceiling, and they seriously need to clean the baseboards.

What seems like an hour later, the VERY loud new vet came in to check our girl. He's really super nice. So is his assistant. I then let him know about his front counter girl and how this was my first time here since the other vet died, and how it might be a good idea to let her know that greeting people at the front desk is generally expected. He was visibly mortified. Good. I'm just saying...it is common sense...spend less time ogling the boy...and more time serving the customer. Not a difficult concept, is it? For $107.45 (including antibiotics), I would appreciate at least being acknowledged. The worst part is that I have to take them back in a week for their annual checkup. I expect that this will cost a ridiculous amount of money as Dixie also needs her teeth cleaned.

While I'm in the vet's office, Jill called to let me know that she was feeling terribly miserable and would I PLEASE take her to the doctor. Drop off dog...pick up girl...check.

In the interim, Jill called in sick to Ulta and apparently nobody explained to her that she was to find her own replacement. Really? She's been there three weeks and she is unaware of this? Well, YEAH. She's temporary help. If it is that dang important, put it in the manual. She's responsible. If she calls in sick...she's sick. She got a crash course in Bosses 101 that she desperately needed...they ALL do...but today was probably not the best time for Jill to get her rear end chewed out.

But I digress...as I normally do...

I'm starving as it is noon and I've had no breakfast or lunch, my car is on fumes with the "hey, girl, get gas in me now" light on, it is hot, Jill is whining every three seconds about how bad she feels, and by gosh, forget it all...I'm going to Chic-fil-A.

Cars are wrapped around the building like the always are, but today was just not the day for what I can normally tolerate as part of the "Chic-fil-A Experience." All I wanted was a stupid sandwich.

So, I parked the car to go inside after dodging somebody's Mee-Maw on a walker, sixteen preschoolers, moms on cell phones, teenagers who walk incredibly slow, and enough cars to look like the exit at an Alabama home game so that I can park my vehicle. I went to retrieve my purse out of the backseat, and it turned over. Naturally spilling the contents all over the back seat. Beautiful.

It is at this point that I wanted to just throw the purse around in the car and scream. I didn't though...I just slammed the door. Oh, and you know that the seat belt thing was in it, so I didn't even have the satisfaction of a good slam. MAN, I hate that.

On the bright side, I walked right up to the counter and ordered. And because it was Chic-fil-A, they actually got my order right...TOO right, though. I ordered extra pickles on my sandwich. Today, somebody with an attitude put at least 40 of them on there...which made my bread soggy. I ate half of it and just gave up.

So, after dodging the crazies flying around the parking lot, we got back on the road. And we stopped at EVERY SINGLE RED LIGHT between us and the gas station. Really? I mean, do I REALLY have to stop every 30 seconds and wait for 3 minutes when I have a thimble of gas in my tank?

Fortunately, I made it to the gas station. Naturally, because I actually wanted to sit in the car and eat while the gas was pumping, I chose a station that you have to press the nozzle or it won't go. By this time, I'm beginning to think that nothing can get any worse.

But we know better, don't we?

So, we go to Pri-Med and join the legions of other people who are too busy, lazy or disorganized to find a real doctor. Jill is too old for the pediatrician...but we won't drop out of there because we are not going through the ADD thing again with anyone else. So, when she is sick, we go to Pri-Med.

Just so you know, there is definitely a Pri-Med in hell.

We check in and the girl wants to see my insurance card. Great. I just got new cards. Wonder where I put them in my wallet... I found 73 different cards...credit...store loyalty...etc. and the OLD cards. Wait! No, that's the new DENTAL card. Finally, I just sat down and just emptied the entire contents of my wallet into a pile. Hidden in some crease of one of the wallets in my purse (don't ask) is the stupid imbecilic health insurance card.

So I present it to her. Her response? Yep...it's the same one we have on file. And then I turn around. She says, "oh, well, let me copy that anyway, and may I also have your ID?" Really? I had it before I ripped THE CONTENTS OF MY STUPID WALLET OUT. But, I calm down enough to hand it to her. I sit down, and then she calls me to come and retrieve it.

There are no magazines in this office except National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and Parents' and Obama is on CNN telling us that all is well (don't get me started on this...) so there is NO way in my current mood that I'm going to listen to that dribble. So I sit. An hour passes. Finally, I see that we are going to have her in next. It's 1:30. The door opens and a lady walks in and announces that she has a 1:30 appointment.

You guessed it. She went ahead of us.

We then ended up in the room and all was fine except that when they tested her for strep, the swab looked like it had dried blood on it. Ewww. Everyone who looks down her throat does "wow, that's bad." These are not words one wants to hear...

Finally, the doctor quits talking to whatever rep kept him from coming in there and dealing with us, and we get her prescriptions. Diagnosis? Serious strep throat. Bad. Icky.

I went back to work and found that everyone who was on hold with their deals is no longer on hold. I hate my life.

So, now it is 7:00 pm and I'm afraid to move. The hassle factor of this day has been so phenomenal that I cannot even fully express my frustration.

I am currently listening to a lively discussion between my son and husband about peeling shrimp. Words like "lazy" and "Mama is on the computer" and "what have you done all day?" are flying fast and furious.

But, I have hope. I guess you always have to have hope. I hope that tomorrow...this is hysterical. Sometimes when things are THIS bad, you start looking around for Candid Camera crews. I didn't spot any, but you never know.