Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Addition to the Family

Steve had been really distant and belligerent concerning his schoolwork. We knew that something was bothering him but he wouldn’t talk about it. I thought it was because he was frustrated with Frankie’s constant lecturing about getting the assignments done. Steve called me at work today to tell me that his girlfriend is pregnant! He’s 16 and she’s 17, and both are still in high school. Steve wants me to help him break the news to his dad. That should be fun – especially after all the talks they’ve had about safe or no sex. To help relieve some of the tension, I am taking an active role in Steve’s schooling. I will be doing the English and History portion with him. I’m sure it will all work out fine - God help us all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not to be Alarmed

We were sent an email at work this morning telling us not to be shocked should the fire alarm go off. Someone had accidentally tripped it. Three hours later the whole building resounded with sirens as big as Texas that sent my heart pounding into my throat. No one panicked or moved toward the door. We had all passed out from the shock we were told NOT to experience. Then we were told to ignore the man behind the curtain. What did they mean by that? We have blinds on the windows.

Frankie decided that it was his responsibility to home school his son and that I shouldn’t be burdened with the job of teaching while I’m trying to go to college. However, I’m afraid that Steve and Frankie are going to end up killing one another during class. Frankie thinks that only A’s are acceptable. Steve thinks that anything over 65 is an accomplishment. Steve is working a part-time job, which is interfering with him getting his assignments done on time, plus he has a girlfriend that he wants to spend time with. Frankie and Steve argue like yard dogs over dinner scraps, and I’ve been locking myself in my bedroom or going to a friend’s house to escape the war zone. Cheese and crackers, those two are driving me nuts.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I'm Done With Organized Religion

I’m finished with the mind games of organized religious systems. There are folks that actually believe that they have to tithe and attend church in order to avoid God’s wrath. The church we were attending gave a seminar on supporting the local church with tithes and offerings. Yes, I’m a cheerful giver - it truly makes me happy to avoid being struck by lightning! Fear and punishment is NOT what God is about. Power, love, might, goodness, light, freedom, energy are intangible attributes that reside within all of nature, within all humans. No one is separate from the Creator. They may think and act as if they are. The darkness of the ego may hide our god-like attributes, but they are still there regardless of what is seen or done on the outside. Fear is the opposite of love and anything done out of fear is of the ego (some call it the devil, but I don’t believe in him anymore).

After doing more research on the origin of the church, we have stopped attending. No one will miss the angry drunk couple that got married without permission anyway. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. This kind of stuff has happened to me for the last time. I could care less if anyone likes me or not, I’m not playing the game anymore. I’m not going back to church, and that’s final.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Frankie’s Party

This occurred in 2001. Frankie is much older now.

Saturday was Frankie’s 48th birthday and we celebrated by throwing a huge party for him. I invited family and folks from our work place, church, and the girls from my "get-over-it-already" support group. About 25 people came to eat burgers and wieners and to meet our new puppy, Java. I bought a 9-week-old chocolate lab from someone selling them on the side of the road in Antioch. She’s a sweetheart and we already love her like a member of the family.

Steve has decided that he wants to be home schooled, and has asked us to check into it. There wasn’t much checking to do – I’ve already done the home school thing with My Daughter and I hated it. It is a ton of work for the teacher/parent, and it can ruin a perfectly un-normal relationship with your offspring. At any rate, we are getting the books and curriculum this week, and I’m checking into my insurance benefits for reduced rates at the local mental hospital for myself.

I am starting college this fall. I can’t have my kids getting smarter than I am! The assignments are all taught online through the Internet. It will take well more than two years for me to get my degree, but at least I’ll be making progress toward my dream of having a career in which I can utilize my love for writing. Perhaps Steve, My Daughter and I can do some group study together! I may need their help!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Redneck Family

My newly acquired stepson is going to Atlanta with me tonight. My brother has a truck for sale that Steve wants to take a look at, possibly to buy. Steve fears that the Toyota may be a Bubba truck and wants to take a look. I think he really wants to go so he can see for himself what my side of the family is like. It’s a good weekend for him to meet the clan since the family is throwing a birthday bash for my grandmother (Nanny J) who is the 85 year-old matriarch of this socially elite group.

There are about 60 people in my extended family (give or take a few ex-in-laws that we may still be related to). The family is comprised of good ol’ Southern country folk that will expect you to eat a large portion of everything that’s put on the table regardless of whether or not you're hungry, but the ones you have to watch are the ones I call semi-rednecks. That means they still have most of their teeth but otherwise fit the criteria i.e.: drive big trucks, own a couple of yard dogs, use some form of tobacco, and are racially prejudiced. Some of them have taken the Global Positioning Systems out of their bass boats and installed them in their vehicles to help them locate the nearest Wal-mart and yard sales. The language spoken by the clan would give an English teacher grammatical nightmares. Then there’s my sister-in-law who is radioactive! We have to stay away from her cause she’s having her thyroid killed today. She’s been having hot flashes and my brother can’t handle it. She’s the same one who shot their bad-assed dog with a 12-gauge shotgun when it bit one of her boys. She loaded the dog's carcass on the pick up truck and launched it into her dad's chicken pit (a deep hole with a 100 pounds of Red-Devil lye at the bottom). She also raises goats. Need I say more? One ex-in-law who decided she couldn’t get all the demons out us, ran off with a religious cult back in the late 70’s. No one went looking for her.

I’m not trying to project a bad picture of my dysfunctional family. They really are nice folks. They simply don’t qualify for the cover of Family Circle Magazine except for my cousin who thinks she’s Martha Stewart. I’ll try to update you when I return from my trip. Hopefully, no one will fall into the lake while trying to feed my dad’s pet carp this time.

My uncle is not doing too well. I wonder how long someone can survive on a wing and a prayer?

SENT: July 10, 2001, 10:59 AM
SUBJECT: RE: Redneck Family

Ya'll’s real nice folk. I met up with a bunch of ‘em, and they’re right looksome!

SENT: July 11, 2001, 7:59 PM
SUBJECT: RE: Redneck Family

Ok, so the burning question in my mind is WHICH cousin thinks she's Martha Stewart? Inquiring minds want to know. After all, y'all are part of my dysfunctional family too!! :O)

Good luck to you, Steve, this should be an interesting experience for you. Enjoy your Bubba truck. I know where you can get a nice rack of antlers for the grill.

SENT: July 12, 2001 9:30 AM
SUBJECT: Redneck Family

Well, if you have to ask WHICH cousin………

SENT: July 13, 2001, 10:59 AM
SUBJECT: RE: Redneck Family

You think that is bad, well you should meet my extended family from Alabama. I went to my family reunion about two years ago, at my grandmother's urging, and could not believe this was my family!! My grandmother talked my mom into flying down for the weekend to attend the reunion. Let me just say that my immediate family members are Yankees. My dad is from New York City and we have lived in the North pretty much our entire life. Well, at the reunion there were people with no teeth, really big bubba trucks, overalls, and the strongest country (not southern) accent that you can image. My mom and I stuck out like a sore thumb. We just looked at each other in amazement and thought, “This is our family?!”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The New Kid in Town

Whew! It has taken me a while to get around to writing this email update. I’ve been super-busy while watching my life take yet another surprising turn of events. Frankie and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary July 7th and decided the best way to celebrate would be to have a child! No, I’m not pregnant! No, we didn’t get a pet. We got a teenaged boy! Frankie’s 16-year-old son finally decided he didn’t like living with his mom and step-dad so he accepted our invitation to come live with us! Over the past 6 months, Steve’s mom would call us in a rage and demand that we come get Steve, but before we could pack and get on the road, she would call to say she changed her mind. We were frustrated and feeling like a yo-yo; getting our hopes up only to have them dashed again. Ultimately, our prayer was that the decision to come here would be Steve’s choice and that he not be coerced. Frankie drove to South Carolina a few weeks ago, loaded all Steve’s belongings on the truck and fetched his boy home.

We’ve finally finished re-decorating the house. The spare bedroom we were reserving for Steve has been decked to his own liking. He painted the walls silvery-black like gunmetal or graphite. Complete with zebra striped linens, black curtains, and a lava lamp, the room has a nice, purple glow in the black light! He got his Tennessee driver’s license last week and loves to run errands for us. He got a job the first week he was here and started saving money to buy a truck from my brother. Steve is low-maintenance. In fact, he keeps his room and belongings much neater than I do! He enjoys cooking and helping with household projects. He made dinner for me while his dad was out of town for his grandmother’s funeral. He helped his dad rebuild the deck while I was away on a weekend trip with my girlfriends. Between us, Frankie and I have five children, and four grandkids. Steve’s older sister, Elsie, and her family live about 45 minutes from us so when the whole clan gets together, we have a Brady Bunch rerun! I didn’t realize how much I missed the family thing.

My Daughter graduated high school in May and plans to start college this fall. She’s looking for a waitress job she can work in the evening hours so she can go to classes in the daytime. She has a lot of decisions to make right now and she leans on me for support like never before. My Daughter will be eighteen on August 1st and is moving into her own apartment August fifth. She asked her step-dad and stepbrother to help her move. I think she is accepting the changes in our lives.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vacationing in the Swamp

I went to Satellite Beach, Florida with my family and we had a blast. I went to the museum and the zoo. My mom and I went kayaking with a nature tour guide to watch manatees. A storm came up suddenly while we were in the river. There was no shore upon which to safely escape. We were instructed to get out of the kayak and stand in the water while it poured rain on top of our heads. The guides said that we were less likely to be struck by lightning while in the water that if we were on top of the water. Regardless, my mom was petrified of the lightning, but I thought it was pretty cool to watch nature perform like that! The storm passed after about half an hour, and we got back in the kayak. Several manatees came right up to us and let us get a closer look. I loved being that close to such a loving, friendly water mammal.

There’s one water animal I’m not too fond of and that is alligators. Mom wanted to take an airboat ride in the swamp to see the wildlife. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but they pulled the van into the parking lot of a dirty old fishing camp and everyone got out. There were some shady looking characters hanging around the premises, and I wasn’t about to stay on shore with them. The next thing I knew, I was seated in a plastic boat chair that was bolted to a metal platform with terraces that stepped up like a sports stadium. The guide seated us according to height and weight so I ended up with a front row seat. A very loud airplane motor that looked like a huge fan was attached to the rear of the boat. By the time we were all loaded a huge, dark cloud was looming overhead. I was surprised that mom wanted to be on the water with a storm coming, but I guess she figured if she survived one storm, she was good for a second round. The storm wasn’t what was bothering me. The fact that I was on the lowest level of the makeshift craft, nearest the swamp critters had me concerned. We took off with a roar, and hadn’t gone 500 yards before it started raining. The boat was moving at high speed and the rain was smacking my face and stinging my body. I was shivering from the cool rain and wind. Around us on all sides were gators as thick as ants on a piece of candy. Some of them would swim away from the boat, others laid there as we rode right over the top of them. The guide slowed down to let us get a look at the birds on the shore. That’s when I noticed that one of those huge ugly swamp monsters was five feet from the boat facing me with his mouth open! I about messed my pants! I screamed and jumped up so fast that I lost my balance, and landed in my nephews lap. He pushed me off of him and I nearly fell into the water. I jumped over the seat and into the second row of seats praying that I wasn’t about to tip the boat. My heart was pounding, but my family was laughing hysterically at me. The guide thought that was extremely funny, and from then on he looked for opportunities to slow the boat anytime he saw a big gator. It was the longest 45 minutes of the entire vacation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hey, God! Back in the Box, Right Now!

Frankie and I are still working on our book about what we really believe about God, but our entire belief system has changed and continues to do so. We’ve have done hours of research, and I’m not doing any more until I digest what we’ve found thus far.

We were required to go through a course of study at church in order to be allowed to take any part in leadership. It ended up being a doctrine class on what we are supposed to believe in order to be in leadership. I call it Jumping through the Hoops 101. Unless we are willing to perform a certain way, and ascribe to the Sunday School mentality that says, “We have God in our box, and we’re the only ones going to heaven” you will not be allowed to be on the worship team, to teach a class, or lead a small home group. I hate this controlling exclusivity. I don't know what my god will look like when I'm finished creating him or her, but I seriously doubt I'm going to be able to put her or him in a box. And, if I did, I would probably crank the handle and sing until something popped out to scare the hell out of me.