Friday Nostalgia

Mamoo and my father, late 60's-ish, I think. If it had been the 70's my father would have been wearing one of his pastel leisure suits. Mom's hair was just like the women on Gospel Singing Jubilees (I called them the turkey ladies), the only thing on TV when I woke up eeeeeearly Sunday mornings, after which the only television offering was the Baptist cartoon, Jot:


Good Advice for Life

Sadly, sadly, I report that Lola's class's guinea pig, Willard, passed away on Tuesday. Willard had spent a couple of weekends at our house, and I can honestly say I'd never loved a rodent more. She was sweet and funny, and I could watch her eat timothy grass for hours. Lo, of course, was heartbroken. She and her friend B (who used to be mean to her but now isn't) got teased for crying.

The neighboring class made and sent condolence cards. Here is the one Lo got to bring home:


Like Snowflakes

Every Wednesday night I bond with Lola over some reality TV. She says watching Kid Nation is homework, but I suspect it's merely an excuse to stay up until 9. Whatever. I like the show as much as she does. Each week one participant is awarded a for-real gold star for showing superlative character and leadership. The star is worth $20,000.00.

Tonight's winner was 12-year-old Hunter, known for his stellar work ethic, which he credits to his father. He's always scrubbing dishes or hauling water while talking about his father, who lost his job a year ago but still managed to build a homeless shelter out of toothpicks and Trident, and knits afghans for orphans.

Hunter began his acceptance speech thusly: "Thank you so much. I'm going to give most of this to my father, who works very hard and taught me to do the same..." whereupon Lola looked at me and said, "Here's my speech: 'Thanks. I'm gonna spend all of this on toys.'"



Yesterday afternoon I took a Step class at the Y, something I used to do regularly but haven't done in a few years. Step is a good workout--and lots of fun once you catch on. It's the perfect white girl's exercise, requiring minimal rhythm and groove. You have to endure looking like a goober for the first couple of times, but if I can get it, anyone can. Trust me. I'm about as coordinated as a beetle on its back.

I enjoyed the class, even though I'd forgotten many of the moves that used to come like breathing. And it was unfortunate that K was there, the smokin' mother of one of Lo's classmates. Not only did she know the drill, she fancied it up, doing extra bumps and sashays, wearing her bright green Nike sports bra and black dance shorts. She's probably 5'11" with one of those ultra-hip layered bobs--blond of course. I'm guessing ex-cheerleader.

I was right beside her in front of the mirrored wall, dwarfish, in the grey sweat pants I'd slept in the night before. I'd thrown on my "It's not me, it's you" tank top, which lost its punch in that light. I'd also forgotten to put my hair up, and as the class went on and the room got hotter and stickier, the hair got bigger and bigger, encroaching on K's space.

Still, like I said, I had fun. After all these months of jogging, I'd forgotten how group exercise can energize you. So when I got home, I looked up the Y schedules online, to see if they still offered kickboxing, something else I'd managed to get the hang of back when. But no kickboxing to be found. Instead, I saw something I'd never heard of before, called Zuma. Curious, I searched it on Youtube. I'll just stick to Step.


New Nightgown

So yesterday, Georgia and I went to Marshall's to look around, and while we were in Lingerie looking for her some sports bras, I found a selection of an all-time favorite of mine, big-ass flannel nightgowns. It took a while to choose between the classic blue with white floral print, a pink one with little apron-clad ladies on it that read "Do I look like your maid?" and the one I finally landed on, pictured above.

I hung the gown over my arm and went around the rack to find George:

George: What are you doing with that?

TR: I'm going to get it. Doesn't it look warm and comfy?

George: Put it back.

TR: No.

George: You need to put it back. Trust me. Why don't you get the Hello Kitty pajamas instead--if you just have to get flannel.

TR: I thought about it, but I really love this.

George: Mom...Never mind.

TR: What?

George: Never mind.

TR: You might as well tell me what you were about to say. I'm not gonna let it go.

George: You won't be doing yourself any favors if you wear that to bed with Greg.

TR: I don't have to wear it every night.

George: The image will stick.

She continued her argument all the way to check-out, wherupon the cashier caught bits and pieces as she rung up the gown and proceeded to fold it.

TR (to cashier): My daughter thinks this gown is going to ruin my love life.

Cashier: I've got noooo comment.

TR: Y'all are wrong.

So last night, while Biggy was putting Oceans 13 in the dvd player, I went and put my new purchase on and came back out.

Biggy: What is THAT?!

TR: You don't like it?

Biggy: Take it off.

TR: Oh, come on.

Biggy: I mean it, Tania. Take it off. Don't start dressing like a sixty-year-old woman.

TR: I wore these when I was a kid.

Biggy: Don't dress like a six-year-old either.

TR: I'm wearing it. It's warm. If you hate it so much, maybe you'll get the heater fixed.

Biggy: That thing is going to disappear tomorrow.

TR: Well, I'm wearing it tonight.

This morning, Biggy thought he might rub my back or something. He wanted to touch skin but couldn't find a way.

Biggy: I can't even get into this thing.

TR: It's a flannel vault.

And a little later, I was sitting on the top of the stairs, petting Stella and Fay, when Biggy walked by:

TR: I wish this gown had Chihuahuas on it instead of Scotties.

Biggy: It's not going to matter.


Can't Believe My Ears

I just heard "conversate" in the new Coke commercial.

Saturday Things You Might Not Know

There's a Cajun meat market near us, and they're always advertising "Turducken" on their sign. I was convinced there was really such an animal, the bird version of a labradoodle.

Um, no.


Friday Nostalgia

From National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, 1989


News From The Back Seat

(painting by Yoshitomo Nara)

Lola: I'm not going to take care of you when you're old.

TR: Really! What brought that up, anyway?

Lo: I see Mamoo taking care of Granny, and it's not any fun. Georgia can take care of you. You're just alike.

TR: For your information, I plan to live in a nice hip retirement village where I can play cards with my friends and do water aerobics.

Lo: Don't expect me to visit.


Another Story

(Kelly teaching Sadie to blow a bubble, Cobb Hospital)

Because I recently found a box labelled "Mamoo's Attic" that my mom left in our garage when she moved out, I've been doing a lot of reminiscing. The box is full of old picture albums, as well as Mamoo's porcelain duck collection, which is hideous, and some framed family photos wherein my father's hair is the hero. Mom's "attic" is where I found the pics I recently posted of Mom and us girls at Disney World and my sister Kelly cheerleading. It also contains some pictures of Kelly in the hospital.

As I mentioned in my last post, my students' stories often resonate with my own. They take me back to places I've forgotten or set aside. A couple of weeks ago a young designer was talking about the loss of his grandmother--about the last several months of her life. They adored her, so when she was ill they sat with her constantly, simply being with her. It was sad in those final days, he told us, because she was unconscious and didn't even know they were there.

I wanted to tell him this story, but it was his time--his story, and I didn't want to make it about me.

I want to tell him now:

During the last three weeks of my sister's life, she was moved from Cobb Hospital (after having been there for several months while I was pregnant with Georgia) to Emory, with the hopes that they could get her back into remission from her Leukemia and perform a bone marrow transplant for which I was to be the donor. That would never happen, as she declined rapidly. There are stories within the story here, each remarkable to the point of being almost unbelievable, but I want to focus on a particular moment. It's an important one that will forever change the way I act around the critically ill.

Emory was only a couple of miles from the apartment we lived in, so at least every other day, I'd put George in the Snugli and walk to the hospital to sit with my sister while Mom held the baby outside. I was still wearing my maternity clothes at that point, my favorite being a blue-green cotton tee shirt type dress that Kelly had given me at my baby shower. (She'd said that the baby would be getting enough presents, so she wanted to buy me something for myself.)

I was also still wearing the last pair of shoes I'd bought during my pregnancy--the only shoes that fit me--which were black China flats, those little cotton Mary Janes you get for five bucks at stores with names like Soul Flower and Go With the Flow. It didn't matter if I had on my husband's sweat pants or my best frock, those were the shoes I wore.

Anyway, she was never conscious when I visited. I'd sit quietly beside her bed and watch the nurses' constant shuffle around her--checking vitals, changing IV bags, giving her shots. I hated that she didn't know I was there, that she wouldn't hear the things I wanted to say. So I never said them. I hoped she'd wake up, see me, know I cared about her.

This went on for days and days. I'd come sit in that chair, and she'd lie there sleeping, and it had to be enough that she slept and breathed. In between the hours in that room, I diapered Georgia, chased Sadie, bought groceries, did the laundry, argued with the asshole I was married to, and longed for my twenty-four-year-old sister to get well and get to do those things too.

I missed telling her that her pants were too tight, that her boyfriend was a loser; missed her bragging that Sadie was going to love her more than me, how they'd have secrets I'd never know. I'd sit in the bedside chair again, silent and wishing, as she didn't get better and didn't get better--listening to the beep of the heart monitor, the hum of the lights, and the small squeak of nurses hurrying in and out.

Then one day, a day like any other day, she opened her eyes, looked straight at me in that faded blue-green dress and the black flats, and said quite lucidly and with her old resigned disgust, "Don't you have any other shoes?!" and fell right back to sleep.

It was the last thing I remember her saying to me.

She'd known I was there all along.


I Thought I Was Fat

(My friend "Christine" and I when we were about 16, Panama City Beach)

I've been teaching at Portfolio Center for close to ten years, during which time I have been learning how to help students get the best from themselves. PC students aren't allowed to be content with making pretty pictures or writing clever cell phone ads; they're forced to examine their lives and their histories, to understand their own identity and power, and to face and conquer their fears in order create work that moves and matters. It's a remarkable, life-changing process that I'm privileged to witness again and again.

Even though I know that at the end of their two years in that little concrete box on Bennett Street, they will be stronger and more fully themselves, it's not easy, sometimes, witnessing their metamorphoses. I hear stories that are hard to hear. I'm privy to a lot of pain. I love my students, these young, beautiful, passionate, sensitive people, so my heart breaks for them every day. I don't know if it makes it harder or easier on me that most of their stories are also my own, but I hope it makes things easier for them--that when they see me, they see someone who's been through it already and come out the other side.

These days I'm happy. I love my home and family. I look forward to going to work. I have Fay. I'm not angry, depressed, or shut off. I have pretty good self esteem. I'm not defined by other people. I'm not controlled by alcohol, my own obsessive thoughts, or food. The food thing is a big one.

At any given time at Portfolio Center, we have four or five girls I know for a fact have eating disorders. There's no telling how many there are that I don't know about. These are beautiful, talented, powerful young women who don't realize their power, because for some reason they can't love themselves. I know the hell of that. If someone told me I had to go through everything again, but I could choose one thing to be spared, I'd take the sexual abuse, the alcoholic father, the depression and addiction, the domestic violence, and betrayal, and I'd beg for a pass on the eating disorders.

Nothing is as insidious or difficult to overcome. Nothing rules your life down to the minute the way anorexia, binge eating, and bulimia do. When you have an eating disorder, every day is a lie. I know that drug and alcohol addiction are the same in that regard, but those things you can quit cold turkey. Food is a daily negotiation.

Growing up, my fear of fat was greater than my (OCD) need to count telephone poles while in the car or to pull my hair out or to sleep with the covers pulled tight under my ears every night to keep the vampires from biting me (a fear that lasted until I was a sophomore in college). It was greater than my shame and more brutal than being beaten up. I chose to stay depressed rather than take medication--because of my fear of fat. And yet, in my mind, I was always fat.

I was anorexic at the age of ten. I exercised in front of the TV and counted my peas. I had little rituals to keep myself thin--like only eating popsicles and breaking up a cookie into a hundred pieces to make it last. My best friend in fifth grade was Pam Crawford, who was about three inches shorter than I was and lithe as a gymnast. My goal was to weigh the same as Pam, and I did. My mother had to make my clothes because storebought wouldn't fit.

For years I'd swing back and forth between starving and binge eating, and around 15 I became bulimic. By my junior year in high school I was making and eating big stacks of pancakes at midnight and throwing them up. It was a mild case, though, compared to what would happen later in college, when I was 18-19. I became the stereotype, the girl who ate a dozen donuts in the car while she sat in the drive-thru line at Burger King. The girl who told the checkout clerk at the grocery store she was having a party when she really planned to eat all the Doritos, Nutter Butters, and candy corn herself.

I couldn't stop. I resolved and prayed; I made deals with god; I threatened myself, made promises to myself, and pleaded with myself. Nothing worked.

I ended up in the hospital with kidney trouble, the result of running 60 miles a week, puking my guts out, staying dehydrated. I was out of commission for a month, during which time I couldn't exercise and was afraid to eat. After that month, I went right back to it.

I'll never forget the day I quit binging and purging. I was still in school in Athens and had just moved from the main house I lived in with two guy friends into one of the tiny basement apartments in that house. It was the first time I'd ever lived by myself. I had so much fun decorating it, a cross between gypsy and granola. I planned to celebrate night one by baking a big batch of brownies in my new kitchen and eating them in bed. They were cooling on the top of the stove when I suddenly decided I wasn't going to eat them after all--that I was done. I wasn't going to continue damaging my stomach, esophagus, and kidneys; eroding the enamel off my teeth; aging my skin; bursting vessels in my eyes; living this lie; dying this slow death.

I threw the brownies in the trash and gave up sweets, my trigger, for good. Just like that. It was as though someone (God, my better self?) had flipped a switch. I still don't understand how it happened. I wish I did, because I'd make it happen for these girls I know.

I was liberated from that particular cycle of binge/purge that sucked my energy (and money!). That wasn't the end of my food and body image issues altogether. I've struggled since. I continue to be pretty regimented about what I eat, but I feel like an idiot, not a prisoner. I can laugh at myself.

I was 35, turning into the parking lot at work, the moment it occurred to me that I'd spent my whole life worrying about what I looked like to the world (imagining how I looked through the eyes of others) rather than looking out at the world though my eyes. I decided then to change that. I would start looking at the world, DOING more, becoming more. I would find better uses for my time and energy than making sure my earrings matched my sweater. I was going to stop letting my day be ruined by 116 instead of 115 on the scales.

That was almost ten years ago. I've been improving slowly ever since.


Knocked Up

Oh please! That's just the title of the movie we rented this weekend.

Funny stuff. I love movies with good guy dialogue--like Diner, Clerks, and Reservoir Dogs, and this one has it.

This is a pretty heavy scene in relation to the rest of the film, but it's a great depiction of the differences between men and women in the ways they think--and how both sexes stoop to fighting unfairly. From my vantage, I can see his points, yet I'm right there with her (and her hormones) the whole time...


Living the Dream

When my kids were babies, I dreamed of the day at least one of them would be my jogging partner. Sometimes I'd see a parent and child running the Peachtree Roadrace together and wipe a little tear from my eye. I was 14 when I started jogging regularly, about the same age Georgia was when she finally joined me.

So far she's been the only one. Trying to get Jack to jog--or even walk--with me is like trying to coax Larry Flynt out of his wheelchair with an issue of the Watchtower. And Lo won't do anything physical unless it requires wearing a full-face helmet or pulling a trigger. But I was happy with Georgia. Until our jog on Friday. Evidently, those crack-of-dawn drills she did for crew improved her swiftness and endurance, but they sure didn't make her any nicer:

George: Oh my god. We might as well be walking.

TR: My knees feel like somebody screwed them on too tight.

George: Stop being a baby.

TR: This is the same pace we always go.

George: It is NOT the same pace. C'mon! I'm going to have to run again later today if you don't pick up the speed.

TR: You burn the same amount of calories whether you run or walk the distance.

George: Right, and the tooth fairy sometimes leaves the money in Mommy's purse.

TR: I don't know how you can go so fast, anyway, carrying all those grudges. Sprint ahead if you want.

George: I can't run by myself; I didn't bring my iPod.


Saturday Things You Might Not Know

Incredibly sexy. Incredibly smart.

In 1942, at the height of her Hollywood career, Hedi Lamarr, also the first woman to appear nude onscreen, invented and patented a frequency-switching system for torpedo guidance that was two decades ahead of its time.


Via Email This Morning

Biggy: They fired our crazy IT guy at work today, so if he comes back and kills us all, I love you. Be a good mother to Lola, and don't let her date until she's 25.

TR: I love you too. Where's the life insurance policy?

Biggy: In the file cabinet by the computer.


This Morning

Biggy: I've had a headache for the past few days. Do you think it could be a brain tumor?

TR: I've had a headache for a few days, too. I figured it was eye strain.

Biggy: That would be just like you--to get a brain tumor the same time I did. You won't let me have anything all to myself.


Why Do I Live in Georgia?

I was going to blog about Sonny Perdue's little prayer vigil, but this guy has already said everything I was thinking.

Try Selling Lola This Dream!

Here's the copy for this product, copied directly from the site:

The ROSE PETAL Cottage Collection - Where dreams have room to grow!
ROSE PETAL Cottage is a place of her own where she can play, imagine and discover. A lightweight cottage that's made just for her with beautiful appliances and accessories that she can arrange however she likes and also easy to store away. A home that's small enough to be cozy...and big enough for a world of make-believe.

That wonderful place is the ROSE PETAL Cottage, the heart of the DREAM TOWN Collection by PLAYSKOOL. More than just a playhouse, it's an entire world where your little girl can play, discover and explore. It's a place where she and her dreams can grow.

Lightweight yet strong, roomy yet wonderfully cozy, the ROSE PETAL Cottage comes in two halves that nest neatly together after play. Each piece is designed and crafted with premium materials, creating a play environment that looks beautiful in your home. Plus the ROSE PETAL Cottage includes a little blue play stove with knobs that turn and an oven that really opens.

Best of all, the ROSE PETAL Cottage can be furnished with a wide selection of the prettiest household amenities from the DREAM TOWN Collection, including the washing machine, kitchen sink and nursery set. And don't forget the DREAM TOWN signature rose print lounge chair and muffin baking set (each sold separately)! The DREAM TOWN Collection gives your little girl the house of her dreams, right next to the nicest neighbor she knows – you!


Old Photo Album, Small World

Mamoo, me, and Kelly, at Disney World in 1978

Sister Kelly, the cheerleader (Go figure.), in 1979.

Kelly and Melissa, her best friend from high school, whom I had seen maybe once since my sister's memorial, and not again in about 15 years...

...until I ran into her last week at Disney World.


True Story

Mamoo called me today to tell me that she was standing outside on the porch, watching Honey, her Jack Russell Chihuahua mix,
run around with my grandmother's dentures, which had been missing since early morning.


Friday Nostalgia

From the mid-late 60's. One of my favorite shows when I was a kid. Ah, that dreamy Davy Jones...


Mothers & Daughters

Last Thursday night, I took Stella to Mamoo's to stay while we were on our trip. Stella likes it at my mom's, because there are two and a half other chihuahuas and a couple of doxies. Life is good for dogs at Mamoo's, where my grandmother is home to baby them all day.

Anyway, while I was at Mom's, I couldn't help but notice the remote that Granny was using--probably because it was as big as the control panel for the space shuttle Discovery. I commented on it, not realizing it was such a sore point.

TR: Can you change the neighbors' channels with that thing?

Granny: I can't figure out how to change our own.

Mamoo: I keep telling her you have to push "Guide" first. It's not hard.

Granny: I just need time to get used to it.

Mamoo (under her breath): It's been six months!

It reminded me of me and my girls. Mamoo is 63; Granny is 81. Evidently, some things never change.


Disney Continued

Here are a few pics, in no particular order--some taken at the Magic Kingdom, some at MGM, and others at Epcot. We just realized tonight that we didn't get any shots of the campsite or grounds.

After being run over and into a hundred times, we all agreed that Disney should have 'No Stroller' days, as well as 'Scooter Free' days. The way we see it, if you're in a stroller, you're not going to remember Disney anyway, and if you're on a scooter, you should be at the Y doing your water aerobics. (Just kidding, Granny!)

Lo & Dad, Grand Prix

Lo & Church-of-God Mom, Epcot's Germany

Lo & Jack

Lo & Man With Purse, MGM

Waiting for the Muppets 3-D show

Little Teabag with D-bags (Just kidding, Jack and Tyler!)

Ice Cream Sandwiches bigger than your head

Atta Girl!

We survived the Tower of Terror at MGM. (Note Tyler's I'm-not-gay stance)

Norwegian Jack at Epcot

Jack and Friends

Magic Kingdom, late in the evening

Lola's swag



Our Fort Wilderness Disney Adventure, Part One

Hello! I was so looking forward to blogging our Disney trip that I didn't even mention we were going. I imagined I wouldn't skip a beat, and Saturday's post would come live from Orlando. But, alas, just because a place says they have wireless doesn't mean they're gonna make it easy on you. I won't bore you with the details, but the connection wasn't cheap or convenient. So you're getting the Magic Kingdom after the fact. And this little glitch during NoBloPoMo. Figures.

Let me start by saying again that Celexa is a wonderful thing. I was able to camp in a pop-up for three nights with two teens, one child, one husband/giant kid, and two dogs without killing anyone in their sleep ; I rode every scary ride, including MGM's Tower of Terror and Rock-n-Rollercoaster without puking or passing out; and I even shuttled by boat and bus twice a day without cursing at old people.

So give me a couple of days to catch you up on what went down at Disney. But I thought I'd start with day one of the trip. We left Atlanta Friday, around 7 pm, and drove for about 4 hours to the Valdosta LaQuinta, where we spent the night. I should mention here that FJ's are the most uncomfortable vehicles for traveling--EVER. You might as well be sitting on a phone book with your knees under your chin. Seriously. Cool looking, dumb-ass design.

Anyway, the next morning, we were supposed to get up early, eat our free breakfast, and get on the road again. After all, once we reached the Fort Wilderness Resort, we'd have to set up camp before we could hit the parks. Keep in mind, Lo had never been to Disney, and Jack had been once, when he was two. The only memory he had of it was being kissed by Snow White. Much excitement was in order.

So here's the mad scramble on Saturday morning, after the night's dreams of Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain, and Space Mounain:

What --you're wondering--could they possibly watching on TV that would slow their progress toward the Magic Kingdom?
America's Top Model, of course.


For Jennifer

Yes, I did have a visit with Kickme-Jennifer's stylist Rio yesterday. Like Jennifer, and Biggy, I expected a complete transformation (Biggy loves it when I get a different haircut because it's easier for him to pretend I'm someone else)--figured Rio would talk me into a pixie or convince me that I, too, could sport a sweet little inverted bob a' la Jennifer's new do.

But Rio, wise sage, had a bigger plan for me, a long-term hairsperiment that he's sure will render me beautifully voluminous yet frizz free. He promises that I'll no longer look like I grew up in a trailer park in Gadsden. His solution: Grow it out!

He trimmed it, thinned it, did some damage control on my self-chopped bangs (he says the bangs have GOT to go), and gave me a one-hour lesson on proper care of my locks. He actually slapped my hand a few times with his comb when I admitted to shampooing with Pantene and using the same towelling technique that I use on the dogs.

It was kinda nice being bullied for the sake of beauty. For now, I look much the same, but I'll be looking like Holly Hunter in a few months.

Friday Nostalgia

It just pushed the flap right open. From Diner, 1982.

This was the only clip I could find from the movie on Youtube, and it's pretty hardcore. The movie is like a crash course on the minds of men.


Practicing the Mother-Guilt

(My phone rings)

TR: Hey Jack.

Jack: Hey.

TR: Why didn’t you pick up before?

Jack: I was talking to Dennis.

TR: Well, when I call, you should always answer. No one’s more important than your mother.

Jack: Yeah, yeah. Why did you call?

TR: To make sure you got home safely and that you’re ok. And to see if you let Fay out of her cage and took her outside.

Jack: Yes I took her! Even though I was locked out and had to crawl through the window.

TR: Did you give her some love--play with her a little?

Jack: No. She’s playing with Daisy. Is that all you wanted?

TR: You’d better stop being mean to me.

Jack: How am I being MEAN?

TR: You’re being short and ugly—when I was just making sure you were all right.

Jack: You really just wanted to ask about Fay. You always bring the dog into it.

TR: That’s not true…I don’t ask you to do much for me—Is it too much to ask for you to give my puppy a kiss?

Jack: Oh my god…I’m hanging up now. Bye.

About Me

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Writer, teacher, student, mom.

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