Saturday, November 13, 2010

Criminal Minds: how did I miss this?

I never watch television.  I mean never...until recently.  You see, my new roommate Jennifer introduced me to a show called Criminal Minds.  Holy Cow!  Last night, I watched 4 straight episodes of this show - now you must understand that my husband was conked out asleep on the couch (sitting up, quite impressive), Jennifer was at work, and I was holding Sarah and carefully monitoring her out-of-control fever outta nowhere that cropped up in the wee hours of the morning Friday.  But passing the time watching really smart sexy people use their cunning brain skills to catch the bad guy made for a whopping good time!
It isn't that I have anything against television, it's just that I don't like fiction.  I don't like sit-coms or reality shows or cartoons or infomercials.  I don't like re-runs of old-ass shows that weren't good the first time around either.  I used to like Days of Our Lives but then the plot got so slow I could keep up by watching a half dozen episodes a year so I just quit altogether.  I don't like to watch sports, save Georgia football, and I don't like MTV or VH1.  I certainly don't like wrestling or obscure documentaries about tools used thousands of years ago by early ape-like humans. 
However, I do PAY for television.  Odd as it may seem, my husband is a television addict (certified) and I've enabled his nasty habit for years now by shelling out the cash to subscribe.  It's too bad he hasn't taken the initiative to go on some t.v. trivia gameshow to win some money.  Anyway, in the last couple of weeks since I've starting watching this totally amazing show, I know he dreads seeing me come into the room with that "lemme have that remote mister" look on my face.  Too bad.  I'd say fifteen years of getting to watch whatever he wanted is enough.  It's time I finally felt like I was getting my money's worth on my cable bill!
If you haven't had the time or energy to catch this show, do yourself the favor.  It's pretty darn cool.  Also in it's 6th season, so I am embarrassed to have not caught on to this until now, however excited that I can now spend hours upon hours catching up on all the action!  I even checked out the online store for cool stuff but only found the DVDs and a t-shirt that I wouldn't wear.  I'm not buying the DVDs because while it would make sense to watch them in order to follow the storyline a bit better, I finally can justify spending mucho dollars on my cable service.  C'mon now.  Let's all breathe a big sigh of relief.  I know I feel better.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

I've decided that Halloween is my favorite holiday.  Prior to today, and considering that yesterday - Halloween day - was actually somewhat miserable, I've never had a favorite holiday.  But there's a first time for everything!  Allow me to preface this by saying that I've been a TOTAL slacker lately.  But a couple of weeks ago Hal started working on weekends, so even though I work two 12 hour shifts back to back on Thursday & Friday each week, I've got to be ready to entertain our 6 year old at the butt crack of dawn on Saturday morning, just hours after I've gotten off work and maybe three or four (if I'm lucky) hours after I've passed out asleep.
The first thing Sarah asked me on Halloween morning this year was if she could have pink hair.  My cousin gave us a hand-me-down rock star costume that is pink, I purchased a little pink skull bucket for her to collect her treats in so I guess she figured her hair ought to be pink too.  All day long she begged me to carve the pumpkin.  Granted, I should have already had that done - but alas, I am a slacker.  So just before noon I gave in and we carved the pumpkin, which she immediately made me start calling the "jack-o-lantern."  Later I forced her to take a nap, which she whined about.  When she awoke we made her take a bath, which she also whined about.  Then Jennifer glittered and glammed her hair and face to make her a pretty rock star, and she whined some then too.  Then she whined about the sun not going down fast enough so she could go trick or treating.  When it finally was time, after nearly 12 hours of pure parental torture, we headed out the door and walked straight to the neighbors house.  Not only did Sarah refuse to ring the doorbell and say 'trick or treat,' I had to PUSH her to walk up the sidewalk to their door!  This continued for the next ten houses until she finally asked to go home.  She might have mustered an audible 'trick or treat' once or twice, and maybe a 'thank you' too amongst our threats of never ever taking her trick or treating again if she didn't.
When we arrived home, we grabbed our bucket of candy, turned on the porch light and lit the jack-o-lantern.  This is when the child came alive.  She had a blast giving out candy to all the trick-or-treaters that darted our door.  We still had to remind her to say "you're welcome" but at least she seemed like she was enjoying something after such a long day of begging and whining.  Tis better to give than to receive I suppose.  At least she gets it honest.
In my renewed enthusiasm, I scooped her up after work today and drove her to the day after Halloween sale at Target where we bought lots of candy and a spiffy new costume for her to wear next year.  Only 363 days left.  Let the whining begin!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cancer sucks.

Alas!  I am a terrible blogger lately.  Believe me, it isn't for lack of things to say - it is mostly for lack of time to write, because of me putting other things and people first, and for general happiness all around.

The move back to our house generated quite a few other changes as well.  We have a new roommate - Jennifer - who came with her two feline children Omar and Poncho.  All in all, it's been a pretty smooth adjustment that has meant more love and friendship in my life.

In a few days it will be October - the leaves will start falling and everyone will start wearing pink again.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it always makes me sad.  Usually at some point I come to tears.  You see, I lost someone very special nearly 6 years ago now - my sweet Aunt Sharon.

She was first diagnosed at age 31 I believe, in 1989, and went through lots of chemo, radiation, and a full mastectomy.  Awful for her for sure, and awful for my 14 year old brain too.  Fifteen  years after her first diagnosis, her cancer comes back as osteosarcoma (probably a result of all that radiation) and turns deadly.  We tried to save her - including two trips to Houston's MD Anderson hospital, but she couldn't withstand the chemo regimen they needed her to go through and she stopped after only 2 or 3 treatments.

When she died my grief was immeasurable.  I plowed my face into my pillow and screamed - beating the bed with clinched fists in my heart's utter torment.  It was just awful - she was only 48 years old.  She had grandchildren she wanted to play with, and she had children who still needed her even though they were grown.  I still needed her; we all did.

I finally got up the nerve to go back to her house this past Sunday - to visit my cousin there where she now lives, to be in that space again where I always remember my Aunt Sharon living.  Her touches are still there, very viable - still very present.   But I did not feel her spirit there anymore and I can only hope that means that she is at peace with her passing, that she is carefully watching over us from beyond what we can know about yet.

Several days before I dreamed of her - she and I and my cousins sitting in that very living room.  Perhaps she is the one who visited me in my dream and suggested that I go ahead and go.  She must know that I have grieved a million times for her, have cried oh so many tears because of the injustice of it all, have wanted to ask her a thousand questions, and have wanted to show her my child.

So I went, and I didn't even cry.  I took Jennifer with me - and she was up to the task of being just the ears I needed to hear my thoughts that day.  And I hope, through all of the space and time, that there was another soul out there hearing about how much I still love and miss her.  This one's for you Aunt Sharon!

Monday, August 30, 2010


My commute is now about 7 minutes.  It used to be a minimum of 25.  You guessed it, I'm back in my house in Athens.  Thank God.  Today I visited the little country house nearly one month after we left and the only thing I found that I missed was the feeling that my grandmother's spirit might be out there amongst the trees.  She loved that little spot - it was the best thing she ever had.  I wonder if this spot here in Athens is my little place, my nest, my refuge from life's storm.  Could be.  All I know is that the instant we got things cleaned up and began to put our things back in the house, hang our pictures back on the walls, cut the grass, and cook a meal - I felt better all over.  A quiet sense of peace.
I really don't miss the country.  Maybe I miss the proximity to my father's place and his gigantic oak trees that must be 200 years old.  Or the sounds of the creek below my grandmother's house.  The baby geese that we got to watch grow over the course of the Spring.  Maybe I miss that feeling of really being in the place where I grew up.  But here it is my life I'm living, starting fresh and new, but not forgetting all that I could have lost in those spaces in between - the place I always belonged.  I'm really thankful for that time I had to spend out there in that tiny little hot/cold house.  I'm thankful for all of the memories I regained while in that space: the way my Granny looked standing at the stove with her apron on and her spatula in hand (I can smell the bacon frying), the ancient echos of my childhood laughter when my Uncle Keith and I used to squirt each other with the water hose, Granny reciting the poem about leaves falling in the wind, and all of the times our family gathered there to eat and laugh and love.
No life is perfect.  No life is without pain and sacrifice.  But I've also found that no life is without tender moments of real peace and love and laughter and minutes you'd like to bottle up and save for later so you'd never forget what it felt like when they happened.  What I would give now to lay my head in Granny's soft lap and feel her long slender fingers course through my hair.  What I would give to be a child again swinging mightily on the tire swing my father hung from the limb of that giant oak tree.  What I'd give to hold my baby brother in my arms again.  And wouldn't we all love to know then what we know now?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Things are not always what they seem.
Your face in the shadows, once in the moonlight, now gone.
Sometimes I still see you there when you want to be.

What is this mess we've made?
It is like a pink rubber ball bouncing rapidly down a steep, dark slope.
Fresh at once then losing speed until it rolls no more.

You have been my heaven and my in-between.
But as you fade away I know this will not be
everything I thought it could.

Still I reach for you in the night.
Someday I hope you may return to me
and be a warm welcome against my cold skin.

My soul awaits yours and I will try to live fully.
Surely it cannot be much longer
until we finally get it right.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It is you my love.

I knew you a hundred years ago
I saw you walking on those cold
grey cobblestones which fit so perfectly together.

You walked there in the crevice of my mind
and in the years since my longing for you deepened
into something I shall know as love.

When I saw you again I did not know you.
It was my soul that whispered, he's here.
After all this time, I know it is you.

Easy to smooth the painful cries of long ago,
tears that fell on cold window panes
and handkerchiefs not embroidered with loose change.

Easy it is now to look into your eyes
beautiful, brown, knowing who I am from the start.
I am limp when you reach for me underneath the stars.

It is okay my love.  No need to wait any longer.
This time we will not be denied what we could not have then.
Let us live a thousand more years warmed in the light of the sun.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Will Come To You

When you have no light to guide you
And no one to walk to walk beside you
I will come to you
Oh I will come to you
When the night is dark and stormy
You won't have to reach out for me
I will come to you
Oh I will come to you

Sometimes when all your dreams may have seen better days
And you don't know how or why, but you've lost your way
Have no fear when your tears are fallin'
I will hear your spirit callin'
And I swear I'll be there come what may

When you have no light to guide you
And no one to walk beside you
I will come to you
Oh I will come to you
When the night is dark and stormy
You won't have to reach out for me
I will come to you
Oh I will come to you

I will come to you

'Cause even if we can't be together
We'll be friends now and forever
And I swear that I'll be there come what may
When the night is dark and stormy
You won't have to reach out for me
I will come to you
Oh I will come to you

We all need somebody we can turn to
Someone who'll always understand
So if you feel that your soul is dyin'
And you need the strength to keep tryin'
I'll reach out and take your hand

I'll reach out and take your hand

Oh I will come to you
When you have no light to guide you
And no one to walk to walk beside you
I will come to you
Oh I will come to you
When the night is dark and stormy
You won't have to reach out for me
I will come to you
Oh I will come to you

Oh I will come to you
Oh I will come to you

I will come to you,
Oh I will come to you


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Recession's long shadow.

The Atlantic Monthly had an article about the recession and unemployment in America.  I hope everyone will read this article.  Hal has been out of meaningful work for over 2 years now.  It's very hard on families when one of the couple is involuntarily out of work.  Depression and divorce sky-rocket.  Here's the link:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Of cucumbers and mid-life crises.

I've felt cramped lately, like I need to escape my life.  Wonder if this is normal?  I am after all, 35.  Isn't it time for a mid-life crisis?  Is this where I'm supposed to make some dramatic change to keep up the inertia that will take me to 70?

Pickle season is nearly over.  The cucumber plants are slowing down, but justifiably so since they've born hundreds of cucumbers.  They are nice long round pretty things.  I held one in my hands the other day and marveled at just how pretty it was.  Sarah had an especially gigantic one in her lap the other day, a little cloth wrapped around it.  I asked, "what are you doing?"  She replied, "Mama of course I'm holding my baby's baby."  Duh.  I suppose her actual baby doll off to the side had given birth to this here plump cucumber, one side cream-colored toward the sun.

My job is wonderful.  I am working too many hours, which I think is the reason for my hum-drum, but damn what a satisfying job I have.  Too bad I cannot write about it here.  The range of emotions I feel in a 12-hour shift would jolt most of you for days.  It did me at first too.  But now I thrive on it if it doesn't kill my spirit.  It's a delicate balance, you see.

My child is growing up too fast.  When she was a baby I dreamed of the day when she'd be big enough to do things own her own, and now that she mostly is - the whole thing scares the shit out of me.  I threaten to go off to college with her.  Hal gives me weird glances.  He knows I actually could do that if I wanted to.  I could get some job at her college and watch over her there but I won't.  And besides, that's 13 years away.  But the first 5 flew by.  Especially those dark and dreamy nights when I just held her in my arms and rocked her to sleep; the smell of her soy milk breath wafting under my nose.  Her baby sighs.  Gosh.

And marriage.  Isn't that a hard one to figure?  The yo-yo up and downs of life that you try to pull through together.  Sometimes our bond feels like cement, other times it's more like silly putty.  Perhaps that is the way it was meant to be.  No one can be head-over-heels in love 24/7 forever.  I am, but I'm not.  He is, but he isn't.  We are, but we cannot be, not all the time.  Sometimes when he sleeps I run my fingers through his hair and kiss his forehead but he doesn't know it.  Sometimes I stare at him and envy the fact that he can sleep so easily, but I cannot.

In a few hours I think I'll take off somewhere.  Blow off some steam.  Lick my wounds, chase my tail, and just drive like a bat out of hell.  Perhaps to the ocean.  Maybe I'll even jump in.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This thing is so awesome!  It took hours to put together but I loved every minute of it, sore neck and all.  Hal totally called me out on having more fun with it than Sarah but I rebutted with a "she can't have fun unless it's assembled!"  If you've seen Toy Story 3 - and the other Toy Story movies - and you've ever played with Legos as a child, this thing is for you (and your kid of course)!  Sarah loves it!  She's always been rather fascinated by trains so I knew she'd like it.  Over the summer she's become a night owl like me and we went to Wal-mart (dare I say the word) at 5:00 in the morning yesterday - she perused the toy section and found this.  It's not cheap, but it is a lot of TOY and it highlights the opening scene in Toy Story 3.  Hal and I had always thought of buying her a train set since she showed such interest, but never this was a great compromise.  I think there is something rather therapeutic about putting together an intricate Lego model.  The instructions had over 60 pages in two booklets.  I think there were a total of 584 pieces too.  Really a well thought out design.  Even Hal was impressed!  But most satisfying was watching Sarah in the floor playing with Buzz, Woody, Jessie, and the Evil Dr. Porkchop!  She was so funny!  Definitely worth the money and I'm not one to spend a lot of money right now.  So there you go!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The past few weeks have been heavy with responsibility, work, and pickle-making, and I haven't had a lot of time for writing, nor have I been in the mood to write.  Actually tonight I'm not either but I know that this writer's block can go from temporary to semi-permanent if I don't do something to shake it up - so here I am clicking away at the keys.

There isn't much new to report except that our pickles have been met with rave reviews!  It's really exciting to see everyone smiling when they crunch on one of our pickles the first time.  They really are very good and we're actually starting to make a teeny bit of money.  Plus Hal has something to do everyday now - harvest and wash cucumbers and get them ready for pickling.  He's also now made a few dozen jars by himself after learning the uber secret recipe! 

I've also been reading and musing on a whole lot of things - the awful oil that's gushing into the Gulf of Mexico courtesy of BP, the prospect of moving back into our house in the suburbs in a mere 4 months, and I'm thinking of making us a one car family.  That's right!  I don't know if my husband will ever agree to that idea, but as long as he's not working, and when we're back in our house that's only 4 miles from my job (if that), then it makes no sense to have more than one car.  I can bike to work.  Plus, one of our vehicles is paid off so if I can sell the one I'm making payments on, then that's major extra money every month!  We shall see. 

I had one of those extremely nifty 40% off coupons from Border's bookstore tonight and it was burning a hole in my hands so I picked up a copy of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.  I took the online test and got a overall score of 74.  I'm assuming this is out of 100.  So, got a ways to go!  Apparently if your emotional intelligence is high enough, you can make lots more money in your work life.  But that's not why I bought the book.  I like to be self-aware so I thought this might help.  Plus, I know I'm not perfect so I like to constantly be on the prowl for new information that can make me a better person.  There you go.  Get a copy of this book and we'll share scores!  Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Got in the kitchen last night with our first batch of homegrown organic pickles!  We were able to make 7 quart jars of pickles - and we're super excited and hope that we get lots more cucumbers in the days ahead.  Hal still doesn't have a job so we're hoping this can be his summer activity and that we can sell our pickles for a small profit!  I spent a good bit on the spices and jars so we at least want to make back that money and have enough cucumbers to use up all the spices. 

I made these pickles by tweaking a recipe given to me by my former supervisor at Clemson.  She is an awesome cook and can make anything by hand!  She even makes her own tortilla chips!  But I haven't made these pickles in almost 7 years because when I first got pregnant with Sarah I couldn't stand the smell of garlic.  Kinda funny huh?  They'll be ready to eat Friday at midnight - can't wait to try them again!  Now what to call them?  Heather's Amazin' Dills or Posey's Pernicious Pickles?  :o)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Living on little.

So it turns out that it was NKOTB-not-to-be.  Just couldn't find the cash to go this year unless a large sum of money befalls me before June 19th that is, or I'll make a last ditch effort to see them in New York.  I feel childishly pouty about the whole thing, but this is life.  I'm nearly finished with a wonderful book called The New Good Life by John Robbins, the would-be heir to the Baskin Robbins fortune.  Rather than spend his life wanting for absolutely nothing, he gave it all up to live a simpler, more aware, and earth friendly existence.  This really is a good story, and a good manual for making the financial hard times more palatable.  For me it really is sometimes very difficult, because I work full time but my husband is still not able to find work at all.  So the American consumer in me feels that I ought to be able to reward myself by using my money to purchase something for myself.  This book brings home the point that there are much more rewarding ways to spend our time besides shopping for things to clutter up our houses.  But it doesn't necessarily speak to buying "experiences" like a NKOTB concert.  It does talk about other ways to have fun though, and that'll have to do for now.  So this next week I'm going to get outside more and spend more time with my daughter and less time in front of a computer or a book.  There are cheap ways to have fun.  I should know, I lived cheaply for most of my life.  Tomorrow maybe we'll find some free fun somewhere.

I am not really a material girl.  If I put all of my true wants on a list, I doubt it would equal a hundred thousand dollars.  Seriously.  The most expensive thing would be an Airstream camper!  It would be super fabulous to have one of those to pull around to all the state parks and camp out.  I could take some awesome pictures.  Perhaps I'll start saving now!

Here's the link to the book - I'm definitely going to keep this one on my shelf for reference.  The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Toddler dictionary, part two.

A few more Sarah-isms to add to the toddler dictionary.  Too cute not to write down.

Na-kin: the thing you wipe your mouth with after lunch.  Unless you forget and wipe it on your sleeve.

Ploma: the rolled up piece of paper with a string tied around it that they give you at graduation.

Fee-ater: large building where you go pay out the nose to see a movie.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Impossible situation.

I really don't want to write about this because I don't like to immortalize bad things...but this is worth writing about.  My grandmother always said I was "tender-hearted."  I think she was right.
Last Friday night I was on my way home from work at 3:30 in the morning.  Everything was dark blue-black except my headlights and the little pair of eyes shining back at me there in the road.  After I saw the little cat curled up in a ball in the road, clearly still alive, I had to stop.  I turned around and pulled into that lane with my hazard lights on so that no one would run over the cat again.  Three thirty in the morning is when all the critters are out.  It's the absolute worst time to try to drive home.  Every single night I'm dodging animals in the road.  I'd rather fight rush hour traffic than dodge animals.  But alas, there it was.  Someone rushing along this busy highway had obviously hit the little grey and white tabby cat and the poor thing was just in the middle of the road curled up, bleeding from the mouth and trying  hard to breathe.  Coughing up blood, meowing at me.  It was just awful.  It was so dark and there was no one out there but me and the kitty.  I paced around for a minute.  I'd just ended a 36 hour period where I'd worked 24 of those hours and I was really tired, but I could not just leave the cat.  I called the local sheriff's office and asked them to come.  They never did.  I called the 24 hour trauma vet but they told me that if I brought the cat to them I'd have to take financial responsibility and it would more than likely cost me around a thousand dollars.  Then several minutes later an off duty cop pulls over, still in his uniform.  He shines his light on the cat, who has now made it to the side of the road all by itself and tells me not to give up on the little guy just yet.  He might make it the cop told me, "but you need to get your car off this road because you and I are probably the only two sober people here."  Three times, three different ways, he told me to get back in my car and get the heck off that dark highway.  So I did.  It was an awfully impossible situation.

The next morning I was still upset about the cat and I told my family what had happened.  Sarah asked, "did the cat die Mommy?" I told her I didn't know.  She then said, "well, it's okay Mommy - she'll just go to Heaven and be alive again!"

After Sarah's pre-school graduation ceremony (where my camera batteries died right at the start), we went back home taking the route by where I'd seen the cat.  I looked all over but it wasn't there.  I'm hoping it made its way back home to someone who could afford the thousand dollar vet bill...or made it to kitty Heaven the way Sarah suggested.

It's too bad the trauma vet wouldn't just help the cat.  I would have been willing to pay something, but that price was outrageous.  In the Emergency Room, we take whatever walks in the door - especially when you've been hit by a car!  It's not the best deal for the hospital financially, but in the end it's the right thing to do - to take a legitimate someone who is seriously hurt and do our best to save their life.  For a brief moment I actually considered taking the cat back to the ER where I work, but I knew I'd get some strange looks and maybe a "get the hell out of here with that thing!"

My own cat is an extension of my little family.  I feed her well, I give her medicine for fleas, and she can sleep in my bed if she wants (although most days she doesn't).  I don't understand how someone can hit an animal on the road and not stop - as if that life was disposable.

To make matters worse, tonight I get this email on a list-serv I'm a member of:

"Anyone looking to adopt an animal?  Paulding county Animal shelter (GA)
will be closing May 28th for construction. All animals are being
adopted out for $20 each. This includes shots, spay/neuter, and
micro-chipping. All animals not adopted by May 28th will be euthanized.
This is a great opportunity for anyone to give an animal a second
on life"

An animal shelter is closing for renovations and will euthanize all animals that aren't gone in 10 days time?  My goodness.

I plan on making a donation to the Humane Society in that little cat's honor - hope you will too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shhhh! Quiet! Mama bear is sleeping.

My husband is perhaps my number one deterrent when it comes to sleeping at night.  For one, he snores.  This is a relatively new-ish thing.  He didn't snore until about two years ago.  It isn't constant...just once in a while as he sleeps.  But here's the thing that really gets me...I go to sleep early some nights and he stays up late.  But when he comes to bed he steps on the squeaky wooden floor and it wakes me up!  So tonight I've been amusing myself with  Goodness gracious what a total waste of time.  But I suppose a little mindless balloon popping never hurt anyone!  Now, off to bed.  Should I whack him on the head?  :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

The last few days I've been feeling kinda crappy.  It all started last week when I stopped taking Lyrica.  You see, I've been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia - 3 times in the last 10 years!  Most recently my very awesome doctor prescribed Lyrica which actually worked pretty good - but it made me kind of fuzzy headed and worst of all, it made me gain weight.  Which clearly I don't need to do!  Just the opposite, I need to lose weight to the tune of about 40 pounds.  So, because of that, I decided to titrate down on my dosage and completely go off of it.  By Saturday afternoon I couldn't move my head.  Fortunately my dad had some Loritab and he gave me two of them so I could move around on Saturday and Sunday.  Today I went to see my doctor and he said that he's more convinced than ever that I do indeed have Fibromyalgia.  And it just so happens that today is National Fibromyalgia Awareness day.  I was given a new medicine to try that doesn't cause weight gain, so I've already taken my first dose.  Even though it hurts I'm going to continue trying to get out of the house and move around, take a walk.  In this vein I had the following conversation with my daughter just now:

Me: Hey I've got a suggestion.
Sarah: What is it?
Me: We can walk down to the creek with the binoculars and see if we can spot the geese and their babies or we can play our new Scrabble game (just got it today to practice building words with her).
Sarah: Um, how about we do both? (smart kid - get everything you can, right?)
Me: Uh, okay.  Which one do you want to do first?
Sarah: Let's get the 'vernaculars' and go see the baby geese! (I love being her mommy!)

So if you are one of the millions that suffer each day from the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, don't worry, just keep moving.  And talk to your doctor.  I believe you.  It's definitely real - and it has causes and symptoms.  For more information, go to

Monday, May 10, 2010

NKOTB or not to be?

I'm loving the extra blogging for Skirt! that I'm doing lately, but alas I have neglected this blog!  Right now I'm trying to cook up a way to go to a New Kids on the Block concert this year.  Now last year I totally indulged myself like never before, but I will also say that last year I had a really good time and came home very happy each time.  This year the closest shows are 12 hours away (gasp)! But, I really want to go.  We have a moral conundrum here.  Hubby still has no job but I still want to go.  What to do, what to do?  This is what's keeping me up tonight! 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

You must read this book...

Seriously.  I'm more than halfway through it and it has made me re-think the food I eat.  I'm on a streak of personal development lately!  :)

I was not aware of all the toxins that are in our food, and only subtly aware of the mistreatment animals endure while being raised in large factory farms for food.  Having grown up out in the country and regularly seeing cows carelessly grazing in large green pastures sort of made me see the meat I eat through rose-colored glasses.  I'm not saying that everyone should be vegetarian or even vegan, but reducing the amount of meat we eat would do a lot towards helping the global environmental crisis get a little bit better.  I had no idea that agriculture actually emits more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry!  There's a lot of methane in animal poop.  And there's a lot of fertilizers used in the foods we raise to feed all those animals with. 

I don't expect that a few of us can solve these problems, but what we all can and should do is make ourselves at least aware and educated about what the problems are.  Why leave this for our children to worry about?  Yesterday I ate no meat by sheer coincidence.  Today I ate no meat on purpose.  Tomorrow maybe I'll have a hamburger or maybe I won't.  But at least I'll know more than I did yesterday about what the issues are.

One step closer to seeing my name in lights!

I'm now a blogger for Skirt! - a national and local magazine (print and online).  So check me out - go to!  That will be "my other blog."  I'll try my best not to replicate content too much.  Yay me!  Can you tell I'm excited.  No extra money here, but definitely extra fun!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Well, it's your hair!

Today I woke up with that undeniable urge to get half my hair whacked off.  You women out there know what I'm talking about: it's the I'll find whoever has some scissors and this god-awful hair will come off today.  You will drive to the nearest hair cut facility and you will find someone who can cut it off so that the dreaded blob of hair on your head will not look like you just dunk your head in a toilet everyday.  You're absolutely completely sick of it and should there be some apocalyptic reason why all the hair cut facilities are closed today, you'll take the darn kitchen scissors to it if you have to.  It's coming off.

So there I was, in Great Clips of all places, with that desperate look in my eye.  I know those women know that look.  That, I don't give a damn what you do, just cut it off, look.  This lady calls my name after only a few minutes of waiting and takes me back to her chair.  On the way I'm taking a mental note-to-self that her hair looks pretty awful.  It's not even close to being styled.  My stylist is African American, and I've seen some really awesome locks on my African American friends at work so I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she can do better than simply straightening her not-even-shoulder-length hair that's sticking out at approximately a 45 degree angle from her head.   Another mental note occurs to me: this is the site of the terrible, awful, no-good very bad haircut that I got just before moving to Maryland in Fall of 2008 and quite frankly, I'm never going to forget that.  I've had about 5 really bad haircuts since I was born and that was the 5th one. 

So I sit down in her chair and she's literally muttering something under her breath about not talking at work anymore and how she's got a new attitude which immediately leads me to believe that she got in trouble recently for something she said.  Great start.  She finally says hello to me and asks the inevitable question that always makes me cringe.  "What we gonna do with it today?"  

The last haircut I got from my dear friend and the one that can no doubt cut my hair better than anyone else in this world (but she's off on Sundays and I was having an emergency), but my last haircut must have been the result of a communication error on my part.  Normally I just let her have at it and make my head of hair her personally sculpted work of art for the day.  Last time she gave me what my work friends called a shag - but I (being a child of the 80's) felt it was a bit too close to an actual mullet so it bothered me this entire last month.  Plus, I was getting those side flaps of hair back over my ears that made my head look like it could become a propeller at any moment and take flight.  In my imagination I could hear small children saying from down below as I was lifting off, "look Mommy - that lady is flying with her hair!"

Alas, I digress.  I tell the lady to leave the top of my hair alone, cut it at the ear, and cut off the back leaving just enough over the collar for it to flip out a little.  She immediately begins to argue with me.  What? she says.  Mmm Mmm, I don't think that will be good.  Now she insults my judgement, or perhaps I'm being over-sensitive, but regardless she's telling me that what I've suggested and thought about for a year and a half (this was the haircut I was trying to get when I got the really bad haircut) isn't going to look good.  Now, if you know me, you know that I could mostly care less about what I look like.  I'm not that vein.  I don't wear make-up at all, don't pluck my eyebrows, never change my earrings, and if I spend more than 5 minutes on my hair - I'm having an unusually great day.   I tell her that is what I want and she proceeds to reply that she's going to cut it like she thinks it will look best.  She does, pushing down on my head and neck like I'm the bride of Gumby (hold your head down!), leaving the top alone as I've asked, getting rid of the propeller blades over my ear, but leaving the length on the back.  She paused and asked, "now doesn't that look good?"  She sees my reaction and incredulously asks, "you really want this cut shorter back here?"  "Yes I do," I tell her and she shakes her head and says, "well it's your hair!  It won't look very attractive, but I'll cut it like you want it."

When I get up from the chair I tell her that it's taken me a year and a half to get that haircut and only because of that fact do I tell her thank you and give her a paltry $2 tip.  So if any of you see me in the next few days and my hair looks really that bad, just smile and nod and know that at least I fought for what I wanted and won.  I believe there's value in that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beginning of the end for Happy Meals?

Today in Santa Clara California, county supervisors voted 3-2 to ban prizes from meals containing more than 485 calories.  From May 11, restaurants will have only 90 days to get rid of the toys in kid's meals or more famoulsy, McDonald's happy meals.

"McDonald's is built on the Happy Meal," said one store manager at a local McDonald's that I spoke with today.  Oddly, none of the employees in that franchise (here in GA) had even heard the news.  They were concerned though.  The manager added, "we sell about 100 Happy Meals a day here." What's more is that of all the Happy Meals for kids that are sold, lots of shuttling parents also buy a thing or two to eat.  Happy Meals are a big draw for kids, and hungry parents can hardly stand the smell of those salty, fatty number one french fries either.  I know from experience.  Usually I have to have at least one of Sarah's fries.  She's 5 and a half, so for at least 2 years we've been purchasing Happy Meals left and right.  Do we do this every night?  Absolutely not.  Do we do it every week? Probably.  It's an indulgence for her and us.  She loves the food and actually eats the meal, and we don't have to worry so much about begging her to simply eat.  No messy kitchen either.

I have mixed feelings about Happy Meal toys.  The plus side is that they make Sarah happy, and she usually thinks I'm a very cool mother for taking her there. There's an article on the McDonald's website that is aimed at dispelling the "happy meal rumor" and asserts the claim that the food is actually quite healthy.  The article quotes a professor from The University of Georgia, my alma mater!  That article is here:

The down side is, what happens to all those plastic toys?  According to the McDonald's website, there are about 13,000 restaurants in the U.S.  If the store I was in happened to be a typical store, that's an estimate of 1.3 million plastic toys per day just in the U.S.  I know that my child will grow up and abandon those toys - she usually loses interest in them within a couple of weeks or until the next set of toys comes out.  Eventually they'll go in the trash because they can't be recycled.  Are there enough holes in the Earth to hold all this trash?  If McDonald's would make the move to having their toys produced with sustainable materials, that would be better, but until the toys go away, we've got major garbage added every day to our already growing heap on the planet.

One other issue is this one: I'm a mother.  I should be able to decide what my child can or cannot eat on any given day, or at any given mealtime.  In the end, I think a better option for Santa Clara, CA would be to lead a health education campaign aimed how parents should moderate high-fat food consumption for their children.  For the parents who wish to feed their kids McDonalds food from time to time, such as myself, I doubt I'll let that stop me.  I'm quite sure there are more McDonald's right across the county line that will be happy to serve children a toy with their Happy Meals.  But as a parent, I cannot imagine driving thru at my local McDonalds and Sarah not getting a toy with her Happy Meal.

I know you have an opinion.  Let the bickering commence!

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm a changed woman.

I've been working hard at trying to finish The Story of Stuff book, and I'm almost there.  I can probably read the rest of it tonight.  Having said that, I must say that shopping is a totally different experience with this new knowledge.  Today I found myself at the Mall of Georgia.  I held an Apple iPad and thought, oh cool I can see the whole web page - but what's the point?  I ducked into Old Navy and even tried on a pair of khakis.  My thought used to be that I could never have too many khaki pants.  Now, I'm thinking mine don't yet have holes in them and I no longer feel the need to have one in every color.  We went into the Disney Store.  Now, I love all things Disney, but did you know that Haitian workers in Port au Prince who sew Disney garments only make $3.75 an hour?  I was able to buy two shirts for Sarah for $7.50 each.  Where's all that profit going?  The CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner made 8.3 million in 2005.  So those poor Haitian working mothers who don't even get home in time to see their kids go to bed are paying the price.  It's not fair.  With almost all of our goods in the U.S. being made very cheaply overseas, things break down faster and easier than they used to.  And why don't we repair them rather than buy a new one?  I'll tell you why - because many times it is actually cheaper to buy a new one than to have your broken one fixed!  That's planned obsolescence.  We should be making things here, making them durable and right, and then having them fixed when they break instead of throwing them in our landfills, or worse...shipping them overseas to pollute someone else's country.  Repairing things here has another bonus: more jobs!

Here's another interesting fact: in the U.S. 12.9% of all municipal garbage (that means the garbage that you and I throw away) is FOOD SCRAPS!  Yet poverty is rampant all over the world.  We have the smart brains to figure out how to put a man on the Moon, how to design an iPhone, how to perform life saving heart surgeries and brain surgeries - yet we can't solve our poverty problem?  Did you know that 30.9% of our municipal garbage is containers and packaging for all those things we buy?  I'm as guilty as anyone else.  I like stuff.  I've been trained to like stuff all of my life.  By the time we are 20 years old, the average American has viewed nearly a million ads.  In 2006, $276 billion was spent on advertising.  One year we buy khakis with a straight cut, the next year, a skinny cut, the next year a super flare - ads tell us what we should want, and then we do want it, and then we buy it and then next year, we're on to something else.  Again, planned obsolescence.  At age 35, I've already seen fashions from the 80's make a comeback (god help us).  What will it be this decade?  We think all these new things will make us happy.  But research says they don't.  They make us feel better for a couple of weeks, and then poof, we get that credit card bill and start feeling bad about our debt.

How do we find a way out of this work-shop-spend cycle?  How do we buy less and therefore, decrease the demands on our planet?  I don't yet have the answers to those questions.  But what I do now have is a different feeling when I shop.  If I need it, I'll buy it - but only if I can justify a need or a super-duper want.  A super-duper want for me consists of thinking about something for at least two weeks before finally giving in and making the purchase.  And having been raised with the old adage, women are born to shop, this might be difficult and painful at first.   With Hal not working these past two years, I've already had to tell myself no many times...but this will be telling myself no every time and then reconsidering on a case by case basis.  I'll help myself in the end.  We don't have as much money as we used to anyway, so to stay out of debt, we need to learn to consume less.  This is a good thing.

Even the car I drove around in today was an unnecessary purchase.  I didn't have to have a brand spanking new hybrid Honda Insight a year ago.  My 2005 Volkswagen Jetta worked just fine.  It got 29 miles per gallon.  There's no doubt that my Insight gets better gas mileage, at 46.1 mpg average.  And yes, I have saved money on gas and have used less gas.  I feel good about that.  But how much energy and natural resources did it take to produce my new car?  Had I traded in a 20 year old gas guzzler, I'd have made a better deal - but the car I had was only 5 years old.  I probably shouldn't have bought the new one, even if it was a hybrid.  The only thing I can do at this point is drive it 300,000 miles or until it falls apart, so that I know I've used it up.  Then it should be scraped and recycled into new parts for a new car.  We need to produce things in a closed loop and stop draining the Earth of all it's natural resources and filling it back up with garbage and toxic chemicals.

It's a lot to take in.  You all owe it to yourselves to read this book.  You don't have to buy it.  I'll loan you mine!  :)  But if you're too far away and you want a copy, here's the link: The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

To celebrate Earth Day, I've got a few things going.  For one, we planted our garden on Tuesday because that was the day my father decided was the day that it must be done.  Since his garden is pretty much great every year (unless we're in a drought), I believe him.  Here he is showing Hal how to drive his tractor to make the rows exactly right.  We planted cucumber, squash, corn, cantaloupe, and zucchini seeds.  I'm re-launching my dill pickle business this summer and we're stoked.  Hal still doesn't have a job so this will definitely keep him busy.  When I did this several years ago, it went really well - this time I think we're much more ready, especially since we're growing our own cucumbers.  The other thing that I'm doing this week in honor of Earth Day is giving up meat.  Growing animals for food uses tons of water and chemicals so for a week I'm going veggie!  Good for me, good for the planet.  Did you know that you should only eat 4 ounces of meat per day anyway (that is, if you eat meat at all)?  Hopefully I'll find some time to finish reading The Story of Stuff before the week is out! 

Bumps in the night.

I'm sitting here in the dark, and both of my sweeties are asleep.  The kitties are roaming around outside somewhere being cats.  P.P. returned home yesterday morning with a whole dead mouse.  She'd rather eat her cat food I suppose, yet there's still an instinct to wipe out the mouse population, one by one.  Tonight she's back on the hunt, happy as a cat can be I guess, roaming the dark deafening woods.  The only thing to hear around here at night inside the house is the low roar of my box fan - a  household staple since my duty in the freshman dorm at Georgia.  It really does help me sleep because when I'm asleep it drowns out all the other noise in the house.  However, when I'm up like this, and wide awake, I sometimes hear footsteps in this house. For the first few months that we were here I heard absolutely nothing...and I was listening too.  Boy, let me tell you.  I was a little more than completely freaked out when we first started living in this house.  Two people died in this house and it's also the place that my grandmother always wanted to come back to in her last years when she was staying with my aunt and uncle instead of being able to live in her own home.  This little house was all she ever really had, and she worked hard for it, so she valued it more than anything else.

It was just when I'd stopped freaking out about it all and had pretty much forgotten about the spirits that could linger when I started hearing the footsteps.  At first, I ignored them and chalked it up to some other thing, like maybe the front screen door was banging, or maybe the cat was on the porch jumping down off the rail.  But last week it was so obvious that I literally felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  I'd always heard other people say that and thought oh what an odd thing to feel, but now I know.  It's kind of spine tingling.  Seriously.  Here's how it went.

I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep.  I've already gone through my normal routine of twittering, emailing, blogging, and surfing the Internet to wind down from a long twelve hour shift in the ER.  Sarah was on the couch asleep (because she refuses to sleep in the back room of the house where all of her stuff is).  Hal was in our bed sound asleep too.  I was curled up on my side when I heard the footsteps.  My first instinct was that perhaps Sarah had awoke and was coming to get in the bed with us.  I opened my eyes and watched for her, but didn't see or hear her.  I laid back down and waited a minute and then heard more footsteps.  This time I raise up on one elbow and really look hard for her silhouette in the dim light.  Nothing.  So I get up and go check on her and lo and behold there she is on the couch still very much asleep and in the exact same position as I left her earlier.  That's when I felt the shiver up and down my spine.  Seriously.  For a moment I was afraid.  But then I realized that if any of my family members who have gone on to the other side were here for a visit, they'd mean no harm to me.  Or maybe it was just a "place memory." I don't know.  I heard them again tonight, but didn't bother getting up to check on anyone.  I guess now that they know we're back in the house, they're coming around to make sure we're okay.  My grandmother is probably trying to send me hints to clean up the place.  Or Keith would just try to freak us out and have himself a good laugh.  My grandfather, who collapsed right in the bedroom that I sleep in a full four years before I was born...well, I don't know about him.  Hopefully he's moved on by now into another life.

I asked Hal if he'd heard anything and he slowly let out a "yes." I think he's probably a little freaked out like I am.  He thinks something is also messing with the cabinet doors in the kitchen.  I don't know about that.  But I do hear the steps.  Loud and clear and absolutely out of this world.  Maybe when we move back to our own house, my grandmother's spirit will follow us there.  I think I'd like that.  :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Do you know a child in danger?

My Thursday-Friday back to back 12-hour shifts in the ER are like a one-two punch in the noggin for me.  It knocks me out for a while but when I wake up I feel alright.  I just returned home from a couple of whirlwind days that began right as I awoke from my post-shift slumber Saturday afternoon.  It all began with a kiddo birthday party that my child was invited to, then straight to the Great Southern Stampede Rodeo, and then straight into a late-night drive to Warner Robins where my mother-in-law lives.  Once there I can commence my vegetative state that I often slink into upon arrival because it's very quiet, the focus is absolutely not on me, and I can sleep uninterrupted.  So tonight I'm rather fresh and while not necessarily inspired, I do have something on my mind.

In the last few days, several headlines on have bothered me. 

'Pediatrician faces more sex charges'
'Sex-offender admits killing teens'
'Haleigh's dad told to make funeral plans'
'Man admits to killing [his] family'
'Toddler beaten so badly that intestines had to be removed'

Believe me, this is just a sampling.  As you all know, I'm a mother of a perfectly happy, healthy 5 year old little girl.  From the moment she was born I've been taking care of her.  I've dealt with stinky diapers, colicky crying spells, repeated ear infections, a totally messy house due to toy take-overs, constant talking slash singing, and now, bouts of arguing for independence and games of 100 questions.  There have been days when I come home in the middle of the night after working 12 hours and she pops out of bed and wants to play.  There have been days when she wouldn't take a nap or wouldn't go to bed before midnight.  I've lost amazing amounts of alone time with my husband, and I've stayed up at night worried about how I can possibly mother this child for the rest of my life.  I worry about the boys she'll date, about the clothes she'll have to have, about the grades she'll get, and about whether her preset mode of happy will change during those moody teenage years.  I worry that she won't want to talk to me or that she'll cry under her covers at night when someone breaks her heart.  I have worried about how to make her life the best it can be from the moment I saw those two pink lines on the stick.  I'd barely pulled my pants up and flushed the toilet when they shined like a beacon at me, professing my upcoming motherhood.  This child I have has completely changed my life.  In a good way, despite the bad days.  I have never not-wanted her.  Oh sure, I joke with her about how I'm going to inflict bodily harm if she doesn't do what I'm telling her to do.  I have also popped her a few times.  I've lost my temper and yelled at her - but I have also always come back to apologize to her and tell her I shouldn't have shouted like that.  I'm human, and I make mistakes.  But I cannot, for the life of me, understand how any human being can really *harm* or kill a child.  I also cannot understand how anyone could turn a blind eye to a child who is suffering through abuse.

Every parent out there understands how easy it is to lose your temper.  You've worked all day, they won't do what you're telling them to do.  They refuse to potty-train, eat their vegetables (or anything at all for that matter), they won't pick up their toys, they've colored on the freshly-painted wall (again), they won't stop picking on little brother or sister, they've gotten bad grades at school.  Kids have a zillion ways to get into trouble.  And parents have a zillion things to worry about besides the misbehaving kid.  This sometimes, obviously, fuels disaster.

There is absolutely no reason to hurt a child in any way, whatsoever.  I'm not saying that discipline is bad - I'm saying that children shouldn't be neglected, beaten, raped, sold, martyred, starved, or killed - ever.   And I know that you all agree.  Most of the time all it takes for a parent who is struggling is simply someone to listen, a few basic parenting tips, or maybe an anger management class.  Sometimes people who have children simply cannot take good care of them and despite intervention the children need to be placed with another family member or a foster family.

If you know of anyone who is struggling, please refer them to the Georgia Parents Helpline at 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373) or  If you think you know of a child in an abusive situation, please call your local DFCS office or call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD ( 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lose the stuff, material girl.

That's my little girl, beaming unsolicited, because a caterpillar was crawling on her hand.  Have you ever noticed that it doesn't take much to make a kid happy?  I was actually kind of surprised by this when Sarah was a little bitty thing, crawling around getting into things and being constantly amazed by all that she came into contact with.  I remember her first real Christmas, when she was a little over one year, that she cared much more about the wrapping paper and the bows than the toy inside the boxes.  She had no qualms about wearing anything I decided to put on her.  To this day, at almost 6, she's not picky about what she wears though she loves dresses.  She plays with anything.  Bubble wrap, crayons, figurines, un-sharpened pencils, pots and pans.  She likes her toys, but she's largely not a materialistic girl.  This begs the question: at what point in our lives do we begin to long for things most of us cannot afford? Why do I want an Airstream camper and a cool SUV to pull it?  I could settle for a cheaper one, or just use the tent I already have...but for some reason I'd like to have the nicest camper made.  And why do I have to have an iPhone with it's expensive data plan?  Why do I look at the Tiffany & Co. website late at night to see what's new?  Why do I, and most of us, feel the need to keep up with the uber-rich fictional Jones' that my grandmother used to talk about?  The thing is, I'm actually *not* that material, because when I grew up, we had virtually nothing.  I didn't have nice clothes to wear, a nice car to ride in, a horse in a pasture or lavish birthday parties.  My father did the best he could as a single parent (at times working three jobs) and my grandmother kept us fed with the basics and the huge vegetable crop we worked on every year...ruining last year's shoes in the Georgia red mud.  In 1985, when I was 10 years old and Madonna was crooning about being a Material Girl, I was helping my father pick up dead chickens on our chicken farm.  And the more I was around the "haves" at school, I realized quite certainly that I was a "have-not." So my expectation for Sarah as she grows up and goes to school is that she'll learn to want more and more when she sees other kids with other things that she doesn't have.  Already, the television commercials she watches tell her that she needs the coolest new toys or the hottest action figures, the doll with the dress that changes colors, or the waxy stringy Bendaroos.  She's begun to want to be like the rest of her classmates - and she's only in pre-school.  But that's not how she came out.  She came out simply happy to be alive.  Happy to look at the blinky lights on our first Christmas tree, or happy to hold a simple burp cloth and fling it around in her hands.

Look around.  Look at all the Stuff you have.  And even though we've shed a lot of our own stuff as we've moved around the country, Hal and I still have BOXES of Stuff that is sitting in an extra bedroom not being used at all.

Americans work more hours than people in any other industrialized nation and the two main things we do in our off time is watch television and shop.  We go to work, come home, watch television and hear about all the things we need via the never-ending barrage of commercials and then we drag our butts off the sofa and go out to buy them, creating more debt, which we then have to work more hours to pay for.  It's a cycle.   I think if I stood on any street corner and asked people if they'd like to be out of debt, most would shout a resounding "YES!" but there we are in the stores, buying another sweater, another pair of shoes, a new television, more toys for our kids who have too many toys already - you get the point.

Even though I've been fully indoctrinated in this American consumer, materialistic-must-have-society, I'm going to focus on trying to not have so much again.  If I buy something new, I'm going to try to get rid of the thing I have replaced responsibly.  I'm going to donate clothes I can't wear anymore to people in other nations who are lucky if they have shoes on their feet to walk the three miles to get clean water every day.  I'm going to try to buy only things that have been made with some inkling of responsibility for our planet in mind.  I'm going to see if I can teach my daughter as she grows that it's okay not to always have the latest, greatest thing that advertisers are telling her she needs.

This is just a tiny start.  But it's something.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

RIP to Hal's sleek black friend.

On Monday, my dear husband dropped his iPhone 3G in the toilet.  Of course, he was all in a panic so he woke me up from my day slumber to tell me this.  This is the third time he's jarred me awake to give me terrible news - once before it was when he didn't get "the" job - and the time before that I thankfully can't remember.  The water was clean he said - but he was still frantically drying it off, pushing buttons on the white flickering screen.  Nothing happened.  I took one look at the phone and gave it its last rites.  It's dead I tell him, and follow the call to the toilet that I get after waking up so suddenly.  After I flush, I walk out and Hal is pacing around the house trying to figure out how to save his beloved friend - his pocket companion since last year.  This little dead iPhone is actually his second.  The first he dropped on the ceramic floor of our bathroom in Maryland and busted the screen but fortunately the great guys at the Apple store there just gave him a new one, no questions asked.  But everyone knows they're not going to give you a new one when you drop yours in the toilet.  He called Apple, relayed every detail of his sad tale of woe, and they very affectionately said "we're so sorry." Then he called AT&T who offered to upgrade him right away to the 3GS for a nice price of $199, which we don't have.  The whole time, he's trying to figure out how to save it.  I keep reminding him, "honey, I'm pretty sure it's dead."  "I was trying to catch it - I saw it falling," he said to me as his voice almost cracked.  Poor guy.  Part of me wanted to call him a dumb ass and part of me wanted to hug him and cry with him, offer to have a ceremony for his sleek electronic friend.  Just when he'd started using Facebook too.

We make the trek to the AT&T store, and I'm silently cursing under my breath - this is not how I wanted to spend my afternoon.  We get him the cheapest little Go Phone made by Nokia and now I'm going to save $30 per month because I no longer have to pay for his iPhone data plan.

When we arrive home, Hal is still devoted to the idea of saving the phone.  We research this problem on the internet, typing in the Google search bar "iphone dropped in toilet" and get all sorts of tutorials on how to revive the little guy.  So we bury him in a Tupperware bowl full of dry white rice and proceed to just wait it out.  A few days later, when I'm up at night all alone, I realize that the phone is still in the rice.  I get it out, put my SIM card in it and try to power it up.  I tell myself that if the thing comes on, I'm waking his ass up - even if it's four in the morning.  But alas, it doesn't do anything despite me pushing the power button.  In an instant I move on, and being the money-grubbing entrepreneur I am, I decide that perhaps I can make back the $30 I spent for his Go Phone by selling the water-logged iPhone on Ebay for parts.  The screen is perfect right?  Somebody out there has a cracked screen and a hair of ingenuity so I figure he'll want to fix his own iPhone.  I turn on the lights, take a picture of the phone (sans all the rice) and list it on Ebay with a starting price of 99 cents.  A few hours later a guy offers me ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS for the thing!  I change the list price, he bids, and I end the auction early.  Unbelievable!  I feel kind of slithery inside because Hal's sorrowful misfortune has now saved me thirty bucks a month and made me a hundred extra dollars and I can't help but smile and laugh out loud.  A hundred bucks I squeal!

I've got a nice piece of woods and a dumpy little house connected to a swamp.  You interested?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lessons from the emergency room.

I have so much on my mind tonight - after sleeping for most of the day, I'm having a hard time connecting the dots in my mind.  Last night's shift in the ER was slow, steady, smooth, except for a couple of blips on the radar.  I'm recalling a lot of blips from my time there so far - and I have a few things to share.  When you see the sorts of things I and my coworkers see on a daily basis, you either get a real sick sense of humor, or you learn things about people and life that you never thought you would - you gain insights that you never knew you could see.  Many of us do both.  This is a short list of some of the things I've learned or as Oprah would say, things I know for sure.
  • Whatever divide there is in your family, close it up.  There's nothing quite so final as death, and death can come at any given moment for any one of us - seriously - so if you've done or said something along the way or even if someone you love did or said something horrible to you, now's the time to forgive and try to move forward.  You cannot do that indefinitely.  Do it while you can.  I've seen several people cry and wail and scream because things didn't end right with them and the person lying on the gurney.  That's a horrible scenario that can be avoided if you can get past the small stuff.  Decide what's more important -  your love for that person and what they once meant to you, or the thing that's wedged between you. 
  • Drugs are bad.  Very, very bad.  Drugs destroy individuals, families, societies.  They cost a lot of money and you'll wind up losing everything that's important to you, if anything is.  There are folks out there that literally have nothing left in their life - no one who will have anything to do with them anymore - no house, no money, no car, no job, no nothing - not even their own teeth, and their free fall started with drugs.  I realize this is simplistic, but seriously - stay away from drugs of any kind.  
  • Suicide is never an answer.  Even if your life sucks, having your body autopsied and shoved in a casket will suck worse.  Most importantly please realize that life can usually get a lot better for you if you only realize that you're in control.  If you can control things enough to pull the trigger or to take a handful of pills, then you can control it enough to dial the U.S. National Suicide prevention help line, 1-800-273-8255.  But should you decide to take your own life anyway, please do not call your family first to tell them what you are about to do.  That is THE most selfish thing you could ever do, even more so than killing yourself.  Think about the people you will leave behind and what they have to live with. 
  • If you feel funny, off, sick, or just not "yourself" lately, please make an appointment with your doctor and get yourself checked out.  Do not ignore the warning signs of an impending heart attack or stroke, like left sided chest pain that radiates down the arm or into your jaw or super high blood pressure.  If you have a lump in your breast or a funny looking mole, please call your doctor.  So many people wait until the last minute, until it's way too late to do anything other than give you a couple of radiation treatments and some morphine - or until you've had a heart attack and die or you've had a stroke and your quality of life is now forever changed.  Don't wait.  That feeling in your gut that's telling you that something isn't quite right - listen to it, that's your survival instinct talking to you.  Don't put that burden of "making" you go to the doctor on your family.  Be a grown up and do it yourself.  
  • Stop smoking now.  I don't care if you've smoked for 20 years, stop now.  Have you ever seen the fear in a person's eyes when they can't breathe?  Can you imagine having a pillow over your face and smothering to death?  Seriously, there are lots of ways out there to quit.  And, think of all the money you'll save.  Smoking causes cancer and people DIE from smoking every single day - close to 1,200 every day in the U.S.  
  • Get an education.  The more you know, the better your life has the chance to be.  You're much less likely to die in a knife-fight, or go to prison, and you'll be able to depend on yourself for facts and information that can make or break you.  Stupidity does not pay.  Find a meaningful way to spend your time on the planet.  Finish high school and go to college if you can.  
My rant for the night.  Leave comments if you agree, disagree, or have sumthin' to say!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Answering the happiness questions of Ariel Gore.
Bluebird is the second of Ariel Gore's books I've read.  She was the one who convinced me that I wanted to be a famous writer via How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead.  Bluebird takes a totally different route by exploring what happiness to a woman really means.  In the book, she poses seven questions which I've decided to try to answer.  I'm not sure why.  Just an exercise in futility or self-exploration?  I guess so, but I haven't thought about what truly makes me happy in a while now - here are my answers.  What would your answers be?

1. How heavily do you weigh your own happiness when making life decisions?
  • Before I had Sarah I guess I did things to make me happy, but that was something that had to happen gradually - my family used a lot of guilt to manipulate each other into doing things the others wanted, and as much as I love my grandmother, she was very good at guilting me.  After therapy, when I moved beyond some of that, I still find that I have to give myself an ego boost from time to time to remind myself that what I want does matter - that it's okay for me to smile, be not-so-serious all the time, find value in playing.  Sarah has taught me that.  For now, I find that I put her first, but with the knowledge that if I get too miserable, she'll be unhappy too - so I have to find time to take care of myself.
2. What could make you happier?
  •   More money in my bank account, not living way out here in the country, but rather, being back in my little house that I picked out 5 years ago.  This will happen in a few months, but it would certainly be great now.  Also, I'd be happier if my husband had a job.  His seemingly endless unemployment is making all of us stressed out and irritable.  It's hard to have hope sometimes.  One other thing that would really pump me up is if this blog totally took off!  Or if I achieved my dream of publishing a book.
3. What is your fondest memory?
  • I shouldn't have to think so hard about this one.  Maybe it was helping my grandmother shell peas when I was very little and mostly in her way - maybe it was the first time I saw Sarah open her eyes, maybe it was my grandmother making ice cream out of freshly fallen snow? Maybe it was the moment I realized that my college education would be completely paid for?  Maybe it was getting married to the man I love in Jamaica? Maybe it was getting my Master's degree or moving into my new home?  Or maybe it was riding back from Six Flags one summer with all my cousins in the back of my daddy's truck exhausted, happy, and singing at the tops of our voices, "Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog" - hard question!
4. Do you think you're happier or less happy than your mother was at your age?
  • I didn't know my mother when she was my age, but considering the life path she chose, I'd say I'm happier, despite all the things that contribute to my daily angst.  Today, even though we are attempting to have some semblance of a relationship, she admits she's miserable.  I'm much more in control of my life path than she ever was.
5. What's the best thing that happened yesterday?
  • Yesterday was Easter.  Even though I'd rather have jumped in the car for a day-trip to the beach, I sucked it up and went to church with my family partly because of, you guessed it, guilt - and partly because Sarah wanted to participate in the big Easter Egg Hunt.  But afterward, the best moment of the day came when she was running around the yard with her pretty dress and shoes on blowing bubbles in the wind.  She was so happy - and her sheer innocent happiness has always been able to project itself right into my heart.
6. When was the last time you felt inspired?
  • I'm not sure.  I was definitely inspired three years ago when I hammered out a manuscript in a little over a month, but that inspiration was borne out of utter despair, so I'm not sure that counts.  Lately I've been inspired while reading books and articles on life, how to write, issues our country is facing, and even while writing my blog.  Sometimes my co-workers in the ER inspire me - the way they hunker down and push through the sometimes impossible situations that can happen where we work.
7. Are you happier than you were this time last year?
  • Absolutely.  I listened to my heart when I chose to quit Student Affairs and do what I'd learned to love in the ER.  It was a big deal to move to Maryland just to survive, prove something to myself.  It was an even bigger deal to figure out a way to honor the way my life's passion had changed by being true to what I needed to do rather than what seemed logical at the time.  You can make a career out of anything, almost anywhere, but happiness isn't sold on every doorstep.  Most people didn't understand me moving back to Georgia - but I'm definitely better off for having done just that. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Eggs, eggs, everywhere!

First there was the Easter Egg Hunt at her school. Since she had a basket full of eggs, we then had multiple "egg hunts" around the house. There were eggs between the couch cushions, eggs on my desk, eggs in the bed, on the bookshelf, under the table. She would hide them, then find most of them, then hide them again and make us find them. Today was no different. The church had an Easter Egg Hunt and Sarah brought home all sorts of eggs: multi-colored, pastel, clear, glitter, even eggs with fluffy hair were sent to her from Aunt Kim in Florida.  So we had to hide eggs, find them, and hide them again.  Sarah wanted to hide some, and when she did she jumped around like the Easter Bunny.  One of the hazards of hiding eggs around outside is that there may be one or two that never get found!  At least back when I was young, we had good old hard-boiled eggs that we'd carefully decorated by dipping them in dye.  Granny never let me down on the Easter egg decorating - we had plenty of eggs and decorating supplies every year, and right here in this yard is where most of my eggs hunts were as a child.  Leaving one of those real eggs out in the wilderness wasn't so bad - it could biodegrade on its own.  Or maybe a possum would find it and thank her lucky stars.  But now that plastic has taken over the world, I wonder how many plastic eggs will be left out there today having never been found?  I know of at least one!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mooove it!

I lost the perfect opportunity for a great photograph today. Didn't have my camera! It would have been so cool. Let me set this up for you: Right now we're living out the country - I mean way out where nothing else is except cows and chickens, a few houses, and a whole bunch of trees. So many trees, in fact, that my cell phone doesn't have a signal! Anyway, one of the things I liked about living in the suburbs for the last 16 years is the way I could just take a walk. You know...just take a walk on the sidewalk, wave to the neighbors, hey how ya doin' - the whole deal. Get a little workout, socialize, walk the animals. Great fun.
It took me nearly six months to remember that when I was a child, I used to take walks out here too even without a sidewalk or streetlights. There's a creek that runs alongside my grandmother's property and it's just a short walk down the road. The woods are too thick to take that route. So in the last week or so, I've started taking Sarah out for little walks down the hill to the creek and then up the hill along the pasture where our neighbor (a third cousin) owns a whole bunch of cows. It's a gigantic pasture that spans both sides of the road after the trees end. There are gates right across the street from each other that allow my cousin to let the cows walk back and forth between pastures so they can graze on fresh grass every couple of weeks. So today, as we were walking up the street, one of the mama cows spotted us just as we were crossing over the creek and started mooing at us. I didn't know or remember all the stuff about the gates connecting the pastures, so I looked down at Sarah and said, "see, that cow's saying hello to us!" Sure enough, a few more cows close to her took the lead and started watching us and mooing too! Before long, they started following us as we walked up the hill on the roadside, just a few yards away in their pasture. By the time we topped the hill, the whole herd was right there mooing at us! We walked a little further and they very excitedly walked too, some of them ran! It was so weird. Then I noticed that they'd all bunched up right there in front of that gate - staring and mooing at us. It was so funny. Just a bunch of cows mooing all at once and looking right at us. There must have been 30 or 40 cows! Some of them were babies too - with their cute little baby cow faces. That's when it hit me. Where's my camera? Oh what a cool shot that would have been! Just then the cousin drives up with his truck and I quite stupidly ask him why they are all staring at me and mooing that way. "Oh yeah, he says, they wanna go over to the other side to get that fresh grass! I'm gonna move them over in a couple of days." We stand and talk for a minute - I have not seen this man since I was a child living at home.
Later, we go out to run an errand, and what do you think is in the middle of the road at the top of the hill? All those cows crossing over to the other pasture. Apparently they decided they weren't going to give up the mooing and just stood right there until their owner started feeling sorry for them and let them on over where the new grass was. So the grass is greener on the other side! Just ask the cows!

Monday, March 29, 2010

What does happiness mean?

I'm about 55 pages into this new book I bought the other night, Bluebird, by Ariel Gore. It's a non-fiction book of course - that's mostly what I tend to read because I'm so in the here and now, so concrete. My brain simply cannot process fantasy or science fiction. I rarely watch television, although I've started watching Kirstie Alley's Big Life on A&E on Sunday nights. Great show for anyone who has ever struggled with losing weight!

Anyway, this book about happiness has me wondering how I define happiness as a woman? Is it 2.5 great kids, a cat and a dog, a great big house with nice furniture? Is it working full time or being a stay at home mother? Is it having a fat bank account or just having enough to meet basic needs? Is it a 100% thrillingly satisfying marriage or just moments along the way that are thrilling? Is it having a close knit family or being able to get away and be free from family ties? Is it helping others or having others serve you? Is it being single with no kids?

What does happiness mean to you? If you don't mind, leave a comment below and let's start a conversation!


Wow! I just read this month's issue of Oprah magazine cover to cover! Dang! When have I ever devoured a magazine like that? Get it if you dare. It's good. And I don't yet subscribe! And I'm not making money off this! I liked every single article. Part of me wishes I could write for magazines like that. Whatever...I really enjoyed reading this one.

Life in slow motion.

I'm rather sick of being sick. I've had four straight days off and all I've done is lay around, sleep, and whine - well I did make one trip to the bookstore...since reading books doesn't require much physical exertion. I picked up two hopefully good books: Bluebird and The Story of Stuff. And I bought the latest Oprah magazine. Should be enough reading material. Thinking about renting another movie via iTunes - so simple. I don't have to go to the video store, and I won't lose the video or forget to take it back because it spontaneously deconstructs all by itself! We watched The Blindside, and even my 5 year old liked it! She didn't quite understand why "it went away" after the 24 hour time period expired. How do you explain the whole idea of something deleting itself to a 5 year old? It went like this:

S: Mommy, I wanna watch the Big Mike movie again.
Me: It's gone honey.
S: Mommy! Just let me show you! (grabs at my iPhone)
Me: (handing it to her) Sweetie the movie isn't on there anymore.
S: Where is it?
Me: It disappeared.
S: Why?
Me: (looking at the ceiling trying to figure out an answer) Because it just did. We finished watching it so it's gone.
S: Mommy, I didn't finish it! (her little cheeks are red from frustration)
Me: Um, well. Sorry.
S: Mommy can we get it again? On your phone?
Me: I really don't want to buy it, that's why I rented it.
S: What's rented?

You see that? I think this flu is affecting my brain. Now it's going to affect her brain because I can't answer all of her one thousand questions in a day. I distinctly remember my ex-step-mother making me write the word "why?" a hundred times one day when I was 6 because I absolutely would not stop asking, Why? Good to know my daughter fell off the same wagon - but how oh so annoying. Raising Sarah has proven to be one of the most fun, terrifying, tiring, expensive, sweet, memorable, wonderful, fattening, prideful, and worrisome things I've ever done. I love that child, but some days I just don't know what to do with her. I say this on the eve of her Spring Break week. Must think of something fun and tiring for her to do tomorrow. Must drag myself out of this house.

In a conversation with psychic Carla Baron when I was trying to decide whether or not to return to Georgia last year, she perfectly described my job in the ER. You'll have to think fast on your feet, it's really stressful, you won't get much sleep she professed. Perhaps she was talking about my life as a mother? :)
Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness

Friday, March 26, 2010

Twitter dee, twitter dum.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Breach, starring Ryan Phillippe. He has a Twitter account and I've been able to say a few words to him that way - and he's replied. This is why Twitter is so darn cool. It is a great way for celebrities to keep in touch with their fan base without the negativity of paparazzi. It also can be a 2 way conversation if they want it to be and they can promote, like all of us, their new favorite things. Messages are limited to 140 characters so it's challenging for those of us who are wordy, like myself! Twitter is pretty darn awesome - wish I'd thought of it! If you're a non-believer, give it a try. It's really easy and free. It's not as personal as Facebook, and basically is just like the "status update" portion of Facebook. Sign up for an account at and get started. You can "follow" people and they in turn can follow you. When you log in you'll see a "feed" of what everyone's saying (just those you follow). You'll also see a list of topics that are "trending." That basically means these are the topics that everyone is discussing worldwide. It's pretty fun. Let me know if you get started and I'll follow you. :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not my day.

Today has just not been my day. I'll give you some history. Exactly one week ago, I woke up one night to discover a scratchy throat and a slight fever - this situation rapidly turned into the flu - a new strain! I'm exposed to just about every infectious disease known to man in the ER where I work; however I always expect my own personal immune system to defeat those germs like bands of little green army men. So all weekend, when I had three straight days off, I basically laid around and did nothing since I felt so cruddy. Then I worked two twelve hour shifts in a row Tuesday and Wednesday night - not so much patient drama, thank goodness, but still long hours and little sleep. This morning, instead of sleeping in until 2, I had to report to traffic court. I say 'had to' but I could have just paid the fine for my school zone speeding ticket. If you know me, then you know I cannot just accept this $200 insult to my already meager financial situation! So I go to traffic court at the municipal court in Athens-Clarke county. There I'm greeted by about 200 or so other various members of the public who are also carrying their little crumpled tickets. Some of them are afraid, some of them are annoyed, all of us are impatient. I get there early because one of the police officers I interrogated in the ER one night about how I should proceed with this situation said I should. Did not help. The judge was late so we got started late, but a mere two and a half hours later I was done.

You see, the unfairness of my particular ticket is that I got it in a school zone, but I feel that the school zone is not marked well at all. There are three 55 mph signs on the side of the road, all in a row in about a three mile stretch of road. Then all of a sudden there's a tiny 45 mph sign with two small flashing lights hung from a line stretched over the road. Not where you're used to looking for the signs right? And there are no warning signs for the impending school zone either. Add the sun in my eyes and my visor down and you get recipe for destruction! I did not see that sign!

We sit in the courtroom and I am shushed twice by the deputy for talking - one other lady gets in trouble for reading a book: "there's no reading in the courtroom ma'am!" We are herded in like cattle, then herded back out. There are deputies working the line shouting, "does anybody want to just go ahead and pay their fine now?" This can get you a spot in the front of the line! Cell phones have to be turned off, lest you pay an additional $25 fine. So we are all sitting/standing there in various stages of deep thought, panic, and boredom. Everybody has that defeated look. Just shoot me, we'd say if we could. After an hour and a half of waiting, I get to the front of the line where another lady in a business suit tries to talk me out of taking this matter any further by telling me that the solicitor won't do anything to help me because my ticket is in a school zone. My grandmother always said I was rather "bull-headed" and I display this trait perfectly today by politely insisting that I would still like to speak with the solicitor. I am told to go back into the courtroom and sit. A few minutes later I realize that they are now printing off my driving history to give to the solicitor. A few seconds of horrible thoughts flash through my mind: when was my last speeding ticket? Will all of my Warnings be listed? I imagine myself as a dead duck with $200 cash splayed out in my hand for anyone to take. No! I shake it off. Even with the flu, I'm gonna push forward, undeterred. Finally the small woman in a suit who is the solicitor calls my name, pulls me out into the hall because she says, "I don't normally reduce these fines so I don't want anyone to hear us talking." She's actually quite nice. I plead my case in my weak, congested voice - tell her I didn't see the sign - tell her I actually shot video of me driving that stretch of road again but the cops at the courthouse entrance wouldn't allow me to bring the camera in. (I think about telling her that I'm blind in the eye on top of my head.) But I don't have to; she seems sympathetic. I mention taking my child to a play date that day; going the different road that I'd not taken in a while. I know the mention of a child will stir her - I've already heard her mention her kids. She knows that stretch of road and feels my pain. She lowers my speed so that I won't have any points on my license and she lowers the fine by $50. For a quick second I consider a jury trial, but she's being so nice that I take the deal. I am escorted to the cashier and I pay my fine and leave. Thankfully when I got back out to the car I didn't have a parking ticket even though the meter was expired! I go home not feeling victorious but not feeling quite so stepped on either. These speeding tickets are a CASH COW for the county. I'd love to know how many millions of dollars they take in every year.

I get home, crash in bed and sleep. Hal and Sarah arrive home from school and the doctor's office (yea, medicine!). Sarah is so excited to see me that she wants to jump in my arms. We usually say 1-2-3 and on 3 she jumps and I pick her up and we exchange those sloppy all over the face kisses that mommies and daughters do. But today she was so excited she did not wait for the count of three and jumped the top of her head right into my bottom lip. So I'm out money for the ticket, money for the medicine and doctor's visit, and I have a busted, bloody sore lip to boot. At least I have the next six days off.