Sunday, August 26, 2012

Possum Balls: A Story of Hope (and perhaps my best blog title ever)

If something was bad, I used to say it "sucked donkey butt." I don't know where that lovely expression came from, but it certainly has applied to the valleys of my life.

Let's face it, though. It's a crass expression; it's beneath me; and it's so 2008. As a pretend-writer, I need something much more ... poetic ... to sum up the past week.

Folks, the last week sucked possum balls.

I know. I know. I truly waste my talent here on the Porch. I should write for Hallmark.

Yes, I'm weary of my own complaining. I've worn myself out with it - and likely those who love me, too. At least I'm assuming that's why they automatically pour a glass of wine or hand me a cupcake when they see me. They know either of those will temporarily shut me up.

I was already working hard to embrace that whole it-is-what-it-is concept of life, when fate threw another curve ball. I'll spare the details for now, but trust me when I say it was one of those take-your-to-your-knees moments, when all the air in your lungs whooshes out at once, leaving you irrevocably altered. I hate those moments. They suck armadillo titties (too far? Really? Worse than possum balls?).

But this isn't about me. It really isn't. And believe it or not, this isn't a downer post.

This is a post of gratitude.

In the midst of a big, bad ol' storm, I found rays of light.

Anyone who knows my family knows that we have an irreverent sense of humor. I don't know where it came from, exactly. Perhaps it is genetic, or perhaps there is a gas leak in that big, old, rambling house we grew up in that resulted in permanent brain damage. Whatever the case, nothing is sacred with us. Nothing. I learned this week that not only will we do what is hard, but we will, somehow, find a way to laugh our way through it. Gallows humor is not for everyone, but it works for us.

It must be what inspired us to keep changing the dry-erase information board in a bleak hospital room this week, adjusting the patient's allowed activities to include "popping and locking" and "slip and slides." No, the nurses were not amused. But we were.

My family also spent some time each morning discussing stories in the local newspaper. One day, when I asked where an accident had happened, someone else misheard and thought I asked, "What were they wearing?"

That led to a discussion about how entertaining it would be if all news stories - instead of the who, what, where, when, why and hows - immediately reported on the outfits individuals involved in the event were sporting. This is where I should add that my family was in the newspaper business for a long time, so it's entirely possible we've absorbed too much newsprint ink.

Soon we began to make up news stories [insert Fox News joke here], including detailed descriptions of the subject's fashion ensemble:

President Obama announced today that a huge asteroid is slated to hit the Earth in December, most likely ending all life as we know it.
Obama was wearing gray, baggy sweatpants with a "Keep Your Pimp Hand Strong" t-shirt.
"This is a sad day for the world," Obama said, "But it's a pretty damn good day to be a Mayan."

Soon my mom and I had those cathartic, non-stop giggles, the kind that brings to mind that wonderful scene in Steel Magnolias when Clairee tells M'Lynn to hit Ouiser, and soon everyone is laughing through tears.

That's good stuff when you've had a week of a rotten stuff. It's the stuff of hope.

And I'll take that any day over possum balls and armadillo titties.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Blog-day to Me!

For my Porch Sitters, with love & jelly.
Guess what, y'all?

This is my 100th post! [cue wild applause, balloons, confetti and Michael Jackson dancing with Emmanuel Lewis. We all celebrate in our own way, people.]

According to Willard Scott, 100 is a big deal, worthy of jars of jelly goodness.

I also learned from Wikipedia that 100 is an anti-gonal number. Math was never my best subject, but I'm guessing that means 100 is a lesbian.

Most importantly, as someone who always dreamed about being A Writer but never quite made it there (read: spends too much time on the Internet), the 100th post says something to me. It mostly says, "Who the heck reads this stuff?!" You do, apparently. God bless you for that.

Still, I'll give myself a teeny-tiny bit of credit, since it's my happy blog-day. The 100th post also says I stuck with something.

Honestly, I began the Porch when I was lost. I didn't know where to go. I didn't know what to do.

Writing has always been a way of soul-searching for me, a way to sift, sort and, well, find my way.

Granted, I have spent most of my life writing in some form. When I graduated from college, I found ways to pay the bills by stringing sentences together in a mostly coherent way. For a while, I was a journalist (I don't like to brag, but I have interviewed both Pauly Shore and Pat Boone. It's okay to be super jealous). I also dabbled in marketing and public relations and even pretended to be a writing teacher for a while.

But I wasn't writing for me. I was telling stories, but not my own. The Porch was a way to change that.

At the time, I didn't know if anyone would ever read what I needed to say, but I knew -- way down deep in my polysorbate-coated-gut -- that it was time to write for myself. I even gave myself permission to write badly, as long as I was writing. The Porch, after all, has always been a playground for me.

Depending on my mood and the availability of my muse (she's flighty, that one), I have written silly things and not-so-silly things; bad poetry and self-indulgent prose (like this!). I am sometimes a mommy blogger; sometimes an ornery blogger (<--I like her); sometimes a casual explorer of life's randomness; and sometimes I've just had too much wine.

But the point is, thanks to the Porch, I found my way. I found a place where I belong.

I hope some of you have, too.

Some tell me I'm sappy; some tell me I'm vulgar. As long as I'm being told both, I figure I'm doing my job. I have conservative readers; liberal readers; gay readers; straight readers; old readers; young readers; guy readers; gal readers; Hatfield readers; and McCoy readers. I like to think that means that everyone can find something here, something that ties us all together in spite of our many differences (Hugh Jackman? I'm betting it's Hugh Jackman).

Thanks to those of you who have visited the Porch through the years. As unlikely as this is, some of you aren't even related to me. Google stats tell me that most of my readers are from the United States ('MERICA!). But I also routinely have Russian visitors. Maybe I am to Russia as David Hasselhoff is to Germany. Most likely, Russians read my blog to feel vastly superior to Americans, much like they did when their neighbor, Sarah Palin, was a vice-presidential candidate. Or maybe it's because of the dance I did that ended the Cold War.

No matter where you come from or what brought you here (took a wrong turn at the corner of bing and google?), I hope the Porch has been a welcoming place for you: a place to laugh, unwind and learn important facts about snack cakes - like how Ding Dongs tasted so much better in thin, foil wrappers.

To Southerners, porches are sacred places, where friends gather to sip and sit a spell (how long is "a spell"? That, my friend, depends on how much wine you have). Porches also are places to pause -- to breathe and soak up life. Thank you for being my guest and soaking up a little life with me.

To celebrate my 100th blog-day, I plan to eat jelly out of the jar. But since I do that every day, I also plan to officially call myself a writer now. Stop giggling. I'm gonna work it. I'm gonna work it so hard.

In between raising children whom I relish; working an important day job that I relish; and transitioning into my new life, that yes, I relish, I am going to write more. Notice I didn't say I'm going to find time to write more because I've looked for that time, and it obviously hides out with lost socks and gloves and great movies that star Jennifer Lopez. It doesn't exist.

But desire certainly does. I just have to match my passion with some work ethic and ba-da-bing! I'll be writing my 101th blog post in no time.

Like maybe next year.

Hey. I never set a deadline. There's way too much Internet out there for that. I'm going to open a jar of Smucker's and watch videos of cats walking on their hind legs now. It's how we party on the Porch.