Saturday, December 17, 2011

May I Help You?

This Christmas season, I got a second job in the world of retail to help finance Christmas. My husband often takes side-jobs so when I saw an opportunity to help, I jumped at it. It didn't hurt that the job was at my favorite store, World Market. This Friday, December 23rd, is my last day. And strangely enough, even though my feet are numb by the end of a shift, my weekends have been non-existent these past two months, and I've missed my family, I'm extremely grateful for this little job. And I think I will miss it.

Here's why:

Reason No. 1: My full-time job is great but I work from home. I know, I know, most people would love to work from home and I love it, too. But I miss the separation of working outside of the home. I miss leaving at a clearly defined time, clocking in, doing a clearly defined job to the best of my ability, clocking out, and coming home and leaving it behind knowing that I've accomplished something. I'm done. A friend of mind who's in the timber-cutting business said to me once that he couldn't stand sitting at a computer all day or working in a cubicle because at the end of the day, if he doesn't have "a pile of something to point at," he doesn't feel like he's accomplished anything. I can relate to that. At the end of the day, I have a pile of something. I have bagged goods, made a customer laugh, straightened my assigned areas in the store, re-stocked the registers and clocked out.

Reason No. 2: I think too much. I have a daughter who left for college last August, who I worry about, and another leaving next August, who I worry about times a million. I have a grown son who's married with two kids, who I worry about. I have aging parents, whom I adore, who I worry about. And a step-daughter living two states away, who I worry about, too. When I'm at work, my over-analytical brain is occupied. And when I come home, I'm tired and sleep like a baby.

Reason No. 3: And the best thing of all? I get to see what I've looked like in Christmas' past. I'm on the other side of the register. I'm the one who most people don't see. They don't see me because they're busy, overwhelmed and sometimes, resentful. I can see it in their faces when their total shows up on the screen. They sigh, they swipe their card, and furrow their brows as they grab their bags and hurry on to the next store. An obligation. A burden. Another job. Not all of them, mind you, some of them look me in the eye and even take a minute to look at my name-tag and call me by name as they leave. And the ones that don't? I try to treat them the same. I try to remind myself that I don't know their life, their day, where they are and give them a break. I don't always succeed. Sometimes I judge them just like they judge me. But it reminds me to be patient. It reminds me that the next time I'm in a store and there are only two lanes open with lines full of people, I won't be so quick to look at the customer next to me and roll my eyes and mutter something about the lack of service. Maybe there isn't anyone else to call up front. Maybe they're fully staffed. Maybe I can just get over myself and wait for a few minutes because it really isn't the end of the world and I'm not the Queen of the Universe.

Reason No. 4: The connection that comes among people when a group is working hard towards a common goal. At first, I didn't really want to know them because my time there was short but I can't help it...I have. There's Emily, she's only 27, who trained me. In the short time I've worked there, I found out she and her brother were basically abandoned by their parents when they were 16 and 18. They've raised themselves since then, together. She's just a few months away from finishing nursing school. She's got a sharp wit, a great sense of humor and takes food that the store would otherwise throw out because the packaging is damaged, downtown to the homeless community. All by herself. Just because it's the right thing to do. Then there's Crystal, also 27, a single mother who's soon to be married. She's freckle-faced, hard-working and likes to wear a knit cap to work because she doesn't like to mess with her hair. She loves my Sean Connery impression and she also has a great, big heart. There's Kara, who's closest to my age. She has a voice like Janeane Garofalo, sarcastic and dry, works two jobs, and goes to school. She's an Aquarius like me and says the younger kids like to tease her by asking her if she watches "Murder She Wrote" for fun. She and I are the oldest two women in the store. Ancient. Then there's Ann, also a nursing student, a sweet strawberry blond who works her ass off and drops the f-bomb frequently and then quickly says, "Excuse my language". She's also a supervisor and in nursing school but doesn't look a day past 16. There's Alanna, also a supervisor, who may smile at you or look at you like she wants to punch you in the chest, you never know. She's got kind eyes, long curly dark hair, round spectacles and says her time of the month is so bad that the manager keeps track of it so as not to schedule her during those first two days. She's tough but I believe she has a soft side underneath. Something in her eyes. And then there's Porsche, a large, chocolate woman who stands up for all of us. She gripes about a lack of breaks, if need be, saying that her people have always been oppressed and she won't tolerate it any longer. We love her. She gets us those extra fifteen minutes. And she has the biggest smile.

The extra Christmas money has been great, but the experience has been priceless. Who knew?

Merry Christmas everyone. Take a minute to say hello to the people working in the service industry this time of year. Wish them a Merry Christmas and call them by name. You just might make someone's day a little brighter. And in return, your day will become a little brighter, too.

Friday, December 02, 2011


I've read a couple of fellow bloggers posts about their lack of Christmas spirit. They wonder why they don't love it as much as some people seem to. Interestingly enough, these bloggers have children who have grown up and moved out and that seems to play a big part in their diminishing spirit. I get that, I feel the same way, but I think it's more than that.

It's only December 2nd. There are 23 days left until Christmas and already, as every year, it's been crammed down our throats for the last two weeks. I've been asked by several people in the last week if I have my tree up yet...really? I've barely digested my food from Thanksgiving. The weeks leading up to December 25th are so full of hype and commercial frenzy that by the time the actual day rolls around, we have long been over it. I've found myself rushing the holiday these past few years. "Just get through it," I tell myself. Then I feel guilty for wishing that any days of my life were already past. These are days I will never get back and I'm already wishing them away?

I remember a movie that I watched as a child, The House without a Christmas Tree, about a bitter, lonely widow who didn't want to celebrate Christmas because it reminded him of his wife. He had a change of heart and they went out on Christmas Eve to buy a tree and it was such a celebration! I think that back in the days before the media frenzy of Christmas started, many people put their trees up in the few short days before instead of weeks before. And I believe that the early hype builds a lot of people up for disappointment. It causes us to ask what is wrong with us when nearly every commercial is filled with Christmas lights, new cars in the driveway, and laughing families clearly spending gobs of money and having a blast before it's even Thanksgiving. And don't even get me started on Black Friday, which has become a holiday in itself. Such an ominous name for the day that has become the official kick-off to the Christmas season. I have nothing against a good bargain but their are people out there who treat it like a blood hunt. They have no joy whatsoever in what is supposed to be the spirit of giving and will cut you in a heartbeat for that last five dollar crock-pot.

Don't get caught up in the frenzy that is December. Instead, spend this month, and every month, with gratitude. Live each day and appreciate it for what it is. And for those of us that are lucky enough, look at the 25th as special gift. A day to slow down and love your family and give to others. That's something that we all can do, regardless of our beliefs.

Here's a gift for you. A dear friend passed this on to me and I watch it often. It really puts things into perspective.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


It's an odd thing, my relationship with this blog. There have been times I've written here consistently and other times, well, not so much. This may be the longest drought so far but I think I say that every time. It's not that I've fallen off the face of the earth or that I have nothing to say. Ask my husband.

I've been toying with the idea of deleting my blog, which is also something I do from time to time. I'm not sure why but it's almost as if I'm angry with's the same feeling a girl gets when she wants to break up with a boy. I completely ignore him. It isn't that I don't care anymore, only that I don't want to care so I feign indifference. I don't know what to do with you anymore, blog, so I'm giving you the cold shoulder.

A blog is self-serving mostly. It's like an open journal. I get tired of hearing myself talk and writing the word "I", which just occurred in this post 16 times. I wonder if I'm being truthful in what I write because I don't want to offend.

And then I remember that I only have 32 followers and that this blog isn't going to change the world, nor does it strive to. Maybe just my little corner of it. The one that shines a light inwardly, exposing the muck, so that I can clean house. The one that likes to string words together like christmas lights.

I've decided that I still love you, blog.

And I don't want to break up.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


Because I don't have anything that I want to write about at the moment and because I'm sure Diahn would like to visit my blog and see something besides her high school photo....


AND ME! (In my cartoon, modeling days...)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dino!

I hope you have the loveliest of birthdays, my dear sweet friend. Wish I could be there to have a beer with you but you know I'm there in spirit. Cheers!

I love you!

(Look how cute you are!!!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dog Days

This Louisiana heat is sapping the life from everything. The trees in my yard are dropping leaves, not because they're turning rich, earthy, fall colors, but because they're dead. I stopped trying to save the lawn by watering it weeks ago. It looks like sad straw. The hum of the ceiling fans is constant. I love that sound. If only I had a screen door that slapped and creaked throughout the day as my family comes and goes, that would be heaven. I try to get my work done earlier in the day because the heat builds, even in our air-conditioned house, throughout the afternoon. It's better to try and move as little as possible into the evening. That kills me. I get restless in the evenings. And irritated when I'm hot. So I find myself talking on the phone a lot to my four girlfriends, alternating so they don't get to tired of hearing my voice, to help pass the time. Everyone in town seems a little irritated. I seem to hear more sirens, see more fender benders, and everytime someone enters a cool building, you usually hear them mutter, "Damn, it's hot," as they wipe their brow. We look at each other and shake our heads in disbelief.

August is like that here. It's a month that starts off slow but quickly speeds up as parents hustle around town getting their kids ready for school with the endless list of school supplies and new school clothes. All in this unrelenting heat. I think it's cruel and poor planning to have the kids start back in the middle of the hottest month. Is the school board trying to crush their spirits? Job well done, idiots. If I could go back in time, I'd work out a way to homeschool my children, I think. Or move to a state that has a great education system run by intelligent people. Is there such a place?

I recently joined the modern world and bought an iphone. I'm in love. It's such an amazing tool. And one more leap, I purchased the Kindle app and have downloaded a couple of books. This is one, giant leap for Melinda-kind...I've held the belief that the Kindle and the Nook were tools of the anti-christ. My book loving friends and I have railed against their evils! Who will buy the physical books if these devices take over? What will become of the artists who design their covers? And the trees that give their life for the, crisp, white pages? What will we do with the empty spaces on our bookshelves, nightstands, and windowsills if our books are all tucked away in one small, flat, electronic device? And libraries, my God, the libraries! What will become of them and the tiny, eclectic bookstore that I one day want to own?

But as usual, I realize I may have been a bit dramatic. The Kindle and the Nook are not signs of a brave new world, but of a world that is growing in technological bounds. They are signs of a world that will never give up its words and is merely finding a new way to contain and transport them. It means that now I can have both. I may be in the mood to hold the physical book and its weighted pages late at night as I snuggle up in bed near my husband. Or I may be stuck in traffic and be able to pass those useless minutes reading a wonderful book on my iphone. I spend so much of my time waiting. I wait in line at the grocery store, or at a doctor's office, or in the drive-thru at the bank. Those wasted minutes make me uneasy because they represent time that is being stolen from my life. But now, instead of getting angry and irritated, I can slip away with a great book. I can learn or be swept away while I'm waiting on life to move. And not just from one book that's tucked away under the seat, oh no, I have a library of brilliant works at my fingertips.

And that, my friends, is a truly beautiful thing. I can't wait to tell you about the first book I bought and read, but for now,

the weekend is calling...hope you have a great one!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Still Here...

It's official. I'm one daughter away, one year away, from being an empty nester. Last weekend, we moved Stevey off to college and guess what? I survived. She survived. In fact, she's thriving. And I'm beginning to feel like I'm emerging from a year long brain fog. I can't seem to get enough sleep. I feel like a week of laying in the bed, watching TV, reading and sleeping is called for but that isn't an option. It's time to start preparing my last child for college. I've learned a lot this past year so I'm hoping this time, it won't be as stressful. Sara is a different child and this will be a different experience with her. Not necessarily better, just different.

So, here's Stevey with her roomate...

and a dreamy, sunset view of the campus from her apartment balcony.

Believe it or not, I do have other things going on in my brain that I'd like to write about it.

Patience, grasshopper.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Summer I Grew Up

I fall in love a little with every city that I visit. If I could travel more, and one day, I will, my heart will be spread out around the world.

At the beginning of the month, I visited Diahn in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her boys welcomed me with my own, special door.

I am not exaggerating when I say that her children are the politest, kindest, coolest, most well-behaved children that I have ever met. Ever.

And exceptional tennis players, as well. I know because I witnessed their skills first hand. As D said before I watched their match, "So far, you've seen what's on the outside. Tomorrow, you get to see what's on the inside." He was right.

The whole family made me feel so welcomed and spoiled me a little.

The only thing they didn't do for me was have a parade. Maybe next time.

Diahn and I sat outside on her beautiful deck and talked for hours in the evenings, with glasses of wine and bottles of beer in hand. Monty Python movie quotes were rampant.

We made pickles and probably had more fun than two grown women should have making pickles.

And on Saturday morning, we went to the farmer's market where I met Linda...finally! It was like I had known her for years. The whole weekend was lovely and such a nice relaxing, reprieve from the summer of transition.


At the beginning of this week, my daughter and I visited the LSU campus in Baton Rouge for freshman orientation, where I promptly fell in love with the campus, the old oak trees, and the steamy air. The photo below isn't lens fogged up before I took the shot.

The oaks on campus are worth millions and some are actually insured with Lloyds of London.

When I got home, I was showing the pictures to my husband and I realized every shot was of a tree. And maybe a street lamp or two. The campus is sprawling and beautiful and fills me with the urge to study and read. I loved college.


My blog feels stagnant. My writing is very surface these days. This daughter going off to college leaves me feeling like an exposed nerve. I am sad when I hear her walk in the house late at night and realize these are the last few weeks of this place being her home. I am angry with myself when I think of all the missed opportunities of time spent with her and wish I could take back every harsh word that's passed between us. I am overwhelmed with the list of all the things I haven't told her and yet confident that this is how it should be. That she will have to learn these things as she makes her own path. I am reminded of how fleeting life can be. I am reminded of my age, of my parent's age, of how tall my Grandson is becoming. I am fearful of going through this whole process again next year when my youngest child leaves the nest and the house is quiet and empty. How many years have I spent dreaming about the very thing that now terrifies me?

So I cling to the familiar. I cling to my husband. I cling to my family and friends. And I cling to the mundane tasks of my day. I cling to constants. I pray a lot at night as I'm falling asleep. My prayers aren't organized or concise. Instead, they are the ramblings and pleadings of a woman who feels like she is gripping the edge, holding on for dear life. They are the prayers of a child at night, eyes squeezed shut, covers pulled up to the chin, trying to pray away the monsters.

This woman also knows that on the other side of the empty nest, there are new pages to be written. There is a shedding of the skin, in a way. There are big weddings, new son-in-laws and sweet grandchildren on the horizon. There are roads to be traveled and cities that are waiting for me to love them.

But for now, I'm still clinging.

Friday, July 01, 2011


It's 2:23am and I'm having a serious cup of coffee. No messing around. I'm leaving in an hour with my husband to take my stepdaughter home. And then up to Tennessee for a much needed visit with Diahn.

And since it's 2:24am and I'm slightly delirious, I thought I'd share my epiphany with you. The one that I had at 11:30pm when I finally laid down to try and go to sleep. My daughters are out of town so I decided to sleep in Stevey's room last night, to could get away from the noise of the television that my husband sometimes watches until late at night, and that's when it hit me.

She's leaving in five short weeks.

My baby girl is moving out and moving on. And even though she'll come back for holiday breaks and summers, it'll never be the same. Even though I'm so proud of her that I'm practically bursting at the seams, it'll never be the same. I laid there in the dark, breathing in her "Stevey" smell from her pillows, looking around her room at her bulletin board, her paintings and her clutter of clothes scattered around the room, and started to grieve.

And I still can't stop crying.

I'm sure it'll get easier with time. I'd rather get most of it out now than later when I'm helping her unpack at her new apartment. I seriously hate goodbyes. I'd rather stick hot pokers in my eyes than say goodbye. I don't like to get that emotional in front of people and nothing gets me more emotional than saying goodbye. I know, I's not a permanent goodbye.

But to my mother's heart, it sure feels like it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Going On (thank you, Barry White and Marvin Gaye)

I haven't been blogging so much lately. There are many reasons but mostly, they involve children. Children, children, children. From the age of 18 to 3. It's an interesting age span, for sure. On a daily basis, I deal with everything from college anxiety to helping the three-year-old wipe his bottom after he goes to the bathroom. Of the two, I prefer the bottom wiping. Much easier. And just in case my 18 year-old is reading this, like she does from time to time to time, let me clarify. It's not that I actually prefer the smell of poop over your worries about college, it's just that I miss being able to help you solve your problems so easily. Like wiping your bottom.

And now she'll probably never read again. Sorry, sweetie.

Then there's my youngest daughter, who just went through her one hundred and twenty-ninth cell phone. Let's just say she's done her part to recycle as many phones as she possibly can since I purchased her first one at the age of 14. She's now 17. She's a giver, my Sara, always thinking about others less fortunate than her.

Then there are the two youngest, my five-year old stepdaughter and three-year-old grandson. I won't bore you again. You can read about these two poop-lovers here.

I just used the word poop twice in one post. As a matter of fact, the word poop seems to be the biggest part of my vocabulary these days. I think I need a vacation.

And I will get a short one soon! When the husband and I take Lyanna back home to Alabama next weekend, I get to shoot up to Knoxville and spend a few therapeutic, relaxing, Margarita filled days with Diahn and her sweet family. Where we'll most spend of our warm, late, summer evenings talking about poop. Good times. Good times, indeed.

In the meantime, here's what I've been up to this summer. In between the poop.

We've fed goats and fawns.

Some days, we just chill with our new friend below, Jack. He's so laid back and makes a mean Mint Julep. And he tells the best stories.

And then there's his best friend, Joe. He's kind of quiet. And he has a bad smoker's cough. But every now and then, he lets out a loud laugh and tells a story of his own. Or asks for water.

And then there's these guys...feisty, carnivorous misunderstood guys. They have no respect for personal space and at any given moment they might eat your face, but hey, everyone has their faults, right?

I think they're my new best friends.

Oh yeah, and in between the elaborate stories that Jack tells, and the slightly more interesting, albeit more dangerous, tales of our carnivorous friends, I visit the Shreveport Farmer's Market and buy soothing, comfort items like these....

This is a Thai Basil plant. I realize that the brick entitled "Rosemary" next to the Thai Basil doesn't make sense. In fact, it's quite confusing. When I purchased the plant and the brick, the lady behind the booth asked, "You do realize this is Thai Basil...not Rosemary?"

"Of course," I answered. Nosey woman. Like I use it everyday. I have no clue. I just liked the looks of it.

I'm like a ninja sometimes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

In Over My Head

I am old. I have forgotten what it's like to take care of a three-year-old and a five-year-old at the same time. Currently, I'm taking care of my step-daughter, 5, and my grandson, 3, during the day, while I'm trying to work. I work from home. They are here, at my home. While I'm trying to work.

I've developed an eye twitch over the last few days.

Generally, they have a "get along" time span of about ten minutes. Ten minutes before someone melts down. Ten minutes before someone gets angry and throws a punch. Ten minutes before the tears start flowing like lava from Mt. Vesuvius.

And they're loud. REALLY LOUD. They have two volumes. Asleep or loud. There is no in between. There is no whisper. When I ask them to use their inside voices, they look at me as if I'm speaking Farsi.

They are redundant. Redundant to the point of obsessive compulsivity. Seriously.

Me: Do you want to watch TV for awhile?

Brian: Yes, I want to watch "Hulk".

Me: Okay, Hulk it is.

Brian: Hulk! I want to watch Hulk! Nanny, can I watch Hulk? (desperately pulling at my shirt sleeve). Hulk! Hulk! Can I watch, Hulk? Hey Nanny, Hulk is what I want to watch. Do you know Hulk? I yike Hulk. So, can I watch him, Hulk?"

And sharing? Please. They wouldn't share a life preserver if they were drowning. Whatever object or toy one of them is playing with, the other wants. Any object. If Lyanna has a hair bow, Brian wants it. Suddenly, he loves hair bows and his very life depends on having it in his tiny, sweaty hands. If Brian is playing with a blade of grass, Lyanna simply must have that specific blade of grass, now. Never mind the millions and millions and millions of blades in the front and back yard, none of those will do. If we had a dog, which thankfully we don't because that would completely send me over the edge, and the two of them found a piece of dog poop, the conversation would go something like this.

Brian: Hey, I found some dog poop!

Lyanna: Can I hold it?

Brian: No! I found it first! It's my dog poop.




Brian: I SAID NO!!! STOP ASKING ME FOR MY POOP! (a punch is thrown)



At which point I'd probably find myself saying something ridiculous like:

"Brian, you get to play with the poop for five minutes and then it's Lyanna's turn. If you two can't share, then the poop is MINE! Capeesh?"

But oh my...their superhero powers of cuteness are matched by none. They slay me every time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


This may be the longest time that I've been away from my blog. Life has been a little hectic.

1. We moved.
2. Made three college trips.
3. Stevey graduated from high school.
4. Lyanna is here.

Here's what I've been doing in between.

1. Riding my bike.
2. Reading.
3. Cleaning my yard and getting the beds ready for planting.
4. Grilling.
5. Drinking vanilla coffee.
6. Sipping Shiraz.

Pretty uneventful, and yet, completely full of life's sweetest events.

I'll be back soon...happy summer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In Between

So you hunker down,
you dig your heels deep into the soil,
you white-knuckle it,
you smile and wave,
and you breathe while you wait.
You soak up the sun,
you smell the stinkin' flowers,
you mow the lawn,
scrape the waste from the plates,
shower and shave,
and you read.
You read a lot.
You think about what you want to say,
scream, put on a billboard,
while you wait.
You drink wine and talk,
talk, talk, talk.
You talk a lot.
You talk about the high price
of fuel and of groceries,
how busy you are and what
you would do if you weren't...
busy, that is.
But you really want to talk about
Tolstoy, and things we never say,
things we pretend not to notice,
and how you think God isn't
quite so trivial as we make him out to be.
And you want to scream.
You want to see the end times,
would relish a real challenge,
and you want to dance.
You never dance.
Never have.
You pace back and forth at night,
like a cat in a cage, and feel important.
Like you mean something.
You don't.
You live in a circle.
And you wait.
You wait for the next bad thing,
the next emotional tsunami,
the next thing that makes you feel alive.
In the meantime, you Google
and search for coupons,
and smile and wave, boys.
Just smile and wave.
And you know He's there,
somewhere, just out of reach,
so you cling to what is here,
to what you can lay hands on.
You cling.
You cling.

One Stop Poetry, recent winner at the 3rd Annual Shorty Awards, has a great Sunday challenge and this is my contribution. Go and read!

Thursday, April 07, 2011


I'm reluctant to let you go.
I wonder where I will find my warmth at night.
I'll miss your extra-large t-shirts
and the pungent, smell of your deodorant.
I'll miss the way your lips look when you say "smoke"
and the way your love handles fit my hands.
I'll miss the way you pick your teeth after a big meal with your credit card,
scratch your balls in public,
and clip your toenails in bed.
Oh yes, and your foul smelling feet.
I'll probably miss those most of all, my love.
But I won't miss the way you play with my hair.
Or those sweet, salty, morning kisses.
I won't miss your hand on the small of my back,
or on the curve of my neck,
or resting in the palm of my hand.
I won't miss the way you whisper in my ear
or the way you defend me, and don't worry,
I won't even miss your unconditional love.
No, I won't miss that at all.
Not one little bit.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Girl

I spent this last weekend in a foreign land. Panhellenic land. My daughter is headed to college at The University of Alabama in August and she wants to pledge a sorority. I wasn't that type. I've had to expand my horizons and realize that I've been somewhat close-minded. It's too much. She's amazing. In spite of my groaning and moaning about the greek system, she's stayed steady in her convictions. And I have to say, I walked away at the end of the weekend, changed. I walked away convinced that this will be a very good thing for her. I walked away being reminded that my children are individuals and that she, my middle child, is not me. Thank God.

So...Stevey is her name. Before she was born, her father and I debated on names. He wanted a more traditional name but I was leaning towards non-traditional names. Chloe, Zoe and even Scout were my choices. Scout was my first choice but in the end, we agreed on Stevey. Sure, I adore Stevie Nix and Stevie Wonder, but she is not named after these two musical geniuses. I guess you could say they were merely inspirations. It's strange, how a name means so much. I felt intuitively that she needed a strong, unique name without ever having met her. She was born, I nursed her, we spent time getting to know her and it became apparent that she was cautious, somewhat fearful, and so very shy and timid. And we had saddled her with a strange name, a name that would draw attention.

I have watched this girl grow throughout the years. We joke about her younger pictures. In every picture she always looked startled, like someone snuck up behind her and whispered "boo" in her ear. She rarely smiled. She was afraid of the dark, thunderstorms, mad cow disease, and plural possessives. She seemed sad, always. At the age of 10, I would tell her to brush her hair and she would sigh and say, "What's the point? It's just going to get messed up anyway."

But somewhere in middle school, about the time she had her braces removed, she blossomed. She blossomed in spite of her fears and anxiety. And she still has the anxiety, the panic, but she has learned to compensate. She's learned that facing your fears head on is the only way to make them vanish.

She's become the center of her circle of friends. She is responsible, she has goals, and she isn't afraid to pursue her dreams. Well, let me rephrase that, she is afraid but she moves ahead anyway. Courage. She's full of courage. She doesn't think so, but she has it in abundance.

I watched her walked away from me Saturday, after the daughters and parents were separated. I choked. My heart stopped. She was beautiful as she turned around a few times and glanced back, just to make sure I was still there. She was alone. She knew no one. She doubted her herself but still, she moved forward.

I have never been so proud of her in my life. I was never that brave. I'm still not that brave.

Her name is Stevey.

And she's going to move the world.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dandelion Lessons

Step 1: Find and pick one fluffy, white dandelion. Smile impishly.

Step 2: Put your lips together and blow...

Happy St. Patrick's Day...why a dandelion? Because the picture wouldn't be nearly as adorable if he were blowing on a shamrock.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Night

We're in, people. We finished up the last load today from the old house. I had a moment when I shut the door for the last time but that was it, just a moment. Robert and I sat on the front porch and reminisced for a while before we left. Here's a peek into my new living room. It's coming together slowly. I need more color though! Guitar girl helps, she's over to the left, just out of this shot.
She still makes me so happy.

That's it for now because I'm wiped out. Done. Kaput. Sleepy.

But so very happy and blessed.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Daughter of a Preacher Man

I'm tired, people. A good tired, but still tired. I just said tired four times in a row, that's how tired I am. Five now. Moving is good. Moving is evil. Moving is...well, moving. And that's what we're doing. Moving. And yes, I know the photo is a repeat but I thought it fit, so here it is again. I guess you could say it moved, from one post to another.


Speaking of moving, at the end of last year, my father retired from pastoring. My brother took over his role. My Dad was, and still is, an amazing teacher. He's a seeker, an intellect, and an avid reader and researcher. Sometimes his sermons were a bit, shall we say, lengthy. But only because he wanted to make absolutely sure that his thoughts were conveyed to the congregation because he is so passionate about his beliefs.

My brother's style is different. He's more practical, to the point, and then pulls it all together and wraps it up. A great teacher, different style.

What's strange now is that for my whole life, my Dad's been behind the proverbial pulpit. I can't tell you the times he called us out from the pulpit for whispering, passing notes, or sleeping on those cold, hard, wooden pews and drooling on the hymnals that we used for pillows. And now, my Dad sits on the back row with me and whispers, hands out gum, and cuts up. He doesn't sleep or drool...only at home in his recliner.

And I wonder how hard this must be for him. I know he's proud of my brother, I can tell. But at the same time, he's passing the torch. His torch. His domain. His job. And I imagine that he's asking himself, "Who am I now? What is my role? What's my purpose?"

Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV 3.4.283
Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance.

Strange indeed. I only hope he knows how amazing he is. I hope that he knows that he's been my rock, my teacher, my father. Always will be. And that he knows his desire to teach will never outlive his performance. That teaching is his essence and has never been a mere performance.

We're all moving here. In more ways than one. Forward.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Winds of Change

I'm moving this weekend. We finally decided to let this old house go. We can't afford the improvements needed, especially in this economy and housing market. We would lose money hand over that we don't have. Money that we need for one child, this child, who's going away to college in five short months. Breathe, Melinda, breathe.

And I'm okay with the house thing. Great, actually. We need a change. A fresh wind. A bright patch in a rocky year. There are things I will miss. The red front door. The staircase. The bamboo in the backyard that we fight every year from overtaking the entire yard. The next door neighbors.

This corner.

The cobalt blue kitchen, the black and white bathroom, the possum under my back deck.

The memories. But those, I get to take with me.

What I won't miss is the bass thumping from the stereo across the street. The random gun shots we hear on any given day. The fact that we have to leave our house on New Year's Eve, The Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day because it sounds like a war zone with all the fireworks, mixed in with the gunshots. The cats. wild cats. And I won't miss the rats. That's right, I said rats. You'd think with all the cats, but no, we still battle the rats.

I won't miss the broken things. Everything is broken (did somebody say Bob Dylan?)

I plan to take lots of pictures, so I can remember. Because oddly enough, I've lived here longer than any other place and I'm going to miss this house. Seven years. I bought it when I was single, alone with three children, and so lost. It meant a lot to me. Still does. So much has happened here. My son was lost and found. I met and married my sweet husband. My daughters have turned into beautiful, young women. And we found another daughter.

But life is about change. And I'm embracing this change wholeheartedly. I have five more months before Stevey leaves for college and I feel like I have so much to tell her. So many things that I think I've missed. I feel like I need to tuck in corners, cross secrets off the list, give her a manual. I'm not ready for this, but I don't think any mother is ever ready.

I have a lot to say about her over the next several months. She's pretty amazing.

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Balance, grasshopper, balance.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shades of Gray

When Diahn and I set out to explore Memphis, we went here. This the hotel where Dr. King was assassinated. It's been turned into the National Civil Rights Museum.

There was a protester across the street from the hotel. I learned a new word, gentrification. Like most issues, I think I'm in the middle. It saddens me to see older parts of town abandoned and neglected but I can also see the the opposite view. The view that doesn't want to see poorer residents forced out of an area they call home because they can't afford to live there.

The protester sat their silently, making her presence known with banners and pamphlets. It made me feel guilty, because I'm white. As if I had no right to be there. Then again, maybe the guilt comes from my lack of understanding. I don't understand the struggle of the black race from a personal perspective and I cannot. But I try. Why must the focus always be on our differences? Why must we be so divided? Why can't we look at both sides of the coin and accept that there isn't always a right or wrong answer? Why can't we focus on our similarities instead, in all areas, politics, religion, race, and class? I wanted to say to her, "I've struggled to overcome, too. We are alike in more ways than we are not alike." But I didn't. Instead, I nodded in her direction and took pictures. Like a shallow tourist. Part of the problem instead of the solution.

This area of downtown Memphis is beautiful to me and I am glad that it hasn't been neglected or become an empty shell.

I'm a minority in my neighborhood. And while I can say that I haven't gone out of my way to make friends, neither have my neighbors. Mostly, my family and I get glares as if we don't belong here. That must be the same way they feel when they live in a predominantly white neighborhood.

And as our country becomes even more diversified, it seems we only become more divided instead of united. The fissures show up everywhere, the media, the workplace, the government, our families. Our society even promotes the division through talk shows and talking heads and advertising that tell us we can be better, set apart, smarter, skinnier, richer than all the rest.

Recently the President said this, Do not view everything through the lens of rivalry. It has stayed with me. I realize how many times in a given day, I do exactly that.

And I wonder...will I ever overcome? Can we overcome?