Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Her face just looks like that.

Have you seen the movie Juno?  I paraphrase:

“She was giving me the stink eye.”
“I doubt that she was giving you the stink eye.  That's just the way her face looks.”

Great movie…but not what this blog is about.

When I was about 13, I was in the skating rink on a random Friday night.  Because that’s what you did on Friday nights when you were 13 and lived where I did.  I was there almost every weekend.  So on this particular, random Friday night…I’m looking around, people watching…like you do…and this little skinny girl comes stomping up to me with, what I now see was, a face full of false bravado.  She stares me down and says:
“What is your problem?”
My incredibly intelligent and well thought out reply was something in the vein of:
“Why are you giving me dirty looks?” she demanded to know.  Her false bravado was contagious and it brought mine out.  So I bowed up at her.  (You hear my redneck coming out? “Bowed up”?)
“I wasn’t even looking at you!” I said angrily.
“I just saw you!  You’ve been giving me dirty looks for five minutes!”
“I don’t even know you!”
“Then why are you looking at me?”
“I wasn’t!  I don’t even know what your problem is!”
“Well maybe you should watch where you’re looking!”
“Well maybe you shouldn’t be so paranoid and think everybody is looking at you when nobody cares!”
At 13…this was a really heated argument.  I think I even threw out the “s” word at some point.  Let me tell you…I had false bravado for days.  I had a redneck older brother and I could talk poo with the best of them by the tender, young age of 13.  That’s probably why I’ve barely ever been in a fight.  I got loud and didn’t back down and whoever I was shouting at usually figured out it wasn’t worth it.  This particular altercation lasted a couple of minutes and we both ran out of things to say.  So we kind of stood there…looking at each other.  When she figured out I was not going to back down…we had that moment of:
“Ok then.”
This led to the standard “Do you go to school here?”.  Because before it went any further, we had to know if our schools were rivals.  That led to introducing ourselves to each other…and next thing you know…we are hanging out with each other.  We are giggling together like nothing ever happened.

We started meeting at the skating rink almost every weekend…then we even hung out away from the skating rink.  Then she met my family and started calling my mom “Mom”…as most of my friends did.  She developed a crush on my brother…also like most of my friends did.  She became one of my best friends for the next couple of years.  We drifted apart after a couple of years.  I got pregnant and had a baby and she was still really involved in school.  We still talked here and there…but around that point, I started hanging around with a friend who lived closer and had more in common with me.  But that girl was still my friend and we still talked occasionally and even wrote each other letters since I didn’t have a phone.  She signed them all “L.Y.L.A.S.”.  You guys remember that one, right?  “Love You Like A Sister”.

Fast forward to today.  Yeah…it’s a long fast forward.  28 years worth.  I still talk to that girl.  We grew apart and are not best friends or anything…but we still occasionally talk and have very fond feelings for each other.  I haven’t seen her in years and our lives turned out very, very different.  But I still count her as one of my oldest friends and I think about her now and then and we send each other smiles and quick thoughts via Facebook.  And it all started because she thought I was giving her a dirty look…and I honestly had never even seen her face until she walked up to me.

She was not the first person to randomly walk up to me and confuse the hell out of me by asking me why I was giving her a dirty look.  She was not the last either.

I wasn’t giving any of them the “Stink Eye”.  Apparently my face just looks like that.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I want to be like you when I grow up.

So…I have a pretty big family.  My mom had three sisters and my dad had five brothers and two sisters.  So there were always lots of aunts, uncles and cousins.  I love my family.  My dad’s mother died when he was two so obviously I never got to meet her, although I was named after her.  His father remarried not long after and his stepmother was who I knew as “Granny”.  She was nice to me but I wasn’t close to her. She died when I was around nine years old.  Everyone used to talk about how cranky and mean she was…and apparently she was really not nice to my dad while he was growing up.  But she was always nice to me.  I think maybe it had a little to do with my being named after the woman she replaced.  Maybe she thought she had to make sure and not be mean to the namesake of his first wife.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter to me.  It only matters that she was nice to me and taught me to play solitaire and often let me be the one to choose what we kids watched on TV if there was an argument.  My father’s father was Charles.  I loved “Papa Charlie”…he was an incredibly charming and affable man with a wonderful sense of humor.  He made the most amazing fried apples in the world.  He was just the cutest thing ever.  I remember being 16-17 years old and watching him comb his mustache with a little “mustache comb” given to him by one of the many, many, little elderly ladies in the neighborhood that had gigantic crushes on him.  He was adorable.  He was a carpenter.  He is the reason that I love the smell of sawdust.  He died just a bit before I turned 20.  Papa Charlie and Granny were lovely grandparents to me but I never really spent a lot of time with them.

My mother’s parents were the grandparents I was close to.  My grandmother was a fantastic woman.  She could cook like nobody else.  She could sew and whenever I’d sit still long enough, she’d teach me.  She always encouraged me and frequently told me how pretty I was and that she loved me.  She played baseball with us in the front yard using a garden hoe, a tennis ball and plastic butter bowls for bases.  She had a great sense of humor and she had a plethora of home remedies and wives tales to share.  I always felt like she could fix pretty much anything.  Her name was Margaret and she was amazing.  She had a way of making every single one of her grandchildren feel like they were her favorite.  I still think I was her favorite.  My grandfather was the classiest man I ever knew.  His name was Wayne.  He is the yardstick against which I measure all other men and unfortunately for them…few can compare.  He wore leisure suits with style.  He played the piano and could sew and cook and even” permed” my mom and aunts’ hair for them when they were young.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and frequently had a twinkle in his eye as he had a penchant for mischief.  Meme and Papa were my solace when I was sad and my get-away when I needed to be away from home.  I spent every summer with them from age 11 to age 15.   They were my ideal for what a married couple should be…for what grandparents should be…for what classy people should be.  Papa was a 33rd degree Mason and Meme was a member of the Eastern Star.  I was never more “star struck” than when I saw the two of them get dressed up for one of the Masonic Lodge dinners and Papa wore a suit and Meme wore a floor length dress.  They made a striking pair and while the two of them were very blue collar people…they knew how to pull off elegant and refined.  I wanted to be just like them when I grew up.  Papa died when I was in my mid-twenties…and it was likely the saddest day of my life to date.  I wasn’t ready for him to go and I didn’t really get to say goodbye because he was in a hospital five hours away and I was a broke, single mom with two kids who couldn’t afford to leave work.  Plus – I just never dreamed that we would lose him…I was so sure he would recover.  Meme died when I was in my very early thirties.  It was horrifically sad but I was more prepared because I was older and she had been ill with Alzheimer’s for quite some time.  Of all the people I have loved and lost in my life, I miss them the most and there are days when I still get choked up thinking about them.  It’s hard for me to talk about missing them…because generally, I end up totally losing it. 

The point of this long ramble…is that I’ve been thinking a lot these past few days about my grandchild that is due in June 2012.  I wonder what kind of grandparent I’m going to be.  I got to play a little at being a grandmother when my daughter was dating a man that had a child.  That was fun and I adore that child still…even though I know we will probably not get to see her much once her dad finds a new girlfriend.  This time it’s different.  This is a grandchild that will always be my grandchild – no matter what happens.  He or she will be truly MY grandchild…which leads me want to figure out how to be a grandparent.

I know the basics.  I had wonderful role models.  I have expressed to my daughter that I would very much like to be called “Meme” (pronounced me me or mimi).  That name has some big shoes to fill.  I just hope that I am up to the task.  I am going to try.

I want to be a good grandparent.  I want to be the kind I had…like Meme and Papa.  I want my grandchildren to look up to me.  I want them to come to me when they are scared or hurt or when they hate their parents.  I want them to grow up with happy memories of things we did when they were little and I want them to remember me with that same fondness that I remember of my grandparents.  I want to have at least one thing to teach them and at least one thing for which they remember me.  I want to be someone they are proud of and someone they admire and aspire to be like.  But most of all…above all other things…I want them to always know that nobody could possibly love them any more than Meme.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We. Like. To party.

So…I had my first party in my new place.  I feel like it was quite a success.  It was a Halloween party even though it was held a week after Halloween.  We had a great time.

The thing about parties…is that they are way more stressful than they should be.  I agonized over making sure people were coming and making sure I had enough food and the right food and the right drinks.  Then I agonized over whether my house was clean enough and whether people would think my decorations are cute and whether people would have a good time.  I don’t know why I worry so much.  Thing is…when I go to a party at someone’s house…I don’t notice if their baseboards are dirty or if the floor is not mopped or if there is some little weird thing about their house.  So why am I so sure people are going to notice these things about my house?  And even if they do…these people are my friends…why would they care?  They are not going to think less of me if I do not have the perfect party food or if they notice that my cabinets in my kitchen are not as clean as I would like them to be.  So why do I stress about it?

People were smiling and laughing the whole night…yet here we are a couple of weeks after the party and I’m still wondering if people had fun and if I was a good hostess.  I’m feeling guilty because there were people I didn’t get to talk to as much as I would have liked.

However…I am also really thrilled that so many people came and seemed to be having a good time.  That part was awesome.  There was big crossover…I had people from way different aspects of my life that got to meet each other and that was really cool.

My faire family got to meet a little of my Sand Bar family and other random place family.  That was cool.  I had people say “great party!” which made me grin from ear to ear!  I had people say, “I had so much fun, we really need to hang out more…” which is just awesome.  No matter how confident a person I may be most of the time…I still have my insecurities.  So having people say they want to hang out again soon…well, that’s incredibly nice.

It’s funny how a party can have such duality in its effect on you.

Either way…I had a really good time.  Of course, there are things I wish I’d done differently but for the most part – I think it was quite good for a first party in the new place.  We got a drink spilled on the carpet – and hey, it’s not a party until something gets broken or spilled.  So I feel like the house got “broken in”.  And big bonus?  Nothing got spilled on my new couch.  YAY!  I was worried about that a lot.  I know it’s silly…but I love my new couch and was really hoping nothing would get on it.  HA! 

For the record…my parents were even at this party.  That was unique.  My parents are pretty cool people in general and they are very accepting of my friends.  It was awkward a couple of times because I have some really foul mouthed friends and having my mom and dad around and hearing somebody throw a lot of F-Bombs…well, it’s just awkward.  Not because my parents care or are judgmental or delicate or something…just – well, they are my parents.  I have probably dropped an F-Bomb in front of my parents a total of 3-5 times in my entire life.  It’s just a respect thing.  So I kinda had a couple of minutes of feeling weird about that.  Ha!  Plus – I’m super protective of my mom so I’m silly like that too. 

But they seemed to really enjoy themselves so that was cool.

Having my daughter there was awesome.  We haven’t seen each other very much over the last couple of months and I’ve missed her terribly.  I got to go pick her up Friday night and she stayed until Sunday.  It was nice because she helped me a LOT with getting ready for the party – she is great at cleaning and setting up stuff.  So she was a HUGE help.  But mostly it was just nice to spend so much time with her.  She truly is my best friend and I miss her when I don’t get to see her.  I try really hard to give her space and let her live her own life…but sometimes I just really need time with her.  It reminds me to spend time with my mom too.

I’m a really social person most of the time – so parties are definitely right up my alley.  I’m really glad that this one was fun and successful.  I probably won’t have another one like this for a while – but I’m really pleased with how this one went.  It was a good night.  I have good friends.

Oh yeah…and I got to have some really good, thought provoking conversation with my daughter’s new boyfriend.  That was a good thing too.  I need to get to know this boy.  He’s gonna be around for a while.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Falling from the sky at 120MPH

So yeah…I went Skydiving.  It was amazing.  But I want to be more specific while it’s all still fresh.

I went out Friday night…with the intent of being home and in bed by 1AM…which turned into 2AM.  Oh well.  I got up at7:45 to get dressed and ready and Dok and I headed out at about 8:45 and drove to Whitewright, Texas…home of Skydive Dallas.  The nerves started pretty much the minute I got up but I kept a pretty good reign on it.  It took us about an hour and a half to get there.  The first thing I did was go to their pro shop to check in where they gave me the scariest waiver ever to read over and sign.  Most waivers state that you know you can be injured and that you hold the company harmless….this one was really specific about being seriously injured or killed.  Trippy.  Anyway…I signed my life away and then waited for my Tandem Class which was to start at 11AM.

They called us to a classroom where they told us exactly what was going to happen and showed us a video.  They taught us the three specific things we needed to know about how to Tandem dive.  Position one: crossing your arms over your chest so you can scoot out of the plane with your instructor…the position two: thrusting your hips forward and putting your head back and throwing your arms out for the free fall…and position three which is pulling your knees up to your chest to come in for a landing.  That’s really all you need to know.  So we went back downstairs and waited to get called for my turn.

When they called my name I went back and got a jumpsuit and helmet and got all dressed.  Then I met my instructor Waz. He was a totally neato guy.  Really nice and really funny.  Nice looking too.  He put me in a harness and went over the positions again and exactly what was going to happen.  Then he teased the heck out of me and made me laugh.  When we headed to the plane he said “Hey, where’s your parachute?”  I said, “Well, I thought you had it!” he laughed and said “Ok, you’re smart enough to skydive.”  We laughed.  He cracked jokes with me the whole time which was awesome because it kept me relaxed.

I also met my videographer / photographer.  Her name was Charity and she was hilarious.  I showed them my Superman shirt…at which point Charity ran upstairs and changed her shoes…she changed into shoes with The Flash on them.  Too funny.  She interviewed me for my video and it was quite funny because I acted like a big dork.  Told her I was from Space.  I don’t know where the hell that came from.  I’m even dorkier than normal when I’m nervous.

Anyway – we went out to the staging area and waited for the plane.  When it got there, we climbed in and were packed like sardines.  There were two other instructors and their students, me and Waz, Charity, and four solo divers.  I was sitting between Waz’s legs and the next guy was between mine.  It was pretty darned friendly in there.  We joked all the way up to our 13,500 feet jump altitude.  The four solo guys went sailing out of the plane and then Charity climbed out and was hanging off the side of the plane with her video camera on her helmet aimed at me.

Waz and I scooted on our butts over to the door of the plane with my arms crossed over my chest as instructed.  I barely had time to think before Waz did a three count of “Let’s…..Go…SKYDIVING!” and we went sailing out of the plane.  I went quite naturally into position two like I’d been doing it my whole life.

Now…you see people skydive and you imagine what it would be like.  I always thought it would be like falling and that it would be a rush and really scary.  But honestly…I never felt ANY kind of drop sensation and never really felt like I was falling.  It felt like we eased gently out of the plane and just hovered.  It was amazing.  The wind was rushing past my face but I didn’t really feel it.  I was grinning like a total idiot…and with the tight goggles and my chubby cheeks and the 120 mile per hour drop…well…my face looked incredibly stupid.  But I don’t care…it was awesome.

We had just under a minute of that free fall and Waz pulled the chute.  I bounced in the harness…it hurt a little…I have bruises.  But again…it’s ok…it was worth it.  From there we just floated toward the earth.  We did some turns and spins…Waz let me hold onto the straps that control the chute and make us turn…that was cool.  Then he told me “You see those hawks over to your left?”  I automatically looked up.  But no…they were BELOW us.  Moment of “oh wow” there.  But he said “You wanna scare the crap out of them…watch this.” So he sails us around over the top of them and starts making these horrific bird noises and the hawks bank like crazy and get the hell out of there.  WAY funny.

When we were about 20 feet from the ground, he told me to pull my knees up so I grabbed the sides of my jumpsuit and pulled my knees as high as I could get them and we just gently floated right down to the ground.  It was so cool.  I put my feet down and took a few steps and we were good.  The chute caught some air and we stumbled a little but never fell…which I thought was cool.  I saw a lot of tandem jumpers come in and slide on their butt.  I was glad to have an on foot landing.

That was really all there was too it.  Waz and Charity were incredibly nice to me.  Everyone in the whole place was super nice and they just make you feel really at home.  It was pretty awesome.  I had a great time.  They offer you a second jump at a seriously discounted rate and I took it.  Bought it right there on the spot.  I can see myself getting hooked on this seriously expensive hobby.

Anyway – so that was my awesome first skydive experience.  I can’t wait to go again.  It’s really an amazing feeling.  I highly recommend it.