Christmas season has been pretty exciting around here. I'm not talking parties and Christmas parades exciting, although we've had a lot of that too. See, when I say exciting, I mean Christmas lights, public fights, and fender benders in our driveway, exciting.
It's the Courter way.
Here's what you need to know. Ron refuses to hang Christmas lights.
He's scared of heights, the lights blow off, the ones that don't blow off need taken back down after Christmas, you get the picture. But I love Christmas lights. ALL white lights. Nothing against the multi-colored lights, but those are obviously Christmas lights. But white lights can pass as 'New Year lights', and as far as I'm concerned, you can squeak by with 'Valentine's lights.'
(That's where I draw the line. 'St Patrick's lights' is stupid. Take 'em down, already.)
Anyhoo, his answer to me is always forget it.
A long time ago in our old house, I tried hanging lights by myself, ended up trapped on our super tall 2-story roof afraid to climb back onto the extension ladder, and begging him to call the fire department. He refused. A fight broke out. Our marriage survived. Barely.
But this year, everything changed with one word. Grandchildren. They hold all the power, in case you didn't know. And on Thanksgiving Day, our neighbor's house lit up with Christmas lights and their little toddler eyes lit up right along with them.
Chuckles, who refuses to be outdone by anyone, came home with bags of Christmas lights the following day. (White ones, obvi.) Then he went to work. He put up his ladder, filled a cooler with the lights, attached it to a long rope, climbed onto the roof of our garage, and pulled his cooler of supplies up to join him. He's slightly redneck, albeit a brilliant one.
Awhile later, I heard him yelling my name from the roof. I figured he needed his cooler refilled, but no. (And here's where the story takes an unfortunate turn.) He remembered that our chimney grate had blown off a few weeks ago and asked me to hand it up to him. No big deal. What became a big deal was when he asked for a wrench. And a certain sized one at that.
*sigh* So he's decided to punish me and test our marriage all in one moment. Merry Christmas.
He gave me detailed instructions: In the big toolbox by the garage door, in the 2nd drawer down, I'd see a set of wrenches neatly fanned out. Then it was simply a matter of choosing the one that fit around the screw he'd tossed down to me from the roof. The screw that I caught. On the first try. Not that I got any credit for that, but let's not digress here.
I went to the toolbox by the door, opened the 2nd drawer down, and found total chaos. Neatly fanned? What the hell's he smokin'? I dug
through, found a few little wrenches, none of which fit around the screw (that I caught on the first try), so I reported back to him. Can't find it.
He then enunciated every word...toolbox. by. the. door. 2nd. drawer. neatly. fanned...he might've still been talking when I walked away. I retraced my steps, followed his instructions (again), and voila. Still a drawer full of crap. So I checked every drawer because maybe he was confused, but all of them were in a state of upheaval.
I went back outside, told him he'd need to come down and find it himself, and that's when the 'Christmas Lights Fight Of 2017' officially broke out. Not to be confused with the 'Christmas Lights Fight Of 2003.' Equal amounts of screaming and yelling, but this time, I was on the ground, and he was on the roof. And just between you and me, I wouldn't have called the fire department if his life depended on it.
Him yelling about my inability to find things.
Me yelling about his piss-poor idea of what neatly fanned means.
Be jealous you're not our neighbors.
Things escalated to a final blow when he said to me, "You're better than this."
Why, you son of a .....
Between gritted teeth, I calmly said, "Get your ass off that roof, come show me your organized wrench drawer, and I'll say I'm sorry right here right now." Then I crossed my arms and waited while he slowly made his way down the ladder, both of us gloating, because he was sure he was about to get an apology from me and I knew we were approaching a major milestone in our marriage and I was about to never ever ever apologize to him about anything ever again. Ever.
Then he opened the 2nd drawer down. Of the different taller toolbox, by the different door. And he turned to me and said, "Come here."
I don't wanna play anymore.
But he insisted that I come over and look in his drawer of wrenches that could only be described as neatly fanned, and then I had to tell him I'm sorry because sometimes he's a jerk and marriage isn't fair.
But our house is trimmed in beautiful white lights, complete with frighteningly bright and distracting rapidly blinking lights around the trees at the end of our driveway that most certainly draw the eyes of our grandchildren, if not run the risk of receiving a cease and desist letter from the mayor when accidents happen and the Amish start to complain. It's only a matter of time.
And speaking of accidents, you may remember me mentioning a fender bender.
Well, unfortunately this entry is already a bit long and I've starred as the family moron enough for one day, so I think this calls for a Part II.
Tune in soon for tales of collisions, spray paint, Jesus, and more fighting. Because, you know. Christmas.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
But what if your second impression is actually worse than the first? And then every impression after that sucks even more than the one before?
Lemme cut to the chase. I think our car salesman hates me. These are things I think about.
So why is this bothering me? Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that he's hot. Not like hot hot, but hawwwt. So forget that. And while we're at it, let's forget that I'm old enough to be his mother and probably too old to say things like hawwwt.
It's not like I'm new to haters, but this one bugs me because he couldn't be more wrong about who I think he thinks I am, but in every interaction we've had so far, my husband proves him right.
Are you confused? I feel like you might be confused.
Let me clear things up and get this on the record for you, me, and Dylan the car salesman:
I am a stable, low maintenance human being, whose only requirement for a vehicle is that it runs. I'm nice (unless provoked), kinda smart sometimes, I may have a sensitive gag reflex, but I do NOT cry easily, dammit! I'm also not spoiled
So, why do I think he thinks otherwise? Well, partly from bizarre circumstances and then also because every time my husband interacts with Dylan our car salesman, he sets me up for failure.
It started uneventfully. Ron wanted a Pilot. He got connected with Dylan the car salesman who found him a Pilot. We met with Dylan, Ron test drove the Pilot, and he bought the Pilot. After we left, Ron told me I'd need to bring it back to the dealership to have the luggage rack and DVD player installed, and the nicked windshield replaced. No big deal. It might surprise you to know, when it comes to Ron, I generally do what I'm asked.
Feminists don't want me as their spokesperson, nor should they.
I knew it'd be an all-day thing, so I took plenty to do to keep me busy. Everyone at the dealership kept apologizing for the time it was taking, but I patiently put their minds at ease. I expected this. No big deal. See? I'm nice. Stable. Low.Maintenace.
But things went south at the end when a female employee I'd never seen before found me in the waiting area and dramatically told me that the luggage rack and DVD player were installed, but I'd have to take the Pilot to a different location to get the windshield fixed "and HURRY, because YOU'RE late."
Nice, stable, and low maintenance aside, I have buttons and I have limits, and within a matter of the 2 minutes it took her to rush me to the car, she'd pushed and exceeded all of them. Then in a lame-ass attempt at "customer service" she asked "Do you have any questions for me?" The only thing that came to mind was, do people frequently punch you in the mouth?
But before I could ask, she walked away. Probably for the best.
I opened my door and that's when I saw all the trash. It would seem that every part of the DVD system came wrapped in tiny pieces of plastic that had been strewn all over the seats and floor of Ron's new Pilot. And an hour later, I was calling him. Crying. And moments after that, Dylan the car salesman was receiving an enraged text from my husband demanding answers as to why his wife left their dealership crying today.
Piece of free advice? Don't make me cry. You're welcome.
The following day, we returned. They fully detailed his Pilot again and then I was sitting in the front seat with Jordan the tech guy as he carefully answered any and all questions I could possibly ever have about every single feature on the Pilot and DVD player while my husband silently supervised from the back seat. Not a great demonstration of my stability.
So, I can't make a worse impression than that, right? Hold my beer.
Recently, we needed a newer mini-van. Ron contacted Dylan with what he was looking for, and when Dylan found one, we went to take a look. He took us around the van, noting all the special features, while directing them all to me specifically, making special mention of the color of the van and "key-less locks so you never have to fumble in your purse."
Hold up. Purse? Do I look like someone who carries a purse?
I listened politely and oohhed and ahhhed, because nice.stable,low.maintenance. Not crying.
We decided to buy the van and agreed to pick it up the following week to allow them time to install the luggage rack and hitch Ron wanted. On our way out the door, Dylan told Ron to please make sure we come on a day he's there to "ensure that everything goes smoothly for her." Oh lawd, he thinks I'm a crier. And hello...I'm standing right here.
On the way home, I asked Ron if he noticed how Dylan was describing all the van details to me, specifically. He replied, "That's because I sent him a list of all of my requirements for you." And then he showed me the text:
2015-2018 Odyssey, any color (except black, brown, or white), heated leather seats, Navigational system, luggage rack, hitch, sunroof, DVD player, and premium sound.
So, now he thinks I'm a crier and a spoiled brat??
And I decided to make it my goal to casually mention to Dylan that I don't even know what "premium sound" means, and too bad the van's not black...*sigh*...
The following week, while Dylan finished up the paperwork, he told us to go wait in the van and he'd bring Jordan the tech guy out to explain everything to me. Poor Jordan...stuck with the job of programming my phone contacts into our vehicles and then inevitably having to say the words, "Call Sexy" when he demonstrates how to call my husband while I'm driving. I should tell him I'm normal, too.
But, I never got the chance, because in a horrible twist of fate, I climbed into the front seat of the van, caught whiff of the smell, and jumped back out dry heaving.
When Dylan and Jordan walked out of the building, Ron was sitting in the backseat sniffing deeply, and I had my back against the wall of the garage, covering my mouth and nose with my hands.
Dylan's eyes got big and he asked, "What happened?!" as I'm sure visions of losing this sale spiraled through his head.
Ron answered, "She smells something."
If dude continues to throw me under the bus here, he's gonna find himself permanently riding in the backseat of my not-black-brown-or-white, heated leathered, sun-roofed, premium sounding van.
This was followed by Dylan sitting in the backseat, with Jordan leaning through the front, breathing deeply. Dylan agreed with me that something smelled "off" but I'm also pretty sure Dylan is under the belief that agreeing with me is a general rule that must be adhered to for survival.
He asked me what I thought it smelled like.
I said, "Death."
Because heaven forbid he think I'm dramatic on top of everything else.
Ten minutes later, the vents of the van were covered in brand new air fresheners and a manager was assuring me that if I still smelled death in a few weeks, I could bring it back and they would "neutralize" the smell, which means I'd smell nothing, which he went on to explain that the smell of neutralized nothing can sometimes be off-putting.
As opposed to the smell of death.
Quite the convincing argument.
Before I could burst into tears and say, then I guess I'll just overcome the smell of death through happy thoughts and yoga, I heard my husband cheerfully respond, "Ok! I'm sure it'll go away."
Then we left the dealership and lived happily ever after.
He in his mini-van.
And me in my Pilot.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
But if you're expecting a serious reflective post right now, feel free to turn back, because that's not what this is. I've cried a thousand tears and mourned privately, maybe harder than I've ever mourned before. And now it's time to heal. For me, laughter brings healing and no one understood that better than my mom. She absolutely loved to laugh and had a delightfully inappropriate sense of humor. So in her honor, I'm gonna start the healing for myself right now, find the humor in sadness, and in the process, make her proud.
Speaking of making her proud, so many times over the course of these 2 weeks, I found myself remarking to my family, "Mom would be so proud right now."
She would've been proud.
On the morning she died, I woke to a voice-to-text message from my dad. Had I listened to the voicemail first, I would have heard him say that my mom is in heaven now. But I read the text translation first, which said that my mom is in the oven now. So in a disturbing sort of way, it kind of acted like an ice breaker, cuz heaven is way better than the oven when you stop and think about it. She would've laughed. It made me laugh, too.
And she would be proud.
I spent 3 hours in my pajamas crying over my computer keyboard as I tried to sum up my mom's life in obituary form. And then I ate a whole pizza by myself, because it seemed like the right thing to do. And she was always a fan of "the right thing to do." She would be proud.
I refused to cut her obituary short, but my sisters and I also refused to pay the $10.80 cents per line that the newspaper charges, because our mom never condoned highway robbery. So her obituary is now partially listed on roughly 7 different memorial sites that claimed to be free, and then they'd ask for our credit card number because the "free" only lasted for 14 days, so we'd abort mission and move onto the next site, until we finally ended up posting it as a facebook status. She would be proud.
I didn't cancel any of my Zumba classes that week, because:
1. Music speaks to my soul
2. So does sexy dancing cardio
3. In light of my newfound 'if-you-don't-cut-something-into-slices-it's-considered-a-single-serving' philosophy, life needs to go on...and unfortunately for everybody, so do pants.
She would be proud.
My younger sister and her family came over for dinner and we planted "Mamaw trees" at the end of our driveway. None of us have ever planted trees before. We're on day 11 and both trees are still standing upright.
She would be proud.
If at any point a tree tips over, I'll imagine her boisterous laugh in my head, and know that she would still be proud.
I served biscuits with dinner that night and periodically a clump of dry bitter baking powder would burst into my mouth when I took a bite. She would be proud.
I didn't accidentally use baking soda in my biscuits, a mix-up she was notorious for. Let's be honest here...she would be slightly disappointed I didn't inherit that super-fun-at-dinner-parties trait.
My dad and older sister held my mom's memorial service in Texas yesterday. I didn't attend. Instead, my younger sister and I hosted a balloon launch and family get-together last Sunday in her honor. We each feel the void in our lives, everyone mourns differently, and I'm deeply grateful that all of my family members understand and respect each other's need to say goodbye in our own way. She would too. And she would be proud.
Someone I barely know, who was also planning on attending the service in Texas, approached me at our balloon launch and excitedly said, "I can't wait to get up and talk about your mom during the service next Saturday." I wasn't sure a live mic was going to be a thing, so I messaged my niece to warn her...*flash to her 6'5, 300lb husband in a suit with an earpiece in his ear and the visible bulge of a gun on his thigh guarding the microphone from hijackers...* My mom would be SO proud.
Speaking of my niece's husband, during the service at the Baptist Church full of old people, he explained about the toilet my mom kept in her front yard and used as a flower pot. She would definitely be proud. But he saved the pooping her pants at a Chinese buffet and all of the stories involving profanity for the private brunch afterward with family. Dammit, man. We're supposed to be making her proud.
It's been 2 weeks. I'm still mourning. And I'm laughing. And I'm crying. And of course dancing, because, you know...cardio. Basically, my emotions have turned into a day in the life of Ecclesiastes 3. It's a fun ride for one and all.
But at the end of each day, when it's all said and done, I hold on to the things I know to be true:
I miss her. I know where she is. Our family is here for each other.
And there's no question in my mind...she would be proud.
I love you, Mom.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Last year, I took Caymen on a little day trip down my memory lane, that included drive-by's of the house I grew up in, my elementary school, high school, first church, and first job. For some reason, that made an enormous impression on her.
So I decided it'd be fun to take it to the next level. I reached out to a dear friend, Miss Terry, and she hooked me up with the phone number to the elementary school principal, who was kind enough to allow me to take Caymen on an unsupervised tour last week.
We loaded up that morning and headed out on our most epic memory adventure yet.
We began our day at the high school (home of the Braves, yo) to say hello to Miss Terry. Just so we're clear, I'm not one of those people who mourns her high school days. Besides cheerleading, I didn't have a big identity in high school. I wasn't popular, but I wasn't unpopular...or maybe that's just something unpopular people say. My goal was simply to get out of high school, fall in love, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. Mission accomplished. The fact that I still put on my old cheerleading uniform and force my daughters to pose for annual mother/daughter cheer pics is irrelevant.
We met up with Miss Terry, who proceeded to spoil Caymen with cookies and books in the exact room where I flunked pre-algebra. Whatever. Glad somebody could have some happy memories in that room.
Then it was off to my elementary school. The good old Possum Eagles. (Who came up with that?) Despite my hatred of school that I still can't explain, I feel a bond with that building. the teachers I had (mostly good), and the many friendships that were formed there. When you spend Kindergarten through 8th grade with basically the same people, you will form lifelong bonds with them. I mean, this is when the memories you can actually remember start, right? That's kind of a big deal.
It only made sense to start at the beginning. The Kindergarten room, which oddly enough smells exactly the same, but at the age of 45, I immediately pinpointed the underlying source: urine. Something Caymen and I have in common was that we both cried every day in Kindergarten. Every.Day. The difference is, my poor sweet Mrs. Haycox had to deal with it, whereas Caymen's wonderful Mrs. Easton got a reprieve when the principal stepped in and allowed us to slowly wean Caymen in at her own pace, sometimes one hour a day...and her room didn't smell like pee, so there's that. So Caymen and I thought it'd be appropriate to go into the Kindergarten room and put on our sob faces for old times sake.
She asked if we could go into the teacher's lounge beside the Kindergarten room. Dude. No. We'd be soooo busted.
We proceeded through the old elementary annex, where the smell shifted from urine to asbestos and lead paint. That's where Mrs. Haycox was promoted my first grade year...if you call getting stuck with me in her class a second year in a row a promotion.
My 2nd grade year, I had Mrs. Wright. She'd sneak me sunflower seeds as a snack. Can you even imagine that happening today? She could've killed me the one year I finally stopped crying. But I also can't imagine kids today reading a poem in their phonics book called 'I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor' either, yet there we were. Any 45 year olds with an irrational fear of being swallowed whole by a snake? Anyone? *raises hand*
From there, we graduated to the upstairs corner 4th grade room of Mrs. Dunmire, where every Monday, we were required to make a flower to hang on the bulletin board as a form of discipline that week. If you screwed up, you had to tear a pedal off, and then you personally destroyed your own work of art with each offense. Sure, I could've chosen to behave in such a way as to keep my flower whole each week, but I choose not to live in the world of regret.
Across the hall, 5th grade became middle school and we began changing classes between Mrs. Short, Mrs. Wells, and Mrs. Rollins...the super scary social studies teacher who'd lean over me and her round gold locket necklace would dangle in front of my face in what I can only assume was an attempt to either hypnotize me, make me cry, pee myself, or at the very least, wish I was back across the hall tearing pedals off. If so, she won. All of the above.
6th grade consisted of Mrs. Short, Mr. Short, and Mrs. Spriggs, who was almost tolerable unless she wore her outfit covered in giant vines of purple grapes. That outfit seemed to bring out the worst in her...or maybe it was me...but tempers ran high in Room 33.
It was also in the 7th grade that I was introduced to 3 life-altering concepts.
The first was journaling. I will never forget Miss Carleson-turned Mrs. Sewell, standing at the chalkboard writing a sentence that we used the first 5 minutes of class journaling about. It was the first time in my life that I was encouraged to tap into random thoughts and as it turns out, I have an over-abundance of random thoughts. And as it also turns out, you can make a little living writing random thoughts. Who knew?
The 2nd came from across the hall where Mrs. Brown introduced me to the horrid concept of Science Fairs and the 3rd happened upstairs when Mr. Stultz proceeded to ruin everything I knew to be normal in my world when he mixed letters and numbers called algebra in what proved to be a disastrous combination for me. Thirty-three years later, my feelings haven't changed. And I counted on my fingers to know it was 33 years ago, so ha.
Those same concepts were carried over into the 8th grade, with the same results. Writing, yes. Science, no. Math, oh hell no. Then throw in the time I got in trouble for sharing my opinion in history class that I wasn't going on the DC field trip because I thought it'd be boring. Can we discuss how I've still never gone to DC because I still think it'd be boring? What? No one thinks that but me? Ok, cool. (Baby Boomers, zip it. You're no longer entitled to scold me for my opinions.)
While we were upstairs, our tour wouldn't have been complete without a stop by my 2 most frequented places through all of my years there. The library. And the nurse's station. Put me where the books are and I'll happily lose myself in a world of fiction. Force me into a row and lay a test on my desk, and I'd most likely land on a cot with a stomach ache until she called my mom to pick me up.
Yet another bond Caymen and I share. She said, "That's no fair. Our nurse never lets me go home. She takes my temperature and then calls you to tell you I'm not sick." I explained, "That's because you show up in her office at the exact time you know my Zumba class is ending in hopes that I'll pick you up on my way home. She's onto you." *rolls eyes*...amateur.
No elementary tour would be complete without mentioning the extras. Gym where we'd bowl, race on scooters, jump on a trampoline, and try to kill each other with a dodge ball. There were no written reports in our day. It was gym, for crying out loud. On the same note, in music class, we'd sing songs. That's it. We'd sing and it was fun. And then there was Art class...where Mrs. Conover would yell and literally throw away your stuff if it wasn't done "right." We need not wonder why I'm not crafty.
I had so much fun telling Caymen my stories, watching her laugh, and seeing my childhood through her eyes.
When we arrived back to our neck of the woods, we went to our little ice cream shop, and then we had a picnic in the grass in front of her school. This is a place where lots of her memories are being made. Many of her opinions are being formed, concepts introduced, and talents can either be honed or discouraged. This is her now. Not so very different from my then.
Who knows, maybe someday, she'll return here to walk her kids through these halls to share her memories...or better yet, maybe she'll be enrolling them here to create their own.
Monday, July 3, 2017
Jusssst sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip,
that started from this tropic port,
(aka; a deep muddy incline under a busy overpass)
aboard this tiny ship.
(Or in our case, a giant homemade inflatable raft consisting of a bunch of inner-tubes tied together.)
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
the skipper brave and sure,
twelve passengers set sail that day,
(7 adults, one 10 year old, 2 toddlers, and 2 unborn babies)
for a four hour tour,
("How long will it take to float from County Line to Snyder Park?"
"An hour or 2 tops.")
A FOUR HOUR tour.
The waters started getting rough,
our homemade boat was tossed,
despite the cell phone GPS,
the Courters, we were lost,
the Courters, we were lost.
So this was the tale of us castaways,
we were there for a long long time.
We had to make the best of things,
it was an uphill climb.
We lost Gatorades and tennis shoes,
but managed not to freeze,
the toddlers came away unscathed,
but for an irrational fear of trees.
In the cast of Gilligan's Island, our family is short one Professor.
So the next time we try tubing,
information we should seek.
County Line is on the Mad River,
Snyder Park is on Buck Creek.
Snyder Park is on BUCK CREEK!!!!
In the cast of Gilligan's Island, our family is short one Professor.
And one of these days, my eyes are gonna roll straight out of my head.
*A huge THANK YOU to Nick's dad, Jim, for the ride from the highway back to our cars...and an apology for kinda being in-lawed to us forever.