Thursday, March 8, 2012

Emily Post Would Weep

The crassness level of the general population is simply, ridiculously high. Trying to enjoy a cup of joe w/my daughter at Starbucks and the dinkus sitting next to us was talking on his phone...using push to talk. Not only were we blessed to hear him & the man at the other end - we got to hear some woman obviously on the extension. My word, don't get me all up in your 3-way! Gave him my "be quiet in church" look; too tired to ask him to politely stifle himself so we left (my kid was soooo relieved!) Today the guy in front of me in the check out line at Walmart relieved his gas pressure in a manner that was both audible and quite offensive to my olfactory system! Maybe he should buy some gas drops to go along with the 6 huge bunches of broccoli?!

And since when is being rude acceptable as long as we disguise it as being honest and forthright? Please, it's an excuse to demean, humiliate, make oneself feel superior. Take your pick; of the many combinations that go into making a person believe it's okay to act like a jackass if his remarks are honest or feels the object of his remarks "needs" to hear it, passive-aggressiveness is my favorite dysfunctional behavior. If you are around a person like this long enough it becomes easy to spot and you can prepare. The worst of these offenders is the "stealth attacker." This one seems perfectly sociable but if he even senses some offense by, or short-coming of, another that he deems necessary to point out - watch out! Not only will he call you out, he will do it in front of at least one other person (sneaky yes but not without an audience) and he's not happy with one strike. After his barb hits the sweet spot like a snake strike, he will knock you into the dirt, stuff sand in your mouth and make sure you can't get up - at least for the foreseeable future. Just as quickly as he struck he puts his fangs away until next time. And it's the next time part that's tricky. You can rock along for a while and become lulled into this place where you think you're safe. You're under the radar. And, BAM! You're panting from the blow. The Bible describes it best in 1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." Jesus gave His children advice about it: "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16

My parents were sticklers regarding good manners. Etiquette was, and remains, important. It also was not seen as a 10-foot pole with which you whacked others over the head. It is as much about the respecting the feelings of others as it is about what is and isn't proper. Daddy was particularly vigilant about our education in this area. His pet peeves gave birth to his most reiterated instructions - don't comment on other people's plates, don't embarrass someone if you can avoid it, talk privately about personal matters. My sisters and I knew we better not say "Eww!" or "Why are you eating THAT?!" or we'd get a lecture titled "Don't comment on other people's plates." We knew if we said something to embarrass someone else - even if we meant it as a joke - we knew the lecture that followed would be entitled,"Don't embarrass someone if you can help it - and you could help it!" I think you get the idea. Mama and Daddy believed it made you a small, petty person if you set out to demean someone else or tried to appear superior to them. They believed class was not tied to position or money but to the way you carried yourself and treated those around you. I agree. Some of what they taught me really did sink in!

Manners are supposed to smooth the wheels of everyday interactions. So, hang up your phone and excuse yourself to the restroom - or say excuse me when you can't. Oh and one more thing...make that two: Fellas - pull up your pants. Ladies - vagina is a body part not a hem length! (Sermon over, go eat some chicken!) 'Night and love to all y'all!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pearls of Wisdom From Daddy (Help - I Sound Just Like My Daddy!)

The blog was a bit overdue but as the subject is my daddy I wanted to give it my due diligence.

For those who didn't know my daddy, one of the defining characteristics of Daddy's professional and personal lives was his expertise in the use of the written and spoken word. Daddy was a graduate of the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). He was in Naval Intelligence, wrote for newspapers and built a career in public relations. He was very active in local and state politics, once held a seat on our local county commission and wrote many speeches for fellow politicians. As a man of deep faith, he was a deacon in our church. His talent with words, God-given and honed by practice, was also useful in his role as a Sunday School teacher. I believe Daddy would appreciate and laugh at this blog entry because while I am poking fun, I am maintaining my respect for him. Daddy loathed cruelty and despised for anyone to be intentionally embarrassed. He passed those ideals on to "his girls" as well. Anything humorous I attempt is always done with those boundaries in mind.

Traditionally women, especially down South, fear sounding like Mama. I do experience that emotion but, more often than not, it is Daddy who speaks through me. Lord have mercy, kid you not, some days I cannot fathom that somehow these words and phrases - even whole lectures - have not only survived in the deep, dark scariness that is my brain, I can actually recall them with absolute clarity. Daddy, how could you?! You know of all of your punishments, I most feared and loathed "the lecture!" Daddy didn't spare the rod but he LOVED the lecture. The lecture actually punished me by completely numbing my brain until I considered asking, make that begging, for the corporal punishment option. I will always believe that was the hidden agenda; keep talking until she begs for a whack or two. Think maybe he learned that courtesy of the Navy. The lectures did serve another purpose - they taught me great vocabulary. Daddy sure didn't believe in dumbing-down lectures for his children. In first grade I was hearing words like "discern," "accountability," "ludicrous," and "preposterous" during lecture time. He always seemed to know when I was drifting away because that's when he'd throw out the twenty-five dollar word to reel me back in.

Words were Daddy's currency, his talent. Truly a wordsmith, he made it his mission to instill in his girls a love for words. But we weren't exactly jumping with joy at having our own English teacher living with us. Having a vocabulary test on a 5-hour trip to the beach is not a thrill for a carful of kids, trust me on this! History was his other passion (another blog subject - later) and sometimes we got a two-fer; spell this and what date was that? It was frustrating and boring but became interesting and endearing, I grew to appreciate it...very, very slowly!

The first time I heard the word "demented" was in a lecture Daddy was giving to my baby sister. Beth was about six and had left her bicycle beside the porch instead of actually on the porch and it got wet in the rain. During his lecture regarding responsibility, pride of ownership and obeying your parents, Daddy asked Beth, " Are you demented?" Knowing how much our parents despised hearing the answer "I don't know" but not knowing this strange word placed Beth between a rock and a hard place. She finally blurted out "I'm not sure if I'm demented or not!" So it's march to the dictionary time. Beth is six, I'm nine and we're looking up "demented" in the dictionary; refusing to spell for us and pointing towards the dictionary was another of his favorite practices. It was annoying to the nth degree but made me an excellent speller! So we check to see whether or not this word appropriately describes behavior that would lead her to leaving her bike out. We were not happy to learn what it meant. And we're still not sure if we're demented. Personally, I think she is. (Love you baby sistah!) I actually like the word. "Demented" is a word that feels good rolling off of my tongue; "bliss" is the same way for me. Hmmm, the mention of my affection for those two words probably reveals a lot more about me than I ever realized. My poor child has herself been sent to the dictionary - not but an actual 2-volume set - more times than I can remember. She has also been the subject of countless lectures. And I, too, have said," What do you mean, you don't know? That's absolutely ludicrous! Was your head actually with you at the time?" I have asked her if she was demented. I try to rationalize it by not referring to it as sounding just like Daddy but by characterizing it as spreading the pain to the next generation. It works for me and I sleep well.

Another of Daddy's jewels was "That is the most asinine thing I've ever seen/heard!" I must confess I loved the word "asinine" from the first time I heard Daddy use it. I wish I could say it was because I was young and hungry to improve my emerging vocabulary. The truth is I thought it sounded like a curse word. My daddy did not curse so it seemed especially jolting to hear him use a word that even sounded like it could be a curse word. Then I thought it was cool. I found reasons to use it. It must have been very annoying to everyone around me. I'm sure I didn't care. It remains one of my favorite words; a go-to for very specific situations. And it still makes me feel a little naughty to use it. My daughter thought I was cursing the first time she heard me describe something as asinine; after accusing her of acting asinine, I then went into shock so quickly I missed her response. Asinine? When had I become my daddy?!

There are countless other examples that would make this blog interminably long but to throw out a few more of John's gems, here goes: "You're not helping if someone doesn't know what you're doing. Better to be 30-minutes early than 1-minute late. Don't sass your mother; sass me if you sass anyone." (Yeah, right! And my Uncle Ed, the periodontist, would still be replanting my teeth!) "Family is who you have when everyone else goes away. Don't fight with your sisters; I got along with my brothers and you girls need to do better." Oh right Daddy, you got along just peachy with my uncles. You threw a fork at Uncle Richard and it stuck into his calf; tricked Uncle Bill repeatedly into doing your dish duty; you and Uncle Roy tried to electrocute Uncle Richard because you wanted to practice what Uncle Roy had learned about conductivity! Y'all were just shining examples of sibling love and understanding. Family values - ha - Addams Family values maybe!

The one thing he said that cuts through them all and that I truly hold dear to my heart is what he told us after we grew up. He said, "Girls, I want you to always love the Lord, stick together - and take care of your mama. We're trying, Daddy, we're trying. Guess it's not so bad to be just like my daddy. I sure do love him and I miss him every day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Joy of Being a Moving Target; (1-800-your-driving-stinks!)

The joy and privilege of driving a vehicle is something we all sometimes, perhaps often, take for granted. We enter our buggy, turn the key and expect to be on our way in moments. As I am not a "car person" all I care about is that it gets me where I need to go. The inner workings of the combustible engine holds no fascination for me nor does the opinion of the editors at Car and Driver . I don't care what the neighbors drive. Please car, just get me on my way.

What does interest me concerning vehicles? Safety. With regards to vehicles, safety is the issue I am most often left praying about - right up there with how did so many idgits pass the motor vehicle licensing exam?! And how do they always know I'm trying to get somewhere? And how do they decide which one of them is going to follow me and try to bash into me? I am nearly convinced there is an "Mobile Idgits Anonymous" meeting at which they all decide whose day it is to vex me with feats of tremendous stupidity.

I'm beginning to treat safe arrivals at my various destinations as miracles. Now, I do thank God daily for my dear daughter, my family, job, hair (well, I do!) and yes, safety - just a few of the things for which my mama and daddy taught a good girl to be thankful. I've also begun to pray that God removes some of these folks from the road in whatever manner He deems fit. Don't misunderstand, I'm not praying for some en masse home going deal - let's get real, some of them aren't going to the same home I'll be settling into one day 'cause they're lost as a ball in high cotton and need a chance to know Jesus before they meet Him. I'll leave the "how" up to Him and just keep praying to feel less like I'm in a video game called "Try to Hit Hope (or @ least aggravate her)," A few of the things you do to earn points include : not using your signals- EVER; pulling out in front of me then driving 10 miles below the speed limit (extra points if you pull out AND are hauling a trailer); take my turn at the 4-way stop because you think stopping behind the car stopped at the sign counts for you, too. My favorite point-earner is riding so far up my tailpipe that you're not visible in my rear view mirror and on Google Earth it looks like I'm towing your vehicle. Y'all are shaking your heads in agreement because you've been trapped in your own version of this game. If not, then it's you I'm talking about here...oops!

Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me to drive defensively. Cleanliness may be next to Godliness but defensive driving will keep you from meeting Him during your daily commute!

Surrounded by idgits, I drove on...safely!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How My Parents Ruined My Life; or how it was before parents started reading parenting books

Maybe this long post is the first chapter of my first book.

Thank you Mama and Daddy for ruining my life before I even had a chance to start doing it myself!! I mean you cannot imagine the horrendous things my sisters and I had to endure. My parents actually repeated these questionable behaviors with 4 daughters. Lawdy, I'm getting a case of the vapors just remembering the experiences. If only Mama and Daddy had had access to all of the experts on child development but the poor, backward things had to make do on the Word of God, generations of common sense and prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

Before I continue this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, a few serious notes must be hit. I miss my Daddy every day, sometimes so much it actually makes me ache. When he left for home, I was left with the comfort that there were no words unsaid between us; love was expressed openly and often; all fences were mended; that he was going to live with THE Daddy in a place of such bliss that even a description escapes the human vocabulary. I love my mama dearly. She never gave up on me because she knew her child - HIS lost sheep - would return. Now my mama may be 83 but it sure hasn't slowed her down much. In fact I have to high-step it to keep up with her on Fridays when I "drive Miss Daisy" over Hades-and-half-of Georgia. She's a handful, honey! Good for her that dinner (that's the noon meal) is included in this deal or she might just have to call a Radio Cab to tote her around! I know, big talk around company - please don't tell her I said all that. She has a cane and she ain't afraid to use it.

Now to reveal how the diabolical plan evolved, in no particular order:
If you can you believe it, they dragged me to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening AND THEN for everything from revival to youth fellowship?! Now with a hot mess like me I guess it was either go to church or to jail for throttling me but still. Oh and they actually stayed and participated in the adult activities; no dropping my sisters and me off. How embarrassing - parents who didn't ditch church! It was mortifying to explain to my friends.

Grasp this if you will - I had to look up the word "babysitter" when someone asked me if I wanted to do that when I was about 12. My parents let my older sisters tend to me on the rare occasions when Dot and John went out without us. Then when I was old enough I had to tend to my baby sister - unbelievable! No paid attendants, sheesh. We were expected to "contribute to the household." Gross! And family vacations meant just that, family. My parents were blind to the need for us to bring at least one friend. Every summer I was expected to actually have fun with my parents and sisters. Being seen in public places with MY PARENTS and sisters simply had to be against the Geneva Convention rules regarding cruel and unusual punishment; places like the beach and Stone Mountain - even the "happiest place on earth"- were not immune from my parents' schemes regarding happy family fellowship. Yack!

Speaking of family, it was like "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding" only it was "My Big, Loud, Christian, Southern Wingding." It was just like the movie; except for instead of Greek's there were Anderson's - and everyone else who wished they were. Mama and Daddy actually hauled us around to hang out with all those people. The relatives I already saw twice on Sunday and at Wednesday night prayer meeting. We are family, I got all my sisters with me...and my aunts, uncles, great aunts, 3rd cousins twice removed. At least the snacks were good! And really I do love them all - they're the best EVAH!

Food was another part of their plan to ruin my self-esteem. Wait for it...we ate together as a family every night. Around a table. We prayed before we ate. Then we were expected to use appropriate table manners and make dinner conversation. And woe unto anyone who commented on the food choices of anyone at the table. My daddy's pet peeve was "tending other folks plates" and it just wasn't done. Not in my home, not around my daddy until the day he died. It didn't matter if my sister drowned her dinner in ketchup and jelly it was her plate and I better shut my pie hole. Better yet fill the hole with pie to keep it from getting me in trouble! Didn't these folks understand the pressure to perform? Where was the empathy for my emerging ego? And my mother didn't just cook good old-fashioned Southern vittles; cooking things nobody else's mother in our neighborhood cooked meant I was forced to taste new things. The angst! The torture! I mean who makes a six-year old Georgia peach like me eat Belgian waffles, Chinese pepper steak, Italian manicotti ?! Mama didn't play either - eat what was on your plate or go hungry. No subbing PB& J or cereal . Eat or die! (Okay so it was really eat or go to bed hungry. Poetic license. Bless your heart - get over it.)

Manners were a HUGE part of my torturous upbringing, starting at home. Elbows off the table; one hand and your napkin in your lap; don't reach across but ask to pass; begin eating when everyone is served; take what you'll eat, eat what you take. Do NOT talk with your mouth full because see-food isn't attractive. Don't interrupt, especially when adults are talking; you wait your turn to be recognized. Yep, ruined my self-worth, my sense of belonging in the world, my right to act asinine in public. Pitching a fit in a public place? I would have been better off staying alone, in the dark, in the J. B White stockroom all night than to face my daddy if I had shown my bee-hind in public. Imagine - my parents backed each other up; a united, impenetrable front. I did not learn how to play both ends against the middle but then again, neither did my daughter!

Thank you, Mama and Daddy, for loving me so much that you ruined my life. You ruined it so I would be fit to live among civilized people (some allegedly so, trust me on this!). I love you!

Oops, I'm supposed to name these popped thought bubbles! and other stuff about me!

Such a professional blogger I am that I absotively forgot I'm supposed to title these suckers...these thought bubbles of mine that burst into posts and have now morphed into blogs. For those of you who harassed ...I mean, encouraged me about blogging, read on. If you don't like it you are certainly free to post a comment but I only like to read positive reviews so don't take it personally if I don't care if your Great Aunt Edna was offended because of whatever offends Ednas. And you frustrated English majors and maybe a teacher or two - I like run-on sentences and dangling things like participles; they're like shiny stuff. I like shiny stuff. I will be using run-ons and dangling participles and persimmons and maybe a parsnip or two (make that carrots; don't like parsnips). Bite a #2 pencil in half while you read all of my errors. The wood splinters provide roughage.

I love Jesus, love my daughter, love my family, love my munchkins, love my church - especially my pastor, love my boss and my boss's boss, love my gray hair, love my big ol' dangly earrings; love words like: bliss, sizzle, joy, ephemera, epiphany, liaison, hooligan, shenanigans, tomfoolery. I don't like cruelty, avoidable ignorance, unattended and rude children - and the adults that own them, bad manners, haughty and overbearing queen bees ( I myself am a queen bee but I am merciful and benevolent. Oooh, benevolent, good word!). I like it when folks remember there was only 1 perfect person, Jesus, and ain't none of y'all Him - me either honey. Love to all y'all. See ya tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reading a friend's post got me thinking about good home training. So oops. one more soapbox post. Feel free to leave now. We are becoming a crasser & crasser society. I was raised to say "please" & "thank you" (the magic words!); to say "ma'am/sir." I said "sir" to Daddy until the day he died @ age 81 & still "ma'am" my mama. Don't agree w/that? Then erase "yeah" & "naw" and my personal favorite "huh?" from your brain. I was raised to rise when my elder enters/leaves a room & to offer to give my seat to my elder. News flash: Men, add doing the same for women of any age - you may run across the rare offended woman but she probably ain't from around here anyway. (Be nice!) And class is not a matter of financial or social status. Last week @ Logan's w/Mama waiting for a table; 3 men sitting in waiting area, 2 in business suits. Who offered my 83-yr old mother a seat? The 3rd man, wearing painter's clothes - thanks! As Mama sat, the 2 "gentlemen" just stared blankly as I continued to stand...dorks! Ladies, cursing is ugly enough in men but, seriously, you kiss your mama or kids w/that mouth?! Buy a word-of-the-day calendar, Google some new words...improve that brain, tame that tongue! (I did, you can too!) Uh,no kid, you can't push all the elevator buttons and have me stopping on 12 extra floors just 'cause your mama is too weak to tell you "no." Tell the 2024 version of Oprah or Dr. Phil about that mean lady - me. Don't send me the therapy bill. And, above all, NEVER, I mean, never ANSWER your phone at a funeral; unless you are on a transplant recipient list or are the transplant surgeon - and even then step away somewhere!! (And yes, I did witness this top 10 rudest moment EVAH! I wish I'd had an Emily Post book to throw at...oops, I mean, give him.) Thanks to all y'all who use your home training. And if you didn't get any, get some. They're free, the benefits are priceless and I'll be happy to hook you up with some! "Night and love to all y'all!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Don't get on the soapbox much - check my timeline if you're feeling doubt. There's so much joy we miss that it's my "thing" to look for joy every day - Laura Brake can back me up on that, right cuz? Now don't twist it - I don't think I'm perfect because I'm a Christian - I KNOW what a hot mess I am even WITH Jesus! But I'm better than I was and when you know better, you do better. Right now I know some folks, including me, who are hurting because of unkind words, because of attitudes, because of presumptions. Life is too short to spend it judging and gossiping. And I'm talking about people who call themselves Christians. It's no wonder the world doesn't think we're any different when we don't act any different! It's easy to love the lovely; it's when we're unlovely that we need our brothers and sisters the most. Nobody's perfect, I get that; talking about patterns of behavior here folks. THINK before you act or speak. Stop spreading the dread! If it ain't helpful or hopeful, swallow it - hear me - swallow it and go on your way. Tell Jesus about it later. The joy in this? I've done my share to hurt others and Him with my tongue, my attitude and I'm forgiven. He has a plan for me, for you - "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (We'll now sing a hymn and be dismissed. I surrender the pulpit. Amen!)