by thea marie
What's on my mind....
|It's just me, Marie, trying it again in 2009|
|This morning, my friend, Nadine, came down for her morning visit to my classroom. I am on planning the first two periods of the school day, so we have a chance to talk, rehash incidents that we might not have had an opportunity to examine and compare notes on at the time they happened, and to get our day started on a positive note. She and I have discovered that we are sort of kindred spirits in our thinking and in the things that make us tick. I hope our chats help her as much they help me.
We had been talking for a while about things in general, and somehow we got on the subject of what people might have to say about someone once they are gone. Like for a eulogy, or the conversations people might have about the person at the family hour, the wake, or at the dinner after the funeral.
She was saying that a childhood neighbor of hers had died of cancer at age 49, and that one of his relatives had called back to the old neighborhood to see if someone might want to have something to say at the funeral or have added to the obituary.
Unfortunately, the guy had been a lowlife, a negative factor in the life of his neighbors as a young man, and nobody had anything good to say about him. She said that her father would probably wind up being the one to step up and do it because he is the kind of man who wouldn't want another man to go his grave in that kind of silence. My father would probably do that, too. That's how men of that era operated.
I shared with Nadine a poem I had written after she and I and other members of our crew drove ten hours to Indiana on a Friday to attend the funeral of one of our girl's father, and then turn around to come right back so that we could be at work on Monday. At the service, several people got up to say such nice things about Mr. Lipscomb. I only met him once, but I was telling Nadine how impressed I had been with his cheerfulness, how friendly and personable a man he was, and with how much his daughter, Wanda, loved him. At the funeral, despite her grief- the death had been relatively sudden- Wanda stood at the podium and told the congregation how proud she was to have been his daughter.
I thought that the finest tribute a child could to pay to a parent. "I am proud to be his daughter", she said.
From there, Nadine and I moved to talking about those people we have, or once had in our lives, who just the thought of them generates a smile. I immediately grinned as my Aunt Minnie's gap-toothed smile flashed before my eyes, and her raucous laugh sounded in my ear. That woman could tell a story. A letter from her was like reading a very good book.
I could see Aunt Mae, looking at me with those eyes so like my father's- her little brother. When I look in the mirror, I see her shape in my body. Her legs are now my legs. Sometimes, when I'm talking, I can hear her. Hattie "Mae" Kelly made cursing an art form. My aunt wasn't scared of much, and she was ALL woman.
Then there's my mother's maternal aunt, "Mice", and her husband, Joe Griffin. In conversations about him, Uncle Joe was always referred to by his full name, even by his wife. They had a love that defied explanation. They fought, cut each other, she shot him on more than one occasion, they cursed each other out on a regular, but not once in their decades of marriage and two dozen kids did they break up or separate. They hung right on in there, fussing and arguing and loving.
Aunt Mice suffered from diabetes, and it got to the place where the doctors were advising amputation, which she declined. She said she came with all her parts and she was leaving with them, even if they were damaged some. At least when it came time for inventory, "I can show 'em I still got 'em." She died playing cards and drinking Jack Daniels, all of her parts still attached. Uncle Joe cried like the abandoned soul he was at her funeral.
Then there was my grandmother, Big Mom, about whom I could write a book, a most hilarious, touching, and insightful book. Talk about a character. I was the abandoned soul when she slept away from us.
In all those people I see myself. Parts of them are me, and having known them helps me to better understand myself and why I do the things I do.
They were strong, very real people with flaws and problems, but also blessed with the capacity to leave strong impressions on someone who loved them. And who smiles when she thinks about them.
And who wonders if someone will smile when they think of her after she's gone....
|I don't know what my problem was, but all day long today I operated on 'noid. I woke with the feeling that I just wanted to pull the cover over my head and keep low. It didn't get better once I was up, dressed, and in the car. I kept feeling like something bad was right around the corner, waiting for me to come past so it could jump out at me and holler, "Boo!" right in my face and scare the hell out of me.
Actually, it would turn out that the feeling wasn't quite without basis. I've been driving my "weekend car" an "07 Jetta (all tricked out and real sweet) to work every day for the past week because my sister-in-law had to borrow my runabout when she developed car trouble of a nature too bizarre to get into right now. I had the means to help her out so that she could get to work and back, and I did.
But I'm rethinking that now.
Like I said, it's been a week, and the end of this situation doesn't seem to be in immediate sight.
In the meantime, I had to have a tire fixed on the Jetta yesterday because the low pressure indicator light was on. At the dealership where they did the routine oil change and maintenance, it was discovered that somehow I'd run over a nail. Somewhere between the dealership and the tire place where I had the tire repaired, the body sustained a small ding on the right rear quarter panel. I didn't notice it until I was at the gas station, pumping gas on that side. It's a tiny dent, but it's there. It was not there on the day before.
Mind you, this is the car I keep spit-shined and polished. The one that I carefully choose parking spaces for to avoid the possibility of getting dinged by someone else's door, or scraped by someone going by, or touched by sticky fingers, etc.
Today, I was sitting at a stop sign, minding my own business, waiting for traffic to clear so that I could pull out into the main thoroughfare when I was slammed into from the rear. I could not believe it. In that car. I was livid. LIVID, do you hear me!
Luckily, there was no visible damage to my car, not so much as a scratch. The lady who ran into me was most apologetic-and pregnant. She was a nervous wreck,and I had to worry that she was okay. We parted amicably, but I haven't been any good since then. I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall.
This feeling is foreign to me, not like me at all. I don't know what it is, but I sure hope it's gone by morning. Paranoia has the tendency to draw negativity, and I don't need any more of that.
|Yesterday some pretty fierce storms passed through here. High winds, that rain that slams against the doors, window, and the roof in slanted sheets. It got so dark, that we cut shut down all the electronics, grabbed a flashlight and headed for the lower level of the house. Then the power went out.
The storm didn’t last very long, maybe ten fifteen minutes or so. The worst of it lasted less time than that, but the power didn’t come back. We unplugged the computers and the laptops to avoid a possible surge when it did, and then we waited. It was almost comical all the things we tried to do without thinking that it took power to do them. Flicking light switches, trying to heat hot water for hot chocolate on an electric range, needing to curl my freshly washed hair but the flat iron is stone cold.
My husband, off work for the day, had planned a leisurely afternoon in the “man cave”, reclined in one of his theatre chairs, watching his 62” television, and eating air-popped popcorn. He had asked if later I would fry some chicken wings and make some dip for the All-Star game.
When the power went out, he had been in the middle of copying some music from his new turntable onto his laptop to transfer to his Zune. After an hour went by, and he still wasn’t able to access any of his toys, he suggested going to the sports bar to eat and to at least be able to watch the game.
No lover of sports myself, and desirous of sticking to the healthy eating patterns I have been trying to establish, I begged off and told him to go on by himself. His friends would be there at the bar, and I greatly enjoy my own company. I was anticipating the power not being out that long. Besides, with him gone, I could get some writing done. After all, I still had battery access on the laptop.
He went down to the garage, but a few minutes later, I could hear him calling me. When I went down to see what he wanted, he was laughing, telling me that he thought he should show me how to get out of the garage should I decide to leave. Both garage doors are on electric openers. Yes, I would have been pissed.
With him out of the way and the chicken wings off my horizon, I sat down to edit a section of a story I have been working on. I finished the handwritten edits and transferred them to the laptop. By the time I finished, it was beginning to get dark outside, and the power still had not been restored. I do enjoy my own company, but I didn't relish the thought of being here by myself in inky blackness and surrounded by the eerie absence of the house noise one doesn’t notice until it’s not there.
I decided to get dressed, pack a tote with a book, my writing notebook, journal, and some pens and go to a restaurant. I could eat, read, and continue to work on the story. I changed, got the tote bag ready, and went into the office to print out the piece I had just worked on. That was when I realized that wasn’t going to work. Not only is the printer powered by electricity, it’s wireless, and the network was knocked out along with every other modern convenience I was suddenly missing. All I could do was laugh at my dependency.
I spent a couple hours at O’Charley’s, dragging the meal out and hanging around a bit longer once I was finished to wait out the rain that had begun coming down in torrents again. When it let up, I headed back home, only to find the subdivision completely black STILL.
We have lots of trees here, pines, hardwoods, tall shrubs, so the car’s headlights were a very good thing. A city girl at heart, one who requires streetlights even if they are spaced out pretty far, I was paranoid to say the least about it. Without the headlights, I wouldn’t have been able to see a thing in front of me, not even that couple who, for some reason, were out for a walk.
After manually lifting and closing the garage door again, I used the flashlight I’d purchased at Walmart on the way back from the restaurant to unlock the door and get into the house. I got the oil lamp from the laundry room. It was dusty and the chimney was filthy, but I was gratified to see that is was three-quarters full with oil. In my bathroom, it lit right up. It was as I was washing out the chimney that I realized I had hot water. I had forgotten that we have a gas water heater. Suddenly things were looking way up.
I have a thing for aromatic candles. I collect them, but don’t burn them as much as I used to because of how they blacken the walls and curtains. Last night, I didn’t care. I lit several and placed them on the counter and on the ledge around the bathtub. The oil lamp I set in the bedroom proper, then I ran a hot bath.
I climbed in with a wine cooler from the mini-fridge here in the bedroom- it was still cold, I guess because the door hadn’t been opened. With the flickering, fragrant low lights, the quiet I had grown accustomed to, the warm suds enveloping my outer body while the wine warmed my insides, I closed my eyes and floated away.
Then the power clicked back on, scaring the hell out me.
Lights bright and blinding, quartz numbers flashing, alarm system chirping over to regular power, appliances humming back to life, the TV downstairs making it sound as if I was no longer home alone.
I was almost sad.
|... to say that I wrote today. Thank God it's Friday. I needed for it to get here. Seems I spend the week wishing my life away, trying to make it to the weekend. Now that it's here, I'm going to try to get some real writing done along with some other things I've been putting off for a while.
|Last night and this morning it was sooooooooo cold. Being a Michigan native, you'd think that frigid temps wouldn't bother me. But they did then, and they do now. In fact, one of my husband's strongest negotiating points when he proposed moving down here was the warmer weather. Now I think the relatively mild Georgia winters have me and my constitution spoiled. My blood seems to have thinned considerably. I simply cannot take these cold, cold days we've been having.
Last night, we went to Harry's for some Gala apples; they have the organic ones, really crisp and sweet. The temp had been dropping like a rock all day, and by the time we were crossing the parking lot to go into the store, there was a wind to go along with the cold. I wanted to cuss, I was so thoroughly chilled.
But this being Georgia,of course folks were out in shorts, flip flops, no coats. I don't know how they do it, but just looking at them sent shivers through me.
This morning, it was practically arctic- breath curling in front of the eyes, frost on the windows of cars left in the driveway or at the curb, Jack Frost playing Peeping Tom in the windows of houses, the whole shot. I sent up a prayer of thanks that my car was in the garage and the garage is attached to the house. I didn't have to get out there in it until I arrived at school where I hot-footed it into the building once I got my stuff out of the car.
A while later, I'm out on the breezway, wrapped like a mummy and hurrying to breakfast duty, speaking to the arriving students I passed. So many of them were in tee shirts, flip-flops, or sporting wet hair. I just shook my head and chalked my misery up to that thin blood I mentioned earlier and to being grown. I can remember being that young once and not having good sense about some things either. But I don't think I did 30 degrees and below very well even way back then.
I'm telling you, if there really is a hell, and you're anticipating to trip to the Nether Regions, forget about the fire and brimstone. Wear your parka, gloves, and boots; it's freaking cold down there.
|I can't go into specifics about what got me to this place, but here is where I am.
Every time I'm sitting around feeling sorry for myself because I don't have enough money to quit working for a living, every time I regret not having pushed my kids a bit harder so that they would be farther along and better off now, every time I think I haven't done enough, seen enough, had enough; something happens to bring me back to the reality that things in my life as it stands right now, aren't so bad.
I can't go into specifics. To do so would take too long and might taint my karma. But I am so glad tonight to be in the skin I'm in. It ain't all that beautiful, but it's a real comfortable, secure fit.
|The weekends are entirely too short.
As soon as I get wound down from all the stuff I have to do on the weekend because there isn't enough time to get them done during the week, it's Sunday night, and I'm laying out my clothes again for Monday morning.
But, I guess staring the inevitability of Monday morning in the face is better than the alternative. I'll take the glass that's half full, thank you. It goes down bitter at first, but after a while I feel okay and manage to make it through the rest of the week just fine.
|One thing that I really like about journaling is when I really let my thoughts ebb, flow, and cascade down onto the page and I allow myself to get down beneath the stuff that is happening on the surface, I discover things about myself. I have revelations, epiphanies even.
You know, when I think about it, I realize that, at least that I can remember, nobody has ever referred to me as “pretty”. Isn’t that something? Ever.
But I think I have always known that I wasn’t a “pretty” girl. “Cute” is as close as I have ever been able to come, and as a very young girl, most of the time I didn’t even feel that. I was nothing special, I can remember feeling that.
As a teenager and a young woman, I developed a shapely body and equally shapely legs. I knew I had that much going for me. And I had a decent head of hair, which enhanced my appearance, but didn’t quite get me into that other rank. My mother had been a pretty girl in her youth, and she remained an attractive woman, but she had learned along that way that pretty only went so far. It didn't guarantee good jobs, an easy life, or happiness. In fact, it could be a problem if a girl wasn't smart about it. She must not have felt she did such a good job of that, because she rode me like a horse. No tight clothes or real short skirts to draw undue attention, do well in school, be polite, and treat people with respect.
Older and more secure in myself, I learned from my mother the value of good grooming and how to make the most of the positive attributes I possessed, including those that weren’t physical. But no matter what I did, even as I grew into a woman, I never made it to pretty.
In a way, though, I have to say that hasn’t been such a bad thing.
See, when you’ve never been overly focused on your face, you don’t get so bent out of shape about losing your looks as you get older. I do know some women I grew up with who have been pretty all of their lives, who have had that fact reinforced to them in one way or another, directly and indirectly, and who once nature began taking her course, got downright desperate to hold on to what had become their identity.
The year I turned 40, I had that party to celebrate, and Irma (my gorgeous friend) was appalled that I was advertising my age. I had nothing to hide and nothing of which to be ashamed. My life was full. I had my health, my marriage had endured, my three sons were growing into fine young men. My career was going well, I was well-educated, our house was comfortable, the fridge was full, and there was even a little money in the bank.
On the other hand, by that time, beautiful Irma had been married and divorced three times. She was on her fourth marriage, and it was a bit shaky.
In between the second and third marriage, she and I were talking about her scores of failed relationships (literally scores). She said that she had come to the realization that men were initially attracted to her for her looks, but once she and he got to know each other, things rarely worked out. By the time she was 35, she said she had slept with at least 40 different men.
It was like that for a lot of my very pretty friends; men, people in general were attracted to them for the superficial, but never took the time to know the real them. For some of the women, they didn’t seem to really know themselves either.
Even though we have known each other since high school, Irma is only really coming to that place now. Now that nature is removing the glossy upper layer.
As for me, I’m pretty okay in the skin I’m in these days. I can still make it to cute, even if I’m the only one who can see it.
|Let me start off by saying that I HATE to be late. I am one who would rather not show up at all than to be late for work, an appointment, a meeting, or any other activity when arriving by a certain time is a requisite.
Because of that, and because I need time to get my head together before classes start, even though I don't officially have to be there until 8:30, I am usually at work by 7:20 AM max. To do that means I need to leave the house no later than 7:00.
Last night I didn't lay my clothes out, and I didn't have the foggiest notion of what I would put on. Most of the time, I have an idea of what I might step into once I get up, but last night I dropped off without a thought along those lines. That's not a good thing for me. It leads to vacillating and wardrobe confusion in the morning.
I was about ten minutes late getting out of the house this morning because everything I put on was way too big. I have lost a lot of weight in a rather short amount of time- an elevated cholestoral and glucose count will make you get it in gear- but I guess it's showing up more in my figure than on the scales. Everything I tried to wear was saggy, baggy, or swallowing me whole.
Time was, that kind of switching around would be due to my trying to find something that wasn't too tight and cutting off my circulation, or that didn't have me looking like a sausage.
When I think of all the stuff I have given to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and the local Thrift collection boxes in the past year, thinking I would never in life fit into any of it again....
The 7:00 school bus that I usually try to beat so that I don't have to wait behind it while kids saunter onto it had long passed the house by the time I was pulling out of the garage. Not only was I wearing a seat belt to hold me in, but I was also wearing a belt to hold up the pants I finally settled on.
I think this is the first time in my life, or at least in many, many years, that I couldn't find something to wear because I was too small.