By the wayside

There are so many positive attributes that have come from technological advances over time.  Computers have paved the way for personal growth instead of just being a big box in an office from which to run reports.  Social media has proven to be a means for people to unite from all over the world who would not normally do so.  It’s been a bridge that has connected people who would have lost contact for years, maybe even lifetimes.  Smartphones have made it easier to keep in contact, keep busy, organize life, and become more productive when used properly.  All these lovely creations have brought so much more depth to people’s lives by bringing others easily within reach – technically.

However, like all positives, there’s a negative somewhere.  It’s like my mom used to say, there is no hate without love and vice versa.  It’s the classic yin-yang of technology.  Because we’ve become so reliable on technology a lot of other areas of our lives have either changed or diminished altogether.

Tradition, as we knew it just twenty years ago, has all but gone by the wayside.  Ask the younger generations how many Christmas cards they receive, and of those how many are from their generation.  How many birthday invitations come in the mail for children?  Who, other than the ones older than generation X, sends birthday cards?  These simple traditions have been replaced by evites, texts, Facebook messages, posts, and emails.  The only letters I have hand-written and mailed in the last few years have been to my grandmother who is in a convent.  When is the last time you printed a picture to put in a photo album?  Personally, it’s been a couple years for me as I am just as guilty.

Never mind these simple traditions, what about the big ones?  We’ve become a society so busy with our technologically organized lives that we forget to plan for the big events or we’re too busy to do so.  Family reunions happen less and less.  One part of my extended family hasn’t been together for a holiday in years, and I mean years.  My children don’t even know who some of these people are and I grew up with them at every birthday, every holiday, and every family event.  Today, I see their posts via Facebook and pictures via Instagram.

Technology has begun to rob us of what we once held dear.  We may not be so wise of it right now, but it’s there creeping in slowly like the mist of morning fog.  Don’t let your traditions fall by the wayside, grab them and hold them and then pass them to the next generation like that old creepy doll collection from your great-great somebody or other.  You never know, one day they may be worth something.

This week, we borrow from Nonamedufus and his self-titled blog, “Taught By My Example.”

“I love to spoil them.” and/or “tradition”

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With every season

Sitting on my back deck, hiding from the kids whose water balloons I narrowly escape while coming into the house, I take a deep breath.  I smell neighbors grilling some delicious loveliness and my stomach growls to remind me I have to cook, but not just yet.  I take another deep breath.  It’s refreshing, even calming, the smell of rain that skipped our little neighborhood.  I can see the clouds through the tops of the trees and hear a slight rumble, and I’m thankful to see it from a distance.  I can smell the delightful tea olive trees that are just behind our fence, such a sweet fragrance that reminds me of my grandmother.

I close my eyes and I listen.  I hear neighbors talking, but I’m not paying attention to their words.  I hear dogs playing and conversing in their own right, but they aren’t too loud.  I hear giggles and squeals, and I chuckle and the sounds of water balloons breaking against the concrete.  I listen to the little carpenter bee trying to bore a hole into my porch and think I should take care of him, but I don’t and leave him at his work instead.

I lean my head back against the iron chair and open my eyes.  The blue just overhead is so rich and welcoming.  The white that I see reminds me of cotton balls and childhood.  The trees are so green, so vibrant and alive as they slightly sway in the warm breeze.  I catch sight of two birds dancing overhead, dipping and swirling to their own music.  As I scan the backyard I watch butterflies rushing and flittering through the bushes next to the vivid orange tiger lilies.  I’ve watched the lilies grow and now they finally bloom.  It’s at that point, when I’m so in love with their bloom, I realize they are a reminder that it’s closer to the time when summer will end taking with it the beautiful outdoor familiarity only experienced during its season.

 

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In Dreams

It should probably be stated I don’t ‘do’ poetry.  I love it, but I have never been able to produce it.  I felt daring and decided to step out of my little comfort zone on this one…sorry. ha!

 

 

He walks into the room

And causes electricity to spark

So fierce it will cause my doom

Or shock me to life out of this dark

 

His eyes a stormy blue, his lips so full

He sees through me to my core, I’m so weak

Unable to breathe, I try to play it cool

As he brushes his hand against my cheek

 

He smells of sandalwood and wind

His skin is warm to the touch

In his arms, I will easily bend

How can I need him this much?

 

My knees begin to quake

My chest rises, I know what he’s after

From my dream, I slowly wake

As I laughed my nervous laughter

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Unmasked

I’ve gone through some life changes recently as I suppose we all do at some point or another.  I really wish we could go through some of them in our sleep, like a Windows update.  For some odd years (that’s the southern way of saying I don’t really know how many) I was battling a form of depression, or so I assume because at the time I refused to believe it or admit it.  It wasn’t until I read the handy check-list at the doctor’s office that I became aware I met all those ‘symptoms’.  Well, shit.

That was about the time I started my first blog.  It was anonymous and I created an extra email for it, it was where I was going to vent and find myself and get over this stupid bout of weepies that I didn’t truly believe I had.  It worked, for the most part, until I had yet another identity crisis and had to readjust myself again.  Between trying to find myself and what my meaning was and the dismay of no one ever reading my blog I cracked.  I deleted that blog and left the blogging world.

A few years later I felt a little more confident in myself, or so I thought.  I created yet another blog.  One that some of you readers (if they remember me at all) will remember it as It’s All A Bit Random.  Slowly, but surely, I went through the same thing as the one before it.  Another deleted blog and another feeling of utter failure and loneliness formed.  This recovery didn’t take quite as long as the last and I tried my hand at it again.  This blog is my 3rd and hopefully final blog.

I had some issues starting it again; I still wanted anonymity and wanted a place for me, just me to be me without any judgment, but something was missing.  I continued to write and continued to feel this void.  Everything in my life was starting to turn around and I felt better, but the blog and I were at odds.  The blog was becoming that smelly guy on the bus who’s eyeing you with his good eye and you just want to somehow leave the bus without passing his seat.  Something had to change, quickly.  I finally realized I had to sit down and peel away the layers of who I want to be in this community and what my writing means to me.  I came to the conclusion I didn’t want to hide anymore.  I didn’t want to be afraid of judgment and I didn’t want to care what people thought of me.  So what if I was broken and on the mend, so what if my bad times caused me to lash out, so what if my opinion of world issues is different than theirs, I’m who I am dammit and I’m ok with that!

The last layer I peeled off was my mask.  My twitter is linked to my blog so I changed the contact email to my personal email, my picture to my real self, my name to my real initials, and I clicked that little button to let twitter find my contacts.  It was pretty powerful and I was pretty damn scared.  I’m still not out promoting my blog to my family and friends, but I’ve added several of them to my twitter followers where it prominently links to my blog.  I have officially come out of hiding.  It’s liberating, it’s refreshing, and it still scares the hell out of me.

 

My submission for Studio 30+

Hey, Soul Sista!

As I mentioned in a post yesterday, we’ve moved.  It’s been a pretty eventful transition.  The very first day as we are unpacking the 26’ U-Haul that is packed to the rim of our accumulated crap (seriously we need to declutter), a neighbor approaches with a winning smile and even fancier gold tooth.  I wonder what he’s going to say as he approaches, you see, we’ve never experienced the type of hospitality we are experiencing in this new town.  They say southerners are nicer as a rule, but having lived in the Atlanta area all of my life with the exception of 2 years, I say it’s really a case by case basis.  The town from which we came, while only 20 miles away, was not filled with the southern hospitality love.

Mr. W with his million watt smile and his shining tooth comes to shake our hand.  He’s actually pretty awesome, we later find out, but he seemed perfectly nice when we first met him nonetheless.  He welcomes us to the neighborhood and gets our names, then jumps straight into the warnings of possible loud music that may or may not radiate from his home on special occasions.  You see, Mr. W has a professional karaoke machine, he explains.  He loves to shake it.  He loves people to come and have a good time.  He gives us details of every family within our little cul-de-sac that we live in, the goings on, the years they’ve been there, etc.  He’s chatty, and we like chatty.

He leaves and we get back to the task at hand.  A week passes, exactly, and I see car loads of people pulling up to Mr. W’s house.  A party, no doubt.  I see ladies in red hot pants, black leather pants, silky blouses, some in animal print dresses and gentlemen in purple, green, black, or gold slacks and some with tall hats and fancy walking canes.  It really looks like quite the event.  I watch the kids play with new friends and sip on my lovely little drink while rocking on my porch.  It’s a good day, I feel it.

The husband worked that day, but miraculously they ended his shift early so he gets to leave the station with enough time to hang out with us.  We’re standing outside, enjoying the sounds of kids laughing, when Mrs. W approaches us for an invitation.  ‘I know you’re coming over to sing’, she says.  HA! Me?  Sing?  I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  She laughs, sweet as rain she is, and explains no one in the whole damn house can sing.  Then she closes the deal by mentioning the ample amount of flavored Jell-O shots and well, who can resist now?

We go and we are greeted like family.  I’ve only met Mr. and Mrs. W and their 15 yr-old grandson, but the extended hands, smiles, and even hugs from their family is awe-inspiring.  We fit right in.  We stand off to the side a bit as we have a lovely rendition of Whitney Houston going on.  Speakers the size of our youngest (The Little), 2 microphone stands, and more than 10,000 songs from which to choose.  It really is a professional system.  We’re consistently asked to make a request and get up there and sing, but I eye the tray of multi-colored Jell-O shots and decide to wait my turn.  Mmmmm, strawberry.  Who knew these would be so good?  The hubs sings Bob Seger and well, after a few yummy strawberry shots, I request some good ol’ CCR.

We go on for hours, all of their family and ours requesting and singing songs.  Booties are shaking and grooving, and trying to see how low one can go as the song requests of us.  It’s hilarious and fun and before I know it, it’s 2am.  After discovering I should not, indeed, try to find out how low I can go, I decide it’s time to find my shoes and walk back to the house.  I make it back and consider the tub after looking in the mirror and seeing my flushed face and strawberry stained lips.  I decide I’ll leave this look as reminder in the morning of the fun we had.

– A submission to the Studio30Plus prompt

To Dream or Not To Dream

I am blessed with a good memory of my childhood (which is strange in and of itself as I often can’t remember what I ate yesterday).  I lived in a time where we could leave our doors open, when there weren’t leash laws so dogs followed the children playfully throughout the neighborhood, a time where mud pies and ‘lightening bugs’ were the highlight of a summer, and a time where the biggest worry was what everyone was going to wear the first day of school.  The neighborhood I grew up in is now one that no one would want to drive through without being fully armed, but when I lived there it was full of young families where every mother knew every child and didn’t hesitate to scold you and send you home for dinner.

Summers were spent outside since there weren’t a lot of families with video games.  My family bought a Nintendo64, but we were the kids that would rather play flashlight hide and seek rather than be inside with the ‘old people’.   One of my memories isn’t just one at all.  Nearly every day I spent time laying at the top of the big hill of our driveway staring up at the clouds watching them morph from dinosaurs to Volkswagens.  I could do that for hours, and often did when time permitted.  It was laying there and looking into the blue sky that I began to dream of a future I could hardly imagine.  As a child, it was hard for me to think past Christmas that year, let alone ten or fifteen years ahead.  It wasn’t until the game MASH became popular that made me really start to give my future self some thought.  I had big dreams.  I was going to live in a Mansion, marry Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block, drive a red mustang, live in California, have 3 kids, and be a teacher.  Yes, I was going to be very happy and this little game started my most memorable childhood dream.

Naturally, I knew I wasn’t going to marry Donnie Wahlberg, but everything else seemed plausible in my mind though I later changed my idea of a Mansion to a really nice middleclass brick home.  The only thing that really panned out was that I am a mother to three children.  In my dreams, I never really considered becoming pregnant at 18, dropping out of college, spending three years as a single mom, eventually marrying the father of my son, and struggling to just stay within the lower-middle-class spectrum.  Those weren’t my dreams at all, even sans the MASH game.

For years I struggled with this.  I had to let my childhood dreams go and welcome reality.  I realized that the loss of my dreams didn’t change the quality of the life I’ve lived.  We have finally landed squarely in a decent home, have an SUV big enough to cart around a 10, 11, and 15 year old, a retirement plan, and while I’m not a teacher, I get to play one at home when homework is too hard.  Dreams have a way a making one feel inadequate when they don’t come true, but I’m just happy to have what I have.

This is my submission to the weekly writing prompt from Studio Thirty Plus

Normalcy or the lack thereof

Can I just say to all those mom’s out there that are outdoorsy and all ‘go team’, you are a better mom than I am.

Anywho, my husband thought it would be a great idea to enroll the youngest (The Little) in scouts.  I’m certainly not against this; boys need to know various things that are taught in scouts and it would give the two of them bonding time and all that jazz.  Male camaraderie, if you will.

The husband is an EMT (finally) so he works 24/48 shifts.  He signed The Little up last Thursday, and boy was he excited.  It was really sweet, actually.  Last night was their first meeting.  Naturally, Mr. EMT was working his 24 so I needed to take The Little to the meeting and do the introductions and whatnot.  Sounds harmless, right?  I had enough time after the office to go home, cook dinner (chicken with white wine mushroom sauce – does that sound like I am outdoorsy to you?), and forget to grab a pair of flip-flops to replace the 3-inch heels.  We arrive and there are tons of kids and dads with a few moms, but mostly dads.  Some kids in uniform with ribbons that match that of a soldier in his twentieth year of service and others in civilian clothes like my poor Little.

There were 3 or 4 grown men in these uniforms as well.  I looked for them to guide me as to what den(?) my son would be in.  None of them knew.  He was either a boar, bear, webble, fox, or a smattering of other animals.  I couldn’t quite follow as he lost me after something called a weeble-o.  What the hell kind of animal is that?  Clearly, I was not the right man for this job.  After a scout chant, a prayer, and some kind of hand gesture, we move to a circle.  Now, in my mind I think of campfires, smores, singing, rules, or something of the sort.  HA!  No, that’s not what these uniformed overgrown kids pretending to be adults had in mind at all!

Burly Man:  “Parents!  You are to follow your scout and their leaders down the trail behind us”

My mind: Wait, trail behind you?  You mean that overgrown forest with no wooden path?  And follow where exactly, to the end of my existence cause I’m in heels mister…

Squirrelly Man: (in a much smaller voice) “Ok scouts, grab the kid next to you, hold his hand and then raise your hands above your head!  That’s right, boys!  This is your buddy.  Where he goes, you go. Mmmmkkkkk? Alright, let’s go!”

My mind:  Where’s my buddy – don’t I need a buddy?  Does that kid attached to The Little look shady?  What if he heads off a cliff or something?  That seems a bit too vague of a statement, sir.

After hiking on the ‘trail’ and learning all about deer poop, scrubbing of antlers on trees, berries that would probably be the same ones that almost killed Katniss in Hunger Games, and white dots on trees that mark your way – we end up in this enormous field.  There’s an erect tent in the middle and several bags alongside of the tent.  My feeble, indoorsy, HGTV mind didn’t grasp what was happening.

Burly Man: “OK Parents, grab your scout and head to a bag, we’re learning the proper handling of tents, pitching them, and putting them away”

My mind: We’re what?  Are you seriously telling me this little bag holds that big ‘ol tent in it?  Orange is not a good color, btw, it will surely attract bears.

I look around and see one of those soldier-type kids and I’m all like, “Pssst, hey kid, you look like you’ve been here a while.”  The kid looks exasperated at me already, “Yeah, I’m a what-ever-animal-is best, do you need help with this?” and then he laughs.  He actually laughs at me.  Poor Little had already started to unpack the tent bag and was well on his way.  I’ve heard rumors that our family owned a tent, I suppose he and his father have worked on this before.

All ended well, our tent was set up and then put back and we hiked our way back to ‘base’.  I was sweating and panting profusely, pretty sure at least twelve blisters, and about four thousand mosquito bites, I was spent.  They offered a Gatorade, I declined as I was disappointed no one handed me an Absolute and soda for my efforts.

I had hoped for a quiet, normal school year when the children went back, but it looks like normalcy will involve sweating in places one ought not to sweat, bug spray, the purchase of hiking boots, and flasks canteens.  Go Team!

This is my writing prompt submission for Studio Thirty Plus