Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yabba Dabba - A Word From My Mom

I received this email from my Mom this afternoon:

50 Years

This is putting some things into a weird perspective for me.......I was 13 1/2 when this came on the air. We finally had a color tv in 1963 - and boy did I ever enjoy cartoons - after you were born, I looked forward to Saturday cartoons as much as you did. Did you know that the "Banana Splits" are on again.....the old stuff - and we have "Wallace & Ladmo" once a week on Saturday morning on a local Phoenix station. Love you - and hope you still watch cartoons! Mom

It brought a smile to my heart ... and to my face. Thanks, Mom.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Tidbit While You Wait

I see the local Denny's finally put that Lego "restaurant shoppe" kit together.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

544 Miles

I did something that tests mettle. That tests nerves. Truly, that tests the very fiber of friendship itself.

I and two girlfriends drove for ten hours this weekend. Let me take you back to how it came to be:

"Hey, I know!" I said through a mouthful of delicious organic corn chips. "Let's drive to Rugby on the way to Walhalla!"

"Have you SEEN a map?" came Maria's reply with one eyebrow raised.

"No, but who cares? Once we're out of the county it's four hours to anywhere. We're in North-Da-freaking-Kota, dude." (I say "dude" a lot. I think I started doing it in the 80's just to annoy people amuse myself, and it stuck.)

And I know what you're thinking (especially now that you've seen the map.) Rugby? Really? Oh, hell YES.

See, my friend Cathy lives in Rugby, and anywhere she is, I will travel to. This woman is incredible. She's funny, smart, tells a great story, is a fantastic cook, a gracious hostess, and thinks I'm funny. What more could a girl want? Oh! And her husband is a gifted artist .... who uses my bras for art. Now THAT, my friends, is what I am talkin' 'bout.

And Walhalla? On purpose? Absolutely. Well, NOW it's an absolute, but at the time it was more of a, "She's getting married where now?", followed immediately by an, "Of COURSE we'll come!". You would, too, if you knew Sarah. Sarah is smooth. But not in a weird, slimy, guy-who-buys-high-school-girls-beer-by-night-and-sells-office-supplies-by-day kind of way. More like a nothing-can-shake-this-woman-she-comes-from-folks-that-are-salt-of-the-Earth-and-Lord-don't-I-love-her kind of way. Sarah is one of those people that you can be you around, regardless of which you may show up. She has a sparkle in her eye and a wildly infectious laugh. And did I mention how scary-smart she is? Dude. To know her is to love her.

So when Tammy, Maria and I were invited to the wedding, (Tammy is already friends with Cathy, and believe-you-me, Maria and Tammy sure as heck are friends now), we made plans and off we went.

Tammy brought her immense vocabulary and an arsenal of treats. Maria brought her decision-making and her admirable willingness to climb on top of inanimate objects for photo-ops. I drove. And hilarity ensued.

I could tell you about the number of times all Maria could do was this weird wheezing thing because Tammy made her laugh, or the number of times Tammy counted me snort-laughing, or the potty stops, or the songs listened to, sung aloud, and reminisced about--but I won't.

Because better stuff happened.

That thing that's supposed to be a deal-breaker, the road trip, turned out to be a deal-maker.

I learned that three women can, indeed, have a peaceful trip in the same vehicle. I learned that when you show up to someone's wedding four hours away, you do it because you love ... nay, adore them. I learned that exploring teeny-tiny towns and spending an hour in that town's graveyard, paying your respects to strangers and being awed by history, instills a sense of peace like nothing else. And that wearing your pj's and talking late into the night in the parlor of an incredible bed and breakfast with people who still love you even after they've seen you in the morning is one of the best ways there is to close out a day.

Here's to 544 miles, friendships I cherish, and women who make my world a better place just by being in it.

I am blessed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dear Friends,

The new job is kicking my ass.

There. I've said it.

I love it, but it's exhausting.

I'm in bed by 9:30 most nights and my house is a wreck because the stuff I cram into the hours between 5:00ish and 9:30pm most certainly has nothing to do with cleaning, picking up or even straightening, truth be told.

I have a post about last weekend's super-fantastic trip to dang-near the Canadian border written, but I strongly feel I should post photos with it. Unfortunately, those photos number in the I-don't-know-how-many and still reside on one of two card-thingies in my camera bag. Which is around here ... somewhere.

So. Here we sit. You, waiting to be entertained; me, too tired to entertain.

You should know, though, that I love you. I do. I love that you pop by to see if I've updated. I especially love those who subscribe. And I specially-super-duperly love those that share a link to my musings, meanderings and ... uh oh, need an "m" word. Uh .... meanings? Sure. Let's go with meanings.

I have no way to wrap this up with a nice, neat bow. So I'll just share a photo from a simpler time before the hours sped up and years flew by. Oh, Lawsy, the eyeliner.

Happy Tuesday, y'all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

She Loves Me - A Guest Blog

Hi, y'all.

I turned thirty-seven at 9:something this morning.

A few hours later, on Facebook, a friend asked what my theme for the coming year is. Without thinking (what? me? not think? unheard of!), "letting go" came popping out.

With that in part of my brain and the scene from City Slickers where Billy Crystal's mom calls him in the wee hours of the morning to tell the same story she tells every year on his birthday -- that of his birth -- in the other part, I asked my older sister, J., to guest blog.

"Dude, do a Billy Crystal."

We did our customary chicken-cackle and I waited.

And here, without ANY. EDITING. AT. ALL, (high-five to me!) copied and pasted straight from Her Majesty's email, is J.'s story:

Thank you, Julia. I love you, too. More than words can say ... and I know a LOT of words.

Roll out the carpet, strike up the band and shout out with hip hooray!

Yep, that is what every older sister should feel at the time of her baby siblings birth. But, it was not like that. I was scared of the 'baby' that was coming. I was now going to be a big sister who no longer received all the attention. That part was okay. I was most concerned about how was I going to take care of this real life baby. Would "it" cry like the ones in the store? Would I have to take "it" on dates with me when I grew up and had a real date? Would my Mom get mad at "it" for not taking a nap like me? But most of all, of all the feeling and true, vivid memories I remember, it was what if "it" does not like me?

I loved my Mommies tummy. I wanted one too. Big and round and soft. I will NEVER forget the first time I felt "it" kick. My Mommy was 7 months pregnant. I giggled. After that I was hooked. I could not wait for the moments when my Mommy would take my little hand and gently place it wherever "it" was kicking. One time, my Mommy put my hand on her tummy and said, 'This is the butt'. That was the best.

I watched as my Mommy prepared the room and how she began to change.

There was lots of change going on around our house. As I look back now, after having my own son, I think that children go through the similar emotions as the Mothers do. As my Mommy got closer to the day, I became anxious and sick and scared. Again, what if "it" did not like me?

Again, this was different. September 13, 1973....B-Day. I am not sure where I was at the time or the time. But "it" was on its way. I imagined a baby but I could never imagine "its" hair, eyes, skin, hands, or smell.

I guess this was God's way of knowing how I am and without any preconceived notions, would be more apt accepting "it" without any stipulations of my own.

Much after that is a blur...and my the woman who I called Mommy opened the door and there "it" was. No longer an "it", but rather my Mommy had brought my baby home. We locked eyes. Her, oh yes HER! She is a her, a girl, A SISTER!!!! We locked eyes. If you have ever experienced the awesomeity of looking into a Doe's eyes and seeing them blink back at you with longing and trust, then and only then can you know what I felt when "she", my sister, Laura looked through me. I say that because as I was admiring this tiny human being that my Mommy had brought home for me, Laura sent shivers through me. She was talking to my soul. I was not scared, but we knew each other before. I felt it then, I have felt over the years growing up and I know it now.

We are all given pillars to lean on and gather strength from. I felt that it was indeed my job to prepare her for something. Of course, I was your normal older sister who picked on her little sister, but only I was allowed to do that. Anybody else who crossed her was forever my enemy.

You see, Laura was my cub.

Over the years, we never grew apart, we just grew up. There is 6 years between us and when I graduated and joined the Military, she was still at home in middle school. What a horrible time on a girls life to all of a sudden loose her big sister.

Laura never lost me. How can you loose your soul mate? We have shared every secret, every lie, every laugh, and every cry. We have yelled and screamed, loved one another and at times may have thought we hated the other. Not so. A soul mate is so overused in today's society. A soul mate is one who you know before you are here on earth. I am lucky to have 3 sisters. Each one unique and supportive. But today is Laura's day. My soul mate. God of course created us, but sisters...well we pick each other before God even picks our parents. I am not sure who picked who.

But, I'll bet we were up in Heaven cooking and that is how it all started.

It was a match of wits, but Laura said, "Hey, I need you to guide the way for me Julia. Then one day, you will need me and I will be there." So, that is how we got each other. Then together, we picked out Heather. I am not thinking like a puppy, but probably really close to that. Laura got to pick Heather out - I just approved.

Happy Birthday Laura Lynn. You guide my way now and keep me on track and remind me that I was your path. You now are my light.

I love you.

PS - Everyone...."it" liked me.

As best described by Carla Ortega, "to the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Promise Fulfilled

When the BoyRD was a wee child, he adored Barney, the loud, adenoid-challenged, overly cheery, purple dinosaur.

Like the “L-O-V-E-D” him kind of "adored" him.

I would even go so far as to say that as a citizen of the diaper-wearing nation, the child was obsessed. Maybe someday I'll tell you about the things I would get done while he was entranced by Barney videos. Then again, maybe that's not the best idea.

So as a two year-old, the RD hears Barney is coming to town.

Except this is a lie.

(And should we talk about how a two year-old hears about an act coming to town? As though in 1995 there was some sort of underground toddler grapevine? Did they use rhythms beaten out with sippy cups, broadcast via pirate radio? It boggles the mind, really.)

Oops. Bunny trail. OK, back on track:

The lie lay in that Barney was coming to our town. Barney was, you see, coming to Las Vegas, 96 miles away from our town. (I've said "our town" so many times in this sentence that I'm beginning to feel like I need a couple of ladders and a stage manager. Five points if you get the reference.)

Today those 96 miles wouldn't be a big deal. Shit, Shoot, today I drive 96 miles just for a good cup of coffee and a nice view. Fifteen years ago, however, that was like asking me to fly to NYC and pay cash for four dozen tickets to a Broadway show before handing them out to the musical aficionados from the cast of The Jersey Shore. It just wasn't gonna happen. Not only was I a single Mama without the financial means, but there was no way my car would make it to Vegas, much less home.

I talked to the young RD about it.

"Son," I explained (I called him son at home), "next time Barney is in town, I will find a way to get you there. I promise. I double-dog swear. I make a solemn oath on my Garth Brooks Fresh Horses CD." (What? It was 1995, and Garth would become a concert I had to tell him three separate times we couldn't afford to attend. Seriously. The child would smile ear-to-ear, kick his little feet in glee, and holler at the top of his curly-haired little lungs, "MAMA! Mine Garf! Mine GARF, Mama! My inability to provide that not once but thrice still hurts my heart.)

Defeated, the little fella agreed that "someday" would be good enough. And I never forgot.

Fast-forward seven years. The BoyRD is now 9 and we're living in Fargo, North Dakota. Fargo, the city with the FARGODOME. (Their spellin' yellin', not mine -- I'm just stickin' with their branding.) The FARGODOME, a large enough venue to bring in big shows. Big shows like Barney the purple damned dinosaur, for example.

Nobody's forgotten the promise, right? Me either.

"Son," (I still called him son), "Barney is coming to the 'DOME. Do you want to go?"

He thought about it.

And thought about it.

And weighed.

And measured.

"Yes. I do."

And so we went.

We made a date of it. He and I washed the car, got dressed up, left Dad at home and went out to lunch. And then we went to a Barney concert.

We had great seats. And by "great seats," I mean, "on the floor, about 11th row, center." (Yeah, that's how I roll.)

As we waited for the show to start, he looked around and pretty quickly had an observation to voice.

"Mom. Mom. MOM!"

"Wha? Oh, sorry ... I was people watching."

"Yeah. Me too," he said with concern knitting his brow, "I'm the oldest kid here."

I had noticed something similar, and was ready with a platitude. Something like, "Maybe people just think you're exceptionally tall for your age," but when I saw the look on his face, I realized it was best to go with a different approach.

"No you're not, babycakes. See? Look at that girl over there," I said, pointing to a blond tween up in the tiered seating. "She's even older than you."

"MOM -- she's a babysitter!"

Ah, crap. This kid was smarter than I thought.

Thankfully, that's when the show started.

Four billion cubic tons of multi-colored confetti showered down from the heavens. Lasers and spotlights swung wildly from every crevice of the facility. Tiny voices screamed in an ecstatic frenzy as Barney and his posse bounded on-stage.

I told myself it would be okay; my baby boy would remember everything he loved about this goofy-ass purple freak affable dino as a toddler and be able to enjoy the show, even more so than if he'd been to the same performance as a two year-old.

And then Barney exalted the crowd with, "Hey boys and girls! Do you know what time it is?"

And my sweet, sweet, loving, angelic brown-eyed boy stood up and shouted at the top of his lungs, "It’s time to PUT … ON … SOME … PANTS!"

Barney didn't hear him. I'm not entirely sure anyone but me heard him, either. And in that moment, I learned something.

It could be that maybe some promises are better left unfulfilled.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School (Or: Did That Just Happen?)

OK, so I'm not sure how many of you know I am a brand spankin' new elementary school secretary.

I had been applying to become a secretary in the Fargo school district for over a decade to no avail. The times I would make an in-person inquiry, I would be told, "We always hire for those spots from within." Don't they know WHO I AM?!? Sheesh.

And then, a glimmer. A whim, really. I applied in Moorhead. And ... they ... said ... yes. I hope I never forget when my principal called to offer me the job. I had to pull over, I was crying and laughing and praising Heaven like a crazy person.

I've spent the last month getting ready for today. Building up to HAVING THE KIDS IN SCHOOL.

Just typing that makes me laugh. Nothing, my friends, zip--zero--zilch--NADA could have prepared me for the big day.

I ran the front desk of a 1,600+ room gaming/resort/hotel for how long with how many drunk, angry, loud adults in my lobby for how many hours in a row with the decibel level set to kill? And nope -- even that didn't give me a glimpse of the chaos, the craziness that was today.

Today made the beaches of Normandy look like a Kennedy-family picnic at Martha's Freaking Vineyard.

Crying kids. Frazzled bus drivers. Stoic janitors. Stealthy toddlers. Insistent lunch ladies. Super-charged teachers. Glassy-eyed siblings. Freaked out parents. Harried teachers aids (we call them "para-professionals" in the part of the world; heretofore referred to simply as "paras".) And the phone. Always, always, always the phone. Non. Freaking. Stop.

And then he appeared. The child who made my day. He was like a twenty-something man, crammed into a eight year-old's body. He was so matter of fact, so frank in his manner that I wanted to hug him ... even though.

So right in the midst of all of the aforementioned sensory assault, I sense someone staring at me. It's him. He barely clears the higher part of the counter around my desk -- the part where adults sometimes stand to fill out forms or rest their arms as they talk.

"Hiya, sir. What can I do for you today?"

"Well, I think I might need to see the nurse," came the reply.

"Oh?" (it's my job to make sure everybody gets to the right person the first time), "What happened? You okay?" I tried to give him the best once-over I could from the opposite side of the desk, leaning in to inspect his face and visible extremities for obvious injury.

"Well," he said, looking for all the world like a work-weary blue-collar fella telling a story at the bar, eyes sweeping the room, taking in everything and nothing, "I was runnin' real hard in PE, ya know? And somethin' just squirted outta my butt."

His gaze locked mine. "And now I think I must need some new underwear or sumpin."

And there it was. So straightforward. Not a hint of embarrassment; just what it was.

And so I walked around the desk, put my arm around his shoulders and introduced him to our nurse, Janet.

And the rest of the day? Well, the rest of the day was just like this young man had told it: straightforward. Matter of fact. It was what it was ... with one major difference.

Now I had perspective.