Monday, December 26, 2011

Plan B and C and D

I am one of those annoying people who not only makes New Year’s resolutions but actually keeps them.  No big surprise, since every day is the start of a “new year” for me, and I have a lifetime of experience.
As mother and wife, I have had no choice but move with the flow or get knocked over.  As an ex-teacher, every school year offered new challenges - new assignments, new personalities (administrators, parents, and students), and new horizons.
As a writer, we call it Revise and Edit.
If life is how you react to Plan B, then you are in for a rough ride unless you learn to use your flexible gene. I have lived through Plan B.  And C.  And D.  If truth be told, I have gone through the alphabet several times over.  I am an expert at bending with the wind.  (Okay, I don’t do “outdoor stuff” very well, but you get the picture.)
There are certain resolutions that get listed every year that they have become as rote as the heading on a school composition – full name on the left, date on the right - but that does not make them less of a necessity.  You know what I am talking about – lose weight, more exercise, learn to Mambo.  
Some change with age and maturity – kiss a boy, marry Ricky Nelson (for you younger readers, he was like the 1950’s version of Justin Bieber), live happily ever after. I’ve done all those (except marry Ricky), and losing weight turned out to be the hardest and less fun.
Resolutions – I feel like I should break into song here, but you wouldn’t want me to do that - just know that I believe in them.  I make several every year about this time in preparation for the real thing – LIFE - that little four-letter word that loves to screw with all your well-thought-out plans.
Let’s Mambo!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas, Daddy

My dad was born on December 24th. He was a very intelligent man, an accomplished musician, and a respected accountant. Through all that seriousness, he had another side to him. He was a terrible tease and a practical joker, so when he said he and Baby Jesus had a lot in common, Mama would scoff and we would giggle.

He had a stroke a few months after he turned 60, but strokes don't kill you; they just leave you disabled. He was unable to work, write his beloved poetry, or play his clarinet.

Right before his 81st birthday, he had a heart attack and needed surgery. My father had always been physically and emotionally strong, so it pained us to see him frightened and frail. We prayed that God would assuage his fear and return his courage. It took him the better part of one year to recover enough before he was allowed to go home.

One morning right after his 84th birthday, my dad hunted for a snack in his dark kitchen in the early morning hours. He tripped, hit his head on the corner of a counter, and collapsed unconscious to the floor.

My daddy died the next morning, January 8, 2006.

I understand when someone tells me they find the holidays difficult. I understand when they tell me they are lost in grief.

My father taught me to walk, read and write, and dance. He’d come home from work, take off his suit jacket and tie, and play tea party like a pro with me and my dollies.

I never really cried when he passed away, though I will admit my eyes sometimes mist over. I forget he is gone and I reach for the phone. I hear a silly joke and remind myself to share it with Dad. I refuse to be sad. My life is full of memories of him that still make me smile and laugh; my heart is still full of his love.

Merry Christmas, Daddy.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Blame the Hamburger

I blame the drive-thru hamburger or the coffee shop with the creamy drinks. 

I’ve been misled by the Mexican food restaurant with the bottomless bowls of chips and salsa and the to-die-for enchiladas. I’ve been snookered by bags of Snickers and seduced by salty chips, two-timed by an egg and bacon taco (or two), and hoodwinked by a side of hotcakes.  
It’s their fault my belts won’t buckle and my jackets won’t zip. I blame them for my shortness of breath and my aching back as I carry armloads of Blue Bell ice cream and glazed donuts to the car.
I know I am not alone, so I say we sue those who have made us this way:  they force me to eat that taco (or two) for breakfast; they lure me with their double lattes topped with whipped cream; they snare me with their Number One specials (then try to mask the truth with side salads and diet sodas); they sing their siren songs after a long, hard day with their “Hot and Ready” pizzas and drive through dinners that come complete with desserts.
They charm me with coupons.
After all is consumed (after all it is my Christian duty to clean my plate; some poor child in a third world country is counting on me), I reason with myself.  I assuage my gluttony with promises to do better tomorrow. 
The next day as I struggle with my stretch pants or drag my dress over my derrière, I . . .
blame the dryer.


Monday, December 5, 2011

2012 - Out of Time

I bought enough batteries to last a year, uncooked beans and rice in 20 lb bags, filled every gasoline can we owned to the brim.  I collected empty plastic milk jugs for a year then filled them with tap water.  I bought several boxes of old-fashioned matches and several pallets of barbecue briquettes. I even learned now to load and shoot the two firearms we owned.

The sky was all purple
There were people running everywhere

Many laughed at me. It was 1999 and I was preparing for the big Y2K digital meltdown.

When nothing happened, it took me several months to water the patio plants with the 250 gallons of water I had hoarded.  It took longer to use up all the other supplies. (I still have some leftover D batteries in the bottom junk drawer in the kitchen.)
Now an even bigger disaster is predicted – December 21, 2012 - the day Bolon Yokté K’uh, a Mayan god of war and creation, will descend from the sky, and the pages on the Tortuguero Monument calendar end.
We could all die any day
Those who believe - 2012’ers - are so franticly preparing for the end of the world that they forget that life is measured by how we live it, what we accomplish, how we made a difference. 
They hoard and spend their time and money building underground silos in remote destinations, avariciously protecting their hoards of MRE’s. They lament the ticking of time, frightened of dying. They ignore the beauty around them today in preparation for a post-apocalyptic tomorrow.
Parties weren’t meant to last
I’d rather dance my life away

I am just as scared as the next person about death, but as far as I know, no one survives that inevitability.  Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to exist without my family, my friends, the fantastic life I enjoy now.

I prefer to live life now - with no regrets, happy, and accountable for my actions.  I will not let Internet rumors, prophets listening to telepathic messages from alien planets, or a disaster movie with bad ratings distract me from my true focus.  If I have lived my life to its fullest potential, then why should I fear my death?
But – Psst! - just in case, I have a couple of packages of D batteries I am willing to sell you real cheap. 
Oops, out of time -