Tales of Transitions

Small Town Stories

I just got off the phone with my stepdad. He’s pretty much the greatest. I typically call him when I don’t know how to be an adult. Like when I’m filling out forms to get my own car insurance, or when I can’t login to my bank account, or when I know something important has been mailed to their address.

These types of phone calls have been more frequent now that I’m pretending to be an adult every day and don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m not complaining because it means I get to chat with him more. And one thing I sometimes forget about him . . . he’s pretty funny.

He’s technically retired, but really his job is to take care of their home and land about 10 minutes outside my small East Texas hometown. Mostly this includes mowing, cleaning, mowing some more, taking care of the lake, doing laundry, and then some more mowing.

Yesterday it also included killing a hog. We’ve known they’ve been around for a while. They’ve left their marks, but we’ve never seen them (because their typically nocturnal and my whole family goes to bed early). When my stepdad looked out the window, he saw one just hanging out by the waterfront. He didn’t think his shotgun would do it, so he called his pal down the road, a gun connoisseur, to help him out. “In all my excitement, I managed to dial Tommy’s number. I said, ‘Tommy come a runnin!’ This dude is out just wanderin’ around!”

This opened up a whole slew of stories about happenings around The Road, otherwise known as my parents’ “neighborhood” out in the semi-country.

“Did your mother tell you about this one? Adam told your mother . . . we may have a cult living next door. They got a lotta goats over there.” I’m laughing. “They had quite a few cars there the other day and I mean, goats everywhere. Maybe your mother and I can head over there sometime to rejoice with them. We got weirdos all around us.”

“Another one came the other day and asked if I could help him move a safe . . . with my tractor. Uhh . . . ‘I’m a little tied up right now. Let me get back to ya.’ I called the police to ask if they knew of anyone missing a safe. Sure enough a deputy came out to check on things not long after.”

“Excitement is all over the place! A couple of them down the road are headed back to the penn. Yes sir, we’re having fun.”

So I guess I can add to the aforementioned list of his day-to-day jobs keeping tabs on The Road.

Signing off, I said, “Thanks for providing me some entertainment this morning.”

His reply, “You’ll be smilin’ the rest of the day with all the stuff I’ve told you.” He was right.

Then and Now — What I Read

Now that I have a “real” job in the “real” world, I get sad from time to time that my life in literature is suffering. I’m a very slow reader, but a reader nonetheless.

As an English major, I developed a great appreciation for depressing stories. Happy endings? Why would I want to waste my time with those when we can focus on pain and destruction? The fairy tales I was required to read usually consisted of the fairy/mythical creature somehow seducing and/or poisoning the story’s lead. It didn’t matter what time period or country it was, either. If it was literature throughout the world, there was a whole slew of wrongs to discuss. If we were in Britain, we were going to be talking about how the Industrial Revolution was ruining our lives. Even the wealthiest Americans of the roaring 20s were going to find something to complain about. It was all Paradise LostThe Awakening, and Edgar Allan Poe. Whatever we read, it was going to be depressing.

I spent a little time during my undergrad trying to figure out why our teachers focused on these types of stories. Then I stopped wondering and just went with it.

Any time low brow literature was brought up in any given class, all English majors (myself included) in the room would roll their eyes and scoff. Going through our heads was, “That poor non-English major. They actually think Twilight is a good book. They don’t know what they’re missing without our intellectual depressing stuff. They think things should turn out okay at the end. Kid stuff.”

1. This has a point.

2. Whilst making said point, I am also here to confirm that English majors are often as pretentious as you think they are.

Eventually, this type of literature even took over my personal reading list. Christmas break? Must be time to read a little Ayn Rand (and once again, I do mean a little. I’ve been reading Atlas Shrugged off and on for about five years). Summer vacation? I can finally re-read Of Mice and Men and The Bell Jar! A nonfiction piece on Nazi Germany sure does sound refreshing! These stories were raw. These stories were real. Even though I’d rarely been in circumstances similar to these characters’, the author had found a way to make it resonate with me. I think that’s one mark of a good author.

Now, post-graduation, I’m getting paid to read depressing stories every day.

Instead of reading stories about spoiled rich kids who are depressingly finding themselves, or fire and brimstone recounts of Bible stories, I read about families with six children and a mother my age living in a roach infested house with all kids forced to sleep on the floor (by the way, I’m pretty young). I read about babies who are placed in Child Protective Services’ care just days after they’re born because their mom tested positive for cocaine, and more kids who have grown up in crack houses not incredibly far from my safe little neighborhood. Moms who shoplift, dads who beat, stepfathers who sexually abuse.

What’s worse? Now I’m forced to face that these aren’t just stories. Most of my reading these days is about as nonfiction as it gets. I’m starting to agree with those non-English majors on one thing, at least. Things should turn out okay at the end.

Tis the Season

I have a blog. Did you know this?

Because I seem to have forgotten.

But I think it’s almost safe to say that I’m getting a handle on things. I’m in somewhat of a routine now, so maybe I can make writing part of that routine.

So today, in an effort to get back into writing, I’d like to share some things I’m looking forward to this holiday season. Too soon? Too bad.

1. Sweaters, tights, and boots, oh my!

The holiday season brings all of my favorite clothing pieces ever. The more bundled up, the better.  While we’re at it, we should go ahead and add scarves, mittens, and let’s not forget flannel sheets and flannel pajamas. I’m a big fan of flannel. And space heaters, but I guess that probably should’ve gotten its own bullet.

2. Gus Norton
Come December, there will be a new addition to my family. Augustus James Norton’s welcome to this world is just around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited  to be an aunt!! I’m ready to hug and spoil, and I’m definitely not the only one. Baby Gus is going to be greeted with so much love. I’m so thankful for my step-brother, despite his incessant picking on me, and his sweet wife, Molly, and I’m thankful for the community they’ve established. I know that there will be a long line of people with me waiting to greet this little guy.

3. Toy Drive
Very soon (and by soon, I mean starting last week . . . or earlier) this will start to consume my life. Community Partners of Dallas, the nonprofit I work for (which you can read more about just one post below), is gearing up for our annual Toy Drive. It’s a very exciting, but VERY busy time and is going to get more so soon.

One of my primary jobs so far has been to collect, edit, and print all of the wishes that will be distributed to the Dallas community. Our drive is similar to the Salvation Army’s angel tree. This process has been stressful, but I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it has been getting to read through every single personal description of the almost 3,000 children whose wishes will be fulfilled. I don’t have many opportunities to interact with the kids our organization works for, so it has been such a blessing feeling a little bit closer to each of them this way.

Overall, I’m super excited. It’s going to be hectic and stressful at times, but I’m so thankful to work somewher that focuses on the most important  aspects of the holiday season.

4. The Muppets

Thanksgiving. Bring it.

Dream Job? Check.

Well gang, I got a job. This is their website: http://www.cpdtx.org/

On August 22, I will start working for Community Partners of Dallas, a nonprofit organization just east of downtown Dallas (only about 10 minutes from my apartment on the back roads). This organization works with CPS and its caseworkers for abused and neglected children in Dallas through several different programs. One of its main programs is called the Rainbow Room. Rainbow Rooms started with this organization and there are now over 100 throughout Texas. Basically, it’s set up like a children’s store with clothes, toys, hygiene products, the works. Caseworkers can come in at any time during the day and take what they need for the children and families they’re working for.

My official job title is “Program Director.” The main program I’ll be in charge of is the Rainbow Room. There are three in Dallas that I’ll be supervising and keeping track of. Community Partners of Dallas also has four large drives every year for the Rainbow Room (toy drives, back to school drives, etc) that I’ll be in charge of. In this position, I’ll get to interact with donors, caseworkers, volunteers, basically a whole gamut of people.

The organization itself is fairly small, which I’m super excited about. The work environment has been compared to a family type feeling, and I think it’ll be pretty laid back overall, which is nice. Kind of what I’m used to.

Basically, this is exactly what I was looking/hoping for in Dallas. It’ll be a lot of responsibility, but I’m ready to dive in and see if this is a good fit. I’m already planning on heading to Half  Price Books soon to pick up some books about CPS and foster care type things.

Psalm 121:7-8

“The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

The Blame Game

Woah buddy. I’m a horrible blogger. Hopefully now that I’m [getting] settled into Dallas life, I’ll actually stay on top of this little site instead of neglecting it for weeks and weeks. Hunker down. All this passed time has made me long-winded.

There are several things I’m choosing to blame my inactivity to.

1. Camp

Camp was so super busy, but so super wonderful. And now it’s gone. Forever. In the words of the great philosopher, Snooki, “waah.” Expect a post in the [hopefully near] future about my summer. I loved being Assistant Director of ACU Leadership Camps so much, I decided to forego any jobs directly related to my degree in hopes of finding a job that looks more like the one I had this summer. Which brings me to number two.

2. Job Search

Do you have a job? Are you currently enrolled in school? If you answered no to both of these questions, you feel my pain. I’ve bumped into a surprising number of people I know in my short time in Dallas (about 5), and I’m not going to lie. I don’t exactly enjoy explaining my employment situation right now. The speech I pretty much have down is, “Yeah, still unemployed. My degree is in English, but I’m looking for a job with a nonprofit organization doing pretty much anything they’ll let me do.” This speech is greeted by awkward smiles and nods while I assume what’s going through their heads is something like, “She moved to Dallas without a job? That’s crazy.” Yes. I agree. Two words: faith and hope.

3. Adjusting to Dallas Life

There is a Super Target about a yard from my apartment. There are two Starbucks, each about foot from my apartment. There’s a batrillion restaurants, varying from casual to nice, all about 10 steps from my neighborhood. There are several quality shopping centers mere inches away from my apartment. What have I gotten my bank account into? I think I’m going to like it here. So is my wardrobe and my tummy. I’ll really be able to like it once I get one of those . . . what are they called again? Oh, a paycheck. It’s been a while, I almost forgot.

4. Friends

No silly, not my pals. The television show. Ok, my pals are not 100% innocent either. My roommate, Shelby, and I have decided to rewatch the series together. We’re not obsessed. It’s strictly for research purposes. We’re keeping tab of different things on the show. Which of the three girls wears her hair in adult pigtails the most, how many times Ross delivers his dreary, “Hiiii,” how many times we hear Janice’s nasally “OH. MY. GAWD.” etc. Results to come.

I could play the blame game on this for days.

Brief Update

After a brief hiatus, I’m writing again.

This summer, I’m working as an Assistant Director of the middle school and high school summer camps at my alma mater. The last three summers, I was a counselor, and the five summers before that, a camper. I love these camps. They’ve changed my life. Several times.

But this is a busy job. One that doesn’t leave much time for writing on the sides.

Instead, I spend any free moments:

-checking my email
-watching movie trailers
-showering, because I smell really bad every single day
-sprawled out on the floor, because I’m too lazy/tired to do anything else
-wasting all my few and far between free moments on deciding what I should do with said moments

This is all well and good, but truth be told, there are many other things I should be doing.

I think certain parties are starting to feel neglected.

Parties like:

-my family
-my friends
-my plants (some of them aren’t lookin too good these days)
-Harvey, my Kindle
-my Netflix

I still have Oklahoma! because I keep forgetting to put it in the mail. And yes, because I still watch it from time to time. But it’s going back tomorrow because my Netflix gift is almost up and I need to take advantage of it as much as I can while I can.

Things I’m looking forward to:

-a few days off
-sleeping
-finding a job (hopeful thinking helps, right?)
-spending the 4th of July with my family
-sleeping
-reading
-eating non-cafeteria food
-fishing on my pond with my family

I could probably add lots more to each list, but for tonight, I’ll leave you with this little number:

“Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.”
Psalm 71:20-21

Tonight, I’m thankful for God’s comfort.

One State North

Oklahoma!

I love the fact that an exclamation point is a part of the title.

I also love Netflix so, so much for sending me this gem. I used to watch it all the time.

I don’t know why. I guess my mom wanted to instill in me a love for singing and dancing. It worked. I could never tell you anything about almost any sport, but by gummy, I appreciate the arts. I loved this movie in particular because the time in my life when I was most obsessed with it was when I was convinced my future was as a ballerina and this movie had a lot of ballet. Though I did always fast forward through that creepy dream sequence.

I always go back and forth on Jud. Just when I start to feel really sorry for him, he starts setting fire to haystacks and I remember why I was so, as Laurey would say, “skeered” of him in the first place.

I love(d) Will Parker. So, so much.

But those two girls always got on my nerves. Maybe because they never really spoke. All I knew is they weren’t to be trusted.

I am a little annoyed, however, that this film gives away a pretty big, universally understood secret among women. For the first time, it’s revealed that when women say they’re going to “freshen up,” they’re actually sneaking away to practice their ballet routines.

This movie makes me wish I was a Soprano 1. I hate that my Alto voice won’t allow me to sing along.

I also wouldn’t hate to have a gentleman caller with a voice like Curly’s.

Or a horse like his.

Or a face.

Or a surrey.

I’m done.

My brother is 7 1/2 years older than me. While that doesn’t seem like much of a difference now that we’re older, it was a pretty big gap when we were kids. He always hated when I would make him watch the same movie over and over and over again. Is this just something kids do? I mean, the minute the credits started to roll, I would beg him to rewind it to the beginning (will the kids in my future know what it means to rewind?) so I could watch it again right then and there. This still doesn’t sound so bad to me, but I guess I can see why a preteen boy wouldn’t want to watch movies like Annie and Beauty and the Beast repeatedly.

Oklahoma! was one of these movies. And I use the term “was” very loosely. I’ve watched it four times in the last four days.

 

 

First Sprouts

This (my marigolds):

became this:

which soon became this:

and is now something like this:

I am a proud plant mom.

Furthermore . . .

this:

is now this:

I fear I may be turning into the crazy plant lady. I just hope this eagerness to accumulate more doesn’t transfer later in life to other things, like cats . . . or babies. Yikes. I’ll stick with indoor plants for now. And clothes.

From right to left, we have my petunias (which are on the verge of sprouting), a future dahlia, given to me by a friend in the office next to mine. In the small pot is what will hopefully someday become rosemary (my first attempt at herbs), and lastly, the marigolds, which you are way more familiar with than you ever wished, hoped, or dreamt to be.

You’re welcome.

Party in the Back

I used to have a sort of obsession with mullets.

I’m not sure why, really. Maybe because where I grew up, there was a perfect amount of mullets. That tends to happen in small towns. What I mean is, there were enough that you were almost guaranteed to see a few a week (or at least a few a month), but few enough so that seeing one was a special treat.

Yes, I’m talking about the hairstyle.

No, I thankfully never had one.

My best friend from home, Tori, and I would spend way too much time searching for pictures of mullets like this one instead of doing our schoolwork.

The more we found, the more obsessed we became. I can only imagine how concerned our mothers must have been. (side note: even now, the mullet pictures I find on Google images make me smile)

There’s something about this coiffure that’s just so toothsome. I guess that all depends on personal preference. I really just wanted to use dictionary.com’s word of the day–toothsome.

Anyway, I don’t know how it started, but somewhere along the line, Tori and I decided that mullets were the greatest, most hilarious things that had ever been discovered. Please don’t judge me too much, but I will more than likely be the type of mom who gives her son a goofy haircut just long enough to take a picture. The mullet will, of course, be my choice of goofy haircuts for my son. But only for a minute, because I’m not so cruel as to inflict this hairstyle on my child for long. Not everyone has the same appreciation for this hairdo as Tori and me.

Our families weren’t the only ones who knew of our obsession. I’m fairly certain one (or both) of us made a collage of the mullet treasures we’d found on the internet to put in the front of school binders. We each purchased mullet wigs to wear in our school’s Haunted House. All our classmates and teachers knew. I wouldn’t be surprised if I went back to my 10 year reunion and overheard someone referring to us as Those Weird Mullet Girls.

I also wouldn’t be offended. I’d be proud at such a title, which is probably even more embarrassing.

Why am I telling you about my former (I promise) mullet obsession? Because one year for my birthday, I received a t-shirt that a friend had found in the boy’s department of Target that reads “Sweet Lincoln’s Mullet.” And yes, next to these words is a picture of our 16th president, only a mullet has been added.

I don’t get the shirt. I never will.

But it’s one of the most comfortable articles of clothing I own. Sometimes I wear it to sleep, sometimes I wear it to write blog posts, but usually I wear it in public because it’s comfortable and I think it’s funny. And that’s the reason for this blog post.

p.s. Notice I failed to mention my exact age at the time of said borderline obsession.

p.p.s. I mean no offense to anyone who sports or knows someone who sports a mullet. I have nothing but admiration for these people.

Growing

This is my brother and sister-in-law’s garden.

It’s incredible.

Truly.

I was so inspired by their handiwork, I decided to follow in their footsteps. Well, sort of.

I’ve been wanting to grow something for a long time, but I knew it would be doomed. If I left a plant outside, I would never water it. If I tried something indoors, it would get zero sunlight because of the shady blinds and windows at my last home. But this summer? I’ve got a window. With a sill. And working blinds. That’s not covered in dirt and cracks, so you can actually see through them.

So I decided to give it a shot.

These are my starting supplies.

Plus a Diet Coke, of course.

You see that cute pot on the right? I bought that over a year ago at Garden Ridge. It’s been holding my belts for the past year. No, seriously.

I carried that potting soil out of Lowe’s like a baby. Passersby were either confused, or more likely, impressed by how I’ve perfected the art of perching something on my hip. This will probably serve me well someday.

Look at those cuties!

I need to come up with names soon.

And then, I got a little over excited with the watering.

Whoops.

I landed on Marigolds and Petunias, because I liked their colors the best. I had originally planned on planting some herbs, but then I remembered I don’t have a kitchen, nor will I be doing much cooking this summer as I’ll be eating in my school’s cafeteria for camp. So I’m saving the cilantro, basil, rosemary, etc for a later day.

Plus, I feel like I need to see how badly these poor guys do before I take on more than I can handle.

Today’s Lesson Learned: Seeds aren’t always quite as thirsty as I am.

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.