The link is a land mine

Yesterday was pretty much the worst day I’ve had in a while. No particular reason, just nothing and everything all piled in at once.

You know how you can go on for a long time, being content and ignoring things that might bother you until suddenly you just can’t ignore it anymore and it all comes out?

Yeah, that was pretty much my day.

I’m not really one to be needy – until I am.

I suppose everyone is allowed a shit day once in a while.

There were good things about yesterday, though.

I was introduced to Camel Joe (please baby Jesus and Mary just don’t click that link. Don’t do it.) and the wonder of a baby in goggles.

I suppose that could make anyone feel better.

In defense of black nails

I’m not one to be trendy, or even fashionable.

I realize this doesn’t come as much of a shock. I don’t imagine I exactly convey an it-girl with-it vibe.

It’s not that I don’t want to be snappy and sassy and on top of things, it’s just not something that comes easily to me. I very much feel all Devil Wears Prada heroine, in a way. You know at the beginning where Andi’s all unconcerned and kind of frumpy? That’s totally me, except at the end she gets made over and gets what she wants while she has perfect hair and designer jeans. That’s not me.

And I’m okay with that.

Except sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I really wish I could wear ruffles and curl my hair and lotion and coif.

I can’t. I’d very much like to put on a belt and a dress and not be concerned that I look like a basset hound in a tutu, but something – I guess it’s just left over high school insecurity? – keeps the squirminess at the forefront.

The thing is, I’m thirty one years old. I realize that’s not old, but…I really feel it’s too old to be still seeking out my style. Or to even care about my “style” in the first place.

I few months ago I started painting my nails. It was the first time in my life I’d been able to paint them and not feel like they looked awkward and inappropriate, and as stupid as it sounds, it made me feel good. Typing with lacquer tipped fingers felt a little more…polished, pardon the pun.

But I didn’t really care for the colors. I tried them all, since lucky for me I have a seven year old girl.

Bright orange. Blech.
Purple, which I was sure I’d like and didn’t.
Deep, maroony red. It was called “Rock Star” or something strange.
Green. It looked a little like my fingers were rotting.
Pink. With all my girlish aspirations, it still didn’t surprise me that it looked ridiculous.

Then for some reason I picked up a bottle of black. Lingerie, or something equally lame.

I had no intention of growing gothic talons or anything, but I’d seen dark manicures. Something about it appealed.

As with everything, I did some quick Googling.

I found this, and remarkably I understood every word. I knew those feelings, those lines of thought.

So I did it. I slathered my nails with the glossy tar, and it was…amazing. I didn’t feel like a rock star but I felt – different. A little edgy. Like just by having the testicles to have black nails I became a little bit of a badass.

I realize this sounds ridiculous. I know they’re just fingernails. I know that to even feel like this about what color they are is petty and asinine.

But it’s a happiness I’ve found.

And it doesn’t hurt anyone, though Josh acts pained every time.

So black they are. And I’ll pretend they make me tough and cutting edge, deep and meaningful, even as I struggle with lace and frills, bangs and belted waistlines.

Maybe the stereotypes aren’t all wrong.

I recently wrote a post about how I feel about local businesses.

In that same vein, I’ve been doing some thinking. It’s a change for me. I don’t really think about my town that much.

For the relative whole of my life, I’ve lived in the same town. I’ve gone the same places, seen the same people. I used to hate it.

I think living here takes a certain type of person, or, well, certain types.

There are the types of people who are easily and naturally involved with everything, those drawly pageant girl belles who belong to auxiliaries and leagues and go to meetings with cucumber sandwiches. Girls who wake up every morning and curl their hair. Who bake in tanning beds and can wear pearls every day without it being ironic.

Then there are people like me. Misfit people who can fit in, but only for a time and only with great effort. People who can live in the same approximate area and never be recognized from one day to the next.

But you know, deep down, maybe we’re not even too different. I bet a lot of the same things hold meaning for us, just because of where we came from.

How Shiloh Road will never be anything other than The Strip.
How those first few muggy weekends of the fall still feel like football weather.
How the honeysuckle perfume in the summer heat can choke you.
How we know a magnolia blossom smells best right before it starts to wilt.
How the papermill smell can overpower the whole town.
How a slugburger from Borrum’s tastes distinctly different than one from the White Trolley.
How impassable the streets are on the day of the Christmas Parade.

At face value I suppose there’s a lot of ways the people of my town are different, just like anywhere else. One only has to see the variety of church denominations to know that, and maybe stand by and listen during a political rally.

But we’re more than our face value because of the common factors we share. No matter how much we resist our sameness, it’ll always be there. Like the railroad, or the red clay. We are a part of our own corner of the globe, and we forget how important our simple surroundings can be. How much they make us individuals in our own right.

But then…a flood. A storm.

We realize then that we all depend on the same things, because at those times it’s forced upon us.

And those times – when people are desperate, shocked and hurting – we are reminded that as different as we are, we are a part of the community.

No, we are the community. And if we don’t take care of each other and the memories that make up our shared identities, then no one will. It will be lost, and then all people will have to go by are Faulkner novels and Eudora Welty.

I don’t want it to be lost. I want my kids to grow up with the privilege of loving and hating their town, for the same reasons I did. I want to look back and be able to share memories with them. Memories of the same trees, roads, hills and buildings. Maybe even some of the same people.

So I’ve thought about all this. And I realize that as corny as it sounds, I think I like my small town.

Photos courtesy of Joshua Steen, who takes great pictures and makes cute babies.

Writing Prompt #287

Use these two metaphors in a poem: “an inch of scorn” and “a cradle of beliefs”

It was never easy being the one who was different.
Never a sigh out of place but a gut filled with longing
Somewhere I knew there would answers abound
But I was behind. Blind.
Out of touch.
There were things to say
Bursting to be born from my thoughts
But they wouldn’t have listened.
They would have read their preferred reaction
In their leather bound books of exclusion,
nestling back into the cradle of their belief
Assured that they would come out the winners.

And where it hurt me before,
Shattered the shell I’d constructed
Left open and raw,
Now it was healing.
Replacing the ache for approval,
I look down and sideways,
Never allowing one
Within an inch of my scorn.

There could be another way,
Soothing and warm,
Buttered over with forgiveness and acceptance
But we seem to prefer ice
Sharp words and looks
And separating the different
From the different
In another way.

Turning tables

This is an unfair arrangement we have here.

You know so much about me.
My husband’s name.
My kids’ names.
The damn dog’s name.
My living arrangements.
That I let my children listen to inappropriate music and tv shows.
That I have overshare issues.

But aside from a few of you (hi Mom!), I have no clue about you.

Are you young?
Are you old?
Are you agoraphobic?
Do you like elephants?
Do you have a blog?
Can I read it?
Did you finish college (by the way, did I mention I’m starting school in a few weeks? Exciting.)?
Do you spend lots of time reading blogs written by strange Southern women?
Do you have wall hangings?

Normal bloggers who aren’t me would have some sort of contest. A giveaway to entice comments.
Me? I’d like to do that. However, I have nothing to give. I suppose I could make you something out of yarn. Sound appealing?

Maybe I’ll do that. So leave a comment, tell me about yourself, leave your link…and then if I can think of something to make for you, I’ll draw a name and make it. How about them apples?

Antisocially awkward

I have no clue when my life became so disconnected.

Obviously not “disconnected” in the sense of being offline or off the grid or anything like that, because that would be, you know, a travesty. I mean, if I didn’t know when Suzy Jane was irritated with some random coworker whom I’ll never meet or know, then…my god, my eyeballs might bleed for sheer lack of knowledge.

I mean I can go days and days and only come into real human contact with my kids, my husband, and Dan, and I only realize that it’s weird after the fact.

I keep up with people via Facebook and twitter, and while it’s great and I love it, I wonder what it’s actually doing to my ability to interact with flesh and blood people.

Not that Twitter and Facebook people aren’t flesh and blood people. It just becomes easier to overlook their flesh and bloodliness since they’re behind a screen/phone/whatever.

It’s easy to make a shitty life appear shiny and flawless if you don’t actually have to interact. I find myself glossing over a lot of things, especially on Facebook. It’s not that I’m being dishonest, it’s just that I don’t want to say, “Boy today sucks,” and then be bombarded with “O no watz wrong? :(” or “You’re in my prayers,” or directed to read 1 Davinia 4:11 by some chick I knew in 1993 because it will certainly cure all my woes.

If my husband’s being a shit, I can’t say that because it’s like I’ve posted an ad for amateur marriage counselors and evaluations of my relationship when in reality, I’m being too touchy or he’s just being grumpy and before the bytes have crackled to the online we’re already back to normal.

I’m not knocking the caring or sincerity of the Facebook community, but…you know.

So I wonder if we’ve all been lured into thinking we live in some storybook universe, just because people interact by being removed. We have a false sense of what’s normal, what’s not.

I don’t think enough people are honest about their problems. People fight. People make mistakes. People get annoyed with the people they love most. And then people get over it.

But the Internet doesn’t get over it. The Internet has a long memory.

Maybe I just need to get out more.

Even from afar

Yesterday’s post got me plenty of feedback. Facebook messages, emails. It was comforting.

But what’s wrong with you people that you can’t leave comments? I probably need to give something away or something.

The best thing about yesterday was a phone call I received.

I generally make a practice of not answering my phone. I’m a screener. Most of the time I see who’s calling and even if it’s someone I like, I don’t answer.

This is yet another one of the weirds I harbor. I hate the phone. I hate to talk on it and I hate the immediacy of it. I have no idea why. For things like work I don’t have a problem with it. I can talk all day long about whatever I am officially supposed to know about.

It’s just something about personal chat. My lack of social skills plays heavily into this. I’m terrible at small talk, so much so I will tell gut wrenching details about my life to a complete stranger in an effort to fill an awkward silence (says the girl with the blog written to everyone and no one). You see me at a party and unless I know you well, you are in very real danger of hearing about baby poop/weight loss/bounced checks/alien intelligence.

So yesterday, my phone rang with a huge long number that I knew was international, and instead of muting it (sorry Amanda but that is totally my way), I answered.

And I’m so glad I did.

Amanda is one of those friends I never see (because she up and moved across a damned ocean), but who will always hold a special place in my soul.

I never talk to her really, because she lives in England and while in theory I should be an excellent keeper-in-toucher by email/messages/whatnot, I am not. Our communication mainly consists of her beautiful Christmas cards and Facebook comments.

Yesterday we exchanged a couple of Facebook messages, and then the phone call.

And the reason I love Amanda is because she can say things like “Did you say all that to make me feel better? Because it totally didn’t,” and it won’t hurt my feelings at all.

Talking to her is like aloe on a sunburn and it’s my own stupid ass fault I don’t do it more.

There wasn’t a lull in the entire 30 minute conversation, and when I hung up I felt simultaneously closer and farther away. Lonely and not. Does that sound weird? It should because it is, but there’s no other way to describe it.

I should be more careful with my friends. Especially those who are so precious. There are so few of them. I’m sorry. I’ll do better.

Writing Prompt #343



Start your story with this line: Her laugh broke the silence.

Her laugh broke the silence out of nothing – she hadn’t known it was coming or been able to stifle it.

Everything froze, and from the lowered kneeler levels behind sixty pews, every eye in the room sought her out.

The back of her neck burned with the effort of stillness, and she leaned into herself as if in earnest prayer while the tissues in her hand suddenly grew moist. Inches away, her sister’s stifled laughter at her discomfort shook through the wooden seat of the bench.

After a few cleansing breaths she dared to peek.

Everyone was still staring.

What the hell? Did everyone get a memo? Normal people pretend stuff like that never happened. What’s wrong with these people?

She closed her eyes again and waited. Surely music had to start, ashes and incense, wine and wafers…right?

Surely they couldn’t be waiting for her to acknowledge her misstep. And why had she laughed anyway? It was a sad occasion, stiflingly so. The woman up there would soon be reduced to the contents of an urn. She had loved her so. Even thinking about it now, her breath caught and she felt the tears return.

And with the tears, another laugh. Echoing off the walls and windows and caught in her throat all at once. The eyes, already watching her, grew wider.

Stop it, stop it, stop it, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

It was like the clock of awkward had reset itself and now something had to be done or they’d all be sitting in accusatory silence for hours. These people must have knees of steel.

Somewhere, mercifully, an organ began to play softly.

She took advantage of the distraction by banging her ankles in the escape from the kneeler, keeping her eyes down and moving quickly.

Looking back before ducking out the door, she thought of how amusing her laughter would have been to the one they were all there to honor. Maybe it was a message. A wink from the beyond.

What had they done? Why was it all about them?

She made her way into the sunshine, laughing until she cried.

At least I can admit it.

I said in an earlier post that my husband has spent the last couple of months in rehearsals for a local production of Bye Bye, Birdie. Remember?

I don’t know how much any of you know about community theatre – and I know some of you know a lot – and while pretty much everyone has a place to be involved, the one thing it does take a lot of is time.

I’m no stranger to this. Community theatre has been a constant in my life for years. It came with the territory when Josh and I became an us, much like golf, Alabama football, and only pooping when I’m alone.

So Josh has been away with rehearsals and such, and the show went up this weekend. He was fantastic – they pretty much all were.

My thing is, I’m glad he’s having such fun. He’s made new friends and he’s doing what he loves. I would never, ever begrudge him something he loves so much, especially because I love seeing him so happy. And I know that feeling. I get the same feeling on a smaller scale just by writing every day and knowing one or two people read it.

Have I made my point sufficiently, that I’m glad he’s happy and doing what he’s so good at? I want to make it clear that I don’t want to take anything away from him.

But the last time I was this jealous, I was nine and my sister was getting her driver’s license.

I know it’s awful.
I know it’s childish.
I hate that I’m even admitting this.

I mean, it hasn’t been bad.

I’ve spent lots of time with the kids. Lucy’s saying real words now, and I can’t say I haven’t been having fun.

I’ve….made lots of things. I’ve watched lots of Yo Gabba Gabba.

I got to go watch Josh perform and I sat practically bursting with pride.

But it’s like he has this whole other life. One that I’m not a part of and that I’m not invited to.

And the nine year old inside me wants to scream and punch and keep him here with me so if I don’t have fun, no one does.

I know that’s not how it works. I know I would just be miserable if I made him miserable like that. And I would do nothing but resent him if he tried to corral me in that way.

I don’t need to be told to join a group, or go make some friends, or get a hobby.

I don’t want to do that. Can you not see I’m whining?

I know that one day the kids will grow and I will have free time again. I’ll miss these days of cartoons and board games and lots of mud.

I’ll look back and remember how proud of my thespian husband I am. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

But right now, I just need to be a brat.

I’ll be over it soon.

Art from nataliedee.com

Next stop, prostitutery

Lately, along with wanting to make clothes and bake cakes, I’ve found myself wanting to write more and more. I always heard that creativity begets creativity. I don’t know how much of what I write qualifies as creative, but I have certainly been writing more since I decided to write/post every day. I am always afraid that saying so much will soon turn into telling far too much, but I fear I burned that bridge long ago.

I’ve said before that I’ve always written. Well, that’s not always true. I’ve gone through long, long black spots of producing nothing beneficial at all…but somehow, I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. I suppose I’ve always known it was where I’d return.

I decided a while back that perhaps, if I ever wanted to write more than this blog, that I might do well to find myself a writing partner – someone to bounce ideas off of, research, plot and plan, and generally just collaborate with creatively.

And as weird as it may sound, I don’t know that I would really be able to do that with someone I actually knew. Despite all my flittery, I really am quite insecure about how people regard me in person.

I thought that the concept of a writing partner might be a little strange, but Google told me otherwise. That made me feel a little better.

Now the only mystery was how to find someone who wouldn’t go all Single White Female on me.

To be honest, I have this fairytale Beaches scenario in my head, where I correspond with some faraway person and we finally meet when our first book is released to massive crowds.

I never said I was realistic.

I found this website called http://www.co-writers.com that seemed to be just what I was looking for. So I made an ad.

Hardest thing I’ve ever written.

It was like a cross between a dating profile, a personals ad, and a business resume. These are things that should never, ever go together. Ever.

I’m not really expecting much, but I figured it was worth a shot.

If I come up missing in the next few months, that’s what happened.