Thursday, November 28, 2019

Day of Thankfulness

It’s Thanksgiving morning. I'm on my bed with my laptop, supposed to be studying and listening to "Music Since 1945: Eight Representative Pieces" but ew. 

We had all of the kids and the people they created and the people they belong with over last night. We had the First Annual Pizzagiving, a tradition I hope continues for all of perpetuity. The only things I put in my dishwasher last night after everyone left were three coffee cups. We used some Thanksgiving paper plates I bought last year on clearance and styrofoam cups. (Sure, we harmed the environment, but it was just for one night.) I ordered the pizza last Sunday morning from the Pizza Hut and Domino’s apps, paid for it all with my debit card, and Kady’s boyfriend picked it up when he left work yesterday. Yesterday I cleaned house and made some pies and cookies and a sheet cake for Sammy’s birthday since we weren’t all able to be together on the actual day. (He's 21. My baby boy is TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD.

I sat down to do some quick homework about an hour before everyone arrived. I was irked at having two discussion boards due on Pizzagiving (do these instructors not know how historically important Pizzagiving is??) but I also didn’t want to take the hit of a late grade, so I worked on the World Religions post first, posted, then moved on to Music Appreciation. I hadn’t read the chapter, so it was all literally me bullshitting about musicals and Louis Armstrong. I hit post on that awful discussion board with a three-year-old grandgirl on my lap with her Trolls blanket in my face, yelling “Bushel and a peck, Kiki! Bushel and a peck!” At that point singing Bushel and a Peck to her was way more important than music of the stage and screen. And music of the stage and screen is kind of my love language. It’s all about priorities. My classmates will probably read that post and wonder if I had smoked a little before I hit that submit button. I don’t even care.

And now it’s actual Thanksgiving day. Abby and Dakota and the girls will be heading to his family’s gathering. Kady has already made her mac and cheese and is getting around to go be with Zach’s family for the day. Sam and his girlfriend Maegan are here since she’s just in town for a couple days. They’ll have lunch with Paul and me. She’s in college in Arkansas and we don’t get to see her much now that basketball season is in full swing. 

And since it’s a few hours until I have to start fixing lunch, I figured I’d make use of the time to knock out some homework. I’m honestly so tired of homework. Sam paid for a year’s worth of Disney+ for the family and I have watched seven whole minutes of Disney+ programming. I watched the short, “Float” (a must-watch if you love someone with any kind of neurodiversity - seriously, go watch it right now, I’ll wait.) while I was looking for “Frozen” for Petal. Once finals are out of the way I intend to watch every Disney and Pixar movie ever made and also reacquaint myself with Netflix and watch episode after episode of “Victorious” for days on end. I will wear pants only the bare (heh) minimum of time required over the break. I will cook for my husband who has fended for himself quite a lot this semester. I will do very little thinking. I will love on my family and laugh a lot. 

So Happy Day of Thankfulness, Constant Reader. I hope your turkey is whatever you need it to be - smoked, moist, brined, deep-fried or however you prefer. I hope your ham is deliciously hammy. I hope your mashed potatoes are as good as my momma’s. I hope your pumpkin pie is that perfect shade of orange and your pecan pie isn’t runny in the center like mine was yesterday. I hope you see some of your favorite people today or in the days to come. I hope if you have homework to do, it comes to you easily and you don’t have to stress over it. I hope you get a nap. I hope you don’t have to wear pants all that often. 

I hope you are thankful. I am. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Abscess Much? Part 1

The last week of August a big storm rolled through our neck of the woods that Monday night. I hadn't really heard much about it and y'all know I'm a weather nerd, so I figured there wasn't much to be worried about. Well, turns out, there were tornado warnings and 70 mph winds and so. much. rain. The storm uprooted trees and knocked down power lines all over the place. Our power went out at 12:30 in the morning on that Tuesday morning. I wasn't able to go to work that next day because our hill washes out super bad, plus there were trees blocking the roads every way out. It took Paul over an hour to get out of the neighborhood and onto the highway. So Kady and I just hunkered down and took naps all day. Well, after we moved the food out of both fridges to the garage fridge (aka the beer fridge) and hooked the garage fridge and deep freeze up to the generator. Abby and Dakota were without power as well.

By that evening (Tuesday), the roads were clear so we all loaded up and trekked to Mom and Pops' house on the north end of Miami. It takes almost an hour to get there, but we needed food and showers and it was worth the drive for Mom's mashed potatoes alone. The next day I took my flat iron and makeup to work and got ready there. The next night Kady went to her boyfriend's house to stay because their power had been restored. Paul didn't want to impose on anyone although we'd had multiple offers to come stay various places, at least come shower and eat, etc. but he's weird about stuff like that and wouldn't let me accept a single offer. So he and I showered at the public shower at the state park 15 minutes from the house. It wasn't as horrific as I had imagined it was going to be and I gotta be honest, I was kind of disappointed there wasn't a raccoon in there to greet me. I got ready at work again Thursday.

Also by Thursday morning my belly was hurting. Kind of down low, kind of achey and just present enough to make me wanna go to bed.

Y'all, I'm a shy pooper. I have a really hard time pooping anywhere but at home and maybe my momma's if I'm super desperate. The fact we are on a well means that when the power goes out, we have no water. There is something in my DNA that automatically shuts down my entire digestive system when the power goes out. I might even be linked to the electric co-op's main source at the dam for all I know. I mean, it's kind of coincidental if you ask me. So, after a few days without power and water and being just generally displaced and inconvenienced, I hadn't pooped and I had just resigned myself to the fact I had done gone and constipated myself. I took a "Women's Gentle Laxative" (Correctol in my Nana's day, but I'm cheap and always go generic) and hoped for the best. Around 4 that afternoon my sister-in-law called to say the power was on. We spent the evening moving things back to the proper fridges and cleaning the house.

I don't work on Fridays and had a hair appointment scheduled. I still didn't feel all that great and the pain was more present. I took another of those lovely "gentle" laxatives. I gotta say, the cute pink tablet that clearly states its gentility right on the box is oh so less-than-gentle when you take several a day because you're just that desperate to stop hurting. But even with a horrible case of diarrhea at this point, we watched the grandgirls that evening while Abby and Dakota went to a football game. They didn't feel well themselves, so it was kind of a rough evening all the way around. I didn't sleep well that night because I hurt so bad and tried to sleep in a little the next morning. I had Paul get some gas pills from the local Dolla Gentral to see if that would help. It did not.

Back in June, Sam and I had bought tickets to see Hamilton in Tulsa and had been anticipating it SO HARD for months. I could've been vomiting blood and I'd have still gone to the show. I loaded up on Tylenol and off he and I headed to Tulsa. We parked across from the PAC and walked 4 blocks to Dilly Diner. He got a spicy burger, spilled the pepper juice on the table, wiped it up with his napkin, then wiped his face with his napkin. It. was. hilarious. For me anyway. Him, not so much. I got half a sandwich and half a salad and ate most of it, even though I didn't feel like it. We walked the 4 blocks back to the car, made it through security, got our merch, then waited about another 30 minutes for the doors to open.

The show was utterly and absolutely amazing! I got home around 1 am and crashed, hoping to sleep off whatever devil was inhabiting my gut. I went to sleep with a heated corn bag, but got no relief. I laid around the house all day, worked on a little homework, tried to nap again. After a nap I was chilling and running a fever. I finally decided I'd had enough. I took a shower then did some Googling, called my dad for his opinion then decided it was time to go to the emergency room. I called Paul but he was at the neighbors working on a trailer and didn't have his phone. I asked Kady to go get him because I was in so much pain and kind of just wanted to cry and scream and possibly OD on some Oxy. He came flying home after she rounded him up and was ready to drive on. I told him he was dusty and smelled like the outdoors and I wasn't riding in a truck over an hour with him. I'm still kind of bitchy even when I've nearly lost the will to live. He took the fastest shower in history and off we went.

It was about 95* out, but I rode all the way to Claremore covered up and shivering. I tried to sleep. Every bump in the road was excruciating. I cried a little. I prayed. I text my mom and sister and kids and asked them to pray that the ER was devoid of crackheads and seekers that seem to really love holiday weekends. We walked through the doors to an empty waiting room. The nurse called me back before I was even fully registered. That was the only glimmer of hope in the entire thing to that point. be continued...

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Oh How Things Have Changed

Growing up, we always went to Nana's on the 4th of July. Always. There was no option, no variance, it was always to Nan's for the noon meal. We took day-works - firecrackers, snakes, sparklers, poppits, jumping Jacks, and the like. Lunch was burgers and hot dogs. There was always watermelon and homemade ice cream. When my cousin Russ was alive and still mobile, we cousins would gather around him in the living room floor before and directly after lunch and play dominoes or Boggle. The women cleaned the kitchen and visited, the men dozed off in the post-meal tradition.  Then finally! We'd climb the chat pile out back (hello, lead poisoning!) and Dad and Uncle Mike would oversee the explosives. That was Dad's side of the family. Mom's side of the family was fairly fluid in their plans. Sometimes it was our house, sometimes it was Uncle Larry and Aunt Sue's, occasionally we gathered at Papa's farm, it depended on where he was with harvesting or mowing or how sick Memaw was at the time. They were the evening festivity people. More sparklers, plus fountains and all the other fun, booming, high-in-the-sky stuff. It was always a day of cousins and food and stickiness and dirt and fun.

Then we grew up and as soon as the meal was over, we left whatever house we were at with our respective boyfriends and girlfriends to go see a movie or go to their family's shindig. I dated a guy in high school and they had a lake house and a pontoon boat and a lot of money. I hated the whole scene (they were *gasp* Republicans) and I really just wanted to go back to my family where we had cheap hot dogs and not filet mignon for lunch.

When Sis and I started families of our own we were just excited to have reason to buy fireworks once again. Paul and I were so broke when the kids were little, but starting in June we would scrimp and save up $100 for fireworks. It seemed like a lot until we got to the tent, then it seemed paltry and like it never bought enough. Sam always picked out something that pooped, Abby like the screaming chicken laying a fiery egg, Kady usually cried and whined that one of her siblings picked out the firework she wanted and the world was surely coming to an end. Most of the time the gathering was at our house because Mom lived in town and Sis did until she briefly lived in the country for a few years. One year we caught the field on fire. That was scary and fun all at once.

When we moved to Wyandotte I forced Paul's family to get together for the holiday. They are definitely not like my Big Family™. They don't actually like getting together. Mine anticipates the next one before the current one is over. My family lingers in the kitchen, there is always noise and laughter and eleventy-seven conversations at once. His family gets a plate. Quietly. Then some sit in the living room, some go outside, some sit at the picnic tables, some sit on the porch. There is rarely conversation and if there is, it's quiet and short. Mostly one syllable replies. Some nodding. That's just how they are. 

But the ONE thing I always anticipated with Paul's family coming up on the 4th - blowing shit up. We would trek to Academy the week before to buy a stupid amount of Tannerite and unfortunately, it seems there is always an appliance to go out some time during the year to provide the explosive entertainment. We've blown up a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, and I think a hot water tank. It was always a good time.

Last year I had surgery on the 3rd, so our 4th was quiet. I came home from the hospital that morning and just rested the rest of the day. Apparently it would usher in a series of quiet 4ths.

This year we are empty nesters. Kady has an apartment attached to our house now, but she's her own person. She cooks for herself, pretty well stays to herself these days. (Although she still relies on us some since she STILL doesn't have her driver's license.) I slept until 8 this morning and when I woke up Paul was gone. He had gone up to Abby and Dakota's on the tractor to fix their perpetually washed-out driveway. He wanted to get up there and back before the humidity got to swimmable. I made coffee, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, made some breakfast, checked Facebook, and just kind of marveled in the fact that we bought ZERO fireworks this year, no one is coming over, we aren't going anywhere (unless we decide to venture to Lowe's for some trim to finish the dining room later), and how different our life has become. The grandgirls are still too little for fireworks of their own, although Petal likes the noise where Wemberly HATES it. My Big Family™ will be over on Saturday, but even then we aren't doing any fireworks. We are volleyball obsessed, so there will be a pool and slip-n-slide, much food and MUCH volleyball. We don't play by many rules and there is a lot of smack talking and laughing and even more of Abby and me avoiding the ball at all costs. But we will be together and that will be the best part.

As we got onto the interstate last week headed for Branson for Big Family™ vacation, Paul kind of sighed and reached over to pat my leg. "It's pretty strange.....looking back and seeing your kids driving their own cars, following you to vacation, when just a few years ago they all three were right there behind us in the backseat, with us." He is far more sentimental than I these days, so I just squeezed his hand and said, "Yeah, but they're still with us, there are just more of them now. And besides, when they were in the car with us, it was much louder. And I was usually reaching back to smack someone at any given moment along the way. It's not bad, the way we are now. Just different. Enjoy, Mr. Hoover. We've earned this. This quietness, this calmness, this getting to watch them now instead of being immersed in it nonstop." He shrugged. He's seeing this part of life much differently than I am. I was in the trenches, doing most of the work when the kids were little. He worked, I stayed at home. I never got a day off. I was on the job 24/7. He had a 30 minute drive to and from work ALONE and if the house got loud, he just went out and mowed the yard or piddled in the barn. And now that my work is mostly done, I am enjoying the break, the quiet, the calm, the spectatorship of it all. Maybe he feels he missed out. I can't say for sure. I know I didn't miss anything. I was in the trenches, covered in blood, guts, gore, sweat, tears. It was exhausting. Rewarding as all get out, but also exhausting.

However, I do know this: I am enjoying the hell out of my empty nest right now. Maybe I'll get lonely? Maybe I'll get bored? I doubt it. For right now I'm still Kady's Uber driver, I find myself drowning in hours of homework every day, I am learning to cook for two rather than the NINE we had in the house just a few short years ago. I like my clean and tidy tiny little half-house. I like it when the kids come to visit and bring the noise and chaos and I like it when they go home again, back to their own homes where they now do their time being young adults, growing families, learning how to be adults, getting educations, becoming the amazing individuals we raised them to be.

And if they need us? They know where to find us.  ❤️

Friday, June 07, 2019

Back to the Blackboard

I am 46 years old. I have been out of high school for 28 years. In 1991, fresh out of the hallowed halls of WHS I took one semester of college at NEO. I hated it. I enrolled in 18 hours. Whoever let me do that was a total moron. My parents didn't really support me. I mean, they didn't not support me, but they sure didn't cheer me on and tell me it would all be worth it. I think if someone wanted to analyze me from a psychological standpoint there's a whole shitload of baggage thumping around inside my head, but what that dreaded first semester taught me was: college is hard.

I was a stellar student in high school. I always got good grades and they came easy. No one warned me that college was going to be the actual opposite of high school. They didn't warn me that the instructors were going to have different opinions than I did AND that they could actually argue (some quite angrily) with me about them and there was no penalty for that. The work was harder and while I still got good grades, I worked a lot harder for them. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful in college as I was in high school and before long I was having migraines almost every day. I stopped going to class. I. Hated. It. And so I quit.

Fast forward to 2007. I had three kids - 10, 8, and 5. I had a husband who didn't want me to go to college. My advisor was a neat guy, but I met him once and he didn't really give me what I needed from an advisor. (Let's face it, some of us are more high-maintenance than others. Me being the most high maintenance you can get.) I took ALL online classes that fall. I took algebra online. Whoever let me do that was a moron. (Oh wait, it was me.) However, I managed to enroll in another semester that spring and took classes for my actual major, I wrote for the campus newspaper, I enjoyed my classes. However, at that time we only had dialup internet and online classes were only getting harder and harder to do with internet that slow. I couldn't just go to town every day and use someone else's - that kind of defeated my purpose of staying home to do school. And so I quit. Again.

Over the years I convinced myself I didn't need the degree. I worked at DHS as an aid/secretary. I worked for a mom-and-pop small business as a secretary. Both jobs were not degree-worthy. But then I was asked to apply for a job at the other junior college in the area. I applied. I interviewed. I felt really good about the interview. They said they'd call the next day. They didn't.

So I had all weekend to stew over it. I was in crisis. I don't like disappointing people. I had all but decided not to take it, no matter how much I had vibed with the people who did my interview (my future coworkers) and no matter how much I longed for a change. I just didn't want to let down my then current employers and leave them in a bad spot. But I also had some issues with them over my husband's employment there. Yet still I felt loyal. I wrestled with the decision for a whole weekend and had pretty much decided to not take it if it was offered to me. And I was also deep down 100% convinced they were not going to offer it to me.

Then Julie called on Monday, just as I was getting in my car to go to town. I leaned against the hood as she started with pleasantries and how they all thought I was so funny and "one of them," then she said, "Okay, so all that to say, we'd like to offer you the job!" I was speechless. I was quiet as she talked about pay and scheduling. And my heart sunk as I realized that I was going to have to turn her down, she was so nice and bubbly. But then she went on to say, "Oh and as an employee, you get free tuition if you choose to enroll, plus Sam will get his tuition free and you husband and any of your other kids!" I literally just kind of flopped down into the seat of my car and sat there stunned. I told her I needed to think about it and she was kind and gracious and said, "Absolutely! Can you let me know in a day or two?" I told her I'd let her know the next day, hung up and just sat there. Free college. F R E E  C O L L E G E.

I called my mom, sister, husband, daughter, son, basically everyone just shy of the Governor of Oklahoma. They all said basically the same thing: "You're stupid if you don't take it."

And so here I am, 10 months later, a very happy employee of Crowder College and also a full-time college student once more. I am currently taking two online classes this summer and will take 12 hours this fall. I am a Journalism/Public Relations major. I'm not sure I will ever do a thing with that degree because honestly, I'm very happy with my job as the secretary for ProjectNOW, (where it's true, I am definitely "one of them" and we are all just a little twisted and weird and that seems to be what people love most about us.) but in a few semesters I'll be able to say I have a degree. My sweet little Kady With a D is also enrolled as a full-time student at Crowder in the fall as well. We have math together. I offered to switch to a different class, but she said, "No, stay. That way I know I won't be the only one crying in class every day."

If I wanted to take more than 12 hours a semester I could finish by May 2020, but I don't want to, so I'm not gonna. It will work out to where I'll take one final science class in the fall of 2020 and graduate in December. I haven't decided if I'm going to walk yet. I doubt it. But we'll see. The more blood, sweat, and tears I put into this, the more I may decide I want to.

I had a proper meltdown on the first day of classes. But I feel like I got it out of my system and should be good from here on out. I still put a lot of pressure on myself to be nothing less than 100% perfect, so I feel my stress levels rising quite often. All self-inflicted. It's just who I am. But this time I have support. I have colleagues who are cheering. Friends who are cheering. Family who is cheering. And I'm kind of cheering for myself this time. That's a new one.

And now I have written my first post in six months all while waiting impatiently for Blackboard (the website where all of my college sits and awaits my attention) to stop being broken. IT sent an email assuring they were on it. I took yesterday evening off to just watch some TV ("Westworld" - go watch it. It's amazing.) and did zero homework. Today I haven't been able to do any. I told Kady I was being punished for being a slacker. She assured me the universe doesn't give two shits if I take an evening off to watch a weird robot cowboy show. Always the pragmatist, that Kady.

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...