Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Courage and Convictions

I hate confrontation. Seriously. There are few things in the world which I dislike more than I dislike confrontation.

That being said, it is perhaps also true that I have been known to do things that might possibly be perceived as mildly...provocative...but really with only the hope that somebody might find it amusing rather than offensive. But sometimes folks just find it - or me - plainly offensive.

I've had a rather difficult time this year deciding whom to support in the presidential race. I shall refer to my two choices as the Rock Star and the Queen Bee, because I don't want anyone who might have a Google Alert set up for either of them to flood my comments box with invective, as I have read that some of the Rock Star's fans tend to do. I don't normally find myself in a quandary, because I generally find only one person who has the qualities I can support - but since Elizabeth's husband has dropped out, and the former vice-president doesn't seem to want to run, I had to find someone else.

So I voted Monday for the Queen Bee in the Texas primary. And then, I put an "H-2008" sticker on the back window of my car.

Now, last election, I had a "J squared" sticker (get it? Kerry-Edwards? John and John? Heh.) on my car, and I got flipped off a few times, mostly by soccer moms with North Lamar stickers on their SUVs, but that's pretty much par for the course here in town. That's kind of a non-confrontational confrontation, and I was okay with that.

Today, however, I went to Walmart and parked in kind of the far corner of the lot, as I usually do (so I can get more steps in for the day), and as I got out of the car, there was a big ol' dually pickup that came up my lane. I noticed that it kind of slowed down as it passed my car. I kept walking toward the store when I heard this voice yelling "Lady! Hey lady!" I looked back, and the driver of the truck was yelling at me. I stopped, thinking maybe he'd noticed a problem with one of my tires or something, when he pulled up beside me and said, "what does that H2008 thing mean on that car? You ain't gon' vote fer that b**ch, are ya?"

Understand, now, in my mind I'm going HelpMeJesusHelpMeJesusHelpMeJesus, and I just kind of smile and keep on walking, but he keeps on talking: "HEY! You ain't gon' vote fer her, are ya? Cause that's just plain g*d-d**mned un-American."

And, frankly, that just kind of p*ssed me off. Because, on the short list of things I hate MORE than confrontation? Questioning my patriotism because I'm not a right-wing zealot is right there in the number one spot.

Personal aside: for Randy, my kids, and my friends, who are reading this and thinking I have gone completely nuts, it was 2:00 on a bright, sunny afternoon. I was pretty close to the store by this time, I could see other people around, and my cell phone was open, ready to dial for help if I needed to. AND I'm still going HelpMeJesusHelpMeJesusHelpMeJesus. No worries.

So I stopped, looked at him, and said: "no, sir, I'm not PLANNING to vote for her. I actually already have."

And he responded with a short string of profanities, followed by this sort of sneering question: "I bet you don't even believe in Jesus, do ya?"

And I kind of snickered, because me and Jesus, we'd been talking - a LOT - in those past few minutes.

"Why, yes, sir, I DO believe in Jesus," I replied. "Do you?"

Then I realized that that might have gotten me in trouble, so I started walking again. He sort of spewed more profanities, then sputtered, "h*ll yeah, I believe in Jesus." Those six words? Made Jesus so proud.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a kid out collecting carts, who was kind of looking towards us, like he might think I was in trouble, so - hoping that I could just end this - I said: "well then, the good thing for both of us is that when we get to heaven, Jesus isn't gonna ask us who we voted for, is He? He's just gonna say, 'come on in, I've been expecting you!'" And I turned and grabbed a stray cart (because I needed something to help support my by-then rubbery legs) and walked on toward the store. The guy floored his engine, went on to the end of the row and turned to head out to Lamar Avenue.


As I walked past the cart kid, he said, "everything all right today, ma'am?"

I took a deep breath and smiled. "Yes," I said, "I believe that it is."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How to Look Good: Ignoring the Voices in Your Head

One of my favorite shows this year is How to Look Good Naked on Lifetime. I think Carson Kressley is a HOOT, and the show really brings an honest look at body image, and how women truly do not see themselves the way others see them. This has really struck home with me, in a pretty personal way.

All my life, I have struggled with my weight. When I was a kid, I was the "skinny" one. My mother used to make me chocolate milk every night before I went to bed, and she would stir about a half cup of Nestles Quik into the milk (I know this because I used to eat the undissolved Quik from the bottom of the glass), and she'd also stir an egg in there. A. Raw. Egg.

Because I was, you know, too skinny. And apparently, also resistant to salmonella.

But the thing was, I loved vegetables. And salad. When Daddy was sent to Miami to work, in late 1962, Mama and I went to stay with him for a little while. Long story, involving the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, but that's a story for another day. ANYWAY, Daddy had found this restaurant he knew I'd just love, because it had the first salad bar we'd ever seen. And he was right- I did love that place. It had lettuce and carrots and cucumbers and celery and radishes, all in huge silver bowls that YOU COULD GO BACK AND GET MORE FROM! AS MUCH AS YOU WANTED! ANYTIME YOU WANTED! FOR AS LONG AS YOUR PARENTS WOULD LET YOU STAY! I was in heaven.

And I was a pretty active kid. Those were the days when you'd ride your bike home from school, change clothes and go directly outside, where you stayed until somebody called you in for supper. In the summertime, Mama would send me outside after breakfast, and that would be about it until suppertime. There were always neighbor kids around, and nobody's mother would let us come in the house. I mean, we must have been FILTHY, and all the mothers had Just mopped the floor! Don't you dare come in this house!

Want a drink of water? There's the hose. A snack? Here's a sandwich - eat at the picnic table. Bathroom? Is it an emergency? Put on these flipflops and don't touch anything! I just mopped the floor!

When we moved to Naples, it was pretty much the same. We all walked to school, and after school, we'd play in the stairwells in our building all afternoon, until one of our mothers would open their door and yell (in English or Italian, depending on whose mother) at us to Be quiet, for crying out loud! Ai-yi-yi, la mia testa facente male! My aching head! Still, I was the skinny one.

Then came my sixth grade year, and I went to live with my aunts. Another long story, for another time. They were determined to put some weight on me, and boy, did they work hard at it. After school snacks of whole milk or Coca-Cola or both, with fig newtons toasted in a skillet with butter all over them. Cream cheese sandwiches. The vegetables I still loved, only cooked with bacon grease or butter, or salads drenched in mayonnaise-y dressings. And playing outside was a no-no, because young ladies don't get dirty. Sure enough, I pudged right on up, and they thought I was adorable.

Then that year of hog heaven ended, and Mama and Daddy and I moved to Enterprise and the farm. And I was active again, on the farm, and at school. I jogged regularly. I helped on the farm. I went back to eating raw vegetables. I was a healthy girl. But my mother, for various reasons, most of which (I know now) had nothing at all to do with me, but mostly to do with her own unhappiness, devoted a good bit of time to telling me how fat I was. And how she'd love me more if I'd just lose some of that weight. And wouldn't it be nice if I was thin like her friend's daughters - their mothers were so proud of them, and she'd love to be proud of me like that.

All through high school, that's the message I heard more than any other. That I wasn't...enough, somehow. That the good grades, or the stuff I did at church, or anything else that I did, just wasn't enough for my mother. And I believed it. I wondered how in the world would I ever find somebody to love me when I looked like I did. I'd end up an old maid schoolteacher, dried up and hopeless, and all because I was so fat.

Stay with me here...I know this is depressing, but I'm getting to my point. I was going through some old picture albums last weekend, and I found some pictures that I probably haven't looked at since before Randy and I married. I found one that just floored me. This picture was taken at Christmas during my senior year - 1972.

I know - some of you have never seen me with hair that dark!

But here's my point: I weighed 125 pounds. All through high school. And I wonder how much of my weight struggle - the blimping up and the thinning down I have done through the years - could have been avoided if I'd had a mental picture then of what I actually looked liked, rather than what my mother's voice in my head was telling me.

I wish I'd been able to watch Carson Kressley back then.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interesting Things Sammie & I See on Our Walks

Today was trash day. Sammie loves Tuesdays and Fridays, because there are so many more interesting smells than usual. I enjoy them because I get to see what my neighbors throw away. Today we saw one home throwing away four empty 24 packs of Bud Light, and an empty, Sam's-sized case of Depends. Must have been a large weekend at that house.

Randy thinks I can find a conspiracy under every rock. But I can't help but wonder: Could these two things be related, somehow?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Resting on Our Laurels

Literally. Resting.

We have finished the Big Bedroom Makeover, except for the last little details - filling and painting the nail holes in the baseboards, a couple of prints that need to be professionally framed, and a recliner that needs to be picked up and brought home - and our latest project will be done. It has turned out even better than we had hoped. Paula and Denise came by tonight to pick me up for dinner, and agreed that it finally looks like us.

Frank Lloyd Wright has arrived safely in Tuscany.

La stanza รจ molto bella e stiamo godendo felicemente "riposarsi" sui nostri allori. The room is very beautiful, and we are happily enjoying "resting" on our laurels.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Giving, Squared.

So I used up my whole year's allotment of exclamation points in my post about my XO sorry. In my defense, it was late, I was tired, and it really is just the coolest little thing.

And while the computer itself IS neat, Denise is right....the actual GIVING part is even neater. I like thinking that somewhere in the world, some little kid is opening his or her computer for the first time (she'll probably figure out how a little more quickly than I did), and turning it on with as much excitement as I had when I opened mine.

I hope that one of the things he learns with it, is that somebody else, somewhere in the world, cares.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I Gave One...and I GOT ONE!!!!!!

I am posting this from my new XO laptop!!! I have pictures, but I'm going to have to post them from my desktop in just a second. Later, I will figure out how to do that from here, but it's nearly midnight, and I want to get this up and go to bed! We just drove in from Lubbock...and this was on the front porch!! I have my Moto Q to thank for my ability to type on this itty-bitty keyboard!

Oh my goodness, it is just unbelievably cool!