Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gum, she wrote...

We could handle the small crowd of ADDCP5. We smiled at the torrential downpour that killed my beautiful candlelit walkway plan--after all, the state of Georgia's in a drought, and how nice of the rain to come on Daniel Dean's birthday! But nothing could prepare us for the horror that awaited on December 16th, when while folding one of our card tables we discovered FRESH GUM stuck to the bottom of one of them, in the very same Sweet Mint Orbit flavor that almost every person around the four card tables had taken a piece of the night before. But which one of our friends could be the culprit? Could it be Kevin, the former baseball player--those guys are known for spitting sunflower seeds, tobacco, gum ... How about Kim, the gum provider? Was she tired of the gum, giving away each piece to strangers and her own to the bottom of the table? What about Daniel Williams? Could his princeliness be forever tarnished with a single heinous act?

A quick look at the location of the offending table narrowed the choices to three individuals:

Paul, recent Tech grad, usually a class act.
Steve, doctoral candidate in linguistics, known germophobe.
Megan, college student, helpful party assistant.

Excluding Steve seems a no-brainer, but there's where the mystery comes in. Jessica always surprised us back in the day, didn't she? What do you think, folks?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tired of looking at the same old thing...

I don't have anything to say, but I'm tired of the party invite being at the top of the page. It went well, though the turnout was pretty sad due to inclement weather. We finally got rain, though, so I'm glad, even if my beautiful candlelit entry was spoiled. About halfway into the lighting process, Mom and I gave up--they kept getting rained out :(.

Thanks to all who came, especially to those who gave PIT Extreme a try. It was wonderful to see everybody.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 6:30 p.m.


This year, Daniel Dean will be hosting his annual Christmas party at Evergreen Family Fellowship--not nearly as cozy or (if I may say so) attractive a place, but large enough for his ever-expanding list of friends. If you're single, bring a date if you'd like (even if he/she doesn't know Daniel Dean). If you've got kids, bring 'em. Just don't forget to RSVP at Anduril80@aol.com or 478-960-6906. We're doing pasta this year, so we need to have a pretty good idea of the number of folks.

As usual, dinner and soft drinks will be provided, but we'd love for some of you to bring a favorite Christmas dessert to share.

Daniel informs me there will be a doorprize this year, and we hope to have a bit of caroling. Also, some of you might like to play basketball outside, so come prepared for the possibility if that's you.

Here's a link to directions on Google. (Ignore the fact that they start in Ringgold. Just start driving down I-75.) This way is the one I would personally take. Highway 247 is ugly, but it's quicker, in my opinion.

If you'd like a longer, straighter option (or if you're coming from the south), get off I-75 at either the Russell Parkway or the Centerville/Warner Robins (Watson Blvd.) exit. Both will run into Davis Drive after about 10 miles. Turn left on Davis. From Russell, you'll go through five red lights--Tabor Drive is the first left turn past the red light at Ignico Drive. From Watson, you'll go through two red lights at Green and Ignico. After a left on Tabor, Evergreen will be the second church on your left.

We can't wait to see you there!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Way to Get Visitors:

post images obtained from Google image search. Especially popular: cheesy Christian-themed photos (e.g., hands holding blocks that spell "grace") and orange monkeys.

These visitors--from such exotic locations as Chile, Romania, France, England, New Jersey--will not leave comments. Heck, they won't even stay for a whole second. But somehow, in their borrowing of your carefully chosen images (just as you have borrowed them before), you'll feel a sense of global community. Or you'll just wonder why so many folks are looking for monkeys.

We know why they're looking for grace.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"The Warrior is a Child"

Tomorrow I begin a long-term substitute position (until December 7) at Warner Robins Middle School. I'm thankful for the opportunity to give middle school a try before I hang up the language arts thing entirely, but I do feel a bit anxious about it. Unlike substituting for a day or a week in one school, substituting for the next month will mean getting up close and personal with not only my eighth graders, but the faculty and staff of a new place.

I'm just in time to go through training for writing test preparation.

I'm just in time to be the one preparing them for the 8th grade writing test in January.

I'm just in time to hand out progress reports for work someone else assigned and graded.

A little thing called "paying the bills" propels me forward in this venture, but do pray for me, not only that this next month will be productive, but for my career crisis (Blackaby's "crisis of belief that requires faith in action"). Unless the teacher I'm substituting for decides to stay home with her baby, this long-term sub is merely a stop-gap measure. So pray that if God wants me teaching, He'll open the right doors. Pray that if He doesn't, I'll get some clear direction about what kind of options to pursue. And pray that no matter what, I'll keep the main thing the main thing. My life is to be about God's glory, and He can glorify Himself in an eighth-grade language arts classroom just as well as anywhere else. Here am I, Lord. Send me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kevin's Assignment

I'm having a hard time with Kev's assignment to write about a time when God's grace or helping hand were most evident (see comments under "Play that tape again"), because there's not one big story that stands out right now. I keep hearing Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle saying, "It's just a million little things..."

-the grace to forgive someone I'd held a grudge against for a long time (not a little thing, really, but not a story for telling)

-the chance to make my Pa-Pa laugh one last time before he died (when he was bed-bound and mute from a massive stroke)

-a dead squirrel on the stoop when I had gone through long season of writer's block

-the exact song/sermon I needed to hear being sung/preached at church or played on the radio (how many times has this happened?)

-the time I found a bunch of cheap copies of Wild at Heart to give to my guy friends

-receiving the wrong CD in the mail from GPB (folk songs when I'd ordered classical as my free gift for contributing) and listening to find a song that brought me to my knees with its pleading lyrics ("Lord, Revive Us") and pertinence to my situation

These are just some tidbits of a life that is touched every day by little miracles and stories of grace. I'm ungrateful so often.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Most exotic visitors

Sitemeter is so cool (I know my friends have already discovered this, so Duh, Leah!)! But so far my most interesting visitors have been a person from South Africa who googled "My soul remembers," and a person from Romania looking for that picture of a baby ginger monkey I got from Wikipedia. Foarte interesant!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Play that tape again...

Last night at my ladies' group we were talking about our recent experience at Tres Dias, some of us as workers, some as attendees. It was awesome to do together what Bobbe, leader of the weekend, said she had done individually all week long: replay the weekend in her mind.

When she used that phrase, the Holy Spirit brought
to mind a particular part of our theme verse for the weekend. Psalm 103:2 says, "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (NIV). I got the picture of me and God viewing a tape of my life. Forgetting not His benefits is like rewinding back to all the best parts--the times He's proven his faithfulness so indisputably, the promises He's fulfilled, the healing He's granted, the truths He's illuminated--and dwelling on them. Everyone who knows me well has heard me quote lines (repeatedly!) from You've Got Mail, Pride and Prejudice, and Sabrina. I rewind to those funny or poignant moments I love time and time again. As Christians, we're called to do that with the moments of our lives, offering them back to God in praise, repeating them to others as testimonies of His grace.

I believe the Father loves it when we come to Him, childlike, and say, "Daddy, 'member dat time...?" Of course He remembers, but isn't it fun to tell those old stories? There's no quicker way to build faith than to replay the tape.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him; How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Good stuff from Oswald Chambers

A portion of today's reading from MUfHH:

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work His new creation in us, and there will come a time when there is not a bit of the old order left, the old solemnity goes, the old attitude to things goes, and "all things are of God." How are we going to get the life that has no lust, no self-interest, no sensitiveness to pokes, the love that is not provoked, that thinketh no evil, that is always kind? The only way is by allowing not a bit of the old life to be left; but only simple perfect trust in God, such trust that we no longer want God's blessings, but only want Himself. Have we come to the place where God can withdraw His blessings and it does not affect our trust in Him? When once we see God at work, we will never bother our heads about things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in Heaven Whom the world cannot see.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A poem from my thesis that will never get published

I won't share any poems that might make it into a journal someday, but here's a poem from my thesis that was okay at the time but not really publishable. It's one of a series about the Poet, a stereotypical old white male poet type on at least his second marriage; "recovering" from some religion or other and vaguely associated with Buddhism; supremely pompous, though in an Everyman sort of guise; and so well-known in the poetry world that anything he writes will be published, good or not.

The best of my Poet poems will hopefully get picked up by a magazine, so it won't appear here. This one was more something I had to write, a working-out of some issues about Poetry that I was dealing with at the time. Most poets who talk about religion in their work are post-church people, and the dreaded f-word of academe is not that nasty one that rolls regularly of most tongues these days, but fundamentalism. Truth is fluid, art semi-divine--really, it's the only thing safe to believe in.

The in-jokes (among other things) are what make it less a good poem than a good exercise (or exorcising of some stuff), but it's thought-provoking, at least.

The Cult of Art

The Poet, a Buddhist if he’s anything,
says I can’t believe in poetry and capital-G
god, says I’ll have to choose.

I always knew it.

But how to give up poetry, how to
shun her goddesses with an oh-well
shrug? Can’t I just mix spirits
and saints, chants and prayers?
Drink bubbling potions and
communion wine?

No, he warns. We dare not
risk such mixing. Leave experiments
to science—this is Art. Here
is the blank white page. We
write holy writ. Your muse is
jealous, Dearie, jealous as any
O.T. God, and, Vengeance—
well, she saith it’s hers, too.

How can I risk the silence
of the goddess? How dare I
risk the holy wrath of God?
How much longer can I live
in the eye of this Venn, these
intersecting rings of flame?

Other writers circle us, say
the Poet’s full of mumbo-
jumbo, say I’m too dramatic.
What choice? What incompatibility?
Think of Milton, they say,
of King David, of Gerard
Manley Hopkins. Worship
is Art, Art worship. Jesus,
Allah, YHWH, it doesn’t matter.
You might even follow the Poet
as he follows the Buddha. We are
all artists here, followers of
Art—full of love and
questions. Seekers.

From the corner, Art eyes
us, an elephant wild for
peanuts just beyond her
reach. Should the seekers
notice, they would dress her
statuesque in red and gold,
call her shrieks songs, make
obeisance. But they’re not
paying attention, and I don’t
care to see the spectacle.
My reasonable act of worship:
to remember she’d like to devour
me, and to fear that power.



Monday, October 15, 2007

Words I occasionally have trouble spelling

license
exercise
separate
conscious
some -ible word that I can't recall at present

I usually catch myself, but my first instinct is to misspell these words. Also, more often than not, I type to when I mean too and you when I mean your.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Two Years Ago...

video
I looked like a hippie and Aubie was a little tiny thing. I missed Mountain Day this past weekend (we're at Berry in the video for that very occasion), so I guess I'm a little sentimental.

But our boy will be able to enjoy it next year. Can you believe how small Aubs was? I love this funny little moment in time.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I can't believe he's really here.


Until I get new camera batteries, you'll just have to take my word for it on how adorable our new little monkey is. Or Heather's. Or the Douglases', though I believe Little Daniel was a mite disappointed that he wasn't a different color.
"Daniel want wittle owange baby right here" was one of his reactions at their hospital visit yesterday.
Can't wait to see Baby Douglas III--hopefully in a traditional baby hue.

Update: Cue Lavar Burton saying "You don't have to take my word for it." You can just look here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lost, lost, lost...

I've lost my marbles.

Well, not quite, but I'm kind of disturbed. Today I met with a career counselor from the Georgia Department of Labor, and we had a nice talk. She's offered to contact Mercer University Press (where her husband, now a prof at Macon State, once worked) to see if they have anything available. She's also going to work with me on making my resume better, something I've needed to do for some time but haven't really known what direction to take.

Why? Simple enough ... because I don't know where I'm going. I have a great Alice in Wonderland quote on my wall that kind of sums things up:
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

A: I don't much care where ...

CC: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
A: ... so long as I get somewhere.
CC: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
Lately the running theme at meetings like this one, informational interviews, and even initial job interviews, has been this question, or one like it:
So, Leah, what do you want to do?
"Heck if I know" sounds flighty and just plain sad for someone pushing 30, and it's not quite accurate. It's more like I have 17 possible directions that won't work right this second, at least not in the Middle Georgia area.

Plus a few directions I would have taken years ago if I'd been brave. I'll spare you the YGM quote that comes to mind.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Commendation


At the various Sovereign Grace conferences I've been privileged to attend, one truth has emerged for me: the leadership of this ministry is comprised of readers, and it is their expectation that growing Christians should be purposeful readers as well. To that end, they're always "commending" resources--seems like everyone uses that word. I guess it makes sense: if I've never heard of the book before, it's a commendation, not a re-commendation. Anyway, one of the books I heard commended long ago was Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald S. Whitney. I finally picked it up at this year's New Attitude conference, and I finally got around to reading it over the past few months (with long breaks along the way to read other things).

The foremost hindrance to my growth as a Christian, a writer, and anything else I've tried to be in my life is a lack of discipline. Though I know a lot about the Bible, I've been undisciplined in my study. Though I believe in the benefits of prayer, my prayer life has been iffy at best. And though I had heard of the various elements of Christian practice being called disciplines, it wasn't until I read this book that I gave much serious thought to the connection between my lack of discipline and my lack of victorious living. I mean, I did--I've been talking about my need to be more regular with "quiet times" since middle school--but I guess I never really allowed myself to envision growth as a process I could choose to get better at. Like disciplining myself in eating will not fail to effect changes in my body, disciplining myself in the spiritual disciplines "for the purpose of godliness" (1 Tim. 4:7) will not fail to change me inside ... I will be more godly as a result.

The book opens with an invitation to be disciplined with an end in mind, which shouldn't be a new idea to me, but somehow was:

Discipline without direction is drudgery.

Imagine six-year-old Kevin, whose parents have enrolled him in music lessons. After school every afternoon, he sits in the living room and reluctantly strums "Home on the Range" while watching his buddies play baseball in the park across the street. That's discipline without direction. It's drudgery.


Now suppose Kevin is visited by an angel one afternoon during guitar practice. In a vision he's taken to Carnegie Hall. He's shown a guitar virtuoso giving a concert. Usually bored by classical music, Kevin is astonished by what he sees and hears. The musician's fingers dance excitedly on the strings with fluidity and grace. Kevin thinks of how stupid and clunky his hands feel when they halt and stumble over the chords. The virtuoso blends clean, soaring notes into a musical aroma that wafts from his guitar. Kevin remembers the toneless, irritating discord that comes stumbling out of his.

But Kevin is enchanted. His head tilts slightly to one side as he listens. He drinks in everything. He never imagined that anyone could play the guitar like this.

"What do you think, Kevin?" asks the angel.

The answer is a soft, slow, six-year-old's "W-o-w!"

The vision vanishes, and the angel is again standing in front of Kevin in his living room. "Kevin," says the angel, "the wonderful musician you saw is you in a few years." Then pointing at the guitar, the angel declares, "But you must practice!"

Suddenly the angel disappears and Kevin finds himself alone with his guitar. Do you think his attitude toward practice will be different now? As long as he remembers what he's going to become, Kevin's discipline will have a direction, a goal that will pull him into the future. Yes, effort will be involved, but you could hardly call it drudgery.

Though this little story may have been a bit over the top, it got to me, because it reminded me that I've never had much spiritual discipline at all. And the reasons for that are on two extremes. Sometimes, like little Kevin, I have failed to visualize an end result to my practice, and my Christianity has instead be a list of shoulds. Worse still, I have sometimes seen myself as the virtuoso when I'm actually still plunking along on "Home on the Range."

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life includes chapters on Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning, and I found myself greatly challenged by each. Though the writing is occasionally dry, Whitney peppers the material with enough personal stories and imaginative little analogies like this one to keep this reader interested. My desire to grow in godliness through the spiritual disciplines has greatly increased with the reading of this book. I commend and recommend it.



Well, it's 70 dollars more than we had.


I am saddened to announce that I am finally over it. My love for yard sales (on the hosting end, that is) is over. Though I'm sure I will continue to frequent them throughout my life--even if I marry into money or get rich in some other fortuitous fashion--I don't feel tempted to have another one. Ever.

Or at least not until next spring, when we'll have free advertising again with the biannual Beaver Glen Homeowners Association Community Yard Sale. But only if I'm really, really broke.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Only my sister...

would know what kind of feeling I'm describing when I say, "This feels like a late-night club-sandwich supper at Disney World."

Only I would know what she means when she says, "This gum kinda tastes like Pine-Sol, like Mimi's on a Saturday."


How great to have a relationship with such specific similes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Aaaargh!

Well, Talk Like a Pirate Day was a bust yesterday. Daniel woke Saige up at 7:45 with a piratical phone call--he was hoping to get voicemail. When I tried to get in on the spirit, I came into Aubie's room with a flourish and said, "Aaargh, little lass, be ye talkin' like a pirate?" or something like that.

She ran away from me with a frown. Apparently, pirates are scary. At least the one we had seen at Sam's club the day before was. Maybe I sounded like him.

The description at samsclub.com
said, "This is not a toy and should be used for decoration only. Keep away from young children." Hmmm....It's pretty clear this is not a toy, and what else would children do with it? What else would you do with it? Post it as a scarecrow on your farm? Use it to practice the tango when your dance partner isn't available? Some warnings suggest weird possibilities.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why, yes, I AM a Relating Promoter

So I applied for the job of administrative assistant with the high school ministry at Ingleside, and they had me do a few online assessments, the Keirsey temperament sorter (I'm an Idealist Teacher) and this DISC thing I'd never heard of. On the latter, I didn't like many of the questions or the way it felt like you would look bad no matter what you picked (four choices per question with a choice of which you're most and least like, no in-betweens). After hating almost every question (not sure how many--just a 10-minute test) but trying to be as honest as possible, I got the most spot-on results I have ever gotten from such an assessment. Even if I don't get the job, it was worth applying for this amazing thing. It's long, but I'm gonna post the whole thing:

Leah prefers working for a participative manager. She does her best work in this kind
of environment. She likes feedback from her manager on how she is doing. She is most
likely to be at her best in situations where important things, such as values, judgments,
feelings and emotions are involved. She prides herself on her "intuition." She can be
friendly with others in many situations, but primarily with groups of established friends and
associates. She is sociable and enjoys the uniqueness of each human being. Leah can be
seen as a person of good will. She likes public recognition for her achievements. One of
her motivating factors is recognition and "strokes." She is usually filled with good
intentions, but often lacks the time to fulfill them. Her goal is to have and make many
friends. At work, she is good at maintaining friendly public relations. Leah influences most
people with her warmth. She can combine and balance enthusiasm and patience.

Leah will not be overlooked nor uninvolved. She will consistently try to inspire people
to her point of view. Because of her trust and willing acceptance of people, she may
misjudge the abilities of others. She prefers not disciplining people. She may sidestep
direct disciplinary action because she wants to maintain the friendly relationship. When
she has strong feelings about a particular problem, you should expect to hear these
feelings, and they will probably be expressed in an emotional manner. Leah likes to
participate in decision making. She is good at solving problems that deal with people. She
is good at giving verbal and nonverbal feedback that serves to encourage people to be
open, to trust her and to see her as receptive and helpful. She likes working for managers
who make quick decisions.

Leah judges others by their verbal skills and warmth. She can get emotional about
any subject in which she believes. She has a tendency, which she regards as an ability, to
talk smoothly, readily and at length. She may use her time imprecisely because she likes
to talk to people. Leah is highly excited by what influences her. It is important for Leah to
use her people skills to "facilitate" agreement between people. She tends to look at all the
things the group has in common, rather than key in on the differences. She tends to mask
some of her directness in friendly terms and is usually recognized as a friendly and trusting
person. She is good at negotiating conflict between others. Leah feels that "if everyone
would just talk it out, everything would be okay!"


UPDATE: I interviewed today, and I believe it went well. It was mostly a character assessment with some job stuff thrown in--you know those Baptists! I won't find out whether I'm moving on to Round 2 until the end of next week, though. In the meantime, I hope to be substituting while continuing to look for other leads. I'm supposed to get my sub badge in the next day or so.

Listen, if any of you hear of anything (besides childcare, Heather) that sounds promising, let me know. I'm open to suggestions for where to look next.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

More PowerPoint Creations

Several weeks ago, I was trying to come up with some ideas for ads in a few hours. Who knows why I decided to send off a popsicle-stick-and-paste production to a real advertising agency, but I figured they might be impressed with my ingenuity. If I can make interesting things using only Paint and Power Point on a PC (with no real knowledge of computers), surely I could do great things with the proper tools and training. Faulty logic, since advertising jobs are hard to come by and you usually have to have the polish of ad school, but it was fun whipping these up anyway. I created a fictional brand called unREAL that is honest about makeup's inherit dishonesty. They're for real with women about the masks we wear--and they're okay with it. Anyway, there will never be such a company, but if there were, I thought these would be good ads:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Taking orders


Here's the design I'm going to print on a t-shirt for Aubie soon.

The gal loves her pancakes.

Anybody else want one? A t-shirt, not a pancake. Of course, if it takes off like Pig in a Rose (which went international in June), I'll have to do another Google image search and find out who to get copyright permission from.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Carlos and Tammy

A few weeks ago, the subject of marrying a Mexican immigrant so that he could stay in the U.S. came up amongst some girlfriends--don't ask how; it doesn't matter. Many times I've looked at the couples in the grocery store or the bank, the tiny little Latino guy and the tall, fat white woman with stair-step kids trailing them. This particular coupling was more common in Rome than it is here, the large mills and factories a more attractive landing place for workers looking to stick around. And I've wondered: are any of them ever in love?

Our conversation made me think of a little homework assignment I had done on this very subject. We were supposed to copy the structure of a scene from the book we were reading, and since the book was originally written in Spanish, I chose to thematically relate my scene a tiny bit as well. I am no fiction writer, but I found that setting up a scene the way an author does helped me get the flow of a scene better. In the book I imitated, a scene opens with an announcement of what the two main characters, Irene and Franciso, are going to do, then cuts “back to the future”—what Francisco remembers about a past event, which, in the present action of the book, hasn’t happened yet. Then, the scene that should come next chronologically is jumped. As the scene continues, after the part I’m imitating, the characters tell their experience as a story, which the others discuss when they finish telling it. (I didn't get to that part--it was homework, so I rushed!) The whole situation, dialogue, characters, etc., are mine, I just copied structure.

Something wanted to make me keep going with these people, and not only finish the scene, but write a whole story, because the romantic in me wants to believe that some of those odd pairings at the grocery store are Carlos and Tammy. Misunderstood. But happy.

“Well, we could just get married. I imagine there are chapels in Gatlinburg that are open twenty-four hours. It’s the Vegas of the South as far as weddings go.”

Later, Tammy would laugh when she remembered that sudden dawning of realization in Carlos’s eyes. It was something the pop songs all try to translate into salable lyrics, concise bits of nonsense to describe that moment when the lights come on. She had even fewer words for it that night, when they were young and dumb, ready to get out of Rome and less in love than they were just anxious to do something. For him, it was all mixed up and had something to do with a future, with getting his mama and little sisters safe in Los Estados Unidos, come hell or high water. For her, it was about shocking all her relations and getting a fine hunk of brownness in the process. That real love could dawn so suddenly, well, it was crazy to think about now, and not a process she’d recommend for Rosalita or Greer or James. But that’s all it took—her joke did something in them both, just felt right. And without so much as a toothbrush they were headed the 200 miles north to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.


They got back around four in the afternoon on Monday. Carlos had Labor Day off from his job at the mill, but he hadn’t earned any vacation time yet, and with this new situation of theirs, he certainly couldn’t afford to lose it. When they walked into the kitchen, Momma was at the sink rinsing raggedy eggs as she chipped off their shells tiny bits at a time. She always used fresh eggs, against the warnings of the cooking shows, and the egg process was usually like this, ugly and slow. But her potato salad was a staple of holiday meals and church potlucks, loved and attempted by everybody. She gave out her recipe freely, but it never tasted quite the same unless Melba Greer fixed it. That yellow afternoon, chicken sizzled in the bubbling Fry Daddy, and the unmistakable scent of buttermilk biscuits made the kitchen smell like always, like home. Tammy stared at her mother’s round rump, the flour handprint on her black elastic-waist pants that her step-dad Bobby probably put there like an idiot.


The first thing Melba did when she finally turned around and saw them was pour two glasses of sweet tea. She didn’t hate Carlos, and she appreciated his humble respect for her Southern cooking, the way he complimented her biscuits and sweet tea. His first glass had been in her kitchen, and she was sure the one she poured wouldn’t be his last.


Tammy felt for the first time a little bit of what Saturday night’s adventure might mean. This warm kitchen—this kitchen with its memories of milk bubble-blowing contests with J.T.; of learning to make biscuits with Granny Jean; of watching Momma’s back as she fixed and fixed while she and J.T. sat at the table Grandaddy made for Momma’s first wedding, to Daddy; of slumping over math homework—might never again feel as much like home. She’d had a single-wide trailer on Nana’s land in Cartersville for about six months, but it wasn’t home yet, and that dinky kitchen where she made dinner for Carlos and Rio and Mike Sanchez sometimes when they came to visit had no atmosphere, could never be home. Momma would be angry, and she might tell them to stay away. Maybe for good. That afternoon, studying the back of her mother’s curly brown head as she chipped away at the eggs, Tammy felt more love for her than she ever had, and suddenly the weekend’s rebellion seemed a bit childish. But there was Carlos Paez at the kitchen table, sinewy arm crooked, guzzling golden-brown tea. Looking like a man. Like a husband. Like a papa.


“You two look like you been up to no good.” Bobby yawned as he walked into the kitchen, scratching his belly through a white t-shirt.


“We got married Saturday night.” Carlos beamed.


“What the—” Bobby started, jokingly, when a look from Melba told him he’d better not even think about cussing. So he just laughed.


Melba smiled, barely amused. She had noticed something in Tammy’s countenance she didn’t like, and though she thought this elopement most likely a joke, she didn’t want the truth just yet. Bobby would make a scene if it were true. He’d had just enough beer to make him testy.

“Carlos has certainly acquired a sense of humor, hasn’t he?”


“Yes, he has. We really ought to take you on the road, Baby,” Tammy shot him a look.


“A joke? Oh, okay. Tha’s right. Jus’ kidding.”


“Wait a second, Carlos,” said Bobby, looking, maybe for the first time, into his twinkling black eyes. “I’ve never known you to joke, Son…”

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

R.I.P.


I can remember his voice on Sunday mornings as a child, while I struggled to find a pair of lacy socks with the lace intact.

His E.E. program forms a big part of my memories from those early eighties years at Evergreen: Mom and Dad's blue books with the fish globe, Momma's little pin with the two questions, the ring of cards with all the great verses and illustrations for sharing the gospel, regular Tuesday night visitation.

The program was formulaic, yes, but those two simple questions are still great tools for getting to the heart of the matter:

1. Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die tonight you would go to heaven?

2.Suppose you were to die tonight and stand before God and He were to say to you, "Why should I let you into My heaven?" What would you say?

I'm glad he knew the right answer to them.

Goodbye, Dr. D. James Kennedy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Seeing

Well, I'm already bored with blogging, so I've been digging through some old stuff to find post material. This little piece is something I wrote back in 2004 for a short homework exercise. I think she just gave us the title, "Seeing." This is what I came up with:


“Y’all know I’m gonna flunk all them,” Dr. Dillard’s shocking statement rang out in Southern twang across the blank white space that was room 209. We had just heard again the shuffle of five or six pairs of feet down the linoleum of the hall, once again noticed the empty chairs where young men had been at the beginning of class. Old Dr. Dillard, more than legally blind in both eyes, with just enough vision to see something on a page if he stuck his face up really close to it with a magnifying glass, could not notice, could not inspect the empty seats. But he knew all the same. He had heard even better than we girls had those shuffles out of class, noted even more than we did the absence of male voices. All semester long, each of the five or so males in English 102 had made his exit long before class ended. At first, they left after the break, but towards the end of the semester they became more brazen, leaving after a few minutes if they chose to come at all. On this particular day they left right after an announcement about end-of-the-semester matters, just into the first few minutes of class. So he shared his plan.

I was always confused when I talked to my friend Traci about my feelings for Dr. Dillard. She had him in another section and absolutely adored him, even choosing to take him the next semester for 201. But I couldn’t stand his class. In fact, one of the most entertaining moments was when he dared those selfsame deserters with a question that was all too a propos: “Well, why don’t you just leave instead of sittin’ here list’nin’ to this lecture that goes on and on in a boring way-ee?”

I hated the way he made his coffee on his desk with those newfangled Folgers Singles, slowly dipping the bag up and down with his Stevie Wonder expression. I hated the way he slowly swept his tongue over his thin lips and lizard teeth. I hated the 68 he gave me on my first paper, even though I did end up with an A in the class. I hated the ugly age spots on his face and hands. But most of all, I hated the silence. He talked, then silence. He talked again, then silence. Nobody contributed anything to class, and that meant more of his boring lectures, more fighting the impulse to fall asleep on a man who couldn’t see it happening.

One day I realized that my hatred wasn’t really about his habits at all (though his teeth were quite ugly, and he licked them every day). It was really about my relationship with him, and even my relationship with his disability. The truth was, I didn’t know how to deal with him. As a freshman, I expected to either love and respect my teachers, or to dislike and be annoyed by them. Dr. Dillard didn’t fit into those neat categories. Instead, I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry that people tried to take advantage of him. I felt sorry that he couldn’t see. I felt sorry that his teeth were so pitiful, that he didn’t know how ugly he was.

And I didn’t know how to answer the question of why his class was so boring. I guess it didn’t occur to me (and even in my discussions with Traci it just didn’t seem possible) that he got a dud class, that even the most lively, spirited, seeing professor might not have inspired those boys who always left, those girls who wouldn’t speak. Instead my pity turned to irritation, and I obsessed over those little idiosyncrasies as if they were a real reason to dislike him, a real reason to write him off as a “bad teacher.”

But on this last day of class before the final, something changed. In his simple declaration to the rest of us of how he was going to have his revenge on those sneaky twerps, I glimpsed for just a moment a vision of the teacher I might’ve had, had his students been the class they should’ve been. My pity melted away, and I saw him for who and what he was. And in that moment of just pride, of joyful vindication, he had something of nobility about him. In that moment, he was almost beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Oh well.

This is sad.

Here goes.

Well, I guess I'd rather be a part of the club than not. I'm really jealous of Heather's list idea (Number Your Paper), so perhaps I'll have a list blog, too. Or a two-sentence-entry blog of random thoughts. Then when I get to 152 posts...SILENCE. I may not even last that long. But we'll see. Writing something every day is bettter than nothing.

I know none of my dear friends will have to ask the reason for the name, but lest any reader not recognize it and think I've suddenly gone Hallmarky, check out the inspiration .