Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WTnotthebadFword Wednesdays: FAME!

This, kids, is my lunch box from first grade. As you can see, it features Cocoa, Leroy, the teacher played by Debbie Allen and the whole Fame Gang. I proudly carried this lunch box as an expression of who I was as a six-year-old, just struggling along, waiting for my big break on Broadway, trying to rise above the gritty streets by devoting myself to my craft.

Or, you know, as a white kid in some homemade knickers and mongrammed sweater, going to a Christian school in Paragould, AR.

Along about the 4th grade, I was in a talent contest at the fair. Well, I should clarify that this was actually the Northeast Arkansas District Fair, not just some piddly county fair, and, for further clarification, it was a preliminary competition for the Mid-South Fair. For this big moment (my big break?!?), no other song but "Fame" would do. So there I was, in the sweltering September heat, wearing a tuxedo shirt, red sequin bowtie and cummerbund, and some lycra pants on which my Mom had sewed a red sequin stripe all the way down the side of both legs. Oh, and my hair in a side ponytail with a sequin scrunchy---because how else would I wear my hair when I am up there belting out, "Baby, remember my name" (remembah, remembah)?

I am rather on a roll of self-disclosure here, so I will go ahead and tell this part, too: There comes a point in the song (karaoke tape) that is the height of 80's synthesized musical breaks...and being a gal who does not like to waste a moment on stage, I decide that this is the perfect opportunity for me to show off some of my other skills, namely, doing a back handspring, followed by a toe-touch. Oh, yes I did. And then I ran back to pick up the mic off the floor and close with a rousing, one-step-higher-for-effect chorus. Remembah, remembah...Fame! (aaaaaaaaaand....jazz hands!)

I am pretty sure that my mom went to bed that night wondering why she had been stuck with the most ridiculous child on the face of the earth.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Track Musings

My beginner's running group meets on Thursday mornings (did I mention this is at 5:30am? No? Oh, it is. That's really early, in case you did not know). Even though it was cold again, it was nice to be outside in the not-rain. The track is right in the middle of town, so you get to experience the whole place waking up: the birds are getting warmed up, the traffic starts to buzz, the lights begin to flicker on up and down Main Street and Caraway.

So far, I am really enjoying the training program we are using. I definitely feel like I'm being pushed, but not pushed so far that I fear I might collapse in a heap on the asphalt. Most of the time, I'm comfortable enough that I can let my mind wander. This morning I had all manner of profound thoughts that I wanted to write about. I mean, so many deep insights that I was going to make a list of them so I would have months of blog fodder.

Then, just as we wrapped up our session, the leader said, "Hey, we got in a full 3 miles today."
Three miles. And then every profound thought I had went to the four winds. For the first time, I actually believe I will be able to complete this training program. Feel free to say, "you go, girl" at this point, even though that's really outdated. Has some new phrase replaced that one? I would like to start using it, if so.

Down side to this revelation: It is only 8:50 and I am already a little sore. Off to find the ibuprofen for a preemptive strike.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Introducing...WTF Wednesdays

I have suspected since my college days that, while other days of the week have the standard 24 hours, Wednesday must have at least 27 or -8. At least. I generally like Wednesdays, I suppose, they are just soooooooooooooooooooo long. Maybe it's because there are still 2 days of the workweek staring you down. Maybe it's the threat of eternal damnation hanging over you--because what if I skip church and then Jesus comes back tonight?!? Maybe it is because there is more rain on Wednesdays than any other day of the week. (I have no proof for that, but I feel it in my bones, and I see it in my horrible humidity hair.) Maybe it is because every other blogger I know does "WFMW" and, truthfully, very little works for me and when I see that abbreviation, I always think of "WTF" and that has a bad word in it.

And that makes me laugh.

And SO....I am going to introduce WTF Wednesdays, except F stands for flip or freak or fudge but not the bad F-word. I'm not exactly sure what this most excellent theme day will actually be about, will be most excellent. Just off the top of my head, I can think of 2 options we have here:
Option 1: I can blog about things that make me say to myself, "Self, WTF?" (again, not the bad F-word), or
Option 2: I can blog about things that start with F. I am, for some reason, drawn to this option because it seems very much like Sesame Street. In the good way.
Option 3: Yet to be determined, but will be suggested by some brilliant friend of mine.

Okay, all 3 of you readers, you have until next Tuesday to vote or make a suggestion. See, isn't this great? I am giving control to the readers. You, YOU! (yes, and you, too, third reader) have the power here. Don't waste it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

These Boots are Made for Walking

or, perhaps I should say these chacos are made for walking...

About a year and a half ago, our family moved from a house on the outskirts of town to a place right smack-dab in the middle of our community. We live directly behind the city high school, and that's about as centrally located as it gets. Our friends who live in big cities scoffed at our complaints about the "long commute" into town, but that extra 15 minutes (one-way) really did add up to a lot of time over the course of the week---especially in a town where the pace of life doesn't really include padding for a commute.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, the change for us has been fantastic. We live less than one mile from the library, grocery store, church building and MG's work, which means a whole lot more time at home and a whole lot less time sitting at fast food restaurants. For MG, it means a fraction of the time spent on the road. For me and the Little Guy, it means we hit the road the old-fashioned way: on foot. (Okay, and in jogging stroller, although that is not so old-fashioned.)

I began to embrace the habit of walking on daily errands when I spent 2 months in Antigua last year as we completed John Mark's adoption. A stroller wasn't even feasible on the cobblestone streets there, so I would put him in the sling and set out on foot to sightsee, grocery shop, meet up with friends, whatever my agenda held for the day. At times, it was a huge hassle (read: crying baby plus poopy diaper plus hungry mama plus sacks of groceries plus big scary buses running you off the road), but, on the whole, it was a blessed change of pace for me. On several of those walks through town, my roommates and I talked about how we couldn't imagine going back to driving--by necessity--to accomplish even the simplest errand.

I have been eagerly awaiting Spring's arrival, just so we would have the opportunity to get out the stroller and enjoy some fresh air after a long, dreary winter. For one thing, I have a few Christmas pounds I still need to shed. For another, I get some satisfaction in knowing that at least I am doing a little-bitty something to help limit pollution. However, I've found that going on foot has a couple of other nice benefits that I'm beginning to appreciate...

For one thing, I get out into the communities where people live, not just where they drive. Jonesboro is not too pedestrian-friendly, so I try to take residential streets mostly, where there is usually a sidewalk, or at least the traffic is sparse enough to be aware of us. Yesterday we strolled over to visit a friend who lives nearby, and I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful tree that was just starting to bloom. Just as I snapped the picture, the owner of the tree (and house nearby) pulled up into her driveway and stopped to chat. She told me that the tree was a star magnolia and how much she looked forward to it blooming every spring. That 2-minute interaction was a bright spot in my day. We also got to see our neighbors working in their yards, walking their dogs and tackling some home-improvement projects.

The greatest benefit for me is that I find joy in the "doing" of the errand, not just the completing of it. For instance, we needed a couple of things from the store on Monday--things that I had forgotten to get on my big shopping trip but that I had to have for supper. Normally, I loathe that kind of trip because it involves putting my kid in the car and then getting him out of the car, which takes more time than the actual shopping. On Monday, however, we just strolled on over to the grocery and had a ball. We stopped to admire every dog or cat along the way, we watched the birds hopping and flapping, we saw the big guys at soccer practice doing their drills and called "hey, heeeeeeey!" to every passing car. It was plain ol' fun.

Now, I am going to need someone to remind me of all this joy and fun and profound meaning when it is about 104 degrees up in here. I think, at that point, we may do all our walking during the hours of 9pm and 4am.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What Going Green Gets Me

Why won't the recycling station give me any more blue bags? I have been reduced to storing all my milk jugs, dirty tin cans and empty soda cans on my kitchen counter. My efforts may be doing something to clean up the environment, but they're doing nothing for the cleanliness of my own home.

Note #1: Not pictured is last Tuesday's sprint to the curb with my blue bag. I heard the truck pull up at 7am and dashed out in my jammies--and still they will not give me any more bags.
Note #2: The coffee press has nothing to do with this. Do not think for one second that I will be sending the Bodum away.

Our family is not what you'd call crunchy, but one of our goals for this year was to be a smidge more environmentally conscious: recycling or donating things we would normally throw away, changing over almost all of our lightbulbs to compact CFLs, using cloth napkins and towels instead of so many paper products. I even wrote a letter to my beloved Chick-fil-A asking them to reconsider their use of styrofoam cups (which they insist are more easily recycled and/or biodegraded than coated paper cups).

Trying to reduce the amount of trash we generate has also forced me to think about the amount of "trash" (ie, stuff that we don't really need and is destined for the garbage pile) we bring into our house. It amazes me that most of the products on the market today are meant to break down, wear out or become obsolete within just a few months or years. Our society is so used to consumption that we don't even stop to ask if we could do things differently. To read about one family's experiment in stopping the clutter and consumption, check out this blog.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Oh, Yes I Did

I sure did go to the track this morning at 5:30. I really want to say "5:30 AM" just for emphasis here, because, kids, that is early.

My friend Danna inspired (suckered) me to revive my winter plans to take up jogging and join the Women Run Jonesboro training group. Essentially, they are doing the Couch-to-5K plan that I have attempted about 3 times before and quit. But, BUT--they do it as a group. I would like to say that the group concept attracted me because of the accountability factor, but truthfully, it's because there's always someone to chat with (or complain to, whatever) while you jog. Even better is that Danna was there to chat with. We don't get to do that enough these days.

I have to say that I did actually find some pleasure in getting up while the house was still dark and quiet, getting dressed and slipping out the door. It felt good to be outside, even if the fresh air we inhaled was a mere 30 degrees. The birds started singing as the sky grew lighter and it reminded me that spring is just around the corner.

I really needed a fresh start today. Yesterday was so hard, and I couldn't even tell you why. Okay, yes I could: Toddler who wouldn't sleep at all the night before, plus tired Mama, plus toddler who wouldn't nap, plus much whining. And, just for fun, plus a load of snot. The thing is, as tough parenting days go, this one wasn't so bad. No one puked or bled or ate anything that comes in a child-proofed bottle. I just could not get myself under control. I could feel myself getting more and more angry and impatient until I had turned into one of those fat, hollering, foul-mouthed mothers on Dr Phil. It was horrible, and I was so glad to go to bed last night and put an end to the day. I closed my eyes thinking, "Your mercies are new every morning!" So when that alarm went off at 5:10, I didn't let out my ususal moan of dread but a sigh of relief.

Today is going to be a good day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

You Poor, Neglected Little Blog

(...or, "Why Did I Get A Blog, Again?")

The great flurry of friends who've begun blogging (or revived long-forgotten blogs) reminded me about this little place on the web where I had imagined sharing some of my more random musings about my hometown, faith, marriage, motherhood, rude people at the fabric store, why I hate Wal-Mart, and life in the grown-up world.

See, when I attempt to share these astute observations with my husband, he usually gives me that look that says, "You think you are clever, but you are not." When I attempt to share them with my toddler, he says "Snack." When I attempt to share them with my other stay-at-home mom friends via the telephone, one of us invariably says, "Crap. My kid is screaming again." So, that leaves this space, where I cannot hear what any of you are saying. Unless you leave a comment, but hey--I know what you type in that little box is never the same thing you say to the screen when you read a blog. I know.

So, there you go. Blog, be neglected no more. Self, quit over-editing yourself and just write something, for crying out loud.

And now, to update you since my last blog post:
1. My 10-month-old is now 19 months old. He walks, he talks, he destroys entire rooms in minutes. He demands to watch Elmo, much to my chagrin. He loves him some Paul Simon.
2. I still write for some print publications, but I don't get paid. How'd that happen? How can I change it?
3. I actually finished a sewing project. Yahoo!
4. Bolstered by that one tiny success, I spent an obscene amount of money on more projects that promptly went to the bottom of the closet.
5. I started a quilt, which I have wanted to do since I was a teenager. Well, actually, I have wanted to finish a quilt, but you have to start somewhere, right? So, how long have I been carrying this dream? Oh, 13 years, give or take. Okay, then: I allow myself 13 years to finish this quilt. If anyone is reading this, you have to hold me accountable.
6. I have still managed to avoid Facebook.

There could be more updating, but I need to have something else to write about next time.