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Stronger

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Don’t think that when you see me that you know me.  You don’t. I have secrets, fears and dreams that no one will ever know. I don’t even know some of them.  You’ll never know what words, images, thoughts will put a bitter knot in my throat and chest. You won’t mean to illicit that physical response, but you will.  You won’t imagine that your good news will chip away what little bit is left of a heart that has been superglued, stapled, trussed, duct tape to hold it together just a little longer.  You won’t imagine that i would love to have your problems – that I would change places in a heart beat.

You will know that I AM happy for your, even I am sad for me.  I will commiserate with you and help you plot revenge, solutions or just take part in a drunken night.  My heart is breakable, broken, irreparable in some parts, but my mask is in tact and flawless.

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In January of 1986, I was in the 11th grade at Dreher High School in Columbia, SC.  I was a library aide for one of my periods.  It was during this period that I was in the library when the Challenger Space Shuttle was scheduled to lift off. In 1986, there wasn’t cable television in every classroom to watch important events like this.  Our special education teacher brought her classroom to the library to watch.  This wasn’t a classroom of children with normal learning abilities, but behavioral disorders.  It was a class with lower IQs and some other disorders.  I remember one little girl in the class was very excited to be watching the take off. With those students, their teacher and aides, the library staff and me, there were less that 20 people in the library, which was very large.  We were all sitting and standing around the television to watch the Challenger take off.

A little over a minute later, what we thought was part of the normal procedure was actually the malfunction and explosion of the shuttle.  A couple of minutes later, the announcer – I don’t recall if it was a reporter or an actual NASA employee – reveals to the spectators on site and the television viewing audience reveals that there has been a “major malfunction” and the shuttle has exploded.

I remember being shocked and sad for the people who were killed. The thing I remember most, however, is this little girl in the class that was watching becoming hysterical and inconsolable.  She just kept yelling, “No, that can’t happen. There is a teacher on that shuttle!”  That’s all she kept saying.  She was crying and yelling. The other kids were being really sweet and trying to calm her down while the teacher was doing the same thing.  The aides took the class back to their room, but the teacher had to take the girl to the office to the nurse so her parents could come get her. That stuck with me more than the image of those curling plumes of smoke I saw on TV.

A few years later, after I was out of college, I saw this girl with her parents at a baseball game I had take my grandma to.  Immediately, I was taken back to that day in the library and wondered if she ever thought about that day, if she ever got sad thinking about it, how it effected her over the years since I’d seen her.  I spoke to her because we had known each other in high school.  She remembered me, and seemed happy. To me her reaction was so pure and raw, so genuine because she didn’t have the constraints and reservations placed on us by how society expects us to act and react.  There have been plenty of times in my life where I wanted to yell “No! That can’t happen like that!”  Unfortunately, I have to hold that in and do my yelling later into my pillow or in the privacy of my house.

Today, on Yahoo!, I saw this link and it reminded me of that girl and made me wonder about her again.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/first-amateur-video-challenger-shuttle-explosion-revealed-185802006.html

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Like so many other people across the eons, Music has been a huge part of my development into the adult I am.  As a small child, every Saturday morning, after breakfast, Grandma put the stack of LPs on that big stereo that was a piece of furniture.  Some of you remember them, wooden, long, almost like a side board for the living room. Her tastes were as eclectic as mine are today.  The selection would include, Ray Charles, The Statler Brothers, Tammy Wynette, Elvis, George Jones, The Temptations, Liberace, Slim Whitman, some polka album she loved, etc.  I think to this day, Grandma is the reason I can’t clean without music pouring out of the house.  Obviously as I grew older, I began to make my own musical decisions. Grandma never, ever censored what we listened to, watched on television, movies we saw.  She would explain to us anything we had questions about.  Along with Grandma, I had my aunt, my mom and my best friend’s sister as musical influences.  They all listened to such variety. Between all of them, and the radio and my friends, I learned to love The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, KISS, Aerosmith, AC/DC. Loretta Lynn.  It runs the gambit.

As a small, small girl,  like 4 and 5, my favorite singers were Charlie Rich and Tom T. Hall. Charlie Rich was my all-time favorite.  “The Most Beautiful Girl” and “Behind Closed Doors” were always played for me at my request.  Of course, I had NO idea what “Behind Closed Doors” was really about, but I loved The Silver Fox, and so it didn’t really matter. We weren’t really allowed to park in front of the TV too much with Grandma, but we did get to watch Hee Haw. I can remember see Charlie perform on there.Tom T. Hall had an album “Tom T. Hall Sings for Kids”.  It had those songs “I Love” and “Sneaky Snake” on it. Grandma would play that album for me all the time.  It often made it in the Saturday morning stack.

Obviously by middle and high school, I had been exposed to hundreds of songs and bands. I have always had a different drummer to march to, so as much as liking mainstream music, I often went against the grain, and there ain’t no shame in my game.  Yes, I love bands like N*Sync and performers like Nelly, but I also like the Violent Femmes, The Clash, KISS, Metallica etc.

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Of all the music I have been exposed to, bought, downloaded, seen live, loved and hated, it’s almost impossible to pick out favorites because songs mean different things to you at different times, and sometimes, it’s just music for fun.  In March of 1987, I turned 18. That year, I had come to love Beastie Boys, much to the disdain of my best friends, until I just forced them to listen so often they caved in to the awesomeness.  There weren’t many preppy white kids at Dreher loving hip hop and rap, but I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood and was around black kids and white kids alike, so as my black friends were discovering rap and hip hop, I went along for the ride.  Beastie Boys “License to Ill” is still one of my top ten albums of all time.  But it wasn’t Mike D or Jam Master J who was invading my brain, heart, soul, bones.  It was as band I had been listening to for years, thanks to WUSC and MTV’s 120 minutes. That March, Bono, The Edge, Larry, and Adam moved in to my being, and never left. My best friend bought me the cassette “The Joshua Tree” for my birthday, and I was done.  From the first listen to that album, every song resonated with me in some way.  Even now, some songs can get me choked up, make me want to dance, laugh, get angry.  “With or Without You” got me through a broken teenaged heart. “Trip Through Your Wires” helped me realize yes, broken hearts are survivable. “Where the Streets Have No Name” made me want to explore my own small world and stretch it like a canvas.  I have owned dozens of copies of the cassette and CD because I have played the different  copies so often, they’ve needed to be replaced.  I will never change the radio station if one the songs on this album comes on.  I have heard Bono sing those songs to me in person, knowing that he IS singing them just for me while The Edge mesmerizes me with his guitar.

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The only other album that has come close to this level of intense connection for me is Pearl Jam’s first album, Ten.  I obtained a promo copy of this album from my friend and neighbor in college, Rob.  He wanted some sweatshirt I had, so we bartered.  I gave him a lime green champion sweatshirt for the CD that revolutionized my senior year in college. from the first note that came out of my shitty stereo, I fell in love.  Head over Heels in love.  Those grunge boys had nothing on Kurt and his crew, as far as I was concerned.  I loved Nirvana, but I absorbed Pearl Jam.  Again, another album that ANY song can take me back to that senior year.  My college boyfriend broke up with me and pulverized my heart that spring.  “Black”, “Oceans”, “Why Go” and “Alive” nursed me back to some semblance of sanity so that I was able to survive that once in a life time event, the moment your first love breaks your heart and leaves you stunned.  I could be angry and rock out “Evenflow”, “Porch” or “Deep” and just be loud and crunchy – Oh stone and Mike with those guitars.

No two albums will ever replace these as the albums that shaped my life and attitudes about so much.  I often wish my life was “The Kentucky Fried Movie” so I could have my own personal soundtrack as I moved from highs to lows, successes and defeats, boredom and excitement.  These albums would have a starring role.

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I have been on Facebook for a while now.  Since then, I have learned that several guys I went to high school and college with always wanted to ask me out but didn’t! At first, I was thinking, “Damn!  If you guys had stepped up, I wouldn’t have been dateless all through high school!”  Okay, It wasn’t that serious. I did have dates, but the  guys who have fessed up to me were definitely guys I would have gone out with, at least once.  I am not uppity, nor do I think I’m some goddess in flip flops. I AM picky, but mainly I’m picky in that I won’t date drug addicts, men who look like hobbits, trolls or ewoks, men who act like assholes to servers, old people or children, men who are not too bright, and men who take the world and themselves far too seriously.  Besides, I went to school with some pretty awesome guys, who I would have dated, except for a couple.

The men in college (and I use the term “men” loosely considering we were 18 to 22) didn’t stand a chance. I was completely in love.  I did have guys man up and ask me out, tell me to dump Bryan, date them, etc. It didn’t work, I was smitten and no cute hippie boy could sway me.  I wonder how my life would be different if I had said yes to Scott, Jeff or Craig (who is a doctor and was completely in love with me), but I don’t regret my decisions. The only regrets I do have don’t involve my love life at all.

After I thought about it, I realized those scaredy cat high school boys weren’t to blame. It’s hard enough to ask a girl out, but a girl who is full of confidence, realizes her own potential and future greatness? It would be easier to run naked through a football game. I have always been brazen and opinionated, not always top qualifications for a girl growing up in SC who was a little odd to begin with.  I should have made it easier for them but not seeming like a friend or a buddy. I was a flirt, but I was an equal opportunity flirt.  Bryan often commented on that, but he didn’t mind.  He understood that was just my way.  I also think that as amazing as this might seem to someone who doesn’t know me, I was a little scared myself.  I was scared for different reasons though.  I didn’t want to grow up and make mistakes my mother had made.  I WAS going to college, and I WAS NOT going to get knocked up in high school.  I kept boys at arm’s length oftentimes.  However, even now, if I set my sites on you.  You’re pretty much doomed. It’s rare that I don’t “get my man”

Now, I’m 42, never married and still not much of a dater,and I’m okay with that, because I suck at it.  I’m good at relationships, but I feel so awkward on dates.  This is probably why most of the guys I have dated were guys I was already friends with.

I wonder if any 25 years when I’m sixty, some old friend is going to come u to me at funeral or an bird buffet and tell me he always wanted to ask me out, but didn’t.  It reminds me of our friend Margie who passed away a couple of years ago.  This older man who no one knew was at her funeral and when her sister asked who he was, he told her that he had gone to college with Margie.  He said he had always been  in love with her but was too afraid of rejection to tell her how he felt. How sad for both of them.  Imagine the life they could have had? If he never married and loved her without being with her, imagine how much love they would have shared had he made that move.

So what Facebook has taught me is to Go for it.  Whether I will follow through, I will have to wait and see.

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For all of my bravado and audacity, I only show people about 70% of what I really am.  I usually say what I am thinking, but always know, I’m holding back just a bit.  Inside, I am usually repressing some feeling or thought that I think it’s safest to leave unspoken.  Safest for me.  I am generally, not concerned about how it will make me appear to most of the population, but I have gotten so used to agreeing to do things I really don’t want to do that it’s only a rare few that gets the gritty truth.  I have probably only revealed romantic interest in 5% of the men to whom I’ve actually been attracted. It’s much safer to not step out on that limb.  This I have learned the hard way.  I am not a heart on my sleeve kind of girl with my emotions, except those of the pissed off variety, but even those, I often tamp down – it’s usually not worth the uproar.  But for sure, sadness, disappointment, unrequited love – those will remain on the down-low, controlled and only displayed to a select few, no matter how raw or painful.

I often wish I could have grown up a crazy one.  The one who drinks daily, smokes weed, snorts, shoots up, doesn’t work, sleeps, mooches, disappoints, but most importantly, does so with  reckless uncaring abandon – regarding those who care for them.  I would love to just give in to insanity and blame all of my problems, failures, insecurities on some one thing or person.  The idea of just sitting in a mental hospital on drugs and telling people what they want to hear is appealing.  Unfortunately, at some point they’d see through my ruse.  They’d know I’m no more crazy than the next man or woman.   The ironic thing about this, I am pretty sure I”m in the majority.

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So, it’s been a while since I have done shown some love (and some unlove)

Things I am loving right now:

**almond bear claws from Publix

**teen lit

**my new teaching ideas

**snapped

**fresh, new razor cartridges

**the promise of fall in the air some mornings

**the reminder of summer in the air most afternoons

**planning my halloween costume

**playing with Matthew

**my new clinique mascara

**walker’s short bread

**my friends

**all of my dog/house/pool sitting jobs

**tammy’s pimento cheese

**thinking about the SC State Fair in a month!!

**reading my students’ journals (my favorite of which was a funny, cute account of trying to get Justin Beiber’s phone number on Twitter)

**our seventh graders this year

**ginger ale

**goat cheese

**sushi

**orbit spearmint gum

**my kitties

**a certain man who can always make me laugh

**movies

**new tv line ups

**project runway

**tim gunn telling off one of the contestants on PR

**Pinnacle whipped cream vodka with orange juice

**Jon Stewart and The Daily Show

**HeelTastic

**new season of The Amazing Race in two weeks!
Stuff I am not loving….

>>fall allergy season (achoooo)

>>car repairs

>>itchiness

>>being too busy to walk (which will be rectified this week!)

>>my  tan is fading

>>extremists who are intolerant

>>the stinkiness of the river

>>lazy students

>>my messy room

>>judgmental people who don’t know what they’re talking about

>>not being a trustfund baby or lottery winner

>>reruns

>>those ankle boot sandals mutations

>>jelly shoes

>>katy perry songs (all of them)

>>my spilling everything

>>my crappy old ass mattress

>>my crappy ankle

>>white chocolate

>>raspberry anything

>>lemon anything

>>the new cherry 7UP formula

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