Archive | Life, Etc. RSS feed for this section

Another Gem from Grandma: What to Do When There Is Ice on Your Windshield

7 Jan

After I posted the previous email from my grandmother, I remembered this equally amusing message she sent to me in a birthday e-card complete with colorful dancing kitty cats and confetti (yes, she recently discovered email).

Happy Birthday again!  Please be careful this cold weather, especially if there is ice or snow, the roads could be very dangerous, Also clean ice or frost off your windshleld.
love you

Obviously, this advice came before she decided I should have my husband drive me around, seeing as I’m a woman and all. Cars are confusing. What’s a windshield, again?

Watch Out for the Invisible Ice – Wise Words from My Grandmother

7 Jan

As we all know, the southeast is under a winter storm advisory for tonight and tomorrow. And as we all know, people in the southeast are not accustomed to snow and ice and, well, just winter in general. So they go a little crazy. For example, here’s the email that I got from my grandmother before I left work this afternoon:

Hi Are you all predicted to get snow & Ice tomorrow? We are. Hope you won’t try to drive in it.. Can be very dangerous. If you go to work, hope Daniel will drive you,but hope you will not go. Sometimes you can’t see the ice. Love you

If you knew her, you would laugh hysterically and then immediately feel sorry for me. So, be safe out there guys and try to avoid the invisible ice.

All Work and No Play

11 Oct

… makes me an uninspired, uncreative, dull, dull, dull girl.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I have a job. Maybe even lucky. But lately, my job has left me completely drained – of energy, of time, of creativity, of inspiration. Every day, I go to office, put in eight hours (sometimes more) of my time, my energy, my talents, my heart, my mind, my LIFE.  And at the end of the day, I feel I am left with nothing but fatigue and frustration.  I have nothing left for God, for my husband, my friends, my family, even myself.

I know that part of the problem is my own perfectionism. It kills me to have to deal with mediocrity. (And that can almost be taken in a literal sense, as my intensely high daily stress level surely is doing nothing good for my health.) But every day, mediocrity is what I deal with. On top of that, the people I am surrounded with don’t seem to even notice it. So, every day, I take it upon myself to “cure” us (by us, I mean the media company I work for) of mediocrity. And I’ve realized that I CANNOT do that anymore. I can’t take it upon myself to “fix” everything. I just can’t.

I need balance. I need ME back. When I leave work, I need to LEAVE work. No more taking work home every weekend. No more stressing out during my vacation time and being unable to RELAX because I’m worried about this project, or that impossible deadline, or this article that I need to finish and to perfect. No more skipping workouts or turning down social invitations because I’m exhausted, because I’ve spent too much of myself on work, work, work. No more. I’m done. Done.

Well, until the next time I lose sight or my priorities and lose myself again. Help keep me accountable, will you?

When It’s Hard to Say “I’m Sorry,” Write It in a Yearbook

24 Oct

I am in the beginning stages of helping plan my 10-year high school reunion.  (Wow! I feel old.)  And this, of course, has prompted me to browse my high school yearbooks and such.  My school days (all of them, not just high school) were often difficult.  Kids were cruel, as kids often are.  Sometimes, especially cruel.

That’s not to say that my school experience was all bad.  It wasn’t.  We all eventually grew up (sometime during the summer before senior year) and learned to get along despite our socioeconomic/racial/personality/whathaveyou differences.  And I’ve never been one to hold a grudge, always forgiving people despite the lack of apology.  But as I was skimming my old high school yearbooks, I did come across an apology – the only one I ever remember receiving from a once-cruel classmate – written in blue ink on page 22.

Laura,

How goes it?  Well I want you to know that you have been a great friend.  All those times I was mean to you when we were younger, well I’m sorry for that.  Keep band strong next year.  Maybe you’ll get Drum Major next year!  That would be awesome.  Well I’ve gotta go.  I’ll write more later.

Your friend,

It was nice to read nearly 10 years ago.  Still is.  There is so much power in a simple “I’m sorry.”  I think so many times, we make offenses and then move on as if nothing ever happened, expecting the person on the receiving end to do so as well.  We’re penitent, and we expect others to realize this without our making it known:

My husband knows I was only angry and didn’t mean to say the hurtful things I did.  I don’t have to say, “I’m sorry.”  My best friend will forgive me for letting her secret slip.  After all, it was an accident.  My mom understands how busy I was last week when I forgot to call her back.  There’s no need to apologize.  My little brother won’t mind that I forgot his birthday.  He understands I have a lot of things on my mind.  My son knows I love him, even though I angrily yelled at him out of frustration.  My sister will forgive me for going overboard on the teasing.  She knows I didn’t mean to be hurtful.  That girl at church who walked in on us gossiping about her probably didn’t even hear what we were saying, anyway. The list goes on.

Not every wrongdoing is easily glossed over.  Many offenses are forgiven, but not all are forgotten.  Words and actions that may be no big deal to us can have a lasting effect on the recipients of those words and actions.

“I’m sorry.”

A simple phrase.  It’s not always easy to say.  But it is comforting, and sometimes necessary, to hear.

Overwhelmed

9 Oct

This is how I feel.

All.

The.

Time.

I Am from Venus, My Husband Is from Caprica: An Argument Over ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’

29 Aug

The other day, I came home from the gym and my husband was downloading music to his iPhone.  He had his headphones on, and I could barely make out the lyrics.  The song: “How I Could Just Kill a Man.”  Here is the conversation that followed:

Me: (semi singing/rapping, most likely bustin’ some Luda moves) Here is something you can’t understand, how I could just kill a man. Is that what you’re listening to?

Husband: Yeah, you know that song? (obviously surprised, maybe even shocked)

Me: Holla!  Ice Cube.  Of course I know that song.  Do you not know me at all?  (The song is actually sung by Cypress Hill, but Ice Cube is in the video.)

Husband: (with a totally puzzled look on his face) No, baby.  Rage sings that song.  You know, Rage Against the Machine … the rock group.

Me: Sweetie, that’s a rap song.  You know, thug life.  How else would I know the lyrics?

At this point, a small argument ensued over who originally recorded the song (duh, Cypress Hill) and who covered it.  Wikipedia gave us our answer, but offered no help in in resolving the conflict that arises from the fact that my husband and I are not only from two different planets, but two different solar systems.

Heck, I’m not even sure if we live in the same dimension.

Oprah: Inside the Lives of America’s Poor

17 Aug

*I saw myself on Oprah yesterday. Well, I saw the self that I try to forget about, the part of me that I hide and pretend never existed even though I don’t think I can ever forget it did. I saw the part of me that few people even know about, the part of me that most people are somewhat shocked to hear about when I do actually tell them. It is the part of me that I am more likely to share with total strangers than with those people whom I consider friends or even acquaintances.

When I left home to go to college, I started over. I made a new life for myself, a life that most would consider “normal,” middle-class. But the fact of the matter is that I grew up poor, always on the brink of and most of the time below the national poverty line, below the Mississippi poverty line. There were times that I didn’t know it because my mom worked so hard to give her children a “normal” life, but there were also times when I knew the reality of it all too well. Times when I was afraid of what might happen to my family, when I worried about where we would live or how we would pay for things. I knew what it felt like to get free lunch at school and to have a classmate see my mom use food stamps in the grocery line, to wear clothes that did not originally belong to me, hand-me-downs from older peers, and to be pointed out as different, as not good enough, as a poor kid, to be called “white trash” by classmates.

I saw myself on Oprah yesterday, but I also saw other children who have worse lives than I ever did, even at the lowest point. I also saw my mom, a single mom who worked three or four jobs, who deprived herself to give to her children, who knew that there were others worse off and didn’t hesitate to help them. Some people looked down on her and judged her, but I know she did the best that she could with what she was given. My mom sacrificed herself to give her children what they needed to break the cycle and live a better life. I know I had it better than so many other kids, but I had it worse than almost all of the kids that I knew.

For many years, I have lived with both shame and guilt. Shame because at a young age I was taught that I wasn’t good enough, that other people were better than me. Shame because our society associates poverty with some sort of moral or mental decay, or just plain laziness. Shame because our society believes that people live like that because they want to or because they deserve it. I feel guilt because sometimes I buy into that erroneous belief. Guilt because I hide a part of myself that has shaped me into the person that I am now. Guilt because I sometimes pretend to be someone that I am not. I also feel guilt for wanting more and for having more for my life. Guilt for moving ahead while others are left behind. Guilt because I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve the life that I have now because I lived the life that I did then.

What makes me special? What makes me different from other children who are caught in the cycle and can’t get out of it? I know I’m not that different. I was blessed with an extended family that helped out when we needed it without seeing us as a “charity case.” I was blessed with school teachers and church leaders who helped give me the skills and the confidence and the hope that I needed in order to break the cycle. I was different, I am different, because I had hope, because I believed that I could rise above it even though everything in my life told me I couldn’t.

I don’t want to hide myself, or parts of myself, anymore. I don’t want to feel shame or guilt anymore. I just want to be. And I want to give others that same hope that is so desperately needed and so rarely seen inside the lives of America’s poor.

*This post was originally published on March 23, 2006 to my old Xanga blog. I am re-posting it here to continue the discussion over on Living Oprah.

** On another note, I would love to be able to import that blog to this one, but I have no idea how. Does anyone know how to do that?

Back Where I Come From … You Don’t Have to Worry About Getting Stuck on the Side of the Road

28 Jul

Back where I come from, the small town of Eupora, MS (population: 2,300), you don’t have to worry about getting stuck on the side of the road. (Yes, I said road. There is really only one street in Eupora, and that is Main Street). If you get a flat tire or are in a car accident or run off into a ditch, someone you know or who knows your mama will stop to help you (or to call your mama) before you even have time to get out your cell phone and call a tow truck. By my estimates (and this is hardly mathematical), for every ten people that pass by (if that many people would actually pass by you in that small amount of time), you probably know at least half of them. Of the rest, at least half know who you are because they know your mama and them. And the others are probably some strangers who don’t live there. Here’s story to illustrate my point:

On one particular foggy evening during my Freshman year of college, my boyfriend at the time (DP*), my BFF (Kimmie), my closeted at the time gay BFF (JD), and I were headed back to Starkville in my champagne-colored Altima after a Sunday night service at the First Baptist Church. Thick fog made it nearly impossible for DP to see the road ahead, and I failed to remind him of the big, giant curve you have to navigate before you get to the bypass. As a result, DP drove straight through the curve, bounced off the “stop ahead” sign, and landed us completely unharmed into the ditch.

This was back when only the “cool kids” had cell phones, and Kimmie was the only one cool enough to fit in that category. After getting out of the car and laughing for a bit at how funny we thought the situation was, we called my mom. She wrangled up one of my little brothers, a pickup truck, and some car towing apparatus and headed over to bail us out. Meanwhile, we just hung out on the side of the road and waited for the assistance. Within about 10 or 15 minutes and after only one phone call, mind you, my mom, my sister, all three of my brothers, my dad, my uncle, my mammaw and pappaw, two ex-boyfriends, and a couple of random folks who saw my car and knew it belonged to one of those Hitt kids had all converged on the scene.

My car was probably halfway out of the ditch before an office of the law arrived. This is largely due to the fact that no one thought to call for that kind of assistance. Why get the authorities involved when you can handle a situation yourself? Needless to say, when my car landed in the ditch, and we had assessed that everyone was uninjured, I was able to laugh it off. I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to get my car out of the ditch or how I was going to get back home or whether or not anyone would stop to help. I lived in a small town. I had community. I had people. I had no worries.

Now that I’ve moved to a somewhat larger city, basically Nashville, TN, I do have worries. I don’t have that kind of community any more. I have friends. I know people, but it’s not a large number, and they are spread out over the greater Nashville area. Of the 2.300 or so people in Eupora, (10,000 in the whole county) I probably knew more than half of them, and half of the rest most likely knew my mom and them. That’s more than a thousand folks that would fall into the “not a stranger” category. Now, in a metropolitan area of roughly 1.6 million people, I know less than 100, maybe even less than 50. And only a couple of those know my mom and them.

I love my new home. It’s a great city, and the opportunities available to me here are vast, especially when compared to what is available to me back home. Though I loved growing up there, I don’t think I could ever go back. But I do wish I could bring that community, that sense of place, of belonging, to where I am now. Sometimes, without it I feel a little more lost, a little more alone, and a little more afraid of what would happen if I found myself stuck in a situation where I needed to rely on people, on neighbors, on friends, on a community that doesn’t really exist for me here.

Does anyone else ever feel that way? Is it a sign of our changing culture? Of the shift from the community to the individual? Is it time for Americans to start becoming part of communities again?

*Names have been altered to protect the innocent and/or guilty.

Related: My Hometown, Y’all

A Little Love for “Stuff Christians Like” and Thoughts on Taking Out the Garbage

8 Jul

One of my favorite blogs to read is “Stuff Christians Like.” I gave up on “Stuff White People Like” a long time ago when they started being unfunny. But Jon at “Stuff Christians Like” is consistently hilarious. I want to share a little excerpt from Post #329. Arguing about the “wives submit to your husbands” idea. This is a post that I find particularly hilarious. He posts what he calls a “quick list of the things that have kept my marriage not insane. (‘Not insane’ is a technical term really holy people say.)” This is item number one:

1. Don’t call tasks around the house “chores.”
When you are a kid and take out the garbage for your mom, that is what is called a “chore.” When you are an adult and take out the garbage for your wife, that is what is called “doing what you are supposed to do, I mean good grief, it’s your house too, are you seriously trying to take credit for taking out the garbage?” I admit, it’s a bit long, but I think it’s a lovely name.

This one particular entry just hit me as appropriate for the day in light of a conversation I had earlier. The one thing I hate more than anything in the world (when it come to household “chores,” anyway) is having to take the garbage across the parking lot to the disgusting dumpster because my husband forgot to do it before leaving for whatever city he happens to be working in that week. It’s just not something I really want to do. The garbage bag is heavy, and we live on the second floor, and it’s a long way to walk across the parking lot, and I’m short and the dumpster lid is tall and gross and very heavy. Am I complaining? Does it sound like I’m complaining? I’m not. Just sharing, that’s all.

For the rest of the post, click here. There is also mention of dads who “babysit” their kids. Classic.

Jon somehow manages to be both spiritually deep and sarcastically funny. He has two other blogs that are worth checking out: 97secondswithgod and The Prodigal Jon. It’s some good stuff. Enjoy!

Now, I’m off to the dumpster with the garbage. Wish me luck.

Neighbors?

27 Jun

After recently returning from Papa John’s where I had a lovely chat with Pizza Guy, I came to the realization that I don’t know any of my neighbors. Never talk to them. Never interact. Nothing. May not even recognize them if I saw them out and about. However, I do know Papa John’s pizza guy, practically all the employees at Nacho’s Mexican Restaurant, cute Starbucks guy, Jersey Mike’s deli dude, the hilarious Otter’s chicken guy, several of the Moe’s Mexican Grill peeps, and the cashier lady at the Daily’s gas station where I stop for my breakfast coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts more often than I should.  And they all know me and recognize my face. Some even know my name, and we talk every time I see them (which is a lot, I imagine).  I can’t say that about the people who live withing 20 feet of my front door.  Heck, I don’t even know how many neighbors I actually have.

I’m not exactly sure what this says about me, but I’m pretty positive it says something. I’ll let you know when I figure it out, and of course, I’m always open for suggestions.