Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mahna Mahna

If you're wondering why this video is here, it's because I promised to tell you the story of how my husband and I, Robert, met and fell in love in my last blog. You need to read that blog to understand the blogs to come or they won't connect. This song, sung by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths, is part of that story. Why? Because it's our song. Some couples have silly love songs...we have Manha Mahna.

When I met Robert, I was a single mother of three children and had recently purchased my first home. I was so proud of my little place but it was difficult making ends meet. At that time, a friend of mine owned a home security company and was losing one of his best technicians. I knew the pay was good and asked him if I could give it a shot. He agreed. He said it'd be sweet to have a chick tech. You have to know the guy. Picture a cross between Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Sean Penn from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but with glasses and a good business sense. The tech who was leaving was Robert. He was moving back to Alabama to settle down with a woman he'd been chasing for awhile. She said she was ready to commit. She wasn't. He was back three months later.

During the two weeks he trained me, we got to know each other. He taught me a lot about how to drill holes with a six and twelve foot bit and how to crawl into the tiniest of attics and pull wire. He talked about his girlfriend and his hometown and I told him all about my kids and my life. When you're together at least 10 hours a day, a friendship starts to develop. I knew then that he was one of the sweetest guys I had ever met. On his last day in town, we had lunch at a local restaurant, I wished him well and he said he'd miss working with me. I hated to see him leave.

The next three months, I worked mostly alone. The job was physically demanding, challenging and extremely frustrating some days. Most techs could finish a basic job in three hours, it usually took me twice the time. But still, I was proud of myself that I could install and program a security system from start to finish. I got a charge out of knocking on customer's doors and seeing the confused look on their faces. Most would ask where my help was. I'd pull out my flex bits and drill and my best Clint Eastwood squint and say, "It's just me, ma'm." I don't blame them. I'd be a little nervous too if I saw a 5'6" woman coming into my house with a drill.

One day I walked into the office and there he sat. My old friend, Robert. He looked tired and sad and gave me a weak smile.

"Didn't work out," he said, "mind if I work with you?"

I was sad for him but glad to see him back. He was the best tech I had ever seen and I had missed his friendship. Over the next few weeks, we grew closer as friends. We talked about any and everything. He would come over to my house and fix things and hang out, eat dinner with me and the kids, help with homework, watch movies. One of the things we discovered we had in common was our fondness for The Muppet Show, especially the Mahna Mahna song. He'd call me and sing "Mahna Mahna..." and I'd reply, "Do do, do do do..."

Like I said, the job was physically demanding and mentally challenging. Many days, I wanted to quit. Valentine's Day 2005 was one of those days. I had an installation in a big house, lots of doors and extras. I explained to the nice couple where I'd put the equipment and jumped right into the job. Once I got all the holes drilled, it was just a matter of attaching wire to the glow rods and pushing them up into the attic. Then the fun part started. I'd climb into the attic with a flashlight and a pull-rod and start the hunt. The rods that the wires attach to glow when the light hits them, making it somewhat easier to find the wires. The wires for sirens and motion detectors, components that were to be placed in the middle of the house, were easy to find. But doors and windows, that was another story. They were at the edges of the house, drilled through the top plate, where the edge of the roof meets the outside walls of the house. Sometimes I could barely see the tip of the glow rod, if I were lucky. Then I would have to crawl as far as I could toward the wire, lay out flat on a rafter, and stretch out my pull-rod and hook the wire. Usually, insulation was in my face and my head was squeezed between two rafters. This time was no exception.

On top of the usual difficulty, this attic was full of boxes. Another obstacle. Boxes full of Christmas decorations, family mementos and who knows what else. I had been up there for awhile and had most of my wire pulled. But there was one wire, one door, that I saved for last. I knew it was going to be difficult. I had to move boxes, lay on some, crawl for awhile before I finally saw the tiniest tip of the glow rod above the laundry room door. Eureka. I finally hooked it, started pulling with a big grin on my face and then, it was hung. I laid there for a minute, sweating. Did I mention that it was May in Louisiana and hot as hell in that attic? It was. I couldn't let go and I couldn't go back. It had taken me too long to get there! No! I was desperate. I pulled out my cell phone and called the customer.

"Hello?" said the sweet customer lady.

"Mrs. Smith? This is Melinda...I'm in the attic and I have a problem. Could you help me out?"

"Well, I guess so, if I can. What can I do?"

"If you could go to the laundry room door for me and see if the bag of wire is tangled up, I would really appreciate it."

"Of course, dear. Just give me a minute."

Plod, plod, walk, walk, doors opening and then finally,

"Oh dear. It's quite tangled up down here."

"Mrs. you think you could untangle it? I've got the wire and really need to pull it through."

Pause, pause, pause, grunt, grunt.

"Melinda? I'm afraid that I can't untangle it on this end. I think you're going to have to let go and come down here and do it again."

Sob, sob, sob.

"No...I can't let go, Mrs. Smith. You don't understand."

"I understand dear, but there's no way around it. You have to let it go. I'm going to pull it back out now."

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" I screamed, as the pull-rod slipped from my sweaty hands.

I laid there for a minute or two and silently cried. Finally, I crawled back out to the center of the attic, went back down, and packed up my truck. I quit, I thought. I can't do this. Who am I kidding? An image of my kids and my mortgage deed flashed in my mind. And then I thought about this sweet couple who were depending on me to make their home secure. I unpacked my truck and re-ran the wire. I could not for the life of me hook that wire again. I tried for half an hour and finally, exhausted and somewhat hysterical, I crawled back to the center of the attic again and called Robert. He answered immediately and told me he was on his way out of town for a job but would stop by and help.

I sat there in that hot attic. I refused to come down again. I sat, and cried, and sweated and talked to myself, twisting a piece of broken wire around my finger. Fifteen minutes later, I heard someone coming up the attic stairs and saw a head pop up and heard,

"Mahna mahna..."

I couldn't reply. Robert stood there for a minute, looking around while his eyes adjusted to the dark.

"Mahna mahna?"

"Do, do...oh, hell I'm over here," I answered between sobs.

He made his way over to me, reached out and brushed a tear from my cheek, and said, "Are you crying?"

"Maaayyyybeee," I wailed.

"There's no crying in the attic. Didn't anyone tell you that? What's wrong? We can fix it."

A mere fifteen minutes later, all the wires were pulled and we were hooking up the equipment inside the nice, cool, air conditioned house. Later that day, the sweet lady who owned the house, sent us home with a plate of heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies and told us what a great job we did. Robert smiled and winked at me as we loaded up my truck. He went off to do his job and that evening, he showed up at my house with a bottle of wine and two bright red boxes of chocolates for my little girls.

It was on that day, that my heart began to beat a little faster whenever Robert was around.


This is taking a little longer to tell than I thought so next time, I'll finish the story of how we fell in love. Stay tuned, it involves Mother's Day, a Roomba and a missed opportunity.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


One phone call. That's all it takes to change a life. On March 4th, my husband I received such a phone call.

Robert and I have been married for four years just this past March 25th. A year and half before we were married, he broke up with his ex-girlfriend. We just found out that he has a daughter with this ex-girlfriend. The little girl is four and a half years old. He never knew. We drove across three states this weekend to meet her. Her name is Lyanna (pronounced Lee Anna).

There are, of course, many layers to this story. I want to tell it well so I'm going to break it down into parts. There are things that I've learned about myself and my husband in three short weeks. Amazing things and some painful things, too. These past three weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions. But at the end of the ride, is our new daughter. Isn't she beautiful?

I think the first part I'll tell you is how Robert and I met and fell in love. It's an awesome story that involves broken hearts, attics, The Muppet Show and a Roomba.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Boy meets girl

Imagine an ordinary couple twenty-five years ago. They were high school sweethearts and so in love. They dated for about a year when the boy's family moved across the river. Those were the days before teenagers had cell phones and the internet to keep in touch. So after awhile, the river divided them, and they lost touch, their lives moving in different directions.

They never forgot each other though. Whenever the girl talked about the boy later in life, her eyes would sparkle and she stared off into her memory with great affection. The girl went through two sad marriages and a lot of heartache during those years. She began to think she would always be alone. The boy also went through difficult relationships and fought in a war. He was scarred emotionally, as well as physically, from battle. And all through those years, the two loved and lost, raised children, and wondered about each other, with only the river separating them.

One day, through the wonder of modern technology, they found each other again. They only talked at first, tentatively, quietly. Each one thought the other sounded exactly the same as they had all those years ago. The dialogue between them felt familiar, safe and easy. Soon they decided to meet for a date at a place on the river. He stood leaning over the balcony, wondering how he should pose, trying to be casual and aloof and of course, cool. He was hoping that she would see the boy she loved 25 years ago. She went to her friend's house before the date, had a glass of wine, smoothed her clothes and tried to catch her breath. She was hoping that he would see the girl he loved 25 years ago.

As she walked up behind him, he turned to face her and guess what? They both saw the boy and girl and the man and the woman and knew they were still in love...just like if the years and the river had never divided them.

And twenty-five years and six months later, this boy and girl finally married each other and lived happily (mostly) ever after.

Congratulations my dear, dear friend. I wish you a lifetime of happiness and love.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I love this photo. This is my cool niece and my youngest daughter. The little guy in my niece's hand is her dear,, um, gecko? Giant lizard? Iguana? I have no idea what it is but I know that she loved it, this ugly reptile, because she's cool like that. But sadly, the little guy didn't survive the move they recently made from Texas to Louisiana. RIP, Jasmine.

What I love about this picture is the girls' faces. So full of joy and well, goofiness. Just hangin' out...with a lizard...posing. And having fun. With a lizard. That's all. Because when you're young, you do that. You find joy in the moment. You find joy in almost everything because you see joy. You are joy, embodied.

We lose that as adults. Oh, sure we might grab a moment here and there but it's quickly put to rest because responsibility calls. Laundry, dinner, grocery shopping, repairs, you name it, we have to get it done right now. And with good reason because if we don't, tomorrow's work load will be twice as heavy. Sadly though, most of the time when I do get everything done for the day that I've set out to do, then I'm too tired to rest. I know that sounds insane but I mean rest in the way the Bible talks about rest. Rest as in, to savor. To soak it all in and know that things are good. That it is well with my soul. Rest, as in, peace.

That's why I love, adore, and anxiously await spring. I am reminded to rest. Those beautiful buds, the extra daylight, the warmth, the singing birds that come home again! The promise that's reflected in nature all around us that all things are renewed. That life ends and begins everyday. And with that, the hope that we, too, are renewed. The hope that we end, and begin life, in many ways, during our days here on earth. The promise that every dark, cold, dreary winter will end and a new season will begin. And that yes, there will be also be constants in all of this change...that tree in the backyard may look different at times, but it's still there. Still my tree. Naked in the winter, but fully dressed in glorious color in the spring.

So, bring on the changes. Let life bring what it will. My family is my constant. Even though they are always growing, ending, but also beginning, they are what keeps me grounded.

It's spring. And I don't understand how the whole world isn't outside screaming, "It's SPRING!" in one thunderous, joyful voice. But then again, I think they are.

Can you hear it?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

On fish and weight loss

This is what I eat, everyday, sometimes twice a day. I eat a lot of fish. I started to eat more healthful a couple of months ago with the primary goal to lose at least 30 pounds. Why, you may ask? I had an epiphany while showering in a glass shower. In this particular shower, the vanity mirror cruelly resides in front of the glass shower. (You know who you are, cruel shower people!) Now it's one thing to view yourself in front of your own mirror, at the right angle, while sucking and tucking in every ounce of body fat. It's quite another to catch a glimpse of yourself, naked and soapy, with nothing tucked or sucked in, completely unguarded.

I literally gasped.

I wondered who the hell that woman was in the shower with me! I whirled around, razor in hand, ready to attack, only to realize that sad woman was me. Epiphany complete.

Two months later, I'm proud and happy to report that I've lost 13 of those pounds so far. Only 17 more to go with a time goal of July 31st. Nice and slow. Well, slow at least.

Along the way, I've discovered a few things that I didn't really have in mind when I started and because I have nothing else to blog about and I know you're dying to here them, here they are. For some of you who already live healthy lifestyles, the list below will only inspire "duh" in your thoughts. To those I say, give me a break. I've always been a late bloomer.

1. I love fish. It's easy, light and tasty. And lots of variety. I may turn into a fish one of these
days. Don't try and stop me. The Incredible Mrs. Limpet. I love this movie and just
found out they're re-making it with Johnny Depp as Mr. Limpet. From Don Knotts to
Johnny Depp? Bonus.

2. I love green veggies...fresh green veggies. When I was a kid, all the vegetables that we ate
came out of aluminum cans and were cooked for at least an hour in bacon grease and lots
of salt. Like the bacon grease didn't have enough sodium. Who knew you could drizzle
olive oil on ANYTHING and sautee it with garlic and it would taste amazing? Not me.

3. Cardio workouts have become my mood stabilizer. really does help with the
crazies. Some days I really have to make myself go to the gym because my mood
absolutely sucks but always after I'm done, I'm a happy camper.

4. I don't get that 2-4 pm afternoon slump. For a while it was all I could do to stay vertical
between those hours. Not so much these days.

All in all, I'd say number 3 is the most beneficial. And the most surprising. Which makes it easier for me to climb onto that treadmill during the week, knowing that I'm saving my family from likely death and and a mention in some cheesy Lifetime series, which I won't name here, but it rhymes with flapped!