Am I seriously starting this ten minutes before midnight?

Watch and enjoy the spectacle of the daily journal entry as it crashes into oblivion. Yes, it is 11:40 p.m. and I am finally dragging myself into today’s entry. School (or homeschool) started today. The home part is a joke because Bennett had a science class at 10:30 a.m. and Lenora had geography at 11:30 a.m. Then Lenora had dance at 5:30 p.m. Tomorrow we have stuff from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., and then theatre that night. I miss summer already.

Write about a difficult decision you had to make.

Well, there was this one time that I was really tired, but I made this insane commitment to write in my journal every day, but I wanted to go to bed…but I decided to write in the journal after all. Ha ha.

Not good enough?

Okay. How about we go with what I was talking about at the start? I am a homeschooling parent. That was a difficult decision.

I started worrying about school when Lenora was about three. Tuttle was getting full-swing into Pre-K at the time, and I realized that Lenora would be in that program. Instead of thinking how great that would be, I was upset at having her leave home at such a young age. She has always been a little immature for her age (got that from me, I’m afraid) and I thought 4 was too young. On the flip size, I didn’t want to start her at 5 and have her be some kind of Amazon girl when she got to junior high, towering over the boys in the class and being a social pariah. (Yes, I over-worry everything.)

But 4 was a long way off, I assured myself. And so I put it out of my mind.

But she did turn 4. And then the summer came, and with it, Pre-K pre-enrollment.

I went to the school with Lenora. I talked to the teachers, went to the room at the end of the special services building, and filled out her pre-enrollment form. I talked to a school representative. I asked about immunizations, since I didn’t have her card with me at the time. (Lenora was fully immunized, but knowing that immunizations are voluntary in this state, I asked if we actually had to have the card because of that, and the woman lied – or didn’t know herself, which is scarier – and said that Lenora couldn’t enter school without them….a later visit to the superintendent revealed that I was the correct party.) Anyhoo…

Another mother there asked a teacher who was there if there was a full-day Pre-K program, and was disappointed that there wasn’t. I felt like I could have a panic attack at any moment at the idea of my 4 year old spending thirty minutes at school every day, much less a full day.

I handed in the pre-enrollment form and went home. I felt lousy. I felt like I was doing something I didn’t want to do.

For me, having my kid in school was almost a peer pressure thing. I needed to have her in school because that was the normal thing to do. Nobody I knew was homeschooling. My mom and sister were public school teachers, for crying out loud! Academics…socialization…sports… thoughts clanged through my head as I cried in the car on the way home.

I felt better when I realized that filling out the form didn’t mean she was going to school right away. I had the summer to think it over. So I did.

When August rolled around, I called the school and said we wouldn’t be doing Pre-K after all. I alluded to friends and family that we were waiting for kindergarten. But in my heart I knew we’d never go.

The next year I made like I was waiting until she was six to start kindergarten. I think we really weren’t fooling anybody though.

Anyway. That was a hard decision, and one that took several years in total. Most decisions that have to do with your children are hard though, because you don’t want to make a mistake. I could have written about any number of things that have to do with Lenora and Bennett and Belinda…homeschooling was already at the top of the page though.

I am so happy with my decision. It’s hard sometimes…but I know that it is the right choice for us. I’m glad I went with my heart. 🙂

(I also think that this was a lame journal entry but I’m pretty tired…and I’ve been working on 4-H stuff for the homeschool meeting tomorrow morning…I’m the leader…so it’s going to have to do.)

A hard one to pin down

Write about a time you performed in front of an audience.

This is a hard one to pin down. I suppose that a lot of people really could pick between the few times they had been on stage. That’s not really fair for me. I mean, I could proably pick one time, but that kind of is insulting to the other experiences, isn’t it?

My mom clipped this from the local newspaper. I was 7.

My mom clipped this from the local newspaper. I was 7.

My first on-stage performance would have been when I was three, in ballet class. From there I sang with Marissa at church. My first time to really get up and entertain by myself was in Mark York’s “Broadway Ladies” in Chickasha. I sang “Too Many Rings Around Rosie” from “No, No Nannette.” I was 7. I remember that some big college boys were in the number with me and carried me off while I sang the last note lying on my side. That was very cool.

My latest performance was as a Who Mom in “Seussical” at the Stage Door Theatre in Yukon. It was about three years ago. Lenora was cast in it, as Cindy Lou Who, so it was nice having something to do while she was there rehearsing. I had a really good time with “Seussical,” and did my best to do a good performance. When the director gave me a note at the end that said that she had always been able to count on me to be doing the correct things on stage, I about died with happiness.

In between there, I’ve had quite a few performances in different places. I’m not afraid to do much of anything on stage, as long as I’m giving a performance. I have played a dog and tap danced on top of a doghouse. I have dressed as a grandma with a giant stuffed bra, SAS nurse shoes, one knee high at calf level and one around my ankle, and my slip showing below my dress. I have worn a cup costume that looked like a flour sack in a technicolor fantasy and brought on the persona of a 6-year-old boy. I have acted like a drunk and passed out on a couch. I have pinned playing cards in my hair and acted insane. I have been a nun in pointe shoes – and on roller skates. I have been a child; I have been a mother; I have been the star; I have been a nobody.

In all of this, I was not afraid. Of course, there are butterflies before any show, but I was never truly afraid. I have a lot of confidence in my ability in an actor, whether it’s truly deserved or not.

What I can’t do is get up on stage and be myself.

Just thinking about it right now put a knot in my stomach. And the times I’ve had to do it, instead of giving me pleasurable reminders like the acting, make me feel a little ill.

There’s the speeches I had to give in high school and college. Every one was a horror for me. The times I’ve had to pray in front of a group in church – even when it’s just in front of the children’s church. “Saying a few words” about the classes I teach for the homeschool group. Getting up in front of that class, even. How I hate to be myself in front of an audience! Being an actor is easy. Being me is impossible. I will do anything to get out of it.

Why is this? I don’t know entirely. I think that it must have a lot to do with confidence issues. Maybe performing is okay because I’m not being me – I’m being someone else.

Other actors I’ve talked to don’t have this problem…which makes me feel like I must be pretty odd indeed. Anyone else?

Sixteen Shopping

What was it like to go shopping with your grandma? mom? dad? friends?

Let’s take these one at a time.

Many of my childhood afternoons were spent at Loveless Shoes in Oklahoma City, whiling away the hours as Grandma tried on her special diabetic shoes.

Many of my childhood afternoons were spent at Loveless Shoes in Oklahoma City, whiling away the hours as Grandma tried on her special diabetic shoes.

Grandma – I only remember shopping my dad’s mom once, and it’s pretty blurry. I shopped with my mom’s mother more. She didn’t go pleasure shopping or anything, though. I went with her and Mom a a couple of times when they bought Grandma’s “special shoes” from Loveless Shoes in Oklahoma City. I also went with her to the grocery store too. I remember the times she had me do her grocery shopping for her better. That was embarrassing because Grandma always wanted to get about 10 Milky Way bars and I had a hard time buying these because I imagined the checker thought they were for me. Looking back, I know they didn’t. They knew Grandma too – it was a small town. And why did it bother me so much?

I wish I had some of Grandma’s old lists. I liked her shaky handwriting. Grandma wrote everything in pencil. She sharpened her pencils with a knife she kept on her kitchen table. Then she would make her lists on a stenographer’s pad and give them to me. She would always be really clear on something, like “Northern Bathroom Tissue 4-roll package no colors” or “Dinty Moore Beef Stew Extra Lean 16 oz. can” when she could have just put “toilet paper” and “canned stew” because she always got the exact same things and I was the one doing the shopping. I could have recited the thing.

Mom – Shopping with Mom was boring. I had two major problems with her shopping methods – her need to spend endless hours looking through patterns at Wal-Mart or TG&Y, and her inability to quickly greet a friend if she ran into them at the grocery store. I would stand next to her, invariably by the rows of Campbell’s Soup (always that row in my memories), drag my leg along the ground, and wonder what was taking so very, very long and what could be so interesting as to require this much of a conversation. It would finally end when someone else came along and needed down the aisle, so one of them would move along. Thank you, random shopper.

When we got a little older, Mom would let us get away and go look at the toy aisle. I would generally find a My Little Pony I desperately needed, take it to her, ask, and get shot down. So I’d take it back. When she was ready to leave, she’d have the cashier call for us over the intercom. Different times.

I liked shopping with her at the mall, because sometimes we would go to McDonald’s. That was a real treat. I also liked hiding in the clothes racks at Sears. She did not care for that, understandably.

Dad – I did not shop with my dad. Ever.

One time when I was in high school, I ran into him at the old Wal-Mart at Newcastle. I was shocked to see him there, and somehow embarrassed as well. He looked like he felt the same way. We greeted each other, quickly, and went our separate ways. I saw him a minute or so later, and made a point of going in an opposite direction. What was that about? Why were we both so weird about seeing each other at the store? I have no idea.

Friends – I didn’t shop with friends often. I do remember shopping at Crossroads Mall with Tina and Tonya once. We were looking for prom dresses. They wanted to go to 5-7-9. I did not, because I wore a 10. I gave in and we had a good time – I actually found a size 9 dress that fit me, and that was as nice as anything – being able to fit in a dress at the tiny clothes store.

Nowadays I don’t shop with friends much either. It is generally a get in a get out thing. Sometimes I get to. I like shopping with Jenny, but it doesn’t happen much. I shop with Mom quite a bit. Most times we go our separate ways in the store and then find each other again, so it’s not really like shopping together.


Did you ever prove yourself to someone older?

Yes. It took me several hours of having this screen open, with the topic before me, to think of the right time…and I just thought of it.

This takes us back to 1992, when I was just a little freshman at Northwestern. My favorite class was my radio class. I loved the radio station. Just thinking about it makes me feel happy. When I go back to the college now, the radio station is in the Jesse Dunn Annex, but back in the day, we and the TV station were the only souls in Vinson Hall. It was delightful then. Just our own little gang of oddballs, hanging out in an empty former dormitory, playing music or recording TV pieces.

I liked my first radio class, taught by Bob M., a lot. He always seemed like a really nice guy, and a friend, to me. Everything he told me was amazing, and the gospel truth. I pity today’s radio students who don’t know how to back up records one-quarter turn or to turn cassette tapes back with a pencil before playing them.

The college students who made up the staff were great too. Nicole, Paula, Stuart…these were seriously cool people. I loved it when I could hang out with them and they included me, even though I hadn’t known them before. I remember helping to write a commercial for Sunset Road and we recorded it. I was the only freshman there at the time, and it was pretty neat for a starry-eyed kid like yours truly.

I wished I could work there, and there was actually a job open. I hadn’t been able to find any E&G work, which was part of my financial aid package. All the jobs across campus were filled. But Mr. M. had five hours of work study for a music secretary. That meant the person who typed all the new music titles in the computer, then printed out the giant spreadsheets (on big green and white paper with holes on the sides) for the DJs to use. Mr. M. didn’t want to hire a freshman; he wanted someone with experience at the station. I begged…I wheedled…I whined to be hired, but oddly enough, he didn’t hire me.

All this time, new music is coming in, and no one is typing it in. If you wanted to find a certain song, you had to look in the books, hoping and praying it was there, and when it wasn’t, you had to look at all of the backs of the CDs to find the right one. And these weren’t regular CDs…these were collections with all kinds of different artists on them. It took a while to scan all of them trying to find the right one, and the natives were getting restless.

Finally, I decided to do something. The radio station was closed on the weekends, and with Stuart’s permission, I took the papers out of all of the CD jewel cases. I took them home, put paper in my electric typewriter (it was lavender colored paper, of all things) and got ready to type. Before I started, I went through all of the CDs (and there were like 20 of them, with probably 25-30 songs per CD) and alphabetized each song by artist on a piece of paper. Then I typed them all, in alphabetical order, using the typewriter.

On Monday, I got to the radio station first thing. The morning show was going…I think they called themselves the breakfast flakes(?)…were on the air. I handed over the purple log and put all the papers back in the CD cases. Everyone was happy to get it!

I went to class, which was just down the hall in VH100. That afternoon I was back at the radio station for another class, and Mr. M. caught up with me.

“Regina,” said he, holding the purple pages, “Did you do this?”

I told him I did. He asked how, and I told him what I’d done.

Mr. M. was impressed. Very impressed. He told me that the music secretary’s job was hard – very hard – and I would have to go to Shockley Hall, where the big computer mainframe thing was, and get the passwords from Bob and figure out the program all by myself…but if I was willing to do it, the job was mine.

I did it. I had proven myself to Mr. Robert L. “Rockin'” M. (our term, not his) and I had landed the position that I had been striving for all that time.

I was so excited that I just about danced all the way to Shockley Hall.

It was hard. And it was scary going in and talking to Bob, and asking for help, and getting it done. But I did it. I liked it so much, I kept doing it. The next year, my title was Music Director. Nothing really changed about it, but it did sound better. I did other stuff at the station in later years, like Program Director and co-Station Manager, but I always kept that music job. Even now, I still kind of miss doing it.

Before I graduated from college, the big fat continuous folded green and white paper spreadsheet metamorphosed into two books with white spiral binding on the sides and red laminated covers with Northwestern emblems on them. I went to the print shop and would get the edges (where you’d normally have to tear the paper on the dotted line) cut off, and the dotted edges too. Then I’d manually turn every page so they would all be facing the same way. I’d punch new holes and attach a spiral binder. I’d re-use the laminated covers until they got ratty, and then I’d do new ones.

I typed the titles and artists of CDs, cassettes, 45 and 33 1/3 records and carts. I still remember the names and artists of so many songs – some that I don’t know the tune to. Sometimes I dreaded getting it done – especially at the beginning of the year when the passwords had to be reset and a summer of music accumulation had taken place, but I still loved typing in the cluttered little room in Shockley Hall, watching the giant blade of the paper cutter chop the edges off, smelling the ink as I turned the pages to face in one direction, holding the finished product in my hands, and handing it over each month to the hands of the DJ on shift at the time.

When I went back for homecoming a couple years ago, I saw the green and white pages of the log sitting on a lower shelf by the radio board. It wasn’t one of mine, so obviously they found someone to replace me, as unbelievable as that is, ha ha. It had gone back to its original form as one long sheet of folded up paper with holes on the sides. It was ratty; I don’t think they updated it anymore, since everything is all coolio and on the computer now – a computer right there in the control room, can you believe that business? But they still had it for when someone wanted to play a moldy oldie, I guess. It made me feel happy, and nostalgic, to see it there. It reminded me of the good times, and the days spent at the radio station and all the great memories I’d made there. Seeing those pages brought all back.

And…I also felt secretly ecstatic that it didn’t look as good as it did back in my day.


Fourteen bore-teen (getting witty, aren’t we)

Did you ever send away for something that turned out to be a disappointment?

Well, no sea monkeys in my past, although I often wanted to buy them as a child. I knew they wouldn’t look like they do in the picture, but I imagined they would at least be something decent.

Except for the fact that my watches were bathed generously and repeatedly with richly chlorinated water, mine were just like this.

Except for the fact that my watches were bathed generously and repeatedly with richly chlorinated water, mine were just like this.

In fact, I didn’t really order much of anything as a kid. We did send in some box tops from Pac Man cereal once to get a Pac Man watch (which was to replace the expensive Pac Man watch Mom bought for me, and I jumped in the pool while wearing…multiple times…) The watch was as cool as the original, and you could play Pac Man on it. But I eventually jumped in the pool with it on…again…and either we were able to dry it out and it happened again, or we weren’t and it didn’t. I was not good to my Pac Man watches.

My parents always warned me about the things you could send away for. X-ray glasses were not what they appeared to be. Magic tricks would be a disappointment. I knew they were right…but even these warnings did not prevent me from buying a painting system.

I was a big grown up girl at the time – 22 years old, married, childless, and living in a mobile home behind my Mom’s house.

We paid for electric, and we did a little yardwork – mowed the lawn some – that kind of thing. We did not pay rent of any kind. This was an opportune time to save money for the future. Instead, we saved nothing and bought a giant television, a stereo system, and of course, the painting system.

I was fixin’ the trailer up real nice, see, and I was planning to do me some paintin’.

That’s when I saw it on TV. I can’t remember the exact name, but my heart says it was the Paintright system. However, when I googled that, nothing came up that looked correct, so my heart could be wrong. I could be right though, since it was 1997 and the Internet was not what it is today. Stories extolling the virtues of the Paintright system could be lost forever to the AOL groups and chat rooms.

Okay. What was the Paintright system? It was a paint-filled roller. You opened your paint, snapped the special lid on the paint can, put the little fill area onto the slot on the paint can, and drew paint into the handle of the paint roller. It was supposed to be a snap. It was supposed to be clean.

It wasn’t that bad, really, but paint did squirt out of the little slot while I was drawing it into the roller. I painted the room pretty fast. The edges weren’t any fun; the Paintright system also came with a little brush that held paint as well, and it didn’t work very well at all. You could see the brush lines, and it was supposed to paint all the way to the edges without using tape and without getting paint on your borders/woodwork. This was a promise the little brush could not fulfill, and a lot of paint was smeared onto woodwork that day.

It cost like $70 and my mind is shouting that it was possibly more than that but I hope not.

See, the biggest problem with the Paintright system is that I am quite lazy. When I was done painting, and I took a gander at that Paintright roller and brush, impossibly filled with paint, I suddenly became very, very tired. I used the little nozzle and the little slot to squirt the leftover paint back in the can, and I cleaned out the Paintright system…sort of. It was really a halfhearted effort, but in my defense, that was brought on by my newfound knowledge that I sort of hated the Paintright system. Why clean it too well if I never planned on using it again?

But I did clean it, because I felt that I would probably use it again. It did cost $70, after all (or something like that). It was a useful tool. I would surely need to paint again sometime.

I stuck it back in the box and put it in my closet.

When we moved to our current house, in 1999, the Paintright system (or at least the parts that I found) went with us.

Two years ago, when I was trying to clean the monstrous clutter before the new baby arrived, I came upon the Paintright system.

I sat, with my hand on the thing, for several minutes. Trash or keep? Trash or keep? Trash or keep?

I compromised and sent it to the secondhand store, where they could decide if it was trash or not. Maybe someone else would understand the poor thing better than I ever could.

When I painted my kitchen last year, I thought about the Paintright system. Then I went and bought a cheap-o roller and a package of cheap foam brushes. When I was done painting, I tossed them in the trash. Apparently that is my way of painting. Maybe someday, when I am more of a grownup, I will acquire nicer brushes and rollers, and actually clean them out after I paint, and use them again and again. And maybe I won’t.

Now there is a commercial for a paint thing that is this little amazing edger deal. I want it. I hated taping the kitchen and the living room when I painted them, and in the kitchen, yellow paint squirted under the tape and got on the green trim anyway.

I just tried to google the little edger, but I can’t find it. That’s probably a good thing. If I stay away from the TV when the kids are watching it, I may avoid it entirely. And why is the channel they like best, Qubo, seem to be completely funded by infomercials?

But that is a topic better left for another day.

The point is the edger. I want it. I know that if I buy it, things will be so much better for me. Painting will be a breeze, and I will finally get my dining room and TV room painted. It will be incredible!

And then my mind drifts back to the Paintright system. I can still see it, jumbled in disarray, stuffed back in the box it came in, and missing pieces because the box didn’t close properly because I couldn’t get it back in there right.

I remind myself that no matter how convincing, cleanup of the little edger deal is bound to not be the snap it is advertised as being. So I wait…and I wonder…and I want…but I won’t.

Maybe someone will come out with a disposable edger deal soon.

Lucky Thirteen

It’s almost 10 p.m. and I didn’t find time for journaling today. I went with Mom and Marissa to Guthrie…I hoped it would work out nicely for, but since all I toured was a Love’s restroom and a McDonald’s, I’m not sure it’s going to happen. The McDonald’s was nice though…maybe I could work something up…

Anyway, I committed to this thing and I’m going to do my best, even though this one is big enough that it should probably get more thought time than I can afford it. Ommmmm…come to be, big inspiration….

Describe an event that made you realize you were growing up.

I just don’t know on this one. Sound like a broken record, don’t I? I know there’s been moments where I have thought about how I have matured, but I can’t think of an event that really stands out in my mind.

You know that Bible verse…when I was a child, I thought like a child?

Well, I don’t remember really thinking like a child. I remember thinking about things and feeling things pretty much the same way I do now. Surely this isn’t true. I mean, I don’t play with toys anymore, and I don’t watch cartoons…except for good ones, anyway. So I have grown up in some regards. Matter of fact, sometimes I wonder why I don’t ever get down and play with the kids. I used to play with Krislyn and Kevin and Gary sometimes. I’d play on the playground or play Little People or Little Ponies with them. It was easy and natural. To play with my own children feels forced. I only do it when I feel like being really, really nice. I played with them in my early 20s. But by the time Lenora arrived, I didn’t feel like playing anymore. What changed?

I’m not perfect, but in many ways, I have grown up. I mean, I’m not a super grownup or anything. My mom’s a super grownup. She drinks coffee and doesn’t understand how I can enjoy seeing the newest Disney cartoon. I still have to pick the tomatoes out of my salad. How grownup is that? I have never drank alcohol. I have never smoked. I have had three children, so it’s obvious I’ve taken part in some adult activities, but will I ever be able to go in a store like Christie’s Toy Box without feeling like somebody’s going to rat me out for going in there, when I’m just a kid? Not to give you the impression that I am spending a lot of time in Christie’s Toy Box!

On the other hand, I am grown up enough to clean, cook, work, and do things that I don’t want to do. I am grown up enough to put other peoples’ needs (particularly little people) in front of my own. But I’ve always been sort of a giver-type person. It’s hard to define growing up when some of the behaviors and things I have always done.

I get very cross with Ben when he does things I do not consider grownup. Most of these things revolve around his involvement in the creation of some sort of mess in the house, and my thinking that being a grownup means not leaving your mess for somebody else to clean up. I am free to write this, because Ben has not read a single one of my journal entries, and I don’t expect him to start now, so ha!

Well, that about wraps things up for now. This is possibly the worst of the journal entries. Number thirteen, indeed!

Hey! It’s Friday again!

It’s Friday again, and I’ve made it another week on this! I really am starting to not want to do this at all. That probably means that I need to keep doing it, even when I don’t want to!

Write about the stray animals you brought home.

A not so great picture of Oliver, with our rat terrier puppy, Corky. It was the best picture I had on hand, anyway.

A not so great picture of Oliver, with our rat terrier puppy, Corky. Kind of fun that WordPress makes it look like an old Polaroid, since it actually was scanned from a Polaroid one-step print.

Well, there weren’t that many memorable ones. The one that I remember best is Oliver, my little black and white cat.

It was 1990, and Mom and I were going out for a little bicycle ride. We liked to ride around the section – a four mile bike trip in all – on our old-school bikes. Hers was one she had since she was a kid; mine was a restored bike from the 1960s.

We were over by the Cox place when we heard a little mew.

It was a kitten…a scrawny, poor looking black kitten with white accents. Poor little thing. We tried to catch it, but it ran from us.

But it was only a kitten, and a kitten hiding in Johnson grass is no match for two big people who can move quickly. We caught the kitten and carefully took it home. Once in our yard, I sat it down with food and water and it scurried away to hide in the lilac bush.

The lilac bush was a better protector than the tall grass on the roadside, and I couldn’t catch the kitten anymore. I sat around for a while, but finally started to go back around to the front of the house.

But oh how that kitten cried when I walked out of sight!

I came back around the corner and he ran under the lilac bush again. I turned and walked away, and he cried and started to follow me. I started to come back and he raced again for the lilac.

This went on for a while. I finally got him out with some food placed near the lilac bush, where he had to come out a little to get a mouthful. After he felt more comfortable eating like that, and thought he had nothing to fear, I grabbed him. Just like that.

We named him Oliver, after the orphan in the Dickens’ novel, and moved him into a box in the laundry room until he felt more comfortable around us. Our other cats, Frosty and Jezzie, hated him violently, but Oliver never hissed back or got angry. He was very nice. He was also a little addled, I think.

I had never thought about it before, but if people can be mentally handicapped, it would stand to reason that a cat could too, I guess. Oliver was as sweet as can be, but he had some major problems mentally. He had to be taught, again, and again, that the food and water was on top of the dryer. (We kept it there so the dog wouldn’t get into it.) There were other instances that made me feel he wasn’t all there, but a lot of it was just the look in his eyes. Unlike the other cats, Oliver just sort of looked like he was a few bricks short of a full load. It’s hard to describe…but I’ve never met another cat quite like it.

We had a fire a few months after he came to live at our house, and the laundry room burned pretty bad. My parents had it renovated, and the door to the outside was moved from the back of the house to the side of the house. Poor Oliver never quite got over this.

The back door was the cats’ main way in the house, and where they came to eat and drink. They were able to easily open the screen door with a swipe of the paw, and they would relax in the laundry room, then go back out to the big bright world.

When the door was closed off, Frosty and Jezzie didn’t like it, but they were able to adapt.

Not Oliver. Years after the laundry room door moved, Oliver would still be sitting on the little square of cement that marked the old back door, meowing to be let in. I’d call him over to the side door, and he would come over and go inside, but he always tried to get in the old door first.

Of course, he might have been hoping to get back into the old laundry room before the renovation – the one that was messy and had a concrete floor and there was a way to get underneath the entire house in the crawlspace…a cat’s paradise. The new laundry room was clean and organized, and there was no way to get in the cobwebby crawlspace any more. Poor kitties.

Frosty and Jezzie gave up on the old laundry room, but Oliver never did.

Oliver died in the same way all of the cats of my youth did, in the street in front of our house. Not Frosty, but he was Marissa’s cat. My girl Jezzie and another black cat of mine, Cassie, also died in the road. Not a good place for cats.

He is buried there at the house…I can’t even remember exactly where. But I do remember how slender he was, and how sweet, and how much he loved me. And I remember how he cried for me when he was a little kitten, even though he was afraid of me. I called him Oliver Andrew Pace. He was a good kitty.

I’m so glad we went for a bike ride that day.

And now it gets awkward

And now I enter a new realm of journaling, in which I have to talk about people that will probably see this. Unlike where I mentioned someone briefly or they were part of a group of people, but not mentioned by name, this is right in the trenches.

How did you get along with your cousins?

For purposes of this journal entry, I am going to define “cousins” as the children of my parents’ siblings. That makes it quite a bit easier, especially since I have no cousins on my mom’s side of the family. I do have distant cousins, some of whom I consider myself closer to than my first cousins, but for this journal, we’re sticking with the Pace side.

I was nearly the youngest of the cousins, with only one living cousin younger than me. We went, from oldest to youngest, Karlene, Brian, Lisa, Stefani, Marissa, Scott, Grant, Regina, John (who died as an infant) and Kristin. Let’s take them on a case-by-case basis.

Karlene – My oldest sister, who is 11 years older than me. Since she’s not my cousin, I’ll leave this for another day, which I’m sure these journal topics will cover.

Brian – My oldest cousin. Brian was a little younger than Karlene, although I can’t remember the particulars at the moment. He was so much older. I didn’t have much of a relationship with him. Plus, he was male, and since I had no brothers, I was always a little timid around boys. I do know that he was really cool. Brian held Black Cat firecrackers in his hands when he popped them off. Unfortunately, because of my apprehension about him, I never really got to know him. I hugged him when we went for get togethers, and asked him how he was, and was always really interested in what he was doing, but I guess we never got to know each other as friends. I’m sorry about that because he died too young, just a few years ago. He has a son but I don’t have much contact with him either – even less since Aunt Mary died.

Lisa – Lisa is Brian’s sister. I have always been infatuated with Lisa for some reason, and I don’t know if she knows it or not. She will probably be surprised if she reads this. I always thought Lisa looked a lot like me since we both had brown hair and shared a lot of the same features. Plus, she was really, really nice. Lisa would always ask how I was doing and really seem interested in what I had to say. She was a big girl and so this was very flattering to a little person. I didn’t spend much time with her either, since there were cousins my age that needed to be run around with, but I always get a smile on my face when I think about Lisa. She was (and is) always so nice to me.

Stefani – Stefani was next in line, and since she was closer to Marissa’s age, she paired up with Marissa by default if it was only our two families there. She also hung around a lot with Lisa if their family was there too. Stefani was cool, no-nonsense, and said what was on her mind. She also liked to watch sports on TV and to throw around the football in the yard, which I didn’t understand at all. Stefani is always nice and always fun to be with. I also think that we have ended up having a lot in common. We are the two in the family who enjoy working on genealogy, so that’s pretty neat.

Marissa – My sister…to save for another day.

Scott – The first of the three Musketeers. Scott, Grant and I were all born in 1974 and we would run around together. From what I’ve been told, we were very cute when we ran around together when we were very small, and once all three slept on one cot when the entire family was at Grandma’s for Christmas. Scott was the oldest of the young half the cousins, and these are the ones I knew the best. Scott was very cool, seemed confident, played sports and was a neat guy. Matter of fact, to my eyes he almost seemed to cool for our family. Scott was also pretty cute, which wasn’t a problem when I was young but became more of a problem when I was older. It was awkward having this cute guy sitting next to me on the couch while we watched T.V., and I wasn’t well equipped to deal with it. I also felt a little embarrassed with him (and Grant too, for that matter) when we went to swim at the creek or something like that. Anyway…

Grant – The boy cousin I knew best. Grant was easier to get along with, probably because he lived right next to Grandma and so I saw him and Kristen each time I went to Stilwell. Grant and I ran around together a lot, with Kristen in tow. I liked to hang out with Grant, and I still like to when I’m at Stilwell, which isn’t very often. Sometimes I would spend the day at Aunt Sue’s house, playing with Grant and Kristin, and when the end of the day came, I’d spend the night there. It was always weird how I hung out with Grant all day, but when night came I went and slept in Kristin’s bed with her. Once we were in nightclothes, Grant and I were incommunicado. Of course, how else do I think it should have been? It was just weird feeling, that’s all.

John – I’m going to mention John too, even though I didn’t know him and never met him. He died when I was less than a month old, only a few days after he was born. He was Brian and Lisa’s brother. I mention him because it was such an odd thing for a child to learn about. One day Scott and Grant and I ran through, and someone called us the three Musketeers, which was normal, yeah, that’s who we are, and then someone, Grandma maybe, sighed, “There would have been four Musketeers.” This was news to me, and I listened for more. Maybe I didn’t get it then, but I learned later that he was born, he had lived for a little while, and he had died. Knowing how the boys sometimes dumped me and went off together, I thought that if he had lived, it still would have been the three Musketeers, but I wouldn’t have been one of them. I always wanted to know more about him, and when Aunt Mary died, I finally was able to see and photograph his grave. I have a picture of me and Scott and Grant with the grave, which was something I had wanted for a while. I hope that’s not strange. I wish John had lived.

Kristin – And now Kristin. My friend, my nemesis, my cousin. So many things wrapped up into one. Kristin was littler than me, and sometimes I was okay with that, and sometimes I wasn’t. Sometimes when the three of us were playing, Grant would tell Kristin to go away and I didn’t always stop him. That wasn’t very nice of me, now was it? On the flip side, sometimes I got booted with Kristin when Grant and Scott were playing together. I was always so hurt and horrified when I got pushed out along with her. Surely you don’t mean me, guys…do you? Kristin got on my black list for a while too, after I used some of my mom’s perfume and then Kristin trotted right out to her Aunt Janice and told her. Mom didn’t do anything to me but the very idea! In her defense, she was pretty little. Kristin is the only one of my cousins who has come to visit me since we’ve been grown up old people, and she and Matt came and spent the night. I wish we could get together again like that.

Overall, I think I got along pretty well with all of my cousins. I can’t really remember any of them ever having really cross words with me, or of us having a fight. We all just got along. I looked forward to seeing all of them whenever we got together, and I missed them when it was time to go home.

I was always a little jealous because the rest of them knew each other better. The other cousins were all children of sisters, and they all lived closer to Grandma than we did, and so they got together more often. Karlene and Marissa and me, the kids of the brother, lived farther away and didn’t get to go but a couple of times a year.

They still get together more often. We do our best to go once a year, and don’t always make it. I figure it’s a lot like we are with Karlene and Marissa and I now. We get together at the drop of a hat – for birthdays, holidays, or just whatever. I figure that’s kind of how Aunt Mary and Aunt Sue and Aunt Nancy were. I wish we could have been there more often too, but it was (and still is) a four hour trip and not something to take lightly.

So that’s me and my thoughts on my relationships with my cousins. It’s really weird knowing that every single one of them who is living is on facebook and may see this. Well, maybe they won’t read it. I don’t think I’ve said anything too terrible…but it is hard to bare your soul in any capacity when you’ve spent so much time hiding behind your façade!


Write about a privilege you earned. 

Time to put on the ol’ thinking cap.

This is the oddest thing. I can’t think of a single privilege I have ever earned. How strange is that? I have been sitting here for seriously ten minutes and I haven’t come up with anything.

As a little girl, I was not offered rewards or privileges for doing chores or minding, I was rewarded with not getting a spanking.

One awesome privilege I got in first grade was getting to read out loud to the class, but I didn’t really earn that, unless getting taught to read when I was three constitutes “earning” something. That was amazingly cool though. Mrs. Jones would have me read all of the time. I even got to read the filmstrips (and push the little button to go to the next slide) while she graded papers.

No privileges earned in elementary, so I’ll try to think about my later school days. Did I ever earn a privilege? I guess I earned things when the whole class did – soda pop parties for collecting the most Campbell’s soup labels in middle school; homeroom pizza parties for doing the best with the food drive in junior high; getting to go early for lunch with the rest of my grade for having the most spirit at the pep assembly in high school. But did I ever, singly, earn a privilege?

When I was in the eighth grade, I got to go to a scholastic meet. I did not make good grades in the eighth grade; I didn’t want to be there at all. My principal said they were going to send me because they knew I was smart, and they wanted me to see what kind of rewards went to the students who worked hard. It was fun. I liked riding on the bus with the smart kids, hanging at a college all day, taking the grammar tests, and winning an award (when none of the usual smarties did – double the pleasure). It probably made me want to buckle down and fly right for about twenty minutes. I suppose you could say I earned that, if I earned it by not taking the time to do my homework all year and barely scraping by when I had the potential to do much better.

My parents never withheld things until I did stuff when I was in high school. Maybe it was because I was the third child; maybe it was because I was pretty trustworthy…whatever it was, I was really without too many limits. All my friends had curfews, but I didn’t even have one. I guess it was because I told my parents what I was doing, and where I was going, on my own. I’d drop off my friends before their curfews and then go home. And what would I have done on my own anyway? I didn’t go out all that much anyway. Even in high school, I was more of a homebody. I’d go out occasionally on the weekends and cruise or whatever, but it was mostly because my best friend Tina wanted to, and I wanted to make her happy. So I never “earned” the right to go out driving around, or “earned” a later curfew, or “earned” staying at a friend’s all night or anything like that. It just wasn’t like that.

I mean, I’ve earned stuff, sure. I’ve earned positions in the band (first chair clarinet in high school and college); I’ve earned parts in plays (some great…some not so great); I’ve earned good grades and bad grades; I’ve earned awards and trophies and all kinds of things.

But I can’t say I’ve earned a privilege.

And I have lots of privileges. I am the mom of three pretty incredible people, and I get to live in a darn good county; I get to drive a car whenever I want, and I think I have it pretty nice. There’s some complaints, sure, but nothing to get worked up about.

Didn’t earn any of it really, though.

Was this just really an off-the-wall journal question, or am I the only person who never earned a privilege? Anyone?

Numbah Nine

Write about a time you cheated and were caught.

Here’s the thing. I can’t for the life of me remember a time I cheated and got caught. That is not to imply that I am an innocent darling who never cheated. I cheated lotsa times…but I don’t recall ever getting caught. Maybe I blocked it from my memory, or maybe I really am just that good. Does it matter now?

Instead of wasting time trying to think of a time I got caught, I thought I’d relive the times I didn’t.

Example 1: The shoe hide

So it was junior high, and it was time to show our knowledge of the periodic table. We had a series of tests focusing on them…like 10 or 20 of them at a time until they were all through. I memorized the first couple, but then I got tired of it.

I gave it a good try; I really did. At home, I typed up study guides for myself, with the name of the element and the abbreviation, on the 286 and printed them out on the dot matrix. But there were so many. Some were easy. H…hydrogen, duh. O…oxygen. Even AU…(A-U, come back with my gold) and some of the others were a snap. It was a big ones that I just gave up on completely.

After the first couple of successes on the tests, I started not studying very well…or at all…and I did poorly on a few. That’s when the idea for the cheat was born.

Looking back, I’m surprised I actually went for this cheat. I was pretty shy, and a “good girl,” and I didn’t want to be caught. But I wanted to memorize them less. I was an aide in the library, and during library time, I took the library scissors and cut my little study guide out of the piece of paper it was printed on. I got the library Scotch tape dispenser and used the tape to attach the now small piece of paper to the bottom of my shoe.

It was simple; it was ingenious.

I carefully walked to class and made sure I was the first person in there. I wanted to sit in the far back left hand corner. I got my prize spot and we got our test papers. The teacher’s desk was in the front right hand corner, but she walked around the room to make sure we weren’t cheating or looking at someone else’s paper. I calmly crossed my leg and started taking my test. I answered the one or two that I knew and then…I flicked my ankle up and looked at my cheat sheet. All of the answers were right there and it was oh-so-easy. From my position, no other student could see what I was doing. When the teacher came near, I simply pointed the sole of my foot more at the ground.

Test over; I handed my paper in. When the bell rang, I walked out the door, stepped over to the trash can by the entrance doors, pulled the sheet off my foot, crumpled it up, and tossed it in the trash. Never got caught. Didn’t try it again, though…I wasn’t stupid either.

One painful memory…the next day, this teacher came up to me all smiles and commended me on doing so well on the test. She knew that if I just applied myself, I could do a great job, and my score proved it. Ouch.

Example 2: Designer pants

Okay. To start this one out, you have to know about my best pants.

When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to have a pair of jeans with my friends’ signatures on them. My dad gave me a pair of his old jeans, and I soaked them in bleach all night in the bathroom sink. I washed them and washed them to get the bleach out, and then wore them like that. They were a really light color. I took a sharpie and asked all of my friends to autograph my pants…and they did. People wrote all kinds of things on my pants, drew pictures, etc. The pants were wide ankled boot cut pants, and I wasn’t crazy about those (this was 1990 or so), so I tight cuffed them. They also rode a little lower than I liked at the waist (again, 1990 high-waisted pants time) so I always wore my t-shirt on the outside.

Long story short, these pants were extremely cool. I thought so then, and I think so now. I still have them someplace. I ought to dig them out and look them over again.

I wore these pants quite a bit…probably once a week or so. Maybe twice a month. Something like that. Sometimes I would doodle on them with my pencil or ink pen during class or in the library or whatever. That would always wash out. The sharpie was permanent. That’s when the idea formed.

I think the cheat took place in history class, which doesn’t make sense because I really like history and am generally ready for it. The thing is, my big cheats never seem to be so much about cheating – they’re more about seeing if I can get away with a scam.

Anyway, you guessed it…I just wrote on my pants. You may recall I mentioned always wearing my shirt on the outside of these pants – never tucking in. Well, in the library (apparently my cheatin’ stompin’ grounds) I used a study sheet and wrote dates, names, etc. on my pants with a pencil. All writing was placed above the shirt line, on my legs. (Again, 1990s…I had some pretty long-tailed button down shirts in the closet.) I put everything I was fuzzy on right there on the pants, went in, took the test, went home, washed the jeans, and sent the evidence down the drain. Worked like a charm.

One thing that really stands out is the teacher talking about my jeans…but was it actually the time I cheated, or was it another time? Surely it was too much of a coincidence for it to be that same day, but I think it really might have been. Whatever the date, what happened was that I was walking into class, and this teacher mentioned that it was a good thing they had seen me wearing those jeans so many times, or they might have to look over them to see if I had put the answers to the test on there. We both laughed and my heart about stopped. Could it have been that same day? It does make the story better, doesn’t it?

Example 3: Tiered tables

This one’s boring, but it’s the only other time I remember really cheating and getting away with it like this. It was a college class, and the room had tiers of desks rising up in the back, and since I wore ball caps a lot because I didn’t do my hair, I wore my cap and looked right at the paper of the people in front of me and took care of business. The instructor watched us the whole time, but my eyes were behind my hat and I suppose I wasn’t one she would imagine would be cheating anyway.


There are possibly two other times I have pulled off scams that I thought were kind of cool, and both times I only did it just to see if it could be done. However, as these could possibly be considered federal or state offenses, I don’t guess I can go into it here on the Internet, which is a shame. Perhaps I will put them hypothetically?

Hypothetical Example 1

I was still pretty young, probably 9 or 10, when I thought about what happens when you forget to put a stamp on an envelope when you mail it. Why, the letter gets returned to the sender. So what would happen if I put my own name on the front of the envelope, and my cousin’s in the return place, and left off a stamp?

I found out, and I told my dad, who worked for the post office, about it, and he told me to not do that anymore. And I minded him. Knowing it worked was enough.

Hypothetical Example 2

Back in the dim dark days of 1992, if you lost your driver’s license, you could take your birth certificate and get a replacement made. I have no idea if this is still the way it works – surely not. They quizzed you when you got it, sure, and asked for your address, and phone number, and social security number…but what if you could get ahold of your sisters’ birth certificate, and the address and phone number were the same, and the social was only four digits off of yours so it was easy to remember…and there was a tag agency one town away where they didn’t know you from Adam?

And what if you even took your niece with you while you did it, and you were playing with her and didn’t even hear them call your “name” when it was your turn to go up and so you covered by telling them it was pronounced differently when they had to call it again, louder, to get your attention?

And what if then, after handing it to you, they warned you to be careful with the birth certificate and license because you had just turned 21 and there were all kinds of kids out there who would love to get their hands on a fake ID?!?!?

Not that the ID would ever be used for any purpose except for being stared at in amazement that it actually worked and it really was that easy…and would even be proudly showed off to Mom at one point of pride for the criminal in question…

Not that either of those two hypothetical scenarios ever happened…after all, I’m a writer, correct?

Or at least I’m trying to be.

An Essay on Cheating