Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Not A Goodbye, It's A See Ya Later

At 6 am this morning, on a restless night without sleep, I've done everything possible including emptying the trash in the bathroom as a diversion...having an extremely difficult time finding the strength to walk across and 10 feet down the hall to wake these children up to make the longest drive to Nashville. 

This is what it feels like to be a parent, torn between letting them sleep longer and keeping them innocent by protecting these two kids who do not yet know the seriousness of their Grampa's health and the pain of losing a grandparent or exposing them to heartache. 

I hardly slept last night. I have an extremely heavy heart. Jeff​​, Wendy​​, Pandora, her boyfriend Cliff, Maverick, Phaedra, and I will gather together as a family this afternoon to say goodbye to Mr. Steve​​, their doting and affectionate Dad/Grampa. 

Thank you's and appreciation to the outpouring of affection and the emotional support of friends and extended family, especially Diane​​, Blaine​​, and The Bowens. Prayers, thoughts, and vibes to the Janovetzes for the emotional heartbreak they will endure within the next few minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bah, Humbug!

After arriving home from work this evening to grass waving from the driveway cracks in the bitter, cold, December wind, the front walk covered in an forgotten pile of autumn leaves, the shirked weeds and thriving crab grass in the flower beds never having been pulled this spring, and an avoided pile of mail sitting on the coffee table for longer than a month I made a decision. This year, I'm going to treat Christmas as the kids treat chores. 

They are going to have to remind me every day damn that Christmas is coming. Oh, I will already know it is here and I have obligations to complete Christmas activities. Advent calendars, baking cookies, decorating the Christmas tree, purchasing gifts, wrapping presents: I am not interested in doing it! 

I will see Christmas looming in front of me, directly in front of me, crossing the days off of the calendar. But, I will walk on past it and pretend it is not here. If it is brought up, I will pretend to think about it. I will pout about it. I will fight about it. I will avoid it at all costs. I will scream "It's already been done!" when clearly it has not. 

I am sure I will see lists of Christmas wishes. I will even volunteer to buy some of those items on the wish lists. But, in the end I will not do it. If I am forced, after repeated reminders and eventual threats, to participate I will do it begrudgingly, half-assed, hurriedly, and frantically as I hear the clatter of hooves on the roof and see that Jolly Fat Man sliding down the chimney. So, if they ask for something specific, only after I have saved every world on the Xbox, returned every text, gone to every party, and posted all of my selfies, possibly by St. Patrick's Day, give or take, I will eventually get around to it.  Then, I might purchase and gift the cheap, dollar store version. In return I will expect full accolades and praise. 

If children celebrated Christmas like they complete chores I would save a ton of money and even more time. It is no wonder I am not in the spirit. If anyone is interested in lifting my saccharine cheer, you can earn the gifts I've already purchased. 

Anyone?

Pease! 

No? 

Bah, humbug! You can keep your Christmas! 


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cousins and Best Friends

I'm absolutely smitten with my nephews, Linus (newly 4, Trey's son) and Max (barely hanging on to 3, Blaise's son). These two are not only cousins but best friends! In fact, with Blaise's newest assignment stationed in Texas, these two have been separated for two months. Despite that Max remembers his best friend and has taken to calling his new little, best friend Linus. Even though the little, best friend, Texas boy's name is Aiden, Max refers to him as Linus Aiden because the name Linus is synonymous with "best friend."

This week before Max came into town, Linus asked his Mommy every day, "What day is today? What day will I play with Max?" 

I couldn't be more excited that these two little Wildlings were able to run around yesterday with Pap-made jet packs, swords, giant bouncy balls, rocket explosions supervised by Pap, screaming in delight, and playing "Superman" on Blaise.  

Linus is not pictured, he's camera shy.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Boys in High School

This summer Phaedra was invited to a boy's birthday party. I take her by the boy's house and his father runs out to meet me at the car. As I drive away I don't know that I've done the right thing by dropping her off. I call Jeff. 

"Hey, that boy's dad met me at the car to introduce himself."

"Yeah. That's respectable."

"He gave me his phone number, his wife's phone number, and the boy's phone number."

"That's a good sign."

"They're going to the mall, to see a movie, and then having cake back at the house."

"Okay. What's the problem?"

"His dad was real excited about Phaedra attending because the boy doesn't have any friends and... Well, she was the only one invited to the birthday party. It gives me the creeps."

"I'll call her."

Here's why it gives me the creeps. First of all Jeff has a rule for the kids, No dating until he or she can drive so they can get out of a situation if it's not comfortable. Period. I feel like Phae got tricked by that old one, "Come to my party. Surprise! It's a party for two." Next, a person without any friends sets off red flags like rockets. As I drive away to secretly park around the corner to speed dial Jeff, I'm thinking, "Is he a weirdo? Why doesn't he have friends? Does he murder cats in his backyard? That's why nobody likes him? Come to think of it, I didn't see any strays on the way over here. Fuck! I just dropped her off on a surprise date to be murdered. She'll be buried with the cats by the time I come back to retrieve her." 

My phone rings, "She said it's fine. She's just friends with him She's there because he doesn't have friends. Aren't you the one the tells her to be nice to everyone?"

Yeah, it's true. I tell her to be nice to everyone because everyone deserves a kind smile and words of encouragement. But! In this case she just needs to be nice, not become friends with him. Besides, when the crazy one climbs up to the top of the water tower with a high powered scoped riffle when he looks down at you, you want him to think, 'She was nice to me, I'll spare her life." Not become friends with the weirdo! 

She survived the surprise date and became friends with him.  The friend thing was much to my chagrin. 

Fast forward to a month ago when she tells me she has a new boyfriend. Can you guess who it is? 

I try not to let my face show disapproval, "Is that...?"

"Yeah, he has friends now that he's in high school."

"Okay."

"I've gotta light a candle for her." In my head I begin composing my prayer, "Dear God, please let him to no longer be killing neighborhood animals and not move on to making human sacrifices. And, help me to keep my mouth shut when she talks about him."

Last week she comes to me, "Andrew asked me to the Snowflake masquerade."

"Who is Andrew?"

"My friend." 

She says it like I go to her school and I should know all of the boys in her class. No. That's not the case. I only know about Hot Griffin (because there is more than one Griffin) and I'm seriously contemplating starting a countdown clock to his 18th birthday: three years, seven days, tick, tick, tick.

"What happened to..." I wave my hand in the air trying to conjure the cat killer's name, "umm..."

"I dumped him, weeks ago." 

I can hear the entire cast of Sister Act singing in my ear! I start moving my right arm in a circular motion and walking like I'm ghost-riding a whip with a little Bankhead bounce.

"Averill!"

"Wait! What?"

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing. Just got a song stuck in my head. Who is Andrew?" 

She told me all about Andrew and yet all I know is he's tall, blonde, blue eyed, and looks like a surfer. But who is he? And what happened to the cat-killer? 

She talked for three hours straight. The kind of incessant high school girl social chatter that somehow lets her breathe while talking inwards and outwards. 

"He did what?!?!!"

"Yeah, I found out he was flirting with other girls and he told my best friend that he wanted to find out what it was like to kiss her."

"Phaedra, do you let him kiss on you? And you're not mad at your best friend?"

"Eww, no. I don't kiss on boys. No, that's just how she is."

I'll seriously never understand the "that's just how she/he is excuse."

As she was talking the one-long-multi-syllables-three-hour-in-length word she showed me a photo in her phone of a boy kissing her cheek. I'll let one of you be the messenger to Jeff on that. So, she lets boys kiss on her...?

"Good," I wink, "because boys still have cooties, except for your Dad. You're better off without that other boy. He clearly doesn't respect you."

I think the conversation is over. Until this morning while I'm getting ready for work. She comes into the kitchen. 

"I talked to that boy last night for many hours."

"Why? I thought your best friend is dating him now."

"No, she's only going to Snowflake with him. She likes someone else.  He was being a real jerk to me."

She read the entire string of texts to me. He has the nerve to be mad at her because she's not interested in dating him again. Never was I so grateful that I didn't have text messaging in high school. Secondly, I'm glad that she seeks advice from me about her dilemmas. Here's what I told her.

"I don't know why you'd put up with that. You don't have to tolerate it. There's always gonna be another man that wants to date you that is going to bend over backwards to treat you right so you don't have to put up with some kid that wants to cheat on you with your best friend and talk down to you. You were his friend when he didn't have one. Not one friend! 

You tell him that you're tired of his crap. You tell him that I've taught you that the point of dating is to find someone who compliments you and vice versa. Dating let's you know who you want to settle down to marry. You tell him he is clearly not someone who exhibits qualities that you find redeeming and he does not qualify as husband material. Now, all of that being stated, don't you go looking for a husband. You're in the ninth grade; school comes first. But, you put him in his place and let him know you don't play that way."

Last, I want to bust this boy upside his head for trying to break her down, blaming her for his decisions, and not being accountable for his actions. He's damn lucky Pandora and Bleu haven't been sicked upon him; one goes for the throat while the other will give a swift kick in the...well, he'll feel it. That's for sure. But, I'm going to let her stand up for herself. Confidence in oneself breeds respect. 

Phaedra, keep holding your head up high. Be proud that you stand up for yourself. I'm proud of you. 

p.s. Everything I said about boys having cooties is true. It's passed through kissing, even on the cheek. Actually, it's on their skin too. They shoot them like laser beams from their eyes too. Hot Griffin and the super-cute boy from Maverick's Boy Scouts especially have cooties. It's best you stay away from all of them all together, even eye contact. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Emperor's New Clothes

This past winter The Silver Fox gave me a dress with the excuse that it is too short for her. I kept it in my closet until today. 

I build an outfit around the dress, something that I really love. 



I get to work, take a trip to the restroom, and primp infront of the mirror. I take a closer look. Is that my panty line? No. Are you kidding me? Those are my actual panties! 

My freaking dress is completely see through!!! 

I see a theme this week! 

As I'm standing behind a tree hiding from the penetrating rays of the autumn sunshine at Phaedra's last Cross Country meet of the season being a self-conscious, stalkerish-looking weirdo (because I'm by myself behind a freaking tree!) a Cross Country mom from her team approaches me, "You are hot! You are so put together. Your outfit is awesome. How do you do that?"

I am? I guess she can't see my vagina! Or maybe she can?  Blush. I wonder if she'll tell me again? 

"Thank you," a huge smile spreads across my face.

The Emperor doesn't have anything on my new clothes! 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Damn Fine Friendship

She slides the swim cap off of her head. Her damp light brown hair is cut in a bob that rests below her ears. She dangles thin, lanky arms with a sweeping reach to grab her beach towel that is lazily draped over the chain link fence. She stands on long muscular swimmers legs that hold a deep tan as she dries herself off and easily slips into perfectly fitted Teva sandals.

I met her just after my thirteenth birthday when I began to attend our shared summer camp. Since that moment she has been in my life. She has always been my friend yet, I do not remember meeting her. Her family has always been an extension of mine and she is more than a best friend. She is my sister.

"All the kids are in the dorms from General Swim. We better get to the chalet to take showers if we're going to make it to dinner on time," a wicked grin spreads across her face. She yells, "I'll race you," as she shoots out of the pool gate, leaving me to lock the gate of the pool. She scampers across the street, and scrambles up the outdoor, rusty, iron staircase. When she reaches the top of the stairs she rips her towel off in a pseudo striptease, waving it over her head, she yells "Yeah-ahhh!"

She turns her attention into the chalet. Yelling through the open door and down the hallway, "Hey you Bitches, I get dibs on the the next shower!" She hangs her towel over the deck's banister then disappears into the chalet followed by uproarious laughter.


She can be abrasively jovial. She is mischievous. She is wildly sensational. She exudes adventure. You can tell that whatever her plan is with the slightest twinkle in her eyes it is going to be righteous.

Together we have confiscated Cheetos. We have searched for bear towels. We have made "The Patented Ho-Catcher 2000." We sang songs as lullabies that were clearly not lullabies to 50 girls at summer camp. We stood with our arms around each other at an outdoor Counting Crows concert where it spontaneously rained throughout their performance of "Rain King." We have skinny dipped, or in my case chunky dunked. We have gone night skiing. We have hunted snipe. We have stayed in a hostel in the Appalachian Mountains - talk about terrifying. We have been OOTC and she has tucked me into a drunken sleep on a Bud Light Mattress or two. She has held my hair back and reminded me of every drunken, asinine idea I attempted the night before. I could tell you a myriad of other stories and tidbits with the photographs to prove it all, but I would implicate myself and others more than I already have.

Our friendship has lasted through always living at least five hours away from each other, being middle school pen pals - I still have those letters, high school, sporadic weekend visits, shopping trips on Forbes, our Grandmothers lighting candles for our protection, spending summers together, cars breaking down on the interstate, colleges, transferring colleges across the country, her overseas adventure with college abroad, countless Mr. Wrongs, road trips, concerts, changing cities, and her spectacularly lively country RamCat wedding and marriage to her equally rambunctious, audacious, thrill-seeking husband. Our most recent reunion occurred this month when she and J2 secretly planned a hurried visit on a two-night stopover from a cross country drive. After seeing each other five years ago at her RamCat One Year Wedding Anniversary we were back together.

She is exactly as my memory holds her. One moment she debates the latest methods of pedagogy and in the next moment she is masterminding saving the world through activism and the benefits of recycling. Two minutes later she is proudly expressing herself in the lyrics of 1980's rock anthems at the top of her lungs. She lives in the moment and loves wholeheartedly.

This is Chelsea.

Although we rarely see each other, when we do, we pick up exactly where we left off. That is damn fine friendship.

Jeep riding through the ghettos and barrios of Memphis. Alright, this was taken in Bartlett.


We stopped for lunch Downtown.  Can you guess where?

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken.

The extremely polite and sophisticated Ladies Who Lunch at Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken.
We then took a leisurely stroll to Beale Street. 






If only I had known!!  We got a giggle out of the posted signs in Tater Red's Lucky Mojos.


Figuring out our Blues Names upstairs in A. Schwab.

Chelsea is a Nordic Goddess, trying on hats in A. Schwab.

EAT, incase you forget. Phaedra at the old-timey soda fountain and ice cream parlor in A. Schwab.

Chelsea and Phae on Beale Street.

Chelsea on Beale St.

Yep, it is Chelsea and I on Beale Street.


Chelsea tells me a story over a beer or two at Young Avenue Deli in the heart of the Memphis neighborhood Cooper Young. 

"Are you taking my picture?" "Yes." "Why?" "Because you are beautiful."

Blushes


Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Favorite Brother

The little sister The Silver Fox promised me was born a week late with a penis. I was eight years old and devastated, but she let me put him in dresses and hair bows anyway. Trey and I told him he was adopted - his real parents are Aliens. I dared Trey he could not fit in the dryer, Blaise begged to try it himself and climbed in and held on for dear life as I let it roll with the door open, "That was fun!" he laughed as he lunged out of the spinning dryer. He happily tied ropes around his waist to fling himself off the top of our two-story deck. He holds a spirit of adventure matched by no other. He is always a prankster, quick-witted, and spontaneous with laughter, but he is even more noble and swift to help when someone is in a bind. He completed our family in perfection. Happy birthday to my favorite brother, Blaise!  


I hope your day is filled with tickles and delight!