The Birthday Blog

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Ten Truths for My 43rd Birthday

1. Most of us are doing the best we can…Let’s face it–most of us aren’t playing with a full deck, anyway. Throw even a little bit of physical or emotional trauma into the mix of a life–especially the sort of trauma that manifests itself in shame and self-loathing and is stigmatized by polite society–and, well, it’s a tried and true recipe for disaster straight out of  that beloved old favorite cookbook, “Recipes for Disaster from the Junior League of Podunk, Mississippi. “  

It’s just a complete wonder to me that we’re not all stumbling around in shoes without laces, catotonically doing the Thorazine shuffle in true Girl, Interrupted or One-Flew-Over-the-Cuckoo’s-Nest-style. (And if we’re playing the Official Girl Interupted Board Game, then I call Angelina Jolie because everybody knows the bad guy–or gal–role is more interesting and just plain funner to play. Think  J.R. Ewing and Southfork if you’re vintage enough to remember when Larry Hagman was the man we loved to hate.) 

By the time an individual reaches the three-quarters mark–less commonly referred to as Mile Marker .75–she’s hopefully developed a little common sense, which is not common, despite the misleading nature of its name. I’ll be the first to admit that this sensibility has been slow coming to me, but I like to think that after being burned by the same hot stove too many times to recount, I’m finally sick of it. No, really–my hands and arms are literally covered with burn marks from the oven. I already was not blessed with lovely hands and now it looks as if I’ve spent my entire adult life up to my armpits in scorching health department-hot dishwater, scouring away all the baked-on, caked-on gunk from the neverending stack of dishes in the greasiest all-nite joint you’ve ever seen. It’s a running joke between me and my kids and also a literal, living example of how not to do it, if you will. I do not want to be a Darwin Award recipient, of that I’m sure.

2. The areas that were so black and white to me in my younger years grow ever more gray with each passing year. And you know, I’m really happy about it because it’s not easy living life as a rigid person. Everything is not an absolute. It’s a relief and the lifting of a heavy burden to be able finally to acknowledge all the gray areas. And it’s not the worst thing in the world, either. Life is messy and it doesn’t all fit into neat little black and white gift boxes from White House Black Market. I can testify to this because I’ve been dealt some very untidy, messy stuff in the past year–which leads to #3.

3. I do not have it figured out yet and if it ever sounds like I do, don’t believe it….Oh, I though I was so smart for so long until I saw how stupid I was. Thinking I had all the answers led me to have crazy high expectations from life in general. It’s so laughable now that I thought I was owed something. As if my conception–and later–as day follows night–my birth–were just a little less important than the big conception over in Bethlehem–you know–the immaculate one. As if my very existence guaranteed a smooth turbulence-free ride. Well, brothers and sisters, when the proverbial excrement hit that great ceiling fan that this menopausal woman always has running at warp speed over her life, well, let’s just say that I was ill-equipped to handle it. My world caved in because I thought I knew everything but didn’t know how to accept the unexpected or roll with any kind of punches. Life had shaken me up and gotten my attention and the only absolute left in my thinking was that I knew that I knew absolutely nothing at all. 

4. Suffering is no respecter of persons…I’ve seen some hurting people this year and I’ve walked through some stuff with others, just as others have walked with me through my own pain. And I can tell you that I now know that suffering, trouble and toil come to us all, rich and poor alike. I don’t think it’s a fatalistic view–but it is realistic. Now, by no means do I have one foot in the grave and I still buy green bananas, reasonably confident that, God-willing and the creek down the road don’t do no rising overnight, I’ll still be walking this earth come daybreak. Since I’ll probably have to show up for life tomorrow and make an attempt at being some kind of successful and content, I don’t have the luxury of living on a pink fluffy cloud. At this juncture in my life it’s important for me to just be real with myself and see things as they are–not how I wish they were. 

5. Pain is the greatest motivator for change. For me it is, anyway. Because I’m stubborn and strong-willed. I can take a whole lot of pain–too much–before I surrender.

6. People can change if t want to…it’s rare but it happens.

7. I am rich no matter what’s in my billfold…eternally wealthy.

8. My children are my best friends…Four exquisite gifts from the Giver of All Good Gifts. Every year a new layer of our relationship unfolds and they rise up and call me blessed.

9. My brain still works! Considering the abuse it’s suffered this is excellent news. Yes, I still have my mojo.

10. Don’t count anybody out because God specializes in the impossible and the world loves an underdog. Root for that underdog.

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Handling Snakes

 

 

It happened again. I was sipping on my morning coffee while leisurely perusing my newsfeed on Facebook. My newsfeed is good—I mean really good. I’ve spent years selecting all the eclectic morsels that magically appear every day for my scrolling enjoyment. I try to keep the content fresh and relevant with a good balance of legitimate news and fluff. You can understand why I’m so proud. But I digress.

I was just trucking right along, doing my thing, minding my own when I stumbled on a huge, black snake—yes! I know, I know–it’s outrageous, but the truth. Friends, Facebook posts featuring traumatizing photos of serpents are a very real and ever-growing problem for me and possibly trillions of extra-sensitive, special people. I’ve taken the liberty of putting a name to this scourge—I call it Facebook Snake Abuse. And, indeed, it is abuse and I’m just one victim of many. I will be referring to the issue as FSA in this article because I don’t even like to type the S-word.

If I were Miss America, FSA would be my platform. I just want to be a voice for change, really. Let’s take a closer look at the problem, shall we? Every single morning quadrillions of unsuspecting Facebook users wake up, stretch, and pour their Folgers. They think they’re about to experience the best part of waking up and the poor souls are full of hope for the new day. “It’s gonna be a fabulous day,” they think to themselves. Or perhaps they repeat the timeless mantra of so many who are trying to convince themselves that they aren’t total failures and that their best days aren’t behind them: “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.” Or maybe they just go full Tony the Tiger as they start the new day: “Today’s gonna be GRRRRRRREAT!!” Sadly, they couldn’t be more wrong. Their day—and their sense of social media newsfeed safety and security– is about to go the way of the one-piece bathing suit on the Miss America broadcast. Right down the toilet. Shudder.

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We stand against FSA!!

The inner well-being of many, many, many, many people are affected by this scourge. (Statistics are difficult to find. If the job didn’t involve talking about and writing about and looking at snakes then I would take on the job myself). It’s snakes, people! Big and little snakes, good ones (yeah, right) and bad ones are showing up where the good Lord never intended them to be! As if we didn’t have enough of a snake problem in this country, foreign snakes from other lands are finding their way over here. They sneak in and take over our waterways as well as our newsfeeds. Why, just the other day I read about the Burmese python appearing in ever-increasing numbers in south Florida. From Burma. As in the southeast Asian country of Myanmar. And earlier this year I was the unsuspecting victim of a freaking anaconda in the Everglades. No, I wasn’t in the Everglades—that monster was on MY newsfeed!!

What’s being done about FSA? Nothing!!! And that brings me to the recent fateful morning I began this story with. After my eyes were accosted in such a brutal manner I decided to do the right thing. For myself and for the good of all humanity. The offending post was made by a backyard poultry website I follow and really enjoy. Who can say what causes a normal person to post a photo of a huge black snake coiled up in a nesting box filled with eggs? The chicken lady who makes the posts seemed so friendly—a hippie who looked as if she loved all mankind and would do anything to make world peace a reality. “Me and this tree-hugging, granola-loving, incense-burning, braless holdover from the 60s are about to usher in a whole new, peaceful day,” I thought to myself. I could hear us making a speech together, possibly holding a rally or lobbying congress for change. “All we are saying is give peace a chance, people!”40be0dbcb592e436b5289de404166e00

Knowing full well that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, I prepared to contact Ms. Crimson Rainbow or Cosmic River or Dakota Rain. I knew she would want to take care of my—and the world’s—problem immediately. Of course she wouldn’t mind changing the content of her daily posts for me (remember that world peace begins with one individual and that individual is me!)
In fact, she’s waiting for my feedback so she can make her page—and more importantly, my newsfeed—soooo much better. Exciting!!

I attempted to post the offensive picture in my message to her but I had to throw the phone down, run away, and come back when all the willies and the heebeegeebees had subsided–that’s a true story. Here’s the conversation:

Very Important Person (me): I am really upset about scrolling down my newsfeed and having to see that snake. A lot of people are truly terrified of snakes. Maybe one day they’ll come up with snake-blocking technology on FB.

I pressed send and waited for the moment of justice, validation, and gratitude, I hoped. (Thank God that smart woman from Mississippi let us know what we were doing and gave us the chance to apologize for the trauma we’ve caused her.) Now, this is a big moment because I know she ought to be able to take a quick glance at my profile page and quickly see that I myself am kind of a big deal—like Ron Burgundy but minus the leather-bound books and rich mahogany scent. As we look at her response please take notice of the genuine shock and horror she exhibits…

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HUMBLE SERVANT (hippie chicken lady): Oh, no! Well sadly they’re a fact of life and he is a good guy.

Wait a minute…she just said he was a good guy?!? She’s a snake person!! Oh, no! And she didn’t even mention my brilliant invention idea. I had been sure she’d call up Mark Zuckerberg and straighten everything out. He can have that snake filter app thingy installed on my device by the end of the day. He can install the rest of the free world’s tomorrow, I reasoned.

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Well, snakes may be a fact of YOUR life, sister, but not mine! I know I’m different and unique because if I had gone to gather eggs and seen what I saw in that photo I would’ve RUN and when I say “run” I mean run like FloJo, Jackie Joyner Kersee, and Hussein Bolt inhabiting the same person—a person not unlike a person like me (don’t correct my spelling of his first name. I did the best I could and Hussein didn’t pop up in the autocorrect bar because it’s a middle Eastern name and also I just don’t care if it’s misspelled).

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Yes, indeed, I would fly on up out of there, I’d be totin’ the mail and cuttin’ a trail and probably not stop until I reached the continental divide or the equator. I can’t say for certain which way I’d run a blue streak; that’s just something you don’t know until you’re faced with choosing south for the equator and New Orleans or north to Meridian and then west to Jackson and then on to Vicksburg then whichever way the GPS tells me to run to reach wherever the continental divide is. I just know that I’ll be on the move and will just have to find another flock of chickens if I’m ever able to step into a coop again, that is, after I’m diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and get out of the mental ward and stop weaving baskets.

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I’ll tell what I would NOT hang around to do—take a picture to post on Facebook or anywhere.

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I’d like to say I got over myself then but it was a difficult day. Sometimes, and by “sometimes “ I mean basically all the time (if you happen to be me) you want everybody to just do right and by “do right” I mean that I just want every man, woman, child, animal, corporation, publication, and inanimate object to do what I want. Is that such a tall order? By he end of this day my ego and serenity lay in a sad, entitled pile on the floor. I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself then got up and restarted my day at 5:00 pm. Then I sat down in the kitchen and ate my fried crow and my nasty-tasting humble pie with a lattice crusted top. The pie crust was homemade, though, tender and flaky.

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My Nerves Had Got Bad

  Right now it’s 3:43 in the morning and I’m laying in bed thinking of my dear friend Jackie, of how I know exactly what she was talking about when she’d say her nerves had got bad. Because right now, Jackie, at this moment my nerves are bad, girl. There are coyotes in the back yard yipping and howling and that would work on anybody’s sanity. They have been a problem all fall but this week they’ve gotten very badass and now they boldly roam the YARD and harass the two “guard” dogs. 

     Also, they want my CHICKENS! That I’ve worked so hard to raise and give a good life. And they feed me! Also, when I get  down and wanna feel sorry for myself I can go out there and tend to them and get over myself. So hell, no, those coyotes are not getting any chicken dinner if I can help it.

     Abigail wanted to sleep on the sofa but we couldn’t rest becauseof the howling and yipping. That’s a spooky sound, too. And also Buster the rooster was crowing about every 25 seconds cause he ain’t giving up his hoes just like that to nobody–he was crowing, “I wish a coyote would–cock a doodle doo!!!! 

     I had no choice but to get the rifle out and at least just shoot in their direction to scare them away from my birds. Abigail was pumping me up and said, ” Mama, go grab that gun, get out there and shoot! But you should probably shoot straight up into the air.”  I just nod my head and say ok. It’s a testament to how fried I was that I didn’t even question how she might’ve acquired that knowledge about firearms and bullets and trajectories. 

     She made sure I was ready to shoot and went back inside.  She apparently had a good idea of how loud the shot was about to be–unlike her ignorant mother– and she doesn’t wanna go deaf at 13 so she took her leave. 

     “You should probably shoot straight up into the air.” Hmm…seems logical now. But who am I kidding here? I’ve never been one to go with a logical choice so why start now with something as  important as firearm safety?? Anyway, she had her head covered up with three pillows to muffle the noise and couldn’t see me and therefore couldn’t boss me around at that particular moment in space and time. 

     I did not shoot straight up into the air. I shot straight out into the night and in the direction of the unseen but not unheard coyotes. The loudness was piercing and it was the only thing I could feel for a few seconds. I could feel it in my teeth. I hate loud noises. 

     Then I felt the soreness in my shoulder and arm and you already know that thing kicked me good when both barrels went off. I had to come clean with Abigail but she didn’t fuss at me. 

     One of the two dogs is geriatric and has some dementia issues going on so she flipped out when the gun fired. And for the last two hours I’ve had to listen to the skin-crawling sound of her compulsive, sloppy, loud, licking of every reachable spot on her body. 

     So yeah. My nerves had got bad.They don’t have to stay bad, thank God. But the coyotes have got to leave or be extinguished. Maybe I should get a megaphone and make the classic announcement, “Hear ye, hear ye! You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay up in here!”

Things I (Re)Learned Today

img_14541. I don’t have to attend every argument (or political debate, whatever the case may be) I’m invited to even if it arrives in the form of an engraved invitation on a silver platter via a coach and horsemen- and horses, four of them. And if you weren’t invited then stay–wait! Why would you wanna go when you weren’t invited? Stay home.


2. It’s better to be happy than be right (this one still filed under “Fake til You Make -cause I still just like to be right)


3.More tolerance and love for my neighbor is called for. Note: Not all neighbors are neighborly including myself and your neighbor is anyone and everyone. Note: don’t be mean to yourself.


4.Give others the right to be wrong.


5.Ron White was right about stupid-it can’t be fixed because I tried


6.I need a Travis Tritt t-shirt with sleeves cut off. (Seems random but it isn’t. I’m just not at liberty to discuss its relevance to this writing.)

7.What I call irony is usually just plain sarcasm which I call irony because it sounds literary and just more better.


8.Not every neighbor appreciates your particular brand of sarcasm and your total dedication to it.


9.What I call sarcasm is sometimes (or often or always) just plain mockery.


10.Sometimes it seems like some neighbors are asking (begging and screaming) for irony, sarcasm, and/or mockery and pepper spray.

11.Don’t waste your precious time or your razor-sharp wit and good jokes trying to help a neighbor see the error of his ways because of #5.


12.Instead of trying to do #11 go write your good stuff down and start in earnest on a razor-sharp, witty, ironic, sarcastic mockery of politics and the people Ron warned you about and stuff on this list.


13.If you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen or if you dish it out you better be ready to take it or don’t be a bully, Scut Farkus


14.I cannot take the heat so I probably(definitely without a shadow of a doubt) need to refrain from dishing out anything but love, good music playlists, and delicious food. Also, it’s not fun to be bullied with words(shocking, I know).


15.Do not discuss politics unless you are 100% positive that you and the other party(s) are in agreement This is because you are a hot mess with a smart mouth who has too much to work on in herself to be studying political debate. Go back to being apathetic or learn to play right. Note: Remember that scientists found a cure for apathy but no one seemed to care. This one needs to be resolved without excuses because it’s gotten old. You have four years and two days to do it, starting right now. Jesus could tarry until the next presidential election, dreadful though it may be.


16.The taste of crow apparently cannot be aquired even after many years of consumption. Crow tastes like crap no matter how it’s prepared. I’m finishing up a breast and a wing right now with a side of humble pie that I am not in the mood for. I’m tired of eating the nasty stuff. The pie tastes bad, too…here, have a bite….


17.Last (and only because I’ve worn myself out screwing up all day) but definitely not least….If you decide to ignore all of the above and enter a bitter battle of words with someone do not announce to the free world on social media that you have “dropped the mic” or “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.” Because, let’s be honest. You might’ve held an actual microphone in your hand and even projected your voice through it, you have never dropped one intentionally to make the point that you’ve made your point and “peace out, suckahs” and all that.  And while you may love Elvis dearly and laud him as the rightful ruler of rock and roll you know you have no business comparing your exit from the debate to the King leaving a concert venue.

(This list is a work in progress and subject (oh, there’s more, much more) to more entries)

(I’ve never used so many sets of parentheses in my whole crazy life)

Goodnight from the corner of Exhausted and Embarassed!!