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June 4, 1987, I had it ALL planned out, no vision boards necessary. The next ten years were all laid out in my head.  I would go to the College of Charleston, live with my best friend, become a child psychologist, find Mr. Right, get married, have 3 kids (all boys) and live happily ever after.  HAHAHA!  Oh, how much I knew at 18.  I did go to C of C and live with Amy Jo.  That’s about as far as I got in my 10-year plan.  During my Freshman year, I met and fell in love with who thought was my Mr. Right.  We were together for 4 years, then broke up the month I graduated.  During my Sophomore year, I decided I didn’t want to be a child psychologist.  I had always thought about teaching and law school.  So, obviously, the next step was to obtain a very useful English degree.  While I was doing that, I was also taking education classes so I could teach when I graduated, until I went to law school.  Changing my major and my overly active social life, plus working three jobs screwed up my credit hours, I ended up getting to the end of my financial aid eligibility and not finishing my student teaching.  I graduated.  I moved home.  I got a job in a law firm.  I got my paralegal certificate.

All that time, I was living with my grandmother.  Ultimately, we would live together until her death.  She could not financially take care of herself when she got too old to work, so I took over the bills.  I was glad to do it.  She had worked hard her entire life.  She deserved some time to lounge around and a little pocket money from her Social Security check.

Fast forward 20 years from my high school graduation.  My grandma passes away.  She had been ill and chose to no longer take her medications.  The event in my life that I am most proud of is allowing her the dignity of her death. She never wanted to be in a hospital, hooked up to machines.  My entire life she had always told us she wanted to die at home.  That was my last gift to her.  She died in her bed surrounded by her family and friends.  I will never regret that decision.

So, I still hadn’t found Mr. Right, had three sons but I was living pretty happily, aside from the normal grief that comes with life and death.  Ultimately, I did find and marry Mr. Right.  Unfortunately, it was rather late in life and I don’t know that we will have 1 child, much less three.  I can take some solace in knowing that I have had the joy of impacting the lives of hundreds of children.

Now, 30 years later, almost to the day, my senior class is celebrating and preparing for our reunion.  I am seeing lots of family and friends graduate or promote from kindergarten, middle school, high school and college.  I think about all of those high school and college graduates and their “plans”.  I can only offer advice that at 18 or 22 you’re probably not going to think is very realistic.

First, take chances.  Don’t sit and wait for anything to come to you.  It won’t.  Whether it’s a job opportunity or that special girl or guy, you have to go after it.  Time is not on your side.  In one blink, you are 30 then 40 then 30 again (haha).

Second, forgive.  Don’t hold grudges or hatred towards someone else, if you can avoid it.  It only makes you feel bad.  They usually don’t even know or care.  Forgiveness is more for you than for the other person.  It allows you to move on.

Third, don’t wait.  That’s similar to taking chances, but different.  Don’t wait for that ex-girlfriend to realize she wants you back.  Don’t wait until your 40 and then decide you want to go to law school, but realize you have too many adult responsibilities to justify another $100k for schooling.

Fourth, have fun!  There are so many amazing things you can do.  Travel alone, meet new people.  Take that class in class French cuisine or creative writing.  Plant flowers in the yard because you LIKE that, not because you want your yard to live up to the Joneses down the road.  Be silly.  It’s okay to laugh at yourself.  It’s pretty necessary actually to keep a sane mind

Fifth, let the people you love know it.  I have a friend whose parents never say they love each other or even tell this man or his sister that they love them.   I tell my husband multiple times a day that I love him.

Sixth, actions speak louder than words.  Sometimes idioms enter our culture because they are true.  Thought you may tell others you love them, SHOW them you love them. Clean up the cat barf because you know your wife doesn’t like to.  Call and make the dental appointment because you know your husband hates talking on the phone.  You can still be a snarky jackass and show kindness.  Just ask me, I do it every day.

Seventh, cut the people out who need to be cut out.  Sometimes, we have to “break up” with friends and even family because they are toxic to our lives.  We must watch out for ourselves sometimes.  It’s not easy, but sometimes it is necessary for your well-being.

Eighth, sometimes we don’t know everything.  Whether you’re new to a job or in a workplace, whether you are going through an illness or a divorce, SOMEONE has been there before and can give you reassurances, guidance and an empathic ear.

Ninth, step out of your comfort zone.  Try new things that scare you! Public speaking! Parachuting out of an airplane! Asking that person out! Getting out of your rut will invigorate you!

Tenth, finally, ignore all of this if you want, because ultimately, it’s your life to live and no one can judge you for your decisions and how you carve your path.  As long as your actions don’t inflict harm on others, trudge on.

I’m not writing this just for you nubile adults just graduating.  Sometimes we old folks need a reminder, too.

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My husband and I have  tried (happily) to get pregnant since we  were married in 2013.   We have had no success, most likely due to my age.  We decided that at the beginning of January 2017 we would start the process to adopt a baby.  On  New Year’s Eve, we met someone who has a step-daughter who is pregnant.  She is an 18 year old honor student who is in college and doing well.  She does not want children at this time, if ever.  After some discussions, the step-mom agreed to talk to the daughter some more about adoption, which is the option she was going with.  Thankfully, after meeting she agreed to allow us to adopt her baby!  I almost threw up I was so excited, and Jennings cried.  This is something we have wanted for so long and  never thought we’d have,  even with adoption as an option.  We have many friends who have adopted  children or who were adopted themselves.   I was able to get the perspective from different angles, and I still have more questions!

I come from a very small family, and never knew my father or his family.  Jennings comes from an extended family so  big we barely see everyone unless it’s a wedding or a funeral. We always want our baby to know that she or he is adopted and that we chose them for our small family.

The process is so different for everyone, and my husband gets sucked into to Google-land, so what we actually have to do gets confusing!  We finally meet with an attorney next week.  The baby is due on April 14th.  This is all going to be happening FAST.  Adoption is very expensive, so we have created a GoFundMe to help offset the legal, hospital and court fees/costs.  I have attached our story (in more detail) and our donation page.  If you are feeling philanthropic and wish to practice a random act of guidance, please consider helping us in our quest. Our Go Fund Me Page

Gratefully,

Kim

We Are Adopting

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Roof Repairs

If you’ve read my blog or know me, you know that my grandma raised me.  We had so many adventures.  She also taught me so many lessons. I might not have realized it at the time, but now, as I think back on them, I can find the lesson she maybe never intended, but I took away from the event anyway.  Some of these helped me develop my character and my personality.  Every single day I am more and more like her, which is ok with me.  One of my best traits is my tenacity.  I do not give up.  Once I set my sites on something, I usually get what I want either through hard work, diligence or a little fancy manipulation.  This story really happened and as annoyed as I was at the time, it has become one of my favorite memories of our time together.  I would do anything to get roped into one of her plans again.

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“Kim!” my grandma called from the living room.

I got up from my comfy spot on the bed where I was reading a book and went to the living room.  Why didn’t I just yell, “What?”  from the bedroom?  Because you NEVER yelled what.  You always went to her.  It was a “rule” that was instilled from the minute you started communicating in my family.  After 30 years of living with her, I knew the drill.

“Yes, ma’am?” I said.

“Sit down.  I have an idea for a project for us,” she said.  Two things that are important about this statement.  The first thing: anytime she had a project it rarely worked out, which no one really pointed out unless she did, and usually the end-result was more humorous than devastating.  The second thing: “us” meant I would do all of the actual work while she oversaw the operation.

I rolled my eyes and plopped down on the sofa.  “Let’s hear it”.

“You know that garage in the backyard?” she asked.  Do I know the garage?  We have lived here since I was ten.  The garage has never held a vehicle since we moved in during the Spring of 1979.   My great uncle, her brother, used it as a woodworking shop when he lived with us.  Since then, it has basically become the catchall for anything not of value or necessary for yard work.  We have always called it the garage, but really, it’s more of a shed, and it’s completely dilapidated.

“You mean the shed that has been in the backyard my entire life?  The one that houses the lawn mower that I used to mow our yard? That “garage”?’

“Don’t be a smartass. Yes, that GARAGE.  Anyway, you know there are a few holes in the roof.  I was thinking we could get one of those extra-large blue tarps from the hardware store and spread it over the top, then secure it with that heavy-duty stapler. What do you think?”

“I don’t really want to spend all day securing a tarp to the roof of that building that is falling down anyway.” I replied.

“Oh, it should only take about 15 minutes to get up on the ladder and spread it out then we can go grab some lunch.”  She thought she could bribe me.  I would eventually agree, not for the food, but because she would pout the rest of the weekend and tell our other family and friends that “Kim refused to help me”.  No one would believe her, of course, but this was just easier.  I had to get a few jabs in first, because as anyone who knows me can attest, I don’t know when to shut my damned mouth.  Luckily, she was in a good mood.

“Oh, just 15, huh? Like the half hour it would take for me dig up every yucca plant in our yard and replant them under the windows for a – what did you call it? – “natural security system”.  Or like the hour it was going to take you and Aunt Mel to prop our heavy ass iron and porcelain sink up on three thin pieces of plywood, AFTER you had destroyed the cabinet tearing it out.  That kind of 15 minutes?”

She cackled her 61-year-old woman’s smoker’s laugh and told me to forget that, she was SURE this wouldn’t take long.

She gets up with her cigarette case and the cordless phone, as I glance at the clock: 12:25 p.m. We walk through the length of the house to the backyard where we stand and appraise the “garage”.

“Ok, there is a pretty big tarp in the garage.  I’ll grab that while you set up the ladder,” she ordered, with a cigarette dangling from her lip.

I rolled my eyes and trudged into the shed. I grabbed the ladder and set it up at the front of the shed.  Gramma came out with the tarp, and, after I had climbed up the ladder, she handed it up to me.  “Ok, just unfurl it like you do a bed sheet.”

After several attempts of me flailing my arms around with this heavy tarp, Gramma starts to “supervise”. “C’mon,” she says in her Indiana twang, “quit screwing around up there!”

“First, this is a heavy plastic sharp, not a thin cotton sheet. Second, you can come up here and do it while I watch, if you’d rather!”  I finally get the tarp spread enough to then move the ladder and grab the tarp from the side and sort of shimmy it down.  Eventually the tarp is what can sort of be considered “flat”.  It covers maybe 1/3 of the roof.  Also, at least 20 minutes has passed.  “Ok, that’s done, and it’s been 20 minutes,” I attempt to get out of it.

“Well, we’re just going to have to go to the hardware store and get a larger one.  I was trying to save us some time,” she said.  Here we go I thought.  The rest of the day is shot.

“Ok, but we are picking up lunch while we’re out.  This is going to be an endeavor, I can see that now,” I was sitting my foot down now.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine.”

After we have grabbed a quick sandwich and some fries, and picked up a larger tarp, we go home and make our second attempt. It’s now 1:57.

“Ok, this should be easier because the tarp is new and slick,” she offers as what I suppose is encouragement.

As, I climb up the ladder and repeat the last attempt with the same futility, she stands on the ground laughing and smoking, giving me directions, because of course if she was just a little younger and not on a blood thinner, she would gladly get up there and do it herself.

Once again, the tarp isn’t long enough to suit her.  It’s 2:27. My thirty minutes of effort is not up to par. So, covered in sweat, dirty and itchy from all the pine straw and other crud on the roof, I trek back to Hiller Hardware for a third tarp.  I buy the biggest size they make.  It’s huge.  I am certain we could use it to tarp our entire house and have some extra.

As I walk in, she jerks up from the sofa, where she has been…NAPPING! “Ooooh, I see.  I am out running around in the South Carolina, June heat with your fifteen-minute project and you’re here in the AC napping!”

“Quit yer bitchin’.  I’m old.” Well, how can I argue with that?

So, I stomp out to the back yard with her trailing behind me lighting her cigarette as we go.  “If this doesn’t work, we just have to give up, Gramma.”

“Ok, Ok, well let’s try this one.”  It’s almost four in the afternoon at this point. I climb up the ladder and start the now-familiar process again.  Having done it twice, I begrudgingly admit to her that it’s a little easier now.  “See! I know we could do it!”

“We, huh?”

Heh heh heh (smoker’s cough again)

FINALLY! I have the tarp spread out on top of the shed. “OK, here is the stapler.” I make the first attempt to staple the tarp down.  The staple goes completely through the dry rotted wood.

“Gramma, this roof is like a sponge.  There’s no way to staple it!”

“Just try it a few other places.” So of course, I do, and of course it doesn’t work.  “Ok, I have an idea.”

“Oh hell.  An idea is what has had me stuck on this ladder for four hours today!”

“Just listen. Just listen.”

I roll my eyes as she continues, signature, generic brand Ultra Light cigarette waving in her hand as she gesticulates her plan. “Let’s grab a few cinder blocks and just toss them up there to hold it down.  If we don’t secure it, the damned thing’s just gonna fly off, and all of our (OUR!?) hard work will have been for nothing.  So just come down here and grab one and toss it over.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘just toss’ a block of cement, huh?  Are you insane?  I am calling your doctors Monday morning, and we’re getting a CT scan.  You’ve lost it now.”

“Quit being rude.  Take this.”  She fumbles to hand me the cement block and manipulate her cigarette.

I take the cement block and “toss” it as best I can.  It sort of tumbles across the roof before it crashes through the dry rotted roof and drags the entire tarp with it through the hole.  At this point, we both just lose it. We are laughing so hard at this complete failure of her plan.

When we finally get ourselves together, I say. “I am NOT doing that again. It doesn’t work.”

As we are cleaning up, she says, “Ok, we can try again next weekend.”

 

 

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So, I am back on WordPress.  I have been neglecting my blog and my writing, so my husband bought me a domain name for christmas.  www.booknurd.com.  This is the website, so you probably figured that out.  I want to expand the site to include different areas, but for the time being it will just be a blog.

 

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Known

Image

I was just looking at my cat, Gus, thinking, “I have known you all but 3 weeks of your little kitty cat life”.  That got me thinking, about who I have known all of their lives, from the minute they were born.  Then I started thinking about who has known me since I was born. At this point, the only person who has known me all the years I was alive during their life time was my gramma. We lived together the first 18 years; I went to college and came home to live with her for the next 18.  Even in college or when I was out of town, there wasn’t a full week that went by that we didn’t at least talk on the phone.  I can’t say that about anyone else.  I have known my niece and nephew since they were born, my cousins, my sister, but there have been gaps in the times I have been in communication with them. 

This isn’t the first time, that I have gotten teary-eyed thinking that the person I loved the most on the planet isn’t here.  The person who drove me crazy, made me laugh, encouraged me, scolded me is gone. The one person who was always there.  If you have a one person who is always there, don’t lose that.  My cousin can say that about her children.  She is always there for them.  She knows what’s going on in their lives.  She loves them unconditionally.

I know lots of people who are close to their parents and talk weekly, monthly, daily.  I know that my friends and others might think I “wasted” my youth living with Gramma, caring for her, dealing with her when others couldn’t and wouldn’t. I have never felt that way.  I have never regretted keeping her with me until literally the minute she died.  It is the thing I am proudest of, and not to toot my own horn, but I have plenty to be proud of, but this is it for me. 

She would have been 83 this year, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I do think about her daily.  More days than not it’s to laugh about something silly she did or said.  Sometimes, I see an older lady in a grocery store, drug store, restaurant, sitting at a bus stop, and I suck in my breath because they strike a resemblance or dig up a lost memory. I have gotten past the crying every time I talk about her stage of grieving, but holidays are still not as fun as they once were, and her birthday is no exception.  We always celebrated our birthdays big in my family.  For her 75th birthday, I called all over town to find a florist who would deliver 75 gladiolas to her.  Most just didn’t have that many, but one older woman was so touched by it, that she tracked down 75 for me and delivered them all.  When I got home, Gramma said, “Well, I guess I know what my funeral will be like”.  She loved them, but a morbid sense of humor is a family trait.

She loved cardinals as well.  Whenever I see one, I take that as a greeting from her, a little, “You’ll be fine”. So, tomorrow or any other day if you see a cardinal, just know that I’ll be fine. 

 

 

 

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http://gizmodo.com/5933688/its-ok-to-be-a-hater-because-everything-is-bad

This is exactly how I feel about most things. haha

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I am not sure exactly which book it was that I read that made me think, “Holy CRAP, this is something I love to do”.  Ok, I probably didn’t say “crap” because I have been reading since I was 3.  I know that as a child, there were several books that spoke to me even at a young age.  I can remember reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and being very moved by the love and loyalty Mike had for Mary Anne.  I know that was a book that spoke to me as a child, but I don’t know that it was “The One”.  I know I loved Dr. Seuss, Peggy Parrish with her Amelia Bedelia stories, Ramona Quinby and her sister Beezus by Beverly Cleary, Bunnicula and a list of others.  I remember as I got older Judy Blume was there to assure me that everything was ok and every other girl or boy my age felt about the same away I did.  I know the same copy of Forever floated around Dreher High School.   I read classics.  At ten, Wuthering Heights was a favorite.  It seemed very romantic to my unexperienced mind.  In 7th grade I think I was the only person who checked out Little Women, and I read it multiple times and enjoyed it each time.    I have had books taken from me at the dinner table.  I have walked to and from school with my nose in a book, oblivious to traffic or others around me.  I have ridden thousands of hours on the city bus reading each mile and, if I was not on a bus with a regular driver, I would often miss my stop.  Books were my babysitter.  They are what kept me out of trouble throughout school.  “Just let her read, and she won’t disturb her classmates” was written about me each year to the new teacher in elementary school.  Thank God for amazing teachers.

In high school I was a total nerd and read ALL TEN selections each summer on my summer reading list.  We had to choose two. That was where I found Ethan From, The Catcher in the Rye, The Sun Also Rises (with one of my favorite literary heroes, Jake Barnes, who I sort of fell in love with that summer) and so many more I can’t even remember.  I actually read books in high school that weren’t assigned.

Reading was, and still is, the only time I felt calm and relaxed.  I can sit and read a book for hours.  I can’t do much else for hours.  I become intrinsically attached to  the characters.  I have cried with and for the crazies in the series Flowers in the Attic.  I sobbed during the last 50 pages of Where the Red Fern Grows and was so thankful my 7th grade Reading teacher told me to stop on page so and so and finish it at home.  I have cried with Harry Potter, Woodrow call, at least one character in every Pat Conroy book, Lennie, Granger and Montag.  I have hated characters (most recently nearly every character in A Game of Thrones series).  I have loved characters.  I have cussed out characters. I have thrown books.  I have read and forgotten more books than many people will ever read or even know about.  I have read amazing books (To Kill A Mockingbird, Lonesome Dove).  I have read shitty books (Twilight all of them, The Notebook  – luckily, I never read anymore past that tripe), but I would read a shitty book over not reading ANY books.

I have met some of my favorite authors.  In first grade Peggy Parrish, who is an SC native, and the author of the Amelia Bedelia books came to my school.  I was STARSTRUCK.  I met Pat Conroy, more than once.  I couldn’t even SPEAK.  Anyone who knows me knows this is a grand feat in itself.  I met Frank McCourt.  I met Robert Olen Bulter and Fred Chappell. These are all authors I hold in high regard. I have met other as well. I volunteer at the SC Book Festival each year, just on the off chance I get to meet someone.

But, no, I can’t tell you the minute or the day or the book that made me a lifelong lover of books and words.  I only know that once I started, there was no stopping me.   Nothing speaks to me, touches my soul, consoles me, entertains me, evokes every emotion on the spectrum nor delights me to no end like reading a book.  I have used books as a way to escape reality and procrastinate dealing with problems, but I have a crazy brain that might be doing one thing, but in the background it’s creating a solution to a problem or dealing with an issue. Reading is just a catharsis that allows my brain to protect itself as it purges the negativity out.  I would sooner lose a limb or my hearing that lose my sight or the ability to read.  Reading is such much a part of me that, as a teacher, it seems like it should just be as natural for everyone. I find it very challenging to teach reading.  It to me should just come naturally for everyone. I don’t remember when I couldn’t read, so my own personal reading history and experience can actually work against me as I try to teach others to read and instil the same love for it that I have always had.   Luckily, I DO have successes. It excites me to no end to find books that my kids love.  I love to see a kid who has always hated reading because no one really took the time to help him choose books that he might actually ENJOY.

If I am lucky, I will die with a book in my hand.

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