Mad Mix

18 Jul

Mix TapeLike many young guys wooing a girl in the 90’s, Andrew knew the swoon power of a good mix tape.

The first one he ever made me arrived in my dorm room mail – along with a catalog for BMG CD’s and a deal for a long distance phone card. It was 1996. I was a freshman at West Virginia University while he was a junior eight hours away at West Point. I thought it was the best mix tape I ever received. Not only did HE make it for me, it held some of the most heartfelt and rockin’ songs – especially since we were just friends “with potential” (Who knows that movie?!) at the time.

At least, I thought it was the best mix. My feelings about that tape would all change a few years later when (after successfully winning me over — with mix tapes of course) I was helping him pack up his things before he moved to Georgia to start his Army career.

I’ll get back to that in a paragraph or two, but first I need to tell you about what would become my most favorite mix tape of all.

We never really did become a couple that year. He came to visit me at college once and we both had a wonderful time but my heart wasn’t quite able/ready/sure of itself to be fully his then.  If Facebook existed at the time, I would’ve been guilty of “It’s complicated.” Because of that and the cold way I acted toward him, I received what I have since dubbed the “I Hate You” mix tape. It was filled with songs of agony and heartache and anger. It made me roll my eyes and huff and puff when it was first sent to me because I knew I was wrong. He now tells me he borrowed the CD’s of friends to make it because he needed to have just the right songs.

A few of them included:

Nine Inch Nails – “Something I Can Never Have”
Pearl Jam – “Better Man”
Tonic – “If You Could Only See”
Counting Crows – “A Long December”
Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
Soul Asylum – “Promises Broken”
Smashing Pumpkins –  “Crush”
Radiohead – “High and Dry”
Guns ‘N Roses – “Patience”
Tim McGraw – “Don’t Take the Girl”
Spin Doctors – “How could you want him when you could have me?”
Radiohead – “Creep”
Jewel – “You Were Meant for Me”

He must have forgiven me and I must have made the right choice because here we are now, about to hit our 14th wedding anniversary. Even after all that AND it turns out that the first mix tape was actually not the first mix. You see, when helping him pack, I discovered his song list on an index card and that he had made that same mix tape for another girl before me.

Stupid mix tape.

That’s why I really love that Mad Mix. It’s all mine. I earned it. And, as he would say, it worked.

One Thing

16 Jul

So many lists these days.

17 things to say to your daughter
12 things to explore with your son
5 things never to say to your daughter
7.5 ways to raise a son
10 life hacks to make things easier
14 things your kids should know before they’re teenagers
11 parenting FAILS
30 ways to have more energy

Too many lists.

I have one thing I want my kids to keep safe and keep always as they grow up through this crazy, overwhelming and amazing world we call life.

A sense of humor.

Not at the expense of others but for the well-being and sanity of others and themselves. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t worry their hearts about the things they can’t control. Find a way to smile. Find the healthy memory in what seems like a miserable or sad situation and make a lighter heart.

Joy is something we can control no matter what we are going through. We can determine whether we mope or grumble through any given day. I’m not saying they shouldn’t ever be sad or mad or throw a fit, I’m just hoping that their humor finds a way through and lifts them up and out.

I see signs of their great humors now. They deliver lines to me that make them seem smarter than I ever was or will be (not in a smart mouth way, just their pure and light perspective).

It makes me feel so great knowing they get it — without a list to follow.

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Gone But Not Furgotten

15 Jul
The Joey picture Andrew carried in Kosovo

The Joey picture Andrew carried in Kosovo

We met him on a September day soon after we were married. His name was Martis and he was one of many who needed a loving home. We were told he was part Chow Chow and were shown his brother who was a puff-ball of fur.

We lived in a two bedroom apartment on the second floor of a complex at the time. Having a dog in the apartment meant a pet fee and multiple walks a day. That, mixed with all that fur, meant work.

Besides getting hitched and picking out the washer and dryer, he was our first real decision together. He was a good one.

We named him Joey – Andrew’s middle name and the name of a special doll I had when I was a little girl.

We spoiled him with toys, treats, a huge crate, his own food table and love. He spoiled us with destroyed toys, lots of trips to the nearby woods because of all the treats, a messy crate and house with clumps of fur everywhere and the sweetest unconditional love we could ever imagine. He kept me safe and sound through Andrew’s military deployments and kept things interesting with all of his eating adventures. (He must have hated that hardback book about the First Ladies. Tore through it like it was threatening him.)

Loved to Play

Loved to Play

People would remark what a pretty pup he was – some even asked if he was a dog model. They wondered what breed he was and as he grew up he started to look more like a shepherd/collie mix to us so that’s what he became. He certainly exhibited the herding traits of those dogs. Always under our feet and near the person he felt needed it most (babies, little kids, pregnant friends, our moms). He always had to sit right by us and when we got up for even just a glass of water, he followed.

He traveled through states with us – feeling both snow and sand. He moved three times with us and got to spend seven years of his life in the big fenced yard he deserved. He knew the comfort of our bed and couches and left his fur mark and warmth all over them. He loved to be Andrew’s pillow and my foot therapy. All of that fur he had was so fluffy and soft and he would  let me rub my feet over him as he rested near me.

Bean and Joe-Boy

Bean and Joe-Boy

He impressed people with the tricks Andrew taught him. Barking when Andrew would just open his mouth, low crawling when Andrew pointed to the ground and sitting just by Andrew moving his pointer finger up and down. Joey cared for our guests and family – escorting them around the house as well and often “baptizing” them with his dripping mouth after a drink of water. He earned nicknames like: “Joe-Boy,” “fuzz buckets,” “fuzzy butt,” “Joe-do Baggins,” and when he was in trouble “Joseph Martis.”

Joey and Andrew in downtown Savannah

Joey and Andrew in downtown Savannah

He was as old as our marriage – 14 years. He was Andrew’s first dog and the first dog who was truly mine. Our first dog to have to decide it was time to say goodbye and give him peace.

There are a lot of ways to help determine you’re officially a grown up — getting married, picking out a pet together, buying a car or a house, paying bills, replacing a roof, that kid stuff, having another life you love in your hands … He helped us grow up. I hope he liked growing up with us.

That dog. That good dog.

Sweet Boy

Sweet Boy

I’ll never forget you, Joe-Boy. Especially since I have a feeling our dark blue couches will never free some of the fur you shed. I remember when that drove me nuts. Now, it brings me to tears.

I’ll be thankful every day of my life for you.

Pretty Boy

Pretty Boy

Papa Talk

23 Mar

“We talked for 41 minutes!” A happy Nia processed in her brain as she looked at her phone after hanging up with her Papa.

She couldn’t wait to call him that night. She wanted to talk to him about what she learned in class about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She knew Papa is better than google or any book she could read when it comes to history. Forget about playing a game with trivia with him, unless he’s on your team.

I know she will always treasure their talks. I think he will too. After their history lesson, he sent me a text. “Thanks for letting Nia call. Were you trying to get her sleepy by talking to me?” Silly, smart Papa.

Papa

Jacked Up

19 Nov

I had a flat tire after work this week. Here are some things I learned from it:

  1. I prefer the kind of flats that are waiting for me – as opposed to the ones that happen as I’m driving down a busy interstate. This one was safely hanging out for me on Level 4 of the parking garage. Swell!
  2. I shouldn’t refuse the kind offer of help from strangers. My stubborn “I got this” personality caused me to turn four people away. I gave some line about being “woman, hear me roar” and immediately felt dumb after it.
  3. Glad I admitted defeat and reluctantly accepted the fourth offer of help after trying to loosen the lug-nuts with my cute purple pumps. Andrew had tightened those lug-nuts with the “intensity of the sun” as I heard him once use to describe Nate. During my attempt to break the lug-nuts free, I called Andrew, out of breath, verifying, “It’s lefty loosey still, right?!” He responded yes and told me he was on his way to help. That’s also when the fourth person to offer help showed up and didn’t take no for an answer. He just started fixing it.
  4. People who don’t directly offer to help feel the need to give advice or just make an acknowledging comment as they pass. “Did you call someone?” “Don’t forget to use your emergency brake because your car could roll backward.”
  5. There’s a special place for the jack under my car. If you don’t use it, you will bend the area near the door frame. That happened. I now need new tires and some body work.
  6. It’s very difficult for me to drive slower than 55 mph. Thank goodness for cruise control. Glad I had that padiddle light too. That really added to the comedy of the situation.

Dough-no

Significant

7 Nov

Maybe it’s because we lived it. We try not to make big deals of things we’ve been through or accomplished. People have done/do more. We may feel like that because part of us feels like we don’t deserve special acknowledgement. We just are people doing things other people do.

For whatever reason though, Andrew and I don’t really recognize his military service on the designated holidays. We certainly think of the others though. Those friends who are no longer with us, those still serving or who’ve served longer or long ago.

Then, a stranger changed that. To her, Andrew’s service is significant and should be noted.

She only really knows him to say hi to him in church but that didn’t stop her from getting his address from the church directory (I imagine) and sending him a card to thank him for his service.

I’m not even sure how she knows about his military history. In the end, it doesn’t matter. What does is that someone reminded us of it.

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A Perfect Season

6 Nov
Dad & Champ

Dad & Champ

He’s only 7 years old. His teammates match him in age, plus or minus a year. They love their bubble gum and eye black and to proudly (and loudly) cheer for their next batter from the dugout. They range in size from tiny to tall but equal each other with their love of the game.

It was their heart, teamwork and desire to make the “awesome out or hit” that set the stage for these young baseball players to do something extraordinary.

A perfect season — 11-0. That’s not all though. They carried that through to the post season tournament where they earned their champion title, going 4-0.

I tried not to think too much of it. It’s coach pitch and fall ball, I told myself. They are playing against other small ones still learning the game, like them. But then I realized, this may never happen again. What’s to come when Nate is in kid pitch? Will he still love it like he does now? Will he meet the others in skill and be able to hold a spot on the field with them? This is something to treasure and it’s not just about all the W’s. It’s about how the boys got along and worked together. The families who united to support the coaches and the team. It was a positive, pleasant season — truly perfect.

Watching Nate and those boys out there is something I’ll never forget. Some of the plays I saw Nate pull off on that dirt made me shake my head in disbelief. There was one game this season where he dove for a grounder then quickly spun around and popped up like an older player to make a fast throw from near Second to First for an out. How did he do that?! Will he be able to do it again? And again?

I can only hope because I’m quite addicted to seeing him in his element with his teammates. Sure, all the practices and games can be a big time commitment and challenge for us, but as long as he wants to keep playing, I’ll keep following his lead. He’s led himself (and his family) this far with it and we’ve made such good friends and have had a blast.

Until next season, thanks for these memories, #26 and those wonderful Red Buccaneers.

8U Red Buccaneers | Fall 2013

8U Red Buccaneers | Fall 2013

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