Archives for October 2014

Well, I’m As Nervous As I’ve Ever Been

When I was a little girl – not much older than Alex is now – I had a Mississippi State scrapbook. I faithfully cut out any article that was in either my hometown paper or the Jackson paper, and I’d carefully place it in the scrapbook, along with my ticket stubs and pictures from the game day programs. I’ve always loved words, and I’ve always loved college football, and that little scrapbook – which I believe I bought at Eckerd’s – was the first time I’d kept a record of either. I can still picture the way I wrote the score of each game next to my ticket stub – in a blue Biro pen, no less.

This week has made me think a lot about that old scrapbook. The internet has been CHOCK FULL of coverage about the Bulldogs and Auburn and their upcoming game, and it’s been a little bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. Today alone I’ve seen three or four articles about Dak Prescott, three about our coaches, a couple about recruiting, and from my perspective it’s almost been a little surreal. At State we’re pretty used to folks looking past us, so being on the cover of Sports Illustrated is, you know, SORT OF DIFFERENT.

Anyway. I think our game against Auburn will be a good one. And I can’t even imagine how nauseated I’ll be by kickoff because I’m pretty much on adrenaline overload right now. PUT ME IN, COACH LANCE.

(I may have to send a prize to the first person who gets that reference without the aid of the Google.)

Also.

The Bulldogs have gotten so much of my mental space this week that I haven’t even told y’all about something exciting and also terrifying that happened last Friday: I got home from work and found a box of Advance Reader Copies of my new book on the front porch.

First thought: WHOA NELLIE.

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Second thought: This is way bigger than the first book. (It’ll be a couple of months before I see the final typeset version, but there are more chapters in this one than there were in the last one, and apparently that makes a difference.)

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(I had trouble capturing the size differential in a picture. But I promise that the 2nd book is bigger. And also, please enjoy Hazel’s manic movements in the background.)

Third thought: WHOA NELLIE.

Fourth thought: I WOULD LIKE TO HIDE NOW.

Alex actually read the new book this week, and he told me today that he gives it two thumbs up. I was thrilled for about six seconds, and then I remembered that I am in fact the person who buys his groceries and cooks his meals. So I feel that the literal home cookin’ most definitely affected his analysis and evaluation.

Last topic.

I had a speaking thing today for the Samford Legacy League, and before the luncheon someone brought me a gift bag and said she’d been given instructions to deliver it. I put the bag with my purse, and because I had a bunch of stuff to carry to my car when I left, I didn’t open the bag until I got home.

Here’s what I found.

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Well. Well. Well.

It’s a brand new cowbell – and can y’all see that it says “BooMama” over there on the side? Only the “M” is actually the Mississippi State logo?

YOU CAN IMAGINE MY JOY.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my unexpected cowbell gift is a sign that the Bulldogs will win this Saturday.

But I will say that receiving a customized cowbell two days before the biggest game in my school’s history – well, it sure did put a smile on my face. Maybe even a little sparkle in my eyes. So thanks, mysterious gift giver! My nerves and I surely do appreciate it.

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Hail State and Go Dawgs!

#3 In The AP Poll, #1 In The Football-Shaped Part Of My Heart

We had the best Friday night and Saturday in Starkville.

And I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around this development all afternoon.

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ISN’T THAT JUST SOMETHING ELSE?

We play Auburn this week, and the fact that we’re #3 and they’re #2 delights me a little bit. Back in 2008 the final score of the State / Auburn game, which just might have been the worst game in SEC history, was 3-2. So I think it’s clear that the Lord really does give beauty for ashes, even in college football.

The Bulldogs are in a tough stretch of their schedule, but on some level it tickles me to have back-to-back games with A&M and Auburn. Both are land grant schools like State, and we all seem to speak the same down-home, land-loving language. In fact, before Saturday’s game I had a lengthy conversation in The Junction with some Aggies from Houston, and we had the best time talking about the turf on our respective football fields and the importance of high-quality sod. I couldn’t wait to tell Melanie all about it.

And speaking of Melanie.

I feel like I need to let some of you know that even though State and A&M had a big game, Melanie and I are just fine. Couldn’t be better. We talked last Thursday and agreed that we probably wouldn’t talk on game day – just in case emotions were running high (we both tend to err on the side of CUCKOO CRAZY where our teams are concerned). But then Saturday morning we texted just a little bit, and somewhere around the end of the 3rd quarter, Mel texted to tell me that the Bulldogs are the real deal. I didn’t answer her right away, though. Too much football left. And State fans know all too well that a win isn’t a win until the clock stops ticking.

Anyway, I thought about Mel and her best friend, Gulley, about a hundred times during the game, and as proud as I am of the Bulldogs (and what about Dak Prescott, y’all?), I have all the respect in the world for the Aggies. Schools that love maroon shirts, good sod, AND Jackie Sherrill have to stick together, right?

The weekend was also extra special because I got to celebrate my birthday with Sister and four of my very best friends from college – Daphne, Elise, Emma Kate, and Marion. We laughed until our stomachs just flat-out cramped, and by the time we got back to Daphne’s mama’s house late Friday night, I had a laughter headache – my cheeks hurt all the way up to my temples and across my forehead. It was so stinkin’ fun, and the older I get, the more I realize what a gift the Lord gave all of us when we were 18 and too busy teasing our bangs to even know to ask Him for forever friends. I didn’t have any way of knowing that those friendships would mean the absolute world to me through every bit of my adult life.

But oh my word. Have they ever. Do they ever.

Elise and Marion already had plans for Saturday morning, but Sister, Daph, EK and I woke up super early so that we could get to SEC Nation and Dawg Walk before everything got super-crowded. I decided to save some spots at Dawg Walk while they went to see Tim Tebow the SEC Nation set-up, and I so enjoyed being able to stand and watch and listen while most everybody else was screaming and ringing cowbells and finishing tailgate set-up. It was the most perfect fall morning on what I consider the most perfect college campus, and while football is what has Starkville and State all abuzz at the moment, I thought over and over again that the people there really are the very best part.

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Sister & EK – just two of the people that make State so special

So. It’s exciting times for the ‘Dogs. And it was an exciting weekend. And it’s going to be an exciting week. But before I can soak in all the many levels of excitement, I need to sleep. Soundly. For as many hours as Hazel will allow.

Hope your weekend was a great one!

Hail State and Go ‘Dogs.

SEC PSA

I don’t know how many of you saw the segment about SEC Wives on GameDay last weekend, but it was pretty much the best part of the morning as far as I was concerned.

Well, what I didn’t know at the time – and until Melanie texted me a couple of days later and told me – was that The Better Half: SEC Wives is now a three-part documentary-type thing on SEC Network. The first episode came on last night, and all I know to tell you is that there is a clip of Les Miles watching himself on a Raising Cane’s chicken tenders commercial that is one of my favorite things that I have seen in forever.

Also, Megan Mullen is DARLIN’ PLUS.

So anyway. I just wanted to pass along the info in case you might want to watch. The SEC Network schedule has all the info about when the first full episode will air again.

And speaking of the SEC – Sister and I are headed to Starkville tomorrow afternoon for the State / A&M game. In fact, I just took my cowbell off the shelf and put it on the kitchen counter so I won’t forget it.

And yes, I did in fact write, “I just took my cowbell off the shelf” in all seriousness. It might sound a little bit like a country song, but IT IS MY HERITAGE.

Anyway, I can’t wait to see the ‘Dogs play. I think it’ll be a good game. And I also think I’ll be a nervous wreck. But it’ll be fun! More fun! Just so much fun!

(I talk like Martha when I’m nervous.)

(Needless to say, I’ll be talking like Martha a WHOLE BUNCH over the next 36 hours.)

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Somewhere In Between

Warning: this post is all over the place. It’s probably four posts in one. But I wrote it on and off yesterday afternoon – with plans to edit it later – and I decided this morning to just post it as-is. Clearly I’m feeling a little spontaneous and living on the edge. :-)

This is the first year that Alex has played football, and I’ve been a little surprised by what a commitment it is for our family. I don’t say that begrudgingly at all because he has loved it and David and I have loved watching him love it, but most weekdays I feel like I look up and it’s 9:00 at night. We get home from work / school and I check blog email and Alex walks Hazel and I start supper and he eats a snack and David gets home and then one of us takes Alex to practice.

I’d originally thought that practice would be a fun time for D and me to get to eat out or walk around a book store or hang out on the practice field and talk, but as it turns out Hazel’s least favorite thing in the world is going into her crate for the second time in a day. So one of us stays with her, one of us does the practice run, and by the time we’re all home again and we eat supper and try to have a conversation that lasts longer than two minutes, it’s A’s bedtime. On a good night I manage to stay awake until 10:30, but most nights I don’t make it past 10.

5 AM is always early, you know?

At least once a day I think about all of you who have 2, 3, 4, or more kids – all involved in an activity – and in my head I applaud you for getting those young’uns where they need to be every single day. As kids get older, practice schedules are no joke, and even though I am the first person to jump on the STOP OVER-PROGRAMMING KIDS soapbox, I am also mindful that part of our job as parents is to help young’uns figure out what they love to do, to help them realize what they’re good at doing, and to put them in situations where they’re working for something way bigger than themselves.

It’s a fine line. But right now – on this Tuesday night at the tail end of September – I feel pretty good about where we’re standing. Tomorrow may be a different story.

And then there’s this. I’ve spent a big chunk of the last 20 years in a classroom. I’ve taught a bunch of different subjects, but mostly I’ve taught American literature. This year, though, I’ve shifted into a new job. I have an office instead of a classroom, and now I spend most of the school day talking to and praying with and occasionally handing out Kleenexes to high school girls. It’s weird to be in an office after so many years with chalkboards and then white boards and then SmartBoards. I have a phone on my desk now, but I’m not at all used to it and I jump when it rings. Anybody who has been a teacher can relate to the strangeness of a ringing phone during the workday. Ringing bells are one thing, but that phone? That phone is something else.

My new job doesn’t come with any sort of fancy title and doesn’t require special credentials. Thankfully we have a licensed counselor who can deal with the more serious issues, and that is such a comfort to me. I’m really just there to love on our girls and help them navigate day-to-day stuff: problems with friends, questions about faith, frustrations with hair or clothes or boys. I told somebody last week that I’m sort of like a drama coach – only my job has nothing to do with musicals or plays. And I’m not trying to help the girls get better at drama; I’m trying to encourage them to stop it. Walk away from it. Love each other. Honor each other. Honor each other. Honor each other.

(That last thing is a pretty big deal to me.)

I probably visit with an average of 8 or 10 girls every day, and for the first couple of weeks, I talked a lot. Shared my ideas. Told them how I thought they should handle things. And they were super gracious to me in my over-enthusiastic attempts to solve their problems. But somewhere around the end of week two, I felt like the Lord was reminding me over and over again to keep my mouth shut. I mean, He didn’t say, “SHUT UP” or anything like that – thankfully God’s a whole lot more patient than I am and not even a little bit rude – but almost every time I’d open my mouth to “fix” something, I’d get that check in my spirit that sounded a lot like, EASY, GLADYS. NOT SO FAST. DIAL IT BACK A NOTCH. LET HER TALK.

It’s been such a good lesson.

For those first few weeks after school started, I felt consistently overwhelmed by the new work stuff. And at least a small part of that, I think, was that I wanted to do my best to help but couldn’t figure out how to manage my days. People floated in and out of my office. I couldn’t plan what my day would look like. I missed the structure of my junior English class and the element of control that comes with HERE. LET ME TEACH YOU ABOUT JAY GATSBY. I HAVE SOME POINTS. YOU’RE GONNA WANT TO WRITE THEM DOWN.

It’s so much better now, though. I’m still smack dab in the middle of a big ole learning curve, but I’m figuring out how to flex a little more. I’m don’t feel pressure to fix everything because I’m reminded every day that the Lord’s timing is so much better than mine. It is a kick – A KICK – to see the Lord at work and marvel at how intricately He designs the details of people’s lives. And I told David tonight that I’m learning – slowly but surely – that what I’m really getting to do every day is see how Light ripples and bounces when it gets to shine in dark places. Each day preaches a new and different and beautiful sermon.

All that to say (after almost a thousand words of rambling): I feel a little bit like I’m in transition. David and I now have a boy who is finding his way and loving life and starting to figure out who he is and what makes his heart beat a little faster. I’m doing this new thing at work, and in the strangest way it feels as natural to me as writing does. It’s a different side of my personality, but the days are full and they fly by and by and large they are a blast. And then there’s this new book that comes out in about four months, and while I do feel all kinds of vulnerable about the fact that people may read it and decide they don’t like it or the first one was better or whatever, the process of turning it over to my publisher and letting go of it, so to speak, has been such a relief that I can’t even describe it. I held on to it long enough. It’s time for it to move on.

I didn’t mean for this post to turn so reflective, by the way. It was gonna be light and breezy. But I’ve been reminded so much lately that this is such a sweet, rewarding phase of life, which is sort of ironic because ten years ago I would have told you that there was nothing about the mid-40s that sounded even remotely fun to me. I always thought I’d be so sad to not be the mama of a little one anymore. But as it turns out, I’m not sad at all. I’m just grateful. I turn 45 in a couple of days – FORTY-FIVE – but I don’t feel a single bit of the inner freak-out that 40 dumped on the front doorstep of my mind and my heart. Earlier today I was trying to figure out how to put this particular time in my life into words, and here’s what I came up with:

GIDDY UP.

So maybe I should warn you that 45 may not be a particularly eloquent time for me.

Thankfully Mumford & Sons can express themselves way better than I do. I heard the song “Below My Feet” about an hour ago, and this right here? THIS IS IT.

Keep the earth below my feet

For all my sweat, my blood runs weak

Let me learn from where I have been

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

GIDDY UP.