Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Monday, December 07, 2015

We say happy holidays

Monday, December 07, 2015 By

Grumpy, Angry and Jerky are not names of reindeer, people.
AUGUSTA, GA. - I see you, bumper sticker. I see you everywhere I go. That little rectangle with one simple sentence that seems to adorn every big, white SUV that cuts me off in traffic.

"We say Merry Christmas."

Well, that's super great. I say "Happy Holidays."

No, really. That's great. You can say whatever you like in this big ol' melting pot of a nation. It doesn't bother me one whit. But, apparently, I bother the heck out of other people with my "Happy Holidays." Even without a bumper sticker.

"Happy holidays!" I chirped at someone recently, as we ended a friendly conversation.

She frowned and waved her hand in a short, chopping motion.

"We say merry Christmas," she said, a thin, tight smile on her lips.

"Cool," I said. "We say happy holidays. Have a great one!"
And I waved cheerfully and walked away.

When did this become a conflict?
It's not the first time I've had this exchange in the last couple of years. And I'm not fool enough to debate someone with an aggressive agenda. There's no winner in that. I actually have no agenda whatsoever in this. So I walk away from that contrived conflict.

I'm off to have some happy holidays.

How can I walk away from that conversation without a care in the world? Because I'm completely not bothered that we say different things. Because that's not even a thing.

Do you hear what I am saying? It. Is. Not. Even. A. Thing.
It's not an issue that I say happy holidays.
It's not an issue that you say merry Christmas.

It's no big deal if someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah.
It would be lovely to receive wishes for a happy Bodhi Day.

I don't celebrate Hanukkah or Bodhi Day or Kwanzaa or Yalda or Ashura. But I would hope that someone who does celebrate one of those holidays would like my time during those holidays to be happy.

Let's all be friends.
I grew up in Georgia, in a Christian family (word up, Presbytery!), headed by two parents who were both from the South and from Christian families. We attended church regularly.

And we said happy holidays.


Because it's accurate. Because it's inclusive.

Back then - back in those "old days" some folks are always wanting us to get back to - people started saying "Happy Holidays" around Thanksgiving. I always thought of it as a shorthand way of saying "Happy Thanksgiving, merry Christmas, and happy New Year - and if you don't celebrate any of those, just happy whatever you do celebrate." It was nice. It was friendly. It was respectful. It was a way of including your friends and neighbors in the spirit of the holidays without judging them for what they do or don't believe.

I don't know at what point being nice, friendly, respectful and inclusive stopped being part of our national values. No, really, at what point did our nation collectively decide that inviting all of our friends and neighbors to share in peace on earth and goodwill towards men is just irritating?

Who has time for this nonsense?

Part of our country's founding principles is the freedom to worship in whatever faith we choose. And I love this country. So it doesn't bother me when someone else says something different during the holiday season.

No one is telling you that you can't say merry Christmas. If they are, you can walk away and ignore it, because that is ridiculous. But, likewise, please don't try to tell me - or bully me - into saying something that is inauthentic to me. Say merry Christmas to me. That's nice. Merry Christmas to you, too.

If I am initiating the parting script, I usually say happy holidays - unless I already know a person's preference, in which case I might remember to say whatever is particular to their faith, but I might not. Because I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about offending someone by saying that I hope their winter holiday is a nice one.

Some people need a little "spirit of the season" all year long.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Product Review: Pasta Chips

Monday, August 10, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - Okay, I don't usually buy chips. We eat high fiber around here, so if we're buying something crunchy and salty, it's usually Boom Chicka Pop popcorn from Costco. But I earned a Klout Perk to try Pasta Chips, and they sent a whole bag of crunchy deliciousness straight to my house. Argh! My life is so hard with the free food and stuff!

Anyway, Pasta Chips is the brand name, and they come in six flavors.

We got Garlic Olive Oil, which was just fine by us. The chips were light and had a perfect crunch. I really liked the texture. But they flavor was nothing new. In fact, it was quite familiar. I just couldn't put my finger on it...

Anyway, a pasta chip is just what you'd imagine: A chip made from baked pasta dough. And the website is hilariously enthusiastic in explaining that the idea was born at "a small, authentic Osteria" located "in the hills of Tuscany." And that might be true. Maybe. But the reason I'm calling bull$#!% on that is because EVERY brand even Italian-adjacent claims to be born on a Tuscan hillside by an authentic Italian midwife who birthed the idea with her authentic Italian hands made of authentic Italian fettuccine.

Have you ever seen a brand claim to have been born on an Umbrian hillside? Or in coastal San Marino? No! Because Tuscany is the only region most Americans know - although they're not sure if it's a city, a state, a province, or what. Americans also know the cities of Rome and Venice. When prompted, they know Milan, although they sometimes think Milan is in Spain. Folks who actually read their Shakespeare in high school (instead of just the Cliffs Notes) might remember Genoa. Fans of E.M. Forster know Florence. And a precious few know Turin, because of the Shroud of Turin - although they probably think Turin is somewhere near Jerusalem.

Long story short, I think the idea for these was born an an authentic American food science lab. Kind of like The Olive Garden.

Regardless of their nonsense backstory created for marketing purposes, the chips were garlicky and crunchy and lovely. They didn't break when I dipped them in hummus or tzatziki sauce. And they held up when I baked them in the oven with some Muenster cheese melting on top.

I still couldn't place the flavor of the chip.

But that's really all I ask of a chip: Be not-too-crunchy and don't taste like garbage. I'm not asking for hand-raised semolina massaged by virgins until ready for ritual sacrifice in the miller's evil grinder. But for those of you with higher requirements for your dip-delivery mechanisms, you should know that the marketing firm that designed the packaging also claims that the chips are: "All Natural, NonGMO Verified, 60% Less Fat than a Potato Chip, 20% Less Fat than Pita Chips, Kosher Certified, Vegan and only 120 calories per serving." Take that with a grain of authentic Mediterranean sea salt.

And I like that they're only 120 calories per serving; however, they measure their serving size in ounces, and I don't know why companies do that. Do I look like I carry around a kitchen scale everywhere I go? How am I supposed to figure out what an ounce is? Food companies: Don't give me ounces and grams so that I have to math my food. I am very busy adulting my life! Just give me the number of chips I can shove in my face hole.

Anyway, the flavor of the chips was still a mystery to me. Then I was making Emerson some chicken broth before her surgery last week, and got some of the consommé powder on my finger. It tasted almost just like the pasta chips. Then I got a whiff of the summer breeze as the cat escaped the front door again and it all came back to me. I don't know if anyone else's mother bought these in the 70s and 80s to pair with our squeeze cheese and Shasta/Big K colas, but this is the flavor I was remembering:

And I'm not mad about it. I haven't had these in 25 years, at least. I was suddenly drenched in lake water and sunscreen, surrounded by bathing-suit-clad 10-year-old friends, pulling a grape soda out of icy cooler water, watching my younger brother try to fit an entire can of squeeze cheese in his mouth while my mother passed out soggy, plastic-wrapped ham-and-cheese sandwiches with more mayo than I cared to eat in a lifetime.

Pass the Pasta Chips.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Cowboys always drink upstream from the herd

Wednesday, August 05, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Emerson and I are leaving campus when I spot Dr. Mike Searles leaving the Library in his usual attire: cowboy boots, jeans, plaid shirt, cowboy hat.

"Look, Em, a cowboy."

She cranes her neck. "Wow, is that a real cowboy?"

"Yep, that's Cowboy Mike. He's a professor of history, and his area of research is black cowboys and Buffalo Soldiers. They do reenactments with horses on campus every year."

"Whoa, I didn't know cowboys were real. I thought they were just in stories and movies and stuff."

"Oh, yes, they're very real."

"What does a cowboy even do?"

"Well, they help out on the ranch, raising cows and selling them at the market. So they feed the cows, water the cows, help them have babies, keep them healthy, drive them to the market, and protect them from wolves and cattle rustlers and stuff."

"Cattle rustlers?"

"Cattle thieves."

"So the cattle rustlers take the cows for their own?"


"And then they wrestle them?"


"They steal the cows and then they wrestle them?"

"Hahaha, no, sweetie. RUSTLERS. Not WRESTLERS."


"But cattle wrestling should totally be a thing."

"Yeah. It really should."

Monday, August 03, 2015

Thanks, Obama

Monday, August 03, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - We're in the Children's Hospital of Georgia, waiting for Emerson's surgery to be completed. The Disney Channel is playing in the waiting room. Emerson's grandfather turns to me and says, "Huh. That actress favors Michelle Obama."

I look: "That IS Michelle Obama."

"Oh. I was wondering how they found an actress who looked so much like her."

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Kids are weird

Saturday, August 01, 2015 By

Emerson: "My stomach hurts."


Emerson: "Owwwww! Jackson! That hurt! Geeez, you punched my arm!"

Jackson: "Yeah, but does your stomach hurt?"

Emerson: ".... no...?"

Jackson: "Okay, you're welcome."

Emerson: "Huh. That's interesting."

Jackson: "Yeah."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cinderella's slippers too small for the ball - and she's too big for her britches

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA - As Emerson gets older, she gets more opinionated about what she wears. I've never been a chevron-dress-and-hair-bow kind of mom. I'd rather she DID get dirty while playing. I don't want to give her any reason not to enjoy her childhood. Even so, as she grows, she has very specific opinions, and I'm usually fine with her doing whatever she wants, so long as it's age/temperature/functionally appropriate. But this morning was a trial.

Emerson wanted to wear short black booties with her capri jeans and sparkly dog t-shirt. It did not go, and within some rather expansive parameters, I do not care about that. But the booties have short little-girl heels, so she feels pretty and grown-up when she wears them.

"Em, I don't think those shoes are the best choice. Don't you want a pair you can run around in?"

"I like these boots."

"I know. But they're not really for playing. Do they even still fit?"

"We don't even have a playground at this camp. We're inside all day."

"I bet you run around in the fellowship hall."

"Mom. They're fine. Really."

[disapproving look] "...okay."

We got in the car and I had further second thoughts. "Em, do you want to grab a pair of shoes to put in your bag just in case you need them?"

"Mom, it's ffiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine-uh! Let's just GO!"

I side-eye her, but it is Friday and I am Picking My Battles. "Okay."

She curls up on the front seat with my phone and her headphones, listening to Tobuscus and Markiplier on Spotify. I try to engage her in a rousing sing-a-long to "Bohemian Rhapsody," to no avail. She just frowns and scootches away from me. Sigh. Fine. I can sing it by myself. ALL THE PARTS.

We get to the church and she grumbles her way out of the car.

"Em, honey... what's wrong?"




Aw, hell, naw.

I fold her into a hug that she returns by standing stick straight, arms at her side, face turned defiantly away from me. It was so awkwardly hilarious that I grin and held it a few extra awkward moments. But she knows better than to pull away or I'll do my Hunchback of Notre Dame impression behind her all the way inside, no matter who is watching. I have no shame.

I bent down in front of her and asked in Monster Voice, "Emmie sad?"

I saw the corner of her mouth twitch.

"Emmie mad?"


"Monstah Emmie mad at Mommie Monstah?"

"No-uhhh!" she whined. But failed to hide a grin.

"Monstah Mommie sowwy. Monstah Mommie lub Emmie Monstah." I gently bit her forehead. For those who aren't familiar with the sociology of monsters, that's a Monster Kiss.

She giggled and then sighed. "Emmie Monstah angry at... Emmie."

"Why Emmie Monstah haz a angry?"

She dropped Monster Voice. "Because these boots are really hurting my feet! And I didn't even listen to you, and now I have to wear them ALL DAY!"

I straightened and took her gently by her shoulders: "There's another pair of shoes in the car."

"No, there's ISN'T," she whined.

I opened the door back up, reached inside, and TADAAAA! Extra pair of shoes.

Monstah Mommy no fool. Monstah Mommy know what happen. Monstah feet very sensitive.

We walked inside, got a couple of band-aids from the office, and put on her socks and shoes.

"Thanks, Mom. You're the best mommy ever."

We hugged and said good-bye in Monster Voice.

And I floated back to my car on a cloud of self-righteousness.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Vampires rising in Augusta

Monday, July 13, 2015 By

Augusta, GA - Emerson and I are driving home when we pass the Shepeard Community Blood Center's Bloodmobile.

"Haha!" she laughs. "Bloodmobile. What is that even for?"

"Homeless vampires," I said. "They have to take the blood to them during the day because they can't go out in the sun.

I don't think she believed me, but I could see the wheels spinning in her head. We didn't talk about it again, but I am dying to see what she cooks up in that awesome little brain of hers.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Research shows tweens' speech patterns are remarkably similar to braying donkeys

Friday, July 10, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Emerson has three volumes: yelling, yelling louder, and asleep. Her tween vocal stylings really drive home to me why other parebts get their tweens cell phones: to save what little hearing us old folks have left.

One night, she was reading to me from her book of useless and annoying fact lists. Who is the Greek god of fertility and crops? WHO CARES?! (Note to self: speak with this Demeter character about my herb garden). And for those who do care, how many want to to learn it by having it shouted in their right ear while reading before bed? No one. What? ...I said, NO ONE! Here's your ear trumpet, grandma. There's a good chap.

Anyway. One night she was shouting useless facts in my ear at 8:45 p.m., and my repeated gentle reminders were completely ineffectual. I finally snapped.

"Emerson, pleeeaase stop yelling. You are killing me. You sound like Foghorn Leghorn."

She blinked at me. "Who's that?"

Ugh. Can someone tell me where to buy an ear trumpet?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Doctor Who, Why and How

Tuesday, July 07, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - C.B. walked into my office.

"So, tell Emerson that I watched like 5 episodes of Doctor Who."


"It's the worst show ever."

"Right?! It's SO BAD."

"I don't understand why it's so popular."

"And it's been on for like FIFTY... YEARS."

"I know. It's ridiculous."

"It is."

"I think the only thing worse is True Blood."



"Okay, no. Get out of my office."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Now hiring out my child for motivational speaking opportunities

Friday, June 26, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - It had been a long day at work, and it was only just barely after lunch. I was driving Emerson and her BFF, Kayla, back to the university with me, where they'd been and helped and behaved themselves all day. But I'd only gotten 4 hours sleep the night before, and I had needed to be on campus by 6:45 a.m., so I was dragging.

We sat in the air conditioning in the car while I tried to get myself back in gear.




Yeah, no. It wasn't happening.

"Ugh, I need a hype man!" I exclaimed. "I need to get hyped up for the rest of the day."

Emerson sprang forward in the backseat: "You can DO this, mama. Just ONE MORE HOUR. You are SMART. Everybody LIKES you. You are IMPORTANT, and EVERYBODY KNOWS it. You can do this!"

Tony Robbins, look out.

She kept it up as we walked back in the building. By the time we got back to my office, I was grinning and felt great. I'm thinking of renting her out as Ultimate Hype Whoa-man.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I didn't think I'd ever get remarried, but...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I'm manning a table with my coworkers, and the sun is in my eyes.

"Ugh, it's burning my face off," I grumble.

"You can move the pop-up banner to block the sun," M. comments.

But I only got four hours of sleep last night, and it's honestly less effort to let my face melt.

"Eh, that would require moving," I joke.

He grins, gets up, and slides it over to block my face from the death rays turning it into Jello: "Is that a subtle hint that I should do it for you?"

"No," I laugh. "I just didn't get enough sleep last night."

"Geez, it's like being married," he chuckles.

The sun is still in my eyes. 

I grin: "Well, then, here's where I tell you you're not good enough."

I move the banner over another foot, then sit back down.

"Yep," he deadpans. "We're officially married."

B. stands up. "See you. I'm going back upstairs."

"Wish I could go with you," M. says.

I give him a faux glare: "But now we have to have an argument. About your mother."

"Well, I wouldn't want to miss that."

Monday, June 15, 2015

On apologies and forgiveness

Monday, June 15, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - Of all the lessons I try to teach Emerson, I think the most powerful is how to give and to accept apologies and offer forgiveness.

Whether it is for a minor offense ("I'm sorry I dropped that glass.") or a major snafu ("I am sorry I forgot our anniversary."), I try really hard to model and to encourage what it takes to give and accept apologies and try to forgive.

On apologies

Apologies can be a beautiful thing. I'm not talking about the begrudging "SOR-RY!" that you might get from a playground bully when he or she is forced to apologize by a teacher. Or the snarky "Oh, sorry..." you might receive from that adult Regina George wanna-be who always manages to put other people's children down while exalting her own children. Or even the "sorry, sorry" that we mutter as reflex whenever we pass to closely someone on a crowded street.

Sincere apologies are really an amazing human response. With just a few words - that we developed over several millenia (no big deal, right?) and the appropriate non-verbal cues, we have the power to heal other people of actual wounds that we have inflicted. They may not be physical wounds, but they're no less real. Apologies can temper humiliation, lessen grudges, eliminate vengeance, and inspire forgiveness. They can assuage guilt, reduce shame, and improve self-esteem. They can repair a broken relationship, knit a marital rift, and mend a torn friendship.

With that much power, it's no wonder they don't come easily. And it's not surprising that it demands a lot from a person.
  • First, an apology requires a person to have the self-awareness to realize that you have committed an offense against another person. That's a level of self-reflection that a lot of people do not possess.
  • Second, an apology requires a person to take ownership of the wrong and accept the consequences of their behavior.
  • Third, an apology is best served with some kind of restitution - some way to right the wrong that was perpetrated. 
That's a lot. So when someone apologizes, it's important to be gracious. Because every apology requires a certain display of humility. The person apologizing is prostrating themselves before you, to an extent.

But when the quality of your character matters to you, and you care about the people you have hurt, a sincere apology is usually worth it. And sincerity cannot be faked. But many people will try, and it's in your best interests to learn how to recognize a person who is insincere in his or her apology in some way. Perhaps he or she is seeking your approval, but not truly remorseful. Perhaps he or she is simply sorry for getting caught, and not for the behavior. Perhaps they face social pressure to mend the relationship. Perhaps they feel guilty, but are apologizing for themselves, and not for you.

The issue that we often run into is that accepting an apology is expected, once it is offered. Even a mere suggestion of contrition brings to bear a social code wherein the wounded party is required to immediately forgive the offending party.

But what if the apology is insincere? What if the apology is given to regain social status, for example? There are ways to tell.

A person offering an insincere apology will toy with the right words, but ultimately insist on including the wounded party in the blame. It is sociopathic behavior, but if the person you're dealing with was fixed with a strong moral center, he or she likely wouldn't have done something for which an apology is necessary. He or she will:

  • Remind you of your supposed moral responsibility to accept his or her apology.
  • Will accuse you of similar behavior to deflect from their offense, or find a reason to blame you in some way.
  • Will be dishonest in relating the facts of the offense leading up to the apology.
  • Will express sympathy and concern for you, but not regret or remorse for the wrong.
  • Will talk more about their own situation to garner sympathy for themselves, break down your barrier to forgiveness and manipulate you into their good graces or control again.
So how do you know if an apology is sincere? Well, you can carry around the checklists above, but that's not very practical. In general, if you feel worse after an apology, it's probably not sincere. And you have to accept that the person speaking to you is not actually sorry, and there is nothing you can do to change that. What you have to do is decide if this person is worthy of being in your life. How big was the offense? What were the motivations behind it? How likely is it to happen again? Is this a first offense or a repeating pattern? And only you can answer those questions.

On forgiveness 

How important is it to forgive someone for an offense?

Forgiveness is central to the Christian tradition, and therefore it's a common theme in American culture. The Bible has a lot to say on the subject, but forgiveness is generally defined as an act of mercy and grace on the part of the wronged. It is interesting to note that English translations lack the nuance of the original languages - Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic - and there are scholars who differ on the translation of the word.

From a secular standpoint, most people turn to the seeming wisdom of Hannah Arendt. In "The Human Condition," she argued that forgiveness is a necessary achievement. That the opposite of forgiveness is punishment: Without forgiveness, we would be forever "confined to one single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer's apprentice who lacked the magic formula to break the spell."

I'm not a religious or philosophical leader. Yet I say forgiveness is ideal, but unnecessary. It is a choice we make based on who we want to be - and it's important to make the distinction between forgiving someone and trusting someone.

It is possible to forgive someone and choose to trust him or her again.

It is also possible to forgive someone and choose not to trust that person again.

It is possible forgive someone and believe that he or she should still be punished for a crime.

It is also possible to forgive an offense too quickly or too readily - and thus offer forgiveness as in-authentically as any insincere apology, because true forgiveness is a process.

But it is also possible to choose not to forgive someone, and still lead a happy, progressive life. To interact with them in a professional or friendly way. In other words, to choose not to excuse an offender's behavior in any way, but to also refuse to let the offender's behavior dictate your own.

The common wisdom is that people who forgive are healthier and more whole, and that people who do not forgive are angry, bitter and live in the past. But common wisdom can also be terribly wrong. The narrative of necessary forgiveness assumes that an offender's behavior forever dictates the wronged person's behavior and even self-actualization. It assumes a childish game of tit-for-tat, wherein wherein the wronged person spews venom, attempts retribution, or fixates on the wrong or the offender.

And that can sometimes happen. We all know people like that. But that is not the case for all people. There are those who live by moral and ethical guidelines and do not make quid pro quo choices on how to behave towards other people. There exist people who can choose not to forgive an offender, and yet go about their days indifferent to schadenfreude. Those people practice acceptance over forgiveness.

So to accept an apology, or not? To forgive, or not to forgive? That is the question. Except it's really not. The real question is: Who is your offender, and who are you? Who do you want to be?

And only you can answer that.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The best way to welcome new employees

Friday, May 22, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - Recently, I was using the microwave in a different office. I was not familiar with this machine, and when I pushed the start button ... and the RADIO came on. I spun around looking for the source of the noise, and a professor came out of his office, to see me looking around in the air for the magical surprise radio. Simultaneously, we realized it was coming from the microwave at the same time.

"That's weird," he said. And we both laughed.

AND THEN I SAW IT. The button marked "voice record."

"What the hell does this do?" I asked.

"It probably lets you record a message when so it speaks instead of beeping when your food is done," he said.

So we tried it, but it didn't work that way. We supposed that it is probably a relic of the pre-cell-phone days, when people would leave messages for each other instead of texting.

Knowing the next person to discover this button would be equally surprised, I recorded "DON'T TOUCH THIS BUTTON!"

We have new faculty starting soon. I am looking forward to this.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Beware the multibear... whatever that is

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 By


Emerson: "MOM."

Me: "zzzzzzhuh? What?"

I glance at the clock. It's 3:48 a.m.

Emerson: "Mom. I was telling him that he doesn't need to be afraid of the multibear, but he wasn't listening."

Me: "Oh?"

Emerson:"Do you know what a multibear is?"

Me: "No."

Emerson:"It's a bear with multiple heads."

I open my eyes on the darkened room. That's a scary mental picture.

Me: "Okay, and what about a multibear?"

Emerson: "Well, I was just telling him that he doesn't need to be afraid of the multibear, like it's not going to come out of the distance, or anything."

Me: "Right. That makes sense."

Emerson: "And then, just as I was saying that, boom. Multibear. Right in the distance."

Me: "Oh, man. That's scary. What did you do?"

Emerson: "zzzzzzzzzzz...:


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kids know how to make medicine fun

Thursday, May 14, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - So, long story short, as a result of her thrilling ER visit a while back, Emerson had to follow up with a pediatric gastroenterologist, who recommended a colonoscopy.

"How do you feel about that, Doodle?" I asked.

"Oh, I feel totally comfortable with it," Emerson said. "You know what she said? She said, 'Before this, you're going to poop your brains out, and after it, you're going to fart your brains out!'"

I snort-laughed. "Okay, well, she's not wrong about it, from what I understand."

"Maybe I can fart the alphabet."

"I would actually be interested to see that, Em."

Maybe this is where she discovers her superpower!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Growing up is hard - for moms

Monday, May 11, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Recently, Emerson experienced one of her first big disappointments. It was something she wanted very badly, something she worked hard to attain, and after being given an opportunity, that opportunity was snatched away from her because of someone else's mistake. It might still be fixable, but we don't know, yet.

It was hard to hear the deep, resonant sobs she poured out into the pillows. My heart hurt for her, and all I could do was hold her and say how sorry I was that this happened.

After an hour of bawling, she sat up and asked for something to drink. Then she looked at me askance. "And maybe a tiny bit of ice cream?"

Ha. She didn't get the ice cream. But we stayed up a little late, snuggling and talking. She cried a little more, but slowly calmed down. Then, as she came back from the bathroom right before bed, she squared her shoulders and looked at me. "I can't be sad anymore, mama. I have an audition tomorrow. And that's another opportunity."

If I hadn't already been lying down, I would have fallen down. She's 10, and already has a better head on her shoulders than I do at none-of-your-business-years-old.

She went to that audition with a great attitude and gave it her best. When she came out, she felt happy and confident. Then she said, "If I don't get it, I'll feel sad. But there's always another opportunity."

If she doesn't get into the program she wanted, it won't be because she didn't give it her best. And that's all we can ask of her.

But what do we do if she tries her best and doesn't get in? Do we tell her to work harder? Do we accept that she may not be good enough? I don't want to think about it right now, so we'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

But with her positive attitude and determination, even if she doesn't get in, it will probably be much easier for her to deal with than it will be for her mama... and for whatever fool rejects her.

Monday, May 04, 2015

And the Earth keeps spinning

Monday, May 04, 2015 By

Him: "I think we should not see each other anymore."

Her: "Um, I know you're seeing someone else, and you're going to lie about it in perpetuity. So I agree it's for the best that we don't see each other anymore."

Him: "Except if someone you don't even know dies and I need sympathy."

Her: "But that only benefits you. I don't get anything out of that."

Him: "I wasn't looking to give you anything."

Her: "Oh. Yeah, that sounds about right."

Friday, May 01, 2015

My Little Pony is still a better love story than Twilight

Friday, May 01, 2015 By


Emerson: Why are they drinking tomato juice? 

Me: Some people like to drink tomato juice.

Emerson: Like vegetarian vampires?

Me: Yep. Exactly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mother's Day is just around the corner

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 By

Augusta, GA. - Emerson just asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day. And she was genuinely confused by my answer.

"How about an expensive bottle of perfume?" "How about an expensive bunch of makeup?" "How about some expensive jewelry?"

First, I was somewhat concerned that the adjective preceding all of those possible gifts was "expensive." That's not something that impresses me... unless you're talking about my salary, amiright, ladies?!

Second, I don't want any of that stuff. I have never really wanted any of that stuff.

If you are looking for something to do for your mother for Mother's Day, I am telling you that the best thing you can do for your mom is to clean her freaking house and do her yard work. Just make her life a little bit easier.

Look, I like jewelry. I like perfume. Sometimes I like makeup - it just depends on the day. But what I like more than anything else is not having to do the dishes. It's not having to weed whack my yard. It's not having to cook dinner. It's not having to scrub the toilet.

What I like more than expensive jewelry and perfume and makeup is the ability to come home at the end of a long day at work and just enjoy my home and my family, and not have to think about all the things around me that need to be done so that I can take care of my home and my family. But, you know, not actually enjoy them.

So, folks, for Mother's Day, here's what your mom wants:
  1. An empty dishwasher
  2. An empty clothes washer
  3. An empty clothes dryer
  4. An empty laundry basket
  5. A full refrigerator
  6. Clean floors
  7. Organized shelves
  8. Mowed lawn
  9. Weeded garden
  10. Clean stove/oven
  11. Dusted surfaces
  12. Sparkling clean toilets
  13. Fed and bathed cats
  14. Clean litter boxes
  15. Wiped-down baseboards
  16. Scrubbed floors

And time. Time for herself, time with her family, time to breathe.

Although, if you don't feel like doing that stuff, she also wants a kayak.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tell me why I don't like Mondays

Monday, April 27, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - My morning should have been pretty easy. 
  1. Get Em off to school.
  2. Drive to campus.
  3. Park a mere 50 yards away from the building.
  4. Take an elevator to the third floor.
  5. Unlock my office door.

Simple, right? NOT FOR ME.

  1. Get Em off to school. Done. 
  2. Drive towards campus, see flashing red light, realize I need gas.
  3. Detour to gas station.
  4. Lose argument with debit card swiper.
  5. Go inside to pay for gas.
  6. Wait in line behind chatty older guy just grabbing a cup of coffee.
  7. Laugh as I explain to humorless cashier that I lost an argument to debit card swiper.
  8. Pay for gas.
  9. Go back outside to pump gas.
  10. Gas pump won't turn on.
  11. Press help button.
  12. No attendant responds.
  13. Go back inside to ask attendant to turn on pump.
  14. She insists that I haven't paid for gas.
  15. But I did, two minutes ago. Here is the receipt.
  16. She gets mad at me, because of REASONS. How did I produce this magical receipt of lies?!
  17. Chatty older guy tries to engage me in conversation - DO YOU NOT HAVE SOMEWHERE TO BE, SIR?
  18. Go outside. Wait two minutes while attendant passive-aggressively does not activate pump.
  19. Pump gas. Leave. Mentally flip off cashier.
  20. Fly down the road to campus. Hit no traffic lights. Sweetness!
  21. Pull into parking space.
  22. Run over yellow cone accidentally left in parking space.
  23. Back out of parking space, dragging cone under my car.
  24. Get out of car to dislodge cone.
  25. Student in car pulls up behind me, with perfect view of my behind as I wrangle this fighty cone.
  26. Student driver honks. 
  27. I motion that there is trouble. DOES SHE NOT SEE THAT I AM ON THE GROUND IN A DRESS?
  28. Car driver rolls eyes and pulls around me, honking again.
  29. Car driver is on my growing list of people who must be destroyed.
  30. Get back into car, pull backward until cone dislodges.
  31. Cone now looks like the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter.
  32. Pull car into nearby space.
  33. Place cone at very back of parking space so no one else runs over it.
  34. Student driver passes me, still circling the parking lot for a space. Student driver clearly not a business major capable of doing a cost-benefit analysis, since nearby lot is clearly mostly empty, and she has been circling this smaller, full lot for about 10 minutes.
  35. Walk to building. Do not fall down or get hit by car. A miracle.
  36. Elevator is waiting for me.
  37. Get off elevator. Walk to office.
  38. Where the hell is my office?! 
  39. I'm on the wrong floor. 
  40. Climb stairs to third floor. Walk to office.
  41. Use car key fob to try to unlock office door.
  42. Stand stupidly in hallway while faculty member passes me with a bemused expression as I make this attempt.
  43. Realize my own stupidity.
  44. Unlock office door.
  45. Sit down at computer and breathe. 

Today is still going to be a good day. Because today I did not have to walk two miles to find fresh water. I do not have any funerals to attend. My daughter is healthy and doing well in school, even if she did almost make me cry with her grumpiness this morning. And I have my old friend, caffeine, to get me through the morning. We've been bros since college.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A favorite story from Emerson's younger childhood

Friday, April 17, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I've told this story hundreds of times, but I love it, so I'm going to share it again.

We took Emerson down to Disney World when she was maybe 2 years old. She was great the whole trip. No issues.

Except when it came to sleeping arrangements. She insisted on sleeping in the double bed with us. And, as we know, kids turn into their alternate ego - Sleep Ninja - the second they hit Slumbertown. So it was not a great arrangement for us parents.

We got her to sleep one night and then I very slowly Mission-Impossible-d her onto a luxurious pallet on the floor. I got maybe four hours of sleep. At 2:30 a.m., she shot into a sitting position, wide awake.

"Mama! I on da floor, what happen?!"

I laughed and laughed. "Emerson, honey, you were kicking me in the face in your sleep."

She sighed and began crawling back into the bed. "I sowwy, but dis not goeend wort for me."

Guess who slept on the floor the rest of the night.

Not her.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

You don't make any cents

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA - So, funny story, I was at Aldi and putting my cart back. Of course, it requires you to deposit a quarter to get it.

This grandmother is walking up, and she has her toddler granddaughter on her hip. Her hands are full. No way she can reach her purse.

So I stop my cart, gesture to it and say, "Here, take this one. Have a great day."

And she glared at me and yelled, "I have a quarter RIGHT HERE! Whatchoo think, I ain't got a quarter?!"

She scowled at me. For a moment, I considered apologizing or explaining my logic.
Instead, I turned and ran away. Well, I fast-walked away. But still. Yes. I ran from a grandmother and a toddler. Because she yelled at me.
My brain had a snappy comeback and everything: "I think you ain't got ANY cents!" But my jaw clamped shut and my feet took over.
Looking back, it's probably for the best. No need to model terrible behavior for her granddaughter. But wouldn't it be nice to get in a good zinger against the jerks of the world? Just every once in a while?
* In response to inquiries, YES, the pun in the headline was intentional. I did go to college and stuff, y'all. 
** Did the y'all negate the college part of that previous sentence?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Why you need to get out of my daughter's way and let her do her thing

Wednesday, April 01, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - My daughter can do anything. Let's just get that out of the way right now. She can fly a spaceship, she can command a warship, she can negotiate peace treaties, she can stay at home with her children full-time, she can minister to the masses, or she can live in a yurt in Mongolia and raise yaks.

I mean, those aren't her ONLY options. Warships or Yaks. But the point is, I don't care what she chooses to do with her life, so long as they are her choices, she isn't hurting herself or anyone else, and she is pursuing her own happiness.

What I do care is that nobody gets in her way with their sexist bullcrap.

Em: "Mom, [person who shan't be named (hereafter "she")] says girls can't do buildings and stuff."

Me: "Do what?"

Em: "Like, construction and making the building plans and being the boss."

Me: "Yes, we can."

Em: "I know! I told her that yes, we can! We can do anything boys can do! But she just said no, we can't. It made me so mad."

Me: "Well, let's remember that she doesn't want to do any of those things."

Em: "Okay, but then maybe she should be more specific about that."

Me: (chuckling) "Maybe."

Or maybe she should go live in a yurt and raise yaks. On the moon.

I can gloss over a lot of things. But hurting my child? No. I will never understand why anyone would willingly choose to put roadblocks in front of a child - even psychological ones. Why create a small voice of doubt where one doesn't exist? Aren't there enough challenges in life?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Trying is the hardest part

Monday, March 30, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA - Emerson has been throwing me attitude and dragging her feet all morning. I finally get her in the car to go to school.

"Okay, Em, spill it. What's eating at you this morning?"

She casts her eyes downward. "I'm really nervous."

"About what? The choral competition today?"

"Yes! I've never done anything like this before! I'm scared I'm going to mess up. I'm scared the class is going to mess up. And Mr. Neches will be upset with us."

I laugh. "I totally understand. I would be nervous, too."

"How can YOU understand? You're the best at EVERYTHING."

"What? Em, I'm the best at precisely nothing. I'm the best at not one single thing. And that's okay. Because do you know what I'm really good at?"


"I'm really good at trying."

She frowns in consternation out the windshield. "At trying...?"

"There's always someone better, Em. At everything. All you can do is be YOUR best. And then you feel satisfied."

She thought for a little while. We drove in silence as she mulled it over.

"OKAY," she declared. "I'm going to be the best at trying."

"That's awesome. You do you the best way you know how, Em."

"I'm going to sing my butt off."

"Okay. Just pick up your butt before you leave the stage, though, 'cause... Ew."

She giggled. "I'll try. ...Get it? Because I'm going to be the best at trying?"

Maybe she should try working on her jokes, next.