Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Fall, Y'all

My husband navigated the winding road in the twilight.  In October, the bone-like trees might look creepy stretching into the crisp air and silhouetted against the sky, but the car was warm with contentment.  

This, I thought, this is one of those days I longed for when doctors told us a family wasn't in our future.

Sometimes I time my kids to see how long they can go before whining or doing something obnoxious to the other like Alexandra kicking Max or Max telling her everything she does is wrong. (FYI: This morning the record was 8 minutes.)

But this weekend was filled with those moments of wonder a to-be parent longs for.

At Peek-a-Boo Petting Zoo we discovered baby chicks...

baby bottles....


a hay maze...

fishing for rubber duckies...
 and a princess with her pumpkin.

We topped off the day with dinner at Soda Steve's, a fun soda shop that would fit right into a show like Gilmore Girls or Hart of Dixie.

The next day we decided to take our little knight and princess to the Castle in Muskogee for Pumpkin Kingdom.

Lots of scary things lurked within the castle walls and in the village after dark,

but we opted for a hayride,
balloon sword and doggie, 

and a bouncy house (apparently, this was scary).  
We had a great weekend with our little pumpkins.

And I'm so glad. Making memories is important.  One never knows what's lurking around the bend.

(For me, I'm pretty sure it's a mountain of laundry populated with giant dust bunnies.)

Happy fall, ya'll.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fear Landscapes

***Caution: Minor Spoiler for Divergent series***
Front Cover
Allegiant, the third book in the series, arrived Tuesday. They're incredible.  Movie arrives in March.
One of the things I like about the Divergent series by Veronica Roth is the way the Dauntless faction deals with fear.

"Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it." --Veronica Roth, Divergent

Their main methodology of coping with what gives them the heebie jeebies?  Fear landscapes. Just inject a special serum  in your neck and it triggers your terrors so that you can learn how to control or be free from them.  Before going into the final stage of initiation, the Dauntless are told that the average number of fears is 10-15.

Wondering how many you have?

Recently, I went to bed, fell asleep, and traveled through my fear landscape. As in the book, I knew it wasn't real.  I knew I just had to get to the other side somehow.  My fears hit me one after the other.

First, total darkness. Then my vision pans out until I see movement beneath the black. Spiders. Thousands. The shot moves higher until the shape of the container is clear. It's a coffin. The spiders move and reveal my face.  They crawl all over me, but I can't move my arms or legs to knock them off. If I scream, the spiders will crawl in my mouth. That's what has happened in this dream the many times I've had it since childhood.  I don't scream.  I focus on it not being real. I focus on it being about claustrophobia and being trapped with the spiders. I remember I no longer fear spiders because Garrett refused to remove a gigantic spider from the front porch last October.  (I certainly wasn't going to do it!) He said I needed to get over my fear of spiders, so I watched that arachnid grow and grow and scare visitors until I wasn't frightened anymore.  I was even a little sad to see her go.  As I recall this, my fear in the dream disappears, and the spiders on me are her babies...a la Charlotte's Web. They're visiting me. Awww.

So I go to the next nightmare.

Long before Harry Potter's dementors or Twilight's Volturi, their lovechild tormented my nights.  I haven't seen one in a long time, but a brood of them are resurrected.  Almost 18 years ago, I realized I could control my nightmares. It is this one that taught me that. I recall the feeling of power when I stopped running and turned to face the demon. It smiled at me and ran away. Freedom made me fly. I take a deep breath, turn to face the demons, and remember how to fly.

So I go to the next nightmare. 

And the next. 

And the next.

I've not conquered this one before. I tense up as I go deeper into the fear landscape.
My skin pulses with urgency. Lost in the woods, I must rescue someone. I see a wood-paneled house.   If the person I seek is here, I have no clue how to find safety. But I know we must flee. I creep closer and peek through a dirty window. A conveyor belt carries life-sized dolls of identical size in identical boxes. Varying shades of rosy cheeks dot their faces.  Pretty dresses adorn their bodies. But after watching a while, I notice a clear pattern to the dolls.  They are reproductions. A madman stands by a sink full of what looks like giant Barbie appendages bathed in bloody water. Spare parts? Is he creating them according to his whims? When one blinks her thick eyelashes at me, I realize they aren't dolls. They are women, and I am staring at myself. I am there to rescue me.

In Divergent, the Dauntless face the fear or control their fear until the fear landscape goes away. Either way, the effort requires courage. I struggle with this fear landscape.  I ponder what it means.  I work on calming myself.

Oddly, this fear landscape fades and goes to my next...dream.

My most secret--and not-so-secret--aspirations appear before me, almost realized. And then I get in my own way.  Then my next dream materializes and I sabotage myself again. If the monster causing all these problems weren't me, then I'd really hate myself for keeping me from being happy. Um...what?

It is the most terrifying landscape so far.

I think it's time that changes, don't you? Dreaming is scary. Allowing oneself to take the risks to turn those dreams into reality is even scarier.  But I think it's time I try being dauntless.  How 'bout you?

Are you like the Divergent and can you control the nightmares in your fear landscape? What's in your landscape?  Do you have nightmare re-runs?  How do you stand in the way of your own dreams? How do you plan to dare to dream?


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homecoming Reunion

My children wear orange and black stripes. I want to support the town I live in, my parents' and children's hometown. I even bought a shirt with the word Tigers across the chest.

But it doesn't change the fact that my blood still runs like a Bulldog's.

Homecoming Court 1993
  I remember the dance to the fight song and am not afraid to do it.
Headed to Nationals, baby!
When I feel the bass drum of a marching band in my belly, I see red and black. When sneakers squeak on a gym floor, I remember slam dunks and three pointers and open mouthed opposing teams. When I walk in a theater, I feel at home.
Polariod taken during opening night. That look on my face? Acting. The dress? Sewn on.
When a football team rushes a field beneath a star-studded sky, I breathe deeply and wonder when the news helicopter will arrive to catch footage of our record-breaking running back and a team with heart.

That's what I remember most about my high school: heart.

When I hear someone (from another school, obviously) speak with anathema of their classmates, it saddens me. They missed out on so much. I'm not saying heartbreak and humiliation didn't happen to me or others--we were teenagers, after all--but there is so much more to treasure from those years. And the hard stuff taught me things. It was a good place to grow up because I was lucky to grow up with nice people.

And that can make all the difference.

I graduated with about 103 others.  In middle school, our class was twice that size, but closed factories, an oil bust and the economy caused a mass exodus. Maybe watching so many leave made us hold on to each other a little more.

We called ourselves The Class that Makes Traditions.  Yeah, we had a motto. We knew we were special.

10 year reunion.  Can you find me?
I missed my reunion this weekend.  Many things prevented me from attending, but on the morning of the reunion I thought the stars had aligned so that I could at least make the parade, tailgate, and game. For a couple of hours, I was ridiculously excited.

But, we had two people out at the office. Then, my daughter got sick.  Then...

I went on Facebook to wish a classmate a belated birthday. After posting a cheery message on his board, I scrolled down.

My heart stopped. My throat burned. I didn't like the messages before mine. As I sent a text to two of the reunion organizers who were probably herding classmates toward a parade float, I prayed that Jimmie was there with them. That I'd misunderstood the messages.

He wasn't.

Then I received messages from other classmates asking if I'd seen his wall and wondered the same as I.  We watched Facebook. Eventually, someone posted that he'd been in an accident that morning and had not made it.  I deleted my birthday wish and added a comment of condolences instead.

And cried.

I went to school with nice people, and we lost another one. Jimmie's smile, and orneriness, and energy will forever be a part of my memories and my life. Thank you for that, Jimmie.

And thank you to my classmates for being such a fun and loving group through the years.  Thank you for your heart.

This photo was all over Facebook. I'll give photo credit when someone fesses up.