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...

Saturday, April 30


Today's post is my entry into this week's 100 Word Challenge hosted by Velvet Verbosity. The 100 Word Challenge is an exercise in which we write exactly 100 words in response to the weekly prompt word. Click the link to read the other entries–good stuff over there! 

This week's prompt was "bathed". 

“How do you like your eggs?” he asked, smiling at her sleepy face. The kitchen was bathed in sunlight and she squinted up at the window, wide and high off the ground. 

“What time is it?” she queried, dodging a kiss and moving toward the coffee pot. He wrapped his arms around her waist pulling her toward him and kissing the back of her head. 

“Don't worry about the time.” he whispered in her ear, holding her close. “We have all day.”

“Well maybe you do,” she said, straining against his firm embrace,“but I have things to do today.”

Tuesday, April 19

Back to Life...

So I attended a writers' conference on Friday. Despite my best efforts, and even getting up earlier than I needed to, I was still running late. As usual. I am on this strict eating program and I had to pack a lunch, slice apples, find a lunchbox, get ice out, fill my water bottle, make sure I have my supplements, cell phone, laptop, coffee, purse, a sweater, keys, food, and water as I try to get out the door and make my way to the car. In the rain.

So I drive to the conference center like a bat out of hell. My original plan, the plan in my head (that land of the perfect me and perfect world where everything always goes...well...perfectly) was to be a little early so that I could stop at Starbucks for my 2nd cup of coffee. By the time I got there, however, I sat at the intersection debating. I could skip coffee, be grumpy, and be 5 minutes late. Or, I could swing through the drive through, get my coffee but be 15 or 20 minutes late. I hesitantly drove on through the intersection when the light turned green and continued to the conference center to park, figuring 5 minutes late was bad enough, but still looking over my shoulder longingly at the Starbucks sign that was so close yet so far.

When I arrived, there were no less than 10 big yellow school buses lined up outside the building. I had forgotten that today was kid's day in conjunction with the book fair that would take place on Saturday. So I parked, as close as I could find a spot. Grabbed my laptop bag, purse, lunchbox, sweater and notebooks and headed across the wet parking lot in my flip flops. Yes, that's right. I had also dressed completely inappropriately for the rainy, cloudy weather in a fit of wardrobe confusion and optimism for spring weather.

Once inside I made my way to the registration table. Finding the session I wanted to attend in the program, I was lucky that the room was right around the corner. Now, I had been to conferences in this building before and I knew this room. Or I was pretty sure I did. Although the next door down was labeled 113 and I was looking for 112, I was pretty sure it came into the back of the same room. I hesitated at 112 a moment, not sure, and decided just to go in 112 not wanting to risk bursting into the wrong room. When I slowly opened the door, I saw that, of course, the program had already started. At the front of the room stood a tall, lean man wearing a huge cowboy hat. "WTF?" Was all I could think, "I have got to be in the wrong room, what big ole' Texan guy writes memoirs?" blogger's note:  I did not, at this point, know if he was from Texas, I just naturally assume everyone wearing a cowboy hat is, indeed, a Texan. 'Cause I'm open that way.)

There I stood. I was inside the threshold of the door. Right in the front of the room. Yes, everyone was looking at me. Yes, the speaker too, and he was smiling and telling me it was fine come on in. He stopped speaking until I could find a seat. I was loaded down like a pack mule with laptop, lunchbox, purse, notebooks, and a bottle of water. I raised my hands in front of me in the universal mea culpa gesture and mouthed "sorry sorry" to go along with it. I immediately spied a seat on the aisle and made a bee-line for it, my flip flops making a slapping sound with every step. I was so grateful for that aisle seat so that I didnt' have to climb over people, slapping them in the back or head with my lunch box or purse or anything else.

Only as I dumped my laptop bag, lunchbox, purse, water bottle and notebooks in the floor in the aisle did I notice the man sitting next to the spot I had chosen. He looked ecstatic that a girl had "chosen" to sit beside him. He looked like I was possibly the closest he had been to a cute girl, well, maybe ever. He reached over and eagerly pulled my chair out for me and, don't think I didn't notice, in doing so pulled it a good 2" closer to his. I gave him a sideways glance and a sweet smile, silently thanking the gods that the scoop neck blouse I had chosen that day wasn't more low cut.

This guy, a hulk of a man, really, just looked for everything like the bully from the Simpsons all grown up. Or a guy who would hang in the comic book shop on Big Bang Theory. He was fidgeting and bouncing his leg and kept looking over at me randomly. blogger's note: when you read this, please think of him as having the speech patterns and mannerisms of that Office Space guy, the one with the stapler? 'Cause he totally did.

I tried to listen to the speaker who, to my relief and amazement, was really very interesting. Ad Hudler has published 4 books, one of which was a memoir of being a stay at home dad for 18 years and what happens when the chick flies the coop after graduation. He had some very relevant ideas about memoir writing, was entertaining and held our attention very well. I was taking notes and suddenly the guy next to me is frantic to ask a question.

Ad was talking about facts and how to represent them properly, what needs to be completely accurate and how timeline orders can sometimes be changed to help the story line move along. So a few people ask varying questions and then we get to the guy next to me.

He begins telling his story, about how he has had an experience in the past, he wants to write a memoir, but there is no one to confirm facts with, he never sees the people and they could be dead for all he knows, and the CIA is keeping a tight lid on all the details of what happened so he can't find any records of it happening. At least that's what I heard, I really wasn't paying attention because he rambled, rambled on for about 5 minutes. So while I am sitting there wondering if he was the victim of a UFO abduction or what that the CIA or KGB would be involved, I look over at him again. Big mistake. He starts confiding in me, while Ad is moving on, about the conspiracies and what a horrible, sad story he has to tell. I sort of nod and smile sympathetically whispering, "yeah....yeah" to anything he says because I am really not listening.

Now, y'all. Ad handled this whole situation with great aplomb and a genuine interest in what the guy was asking/saying telling. But I don't mind telling you that I couldn't have cared less. Y'all know I am nothing if not honest, and honestly? I really don't don't have time to listen to the ramblings of someone like that and their conspiracy theory that the CIA has their personal records, and is following them, bugging them, etc. I just don't care. I am sorry, I know that is awful, but it's the truth. I was basically thinking "well, this is my punishment for coming in late, sitting next to this guy."

So we move on through the lecture, which was full of great advice, and toward the end the discussion the guy next to me raises his hand. This time his concern is that his story happened a long time ago and he's afraid he's forgotten all the details. And, again, there's no one to talk to they've all apparently been killed or put in hiding by the CIA or KGB (again, just what I heard) and how can he bring back the memories. So this sparks a discussion on going back to the place, returning to the emotions, talking to people. None of which are an option in this guy's case. Again: see CIA or KGB.

Then it comes out that he spent a portion of his childhood in a mental institution. And he can't return there, of course, because the building has been shut down and he'd be arrested if he went there and the records are all missing, and he tells us his story of being there and being given medications and being locked up and he was a minor so he couldn't sign himself out, etc. Very sad thought, indeed. So trying to be helpful, others in the room start making suggestions like maybe a song that reminds him of that time or a particular smell.

And then, the lady sitting directly across the aisle from me speaks up. I had noticed her, a beautiful older southern lady sitting with another lady who I judged to be a daughter or sister because of their resemblance. She was very well dressed, prim and proper, perfect honey blonde hair done up out of the weekly wash and set. So she hasn't said a word all day, and now she is sitting there with her arms crossed in front of her chest. Without raising her hand, she speaks. And it's like the Cool Whip Queens have raised themselves out of the water and materialized at the writers conference.

"Weeeayuull, honey, yeeeww know whuuuut helllps me?" she asked in a slow southern drawl. "Ah find that a big glass of reeed wine helps unlock all sorts of memories." Giggles in the classroom. "Wheyun ah have one of those? Things just come floodin' out."

To which the man on my left responded, matter of factly, "Well, alchohol doesn't mix very well with psychotropic drugs, that's not an option. Definitely not an option." We all sort of sat in stunned silence.

Without missing a beat or blinking an eye, she casually says, "Well, honey. I cain't help that'chore craaaazy. Ahm just sayin' it wurks fuh me."

Well, y'all. The room exploded into laughter. I think the speaker may have gone to his knees for a moment. I couldn't even look at the guy next to me, I was afraid to see what was going on.

I was trying to supress my laughter, all the while thinking "My god, woman, I am sitting right next to this guy. If he's carrying a gun or knife I am gonna be between that and you. I will be the first to get it. Why oh why do I always have to sit next to the former mental patients who are heavily medicated?"

The woman still is cool as a cucumber. She's not really getting why we are all in hysterical laughter. She raises both her hands in a shrugging gesture and says over the waves of laughter, "Well, I'm sahrry, it's the truuth."

So. Awesome. How glad am I that I attended Ad's memoir writing session?

5 Lessons Learned:
1) Get your ass out of bed extra early so you can sit in the sane section.
2) Never pass up a chance for coffee-you never know what you might have to deal with that day.
3) Cool-whip queens are everywhere, y'all, and they are spectacular.
4) I am SO gonna be that woman when I am older. I am working on deepening my accent.
5) Writing memoir is tough and you have to pretend everyone is dead. At least that's what I heard him say.

Check out Ad's blog here! He's funny y'all. And not bad to look at.

Saturday, April 16

You Gotta Have....Friends!

Whew! This week is finally over and I personally could not be happier. Now I just have to get through the weekend and I can start anew on Monday.

This has been a stressful week for many reasons. I had several design projects that clients wanted wrapped up and finished after months of not hearing from them. So Monday was spent struggling with that, a long day hunched over the computer keyboard in my less-than-ergonomic desk chair, which is now partly broken and pinches my leg every time I sit. This day culminated in a migraine that wouldn't quit.

Tuesday was client work in the morning then a luncheon for Equal Pay Day at a local restaurant, which was fun. But by the time I got home it was 2:30, I hadn't eaten because of my strict and ridiculous diet regulations, and I had another headache.

Wednesday I wrangled with a client all day and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why he had hired me to help. Basically all he wanted me to do was interpret his ideas onto paper, all of my creative ideas were rejected in favor of something lined up and centered on the page, something his high school kid could have done for him. I quickly dubbed the day Cranky Wednesday, because I was in no mood for games.

The high point for the week, however was receiving a voice mail that showed up on my phone from the weekend. I have this issue with AT&T, sometimes messages get "hung" somewhere. I have no idea, and it is days before I get them. My mom tells me "seems like this just happens every time I leave you a message." "No, mom, it's not JUST your messages. It happens all the time."

Anyway, the message was from a man who I interviewed while writing a story that had been assigned to me by our local paper, The Franklin Favorite.  I write for them as a stringer reporter and while it doesn't pay the mortgage, I love it and I am getting paid to write. That's a first for me, and my piggy bank likes the small donations. The part I love most is that I get to meet all kinds of interesting, wonderful, and amazing local people when I go out to do these interviews. This particular man was hesitant about being interviewed from the start. I finally got him to give me an appointment, and my friend Amy (photojournalist extraordinaire) went with me to meet him and take pictures.

He requested that I send a copy of the story to him to "approve" which I did. Apparently he called me over the weekend, and left a message along the lines of "you are an idiot and suck as a writer, how embarrassing for you". Well, ok, not exactly that. But he refused to approve the story, and rather than just saying that told me that my writing was "unreadable and circuitous, historically inaccurate, and just plain wrong."

Now, the thing is y'all? I have been through design school. I am a 43 year old woman, I can take criticism. If you tell me a sentence uses the wrong verb tense or that I run on too much or sometimes use my punctuation incorrectly, I will say "yeah, I did, I will fix it." But to say something like this to me. Y'all, it was just plain mean. And meant to hurt my feelings. And I do NOT like that. It was personal. And it hurt my feelings.

But the best thing is that I had been chronicling my Cranky Wednesday on Twitter. So of course I posted about this as the capper to my day.

 Marsha Herndon 
And the capper on my day? Just got v/m from a guy I interviewed last week saying how sucky and unintelligible my story was.

By the time I was finished crying on hubby's shoulder I logged in to find these in my Twitter stream:

@TinfoilMagnolia tell him that it was maybe just his life that was that way and not your story...

@Tinfoilmagnolia tell that jagoff hating the media is so 2005

@TinfoilMagnolia what an ungrateful jerk he was.

Through my tears, I immediately had to laugh and smile at these folks. Only one of the three have I actually met in real life. The other two are 100 Word Challenge buddies. They don't know me except online, but they totally had my back. Wow. How much do I love that? 

Just to be fair, my real life friends took up for me as well. I spoke to friend Amy and apparently the man claimed to the paper's editor that I made up stuff in the article that he actually told me and thank goodness she was there to say "Yes, you did say that. I was there." She told the editor that everything I wrote was accurate according to what he told me that day and the editor stood up for me and had my back. Thanks, Amy and Charlie.

This is what life is about, guys. Things don't always go our way, do they? Maybe my story did suck, I am a novice after all. Maybe he just thought that I would write some sort of Architectural Digest article with complete historical documentation from 1901 until present. I don't know. I just think it was thoughtless and mean to say those things to me. But I love the fact that I have friends who stick up for me.

Friday I attended a writing workshop locally and my creative batteries are again charged up, I need to be able to do that kind of thing more often. You know I listened to one of the speakers, Ad Hudler, and realized that life isn't always what we expect it to be. Or want it to be. Sometimes we ourselves aren't what we want to be. Sometimes our own actions surprise and disappoint us. All we can do is just move on and keep living life. Thanks, Ad for your perspective on this. 

I have friends who take up for me, whether I am right or wrong. And I have friends who call me on it when I am wrong, telling me to snap out of it. That's what I love about life. Everything, everyone we need is right here. We just need to reach out for it. 

My week ended with some really really good news, and some really bad news. Neither of which I can talk about here right now. But when I can, I will. Because the best support you can have in life is that of the people who care and love you.

Tuesday, April 12

Sacrifice, Willpower & Coffee Creamer

For the past week I have returned to my very strict diet in order to lose the last bit of weight that I wanted to lose. I have had to give up anything with sugar, artificial sweeteners, fat, oil, and starches. I have given up diet soda for green tea,  salad dressings for vinegar or lemon juice. I have given up cheese, donuts, italian bread, pasta, in favor of lean meats, veggies and fruit. My candy, Mike & Ikes, gummy worms, chewy caramel and chocolate. I have given up alchohol, y'all. All of which is fine. Really. I can do anything if I know it works, and I know this works.

 I go out to eat with friends and watch them eat fried foods while I have a plain salad. Watch them have a beer while I sip lemon water. None of it has bothered me. Last summer when I did my first 6 week stint on this diet, no one was more surprised than I at my iron willpower. I don't begrudge giving up anything, it's just food after all. And I know if I stick with it I will lose weight. However, there is one small exception. 

I would sell my soul right now to be able to put some creamer in my coffee. It surprises me how overwhelming the urge, need, craving is to have it. It isn't that I don't like the flavor of coffee, I do. It's just SO much more pleasurable to me with creamer in it. I love the color, I love the taste, it even changes the smell. I know it is a psychological thing, but of all things to struggle with, this one has surprised me.

I value my morning coffee. I am notorious for not being able to do without it, come what may. I will not substitute a soda or anything just for the caffeine. It is something about having that steaming hot mug of coffee in the morning that just makes my day start off right. If my coffee isn't good, I am grumpy. If I don't get enough, I am listless. And if I don't get creamer, I am unsatisfied.

Last time I was on this diet I thought, “after spending 6 weeks drinking coffee without creamer I think maybe I will keep doing it.” That lasted one day. If even that.

I know, I make this sound like some enormous sacrifice. And really, it isn't. In the grand scheme of life, it's a minute detail that simply makes life....comfortable,  predictable and easier to deal with. I think of my friend Brownie who had triple bypass 3 weeks ago. I think of all that she's going through during recovery and how she is kicking ass and taking names. What a strong woman! I am so proud of her and her recovery. 

And I think that if she can kick ass on heart disease, I can give up my stupid creamer for 6 weeks. How ridiculous to be pining away for something so stupid. And yet, at night, I dream of once again having my beloved creamer. Pouring into my coffee like so much delicious pleasure right there in my cup. 

MMMMMMMM. Honestly..... 

Sunday, April 3


Today's post is my entry into this week's 100 Word Challengehosted by Velvet Verbosity. The 100 Word Challenge is an exercise in which we write exactly 100 words in response to the weekly prompt word. Click the link to read the other entries–good stuff over there! 

This week's prompt was "voice". My entry is an excerpt from a biographical essay I wrote recently.

There was a large magnolia tree in the front yard of her home. The red haired girl loved to crawl under the limbs of the tree. In the humid southern summers it provided cool shade and she would lie there for hours daydreaming and watching the sun move through the dense foliage.

When she was old enough to read she spent days on end sitting there with a Nancy Drew mystery in her hands and the sweet aroma of the blossoms surrounding her like a blanket. She would stay under her tree until her mother's voice called her for dinner.