coffeesnob318: (Default)
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"Be good."

This is what my dad says at the end of every phone call. "Be good. I love you." And to the extent that he means "behave," I have, in many ways, gone out of my way NOT to follow this advice. But that's only a tiny part of what he means. What he means most of all by this advice is evident in the example he sets with his own life.

My dad is one of the kindest people I've met. He may react harshly at first out of passion or indignation, but compassion soon takes over. His heart is easily softened, especially when it comes to my sister and me. He is generous and loving. He's opinionated but fair. He's not always right, but he's humble enough to admit when he's not. And he makes me laugh. He's a good dad and a good man.

He's also good at everything he does. It's a little sickening. Every job he's ever had, whether it is a job he actually gets paid to do or just something he volunteered to do, he does well. And he's truly bothered by people who don't (or, rather, people who don't care or try). He used to run the sound system at his church. He actually reorganized the whole system so that it would work more efficiently. He would meet the choir or special guests speakers/musicians whenever they could meet to practice and make sure that they could be heard. Mom says that any time there is a squeak or feedback or lull that isn't supposed to be there, he flinches a little. He's stopped going back and taking over, at least. :)

In his professional life, he's been a farmer, a county commissioner, and a business owner. When he was county commissioner, the residents in his precinct knew that they could call him at any time (and they certainly did) if there was something wrong with their roads. And he would fix it. He would also spend extra time trying to figure out how to make it never happened again. I understand that it's easy with an elected position to make promises during the campaign and then run out of time to keep them. But my dad taught me that it's not as inevitable as most politicians would like us to believe.

When his step-dad retired, he passed on his dry cleaning business to my dad. Dad had been his assistant and knew the standard that Granddaddy had set, and he upheld that standard. Because he also understood the importance of having a good relationship with customers, he upheld that standard as well. I remember when another dry cleaner opened in our small town. They lost no time in pointing out that their prices were lower than my dad's prices. Naturally, several of his customers brought this to his attention, hoping to get him to lower his prices. He nicely told them that he stood by his prices, but if they were too high, they were welcome to take their business to the competition with no hard feelings. This was enough to settle the issue for most of them. But one lady kept badgering him. Finally, during one of her rants, he took some cash out of his pocket and placed it on the counter. When she abruptly stopped lecturing, he said, "Clearly, this is something that is very important to you. So I want you to go try out the competition. I'll even pay the first bill. This (indicating the money) should cover the cost to clean a dress shirt. I want you to know that this is not a dismissal; you have been a great customer for many years, and I appreciate that. But I want you to be happy with our service, and you're not happy. And I'd rather you be happy with the competition than unhappy with us." Within a week, she was back, happy as a clam to be one of my dad's customers. Apparently, the lower cost wasn't worth the extra shine that leaving the press on for a little long caused to her husband's trousers. Heh.

Honestly, this is all a little hard to live up to. And I know that it is not his intention to set such a daunting standard of excellence. Or maybe it is. Either way, it's too late to overcome it - I caught the bug. I forever want to live up to it. I want to be good, just like my dad.
coffeesnob318: (Default)
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My perfect meal basically is appetizers. I love antipasti nights. A few friends sharing a bottle (or four) of wine along with a spread of different kinds of breads and crackers, a cheese plate, some prosciutto, stuffed olives, roasted peppers, a simple bean salad or two, and tomatoes. For dessert, we'd have something light (because we certainly don't have much room left for anything heavy) like some kind of cookie with coffee.

I think I need to have an antipasti night soon.
coffeesnob318: (Default)
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Heh. "Don't take shit from any man."

There's actually a funny (well, funny now) story that goes along with this. In our family, it is still ominously referred to as The Foley's Incident.

The parents were in town for a visit one weekend, and we spent Saturday morning at my sister's apartment. I had been woken up about 7:00 a.m. with the cheery call from Dad that breakfast was ready. They, of course, had been up since 5:30. So I stumbled out of bed and walked over to Tammy's, where she was curled up in the fetal position on the couch, nursing a cup of coffee (odd, since she didn't really drink coffee at the time). Her roommate Michelle was more alert, having matched my parents cup for cup (not an easy task) and being a naturally upbeat, energetic sort of person, so she was carrying the conversation about her plans for her next mission trip. So we had breakfast and talked and watched TV for a while. When we talked about going for lunch, Mom mentioned that she needed some new shirts and maybe we should go shopping. We all agreed.

My mother is not fond of shopping. She also doesn't like crowds. Another thing that puts her on edge? Unfamiliar territory. Knowing this, one might think that going to a popular shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon would be a bad idea. Well, you know what? One wasn't there, and One hadn't just sat through five hours of HGTV, making anywhere but home in front of the television seem like a grand place to be.

So we drove to the mall. I say "we," because although I was in the driver's seat, I was definitely getting instruction from the back, particularly regarding the number of cars I allowed to be near me. Apparently, I have power to control traffic. On the freeway. On a Saturday.

We get to the mall and enter at the Foley's (it's a Macy's now) entrance, right by the shoe department. We look at shoes for a while and then wander into the clothes. The four of us - Mom, Dad, Tammy, and I - are talking and joking and having a fairly pleasant time. Then Mom sees something up ahead that she wants and I follow her to give my opinion. After a few minutes, we look around to get Dad and Tammy's opinion, and they are nowhere to be seen.

If you've never lived in West Texas, you may never have had the experience of the weather going from sunny and cool to tornadic and terrifying in the matter of a moment. Having grown up in West Texas, however, I was familiar with this possibility. I believe that this experience prepared me for what happened next.

My mother's smile faded into tight lips barely concealing clenched teeth. When she spoke, it started as a hiss - "Where are they?" - but quickly escalated into a storm. "He knows I don't like doing this. He knows to stay close. He knows I don't know where I am. I HATE GETTING SEPARATED!!!"

I tried calling Tammy's cell, but of course, it went straight to voicemail, because Tammy's cell phone philosophy is that it is for her convenience alone and therefore is turned off unless she wants to use it. Meanwhile, people around us were starting to stare at the very angry woman yelling at her daughter. It was a fair assessment - she was yelling, she was looking at me, she was pointing at me for emphasis. This might have been more mortifying for a normal person, but like I said - familiar.

We turned the corner, and Tammy, blissfully ignorant of what was to come, jumped out playfully and said, "Surprise!" One look at my face, though, and she ducked back in between the clothing racks and grabbed Dad and pulled him out into the aisle. Mom just looked at him and said, "We're going." He asked if we had found anything, and she just repeated, "We. Are. Going. NOW."

We walked in silence to the car. We drove in silence back to Denton. We briefly discussed dinner plans and settled on Applebees. Then we arrived at Applebees, were seated at our table, and continued to sit. In silence.

Our waiter walked up to the table, friendly and chatty, and ended his monologue with, "So how are we doing tonight?"


At this point, I looked around the table at Dad and Tammy looking down at the table and Mom glaring off into the distance, and the utter absurdity of the afternoon hit me. I smiled and replied, "We're fine. You're doing great."

We ordered food, and Mom ordered a milkshake (so we could look forward to a headache from all the sugar - she's diabetic - to add to her already pleasant demeanor. Excellent.), and we finished dinner really quickly. Dad left that waiter a big tip.

We drove back to the apartment - in silence - and Mom had the door open and her foot on the ground before I had the car in park. She slammed the car door and marched quickly enough to get to the apartment before we did but slowly enough for us to notice her slamming the apartment door before we got there. She's always had impeccable timing.

We walked into the apartment to see Michelle sitting in a chair, reading a book, looking startled that Mom didn't answer her chipper "How was shopping?" query. Tammy went to her room and shut the door. I was barely suppressing a laugh but did so long enough to make an excuse about having to do laundry, and Dad followed me out to "help," leaving sweet, unsuspecting Michelle alone in the living room with my fuming mother.

Once we were outside, my dad asked me, "Is your mom mad about something?" After thirty-something years of marriage, apparently he didn't "know." So I explained it to him, and he agreed that she needed some cooling off time and came with me to my apartment.

About an hour later, we got a call from Michelle. She was whispering. "I don't know what happened today, but you need to get back over here. I just got a forty-five minute lecture on not taking shit from any man. It was inspiring and scary all at the same time. I've never heard your mother cuss like that! But she's very riled up. I can't believe you all left me alone with her!!!"

"Michelle, where are you, and why are you whispering?"

"I'm in my bathroom. I don't want her to hear just in case it upsets her again. I don't know what to do, but I'm not coming out until you get here."

So my dad and I went back over and found Mom calmly making a sandwich. I started making coffee. She said, "Tammy's in her room. I don't know where Michelle went."

I calmly replied, "She's in her bathroom, hiding from you."

Mom looked at me and burst out laughing. "I guess I was a little intense. Poor Michelle."

"Yes, poor Michelle, indeed." Our laughter brought everyone out of hiding, and we enjoyed a peaceful evening.

*sigh* I love that story.

And I love my mom. She is quick-tempered, intense, sometimes irrational, and particular. She is also able to laugh at herself and admit when she's being quick-tempered, intense, and irrational (being particular, she's proud of and has proudly passed it on to both of her daughters). She has beaten breast cancer and nursed my dad back to health when he beat prostate cancer. And because she learned early not to take shit from any man, she chose a great man to whom, next year, she will have been happily married for fifty years. She has taught me strength and courage and how to be true to myself. I wouldn't be who I am without her.
coffeesnob318: (Default)
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I would be orange (and no, not just because it's my favorite color). Orange suits my personality. It's the color of fire. I get riled up. I am passionate and I can easily work up a pretty fiery rant about the things that stir that passion.

But it's also the color of sweet potatoes (they're like me because they're sweet, see? Heh.). And butternut squash. It's homey and warm and hospitable and nourishing. I hope that these are things that describe me as well.

I used to want a guy who'd be blue. Not blue as in sad (although I believe the occasional melancholy can really grow a soul, and I enjoy a fella with soul). Blue as in relaxing. Calming. Laid back and easy to get along with. Like a waterfall or a stream. A go with the flow sort of guy. Deep, like the ocean. Refreshing and sensual, like the rain. And that sounds pretty great, actually. I'd like a guy who is like that. But is he my ideal mate? I'm not so sure.

More and more, I think I'd prefer a guy who's red. Red is very similar to orange. They have a lot in common. Red is vibrant and outgoing. Red's not afraid of fire, so unlike waters of blue, it's not tempted to put it out. In fact, red jumps right in to the midst of the flames.

But red is also my favorite kind of wine. Smooth and mellow. Someone I would enjoy sharing an evening and a home with. I can see my favorite red and I having some friends over for dinner, and the red fits right in, all homey and warm and hospitable. Not to mention how warm and hospitable the red inspires me to be in return. Red is all kinds of passion.

Orange and Red.
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Does my metabolism count as "looks?" Because, technically, that has more to do with health. I feel like I work so hard and lose weight so slowly. It's not that I don't want to work for it - I want the satisfaction of accomplishing weight loss - I just wish it weren't so difficult.

Sometimes I wish I weren't so sensitive to things like violence or sad stories. I mean, a little (read: normal) sensitivity is good. I don't want to be totally desensitized to these things. I just want to finish Lost (about to start the last season...I'm a little sad to see it end) or watch the news without having nightmares.

I also wish I were more trusting. I'm starting to realize that trust isn't really about whether the other person is trustworthy but more about whether I'm open to taking a chance that they are. Eventually, everyone I know is going to let me down in some way, and I'll let them down, too. We humans tend to be flawed that way. But that doesn't mean I can never trust them at all. *shrug* I'm getting better at it. I'm more trusting than I was five years ago.

Overall, though, I'm pretty satisfied with who I am and the process I have gone through to get there.
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I'm giving up cussing for Lent. To those of you around whom I, for whatever reason, don't cuss a lot, this may seem like a copout. But many of you will understand that this is actually a challenge for me (also, I heard that sigh of know who you are...don't get smug). I've been "practicing" the last couple of days, and I'm not gonna lie - it's been difficult, and I have failed miserably. The level of mindfulness this feat will require is going to take a lot of energy. I also suspect that it will turn out that it really isn't about the cussing itself. It may have more to do with listening and temper-controlling and patience-growing and other such nonsense by the time all this is through. I'm curious to see what the season brings.

I've observed Lent for the past 15 years or so. The first time was with my roommate the second year that I lived in Clark, and it was such a good experience that I have been doing it every year since then. Even when I wasn't having a lot to do with church and God, I still fasted from something during Lent. Until recent years, I didn't tell anyone, because I'm not really part of a religious tradition that observes Lent, so it's difficult to explain why it's important to me when my particular experience does not follow an organizational structure. I still try to avoid these conversations with people who are from such religious traditions, because they know exactly why they are fasting and can articulate these reasons clearly (which I appreciate and respect), whereas my attempts at explanation are, in keeping with the rest of my spiritual life, often vague and full of mystery. I admit - I'm a sucker for mystery. There is a freedom in being able to say, "I don't know," instead of needing to understand the significant meaning in everything just so that I don't feel foolish *cough*ouch my pride*cough* when it turns out to be helpful. For every answer, I have about a thousand questions. This is apparently quite offensive to some people. I usually listen to the rant (and I usually enjoy it - learning is fun), but I often disappoint when I will neither argue nor forsake the mystery for the sake of diplomacy. Some things are too precious to fight about.
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Eeyore. A thousand times Eeyore. An elevator is too small a space to even ride in with Tigger, much less be trapped in. I would prefer Tigger out in the open, though - like in a field. I like both characters, and I think too much of either (especially to the exclusion of the other) would be equally annoying. I think real characters (i.e., people) tend to be a mix of both sides. If I had to be trapped in an elevator with someone, I choose people.

So I have come to the very quick conclusion that 1,000 words a day is too daunting when I don't have an overall plot and thus have the expectation that I'm going to have to come up with something new every single day. Some days, Hemingway only was able to write about two sentences. Of course, Hemingway eventually shot himself. Maybe I should find another example. Anne Lamott is a healthier role model. I'll go with her. I'm reading through Bird by Bird again, and that's helping me summon up the desire to write. I've been more lax on both writing and reading this year than I have before. It's just hard to concentrate. November may be a very frustrating month for me.

But I'm here. And I wrote something, even if it was short. And it didn't take me five hours to do it.

On another note - yay Chuck and Heroes. *hearts*


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May 2013

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