Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh...MY...GOD!!!!!

First off, I have had almost 4 glasses of wine as I write this.  Please forgive any typos that may be forthcoming.

Hubby, E and I made it through the two days with my parents (it would have been three but snow overtook us) and we headed to the middle of our state.  I had found this lovely cabin near our destination to stay in.  We had friends with family in this area come just to spend time with us.  The idea was our two families would meet at the cabin and have dinner.

We arrived exactly at 4:00 as the proprietors had requested to check in...only there were no proprietors.  We walked around the property for 20 minutes waiting for them to arrive.  Finally, after being visited by the mangiest collie I have ever laid eyes on, they arrived and I suddenly heard  banjos playing in the background.  The man was wearing his camouflage pants and orange hat, and the woman had bleached white hair and was missing her front tooth.  The woman apologized for being late, she said they had thought we were arriving tomorrow.  (I have the email that says otherwise.)  And she walked into her house to get some "towels" (they looked as bad as the collie) and led us down to the cabin.

I had looked over their website with a fine-tooth comb.  I was promised a fully stocked cabin with nice furnishings.  What they had in their pictures was not what they actually had!  She showed us upstairs and as I was looking at the bedspread from the 70's when I noticed something.  It was several small objects, oblong and brown.  IT WAS MOUSE DROPPINGS ON THE BED!  I immediately said I couldn't stay there and the woman tried to convince me it was bird droppings.  She tried to tell me that a former customer had left the door open and a bird had come in.  I KNOW BIRD DROPPINGS!!! THIS WAS MOUSE!!!  ON THE BED!!!  It doesn't really matter what it was, the cabin was a good old bait and switch and I was not spending my hard-earned money on it.

Needless to say I am typing this from a very nice Marriott and have had a very nice evening and feeling very tipsy.  Bird droppings my ass!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Gift to Myself

This year has been a rough Christmas for me.  I won't go into depressing details, but the Holiday Malaise hit me hard.  But therapy seems to be working and making me a stronger person willing to address my needs, so this year I gave myself the best gift ever.  I gave myself the gift of simplicity.

Hubby has three church members who have separate mysterious, undiagnosable and possibly terminal illnesses.  He has not been home much since the nearest big hospitals are an hour away in a different state.  He's been going back and forth to three different hospitals AND working extra hours to create a meaningful Advent season for the church.  As a result, the season preparations have fallen to me and E to do by ourselves.  Instead of going out and getting a large real tree for the living room we are never in (as we have done every year), we bought a smaller, skinny fake one that fits in our tiny family room.  I'm not normally a fan of fake, but it was so easy.  I still baked 6 dozen cookies, but instead of making them all from scratch, I bought the pre-cut refrigerator cookies AND I didn't bake anything else for the shut-ins.  Instead I took all of the sugary treats my preschool parents made me and split them up for Hubby to take and share.  That way they didn't destroy my diet and I didn't drive myself crazy by trying to add one more thing to my already packed schedule.

Instead of buying tons of presents for each other, we decided we wanted to spend our money on going away to a cabin in the middle of the state this week.  E still got a few gifts from Santa, but then we set a $15.00 limit per person.  I am so looking forward to getting away (as long as the hospital people stay out of ICU).   We are meeting some friends who have two daughters around E's age at the cabin and I am finally going to get to talk to a girlfriend.  Plus, the husband is one of Hubby's best friends and also a pastor, so you can imagine how much bitching is going to occur.

But the best gift I gave myself this year was refusing to allow my parents to come up for Christmas.  Unless snow prevents us from driving the 5 hours to their house, we are going to leave right after church tomorrow and go to our old town and spend a belated holiday with them. Which leaves just the three of us here spending quiet family time together.  I didn't realize just how much I struggle with people here at Christmas.  It doesn't matter if it is my parents or Hubby's, I become obsessive about creating the perfect Christmas for others and ruin my own.  I gave myself the gift of no criticism this year.  If I burn something, forget something, drop something, no one will care.  If I am tired and just want to watch TV with E, no one will complain.  I don't have to entertain, feed or worry over other people.  E and Hubby wouldn't care if we just had tv dinners for Christmas.  For the first Christmas in a long time, I can just breathe.

And lastly, (as weird as it  may sound) for the first time in 17 years I gave myself the gift of a sports injury.  Wednesday when I was doing a chest press on the Cybex machines, something in my chest popped and I had shooting pain.  I stopped that exercise and continued with my workout.  When I went back on Friday to do another weight workout I noticed a muscle in my chest was tender and swollen to the touch.  Not enough to prevent me from working out, but enough to make me realize just how far I have come this year.  I am damn proud of this muscle strain.  It's symbolic to me.  6 months ago I was terrified of my back going out, or my neck twitching and I couldn't lift a thing.  This Christmas I worked out so hard I popped something and went back for more.  I call that a win.

So while I may be struggling through Christmas this year, I think I have a lot to be proud of...and thankful for.  It's been a tough year, but I made it through.  And I made it through by becoming a stronger, better, healthier person.  Here's to 2011!

Merry Christmas...or as Charlitan says, Happy Holiday of your choice!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where I stand....

1. I think E has a crappy, burnt-out teacher this year.  The teacher is very nice, but completely disorganized and can't follow through with anything.  This is what I have observed with my own eyes.

2.  The parents her teacher is dealing with are the same parents I deal with at my theater.  They are a formidable group when they all get together.

3. These parents and the gifted teacher have a folder of studies that show gifted children thrive when placed in one single classroom instead of being mixed in with lower performing students and have used these studies to create an "elite" society, of which E is finally swimming on the edges of instead of being completely shunned.

4.  I think the showing of the movie was totally appropriate and generated the discussion for which it was meant.

5.  The troubled girl could not have been stopped from making her admission and yes, I know the admission to be true.  Her parents have been in jail for at least 2 years.  As for medication, I do believe that to be true but can't confirm it.

6. As for E, this girl's admission gave my child a great deal of relief.  E is smart and empathetic and totally gets the kids with issues.  Her best friend for the longest time was an almost non-verbal autistic child.  When E heard this girl's meanness was not a result of a fault of E's, but something unrelated, she felt better.  She felt that the things the girl had been saying about her were not true, just  a result of trouble at home.  And knowing the girl was on medication made E feel better as well.  I explained to E that just because this girl admitted all this, that still doesn't give her a right to be a bully, but E felt better just knowing that someone was trying to control this child.

7.  I believe the parents of the gifted children created this problem by constantly forcing the class selection for so many years.  Yes, gifted children may thrive when placed with similar children, but that is not the real world.  In the real world they must learn to adapt and help, not look down and intimidate.  I have a Montessori background and expect E to step up and help a child who may be struggling to read, or tutor an child in math.  But, I also expect her to receive that special attention that challenges her and makes school a fun place.  Neither is happening right now because the parents created a monster system...and in effect, a monster child.  I am not sure she would be so disruptive if she weren't in a classroom where EVERYONE was so much smarter than her.  If she was in a blended classroom, her self-esteem would not be suffering as much.  She'd still be a problem, but....

8.  I know this because the shoe was on the other foot last year.  E was tortured by her class mates because she was the smartest kid in the class, in a class of the lowest performing children.  She had one friend and that was it.  Only she didn't act out, she retreated, but it is the same concept.

9.  I know that many parents are in an uproar about this movie and girl's admission and I am being asked to join the crows and complain, only it is the one thing this year that I agree with.  Do I maintain my silence, join the group and try to use this to force the teacher out because of her other flaws?  Or do I stand up against the crowd and speak my peace, dooming myself and E to be outcast yet again just when she is finding her place amongst her peers?

I wish there was an American Girl movie for adults in this situation.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where do you stand?

Here's the story but I am not going to say which side I fall on.  I will when all the verdicts are in.

My daughter is in the gifted program at school.  There are 350 fourth graders of which 22 are in this program.  Over the years the parents of gifted students and the gifted teacher here have banded together to keep these students in the same class.  In fact, most of them started together in the same preschool I teach at now.

Last year things hit a boiling point, however, and the closeness became a problem when Mean Girl Syndrome hit.  Some of the gifted girls started bullying each other and were understandably miserable.  Last year, when this was all going on, E was not a part of this.  Even though I had written on her entry forms that she was in the gifted program, somehow her records never made it to the new school.  She attended the gifted program but was not truly considered "part" of the program.  Her class last year held 16 of the lowest performing students in third grade and 3 students similar to E who had also not been earmarked yet.  Her teacher, however, was exceptional and although E struggled with having no friends, her teacher more than made up for that.

This year is different.  E's fourth grade teacher is brand new to this school.  She is an older woman who has taught for many years but is currently in school to receive her masters.  She is absent at least 2 of every 10 days.  Since she is new and the gifted kid's parents complained about last year, the gifted kids were split up into two classes, one being hers.  Essentially she was given this gift of 11 high performing, love learning kind of kids, but she also got 3 on-level kids and 3 of the worst discipline problem kids.  This has created a situation.

The 3 discipline problem kids have been allowed to take over the classroom and create an environment almost impossible to learn in.  Several parents have talked to the teacher. The teacher's response was to say she would never allow HER children to attend this school and she's never even heard of kids as bad as the kids she is dealing with.  This prompted the parents to go to the principal who has made several visits to the classroom.

So here is what I would like your opinion on:

Bullying is a problem in this classroom.  The teacher showed "Chrissa Stands Strong" to the students, an American Girl movie on bullying.  After the showing, the girl in the classroom who is the most disruptive to the class stood up and told the whole class that her parents were both drug dealers and are now in jail so she lives with her grandmother.  She then went on to tell the class that she had to take a pill everyday to help her control her anger.

Question:  Was it appropriate to show this film and allow this child to make this admission? 

Feel free to answer however you would like.  I know exactly where I fall on this issue, I would just like to know how you feel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brain-Dead Me

E  likes to make presents for the family for Christmas, so we bought a fizzy bath salt-making kit.  You mix two ingredients together with some water and place the batter in a mold to dry.  It seems pretty easy, doesn't it?

We had placed the molds on a cookie sheet and left them on our table in the living room.  All evening the Raptor kept barking at the table.  I had left two Christmas gift bags on the table to take to work in the  morning, so I just assumed he was barking at the bags.  He does that occasionally, barks at indiscriminate objects.  Although he is much better than he used to be.  But I digress...

Well E and I must have gotten the amount of water wrong.  It turns out the fizzy bath salts weren't exactly hardening, they were fizzing.  They fizzed right out of the mold, off of the cookie sheet and onto the 60 year old table.  Raptor must have heard the fizzing and thought there was a snake on the table.  He is a terrier after all, aren't they small snake and rodent hunters?

Anywho, our realtor called and said a family was coming to look at the house.  Our house was pretty clean, but I didn't want the family to come in and see hard pink goo on the table.  I tried to pick it off with my fingers-didn't work.  I got a knife and tried to scrape it off-didn't work.  I stared at this stuff and started to panic...after all, the table is an antique and it doesn't belong to me, it belongs to the church.  Had I just ruined it with fizzy bath salts?

Um...but then I thought about what it was.  It was fizzy BATH salts.  The word bath must imply that it dissolves in water.  DUH!!!  I got a wet paper towel and the problem was dis-solved (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in seconds.  I'm such an idiot!  But in my defense, I have a nasty cold and blame the snot.

Oh...and for the third time in two weeks, the realtor never showed up and never called us to let us know she wasn't showing up.  All the while the raptor and I walked around outside in 20 degree weather so we wouldn't be in anyone's way.

Maybe I need to take a nice warm, fizzy bath.

And a shot of whiskey with some rock candy.

And Nyquil....lots of Nyquil.  (I've never taken it before, does it work?)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Actual Conversation I Had Today

A woman I work with at the preschool is a Pentecostal.  She's very nice, but....according to her all Catholic people are going to hell and if you are not from the South you aren't worth spit.  This same woman just returned from a trip to Israel.  I kid you not, I worried just a little bit that I would hear about some international incident taking place and I would know whom to blame.

She returned to work today and I asked her how she enjoyed her trip.  She found it very fulfilling to walk where Jesus walked, but didn't like the food.  According to her it was all "fruits and vegetables, nothing but fruits and vegetables.  And for dinner they would bring you a salad with this dressing made from oil.  Then they would bring you a bowl of rice, no sauce, no gravy, no nothing.  I would sit there with this bowl of rice getting cold until they served the chicken.  And it wasn't fried either.  It was just plain grilled chicken that I had to mix with my plain cold rice just to give it some taste.  I couldn't even drink anything because they wouldn't give me any ice!  Even their desserts weren't sweet, just flaky.  I ate a lot of fries, just fries."

And after this conversation I had two thoughts in my head: No wonder America is the fattest nation in the world and no wonder most other countries hate us.  This woman just couldn't grasp that water is a fast disappearing commodity that some all countries need to conserve.  And that most people don't have the luxury of using precious things like flour and grease to make artery clogging gravy instead of stomach filling bread.

After our conversation we went to a gathering our school was having wherein every family brought a dozen cookies.  Two tables worth of cookies.  The irony was  not lost on me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You put your right hand in....

I am a very active teacher with my two year olds.  I believe that they need to have "adult-free" playtime, but I also believe some guided playtime is extremely important.  Usually at the the end of their day we do yoga together.  Let me tell you, two year olds love "oga."  But sometimes I succumb and do normal things, such as sing the itsy bitsy spider song (which truly makes me want to poke my own eye out.)

I also refuse to wear expensive clothes to my class.  More often than not, my clothes attract hands with yellow paint all over them, or lovely green snot rockets (yes, I had to go there), and occasionally even the wet bottom where the diaper leaked.  It's just not worth it to wear anything fancy or not wash and wear.

So the other day I was wearing a pair of knit khaki colored capris that have become well-worn and a little too big.  As I was leading the kids in the hokey pokey I noticed all of them were holding their pant legs just above their knees.  It was the weirdest thing.  Why, I wondered,  would they be holding their pants?  But just then, as I went to put my left foot in, I discovered that I was holding my over-sized pant leg up...just above my knee. The kids were only imitating what they were seeing.

So know my husband calls those particular pants my "hokey pokey" pants.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Trying to Sum it all up

Something you have to understand about me for this all to make sense it that although I used to be very good at making everyone think I was their friend, I only ever have a few close friends.  In real, non-internet life, I hide behind this great facade that only a few people are ever allowed to see through.  Hubby, Jenn, Charlitan, Assasin and Stormy...these are the only people who can truly say they know the real me.  Except those who read my blog, you all know me pretty well I'd say.  Christi knew me, but she died (I still have to tell the story of seeing her daughter and son two weeks ago the day after seeing Schroeder.)  Schroeder knew me then and knows me now because of my blog, but that scared me.  Who would he think I was?  Who would I feel like I have to be?

After the show we met in the lobby.  So many years had passed and he gave off the exact same energy that he did back then.  I was taken aback.  Here I was wound up tighter than a roasting turkey and he was as laid back and calm as ever.  He looked mostly the same, dressed a little more freely and still had that artistic demeanor that made me question my own skill.  Seriously, when you are truly in the presence of a creative genius, you know it, whether they know they are emitting some strange signal or not.  We drove back to the hotel and he filled me in on his life.  He's had some issues that come along with being so intensely talented and yet not fit for the business world and he's struggled to find his way as well.  The description "tortured artist" fits him somewhat, although he tries his best to move his life forward.  He had some health issues that plagued him for years and caused him to question everything about himself but is now receiving treatment that opened up the world to him.  For so long he had been traveling through a tunnel that just seemed to be so small and confining, but now he could see the outside world, even if he's not quite there yet. 

We got a bottle of wine and split it in the hotel, talking about the theater and where we had been in our lives.  The wine helped me relax, but I had fallen into my old trap of deflection and bringing the conversation back to the other person.  He tried hard to talk to the real me, bringing up things he had read in my blog, talking about whether or not I missed the stage, talking about my working out.  But I couldn't do it.  I always circled back to him.  The pieces of me were just too loosely bound together and I couldn't stop protecting myself.

We finished our wine and he went back to his own room about 1:30 AM.  I thanked him for the invite and fell asleep, waking to get back on the road by 8:00 AM.  The reunion was over but I spent the next 4 hours driving, rehashing why I couldn't let myself go and just share the friendship we used to share.  Here I am in CountryTime without even a friend to spend Thanksgiving with and there he was, offering to be not only my friend, but a true "knew you when you made stupid mistakes and still loved you" friend.

So I talked to my therapist about it.  She thinks that I have had to start my life over so many times, losing everything and starting from scratch, that I struggle when faced with a loose end.  I don't want to call Schroeder a loose end.  He's not.  But he represents the theater company that I ran screaming from into the darkness.  He was one of the pieces of the puzzle that was in place when I dropped out of the theater world and lost my artistic self.   He was a man in my young life who had steadfastly held me up as every single other man in my life at that time came out of the closet (oh, the irony now, eh Schroeder).   Merely seeing him again threw open the door to all that pain that I had shoved down and refused to acknowledge.  And even though he was offering me a balm to soothe my pain, I couldn't accept it because I have been too traumatized by CountryTime.  We met again at the wrong time in my life.

So there it is, the story, warts and all.  The funny thing is, I know as he reads this that he is the one person who will totally get what I am saying, even though it is about him, and he will love me for it anyway.  Because that's what friends do.  He will continue healing himself and I will let the glue dry and one day we will meet again in a hotel room while he is on the road and we will have the conversations we both longed to have but I couldn't allow.  So in the words of the great Sondheim:

Look at what you want,

Not at where you are,

Not at what you'll be.

Look at all the things you've done for me:

Opened up my eyes

Taught me how to see

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fragile

Wow, this is a harder story to finish than I thought.  Of course, I visited Schroeder a couple of weeks ago and can only now write about it, so you can guess how traumatic it actually was.  Okay...deep breath-es-es. 

So, Schroeder invited me to come see his show and stay the night at the hotel the cast was staying at.  The last time we saw each other I was a 133 pound, wild-maned, strong-willed 23 year-old girl.  At the time I was damaged but not yet broken.  He was 28, distant yet strong, and had so much talent.  He, too, was damaged but still pushing forward.

But here's the thing, time passed.  I got married, had one baby and lost two, had two really bad car accidents, gained lots of weight, left the theater world, lost that wildness and became broken.  The 23 year-old girl he knew had been replaced by a 40 year-old mom who had only just managed to glue her broken pieces back together. The glue wasn't even dry yet and here I was driving towards a man who could actively see just how far I had fallen.  I felt like I was risking being shattered again, not because of anything that he would do, but just because I was afraid to see the disappointment in his eyes at what I had become.

As I drove the longest, must desolate road in my state, I imagined the conversations we would have.  Of course he would want to talk about the theater company.  We were like hostages who had been freed, bonded together for life from our experiences there.  I knew he would want to relive those moments a little.  It is only natural to discuss shared bad memories.  Would I be strong enough to go back there? 

He reads my blog.  I knew he would want to talk about the paranormal stuff.  Everyone always does. It's one thing to write about it and tell the stories, it's another thing when someone actually confronts me in person.  Would I be ready to defend myself against disbelief when I wasn't even sure I believed  myself?

But the biggest thing that terrified me was the weight gain.  Would he accidentally say words that unknowingly hurt me?  I am so ashamed of the weight I have gained.  That more than anything else is the worst thing.  Here was this man who knew me....who really knew me back then.  Would he like the me that I became?  

So I braced myself and I arrived at the show with 5 minutes to spare.  I texted him that I was in my seat and he asked me where.  I told him and he said he would give me a "Carol Burnett" ear tug when he walked onstage.  He walked out, tugged on his ear and my heart just welled up with so many mixed emotions.  He sat down at the piano and began to play and I was suddenly hurtled backwards to my early 20's.  I watched his hands play the piano.  Those hands.  He could have been at a piano with fifty other men and I would recognize the way HE played the piano.  Those hands that used to play music for me.  I felt a huge, gaping hole rip open in my chest.  What had I done by coming here?

More tomorrow....(E and Hubby are both in Florida with his family so I will have time to write,  RV, I won't leave you hanging.)

We interrupt our story

Someone drove into our church today.  Actually DROVE into the building.  No one was injured but the fire department had to come out.  They checked things out and left until about an hour later a man who was cooking a turkey in the oven caused a fire and the fire alarm went off.  Apparently firemen were laughing as they left the church for the second time today.

Hmmm...do you think karma can do its thing on buildings and not just people?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coming to the Light

I am often reluctant to talk about a certain time in my life because for those of you who know Columbus, you will be able to figure out quite easily what I am referring to.  But sometimes you have to come out of the darkness to put things behind you.

Before I met Hubby, when I was still young and wild, I was Lucy to a incredibly talented Schroeder. We acted together in a theater and more often than not, when I sang for the shows, he accompanied me.  We spent hours upon hours together, working out (which was required by our theater), rehearsing and just plain hanging out.  We could be found late at night at the German Village Max and Erma's or OSU's campus coffee place, Insomnia.  I was fascinated by his talent and his artistic...hmmm...how do I say this...aura?  No, that's not it....there was just something about him that was hard to fathom and I always wanted to break through into his musical world.  We were friends, but I always felt like he just allowed me to be in his presence.

When my brother died I received a small inheritance.  One day while I was sitting in my house with Schroeder (sorry, friend, but I couldn't call you any of the names you chose for yourself), I asked him if he wanted to go to the Grand Canyon.  It seems that he had always had the same great desire I had to see the Canyon and, amazingly enough, we had been granted a three day gift from our incredibly grueling rehearsal schedule.  I believe the theater's heater had caught on fire and had to be fixed, leaving the space unusable until it was repaired.  When he said yes, I got on the phone and booked us tickets to the GC and we were off.  To this day, I hold on to that trip like a precious jewel.  There was at least one time in my life when I was irresponsible and spontaneous.

Shortly after we returned from the Canyon, I started to sour on the theater company.  The man in charge was a megalomaniac who tortured young actors for fun.  We worked long hours for slave wages and there was a strange, almost polygamous relationship occuring between several key members of the company.  The polygamy didn't bother me, the power struggles that resulted from that relationship did.   The other acting company members worshiped the founder and Schroeder and I started to feel like we were outsiders.  Schroeder left the company first and I soon followed.  I ultimately left because the founder was leading us in an acting exercise and at the end he announced that he "was our God."  That was it for me, I left the next day.

Schroeder and I lost touch for several years.  One day I Googled his name and found him working in San Francisco.  I emailed the company and promised them I wasn't a stalker, but could they please have him contact me?  They did and we reconnected and then lost touch again.  Another year or two passed and we reconnected.  Recently Schroeder, who is now touring with a national musical, came to my state.  Not my area, but 4 hours away which wasn't too far to drive.  He invited me out and I went to see him for the first time in 16 years  Neither one of us thought I would actually show up, but I did.

To be continued....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tiny bites

I am once again ridiculously overscheduled, so I only have time to write about one of the things I promised.  I'll tell you what happened to Hubby since it is the shortest.

Remember before Halloween when I mentioned my dog growled menacingly at some unseen thing in the dark down by the river?  The spot was a point within eyesight of the old hospital and on the grounds of an old river captain's house.  Hubby was walking the raptor at the same spot at almost the same time of evening.   It has a very dark turn at night, so Hubby had his flashlight on to allow cars that might be speeding around the bend to see him. Suddenly he heard heavy footsteps running up behind him.  Terrified he turned around to see nothing but dark night air.  But he felt something.  He said the footsteps brought with them a heavy, cold chill that passed through him.  The sound then turned up the lane to the old house and disappeared.  He was completely freaked out and still had some strange energy lingering on him when I saw him later on that evening.

I wish I could tell you where I live, because you would so totally get why things like that happen here.  My guess is it was some residual energy from a runaway slave or a hunting indian.  There was a large abolitionist movement in this area, as well as one of the largest runaway slave camps during the Civil War.  Not to mention indian artifacts are still regularly found here and some of our roads follow the old hunting paths.

I just thought that it was interesting that this all happened to Hubby without me being there.  Maybe I am rubbing off on him.  For as scared as he was by this, I'm betting he is hoping I didn't.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Not Sure How I Feel About This

Hubby and I have been passing like two ships in the night for weeks now.  We're also basically playing E tag, stopping at prearranged locations to switch parental duties since we are never together as a family.  So Monday we scheduled a lunch date, just the two of us.

Normally when we go out on a date, we get the heck out of CountryTime because everywhere we go we run into church members.  Alas, Monday we did not have that much time and had to go to a lovely downtown location.  We were sat at a table very near the entrance and ordered an appetizer of homemade guacamole and chips.  Our appetizer arrived and there we were, sitting and talking and snacking when of course, a church member walked in to the restaurant.

She came over to our table to chat for a moment and saw our chips.  Then, without warning, she reached into the chip bowl and grabbed a chip and helped herself.  I sat there stunned.  I barely know this woman, but Hubby knows her fairly well as her husband just recently died.  If one of my friends walked up to me in a restaurant and plucked food off my table, I would probably think nothing of it.  But this woman was a stranger to me and it just felt, well, rude.  Maybe I am just being overly sensitive since I am so sick of the people here, but....

I just keep thinking of the Friend's episode where Joey keeps yelling "Joey doesn't share food!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not Alone

I work with an older Pentecostal lady at the preschool.  I walked in today at 8:30 AM to hear her talking in a very loud voice to anyone who would listen. She said, and I quote (imagine a strident, hillbilly southern accent): "I'm afraid to go to the bathroom!  These kids keep telling me there's a man with a hat standing in that hallway but I can't see him.  You know who he is, don't you?  It's SA-TAN!  SA-TAN is waiting by that bathroom door!"

Yes, because SA-TAN is just lying in wait for the poor, innocent Pentecostal woman to poop!  I may not know who he is, but I know he's not SA-TAN!  I wanted to say something, but I kept my mouth shut.

Friday, October 29, 2010

DDS

I have this weird thing about dentists.  I have always taken extremely good care of my teeth because my dad always told me the story of national health care in England.  When he was a kid, the dentist had come to the school to work on the students' teeth.  My dad had to have a tooth removed, only they didn't give him enough anethesia and he woke up during the procedure. They couldn't give him any more anesthesia so he had to suffer through the removal without drugs.  Plus, he had a removable bridge that he would shove out with his tongue and terrify me.  I never wanted to be able to do that.

When I was a teenager I went to a very nice dentist in Worthington, OH.  Worthington was the hoity-toity sister of Columbus, straight up High Street but a totally different world.  It was a very old-money kind of place and I lived in a house on the corner of 161 on the last official block of "Old Worthington".  That meant something in that town at that time.  "Old Worthington" residents had to be rich (we weren't, of course, but my dad was a well-known scientist so it was okay).  Ted Sorenson's niece lived down the street from me (JFK's Speechwriter) and the busiest Dairy Queen in America served blizzards to all of the teenagers who snuck out of the high school at lunch time.  The kids were all sons and daughter's of CEO's and corporate big-wigs who partied hard and drank to get drunk.  Alcoholism ran rampant among my class because liquor was just so damned accessible.  Ma and Pa Richie Rich would never think of locking their liquor cabinets.  The little Lords and Ladies would never, ever drink, would they?

But I digress, I am talking about my dentist.  Anywho, the dentist office was just up the street from the town square.  Not quite in "Old Worthington" but still in its protective shield where "nothing bad could ever happen here (at least not that you would know)" and the man was quite nice.  One day I had an appointment for a regular cleaning and as I sat in the chair singing through a musical number in my head, I was very surprised to see the most gorgeous man EVER enter the room. My jaw actually dropped open and I started to stutter.  The doctor introduced himself as the new partner in the practice and asked if it would be okay if he took my appointment today.  I was really uncomfortable with this incredibly sexy man being so close to me, but what was I supposed to say, "Um...you're just too damn hot to have your hands in my mouth?"  So I agreed and he was very professional and thorough.   But I left wondering what happened to my old dentist.

Later that week the story broke that my dentist (the original one, not the hottie) was in jail awaiting sentencing.  It seems that he had agreed to do some cosmetic dental surgery on his mistress.  Only his mistress was cheating on him and he had found out about it.  So, when he had her under anethesia, he maimed her in such a way that she was left with permanent nerve damage in her face.  Worthington was stunned.  It was so inappropriate to air your dirty laundry in such a fashion.

But it has left me with this odd, lingering fear of getting dental work done.  The one time I have ever had to have a cavity filled the dentist had to give me two stress balls to hold because the sound of the drill made me shrivel and writhe nervously.  Last week I had an appointment for my regular cleaning.  The dental hygenist was friendly and chatted while she worked.  But in the 30 minutes that she worked on my teeth, she never told me there had been a change in the dental practice.  She rang for the dentist and instead of my normal dentist there was a new man, not a hottie, but the change made me wary.  Then he discovered that the one cavity that I had had sealed was leaking and I would need to have it fixed.  I was stunned and nervous and felt my blood pressure rising.  Suddenly, out of my mouth popped, "I'll need some squishy balls."  And I started squeezing my hands open and shut rapidly to show him.  I don't know why.

The dentist's eyes got very large as he warily watched my hands do their squishy ball dance and he said, "Excuse me?"

"Squishy balls...I need them for the procedure to squeeze.  They keep me calm." I responded, still pumping my hands just in case the term squishy balls didn't cue him to my impending sense of doom.

"STRESS balls,"  the hygenist blurted out, "she means STRESS balls."

The dentist told her to schedule the appointment and left the room.  But, amazingly enough, when I went in for the procedure, I had my old dentist back.  I guess the new one felt the need to protect...something.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Enough?

In the past 48 hours two teenagers in our community have died.  One, a girl, passed away from a disease that had slowly been torturing her for years.  The other, a boy, died while driving his muscle car that he had no idea how to handle.  I did not know either one of these children, but I teach children their age.

My teenage theater kids came to class today saddened and shocked.  They all knew or knew of these kids but none were really friends with them.  And yet, they came to class needing to talk, to understand, to be heard.  They didn't get why they felt the way they did and yet I knew that I wasn't supposed to answer them,  I was just supposed to let them tell their story.

But what I wanted to say was:  you feel this way because when you are a teenager, your social web connects you to your entire world.  When one point on that web dies, your web weakens and skews until another person comes along to shore it up.  You feel this way because you were suddenly slapped in the face with the fact that teenagers are not immortal.  You can fall and get hurt.  Your body can betray you.  You can drive too fast or veer off course.  You feel this way because you are young and dramatic and full of life and when a  young life is snuffed out suddenly, your light dims in acknowledgement.

I wanted to say all of those things, but I was the adult in the room.  I was the sounding board, the anchor.  My job was to just be.  But today of all days I pray that the me who I am was enough.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's the Little Things

I have had a heck of a 2 weeks.  I have doubled my hours at the theater and also have taken on two more days a week at the preschool since another teacher's assistant quit.  I was in my new class for the past two days and getting to know a new batch of kids.

At dismissal today one little boy was left.  He has an older sister who gets dismissed a little later, so his mom picks him up with her.  While we were waiting he sat on my lap telling me all about his big brother who had gotten mad at him this morning, and how he believed there was a monster under his bed, how he was dressing up as Batman for Halloween and on and on he chattered.

His mom came in, saw him talking to me on my lap and her jaw dropped open.  Then she got tears in her eyes.  I became a little afraid thinking I had done something horribly wrong.   Maybe he wasn't supposed to be on my lap?  I looked up and asked her if she was okay.  She stuttered a little bit and said, "He doesn't talk."  Huh? "He doesn't say more than a word or two at a time."  Apparently he has sensory integration disorder (possibly more) and has never talked to anyone but his mom and dad, but there he was sitting on my lap and talking to me.

After being made to feel like such an ogre this past week over jazz pants and wedding faux pas' and church things, to have that one moment where a child chose to trust me and share with me just made the whole negative energy of this week just wash away.  For one short moment I was special in the eyes of a 2 year-old child.  Who could ask for anything more?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Living in a Southern Gothic Novel

I really think I should change the name of my blog.  Things here are so strange that I feel like I am living in some sort of alternate universe most days.

Last night at the grocery store I ran into the "anonymous former church member" who called me a radical liberal.  She actually turned on her heels and pushed her cart away from me as fast as she could to avoid me.  I must have leftist cooties or something.

Then I ran into another church member who proceeded to go through the things in my buggy one by one, actually touching them and moving them to get a better view of everything I was buying.  I had snacks and drinks for our children's church group that meets today and she thought they were for me.  She said, "Aha, I knew you didn't only eat healthy stuff!"  It was almost an insult, like I wasn't allowed to be human and eat junk food once in a while.  The weirder thing was that I just let her go through my cart because it actually amused me and I knew it would give me blog fodder.  I just wish Hubby and I still used condoms and I had a great big pack of them AND some sort of "just for her" vaginal lubricant!

But the last thing is the saddest thing and makes me feel most like I am living in a novel.  The woman who stalks my theater partner, the 80+ woman who goes everywhere she knows he is going to be and just hovers in his personal space....well I found out that the reason she is the way she is is because when she was in her twenties she was violently and brutally raped.  It's the secret everyone knows but doesn't talk about.  But no one tries to help her either, its the great shame of the elite around here.  (Oh, did I mention she is a millionaire?)

I just keep shaking my head as this place gets weirder and weirder.

PS:  I have a few kids in my preschool class that have the strange body shape I told you about so I am going to try to take pictures to post (without faces, of course) so you'll believe I am not making this up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

To top it all off

A parent interrupted my theater class today to yell at me because I dared to enforce the consequence written into the contract for the program for not adhering to the dress code.  She said, and I quote, "I pay too much damn money for my child to just observe a class because she's not wearing black jazz pants!"

Now tell me, we have had 4 weeks of classes.  Every week I have asked these children to please wear black jazz pants.  They knew it was the rule before our session even started.  By signing the contract AND the separate incidental form stating they had specifically read the point about the dress code, they agreed to abide by our rules.  It's not fair to the kids who do follow the rules to have to watch the other kids NOT follow the rules.  But you go right ahead and yell at me, giving your child yet an even greater sense of entitlement.  My daughter will be their lawyer when they go to jail in their 30's.

Damn I hate this town.

Everybody Sing

Hands, Foot and Mouth Disease
(mouth disease)
Hands, Foot and Mouth Disease
(mouth disease)
I've been exposed to HFMD,
Hands, Foot and Mouth Disease
(mouth disease)

One of my three-year olds went home Wednesday and came down with blisters on her body which was then diagnosed as HFMD.  She did not return to school and Saturday night I started to feel kind of icky.  Malaise, sore throat, very swollen gland in my neck.  Could it be that I too have HFMD-adult style?

But alas, that is not what I want to post about.  I want to post about "Why I do not attend weddings where Hubby officiates" anymore.  Hubby believes that performing weddings, whether or not the bride and/or groom are members of his church, is important.  More than one couple he has married have gone on to join a church and they all credit him.

Of course, unless the person is a member of his church, there is a fee for his service.  Most people think that a pastor should just do weddings for free.  But think about it.  Hubby refuses to marry a couple unless they first take premarital counseling from him or someone he approves (4 hours).  Then he has to meet with the couple to discuss the service (1 hour), write a small wedding sermon (2 hours), attend the rehearsal (usually 2 hours) and the wedding (2 hours) All in all he spends about 11 hours on a wedding and if the couple are not members of his church, that 11 hours is on top of his normal 50 hours work week.  He deserves to be paid.  If the couple doesn't want to pay, they should just get one of their friends to get ordained online.  But most people don't want that.  They really want to be married in the eyes of God.

Hubby (and family) is almost always invited to the reception.  It's just common courtesy.  I attended the first several weddings after Hubby was ordained.  Nothing good ever happened when I did.  Either we would be sat with completely deaf Grandma Lou who smelled like tea-tree oil and ben-gay, or we would be sat with the most obnoxious couple who no one else wanted to sit with.  Once, we discovered that even though our daughter had been specifically invited on the invitation and we had RSVP'd  for three, there was no chair for her.  And when we sat down at the table, several of the people very loudly proclaimed that "there goes our being able to drink"  and "I can't believe they brought their child" to which someone responded "They're just after the free food."

So eventually I just refused to go anymore. Why put myself up to ridicule?  But this past weekend, a woman who attends our church but is not a member asked Hubby to officiate at her mom's wedding.  Her mom is a member of another local church (different denomination) but her pastor was not available on her date.  Hubby agreed and told her up-front his fee, to which she said, "Sounds reasonable."  Hubby met with the mom and told mom and groom that he would need his fee two weeks ahead of time.  No problem, they said.  Two weeks prior came and went. No check.  He took them aside at the rehearsal and they said they had "forgotten" but would give it to him before the ceremony.  Ten minutes prior to the ceremony, still no money.  Hubby had to make a choice.  Walk out and have his reputation ruined, or perform the ceremony.  He went ahead with it, but I told the daughter of the bride that Hubby had not been paid.

We went to the reception which was on a marina deck of a restaurant.  Tables were set up everywhere but by the time we got there, most of them were full.  There were two tables which had 8 chairs, of which 6 at each table were available.  I went to sit down at one, and the woman sitting at the first table told me that we couldn't sit there because they were saved seats.  Um...okay, how high school, but I moved.  So I went to the second table with the last 6 available seats.  As I started to sit down, the woman there actually threw her arm in front of me and said "You can't sit there.  There's no room at this table," in this sneering tone.  There had to be room at one of the tables because there were supposed to be enough seats for every guest.  Stunned by the tone, I walked back to the daughter of the bride and told her no one would let us sit down.  She was pissed off that everyone was being so rude.  She asked the serving staff to get another table for us.  They got one and started setting it up in the shaded area.  As I went to sit down, this teen-age boy started telling me I couldn't sit there.  The chairs were still being placed and the table had been put out for us, but I couldn't sit there.  His mom (who was already sitting at a table) was yelling across the deck at him to stop us and make sure we didn't sit there because they had already called that table.  "Called" that table?  Are you serious?  Hubby started to sit down and the woman actually screamed, "You can't sit there.  You don't deserve to sit there.  That's for real guests."

By then I was feeling sick from being in the direct sun with this swollen gland, I had been run-off from three tables and embarrassed a la Jerry Springer by some screaming meanie.  I took E, took Hubby's car keys, gave him my phone and left.  I told him to call me when he got his money.  He finally called me 90 minutes later.  The couple paid him in cash.  I almost wonder if they took the money off the money tree to give him because they really didn't think he would force the issue. 

So anyway, I am back to my rule of not attending the receptions.  They are just not worth it. Yet another stellar example of the hospitality to be found in CountryTime.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Don't read this if you get skeevy about pastors having sex....

I haven't posted because my life went from 30mph to 180mph in 3 days flat.  That and my parents are here, so I have to sneak peeks at my blog.  Also, I am the type of person who can't write anything if something else is stuck in my head and insisting on coming out.  Something happened the other day that I have to share but I have been too embarrassed to.  But I figure this has happened to other people, so....

Something happened to me after my post in which I railed against the non-radical liberals.  It was almost as if that labeling and anonymous email set me free.  Before, I think I might have held out some sliver of hope that I could make this life work.  I love all of my kids, both preschool and theater.  My theater, in fact, was just recognized by the state arts council as being the premiere new program for kids.  I'm working my ass off for little pay, but I love what I am doing.  I just hate the church and my lack of friends.

But that condemning email just struck home that my family does not belong here.  And finally admitting failure at being able to bloom where I am planted cleared the board for me to be able to realize something else about myself.  These past two weeks I have been more "ME" then I have been in years.  I have joked with strangers, I have laughed with my kids, I have stopped holding on to all my anger and anxiety at this situation that we are in.  I even realized I no longer sit there and tell myself I am not qualified to be directing shows and teaching kids.  The State Arts Council says I am.  Having a kid on Disney's short list says I am.  Even all my former 4-6th graders who are now in college and getting cast in their college plays as freshman say I am.  All four who have pursued theater have emailed me and told me what I taught them has made all the difference.

I don't know if it is the therapy, or the working out, or just turning 40 finally (it hung over me so long), but I am feeling...normal...calm...qualified.  So with this newfound me-ness, I wanted to do something a little different.  For many years I have struggled with the fact that I am no longer sexy, or sexual really.  It's hard to feel sexual when you don't like yourself.  That's the hardest thing about getting older to me.  Men don't notice me.  And sometimes I transfer that feeling onto Hubby and I imagine having sex with me is a little like having sex with a stifled school marm sometimes.

So one night after he had fallen asleep and it was past midnight, I woke him up for a little midnight nookie.  I think men find being woken up sexy and I wanted to try it.  We started....um....nookifying and I got into it and tried not to, how should I say it, censor myself.  Aw, hell....I got a little loud.  Apparently so loud I woke E up.  She called my name and of course, I had to stop and go to her because it seemed that my "sounds" had scared her.  I told her I had just had a bad dream and that she should go back to sleep.  I was mortified and it was made worse by the fact that for the first time in a long time I had tried to be sexy and I was denied.  Obviously the Universe doesn't think I should be wild and amorous anymore.

But this whole situation was made worse by my conversation with E in the morning as I was walking her to school.  She's 8.  She's starting to hear about sex through her friends but she is still very innocent.  She had questions.  "Mommy, are you sure you just had a nightmare?  It sounded like you were exercising."  And then she started to imitate the sounds I had been making.  I NEVER EVER AGAIN WANT TO HEAR MY CHILD MAKING THOSE SOUNDS!!!!  And I am never having sex again.  I will just go back to my school marm status and Hubby can find a little piece on the side.

Good lord, I can't believe I am actually posting this.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Words I Never Thought I Would Hear Hubby Say

After E turns in for the night, Hubby, the Raptor and I curl up in our bed and watch TV.  The raptor sleeps in his cage at night but is allowed to be with us until about 11:00 when we go to sleep.  As a result of being in our room, we occasionally eat in bed.

The other day Hubby's parents sent him a recipe for a Nasty-Assed pie that he wanted to try.  It was low fat and low sugar and very Southern.  Being the good wife, and since it only took 5 minutes, I agreed.  He got home late from a meeting, sliced himself a large piece and came to join me in bed.

Unfortunately, his coming to bed offset the dog's snuggly position next to me and the dog had to readjust his position.  As dogs do, the Raptor started circling into the pile of blankets.  Hubby, being the slow-reflexed man that he is, didn't notice the Raptor backing up to pull a cover.  Suddenly the dog was sitting IN the food.  Hubby jumped up swearing at the butt impression left on his slice of Nasty Ass pie.

I heard him swearing all the way to the kitchen as he got himself another slice.  Upon his return, he sternly looked at the dog and said, "Keep your ass out of my pie, dog!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FINALLY!!!

Someone called me a name I can claim!

Hubby preached a very unpopular sermon this weekend.  It was about voting and how Christians should cast their vote for the greater good of other citizens, not just for the greater good of ourselves.  Sometime during the sermon, he perchance had the occasion to mention Obama.  He was stating that we needed to pray for our leaders, whomever they are, and not spread malicious, non-factual gossip about them.  What he actually said was, "Obama is NOT a muslim." But that's not what people heard, or cared to hear.   Holy hellfire and damnation, strike up them Templar Knights and get that pastor the hell out of the pulpit!  (I don't actually know what a Templar Knight is, but it has come up in the conversation recently and I really wanted to use it.)

Today Hubby awoke to get an email from a church member who wanted to give him a head's up about another email that was being circulated by an "anonymous" former member.  The former member has left our church because ever since Hubby came the church has become all about "radical politics."  I kid you not, they said that.  Apparently some miscommunication occured and a big newspaper stated that our denomination is a sponsor (which it is not) of the upcoming leftist rally, which is also apparently being sponsored by a communist party.  So, of course, since he is a leader of a church of this denomination, not only are we "liberal radicals"  but we're no-good leftist COMMUNISTS!

HELL YA I AM A RADICAL LIBERAL!  Okay, maybe I am not radical, but I am liberal and if Anonymous thinks they insulted us by calling us that, then they are sorely mistaken.  First, the person should have had the guts to consult Hubby himself and not just lob insults at him from behind the keyboard.  But secondly, Hubby's beliefs towards government and any "ist" society comes straight from the Bible.  My beliefs come straight from the fact that I try to be a caring person.

So Anonymous Church Member, if believing gay people need equal rights not because they are gay, but because they are people makes me a radical...AMEN!

And if believing that abortion is a necessary evil because not everyone is equipped to be a parent and I am not willing to take in every unwanted child makes me a radical.... AMEN!

And if believing that there should be some gateway medical care for every single American at low or no-cost makes me a radical....AMEN!

And if not caring if Obama is a Christian or a Muslim because this country is supposedly about religious freedom makes me a radical...AMEN!

And if supporting public schools and teachers even when I know they are flawed and don't allow God in school makes me a radical...AMEN!

And if being willing to pay more taxes so rural communities have access to paid firefighters and adequate sheriffs makes me a radical...AMEN!

And if thinking God Bless America is the most conceited, self-centered and insulting song of all time makes me a radical...AMEN!

But lastly, if my belief that those who disagree with me and hold "right-wing" views can still be good people, and yes, even friends (Assassin) makes me a radical...then I will proudly carry that flag and hold it high.  Because I am not ashamed of who I am or what I believe and if you ever came out from behind the Anonymous shield,  I would tell you so...to your face....with dignity.  Because I believe in liberty and justice for all, damnit!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Post Just for Jenn

Jenn is my best friend from way back in 6th grade.  We have a lot of history between us, so I hope you will excuse me if I write just a brief snippet of a post for her today.  I doubt anyone else will get it but it will make me happy and I need some "me happy" right now.

Okay, so Jenn, I have some Paul Young songs loaded on my MP3 player for working out.  Tear Your Playhouse Down came on.  It has that part, you remember, don't you?  If you don't, you need to listen to it.  Turned me back into a 14 year old for just a short moment.

Paul Young sweated on us...he really did!  OMG!!

Okay, that is all from Angsty Teenage Muddy .  Tomorrow I will return to bitter, acerbic and old Muddy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dear Internet Friends

I need your help.

I have been working out like a fiend for the past three months.  I do a full weight circuit 3 times a week and 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week.  I have been eating between 1600-1800 calories a day.  A while back I lost 7 pounds, but my inurance started to refuse to pay for my blood pressure meds.  The meds I switched to not only don't work, they caused me to gain the 7 pounds back in water weight.  Essentially I have been doing everything right and nothing has happened. (I am changing back to my old meds but I have to wait for the mail order system.)

I went to my doctor for my physical on Thursday and she told me she could tell I am taking care of myself by my blood test results.  In the past everything had been in the normal range, but just barely.  Now I am in the really good normal range.  My thyroid is fine so that is not the reason I am not losing weight.  My doctor told me that this is why people with PCOS stay overweight.  They do everything right and nothing happens for the first three months and they give up.  She told me to wait 6 months and I would see results.  She also told me to look for the muscle gain.  Even if the fat is going nowhere, if I feel the muscles it is working.  And I do feel the muscles, but I don't look different.

Lastly she told me to cut back to 1500 calories a day.  I know that is only 200-300 calories but it feels insurmountable right now.  With all the stress in my life and my lack of time (partially brought on by all the working out I am doing) I want to cry everytime I think about it.  Plus, Hubby hasn't been home at all the past 2 weeks due to church reponsibilities and I am really lonely here in CountryTime.  It's hard to make good choices right now, especially because stress triggers my need to eat.

So here is my request:  send me your favorite low-cal snack ideas (something more than cottage cheese with fruit), send me your favorite 3-400 calorie meal ideas, send me your favorite healthy frozen meal suggestion.  Please just give me some options because I am really tired of eating and dieting and working out and I need some help staying on track.

Thanks.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We'll Return to CountryTime Tales Briefly

My husband met with his boss yesterday to discuss moving.  His boss' response:  buy a foreclosed house and flip it (In this market, in this small town) or find another way to support yourself and don't rely on the church to provide for you.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  He works 50 hours a week.  I work two jobs.  We both volunteer.  GET ANOTHER JOB?  RENOVATE A HOUSE?


AARRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bombs, Planes and Licensed to Kill

I should have known something was up around here when I was still living in our old house and looking for jobs.  Remember this post?  About two months after we moved I started to hear what sounded like bombs and mortar attacks.  I know it sounds weird but I really didn't think anything about it because the area where we used to live had a geographic phenomenon that occured when two tectonic plates rubbed together in the ocean.  It sounds like a battle.  But one day when I mentioned it to a church member, she said, "Oh, that's just CIA Point."  When I asked her about it she told me that about 10 miles away there was a topsecret CIA training ground.  Everyone around here knows its there, but nobody talks about it.

This started to make some things very clear.  We have several church members who work for this location.   They never tell anyone exactly what they do, but every person thinks they do something else.  For example, one day I asked Matt what he did.  He told me that he works in sales.  He told Hubby that he trains people in Afghanistan and he told yet another person that he was an EMT.  Which is it?

The people who took us out Saturday night are friends with several people who work there.  Apparently all of the employees have to take lie detector tests once a month.  I even had a three-year old student whose dad works there.  The student started telling me things about his dad and I insisted he stop.  They were things I didn't want to know!  Not only that, I was afraid what would happen to me if the guy thought his son talked to me about anything important.  HE DIDN'T I SWEAR!  But this place is that scary.

We have weird planes fly overhead.  They are always solid black.  I am no stranger to military aircraft because of my dad, but some of these things look like UFO's.  And sometimes, late at night, something flies over that shakes the house and sounds as if it is just 10 feet above us.  There are no airports within 90 minutes of me.  We shouldn't have anything flying that close to us.

But the weirdest (and possibly scariest) thing of all is the dead birds.  Several times a year for a few days at a time, you will suddenly encounter dead birds everywhere.  It's as if a poison has been released or some sort of ultra-sonic wave is being tested.  When I asked other people if they had noticed how many dead birds we have around they all kind of shushed me and denied it.  I can't help but think it is related to the base.

Where else but CountryTime could you have a supersecret CIA base?  I even looked it up online and there's no mention of it.  You can see it on Google Earth, but other than that, it doesn't exist.  Just another strange secret kept by this odd town.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Where to Start....

Okay, there is so much to tell about Country Time that I think I will start with some geography.  Country Time is in a little, isolated pocket of the US.  The nearest interstate is about an hour away and the state highway that runs through here is nothing but farms, swampland and canals for the 30 minutes or so it takes to get to the nearest town.  It was settled prior to the Revolutionary War and I would say about 45% of the families here trace their routes back that far.  We are the last "big" city (I'm using that word sarcastically) before you hit the barrier islands.

There is a dialect here that is found nowhere else in the US.  The closer to the barrier islands you go, the stronger it gets.  I have lived in many southern cities and encountered many different accents, but this one is by far the hardest to understand. 

For the first several months I noticed a strange phenomenon here that I thought I was just imagining.  The locals' body shape was different from any I have ever encountered.  The people here are shorter than I am use to and have long, bulky thighs and legs, but very short torsoes.  I discovered two reasons for that this week.  Before I type them, you have to know I am not making a judgment about them, I am just stating the facts.  One, dwarfism is common here due to inherited family bloodlines.  Two, marriage to your first cousin is not only legal here, but accepted and normal.  I am sure the marriage issue is due to the fact that we are so isolated that the chances of finding a non-related spouse were slim even as little as 20 years ago.  So while this explains the dwarfism, I also wonder if it is the reason so much weirdness prevails here.

I live two blocks away from the river.  Just around the corner from me is the old hospital building, now turned into apartments.  It sits on possibly the most beautiful piece of land around.  It is incredibly peaceful to just go and sit on its old lawn and watch the water.  But the hospital holds some dark secrets.  A while back I told you about the old house that had been turned into a typhoid hospital.  I found out last night why typhoid was so rampant.  Apparently the hospital had nothing to do with its medical waste.  It would routinely dump the waste into the river.  I'm not talking bedpans and pee cups, I'm talking sawed off arms and legs, bloody bandages, needles, EVERYTHING.  One day when the lunar tide and a tropical storm had lineup just right to pull all the water from the harbor I walked over to the hospital to see 40-50 feet of shore where there was normally water.  All I can think now is how many body parts lay just beneath the silt and sand?  The dumping of the hospital waste was the secret everyone knew, but no one talked about.  There's a lot of secrets like that here.

Tomorrow:  the supersecret CIA base and the people who could tell you but then have to kill you...seriously!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

You're Never Going to Believe Me

When I mentioned the chewing sound that accompanied the spirit in my room, I purposely left out one fact because, well, because it made me worry about my mental stability.  That's the thing about being empathetic...how do I know what's real and what's just maybe the bi-polar illness that runs in my family?

Anywho, the part I left out was that I always felt like there were hooves involved with the spirit.  It scared me because why would I be sensing hooves?  I don't believe in demons.  I don't even believe in hell, but the fact that I sensed an animal really scared me.

Tonight some church people took Hubby and I out for dinner and they were telling us the history of CountryTime.  Boy, do I have a lot to share with you, but since it is late, let me just share one of the things they told me.  A long time ago, maybe 80-100 years ago, a man took a boat full of children from the mainland to a small place called Goat Island.  I asked E's babysitter if she had ever heard of Goat Island and she confirmed its existence (she's been there on her boat.)  It is so-called that because at that time the only inhabitants of the island were goats.  He took the children over there and murdered them.  As the words were coming out of the woman's mouth my mind was screaming "GOATS!!!! OF COURSE!!!!"  It was a goat with the girl.  Now I can see her so clearly in mind and it all makes so much sense.  It wasn't the child chewing...it was the goat!

Some time in the next couple of days I have got to tell you the secrets of CountryTime.  Dwarves, body parts, a top-secret CIA base and a fruit stand massacre.  Oh, it is all making so much sense now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hard Lessons Learned

1.  If you don't like what is going on in your life, it is up to you to change it.  Not a parent, not a friend, not a deity, you.

2.  People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you.  If you constantly allow people to crap on you, it will become your status quo and what you expect.

3.  Change is necessary and important.  Change is scary, but if you don't change you become like the prisoner chained in a cave.  The light source distorts the images and becomes your reality.  Rats become 10 foot tall demons and the dimness overwhelms you.

4. It is time to cut our losses and leave this place.  We are asking for a move.  CountryTime is slowly sucking our souls dry and we have made the decision to make the change.  Now let's just hope the powers that be say yes.  If they do, we'll move in June again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Be Careful What you Teach

Hubby and I have been crazy busy for several weeks now and poor E has been passed back and forth between us a like a tetherball.  She has had to go to meetings and only gets brief snippets of time when we are all together.  Hubby was out of town today and I had finally finished all of my commitments for a while so we decided to have a mommy-daughter date.  I wanted to be "fun" mommy so I tried to be upbeat and silly.

As we were walking the raptor before our "date", E got a little slap happy and started to playfully smack me.  I started to smack her back and then taught her about "two for flinching."  She had never heard of that expression but it intrigued her because she felt like it meant she got "extra" hits.

I had forgotten about it by the time we went swimming at the Y until she was standing face to face with me and all of a sudden her fist lashed out and she punched me between the eyes.  She hit me so hard by teeth clanked together.  Her eyes became round and she started to shake, so upset that she had actually hit me.  I grabbed my nose and started laughing so hard that I actually had tears running down my cheeks (maybe it was the pain, too).  She just kept repeating, "I only wanted to make you flinch."

Serves me right, I guess.

Phonics at Work

I have a budding star in my theater.  No, seriously.  He's been shortlisted for Disney (and one reader goes AHA...I found you).  But he's very limited in his actual knowledge of theater.  So I assigned all of the kids in his class individual songs from Broadway shows to learn.  I want them to become familiar with more than just "Wicked." 

Since this particular kid has a 4 octave range, I wanted to challenge him so I gave him a really hard and emotional song.  As my kids were sitting in a circle, going around and telling everyone what song they were learning, we came to Budding Star.

Me:  Okay, tell everyone the name of your song.

BS: Get the smane.

Me:  What is the name of your song?  (Totally confused)

BS:  Get thes mane?

Intelligent girl:  GETHSEMANE!!!  Your song is called "Gethsemane!" as in "the garden of..."

His lack of knowledge was worse than I thought!

For non-theater people, it's from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Dumbing Down of America

Yesterday in the locker room at the Y there was a young girl talking to her grandma.  The little girl had to do a history project of some sort.  The grandma was telling her about all the historical documents she had in her attic.  She had newspapers and wills and slave documents from the 1700's.  The girl interupted her grandma to let her know that she had to do something on the pilgrims.  To which the grandma replied, "When did the pilgrims land?  I know, 1776.  Well I have a slave bill from 1735.  That would work."

Let's count the ways in which that is wrong, shall we?

Leave no grandma behind.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Whoops

Our church, like many churches in America, has an announcement sign on the front lawn.  The message changes every week.  Sometimes it tells about an upcoming event, sometimes it holds a bible verse.  Occasionally it has a funny quip like "Get your faith lifted here."

On Thursday one of our long-time members passed away and her funeral is being held tomorrow.  Hubby received a call today from another member who felt the current message on the sign was completely inappropriate in lieu of the upcoming event.  Hubby thought for a moment and totally agreed with her and immediately called the man in charge of the sign.

What did the sign say?  "Don't let grass grow under your feet, it will grow over you soon enough!"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Can I Just Say?

I met the coolest lesbian couple today (except Charlitan of course.)  One woman was a light-skinned African American and the other was a blonde soccer mom.  Together they had 5 children of all colors from ages 12 to 3.  ALL of the children were well-mannered, polite and obviously happy. I don't know if these children were adopted or biological, but all I could think was...if this couple could manage 5 children and still be good parents, they need to be the poster family for gay adoption.  Because you know what?  If I had 5 children I would be bald and in a fetal position in the corner.  I'm just meant to be a parent of 1.  Those of you with multiples, you're a better parent than I could ever be.  Seriously.

Another lesson learned today- a woman that I am friendly with who is from one of the founding families of CountryTime but not a member of our church approached me today to invite me out to lunch.  She wants to talk to me about some of the discussions she has been hearing from our church members about me.  I almost took the bait but now that I have had time to think, I am not going to have that chat.  I know what most of the church members think about me, why should I invite someone to heap more of the negative crap on me?  I'm sure she meant well and she knows how hard things have been here for me, but there are some things I just don't need to know.  Not feeding that wolf.

Lastly, I walked out of the Y today to see a thin scruffy white man with a long scraggly ponytail and a red baseball cap and glasses lurking among the cars in the parking lot.  When he saw me he hightailed it to his WHITE truck.  I know Elise lived 5 hours away from where I currently live, but my heart stopped at the sight of this.  I swear he looks just like the guy I kept seeing.  And he was driving a cherry-picker truck that said "Electricity" on it.  Now I have to go back and see if the dead women died after a hurricane or ice storm just to ease my mind.  It can't be him, can it?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh Wide Lawns

I have been reading how WL feels so worried since she is essentially homeless and her baby is due in 7 weeks.  Being born into a house filled with grandparents doesn't even scratch the surface of the damage that parents will do to their children in their later years.  I'm not proud of my bad parenting moments, but I thought I would share them because you need to know...KIDS SURVIVE AND THRIVE even when their parents make mistakes.

So, mistake number one occured when E was a young toddler just barely sitting in a forward-facing car seat.  Hubby had asked me to stop by a church member's house to pick up a paper.  I didn't want to disturb the sleeping E and knew I wasn't going into the house, so I left the car running and went to knock on the door.  The church member wasn't home, but her legally-recognized psychopathic son was.  He didn't have the paper so I slowly backed away to get into my car.  Funny thing though, the car was locked.  I had left it running and LOCKED the car door.  My purse and my cell phone were both in the car, so I was left to face the psychopathic man.  He wouldn't let me in the house to use his phone and he wouldn't bring a phone out to me, so I had to walk backwards down a hill and through a treeline (to keep my daughter in sight at all times) to the house next door and ask complete strangers to use their phone.  Luckily Hubby was 5 minutes away and brought my spare key, but all I could think was that E was going to miraculously unstrap herself from her car seat, crawl into the front seat and attempt to drive herself away while I tried to hold off a mentally unstable man.

Then there was the time that I was in the kitchen cooking and E was playing in the laundry basket.  Yes, we were the kind of parents that didn't believe in buying a house full of toys and she had to entertain herself with tupperware, boxes and laundry baskets.  I had turned away for just a minute, just turned away, not even left the room, and when I looked back, she was gone.  I peeked into the living room, no E. I ran down the hallway, no E.  I tore open all of the closed doors and still could not find her.  Then I heard a giggle.  I ran back into the kitchen to find E sitting ON TOP of the refrigerator.  She had used the little space between our washer and fridge to shimmy up the wall and landed 6 feet off the ground.  Did I mention my child was climbing ladders at 10 months?

But the most horrifying moment of my parenting experience came when E was just 2 days old.  I had done tons of prenatal yoga and walked every day of my pregnancy, so after E was born I didn't suffer from soreness or pain as much as most women do.  I didn't want to just sit around the house but it was too cold to walk outside with her that day, so Hubby and I grabbed E, grabbed the brand-new sling someone had given us out of the box (without reading the directions, because slings have been used for as long as there are babies, right?) and headed of to Walmart.  We got there and I put the sling over my shoulder, grabbed E out of the car seat and placed her into the sling.  Simple, eh?  Yup, until she rolled right out of it and I caught her just before she hit the pavement.  Yes, I almost killed my 2 day old baby because I thought I knew everything to know about babies.  I didn't use the sling again for a month.  In fact I returned it because I felt like such an idiot.  But a friend lent me hers and showed me how to use it (always have someone show you) and E lived in it for the next 5 months.

But the woman who loaned me her sling gave me some great advice. She said, "1. Every mom is terrified of droppping her child, and almost everyone does at least once.  If it happens, don't panic, usually they're fine. 2.  You will cry out of frustration more than she will cry during her first year. Don't be a hero, lean on your Hubby.  He helped get you into this, you need to trust that he will be as good a parent as you want to be.  3. Take a shower, even if your child is crying for attention.  A 10 minute shower can save your sanity and won't traumatize your child even if you feel like it does."   I took that advice to heart and we all survived.

A child needs warmth and love and to be held.  I kept E in a Rolls-Royce pram for her first 5 months.  That's all she needed.  So WL, you're doing great.  You have a whole internet world giving you support and (unwanted) advice.  Mistakes are made but kids don't know that if you love them enough.  And you will love this girl more than you have ever loved anything before.  It's amazing how it works.  Just keep her off the fridge!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Found on a Friend's Facebook Page

Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about the meaning of life. He said to them, "There is a fight going on inside of me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil, he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority and ego. The other wolf is good, he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside all of you, in fact it is going on inside everyone on earth." The children thought about this for a very long time and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I need to learn whom to feed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

If Wishes Were Horses

I am feeling spiritually and creatively drained right now.  I told Hubby I just wanted to take off and go apple picking in the mountains this weekend, but alas, our money tree is in bad shape right now.  But  as we were talking I realized I haven't been anywhere to replenish my soul in at least 6 years.  I have been places:  to visit family, weddings, touring with my theater.  But I haven't taken a retreat in 6 years.  So I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of my favorite places with you, kind of a mini-mental retreat.

The first and foremost place I want to be right now is the Grand Canyon.  I love the Grand Canyon.  I have been there twice and as soon as I pass through Williams and into the wild unencumbered desert something in me changes and my soul just settles.  Everytime PBS runs their Grand Canyon special I am sucked in like a child to those giant lollipops.  And yes, that's me on the mule when I was MUCH younger.



My second favorite place is in the mountains of North Carolina.  There is a place called Springmaid Mountain.  I have been there a few times and every time I'm there, I never want to leave.  There's nothing spectacular about the lodging.  It's pretty generic cabin type stuff, but the mountain itself is beautiful.  There's a spring and horses and it sits right on the Toe River.  I swear if you go there you can not hold on to tension of any sort.


Another place I love is not nature-oriented, but I have such fond memories of spending days here that I had to add it.  It is the Serpentine Wall in Cinncinnati.  I'm not sure why, but there is something there that  really appeals to the creative side of me.  You can sit in one state and look across the river at the other state.  Plus, when I was there, there was an old paddleboat that sat on the side and I always imagined what Cincy  was like "back in the day."


Another non-nature oriented place was the Ca'd zan Mansion in Florida.  Actually, not the mansion.  I could give two flips for wealth and opulence.  But when you walk around the house you are left on a patio over looking the bay (at least I think it is a bay).  When you stand there, smelling the sea air, entrenched by tile and stone, you can't help but be touched by the artisans who created the mansion.  The spot is magical.
 

Last is a place I only spent one day in.  A long time ago I volunteered with the Nature Conservancy and I was sent to the Green Swamp in South Carolina.  I was one of only 3 people out of a promised 10 who showed up.  We spent a long hot August day cleaning up roofing shingles and tires and other garbage that idiots had illegally dumped.  As my reward for working so hard I was taken into the very heart of the swamp where anyone not associated with the Nature Conservancy was not allowed to go.  And I found out why.  There is the middle of the swamp was an actual savannah.  It was amazing, untouched and so unexpected in the coastal swamp area that I just sat there and soaked it all in, knowing it was a rare gift.  Bet you didn't know there was a savannah in South Carolina.  And no, this picture is not of the savannah.  I didn't have my camera that day.

 
Sadly I live so far away from all of these places now that I am not sure I will ever see them again.  And I'm sure there are more places.  Heck, I've lived in 4 different states, visited 30 states and traveled to 5 different countries.  But not every state or place had something that forced me by its sheer natural power to just breathe and refresh.  So I'm interested to know, where's your "special" place?  Maybe someone out there has one that I could actually afford to go to.  I have several readers who live an hour away so I'm hoping you know something I don't know. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Night Visitor

I have a night visitor.  I've actually had her for a while, at least since we moved here, but she comes and goes.  I've mentioned her before; she comes in at night and makes strange, chewing sounds.  I think she is what makes the raptor bark for no reason at night as well.  We have these super-sensitive touch lamps in the living room and Hubby will turn them off before we go to bed at night.  Sometimes, in the morning, the lamps are back on. It's almost as if she is afraid of the dark.

I don't know who she is, but I think she is young.  I know she is terrified because whenever she comes to me I bolt straight up out of a dead sleep and feel this flash of white hot fear.  I feel like I am entrenched in seaweed and I kick the sheets off of me just in case.  Then I hear her just chewing, chewing, chewing, until I can finally block her from my mind. 

I don't dare ask her what she wants.  I can't open that door right now.  I just wish I knew why (or what) she was chewing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Snapshot of Life

Tonight was one of those times when I wish I could capture a moment just as I would a lightning bug in a jar.  Hubby was outside grilling chicken and zucchini, all the while fending E off as she pummeled him with a plastic sword.  E was giggling and jabbering away while the raptor barked to be included.   I was in the kitchen cutting up cantaloupe, just taking in the mayhem, and I thought to myself, "How blessed am I to have this family?"  No matter what else is going on, I have this protective little cocoon of love that keeps me going on my darkest days.

After dinner E turned on her Netflix to check the weather and started saying, "Naples?  There's a place called Naples?  It looks like Nipples!"  Hubby and I just hung our heads and laughed at our unabashed child which only encouraged her.  Soon she was running around with the dog chasing her as she yelled "NIPPLES FLORIDA!!!" at the top of her lungs.  Only a pastor's child.

**Just a sidebar, I can track the paths people take to get to my blog.  The number one way peeople find me is when they Google "Muddy Boobs"-which connects "Muddy" (obvious) and "boobs" (boobs from my Smooshed Boobs and other Randomness post)  and voila! I can't wait to see how many hits I get from "Muddy Nipples."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Implements of Destruction

A long time ago, before E was born but after I was married, I worked as a server at a a marina restaurant.  Although waiting tables was not my ideal job, I was good at it and it paid the bills.   My boss was this crusty old fisherman who could fire off a temper tantrum in the blink of an eye.  You never knew what was going to set him off, but when he blew, everyone went running for cover.  It was nothing for him to call someone a bitch or bastard, even the customers.  But he and I got along.  I could see through all his huff and puff and let the name calling just roll off my back.  For you see, people who say things to my face get a lot more respect than those ducks who constantly peck me to death.  Whenever one of our younger servers would make a mistake, they would come skulking to me and ask me to take care of it with the owner.  I usually did because if I took his heat, it saved me a lot of training of servers.

Eventually my boss trusted me enough that he would occasionally leave me in charge and take a night off.  All of the servers waited for these nights because they felt like they could finally breathe and things ran fairly smoothly.  But one night, late into tourist season, my boss had left and I was waiting tables when I got sat two men.  My sixth sense alarm started going off.  They were dressed like regular tourists with jeans and t-shirts and they both had wallets in their pockets, but something about them told me they were going to try to run out on the check.

I took their drink order and went back into the kitchen area to input it into the computer.  While I was back there I casually mentioned to the cooks that I had runners.  Several of the boys came out from behind the line to peek around at table.  They all shook their heads and said, "nah, they're not runners, too clean."
"Nope," I insisted, "they're gonna run, boys."  So the boys opened the door from the kitchen to the deck so they could keep an eye out should the men leave their table.

I waited on the men for about 90 minutes.  They had several drinks, steak dinners, more drinks, and then they ordered dessert.  And this is how I knew they had some semblance of how the restaurant worked.   If a customer ordered dessert, I had to leave the main building and go into an outdoor cooler where I could no longer see my tables.  To get the dessert, they would have to be out of my sight for about 3 minutes.  But of course, I couldn't refuse to let them get dessert because I had a suspicion they weren't going to pay the check.  I had to still act like everything was normal.

I walked back through the kitchen to let the guys know I was heading in the cooler.  "This is it, guys, as soon as I open that door they are going to run."  The guys jokingly picked up ladles and butcher's knives and other things with which to inflict pain.  But, as soon as that cooler door opened, those 2 men stood up and quickly exited the building.  The cooks came around from behind and met them at the door.  The largest cook, Nava, said, "Gentlemen, have you paid your check?"  And that was it, the chase was on. Those two men hauled ass down towards the boardwalk with 4 or 5 teenage boys chasing after them with various kitchen utensils.  Of course the men were slightly tipsy and the boys were younger so they quickly caught them and cornered them, amazingly enough, against the wall of the small police station.  Our local detective came out, took a picture of all of them with their implements of destruction and brought the men back to the restaurant.

I called my boss to see if he wanted to press charges and he said not if the men paid.  The men paid, stiffed me, and went on their merry way.  But all of us had a funny story to tell from that night.  And whenever I told them I thought someone was going to run, they believed me and grabbed their weapons.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's Not Just Us

Hubby and I have been feeling very put upon lately thinking all of this crap heaped upon us was just..us.  We thought maybe this feeling of being outsiders might be us being too sensitive.  We thought that until Hubby met another pastoral couple who live about 20 minutes from us and are in the same denomination.

They recognized Hubby and introduced themselves while he was at a coffee shop.  They got to talking and Hubby casually mentioned the cultural differences this area has compared to the other places we have lived.  The couple's jaws droppped and they both said, "We thought it was just us."  Conversation continued and they confided in Hubby that things were so bad at their church and town that they had privately taken to calling it "the Hurt Locker."  Yes folks, that's right, being a pastor in this area is akin to being the person who defuses terrorist bombs.

I'm just sayin'....