Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday in Snaps

I woke up this morning feeling the pressure of a typical Sunday – too much to do, too little time.  We made the best of it, and all in all, it was a pretty darn productive day.


BigGirl woke up early on the office floor.  The girlies had decided to “camp out” on palettes.  BigGirl was the only one to make it through the night. 


I cooked breakfast…


and baked banana bread.


BabyGirl brushed the doggies for me,


and we headed out to run a few errands.


We shared a quick laugh and I stole a hug from some guys in uniform we happened to run into


as we were headed into the bookstore.






We grabbed a quick Italian lunch before picking up the last of our weekly necessities at the store and heading home.






And finally, after a successful, yet degrading, Wii Fit session and a walk around the short loop while the girlies rode their bikes,


we enjoyed a lovely meal of homemade chicken and dumplings and fresh salad.

And that was when we noticed BigGirl was sportin’ a fever….Who knew?….

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Have some whine, won’t you?

I think it’s necessary to introduce this week’s Girl Talk Thursday with a very suitable complaint – whiners.  I really cannot stand whiners.  I mean, everyone deserves and needs an opportunity to vent on occasion.  And, it’s only natural to need to complain a little in life.  But, whiners?  They stand in a class of their own…and I hate them. (I can hear BigGirl in my mind right now saying, “ooooooh…you said Hhhhaaaaate…..” because in my house, that’s a dirty word.)  But, I do.  I hate them. 

People, everyone’s life is hard from time to time.  Everyone’s got something to complain about.  My attitude is – if it’s really that bad, quit whining and get up off your bootie and do something about it. 

That said, this week’s Girl Talk Thursday is all about complaining.  Today we all get a free pass to let’er rip.  So, please do not walk away from this post thinking, “Man…that chick is a whiner.”  Really, I pledge to try my best to never achieve that status.  And you all have permission to smack my face till the make-up comes off if I get that way.  Please, do it.

Anyhow…what’s buggin’ you?  Oh wait, it’s my turn first.  Get ready, folks.  Here we go…

1. It’s times like these when I feel like the demands of professionals in my line of business is absolutely completely humanly impossible.  It is a joke.  We are taken advantage of because the world - the government, the districts, the parents, everyone – knows most of us in this line of business will suck it up and get it done, even if it means sacrificing your sleep, your family, your home, your wallet, and your sanity.  And I think that stinks.  It’s times like these that I seriously consider a permanent career change.  And that really stinks, too.

2.  Money really should grow on trees.  Don’t you agree?  I mean, it’s kinda hard to come by sometimes.  And it takes a lot of work to keep up with it.  And everyone sure does want it once you’ve got it.  That all stinks.

3.  Time is ridiculously hard to come by, too. 

4.  I cannot seem to wake up in the mornings for the life of me!!  Even when I actually have a sleep-filled  night, and I go to bed at a decent hour, I just can’t get out of bed in the morning!  This, I think is partially related to …..

5.  The weather.  I am completely DONE with winter for this year.  I’m ready for spring to spring and stay sprung.  I’m tired of layering, tired of jackets, tired of cold mornings (see #4), tired of it all.  And, I’m ready to wear my flip flops and NOT watch my toes turn blue, thank you very much.

6.  Speaking of weather, we’ve had some rainy days in my neck of the woods this week…which reminds me of something else I’m totally sick of – WET PANT LEG HEMS.  Ugh.  This has become a major pet peeve of mine, just this season.  Wet pant legs are cold, dirty, and generally icky.

7.  I want to play.  I want to run away for a little bit and be footloose and fancy free.  Being  a grown-up really stinks sometimes.

8.  I haven’t had the time and energy to do enough of the things I love lately – like read (still haven’t even gotten into the flashback chapters of Dragonfly in Amber yet), write (yes, I know, I’ve been writing some…but not as much as I’d like), cook (believe it or not, I actually enjoy this…but hate it when it feels more of a burden than a pleasure), and sew (ha! those were some high hopes I had for myself).

9. My house needs to be cleaned…like ALWAYS.  I’m over it.  I need a housekeeper.

10.  My house is littered with laundry…like ALWAYS.  I’m over it.  I need a housekeeper.

11.  Mean kids make me mad.  This week, I’ve had to take time out of my day every freaking day to mend hurt feelings and dole out consequences and guidance because of someone’s unkindness.  Can’t we all just get along, people?  What makes people mean??? (Don’t answer that…I really do know the answer.  Well, I know some of the answers.)

12.  I need to lose weight and I hate myself for it.  I hate when I go undoing good hard work that I’ve already done. 

13. Forgive me, people…but I’m over the Olympics and American Idol.  I’m completely over them.  I do not care.  At all. 

14. I’m also over this freaking war.  I don’t want to go getting all political on you, but I think I tend to be a pacifist for the most part.  (See #11 – Can’t we all just get along?) I think there is a MAJOR shortage of tolerance all over the world – and a MAJOR amount of arrogance. (oooooh…I should put arrogance in this list somewhere….)

15. This week’s SeaWorld death really bummed me out.  Ridiculously so…I have no personal affiliations or anything, but I am utterly saddened by this poor trainer’s death.  That stinks.

16.  My baby girl doggie needs a haircut.  I don’t want to take her, though, until the weather warms up.  She’s sensitive.  She shivers when she’s cold, so she needs all the layers she can get.  (Speaking of, see #6.)

17.  I need to get to the gym more often, because I need to lose weight (see #12), but I can’t seem to get out of bed in the morning to go before work (see #4).  Also, I really wish my gym had more locations with child care and more yoga classes during the hours that I am available and the child care center is open.  (Why don’t they ask for my input when planning this stuff?)

18.  My house needs the carpet ripped out…like 5 years ago.  I hate it.  We MUST do this ASAP.

19.  For the past few days, my hip has been all funky when I wake up in the morning.  I really dislike feeling like my body is letting me down. (This is another reason why I need to get to the gym and yoga.  See #17)

And lastly -

20.  The really cool games that are on my laptop (like Scrabble, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and Jeopardy) are no longer free to play.  They want me to pay to play the games and that is freaking ridiculous!!!! I refuse to sign up to purchase virtual game tokens so I can play a game on my own computer!!!!! (See #2)  This especially stinks because my whole house was completely enjoying those games, even the girlies.  :(


All righty then.  I feel a bit better….I think.  Actually, I think writing this post just got me all fired up…crap.

In order to cool us all off again, what do you say we have a little silliness?  Shall we take a lesson from that baby girl doggie I mentioned up in #16?  Let’s all just kiss and be merry.

Daisy's a lover from Jenny Nash on Vimeo.


***Yeah, that’s the real me.  I’m all serious like that.  All.  The.  Time.  If you have no sense of humor, people, you’ve got NOTHIN’.***

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Little Meg(s)

I laughed to myself today at the sight of BabyGirl in her sister’s outgrown dress under a red ruffled top with her brown suede boots on the wrong feet.  The dress is really still too large for her, so even if the weather were, in fact, warm enough for spaghetti strap sundresses, the shirt would still be required to prevent flashing the world through the too low neckline and gaping armholes.  As we headed towards the glass doors of her school, she confidently slung her lunchbox on her shoulder like a purse and sauntered towards the defunct green button marked “EXIT” that she insists on pushing daily before crossing the threshold. 

She is quite a character.

Today, the spring in her step reminded me sharply of Meg Ryan’s quirky walk in You’ve Got Mail.  Then, the more I thought of it, I realized she is Meg Ryan.  Well, in a matter of speaking.

First off, let me point out: she’s a Gemini.  The twins. Soooooo true.

Twin #1: Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail


Feminine, yet not overly prissy.  She’s smart, quirky, spunky, and independent.  She isn’t afraid to speak her mind – no matter how giant the foe….and all of this tucked neatly away beneath the exterior of sugar and spice and all things nice.  She is just so “cute”.

BabyGirl has a side of her that is sweet as pure honey.  “Esscuse me, Mommy.  When djou are done can djou please get me som’mor golefish?”  She loves and dotes on the doggies with the gentlest of hands, pulling them to her and kissing their cheeks.  She holds me, kisses my face and rests her head on my shoulder and spontaneously says, “I love you.”  She’s been a little cuddle bunny from her own very beginning, wanted to be held even more so than BigGirl (always described as a cuddly baby herself) ever did.  Because of her sleep struggles, BabyGirl sweetly, pitifully asks us to “soffly” her (rub her face and arms softly) until she falls asleep. 

Yet, she has that joyful quirkiness and independence to her spirit that tells her to wear a short-strapped purse across her body like a messenger bag and sport shoes on the wrong feet, despite repeated corrections. (She likes them that way.)

Twin #2: Meg Ryan in Addicted to Love

DSC_0723She’s a bit hard core.  Do not cross her; she will come at you full throttle.  She holds grudges and is smart enough, sly enough, and determined enough to see those grudges to the bitter end.  Her emotions are raw and unfiltered.  She is a force to be reckoned with….

I told you about her first cat fight at school, didn’t I?  I’ve long thought it humorous that I am more often than not rescuing her older sister from her rather than the other way around. (In fact, I cannot think of a single time I’ve had to rescue her from her sister.)  She does everything with a passion – all the way back to nursing and taking bottles.  (That’s when FireDaddy and I started joking that we fully expect to walk into a party one day and find her upside-down beneath a funnel.) 

She is just starting to give BigGirl a run for her money with the smarts.  Just the other day I overheard her spouting off (with a tone of sass, might I add) in the backseat to her big sister about Pluto’s status as a dwarf planet.  

And you know the old trick of promising dessert for those who finish their dinner?  Forget it.  If she doesn’t want it – she isn’t going to eat it.  She’ll sooner pass on her favorite dessert than let you get your way.  The end.  No negotiating.  “Akch-ually, I don’t want chocolate ice cream,” and she’s finished.  For real.  You may as well save your breath.

As for cleaning up toys?  “BabyGirl, if you don’t help clean up I’m going to throw these toys away!”

“OK, Mommy.  You can frow dem away.” 

…and I do…..and she doesn’t care. The girl means what she says.


This BabyGirl of mine surprises me everyday.  It is so amazing to watch her start to stretch out her legs as she is figures out which way those legs will take her.  I have a feeling, no matter which way her road will lead, it’s going to be a wild ride.   We are going to have some kind of fun.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday in Snaps

FireDaddy took the girlies to the zoo today.  I felt more than a little under-the-weather this morning, so I stayed behind.  Somewhere near mid-day, I felt up to getting dressed and hitting the market.  Before I ran out, though, I decided to play a bit in the yard. 

I’m planning a little family shoot in the backyard sometime soon.  I especially want some Mommy and Me shots, since I’m rarely ever in the snaps I take of my girlies anymore.  So, I took advantage of the uninterrupted silence and sunshiny day to practice a little bit of my self-timed photo skills.

And for future reference, I discovered this is waaaaaay harder than it looks.

sunday in snap 1

sunday in snap 3

sunday in snap 2

 (grrr….frizzy hair and ocean breeze…..)


That’s all for Sunday in Snaps this week.  Next week, more of the other stuff.  That’s enough of me for a while.


(Now I have to find the guts to push publish….oy……)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I’m such a follower.

Have you ever done something and thought “Why am I doing this???”  Yeah. Me too.  Really recently, in fact.

A few weeks ago, I was teasing my friend Melanie about her online gaming.  When I say “online gaming”, I am not referring to the “World of Warcraft” types of games that my darling brother plays.  No, I’m talking about the far more pointless – albeit no less addicting -  variety,  like Farmville and 4Square

Melanie’s (and at least half a dozen other folks’) Farmville updates clog up my Facebook newsfeed.  This I find humorous because I have nothing to do with virtual agriculture or livestock.  Nothing, I say.  Nada.  So, I couldn’t resist ribbing my dear friend when her little thumbnail Google maps started flooding in on top of her pleas for help with her manure shoveling duties…or whatever it is you people do in Farmville. 

And then, in a moment I’m not proud of, I downloaded that silly app to my Blackberry, and now I’m checkin’ in all over town.   4square

“Why on Earth am I playing this silly game?” I ask myself regularly.

Today alone was worth it.  Now, I am truly hooked.

The Girlies and I had to make a quick run to Target for some eye make-up remover and a new water filter for my coffee maker.   A trip, by the way, that AMAZINGLY cost me UNDER $30!!! I know you know why I’m celebrating that. And if you don’t know, keep it to yourself because I may begin to hate you.  While I sat in the car, waiting for my little shoppers to finish chowing down on their pretzels and whales (imitation Goldfish) so we could shop without crumbs, I dutifully checked in on my 4 Square app. 

SURPRISE!!!!! “You just ousted Melanie as the Mayor of Target!”

heh. heh. heh.

A sinister smile smeared across my face as I headed in for my necessities. 

Later, as I unloaded in my driveway, The Pink Lady chirped. 

“Mayor Nash…are you still here?”

Melanie was pulling into Target and must have just received the news of her displacement.  We had a good laugh, and moved on with our day.

A short while later, I saw that she had ousted some Random Dude as the Mayor of Chick-Fil-A.  This was even better….

Me: …and how do you think Random Dude feels about this?

Her: Same way I felt when you ousted me!

Me: heh heh. :) don't you know it's probably worse when it's someone you don't know?  at least you can smile and laugh with me about it - he's probably all "that crazy Melanie, the bitch, I'll show her!!!! - I'll take a number one with a diet coke!" LOL

Yes, folks.  This is what life is all about:  ousting your friends for a good laugh, and ousting strangers for an even better one. 

We’re kicking ass and taking names.

Now, who’s  up for some 4 Square???  Anyone?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm Golden

I'm going to be completely honest with you. I really don't care much about the Olympics.

I know. You're all probably gasping and slapping a hand over your now gaping mouth. Sorry.

When I was little, I enjoyed know, figure skating, syncronized swimming, all that jazz. And, there for a while, a dozen or so years ago, I could get into them...but, now??? Not so much.

Perhaps it's the change in television coverage. Is it me or does it seem like the coverage is much choppier and lighter now? It feels like it has narrowed in variety, too. But then again, perhaps its just me.

And, I'm embarrassed to admit, I'm minorly annoyed by the commentators. And the cowbells. Don't get me wrong, cowbells have a place in the world. I just don't think that place is on the slope of a snow-covered mountain amongst a crowd of screaming fans, layered behind loudspeakers saying the same message over and over again in multiple languages AND annoying television commentators rambling on and on about crap I don't really care about.

Now, with that said, it's
Girl Talk Thursday. This week, we're talking Olympics.

What would I medal in, were I to find myself in the Olympics???

Oh, the glory...I could be a double medalist.

1. Making new outfits out of the same old stuff.

I can remember standing in my mother's walk-in closet years ago thinking, "One day, I want to have this many clothes." Lofty goal, right? I think I've achieved that now.

However, before that goal was realized, I wanted to present the same effect. One summer, I challenged myself. Could I go to the entire summer term without ever repeating the same outfit? Of course, repeating individual items was permitted - but never used exactly the same way. Accessorize it differently, combine it with different pieces, change it up somehow.

I think I succeeded. If not, I came darn close.

I still rarely repeat exact outfits. I tend to think of my closet in sort of a "choose your own adventure" sort of way. In fact, just this week I repeated an exact outfit and, since I'm being honest, I felt like I was cheating. I don't want to bore anyone, you know? A girl's gotta keep'em guessing.

2. Falling down.

When I was pregnant with BigGirl, I had at least three nasty falls. I remember tumbling down a steep flight of stairs at my grandmother's house as a child. I have a pair of surely jinxed shoes (or two) that I fall in almost everytime I wear them.

A few years ago, I was at field day with my class when I playfully accepted a challenge from a student to race. I held my own very well until I "opened up" at the very end. I literally lost control and found myself rolling head over heels in the grass after skinning my knees, elbows and hands.

My first year of teaching, I walked over to my desk chair at the back of the classroom, sat down, and immediately toppled out of my chair onto the floor. To my embarrassment, I almost immediately had 17 startled and worried little first graders huddling around my desk, gingerly helping me up and timidly righting my chair.

Just a week or so ago, I was headed home from school when I hit a puddle with my foot and - schwoomp - thank goodness I'm flexible. I was in a half-split (in a dress, mind you) with a bruised and skinned knee. After I picked myself up and headed out the door to pick up BabyGirl from school, the custodian chased behind me saying, "You need to fill out a report!"

I waved my hand good-bye and called to her, without looking back, "I'm fine! I fall all the time!"

So girlfriends, let me know if you hear anything in the news about these two events being added to the Olympic roster. I can win these gold medals...and I can win them with style.

Counting Virtual Blessings

No one understands exactly how amazing the internet is…until you’ve experienced it firsthand. I’m not talking about how fast it is, or how the information you need is always just on the other side of a Google search. I’m talking about the human element.

Many of us who’ve dared to venture into this flat world have tried to explain the circles of friends that exist within the blogosphere to those “on the outside”. No one really gets it…and, if you’re like me, you find yourself starting to question your own sanity as you try to explain it to others, struggling to make it sound un-freaky – even though you know fully well that it isn’t creepy at all.

The internet has blessed me with a circle of friends that I never would have met otherwise. It has blessed me by strengthening my connection with friends and family in ways that may have taken years – if it would have even happened at all. And, amazingly, the internet has allowed me – no, taught me – how to open myself unabashedly to accept love whole-heartedly.

One of these blessings that have fallen into my lap is Colleen (seated at right).

You may have read my Girl Talk Thursday posts before. Colleen is a part of the crew that organizes Girl Talk. As it so turns out – by the magic of the internet – she also happens to live in my town. So, recently, we had a “tweet up” and spent an afternoon together over delicious food and amazing Riesling. We hugged tightly and sincerely, with giddy smiles, the minute we recognized each other.

Colleen embraces the world with that same tenacity. She does not shy from affection – which makes me love her even more. She never tempers her kindness and support with cynicism. …but at the same time, she can drop an awesome f-bomb (or three) over lunch and you’ll laugh till your head hurts and your sides ache.

In short, I’m so thankful that I know her and I have her as a friend, an ear, and a shoulder. I know she will be there whenever I call.

Thank you, Colleen.

And, thank you for my award. :)


Now, for the nitty- gritty. Here’s how this works…

1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award.

2. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

3. Link to the person who nominated you for the award.

4. Share seven interesting things about yourself.

5. Nominate your own seven Beautiful Bloggers.

Now, I know you’re all itching to hear seven interesting things about me…and, quite honestly, I am too. I mean, seven???? Really people??? Wow…I’m hard-pressed to come up with two.

1. I live with my heart in the driver’s seat and my brain in the backseat, holding onto the “oh shit” bar and gritting its teeth (she’s not that great of a driver). I’ve tried it the other way around though, and it just isn’t for me. If you don’t like it, keep it to yourself. If you do, come on in. You’re welcome to ride with me. It is sure to be worth it in the end.

2. My only clear memories of recess are from my earliest school days, preschool or kindergarten, at Trinity Day School in Texas. I remember standing in our little navy jumpers at the back corner of a faded asphalt basketball court, out behind the bigger building on campus. There was a chain link fence covered in a vine. As a child, I was sure it was honeysuckle, though in retrospect, perhaps it was a variety of jasmine. I remember picking and sucking the blossoms with my friends. I also remember walking in the grass, picking buttercups and touching the pollen inside the petals with my little fingers, singing Mary Had a Little Lamb and playing London Bridge.

3. I can’t stand to have my mouth and nose covered up. I have this crazy fear of suffocating. Thankfully, it’s gotten a lot better over the past dozen or so years, but I still don’t like it.

5. I will turn 33 this summer. That number echoes and reverberates in my head like the calculator screen when you divide 100 by 3. 33.333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333………………

This is not to say that I’m troubled by this age; really, I’m fine with it. I actually rather like it. (Which is an improvement. I didn’t like 29 or 30 too much.) It just always produces that mental image of duplicity…or triplicity…or, so on… I think it must be something about the number three.

6. Ever since I visited my brother in Boston a few years ago, and spent the days and nights walking between Harvard Square and his apartment and all amongst the historic sites in downtown Boston, I’ve wanted to move into an urban-urban area and sell my car. I’m “over” driving half an hour to get anywhere in town (i.e. anywhere in Jacksonville). I think this goes along the lines of simplifying my life – shop at a corner store, walk to neighborhood restaurants, trade my backyard for a park, push a stroller vs. load up in car seats. I’m getting burnt out on suburbia.

7. I’m currently in the middle of a love affair with fresh mozzarella. I keep it in my bottom fridge drawer and have a hard time not eating large quantities of it at a time. I treat myself to it alone with a glass of wine, though sometimes I enjoy it beside sliced apples or Wheat Thins, before or after dinner. BigGirl calls it “squishy cheese” and complains when she sees the package because “it’s so juicy”. I think it’s a lot like being in love with a dork. “I know he’s kinda ugly, but he makes me happy…”

Now, for the fun part. I get to pass it on!

1. My sister-in-law, Steph, has really risen to the occasion. She’s been there – tried and true – for me like no other. She and I have laughed, cried, drank, texted, emailed, chatted, talked, you name it. We’ve even sent each other ecards of questionable taste. We have always had so much in common, but recently, she’s become so much more than a sister-in-law to me. And for that, I am so incredibly thankful….even if she is a little SWF sometimes and copies my every move while perched atop a burro. I mean, imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? (hee hee)

2. Nominating Cheryl is sort of like cheating, because Colleen nominated her, too…but she deserves it! Cheryl is a cheerleader like no other. She and I have a real world connection, but it is through the power of the twitterverse and the blogosphere that we have the relationship that we have today. Cher and I dug into the trenches together through NaBloPoMo until we came out alive. Cher and I have cried together over emails and I think both of us nearly crawled through the phone at the sound of each other’s voice recently. I, too, can’t wait to see her again and give her a huge hug – and let my mascara streak down my face with my tears of joy.

3. Another blessing brought to me by the internet is this lady. I really don’t know what to link to exactly, since she’s sort of stepped out of the comfort of this little bloggy world to which we belong…and into the slightly racier world of fanfic….but I love her. Scratch that - I should have written, "AND I love her." No buts. She, too, is a budding writer. And for all you Twilight lovers, look for her red-hot-Mac-wearing lips to grace the flaps of book jackets at stores near you someday in the future…you’ll find her in the vampire/werewolf/supernatural/romance/emo section. Anyhow, Meadow, stick this award wherever you find appropriate (since you’ve abandoned your old blog) and feel the love I’m sending with it.

4. I couldn’t do this without sending some love to my real world #1 bloggy/twitter companion, Melanie. I’ve mentioned her here before…she’s the one that started this snowball for me. She can be very persuasive. Melanie and I have so much in common…I am so thankful to have her as a friend, a confidant, and a colleague. She’s got my back, she’s in my corner, and I love her. She freaking rocks.

5. I have not been fortunate enough to meet this chick in person yet, but she truly inspires me. I mean, wow. Her writing is more honest than I thought humanly possible. Her blog tells all and then some about her journey as a recovering alcoholic, lover, and woman. She has gracefully read some of my more private writings – ones I’ve written in response to her own work – writing she has inspired. She may not agree with me, but I see her as an incredibly courageous and strong person and writer, I can only hope some of that rubs off on me. She is someone I admire.

6. My next honoree is my “cousin”, Sean. He probably doesn’t care about this at all – because he all big and bad like that. He runs with the cool crowd, you know. :) Can you remember how it felt to be a little kid and watch older kids & teenagers and think how cool it would be to be big and grown like them? That’s kind of how I feel about him. He’s madly in love with his wife and daughters, and I think that’s amazing. I’d love to meet him one day. I know we would hug and laugh and have a blast – and I’d love to meet his wife and babies, too. I’d hug them all and give squeezes to his baby girls (because all babies deserve squeezes, not because I’m a freaky stalker chick or anything). So, Sean, do with this what you will, and know it is sent with admiration.

7. And, for my last blogger, I’m going to bend the rules. I’m sending this Beautiful Blogger award to another of my kindred spirits, Jen Z. A colleague of mine, she’s been talking to me about starting her own blog – and I’m TOTALLY going to make that happen…NOW! She will be a favorite of yours, I just know it. She’s witty, intelligent, and a lot like me…what’s not to like? hee hee I can’t wait to start reading all that goes on in her head; I’m positive it will not disappoint. Stay tuned for a linky coming your way soon.

All righty, folks. We've finally reached the end of this uber-long awards post. I think I hear the music playing....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beautiful Ione

“It’s pronounced eye – own,” she explained when they were introduced.  

After more than sixteen years of living with her name, she had finally come to love its uniqueness.  But still, she tired of the polite corrections and grinning through butchered, failed attempts. 

Her mother, Natalie, loved the name since she was a mere teen herself.  Rider could not talk her out of it – and, quite frankly, he never tried too hard.  He loved his wife’s flare and never really gave a damn what their small town Texas neighbors thought.  It tickled him to see her happy and he couldn’t – he wouldn’t  - imagine his life any other way…living in her rosy shadow, watching her shine, was always enough for him.

Ione had inherited her mother’s passionate dreams.  She saw herself as a world traveler.  Her eye for color, texture, form and style might just be what took her there.  She had inherited enough of her father’s pragmatic side, though, to know better than to count on that alone.  Her life so far revolved around her goals – everyday focused on furthering her studies and sharpening her talents. 

She was a hard worker, but never felt it.  These things fulfilled her.  She was driven and strong – her dreams and goals were hers alone.  The work she did each day was personal, right down to babysitting those little bratty paint ponyboys and tutoring jocks and cheerleaders.  Ione looked at Hank that day as just another jock.

Hank, however, saw her as someone like no one else.  She had an inner strength and determination shining in her eyes he was far more accustomed to finding in mustang ponies than girls.  Her fair skin and ebony hair held the same striking beauty of a paint’s coat.  She had a God-given grace and composure that could not be taught or faked.  She carriedwithin her a peace and calm he’d seen only within their gentle and loyal Appaloosas. 

Yes, Ione was definitely different….and Hank liked that.


Photo credit: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sweet, Elusive Sleep

I never liked slumber parties.  After the fun and games concluded, my peers drifted away as quickly as they had arrived.  And I would lay wide-eyed, growing more homesick with each passing minute.stars

Dark nights are lonely.  The quiet of a sleeping house grows loud in your ears as you try to tune out the world and turn down your thoughts.  Being surrounded by strange breathing and the unfamiliar ticks, creaks, and sighs of a home that isn’t yours is alarming.  Time stops as you resign yourself to a sleepless night.

Insomnia at home takes on a different form.

The tiny glow of an alarm clock squeezes beneath your eyelid and demands alertness.  Your worries, hopes, lists of things you can’t forget and things you absolutely must do are amplified to the maximum level, like erratic drumming from your neighbor’s garage.  You are helpless.

There are nights I find myself praying.  I whisper The Lord’s Prayer and then I talk to God – heaven – my angels – myself.

There are nights I read.  I toss and turn.  I change my gown.  I get up and watch a movie or do some work.  I write.

Some nights I climb into bed with BigGirl and hold her like the teddy bear I had as a little girl – the one that wore a soft pink day gown from my days as a seven-pound infant. 

And, there are nights I cry.  There always have been, for as long as I can remember.  I cry as I pray in the dark.  I cry until my eyes are dry and burn.

Sweet sleep, why must you be so elusive?  Why must we play these games – you play hard to get and I chase you until my frustration tells me to give up.  Move on.  It must not be meant to be.

Oh, sweet sleep.  Why do you not favor me?  Why must you tease me so?  You fill the night with your lullaby – your sweet, siren song – and I jump ship, hoping to find you, hoping you will come looking for me.  But, you remain just outside of my reach – evading my best tactics, once again. 

And yet, each night, I try again.  Like a foolish lover, I wait for you in the night. 

Again and again.

Yesterday, tonight, and tomorrow.

I lay alone and I wait.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Dancing In the Kitchen

ballerinaI grew up watching My Mama dance.

Daddy still has the same turntable stereo on which we listened to records.  Sometimes Mama and Daddy would dance together.  Sometimes Mama would dance with us.  And sometimes, Mama would dance alone while we watched, smiling and laughing.

Now, my girlies and I dance.  We’ve done so for years.  We’ll turn up the stereo till the neighbors can hear and dance till we sweat and our muscles are sore.  We dance to anything – classical, rock, pop, Latino, you name it.  We just dance. 

We dance ballet, ballroom, interpretive, and group (think: Ring Around the Rosie).  Sometimes I hold them in my arms with their cheek to mine and we spin in circles and dip deeply, smiles pressing into our cheeks.  Sometimes we sautée and arabesque and practice graceful arms and fingers as we tendu or relevé.

Other times, I dance alone.  I dance while I cook dinner, set the table, wash dishes.  I dance while they bathe.  I dance and I sing and I am happy.

I know one day my girlies will look at me and laugh, just like we laughed with My Mama.  Then one day, I will dance alone, with no one there to see.  And finally, there will come a day when they, too, will dance with their babies.  Then, at last, they will know just how happy I was when I danced with them.

A Haunting Tune

I’ve never liked K.D. Lang before.  It’s not that I have disliked her or anything, I’ve just never “known” her as an artist at all. 

Friday night I was on my bed, working on this and that and struggling to keep my eyelids from closing.  My back grew weak from sitting up, and I found myself stretching out on my stomach, my head at the foot of the bed, with my laptop beside me.  A fatal mistake. 

I began drifting in and out of consciousness. My bedroom still warmly lit by the light of my bedside lamp, the television still broadcasting the opening ceremonies, my laptop still faithfully standing by with my work, and I still fully clothed.  

I remember thinking, Who is that singing?

I remember feeling peaceful.   

I couldn’t hear the words clearly in my sleep, but the song seemed to go on forever, in a good way…like it was in slow motion.  It hovered in the room above my bed.

At some point the word hallelujah broke through to my mind.  Soon afterwards, I pulled myself back, lifted my head and said aloud

K. D. Lang???

and then


Since then, this song has haunted me and I’m desperately searching for a copy of it for my Zune.  No luck yet, but I’ll keep trying.  In the meantime, enjoy this older version from YouTube on me. 

By the way…Leonard Cohen’s version?  Don’t bother.  He sounds like he’s dying. 

The lyrics to this song have also intrigued me…you can find them here.

***Addendum – I’m even more intrigued now that I’ve read this.***

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday in Snaps

It’s been a lazy Sunday around here. 

We’ve been “Scramble”-ing with family,

sunday snap 1

chasing balloons


picnicking in the den,


tending to babies and bears,


and snackin’ from sacks in our jammies.


Take a deep breath.  Enjoy your babies.  Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, February 12, 2010

12 x 12 February 2010

Today was quite a day…let’s take a look at the photographic recap.

12 of 12 feb 2010

#1. The day started off rainy and cold.  What a yucky gray drive to school it was.  I could have stayed in bed for another few hours at least.

#2. We started our day with a faculty breakfast celebrating my friend, our Employee of the Year.  Our crew really knows how to throw a party – and, apparently, how to rap….and wear heels with tattoos….and order Starbucks….and take down folks in the car line.

#3.  My students and I worked on nonfiction reading strategies with a very timely and integrated Weekly Reader article on about the war in Afghanistan.  We had a wonderful open-minded discussion about the past 9 years of war.  It was amazingly easy to explain some very complex topics, thanks to our collective literary memories.  (I was able to explain the concept of Osama bin Laden and terrorists, for instance, by using Tony D. in Freak the Mighty.  Sounds odd, but it was a powerful link for them.)

#4. As a stepping stone into responding to literature, students supported their thinking and opinions using details from the text and the smidge of research about the life of an Afghan as they responded to this question:

“Do you think the Afghan people are happy we are sending 30,000 more American soldiers?  Why or why not?”

Again, ….wow.  Powerful thinking from my little kiddos.

#5.  Among an onslaught of chocolate roses, heart-shaped boxes, scented candles, teddy bears, and various other lovies, I received this poem from a student.  It reads:

Rosies are red  vilets are blue you are the best teacher so Happy v-day

I love it.

#6.  Ooooooohhhh….yummy.   We celebrated Valentine’s Day together as a class with an ice cream sundae party.  TIP:  Buy the cardboard 1/2 gallon boxes of ice cream, disassemble the boxes and CUT the ice cream into squares with a big knife.  It is INCREDIBLY easier and faster than scoop, scoop, scooping from a bucket. 

#7. My handsome Harrison stopped by to get some smooches from me.  He’s another one of my boyfriends.  Love that baby!  He’s SO going to be a heart-breaker one day.  Girls will be swooning for miles…

#8.  One of my students took a picture of BigGirl and I today.  We didn’t plan to be twins, but we were. :) We love pink.

#9. Even though the high was in the forties and it didn’t stop raining all day, when we finally got home, both of my girlies peeled off some layers and locked themselves in their room.  They needed time to pull out, pick over, disassemble, and just be kids.

#10.   After dinner it was time to hit Mommy’s bed for a bit of Disney channel.  Apparently, Phineas and Ferb are so much better curled up on my pillows or beneath my covers.

#11.  With the girlies chillin’ beside me, I snatched a few moments (ha!) to chat, write and attempt to make a dent in my Google Reader.

#12.  A bittersweet closure to the day – the opening ceremony of the Olympics was overshadowed by the death of the Georgian luge athlete.  So tragic.  My heart goes out to his family, friends, and countrymen. 


That about wraps it up for this month.  You can find January’s 12x12 here, if you missed it. 

Be sure to let me know if you’re participating in 12x12, too.  I’d love to check it out!

Valentine’s Day Dilemma

I’m late.  What else is new?

I received my first heart-shaped box of chocolate of the season yesterday morning at about 9 AM.  I ate the four yummy little confections enclosed inside by about 9:05. 

I’ve written about this holiday before.  But, this week, Girl Talk Thursday is all about the big V Day.  So, here I go…

I really am a romantic at heart.  It isn’t that I’m a cynic or cold-hearted.  However, I believe that Valentine’s Day places undue stress on DSC_0611[1]many relationships: budding, struggling, and even just busy.  Not to mention the alienation of the entire world of singles….it’s like the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve and they’re left without anyone to kiss – except it lasts all…day…long.  A full twenty……four……hours………..of awkwardness.

This holiday forces people to lump their relationships into silos and give gifts that are suitable to the status of their bonds.  As I’ve mentioned before, I fear rejection desperately.  In this, I know I am not alone.  For those young and “it’s complicated” relationships, Valentine’s Day builds up even more hype and tension surrounding those electrical impulses that silently, invisibly dart through the air between our limbic lobes.  And that hype and tension does nothing but congest the airways, making it difficult for emotion to navigate.

I will say, with certainty, that I love to watch little people practice the show of affection this time of year.  There is a lesson integrated within this day of romance and emotion.  I love to see their faces light up with pride, excitement and anticipation as they thrust at you their folded, stickered, commercial valentine with your name chicken-scratched onto the outside.  I smile and oooooh and aaaaaah and hug them as though they’ve just presented me with a priceless diamond ring.  Sometimes, they blush.  Sometimes, they tentatively and oh-so-slightly step in closer as I read the silly message, eagerly awaiting my squeeze and squeals.  This is my favorite part of the annual Valentine’s Day season.  It is so good and pure I can’t help but grow more than a little sentimental.

I also have lovely visions in my future mind of little gray couples sitting sweetly at a breakfast table, sipping coffee and reading.  Their movements much slower in this decade of their love story, one gingerly hands the other a card.   It’s just a simple card, but the words inside tell a story that brings a smile to their faces.  Their hearts are still the same young, frisky hearts that stood before the world and said “I do”.  The same scared, hopeful hearts that kissed the soft little round head of an itty-bitty baby.  The same proud, bittersweet hearts that stood together and clapped for their young graduate.  Those two lovers, who now routinely remind each other of appointments and dietary guidelines and when to take their pills and what year they met, know Valentine’s Day as a sweet gift.

So, I guess in sum, I find Valentine’s Day is best for the very young and the very old.  All the rest of us just need to take more care to live more lovingly everyday. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Work Space Confessions

Mrs. Taggart told my mom that my desk was messy.  She showed her all the incomplete worksheets, and complete worksheets, crammed into my pocket school desk.  I don’t remember or not if she dug out the love notes from Christopher or not, but they were in there, too.  I remember.  That was first grade.

Today, for the umpteenth time, I reassured a concerned and embarrassed parent that their child - guilty of cramming study guides and other such paperwork in the bottom of backpacks, leaving them strewn and tucked about in a classroom, or “accidentally” throwing them away before they had a chance to make it home - would be OK.  Once again today, I confessed my own history of congested administrative arteries.  My own paperwork circulatory system has long been crippled.

This is not the first time I’ve confessed these office sins here.  But, yet again, I feel the need to bare my truths. 

Truths, like this…



Go ahead. Click on it to dig deeper.  It’s quite revealing.

Just outside of this photo you might find other random items, such as: a used ink cartridge waiting for me to take to school for our corporate contributions drive, a spool of pink grosgrain ribbon, a bottle of nail polish, two bobby pins, two pen caps from the remaining MIA writing utensils after BabyGirl’s weekend round of oh-so-NOT-cute game of “Pen Bandit” (i.e. hiding uncapped pens all over the house, sending me into a mad panic as I franticly envisioning large pools of black ink on my upholstered furniture), a scratched pair of sunglasses I need to throw away (Never mind. Just checked that one off the list.), and – le pièce de résistance – a 3/4-inch plastic dog tail.  Not the dog…just the tail.


While I am an extremely cyclic person and tend to have bouts of neat & tidy organization followed by stretches of “I’ll deal with this later – bigger fish to fry today,” disarray, I have come to accept my piles.  It is a love-hate relationship I have with them.  I hate the actual piles and feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration I get from them, but I love the processes from which they result. 

1. Good intentions.  Look – I buy a book about organizing my space and my life…I read some of it…I get overwhelmed by the first week checklist telling me to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night (I wish), jot a To Do list each morning (Have you met my daughters?), start a journal (check), limit television (check), schedule 2-minute breaks two to three times a day to “just be” (whaaa???), practice meditating (I’d love to…), schedule time to exercise (I try), schedule more “me time” (more than the six minutes per day???), eliminate energy drains on your life (You want me to retire and move away?), and “take control” of your time (This lady’s an idiot.)…ALL IN THE FIRST WEEK!!!  If I could do that in a week, why the heck did I need to buy this freaking 52-week guide to organizing my life???

2. Creative endeavors.  Cooking, sewing, writing, photography…This is the good stuff. I love these things. If those parts of my life leave evidence on my surroundings, so be it.  I will leave my mark happily.

3.  Thrift. On second thought, perhaps this should go in the “good intentions” category. 

4. Motherhood.  Ask me why I have pink grosgrain ribbon, a crumpled-up-no-longer-sticky post-it note with a butterfly drawn on it, random pen caps floating, a funky popsicle stick flower stuck in a wooden pot, a Lois Lowry chapter book, a sea green crayon and a Hello Kitty digital camera on my desk.  My babies.  I love my babies.  This is my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


One of my favorite quotes comes from an unlikely source.   

“Homes are for free expression, not first impressions.”

My piles are not a problem, they are a side effect of an alive and wonderfully diverse mind.



Now, my desk at work is a whole different story…but that’s another post entirely.

This post was submitted as a part of the {W}rite-of-Passage: Challenge #9

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On Writing

Right now, I’m on an excursion within myself that goes a lot deeper than I care to discuss here.

However, there are aspects of this quest – legs of this journey – that truly belong here.  They unfold here.  This blog, this collection of thoughts and emotions, this trail of bread crumbs, is my mirror.  Sometimes it’s a rearview mirror, but a mirror nonetheless.

In particular, this piece of my life I share with you all here is my writing.  The writer in me is an adolescent, itching to spread her wings and explore.  She is passionate and wide-eyed.  But, her youthful ignorance is tempered by respect for masters and teachers of the craft.

I read about writing.  I practice in my notebooks daily.  I journal privately, and have nearly as long as I can remember.  I join communities of writers chasing down the ever elusive advice and feedback that will help me grow and learn.  And sometimes, as I try to improve my skill, I find that I am really working on my soul.

Anne Lamott wrote in Bird by Bird, that in order to be a writer, you have to be reverent.  This line made itself at home in my mind immediately.  It is an observation I’ve noted many times before. 

Writing comes from within.  It is record of a journey.  It is a trail of emotions, visions and experiences.  Writers look at the world from outside their body.  They are in tune with their sensory memory and can efficiently retrieve those moments in words.

february 005 I tell my students (at times, near daily) that writing occurs somewhere between your mind, your heart, and the page.  Sounds obvious, but what I mean is – when you write, you do not look to the world for the words.  You dig deeper.  You turn your eyes, your focus, your energy inward and climb into the core of your gut and bury yourself in the tiny corner of your abdomen that holds it.  The feeling.  The moment.  There, you will find the words. 

Sometimes it is harder than others.  Sometimes you really have to push.  Like holding your breath under water, you have to resist the urge to pop up.  Stay there through the burning, breathless sting.  Let the tears flow.  Laugh out loud.  Feel the pain in your hand as the page and pen bruise its back. 

Now, you’re getting to the good stuff.

To me, writing is quite personal and spiritual.  This, I believe is why, as my friend noted, writers love and crave an audience, but do not require one.  While, of course, some words are light-hearted and don’t really “rock the world”, if you will, much of it is an expression of an Achilles heel.  Whether the words are fiction or fact, there is a sense of vulnerability that accompanies the click of the “publish” button.  And, when you have the opportunity to read your writing aloud – no matter how good it might be – it is like standing naked before those listening.  Breathing deeply is only a memory.

So today, dear readers – and I do mean dear readers – I want to say thank you.  Thank you for embarking on this journey with me.  Thank you for your company and your kind words.  Know that, as my writing and I mature and change, I am extremely grateful to borrow your ear, if only on a rare occasion.

I will always welcome your comments, private or public.  I am always open to discuss.  And I will continue to stand before you – baring myself and my work – as long as you will have me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sometimes I remember…

…standing with my Daddy and feeling awkward, like I wanted to be shy and avoid meeting his eyes with mine.  He asked me how I felt as we stood in the foyer, a plush fringed rug beneath our feet.  I guess I said “all right” and asked the same of him. 

I can still see his pretty, wide smile and the lines in his olive skin spreading away from his happy blue eyes.  He felt great, he reported, eyes looking ahead, genuinely excited.  Then he confessed his spirits had been eased a bit with an early taste of brew.  We laughed and I felt his presence begin to ease my own spirits. 

Everyone looked so pretty and distant through the window of the door that separated us from them.  The sheer white curtain added a softness to our view that matched the haze in my mind.  I daddy walking mestood there with Daddy, forcing a few deep breaths through my lungs, willing the oxygen to help me center myself.  Find the strength to hold myself together.

I heard Pachelbel Canon in D playing and I smiled.  I closed my eyes for a moment and imagined flying over golden Canadian fields. I watched the beautiful scenes from the movie that first made me love those tender, sweet notes.  

Daddy opened the door.  We stepped out onto the wood floor of the long, covered porch.  Then, beneath ancient oak trees standing grandly in the St. Augustine grass - vivid, green and lush from a week of persistent rain - My Daddy walked me towards the river and down the aisle.

Friday, February 5, 2010

There's someone I'd like you to meet...

I’m working, in the very early stages, on a story. I woke up this morning with some of the characters bumping around in my head. I decided perhaps I should introduce you to Hank.

Hank had a natural strength and bulk to his tall frame that came not from pumping random dumbbells at the local gym, but from driving fence posts and manhandling livestock. His dark brown hair, in need of a trim, revealed its hidden tendency to curl. When he was a baby, his mama had let it grow until it tumbled over his ears and rested just above his eyelashes. He smiled at the world through clear blue eyes as deep as the dimples in his sun-baked cheeks.

That morning, like every other, he kissed his mama’s gently aging face and told her good-bye as he passed through the kitchen on his way to the truck waiting out front. Rhonda always tipped her head with a small smile and closed eyes, taking this moment to steal a glimpse in her memory of that sweet baby boy who years ago toddled around her feet as she fried the morning eggs and bacon.

When did her baby get so big? When did he quit digging in her kitchen cabinets, banging on her orange Tupperware bowls? What happened to her days of preparing after school snacks, kissing skinned knees and fussing at little boys for riding ottomans like miniature bronco-busters? Before long, this handsome man she’d raised would leave home and his dutiful morning kisses would be just another memory of her years with him. They would be just another page in the scrapbook in her mind.

Outside, Hank tossed his backpack into the bed of the Chevy and piled into the cab. The morning was damp, but the air went out years ago in this ol’ bucket of a farm truck he shared with his older brother, Vince. They didn’t mind the fresh air whipping between the seat and front dash, except for the occasional Saturday night date. Pretty girls tended not to appreciate being forced to wear a windblown look for the rest of the evening. On the rare occasion they thought this month’s girl was worth the trouble, they’d resort to borrowing their dad’s truck, though that really wasn’t much of an improvement.

He never really minded school. Hank was smart and most things had come easily for him. He enjoyed learning about history and reading literature. Math classes were none too entertaining, but not too much of a bother either. The sciences intrigued him, filling in blanks and answering questions he’d had since his boyhood. Watching his father and the other ranch hands right a poor cow’s prolapsed uterus and stab cattle with vaccine-filled syringes had inspired a whole line of questions his father wasn’t prepared to answer. He’d long ago developed a silent curiosity about nature and science and how those two worlds intertwined.

What he did mind was homework. When he left school each day, his work had only just begun. There were animals to be fed, fences to check, and always, always, always the horses. The horses were his domain, his specialty. “His gift,” Rhonda frequently remarked with pride. He never had the time or energy to waste on filling in blanks on study guides or completing pages of random, arbitrary calculations, especially if he could pass the test, often spoiling the curve, without all that nonsense.

This year, though, he found himself in a French class. Vince and Hunter, his best friend since their early days of kicking dirt and throwing rocks, had proposed they take French instead of Spanish to meet their foreign language requirements...and to meet girls. Apparently, some of the guys on campus were toying with the idea of this “back door” strategy. The three had completed their schedule requests together last spring. At the end of the summer when schedules were distributed, the guidance counselor explained with a sarcastic tone, “Due to a surprising influx of student interest in the French language, we were unable to honor all students’ foreign language requests.” Priority had been given based on class rankings.

This was one time Hank half-wished his academic aptitude was more like his brother’s. Vince had struggled to learn to read. Rhonda had wanted him to move on with his friends. She feared how this would affect his self-confidence, especially since it would place her two sons in the same grade. Her husband, Jack, had no such worries, nor did the deciding powers at the elementary school. In the end, Vince repeated the first grade, making the two boys more like twins than big and little brothers.

Hank would have survived French easily, were it not for his otherwise charming Texas twang that pervaded every sentence, every word, every syllable his lips uttered. Madame Russell winced with pain at his inadvertent slaughter of the French language. For the first few weeks, he tried with honest efforts to master the throaty, breathy French “r”. He struggled in vain to soften his “j” and push it forward, between his teeth, as Madame insisted. Eventually, though, the sight of veins in her neck flaring with frustration and her teeth gritting impatiently sent him into a spin of apathy.

He had lost what little motivation he had for mastering basic French vocabulary, when Madame Russell called him aside just as the bell rang and students began pouring into the halls. She had a plan. She knew exactly what he needed – a tutor. And, lucky for him, she had just one in mind. The tutor was an honor student, in French III, and a natural with the language. Only after Madame Russell made it clear that this was not a request, but a requirement if he hoped to pass her class, did he agree to come by after school for introductions.

That was when he met Ione.

Photo credit: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Thursday, February 4, 2010

‘Fraidy Cat

It’s Thursday…so it’s time for Girl Talk.  Although, if you ask me, this week’s Girl Talk Thursday topic really isn’t girlie at all, if you ask me.  It’s actually rather gender neutral.  This week, we’re talking about fears.

This post has been very personally revealing to work on.  I always considered myself somewhat cowardly, but after thinking about my fears, my experiences, and what I’m sure I could probably be talked into doing…I’m realizing that I’m a little gutsier than I thought. 

But, there are still some things of which I am very much afraid.  For instance,


Cliff Diving 

You know those beautiful, picturesque scenes in movies that highlight the graceful arc and fall of a beautiful, tan body, ending with a swooshing splash into the gorgeous water below?  That will NEVER be me.  Not only am I a bit chicken to dive at all – but I’m EXTREMELY terrified at the thought of diving into the ocean.  And, diving right next to a rocky cliff???  Who are we kidding?  I would be splattered on the rocks somewhere between here and there – and the word “graceful” would not enter anyone’s mind.  I think the words “horrific trauma” would be a much better description.


Hurt Feelings

I never want to hurt other people’s feelings.  Well, perhaps never is a strong word.  Let me clarify…if you kick me when I’m down – I will snap.  If you hurt my babies – I’ll hurt you back.  But, until that point, I never intend on hurting anyone’s feelings.  I am the person who replays conversations over and over again in my head asking myself, “Was I too rude?  Do you think I shouldn’t have said that?  Did they know I was only kidding?”…and so on. 

In fact, tonight I considering this as my Facebook status:

The irony.  On my way home this evening, I passed by a pack of Jehovah’s Witnesses on their bicycles stopped right beside a sign advertising concealed weapon classes.  That gave me a chuckle.  Guess I won’t make the cut, huh?

I deleted it before pressing that oh-so-final “share” button because I could just imagine one of my friends reading it and thinking, “Uh!  I’m a Jehovah’s Witness!  What is she saying?? What did she mean by that??”  I meant nothing by it, other than it was funny to see them parked next to that sign….but I was so AFRAID that someone would misunderstand/misconstrue/misinterpret the way my little brain puts two things together, and get their feelings hurt, that I just couldn’t do it.

This is also what keeps me from making a stink (most of the time) to people about incompetence.  And it is a chief reason for my avoiding conflict as long as possible.  (That’s not to say I avoid it completely…just until I can’t stand it anymore.)

Scary Movies

They give me migraines and nightmares.  I feel sick to my stomach.  None of that is FUN.  I watch movies for enjoyment – not torture.  I have NO DESIRE to watch something that is intended to FREAK ME OUT.  Thank you, but no thank you.



Sad, but true.  I am still afraid of being rejected…and I’m how old?  Yep.  Rejection is still below the belt. 



As I mentioned earlier, preparing for this post made me realize that I’m braver than I think.

Things I considered listing, but then admitted that I could probably be talked into doing…

I could be talked into bungee jumping.

I could be convinced to try sky diving…I can reassure myself that it’s safe enough to try because I’ve known quite a few people who’ve done it.

I could muster up the bravery to do things (hold, let them crawl on me, etc.) involving bugs and weird animals…short of eating them…Although, I’m fairly willing to try eating new and “strange” foods, though I don’t necessarily think I will enjoy them.  Like ants, for instance…I could eat ants.  Roaches?  No.  Snake? Crickets? Worms? Sure.  Tarantula?  Absolutely not.  (I love to watch Anthony Bourdain.  I would LOVE to go on a trip with him somewhere.)

I guess the bottom line is, while I’m generally an apprehensive person, I will find courage and face obstacles and challenges when I need to…or when I’m pressured into it. :) I’ve learned through experiences that I can do WAAAAY more than I think I can.  For instance,

I’ve learned to love roller coasters and I’ve always loved speed. 

Heights don’t bother me at all.  I was slow and careful this summer as I climbed a 20-foot ladder to clean my grandmother’s windows after soaking them with bug spray in a massive attempt to kill the 2 1/2-inch hornet that invaded her house and tried to kill us all.  I was far more afraid of that nasty, (surely) deadly hornet than the rickety extension ladder held stable by a near 300-pound man at its base!

I earned my SCUBA certification, thanks to a very patient, gentlemanly UF instructor who was willing to meet me at the pool – at night (yeah, retrospect…???) - and help me conquer my crippling “nose breather” disability.


And, I’m sure many of you, my fellow ‘fraidy cats, have similar stories of achievement and conquered fears.  It really is all mind over matter…right?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cheating Death

This week, my students asked if I would read some of my personal writing to them.  I quickly and politely declined, but offered to write a story for them, at their request.  One group of students asked me to write a story about a vacation.  They specifically said, “Tell what went wrong…” as part of their request.  This story immediately came to my mind.  I can’t believe I haven’t written it before, as it is a story that has been told over and over again since that day.  Here’s the story I wrote for them today…


The boat hovered heavily above my head as we trudged towards the river. My anxiety expanded like a balloon to fill my entire chest and gut.

When Daddy planned this little white water rafting vacation for us, I’d actually been excited. It sounded fun. After all, I love the water. I love boats. We would be in the capable hands of our river guides. I had envisioned a warm spring day and sunshine escorting us down along our gentle river ride, save for a few exciting twists and turns along the way. My sugar plum fairy fantasies faded when we arrived at the river outfitters headquarters, shivering in the forty degree gray morning, and heard the news about the body.

“Well, at least we don’t have to worry about the body washing up today,” the local river expert laughed in reply to my mother’s nervous questions. We paced the floor quietly, our eyes soaking up the images of inflatable boats hovering sideways above rocks and racing water, its inhabitants clad in helmets, life vests and full body wet suits. As it turns out, he wasn’t kidding. Earlier in the week, a young woman had drowned in the stretch of the river that we would attempt to navigate today. Fortunately for us, her body was recovered only a day or two prior to this frigid morning.**

“Well, isn’t that comforting...” I murmured sarcastically under my breath.

A young man led us downstairs to the basement room where they stored the wetsuits and other gear. After they sized us up with their experienced eyes and a few clarifying questions, our wardrobe for the day was rationed and we were off to squeeze our flesh into this neoprene second skin. We looked like a box of classic crayons once we were ready, only bumpier and wearing goofy, hesitant grins.

Our guide chatted away, making small talk with us and laughing at inside jokes with his fellow river men. It seemed oddly distant to think of my warm, safe life at home in Florida as I marched towards impending danger. The voices in my head were dying to blurt out, “I’ve changed my mind! I’ll stay here! You go and have fun without me!” I considered running across that two-lane bridge that led us to the log building on the hill. The walk back to the Hardee’s where we’d eaten biscuits and eggs for breakfast wouldn’t be difficult. Perhaps I could find a little corner store, stock up on magazines and make myself at home in a fast food booth for the day. The hours would crawl, I was sure, but that seemed far preferable to being pinned beneath a raft, sucking freezing cold water into my lungs. I felt like a lemming – deathly afraid to go, but too chicken to speak out against the herd.

As the men, both taller and stronger than us ladies, righted the raft and set it afloat, I listened to the last minute review of safety procedures. Stay out of the bottom of the raft. If you find yourself taking an accidental plunge, extend your paddle and never let it go – this is your lifeline. Keep your feet up so you don’t get snared on fallen trees or other dangers beneath the surface. Listen to your guide. Listen and follow instructions...for dear life.

I have never in my life felt so close to death. I’ve never been to war or in the presence of malicious gunfire. I’ve never felt like my life depended on the clarity of my thinking and my physical abilities, until that day.

cheat river map As we overtook the first rapids, my apprehension would blur and sharpen like the manual focus of a lens. When he told us we were approaching “Decision” rapid, I yearned to raise my hand and give up. “I quit! I’m done! Call the helicopter and get me out of this canyon!” I imagined myself announcing to the world. But, again, I refrained.

With each rapid we conquered, I whole-heartedly participated in the traditional paddles up “YEEEEEHAAAAAAWWWW!!” celebration. I felt my spirit give thanks that I would live to see the next round of torture in the watery path between me and the rickety, powder blue school bus that would take us back to safety.

The “Big Nasty” lived up to its name. My mother, just as terrified as I, had been unable to heed our guide’s advice. She had fearfully wadded her body up between the inflatable bolsters that spanned the width of the raft. She felt, inaccurately, safer on the thin synthetic floor of the vessel...until she found herself in the 50-degree raging river. Mascara streaking down her face, her short hair plastered to her skin beneath her plastic helmet, she gasped for air as she surfaced. The life vest kept her afloat as our guide hollered for her to hold out her paddle. I barely saw her paddle, now dangerous extension of her arm, reaching towards our boat, just as my Marine brother, a trained and professional hero, toppled into the river. In a blur of wet faces and choppy water, I saw the knot welling up on my brother’s head. My mother’s attempt at rescue had smacked him forcefully just above his eye. With a surreal smoothness, our guide expertly plucked my mother’s vest from the water and deposited her exhausted, stunned body in the boat at his feet. As he gave my brother his arm, everyone’s breath escaped in relief. We were unaware that we’d even been holding it.

“HE SAID NOT TO SIT ON THE BOTTOM OF THE BOAT, MOTHER!” I scolded her, rage quickly responding to my overwhelming fear. I had been afraid my mother would suffer more than just a sharp splash into icy waters. Once I realized the danger had passed, I couldn’t help being mad at her for putting herself into such a dangerous predicament – she should have followed directions! I took this as a personal lesson and reinforced my thighs and rear with steely muscles. “I will NOT,” I silently pledged, “be bounced into that river,” and I would sooner cripple myself than risk suffocating beneath a boat.

At some point between a heartfelt YEEHAW and the relentless sprouting of a fresh batch of terror, I heard our guide hollering to his counterpart on another raft in the fleet. It was lunchtime. They were making plans for a cliffhanger picnic, literally.

The guides nimbly hopped from their respective boats onto a rocky ledge on the canyon wall. They were patient and gentle as they offered their strong, steady hold to each of us as we abandoned the familiarity of our air-filled seats for the questionable security of this spot of earth. We clustered around the tiny campfire, begging for warmth; not only was the river stealing our body heat with its persistent spray and splashes, but the wind and sprinkling rain worked to fill in the blanks between the river’s attacks. Our bodies ached with cold.

For just a moment, I allowed my mind to float away, escaping to the day years ago when we picnicked on the Hawaiian Island of Lanai. Our adventure of sailing and snorkeling had been unexpectedly punctuated by a delicious, luxurious teriyaki lunch. Perhaps these guides had a similar treat planned. Perhaps they’d serve up some “river cowboy” stew to nourish our fatigue and famine. Once again, my daydreams were cut short as I held out my hand to accept a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Lovely. This is even better,” I laughed at my own disappointment.

After an all too short relief from our mental and physical stress, we found ourselves piling back into the boats and launching for the remainder of the gorge. I was resigned to gut through the journey and eager for my next steps on solid ground.

After an irrelevant stretch of time, we heard the tone of our guide’s voice change as he refreshed our memory to the safety precautions outlined at the start of the trip. He spoke with no degree of humor, explaining the severity and danger of the rapid we would next attack. This rapid, the Coliseum, is categorized class IV+. A class VI rapid is often thought of as unnavigable, a class V is “expert”, requiring extensively practiced rescue skills. I must have worn the face of a prisoner standing before a firing squad. My life would surely end that day. I was positive I would not survive this obstacle.

Again, I hunkered down and stabbed my will to live into the water with my oar. I met every command with the strength of my bones. My jaw painfully clamped, as though trying to hoard air into my lungs, preparing for the worst-case scenario. I was so intently focused on my role in this unlikely crew, that I didn’t immediately notice the guide climbing out of his seat and onto the boulder in the river, the boulder on which our boat was now pinned. I also didn’t notice him pulling passengers out of the boat and onto the rock beside him, until I heard the shouts.pete morgan rapid

My mother and the other, now faceless, mariners were hollering to me. “Move! Get over here! Get up and move!”

I tried in my shock and confusion to move, but something was stopping me. There was a rope – nothing of consequence, just enough to fluster my blurred thinking, just enough to stun me into helplessness. In my memory, it feels like minutes; in actuality, I’m sure it wasn’t even seconds. Once again, Our Heroic Guide, employed his brute strength and quick thinking to snatch me up from my assigned seat. He pulled my body like a rag doll to the top of the boat, and I watched my seat flood before my eyes. I saw the ghost of my body as the water pulled it under and buried it in a watery grave.

The next few moments are lost to me. I do not remember returning to my seat. I do not remember freeing ourselves from the rock. I do not remember racing through the fall. What I do remember is my breath and blood flooding through my body finally as I heard Our Heroic Guide laugh in celebration with a fellow river runner. I do remember the oars up YEEHAW that I witnessed from above the boat, in an out of body moment. I do remember the numbness that protected me from the reality of the moment.

And, I’ll never, ever, as long as I live, forget the moment my feet finally touched that riverbank. I was alive. I climbed that sleek, muddy incline, thankful for the pain I felt in my thighs. I was thankful for the trees that canopied above me. I was thankful for the smelly exhaust from the pitiful bus in which we rode home. I was thankful for the silent, albeit fearful in its own narrow, winding, mountainside way, bus ride back to that log building on the Cheat River. I was thankful for my dry clothes and the rented mini-van waiting in the gravel parking lot. I was thankful for the hotel bed hours away that would later shelter my weary, empty body.

And, the next morning, I was mostly thankful for the strong arm that helped me lift my dilapidated body from its resting place, for without it, I could not have moved.


**As I was researching the Cheat River Canyon today, trying to remember the name of the fall that nearly got me, I stumbled on this link.  Apparently, outdoorsmen have a way of playing with time.  I found this report detailing the events of the woman’s death.  However, it actually occurred a few years prior to our arrival…not a few days.  But, the story is so much sweeter the way they told it. :)


This post was also submitted as a part of {W}rite-of Passage challenge #8: Plot.

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