Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And We're Back

I was surfing around Pinterest this morning when I found something quite remarkable.  So I called my husband.

Ring, ring

Him:  Hello?
Me:  Hi honey.
Him:  Hey babe.
Me:  So, that letter you gave our son about Santa - did you actually write that like you said?
Him:  Yes.
Me:  You wrote it?
Him:  ... yes ... why?
Me:  Because I just found it on the Internet.
Him:  Oh.
Me:  Why did you tell me you wrote it?
Him:  I got it from Mutual Friend and changed some things.
Me:  But why did you tell me YOU wrote it?
Him:  Because it made you so happy, and you were crying and I felt stuck. I emailed Mutual Friend and she said to just go with it.  It was something I was doing for our son.
Me:  The illusion has been shattered.
Him:  That's why I didn't want you to post it on Facebook.


Me:  Are you on the toilet?
Him:  Yes.


I'm letting him off the hook because it is a beautiful letter and because he did make the effort to restore our son's faith in Santa, and in us. And he did ask me not to post it on Facebook, which for him, also means the entire Internet.

Until next time, keep crowin' and finding inspiration in unexpected places.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Don't Stop Believing

This week, we have a guest blogger - my husband.  He is an engineer, which you normally don't associate with creative writing, but he found something so beautiful it made me cry.  I am sharing it because our country is shrouded in sadness right now, as we once again face the death of innocents, the destruction of futures, the pain of blame and loss.

Now is not the time to stop believing in good or God, now is the time to fight back with love.

Here's the letter my husband gave to our son, who accidentally learned there was no Santa Claus:

I wanted to write a note to you about who is Santa since you have been asking about it and it’s easier for me to choose my words correctly by writing it down. You asked a very good question: “Is there a Santa and are your Mom and Dad Santa?”

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is no. We are not Santa. There is no one Santa.

We are the people who fill your stockings with presents, though. We also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way our parents did for us.

I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won’t make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and we have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Mommy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no. We are not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. We are on his team though, and now you are, too.

We love you and we always will.

Mom and Dad

Until next time, keep crowin' and praying for those who need God to hold their hand a little tighter tonight.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

No One is Safe

You think, "It won't happen in my neighborhood"  or "Things like that only go down in the ghetto."  But today, I learned the all-too-scary reality that crime exists in even the best communities.

I am very sorry to report the murder of these elves, snowmen, and penguins.

I stumbled upon the crime scene as I was driving away from my son's elementary school.  My initial reaction was disbelief, followed by fear, and then anger.  Someone had, in broad daylight, conducted a massive, suburban, drive-by execution.

Not on my watch, people.  

I am going to contact the local news affiliates so that they can alert each and every neighborhood watch and give this crime a proper name, like The Christmas Massacre or Terror in Tinseltown.  We're going to get witness statements on YouTube, and maybe do a few remixes of their best comments.  Merchandise will be sold, and justice will be served.

Of course, there is a very small chance that these people simply deflated their lawn puppets until evening --- but why?  Who would pull down Santa Claus' pants?  Doesn't it scare the children to see the village alive one night and then flaccid and pale in the grass the next day?

The magic is the thing.

I am totally into the magic this year.  My son and I have put together a light show in front of our house that I am sure will receive magazine coverage - maybe Southern Living.

My house ablaze

And then there is my tree.  I promised that this 40-year-old fake tree would be amazing ....

Like puttin' a dress on a pig ....

There is no harsh reality in my Christmas world.  It's Charlie Brown, it's Will Ferrell, it's Chevy Chase, it's Frosty and The Forgotten Toys. 

This holiday, I encourage you to bring joy to the table - don't be the jerk that pops the Baby Jesus balloon.

Until next time, keep crowin' and keep the magic alive!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shelving the Saint

This is my Christmas season theme this year:


Now before you call Intervention, let me explain.  This isn't going to be a drunken pirate party for the next 30 days.  Although, I can't promise there won't be a nip here or there.  What I am proposing is to turn Christmas on its head, to keep some traditions, to dismiss a few, and to start new ones as well.

For instance, this whole Elf on the Shelf thing is fired.  I jumped on the bandwagon right away, in its infancy, when I was gifted with one of the first for my kids.  I actually know the Elf Creator - we were in The Sound of Music together - and although I sincerely wish I could support her demon spawn - it is way too stressful.  Just TRY to forget to move the Elf one morning, and see how your child's faith in humanity completely unravels.  I've had it.  Sleep is too important. So, this year, John Spyee is going all "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and we're getting super creative with his antics, like marshmallow poops in the toilet and such.  That'll cure that fairy tale.

But don't Bah Humbug me!  One tradition that I am insisting on keeping is the fake Christmas tree. It has been in my family for over 30 years, and we need it because both my son and I are allergic.  It is missing a section and is shedding plastic leaves.  But it's ours and I am going to bling it up, despite the kids' protests.

Here is the before:

Just wait for the fabulous after!

The final item is what I am calling the Co-op Christmas.  This is inspired by our most recent Thanksgiving.  I can't remember a holiday I have enjoyed more - even my husband remarked on how he'd never seen me so not stressed.  For starters, Child #1, who has been sick for so long, is in recovery.  After some very invasive testing, we have a diagnosis, and good medicine, and even an amazing personal trainer.  It has been a complete, blessed 180 - my child is back and it is joyful to see that quirky, crazy personality come shining through.  So, I was automatically more thankful and happy. 

But that wasn't all.  I then rented the neighborhood clubhouse, invited both sides of the family (thereby ensuring only one meal - my husband and I used to have to eat THREE in our early days of marriage) and everyone pitched in.  From table decorations to glassware to side dishes, everything was covered.  I cooked two casseroles and some dip, my husband handled the turkey, and that was it.  Heavenly.

They only said I couldn't post this on Facebook

This Christmas will be no different.  I am again going to ask for help, for everyone to pitch in just as before, and make it a collaborative holiday.  I don't mind bringing out the china and serving the big meal, but I know now that I don't have to cook it all, host it all, or even clean it all up afterwards.  I don't have to do it all - and to be truthful, I don't WANT to anymore. If there is one thing I have learned in 40 years, it is that martyrdom doesn't equal sainthood.  And that memories are made not in sacrifice, but in sharing.

With that proclamation, I wish you all a Happy Holiday season.  I intend to make my home a veritable explosion of lights, decorations, and joy.  This year, it's about love and not chores.  It's about thankfulness, and not regret.  And it's about time.

Until next time, keep crowin'!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If It Weren't For Bad Luck

When my kids were younger and having a fussy day, I would sing them a little song I made up, inspired by  "O Sole Mio."

Oh, woe is me, poo-poo and pee-pee.  I'm angry, I'm cranky, wah WAH wahwah .....

They hated it and would usually get quiet so I would stop.

There is another song that I liked to sing when things were in the toilet. You may remember it from that golden oldie, "Hee Haw":

I've been singing my downtrodden spirituals lately, as the hits keep coming my family's way.  Not to complain, but here is what transpired in the last 24 hours:

  • Failed attempt at sports team tryouts due to Child #1's continued illness, which resulted in mental breakdown
  • Tooth fell out of my mouth while eating a Starburst
  • Child #2 found out there is no Santa
  • Boss e-mailed me at 8:45 p.m. telling me to meet her at 9:15 a.m. the next morning for a meeting.  I rearranged my schedule, found our newly relocated office and the pay-exact-change-only parking lot, found a gas station with an ATM, returned to parking lot, set off emergency exit alarm in building, and then welcomed my boss when she arrived at the office at 10:00 a.m.

And so on, and so on ...  It's been awesome.

But life has a way of reminding you to put your big girl panties on.  I delivered a carload of donated food to an elementary school yesterday, tucked away among trailer parks and run-down apartments.  The Assistant Principal told me it would be some of the only food his students ate over the Thanksgiving break.

At least we have food on the table.

Today at the grocery store, a disfigured woman in a wheelchair asked me to reach the butter for her.

At least we have bodies that work.

I put out an SOS earlier, and received nothing but love and support.

At least we have our family and friends.

There are people up north who lost all their possessions, and many lost loved ones in Hurricane Sandy.

At least we are safe with a roof over our heads.

Things aren't always going to go our way, or be fair, or be fun.  But they could always be worse.  And so, I will switch stations, and try to enjoy a little Bob Marley instead:

Until next time, keep crowin' - it's going to be OK.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Greatest Hits

A good rule of thumb for any blog is to update it regularly. 

Dear 15 Readers, you are out of luck, because I got nothin'.  Not because there isn't anything to write about, but because there isn't anything HILARIOUS to write about.  I want this to be a place where I am lighthearted and breezy, but I'm fresh out of fun right now.

The reason is because of my child, who has been dealing with chronic pain for 2 months. I am not trying to complain, or make this a "woe is me" thing.  I know all people struggle with something.  My immediate family has tackled OCD, anxiety, marital stress, loss and economic hardship.  But we have always persevered.

This time has been different.  My child has missed so much school, and been so isolated.  Illness has a polarizing effect - people don't know what to do or say, so they stay away.  I get that, but it doesn't make it any easier.

So, rather than focus on my child's pain, or my fears, or the "what ifs" that are coming, I'd like to go into re-runs.  I invite you to browse the blog and find my best posts to enjoy. 

However, if you are still wanting for more, I am going to offer some inspirational videos that should uplift.  My experience has been that boy bands and Kristen Wiig make good therapy.

Until next time, keep crowin'. And if you pray, please do so for my child.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Today, my blog is about poopy.  And a little bit about pee pee.  But mostly poop. So, if you don't want to read about, think about, or hear about poop or any of it's derivatives, then no hard feelings, I'll see you next time.


Welcome back.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had to do one of those tests where you collect your pee for 24 hours in an orange container.  Then, I loaded up the container in the back of my car and headed out for the doctor's office on my way to work.  Well, I took a sharp curve and apparently the lid was not on tight, and guess what?  Urine for a treat. Half the container spilled in the floorboard of the car. I rescued the other half and presented it hopefully to the nurse - won't this be enough?  No, she said, you have to start all over.

Sigh.  We do what we have to do.  But over the years, I have developed such an aversion to bodily fluids, perhaps stemming from that incident, that I have to do things like close my ears in public restrooms so I won't accidentally hear someone else "go." Or if one of my dogs has an oopsy in the house, I have to carefully get a paper towel, lay it on top of the offending materials, and patiently wait for my husband to get home and deal with it.  If someone talks about a booger or a small child sneezes out some goo, I involuntarily gag and my eyes water up.

Just another one of my issues. This week, however, I had to put my big girl panties on and deal with poop.  One of my children has been quite ill for over a month, and in the process of discovering what is wrong, we have had to undergo multiple tests.  After our last visit to the doctor, I was sent off with the "home stool sample kit."  I knew when the lab tech handed it to me that I was going to have to dig deep, but, of course, I would do what I had to do.  The frustration at seeing my baby going through so much pain, discomfort, and stress overrode any silly aversions.

I started out poorly.  They give you these little bottles with little spoons attached and you have to scoop and store the stuff in a bottle with the special solution.  My body reacted to the situation even though I had toilet paper stuffed up my nose and I was chanting in my head.  I would scoop, gag, move the collection bin to the side so I could throw up in the toilet, and repeat.  In doing so, my arm jerked and I spilled some of the solution.  So I had to go to the kitchen and get some spatulas so I could corral the solution and drip it back in the bottle.  Needless to say, the process took some time.

I finished the job and headed off to the lab with a freezer bag full of fun.  I knew the route by heart and marched straight up to the lab door to find it locked.  They were on their break for lunch for another 30 minutes.  As I stood there, trying to decide what to do, a courier came up and knocked on the door.  The nurse opened it, let the courier in, looked at me and my bag, and closed the door.  I heard the lock click and knew we would never be friends.

Another tech came out to get herself some Reeses cups, assuring me it would be just a few more minutes.  People were walking past and the bag was starting to smell - I could tell they thought it was me. When they finally decided their precious break was over, I walked in, handed over the goods, and told the friendlier tech that I was just dropping off.  She held the bag up in the air, looked at it, and then looked at me.  It's a stool sample, I explained, to which she made a "that's nasty" face and grunted.  I was apologetic and slunk out of the room. But very indignant when I got back in my car.

Sigh.  I guess I don't care, because I need to know what's going on with my child.  We do what we have to do.  Plus, I believe in karma, and I know the lab tech will encounter poop again, in a more unwelcome way.  Perhaps it will be via a surprise handshake, or in a special cheer.

In that spirit, I give you my favorite Olivia Lee video, which is completely inappropriate and offensive. 

Until next time, keep crowin' and doing what you have to do!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Yes Santa Claus, there is a Virginia

My house is filled with love.  And dirt. After several years without outside cleaning help, I finally acknowledged that I wasn't cutting the mustard.  So, I asked around and hired a woman named Virginia.

It became clear from our first interaction that Virginia was going to be the alpha in our relationship.  She not only told me the day and time she would come to my house, she then subsequently called me just before her arrival to say she went home after another client forgot to leave a key. And Virginia didn't feel like sticking around.

But I was desperate, so with a promise that she would show up next time, we tried again.  The following week she was there, bright and early, and without conversation, headed straight upstairs.

What happened in the next few hours was nothing short of a painful miracle.  It was like being interviewed on the sidewalk by a roving reporter about fashion and suddenly realizing you were the unwitting subject of "What Not to Wear."

As I sat at my desk listening to the sounds upstairs, I felt a mixture of curiosity, fear, and concern.  Obviously, they were in my closet, which was off-limits to all living things except the air conditioner man, because the attic entrance was located on my closet ceiling.  My messy closet is my dirty little secret, my scarlet letter, my shame.  For someone to go in there and start poking around was the equivalent of tucking my skirt in my underwear and sending me down the runway.

Things were being slammed and clanked and tugged --- and then the avalanche began.  One after the other, trash bags were hurled down the stairs. The first one startled me, but when I saw what it was, I relaxed.  We have three trashcans upstairs, so naturally there would be a bag of trash.  But then another one came rolling down, and another.  What on earth were in THOSE bags?! 

That's when my inner hoarder took over.  I kept devising reasons to walk by the bags, to peek at what was inside.  One bag, the length of a  human body, was completely full of shoe boxes. If a stranger is willing to throw out someone's empty shoe boxes from their private closet, what else were they capable of? I broke out into a sweat and began to plan how I would make sure she didn't take the trash with her so I could sort through it later under the cover of darkness.

After hours of scalping my upstairs, Virginia and her assistant moved in for the kill downstairs.  Their mops were fully loaded and ready for battle.  With a sheepish grin, thinking of all the horrors they must have encountered upstairs, I tiptoed to my bedroom and hid from their judging eyes.

Truly, they beat the hell out of my house.  I swear I heard my knickknacks screaming. But after 5 hours and 15 minutes, I got the call that the war was over, and Virginia had won.

Virginia: "Bye!"
Me: "Thank you Virginia.  How much do I owe you?"
Virginia: "2,000."
Me on the inside: Sh!t.
Me on the outside: quizzical look nervous laugh?
Virginia: "Oh sorry, 200."
(Because in Spanish, her first language, 200 is pronounced as if it is 2,000)
Me: "Can you come back in 2 weeks?
Virginia: "It is better for me to come back in 3 weeks on a different day."

Yes ma'am.

After she left, I danced around the house like Julie Andrews on the Von Trapp mountain, breathing in the Pine Sol scent.  I was alive again!

I walked into the kitchen to admire the stove top, when disaster struck.  There, on my terracotta tiles was a large discolored splatter stain, clearly visible by the sink.  The illusion was shattered and the dream was over.

I texted Virginia with the news. She called me that evening and promised to come by the following day to fix it.  

I thought this would be when the tide would turn, and I would take back control of the relationship.  Virginia walked in the next day, spoke to her assistant in their mother tongue, and got down to look at the problem.  I got down too, thinking it would reassure her that I wasn't angry, I just wanted it fixed.

Virginia looked at me dead in the eye, and said, "This floor was very dirty. I had to clean it two times. It is showing stains that were hiding under the dirt."

Yes ma'am.

Shame, shame, double shame, everybody knows your name!  This moment reminded me of when my mom took my sister to the doctor when she was a baby because she had a rash on her neck.  The doctor took a cotton ball, swabbed it in alcohol, and wiped the rash off.  "It's dirt" he said.  And my mom tucked tail and ran.

That night, as my family continued the clean house celebration, we began examining the garbage.  Apparently, Virginia did not care for a pair of my slippers, my daughter's immigration project, a souvenir newspaper from a Gator football championship, and one of my musical theatre scores. I laughed and faked indignation at her choices, but inside I was asking myself, "What message is Virginia trying to send me?  Does she think I am unstable?  Are these slippers ugly?"


As I now sit in my house and actually entertain the notion of hosting parties and teas here once again, I am reminded of a passage from a famous newspaper article by Francis Pharcellus Church, "Alas!  how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.  It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS." 

Yes Virginia, my house is a pit and I am a crazy white lady who has never vacuumed under the bed. But that is why we pray, so that God and Santa Claus will grant our wishes and give us faith for another year.

Until next time, keep crowin' and cleanin'!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


"I caught the mother tonight."

This sentence does not work for me in any scenario.

In this case, it was my husband telling me that he had dismissed an unwanted house guest from the basement.  It has taken me a little while to write about this, because I am still traumatized.  First of all, I wasn't aware that we had a rat community in the house - I thought it was just one stray critter.  Second of all, I had a face-to-face with what apparently was the "small one," and I am still dealing with it.

It started with a typical day in my life.  I walked into my pantry to get something, and found some soft black beans on a shelf.  "What are these?" I asked out loud.  But I knew.  I knew what they were but thought if I asked the question, God would give me a different answer.

Later that day, my son came up to me with a "I'mnotsupposedtotellyouthis" look, and said, "We have a rat."

Yes, I knew.

And I assumed that my husband would handle it.

The next morning, as I approached the pantry, I saw a note on the door:


After a brief pause to digest this missive, I calmly turned around and went back to bed.  When my husband got home that night, I asked him what the "maybe" meant.  "Well," he said, "it was in there when I closed the door, but there may be a hole it's coming in and out of."

Sure, that makes sense.  Now go get a @#$!&*<?:} trap and handle it, my love.

Another day passed.  Beneath the pantry door, wood dust and scratch marks began to appear.  The children were getting hungry.  Neighbors were questioning me at the bus stop.  I started calculating all the food I was going to have to throw out and how long it would take to burn down the room and rebuild it.  And then I hit my breaking point.

One night, my son busted his finger at football practice and needed ice. I walked downstairs to the pantry to get an ice pack, totally forgetting that that room didn't belong to me anymore.  I opened the door, turned on the light, and came face-to-face with this:

Apparently, "The Secret of Nimh" had taken up residence in my closet.  

The bulbous creature had a long, winding tail that flicked fire when it saw me, as it slithered up the wall like a snake.  It had red, beady eyes that emitted evil, and I could feel its devil curse upon me.  

I returned upstairs without the ice pack.

Me: "If you want the ice pack, you'll need to get it yourself."
Him: "What happened?  Why did you scream?"
Me: "I met the rat."
Him: Ha ha hee hee.
Me: "You need to take care of that immediately."
Him: "I know Hon."
Me: "No.  I'm not kidding.  Handle. It. Now.  Or else I'm not going to live here anymore."
Him: "Gotcha."

The next day a cage appeared, and it seemed that progress was made.  The pantry was sanitized and food disposed of without another word. And then I got the news from my husband, "I caught the mother tonight."

I slowly began the process of recovery.  But I believe the animal kingdom is not pleased.  Since this event, I have made contact with a roach on top of my kitchen trashcan, and a Biblical swarm of gnats on the football field.  I am not sure how to do penance, but I am starting with a cleaning crew.

Until next time, keep crowin' and don't eat the soft beans!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities

It has to be a pretty special reason for me to get on an airplane - hurtling through the air near Jesus' feet in a metal cigar tube is not my happy place. But, there are times when I am able to suck it up and make it work.  This weekend was one of those times.

I have a friendship that has spanned the ages, covering childhood father-of-the-year contests, teen Chorus boyfriend angst, collegiate debauchery, and now, the crap shoot of adulthood.  Although we lead very different lives, we always find our common ground, and truly have a connection that transcends everything else.  Plus, we are hilarious.

We're like Hillary and C.C. in "Beaches"; like Edina and Patsy in "Absolutely Fabulous"; like Oprah and Gayle on "vacation." And so, when my friend's husband invited me to come surprise her for her 40th birthday, I said, challenge accepted.

Because it was a challenge. Preparing for this trip was an exercise in futility.  I live in the 'burbs of Georgia; she lives in a gated community in Florida.  Two Buck Chuck is a common vintage in my house; she has a wine cellar.  My neighbor has a minivan; hers has a yacht parked out back.

So, as you can see, the issue of what to wear to the party went to a whole other level.  I spent an entire day going to all the boutiques in town, and after 20 tight mod dresses and the disapproving glance of more than one sales twit, I cried uncle.  I tucked tail, packed my bag, and headed to the Lollipop Guild in my Ann Taylor Loft separates.

Once I landed, the adventure began.  I rented a car, and navigated the turnpikes --- white-knuckled and mumbling to myself --- to my grandmother-in-law's retirement home.  There, I spent a lovely hour over tea and cookies with a remarkable woman in her 90's, who is pen pals with my 9-year-old son and gives me a piece of original art every time I visit.  I also got to see my husband's aunt, uncle, and the grandson they are raising.  We talked about the latest family foibles - who didn't have a job, who was a bitch, and the fact that a grandchild was about to welcome a grandchild.

After hugs and kisses, I headed to the apartment of my friend's parents, to hide out until the party.  There, I received an Obama bumper sticker and an afternoon of tales about tree rats and Irish priests dying of cancer. They were absolutely delightful and welcoming, as if no time had passed.  It felt like home.

At the appointed time, we collected my friend's kids and headed to Club. I call it Club, because it was like being on Vulcan, or Mars. Walking into the venue was like Neil Armstong's first steps on the moon.  Houston ...

As the guests arrived, it became clear that I had utilized too much fabric in my outfit. These stunning ladies were in Saran-wrap inspired prints, doilies with high heels and new boobs ripe for the picking.  They took one look at me and the confusion was evident on their faces. How could our fabulous friend be besties with the help?

But as I accepted their limp handshakes and began asking questions, the energy in the room changed. "Ah" I could see them thinking, "she's the funny sidekick, the Ethel, the Laverne, the smart friend who works for a nonprofit and buys off the rack."  And then I was in.  I was so in that I got enough dirt to sink the annual fund at their private school.  I was so in I could decimate at least one woman's credit at Neiman's, and out at least 3 secret nose jobs and one pending divorce.

Before you judge, let me tell you what else I learned.  I learned that rich women are just the same as poor women.  We all love our families, worry about our kids, and think our butts are too big. While I am cornering the rat in my pantry, another woman is keeping an eye on her pet leopard in the pool. It's all the same.

When my friend opened her birthday gift from her local friends, it was a Gucci purse.  From me, it was a Vera Bradley tote and a Tshirt of our deceased high school tennis coach.  I didn't feel inadequate, because I know that my friend values both sides.  There is room for all of us in this melting pot.

The rest of the weekend was a happy mix of recaps and family fun.  We took a walk on the beach and then said our goodbyes, pledging to run a half marathon together soon. And as my plane landed back in my world, I knew that while we would never run that half marathon, we had already done something bigger and better. Like Sonny and Cher, like Simon and Garfunkel, like the Roadrunner and Coyote, we will always be connected.  I got you babe, like a bridge over troubled waters, bleep bleep.

Until next time, keep crowin' and being thankful for girlfriends!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I don't do scary.  Not in the movie theater, not on TV, not in books, not on Halloween.  Because what happens is that I see black magic and then I can't sleep for 2 days and I am 100% convinced that Jason or Freddy or an escaped convict are going to get me.  I can't even watch ghost hunting or psychic shows because I will work myself into a frenzy, sure that there is a poltergeist or dead old lady in the hallway.

I have been a scaredy cat my whole life.  But I have never known true fear until yesterday.  It started innocently enough.  I was surfing Facebook, liking posts and reading inspirational verses.  And then, like the devil riding in on a flaming demon, was this photo, posted by a sorority sister who was doing recon for a friend.

Let me preface this by saying it is real, it is alive, and it has TEETH.  And it is not a Muppet. It was on someone's deck. And I ask you, in the name of all that is holy and good, what the HELL is this?!  Do you see it's eyeball?  It is like a little cartoon booger that  jumped out of the TV and escaped into our world.  Is it an alien scout looking for new water sources?  Is it a mutant turtle from the sewers?

Whatever it is, homey ain't playin'.  And I encourage anyone who encounters it to run like the wind.  Because it will eat your brain.

Until next time, keep crowin' and wear closed-toe shoes at all times!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Inappropriate Laughter

"If we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane." --- Robert Frost & Jimmy Buffett

I will start at the end of the week, with the death of my husband's uncle. He was hospitalized shortly after he and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a surprise vow renewal ceremony. They never had a proper wedding, because his aunt became pregnant at 17 and his grandmother had to sneak the young couple over the state line for a secret rendezvous with a justice of the peace. My husband's mother, then just a teen herself, played the piano during the nuptials.

So they got married, had a son, and then Uncle lost a testicle.  I know this because when I met my future husband's grandfather, this was the first thing he said to me. After the shock wore off, I realized this was his way of welcoming me to the family. That story still makes us all laugh until we cry.

There is nothing better, in my opinion, than a full-body, completely-in-tears, mouth-open-without-sound, snorting, laugh fest. You can't force it or plan it, but it is such a gift when it comes.

I had one of those moments this week. My company put on a conference, with a former US Surgeon General as the keynote speaker, which required me to work around the clock, getting signs and booklets and last minute emergencies handled, asking printers to do the impossible and then finding out they would be happy to if only their machine hadn't just broken.  Fingers crossed they'd find the right part to fix it (smiley face)!

Once the conference was up and running, the staff was required to be downtown at 7:00 a.m. This was utter hell for me. Waking up at 5:30 a.m. was like coming out of an alien cocoon to discover I had been turned into a zombie. By 4:00 that afternoon, my co-workers and I were coasting on fumes. As we gathered at the registration table and waited for the last workshop to end, we regaled each other with stories:

Me: "This lady from the "majorgovernmentorganization" sat on the snack table for the session I moderated, and when she tried to get down she fell flat on her face and then ran out of the room."
     Giggle giggle!
Co-worker G: "I fell once in middle school - my backpack was so big I went down face first and it went over my head.  And no one helped me up.  I just laid there for a really long time."
     Ha ha ha!
Co-worker B: "I remember being so embarrassed when I was talking to a boy while walking out from lunch and he didn't tell me there was a wall and I hit my face and my teeth fell out.  And we were so poor I couldn't get new teeth for 5 years."
     Um, heh heh, well, ok.
Co-worker D: "You know B, that's not an embarrassing story."
Co-worker B: "It's not?"
Co-worker D: "No.  You always tell these stories that you think are funny, but they are actually sad."
Co-worker B: "Well, what about the time that my twin and I got in a fist fight with a girl for calling us bastards, and then our momma broke it up and asked us why we were fighting and we had to ask her what bastard was. And she said it's someone who doesn't have a father.  And then we said, but we don't!  That's funny, right?"
All Of Us: "No, it's very, very sad."

And it went from there.  We laughed about Debbie Downer, we guffawed about Co-worker J who wanted to go to the hotel bar to pick up an aging doctor from the oncology conference (she likes old men's butts that form a little triangle) and we became completely unhinged when the photographer we hired stopped by to say hi and Co-worker J was so worked up she started unconsciously stroking the camera lens which hung at his waist.

We were delirious - tired, stressed, overworked, underpaid, and desperate for relief.  Tears rolled down our cheeks and some of us might have wet our pants. It hurt so good.

At the wake this weekend, I hope my husband and his uncle's family and friends can find those moments - when the pain and grief give way to the joy of good times remembered.  And maybe a chuckle or two.

Until next time, keep crowin' and laughin'!  And God bless the memory of Uncle Tom.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Delightful Words and Phrases

I had inside bank business today.  I had to get my notary renewal notarized so I can keep notarizing forms for a neighbor and get my ATM card linked to my savings account.  This would usually warrant a meeting with a personal banker, but she was super busy with a very important man in a suit with a briefcase, so I was assigned to a teller.

While I was waiting for the teller to process things, my eyes took a tour around her cubicle.  And there, taped to the fabric wall, was a 3rd generation Xerox copy of  "Delightful Words and Phrases" by Bank of America.


It then became my job to see how many I could elicit from Teller Angie.  I couldn't read them all due to my aging eyes, but I saw enough to know that "Absolutely" and "I understand" were part of the repertoire. She hit a few; I was impressed.

I have been known to turn a word or phrase.  Sometimes they are Carson-show caliber quotes, sometimes it is Kathy Griffin gutter talk. But I am always delightful.

Like today, in the grocery store parking lot.  An able-bodied woman in a van cut a hard right in front of me to get a handicapped spot.  And then backed up at me to realign.  Which cause me to jump back and let my grocery cart roll over my bunion.  I stood for a moment and gave her the "You done?" look, and then pushed on.  She apologized and I said "It's OK."

Why did I let her off the hook? Because I am delightful.

I was pleasant in my first post-grad school job (that's M.A., not B.S.) which paid $19,000/year, no benefits, when I told the hospitals that it was my honor to provide their on-hold messaging systems.  I was pure joy when as PR Director at a prep school I forgave the past-due football ad payments of celebrity-TV judges' kids.  I exuded mirth when a crony for my current boss' ex-husband fired me from a major TV network by asking "What is it exactly that you do for us?"  I was a model of happiness when dealing with fellow Christians who needed mission brochures yesterday and then brought me apology bath salts after they yelled at me in staff meeting. I was simply giddy when the boss from hell told me that I was her first problem employee in 65 years.

What I am trying to say is that I felt Teller Angie's pain.  Often in our lives, we have to put on a happy face, either because we're being paid to, or because we are on auto-pilot for the high road.  So, I smiled broadly, thanked her profusely, and wished her a good day.


Sometimes being nice is a bitter pill to swallow.  But most of the time, it is the right and Southern Lady thing to do.  And it feels good to be right, especially if someone else is really, scandalously, obviously, wrong.

Until next time, keep crowin' and be sweet!

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Hello 40's!  Nice to meet ya'.  Let's see what kind of trouble we can get into, shall we?

Exactly 40 years ago today (August 31), I came out backwards. I think that means something. And as I sit here and watch the last 20 minutes of my 30's wind down, I realize that birthdays aren't as bad as I thought.

Things could be worse.

For instance, tonight at my daughter's lacrosse practice, one of her coaches hobbled over to the parents on the sidelines in a boot cast.

Us:  "How did that happen?"
Him: "I got blowed up."
Us: "Come again?"
Him: (who I should mention is a member of the police SWAT team): "Well, we were trying to get the Chicken Man out of his house, and he set off a bomb, so I had to dive into the bushes and this is what happened."

I am very sorry to hear about the Chicken Man. I don't know why he blew up his house, or why the SWAT Team was called in, but this story intrigues me on many levels.  Number 1, I've always wanted to be a cop.  Number 2, I love chickens.  And Number 3, it did not happen on my birthday.

For you see, sometimes bad things have happened on my birthday.  Things I don't want to dwell on because they are in the past.  But I did think, at one point, that I was jinxed.

And now I know, whether it be the wisdom of age or the blessings of time, that I have not been jinxed, but granted abundant grace.  Being 40, to me, means that I have figured it all out.  I've got my family, my friends, my health (although I do have some twinges in my back and a weird mole) and a stability that has eluded me until this point in my life.

Today, my son and I were in the car together and he asked me what I was like as a kid.  I told him, "Honestly, I was quiet and shy and nerdy." 

He couldn't believe it, but you know what, it was the truth.  And I wouldn't change a thing.  Because today, I am confident, self-aware, and don't give too much of a sh*t what people think (unless they are mad at me, and then I'm sorry).

So here's to you 40!  Bring it on.  I double dog dare ya' - and you know I mean it.

Until next time, keep crowin' and blowin' out the candles!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Naughty Bits

There have been several events or aspects of my life lately that all have elements of naughty in them. Bad dogs, prank phone calls, boundary-blurring bosses, and a memorable girls' trip, to name a few. I present them to you now, in snippets.

I only have one dog that is bad, but they both have issues. I recently discovered a wonderful website that publicly shames pets who have misbehaved. You can find it by clicking here.

In that spirit, I would like to announce the shortcomings of my beloved pooches, in the hopes they will be inspired to reform their ways.  Because I am really tired of shopping for new panties.


On Saturday morning, just before I was about to leave for a staycation, I received a call from a woman who knew my husband's name and told me that he was sending lurid messages to young girls, as well as parking outside their apartment.  I explained to her that she had the wrong number, and she proceeded to call me a dumb b*tch.  Naturally, I hung up, but she called again, and this time my husband took the call.  He could not get a word in edgewise, so he hung up as well.  And then called the police, who told him there was nothing they could do about Crazy.

We like to call the police. When my husband and I left home and were living in an apartment in the big city, we got prank calls all the time. One "regular" was a man who was sure that we were Jehovah's Witness pastors, and were preventing his estranged son from having a birthday party.  Another call was from a wedding planning vendor, who took issue when my husband returned his call at 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday night. The man had called me by my first name in his voicemail, which freaked us out. And then yelled at us for calling so late. So, you guessed it, we called the police.  They actually came and told us, as kindly as possible, that perhaps we needed to be less Crazy.

When we lived in our first home together, we called the police all the time on our neighbors, who would vandalize our yard and get in fist fights in the street.  But I am proud to report that I am 7 years "911" sober (with the exception of the time I had to call an ambulance because a desk fell on our stage manager's head during a show clean-up.).


In the year since I accepted a contract position (which means I'm not a real employee and not worth listing on the company website) I have been asked to do ridiculous things for free.  Firstly, I created 4 logos and other design elements for a co-worker's birthday party, to which I was not invited. Most recently, I was asked to produce 3 book covers in 24 hours for a piece on prostate cancer for one of my boss' volunteer hobbies. She said, and I quote, "I said you would do it because I told you to." Someone was big pimpin' and I was the dumb b*tch that let it happen.  So much for Tawanda.  But, in the end, my boss was grateful and realized perhaps this was beyond the scope of my job, and gave me a bonus, which I'm using to buy new panties. (See #1).


The staycation I just enjoyed (See #2) was a lovely outing with 9 friends to a local hotel for pool time, Thai food, and dancing.  We sowed a few wild oats, as some of us (not me) engaged in beer bong hits with frat boys via a plastic flamingo, and laughed the day away with pitchers of sangria, margarita, vodkita, etc.  I am not saying that I was naughty, because I truly believe that I was the victim of a demonic possession, as evidenced by this photo.  I am calling Ghostbusters as soon as I finish this blog:

In closing, I would like to believe that a little naughty is OK.  It spices things up, without getting everyone too hot and bothered.  I encourage everyone to add some Vitamin N to your life - just don't get too Crazy.
Until next time, keep crowin' !

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Tonight was the culmination of a year's work. It was the awards ceremony for my theater organization. This wasn't your mama's Easter Egg hunt on the church lawn. This was a full-blown, hometown Tony Awards. I am the President. The buck stops here. And I didn't have a CLUE what I was doing.

In the two weeks leading up to this event, I had tech week for another show, started my kids in their first week of school, and had a major deadline for work. Tech week, in the theater world, is a special kind of hell. You rehearse every night leading up to the show, late into the night, and then you have the show itself.

I don't know why I thought I could do a show, work, and host an awards ceremony during the first week of school.  All I can think of is that the marijuana I smoked in college is still having some residual effects.  

I auditioned for the show because it was about Elvis, and I worked at Graceland for 3 months following college. I was a secretary in the communications department, and had the distinct pleasure of repeating to outraged fans the official press release of Lisa Marie's marriage to Michael Jackson, taking agoraphobics on tours of the Jungle Room, and fielding crank calls from my mother's closeted co-worker from the Tallahassee historic home tour circuit.

I auditioned for the show because that's what I love to do, and it was a 99% female cast, which is my favorite. But, as I am sure my fellow cast mates can attest, perhaps the show did not love me. I fell asleep in a chair many nights, unable to muster up the steam to push through until curtain call.

And then there is my response to stress.  If I'm freaked, it's going to show --- I develop tumors on my face.  Not pimples - something more like hives on steroids.  I've tried and tried, but they come when they want and they leave when they are damn good and ready.  The stress level in my life was enough to roll out the red carpet for a few, and so, this morning, as I was racing around to get the ceremony ready, I welcomed a testicle on my chin.  

But I really didn't care.  Because between all the ceremony drama, like missing pianos and angry stage managers, I also had to handle a texting disaster between my daughter and her friend, as well as the realization that I didn't print the nominee certificates on the same color paper, that I had failed to secure a trophy girl, and that I actually did not have time to properly get ready for the ceremony. I wasn't even supposed to be in charge of this thing, but the board member who was in charge literally disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of Irresponsibility.

So, after a private meltdown in my car and some gagging, I rehearsed a number for the ceremony, and then with 20 minutes until I had to open the box office, I called my husband, who is not a theater person.

Him: "Hello?"
Me: "I need you to get here as soon as possible with my red dress, open toed black shoes, nail polish, a flat iron, and a phone charger."
Him: "Hello?"

He found the red dress, which I had worn to the ceremony a few years back and apparently had failed to have dry-cleaned, because the old sweat stains lingered under the arm pittage area.  I tried to wipe them off, but new sweat found its way in. I'm not talking a little perspiration.  I am talking a full-blown, medical anomaly sweat experience.  Like when you wave at someone and smell something really bad in the wind, and then determine that YOU are the source of the odor. And that there are tributaries fanning out under your arms and you have to hold them flat at your sides to both contain the stink and the visual of the sweat.

In 5 minutes time, I threw on makeup, flat ironed the bumps out of my hair, abandoned my bra because I had forgotten to request a strapless, and, without having prepared a single word, opened the ceremony.

I have no idea what I said or how I looked, but apparently, I pulled it off.  There were a few weird noises and a reference to birthing Bette Midler, but, it seemed to work.  I got great feedback at the VIP party, and, aside from some blisters on my feet, have emerged intact.  

It will take me some time to recover, but I survived, and as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive.

Until next time, keep crowin' and don't overbook!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fake It 'Til You Make It

I love those moments when I am taken down a peg.  When I realize that we're supposed to laugh at ourselves and not take everything so seriously.

Yesterday, I took my son to his best friend's house.  His friend wasn't home, but within minutes of his mom answering the door bell, he came huffing and puffing up his driveway, having run from a neighbor's house a mile down the street.  "I heard Mrs. Paul's voice" he said.

Apparently, it travels well. 

It's one thing I've never had to worry about with acting - my projection.  Sound level, check.  Costume, check.  Memorization, checkish. Tony Award winning performance ... that's where the questions creep in.

The insecurities of theatre extend far and wide.  Actors thrive on audience reactions - which vary  depending on the time, day of the week, and proximity of performance to a bar. The happier the audience, the better the show.

Then there's the false confidence. When you think, I've nailed this. You envision yourself through the audience's eyes. In my current show, I play a prim and proper secretary to Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll.  I've got my pearls and white gloves and lilting Southern drawl.  I imagine the audience comparing my character to Jackie Kennedy or Doris Day.

And then the photographer comes and takes pictures of your performance.  And you realize that you do not look like a Steel Magnolia, but a Jersey Cow passing unexpected gas in a pasture.

After experiencing the horror of the variety of grimaces and snorks the photographer has captured, you breathe and remind yourself that it's just a show and all these expressions add to your character's charm.  And that you can't change the size of the lips or the shape of your snout. 

But, at least I know, without any hesitancy or a moment's doubt, that there is nothing I have done or will ever do, that is as uncomfortably bad as this:

Until next time, keep crowin'!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Peeing on My Trees

Remember Tawanda? In the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, she was the quiet, unassuming housewife named Evelyn Couch who couldn't even look at her own vagina.  Everyone thought she was a doormat.  Until one day ......

It happens to all of us.  That moment when we are sick and tired and just can't take it anymore.  Life's Back Up and Haul Ass Moment.

It happened to me this week. I was starting to feel like a big "Welcome" was tattooed on my forehead. So, I  spoke up. I stirred the pot. I made a nuisance of myself.  But, in the nicest possible way. And it sucked a little. Because I spoke my mind and then had to deal with the reactions of those to whom I spoke.

It was really uncomfortable because I am not that woman.  I am not the town crier.  I am the meek little mouse that usually says "yes sir" and "no ma'am" and lets it all go. Well, at least for the last 39 years, I did.

But something clicked in the last 48 hours.  I don't know if I decided that bitch begins at 40 or that I was inspired by the Olympics Volleyball Team.  Whatever it was, I let my guard down and lifted my voice up.

I'm President of a theatre organization, but the previous President is the Founder of said organization. I peed on his tree this week and I think a little splattered on him.  He says "we're cool" but that's dude for "you asshole."

I'm Chairperson of a PTA committee, and someone peed on my tree.  So, I let them know that territory was well-covered.  It freaked them out and now I've got to do a little wipe-up.  But message received.

I don't want people to think that I'm going to go all commando on them, but honestly, Tawanda is at full throttle and engaged.  If you have anything to ask me, I suggest you do it on bended knee while extending a chocolate pie towards my general direction.  'Cause homey don't play.

Until next time, keep crowin' and fight for your rights!

Friday, July 27, 2012


I got the most wonderful early birthday surprise this week.  My sister and my daughter, who are like two peas in a pod, teamed up to re-stage my home office (with my mom in absentia).  While I was at work, they came in and de-cluttered, de-hoarded, and delightfully created a beautiful space for me to make the magic happen.

Here is what my office looked like before:

Here is what my office looks like now:

And this doesn't even show the rest of the room.  It's cleaned and balanced and beautiful.  I have a new lease on life because they got rid of the crap and left the good stuff behind.

I love that concept - out with the yuck, in with the yum.  I have been talking a lot about that with my daughter this week, as she navigates life as a tween and deals with the disappointment of good friends gone wrong.

How many times do we reinvent ourselves and re-evaluate our relationships?  How many of those choices and changes actually stick? How many punches can you roll with until you are completely black and blue?

I don't have a great answer for this, but I keep going back to a quote by Minor Myers, Jr. "Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."

So that's it.  Just do the best you can and never be the reason for someone's tears.  Putting a smile on a friend or family member's face is so much better than revenge.  I have a big grin because my loved ones used their time and talents to make my world a happier place.  Time to pay it forward.

Until next time, keep crowin'!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

You Can Put a Dress on a Pig ...

I saw an oinker of a show recently, made worse by the fact that I dragged my family along.  I thought it would be a story my kids and niece would enjoy, and hopefully my husband and brother-in-law too, but there was no hiding the fact that it was simply the worst theater production ever encountered by a human being.

It was eternally long, the room was hot, and it was replete with monotony and tragic performances.  I can't blame the actors.  They clearly did everything the director had asked of them, with big smiles on their faces. The choreography was straight out of a Barney video and with two exceptions, the characters were all portrayed exactly the same way - one-dimensional with a cockney accent.  It was misery to watch.  Just when you thought it had to be, please God let it be, over and couldn't get any worse, out came another ballad or jazz hands that made me want to roll on the floor and scream.

Many people left at intermission, but I could not as I was judging the show for the theatre awards program - of which I am President.  I was very tempted to go, if for no other reason than to save my family from further pain.

But I stayed.  Why?  Why do we do needlessly suffer?  Why did I sacrifice my loved ones for the sake of the arts?  Why didn't I storm the stage and put the director in a headlock until she promised to never work in this town again?

The answer is because I'm a lady.

And a lady tolerates the intolerable.  She goes to tea with women she hates, and tells them they have lovely shoes.  She volunteers to help over-privileged children in resource-rich schools, and pats herself on the back for it.  She smiles at the mothers whose daughters have reduced her child to tears, and asks them when can we get together again.  She tells her boss it is absolutely fine to pimp her out to do free work for other people.  And she drinks more than is acceptable in polite company.

Yes, my friends, I'm a lady.  So I sat through that damn travesty of a performance, as I am a firm believer that you pick your battles.  And while I knew it was the pits, I played along, because the show must go on. 

BUT, I do need satisfaction for this injustice, so watch out.  You never know who or what could be the straw that breaks this camel's back.

Until then, keep crowin' and watch out for well-dressed swine.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Crime and Punishment

You reap what you sow.  You get what you give.  You are what you eat.  It's all about the yin and yang of life.  I was on the yang side this week, as I had to face the music and pay the piper.  Yes, it was Traffic Court Day.

I awoke at 4:00 a.m. with a rumbling stomach and a panic rushing through me.  I tried to tell myself to stay calm, but my body naturally reacts to stress, independent of my brain.  There was no reason to be nervous.  I was fully prepared for this day.  I had reviewed the speed limits in the area where I was snagged.  I had analyzed the most appropriate, and alluring-but-not-trashy thing to wear. And I had done my research on the judge's interests and club memberships.  I had devised a way to bring up the fact that I was racing to a volunteer appointment, because service and adventure have been instilled in me by my father, who was also a Rotarian and a pilot and a golfer - and I have a friend with a horse.

And yet, as I was getting ready that morning, I found myself constantly gagging and throwing up in my mouth.  My son asked me what was wrong, but I didn't deserve sympathy - I had dug my own grave.

Walking up to the courthouse --- pretending to be a lawyer and not a defendant --- was easy until I got to the front door.  There was a sign that indicated no cell phones in the building, so I had to do the walk of shame back to my car.  Second time was a charm, and once inside, I submitted my purse for inspection to the guards. 

Officer: "This is a big bag for so little in it."
Me on the inside: "Oh God, what does he mean?  Am I going to be strip searched?  It's a shake-down."
Me on the outside: nervous laughter

I was directed to the courtroom, where I encountered a gathering of other lost souls.  The doors weren't open yet, so we were forced to stand in the hall and stare at the floor or pictures of the historic downtown area. There were people from all walks of life, from roads I don't usually travel.  One woman kept trying to make eye contact with me, but I would not engage.

Once inside the courtroom, I checked in, they pulled my file, and I sat and waited.  And waited.  And waited. Without my cell phone, I was forced to look at my foot and pick at my nails for what felt like an eternity. A man with a meth-itch sat in front of me, and kept turning around to look at me every time I cleared my throat.  I get it - I HAVE ALLERGIES!

A no-nonsense attorney came in and began calling people up one by one.  She presented them with their options and they plead their case.  Wait - what?!!  No judge?!  I don't have witty banter for a female prosecutor!  I'm screwed!

But the judge did appear, and my nerves swept over me once again as I realized my plan would most certainly fail. He was older than dirt, and gave a speech similar to one Andy Griffith might give Opie.  It was full of good old Southern charm and grit, and I realized I was not dealing with Matlock but Mr. Magoo.  I started devising in my head how I was going to have to tell my husband that I plead guilty out of fear and ran screaming from the room.

Yet in the end, I never even got the chance.  The prosecutor called all us speeders up en masse, offered us a plea deal (a fine, no points on driving record), told us to raise our hands if we accepted, and sent us on our way. 

It was a pretty hefty fine, which I again had to wait to pay.  I sat on a bench next to a 2-year-old who was with her grandpa, a sweet little girl who kept looking up at me like I was about to steal her shoes.

As I left the courthouse, I reflected on my secret desire to become a cop.  It's something I've wanted to do for years - I even toyed with going to citizen police school.  But I left that dream behind on this day, as I realized that I didn't have the "stuff."  I was scared of everyone and everything in my legal experience, and it was time to let it go before I had a complete breakdown.

The next day, I punished myself by getting up early to attend a focus group to help pay for my ticket.  It wasn't too bad, but it is safe to say that my speeding habit is cured.

Until next time, keep crowin' and watch out for the po-po!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

They Call Me Ishmael

If you have seen Heart of Darkness, the documentary of the making of Apocalypse Now, then you may remember the unnerving scene with Martin Sheen. He has a complete, screaming, mental breakdown, naked and bloody, in a seedy motel room in the middle of a humid and violent foreign country.  I never connected with that scene until yesterday.

The day had been long - we had not had air in the house for two days, and the heat beat down on me as I struggled to work at my computer.  A chatty repairman stopped by and claimed he fixed the upstairs AC unit, but after a few hours, that was proven to be false.

As the day wore on, my body lost all of its fluid and my brain started turning to darker thoughts.  I couldn't focus or complete a task.  Wine tasted like bath water and sweated out of me before it could take effect.  And then the clouds gathered.

It was an ominous summer storm, one that you can smell in the air, musty and evil.  The sky grew dark with anger and the thunder rolled, heralding a judgement on humanity.  Lightning cracked against the house like a woman scorned.  I was alone with my children - my husband was on a mission in our nation's capitol, trapped on an airplane that could not fly in such a monsoon.  The phone rang and a neighbor child, scared and also alone, left the shelter of her home with her shih tzu and joined us on our sinking vessel.

I scraped together a meal as the winds raged outside.  I opened the doors, oblivious to the danger, in hopes that the hurricane winds would provide just a moment's relief.  Again the phone rings - this time it's my husband:

Him: "Well, we're just sitting here on the plane, and they think we may take off soon, but they won't know for awhile so we're just hanging out."
Me: "I don't have time for this.  We have to get out of here.  It's so hot, too hot ..."
Him: "I know, I know."
Me: "You don't know.  You haven't lived through this.  I've got to save the children."
Him: "OK.  Just go in the basement."

No, it was too late for that.  I went upstairs to give the abandon ship call, when I felt a drip on my head.  Water was coming from the ceiling and covering the floor.  We had sprung a leak.  With swift feet and fearful heart, I bounded up the attic stairs to a dreadful scene.  Water, water everywhere.  I ran for towels and began sopping up the mess, desperately hoping to plug the holes.  I cried out to the children: "More towels!  A bucket!"  They came running with supplies, and we formed a line of hope across the house. 

Then the moment of truth.  "Turn it on.  Try the AC now."  And with a clink, clink, clink that sounded like an angel's song, the AC churned back to life.  Water continued to run, but I didn't care.  We would not die this day.

I kept the boat afloat until my husband returned home well past midnight.  His had been the last plane out.  As he began investigating the damage, I fell asleep with dreams of the ocean.

This morning, he woke me with news of a solution. 

Him: "I have fixed it" he said.  "I have run tubing out of the unit, so the water can drain.  I just need you to do one thing for me."
Me: "Anything.  What is it?"
Him: "I need you to regularly suck on the hose."


Martin, I get it now.

It is amazing what one will do in dire circumstances. I have just been immersed in the book, State of Wonder, which tells the story of a doctor in the rain forest who goes native and starts gnawing bark off a tree.  Given my frame of mind and the primal nature of my existence at this moment, I didn't question the directive to suck on a hose. 

The hose on which I have been sucking.
The water I suck out then drains into the bucket. 
And yes, this is my closet.

I do not like sucking on the hose.  The water tastes bad and I feel like a baby pig being nursed by a fake teat.  My husband is going to have to suck his own damn hose when he gets home, or else I'm voting him off the island.

Until next time, keep crowin' and never doubt your inner warrior!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tongue and Cheek

As the president of a community theatre organization, I have the opportunity to see a lot of shows. Many of them I will be reviewing and rating as part of our awards program. I recently went to see a musical with my sister, and gave her a glimpse into a world that is really best entered only after you drink the Kool-Aid.

We walked into a pleasant theatre space and were greeted warmly. I was introduced to the head honcho, whom I've never met before. Without further ado, he launched into a well-rehearsed, yet nervous speech, about one of his ingenues who was puzzled as to why she had not received an invitation to perform at the awards ceremony. His eyes were wildly rolling around their sockets and his skin tone was quickly going from white to pink. With hands flourished in some type of interpretive dance, he kindly inquired as to whether this was some "difference" from years past.

Ah yes, I moved the trash can. I have been told that your first year in any new leadership position, you should maintain the status quo. Don't move the trash can or paint the walls. But I did. I changed the format of the ceremony from having our musical actress and actor nominees perform to having the nominated shows select something to present.

I did this because of a snafu we hit last year when one of our performers dropped out at the last minute due to a recently-discovered extra-marital affair. Her soon-to-be-ex explained to me over pasta and chianti at the after-party that one reason for the split was some faulty equipment issues on his part - but he adamantly assured me that everything was working again. It was one of those conversations where you keep a very calm, still face on the outside, but on the inside you are screaming, "Didhejusttellmeabouthispenis?!!"

But I digress.

As I explained the ceremony changes and apologized for the confusion, I heard my sister behind me making sympathetic noises and soothing tones towards the man. It's a natural reaction, to sing a lullaby to a crying baby. Once placated, he then told me about the great sacrifices he was making to attend the ceremony this year. And with a turn and a two-step, he was gone.

My sister and I had excellent seats for the show, a raunchy tale that promised profanity and brief nudity. Since we were front and center, we were able to observe every ripple and dimple on the dancers' scantily-clad rear ends. Our neighbors probably thought I had a nervous tic, as I was constantly averting my eyes so as not to catch a glimpse of a stray pubic hair or part of someone's hoo-ha. There were some stand-out moments, but also so much to deconstruct and explain to my sister.

For instance, the longer an actor's program bio is, the larger their ego. There were people in the show with no more than a few lines who took up several paragraphs discussing their "celebrity" "artistic talents" and "triple threat" status. The amount of awards they claim is proportional to the number of times they've gotten laid.  And if they don't thank the cast and crew, it's because everyone hates them.

Another thing is nepotism. People get parts all the time because they are best friends or brothers with the director. Such was the case for at least one poor soul, who, after we realized he was a man with a girl's name and not a woman in drag, demonstrated that he had never danced before in his life. The choreographer had created such a complicated routine to showcase her genius, but this guy just flopped around the stage with his eyes glazed over and his mouth hanging open. It was both uncomfortable and fascinating, and segued into a locker room scene that provided more unwelcome views of hairless chests and the revelation that puberty may have been severely delayed in some.

The show ended with a whimper as the grand finale song withered on the vine, but we did get one last peek at the women's "cheeks."  Then my sister and I bypassed the receiving line and the eagle eye of the pinkish head honcho and high-tailed it out of there. We were on sensory overload and needed to decompress.

Sister: "Is it always like this?  I mean, how do you handle it?"
Me: "It makes me feel normal."  And secretly, I can relate to all of these people more than I care to admit.

So, with that, the season has begun and I look forward to sharing it with you.  But not too much ....

Until next time, keep crowin'!