Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Blog Address

My blog has moved.


Visit this site for all new posts, plus all the older posts that you have read and loved.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds You. Seriously. Don't Do It.

I learned something new over the past several days:  dog bites hurt.

How did I learn this?  My damn dog bit me!

More than once.

There are a lot of things that I accept from having a dog, including peeing in the house, digging in the yard, lots of dirt on the floor, etc.  What I don't accept is my own dog biting me, of being afraid of my dog.

Ray, that little cutie patootie, had aggression issues, specifically with me.  While he never reacted badly with Matt, on more than one occasion, I only had to move towards him to send him into attack mode.

Ray, the little shit that bit me

He would charge across the room at me, like a lion hunting a wildebeest.  And like a lion, he aimed for the knees in an attempt to bring me down.  I hate to think what would have happened had he succeeded....

I am, of course, falling back on humor to defend against the fact that my heart is broken by the way that events have played out.  Because he stayed on such high alert with me, and I stayed on such high alert with him, it became very evident that this was not the right home for him.  And since he and Reynolds were a pair, we made the choice to return them both to the shelter (which was in the contract that we signed when we adopted them, that if there were any problems, we would return them to the shelter rather than give them away).

They were ecstatic to return to the shelter, which has become their home.  One of the volunteers at the shelter has basically adopted them herself, so we know that they are well loved and taken care of.  We are very sad that things did not work out with them, but my knees and my nerves are thankful that they are not under attack every day.

I miss the little guys.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Truth, As I Declare It

I was driving to work this morning when I got behind one of those trucks that hauls gravel or other construction materials.  You know, the ones that have the sign on the back that says "Not Responsible for Broken Windshields"?

source:  http://significantblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/

My thought was (as always when I get behind one of these trucks) "Really?  Just not responsible?"

It would be one thing if the sign read "We will not take responsibility for broken windshields".  That I could handle.  But this categorically states that they Just. Aren't. Responsible. Period.

Are trucking companies the only entities that can make a truth just by stating it?  You know, like Rene Descartes wrote, "I think, therefore I am" is there a corollary that is "I say it, therefore it is the truth"?

Let's ignore the internets for the moment, where truth plays no role, and just ponder the ability to make something A TRUTH just by declaring it to be so.

Here is what I would declare to be my Top 10 Truths (ignoring logic, science and evidence to the contrary):

  1. Politicians are honest, scrupulous individuals, working for the best for the nation.
  2. Chicken McNuggets are 100% real chicken and a nutritious and healthy, anytime meal.
  3. I can drink as much as I want without getting a hangover, becoming obnoxious, talking too loudly or falling asleep by 7:30 PM.
  4. Nice guys finish First (and second and third, but never last).
  5. No one cares about Brangelina.
  6. I have a beautiful singing voice.
  7. There is no such thing as "bathing suit season".
  8. People want to take accountability for their actions.
  9. Restaurants cook their food with the same attention to cleanliness as I do in my own kitchen (which is a lot).
  10. My tax money is being spent with care, forethought and in the manner that benefits the most members of my community, state and nation.
Yep, that'll do it.  And guess what Mr. Dump Truck Driver?  If I ever kick a rock up into your windshield, I am not responsible for any ensuing damage.  Neener neener.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Accidental Eavesdropping Is Never Good

Matt comes home.

me:  I can't wait to tell you what I heard at work today!

Matt:  It's going to have to wait until I change my clothes and I eat.

15 minutes later....

Matt:  Okay, tell me what happened.

me:  So, I'm sitting in the canteen this morning, working on my computer between meetings, and these two guys sit down at a table near me.  And this one guy is talking really loud.  I'm not trying to eavesdrop, really. I don't wanna hear what they're talking about, but he's so loud.  He's talking about going to the doctor, and he's talking and talking.  And  I hear him say, "And then the doctor's holding my genitals."  And I'm like, "Really?"

Matt:  Is that it?  That's kind of a let down.  I was expecting more after such a build up.

me:  Yeah, well, if I could have told you immediately after you came home, it wouldn't have been such a build up.


me:  And the guy that he was talking to didn't say a word.

Matt:  It was probably his boss.  What could he say?  He had to listen.

me:  I mean, the other guy couldn't have cared about this guy's balls?  Right?

Matt:  I don't know.  Maybe it was like a warning.  Maybe the doctor was an eye doctor and the first guy was like, "Dude, don't go see this guy because an eye exam ends up with your dick in his hands."

Excellent point.  I would warn all my girlfriends if I went to the dentist and a speculum made an appearance.  I'm only "opening wide" at one end at a time.


Where is Matt?  I think he's in the bathroom....

Sunday, August 26, 2012


"Love, hell.  That damn stuff stinks." 
 Quote by my Great-Aunt Dot Miller

When we lost our dog, Nick, I didn't know if I would be able to ever (1) get over his loss or (2) welcome another dog into my life.

But as time passed, I really started to miss having a dog around.  Of course, I missed Nick specifically, but I also just missed having a little ball of love around, the noise of nails clicking on the floor, of having something that I could talk to, etc.  And as a couple of hard personal events took place earlier this year, including a big fight with depression, I really missed having a dog that I could just pet at the end of a hard day.

Matt wasn't nearly as keen as I was on getting another dog.  In fact, he really just didn't want one.

And marriage is about compromise and give and take.  I could never bring an animal into a house where Matt wasn't full on board.  A dog totally changes your lifestyle.  It would have been wrong to ask him to change his life because I wanted a dog.

But Matt loves me and saw how often I would look at dog adoption sites.  And talk about dogs.  And draw dogs.  So, last week, Matt started looking at dogs for adoption and found the little cuties that we just adopted.

He not only found them, he encouraged me to meet Ray.  He told me that two dogs would be ok when we found out that Ray and Reynolds were dumped together and were best friends.  He kept reassuring me that he would welcome them with open arms.

As we now have dogs in our house for the first time in over a year, we also are dealing with potty accidents in the house and the smell of dog.  And we clean up pee with vinegar and water and look at each other and talk about what sweethearts these two little monsters are.

Yes, love, that damn stuff, does stink.  Right now, it smells like dog and vinegar and water.  And that's the smell of a husband who understood exactly how important a four-legged little fur-ball was to me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dog Tales

Hey!  My name is Ray.

This is my friend, Reynolds.

Some assholes kicked us out of their truck in front of the Humane Society of Catawba County.  On the asshole scale, I guess they ranked somewhere below 10 because the Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, but still, they were assholes.  Reynolds and I are 8 years old, that's 56 of your human years, so we were these losers' elders.  They treated us with no respect.

Anyway, the people at the Humane Society were righteous.  They took us in, cleaned us up, fed us, had the doc look over our old bones and put our pics out there on the internets for people to see.  No one came by for a long time.  I think it's because they said that I had these things called "cat-racts" which means I can't see.  I think that what they call it is must be wrong, because I'm a DOG, people, not a stupid cat.

That's where our personal heroes come into the story.  Matt Elder (whose last name means that he understands how to respect us senior dogs) is a solid guy.  He saw my picture and showed it to his woman.  Said he thought I would be a good guy to have around the house (me and that dude get each other).

She finally caved.  Called the Humane Society and found out that I don't go anywhere without my main guy, Reynolds.  Matt continued to show how he's the kinda guy you want to be around -- told Cristy that two dogs around the house would be just fine.  She and Matt visited us at our home at the shelter and realized just how cool R-man and I are.  And just like that, we're now at home with M & C.

So, here's the current sitch--C took us to get groomed and our new looks are fine.  My guess is that if we had had such awesome looking hair cuts while at the shelter, we would have been out of there a lot sooner.  (Women love a well-groomed man.)  Lucky for C & M, we were still around so that we could help them not be so lonely.

It's a good thing we came along.  C & M needed us.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Music Debut Then and Now!

I love to sing!  It is one of my favorite things to do.  When I was little, I just knew that I was going to be a famous singer when I grew up.  I loved Olivia Newton-John and Leslie Gore.  Don't know who Leslie Gore is?  She sang "It's My Party" (and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to...) and my mom had her album.  I played it over and over growing up.

I made my singing debut around the age of 8 during my 3rd grade Halloween Carnival talent show.  I sang "Don't Cry Out Loud" for two shows.  I look back at that and wonder that no one laughed Out Loud at an 8 year singing:
Don't cry out loud
Just keep it inside and learn how to hide your feelings
Fly high and proud 
And if you should fall, remember you almost had it all 
I mean, seriously....

My next singing performance was about the same year at the Glendale Springs Missionary Baptist Church, where I sang "Just Build My Mansion (Next Door to Jesus)".  I still remember what I wore -- a blue pleated skirt with a matching blue top, that had a white pilgrim collar with a rose at the throat.  I belted out "It doesn't matter who lives around me, just so my mansion sets near the throne."

But here's the thing:  I can't sing.  Not a lick.  I think I may be tone deaf.  I didn't know it (obviously) during my talent show performance nor during singing in church, but my friend, Melissa Sheets, told me soon after the church performance that I couldn't sing very well.

And other friends continued to give me feedback.  My best friend in high school, Becki, only allowed me to sing on my birthday and prom night, i.e. special occasions.  When I sing now, Matt says that he can hear dogs howling.

Thank goodness for long commutes in my car and my iPhone app Songify.  This app allows me to "produce" myself.  Check it out--I recorded my haiku tribute to Diet Coke.  It rocks.

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Woman Is From Mars

I love to watch true crime TV shows.  I love 48 Hours Mystery, Dateline, Snapped, etc.  I get caught up in the stories, especially the ones where one spouse kills another.

Matt hates that I watch these shows.  He just doesn't understand the appeal.  I'm not quite sure why I love them either.  Part of it, I guess, is that most of the shows are produced and aired after someone has been tried and convicted of the crime, so there is some feeling of vindication and justice, some security in thinking that in the end, people don't get away with committing these crimes (though I know that it does happen, at least on these shows, it usually doesn't).

One day last week, I was watching Deadly Women on Netflix when Matt joined me on the couch and watched (suffered through) the last 15 minutes of an episode.  One of the people on the show was describing the deadly woman being profiled, saying "She used all her feminine wiles to get her way, to get all the things that she wanted."  I looked at Matt and said:

me:  Do I use my feminine wiles to get my way?

Matt: (immediately)  No.

me:  You answered that with no hesitation.

Matt:  You don't even have any feminine wiles.

me:  I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult.

Matt:  It's neither.

me:  Do you want me to have some feminine wiles?

Matt:  What if I say that I do?  What are you going to do?  Read a book?  Watch a video?

Well, yes, smartypants.  I am.  I found a blog that tells me how to use my feminine wiles.  Here it is.  It sounds really stupid, but if I have to, I have to.

How to Use Your Feminine Wiles

How to Use Your Feminine Wiles
By Terry Mulligan, eHow User
Using your feminine wiles to create a spark in a new or existing relationship should not be a bad thing. On a first date, it's refreshing to see the feminine side of a woman. In an existing relationship, it's good to hold on to your feminine side -- but, never in a contrived way. Being an alluring woman should never mean being trashy or dishonest. It should just be a catalyst to sparking a possible attraction.

Things You'll Need (Tap on items you have)


Steps (Tap on step to mark as complete)

    Be mysterious. Only reveal partial information about yourself. Tell your man he's not ready for all of you -- although you wish he was.
    Dress feminine and slightly revealing. Wear slightly revealing clothing like a sweater innocently failing down one shoulder -- never something totally see-through. Wear stilettos -- even with jeans -- if you dare.
    Have a light, flirty touch. Flirting shouldn't be obvious. It should be incidental by a quick, simple, soft touch. It should leave your man wanting more, not overwhelmed with too much upfront contact.
    Speak like a lady. If your date wanted a truck driver, he'd visit a truck stop. Feminine wiles should not have a masculine undertone in speech or word.
    Be a little naughty, but honest and nice. Only suggest what you're able to offer. A little teasing can go a long way but it's only nice to be honest about what you'd like to do.
    Smile, even if when you're not. Everyone wants to share pleasant moments. Even if you're frowning in disagreement or playfully pouting, smile with your eyes -- it shows respect for the man's strength and opinion.

Tips & Warnings

  • Letting light-hearted conversation flow is all part of enjoying each other -- at any stage in a relationship.
  • Being yourself should always be put above trying to stimulate attention.
Uh, does anyone think that last one is little contradictory to the rest of the article?  I do, but I'm going to ignore that "ping" in my head, put on my feminine, flirty clothes, smile with my eyes, be naughty, but keep my language clean and keep some secrets.  And TOTALLY lose my mind in the process. 

I think that I'll just be happy that I'm wile-less.  Matt, I love you, but I can't wile my way around you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Postscript to the Letter to My Husband

Used dirt bike for $2500 that you rode for 90 minutes

Emergency room visit for $16,573.91 that lasted 2 hours

Having something to say to you everytime you want to do something dangerous -- "Do you remember the dirt bike?" -- that lasts the rest of our lives


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Headache Central

I have had a headache for the past four days.  When I have one that lasts more than a day, I am exhausted when it finally goes away, and (dare I say) a bit fearful of it coming back again.  Eventually, I begin to feel like myself again, even though I know that another one is inevitably around the corner.

This is what I feel I look like when I have a headache.  I think that we can all agree that it is a good thing that this isn't reality.

Feels like my head is twisting itself

Several months ago, I was inspired by my headache to write this poem.  It's not much, but I thought I would save it rather than trash it.


Lights are flashing
Hands are shaking
Who lives in my head?
Please stop partying!
Turn down the music and quit jumping on the floor!
Don't you have to work?
I can't believe my mind tenant is so lazy
Here's the deal:  I've sent your resume to some employers
You have to move
I'm evicting you
I'm THE landlord of my head and I want you gone
And I'm keeping the security deposit for punching holes in my walls

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Let's See You Match Me With This

We hardly ever watch network TV in our house, but we have been watching the Olympics since they have been on.  I guess the Olympic-watching crowd is mostly single because I have been overwhelmed by the number of match.com and eharmony.com commercials that come on.  Every time one of these commercials comes on, I think, "I'm so glad that I don't have to date anymore."

Matt tells me that I am the worst dater that he has ever met.  He says that he didn't like me the first, second or third time that he met me.  On our first official date, I remembered that I had a prescription that I had to pick up before the pharmacy closed.  I thought that I was being extremely flexible when I told him that I had to go to the drugstore so we could (1) go together, (2) I could go and he could wait for me at the restaurant or (3) we could call the evening done and talk later.  Matt has said that it wasn't being flexible, it was being the worst date ever.  (By the way, he opted to go with me to the drugstore.  I told him that I could have bought a bunch of yeast infection medicine and foot fungus treatment and then he could call it the worst date ever.)

My bad dating skills aren't the worst around.  Recently, we had a girls' weekend at my mom's house with my mom, aunts and cousins.  During the course of the night, my Aunt Margo told the story about going on a double date with her ex-husband (her boyfriend at the time) and another couple back when they were all in high school.  I can't remember the names of the other couple, and it really doesn't matter, but the story goes that as they were driving through town the other girl yelled, "Stop the car!  I gotta shit!"

Even as I laughed, all I could do was think a couple of things.  First, I was surprised that the teenagers of what I've always thought of as my mom's squeaky clean background would use the word "shit".  Then I kept wondering why the girl (let's call her Jane Doe), why Jane Doe would think that it would be okay to just yell out "I gotta shit".  Did she grow up in one of those houses where talking about that was normal?  Like "I'm thirsty" or "I'm hungry"?  I've never been in a house like that, but surely they exist.  Or maybe she was trying to turn off her date?  I guess we'll never know.

Then my Aunt Bobbie piped up and told us about one time when she was out on a double date.  My Aunt Bobbie worked at the hospital for 30+ years and was working there as a young woman during the time of the story.  She and her companions were out on their date when she realized that she needed to check on a patient that might be released.  She said to them, "We need to run by the hospital so I can check to see if I have a discharge."

I laughed even harder at this story because this would So. Totally. Happen. to me.  I misunderstand people and they misunderstand me all the time.  Just word choice, I guess, and where your head is and their head is.  Like recently, I had to have a colonoscopy.  Which means drinking this nasty stuff called "movi-prep" the night before.  The next day before the procedure, the nurse asked, "Did you get clean from the movi-prep?"  And I said, "Yes, I took a shower this morning, so I don't have any on me."  She said, "No, are you cleaned out?"  Oh, yeah, that too.

And I just realized that my story and my Aunt Margo's story both come back to poo.  Maybe I do know one of those households and it's mine.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

3 Years

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my dad's death.  It's a weird day.  Because in many ways, it's just like any other day.  I've come to work, I'm attending meetings, I'm eating lunch with friends.  Just another day.

But at the back of my mind is a niggle, a little "mind worm" that won't go away, that today is different, that today is out of the ordinary.

I have no idea what I am going to write about, but I just know that I can't let this day pass without marking it somehow.

My personal milestone moment, that 9/11 moment--you know, the moment where everything changes for you and you begin to mark time as "that happened before the event" and "that happened after the event" -- my personal milestone moment happened after lunch when my mom called me at work to tell me that my dad had died earlier that day.  I remember exactly what I said to her.  I remember everything that I did from that point forward that day.  I feel like my life changed at that moment:  before she called, I had two parents; after she called, I didn't have a father anymore.

My dad was one of a kind -- funny, charming, generous, smart, talented, charismatic -- but he wasn't the kind of father that you saw on Andy Griffith or The Cosby Show.  He wasn't around much while I was growing up and hardly at all in my adult years, and as a result my relationship with my dad seemed so very complex while he was still alive.  I spent hours and days feeling mad at, frustrated at, exasperated by, amused by, responsible for, and sometimes even rejected by my father.  These were tough emotions to handle and so I often just didn't handle them -- my response was to isolate myself from my dad for periods of time in order to avoid the "icky" feelings.  My dad, sensing something was wrong, wouldn't do any better job at reaching out to me, so long periods of time could pass without us talking.  (I inherited my avoidance skills from him, as well as a lot of other traits.)

When he died, he and I hadn't spoken for several months.  This has become one of the biggest regrets that I have -- that I let, that we let, our shared habit of avoiding uncomfortable subjects keep us from talking to each other.

Because, what I have realized over the last 3 years is that, in the end, my relationship with my father wasn't as complicated as I allowed it to become.  He loved me and I loved him.  The feelings that he could invoke in me could be complicated, but the love is uncomplicated.

I don't feel guilty anymore for "not being a better daughter".  I am not angry at him anymore for the things that  I think "he should have done".  What I am is sad that we don't have any more time together.  I can still hear his laugh, like it's in my ear.  I can still hear how he said my name when he would first see me, drawing out the first syllable, "Criiiiiii-sty!"  I can see him sitting on the couch, watching TV, with his legs up and crossed, his hands folded up behind his head, his one foot wiggling (I do the same thing).  I miss him.

I think about him a lot, and one of the gifts that I have been given is that I think about him so often on beautiful days.  I delivered an eulogy (click here) for Tom at his memorial service and I used a quote from the Bible to describe how he lived his life:
Psalm 118:24  This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it
Tom lived his life as each day was a day for rejoicing and living fully.  Now, every beautiful, sunny day, this Bible verse automatically pops into my head.  And I think, "I love you, Tom."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"My Dog" Movie Review

I just finished watching and crying over the sweetest documentary on Netflix.  The name of the documentary was My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story and was about just that -- the love between a dog and its human.  (I hate to call us "owners" as we don't really own a dog -- we just get to love them and live in their space for a while.)

The documentary makers interviewed a lot of different celebrities about their dogs and asked them the question:  "Why do people love their dogs?"  And the stories proceeded from there.

I was so struck by how similar my thoughts and feelings about dogs were to these celebrities, people who live lives that are 180 degrees removed from the life that I live.  Yet, dogs seem to be one of the great equalizers, across geography, ethnicity, social strata and economic demographic.  Dogs are wonderful because they don't care who their human is, what their human has succeeded or failed at that day, how much money their human makes, etc.  Dogs just want to be with us.  They are unconditional love in action.

copyright:  Matt Elder
Nick, the winter before he passed
I lost my soul mate dog, Nick, last year to prostate cancer.  I miss him everyday.  I miss saying good-bye to him every morning as he would follow me to the front door to watch me leave.  I miss seeing him run to say "hello" to me each day as I would come home.  I miss his presence.

In the documentary, Greg Louganis talks about how some of his HIV treatments made him really sick.  Some days, the only reason that he got out of bed was to take care of his dog.  I can totally relate.  I went through a really bad depression not long after I adopted Nick from a rescue shelter.  There were days where I spent the majority of the day in bed, and if it weren't for Nick, the necessity to feed him, to let him out, to take care of him, I wouldn't have gotten out of bed at all.  And Nick seemed to know when he needed to put his head in my lap, and nudge me, as if to say, "Wanna talk?"  And I did.  I have told several people that Nick saved my life and I wasn't exaggerating.

In the documentary, the crushing statistic is given that 6 to 8 million dogs are in shelters around the US (the movie was released in 2010, so it's still fairly up-to-date), and nearly 50% of those dogs will be euthanized.  That was when I started to cry.

Let's all go adopt a dog!  I don't mean that we all collectively adopt one dog and share it, that wouldn't really help, but each household go out and adopt one dog each.  And then spay or neuter it.  And then experience the uncomplicated love that comes from a dog.

I have to get Matt to agree to this plan for our house, but he doesn't care about your house, so I'm really looking forward to hearing about all your new dogs!  Send me pictures.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Doodle Dee, Doodle Dum

I go to a lot of meetings at work.  Some days, it feels like I do nothing but sit in different meeting rooms around the building.  On good days, the topics are different.  On difficult days, the topics sound eerily similar, and an 8-hour day can seem like that movie Groundhog Day -- a day that lasts forever.  Or actually, I guess, it would be a day that plays itself out over and over and over again.  Whatever, let's just say that those days blow.

The ability to amuse myself during l-o-o-o-n-g meetings is one of the only ways that I am able to keep my sanity and my patience.  When the topic is something that doesn't concern me, I have to find a way to recharge my batteries while sitting still.  Recently, my iPad has helped me refresh and renew my mind with my Noteshelf app that lets me doodle (while appearing to be taking notes).  I am NO artist, but I wanted to share my recent artistic endeavors.

Do you notice a theme?  I want a dog in theory (not so much in reality), so I spend a lot of time thinking about getting a dog.  Right now, I apparently spend a lot of time drawing dogs, too.  The dog above has a really big tongue ("the better to lick you with, my dear...")

The next one is my favorite:  I drew it during one meeting while we were talking about a topic that had been discussed ad nauseam.  i.e. we were beating a dead horse.  You are welcome to print out my dead horse for use in your own meetings.  (I've been asked what the red blotch is in the middle of the horse -- it's his intestines to indicate that he's dead -- I was a little afraid that the word "DEAD" wasn't enough.)

Next time you see me on my iPad, you can ask yourself "Is she taking notes or is she creating another Doodle Masterpiece?"  Only time will tell...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Mother

Today is my mom's birthday.  I called her tonight to wish her "Happy Birthday" and she was getting ready to have dinner with some friends.

Growing up, my sister, cousins and I used to have the best birthdays.  They weren't huge parties and they didn't involve huge cakes or mounds of presents, they just included small parties at my Mamaw and Papaw's house.

Wendi, Matt, Birthday Girl JJ, Cristy & Ashleigh
On the Sunday closest to the birthday, after all the lunch dishes were washed and the kitchen table was cleared, the birthday cake was brought out and placed before the guest of honor.  The rest of us gathered around and sang "Happy Birthday", while our aunts and Mamaw looked on, then we got down to eating cake and opening presents.

Ashleigh, Birthday Girl Cristy and Matt

Aunt Baby, gamely wearing her headdress

I don't remember any of us having big parties where lots of people were invited, where school friends came, where venues were rented out to entertain all the attendees.  Instead, I remember these simple Sundays at Mamaw's with just my family.

One birthday that stands out was either my cousin Matt's or my cousin Wendi's.  I know it was one of them because the mother of the birthday girl or boy was responsible for bringing the cake and on this birthday, the cake had had an accident.  My Aunt Mary June (Wendi & Matt's mom) had put the cake on the roof of the car while packing the car, unlocking the door (back in the day of inserting a key into a door lock), etc. and she forgot it was on the roof.  She drove off and the cake fell off.

The damage was minimal.  We only had to pick a little bit of gravel out of the icing before we cut into the cake.  We kids thought that was hilarious.

Front:  Birthday Girl, JJ, and Cristy
Back:  Mamaw, Aunt Margo, Mom and Aunt Baby
(One of my FAVORITE pictures--love my Mamaw in a birthday hat)

Birthday Girl, Ashleigh
If it wasn't our birthday, we didn't expect to get any gifts.  Only the birthday boy or girl had presents to open, and the rest of us were okay with that.  But, the birthday guest of honor usually let the others play with his / her presents.

I hear about the parties that parents throw their kids these days and I'm a little astounded.  They seem like very complicated and expensive.  But I don't have children, so this is a current mystery that I just cannot answer.

But I can say with complete confidence that these birthdays of my youth were wonderful days, full of laughter, happy expectations, and feelings of being special for the day.

I hope that my mom is having as wonderful day today as she provided for me all those many birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Letter to My Husband

Dear Matt,
I love you.  I love you more than I have ever loved anyone.  But I don't understand you.

You are so smart, and funny, and thoughtful.  You are a planner, a researcher, a super-reviewer of the details; you are my "go-to" person when I want to know which car to buy, which vacation to take, which restaurant to try -- you usually think things through so much that sometimes I think you can get a case of "paralysis of analysis."

You think about what's healthy for you.  We buy organic milk and fruits and vegetables.  You avoid OTC medications.  You avoid artificial flavors and sweeteners.  You are a very careful driver, always wearing your seat belt, driving defensively.

I understand all this.  Here's what I don't understand:

You, who won't wear antiperspirant because of the aluminum in it (even though there haven't been any reported cases of widespread death by antiperspirant), bought a dirt bike this past weekend (even though there have been many reported cases of injury and death by dirt bike).

First 20 Minutes on Bike
I am amazed at what you will do TO your body despite what you won't PUT IN your body.  Did you know that you are no less vulnerable on the outside than you are on the inside?

And when you had a wreck about 30 minutes after this picture was taken, it was scary just how vulnerable you were.
How Things Could Have Been
source: tim.2wgroup.com
No, this isn't you.  I stole this picture from the internet.  But it could have been you.  And then what would you have done?  Especially without any antiperspirant on underneath all that plaster?

So, Matt, my husband, my love, my soul mate -- are you any more cautious with what you will do to your body now than you were before?  Can I mark sky diving, race car driving, diving with Great White Sharks, hang gliding and all those other X-treme hobbies that make my head explode off your To-Do list?

Or am I still destined to not understand?  Either way, I love you.  But I let me know if I need to increase our Flexible Spending in our Health Account next year.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here's Your Sign

I got this tweet the other day that said "God Prefers Kind Atheists Over Hateful Christians?" and had this picture attached.
 source: http://www.purechristiangraphicdesign.com/god-prefers-kind-atheists-hateful-christians/

I have thought about this a lot since I saw it, trying to decide exactly what I think about it.  And for me, there really isn't an easy answer.

There are few things that make me more upset than self-professed Christians that act like they don't even like their fellow humans.  They judge, they ridicule, they hold grudges, they are selfish with their time and material possessions.  They do not act like Christ at all.  These Christians are the ones that inspired Mahatma Gandhi to say
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ"
When I think about these people, I wonder how anyone chooses to follow Christ if these people are their example.  I can't help but think that the God that I have read about in the Bible is very hurt and disappointed by the people who proclaim to believe in Him but act so opposite to His commands.

Back to the sign.  I can't say that I believe that God prefers people who actively choose not to believe in Him to hateful Christians, as disappointed as He may be.  I would rewrite the sign to read as follows:

God is as hurt by hateful Christians as by atheists

Either one isn't the path that He would choose for us.

One thing is for sure:  This sign made me think and that is a good thing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kindergarten Memories

I met one of my good friends for dinner the other night (*waves* Hi, Nikki!) and one of the things that we talked about was her oldest child starting kindergarten this fall semester.  She's excited and proud and nervous (about him potentially riding the bus) all at once.

Waking up for the first day of Kindergarten
I started to think about my first day at school, and yes, that included riding the school bus.  Mrs. McConnell was my kindergarten teacher and I remember walking into the school room full of other kids.  Here, I met Marla Miller, Scott Bare, Jimmy Thompson and Lance Shumate.  I remember Marla being the first one to talk and play with me (I was too shy to talk to another kid first myself).  I remember Jimmy Thompson kissing Vicky Barker and being shocked (I was a strict rule follower and kissing definitely didn't follow the rules of the classroom).

And on the bus home that afternoon, our neighbor's son, Jamie, who was in 7th grade, took my hand and walked me up the bus aisle and helped me climb off the bus.
Waving "Good-bye" on my first day

Marla, Jimmy, Scott and Lance were friends until we graduated from high school.  With the creation of Facebook, I actually know a lot about what is going on in the lives of many of these same people.  Where they live, what they do for a living, if they have children, even what their children look like.  Kindergarten is definitely a watershed moment in a life.  A great beginning -- to make friends that can last for the rest of your life, to begin the journey of learning, to begin the process of your world opening up beyond the confines of your family.  I'm a little jealous that I don't have any such "big Milestone" moment left in my life.

As I look at these pictures, however, I think that my days are actually not that much different than they were back in kindergarten.  I look pretty much the same when I wake up (no "bright-eyed", morning person for me).  Then I wave good-bye to Matt and head to work.  Sometimes, though, work feels like spending my day with 5 year olds, fighting for attention and arguing over toys.  "I didn't do it.  He did it."  "No, she did it."  "It wasn't us." echo around the halls.  The only thing missing is nap time.  And we aren't as cute with milk mustaches.

And like in kindergarten, whether I end the day with my name in the column for making good decisions or in the column for being a poopy head is entirely up to me.  I don't wanna be a poopy head so I'll do my best not to be.  Unless someone kisses me, then all bets are off.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hunger Made Me Write This

I have been thinking a lot about food lately.  OK, actually, food is ALL I have been thinking about lately.

I'm in my 40s, and a slow metabolism, gene pool, unhealthy eating and dislike of exercise have caught up with me.  I can no longer ignore the mirror -- it's time to diet.

The breaking point was last week at work.  I was meeting with someone when a late attendee (whom I had never met) walked in, looked around, and asked, "Is this the Weight Watchers meeting?" while making eye contact with me.

While he may have meant it as a joke (A POOR ONE), it was a figurative slap on the fat ass to get my eating habits in order.  So, I joined Weight Watchers.  (That is irony.)

When chubby cheeks were cute
Now I am hungry all the time.  I think about food all the time and my self-esteem isn't at its highest at the moment.

I worry about my nieces and the images and the pressure that they receive to be skinny in order to be considered beautiful.  Television, movies, magazines, Internet -- the list goes on and on.  On a good day, I can almost convince myself that my outside doesn't decide the kind of person that I am.  On a bad day, I don't even try to argue that point with myself.

How does a pre-teenage or teenage girl have the ability or maturity to have the same argument?

And as I feel myself getting all outraged about the unrealistic size and beauty expectations placed on women in our society, I feel guilty that I went to see "Magic Mike" this afternoon, a movie that blatantly exploits nice looking men.  Am I being a hypocrite by turning around and gawking at men that don't look anything like 99% of the men in America?

Screw it.  Those men were hot.  And I think that I burned some calories watching them.  And I didn't eat any popcorn.  I feel no shame.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Zombie Talk

Matt and I spent the weekend watching a Walking Dead marathon.  So, we've spent an enormous time talking about zombies.  Here are just a sample of some of our conversations this weekend.

Conversation #1

me:  I want you to just go ahead and kill me if the zombie apocalypse starts.  I don't want to be alive for the post-apocalypse stuff.

Matt:  What?  You don't think that you would have anything to offer the rest of the survivors?

me:  Are you kidding?  I would just be a whiny bitch.

Matt:  Come on.  You'd be able to contribute something.

me:  No, really.  My anti-depressant would run out and then I would just end up wanting to stay in bed all the time and there would be NO air conditioning and then I would really be a bitch.

Matt:  Yeah, that wouldn't be good for anyone.

Conversation #2

Matt:  I don't think some of the stuff on the show is very realistic.

me:  Like what?

Matt:  Like the drug stuff.  Like they didn't take all the drugs from the drug store at once.  When the zombie attack broke out, why didn't they go to the drug store, and take all the drugs then?  Why would they keep going back to the drug store?  Get it all at once.

me:  True, but there would be stuff that you just know that you won't use.  Like prenatal vitamins.

Matt:  Yeah, I could see that.

me:  And Viagra.  I would totally skip getting Viagra and Cialis.  I mean, I would be like, "I can't have him distracted a whole weekend--we got the dead walking around.  He's got to be concentrating on that."

Matt:  Good point.

Conversation #3

me:  You know, that one woman on the show supposedly loved her sister sooooo much, but I don't buy it.  I tell you right now, I love my sister so much that I wouldn't even let her turn into a zombie before I shot her.

Matt:  That's sweet.

me:  That's what I should have written in her birthday card.

Matt:  It isn't too late.

me:  Yeah it is.  Her birthday was weeks ago.

Matt:  Send her a postscript birthday card.  Tell her that you need to express how much you love her.  "Just wanted you to know that I love you so much that I would shoot you in the head before you could even turn into a zombie"  Happy postscript birthday.

me:  Love, Cristy.

Matt:  That's love.  I think she would like it.

I think that the conversations above prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that what my mama used to tell me is untrue:  you CANNOT turn your brains to mush by watching TV all the time.  We actually spent the whole weekend watching shows about mushy brains and we are still able to have these well-thought-out, highly articulated conversations.  Mama, you're forgiven.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

100 to Caption This Photo

I hope you didn't think that I meant $100--I meant 100 chances.  Heck, take a 1000.  We don't have $100 for such things.  What do you think we are--1%ers?

Matt and I were driving home the other night through downtown Statesville when he pointed out this tree to me.  I had to go back today and take a picture.  I challenge you to a caption-off.

Here are my submissions:

  1. Is that a log in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
  2. Just lookin' for a knot-hole
  3. Tree in front of Statesville Courthouse
I mean, seriously, don't you think that grounds people for the county would have noticed and cut this off (an arbor castration, so to speak)?  Or maybe, just maybe, Iredell County has grounds people with the best sense of humor.

So, yes, Matt and I are sometimes inappropriately immature.  (Though I think that might be redundant, since immaturity is almost always inappropriate.)  Scratch that.  Matt and I are sometimes inappropriately immature, but we giggled for several miles about this one.

Well done, grounds men, well done.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

$1.50 the First Mile, $0.50 Every Mile After

Matt and I just went into Statesville for some frozen yogurt.  On the way home, a cab turned in front of us onto our road.  We live in the s-t-i-c-k-s (definition of s-t-i-c-k-s here), so a cab is a very unusual sight.  In fact, that was the first cab that I have ever seen in Statesville.

Our conversation as we followed said cab went something like this:

Matt:  I hate to sound mean, but I bet that cab is going to that nasty-ass trailer park.

me:  Why is that mean?  Because you assume that it is picking up someone who lost their license?  Picking up someone that is drunk?  Bringing someone some more beer?

Matt:  I'm pretty sure that cabs won't bring you beer.

me:  Oh, yeah, they will.  We had one cab in West Jefferson that I remember growing up.  Joe's Cabs.  And I remember hearing a story about somebody...shit, I can't remember who...who would call Joe and say "Hey, Joe, would you go by the Backstreet and pick up some beer and bring it to me?"

Matt:  And Joe would?

me:  Well, hell yeah, for money.


Matt:  Wow, he would deliver beer.


me:  In New York City, that's called "concierge service".

Matt:  What's it called in Jefferson?

me:  Joe's Cabs.

The cab did turn into the nasty-ass trailer park*, but I don't know if there was any beer delivery or not.

*Disclaimer:  The trailer park is nasty-ass because it's nasty-ass, not because there are trailers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Rotisserie Chicken Led Me Down a Weird Path Tonight

Tonight, I did what many people do on their way home each day and stopped at the grocery store to buy our dinner. And like most people (I think), I changed my mind about what we were eating while walking the aisles.

The rotisserie chickens had just finished cooking and they smelled great.  One chicken to go.

After I got home and started to get the meat off the chicken, all I could think about was one of my favorite books The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls.  If you haven't read it--GO READ IT NOW!  Anyway, it's the author's memoir of how she grew up, in a less than privileged (or safe) environment.  As she recounts some incidents that seem horrible in their neglect, abuse and / or poverty, you sometimes find yourself laughing with her at the absurdity of the situations.

One of my favorite quotes from the book comes when she is telling about the time she is invited over to another girl's house.  The girl was the daughter of the "town whore", Ginnie Sue.  Jeannette couldn't pass up the invitation to see inside a whore's house, so she gladly accepts the invitation.

The house wasn't gaudy like she expected, but she was thrilled to see a big, cooked chicken on the table.  Ginnie Sue asks Jeannette if she knows how to pick a chicken clean and Jeannette assures her that she can.  And her chicken-picking skills impress Ginnie Sue because she tells her that is the best chicken-picking she's ever seen.

Jeannette spent a lot of her childhood hungry, so the important lesson she took away from her day at Ginnie Sue's house is one of my favorite quotes:  "One thing about whoring:  It put chicken on the table."

So, naturally, as I'm up to my elbows in rotisserie chicken, all I can think about is "One thing about whoring...."

And unlike Jeannette, I can't pick a chicken clean.  Exhibit A:

Chicken as picked as it will get 
I don't think that is a skill that I ever learned.  And I'm OK with that.

There are lots of things that I saw my grandmothers and mom do, however, (like chicken-picking....you knew that I would get to my point eventually) that I wish that I knew how to do and I wonder if it's too late.  For example:

  1. Make biscuits using Crisco
  2. Quilt
  3. Can vegetables
  4. Sew on a sewing machine
None of these things are necessary to daily life, I know this, but I think that I would feel a little more connected to the generations that came before me if I could do these things.

And I would be more prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Once Was Blind, But Now I See..

One of my favorite hymns is "Amazing Grace".  I love the lyrics.  There is the simplicity in the message that grace is at the root of all that I have been given, but also profoundness in that grace is "sweet" like a sound, can bring me fear, but also calm my fears, and grace can "lead me home."  And one of my favorite lines in the song is in the first stanza "...was blind, but now I see."

I can't imagine being blind, but whenever I sing this line or listen to it sung, I always think about the wonder and amazement someone would have to feel from going from darkness to light.  What are the emotions that would tumble over themselves as the world went from this

to this:
I think that I would feel like I was a different person, living in a different world.

I while I haven't literally had my eyesight restored, I feel like I am now a seeing person, where I was once stumbling around blind.

I am not in the depths of depression.

Over the last four months, I have been pulling, clawing, scrabbling, hauling myself out of a pit so deep, black was all I could see.  And for the last two of the four months, life has been different -- brighter, lighter, freer -- dare I say, more fun?

This disease with which I live is a monster, a lying, cold-hearted, selfish disease that has demanded all my energy and attention for many years of my life.  I'm not sure when I first knew that I suffered from depression, but I don't ever remember not being plagued by some of the symptoms of depression, even as a little girl in elementary school.  My ability to manage it and live "depression-free" has varied through the years.  And my ego has played a role in self-delusion that "I have it under control."

The last thing that I had under control during the past three years was my depression.  It was firmly in control--but nobody had yet admitted it.  So, like a puppet regime, I went through the days like I was in charge, maybe fooling no one but myself.  Maybe fooling everyone.  Only those close to me can answer if they were more aware of my condition than I was.

And that is one of the scary, lying, dangerous games that depression plays with you -- it's those mind games she pulls on her victims all the time.  One minute you KNOW you are on top of your game; the next minute, you're questioning if you're competent enough to place your own order at McDonald's.

But this blog isn't about reliving the deep valleys that were landscape of my illness, but to recognize and celebrate the joy that I CAN and DO feel now.  The happy moments that I CAN and DO appreciate daily.  The accomplishments that I CAN and DO take pride in and feel worthy of.

My God has a salvation plan for me that extends beyond this life.  I believe this.  My God has also given me a wonderful gift during this life, however, to feel the awesomeness (I just can't think of a better word) of feeling blind, but finding sight.