Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jared: Chapter 1

Warning: This is a REALLY long post!

* This is something I've been working on for over a year now. It was something I started for NaNoWriMo and never finished. I think it's too big for me right now, but I have faith that this character has more flesh than I can give him right now.*

Chapter 1

The trees whipped by so fast that it was hard to focus on them individually. Instead, Jared let his eyes go unfocused and took them as one large object. The wall of leaves and dappled sunlight periodically made him blink . The ride home from school was a time for him to daydream. It was usually uninterrupted as well because no one talked to Jared. Ever. He would sit and think about the characters in the books he read, of which there were many because of his solitary status. He never had to defend his right to sit alone because no one ever tried to sit with him.

Sometimes he would try to imagine himself away from this place. Grown-up, working, married, a father. The pictures in his head were always in shadow because he really couldn’t imagine ever being free of this life. During this time he could always hear a snatch or two of conversation from the other kids on the bus. So-and-so likes Billy Epps, did you hear what Crystal said to Diane, blah, blah, blah. These people were the losers, in Jared’s mind, not him. He would never admit to himself that he envied them. What he wouldn’t give to be the one who had not a care in the world, that he might ever have a reason to gossip about someone else’s life. That was something he would never consciously think, much less say out loud.

The bus turned onto Phelps Lane and Jared’s stomach did a flip-flop. This happened every day too. In about two minutes the bus would be in front of his house and he would have to get off. “I hate my life so much”, Jared thought to himself. Technically, what he hated wasn’t his life as much as it was the way people tended to act. One day…just one day… he wished that he could be invisible. That he could get up, unnoticed, and get off the bus without having to listen to them. Without having to hate them and himself.

The yellow school bus pulled to a stop in front of a dilapidated house that had been built at least 50 or 60 years ago and had not ever been maintained. It kind of leaned to one side because of the settling and not having anyone to love it and take care of it. The paint, which used to be white but was now dirty enough to be sort of a brown color, was chipped off in large portions and fading. A couple squares of blue tarp were nailed to the roof from leaks that never really got fixed. The screen door didn’t have a screen in it anymore. The yard was more dirt than grass. It reminded Jared of a chicken yard. He sometimes thought that if they had chickens then maybe that might give the yard permission to look so bleak and barren. However, no chickens were to be found in this yard, therefore no real reason for the yard’s appearance, other than the fact that it was as old as the house and maybe just as tired.

Ruby, the bus driver, opened the bi-fold doors and looked up into the large mirror over her head expectantly. Her oversized sunglasses falling down on her nose forced her to wrinkle her face in an effort to keep them up. Jared breathed in a quick breath that he knew he wouldn’t exhale until the bus was safely out of sight again. He grabbed his pack and rose up to exit. Immediately the whispers and snickers started. “Doesn’t it ever get old?”, he wondered to himself. Every school day - from kindergarten to middle school - this had happened. Is the poor, quiet, “weird” kid really that much of a novelty that it had to happen every day? Really? Every day? Jared made it a point not to ever react. Never give them the satisfaction. Pretend you don’t hear them. He could hear these things in his mother’s voice even though she had never actually said them to him. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t say these reassuring and protective things to him, it was because he had never discussed this part of his day with anyone, not even her. He knew it would only cause her worry.

He made it to the front of the bus easily enough. People pulled in their arms and legs and even straggling backpacks and sweaters to keep him from touching them, as if poverty or personality were things you could “catch”, like chicken pox or lice. As a matter of fact, Jared had caught lice once. It had happened in the third grade and most of the school had caught it too, but someone had decided that Jared must have had it first. People still gave a wide berth to him five years later.

Like his house and his yard, he looked poor therefore he was dirty and contagious. Jared kept his eyes down, not looking at anyone’s face. He got to the bus driver and she tried to catch his eye and smile. She did this every day. He really did appreciate her kindness but he wished so much that she would stop. The less attention towards him the better. It gave the mob less ammunition. She had offered many times to give him the seat at the front so that he could just jump off at his stop. He had declined it because somehow he knew that this too would become fodder for the others.

He exited the idling bus and the doors closed behind him. Jared was still holding his breath. Just as Ruby started to pull away he heard it. A window went down, a dull “thwack” and laughter. He had just received a spit ball to the back of the head. “Hey!”, a boy’s voice yelled, “You forgot your food stamps!”. More laughter. Jared just kept walking. He didn’t even reach up to brush the damp ball of chewed up paper out of his hair because he knew that would add fuel to the fire. The laughter was joined by scolding as Ruby loudly admonished the students on the bus. They slowly accelerated away from the house. Jared exhaled.

Soon the only sounds around Jared were wind, insects and maybe the occasional bird call. His house sat back from the road, surrounded on all sides by a grass meadow, so that it was about a two minute walk. Jared made it his business to take at least five minutes. This was his favorite part of the day… if there really was a favorite. For five minutes of his day he was alone. No one to laugh or make fun, no one to tell him what to do, no one to disappoint. He looked around to make sure that he was indeed alone - to make sure that no one was out in the yard waiting on him. He shucked the hoodie off his back and tied it around his waist, adjusted the backpack on his shoulders and started walking slowly toward the house.

The sun was so bright and warm today. Not a single cloud blemished the late-May sky. It was that transparent blue color that Jared had come to associate with early summer. It was almost summer now too. He stopped walking and just stood in the middle of the dirt driveway. He closed his eyes and listened to the Earth speak. As the sun shone down on him, warming his hair, and the tall grass whispered delicately, he wished one more time that he would open his eyes to a different world. Different house, different town, different school, different Dad…same Mom though. She was the only thing in his life that was right. The only thing that was good.

Today was Thursday. One more day of 8th grade. Summer. It distressed Jared to think of it. Summers were supposed to be what kids dreamed of all year. What a deceiving concept. Every fall he would sit and listen to his classmates give their “What I Did This Summer” speeches. He usually made up a story just for that purpose. Not something fantastic because that might somehow backfire on him. Someone might ask his Mom how she enjoyed their summer vacation the next time they saw her in line at the store, expecting to hear all about Disney World or the beach, only to have his mom start lamenting the double shifts and foot blisters that her summer actually involved. He always kept it simple. “ I went to my Grandma’s house (lie) and learned how to milk cows (lie), then I learned how to use the tractor with my Grandpa (double lie because there was no Grandpa or tractor)”. It was boring enough for people to forget, but kept him out of trouble for not having completed the assignment.

Summers at Jared’s house were always the same. Mom worked while his father, Tommy, slept on the couch because he was nearly always unemployed. Jared read books or did chores and anything else that would keep him away from Tommy. That was it … that was what his summers were made of. Jared’s Mom, Danielle, was a waitress/short order cook at a truck stop on the Interstate. She was never home. It wasn’t personal. She made an effort at least to make sure that he knew that. It was just that someone had to work and Tommy had never gotten the hang of gainful employment.

As far back as Jared could remember Tommy had always been at home. Tommy had hurt his back several years ago doing a construction job and said that he was disabled. Because of the “disability”, Tommy, more often than not, preferred to lie down on the couch than sit up. Even after Danielle bought him that Lazy Boy for Father’s Day, he still lay on the couch. He said it helped the "pain". It wasn’t that Jared didn’t necessarily believe that his father was in pain, it’s just that Jared had never seen him take any medicine for it, or go to the doctor and he didn‘t receive any type of Disability Check that other disabled people seemed to be entitled to. In fact, the only thing that he had ever seen his dad do was watch TV, smoke more cigarettes than the ash tray could hold, and sleep. That pretty much summed up his whole life’s experience of what fathers do.

His mom was a different story all together. Danielle was the sun and moon and all the stars to her son. She was beautiful for one thing. She would never admit to it and might even argue against it, but she was the most beautiful person Jared had ever seen in real life or in pictures. The feature that made her beauty stand out the most wasn’t her long honey-colored hair or striking profile. It wasn’t her trim figure or her dancer’s legs. She possessed all those things, for sure, but these things alone would have made her just an ordinary beauty. What Danielle Marshall had that Jared had never seen in any other woman was an infuriating unawareness of her own presence. She did not think that anyone, ever, took notice of her.

Four years ago Jared had gotten a one line part in the class play about George Washington. He had hovered around the curtain before show time, peeking at the audience, to see if his Mom would make it in time. After several minutes, she had entered through the lunchroom door in the front near the stage. Jared saw the whole thing happen in slow motion, even though it couldn’t have taken more than 15 seconds. She walked her graceful walk as she searched for a seat as close to the front as she could find. Unaware as she always was, she did not notice the men who had certainly noticed her.

Six men immediately straightened up in their chairs, simultaneously inhaling stomachs and smiling. Also noticing her entrance was nearly every single woman in the room. They, however, were not smiling. His Mom, oblivious to the commotion, picked her seat, smoothed out her waitress’ uniform and waited patiently. Jared watched silently in awe of the whole thing, of the positive effect she had on men, on the negative effect she seemed to have on other women and how she didn’t even know it. He also felt something else, even though he was too young to recognize it, he felt an intense jealousy. A need to claim her as his mom, a need to defend her against those other women and protect her from those men who were still smiling goofily at her. Suddenly he wanted to go home. Skip the whole thing. But he knew that wouldn’t happen, so instead he filed this memory into a file marked “Review Later” and closed the peep whole in the curtain.

Ever since that night he had tried to notice things that happened when his mom was around. People’s reactions and facial expressions, the service or prices they got on things, etc. One thing was for sure. Danielle left people stunned everywhere she went. Jared wasn’t sure it was something that he would ever get used to. The older he got the more he noticed it and the less he liked it. It wasn’t something she was trying to do, so it wasn’t something she could control. He sort of saw her as the unwitting victim of her own beauty. Although there were times that she was the beneficiary of it, most times she wasn’t. It depended on the person’s perception of her. It was sad really.


As Jared walked, he picked a piece of tall grass from the side of the driveway and chewed on it. It never got mowed and in the height of summer it was so tall that it blocked most of the house from sight. As he chewed the torn end of the bitter grass he mentally prepared for his entrance to the house. It went pretty much the same way every day. Hear the television from the yard, enter the house, spend a couple minutes fetching things for Tommy, go to his room and lock his door, wait for Mom to come home.

This had been the routine as long as he could remember. It didn’t really bother him though, because he wanted to spend as little time as possible with Tommy. As far back as he could remember, Jared had always called his father by his first name. No one seemed to think it was odd. Maybe Tommy didn’t want to be called Dad, or maybe Jared had just taken to calling him Tommy because that’s what his Mom called him and no one had ever corrected it. It didn’t really matter to Jared either way because Tommy didn’t act like a Dad and he didn’t seem to want Jared to call him Dad…so why call him Dad? In fact, he hadn’t even noticed that it was odd until he was in upper elementary school. 4th grade at the earliest.

Jared raised his head as he entered the “chicken yard”. One thing caught his attention immediately that he hadn’t noticed when he got off the bus. He should have seen it sooner, but he had adopted the habit of walking with his head down. His mother’s car was home, the only car they owned … in the middle of the day … on a Monday afternoon. Danielle worked doubles at least 4 or 5 days a week. She was almost never home this early. The very next thing that he noticed was that he couldn’t hear the TV.

The house was quiet and Mom was home…something was wrong. For a split second Jared imagined a horrible scene and in the next second he was running - a full out sprint. For all he knew, with the way his Mom and Tommy fought, his mother’s life might depend on the speed of his legs. He took the concrete blocks that doubled as front steps in one leap. With the speed behind him he actually slammed into the door and had to back himself up so that he could open it. His mind was racing faster than his feet as he yanked the screen-less door open and screamed, “Mom!”. His breath tearing in and out of him in ragged gasps.


In his mind he could see her laying unconscious on the floor, Tommy stepping over her to go lay down on the couch again… or worse. The two of them had always had a violent relationship. Partly because of Tommy’s whiplash personality changes and partly because Danielle could only take so much. Part of the pattern of their life was that every few months his Mom would just break apart and direct all her anger and pent up resentment towards Tommy. The fights were usually loud and physically violent but short. They had both drawn blood in the past but no one had ever gone to the hospital, even though many times Danielle probably should have.

Multiple times she had gone to work with visible bruises and at least once a black eye that she feebly tried to cover up with make up and excuses about walking into a cabinet that no one believed. By the time Jared was 8 or 9 he knew more about his parents’ marriage than a child had a right to know because of all the screaming at night. He also knew all the signs of Battered Woman Syndrome only he didn’t know that was the name for it… the only name he knew for it was Mom. Now as he stood in his own front room, chest heaving and terrified, he could only picture what kind of vile thing had happened at this house while he was at school and was torn with regret that he had not been here this time, had not been here to protect her. He had not been here when she needed him.

“Mom!”, he screamed again after not getting a response the first time. He began scanning the front room for signs of struggle: overturned furniture, scattered papers, dumped ash tray, torn drapes or worse…blood …but found nothing out of place. He was hyperventilating and he knew it but he felt like he had no control over his own body at this point. He made a move toward the kitchen to start the search. For what? Her body? He didn’t know but that wasn’t going to stop him from tearing the house apart. Something was definitely wrong. As he turned to the left and entered the kitchen, he saw a cold cup of coffee on the table and one long ash, that used to be a cigarette, in the ashtray. It had obviously not been smoked but had been left alone to burn itself out. He turned in a complete circle, tears in his eyes, unable to inhale a breath and cried out, “MOM!!”.

Just then the door to the bathroom opened and through a cloud of steam stepped his Mom. Eyes wide, fully dressed but with hair up in a towel, she startled as she saw him standing there in such a frightened state. “Jared, baby, what’s wrong? You look like you’re scared to death!” His mom came forward with a worried look on her face and touched his shoulder. He just stared at her like he didn’t know her and then without warning his face crumpled and he burst into tears.

Great jagged sobs began to come from deep inside his chest. His knees went weak and he almost collapsed where he stood. “Jared!”, his mom cried as she directed her son to a chair at the kitchen table. By now he was almost as tall as her and she certainly wouldn’t be able to carry him if he collapsed on her, “Sit down sweetie. Sit here”, she said as she pulled out the nearest chair and led him to it. “What in the world is going on Son?”, she asked while she simultaneously steadied him with her hand and reached to the sink for a damp rag that lay draped over the sinks edge. She wiped his face with the dish rag and studied his expression as Jared tried to compose himself and was suddenly embarrassed to be seen crying in front of his mother. At 13 years old he, like most boys his age, fancied himself too old to cry anymore.

She sat down in the chair next to him and reached for his hand. He could see the worry in her eyes and felt at once stupid for causing such a commotion and yet so full of love for her and the concern he could plainly see on her face. She didn’t rush him or demand anything from him during the time it took him to calm down, she just gave freely what she had to give… her love and her time. He didn’t want to take too long and he knew she must think he was losing his mind. She didn’t think that though. She didn’t think anything really, except that something obviously was bothering him. She certainly didn’t think that a moment ago he was imagining her death at the hands of his own father. In her mind he wasn’t old enough to even really process the complexities of her marriage. She was wrong.

He drew in a slow breath, his hands shaking, and forced himself to concentrate on the cheap salt and pepper shakers that were centered on the kitchen table. They were shaped like a Dalmatian and a fire hydrant. He remembered when they’d gotten those. They had gone to a Firefighter’s Museum on a field trip in his second grade year. It had been one of the only trips that his Mom had ever been able to chaperone. They had picked the salt and pepper shakers out together at the tiny crowded gift shop, while she complained at the cost of cheap souvenirs.

“Mom, what are you doing home?”, was the best he could trust himself to say at the moment. She looked at him for a split second and deadpanned the response, “I live here.”. He smiled and laid his head down on the table, willing his heart to slow down. He gave a furtive laugh and mumbled into his arm, “I mean, you’re usually working.” She sighed a little sigh and ran her hand over his silky coffee-colored hair. “Baby, tell me what’s bothering you. Obviously something frightened you. I’ve never seen you fall apart that way.” Even though she couldn’t see him, Jared’s face colored a bright red. She bent down and whispered in his ear, “What? Are you too embarrassed to let your Mom see you cry?”. “I’m not embarrassed, Mom.”, came the muffled response. She sat back in her chair and smiled at her only son. “Sure you are… your ears are turning red.” He raised his head and looked at her. “Mom, I thought that something was wrong. You’re never home this time of day.”, he paused, “Where’s Tommy?” He looked around cautiously as he waited for her answer but noticed that her demeanor had turned cool and he could tell she would be defensive when she answered.

The subject of Tommy didn’t always go well between them. Sometimes they were equals in the struggle to live with him. A glance between them was like a silent agreement that they were in this together. Most times they didn’t even have to talk to communicate what the other might need at the moment: patience, courage, strength. But, there were other times. Times when they were not in it together. Jared hated those times. During those times it seemed like it made his Mom’s life easier to separate herself from him. It was always a last ditch effort, but he could never tell if it resulted from her wanting him to learn how to handle conflict himself or if it was as simple as her not having the energy or courage to stand up for both of them again. It was probably the later. Tommy wore her down so often, more often than he did Jared, that it made sense that she just couldn’t put up the fight all the time.

She took her hand off of his arm, turned her head and looked out the window. “Tommy left”, was all she said. It was silent in the kitchen while Jared waited for the rest of the story. She was squinting her eyes as if she were remembering a distant memory, not something that had happened just this morning. Jared waited out the silence. He knew that asking questions was going to irritate her more and probably cause her to abandon the whole subject. His mom had always been this way. She was more apt to share something if you pretended you were invisible. He supposed it was more like she were talking to herself, not opening herself up to you.. In fact, most of the “conversations” that Jared and his mother had shared, the ones that were meaningful to him anyway, weren’t even two-way discussions. It was him being silent and her letting the wall down momentarily to talk about herself. It did not happen often. It was directly because of this that Jared had learned the art of listening.

He sat patiently and waited a moment. After a second or two, her focus changed and she snapped back to the kitchen table and her son. She smiled a big, and Jared could tell, fake smile. She patted his arm again and rose from the table “Come to the bathroom with me. Come see what I’ve done!”, she said as she went back towards the bathroom she had just recently appeared from. Jared stood and walked to the bathroom door. It was the only visible doorway in the hallway from the kitchen. To the left of the bathroom was Danielle and Tommy’s room and to the right was his room. He leaned in the doorway, as the bathroom really was barely large enough for one person to turn a full circle. Tommy had called it the bath-closet.

Oh Lord”, Jared thought to himself. His mother sounded mischievous and Danielle rarely did or said anything remotely close to mischievous. When she did, it was usually memorable. As he was thinking this Danielle leaned all the way over to undo the towel on her head. She used the now damp towel to brusquely rub the remaining moisture from her hair. When she stood she flipped her hair dramatically revealing a startlingly bright red color. “Oh my goodness! Wow!”, she laughed as she stared at her reflection. “I guess they really meant ‘Shimmering Copper’ didn’t they?” She turned to look at Jared to get his response but she found him to be without. He stood in the doorway, jaw slack, and gaped at her. The thought ran through his mind that he might be witnessing his own mother’s nervous breakdown. He didn’t really know what that might involve but he had heard of it on TV and in books and it certainly might account for her behavior right now.

“Sweetheart, breathe. It’s not that big a deal. It’s just hair color.” She continued to look for a response when suddenly and without permission from his brain, Jared’s mouth blurted, “Did Tommy leave because you colored your hair??” His mother burst out in the largest laugh he had ever heard come from her mouth and she literally had to sit on the toilet to recover. She howled as tears started to form at the corners of her eyes and run down her face. She was still bent in laughter when she said, “Baby, if that would have done it, I would’ve dyed my hair years ago!!”. She bent over again in a spasm of renewed laughter. Momentarily she recovered from the fit of humor. Drying her eyes and gasping for air, she stood up. “Whew! Jared, honey, you really are funnier than I thought.”

He continued to look at her expectantly. “Are you going to tell me?”, he asked of her. “ Well, ugh, I was hoping for a different reaction”, she pouted as she continued to towel dry her hair. He just stood there. He knew that if he stood there long enough, looking at her but not talking to her, eventually she would get irritated enough to talk. She inspected her new color thoroughly, wiped the sink, counter and mirror with her towel, then hung it up over the shower curtain rod before turning her attention to her son. “Geez! You’re such a wet blanket, Jared. I was so excited about my hair … you just had to pop my balloon didn’t you?” She stood in front of him with one fist on her hip.

He waited a beat then smirked and she put her hand on his face and pushed to turn his head to one side as if to say, ‘Go away‘. He looked back at her still smirking and she laughed. “Bucket Head”, she said. “Bean Brain”, he answered. “Smarty-pants”, she returned. “Jelly Belly”, came his return. She scoffed. “Are you calling me fat???”, she accused in a mock-shocked tone. He grinned a wide grin. She grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him to her and hugged him tight. “ I love you”, she whispered low into his ear as if it were a secret. She was normally not a touchy-feely sort of person, but this time instead of breaking the hug like she usually did, she just held him. He didn’t know why, nor did he care, he just let her wrap herself around him.

He stood there, head resting on her shoulder, letting her love on him as much as her heart desired. He could smell her freshly washed hair mixed with the sharp aroma of the chemicals recently added for color and the sweet ,cloying smell of her body wash. He closed his eyes and inhaled, trying with all his might to memorize this moment as he was sure that it would end and might not happen again for a long time. After a moment she gave one last quick squeeze and released him. He opened his eyes and willed himself not to tear up at the loss it caused inside his heart to let her go. She stared into his eyes and as seriously as she could she said, “I need chocolate”.

She breezed past him into the kitchen and began rummaging in the bread box, where she had always had a not-so-secret stash of chocolate. He walked back to his previously occupied chair and sat down. As she joined him, she handed him a wrapped piece of dark chocolate. He accepted it from her, noting that she was shaking slightly as she held it out for him. “The good stuff”, he noted aloud. She nodded her head up and down as she bit off a tiny piece of the already disrobed confection. They sat in silence again for a moment while they let the chocolate melt on their tongues. She had taught him years ago that real chocolate is not for chewing. She stressed this point to him. “Real” chocolate lovers knew that you had to allow it to melt in your mouth slowly to actually taste it. If you only ever chewed and swallowed your chocolate then you, my friend, had never really tasted chocolate.

After a minute or so of mutual enjoyment he cleared his throat as if to say, ‘Get on with it, Mom‘. She turned her attention from the wrapper she had been studying back to him. “What do you want to know, Jared?” She tilted her head and waited. Her tone was unmistakable. This was her “I have no idea what you’re talking about Dear” tone. He leveled his eyes at her and said, “Everything”. She chucked lightly and said, “You’re not old enough for everything, Jared. Pick another topic.” “Fine. Why did Tommy leave?” His gaze never left her face while he waited for his answer. “Because he wanted to, I suppose.” Her expression never changed. “Come on, Mom, tell me what I want to know”, he implored. He almost couldn’t sit still for all the tension he was feeling right now.

She leaned forward now, expression finally changed into one of frustration. Her brows were starting to furrow and her lips were tightened into a thin line. He knew she was cracking and now he would get to hear some real truth. Danielle had always been this way when it came to talking about her life or her feelings. Anger had to accompany the truth, it was the only way it would ever get spoken. “What do you want from me, Jared? You want me to tell you that I finally stood up for myself and told him to leave? You want me to tell you that we had some big fight and he stormed out?… What?!… What, Jared?… I don’t know what you want from me!” She leaned back in her chair, trying to collect herself, and ran both her hands through her still damp hair. He waited a second to make sure that she was truly in control of herself . He leaned toward her this time, put his hand on her hand as it lay on the Formica tabletop and with a calm and maturity beyond his thirteen years said, “I don’t want anything but your love, Mom. My father abandoned us today and I think that you could at least tell me why. I’m not upset about it myself and I’m not trying to upset you, I just want to know why.”

Silence. More silence. Jared was just about to come out of his skin with frustration and anxiety. The only thing that helped him get through these minutes as they crawled by was history. Their history. She had always been so distant with him about her feelings and she had never, ever talked about her marriage with him. Even when it was really bad with Tommy, she never spoke about it with Jared. Theirs was an unspoken alliance. She was staring out the window again. He could tell that, even though her body was present with him, she was not really here. Her mind was miles or, as the case turned out to be, years from here. After another very constipated minute, her focus shifted back to him.

“What?”, she asked him with a tone that lent itself to someone who was lost in the conversation. He stared at her like she was losing her mind. This had to be a nervous breakdown. She’s lost it, he thought to himself, She’s lost her mind this time. He waited, thinking that she would explain herself…explain her confusion to him. “What do you mean, Mom?”, he finally asked her. “What did you call Tommy just now?” She had a pained look on her face. “I…um…I called him my father”, he stammered, instantly realizing that it was the first time he’d ever done so. She stood suddenly, plastered a very un-real look on her face, and cheerfully said, “We need some dinner!” She immediately went to the bathroom and began to blow dry her hair, leaving him to be baffled all by himself. A minute later she shouted over the blow dryer, “Where do you want to go for dinner?”. He sighed a long, tired sigh and went to take his place back at the bathroom door. They’d come full circle.


Short Story: Making Jam

"Who's this again Mama?"
I turned away from the pot I was stirring to find my oldest son holding a very faded black and white picture. I squinted at the image for a moment and said,"Oh, that's my Grandma Lorraine. You remember, Grandpa Charlie was telling you about her last Christmas." I went back to stirring. He studied the picture closely. After a half a minute of studying, he announced, "She looks nice. Was she nice Mama?" I smiled.
"Yes baby. She was nice. I used to go stay at her house in the summer."
"What kind of things did you do there?" he asked as he climbed up on the counter to watch me cook.
"Oh, I don t know...stuff. She had chickens, so I helped to feed the chickens and she had a garden. I used to pull weeds", I said making a sour face at the memory of pulling weeds.
"What else?"
"Well, we used to make jam sometimes."
His eyes got big and his whole face changed. "You can MAKE jam??"
I laughed out loud, "Of course you can make jam, son, where did you think it comes from?"
"The grocery store, duh", he replied while rolling his eyes.
"No, son. It didn't always come from the store." He was still staring at me. "She had strawberries in her garden. We made jam so that we could have strawberries all year long", I elaborated.
"I can't believe you've known how to make jam my whole life and you didn't tell me!"
I continued stirring my pot while he looked on in silence.
"Teach me how to make jam, Mama", he said after a moment.
I put down my spoon and looked at him for a moment. My son, who unfortunately until a moment ago didn't even know you could make jam, was asking me to teach him something.
"Ok", I said, "We'll get some berries this weekend and I'll show you how to make jam." He grinned an approval and took off into the living room with the picture. That Saturday we went to the farmer's market and bought strawberries, then the grocery store to buy sugar. I had to ask three times before I found the jars and pectin that I remember my grandma using. We washed and cleaned and sliced for hours, talking the whole time. I showed him how to cook the berries and how much sugar to add.
When I explained the thickening action of the pectin he blurted out, "Wow, mom, this is like a science experiment!" When we were done, I looked around my demolished kitchen. Then I looked at my sticky son, who had eaten more berries than he had sliced. Doing a mental tally I realized that we had made a years worth of jam while spending the day together, practicing Math and Science and that some how I had become cool to my 10 yr old son. 'Not a bad day's work', I thought to myself and sent up a silent 'Thank You' to Grandma Lorraine for making me help her with the jam.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wishful Thinking

A long time ago I decided I was going to write something. I started and stopped. About a hundred times. I would have a character, or sometimes two, that would have a conversation in my head and I ‘d have to write it down. Then…nothing. This has happened several times. I guess it was a flash in the pan. Once I wrote down the specific thing that was rolling around in my head it was gone, poof, vanished. Try as I might I couldn’t get it back. Believe me, I’ve tried. I began to think that something was wrong with me.

So, I bought this book when my sister E was visiting, called ‘Writing Down the Bones’. It was a cute little book, pocket-sized almost, and looked interesting. After I opened it, I was amazed. Apparently, it’s a pretty well known book that has been used in college English classes for a couple of decades now. I had never heard of it, but almost everything this woman writes is profound for me. I find myself wanting to copy down things so that I will remember them, but truth be known I’d be copying so much, it really is pointless and in the end just becomes plagiarism.

She talks about making a rule that you will fill a notebook a month. It doesn’t matter what crap you write, as long as you write. Quantity not quality. If you get one good thing out of that notebook, bonus. You may go through several notebooks with nothing good, it doesn’t matter. Write anyway. I’m inspired.

It was after reading her chapter on writing exercises that I wrote Sad Trips Down Memory Lane… because she recommended an exercise called “I Remember” and I had my grandmother on my mind that morning. She also recommends the bribery system, as in “ write something today and I will reward you with 2 chocolate chip cookies from the bakery down the street”. I could definitely use a bribe like that on myself.

I have been tinkering with the idea of posting some of the things I have written, half stories that were never finished. I have learned about myself that no matter how unromantic it is to write on the computer, my thoughts flow more freely when I am typing. My fingers can keep up with my brain better this way. I haven’t posted anything thus far out of fear. Not the fear that you may think. It’s not fear that someone won’t like it that keeps me bound up. I could care less if no one likes it. I have a fear that people will like it and encourage me to finish it. I don’t know if they can be finished. Having an audience creates pressure. I haven’t been able to finish them on my own. The characters are gone from me. How would I even start to finish?

The point of posting them would be to sort of give them flesh, maybe spark my brain into something I hadn’t thought of, and maybe even force myself to acknowledge the end of them. Who knows? Maybe I will be able to finish them one day and when that day comes I’ll know where to find them. I won’t have to worry that I’ve lost the file because they will have a permanent home here on the blog.

Recently, I have been encouraged by reading an interview done with Ken Follett about his book ‘Pillars of the Earth’, which is one of my most favorite books. He said it was one of the first novels he ever tried to write, but it was too massive for his brain at the time. He put it away, wrote dozens of other novels that ended up being published, and years later pulled it back out and finished it. It became his masterpiece and now sort of defines him as a writer. He said that the story in his head was ahead of his time and his brain had to catch up to it. I really like that story. Maybe one day, one of the characters in my head will leap out onto paper, come to life and define me as a writer. Just maybe.

For now, I think that I will start compiling stuff and posting it. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I found these on the internet. They are called "Fashion Pants"...apparently they are from Italy.
I don't even have the strength for this.
Really? REALLY??
Please tell me these people see what they look like wearing pants like this. From the thigh down: a nice pair of leggings. From the thigh up? Umm... how do I phrase this correctly....a woman wearing her husbands long john's...backwards. Does that cover it?
What has happened to fashion? I must be lost. I was looking for vintage dresses, or reproductions, and of course shoes. I was not looking for this.
My staunch opinion is that if you have to explain to someone why what your wearing is fashionable, or in anyway have to explain why you put it on your body, it's probably not for you.
These are most definitely not for me....and FYI? They aren't for you either. Just sayin'

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Glorious Day

I have a reason to celebrate today.

This morning I made a public declaration to God.

Today I got baptized.

It was a personal thing, something I had wanted for a long time, something that had never been offered to me as a child. I stood by and supported Hubby and The Sweet One two years ago when they got baptized. The Mouth recieved Christ this past year, so when the baptism was announced, I thought 'We'll do it together.'

So this morning with 12 other people, we took the plunge. The worship music was moving, the mood was festive and the water was warm.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine - Song of Solomon 6:3

Pictures will come soon :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy 50th to me :)

This is my 50th blog post.

To those of you that have been going for a while, it's a small accomplishment, but it's mine. I'm so very tired from my very long night at the hospital but I wanted to take a moment to mark this occasion. I started this blog almost a year ago, so yes in the the beginning I didn't blog very often. I started it one night well after midnight, as most shady operations start, because I couldn't sleep. I had experienced something with a patient that kept rolling around in my head. I kept re-hashing the days events and going over and over the conversation in my mind until I thought I would explode. I had also just had a conversation with a friend about toying with the idea of blogging. So, well after midnight, I found myself setting up a Blogger account. I didn't even know what to call myself. When it came time to give a URL name I balked...I couldn't make up my mind. Hence the URL: Some of you may have not even noticed that my blog name and URL didn't matter. By the time I figured out what to call the blog I had a couple of followers and certainly didn't want to lose them, so I just kept things as they are. Some of you know that I started blogging from my Blackberry at first and just recently have been able to upgrade to the "real" internet...hence the giant jump in activity.

I can really say that I enjoy my blog. When I started I was in the midst of some questions about myself that I have been able to answer specifically through my blogging. I was and sometimes still am trying to find myself. Not so much in an existential way as a literal, "where am I" way. Before the blog I was lost to my life in a way that was kind of sad. Lost to motherhood, even though I love my children. Lost to being a wife, even though I love my husband. Lost even to being a friend, even though I have amazing friends. This blog has helped me find out more about myself in the last several months than I have been able to find in the last several years. I have been known to post some personally challenging things, as well as some fun and light-hearted things, but I make no apologies because that's my life. Sometimes it's all fun and games and other times it just plain sucks.

Thank you to my followers, few though you may be, for joining the journey. This is just the beginning. Pretty soon it'll be my 100th post, then my 1000th post and beyond.

I can't wait :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ebay Winner's High

Fourth post in 24 hours. Sorry to suffocate you guys but I HAD to post today. This is my birthday gift from my sister E. No, it's not my birthday...we've had enough birthdays around here.
I didn't even post on Hubby's birthday, which was between the two boys' birthdays...mostly because he forbid it. (I should have though, just to show off the Lemon Curd Cheesecake I made him.)
I have been searching for this particular punch bowl for about 14 years now. My grandmother
left me a set of wonderful punch cups when she passed away. The punch bowl had long since been broken, but I love all things old and they were lovely, so she left me the remains of the set. They are an odd square shape that I'd never seen before. For the last 14 years I have checked estate sales, antique shops and the like for something similar. No luck.
Thinking about her recently got me interested again, and this time with the internet at my disposal I was actually able to put a label on my treasures. They are Hazel Atlas Depression Glass, from the Williamsport Prism Cut Collection. According to what I've learned they were acquired from the Sears & Roebuck Catalog in the 30's, as most old wonderful things have been known to originate. Armed with an identity, it didn't take me long to track one down. Actually, I tracked down plenty of not so pretty prices. Several days went by and I found a small obscure link to an ebay offering. This lady in New Jersey was selling "a large heavy glass bowl I found in my Nana's attic". She had no idea what she had. Sadly, I did not inform her. The bidding started at $0.99. I was the winning bidder at $3.25. It cost more to ship the doggone thing that to buy it!!
I know from looking that the original set also contained a smaller bowl that could be turned over and used as a stand for the bowl. According to what I can find, those are pretty much extinct, but I will keep on looking. I was so thrilled to finally find it! My sister E was visiting and insisted on paying for it as a birthday gift even though my birthday isn't until August...well the fact that I screwed up my paypal account might have spurred that decision, but I love her for it anyway :)
It arrived yesterday right as I was leaving for work and I couldn't wait to post some pics of it! I've placed the three cups I have unpacked with it to show what the set looks like together. I'm just so happy to have the set now. I have to go out in the garage to rescue the rest of the cups from the boxes and dust. I think I'll have to throw a party just so I can use them :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Late Post from the World's Worst Mom

In my mind I am an old lady. Here I was, all satisfied with myself for posting about Father's Day and The Sweet One's birthday and about half way through my shift at work today, I realized that that I totally missed posting about The Mouth's birthday, which was on the 5th.

Now this may not seem like an unforgivable crime unless, like me, you are prone to montage-type hallucinations of the future in which your children have been driven to the Psychiatrist's couch my something you have said or done. Side note: a lot of my futuristic hallucinations involve my children in therapy...nevermind.

So, without further ado:

This is The Mouth.

I have named him The Mouth for blogging purposes because, well, he talks a lot. I plead the 5th on where he inherited that trait :)

So, his birthday was a couple weeks ago, but in my defense Hubby was in the middle of a very long medical ordeal and despite trying my best to keep that separate from my son's birthday celebration, my brain really wasn't focusing at the time. A couple of years ago The Sweet One decided that he was too old for cake and ice cream birthday parties anymore so we started a tradition of taking him and a couple friends to do something cool on his birthday. I think he was turning 13 at the time, and this was an outward way to express his "teenage-hood". So, it goes without saying that of course, his little brother was suddenly "too old" for parties as well. We've been doing the "special day out" birthday for the two older boys ever since.

This year, The Mouth decided that he wanted to go to the local go-kart track/amusement place for his birthday. Because of Hubby's medical issues, guess who was left to go go-karting with four 11 yr old boys? Correct. So, we show up at this place, which is slammed because it's the first Saturday of Summer Vacation. As soon as we check in and get our bracelets guess what happens?? The bottom falls out of the largest storm cell to pass through in several weeks. I literally checked the weather on my phone thinking that certainly this was like a rogue tropical storm that I wasn't aware of. That's how wicked this thing was. We didn't even get to ride the go-karts once. In fact, no rides for us at all. Everyone (which in this particular park happened to be about 200 people) had to hang out in the arcade to keep dry.

So, we're shoved into this tiny arcade, which is already loud and stuffy, waiting for the rain to stop. We wait...and wait...and wait. Thirty minutes into it we decide to go ahead and have our pizza now since there wasn't anything else to do and it sure beat standing at the windows with our faces pressed against the glass.

One Cheese pizza did not really help the situation at all since it's life span was exactly two minutes long. Now it had been raining for an hour and I was starting to severely sweat the fact that I was supposed to have these boys home at a decent hour, we hadn't done anything fun yet and all the cheese pizza was gone. I finally tracked down a manager and did my best "I know this isn't your fault, but I was just wondering where my money is going since we are standing here doing nothing and the sun is going down" face. As overwhelmed as she was, and believe me -with an arcade built for about 50 people that was now holding about 200- she was way overwhelmed, she really was great. After talking with her and asking Birthday Boy what he wanted to do, it was decided not to postpone for another weekend. I mean, it's summer in the rains ever day here during Hurricane Season. Postponing it didn't guarantee anything and even the children knew it.

So, she made us an offer we couldn't refuse: $40 worth of arcade tokens and three games each of Laser Tag. This is a picture of four 11 yr old boys discovering a real "vintage" Ms. Pac Man/Galaga game. He totally asked me if he could have one for his room. I teared up a little. Two hours later all the tokens were gone, all the Laser Tag games were played and everybody had bag of useless crap from the token store.

I did get them all home by bedtime and no one cried, fought or broke any bones. In Boy-Land that's a home run kinda day. I missed having Hubby with me to navigate the mess but somehow even in the midst of all of his medical drama he had the time to text me...."Sucks to be you :)" Jackass.

In the end they all raved about what an awesome birthday it was, which was good for me to hear since the entire time I was staring out the window at the tree branches flying by, I was explaining myself to my child's imaginary-future-shrink. I learned that boys will always be happy if you feed them and give them game tokens and that laser tag is so a real sport. I'm just happy I lived to tell the tale :O

Happy Birthday to my Mouth! Hope this year is super awesome, just like you.

The Sweet One turns 15!

You probably can't tell from this picture, but this is The Sweet One. Today is his 15th birthday. I can not wrap my brain around having a 15 yr old child. I'm not old enough to have a 15 yr old child! Seriously, I'm not. Those in my personal life already know this story, but since blogging is about rambling and preserving your thoughts, it bears repeating.

I was 15 yrs old myself when I gave birth. I had been 15 for all of about 30 days when I got pregnant. Hubby and I were troubled teenagers...I'm not even sure troubled is the right word here. Troubled actually sounds like too light a term...severely handicapped might be more appropriate. The story involves a lot of background and dredging up junk, which I'm not going to do for the sake of posterity, but suffice it to say that I was safer with him, even if I was getting pregnant, than I was at home and having someone to focus on rather than self-destruction really is probably the only reason Hubby lived through those years. So, whether we were ready or not, at the ages of 15 and 17 we brought a child into the world.

Having The Sweet One saved my life...both our lives. Suddenly there was this other person there. Someone that we were responsible for, someone who depended on us, someone who would love purely without conditions. He was such a sweet baby. I wish I had a scanner so I could share baby pictures, but then it's probably better that I don't or I'd have to change the name of my blog to something sickly sweet like "Our Happy Little Boys".

We worked so hard to do it right. Hubby worked 3 jobs until his body failed him from exhaustion, then he worked 2 jobs and still does sometimes. I went to school. It was the only thing I had left because I wasn't old enough to get a job. We weren't old enough to lease an apartment, so we lived with our parents and then friends, for years it seemed. Happily I can report that I finished school, dropping out was never an option, while I worked full-time. Notice I didn't mention a shot-gun wedding. Even then we believed that we weren't mature enough to handle learning to be parents and learning how to be married at the same time. Eventually, after lots and lots of "on again/off again" we did marry. This, we have learned, makes us some kind of extraordinary couple...because you know, boys who get girls pregnant are supposed to leave and teen moms are supposed to have kids by different dads. That's what we get told anyway. I guess we just didn't get the memo.

I won't know for years, but I wonder how our ages at the time have affected him. I have made my share of mistakes for sure, but I'm not totally convinced that was because of my age. All new parents are idiots I hear. This is an "on the job training" kind of thing. But, I can tell you this. He is a wonderful young man. I am so proud of what Hubby and I have done together. We knew that if we weren't actively working against it, the things that tripped us up and held us down were going to get passed along to our children. We have worked tirelessly to make sure they have a fair deal. I stand back in awe sometimes at the person we are raising. He is super, almost scary smart. He loves science, and classic literature, greek mythology and comic books (he gets that from me). He loves rock and roll music. He's learning to play the guitar.

He will be learning to drive this year, God help me. He spends time writing stories. He loves babies and has been serving in the nursery and 2/3 yr old Sunday School at our church for a couple of years now. He starts 9th grade in 2 months. He gets nervous around girls...well I think so anyway. A mom can only see so much while she's spying from across the room :) His room is covered in rock posters and his desk is covered in novels. If I were a 15 yr old girl I'd think he was awesome....but I'm not. I'm his mom and I'm a little biased to say the least.

I am so looking forward to the teenage years. He knows the story about himself. He connected the dots on my age a long time ago and it's something that has been discussed to death around here. To look back at where I was at this same age is so surreal and so completely satisfying. My son has never known what it was like to wonder if I love him, he has never (to my knowledge) considered his life a waste and he has never know what it was like to face this world job isn't done by any means, but I sure am proud of the job I've done.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Post

Happy Father's Day!

We had a great Father's Day today with Hubby. We weren't able to let him sleep in because of church, but we made sure that he was the last one to wake was the least we could do! We prepared him a surprise pancake and egg breakfast (Yum!), gave Hubby a card from each of us, presents that consisted of a new set of garage tools and a bible in a translation he had been asking for and then headed off to Church. Our friend and pastor gave a great sermon to the guys about leading in the home today that I'm sure got a lot of people's attention. Kudos to a man giving a sermon to men, on Father's Day, and using the words lazy, slacker and poser in the same sermon without offending anyone. Way to go! Afterwards there was much pondering over where to have lunch, since it was Hubby's choice and he didn't to pick a place that provided toys with the kids' meal :) We were all excited when he chose Japanese Hibatchi...dinner and a show! Bonus.

To say that the Hibatchi scared Mr. Funny (our 8 yr old) is an understatement. Picture a child trying to eat with chopsticks while simultaneously trying to plug his ears from the "noise" of the pyrotechnics and acrobatic spatula. I was worried he was going to accidentally puncture an ear drum! The Mouth and The Sweet One both loved it, as most boys do when they get to see things on fire. Mr. Funny lightened up when we bought him a "Japanese Sprite" as it was labeled on the menu. It came in a funny shaped bottle with a marble in the lid, sealing it, that you had to pop out with the provided tool in order to drink. Unfortunately there isn't a way to get the marble out when your done without breaking the bottle. Breaking the bottle isn't going to happen, since we're "keeping it forever". I mean...we have to - it's got Japanese writing right on the label!

When we had stuffed ourselves with all the Japanese food we could eat, we headed home for long Sunday naps, movies and ice cream. Pretty much in that same order.

So, this is a short post, but I'm groggy from the bucket of Japanese leftovers I had for dinner, the ice cream and the general laziness that a Sunday afternoon brings to our house. I hope that everyone who celebrated it, had a great Father's Day. I myself don't have my father anymore, so I remember him on this day while I heap extra love and attention on Hubby. To those of you who aren't fathers, remember to include any other male role model shoes you fill...teacher, friend, uncle, brother, even spouse. Fatherhood takes a multitude of talents and each of these roles draws a little from those talents as well. Celebrate that. To my single mom friends, I hope you got a little love today as well, since your filling both roles. If you know someone in these two catagories who may have been missed today, give them a ring tomorrow. Tell them you were thinking of them too. Everyone likes to be remembered. I'm back to work tomorrow....Everyone have a great week!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sad trips down memory lane and other relevant things.

I remember learning that my grandmother had 3 dead children. The thought was horrible. I asked so many questions of my father, who was telling the story at time. He never met any of these siblings before they passed. They were all from earlier in his own mother’s life. One little girl, named Eva (pronouced with a short e, “eh-vah”) died of pneumonia at the age of two. Another little girl, named Dorothy, died at the age of three of dysenteric diarrhea in an age when diarrhea alone would kill you. My father swore till his dying day that the diarrhea was from eating an orange after the first frost….we weren’t allowed to even go near an orange tree in the winter. I’ve just now thought to myself that maybe I have mixed the girls up and Eva was three and Dorothy was two, and maybe what they died of respectively too, but either way those were their names and they each died of one of those causes.

My grandmother had another child die, but that child was never talked about. My mother told me once that the child was born dead. She said it was a boy and he was a mongloid. A water-head baby, she said. I didn’t know what that meant. Did the head look like a water balloon? Then she told me that my grandfather had delivered the baby next to the furnace and upon seeing the dead baby’s appearance he covered it and wouldn’t let my grandmother see him. Mom said that after my grandmother was done birthing the placenta and was resting he took the baby into the back yard and buried it. To this day, no one knows where that baby lies.

As a small child the story was gross at best, scary at worst. Now that I am a mother I cannot comprehend it. The fact alone that she lost not one but three children is devastating, but to add to it that she never laid eyes on one of them is ….too much. Later in my life I would walk around my grandmother’s back yard and think of that baby. Everyone has heard about how rough life was during the Depression, about how little people had, how hard work was to come by, but now I think about it from a woman’s perspective. Being a mother under those circumstances…my grandmother’s circumstances. Pregnant, with one or two small children under foot, in the rural Central Florida swamps (Florida was nothing but swamps before Walt Disney came along), living in a makeshift two room house that my railroad-working husband built with one saved-up-for board at a time with no midwife to deliver my child. Laboring for an unknown amount of time in the heat of that furnace while my husband did the best he could until the baby finally came, and then…silence, I’m sure. No cry, no wiggle. I wonder what my grandmother said, if she tried to reach out for him. I wonder what my grandfather did, what made him immediately decide to hide it, or what facial expression he had.

After being married for a little while myself, I know that husband and wife have a language all their own. Expressions, body language, exchanged looks. I do wonder if he had to say anything at all. As a woman, maybe she knew. Maybe she knew before the labor even started. Women are incredibly in tune to the movements of their babies, maybe he stopped moving at some point and she expected the outcome. Neither of my grandparents had better than a 3rd or 4th grade education, so I’m not real sure what exactly was wrong with the baby except that obviously it was dead and disfigured. Now it is buried in the back yard. My grandmother had a large flower garden and I often wondered if it was close to the grave in some tributary way. My aunt lives there now. The flower garden is gone. Time passes, stories are sometimes all that it left.

Monday, June 14, 2010

We knew it was coming, but knowing does not prepare the heart for this kind of hurt.

Oil has landed on Gulf Shores. Besides the fact that this week is my vacation, that I've been planning this for months, that my sister drove down from Tennessee...besides all that, look at what they've done to my beach!

Even though I am an "inland" resident, I can call it my beach. I can call it my beach because I live here. This beach belongs to all of us. I spend my time here. I bring my kids here. I celebrate life here. If you have been following me you know that the beach is "my" place. It's my place to relax, to unwind, to clear my worship God. To see my beach in this state makes me weep. It makes me sob like a child. It makes me want to apologize to God on behalf of the whole human race for the bad stewards that we have become on a global level.

Yes, the shore line is long here on the Gulf Coast. Yes, I can drive further west and find a still-clean beach. Despite the fact that I shouldn't have to, which at this point is irrelevant, how do I know? How do I know that the water is safe? Just because it looks clean and doesn't have visible oil floating in it, does that mean it is safe? How can I be sure enough to let my children play in it? What about all the chemicals they are spraying into the Gulf to "disperse" the oil? Where is all of that going?? I don't trust....well, anyone at this point. Why should I? Neither the Government or BP has done anything to make any of us trust anything they have said so far. It's been two months, to the tune of 40,000 barrels of crude a day, and nothing that doesn't resemble trying to plug a dyke with a cotton ball has been done yet.

So, I will probably not get to see a clean beach this week. I will probably spend way to much money while shopping with my sister this week. None of that is important. The Gulf is important, the animals are important, the residents are important, the fishing/shrimping/oyster industry is important, the tourism is important. My beach is important.
BP: You have to fix this. Make this right.

* All images were found at the WEAR 3 Pensacola Facebook Page*

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New digs

I rearranged the furniture!

I got bored, as women do, and decided to get a new template. A recent obsession with pin up, early 20th century (30's to 50's) and vintage led the way. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find one that wasn't more than half naked...I didn't want people to be confused as to the nature of my blog. Once I narrowed it down to mostly clothed pin ups, I was really disappointed to find a distinct lack of brunettes. *pout* Oh well, I like my little woman that sits at the top of the page and I guess that's all that matters!

So, kick off your shoes, pull up a chair and sit a spell.

You're always welcome here :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Awards Season

I love awards season :) I actually got this award just after my last award and I meant to post on it soon after the last post and then lost track of it in the new laptop. It was given to me by my friend Gundiva over at "Just another perfect day....", and I appreciate it sooooo much! Plus, it's a beautiful Gerber Daisy (which I love) that is orange (my favorite color!).
The premise of the award is to gift it to 12 blogs that you enjoy. I didn't have 12 blogging friends, so I did what any self respecting blogger would do...I went out to find me some friends!
We'll call this the "Follow me back" award, I'll give it and see if anyone takes the bait!
(disclosure: not all of these friends are new, some I have been getting an RSS feed on for awhile, get the picture.)
Here are 12 blogs that I follow:
There you go! Lets see what happens :)

Dear Mom.....

I should be asleep. It's after 2 AM, and I actually have plans to go into work early in the morning instead of in the afternoon because of Hubby's ongoing medical issue. I should be asleep, but I can't.

I'm thinking of my mother. She passed away 4 years ago, as of May 30th. Normally, I spend that day thinking of her, talking about her, remembering, reminiscing, and generally wallowing. This year my life had been so crazy that I didn't acknowledge it at all. I didn't have the luxury of wallowing. I didn't have time to reminisce. I didn't have anyone to talk to about her. I feel like I pushed her memory away because I didn't have time. I want to acknowledge her. It may seem too personal a thing to post, but I want to share it with my friends. This is my acknowledgment:

Dear Mom,
It has been 4 years already. Does time pass in heaven the same as for us? Probably not. How is Daddy? I miss you both so much that it's physically hard to breathe sometimes. I have so much that I would want to talk to you about. So many times I wished there were phones in heaven! What it would be like to be able to pick up the phone and ask your advice or to hear you laugh again. I hear your voice all the're still telling me what to do. That's what makes you such a great mom, even death couldn't make you keep your opinion to yourself. I wish you could see the boys. I know you both would be so proud of them. The Quiet One is turning 15 this year...can you believe that?? He's studying to get his permit. God help all of us. I can't send that child across the grocery store and have him bring back the brand of peanut butter I asked for and I'm supposed to be giving him my car keys in three weeks?? I don't think it's going to happen. I don't know how you and Daddy survived my teen years. Honestly, he's such a better (more obedient) kid than I was...if I had been you, I'd be dead right now!

The Mouth has become the one that I have to keep my eye on. He turns 11 on Saturday and last week at the river he was being accompanied around the park by a high school freshman...a cheerleader no less. I'm not ready for all that. These little girls are going to have to give this mom a break. You'd be surprised though. He's a more responsible little person than he should be. I regularly give him tasks before I give them to his brother, because he is so dependable. He gets that ethic from you.

The Sweet One has your smile....big as the sky and wide as the ocean. Smiley Smiler Smilington, that's what I call him. He's so smart, Mom. He scares me a little and I sometimes catch myself intentionally holding back certain things to teach him because I know he would grasp it and I'm not ready for that. I want him to stay young and innocent. If I pushed he would probably be at least a year or two ahead in our homeschooling but I am so content with these simple days. I hope that's not wrong of me, to want his youth to last forever. I suppose moms are all the same, aren't they? I don't want the days of cuddling and giggling to stop and I somehow think that if he becomes too "brainy" it would. Maybe that's wrong of me. I want days filled with playing in the sprinkler and marveling at the bean plant we are growing on the kitchen window sill to last forever. I know that they won't, but I certainly am not doing anything to slow them down.

You would be so proud of Hubby, Mom. He's been so faithful to God. I'm so grateful that you got to see him come to know his Saviour before you left. Being the only Christian in his family has been hard on him. He doesn't see them much and when he does, there is always ridicule, but he has stayed the course. You knew that he would. But, he has found a wonderful family in our church friends. Real men that value him and point him in the right direction. He's been a wonderful husband and father because of it. He's been sick, Mom, and I'm scared. It's nothing really that bad, it's just the nature of it has weakened him and made him need me more. I wonder if I am enough.

I am working again. I am incessantly tired, but I think of you. I think of the double shifts and the swollen feet you endured for us and I plug along. My life now is so blessed compared to what you had when we were small that I dare not complain. I know how much worse it can be because I was raised in worse. Worse was our neighborhood. I am going back to school. I know that would make you happy. You always said I made a better student than anything else I ever tried to do. I guess you were right...professional student it is. I'm getting baptized. I wish you could be here.

So much time has passed, and I know that all we have between us is time, but I miss you. I miss your crazy laugh, your big warm hugs, your ability to kick my butt when I needed it, the help you always gave with the boys without me even having to ask (you don't know how much I took that for granted), I miss coffee-time, Patrick Swayze Movie Night, and your potato soup. I think what I miss the most is your face. I know you don't want for anything anymore and your not in any pain, but I wonder if you miss me too. It's hard to explain to people who still have their mothers how deeply it hurts. You knew me. The me no one else saw, the stories that even I don't remember. You took them all with you when you left.

I can't wait to see you again. For my sake, I hope that is a very, very, VERY long time. Tell everyone hello for me...I miss them too.

Thank you friends, for letting me share that piece of myself with you. You are appreciated greatly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Setting the record straight

For starters, this is not a political blog. I have never, ever drifted into a political discussion here, not because I don't have political opinions but because I'm a little self-centered I guess and my immediate rants and needs usually don't fall outside of the work/church/husband/child area. That being I have something to say.

I was reading this article on the Yahoo Front Page. Yes, I am aware that Yahoo really isn't the best place to be getting my political news, but I was logging into my email and I saw the word Alabama. What can I say...I'm nosy. Low and behold, Alabama is making national headlines with it's primary election. Unfortunately, like it always is when they put southerners on TV, it's not positive. I can't even call this a news article because there was a distinct lack of story in my opinion. All the article entails really is a collection of video clips with commentary typed out between them. Such is American journalism these days, but that's not my point. That being said, I watched all of them. They were short clips, no big deal. Than I see the comments section. What the hell?? Over 1100+ comments (almost each comment had double-digit replies as well) on Alabama's Primary! Now, I have no problem with people having differing opinions. I welcome it in fact. I think that is one of the greatest things about our country... that brave men and women have fought and died for our right to argue with each other and I love a good debate. Today, I didn't even get 40 comments in and I was disgusted. At this point, there are literally thousands of comments from people about their opinion on the men running for office in my state and almost NONE of them were positive. These people aren't attacking the politics these men advocate nearly as much as they are Alabama-bashing. Citing Alabama and ALL of it's citizens as back-woods, uneducated, redneck, bible-thumping bigots who don't even speak English themselves and therefore unqualified to know if an immigrant were speaking it correctly. Don't even get me started on the amount of grammatical and spelling errors there were on these "better educated" Yankees comments!

As an Alabamian (not a native, but having spent half my childhood and most of my adult life here), I am appalled.


A man says something with an accent and he's an illiterate moron and they are calling us bigoted?? Just because a man speaks with an accent doesn't mean he thinks with one. I have seen the Tim James ad that is listed in the article. While I did marvel at the fact that he said it out loud, it was not because I disagree with what he says. Let me be crystal clear here: I do not believe that anyone who does not speak or read English should be allowed to be licensed to drive in this or any other state. Is that a racist opinion? No. I wholeheartedly believe it to be a safety issue. While giving the test here in 12 different languages might get us brownie points for political correctness and tolerance, it completely undermines public safety as our road signs are all printed in ONE language...English. As a nurse I can tell you that native English speakers have plenty of trouble driving as it is without throwing people that couldn't read the sign even if they had seen it into the mix! Having said that, the reason I was shocked that he said it in his ad is that normally, nowadays, saying what you really think is something that is not conducive with a political career. Even if I disagreed with him, kudos to him for being transparent. We normally learn of our politicians true feelings on issues like these after they are elected and it normally involves either a slip of the tongue or a secret recording.

Before today, I honestly hadn't seen the other ads, so apparently they weren't as well funded as the first one. I can't say anything for the African-American candidate who said Obama "fell in with leftist-radicals, played with terrorists and let his America-hating pastor baptize his children". I mean... what do you say to that? As for the Winchester-totin' cowboy running for Ag Commission, he definitely has a unique approach, doesn't he?

My only complaint here is the insane amount of hatred and filth that came pouring out of "Joe the Plumber" today on those comment boards...and we are supposed to be the ones that are full of hatred, judgement and ignorance. I can say one thing for sure- Hubby is a Yankee (shh, he doesn't like me to tell people) and his family hails from the great state of New Jersey by way of Philadelphia. You know, the "City of Brotherly Love"? Well, I have heard more ignorant and bigoted things uttered from their side of the Mason-Dixon than I hear on any given day in the "Old South". From where I stand, no matter which accent you're using, ignorance is ignorance. Trust me, other dialects get pigeon-holed as uneducated too. Do you think that any one would have listened to Albert Einstein if he had sounded like Vinny Barbarino? Doubtful. There is a reason Hubby fought so hard to lose the Philly drawl when we were teenagers...any one remember Rocky?? I hope that one day even a fraction of these people meet an upwardly mobile, educated Southerner with a sharp enough tongue to end their ignorance. I kinda secretly hope it'll be me.

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