Saturday, July 08, 2006

has it all just been wasted time? probably not

well, tonight i've been sitting here wasting time. i've been playing spider solitaire for hours.

what in the heck is wrong with me? why do i do this? i think life is as good as it's been in years. i think life is pretty full, and mostly very happy. i have a wonderful husband whom i love deeply and dearly. i have two beautiful, intelligent, talented children with distinct and (mostly!) pleasant personalities. i have good relationships with the rest of my family. i have quite a few good friends both here and far away. i have a great church family, most of my neighbors are great, i have an awesome job and a lot of happiness.

i am not always happy with my house, and i often wish i had a better one, either bigger or on more land or newer or closer to work or to my family or to the kids' school, but overall i'm happy here. i've got a few projects going that i think will make a lot of difference in the future here, and i really, really think i'd rather live in this location than my beloved hometown.

i'm generally unhappy with my body, because i'm overweight in a society that obsesses over the waifish, paper-thin stars. i have some health issues too, but in general i'm doing better now than i was a few months ago, so i'm happy with that.

i don't always like running into my old classmates because i got really fat (compared to most of them) and I don't live in a fancy house or have a lot of money or land. but in general, i think i'm a lot better person now than i was then, because i'm wiser and have learned to love all kinds of people. and, i know i'm a heck of a lot happier now than i was back then. immeasurably so. like the visa commercials. priceless.

obviously, by my nostalgic websites and previous blog entries you can tell that i'm one of those kids who had a great childhood. for the first six years of my life i was an only child. i was kind of lonely, and didn't always get along with other kids so well, but in many ways it was the best time of my life. i could read at age two, i wrote at three, and did simple math at four. no, i am not kidding. this is true. you can ask my mom, or one of many witnesses.

my mom was a teenager when i was born (but she was married first!) so we grew up together, really. not to say she was a bad mom, because she wasn't bad at all. but she was a fun mom. we listened to rock and roll, we watched tv together, and she took me swimming and shopping and to church. with daddy, we also went to the races. when i was really small i didn't like the races, but as i got older i began to learn who the drivers were and i enjoyed that. i distinctly remember seeing marty robbins, darrell waltrip and coo coo marlin race.

my grandparents were young too, and fun. being a grandchild was an advantage because...well, you know how grandparents are about their grandkids. with them i could do just about anything i wanted. they took me to eat with them, usually to fancy steakhouses, or sometimes to burger joints. my dad's parents were a little older than mom's, but they took me out too, usually when they did their grocery shopping. i listened to the grand ole opry and vanderbilt basketball games on the radio with granny ione. we also watched porter wagoner and pop goes the country. now she's 81, and we still watch those shows together.

my great-aunt never had any children but she was like a third grandmother to me. she had a small house on a big farm. today, she's gone and her husband's only son owns the land, and it's probably worth at least a million dollars. back then it was just a farm. i spent many friday nights out there even after i was old enough to drive. many of my best childhood memories are right there on that farm, playing in the barn, lying out in the yard watching the wind blow the leaves, watching in amazement as the hen laid eggs, watching pigs wallow in the mud, driving the tractor. her house was full of books and magazines. on friday nights we'd watch the dukes and then dallas, and sometimes falcon crest.

she had a subscription to a magazine called "health" or something like that. i don't know if it's the same magazine that's out there now, but i learned a lot. i loved reading that. i think it's part of what makes me what i am. my uncle worked in a factory and would bring home rolls of paper on which i drew, and wrote stories and plays for my mom and my uncle's son and their farmhand and everyone else to participate in. it was there on that farm that i first remember playing with imaginary friends which later developed into characters that i write about now.

i have a lot of "hippie" memories even though my parents were very blue-collar traditional. i remember one lady in the neighborhood who had short hair, but a hippie attitude. bless her soul, she gave her life doing something that would make hippies proud of her, she was a subject in a clinical trial to help people who were suffering from some kind of cancer. anyway, i also recall my very conservative afore-mentioned great aunt who had a lava lamp. i recall my grandfather who took me grocery shopping drove vw beetles and even had a vw van. he was no hippie, but he drove a hippie bus! hippies were everywhere on tv, and we listened to the mamas and the papas and the byrds, among other stuff. there was a cool-looking house just up the hill from us, painted red, that looked like hippies should live there. and my aunts had younger sisters who had beads in their bedrooms.

life changed for me in not such a good way when my brother was born, not because he was so awful (though i thought he was at the time), but because i had been the center of attention. suddenly i wasn't my parents' only baby to tend, and at the same time, i wasn't getting much attention because i could read. after all, most of my classmates could read by that time too. if anything, being smart led to being picked on at school. i tried to play dumb just to fit in. i don't really regret that. nobody was fooled, but i think people saw that i didn't want to make them look dumb. even then i realized that just because i was smarter than some people in some areas, other people were smarter than me about other subjects.

during my teen years i really acted goofy and in general, i look back on my teenage years with a whole lot of embarrassment. i wasn't a hell raiser (that would come in my early 20's) but i was just a drama queen and again, trying to be the center of attention. i do have a lot of fun memories of my teens but many more embarrassing ones. i have a few sad memories too, but the worst of those are entwined with some of the embarrassing moments, which just makes it more painful. i tell the kids often, there are just some things about the 80's i'd just as soon not remember.

in college, at first i lived a pretty dull life and daydreamed about going home, where at least i could be married and live the exciting young adult life. but we broke up (thank God!!!) and i got some wings and flew out of the cave of boredom and started living the more exciting college life. i spent way too much time having fun. when people say they go to college to get their mrs. degree, i don't laugh. i did too. you know that movie, "everybody's all american," when babs says, "i'm majorin' in gavin and me," i remember that feeling. i didn't intend to go to college to major in randy and me, but that's what i ended up doing. i guess it was obvious to everyone who knew us that we would be together for life. when i see people i haven't heard from since college, they immediately ask how randy's doing. i understand they ask him about me too.

oh, goodness, i have sat here and told my life story. well, i didn't talk about my marriage, or my life as a young mother, or my work life - madisonville (ah, the follies of young adulthood), or the va (oh, the stupidity of young adulthood), or the northcrest years (oh, you don't want to know), or the prn years (what a mess), or the skyline years (when all of a sudden it was everybody else's fault that life sucked). i haven't talked about the churches we've been a part of and how those affected our lives. in some ways, i think all those years and the good and the bad and the mistakes and the positives all are linked to the unfinished business and unpacked baggage from those early years. it took all those experiences to turn me into who i am today.

a lot of people talk about their "authentic self." i think that little girl who watched darrell waltrip and hee haw and wrote and played in the barn and loved the vw bus is my authentic self. that's as bottom-line as it gets for me. if that is the goal of life, to get in touch with that person inside, then i have been a great success, and i will never think otherwise again.

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