Musing

Worry

photo of woman covering her face

Worry. It’s such a small word for such a big emotion.  We worry about so many things all day long – from little things like what am I going to make for dinner to giant things like how am I going to afford to pay the rent and put food on the table this week. Many spiritual texts will tell you not to worry because other forces are in control. I have yet to meet any person who has heard that advice and truly taken it.  I mean like for real taken it. They may know God or whoever is ultimately in control but deep down the thoughts and self talk still happens. So, what all is there to worry about and how does one cope?

This past weeks’ events in the Middle East has many worried. World War III has been bandied about quite a bit. Politics in our nation has many worried. Some would say the environment/climate change is a major concern.  Others would tell you that securing our borders and providing more jobs with a living wage should be a main concern.  While still others would say affordable housing and healthcare should have us all lying awake at night. Economists are warning about a financial correction.  These scenarios alone are enough to give anyone an ulcer. But most of us are worried about the stuff a little closer to home.  We’re worried about things like paying the bills, getting to work on time and how we are going to be in three places at once any given day.  And, while we are ticking off all the things we should be worried about let’s think about shoulds be doings like self care, staying in shape, eating right, keeping in touch with friends and relatives, making time to keep our romantic relationships alive and not to mention parenting a child or taking care of an aging relative. Have you started hyperventilating into a bag yet? Has panic set in while you count up all the stuff you think you should be worried about?

I ask all this because I had an ah-ha moment the other day. We cannot worry about everything. We physically just can’t. There is not enough time, brainpower or energy in our bodies to worry about everything that we “should be worried about” all the time. One must pick and choose what is important in life at that moment and focus or worry about that.  It seems like a foregone conclusion that one can’t worry about everything yet most days, myself included, we are inundated with real worries and contrive worries and life feels like one endless worry.  I love how all the gurus and self-helpers are out there telling us we need to read their book or buy their program to help us manage all the worry.  As if they have a lock on a damn thing.  Maybe that’s what all those spiritual texts mean when they talk about letting go and letting the higher power take care of things. Maybe it’s just the realization that we cannot think about another thing at this moment no matter how critical someone else thinks it is.  I have to admit I don’t know where all this is coming from – maybe it’s middle age talking or maybe it truly is an ah-ha moment but I cannot waste any more brain power on every little thing.  And, I refuse to feel guilty for not wringing my hands over what someone else thinks I should worry about.  So what that I drank a diet coke (poison) and I threw the can in the trash instead of recycling it (environmental monster) all while eating a candy bar (carbs) and ignoring the latest boneheaded thing a politician said. I cannot be concerned. I will do better tomorrow or I won’t but I can’t be worried about it. Sure, I’m still going to worry about something things.  I have a few biggies floating around in my brain right now but all I can do is work toward a good solution to those issues I’m worried about and try my best.  In the end, isn’t that all any of us can do? Try your best.

NOTE: My usual posting day is Wednesday.  I’m early this week as this week is really chaotic.
Photo Credit:  Free from the internet – Pexels.com

 

 

Standard
Musing

Dolly Podcast

img_0855

For the past couple of weeks, you cannot turn on network tv without seeing Dolly Parton’s face. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining. I love Dolly. I have vivid memories of watching her variety show, simply named Dolly, which aired on ABC in the mid 1970s.  She used to come down on a swing from the ceiling.  I thought she looked like an angel.  Incidentally, if you’ve ever seen Country Bears Jamboree at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom you’ll remember the girl bear on the swing. Yep, that’s a nod to Dolly and her variety show.

Dolly is a musical and cultural icon. One of the reasons why she has been featured so much is that Dolly recently hit a huge milestone. She has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years.  That’s a helluva milestone.  I haven’t even been on this earth for 50 years much less had the same career for 50 years.  And, since she’s everywhere these days, it’s no surprise there’s a podcast about her. Of course, I’ve been listening to it.  It’s called Dolly Parton’s America.  It’s written and narrated by this really interesting guy from Nashville named Jad Abumrad.  He’s Lebanese-American with a perfect radio voice – which is to say he doesn’t sound Southern or like he’s ever said the word y’all in his life. It will be 9 episodes when finished and at the time of publication of this blog, I’m currently caught up.  It’s interesting hearing about Dolly’s career, especially her early years. I learned a few things. But, the podcast isn’t just about Dolly.  There a side tangent about Dolly and the people of Appalachia.  How the people are perceived, how today’s youth are leaving behind their Southern accents so they won’t be as stereotyped as well the argument that Dolly is or isn’t perpetuating the troupe of the dumb hillbilly. It’s also interesting hearing Abumrad’s take on things. We are about the same age so we have a similar frame of reference to our shared hometown of Nashville and the Tennessee of our youth.  He does a bit of self discovery in this podcast and it’s quite fascinating. I won’t spoil it in case you’d like to listen.

I too had a bit of a self discovery moment listening to the podcast.  Many of Dolly’s songs can be heard throughout the podcast, in fact, one whole episode is about nothing but her music and people playing it. But, one that is heavily featured in the first couple of episodes is My Tennessee Mountain Home. I hadn’t heard that song in years. It’s probably been since I moved away from Tennessee over 20 years ago.  The first time they played it and I heard those first few lines, my eyes welled up with tears and ran down my face.  In my mind, I was in the Smoky Mountains on a warm summer day.  I ached deep down in my soul wishing with all my might that I could be there. I still can’t explain why it hit me so hard or why that song conjured up such a visceral feeling. The only thing I can think of is the Smoky Mountains are one of the few places I’ve been that own a piece of my soul. I never lived in the Smokies. I used to visit both as a kid and as an adult but when I think Tennessee I think of those Mountains. I think of the clean fresh air and the way the redbud trees bring color to the bare trees in spring. I think of the little streams that run through the valleys of the ridges that are so cool and fun to play in in the summer.  I think of the beautiful leaves in the fall and the smell of woodburning fireplaces in winter. It is so beautiful up there.  I don’t get back as often as I’d like but it will forever hold a place in my heart. 

Photo Credit: This is the icon on my podcast app. I did a screenshot and cropped it so look for that photo when you are uploading the podcast. I’m not sure who this piece of art belongs to – probably whoever produces the podcast but I’m using it under fair use no copyright infringement intended. Consider this free advertising since I get no money from this little writing endeavor.

 

 

Standard
Musing

Grit

person rock climbingI’m probably going to get some shit for this but I identify so much with the show Blackish. No, I’m not pulling a Rachel Dolezal. I’m not trying to pass myself off as anything but the generic white girl that I am. The thing I identify with is background – especially Dre’s lower income/blue collar upbringing.  Much of the premise of Blackish is how Dre and Bow have become upper class and have thus raised their children and how they have strayed away from their upbringing. Much of the last and the current season of the show has focused on how they are raising their children.  Dre and Bow recognize that their children have no real grit and their oldest son is essentially rudderless and it’s killing them.  Neither Dre nor Bow had that luxury and they have no idea how to navigate parenting the bougie children they have created. I have to admit that feeling is all too real for me.

Like the fictional character Dre, I grew up working class. We had enough. We received no public assistance. My parents had a mortgage and two cars – neither of which they could truly afford.  They worked hard but they lived beyond their means. We were chronically getting calls from debt collectors threatening to repo something.  We weren’t as bad off as our neighbors. Those folks were forever borrowing this big metal key thing my dad had that you could turn the water back on at the street or borrowing electric by running a drop cord from another house.  Despite not ever having enough money for extracurricular activities or vacations or most anything fun, I never felt poor. But, I do remember thinking there was no way I was going to live like that when I got to be an adult.  I went to college, got a degree and a decent job and have actively tried to distance myself from the dingy neighborhoods of my youth.

The funny thing about that “I will not live like that” promise is it gave me something that cannot be taught, manufactured or cajoled.  It gave me grit. Grit makes you want to do better so you do better – maybe not Oprah better – but better than you were.  (Whispers – Y’all knew I had to mention Oprah.)  My kids don’t have grit and neither do Dre and Bow’s kid on Blackish.  They’ve never had to have grit.  They always knew Mom and Dad would be there to pick up the pieces if shit hit the fan. I wish there was a way to foster grit in my kids without going back to the life I grew up in.  I sometimes think my kids think that having a good life just happens without very much work, determination, ambition, and grit. I’ve tried to tell them otherwise but I don’t think they get it. I’ve tried to tell them that they will have to struggle in order to get where they want in life. Maybe their struggle will hit when they get out of school and realize you really have to hustle with their job to make it happen.  Or, maybe they will just muddle through life and never attain grit. That scares me. I know I don’t have as much grit as my grandparents had.  You know the people who fought and won WWII.  Yeah, those folks had grit.  It seems to me every other generation since then has had less and less grit. At the rate we’re going the only grit anyone will have is the kind that resides in a Southerners’ pantry shelf.  Quick cook variety not instant if you please.

Standard
Musing

The Company of Women

laughing womenA while back, I read In Pieces by Sally Field.  For the first two chapters, she dives deep into her family’s roots and the family dynamic into which she was born. She talks about growing up in a house full of women. At one point, she says (and I’m paraphrasing here) that men would come and go in her grandmother’s house and everyone including the house held their breath. Then, when the men left, there was a collective sigh of relief. It was almost as if they could go about their business now that the menfolk weren’t around.  I found that observation profound and it got me thinking about the house full of women I was born into.

I was brought home from the hospital to house mostly full of women. Yes, my Grandpa and Uncle lived there but they were gone to work and school respectively for most of the day.  My days were spent with my Grandmother, my two Aunts and at night, my Mother.  When Grandaddy passed away and my Uncle moved out, it truly was just us hens.  Like Field, if I think about it, I can remember the shift in dynamics when men came around. It was pronounced and different.  I don’t necessarily remember breath holding but I recall the way everything revolved around the man. I’m sure a very small portion of that fawning was the fact that this person was typically a visitor. You always fawn over your visitor. That is a rule drilled into everyone’s head in the South. But, I think the fawning was more of a sign of the times – a time when men were the ones you tried to please and whose favor you sought.

Speaking of a sign of the times, Field talks heavily about her Grandmother and the unimaginable tragedies she suffered as a young woman. My own Grandmother endured many tragedies as a young woman as well.  It’s interesting how most people back then buried their feelings and didn’t talk about personal tragedy or trauma.  There was no time to dwell on foolishness like feelings. You drug yourself up off the ground and did your duty. Nowadays it’s perfectly acceptable to tackle feelings. From seeking a mental health professional to taking to your bed; any number of solutions are perfectly acceptable. But, but back then, not so much. 

And, what of my Grandmother’s circle of women?  My Grandmother was the youngest in a family of mostly male children. She had sisters but none with whom she was close. My Grandmother had three surviving girl children but was only close to one.  I know my Grandmother had female friends. I heard her tell stories of how she and the neighbor women hung out while the children played on their street. I know they helped each other but did they talk? Did they use each other as a sounding board? I’ll never know.

It’s interesting to see how the company of women has changed over the generations. I didn’t have a built-in group of women in my household but I was lucky enough to have a very tight group of women I hung out with on almost a daily basis when my children were very small. We were as close as a family for a few years. We helped with each other’s children. We had girls nights and bitch sessions where we discussed everything from childrearing woes and victories to marital struggles. We talked about our feelings. And, yes there was a definite shift when the men were around but not as much of a shift as I remember when I was a child. We certainly weren’t trying to impress them.  More often than not I remember the men congregating to themselves, usually around a bbq pit, and hiding from us (the women and children) as much as possible. Above all, I find it fascinating how no matter how many generations have passed we as women still try to find that group, that company of women that helps us raise our young.  And, how influential that group of women is for the rest of our lives – influencing us when don’t even realize it. 

P.S. Totally unrelated – I find it interesting how certain posts attract a bigger readership than others.  Some of the posts that I think are my best are some of the least read. It’s a hoot.  Honestly, it makes me think maybe I’m not as funny/ironic/whatever as some of my friends would have me believe. Or, maybe my topic just isn’t as fascinating to others as it is to me. Who knows. I sure as hell don’t.

Photo Credit: Free off a site called Pixels.

Standard
Musing

Y2K

010101I had a stunning revelation the other day.  In a meer 49 days, it will have been 20 years since Y2K?  Do you remember how crazy everyone got for that? People were quitting jobs, divorcing spouses, stockpiling food and supplies and million other crazy things because they all thought the world was going to end.  At a minimum, most people thought everything electronic was going to spontaneously fall apart the minute the clock struck midnight.  I remember my boss at the time wanted everyone at work that New Year’s Eve night in case all hell broke loose with the computers. I thought this was a crazy idea because I didn’t work at a tech firm. I worked at a small lobbying organization in a small college and tourist town. I distinctly remember telling my boss only our computer guy will know what to do and she needed to fire me now because I wouldn’t be there. I’d be in another state with my family that night. She got mad but then the rest of the organization agreed with me and she didn’t have a leg to stand on.  Of course, everyone else was yes ma’aming all the way until I stood up to her foolishness. Some people (Insert eye roll here).

Now, look at us. Twenty years later and nothing has happened.  No computers spontaneously combusted. Everything trucked along just like it had and time has marched on.  And, in those 20 years, I’d say we are more tethered to technology than ever before.  Wouldn’t it be hilarious (and I mean that in the ironic sense) if all hell broke loose on at midnight on this New Year’s Eve?  What if everyone got it wrong and it wasn’t Y2K we needed to worry about but 2020.  Can you imagine the reactions?  We didn’t have smartphones back then only regular cell phones. I can’t remember if we had text messaging.  We didn’t use a GPS in our car to find our way.  We printed out maps and directions from Mapquest or used a good old fashioned paper map.  In 2000, people still carried a checkbook and cash as well as credit cards – forget about Apple pay.  And, smart houses and devices like Nest and Ring – they were just a dream.

A few months ago Facebook and Instagram shut down for the afternoon and everyone lost their minds. Can you imagine if everything, all technology, the whole network went down just for an afternoon?  Holy Moses, there would be riots in the streets. I’m not a person who likes to watch the world burn but I have to admit the whole idea of everything shutting down for a day interests me from a sociological observational standpoint.

So, what are you doing New Year’s Eve? Any plans?  Me, I’ll be with my family. I won’t be doing the same things I was doing 20 years ago as our family has changed but I’ll still be with them. It will be a night well spent.

Photo Credit: I lifted this off the internet. I searched free computer code image. This is what I got. If it belongs to you let me know, I will credit you or take it down. I’m using it under fair use. No copyright infringement intended. I’m broke so don’t sue me. I write this for free.

Standard
Musing

The Curse

I got my first bra when I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade.  My mother and I bought it in the children’s section of a now defunct department store called Castner Knott. It was white, no underwire, very basic and was a 36AA.  At first, I thought it was cool but then I started getting teased about my chest size – by both boys and girls. I now realize the girls were jealous that I was developing so fast and the boys well you know they never lose their fascination for breasts.  It wasn’t long after the bra purchase that I heard the term “the curse”.  The phrase, the curse, was generally said in hushed tones and whispered to my mother. Has she gotten the curse yet?  Alternately, I also heard has she gotten the gift yet? And, has she become a woman?  I had no idea what was going on. A curse sounded horrible. A gift sounded pretty awesome. Becoming a woman? Are you kidding me, I mean I’m female and pretty self-sufficient but I can’t get a job yet.

Then it happened. One hot and sweaty day after gym class in 7th grade I started to change out of my gym clothes in the locker room and noticed a red stain. Even though my mom had never really told me a damn thing about getting a period I knew exactly what was going on.  I packed my underwear full of toilet paper and hoped it would be enough until school was over.  It was the first thing I told my mom when she picked me up. Of course, we had to go to Walmart to get pads and sometime during that trip she muttered the phrase “the curse”. I was like so this is what all those women meant by has she gotten the curse.  It all made sense now. But, a curse, was it really that bad?

If I could have had a crystal ball I would know for sure that “the curse” was a pretty accurate description. My girl parts have pretty much given me nothing but trouble since that hot day in late spring when I was 12.  Now, 33 years later, they are no longer going to cause me trouble.  As you are reading this, I’m still in the hospital for a hysterectomy. I am ecstatic.  Good riddance.  The factory has been closed for years and now my parts want to give me cancer.  Well, fuck that.  The medical waste incinerator is your new home uterus.  Enjoy that.  I know some women have a really hard time after a hysterectomy or “the change”.  I have heard of women feeling like they aren’t really women anymore because they can’t reproduce or that they are less than because they no longer menstruate.  I could be 1000% wrong but I don’t think I’m going to be one of those women.  In my not so humble opinion, having horrible periods and constant trouble with your parts is by far the worst part of being female. I am so excited about this surgery that I bragged the other day to a friend that I didn’t have to buy pads or tampons for myself ever again and since my daughter hasn’t gotten her period maybe I’m in the clear for a while. Then the Universe pointed and laughed.

Guess who got their period? That’s right, my 13 year old daughter.  I barely had anything at home she could use because I had been actively using up all of my stuff and not buying anything new.  See what a catty bitch the universe can be?  We have talked a little bit about it. I have not used the phrase “the curse” or “the gift” or “becoming a woman”.  I’ve just called it what it is.  I hope she doesn’t have the same issues I did. If she does, I might call it the curse but mainly I don’t want to freak her out or fill her head with preconceived notions.  I’ve parented her this way her whole life. I’ve tried not to give her my perspective until she asks or she at least has a solid feeling of what something is like from her own perspective. I feel like my perspective is a little jaded and super weird because of my upbringing.  It’s best not to hand her that big bag of crazy to go along with her own major life event.  And, thank God we don’t all have to trudge off the Red Tent anymore.

So, Universe, I see you there. I see the irony of this whole situation. One reproductive life ending when another begins. Don’t worry, I totally hear “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King blaring in my internal monolog.  I get it.  I may not be able to make babies anymore but I have a daughter that still needs Mom. And, I’m going to help her navigate this stage in life the best I can. I’m just glad I won’t be having PMS together and our cycles won’t sync up.

Standard
Musing, Uncategorized

Exaggeration

downloadHow many times have you exaggerated while telling a story?  Even if you personally haven’t we’ve all heard the old “the fish was this big” stories. Most of us smile and nod because we know that fish was not that big but it’s good for the story and to that end it’s fine and good. But, there is one thing I cannot stand, using exaggeration to guilt me or otherwise play on my sympathies. Twice in the past 7 or so days I have heard stories that made me want to give two people writeoffs with one of Delores Umbridge’s I must not tell lies quills. If you’re a Harry Potter fan you’ll know what I mean. If not, look it up.  It’s great punishment and frankly, these two liars need it.

The first offender is Greta Thunberg.  I have no real problem with her protests or her being a climate activist. If that is how she wants to spend her time, more power to her as long as she’s truly educating herself before she shoots off her mouth in protest.  In fact, I think more kids need to be aware of politics and social issues and less with selfies and Snapchat. Gone are the days of 6 p.m. national and world news on every tv, reading the newspaper, and expecting everyone to know current events but I digress.  The problem I have with Greta is a line from her September 23rd speech to the UN.  She said, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”  Really?  I’m pretty sure the 5 year old bobbin winders and errand runners of the Industrial Revolution would disagree with her.  For that matter, my own Grandmother would disagree with her.  Born in rural Alabama in 1925, my Grandmother was the last of 8 children. She dropped out of school after the 5th grade to help work her parents’ sharecropper land. I’m pretty sure picking cotton from sun up to sun down is a childhood stolen not climate change.  Does Greta Thunberg have anything important to say? Possibly. Actually, probably but I would rather hear from a scientist instead of an overexaggerating child. I can’t take her seriously after that ridiculous line.

The next offender is Donald Trump. Yes, I know I can probably just stop right there. But, a few days ago I saw where he tweeted that this impeachment thing was “The greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”  I was literally screaming at my phone. Hey dumbass, I’m pretty sure those so called witches they burned in Salem in the 1600s would have a little something to say about that. I mean they were actually burned at the stake while he is just enduring some inflammatory speech.  Boo Fucking Hoo!  They said mean words about me. Get over it.  Even if impeachment happens, so what?  He’s acting like this is the worst thing ever.  Pretty sure death is worse. Again, this sort of behavior makes it hard to take anything he says seriously. (Whispers – Not like I ever did in the first place.)

So, dear reader, if any of you know where I can get one of those I must not tell lies quills I would be most grateful.

Standard
Musing

Blood and Bad Behavior

blood-732297__340Last Wednesday (9/11), my small town, located in the shadow of a major city, sponsored a blood drive in remembrance of all the first responders who gave their lives during the 9/11 attacks 18 years ago.  It was a great event.  Or, at least it was until a jackass ruined it for me.

While on the cot giving my donation, I overheard part of a conversation that really burned me up.  I heard the man in the cot behind me put on a falsetto voice.  In fact, that was what got my attention. He said, “So she says, I have fibromyalgia. And I said oh no the scourge of the middle class white woman.”  The man followed up with something to the effect of “it wasn’t my finest hour and I probably shouldn’t have said that to the lady” and a few more half ass apologetic remarks. I tried to turn around on my cot to see the speaker’s face and to give him a piece of my mind but couldn’t because of the needle and bag setup.  Then everything got dicey.  My little trying to turn around stunt nearly pulled the needle out of my arm so here comes an attendant to make sure I’m still set up.  Additionally, other Red Cross folks are making a commotion behind me.  Apparently, the loud mouthed guy was finished and they were detaching his bag.  In a matter of seconds, a middle aged, white man with a fresh bandage came from that direction. In a voice that sounded vaguely familiar, he thanked me for coming out to give blood. I should have point blank asked him if he was the loud mouthed speaker but I was seething mad and the Red Cross folks were asking me questions. I would find out later that day the man who thanked me was one of the organizers and a former city council member for our town.

It’s funny, I’m not sure what pissed me off the most – the dig on middle class white women or the fact that he was making light of an unseen medical condition. Being a middle class white male himself, why in the world would he dig on his female counterpart?  Is he a charter member of the He-man woman haters club?  Furthermore, why would anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or gender, make fun of someone’s unseen medical condition. Just because the condition is unseen doesn’t mean it’s not serious or real.  A lot of the time it seems if it’s not something life threatening like diabetes or heart disease it’s not valid to some people. I just don’t understand this logic.  This type of self righteous, know it all, behavior are just some of the traits that have formed the stereotype of the entitled male.

I’ve thought about sending this clown a Facebook message and flat out calling him out on his behavior but to what end? He might apologize for it. That’s what most people do nowadays when they have been called out for bad behavior.  But, who cares right?  After all, what is an apology without regret, remorse or change?  It’s just empty words.

Now dear reader, I’d love to know how you would handle this situation.  It’s a week since I started writing this post and while I’m still ticked about the whole thing I’m pretty much over it. But, the whole situation has me thinking about stereotypes. I’m sure that will evolve into a post very soon.  Ironically, I had another encounter with a douchey middle aged, white man at Kroger yesterday. I’m starting to think I have a sign on my back that says please be an asshat to me.  Or, maybe, my town is just full of asshats.

Standard
Musing

Milestone

momma and meThis past weekend brought a major milestone in my life. I am now older than my mother was at the time of her death.  It’s a hard concept to imagine. Most of the people reading this still have a living mother. If you’re my age, your mom is between 65 and 75.  My mother was not quite one month into her 45th year when she passed away.  I was 19. Back then, 45 seemed a lifetime away and in some ways it was. It’s funny how time changes perspective.

I laugh and say I can’t remember 19 but I can.  At 19, I thought I was grown.  After all,  I was a legal adult. I was paying my way in the world and I had buried my mother.  The only boxes I needed to mark off next was secure a real grown up career, get married and have kids. But, since I planned to never do the last two, I only had to get out of school and land that career.   It’s funny what can change in 26 years.

My career is over and done with; I now have a j.o.b.  My children are 12 and 14 and I’ve been married since 1997.  I am doing absolutely nothing that I expected to be doing should I be so lucky to reach 45.  In fact, at 19, I thought if I ever made it to 45 every minute after that would be gravy – a gift from the universe. That was kind of a stupid way of looking at it.  Isn’t every minute already a gift from the universe? Why did I think I needed to wait until I hit 45?

This past weekend really messed with my head. But, it did remind me of one of the many lessons I learned from my mother’s young death.  Life passes so quickly. Our time here is so fleeting. Yet, I find that I still forget that lesson on the regular and I need reminders. This past weekend was a reminder.  Those 26 years have passed in the blink of an eye. They are nothing more than a blur punctuated with major life events. I still have so much I want to do, so much I want to see and experience.  At the top of my list of things I still need to do is to watch my children grow up and hopefully be productive, well-adjusted and relatively happy members of society.  The next item is for me to grow up to be a crazy old lady like the Golden Girls.  I want my adult children to worry about what fresh brand of crazy I’m getting myself into.  And, more than anything, I hope neither of my kids has to navigate life at 19 or younger without me being around to help as needed.  A person can believe they are grown and don’t need their parents at 19 but there have been countless times when, despite her being the meanest woman I’ve ever know, I could have used my mother’s advice.

Photo Credit:  Not sure who took it but this is my mother holding an infant me. She was 25 or 26 depending on what month the photo was taken.  This is my favorite photo of us because she actually looks like she likes me and you can see my Granddaddy’s arm on the right side of the photo.  I wonder if someone had told her she would leave me 19 years later if she would have behaved differently.

Standard
Musing, Uncategorized

Summer Vacation

img_0394Tap, Tap, Tap.  Is there anybody still out there?  So yeah, I went on vacation and didn’t announce it.  Real life got really busy and before I knew it I was chunking random things into a suitcase at 11:30 at night when I had to leave at 6 the next morning.  My family and I did the great American road trip. We drove halfway across the country (nearly 1,400 miles each way) to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. It was two days there and two days back, although, not as brutal as I feared it would be. We took in all the big sights – the Mall, the Monuments, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Capital Building, the National Archives, the White House and multiple Smithsonian Museums.  It had been almost 20 years since my husband and I have visited and my kids had never gone. And, since they are now 12 and 14, it was a good time age wise to plan this trip.

I find the people and the sights you see within certain regions simply fascinating.  We stopped in the mountains, hiked down the embankment in flip flops (not our smartest idea) and played in a mountain stream.  We saw a florescent yellow Lexus with giant tires being pulled by a U-haul in another state. We met country folks, mountain people, and city dwellers but never once did we meet anyone rude.  We did pass through some areas where we never once saw anything but white people and for some reason that worried me. (Whispers – If y’all didn’t know I’m white.) We live in a suburb of a very large city with no real minority.  Sure, there is a little self-segregation, but for the most part it’s very multicultural.  It was weird being in a place where there’s only one kind of people.  It can be unnerving and in some cases uncomfortable, especially when you aren’t used to it.  Speaking of which, enjoy this off the wall story about our hotel stay.

We originally booked a room in Alexandria, VA right across the street from a Metro station. What we didn’t know we got there was that the Metro station was closed for an overhaul until September and the two beds in the room were full size beds with a queen fold out bed.  It’s just downright creepy for a teen boy and preteen girl to sleep in the same bed and since my hubs and I don’t like to touch when we sleep this was not going to fly for a week.  So, my hubs and I started frantically searching for anything that had two beds and a fold out couch that didn’t involve a full sized bed. Fun fact, apparently that is standard in D.C. because it wasn’t until we looked in the surrounding areas did we find a set up that would work.  The hubs finds a new hotel and books it and the next day we go to check in.  We were a little stumped that there was no food or grocery nearby only a metro station, a church and a bunch of car dealerships and a gas station but still we said, “whatever it will be great”.  The lady at the front desk was so helpful in providing a list of nearby stores and restaurants so off we go to pick up dinner.  The nearest grocery, about 5 miles away is smack in the middle of the hood and four exceptionally white people in a generic small SUV with a Mickey Mouse sticker on the back window sticks out like a sore thumb.  The next morning we arrive at the continental breakfast in the lobby and again, no white people.  I whisper to my husband, “Remember when we were driving through that super rural part of the country and we couldn’t find any people of color?  Yeah, well apparently we found the opposite end of the spectrum.”  For the rest of the week if we were at the hotel or the surrounding grocery store, Target store or restaurant we got lots of stares.  Our daily walk to and from the Metro station garnered looks as well. We don’t look weird. We’re as average as they come but you would have thought we all had a multi-colored mohawk and a third eye.  About halfway through the week, I started wondering what they thought.  Did everyone think were crazy? Did they think we were lost? Did they resent us being there?  No one was ever mean or unkind. Despite the stares, everyone was pleasant but why the stares. The only thing I can think of is we were different from their norm. And, let’s face it, different can be strange, uncomfortable even. The funny thing is my kids never blinked about the whole situation.  They were oblivious to the stares and odd looks.  They didn’t notice the sketchy strip mall and the grocery on the edge of the hood.  Some of that could be their age but I think a lot of it is they are growing up in a world where we are striving for more equality and multicultural experience. As they get older I hope they have fond memories of our trip, even the daily trip by the collection of malt liquor bottles by the Metro station and the baffling case of Bible tracts at every stop for 300 miles.

Photo Credit:  Yours truly.  It’s the crazy lifted yellow Lexus I spoke about.  Who would paint a nice car that color?

Standard