Tuesday, March 27, 2018

One of these nights...

One of these nights I'm gonna write something absolutely amazing and powerful and I'm really looking forward to it.

So far, I haven't figured out what that is, exactly... but I'm okay with that.  I'll keep on writing until I do.

I'd love to write more, and really, I DO write more than I post on this blog because I prefer not to just throw everything I think onto a blog like a diary for everyone in the universe to read.  I work a lot, and I love what I do 99.44% of the time but I would love to have more time to write.  I spend too much time trying to make money. Well, I might as well while I'm able and my kids aren't little anymore so that I can retire before I die.  I tell people I write every chance I get but it's really not true.  If it were true, I'd have a lot more material to read.  I have many, many stories in my head that I really should put into writing, because I know I'm not going to live forever (at least not in this realm, and I'm not sure how much of my brain will make it through the life I'm living now) and I don't want the stories and characters to die with me. After I'm gone my kids can pass this stuff on to other people, or just give them away, but hopefully, I'll get some of them out into the world and let the universe decide whether they're worth keeping.

There were also people who once walked this earth and not just through my brain whose stories shouldn't be forgotten either.  Those who passed after about 2005 will have more information about them on the Internet for future generations than those who passed before that, and there are stories in the old newspapers and databases for those who wish to look for those folks.  Still there are people who lived quiet and simple lives, whose stories weren't compelling Nicholas Sparks novel fodder (or even Lifetime movie fodder), who've left serious marks on the manuscript of my own life.  My grandmother was one... one of her father's seventeen children as well as one of her mother's eleven.  Her oldest sister Lorene was evidently unable to bear children of her own, but I never, ever heard her complain about that, or talk about it at all.  I never asked her why she didn't have children, maybe because I was afraid to bring it up.  Her husband had lost two children in the Christmas Eve crash that claimed his first wife and left him with only his son. Maybe she figured it might've been better to have had no children at all.  His son gave her four step-grandchildren that she dearly loved in her own quiet way.  She wasn't the kind of grandmother who took the kids to Opryland (actually they didn't have that on either side, but all their grandparents cared for them very much) but she baked them goodies and visited them and kept an eye on them and probably went to graduations and things like that, I don't remember.  She also kept a lot of other relatives, like me. 

She, like Granny, had a portrait of a handsome young man I never had the privilege to know, my uncle Olie.  His death at age 18 was one of those events you see in movies, where a local teenager gets really sick (or has an accident or gets shot or... you get the picture) and dies young and the whole town shuts down for the funeral.  But before I knew all that about the town's reaction, I knew that my grandmother and all her family lost a dear brother, son, grandson, and uncle.  I guess because he didn't live long enough to have children and grandchildren of his own, I felt sort of obligated to keep his memory alive.  I think others in my family might've felt that way too.  For example, my uncle Lanny put a new headstone on Olie's grave.  Lanny was just a little fella when Olie died; I think he was about 3.

These are just a few of the stories I'd like to share, as well as some of the fictional characters I've created over the years.  Some of my characters are loosely based on real people and real events, but in general most are purely made up.  Here's an example of that:  I used to wonder what it would've been like if Lorene and her first husband had adopted a child, or had a baby late in life. Everette was only in his early 40s when he died, so he would've died very early in this baby's life.  I came up with a lot of good stories and characters from that "what if" story. Many of my stories are "what ifs" or at least they start out that way.  I do a lot of research into the past to find details and ideas.  Like looking at Olie's death certificate and obituary. 

I need to be looking at the inside of my eyelids.  Gotta go make that money while it's there.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Let me tell ya that it... HURTS SO BAD

I've written about my health and constant, chronic pain before.  Today, it is reaching new heights.  I slept about 3 hours, then I woke up to go to the bathroom and then I was hitting that period of the morning where different alarms go off every so often, my attempt at keeping my body waking up at around 5 AM when I go back to work tomorrow.  So I was in serious pain when it was time to get ready for church, and I decided not to go.  I didn't really want to miss church, but I sure didn't want to stand in the choir loft (or in the congregation) or sit in the pews while my feet were aching like sore teeth.

If you want to think I'm Miss Cheerful and never complain about anything... stop reading now, because it's gonna get hateful in here.  I hate dealing with chronic pain.  When I was in 3rd grade, I got to know a girl who was diabetic and I wanted to learn all about her.  I was a little jealous because she had a mid-morning break when she went to the teachers' lounge and my suspicion was that she had a snack (I was usually hungry before lunch so this seemed positive) and had to test her sugar... which was all by urine at the time, no sticking.  I thought it was a built-in diet trick to always drink diet sodas, I thought that would keep her from being a fat adult. (It didn't. She's not huge, but has never been thin.)  That was very important to me at the time. She did have to get insulin shots, but they didn't seem to bother her like shots bothered me. I thought, the worst thing that can happen is that old people with diabetes sometimes lost toes, and I wasn't sure why that happened, but her 11-year-old toes seemed to be in decent shape.  I also thought if shots were the worst thing... well, let me assure you, they are not.

The neuropathy started sometime around November, 2008.  I'd been diabetic for at least 2 years before that, and it wasn't too long after my diagnosis.  I was insulin resistant for many years, since at least 1985 and probably a few years before.  I thought it was just a genetic thing, most of my mom's family dealt with it.  I didn't realize what that was doing to my body, and I didn't realize that the way I ate was making it worse.  I had gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, and though I didn't the second time, I did have a nine pound baby that time - both risk factors for developing diabetes later in life.  Even that didn't scare me.  I thought because I had low blood sugar that I wouldn't become diabetic, just like I couldn't starve myself because my sugar would dip too low.  Honestly, if my blood sugars hadn't been so wild, I probably would've been anorexic because food was always the enemy.  But I'd let them drop too low and then stuff some carbs down to get me through.  Carbs couldn't be too bad, right?  After all, they were low in fat and fat was the problem, right?  I ate more complex carbs, like pasta and potatoes, because they weren't simple sugars like candy that would run through me quickly.  I began to realize that I could eat sugars IF i ate something with protein first, so I did.

When I was diagnosed, I thought if I took my meds, I could still eat what I wanted, within limits.  I didn't really want as much sweet stuff, but I did still like it.  I thought I would never be able to cut carbs out completely, and I was eating so much less sugar than I used to, but eventually, they had to stop one of my medicines because of the liver function tests going haywire, so I just gave up and threw all caution to the wind.  For a year or so I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.  Eventually I did attempt to cut out carbs, and I'm still pretty good at that, but I do eat some.  Like I had a hot dog, and instead of carb-laden side dishes, I had - sit down - a BUN!  Oops. Flag on the play.  The touchdown will not count.

I've been thoroughly disappointed with the inability of modern medicine to cure my pain.  Doctors say, "You've got to have better control of your sugar."  I'm like, it's 3:00 pm and all I've had all day was a protein shake that says it contains 25 carbs.  How could my sugars be high because of that?  So why are they hurting? Well, lots of things can make them hurt... but only keeping my sugars low is the only relief I can get???

I would try medical marijuana, but I live in a non-legal state.  I'm told my state representatives share the Attorney General's belief that marijuana leads to harder drugs.  I went to college.  I tried "weed" back in the day.  I never did any stronger drugs, and I was offered cocaine more than once.  For the record, I didn't try marijuana the first few times it was offered either.  I guess I did do "harder" drugs at times... I had morphine after surgery.  Once in awhile I'd have a prescription for an opiate, when I had broken bones and migraines and toothaches.  The medicine would help with whatever pain I was in at the time, but that wasn't because I smoked pot in college.  I could understand how people got hooked on opiates, because after surgery, it was a little scary to think about the pain without the drugs, but I was able to go longer and longer without them and substitute Tylenol for doses during the day until I could easily wean off the "hard stuff."  Nowadays I can't even get the doctors to write me a prescription for pain medicine, because it's taboo to prescribe opioids.  Oh, and by the way, I live in the number one opiate-prescribing state according to this study.  Not surprising, considering we are a long way from a medically-legal marijuana state.  I think in a few years our neighbor Arkansas will have it.  That's only three hours from me... certainly not convenient for moving.  Oh, if Kentucky would allow it, I'd probably move the 13 miles due north for that.

So i am left to my own devices to drown out the pain.  I'm gonna try turmeric.  Hell, what do I have to lose?  I go to bed terrified of what the next day is going to bring.  I have no guarantee that a night's sleep will allow me to wake up feeling energetic and pain-free.  (Occasionally, it happens.)  If I have to work, will I be miserable all day?  Maybe I'll have a good day and it'll feel better.  But after I stand a lot, what will my night be like?  If I can't sleep, I'm guaranteed a day of intense pain.  I have to check all the boxes:  a good night of rest, all medications taken on time, all meals at the correct time (which doesn't happen often in my work), no carbs (even on Christmas! Diabetes doesn't take a holiday), a good balance of sitting and standing and walking (something else I can't always control in my job).  Now, who among us can check all those boxes every.single.day?  Maybe I am a loser because I screw up on that list on a pretty regular basis.  Then there are the matters none of us can control, such as weather.  Did we get a cold front?  Count on extra pain.  Rain?  Probably.  But it's the way I eat that's the problem.  RIGHT.  Too cold in the room?  Better cover those feet, but socks are usually too tight, exacerbating the pain.

It's a vicious cycle.  Sleep late and take meds late?  Ouch.  Work to make money and, let's face it, to keep me on my feet... and pay for it later with sleepless nights.  It's driving me insane.  I've tried B-6, B-12, biotin, evening primrose oil, alpha-lipoic acid, multi-vitamins, Metanx, and using a TENS unit... ice, heating pad, more water, liquor, prayer (begging), and acupuncture.  While the latter can be helpful, it can also be useless. I've experienced more movement after a treatment, but also experienced more pain after one too.

If I get a lot of negative comments on today's post, I'll just shut down the comments on it.  So, if you have a suggestion (like the many who say, just eat less, just exercise more... ha, let me put you into my day and see how YOU do), let your words be nice and sweet, for later they may be words you'll have to eat.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Easy like Sunday morning

For awhile I've been considering some options for maintaining my websites in the short time I have available after working 40 hours a week and commuting another 10 plus hours. I have a lot to add to all my pages and it could be a great source of residual income for the dry spells I go through as a PRN healthcare employee.

In that spirit, I've decided to create a blog and a Facebook page for all my pages that don't yet have one. So bookmark classiccountrymusicmemories.blogspot.comfranksuttonpage.blogspot.com, and travelertheband.blogspot.com. I'll be  able to add information on the fly now, which should make it easier for me to keep things fresh. The blogs should also facilitate cataloging. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Just remember I love you, more than I can say... maybe then your blues will fade away

And I almost titled this one "Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher," because it was out that year.  I was just tired of looking for a more appropriate title from the year in my mind. 

In 1977, I turned ten. My world was pretty small. I was born in Nashville but I lived just north of the county line in Ridgetop.  I thought Nashville was a pretty important place, like Chicago or New York.  I had no idea that there were bigger places in the world, though I had heard of far-away cities like New York and Atlanta.  I had been to the ocean in North Carolina, which made me a little different from my classmates who went to PCB every couple of years.

Two girls moved in up the road from my grandparents' house in the mid '70s.  They were from Seattle, which was way, way up in the return address corner of the United States.  Looking at it on the globe, it looked like it would be much colder, and I learned that sometimes it was, but they had a lot of weather similar to ours in Tennessee with sunshine and rain.  Humidity was something else.  It's still something else, let me tell you.

Looking back, I never began to comprehend what it must have been like to be a newcomer in a town like Ridgetop.  Having moved out of town a few times since then, I feel a little sorry about that. Everybody in Ridgetop must have seemed to be related. They moved to a house on a hill, a house built by my grandmother's family when she was a little girl and their old house on that same location burned.  From the front yard one could see eight houses.  I had relatives in two of those houses, my grandmother and her cousin Jerry.  Another neighbor was my aunt's sister-in-law.  She grew up there too.

That summer the neighbor girls' dad was transferred and they returned to Seattle.  Elvis died, Star Wars premiered, and other things happened that stamped the year in my memory. One happened to my brother.  Mom took him to day care, where he refused to drink the milk.  They thought he was just "faking" when he said he was allergic.  He obeyed.  He vomited.  Mom found another babysitter quick, cousin Jerry's wife Wanda.  Mom hadn't considered really thought of her earlier because she seemed to keep a lot of kids and had her hands full.  To my knowledge though, she never lost any!  At first I stayed by myself at my grandmother's house that summer, but there was some family trouble going on (other unforgettable events I don't want to write about tonight, and a few I didn't really understand) so I started going to Wanda's too.  I think she saw me as another big kid who could help with the little ones, like her younger brother and nephews who dropped in frequently.

Jerry was one of my favorite relatives.  He was one of those people who always had a smile.  Even in sad moments, he could muster up a grin.  He was funny and kind.  When I was a very little girl, long before 1977, I remember thinking he was cute.  Back then we called him "Jerry Lee."  I noticed a lot of my relatives calling him that today; I even found myself saying it.  When he was born he had a hole in his heart, and some of my earliest memories of him involved him being in the hospital in serious condition, having had a heart attack or something at a very early age (like 24 maybe?).  I remember being told his heart had stopped but he was brought back to life.  I knew what that meant.  It was very scary and I remember being very afraid that he would die.

I wish I could've seen him recently.  Most of the times I've seen him over the past 20 years were when he was working on cars out in the yard and the garage, and I was driving by on my way to Mom's and Granddaddy's.  I think I saw him at Mom's funeral; I know I saw him at Granddaddy's and talked to him for quite a while.

Today I went to his funeral.  I sure hated to see him go.  I pray for Wanda and his kids and grandkids.  Ridgetop is a sadder place without him for sure.

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.