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Archive for February, 2011

Are You Jealous?

I’ve had to ask myself this question recently, as I deal with yet another volley of meanness from my grouchy old aunt. She sent back my Christmas gift to her last weekend, her latest passive aggressive move. (Well, Andra SAID she wanted to read that book anyway, Linda, so I may as well send it back to her.)

People who live to try to make others unhappy are miserable. I understand. And, it is more magnanimous of me to feel pity instead of anger. I get that, too. Even though, in truth, I’m vacillating between the two right now.

How many relationships do we blow in our lives because of jealousy, because we are too busy wanting what someone else has to remember what we ourselves have? Throughout my life, I have to admit that I’ve been jealous of certain people who crossed my path. It is hard sometimes not to look at others who seem to have everything or who made choices I wish I could redo and not be bitten with a twinge or several.

And, I wish I could have every one of those encounters back. To be happy for others’ success when I struggled. To congratulate the person who got the part I wanted. To have peace in knowing that just because I was alone and others were coupled didn’t make them enviable or me worthless.

I hope I do not approach the end of life filled with bitterness and envy over anything. We all have things that torture and elude us, however we may seem on the surface, whatever we may allow others to glimpse. May I always remember that fact when I look upon others.

And be happy.

 

Too Much is Just Enough: Genuine Happiness for Others

 

Reward Thyself

My arm hurts. Actually, my whole body hurts right now, a dull pounding ache exacerbated by the tapping on the Mac backlit keyboard.

I scraped an entire porch today. Plus, painting the foundation of the house. Plus, pressure washing the downstairs porch.

Not complaining. Okay, yes, I AM complaining.

Or bragging.

For all of that effort, I ate a big fat piece of cow, rubbed in coffee and cooked medium rare, at one of my very favorite restaurants. I decided at about three o’clock this afternoon that I needed this outing as a reward for the aching agony that is scraping and painting an antique house in downtown Charleston.

Rewards are a good thing. Don’t you think?

 

Too Much is Just Enough: Personal Rewards

 

Kiehl’s Called Me Old

On the heels of having a migraine for two straight days, I open the mail box to find a little present from Kiehl’s, makers of the face and eye cream I use every day. Even though my grandmother used original Oil of Olay for forty years and my Mom uses baby oil on her face, I am determined to blow hundreds of dollars a year on specialty creams and salves to stave off the effects of age.

And, this is how they treat me? Here, sucker. Use this packet of old lady cream for a more youthful, wrinkle-free appearance. Because, you know, you need to look younger and less riddled with lines and indentions.

Sigh.

Sigh. Again.

Here’s a marketing idea for some savvy products company. Send me a packet of a potion called “You Look Like a Teenager.” Or, what about one called “Hotness Enhancing Serum for An Already Hot You.”

Somewhere in the fine print, it’s fine to rub it in that I need some extra help. I’m not going to bother with those details, anyway. But, I guaran-dang-tee you I will buy a big old vat of something that tells me I’m hot instead of old.

 

Too Much is Just Enough: Buttering Me Up

 

When You Wish Upon a Star

Because I’m typing this on February 24, no one need correct me on the date when it actually posts on February 25. This is a post about February 24.

It’s a big date in the Maher-Watkins household. Regardless of when Mardi Gras falls each year, for me, it always happens on February 24. My favorite restaurant closed for good that day. I still miss that tiny interior space with no real kitchen and the specious courtyard where I could fritter away an entire afternoon.

MTM asked me to marry him there, a post I wrote back in October. It was Mardi Gras, February 24, 2004. I’m glad he gave me the triple gift of himself, an appreciation of Mardi Gras and a love of February 24.

MTM often laughs at my superstitious personality. “It’s a sign!” is something that pops forth from my mouth with regularity, always to justify something I want to do anyway.

Example 1: J Crew put that dress on sale, and it stayed in my cart for two weeks, meaning it is a sign that I should buy it.

Example 2: I thought about french fries today. It is a sign that I should eat them.

Example 3: If there is a parking space on the street when we drive around the block, it is a sign that we should go out to eat on Upper King.

On and on this goes in my pea-brained, frivolous noggin. If I want something, I will make it my mission in life to contrive a sign that gives me permission to do/have/eat/buy it.

But, what about this one?

When my Mother was pregnant with me, she was given a due date. I was her first child, and to my knowledge, she was never pregnant before she carried me. She did everything her doctor instructed her to do, carefully charting the signals her body gave her that I was preparing to make my debut.

Only, I was the laziest fetus that ever existed. I moved so little that Mom thought I was dead more than once, and I was not interested in being born. My due date came and went, with not even a cramp or any other sign that I would be forthcoming.

I ended up finally making my grand entrance – crying and passing gas at the same time, all 9 pounds 12 1/2 ounces of me – on March 24. A full month after my Mother’s given due date – February 24.

Lots of people have said the doctor calculated my Mother’s due date incorrectly. Being me, I wonder. Is it a coincidence that MTM asked me to marry him on February 24, marking the date that I verbally committed to a rebirth as his wife? Or, is it a sign that February 24 is a day that was meant to be special to me since before I was born?

You know which one I believe.

Too Much is Just Enough: Making Random Days Special

Post note: The song ‘When You Wish Upon a Star‘ was recorded by Frances Langford on February 24, 1940.

What Do You Want to Know?

If I could have any wish granted, it would be to know my Dad. Really. Know. My. Dad.

Whenever I run into anyone I haven’t seen in a while, someone from my distant past, the first question out of their mouths is never, “How are you, Andra?” It is ALWAYS, “How is your Dad?” Roy makes quite an impression on everyone, without revealing much about himself in the process.

Trying to get an answer to the question ‘who are you?’ is maddening. I even cornered an author once, Alexander Stille, and begged him over dinner to tell me the secrets to getting my Father to tell me who he really is. Or, who he was before I met him.

Here’s what I know:

  • My dad is the fourth of five children and the only son of an alcoholic womanizer from outside of Cleveland, Tennessee;
  • His dad was a dairy farmer, and his original farm is buried under the TVA;
  • Both of his parents dipped snuff, and he tried it when he was six or seven to ill effect;
  • My grandfather took my toddler father to his various drinking holes, where my two-or-three-year-old Dad got nickels and dimes for cursing and smoking cigars;
  • My Dad did some acting and played basketball when he was growing up;
  • He served in the Army because of the draft during the 1950′s; he was stationed in Germany. In the blog photo today, he is the boy-man on the left, patrolling somewhere in Germany in the years after World War II.

I also know that he met my Mother while he was working as a forester in Kentucky. That’s pretty much it.

Asking my Father more questions about his past only renders circuitous discussions, where I find myself answering invasive questions. (How much money do you make, huh? When did you last talk to so-and-s0-who-you-aren’t-friends-with-anymore?) Maybe he sees my questions as similarly inappropriate and responds in kind. I don’t know.

My Dad is turning seventy-seven this year, and I feel like I’m running out of time to know him. The child who entertained the masses in bars. The boy who watched his father be unfaithful to his mother. The man who still treasures a turkey call and some hunting paraphernalia that belonged to his father, a man I never knew, yet who never once went hunting in the entire time I’ve known him.

One thing my Dad has expressed is a wish to return to Germany before he’s gone. This year, around Thanksgiving, I want to try to fulfill that desire and travel there with him. Yet, I have no idea what meant anything to him when he was there in the 1950′s. I don’t know where he was spent his time, where to take him.

How do we recreate meaning for someone who means something to us? I love my Dad enough to try, stranger that he is to me. Even then, I know I will be left to fill in the blanks on my own, to imagine the backstory of a man I’ve always worshipped, who flits just beyond the tips of the fingers of my paltry imagination.

 

Too Much is Just Enough: Trying Harder When We Want to Give Up

 

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