Archives for July 2012

A Memory With A Double Back And A Twist

We have had the best time watching the Olympics tonight, even though I’m convinced that the scoring system for Olympic gymnastics is loosely based on Bamboozled. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m also pretty sure that Joey Tribbiani would have done a bang-up job as a commentator during the women’s gymnastics team competition.

And as far as swimming is concerned, I also think that Joey Tribbiani would have known better than to imply that Michael Phelps’ relay team members were merely there to hold his cloak while he ascended to his Olympic medal-winning throne. Granted, it is a huge accomplishment and so worthy of recognition, but surely it wouldn’t have killed the post-race interviewer to give the other three guys a little more credit for swimming their hearts out and WINNING A GOLD MEDAL FOR THEIR COUNTRY, MY WORD.

(I know that it’s way more difficult to be an interviewer than I can even imagine.)

(And I would probably wind up saying something profound like, “So. Did you have fun? What did you eat for breakfast today?”)

(But it bothered me that the emphasis was on one person instead of the team since it was a team event and all.)

Anyway, it has been so fun to watch and cheer and shed a few tears, and watching the floor routines tonight reminded me of one of my all-time favorite sports memories. I recorded this routine on a VHS tape back in 1991, and I bet I watched it 300 times.

That’s a conservative estimate, by the way. But it’s so fun to see an athlete at the top of her game – and to hear a crowd that is totally invested in the athlete’s performance. I don’t know what the decibel reading was in that arena that day, but I’m guessing that it was off the charts.

It still gives me chill bumps. Over twenty years later.

And I’m betting that what the Fab 5 did tonight will do the same.

Go USA!

Exciting New Heights Of Underachievement

Well, we have been watching the Olympics pretty much non-stop for the last three nights, and I am here to tell you that there is nothing to make you realize how much time you’ve wasted over the course of your life like watching world-class athletes in action. Right now the American women’s gymnastics team is competing, and thinking about how young they are and how many years they’ve spent in the gym makes me hyper-aware that I have spent WAY too many hours watching reality television and eating bacon. At the very least I should have been perfecting my cartwheel or maybe doing some light stretching on a semi-regular basis. Shoot, maybe I should just tape a four-inch strip down the center of our hallway and try to skip down it without falling.

That last thing, by the way? Would take YEARS of training.

However, I recognize that the Lord gifts all of us in different ways, and I trust that even though I lack any significant athletic skills, He has filled my gaps. And that is why, after careful consideration and no small degree of prayer, I do think that there are several areas where I could possibly compete on an Olympic level.

I hope that you know my heart well enough to know that I offer this list in all humility.

1. Real Housewives of New York trivia (related: Bethenny Getting Married and Bethenny Ever After trivia)

2. cowbell ringing

3. bacon frying

4. Top 40 duets of the late-80s / early 90s (lyric memorization, not singing)

5. Steinmart shopping

6. DVR’ing (all facets: searching, recording, watching, erasing)

7. fried chicken sampling and analysis

To be clear, I have not in fact consulted with any professionals, but I am certainly willing to consider more rigorous training under the supervision of a coach and/or mentor.

What about you? What are the areas where you feel qualified to compete on an Olympic level? Carpooling? Baby wrangling? Plant killing? Home hair coloring?

Please feel free to share your own gifts and talents.

This is a safe place.

I can assure you that you will be encouraged.

The Bravo Is Calling My Name

I checked the DVR a few minutes ago and realized that Top Chef Masters started last night. It is probably my all-time favorite competition-type TV show (well, except for Survivor, of course), and now that I know it’s waiting on the DVR, I HAVE TO WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY.

This would probably be a good time to nod your head and pretend that this sort of behavior is very normal.

We took Martha back to Mississippi today so that she’d be home in time for her standing appointment at the beauty parlor tomorrow, and right before we left Birmingham, I decided that it was as good a day as any to let Martha and my parents read the book (well, the chapters that are about them, at least – I want there to be at least a few parts they haven’t read when they see the whole thing for the first time). Suffice it to say that I was very much in touch with the word “vulnerable” when I handed over those stacks of paper, but I really needed to know if they were okay with what I’d written since I’ll be jumping headfirst into the editing in the next few weeks.

Because if my family isn’t okay with what I’ve written in a book about, well, family, then that would be unfortunate. And also cause for massive re-writes.

After the little guy and I dropped off Martha at her house and stopped by my parents’ house for a few minutes (just long enough for me to hand Mama and Daddy the chapters, over explain myself, and jump back in the car because what, what if they didn’t like it, WHAT WOULD I DO THEN?), we ran by the Popeye’s to grab a late lunch and visit with my cousin Paige for a little while. Strangely enough, A doesn’t like chicken on the bone, a quirk that’s a little bit of a sore spot with me, and quite frankly I’m not sure where my parenting went wrong. Obviously we would appreciate your prayers. Anyway, he had just taken a bite of a chicken tender when a song that I haven’t heard in a long time started playing on the speakers, and I am here to tell you that between the 80’s music and the fried chicken and the hometown, the wave of nostalgia was so strong that I had to brace myself against the table to keep from falling over.

Listen. There’s not a whole lot of 80s music that I miss or even like anymore. But some Steve Winwood? With James Taylor singing harmony? Yes, please. So I sat there and ate chicken and listened to “Back In The High Life” and thought about how I’m way older now and and the boy is growing up and my parents were reading part of my book and Popeye’s is still as delicious as ever and it was just about more than the PMS and I could take.

(SIDENOTE: the coats in the Steve Winwood video just kill me. They’re so good. And big. And flowy.)

(Sort of like his hair.)

In the end everybody was fine and kind and good with the book stuff, and I am so grateful for that. In a way it was strange to hand over the words that I wrote to the people that I wrote them about, if that makes sense, and I’ve continued to hang out right on the edge of a really good cry for the last five or six hours. I guess I just feel relieved. And mildly terrified that all those pages are going to be a book next June. And a little panicked that I haven’t yet located the perfect corner where I can HUNKER DOWN AND HIDE.

So. I’m going to watch Top Chef Masters now. Maybe follow it up with a documentary about how to make tires or something like that. Anything to help me turn the emotional gauge down a notch. I think it’s a good plan.

But heaven help us all if I hear an old Chicago song.

The end.

I Believe This Is What You Call A Rite Of Passage

I was in 6th grade when I got glasses for the first time. There was a vision screening at school, and even though I knew I’d been having trouble seeing the board, I did NOT want glasses. So I tried my hardest to listen to everyone in front of me in the screening line and memorize the letters on the chart. Unfortunately, when it was my turn, the lady who was administering the test asked me to read the letters backwards. I was not anticipating that particular hitch in my vision test giddyup, so I left the testing room in tears – and with a referral for an appointment with an eye doctor.

About two weeks later I picked up my first pair of glasses, and the main thing I remember is walking outside the eye doctor’s office, looking up at the sky, and saying, “MAMA! THE LEAVES!” I had no idea that I’d been missing all the crispness and definition and color that the nature had to offer, and for the next week or so I walked around thinking, Well. Would you look at that. Football games were the biggest revelation of all – because I could clearly see the numbers and the names on the backs of the jerseys. It was spectacular.

My prescription has basically stayed the same over the last three decades, and I’ve been a consistent contact lens wearer since I was 14. I feel like a little bit of a pro when it comes to being nearsighted, and my check-ups at the eye doctor are typically a pretty routine affair (save an unfortunate run-in back in 2004 with an eye doctor who jacked up my prescription real good). About five years ago, though, my eye doctor started asking me if I was having any trouble seeing up close, and I couldn’t say “no” fast enough. I WAS READING JUST FINE, THANK YOU. She assured me that I probably had a few more years before I noticed a difference – something about nearsighted people not losing their up-close vision quite as quickly.

Sometime last fall, though, I noticed that the up-close stuff was just a smidge blurry. Just the tiniest bit. Initially I thought that maybe my contacts were dirty, so I took them out, and while it helped, there was no denying that I was stretching out my arm a little more when I needed to read fine print. I was usually okay if I was reading a book, but if I was looking at the dosage instructions on the side of a medicine bottle, for example – well, let’s just say that it was a challenge. I love denial in all its forms, though, so I just told myself that I didn’t know why in the world those pharmaceutical companies had started using such a small font.

The nerve.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the eye doctor for a check-up, and after all the initial questions and tests and whatnot, the technician pulled out a piece of card stock with some words printed on it and said, “So. Are you having any trouble seeing up close?”

And listen. Nobody’s ever played it cooler than I did in that moment. “Nooooooo,” I answered. “I’m doing great. Still reading just fine!”

“Good,” she replied, holding the piece of paper in front of me. “Would you mind telling me what you see on the very bottom line?”

AND DO YOU KNOW THAT SHE WOULD NOT LET ME PUSH THAT PIECE OF CARD STOCK TO ARM’S LENGTH BEFORE I STARTED READING?

WHAT SORT OF REAL-LIFE SCENARIO IS THAT?

So I looked at the words, and I tried my best to decipher them. I really did. But it was like I was in 6th grade all over again, still wishing that someone was in line in front of me so that I could try to memorize whatever they said. I could make out bits and pieces of the words, but as I bumbled my way through those three lines of text, I basically ended up crafting a lovely little short story about a girl in a pretty green bonnet.

For the record, I’m fairly certain that the words “girl,” “green,” and “bonnet” were nowhere even remotely near that piece of paper.

The doctor sympathized when she read the technician’s notes, and she told me that I was officially at +1.0 level as far as up close reading. She made an adjustment to my contacts prescription, hoping that it might give me a little bit of a boost when I read, but I am here to tell you that it did not make one iota of difference. She said that I could move to “progressive” eyeglasses, which are apparently the step before bifocals, or – HELLO, 40s – I could pick up a pair of reading glasses if not being able to read fine print really started to bug me.

Oh, I was bound and determined that the not being able to read fine print would not bug me. It would not beat me, and it would not bug me.

Last night, however, I was at Walgreens, trying to make sure a certain kind of lipstick didn’t have an ingredient that seems to aggravate my skin, and when I finally found the ingredients on the side of the tube and figured out how to open them, I had to work like the dickens to focus and cipher what in the sam hill those blurry letters were saying. I stretched my arm out as far as I could, then tried to prop up the lipstick and then back off from it a little bit, but it didn’t help. Still blurry. So do you know what I did? I marched right over to the Foster Grant display at the edge of the pharmacy and borrowed a pair of reading glasses so that I could see what I needed to see. Those glasses worked like a charm, I might add.

And when I walked out of the Walgreens, I knew that the list of lipstick ingredients had ushered in a brand new component to my status as a 40-something – whether I liked it or not.

Which is why I spent some time trying on these at Steinmart today.

And why I brought a new friend home with me.

I bought some +1.0 sunglasses, too. No sense sitting by the pool and trying to read a book with my arm stretched all the way out to Louisiana, you know?

So that’s my big development of the day. I surrendered to the inevitable. With only the tiniest little bit of kicking and screaming. I’ve been wearing the readers while I’ve been on the computer tonight, and HAVE MERCY the words on this screen are crystal clear now.

I’m bet it’s just a coincidence.

Surely.

Sometimes It Takes Fifteen Years To Learn A Lesson

I just had an epiphany.

I did. Right here in my very own kitchen.

When D and I were first married, I always felt like I had to just outdo myself when Martha and Sissie would visit. As soon they’d walk in the front door, I’d pick up the pace and start washing loads of laundry and cooking meals and folding clothes and changing sheets and basically racing around my own dadgum house at warp speed because I felt like I needed to be superwife. On some level, I guess, I wanted for them to approve of the way that I was taking care of their son / grandson, so I’d work myself into a frenzy because I told myself that there was some sort of twisted honor in being the busiest person in the room. I actually have a vivid memory of zipping through the den with a full basket of laundry while Martha and Sissie sipped on some coffee, and as I sat down my laundry basket in the next room and picked up a load of clothes that CLEARLY NEEDED TO BE WASHED IMMEDIATELY, I overheard Sissie say, “Martha? Does she EVER sit down?”

NO, I thought to myself. I NEVER SIT DOWN. BECAUSE IF I SIT DOWN THERE WILL NOT BE ANY WAY FOR YOU TO SEE HOW HARD I AM WORKING.

I’ve mellowed over the last fifteen years, of course, but if I’m honest I have to admit that I still have that tendency to go into overdrive when Martha comes to visit. I create a pace that’s not really sustainable, so in the middle of trying to be the happy daughter-in-law who hasn’t missed a detail in terms of caring for her family, I usually wind up snapping at my husband or cutting off the little guy mid-sentence. There have been more times than I’d like to admit when D and I were barely speaking at the end of the night, but by diggity I was going to fire up one last pot of coffee for my mother-in-law and make sure that we had a plan mapped out for the next day that involved shopping at six different stores and getting lunch at that cute little place that serves the best chicken salad. The following day I’d wake up and be worn out by mid-afternoon and could barely muster a glare at my husband when he walked through the door, but LOOK WHAT A GOOD DAUGHTER-IN-LAW I’M TRYING TO BE, WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE ME A TROPHY?

This morning the little guy and I were supposed to drive to Mississippi to pick up Martha and bring her back here for a few days, but first we had to run by the car place because my oil light was on. We finally got on the road two hours later than we planned, and by the time we got to my hometown, I had that icky feeling of being hurried because we were running so far behind schedule. Martha kept me entertained with stories on the way back here, but judging by the traffic we were in, most of the residents of Mississippi and Alabama had rented moving vans and/or charter buses today and were perfectly content to hang out in the left lane and then speed up when I tried to work my way around them. I’ve never been one for road rage, but by the time I got to our exit, it felt like there were lead rods in my shoulders, and I wanted to lay on my horn if someone in front of me did so much as click on a turn signal. I was done. Congratulations, traffic, YOU WON.

When we finally got to our house, my initial instinct was to plaster a smile on my face and immediately start playing the role of happy hostess. But our early morning combined with about six hours in the car combined with traffic combined with an epic case of the frayed nerves left me feeling like I wanted to do anything but chit-chat. And for whatever reason, in an unprecedented change of relational pace on my part, I decided that I was going to do the smart thing instead of the easy thing. I helped Martha get settled in her room, and then I said, “If you’ll give me about thirty minutes, I need to check my email and decompress just a little bit.”

I DID. I said it out loud just like a real-live grown-up. And of course Martha was totally fine with that because, well, she’s Martha. She and the little guy found a show to watch, and I went in my bedroom and sat down in a chair and didn’t move for the next half hour. I even dozed off a couple of times. And once I finished that second catnap, I was a new woman. I got up and made us a pot of coffee, and when D came home about 45 minutes later, I wasn’t snippy or snappy or outdone because I’d spent the whole day without one centimeter of margin. Those thirty minutes changed everything, and I wish I could travel back to 1998 and tell the newlywed version of me to SIMMER DOWN, SISTER – IT’S OKAY TO SIT A SPELL.

I realize that all of this may sound cuckoo crazy if you’re a super laid-back person who never worries what other people think. But I’m a pleaser – albeit an occasionally resentful one. So doing what I needed to do instead of doing what I thought I was supposed to do was a new and different approach for me. AND IT WORKED. Changed the whole course of my day.

That was my epiphany.

And I’m totally doing the same thing tomorrow.

Hallelujah.

Home Again (MY, That’s An Original Title)

Well, I totally bailed on y’all for a few days. I was in Nashville with Melanie to do the dotMom opening video, and I could tell you that we didn’t have one iota of fun, but that would be a lie. We laughed like crazy and had a blast. We also got to catch up with some sweet friends who we don’t see nearly enough, and even though I was a little bleary-eyed on the drive home this morning and may in fact sleep for fourteen hours tonight, I loved every second of our time there.

While we were in Nashville, a friend showed us some clips from Portlandia, which is one of those shows that I’ve never made time to watch even though people have recommended it over and over. I guess I’ve been too locked in to other TV commitments, but I’m very aware that the fall season is upon us, and this is the perfect time to re-evaluate my TV goals.

(By the way, three hour Bachelorette finale this Sunday!)

(I’ll watch it like it’s a football game.)

(I may even make some dips.)

SO, we did in fact watch some Portlandia clips last night, and oh, I laughed. I even wheezed a little bit. And this particular one – well, it is some mighty fine and funny satire.

I’m betting that a bunch of you have seen that already – but for me it was some brand new funny.

Anyway. Everybody in the house is asleep now, so that can only mean one thing: the Project Runway season premiere. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Heidi, Tim, and the gang, and I’m ready to catch up.

(See? TV commitments a-plenty.)

And one more thing: be sure to check out this post of Angie’s if you get a chance. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Hope you have a great weekend, everybody!