I don’t want candy. I want sleep.

My parents live in a neighborhood that gets bombarded with trick-or-treaters every year. I’m not anti-Halloween. I’m really not. I loved trick-or-treating. I admittedly participated in trick-or-treating longer than I should have in life. It’s a fun holiday. However, my parents donated candy to the big fall festival at church last night and nobody felt like spending more money on candy for tonight. You could really spend a small fortune for the number of trick-or-treaters that come down their street and it looks like their candy allotment was well spent on the event at the church.

If I’d had things my way tonight, I would have stayed in and watched a couple of shows on Netflix or worked on some sock monsters. Pajamas would have come early. Bed would be less than an hour away at this point. But like I said, Westlakes is one of the hottest tickets in town on Halloween night. There was a lot of doorbell ringing in our future had we stayed at home and only enough candy for about twenty kids, so we hightailed it out of there and came to Melissa’s house.

Pros: S’mores, lots of sweet puppy kisses from Sayid, and avoiding the crowd in Westlakes.

Cons: Freezing, being sleepy, smelling like a barbecue pit, and finding marshmallow goo in my hair post-s’more.

It’s been a long week. I took a short nap yesterday afternoon before the Saints game and was so tired that I woke up to my alarm five minutes before the game feeling disoriented and it took a few seconds to figure out where I was. It has been that kind of week – all week long. I need a hot shower & a warm bed, stat. Let’s wrap this up, little ghosts and goblins. This grown-up needs to go back to her Mama’s and Daddy’s house so she can go to bed. I feel like the cranky old fart ready to holler at some kids to get off my (parents’) lawn. Bless. Shower & sleep, please come quickly.


My Mama Needed An Intervention

You would think my mother grew up during the Great Depression. This woman hates to throw something away. She will keep food items until they change colors and grow hair and she has no choice but to throw them away. I distinctly remember her once pulling out a small container and saving roughly three green beans that hadn’t been eaten at supper that night. We still tease her over the three green beans and sometimes quickly dispose of leftovers if it’s the equivalent of three green beans so she doesn’t dirty up a container & clutter up the fridge for something so small. We just have to be sly about it.

A few weeks ago on my way home from work, I stopped for a few items to take to put in my fridge at the office – yogurt, Lunchables (gross, I know), a block of cheese, etc. I had one grocery bag that had items requiring refrigeration and I remember hoping I could find a place in my mom’s fridge to store it overnight. Thankfully, I found a place, but it’s not always an easy task.

Earlier this week, my dad looked in the pantry and said, “I wish she’d go through and throw some of this away.” Indeed.

This morning, Mama told me that she wanted me to teach her how to make granola. We want to make it this weekend, so I needed to dig through that overcrowded pantry and figure out what we have and what I need to buy. This was my golden opportunity. I started at the top and worked my way down. We found lots of things that expired over the past few years. Also, apparently my mom went through a phase of having good intentions of making dozens of batches of chocolate chip cookies a few years ago. I can’t tell you how many expired bags of chocolate chips we threw away. During this whole process, I pulled items down and Mama stood behind me, throwing the expired items (two full garbage sacks of them) away and keeping the good stuff on the counter top. Then we reorganized. It looks great. I can’t wait for Daddy to see it when he gets back.

While we were on a roll, I suggested we move on to the fridge. Two expired cream cheese containers, three expired boxes of Velveeta cheese (which, I have to admit kind of disturbs me, because let’s be honest, that is not how cheese is supposed to look), and a shriveled bag of grapes later, we were almost finished. I have to say, I was feeling pretty impressed that Mama’s fridge wasn’t worse. But then it happened.

We moved on to the bins in the door. I picked up a jar of dark brown liquid that resembled soy sauce.

Me – “What is this?”

Mama – “Oh, that’s the stuff Mrs. Marilyn and I made in that class we took!” 

Me – “The class you took in Shreveport?”

Mama – “Yep!” (laughing)

Me – “The class you took in the town we moved away from in 1992?”
Mama – “Yep!” (still laughing)

I am thankful to report she immediately threw it away. That jar of stuff has been sitting in my mother’s fridge for the past 22 years. TWENTY-TWO YEARS. I thought tossing things that expired in 2010 was bad. The earliest before that was a couple of Kool-aid packets from 2007. But wow. 1992. I did not see that coming.

Singleness – The Frequently Asked Questions & Comments

Lately I have been hit with a barrage of questions and comments regarding my single status. Some have been from friends and coworkers and some from people who barely know me. Some have been from inquisitive children. I’ve been fielding questions and hearing opinions left and right. I’ve started feeling like I need to create a pamphlet of frequently asked questions to keep in my purse so I can just answer it all with one quick pass of a paper. But for now, since I don’t have it in my budget to have my pamphlets printed, let’s just address these concerns here.

“When are you getting married?”
It would be awfully presumptuous to set a date. Step one would be to meet the man I am to marry. So far that has not happened. So, I do not know when/if I am getting married. Also, let me add, this question is best reserved for an engaged couple so the questioner can get an actual answer. Otherwise, it just makes the questioner look ignorant and the answerer feel awkward. Instead of smiling an awkward smile & saying, “Oh, well, uh, I don’t know…”, I’m tempted to throw a date out there – “September 17, 2017! Save the date!” Or better yet, I just want to ask, “Is that a real question, because the ring finger on my left hand looks awfully naked to me.”

“Why aren’t you married?”
Well, I haven’t met him yet. Maybe I will some day. Maybe I won’t. But until and unless I do, marriage is just not going to happen. The meeting is an essential first step.

“You should be married.”
Thanks, I guess, but I’m not.

“I mean … there’s nothing wrong with you!”
Thanks! I tend to agree! I think I’m alright!

“You’re an old maid!”
There are so many things wrong with this statement. Can we please move away from this antiquated phrase that conjures up images of moseying out to the barn at sunrise in my Little House on the Prairie dress and bonnet to milk the cows & slop the hogs… and then coming in and Ma and Pa will scramble the eggs I bring in from the chicken coop and we can go wash our clothes by hand in the creek? Old Maid. Wow. I don’t feel old. I also don’t feel like a maid. I’m just single. And that’s okay.

“You better get married & pop out some kids before it’s too late!”
Thanks for the visual! Strangely, birthing babies has never been too high on my list of things I want to accomplish, so I’m okay not popping any out. More power to all the women who do, but they are stronger than me, I can assure you. If I ever have children, I would be more than happy to adopt them. In fact, adoption appeals to me much more than pregnancy, childbirth, etc. I think adoption is beautiful.

“I know you got burned once before, but you can’t just give up on all men. There are some good guys out there.”
I haven’t given up on all men. I know there are some good ones out there. My college crowd comes to mind. I have a whole slew of male college friends who are wonderful men, husbands, and fathers. And I have lots of female college friends who have married great guys. They absolutely exist. I know lots and lots of them! The “burn” I experienced was heartbreaking. Did it make me gun shy about wanting to be in a relationship again? Definitely. I had all the heartbreak fun I could stand. But the broken heart was not due to having been in a relationship with a bad guy or a jerk. He wasn’t. He was a very good part of my life and I have nothing bad to say about him.

“Are you ever going to experience this?” (Said while questioner rubbed her own pregnant belly.)
Well, I don’t know. It’s not really in my plans. And – again, I am much more drawn to adoption than childbirth.

“You look young. You could probably date a really young guy … like a 24 or 25 year old.”
Thanks, but I’m not looking for a man child; I’d prefer an actual man. One of the great things about being single into my 30s is that if I do find him, he will likely know how to wash a dish, cook a meal or two, and wash a load of laundry. And I, on the other hand, can mow a yard and am planning to learn how to change the oil in my car. Skills, people. Life skills.

“You could always get artificial insemination.”
*** insert crickets chirping here ***
I’m good, thanks.

“I’m just waiting on a great guy to come and sweep you off your feet and you’ll get married and live happily ever after.”
That’d be cool – I mean, he’s welcome to come along – but I’m not holding my breath.

“Your Daddy has ruined you for all men!”
This may be true, in a sense. I know what a good man looks like, because I was raised by one, so I am definitely picky when it comes to character. I know how a good man treats his family and how he treats waitresses in restaurants and cashiers at Walmart. Until I come across a single guy where there is mutual interest and he makes me laugh, loves Jesus, is financially responsible, treats people kindly, works hard at whatever he does, and whose character looks an awful lot like my Daddy’s, we can just all assume I’ll stay single. I’m sure there are men out there who fit that description, but they’re few and far between, and the vast majority of them are already married. So let’s say my Daddy has ruined me for most men, and I’m okay with that. Maybe the right one will come along. Maybe not. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. But I can guarantee that unless he pulls the wool over my eyes in a major way, I won’t end up married to a jerk.

My friend, Amber, who is also single, and I stayed the weekend with a mutual friend. As we were about to go to sleep Friday night, we were talking about how we’ve gotten kind of set in our ways. Even the idea of dating is not all that appealing. Amber said, “I want to do what I want to do. I want to come home after work and cook what I want to cook for dinner, and then watch what I want to watch on Netflix in my pajamas, and go to bed. If someone wants to do that exact same thing, he’s welcome to come along.” This made me laugh out loud. She talked about how all these guys on the dating websites have profiles stating they only eat vegetables and love draft beer. They love camping and hiking and working out in the gym and want to find a woman to backpack across Europe. Also, they hate TV. These guys sound like adventure-man caricatures. Where are the normal good guys who go to work and then just want to relax with a good meal and Netflix at the end of the day? We decided we’d fight over the same regular guy, so we need to find brothers who were raised right. Indeed, Amber.

I realize it’s odd to be single at my age. This isn’t what I thought my life would look like in my mid-thirties, but life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan. Life is good though. It frustrates me on behalf of myself and my handful of (still) single friends around my age when we are made to feel lacking because we don’t have spouses and children. Thankfully, not many people in my life have this attitude – or if they do, they don’t make it obvious to me – but every so often I come across someone who seems to think it is a sad, meaningless existence to be single & childless. I think marriage and children are a great blessing in life, but there are many other blessings. Even being single at 34 with my only “child” being the overweight six year old Boxer snoring at my feet, my life is not without purpose or joy or accomplishment. My single friends are some of my favorite people in the world and their lives are extremely valuable.

It seems so easy for some who are married and/or parents of children to make demeaning comments to those who aren’t. I don’t think these comments are made maliciously the vast majority of the time, but they can sometimes feel very degrading. I think it’s probably similar for couples with more than one child to make comments to couples who are either childless – “When are you going to have a baby?!” – or who only have one child – “When are you going to give _______ a brother or sister?!” It could be that this couple desperately wants a child or a second child and it just hasn’t happened. Most couples deal with this privately, but when put on the spot with the question, they’ll likely smile and laugh it off and give one of those expected answers. I think it’s safe to say that most single folks wouldn’t really prefer to live life alone, but it’s just their reality. Conceiving a child doesn’t come as easily for some couples as it does for others, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at all. Finding the love of one’s life doesn’t always happen when you’re twenty-two, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at all. I wish we’d all not be so quick to assume everything in life comes easily to everyone and that they’re weird if they don’t have the things that the American Dream says they should have by a certain point in life. Things aren’t always as they appear.

I’m 34 and I’m not married. I’m also not willing to settle just so I can check “marriage” off the list of things I’d like to accomplish in life and finally fit into some social norm that society has set for a woman of my age. I’ll be the “old maid” in messy ponytails and Chuck Taylors who looks young for her age, I suppose. Laura Ingalls can keep her full length floral dresses and farm animals. My crystal ball doesn’t work, so I guess I’ll just have to see how this life plays out. This is simply what my life looks like right now and I’m okay with that. God has never forgotten me. I’m just single.

Baskin Robbins and LSU-S

Last week, some coworkers and I stopped by Baskin Robbins for some ice cream after an out-of-town training we had to attend. This evening, my mom and I were in Shreveport and Mama mentioned LSUS. Those two places – Baskin Robbins and LSU-Shreveport – always bring back a childhood memory for me. It’s one of my earliest and most favorite memories of my sister, Ashley.

Ashley is ten years older than I am. There are only two years separating Melissa and me, so she and I were trusty sidekicks and partners in crime as kids. We were almost always together and spent the expected amount of time pestering our older sister. We came along after Ashley had been raised as an only child for years, so you couldn’t blame her if she ever wanted a break from us.

One day during the summer after fourth grade, I remember being so bored. Melissa was babysitting Brooke and Brandon across the street, and for some reason, I wasn’t allowed to go over there that morning. Playing with Jennifer and Johnathan must not have been an option. I was just bored. It was a sunny summer day and I had nobody to play with. I remember I was sprawled out across Daddy’s recliner feeling sorry for myself. I was ten. Ashley was twenty and could have easily and understandably not paid any attention to me, but she did. She passed through the living room where I was having my pity party and told me she had to go out to LSUS for something and asked if I wanted to go with her.

I absolutely wanted to go with her. It was something to do and I thought it was pretty cool that I was going to go out to the college with my big sister. We got in her red 2-door Ford Escort and listened to 80s hair bands like Guns n’ Roses and Def Leppard on our drive. She showed me around the LSUS campus a bit. Then on the way home, we stopped at Baskin Robbins and she bought me a scoop of peanut butter chocolate ice cream. I remember digging into my scoop of ice cream with my little pink spoon and feeling pretty special that my big sister had spent the day with me.

Ashley probably doesn’t even remember that day, but I remember it in more detail than most days when I was ten. I guess you never know what experiences might take root in a kid and stick around. My college student sister took notice of bored little ten year old me and rescued me from a lonely day. I can’t see a Baskin Robbins or hear someone say “LSUS” without remembering how lucky I felt that day.

The Good Stuff

Several things have crossed my mind lately that I’m grateful for. They’re nothing major; they’re mostly just simple pleasures, but I find that if I take the time to write them down, I can refer back when I’m in a funk and it’ll serve as a good reminder of all the good I’ve got, because I really do have a big helping of the good stuff.

Yesterday I came home to find that a dear friend of mine had mailed me a surprise – a simple gift that made her think of me (and I love it) and a thoughtful card (thoughtful to the extent it made my eyes water). That’ll brighten a day. Thanks, friend. You know who you are.

On the days Sayid is with me, he sleeps on his chair in my bedroom at night. When I wake up in the morning and hear him snoring – really, that boy can saw some logs – it makes me smile. And if it’s really loud, it makes me laugh. That’s a good way to start a morning. One morning a couple of weeks ago, the first sound I heard upon waking up was Sayid passing gas. That one really made me laugh and shake my head. Kind of gross, I know, but if you know this dog, you understand. My sweet boy has brought so much joy in the past six years and God worked it out for us to get him at the perfect time. That silly, rotten pup was the perfect cure for mending a heart. Goodness, I love him.

I love blankets. I don’t think you can ever have too many blankets. When I moved back to my parents’ house, I reluctantly packed most of my blankets to put in storage, but I kept two with me – my Louisiana Tech sweatshirt blanket (old faithful!) and my quilt. I put a lot of time into making that quilt top a couple of years ago and then my sweet Mama surprised me by finishing the edges of it last Christmas. That project was stalled out, unfinished for so long. I have looked forward to having an entire fall/winter season where I could just curl up under my quilt. During our recent Netflix marathon of The Blacklist, I got to do just that. There’s just something extra special about that particular blanket, so I was well aware of the moment – watching a great show, comfy on the couch, under my quilt. My quilt.

My dad’s commentary on commercials makes me laugh. He almost always has his living room television tuned into Fox News, so he sees a lot of the same advertisements repeated. When a commercial really irritates him for some reason, he likes to call our attention to it when it comes on. “Watch this guy!”, he’ll say. He’ll quote the dialogue in a mocking tone before the actors ever get around to saying their lines. He’ll roll his eyes and sigh and say things like, “I can’t stand this guy!” or “Watch how goofy this man is!” or my personal favorite, “What a dork!” Daddy’s irritation equals our entertainment. It is so funny to me. Every time another commercial comes along that gets under his skin, we know we are about to get a good laugh. His mother – my Memaw – was the same way, so I guess he gets it honest! Although, I don’t think Daddy has actually called Sonic, PC Matic, or the Medicare folks to voice his opinion. Memaw took it a step further than Daddy.

Sunrises. I guess I notice them more at my parents’ house because their dining room window faces the east and there’s a section at the top of the window that is always uncovered. There are no curtains up there at the top. So every morning when I walk through the kitchen, I notice the sunrise. A lot of mornings, I have walked to the window and peeked out to get a better view and admire it a little longer. It’s beautiful. I’m thankful to be taking notice because for years, I’ve missed it most mornings. It makes me look forward to the time change, because then the sun will rise earlier and then I will be more motivated to get up and take up running. At this point, I’d be running in the dark. But soon, I’ll have the opportunity to spend some quality time with a sunrise every morning, and that might be too good an opportunity to pass up. Not too long ago, I was outside when the sun was setting and it struck me that all over the world, everyone is blessed with a view like that. There are some beautiful skies to be seen in Louisiana, but my Compassion kids in Uganda and India and elsewhere get to see the creativity of God every morning and every night as well. I like that. What a gift.

Life sure is full of good stuff, isn’t it?