Friday, October 29, 2010


I rarely remember my dreams.  From time to time I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of a particularly troubling dream.  Those dreams I well remember.  During our early years of marriage, I had a recurring dream in which I was stranded on a deserted road in the middle of some barren wasteland.  In the far distance, I could see a tiny red car speeding in my direction.  As the car drew nearer, I saw that it was a little red convertible sports car.  I began to wave my arms relieved that someone had at last come to my rescue.  Jumping up and down and waving waving big X's over my head, I was shocked when the car sped past me without slowing down even the tiniest bit.  Even more shocking was the fact that it was Alan who waved back at me from the driver's seat.  Next to him in the passenger's seat was some beautiful blonde whose long shiny locks gracefully streamed behind her in the breeze.  As they zipped away into the distance, I sat in the middle of the road and cried my eyes out.  Waking from this dream generally meant that Alan would have to endure my silence and consternation for the first few hours of the day.  "Why am I always the BAD guy in your dreams?!"  "That's a good question, Alan.  Why do YOU think that you're the bad guy in my dreams?  Hmmm?"  

For years after I "retired" from school teaching to raise our boys, I had recurring school teacher nightmares.  I dreamt that I couldn't remember the names of any my students during my principal's classroom observation.  I dreamt that I got all the way to school before noticing that I wasn't wearing shoes.  Or, I was in my bathrobe.  Oh, there's the one where I couldn't remember where my classroom was, so I nonchalantly wandered the building trying to figure out which class didn't have a teacher.  It seems that most school teachers suffer from similar dreams.  I guess accountants and grocery store managers have their own special brands of night terrors.  "My calculator had only letters....NO NUMBERS!"  "We were totally out of sacks, so we had to load the customers' pockets with lemons and cans of tomato soup!"

My favorite dreams are those in which I am able to take a little running start, flap my arms, and soar up into the sky.  I fly high in the clouds.  I skim just above rooftops.  I fly away from bad guys trying to catch me.  I fly to meetings because it's faster than driving.  There are times when I barely flap my arms and simply float on the breeze.  There are times when my wild flapping makes my hands numb.  Sometimes I land nonchalantly on crowded sidewalks and fall in step with the lowly walkers.  Sometimes I land in treetops and spy on unsuspecting neighbors from my hideout in the leaves.  It never rains or snows during these dreams.  It's always sunny, springlike weather with a soft warm breeze rustling through my hair.  Apparently, my flying self does not live in West Texas. 

Alan has dreams about college.  His nightmares include forgetting to go to class until the last week of the semester and not being able to remember his class schedule at all.  He was always a diligent student who stayed on top of his reading assignments, so dreams of academic irresponsibility can cause him to toss and turn through the night.  My college dreams center around wondering how everyone knows where they are supposed to be.  My roommate goes to classes and studies.  Me?  I can't figure out how she even knows to do that.  I can't recall that in these dreams I ever feel particularly nervous about missing all my classes.  Oops!  Oh, well!

My mother has convoluted, bizarre dreams that she likes to share in excruciating detail.  "I was walking down the street and a bunch of babies came crawling from the other direction.  I tried to pick them all up at the same time, but my hat kept falling off.  It was a pretty blue hat that my daddy gave me for my 20th birthday, and it cost a lot of money!  I was worried that those babies were all going to start crying at the same time!  I just didn't know what on earth I would do with all of those crying babies!  Finally, I decided that their mothers would all figure out that their babies had wandered off and would eventually come find them.  So, I put them all down and went to get ice cream."  "That's so weird, Mom."  "Aren't you going to ask me what kind of ice cream I got?!  Well, it was chocolate!  Two scoops on a waffle cone!"   For years she poured herself a morning cup of coffee and dialed up Aunt Wanda.  "Guess what I dreamed last night?!"  Sweet, sweet Wanda would listen and respond appropriately - "Really?!"  "My goodness!"  "Is that right!?"  "What were those mothers thinking?!" - while sipping on her first few cups of coffee of the day.  

Then, there came a time when my mom would call me and say, "Guess what song I woke up singing?!"  "I don't know Mom.  What song did you wake up singing?"  Invariably, she would sing the answer to my question.  Her tiny soprano voice warbled into the phone line through the air and into my handset.  "When we allllllll get to heaven...what a day of rejoicing it will beeeeee...When we all see-ee Jeee-ZUS...We'll sing and shout the vic-to-reeeeee!"  "Mom, are you feeling OK?"  "Yes.  I don't think I'm going to see Jesus today, but, if I do [again, singing] I'll SING and SHOUT the vic-to-reeeee!"  A few days later I might answer the phone and hear the sweet strains of "I come to the gar-den a-loooooooone!  While the dew is still on the ro-o-ses!  And, the voice I hear...falling on my ear...the Son of God disclo-o-sessssss. [dramatic pause] Annnnnnnd, heeeee walks-with-me, and he talks-with-me, and he tellllllllls me I am his ooooooooown!  And the joooooooy we shaaaaaare as we tarry therrrrrrrrre [again, the pause] none otherrrrr has everrrrrr knooooooooooown!"  Followed by a lilting, "It's your mother calling!  Don't you think that it's neat that I wake up with a hymn on my lips?"  I would have probably chosen the word "unsettling," but I didn't want her to know that I was kind of freaking out by these morning choral epiphanies.  I could  hear myself saying, "That morning she called and sang three stanzas of Amazing Grace to me!  She sounded just fine!  Then..."  

I wish I could remember more of my dreams.  I wish that I woke up with hymns of praise on my lips.  Instead, I wake up with cotton mouth and wild woman hair wishing that I could stay in my cozy bed for another hour or so eating Honey Nut Cheerios while watching Lifetime movies like "Heart of a Stranger, Soul of a Fiend" or "In Her Mother's Footsteps Wearing Her Father's Shoes."  Until the good Lord sees fit to imbed the notes of songs into my early morning consciousness, I guess I'll just have to call Mom and put her on speaker phone.  "It's VIC-TOW-RY in JE-E-SUS!  My SAV-YORE FOR-E-E-VER!  He SOUGHT meeee and BOUGHT meeee with HIS re-DEEM-ING BLOOOOOOOD!"

Amen, Sista!  Amen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One More Time! Let's Hear if for the Encore Azalea!!

So far this week, I've clocked in 7 hours with my mom, the octogenarian.  Yesterday, I went over to her place to help her pot some of the plants that we picked up for her in Waco last weekend.

When one is moving one's mother from her home of 30+ years, one will make wild promises to ensure the positive attitude of said soon-to-be-displaced mother.  "Yes!  You can take 5 sets of china!"  "Of course, I'll pack up all of your holiday decor!"  "I think that you should take as many plants from your yard as your little heart desires!"  The sad and guilty feelings an adult child feels when it comes to ripping an aged parent from his or her homestead create a fertile environment in which false promises tend to spring up like pesky weeds.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Hold it right there.  Surely I di-ant throw that promise out there!  The one about moving all those plants.  I just had to go and open my big, fat mouth.

Where was I...oh, yes...potting plants at Mom's.  First I must explain that while I was slaving away packing up her stuff in Waco, Little Mother was sitting on the couch talking to her landscaper on the phone.  "David, what do you think will grow in Lubbock?...Is that right!?...Is it in the same gardening zone as Waco?...Oh, I see....Blue Plumbago [plum BAY go]?...Turk's Cap?...What about my climbing rose?...Oh, goody!!!...AND, my Encore Azaleas?!...Oh, boy!!"   David promised that he would dig up all the plants from her yard in Waco that she could grow in Lubbock and store them in his greenhouse until she was all settled in at her new apartment at Raider Ranch.  Thanks, David.  Thanks a lot.

Last Friday, we closed on her house in Waco.  As we headed home on Sunday, the flora that sprang from the back of our Suburban made us look like the Beverly Hillbillies moving to some sort of arboretum.  Six hours later, we pulled up to her little apartment porch and began to unload her "babies."  You would have thought that it was Christmas in the Garden of Eden.  "Oh!  I'll bet that's my Blue Plumbago!"  "That's got to be my Turk's Cap!!"  "I see my Encore Azalea!"  She was clapping her little hands together with glee.  Ruh roh.  Here we go.  "Uh, Mom, David couldn't actually dig up scrubs because of the new homeowners and all."  "But, isn't that my azalea right there?"  "No, Mom, that's your New Guinea Impatiens."  (To her credit I must say that the impatiens were the size of small shrubs.  What with her macular degeneration and all, I could certainly understand her confusion.)  "David said that he was going to send me an Encore Azalea in that pot."  The woman knows each of her terra cotta pots by name.  I kid you not.  "No, Mom.  Remember, it would have made the flowerbed look weird if one of the azaleas had been quarried out of the ground leaving a gaping hole in the hedge row."  "Oh, yes.  I remember."  (Remember that word, "remember."  It's the key to the whole two hour Potting Plants with Mimi episode.)

From there, the potting session was more like the "Who's On First" comedy routine.  However, instead of laughing, I was biting the inside of my cheek and praying that the good LORD would either kill me dead with a bolt of blue sky lightening or heap patience and peace upon me like thick, gooey honey.  

"Mom, before I get all busy potting these, we need to figure out where they're going on your porch.  Once that dirt gets in there, the pots will be too heavy to lift."  "Well, the Encore Azalea is going to need part sun/part shade."  Deep breath, Carolyn.  Remember your breathing exercises.  "Actually, Mom, that's the New Guinea Impatiens.  I'm going to go ahead and dig it out of this wonderful pot since it's almost time for a freeze."  "Hmmm.  I guess that would be all right."  The "Hmmm" let me know that she wasn't sure that I knew the difference between the two plants.  "What shall I put in this pot, Mom?"  "Hmmm.  I guess you can put my Blue Plumbago in there."  "Which one is the Blue Plumbago?"  "Hmmm.  Does that look like one in that little pot over there?"  At this point, I trudge inside and return with her well-worn Neal Sperry gardening book opened to the Blue Plumbago page.  Satisfied that we had correctly identified the plumbago auriculata, Mom slipped back inside on some sort of mission.

Once the Plumbago was nestled down in its pot, I moved on to the Turk's Cap which had been transported from Waco in one of those big black plastic containers in which large bushes are generally sold.  Sure enough, I had to work really hard to get that little bugger to release the pot.  When it did, the roots proved to be long and tangly.  By now, I have dirt on the knees of my jeans and my hands are filthy.  A piece of hair has blown across my lipstick adhering itself in such a way that camouflaged it so that I could not quite put my finger on where the tickle was coming from.  My satanic irritation was beginning to mount.  Potting soil was flying, and I was shoving those roots down into the pot assuring them that they would never see daylight again in my lifetime.

As I was sweeping up the piles of potting soil surrounding the Turk's Cap pot, Mom stepped back out on to the porch to have me look at a pair of pants that she had purchased at Chico's the day before during our one hour "shopping spree."  "Do these look too tight across the bottom?"  Brushing the hair out of my face with my forearm, I watched her turn slowly with her arms raised slightly like a model showing off a ball gown.  Sure enough.  A wee bit too tight.  Decisions, decisions.  Tell her the truth knowing that it would cost me another trip to Chico's or hope that she would only wear the pants with long jackets?  "Er, uh...yes.  Yes, they are a bit tight.  All I can do right now is garden.  I can't do garden and fashion all at one time."  "OK.  I just wanted to see what you thought.  I'll bet that pot with the Turk's Cap is too heavy for you to move.  It might need a bit more sun that it will get in that corner."  "Nope.  Can't move it.  It will take three 250 pound men to lift this thing."  "You can't sort of push it a little bit at a time?"  The eye twitching from the Chico's trip the day before returns.  With a cheerful pasted smile on my face I say, "Nope.  No can do, Kemo Sabe."  "Hmmm.  OK."  I quickly busied myself with scooting her Stella D'ora day lilies potted in small blue pots over to the side of the porch where they will certainly enjoy full sun to partial shade here in lovely Zone 7.

Next, I tackled the climbing rose with its flower pot sized fleur de lis topped trellis.  Prickly thorns.  Stubborn branches.  Hair stuck to lipstick.  Knees of jeans stiff with wet potting soil.  Oh, happy day.  Mother reappears in her old Chico's black jeans - Size .5 Short.  "These must be my Extra Wide .5 Chico's jeans because I have to have a belt to keep them up." [See yesterday's blog for backstory on the Wide Chico's jeans.  I'll give you a hint.  Chico's jeans DON'T COME IN WIDE OR EXTRA WIDE.]  I remain respectfully silent.    

"That pot looks pretty!  Are those my azaleas?!  Everyone here LOVES my French berets!  Both men and women have said that I look cute in them!  I remember getting this one on sale at Dillards right before Christmas the year Jonathan graduated from high school!  Everyone at Raider Ranch thinks that you're the BEST DAUGHTER IN THE WORLD!  I had the rest of the chicken-and-dumplings-and-turnip-greens last night.  I heated them in the microwave for 62 seconds!  This Spring, I'm going to plant a hot pink hibiscus in that big green ceramic pot.  Do you think that will look pretty with azaleas?"

I'm beginning to believe that the people at Raider Ranch are right.  My little mother looks just downright adorable in her French berets.  And, I may very well be the BEST DAUGHTER IN THE WORLD.  I'd be willing to bet 3 Encore Azaleas and a Blue Plumbago on it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken & Dumplings with a Side of Turnip Greens

On Tuesday, I cleared up my calendar so that I could take my little 84-year-old mother to get a pedicure.  She was long overdue.  This is how a simple errand "goes down" when you're dealing with my mother.

Phone call to Mom
Me:  Hey!  Would you like to go for that pedicure today?
Mom [delighted]:  Ohhhh, that would be nice!  And, while we're out, I'll treat you to lunch at Cracker Barrel!  [She has had a hankering for Cracker Barrel's chicken & dumplings with a side of turnip greens for about a week.  She wasn't actually treating me to Cracker Barrel as much as she was bribing me to take her.]
Me [gaily despite my general "eh" feeling towards Cracker Barrel]:  That would be fine!
Mom:  Oh, and I could sure use some new jeans from Chico's!  I can't fit into my .5's anymore because I've put on some weight.  (Up to 118 from 114...) Would it be OK if we went there?
(I do the mental math...1 hour pedicure + 1 hour lunch (Mom eats very, very slowly) = 2 hours.  Add in an hour at Chico's...Mamma Mia!  I begin to do some self-talk.  "What on earth is more important than spending quality time with your precious little Mother?" And so on...)
Me [with all the enthusiasm I could muster]:  I'd love to!

I was running that morning, so by the time I picked Mom up it was 11:30.  I ran into her apartment and helped her put on her jacket and gather up her purse.

Me:  Mom, it's already almost lunchtime.  I've mapped out the errands and it's more efficient if we go to Cracker Barrel, then Chico's, then Q Nails.  It will be one big efficient circle.
Mom: Hmm.  ["Hmm" generally preceeds a "differing opinion."]  We could do that.  I guess that would be ok.  But...I would like to go straight to Chico's to try on jeans.
Me:  Are you sure?  Cracker Barrel is almost next door to Raider Ranch!
Mom:  I'm sure!  I don't like to eat right before I try on jeans because it makes my stomach too big.
Me [artificially gaily]:  OK.  We'll go to Chico's and then Q Nails.  We can have a late lunch at Cracker Barrel on the way back to the Ranch.
Mom:  That would be nice.

Right about now, I'm trying to channel my Aunt Wanda's endless patience and sweet demeanor.  Lots of self-talk is going on between my ears as off we go.  I'm already getting a little twitch around my right eye.  I have been to Chico's with Mom many times.  I'm not a big shopper.  My mom is a big, tedious shopper.  She's been known to approach a saleslady saying, "I need a blouse to go with a pair of purple pants I bought here on sale 1/2 price two years ago!  What do you think would look good?" or, simply, "What do you have that you think would look good on me?" or "I'm looking for that necklace that was in your catalog - towards the back - that came out last month.  I think the model was wearing it with something green."

We pulled out of the Ranch "compound" onto Milwaukee heading south.  "Mom, did you remember to bring your $35 off Chico's coupon that you've been saving?"  "I think so.  Let me check my purse."  Dig.  Dig.  Dig.  "I can't see it in here.  It sure would be nice to have it."  "Would you like for me to go back and get it?"  Then, without waiting for her answer because we all know what would be, I hooked a u-turn and headed back to her apartment.  Coupon found.  We were back on Milwaukee again heading south.  The time was now 11:45.

At Chico's, I quickly found a saleslady who could wander around the store answering Mom's many questions.  Mom never seems to believe me when I try to convince her that Chico's jeans have NEVER come in "wide."  They have "short."  They have "regular."  They have "long."  They have never had "wide."  Ever.  Sure enough, after trying on her first pair of jeans in Chico's size 1, she decides that she needs to bump up to a 1 wide.  I chuckled to myself as I went in search of the saleslady.  She was going to be earning her keep today!

While Mom was being pampered by at least two of the salesladies, I decided to try on a few things myself.  I found a really cool white no-iron cotton tuxedo blouse.  I modeled it for Mom and told her that it was a must-have for my meager wardrobe.  I generally never pay full price for any item of clothing, but this blouse wouldn't be around come sale time.  I headed back into my dressing room to change back into the white blouse that I had worn into the store.  (I have a "thing" for white no-iron blouses.  It's a habit that I can't seem to break.)

When I exited my dressing room, I found that Mom was no longer in hers.  Her purse was there, but she was not.  I looked towards the main area of the store and saw her little head bobbing amongst the racks.  The woman who can't find her way to the bathroom at McDonalds can hone in on just about any article of clothing clear across the Chico's sales floor from where the dressing rooms are located.  I watched as her black little French beret skipped from rack to rack.  She's been wearing French berets (red, black, or sky blue) to cover up her brain surgery scars and white hair (she can't get "color" until all her scabs have healed...) because "everyone at Raider Ranch thinks that I look SO cute in them - like a French lady!"  Soon, she returned holding up a size 1 white blouse like the one I just tried on in a larger size.  I sucked in my breath.  I don't mind if Mom wears the same Chico's jeans I wear, but the same white tuxedo blouse.  That was just too much.

After an hour of trying to find a pair of jeans that fit just as well as the imagined "wide" fits, we left Chico's with 2 big sacks of sale items.  Neither of the sacks contained a white tuxedo blouse.  Once I saw how cute it looked on her petite body, I couldn't bring myself to buy it.  Once she saw the "full" price, she couldn't bring herself to buy it either.  Off we go to Q Nails.  "We could go get the pedicure now, but I'm really hungry," she tells me, "We don't have to go all the way back to Cracker Barrel, I don't mind eating whatever is handy."  "Well, what are you hungry for?"  "Chicken & dumplings with a side of turnip greens."  Without a word, I pulled onto the loop and headed west for Cracker Barrel taking slow, measured deep breaths.

On the drive over, she began to repeat some of the little newsy items that she'd already told me a couple of times that morning.  Rather than tell her that she had already told me those things NUMEROUS times, I decided to mentally pay myself a dime every time she said a "repeater."  Here are some of the big money makers:
  • "My friends at Raider Ranch LOVE my French berets!  They think I look SO cute in them."
  • "I can't believe that lady at church (tiny service at Raider Ranch which about 10 people actually attend) remembered my name the second time she saw me!"  (I credit the French berets.)
  • "That eye doctor (retina specialist) said he didn't ever need to see me again!  My eye doctor in Waco wanted to check my eyes twice a year!"  (pork barrel Medicare fraud?)
  • "I've been sooo hungry for chicken & dumplings with a side of turnip greens at Cracker Barrel!"
  • "Every morning I get up early to go to the 'free' breakfast [long story...just go with it...] they have at Raider Ranch.  This morning I had eggs, some cantaloupe & strawberries, a raspberry Danish, coffee and juice!  It was so good!  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!" 
Two hours later, I returned her to her apartment at Raider Ranch and carried in her Chico's sack along with her Cracker Barrel chicken-and-dumplings-with-a-side-of-turnip-greens leftovers.  She told me that all of her friends at Raider Ranch think that she has the BEST DAUGHTER IN THE WORLD.  I gathered up her little Chico's size 1 body in a bear hug and kissed her soft, sweet cheek.  When I told her that I enjoyed getting to be with her all afternoon, I meant it.  No, really.  I meant it.  

You see, my mother drives me Kir-RAZY.  And, I adore her. 

By the way.  That $35 off coupon for Chico's?  Expired.

Involuntary External Expression Disorder: A Story of a Girl Who Just Can't Help It

I deeply envy people who can gracefully and empathetically tear up when listening to someone's bad news or woes.  Or, any sentence containing the word "diagnosis."  When I hear things like "my 93-year-old grandma has pancreatitis" or "my uncle's vertebrae was crushed under a 2-ton truck,"  I got nothin' but empathetically raised eyebrows combined with a 10 degree sideways head tilt.  In fact, I can't cry when everyone else is crying unless I vividly imagine my husband, Alan, walking out on me after cruelly wringing the necks of six cute puppies.  I save my tears for random times and places like 3PM in Hobby Lobby when I hear a song that reminds me of something sad.  Then, they flow.  Oh, how they flow.

I have is a condition that I refer to as Awkward Inappropriate Laughter Syndrome (AILS).  I laugh when all the world is silently weeping during solemn occasions and major accidents.  When I feel a spell coming on, I try to duck my head and put my hands over my face to make it look like I'm racked with sobs.  The tears that flow are generally belied by the guffaws that gurgle up from the pit of my belly.  I must admit that right now I'm braying like a donkey just thinking about my malady.  Pardon me while I reach for a box of Puffs Plus.

There now.  All better.

One of the first episodes of AILS that comes to mind occurred when my dear friend, Kristi Hook, almost drowned in the Carthage public pool.  We were probably about 10 years old at the time.  Kristi, Penny (her cousin) and I spent hours at the pool performing water ballets and synchronized swimming numbers.  We scored each other's dives on a scale of 1 to 10.  Pointed toes were considered essential elements of executing the perfect swan dive from the low board.  Which brings me to "the incident."  We were practicing our running dives on the low board.  This feat began at the back of the board with a dramatic swoop of the arms and ended in the water with a dainty splash.  Kristi mounted the board, narrowed her eyes in concentration, and took a deep breath before the swooping of her arms.  Then, she took off trotting down the board.  Somewhere along the path, one of her feet missed the sandpaper no-slip surface and skimmed along the smooth 2" outer portion of the board.  What happened next...well, let's just say that it happened in slow motion and the arm swooping was unbecoming to say the least.  Trying to regain her balance, she resembled a cartoon character whose body was twitching and turning inside out after accidentally swallowing Tabasco from a bottle marked "Tonic."  All I could hear were the sound effects, "DINK-donk-dunk...DONK-dunk...DINK-donk-dunk...DONK-dunk!"  As she crawled out of the pool crying with her hair streaming down over her face, my spasms began.  Try as I might, I couldn't help myself.  I began to laugh so hard that I had to cross my legs tightly to maintain any kind of continence.  On the bike ride home, Kristi and Penny gave me the silent treatment as I peddled alongside them on my banana bike snorting with laughter.

Oh, this one is bad.  I'm ashamed to recount the story, but for the sake of getting the word out about AILS, I will bare my soul.  This one happened a funeral.  (You  just cringed, didn't you?  Yes.  You did.)  It was the funeral of a high school classmate.  Losing her was sad beyond words.  She and I had been good friends for several years.  We called each other by our backwards names.  I was "Nylorac."  She was "Aseret."  It was the first time I had lost a friend.  I was very inexperienced when it came to funeral etiquette.  Finding strength in numbers, two friends rode with me to the funeral.  The parking lot was full when we arrived, so we were breathless as we trotted from our remote parking spot up to the funeral home entrance.  A small group of people was being ushered through a small door.  As we approached, we were directed by the funeral director's benign hand gestures to follow the others through the door.  It was a tight squeeze, but we ended up on one of the back pews in a tiny room.  I remember thinking, "I can't believe that this chapel is so, so small."  

Craning my neck, I could see another adjoining room set at a right angle to where we were sitting.  The pews were much longer than the ones in the room in which we were sardined.  Then, I saw the casket.  It was obvious that we were in some sort of "overflow" room because the open casket was facing the room with the larger pews.  Gazing over the people directly in front of me, I saw her.  Aseret's sweet mother.  I thought, "They put her MOTHER in the overflow room?!"  Anger welled up inside my chest.  Then, it hit me.  We had wandered into the family seating area and plopped ourselves onto pews alongside the very people who had known and loved our friend, Aseret, since the very day she was born.  My eyes went wide when I realized the magnitude of the disrespect that we had inadvertently heaped upon their heads.  I leaned over to whisper the news to my friend.  "We're in the family section!  We're supposed to be IN THERE!"  I gestured with a slight nod of the head towards the other room.  "What?" she tearfully whispered in reply.  Enunciating slowly and carefully, I hissed.  "THIS IS THE FAMILY SECTION!  WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!!!"  The shocked look on her woeful face triggered that old familiar feeling.  Giggles were bubbling up as I tried to squeeze them away with my stomach muscles.  Oh, the horror and shame of AILS!  She replied, "Well then, what are we doing HERE?!"  Oops, that ripped it.  I began to make little asthmatic whistling sounds as I squelched back the guffaws.  She turned to the friend beside her and gave her the bad news.  The pew was beginning to shake with my "sobs."  After a few hand gestures and nods of understanding, we made a break for it out the small door from whence we came back into the parking lot where we melted into fits of laughter.

I could go on and on.  I could tell you in detail the pain I felt holding back chuckles while I was having a conversation with a very important man who kept twitching his nose like a rabbit.  Or, the time I was at yet another funeral visiting with an elderly woman who was close to the deceased.  Imagine how hard I bit my lip when I noticed that she had accidentally painted on her eyebrows with her teal eyeliner and lined her eyes with her brown eyebrow pencil.  I think my lip actually bled a little.  One episode almost cost me my marriage.  We were skiing in Santa Fe.  Alan came to my rescue when I accidentally skied into a little copse of aspens.  As he gallantly extracted me from the deep snow, the ski pole I was using for leverage "came in contact with" his mouth chipping one of his front teeth.  To this day, he glares at me when the story is retold.  The glare is not about the tooth.  It is about the fits of laughter that followed the incident.

I'm pretty sure that there is a genetic piece to this puzzle.  Handed down through Williams family lore are tales that ring familiar.  There was the time that my mother attended Aunt Florence's funeral with Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Ruby.  They were all three stricken with a nasty bout of AILS when Uncle Jimmy absently told one of the ushers that they would like to sit on "the bride's side."  Aunt Wanda confessed to once faking sobs of heartache at the funeral of an ancient relative years ago.  If only her dad hadn't stuck out his false teeth right in the big fat middle of the service.  The people sitting behind her didn't help the situation at all by patting her shoulders with sympathy and concern. 

I actually did a bit of research on AILS.  Well, "research" would be a stretch.  I googled it.  What I found was quite interesting.  Apparently, my disorder has a name, "Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder."  I need to carry a card that I can present during embarrassing outbreaks to incredulous onlookers explaining my illness.  Perhaps, then, people would look upon me with empathetic, tearful eyes instead of with shock and horror.

Here it is in black and white.

"Our outer emotional expressions should be directly related to our inner mood and/or our thoughts.  If we talk about something funny, we should be smiling and even laughing.  If we talk about something sad, our facial expression should be sad.  When we have emotional expressions that are unrelated to the situation, conversation, or mood at the time, our emotions are poorly regulated and controlled.  Mental Health professionals have proposed a diagnosis of "Involuntary External Expression Disorder" (IEED).
-Dr. Joseph M. Carter, PhD

If you, too suffer from IEED (or AILS), please share your story.  It's time we shed some light on this contemptible, socially unaccepted syndrome.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baylor Homecoming 2010

As I sit here thinking back over the past two days, I can't believe that I belabored my fashion woes while wandering aimlessly through TJ Maxx and Steinmart for several hours last week.  Thankfully, I never made it to my old standby, Chico's.  Generally, when I need a "look" in a pinch, Chico's is my "money solvable" option.  My husband, Alan (the banker), taught me that nifty little phrase, "money solvable."  I think that the term is particularly apropos when it comes to last-minute-full-price-desperation shopping at Chico's.  Thankfully, last week I didn't take the time to make a pilgrimage to the mecca of cool, hip, and stretchy.

As it turns out, I've come to the stage in life in which I value the friendly faces and familiar laughter of my college friends more than their outer appearances.  I can remember very little about what any of them were wearing.  I am, however, still chuckling over the funny memories we shared.  We reverted back to the familiar.  "Donna Mo."  "Boomer."  "Garner." 

"Remember when 'Miss Walmsley' (a "Black Member" of our sorority...the term has nothing to do with the color of her skin and everything to do with how much she intimidated us) made us hold a lit match while we recited the Greek alphabet?!"  [In 1977, Black Members made us stronger, better pledges by making us feel like inadequate idiots.  In 2010, their methods would be considered hazing.]

"Guess what!  I actually saw Linda H. a couple of years ago in Austin!"
"Did you run and hide?"
"No, she was actually friendly!"
"She didn't ask you to name all of the active members from Plano who were majoring in either Education and Accounting?!"
"Nope!  She treated me like a human being!"

We lamented the fact that in today's world wearing a shirt that says XO "Pledge" is considered hazing.  We made cookies for members' boyfriends without so much as breaking a sweat.    We considered it an honor to "NEVER chew gum or walk on grass" until we were initiated into the Sisterhood.  Running across the street to greet a member by name was a rite of passage.  Carrying a pledge book 24-7 became second nature to us.  Those are the memories we hold so close.  The common suffering of neophyte wanna-be's.  They have bound us tight with a glue that keeps us coming back to each other year after year.

The conversation meandered through the forests of Ugly Pledge Dresses (Pledge Trainers were generally either Accounting or Biology majors - never Fashion Design.), Failed Finance Tests, and How Hard It Is to Actually Get Into a Sorority These Days.  I told about how I got my rush picture made in the basement of Sid Richardson where my on-campus job involved making ID pictures with a Polaroid camera.  I stood in front of the yellow backdrop and smiled while a student co-worker counted out 1...2...3 before snapping the shot.  I didn't even have a XO "Rec" until Pref Day.  If my dentist's wife hadn't been a XO alum, I just don't know what!  

There was the obligatory critiquing of the Pigskin acts.  "Their vocals were a bit off to say the least!"  "Loved, loved, loved their backdrop!"  "WE were the first to use the song 'Brand New Day' 30 years ago.  These young kids have no idea!  It is not a 'middle song!'  They shouldn't be allowed to use it unless they can prove that they fully understand its power as the Big Bang ending song!"  "And, can you believe that they didn't do any a cappella 3-part harmony?!"  And, so on.  And, so on.  Having participated in both Sing and Pigskin 3 decades ago, we felt totally qualified to carefully analyze each and every act detail by detail.  There was a moment of silence for the great acts of the days of yore.  The KOT chimney sweeps.  XO's Up the Ladder to the Roof.  Nacho Man.

We laughed at the fact that it took the collective minds of at least 3 of us to come up with the names of the people who "looked sort of familiar."  "Ohhh, wait a minute!  I know this one!  She was on the back row with me during Sing!"  "Is it 'Annie-something'?!"  "Hmm.  Annie...Annie?  Or, was it Becky?"  Our mental hard drives boot ever so slowly these days.

Yes, I'm still smiling this morning.  In hindsight, all I know is this.  Next year when I go to Homecoming 2011, I am going to wear something green and gold.  Our seats were smack dab in the middle of the Kansas State section.  In a sea of purple and white, we Lackeys seemed to be nondescript spectators of a random sporting event. Instead of wandering around Steinmart next October in search of "flattering and chic," I'm going to be surfing the net looking for some in-yo-face green and gold plaid pants with a matching t-shirt and fun SEE-ME-FOR-I-AM-BAYLOR hat.  None of my friends at the XO Breakfast will care what I wear.  We'll be laughing so hard that my brown knit sock-monkey-style-Baylor-Bear hat won't matter to them at all. 
Still crazy...after all these years.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"And, I'll seeeeeng. Onnnnnce. Moooooooooore."

Regally walking through the grass with her mother's half-slip on her head framing her face like a  delicate, lace-edged wimple, she clasps her small hands behind her back.  The 7 year old girl  begins to lightly hum the orchestral introduction.  As it crescendos, she slowly begins to spin with her arms swinging freely like helicopter blades,  then stops and gazes up with a faraway look in her eyes.  "Puh-duh-duh-Puh-duh-duh-duh-duh-pah-duh, duh, DUH-DUUUUH!"  Gulping in a lungful of air she begins operatically, "THUUUUUH hills are alive!  With the SOWnd of muuuuuzick!"  With her arms spread wide like angel wings, she gently steps towards the clothesline.  Toe-heel.  Toe-heel.

She reaches for its rusty pole with one hand and dramatically swings leaning as far out as her  little arm can stretch, her sandy blonde tresses wagging down past her shoulder, "With songs they have suuuuuuuuuung, for a thousand ye-ahs!"  Standing straight up, chin held high, with her hands  squeezed prayerfully at her chest, "Thuh hills fill my haaaaaawt with the sound of muuuuuuzick!  My hawt wants to seeeeng every song it iiiis [sic]! [softly echoes in Von Trapp child's voice]  "Every song that it is!"  Playfully she begins to skip along the side of the carport slowly emphasizing each note, each word, "My hawt wants to beat likethewings of the buhds that rise from the lake to the trees...[softly echoes] To the trees!"  

She rounds the front of the carport and heads towards the side of the house, "My hawt wants to sigh like a chime that FLIIIIIIIIIES, from a chuch on a breeze!!"  Leaning against the blossoming mimosa she smiles as she sings, "To loff like a brook when it trips and foals over stones on its waaaaaay!  [echo] On its way!"  Pausing, looking appropriately pensive raising her chin slowly skyward, "To SING through thu niiiiiiight, like a LOCK who is LUNNING TO PRAAAAAY!"

Arms outspread she glides to the front steps and slowly, dramatically sits singing, "IIIIIIIIIII go to the hills when my hawt is LONE -LEEEE."   She briefly pauses to milk the moment, then, looks forward front and center with new resolve and delicately warbles, "I KNOW I will heeeeeeeee-ah what I've heard BEFOOOOOOW!"  Standing squarely on both feet with her arms gracefully reaching forward with a gentle smile on her lips, "My hawt will be bul-essed, with the SOOOOWnd of Muuuuuzick!"  Her eyes cast dreamily to the ground, as she mellows for the poignant finish.  "And,  I'll... Seeeeeeeeeng.  Onnnnnnnnnnnce.  Mowwwwwwww!"  

A brief, humble curtsy as the applause swells, and Captain Von Trapp comes forward to gently, lovingly take her hand, eyes shining with adoration.  Together, tenderly gazing into each other's eyes, they walk toe-heel, toe-heel back to the mimosa tree and climb up into its branches.  "Ooooh,  Captain Von Trapp...I mean...Gay-org," she shyly grins, "we'll live happily forever in this mansion on the hill...for somewhere in our wicked, miserable pasts...we must have done...something...something goooooood."

Oh, how I miss the freedom of my childhood!  I'm jealous of small children who dance wildly in the middle of the mall.  Sometimes, it's all I can do to keep from bursting into a show tune as I gracefully ascend on the escalator in Dillard's.  "I'm FLYING HIGH! DEFY-YING GRA-VITY!"  Marching on the elliptical machine at Bodyworks:  "Do you HEAR the people SING? SINGING the SONGS of angry MEN?  IT is the music of a PEOPLE who will NOT be SLAVES AGAIN!!!!"  Within my shower "soundbooth":  "Seventy-six TROM-bones led the big PAH-rade!  With a HUNdred and TEN cornets close at hand!"

Those days are gone.  Maria Von Trapp no longer performs in the front yard.   "Gay-org" has moved on.  It's a cryin' shame I tell ya.  A cryin' shame.

The time has come for me to head to wardrobe and makeup for  Act II: Lunch with Friends.  I leave you with this, "POP-u-ler, it's ALL about POP-u-u-ler!"  

[lights fade.  curtain down.  the crowd roars.]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Company Clean

From the Lackey Family Lexicon:

straight en ['stratn]  
get the junk off of the floor, the bathroom counters, and off of the furniture in your room and stow it where Mom won't see it:  Boooooys!  Do not even dream of going outside to throw that football until you have straightened your rooms!

clean [kleen]  
wipe away or vacuum up the big chunks of crud so that the crud won't be noticed by visitors or intruders:  Dude, this sink is nasty!  Don't you even run the water when you brush your teeth?  The rinse-and-spit residue is clinging to the sides of the sink like Superglue.  Grab one of those Clorox wet wipes under the sink and clean this dental health abomination. 

company clean [kum pun ee kleen]
totally free from dirt, marks, stains, goo, odor, rinse-and-spit residue, or any other substance that would cause someone from the outside world to gag and/or moan:  Gentlemen!  I am having a committee meeting here in the morning at 9AM.  Get in there and get your rooms and bathroom company clean, or I'll...I'll...think up a consequence that will have you doin' some gaggin' and moanin'...don't test me on this one!  I mean it!

(Hopefully, the definitions above will help you gain a thorough understanding of all that follows.)

My boys HATE to clean anything but CDs, DVDs and computer screens.  Being the good mother that I am, instilling the desire to have a neat and tidy home that feels both welcoming and relaxing was high on my list of teachable values.  We had chore charts.  We had chores that one performed out of the joy derived from having a roof over one's head.  We had "overtime" chores that paid out healthy lump sums for those who wanted to savor the experience of "earning" and "delayed gratification."

I tried to make these experiential learning sessions fun by cranking up the Beatles on the stereo and offering fun prizes for things like Expediency and Thoroughness.  No joy in Mudville was to be found on Toilet Bowl Tuesdays or Scrub-a-Dub-Dub Saturdays.  Bryce, however, always seemed to be working towards a merit badge in Expediency.  During one of his bathroom tours of duty, I heard the vacuum cleaner echoing from the inner sanctum of the boys' latrine.  To me, the large-ish Hoover upright seemed to be a bit hard to maneuver in such a small, enclosed space to make vacuuming the tile floor even a smidge easier than sweeping.  

Bryce wasn't vacuuming the floor.  He was vacuuming the toilet. 

Me: [loudly, and not just to be heard over the wailing of the vacuum cleaner]:  Bryce!  What on earth!?  Water will ruin the vacuum cleaner!!!  [Note:  When training boys to vacuum, know that you will probably need a new vacuum cleaner every single Mother's Day.]

Bryce: [nonchalantly]:  Vacuumin' the commode.

Me:  You can't vacuum the commode!  You'll short out the vacuum, uh...I mean, risk electrocution!!

Bryce:  Sure you can.  I'm doing it!  Don't worry.  I'm not going to suck up any of the water or anything.

Sure enough.  The lid of the potty was raised, and Bryce was sucking up all of the vermin around the porcelain rim and sides that could be sent airborne up the tube by the tornadic winds of the Hoover.  I had to just bite my lip and walk away.  Walk away, Carolyn.  Just walk away, and no one will get hurt ...or see you laughing.

All of the above leads me to my present situation.  The lack of a luxurious hotel room in Waco this weekend for Baylor Homecoming has us trudging towards Plan B:  Stay at Bryce's Apartment.  

My dilemma:  Feeling clean after showering in his shower.  [When we moved him out of his last apartment, I had to use oven cleaner on the tile of the shower.]  

My solution:  Modesta!!  [Modesta was Mimi's housekeeper in Waco.  For way less than it would cost to relax in the cool, company clean comfort of the Courtyard, I could hire Modesta to go over and make Bryce's apartment just as company clean.] 

The following are the texts that have flown from my iphone to Bryce's this afternoon.  [None of the spelling or punctuation has been changed.]:

Bryce:  What time are we going to pigskin on Friday?

Me:  Early pigskin.  Did u talk to Modesta.

Bryce:  No, I don't speak spainish..  Me and Reed [Freshman brother] will just clean it for free.  We'll do a good job.

Me:  Modesta speaks English [barely]!  We would love to help you [I wanted it to seem like we were doing HIM a favor] by getting her to clean!  Mimi said that Modesta's v-mail is in Spanish.  You can leave a message in English.

[At this point, Bryce changes the subject to studying abroad.]

I've decided that this experience will give me a clear view of exactly what Mr. Toilet Bowl Vacuum-er learned during the years of my tutelage.  I grade on a pass/fail basis with absolutely no curve.  Just in case Bryce has "lost his touch" in the usage of the toilet brush, I will be packing some Clorox wipes and flip-flops.  Just wait until he gets a good dose of Mom's rinsin' and spittin'.  Waco, here we come! 

Update:  Bryce let me know last night that Modesta went by his apartment yesterday afternoon to "survey the damage."  She's coming today at noon.  Bryce further told me that he and Reed had already worked really hard on the apartment for about 15 minutes today.  (Very nice considering that Reed actually lives in the dorm.)  

"So, what did you guys accomplish in that 15 minutes?"
"We picked up a bunch of trash."

Good luck, Modesta!  God bless you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Baylor Homecoming "Outfit"

I went shopping yesterday for something new to wear to Baylor Homecoming.  I need something dressy-ish for Pigskin on Friday night that I can feel comfortable in at the Bonfire, ie, it's all about the shoes.  I also need something "cute casual" for Saturday that is appropriate for the Chi Omega Breakfast (perfumed hugging) at 7:30AM, the Homecoming Parade (curb sitting) at 8:30ish, and the game at around 2:30ish (sweltering heat).  Got it?  dressy-casual and all-weather-cute-casual.  (All of the women reading this are nodding "Got it!  Dressy-casual and all-weather-cute-casual" while envisioning what they would wear for the above activities.  The men are, well, probably not reading this at all.)

Here's the tricky part:
Oct 22
Isolated T-Storms84°/66°30 %
Oct 23
Isolated T-Storms86°/65°30 %
Oct 24
Isolated T-Storms86°/60°30 %

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Central Texas weather, I'll translate.  It's going to be overcast.  The air will be thick with moisture that will hover overhead like a warm, wet blanket.  Though the thermometer may read "86," it fully means "96."  So, let's focus on my Saturday outfit because it is the most challenging for me to figure out.  I will need an all-weather-cute-casual-96-degrees-in-October outfit.  Figuring in the sultry weather, I'm also concerned about my hair.  The humidity will do a number on my fine, thin tresses that have a tad of "natural curl."  My bangs will roll up on the top of my forehead like window shades.  My cowlicks will be mooing, "Look what we can dooooooo!"                                                             
My hairstyle will go from this...

To this...

so, I'm thinking I'm going to need one of these:

I've narrowed it down to an all-weather-cute-casual-96-degrees-in-October-that-looks-good-with-a-baseball-hat outfit.  Ohh, and...well, come a little closer so that I can whisper a couple of other "minor" attributes I'm seeking in my Saturday outfit.  It needs disguise the actual heft of my body while making me look younger, hip, cool, and a bit affluent.  I want people to look at this outfit and think, "Now there goes a woman who has got it ALL together!"  

In the years after Alan and I graduated (the "DINK" years - double income no kids), Homecoming meant a lengthy trip to Northpark.  I had so much trouble trying to decide - the Katherine Conover or the Laura Ashley?  What to do?!  What to do!?  Yes, we wore DRESSES to the parade and game.  With impractical shoes, for Pete's sake!  Oh, the pain of looking successful and carefree!

When the boys were toddlers, I chose their parade attire as carefully as I chose their Christmas Eve or Easter outfits.  Matchy-Matchy!  Cute-Cute!  Perfect-perfect!  Having 3 sons, I was robbed of the opportunity to dress them in the tiny cute Baylor cheerleader uniforms with giant yellow bows balancing precariously on their sweet round heads.  Noooo. I had to go the extra mile to come up with matchy-matchy-cute-cute times 3.  They sat on the curb in front of the Sub catching candy wearing apparel befitting a GQ for Kids photo shoot.

Back to my dilemma, the all-weather-cute-casual-96-degrees-in-October-that-looks-good-with-a-baseball-hat-flattering-hip-cool-affluent outfit.  During the Homecoming parades of the 80's and 90's, I shook my head "Mm.  Mm.  Mm." when I saw the 50-plus set casually walking about at the parade wearing Baylor t-shirts, jeans, and tennies.  Now, I am one.  Maybe the Baylor baseball hat will legitimize my outfit and elevate it to the level of haute Bear couture.  I will get back with you on that.  Or, come Monday facebook may be all a-twitter about the 50-plus devil-may-care, underdressed lady who sat slumped on the curb watching the parade.  And, catching candy.  It's a fashion risk I'm willing to take.

Postscript:  I actually bought 2 items at Steinmart today - a new pair of readers and a pair of sunglasses.  They both fit me fine.  And, they are, indeed, flattering.

Post Postscript:  Bryce and Reed, if you're reading this...please try to come up with something clean to wear, and preferably, make sure it comes from a hanger and not your closet floor.  I LOOOOOVE you!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Women of a Certain Age

There are some peculiar idiosyncrasies that seem to be common amongst women "of a certain age."  I'll define the age as 50-65.  After the age of 65, the idiosyncrasies change and are bundled into one neat word, "dementia."

As a 53 year old, idiosyncratic woman I present to you my confessional:
  • I have been known to be wearing 3 pairs of readers at one time - one pair on my nose, one pair on my head or hat, and one pair dangling from the collar of my shirt.  I have also noticed that when I have been sporting 3 pairs of readers, no one answers me when I ask, "Have any of you seen my readers?"
  • While putting on my makeup, I use a hand mirror to do the "detail work" which includes working with a mascara wand, a eyeliner pencil, or a pair of tweezers.  About once a week, I think to myself, "Hmm.  I can't see my eyelashes (or lash line or chin hair)."  After spinning the mirror to the other side, I'm always shocked when I realize that I had already been using the magnified side.
  • The decor on my night table includes a lamp, a clock on an easel, a small topiary, and a jumbo bottle of Tums.
  • Somehow, I got on the mailing list for the AARP.
  • Words like "Glucosamine" and "Chondroitin" have tiptoed into my vocabulary.
  • When I have the privilege of holding a baby or a small child, instead of missing my own sons' baby fresh smells, I long for a fragrant grandchild.
  • Going to matinees and dining at 5:00 both greatly appeal to me.
  • A couple of times I've been stopped by residents at Raider Ranch, the new home of Mimi (age 83), and asked, "When did you move in?"  I hold no grudges due to the fact that the actual minimum age requirement for "luxury, carefree living" is 55.
  • Sometimes when I'm reading a magazine, I realize that I've been holding it at arm's length which can only mean one of 2 things:  1) my readers are still on top of my head, or 2) it's time to move up to 2.0 readers.
  • I came to the grim realization a few weeks ago that I probably shouldn't be wearing shorts in public again.  Ever.  
  • My ears prick up when I hear the words "health care reform." 
  • The words "luxury, carefee living" sound really good to me.
Truth be told, I've actually thoroughly enjoyed each season of my life thus far.  Each decade represents a milestone conquered and valuable lessons learned.  New wisdom.  New understanding.  New vocabulary.  Same old me.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Adult ADD

    As I sit here at 8:52AM in my seersucker blue and white striped robe with bare feet and bedhead hair, a poem comes to mind.

     I Meant To Do My Work Today
    by Richard LeGallienne

    I meant to do my work today,
    But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
    And a butterfly flitted across the field,
    And all the leaves were calling me.
    And the wind went sighing over the land,
    Tossing the grasses to and fro,
    And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
    So what could I do but laugh and go?

    At first glance this is a poem about the deliciously inviting beauty of nature.  Look again, my friend.  These words are the cry of the heart of a person suffering from adult ADD.  Trust me on this because it takes one to know one.

    Here are some of the nagging symptoms of my malady:
    • The boxes of mementos from my mother's house lined up along one wall of my dining room
    • The pile of stuff, also from Mom's house, which has sat in my sun room since the day (August 23) I unloaded them from the back of the Suburban
    • My closet...oh, my closet (my pride stops me short of an accurate description)
    • The cup of Earl Grey that I was so enjoying just a bit ago that is now gone tepid sitting 3/4 full on the kitchen table
    • The counter in my laundry room piled high with stuff that I cleared off the kitchen table the other night when Mimi and Nana came to have dinner with Bryce and Reed  (properly termed "The Migrating Pile")
    • The wet clothes left in the washing machine since yesterday
    • The Salad Spinner left in the back of my refrigerator with a few wilted bits of leaf lettuce that are no longer safe to eat
    • The pile next to my couch of Lubbock Avalanche Journal newspapers still tucked neatly in their plastic bags
    • The looming guilt I feel about all of the above
    I believe that it was my dear friend, Cindee Millard, that first lovingly pointed out that I might have ADD.  As I recall, she did not "diagnose" my capricious behaviors as ADHD.  I have come to the age and stage that precludes my having the energy level for the HD.  Before this diagnosis, I would have referred to myself as a terminally gifted multi-tasker I took great pride in all of my piles of projects.  My Junior League notebooks took up residence on one side of my guest bed and my PTA doings were carefully lined up on the other.  My dining table was my scrap-booking outpost.  The counter in my laundry room was reserved for the most annoying of tasks.  There on any given day you might find a Dillard's sack with a pair of jeans that the saleslady convinced me  were a must-have due to their "SOOOOO flattering" fit that need to be returned, lightbulbs that were purchased on a I-think-this-is-the-same-size-as-the-one-we-need basis that need to be returned (along with the actual burned out lightbulb which would serve as the "verifier" of the next purchase), an ever-growing stack of Alan's shirts bound for the cleaners, and a pile of recyclables plopped there as opposed to being neatly sorted in the recycling bags lined up in the garage just on the other side of the door that separates the pile from the bags by about 2 feet.
    I woke up at 7:30.  This is what I have accomplished on this the 18th day of October in the year two thousand and ten.
    1. Made a cup of Earl Grey and drank about 1/4 of it (the remaining tea will be poured over ice later today - good Southern girl that I am)
    2. Spent quality time with God who rocks my world with amazing grace
    3. Checked my email
    4. Checked facebook
    5. Jotted a few to-do items in my calendar (some of which are carried over from last week's to-do list debacle)
    6. Ignored the to-do list (see numbers 3 & 4)
    7. Felt guilty by comparing myself to people like Mother Teresa who would have already fed about 100  hungry people during the 2 hours I have squandered
    8. Comforted myself by blogging the confession of my "productivity disability"
    9. Felt guilty about all of the items listed above except for the second one
    Oops!  It's already 9:33AM.  I need to be somewhere at 11:30AM.  If I start walking towards the shower right now, I might just make it on time.  Unless...I spy the remote control in the living room and check to make sure that the "good shows" have been properly recorded or a cat meows an invitation to sit and cuddle for a while.  On the other hand, if the phone rings I will most likely let it "go to the answering machine" because I'm so far behind on meaningful productivity for this day that God has graciously laid before me like a gift.

    So, what can I do but laugh and go?  ADD or not, I will always choose "laugh and go."  But first, I must add the numbered list above to my to-do list so that I will, indeed, be able to check off some items of accomplishment.  Ta da!


    Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...