Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mementos: Fiddler Crab

I've mentioned this before, but I'm a total pack rat.  I've kept tons of little mementos and trinkets my whole life. With some of them, it's obvious what the significance is, like letters from my Dad and my college acceptance letter.  Some of them, though, are meaningful because they evoke a feeling that might not be so apparent from looking at the object.

I thought I might start sharing some of them occasionally here.  In reality, I'll probably barage the internet for a week or so and then forget how to use the scanner again.  We'll see.

My Mom has a box at her house with a lot of my old treasures.  Some of my favorites are all stories that I wrote as a kid.  One day I'll talk her into letting me bring them home to scan onto my computer.  She didn't just keep the markers of my achievements, though.  She also kept my write-up slips from high school for all the times I didn't tuck in my shirt and my progess notes from the speech therapist working through my childhood lisp.  Now that is a proud mother.

The first memento  that I want to share is one of the most inconspicuous of them all.  Honestly, I'm surprised it's survived so many moves and Spring cleanings. It's small sheet of paper, not quite the size of a 4x6 photo.  Its edges have started to yellow.  I had to put a darker sheet behind it, because the paper is so thin.

The Story:

When I was a little girl and would visit my grandparents with my Mom, I would usually wake up really early.  The only other person awake was my grandfather, Bobby.  Bobby died when I pretty young, only eleven, so my memories of him are those of a child.  I see him in my mind's eye as a giant of a man.  His hands were the size of dinner plates.  He had this big voice and a low, belly laugh. 

First thing in the morning I would pad down what seemed like a runway, but was only a small hallway to the kitchen.  Bobby would already be there drinking coffee.  Sometimes he would fix me my own cup, which was a mug of milk with about three drops of coffee in it.  I would sit in the chair next to him, my knees curled up underneath me, and imitate what he was doing.  Watching out of the corner of my eye, I'd blow on my cup of cold milk when he blew on his coffee.  When he turned the newspaper page, I would turn the page in my book.  Sometimes we would stay there, talking and drinking our coffee until I'd go back to bed and wait for everyone else to wake up.  Other times we'd go for a drive around the Capitol or go look at old Confederate cemeteries.

The morning we made this was like the rest of them, only a day or so after Christmas.  In my stocking that year I had gotten one of those battery operated pens that write squiggly.  We were taking turns seeing what different words looked like and how many different kinds of lines we could make.  He grabbed a pad from the table and wrote this little note, which, naturally, illicited a fit of giggles.  It still makes me smile now.  Now, I smile not just because it's cute, but because it's a sweet reminder of a time when I could sit on my Bobby's lap and try to wrap my arms all the way around him for a hug, his whiskers tickling my cheek.  There were always so many people around that house and it was loud and fun and I loved it, but I treasure memories of those early morning that were just for me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

To Do, er, To Didn't

At the beginning of this year I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish instead a New Year's resolution.  Wanna see?  Check here.  If you don't care to, it went a little something like this: self-deprication, my dog, a list.  I am nothing if not consistent. 

I thought I'd repost the list itself and include an update on my progress.  The italicized lines are last year's list.

1. Complete my BAR application. No real choice here, but I've been putting it off.

Um, applied, accepted, studied for, taken, and passed.  Hazaa!  It would be even better if I could say that I was rewarded with a job, but all things in time, right?

2. Make bread from scratch.

This was a bit ambitious for someone without a stand mixer.  I know it probably could be done, but I haven't really found that kind of commitment yet.  I did make banana bread, though, and that has bread in the name, so it's legit. 

No, it is. 

3. But seriously, teach Max some commands.

Ok.  Well, this is somewhat subjective.  I taught him to "park it" for treats and to get his food, but we don't have "come," "stop barking," or "quit staring at my cereal" mastered yet.

4. Keep my car clean (after I clean it).

Done!  Granted, I've probably clocked the least miles per year in my life, but still, Gertrude is neat as a pin.  My mom will be so proud.

5. Write in my journal more (this isn't it, don't worry).

Yes and no.  I did write a few times, but I only ever felt compelled to do it when I was really irritated.  With my morbid imagination and overblown sense of self-importance I got worried that if I died tragically one of my loved ones would stumble upon it and think, I always knew she was a petty little bitch. Such language!

6. Take more pictures.

Absolutely not. I've taken less. In fact, Craig, if you're reading this, where is the camera?  Now I just take nonsense pictures on my iphone to entertain myself in waiting rooms.

7. Print out our wedding photos.

No, but considering I am still unemployed since making this list, this fell dramatically in my list of priorities.  Besides, I'll just friend my grandchildren on Facebook one day and make them look at pictures of granny's bouquet on their futuristic mind computers.

8. Take better care of myself. I have specifics under this category, but I won't bore you. Why stop now, you say? Not nice.

Meh. Not so much.  I do like how general I was with this one, though.  Call me a psychic, but it looks like I knew that I wasn't going to be hitting the gym regularly.  I have tried to be more forgiving of myself this year, which is good.  It's not helping my waistline, but I'll keep trying. 

9. Get a job.

Ha ha haha.  This will happen.  I know it will.  I never dreamed I would still be waiting around after passing the bar, but I've still got high hopes.

10. This last goal I'll keep to myself. I'll update if and when I accomplish it.

Not terribly shocking, but I have no idea what I was talking about.  Since I'm only averaging about a fifty percent completion rate, I'm gonna go ahead and say that I accomplished this one.  It was a run away success and I was the envy of all who tried to accomplish it.  Well done, LB!

I'm letting next year's list marinate and I hope to complete some of these before then!

Image from here: http://richarddingwall.name/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/to-do-list-nothing.jpg

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, You Silly Thing!

This blog is that silly thing.  It's been one year of ranting, raving, snickering, boring, and baring it all.  Thanks to those of you who have encouraged my little hobby and thanks to those who have chosen instead, to politely look away while I embarass myself.  While I've been a little disappointed by the resounding silence in my comment section, I do get giddy when I see the number climb on my hit counter at the bottom of the page.  I love getting Facebook feedback and have just generally enjoyed finding a steady outlet to laugh at my own jokes.

Warning: The following paragraph is a veritable minefield of links to old posts.  Be careful, deeply stupid and/or personal posts may pop up if clicked. 

I've written fifty-five posts, averaging about one a week.  If you read this regularly, of course, you know that that's not really how it worked out. I post in spurts and then ignore it for weeks. I may or may not treat my diet the same way.  I read back through all fifty-five.  Some are more personal than I ever thought I'd write when I started this, like this one, this one, and especially this one.  The career highs and lows were a little hard to read because of where I am now.  I accomplished some of my dreams like graduating and passing the bar.  I had to put some on hold until I find that right job.  With faith I've been able see my blessings and survive my struggles.  Humor always helps, too.  This, this, and uh, this were fun for me to write.  I should probably be more embarasssed than I am, but since my usual audience is my squirrely little pup, I've lost touch with my better judgment.  I've been surprised by this little hobby.  Even more than I've revealed about myself, I've revealed a lot to myself.  For someone of my temperament, it's been rewarding, but hard at times, too.  Other than being nuts, there are very few things that I've stayed committed to for a year.  That has to count for something!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eugene Walter Revisted

I mentioned Eugene Walter once before here. A description from IMDB reads

"Alabama-born Eugene Walter lived a magical life, reportedly running away from home at age three, living in the back room of a bookshop at ten, painting coffins in rural Mississippi while in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s and serving as a cryptographer in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. That was before he took an ice cream freighter to France in the late 40s, met and worked with the American born princess who published the world famous literary journal Botteghe Oscure, helped found the Paris Review and acted in the films of Federico Fellini while translating most of the latter's screenplays into English. Along the way he won the Lippincott Prize for first novelists, a Sewanee Review Fellowship in poetry, and became the epicenter of the expatriate community in Rome, where his parties were legendary. Not bad for someone who barely graduated high school and never had a bank account. Eugene Walter was truly an original, a man who made up each day as it came, one of thelast of the true Bohemians"
As with all Southern legends, I'm sure that both all and none of this is true. I love Walter, though, because he didn't care and neither do I. The South that he lived and wrote is one that bridges my reality and imagination. I love his colorful words and the texture of his images. Anyone from the Alabama Coast who isn't familiar with Walter should, first, be ashamed of yourself, and second, read every single thing you can find by him. I love, love, love the Southern Gothic tradition, but, to quote my Craig, this ain't that. His stories are like those told in the corner of a party. A small circle of slightly over served guests leaning in for the real story behind the gossip du jour.

The South is a strange place with many faces. I recently saw a commercial for a new show airing on TLC called "Bama Belles." What they showed may happen in Alabama, but there is nothing Belle about it. That's an altogether different Alabama than the coast. In a wikipedia entry Mobile's cultural history is described,

"Mobile is home to an array of cultural influences with its mixed French, Spanish, Creole and Catholic heritage, in addition to British and African, distinguishing it from all other cities in the state of Alabama. The annual Carnival celebration is perhaps the best illustration of this. Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States and has the oldest celebration, dating to the early 18th century during the French colonial period. Carnival in Mobile has evolved over the course of 300 years from a sedate French Catholic tradition into a mainstream multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures. Mobile's official cultural ambassadors are the Azalea Trail Maids, meant to embody the ideals of Southern hospitality."

Walter described Mobile as a "separate kingdom, North Haiti." When I saw that commercial, I wondered whether the earth around Walter's grave was still intact after all the rolling over he must have done. I don't want to say that the show isn't representative of one face of the South, one face of Alabama. It's a state that still has blue laws, and yet has a state drink, and that state drink is Conecuh Ridge Whiskey. There are so many oddities and contradictions and while I know that few, if any, people would care about the distinctions as much as I, I thought I'd let Mr. Walter himself describe our Alabama Gulf Coast. Check out this link:
Eugene Walter

"Mobile is sweet lunacy's county seat."

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Common Thread

It's all about perspective, right?  I have always, always loved biographies and documentaries about people's lives.  When I was in grade school I always gravitated towards that section of the school library. It seems like every year until early high school we were assigned to do a report on someone.  I always LOVED that assignment. I never cared who I would write about.  I remember writing one on Rudyard Kipling, one on Lenin, one on President Hayes, one on Robert Frost, etc., etc.  I can tell you that I usually didn't even know who my subject was when I picked the biography to read.  My selection proces wasn't exactly esocteric.  I never wanted to read about people I already knew a lot about, so that left out The Beatles and Napolean.  I've always been a weird one.  Other than that, it was more of picking a cover that appealed to me and it not having those weird untrimmed pages.  I hate those.  Anyway, off I'd go to plunge into the life of some long dead person that I never knew existed. 

I guess some might characterize all this as nosiness, but I've always loved people and all the minutiae that makes us who we are.  It's amazing the little things you learn about someone that completely change how you see them.  I'm just sort of moved by ordinary humanity. 

Ok, I'm coming back down to earth. 

I say all of this to make a little recommendation to anyone with a similar fascination.  If you go to the top of this page and click "Next Blog," Blogger will take you from one blog, to the next...to the next...to the next.  Sometimes it seems to go with a theme and there will be, for example, a number of blogs about babies.  Sometimes it seems to focus on cooking blogs, or political blogs.  Today, as I clicked through it spun off into the universe of blogs written in some Northern European language I didn't recognize.  I never scroll through them, but I just love to see the first few lines and maybe the pictures.  After looking at ten or so, the most amazing thread becomes apparent.  I can't really say what I think that thread is, but they all start to seem connected.  It's really very cool.  See what you think.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I Didn't Know before I Got Married

Among a few other unhealthy habits, I like to self-diagnose any and all of what ails me. I can't tell you how many times Craig has said, "Wait. Before you get on WebMd, just breathe and take some tylenol."  Then I tell him that if my internet research is correct, I've either got a tension headache, or I'm at risk for a major stroke. I either ate something bad, or I have an obstruction. My shoulder aches. Maybe I slept funny. Maybe it's a heart attack. You know, a backache is often a woman's symptom of a heart attack. You didn't know that? Good, you must be sane.

Hypochondriac? Sure. That's fair.  I can assure you that I get it honest.  It skips a generation.  This is just one of the many things that Craig has to deal with around here.  He came with his own unforeseen quirks too, though, but there's a strict no return policy.  I'd miss him too much, anyway. 

We didn't live together before we got married for a number of reasons and I'm really glad that we made that choice.  I read a study once that said that cohabting before marriage results in a higher divorce rate.  I think there are probably a squillion factors that went into those results that were unaccounted for, but it did make an interesting point.  It said that couples who share a home before they're married may see it as a trial run that can be abandoned.  Once you are married, if marriage means something to you, you just figure it out when things get a little hairy.  There are no trial runs and the author suggests that that mentality is hard to shake.  I think the less sunny way to look at that is to say, I'm gonna live with this person forever so I better figure out how to make it good for both of us or my head may pop off.  Plus, I think the wedding is so much sweeter when the couple has yet to learn what the other looks like two days into a stomach flu. 

There are things I've learned since getting married that I'm glad I didn't know.  It wouldn't have affected my decision one teeny, tiny bit, but I wouldn't have had the sense of humor to view them for what they are. 

  • Contrary to what I feared, men don't really leave the toilet seat up all the time.  No.  In fact it's very rare.  Like only in the middle of the night when the temperature in the house has gotten to its lowest and you're not wearing contacts.  Even though it's rare, one moment of that blind hysteria is too much. 

  • I'm allergic to white gold.  What, aren't your wedding rings white gold you ask?  Why, yes.  Yes, they are.  Were.  I now have a yellow gold set.  My swollen, welpy ring finger wasn't very attractive or comfortable.  While it was definitely a testament to my commitment level,  I didn't want to have a permanent wedding band made out of scar tissue. 

  • An old container of leftovers in the back of the refridgerator turns into an Old West showdown over who's gonna throw it out.
  • From Craig, I learned that all tools run on profanity.  So does college basketball.

  • He's learned that a large pack of toilet paper isn't a once a semester purchase like at the fraternity house.  Actually, I'm not sure that he's learned this.  He's still eyes me suspiciously like I'm sneaking rolls out every few days.

  • I've learned that when he says that we'll go soon, the game only has ten more minutes, that that means thirty minutes.  I will never understand time warp football minutes.

  • Craig has stopped asking what I want to have for dinner the following night forty five seconds after we've eaten the current night.  He now understands that I will always want to look at the menu at the McDonald's drive thru, even though the menu has been the same my entire life and I always get the same thing.  How could such a person know what they want to eat in 24hrs?  Unless it's cupcakes. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Status Update

I haven't posted much lately.  The old, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't blog anything at all.  That's where I've been, and honestly, where I still am.  I'm in the same boat as tons of other people, but it feels very personal and painful to me.  I still haven't found a job.  I was lulled by a lot of false hope and thought that I didn't need to be looking, that I was a few rubber stamps away from employed.  I was even being "trained," for whatever that's worth after volunteering for nearly a year.  Last Monday, I was told that my status was low on the priority list and that I should continue to be patient.   Long story short, I decided to take my toys and go home.

The first afternoon I cried and cried and felt sorry for myself.  Okay, I was downright morose.  I'm back at it, though.  I have to think that someone will appreciate the experience I have.  I have a fair amount for someone at this early point in my career.  I work hard and I would never, ever steal staples.  I want to work so bad and I have faith that the right opportunity will come eventually.

The hardest thing for me is the let down from where I thought I was.  I really, really loved the work I was doing and felt (and feel) called to do it, probably more than some who already do. I loved the people I worked with.  Leaving makes it feel like all of the sacrifices I made by volunteering so long weren't worth it.  Making matters worse, it's forced Craig to make a lot of sacrifices, too. In a lot of ways, more than me.  That hurts.

I'm past it, though.  That opportunity may still turn out to be viable, but in the meantime, I'm hustling like always.  I'm wallpapering the law offices of the Greater Memphis area with my resume.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.....