Someone around here is going to have to help. (And I don't mean the dogs.)
Have you ever had a premonition? Oh, I know we’ve all had feelings now and then, like when your heart starts being unusually fast when an ambulance goes by when your TEEN is DRIVING somewhere in town. But I am talking about spooky feelings.
It was late in February on a snowy evening that I began to have one. I had been spending my nephew’s birthday with my sister and her family. They had tragically lost him a few weeks earlier and Sassy and I had gone back to spend what would have been his 17th birthday with the family.
We had an emotional few days, and on the night before I was to leave we gathered for the birthday dinner with loved ones. After dinner, while standing on a deck that he, his father and brother had recently finished building, we released 17 balloons filled with forget-me-not seeds and wishes of love and heartache into the crisp winter night.
That night, a storm blew in. It was a wicked nor’easter, and was predicted to dump quite a lot of snow along the eastern shore.
I was scheduled to leave the next morning, but had a nagging, nagging, horrible feeling that I wasn’t to go. It woke me up over and over during the night, and wouldn’t loosen it’s grip upon my fearful heart.
I’m not talking about a bad dream, or being afraid. I had a HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE feeling that I was NOT to drive the next day.
Well, I listened to that voice. I was stranded for a few days as the storm came in, caused quite a bit of chaos as people who were to picked up here and there were not- but as soon as the decision was made I felt a great weight lifted.
I have learned to listen to my feelings.
Once, when I was 25, my widowed mother came to visit me in California. We spent a fun-filled, crazy week shopping at every Goodwill and Thrift Shop in the greater San Diego area. We giggled, we laughed, we ate TONS of Mexican food, we raved over bargain purchases, and held each other for seven glorious days.
When we dropped her off at the airport for her flight back to Orlando, I watched in the car as her plane took off. Suddenly, I started sobbing. I cried my heart out, and my friend looked at me incredulously.
“What are you DOING?” he asked.
I continued to weep… and finally managed to say, “I have a horrible feeling that I’ll never see her again.” He laughed.
And less than two months later, my 48 year-old mother was dead.
Yeah. I tend to listen to those feelings.
Dear anonymous commenter named Fail,
Generally when kindergarten goes out to recess, many of the primary classes are out there as well. On Friday, some of the first grade teachers were standing with the kindergarten teachers as we watched the kids play on the only available area that WASN'T covered in snow!
Two little girls were playing next to us, when their first grade teacher, Mrs. Jackson, asked Susie this question: "Susie, who was your teacher last year? "
To which she replied, "It was Mrs. Smythe.....she looks like you."
Her friend, "Yeah,...'cept she was nice!"
Vodkamom's to-do list for the weekend:
1. Wash the four hundred loads of laundry that are strewn across the laundry room floor, hallway, and hampers. (Before Bitchy gets home with hers.)
2. Fold said laundry. (Without getting any DOG hair on it. Free to a good home- two loud, barking dogs.)
3. Scream at the unsuspecting teenagers (and several pre-teens) that are randomly laying around the place eating you out of house and home that you need help putting AWAY said laundry.
4. Let Sassy know (without screaming) that she has to dust, vacuum and generally clean the house if she ever wants to drive my car again. (Oh, and tell her she needs to FILL THE TANK.)
5. Finish said book proposal that you’ve been working on for six months. (Shhh. It’s a secret.)
6. Try to not say anything to an "on edge" Tightwad about finding a job. (Unless you have those earplugs handy.)
7. Answer the phone when it rings off the hook today, and perhaps pay one or two of those relentless bill collectors. (Honestly, it seems they need money every dang MONTH.)
8. Get your butt to the gym and work on losing that 20 (okay, 30) pounds. Right now.
9. Throw away all the bar-b-que chips. (Wait. Does anyone have any dip?)
10. Find a clever way to remind people that they can vote on Babble every day, without offending anyone.
11. Take clever "parts" pictures to post on my blog tomorrow.
12. Go to the "candy" store for more supplies. (Get the large bottle this time.)
13. Take five or six Aleve and get to work.
Did I forget anything?
I just wanted to thank you for my exciting ride/walk to work this morning.
There is NOTHING quite like the feeling of “maybe I’ll run out of gas” that gets your heart pumping in the morning.
Oh, and when that orange gas light (that is located near the E setting on the gas gauge) comes on, you are supposed to put gas IN. You are not to go all the way to work and BACK without telling your mother she needs gas.
And that three blocks (in the newly fallen snow) I had to walk to get to my school when my car died? That totally cancelled out my trip to the gym tonight. And I’m thinking that since I had to carry my teacher bag, my computer and all the snacks for the 100th day of school party as well, it means no weight lifting needed, either.
A word of caution - don’t ask me to borrow the car for awhile. I’m still pissed.
I have GOT to take a moment to give a huge shout-out to my guardian angel, Marguarite. (As I was leaving the session with my medium, she said, “You know you have a guardian angel, right? Her name is Marguarite. She takes good care of you.”)
Well, she kicks BUTT. And, as most of you know, she has her work cut out for her. I keep her on her toes DAILY, and am often reminded of her presence.
While attending the writing conference (Blissdom) in Nashville, I was given a task by Bitchy and Sassy.
“PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bring us make-up. If there are any sponsors there with make-up, we would LOVE some.”
Imagine my delight that morning when I noticed several lovely young ladies setting up a Cover Girl booth right outside the Presidential Ballroom on the first day of the conference! After talking with an amazing girl named Brooke Austin, I learned that they were preparing the booth to give “smoky-eye makeovers” to those of us who were patient enough to wait in line.
The demonstration wasn’t slotted to begin until around 4:00, and it was 10:00 a.m. I couldn’t help but keep track of their progress as the day unfolded, and took advantage of every opportunity to BEG the girls for make-up. They were very polite each and every time they denied me.
I was so obsessed with trying to get make-up, that I was driving my roommates and the girls at the booth CRAZY. (Mothers of teen girls, you KNOW that we need all the help we can get in keeping these hormonal teens human.)
In the end I stood in line with the throngs of excited woman, made some new friends and enjoyed a fun make-over. I was resigned to the fact that free Cover Girl make-up was not in the cards. I was comforted by the fact that Harry Connick Jr. was going to be singing to us later that night.
I was awakened the next morning by one of my very excited roommates, Melanie.
“Vodkamom, GUESS WHAT? You know there are 9,000 rooms in this monster of a hotel, right? There are many wings, restaurants, shops, conference rooms, rivers and BOAT RIDES! Well, guess what? Last night I discovered that the Cover Girl Reps that you’ve been stalking are in the room next door. NEXT DOOR TO US!”
“WHAT????????????” I screamed like a little girl on Christmas morning who’d found a PONY under her tree!
“I said, the Cover Girl reps are NEXT DOOR.”
I FLEW out of the bed, grabbed the LAST TWO BOTTLES of product that my incredible sponsor had sent to the conference, and decided that perhaps a trade was in order!
I ran out into the hall, said a prayer and knocked.
The two lovely ladies who answered were thrilled with the trade, and happy to hand over the last of some samples they hadn’t used the previous day.
And Marguariate? When I see you (which I hope will be years from now) I am giving you a huge, huge, huge kiss!!
Sometimes life has a funny way of working out.
Numerous presenters and speakers at the Blissdom conference reminded the audiences of the many ways that people can make their blogs successful. After my harrowing near-death experience, I’m hoping that I can remember SOME of them.
Here are the top five things one needs to do to have a successful blog.
1. Make sure your blog is NOT cluttered.
2. Include a lot of pictures of your home, your family, your pets and your life.
3. Build your community of readers by responding to their comments in your comment section and building a dialogue.
4. Ask questions at the end of your posts to ensure a comment by forcing them to answer the question.
5. Frankly, I think I lost a portion of my brain out on that snowy road to Washington, because I can’t REMEMBER the rest. I think it has something to do with NOT twittering that you have a post because it's TACKY, but I can't be sure. (Wait, hold on, I'm twittering that I have a post. Okay, I'm back.)
So, basically I have never done ANY OF these. My blog is as cluttered as my kindergarten classroom. It reflects my hectic, chaotic, busy life, and the fact that I love to have a lot of things to display! Also, who says I can’t have that big followers box? Is it wrong to display everyone’s names? And why don’t the big name bloggers have their blogrolls on the FRONT of their blogs? Are they too good for that? Honestly, I don’t get it. In kindergarten we learn the BASIC art of sharing, and the Golden Rule.
I do love to see photos when I visit other blogs. (Suzy- you have to start stalking other comics and snapping away. The Enquirer has NOTHING on you, girl.) The whole “anonymity” thing I have to maintain has KIND of put a crimp in the old “including photos” requirement. So, I’ve decided to show PARTS of my life. Below are parts of my horrible, wonderful children, the loud barking dogs that are FREE to a good home, my favorite window and my favorite lamp. You may decide which is which.
I don’t POSSIBLY have the time to respond to my comments in my comments, and yet I always try to reply if your “handle” is linked to your email address. (You can do that in the “edit preferences section” of your blog. I HIGHLY recommend that.) I don't understand how people who work for a living, have numerous children and clean their OWN houses, can possibly participate in all of the conversations occurring around the blogosphere. I bow to you. Honestly.
Now, as far as asking questions - how about this.
What’s your favorite dinner with ground beef? (I need some help for tonight's menu.)
What’s your sign?
Will we get any snow this winter? WILL WE???
There, I’m now officially on the road to success.
A conversation that occurred between two little fellas in kindergarten in Smythe, Oregon today:
“When my dad was little, all he could see was black and white! Then, when he was a teenager, he could start to see color!”
I KNOW I’m supposed to be working on more Blissdom posts, but I am still laughing about this one.
Typically when someone shares exciting details about a trip, they start at the beginning.
I’m not your typical storyteller. I like to start at the finish line.
Most of the day Saturday, folks attending the conference were getting text messages or emails from their airline carrier indicating that their flights in to any east coast airport had been cancelled. All carriers, that is, except mine. United. Not only was I on hold MOST of the day (“your expected wait time is five billion hours…”) every time I checked online it indicated that MY flight was scheduled to leave on time. I know, I know, I should not have believed that MY flight was the only one that they were allowing to take off and land, but I remained hopeful.
I woke up at 5:30, showered, dragged my five TON, five bags of luggage through the small city called “Opryland” and ran to make the 6:30 shuttle. I walked to the United check-in area, conveniently located at the FAR END of the Nashville airport, and was instantly greeted with a large sign that said, “All flight to Washington/Dulles Airport have been cancelled.” Then, my phone rang. (7:00 a.m)
“This is United Airlines. Your flight has been cancelled.” Oh, really? REALLY?
I stood in line behind several billion people (or twenty) and waited for one of the TWO ticket agents who were handling a throng of crabby, crabby, crabby travelers. When it was finally my turn, I realized I was going to speaking to the ONE ticket agent that we had all discovered by now, was NEW.
My only option, after naming every airport even REMOTELY close to Smythe, Oregon, was to fly Monday afternoon into Dulles Airport. (Don’t ask about the geography, people. Don’t ask.)
I took my ticket, my five heavy pieces of luggage, and dragged myself to the opposite end of the airport where I had discovered a small Starbucks after my earlier flight into Nashville. I sat, dejectedly, and sipped my red-eye.
What were my options? I was pretty much out of cash, and I knew my credit cards did not have enough room for the expense of another night in Nashville. I COULD have twittered and joined the many who were still stranded back at Opryland, but the thought of going backwards instead of forwards brought me down.
Then, I had a feeling in my heart that I should head back to the ticket counter. It was a nagging feeling, but I tend to listen to those. I grabbed my bags, held my coffee carefully, and went back to the OPPOSITE end of the terminal, splashing my red-eye all over the front of my coat as I went.
The line by now had doubled, but I kind of sidled my way towards the fella who issued my previous ticket. He was helping another woman who was about at the end of her rope. He quickly looked at me- hoping for a distraction, and told the woman I was in the same boat. She said she HAD to get back to Dulles, where her vehicle was parked, and HAD to get to another business meeting the next morning. She turned to me and said, “Are YOU trying to get to Dulles?” I nodded my head.
“Well then,” she said, “I am RENTING a car and driving. It’s only about a ten or eleven hour drive. Are you in?”
To which I replied, “Yep. I’m all in.”
After several tries, we found an agency that had some cars left and rented a Dodge Charger. Now, this MIGT be the most opportune time to reveal that I am NOT a good passenger. I was involved in several very bad car accidents when I was young- one that resulted in a shaved head and many stitches. I am STILL to this day a horrible passenger, and anyone who knows me just lets me drive without question.
As we were leaving the airport, I tried to explain this to "Jane" and she just nodded her head and told me I’d be fine. She traveled all the time with her job, and this was a piece of cake.
And the first ten hours WERE. We talked, we shared, we laughed and we were surprised at how much we had in common. I have to say that being in a car with this person was a lucky break. She was ALSO a fabulous driver. And I do not say that lightly.
We took turns, and by the time we turned onto Route 66 into the Washington area, I was behind the wheel. That MIGHT have been a tiny mistake.
The roads were covered with blowing snow, and the trucks and cars were plowing through regardless. I tried to maneuver the car through this mess as best I could. In the meantime, Jane kept saying little things like, “Don’t BRAKE!!! Don’t BRAKE!!!”, or “Do NOT flick your high beams off and on!!!” and “PULL OVER RIGHT NOW!!! PULL OVER!!!!”
Yeah. I managed to find an exit and pulled over into a service station. She put her hand out for the keys and jumped out of the car. I got out, and went inside where I promptly burst into tears. After a few minutes I gathered myself and went to the car. She was sitting in the driver’s side, and I hesitated. When I went to get in the car was locked. LOCKED. She unlocked it and let me in.
“Are you okay?” She asked. “I thought you were a strong independent woman?”
“I am. I’m just a bit wimpy about driving in a raging blizzard with trucks and cars strewn in the ditches as we go by!”
I put my coat over my head, reclined the seat, and cried for the next 30 minutes as she navigated us safely into Dulles. She was phenomenal. I was not.
We managed to make it to the rental car drop off, where a Spanish speaking individual took MORE money that we had planned, and drove us to the snow covered extended parking garage. He unloaded us and all of our luggage, and took off.
There we stood - surrounded by THREE FEET OF SNOW, with no elevator in sight. We needed to get to the TOP of the garage, and to the opposite end. It had to be ten blocks long.
Well, we managed, dragging our luggage through dirty snow, and found her Lincoln Navigator. We met my brother-in-law at a tiny service station that was located at the entrance, and Jane practically threw me out of the vehicle and into his truck.
“She’s all yours.”
This a quick recap of “Things I Learned at Blissdom”, because I am busy UNPACKING, SHOVELING massive amounts of snow, and paying some quality attention to my family. (Much to their chagrin.) I’ll had some hilarious details once I manage to wrestle the laptop away from my technology deprived children in about five billion hours.
1. Always count the number of people you promised to room with after conducting a massive search on Twitter. Odds are great that you’ll end up with way more people that you have room for. (Thank God they had cots. And who needed room to move around, anyway?)
2. If you press the “Get it Now” button on the hotel phone TOO many times, they’ll get wise and start ignoring you.
3. Remember to take the colored do-hickies off the garments you purchased at Goodwill. They are a dead giveaway.
4. When flights home are cancelled, United Airlines will only have two people manning their ticket counters and ONE of them will be new. (And because I’m so lucky, guess which one I got? Yeah.) And the harrowing fourteen-hour drive in a rental car with a complete stranger? We'll share more about THAT later.
5. When you are away from home for six days, your family WILL miss you.
And that screaming, barking, hectic craziness of your life? Well, hand me those red sparkly shoes, cause there is NO place like home.
My father died when he was 58 years old.
While that in itself is devastating, the fact that I was too young to care about family history is now almost equally difficult.
My father’s parents died young, and he was an “orphan” when he (at 36 years of age) married my mother. His father died first, of an apparent heart attack, and it was rumored that when my grandmother passed on several weeks later it was from a broken heart.
While rummaging through the corners of my attic crawl space just a few months ago, I discovered an old, worn yellow folder. Inside where beautifully handwritten pages that told an amazing story about that woman who would have been my grandmother.
My aunt Jimmy sent this “gift” to her brother’s children one Christmas when we were too young to appreciate it – or remember it.
Imagine my incredible surprise when I sat on the floor of the attic that chilly Saturday and opened this treasure. Inside, on the first page was the name of my Grandmother, and this.
“Gladys Ruth McKinney Marsh”
March 22, 1892 – January 14, 1950.
Her birthday and Sassy’s are on the SAME DAY.
And her age when she passed?
Each morning in kindergarten we do a mystery word. I write a word on the board that often relates to what we’re studying (right now we are doing animals) and I cover each letter with a brightly colored strip of construction paper. I unveil a letter at a time, and the kids shout out their guesses very loud and repeatedly, until finally I reveal the LAST LETTER!
It’s loud, chaotic and so much FUN. At one point I had uncovered the first two letters of our mystery word (WALRUS) and stopped the children to talk about what the possibilities could be. (There were six strips of paper, four more left, blah, blah, blah.)
My friend Jack raised his hand (THAT was a miracle in itself) and said, “Mrs. Smith, I think this mystery calls for PLASTIC MESHERS!”
Yep. I agree, Jack. (And for those of you out there who need an interpreter – I believe he meant DRASTIC MEASURES. J )
Not long after I started blogging, I stumbled upon an amazing blogging community called SITS. It's a gathering place - a network, if you will, where bloggers support each other and visit each other in order to make new friends, and discover new blogs! (If you haven't visited and haven't participated yet GET OVER THERE!!!)
Today is finally the day that I get to host an OPEN HOUSE of sorts! I've showered, I'm wearing a BRAND new outfit from the Goodwill, and I am chilling the cheapest bottle of wine (and when I say wine I really mean vodka) that I could afford.
Now, pull up a chair while I pour you nice glass - and you can browse some posts I've selected for your reading pleasure!
I'll slip in some humor, some confessions, and some spooky encounters that still give me goosebumps.
Dream a little dream of me.......
The measure of a man....
How to Gross out Your Daughter...
We DO learn stuff in kindergarten...
Thanks for stopping! And can you PLEASE take a dog with you when you leave? They NEVER bark, and stay in the front yard when they run away.......
A note to my darling sister,
I’ve been writing and re-writing this post for many days now, and I find I am at a loss to adequately express the feelings in my heart.
I know you read my blog every day, and that you cherish the stories that bring a smile to your face - and that you look forward to that ray of sunshine in the morning.
So, on this day I will not tell you about how my heart breaks for you, or how sometimes late at night I can still picture the handsome face of our dear boy – who is surely watching over you and your family as you continue to make your way through this painful and heartbreaking path.
I WILL tell you that he is surely so proud of the way you have conducted yourself- with your head held high and with a smile on your face. It is a testament to the goodness in your heart, and the belief that you will be together once again.
Remember the day at Misquamicut beach, when we were all sitting on the shore as the waves grew and pounded their way onto the beach? I was SO worried about Golden Boy, who was still new at body surfing and was the only one who could stand the minus ZERO degree temperature of your New England water. I asked “Robbie” to go and tell him to be careful!
He smiled, jumped up and RAN out to the water. He said something to Golden Boy, came back to shore and sat next to me smiling from ear to ear. Then, I saw Golden Boy swim out FARTHER, and ride a wave in. My heart STOPPED and I stood up in shock.
“What did you TELL HIM??” I asked Robbie.
“I told him it only worked if you went much FARTHER out into the ocean!” And he laughed and laughed.
That is a lesson that I have held close to my heart these last three years.
Even though we can stay close to shore and be safe, it isn’t until we venture out where we feel uncomfortable – that we truly live- and we truly learn.
This lesson, which I have held close to my heart these last three years, is one that has changed the path that my life is taking. Although he was with us for almost 17 years, he has touched more people than we will ever know.
And I want you to know that I don’t think of you, and pray for you JUST on this day- but every single day.