Category Archives: Life

Travelling Fool

I just got home after a trip to northeast Arkansas to visit my family. It was a much-needed getaway after dealing with some health issues. Said health issues are still in progress and are causing me a huge amount of stress and worry. I know worrying won’t change the outcome of the tests, but it doesn’t make me worry any less. Some of them have come back normal so keeping my fingers crossed for the same result for the rest of them.

My family lives just across the Mississippi river from Memphis, Tennessee.  It amazes me how much different that part of Arkansas is from the part where I live.  East Arkansas is called the Mississippi river delta.  It’s flat and mostly nothing but farms and fields of winter wheat, soybeans, and cotton as far as the eye can see.  A few trees here and there.  Where I live, on the other hand, is the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains.  It’s beautiful and covered in lovely forest.  I never lived in the delta, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for it.

All four of my grandparents grew up in that part of Arkansas.  My dad’s family, who I visited this time, grew up in Dyess, Arkansas. It’s really only known for being the boyhood home of Johnny Cash now, but I assure you he wasn’t the only one to grow up there.  I saw his old home, they’re fixing it up and turning it into a museum.  It looks nicer than I bet it did when he lived in it.  If you grew up in Dyess, odds are you were poor as church mice (that’s how my granny describes the level of poverty her family experienced when she was a girl).  Most of the old homes where the families lived are gone now. They lived there after President Roosevelt turned the area into a depression relief project.  Families (my own included) who qualified were given 40 acres of land and a mule to help plow it. They grew cotton and used the money to pay back the government when they could afford it.

My great aunt, granny’s sister, showed me where their farm had been, and where my great grandmother lived after my great grandfather died and she sold the farm and moved into town.  I saw the old high school, where my granny was the only one of her eight brothers and sisters to graduate.  The rest of them quit school by the time they were 16 to get married or start working.  The town is just a small community now, but thanks to it being Johnny Cash’s hometown, the town square is being restored to look like it did in the 30s-60s, when most of the poor farming families lived there.  It was amazing to see where my family was and how far they each came in their lives.  They may have been poor, but all the kids did well and the ones still living live comfortable lives now.

I come from a long line of cotton farmers.  All of my grandparents had 7 or 8 kids in their families and picked cotton all their growing up years.  Makes me thankful for how fortunate I am.  My grandparents, on both sides, are the only ones who left the area.  I’ve had to grow up away from my family, so I love any chance I get to visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins…of which I have MANY.  They are sweet people with thick southern accents.  I notice mine gets thicker when I’m around them.  I wish I could spend more time with them.  When it comes down to it, though, my home is near the mountains. I’m not sure I could be happy living in a place where there isn’t a mountain for over 100 miles.

My great aunt let me stay with her.  We talked for hours and travelled all over northeast Arkansas seeing the old ancestral homes.  She cooks like you would imagine any southern grandmother to cook–everything from scratch and tastes DELICIOUS.  No one makes sweet tea like she does. I think I drank half a gallon while I was there. I experienced true happiness this week, time with my family…and gained 3 pounds thanks to all the southern food and super sweet tea. That’s the good life, y’all.

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Getting Old…It’s Not For Wimps!

It’s a phrase my grandmother likes to use…only she uses a slightly less appropriate word for wimps. If she heard me use it she’d laugh in my face and promptly tell me to shut up.  No, typically a woman of 30 would not be considered old, but I’m an exception to that rule. Chronologically I’m not old, but physically I might as well be twice my age. It’s not in anybody’s best interests for me to go into detail about my mile-long list of ailments, it just illustrates the point I eventually plan on making.

I’m spending another week with my best friend to fill in at their family business. Just receptionist work, no major skill required. They just needed someone they could trust to fill in for a week. I’m glad to do it. It dawned on me since being asked to do this that I actually miss working. When I was working full time, I would daydream about being financially independent and not having to work. Now that I physically can’t work a regular full time job, I realize how good I had it.  I miss having a reason to get up in the mornings–regardless of the fact that I didn’t necessarily enjoy doing it.  I miss the daily interaction with my coworkers and patients. You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

When everything else is falling apart around me–my life, my body, etc.–I crave that daily constant of getting up and going to work. If your job sucks, find a new one…but don’t fantasize about being able to live without working. Trust me it’s not that glamorous.

The Big 3-0

Yes, this is it. My 30th birthday is less than 2 hours away.  For the first time in my life I’m actually dreading turning another year older! I used to think people who hated revealing their age or experienced any kind of anxiety when thinking about their age were crazy!  It’s a number! Who cares?  Well, now that it’s me in that position, I totally understand the angst so many people feel about entering a new decade of life.  I’ve grown so accustomed to writing a 2 in my age…now I have to get used to the fact that my age starts with 3! I’ve been alive for 3 decades!  Kids who were born when I was in elementary school are now graduating from college and getting married! Where did the time go???  Anyway, in honor of my big 3-0, I’ve decided to reminisce about some of my birthday parties from years past…

  • Age: 6.  Location: The Local Burger King.

All the kids from my kindergarten class were invited for a blowout party at a fast food restaurant. It was my favorite at the time. Everyone got a gold crown and a kids meal. After gifts, we went outside to the magical world that is the fast food restaurant playground.  So many restaurants have done away with their playgrounds, that was a big part of my childhood. We played pirates on the big ship-shaped slide that even had a swinging drawbridge. Good times were had by all.

  • Age: 13.  Location: My House.

My 13th birthday was pretty amazing. Lots of good memories. Some, not so good. My friends from school (only the girls) were picked up after school by a limousine.  The bar inside had been replaced with all the sodas you could drink. There was a tiny TV and stars that twinkled on the ceiling. The limousine took us to dinner in style, where we dined on delicious pizza at the local CiCis.  We had the limo for a while longer after dinner, and after a unanimous vote, we decided our next stop would be Petsmart.  If I’m lying I’m dying.  We then went home, had homemade funnel cakes in place of birthday cake, and stayed up all night.  We then took everyone home during some thunderstorms. Once we got home from dropping everyone off, one of the biggest tornado outbreaks in the state’s history wreaked havoc everywhere. I was so tired from the night before I slept through most of it, then the tornado sirens woke me up. Tornados obliterated entire towns that day. Only one of my friends lost their home. They found his mom’s car 3 blocks away WRAPPED around a tree.  My birthday went out with a bang in 1997.

  • Age: 16.  Location: Local Community Center.

The year I turned 16, my dad turned 40.  We were both having a big birthday that year (we share the same birthday). I told my mom it was fine if she focused on him instead of me for our birthday, so I was led to believe we were having a big birthday party for him. I was with my best friend all day getting ready, planning on surprising my dad. My friend suggested we dress crazy in tye dye shirts and long colorful toe socks, etc…the flower power days were trying to make a comeback at that time.  Turns out my friend was only keeping me occupied so I didn’t come to the community center because turns out, the party was for me! I showed up and saw all my friends sitting there in crazy tye dye shirts because the theme was crazy colors and flower power crap. There was a DJ and everything.  That was the biggest surprise I’ve ever been given.

The rest of my birthdays have been relatively uneventful. This one will be as well. No plans for a birthday party tomorrow, just having dinner with family. I thought this would be a big deal celebration-wise, but turns out it’s been such a crazy year so far nobody has time or interest in putting a party together…and I can’t blame them there. I’m not particularly in love with the idea of celebrating the death of my 20s.

Things My Mother Taught Me

Parents: they bring us into the world, then spend the next 18 plus years feeding us, clothing us, and trying their best to keep us from doing stupid things and killing ourselves.  There’s no other way to put it, kids are often pretty stupid…at least until their teen years, then they’re always stupid.  Without someone to guide them, kids would be walking into walls and falling off cliffs every day.  When you’re growing up, your mom and dad are always on duty, watching practically every move you make to ensure your well-being.  It’s a 24-hour job, no breaks, no weekends, no holidays.

Though they remain vigilant the majority of the time, there are always those moments when parents have to take their eyes off their children for a short time.  I mean, even a mom has to go to the bathroom sometimes.  For these rare, unsupervised moments, parents have to develop “temporary babysitters.”  These temporary babysitters are a technique employed by parents to use our own brains to speak for them in their absence. We’ve all encountered a temporary babysitter at some point in our lives.  A form of mind control our mom and dad plant in our head to keep us out of trouble.  Every parent has their own temporary babysitting tactics, and some of them are unique to say the least.

The following are some temporary babysitting gems used by my mother during my childhood:

  • Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll get stuck that way.  A fairly common phrase among parents, this was my mom’s way of making sure my facial expressions remained socially acceptable at all times–even when she wasn’t around.
  • Don’t swallow the seeds or you’ll sprout a watermelon in your stomach.  My mom used this one when I was four, and I still remember it vividly because it frightened me so much. I didn’t need to worry about watermelons that day, my mom had sown her own terrible seed–a seed of pure fear! Her timing of this particular warning was uncanny, because she told me “just look at what happened to your aunt because she swallowed a watermelon seed.”  My aunt was eight months pregnant at the time.  I haven’t eaten watermelon since.
  • Don’t peek under the tree on Christmas Eve night or all your gifts will disappear.  Obviously Santa was magic or he couldn’t deliver all those gifts in one night, so the idea of my gifts magically disappearing as fast as they had appeared seemed plausible to my young mind.  Peeking was strictly prohibited because in my house, Santa never wrapped his gifts.  He just left my gifts by the Christmas tree.  Mom and dad wrapped theirs so I could tell my gifts from them apart.  An awful lot of trouble to go through just to give a fat, bearded stranger the credit.
  • The Boogey Man lives under my bed and he’ll snatch you if you get up during the night.  My mom didn’t use this particular gem.  In fact, she was furious when she found out about it.  My dad’s mother is responsible for this one. When I was very young and would spend the night, she’d let me sleep in bed with her because she had no night lights in her bedrooms and I didn’t want to be by myself.  In order to keep me from getting up and down all night and keeping her awake, she made sure a terrifying, child-snatching monster lived under her bed. That one really must have struck a chord, because to this day I sometimes feel a brief rush of fear whenever I have to get up in the middle of the night or notice my closet door is open.
  • Don’t pick your nose or your brain will fall out.  Unique to say the least, this was how my mom kept my nose-mining at bay. Apparently picking your nose stretches out your nostrils until they’re so big your brain will just fall right out of your head through your nose.  Nothing bogus about that at all!
  • Eat your vegetables or your hair will fall out and you’ll turn purple.  Because apparently skipping my broccoli would result in a terrible case of scurvy. Pass the peas please!
  • Don’t bite your fingernails, you’ll get worms!  This is the phrase I remember most. My mom was constantly warning me about the hazards of biting my nails. Get a load of her explanation: When you play outside, dirt gets under your fingernails. The dirt contains dry worm eggs that, once they hit the moisture in your stomach, will hatch.  When I bit my nails, I swallowed some of the worm egg-infested dirt. What my mom didn’t know was that I wasn’t biting my nails when she’d correct me. I was terrible about biting the cuticle and all the skin around my nails.  I rarely, if ever, bit a fingernail. Her terrifying story about the life cycle of a parasitic worm, however, would cause me to panic every time I accidentally ended up with dirt in my mouth.  Happened a lot on a dry, windy day.  I’d be playing outside, then feel that disgusting gritty feeling in my mouth after a big gust of wind. My heart would drop out of my chest and I’d get tingly from head to toe. A sudden burst of adrenaline at the mere thought of accidentally ingesting a worm egg in all that dirt.

You have to hand it to her.  Even if she didn’t have an ounce of medical knowledge to back up her claims, she would still come up with her own elaborate explanation to ensure I didn’t doubt a word she said. Moms: Using deception as a childcare aid since always.

Nighttime Reflections

I am spending the next 3 days with my best friend and her family, and since she has four children under the age of five and a part time job…she’s tired.  She and her husband have gone to bed, so I’ve retired to my room to get a little computer time in before going to bed myself.  I’m so happy to be here with them. Her four kids, my Godchildren, are so adorable and so much fun. I miss the days when they lived only 20 minutes from me…rather than three hours.

Anyway, now that they are in bed and all four kids are asleep (I hope, for their sake, all four STAY asleep for several hours), the house is uncharacteristically quiet.  I didn’t realize this house could get this quiet!  There is usually someone crying or talking…or the sound of little bare feet slapping the hardwood floors.  In effort to keep the house quiet and avoid somebody waking up, I’ve opted not to watch TV or watch YouTube videos (I forgot my earphones!).  With all this silence, I’ve been sitting here thinking about things.

For some reason, I started thinking about high school.  I probably thought about this due to my imminent birthday (March 6)…which makes me realize it’s been quite a long time since I was in high school!  I’ve been out of high school long enough now that some of my old friends from those days have kids well into elementary school, some are getting divorced, some are recently remarried…we’re grown ups!  When you’re in your early 20s, you consider yourself a “grown up” (and technically you are)…but when you reach my age you begin to realize you were still just a kid then.

I sometimes miss the carefree days of college…being on my own without really being on my own.  I had the luxury of coming and going as I pleased without the burden of financial responsibilities bombarding me from every angle.  It was still easy, and almost “fashionable” to stay up until all hours…sometimes it was even necessary if I had a big test the next day.  I was always coming and going, spending more time with friends than alone or with family…and it was a tragedy if something happened to prevent me from spending time with them.  Back then, my family were important to me, but my friends were my life.  I spent hours talking on the phone (believe it or not, I actually went to college during a time when texting had not quite taken off the way it has now), and when I wasn’t on the phone I was with the people I was on the phone with.

During college and shortly thereafter, every aspect of life seemed so emotionally charged.  It was much easier for me to become passionate about things.  It doesn’t take all that much for people of that age to get into arguments with their friends, enter a phase where you aren’t speaking, etc.  Of course, within the week it was all forgotten and life moved on as if it never happened.  In college you don’t care as much about having nice things (except when it comes to technology), matching furniture, fancy dishes, and things like that.  For people that age lucky enough to live off campus, it is not uncommon to have mismatched furniture in every room, sitting atop the 30-dollar rug you purchased at Walmart all on your own and are so proud of.

It’s strange to think about that time in my life, because it wasn’t really that long ago, yet it seems like it was.  It’s strange to see how much your life changes and your priorities change in such a short span of time.  When you reach my age, you have your own house, or at least your own apartment.  You want your furniture to match. All of a sudden you find dishes and cookware interesting.  You don’t have a Walmart rug in your living room anymore.   Instead of wanting the fastest car, you want a practical car that saves gas mileage and has four doors to seat everyone comfortably and isn’t too hard to climb out of.  If you have children, you actually want and maybe already have a minivan.

You realize how smart your parents actually are.  Instead of being afraid of being caught out with your parents by your friends, you start to want to hang out with them.  They are starting to be more like friends than parents all of a sudden.  You don’t spend half the amount of time with your friends that you once did, because they’re all busy with their lives and so are you.  Instead of going to bars or clubs when you do get to spend time with them, you just go out to eat or to each others’ homes.  I never did lead a “party lifestyle” anyway, but I spent more time in bars then than I do now–which is never.  In fact, I don’t drink at all now.

When you call or text your friends now, you don’t get upset or wonder what you did wrong if they don’t answer you.  In fact, you find yourself feeling surprised if they actually do respond in a timely manner.  It takes an awful lot for you to get into any sort of fight with a friend when you reach the end of your 20s.  You’ve grown up and matured.  Stupid petty things don’t upset you like they once did.  And if you do have a falling-out with a friend, it’s over something pretty bad…something you and that person just do not and will not agree on.  If someone hurts you, a lot of times you stop speaking to each other forever…not just a few days.  Luckily it rarely happens, though…well, unless one or both parties have failed to mature with age which sometimes happens.

You begin to look back at all the friends you once had and you realize just how many people you have lost touch with.  People who you spent practically every waking moment with in school are reduced to a Facebook friend you rarely hear from, with the exception of the random comment or like on your status or photo. It doesn’t happen with all your friends, though.  Some friends you make in high school and college will be your friends for life.  And you realize late in your 20s just how rare that is and how precious they are to you.  You also make new friends at work, people who share your interests and become just as close to you as your college buddies were, even if you don’t spend nearly as much time with them.

While some of this may sound depressing to a younger person, it really isn’t.  It’s just the naturally progression of life that comes with maturity.  One thing you realize at my age is, while you do miss those days from time to time, most people wouldn’t go back if they could.  When you get older and mature, you start to settle down and appreciate different things than you appreciated in school.  I personally loved college, but I wouldn’t go back to those days no matter how much you paid me.  Now those days are just fond memories of a good time, but I’m much more settled down and content with my life and myself than I’ve ever been before…and I like it.

Another thing that happens after school is that you become your teachers’ peers rather than their subordinates.  I’m actually friends with some of my college professors and even a couple of my high school teachers.  Some of the teachers I feared and even disliked in high school, I now look back on with respect.  The ones I liked the least were the ones from whom I learned the most.  Age becomes a far less important factor when you’re in your late 20s.  In high school, it was just much too beneath you to be friends with people more than a couple of years younger, and the people a few years older felt the same about you.  Now, I have friends decades older than I am!  And I don’t think a thing of it.  It’s natural to me.

I guess one of the saddest things to happen when you get older is you start hearing about the deaths of some of your old teachers from high school.  The ones that were older and about to retire when I was in school are now dying.  It makes me sad.

One of my best and favorite teachers from high school passed away not that long ago and I was so hurt by that.  She was one of the teachers most feared by all the students.  I almost took the class in summer school just to avoid taking it with her.  Had I done that, I would have cheated myself in a big way.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately.  My senior English teacher taught me almost everything I know about writing.  If it hadn’t been for her, I’d never have made it through college with almost a 4.0.  I’d never have been able to use my writing as a source of income.  You can’t tell from reading this blog, but I can actually write fairly well.  Well enough to be published from time to time.  I don’t take the time to make this blog perfect like I do my professional writing.  I just write as it comes to me.  Proofreading–ha! I just wish I’d have told her how much her class did for me.

One of the best things you can do for a teacher is go back when you’ve grown up and tell them how much their class meant to you or how it was a major part of your success.  I would have told her eventually how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated her, but I never imagined she’d die before I got the chance.  It broke my heart.  It broke a lot of people’s hearts.  She was the best of the best of the teachers at my high school.  It’s still funny to me how one of the most feared teachers at my school (and most hated by students who didn’t care to learn or even try) ended up being my favorite.  After my first week in her class, the fear subsided and I was so glad I hadn’t taken the easy way out of her class.  I miss her.  I miss her so much.

Childhood Memories–A Thing of the Past

So, as hush-hush as I tend to be about it, I have finally realized it doesn’t matter anymore.  What am I so hush-hush about?  My age. I’m honest about it, though vague. I never tell my age, only a general “age area.”  Well, in less than a month I have a very significant birthday.  As much as I hate to admit it, it is the one birthday young adults seem to dread the most.  The big 3-0.  While that isn’t very old by today’s standards, I’m ancient by tumblr’s standards.  I do know some other tumblr-ers who are older than I am, but I think I am definitely in the top 25% when it comes to age! Now that I’m turning 30, I realize there are a lot of things from my childhood that just aren’t around anymore.  Being born in the mid-80s, I was born at the end of an era…and the beginning of another one.  It’s actually been a really great experience watching technology develop as it has.

  1. The cartoons have changed.  When I was a kid, you had Looney Tunes, Fraggle Rock, Animaniacs, Inspector Gadget, the ORIGINAL Nicktoons (Doug, Rugrats, and Ren and Stimpy, followed soon after by Hey Arnold, Ahh! Real Monsters, and Rocko’s Modern Life), and more.  Cartoons were awesome then. They were actually hand-drawn and animated, and while I am a fan of computer animation, you can’t beat old-school animation.  Cartoons always slipped in classical music and classic film references.  You didn’t even realize you were getting an education.
  2. Phones are different. Believe it or not, I actually remember life BEFORE cell phones.  I remember the days when if you needed to get in touch with someone, you hoped they were at home. If they weren’t, you had to wait until they did get home…and hope they called you back.  I even remember the days before cordless phones.  They may have been invented in my early childhood, but they weren’t the standard issue phones.  Until I was 6 or 7, we had one solitary phone in our house.  It sat in a phone alcove in the hallway.  It didn’t have buttons, it was a rotary phone.  Yep, if you wanted to talk on the phone, you had to stand at the phone alcove in the hall for the entire conversation. How archaic!
  3. Life before computers–I remember that too!  My household didn’t have a computer until I was 12 years old.  Hardly any homes had personal computers back then.  Strangely enough, my grandpa was the first of my relatives to own a computer.  He bought it for his business he ran from his home.  Whenever the grandkids would visit, we’d spend more time playing solitaire or minecraft on that computer than we spent visiting.  I thought that computer was the most amazing thing ever.  When we finally got one (a lovely off-white Gateway) I loved it.  We didn’t even have internet at the time!  It wasn’t until I was almost 14 that we finally got internet–dial-up AOL.  I was always closely monitored with my time online, because it tied up the phone line.  My parents refused to get a second, internet-dedicated line, no matter how much I begged.  Whenever anyone called and got a busy signal, they knew I was online talking on Instant Messenger.  My how times have changed.
  4. I grew up in a time when most kids were taught to drive both an automatic and standard transmission.  It was considered important to know how to drive a stick shift because you never knew what kind of car you might end up with or have to drive.  My first car was almost as old as I was…a 1987 black Honda Prelude with a standard transmission.  I loved that car until I was totaled by an idiot trying to race me across an intersection.  Now it’s rare to even find a new car with a standard transmission.
  5. Now people spend time together by sitting around looking at their phones or computers, always on the internet checking twitter, facebook, etc.  Even at the dinner table.  I’m not saying I don’t, it’s just how things are.  I do remember a time, however, when spending time together involved actual conversation.  Sitting around the living room talking.  When there wasn’t anything on TV, people would sit in the living room and talk.  And, at least here in the South, people would go outside and sit on their front porch and visit.  Sometimes people passing by on the street would come up and visit too–if you knew each other.  Parents would sit on the porch and watch their kids play, because back then kids actually played outside.  They didn’t have to be forced to go outside and had to be begged to come back in.  For me, I’d go out before lunch, come back for lunch reluctantly, then return outside and stay until the streetlights came on.  If I wasn’t back right then I’d hear my name being called! It was the very end of that era…that’s how my parents grew up too. I like that I have that in common with them.

So, in conclusion, I’ve been able to experience the best of both worlds being born when I was.  The easy-going, less stressful time of my parents, when things were simple.  Everything wasn’t electronic.  People stayed home most nights and ate a home cooked meal.  Going out to eat was a rare treat.

You didn’t watch as many movies because they were on VHS.  You remember renting videos from an actual video rental store.  The cassettes had “be kind, rewind” stickers on them.  People played board games like Monopoly and Life.  Not Candy Crush, Flappy Bird, and Angry Birds.

I’ve also been able to witness the technology “revolution.”  I’ve seen computers become as common as TVs, almost everyone has one.  I’ve watched as internet connections have become faster and more efficient.  I have seen land-line phones begin to disappear, as most people use their cell phone as their sole means of communication.  It’s all happened in my lifetime, and I know a lot more is bound to change before it’s over.  It’s been an interesting few decades so far.

Travelogue–Tennessee/North Carolina Style

Keep an eye on florencefallon.com for updates and photos from my adventures in Tennessee and North Carolina.  Probably will consist of photos mostly–unless some really exciting/funny stuff happens.

Tonight we’re in Nashville. Made a stop at Loveless Cafe before heading to the Ryman.  The Loveless Cafe was amazing. It was completely full with an hour wait at 3:30 in the afternoon! I hate to think of how busy they are at dinner time!  The food was so good. If you like southern food, you must stop there next time you’re in Nashville.  The fried chicken is out of this world, as are the biscuits and fried green tomatoes.  I didn’t try one thing that wasn’t good.

nash1It was a fast and furious afternoon/evening, and it isn’t over yet! Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for picture-taking here in Nashville, but I’ll have time for that at the other destinations!  I was able to snap this lovely picture of the sunset before it got dark.  More tomorrow.

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Things I Don’t Have Time For…

For those who don’t know me, I’m the Princess of Procrastination and I value any method or means for getting around having to put forth a lot of effort to do things.  What this basically means is…I’m lazy.

I’m not lazy when it comes to my work.  I love what I do and while it DOES seem like work (as opposed to the old saying “do what you love and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life), it’s work I enjoy doing. When it comes to everything else, however, there are a lot of things that fall into the category of “things I have no time for.”

1. Matching Socks
I don’t mean I have no time to wear matching socks.  I do wear socks that match…most of the time…but I rarely put forth the effort to put my socks into pairs after doing laundry.  More often than not, my socks end up in a messy heap in my sock drawer.  The matching is done at the time of dressing.  I’d rather spend 2 minutes digging through a mountain of mismatched socks than take the time to put them together sock by sock.

2. Answering My Phone
Don’t take this one the wrong way.  99% of the time, if you try to call me, I will answer it.  I am referring to that 1% of time where one will text me, and if I don’t respond to the text within 2 minutes they call me. If I had the time to answer the text, I would have done so immediately. If I didn’t have time to answer a text, what makes you think I’ll have time to talk on the phone?  Give me a little breathing room, buddy. 🙂

3. Physical Therapy
This one likely only applies to myself and a very small group of others, but if you’ve ever suffered an injury or had major surgery, you know what I mean. Doctors and Physical Therapists must think people have all the time in the world! Usually a person is prescribed physical therapy 6-8 weeks postoperatively–about the same time a person goes back to work. Do you think a person who works full time and has just returned to work after two months has time to leave for a couple of hours three days a week?  Probably not.

4.  Stupid Questions
I know there’s a saying “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Well, I beg to differ.  If a person is asking a question because they genuinely don’t know something, that’s perfectly fine. What I don’t have time for is answering questions I’ve already given the answer to. The asker would KNOW the answer had they been paying attention when I said it the first time. If I take the time to explain something to a person, I’m ok with clarifying things…but don’t ask me to re-explain something because you were too busy looking at your phone and nodding your head as if you heard everything I said.

5. Fake People
This is the final item on the list for today–something that was inspired by events that took place a short time ago.  Everyone encounters them–people so transparent you can see straight through them. People who play the game of being “friends” when, in all honesty, they could care less what really happens to you.  Don’t waste my time telling me we’re friends when you don’t actually care. If you don’t want to be my friend, that’s 100% your right and I won’t question your reasons. I’d much rather encounter people I KNOW aren’t my friends than those people who make nice and say they’re your friend, but when you hit a rough patch they’re nowhere to be found…or who are so sweet to your face, but you find out later they talk about you behind your back.  It may be a cliche, but…

I issue a word of caution to you. It may make me sound pessimistic, but I know this from personal experience.  You may think you have the best friends in the world and that they would be there for you no matter what.  That may be the case, and if so, you’re a lucky person…but in most circumstances, it isn’t the case.

You’ve heard the phrase “Hard times reveal who your true friends are.” I had heard it a thousand times and thought my friends are real. They’d be there for me no matter what. Unfortunately I did hit hard times and was issued a painful slap in the face of reality.

When I injured my spine nine months ago, my “friends” ended up falling into three categories:  real friends, apathetic acquaintances, and non-friends.

My real friends learned of my plight and called me or texted me immediately. They checked on me, were interested in what happened and the course of treatment, they continued to check on me throughout the first surgery, recovery, second surgery, recovery, third surgery, and are still very much a part of life during this third period of recovery.  They’ve sent cards, texts, flowers. Some haven’t done much at all other than let me know they’re still there. That they care. That they are available anytime I need them.  Those are the people for whom I am the most thankful.  If not for them and my family, I am not sure how, or even if I would have made it through this.

The apathetic friends were tricky.  When they learned I’d been hurt, they would text once in a long while. Kept up with me to some extent through the first surgery and recovery experience. Then the second surgery rolled around and slowly these friends started to disappear. I’d go a long time without hearing from them so I’d text or try to call them and be met with no response.  Some responded at first to my attempts at contact but they too eventually went off the radar. And no, I didn’t send them messages asking them why they hadn’t checked on me. I would simply text them asking how they were doing. I missed them.  Some asked me if I wanted to go out and do things at the very first–things I was physically unable to do.  I would respond with a decline, thanking them for trying to include me. Then I would offer to do something I was able to do–go out to eat, etc, but no. They didn’t want to.  Some just vanished because they had lost their “hanging out” buddy.  It hurt.  I didn’t know what I could do to fix it. To mend our friendship I cherished…

The non-friends learned I’d been injured and immediately decided I was a lost cause to them.  These are the ones that not once checked on me, and any attempts on my part to get in touch with them fell on deaf ears.  If I saw them in public, it was as if I didn’t exist.  These people are the type who make friends according to what you can do for them.  If you can’t do anything for them–even for only a short time–you are of no further use to them and you are cut off completely.

The fourth category–which I didn’t list originally–is the cruel non-friend. I didn’t list it initially because only one person–thank God–fell into this category.  This person checked on me a few times and I thought we were cool.  She found out about my second surgery and texted me while I was in the operating room. Since I was under anesthesia and subsequently on a dilaudid pain pump and completely oblivious to the world around me, my phone was off for 3 days.  On the third day I turned it back on, saw her message, and responded, apologizing for taking 3 days and explaining why it took so long. Thinking she’d understand–especially since she knew I was having to undergo a second emergency surgery–I sent the message (she didn’t answer the phone) and didn’t think about it again. A while later, I received a very long text in response. I was basically told I was worthless as a friend, I was rude and inconsiderate for not answering sooner, that she didn’t want to hear my stupid complaining (sorry I mentioned I had to have surgery again, and sorry I was unable to text while completely asleep) and that she was no longer interested in maintaining a “friendship” with me.

I had people in all of these group I loved very much and whose friendship I valued greatly. People I thought would be friends for life. People I never in a million years would think could be so cruel. Going through something like this injury has been the most painful–physically as well as emotionally–as I’ve ever experienced. This hard time truly has been a major eye-opener.

I can’t begin to describe how much I missed the people who vanished. Even the person who was so cruel and refused to understand the facts. I cried a lot. I worried and worried about why I had lost them and what to do to get my “friends” back. I felt responsible for ruining my friendships with these people I cared for.

Then it hit me.

I hadn’t done a thing wrong! Yes, I had lost some “friends,” but in the grand scheme of things, they weren’t friends at all! If you do all you are physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of doing to maintain a friendship and it makes no difference to a person, you never had a friendship in the first place. I realized that I was starting to spend so much time worrying about losing a few friendships that I was in danger of neglecting the friendships I still had! I was devoting more of my time and energy to these people who couldn’t have cared less about me than I was to the ones who did care! My priorities got mixed up, and I set about correcting it.

It took a little bit, but I was able to accept what had happened with those so-called friends. I began to take inventory of what these people did, didn’t do, and who they were. When I really considered it, I learned these people were not the kind of people I needed to associate myself with. When we were together, we never did anything good. It was always something I questioned whether or not I should do. Things morally I would never have done before meeting them. When I really examined the friendships I had, those who had vanished really fell short of what a friend really should be. I compared how they treated me to how they treated others I knew to be their friends. I discovered I was, in their minds, a pity-friend or a tolerable friend. When you get right down to it, they had no need for me in their life and I learned I had no need for them in mine.

I learned to cherish the people who really were my friends even more. I learned a lot about myself and what I should and shouldn’t tolerate when it comes to how I’m treated. I’ve always had such low self esteem that I took any abuse a person could heap on me just to call them a friend. I finally understood that I have value, too. No one deserves to be treated badly. Everyone is worth something to someone. Even me.

Since learning these things and coming to terms with them, my life has been enriched immeasurably! I finally have enough respect for myself to be a better friend to those I care about. I also have enough self respect to stand up for myself. No one has the right to put me down and I have no right to put anyone else down. My friendships mean more and my life is better. I’m happier. I’m stronger. Even though I’m still going through hell physically, emotionally I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, and it feels good.

Love and cherish the people who love and cherish you. Never, ever let anyone treat you like a second-class citizen. You deserve happiness as much as anyone else. Hold on to the people who want to be in your life. If there are people who don’t meet these requirements for life, ask yourself…are they worth it? Try to mend the relationship–if it can be mended. If you find out the relationship is toxic, however, you’re not doing anyone a favor by maintaining it. If someone is bringing you down, making you feel like you aren’t worthwhile, CUT ‘EM LOOSE. Everyone deserves happiness and healthy relationships.

Everyone.

I’m Single…Not Sick!

So I read a blog someone shared on Facebook today about being single that made me shout hallelujah!  The title was Being Single Isn’t a Disease, and I follow that title with an enthusiastic AMEN.

I live in the South.  Down here, people marry young.  Especially for women, if you aren’t married by the time you’re 24, people start to treat you like you’re afflicted with some unfortunate illness.  Showering you with pity about your lack of significant other, while maintaining a safe distance just in case that man repellent you’re wearing rubs off on them.

Whenever you are around a friend or relative you don’t see everyday, you can’t have a conversation without it beginning with “you married yet?”  Followed almost always with a “Oh, don’t you worry honey, you’ll find a man someday,” after which they pat you on the shoulder and scurry off to find someone else to talk to (because single people are incapable of discussing anything other than relationship status).

Then there’s the obligatory matchmaking attempts, because people–especially people you aren’t necessarily close to–feel it’s their duty to inform you about every single male they know or have ever heard of. “Oh, you’re single?  My friend’s brother’s cousin is single too!  He’s cross-eyed and has a missing tooth from the time he got kicked in the face by a mule, but he’s sweet. You two should meet!”  Thanks, but no thanks, noble matron.  I’ll take my chances with non-set-up dating.

I want to take this opportunity to shed some light on what I think about being single–because usually, the only people who view singleness as an ailment are married folks.  No, I’m not married and–contrary to popular belief–no, I’m not depressed about it!  Do I feel a little neglected when my married friends decide not to invite me to a get-together because they thought I might feel uncomfortable being the only single person? Yes, sometimes, because believe it or not I am capable of enjoying myself without being one-half of a couple.  Just because I’m not married doesn’t mean I sit at home every night living a hopeless, dateless existence.  I date, and, brace yourselves, even go out on occasion without a partner!

Do I want to marry someday?  Sure!  If I find the right person to spend the rest of my life with.  Am I going to be sad about it if I don’t?  Not really!  Earlier in life I would spend some time depressed, worried about whether or not I would ever marry…then I realized.  The only person I have to please is me!  The only pressure I feel comes from other people’s expectations.  Just because other people think I should marry, and there’s no possible way I can lead a fulfilled life unless I do, doesn’t mean it’s TRUE.  

So, married people.  Congrats on finding your one true love.  It is not, however, your concern to worry about my marriage status.  It is also not your responsibility to hook me up with someone.  I will marry when and if the time and the man are right.  Until that happens (and even if it doesn’t), don’t worry about me.  I’m an independent adult.  I’ll be fine–with or without a new last name.

Selfies–Vanity At Its Finest

Want to know how you look?  Try a mirror.  It’s the fastest, most up-to-date way to find out what you look like! If we’re Facebook friends, the odds are I already know what you look like and don’t really need a daily reminder.

I was scanning my Facebook newsfeed the other night, thanks to my ever-present insomnia, and was bombarded with the attack of the selfies.  Granted, everyone posts a selfie once in a while, but some people just take it to the extreme!  I have one Facebook friend in particular who is incredibly proud of how she looks.  We are just acquaintances, not friends, we met through a mutual friend at a party and she pops up from time to time when I’m with friends.  As I scrolled down my newsfeed, I saw selfie after selfie after selfie of this woman.  I started to think and realized not a single day goes by I don’t see at least one picture of this girl on my feed.  Curious, I clicked on her profile.  She had ten selfies for every one non-photo post.  She is constantly clogging up my feed with pictures of her face!  She isn’t an ugly person, don’t get me wrong, but she isn’t exactly model material.  She obviously thinks she is the most beautiful thing to ever grace planet Earth–she definitely doesn’t have a self-confidence problem!  It just bothers me because she is rather arrogant and treats everyone as inferior to herself.  She has enormous swollen-looking lips because she’s addicted to botox injections.  She wears about two inches of makeup, always has bright red lipstick and raccoon eyes thanks to the gobs of eyeliner she wears daily.  I just don’t want to look at that day after day!  So, I hid her from my feed. Ha.

Another bothersome thing about selfies is that ridiculous pouty-lip face all the kids (and some non-kids) are doing.  I guess they think it’s pretty to look like a friggin duck.  99% of selfies are duck-faced young people with a hand on the hip, butt sticking out.  News flash: you don’t look sexy, you look like an idiot.  If you want to post a picture of yourself, look LIKE YOURSELF!  You don’t walk around platypus-faced!  When you smile or laugh at something, you don’t do it with your lips stuck out!

Then there’s the classic photo taken in the bathroom mirror.  Again, the girls do the hand-on-hip, butt-stuck-out, duck-faced moron pose, and the guys like to do the shirtless photo, muscles (or lack thereof) flexed.  If you’re so desperate to show off your gorgeous self, try asking someone else to take the photo for you? Seeing a picture of a person standing in the same place people take a crap doesn’t exactly scream sexy.