Friday, December 29, 2006

Some good things have happened since I last wrote here. First, we had a great Christmas; I'll get the photos posted very soon (I keep writing that, thinking that if I write it enough it'll come true). Then, I found out it was my medicine that was making me depressed. It was such a relief, I'm not even going to be mad that nobody told me it might happen. I seldom ever take medicine, but the doctor convinced me my bronchitis was going to turn into pneumonia if I didn't take the medicine to make me cough that stuff out of my bronchial tubes. Anyway, I took the medicine, and dropped into a deep, deep funk. I don't even really know how to describe it. I wanted to sleep all the time; I didn't care if I lived or died. In fact, if given a choice, I would've chosen to die. Not to mention I was completely exhausted from coughing. Then one day we had somewhere to go and I couldn't sit there and cough all the way through it, so I didn't take the medicine that morning. I'd also skipped the last dose the day before, just because I was too tired to cough. By the end of the day, I'd missed several doses and, lo and behold, I was beginning to feel alive again for the first time in a week. Hmm. Needless to say, I quit taking the medicine completely. Then, on Christmas, I was telling my family my theory that the medicine had made me depressed and suicidal (really, I didn't want to live anymore), and Angela said, well wait a minute, what was it? I told her and guess what? The same thing had happened to her with the same medicine; she called the pharmacist and the pharmacist said sure enough, there's an ingredient in that medicine that makes a small percentage of people have depression symptoms. Why in the cat hair don't they tell people that? I would've stopped taking it sooner.

Another good thing is that I talked to Charles at the Atwood family gathering about my job situation and he totally understands it. He just went through the very same thing at a job he'd worked at for 40 years. He quit. I had been feeling like the caveman on the Geico commercials, like no one understood, but now that someone does (he's not the only one, okay?, but it helped so much to know that he seemed to fully understand that you just can't work under some circumstances) I feel so much better.

We had a great time at Gwen's last Saturday night. After the food and gifts and fireworks, the family tradition is that everybody sits around and sings and those with guitars play guitar. If there's a piano, then someone plays that, too. This year, the men all sang love songs they'd written. It got to be kind of funny, because they tried to outdo one another. Some of them were pretty darn good. Recordable, in my opinion.

I thought we were going to have the SMWP book swap here, because Kim said she hadn't heard from Patricia. I was sitting on standby, just in case. When I heard, I went straight into high gear: polished the silver, hired a sitter, made hors d'oeuvres (I looked up how to spell that, so I know it's right), hired Service Master to come and clean the carpets and upholstery, pruned the shrubbery and trees around the front of the house, reupholstered the dining room chairs, and bought a new outfit. Then come to find out, Patricia's having it after all. (Okay, none of this ever actually happened. I just wrote all that in case Patricia reads this. Really, I had not lifted a finger to prepare for it.)

The other night, Tim and I argued over whether or not water will boil faster if it's hot when you put it in the boiler. He says no; I know yes. He says he did some kind of experiment when he was in high school or something. Listen, I don't care if Jonas Salk, Madame Curie, and Bill Nye the Science Guy all say otherwise: I've been cooking for thirty years, and I know what I know.

I was going to write more, but I'm in the middle of cleaning out my sock drawer. I am so restless these days, I can't sit still. Nervous energy, I think.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I am taking a break from wrapping gifts. I have three to go, and I'm sort of putting it off because wrapping gifts is one of my favorite things to do. Really. I love making the bows. Last night I was in Dollar General looking for gift boxes, and there was this couple on the same aisle looking for bows. You know, those pre-made ones that come about a dozen to a package? They couldn't find any, nor could one of the girls who works there. Then, the woman half of the couple said well what in the world were they going to do, and then she went over to the box that had rolls of ribbon and said it's not like she knew how to make a bow or anything so the ribbon wouldn't do her any good. Well, what else could I do? I said hey if there's a roll that's already open I'll show you how to make one. So, I did my own little part last night to bring peace on earth right there on the Christmas aisle at Dollar General, just by showing that dear damsel in distress how to make bows. She ended up buying several rolls of ribbon so she could make more. I do what I can.

I see Vernon is singing away over at his blog, and I can't hear a chord of it because something is wrong with my computer. It makes me so doggone mad to want to hear something and I can't.

When I walked through the dining room just now, Lizzie was in there playing office, wearing one of my nightgowns and a pair of impossibly high heels Judy gave her to play in. When she saw me she said please, Mama, don't "disturve" me. She never wants anybody to listen to her when she plays. Sometimes she'll come into whatever room I'm in and tell me she's about to start playing wedding or school or office or whatever and please don't "disturve" her. I remember that from when I was little. When Angela and I got into playing something, like movies or TV (usually Bonanza---she was married to Adam and I was married to Little Joe)---we'd get so mad if Mama listened to us. Mama says the only time she ever heard the two of us argue was when Angela announced she was going to Morton and she "left" without giving me time to get my babies ready.

We had our annual breakfast at June's this morning. Usually it's Christmas Eve, but there's church tomorrow for everybody so she did it today instead. It's my favorite gathering of the season always. The only thing that disappointed me about today is that she didn't sing Mansion Over the Hilltop this year. She lives in a million dollar home on the golf course they own, and she'll sit right down at that piano and sing "I'm satisfied with just a cottage below". It always cracks me up. Tonight we're going to Gwen's for supper, gift exchange, and fireworks. I'm so very glad the weather turned cold today. I sure didn't want to have Christmas dinner in the seventy degree muggy weather we've been having.

I picked up a Hattiesburg American the other day because there was an article about Shannon leaving Taylorsville and going to North Forrest (I can't believe it; I wish he'd talked to me first---I didn't much care for it when I worked there), and they are looking for columnists for the op-ed page. They asked only for sample columns on topics of your choice, no experience required. Since I'll be home next year, I think I might try it. Trouble is, who'd want to read anything I write? And what would I write about? My trips to dollar stores? What I made for supper last night? Giving a bow-making demonstration in Dollar General three days before Christmas?

While I was wrapping gifts, I was flooded with memories of Zate's house at Christmas. Zate is what we called my Aunt Laura Zelle. She was my great, great aunt, really. She made beautiful velvet and pearl Christmas ornaments and knitted Christmas stockings. I can remember delivering stockings to Dr. Lucas and Coach Turk at USM. She'd taught them English at Copiah Lincoln and stayed in touch with them until she died. There were always pins everywhere; you had to be careful where you sat. When I think of her, I always think of the sad story of her unrequited romance. She was madly in love with a boy when she was in her twenties---he loved her, too. But Papa Weems would not have it. No way, no how. The boy was "beneath" Laura Zelle, and he forbade her to have anything to do with him. He married and had a family, but she never did. I guess she loved him til the day she died. How sad is that? I always harbored ill will toward Papa Weems for thwarting true love, but. . . .well, now that Hannah has started dating a little, I think I may have a little of Papa Weems in me. It's a terrible thing to be the mother of a teenage girl. When this boy (nice enough boy, well-groomed, honors student, tennis and basketball teams) comes to pick her up, I find myself wanting to ask for a writing sample, a family tree, give him an aptitude test of some sort. My Aunt Sandra always preached to us the importance of good genes, of marrying someone physically attractive and of above average intelligence. I wish there were some sort of test for that.

Okay, who am I kidding? I don't have time for a break. I've got food to make.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I still don't know what to get Tim for Christmas. I mean, I've gotten him several things, but nothing real special yet. I've drawn a complete blank now. I had some ideas, but I lollygagged around so long dragging my feet it's too late to pull them off. I got a seed of an idea around 3:00 this morning, but now I can't remember what it was.

This morning I watched television for about three hours. I never do that; I had no idea what the morning offerings are. I watched a tad of The View because I'd seen all the hoopla on Fox and Friends about the Rosie/Donald thing. I watched a man named Les Feldick teach a Bible study. Not bad. I don't think I'd ever heard of him. I watched Kay Arthur teach about forgiving friends when you feel they've wronged you. I like Kay a lot and have a lot of respect for her, but right now I'm more into dismissing people from my heart. Of course, she talked about the whole prison thing, and how you yourself are really the one in prison if you won't forgive, but lately it seems to me it's more of a bondage to try to hang on sometimes. I'm ready to say "you choose your direction and I'll go the other one; if some kings take you captive, I just don't know if I'll gather my men and come after you or not." But, hey. I do know. I'd probably be the first to saddle up. I did find myself arguing with Kay about it, though. Talking out loud to the television and that kind of thing.

I read Esther this morning in The Message. I don't have anything against The Message, and I pull it out at least once a week or more, but I do find Peterson's style (is his name Peterson???) gets old if you read too much of it. I wouldn't want to read it every day. I found myself focusing more on Mordecai this year than Esther. I don't know why. Also, I just wonder about the Jews declaring their own feast day. Sort of seems extra-Levitical or something. I didn't read Deuteronomy yet. Last year, I read it in The Message, but I don't think I will this year. Maybe the Amplified version. I haven't decided.

Okay, speaking of reading, I finally made it to the Collins Library yesterday. I'm telling you, it's like walking into Cheers and hearing "NORM!!!" Really. Like coming home. David said, "You're here! You always increase my circulation!" (You know, I didn't see a thing wrong with that, but Tim has committed himself to teasing me mercilessly about that comment ever since I told him about it. He's made circulation jokes about every five minutes.) He took me straight to the new Elizabeth Berg and a Jodi Picoult (I'd already read the Picoult). I also got a volume of Shakespeare's comedies--exactly what I need right now, and a book about having dinner with Jesus. David says there's a sequel to it, but it's checked out right now. The only thing I didn't get that I wanted is the Steve Doocy book, but he said he'll get it for me right away and that I am not to buy it.

The entire trip to Collins was just what I needed (except the butcher). I went to Shirley's and piddled. They'd just made popcorn, so I got a bag of that. It smelled wonderful while it was popping, and they sell it for fifty cents a bag. I always get a bag if it's fresh. It was a dreary, rainy day, and it was so nice to walk around Shirley's with a bag of popcorn. So then I had my NORM!!! experience, and then last I went to the grocery store. That's where it all fell apart, but I refuse to dwell on it. There's this butcher that used to stalk me in the Taylorsville IGA. He would never leave me alone to choose my meat in peace. He followed me around, trying to talk me out of some things and into others. I am perfectly capable of making my own meat selections, I believe. So there I was looking at some pork loin for tomorrow night, and I'll be dadgum if the dreaded butcher didn't come rushing out. How in the world has this happened? It's been about a year since he worked at Taylorsville, and now he's suddenly reappeared at the new store in Collins. He WILL NOT leave me alone. Just chats away about what am I cooking for supper, and what do I think he should cook (I don't give a rip), and don't get the Pick 5 because it's not the best deal. He even was checking out right ahead of me when I left. I wanted to say, Look, buddy, you don't know me. You don't know what I read; you only know what I eat. Knowing what I put in my stomach is nowhere near the same as knowing what I put in my head. (I'm thinking of circulation comments here.)

On the way home, I mentally composed a post for completelycalm based on the whole Norm thing. Gosh, it was good, and I was all ready to post it when I got a chance, but now I can't recapture it. Just as completelycalm doesn't seem able to recapture the Cheers atmosphere. (You'd think I had actually watched Cheers, but in reality I think I may have seen it twice.)

I've just seen Jen's comment. Hmm. I just know I wouldn't want to be flying into Denver today, that's all. And if your friends can't make it in to pick you up (Norm!!!), then I'd be concerned. Blessings on your trip, Jen, and may the plows be productive.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My hair looks fine, but the whole experience turned out to be an emotional wringer for me. As it got closer to time to leave home, I didn’t know if I could go through with it or not. Finally, I called the salon and asked to speak to Danita. The receptionist told me she was with a client, but I actually whimpered (whimpered!) and told her this was life and death and that I must speak to Danita NOW. So when she came to the phone, I told her I felt positively adulterous, that this was akin to Tim seeing me go into a hotel with another man. She assured me that it was all okay (but don’t do it again), and that Megan would do a fine job. But then when I got to the shop, it seemed (was it my imagination?) that Danita was cool to me. I spoke, she spoke. I sat on the couch waiting and waiting for Megan to appear. I squirmed, picked up a magazine, squirmed some more. I got up and went over to Danita’s station, commented on how much I liked her new style (permed and really cute), felt the curls, patted her back. She seemed to "unstiffen". I asked about Lindsey’s baby, went and sat back down on the couch. Squirmed. Finally (finally!), Megan came from the back, looking all of twelve years old. Danita came over, told Megan to do a good job, that I was one of her most faithful (thanks for the knife in the back) clients. After that, I just sat in the chair numb the whole time. Just numb. I’m telling you, it was a wringer. Just wrung me right out. Tim said he likes my hair and will I be switching to Megan now? It turns out Megan is the one who cuts his hair. Of course I won’t be switching. I am faithful. This was just a lapse. A one-day stand.

One of the lead features on Yahoo this morning is a new study showing that germs make you fat. Well, hello! Do I not stand on the street corners telling people about enzymes and acidophilus and the importance of digestive health? Can I get anyone to listen? Maybe they’ll listen to Yahoo if not to a yahoo.

Kim was telling me yesterday she bought a nice framed map of the world on I went there last night and poked around for a half hour or so. The one I want is one seventy-nine, plus delivery. I’m thinking about going to Hobby Lobby and trying to find one that I can frame myself. Never mind that I’ve never framed anything before. Tim loves maps and I was thinking that it’d be the perfect Christmas gift for him. (I haven’t been able so far to rent a cabin anywhere like I did last year.) If I’d ordered it last night before eleven and paid extra for shipping, I could’ve had it here on Saturday. I just couldn’t seem to click the mouse somehow.
The weather here is just not good. Not at all what I wanted for this week. Nothing like they’re having in Denver, though. How bad is that? And Jen told us yesterday she’s flying into Denver today. Was it today or tomorrow? Anyway, I saw on the news this morning there are 4,700 people stranded in the Denver airport. I hope it all works out for her.

Someone posted one of those NCLB parodies at the forum. I am immune to all of that, it seems. In the early days, when I’d read those (they were everywhere; remember the dentist?), I would somehow think there was hope. You know, if enough people would speak up and show the absolute senseless insanity of it all, maybe someone would listen. No. It’s not going to happen. Then when all the reports of corruption came out, the ties of the Bush family to McGraw Hill, the underhandedness of the NRP, the blatant lies, I thought well okay this is it. No. There are no WMDs in Iraq. Left is right, black is white, bad is good, and keep your mouth shut about it. When all of the good teachers have left, when the school years of billion s of children are wasted, the textbook and testing companies still have full pockets, and there’s not one single thing that can be done about it.

I had forgotten how funny Breathing Lessons is. I have laughed uncontrollably at times. Good medicine. My appetite has come back with a bang. Yesterday, I wanted every one of the sweet potato fries on Jen’s plate. Her chicken and mushroom sandwich, too. I even went by the bakery and bought a box full of homemade Christmas candy. I threw it all in the garbage, though. It was not at all good. I’m not a great candy maker, but even mine is better than that. They had divinity, Martha Washington, everything. And it was all thoroughly mediocre.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I was awake all night. All night. I don't mean that I was awake part of the night, or that I was awake every half hour. I mean I was awake all night. I don't really know why. Maybe it was the vanilla malt. My appetite is coming back, and yesterday around noon I started craving a vanilla malt. I wasn't hungry at supper, so I didn't eat anything, but around 8:00 I told Tim I must have a vanilla malt. Just three sips. We went to Sonic and I drank the whole thing. I didn't even really want it once I had it, but I drank it because it was there. Well, of course I have a milk allergy and I'm not supposed to eat ice cream. I was awake all night.

If you're ever in Seminary shopping at Piggly Wiggly and you decide to try to figure out how to get to my house on the backroads and you go up by the side of the store past the feed mill and then you keep going a ways and decide to turn on Speed Town Road because it seems like it would take you to Hwy. 535, and then you sit for a minute at the place where Speed Town Road forks into Frank Speed Road, and you decide to stick with Speed Town because Frank Speed looks pretty much like the road less-traveled, and then you wind and wind and wind around the winding road that is Speed Town, then you take a right onto Abercrombie/Knight Road and you end up at what looks like 535, don't turn left onto that highway. Turn right. Because you're not on 535 at all. You're on 588. So if you turn left you'll go straight to Collins, and not to my house. Just thought I'd share that information.

Yesterday morning (or was it Monday morning?) I watched the tail end of Bobby Flay's holiday show, and I saw him make a gingerbread trifle. He made gingerbread, then he mixed lemon curd with whipped cream, then he made a raspberry filling with raspberries and some kind of liqueur. It got me to thinking about the tastes of the Christmases of my childhood. Detsie made gingerbread with lemon sauce, sticky buns, and something we called ambrosia, which was oranges and coconut and I don't know what-all else. Detsie's cooking was completely different from Mama's. Mama is, of course, a world-class dessert maker. She can make anything, no matter how difficult the procedure. Then there was Mrs. Myrtle High, my Sunday school teacher. She made date-loaf candy and brought it in a little Christmas tin to church--the same tin every year. That tin was Pavlov's bell for me.

I started re-reading Breathing Lessons this morning. I got it from the library Monday. I did not, after all, go to Shirley's or the Collins Library. I went to the Seminary Library instead. I got Breathing Lessons, The Clock Winder, and a Barbara Kingsolver whose title I can't remember right now. I finished up The Accidental Tourist last night and was irritated that it ended the very same way it did the last six times I read it. Why does Macon choose Muriel every time? Why? He so obviously should stay with Sarah. It makes me mad every time I read it.

I might go ahead and read Deuteronomy and Esther this week, though traditionally I don't do it until the week between Christmas and New Year's. I sort of dread the Esther thing, since I've decided not to be an Esther anymore. I just don't want to. I've run out of steam. I always think of that guy who worked in the palace when Elijah was shaking his finger at old what's-his-name the king. I always think, well, I'm him instead of Elijah. Working from within instead of without. But I'm getting out now, and yes, it is sad in a way. Everything I did with the children in December, I'd think, "this might be the last time I ever do this with children" but then we'd have a meeting or get a memo and I'd think "I love teaching too much to stay in this situation."

Yesterday morning, I watched Proof of Life with Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan. How could anyone not love Russell Crowe? It came on again this morning at 2:30. I only watched part of it.

I've never been able to hide anything my whole life. Yesterday, I was in T.J. Maxx and I saw some lingerie I had to have. The girls were with me, and I hid it in the shopping cart (it's pretty, um, revealing) under the chocolate-covered cranberries, espresso beans, vanilla caramels, and pewter bowl. Then, when it was time to check out, I told them to go sit on the bench at the front of the store while I stood in line. The place was packed. Packed. So when I was finished and we were leaving, the alarm thing went off as we were walking out the door. I knew. The lingerie. Ink tag. All eyes were on us as we walked back over to the register. The girls walked back with me, and the cashier started pulling out all the clothes I'd bought. "It's the lingerie", I told her, and she pulled it out, held it up for everyone to see, found the ink tag, got it off, held it up again for everyone to see. Yep.

Today at ten I have a hair appointment and I'm worried sick about it. Danita was booked up until 2009 or something, according to the receptionist, so she worked me in with someone named Megan. I've been with Danita forever. We've been through everything together. Nikki's death, Preston's divorce. Everything. My hair.

At eleven, I'm meeting Kim and Jen at Chesterfield's for lunch. After that, I'm coming home to sleep, I hope.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I am beginning to feel alive again after thirteen days of pain and fever. Maybe it’s all over but the coughing now, though the coughing itself is wearing me out. My appetite is coming back; I cooked last night –I thought I’d forgotten how–before we went to Lizzie’s Christmas program at church, and then I even got a piece of pound cake at the thing afterwards, but I only ate two bites and gave the rest to Tim.

Today I’d really like to go shopping. Not shop for anything particular, but just piddle around Hudson’s and Dirt Cheap. I just need to finish the letter of intent and make sure I didn’t leave anything important off my resume. I could do that right now and run it by the office if I go to Hattiesburg. Also, I want to go to Collins to the library. Then, too, I need to talk to Marilyn. I was very sick when we had our meeting, and I know she mentioned something about an office, I just don’t know exactly what she said about it.

Our squad won the state championship Saturday, and while I am very happy for them, I’m also very glad it’s over. It was a tough, tough year for them. They went through some things I can’t go into here, but it’s pretty incredible that they were able to overcome it and win state. They went into the competition ranked fifth, based on their district scores, but they’d lost a girl three days before the district competition and had to learn a whole new routine. I knew they could win state, especially when I saw the routine last Tuesday. Parents aren’t allowed at practices, so I’d only heard about it from Hannah, but I’d never seen it. Then when I picked her up at the gym that day, they were running late because they were going to perform their routine for a visiting coach who had come to critique it for them. I knew when I saw it they could win with it, even before I heard the visiting coach tell them if they hit that routine the title was theirs. So, we spent the day in Jackson Saturday, watching about a million squads perform, and I did get a little worried when I saw a few of them do really clean routines, and then we could see Taylorsville doing their stunts behind the warm-up curtain and Hannah missed her bow and arrow. It’s an advanced move and none of the other squads had one, so she didn’t really have to hit it, but still, she hits it nine times out of ten, and I got a little sick when I saw them drop her. But. . . when it came right down to it, they pulled it all off without a wobble and then I knew nobody else had their difficulty level and they’d get that title.

I am wondering if I should attempt exercising this morning. On the one hand, I think a little workout might do me some good, but then I’m still having a lot of trouble breathing, so maybe I should just do some stretching.

It would be fun to go poke around Shirley’s. Maybe I’ll just drop everything and go do that. Then I could run by the library on the way home and see what David’s up to. I’m re-reading The Accidental Tourist, but I’m almost finished with it, so I’ll need something else before the day’s over. So many decisions. . .