Good things

Updating the November column from my 2012 series Adventures in Single Parenting.

MusicAt times it’s been hard to be thankful over the past few years. That’s selfish and whiny, I know, but it’s also the truth. While I’m always grateful for the big things like family and friends, a job and shelter, there are a few little things that have brought me happiness and helped make big life changes easier.

Music. Whether I want to scream or cry, laugh or dance, music is the way to get my emotions out when I can’t speak the words. For getting my girl power on, it’s “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce. When I just want to sit and cry, I play “Happy Ending” by Mika. And when I want to dance and laugh and feel good, I crank up “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Studies show that music affects mood, and it’s true. Listen to “My Ding-a-Ling” by Chuck Berry – I dare you not to laugh.IMG_0726

Books and movies and TV. Alone on Christmas Eve 2011 while my daughter was with her dad, I watched “Midnight in Paris” and dreamed of living in the days of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, sharing a glass of wine, wandering the City of Lights, and writing a book that would be loved by millions. Recently, I’ve resurrected my love of wrestling – yes, that “fake sport.” While the outcomes are predetermined, after having sat second row at a live show, I can say that the performances are in no way fake. Watching on TV is great way to escape reality for a couple of hours: I pretend Dean Ambrose is taking out MY frustrations on his opponents.

IMG_8364Red lipstick. I love red lipstick. Wearing it makes me feel pretty, even if I’m wearing a baseball cap, jeans, an old T-shirt, and my Buddy Holly glasses. I couldn’t tell you how many I have … glosses, mattes, balms, pencils, stains, even a compact. Two in my backpack, one in my purse, one in my truck, several in my makeup toolbox. Crimson Joy to match my Alabama sweatshirts, Dynamite to go with my Braves T-shirt, Chunky Cherry to complement a winter coat. I’m constantly searching for the perfect red. Until I find it, I’m happy to experiment with Romantic, Alarm, and Red Diva.

My 2003 Ford Explorer. There are crayon stains on the ceiling above the back seat where a certain toddler played Picasso on 2-hour trips to speech therapy. The CD is home to a gremlin that will no longer allow CDs to enter, the cruise control no longer works, and I find a small bit of oil in my parking spot every day, but my Explorer still gets me where I want to go. Whether it’s to visit my brother and his family in South Carolina, to a boyband concert in Nashville, to hang out with my parents in my hometown, or pick up my girl from school and head to a movie, the old Explorer helps me change the scenery whenever I need it.

What’s that old saying? God is in the details. It’s true, and I’m grateful for the small things that make my life more fun, more interesting, and more satisfying. What little things keep you going?

Bon Jovi in Nashville, 2008.

JBJ is always there

You say you’ve cried a thousand riversJBJ2008
And now you’re swimming for the shore

I was thinking about this video on the way to work this morning as I sang along to I’ll Be There For You. I taped it from MTV and watched it over and over and over … when it comes to Bon Jovi videos, this one is tops for me. Probably because Jon looks so fine in the brown leather pants, the shirt unbuttoned to his navel, and that hair, oh, that glorious hair, and because I wanted someone to feel that way about me:

I’ll be the water when you get thirsty, baby
When you get drunk I’ll be the wine

Those are some of my favorite song lyrics. Even as a teetotaling 17-year-old, I loved the imagery. Someone loving you so much that he gets a high just from being with you? Back then I understood “getting drunk” as acting silly, giddy, and having fun while nursing a wine cooler. (As an adult, I’d learn more than I’d ever want to know about what it really meant. I’ll expand on that in a later post.) “Getting drunk” was something college kids and grown-ups did, not something high school me did. I just loved the metaphor. And still do.

Twenty-four years later, I could still watch the video on repeat, only now I can see Jon and his leather pants in high-def on my 42-inch flat screen. YouTube through a Blu-Ray player is an awesome invention. <clicks play>

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Keep me hanging on

I got some great suggestions from friends regarding last week’s post on the rules of dating in an online world and my conundrum: to ask or not to ask?

* DISCLAIMER: No one knows the guy’s identity. I haven’t even told my closest friends his name. And I don’t plan to. *

I swear, I have the smartest pals. See for yourself:

  • There’s no rule that says you can’t call the guy. Besides, what do you have to lose?
  • CALL the guy!!! There are no rules anymore – everyone is figuring it out as they go. Might he say, ‘no, I’m busy, have a girlfriend,’ whatever, you need to shrug and go on, all the while thinking, ‘your loss, buddy, not mine.’
  • Don’t be weird about it. Don’t be coy. You’re grown-ups. Just say why you called. Be totally honest with yourself, too. Maintain your self-identity.
  • I think rules are a bother and we have to follow our own intuition. The standing rule I’ve found is, “screw it all, and do what you think is right.” If that doesn’t work out, then it wasn’t supposed to work out. No sense in acting like every relationship is the be-all and end-all at this point.

So while waiting for my daughter to finish dance class, I screwed up my courage and decided to give it a shot. However, I chickened out of spoken words, and instead went the written route. And like the post title says, I was left hanging. I got no response, but that itself is an answer, and that’s fine. He has his reasons, whatever they may be, and I respect that. Of course, I had to break it down for my buds, and again, they had me feeling good.

  • You didn’t lose … you needed to know. The main thing is you tried, and you haven’t quit.
  • Don’t get too invested in a single at-bat. It’s embarrassing to strike out, but even the best usually do. Remember: In high school, Elvis was cut from the Glee Club. Know and accept yourself. Others may or may not be right about you.
  • Well, so this one didn’t work out – and let’s face it – he could have been polite and just said he was busy. … Don’t let it stop you from trying again!!

So, while I’ll likely be a smidge embarrassed whenever I see him again, I’m glad I took a chance, swallowed my nerves, and went for it. How will I know if I never try? Sitting in front of this screen, at this keyboard, typing ain’t gonna get me kissed again. That’s going to take getting out there, being open to possibilities, and giving myself permission to let go, even if it’s just a little.

After thanking one of my Twitter pals for listening, he offered one final piece of advice:

Go get ‘em, tiger! (But not Tiger, as in Tiger Woods. i.e., don’t get ALL of them. At once, anyway.)

To which I replied:

Rawr!

 

Dating

Here’s my number …

I asked that question on Facebook last month and, according to my connections, the answer was yes, dating, especially among teens, is done mostly via social media.

But what about grown-ups? How is it done? One FB commenter said the rules are different when you’re back out there again. I want to know how. What are the rules?

Do men call women to ask them out? Can women call men?

Is dating even a thing anymore? Or is it just “hooking up” for most people? I’m a grown-up and I would like to hang out with a grown-up of the opposite sex. <insert Nelson’s Love and Affection here>

I spent my whole hour’s drive home from work tonight debating whether to call a guy I’ve known for years but haven’t talked to in a while. (Background: We went out a couple of times in college. We’re both single now.) Here’s how it sounded in my head. <pretend Call Me by Blondie was playing in the background>

Optimistic Me: He messaged me his number and said to call him sometime. (Grabs phone.)

Pessimistic Me: Yeah, well, then I gave him my number, too, and wouldn’t he have called me by now if he was interested? (Puts phone down.)

OM: Maybe he’s unsure. Or busy. Or shy. Or intimidated.

PM: Yeah, riiiiight. If I didn’t want him to call, why would I have given him my number?

OM: But … he did give me his number first …

See what I’m dealing with here? It’s a vicious cycle, and I’m fully aware that I’m an over-analyzing goofball. I talk myself out of a lot of things because I’m afraid I’ll become the punchline to someone else’s joke.

I mean, what if I call and someone else answers his phone for him? And I start blathering on. Yes, this has happened. Eighth grade. I called a boy I had a crush on to wish him happy birthday. The phone was answered, I started singing the stupid song, and when I was finished, his dad said, “He’s not here right now.” The guy told everyone at school about it. Sigh.

It’s ridiculous, I know! I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m attractive, I’m a good driver and a helluva kisser. I make people feel things by typing a few words. I know sports. I know movies. I read books. I’ve got soul and rhythm. And boobs and hips and a booty. I can check my own oil, buy my own tires, and make a delicious lasagna. I’m Every Woman here>

What is my problem? The worst he can do is say no. Then tell all his friends and laugh. On Facebook. Cynical? Me? Nah.

So what are the rules of the dating game today? Am I missing something? How does it work? Should I or shouldn’t I?

<insert Welcome to the Jungle here>

 

 

‘Tis the season for lights, lights, lights

Riley, my mom and dad, and I drove out to the local Christmas light display tonight. It’s become an annual tradition since Riley was about 3 or 4, when we had to keep her from crawling out the car window to get a better look at Baby Jesus and Santa.

The Wrights go all out. Rudolph shares yard space with Spongebob and Frosty. Helicopters and semi-trucks have the transportation angle covered. Outlined kiddies jump rope and “wheeee” down slides. Candy canes and trees line the driveway and paths.

It’s not a professional job, but that’s what I love about it. The display is this family’s way of sharing the joy of the season with anyone who wants to drive out to rural Colbert County.

If you visit, be kind and drop a couple of bucks in the donation box so they can keep the lights on for another year.

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Campfire story

Daddy tells us about him and his buddies being stranded after the car ran out of gas. His pals were just going to sleep in the car but he decided to head home. He started walking by himself down spooky, dark Kerby Lane where rumor had it someone was once hanged. Listen … and yes, we have a bit of an accent.

Now he tells a silly joke, that cracks me up every time!

Best weekend in a long time

Riley and I spent Memorial Day weekend at my parents’ and it was good for my soul. Friday night, Momma, Riley and I went to visit Granma at the nursing home. I showed her some of Riley’s dance pictures and we had a nice chat. She’s doing pretty well.

When we got back to Town Creek, Daddy built a fire in the portable fireplace and Riley roasted “smarshmallows.” Or burned them. We sat around the fire and listened to Daddy talk about camping out under the stars when he was growing up, and about him and Momma fishing down at the creek when they were a new couple.

We also laughed about our camping gear when we were growing up. We had a shell on top of Daddy’s pickup and he created a makeshift bunk bed in the bed of the truck. My little brother Michael and I slept on twin mattresses on top of a plywood board anchored above the truckbed, and Momma and Daddy slept underneath on a mattress in the bed of the truck. It worked. And we always had fun.

Saturday, I got up early and went for a walk around the neighborhood before everyone else awoke. Then we spent the day at Jordan’s pool, celebrating his high school graduation. We ate BBQ, baked beans, pasta salad, buffalo dip, broccoli salad, corn on the cob, squash, and O’Charley’s rolls. And we swam. And laughed. And enjoyed being together to celebrate Jordan.

That evening, Momma, Riley and I went shopping at Target. And we stopped by Georgia’s on the way home, where they were putting a new liner in their pool. They finished up around 9:30 and we went inside and watched “A Dolphin Tale” (Riley loved it) until nearly midnight. I love days like that … no drama, no stress, just enjoying the company.

Sunday, Riley and I threw the softball and played volleyball, Daddy vacuumed out my truck, and Momma taught me and Riley how to play Rook. Momma and I beat Daddy and Riley. That was a lot of fun.

On the way home, I stopped by to see my best pal Kristi at her mom’s house. Her daughter just turned 21, so Riley and I had to swing by and wish her happy birthday.

After getting home and unloading all off our stuff, Riley’s dad came and picked her up. My friend Kim came over and we hung out on the patio until midnight, laughing, downloading music, and talking over a couple of beers.

I love my family and friends. They love me for who I am and who I’m not and what I can still be. They’re the best.

 

 

Burn, baby, burn

Yesterday I was doing laundry and piddling when I came across my journal from my final year of marriage and the months of separation until the divorce was final. I took it to the closet and stashed it out of sight on the top shelf. Then I saw it. An old popcorn tin filled with letters from when we were dating. Those letters had been there for 18 years … 18 years.

Of course I took them out, unfolded them and quickly skimmed them. “I miss you.” “You are the best girl a guy could have.” “We should talk about our future together when I get back.” “I love you.”

We were so young. And so clueless. We were 23 when we got married and had barely lived away from our parents much less experienced life as adults.

Instead of putting those letters back in their hiding place, I took the tin full of paper and ink and memories and once-upon-a-time love to the patio and set it on fire.

I watched the sweet words curl up and become ashes as the flames rose. It was as if my heart was being cauterized. Sure, a tear rolled down my cheek as I thought about what we had for a short while. I wiped it away and stirred the scraps in the tin again, making sure every envelope and sheet of notebook paper felt the burn.

After I was satisfied that most every piece had been touched by the fire, I poured water into the tin and headed back inside.

Throughout the evening I peeked out the door, watching as the ink, ash, and paper froze. Like my heart.

And like the ice will eventually melt, someday, so will my heart.

 

Party down on New Year’s Eve

We made good on our New Year’s Eve plans by getting dressed up and going out. We had a fabulous meal at Rosie’s Cantina, our favorite restaurant, and we walked around Bridge Street until it was time for our movie, Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, to start. She giggled throughout the show and that’s what made it fun for me. We got home around 10, watched the ball drop at 11, played Just Dance 3, saw fireworks from our back patio, counted down to midnight here, and welcomed 2012 like only we can.