Monday, September 22, 2014

Thank you, white rice

"Maybe you had to work late, or had too many errands and not enough time. One way or the other, the day simply disappeared, somehow, and now the dinner hour is approaching too quickly for comfort." 
-  back of Instant White Rice box

It's like the white rice writers are in my head. That is exactly what has happened. Every. Single. Day.
It's a white rice affirmation, after a long day. Soothing me, saying the white rice understands, go ahead, put that water on to boil... white rice will be there for you.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Muscadine Memories

My Mom has spoken of it often, shaking her head and twitching her mouth - "They are just ornery. That is a Nicholls thing. They like to do stuff just to be contrary." My grandmother, having married into the scene confirms it: "Pure Nicholls." I hear the family stories and laugh at them, I see the contrariness and the scampy grin on some of my own kids.
I never realized it of myself - though the childhood nickname "Beth-a-mule" should have been a clue.
But this week, a friend and I were watching our kids play at the playground. They ran up with some muscadine grapes they had found along the woods, and the smell as they bit into the juicy grapes brought a story to mind.

Mrs. Whitaker has lived beside my Mom for almost 40 years. She was old when I was a kid; she is really old now. The smell of muscadines reminded me of the many times I would belly-crawl across the dirt lane into her yard, intent on raiding her grapevines. But like many old ladies, her usual pastime was sitting at the window, watching everyone and everything she could see. And out in the country, there is not much to see. So, a little ragamuffin neighbor kid crawling to her vines was pretty obvious.
"Git on outta there! Stay out from my grapes!" She would stand on her stoop, in a flowered housedress and not wearing her teeth. She may or may not have held a broom every time, but in my mind she was a witchy character. She had a large facial mole, after all. I would hightail it back across to our yard and race around the barn, out of sight.

If the petty thievery was frequent, she would speak to my Mom about it. And about me climbing in her tree. My other favorite spot - Mrs. Whitaker's perfect climbing tree for a climb-loving girl. It was a great magnolia that grew right along the road, so I could clamber up and look out over the fields, and up and down the road. Of course I was sneaky about that too - how did she see me when I was climbing on the far side of her tree? The woman was uncanny. "Git on outta my tree! I won't have you breaking the branches out! Ye'll ruin the blooms."

As I regaled my friend with this Tale of a Country Child, I started giggling. "Oh my gosh!" I squeaked,  "I was so ornery! My granddad had acres and acres that I could roam, and I insisted on eating that lady's grapes and climbing in her tree! For years." My mouth dropped open and I stared at her. I burst out laughing - "I must have done that just to be contrary."
Hello, Nicholls.
Thank you, granddaddy Jehu.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rule-mongerer

I follow the rules
play oh so fair
I'm careful with hearts
I stay in the lines

I follow statistics and lines on a graph
There's safety in answers
A haven in words

Sure weight in a conscience
anchor to soul
Guidelines to lead me
Compass for life

But watch me I'm spinning
and staring bemused
With robot precision truly confused

For the world offers options
"Tread where you like"
I can't play well with those
who
have
no
care

BL
9.19.14
Ever find yourself wondering when the level playing-field disappeared? When the rules changed? In school, in life, in relationships, in everything? I have to know what leg to stand on, havetohavetohaveto, or it is trouble-city. Rule-mongerer.

Friday, September 5, 2014

After The Great Migration

And now in the waning time of the Great Migration, she gathered her wits and herself about her and she set out to become human again.
Or something like that.
Ya'll, we have been in the process of buying, selling and moving forever and now I can breathe again.
I was one serious ball of a hot mess for months! It is no small thing to move six people, and I did not even begin to fathom the monstrous task this would be. Sure, I said, no problem, I said, we moved 7 times in 8 years, I said. And we did. Just the two of us, and then one teensy weensy baby Cole on the last 3 moves. Not selling & buying each time. Not showing a home, managing deadlines, or reviewing inspection reports and disclosure statements all while managing the Life And Times of 1600 Children. They are exponential. You know this now.
And now I am becoming human again. Or trying to. On the way to settling down and settling in, you can be assured that there have been some VBI's (Very Bad Incidents, thank you Susan for the perfect phrasing!). In fact, there was one yesterday, which leads me to this long, awkward Hi, I'm Back To Blogging post.

Today's topic, and yesterday's debacle is entitled:

Chemicals, Hormones and Wailing, Oh My!
I heard you snicker. I don't even need to go on, I know. But we are a sisterhood, and we too have daughters, and lord help us all someone should have told us the absolute unruliness that is the female temperament, at all times and days, not depending on the weather or on sleep patterns or even on Grown-Up Drink consumption. Nope, this uncontrollable force of nature needs no help from impending periods or sleep-deprived nights. It strikes at will. It strikes in complete anonymity. And that, my friends, is why they are called VBI's.
The root of this incident started with the beginning of the school year 3 weeks ago. Sweet Phoenix had a very rough start to 1st grade, having switched to a new school, and having recently turned six... which is code for "He doesn't read yet, he's young for this grade." (That is a whole other post in itself, tied into the fizzling out of the VBI. Can you wait?!)
Phoenix cried the first two weeks of school. There were many hugs and pep-talks and parental conferences, much daily encouragement and perhaps some ice cream rewards and chocolate bars for the days when there was NOT crying. Also, much discussion on ages and learning and the range from A-Z that you get with 4 kids.
This week, the 1st grade room mom sent out the schedule of volunteer dates for us to sign up. I was Mommy-On-The-Spot and snagged the Sight Word duty, which luckily falls on my morning off. Our county requires a background check, and mandatory child abuse reporter training before volunteering. I jumped through all the hoops, my morning was miraculously clear and I was ready to go.
You know the feeling, all the stars aligned - back on my game, getting into a familiar role, settling into the new school, being there for my little guy during a tough time.
But it was not to be. Oh no. A county backlog in background checks led to "me no be found." I typed my name in three times, three ways. Last name only. First and last name. First, maiden, last. Nada. And then I confidently walked up to the front desk, handed them my email printout from the online training and asked to sign in.
You know that confident feeling, the feeling of a mom who has volunteered weekly in elementary school for 8 years, and who knows she is not a convict or child abuser, and certainly all these good people know it and by God they need volunteers here every day, they need us here! But oh no. They did not have approval to let me in until I was in the system, free and proven clear of any and all brushes with The Law.

In a rush of emotion my voice wobbled out at Ms. Nice Front Desk: But they are expecting me in class, and my son is expecting me, and he didn't even want to come to school and I promised him I was coming to do sight words, and he got on the bus without crying and you are telling me I will not be allowed and I was told to bring my email confirmation in case of backlog, and just the other day when I was getting my daughter from the clinic someone here let a mom in just for her daughter's birthday and SHE wasn't in the system and she argued and someone let her go back there for something trivial like cupcakes, and I am here for sight words, a weekly thing, sight words, weekly???? Sniffle. Sniff. Reassuring and apologetic rhetoric from Ms. Nice Front Desk, coupled with alarm over who may have let another mom back for cupcakes, which is certainly Not Allowed. Absolutely no leniency for me. A tear pricked my eyelids and I made a hasty departure. My hand may have smacked the door bar a tad hard as I pushed my way out.

I stood at the van. I breathed deeply and tried to stop the stupid tears. I decided I was not letting this stand, that Phoenix was waiting for me and by God they were going to know they were stopping the career of an 8-Year Volunteer Mom.

Did I mention that to get into our schools you have to ring a buzzer and speak into a camera intercom? Yeah. So I buzzed that buzzer and heard the hesitant "Can I help you?" and replied "I need to speak with someone about this."
I strode in determinedly, and spoke firmly, but wobbly and my lips did that quirky "I'm-not-crying" thing - "My son is having a very difficult year and I am here to help. I have filled out the county forms every year, and been approved every year. What can I do to get in the system?" More apologies. No results. A hasty, less-noisy exit from me, and the flood gates opened. I can't decide which was louder, the crying or the cursing as I drove home. I had my heart on my sleeve and my temper in my mouth and I was burning with righteous fury. But did I just sit down and have some tea, and a good cry? No! I drafted an email to the Principal, to Phoenix's teacher, to Fulton County and to the good Lord Himself and THEN I called the school and requested that Ms. Front Desk please go and tell my son and his teacher that I was not able to come in. I deleted the email to the Principal as my better judgment slowly returned. I stormed around the house breathing like a bellows, tears running down like water. Oh people it was a s-c-e-n-e.
Hours, it took. Hours to calm down and by that time I was so tired of myself and felt so ridiculous that I hid in my room as though the whole town had seen this VBI. And still, at the least thought of Phoenix waiting for me to arrive, I would lose my grip again. (Susan didn't you already name this Mama Bear Syndrome?!)

This whole sordid tale over a simple refusal to allow volunteering that day. Another day I may have shrugged and been off to get 10 other things done on my list. Temporary emotional insanity, hello.

On a walk that evening, I wondered if that is what a nervous breakdown feels like. Then I laughed, out loud, because wouldn't that be a pickle? How would everything get done?

Today I am composing apologetic words for my return to the school next week. Nice. To add another layer, Ms. Nice Front Desk has hometown connections - her Dad is from LDubs! Her aunt is Patty Swain, who has taught school in Washington forever! Her dad has retired, and is now working part-time for B.E. Singleton, a local Washington business, the owners of which were my grandparents best friends! Too many exclamations!! The over-excitement is overwhelming.... here we go again...
Happy freaky Friday ya'll.

You're welcome.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Time delineated

I spend all of my time trying to find the LEGO ninja guy's hat and sword. At dusk, we searched the street. At dawn, we searched the couch. Phoenix holds the guy in his hand like an extension of his own body, effectively executing ninja moves with his mini counterpart. Only, parts go missing. And parts must be located.
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I spend all of my time sorting and packing for our move in 2 weeks. I am merciless - if it holds no value either sentimentally or intrinsically it must go. Tiny House Nation is an absurd inspiration as we head to a bigger house. I start to feel guilty about all the space.
******************************************************************
I spend all of my time planning and organizing for the near future.
******************************************************************
I spend all of my time trying to enjoy the now.
******************************************************************
I spend all of my time wondering where I am headed and what I will be one day.
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Time is a tricky bitch.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rosary


This one goes out to my ladies, near and far. Now I'm grinning, because in my head, I sounded like Barry White when I typed that. 
I gather you in, your strength, your positive thoughts and vibes - you. I think these days roll by and we hurry and scurry, and I think maybe I forget to tell you I care. Then I read a bit of a writing by someone like Rachel Lewis, and it burns me with its direct beauty. 
*******************************************************************************************************

I count you on my fingers
One digit for each
You are my soul sisters
and I am saying lucky
with each name I recite
lucky lucky lucky
Lucky we found each other
lucky lucky lucky
Lucky our hearts knit
I breathe your name
I call up your essence in my head
In times of need
You are comfort, you are calm
On days of challenge
You are rage, you’ve got my back
Like saints I whisper you into being
Conjure you with a memory
You are my rosary
My consolation in days of dread
Blood’s got nothin’ on soul

BL
5.29.14

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Beauty and Risk In Another's Words

"I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, “Kiss me harder,” and “You’re a good person,” and, “You brighten my day.” I live my life as straight-forward as possible.

Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.

We never know when the bus is coming."

— Rachel C. Lewis

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Teen in the house

Well friends, it had to be something big to break my blogging dry spell. My stories are still churning around in my head, but life intervenes to keep them locked up. I think we are all waxing and waning with this, taking a break, starting back up with a fresh energy. Right bloggy buds?

My fresh energy today comes from the Milestone of Milestones, the Big Day of Big Days.... the First Teenager In the House. Talk about nostalgia - all week I have been looking at old videos, thinking of his first words, his funny little phrases, oh gosh. The misty eyes, they well up at every moment!

I can only be referring to sweet Cole.

This guy.
What is better than new birthday shoes? Not much.

This morning I made random announcements like "Oh Cole, you were born exactly 11 hours from now, in the evening!" "Well, right about now I was vacuuming the house, ignoring the beginning contractions..." "Ooh, ooh, I was talking to Aunt Vera and Emily now, nervously asking for advice..."
Frankly, I am a little impressed at the staying power of my memory. Thirteen years later! Ta-da! But don't ask about last week. Good luck with that recall. All hail the power of pregnancy & birthing hormones, searing in those selective memories.

I want to say so many things to this boy. Things that may be unsaid in the scurry from school to homework to baseball to bedtime. 

You are handsome and athletic, and every time you make an awesome play at short stop, I wish your Pop-pop was around to see you play ball. You make it look easy. Not with the flashy swagger so commonly associated with athletes - but with a quiet ease. Calm and collected, you are so solid. As lead-off batter, confident and assured - you take the weight of being first and make it happen at the plate. Nobody wants that job, did you know? But you get out there, you start things off, you do what needs to be done - with the right attitude. Keep that attitude. That confidence tempered with humility.

You are kind and loving. It warms my heart to hear that you befriend new students, and think of how lonely and out-of-place they may feel. That empathy will carry you far, your entire life. Never forget to spend a moment in someone else's shoes, and act accordingly. And never stop asking if you can hold a friend's new baby - that tenderness and care for the little ones is a treasure.

You are bright and clever. Yeah, I said it. Despite my constant pushing and questioning and driving. Even though I want to see those perfect grades, I guess I want more for you to be happy - and that means that I have to back off. It's hard, you stinker. You drive me crazy with your announcements of quizzes you forgot to study for: "Oh yeah, we had a science quiz today." Cue Mom, going ballistic, starting into a tirade of how you should write in your agenda. Cue Cole, smirking and waiting for me to shut up. "Relax Mom, I got a 97." You've got my lucky streak, so I shouldn't complain - but still, you should study, kid. I never used that luck for school, preferring to put in the hours. Maybe you've got something there, after all.

Things like this should be said. At least on a birthday. At least now and then.
Happy 13th, Best Boy.


Love, Mom

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time

"We spend too much time cursing time -- time waits for no man, time will tell, oh, the ravages of time, time flies! We don't think about the gift of time. Time gives us the chance to make mistakes and correct them, to regenerate, to grow. Time gives us the chance to forgive, to restore, to do better than we have ever done in the past. Time gives us the chance to be sorry when we fail and the chance to try to discover in ourselves a new heart... How we use this time means everything. Will we take the opportunity to transform ourselves... and to become, against all odds, the people of our dreams? That's what it's about, right? --- becoming the people of our dreams."

-Anne Rice, The Wolves of Midwinter

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

And Now You Are 9

I miss these days...
 the giggle of baby girls
 the sweet plumpness of fresh baby arms and legs
the soft murmurings of baby babble

And now you are 9 and I am shaking my head at the years, and how scientists talk about the speed of light as though it does not exist right in front of us. In the speed of light you  - chunky monkeys, sweet pumpkins, darling doves - have gone from me.
And in your places, in your places have sprung strange new creatures with varied and curious opinions and feelings, and an abundance of drama and expression.


Be kind, my lovelies
Be strong and kind
Empathetic and expressive
Whatever you do, believe in it wholeheartedly
Treat your friends loyally
Stand with your brothers
Do the best you can, and work diligently
And always, always
brush your hair

With all my love,
Mommy