Teen Gooberville. Population Me.

In sixth grade, my mom decided it would be a good time for a family photo at Olan Mills.  She dressed us all in our Sunday best and attempted a new hair do on me.  Let me say this: my mom has short, naturally curly hair that she never uses anything more than a hair pick on it.  She never uses a curling iron, flat-iron or hot rollers.  But on this fateful day, she decided that my hair needed some “body” and “lift” and plugged in her 1965 set of hot rollers.  One of them was very stubborn.  It happened to be in the center of my head by the crown if you will.  She could not get it out.  She tried everything.  Even peanut butter because she read somewhere that could get gum out of dog hair.  Hmmm.  Gum and hot rollers.  I never knew they were in the same category.  I went to Olan Mills with a hot roller stuck smack on the top of my head.  They positioned my brother just so it would not show in the pictures.  The show must go on, my mother said.  Nice.

In seventh grade, my mom bought me a faux fur coat.  It was my new school coat and she really thought it was very stylish for a new, gawky thirteen-year-old.  It was hot pink.  It was hideous. I wore it with my head hanging down.  I tried to wear sunglasses with it.  Did I mention that I rode my bike to school so I got the thrill of being honked at on my ride home?  Nah.  I probably didn’t mention that.  Unfortunately, no one threw any red paint on my coat thus making it unwearable.  I have never forgiven her for this.  Ever.

Yes. This is it. Someone is selling it on Etsy. Good luck with that.

In eighth grade, my mom took me to the orthodontist.  To add insult to my already brace-faced injury, he put me in this fun gadget called a bionator. “This will make more room in your mouth, and it really isn’t that bad,” he said to me.  It is reminiscent of a torture device circa WWII.  A bionator was hastily cemented (yes, really) to the teeth in the top of the mouth and has a special, little key for turning and opening it.  My mom was to insert the key and turn it each week.  On the first “turn of the screw” she accidentally released the key and it went down my throat.  It was never found.  Maybe it was taken out with my gall bladder last year.  Who knows.  This torture gadget caused my speech to sound a little garbled and caused me to spit on people as I spoke to them.  I am sure this is why I had a massive bankroll of friends in eighth grade and why only two of them showed up at my slumber party.  Rock on.

In ninth grade, my mom and the very wise and evil orthodontist decided that the bionator was not working. His suggestion?  Pulling two teeth on the top and two on the bottom and pulling them all together with the already in place braces.  I was the only 14-year-old that could use not one, but two straws without opening my mouth. The orthodontist tried to make me feel better by saying he would wait until next month to put the rubber bands in.  Thanks, dude.  Dating score for me as a freshman?  Zero (unless you could the rubber bands – I mean, they were truly sexy.)

In tenth grade, my mom took me to this amazing, huge and completely confusing outlet mall.  We shopped all day.  At one point, she called me over to look at a dress.  She was holding onto the clothing rack and it turned, hitting me directly in the eye.  I sported a black eye at school for the next few days.  No one would believe me when I said that shopping with my mother is really quite dangerous. They must have forgotten about the obnoxiously bright pink fake fur coat.

Hey kids. Mommy wants a sports car.

I think I may be headed into a mid-life crisis.  I seem to be drooling over any car that doesn’t scream “Mommy Mobile!”

I didn’t realize I was in this tragic time period until I got into a fender bender and my rocking Honda Odyssey mini-van was in the shop for over a week.  I skeptically went into the rental car agency knowing that somehow I would end up in a Ford Focus or Taurus to drive as my van underwent surgery.  The guy looked at me, smiled, and handed me keys.  I followed him outside and he said, “Ya know, I was going to put you in this new Buick.  But then I saw you and thought that you don’t look like the Buick type.  So, here ya go.”

I stepped beside him next to the gold Chevy Malibu and was ready to say something sarcastic (but true) to the guy like, “Thanks. My mom drives one of these.” When he said, “Hey, it is over here.”

I turned and there was this sweet black car. I thought, “Hot diggigity, it’s a Lexus.  I am gonna rock out to school in this!”  I asked the dude what kind of car it was and he said a Mazda 6.  Hmm.  It was promising.

Jumping in and finding a good spot for my purse (you know it has to be close enough to get into, but it can’t really ride on my lap because that is just odd), I put the key into the ignition.  It purred.  Mmmm.  It is promising indeed.

I turned out of the parking lot and felt five years younger.  I shot down the Boulevard (it is really called that) and felt another five years younger.  By the time I pulled into my driveway, I was 21 again and ready to scrap my van forever, grab a wine cooler and embrace the life of a non-mommy mobile.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this car.  It handled like a dream, it was fun to drive and it got great gas mileage.  I started telling everyone about my “borrowed” car.  I told my husband that I had to keep it.  I stomped my foot for emphasis.  After a few of these discussions, he actually noticed my ongoing ramblings about the car and began to talk to me about maybe trading the van in soon and getting something else.  Once that door was opened, I was on it like fleas on a dog.  Every moment we were hanging out, I would suggest different non-mommy type wheels.  He kept steering back to an SUV or a smaller SUV.  He wasn’t getting it.  I loved this sweet car.  It even had a perfect place for my purse. Sigh.

Today I had to give it back.  It was gut-wrenching.  I took my oldest, String Bean, with me.  With his DS in hand, he was eerily quiet the entire drive there.  I put on somber music – The Cure – and drove slowly.  I gently rubbed the steering wheel, sweetly accelerated when the light turned green and completely drove straight past the rental place.  I managed a slick u-turn in a non u-turn area, but it didn’t matter (and, damn, that car can turn on a dime!)  I was the King of the World and had only a mere three minutes left.  Soon, I would go back to the mommy car with ground french fries in the door jams.  Soon I would be driving a small barge through town.  Soon I would be using my key fob alarm to find my van out of the million silver mini-vans at the mall.  *sniff sniff.

Luckily, the rental car guy was really busy and he gave me the option (hooray) of driving the rental over to the body shop.  I grabbed String Bean and we jumped back into the ride and took our time making our way there.  As we waited inside, I looked out the small window at the sweet car sitting right smack next to the van.  It was almost like a movie trailer.  Narrator with amazing low voice, “She struggles with her identity.  Not that she wants to lose her precious life she has now, but she somehow wants to combine it with the one of yesteryear.  Tune in for the finale entitled – The Car That Got Away, and the sequel, Don’t Cry, It’s Only a Petrified French Fry.”

Yeah.  It’s like that sometimes.  The mom thing is cool and all, but there are days when maybe it would be nice to have a sweet, sporty car and feel 21 again – even just for a little while.  🙂

And I need a little…

Festivus.  Right this very minute.

My mom starred as “Mame” in a local theater production.  They put the show on in the summer, and she was perfect.  With her red hair gleaming,  she engaged the audience by singing “I Need a Little Christmas” while her family was crammed up in the hot balcony praying that the show would not be longer that an hour and a half. We were wrong.  But, she was amazing.  She is the epitome of Mame.

We were doing a mother/daughter little holiday shopping adventure last week, and she kept singing holiday songs all throughout the stores.  When I was a young pup and she did this, I would get very embarrassed.  She would shush me (irony goes here) and say, “No one knows us! Sing with me – you have such a pretty voice!”  I would shrink behind her and try to act interested in whatever was around – aftershave, toilet paper, men’s briefs, diapers – anything.  The latest adventure was a repertoire in Christmas, starting with Mame’s famous song, and then moving to such hits as Dolly Parton’s “Hard-Candy Christmas” which is actually from another musical entitled “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” (No, I am not making this up.  This song is from that musical.  Why do I know this? Because everyone in my family is obsessed with musicals and “…Whorehouse” is a fan fav.)  I ducked into the baby bottle aisle and pretended to look interested.  I haven’t had an infant since 2004.  Ha.

Unfortunately, even my singing mother can’t pull me from the Bah Humbugs this year.  I am in need of the Seinfeld tradition of Festivus to get me in the spirit.  I need the airing of grievances, the Feats of Strength and the Festivus pole.  I need a little holiday “for the rest of us.”

Sometimes it feels like Christmas has gone overboard with commercialism.  I can’t say the last time since Halloween I have watched TV and there hasn’t been a “Shop for the Holidays” advertisement.  My master decorator husband has a different perspective of Christmas.  He loves it.  He loves decorating the house for Christmas.  He loves strategically arranging the different sized nutcrackers, red-cheeked Santas and oddly shaped holiday lights.  He loves holiday serving dishware like Christmas tree Spode wine glasses and goblets or any platter donning a poinsettia or Frosty.  He loves having pre-lit trees – three to be exact.  One with glass ornaments, one with homemade ornaments and one with the rest – from Star Wars to Buzz Lightyear.  He loves creating an outdoor light extravaganza just one step below Christmas Vacation.  He even loves dragging me to big box stores and hunting for more Christmas decor.  To put it mildly, he loves the holiday season.

But not me.  I get stressed out with feeling inadequate.  I don’t think I am a good gift buyer, and it really becomes an effort in futility as I scan through my beloved Amazon.com for something to pop out at me that may strike the fancy of someone in my family.  I scour the emails from stores and loot the catalogs for the perfect gifts.  You know what I end up finding?  Stuff I want/need/have to have.  That is not productive holiday shopping, my friend.  No, not one bit.

So, I need a little Festivus. Actually, I would like to see a Festivus ad on TV right this very minute.  Maybe one with a stressed out Mom on the screen and a deep- voiced narrator that states:  “This year, you have cursed twelve times in front of your children, cut off two drivers getting into the drive-thru fast food line, butted in line in front of eight people at the post office, and returned six different items because you found them cheaper weeks later somewhere else.  You need Festivus.  Festivus. Making your holiday a reality check.”

So, if you want to share the humbugs, come and join me around my pole and get ready to take me on.  I have been doing push-ups with my Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred so I am ready.  Jingle all the way.

One of our strategically placed Santas. Ho ho ho.

Back to the…theater

Thought I was going to say future? Yeah, no.  I am back to the theater again. Earlier this year, I posted about my entire family being involved in the musical The Wizard of Oz. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the lobby, waiting to pick up my little guys while a hot, yet not so healthy, dinner of Wendy’s was waiting for them in the car – along with spelling words to review on flash cards and sometimes even the dog because I just wanted somebody to love that wasn’t singing show tunes. Ha.

Back to the point of this post. I am sitting at a read through of a show that I am not in.  Again. Both of my dudes are in it and, I know this is shocking, so is my husband. They are all three in another show less than a year since the last one. This time instead of Dorothy, the Lollipop Guild, the Tin Man, et all, we have Horton, the Grinch, and the entire Dr. Seuss coalition. It is Seussical the Musical and it will consume my life until the end of February. Super dee duper and bah humbug.

Do I seem a little cranky about the prospect of dedicating my life to the theater? Well, maybe a little. I just don’t get into it like the rest of my family. My mom is the fabulous “lady of the theater” (which must be said with a flip of a scarf, a dramatic accent and false eyelashes), my husband loves it and even is the theater director for his high school, and my peanuts both enjoy the bright lights and the post-show carnations and lollipop bouquets.

Speaking of bouquets, in my marriage vows, although I can’t seem to locate this on the wedding video, it states that I will choreograph all of my husband’s productions. Instead of saying “I do” to that one, I think I might have said, “I might?!”  Geez. This past year, besides carting campy Munchkins to and fro, I choreographed Thoroughly Modern Millie AND High School Musical. I am theatered out. And a  5, 6, 7, 8.

Guess what?  I also get to begin choreographing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  In February.  Right smack in the middle of Seussical.  I am not thrilled.

So, anyone want to meet me on weeknights while my family is singing about an elephant who hears a whole new world on a flower?  If so, name the time and the place and I will be there.  With my dream coat on.

Regret and a letter to an old friend

I write letters to people and never send them.  It stems from a long time ago in a land far away when I was just finishing my undergraduate work at Auburn.  I was really depressed, I mean in the toilet, swirling around in need of a plunger, depressed.  My parents recently were divorced after 25 years and I just couldn’t think of a future without the stability of my family (although dysfunctional) unit.

My dad, who is none too empathetic with tears of sadness, actually suggested I go and talk to someone.  I did.  It was good advice.  The sage I went to said to write letters to people and get things off of my chest.  I began writing letters and never sending them.  I didn’t write angry letters.  I just wrote to the person of the day with more reflection.

I still write letters to people and below is a note I wrote to one of my favorite people.  We were always at a miss – missed chances, bad timing, crappy excuses, but of all the people in my life at the end of my college career, this was the one person who brought me home to Ohio.  Two children and two careers later, I re-visited the place of our missed connections.  Ohio University.  The question that hangs in the balance is if I should finally send this letter.  For real.

Here is the never-sent letter:

Ty,

I went back to OU…

I don’t know why but the colors were different. Not green, like I remembered them, but more hazy and old-looking like my grandmothers house the last time I was there. I just don’t know what to think of that place anymore. I think I put so much emphasis on how it was not a good place for me but maybe I was not a good thing for it…

One of my favorite students is there now. He reminds me so much of you – the dark hair, the confidence, it is almost startling for me to think how he is seeing the colors of that place. Probably close to how you did or do in your reminiscence.

Oh what I did. Because of naivety, maybe, because of stupidity, sure, because of being overly self aware, definitely. Sorry for that.

I think about you sometimes. In the dim of night when the lights have faded and winter moves in close, too close. I think of the times we talked and you were so full of your goals and I of what I thought was important but really was not at all…

I think of your loss. Your father. I can’t believe I could not share some events with you like when my uncle did the same thing and how I went off a deep end afterwards and have never quite recovered. Or when my other uncle was killed and I just didn’t know how to deal with the reality of the entire situation. I am sure that you would have had some words, something that you could have given to me but you were no longer there.

My overall mission of this note, this freedom, is to tell you that I took your friendship for granted. It proves the old saying “you don’t know what you’ve got…” And it also makes for interesting thoughts and memories, doesn’t it?

I have to go back to Ohio U in April. I am sure it will be like the last time, when I expected to see you every time I turned the corner yet you weren’t there. I will go there again as a (gulp) teacher to learn and be scrutinized by my older peers. But that is OK, I guess. I will probably see a glimpse of us as we were proud and young and free and waiting for what we expected the world to give us.

I miss you, friend.

A

Ring my bell

Made you look!  Nothing too crazy in this post, I can guarantee.  I just can’t get the 1979 disco song out of my head.  It makes me want to sing it REALLY loudly and annoy all of those around me.  So, just three short hours ago, I busted into this song as we all were working Squishy’s homework.  Ring my bell, my bell, ring my bell.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that bells rule my life.  As a student, it was the bell that beckons one from class to class.  As a teacher, it begins again, although chatting with friends in between bells (or classes) is rarer and more precious.

I feel ruled by the bell, not saved by the bell.  A bell/alarm wakes me up, a bell signals me that I should be at school – which is ironic because students are not even in the building at that shiny morning time of 7 a.m.  A bell lets me know that is is OK to make copies, try to go potty and even just sit down at my desk.  The bell rules my life.  This year, there is not a bell after lunch.  In fact, there is only a late bell.  It kills me.  Why?  Because I am so conditioned by the bell to be in my classroom on time.  Ring me Pavlov, please.

This afternoon, before breaking into song and really making my husband crazy, I figured out that my iPhone has a bell-like signal when I receive a text (duh) AND, here is the important thing, when I SEND one.  The receiving texts signal is a no brainer, but the sending one, now that is new.  Sad thing is that I have had this phone for over six weeks and just now heard it.  Maybe the bell is not loud enough. Who knows.  Maybe I just need a mind-piercing school bell.  Ha.

When I was in the corporate world, many moons ago, I remember reading an article in the paper (the real one, not the online one – lol!) that business people were so distracted by bells and whistles such as alerts, email notifications, and the like that they were off task after they heard the sounds.  The article stated to try and NOT be ruled by the sounds of modern technology. This was 1996.  I wonder what the article would have said if it knew of the future that held thousands of bell tones, text notifications alerts and email zip sounds and the fact that I just noticed I had a sending text sound on my super dee duper iPhone.

Maybe I need a bell at night to signal me that it is time to go to bed or stop writing this silly post.  Ring my bell.