Monday, May 2, 2011

Shift (v2.0)

This morning, I am sitting in a house.

This morning, I woke up in my own bed.

This morning, my life is pretty normal.

That is not the case for thousands of people here in the state of Alabama.

Last Wednesday, April 27, 2011, a series of tornadoes ripped across the southeast. Alabama was hit the hardest. Many towns were wiped off the map. There is a staggering loss of life. The number of people injured is in the thousands. The number of people who lost everything they own is even higher. It's hard to wrap your mind around just how bad it really is here in Alabama. One of my sweet friends put it this way: "The pictures you're seeing in the media don't do it justice. It's like watching a G-rated version of a triple X movie."

There is a huge effort to help those who have been affected. Support is rolling in from places all around the country. People are donating their time to help complete strangers. People are buying supplies to donate like nothing I've ever seen. My family has even bought items twice since Thursday to drop off and try to do just a little bit to help. My little bit of stuff seems like a drop in the bucket, but I know that when they put my stuff with five other people's stuff, then it makes a bigger difference.

I sat and watched the local weather guys forecast and alert people all day last Wednesday. They were on the air ALL DAY. I don't know when or if they ate or got to take a bathroom break. I don't know how their voices didn't give out. I watched them diligently track these storms, and I watched them throw up their hands, looking completely befuddled, as they saw the meteorological evidence that told them this would be the worst storms they've ever seen. I even heard one of them say that he'd be praying that it wouldn't be as bad as it showed. You know you're in trouble when the weatherman is praying.

I watched the coverage. I saw the Cullman tornado and then the Tuscaloosa tornado as they were caught on the station's tower cam. I sat with my mouth gaping open and felt the tears well up in my eyes. I'd seen pictures of tornadoes before, but had never seen one 'live'. You could tell by the size that it was going to leave a horrific scene in it's wake. As I watched the debris flying through the air, I thought of all the things that could be caught up in that thrashing cloud. As it turns out, many things were caught up in that violent wind. Things were picked up in Tuscaloosa and were deposited somewhere in St. Clair county, some 75+ miles away.

Somewhere along the way, I began to feel that Alabama was deeper in my heart than I originally suspected. Now, Alabama has always been a part of my life; my parents are both natives. Both sides of my family still reside in the same general area and I spent several summers of my youth playing and visiting with relatives. I was taught from an early age that Alabama football is second to making sure you're in church on Sunday morning. I spent the majority of my youth being raised near Atlanta, Georgia. I'm a Georgia Peach. However, I'm feeling a kinship like never before with the people of this state. I feel like I'm a part of something bigger than myself. I feel like I'm in a position to make a difference and I feel better equipped to do something here.

I know I can't make everyone realize how bad it is here in Alabama right now. I know I can't help everyone I want to help. But I know that I can work together with those who love Alabama like I now do and we can all make a difference.

You know, one of the neatest things about all this disaster and tragedy is that people who normally say hateful, awful things about each other are coming together on a united front. The people of Auburn University are heading up and mounting a gargantuan task on Facebook to help the people in Tuscaloosa, as well as other storm-ravaged communities. If you're not aware, Tuscaloosa is home to the University of Alabama, Auburn's fiercest rival. To say the teams are arch-rivals doesn't begin to scratch the surface. These teams loathe each other and play for bragging rights every November. The winners sneer in the face of the loser for the next twelve months. However, we're putting all that aside for now and we're looking at the fact that we're all Alabamians. It's heartwarming in a small, weird way.

I feel like this post has been very incoherent and like I've been rambling. I just needed to get it out. Somehow, some way, God will be glorified through this horrible mess.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting there

Well, hi y'all. It's been quite a while, now hasn't it?

Many things have changed in our household over the past six months. Looking back, it's been sort of a whirlwind, but at the time it seemed to drag on and on and on without a foreseeable goal/end in sight. I'm glad to say that our future seems more solid and certain now, and we have some goals that we've verbalized and decided to take some action to make those goals a reality. Which brings me to the topic of today's post...

Waaaaaaay back in the fall of 1990 and the spring of 1991, I was a sophomore in high school. I was assigned to take world history from Mr. Siegel. I'd only seen him in the halls as a freshman, and thought he was a little quirky, but still a likeable guy. I didn't realize the fire he'd light in me would burn brighter and brighter as I got older. Mr. Siegel didn't just teach a class and a set curriculum, he brought it to life. He was that kind of teacher. When we studied the American Civil War, he brought in a soldier's diary that he'd purchased at an auction many years prior. He passed it around the classroom for us to see the words that'd been penned more than a full century before any of us had been born. He let us touch the artifacts. The day he passed that diary around the class, one of my classmates raised their hand to let him know that they'd not seen the diary yet and thought they'd been skipped. Well, the truth is that once it got to my desk, it stayed longer than it should have. I touched the pages as if I were somehow communicating with the author himself. I relished the opportunity to hold in my hands something that was not of my own time. It was almost electrifying to me. He routinely brought in things from places he'd been: a genuine Egyptian cobra that someone had taken in for taxidermy, a real Nazi flag, a document signed by Abraham Lincoln and another document signed by a pope from several hundred years ago. He trusted us with his treasures and passed them around the class regularly. Just like the diary I mentioned earlier, they almost always got stalled at my desk. Except for that silly cobra, because y'all know how I feel about snakes.

He told us about the Renaissance, the Black Plague, the French Revolution, the 95 Theses and the Diet of Worms. About ancient Rome and both World Wars. About everything that had happened between the beginning of recorded history and the present time. But, the thing that struck my heart with a fiery passion was when he talked about England. He taught us about the Norman conquests, the origins of the Tower of London and of its long and storied, and often bloody history. He told us in graphic detail what happened to silly old Oliver Cromwell. About the little princes who would have been kings and how their uncle had them murdered. About the House of Tudor, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth and many, many more tidbits and facts that we would not have learned if we'd been just across the hall in another teacher's class. That year, when I was just 15 years old, I fell in love with London. That year, some fire was lit within me to go and see the history for myself. To this day, the desire has only grown stronger. The flame is still burning strong and my dream of going to London has never diminished.

Fast forward to 2009.

The Boy drove to my house with Fancy in tow. They told me they were coming to visit for the day, but they really had an ulterior motive. The drove two hours to my house so they wouldn't have to tell me over the phone that they were going to take a trip to Europe together, and that the entire first week of the trip would be spent in London. He drove all that way so he wouldn't break my heart. In a small way, it did break my heart a little, but I was sincerely glad that he was getting to go and have a great trip and see all the things I'd seen a thousand times in pictures, but never with my own eyes. They went and returned back home, but not without a little bit of passport drama along the way.

Now, we enter present day.

About a month ago, The Boy called me and said, "I've got the itch."

I replied with a rather clueless, "Huh?! What do you mean?"

He said, "I want to go back to London."

"Well hit the road, Jack. You've been before. Go do it again."

Again, a little part of me felt sad and left out and just all around 'grr!' over the fact that it'd probably be past retirement age before I got to go see and touch all that history.

He then said, "I've already mentioned it to Nanny and PawPaw, and they're cool with watching the kids while we go together."

I think my heart skipped a beat there.

"Really? Really and truly???"

"Yeah, I think so. Call her and discuss it further since it's your kids and it'll be on them to keep up with them."

You better believe that the second I hung up with him, I was on the phone with my mom. And guess what, she agreed to watch them.

So, I began thinking about how I'd manage to PAY for this trip Across the Pond. I have some money in savings, but it'd almost wipe it out to pay for the entire trip, plus food and souvenir money. I can't do that to my family. It's just too selfish, even if I have been waiting to get there for 21 years. So, it appeared that my dream was put on hold yet again. Oh well, I've grown used to waiting after all this time.


The Husband did our taxes. I was really worried we'd have to pay taxes this year because of a job change where he cashed out a large chunk of stock from his former company. However, he did our taxes and looked at me and said, "Well, it looks like we're getting X amount back on our return this year."

My eyes got as big as saucers, because the amount he told me would definitely provide the means for me to get to London and back. It was the first thing that came to mind. I looked at him and said, "Would it be possible to use some of that to pay for a plane ticket and a hotel room?" He replied with, "I don't see why not."

Man, I do love him. : )

That crazy day last June when our house caught fire, provided the means to get rid of a craptastic landlord and also the means to finance a dream I've had longer than any other in my entire life. I've wanted to go for more than half my life now, and it's looking very promising that I may get to finally go. I have filled out my passport application, and submitted it at the post office yesterday. One baby step closer.

I've not allowed myself to get truly excited. I don't think I'll even get a little keyed up until I actually purchase a ticket. But I know that if this is really happening, when we land in London I'll likely burst into tears of joy.

It seems like things are falling into place for it to be real this time. As if it's the proverbial lining up of the planets. As if it's just MY time to finally go and see and smell and taste and hear and touch the history in London. When I start thinking about how real it could be this time, I get teary-eyed. When I think about the possibility of touching the mortar that's been holding the Tower of London together for nearly a thousand years, I get teary-eyed and stupid. When I think of gazing at Big Ben with my own eyes, I get all teary-eyed and stupid. When I think about what it might smell like to have a plate of fish and chips cooking in the pub, I get all teary-eyed and stupid. You see where I'm going with this, don't you?

I must go. It's not an option. I have to go before I die. It's on my "Bucket List". It's the only dream vacation I've ever wanted. Maybe now is the time.

If you feel so inclined, would you please pray that if it is indeed my time to take this trip that things would fall into place easily. Also, please pray that we would have safe travels, a safe and reliable plane and a competent and experienced flight crew. That our lodging would be safe and reputable. That our foot travels around the city and through "The Tube" would be safe, as well as any other things I'm forgetting right now.

I'll be sure to keep y'all updated about whether or not this comes to fruition.

Thank you, Mr. Siegel for helping me see and live history in your classroom and for making it really interesting and a fun learning environment.

And I can't help but add one last line, just for The Boy and Fancy. They'll understand it better than anyone:

"This is gon' be tha best trip evur!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One hundred

This past Tuesday was the 100th day of school for Poodle and Slick. Slick had to bring in 100 of any one item around the house. He chose to bring in 100 popcorn kernels. I suppose it would have been frowned upon to bring in 100 towels. (Not that I have 100 towels.) At any rate, Slick brought home a paper he'd completed during that day's school work. It tickled me when I read some of his responses. I'm listing them here for your enjoyment, and also to preserve the memory of what was said, as paper items tend to get lost around this joint. Slick's replies will be in bold. All spelling and grammar are his.

1. If I had 100 dollars I would buy grocries with them.

2. If I had 100 pencils I would bring 98 home.

3. If I had 100 mosquito bites I would die.

4. If I had 100 friends I would play with them.

5. If I had 100 legs I would act like a octopus.

6. If I had 100 eyes I would see very good.

7. If I had 100 stuffed animals I would play with them.

8. If I had 100 Webkins I would be awesome.

9. If I had 100 Legos I would be happy.

10. If I had 100 Wii and DS games I would play all of them.

Oh to be a kid again.