Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Hollywood, right?

Let me preface this post with the fact that I don't watch the Oscars. To me, the music and jokes are fun and all, but in recent years, they don't outweigh the fact that I don't even know most of the movies exist--unless they have fun, colorful, animated characters or are about superheroes--and I couldn't care less about what goes on. The ONLY Oscars I ever saw from start to finish, I happened to be at a friend's house, she served dinner, another friend was there, I was vastly pregnant with my son, and the chair was comfy.

I've seen the comments through my Facebook feed scrolling on through, and more and more, I'm confused. Granted, this is a commentary/summary kind of thing, but still. I thought Sean Penn was all Mr. Activist? But he's making GREEN CARD jokes? Huh? Gotta say, Sean, that's pulling a total Spiccoli there. Patricia Arquette. She's still ALIVE? Good for her! I always put her firmly in the "whackadoodle" category for some reason. I'm unconvinced birthing of babies, though, while nifty and all, makes for a better actor. Whatevs. Rock on.

I'm also seeing in my feed many posts supporting AND denigrating people of color for attending the Oscars. I know the issue is the lack of nominees for people of color. I get it. Be an activist, state your truth as loud as you can. In the words of one of my longtime favorite musicians "If you can't stand for something, you're gonna fall for anything." I think that's true. But I find this judging others because they are or aren't doing what one group or another thinks is right tiring. They have their own path to follow, and those on the outside can't see into others and know what is going on. You want to abstain and make it known why? That's a great idea. Others do things differently, and that's on them, not on you.

So, now, that the confusing Oscar nonsense is done, what else will blow up my Facebook feed? Hmm?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Dog, the Thespian

I think my newly-blind dog is milking his disability. That's right, you heard me. My 9 pound miniature chocolate Poodle is totally using his blindness to his advantage, most specifically against his nemesis, my uncle's 84 pound German Shepard.

First, it's a tenuous friendship the two have. Even after months together, they aren't curl up in a ball and snuggle kind of friends. When Cally barks at joggers and bikers through the window, Coco barks in sympathy, but generally, he knows this is Cally's domain, and he doesn't interfere with it. Cally, for her part, is quite jealous that Coco is allowed on furniture, even SLEEPING with the humans. She sniffs him down from head to toe, much to his dismay, looking for some anomaly that allows him onto the furniture.

Admittedly, there is more babying of Coco going on now that he's blind. I had to admonish the kids to stop carrying him around, as he needs to learn the lay of the land. They still snuggle him and give him kisses more now that he's blind.

Both dogs have their own dishes in separate parts of the house, and mostly all is good. Since the blindness, however, even though Coco has the. exact. same. food. in. his. dish. he likes to take his life into his furry little paws and eat from Cally's dish. He only drinks from his own dish, so he knows exactly what he's doing. Oddly enough, Cally can't be bothered at certain times of day to care. She knows, she sees, but she has bigger fish to fry. But if we are eating at the table or moving around, she will suddenly get all possessive of her food, and she'll nip at Coco. When she does, Coco keens pitifully, and will roll over and pant, as if in pain. If no one is watching (he thinks), he'll get up and add a limp until he finds someone, then flops onto the floor. Of course, choruses of "bad dog" and "no, Cally, he's your friend" ensue, and Cally is sent to her cage, Coco is picked up and cuddled.

I'm just hoping Coco doesn't turn on us one day.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Clearly, I Jumped the Gun

Background information for this post is that my uncle, like me, is a lover of gadgets. He, Brett, and I could spend HOURS oogling, trying, chuckling over, and generally geeking out at objects meant to do what humans used to. It is, apparently, a genetic sickness deep in our DNA. Scott and Megan neither understand or are amused by our ways.

In the mudroom area, where entry to the house and laundry both take place, it can get a bit stinky. Instead of using a plain old can of air freshener, Uncle Bob got one of those automatic sprayer thingys. I'm not sure if it senses motion or smell, but every now and again, it emits a shot of scent. Where the gadget love goes awry is that the initial gadget cost is usually minimal, but the REFILLS! Oh, they get you on the refill cost! Luckily, bargain shopper that I am, I found some close out refills, but we were stuck with "vanilla cupcake" as the scent for the area.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I've already forgotten about the scent thingy. I'm calmly putting laundry into the washing machine. I'm almost done when I hear a hissing sound. HISSING! Is it a snake (we ARE in Louisiana now)?! Where IS the snake?! How did a snake get IN THE HOUSE?! Could it be behind the dryer? Because snakes love nice warm spots to curl up in during the day. Wait, I smell cupcakes??? Why do I smell cupcakes? What the. . . oh. cupcakes. Never mind.

Apparently, I'm a bit amped up over the new bug and reptile communities I've been encountering since in Louisiana.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

I'm a Local

In my short time living in the south, I've learned a very important lesson. It doesn't matter what your driver's license says, nor does it matter where you get your mail delivered. It is ONLY when you start running into people you know at the Winn-Dixie that you really and truly are a local. I've learned it's not church or bars or even people's homes where great conversations are had, it's at the Winn-Dixie.

Going to the Winn-Dixie on a Sunday afternoon is at times, ludicrous, hilarious, disconcerting, and quite fun. The Sunday afternoon crowd has been to church, eaten their lunch--in this town either at the Forest, a nice restaurant, or City Buffet, a Chinese food buffet that's quite good--and they are ready to pick up their staples and engage in conversation with anyone they didn't run into at the aforementioned restaurants. Forget a "quick stop" on Sundays, even with all five lines (you read that right FIVE LINES) working hard, "quick" cannot be done. Walking by, I've heard conversations focusing on the sermon at church, who's died, who's still holding on, who's been arrested, who's pregnant, who's married, who should NEVER have gotten married, who's still holding on in a different way, whose children don't care about their mothers, whose children are or aren't doing well in school, and all other topics under the sun. I really should take notes for that book I'm writing some day.

I've also learned that even though only about 1/3 of my total students, which only comes to 12, truly live in Franklin since we're a charter school 15 miles away, now that I'm a teacher, I had better look my best if I even THINK of darkening the door of the Winn-Dixie. It is inevitable I will run into a student. Sometimes, I don't even see them, but I hear the hushed whisper of "that's my TEACHER!" Usually, depending upon the behavior (not the grades) of said student, I may or may not have a parent come over and introduce themselves. More likely, from many feet away, I get frantic waves accompanied by "Hi, Miss Donna!"

The Winn-Dixie, truly a microcosm of humanity.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Favorite Kid Christmas

As I've noted before, mine was a very lean household. My dad, thinking obviously kids don't need to eat or have new clothing, never really managed to pay child support. Back then, the state wasn't really a partner in making parents pay, so my mom never took him to court to up the amount. As she said, "a larger chunk of zero is still zero." It made for a number of lean Christmases. My grandparents would help by getting me clothing and necessary items, a bit more than my cousins, so my mom could focus on the fun stuff.

One Christmas I wanted a particular doll, a doll called Velvet.  She had blond hair that would be long, but then you could turn a dial in her back, and her hair would get short. Depress a button where the belly button would be, and voila, long hair again. I was mad with desire for this doll. It was horrifically expensive in relation to my mom's budget. I don't know how or where she found it, but she found one in horrible shape. The hair was matted, she didn't have shoes or clothes. Garage sale? Maybe. I don't know.

What my mom did was put her in a dolly chair one of her friend's husbands had made, and she wrote a letter from Santa and attached it to Velvet. The letter said Velvet was almost left behind because the elves hadn't quite gotten her ready in the Christmas time crunch, but Santa heard her crying. When Santa went to her, Velvet lamented that she'd never have a little girl to play with, because next year was just too late. Santa hurriedly took Velvet with and gave her to me, because she knew I wouldn't mind, and I would take extra special care of her.

Of course, I did. Velvet stayed in my possession long after other dolls were given away, and I still have the letter somewhere. For my mom, a logical, reasoned, absolutely by the numbers kind of person, it was the best Christmas gift I ever got.

Monday, December 22, 2014

You Can Take the Gal out of Chicago. . .

But we all know you can't take the Chicago out of the gal. Ugh.

For the most part, I've enjoyed living in the south and the truly massive life changes that have gone along with it. I think we've adjusted pretty well. I've slowed down my speaking speed, counting to ten between sentences and after someone else speaks to respond. I've accepted I WILL run into someone I know at the Winn-Dixie and around town, which means no errand is as quick as I hope it will be. We've all tried all kinds of new foods (jambalaya and chicken stew get thumbs up, gumbo TOTALLY depends on the recipe). I've even started saying hello to complete and total strangers, just because they're walking a few feet away from me (that was a hard one for this suspicious former Chicagoan).

The one issue I'm having troubles with is the lack of desire to problem solve when things go wrong. I mean, that's right in my wheelhouse. I aim to be a problem solver. Here, I get a shrug of the shoulders and a "what ya gonna do" look. I almost had a full-on conniption fit at Autozone Saturday. Good thing this town is small, and there were only three witnesses, two of them employees.

Our car needed a new battery. We charged it to get it over to the place, Scott paid, and THEN they told him they didn't have anyone to install it because they couldn't leave one person alone in the (empty) store. Fair enough. He had to go to work, so he brought the car home (only a five minute drive), told me to run over there after 9am. I waited until after 10, arrived, was told they still didn't have a third person and got THE shrug. I asked if they knew when third person would arrive. The shrug. I said I really didn't feel comfortable going home, since I had to charge this to get it here, but I also couldn't wait all day. The shrug. Then the counter person made the mistake of telling me "Don't know what to tell ya, baby." I KNOW sometimes the "baby" is a southern thing, like "honey" or "sweetie" but I snapped. I actually had to walk outside and take deep breaths.

I then went back in, where I informed the staff they needed to get the manager on the phone by any means necessary (turns out HE was the one who was AWOL), that I would be getting a discount refunded to me, and that if workers could stand outside the store with the door open EIGHT FEET away from where my car was in the parking lot to SMOKE CIGARETTES (three in the time I was there), then they could dang well put my battery in while I held the door and kept watch over the lone employee. I insisted I would keep her safe from the four customers who had swarmed the place in the time I'd been there.

Luckily, there did not have to be a showdown, as an employee who was scheduled later happened to come in early, and he put in my battery. He actually started in fright when he looked at me, and he was about 6'6" and 350lbs. He actually had to swap out the battery for a more expensive one, because their computer was wrong. I assured him the manager was picking up the difference. The shrug AGAIN. I hate the shrug.

Adjusting, it's a work in progress.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Combat Naps

I am the keeper of the clock, the sounder of the alarm. I also sleep like I'm a Navy SEAL taking a combat nap, in little blocks, literally anywhere. Back in the day, I was bored waiting while a buddy was flirting with a guy at Neo in Chicago. I fell asleep on the carpeted risers and had to be shaken awake, music was blaring, and I was near sober at the time.

My alarm goes off, and I wake up everyone in turn, except my Uncle Bob, who has his routine.  He's pretty much on the other side of the house, but because there's only one shower, we have a lovely syncopated dance of people in and out of the bathroom. It's been working. Knowing we have a very regimented system, that often commences with my directive to people under the age of fourteen to "eat breakfast! brush teeth! Move! Move! MOVE!" he was concerned when I seemed to be still lounging in bed ten minutes after I should have been. He waited another five minutes, then came to wake me up. In error, I hadn't set my alarm, so I'm glad he did.

However.

Uncle Bob had never awakened me, and he wasn't really aware of my sleeping habits. He gently shook my happily sleeping shoulder. I jumped up, again, like a Navy SEAL in full battle mode, out of bed in one leap, looking for the proverbial fire to put out. I scared him, and rightly so. He told me next time maybe he'll just call my phone.