Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I received a card from a friend back in Michigan that simply said, "2014 is your year to shine!"

It brought me to tears, and I can not give you a good, plausible explanation as to why.

Allow me to back up just a bit ... okay, a lot.

For as long as I can remember, I have felt like I have been in a holding pattern.  Well-meaning friends and family have gently nudged me with questions like, "When are you going to settle down?" or "Are you dating anyone nice?" or "What's wrong with you?  Can't you find Mr. Right?"

For as long as I can remember, I have attempted to answer the question, what is wrong with me?  Oh the hours I have literally wasted on answering that one.


I wish I learned that lesson 20 years ago.  I am a sloooooow learner.

As I think upon that simple gift, I am going to let go of regret and let 2014 SHINE.


From a few weeks back ... I had started writing this blog, and like much of my life lately, I lost track of it, got WAAAAAAY hugely side-tracked, and well, just discovered this little gem.  

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning ... okay, 3 a.m., to be exact, from a dream that I have not been able to shake the entire day.

We all dream. It's a fact.  A scientific fact, to boot.

Most days, we wake up, hopefully refreshed, with a sense that a dream was had, hopefully, good, and we go about our day nary a care, well, at least for that particular dream, on our minds. 

Trust me ... there are usually plenty of cares aside from dreams.

But today was different. 

It is a reoccurring theme, this dream.  I am heading for a beautiful place, usually my beloved Great Lakes, but I have to travers all these crazy roads to get to it, and just as I am about to grab my goal, something comes along ... like a dilapidated cottage where I thought a palatial one would stand ... or a flooded road ... or lots of twisty, turny roads that would scare the eastern right out of a Kentuckian. 

If you are from the east side of this beloved Commonwealth, you know of what I speak.  Amen?

Last night's dream was similar in theme and scope.  I was driving down these rutted, oftentimes, dirt roads, that were more like the craziest obstacle you could dream up than they were roads.  Now, in the dream, I was traveling for hours, and randomly, I would encounter people along the way that were also, apparently, heading to this nebulous destination.  This, alone, is an interesting fact when you take into account how not tourist-friendly these roads actually were!

Long about the 3 a.m. hour, I finally saw my destination ahead of me.  The crowning glory in my long, hard-fought battle, a gorgeous vista with cliffs and waterfalls and deep greenness and just breathtaking beauty. 

At some point, I had left my vehicle and was traversing the remaining portion of the journey on foot.  Flip-flopped ensconced foot, mind, when I meant to step over a particularly steep and tree-rutted part of the trail and was met by a nasty, grouchy rattler.  Said rattler, pulled his venomous head back to strike, and just I was about to step out of the line of his strike, I realized that I would be stepping on another coiled rattler, camouflaged in the dead leaves on my path.

Then I woke up.

Two things strike me.

Number one, I just love how I managed to weave the topic of adaptations among living organisms, the current topic in fourth grade Science, into my dream.  Hey! If that doesn't speak to integrated curriculum, I don't know what does.

Number two, I know this dream has a deeper meaning.  That's the short of it. 

Yep, that's why they gave me a liberal arts degree, folks.

But clearly, I am keeping myself from something. I am keeping myself from my own dreams.

As I was telling a friend about this dream, I said, "I am not into dream analysis, but you know, God used dreams throughout Biblical history, so I am sure, if He wanted to speak to me through a dream, He could and would. So, am I to surmise that I am standing in the way of my own destiny?  And if so, how do I get out of my own way?"

Deep questions for the Eve of a New Year ...


I had such grand plans for my Year 2013.  As it lay there, stretched out before me, all new and stuff, I was sure I was going to make it the best year yet.

Yeaaaaah ... that didn't happen.  Somewhere a long the line, and probably after school started back up and the craziness ensued, I got ... I don't know ... apathetic.  I just lost my motivation.  All of it.

I was going to do something creative and fun and FREE with my yard ... didn't happen.

I was going to entertain more ... didn't happen.

I was going to be more creative this year ... didn't happen.

I was going to read more ... didn't happen.

I was going to lose more weight by adding more exercise ... soooooo didn't happen.

What did happen is that I just got lazier. Really LAZIER ... wait.  Is that a word?  An appropriate phrase?  Whatever.  I was lazy.  Really lazy.

This year wasn't all bad.  I grew friendships.  I discovered new friendships and found the value in renewed friendships. In some cases, I had to put distance in other friendships.

I came to realize that putting unnecessary expectations are not at all healthy for me.  So, I attempted to remove expectations (easier said than done).  It worked well in some areas ... not so well in other areas.

I did attempt to step outside of my box a little bit, but there is always room to grow there as well.

I discovered this blog (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11973/20-things-to-let-go-of-before-the-new-year.html), and it has helped me really rework my thoughts and feelings surrounding the end of this year, 2013.   These 20 things will help me shape how I look at this new year, Year 2014.  I still have no big expectations for the new year, because I am taking these 20 things to just let go of in the new year!

1. Let go of all thoughts that don't make you feel empowered and strong.
2. Let go of feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.
3. Let go of the fear of the unknown; take one small step and watch the path reveal itself.
4. Let go of regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.
5. Let go of worrying; worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.
6. Let go of blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have two choices, accept it or change it.
7. Let go of thinking you are damaged; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are.
8. Let go of thinking your dreams are not important; always follow your heart.
9. Let go of being the “go-to person” for everyone, all the time; stop blowing yourself off and take care of yourself first … because you matter.
10. Let go of thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. You are right where you need to be. Your journey is unfolding perfectly for you.
11. Let go of thinking there's a right and wrong way to do things or to see the world. Enjoy the contrast and celebrate the diversity and richness of life.
12. Let go of cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.
13. Let go of thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.
14. Let go of anger toward ex lovers and family. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong.
15. Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you've done the best you can, and that's enough.
16. Let go of thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.
17. Let go of your money woes — make a plan to pay off debt and focus on your abundance.
18. Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.
19. Let go of trying to fit in and be accepted by everyone. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.
20. Let go of self-hate. You are not the shape of your body or the number on the scale. Who you are matters, and the world needs you as you are. Celebrate you!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On This World I Live In

I was cleaning out my JUNK mail box in my email, and the following subject line caught my eye:

Life is short. Have an affair.

Ummm....no thanks!? 

The thought occurred to me, who would actually be intrigued by such a subject line? 

Immediately upon thinking that, about four or five folks that I have had the distinct pleasure ... err, displeasure to have known popped into my head. 

Is it sad that throughout my lifetime, I've managed to run into not one, not two, not even three, but MORE philandering fools than I care to count that would indeed take up the call LIFE IS SHORT. HAVE AN AFFAIR?

I will answer that question for you, because, honestly, it's a rhetorical one.  But YES, a thousand times, yes!  That is a sad, sad commentary on life. 

I sound like my parents or even my grandparents, but seriously, what sort of world are we handing over to the children with messages like, "Hey!  You don't live forever, so go ahead!  Hop in the sack with someone who is married.  It's no big deal.  You're not affecting any other lives in the process!  No biggie!"

Is it too much to ask that we not approach a commitment to another person, in some cases to children, in a REUSE, REDUCE, RECYCLE sort of mindset?

The first part of that statement is true.  Life is short.  Sometimes way too short.  Sometimes not short enough.  Nevertheless, that doesn't gives us a "Get out of Jail Free Card" for doing things that are just plain horrible.  And, despite what you may think, an affair?  That is just about as horrible as you can imagine.

Besides the most obvious affront, that of  the breakdown of an intimacy that only two people who've promised a solid commitment share, you are stripping yourself of the need to feel accountable to anybody or anything other than yourself.  It's selfishness at its very base level.

You chip away at the trust of everyone in your circle ... your spouse, your children, your family members, and even your friends.

You become a living example of what dishonesty and, quite honestly, "skanky liar" looks like in flesh form.

I don't know; to me it takes more courage to make a promise and stick with it.  It's a pretty wimpy choice to turn away from all of that for something that is self-serving.  Period.  No one else benefits from that decision.

I am going to suggest a modified version of that subject line:

Life is short. Be the kind of person others will look up to and want to be!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Intimate Details

I can count on one hand the people who I trust enough to know all my crap. Okay, I can count on about three fingers.  Maybe four.  But that's a pretty shaky number.  Those three people?  They pretty much know it all.  The down side is that they can call me on it.  All of it.  But that's how this sort of intimate friendship works, right?

Trust isn't an easy thing for me.  I've been burned enough times that you really need to earn my trust before I just give you the golden invitation to get all up in my business.  And even then, I don't give you the whole kit and caboodle.

Hey, do you remember Caboodles!?  Gosh, those things were handy. 

I digress.

I've been blessed (or cursed ... it's all in the way you look at it) to have been part of others' lives ... I've been immersed in their mess, and I am thrilled, for the most part, that I've been there for those messy times ... friends for a season, you know.

However, I wouldn't say that I trust my baggage to those folks.  It's harsh, I know, but it's not easy putting it all there only to find that someone has decided to share your stuff with their spouse or sibling or parent or friends or neighbor or the dude standing behind them in the grocery line.

It was about this time last year that I was sitting around a table of folks, shooting the crap, and the subject of weddings came up.  The comment was made that weddings seem sort of ridiculous in the whole grand scheme of things.  They've become just another event wherein you must outdo the person before you.

I started thinking ...

I get the reason behind having people witness the commitment you make to your one and only love and God.  I really do get it.  However, I couldn't help thinking about those folks that I truly love ... people that know the intimate details of my life.  Those are the ones I want there on my special day (which is less and less a life goal and more and more a very fuzzy day dream).

The older I get, the more I realize it isn't about attempting to be the most popular or the most liked. It's about surrounding yourself with those few that will be there for ALL the intimate details.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Dish #2 -- Swiss Steak

Half of the little steak fell apart when I pulled it out of the crock pot. :)

So, Swiss Steak isn't any thing new for me.  My mom used to make it when I was a kid, and it is STILL my most favorite meal that she makes.  By far.

While my parents were down here visiting, she suggested that I could make Swiss Steak in the crock pot.  I had always felt like it was a bit fussy, and since I don't do fussy, never bothered to attempt it.  However, when my mom started to explain what she did, I was all, "OH. EM. GEE!  I could totally do this!"

The good news is that it is as easy as my mother suggested.  This biggest issue was the tenderizing of the meat -- I sent flour EVERY WHERE!  The bad news is that while it tasted fine, it didn't taste like mom always made. 

Personally, I sort of feel like she left a key ingredient out of the instructions. But perhaps it really does just taste better when mom makes it.

At any rate, 2 down, 98 new dishes to go!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

New Dish #1 -- Chicken Pie with Sweet Potato Crust

This is the book from which I got the recipe.  It WON'T flip for me, so you get a side-ways shot. Sorry!

This is the chicken, carrots, and onions arranged in the bottom of the casserole dish.

This is a mixture of chicken broth, evaporated milk, and flour, simmered to a degree of thickness and then poured over the chicken and veggies.

This is the "crust" -- mashed sweet potatoes (fresh!!  I boiled them first and let them cool), flour, egg, and butter. 
The finished product -- all golden brown and bubbly!
All of it put together and ready to bake ... 350 degrees for about 45 to 55 minutes.

 I declare this New Dish #1 GOOD!  Very good, in fact.  It is savory and hearty and, honestly, pretty doggone easy to put together.  I would definitely recommend this dish.

It had been my intention to serve it with a tossed salad and some corn.  However, I got the corn and pie on the plate, sat down, dug in, and realized only AFTER I was done that I'd completely forgotten to make the tossed salad.  OOPS!

365 er 300 er 200 ... Maybe 100 ... Okay, Some New Dishes Challenge!

As any "working gal" will tell you, we all get into a cooking rut.  I am no exception. 

There are four or five things in my cooking repertoire that I make over and over and over and over and over and over ....

You get the idea.  Basically, these four or five things are easy.  They are quick.  They are relatively low mess and low fuss.  And after a day of dealing with HIGH maintenance mess and fuss, browning up a chicken breast and eating it with reheated green beans (or sadly, and more frequently my case, make a sandwich) is much preferred over dealing with cooking craziness. 

But I do enjoy food (as is evidenced by my body's current state of affairs), and I do love to sit down to a good, well-balanced meal and just enjoy it. 

One can not do that when one is making themselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches 5 out of 7 days a week.

I was reminded of how much I love a good home-cooked meal when my parents were down here visiting.  I came home from school one afternoon and was met at the door by the heavenly aromas of roasted chicken in the oven.  Pure heaven, ladies and gentlemen.  Pure, unadulterated heaven.  I ate my weight in roasted chicken that evening (and paid the price later on that evening)! 

Last night, I had dinner at a friend's house, and she made the most wonderful pork loin ever!  I'd been toying with the idea prior to last night's dinner, but last night sealed the deal.


Okay, so I know me.  I know I will get side-tracked ... or have to deal with some sort of craziness at work ... or I will get sick ... or something.  So, I am pretty sure that 365 days a year might be a bit more than I can literally and figuratively chew in terms of new dishes.  However, I *might* be able to attempt 100 new dishes.  That seems feasible ...

Maybe ...

Sorta ...

Perhaps ...

The deal is, I have a CRAP TON of cookbooks and recipes that I've clipped over the years (I am some relation to my Grandmother, Phyllis Murray), and I was raised by a master cook!  My sister and I can both cook the pants off people ...

Okay, maybe not that impressive ... but we can cook.

So, it's not that I don't have the abilities ... or the accouterments, for that matter.  Rather, I've just gotten lazy in my advanced age.

Time for a change, people! 

At lunch today, a lunch of homemade JAZZY TUNA SALAD (my own concoction), I pored over a cookbook I received from a friend when I moved down here ... The Bible of Southern Cooking.   It seemed fitting to start there.

I have some garden fresh sweet potatoes that need to be used up, and there was born my first NEW DISHES in my SOME NEW DISHES CHALLENGE!


More to come on this one later on tonight ...

I know, y'all are sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear how this all turns out, aren't you?  All I know is that somewhere in Michigan my mother is saying to herself, "FINALLY!"

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Reinventing My Closet

Have you ever looked in your closet and thought, "I HATE everything in here?"  But then, you looked at your bank account and thought, "I have to wear everything in here....crap!"

That's where I am right now.  I've perused Pinterest to the point of depression.  And the thought occurred to me sometime late last night, "what if I try to replicate that in my closet?  I probably could ... maybe ... sorta ... well, minus the skinny model that looks good in absolutely everything."

So, today's attempt .... THE PINK OUTFIT.  I love pink, and it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month so why not, right?

Pardon the very poor quality photos ... selfies are always so gross, no?

The scarf is the same exact color as a the sweater, which I don't usually do.  However, it seemed to work this time.  Or so I am hoping ...  Earrings are by my sister ... or she found them for me.
Skinny jeans rolled up, because I am obsessed with that particular look.  Not sure if it works for me.  the Scarf and the sweater might be a bit too matchy, matchy, but I liked the look anyway.

Monday, October 07, 2013

New Accountability

Beginning weight (January 30, 2012): 229.2
Goal weight: 175
Goal body fat percentage: 22%
Current weight: 219.4
Current bady fat: Ummmm.... dunno
Loss to date: after yo-yoing all over the place, 9.8 lbs
Pounds to reach goal: 54.2

Well, I have neglected this part of my life for a while, because, honestly, I was tired of thinking about it and talking about it and planning for it.  When you are over-weight, and your desire is to do something about it, it can pretty well consume your moment by moment thoughts.  I am not all together sure that is a healthy thing.  The constant consumption of weight-loss thoughts.  I could be wrong.  I've been known to be so before.

As a direct result of my constant, over-whelming, ever-consuming weight loss mind suck, my solution was to just stop.  Stop thinking.  Stop doing.  Just stop.

That isn't necessarily a good thing either.  I could be wrong.  I've been known to be so before.  Still, I'm of the opinion it was the wrong thing to do. 

This stopping business was well-timed (read a certain amount of sarcasm into that little statement) in part because it became very clear to me that I needed to shave some expenses down, and Weight Watchers, sadly, was one of the expenses to be shaved, so to speak. 

The other day, I discovered some pictures that, while I'd known had been taken at the time, I didn't realize existed (if that makes any sense whatsoever), and were "out there" for public consumption.  Well, they were, and I consumed, and BOY HOWDY! was I ever disappointed. 

Yes, I've lost some weight.  Then I gained some back.  Then I lost it again, and I thought I was doing great.  Yet, when I looked at the photos, I realized just how little it mattered and how much I have to go. 

Truth be told, I need to get serious about this or nothing is going to change ... except my health.  That is my biggest concern. 

Plus, I am tired of my clothes.  I am tired of only being able to wear the same pairs of jeans or pants.  I want to be able to walk into Goodwill (the only place I can afford to shop these days ... that's sad, right?) and pick anything cool or funky off that shelf and wear it.  Period. 

So, I need to make some changes.  And dag-gone it, I wish I could just snap my fingers and make those changes now.  Wake up tomorrow and see them all made. 

That's not how this works. 

So, it's back to the drawing board with a free calorie counter and a renewed sense that I CAN DO THIS ... I hope.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Memories ... Rerun

This was originally written in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  It seemed fitting to run it again tonight.

Friday, I sat on my stool in front of my class, attempting valiantly, to hold it together while I explained to my students, most of whom weren't even born on September 11, 2001, why we were going to a commemoration ceremony down the street at our City Hall.

I had to explain to them about the emotions they might see ... the reason why we were even worrying about it 10 years later ... and the whole time, the memories of that day almost overwhelmed me.

I hadn't expected that.  I mean, it has been 10 years. I've moved on ... by it's very nature, life moves on.  But then one of my sweet, little fourth graders, ever the insightful darling, pointed out that "many people are still very haunted by that day."

She's right, of course.  I've written about that day and my reactions to it here http://teachersworld.blogspot.com/2006/09/five-years-and-one-day-later.html and here http://teachersworld.blogspot.com/2007/09/apocalyptic_5857.html. We're all haunted ... haunted by the images and the Post-9/11 world we all live in.

We may move on, but I would say that those of us that sat glued to our televisions and radios and witnessed the horror of many, many lives lost ... we are the folks that will never forget. The nation was and continues to be haunted by the images of that day.

While I never lost any one in the four plane crashes that shook that day and the subsequent building collapses ... while I did not know any one that put thoughts of their own safety on hold to go into a burning skyscraper to save others, I join the collective mourning for a nation that will never be the same.

As I sat and tried to explain to a generation of kiddos that hasn't known anything other than terror alerts and The War on Terror ... as I sat and tried to explain how this was my new normal ... their only normal ... and how that new normal began with a sense of uncertainty ... a fear of the new unknowns, I was struck by the fact that, despite that day, despite the haunting images, the collective comes together today to reflect and remember, and we help to raise a new generation ... a generation that can learn from the events of the past, to pave the way for a new future, for an even brighter new normal.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

I Am Pleasant!

I have come to the realization, thanks to a friend, that I am rapidly turning into Ouiser Boudreaux.   Well, minus the stacks and stacks of cash.....and the lovely house in the lovely Louisiana Spanish-moss covered town.  Minus all of that, and I'm pretty sure that I am turning into Ouiser Boudreaux. 

I do, however, watch public television, unlike Ouiser.  I also listen to NPR.  Apparently, that makes me a nerd, as another friend informed me.

Oh well. 

It Has Been A While ...

I have neglected my dear readers.  I know that. 

Insert my sad face here.

My teary-eyed emoji.

Do you know I had to Google emoji?  I figured it was Japanese in nature, but still....I'm hopelessly unhip.

Since school started, I've been on a merry-go-round that won't stop moving, and I feel that I am doing a good job, I can never ever keep up ... ever.

Yesterday, September 6th, I actually cleaned a giant pile off my table that had been sitting there since approximately August 6th.  Okay, granted, part of it is now in a pile on the floor, but give me some credit for getting the pile taken care of.

I used to function so much better with my piles, but as I've gotten older ... and grumpier, piles drive me crazy!  And really, I've been lying to myself all this time.  I can't find a dag-blamed thing in those piles. Not one thing.

So, today, it's my goal to get my mental piles cleaned up. 

I am going to dust the writing cob webs off and ply you with tons and tons of just witty writing.

Actually, what you're going to get is a disjointed, rambling glop that I am going to pass off as writing in my attempt at cleaning out the cobwebs of my mind.

Sit back.  Enjoy.  Wonder at the bizarre twists and turns my mind takes.

On Being Single

I am getting ready to go to a bridal shower today.  I'm getting ready early because, ever the well-organized one, I have no gift yet.  Oh, I know what I'm getting.  I've put A LOT of thought into getting it.  It's just that by the time I get home in the evening, I am to pooped to pop. 

My grandmother used to say that.  I never understood that really.

Now I do.  Implicitly.

Bridal showers and baby showers have always made me uncomfortable.

They didn't use to ... back when I was a kid or a young girl, and I thought that people would be throwing such things for me one day.

But now?  Now that I am 41 years old, and when you go to one of these things, where ALL the conversation is on babies and husbands and of weddings and showers of the past, well, it effectively excludes me from the conversation.  So, I'm just there to give a gift and leave.

Okay, yes, I realize I am there for more than that, but you see what happens in the brain of a single girl now, right?

See, here's the thing, even though we are in the year 2013, and even though the girls that are younger than me have been raised as Thoroughly Modern Women, the feeding frenzy for the perfect man, perfect dress, perfect day, perfect birth, perfect child(ren) is at such an all-time high fever pitch, Singles have been informed both verbally (if you can believe the gazingas of some among us) as well as non-verbally that we really, really need to settle down and experience what the rest of the deliriously happy in our culture are experiencing.

Only, here's the thing. 

Divorce is up.  Way up.

Cheating is up.  Way up.

More people are being treated for some form of depression than ever before.

Families are wrecked ... that wreckage is way up.

There are men that would rather work three and four jobs than go home to a wife and kids.  That's way up.

There are women that, because they got everything their hearts' desired as children, feel the need to demand that of their husbands now.  So, the nagging is waaaay up.

There are men that, because they got everything that their hearts' desired as children, feel the need to demand that of their wives now.  So, being a complete and insensitive pig is waaaaay up.

Debt is waaaaay up, because no one knows how to save ... or limit themselves ... or understand that we don't need EVERYTHING ... or just plain say no.

Dissatisfaction is on the rise because everyone has been told that they must be deliriously happy all the time.

So, yeah, sign me up for that, right!?

Marrieds tell me all the time, "I just want you to be as happy as me," only they don't look very happy.  They complain all the time about their spouses.  They let their kids rule the entire show (entitlement and creating spoiled children that get everything is exhausting).  They complain that they want to be home all day with their kids, but then they complain that they want adult conversation because they are with their kids all day.  They complain that they want a bigger house ... more money ... more time for vacations ... bigger vacations ... better travel ... they just plain complain.

But they want me to be happy?

And you know what happens?  We singles get told that enough, and suddenly, we're thinking, "Wait a second!  We must be missing something!  We're not happy!"

And then, because that's not bad enough, around coffee or during a book club or because psychologists of this world have nothing better to do than analyze this question, books have been written about the fact that maybe Singles in their late 30s and early 40s are some how damaged ... or are socially inept ... or are closeted gays or lesbians ... or mentally unstable ... or are desperate ... or apathetic .... or are .... NORMAL?  Nope.  Can't be normal.

So, Singles buy that argument as well. 

Marrieds start looking for friendships that include other marrieds with children because logistically it just makes more sense, and suddenly, those single friends you had don't seem as much fun to hang out with any more and that furthers the divide between us all.

I was sitting around my recently cleaned living room the other day, and after struggling with some friendships that I have worked hard on, but that have fallen to the side because, I guess, I just can't keep up with their married with kids crowd, I looked around and said, "Self, I am happy!  Yes, I live by myself, but this ... all this, is mine!  No one helped me get it.  I earned it myself.  I have a rich life full of lots of hobbies and things I like to do.  I enjoy a great amount of things in this world, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me."

It wasn't a pep talk so much as it was an epiphany.  I no longer buy the arguments.  They no longer hold any water.  My life is just as fulfilled with out children in it as those that have them tied tightly to their apron strings.  You, with the aprons, may not see it, but it is.

My life is rich and sweet, and it doesn't matter that I am not sharing it with someone every single moment of every single day.  I am sharing. Period.

Marrieds, a little word of advice.  We all get that this is the road you've chosen, but it may not be the road that was chosen for EVERY BODY.  So, yay for you, but stop making it every one's choice.  Celebrate my choice. 

Celebrating is always so much more fun than criticizing/critiquing/looking down your nose at someone else.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bitchy McPissy Pants

I suppose I felt a bit too confident about this new school year.  Like I'd gotten a bit too big for my britches. But I really wasn't panicking like I normally am days before school starts.  Perhaps that is what got me in the end.

Perhaps it was because I didn't feel like I got any vacation ... just a break.  Nice, but it would have been nice to get a change of scenery. 

It might have been that I have just been consumed by some money worries.

Whatever the reason, I started school and was immediately mired in a workload that is almost insurmountable.  The kids have been great!  Do I have some handfuls?  Absolutely!  I have them every year, but the miring ... the insurmountable stuff ... that's what twisted my britches.

May I introduce you all to Bitchy McPissy Pants?

I am seriously considering a number of polo shirts, in different colors, with that new name embroidered on the front.  That way folks know before I open my mouth and make them sorry they decided to whine to me. 

A forewarning of sorts ...

Kind of like this:   "RED ALERT! RED ALERT!!  Bitchy McPissy Pants will show no empathy for your prattle about stupid crap.  She will tolerate no whining about stupid decisions you've made in your life.  Bitchy McPissy Pants will inform you that you need to pull up your Big Girl panties and get on with it. She will not stroke your ego and make sure you feel better about the poor relationship/financial/ego-boosting decisions you make.  She is Bitchy McPissy Pants."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Home Visits

* Some names have been changed or altered to protect the innocent :)


That means I am working like a fiend in my classroom.

That means my house is a wreck.

That means it's time for HOME VISITS!

Home what?

Yeah, we get our class lists, are assigned a related arts teacher to go with us, and then we head out to introduce ourselves, pass out some information, and generally just get everyone excited for the Beginning of School.

This excitement thing?  Yeah, generally not a problem for the parental units of the group.  It's the soon-to-be-fourth graders that often need a bit of work in the excitement department.

I really do have a lot of fun going out and meeting all my families, though.  It's the social butterfly in me, I suppose (this surprises absolutely no one that truly knows me).  Funny thing is, the longer I teach here in Frankfort, the more it's a getting reacquainted deal than an actual meeting new people deal, and when I do meet new people, it's amazing how far my reputation precedes me.  Comical, really. 

Ugh!  Another sign that I'm old.

Last night, though, I think I had the FUNNIEST encounter on a home visit to date. 

Well, unless you count the time my teammates and I went to one home and the lady told my teammate to wait while she went to put on her bra ...

But I digress!

I show up at this last house, a lovely couple and their two children, boy and girl, and they immediately invite me in.  They have this great home with some amazingly comfy-looking furniture.  And as they offered me a seat, I mentioned that I'd thrown my back out, and that, based on the comfy-ness factor of their sofa, I may not ever want to leave. 

I sit down while their son, a kindergartner this year, flits around the living room, talking a mile a minute, and generally attempts to entertain the troops.  At some point, I realize that my butt is vibrating, and I make mention of this fact.

Okay, I don't say, "Hey, my butt is vibrating!"  My mother has raised me better than that ... my dad? Not so much, but my mother? My mother has attempted to raise both my sister and I to be nice, "not-so-young" ladies.  She swears my dad came along behind her and undid it all ... or most of it, but that's neither here nor there. 

I think I said, "Oh!  Some thing's vibrating."

To which, the dad chuckled and said, "J* must have turned on the massaging feature for you."

The mom started laughing and said, "Well!"

The host with the most, clearly, this kid is!  I launched into my spiel about what I'd brought with me ... what they needed to fill out before school, and then asked them if they had questions or concerns.  It was at this point in the conversation that they asked their children to go up stairs because they wanted to talk with Miss Murray for a minute.  We began a frank discussion regarding their daughter's progress.

We're in the middle of this discussion, when we hear a very loud, "MISS MURRAY!!!!"  from the top of the stairs. 

"Yes?"  I answer.

"Put your feet up, Miss Murray! I want you to put your feet up!"

The dad and mom just bust a gut!!  Seems that J, concerned for my comfort, had hit the foot stool feature on the sofa as well, and he wanted to make sure that I used it while we chatted.

OH.  MY.  GOODNESS.  I hope I get that kid when he's in fourth grade!!  He was an absolute riot!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Accountability # ... I've Lost Count

I could go ahead and put the vital statistics up here on this page, but honestly, it's not changed....not all that much, at least.

I am what you call a Weight Loss Dud.

It's true.

For about a good six month run, I was rocking and rolling ... okay, maybe not rocking and rolling, but I was losing. Sorta ... and for some reason, that is super difficult for me and this crazy body I have.

And then The Foot Issue hit, and I couldn't walk ... or exercise ... or even stand on it for any length of time, and the weight came back on.  Not all if it, but enough of it.

And I've been fighting to lose even 5 pounds ever since.

I have tried everything ... short of just stopping eating ... and nothing.

I am wondering if shock treatment might help ...

...or having my jaw wired shut ...

....or a diet of cat food ...

....or celery sticks for life ...

I am just tired of being the fat girl ...  it's just no fun.

Why yes, I am having a pity party for myself, but you will be happy to know that I am not eating cake at this pity party, so I consider it a small victory.

And yes, I know, I should be happy that I am healthy and walking and taking in air and all that good stuff, and I do enjoy all those things, don't get me wrong, but dang!  I would give anything to be just 40 pounds lighter.

And before you get on your high horse, and start telling me that it takes a long time, back that horse up.  I KNOW that.  I've been working on this for two years, and I don't need your reminder. Really, I don.t 

And I don't need your suggestion of doctors to visit or tests to have run or the suggestions of diseases and ailments I might have or the crazy diets I should try or the things I should cut out or the things I should add or any of the other myriad of stuff you are going to shovel my way.  Frankly, I am really tired of all the suggestions and helpful encouragement.  Right now, I would just like to wallow. 

Tomorrow, I will figure out my next plan of attack. 

Today, just allow me the opportunity to wallow.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Can It Really Be TWELVE Years!?

I got started in this whole teaching gig "late in life" -- a late bloomer, if you will, not truly having been called to this profession until my later 20s ... when I was jaded with my professional career ... when I knew I needed more than a comfy paycheck and fancy suits to wear.  It took a good deal of professional crap, shall we say, before I came to that conclusion, but once I did, I never looked back.

Truth be told, it seems like just yesterday that I made the controversial decision (you should have heard my father's fit when I announced what I was going to quit my good paying job to go back to school to do -- he's come around since.).  Then I do the math.  Man!  I hate when I make the mistake of doing the math, but darn it!  I do the math, and yep! I'm not in my 20s any more.  In fact, I haven't been in my 20s in ... well, a crap-ton of years!  As is evidenced by the crow's feet and gray hairs.  Oh mature age range, what a cruel temptress you are!

Okay, I am not sure that last sentence means anything, but I was going for a little Shakespearean flair there.  You're impressed, no?

Each year, I watch tons of new teachers begin their careers, and part of me is all, "Isn't that sweet? They're like 22 years old.  They have no clue what crow's feet or gray hairs are.  They have tons of energy and amazing ideas ... awwww!" 

Soon followed by, "Holy crap!  These people weren't alive when LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE was on TV... the FIRST time!"

I was a green teacher once, and sometimes that feels like it wasn't that long ago.  But then, dang it, I do the math again.  And it really was a long time ago.  Twelve years worth of long time ago.  Shoot!  Friends have had children ... and put them through elementary school ... and have seen them into high school ... THAT'S how long ago twelve years have been.

Today, I walked into our building, a building I've been walking into for the past seven years (good grief!!  seven years already!?!?), and I was struck by how comfortable I felt.  Now, don't get me wrong.  It has suddenly hit me that "OH-SNAP-I-HAVE-GINORMOUS-AMOUNTS-OF-WORK-TO-GET-DONE-WHEN-WILL-I-HAVE-TIME-TO-GET-IT-ALL-DONE-WHY-DIDN'T-SOMEONE-WARN-ME-HOW-CLOSE-IT-WAS-TO-SCHOOL-STARTING."  This happens EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.  My friends and family are weeeeelllllllll versed in my SCHOOL STARTS panic mode.  This is normal. 

What wasn't normal was the feeling like, "Oh yeah!  I've got this."  I mean, I know it happens; I guess I just expected it after I was a veteran ... after I had been at this a while.  And, then, well, I did the math. 

I am a veteran.

I have been doing this a while.

Twelve years worth of a while ...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Coming Up on Seven Years

You know that old adage, "Time flies when you're having fun?"  Well, I must be having a blast, because time sure has flown by!

I'm acknowledging my "seven year anniversary" of moving to Kentucky now, because, in a few short weeks, when the anniversary actually hits, I will be in the throes of GET IT ALL TOGETHER QUICKLY BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS craziness that is those last few days before August 1st. 

It's been an adventure, that's for sure, and honestly, I can't believe it's been seven years.  Really.  I can't.  I can still remember coming down here for the first time and falling love with the raw beauty of this place the moment I laid eyes on it.  I'd never seen limestone cliffs jutting out of perfectly grassy hills before I came south.

And I know, I know, y'all here in Kentucky don't consider yourselves true southerners ... or so some of you say, but seriously.  When you're from the North, and you've crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, you're southern.  No if's, and's, or but's about it.

I have so thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in your southern culture, and while stuff like this ...

... annoy me to no end (this would NEVER be allowed in the North ... NEVER ... all sorts of traffic violations right there), there are scenes like this ...
 and this ...

... and suddenly, my soul is soothed. 
It's been an amazing seven years, and I am looking forward to another seven (plus seven, plus seven, plus .... ) more!
In honor of my upcoming anniversary, I will "wow" you with some of my Kentucky photos over the last seven years.   So sit back, relax, begin scrolling, and enjoy!




Things That Are Making Me Wonder ...

I drove the "long way" to a destination today.

Long way ... scenic route ... way to avoid construction traffic ... whatever way you'd like to refer to it as, I did it.  And it got me thinking ... about stuff ... random stuff.

And because it would be a shame not to share all this random stuff with you, I am doing just that.  Sharing.

See how lucky you are?

Random Item #1 ...
Driving along the aforementioned route, one comes in visual contact with a meandering creek that pretty much meanders the entire drive from point A to point B.  While driving by it today, I noticed a dad and two boys walking down the middle of the creek.  Now, I've often wondered how deep the creek was in this particular spot, and I as watched them slosh through the middle of the creek, mid-calf, it struck me that, finally, I had the answer to that question.  Upon closer inspection, it appeared as though the dad was carrying fish. Real. Live. Fish. Now, no one was carrying a fishing rod.  So, one can only assume they caught them with their hands?  Talk about great hand-eye coordination!

Random Item #2 ...
My shoulder hurts.  I've either been sleeping on it wrong.  OR
I have been sleep walking and then pitching a full baseball game ... all while sleeping.  Those are my two conclusions.

Random Item #3 ...
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to witness it, does it make a noise?

Just kidding ... kind of ...

Random Item #4 ...
I am constantly amazed how people fall into GIGANTIC vats of crap and come out ALL the time, smelling like a rose.  I mean, how do people manage to shirk their job responsibilities and financial responsibilities and still manage a life full of stuff and praise?  I am paying for student loans, and they are KILLING me, and there are people who are dodging paying them ... for years ... and years ... and they have brand new vehicles ... and electronic gadgets ... and new clothes ... and go on all sorts of vacations ... and ... well, how does this happen???

How can some work their tails off and do a good job, and then sit back and watch those that do very little get the praise heaped upon them?  They do all the surface work ... all the things that make them LOOK good, while others, who have been doing the same thing for years, but not calling attention to themselves, have been passed over.  It's makes the mind reel ...

Random #5 ...
How many licks DOES IT take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?

Going Over the Top

I came home from my daily 3.6 miles of walking this morning just in time [insert sarcasm here] to view a PROPOSAL PLANNERS segment on The Today Show.  It was one of those surreal moments when you find yourself sitting at the foot of your bed, in mid-tennis shoe removal, and you hear what the reporter is saying about hiring someone to plan your marriage proposal, and you're all, "NO WAY!"

I mean, admittedly, I've just walked around a 0.6 mile course 6 times, so there is the off-chance that I have lost some oxygen that should have gone to the brain thus rendering myself incapable of processing what I am hearing, but still!  A man must now hire someone to plan a proposal for the woman he is pledging his love to?

I get it.  I am old .... and single .... and, yes, I am crotchety, but when did simplicity go out of vogue?

What is she talking about, your asking yourself right now, aren't you?

I am saying this ...

Everything we do in life, according to societal pressures, we'll call them, must be on this ridiculously grand scale ... a grade A production that would put the old Ziegfeld Follies to shame ... and by the mere mention of that old fashioned reference, I am proving my out-of-dated-ness.  I get it.

But today, we can't just get engaged.  No just asking some one to marry them is passé. Instead, we must have this HUGE production, wherein the Vienna Symphony does a flash mob concert on the steps of Union Station, while your soon-to-be-fiancé, who has hired Beyoncé to help him with his dance moves, does a free-style modern dance while the Joffrey Ballet backs him up, as flame throwers spell out the words WILL YOU MARRY ME?  I mean, by the time you've sunk that much money into the proposal, what's left for the wedding ... or, ummm, I don't know, the life following the wedding, because, here's a newsflash: That life? The one that lasts 50 or 60 years (hopefully)?  That is what really counts ... not the skywriter you hired to impress your beloved into marrying you in the first place.

And if that wasn't enough, then you must out-do the girls before you with outrageously priced wedding gowns, ones that you've watched on the countless wedding dress shows on TLC ... dresses that cost more than your first car ... or your current one ... or the boat you've always said you'd like to have ... one day ... only one day will never come because you will be paying off that Royal wedding from now until your 25th wedding anniversary ... if you make it that far.

And who wants a honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls.  I mean, that is sooooo 1955.  Jamaica?   Soooo 1995.  No, we need to go to Fiji!  Or rent the villa on Richard Branson's private island.

Then there is the family.  I mean, we can't just get pregnant any more.  Nope.  That's not enough.  We have to have an elaborate ruse in which a gigantic stork is rented for the weekend and trained to go to each one of the soon-to-be grandmothers, delivering little bundles of joy, wherein, when they unwrap the aforementioned bundles of joy, they find all sorts of grandmotherly items hinting at their impending rise in life stations.  Of course, you've hired a Hollywood film crew to capture the whole thing, because you want to make sure it gets on Youtube to receive those 500,000 hits all in one afternoon.  That shows popularity!

If announcing the pregnancy wasn't enough, then we must have a big reveal party!  Yes, lets do that.  I mean, we can't just inform everyone that, "yes, we're having a boy, and we're super excited."  Nope, to fully inform everyone of our grand jubilation regarding our impending parenthood, we must assemble a large cast of characters to come and eat blue cupcakes because that will be great fun.  And yes, by all means, let's make sure this gets on Faceboook and Youtube.  Popularity and all.

Then we must have pregnancy photos done by professionals because it's not enough to remember how big and huge I was while I was cooking this kid.  Nope, I've got to pay obscene amounts of money to someone to do it for me as well as to announce my due date, because babies always come on those due dates, don't they?

Hospitals are now making room for large parties with catering services for extended family to come and party with the mommy and daddy-to-be while waiting for Junior to make his or her appearance in this excessive world.  Because, lets face it, nothing says party, like 18 to 20 hours of labor, right?

And just when you thought that your life was over ... you'd done everything excessive that could possibly be done to announce to the world that you are soooo very important, then that kid turns one, and by golly, we MUST make that an event to remember, so yes, let's hire Barnum and Bailey to come and be a part of the circus-themed birthday party, and yes, let's have 20 bouncy houses and face painting and live African elephants and sky-high cakes.  I mean, a kid only turns one once, right?

******DEEEEEEP  BREATH********

I realize that I will most likely catch a lot of flack for this as many of you reading my rant have been caught up in much of this craze, and make no mistake about it, it is a craze. 

I blame our collective need to obsess over celebrity.  We want the life of a celebrity.  If we can't have it, we'll make it up as we go along.

I blame part of it on our need to one up the next person.  "I don't want them thinking I can't or won't do for my child. "

I blame part of it on our desire for always wanting more ... and bigger.  I can't raise my children in a three bedroom home.  Good gosh now!  I must have a four and five bedroom home ... insert McMansions here."

I blame part of it on PINTEREST.  Pinterest makes us all think we are party planners.

I blame  a lot of it on our desperate need to be popular.  If I throw a grand party that I invite all these people to, they will see how amazing I am ... how put together I am ... how much I do to make life amazing for those around me ...

Whew!  I am just exhausted typing that.  It is exhausting being perfect ... only ... no one is.  Appearances of perfection?  Only skin deep.

What happened to simplicity?  And where did the bar go ... you know the one ... the "Oops! We're sorry; you've just hit the over-the-top-ceiling." 

I'm not saying it isn't fun to celebrate a person and their life. Birthday party it up, but when you extravagantly lavish upon your child when he or she is 3, what are they to look forward to when they are older?  And, what are their expectations when they are older?  In essence, there is an expectation that you've set up for yourself to go bigger or go home, and when does that stop?

And for those that you are hoping to feel inferior to your perfection?  You aren't.  In fact, the opposite it occurring.  You're worrying yourself to death over doing it more over the top than last time ... while those of us that just don't care are embracing the simplicity of this life. 

Listening to the birds wake up with the sun
... the water lapping on a foggy morning shoreline
...children laughing as they run through a sprinkler
...crickets chirping at dusk
Watching the sun slowly slipping below the horizon
...a butterfly float effortlessly above a dewy daisy
...leaves shiver in a great oak as the breeze gently blows through

At the end of your life, however far you are blessed to take it, will it be the extravagant reveal parties and birthday parties and crazy Pinterest-inspired theme parties you threw that you will be remembered by?

Or will it be the gentle appreciation you had for this life?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

I think if you are looking for a great beach read, anything by Carl Hiaasen is a good bet!  He is a master of creating quirky characters, who, at first blush, seem just plum crazy, but after you get to know them, have some sort of message to bestow upon the reader ... in a completely non-preachy way, of course.

As with all of his books I've read thus far, Carl Hiaasen sets his plot smack dab in the middle of South Florida, and spends the majority of his time, spinning a story revolving around the seemingly crazy nature of South Florida.  The fast paced switch from one richly written character to another is anything but seamless, and you are left laughing in spots ... nodding in agreement in others ... and absolutely mystified by the demoralization of human nature in others.

Stormy Weather is set in Miami, right at the hurricane of the century is preparing to level this area.  A whole raft of characters set on evil deeds begin teaming from the proverbial woodwork in the after-math of the storm, and the literal and figurative storms they must all weather in their unforgettable and inevitable end is both entertaining and humorous.  

Buckle your seat belt!  It will be a bumpy ride! Definitely a book to pack for your next water-front vacation.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My High Horse -- In Defense of Miss Utah

I am not going to launch into a lengthy diatribe on the evils of beauty pageants.  I could.  I have lots of ammunition.

But I won't.

I won't rant and rave about the fact that here we are, the year 2013, and we are still judging women on how they walk in an evening gown and how they look in a bathing suit.  I mean, ACTUALLY. GIVING. THEM. A. NUMBER. SCORE. FOR. THIS. SO. CALLED. TALENT.

I could. But I won't.

And I won't bore you with the details of my arguments against judging someone merely by their outward appearance.

I could.  But I won't.

I will not go into the details of how most of these women desperate for a college scholarship (thus the reason they say they do these things) spend thousands of dollars on gowns (or search for sponsors of said gowns), not to mention the number of dollars spent hiring a consultant to help them win the competition.

I don't know. Since I see no athletic ability going on here (unless you want to argue prancing around on a stage in 4 inch heels while attempting to make sure nothing falls out of the bathing suit you are modeling for a live, squealing audience is athletic), so the case for a "coach" seems limp at best.

Why not just save all that money for college to begin with?

No, I could.  But I won't.

What I will do is say that I am so beyond weary of the over-play Miss Utah's train-wreck of an answer to a train-wreck of a question has received.

The question:

"A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?"

My answer?

Ummm..... that it's unfair?

Do you honestly blame Miss Utah for tripping over her tongue on this one?  I mean, I would have!  How is there a good, intelligent-sounding answer to that question?  Really.  I defy you to come up with anything other than It's. Unfair.

Because, ummm, it is.

Then, if tripping over her tongue on a stupid question wasn't bad enough, she is now the butt of every comedians' jokes from coast to coast, not to mention, having to be part and parcel to the repeated review of the colossal flub on national news channels around the nation.  Heaven forbid if it went around the world!  If it went around the world, then perhaps we've come to a somewhat logical answer to that question in the first place.

Without knowing a thing about this girl, who by the way, is probably only in her early 20s (a time in your life when you are probably at your least confident, besides the middle school years), she is being judged by the lack of substance in the question given to her in the first place. To top it off, she's being invited on to news shows to defend and explain herself.


Where is the person that wrote the question in the first place?  I am pretty sure I'd LOVE to hear how he or she would defend THEMSELVES, because that is where the real offense lies.

And the judges?  They somehow hold the ability to appropriately deem the answer acceptable or not?  Really?  Because the vast majority of them are celebrities.  That makes them qualified to judge intelligence how, exactly?

Judging intelligence, which, unless you are doing MENSA tests, which would NEVER be sexy enough to land next to the bathing suit competition, is such a subjective endeavor to begin with ... well, it seems that pageant officials and the legislatures responsible for education "reform" have a lot of the same philosophies.

If it had been me, I believe I would have formulated the following answer to that asinine question:

"It says about society that we place too much emphasis on stupid stuff like celebrity and beauty and wealth and fame and not enough emphasis on the character of the person or the ethics of hard work and intelligence.  I would say that it says about society that we value too many of the wrong things and not enough of the important things and that therefore we'll never have world peace."

But then again, no one would have ever wanted to see me prance around in a bathing suit due to the fact that my bathing suit would have to be much, much bigger than that of a band-aid.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Accountability #5

Ahhhhh well ..... accountability has gone completely out of the window as of late.

I have a million excuses why, and trust me when I tell you that I could list them all quite articulately here on this virtual page.

But seriously.

Do you really want to read through all million of my creative excuses?

See.  I didn't think so.

I will say that I have fallen off the weight loss wagon.

Truth be told, I was run over by the weight loss wagon.

It wasn't pretty.  Lot's of carnage.

The bottom line is that I have been up, and I have been sort of down, but I have NOT lost any significant weight that would register on any official scale. In the words of my mother, "I have been fiddly-farting around."

And really, the only person here I am hurting is myself ... and well, my health.

I have a weigh in tomorrow, and I am not expecting it to be even close to good news.  I will be happy if I've just stayed under the 220 lb mark, but we shall see.

In the meantime, not all is for naught.  I have managed to average about 3.5 miles on a consistently daily schedule (minus some Saturdays and Sundays), and my plan is to try to get some evening walks in that would round out my walking mileage to an even 5 miles (more miles on my brand new shoes ... yay!).

I have been fighting sheer exhaustion which I feel fairly certain has more to do with the fact that I need to detox from sugar than actual physical tiredness.  So, I checked out a sugar addict book from the library.  It seemed relatively easy to read.  We shall see.

So, there you have it.  I am still fat.  Nothing much has changed in that department.  However, as some smart individual said a while back, "I don't feel like this has been a waste of time because if I hadn't been working on losing this weight, the time would still have passed."

My Brain

I've come to the conclusion that I am weird.

I write, and because of that, I have this weird, creative brain that doesn't work like everyone's.

It has taken me a while, but I am finally comfortable in my own skin, weird, creative, hard-wired for weirdness that it is.

If you can't deal with it, I really don't have the time or patience to help you along to the point that you can deal with it.

Sorry.  That's just how it is.

A few weeks back, my mom and I were chatting on the phone, and she was telling me about this individual that she works with that drives everyone around them CRAZY.  The capital emphasis was, indeed, on purpose.

However, she informed me, as soon as she realized that his brain, and I quote, "worked just like yours, I realized how I needed to interact with him."

Isn't that nice that she was able to figure out how his brain worked.  It's what we teachers are trained to do.  Figure out how kids' brains work, and then teach to those inner-workings. Some of us are better at it than others, but it doesn't necessarily take a Bachelor's and a Master's degree(s) to figure this out.

Sometimes, I think it just takes a keen observer.  Again, some of us are better at it than others.

My brain works differently than most.  I am not saying it works better or worse than others.  I am just saying it works differently.  And to try to describe that to someone is nigh unto impossible, for one because I cannot properly articulate it without coming off sounding insane or egoistical or both.

You see, my mother recognized that often, it appears as though, I've zoned out and tuned the speaker out when one is talking to me.  Nothing could be further from the point.  In fact, my brain, beyond processing what you are telling me, is jumping to new topics that relate and that challenge me and somehow the conversation you were having with me has triggered my brain to think about other things and chew on stuff and fire numerous times in a matter of minutes.

True, this can be extremely distracting, and often, it does appear as though I am distracted.  I might even reply as though I've not been listening, due to the distracted nature of my brain.

Despite what others might think, I have manage to over-compensate and manage life without drugs to mitigate the over-firing.  My mother has been one of the few that has managed to figure out a way to work through it without becoming accusatory or mean about.  She merely redirects my conversation/thoughts with a simple reminder question. Granted, sometimes that frustrates, but most of the time, I am able to jump back to the topic at hand and move on.

Nothing frustrates me more than an individual who automatically assumes my lack of reply or my "far away" look equates to boredom or lack of interest -- and so therefore decides they must do two things:

  1. Repeat themselves over and over again to make sure they've driven the point home -- which they have ... to the point of making the dead horse STINK.
  2. Accuse me of being uninterested and selfish -- you never let me finish!!!  You always interrupt me!!  You never truly listen ... why is it your eyes always glaze over when I am talking to you (another misinterpretation ... they don't glaze ... they go to the other place ... where my brain works to process or chew on something).
Nothing could be further from the point.

For the first time since ... well, ever, my mother put into words what I've been struggling with others with whom I communicate.   I feel validated ...

And just so you know, it's taken me at least an hour to write this little ditty due to the fact that my brain jumped over three or four significant subjects while I was thinking through my thoughts, leading me down numerous rabbit trails, which in my world, is always a fun, adventure.

Be prepared to embrace the differences.  That's all I'm saying ...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Driving Cattle and Other Things I Do on My Days Off

It all started innocently enough.  I was tooling down the back roads of Kentucky on my way to my writers group meeting.  It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, and I will be honest.  I was gawking at scenes like this one.

Or like these ... 

There was one particular creek that I was captivated by, and I really wished I'd gotten a photo of it.  But, see, here in Kentucky, things aren't like they are in other states. 

You know.  Straight roads.

Appropriate widths for road shoulders.

Or, if we want to be really picky, appropriate widths for roads, period.

A bridge can actually be nothing more than a beefed up wooden deal that is somehow fashioned on a curve.  Not even joking. 

Curved bridges!  I'd never laid eyes upon such architectural feats until I moved here.

Such was the case with the particular bridge I was crossing when I spied an amazing limestone falls where the creek was trickling down in sun-dappled brilliance.  It was breathtaking, and I slowed down to take it in.

Good thing I did.

As I looked up to continue to make the curve, I was face to face with a bull!

Again, I am not even joking. 

You think I am, don't you? 

I knew he was a bull because he had a ring in his nose -- who knew they still did that!? -- and he had big ... well ... he was a bull, and he was being accompanied by a rather confused female cow. 

I suppose they thought they were on a lovely Sunday afternoon stroll down the lane, just a boy and his gal, and dag gone it, if they weren't interrupted by this big, red truck. 

It was one of those surreal moments where I just sat in my truck in the middle of the road and thought, "I need to post this to Facebook, because no one is going to believe me!" 

I mean, isn't that what everyone does?

By the time I'd snapped this photo, he was sort of over me staring at him, and I suppose he told his gal, "Come on!  We're blowing this Popsicle stand!"  Because down the road they went ... at an ambling pace, mind you. 

Meanwhile, back at a ranch ... just up the road, stood a neighbor watching the whole thing transpire.  At this point, there were three motorcyclists behind me, and I knew that if this bull decided to charge (and he kept giving me sideways glances that were none to friendly, folks), I would have a better chance at surviving said charge than the poor Harley Dudes behind me. 

You know, it's funny what pops into a person's head when they are in the midst of a cattle crisis.  For instance, on this particular sunny afternoon, I was reminded of a story by friends that had, at one time, lived in Greeley, Colorado.  Apparently, up until recent history, cowboys drove cattle down the middle of town.  Just like that. During cattle driving season. 

Now, I am not well versed on when and if there is a cattle driving season here in Kentucky, but having also read a lot of The Pioneer Woman's blog, I had a pretty good idea of how I needed to get this bull to a spot where I, and the line of traffic now backing up behind me, could safely pass. 

So, I placed my pick up truck squarely in the middle of the road, and I drove that stubborn bull down the middle of the road to the drive that you see on his right.

Then I proceeded to call two friends and leave the following messages on both voice mails:  "Hey!  Just calling to chat.  Wanted to let you know that I just wrangled a bull.  Yeah, I'm good like that.  Just another day in the life down here in Kentucky. So call me sometime."

I was late to my writers group meeting, and as I am sure you would have been, I was both shocked and dismayed when everyone gave me The Look following my, "Hi!  Sorry I'm late.  I got caught wrangling a bull down on Devil's Hollow Road."