Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nine Is Enough

I am writing this remotely while traveling through East Texas. Bama and I are in a black Dodge Ram with my folks and their dog Buddy, en route to home from a busy and crazy family reunion in DeRidder, Louisiana. My dad is the youngest of 9 kids, who each have big families of their own, so you can imagine why I felt like I was in the middle of the Duggar Family TV Show (that wacky family with 19 kids).

It is easiest to go by numbers in this family when writing about them, with 1 being the oldest kid and 9 being the youngest. We got there on Friday afternoon and chilled out, in preparation of the insanity that was to come on Saturday morning. Aunt No. 5 and I swapped funny stories and she told me a doozy about my sweet Aunt No. 3. Once upon a time in the mid-70s, No. 3 went to visit No. 5 where she was living the hot single life. No. 3 had never tried alcohol before, so No. 5 (who preferred shooting straight whiskey) recommended screwdrivers, that seemed harmless enough. Four or five screwdrivers later, No. 3 was telling everyone she could get her hands on that she was drinking "pliars." She even yelled at the drive-thru guy at McDonald's, telling him all about her "pliars". Knowing sweet little No. 3, this is just too good.

I walked into the kitchen to visit with my Grandma and a girl walked into the house, kissed my Grandma hello and gave me a hug and said it was good to see me. I have never seen this girl in my life, so I told my Grandma that I had no idea who that was, and she said, "Well, neither do I!" Oh, brother. See what I mean? Haha...

Then my favorite uncle (No. 4) got there, along with his entourage. You would have to see this strapping man, who works with his hands and has a glass eye, to fully appreciate the entourage which consists of two of the fluffiest, frou-frouest Shih Tzus you have ever seen and his girlfriend of over 13 years. It is always good to see Uncle No. 4 because he is so kind and so funny.

Then it got to be time to take a quick nap, so my mom and I took my 4 year old cousin to our RV for some rest and had to play a game with her to get her to rest. This extremely clever game, created by yours truly, the BBE (Best Babysitter Ever), consists of a contest where we see who can keep their eyes closed the longest. Well this worked for a little while, and by a little while I mean 15 minutes. Everyone stayed up late, swapping stories about our family and discussing the ins and outs of Gary Coleman's death, but yours truly took my tired bootie to bed super early. I had to do everything necessary to prepare for Insanity Day.

I awoke Saturday morning with the same anticipation one would have on the first day of school and dressed in my hot weather best. 13 years in this family has taught me that there are many cameras around and these photos always get framed. So I busted out the liquid eyeliner and some lipstick, while simultaneously attempting to not look like a streetwalker.

Before I knew it, there were over 65 people inside and outside my grandparents' home. What freaked me out the most was that I was looking at kids who aren't kids anymore. I have rarely had the moment when I see kids who were 5 years old the last time I saw them and are now in high school. Talk about freaking me out.... sheesh.

I did "girly things" with my niece, who, as it turns out, is a fantastic makeup artist. I put beautiful makeup on my beautiful girl. I put some gorgeous silver eye shadow on her and some "cat eye" eyeliner. After getting my fair share of blue eye shadow applied to my eyelids, we settled in and played games on my iPhone. I love that girl, and I love my nephew, who is hilarious! And so intelligent. Those are some good kids. I'm so proud.

I ate some of the best, worst-for-you food that I have eaten in a long time. If you know me personally, you may know that I am a semi-vegetarian, who strives for full vegetarianism every day, but only succeeds approximately 6 out of the 7 days of the week. I ate boudin sausage, which was amazing. I ate plates of potato salad, which were amazing. I ate four, count them: FOUR, desserts! Wow... So I'm still trying to come out of my food coma. I ate a caprese salad for dinner, so I'm somewhat back on track.

What a fantastic time. I am so appreciative to my grandparents who made this such a great weekend, especially my Pawpaw. He's so wonderful. What a great family I lucked into.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Best Kept Secret

A wise woman once said that the secret to a happy marriage lies within the 4 F's:


You need to have Fun. I list this first because this is the easiest thing to spot right away. I have been on fun dates and I have been on dates where I wanted to find a rock to climb under just because that seemed like it might be more fun. I picture myself growing old with someone I have fun with because I personally cannot go a day without a big belly laugh. Usually I end up cracking myself up throughout the day but I sure love it when somebody can make me smile and laugh.

Faith/Fellowship is so important. If you don't believe the same things, then you are just asking for trouble. I once made the difficult decision to stop seeing a very nice guy because he refused to go to church with me. I am aware that I may have been jumping the gun a little bit, but I am not marrying a man who doesn't go to church. If he isn't going now, that is not something I can change. Nor do I want to. I just don't have the time or patience to try to change someone. I have always said that we are who we are. People don't change. Besides, I am not going to be getting the kids up for church in the morning and telling them how important church is, only to get this in reply, "Then why doesn't Daddy have to go?" No thanks.

You have to put the other person First. I have had enough of seeing people put their jobs, their hobbies, whatever else, in front of their significant other. You are spending your life with this person, so I think they deserve to take the top spot in your list of priorities. I'm going to take this one step further, however, and say that both people need to collectively put God first and then the other person directly underneath God. See, here's how I picture the organizational chart playing out:
Yeah I said it, the kids go on the 3rd rung. The way I look at it is this: Those kids are going to be out of the house one day and I don't want to be sitting across the kitchen table from someone who I don't know the first thing about, because the kids have been the priority for all those years. I have seen way too many marriages collapse after the kids leave. I'm no expert, but I have a suspicion that it has something to do with putting kids and everything else before your spouse.

Finally, you have to be Friends. I look forward to the day where I get to hang out with my best friend every single day. This person needs to be your go-to person for everything good, bad, indifferent, ugly, whatever, that you want to talk about. That is going to be pretty awesome.

It's a simple formula, really, and it works.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fathers, Be Good To Your Daughters

The oh-so-poetic John Mayer once told the fathers of the world to be good to their daughters. This is because, according to Mr. Mayer, the daughters will love like they do. I have found this to be true for both of my cases. You see, I have two fathers. One abandoned us when I was very young and the other came in and rescued us, in a sense.

Sometimes I am slow to love others. That is one thing I learned from my first father. I have found myself at times to be guarded and gun shy, as if I’m going to be hurt beyond recognition. I guess I just remember what it was like the first time I had my heart broken by a man. Twenty years later, it’s still not all the way back together. Nothing has ever been as bad as that first heartbreak, and I hope it stays that way. That heartbreak, however, hardened me a bit. So now in my adult years, I have the ability to always handle heartache with stride. I’m proud of myself when I am able to hold back tears and not fall apart at the worst times. Because whatever the current situation is, I have been through worse. He taught me that.

My second father loves his family more than anything, and I adopted those ideals immediately. I can see him in myself in so many ways, even though he wasn’t in our lives until I was a teenager. When I finally do open up my heart to someone, I find myself loving them the way he and my mom love each other. I’m proud of myself when I can be so unconditionally loving and caring. He and my mom taught me that.

The song resonates with me, “Oh you see that skin? It’s the same she’s been standing in since the day she saw him walking away. Now she’s left, cleaning up the mess he made.” I always feel something in my chest when I hear that line, because it feels like he is describing me. Some people say that a daughter’s relationship with her father is the model for all of her subsequent relationships with men. If you were given a less than perfect model, does that mean a life of less than perfect men? Sometimes it does. But the opposite is true for me. The actions of my first father made me incredibly picky because I refuse to end up with someone who will hurt me and our kids and leave us in his dust, picking up the pieces.

Every girl needs to be picky until she finds that man who is solid. Bonnie Raitt said it best: “I ain’t looking for the kind of man who can’t stand a little shaky ground. He’ll bring me fire and tenderness, and have the guts to stick around.”

I have been thinking about fathers today because it is my second father’s birthday. He has been a saint for our family and I hope he knows how loved he is.

Oh, and one more thing before you go. I can’t forget to mention that other father, the most important one of all. He is the true definition of unconditional love and kindness and I am thankful to Him every single day for getting me through the pain of my early years to make me strong, teaching me valuable lessons to make me wise, and for bringing that saint of a stepfather to us to help us see what a real man is made of. I am so thankful.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

He Has a Need. A Need for a Needy Girl.

My best friend, Fitz, and I were talking the other day (the one who recently lost that pesky 205 pounds by kicking her deadbeat boyfriend to the curb). She and I get our good talking in when I’m walking Bama and she is winding down from a day of school teaching. It’s funny, how does it happen that two such smart women talk about boys more than anything? It's like seventh grade with bank accounts.

We came to a conclusion during our most recent conversation. Seems like a large majority of men out there are looking for something that she and I can’t be. And that’s a needy girl. You know the type, and it turns out that they almost always have a doting boyfriend, ready to meet every single need (no matter how trivial or massive).

So that’s what is attractive now? Being completely clingy and needy? Her ex has moved on to a girl who needs him to provide as much care as a person provides a 13-month-old, or a pet. Years ago, my ex moved on to a girl who needed a place to live and someone to pay for everything her unemployment didn’t cover.

When did emotional and financial independence make its way onto the “turn-off list”? Apparently, owning your own home and making your own cash money is a bit intimidating, not to mention emotional independence. Now don’t get me wrong, I have some issues. I can be a mindfield at times. But I can put my big girl panties on and handle myself. Pushing those issues off on a guy and making them his problem is not the answer. Not that I don’t love it when my guy can listen to me and even offer a word of advice, but I don’t need him in order to make it through stuff. That’s the point.

I will never be that girl who practically needs to be placed in a straight jacket when faced with a breakup. If a guy doesn’t want to date me anymore, then he needs to move it on down the road and leave me alone. I will never grovel and cry for someone to stay simply because I feel like I need him so badly. That’s just unhealthy. See also: get back together because I think I won't survive otherwise.

Speaking of needs, this is all I actually need. (1) God; and (2) Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, all-consuming love. It all boils down to those two things. Because that’s the thing about needs. Once you have them met, everything else falls into place.

And then there are the small needs. Sometimes you need counterspace in his bathroom to store your emergency beauty items so you can go from sitting on the couch to a nice restaurant on the drop of a hat. And how about a spot in his fridge for your soy milk? While we’re making more space, why not give us a little more than a small corner of his heart? It’s high time these guys give as much of their hearts to us as we give them.

More than anything, us amazing women should be looking for a man who doesn’t need us to survive and doesn’t want us to need him in that unhealthy way.

Once you find this, then you will realize that you can’t live without each other. In the healthy way.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

These Guys are Morons.

I have two best friends. And each of them has endured a breakup over the last two weeks. What gives?

I just got home from performing one very important duty bestowed upon me as a best friend: listening. This amazing girl was involved in a breakup sabotage this evening. Sometimes I can see how both parties contributed to The Breakup, but in this case, he’s an idiot making a huge mistake. What makes people short-sighted? So much so that they cannot see the person in front of them, who is a hell of a catch and most likely the best thing they could ever hope to spend their time with? Gosh, it makes me so mad.

My other best friend finally ended eight years of dating the wrong guy. She has been celebrating her “205 pound weight loss”. I’m thrilled she is finally on board with the idea that he isn’t for her. I have full confidence that he will be great for someone else. Just not my best friend. Ever. Again.

We’re dealing with two totally different situations. One girl is celebrating and one is saying “WTF?!” But the emotions change after a few days, and once you get to a place where you feel like yourself again, you are subjected to the possibility of seeing that person and the heartache raring its ugly head again.

You know, seeing someone for the first time after you break up is the worst. You never know how to act. And then there's the vomit. But maybe that’s just me. It’s horribly awkward and never easy. The only thing that makes it bearable is if (a) YEARS have passed, and (b) you are on the arm of a much more amazing person. But that isn’t usually the way it works out for me.

The last time this happened, I was sporting third-day hair, was in workout clothes (not my cute ones) and was in Albertson’s with my coupon clipboard. Oh and did I mention the zits on my chin that were about the size of Peru? Talk about sexy. And I talk fast when I’m nervous, so after sputtering out approximately 400 words in 30 seconds, I tucked tail and ran away with my cart, only to knock into a display of seedless watermelons. I turned around and he was watching me, completely amused. He and I stood there and laughed for a good 10 minutes. And now we’re cool. I guess that’s what it takes sometimes.

After all, some relationships fall apart. God does that on purpose. He isn't going to keep you in a relationship with someone who isn't the right one for you. Eventually, He will intervene and take care of business. I know... that doesn't make it much easier when it actually ends. The best we can do is breath and reboot. I find it helpful to pour a glass of wine, put on Cat Steven’s “Wild World”, and sing it loud.

Now that I've lost everything to you
You say you wanna start something new
And it's breakin' my heart you're leavin'
Baby, I'm grievin'
But if you wanna leave, take good care
Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear
But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there

Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
It's hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
and I'll always remember you like a child, girl

You know I've seen a lot of what the world can do
And it's breakin' my heart in two
Because I never wanna see you sad, girl
Don't be a bad girl
But if you wanna leave, take good care
Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware

Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
It's hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
and I'll always remember you like a child.