Category Archives: Memories

Homesick at Home

My eyes, hot with the tears I’m holding back.  Throat thick.  Chest tight.  This tiny cottage all of the sudden feels large and empty.  There is no laughter-filled conversation, just the kind of silence that makes my ears ring.  I recognize this emotional place as somewhere I’ve been before and I remind myself it’s easier to leave than to be left behind.

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“Hats” from the Lost Tracks Album

**I was doing some cleaning here at Monkey Hill and came across this post that, until now, was previously unreleased.  The draft date is June 2010.**

Geez.  Read this, would’ya?  Something of which I scrawled on a scrap piece of paper about a year or so ago.  If you recall, I decided at the beginning of the year to pull to the side of the road of life and take a deep breath.  While I don’t have much to physically show for it, this little snippet is one of many that proves my decision has had a huge impact.

Who decided that “figuring it all out” has to take a lifetime?  Why do we hear of people figuring “it” out later in life?  What’s wrong with making an effort to figure “it” out earlier in life, allowing for more time to enjoy being comfortable in the life we make?

Choose a purpose in life and live by it.  Let’s try on the college hat…take it off…put it on the shelf.  Let’s try on the career hat…take it off…put it on the shelf.  Let’s try on the marriage hat…take it off…put it on the shelf.  At the end of it all, you stand back and look at a bunch of hats!   What’s it all for?

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had time to reflect on a few things and this reflection led me to that scrap piece of paper.  A few months ago, I wrote this in response:

I ought not be so hard on myself.  Who cares that my shelf contains a multitude of hats?  Ain’t that what life’s about?  Trying on all types of hats, hanging on to those that feel most comfortable.  To experience new things, learn new things, even suffer through things all for the sake of coming out on the other side with fresh perspectives by which to…dare I say, try on new hats!  Hopefully there will come a day when I can look at my shelf of hats and be proud for having the balls to wear them in the first place.  Because let’s face it, some people just don’t look that good in a hat.

I realized I was being too hard on myself when it comes to “hats”.  But then it hit me:  It’s the hats, or rather, life experiences that make up who we are as people.  “Life is what happens while your busy making other plans.” That’s a John Lennon quote according to Google.  While I think that is true, I am going to wear this particular hat for a while:  “Enjoy today because you might get hit by a bus tomorrow.”  And you can quote me on that.

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Filed under Life, Memories, Suddenly Sabbatical, The Other Chapter

Storm Surge of Memories

Thanks NASA

Flashback Post – 2/16/2010

I’ve often said there is one positive side to a hurricane.  It’s one of the few times when everyone works together to achieve a common goal.  Whether in preparation for the storm, or post-storm clean up, people that have lived on the same street for years meet for the first time to offer assistance in hanging plywood over windows.  Strangers share precious resources like ice and gasoline.  There’s a collective sense of pride in the community.

I dusted off this excerpt in an attempt to transform the thoughts in my head into a coherent post about the hurricane my friends and family are facing back home.  Only, my thoughts aren’t entirely about Isaac, more so;  Katrina.  Or rather the effects of:

  • AE taking on 5 ft of water in her childhood home
  • DJ and the Southern Living home wiped clean from the slab.  Piano in the bayou, king sized bed across the interstate, a porcelain platter unscathed
  • AH and the mold that began growing immediately rendering her daddy’s home uninhabitable
  • BD and his bag of savings – and I’m not talking about money.
  • DD; presumably drowned
  • J the sushi chef; I’m afraid to ask

This storm that is Isaac will by no means be a catastrophe.  The real catastrophe lies in the fact that this storm is making landfall on the anniversary of Katrina.  A quick internet search on the current status of the situation returned this editorial from nola.com (the website for the newspaper in New Orleans)*:

…despite that relative weakness, Isaac’s forecasted landfall during a week (of which) we’ll be raw with Katrina memories was another emotional wallop we would have preferred to live without.

I live in a part of the country where the mention of Hurricane Katrina conjures up images of people standing on rooftops waving for help while Help was playing golf.  And while that image represents a large part of the story that is Hurricane Katrina, it’s not the whole story.   To me Katrina represents something very personal.  Not because of my own personal story (One week without power and a few downed tree limbs ain’t a big deal) but for the people mentioned above whose lives changed forever because of Her.  To me these people represent the power of the human spirit.  The understanding that we have to mourn our losses.  The fortitude, that is courage in the face of adversity, to move on.  And the pride to do it all the better the next time around.

While it’s not fair Mother Nature chose THIS anniversary week to deliver another hurricane, I am certain the people mentioned above are sitting back and saying, “Heh…80mph winds.  Is that ALL you’ve got?”

http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2012/08/isaac_makes_for_a_stormy_hurri.html

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My First Life Lesson: Nanna Nanna Boo Boo

This is a long story, but it’s a good one, especially for those of you with any kind of soft spot for small children.

I’m in Kindergarten. Yep – my first life lesson goes way back. It’s time for us to graduate. You know what that means:   end of the year recital/play/musical/photo-op extravaganza. The teacher chose the song, “If I Were a Butterfly”. Here are the lyrics (with proper credit) of which you have to read (namely the animal verses) to follow my story:

Words and Music by Brian Howard

If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings
If I were a robin in a tree, I’d thank you Lord that I could sing
If I were a fish in the sea, I’d wiggle my tail and I’d giggle with glee

But I just thank you father for making me, me
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

If I were an elephant, I’d thank you Lord by raising my trunk
If I were a kangaroo, You know I’d hop right up to you
If I were an octopus, I’d thank you Lord for my fine looks

But I just thank you Father for making me, me
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

If I were a wiggly worm, I’d thank you Lord that I could squirm
If I were a fuzzy wuzzy bear, I’d thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair
If I were a crocodile, I’d thank you Lord for my great smile

But I just thank you Father for making me, me
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me!

So that’s the song.  And as you see, my Kindergarten was faith-based. It was a Mom’s Day Out kind of thing. Only back then they didn’t call it ‘Mom’s Day Out’, they just said, “Yes, you can drop your kid off at 9:00a, but you better come back to get her at 1:00p.”

My Mama, with all her God-given intuition, recognized that I was awkward around people. Well, awkward around everyone except her, so she enrolled me in this school in an effort to help alleviate my dependency on her and my social awkwardness.  Really smart, that Mama.

Unfortunately, all the progress my young teacher made with me (and my social skills) were challenged the last week of school. Take note of the animals depicted in The Butterfly Song. There’s a butterfly, a robin, a kangaroo…It was no surprise I was chosen to play the butterfly in the recital.  I could, afterall, color in the lines, cut a square with round-edged scissors – I didn’t even eat my glue!

I would don a giant purple and pink winged masterpiece made of cardboard, with two handles in the back for my tiny little hands to hold it, and all its glory, in front of the oval cut-out for my face. For I would depict the most beautiful creature of them all – the butterfly!  Ta-da!

Only, when the time comes for Mama to pick up my “costume” she didn’t come home with the beautiful pink and purple butterfly. She came home with, you guessed it — the wiggly worm. What the…? The brown and slimy, why-would-anyone-on-earth-ever-subject a-5-year-old-girl-to, the wiggly worm!

“But Mama, I’m supposed to be the butterfly,” I cried. And cried. And cried. “That’s how we practiced it! “I don’t want to be the wiggly worm. Worms are for boys..and, and, and…they’re yucky!”

Mama told me that crying wasn’t going to do any good; that I was going to be the wiggly worm and that’s that. “It is, what it is,” she said. She did tell me if it would make me feel better, she would dress it up to look more like a girl worm.

I cried myself to sleep that night.  Meanwhile, Mama dusted off her acrylic paints and  dressed up that ‘yucky’ wiggly worm. In the history of cardboard cut-out worms, I would be THE FIRST to wear a hot pink, glittered bow!

Mama’s plan worked.  I got more positive feedback for being “The Wiggly Worm with the Hot Pink Bow” than I would have ever gotten by being the same ‘ol tired butterfly the school had been using year after year.  I was some kinda proud!

Though Mama and I have laughed, even cried a few times, rehashing this story, I’ve never asked: “Why the costume change so late in the game?” I sit here as an adult realizing there was most definitely a kid in my class that didn’t have the same Mama I had. That they probably pitched a fit at the thought of being The Wiggly Worm so their mama marched down to the school and demanded a last minute costume change.  “Nobody makes MY baby dress up like a worm,” she probably said.

I wonder where that kid is now? What trials has she been unable to overcome by simply pitching a fit? I wonder what the saying, “When life hands you lemons…” means to her? How old was she when she realized, “It is, what it is.”?

I stop myself from digging up old photos to see who ultimately wore that butterfly costume.  Instead, I find myself wanting to sing to her:  “If I were a wiggly worm, I’d thank the Lord that…I know how to make the best of a yucky situation.”  Nanna-nanna-boo-boo.

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“Did Someone Say Tally-Ho?”

Like books, our lives, (or at least MY life) has chapters.  And here I am, closing one chapter of my life and starting a new one.

For those of you that have followed this blog, you know that my, what I deemed sabbatical, began 9 months ago almost to the day.  (Go ahead, click here and stroll down memory lane) I pulled my car to the side of the proverbial road of life and I took a break. As much as I would like to say I took the last 9 months doing something productive, like, learning a new language or, gestating a child, I did not.  I partied.  And I partied my ASS off!  And if I wasn’t partying, I was recovering from said party by staring blankly out the window.  What a waste!, one might think.  And admittedly I thought that from time to time myself.  If in January I knew I would have been going back to work in October, I may have traveled.  Or taken a class.  Or I would have done…something.  I should have, could have, would have.   Bleh! Hindsight and the whole 20/20 thing.  We all know it’ll make you crazy.

But you know what…my life in 2010 has been at the complete opposite end of the spectrum of what it was in 2009.   I decided a few months ago, as I was fending off the veil of depression that was looming, that I would hold my head high, and be proud of the fact that I worked hard to afford myself the luxury, productive or not, of a 9 month hiatus.  SO “F*ck responsibility”, is what I said and partied on.

(…)

OK, time to be honest.  I had visions of a dramatic “chapter closing” blog entry but now that I’m sitting here, it feels forced.  Me being physically where I am right now is a BIG deal for me.  HUGE.  I have shared this sentiment with a few already, but this is the perfect end to a, ummm, to a very…pivotal (?) no, that’s not it.  To a very…what’s the word?  *sigh*.   I would have been fine landing a decent job at home.  But don’t you see?  The fact that I threw a bunch of stuff in my car and headed North is just the the type of ‘Syonara’ I fantasized about offering to said chapter of my life.  The Finger if you will. Yet I remain humble.  It’s weird.  I am well aware that this opportunity presented itself to me because I was in the right place at the right time.  So now it’s in my hands to make this opportunity work for me.  It really is that simple.  (Duly noted because I am sure I’ll have to reference this post as a reminder of that fact.)

[I am not getting my point across…time to wrap it up.]

There’s a line in Shawshank Redemption that played itself over and over in my head during my drive here today.  “I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head.” Nothing rings more true.  I am so, so, SO, excited about this next chapter I can barely contain myself.  I only hope I can open my eyes wide enough to take it all in.

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Filed under Good Times, Life, Memories, Random Musings, Suddenly Sabbatical

A Champagne Toast

Why three glasses of champagne you ask?

Post image for Champagne Cocktails

Well, as I sit here laughing at myself for kissing a boy in public last night, it occurred to me that this week marks my one year ‘Blogoversary’!  I built my little virtual playground on July 13, 2009.  So if you will, take this virtual glass of champagne as I offer up a toast:

To my three faithful followers:  Thank you for sticking with me through the good posts, (such as An Afternoon with Tom)  the bad posts (such as Dear Potential Homebuyers) and the drunken posts, such as…well…almost all the other posts.  I will continue to strive to keep you at least moderately entertained.

“Salute!”

Now, has anybody seen that boy I was kissin’ last night?

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A Toast to Olga and the Dress Rehearsal

My goal is to blog about Mardi Gras in some form or fashion everyday until Fat Tuesday.  Lofty goal, I know.  Those readers that know me, know I thoroughly enjoyed blogging about Mardi Gras last year with the help of Olga the Traveling Bra, so I am going to try it again.

First, a little history.  Because I had to nurse myself through a bout of depression brought on by Olga’s departure and weeks of overindulgence, I semi-retired from blogging at the end of the 2009 Mardi Gras season.  The blog itself, although defunct, is still available for viewing.  I strongly encourage you to treat yourself to at least a few of the blog posts I wrote during Olga’s visit by clicking here. Matter of fact, I suggest you get to know Olga the Traveling Bra yourself by clicking here.  She is quite the charmer and touched the hearts of a lot of people while she was in town last year.  My friends and I share fond memories of her and her crazy shenanigans!  So we raise our glasses and offer a collective Mardi Gras toast to Olga and her blog mistress in the hopes that they are well.

Now although Olga is unavailable this year to play the starring role in the blog, I am going to give it a shot on my own.  I am coming out of retirement to see if I’ve still got what it takes!  So speaking of characters…

We had an impromptu dress rehearsal last night.  Dress rehearsal you ask?  Well, beginning today*, we will be blessed with Mardi Gras parades every night (and day) until Fat Tuesday!  Why impromptu?  That’s AE’s fault really.  Always is.  She’ll eventually learn my current place of residence is Bizarro world and will be more careful when making the suggestion to do something that, not too long ago, I would have declined.  Impromptu trip to Mexico? Why the hell not!  Go out on a school night?  I ain’t got nothin’ to do tomorrow!  So we gave ourself a midnight curfew and off we went.

Three stops in all, we mingled with folks from the transportation industry at Veet’s, overheard my new favorite blow-off at Gabriel’s, and brought the night to a close by sampling an array of beers at Hopjacks.  [I’d like to note the irony of how that now my income is somewhere around $0, my adult beverage of choice has shifted from strictly domestic beer to a mixture of high gravity beers, martinis and bourbon.  I have the feeling its characteristic of a true Sabbatican.]  Unfortunately, when all was said and done, we were (only) an hour past our curfew.  But, I will say, we had the kind of night only possible by being impromptu in nature.   Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially ready for the Opening Act of Mardi Gras 2010!

*Lucky for us, tonight’s parade was rained out.  Lucky for two reasons:  1.  That means two good parades will roll back-to-back tomorrow night.  2.  Last night’s dress rehearsal went better than expected so we need tonight to rest.

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