If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Monday, June 28

My Big Fat Redneck Weekend

This past week was the County Fair here in our small town. Pretty much it is JUST as I remember it being when I was in high school, except for the fact that it costs a lot more to get in nowadays. (Still a relative bargain at $10 though)

Hubby wanted to go to the tractor pull on Friday night, but I opted out of that one. As he is so kind to point out he is a farm boy and I grew up in the city. I mean, the first part of my life we lived in the country and had horses, dogs, cats, a few chickens etc. but pretty much since I was 12 I have been a "townie". So, I let him attend without me. Besides, aren't tractor pulls kind of a guy thing?

However, on Saturday? Demolition Derby time! I am so all over that. I guess it is the alter-ego of my normally peace loving self, but I just love me some violent sports and activities. Football (hit 'im hit 'im hit'im!!!!), ice hockey (only good when a fight breaks out), roller derby (best on flat track and sitting in the "danger zone" where you might get hit by a girl sliding across the floor), love them all. But demolition derby? Well. I have loved that ever since Fonzie and Pinky Tuscadero took to the field way back in the 70's.

Oh, thank goodness she was OK in the end. What was she thinking not wearing a helmet? I so wanted a little pink halter top and white short-shorts like she wore. But I digress. *I HEART YOU, PINKY!*

So, it's probably just the redneck in me, but I had to go to the demolition derby. And boy was it redneck, let me tell you. However, for me just sitting and people watching was well worth the $10 admission fee. The derby itself was just a sideshow bonus. There were people wearing outfits the likes of which I had never seen. Women sans bra who should never go without. Men who hadn't showered in...the last decade. And more tattoos than at a biker convention. Not that there's anything wrong with that! 

Prime example of what not to wear seen here!

Now, I am trying to be healthy so I decided I would eat before I left the house, leaving hubs to wander the myriad of fair food and return with 2 giant corn dogs. I nibbled on an apple and drank water while those around me brought back funnel cakes, shaved ice, chili cheese fries (actually the only thing that tempted me) and cotton candy. We just had the best time sitting in the stands and being entertained by hoi polloi walking below us. Because, apparently, when you get all "dressed up" and come out to the fair, you want as many people to see you as possible. That is why when you put on a tight, skimpy tank dress, and you're about 8 months pregnant, you want to walk back and forth in front of the stands about 12 times an hour for three or four hours. When you weigh 250 and decide to wear a tube top and cutoff Daisy Dukes you want to stand at the fence in front of the crowd and smoke your cigarettes and let your kids run wild where everyone can see. When you're a white boy rapper wannabee you wear your shorts down around your butt and a muscle shirt with your cap bill to the side and strut through with your sad little posse as much as possible to ensure maximum exposure.

The best part came when the local Police showed up, obviously scanning the crowd for someone. I smacked hubby on the arm saying "watch this, some shit is about to go down". Sure enough, they soon pulled a girl from the crowd and she put on a show! She was about 90 pounds with long stringy hair and was fighting with all her might to keep from having those handcuffs put on her. She grabbed one of the officers by the forearm and just about threw him on the ground. Then, it was on! The other officer took her from the other side and all hell broke loose. It was awesome! She was kicking and fighting for all she was worth. I thought at the time that she was just a young girl, but when the police finally got her under control and they walked her out I could see that she was much older than her size and clothing might imply.

the offender dragged away still fighting.

The funniest thing is that this whole event barely caused a ripple in the crowd. I guess I was the only one amused, having never had a family member dragged away by the cops in a crowd full of people. Moments later the police were back to handcuff and take away a man this time, who put up no fight at all. Very anti-climactic.

The derby was awesome, and the car I picked as my favorite (an old boxy 70's era station wagon type thing) actually ended up being the winner. And the best part? The driver's name was Cleveland. How awesome is that? I love it.

After the car derby, there was, yes, a LAWNMOWER Demolition derby. Now play-it-safe Marsha was really worried about how the drivers would remain unharmed on lawnmowers, but actually no one got hurt, although 2 of the lawnmowers did tip over on the drivers. 

The best part of this was the comment that came from the redneck guy behind us when the lawnmowers pulled out onto the field. In a slow drawl he said "awww, ya'll this is redneck as shiiut." I had to laugh.
I think we'll go to another lawnmower derby in a couple of weeks.

Monday, June 21

The Man Who Raised Hubby

Father's Day is a bittersweet time in our house. Although my dad is still alive and kicking at 82, hubs lost his dad (Jerry) a little over 4 years ago quite suddenly and most unexpectedly in his early 60's. It is hard for me to suggest going out with my dad or buying a gift or even a card because I hate reminding hubby of his loss. Not that he needs reminding, I am sure he thinks about it every day. I can not imagine losing one of my parents, much less as quickly as we lost his dad.

I really loved my father-in-law. What's more, I liked him so much as a person. He was one of the most humorous, easy going, fun loving people you'd ever want to meet. He wasn't afraid to say exactly what he thought or give you his opinion, but he was one of those rare people who could do it in a way so that you appreciated his advice even if you hadn't asked for it. When hubby had a serious accident in 2000 he was hospitalized in a coma for about a month. During that time I stayed in a nearby house (lent to us by our gracious cousin Lori) with my mother- and father-in-law so that we could remain 10 minutes from the hospital and not have to make the long drive home each day. Those weeks were so hard for me, and I can only imagine how they were for his parents. But Jerry always comforted me and talked to me when I needed to talk. We would get home from the hospital at nearly 10pm, after having been there all day just sitting and waiting. His mother and I were both preoccupied with our mother/son or wife/husband losing scenarios. His mom would usually go straight to bed when we got home but Jerry would sit up and watch the news. I would usually sit with him, glassy eyed and exhausted, wishing I could sleep but knowing that I couldn't yet so he and I would talk for an hour or so. Sometimes about important things like life and death and religion, sometimes about stupid things like potato chips or corn or lightening bugs. No matter the subject, he would go to bed and leave me feeling like somehow, now, I could sleep. Like I could make it through just one more day. And then another and another.

From the moment I started dating my husband, 17 years ago, his dad made me feel like a part of the family. And I was happy to be a part. I loved sneaking him Snickers bars and popcorn in his father's day gifts, despite the (lovingly) disapproving look my mother-in-law gave us both. But never had I felt more like his own child than during those 3 weeks we spent together. Only then did I realize how lucky my husband and his 2 sisters were to have had a father like this. After hubby was home and recovered things went back to normal, but I just felt closer to Jerry. And I think he felt closer to me, too. If only I had known then that he would be gone in less than 6 years, I would have told him how lucky I felt to know him. I would have told him how much I appreciated his time and attention during those weeks. I would have told him that I am sorry I didn't realize while he was comforting me that he, too, was hurting. I wish I had my wits about me enough to comfort him, too. After all, it was his only son in that hospital room. But, I can only hope and believe he knows all this. Everyone, please be sure your loved ones know this every day. Kids, dads, moms, grandparents, friends. It is so important.

He was a big presence and his loss is still felt in many lives beyond our own family. His funeral was enormous and packed with as many children as adults, coming to say goodbye to  Mr. Jerry. There were people of many races, status, and ages in that room and I couldn't help but look around and think that I really never knew how many lives he had touched. As much as I miss him, I still get glimpses of him every day. Sometimes my husband will say something or do something or act in a way that reminds me so much of his dad, he is his father's son. And I feel so lucky to have a husband who was raised by such a father.

Thursday, June 17

Hello, Uncle Sam! It's been a while!

Well, now I've done it.

I have actually gone and gotten myself a job. Next week I will, after 6.5 months of leisure (i.e. unpacking, painting, arranging, and general house-redecorating and remodeling), start a part-time graphic design job. I have mixed feelings, because I have enjoyed being able to be at home and get the house settled, having the freedom to pick up and go when I want. But the fact of the matter is that our finances are a mess right now and I have been worrying about finding a job for a while now. I am fortunate to have even found a job in the design field less than 40 miles from my house at all, let alone 15 miles down the road. So I should be grateful. And I am. Getting my Graphic Design degree is one of the best things I've done for myself, like, ever.

I remember when I had jobs in accounting or business management I absolutely hated getting up and going to work every day. It was a necessary evil that I had to suffer through in order to get the bills paid and support my lifestyle. At the time I thought that every job was that way. I didn't know there was another way to go through life, I didn't know it was really an option to love what you do. I changed jobs frequently, thinking maybe it was the company or my co-workers or if I only made more money, anything to explain that it wasn't me.

However, 2 months after getting my graphic design internship I knew. I knew all the hard work was worth it. I knew that this was something I could do for the rest of my life. I knew that this is what I should have always been doing. Going to work every day was getting to do something that I actually enjoyed doing for 8 hours a day. And, I have to say, I had a pretty sweet internship with a very good boss, and wonderful co-workers. She allowed me to do things on my own, but gave opinions and guidance when I needed it. She was infinitely patient. She was understanding (for the most part) when I screwed up. She gave me a lot of rope. And let me learn. She was a wonderful teacher. And the company I worked for was wonderful. I met my "soul sister" someone who is EXACTLY like me in almost every way. The Pennsylvania version of me. Having to leave that job was torture. Like the most ironic plot twist in the novel of my life. It did greatly dampen the news that we were moving home to Kentucky when I had to think about leaving. I finally found a career and a job that I loved so much, and though I get to move home, I have to leave this great position behind.

I have suffered through a lot of good, bad and just wrong jobs in my life. I've had some seriously cracked co-workers, too. I have worked at large companies and in offices where it was just me and the owner. And his girlfriend. But that is a story for another day. So next week, I will start the next chapter of my life, 3 days at a time. I hope I love my second design job as much as I loved my first. I will still have time to do freelance design. I will still have time to write. I will still have time for jewelry parties. And yes, I am still planning on finding time to blog. In fact, for the next few days I will share some of my co-worker stories in honor of my re-entry to the work force.

On a side note, my former supervisor let me know that one of the campaigns we worked on together won an honorable mention at the national convention this week. No award, but honorable mention isn't too shabby out of 30 states that submitted. Yay! (Yes, I am a Fokker, all I need is the ribbon)

Tuesday, June 15

It's Not the Heat, It's the Humidity

So it has been about 2 months since the sudden revelation of what I call, for lack of a better term, my personal manifesto. I set out to put some things on paper, and structure my life so that I achieved both my short and long term goals. I did a super job of sticking to my daily schedule and meeting my deadlines. For about 7 weeks.

Last week that all came to a screeching halt. I do not know why. See, I have one of those minds. I don't think you'd call it one track, but when one thing steps out as an immediate, deadline priority I have trouble working on other things at the same time. I can't work on anything else until that one thing is completed, and my mind is just filled with thoughts and worry about said thing.

Well, something was obsessing me last week. Or I was obsessing about something, I guess would be the proper way to put it. They say it takes 30 days to make a new habit, but I am here to testify that it only takes 1 day to break it. I had a call to interview for a design job and I dropped everything to get my portfolio ready. Even when I tired of working on that stuff, I had to go sit and read or listen to music because I couldn't stop thinking about everything I needed to get done. This is not a good quality.

So, no writing, no walking, no exercising, and no blogging. For a week and now I am so far out of the habit it isn't even funny. So, I guess my training starts all over again. Here's to second chances.

On a personal note, it has been waaaay too hot here for me to even contemplate walking. The humidity is just as unbearable as I remembered it to be. The entire time I was in PA the people there kept telling me how "humid" it got there in the summer. The first couple summers I told them that I didn't think they knew what humid meant. After my fourth summer, I began thinking that maybe it really wasn't that much more humid in the south. Maybe my memory was exaggerating the true extent of the "wall of humidity". Maybe it really was "humid" in PA. Uhhh. No. It really isn't. Not. at. all.

Tuesday, June 8

Shout Out to Peaches!

Hubby sent me this email from work yesterday:

"So I'm sitting here working and Amy (his buddy at work) is reading and all of a sudden she breaks out in hysterical laughter. I'm like "WTF?" and she looks at me and says "Did you REALLY drive back here from PA with a frozen cat in your car??"

Yes, Amy, I am sorry to say we really did. He was in a Styrofoam cooler and we had to duct tape the lid down because he was a bit too big for it to close all the way down. But that is another story.

Then this message comes:
"She said to tell you that you have officially made her a "Follower".  And that she has never been a one of those ever in her life..."

Well, honestly, neither have I. Ever, and it has caused me a lot of heartache sometimes but overall, I highly recommend not being a follower. Unless it is a follower of my blog! **shameless self promotion goes here**

So, I just want to give a shout out to "Peaches" and thank her for conforming just a little to click "follow" on this blog. And thanks to all my followers, they are few, but totally awesome, all of them. Sarah L., who is one of my top 4 or 5 women for inspiration on how to live life (if I could just get it through my head). Hubby, always supportive and loving. My friend Kaye from MTSU who is hilarious and awesome (still waiting for that double date, KayKay!). My cousin Susie (Mitch's really but I call her mine too) whose name isn't really Susie but I call her that anyway. She is my weight loss inspiration and I also LOVE her Petey blogs. James K., former scooter buddy, Master of the Internet, and "big guy on campus" (he's also very generous). And last, but not least, my cutest follower (sorry honey) and the only 9 month old I know with her own blog, Eva Tensing Fischer. (Although my suspicion is that  mommy and daddy are reading Tinfoil Magnolia as bedtime stories, right?!) Check her out if you want some sweetness overload, she is Beeee-uuuuuu-tiful.

I appreciate everyone who reads and follows. I know there are many others who read as well who aren't followers. And that's...OK. Like I said before, I am not sure I have anything to say worth listening to, but this is a totally fun outlet and I am enjoying it immensely. 

So, who do I follow? Well, as we speak my Reader is full of blog updates on the 40 or so that I follow regularly. If you want to read someone who is totally laugh out loud funny, one of my favorites is Stephanie Snowe, who is a hilarious, raucous, beautiful, brutally honest person (and writer)(and mom)(to twins, no less). At least that's the impression I got in the 15 minutes I actually met her in person. Maybe it's just FaceBook that makes her seem that way! She has a wonderfully unique parenting style and tells it like it is. Oh, and she also has a book. With it's own website (love the site design and the book cover design by the way). Check her out, too.

Sunday, June 6

Be Daring

I stepped into the classroom with butterflies in my stomach, intimidated to my core at being in an art studio full of 20-somethings, and saw the easels looming tall in the darkness. I can still vividly recall the cold January day in 2007 when i first set foot on the campus of HACC. I had to fight the urge to turn around and walk away back to the safety of the life I was living. I was returning to school 20 years after my first college experience. After 10 years of “saying” I wanted to go back to school to study design, and proceeding to do nothing about it, I was finally here. 

So what got me here, after all those years, at the age of 39? Was it a midlife crisis, Oprah inspiring me  to live my best life, or a sudden burst of resolution? No, it was on a dare. All the encouragement from my husband over 12 years, all the comments from friends that I should be a designer, that I should be in the arts, that my current occupation was a waste of my talents. Of all these inspirational words from people in my life, what encouraged me was a DARE FROM A CO-WORKER? Seth, by the way, had absolutely no idea that he was changing my life. As it turns out, I myself had no idea how much my life would change, either.

Another student in the graphic design program asked me during our final semester “if you knew how hard this would be, would you have done it?” I was very tired and strung out, behind on all of my work, struggling desperately to up and to keep my grades intact in what would be my final semester. “No” I snapped back. “No Way”! And it was hard. And trying. And humbling. Most of all humbling. Being a 40-something struggling to keep up with younger students is difficult, but for a 40-something business woman who has worked since the age of 21 and spent the past 5 years working for herself? Being graded, scolded, critiqued, and judged can leave you feeling like a contestant on Survivor. Outwitted, outplayed and outlasted. Again.

So I still think if I had known how hard it was I wouldn't have done it, but isn't that true for most of us? Few people really want to dedicate themselves heart and soul to anything. Few people really want to give up their weekends for homework or studying when it is beautiful weather outside. Few people really want to spend all their free time on projects and say no to social events. But when we have to, we do it. Isn't not knowing sometimes on our side? If we don't know that something is difficult, we can dive in to it with no preconceived notion of not being able to accomplish it. That is how some of the best thinkers of our time got where they are today. Bill Gates, Oprah, Steve Jobs. They just plugged away, one step at a time. I would bet if they truly had known the enormity of what they would achieve in their lives, even they would have thought twice before continuing. 

However, in the end when I wonder why I ever took that dare from my co-worker I remember something that was sent to me by my close friend Adam many years ago. It was during an extremely trying time in my life while hubs and I were coping in the immediate aftermath of his terrible accident. His entire email consisted of a quote from Helen Keller saying “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Underneath Adam added “be daring”. He probably doesn't know what it meant to me at that point in my life to have someone saying something other than, “you'll make it” or “it's god's plan” or “we're praying for you”. (All platitudes for which I appreciate the sentiment, but mean nothing to me as an agnostic) Adam gave me hope, gave me advice for living, and furthermore in two words adjusted my attitude. I read “be daring” as in “live your life to the fullest, don't let this slow you down, you can still do what you want and stop feeling sorry for yourself” all rolled into one. 

I have tried my best to live my life this way ever since that day. So that is why I took the dare. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Wednesday, June 2

Exposition Not Included

I have had several people send messages letting me know that they have enjoyed reading my blog, or liked certain posts. Thank you all for the encouragement but truly, my life used to be so very interesting. I felt like I had something to write about every single day and I could expand on it to the point of an essay or short story. In fact, I have several of them tucked away on my MacBook. Now that I am actually dedicating myself to blogging, I feel like I need to go back to work in an office to feed the machine.

Out of the last 4 years, 2 of them were spent pursuing a graphic design degree in classes filled with 20-somethings and there was always something brewing there, let me tell you. There was the guy we called "shirtless guy"(cause we're original that way) who walked around campus even in the dead of winter wearing the following: black skinny pants (usually, but sometimes a red tartan pair) tucked into black leather rocker boots, suspenders, a knee length brown and white faux fur coat, and NO SHIRT. EVER. He was skinny, like Iggy Pop skinny and had shoulder length blonde curls. He was cute, not an icky gross random shirtless guy. In the summer, he traded his faux fur coat for nothing at all, but the guy never, ever wore a shirt. Now, you might question the addition of the suspenders, but let me be honest. Most of us were glad for them as they served to cover his nipples, a fact which was much appreciated when he was spotted over lunch in the cafeteria.

Eventually, even Shirtless Guy found his perfect match and started hanging out with the girl equivalent of himself, but thank goodness she wore a shirt. A very tight tank top, but still, a shirt. Personally, having grown up in the 80's, I thought he was punk as shit and exactly the kind of guy I would have gone for in my late teens/early 20's, sort of a (young) David Bowie/Mick Jagger lead singer type. Although all the younger girls in my class talked about how they thought he was gross and weird, I actually always admired Shirtless Guy. Because of the fact that I happen to like weird things simply because they are considered weird by (so-called) normal people, I always wanted to get to know Shirtless Guy. But aside from that, I mean you have to admit this guy is dedicated, he's no poser. He picked a style, put his Doc Martens down and stuck with it rain, sleet, snow or sunshine. I can also identify with him as a former "weird" girl myself. I spent most of my high school years not looking or dressing like other people did in my small hometown. (Thanks mostly to the addition of that "new" MTV to our lineup during sophomore year of high school) I know some people think you try to be different just to get attention, but I think for me it was mainly just an outlet. Just another way to prove to myself that I didn't have to look or be like everyone else. Because for me the thought that I had to be like everyone else was worse than threat of death.

And Shirtless Guy?  I never had the courage to introduce myself to him. I think I would have just stood there staring at him like an idiot not knowing what to say and trying not to look at his nipples. Actually, most people I talked to who had classes with him reported that he was whip smart and extremely nice. Just goes to show, you can't judge a guy by his shirt, or lack of one.

Note: This barechested thing is apparently a lifestyle choice as evidenced by this article that I found as writing this post.