Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On Passages of Life

Tonight I was talking to a friend who has a daughter getting married in "100 days"...which is nearly impossible to believe.  I remember her daughter in high school...and there's a part of me that still believes that every child who passed through the halls of Trinity Presbyterian School is still there.  I'm often amazed to realize that some of the kids I remember passing through are nearly thirty now.

I have hit that place in the life of the Southern female where I am hearing about a new engagement every week on average, and all of the brides-to-be are sweet girls that are eerily close to the age of my daughter.  In fact, last May, Jill was a bridesmaid for the first time.  One of her best friends in high school is married now. 


This means that I'm bumping the ceiling of another season of life.  I know this because sometimes there seems to be no air in the room.  Perhaps it is the denial.

Southern women go through numerous seasons...and the kids that go through the same school here locally become a closely banded group of about seventy-five that travel from kindergarten through 12th grade on the same school campus.  We have all sat together on the bleachers, have served on various committees, and a lot of us attend the same churches.  We've been friends...or we at least have numerous friends in common...and we know the children that are several years ahead of ours...and many that are in between if we have more than one child.  Our children have played on the same ball teams, attended JH Ranch together, ran around in the same neighborhoods, and have attended mission trips together. 

In other is a village.  And you know what has been takes a village to raise a child.  So, when you hear news that one of the children has just received a is big news.

If you count those seasons we have gone through together from high school graduation to now, they include:

Being a bridesmaid in numerous weddings and/or attending untold numbers of bridal showers.  I even threw several for various friends.  Some of us joined the church as newlyweds and were in the same Sunday School class.  That means that we are pretty much friends for life.

Pregnancy and attending many, many baby showers.  I don't know about everyone else...but I think I must have attended a baby shower every month for about three years in the early 1990s.  Sometimes more than once a month.

Kids' birthday parties...including haunting Chuck-E-Cheese, Discovery Zone, Looney's Skating Rink, and several at home involving dress up, art, inflatables, limousines (I know...) or overnight guests.  Some weekends we would have three birthday parties to attend and we would have to actually leave early from one to show up late to another one.  A friend and I have daughters a day each year we would have to decide whose birthday party was going to be on what day to minimize the confusion.

School parties that were all theme based and seemed to come around every four weeks.  Add to that the projects that involved making models of tabernacles, finding native dress for people living in Paraguay, making tea stained handkerchiefs into Christmas ornaments, and dressing up like a pilgrim.  Throw in some book reports, memorization of entire chapters of the bible., parties that were so precious and over the top that Southern Living would have been impressed every holiday, and three tests on one day every single week...and that was the Cliff's Notes on elementary school.  At least they didn't have to wear shoes to school until the 4th that was one less hassle.

Chaperoning 5th quarters and monitoring online communication marked junior high...along with begging for a cell phone, and serious eye rolling.  I've tried to erase much of this point in time from my memory.

Driving and dating.  Living through broken hearts, girls who weren't really mean at heart...but you'd never know it by looking, and the normal drama that accompanies that separation that is inevitable between the sheep and the goats.  By the way, the goats think that the sheep are absolutely no fun, and the sheep think that the goats are on the express train to Hell.  Both are right...and both are wrong. 

Surviving senioritis.  College visits.   Drama over college admission and roommates.  Graduation.  The realization that you actually have to rent an apartment three months into the Fall Semester...for the NEXT Fall Semester.  Wanting to let go...and wanting to hold them close simultaneously.

Empty nest...moving them into their first dorm room/apartment...and leaving them there.  Realizing that they have to figure out what they want to major in...and that they will actually survive awful things like statistics and economics.

Sorority Rush.  Stress on steroids.  Or the other side...first semester as a fraternity pledge.  Going onto campus and being proud that your kids are among all of the wonderful traditions on the campus...and being scared to death by some of what you see.

Then it is four, five, six, or more years of college followed by graduate school or...

A wedding. 

Right now, my daughter is in her senior year at University of Alabama and my son is beginning his freshman year of college.  We won't be empty nesters this year because Brian has elected to go to college locally.  But all around me are those who have moved on to the next stage.  They have married children...or even grandchildren.

Gee, it really seems like I was just 27 years old.  And I was...21 years ago.  Now I am seeing my nephews and niece heading toward that age...all with a son and another with one on the way.  Time flies.

I think that sometimes we are so busy moving from Monday to Sunday from vacation to Christmas...that we don't realize how fast it all goes.  We know it in our heads...but our hearts don't want to believe it.

One day we have our grandparents...and another day...they are gone. 

One day our house is noisy, we live in a perpetual state of exhaustion, and we have more on our plate than we can say grace over...and the next is quiet and we realize that we actually have time to pursue our own interests.

One day we are worried if she will get into private school for kindergarten...and the next day we are hoping that she will marry someone that we know God created especially for her and not someone who isn't worthy of her.

One day we are driving everybody everywhere...and the next day we realize that the McDonald's french fries are no longer under the seats and no one's cleats are stinking up the car.

In other goes on.  And the older we get...the faster it seems to move.

I hope that if I am blessed with a long life...I'll follow my friends into weddings and baby showers and grandchildren.  Maybe I'll finish out my days on Alabama soil...or maybe I'll find my way back to Georgia or somewhere I've never even considered before.  Perhaps I'll write that book that is just itching to get from my brain to my fingers, or maybe I'll be content to just breathe in and out...simply grateful for all that I have already been blessed with in this life.

I honestly don't know.  I'm having to trust God for all that.

What I do know is that in 100 days...a friend will watch her baby girl become a beautiful bride.  She will remember the day she brought her home from the hospital and all of those days in between that she watched her grow into the wonderful young woman she is today.  

Someday, Lord willing, it will be my turn to tell someone that it will be 100 days before the wedding...unless, of course, she elopes to Las Vegas to be married by an Elvis impersonator.  She might, you know.  Life is always full of surprises.

In the meantime...I'm holding on to each of the little milestones that remain.  I'm sharing the joy of my friends who have already traveled ahead.  I've often found that their intelligence about the pitfalls of that next phase has saved me more times than I can even count.  In turn, I've looked around and helped those that are a step or two behind me on the path and tried to return the favor by showing them the way.

I hope that the next 100 days will be a wonderful time for my friend and her daughter.  I've watched one friend go through it recently...and the precision that it takes to pull off everything is an amazing lesson in productivity and creativity.  The end result was a beautiful wedding on a perfect day. 

Another friend is also planning her youngest daughter's wedding to take place early next year.  She will make the third of her three children to get married this year.  Three weddings in one year.  One of them was out of the country. 

Nerves of steel, I tell you.  Nerves of steel. 

But you know what?  She'll pull it off.  And it will be phenomenal.  After all...she's made those tabernacle models.  A wedding?  Piece of cake.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Conclusion - Part IV

(This is Part IV of a series I've been writing for the past week...check out Parts I, II, and III if you haven't already...and as always...thanks for reading!)

When we left off...our fearless band members were putting out more great music...and as things generally happen...after awhile...either the band breaks up or it finds a new way to reinvent itself. 

Fortunately, the Foos are masters of reinvention.

The songs released from the fifth album "In Your Honor" - released in 2005 - included essentials such as "Best of You," "Resolve," and "No Way Back."  All of these totally rock. 
If you ever don't think that Dave Grohl can sell a this video for "Best of You."

I love this video for "Resolve" - especially the "Asian Dave" that appears in it...
If "No Way Back" doesn't make you want to get up and get moving...nothing will. 

And finally...a really cool video that was shot in a 360 degree room for "DOA."
Do not know what the obsession is with the muffins...but I do love the dog in this video. 

The band went on to do an acoustic tour that gave a whole new dimension to the band (2007).  They expanded the band to include a keyboardist and a female violinist, used a number of "B side" songs and eventually released a compiled album called "Skin and Bones" that was the band's first live album.  My favorite from this album was "Marigold."  This song was actually the first song that Dave Grohl wrote, and it appeared as a "B side" for "Heart Shaped Box" (In Utero album).  Here's the Foo Fighters version:
It is an amazing rendition...and it rocks in spite of the fact that the band is seated during an acoustic concert.  The words are amazingly simple, but the melody is what sells it.  It is the only song performed by both Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and the only song Kurt Cobain performed on that he had no creative input.  His version is below:
And the music doesn't start until about 30 seconds into the just hang on. 

I personally prefer the Foo Fighters version.  But then again, I am unlike most fans of alternative music.  I came to Nirvana through Foo Fighters...instead of the other way around.

The band released another album in 2007 called "Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace."  The title came from a song called "Home" on the album that is just amazingly beautiful.  Essential songs from this album include "The Pretender" and "Long Road to Ruin."  A lot of fans enjoyed this change of wonderful acoustic music intertwined with the band's rock energy.

You honestly have to look at the 3:28 minute point in the video.  It is my favorite. 

The band put out a "Greatest Hits" album in 2009.  But they weren't done...

In 2011, the new album "Wasting Light" was released.  The entire album was recorded in the "old school" method - analog tape - in Dave Grohl's garage.  The band also performed the entire album on CBS dressed as The Beatles (the clips were in black and white).  After the album was played...the Foos went on to play another hour (the clips were in color) from their massive library.  It was a wonderful surprise for the people in the audience (and me at the computer watching it live.)

Essential songs from this album include "Rope" and "Walk."  A third video for "White Limo" was put out as well...but it is probably my least favorite song on the album.  Weird.

This song ("Rope") had actually been in the "vault" for a while along with two other songs that showed up as bonus tracks on the Greatest Hits album.  I absolutely love this song...and love that Pat Smear is back on this album.  He played on the second Foo Fighters album and was a touring guitarist for the acoustic tour...but he's back in the fold full time.  Love this.

This video is hilarious.  It is based on the 1993 movie with Michael Douglas ("Falling Down") where Dave just "snaps" as he tries to get to rehearsal.  The bumper stickers while he is stuck in traffic are the last straw. 

I don't know where the band will go from here...but I am hopeful that they will continue playing great music.  I'm a huge fan of Dave Grohl/Foo Fighters and think that a lot of people don't actually listen to their music because they assume that everything the band puts out is rock.  Not so.

One of my favorite renditions that Dave Grohl did is the acoustic version of "Everlong"...
Come can't not like THAT one.

Or the one I mentioned earlier..."Home"...
By the way...Dave received a piano for his birthday less than five years ago.  He'd never had lessons.  He said that this song would be nearly impossible for him to play in concert because it is so close to his

I don't know if you have taken the time to walk with me these past few days as I've written these blogposts.  I hope you have.  Maybe you've been surprised that the music was different than you expected.  If you'd never taken the time to listen and had written the band off for some reason (as I did Nirvana)...hopefully, you'll be a new fan.  There's quite a library of music to download and enjoy.  At the very have been exposed and can make a decision whether you actually like the band and its music or not.

There is something real about this band that makes me feel as if I know them.  Dave Grohl is an immensely talented musician, and I am extremely impressed with his versatility and his staying power in an industry that evolves constantly.  He's a family are all of the Foos.  They take their family with them on the road frequently.  In a recent interview, he said that there were ten kids under the age of seven backstage before many of the shows along with their wives and other family members.  I love this.

I'm not a huge fan of tattoos (Dave is covered in them), he (and the other band members) use the "f" word like I use the word "and," and we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Honestly, I couldn't care less.

I do hope that you've enjoyed walking through this with me...and I appreciate those of you who have managed to read all of these and "get" what I'm trying to convey.

I'm a fan.  A big one.

Rock on.

Friday, July 22, 2011

History of the Foo - Part III

(If you haven't read the other two might want to go back and start there...)

After the beginning of the band...there were the usual issues.  Band members came and went.  There was drama and growing pains.  The growth of pop and rap pushed rock acts to the back of the line.  MTV changed to become primarily reality TV and people started becoming more interested in country music.  But through it all, the Foo Fighters kept moving along.  They kept finding ways to reinvent themselves to do something different.  For people who don't really understand what this means...I suppose it is just letting the music reflect what is going on at the time and not being afraid to take risks.

That's another reason I love this band...they are constantly evolving.  No matter what mood I am in...I can find something in their library of songs that suits me.

The second album was "The Colour and the Shape" and featured an ambitious 20 song album.  Because it was released in 1997, getting MTV airplay was still a good way to build exposure for the band.  The essentials are Everlong, Monkey Wrench, My Hero, Walking After You and Wind Up. 

Most hilarious to me is that the band members play all of the roles.  That's Taylor Hawkins (the drummer) in the blond wig and the guitarist (Pat Smear) and bass player (Nate Mendel) after Dave's character. 

"Monkey Wrench" is probably in my top three Foo Fighters videos.  According to my iPod is also one of the top three I listen to.  If you listen to the "elevator music" in this video, you'll hear "Big Me."  Nice touch.

"My Hero" is a great song and one that everyone has probably heard as it got a lot of radio play.

"Walking After You" was inspired by and used on the "X Files" TV show, the video doesn't really reflect it.  It has that "stalker" feel to it like the Police's "Every Breath You Take" - or maybe that's just my interpretation.  And the girl?  Just an actress.  But you'd never know by watching.  In fact, Dave is so good at the acting parts in most of the videos (especially the funny ones) that I think he should host Saturday Night Live AND be the musical guest (with the band, of course). 

No video...but a great song.  It has that classic "rock screaming" that Dave is prone to doing at least once on every album.

After more personnel changes, the band was down to three (Dave, Nate and Taylor) and they released the band's third album "There Is Nothing Left To Lose" - which I thought was an appropriate name - in 1999. The album was recorded in Dave's basement and the cover art shows the "FF" tattoo on the back of Dave's neck as the primary image. 

Essential songs from this album are "Learn To Fly," "Breakout," and "Ain't It The Life."  Frankly, I actually like the "B sides" of this album a lot.  These include "Gimme Stitches" - which sounds like it should have been on the soundtrack for the movie "Fight Club" - but wasn't (but could have possibly been inspired by the movie since the movie and the song were released in the same year), "Stacked Actors" - inspired by Dave's time living in Los Angeles (or about Courtney Love...she thinks so, anyway), "MIA" - because I love the lyrics...clever, "Headwires," and "Next Year."  It was this album that changed the band's sound to more melodic.  Of course, "Breakout" and "Stacked Actors" satisfied the fans expecting class Foo Fighters.

My favorite video is "Learn To Fly."  Check out Jack Black and Kyle Gass from "Tenacious D" and the different roles that each of the band members play.  Also, listen for "airplane music" of the band's song "Everlong" before the video starts.  Hilarious.

The song "Breakout" was in "You, Me and Irene."

 "Ain't It The Life" is really a pretty song.  Not exactly what you'd expect from a rock band, is it?

In 2002, the band released another album after more band drama...and after the addition of guitarist Chris Shiflett.  Essential songs on this album: "All My Life," "Times Like These," and "Low."

"All My Life" is the song that the band plays at every show.  Amazing energy.

This is my favorite Foo Fighters song - "Times Like These" - but actually, the version I prefer is the acoustic version like this...
Amazing, isn't it?

In fact, it was a live version of "Times Like These" that got me started on Foo Fighters to begin with.  I bought a CD at Target called the "Target Red Room" for something like five dollars.  "Times Like These" was on that CD.  That was in 2005.  I've been a fan ever since. 

I've been an obsessed fan for the past two years.

Come back tomorrow for Part IV.  See you then...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stuff Happens - Part II

I don't always understand it, but one of the most universal truths that we all share is that "stuff happens."  Occasionally, that "stuff" is amazing and wonderful and we're on top of the world.  We remember every detail of that time because we knew that it was special...noteworthy...heavenly.  On the other hand, sometimes we are flattened by what life throws our way. 

Sometimes one minute life is normal...and the next minute it's not. 

And we are left flailing away in the wake of what has just capsized us.  Some people handle grief by being gracious, others by avoiding mention of it, some by falling apart, and a few just seem perfectly the time.  Most find a way to cope...some never do.  Sadly, none of us is immune to the pain of the unexpected if we're breathing. 

Usually, the most common words spoken by someone whose world has just been rocked is "it just happened so fast..." or "I should have known."  We just wonder why "stuff happens" and we go through the stages of grieving our unmet expectations, our loss, or our shattered dreams. 

The final stage is acceptance.  When we get to acceptance...we can breathe again.  When we can breathe again...miracles tend to happen.  We just have to figure out that first step.

Imagine being 25 years old, you're experiencing success in a major way, and then one is all over.  You're a drummer for a band...and your front man...the one everyone associates with the band...has checked out.  I can imagine that it is inconceivable to know exactly what to do...especially in light of the resulting guilt that normally accompanies the survivors of the suicide of a close friend or family member. 

You sit.  You grieve.  You are suspended in time.

And then one get off the couch and get over yourself.  You move.  You produce.  You create.

Well, if you're Dave Grohl you do.

He rented studio time and took the songs that he had been writing for the past several years and he recorded them by himself.  He played guitar, bass, drums, and he sang.  One song had a second guitarist, but every other song that he recorded was done on his own.  After years behind the drum set...he was out in front.  He was creating again.  Moving forward.  Giving it a shot.

The easy thing would have been to have found another gig as a drummer.  But fortunately, not everyone takes the easy road.  Some of us take the hard road...just because it is there.

He took those songs and had cassettes made of the session. (CASSETTES.  Remember those?  They were right after the 8-tracks...)  He decided to put a band name on them just to get a reaction of whether or not they would be received on their own merits and not simply because they were done by "Nirvana's drummer" since fans were still mourning the loss of the band.  He chose the name "Foo Fighters" - which was apparently a code name for the British UFO seekers in the World War II era. 

The cassettes got a good response from those he shared it with and interest from a record label followed soon thereafter.  So, he put a band together to tour the album.  Instead of re-recording the tracks with the new band, the album that he made on his own was released. 


Songs from the album included "Big Me," "This Is a Call," and "I've Been Around." 

True story about "Big Me."  Because the video was a parody of the Mentos threw Mentos on the stage every time the band played this song live.  They had to take it out of the set list for a long time because they got tired of being assaulted with candy.

Also, the band did "funny videos" to get play time on MTV.  During the mid 1990s, pop bands ruled.  In order to get on the rotation, they had to do something more than just present the music.  This was the first of numerous videos that the band did that got the attention they were looking for at the time.

Here's "This Is A Call" and you can hear what I just wrote in Dave's own words...

This is one of my two favorite songs on the album.  The other is...

This is "Alone + Easy Target" and it was what we used to call a "B side." 

I guess I like this song because I think it was how he thought of himself at the time.  The "alone" part is easy to figure out...but the "easy target," you ask?  

Well, that was because there were a lot of people who wanted to put the guy in a box.  He was a drummer.  He was a member of Nirvana.  He was supposed to stay exactly as people perceived him to be.  Most people do because the pressure to conform is ridiculously strong.  Not Dave.  Thank goodness.

There was also a lot of criticism in that people thought he was trying to pick up where Nirvana had left off.  That he should move on and do something different.  In all fairness, the bands are both loud...and Grohl was a common denominator (as was Pat Smear, the guitarist).  But Nirvana is like a verbal interpretation of an "I don't give a rat's behind" attitude coupled with a haunting but melodious bad dream.  The early albums were full of angst and anger...and the later ones were more mainstream while still being edgy.  Foo Fighters, on the other hand, is like raw energy with strong pop and punk influences.  It evolved from what essentially was a "demo" cassette into a band that refuses to rest on its laurels...because they just don't think that they are finished creating great music yet.   

That's another reason why I love this band.

The album sold well and people supported the band.  However, Dave's identification with Nirvana was so strong that it took someone with the right combination of guts, talent, will, and timing to pull it off.  Thankfully, he didn't give up.  Personally, I greatly admire people who take the hard road and are able to follow their dreams in spite of the harping, the jealousy and the obstacles that less talented people throw up to try to trip them up.  That kind of belief in yourself is so rare in this life.  And yes, I am normally a fan of the underdog.  Think about it...wouldn't life be grand if we could just do that in the most challenging area of our lives?  What could we actually accomplish if we did?

I don't know what path you've walked...where you've struggled...and what you've had to overcome.  I do know that watching someone make it through is incredibly inspiring. 

Come back tomorrow and I'll continue the story in Part III.  Lots of great music left to cover.  Thank you for reading. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Beginning (Part I)

Everything has a beginning. 

My beginning with music came at a fairly early age because I come from a musical family.  On my mother's side...everyone played piano and/or sings.  Everyone but me, that is.  Fortunately for everyone, the vast majority of them also have absolutely no problem getting up on a stage and performing.  Whatever the opposite of "shy and reserved" is...well, that would be a pretty good descriptor.  In fact, even now my uncle is a full-time entertainer - a profession that he was encouraged to follow after finishing an engineering degree at Georgia Tech - thus satisfying my grandparents that he'd have something to fall back on "just in case."  They needn't have worried. 

He wrote the music for the song "Spooky" that was recorded by the Classics IV in 1967 and re-released by the Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1979.  He also wrote a song called "What Would I Do Without My Music" that I am told the Auburn Singers used to close performances with just a couple of years ago.

Cool, yes?  I only discovered this as a friend of mine was talking about this song she loved that the group did (her daughter was a member at the time) and I asked her to tell me some of the words.  She did.  Same song.  Small world.

I remember my mother being delighted that I could carry a tune when I was little - but apparently nobody recognized that I had (and have) a very limited range.  What I can sing - I sing.  What I cannot - I fake.  If I push the pushes back.

Part of the reason I love praise music in church versus classic hymns is because praise music is in my range.  Sometimes when I sing hymns I'm afraid that what it takes for me to reach a note might be scaring people or exciting packs of dogs two neighborhoods over from the church.  It's okay though.  I figure that if God made me this way...he understands.

I had to turn down being a soloist once because I couldn't hit the notes.  I didn't know why...because what I could sing was tolerable.  Eventually I realized that having a limited range was not going to make me the ideal choir member nor would I ever be called upon to lead singing.  I did sing in the Lee High Singers in high school as an alto.  It was more for the socializing than it was because I had a burning desire to express myself thorough the medium of music.  What I did learn from that experience was that I was better at the choreography...and that the words to "Blue Bayou" are still somewhat stuck in my head thirty years later.

I also used to sing "Sweet Child of Mine" to Jill when she was little along with lullabies that I made up.  She didn't seem to mind.  I know that some people might question the wisdom of singing a Guns and Roses song to a little person, but the words fit.  Plus, I thought I could sing better than Axel Rose most days.

I grew up in the era of hair bands and Southern rock.  My earliest memories are of Bob Dylan, though.  I can still hear "Lay Lady Lay" and think back to my childhood.  However, after hearing the song on the radio and liking it, someone purchased the first album I ever owned...John Lennon's "Imagine."  Imagine that.  I was eight.  The first 45 record I bought was at Medcalf Music Shop in Thomaston, Georgia and was Elton John's "Crocodile Rock."  I also owned "Kung Fu Fighting" - so let's just say that my musical taste was developing.  During the summer of 1975, when I was twelve, I listened to the Elton John Greatest Hits album so much that I still know most of the lyrics to the songs on that album.  I also knew every word to the "Grease" soundtrack a few years later, so it wasn't always just rock 'n roll for me. 

My generation had groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Heart, AC/DC, Judas Priest, The Rolling Stones, 38 Special, ZZ Top, Queen, Molly Hatchett, Kiss, The Eagles, The Police, Bon Jovi and The Cars among others that we pretty much assumed would go on forever.  Many of them have.  I do know that our kids are familiar with a lot of these groups...probably because they have been subjected to a lot of pop and rap music that is certainly unlikely to ever be considered "classic."  The great portion of the music that I grew up listening to definitely was.  I've always known that this was a lucky coincidence, and I tried to tell Jill's friends that I used to drive around that they needed to know more about music than Nelly had to offer.  A lot of them still remember that.

High school graduation for me was in 1981.  Saturday Night Live had come out only a few years prior to this and musical guests gave us access to some of our favorite groups.  Prior to that, it had been Wolfman Jack's "Midnight Special" on Friday nights.  Music videos in the early days were either of a recent concert, or were taped in a studio where we could see the performers.  For most of us...this was cool enough.

And then in August 1981...MTV.  Music Television.  Little spacemen planting an MTV flag on the moon.  VJs enlightened us on what was going on in the music world...and videos went from just being videos of the artists singing to amazingly creative three minute advertisements for the artist.  A few of my favorites were Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" and Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" - just because I thought they were cool.  And who can forget Robert Palmer's models dancing around in his videos?  (Answer: obviously not me.)

I got married in 1985 - just as "Miami Vice" was launched and MTV was on overdrive.  Other than watching a little on the weekends...we just didn't have time.  Big Dave and I were in school at night during these years.  I did discover that listening to Def Leppard very loud was a way to calm my nerves after a night of lectures or group projects in graduate school.  I'd worked all day and got through class by being jacked up on Diet Coke for the better part of the night.  Listening to loud music gave me a way to tune out everything and then get home and fall into bed.  I wore out those tapes, by the way. 

After finishing graduate school and building a house, we welcomed Jill in 1990 and Brian in 1992.  My life was that perfect storm of minimal sleep, busyness, and guilt that accompanies many working mothers.  During these years I was either singing to the kids, listening to "kid music" or the local Christian radio station.  As a result...I pretty much tuned out most music for the next ten years.  After all, MTV was becoming less and less about the music and more about simply being a "brand."  They set up shop at the beach for Spring Break and started putting reality shows out there that pushed the envelope.  Parents began getting fed up with the influence and started turning MTV off the remote.  It was fine with me...after all, I was watching Barney anyway.

I was exposed to Hootie and the Blowfish and some groups in the mid-1990s, but I was still listening primarily to Christian radio or talk radio (political) instead of music.  Most of the rock bands were overwhelmed by pop and rap...and I was just...overwhelmed period.

Sometime as I was leaving MTV, alternative music was out there growing in popularity.  I listened to a little of it but was more than a little appalled at how unwashed everyone looked when they were the musical guests on Saturday Night Live.  I know that's a stupid reason for blowing off an entire genre of music...but I did.  The band Nirvana was one of the most well known bands to come out of this period.  The songs were simple and soulful - and defined a generation of listeners that are ten or so years behind me.  I knew that the lead singer was Kurt Cobain - and that he had some serious drug issues and was married to Courtney Love.  See, I wasn't totally out of the loop.  I also remember that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound (in April 1994) and left his wife and a one year old daughter behind.  When he died, he was 27 years old.

This sad end made me even more determined not to listen to Nirvana because I pretty much figured I wouldn't like it.  I don't remember hearing a Nirvana song until one was featured in a movie with Ryan Reynolds called "Definitely, Maybe" a few years ago.  I mention all of this because I had so closely associated Nirvana with Kurt Cobain that I never really thought about the other members of the band.  Why would I?  Other than a few bands - and primarily the front man - I just thought of the band as a whole rather than the individual artists that comprised it. 

I'm doing a lot of talking about Nirvana for a reason.  See, Dave Grohl, the front man for Foo Fighters was the drummer for Nirvana.  I became a Foo Fighters fan first and then checked out Nirvana.  A lot of other people checked out Foo Fighters because they loved Nirvana.  Yes, I dare to be different.  Here's a video of my favorite Nirvana song "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  I do not understand the title...but that's okay too. 
You really have to see him wearing out the drums.  Awesome.

Every story starts somewhere.  Dave Grohl's story as a musician started when he was a teenager playing guitar for a garage band.  He taught himself the drums (using pillows according to legend) and started touring at age 17 with the band "Scream."  He was recruited for Nirvana as the band's fifth drummer in 1990 (he was 21 years old).  However, it was as if all of the pieces fell together when he joined the band and the band began experiencing commercial success.  And so it went until 2004 when Kurt Cobain checked out and everyone was left wondering where to go from there...

Check back later for Part II...(thanks for reading!)   

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Three Things About Me

I realize that I spend time here talking about my thoughts, my kids, my experiences, and my ideas.  I mean...I'm not putting recipes, photos (except to illustrate a point), or tremendously useful information out here most of the time.  This blog is undefined, hard to figure out, and pretty much whatever it needs to be at any given point in time.  Those of you who stop by have been kind enough to read and comment..and for that I am immensely grateful. 

So, tonight, I want to tell you a little bit about myself.  Not anything earth shattering...and for many of you...this is more like a review than anything else.  At the risk of completely boring you to death...I'll condense it.  Ah, I'll try.  How about I limit it to three things that you may or may not know about me?  Perhaps if you knew these things...I might make more sense to you.  And if that happens...let me know.  I can always use an interpreter.  Sometimes I confuse myself.

Here goes...three things. 

1. I consider everything I do to be a project.
2. I normally have anywhere between three and five things that I'm obsessed about at any given point in time.
3. I'm a Christian; and I believe that God speaks to me through having the same things repeated to me by different people, nature, or in something I'm reading. 

Most of you who know me understand that I am a born project manager.  Give me something you want done and I can pretty much either turn it around for you faster than you thought possible or I can tell you when you can expect it.  I do have a side of me that procrastinates...but this is normally because whatever I am putting off is something that I absolutely have no interest in doing whatsoever.  Through the years, I've learned to just tell people when I'm truthfully not interested in something so that I spare us both a lot of awkwardness.  Like everyone else, there are some things that I cannot avoid but almost have to beat myself into submission to handle like doctors' appointments, cleaning, some things I do at work, and doing things for people that are totally outside my comfort zone (which isn't much...but when it is...ick.)

You want someone to help you get organized, to talk through something difficult without fear of judgment and in confidence, or to be the person who just does the things nobody else wants to do at a social function?  I'm your girl.  Need me to sit with you at the hospital, raise money or deal with something cumbersome? 

And what exactly falls into the "cumbersome" category, you ask?  How about any concert that doesn't involve an electric guitar, dealing with high maintenance, ill-prepared, lazy, or otherwise needy people (exceptions granted for kids and retirees), people who think that they have the right to express their rights and in so doing so take away my right to not have to deal with their rights on parade, cantatas, and people in love with their problems.

Life's too short and all that.

And just so you current obsessions are cleaning, Foo Fighters, and writing.  I'm also a bit obsessed with the current political goings-on and a new budget plan that our family has been on for the past two months.  I should amend that to say that Big Dave and I have been on it.  The kids are oblivious. 

I can hear you thinking, "Gee, what an exciting life she has!"  You have no idea.  Today I got excited by getting the windows in the back of the house clean.  My life is full.

Tonight I am listening to three CDs that I burned from my Foo Fighters collection, and I'm obviously writing.  Also competing with Dave Grohl singing "My Hero" is Greta Van Susteren in the background on Fox News and Big Dave snoring on the couch.  What can I say?  I multitask.

On the subject of the Foo Fighters, I have started putting together a way for my friends who have no idea why I am so obsessed with this band to at least be able to hear some of the music, read the words, and broaden their horizons a little.  After all, I have a friend who broadens mine often.  Isn't that what friends do?  She is determined that I'm going to be at least exposed to something in the music realm other than rock and alternative music.  Bless her heart.  She really tries.  I've found that I like it once I'm there.  I also enjoy Christian praise music, and I gave birth to children who like country music (Jill) and rap (Brian...although he likes almost every kind of music).  Although I exposed them to "good music" growing up...they went their own way.

Anyway, because I listen to every song on every album I buy, I usually end up really liking some of what we would have called "B sides" back in the day.  By the way, that is the true mark of a band I'm going to like.  If I like most of the songs on the album...I love the band.  If not, I can take it or leave it.  For instance, I love AC/DC's "Back in Black" and "Shook Me All Night Long" and a couple of others that they do.  But I'm not a true blue fan because I've never moved beyond just the songs that I like to really check them out.  I guess I cherry-picked the best ones and just moved on.  I mean, the music was popular when I was in high school...and they are still playing it.  I think that is primarily because the poor children in college now don't really have a whole lot of bands...other than perhaps Muse and the bands that are still out there touring like Foo Fighters.  Bless their hearts, they have artists instead.  Guess I'm just a band fan.  Here's some AC/DC for your listening pleasure.
Back to the Foo...there is a documentary of Foo Fighters out right now ("Back and Forth") that pretty much explains everything you might want to know about the evolution of the band.  It will behoove you to get the WalMart version of this documentary, however, because they don't limit their fascination with the letter "F" to the band name.  Fortunately for me, I taped it off VH-1 and the censors took care of that for me.  (Granted I have a gazillion commercials to fast forward through but I'd rather take the FF for fast forward than the F for well, yeah, that.)

The first CD has all of the songs that I think anyone who wants to hear the band needs to hear.  I actually am laughing writing that because I'm not entirely sure that I have five friends who are even remotely interested in hearing this band at ALL, but whatever.  I'm on a mission. 

So, for the next three days, I'm going to try to explain my obsession.  Consider it a primer on the band.  To is just another project.  Something I've wanted to do for a long time so that I could just refer my friends who shake their head in amazement about something that they may not appreciate...but will at least be able to say..."I've been exposed to that."  (As if my Facebook posts on "Foo Fighters Friday" don't count as exposure.)

But there is exposure...and there is EXPOSURE.  Like my friend who volunteered to go to the movie showing of "Back and Forth" (the Foo Fighters documentary) in the theater with me in April.  She was slightly traumatized from the experience.  She's still speaking to me, but I don't think she'll ever be a fan.  And that's okay.  I don't think I'll ever fully appreciate a cantata either.

If you are reading and thinking, "Aw, man...I was hoping she'd write about bad customer service at the local Winn-Dixie" or whatever...I will.  Soon.  I promise.  For those of you who are completely out of the Foo's a song that Dave Grohl (lead singer) did with Norah Jones.  Come on, you can't not like THIS one.

See you tomorrow.  Okay?

Friday, July 15, 2011

On Channeling My Inner Susie Homemaker

Lately I have been on a cleaning binge.  For some people, what I have been doing would be considered normal.  For me, however, it is not.

I am one of those people who was raised in a house of women.  You'd think that this would have given me excellent training in the domestic arts, but that's where you'd be wrong.  The Susie Homemaker gene is sporadic in the females to which I am related...and for some of just comes in spurts.  For others...well, it never comes at all.

When I was younger, my grandmother had "help" who came in primarily because she had done so for years and was in my mind...a part of the family.  Christmas gifts were under our tree for her each year and I know that it pained my grandmother deeply when she passed.  A lot of people had these arrangements because back in the day...babies were born at home.  In that era before the insurance companies began sending women home an hour after delivery, the convalescence period was something like two weeks.   Since men weren't in the delivery room...much less the kitchen or assisting with child care...someone had to step in to help.  Usually that "help" went on for years.

Even now, some of my fortunate friends still have someone who helps get the housework done and those special jobs that can be overwhelming like polishing silver or preparing for a party.  Some other friends have someone who comes in each week or at least every other week to do the "heavy cleaning."  It is really a business for these women...and the few times I've had someone come in, I was almost giddy at how good my house looked.  Sadly, housekeepers just didn't fit into our family's budget when we decided to send the kids to private school.  I've had fantasies of a clean and orderly house ever since.

Needless to say, between having "help" and my family's attitude of "it's just easier to do it myself"...I never really learned how to do housework.  I'm quite sure that someone did it, but I just never really thought about it.  I had friends that were required to cook or fold laundry or make up their bed.  My jobs were to set the table, put ice in the glasses at dinner and avoid getting on everyone's last nerve. 

That last part was way harder for me than you can imagine.

My grandmother was patterned, stubborn, and wanted things done a certain way.  My mother was spontaneous, easygoing and didn't give a rat's behind about order.  Every day was an adventure.

Through the years, I've figured out a lot of what should be done.  Most of it has been learned from observation or from Big Dave.  There are a lot of things in life that you can accent...intelligence...or a tan...but you can't fake housekeeping. 

Believe me, I've tried.

When I was little, I put everything under my bed.  If it was hidden from was clean, right?  I later went the other direction and was so organized that it scared people.  I hung my socks on individual clothespins on a string on my door in color.  Through the years, I've found somewhat of a happy medium.  With the goals of a cleanliness, organization or utilization...I've found that I've only been able to get two out of three at best...long term, anyway.

I'm fairly certain that most people either manage to get housework handled because they like keeping a neat house...or they have help.  Big Dave and I have managed to avoid living in squalor, but housework has ranked right up there with weighing at the doctor's office, the annual gynecological visit/mammogram or cleaning up "gifts" from the dogs.  Wait, that last one actually qualifies as housekeeping.  Yay! (I guess.) 

Big Dave is naturally neat, but there are limits.  He is obsessive about a clean kitchen and he manages to put his laundry in the basket in his closet instead of on the floor.  He puts the toilet seat down, and he will make the bed if he passes by and it is unmade.  I know!  I'm totally lucky, right?  He cooks most weeknights, handles the yard, and even sweeps and mops. 

Granted, he will leave a basket of laundry to be put away until he has either exhausted all of the items in the basket or the items become victims of dry rot.  He is also a bit obsessive about his socks...he puts a "D" on the bottom of each one so that the kids don't confiscate them.  He also does not understand the concept of cleaning the way that I do it has sparked more than one clash through the years.  He puts it away and that's good enough for him.  Me?  I have to take everything out, sort it, put it in bags, drive it to various sites to give it away, and then move all of the furniture to sweep underneath.  For Big Dave, if it is behind a cabinet or closet door where he cannot see the simply doesn't exist.  He usually finds me somewhere in the middle of hauling it all out and wonders if I've lost my mind. I know this because he asks me exactly that.

The most recent cleaning binge started quite innocently.  My sister, nephew and niece along with the folks were coming for a visit over the 4th of July weekend.  Jill was also to be home between summer classes, and I wanted to at least give the general impression that I keep my house all hospitable and such.  It isn't like these people haven't known me for the better part of my life...and know better...but whatever.  I started the preparations while Brian was in France at the end of May because it was easier to make progress without him coming behind me messing it all up.  I'm not being unfair.  He's like the Peanuts' character "Pigpen."  He's not dirty...but a trail of destruction usually follows him.  The destruction is usually in the form of wrappers, crumbs, cereal boxes on the counter, cups in his room, and boxers on the floor.  Since I've been on my cleaning binge, I've been a "crazy lady" (his words) because I've extracted him from bed to pick up boxers and jerked him away from the Xbox to put away a cereal box. 

(He doesn't know "crazy lady" quite yet.  Wait until he pulls that crap with a wife someday.)

The cleaning has moved through almost every room in the least most of the surfaces that anyone can see.  I've just started moving to the closets and will then be working on the outside windows and the landscaping.

Unless I keel over from exhaustion or snap out of it first.

Oh my goodness...I have totally digressed.  Anyway, back to how this all started...Brian's room. 

I don't know if I built up some confidence with that room cleaning...but I started doing a little bit more every night.  And much like anything that is awful at eating a proper diet or became easier for me to find a little project and just get that little rush of accomplishment for taking my house another notch closer to my ideal. 

You know it is sad that I am looking for self-actualization in a clean mirror or a closet that is not threatening to implode on me like a bad episode of "Hoarders."

Even if that "self-actualization" has meant that I've had to wake up family members to put dishes in the dishwasher, pick up clothes, or put them away.  Or that I've been comatose the next morning because I stayed up until 2 a.m. sorting socks. 

I've given up the dream of Merry Maids swooping in here and making it look amazing.  I mean...I suppose since I am the maid...I might as well be merry about it.  I generally am...unless someone fails to put his cereal bowl in the sink.  (Yes.  There are charging rhinos less aggressive.  Trust me.)

I am trying to get everything taken care of because in two short weeks Jill's apartment items are coming back here.  She is moving into the sorority house at the end of the month for next year, and won't need a lot of what is currently residing in Tuscaloosa.  She will, however, need it the following year as she has informed me that she is definitely finding somewhere to live that is...not here.

So far, I have made progress.  I can actually tell that the house is neater, cleaner, and more organized.  It is more fun to be home without five hundred "shoulda-woulda-couldas" nipping at my heels.  I like getting up in the morning and knowing that the kitchen is orderly, I can walk into the laundry room without being mortified, and I don't have grit on my feet...because the floor is swept.  Even the crickets that were invading my house like some insect version of Hitchcock's "The Birds" have stopped coming in.  Perhaps they are allergic to cleaning products.  Who knew?  I know that they are "allergic" to a folded up "Southern Living."
(Yeah, if you haven't seen the can get the gist in about one minute forty seconds with some weird whistling soundtrack.  Thanks YouTube!)

I'm not saying that my house will be clean enough for Southern Living to come in here and photograph...but I do know that I have enjoyed the freedom that this discipline has brought.  I suppose I'd forgotten how awesome the rewards of discipline are.  Probably because I've been spending a lot of time trying to enjoy life...or just simply being undisciplined.

I hope that this spurt of productivity will last until I can get everything cleaned up and cleaned out.  Next project: body clutter.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On Being a Conservative

According to some of my family members (the majority of which consider themselves "centrist" or "liberal")...I am a raving conservative.  In actuality, I like to think that in the world of government "less is more" (freedom that is)...and I want the government to do what it is constitutionally mandated to do (enumerated powers from Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution...thanks, Wikipedia!):

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

That's it.  That was the original intent.  Everything else was left to the states.  Anything that the government is doing that is not outlined here is a result of the judiciary, constitutional amendment, or (in my humble opinion) overreaching power-hungry politicians.

Do I want clean air and water?  Sure!  But do I want the government outlining what light bulb I can use in my home?  Absolutely not.  I'm pretty happy about what little freedom I have left and I'd really rather it not be chipped away any more than it already is.  I mean, seriously, I don't even really own my home even though my name is on the deed.  Just let me fail to pay my property taxes...and see what happens.

On the other hand...I'm losing rights that I've always had such as religious expression.  If people don't choose to believe in God...that's their loss...and that's my opinion.  You don't have to share my view.  You are entitled to your own.  Whether or not you believe as I do, this country was founded on Judaic-Christian values.  If you don't believe that from a spiritual least respect it from a historical one.  Leave me alone and allow me to have the right to believe as I do.  Turn your head if you have to, but please...stop trying to take my rights away.

In return, I'll respect your right to believe as you do.  I try to remember to respect the person even when I am asked to accept that there certain things that other people strongly believe that I don't.  We're all different, you know.  Because I must be sensitive to other people I have to keep up with the current name of choice for various groups, I have to overlook the obvious, and I have to accept that sometimes other people's right to choose means that my right to not have to deal with it gets put on a back burner.

Maybe you believe that to solve all of the social ills of society that we need to band together and pool our resources to allow government to solve them.  I tend to believe that social ills are best handled by those closest to the situation...neighbors and churches with assistance from local and state government.  I find it embarrassing to expect residents of Montana to fund a bike trail here in Pike Road, Alabama with their tax dollars and I don't like hearing the stories of wasteful spending, people ripping off the government, or ridiculous regulations that protect a salamander but leave farmers without water for their crops.  I personally think that's insanity.

During Hurricane Katrina, some of the residents of New Orleans were waiting for someone to come and fix the situation.  They were on television blaming everyone for being too slow in responding.  People were hurting.  Law enforcement walked off the job.  The pain and suffering was blamed on a lack of action by the Federal government.  The local and state leaders -both Democrats - blamed the president (a Republican) for not responding for three days. 

It was a horrible situation made even more so by inadequate preparation by local and state officials.

While next door in Mississippi...the governor was handling the situation.  The people of Mississippi quietly rebuilt what they could and counted on the assistance of friends and neighbors, youth groups and organizations, along with governmental assistance to clean up the property damage.  I witnessed the same thing here in Alabama in April with the tornadoes.  Nobody was waiting on FEMA to show up.  In fact, some volunteers had to go door to door to encourage storm victims to register.  They were too busy taking care of their own property and that of their neighbors, organizing supplies, and serving other people to worry as much about themselves.  Truck after truck headed north filled with "good ol' boys," "rednecks," and people of every color, religious affiliation, and political bent to do what they could do.

Yes, I am a conservative.  I am not a cold, calculating, rich, heartless creature.  I just happen to have a different worldview.  I actually like Rush Limbaugh and roll my eyes for the thirty seconds that I can tolerate Joy Behar.  See, I get that Rush says things that sound arrogant to people unfamiliar with him, but I've also found that he is right far more often than he is wrong.  Over time, I've learned to trust what he says. He usually gives out information that ends up hitting the mainstream media about three months later.  By the time it is old news to me. 

I don't think that the government can solve all of my problems...but believe that government actually creates more problems than it solves.  I do strongly support the military and recognize that funding and supporting our nation's security is one of the constitutional mandates specifically outlined.

I believe in freedom...but that can't only apply to people who are fighting for equality or other rights.  It applies to all of us.  Even those of us who are white, Southern and Christians.  I think that the people closest to the problems are in the best position to solve them...and that's local government.  I am not a fan of red tape, hassles, or politicians who keep voting to spend more money on stupid programs that benefit few but have to be fed year after year from tax dollars that I seriously hate sacrificing.  I've had it with dung covered canvases in the name of "art."  I'm tired of "pork-barrel" spending, politicians who can't behave ethically, and the liars that make up a large majority of those we entrust with our nation's checkbook.  I happen to hold politicians to a higher standard.  And no, you don't get a "pass" just because you don't have "standards" that anyone can hold you to.  When did we start giving mulligans or "do-overs" anyway?

Don't even get me started on the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Anyway, thank you for letting me get this out.  I've wanted to write this down for a very long time.  Many of the people that I love very much cancel out my vote every time we have an election.  But that's okay.  At least right now...this is still America.  We can think differently and co-exist.  At least I sincerely hope so...because I really do love my family and friends who don't necessarily "get" my views. 

Hopefully, this will help...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Say What?

Every once in awhile life gets so out of control that I just have to rein it in.  Not anything earthshattering, awful, or otherwise disturbing, but just so surreal that you almost feel like you are living in that place you might find yourself in between the snooze alarm and the real alarm in the morning.  Just wackiness that makes you stop and go...

"Say what?"  (Which for you Northern readers is the Southern version of "What the heck?")

My first clue that I have been living in an alternative universe is that I have insisted on cleaning like I work for Merry Maids.  My son's room has been clean since the first of June...which may need to be reported to Guiness' World Book of Records.  The previous record had been something like seven days since 1993 when he started walking.  I'm so not kidding. 

I've folded clothes and put them away...and have realized that I have three extra laundry baskets that I do not need.  Who knew?  Most of the time one (or obviously more) of them was sitting in someone's room filled with clothes that needed to be put away.  These three are in addition to the two baskets in everyone's closet for darks and lights.  Perhaps the baskets are simply breeding in my laundry room (along with the crickets.)  I know not.

There is no laundry to do as of right now and there are no dishes in the sink.  I've run the dishwasher frequently and have unloaded it as soon as it stops.  This alone is miraculous.

The sheets and bathrooms have been changed and cleaned on a schedule, and there is no gradu on the countertops.  I've dusted, and had Brian change the air filters in the air conditioning unit (we have a geothermal our unit is in the laundry room.  I know...weird.)

 I even stood on my bed and dusted the ceiling fan blades the other night.  (By the way, I do not advise this.  Get a ladder, a chair, or someone that you pay or gave birth to to handle this.  I was standing on a bed, looking straight up to dust while being all wobbly.  My coordination level was about the same as the drunk person that always manages to sit behind me at nearly every college football game I've attended so he or she can spill bourbon laced sodas down my back.)

I've also insisted on getting every bill paid the second it comes in instead of twice a month.  In fact, I've been so diligent about this that I've actually managed to pay my house payment twice.  Yes.  Before you think that I'm an idiot, I'll try to explain.  I had a recurring payment set up with Wachovia and when it converted to Wells Fargo this month, I assumed that all of the Wachovia bill pay "stuff" would go away.  To be sure it got paid...I input it again.  I suppose had I read any one of the sixty seven packets of information about conversion that Wells Fargo mailed to me from February - July this might not have happened.  The lady I spoke to in Customer Service at Chase (my mortgage company) with the odd combination of Oriental and British accents said that it is "no probrem" to credit it to the August payment.  Of course, that means that the remaining 22 days in this month are going to be a little bit tight.  Okay...seriously tight. 

I've also been donating stuff all over town.  I took books to the library, passed along some books to friends, and I did a mercy sale to a lady in Belleview, Florida because an item I had on eBay didn't sell and she asked if I'd reduce my asking price if I relisted.  I've also gotten a bag of school uniforms headed to a friend, dropped off books I found at the school library, and loaded my sister down with Oreos and Reese's peanut butter cups that I'd been hoarding before she left earlier this week.

And then there is the the realization that everything in the world is apparently happening on July 29th.  We're invited to a debutante ball (the one Jill was in last year), she is set to move out of her apartment by 10:00 that morning, and she can move down the street and into the Phi Mu house at 7:00 that morning.  Oh, and that's the weekend that we're due to be at the beach with the crew from Texas.  Did I have plans for any other weekend this month?  Um, no.  Of course not. 

My dog Rebel is rejecting food in the morning unless I call Dixie in and start feeding it to her.  Only then will he allow me to feed him from a spoon.  Yes, I actually do this.  At night, he guards the dry food that I put out after picking out the cheese pieces from what I put down for both dogs.  I've broken up one fight over his insistence that his food is his and her food is his too.  I think I need the Dog Whisperer.  Rebel is certifiable right now...but then again...this is not entirely news to us.

I have started my diet again...which means - of course - that one of the tellers felt the need to stop for Krispy Kreme doughnuts this week and the bank had leftover sandwiches, potato salad, chocolate chip cookies and potato chips in the kitchen from a meeting.  I passed them by...whining on the inside...because for weeks there has been nothing even remotely tempting in the break room.  Until now.

I visited a friend last night intending to purchase something from her because Big Dave said it was cool with him.  I ended up staying there until nearly 11:00 last night (I should have been clued in to the time when her husband turned off all of the lights in the house, but I'm not that bright.)  We talked about a few things but I didn't make a decision.  In nearly four hours.  Four.  Hours.  I can make a decision normally before you even get the question out of your mouth.

Then there's been the free or almost free stuff.  I've gotten a free lemon doughnut coupon (unredeemed), a free razor from Walgreen's ($9.99 value), two tubes of Crest toothpaste for a quarter each, two "king size" Reese's Peanut Butter Cup packages for free, packages of strawberries for $1 each (I bought four) from Publix, a canteloupe for $1 from EarthFare, a pile of 75% off stuff from Old Navy, gift cards for my anniversary dinner to Bonefish Grill, a book in the mail, an unexpected insurance check for $131, sales of approximately $100 from eBay and $17 from Amazon.  I've also received three free movies from DirecTV, a free candy bar from CVS, ExtraBucks of $2 also from CVS, three cans of Pillsbury frosting for $.38/can from Target, and twelve pounds of hamburger meat for $1.09 a pound at Winn-Dixie.  I'm not complaining...I'm just a little stunned...and very grateful. 

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that I'm more than a little curious to find out.

Hope it's good!  But even if it isn' should at least be interesting.


One of the worst things about motherhood is realizing that there is an above average number of things to worry about in a given day.  Are they working too hard at something or not hard enough?  Will they be safe or will something intervene in some awful, shocking, or unexpected way?  Are they happy or going through a season of testing?  Have I done all that I could or should to bring out their potential or will they sit on a therapist's couch one day ticking off all of my failures? 

At least they won't end up on Oprah since she finally finished her show after 25 there's that.

I have always been a little of a worrier although I have been in active denial for years.  I consider it looking for the downside and preparing for it.  Give me a situation and I can pretty much tell you the worst case, best case and expected case.  Because I am an optimist...and' yes...I just heard some people yelling at the screen "Say What?"...I do tend to want the best case scenario.  I see things as the best that they can be...and I know how wonderful something would be if all of the pieces could just fall into place.  Sometimes this happens and I get to enjoy a season of wonder and the feeling that all is right with the world. 

But seriously...I'm also fairly realistic too.  I'm not under the delusion that my life issues can be solved in a one hour span of time with time for commercials.  Not anymore.  Big Dave fixed that tendency years ago by telling me that if I expected my life to be like some bizarre cross between the Brady Bunch and a mega-millions lottery winner...that I needed to pull my head out.  Okay, maybe he didn't say it exactly like that...but he did tell me that I'd watched way too many sit-coms and movies with happy endings if I expected all of the loose ends of life to be neatly tied up.  Life is messy.  Good...but messy.

And while I want the best and will always go there first in my thinking...I now just happen to believe that the likelihood of this actually happening is about the same as me ever appearing in public in a bikini again.  I mean...possible...but likely?  No.  So I end up pretty much dealing with any potential fallout from the worst case scenario...and then end up being delighted when the expected case actually happens. 

Through the years, people have thought I was being negative or looking for the worst to happen when that's not really it at all.  I've just learned to be more of a realist.

I'll see if I can illustrate this for you.

Last summer, Jill was presented at a debutante ball here in town.  Her invitation to participate arrived in early October.  The ball was in late July.  At the time, it was impossible for me to find formal wear that would fit.  I don't mean difficult.  I mean impossible.  I also knew that it would be hot as blue blazes in July...which meant that it had to be something that would not only fit...but have (gasp!) short sleeves.  Finally, because we had expenses associated with her participation, dress, invitations, friends, hotel rooms, transportation, food, and a tux for Big Dave, we knew that we needed to be shopping somewhere that wouldn't require me to sell a kidney to be able to buy.

My thought process?

Initially (best case): I'll find the perfect dress.  I'll be a size 8 and it will be easy!  I'll find a coupon and get one from the sale rack that will fit like a glove.  Losing weight and exercising will be fun and exciting now that I have a goal!

Worst case: I'll have to go to the Salvation Army and find a dress in size OMG! or just go purchase fabric at Hancock and wear it like a toga.  Maybe nobody will notice.

What actually happened:  I found a dress on the sale rack at Dillard's in a size that shall remain nameless but didn't have a W behind I was fine.  Rock on.


When it comes to a lot of things in life, I can just let it go.  I honestly don't worry about every little thing.  I even know that in Philippians 4:6-7 it tells me not to be anxious or to worry.  (If I ever get a tattoo...which is totally not happening...this is really the verse I should imprint somewhere other than in my heart.  I seem to quote it to myself more than any other.)  I do well with the not worrying except in two major categories: social situations and my children.

The dress example above is what I mean about social situations.  I stress over what I will wear because I don't have great fashion sense to begin with, I weigh more than I want to, and I don't have a lot of expendable income to devote to looking "cute." 

When it comes to my children...I guess I just flat out worry.  Big time. 

Not that they give me a whole lot of reason to worry.  I just do.  It started with a tough pregnancy with Jill and continued through sleeping, potty training, daycare situations, getting into the right school, tuition payments, girl drama, busyness, cheerleading tryouts, middle school football, braces, glasses, ADD, boys, friends, crazy mothers, driving, competitions, Crohn's Disease, first girlfriend, grade point averages, ACT scores, prom dresses, college choices, more boyfriends, friends, sorority rush, car insurance, prom dates, and, of course, financing all of the above.

Even with all of that...I still feel like an incredibly lucky woman.  I have friends who have a whole lot more on their plate to deal with than this.  I have good kids...and I am blessed.

Of course, I understand that if you have children you never quit worrying about them.  The focus changes...but that underlying feeling of wanting the best for them and feeling pain when they do is just part of motherhood. 

At the same time, I don't want to be disrespectful of all of the blessings that God has showered on my family.  I want, I DO believe that He loves my children even more than I do...although I find that difficult to fathom.  Perhaps when I let go of the worry...He will replace it with more joy and peace. 

I personally think it's worth a shot.  How's that for a best case scenario?