Friday, December 26, 2008

You Are Here

I went into a mall today to get my hair cut for the 4th time in 3 months (got a VERY bad haircut and I'm still trying to recover). Anyway, after the stylist cut off the big hair flaps on the side of my head that made me look like I could take flight any given moment, I was strolling out and the family sort of led me to a Chick-fil-a to get something to drink. We ordered 4 drinks and a kid's meal for the kid. We were all standing right there, yet the cashier hands me the drinks in their trademark styrofoam cups tucked inside a paperboard cup carrier with a nice handle. All to walk a whopping 20 feet over to the tables. All I could think of was WASTE, and how all of that stuff we'd been given, save the liquid, would wind up in a landfill. Or worse. Styrofoam NEVER goes away, ever. It'll be here until there is no here. Until the world blows up. And even then it's little particles will be floating through the air and seas. I've been reading this book and I have to say here that I think all who read this should get that book and read it too. I'll loan you my copy! It's titled, You Are Here: Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do and What That Does to Our Planet, by Thomas Kostigan. Or you can go to Did you know that there's such a thing between California and Honolulu called the Eastern Garbage Patch? It's a place in the ocean where trash collects from all over the world. And that it's twice the size of Texas? And that there's a Western Garbage Patch too? A full 80% of debris that is in the ocean originated on land. Don't flush anything down your toilet but poo. Take shorter showers. Don't throw trash out of your car window. Recycle everything that you possibly can. And don't buy water in plastic bottles - get a refillable bottle and wash it after each use. Did you know that fresh water on our planet (the kind we must drink) is only 1/2 of 1% of the total water available and that we waste water constantly, when we could be working harder to get some of the clean fresh water to underdeveloped areas where people are dying because they don't have enough? One child dies every 12 seconds from lack of clean water! That's inconsciousable!
Some of you might be thinking that I'm a liberal nut. Maybe so, but we can't just continue to ignore the pollution of our land, water, and therefore health. Think about how much stuff you buy, how much stuff you actually need, and how much stuff you throw away. Think about living with less. Think about giving the stuff you don't use anymore to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or some other charitable organization that can get more use out of it. Don't throw batteries in the trash. Start a compost for your leftover food scraps if you can. Plant more trees. Take action and do something in your own home or neighborhood. Read more about this issue or just get this book. My child is 4 years old. When she's 30 or 40 or even 50 I don't want her to have to wear a mask to go outside, or die of cancer because of some toxin from plastic that got into the fish she eats. Okay, the rant is over for now. Don't just take it from me. Inform yourself and go do something!


Okay, okay. It finally got to me. It's Christmas Eve night and Sarah is suffering from sleep loss induced mania. She's had no nap all day and she's tired, but gosh almighty, Santa's coming to bring her presents! I decide to hop on the LIE train and use the handy dandy internet to pull up the NORAD Santa Tracker. What a hoot that was. Once she figured out what it was and we watched a few "videos" they had shot of Santa as he flew through places all over the world, she was enthralled. She sat there in front of the map, waiting for Santa to "move" to the next location. We talked about how he brings presents to all the little children in the world (that's the worst part of the lie I think) and how he'd find her even though we weren't in our house. Then we had to rock her in the rocking chair - the going to bed process wasn't easy. But finally, after an hour of asking questions and cuddling and santa tracking we stuffed her in the bed and under the covers, her little eyes twinkling in the dim light of the computer monitor.
Then WE go nuts. Perhaps it was our own lack of sleep. I said to Hal, "Hey - let's put her presents out and then we'll run into the bedroom and wake her up and tell her that she JUST missed Santa Claus! Then we'll see her little face light up!" My rationale was that she'd get up before us in the morning and we'd miss the look. That awesome look of suprise and delight on a child's face that would be our reward for spending all that money on her presents. Hal's response: Yeah, let's do that. So we did. We pulled out the presents, arranged them by the little tree, and WOKE THE CHILD UP! She ran into the room and said, "where's Santa"? Thank you Santa Claus!" She just nutted up. She pulled candy canes and silly putty out of her stocking, then she unwrapped a toy, then she'd stop for a second and exclaim, "look at all my presents!" and grab up another one to unwrap. I think we got in bed around 1:30 AM. She took the silly putty and the yo-yo with her because she wanted to sleep with them. It was great.
Today, after we woke up, we had something like buyer's remorse. We kept asking each other, "do you think we got her too many presents?" And then, "well we'll set a limit next year" and "she shouldn't need any more toys this year." But it's all just talk. We both know this child has us wrapped around her little finger like (silly) putty. So, in a nutshell, all this business about Bah Humbug was just Schumbug.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time off begats neuroses.

Today I was in a Target store, which means that I did finally buckle a little and buy some presents (matter of fact, I have spent way more on the kid than I thought I would). And after I had made my selections I was waiting on others I was with to finish shopping - just browsing around looking at the shelves with all sorts of stuff on them, when suddenly, to my great astonishment I realized that I had been SORTING. Yep. The games were all out of whack - monopoly all up in the chutes and ladders space, balderdash sitting sideways two shelves up from where it was supposed to be, puzzles in the wrong space, tag reader books lying on the shelf or hanging in the wrong spot altogether. There's no telling how long I had actually been "cleaning up" before I realized it. Actually it wasn't until another shopper, a woman, asked me if I worked there because she needed help with something! Seriously. I didn't even have a red shirt on! I was proudly wearing my black NKOTB concert shirt. You know, even after I realized that I was sorting out stuff and putting stuff back -- I KEPT DOING IT! What does this mean for me? Time off is too much time for my brain. I have four days off now. I traveled the first day, rested the second, started waking up yesterday, and now I guess I'm looking for stuff to do! I do have a few things to unpackage and a few batteries to install...muh ha ha ha!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bah humbug!

No matter what I do, I just can't seem to get the Christmas spirit this year. I'm not spirited at all actually - I'm better described as a mediocre ho hum. I went to look at Christmas trees but walked away empty handed. Now I don't even care if we have one or not. They were either too tall, too short, too fat, or too skinny - too sparse or too thick. They came with lights, without lights, with pinecones and berries and just plain old pine. The Santa that I saw in the mall the other day even made my nose turn up. We were walking by and Sarah is going nuts shouting, "looook Mommee, it's SANNA CLAWS!" He barely waved at us. If Santa only gets excited when folks throw money at him, than he can stuff his bowl full of jelly belly right up his...chimney. You know what I mean.
And then there's the gift giving. This year I actually had a slight increase in my budget for the holidays, but I could care less. The only thing I want to shop for is New Kids on the Block memorabilia off Ebay. Something about it soothes me. Nevertheless, I tromped around Target for two hours one night and watched Sarah prance around the toy section playing with things to get a better idea of what old Santa could bring her after he finishes with all the mall photo shoots he's got going. All my other relatives might be S.O.L this year simply because I don't care if they get a present or not! It's bad. I can't say this has ever happened to me. Shall I call it Christmas Apathy? It's like after we moved up to Maryland where we actually have a snowball's chance in hell (pun definitely intended) of having an actual white Christmas (or at least something white on the ground in the same vicinity as Christmas) I seem to have been stricken with a crappy attitude about the whole thing!
If it weren't for the 4 year old living with me, I'd probably just try to ignore Christmas until Janurary when I'd probably become depressed all over again that it was gone and I didn't do anything to celebrate. But since I have this child, I'm trying to figure out how to get into the swing of things. I purchased the New Kids Christmas album from years past and that worked for a few days. We played it over and over. We bought a copy of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and that had a never before felt effect on me. I actually could see where the old Grinch was coming from. To hell with their Who-ville celebrations! To hell with all their presents and their roast beast! But in the end his heart grew the two sizes and the rest is history. The Grinch came on board with the Christmas thing because something was so moving it actually made him stop and think. That's what I need. One of those stop and think moments. Like maybe Grandma would almost get run over by the reindeer and it would be a harrowing experience until some sort of Christmas angel would swoop down out of the clouds, shimmering in the moonlight, and rescue Grandma from the road. Something like that. Eh. Forget it. I think I'm a lost cause this year. I'll just blame it on the economy...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Welcome (back) to Maryland...brrr

I went home for a visit, and I came back. Took forever to drive the truck back, but we did it. At least gas wasn't upwards of 3.50 a gallon this time!
Thanksgiving in GA was nice, although I worked for part of it. Right when we stepped off the plane we started shedding our jackets and gloves - ah yes, the deep South. It's like being hugged by the sun.
But I did come back, and it's still cold here. Still freezing. So now I'm working on ways to get warm. Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bye Bye Gallbladder

So I had to back to the Emergency Room because of the gallbladder thing - was having a terrible night, in a lot of pain, and just about inconsolable.  This time the ER was in Maryland, and this time I had health insurance, and bada bing, bada boom - they did all sorts of tests, found that the little GB was completely blocked by a 1.1 inch stone, and was not functioning at all - so I had emergency surgery to get the thing out, they sliced it open and in it were probably 40 or more stones, most of them fairly large.  And they were swimming in a major infection too.  So this was actually life threatening!  I could have died had it gone on much longer.

The surgeon was very nice to me and told me that I had been sick and suffering for a long time.  No kidding?

Moral of the story is not to put these things off.  Take care of yourselves.  And make sure you have health insurance since hospitals seem to take much better care of you if you do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Could somebody pass the Duke's mayonnaise?

I just moved to Maryland...not even 72 hours ago, with my kid, my husband, my Jetta, my cats, and a 26 foot long U-Haul truck.  Changed my life in one fell swoop.  One weekend.  Seriously.  It's nice up here even though I'm still tired.  The trees and mountains are beautiful.  All of the leaves have changed into gold, red, or orange.  The campus I work on is gorgeous, and my apartment here is amazing!  But there's a few things I've noticed so far that surprised me even more than all of that.

I'm a southerner.  Definitely.  Even though I previously wrote about how bored I was at times with my country upbringing, now it's almost a source of pride.  Yep, there were cows next door.  And yes, I have an accent.  I say y'all.  I like Duke's mayo on my tomato sandwiches.  I talk about my "Granny."  It's colder up here and I have a legitimate right to complain if I want to.  I'm from Georgia for crying out loud.  We don't have winter.  It just gets a little nippy in January.   

People here say, "I'm from PA," instead of I'm from Pennsylvania.  Fortunately this southerner was smart enough to remember the state abbreviations!  And they don't pronounce Maryland correctly's like the y and the d get left out.  But they are nice and I'm reminded everyday that I'm still below the Mason Dixon line.  So officially I'm not a Northerner.  Not that anyone in a million years would ever think that anyway.  

It will be a very interesting transition for me, but so far I'm having a good time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Message from Granny.

There is a lot of sorting and packing going on at my house right now because we are preparing for a big move to Maryland.  I have gotten a great new job and we were so lucky to lease the house to a great family that's moving in the day after we move out.  Everything has fallen right into place, in spite of me.  So tonight I was going through stuff in the garage and looked over at my grandmother's little nightstand that came home with us after her death.  I brought it home and stuck it in my garage and have left it alone since.  Tonight I decided to look inside.  I found all sorts of little treasures of hers, but one thing in particular brought tears to my eyes...lots of them.  In a little notebook that I had given her years earlier, she had written on the very back page, "You better take time out to study your Bible [out] of your busy day of work & thank God."  I clipped the little note out and promptly put it in a frame.  I think it will go on my new desk at my new job in my new life that I've been given, that I am, by the way, very thankful for.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Toddler dictionary

like: as in "time to go to bed, turn off the like"
mayked: adj, meaning without clothes
note: command, as in uh uh, no way.
werts: refers to the little men in the famous story, Snow White and the Seven Werts
lello: one of the three primary colors - not red, not blue
bonny tail: what you have when you pull your long hair together in the back and put a rubber band around it.
copy: noun, refers to the piece of cloth that brings great comfort when you're sleepy
familla: a flavor, such as familla ice cream.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

EGO trip

I drove up to Maryland this week to interview for a new job.  It was very nice to have a couple of days off and to have a change of scenery, and to meet so many interesting people.  The campus was gorgeous as was the town, and everyone was nice.  The drive was LONG.  The husband and I actually had a chance to talk to each other because we were minus the little one who talks constantly.  Or sings.  Or just makes noise.  
I know I've said this before, but I believe in fate.  And oddly enough, as I found myself in Maryland tossing and turning in the Best Western where I wound up leaving my "magic" pillow - I wondered what I was doing there, and how the whole thing would turn out.  Still don't know the answer to that, but something very neat happened on the way back.
We were driving down I-81 and couldn't help ourselves.  We had to stop off on exit 140 to drive by Roanoke College, get gas at our favorite gas station there where we used to live, look for that barbeque in the tub that I used to buy so much.  When we pulled into the gas station, which is in the parking lot of the grocery store, there sat a Starbucks!  Since I actually emailed corporate back in 2002 and asked them to build a Starbucks in Salem, VA, I had to go in.  Hal was funny.  He completely entertained my excitement and went along willingly.  We walk in and immediately are hugged by the former VPSA and now, special assistant to the president, of Roanoke College.  It was so good to see him, this wiry man who put me to shame hiking in the mountains five  years ago.  We chatted a while, caught up with each other a bit, and then he said something that made my heart swell.  He said, you know Heather, when you left it was so bittersweet - you had a great opportunity but man you had done such a good job here.  Five years later he says this to me.  What a compliment.  I'm still reeling.  It's really great, and the only compliment I have let myself hear in a long time.  (I'm naturally bad at accepting compliments.)  I did manage to buy myself a cup of coffee but completely forgot my one raw sugar and cream, so as we were driving out there was ANOTHER Starbucks!  I walked in there half expecting to see someone else I knew but it was late and they were about to close.  It was great to see the campus again and we drove by our old residence hall.  At one point I thought I shouldn't have left, but if I'd done that I wouldn't have been there in South Carolina to help my aunt through her last days with bone cancer.  Everything happens for a reason.  Everything.

So now I'm referring to the Maryland jaunt as my ego trip.  Cause now I feel good about myself in a way that I haven't in a while.  Fate?  We shall see.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ideas for the middle of the night.

So I'm sitting here awake.  Again.  Let's see.  Fun things to do in the middle of the night.  Play on Facebook.  Make comments about all your friend's photos.  Catch up on email!  Seriously, and I needed to do that too.  Listen to New Kids on the Block with my cool Bose headphones.  Read and catch up on the news so I won't look like an idiot when there's a current affairs conversation going on in the workplace.  Snack.  Drink mojitos.  Contemplate life.  Write.  Stare at my little boo sleeping.  Snicker at my husband and his almost snore.  I suppose I could pose them and take funny pictures.  Nah.  That might be weird.  Go outside and pet P.P. -- the cat we brought home from Virginia that refuses to enter the house.  I think she has kitty bipolar disorder.  Oh.  I almost forgot.  Tonight I'm sitting here wondering why some freaking IDIOT in Atlanta robbed a Starbucks at gunpoint yesterday morning.  The poor barista he pointed the gun at is my friend!  

I wonder if it's true that sleeplessness or lack of sleep actually does make you more creative?

Monday, September 15, 2008

There must be a happy medium.

Last night I decided to do something revolutionary. I took a real sleeping pill. Not your over the counter Tylenol PM types, but Rozerem. That tiny little pill knocked me OUT for 12 hours straight. I didn't hear anything, feel anything, or hurt anywhere. OUT. I didn't really wake up good until about 7 tonight. My husbands tells me I should take another one tonight, but I don't want to be groggy all day tomorrow too, so I opt not to. And here I am. Awake all night!
Where is the happy medium? I have written published articles on how to get a good night's sleep! I have led seminars on how to sleep! I know what to do! Yet I cannot sleep. I have barriers. Aches and pains, gallbladder issues, a very strange and jacked up work schedule, and a 4 year old. Can't get rid of any of those things at the moment. I think my next post will be all about the cool things you can do in the wee hours of the day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Circa 1974

The year was 1974. My birthday got me wondering, what was the world like when I was born? So I read a bunch of stuff on 1974. Here are the things that stuck out in my head:

Nixon was impeached, and Ford takes office.
Ted Bundy is killing people.
Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth's record with 715 home runs.
UPC codes are introduced.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice breaks up AT&T and Bell telephone.
VW introduces the Rabbit for sale in the U.S.
Patricia Hearst is kidnapped.
The Sting gets the Oscar for Best Picture.

On my birthday in particular, Ford gives Nixon a full pardon and a plane crashes in the Ionian Sea. I wonder what this means for me?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

34 and all I get is a day off?

Finally, a day off. Actually 4 days off, and if you want to get technical, 4 days and 22 hours off. So my birthday is Monday, and lemme tell you, I'd rather be a kid. See, my kid's birthday is Sunday and she'll get a cake and presents with "azul" wrapping paper just like she wants. She'll have fun and we'll make a big deal and do something really cool. But for my birthday on Monday, nah. The stark reality started today when I rolled out of bed with a shoulder ache to remind myself that I'm getting old. Then I had to go stand in line and pay twenty bucks to renew my driver's license. Not to mention finally giving in and putting my real weight down on the form. And if that's wasn't enough, a stop by the tag office to pay taxes on my car!! So already I'm out $320 and whatever it costs me to make Sarah's birthday memorable and special.

But I do get 4 days and 22 hours off. Technically. I won't be working. I won't be serving coffee or soothing mad folks in the ER. I'll just be accepting the number 34 and watching my bank account diminish! Happy birthday to me...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Kids on the Block

Call me a freak, call me a loser, call me retro and uncool.  I don't care.  Just downloaded the new album by New Kids on the Block from iTunes.  IT'S AMAZING!  Definitely, muscially, all grown up.  You owe it to yourself to get this and listen to it.  And if you're a hater, you need to get a life.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Aspartame dilemma.

I have tried to quit drinking my favorite drink.  Diet Dr. Pepper.  Now, my love of Dr. Pepper goes back to my childhood.  Dr. Pepper was the only soft drink my grandmother would drink.  She loved it.  Kept the fridge stocked with it when she could afford to.   My favorite though, is the diet version, but lately I've been reading some bad "reviews," if you will, on aspartame - the chemical that makes it taste so much like the original yet have no calories.
I can make you any drink on the Starbucks menu, yet I love Diet Dr. Pepper more.
I tried quitting the week before last, but after three days the craving was so intense I gave in.  I drank about 4 ounces, mixed it in with regular Dr. Pepper - which I had summoned from my husband during his latest grocery store run.  I have gone from drinking about 30 ounces a day to less than one, if that.  But not completely successful with the quitting thing. 

Diet Dr. Pepper isn't nicotine, or crack.  It's not even a social thing...I can drink anything, anytime.  It's a craving for ASPARTAME.  Bad stuff apparently.  I've had 3 doctors suggest that I have fibromyalgia.  I think I have aspartame disease.  Body aches all over, trouble sleeping, and there's a lot more if you drink too much of that stuff.
Let's hear from both sides of the issue.
What do you know about aspartame?  Do you drink diet sodas?  Ever tried to quit?  Know anything about the research?  Is this stuff really that horrible that the U.S. supposedly has a trust fund for all the medical lawsuits they expect to get because the FDA approved this chemical to feed to the masses?  It's in all sorts of foods now too.  Light yogurt?

Lemme hear from you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I know you're out there somewhere.

Another sleepless but thoughtful night.  I've been meaning to come up here and write for some time now, but I have a very active child who dominates my time when I am not at work.  And when I am at work, my time is taken with sick folks or sleepy folks or folks who just need an ear either way.  Maybe that's what I need.  An ear.  Not literally - but someone to listen to all the rambling that is currently confined to the inner workings of my mind.
I've been dreaming a lot of my grandmother lately, most every night.  She has some sort of role in all my dreams, although now I cannot remember each of them.  Just her face looking at me, her eyes interacting with me, her hands in mine.  What troubles me is that I don't know what she wants.  Or is it what I want?  I said to my husband that'd I'd been dreaming of her a lot.  He had a ready explanation.  Well of course you do honey, you miss her.  I hope it is that simple.
Now don't get me wrong here.  I believe in God.  I believe in that happy place we are supposed to go if we live a good life and do right by others.  And if anyone I have ever known deserved to be in a place such as Heaven, it was my grandmother.
But what worries me is this.  What if she's stuck somewhere?  Somewhere in between?  What if she needs to tell me something?  Or is it just that I want to tell her something?  Are the dreams my mind's way of playing tricks on me, or some force larger than both of us attempting to soothe the soul's desire for another chance to meet again?
I wonder if this is the only life we live.
I wonder if I knew her before.  If I'll know her again, as someone else.  Will she come back around while I am here, or will I die and we both linger in some way off place in the distance?  Or do we just die and that's it?
I have had several relatives die since I have been alive.  People I loved.  And I wasn't there for any of their deaths.  Not one.  I was either just before or just after or completely far away hurting all the same.
A couple of weeks ago though, I was there with this little old lady in the emergency room.  Her son tried to get there in time but he couldn't make it.  She was alone except for all of us hospital staff standing around.  Normally my role is to comfort the family, deal with crowd control, help to process paperwork, call the funeral home.  All that stuff most people don't want to think about.
But this day my job was to put my hand on an old lady's shoulder, tell her it was okay to die, that we were with her and that she'd be alright.  It was sad.  Very sad.
I don't want to be alone when I die.  I have figured that much out.  Not that I'm thinking of dying.
Several days later I wondered - is what I told her true?  Was it going to be alright?  This is where some of you might say faith comes in.  Maybe that is what I lack, I'm not sure.
Then the dreams of my grandmother started again.  
I've decided that I'm going to take a different approach to this curiosity that plagues me.  I'm going to hire a psychic.  I've got to know if my grandmother is okay.  If when she died, and all the others I love died, if it really was alright.  Did they see the bright light and God's angels coming to get them?  Or is there just nothingness?
When all the people that I loved died, one by one, I squeezed my eyes shut, clenched my teeth and tried my best to shove off the feelings of sadness, anger, and regret.  But now I want to know.  
Maybe I'll never get any answers.  Maybe I'll pray to the dark silence in my house tonight.  Maybe I'll lose money and talk to a psychic.  Maybe I'll get some answers, maybe I won't.
But something's gotta give.  Even night owl's need their zzzzz's.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rock a bye me

Sleep.  Why is such a simple, intrinsic, basic human drive so hard to get enough of.  I work hard enough, why can't I sleep?  My shoulder hurts nearly all the time, I work in an emergency room so sometimes I come home with strange stuff on my mind, I want to play with my kid when I do finally get home, but none of these are the real reasons I can't sleep.  

I'm a natural born night owl.  Plain and simple.  When I wrote my manuscript, 90% of it was between the hours of 11pm and 5am.  Anything I did during the day was editing or printing.  I think better at night.  I'm astonishingly awake.  The first time I did a 3am shift in the ER I was so nervous.  I tried to take a nap beforehand.  I worked 12 straight hours until 5 in the morning walking my tail off...yet still I was awake.  

So here I am, awake as ever, have been since yesterday at 9 am.  I have to be back at work at 7 but I'm here typing because I cannot, no matter how hard I try or how many sheep I count, sleep.  Not happening.

I want to hear from all you night owls and sleep deprived zombies with big dark circles under your eyes.  What do you to catch a few winks?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Inner Child

Something happened to me.  I'm not sure when it happened, but I realized it today.  I've started to nurture my inner child.  Now, before you laugh, consider how important it is.  
When I was a kid, I didn't really get to be a kid.  I had to work starting at age 13, and as I've said before, we only got 4 channels on our television.  I grew up without a mother, and I was largely responsible for my little brother, that is, until I got kicked out of the house at 16.  Now it wasn't all bad, but I did miss out on a lot of things other kids got to do.  For instance, like going to a New Kids on the Block concert, which I will do for the first time in October.  
Something in me snapped a few weeks ago.  Somewhere deep down in my brain just clicked on.  Something rose to the surface.  It said, I'm tired of working all the time.  I'm tired of concentrating.  I'm tired of figuring out how to be a responsible adult, a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter, a good friend, a good PAC, a good barista, a good author.  I wanna watch movies, listen to music, have fun, be a kid again.
It just so happens that I have a kid now, and therefore have good cover.  I can go into a store and buy Cinderella with my 3 year old attached and no one will think otherwise.  I can live vicariously through her.  I had never even watched Cinderella!  Or Snow White, or most of the other Disney movies.  I downloaded Enchanted for my iPhone and laughed out loud watching it late one night in bed.  I took the family to Disney World and loved every minute of it.  I bought We Are the World and the first episode of Wonder Woman on iTunes!  I went to the theatre and saw Wall-E.  Fun is my mission when I'm not at work.
I am relishing this time.  I've never allowed myself such a good time.  Maybe it's a virus I caught in the ER....
You should do it.  Just mentally kick your heels back and enjoy the ride of life.  It can really be a lot of fun if you let it.   

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Magical World of Disney

i apologize for the long absence lately, but I've been working nonstop - however, I did manage a vacation. We went to Disney World last week and let me tell you - I never had that much fun as a kid! I don't know if it was experiencing it as an adult, watching my little girl experience it, or just having 5 straight days off from work...but whatever it was, man we had a wonderful time! You should go. I've now decided that I need to watch all the Disney movies. You know, until last night, I'd never watched Cinderella? I've never seen Jungle Book, or Sleeping Beauty or countless others. How did I miss all this growing up? My mother took me to Disney, and so did my step-mother, and so did my grandfather (during the one week of my life that I spent with him), but I can't remember having as much fun as I had last week. Now I'm obsessed. Sort of. I'm wearing a Mickey Mouse tee shirt right now. :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

iPhone = mucho fun and addiction

I finally went out and purchased the iPhone last week. I've been wanting one since before they actually came onto the market, and I've waited patiently until I could semi-afford one. Lemme tell you, it is so much fun. LOVE it. But there's an issue. I think I'm going to get addicted. And my little girl is already into playing with it too. She knows that if you touch the flower you get to see the pictures and she's really into the music too. I think the Apple folks are genius. I remember when I was a teen, my father bought us an Apple IIC that took floppy disks! Haven't had an Apple product since. Now I proudly display the little white Apple sticker on my car window. I love having all my favorite pics of Sarah right there, and all my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs right there, and I love being able to surf the "real" web, and get instant access to my email accounts, and text messaging too...and then there's the PHONE! All in one. Perfect for my, at the moment, harried life! You owe it to yourself to scrounge up the $400 and get one too.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I hate my gallbladder. Let's go skating.

In some ways, I'd like to reach in there and rip the thing out myself, and in some ways I'd like to soothe it into releasing the prickly painful stones inside. But mostly, I'd just like to get a full night's sleep once in a while. I got a little complacent, stopped taking the tablets, starting eating crap again, and lo and behold, the last two weeks have been yucky.
But, on a much happier note, I got a chance to take my little Sarah rollerskating. Boy oh boy was that fun. We had a ball. I caught myself laughing out loud rather uncontrollably! My cousin's little girl was having a birthday party so we drove to South Carolina, right down the street from where we lived when Sarah was born and went to this party and I have to say, I haven't had that much fun in a long time. Even Hal got on a pair of skates and went around a time or two with me! My cousins were all giggling and reminiscing. Had it not been for my kid, I think I'd have felt like a kid again! Sarah was afraid at first, but when she saw everyone else doing it, she was ready to go. She held our hands the first time around the rink but after that she wanted to be let go. It was so cute to see her try so hard to be independent when she was doing this for the first time ever! I can't wait to teach her how to drive. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Early morning reflection

My life is interesting. More now than I think it ever has been before. I grew up in the country, and as dreamy and wonderful as that sounds, I was usually bored to tears. We had four television stations that our antenna could receive and one of them was always full of static. I can remember my uncle Keith banging on the t.v. set because sometimes that made it more clear, or turning the knob on the fancy schmancy electric antenna turner to turn the thing in a different direction outside so it might pick up a better signal for a station. Once the desired best spot was found, then everyone tip toed around in the house so as to not upset the television itself. It was delicate business getting your station in clear.
Chores took a much longer time than they do now, but that was probably best given the default boredom that I experienced. We had no dishwasher, that is, except for me and my grandmother. Occasionally I'd guilt my brother into helping with this, but he was six years younger and so short that he'd have to stand on a chair just to get up high enough to work in the sink, and he was young so he was usually more interested in squirting me with the sprayer than actually rinsing the dishes. We hung our clothes out on a clothesline which left my jeans feeling stiff as a board and everything else looking misshapen. My socks had little brown spots at the top or the toe from the wooden clothespin residue. Hanging clothes out might now be hailed as a great fuel saving alternative to the electric clothes dryer, but I cannot imagine going back. I was always so irritated by the inconvenience and the lackluster results. And when it rained for days on end? Laundromat up at the gas station in town. Not a fun experience at all, especially when you don't even know dryer sheets exist.
Nevertheless, my country upbringing has led me to appreciate all things technical and innovative. The iPhone absolutely wows me, and one day I will save up enough money to buy one. I've loved email since my very first telnet account in 1993. My cell phone is so useful that I don't even have a landline anymore. And I drive a Volkswagen with airbags that surround the interior of my car. How did we get from living in the woods to big cities with tall skyscrapers, electronics that operate on information sent right through the air, and underground and underwater highways and rail systems? I think it was because people were bored to tears and looking for a way to get something done in a bit easier fashion.
My life now is incredibly not boring. I have three jobs and I'm trying to start a business. I also have a 3 and a half year old little girl that I mostly keep during the day. I work around her schedule so that I can be there for those silly sweet moments with her. But my evenings are spent in the emergency room dealing with the latest trauma and the impact it's having on a family, or I'm serving up some piping hot coffee and discussing politics or some other topic with the newest customer at Starbucks. Sometimes I'm out taking pictures of a community event for the paper-- my tiny job that I adore. And once in a while I sell some Tupperware to people who come asking for it.
I used to think that to be successful I had to have a career, I had to make lots of money, I had to have a fat bank account, and I had to have the perfect house, drive the perfect car, have the perfect, smartest child, and be married to the perfect man. None of that is true. Sometimes events seem unfortunate when really they are a Godsend. My letting go of those ideals freed me up to appreciate the real world around me like I used to when I was a child. Because on those days when I was bored to tears, I found wonder and amazement in the things around me - like the way tree frogs sing at night, watching a litter of puppies be born, watching fruits and vegetables go from seedlings to harvest, enjoying the simplicity of the silence in the wee hours of the morning, as I am right now. I think now that the formula for happiness and personal satisfaction is opening myself up to new things, and when nothing seems fair or right, charging out into the world and creating the opportunity that I want to have. I wanted my life to be more flexible. I wanted to spend more time with my child. I wanted to be really happy and appreciated at work and to be able to align myself with the same ideals as my employer. I wanted to develop deeper connections with others. I wanted to go home nearly every night wowed with something or someone I'd experienced that day that kept my attention.
I have all of that now. Pure excitement. Happy thoughts. Things are really great.
Except for my broken foot. But I'll complain about that at another time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Happier Camper

For those of you following the gallbladder conundrum, here's an update. There's this stuff called Stone Free made by Planetary Herbals. It works. I don't know how it works but it does. It apparently helps to break up gallstones by softening them somehow. I have not had anymore terrible pain since I started taking them on Friday night. I'm still very cautious, but I am putting some fat back into my diet. This is a good thing, because one of the mistakes that leads to gallstones is yo-yo dieting or starvation diets (which I have never done).
Whenever I get myself into something, just about any situation that I don't have experience with or have never encountered, I read up on it. I read, and read, and read. My preliminary findings tell me that there are unconventional ways to get rid of gallstones and keep your gallbladder, which some people do fare much better with, versus without. However, I think if I'd had health insurance, I might not have had to dig so deep and find a solution. Interesting the way things happen in life. Some folks have real trouble after getting their gallbladder surgically removed. Like a lifetime of diarreah or acid reflux. Some people do just fine. Who knows which of those I'd be. It won't be too much longer before I'll have health insurance again. But I think I've decided that I'd like to keep this little pear shaped organ that has given me so much grief if I can figure out a way to get it back in the fold and make it stop behaving badly. I read a poem once about how the various members of the body had an argument about which was most important and which should ultimately have control. The brain and several others argued. But in the end it was the asshole that shut down operations completely when he decided to close up and do no work. So in the end the asshole won. I need to find that story again. I wonder if the gallbladder was even in the fight?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The gallbladder diet (starvation)

Rapid weight loss programs, diet pills, working out at the gym, and Richard Simmons all have NOTHING on the weight loss program I'm currently forced to be on. The I can't eat a damn thing because my gallbladder hurts like hell diet is making me drop some serious pounds! All of my pants are now loose (except the ones I tucked far back into the closet that I wore before Sarah came know, just in case I ever lost the 35 pounds). If I don't wear a belt, they'll fall off. I'm so hungry I'm like a madman if I smell food. Today we went into a Chick-fil-a and I wanted some greasy nuggets SO BAD, but of course I got the chargrilled SALAD with fat free dressing, and it still made me hurt. So then we go to a health foods store and I find some tablets that are supposed to break up gallstones. I buy them, come home, and take two. Now I'm basically in agony that is masked by two percocets. Had I not had those, I'd probably be right back in the ER, which is completely ironic because I have to be there at 6:45 AM anyway to work 11 hours. My life sucks! I have no health insurance and I cannot have surgery on this damn gallbladder that is giving me fits. The only plus to this that I can see is that I am finally losing some weight. Starvation, however, is not how I would have chosen to do it. I'm drinking Shaklee Cinch shakes which are good, don't hurt, and have lots of vitamins, BUT it's not enough. I'm still hungry because there is very little else I can eat. And you'd think for the thousands I'm going to wind up paying for last week's ER visit, the doc could have at least given me a diet cheat sheet. Foods to avoid? I am awake and hurting and wanted to tell the world how utterly miserable I am.
Don't let this happen to you. Don't eat anything with cholesterol, because that is the foundation of gallstones.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gallbladder gloom

Saturday night I am innocently sitting in my living room after coming home from a photo shoot. At the shoot, I had dinner, which consisted of some pretty benign foods - but I think it was the mashed potatos that got me. In a couple of hours I was in some pretty awful pain, right in the center of my chest, just below the sternum. I thought I had heartburn, took some Tums. Nope, so then I thought gas? Nope. Then I thought food poisoning, but every other time I've had that, I've thrown up violently so I knew that wasn't it either. By five in the morning I was so miserable I could hardly take a deep breath. I couldn't sit still, couldn't lie down, and would catch myself moaning out loud at times. So I got in my car and drove to the ER, where I work part time, and checked myself in. Hal and Sarah still in their beds at home. I had zero wait at the ER, mostly because I checked in during the dead zone of the day, but I was glad because I didn't know how much longer I could stand that kind of pain.
Before long I found myself in B-18, a room I have been in countless times to check on other patients. It was weird to be there myself, putting on the gown, covering up with the single sheet. Peeing in the cup, getting stabbed with huge needles. They had to give me three doses of morphine before I could tolerate the pain well. Then they came in to do an ultrasound of my gallbladder and lo and behold, there was the problem. Little gallstones lit up the film. I get on the phone and call my family. Six of them have had their gallbladders removed, on my father's side alone. Not a great statistic. Now I need mine out too. The last month has not been a good one for me. Strep throat, some ugly virus, and now gallbladder pain. I think we're beyond what my grandmother would call the meanness coming out...I think I must be exorcising some demons!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blankety Blank Blank!

Ahhhh! This stupid strep throat is back! A new way to torture potential terrorists....give them strep throat!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Phone number amnesia

I've been working in the ER for about a month and a half now, and I find that this is an extremely interesting place, not just in terms of the patients and the various illnesses and injuries, but also the talented people that work there too. The first CODE was hard to watch; but it was fascinating too. Nurses are amazing; and when they function as a team of 8 to 10, it's even more wild to watch. Every person knows their role in trying to save a life. The doctor circling the bed, calling the shots, try this, try that. It took me three days to get over not only watching the person die, but also watching the medical team do its thing.
My role is something I'm still figuring out, but it's more of a social services type thing. So when the you know what hits the proverbial fan, I get to observe and help with strange things like figuring out who Jane Doe is or trying to find supplies and services for people who don't have what they need. This job is growing on me in ways I never thought possible. I leave work now still thinking of patients I left behind, wondering what happened as the clock ticked on. It's weird. I've met some of the neatest people, lots of them elderly - because I kind of have a thing for old folks. I find that I'm drawn to them. I like talking to them in supermarkets, so of course I'm right there when they are in hospital beds. They usually give me compliments. They think I'm young! And they think I'm sweet. It's a give-give relationship.
One of the most profound observations I've made though, that repeats itself over and over again is something I've termed phone number amnesia. Picture yourself right in the middle of a trauma. Your family member is critically ill or dying or maybe even dead. And now you have to call people to tell them. Mostly other family members. You've known their phone numbers for YEARS, but you can't remember a single digit. Maybe a few digits, but not the whole number. Works every time. Amazing. This has happened to every single person I've encountered in the ER in the last month and a half who has fit the trauma scenario. They get so frustrated. They flip open their cellphones to look up the number and they can't understand why they don't remember it. They smack their foreheads with their palms, rolling their eyes up to the ceiling. I feel sad for them; I try to help. Mostly I stand there with them and say it's okay, it's okay, you'll remember, come sit down.
The brain is a high functioning organ. It knows what to do when. It takes over in those times. Tells you to slow down, forget the phone numbers, work numbers, other responsibilities and worries, to take up this horrible thing that is happening and to deal only with it. Emotion overrides logic, reason, and wherewithall. Is there a solution to phone number amnesia? I don't think so. Because even when you figure out the number, there will be one more person to call and another thing to remember. So when and if this ever happens to you, just hand your cell phone to someone else and tell them who to call.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Voting: priviledge or burden?

I arrived at the polls this morning at 7:04, and the line was backed out the door with young professionals and retirees. I waited until I couldn't wait anymore and had to step out of line and head to work. After I finished at work, I picked up my child and headed back to the polls. This time I stood in line and successfully voted. I explained to Sarah that today was a very special day, a day for helping to choose our country's next leader. Of course, at age 3, she won't grasp the meaning of an election day for a long time, but I think it's good practice to educate our next little generation of Americans that voting is something they should feel is as much a duty as it is a right and a priviledge. My husband, on the other hand, seems as if he could care less. I've known him for 12 years and not once during that time has he cast a vote for anything or anybody. Yet his father served as an Air Force pilot in three U.S. conflicts before he retired as a Lt. Colonel. Every time I encourage him to go, he expresses indifference and everytime I'm met with his indifference, I am dumbfounded. Today I heard a man say he had driven 60 miles to vote. He had just moved to another city but came back to vote. Another lady was pushing a super stroller with three babies (triplets)! The election officials at the polls said there had been record turnout today, all day long. Yet there are still many in this country who seem to not care at all. Or at least they don't care enough to take action. Can someone out there explain this to me?
I think we have a responsibilty to keep up with what happens around us, to care about the consequences of our nations activities and our leader's choices. We have a responsibility to voice our own opinion about how we think and feel about the political atmosphere around us and voting is the number one way to do that. It's sometimes the only way to truly get through.
But that's just my opinion. Shout out. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mean-ness revisited

Building on my last post, I must have done something awfully bad or be possesed by something awfully bad, because there's an awful lot of mean-ness coming out of me. The night before last I came home with a headache, the next night I woke up with a terrible scratchy throat, and the day after, yesterday, I had a four degree fever, the shakes, and I could hardly move I was in so much pain. As I type I can barely swallow. I was convinced last night that I must have the flu, but when the doctor looked at me this morning, he diagnosed my ailments as strep throat. He was very nice, especially when he found out I was one of the gang, as I work in the ER at the hospital. He was also very sympathetic. Little did he know I was simply so full of mean-ness I could barely move. My grandmother would have cooked up some sort of home remedy for this. When I was growing up with her I was never sick. And on the rare occassion that I actually did get sick, she'd usually have something to make me better, and it never involved going to a doctor. Since we were so poor, we couldn't afford to go "runnin' to the doctor" everytime we felt bad. I remember her giving me "onion tea" for stomach ailments, and her pouring hot oil in my ear when I had an earache. I also remember, with great disdain, her pinching my nose tight until I opened my mouth and gasped for air and as soon as I had taken a breath, she'd poke a spoonful of castor oil in and I'd just about throw up. Then she'd give me a piece of lemon or something that tasted worse than the castor oil so I wouldn't gag anymore. She and my father both felt that castor oil could cure just about anything in the human body. What it did was give you the runs so bad that no virus or bacteria could hang on and survive the flushing out. Muscular aches and pains got something called "salve" that came in a big red tin from the Watkins company, or you got "pain oil" that also came from the Watkins company. If you had a scratch or a skinned knee, you got alcohol or peroxide.
Most of all though, if you were sick or down in any way whatsoever, after the teasing about mean-ness and all of that, she made sure that you were taken care of to the best of her ability. Her dry wit and unwavering love is what I miss today. But since I'm all doped up on Loritab, Prednisone, and Amoxicillin, I think I'll be alright.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


My little three year old is sick. Ear infection. Bad one. So bad in fact, that her little eardrum burst this afternoon and lots of yellow-green gunk oozed out of her ear. I was horrified, much like the first time she threw up or pooped in the bath tub. More than horrifed though, I was frightened. As I carefully swabbed her ear and cleaned her up with a warm washcloth I wondered if she'd permanently lost hearing in that ear. From what I understand now, it'll heal up in a few weeks on its own, probably speedily since I followed up the swabbing and cleaning with some antibiotic ear drops left over from her last ear infection. She was sweet and whiny through the whole process and after it was over she quickly fell asleep on her daddy's chest. It was an oh my gosh type of parent moment.
When I and my cousins were in our pre-teen years, we'd gather over at my grandmother's house during the summer to play together. Since her house was smack dab in the middle of Georgia nowhere we were constantly grasping for things to do. One of our few sources of entertainment, besides each other's constant giggling, was to walk down to the creek at the bottom of the hill and throw Trouble in. Trouble was the sweetest most energetic Boston Terrier I've ever known. My grandmother had a thing for Boston Terriers. There were two that I can vaguely remember from my very early childhood, but Trouble was the third. Trouble followed us everywhere we went, whether it was a long walk through the thick woods or just down the road a mile or two. He was protecting us I suppose, or just bored himself. The bridge was probably about fifteen feet above the water and as we all walked around staring down at it, wondering what it would be like to jump off into the creek ourselves, someone would always say "Hey, let's throw Trouble in" and within seconds you'd hear the splash. All eyes drooped over the bridge to see if he came back up and when he did we'd all breathe a sigh of relief. Once in a while one or the other of us would get a conscious and tell the guilty one that he or she was just plain mean. But most of the time we laughed out loud and then drew our breaths until we saw his little black and white head bob up to the surface and he swam to the creekside. He'd always pull himself out of the water, shake himself free of most of the water, and climb the hill back to the road's edge to be with us again. But he wouldn't let us catch him again! When Trouble grew wise to our shenanigans we'd have to lure him over to the edge and just push him off with our feet real quick before he knew what was about to happen. As he grew older, we did too, and even if we could have pushed him in we wouldn't have, because he was sweet old Trouble. I'll never forget how he used to chase empty milk jugs around the yard when there was no one to play with but himself. He was a great dog.
During this same period of time when I was young, if I ever had an ache or a pain and mentioned it to my grandmother she'd always say "Aww Honey it's just the mean-ness coming out of you!" I wonder if she had that in the right order. Tonight when my little Sarah rose from her nap, after the Motrin had kicked in and her ear didn't hurt anymore -- while I was on the phone with my aunt and while Hal was quietly looking over our taxes, she took a black Sharpie marker and walked all the way from her room upstairs to the living room coloring the walls and everything else in her path with a nice fat black line. I think what I'll say to Sarah as she tromps through her childhood is "Aww Honey, it's just the mean-ness coming out IN you!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I met The President.

The other night I received an email from the Hillary Clinton campaign. "Bill in Macon Georgia" the subject line read. I opened it to reveal an invitation to hear him speak in less than a mere 48 hours. Immediatly I began mulling over this strange opportunity. Macon is almost a hundred miles from Athens and gas is nearly three dollars a gallon. Sarah would have to go to daycare because I couldn't imagine taking her with me for something like that...might as well not go. I had the day off on Monday so that wouldn't be a problem. Still I thought.

I remember very clearly my twelfth grade government class because it was in the fall of 1992 when Bill Clinton was running for the Presidency. I received extra credit for registering to vote, and because I was older than most of my classmates, having turned 18 in September, I was able to cast my first vote as an adult American citizen in that November election. I voted for Bill. I remember also that we discussed in great detail the duties and responsibilities of the President that fall in class, and I sat there in awe of the things we learned. Often I have wondered, what would it be like to be him?

I RSVP to the Hillary campaign an answer of "maybe." And this morning I still did not know if I'd go. But then the thought occurred to me: How often do I get a chance to see or hear or simply be in the presence of someone like this? Someone who has devoted the majority of his life working in government, in politics, in making a difference in the lives of Americans and so many others, like the woman from Kosovo who tearfully thanked him tonight for all he had done to free her family and her people. I went. I drove down there and after waiting for over two hours, I wound up sitting in the second row only about fifteen feet away from him.

Many different people have many different opinions of Bill Clinton. I always liked him regardless of the mistakes he'd made. He's a human being and human beings by default are absolutely not perfect. I'm not either. He screwed up and learned from it. I've done the same thing in my own life. We all have, in one way or another. Months ago, I watched a Q/A with Hillary. The woman interviewing her asked her a very pointed question: "How did you get through the very public trouble in your marriage?" Right then and there she had my support. She answered her faith, and that it was hard, that she wasn't normally an overly expressive person in public but that she had to be during that time and it was uncomfortable. The look on her face told the story of tough times that she had faced. How we deal with adversity can be the measure of who we are and what we are made of. If the thing that is closest to you erupts into a drastic hot flame and you've still got the gumption to pull yourself up and move forward in front of the world, then I think you've got what it takes to do just about anything.

Bill is an incredibily intelligent man. He spoke for two hours tonight and I listened to him quote facts, numbers, statistics, and people. He told stories and illustrated points. Not a note anywhere. No written speech, no teleprompter. Just him and his experience and his pizazz. He's an amazing speaker, eloquent and fluid. He gave five minute answers to questions that most of us didn't even get the first time around! He has a charming sense of humor. He clearly wants the best for America. When he was in the White House, Americans enjoyed mostly peace and prosperity. Times were good for the middle class; for me.

When it was all said and done he began shaking hands with those of us up front and he dealt with the mob of people very well. I can only imagine the stories he hears, the jeers he endures, he people he comes face to face with who have come from every corner of the globe. When they get close to him they want to tell him what's on their hearts and minds. I was nearly pushed over tonight by several people who were leaping for a chance to get an inch closer, to touch his hand, say hello, or exchange a glance with him. It was truly amazing. The only thing I felt like saying to him was that I had been proud of the job he'd done as President and that I was still glad that I'd cast my very first vote for him. When the time came, when he was standing inches from me, the guy behind me, from another country, was all over my body behind me, his arm pressing into the side of my body as he reached for President Clinton's hand. Thank you the man shouted. Thank you for what you did for my country. The man kept talking and as he did the President reached for my hand and held it there for several long moments; trying to move along but trying to give this man his attention too. Finally he looked down at me and smiled and said a simple "hey," tightened his grip and shook my hand formally and moved down the line. It was a mad throng of folks from all over, peaceful but determined. All of us were shocked that we were actually there, experiencing what we were.

The last week of my life has been surreal and this is just one more experience that adds to that strangeness. But that's how life is when we get out there and live it fully.

I was able to snap many great pics of him and the event and have uploaded one to share with you all. Now, can I hear you say: HILL -LA - REE!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Granny

Today would have been my grandmother's 90th birthday. All day I thought something was bugging me, something that I couldn't put my finger on. I started a new job and it's pretty awesome, so I knew that wasn't it. I have a cold and am feeling tired so I thought that was it, but then I realized something when I started signing paperwork and looking in my calendar. For most of my life, today was always a celebrated day in our family. Granny wasn't a very good gift receiver. She'd always tell us that we shouldn't have bought her anything, or that what we bought was the wrong color or size or that she didn't need it altogether. Some things she secretly loved and she'd stow them away in her closet for a more important occasion. I remember one particular pink robe that she put in there, claiming that we could bury her in that one. How morbid and odd I thought; yet how completely pessimistic. That's the way she was. Not outwardly loving until I was grown and started expressing affection myself; this ability I owe to my husband because he taught me that it was okay to wrap my arms around another person and say I love you.
Granny lived a long and hard life; she had a troubled childhood with an overbearing and critical mother and they were all very poor too. Still, she grew up with an air of confidence about her. She was the salutatorian of her high school graduating class and always seemed to me to be very intelligent and a good problem solver. I'll never forget the day she told me not to ever hold my head so high that I felt better than anyone else, but to realize also that I was just as good as anyone else as long as I kept myself looking nice and clean. She maintained that she "put her pants on every morning just like the President of the United States did, and he was no better than her and she no better than him." This was the message to me over all the years: be humble and kind and open minded and always believe in yourself and what you can do in this world, and believe in others too.
In her last few years I didn't see her as much as I always had because I lived out of state, but each time I did see her she would hold my hand and remind me of how much she loved me, and on this night that is what I miss the most. The feeling of her small hands. Her long fingers wrapped around mine. I miss hearing how she loved me and I miss the stories she'd tell me. I miss the way I could kneel and put my head in her lap and feel for a moment completely okay.
When I was a little girl, I remember clinging to my grandmother's every move, following in her every footstep, listening to her stories told over and over again. I believed she was superhuman. As I grew I began to see that she was fallible and sometimes weak as people are. Her health declined rapidly after I turned twenty, and her body failed her mind.
She's been gone for nearly three years now but I still think she's somehow superhuman. Perhaps her spirit right now feels mine, ever following hers around in heart and in mind. Perhaps she is watching over me and my little girl, laughing at the way I'm attempting to raise her, thinking that I sound a lot like she did when she was trying to raise me. I would have loved to let her taste my rendition of the old fashioned tea cakes she used to make for me. I made a batch a couple of weeks ago, just to see if I could, and when they tasted so good, I made a hundred more. Anything to bring me closer. Closer to that time and place that swept through my life too quickly, but that holds its place in my memory and in my heart.

Happy Birthday Granny. I miss you!