Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Extended Family

When I picked up my mail the other day, there was an invitation to one of my very special "other" daughters' wedding functions for which I did not expect an invitation.  She is one of Jill's best friends, and actually one of mine...and she's getting married in less than a month.  That invitation was one of those really cool surprises in life...like finding a $20 bill in your pocket, or finding out something you really wanted but talked yourself out of because it was too expensive or impractical is suddenly half-price.  Better that all of that, actually.  You can't put a price on the feeling you get when you are truly honored.

When she and Jill were in high school, they - along with another schoolmate - a boy - were always out here working on one project or another.  Sometimes other classmates showed up as well...but that core group of three was pretty constant.  I'd make a pitcher of tea, converse with them awhile, and sit with them while they got through whatever it was.  They'd bicker back and forth like brother and sisters and it just felt like I had four children instead of two. 

He'd tell stories to try to shock me, but I honestly believed at the time (and still do) that he was testing me.  He soon realized that being obnoxious verbally wasn't going to change how I felt about him...or alter the fact that he was accepted in our home.  Yes, I whipped out the Bible a time or two to prove my points...but he was always pretty respectful in spite of his bravado.   In fact, even after the girls left, he still came around through his freshman year of college for help with English.  I still made tea for him, and he retained that habit of giving me way too much information. Except without the others, I could tell him honestly where I thought he was messing up and how he needed to shoot higher in life than he was.  I don't know if it made a bit of difference to him or if he just tolerated my opinions as a tradeoff for having some free tutoring.  Perhaps one day I'll know.

I was so proud when the three of them walked the stage at graduation, and then was excited for them as they started off into college.   Three different colleges.  Three totally different college experiences.

Life is richer, I've found, because God gave me that extended family to fill in the gaps of what I wanted - which was a lot of activity - and what I needed - which were the two children that I have because I work full time and any more would have pushed us over the edge financially and every other way.  But during those years...it felt like I had four children.

If I think about it...my extended family also includes my wonderful friends who have the ability to do anything I might need done at any point in time.  Some have more resources, some have more talent, and some have more time than I do.  They make me feel like I can do anything...because even if I can't do it...I know someone who can.  On the other hand, I've felt needed and valued as I've helped my friends with scrapbooks, photo-taking, calligraphy, planning and execution of parties, and even cleaning out spaces and organizing...which are things that are not difficult for me to do.  I've attended events, hosted parties, cheered them on, or written notes of encouragement because that is what I have to offer.  But for every thing I've done for any friend...I've been blessed ten times over. 

In some cases, a thousand times over.

The extended family concept has also helped me really enjoy my children more as well.  Our kids cannot do everything that we'd like to support, and they may not have an interest in things that we get all fired up about. Sadly, neither of my children likes the same music I do, and they take after their father more in temperament...which honestly...is not a bad thing. 

The gaps between what we hope for and what we receive are often filled by a whole host of wonderful people that come in and our of our lives.  We just need to get excited about it instead of resenting their good fortune. 

I'm not boasting when I say that I have a beautiful daughter.  She is.  That is the way God chose to create her.  While this is wonderful, there was a downside to it...and according to her...more downside than you'd think.  I was mortified to discover at a point in time that there were actually grown women who thought it was okay to tear her down for reasons that make little sense to me as her mother.

Some people just get hung up on that scarcity mentality.  As in...there is only one pie.  If someone has a bigger piece of it...then that means that we have to tear into someone so that their piece of the pie is smaller...and ours is bigger.  Never mind if we have to belittle another person or attempt to ruin someone's reputation in the process.  Nor does it seem to matter than instead of one pie...there is an entire room full of pies!

(Note: in case you are literal...like my Jill...what I am talking about is the tendency of some people to see someone else that is prettier, more talented, more together, or more popular...and combating that perceived threat by talking them down until people begin to see them in a different light.  Sadly, a lot of this goes on as some women never outgrow the pain of their own high school experience and refuse to see it replicated in the next generation.  As such, they view popularity as one big pie.  What they don't realize is that within each of us is a special ability to do something that we were uniquiely placed here to do...and that there are many pies...talents, gifts, skills, things we are dedicated to, blessings, etc.  This is often figured out in college...but high school is another matter entirely.)

When Jill was a sophomore in high school, she dated a boy that played varsity football and was the catcher on the varsity baseball team.  We went to all of the football games...including the out-of-town ones...and many of the baseball games.  We had the best time! 

As a result of sitting in those stands, I got to see the sons of my sweet "boy-Mom" friends play and I stayed in those stands with them for those two years after the boyfriend graduated.  Our family felt like we were a part of everything even though we didn't have a child of our own on the field...and I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything. 

Brian played football in junior high, but it became clear that athletics were not going to be his path.  He struggled through his Crohn's Disease diagnosis when he was 15 and the two hospitalizations that followed it.  But we don't think we missed a thing even though he didn't play in high school.  We'd already had the wonderful experience of following the team and enjoying being in the bleachers for all of those years.  I'm really, really grateful for that.

I've known kids that are honored for athletic and academic achievements, win full scholarships, star in the school play, sing in a band, become an Eagle Scout, win the Junior Miss competition, compete on an academic level nationally, be a state champion tennis, soccer, or football player, be cheerleaders for the Alabama Crimson Tide AND the Auburn Tigers, play on college football teams, model, become newscasters, go on mission trips to China, Africa, Alaska, and other places, assume leadership positions on campus, or become the president of their sorority or fraternity...among other achievements. 

And I'm about to witness one of my favorite ones get married.  Three more her age are right behind her along with at least six other kids I know.  This is wonderful...but it is also hard to believe!

This extended family that I have is not because I am lacking in actual family,  because I'm certainly not.  David is one of four children (the middle child at #3 because #2 is the only girl), and with marriages and births, there are sixteen of us.  That's not counting their aunts, uncle, cousins and their families.  I won't even get started on my side of the family because I have thirty-six first cousins on one side...and two on the other.  I also have been blessed with other family members as my parents remarried and I got to know those families as well. 

In fact, since 2004, I am now related to sixteen people (eight by marriage...and eight by birth) I was not related to before.  By the end of 2011, that total will increase to eighteen because my cousin's wife and my niece are expecting.

But I have found that no matter how much family you have...God knows the desires of your heart.  If He doesn't see fit to answer those desires in the normal course of life...He will often find a creative way to fulfill them. Sometimes, that fulfillment comes through that "extended family."

I miss the days when there were kids sitting around my table doing projects and arguing over something silly. I miss the girls in braces and ridiculous clothes doing skits in junior high school or hanging out of my car singing "Pour Some Sugar On Me" because I thought that they deserved something better than Backstreet Boys and Nelly.  I miss cooking steaks for two young men who had just graduated six years ago...that enjoyed coming out here and hanging out with us (okay, probably more Jill than us, but whatever) the summer before they started college and the Fall of freshman year.  I miss the kids who came out during the summer to grill chicken wings and play in the pool during the summer of 2007.  I miss the New Years' Eve parties where boys would play "Capture the Flag" and stay up until all hours of the night...a tradition they kept up for something like seven years. 

Each kid that crossed our threshold enriched our lives.  Every friend that I have gives me the opportunity to be loved...or to be a blessing in return.  Every person that I know is my personal mission field...and I am theirs...or we wouldn't know each other.

And when you think about it like that...aren't you blessed?  I know I am.  After all...if you are reading this...you are probably part of my "extended family." 

Thank you for that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Senior Moments

Several times this past week I have had what some people refer to as a "senior moment."  You know what I mean.  You are rocking along on something but you realize that you've forgotten something truly pertinent to its completion...or you just forget something that you should know...like the name of a close friend.  I'm quite sure that I'm not alone in this because just about everyone I know has lately graduated from calling them "blonde moments" to "senior moments." 

Hey, I'm only 48.   This can't be good.

I am going to beg off on my "senior moments" being a function of age.  I'm going to blame it on the fact that I am the mother of a senior in high school.  I don't know if you've had this particular privilege or not, but I'll see if I can describe it for you.  In my case, it has been significantly worse with this child because he is my youngest.  I think that's pretty textbook, though.

I have spent the past three years with one child in college and the other one at home.  My oldest - being female - demanded (without realizing it, I'm sure) the majority of my time and energy while she lived at home.  Oh, who am I fooling?  If she sets foot in this house or calls...it is just as if she is here full-time.  She just has that effect on the family.  When she graduated...I was sad...but primarily because I was fairly close to a lot of the kids in her class.  I had invested in watching sports teams play, cheerleaders cheer, and dance team members dance.  I had watched them excel and change and evolve into the really cool people that they are today.  I also didn't panic...because there was always the younger one who was still there. 

Except now...HE is graduating.  I was really okay with getting out of the tuition payments that I've prayed and stressed through (which I realize if I've done the first then I shouldn't be doing the second...but whatever) since 1996.

Since 1996.  It is 2011.  That's fifteen years.

FIFTEEN years of tuition payments, PTO memberships, forms to volunteer at the school, football teams to watch, homecoming queens to see crowned, projects to oversee, papers to proofread, teachers to be delighted by or dread, parties to throw (no, not THAT kind of party), dances to chaperone...and so on.

All of that comes to an end on May 19, 2011 with graduation.

Lately, I have been having "senior moments" that I hadn't really expected.  The last Prom...where my son attended with a precious girl from his class...almost made me cry.  I've known his date since she was five years old.  Her older sister was in Jill's class. 

This weekend...the event to get through will be the Senior Party.  I've been working on that with a group of Moms in the class.  We are just praying for a good turnout, favorable weather, and no craziness.  We're hopeful that we'll have all of the above. 

The good turnout is pretty much expected.  Boys from the class are the entertainment...as a band.  There will be fireworks after that...and then a bonfire.  Parents will be around but not AROUND.  There is apparently a difference.  Favorable weather is always a crapshoot in April in the South.  Last weekend at Prom, there were tornado sirens going off.  (Fortunately, there were no issues.)  You just never know...

As for the "no craziness"...we just hope that the fathers in the front yard will deter some of that.  No, not SOME.  ALL of that.  See, I totally don't want to see anyone on COPS of Montgomery.  That would just ruin the whole evening and this last month. 

Fortunately, as I've known a good number of these kids since kindergarten, I'm hopeful that this will be a non-issue.  Some of them will find trouble in college soon enough...it isn't difficult, you know.

But before we get to that...tomorrow is Senior High Awards Day.  Our very last Awards Day.  We got correspondence that told Big Dave and me to show up.  That could mean that he received an award...or that his name will be called for his involvement in something.  They won't tell...and we won't ask.  I really don't want to miss it either way, though. 

In a couple of weeks, there will be a Senior-Faculty dinner, a video presentation of all the kids as they grow from babies to seniors, photos from their years together, and their last Senior Lunch.  There will be a Baccalaureate service the Sunday before graduation.  They will open the time capsules that they made in the 5th grade.  And then...

They will don the caps and gowns and cross the stage.  Afterward, we will all go to the reception that the junior class is hosting.  The very reception that my friend Laurie and I chaired last year.  Has it really already been a year?  Amazing.

Time is short...and quickly passing by, and I don't want to miss a thing.  It is almost as if someone has deposited me into this situation where I'm having to remember so much so fast and so often.  I go from being thrilled that we are almost through...to being afraid to actually count the days because it is less than I really want it to be.  I've apparently forgotten all of the days (and the struggle) that it took us to get to this point...and I'm in constant amazement at how much there is left to do in such a short period of time.  I'm actually afraid to blink.

When Brian graduates...our family will graduate from the school.  Our names won't be in the student directory next year.  Both of my children will be on the alumni list and will begin having reunions in the course of time.  I'm having my 30th high school reunion in October. That hardly seems possible...but after this year...I'm not surprised at how fast time flies.

The other day, we got a PTO volunteer form in the mail for next year...and I laughed to myself.  They apparently just sent the forms to everyone without realizing that some of us won't be back.  It was a little bittersweet to place it in the trash can...because although I'll miss it...I'm not feeling the need to volunteer for anything right now.  Maybe at some point in time that will change.

We won't be walking the halls of Trinity next year.  Unless, of course, someone calls Brian to go back up there and do the lights or sound for one of the presentations or arts events...or Big Dave goes back in the Fall to build the set for the Spring Musical...a job he has loved for the past six years.  But we will always feel like a Trinity family.  Because we have been.  It has been a huge part of our lives...and of the lives of our children.  A place for them to be educated and nurtured.  To learn life lessons...and to hear the words "God" and "Jesus" every day.  To be safe.

It is nearly over.  The payments.  The friendships.  The feeling of community.  Or it will be in just a few short weeks.  Or will it?  I still meet with a group of mothers that had kids in Jill's class every month for lunch.  We've been at it for the past three years.  I'm still in touch with kids who graduated in 2005 - 2010 and with mothers that I've met along the way.  Some of them I don't see as often as I'd like...but we're still bonded.  We're now throwing showers and parties for the kids we remember on the athletic fields, sidelines, or on the stage that are getting married.  A lot of them to other kids who also went to Trinity.  I expect that this will only accelerate in the coming years if the past few months are any indication what the future holds.  In May, I'll be attending two weddings of "Trinity kids."  I found out last night that another one who is special to us from a class above Jill's...is engaged.  I can add him to the four from her class that currently are...

But yes, I've been having some "senior moments" lately.  Times when I've been sad that our identities are about to change.  That we'll have to scrape the "Trinity sticker" off the back of the car.  Oh, wait, we've already done that...

At the same time...we are happy that Brian is going on to college and that for one year I will have two college students.  I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Yes, it is conceivable that someday we will no longer be making tuition payments.  Of this...we can only dream.

Of course, we will be having "senior moments" again next year with Jill.  She will be finishing her final year at University of Alabama...and her graduation will mark the end of that chapter in our lives as well.  Fortunately, being a fan is something that you don't ever really graduate from...and we can go cheer on the Crimson Tide or tailgate with friends for years to come.

On the other hand...Brian is likely to end up at Auburn after a year or two at Auburn Montgomery.  If you are from the state of Alabama...you understand the ramifications of this.  A house divided.

I hope that I'll be able to keep my head straight over the coming weeks as we count down to graduation.  I may be a little teary...or wistful...or might just be so overwhelmed that I write my maiden name on a check or something.  It happens.  Because two days after Brian walks across the stage...one of my "other daughters" - also a Trinity graduate...will be taking the "Walk to Remember."  Jill is going to be a bridesmaid for the first time.  I doubt it will be the last...

That's a lot of change in a short period of time.  So, if I seem like I've lost my mind...or I'm crying over something that seems a little bit goofy, I'll just chalk it up to having a "senior moment."  If I take way too many photos, or hug kids who think I'm nuts...I won't be surprised.  If I forget how many times I couldn't wait for it to be over and want to hold these last few grains of time in the palm of my hand...I'll just consider myself normal.  And for those of you who have to deal with me through all of this...bear with me.   This too shall pass...and much too quickly, I might add. 

Much too quickly.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and most people are celebrating this week religious or secular reasons or both.  At our home, we understand and are grateful for the significance of the season, but also enjoy the traditions associated with Easter like egg hunts, big dinners, and baskets. 

One of the traditions we started a few years ago was the nighttime egg hunt.  The kids had outgrown hunting eggs in the living room, had moved on to the yard, and then found themselves incredibly bored with the whole experience.  I, being unwilling to just let it go, just found it necessary to up the ante. 

Yes. We hide the eggs, put change in them, and then hand them a flashlight.  Believe me...it is not as easy as it looks.

Letting go is difficult, isn't it?  I briefly visited the home of a family today that has four children...three girls and a boy.  The girls have been going to the ballpark for fourteen or so years watching their brother play.  It was just something that they always did.  Never a lot of thought about it much...and after years and years of being spectators...it pretty  much became a normal part of life.  Today, they watched their brother play his last high school game in the first round of the playoffs.  While a loss is difficult to accept...this was a loss that came out of left field...no pun intended. 

My nighttime egg hunts are my way of keeping the fun that I miss so much from when they were little...alive for a little bit longer.  It also gives them back some of the fun that they profess to have outgrown.  Win/win, yes?

Thought I was kidding?

Counting eggs...five are still AWOL...
Tomorrow morning, we will be headed to the Sunrise Service, and I was pleased to note when I checked that the weather will probably cooperate.  It will be lovely being outside way too early with no regard whatsoever for Easter finery.  I think that is one of the reasons why our family loves it so much.  There are no issues with parking, and some years they've even had Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee for breakfast.  I mean...tomorrow is going to be Sugar Fest 2011...so why not start at 6:00 a.m.?

Speaking of sugar...I have THE cutest Easter cookies made by Elisabeth Epperson of http://www.elisabethssweets.blogspot.com/.  Elisabeth is a high school junior that is incredibly talented in the kitchen...and is beautiful, smart, has a wonderful personality and a heart for the Lord.  The whole package!  I hope you'll check out her blog and follow it or just leave her a message.  It is a fun read and she posts the most incredible photos of what she's working on along with some really cool narrative.  Here's the pictures of what I picked up today. 

Cute, yes?
How about this...

Look at the amazing detail that she puts into her cookies!
Or this...

SOOOO cute!  :)
And one more...

May I add that they taste as awesome as they look...
Tomorrow is Resurrection Day!  It is a time for wonderful sweets...but also the time to realize how sweetly our lives are full of new experiences that bless us.  How sometimes something amazing comes out of something unspeakable.  And that we should have no fear about whatever is in front of us.  After all, the price has been paid.

Try not to eat too much sugar tomorrow...but savor every moment of your time celebrating the Risen Lord...enjoying the day with family or friends...and just being in the moment.  Today is all that we are promised.  Make it sweet.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lightening Up

Ever had one of those days that you thought was going to start out normal, but you ended up doing something a bit different?  Today started out like any day except for the fact that somewhere in the neighborhood of 9:00 a.m., my work computer died. 

Died as in...freaky colored lines and unable to reboot kind of died.  Fortunately, it was NOT the big pop, fire, and a tremendous amount of smoke billowing from the monitor kind of died because I would have gone into Prissy mode...which I'd really rather my coworkers not witness.

This early retirement of my laptop was critical in that I work on the computer all day.  Not part of the day.  Not when I need to do A or B, either.  All day.  For everything.

Because of this, I am often asked how I can come home and sit in front of the computer and write, or get on Facebook or take the time to find deals, read blogs, or check my e-mail.  Honestly?  I have no idea. 

Fortunately, one of my coworkers has a dual office.  He only uses the one in our building occasionally, but he has a desktop computer in there.  After getting some of my access transferred around (don't ask me about anything about computer or network programming or you will discover one of my glaring areas of weakness), I camped out in his spacious minimalist office today...and it totally rocked.  (Well, actually...literally as well.  Had the Foo on the iPod.)

Being in a different space on an unfamiliar setup was really quite nice.  I tend to be a bit claustrophobic...and because of the location of my office (and the size)...it is sometimes a little bit stressful for me.  I'm not complaining..I am happy to have a job, a place to work and all that.  I just really enjoyed having the extra room to move around in today.

It was really nice to lighten up from the stacks of "stuff" and be able to just do my work.

Don't we all need to lighten up occasionally?  Some of us carry a lot of burdens, cares, and responsibilities...and we need those little diversions to help us get through the rough spots.  Just like I was given some space to breathe today...maybe you need to allow yourself some of your favorite things around you...or allow yourself to do something just a little differently than you normally do. 

Do you remember when we were in school and every so often a teacher would take us outside to have class?  I think that this happened possibly three or four times while I was a kid.  Once it was a math class and I believe that we were studying the metric system.  The teacher took us outside and let us measure various things.  Another time, it was a science class and the lesson was what it would have been...but it was a pretty day...and so she taught it outdoors.  She might as well have...we were all looking out the windows anyway.

I just remember how cool it was.  Obviously.

I need to lighten up in another way, too.  I need to pay closer attention to my weight again.  Apparently, while other people have extraordinary abilities to run marathons, decorate beautifully or prepare something so over the top that you just gasp...my superpower is the ability to store energy.  If I could only store up money half as well as I do weight...I'd be golden.   

When I need a break from the mundane and need to get my mind focused and my spirits up...there are some guaranteed ways to get me pumped up. 

Like...thinking about heading to London and Paris.  Ooh la la and tally-ho. 

Nice, yes?

Actually, I am trying to plan a trip there this Fall.  Assuming I can pull it together with points, spending money and timing.  That'll a real mood elevator and change of scenery for sure.

Or how about some music?  Music makes me happy.  It also makes me tune out everything except what I am supposed to be concentrating on.  Why it has this effect on me, I know not.  But it does...

Why yes that IS "Times Like These" by the Foo Fighters!  Okay, okay...here's one that's a little milder...

Kind of makes you wants some Mentos, doesn't it?  True story...for several years after this video was released, the Foo Fighters had to stop playing "Big Me" during their concerts...even though it was one of their biggest hits.  The band got tired of being pelted with Mentos everytime they did.  Frankly, I've been craving Mentos for the past week.  The new album that I've been listening to non-stop has been out for a week.  Coincidence?  I. Think. Not. 

For a bad mood...there is always Gerard Butler to make it all better...

Yes, a good Gerard Butler movie can definitely make me smile.  My favorite was...

Yes..."The Ugly Truth."  I'm not going to pretend that it was a movie that is going to do a lot for your spiritual growth...but I did enjoy it.

Speaking of spiritual growth...I pretty much like anything by Max Lucado.  Another favorite is Bruce Wilkinson...who wrote "Prayer of Jabez"...and did a week-long revival-type instructional series at our church.  I hear that he is coming back this Fall.  Guess who will be attending that?  (If you guessed "Karen"...you would be correct.)

I can always go for a wonderful sunrise...

Or sunset...

Sometimes, I don't have to go any farther than this...

Or this...

Come on...you know they're cute...high maintenance...but cute.  (Kind of like the two in the picture above them.)

I don't know what it is that makes you feel better.  Maybe you could cut some flowers from your yard or buy a bouquet to put on your desk, or paint your toenails one of those awful brown or black colors that are apparently so popular now.  Maybe you'll decide to take a day off and do nothing but exactly what you want to do.

But whatever you do...when life is hard...try to find a way to lighten up!  If nothing else...it will give you a brief point in time to just get beyond whatever is weighing on you.  Well, at least it works for me.

The last way that I lighten up is actually the most effective.  I simply ask God to take the burden.  The trick, of course, is to trust that it is handled and then to refuse to take it back.  Yes, it is difficult...but it is also what we are instructed to do. 

So, let's lighten up!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Lately I've been thinking about charitable giving.  This is probably because of the super-cute address labels that St. Jude's Hospital sent me yesterday...a true update from the ones that I get from at least three other charities.  I used to feel obliged to send in a check (even if it was small) every time I received one of these.  Funny thing, though...before long it seemed that everyone was sending me labels, notepads, and even postage.  World Vision is giving away free Third Day CDs if I would only agree to sponsor another child.  I love Third Day...and their heart for doing this.  I hope that they give away a ton of them.

For the past several years, our family has sponsored Clever Musakuma in Zambia who is approximately twenty years old...married and a father.  So, technically, we are "grandsponsors."  We keep sending the money...and we get correspondence from Clever's designated writer every year.  Last year, he listed the reason that he was not in school was that he was "working to support his wife and child."  Well, alrighty then. 

Charity is defined as "the voluntary giving of help, typically money, to those in need" (thank you, http://www.dictionary.com/).  I don't know if Clever is technically "in need" any longer as I was supposedly paying some of his educational expenses, but I'm not splitting hairs.  I am fairly sure that the project in Zambia that I was actually supporting in his name probably still does.  And I'm really okay with that.  I'm not exactly "Sponsor of the Year" either.  We don't send letters, care packages, or feel that we must board a plane to Africa to visit him.  Some people do all of that.  I just felt led to send the money...and so I do. 

Other than St. Jude's and World Vision, I've also received requests to donate to money to three kids going on mission trips this summer, the local food bank, two veteran's groups, and my sorority's foundation.  I saw photos from a huge annual breast cancer walk that takes place here in Montgomery that was last weekend on Facebook, and read an appeal from a friend who is doing the Susan Komen 3-Day Walk this Fall...and so I donated in honor of my mother.  I've been given chances to donate at my local drugstore, grocery store, and bank over the past month or so to various organizations.  Not to mention appeals for the earthquake in Japan, the blood bank, my sorority's annual philanthropy support (Children's Miracle Network...where I donated for myself and for my daughter).  I can also check the box with my power bill to donate...and even had the opportunity to give part of my state income tax refund to one or more of the fifteen or so approved organizations by checking a box when I filed. 

Sometimes I get frustrated  because it seems that there are so many appeals and so little extra money for me to give!  I look forward to the day when nearly every dollar I own isn't allocated somewhere for something. 

Other times, I hear of someone getting practical by figuring out how to truly meet a need and being blessed in the process.  They make something and sell it to raise funds to meet a specific need, or ask their birthday party guests to bring something for the local humane shelter instead of a present.  Groups from work, the neighborhood, a club, or at church get together to sponsor a family during the holidays or try to help out someone who is in need.  Personally...those are the ones I like.  Occasionally, those stories make it into the newspaper or the Readers' Digest and I think..."How awesome is that?"  Like the Tom's shoes guy or the people who take donations of eyeglasses, coats, blankets, or stuffed animals and find a niche where these items can be repurposed and people can be served.

I'm also far more inclined to donate to something when I see more effort than someone sending out an appeal for something like a mission trip and not even putting a stamp on the envelope.  My opinion?  If you don't put a stamp on your envelope...then obviously you don't believe that I'll give.  I want to see a little more faith in me than that.  If you really want me to give and you are passionate about what you are going there to do...ask me in person or call me.  Offer to mow my lawn for a donation.  Show me that this is more than something you are doing because it sounds interesting or it will look good on your resume. 

Maybe that's harsh.  Possibly. 

In truth, though, I have sponsored nearly every kid that I know well who has asked me and one or two that I haven't.  One was a kid who wanted to go to Zambia (Clever's home) and who was working to earn his expenses.  He was to help build a school in a village.  I wrote him a check because I was so impressed when his aunt told me about it all that he was doing to go because he was so passionate about it.  He did send me a follow up letter, and I sponsored him the next year when they went back to do another project there. 

I'm not able to be a huge giver...although I would like to be.  I give what I can and what I feel in my spirit is what I should do.  Sometimes I pass.  I wait for that little whisper that tells me to give and how much to donate. 

I really do love the photos or a note after they get home telling the sponsors about their experience.  That makes me happy to have been a small part of it.  I do not feel that I am called to be a missionary to a foreign land.  Believe me...I've asked.  But I believe that all of us are called to be missionaries where we live.

Charity begins at home, yes?

There are so many things in our lives that we take for granted.  Clean water, electricity, air conditioning, insect and pest control, adequate food, and a place of our own.  Most of us have the means and the freedom to travel wherever we want...when we want.  We have multiple cars, lovely homes, stocked pantries, and most of what we need and a lot of what we want.  Our storage buildings are overflowing and we waste more money each week on entertainment than some people need to live on in a month. 

I understand all of that, and sometimes I remind myself how blessed I truly am when I am in the middle of a pity party or angry about something stupid.  Which, unfortunately, happens more often than I'd like to admit.

One of the things I'm really working on is the fact that I tend to be cynical.  I find it to be a very rare occasion when someone I come across really and truly needs help.  I know that there are genuine needs all around us, but sometimes I just can't help thinking that someone is trying to sell me a bill of goods.  Much like I've found that some very wealthy people act as if they are anything but...this is also true of people who have a genuine need.  They try to make do and don't want to trouble other people for assistance.  They seem to want to blend in.  It is the people who make sure that you know how bad everything is that make me highly suspicious of their integrity.  I mean, it may really BE bad, but since everything is relative...I just tend to believe the worst so I'm not disappointed by finding out that I've been fooled. 

I'm really working that cynicism, by the way.  It just seems that some of the "poor" people that can't feed their kids can somehow manage to have a cell phone, their hair coiffed, and nails done.  Something about that just doesn't add up to me.

So, I suppose that St. Jude's will get their annual donation and huge kudos on the redesign of the address labels.   I just wish that they had left the "Ms." off of the front of my name...but otherwise, they rock.

I don't know how you feel about charity.  Maybe you are a bit cynical like me...or maybe you are involved with a charity that you know is reliable and making a difference.  I hope that you are.  I know that they are out there.  A friend at church started a group for women dealing with breast cancer, treatment, and recovery.  Other groups support homeless ministries that are bringing items that are truly needed or teachers who are using a lot of their own money to outfit their classrooms.  I applaud each of these.

Because after all...that's really what we are here to do...God's work.  Not ours, not what looks impressive...but what He would have us do.  Because when we are following His direction in this...we are most likely to see something miraculous happen.  I vote "yes" to miracles.  How about you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Weddings

Today I got a text from a friend to let me know that another girl in Jill's class (they are 21) is engaged.  That brings our grand total to four (that I know about anyway).  I'm not even counting the one who got married last December or the girl who also graduated in 2008 from another school who got married this past weekend.  Yikes.

I got married in 1985.  I was 22 years old, had just graduated from Troy State University and had been in my new job at the bank for a month.  The women on my mother's side of the family tended to marry at 27 or 28, but since Big Dave was 27...I thought that was close enough.  After all, I had not a clue as to what I was going to do with myself after graduation anyway.  Frankly, I'm still not sure.

Our wedding was nice, but it was not over the top by any stretch of the imagination.  First of all, it was held on a Sunday afternoon at 2:00 because I wanted the anniversary date of July 7th (7-7) and because all of my family was coming in from out of town for the wedding.  I wanted to spend time with them and not be off honeymooning or something.  Most of them arrived on Friday, and we had a couple of days together...which would have been impossible had we married on Saturday afternoon as we would have spent the whole of Friday night with the rehearsal dinner and most of Saturday stressing about the actual ceremony.  This way, once the wedding was over...they just left to go home.  Perfect, yes?

At that time, most people got married at the local church with a reception immediately following in the Social Hall.  There were items like finger sandwiches, cheese straws, fruit, cheese platter, nuts and mints on the table.  Everyone primarily showed up for the cake.  We left the church for our honeymoon after that was served.  Time from start to finish?  Approximately an hour and a half.  They threw birdseed at us as we drove off in Big Dave's parents' car...because neither of our vehicles were entirely dependable.

Boy have times changed.

I suppose that in the North, weddings have always been bigger productions.  I attended the wedding of my friends, Jacqueline and John, several years ago and there was a nice sit-down dinner with dancing afterward.  The funny thing was that this friend is also the only person that I know who was actually late for her own wedding.  Apparently the woman doing everyone's hair took considerably longer than projected...and we ended up waiting for awhile until she and some of the bridesmaids arrived.  Then once the ceremony started there was a wedding Mass.  I'm not Catholic, but I did enjoy the fact that the whole ceremony took nearly an hour so they had adequate time to be in the moment.   In contrast, our ceremony lasted approximately twelve minutes, we were told to kneel (although I had clearly indicated that I wasn't using a prayer bench), and I was headed back down the aisle so fast that I was shocked.  I think Big Dave paid extra for a shorter ceremony. 

At the reception my friends had, there was an open bar and toasts and a box for donating money to the couple.  The reception was very much like those that you see in the movies.  It was very different from what I was used to, but way cool.

Maybe I just wasn't getting invited to many weddings from 1985-2005...but it honestly seemed that somewhere during the Bush years...weddings started getting out of control.  It was no longer enough to just witness the vows and have refreshments.  No.  A thousand times no. 

Today's productions involve wedding planners, caterers for the appetizers/buffet dinner/over the top cakes, designer wedding gowns, party favors, flowers-to-die-for, engagement photos in addition to the bridal portrait, photos during the wedding and reception and the video, band, specialty drinks, special touches, fifteen attendants and groomsmen, engagement parties, and bubbles/fireworks/sparklers while the couple drives off in an antique vehicle/Bentley or Rolls Royce/trolley/horse drawn carriage.  All of this costs upwards of $20,000...if you're careful with your money.

This wouldn't bother me so much except for the fact that Jill is 21.  Yes.  And the last time I checked...21 comes right before 22. 

After our tail end of the "Baby Boomers" bunch married between 22 and 25...primarily because it was just the "next step" on the road to adulthood and we never questioned it...the generation behind us (Gen X) had a completely different gameplan.

Their thoughts were..."Hey, I need to get out there and see the world, build a career, figure myself out, and get settled before I even think about getting married."  This group cohabitated more and was less in a hurry to get from engagement ring to birdseed.  In fact, birdseed got "outlawed" sometime during this period...I'm guessing that someone's MeeMaw slipped on it in a place with excellent liability insurance and a lawsuit brought its common use to a screeching halt.

Many of the Gen X'ers (and the Gen Y'ers that just followed suit) married after age 30...if at all.  Two of my sisters (one Gen X and one Gen Y) married at 34.  The third sister just turned 30 and is looking...but is not married yet. 

This late marriage/procreation (relative to me anyway) explains why my sister is six years younger, but my oldest child is sixteen years older than her oldest child.  And between us...I don't know how she does it.  When I was her age, I was worrying about dating and driving.  She, by contrast, is worried about teaching hers (ages 5 and 4) to read now that potty training is completely out of the way. 

Of course, while I was raising kids in my 20s, she was off working in every country known to man and living in three major cities (Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Boston), showing up in Town and Country magazine, skiing a lot, being invited to the guitarist for Hootie and the Blowfish's wedding (she roomed with his sister and his now wife when she lived in Columbia, S.C.), and driving a Miata.   

On the positive side...because of her relatively later foray into motherhood, I get all of the benefits of having what amounts to grandchildren (even if they are my niece and nephew).  In fact, due to all of this late marrying and reproducing, I am now related to eleven people that I wasn't related to six years ago.  On the bright side...we have had new babies or little ones pretty continuously since 2005.

Over the past couple of years, I've started to notice a shift back to people marrying younger again.  I don't know if its the economy, or just the cyclical nature of everything.  (You know what I mean...from service to sales and then to service again.  Which explains why you are now being greeted at the door in your local retail establishment (service) after years of trying to get decent service but couldn't because they were all about sales incentives...and finally giving up on it.  So they'd lose a customer?  Big whoop!  There'd be another along any moment...  And then the economy tanked...so we are being "served" again with door greeters.) 

In this next generation, I can see it in my own family.  My two nephews are married (both at 24) and so is my niece (25).  I now have a great nephew...and his cousin is due in November. (Making me related to five additional people by marriage or birth that I wasn't related to four years ago).

And now it seems that everyone Jill attended high school with will be getting married within the next couple of years.  I'll be going to more bridal showers.  More weddings.  And then...more baby showers.

I suppose it won't be long before some young man walks in my door looking to have a conversation with her Daddy. I'm so not ready for that.  I'm fairly sure that this will occur the year that I turn 50.  I want a party to celebrate this milestone...so she will probably do a totally Jill-ish thing and decide to get married the week of my birthday.  After all...turnabout is fair play since I did that to MY mother.  (Except that it was her 39th birthday, right Mom?)

Unless, of course, the young man has it all figured out and is so awesome that I'll be falling all over myself trying to come up with the modern form of a dowry...which translated means...I'm willing to pay for a wedding.  Frankly, I think it would be easier to just purchase two tickets to Vegas, give them a couple thousand dollars and get them to tell the Elvis performing the ceremony hello for me.

While I don't doubt that he will be wonderful...I really do sincerely hope that he is on the ball because once he takes her as his wife...he takes any related coupon books associated with her too.  Hey, he's still getting a bargain.  Trust me on this.

The payment books will definitely have to go with her as I'll need some cash flow to pay off that dowry.  I'm fairly certain that I'll be paying off wedding related bills for ten years after that...or more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Unfinished Business

Sometimes I look around and realize that it is time to regroup.  The days pass and I keep following the same paths around all that I have to do while trying to cram in as much of what I want to do as possible.  Add a little bit of "we may never pass this way again" as a mother of a high school senior in on that and it becomes a jumble.  That's pretty much how the last few weeks have been for me.  I need underwear?  I wash whites.  Need to find the sink?  I unload and reload the dishwasher.  But there is no method to the madness...and I have that out of control feeling that comes when you can't even find your to-do list.  Not every day...but definitely for the past couple of days.

Right now, the checkbook is out of balance, and I am sitting here beside a vase of dead flowers even though there are plenty of reinforcements outside just waiting to be cut on my rosebushes.  There is a book review that I promised an author who sent me a free book I'd put on Amazon...ten days ago...and I'm still sitting here in my church clothes instead of changing into what I plan to wear to the Easter cantata tonight.  (Yeah, yeah, it's not technically a cantata.  But it involves a choir, is at church, and is about Easter.  Ergo my liberal use of the word.)

Bad feng shui, yes? 

A tree died in the Northwestern United States to provide me these debit card receipts.
Unfinished business.

But actually, these are just short term issues that will likely resolve themselves over the next few days.  I have some far worse offenders.  Like the cross stitch sampler that I saw in a Better Homes and Garden magazine in 1987 that I thought would be darling to hang in my home each Christmas.  It took me eight years to finish it.  I still haven't framed it eleven years later.  Frankly, I'm not entirely sure where it is right now. 

Or the baby blanket that I started crocheting for the baby that was Jill in 1989.  I still have it because I intend to finish it at some point in time.  I'm thinking that at the rate I'm going, it will be for my great-granddaughter...or will just completely disintegrate from dry rot.  I know not which.

Seriously, an entire herd of elephants with a two year gestation period each has been born since I started this blanket.
I think all of us have unfinished business in life.  Maybe we said something boneheaded to someone when we were a kid or we did some things that we regret and need to apologize for...but don't want to rock the boat now that we hope they've forgotten all about it.  Maybe we've asked for forgiveness and are alarmed to discover that there are still occasional pinpricks of guilt when something regarding whatever it was rushes across our minds.  We recoil at our remembrance of letting someone down, of not fulfilling an obligation, or just losing our cool at a situation that we misunderstood.  If you have done any or all of the above...you're actually totally normal, by the way.  Other than a few souls who have no filter whatsoever...the majority of which comprise our reality shows and guest spots on Jerry Springer...most of us don't go around advertising how badly we've messed up.  For some, it is obvious.  For others, you might be surprised what you'd learn if you could be in their heads. 

Some people feel guilt not because of something that they did...but because of things that they failed to do.  They didn't speak up for someone who needed an advocate, they didn't make room at the lunch table for the new girl, or they didn't answer the phone when someone needed them because they didn't want to get involved.  Those sins of omission, so to speak, are often as awful on the inside as the ones that reflected actual negative actions.  I personally believe that the opposite of love is not hate...it is indifference.  Sometimes our indifference is more powerful than we think until our eyes are opened somewhere down the road of life.

So how do you finish it?  Well, that's a tough call.  But you do need to eventually make a decision.  Are you going to put it to rest, give it a proper burial and move on?  Or are you going to keep rehashing it?

For those of us living by faith, we have to do all that we can to make things right, but we also have to ask for forgiveness.  We have to learn from what has transpired and then we have to do the most difficult thing of all...accept that we are forgiven. 

Today I heard the most amazing thing at church...if the Devil starts reminding you of everything you've ever done...pricking your conscience with times you've failed or reminding you of your weaknesses...remind him of his future.  I've read the Book and I know how it ends.  I also know that there are a lot of characters in there who have messed up royally and were given a second, third, etc. chance. 

I don't know what unfinished business you have in your life...be it a project or a relationship.  What I do know is that there is freedom from the weight of it by getting it handled, forgiving yourself or someone else, and letting it go.

I don't care how bad it is...or how long you've been flogging yourself over it. 

As for me, I just got back from getting up to change the roses.  I'd been meaning to do it all day yesterday and the better part of today, but just couldn't make myself get up, walk the thirty steps to the rose bushes, and get it done.  Maybe you are staring at that mountain of laundry or the pictures in your hall that aren't hung.  Oh, wait, maybe that's just me...

You know it is bad when you can point to THIS as a huge step forward.

Progress was made when I got them out of a stack and put them where they are supposed to go.  But I'm thinking that actually hanging them on the wall might be a novel idea.

Enjoy your life, but remember...the most successful among us are finishers.  Anyone can be a great starter...but a great finisher?  Yet that is what we are called to do...to run the race set out for us.  And unfortunately, sometimes that race has an obstacle course component to it.

It is my hope that I will finish that baby blanket soon.  It has been with me for over twenty years now...just waiting on me to stop doing other things long enough to finish it.  There's no rush, obviously, but it has held a little place in the back of my mind for a very long time...and the older I get...the more mental space I am going to need cleaned out just to be able to function.  (On a side note...I do wish I could find the "erase" function for the list of prepositions in alphabetical order that Mrs. Wilson taught us in 7th grade.  Why yes, I CAN still recite them.  Scary!)

Oh well...I'm off to finish something that needs finishing before I load up to go to the Easter cantata tonight.  I actually have some unfinished business in my friendship with Beve that will be dealt with tonight.  She attended the Foo Fighters documentary with me at the local movie theater a week ago, and I'm going to watch her "Easter program" that she swears is not a cantata. 

One final thought...just remember Jesus' last words on the cross were "IT IS FINISHED."  I don't know about you...but that's inspiration enough for me...

P.S.  The "Easter Program" was actually quite lovely.  One song in particular had half of the congregation standing (I assume the half that attends Contemporary Worship...which I do sometimes so I'm not knocking it...).  I just took it all in and enjoyed it.  There was one song that used a foreign language (as all cantatas are required to do) and one that sounded like it was from "The Sound of Music."  I half expected Julie Andrews to come twirling down the center aisle.  But other than those two cantata-ish numbers...it was great.  :)

Points In Time

Today is the 2nd Birthday of this blog!  There were several people who had a hand in getting me to sit down and try to figure out this whole online experience.  They know who they are and hope that they know that they are appreciated.  One told me that I ought to consider writing a blog...another sent me e-mails back and forth and kept telling me that she enjoyed my writing style.

In case you were wondering, the title for this blog came out of thin air. What that basically means is that I was sitting at the keyboard about to type something and thought...what do I want to write about at this point in time? While I am not normally known for literal thinking...I have to credit divine inspiration, because I literally wrote "Points In Time" and then added the "My" in front of it. There was no burning bush...but the words slipped into my fingers two years ago...and here we are.

Frankly, most of the time the subject matter just comes to me that way...through something that comes to mind, something that is happening, or a snippet of something that I read on the Facebook news feed. What I write about is about as random as possible...but my life is a bit random. And that's really quite okay with me.

Several of you started reading and signed on early, and would mention things on my Facebook page about what I had written.  I started the My Points In Time Facebook page to have a place to deposit the blogposts so that more of you had easier access.  I stopped copying them over a few weeks ago and instead put the link on that page so that you would know when there was something new posted.  For the longest time...I have had very few official followers of the blog but I've known that some of you who weren't showing up in the follower count were out there.  My Mom has clicked the buttons at the bottom of the page almost every day...because she cannot figure out how to actually "follow" the blog.  So she does what she can to let me know she's there...including calling me to ask me about something I've written or to tell me that I have consistently used "insure" in a place where she's quite sure I mean "ensure" so that I don't continue to embarrass myself.

Why yes, I DO come from a long line of English teachers, educators, and voracious readers.  A misspelled word is, therefore, among the worst offenses a writer can be found guilty of.  (Another is ending sentences with prepositions.  Whoops. )

Of course, that wasn't my worst spelling error.  In one post, spelling "pacaderm" incorrectly (correct is "pachyderm") after actually looking it up in the Google box and then seeing it (and writing it) incorrectly because my eyes failed to override the stubbornness in my brain was super embarrassing.  I'm sure that there were others...but I hope not too many!

Yet in spite of the occasional spelling error, gramatical snafu or place where I repeat myself...I really enjoy trying to put something out here that you might be tempted to read.  Sometimes I write essays...other times a faith journey, occasionally something fun, and from time to time I'll give you what amounts to an entry in my diary.  I rarely know what is coming from day to day...but I do know that whatever it is...I enjoy the process. 

If you are reading this now...know that it is you that keeps this going.  I enjoy putting my thoughts out here and seeing what you will teach me through your comments. Sometimes what I say touches a common chord that runs through all of us and a lot of folks will have something to add.  Know that I think of your interest, encouragement and comments as providing the other half of our conversation. 

Maybe one day I will compile these blogposts into something...or not.  Perhaps I'll try my hand at fiction, or I'll get a stronger vision of where all of this is leading.  But for now, the only word I have received in my spirit has been "write."  So I write.  Of late, however, I've been getting the impression that the writing needs to go in a specific area.  To narrow it down...I'll obviously need your help.  Please continue to comment as often as you feel led. 

I hope that those of you who have stopped by have enjoyed the past two years...and especially the past week as I've enjoyed celebrating with you! 

Please keep reading...and if you know someone that would enjoy this blog...I do hope that you will tell them to come by. 

Again...thank you for two years of support, kind words, encouragement, and feedback.  I hope that the coming year will be as much fun as the past two have been.  Or even more so.

Hope to see you here...and again...THANK YOU.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Family lore has it that once upon a time, a little girl was taken to see "Bambi" in a movie theater.  It was supposed to be a treat and was probably talked up by the mother for several days in anticipation of this fabulous event.  It stands to reason that popcorn was purchased and a beverage was in hand with the expectation of something like Junior Mints to come once the popcorn was exhausted.  It was - in short - a mini-version of nirvana.

(The state of being...not the band.)

The theater darkened and the people quieted and all that could be heard was the sound of the crunching popcorn and the sounds of the dancing concessions making their way across the screen.  It was like a giant television...only BETTER.  It was beyond the scope of all imaginings.  It was THE SILVER SCREEN!

(Silver meaning figuratively in this sense...not the actual color of the screen...although in the early days of film the projection screens really were painted silver for better brightness, contrast and depth according to the oracle...Wikipedia.)

The cartoon was next...probably something from the Mickey Mouse collection...you know...the characters that comprise "old school" Disney...Pluto, Donald Duck, Minnie, Goofy, and of course...Mickey.  That turned out to be fun...but it wasn't Bambi.  It was the warm up act! 

The chanting inside the brain began...Bambi...Bambi...BAMBI!

Then suddenly...there he was.  In living color.  Bambi.

Cute, huh? 

Except for that part about Bambi's mother being shot by hunters and the matter of that forest fire scene.  You think a cute little Thumper and some bluebirds are going to offset that?   Let's just say that someone didn't handle all of that very well.  Or so I'm told. 

Yes.  I had to be carried out of Bambi screaming at the age of three because I was traumatized by the forest fire scene.  And for those who wondered why I absolutely must have concessions in a theater and why I must refuse your offer to see something hideous...now you know. 

Although it was unlikely that I was wearing the tee shirt, it was pretty clear that little Karen was Team "Bambi's Mom" NOT Team "Buck Who Shows Up at the End and Is Supposedly Bambi's Dad."

That was strike one.  Strike two was a movie that I went to see with my mother that she kept her hand over my eyes most of the time.  It was apparently something that she really wanted to see, but she didn't want to deal with the blowback from that decision.  I'm fairly certain that strike three was "Fantasia."  I believe that that one proved to be a bit much for me as well...which doesn't really shock me since it somewhat creeps me out as an adult.   

A few years later, I watched a movie called "Frogs"  It came out in 1972 (per the oracle Wikipedia).  That means I was nine-ish when this cinematic masterpiece came to the Ritz Theater in Thomaston, Georgia.  Here's the movie poster.  

This movie haunted my dreams for the next three years.  Okay...longer.  Overactive imagination?  Yes.  Definitely yes.  Here's the synopsis of the movie in case you were spared it missed it.

Jason Crockett is an aging, grumpy, physically disabled millionaire who invites his family to his island estate for his birthday celebration. Pickett Smith is a free-lance photographer who is doing a pollution layout for an ecology magazine. Jason Crockett hates nature, poisoning anything that crawls on his property. On the night of his birthday the frogs and other members of nature begin to pay Crockett back. Written by Kelly W.

Hey, let's just say that what they say about "payback" is totally true.  Ol' Jason got his...as did a whole host of other people. 

Then I saw "Westworld" in 1973. 

Ewww.  Just ewww.  I never did forgive Yul Brynner for making this movie. The synopsis said "a robot malfunction creates havoc and terror for unsuspecting vacationers at a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park."  Yeah, it caused a lot of havoc and terror for my overactive imagination, too.  (Update: I understand that this is coming back around like most of the movies I detest...Westworld 2012 is apparently being cast right now.  Great.  Just great (not).)

And then...in 1978...Halloween.  I'm not even going there.  I can't even pull the movie poster off to copy it over for you here.  The blog is my happy place...so no.  Just no.

(TRUE STORY: this just happened.  I was editing this to post and heard the theme for Halloween.  The volume is on very low so I've been ignoring the TV.  Guys, it is currently on AMC.  I had to get up and turn it to George Lopez.  O.M.G. Creepy, yes?)

I wouldn't go see any of the "Friday the 13th" movies or "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies when everyone else did during my younger days because I couldn't afford a therapist.  Thankfully, years later, that "therapy" came in the form of a former boyfriend of Jill's who sat on the couch with us during a Friday the 13th marathon and showed me how fake it was.  I felt safe with him sitting there and by about the 6th one...we were laughing...and I finally realized that what I was seeing on the screen was fantasy.

I know.  It took awhile.  I was 42 years old.  I kid you not.

These early bad experiences with movies aside...I have found that I really enjoy some suspense movies, almost all romantic comedies, and a few historical movies.  I can stand the occasional drama...except those that end badly like "Message In a Bottle" and "City of Angels."  Those movies?  I boycott. 

And why yes, I HAVE had moments of drama in a movie theater (see the post on "Amistad" HERE), but not like I did as a child.

I've come to realize that having an overactive imagination is the other side of a double edged sword that makes me somewhat creative and fairly sensitive to what is going on around me.  But let's just say that a lifelong fear of frogs, forest fires, robots and psychopaths means that I've done my "time" in the slammer to earn that creativity.

Fortunately, it is not genetic.  My daughter can see the most heinous things in a theater and not be freaked out.  She can sleep afterwards.  But then again, she can also ride fair rides with abandon and has no problem with that bungee cord thing at the beach.  My heart rate went up just typing that, by the way.  My son can hang with her, but he knows his limits.  That means...he normally avoids horror movies, but if his sister is home, he will watch one with her occasionally. 

Big Dave just sleeps through everything...so, whatever.

I did find the antidote to my movie paranoia...watching old movies.  Catching James Dean in "East of Eden" sometime around 1977 introduced me to what we know now as "Turner Classic Movies" or "AMC."  There used to be a movie that came on WTBS - Channel 17 - out of Atlanta in my hometown in the early afternoon on Sundays.  It  was a huge deal because up until that time we only had three channels and PBS.  The "TBS" stood for "Turner Broadcasting System."  Thank you, Ted Turner.  Oh, and this explains why we all watched some of what we did.  Five channels.  No, not five things worth watching out of the three hundred channels you have...five channels, period.  So, if you can do the math with five worthy shows out of 300, do the math and you'll understand why we watched a lot of Lawrence Welk, Hee Haw, and soap operas.  Exactly!  Captive audience.

Julie Harris (in this movie) was in a play at a theatre where my parents were working...I think it was Bucks County Playhouse...but I'm not entirely sure.  Anyway, she held me as a baby.  Cool, yes?  :)
By the way, did you know that James Dean only starred in three movies?  "East of Eden" was the first followed by "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant."  He certainly made an impression, though.

I grew to love old movies (and still do) because they weren't trying to push the envelope as much.  Even their scary movies were tolerable to me.  Old movies tend to end right.  They don't have rapid fire profanity or graphic scenes that make me uncomfortable (ie. Anne Hathaway in "Love, Drugs and Other Things.")  They entertained the viewer without trying to take that viewer somewhere that they really didn't want to go.

(Like a camp out in the woods with a bunch of other teenagers, for instance.)

And just when I thought I was over all of the "movie paranoia" out comes "Black Swan."

The poster for the film shows Natalie Portman with white facial makeup, black-winged eye liner around bloodshot red eyes, and a jagged crystal tiara.

No offense to Natalie Portman, but I still don't know exactly what that movie was about.  Fortunately, it ended well.  The description "well" is relative, here.

In a few weeks a movie is coming out that I'm looking forward to seeing.  It is called "Something Borrowed" based on a book by Emily Giffin.

And the best thing?  I already know how it ends.

It ends well. 

If you are one of those people who can sleep after watching Linda Blair in the "Exorcist"...more power to you.  I am not from your tribe.  But if you are up for it...we can catch a good chick flick somewhere.  Just know that popcorn is mandatory. 

So are good endings.