Follow by Email

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fathers' Day

My dad was not a Fathers' Day dad. While he always appreciated gestures of love and kindness, he really kind of liked them to happen organically and not because the calendar said it was Fathers' Day, or his birthday, or Christmas. Last year on Fathers' Day, I stressed because I really didn't have the money to drive down to visit him (last summer was tough), and he said, "Don't worry, really. I know you love me!" and that was that. I don't even know what he did that day. Since my brother lives in town and has his own three young children, I assume they spent time hanging out together. It's nice. I didn't think twice about it, because my dad had given up guilt trips years ago. I thought maybe this year things would be different, I could take that Sunday off work and go hang out with my dad.

And now I don't have a dad to hang out with.

The typical, expected things trip me up, of course. Sunday's looming and I work retail (all weekend, in fact). Fathers' Day stuff is everywhere. My mother moved out of our family's home and into one she had built herself just yesterday. I thought about how I'd never stand in the same spots as my father now that another family is living in that house, and I did break down for a few minutes. I was alone, and it was okay. (Crying makes people uncomfortable, even people who love you very much, and I understand the discomfort.) But I'm not as sad as I thought I would be at this point. In August, I was certain the world was going to stop, at least for a couple of days. Now it's just Our Lives, minus Dad.

I've been trying to think of what to do on Fathers' Day this year. My kids will be with their own dad, and I'm sure my spouse and father-in-law will try to take some time together. Now it turns out I'm working that evening, and I think the time between church (which I might skip because reasons) and work will be spent doing things around the house and not thinking about not having a dad. I should call my brother up and tell him Happy Fathers' Day. He is such a loving father to his three kids. I might even tell my ex-husband Happy Fathers' Day since, even though we disagree on a lot, he is also a loving father to our kids, giving them new experiences in the outdoors and ensuring they have a good relationship with their Taiwanese grandparents.

I'm so grateful I had my dad for thirty-six-and-a-half years. I think the only thing worse than missing a parent is having had one who wasn't worth missing. A lot of my adolescence was spent with us yelling and misunderstanding one another, but I spent the 21 years I lived in my parents' home waking up and falling asleep in the knowledge that they loved me just as I was.

If you're estranged from a loved one, no matter who you think is at "fault," I promise you that there is no day like today to bridge the distance. You might not get the response you want. But as the cliche goes, we are not promised tomorrow. Being right isn't always important. When it comes to a parent, child, sibling, or dear friend who might not be what we want them to be, our convictions don't matter nearly as much as being sure they feel our love above all other things. And if you have a dad, tell him you love him...even if he says he doesn't care about Fathers' Day!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Reading Log: Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

I just finished Jeff Chu's Does Jesus Really Love Me? last night.

I enjoyed the book, but not without reservation. I found myself getting angry at him for playing devil's advocate with the Phelps family of Westboro (but I also learned a lot about them that I didn't know). I felt he was taking the easy way out with some of his questions, but then I came to his interviews with Ted Haggard and Jennifer Knapp.

Those two sections alone are worth picking up the book.

Ted Haggard (I'm not even going to try to link to him, so many horrible things were said about the man that you might not find a worthy link) speaks so humbly about grace and acceptance and forgiveness. I found myself tearing up. While he may still be in denial about a couple of things regarding his own sexuality, he absolutely has opened the door to community and grace for anyone. I was expecting a hardened, inflexible wooden man, but Chu paints him in a beautiful light.

Jennifer Knapp is open, intelligent, and wants to help the hurting. Her heart for those who have been cast out, or who fear they may be, is burning brightly. She talks of her coming to faith in college and then her desire to be able to live a full and open life as a Christian and a lesbian.

Chu also interviews a lot of people who, after coming out within the church, eventually left not only church but faith all together. I'm not convinced it is related to one's sexual identity but has more to do with the way people are treated in what are supposed to be "safe spaces." Plenty of fervent believers eventually leave Christianity and move on to something else, or to nothing at all.

 The conclusion is of course Jesus loves you. But church is human, and humans fail. I feel Chu's book should make my fellow Christians strive more for love and acceptance, and return repentance to its proper PRIVATE place.

Summer Reading Log: Stories from Jonestown

As a kid, I had some strange and varied obsessions (my children have followed in my footsteps): ghost stories, urban legends, the supernatural, and Jonestown and the Peoples' Temple. When we finally had cable, I was able to indulge not only in books about my favorite subjects but made-for-television movies. I watched Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones every time it came on television. Powers Boothe captivated me as the charismatic leader, and I would wonder in my head if I would ever possibly find myself following someone like that. The members of the Peoples' Temple seemed like smart people. I was a smart person. How did smart people get in situations like that?

Leigh Fondakowski and her partners do a great job capturing stories of people who are survivors of Jonestown, either because they left or because they were in Georgetown the night of the mass killing, or because they are family members who watched daughters, sons, grandchildren, sisters, and brothers leave for Jonestown. They are the ones left behind to tell stories.

The format is a bit dry but works well for telling these tragic stories. Fondakowski is a great reporter and journalist. She worked on The Laramie Project.Survivors share repeatedly how demeaning it is to say the members of the Peoples' Temple were "brainwashed," and how they cringe when someone uses the careless phrase "drank the Kool-Aid." You'll find that many believed in the utopian, Marxist society Jones said he was trying to build. Remember this started in an era of racial turmoil, in Indianapolis, which was known for its racism.

Interviews with Jones' children are especially enlightening.

If you're interested in getting beyond the sensationalism of Jim Jones' charisma, drug abuse, and sexual conquests, and instead want to read heartbreaking and hopeful stories from survivors of his society, Stories from Jonestown is a good place to start.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Reading Log: The Dangerous Animals Club

I read the first half of Stephen Tobolowsky's Dangerous Animals Club in the waiting room of a Firestone store in Pelham, Alabama. We got there at 6:55 for a 7 am brake appointment and had the pleasure of staying until 9:45. Surrounded by Men's Men (too old to be Dudes), my spouse passed the time listening to my sometimes-nearly-uncontrollable laughter.

Stephen Tobolowsky is funny. You've seen him in things.

Dangerous Animals Club is full of funny. Life is funny. Hopefully, you laugh a lot at things that happen to you now, or you can at least look back and laugh at things that happened to you Back In The Day. Tobolowsky tells lovely stories from early childhood (he had a happy childhood in Texas, a loving family, and stable relationships, and STILL somehow manages to be funny). But he doesn't spare us the uglier side of his early days in Los Angeles, including drug use and accidentally speaking inappropriate Spanish in a children's theatre production.

Chronicled heavily is his relationship with playwright Beth Henley, which lasted for fourteen years. He also talks a lot about his wife Ann and their two sons. Something that piqued my curiosity is that he mentions the first time he married his wife. I didn't see any other details about that, but it was intriguing to me. Hopefully he'll write another memoir and talk about how he and Ann met.

Some moments caught me off guard with their emotional candor. I enjoy a funny book peppered with sweet and somber moments. It's so reflective of life, isn't it?

Perhaps the best thing about this book is that you do not have to read it in sequence. I'm glad I did, but the chapters are arranged in such a way that while the previous information may be useful, it's not necessary to get joy out of the story. My attention span is often so spotty that I need to keep more books like this on hand.

You'll get a picture of this wonderful character actor as a whole child, a clumsy but talented adult, loving partner/spouse/parent, and curious Jew. You'll get some neat little Hollywood stories that aren't sycophantic but instead inspiring.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Reading Log: The Alchemist

My first summer book (yes, I know it's still spring) is Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. It's the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, and his quest for his destiny. On his journey to discover this destiny, he encounters a king, a thief, a crystal merchant, an Englishman/student, and, as the title suggests, an alchemist. Each character plays an important role in Santiago's discovery.

The Alchemist is a simple book, and I am late in reading it. It was released in the 1990s. I remember seeing it in bookstores, reading about it in magazines, hearing friends talk about it. Perhaps I wasn't ready for magic of the story. Maybe the personal revelations that come about when one reads a story like this were going to be too much for me at the time. My subconscious was right in having me wait until age 37, this particular point in my life, to read about Santiago's journey from Spain to Egypt.

In Santiago's story, every movement, word, and encounter are vital. Before I read, I wondered if this was just going to be one of those "young man" stories that I'd read a thousand times before and found only halfway relatable. Indeed, The Alchemist focuses on a young man's journey and his heart, but his yearnings are universal: purpose and love.

With its simple and magical language, The Alchemist brings alive the search for meaning and all the human trappings that humble us along the way. I am even recommending this story for my rising fifth-grader, who loves fables and fantasies.

Have you read this book? What do you think?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Summer Reading

Now that I am mostly over my haircut trauma (but only mostly, as my patient spouse will agree), I can focus on logging all the books I'm reading this summer (summer being the time between school getting out and then starting back up again). I am not really a great book reviewer, but I am going to blog about the books I read and my opinions of them for those who might be interested. The other night, my mother-in-law asked me if I'd kept a notebook of all the books I'd read in college and I was sad to report that I didn't. Some I am sure I must have enjoyed beyond just their academic value. But it's been almost 15 years and I don't remember a lot of them.

I'm keeping a log of the titles to turn in at my local public library, which has a great adult reading program with gift cards and Kindle Fires as prizes. I've talked in the past about my trouble with reading fiction (I lack the patience), so I've been forcing myself to read a fiction book each month. My book-heart is really in memoirs that aren't all feel-goody and then in books about nature, especially birds and bugs. I was never interested in being a field biologist, so I can't explain my fascination with those books except that when I was very young, my mother worked at the University of Kentucky bookstore and got us this little set of beautifully illustrated reference books specifically about bugs and birds. I spent hours looking at them as a child (even as a teenager) and still, when I am at my mother's house, like to pick them up again.

My girls are doing the summer reading program here as well (they have a GREAT prize room for kids!), and our library offers free movies in the comfort of their lovely indoor theater, so we can escape the heat of the day. Earlier this week, my spouse and I went to see Grease on the big screen there.

I really think my favorite thing about this move has been moving around the corner from the library.

Check back here in a couple of days for the first few books in my Summer Reading Blog!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Maybe I Am My Hair After All

I was really excited to go to my hair appointment on Friday. My mother had unexpectedly made an appointment for a big family photo late on Sunday afternoon. My signature curly, past-the-shoulder tresses were starting to get weighed down by frizz and, well, length. Compliments on my hair were like currency for my self-esteem. I'm a big girl, and not slender, so any mainstream attractiveness was attached to my hair. While I didn't like people touching it (they did without asking, all the time), I never got tired of compliments.

Friday I decided to have it cut. I'd discussed it with my spouse to be sure it was a good idea (I have lots of ideas, but only about a third of them are ever good, and that's on one of my smarter days). After some encouragement, I went in to my appointment with the woman who has done a fabulous job with my hair for at least the last four years. She did her thing, and did it well.

And I hate my hair.

I don't hate it because it looks bad. It looks great. The just-below-the-chin length is perfect for my face. My spouse seems to love it. My curls are back. There's no reason to not like this hair, except that I don't. I've been thinking hard about why, and I think I figured it out.

The years my children were young, I kept this same hair style. It's practical. It's still stylish. But those were not happy years for me as a woman. Every area outside motherhood in my life was terrible. I felt subservient and walked on by everyone. I didn't know how to assert myself (and for those who had known me in years past, that might be hard to believe) and I let myself be yelled at and ignored, insulted and disrespected.

It took a tense moment in my home tonight to figure out that this was my issue with hair. It reminds of bad times. Right now, even with the lingering sadness of loss and the stress of making ends meet, I am not not in bad times. My life is wonderful. I have love and affection and affirmation and respect. I am fulfilled in ways I really never thought I would be.

My job now is to turn this new hair into the hair of a new and liberated woman, so I can feel comfortable in it. Empowered. When I looked in the mirror this morning, I saw an overworked and underappreciated Dusti, expected to handle any and every complaint and emergency silently. Tomorrow morning, getting ready for work, I will see a Dusti who can handle her life, and who is not expected to care for others but wanted for that reason, because she is good at it, and because she has the love (if not the temper) required to do these things.

What would your new haircut say about you?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Apartmentalizing

Since my family's big move (which I'm convinced took longer than any other move ever did), I have been really busy relaxing (easier to do in a house that doesn't have mold growing in the hallway) and attempting to unpack boxes (not really happening since we have been so busy relaxing!). I never thought I'd like apartment life so much! The hustle and bustle outside our window is curious but mostly quiet. The kids are enjoying the playground a lot and we love our surroundings and nearby attractions. Our library is the best, with a huge selection of movies that can be checked out for a week at a time, and lots of books and programming.

Also, last week was my first wedding anniversary with my very amazing spouse. We enjoyed a long weekend of free time devoted to one another, which included a Saturday spent with our Smashbox makeup artist friend Daphne and her colleague Maryjane who made us look super gorgeous. We also took a trip to Sur la Table and found the best pan ever for cooking eggs. My sweet sister-in-law and her husband had sent us a nice anniversary gift that we used to make the purchase. I feel very passionately about my marriage and am determined, even through all my faults, to always make it a priority. We like to do something special on the 8th of every month when we can, even if it's just lunch together, so we can always remember the day we got married, not just on our anniversary. Still, making it a special day and a special weekend was really wonderful and reminded me why we got married in the first place! The ability to work for common goals combined with being just madly in love really makes the difference!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day Five Of Moving Has Me Asking WTF

Crass, I know.

We started moving on Saturday but were a little shorthanded because our dear friend Justin, who was planning on helping us, had an unexpected opportunity to open for Kid Rock at the BJCC. Lots of things went not as expected, including the fact that we had barely given ourselves a week to prepare.

In fact, we still have stuff to bring over. Including all our dishes. And our pantry food. It's been weird, man. The kids are with their dad this week and while it wouldn't surprise them to see it, I'm glad they're not witnessing the craziness around here.

The icing on the cake was one of my managers telling me that suddenly my ability to only work between 8 and 2, which hasn't been a problem since I started there in November 2011, is a problem. One thing I have really wanted this year was to work more as a substitute teacher, and this looks like my opportunity.

Another challenge I'm going to try turning into an opportunity: a tiny kitchen and almost no storage space. Please tell me how to do this. We cook a lot as a family and this is a tiny, tiny kitchen. I think this could be an  opportunity to 1) create one-on-one time with each kid, giving them each one night to do dinner, and 2) figure out which kitchen items I really use the most and give away the rest.

Living in a smaller space requires us to think creatively. I'm looking forward to being closer to the places we didn't get to visit often enough before. Spending time looking at the "things" we have and then deciding which to keep will give us time to reminisce while also providing opportunities to create a cleaner space around us.

I'm sure my family is up to the challenge. Now I've got to go assemble some beds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Moving Day

Well, not today. Saturday. Four days from now, my family will pack up all our earthly belongings and move them from a spacious three-bedroom home on the edge of the country to a three-bedroom apartment closer to the city. I won't bore you with the details behind why we're moving (though I think they're very interesting, the friends and acquaintances who have been forced to hear the story would roll their eyes and probably choose to be covered in hot lava rather than listen to it again). But we are. And our lives will be different.

Living in a bit of isolation has really spoiled us. The only person who ever really came unexpectedly to our door was our landlord. We could leave windows open with little fear of disturbing the people next door or across the street, who were separated from us by a huge hedge of trees and cacti and a heavily traveled county road, respectively. Deer and fox sightings in our wooded back yard were a regular and much-loved occurrence.

Things changed, though, and now we're moving to an apartment (though it is pretty spacious, I have to say, and with much newer sinks and toilets and showers and floors than our 1950s home). I'll miss my huge kitchen with more cabinet space than I could fill, and island the whole family could gather round, and my very cool Kitchen Aid wall oven and electric cooktop. I'll miss the huge picture windows in our front room. The side screen door is also a favorite of mine, especially on cool days, and the views of sunrises and sunsets from this home are only matched by those I witnessed as a child growing up in New Mexico.

Now we'll have neighbors, which means kids for my kids to either play with or complain about. We'll be driving them into school on alternating weeks, and picking them up, which will be a long commute daily. Our area has a nice playground and a picnic area, and is within a couple miles of things we would like to do regularly but really can't because we live so far out now. The best part will be that the people who made our lives here difficult will no longer be a part of our picture. I wish them well, but I'm glad to be dealing with a professional management company and parking hassles in a parking lots instead of bulldozers and backhoes in our yard and unpredictable personalities.

If any of my readers have made the switch from house to apartment, particularly with kids, how have you dealt with the difficulties? What was your most surprising challenge? What about apartment life did you expect to hate but ended up finding endearing or even pleasant?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The To-Do List

I'm great at making lists. I can think of all the things that need to be done and sometimes even the order in which they should be done. My head is full of lists. Sometimes my wallet is full of lists. I have daughters who like making lists, too. My mother never shops for groceries without a list. Microsoft Outlook's task lists used to be my favorite part of having an office job.

Actually following the list is a different story, however. The only thing I crave more than having definitive rules and boundaries for a situation is breaking all the definitive rules and boundaries in a situation.

I rarely stick to a shopping list (I always remember something along the way, or find something BOGO or for a really great price). And lately, my to-do lists have gone mostly unfinished, in part because we have cable again (probably not the wisest move but I do enjoy having a few channels we didn't have before) and in part because I've been unmotivated. I know we're moving in the spring (but have no idea where to yet) and that really makes me want to put projects off because why? And we were recently so legitimately busy that for two days the dishwasher went untouched.

I've decided to start with the other to-do list I've been slowly building in my head. Partly because it's more fun but also because I think fulfilling this particular list will bring the focus and happiness necessary to want to  check off items on my daily home-oriented other to-do lists.

I want to make a monthly effort to spend time with friends. Amazingly I no longer do this. A couple of years ago, I was making weekly efforts and maybe overdid it sometimes with the socializing (which was new to me after years of only hanging out and doing things during school hours). Being a newlywed has made me want to spend most of my free time with my sweetie, but I think it's time I give us both a break and focus on meeting up with other friends sometimes (or even going to the movies alone, which I love).

Another something I want to try is volunteering with Special Olympics. My mother did this for several years and loved it. Recently, a friend in Atlanta spent her weekend with Special Olympians and couldn't say enough good things. I'm going to look into it this week.

I want to stop talking about work at home. Most of my coworkers are delightful, but my job is endlessly frustrating, and I know my family is sick of hearing about it. This will be the hardest thing for me, even harder than....

The last thing on this list (for now) is to start driving with no radio or music on when I am alone. Not every time, but sometimes. A couple of years ago, when I first went back to work after years of being a stay-at-home-mom, my pastor Paula suggested to me that I drive home from work in quiet so I would be ready to take on the noise of home once I pulled in the driveway. It helped a lot.

What little thing could you do to improve your life?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Favorite Birthday

Today's my 37th birthday. We had plans to drive to Nashville and see Morrissey at the Ryman, but the poor man's been hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer. Instead we're staying in town and have cheap and fun plans for the day.

I want to share with you one of my favorite days ever: my 18th birthday. It was 1994. I spent the day with my parents (friends had had a party for me the night before). We went to see Shadowlands, the C. S. Lewis biopic starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. Afterward we went to what was at the time my father's favorite burger place in Montgomery, Flip's. There, my parents surprised me with a plane ticket to spend spring break back in Ohio with my best friend Chi.

I'm sure other things happened that day, but what I remember most was spending it with my parents, feeling some freedom that I was 18 (even though in Alabama the legal age of adulthood is 19) but wanting to connect with them on a deeper level, maybe because I felt a little bit "adult" in the moment.

My kids are at their dad's this week. and they called me at 6:37 am to wish me happy birthday. It eased the heartache of knowing I won't get a similar call from my father this year.

I'm going to enjoy spending this foggy day with my love, grateful that 37 years ago, in heavy snow in Omaha, Nebraska, Patty gave birth to a baby girl, to whom Jim gave an unconventional name.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Etymology of Jealousy

My curiosity about the seven deadly sins led to me a Wikipedia page dedicated to them. Despite my intimate knowledge of Catholicism (I went through the conversion process more than a decade ago), I still thought jealousy was on the list.

It isn't. 

Envy is listed on several variations of the list, but jealousy is not. The word envy comes from late thirteenth century French phrases that mean "to cast an evil eye upon." The etymology of jealousy only reveals that it is rooted in zeal, fervor, and devotion.

Jealousy is a bit of a new issue for me (I think so, at least. My friends who know me well might have a very different take on it, and they are welcome to speak up in comments). I get jealous of the people and activities that claim time with my children (they are only with me 26 weeks out of the year, so that seems understandable, but it's jealousy just the same). My spouse and I met when we were in our thirties (though our mutual histories go back to when we were teenagers), and sometimes I find myself jealous of old friendships. Some days I really wrestle with jealousy, and others I don't give it another thought. 

"Envy" comes from words that mean "casting an evil eye," and envy is one of the traditional cardinal sins. The dictionary says envy is a feeling of discontent with someone else's advantages. Our contemporary understanding of envy is wanting what someone else has, which differs from covetousness only in that it puts another person as the object instead of the actual desire as the object. 

Jealousy comes from our own negative thoughts and insecurities. I bet even the most secure person has to deal with jealousy from time to time. We all face some form of lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, or pride in our lives. These behaviors impact all our relationships.

How do the "deadly sins" work together? If you had the power to eliminate just ONE of them from existence, which would you choose? Would eradicating one have a domino effect and lead to the destruction of the others?

Bonus:

I was asked to take the Hartman Value Profile by a potential employer this week. Putting the statements in order from most true for me to least true for me was eye-opening. You should take a look at the HVP and think about how you would rank the statements. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pushing Through

The last week has really kicked our butts. My spouse and I have been mostly taking turns being sick. Not just "cough-cough" sick but the whole shebang: cough, sore throat, serious body aches, sinus pressure, gastric troubles. Add to that the fact that we had days of warm rain and gloom, our dryer still isn't fixed and we still only have one car running, plus a major bank account scare yesterday (it all got sorted out to our satisfaction in the end, but it was VERY alarming), and this is not exactly the most pleasant home on the block.

The stress that comes with being sick, missing work, having to share transportation, and managing laundry in a totally different way from the last, well, 36 years of my life has taken its toll on my personality. I'm sure it's just temporary. I find myself thinking and saying things I don't necessarily actually believe or want to say out loud. My filter, it seems, has been coughed and sneezed out over the last week and a half. Just last night I experienced some road rage driving in Hoover. (Honestly, driving in Hoover on a Friday night would drive even the most zen and solemn woman to some sort of utterance she'd ordinarily not say in front of her children.) I yelled, "Oh, you stupid piece of....butthead!" at a car that was NOT passing me in the passing lane. The term made my daughters laugh (we were attempting a Girls' Night Out despite my feeling like crap). My youngest, who's nine, said, "it's just called road rage, Mom. You're okay."

I was okay, once I got some of it out. It's true. One thing my oldest friends have always depended upon is me saying, to just about situation, "it's not the end of the world. Everything will be okay, eventually." People who've known me for ages (and also my kids) have come to rely on my assurance that things could always be worse. It sounds pessimistic, but that's never my intention. It's just the truth. I've gotten through some hard times, and I've seen others do the same. Sometimes we emerge with scars, partially broken. But still we find a way out.

In early October 2011, nearly all my utilities had been cut off because I didn't have a job and my bank account was empty. The only reason I still had a place to live was because I'd paid my rent a year in advance. Frustrated, I called my dad to vent. I had sold my favorite pieces of jewelry to put gas in my car so I could drive to the few places I needed to drive (school, grocery store). I was broke and there was no hope on the horizon. I just wanted to hear from someone else what I am always so confident in telling others, and he knew it. "Remember when you didn't think you'd make it through [insert terrible ordeal here]? But you did. And you will."

We are still feeling pretty crappy here. Our van won't crank and we're still hanging our laundry to dry in creative ways about the house. But this time, I can look and see that all our bills are paid, and our freezer and pantry and fridge are all full. We have something exciting to look forward to (Morrissey is in TEN DAYS!). And so far, all the kids are healthy. Also, we've had two whole days of sunshine and open-window weather! I have hope that it will be all right in the end.





Friday, January 11, 2013

Early Birthday Gifts

At the end of this month, I'll turn 37. I'm excited about turning 37. My mother has approached each birthday with excitement and gratefulness (it probably helps that she seems to be aging more slowly than many of her friends!), and I try to do the same. 

A while back, my spouse noticed that my very favorite performer of all time (it's not an exaggeration) is going to be just a few hours away from us at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on my birthday. We managed to save for tickets. A friend of X's is providing accommodations for us as a gift, and we have at least one White Castle stop planned (for those who haven't heard my ancestry brag before, mine and Ryan Phillippe's great-great-great somethings designed and built the first White Castle restaurant). I have an awesome rock and roll sequined dress to wear (thank you, Macy's One Day Sale and Baby Phat clearance rack!) and am really looking forward to having a fun two days in Nashville!

In July 2007, Morrissey came to the Alabama Theater in Birmingham and I was so close that I kept my purse on the stage near his feet. It was fantastic and I have just as high hopes for this performance. If you're not familiar with Moz, you can check out his classic "Hairdresser On Fire" or maybe the more fiery "Irish Blood, English Heart."

Another early gift came from the owner of the store where I purchased my dryer a couple of years ago. Not long after the warranty expired, the motor just died. Estimates showed it at $200 plus labor. Word got to the owner of the store (via his wife, who is a very sweet and funny woman and has kids who are always Student of the Month) and they got GE to send a new motor at no cost to us! All we have to do is pay our contractor friend to install it and we'll be good! No more hanging our laundry all over the house. Luckily, we have lots and lots of doorways. But we have some clothes that have never seen the inside of a dryer, it's been not working for so long! I am really grateful to Tyler for getting this motor for us. We can have towels and sheets that smell fresh and clean and not have the lingering scent of breakfast!

Now all we need is to have both cars working at once so no one is sacrificing work, rehearsal, or karaoke night. For now, we'll take the dryer motor and the Morrissey show.

Hope your weekend is great!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sometimes I Forget, Then I Remember

Sometimes I forget my dad is dead.

The truth is, as much as we loved one another and one another's company, we didn't talk very often. We didn't even text very often. I'm not sure why neither of us made the effort. I knew my parents were always very busy with work, church, and social activities, and I guess I felt I would be intruding on their time if I was always calling or texting. I live in a different city and have a life that they really knew little about, not that it is a secret. Montgomery is 90 miles away and so our lives were sort of mysterious to one another just because of the distance. That makes it easier to forget.

So sometimes I forget my dad is dead. Then I remember. Something makes me think of Dad. Today it was a sweet older guy browsing the watches. He cheerfully told me he and his wife would soon escape our dreary rain and head to San Diego to see their son and grandchildren. He said, "Even if the weather's bad in San Diego, there's grandchildren, and grandchildren are always sunshine!"

That's something my dad would say. I've been trying to think of the reason my shift at work was just so awful. It wasn't just the weather or the low morale or sinus pressure. It was that this friendly, unsuspecting grandfather had made me remember that my dad is dead, and made me wish oh so briefly I had never even known him so I wouldn't have to know the pain of having lost him.

Sometimes I forget my dad is dead, and it's wonderful. Then I remember, and I'm overcome by this feeling of blankness and anxiety I feel like I should have felt months ago so it could be over now, I could be moving along.

I want to forget and not be reminded, because I want to believe, more than four months later, that it isn't true.