From Tracie: February 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Mountain Of Coke

One of the best things about having a kid who reads is having a good excuse to get copies of all your old childhood favorites and re-reading them.

One of the weird things about doing that is reading those books from the perspective of an adult. Especially in books that were published more than fifty years ago.

In Henry Huggins, Beverly Cleary references (three times!) Henry going to the pet store to buy horse meat for his dog. This sparked a very special conversation with Katarina, who was not aware horses were ever used for dog food.

That was easier to explain than this little gem found on page 51 of The Borrowers:
The Borrowers Cover Art
Two borrowers, Pod and Homily (if you haven't read the books, you should be imagining very little people living under the floorboards of a house in England), are having a conversation about other borrower families traveling over the fields to move to another house,
"And what did they find there?" asked Pod unkindly, "A mountain of coke!"
A mountain of coke!

Such a special moment in children's literature. Thanks for that Mary Norton.

I'm hoping that a mountain of coke was a different thing in 1950s England.

Have you been surprised to find a book you loved as a child wasn't exactly the way you remembered it when you re-read it as an adult?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Knew There Was Something Wrong When...

Memories of my dad:
I was 10. I went with you to a photographer's studio so you could fix his computer. The photographer spent a lot of time staring at me, and kept talking about having you dropping me off one day so he could take pictures of me.

I did not fully understand why I felt uncomfortable with him, but I knew I did not want him to look at me, talk to me, or take my picture. I read my book and tried to ignore him.

You did not take me back for the private photo session (for which I am grateful), but you also didn't stop the conversation or the leering during that trip to the studio, or during subsequent trips to work on his computer.

I was 13. We would stop at a certain gas station when you took me home from school. It was owned by a family who had a 20-something son who was interested in me. He never missed out on an opportunity to come out from behind the counter and hug me when we came in the store. He put his arm around me and tried to direct me toward the dark corner behind the drink case. I told him no once, and he ignored me - you stood there and did nothing.

When I was going on a band trip to Tampa, he wanted to come along and show me the city. You said it sounded like a great idea. Thankfully he did not show up in Tampa.

I did not like going into that store. The son scared me, his family's encouragement made me nervous, and your refusal to say anything to stop it hurt. In fact, you liked to tease about how he liked me, even after I told you he made me uncomfortable.

We continued to go to that store most afternoons. I was so happy when they went out of business, because I would not have to see him, or be touched by him anymore.

I was 14. We gave my friend rides to school every other morning. I let her sit in the front seat, because your car was such a mess. One Monday I noticed that you were holding her hand, and rubbing her arm. I tried to get her to sit in the back seat with me the next time we drove her, on Wednesday, but there was no room.

Wednesday morning, you took one of her rings and said you wanted to wear it to see how it felt (never mind the fact that you hadn't worn any ring, including your wedding ring for years because of an "allergic reaction to metal on your hands"). You wore her ring as you waved goodbye to us at a school.

After I realized you were still wearing her ring on Thursday night, I cleaned the back seat of the car, making enough room to fit another person. When we got out of the car on Friday morning, I reminded you to return her ring. From that day, I always found a reason to have my friends sit in the back seat with me if we gave someone a ride.

I was 19. Thomas asked to speak with you. I eavesdropped through an open window. He told you that he loved me, and wanted your permission to ask me to marry him. You responded, "You will need someone to keep you warm at night." I think that response speaks for itself.

I have been thinking about my dad the last three weeks, because he called me on my birthday. A phone call that I still haven't fully processed. It was the first time we have talked in over six years. For now, I am just thankful I have stopped having anxiety attacks each time the phone rings, wondering if it will be him on the other line, calling again.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Note From My Sickbed

I have been sick all weekend, and a lot of NyQuil probably went into what I am going to type next...

After I complained that my medicine isn't working, and I still feel yucky. My husband insists that having sex would make me feel completely better and I would get well quicker.

Ladies, am I alone? Or does your husband say things like this, too?

Help me! (and send crackers and lots of tissues)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

She Told Me I Could Write

In an elementary school where speaking was not encouraged, or often allowed, I was a terrified kid who slipped in and out like a shadow. I do not remember a teacher who had an inspirational moment with me, and I am sure I did not make an impression that would cause any of them to think of me now. 

Other than a middle school band director who was encouraging to me musically, and one teacher who hated me, it wasn't until high school that I had a teacher who even noticed I was sitting in the room. 

She was my 10th grade English teacher. She told me I could write. She said I needed to work on it, but there was something inside of me. 

Journal and Leaf

It happened after I turned in a piece of creative writing homework. I had tackled the writing, not staying within the bounds of the assignment. For the first time in my life, I wrote something I wanted to write (not something that had been prompted and constrained by a teacher's assignment). As I turned it in, I fully expected to receive a failing grade, but I really didn't care. I had written the story in my mind.

The next day it was returned, marked with a big red D and, "See me after class." She explained that the D was for my failure to follow directions, but she loved what I had written. She wanted my permission to submit it to a state writing contest. 

I don't know what happened to my story. I assume it did not win, because I never heard any news about it. But it was near the end of my high school career, (the last day I attended school being sometime in my third month of 10th grade) so there was not much chance of her contacting me.

That story was the last time I wrote anything, other than journal entries, until I started this blog.

I thought of her today when I was reading a book about writing. She not only noticed me sitting in her classroom, she saw me - at least the small amount that I was willing to reveal. She told me I could write (I wasn't sure I believed her at the time, but I wanted it to be true more than I was willing to admit). She took an interest in my thoughts. I didn't fully understand, until I remembered this exchange tonight, how much that meant to me. 

Did you have a special teacher who noticed your gifts and encouraged you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How (NOT) To Bowl

Bowling is...
Family fun. An excuse to throw heavy objects, and knock stuff over.
Bowling Balls

An opportunity to wear shoes that have been worn by hundreds of people before you.
Bowling Shoes

We went bowling last week. It was our first time bowling as a family. 

This is how you hold the bowling ballAiming the bowling ball

Thomas taught Katarina how to pick up and hold the ball correctly; how to aim and throw the ball. I took a lot of pictures, ignored all of his instructions, and wondered why all of the eight pound bowling balls were orange instead of yellow.

Thomas pointing to the bowling lane

Thomas and I have different approaches to bowling. 

This is Thomas bowling...

Here I am getting ready to bowl...
Tracie holding a bowling ball

I have a special bowling technique. A photograph can't fully express my amazing bowling, so for you to be able to see why Thomas looks like this after I take my turn at the lane...
Head in hands

...I made you a video of our bowling fun:

What have I learned about bowling?
  • When the bowling ball hits the lane, it should not bounce.
  • It doesn't help me bowl better when the bowling snobs one lane over say, "WOW, that ball hits really HARD when she throws it!" in loud whispers (with exasperated sighs and rolled eyes) each time I take my turn.  
  • Having the lane all the way on the end of the row is good, because there is 50% less chance of my ball flying into a neighboring lane.
  • If we plan on making this a regular family activity, I should probably invest in some lessons - or some earplugs.
But all of this doesn't really matter, because I don't go to the bowling alley for the bowling. I go to the bowling alley for the food.
Bowling Alley Food - hot wings, nachos, cheese fries

Are you a bowler? 
Does the ball cause a sound like a small earthquake when you throw it?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bein' Quirky

I can watch this clip from Saturday night's SNL over and over again, and never tire of it.

That is all I have for you today - some laughs to start your week. 
Happy Monday.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Where I Answer 11 Questions While Pretending There Are 12 Questions

Teala (who has a great name and is with The Band - so clearly she is all sorts of awesome and must be obeyed) tagged me in this meme where I have to answer 11 questions. The fact that it is 11 questions is slightly driving me crazy, because it is not a round number but I am working through that (watch me grow, people, watch me grow).

1. If you were a book, what book would you be and why?
Does this question mean I have to pick one book - only one book? Because that might be impossible. I'm going to have to think about it for a very long time.

thinking. thinking. thinking...

If I was a book, I would be a library (that only marginally makes sense), because I am a woman of many stories.

2. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
I tried one of those celebrity facial recognition look-alike things once, and according to that thing, it would be Scarlett Johansson. But if I can pick anyone I want, I want Zooey Deschanel.

3. If you could live anywhere, where would you live? Why?
Narnia. Because obviously.

Wait. Did you mean a real or a realer place (I like to believe Narnia is real, but maybe not realer - which is a word I just made up to indicate "believed to be real by the majority of people")?

Because if you want a realer place, I pick England.

4. What is your favorite story or joke to tell? 
When I was growing up, my dad had this great joke about a brick. It is really long, and crazy, and actually pretty annoying - but I still love it. Unfortunately, it is one of those jokes that doesn't work well in written form, so Teala, you will just have to come visit me in person so I can tell it to you.

I also like to tell the story about the time my mom made me water dirt, but she has forbidden me to talk about it (doesn't she know that makes me want to tell it more?), so don't click on that link.

5. Do you like your name? Do you wish your name were something different? What would you name yourself?
I did not like my name when I was a kid, mostly because no one ever (even accidentally) spells it correctly. There was a few years when I would have happily changed it to Anne (spelled with an E!).  But I have made peace with that, and embrace the Tracie.

6. What is your favorite band/singer and song of theirs?
Rich Mullins. I have such a hard time picking favorites of anything, but I've been listening to a lot of The Color Green lately.

7. If you are currently wearing socks, what color are they? (I’m wearing one blue and one purple right now. What? I hate wearing matching socks.) 
This is a weird thing, because I do not often wear socks (unless I'm wearing sock-requiring shoes), but I happen to be wearing a pair right now. They are grey, with a row of little maroon flowers on a vine going up the sides.

I like my socks to match, but Katarina is down with the sock mis-matchment (I just made up that word), and is currently wearing one grey sock and one magenta sock.

8. In a battle, which would win: zombies or unicorns? 
Unicorns, obviously, because they would have The Band fighting on their side, and The Band kicks butt!

9. Who is your hero?
I can't answer this question, because it makes me want to sing The Wind Beneath My Wings, and then I will think about the movie Beaches, and that will make me cry - it is a whole slippery slope situation.

In seriousness, everyone who writes their stories at Band Back Together is a hero to me.

10. What would you do if you had millions of dollars?
I do not think about things like this, because I find it to be depressing.
(Are you trying to depress me, Teala?)

11. What’s the best fortune cookie fortune you’ve ever gotten?
I got this one the other day, and really liked it:

although I think it might be telling me that I'm a good liar, which is maybe not so nice.

12. Sadly, there is no question 12.
(I tried to leave that number 11 hanging there all by itself, but I just couldn't do it)

At this point I'm supposed to come up with my own 11 questions, and tag some of you nice bloggers to answer them. But I'm a rebel, and I won't do it. I do, however, want to see all of you answer Teala's all of you go do that now, please. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Love Of A Rainy Day

Rainy days are the perfect time to cuddle up with a book and some hot chocolate.
Or hot tea, or coffee....or ice cream, but that is another story all about how Thomas thinks I'm crazy to eat cold desserts when it is cold outside. 

rain on the umbrella

Rainy days are perfect for taking a walk with a polka dotted umbrella.
If you take a walk with a polka dotted umbrella when it isn't rainy, people will look at you funny. I possibly know this from personal experience.

Pink Polka Dot Umbrella

Rainy days are perfect adventure days.
I don't care if it is a cliche, I will read any story that begins on a rainy day, or a dark and stormy night.

Rainy days are not perfect for waiting on a bus.
But even waiting on a bus can be fun, especially if you have someone to share your polka dotted umbrella with you.

Waiting For A Bus
From this picture we can learn:  
On rainy days it is better if the taller person holds the umbrella.

Rainy days make me feel feelings more deeply, and think thoughts more thoughtfully.
If those feelings and thoughts turn dark, like the sky, I look for a rainbow.

you are beautiful, you are amazing

Rainy days are my favorite days.

What do you do on a rainy day?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Princesses and Love Letters

We did this last week (which explains why I don't have short hair going on in this picture), but it is still making me happy, and I have to share. Beauty and the Beast in 3D - totally worth it. Belle has always been my favorite princess.

Beauty and the Beast in 3D movie poster
(Yes, people gave us funny looks as we took this picture.
No, I didn't care.)

There are three important qualities about Belle that make her the best, and smartest Disney princess:
1. She is a brunette.
2. She loves books the way I love books.
3. She doesn't fall for the first good looking guy who came along asking her to marry him.

I remember going to see Beauty and the Beast in the theater when it first came out. I was eight years old, and it was magical. So it was really special that Katarina got to see it on the big screen at the same age (especially since it is her favorite, too).

And it is always nice to have a chance to rock those stylish 3D glasses, right? snort.

***Wait! There is one more happy thing!*** 
Amy Sullivan asked me to be a contributor to Love Letters to the Underloved, and it went live today. You can find my letter to survivors of abuse on page 15, and beautiful, encouraging letters from great writers on all the other pages. 

What is making you happy today?

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Music To Dust By

I had a phone call earlier this week. I keep trying to come up with words to describe it, but only weird seems to fit. The weirdness of the call aside, it has left me singing this song all week (which isn't at all a bad thing)...

When I was growing up, my dad had his music, and my mom had her music, and they were not often the same. Andrae Crouch crossed that divide. Dad liked him first, but by the time I was born, mom liked him too. She especially liked him on Saturday mornings, when it was time to clean the house.

Mom would crank up the Andrae Crouch music on the stereo, and she and I would vacuum and dust. This probably explains the whiff of lemony furniture polish and windex I think I smell sometimes when I hear this song. 

It is interesting the way music can take you back to a specific moment, and make those memories so vivid. Also music can soothe away the tension of even the weirdest of phone calls. I'm thankful for that this week.

Do you listen to specific music when you clean? 

This was my Sunday morning five minute stream of consciousness writing. Set the timer for five minutes...and go! 

Friday, February 03, 2012

Understanding Depression Led to Facing Sexual Abuse

One hot summer day, the kind of day when no one wants to leave the comforts of their air conditioners, the bookstore was completely empty, and we hadn’t had a customer for hours. I wandered to the biography section to re-alphabetize books and look for a new read. It was that day I came across a little book where the author shared about her experiences with depression. I skimmed through several chapters, and then hid it behind a stack of books. It scared me how much of my own life I saw reflected in her words.

Two weeks later, I was at another bookstore on my day off (bookstores are my very favorite places) and found another copy of that book. I wasn’t looking for it. It wasn’t even sitting in the right section. I re-shelved it, and left the store.

I couldn’t get away from that book about depression, though, because the next day at work someone came into my store looking for it. I finally bought a copy of my own to take home and read. But I went back to the other store to get it – not wanting my coworkers to see me purchase a book about someone with depression issues and start asking questions.

I still have my copy of that book. It is marked up, highlighted, the margins written in. If you look closely at those margins, there are small snippets of my abuse story written in code. Those snippets were the beginning of me admitting to myself what had happened in my childhood. I started counseling sessions soon after that...


I'm guest posting at Emerging From Broken today. Please visit me there to read the rest of the story, how understanding depression led me to face the reality of sexual abuse in my childhood, and what it was like to disclose the abuse for the first time - to someone who was not understanding or sympathetic.