Posted in Written Word Wednesdays

Written Word Wednesday: “Take Me There” (Memoir)

I like my checkmarks, so today seems like a good day for one.  It’s been awhile since I’ve worked on something on my writing project checklist.  And since the beginning of the year, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was starting to lose sight of the real reason for starting this blog:  to get some big things done.  Today I’ll be working on

blavatar 2#1:  Autobiography/Memoir

*Procrastination sidebar:  This part of my memoir is something I’ve been meaning to do for a few years now, back when myspace was popular (remember then?  I know it’s a stretch).  My friends and I used to send surveys back and forth, and after hearing Rascal Flatts’ song “Take Me There”, I wanted to turn the lyrics into a questionnaire of sorts, but never got around to finishing it.  I’ll post the lyrics here, then answer the questions one by one.  Also, of course this is unedited memoir, so it’s not going to be perfect, and there will most likely be typos.  That’s okay to me, because at least I got some writing in, and that’s better than nothing.  So I hope it’s okay to you, too.  🙂

“Take Me There”

[Verse 1:] There’s a place in your heart where nobody’s been. Take me there. Things nobody knows, not even your friends. Take me there. Tell me about your momma, your daddy, your home town, show me around. I wanna see it all, don’t leave anything out.
[Chorus:] I wanna know, everything about you. And I wanna go, down every road you’ve been. Where your hopes and dreams and wishes live, where you keep the rest of your life hid. I wanna know the girl behind that pretty stare. Take me there.
[Verse 2:] Your first real kiss, your first true love, you were scared. Show me where. You learned about life, spent your summer nights, without a care. Take me there. I wanna roll down mainstreet and backroads like you did when you were a kid. What makes you who you are, tell me what your story is.
[Chorus 2x:] I wanna know, everything about you. And I wanna go, down every road you’ve been. Where your hopes and dreams and wishes live, where you keep the rest of your life hid. I wanna know the girl behind that pretty stare. Take me there.
I wanna roll down mainstreet. I wanna know your hopes and your dreams. Take me, take me there. Yeah.
(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com
“There’s a place in your heart where nobody’s been.  Things nobody knows, not even your friends.”
Suffice it to say that I’m not really comfortable enough to reveal these sorts of things online.  I will, however, write them down privately and include them in my memoir.  So, ya know, if I ever get wildly famous and my memoir gets published, then you can pay money to read those secrets there.  😉
“Tell me about your momma…”
My mother and I have had a really interesting relationship.  The more time that I’m alive, the more I realize just how alike we are, for better and for worse.  I would venture to say we’ve never been, nor do I ever think we will be, best friends.  I’m not sure if my mother knows that, and I think it might hurt her to hear, but I think deep down she knows.  I think of the Gilmore Girls, my handy dandy reference book to all complicated things in life, and of the relationship between Lorelai and Emily Gilmore.  I can best sum up our relationship with a quote between the two:

Emily:   Why can’t we have what you and Rory have?
Lorelai :   Rory and I are different, mom.
Emily:   We’re mother and daughter. You’re mother and daughter. It shouldn’t be different.
Lorelai:   It’s completely different. It couldn’t be more different.
Emily:   But why?
Lorelai:   I grew up in a different environment.
Emily:   You mean an oppressive environment.
Lorelai: No, mom, I mean a different environment. And plus, I was so young when I had Rory.
Emily:   So because I waited until I was grown and married I can’t have a relationship with my daughter?
Lorelai:   No.
Emily:   Well, then why?
Lorelai:   Rory and I are best friends, mom. We’re best friends first and mother and daughter second. And you and I are mother and daughter always.
Of course, at this moment in time, I don’t have a daughter, let alone a child.  And I’m 30, so I most certainly can’t use the “I was so young when I had my child” excuse.  Truth be told, too, I don’t plan to raise my child like we’re best friends.  That is one thing that I picked up from my mother:  if I treat my child like my best friend, then when it comes to having to be an authoritarian, it’ll never work out.  But I do plan on doing some parenting things different than my mother.  I even wrote a list down in my diary when I was around 16 years old and had a pretty epic disagreement with her.  One of the most important things I plan on implementing is to tell my child every day that I love him/her.  It’s something that I heard rarely (I can probably count on my hand the times I’ve heard it out loud) from my own parents, and it’s something that in my opinion is so important to hear, especially when you’re going through hard times in school and adolescence.  But it’s a huge point of pride between my husband and I that we tell each other “I love you” every single day.  It’s so comforting to know that at the end of the day, there is love there.  We even tell our dog we love him every day.  Because it’s true, and because we just never know when any one of us may not be here anymore.  I don’t want any one of us to die without knowing that we are loved.  Plain and simple as that.
My mother was extremely sheltered as a child, most probably because she was so sickly.  I would argue, though, that she was so sickly because her parents never let her out and be a kid.  She didn’t play out in the dirt; she mostly stayed inside with cousins and played there.  I remember that only two years ago when we visited the Philippines, my husband and I decided to go outside and run in a cool rainstorm as some relief from the triple-digit days we’d been experiencing.  My mother looked at the both of us like we were crazy for running around and giggling.  She said pointedly, “I was never allowed to run outside in the rain.  I would’ve gotten into a lot of trouble.”  My husband looked completely shocked and immediately grabbed my mother’s hand to join us.  She was so absolutely mortified to finally break the rules after 63 years.  But once she was out there, you could see a little hint of glee in her eyes before she shook it off and the guarded, disciplined look that I have come to associate her with snapped back into place.
Knowing now what a strict childhood she led may explain why I was labeled as the rebel of the family.  I was the only one who dared to dream, to go outside the boundaries of wanting to be something stereotypically successful, like a doctor or a lawyer.  (My little brother was still too young at that time to decide what he wanted to do with his life.)  I was also the only one who dared question some weird practices that my mother put into place, like insisting my little brother call me “Ate”, which was the Tagalog (Filipino) word for “big sister”.  (More on that later.)  I ran outside, played in the dirt, made mistakes, had friends of the opposite sex.  Hardly grounds for being called a rebel to pretty much any other American kid, but boy, did that make me the black sheep in my own family!  Everyone that I tell that I’m the most social of all the kids in my family just looks at me disbelievingly:  “Shy, awkward, introverted Violet, the most social one?  I call BS,” they must be thinking.  But it’s true.
In a way, I guess that’s one of the things we have in common.  We’re both stubborn as hell, and I think that’s what gets us into the most heated arguments.  (Also more on that later.)  I still feel a bit disconnected from my body when I speak of the years of physical and mental abuse that I endured.  But there you have it:  it is indeed possible for a 4’11” woman to bring you to the ground with bruises that take many, many years to heal.
For as long as I remember, my mother was quite the Emily Post.  She often did things because it made her look good to society, and because it just seemed like the right and proper thing to do.  It didn’t matter if she agreed with it or not; she wanted to look pure and white to those who knew her.  I would say she did a pretty good job.  Some of my earliest memories of her consist of throwing huge parties and cooking all day to produce cookbook-picture-ready dishes.  I still miss the days of mini-pineapple-cream-cheese-tarts and oatmeal-raisin cookies so hearty that eating only a half of one felt like a meal fit for a queen.  She loved making matching outfits for her and me, because I was the only girl and she finally had the chance to play dress up.
I feel myself falling into “super-hostess” role.  I love having parties at our new house, and I love working hard all day to crank out gorgeous-looking, tasty food.  It’s something I can see myself doing well into my 40s.  So I would say that’s something I really have in common with my mom.  I do love doing domestic things like that.  If I have a daughter, I do plan on dressing her up in cute clothes, but I think I’ll draw the line at matching outfits.
***
For as much as my mother and I have in common, we probably have more that are different.  That’s probably one thing that’s been consistent for me since I’ve been young:  I hate being compared to my mother when it comes to similarities.  I think it may be my burning desire to be my own person and to not have to be compared to anyone else.  Most likely a symptom of being a middle child.  (Another notable effort to differentiate myself from another person:  when it came to applying to colleges, I very specifically chose not to even apply to the one my older brother went to, because I wanted to take my own path and not have to deal with following in his very big footsteps.)  Anyway, it always, always (my mother says she even remembers a time when I was four and this was true) really bothered me when I was told that I look just like my mother.
It’s not that I’m offended because she’s ugly.  That’s far from the case.  As far as looks go, I would say I’m lucky with the way she looks.  A lot of guys (and girls, for that matter) joke to those who are thinking about marrying a female:  “Just look at her mom.  That’s an indication of what she’ll look like when she’s older.”  If that’s true, then my hubby has nothing to worry about (he’s even said that…in a much-less creepy “MILF” way than you would imagine).  She has such a cute slim-yet-curvy figure, a bright smile, non-wrinkly skin, big beautiful brown eyes, and shiny salt-and-pepper hair.  She looks beautiful, period–not just “for her age”.  In fact, if she dyed her hair, she’d probably look a good 20 years younger, at least.  But she’s proud of her hair, and I would be, too.  I actually look forward to the day when I turn gray, because I just love the way her hair looks.  I may use that as an opportunity to finally dye my hair purple, but still.
And we really do look a lot alike.  I can admit that.  Out of anyone else in the family, I look most like her.  But the reason I’m so offended is because I want to look like no one else but myself.  I want to stand out and have people say I look very “Violet”.  It’s a point of pride for me.  I even go so far as to be upset when we wear similar outfits.  It’s too much, yes, but that’s how much it means for me to be unique.
Another thing that’s different about us is our drive to become what we want to do.  My mother has become very complacent and even bitter about where she is in life.  I hope to never become that way.  I know there is a wonderful life waiting out there for me and I plan to always work towards the life I envision for myself.
And I plan to never speak ill of my husband in front of my children if I’m still married to him.  If I’m miserable, I’ll look towards divorce instead of holding an eternal grudge.  But I love my husband and we respect each other enough to not air our problems like that.  We’re a team, and I plan to work as a team for the rest of our lives.  That right there is a huge difference between my mom and I, too.
(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com
I guess that’s a good time to talk about my father, but that’ll be for the next part of my memoir.  For now, there is a day to enjoy!  🙂
To Being Proud of the Wonderfully Unique Person that You Are!
Violet
Posted in Written Word Wednesdays

Written Word Wednesday: Just a Bit More (NaNoWriMo 2012)

In-Progress Writing Projects to Finish 5) “Out of Place”

To read the first part of this story, please check out this link.

I’m going to come right and say it:  I’m just not feeling it this year.  I haven’t felt compelled to write and continue this story; the characters haven’t been infiltrating my dreams.  I’m not gonna lie; it really distresses and dismays me to know that writing, the thing I usually turn to for comfort and therapeutic properties, is not doing its magic this time around.  I think perhaps what’ll help me out more at this point is some journalling and poetry.  But I made a commitment at the beginning of this month, and it is my duty to at least fulfill an attempt at this.  So I keep plugging away, a little at a time.

Not to worry, though, dear readers.  I’m okay.  🙂  It’s just been a busy and (good) stressful time for me, and the last thing I want to do is write.  In fact, I’ve been wanting to get lost in a book much more than work on my novel, and I don’t stop myself.  Girl’s gotta take care of herself, ya know.  Anyway, here is the little bit that I added this week.  Hoping next week will prove more fruitful.

(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com

Chapter Three

 

“Which part of the speech do you want to do?”  Elijah and I decided to partner up for the group speech due in class in a few days.  In the last few months we’d started having conversations after class and eventually started getting together for coffee, much to my dismay.  Our blossoming friendship made it nearly impossible to dismiss the conversation I had with Mama at the beginning of the school year where she asked whether or not he was good-looking.  With each get-together, it got more and more difficult to think of him as only a classmate.

“Um, I guess I can do the first part.  Finish strong, right?”  I half-joked.

“Ha!  You’re too kind.”

“I’m serious.  I think we can both acknowledge who’s better at speaking in front of a crowd.”

“You’re not horrible.  Just need to work on the whole shy thing.”

“It’s not so much that I’m shy; it’s that I’m the only one in that class, and probably the entire university, for that matter, who has a southern accent.  You don’t notice it when you used to live in a place where everyone talked like you.  I feel like nobody takes me seriously.”

“If you want, I could taw-uk lahk you, too.  Ease the nerves a little bit, and then the target would be off you.  You’ll have to give me some lessons beforehand, though.”

I stuck my tongue out in the most lady-like way possible.

“Okay, okay, I’ll lay off.  So we’ve got that decided.  Time to switch gears?”

“You’re kidding, right?  We haven’t even come up with an outline.  Don’t you want to at least have something written before moving on?”

“Normally I’d say yes, but this is being beautifully distracting.”  He reached out and weaved his hand through my hair.

Dammit, Bobbie Grace.  Get a hold of yourself.  If it were anyone else, I’d have recoiled and slapped quicker than brushfire.  But there was something about Elijah that made me linger.

“Ha!”  With all the willpower I could muster, I backed up and feigned an uninterested air.  “Silly art major.  If my hair didn’t resemble a psychedelic trip, you wouldn’t be nearly as interested.  Blonde is much less interesting than duotone.  Which is why I colored it in the first place.  Shall I dye it back to my original hair color so we can actually work on a speech?”

“You’re still the most beautiful woman in the world.  Shave it, for all I care.”

“Oh, honey, you say that to all the girls.”  I sighed, trying to sound exasperated.  Really, though, I was just trying to calm myself down.  “Okay, fine, paint the pretty colors.  But quickly, so we can go back to the important stuff.”

“This is important,” he protested.
“Yeah?  Last time I checked, this was just for fun, not an assignment.”

“Got me there,” he conceded.  “Okay, fine.  Less talking, more painting.”

“I agree.”

He quickly went to work setting up an easel and putting paint on a palette.

“Turn around, please.”

“Typical guy,” I teased.  “The face doesn’t matter; it’s the back that gets all the action.”

“Why Bobbie Grace, I’d never guess a southern belle like you could ever insinuate such a sinful thing,” he teased right back.

I tried to come up with a comeback so my face would stop at a blush instead of a full-blown, neck-to-forehead red.  Daddy used to ask me if I rooster comb crawled up my face.

“I’m not as much as a gentle southern belle as you’d like to think.”

“Whatever.  You can take the belle out of Georgia, but can’t take the Georgia out of the belle.  You’re just a poser.”  I snuck a glance out of the corner of my eye.  He didn’t bother starting with my clothes or even the shape of my head.  He went straight to painting my hair.  The very tip of his tongue stuck out of the side of his mouth, teeth holding it in place.  I’d never seen him concentrate on anything so intently.  His brow furrowed as he dipped his paintbrush into the myriad shades of pink, red, and blue.  He was taking the utmost care in getting the shades perfect.  As if in a trance, he reached out and inspected my strands.  When he realized what he was doing, his eyes locked on mine for a few electric moments.

Oh, I’m in trouble.  So much trouble.  I closed my eyes as my lips met his, feverishly trying to push the image of Mama watching us, clasping her hands together and looking Heavenward.  “Thank you, Lord, for answering my prayers,” she whispered as Elijah pulled me closer.  I shook my head, trying to clear it.

“What’s the matter?”  He instantly looked concerned.  “I’m sorry, it’s okay if I kiss you, right?  Did I misread you?”

“No, not at all.  And it’s definitely okay.”  This time I took the initiative, and Mama’s image disappeared, dissolving into the perfect moment.

***

(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com

To Finding Your Own Way to Cope During Stressful Times,

Posted in Written Word Wednesdays

Written Word Wednesday: A Slow Start (NaNoWriMo 2012)

In-Progress Writing Projects to Finish 5) “Out of Place”

So I’m going to commit the cardinal sin of a writer and issue an apologetic disclaimer before you read my work.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, in its simplest form, it’s writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  Check out the website if you want to find out more.  The other big thing about NaNoWriMo is, in order to write those 50,000 words in 30 days, editing is pretty darn near impossible to do.  So this has not been edited for loopholes, typos, grammatical errors, etc.  Just sayin’.  I’m stopping all you editors out there before you can even start in with that.  😉

This other part is important, so I’m going to take the time to be annoying and bold and italicize it because I really want to drive the point home:
***Please remember these are FICTIONAL characters.  Though in the long run (read: as the story develops and reaches its ending, in a hopefully non-preachy way) it does reflect my morals (I AM the author of the story, after all), I do not–repeat DO NOT–hold all of the same beliefs as the main character.  I have the feeling some people may get offended by some parts of the book.  To those people, I want to quote the great Jenny Lawson:

“…[S]omewhere in here you’ll read one random thing that you’re sensitive about, and everyone else will think  it’s hysterical, but you’ll think, ‘Oh, that is way over the  line.’ I apologize for that one thing.  Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Seriously, though, it was not my intention to offend people with this story.  I just feel have a point of view to get across, and I hope that that point of view will be obvious as more of the story unfolds.  Please give it a chance before assuming things about my stance.  Because you know what they say about when you assume things.  😉  And I would like to just throw out there, if you’ve been reading my blog or if you know me in real life, you’ll know which parts I’m serious about and which I’m not.  To those people, I thank you for not hating me.

One last stalling method thing I want to emphasize:  Though it may seem like it, I really wasn’t trying to diss/make fun of/stereotype the South.  I’m trying really hard to not make it come off that way, but I fear I’m not doing a good job so far.  To the contrary, this story was greatly influenced by me desperately wanting to pay homage to the unique beauty of the South:  people steeped in history, southern charm, fierce loyalty to family, and an unshakable faith; a rich setting full of stories, specific mannerisms and comfort food.  I greatly respect the South even though I only lived there for about a year.  I find it a romantic part of the country and in this story I hoped to capture my fascination and love of it.

Okay, enough stalling.  Here goes.  Constructive criticism welcome (hateful comments will be deleted).  Enjoy!  🙂

(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com

Out of Place

Prologue

Mama patted down a nonexistent stray hair on her slicked-back, tight bun.  The contact of dry lace glove on layers of hair spray caused her to retract a little from the static electricity.  Out of the corner of my other eye, I saw Daddy reaching into his good dress jeans’ pocket to pull out his old white cotton handkerchief and hand it across my lap.  Mama took it appreciatively, carefully dabbing at where her eyeliner turned up precisely, leaving a black smudge on the monogrammed T.

Probably hand-stitched on there by Memaw herself, I thought, as Pastor Jim took his place at the lectern.  I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Memaw would never hand-stitch another monogram again.

“Roberta Faith Tucker was a woman of God until her very last breath,” he began.  I looked around the room at the congregation, which, as always, was the entire population of Duncan.  Being that our little town only contained 200 people, it wasn’t so hard to do.  The community ball game was cancelled, so if anyone missed Memaw’s funeral, I’m sure all the other blue hairs would be making some behinds red and raw for disrespecting their dear friend.

“She was the epitome of this town, born in Duncan General and never missing a Sunday morning here at First Baptist.  She took the land that God gave her and lived off of it.  I’ll always remember the extra tomatoes and fresh eggs she’d deliver to us.  And she’d put the best hoedowns on, didn’t she?”

The town nodded in agreement.

“I think when I learned how to square dance from her, she had the loudest ‘yeehaw’ of them all.  Oh, and her sweet tea and peach cobbler.  Don’t mean no disrespect, ma’ams.”  He dipped his head quickly in the direction of Memaw’s closest friends in the front row.  It was completely eerie and surreal watching every one of them mumble in agreement.  If it was any other day, they’d stop short of exchanging blows arguing over whose sweet tea and peach cobbler were the best in all of Georgia; in all of the south for that matter.  In other words, many “bless your ever-lovin’ heart”s would be uttered.  Them’s fightin’ words among the old bitties.

“Like everyone else in this town, she was born here and she was called to her Maker here.  She loved this town too much to leave.”

I started to squirm, and Mama mistook it for a gesture of grief.

She reached out and tried to comfort me the way she always used to, by tucking a stray curl behind my ear.  Out of habit, I immediately pulled the ever-present hair tie off my wrist and slicked my hair into a ponytail to avoid further contact.

“I don’t know why you never put it into a braid like when you were little,” she whispered. “Your Memaw always liked it that way because it made you look like Laura Ingalls.”

“Because that’s when I was little.  I’m not little anymore,” I replied, a little harsher than I meant to.

“Roberta Grace Tucker,” my mother started.  “You do not take that tone with me.  For one, I’m your mother.  For two, we are in the House of the Lord.  And three, you are disrespecting the very person we named you after.  While she’s being praised, no less.”

“Sorry, Mama.”

I shifted my focus back to what the pastor was saying, trying to glean a lesson from the few words I actually paid attention to.  He had taken a break from soliloquizing Memaw and got swept away in his hellfire and brimstone shtick.  When he switched to “I’ll strike the fear of God into your hearts” mode, everything started to blur together and it became hard to differentiate this particular moment in time from any other Sunday.  Those were the times where wished I had a tape recorder so I could go to Ginny’s Saloon next door, replay it, and turn it into a drinking game:  one shot every time he said “sacrifice,” two shots every time he said “mighty”, and chug if he mentions a second coming.  No matter that I was underage; Ginny’d known me since I was born.  She’d been offering beers to me with a smile ever since Daddy started taking me with him when I was thirteen.

“As you know, Miss Berta was a prominent socialite here in Georgia, and was well-known at many country clubs all over the south.  The Lord had blessed with her with many riches, and she was gracious enough to leave First Baptist with a third of that.  Another third she donated to her favorite charities.  The third, of course, went to her precious granddaughter, our very own Bobbie Grace.”

For a second, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I knew my Memaw loved me, and I also knew she was loaded, but I never really imagined the two would come together in this strange way.

“Mama?  Daddy?”  The looks on their faces confirmed what she was saying.
“She saw God in your heart, honey.  She knew you’d do His will with what she gave you, and we agree.  That, and she knew you’d be needing some money for a wedding and little ones soon.”

My face turned red.  Maybe the only thing that stuck in my southern upbringing was to respect your elders, and I respected my Mama enough to not break her heart and tell her I wasn’t even sure if I believed in God.

“Oh, that’s okay, honey.  We know you don’t have a southern gentleman in your life right now, but you will soon, if we have anything to say about it.”

Misread me again.

“Mama, I’m eighteen.”

“That’s okay, honey,” she said again.  “Ain’t too late yet.  Don’t you fret none.  Remember that Lonnie Mae didn’t get married until twenty?  You’ve got time.  But you can’t wait too long, now.  Your eggs are probably already drying up.  You got your Memaw’s money, now.  That’ll attract you someone.  And you’re pretty, too,” she added, as if that fact were an afterthought.

I bit my tongue and took a deep breath, choosing my next words carefully.  “Don’t you worry, Mama.  I am going to do something great with my future with that money.”

***

Chapter One

“Classes went great, Mama.”  It was Sunday, and our once-a-week calls had started to get less awkward for me.  The first few weeks she’d put Daddy on the phone first so that he could tell me how disappointed he was in me, and how much I was disrespecting Duncan for doing what I did.  Then Mama’d come on the phone and cry and tell me everyone at church had been praying for my soul.  I don’t think I quite convinced her that Portland, Oregon wasn’t hell yet.  Baby steps, though.

“That’s good, baby.”  I could tell she was forcing her enthusiasm, so I tried a different approach.

“I put my hair in a braid today and the boy who sits behind me in debate said it looked nice.”  It was mostly true.  My hair was in a braid, and the boy who sat behind me did compliment it, but that was only because the braid brought out the purple and blue highlights I put in my hair.  He was an art major who said he admired the light and shadow and that he may have to borrow me to paint someday.  I told him that sounded like fun.  But if I told my mom that, she’d not only get at me for ruining what God had already made perfect, but also for acting like a lady with questionable morals.  Best not to tell her that part.

“I told you, Bobbie Grace.  The good ones will take a proper country girl over a devil-worshiping city girl any day.  Is this boy handsome?”

“Yes, actually, he is.”  I didn’t think about that until now, but now that she’d mentioned it, he was easy on the eyes.

“What’s his name?”

“Elijah.”

“A wonderful Christian name.”

Uh-oh.  I knew that tone in her voice.  She was already planning a baby shower for me.

“No, Mama.  It’s not like that.”

“Sure, honey.  Now I’m gonna get off the phone with you because you know what time it is.”

“Time for me to go to church?”

“I taught you well.  Love you, baby.”

“Love you, Mama.”

 

Chapter Two

One of the great ironic things I found nearby Portland State University’s campus was a bar.  The fact that there was a bar wasn’t the ironic thing; it was the name of this particular one.  What was great about it was that you didn’t have to be twenty-one to enter.  If you showed your student ID at the door, they’d let you into the restaurant part to study.  I didn’t think anything of it the first day I went there until a waiter came up to me and said, “Welcome to Church.  What can I get for you today?”

“Wait, what?  Did you just say Church?”

“Yep, that’s the name of the bar.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope.  We get that a lot, actually.  You know how there are bars with funny names, like ‘At Work’ or ‘None of Your Business?’  Well, the owners decided to call this place Church.”

I was astounded.  I’d found a place to go where I wouldn’t have to lie when I told Mama I went to Church on Sunday.  It was a sign.

“Did you need a minute?”  He was asking politely, but you could tell he was in a hurry to get somewhere.

Do I ever.  “Yes, please.”

“Sure thing.  I’ll be back in a little while.”

While perusing the menu and trying to choose between angel wings (with a side of Daily Bread, no less) and the Sunday Fried Chicken (Christ’s Casserole being a close third due to my curiosity), I heard my waiter and his boss chatting.

“I didn’t know he was moving back!  Well, this calls for a celebration.  Go ahead and go early.  The rest of us can hold down the fort.”

The waiter hurried back with a huge grin.  “Looks as if I’m heading out now.  Bridgette will be taking care of you now.”

“Thanks,” I replied.  “Enjoy your night off.”

“Oh, I will!”  In his haste he forgot to take off his nametag and apron.  My gaze followed him out through the front door, where another man was waiting for him.  To my surprise, he picked up my waiter, twirled him around enthusiastically, then planted a passionate kiss on him on the way down.

I felt a little sick inside.  It wasn’t ever something I’d seen before in Duncan, and it made me horribly uncomfortable and even a little offended that someone would be outright sinning in front of Church.  Never mind that it wasn’t really a church.  It was the principle of the thing.  All of a sudden I wasn’t hungry anymore.  I set the menu down and walked out the door, turning my head in the direction facing away from the newly reunited homosexual couple.

***

Since that day, I’d been back to Church several times, but always cautiously.  I couldn’t really deal with running into the waiter I met on my first visit.  I assumed that the boss had let him take some vacation time to be able to hang out with his surprise visitor.  I counted myself lucky in the regards that I hadn’t seen the waiter or his offensive behavior since.

“More tea, Bobbie, hon?”  By now I’d been coming here so much that Bridgette knew me on a first name basis.  Though for some reason, it really bothered me that she didn’t add “Grace” to it.  My name just didn’t sound right without it.

“Yes, please.”  I held out my cup to have it refilled.  Mama would probably call me a sinner if I told her that Church’s sweet tea would hold its own at the annual contest at the Duncan County Fair.  Truthfully, it was one of the only reasons I kept coming back to Church.  It was the cheapest thing on the menu and it came with endless refills.  So far, none of the food I tried was anything to write home about.

“Let me go and just grab a full pitcher for you, too, so you don’t have to wait for more,” Bridgette said after emptying the one she held in her hand.

“That would be great, thank you.”  I buried my nose in my education 101 textbook while Bridgette disappeared to the drink station.  I was really enjoying what I was learning so far, and I started to get lost in the material about different learning styles.

“Bobby!”  I heard Bridgette call excitedly on the way back to me.  She almost dropped the pitcher of sweet tea in her haste to the front of the bar.  I was a little confused; I didn’t realize she enjoyed my patronage so much.  I opened my mouth to answer her enthusiastic calling out of my name, but stopped myself when she just plopped the pitcher hurriedly on my table and ran right by me.

Huh.  When they said “Keep Portland weird,” I guess they really weren’t kidding.  I shook my head in amusement and turned to see what the fuss was about.

Bridgette had her arms around the first waiter and his—it disgusted me to even think about it—boyfriend.

“Welcome back!  We missed you around here.  Almost thought you were going to leave me all alone to rot.  Hey, good lookin’.  Long time, no see.”  She winked at the visitor.

“And miss out on all the fun?  Not a chance.”

“Ha.  You mean the money.”

“Shh, don’t let Shawn hear about that.  You’ll ruin the impression we worked so hard to build that we actually like working here.”

“Too late, slackers.”  The manager walked out to check out the commotion, but when he saw who it was, he playfully punched both the waiter and Bridgette in the arm.  I couldn’t help but wonder how long the trio had been friends to have such camaraderie.

“Well, look.  It’s the new girl!”  The waiter took the hand of his guy and brought him over to me proudly.

I could feel my face heating up from embarrassment.

“Good job, Bridge.  Kept her coming without me.  What’d you do, bribe her?”

“Nah, I just flashed her a little leg and made an agreement to always wear revealing shirts around her.”  She winked at me, and for a second I had a horrifying realization.
“Wait.  No, no I’m not attracted to her.  I’m not…I…wait, is this…?”  I couldn’t quite get the last words out of my mouth.

Bridgette and the waiter, who apparently had the same name as I did, exchanged a mental conversation that didn’t include me.

“Don’t worry, I got this,” she said aloud as she took a seat across from me.

“Um…you don’t have to give me special attention.  You can go ahead and take care of the other customers.”

“Uh-huh, sure.  When we get them.”

I followed her glance around the place and realized I was the only one there.

“To answer your question, no, this is not a gay bar.  Also, I was just messing with you.  I didn’t realize you’d take it so personally, so for that I’m sorry.  Don’t you ever mess around like that with your friends?”

I exhaled in relief.  I wasn’t sending out a bad impression, after all.  “No, no I don’t.  That’s really a horrible thing to call someone, you know.”

“What?”

I lowered my voice, not wanting to be rude.  “You know,” I repeated.  “Like the boy Bobby.”

“Honey, if you can’t even say the word gay, I’m not sure this is the place for you.”

“Are you?”

“I’m not, but I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“Doesn’t it bother you to see Bobby kissing another man?”

“Does it bother you to see two people who love each other show their affection?”

“Not at all.  As long as it’s a man and a woman.  It’s what…”

Bridgette put her hand up in protest.  “If you finish that sentence with, ‘God intended’, then I think we’re done here.”

“Do you have a problem with me having faith?”  I couldn’t figure out why I felt the need to defend myself.

“Of course not.  In fact, Bobby and Peter—his domestic partner, though it would be his husband, if they both had their way—have both been going to the Presbyterian church down the street for as long as I’ve known them.  I do, however, have a problem with you disrespecting my friends.”

“I wasn’t disrespecting them.  I’m just telling the truth.  They’re committing a sin.  What would you do if you saw someone murdering another person in your restaurant?  You wouldn’t just sit idly by.”

“In what universe is murder and being gay even remotely the same?”

“In mine.  You know, maybe you’re right.  Maybe this isn’t the place for me.  I’m sure Bobby and Peter are lovely people, but I don’t respect their values.  Thank you, though, for having such great customer service.  I’m going to have to find a different place to study.”

“Just as well.  You don’t fit in with this crowd, anyway.  Continue with your education.  Something tells me you really need it.”

Before I could come up with a retort, Bridgette was already at Bobby’s side, relaying the story to him.  Instead of looking angry as Bridgette had gotten, though, Bobby just looked incredibly hurt.  I caught a glimpse of him waving to me in a gesture of hopeful reconciliation, but like the first time I met him, I turned my head away and walked out the door.

I wasn’t in the wrong back there, I told myself as I started down the sidewalk back to my apartment.  A romantic relationship should be between a man and a woman.  That’s just how it is.  People love their pets, but it doesn’t mean they should marry them.  What a ridiculous notion.  Even though I knew I was right, I couldn’t shake the image of Bobby’s hurt face.  I started to get an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t the complimentary slice of Coca-Cola cake.

***

(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com

Hopefully Next Wednesday I’ll Have Actually Made My Word Count Goal!!!  (Right now I’m about 9000 words behind.  Ugh.)

Posted in Uncategorized

Written Word Wednesday: “Only in My Dreams”

I was fully intending on writing for an hour and posting the results here, really I was.  I read over this story that I haven’t read in over a year so I could start where I left off, so I did accomplish that.  But writing a scene?  Never panned out.

I didn’t want to leave you guys with absolutely nothing, though, so I’m going to post the start of this story.  If I’m lucky, maybe you guys will like what you read and encourage me to continue it.  Win-win, right?  🙂  (I’ve officially given up the war against using emoticons.  It’s too difficult for me.)

So here is what I have so far (click on “Only in My Dreams” link at the end).  Like “Quest for Perfection,” this is a raw draft, unedited and with some random thoughts that might not make sense in parentheses.  My usual process is to write through to the end, then go back and edit.

Please let me know what you think if you happen to read it.  Thank you!

Only in My Dreams

Again, this is all copyrighted.  Just ask me permission before quoting it and there’ll be no hard feelings, okay?  I’m fine as long as you don’t try to pass off this hard work as yours.

Happy Reading!

Posted in Written Word Wednesdays

Written Word Wednesday: Birthday Bashes (Memoir)

In-Progress Writing Projects to Finish

(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com

1) Autobiography/Memoir

      The big milestone that was my 30th birthday prompted me to recall the most memorable birthdays past:

I was born on Mother’s Day, 1982.  It doesn’t hold much significance to me, other than the fact that I know without a doubt that  I was born on a Sunday.  Most others have to look on a perpetual calendar or they just have a mom with a good memory.  My mother brings up the point that I was her Mother’s Day present on a fairly frequent basis.  Sometimes, I secretly roll my eyes at that.  A typical response is, “Oh, what a great present!”.  Usually out of politeness and for lack of a better answer.  I mean, how else are you supposed to respond to that comment, especially when it comes from a virtual stranger?  But I don’t roll my eyes because of the response.  I roll my eyes because I question how sincere my mother is when she calls me a “present”.  I suppose in a way it’s true, only because she doesn’t specify whether or not I was a good present or an equivalent of a present that’s been regifted so many times that it eventually comes back to the original gift-giver.

My mother and I have butted heads for as long as I can remember.  I’m 110% sure throughout most of my life, “present” wouldn’t be the word she would first use to describe me.  “Difficult”, “rebellious”, “hard-headed”, “flighty”, sure.  Present?  Not so much.  The funny thing is, many (if not all) of my friends scratched their heads when they saw how much trouble I got into with my mother.  For the most part, I was extremely obedient and innocent and pretty much allergic to stereotypical teenage mischief like drugs and sex.  I didn’t even so much as sneak out of the house until I was 20 years old, and of course by then, I was an adult and was free to go anywhere I pleased without parental authorization.  But boy, was I stubborn and opinionated!  And I was always, always unabashedly myself.  I made mistakes, wasn’t perfect, and my dream was to become a writer.  That resulted in a major argument that I will go into more detail about at a later time.  If I disagreed with something my mom said, I wasn’t afraid to say so.  I also happened to be less Emily Post-y than my mother and much more laidback, so when her proper mannerisms and old world style didn’t transfer to her progeny, it caused some friction, to put it lightly.

My early childhood birthday parties are years that just mesh together in one big blur.  The only real memories I have are from old pictures.  One picture in particular that stands out is my dad holding me on his hip.  The outfit I’m wearing is clearly my mother’s handiwork:  a very stylish pink dress with a cutesy bib collar and ridiculously large bow.  Red patent leather booties graced my feet. I also remember some diamond studs sparkling from my ears, though my hair’s covering them in the picture. My ears got pierced when I was six months old, so I didn’t really have that rite of passage that other girls have.  My lips are firmly suctioned to his cheek, and my father is smiling proudly.  I don’t remember the actual party, but that picture is one that I constantly recall in my memories when I think about birthdays.

The first birthday party I vividly remember is my ninth one.  I had invited my entire third grade class.  I was so excited for it and dressed my absolute best for it, with a pink poufy dress (I guess some of my mother’s styling had rubbed off on me by then) and a necklace from the flea market–my very first thing I remember purchasing with my own money.  In the middle sat a watermelon-pink crystal heart, the first border consisting of silver and clear crystal accents, the second border enveloping the whole lot in faux pearls.  I thought it was the most beautiful and special thing in the world.  Twenty-one years later, I still own it and wear it on ocassion.

I must have looked ridiculous wearing this fancy outfit to the McDonald’s playground (It was the first time I ever had a birthday party outside of my place of residence, and McDonald’s just seemed like a cool place to have it.), but I didn’t care.  My first big crush was invited, and I wanted to look my best for him.  I remember walking back and forth from the slide to the gate, waiting for my guests to arrive.  Nervousness and excitement bubbled inside me, causing me to slightly bounce when I walked.  This party was going to be huge!

Thirty minutes passed, and still no one was there.  “That’s okay,” I thought.  “Everyone’s just being fashionably late.”  I kept an optimistic smile on my face. Another thirty minutes after that, I started to feel deflated.  I asked to use the phone (remember the age before cell phones?) to call my best friend to see what was holding her up.  Turns out she was sick and couldn’t make it.  I admit, I didn’t believe her at first, but the next day when she didn’t show up to class,  I believed her.  I was disappointed.  Out of anyone else, I was hoping at least my best friend would be there.  Unfortunately, no one showed up.  Not even one person.  The employees took pity on me and tried to cheer me up by taking me behind the registers and showing me how to use the ice cream machine.  I smiled politely and thanked them.  When they gave me my huge birthday cake, I had them cut off one little chunk for me to take home.  The rest I gave to a stranger, one that I had decided was the dorkiest-looking kid in the restaurant, because I wanted to squeeze out the biggest philanthropic value.  The smile on that little girl’s face when she realized she’d be taking home an almost-entire cake helped to ease the hurt I was feeling.

Apparently what happened was that since I wasn’t very social (my parents kept me under glass), the parents didn’t feel comfortable letting their kids go to a party where they barely knew the kid.  I was a military brat and moved a lot.  The particular place I lived when I was nine years old, I only lived at for a year and a half.  So I didn’t really get the chance to know anyone aside from my crush and my best friend.  Many kids actually wanted to go (I asked, because I was upset), but they couldn’t.

I wish I could say there was some sort of happy surprise party waiting for me, but there wasn’t.  Turning nine was definitely memorable, though.

***

My tenth birthday was in a new place with new friends (we had only lived at our new home for a little over a month), and it was fun.  I think we had our weight in strawberry ice cream and cones.  I received walkie talkies from my older brother and me and my friends spent the rest of the day running around the house, hiding in corners and talking to each other.

I guess I could say that I made thirteen into my first “milestone” birthday.  The only way I could think of to properly celebrate my introduction to the teenage years was to see a PG-13 movie, since I was officially able to go without a parent.  My mom ended up chaperoning anyway, because some of my friends were still underage.  We saw The Craft and it was amazing.  I vaguely remember a friend of mine not being able to go for the same reasons parents tell their children not to read Harry Potter.  But really, the movie was harmless.  That didn’t stop me and my best friend at the time from rewatching the movie and memorizing the spells.

I look back on my sixteenth birthday party with cynicism.  It has been permanently labeled as my “Not-so-Sweet-16” party.  It started out innocently enough–a last big hurrah to childhood with a trip to the roller skating rink, then sleepover afterwards.  Alas, my friends were fifteen and sixteen, with fifteen-and-sixteen-year-old drama.  A boyfriend of one of my friends decided to come along for the ride to the rink.  I barely knew him, and their relationship was kind of iffy.  On the way, another one of my friends started talking about how her and her father weren’t getting along…to the point where she was afraid of him possibly abusing her.  Surprisingly enough, the boyfriend didn’t really pose too much a problem.  The drama started during the couple’s skate portion of the evening–but probably not in the way you’d think.  See, I was–and in some ways still–very much attached to the east coast where I used to live.  Yes, even though I only lived there for a year and a half, and even though I had that humiliating ninth birthday party, I loved living there.  Visiting the east coast in 2007, 2008, and 2009 made me realize that fact even more.  At the time that I was sixteen, I had lived on the west coast for six years, but that didn’t stop me from missing the east coast.  Watching everyone skating around reminded me a lot of the skate nights we used to have in elementary school, where I would shyly look across the rink at my first crush (the first crush that I mentioned earlier).  So when I saw someone skating around at my sixteenth birthday party who looked a lot like that crush, a wave of “homesickness” crashed over me, drowning me in sadness.  My mom noticed this and asked me why I was in such a bad mood.  I said simply, “I miss Nathan.” (Nathan’s not his real name, FYI)  She looked at me and laughed.  “Don’t be silly.  Get over it.”

I don’t know why I expected anything but that response for my mother, but I guess I was naive.  Thinking I could garner any support or sympathy from her was just as silly as she was telling me I was being.

Needless to say, I was super-disappointed by her lack of mom skills.  Later on during the skating session, I got caught in an awful lie that I’d told my then-best friend (long story for another time).  So on the car ride home, I was doubly sad because of my mom’s reaction and my loss of a best friend.  That was the mood I was in before the rest of the night happened.

When we all got home, my friend with the borderline-abusive father called the house telling my friend that she needed to go home RIGHT NOW to take care of her brother.  She answered that she told him about this party awhile ago and that he’d already given her the okay and that she wasn’t just going to leave.  I guess he didn’t like this answer, because about five minutes later, he banged on our door and abruptly grabbed my friend by her arm out the door.  She apologized profusely to me during the whole ordeal.  By that time, I’d pretty much had enough.  I locked myself in the bathroom and burst into tears.  After a few minutes one of my friends knocked on the door to coax me out and open presents and blow out my cake.  I remember someone saying, “Happy Sweet 16!” and me laughing bitterly and thinking, “Sweet 16, my ass!”  Somewhere I still have pictures of that party, with me opening presents and tears in my eyes.  It was hands-down the worst birthday I ever remember having.

***

I’m happy to say (knock on wood) that all my birthdays since then have been great.  My 18th birthday party was a wonderful introduction to adulthood.  I had a double-birthday party with a friend whose birthday was two days after mine.  We had it outdoors by the lake, and we made a playlist that included New Kids on the Block’s rendition of “Happy Birthday.”  There was dancing and running and good food.  Overall, a very pleasant party.

My 20th birthday was the first birthday I spent with my now-husband (then-boyfriend).  We had only been going out for a little while (ten days, to be exact) so everything was still new and a bit unsure.  For a present, he had special-ordered The Last Unicorn, which was one of my favorite movies (and ironically, I didn’t own it yet).  I remember him telling me he was so scared that I wouldn’t like it or I would think it was cheesy, but really, I thought it was absolutely perfect.  He pulled some strings with the RAs in the hall to borrow a table to put in his dorm room.  I stepped into a homecooked dinner of chicken alfredo with broccoli and pine nuts and garlic bread with butter on a wooden butter plate.  I kid you not, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was playing in the background (I think he asked me previously what I liked as romantic dinner background music).  It sounds cheesy, but it was so perfect and impressive, especially since I knew he sweated to make it perfect for me.  🙂

Turning 21 was a pretty epic experience, and it all happened without a 21-run!  At this point, Gruffy (again, not his real name…though that one should be pretty obvious) and I had gotten pretty competitive in who could be more creatively romantic.  For my 21st birthday, he set up a scavenger hunt for me around campus, leaving 21 clues at 21 of our favorite spots.  Attached to each clue was a flower.  Let me tell you, he got some major points from peoples besides me that day when he told them what he was up to!  The last clue led right to him waiting for me with a hug.  (Yep, he’s pretty awesome sometimes!)  I have a couple of boxes chronicling our relationship, and I have a book of all the clues and the flowers dried.  There are many times where the hubby dangles that above my head when I’m a little annoyed at him.  I gotta admit, it’s a pretty good one.

Afterwards, we went out to a swanky-yet-laidback (sounds like an oxymoron, but in this case, they got it just right!) restaurant.  For some reason, I don’t remember what I ate, but I remember one of my friends ordered goulash.  I have a strange memory, I guess.  But for those who want to know, my first legal drink was a Long Island Iced Tea.  And here I bring in yet another Gilmore Girls reference (Remember when I said it’ll probably become more common?  Yeah.  It’s starting.):

Lorelai telling Rory about the dangers of Long Island Iced Tea.

Though I didn’t lift my skirt in public or call someone I didn’t mean to call, I did do things I normally wouldn’t do.  After about two big gulps in, I was already feeling the effects.  I remember getting sleepier and sleepier.  Unbeknownst to me, my head started sinking down onto the shoulder of the guy sitting next to me.  This guy, by the way, was NOT my boyfriend, though my boyfriend was pretty amused at my actions.  Now that I think about it, I believe it was the guy who ordered the goulash.  Hmmm…intrigue!  Maybe Long Island Iced Teas make me crave goulash?  Anyways.

The rest of the night was a blur, even though that was the only drink I had.  But I do know I didn’t pass out or vomit, so I definitely see that as a success.  🙂

For my 22nd birthday, I spent it with Gruffy and my two best friends from high school in my hometown.  Since my hometown was a 5-hour drive from the college town I lived in, we decided to make a weekend road trip out of it, especially because the times I saw those friends were getting quite few and far between.  We convened at a nearby Applebee’s and had some good conversation, drinks, and appetizers.  After about an hour, my best girl friend went home to catch the season finale of Survivor.  Gruffy was tired from the drive and so wanted to go back to my parents’ house to sleep, but he didn’t want to be the party pooper so suggested I continue the party by hanging out with my best guy friend while he went back and slept.  I should bring up now that Gruffy and my guy friend get along splendidly, and they had met several times before that moment, so there was no awkwardness in this situation whatsoever.

So we temporarily went our separate ways, and I went to my friend’s house for more conversation and an introduction to Happy Tree Friends (I am still half-traumatized, half-greatly-amused by recalling that moment).  When he dropped me off, we both still thought the night wasn’t over yet, so we took a walk around my neighborhood and chatted some more.  After I finally hugged him goodbye, I smiled and filed the day away as yet another great birthday party.  But then I turned around and saw my dad’s silhouette watching me from the second-story window.

As soon as I stepped in the front door, my father pulled me aside.  Gruffy was relaxing on the couch and could hear everything going on.
“I saw you walk around the neighborhood.  Who was that guy?”
“Um, that’s my friend, Dad.  You’ve seen him plenty of times before.”
“But that’s not your boyfriend.”
“I know.  Is that a problem?”
Oh, bad question.
“You’re disrespecting your boyfriend by spending time with him.”
“Actually, it was his idea to hang out with him.  And besides, I’m an adult now.  I’m allowed decide who I do or don’t hang out with.”
“He just said that because he wanted to be polite.  But I’m a man, I know how much that hurts.”
I was completely appalled.  Really, I think it was a generational disconnect between us.  In his world, there was no such thing as having a guy friend.
At this point, Gruffy decided to intervene.  “I’m not jealous at all.  It’s not my job to regulate Violet’s friendships.  I trust her to not do anything to disrespect me, because I know her better than for her to ever do something like that.”
Now it was my dad’s turn to be shocked.  He dropped the issue, but you could tell it still bugged him.  In fact, he brought it up again a few days later, but I stood my ground.

It was an interesting birthday party, to say the least, but I can truly say I did a lot of growing up that day.  That, and Gruffy earned major awesomeness points.  🙂
***
The rest of my 20s went off without a hitch, and without anything exceptionally memorable, but I see that as a good thing.  It means that it was a pretty relaxing group of birthday parties.  Some quick highlights include my 25th birthday, where I got a trio of purple from a friend of mine (lavender spray, purple bag, and a delicious purple birthday cake with purple icing) and got 25 quarters from the bank (get it?  25 25-cent pieces?) to spend on memorable events during my 25th year, which included paying for part of my wedding dress (the seamstress was really awesome about it after hearing my story…I basically gave her a check for the total of the dress minus 25 cents plus the quarter), my wedding venue (same situation), part of the toll on the Pennsylvania turnpike, and 22 other things (that I can’t remember at the moment, but I wrote them all down); and the year I turned 27 and received my precious Kindle.  Gruffy had basically taken up a collection, and this was when Kindle was new on the market.  It was also my first-ever surprise party (which, if I were to be honest, I kinda knew about)  I was so incredibly touched and I refuse to upgrade to a more recent version because this first-generation Kindle has so many good memories surrounding it.

A few birthday parties later, and here I am, 30 years old.

My Dirty 30 party was pretty epic, if I do say so myself.  The theme was carried through when I issued the invitation, telling people to dress in their version of dirty clothing, if they wished.  I donned a leopard-print dress, knee-high black leather high-heeled boots, super-smoky eyes, big dangly earrings, and bright red lipstick.  (Those pictures will go unposted.  What happens–and what’s worn–at my Dirty 30 party stays at my Dirty 30 party!)  A couple of my friends completely made my day by showing up as a pimp and his madame.  The pimp was clad in a purple suit with a zebra-striped collar, and the madame was wearing an “L.A. has a pink taco” tank, lacy black bra exposed, hot pants, ripped fishnet stockings, teased hair, and makeup she learned from a “how to look like a drunken ho” makeup tutorial.  It was an amazing present!

The Dirty 30 theme was also in the menu.  I made dirty rice, sloppy Joes, dirty martini dip, “muddy water” (homemade root beer), “dirty lemonade” (lemonade with bits of lemon pulp and strawberries), Muddy Buddies (for those who haven’t heard of them, it’s Chex cereal coated with peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar), and, my crowning glory, “worms in dirt”:

I followed this recipe , then added Oreo crumbs (just put ’em through a blender) to look like dirt.  It basically tasted like a raspberry-chocolate parfait.  Delicious!  And all my guests were impressed by them, so I count that as a success.  🙂

We played a dirty secrets game, which was fun, and I got absolutely spoiled with presents.  I was pretty taken aback by that, because I am neither used to nor expect to ever get treated that way.  My only hope is that I act in a way that deserves it, and can offer my friendship in return.  After all, isn’t that what life’s about–to be the best version of you that you can possibly be?  I’m hoping that I’ll take that lesson and apply it to the rest of the years of my life and for many birthdays to come.  🙂

(c) Copyright VC/GS listlovelaugh.wordpress.com

Wishes for Your Own Wonder Years,