Thursday, June 01, 2017

It's Only Make-Believe

So I'm watching CNN and I think, what if there was a parody character called "Kellyanne Conway Twitty"??? And of course, I am not the first to think of this... I'm not sure who was, but Seth MacFarlane, for one, beat me to the punch.

Ah, Seth MacFarlane... I have mixed feelings about him... he is drop-dead gorgeous and insanely talented, but his sense of humor is no smarter than a fifth-grader.  A precocious fifth-grader, but... anyway, great minds think alike, eh??? ;D

Seth either loves or loves to rag on ol' Conway.  Like all Southern white kids in the 70s, I was exposed to regular doses of Conway Twitty.  We watched all those GREAT country music TV shows every Saturday afternoon (as my Granny used to say about watching Andy Griffith) BECAUSE WE HAD TO.  Now, I really love to wax nostalgic about the old country shows and seriously, they played a YUGE part in making me the music lover I am today.  The TV alternatives were limited.  Today's youngsters can not begin to imagine three or four channels. Even the "big three" have local networks!

I don't remember just three channels. I don't remember a time before PBS. I'm not sure when public TV came to Nashville, but I do remember seeing "Sesame Street" mentioned on another show, before I had discovered the Muppets.  That was the first time I ever saw that my mom tried to hide things from me.  She did not want me to start watching "Sesame Street" because she foresaw exactly what happened. She knew I'd get hooked. She didn't want to have to watch silly puppets!

If she were here, I would ask her if she really thought Gilligan was any better.

But back to Conway Twitty.  I DID discover him when I was young, like age four, but that's when he looked like this (from "Hee Haw," by the way, and also used by Seth MacFarlane on "Family Guy"):

If I'd discovered him when he looked like he did in this next clip, I probably would have thought he was hot, like my aunt Peggy and a lot of other women who were young in the 1960s and 70s did. OMG. When Conway died on June 5, 1993, Peggy and one of her friends stayed up late, drinking adult beverages, crying and listening to his music, probably on vinyl... possibly on cassette... maybe, but probably not, on 8-track... and maybe on a CD... not everyone had a player then but they were gaining popularity.  I understood that SHE liked him and I could understand, kind of, because I figured she was about 50 and he was probably about 50 and he sang all those sexy songs and had kind of a cool voice, but I didn't think he was HOT.  But in this clip below, he was kind of cute, and that song is freakin' amazing:

Here is another phenomenal clip of the same song... I did not know this show existed.  As performances go, it's not the best Conway ever did (although it might explain why he didn't dance much once color TV footage began), but it's a piece of broadcasting history for Dick Clark's intro alone. Conway looked very uncomfortable and staged, and had to be lip-synching (I just don't think there was any other way back then) but wow! What a lucky break for an Arkansas boy to share a TV audience with Fabian!

It's only make-believe... just like he's making believe he is singing...  I have a real-life, not make-believe, Conway Twitty story.  When I was 12, I ran into him - I mean, I literally ran.into.him - in a bowling alley in Hendersonville, TN.  He was polite, maybe a little annoyed, but polite.  Later I saw him playing in the 11th Frame Lounge, adjoining the bowling alley, just through the door.  I didn't go in.  That would've been a riot. I was there with my church youth group.  He didn't look it in black-and-white, but he was in his mid-20s by the time he made it to Dick Clark's Beech-Nut Show.  That makes me feel better.  I think it's kind of creepy for an old woman to think such a young man would be attractive!  But my daughter will be 25 this summer - NEXT MONTH! - so I guess that's why Conway looks like a kid in those video clips.

I have always had a great sense of imagination. I'm glad that it has grown up along with me, but I am really sorry that I haven't written everything I've dreamt up over the years.  I created characters based on people I knew but mostly based on "what if" scenarios I dreamed up about them.  I have a lot of these stories but now, I don't have nearly enough time to write about them. I'm trying, though. I'm busy in my "real job" but I have a lot more time than I let myself believe.  I like writing non-fiction as well as fiction.. or maybe I should say, real life as much as make-believe.  I'm blessed to have great memories and imagination for both.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

How can people have no feelings? Easy to be hard... easy to say no

I don't go political too much, but I have been hearing so much about healthcare reform, etc. lately. I have a lot to say about it, not as an employee but as a wife, mother, and daughter... as a woman, as a human.

No, health care is not a "right" per se, but in a country that wants to be one of the greatest, people should be able to access the necessary healthcare no matter their income. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If we have the right to life that means we have the right to do what's necessary to avoid death. Being ill can often feel like imprisonment, the opposite of liberty. One can be happy in poor health, but it's not easy. I have no problem with working to pay for my health insurance. The rock star and I always have. I also have no problem with my tax dollars helping people who truly cannot work to pay for their health insurance. For example, my mom had stage IV cancer and worked as a "cafeteria lady" far longer than most people in her condition would have because long-term disability wouldn't pay enough to maintain her coverage. She got a type of state-funded insurance, which she had previously when she was working in a job that did not provide insurance. Her doctor became angry when she changed coverage, but she had little choice if she wanted to buy food and have running water and electricity. Someone I knew years ago was paralyzed on a motorcycle. He has since passed, but he couldn't work. He was in his early 20s. Could you look him in the eye and tell him he didn't deserve healthcare???

I read an article where a man said that people who lived right don't have pre-existing conditions. The writer specifically mentioned strokes, heart problems, and birth defects. The rock star had a stroke at age 4 (yes, four) because of a birth defect - a heart problem. Not only that, but my grandmother had a stroke at age six. I'm not kidding. Personally, I am INSULTED that I would be blamed for my child having a birth defect. Yes, I had one of those too. I still have him! I did not smoke or do drugs when I was pregnant. I had a cold and had to take some medicine early on, which was okayed by my doctor. I don't want to say I'm a victim, but I don't think it was my fault. Nor do I blame my father-in-law for becoming the father of the rock star ten months after coming home from Vietnam where he was often exposed to Agent Orange... he didn't get drafted, he enlisted... but no, it was not his fault that his son was born with a life-threatening heart defect. I read someone's comment that Jimmy Kimmel's child was born with a heart defect because it was "karma" because he made jokes about Donald Trump. I disagree. Besides, what did that tiny baby do to deserve that?

I have a pre-existing condition, though i wasn't born with it. I'll take responsibility for my Type 2 diabetes. I ate my way into it. I'm sure all those low-fat, high-carb foods I ate in attempts to lose weight and maintain it in my 20s and 30s didn't have anything to do with my body becoming insulin resistant. I had inherited a predisposition to blood sugar issues. And my mom's cancer? She didn't smoke, seldom drank, tried to eat right and maintain a healthy weight, and exercised regularly most of her adult life. So why did she get cancer? Oh, that was probably hereditary too. What do you think about people whose genetic profiles show predisposition to diseases? Should we deny coverage to those people because we know it's going to cost more to take care of them? You going to look me in the eye and tell me no? And the young but now deceased motorcyclist? What if I told you he was driving too fast and was at fault? Would you look him in the eye and deny him coverage after that?

I have a problem with people who think it's ok to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Even though our insurance pays for those, our dental insurance would NOT cover needed dental implants for our child who was born with a cleft palate, and had teeth that did not form enamel properly (a condition that also affected my brother, though his lip and palate were fine). He had two root canals that had broken in the growth and surgical process. He had one tooth I jokingly called a "bubba tooth" - he laughed at it too - but it really wasn't funny, it was only about half a tooth. This after nine years of braces, 12 years of dental appliances... in his (then) 18 years of life.

If my brothers, uncle, and I had not just sold my mother's house, I'd planned to refinance my car to borrow that money. We're talking five digits worth of money, and that's not counting the numbers on the right of the decimal. I felt like we were lucky. I'd rather have had my mom living in that house, but I felt she would have approved of the money being spent that way.

I agree that the ACA - "Obamacare," as it is so frequently called, is not really its name - needs work and maybe even replacement. I want to see pre-existing conditions left in. I say we do not need caps on coverage. My sweet rock star and son might have had to do without healthcare... and who knows when we'd have had to start doing without. My mom's insurance company re-analyzed several medicines over the years. I think they were surprised that someone who had been through all she had was still alive, so they didn't realize they had to keep paying for those drugs!

When I was a new nuclear medicine tech back in the early 90s, occasionally I would see kids who had been born with cystic fibrosis (CF). Back then, a kid born with CF had a life expectancy of maybe 20 years. Now, babies born with the disease have a much longer life expectancy as more and more patients are living into their 40s and even beyond. If you put a cap on their benefits, some of those kids would not survive that long because they sometimes spend a lot of time in the hospital. I care, and that's because one of my childhood friends has a child with the disease. I don't know for certain but I would be beyond shocked if I learned that they had done anything at all during pregnancy to "deserve" a child with such a condition. No, that, like so many other things, is a GENETIC issue.

If you are healthy and have lived a "good" lifestyle, you are LUCKY. You won the genetic lottery. You may be taking good care of yourself and for that, you should be proud, but you should not judge others, for you do not know their stories. Can you honestly say you've never overeaten, or had too much ice cream, or just once, slept instead of working out? Can you truly say you've never broken the speed limit? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. As the saying goes, Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. (source unknown; attributed to Plato)

How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who care about evil
And social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend

How can people be so heartless
You know I'm hung up on you
Easy to give in
Easy to help out

And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who say they care about social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

Ragni, Gerome / Rado, James / Mac Dermot, Galt

Sunday, April 16, 2017

I can see clearly now

And so will you after you read this!

(Note: I actually wrote this on Friday, 4/14... not today, Easter Sunday! He is risen!!!)

I wanted to clarify something from my last post. I am beyond happy with the rockstar. I don't want to go back in time and change anything. 

Everybody has regrets. Lots of people say "no regrets," but we all know they're trying to convince themselves. When I look back on life, it's easy to see that sometimes I settled for less than I should have, not just in romance but in other ways too.  I regret letting people treat me badly, including Donnie and, at times, the rockstar (though I also regret some things I said and did to him, but you know, another story for another day). I'm no diva expecting the royal treatment, but I'm not a doormat and I've let a lot of people walk on me in the last 49.95 years. 

I'm thankful for the Donnie experience. It that taught me what not to do with a good relationship. I'm thankful I didn't throw myself at Robert. What if he had liked brunettes better? Or tall girls? Or men? He might've broken my heart too. More importantly, he might've kept me from marrying the rockstar, which was obviously meant to be. 

Clearly, it wasn't meant to be with Robert.

I'm glad I saw the picture back in 2015 because:

1) When Donnie contacted me that fall to tell me how he regretted being immature in 1985, I was going through a very rough patch in my marriage. That's over now, thank God, but if I hadn't had the reminder of my regret at not breaking up with Donnie earlier, I might've been easily swayed.  THEN, you wanna talk about some regrets... I'm sure I'd have a book full.

2) I had a great story to add to a sermon about not writing because of my unresolved feelings about John-Boy. Robert kind of looked like Richard Thomas back in the day.

3) I learned about what an inspiring woman Robert's mother was, and I got to meet the family!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

It's all right now, Heaven should be proud


Just like when I was 18.

And it took about 45 minutes to get up the nerve to go up and talk to them. But I did, and now I’ll tell you about it.

Some stories develop a life all their own. Maybe it's a writer thing or an OCD thing, but some events in life turn into more than you expected. Sometimes one plus one equals more than two. Like when I sat watching CMT while Derek was in surgery, and saw a one-time promo video with Buck Owens and his “right-hand man,” and my mission became learning about this Don Rich guy, and… here I am 22 years later, still writing about Hee Haw.

So it is with today's blog entry.

While subbing at a high school in August 2015, I saw class composite pictures dating back to the 1960s. I recognized two brothers, Robert and Michael (not their real names) in the class of 1982 from their jobs in the college bookstore.  Robert frequented the Placement Office, my work-study job. I submitted his resume’ for every potentially fitting job, because even at age 18, I recognized that he was a good worker. I also thought he was gorgeous.

My first year of college, my boyfriend Donnie lived 35 miles away.  (Again, all names have been changed to protect the innocent… and the guilty.) Our romance the summer after graduation was fun and intense.  After college began and football season ended, things got weird.  This guy who’d proposed in my driveway and wanted me home every weekend suddenly stopped inviting me to family dinners. Donnie’s perfect date was semi-pro wrestling. That was fun at first, but got old quick. I wanted him to visit me, like other girls’ boyfriends.  My roommate left every weekend, so we would've had the dorm all to ourselves, but he didn't want to “make that drive.” He preferred my grandparents' house while they wintered in Florida, or his neighbor's shack, where we could hang out on their waterbed.

I was miserable, but I felt committed to Donnie.  In high school, I embarrassed myself by throwing myself at boys I liked. At least with Donnie, I didn’t have to be rejected by anyone else. I thought I should be satisfied. In general, he wasn’t a bad person. He went to church (but never mine, only his mama's), and didn’t drink or do drugs, but, as he even admitted to me years later, he was immature. Honestly, I wasn't much better.  I said all that to say that if I ever thought about taking a chance with Robert (and I did, quite often), I didn't act on it because I felt obligated to Donnie. 

Eventually, he got tired of pretending he wanted to be married, and decided we should take a break. I don’t think I ever cried. I was tired of playing the game too. It was a little too late for me to get to know Robert, as he was about to graduate.  My life got exponentially better though, and fast.  Within a year, I was dating "the rock star." Donnie wanted me back later, but I was done.

But enough about my history.

That day I subbed and saw the composite pic, I wondered what had happened to Robert, and to a lesser extent, Michael. Did they live close by? Did they have children at the school? So when I got home, I did what everybody does in 2017, or at the time, 2015, I Googled them. I saw Robert still had the job I almost kept him from getting.  But more on that later. Neither one married.

I found their names in the obit for their father, who left several siblings, his wife, Edith, 10 sons, and four daughters. That’s right, 14 kids.  I looked for an obituary for Edith. There wasn’t one, but I found the 1975 Tennessean article spotlighting this amazing family who built a beautiful home on a farm and made it work. My imagination whirled: what a life story! I wanted to interview this woman who grew up in Indiana during the Depression, became a “WAC” when it wasn’t all that common for a woman to do so, married someone she met at the end of the war, moved to his home state and contributed to the baby boom - in a big way. But these days, if someone walked up to my door and wanted to talk about my life story and maybe publish an article about me, I'd probably leave them on the porch, so I never approached any of them. 

The 1975 article grazed over the deaths of two additional children; being a morbidly curious nut, I learned that the first, a girl, died shortly after birth, and the third, a boy, at around age 6. Another died in his 40s, leaving nine sons and four daughters to survive Edith, who died this past Sunday of pneumonia.  I have a morbid habit of looking at funeral home websites and newspaper obituaries. I don’t do it every day, but several times a week.  I’ve said before that good Southerners look at the obituaries to find out who they need to visit and bring a casserole.

Today I got to meet several of them.  I sat in the back of the chapel for a long time, observing. Nervous, like I was still 18.  Finally, I got up and walked to the front, where I told Robert my story about wanting to meet his mother. I conveniently left out the part about often wishing I had taken a chance and flirted with him back in the day.  That, too, is a story for another time. I believe I've shared enough of it today.

I also shared my story with Michael, two sisters, and another brother. I told them all my regrets at not getting to meet her. I don’t think I sounded too creepy. If you’re honest, and sincerely show interest in people, they realize you aren't out to hurt them.  I try to be charming too. Hahaha… I realize not everyone has honest motives, and some people use their charm with very impure motives, but that’s not me.  I met two more brothers before I left.  Sweet folks. I may tell more of this woman's story in another blog entry. She lived a long, full life. She was a veteran. She was a super mom – didn’t have a job outside the home but successfully raising all those children and running a farm with her husband - she was an inspiration to me, and I didn't even know her.

I don’t know if this is a nationwide thing, but in the South, funeral homes hand out little folded papers with a picture of the deceased, dates and places of birth and death, surviving family members, etc.  Inside Edith’s, Proverbs 31:10-31 was printed.  I believe it described her well.  You should look it up, but here are a few verses:

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Friday, April 07, 2017

What a day that will be

That's an old gospel standard, written by Jim Hill and part of the Speer family catalog. Today is a beautiful day and it's been good for me, because I got the results from the ARRT. I'm now a "real" MRI tech!  However, it's a sad day in southern gospel music, because Ben Speer slipped the surly bonds of earth less than an hour into this day.

I've written before about how southern gospel made me who I am today (among other genres) and in the last couple of days I've thought a lot about the "Old Time Singing Convention."  It was a simpler time, and even then I'm sure people thought we were headed to Hell in a hand basket compared to "old times."  I'll be 50 in a month, and I don't like thinking that my childhood was in the "good ole days," but things really HAVE changed! Like this blog. I'm sitting in the passenger side of Randy's truck on I-40 between Lebanon and Carthage, typing on a PHONE I hold in my hand and though the coverage here probably isn't great, I will be able to publish this online, worldwide, in a few minutes, for almost free, just the cost of my service plan. We're listening to a podcast from Randy's iPod.  I made this trip many times in the 1970s in the back seat of a Monte Carlo with an AM radio. Maybe we had an 8-track player. This band featured on the podcast was around in the 70s but we didn't know it yet (Big Star - that was a grocery store chain back then).

What a day, indeed.