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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?


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.