Monday, November 29, 2010

The Pain and Agony of Motherhood

There are times when I am pretty sure I am not cut out for this Motherhood gig and maybe after 25 years I should give it up. This afternoon was a prime example. My youngest daughter is running 101 degrees temperature and feels like she is surely dying. I insist that she see a doctor. So we are in the waiting room at the Dr's office. At this point there is nothing I can do to make her feel better or improve the situation. (Having seen Harry Potter the night before, Damn! I wish I had that magic wand!)

Meanwhile, she is telling me she got sick because she came home, the bed is uncomfortable, she wants to go back (to her house in Charleston) today, I am doing nothing to make her better, and although she never says out loud, though she does come close - this is somehow all my fault. All the time, I'm feeling useless and guilty. The  child (at 21) looks like death warmed over and I can only imagine how badly she feels. In fact she looks so sick, I can overlook all the blasphemous things she is currently accusing me of. 

When the doctor does see her and diagnoses her with strep throat he prescribes an antibiotic and a painkiller that will knock her out (there is a God). I take her home, tuck her in bed, and correctly medicate her. I distinctly remember going into labor when she was born and thinking to myself, "Oh God, I remember how this feels. It hurts (being my second child) and I really don't want to go through this again." But I did. And what do I get for it? Agony, abuse, and guilt that never ends. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lights, Lights, Lights

Yes, you can never can never enough lights. I honestly believe our Christmas trees devour lights. When we went to pick out the Christmas tree this year, once again we had a difference of opinion when it came to size. I am a firm believer that when you have eight foot ceilings it is not wise to purchase a nine foot tall tree. My DH, however, is from the school that more is better. I also think he is in denial that our ceilings are not ten feet tall. Thank goodness therapy has helped me understand the reality of the situation - eight feet is eight feet not ten. But I digress.

So we are standing in this field of hundreds of Leyland Cyprus trees, all marked with the actual sizes. (This saves a tremendous amount of stress on my part - it is hard to argue size when you are guessing. In years past, just saying, "Honey that one will not fit." without firm documentation got me no where.) My DH immediately starts looking at nine foot trees. "This one will do." "Not in our den, it's too tall." "We can trim it." "I don't want a tree with a flat top." "I can taper it." "Let's just get an eight foot tree and not have to trim it." After much "discussion" we came home with a tree that was eight and 2/3's feet tall.

After trimming some off the trunk, we brought the tree into the den. As we stood the tree up, the top bent against the ceiling. In surprise, my DH commented, "Why do they always get bigger when the get in the den?" "Funny how that happens - every year." After some selective trimming on the top, we were ready to add the lights and ornaments. When I pulled the lights out of the box, I asked if he would humor me and reprogram the lights so they would just stay on and not twinkle, fade, flash, chase, and blink as they did last year. Reluctantly he agreed.

I started at the top putting the lights on the tree. As I got about two thirds of the way down, I realized I was running out of lights. Sure enough, I ran out of lights before I finished. Long story short (oh, God I'm becoming my mother!) it took a trip to Columbia and an order to Amazon before we could find lights that matched our new warm energy saving LED lights. The worse part, and I will admit it, was that two or three weeks ago, we were in Sams and saw the lights, and when my DH suggested we buy more, I told him that was crazy, we certainly had enough lights. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Cards - Have a Good One

OK, the Christmas Cards have been ordered (after they have been edited of course). So, now I need to carefully craft a very short, fifty words or less, note to slip in them that basically says, yes we are all alive, our oldest daughter is alive and well, even though her name is no longer in the family salutation, and our youngest is not as needy as it seems, since she insisted on being included. And, if there is any room left I can let family and friends know we are doing OK, without going into any annoying details.

I have always been tempted to write a two page letter that listed every malady all four of us had during the year (down to hang nails), all of our doctor appointments (in chronological order of course), every shopping excursion we took (listing the amount of money we saved), and a run down of the annual family reunion. Two things held me back - the total revulsion of the idea and the exhausting amount of time it would take.

We have several friends we can count on to deliver an annual epistle that touts the Olympic athletic talents and incredible scholarly achievements of their children. Really, like I care that their ten year old was named most valuable player on his local soccer team. Could the fact Mom brought homemade snacks and fresh squeezed juice to every practice and game have any influence? (Find it hard to believe? Skip down to paragraph 4 in the letter, she covers her "soccer mom" contributions.) 

And, as for academics, little Mary Lou (at 8) was doing well at the regional spelling bee until she got tripped on the word triskaidekaphobia. Of course the winner, Haj Gupta, had an inside track and his mother doesn't even cook. Way too much information.

What happened to "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year"? - besides it being politically incorrect and trite. Maybe, I'll just may it short and sweet, "All survived, still talking, nothing to write home about, waiting for the big guy in Red, have a good one, stay tuned until next year."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blanche Lincoln - Really?

Maybe I'm a little more southern than I think. Last week at the symposium, I was part of a team giving a presentation. The room was full, the topic timely and popular. I was feeling very good about the program and how it was going. When I finished my part, I asked if any one had any questions. There were several substantive questions, and perhaps I had a little self confidence since I knew the material so well.

Then came the lady to my right who raised her hand,"I just love your necklace. Can you tell me where you found it?" I was so taken aback, I started to say "Why, it was in my jewelry case this morning," but I tempered myself and just smiled and graciously thanked her. From the back of the room a lady stood up and said,"My friends and I think you sound just like Blanche Lincoln. Has anyone everyone told you that?" I assumed they were from Arkansas.

Great, I thought to myself. All my work getting ready for this presentation could have been reduced to the selection the best necklace and my normal southern cadence. Did anyone take me seriously? Perhaps all my effort in college and my father's investment was a waste. And, no one even commented on the new sweater I spent days picking out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rumors of Spam

I happened to be in San Diego when the Splendor was brought into port (with the help of several tugboats.) Much to Carnivals' despair the newest jewel of their cruise line had a small "issue" in the main engine room several days before while sailing in the Pacific. Now, when I say small problem, I mean something akin to the day my friend realized her husband still liked to date other women while they were married. But I digress.

After all was said and done the "issue" in the engine room was a fire and when the smoke cleared, the crew realized the main engine no longer worked and left the ship powerless to sail . . . or cook the meals . . . or cool the ship . . . or even worse yet - cool the beer. Suddenly things were no longer Splendorous, shall we say.

A cruise ship is a wonderful place when the elevators work, the cabins are cool, you are not in the dark, the beer and liquor are cold, the food can be prepared, and the boat is making its way to your destination. Suddenly walking up 9 flights of stairs to a buffet of dry cereal, vienna sausages, and crackers loses the "Love Boat" feel. (Trust me, I can assure you, there were no pictures of this is the multi-color brochure.)

Meanwhile back at the dock, we were standing there with the world's media (literally) jostling for a front row space. In many different languages you could hear the same monologue, over and over, "We are waiting here for the Carnival Splendor to come in. You can see it over my shoulder as the tug boats assist it in. After an accident in the . . . " Every five minutes or so, a reporter or producer would approach us and ask if we were kin to anyone on the ship.

Of course being honest people we said, "No, we just happened to be here." - the first 6 or 7 times. It was then I suggested that our line should be, "Well, I am waiting for my sorry ass husband to get off that boat. He and his hussy girl friend decided to take a little "business" trip on the Splendor. I can assure you that being on a boat with no power, no toilets, and rotten food are far better than what he has in store when I get a hold of him."

Heck, if we were going to stand here, we may as well participate in the melee. After all that was much more interesting than the rumors that the Coast Guard had shipped in pallets of Spam to sustain the passengers on this ill fated cruise, quickly followed with a story of packs of Pop Tarts being sent for additional nourishment. Comments were made world wide about the insult to injury for the passengers - they had to walk up 9 flights of stairs in the dark heat for Spam.

Some folks down here were confused and took offense, asking "What's wrong with Spam?" "Wonder if they got the Original flavor, Hot and Spicy, or Hickory Smoke?" "I bet because it was a fancy cruise they got Spam with Bacon and Spam Spread on white bread!" "But I'd be mad if they only had warm beer." I guess there are some things that cross all lines. "Thank God, they got back to port before the Sunday, after all with no electricity they would have missed the NASCAR race in Phoenix."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No Post Today

Due to the insane notion that taking a red eye flight back from the west coast at my age was a good idea at the time, it is all I can do to get home. Note to self - when the ticket has an asterisk reminding you that your departure and arrival times are on different calendar dates and your trip does not involve a passport - drink some more Diet Coke with Lime and check for other available itineraries prior to purchasing a ticket. There is a reason they market wrinkle cream and concealer for women of my age - you can be in denial all you want but we are no longer spring chickens. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

God, Country, Beer, and NASCAR

Oh, how southerners love their NASCAR - a true phenomena. Although some of us sit back and scratch our heads - how did this become a national sport? How did these drivers become household heros? Why do Tide and Duracell and Lowes want their names and colors pasted all over the sides of these cars and the suits of these drivers? Why do fans pay a high price for tickets every Sunday afternoon to watch cars go around in an oval for several hours to cheer their favorite driver on? Or, pay for an extra cable tier for "In Car Access" to see their favorite driver, so they can truly be part of the race.  

But now, as my Aunt Kat would say, NASCAR has gotten too big for their britches - they have out grown their roots. Now 60% live outside the south, since 2000 the number of fans making $100K a year has almost doubled (from 7% to 16%, with almost 50% making 50K),  the number having a college degree has "swelled" to 25%. (And, 33% smoke - cigarettes.)

OMG, their base is getting downright sophisticated. Wall Street can no longer make fun of the red-necks and their stock cars, although I'm not sure Las Vegas and Pennsylvania quite know what to do with the fans when they descend for the Shelby 427 or Pocono 500 This is big business. Maybe that is why the sponsors have moved from Mountain Dew to Nicoderm or Pabst Blue Ribbon to Miller Light. But then, you can build tracks and have races all over the country, the fans' demographics can shift (a bit), but some things never change. When the engines start, there is still a lot of big hair, beer, and good ol' boys. 

What most people don't know is that the roots of NASCAR started with bootleggers in North Carolina and Florida. Everyone who studied history (and paid attention)  know in the South during prohibiton there was a very healthy industry of bootleg whiskey - moonshine.  Liquor stills were located there, especially in the hills of North Carolina and Tennessee. The good ol' boys were always trying to out smart the revenuers delivering their prized libations. Then after the repeal of prohibition in 1933, they were still running the moonshine, making money avoiding the "Feds" and tax collectors.

When they got bored of outrunning the IRS, the good ol' boys started trying to out run each other and stock car racing was born. As the sport developed, they probably  justified their racing on Sunday because they did not want to compete with that other holy Grail in the south - college football on Saturday. 

But, NASCAR is entwined with the Baptist. If you look close, it is said  that  several drivers have Bible verses pasted on the dashboards of their cars so they can be seen by their diehard fans through the "In Car Access" cameras. Also, one driver, Morgan Sheppard, had a  decal of Jesus on the hood of his car (I am assuming not next to a Bud Light sign). 

Only, in the South - God, country, beer, and NASCAR. Of course the races are held on Sunday afternoon, well after church (and when it is safe to buy batteries from Wal-mart). Certainly the (good ol') boys attend church before "starting their engines" - don't they?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Trinity

Without the Holy Trinity, my mother would be mute. Now, my Mama is a good God fearing Presbyterian but this trinity has nothing to do with fathers, sons, and ghosts. This deals with who just died, what's going on in her Sunday School class, and that "arrogant" florist that moved into her neighborhood. Without these topics, I'm not sure what she would make her long stories short about. 

For the record, the florist just replaced my Aunt J'Nelle - and those were pretty big shoes to fill. My mother could go on for days about how my Aunt had wasted her life and could have done anything with her multiple degrees, how she thought she was better than anyone else when she came back from Boston, and  then could never admit how pea green jealous she was of her college roommate - Liddy Dole. (My Aunt J'Nelle was a die hard liberal democrat, who dreamed of being a Kennedy.) But I digress.

Oh my Aunt had her own triumvirate - how provincial my mother was, the fact that the republicans were going to ruin the country, and the God awful manners most people exhibited at the dinner table. The perfect storm was the two of them in the same room. Then the aftermath followed. They each had fodder for weeks. And the rest of us just had to endure the fallout. 

Meanwhile my dear Aunt Kat kept to her matronly topics, the Presbyterian church, her cats, and her best friend, Mary Ella (a fellow old maid). Her most racy comment most likely would have concerned Martha McCorkle putting onions in her chicken salad for the church homecoming dinner. But even that would have been said in hushed tones and not in mixed company.

I was reminded of all this just this morning when (in a moment of total insanity) I asked my mother, "What's up?" "Oh, you wouldn't believe it. I know you are busy, but to make a long story short, that florist down the street has just added more topiaries to his driveway. It's starting look like Disney World." "Now, I wouldn't say that. So far he hasn't added any characters." (I just couldn't help myself.) The remark was lost on her, because she moved. "And, did I tell you Harriett died. The funeral will be tomorrow. But, it was for the best,  she was in bad shape." All, I had to do was bide my time, the Sunday school class was on deck.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Running Away to Join the Circus

I think I'll join the circus , or is it too late -probably so. That train has already left - literally. When I was younger - much younger, like every other imaginative child, I dreamed of joining the circus. And every time I got sent to my room for some misunderstanding between me and my parental units, that desire only increased. "By God, I'll show them." I even spent time mentally crafting  what the note I would leave on my bed would say. (I always had the flare for the dramatic.)

Those were the minor details. More importantly, I had to decide which profession I would study. Naturally I pined for the "Flying Trapeze" - they always had the best costumes and were the stars of the show. One problem there, I was deathly afraid of heights. That also knocked the high wire act off the list. I wasn't into large animals (or small dogs). The idea of cramming myself into a small car with 13 other people didn't thrill me. And, I never understood the idea of spinning plates and juggling balls. 

I came to rest on the idea of working with the horses. Riding around the center ring with a colorful outfit complete with rhinestones and a fancy hat with feathers. Heck, I could practice that on my trusty steed, Rusty. He, however, was not enthused with the idea. At the age of eleven, how did I know the idea of being a circus horse offended his career as hunter. But I digress.

That decision made, I just needed to find a circus to join. And, dag nabit, every time I was so mad at my parents and my plan to join the circus was the ultimate way out, there was never a circus around. Where is a good circus when you need one? So I grew up, forgot about the big top, and life moved on.  

Then last week I found myself watching PBS's series Circus. They follow the Big Apple Circus for a year as it tours around the country. And just like that, I am ready to pack my bags again. I don't need to fly through the air, make folks laugh, tame wild animals, or ride fast horses. Just give me the open road, the smell of hay, and the sound of the calliope and the barkers. Where do I sign up?

It is the ultimate escape. One can hide in broad day light. And, yes I am not blinded by the romantic notions, I know it is hard, dirty, dangerous work that goes on for long hours day after day. But at fifty, one's goals and ideals change. You are never too old to enjoy the thrill of the big top. And, you are never too old to dream of running way. And, if you think so, I really feel sorry for you. Now, I just need to find circus. And, not the one I live in.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time and Travel

If you ever want to see the walking dead, well they are living and perhaps a little more animated, but not very lively, try an airport terminal at 4 am. You know it is early when valet parking is not open and there are no sky caps to be found. But zombies are slowly moving in as if they are drawn by some light calling them from the darkness.

So this is what it looks like. OK, I can now check this off whatever list of life it is on, not that I was dieing to experience it. I join the droves pulled in by the light. I am an early morning  person, but even for me this is pushing it.

To make matters worse, the time changed this morning. Fall back and spring forward or is it fall forward. Just what I need to be time challenged at 2 in the morning. I set the clock next to my bed an hour back and the alarm for 2am. I set the alarm on my cell phone for 2am also (hoping, once again it is smarter than I am and at the bewitching hour it will change on its own.) Then I feared I would stay awake all night wondering if I have set the clocks correctly and, if so, would the alarms go off. But I have and they do.

But hey what is time anyway. When I reach the Charlotte airport, however, it is a whole 'nuther ball game. Travelers are making mad dashes down the concourses. Even little old ladies were moving at a quick pace, one in particular. I happened to sitting near the counter when she made her way through crowd. Good thing she didn't have cane. As she approached the counter, she looked at the board, then looked at the airline person, "Oh my, I thought my flight was leaving from this gate, but the sign says Toledo, and now I have missed it." "Where is your flight to?" "Las Vegas." "No mam. This is the right gate. With the time change, for some reason all our signs have the wrong time and flight information on them."

 Just then two middle age ladies with straw hats and bags came flying up behind her, out of breath. The look on their faces told the story. "Oh no," one said almost in tears. The older lady turned to them, "Honey if you're going to Vegas you haven't missed your flight." and with that she just shuffled off. The ladies at the counter explained the confusion.

Then an announcement was made to everyone in the airport, apologizing for the problem, asking for everyone's patience, and saying they hoped it would be fixed quickly. Suddenly, as if everyone was now operating under the yellow caution flag, the frantic pace of the travelers slowed. Everyone had been running from gate to gate, looking for flights that were not posted at times that did not exist. 

Everyone, but me. I had checked the TV monitor and saw my flight was at B14, went to the gate, and never thought to look at the board above the counter. (My 2am wake-up was catching up with me.) My flight could have been moved 12 gates down and 2 concourses over and I would have been the last to know. Wait a minute, if this is Vegas, where's my flight?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Man attacks imaginary woman in judge's car

Headline reads: Man attacks imaginary woman in judge's car

Once again our local paper covered  this story (so it had to be true). According to the article:

A  [County] man gave a colorful story as he was charged Thursday with breaking the windshield of a vehicle belonging to a County magistrate.

The 52-year-old man was charged with malicious injury to personal property." He was denied bond.

Deputies were sent to [the Magistrate's home] around 7:30 a.m. Thursday. [The Magistrate] told deputies the man smashed a window on his car with a spray paint can.

The man told deputies that 'there was a woman in the front seat of the vehicle who kept changing her wigs and face (changing from black to white, then back again)," according to the Sheriff's Office incident report.

The man also informed the deputies of a man in the back seat of the car who was 'hiding two pots of weed under his butt.'

Deputies looked inside the vehicle. No one was there.

However, as deputies' eyebrows and skepticism went higher, the man began yelling that the woman was changing her appearance again.

He said the woman worked for the police and had brought him to the summary court judge's private residence to smoke marijuana.

When the officers asked the man if he had taken any 'medication,' he said, 'yes, a lot!' according to the report.

The officers then took the man into custody. Both the multi guised woman and the weed hiding man are still wanted for questioning by the defendant's attorney.

Monday, November 1, 2010

In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing

I'm on the first leg of my flights home, and about a third of the way through the flight attendants' mandatory safety review, it dawns of me that as many times as I have flown, I don't know what she has said. I'm not sure where that emergency flotation device is.

The only two parts I am sure about are "keeping in mind that the closest exit may be behind you" and "the oxygen mask does not need to fully inflate to be operational", neither I really care to have to rely on. And, once again, I've missed the safety review. Certainly my subconscious has picked up some of it after hearing it thirty or forty times this year alone.

I turn and survey the passengers around me. Who can I quickly get ahead of "in the unlikely event of a water landing" (and if Captain Sully is not at the helm)? After all, this is not a time to be polite and gracious. "Excuse me, but would you mind if I move ahead of you, it's matter of life and death [literally]." Those kind folks are going to go down with the ship. Of course, wonderful words will be said about them at their memorial services.

I know I can beat the full figured lady across the aisle - it took her a while to get wedged into her seat earlier. The executive in the row in front of me will most likely hesitate, deciding whether or not he needs to remove his $1100 Berluti shoes. His seat mate is a no brainer, he will most likely sleep through any calamity.

Now, that I have a plan I can go back to reading my magazine. Just then I hear, " . . . of course we'll keep you apprised of the situation as we get more details." I turn to my seat mate - certainly he was paying attention, only to find him snoring quietly. Perhaps, I really should pay more attention to the flight attendants. After all, I'm not sure my personal affairs are in order, I still have 937 places to visit out of the 1000 I should see before die, and I don't think I have on new underwear.