Ghostly Insight

Those of us who have lost someone we love know that there are times when missing them is like wearing a giant lead hat.  It’s so bad sometimes that you just feel like if you think about it hard enough, you can change the reality of things.

I’ve lost three people I truly loved.  Losing one’s parents is a normal part of life.  Luckily, I have my own little family, and really, it’s natural for parents to go on before us.  I believe they are somewhere else, they are whole and things are good for them. Seven years after the fact, I’m in a great place and really just miss them in that hard, hurtful way only once in a while.  Mostly I remember their funny sayings and all the happiness we had.  We really did have a great life together.

That’s why what happened to me last week was so WEIRD. I’m not a superstitious person, nor am I experiencing any particular longing for my parents.  I haven’t been thinking about them much, life is busy and I am darn happy with my life, except for the misery of winter.

Thursday, I was at the doctor.  I walked down the hall to use the loo and I went through a giant cloud of Oscar de la Renta perfume.  My mother smelled so strongly of this that it was sometimes hard to share the oxygen in a car with her.  Her clothes, fur coat and things that I kept still reek of it.  So, I figured there would be some nice little old lady that was nearby and I just breathed in and smiled.  No, no one was in the hall.  No one in the loo.  No one ANYWHERE.  So odd, just ghostly silence.

I then went down the street to the grocery store.  Not my grocery store, but Ingles, which is bad enough in itself, but I was meeting The Boy for a sports physical nearby.  When, out of the corner of my eye, I spied my dad.  Really.  My brain went “oh, there’s Dad”, because, before he died, we would often run into each other at the store.  It took a minute for my brain to catch up and realize it couldn’t be him.  I looked more closely and  darn it, it was him.  I whipped my bascart (allow me to say here that words such as bascart, communiversity, fantabulous, guesstimate and craisin make me cringe.  These are not real words.  I do, however, like “cremains” for some reason.  As in, “we picked up Memaw’s cremains from the funeral home”.) anyhow, I whipped my buggy around and followed him.  Same Member’s Only jacket, same pants, same black shoes, same gray hair and hair cut.  Same walk, same time spent gazing at the ice cream section.  I stalked this man.  I mean I stalked the living hell out of him.  I followed him when he went to the bathroom, I watched him up and down each and every isle and managed to get just ahead of him in line.  I’ll have to admit that I was all teared up and sniffy by then.  I ran to my car and I waited for him in the parking lot, snapping pictures surreptitiously all the way.  I am ridiculously inept with my phone and the pictures are all fuzzy but I was able to convince my family that I am not crazy.  I have never seen such a “dead ringer” (yes, I know this is terrible humor, but fitting) for my dad.  I have noted his car, surprisingly, a red Corvette, and tag number and next time I’m going to work up the nerve to just hug him.  You might read of this in the crime scene blog in the county paper. Middle aged woman in cute sweater molests older man in the dairy isle.

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That night, I dreamed that I received a check from my dad, with a long letter, but in the dream, I couldn’t read the letter because it was too dark.  When I awoke, I had a call from my parent’s good friend, telling me of a possible problem with their estate that I needed to look into.  How weird is that?  Are they still looking out for me? Last year, I got a small dividend check from my mother on my birthday.  Of all the days of the year, it came then.  Just enough to cover a big extravagant lunch where I wished she were there.

Do I believe my sweet parents are trying to tell me something? Do I think they’re still watching out for me?  In some ways, I hope so. I always feel their love and approval, just like when they were here.  In others, I hope they don’t see me in my grouchy moments, or my angry ones. I surely hope they don’t hear my language when I’m driving!  I hope my mom doesn’t know that I sometimes wear jeans to church and tipple a little bit.  I do hope they see how wonderful their grandchildren are.  My mother would be so proud she would brag her friends’ ears off.  Cricket would be despised by Baptist women everywhere just from conversation oversaturation.  My dad would love to see The Boy playing lacrosse.  He was still just a little baseball player when he left and he would be baffled by the game but so proud of The Boy, who would now be taller than his Grandy.

Maybe it’s just a big ol’ bunch of coincidences, most likely it is.  It sure was a discombobulating 24 hours though.  Maybe we get these little love notes from them when we most need them, even if we think we’re going along fine on our own. This morning, I turned on Pandora radio to the opera station and there was my mother’s favorite song, that she played relentlessly on both the piano and violin.  I just laughed and said thanks.

Rock ON

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My friend writes a great and funny blog, Forever 51.  The other day she asked what the soundtrack of our youth was.  That got us talking because the kind of music we listened to says something about us.  

When I met my best friend in 2nd grade, I was introduced to “Black Water”.  This was pretty eye opening for me as my family only listened to classical music.  I had already had the fiasco of “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” being banned at my house because of the wine reference and I was an empty cup when it came to music. Oh, I could belt out all four stanzas of hymns 1 – 345 in the Baptist hymnal and could hum a good many waltzes and concertos, but the Doobie Brothers were out of my realm.   My friend had younger parents and her house had music playing in it that made me feel cool and hip, like an after school special. 

When the disco era came along I was still in middle school, tucked away in private school where we belted out the tunes about sex and drugs and had no idea what we were singing about.  Barry Manilow and Abba ruled, it’s sad to say. 

Upon being sprung from the misery of private school, I threw away my preppy shoes and had the eye opening experience of public education.  Kids kissed and held hands in the halls, soon I kissed people in the hall. Kids could bring in a note that allowed them to SMOKE AT SCHOOL.  It was an orgy.  Peter Frampton rang out, The Who, REO Speedwagon.  My first concert was Journey, an event for which my date had to come into my house and convince my mother I wouldn’t die or join a cult from attending. 

If I had to pinpoint the band behind most of the shenanigans I committed in high school, though, I would say without a doubt, it was AC/DC.  I can hear the bells starting up Hell’s Bells and still get a mental whiff and taste of that time. I can smell my car, a sweet little black Camero with a great stereo, cracklin’s from Long John Silvers spilled between the seats, and a bottle opener magnet on the dash. Led Zeppelin tapes all over the floor mixed up with punk tapes like the Sex Pistols. I remember my Halston perfume and the smoke of the fantastic parties that seem to happen most weekends.  

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When I met the Goose, he was on a whole different wavelength.  He listened to Bruce Springsteen, who honestly causes me a bit of nausea, Jackson Brown, who makes my ears bleed and Jimmy Buffett, whom I’ve come to like in small doses due only to the fun I’ve had at his concerts and to his music.  The Goose didn’t know every word to Kashmir and didn’t consider it a holy song.  He didn’t know Moving in Stereo, Starship Trooper or any other long make-out songs. For a while, I won him over, most likely because of the making out, but several years into our marriage he produced from his mouth a sentence that could have spelled the end to our union.  He said, with all sincerity, “I really only like country music.”.  It’s true, that I’ve stayed married to him, whether out of pity or inertia, and tried to gently move him back into the light, but he persists, even asking me to “listen to the words” now and then.  It’s a burden I continue to bear and I say with all shame in my heart that my precious daughter, who in high school had purple hair and listened only to music that could take one’s skin off, has veered over into that twangy territory.  I find it uncomfortable to think about and embarrassing to admit, but my daughter is a country music fan and I love and support her anyway. I think there might be help group I can attend for this. 

I find that in my advanced years I listen to a lot of stuff, rap and Cricket’s old screamo when I run, Grateful Dead at the lake or with wine, but the two kinds of music I continually return to are those of my youth, classical, because my mother played in the Atlanta Symphony and I grew up with the screeching of a practicing violin, and the banging rock anthems of my high school sound tracks.  We all go back to what’s comfortable. I once heard someone say that we are going to be a generation of old people, sitting around in rocking chairs, holding hands, eating jello and singing along to Stairway to Heaven and I feel that, possibly due to the punishment our brains took, that time might be closer than we think. 

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All Aboard to Ladytown and Boobyville (not a men’s blog)

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My daughter is a modest child.  I cannot conceive of where she gets this trait.  Even as a kid, I would whip off my clothes to swim or run through the sprinkler.  My mother caught me showing off my parts to the little boy next door and I was summarily sent to the “switch” tree to choose a limb with which I would be whacked.  There was lots of skinny dipping as a teen and in those college years came the advent of the hot tub.

Today, at my ripe old age, I would need at least two weeks of prep time before I could even begin to think about getting into a hot tub with others.  No carbs could be consumed, there would need to be a good bit of epilation and it would have to coincide with a “good booby day”.  In other words, it might not occur except during a comet.

It occurs to me that I require a lot of prep in general now.  I have scheduled these two weeks as my doctor weeks for the year.  Doctors?  Yes, plural.

I was married 8 years before my first child came along.  In those years, our insurance company was laughing all the way to the bank as neither I nor the Goose made one doctor visit.  Upon having a baby, I was gobsmacked to learn all that’s involved with body maintenance.  After my babies, I again drifted into no man’s land for years with no medical upkeep.  When my mother died, I figured out that she had not visited a doctor in 43 years.  She fully believed that once you let ‘em in, you never get away and I’m beginning to find this is true.

Today I’m at the breast doctor. Driving down here, I was listening to a Kanye song that starts out “weeping and a moaning and a gnashing of teeth” and that refrain has been playing in my mind while I wait.  This is a three hour ordeal where lots of woman are sitting around in blue robes, like at the spa, and waiting to be called for a squeeze and a picture, NOT like at the spa.  Sometimes there are strangled screams from behind closed doors. This is not as fun as it sounds.  There is a drink machine, but not the right kind to make it okay for a stranger to  wrestle with me while feeling me up.  I keep thinking this is NOT a good thing going on here and I feel kinda resentful that I was  told that my breasts were dense.  I have a snappy comeback, but it just seems downright rude, and I got a “look” when I giggled at the nurses cold hands, so I’ll keep these things to myself. Apparently, there is no humor in boobland.

ImageTomorrow’s appointment is with my dermatologist, who will remove a small part of my facial expression for a lot of money.

Next comes the gynecologist who does things to my Ladytown that any other man would need at least two drinks and a bracelet to try.

My point, ladies, is that it takes a village to just stay even now.  Remember just rolling out of bed, in last night’s mascara and pulling on jeans off the floor that were baggy because you just lost weight as you slept?  Remember partying at night and waking up without a face as puffy as Mayor McCheese? I hate it that I’ve had to break up with french fries and nachos.  I want to tell them I really miss them and never stopped loving them.  I dream of them.

All my life, I thought I would get to a “certain age” and stop having to worry about it.  Our mother’s generation did.  They went to get their hair done once a week, wore a girdle and ate whatever they wanted.  Like a donkey following a carrot on a stick, I’ve been following this dream.  Now, it looks like the reality IS the carrot, not the carrot cake.  There are no girdles for us, no wash and set perms.  Where are our turbans?  Our mumus?  Gliding through middle age trying to look like a teenager, feel like a 20 year old and think like an adult is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Somehow, I’ve exchanged my spring breaks for doctor’s week.  Not a fair trade at all!

Wildlife Woe

ImageYesterday, I went to a fun football party.  Not fun because of football, which I don’t understand nor have any desire to watch, but because it was with lots of old high school friends and included jello shots and Triscuits, my favorite things ever.

On the way home, the Goose was driving (as usual as it would threaten his masculinity otherwise) and I yelled “Stop! There’s a good one!” and we pulled over to bag up a juicy piece of roadkill.

Uh huh, roadkill.  This is all because I had a black vulture waiting in the barn for me at home.

I don’t accept birds. I know almost nothing about them. I work with small mammals and deer.  The only thing I know about birds is that if someone finds small birds on the ground NOT to move them, they haven’t fallen from the nest, they are fledglings and their mom is somewhere nearby in a panic because some fool is messing with her babies.

Even knowing nothing, I took this bird because some super nice people called me after striking out with 11 other rehabbers.  I caved in and told them to bring him over. He was beautiful.  I’ll admit that some of the vulture’s manners are less than perfect, but they really are cool birds.  I called the bird guru, The Pagan Raptor Goddess, but she wasn’t taking vultures.  She is a wealth of info and I always want to give a shout out to her organization, Hawktalk.org.

This morning, after having my hand shredded by this glorious creature, I finally got him down to Chattahoochee Nature Center.  The only good thing about the bloody injury on my part was that my son’s friend with diabetes jumped forward and gave me a quickie blood test, which came out a little low but he suggested it was a left over jello shot problem. Saved me a $35 annual physical copay.

The good folks at the nature center, who do great work with wildlife and are responsible for sending me Tortellini and Tiki, our emu, were happy to take him and I felt great when I left. On my way home, top down, radio up, sun shining, I got the call that his wing was shattered and he was being euthanized at that moment.

Now, I’ve grown a thick skin over my years of rehab.  I’ve had to put down lots of animals and my poor Goose has helped me with even more.  It’s horrible but necessary.   Some stories, though, just get to me.  What got to me is that I had spent the entire ride telling this magnificent bird to just hold on, help was close by.

Of course, I KNOW he didn’t understand, I get that a bird that can’t fly will mentally fall apart and I accept that this was the only option.  It just caused a deep sadness.

I spent the rest of the ride listening to depressing music, being angry at the drivers ahead of me, regardless of my new kind thoughts toward others, and thinking back over the sad cases I’ve had. I once had a summer when a virus took 7 of my little fawns.  Only one survived.  The last one, the smallest, writhed and screamed in my arms for an hour until I finally had to concede he wouldn’t make it.  He whimpered and wept like a baby and I cried along with him.  After that summer, I took the next year off from animals.

I know the sad losses I’ve seen cannot compare with the sadness of others.  My friend who held her son while he passed away, the family that lost their sweet little girl a few weeks ago, the Trophy Wife’s friend who lost her 16 year old son just yesterday to an accident, these tragedies are beyond my comprehension.

Mine are just little sadnesses that cause a heart to get harder and stronger, but sometimes, a little crack appears like today and I spend a half an hour or so being mad at God and not understanding why animals, who are wholly good, have to suffer.

I don’t have an answer or an upbeat ending except to think that all the years I’ve spend in church I’ve heard Jesus’ quote that “in my Father’s house there are many mansions”.  I don’t want a mansion.  What I’m desperately hoping for is a big beautiful barn where the souls of all the precious creatures that I’ve lost are finally safe, happy and whole.

Never Too Old To Party

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Last Sunday we had a really rockin’ sermon on finding time.  I say rockin’ because we now go to “church lite” which comes complete with a rock band and disco lights.  I can’t complain about the content because our pastor delivers the most loving, funny, informative sermons I’ve ever heard.  I just miss the old hymns with all four stanzas in three quarter time, with the music director making those Baptist music gang signs as we sing.

This message pertained to how we live our lives and use our time.  In it he quoted a book by a woman who has worked in hospice for years.  The book is all about the regrets of the dying.  Of course, everyone wishes they’d lived their lives differently and used their time for different things other than work.  This caused the Goose to roll his eyes a bit and ask who would have paid for things if he hadn’t worked so hard, but the rest of us got a lot out of it.

I had already been thinking of this and have been trying to have more fun and less stress.  The Goose will be really be rolling when he gets to this line because, apparently, I have a stress free life anyway.  I am less stressed because I’m made that way.  I am optimistic, usually see the bright side (except for those sad dark weeks of January) and know things will usually turn out okay.  Still, it’s easy to slide into the drudgery of everyday life.  Most mornings, my friend the Trophy Wife will call to see what i’m up to.  Every day, I mean every single solitary day, we say the same dialogue:

Good morning!

What’s up?

Nothing, cleaning up the kitchen, you?

Same.

How does this happen?

Because no one knows where anything goes but me.

Same here, or to paraphrase, word to your mutha.

It’s said by every woman everywhere at exactly the same time.  While men in other countries are simultaneously bowing toward Mecca, woman are muttering “why can’t anyone put anything where it goes?”. Someone really should work on getting us synchronized and it’d be a lot more fun.  Maybe someone could add music like they did for that guy who said “hide yo kids, hide yo wife”. .

One of my favorite movie lines is from the Addams Family where someone asks Morticia how things are going.  She replies, shrugging her shoulders, “oh, you know, I just wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish brigade”.  I feel her pain.  There is just no time for anything it seems.  I am not half as busy as I was 10 years ago, but seem to get nothing done.  Saturday night we had three delightful invitations, all would have been great, but 8:00 saw both the Goose and me, in our jammies, in the bed, watching mindless tv.  This just is not right.

This sermon has made me renew my efforts for fun with great devotion.  I’m really not sure what he was going for was that we try to party more, but that’s what I’m taking from it.  This year, I’m going to have more fun whether my house is straight or not.  While I am going to continue to berate my children into cleaning up their mess, I’m not going to restrict them from having friends over until a 24 hour “clean quarantine” period has passed after maid day.  I’m going to sit in my yard, drink more wine and watch my animal kingdom cavort.  I may or may not pull out old prom dresses, or I might try something new.  This might be the year for big hats. I’m going to go OUT, into the big world, after 8:00 on some weekend nights. I’m going to wear my good shoes in the rain and not save them until my dog chews them up.  I will use my grandmother’s crystal every time I have a pretty drink and sometimes just when I’m having water.  I will visit friend’s houses and not look at the clock, feeling the need to pull a “homing pigeon” and run home to see that a stray crumb has not fallen on my floor.  There might be days when I don’t make my bed, but most likely not as I want to enjoy life, not live like someone from 16 and Pregnant.

I am NOT going to lie around, in my lovely lavender bed jacket from Neiman Marcus (take heed, Cricket, the one that matches my purple earrings) and not have any (more) wild secrets to tell my hospice nurse.  I want her scandalized enough to be unable to look me in the eyes.

World beware, I’m pulling out some stops.

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I Love _____________

I just read a book that left me with two interesting ideas.  In the book, anyone with a pain, a wound, cancer, any kind of hurt really, experienced a phenomenon in which the pain would shine a light or glow.  Sounds kind of ridiculous, but, as I read, I adjusted to the silly thought and I started to think what a great idea this would be.  So many nights, as I rub on my Ben Gay, I tell the Goose that I wish he could feel how my knees hurt.  I think it would make us all so much more sympathetic.  The worse the pain, the brighter the light.  It would allow us to know what was going on inside those who we perceive as just jerks.  I can’t get this out of my mind.  It has caused me to question the snippy Kroger bagger, the complete ass of a teacher that has made both The Boy and me smack our hands to our heads.  It might explain those driving 10 miles under the speed limit in front of me.  Honestly, I have been a little bit nicer having considered this.

The other great thing that came out of the same book has caused a lovely trend in my own house.  I should have saved it to do around Valentine’s Day, but I couldn’t wait.  The man in the book left a declaration of love for his wife each and every day.  Not a big “I love you, you are my soul, my spirit” kind of mushy crap, but a lighthearted thought that let her know he noticed her.

Yesterday morning I left one for the Goose that said “I love the way your hands look”.  It’s true.  He could be a hand model.  I’ve never seen more beautiful hands but when, in our real life, am I going to look at the man and tell him that?  He would leer at me or roll his eyes.  Those of us with a man can well imagine the comeback comment. This was just a fun way for me to tell him that I’ve always thought he has pretty hands.  He turned it over and wrote to me that he liked my cute little nose.  The Goose has never, in great inebriation or in passion, mentioned my nose, especially as a “cute little nose”, although I guess it is a little cute.  Today, when I was at the grocery store, my most hated of chores, I thought about this and laughed out loud in the nut isle.  It has made me happy.

To my kids, it’s hard to say “I love your crazy sense of humor” without following it up with “but your room is no laughing matter”.  It is causing me to just say something nice without starting to whine and rattle like an angry tea pot about their cloud of mess that follows them around.  Today I told Cricket that I love that she loves school supplies.  That kid, a junior in college, can still get into a happy twist over new pens and notebooks.  She left me one that said “I love that you don’t wear mom jeans and that you smile when you’re yelling at someone”.

I love that the Goose says to me every day “this is my idea of the day”.  They’re not always great ideas, but I love that he has them and that he shares them.  He probably didn’t know I enjoy that as I usually just say “uh-huh”.

I love that Cricket thinks Peeps are the height of fine desserts.

This is a chance to tell my loved ones the quirky things I love about them that makes them interesting without having to make a big lovey-dovey smushy deal about it.  Wouldn’t it be fun if this trend took off?  I’d love to tell my friends the little quirks that make me love them. I love that the Empress twirls her hair when she talks, that the Trophy Wife draws out her “s” sound at the end of a word when she’s still thinking about what she’s saying and it makes it sound more important and sort of delicious, like a cookie.  I love the way the Sweet Talker says “awww” every time I mention any animal, just like I would, and gets a wistful look in her eyes, wishing she could get her hands on them.

I wish my parents were still here so I could tell them how much I love that they always held hands and that my mother’s favorite exclamations were “Land o Goshin” and  “Jumpin‘ Jesophat”.  That still cracks me up.   I love that their house smelled like Lemon Pledge and coffee.

Next month, I will start yelling about the mess again, but this month, I’m going to really enjoy all this mushy stuff. I think, in the midst of this gloomy weather and winter misery, it could make everyone a little happier.

Right and Wrong

I have a deeply ingrained sense of right and wrong.  This doesn’t mean my feelings of right and wrong are always in line with the rest of the world, just that my own personal Jiminy Cricket is always running his mouth.

I’m sure this was instilled by the True Southern Lady.  She never swore or used “ugly” language.  This is why I feel a mild sensation of a ghostly switch across my bottom when I do.  I feel this a lot.  I need to cut back on that.  I do not feel guilty for speeding.  I love to drive and love to do it fast.  I think there are many, very many, TONS of rules out there that need to be broken.  We have become a society of people who just stand in line and follow rules.

I’ve never stolen anything that has caused me to feel guilty, except once.  Oh, I’ve switched around the baby Jesuses (is this the plural for Jesus?) from people’s manger scenes from time to time in my past.  There’s nothing wrong with a little biraciality when it comes to Christmas and everyone ended up with a Jesus so I didn’t feel guilty about that.  I have, on occasion, come home with little expresso spoons, eh, and maybe a cup or two, from fancy restaurants.  I don’t know how this happens but the Goose watches me like a hawk while paying the bill now.  Perhaps I have an allergic reaction to their wine and the restaurants are, indeed, to blame.

The terrible theft that caused me heartache, though, occurred in my hometown of Tucker, GA.  I was with a boy, probably not behaving, when the thought formed in our brains that we MUST be on top of the old drug store on main street.  Shimmying up a drainpipe, I achieved this goal and then, for reasons not remembered, I plucked a 40 pound goose perched upon the sign there.  Not a real one, but a giant likeness of one. I then carted it back down and took it home.  During the night, the flush of the heist wore off.  I started to feel guilty, really guilty.  I couldn’t sleep.  Was this goose someone’s special goose?  Was it a family heirloom?  The next morning, I arose and took $25, and left it on the store’s doorstep, along with the kidnapped goose.  Years later, I saw that the store had moved across the street and the goose was now enshrined in a glorious victorian window.  Probably to guard from hellions like me, whose father had to once return 23 traffic cones, of varying colors and heights, and a “no parking” sign back to the Dekalb County DOT one Saturday.

That was wrong.  But I feel, that if one were to take a nail or something sharp, and jam it under the tires of a hunter’s truck while he’s out killing, that wouldn’t be wrong, although MY Goose could not know about it or he would lock me away.  Seeing a dog tied up on a rope, outside in all weather is good reason to participate in a canine jail break.  Also, although I feel lying is wrong in almost any situation, telling one’s husband that their young child ran into the side of the car with his bike to keep from having to explain the real story probably falls into a gray area.  A very light gray area.  One more thing, in telling someone the truth about their outfit, the only thing acceptable to say to anyone about their looks, the ONLY thing, is, “aww, you look cute!”.

What is wrong out there is not being a friend, not being polite and respectful and just not caring when someone’s hurting, not listening when someone tries to explain what’s going on.  The one thing I always hope I’m doing right is being a friend.  Now, I might be the friend who bails you out, but more than likely, I’ll be the one, sitting beside you, sharing my lipstick so we’ll look good in our mug shots.

What would be really good is if everyone stopped worrying over these ridiculous little rules of right and wrong,  no toy guns, no gum in school, no running in the halls, no shouting, no impolitically correct terms, and started worrying about doing something NICE.  For my New Year’s resolution, I’m going to go out of my way to do something nice for someone every day.  At least I can offer them a lovely little cup of espresso.

Hey, Move Over, Will Ya?

I know I’ve ranted about this before.  This blog is bound to offend lots of people, but it needs to be said. There is something wrong with women driving minivans.  Their rage knows no bounds. 

I’ve been a runner for years.  I’m not fast, but I can go a long way for a long time.  I love it.  It keeps me sane.  Sometimes, I’ll be running along and the sun will break through the clouds, something really spectacular will shuffle through on my earplugs and I will have to try very hard not to break into song and dance right there on the road.  When I run, my heart, like the Grinch, grows three sizes.  I love everyone. I become euphoric.  I love the transvestite on the corner.  I love the old men watering their lawns, fat lazy beagles by their sides.  I wave at women waiting by their mailboxes for the school bus to bring their babies home.  I love that the UPS lady always grins and yells “you’re crazy, girl!”.  I grin like a fool at passing cars.  I find my brain works faster and I think about a million things at once.  In other words, I get happy. 

The one thing, other than pitt bulls surprising me on the road, that really harshes my mellow, is women, usually driving the dreaded minivan.  

I know they’re pissed off by this.  Surely they are in transportation hell.  I sympathize with them because this cannot be a good environment.  These are angry women, late to girl scouts, with pads of paper stuck to their dash boards, mom jeans and sensible haircuts.  Their vehicles are decorated with those most hated little stickers on their windows, you know the ones, with the little stick figures depicting the entire family, what sport their kids play (dear Lord, most likely Upward sports where no one loses and there is no score) and mouse ears if they’ve been to Disney World.  For some reason these women refuse to share the road.  I know this must surely be a documented fact that other runners have noted.  

Several times I’ve been forced to jump into a ditch because one of these mommys believes the road is hers and hers alone.  They refuse to budge and inch. Happened again just today.  Their mouths set in a grim line, their backs hunched over the steering wheel, whirlwinds of papers, worksheets and wipes whipping around their heads in a tornado created by the air conditioner cooling them in their overheated PTA sweatshirts.  

This doesn’t happen with any other demographic.  A man, for instance, would never do this.  Southern men, especially.  A southern man is usually driving a truck for one thing.  He’s driving slowly and looking for any good excuse to waste some time.  The average southern man will slow down and do an exaggerated double take.  Not getting a good enough look, he will then examine a female runner through his side window.  He’ll wave, shout something, and move as far over into the other lane as possible to give her room.  That’s because, even if a southern man is trying his best to get a glimpse of a side boob, he will remain polite because his mama taught him how.  He will then continue to check out the rear view all while ensuring the runner is safe.  How many times has a man stopped when I’ve been in a tight spot with a dog that won’t leave me alone and he’s gallantly stayed until I was safely by?  Lots of times.  Not too long ago I was really in a bad place and tried to wave a woman down to help me.  She slowed, observed my situation and then just drove on.  What the heck?  

A southern man will usually give a good wave, a whoo-hoo, or even a damn, baby, all while smiling and wishing you well.  Since I’ve gotten old, I don’t get the whoo-hoo or the damn, baby all that much.  I’m sorry for all the times I looked disdainfully at someone hooting and hollering.  It’s kinda sad when it’s over. 

My point here is that someone should be looking at these minivan driving moms for unsolved crimes.  I can see that they’re furious.  They’re pushy and they darn sure don’t want any other women exercising or feeling good about themselves.  They have formed an army that uses the innocuous titles that slip by unnoticed.  PTA, Homeschooling Moms Association, Team Moms.  Don’t be fooled by this.  They’re out there, they’re angry, and they already own the roads. 

Kind Hearted Souls

Recently I read a story about a deer stuck in a pond.  The story ran in my favorite online newspaper, Cumming Patch.  I mention this because they run my blogs and it would behoove everyone to pull them up and read them over there. (Those of you who remember Petey Pablo, disregard any similarity to “I’d like to give a shout out to Segram’s Gin – because I drink it, and they’re payin’ me for it”.)

The story was about a young doe trapped in a retention pond.  Workers noticed her stuck in the frigid water, left her over the New Year’s holiday, and then called emergency services to come and rescue her on Wednesday.  This leaves me speechless.  At least someone called someone sometime and the little lady was finally pulled from the water and it is said she ran off, gratefully, into the woods.

I’m surprised I didn’t get the call on this one.  I was out of town and wasn’t answering the phone, though, if they did call.  I get a call from the county animal control, the police or someone with an animal emergency almost every day.  Geese with broken wings, opossums in a drain pipe, fawns in a fence.  It’s impossible for me to say no and but when I am called to come and collect something, say a pack of coyotes,  I do sometimes answer these people with the statement “I’m just one girl”.

What I started out to do is raise babies, not really rescue the big guys.  Still, my entire family has lived the last ten years in the middle of creature crisis.  Years ago, my son, The Boy, once held a giant vulture in his lap all the way to a baseball game, played the game and then was forced to hold him again on the way home.  It’s a lot to ask of an 8 year old.  We once had such a rambunctious young buck in the car that it took both of my kids to hold him still in the back seat, ducking hooves, until we could get him home and look him over.  We lost a baby opossum in the Ritz Carlton at the beach and all hell ensued until we found her. The first time my friend, The Trophy Wife met my little boy he had two tiny fang sized scabs on the sides of his nose.  When she asked him what happened he explained that he was bitten by a snake.  He then went on to tell her that his mother asked him to hold still with the dangling snake on his nose while she went to get a camera.  Amazingly, she still became my friend.  We’ve traveled with ground hogs, squirrels, raccoons, you name it.  If they needed to be fed, they went along with us. It’s been a trip, to say the least.

I love the stories in the news that end up like this one about the deer.  If you google animal rescue stories, there are great ones every day.  From people taking in stray dogs to countries building land bridges over freeways so wildlife can cross without injury.  My own sweet Dad once stole a dog right out of someone’s fence because he saw it being horribly mistreated.  It was the only thing I ever knew of that he did “wrong” and nothing shows more heart.

Raising deer has been one of the best things in my life.  They’re like doberman pinschers in they don’t show much facial expression.  But like the dogs, they are super intelligent, loving and funny.  This is why I get so worked up about deer hunters.  There is no difference in hunting deer and hunting dogs, but I won’t get into that here.  The fawns I’ve raised have had such weird, individual personalities that I remember each one fondly, just like a teacher remembers her students. I remember their names, their quirks and I hope for the best for them out there in the “big free world”.  And if they happen to come across a human, and I hope they don’t, I pray it’s someone with a beautiful soul like these rescue guys.

I think a heart for animals shows there is hope left in humanity.  The thought of these men on the emergency crew, standing in the cold, wading in the freezing water and spending hours to save one sweet little doe, that others would gladly get pleasure from shooting, warms my heart.  It’s my personal believe that one day we’ll all stand before God and he’ll be so happy about the fact that we loved and protected his beautiful creatures that he’ll overlook all the swearing at other drivers, the gossiping about our in-laws and the possible, eh, probable overindulgences with wine. Take a minute and let that opossum or squirrel cross the road.  It’ll do you both some good.

Dating in the Two Thousand Teens

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The Goose and I are coming up on a big anniversary.  The 30th, I said THIRTIETH, anniversary of our first date.  I failed math three times in high school, but this appears  mathematically impossible to me seeing as how I’ll turn 31 in two months.

The truth is, I was 17 at the time.  He was 21.  Seems kinda sketchy now, but looking back, he didn’t ask and I never told and, to his credit, I was out of high school.  To my detriment, though, he did sport a giant porn mustache and why that didn’t scare me away, I’ll never understand.

It took us three years to get married.  I still had another two inches to grow and we had to finish school.  By the time those three years were over, there were still plenty of things we didn’t know about each other and that kept it interesting.

The reason I bring all this up is that kids today (OMG, did I just say that?) just aren’t doing the relationship thing correctly.  When a boy was interested in me, he had to call my house and repeatedly scream his name to my mostly deaf father on the phone to talk to me.  So many times he would come to my room saying something like “Honey, there’s a man from the park calling you.  Did you do something to get in trouble at Stone Mountain again?” only to get to the phone to find out it was someone named Mark, not park.  It kept me on my toes.  Then I would stand and twist myself up in the cord going in one direction and then spin back around the other way while this boy or the other stammered through the details of our upcoming date.  At no point did we discuss our thoughts, feelings or what he was watching on TV (limited to three channels) or what he was eating at the moment.

If there was a new boy on the scene, we couldn’t stalk him on FB, we had to implement actual phone book intel to discern his address and then gather our girlfriends to covertly institute surveillance upon his house.  We had to call friends of friends to hear the scoop on him and that might take days, even weeks.  We had to do it all seeming as if we didn’t care.  The less interested we seemed, the more desirable we became.  Works to this day.

Last night, my son, The Boy and his friends were complaining about girls.  Complaining not about the lack of, but the annoying surplus thereof.

No matter how many times I counsel girls on the genius of “hard to get”, it is impossible to implement this strategy if they are constantly textually active.  Sometimes The Boy will just turn down his phone and turn it over.  When asked why, he’ll say he is caught in a group message with several girls and the conversation is boring and confusing.  Well, duh, girls are mature and smart at 16 and a boy cannot hope to follow along.  My boy still frequently arrives places without remembering to put on shoes.

By the time a teenager has been “talking” to another for a week, they have been texting all day, every day, for the entire time.  They have been texting in their sleep.  They have commented on their clothes, music, who they hate, who’s hot, who they love, their teachers, their parents, their exes and within the span of another week, they are done.  It’s like using the fast forward button. Just when I fall in love with their girlfriends, the relationship has become tired and over and I’m left feeling like I’ve been broken up with!

These kids have no hope.  They know too much about each other to ever find anyone interesting.  Remember how much fun it was going on dates?  The excitement and anxiety? Spending all day lying in the sun, with sun-in in our hair, heating up the hot rollers, using pliers on the zippers of our jeans because they were too tight? I have a callus on my disfigured finger to this day from lying on floor to zip up my Gloria Vanderbilts. Seriously!

Kids don’t go out on dates anymore.  They “hang out”, which means they lie around in my basement, in their pajamas, watching Netflix and eating Bagel Bites. Now how can a girl hope to be alluring and mysterious in Sponge Bob pajamas? Where is the eye liiner, I ask you, where is the strawberry lip gloss?

I was telling the boys last night that dating back then didn’t require a commitment. It was just for fun. I would go on a date with a boy from one school on Friday night and a different boy from another school on Saturday night and my son’s friend looks down and murmurs “there’s a name for that” and they laugh.  After I smacked the living daylights out of him, I reminded him that the entire group of healthy 16 year old boys were home at night playing cards with a mom. No one really listened to me though, they were getting a text.