Saturday, May 26, 2012

On Mercy, Justice, and a Whole Host of Other Things

I've always joked that when God was conferring spiritual gifts, he gave me a sprinkling of mercy and a scoop of justice.  I am far more likely - most of the time, anyway - to go to bat for someone who is being mistreated than I am to feel like I should visit you at the hospital.  In fact, the highest compliment that I can pay you is to come see you in the hospital (unless you've had a baby and then I'm so there).   But today I had a revelation.

The two really aren't that far apart...mercy and justice.  It is a razor-thin edge, actually.  I'd just never seen it before.  Both provide feelings that seem to be almost the same...the difference is in the execution.  You we normally handle things in the name of one or the other.

And while I have attended church for the better part of my existence, I have also not really been great at formulating those one or two word descriptors of spiritual truth.  I tend to get them confused.  Such as "mercy is love with its work boots on" or something like that.  Honestly, I don't think that is even right...but you know what I mean.

(For the record...any scripture that I didn't memorize before I turned twelve has been impossible for me to learn.  I can tell you where it is, but I cannot quote it.  Ridiculous, I know.)

When I stand up for somebody who is being run over, the motivation is mercy.  When you visit someone in the hospital, the motivation is mercy.  When you are kind to someone who doesn't deserve it?  Again...mercy.

Previously, I would have attributed the first to justice, the second to mercy, and the third to grace. Now, I'm just a little bit confused.  Which, for me, isn't really completely unfamiliar territory...just so you know.

In investigating the three definitions, I believe that justice - the concept that I had aligned myself with most a desire for fairness and moral rightness.  Why does this matter?  Because although life isn't fair...when it can should be.  We aren't all born with the same advantages, skill sets, talents, or even experiences...but there is no sense in making life any more difficult than it needs to be.  For me...this means that if I see something that needs to be set right...I'm going to try to do that. 

Especially if it involves someone who will not or cannot take care of it themselves.  Or someone I gave birth to.  Or married.  I'm pretty much all over that in a big way.

Mercy is "compassionate behavior" and grace is "unmerited favor."  I had previously felt that "compassionate behavior" was equated with acts of service that involved hospital visitations and other unpleasantries.  Grace, of course, I felt, was God's domain...and that all I was responsible for doing was what God expected me to do using his examples.  You know...all W.W.J.D.

(By the way, I saw a grown man at the post office with a W.W.J.D. bracelet on the other day.  He was probably in his 40s or 50s.  It has been years since I've seen anybody with one of those on.)

But justice, mercy and grace are all interwoven with a golden thread called kindness.  And as long as that thread remains intact...all is well.

Justice on its own can become a usurper of the rights of other people in the name of protecting a class of people.  That is when other people start demanding their "rights" at the expense of someone else.  Mercy on its own can easily turn one into a "martyr" that draws the attention back from the person being aided to the person who is doing the aiding.  And grace on its own can allow people to not face the realities of their shortcomings and the work that God intended to do in their lives because we've been enabling them.

So, in essence, wind that golden thread of kindness around justice and it protects.  Wind it around mercy and it cares for someone.  And wind it around grace and it forgives and includes.

Kindness.  That's the missing ingredient.  And what fuels kindness?  Love. 

It always comes back to love, you know.

Today, I was on Facebook reading posts like I always do...trying to catch up on what happened over the past 24 hours.  I love being in touch with so many people from my past and present and seeing the faces, reading about the joy, and praying for people.  It is now a part of what I do each day...and a part that I truly enjoy.  Yet something caught my attention and made me very sad amidst all of the happy graduation photos, inspirational quotes and Memorial Day rememberances.

A person (who shall remain nameless) was angry about an incident involving someone with an EBT card (food stamps) who had "waddled in front of him and cut him off in line."  He's been ill this week and his patience was probably running pretty low...but he was remarking on two things: that she was using an EBT card (that she left in the car...which was another source of irritation) and that she was fat.


I know a little bit about that.

Okay, I know a LOT about that.

I understand why people who work out, have a great metabolism, have wonderful discipline, or just were born fortunate think that all fat people are lazy.  I probably thought the same thing at one point in time.

Filtering this through what I understand...there's a part of me that wants to be upset.  But honestly?  I'm not.  I'm really not.  Why?  Because sometimes people cannot understand the struggles you have.  And they have enough of their own to deal with, if truth be told.

I have been trying to be more kind this past week...because when I am holding onto the last bit of my patience...I tend to be a little less kind than I believe is socially acceptable.  My temper and self-centeredness takes over in a big way.  The cloak of "my rights" and "my feelings" and "my way" hides my love for other people.

So, no, I will not be "unfriending" the individual who went on about this fat, inconsiderate, lazy person who was living on the dole.  Because honestly?  I don't know her story. 

Most of us have a tendency to see people who are caught up in something and wonder why they cannot extricate themselves from this or that.  Why they can't quit eating chocolate chip cookies, or why they can't stay out of a bar.  Why they cannot resist passing along a juicy tidbit of gossip, or why they cannot have a relationship that doesn't involve sex.  Why they buy things that cannot afford, or rein in their children who seem to be reeking all sorts of havok.  Why they lie to impress people or take something that is not theirs. 

My point?  Perhaps we don't know the story.

I do know that from now on I'm not going to label myself low in mercy or high with regard to justice.  I want to be just a kind and loving person who employs whatever tool is handiest to help someone out at that point in time.  I want to stretch my capacity to love people and to forgive them for saying boneheaded things that they haven't thought through.  After all, I've done that.  Some of it has even been put in writing on this blog.

I am not a politically correct person...generally either speaking my piece or remaining silent.  I don't like labels like "high maintenance", "African-American" or "fat."  While you might have to use the latter to describe me to give someone a physical description...I'd also hope that you'd include words like "merciful", "joyful", "kind", or "loving" if you are describing my spirit.

That's going to take some work, of course.  Which probably explains why I am still here.

So, I'll be visiting a hospital this weekend...although it is not my "happy place" by any stretch of the imagination...but because it is where I need to be.  I'll also be trying to make things easier for people who deserve that consideration.  That's kindness, right?

Wish me well. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I am a first child.  I state that emphatically up front so that you will understand a little bit more about me.  Because we all know that first children tend to be overachievers, the ones who do what they "should" do, or are a little more "type A" than the rest of the general population.  I do know of some cases where the second child...if of the same gender...and they are close together in age...will actually take that first child role...but for the most part we first children are fairly predictable.

We like limits.  Rules.  Reading the instruction manual.  Making people proud of us.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and as I am writing this, I am thinking of several first children who don't necessarily fit this mold.  But humor me.

I am pretty much a rule-follower.  That does not mean that I won't set my own rules if I find that the normal rules are too confining or in my humble opinion...stupid.  I have always seen the world a little differently and have very often been a little bit angry with it for not cooperating with my master plan.  It took a number of bible studies, sermons, adults in my life, and bad experiences for me to realize that I am not in charge of anything. 

I am sincerely okay with this most of the time.

But I really wish that from time to time...that all of the pieces of the puzzle would fit together nicely and produce this masterpiece that was so beautifully put together that I could only see the design and not the edges of the individual pieces that comprise it. 

But that would mean that I controlled the outcome...and we have already established that I control nothing.

Except my attitude.

Which, lately, has been out of control...just so you know.  Not in a Towanda-ish "someone needs to straighten out this mess" kind of way...but more of a "I'm sick of you people being boneheaded" kind of way.  The former is something that I think my Christian faith supports.  The latter?  Not so much.

When I get - and marinate - in the "I'm sick of you people being boneheaded" thing - it is just bad.  Very bad, in fact.

I have two major things that set me off...being excluded...and not being respected.  So, if you really want to see me act like a horse's behind...I've just given you a "how to" manual.

Growing up at the tail end of the "Baby Boomers" (ends in 1964 and I was born in 1963)...I learned early that if I did what I was supposed to do that my time would come.  Nobody factored in the fact that the two generations after mine thought that the rules didn't apply to them.  I know I didn't. 

When I was starting out in banking 27 years ago...everyone aspired to one day be an officer of the bank.  All of the underlings (which I was for many years) respected the officers because we wanted to be one ourselves.  Now?  There are no underlings.  None.  There are banquets, drawings, and support for the non-officers...and they speak to the officers as if they are equals. 

As human beings...they are equals.  But as employees?  I don't think so.  People who are higher up than I am deserve the respect of position if nothing else.  Same is true for me. 

At least it should be.

Other things that try my patience include doctors who schedule patients so tightly that they are habitually late in meeting their appointment times, children who refuse to grow up and fail to ask how they can help around the house when it is abundantly clear that they should, people demanding money to support this or that because they deem it is my duty as their friend, people who cancel things with me over and over and make me feel that I am not important, and the users and abusers of this world.

But I suspect that I am not alone in this.

We go through life trying to be the most that we can be, and trying to put other people before ourselves.  But sometimes, we want to pick ourselves up from being the doormat we strongly suspect that we have become and just ask for a little bit of respect.

Lately, I have been struggling with having a little bit too much on my plate.  Literally.  I have to make some pretty big changes that are going to require some energy on my part to pull off.  I honestly don't have the energy to consider everybody else's feelings and try to navigate the political landscape.  I just don't. 

So, all of you people who think it is okay to tailgate, cut in front of other people, walk slowly (diagonally) across a cross-walk, write checks at the checkout in the grocery store, put everything back in your purse before moving your car out of in front of the drive-thru at the bank or at the gas pump at Costco...I'm talking to you.  There are some of us out here just trying to make it...and your thoughts about anybody but yourself would be really appreciated.

Likewise with the people who find it necessary to send out a memo to every person in the building because you had to change a roll of toilet paper or replace the paper towels in the break room because someone took the last one.  How about you just shut up and do it yourself...or just leave it if you can't bear to avoid sending that memo?  Or people who jump on you like a spider monkey because you left the box of paper that you ordered (and didn't know had arrived because you didn't sign for it) in the way.  How about you just move it and spare me the lecture?

Because right now...I am at my limit.

Limits are good, you know.  You can be flouncing through life from A to B and then "boom!" you hit an electric fence.  You learn from it...and do your flouncing elsewhere.  Or you see the limit and you question it enough to respect it while you test its merit.  I've found that a lot of "limits" that are in life aren't really limits at all.  They are just the borders of someone else's comfort zone.

When people push your limits of good cheer, tolerance and friendship...sometimes you have to push back.  It is too exhausting not to.  And it really isn't fair to other people to go on making everyone around them miserable and not be aware that this is what they are doing.  Most don't know...and some don't care.  It is what it is.

I know that I am not perfect...although most first children somehow aspire to be.  I don't take correction well...but I do take it from people that I respect.  However, I do know that being around people who cut you no slack whatsoever is exhausting.  Almost as exhausting as trying to do everything to please people who are going to find something wrong no matter how hard you try.

Maybe your limits have to do with what you will do for your kids, your friends, spouse, or your family of origin.  Perhaps you have lines you won't cross at work, volunteer positions, housework, or in your friendships.  I have no idea.  I do know that if you don't have limits...there will come a time when you rethink that position.

Limits.  Set them.  Live with them.  Test them.  Accept them. 

That's what I'm trying to remind myself of today...because I have reached my tolerance level and I'm tired.

Fortunately, tomorrow is another day. 

Just don't cut me off in traffic, okay?  Trust me on this one.

Just remember to be kind to people...because people are sometimes at their limit...and you don't even know it.  Do a small kindness for someone...and expect nothing in return.  Be thoughtful, sympathetic, or even if you get to a point where you just can't take any more...people will understand and love you anyway.

That happened to me today, by the way.  I received an unexpected visit and a "treat" that was divine.  How awesome would life be if this were the rule and not the exception?

Answer: Totally. Awesome.

When I get back to some semblance of normalcy...I'm going to do a lot of paying forward.  Because when you are at your tend to appreciate those small kindnesses.  Immensely. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

One of Those Days

Today was one of those days.  I mean...there were really great lunch with my friend, that I received a 20% off your ENTIRE PURCHASE coupon from Bed, Bath and Beyond  and I did get a lot of the to-do list knocked out...but there were some really "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" moments as well.  Lest you think that I get all hyped up at every single solitary thing that goes wrong, demand my rights, and make everyone around me miserable...know that this is far more the exception than the rule (in my mind anyway.)  Most of the time I am able to take what life throws by (or at) me with some semblance of grace.

"Semblance" being defined as "an amount of time that I can hold it together so that I don't go all Jerry Springer on someone who truly doesn't deserve it in lieu of the jerk who actually did."  This time period can be as short as 30 seconds and as long as decades.  Guess it just depends.

Today, however, after paying four years of sorority dues, I did not take the news that we would not be getting the $200 security deposit back because one or more of Jill's roommates thought it would be a good idea to put a forbidden adhesive on the wall and adhere a scheduler to it.  That and then apparently spilled some kind of liquid that seeped under the glass on the desk and just left it there.  My daughter didn't do these specific infractions.  Two were by the bunk beds (she had the single bed) and she didn't use the desk.

Somehow, and you'll excuse my extreme sarcasm, I don't see how it costs $600 to pull down some adhesive and wipe out some gradu from under some glass...but that's just me. 

Of course, I had to send three what can only be described as "classless" e-mails to the only e-mail address that I had available to express my dissatisfaction.  I haven't been this fired up since they fined Jill $100 for missing a Homecoming event her freshman year (she went to church and got there late).  I called National on that one.  And yes...I paid it.

But I howled like a banshee while I wrote that check.

By the way, I am not one of these people that thinks that their kid can do no wrong.  Quite the opposite.  I have pretty much told my kids that if they do something boneheaded...I'd appreciate it if they would just let me know so that I don't get doubly furious by getting mad about what happened and then getting all mad again when I find out later on that they lied. 

Because I'm going to find out.

Frankly, I do this out of self-preservation...I'm afraid I might spontaneously combust or something.  (Or is it comburst?  That whole bust/burst thing used to get me all mixed up in school. )

I had plans for that $200, you know.  I probably would have whimpered...but not gone into full blown Towanda mode over it had they just kept half of it and returned the rest to me.

Oh but no.

Frankly...for what it cost her to be in a sorority for four years at Alabama...they should have just sent me that back to me out of some sense of guilt.  Heartless...

And then I heard that Donna Summer died.  What is up with all of the icons of my childhood and young adult life dying or shall I word this..."a disappointment."  (John Travolta...I'm talking to you, sir).  Dick Clark, Whitney Houston, the guy who wrote "Where the Wild Things Are" and now Donna. 


Rest in Peace Disco Queen.

Word has it that she was a committed Christian, had a wonderful family life, and might have even leaned a little toward the conservative side.  Good.  All I know is that the woman could sing.  Her voice is part of the soundtrack of my life. 

Then I came home and realized that the people who haven't seen fit to call Big Dave to Jury Duty in the 54 years of his existence have now summoned me for the fourth time.  I report June 5th.  Great.  I mean - seriously - who is going to take a raving conservative like me on a jury anyway?  Yes, wait until I fill out this questionnaire. 

Things like..."Have you or any member of your family ever had a problem which you attribute to drugs or alcohol?"

Honestly?  Is there a family out there that hasn't had one?  Maybe MeeMaw got into the champagne at your wedding, or sipped too much wine while playing bingo and had to be picked up an hour and a half away.  Perhaps some well-intentioned doctor prescribed some little yellow triangles that put a family member out cold for three days. 

But maybe that's just my family.

Here's an interesting one that is meant (I'm guessing) to cull out the conservative Christians..."Have you or any member of your family been educated through 'home schooling'?"  Ya think?

Or "Are you or any member of your family involved in any action currently pending in court?"  Well, that depends on how well those e-mails I fired off earlier today about that deposit end up.  Hey, I had four years of pent up frustration over big bills spread over three tiny e-mails.  It could happen.

Here's the one, though, that will most assuredly keep me off of the jury..."Do you ever listen to 'talk radio' programs?"  Uh, YEAH.  Religiously.

Sheesh, reading this I'm getting more disturbed.  They are asking me about bumper stickers on my car, whether I have internet access, websites I regularly visit, whether I have a cell phone and if I attend church or not. 

There are 88 questions on this form.  Most of them require more than checking a box. 


Overall, it has been "one of those days."  But the highlights were worth drawing breath.  Just imagine the damage I can do at Bed, Bath and Beyond without having to have 800 coupons to check out.  I just need ONE.  Rock on.

Even better?  Tomorrow is Friday.  Did I mention that the inlaws are coming for the weekend?


And so it goes... 

Update on the WB

Last week, I wrote about my future experience as a WB (the W is for "wedding" and the B is for "whatever you want it to be") and dreamt of what all that would entail.  So, I am here to give you an update of sorts.  Because the experience was actually quite fun. 

First of all, you should probably know that I was given the spiritual gifts of teaching, administration, and prophecy which means that I'm more or less the person who can show you how to do something, who isn't afraid to speak up, and who can anticipate needs.  Contrast this with the gifts where I was obviously sprinkled with rather than deluged with...namely...mercy...and you might understand why I get a kick out of the role of WB as opposed to HV/NHV (hospital visitor/nursing home visitor).  We all have our roles.

Just know that if I don't visit you in the hospital or check up on you regularly when you are sick...this is something I'm working on...but I'd almost rather pull off all of my by one...than try to find a parking place and visit someone in the hospital.  I'm much better once you get home.  "Much better" is defined as "I will cook something for you, deliver it, and stay less than ten minutes."

On the other hand...some people absolutely hate going to weddings or other social functions that involve dressing up on a weekend.  This includes about 99% of all men and women who can't stand drama or want to spend the weekend saddling a lawnmower or sitting in front of the television watching Redbox with no makeup on in their yoga pants.

Which would be me if there isn't a wedding going on somewhere.

I adore weddings.  I love the kind that have two people who are so happy that they are glowing...and the ceremony is sweet.  Contrast this to the weddings where you are almost entirely sure that something is rotten in Denmark because there is just no joy.  Fortunately, I have only been to a couple of these in my life...and that was more than enough for me.

The current fascination with weddings started in 2007 when my younger cousins and oldest nephew started getting married.  (Actully, my sister, Linda, got married before this, but it was in France, and she planned to have a formal gathering at some point in time...but she ended up being busy with two little people born in quick succession and it didn't happen.  But it will just watch.)

Now I am knee deep in "wedding season" after "the most perfect wedding - ever" - Meredith and Matt's and another niece and nephew and Jill's classmates started getting married.

Jill's classmates.  Oh my, I still see them with bows in their hair.  Except that four of them are married right now and another two have wedding plans for later this year.  My friend, Beve's daughter, Courtney, is getting married in August, and there are various people from the classes of 2005-09 that I know that are currently engaged. 

And the earlier 2007 and forward weddings?  Babies.  Lots of them. 

But back to last week...and my duties there. 

It was no surprise to me that the MOB (mother of the bride) had everything well in hand and had hired excellent people to do the flowers, photography, catering and hair.  The dress was beautiful and anyone getting married at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery is going to have a beautiful place to walk the aisle and a lovely ceremony.  In fact, at first, I pretty much wondered what I was going to be needed to do...because it all seemed to be running so smoothly.

Too smoothly.  Which, of course, always makes me highly suspicious from personal experience.

The MOB asked if I'd like to sashay into the sanctuary and see the flowers while we were waiting for the MOH's (maid of honor) hair to be finished by the beautician that I am totally hiring one day if Jill gets married.

The bride, MOB and I walked in and I saw the lovely floral creations on either side of the rail, but the one that was on the altar was MIA.  Actually, it had "jumped" off of the altar in an act of top heavy-ness or because the air came on or something.  I know not.  What I did know was that the MOB just calmly phoned the other WB working behind the scenes on this wedding to get the florist up there to see what could be done.  (Turns out that it was no problem whatsoever and everything was put back in place and nobody was the wiser.  Except maybe now.  But seriously, you couldn't tell...and now that it's over we can laugh about it, yes?)

Hope so.

Anyway, people started arriving shortly after that forgetting everything from deodorant to actually getting the wrinkles out of their bridesmaid dress.  Fortunately, I had all of this covered.

I don't have a photo of the bridesmaid standing on the stool fully dressed with hair and makeup while I steamed the wrinkles out of her dress while trying to avoid giving her second degree burns.  But then again?  I think you can do this one on your own. 

Or letting a tuck out of another bridesmaid's dress because she was spilling over like a Kardashian and needed some more space...even at the risk of losing the strapless gown.

Or alerting the MOB that the pew markers with the hydrangeas had faded not-so-gloriously and needed attention as soon as the flower arrangement was fixed.

Or helping to carry an insane number of white styrofoam boxes with the contents of the reception leftovers to the car with the MOB.  In the rain. 

I loved every minute of it.  It brought me immense joy to be that close to a happy occasion and to feel like I was able to help someone.  Sure beats hanging out in a hospital.  (But then what doesn't?)

I loved that I was asked and that I was able to help.  The other WB put out food for lunch (it was a 2:00 wedding), handled the bride's book, and helped get the flowers from the reception back to the house.  She was nothing short of amazing. 

The first person to let me close to the wedding "action" was my "other daughter," Lauren, who got married last year.  She was so incredibly kind to invite me to everything wedding-related...and I had an amazing time.  She is about to be celebrating her first anniversary.  Time flies.

I know that the couple that got married this weekend will be happy together.  Both of them have sweet families and they are obviously in love.  That's an excellent start, yes?

In just a few months, I will have the honor of helping out again at another wedding, and I'm very happy to do so.  I don't know if I'll be the WB...but I'll have some marching orders to be sure. 

And one day?  It will be my turn to pick up the phone and let my friends know that Jill is getting married.  Just not anytime soon.  Unless she wants me to open up a jar of Planters for her reception food.  Because that totally will happen if I can't have a little space to save some money. 

It would also help if I could see her glow like the bride did last Saturday.  That hasn't happened yet.

But I am pretty sure that someday it will.  I'm equally sure that my friends will be right there getting me through it.  Rock on. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On Liquidating

If you know me (and some of you do only because I insist on posting stuff all out here in cyberspace)'ll know that I have this odd hierarchy of disposing "stuff" that I (or those people who also appear annually on my tax return) no longer use.  I like to think of this as "being a good steward"...but if truth be is primarily that I love selling something for a good price even more than I love getting a great deal. 

Not a haggling-I-want-to-rip-you-off kind of price...but a fair one.  Where I have something of value to sell and there are people out there who think that they need what I have.  (Having just written that...please note that I am talking about "physical items that I have previously purchased and they wish to purchase from me" as opposed to "stuff in my house that some thug thinks s/he needs to get all up in here and reek havoc to steal."  The former is a yay!  The latter involves someone that I'd like to run over with my car...repeatedly.  Just so we're clear.)

I am not the most tech-savvy creature on earth...but I am probably among the most persistent.  If I don't know how to do something, I am not above going to Books-a-Million and purchasing a "Dummies" book and self-educating.  (Or in a pinch...calling Brian in here to help me.)  Once I catch on, though, I do okay...even if it requires modifications.  For instance, my photos on my personal laptop are all loaded in the music folder on my computer folder desktop thingy instead of the folder for photos.  Yes, I totally realize that this makes no sense whatsoever.  (The description or the fact that I have to go to user/music/2012-05-15 to find the photo of Johnny Law pulling over my neighbor who was apparently going over 25MPH yesterday.  Equally tragic is that I have Picasa loaded on my computer and my computer is geriatric enough to have to actually stop and rest while it considers whether or not it will upload another picture...but that's another story for another day.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah.  Selling stuff.

Over the past six years I have learned how to use eBay quite effectively.  I have sold a number of items...and for a short time helped out a friend liquidate some "stuff" that she had amassed (for a nominal fee, of course.)  I have a 100% positive rating out of 273 I suppose that's good.  I only recently received my first "neutral" rating because a guy who paid $9.99 for three pair of used North Face boys' shorts wanted $1.50 back because there was a small ink mark that I failed to disclose on one of the pair.  I knew I was in trouble with this one when he paid and then sent a message that was to the effect of "This better be perfect or I'm going to be a horse's behind."  Further complicating it was that I failed to check my messages over Mothers' Day Weekend (so sue me...I was at a wedding all day Saturday and it was MOTHERS' DAY on Sunday...sheesh.)

Just so you know...I gave him back $3.33 because I honestly made back a good portion of that in the shipping charge because the package weighed less than 13 oz.  (Mess with me.)

Trust me, however, when I tell you that if you can figure out how to set up a seller account with eBay, set up a PayPal account, photograph and describe your item and upload the're ready to go.  You know...these days...this can probably be done with a smart phone.  I totally wouldn't know.

I mean, in the world of smartphones?  I'm not so smart.  My kids are, however.  (Not that Sprint isn't reminding me frequently that it is time for me to upgrade!  When I must...I will.  But not until.  Hey, that rhymed.)

Anyway, my first go-to spot for selling clothing is generally eBay.  And while you can sell books and other things on there...and I have...I found that textbooks were dramatically simplified on Amazon.  To say that sending those little books that I paid a ridiculous amount of money for give me back at least a portion of just makes me feel better.  (Over the past two days?  How about $112?  Booyah.)

But today...I went down a notch in the "stuff liquidation" process...

Plato's Closet.


Jill had a whole lot of items that were still in good shape.  We found someone in the family who could use some of the items...but she is smaller than Jill is...and so some it had to go elsewhere.  I pulled some out to attempt to sell on eBay...and had some that were "in-between" so to speak.  So I lugged a big bag in there and left several hours later with $12.55...and a big bag.


Turns out they aren't really into buying dresses...and some labels are cool one day and kryptonite to retailers the next.  Seeing as a lot of these items were close to four years old.

FINE.  (I still have $12.55 that I didn't have before.  So there's that.)

I don't know if you are as insane about reselling items as I am...or if you just find it to be overwhelming and too much trouble and you prefer to just bag it up and haul it to Goodwill. 

Or maybe you just leave it in your closet.  A lot of people do.

Personally, I've always felt that your closet needs to be cleaned out every year and every three years needs to go to bare bones.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't keep special items...because you should.  But I do think that it is a little ridiculous to be holding onto something that you aren't ever going to wear again just because you paid a lot for it or because you are going to lose 75 pounds and magically rock those jeans like you did in high school before a couple of pregnancies and the stress of adulthood.

I happens...but me?  If I lose a bunch of weight...I'm going shopping.

And not in my closet, either.

To help you with this...I'm going to give you a play-by-play of how I think about it.  Take it or leave it.

First of all...take your right hand and imagine yourself holding the item by the collar.  Look at your hand.  It is in a fist, isn't it?  Now, I want you to take that fist and roll it over to where your clenched fingers are facing upward.  Imagine pouring something into that fist.  How much would you actually catch?  Very little, I'd imagine.

That's how I feel about "stuff" in my life.  If I am holding onto something...I most assuredly cannot be waiting with my hands open for whatever blessing God sees fit to bestow on me.  And He has been so amazing to bring me the most fun items just because He knows I'll either enjoy them for a season and pass them on or will get them to where they need to be. 

The "stuff" in your life should be constantly changing and anything that has a permanent place should be because of a personal connection you have to it.  In this category is art, photographs, jewelry, special items acquired in traveling, special books, yearbooks, or something given to you by someone you treasure.  Move things around...cull the "stuff" that doesn't matter...and if someone admires something that you have that you aren't in love with...give it to them!

You'll be blessed.  They'll be blessed.  Win-win, yes?

In this economy our habits have changed somewhat.  We are fixing things instead of throwing them away.  We are employing "less is more" and doing away with all of the extraneous "stuff" that all takes too much of our life to maintain.

Right now, my room looks like "Hoarders, the Early Years" and that is because we have too much in this house.  It is only for a season, Jill will be moving out soon enough.  When she does, I'll find a place for everything again...and all will be well. 

In the meantime...I'll be back on eBay hawking outgrown items that still have some life in them or textbooks from courses gone by.  And when all else fails...there's Goodwill.

After all, I pretty much stink at yard sales.  I have too much of a tendency to want them to take it all and enjoy it as I once did.  In fact, at one point in time, my folks had a "free" yard sale.  If you could use could have it.  Rock on.

So, get out there and declutter and move those things along...and lift those hands in praise...and find them loaded down with blessings once you let some of your "stuff" go.  Just don't get your hopes up about Plato's Closet.  (*sigh*)

Friday, May 11, 2012

The WB

I have worked in banking for 27 years (as of June I am obviously rounding up) and have found it to be the runner up in the world of acronyms.  Nobody has anything on the military...but we bankers like to abbreviate everything from CDs (certificate of deposit...and just an FYI while I am here...the plural is "certificates of deposit" not "certificate of deposits" unless you want to see me roll my eyes) to IRAs (individual retirement accounts) to DDAs (demand deposit accounts).  The position in the bank that most of us hold is usually shortened as well...such as FSR (financial services representative...upscale for "account opener") or RM (relationship manager). 

And don't forget the VPs (vice presidents...which are not to be confused with VIPs because I'm here to tell you we are SO not that.)  There are a number of us in any given branch/department/floor.  Lately, they have kicked these up to EVP (executive vice president) and SVP (senior vice president)...which means that you may possibly have more responsibility and an extra week of vacation.

Vacation days totally rock. 

Anyway, because of my propensity for shortening everything long (such as "Kat" for "Katherine") or lengthening anything short ("Jilly" for "Jill")...I more often than not will just figure out the acronym for something long and start calling it by its initials.

Of course, I get thrown every once in a with the OPI nail polish.  I want to call pronounce it "Opie" and those in the know have informed me (with an eye roll because that is THEIR domain) that it is pronounced "Oh Pee Eye."  Well, la dee da.

My favorite acronym of all time, however, is BOHICA...which is short for "bend over, here it comes again."  Not exactly a pretty word picture, is it?  But it does fairly sum up some of those things in life that just require that something be know...when you rip the tags off of something or lose the receipt and notice that it just went on sale 50% off?  Well, that's a BOHICA.  Or your dryer breaks down a month after going out of warranty?  BOHICA.  Generally BOHICAs tend to come in threes...or so I've generally experienced the phenomenon.  Let's just suffice it to say that you will get the short end of the stick.  Yes.

Tomorrow morning I will don a new acronym...WB.  Yes.  I am going to help my friend whose daughter is getting married tomorrow.  She's Jill's age.  Yowser.

I actually signed up for this duty when the announcement was engaged...because someone needs to have that role.  There is enough stress in writing the checks for a shin-dig ("wedding" for you up North) that you really don't need the MOB (mother of the bride) bothered with details like dealing with drama, lost items, getting things from A to B, cleaning up messes and paying people.

That falls to the WB.

Oh, come know what the "B" stands for. And if you have been closely associated with a know that there needs to be one.  Because somebody is just going to make a personal crusade out of being difficult. 

Not while the WB is on duty.  (Nip it!)

I have my orders for tomorrow and I am thrilled to be able to help in any way that I can.  After all, how much fun is it to see a precious girl getting ready to make the walk to remember?  Answer: Extremely fun.

I think that so many of us have scattered memories of our wedding day.  Of people either babying us beyond belief or not making it all about us and using up all of the hot water in the house ON OUR WEDDING DAY. 

(What?  Did my bitterness show?)

I remember bits and pieces of the day...primarily because I willed myself to remember it.  The ceremony lasted a whopping 15 minutes...and the reception was an hour and 15 minutes after that.  It wasn't the way I dreamed it...but it was the way I planned it.  And there's a lot to be said for that.

I hope that tomorrow will be excellent beyond her wildest expectations.

I'm sure it will.  Seriously, I'M SURE IT WILL. 

(Yeah, mess with me.) 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Graduation...and the Bucket List

Several years ago...I believe it was 2007...a movie called "The Bucket List" came out starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  It was funny and pretty much outlined the antics of two men who had reached a "certain age" and an uncertain future as they did all of those things that we all intend to do but somehow either never get around to...or think are impossible.  I remember watching it in the theater and thinking to myself..."Wow...what is on MY bucket list?" 

At the was pretty much..."get the kids paid out of Trinity..."

After that...also in 2007...Tim McGraw came out with a song called "Live Like You Were Dying."

Between the movie and the made a lot of us think.  I'll admit that I'd never heard of a "bucket list" and really had not taken the time to think much about it.  Life was blowing by in 2007...and most of us were blissfully unaware that the recession was going to make the past four years the struggle that it has been for so many people. 

Who knew?  Answer: Not me.

I'm not going to wax political here tonight...because heaven knows I appreciate those of you who are reading this and I don't want to make you feel like this isn't a safe place. 

(My Facebook status, however, is another matter entirely.  Love you anyway.  Mean it.)

In 2010...for some reason I honestly cannot remember...I was somehow inspired to write out some items on my bucket list...and so I produced a blogpost.  If you care to revisit this it is at

And tomorrow?  May 5, 2012?  Besides being Cinco de is also my daughter's graduation day.  She will walk the stage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as a Marketing Major with a concentration in Consumer Marketing from the University of Alabama.  She will - ironically - be seated between a boy that liked her freshman year and one who liked her sophomore year after stating that she had hoped that she'd sit by someone she knew.  I looked it up in the program and found out for her. 

God does indeed have a sense of humor.

She already has a job lined up and she's moving home on Sunday until she can figure out where she wants to live.  We feel that this is her decision...but since she has to stay there at least a year...and pay for it...she needs to do this on her own.  And she will.

I guess it goes without saying...but I'm going to say it anyway...Big Dave and I are immensely proud of her.  She did it in four years...which due to numerous factors including having to choose a major at age 18, money, certain classes that are meant to make passing them mean something, curriculum demands, unavailability of certain classes when you need them or just the need for the occasional break...many take a bit longer.  I'm not knocking that at all.  The point is to finish...whenever.

I'm just saying that we asked her to do it in four years...and she did.

In 2010...on my blogpost...tomorrow was one of the things that I wanted to be here to see.  And I can hardly wait to hear her name called out and see her walk the stage.  If you want to join can go to and find the 2012 Spring Commencement and live stream it for yourself.  Isn't technology wonderful?

Sometimes when I look at Jill I see in my mind the baby that she busy, headstrong and high maintenance.  She still has a streak of stubbornness that I have come to recognize is really quite amazing because she trusts herself in certain matters.  On the other hand, she is open and receptive to good counsel...and appears to be incredibly resistant to what I'll just categorize as "drama"  in most areas of her life.  She is sure of herself...but not cocky.  She is independent...but not distant.  She is organized...but not controlling.  She is beautiful...inside and out.  She has pretty much exceeded almost every expectation that we have ever had for her...and has valued her family instead of turned her back on us.

There have been times when we have given her cause to do so. 

She will be coming home after graduation and will have to sort through four years of clothes, photos, momentos and items.  I don't envy that. Not that she wants to stay here long, by the way.  She thinks of home as where she is...rather than where we are and that is exactly what we hoped for.  She is her own person.

And a wonderful person she is. 

She decided to go to the University of Alabama after attending a football game in the Fall of her freshman year.  She had been accepted to Troy and to Auburn...but there was something about Tuscaloosa that captivated her.  It may have had something to do with a certain somebody that she was dating at the time...but I'm not entirely sure.  I think that she went because it stretched her beyond her comfort zone and she knew in her heart of hearts that she needed that.  Plus, it was two and a half hours from home...and she had to learn to be independent because she couldn't run home every time she wanted to.  After being with the same classmates since first grade...she was ready to go somewhere and be somewhat anonymous. 

Yeah, well, that didn't actually happen as it turns out.  She went through Recruitment, pledged Phi Mu and ended up with 87 pledge sisters and 985 dormmates in Tutwiler.   

But you know...she loved it.

More than that...WE loved it...this whole Tuscaloosa experience that she gave us as well.  We loved the traditions and the beauty of the campus.  How organized everything is and how much pride they take in doing what they do well.  We loved the beautiful Phi Mu house on sorority row directly across from Bryant-Denny stadium where we knew we could stop in and cool off on those game days that were a few degrees above Hades Lite. 

We enjoyed walking to the Phi Gam house with the McMullins her freshman year...and on the quad her junior and senior years because the Berneys were kind enough to invite us to drop by their tailgate spot.  That act of kindness meant so much to us over these past few years.

I love the Denny Chimes, Alabama football, and the friends that she made at UA.  I love that she met people from all over the country and friends that she has had all four years of college.  I loved helping out at Rush and when certain precious Montgomery girls would pledge Phi Mu.  I love that she lived in the dorm her freshman year, with three great girls her sophomore year, with one of the three her junior year, and in the sorority house with 44 other girls her senior year. 

She is moving out of the Phi Mu house tomorrow.  But she's ready.

(Seriously...she has already boxed and labeled everything...and she is ready emotionally as well.)

She has had classes with football players...was kind of sort of hit on by one of the quarterbacks her freshman year and has a funny story about it...and is friends with some of the guys who are now professional football players.  Several of them showed up for her 20th birthday party (along with a number of people that I'm sure exceeded the capacity of that little house they all lived in sophomore year) just because that's what they do up there. 

She thinks she looks better in crimson than in orange (sorry, Auburn fans) and truth be told...she does.  She's a "Bammer" and she has a right to be...after all...she has made it through four years of college up there.

Roll Tide.

But back to the bucket list...on it was "watch my children graduate from high school and college"...and last year I watched Brian graduate from high school...and this year...Jill graduates from college.  Amazing.

I'm extremely proud of Jill and what she has accomplished at Alabama.  That she had the courage to go...and had the persistence to finish.  That she has a lot of good memories...but she is content to pack them away and open the door to the next chapter of her life. 

A chapter that is going to involve working hard and waiting to see what doors God opens up for her.

But before we close this one...I'm reflecting back over her last four years.  The photos below don't really include everything she did...and doesn't cover all of the family events of the past four years.  But that's okay.  I'm kind of focused on the memories that comprised her four years of college.

It has really been a wonderful ride.  I'll try to remember that as we pay off student loans over the next ten years.

And one more item marked off the bucket list. Rock on.

Jill, Mom and Aunt Pitta in New York - December 2008

The Phi Mu House...Jill's home away from home in Tuscaloosa.

Montgomery girls: Haley, Anne (Jill's little sister in the sorority), Jill and Emily.  Emily was the 2011 Homecoming Queen.  Haley and Emily were Jill's roommates (along with McKinnon) sophomore year.  (2009)

Tutwiler Dorm (and an unfortunate shot of part of Brian's head) - Dorm Sweet (not) Dorm 2008-09

The Berneys invited us to come tailgate with them and we did!  Some of the best times we had in Tuscaloosa was just hanging out and visiting with people.  We went to two football games in four years...but we tailgated every home game during the last two years! 

Neal and some random Scottish guy on the Quad!

Jill and her pledge sister Katie - 2009

Tailgating with cousin David Devan (Penn State game), me, Brian and Jill - Fall 2010

Jill with Ashley Harrison before a pledge swap - 2008.  Ashley was Jill's pledge sister who was killed in the tornado in Tuscaloosa in April 2011.  She visited Montgomery and stayed in our home and was a precious, precious girl.

Anne, Jill, Emily, Haley, Molly, Tyler Ann and Sarah...Montgomery Phi Mus at UA - Fall 2010

Jill's pledge class...well...a lot of them anyway...2010

Southern Debutante Cotillion - July 2010 - Emily, Jill, Haley and Sarah

Big Dave (in less) with his baby girl - July 2010

Pretty Phi Mu girls - 2011

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sleep Study

One of the most annoying things about getting older is the whole host of problems that seems to come with it.  I've been on overdrive for the past twenty-five years and some days I feel it far more acutely than others.  I don't talk about it most of the time, though, because nothing is more annoying that someone talking about their medical issues ad nauseum...with the exception of someone who is critically ill or is facing something BIG.  Those folks are free to do whatever they need to do to feel better.

But the rest of us?  No.  Just no.

In my quest to blame my weight "situation" on anything other than myself and my inability to meet a calorie that I don't like...I have tried everything short of weight loss surgery.  I refuse to do that because I just know I will be the one person who gains weight eating the equivalent of three grains of rice and a garbonzo bean twice a day with a thimble of water...because somebody has to be the "one in a million" - right?  If only I could be a lottery winner instead.

I've thought my weight freakiness might be thyroid problems...and between us...I still hold out hope that it is something fixable and easy.  I daydream that I might someday be told "here...take'll drop thirty pounds by next weekend"...but no such luck yet.  I've even gone so far at times to actually wish for a stomach virus to give me a jump start...or for some kind of happiness that would keep me so happy I'd forget to eat. 

As if.  I mean...who DOES that?  Answer: Skinny people a/k/a Not me.

But seriously...when I am very, very happy or very, very stressed...I won't eat.  When I'm happy I'm busy doing happy things...and when I am stressed...I'm curled up in the fetal position asleep.  The "stressed" food deprivation plan is also far less desirable because to get to the "serious stress" stage...I have to eat myself into oblivion first as a warm-up act.

Oblivion meaning anything and everything in the house...and possibly the Dairy Queen.

But enough about me and my eating habits.  I could seriously go on and on and on about all of that and completely miss what I came here to document for posterity...and we can't have that.

So, on a recent doctor's visit, I happened to mention that one of my friends, Sandye, told me that I "kind of quit breathing" several times during the night when I wasn't snoring when she was unfortunate enough to draw the short straw and had to room with me on a girls' trip we took last September.  Bless her heart for not smothering me with a pillow right there in the condo.

Did you catch "last September"?  You do realize that she gave me this information eight months ago...and I'm just getting around to checking it out.  Yeah, avoidance behavior at its finest.

At my annual checkup in February, I forgot to mention it.  But when I started having shin trouble and some edema...I did an "oh, this important?" kind of thing and my doctor suggested that I go see a sleep doctor because he was fairly certain that this, my weight, and the fact that I am tired all of the time...could actually be a medical problem and not just the basic laziness that I credit it with more often than not.

A couple of weeks ago I made the appointment to meet with the sleep doctor.  I wasn't all gung-ho about it...because it reeks of me being on that slippery slope of many, many doctors appointments.  For someone who hardly ever misses work (or anything else) due to illness...I just can't handle having SO. MANY. DOCTORS. 

I showed up anyway...and filled out a questionaire that seriously had no fewer than 500 questions on it.  Three hours later...I left a few of them blank because quite frankly...some of it just isn't any of his business.  AT ALL.  As in "Hey, Doc, if I didn't answer the question on the 500 question thingy you made me fill out...chances are it is because I didn't want to go there."

Oh, but he wanted to go there.  And he did.


In spite of my mortification I agreed to do a sleep study last week.  Primarily because he is fairly certain that I have sleep apnea.

I don't want to have sleep apnea.

I almost cancelled three times.  But like a brave little soldier...I didn't.

On the day of the study, I had raised the level of whining to DEF COM 5.  I was about as pleasant as a bad case of heat rash coupled with a kidney infection.  And that was actually before I arrived at the center all pouty and ready to go home before I ever walked in the door. 

Yeah, I walked in that door at 7:32...and I was supposed to be there at 7:30.  HA!  Take that sleep people!  I was going to be late because I was all passive-aggressive and thought that would "show them." (I sincerely doubt that they noticed.)

Big Dave happily dropped me off at the center.  I don't know if it was because he is a generally happy person or if he needed to let someone else have the "fun" of dealing with me in that kind of mood.  (Actually, I do know the answer to that...but whatever.)

I was met by the nurse who led me to a nice bedroom painted green with a television on the wall and a sleigh bed that actually looked comfortable.  The bathroom was tiled with eighteen inch modern looking tiles and it didn't look even remotely institutional.  Except for the two little machines on the bedside table on the left side of the looked like a Hampton Inn.

She even offered me Sprite Zero or water. 

She told me to relax, left me some paperwork, took my picture, and that she'd be back in a little while...about hook me up. 

I was still pouty...but getting better.

And then it was 9:00...and 9:20. hookup.  She was coming in and out of my room a lot checking the two little boxes...but still...

Apparently the equipment thought it would be a great idea to just not work.  I, of course, was immensely relieved...because I honestly was not up to it last Wednesday.  Since the center was fairly certain that I have sleep apnea...the sleep doctor's office had taken the liberty of scheduling my follow up CPAP study for the following week.  So, I just rescheduled my sleep study for the time I had originally scheduled my CPAP study and moved on. 

I moved REALLY FAST before that machine started working again.  Even though I had to wake Big Dave up on the couch and have him drive ALLLLL the way into town to pick me up because we were a car short last week due to Brian's "catlike driving reactions" that apparently were on the blink resulting in a little rear end accident...or two last month that had his car in the body shop. (I'm serious.  Wish I weren't.)

I had a whole week to laugh about my "Jedi mind trick" messing up the machine and thinking that I was in a far better frame of mind to deal with it this week...I showed up last night expecting things to go a little smoother.

Um.  Yeah.  Okay.

First of all, the tech that I had last week was sick and so I had a new tech this week.  (This tech was very nice...but she was one of those people that just insists of doing everything to the "nth degree"...which is great in the medical profession...but a little confusing when you are about to undergo a sleep study.)

I had my downtime (and my Sprite Zero) and decided that this whole sleep study thing was going to be a lot less hassle than I thought it would be.

Oh, go ahead and laugh.

First of all, she scrubbed at least three layers of skin off on numerous places all over my face and body so that she could put probes and whatever all over the place.  I had so many wires coming out of every place that I honestly do not know how she kept them all straight.  There were seven of them taped to my scalp which brought back some very ugly memories from my childhood when my mother used to attempt to comb what can only be referred to as a "rat's nest" in my hair.  She weaved those probes in there and apparently used some kind of stick-um that might have had some super glue or something all up in there. 

I do know that the entire process of wiring me up took about an hour.


After I was wired, she left me alone for thirty minutes to calm my nerves back down and watch a particularly bad episode of something on Nick at Nite.  I know not what it was...something called "Yes, Dear."

She came in at 10:00 and told me that it was time to go to bed and so I got in on the right side of the bed like I always do...because THAT is the side of the bed that I sleep on, of course.

Except that all of the equipment is on the left side of the bed.

Of course it is.

I get in, adjust everything, and then I think I'm okay and that I might actually survive this experience without getting all riled up.  Oh, but no.  There are apparently not one...but TWO things that have to be put in my nostrils.  I don't know about you...but I don't want anything up my nose that isn't supposed to be there.  And especially something that tickles every time I breathe. 

As she was trying to insert these...I had to yell at her to stop because I was getting all claustrophobic with those blue gloves coming for my face. *insert scream*  Yes, I had to do it myself. 

I remember several episodes of "Friends" and I was still aware of my surroundings and my discomfort in spite of Tylenol PM because I'm a side sleeper and it is impossible to sleep when you are wired up to five thousand wires that are stuck into your head and all over your body. 

Normally, Tylenol PM and I have an understanding.  Last night?  I was apparently on my own.

Or it could have been that I was just aware that I had a gazillion wires hanging all over the WRONG SIDE OF THE BED and I couldn't sleep on my side without the things she stuck around my ears digging into my head.


And then I had to go to the bathroom.


That meant that she had to come in there and unhook me and put ALLLLL of those things around my arm so that I could go to the restroom.

Apparently I slept long enough for them to determine that I do indeed have sleep apnea.  It was for about fifteen minutes after the second bathroom break and before "The Nanny."  I'm fairly certain that I actually remember waking myself up not breathing a few times because I was in that place of unreality where you begin to think that the night will never end.

And may I share with you that waking up to the remote control on the floor and Urkel on TV while you are not sleeping and they keep putting the things back in your nose repeatedly is like being in the Third Circle of Hades?

Because it is.  Or at least how I imagine it is.

At 5:45 this morning she came in and disconnected me from that wretched machine.  I spent the next thirty minutes in the shower trying to make sure that I could get all of the sticky stuff out of my scalp and remove the seven probe thingys from all over places I didn't remember her putting them.

(Surely I would have remembered her putting one of them where I found it...but I didn't.  Imagine my surprise in the shower.)

Anyway, I dried my hair and left the establishment with what amounted to an eight hour in and out nap at 7:00 this morning .  I swore to myself that I wasn't going back.  Fortunately for them, they scheduled my CPAP appointment for two weeks from last night.  I'm still trying to decide if I'd like to just suffer through it again...because I have a repeat performance with all of those cords AND a mask that I may not be able to tolerate because I truly am somewhat claustrophobic.

Frankly, I'm thinking I'll just lose a whole bunch of weight and make this a non-event.  Because right now...losing a bunch of weight sounds like a FAR better idea.

Usually when I have a bad experience like this...I try to find something positive in it...but the only positive I can say right now is that I am quite positive that I don't want to go back.

But chances are...I will. 

I actually took a picture of myself last night and e-mailed it to Big Dave.  He's lucky that I haven't dragged his happy self over to the sleep doctor so that he can experience the magic for himself.  Except knowing him...he'd sleep right through it all and be told that he doesn't have sleep apnea at all.  (Although his mother does.)

I have received a lot of encouragement to try the CPAP machine...and that it really will make me feel better...but then would losing weight. 

I have two weeks to lose a gazillion pounds.  Wish me luck.