Hot Stuff

“Sittin’ here, eatin’ my heart out, waitin’
Waitin’ for some lover to call
Dialed about a thousand numbers lately
Almost rang the phone off the wall

Lookin’ for some hot stuff, baby, this evenin’
I need some hot stuff, baby, tonight
I want some hot stuff, baby, this evenin’

Gotta have some hot stuff
Gotta have some love tonight….”
– Donna Summer –
(12-31-1948 to 05-17-2012)


When I was a child, I went to a Catholic school in the heart of the Bible belt. It shouldn’t be any wonder that the first time I got in trouble for my musical tastes was because of Donna Summer. I don’t recall how many “Hail Mary’s” I had to say, but I learned it probably wasn’t in my best interest to go around singing “Hot Stuff” or “Bad Girls” in the halls of St. Joseph’s.   

When I was in junior high, she released, “She Works Hard for the Money.” Again, I was back in a Catholic School, but by this time the rules had relaxed and neither she nor the song were nearly as taboo as Madonna who had managed to piss off the Pope and the entire Catholic Church with “Like a Virgin” which was released the following year. Ahhh… how music takes me back to my youth. 

I remember fondly of listening to Donna Summer with my sister in her Ford Pinto  while cruising around drinking cherry limes from Mr. Burger and I thought that it was the coolest thing in the world. You know what… it was. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. 

Donna Summer left this world this week, but she left behind a legacy of some of the best dance music out there. Thanks Donna…. “beep, beep, uh, uh,…… beep, beep, uh, uh….”

Pre-Graduation Panic & Mayhem

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson – 
Yesterday, I thought the collective minds of my oldest daughter and myself were going to implode or explode – your choice. She had been working on a video presentation for the senior celebration at AACAL and the day of the celebration, it crashed. Then, to add insult to injury, 6 hours before the event, it decided to not only crash, but completely evaporate into the outer stratosphere. The whole thing – gone. Woosh! 

It was a lucky thing I had planned on coming home a little early to help with the crash. I ended up coming home a couple of hours earlier than that and started slamming together a PowerPoint presentation in an attempt to salvage what I could. For about 4 hours, I typed seniors’ achievements, schools and all of that jazz. When Eldest got home from school – she started throwing in the pictures parents had provided. 

I apologize to the seniors who were inadvertently missed or forgotten. There was some information that had been e-mailed or texted late to Eldest and I wasn’t privy to that information. I am very sorry if you were missed. It wasn’t my intention, nor was it hers. I do hope that you understand that bad things happen to good computers. 

Today, Eldest is going through a similar-feeling situation with trying to get stuff together for another, bigger banquet. She had a few things thrown at her toward the last minute, though I think a little of this is procrastination combined with a HEAVY workload. I will just be happy if she gets it done and wears clothing to the festivities tonight.  

But all in all, I think Emerson’s quote is rather fitting for the events of the past couple of days and in future days to come. It’s those moments of panic when we have to dig deep and find out what we are truly made of. Some people cave under the pressure while others come out okay. I’m hoping Eldest is the later. After the celebration presentation last night, I told her, “It’s over. There’s nothing more you can do now. Just breathe and move on to the next thing.” 

Isn’t that what we all have to do?

It’s a Hard Knock Life

Lately, it seems as if my job has become more social worker, psychologist and Peanuts-style-Lucy-advice-giver than investigator. I’m okay with that because it means maybe I can help a family before law enforcement actually has to step-in and take action that is more permanent in nature. I’m not trained in any specific field, but I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve had two kids of my own who are doing okay. Combine that with the fact I was a bit of a hellion as a teenager (and from time to time today),  I can see the world in a perspective that is sometimes unique.


I had a conversation the other day with a parent who has done everything for their child, has battled all of their battles for them and now is having problems with him. I had to ask them, “Why did you do this?”


I know it’s hard as a parent to see your child suffer, but there are natural consequences to one’s actions and I believe it’s not to early to start teaching your children that. If you touch a hot stove, you will get burned. Depending on the age of the child, you might pull their hand away and spank it. For older kids, they might actually touch the stove and realize, “When I touch it, it IS hot.” If you don’t follow the logical progression of teaching a younger child natural consequences, then when that child becomes a teenager, problems ensue.


This parent called me because he couldn’t get his son up for school. He’s gone so far as to set his own alarm an hour and a half early so he can start the process of nagging, scolding, yelling, yanking the covers off the bed, turning the radio up loud, using water as a wake up device, pulling his son out of the bed and dragging him to the closet…. well, you get the idea. I asked him why he was doing that. He said if he didn’t do that his son wouldn’t get up and would miss the bus then he would have to take him and be late to work himself.


Excuse me?
Can you say enabling?


I understand the school district’s policy on tardies and absences and a parent’s responsibility to take one’s child to school. However, this kid is almost 17 years old. At what point do you say enough already? And that’s exactly what I asked him.


He was stunned by my question so I asked him again and was met by silence.


I explained. In another year, this kid will graduate and then probably go to college. He’ll get a job. I asked him, “Are you going to be getting him up for college or awake in time for work everyday? Are you going to call his boss and explain to him that he’s late or write him a note or take him to his job because he just couldn’t get it together to get up on time? At what point do you say, ‘Enough?'”


I also asked him what time this kid goes to bed. He said that it’s anywhere between 10pm and 2am. I have teenagers, one of which carries a heck of a course load, but there is NO need for a regular 2am bedtime when you have to get up early for school. Teenagers need a recommended NINE hours of sleep a night. (Resource: National sleep foundation) Obviously that’s not going to happen and things are going to suffer. No wonder that kid can’t get out of bed. He’s working against a biological drive to sleep.


He said I made a very valid point he hadn’t thought about and thanked me for my time.


A few days later, he called me back. He told me that night when his son came home he basically threw down the gauntlet and told him to set his alarm and to be in bed no later than 10pm on school nights; he was no longer waking him up for school and if he missed his bus, he could walk. Apparently his son didn’t buy it. His son woke up about 11am and called his father at work to take him. Dad stood firm and told him, “You have two legs. Use them.”  The day after that, he didn’t wake him up again and the son again missed the bus. He called his father and apparently begged him to pick him up and take him to school. Dad told him, “Son, I can’t do that because you need to learn to do some things on your own. This is one of them. Do it.” On the third day, his son was up and ready to meet the bus.


I’d like to say that all is going to be perfect, but we all know that bad habits are hard to break. I’m glad that this father is working toward instilling new, healthy ones in his son before it’s way too late.


The School of Hard Knocks isn’t an easy one. However, I believe that as our children become older, we have to give them more responsibility to do some things on their own and make their own mistakes. After all, if we don’t do that, we haven’t properly prepared them for the adult world that is to follow and that’s not the School of Hard Knocks. It’s the World of Hard Knocks.

Folgen Sie der gelben Straße

I’ve been thinking about vacation as it’s been awhile since I’ve been on a good one. One of my favorite places in the universe is New York City, but there are a lot of other places in the world I want to experience – most of them in Europe. The one I’ve really been thinking about lately for some reason is Germany.

When I was in junior high school, I spent a few years learning to speak German from a woman we not-so-lovingly referred to as Frau Hitler. I wasn’t very fond of her, nor she of me. Mutual animosity aside, I did fall in love with what I learned about the country itself. She saw the country through the rose colored glasses of a child and I could appreciate that. She could also speak with a bitterness about a leader who torn her homeland apart, but she didn’t do that often.

I was young and I didn’t understand much about the war that destroyed Europe and left a visible scar running the length of Berlin. A few years later, I had learned more about the war and the senseless death and destruction that was wrought on that country by a mad-man. I watched with pride as Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate and told Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev open this Gate.” I watched the wall fall in 1989. After that, the Brandenburg Gate became the symbol of Germany’s reunification.

I want to see that gate today.
I want to see what remains of the wall.
And I want to put into perspective what it all means up close and personal.

There are a bunch of other places in Germany I also want to see while I’m at it including, but not limited to the Black Forest, Neuschwanstein Castle (which the castle at DisneyLand/DisneyWorld is based on), the Cathedral of Cologne, Trier – Germany’s oldest city, and the Christmas market in Nuremberg. Of course, there is also Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dresden, Heidelberg and we cannot forget Munich and Berlin. Wow… I suppose this is going to have to be a visit that lasts quite awhile, eh? I guess it’s time to start saving.

(Photos are of Neuschwanstein Castle and the Brandenburg Gate when the wall was still up.)

A Little Rain Goes A Long Way

“Rain, Rain on my face
It hasn’t stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud…”
– Jars of Clay –
(Photo of the Lake Meredith Dam & Spillway 2011)
In the Texas Panhandle we have had a drought of a severity not quite rivaling the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, but at times has felt like it. Last June, we lost an inch of water from Lake Meredith in one day purely from evaporation (resource: CRMWA). The last time it was this dry in the Panhandle region dated back to 1956. Thankfully, Mother Nature has recently sent us a reprieve… rain. Lots of rain. I’ve been “Singing in The Rain” and watching “Rainman” and listening to songs about rain, water and floods… a happy little camper am I.
On April 9th, Lake Meredith’s water level reached it’s all time low at only being 29.80 feet deep. In terms of Meredith, this means the boat docks are closed; there’s no chance of recreational boating, fishing and that type of thing. It also means water is no longer being pumped from the lake for drinking and we are now tapping into the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest in the world. (And just for the record, it tastes MUCH better than the water from Meredith.) For some reason, it also means you can walk across areas of the Lake that have been inaccessable by humans for years. It’s a bizarre feeling to say the least. I keep waiting for dead bodies to turn up, but at this time, no such luck.
Because of the recent rainfall, it’s now up to 31.53 feet. To put all this in perspective. In 1973, Meredith’s depth was 101.85 feet deep. I think we have a long way to go to even see the waterline from a distance. Maybe someday, but that day is not today.
The Seattle-like feeling that has settled over the city in the past couple of weeks will be gone again as quickly as tomorrow as the sun pushes its way back through the gray and the weather heats back up. For now, I shall watch the rain fall and give thanks at this moment the land is green and the lake is on the rise.

Mother’s Day Meltdown

“There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.”
 -Ralph Waldo Emerson-

When my darlings were wee, little babes, I spent many, many, many hours rocking them in the recliner and relished the moment they went limp in my arms as they went to sleep. I loved the feel of their soft breath on my neck and the little whimpers as they dreamed.  Those are some of my favorite baby moments which more than made up for the colic and the screaming, teething, tonsillectomies… and the list goes on. 

I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything. And I try not to exasperate my children, but I’m sure I often do.  

Why do our mothers frustrate us?
But I would like to be more specific. 
Why does my mother frustrate me? (It’s my blog and therefore, it’s about me.)

I know lots of people complain about their mothers, but really??? I just had a conversation that lasted  35:51 and 7/8ths of it was a non-stop gripe-fest.  I just wanted to tell her, “Mother, it’s mother’s day. Would you just shut up and be happy that I called and wanted to talk to you?”

I didn’t.  

Brownie point for me.

Yay!

Maybe next year, I’ll just send a Hallmark card and call it good. 

I guess Florida Scott Maxwell was right… ” No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.”

Today, I’m not feeling improved. I am feeling pretty spoiled though. Darling Hubby made me breakfast in bed, bought me flowers and mowed the lawn today. Yes indeedy. Pretty spoiled.




The Best Days of Our Lives

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go 
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time…”
– Green Day-

Eldest graduates high school in three weeks. Its seems like it has been a lifetime and I suppose it has – hers. But the lifetime I’m actually referring to is mine. As as today is Mother’s Day, I’m a little more introspective than usual. 
It’s been 24 years since my high school graduation and when Youngest graduates next year, it will be 25. A quarter of a century. For the life of me, I have no idea where most of it went.  

Prom

My eldest and I had a short discussion last night as she was upset because she didn’t go to her senior prom. She worked at a job she hates and she closed – which meant she didn’t get off work and home til after midnight. She mentioned to me who was crowned “Prom King.” I suppose when I was 18 that meant something to someone, but in the overall scheme of things, I’m sure my 18 year old self didn’t really give a shit. My 42 year old self feels the same. Prom King and Queen is nothing more than a popularity contest and the real world doesn’t really operate that way. My darlings will find that out soon enough. 

A few other thoughts on prom: For the love of God, it’s expensive. Prom dresses run hundreds to thousands of dollars. Tuxedo rentals are freakishly expensive too. It’s a racket. When I was a kid, I fell in love with this pretty, BIG poofy white prom dress. It was a size 16 and I had it cut down to between an 8 and a 10. I always figured I would wear it again as a wedding dress, but by the time I got married, that really didn’t happen. The dress was expensive back in the 80’s and I have to wonder if I should have just saved some money and wore jeans and a t-shirt and been more comfortable all night.  At least my red Converse tennis shoes saved my feet the burden of wearing heels all night. Best shoe decision ever made. 

Some of the songs played at my prom:
INXS – Need You Tonight
Poison – Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
Breathe – Hands to Heaven
Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me
Terrence Trent D’Arby – Wishing Well
Patrick Swayze – She’s Like the Wind
Information Society – What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)
Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel
Whitney Houston – So Emotional
Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine
Friends

I do remember many of the popular girls and guys in high school; however, and there are a few of them I still think kindly on to this day because they were naturally charismatic and never looked down their noses at others because they weren’t just like them. I think it’s only appropriate that I tell them now I appreciate them. I’m also glad I learned the lesson young to take care to look past appearances and get to know the meat of a person before judging them. 

My bestie and I became friends in high school. In looking back, I still think it’s funny that a tall, leggy blonde would be friends with a tomboy like me. But then again, there’s that appearance thing I was talking about earlier. Obviously she didn’t care either. We just hit it off and we’ve been friends for almost 30 years now. I can’t imagine a day when I couldn’t pick up the phone and say, “Dude… you would not believe….” 

In high school, we made a pact to never fight over boys All girlfriends should have that agreement. It would save a lot of problems down the road.  I had a crush on Shaun. She ended up married to him. Today… that’s probably the best thing that could have happened to either of us. (God bless ya buddy.) 

My other friends in high school, I still keep in touch with now after losing touch for so many years. Facebook is a wonderful thing sometimes. (Now sounding like I’m 95 years old….) Back in the day…. when we all went off to college or whatever, we didn’t have cell phones, we had to write letters to keep up with folks and because life is what it is, we got busy and it all fell by the wayside. I know Facebook and Twitter and whatever other media isn’t the greatest for heart to hearts, but it is a good way to say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you.” I kinda dig that. 

The Future

I still have the same argument I had in high school with my math teachers. I’m never going to need advanced math, why do I need to know it? It took me 20+ years to get my associates degree because of college algebra, which I had to take something like 5 different times – go back and take all the remedial math classes first etc. Without YouTube videos with many different instructors explaining the concepts, I never would have passed. And why? Why do I need a 2 year degree? A bachelors? A Masters? Doctorate? I’m still trying to figure that out.

We push our children toward a higher education (which has an ever growing cost) to have a plan for their lives? Is this correct? Or is it a fall back plan? Or what is it? I’m sure at one time I was certain, but I can honestly say that I’m really not. What does the piece of paper gain you unless you want to BE something SPECIFIC such as a veterinarian, a lawyer, a doctor, etc…? For all the kids who don’t know, I say take the basics so you don’t have to remember them 20 years later when you might need a piece of paper with your name on it and let the rest falls where it falls.  

We always ask our children what they want to be when they grow up. I’m 42 and I can’t answer that question. Sure,  I have always wanted to be two things: a cop and a writer. I have done many different things along the way on my path of growing up, but at the heart of things, I have successfully attempted both and learned that I’m much more suited to one than the other, but never for heart and lack of trying. I just should have done one of them much, much sooner. (Something I hope my girls never do: delay the inevitable.)

Advice

Jobs: There is going to come a point with my children that I have to give them some advice as to their future and I can only tell them to try and figure out what they have passion for. Then to go for what they want with all of their heart and determination. IF they can do that, they will succeed; because even if they fail by mortal men’s standards, there is still success in the fact they gave it their all.

Marriage: Marriage is a give and take. Marry your best friend. If your best friend EVER becomes violent or hits you, get the “F” out and never look back. You are too precious to be someone’s whipping post. 

Cooking: Learn to cook a few meals – even if they are very simple. 

Cleaning: Borax and Baking Soda are wonders. Do NOT mix bleach and ammonia. If for some reason you do… RUN… do not walk to the nearest exit – poisonous gasses are created when you do that. 

Call 911 for emergency help. If you really don’t think it’s that bad, then at least call Poison Control for advice on handling the after-effects of exposure and cleaning up the chemicals. The number for Poison Control is:1-800-222-1222

Vehicles: When buying a new vehicle – remember, the value of the vehicle drops BIGTIME as soon as you drive it off the lot. If possible. buy a really nice used vehicle – have it checked out by a good mechanic before you buy it and pay cash if possible.

Credit Cards: There is no reason to ever have one. This is the single biggest mistake I have ever made in my life. Getting a credit card – especially before the age of 21 is EXTREMELY STUPID AND UNWISE. There is never a reason to have one if you 1) have a debit card and 2) pay cash for what you need. “Lines of Credit” are a myth perpetuated by the finance community so they will make money off of loaning you money. Avoid it if possible. 

Debt: DO NOT GO INTO DEBT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough.

Ok…. I think this is about it for now. I just wanted to get a few things off my chest and I feel a bit better now. Hopefully at some point in time, this will make much more sense to my two darling daughters. 
Ciao for now…
Celeste