Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The True Value of Fifty Dollars

Do you remember in my entry "The Story of Us" (worth the read, if you've not already) how I wrote about moments that live forever in a person's soul? The kind of moments that change who we are and the way we live. I was reminded of one of those moments recently, in the most unexpected place - a nightstand.

In May a teacher at my old elementary asked me to come speak to the 6th graders about the importance of writing. 
Convince a sixth grade class that writing is important and in the heck was I going to do that?

I decided that in order to connect with my audience of kids, I needed to understand where they are in their lives. 
What is important? 
What is not?  (Writing, duh.)
What worries them? 
What excites them the most? 

I decided it was time to find an old journal. I headed to Momma and Dad's, in the south door, through the family room, up the stairs, around the landing, in to Laura and I's old room. I walked past one twin bed (worth the read, if you've not already) and dropped down to my knees, opening the bottom drawer of our nightstand. I dug through the old school folders, disposable cameras, loose negatives and cassette tape cases until I found one of my old journals, labeled, "Secrets". 

Padlock and all. 
How great could the secrets have been at that age that I needed a padlock? 
I'll never know. 
I can't find the key. 
Neither can Momma - Trust me, she has tried to find that key for years

Very lucky for me, loose pages fell out when I pulled the book out of the deep drawer. 
Thanks, Momma. 
I found some real gems. 

These are initial designs for my clubhouse. I don't know who I was going to invite to the clubhouse as regular members. We lived 15 miles from town.  I actually did paint this in the top floor of our old bull shed. It didn't turn out nearly as cool as it looked on paper. 

And then, I found this. 

An open envelope without a name on it. It had clearly been wet at one time; the paper was rippled. I opened it, and it didn't take me long to remember what was inside that I had tucked away, but held on to, for years. 

Inside that old white envelope was a note from my Momma (I never did understand why she didn't sign Dad's name, as she always does on birthday cards) on the occasion of my 13th birthday. 

I was crushed the evening I opened that envelop. Absolutely, secretly, smiling-through-the-"Thank you so much!", devastated. At that point in my life, I was certain I was going to a big star in Nashville in just a matter of time. I had performed in the school-wide variety show every year, in Share-the-Fun for 4-H and was even the entertainment for our county fair 4-H queen contest while the judges tallied their votes. I knew I'd be the next Reba McEntire...if I only had a guitar. 

Instead, I got fifty bucks and some "stupid" verse that meant nothing to me at 13. In fact, I'm not even sure I read that motivational card until I found my journal 15 years later. 

On my 13th birthday I was disappointed and mad. 
Mad that Momma and Dad obviously didn't have enough faith in my singing to ship me to Nashville (looking back, could I blame them?) with a brand new guitar.
A brand new guitar I was sure I would find the time to play between club volleyball, showing cattle, making baskets, babysitting and cheerleading practice.
Mad that they wouldn't fork out a couple hundred bucks for a brand new guitar.  
Didn't they know that I would have paid them back double when I scored my first number one?!

That night after dinner I retired to my room and put the make-shift birthday card - and all of its contents - back into the envelope, tucking it into the pages of my journal. In that moment I decided to be spiteful and never spend that money Momma and Dad gave me. I could tell Momma made a special trip into town to the bank to withdrawal the fifty dollar bill; it was clean and crisp and new. It was perfect.

To prove a point, I would wait to put their hard-earned money to use on something special when I actually became something - since apparently they never believed that day would ever come. 

Goodness, was I wrong. 

It was one of those moments where I was just disappointed enough to become extremely motivated to prove people wrong. Have you ever experienced that? Today I believe that my 13th birthday shaped me in the same way Dad's cattle experience shaped him, only thirty years later. That night, while scrubbing my face with Noxema, I was completely motivated to be somebody worth.......knowing. 

I can say with confidence that was the only time in my life that I was motivated by money.
My direction was changed by fifty dollars. 

Fifteen years later...

Life goes on. 

I never made it to Nashville. Except to listen to live music and buy boots. 
The only people who ask for my signature are the ladies who handle the insurance paperwork at my doctor's office. I'm fine with that. 
The closest I came to being popular on the airwaves was when I guest DJed at our local country station earlier this year. I mispronounced a simple word and I will likely never live it down. Ever.
One of my life goals is to one day become the kind of parent both of mine were - supportive, demanding, encouraging and practical

I never did learn how to play that damned glorified guitar, but you know what?
By scribbling passionately and intensely in that old beat up journal, 
I realized I had something...
...I could write

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pups, Ponies and Popsicles

In June I had the opportunity to reunite with a former co-worker from one of my previous adventures. Last time I saw Stacy she was newly married and happily adjusting to a husband and about to begin a new career. Talk about transition for a gal.

When I saw Stacy in June, she and Jesse welcomed me and my camera to their farm where they're raising two healthy boys, two rambunctious dogs, several beautiful horses and a few bendy cats you may have seen in a Jean's Boots blog post a couple weeks ago. Stacy's life has changed 360 degrees since we worked together and I truly enjoyed catching up with her new lifestyle in rural Ohio. I spent the evening with she and the guys - all of them. 

Here are just a few of the several photos from that beautiful summer evening. 

I look forward to meeting Trevor again when he isn't so...asleep?

 One of my favorite photos - anyone, anytime, anywhere. 
There is so much shown in one moment.

Colby The Cat Cowboy

Baby Trevor

When I began writing someone told me, 
"It is amazing what people will tell you if you 
only give them the opportunity." 

No use crying over spilled grain. 

There is something about the outside of a horse that is 
good for the inside of a man. - Winston Churchill 

And for my next trick....

These days, baby brother Trevor isn't the biggest threat to Colby....

The pups are!

These are the days. 

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Facebook Follies

I remember the first time I heard about Facebook. 

A sorority sister was going on a date with some guy she "met on Facebook". 
I was confused. 
I asked questions. 
I got his cell phone number - and hers. 
Had the campus police on speed dial in case she didn't show back up to the house. 
What was this online directory that had replaced the Greek Stalker (fraternity/sorority directory for landline phones, complete with room listings)?? might I get one?

Just like that I was in business. 
I began Facebook on November 16, 2004 - nearly 8 years ago - according to my "Timeline". 

In those 8 years, from afar I've seen "friends" 
get married, 
get divorced, 
move away, 
move back home, 
find new jobs, 
buy used cars, 
enjoy fireworks and bars, 
visit cities and ranches, 
lose weight, 
gain confidence, 
remodel houses, 
grill out, 
work out, 
make out, 
have kids, 
have surgery, 
have garage sales, 
bash ex-wives and husbands, 
celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, potty training and rain. 

I'm exhausted. 

I know more about the general public than I ever thought I would when I signed up for this deal on November 16, 2004. Still, I keep on. 

There are a few observations I have made in the last 8 years. 
Some that you'll agree with, some that you may not. 
All that I'm going to share with you now. 

Dont expect me to share your "I love Jesus" message on facebook. I love Jesus. Jesus hasn't logged on to Facebook...Ever. God doesn't even have an account. Telling me to "repost if you believe" only appeals to folks who still send chain letters. With a stamp. The same people who are still waiting on something great to happen to them at 12:01 AM every day. Wake me up if it happens. I'll be asleep. 

Your pet is cute. Really. But when people post a picture of it curled up in thier bed, rolling on their pillow, with its leg around their boyfriend, it makes me want to take a shower and wash my own sheets. There is just a lot of hair. 

People look very silly when they constantly take pictures of them self in the mirror, on the bed and in the car. Do they need instant gratification? If so, they should check out the local t-ball league in the area. You get a nice trophy just for wearing the shirt. 

A good rule of thumb before posting anything on Facebook: Would I want The Original Jean to see this post if  she had an account? If not, do not hit "post". I would enjoy the Book a lot more if others considered Grandma. 

I don't care if you party till 4:00AM with DJ Queazy and Mr Cleanzy. When I get up and get ready for my long work day, those blurry pictures of you with Queazy and Cleanzy, drinking $8.00 Zimas at a club downtown are the last things I want to see.

You're BORED?! What does that even mean?! Make a difference. Volunteer. Go for a walk. Write a letter

It is fine if someone wants to post premiscuous photos of them self on the internet. Their decision. But don't act confused or offended when the strange friend requests start rolling in or you're only pursued by less-than-desirable suitors. 

Thanks for taking a photo of the thermostat on the dashboard that reads, "103". I know it's hot outside. My outfit on this blazing hot day, consisting of cowboy boots and a sundress, is brought to you by Spanx. 

Vague statuses like "Just when I thought things couldn't get worse........" don't amuse me. Or 95% of the public. They amuse the people who have nothing better to do than speculate on what drama is going on in other peoples' life. Spare us. 

I get a knot in my stomach when I see photos of little girls with their hands on their hips and big-girl clothes on, or sons wearing flat bill hats flashing signs, then see parents complain because their kids are "growing up too fast :(". That is a learned behavior. The parent bought the clothes. Let kids be little. 

Type in complete sentences. Remember punctuation. Use words, not letters. This is English, not bingo. 

Lastly, if your pet tries to add me as a facebook friend, I'm declining its request and unfriending you. Immediately.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go step away from the computer and do something productive with my time. Like wait for rain. 

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Colby: The Cat Cowboy

Though 27 and not married, I've never had the fear that I'd live alone forever with 15 cats and be pegged by the neighborhood kids as the "Crazy Cat Lady". 

Anyone who knows me well knows that cats and I don't mix. 
We don't play. 
We don't cuddle. 
We don't find value in one another. 
Fancy Feast commercials make me gag and not kicking a cat when it touches my leg is one of the greatest feats of patience I've ever had to acquire. 

There is only one picture of cats allowed in my house.
And it gives me the creeps every time I see it. 
It is a Christmas card photo from my dear friend Megan, who treats her two white mice catchers (probably not - she lives in Chicago) like her children. 
I considered not hanging the photo on my shutter board when I received it last December, but it serves as a constant reminder of Megan and I's differences and helps me appreciate those differences. 

So, in my dining room are Rita & Carlos. 

But surprisingly, one of my favorite commercials of all-time involves cats. 
Take a look:

There are times this defines my life. 

And going even further, one of my favorite photography sessions involved random cat  interaction. Let it be known, no matter how much Colby wanted me to pet the kitty, I kept a Nikon lens between me and his furry friend. 

I had to laugh during this brief interaction. 
Colby was so very excited and determined.
The kitten was one part suicidal, one part patient and three parts bendy. 

 Stop right there, kid. The photographer does not need to pet the kitty.

I'm sure the cat loved this. 

Thorough examination. 

Neck bends well. 

Cat on the loose!

 Trying to be very....sneaky.......


Colby The Cat Wrangler

Cats are very hard to control and only do things on their terms. 
One of the reasons why I don't appreciate them. 

Real-Life Cat Herding.

Real cowboys are only truly happy 
when they can wrangle what 
they want with one hand. 

Right, Colby?

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