10 07 2008

If you are wondering, which I’m sure you were, I think I have a low-burning ADD. My oldest niece has this as well. She turns 12 next week and I’m afraid she’s turning out a bit like me much to sister Homer’s dismay.

Oh, and she’s cuter.

She’s fallen in love with Tim Burton films. Now this makes me as happy as a clam. I’m sure we will have her into Akira Kurosawa films before long. And she loves horror movies. I got a keeper, campers.

Her friends think it’s odd, her love of pop culture, because I’ve gone through this too.

As a kid, about twice a month we’d head to Jackson and I’d get a couple of books usually about ufos and Bigfoot or the latest horror novel. I was obsessed. Thank goodness for a tolerant pseudo-hippie/70s disco mom.

As I got older, I like Star Trek, Buffy, anything Whedonverse, jazz music and the list goes on.

Asa is like me in a lot of ways. First it was The Nanny (I know, she was 5 and God knows, we wanted to kill ourselves every time we heard Fran Dresher’s voice), then it was Wicked. For two years we did Wicked a thousand times and now it’s Tim Burton.

She’s getting better in picking the cool.

She also reads politics and asked me recently why Jesse Helms didn’t like people. I did not prompt her with this remark. She also asks if her generation is going to have to pay for the last 8 years. I, once again, did not prompt her.

Good girl.

Glad I could be of help.

Oh, and Homer, sorry.

Annoying Autobiographical Pause: Real

11 06 2008

My girls. The nieces.

Dammit if I don’t adore them

Yeah, mine. Or Homer’s rather.

I just borrow them.

Love is great.

The older one won’t let me take pictures, but there is this:

I like to call her Shecky.

Homer and Squeegee Monkey make some amazing children. I’m honored to be their Aunt Tick.

Having a family moment here. Bear with.

Mother’s Day Without A Mother

10 05 2008

There is always a time around Mother’s Day that Homer and I hit what I tend to call “the angries.”

It comes out of nowhere and is always a surprise. One of us, either her or myself, will recognize that we are pissed off collectively because there is no mother here.

And on another note, something you may not know, is Homer was born on Mother’s Day. This year, her birthday is Monday but youngest niece Bear’s is tomorrow.

I may be wrong but I think Mother’s Day is especially hard for Homer. More so because they had that bond of Homer being the Mother’s Day Blessing for my mother. Thinking about it makes me choke up a little bit. It was what my mother always said about my little sis and it was more than true.

We find ourselves on edge, reacting far more emotionally than we usually do. For those of you who haven’t lost your mom, it’s hard to describe how things creep up on you. Recently, I ate my Mom’s recommendation for comfort food.

I was tired, drowning under an increased workpile, feeling like I’m never going to get it all together, not enough time, trying to decide if I’m going to move forward in a blogging project I’m working on, alternating between fear and an in depth mania to sustain a schedule that I know will be difficult to keep at such a breakneck speed, and I needed to unwind and not feel anything for awhile.

I made my comfort food that she always made me when I was a kid and I was hit with a wave of grief that I cannot explain. I felt if I was drowning in my own soul missing her more than I could ever explain. There is no medication you can take for loss, no quick fix, if you will.

Ten years ago February, my mother died after a hard fight with cancer. Ten years ago Monday, Homer turned 30. Ten years ago, we could barely remember to breath. Ten years ago, we lost our best friend.

I am not alone but I find that only other people who have lost their mothers understand the black hole that we stare in during Mother’s Day. We have to find within ourselves that place where we can focus on the beauty of our relationships with our moms that molded us.

But some of us hit the angries. And when we get there, it’s always startling. It’s most surprising because we think we are over it.

You never get over it.


Annoying Autobiographical Pause #034

7 05 2008

Last night I went to a third grade concert where Bear sang songs with her class. It was adorably sweet (shut up) and I found myself quite smitten with the whole thing.

This may sound weird but it was very NPR-like. I don’t know how to explain it any other way.

I know, I’m a softie. As it is tournament time for high schools here in America, Squirrel Queen walked in as the festivities were ending but we got Bear flowers which her older sis gave to her.

There isn’t anything nicer than seeing a kid beam with pride of a job well done.

I sometimes watch their lives from the sidelines. It’s funny that all the kids at the school call me “Tick” but I’ve noticed they have dropped the Aunt part. (For those of you who don’t know, my oldest niece started calling me Tick when she was a baby because I tickled her. Thus, Aunt Tick was born.) The amazing thing to me is that the other kids picked that up as well. I am secretly pleased about this and love it when my peers will hear this endearment and look at me bewildered. Oh, it’s fun to have an in-joke with kids.)

They are getting older. So am I. As they spiral towards their tweens, I sometimes feel like an accessory with them. But I think that’s just part of it being an Aunt. I’m not a mom or a grandmom, and I’m still somewhat of a playtoy for them, and that’s more than all right. Right now I see Homer running herself ragged to keep them involved in school, sports and their community. She is not only teaching them to be part of the world around them, but she’s also creating opportunities for them to learn discipline, tolerance and responsibility.

I salute Moms. You guys have a hard job.

I’m going through a period of time where I’m very tired but oddly content with the world around me. To quote one of my favorite bloggers which I have done before, it is what it is. I’m learning at my advanced age that things have to grow organically and that rushing my life is self-destructive. Bills still have to be paid, dogs have to be fed, laundry has to be done, I still have to go to work but with all of that said, I’m thinking a bit more optimistically. As you know, it’s easy to fall into the cracks and let the bad stuff eat at your soul.

Early morning ponderings from Hooterville.

Today We Will Talk About Hope And The CaringBridge

28 02 2008

I’m not going to write about my mom today. I’ve done that before. Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of my mother. For me to go into any detail of this day, which is significant in the life of my family, I would just say it means a lot to us and I’m trying to figure out what to do on a personal level that would have some significance for myself about today. It’s a private thing that runs as deep as the Mississippi River. It’s hard to put those feelings into words.

To say I feel sort of lost and insignificant is an understatement.


No, this morning, I want to talk about life and survival and one woman who I have so much respect and admiration for that it’s hard to put into words.

Read the rest of this entry »

Annoying Autobiographical Pause – Mother Edition

17 02 2008

Homer knows. Squirrel Queen knows. Big Daddy knows.

You see, this month is the anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s significant. We love and we lose.

We do.

And we remember. And if we don’t, shame on us.

She was named after a box of shoes that my grandmother saw on a box in Michigan during WWII. She didn’t have a middle name because my gram thought her name was long enough.

You know, I do this every year, and each year, it gets harder.


It will be a decade. February 28th.

I’m going to get this out of the way. On that day, I will have to drive into the country to stare at the fields and meadows she loved, then go to her grave and lay down flowers. She liked flowers, but maybe, this year, I will play Beethoven or John Coltrane there.

Will that comfort her?

No. It will only comfort me.

So, anyway, I want to tell you the story, one I might not have told, about her. She was a musician and she studied music. She studied theory and how music evolved. She loved Miles Davis better than anyone and thought he was the epitome of progressive transition in music where there wasn’t a blueprint. She loved that. She thought Gil Evans was a genius. She made Homer and I listen to the blues and then Mozart because we may have lived in Hooterville but we were going to know THESE things. We needed to appreciate all music or we would have gotten a hard stare. We needed to be open-minded. And, this wasn’t a request from her.

It was mandatory.

And I thank her.

She loved her kids, she loved her husband and she loved music. As a child, there was always a violin, a bass, a cello lying about the house in Hootervegas although she was a singer and a pianist but the instruments were there because she was always in school.

I have no musical ability. I wonder sometimes if that was disappointing to her. I did other things. She encouraged me. This, of course, is of the good.

She was really beautiful. She was a petite woman that was the unaffected beauty queen of the local town who was more interested in politics than chiffon in 1960 but she was living in a small town and women didn’t do politics as much back then. She hid in the shadows. Not because that those options weren’t there, they were, but it meant a fight with a bunch of societal crap. And it did. Don’t deny it. She opted out but taught us (Homer and I picked it up, Mom, so you did your job well.)

I think she always canceled my dad’s vote out. And she made me watch Watergate and anything she thought might form me. At ten, it drove me crazy. Today, I smile when I write ‘not so much.’

She talked about feminism when it wasn’t even conceived in small rural towns. Did she make mistakes? Yeah. Did she teach me how to be an equal. Don’t even doubt it because I know I am. You know she did.

And she taught Homer and I to think for ourselves.

She was so shy. Painfully shy to the point it took her breath away until she sang on stage or she was at home with her family. Man, this woman could smile and it washed over all of us but she hated being in a group of people which is weird for me because I can hang in a church basement or at a nudist colony. This ability of mine didn’t come from her, I assure you.

Her shyness was her enemy and her largest demon. In the day, it was being shy, now I’m sure there are 20 different clinical names for it.

With that said, she created her life in spite of it all. She sang, won a contest and performed with the Everly Brothers because of it (Mid-South Fair Talent Contest, LWC), met my dad over a hamburger, fell in love and started her journey. She was a bit vain, who isn’t, but remained beautiful and curious and incredibly in tune to the world around her. She kept her hair blonde, because Big Daddy liked it that way. And her eyes were so blue they were deeper than the color of the ocean. I see these eyes in my youngest niece, Chuck, who doesn’t even know. She never met Jacque, how would she know? So I have to tell her and show her pictures. That’s my job.

Jeez, this is always hard.

She was completely confounded by me. I wasn’t traditionally beautiful like she and Homer were. I was different. I was eccentric. And she honed that in me.

You know, she loved me anyway and taught me swagger.

She smelled like sunshine. Dammit if she didn’t.

Homer was the good kid who would whip your ass in five minutes although I think most people think I’m the tough one.

I’m not. It’s Homer.

I was the kid that walked the line but wanted to dive into the deep waves of rebellion and free-spiritedness which didn’t interest Homer but, dammit, it did me. (And it did for my mom because she told me this before she died. It’s an odd thing between us. I never knew that I was her free-spirited one in her eyes.) I wanted to know those depths. And I did, delving into things that probably weren’t good for me but I was ambitious and bright enough to not go too far into the dark although it beckoned me. It was dangerous and sexy and I wanted the passion of it all. She knew this about both of us. And she guided, taught and only stopped me when I went too far.

Sometimes we went too far. We had a safety net.

Her name was Jacqueline. Named after a box of shoes and I find that to be so very compelling and charming.
The night before she died, my friend Mark, who my blogger friends met on Wednesday night in Nashville, came and sat with me in the hospital at midnight that horrible evening. He came. You guys need to know this for reasons I can’t explain. He sat with me as I sat slumped against the ‘dying room’ at the local hospital against the wall in the bright, fluorescent hallway at midnight and he tried to convince me that it wasn’t as bad as I knew it was, and despite it all, I knew in my depths that she was dying.

She was leaving and there wasn’t anything I could do.

And he tried to help.

That, my friends, is why he’s my friend. Even when I disagree with him in public.

And he did my mother’s eulogy in a packed funeral home where all I did was smile at people who apparently needed more comforting that I did, I smiled and I talked of things that were wonderful. I gave a hug and I said it was going to be okay to strangers and friends alike.

I didn’t cry for two weeks. When I did, I didn’t move for three days.

This, my blogger friends, will happen once a year. This is a gift, and curse, I give to myself.

So, I raise my glass to the woman who gave up so much for me.

Allow me a moment… as this is my blog and isn’t this what blogs are for?

I’m allowed that.

No Style

13 02 2008

Sometimes, I’m such a girl. I’m packing for a conference I have to go to and I have warily been eyeballing my closet when it occurred to me that all I own are Crocs, jeans and a variety of T-shirts that have stupid sayings on them.

Of course, when I came into possession of said T-shirts, I though I was the most clever person alive. Last night, not so much.

My niece, the little one, is a fashionista and came to help me break down my lack-of-glamour predicament. She is eight. As she took belts and matched them with pants, she was definitely talking over my head. She also eyed the bright yellow Crocs and gave me a disapproving stinkeye saying they just “would not do.”

She also brought me a curling iron and asked me if I knew how to use it. Whaaa?!!?

Umm, the answer would be no.

Tim Gunn, where are you when I need you? And, I got a kid that you might want to hire.

Just saying.

On Worry And Faith

10 02 2008

Aunt B.’s father is ill and she’s processing the information.

In other words, I feel like my dad has to cross through the dark forest Death hunts in. And I, more than anything, don’t want him to come to Her attention.

Those words are absolutely beautiful and, you see, I remember feeling that way not too very long ago but instead of articulating it in the lovely way B. did, I think for me it was more of an “AAAAGGHAARG” sort of noise I made and that buzzed in my head for a good part of two years. I was 31 years old when my mother became sick and I lived with that static for quite some time.

First of all, I believe I’m a spiritual person and I’ve been undergoing some sort of faith transformation recently that I would prefer not to put on this blog. That’s just me. I’m just not comfortable putting my positions on faith out in the blogosphere and I never have been.

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Homer For President

21 01 2008

I sat down in an exclusive interview with my sister, Homer, who is president of the PTO. I felt that because she had held this office for two years, with a term as treasurer and V.P. for a time as well as cleaning up popcorn, Dippin’ Dots and possibly children’s sick after events that she could give us some insight on the political races for Prez of the United States.

Me: “How do you like being president?”

Homer: “It’s pretty good.”

Me: “How did you seek this office? How much money did you pay in campaign dollars? Which corporations backed you?”

Homer: “I didn’t pay anything. Hell, Trace, I don’t know any corporations. I sort of got recruited into it. I wanted my kids to have a voice and learn to how to use their voices. That’s why I decided to be active in PTO.”

Me: “You’re lying.” (She glares at me sometimes and I get scared and she also knows that I’m not very good at being Chris Matthews or Glenn Beck so I cowered as I am wont to do when she gives me stink eye.) “Umm, you love your kids?”

Homer: “You are an idiot. Yes, I love my kids and I wanted them to have opportunities. We have to raise money for things and I just wanted to be a part of their childhood. I want them to have fun being kids, so that’s why I’m president of the PTO.”

Me: “So, who will you be supporting for president?”

Homer: “Of the PTO?”

Me: “No, for the United States of America.” (Cue National Anthem and theme to the movie Independence Day for dramatic effect.)

Homer: “I’m not going to tell you because you’ll put it on Newscoma.”

Me: “I’d never do that.” (When I lie, my eye twitches. She saw it right away just as she did when I use to rat her out when we were kids.)

Homer: “I’ve been reading up on the candidates, douche. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do? At least that’s what I think people should do because then they know the issues. So, I’m liking what a couple of them have to say. Interview over.”

Me:  “So, you are saying ‘No Comment.'”

Homer: “Shut up.”

Me: “That’s no way to end this interview.”

Homer: “You want to eat something half way decent tonight?”

Of course, she knows me.

Back To The Grind

26 12 2007

I took a couple of days off and hung with the family. It was cool, there is no doubt, and I realized how blessed I am.

Not everything was wine and roses, mind you. We are talking about spending time with our families. There is usually that one comment that sends you over the edge, and then you realize it is YOUR family so you give them a pass and realize they aren’t acting out of character.

I received some really nice presents that I know I don’t deserve but it was really cool nonetheless. As Squirrel Queen has never had her own camera, I gave her one hoping she will participate in 365 whole-heartedly this year. Her cameras are used for her job. Sometimes, you just need to have one of your own. She seemed to like it.

I think the most beautiful part of the Christmas holiday was the kids, Homer smiling a lot, Squeegee Monkey having a couple of cocktails and talking incessantly. He does that. He’s usually very quiet but you get a glass of Jura scotch in him and he goes on a marathon. The twins at Harris were given motorbikes. I, of course not understanding that going a million miles an hour on a small yet dangerous looking motorcycle thingamabob, don’t understand the whimsy of being a boy and almost had a heart attack. But then again, I pine for a turquiose colored Vespa, so I realized I needed to just watch them do their X-treme thing with a bit of hesitation and wonder.

Being nine-years-old without fear is really something. Of course, at this age, they don’t realize about odd things such as mortality and being reckless can sometimes come and bite you in your ass.

A Wii was found and played by everyone but me. I was too tired, there wasn’t a controller available and it looks suspiciously like hard work.

Cuppa will be happy to know I got a Buffy comic book. Woot. Smiley, of course, will make fun of me for my excitement of this.

The movie “Hairspray” is also now in my home. I had not seen the movie although I did see the stage production in Memphis a few years ago, and the nieces seem quite smitten with it. Of course, my love of Christopher Walken was evident, which the nieces called him an old dude. I, of course, received Kung Fu Hustle. Woot. I’ll watch it later when the kiddies are away. I also received an I-Pod Shuffle. It’s green. I have no idea how to use it but I’ll learn.

The nice thing is giving folks stuff. Squirrel Queen’s mother is an outdoor sort of person and Santa left her a copper fire pit in her backyard. You would have thought we had just given her a Tiffany diamond. I mean, Santa gave her one. Whoops.

Also, the hardest thing is the youngest niece is figuring out about Santa. I noticed the whole thing displayed on her face. She whispered to her mother. She went from a look of recognition to sadness to resignation. It was heartbreaking.

As for me, back to work. I had a few days off (of course I received bookoos of phone calls. Does that count as a vacation day? I think not, but what the hell) and I’m looking forward to getting back into my regular routine of work and job hunting.

But, with all of it said I have two lines of thought. The first one is that it’s really nice to be with family and friends that understand you. It really is. One the other hand, I’m kinda glad it’s over.

Moving On

3 12 2007

Ivy, in one of the most beautiful and honest posts I’ve read in a long time, talks about her grandmother who died a couple of months ago and how her life is moving forward.

It’s a reminder of how bitterness can poison your heart and take other people’s hearts with you. It’s a reminder of how when your spouse cheats, you need to either cut them loose or forgive them with your whole heart, because living with the bitterness is Not. A. Good. Thing.

Why did this speak to me? Because I understand. My mother died and I also put her up on a pedestal. Time healed some things, gave clarity to the pain and the loss and I can remember clearly the day in 1999, months after I stood in a hospital room and saw her take her last breath when I realized that my mother, whose name was Jacqueline, was human. That she made mistakes. That although I did a bit of the hero worship that I had forgotten that she was just as flawed as I sometimes can be.

And as for bitterness, she’s right. After a very long year, in the past month, I’ve had to put some bitterness behind me, much of it given to me on a silver platter but also a great deal of it that I brought on myself. Realizations are hard things to go through. Even when you know you participated in your own pain.

Ivy, great post and a huge reminder to us all that although we grieve when we lose those people that we love and those things that didn’t work out the way that we thought it might, it’s up to us to deal with the bitterness and to embrace our own humanity, as that is all we have.

Zombie Cheerleader

31 10 2007



By popular demand, a zombie cheerleader and a zombie football player who is a friend’s son.

Make-up by Squeegee Monkey.

My family makes me laugh.

A Time Capsule

30 09 2007

Dear Oldest Niece;

I’m watching you grow up. It’s amazing. It’s fantastic. You are turning into a beautiful and kind young woman. Makes me feel a bit old, actually.

With that said, if this blog were a time capsule, there are a few things I want you to know. Things you might not. Things that probably won’t even make sense right now in your young life on this planet, but I need to say these things anyway.

First of all, when your grandmother died, before the day I even knew what a blog was, I wrote out her history for you in a small journal. It’s locked away and you can have it when you get older. There were things I wanted you to know, small items of who she was and little details.

Her favorite song was “All in the Game” by Tommy James. Your grandfather is quite partial to “American Pie” by Don Mclean. Music is important.

Read at least one play by William Shakespeare and try to get it. For me, it was “Julius Caesar.” Then go read something totally fluffy. It all balances out. I tend to lose myself in goofy television shows like Lost or Doctor Who. It keeps the buzz of the real world out for awhile and it helps. But read. It’s important. And, always look at learning something new, even if you don’t want to. You never know when it will come handy to have.
Have a favorite poem. When your mother and I were kids, your grandmother would read the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to us aloud. Read out loud. It’s cleansing. Also read “To Kill A Mockingbird” at least twice. Scout is in all of us. Living in a small-town, books will open up a sometimes very condensed, noisy world where there isn’t very much to do.

I want you to know if I could teach you any lesson, it would be to be kind and to be an Ambassador in good faith to those things that you believe in and to people in general. Pick your battles carefully. Sometimes you won’t win them, but don’t let that set you back. It might for a time, but just embrace the pain as well as the victories. This is how you move forward.

It all passes within in time, suffering and joy. But it all comes back around.

When you get angry, walk away. If you are furious with someone, try to at least understand where they are coming from. You might not understand the static coming from walking in their shoes, but you might at least find compassion. Compassion for others is important.

Don’t do what others do because you think you should. Do what you know is right for you. Don’t just join the pack. In a pack mentality, people tend to eat their own at times. Find your own path.

If you upset someone else, make sure that your inner self didn’t take action for harm. If it did, apologize to them. Then make amends with yourself.

It doesn’t matter what society tells you to look or act like. Be yourself. People say cruel things. Don’t be one of those people. You have control over that.

Life is always not fair. Your great-grandfather told your mom and I many times that Mr. Right died along time ago. He was right. But, this isn’t a bummer. It just is what it is and in the long run, you will appreciate the good that comes your way.

NO ONE, and I mean no one is going to take care of you in a pinch. They will love you, they will protect you, but if you are ever alone in an uncomfortable situation where your parents or I am not around, all you have is yourself. The things you know are right or wrong, your intelligence and your heart will protect you. (And, if not, I will take a bat to someone. Yeah, I’m non-violent and all but a bat and a mighty swing from Mama Bears and Aunt Ticks can teach a good lesson.)

Hide nothing, yet tell little when it comes to people you don’t know that well. Transparency is important, but don’t talk just to hear yourself prattle. Learn from your Aunt Tick (Newscoma) With that said, remember, if it appears to be taboo, it probably is. Listen to your gut. Keep your cards close at hand, because when you ch0ose to give one of those cards away, it’s a gift. Yours to give, the person you choose to receive.

If you do something incredibly stupid, forgive yourself. Just try not to do it again. (Once again, learn from the master of this, yours truly.)

Do something everyday that scares the hell out of you. You will be afraid, but do it anyway.

Like yourself. This is important.

Be playful. Have fun. Embrace the good. Try to look the bad in the eye and move forward. There are times in anyone’s life where they are victimized. Deal with it, learn from it and then move to the next step. Don’t let others define who you are.

If someone is a smart ass and says deliberate things to you to get a rise out of you, remember, if you let them, they win. Ignore it.

Being a rebel with a cause is worthy. Being a rebel without a cause is chaos.

There is more. Much of it is written in a small gift to you, and one to your sister, when you get older.

One more thing, know that I love you if you were my own child.

Love you kid,