Saturday, June 17, 2017

Things I Learned from My Own Personal Daddy - DON'T BREAK THE MAGIC

In January of 2010, I lost my Dad.  I was 41.


Like many (most?) other girls in the world, my Dad and I sometimes had a tumultuous relationship.  Ups, downs, sideways, and every other way in between.  It wasn't until I was a little older and had some distance in my 20s that I really understood that his intentions were ALWAYS to help me be a better person. To guide me, to love me, to point me in the direction he thought I should be going, although we OFTEN struggled to understand each other. 


I appreciate his INTENTIONS even more now than ever.


My Dad was a choir director for jr. high and high school kids at a public school in Mississippi, and at the church in which I grew up.  He did the music.  My Mom, also a music major, and at that time a piano teacher, children's church choir director, and choreographer of a dance line at the local community college, often accompanied the choir and choreographed and taught all the dances for my Dad's choirs.


He started way back in 1970, at a time when Mississippi was still struggling with the results of integration. (not that we aren't still struggling, but that's a topic for another day). 

I can tell you one thing 100% - my Daddy did not care if you were red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, or violet.  If he saw a spark in someone, he did anything he could do to foster that spark.  He picked people up and dropped people off for rehearsal if they couldn't get there on their own.  I have vivid memories of pick-up-truck beds full of kids going here or there to practice.  (It was the 70's and 80's in the deep south.  Yes, we rode in the back of pick-up-trucks. Put down your pitchforks.  It was a different time.)  He called parents to convince them to let their kids participate. In the days long before cellphones, I overheard many of those conversations as he stood at the phone in our kitchen.  (Yes kids - we used to have phones ATTACHED TO THE WALL and you couldn't walk very far away because the cord was only so long.)

He raised money.  He got sponsors for kids who couldn't afford to go on the choir trips. He hired kids to do jobs around our house to help them out.  He advocated for them with teachers, coaches, and family. He made the kids participate in the fundraising too.  I sold enough M&M boxes to fill a warehouse, and there were car washes and yard cleanups and I can't even remember what all else.

He did a lot of this work behind the scenes.  Although in some ways he liked the limelight, he didn't like the spotlight.  Know what I mean? He liked the stage, but didn't love it.  He was so talented, but never really 100% confident in it.  He had stage nerves big-time, often not helped by the fact that he waited until the day of a performance to learn the words to a song or lines in a play.....GEE I WONDER WHERE I GET MY PROCRASTINATION GENE?? ha!

His comfortable place to shine was behind the scenes.  Making the phone calls.  Building the sets.  Promoting the kids. Pushing the kids to believe in themselves.  He never stopped believing in the kids.

He was a mentor, advocate, and father figure to a LOT of kids over the years.  I'm not gonna lie.  Sometimes I was really, REALLY jealous of this, because I felt how much it took out of him.  Sometimes it left us at home a little short, to be honest.  It happens to the best people - when they invest so much of themselves in others. But that's why I call him MY OWN PERSONAL DADDY.  He was a lot of things to a lot of people - but only My Daddy.

But BOY did he expect us kids to put in the work!!  If we came in to rehearsal goofing around, talking, lazy, slow, tired....we would find ourselves quickly out the back door of the rehearsal room running laps on the school's football practice field.  Oh and did I mention this was the deep south and the rehearsal room had no air conditioning and no windows?  That is also a story for a different day....

I only got one paddling in school in 12 years - and it was from my Daddy.  He paddled the entire choir - one lick each.  We were talking outside before a performance and the people inside could hear us.  He made me be first, because he said I should have known better than anyone to be quiet.  hahahaha. 

Dad expected THE BEST from his kids.  ALL his kids.  He took choirs all over the south, to Disney World, to competitions here and yon, to perform at the World's Fair (I was in that choir), and to perform all over Europe (I was too young to be in that choir.) He had just as much fun on those trips as the kids.  He loved it.  He loved giving kids opportunities to go places and see things they may not otherwise see.

My Mom was right there with him, teaching us to spin and sway and kick and turn, until her own career as a middle school choir director and her work with the children and youth choirs at the church had her so busy he had to turn to professional dance teachers for help. 

I learned many things from my Daddy, although some have taken me lots of years to realize and truly understand.  Here are just a few that come to mind today - this day-before-Father's Day.

1> Believe in people.  They often are not capable of seeing the magic within themselves.
2> If people have taken the effort and time out of their lives to come and see you in a play or a concert or anything else, DON'T BREAK THE MAGIC. Don't ripple the stage curtain when it's closed.  Don't peak out to see who's in the audience.  Don't make noise backstage. Let people believe you are who they think you are (if it's a good thing;P )
3> Be humble.  Don't brag about your accomplishments, just work to accomplish more.
4> Light red, white, and blue smoke bombs in your back yard when you are feeling patriotic.  LOVE AMERICA.
5> READ.  Read books.  Read newspapers.  Read every plaque on the side of the road and at every informational blurb at every museum or historical site or zoo
you visit.  NEVER STOP LEARNING and paying attention!!
6> Go down roads you don't know. You never know what magic it may lead you to.
7> Laugh. He once said to me, "A person can make themselves miserable in Disney World."  He meant BE HAPPY WHERE YOU ARE. BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.  Make the world around you - no matter how small that world is - a better place.


As people do, we had both grown, matured and learned to communicate with each other better over the years.  Our relationship in his last few years was very different than it was during my own tumultuous teens and 20's, and I'm so very thankful for that.  We were in a good place when he left us, and I miss him.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Murder Podcast Obsession


If you know me, you know I'm convinced I am either going to get serial killed or I was serial killed in a prior life.  Their brains terrify and fascinate me.  From as far back as the 5th grade, I wanted to work for the FBI and solve crimes.  I read a ton. I watched every documentary.  When I was in college, I started out in engineering but quickly changed to psychology because I wanted to work with the criminally insane.  Then I realized how much schooling that would take, and switched to accounting. 



Still, whenever I'm in a hotel, and the fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night, my first thought is:



"a serial killer has pulled the fire alarm so we will leave our rooms and he can ax murder us." Paranoid, probably, but then again, who knows??



Fortunately, work-related training and assignments have allowed me to explore a little more of the psychology of crime, perpetuating my fascination with crazy criminals.  Which leads us to my current obsession with murder-related podcasts.  A bunch of people have asked me which ones I listen to, so here is a list of what I've listened to and some of what I'm subscribed to right now:



Serial – SEASON 1 The podcast that started it all. About Adnan Syed – who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in their senior year of high school. The story of the investigation and trial is told here, with some pretty damn important info. Still not a DEEP dive, but lays the groundwork for everything that is to come. SO SO SO SHADY – and this poor boy has spent 18 years in jail for this.     During Serial, two other podcasts popped up.



Undisclosed – SEASON 1 Rabia Chaudry is the attorney/ family friend of the Syeds who originally got Sarah Koenig, the developer for Serial, to do the story. She decided at some point that there needed to be a deeper dive on all the evidence, which she had been carrying around in her car and/or storing in her basement all these years. She is joined by 2 other attorneys, and holy CRAP they come up with some amazing evidence, along with:



Truth and Justice – SEASON 1 Bob Ruff started this podcast and has since quit his job as a Fire Fighter to pursue it full time. There are crazy shady players, weird cell phone ping issues, REALLY WEIRD lividity evidence ( I didn’t even know what that was until these podcasts), a random STREAKER, falsified time sheets, an attorney who goes nuts, prosecutors who LIE LIE LIE, and MUCH more!!…..it is INSANE.  During the course of their investigations, Bob, Rabia, and the 2 other attorneys (Susan Simpson and Colin Miller) on Undisclosed found evidence mismanaged, missed, or falsified SO BAD they got Adnan’s conviction overturned!!!! He is now awaiting either release or a new trial. Sorry for the spoiler, but you need to know!  This is happening right now! This means, of course, that this is actually an UNSOLVED MURDER. But we pretty much know who did it. P.S. – NOT ADNAN!!! Non-Adnan Syed podcasts::



Undisclosed – SEASON 2 “The State Vs. Joey Watkins”  Another kid in jail for YEARS. Convicted of a murder he seems highly unlikely to have committed. This one is in process, and the team has already uncovered a LOT of shady stuff happening with the apparent coercion of “witnesses” (there were none) by the DA. They also keep us updated as things are happening with Adnan’s case.

 

Truth and Justice – SEASON 2 OMG. I want to be Bob Ruff when I grow up. He has uncovered some AMAZING stuff. This season, he started working on the case of a guy in jail for a RIDICULOUS amount of time for armed robbery in Tyler, Texas. It has evolved from there into a very deep investigation of the murder of a woman, and the (again – teenage) boy who has ended up doing serious time for something it does NOT seem he had anything to do with. Corruption in the Smith County, Texas DA’s office appears to be really, really, really HORRENDOUS. He still hasn’t given up on the case he started the season with, but it all ties together. I will be very surprised if this guy’s conviction is not overturned – SOON – and that means this is another UNSOLVED MURDER!! I also won’t be surprised if Bob solves this one. He pretty much has solved the one in the Adnan case (not “proven” yet – but the theory is sound).  THEN, he got involved with the Kerry Max Cook case. He stayed in jail for 20 years for a murder he didn’t commit. Is now out. Murder is technically UNSOLVED, but Bob’s theory is SPOT ON, and could result in Cook being declared “actually innocent”. (I think he took an Alfred Plea once the state figured out they screwed up completely.)



Truth and Justice – SEASON 3 currently on-going. The story of the murder of Keow Gove, and the shady, shady, shady case against the convicted (innocent probably) guy sitting in jail for it. Still loving Bob. 



My Favorite Murder – MY FAV! This one is hilarious. 2 girls sit around and talk about 1 murder each. There are LOTS of F-Bombs, so if you don’t like that, skip it. You will be missing out, though. This one makes me laugh so much. They still talk about murders, some solved some unsolved. And they are sweet and sad and kind when they talk about them. But otherwise, they are wild and FUNNY.   They end every podcast with STAY SEXY, DON'T GET MURDERRRRED!  I want to just go hang out with them.



Real Crime Profile – These 2 people are retired FBI profilers, specialized in serial killings, domestic abuse, slaking behavior. I first heard about them when they did some profiling/ analysis on the Adnan Syed case. Now they have their own podcast. They have gone in to GREAT detail about some very well-known cases – OJ Simpson, Jon Benet Ramsey, and now Amanda Knox. I didn’t think I would like it. Thought I would be bored. But WOWZERS. They explain SO much more about the evidence and behavioral profiles than I knew before. WELL worth the listen. 



The Vanished – This one is done by Marissa Jones. Paralegal by day, podcaster by night. Her voice is soothing. The stories she features are ones I haven’t heard before -the much less well known ones.



Last Podcast on the Left – This one is hilarious and I love it. They just recently did a DEEP dive into L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology which was awesome. However, if you are easily offended by language or raunchiness, this one is not for you.    

        

Others I listed to religiously:

Sword and Scale            

In Sight            

Once Upon a Crime            

Generation Why            

Talking Crime            

Thin Air Podcast            

Already Gone Podcast            

The Trail Went Cold            

Casefile True Crime            

The Unresolved Podcast            

Up and Vanished            

Thinking Sideways  

 

And yes, Jimmy, I finally started listening to S-Town last night, and I am already totally HOOKED! J

 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

S%@T I Did Not Buy


I know I will probably be showing my lack of worldliness and sophistication because I don't know the true translation of these words, but come on.

Gelees already implies gelatin, one of the world's most disgusting substances. ("Hey you know what I think would make an AWESOME desert?  Boiled cows knees!") 

These people just go ahead and put it right out there. The truth, nothing but the truth.

Morbid Gelees.  Really?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

On My Phone Issue

So it’s Mardi Gras day.  I’m in Rouse’s (a grocery store) looking for something yummy to take to the Biloxi parade, where I will be with my Mom, brother, sis-in-law, Nieces 1 and 2, and the whole in-law clan.  It should be a fun day.  I am marginally excited (I mean, I am up early and in a grocery store, I’m as excited as I’m gonna GET about that), and then…

I need to call my Mom to get her approval on what I’m getting.

I need to call.  CALL.  On the phone. 

I’m standing there looking at the trays of mini muffulettas, looking for the phone icon on my cellphone, which I have hidden from normal view for reasons which will soon become evident.  I see that my hands are shaking.  As I look at my phone, a woman comes up and grabs all but 1 of the muffuletta trays, so I panic and grab the last one, then go back to trying to call Mom. 

I could go to recent calls and just click that, but that is a facetime, not a regular call.  I don’t want to facetime in the grocery store.  I’m not THAT girl.  So, I figure out how to call her.  My anxiety at this point is about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.  She answers, I say hey, she can’t hear me, we talk over each other.  My anxiety is now a 6.  OK now we can hear each other, so I start telling her about the mini muffulettas, and then the call drops. 

Now I’m at about an 8.  She immediately tries to call me back on facetime.  I bite her head off (completely undeservedly) and say I don’t want to facetime in the middle of the grocery. I’m sure she thinks I’m just being bitchy, and I AM.  What I can’t explain is that I am now at a 9, and my brain has taken me smack-dab back to September of 2005, sitting in a mildewy hotel conference call surrounded by 10 or more phones RINGING OFF THE HOOK, and on the end of EVERY one of those calls is a person with a story I am not equipped to hear. 

I get the stuff at Rouse’s, all while reliving those calls and stories in my head.  I am thinking about those calls at the checkout.  I’m thinking about those days after on the way home to my Mom’s cottage.  I am thinking about the worst of those stories.  Seeing, in my head, the scenes I can’t ever forget.  Thinking about all those people.  All those animals…
I can’t control it. 

I get to Mom’s, and I’m down to about a 5.  My hands are still shaking a little, but I have done some serious soul-searching in the meantime and I have come to some realizations. 

1>     I’m an accountant, not a psychiatrist, but I think this may be some legit form of PTSD.
2>     I very much feel like I don’t have any RIGHT to have any form of PTSD. I didn’t lose anyone. I didn’t lose my house, my business, my car, my school... I didn’t have to deal with insurance companies.  It only took me a few DAYS to find out that everyone in my family was ok, not WEEKS.  I feel like I don’t DESERVE the knot in my stomach.  I haven’t earned it. 
3>     Then, I think about one of the youtube videos I watched recently, I wish I could remember who, and her words came back to me…
“I feel guilty for feeling this way, but the fact of the matter is, this is still the worst thing that has ever happened TO ME. So, I feel the way I feel." 

And you know what?  She’s right.  Yeah I’m going to continue to feel horrible that I have any stress about the issue at all, but the fact of the matter is this:  I was in a situation over which I had no control and I was woefully unequipped to handle.  Now, 11 years later, the reminders always bring some certain level of stress. The vacant lots where houses once stood (there is one directly across the street from my house) keep my anxiety present, though at a low level.  But the phone.  OMG the phone. 
For weeks after the storm, I talked on the phone. For HOURS – at least 8, sometimes 12, sometimes MORE- EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  To people who had lost everything.  To the woman who climbed in her attic to escape the flood and had to watch her 80-year-old mother drown.  To the woman who was staying at a friend’s house when someone else staying there committed suicide. To the man whose dog died along with many others in the back of a semi-trailer full of pets being evacuated when the air conditioning went out in the trailer and the driver didn’t know. To the people who had lost their houses AND their jobs, and maybe did not know if everyone they loved were even alive. To people crying, sad, panicked, terrified. Just terrified. 

All day. Every day. And the phone connections were HORRID.  Dropped calls constantly.  Busy signals, busy signals, busy signals, CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED, static.....static...


I was not equipped.  I broke out in hives from the stress and had to get steroid shots.  I looked like I had the measles.  That is the only time that has ever happened to me. 

My job during those calls, as a Federal Financial Institutions Examiner, was to get these people – these scared, devastated people – to open their financial institution.  Sounds callous, right?  But it truly wasn’t – their members were also devastated and scared and needed access to their money.  We got that job done, and I am still not ready to really talk about that part of it.  The point is, people got to their money, we tried to help in any way possible, and we did everything we could possibly think of to do to ease the burden of what we were asking.
Again let me say - I am an ACCOUNTANT.  Once, I had to take a personality test for work.  It ranked 50 personality traits.  Empathy was one of the traits.  It was number 49 on my list. 

And yes, I supposed that probably APPEARS true, but I think it is actually a rebound result.  I think perhaps I have purposely suppressed my empathy as much as I possibly can in order to just FUNCTION.  It still peaks through where I can’t control it.   I can’t watch anything on TV where an animal gets hurt.  I can’t even watch Bambi.  It tears my HEART OUT and I can’t take it. I can’t STAND to see anyone in actual physical pain, or even watch an actor pretend to be in physical pain. Any scenes like that just play over and over and over on a loop in my head until I feel like I’m losing my mind.
And as for actual, real-live people being in emotional pain?  Well, I’ve just been able to pretty much AVOID that my whole life. 

Except for after Katrina, when I had no choice but to talk to people and hear their stories and cry with them and be scared for them.  It ripped my soul out, and still does. 

The other day I was in a store with Mom and my friend Shannon when the talk amongst the patrons and owners of the store turned to Katrina.  After just a few minutes, my anxiety was at about a 6, and I just walked outside and removed myself from the conversation.  I can’t always do that. 

My point is this:  My lingering anxiety about this is real, I can’t control it.  Yes, I still feel incredibly guilty for having any anxiety about it at all, but there is it.  I was thrust in to a situation I was not equipped to handle, and I did not handle it well.  A ringing phone, a bad connection, a dropped call, all bring it rushing back to me and deposit me right back in to the hotel conference room.  I can still hear the pain in those people’s voices and see it in their eyes when I finally did get to meet with them. Yes, they were work associates, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t care deeply about each and every one of them.  And I still do. 

And NO, none of us are “over it yet”.  None of us ever will be.  

Call me a weenie, a wuss, over-emotional, whatever.  You can do your part in keeping my anxiety under control by 1> TEXT ME, for the LOVE OF GOD, just TEXT ME 2> Do not say things like “aren’t y’all over that yet”, and 3> if you do see me panicking on the phone, just pat me on the head and tell me it’s all going to be ok.  One of the positive lessons I learned through this experience (and yes, there were many) is that a little bit of compassion really DOES go a long way. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

SIDNB Feb 2017

And now for the return of  everyone's favorite blog feature.....

S#*t I DID NOT BUY! 
I am currently in Dallas helping proctor a test for work. Proctoring is a fancy word for "reading instructions out loud and making sure people don't cheat." It is only for two nights, and the hotel gift shop has red bull, so it's all good.


Last night my new friend OHR Lauren and I went took the hotel shuttle over to the Galleria Mall. (I know a lot of Laurens. This one shall be known as OHR Lauren, since she works in OHR.) We walked around for several hours. She turned me on to some new products at Sephora, we looked at all the super cute jewelry in Nordstrom and elsewhere, ate great pasta (believe it or not) at a restaurant where we could watch the little kids taking their ice skating lessons, and got free froyo at the yogurt shop because it was National Froyo Day or somesuch.  It was pretty much an awesome, easy, fun evening.


In one of the little shops (I don't remember which one), I spotted a clearance room in the way back of the store. And in this clearance room, OHR Lauren spotted one of the best SIDNB's ever.



 








That, my friends, is a spray painted tree branch, with sparkly bit stapled on the end. On clearance for $88.88. My mind boggles.


While I'm at it, Here's another Thing I Did Not Buy at the airport:  







WTH is "Real Fake Gum"???









Monday, January 30, 2017

WWJD?

Sonya
Sunday 10:21pm
plenty big, comes in 22 colors
http://www.brylanehome.com/decor/Florence-Oversized-Cotton-Bedspread-Collection.aspx?PfId=16994&DeptId=15167&ProductTypeId=2&ppos=1&Splt=0&StyleNo=0004
 
Sonya
http://www.jcpenney.com/blue-retro-chic-striped-bedspread-accessories/prod.jump?ppId=1d09dc5&catId=cat100330009&deptId=dept20000012&urlState=/g/king-quilts-bedspreads/N-bwo3wD1nqf4pZ1z141nw
 
Jason
I like the second one
 
Sonya
yeah I kind of really like that one too
 
Sonya
http://www.wards.com/Bed-and-Bath/Bedding/Comforters-Quilts-and-Bedspreads/zoey-stripe-chenille-bedspread.pro?fpi=148667&catCd=SI&prefixCode=SI
 
Jason
Not so much
 
Sonya
lolol
 
Sonya
https://www.amazon.com/Chezmoi-Collection-Kingston-Oversized-Bedspread/dp/B00T3OQCCO/ref=pd_sbs_201_8?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=96YTBP17C68SJTH0VJAA
 
I like this best I think, and it's cheap enough to buy 2 to layer
 
Jason
We dont want 2 bedspreads
We want a bigger version of tge green knit one and a bedspread
I like the second color of the stripe one or the grey
Either one
 
Sonya
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MAT1E5Y/ref=s9_dcacsd_dcoop_bw_c_x_7_w
 
Jason
K. Like sage better.










Monday 1:01pm
Sonya
Hi love
 
Jason
Hey
  
Sonya
heyyyyyyyyyyy
 
Jason
Hows it goin
 
Sonya
hey
I miss you
 
Jason
Hey hon, miss you too
 
Jason
I am trying to find good gel insoles
on amazon
 
Sonya
I am trying to find a bedspread
 
Jason
you don't like that striped one?
 
Sonya
meh
I like it ok
I just think it is too much
no?
 
Jason
the one you showed me last was 100% polyester
which... the green one we have now is 100% cotton with poly fill


Sonya
k
 
Jason
so I dunno how it would feel
but is it 100 for the striped one?
 
Sonya
yeah cotton would be better
 
Sonya
everything I like is too freakin short
 
Sonya
I'm back to the JC Penney one. all cotton
but I think I like the red one better. It's cheerier, and it would layer with either of the ones we already have
 
Jason
link?
 
Sonya
http://www.jcpenney.com/blue-retro-chic-striped-bedspread-accessories/prod.jump?ppId=1d09dc5&catId=cat100330009&deptId=dept20000012&urlState=%2Fg%2Fking-quilts-bedspreads%2FN-bwo3wD1nqf4pZ1z141nw
 
Jason
so you don't like the neutral?
I just worry the red isn't going to look good against all that dark wood. we don't really have a lot of red anything.
 
Sonya
the quilt we already have with the birds on it has the same colors as this - some read, some blue, brown, green, coral
the neutral one - oooo is that what you meant by the 2nd one?
I could live with that
and yeah actually I think that would look better with the sheets
I didn't even really look at that one before
 
Jason
yes that is the one I meant by second. Sorry didn't remember thename.
it isn't cool like the blue/green one, but not as bright as the red one
 
Sonya
I see now
 
Jason
but if the red ones will make you happy, then get them.
 
Sonya
nah
now I like the neutral better haha
 
  
 
Sonya
hmmmm now I like red
 
 
how do you still love me
 
Jason
I think to myself, "What would Jesus do"
 
Sonya
omg you just almost made me spit protein shake all over my computer in the middle of class.