Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Big Girls Do Cry....Mascara

Today was just one of those days. One of those days, that as soon as it started to turn in the wrong direction, I should have heeded the signs. I should have paid attention. I should have known it could only get worse. Hell, I should have turned my truck around on a dime and came back home. At 7:43am. Because that is when it started.

I'm driving to work, and this morning seemed no different than any other. The roads are starting to pick up with traffic. People bustling around, trying to get to work. I remember a call I need to make. To try once more to reach someone who had been unreachable up to that point.

I pull my cell phone out of my purse. Dial the number. It begins to ring, and she answers. I'm talking, she's talking, and suddenly it feels like someone has set my left eye on fire. I put my finger to my eye. I have no idea why. It's what comes natural when your eye feels as it's ablaze. Surprise. THAT makes it worse. Now both eyes are burning, why in the heck that is I don't know, and I'm blinking as hard and fast as my eyes will open and shut. My eyes are now POURING water, I'm still trying to talk, and alternately scrambling for a tissue. Guess what? No tissue. No nothing. My eyes are now burning, I am still on the phone, no longer really listening, operating on remote speak. Yes, no, uh huh.

Finally I pull into work. I think. I can barely see. I finish the call. I stumble out of my truck, fumbling for the door knob to get inside the building. I stumble two doors down to my office, sling all my stuff in the floor, (cell phone, purse, and soda) and flail around on top of my desk like a blind man, looking for my box of tissue. I find it, run back out the door, to the bathroom two doors back down the hall, go in and slam the door shut. I fumble for the light, turn it on and begin to try and wipe my eyes. At this point, I am now standing in front of the mirror. And my whole face is bleeding black liquid. My eyes have melted mascara ALL OVER MY FACE. By the looks of my face there is none left on my lashes. I stand there and look at the horrible sight I have become. Knowing, whoever passed me on Hwy 90 and sat by me at the red light, has already seen the same.

I wash my now, barren of makeup face, and go back to my office. I sit down in my chair and try to catch my breath.

I have often heard, and thought myself, that a woman who is in her very private PMS mode, should never be exposed to the public. I think there should be enough vacation/sick days in the year allowed for these said days. We should not even be allowed outside of our homes. I have had several experiences in my life that have proven that theory to be true. Today was another one of those days. Because though all of the above sounds like quite enough, it was not over. Oh no. This day of hell, of PMS hell, had just begun.

At 8:50 Mims calls me. I'm getting up from my desk when the phone rings. I have had several phone calls in a row. Enough calls that have prevented me from yet, having my first cup of coffee, when he catches me trying to go get a cup. I sit back down. He begins to tell me the plan for getting my two new truck tires put on my truck today.

Now, even though I have had no coffee yet, my alarms are going off as he begins his "this is going to be the deal" conversation. My alarms are going off, because I can't quite figure out why I need to know about this deal. The last time this DEAL was discussed, he was taking care of everything. So why do I need to now know about this deal.

I'll tell you why, because NOW, I AM GOING TO TAKE CARE OF THIS DEAL. He's telling me. I am silent. Listening. To the new deal. I'm going to take the truck to the place to get the tires put on, and I am going to "catch a ride back" with a complete stranger. Well no, no I am not. I tell him, you have known me for 13 years now. I do not like to go to those places, because I do not like trying to explain to "car people" what needs to be done. And I do NOT ride back from anywhere with car people (men) strangers. Trying to make small talk for four miles. NO.

Now before all you ladies of hard working blue collar men, get all up tight or defensive, let me say husband has the same type of job. He works harder than anyone I know. He builds/inspects roof joist for a living. But I'm not gonna ride back to any destination with just any ole' roof joist building man stranger either. So, I arrange for a co-worker to follow me so that I have a ride.

I take the truck to the Chevrolet place, I get out, I talk to the girl at the counter and explain what I want. What Mims has already supposed to have explained. I am simply refreshing. She acts as if she has no idea what I'm talking about, but is willing to get it done. I  call Mims, leave him a message, that he might want to call and reiterate and why. Just in case.

We are at Pizza Hut. My cell phone rings. It's Mims. He is laughing. I still, am not. He says, why did you take your truck to the Chevrolet place?  I laid my fork down, and slowly said, why would I not? And he said, the girl at the counter didn't know what you were talking about, because you were supposed to take the truck to W & L Tire.

I am not going to tell you everything else that was said. It was not nice, it was not clean, and I should probably be ashamed. I'm not.

At 3pm this afternoon, Mims called to check on me. I guess he thought I had already had enough time to cool off. Or run out of steam. He asked was I OK, I said yes. And this is what I told him :

"I want you to listen to me and understand me. From now until the end of time, or unless you are physically incapacitated,  you will take care of ALL vehicle duties. I wash all the clothes, cook all the meals, do most of the cleaning, make sure you have your prescriptions filled, and make all your doctor appointments and remind you when to be where. You can take care of the vehicle duties. I will know nothing about it. And when I get home, my truck will be miraculously fixed and it will feel just as if Santa Claus came and Christmas was early. Are we clear?"  He wisely said, " Yes, baby".

This day is almost over. I am praying tomorrow goes better. And if I get even the tiniest inkling in the morning, that it may not, I AM coming back home, locking my doors, and waiting until I can feel the crazy pass over me. 

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Never Let The Words Stop

I have probably made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I have thought and thought of different ways to try and battle progression, but am finding defeat at every turn. I swore I would never give in, yet I am afraid, if I do not compromise, I will be forever lost in what was, and what no longer matters. I wanted to hold out. I wanted to be the last one standing. But in order to accomplish what I feel I must, in my lifetime, I have to admit that this move on my part is necessary.

I will always love the smell and the feel. The sheer power of what is inside. The places you can see and experience and never leave your home. The emotional gamut one can feel from head to toe. The exhilaration of happiness and extreme downfall of sadness.  With no help from anyone. You can experience these feelings all on your own. If you know how. If you know the secret. If you are brave enough to discover the combination to the most private of places to go.

But time is slowly but surely altering the way we live. And if I want to participate in the future, I must succumb to the present. And I most certainly want to be part of things to come. I have to be a part of the wonderful things that are surely coming one day. Knowing that I can be a part of it, if I just admit what I need to do, makes it so much easier. The end result. The major objective. The most important reasons I can possibly think of, are what drive me to make it happen. Just bite the bullet and do it.

Grandchildren. I don't know when I'm going to have some, but I am dang sure banking on it. Dang sure hoping for it. And I dang sure have my mind set to get prepared for it. For when it happens, not if. And I know this is nothing anyone wants to discuss or think about, but I have to think about it. I have to know I can still be a part of all that goodness, should I not be here when it happens. As we all get older, and health issues arise, it has become crystal clear to me, that being prepared is so much smarter than being left behind or left out. Denial will get you both. Left behind AND left out.

So I am going to purchase an I-Pad. I know I said I never would. I know I have criticized and chastised everyone who is buying these Nooks and Kindles. I know I have blamed the demise of my favorite book stores, books, and the smell of pages and binders on everyone who has already given in.  I am still buying hardbacks myself. I still have not given in for me. I still refuse, until the last book is printed, to change my mindset about all of that.

But this is for my future grandchildren. This is both an unselfish and selfish act on my part. I am going to purchase and download all the Dr. Suess books I read to my children when they were little. And I am going to record those wonderful stories in my voice for each and every one. I am going to record the excitement, the sadness, the happiness and the funny the best way I know how. I am going to be somebody's funny, sweet, and silly grandma to remember, whether I am here or not. This is the only way I know to ease my mind. To make me sleep well at night. Knowing, that I can be a part of their lives, no matter what happens between now and then. I have to know that an important piece of me, will be left behind for them.

And more important than any of that, I have to know those dang stories are told the right way! I have to know the pitch of the voice will be raised and quickened, excited and scared when it's supposed to be. After all, I've been called Miss Walt Disney more than a few times in my life. I certainly have a legacy that must be upheld.  Me and Dr. Suess that is......

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Lip Sync Rockers
Life is strange. The how's and why's, the construction of what happens when. How it decides who you'll know forever. And who you're only meant to know for a short period of time. One has to believe that every person that comes into our lives, is brought there for a reason. Even the short timers. The people who briefly flit in and out. Sometimes, those are the people who leave the most lasting impressions.

Short timers. They burst into your life in such a way, leaving such an indention in time, that no matter how many years may pass, you will never completely forget them.  The memory of them may wash and fade into a blur, but at any given time, they will appear as a bright flash of light. A reminder of a minute, a day, or a year, long ago, that meant the world to you.

Pee Wee Football
Life time friends, now that, is that most strange occurrence of them all. Have you ever stopped to think, just what kind of magical potion it takes to make a forever friendship work?  All the things that can happen that will threaten to break the ties? Growing up and changing is probably the biggest culprit. Changing and morphing into totally different people. Besides all the every day factors that will come into play. Girls, boys, interests, sports, school, arguments, fights, hurt feelings, angry words, and well life, just life in general.

I'm not sure if Zachary has any of those short timer friends. Those are generally people that no one talks about out loud. They're private friends for all sorts of reasons. Special reasons more times than not. Reasons that you keep close to your heart and don't feel the need to discuss with anyone else.  Because other people aren't going to really understand that place in time for you. They'll nod their heads and listen, but they won't get the magnitude. It's hard to put into words why, but they just won't.

Oh Brother..Lip Sync
He has plenty of friends he has gone to school with all of his life. Played sports with, football basketball and baseball. Some of these boys, like Jared Whiddon and others, that even though they are a grade or so apart, they have still experienced the good times of winning and somber times of losing.

Zachary does however, have one particular life long friend. This young man has been Zachary's best bud since they were three years old. Dustin Watson. They learned to write numbers together, learned their colors, how to write their names, discovered little girls, Pee Wee football, bikes and custom made skateboards.  Years of  Lip Sync contests..always performing together. There is probably nothing these two young men don't know about one another. They know each others most intimate secrets, thoughts and desires. Now they are discovering dating, football, basketball, summer jobs, summer nights at the river, being Juniors in school, driving freedom, being home by curfew and teenage heartache.

Every time these two boys are together I alternately smile and worry. Because as boys who have known each other forever will do, they think up things to try out. They're bored, so they invent their own fun. Digging up poles at the river, doing spin outs in the sand, throwing fireworks into gutters, and making man-made ropes to climb in and out of windows while parents are sleeping. Ignoring signs....

Firework Conniving
And now they are dating. Fumbling their way through the dark, trying to figure out girls and all that it means. Which is everything. Girls are such a mystery. I'm a female, and even I know and recognize that. They're hot then they're cold. They like you and they don't. They're laughing then crying. They're sassy and sweet. These boys are going to bowling alleys' and meeting girls outside of their own immediate circle. Which is a small one...their own circle is very small.  They are bravely talking to girls who have not known them all of their lives and who could very well, not care anything about knowing them for even another minute. But they are doing it. Together. These two best friends. Finding their way through life. This stage, and then will come another. And hopefully, another.

I hope I am able to see these boys together through college, marriages, and first born children.  I want to be able to picture these two boys summer time grilling, talking about their jobs, and chasing babies around the back yard. And some day, watching their own children playing Tiny Mites Football, with pads underneath their uniforms bigger than their little bodies.

This is a good time in their lives. I wonder if they ever stop and look back and understand what a remarkable following they have built with one another. Or I wonder, if you have to get my age, to appreciate what you used to have? Either way, life has been so good to these boys. I hope three years old til sixteen years old turns into three to sixty. Just think of the stories they'll have to tell then!

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life After Life

A couple of weeks ago I had a flashback of sorts. When I was a teenager I went through a stage where when anyone talked about death or being buried, I would state that I wanted to be cremated. My mother would physically grimace and tell me every single time, "not if you go before I do."

My mother is from the deep South. I mean the deep, deep South of Alabama. The place where death is discussed quietly, almost in secret and must be carried out with the utmost dignity and respect. And cremation is not respectful.  In my mother's words, "There is no closure in cremation. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. The ones left behind need something to see, to identify with, and say goodbye to." Cremation does not allow such. It's ash's in a box or an urn. Not a person. Not the loved one who has left this world far too early.

In my mind, the person in the typical funeral, was the person in a closed up box, where it's hot and uncomfortable. That same said box will be lowered into the ground with dirt and worms and who knows what all. Quite frankly, in my opinion, there is nothing dignified about being laid down amongst dirt and worms. But to my mother, oh the horrors of being set on fire and disintegrated. Never gonna happen. Not on her watch anyway.

Twenty some odd years later, one of my boys is talking about his driver's license. One thing leads to another, and we're suddenly on the subject of  the organ donor category. Joshua and Zachary are talking back and forth and state that have both chosen to be organ donors. I pipe up and say that I am too. Josh makes the statement that "I just figured, why should I care, I'm not gonna need any of that stuff anyway and someone else could use it"...and that's when it happens. The flash explodes in my face, and I am suddenly my mother.

This is what I know happens. Even though you can be buried in a normal service after donating your organs, more times than not, the services are carried out closed casket. Because someone has gone into every part of your body and removed what can be taken. The shell that is left is not always presentable.

Now, while this is alright for me, all of a sudden, I'm not so sure if it's alright for one of my children. I mean, heck, I'm old, who cares what I look like when they're done. If they can take anything that will be helpful to someone else, I could care less. But if God forbid, one of my children should go before me, I just don't think I'm going to like that idea. The idea of having nothing to say goodbye to. Oh my, now I am my South Alabama mother.

I didn't say anything out loud to either one of my children. Number one, I was now regretting whoever started this subject. Number two, I could not being myself to tell them how selfish I felt about their unselfish act of donation.

So, I forced myself, quietly, to think about it for what it is...a beautiful act of giving and compassion for someone who is still here after you are gone. It would make it possible for someone's loved one to see out of a beautiful pair of eyes that have never seen boundaries, to beat with a heart that has always been full of love and compassion and fight for the underdog, to live with a clean and untainted liver because of the boy who believes only good things should enter his body, or kidneys that have been flushed clean with gallons and gallons of water since the beginning of time.

That's what organ donation is about. Not about me. Not about anyone, but the beautiful people who selflessly contribute to the beautiful people who need what they have to give in order to live.  And I know know, nobody likes to talk about death. But this story isn't about death. It's about life. And I like to talk about anything that warms my heart. And my boys and the way they look at life, truly warms my heart.

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Size Does NOT Matter, Unless You're Talking About Your Brains

I've always wanted to talk about this. I've always wanted to bring comfort to those who might feel the same way. Because if you're one of the 'the ones' it starts very early. Sometimes it changes along the way, sometimes not. Sometimes it's a lifetime battle. And sometimes, it's just the way we're meant to be.

From birth til about seven years old, I looked like every other little girl. From eight years old til about fourteen I was the typical young girl, an inner-tube around the tummy.  From fifteen years old until after the birth of my first child, I was finally, like every teenage girl I ever wanted to be. And then, it came back. And left again. And then I had another child, and it came back...again.  And it hasn't left since.

Unless you're the little girl with chubby cheeks and a chubby body, you have no idea what it takes to overcome the feeling of being the odd girl out. I learned at an early age to use my humor to console myself and to fit in. Most times it worked. But little boys never like the chubby cheeked girls with the chubby bodies. Not even the funny chubby cheeked girls with the chubby bodies. Not the kind of boys little girls want to like them.

I was always invited to the slumber parties and swimming parties. Again, because I was the funny girl. But I never wanted to change into my PJ's and I NEVER wanted to put on a swimsuit. Swimsuits for chubby girls look exactly like what they are...swimsuits for chubby girls.The ones that show little skin and have skirts. Skirts meant to flatter the tummy area and the thick thighs.

The summer after the 6th grade, we all went to 4H summer camp for a week. I can remember vividly an African American girl named Alvita Latimer who would not shower in front of us. She did not shower all week. She was the only African American girl amongst us. She piled on perfume all week. But no shower. And as much as everyone made fun of her, I knew how she felt. For very different reasons. I was supposed to take swimming lessons at that camp. But because so many people, girls AND boys went to summer camp that year, I skipped half of my lessons that week. Because those lessons required I put on a swimsuit in front of all those boys. The mean boys who would laugh and make fun of girls who looked like me.

Junior High came and went, and finally, I grew into my body, and lost quite a bit of it. I was finally able to wear one of those hot, two piece bathing suits and feel good about myself. But it's a strange thing, this life as a chub girl. You always seem to feel the same on the inside, no matter what is gone or has changed on the outside. It's very hard to overcome that feeling of awkwardness and not fitting in. To be born with the type of confidence it takes to overcome those feelings of being less than, is rare.

It is still very hard for me to overcome the need to hide or stay off to the side. And for me to have such a gregarious personality otherwise, it creates quite a struggle within my own self at times. This is such a harsh society we live in. Girls and women are judged far too often by appearance, and accepted or not, by the same. There are some awfully brilliant and beautiful women and girls walking around in bodies that will never see a size 8, much less a size 2.

If I had a daughter I would make sure she knew from the time she could understand, that she could be whatever she wanted to be, no matter what. No matter her size, the color of her hair, the shape of her face, or length of her legs.  That there would never be any limitations that she couldn't bust wide open.

I'm 48 years old and back to wearing bathing suits with skirts, when you can get me to wear one at all. And I'm uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings again, and I have to force myself to forget what I look like, and remember what I'm worth. It's a struggle for me all over again. But I do it. I force myself everyday, to meet new people and speak first. To greet strangers with confidence. And to know, I have what it takes to matter as much as anyone else. Size blankity blank or not.  And if you're reading this today, and you are me, you can too. I know you can. Because you're worth it, just like me.  

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday Night Lights ..One Mo Time

If I close my eyes, I can already smell it. The freshly cut green grass. The humidity thick as soup that fills the air. The pizza and popcorn. The Booster Moms and Dads grilling up hamburgers and hot dogs. The many smells of perfume as they waif through the air. And another smell. That as you walk close to the fence, on your way to the stands, it hits you like a wave of  something kin to "quick, hold your nose!". Faces glistening with sweat, hair soaked, and bodies wreaking with man smell.

Their faces already serious with the business at hand. Look their way if you want. Speak if you please. All you get in return is maybe a nod and a glare. They're in the zone. No time for Mama's trying to talk to them through the fence holes, wishing them luck, telling them to be careful. Be careful??!!! WHAT??!!! Are you kidding??!! MAMA..GET OUT OF HERE....their faces practically scream! No sweet and softness allowed! We're here to CRUSH, to BUST, and to WIPE THEM OUT! Whadaya safe, be careful. Psssshhhhtttt.

So I'll find my way to my seat in the bleachers. Greeting parents and children as I go. Some people whom I haven't seen since this time last year. I climb my way to the top. All the way to the end that looks over the grass. This is necessary because Mims must be able to sit on the end and spit off the top. Walkers by, beware. We're just about lined up with the 50 yard line, the best seats in the house. Throughout the wait for the game to begin, girls from years of school, kindergarten til now, will find their way to us, to speak, hug necks and talk a bit. Catch up. And every year, I think the same thing on first sight, my land, how they have grown. 

If we're playing at home, we'll hear Archie Watson begin his hometown, home field speeches. Announcing the starting players for both sides. Archie will then ask that we all stand for the National Anthem and bow our heads for a prayer. We're in the private school system. We're still allowed to believe in the Lord out loud, to bow our heads and pray for our boys safety, and we do.

Zachary and his team begin their two a day practices tomorrow. Two times a day, at 7am and again at 6pm. They will all stand together, push each other together, and learn together what is going to be expected and demanded of them this year. Demanded in order to be successful. Demanded in order for them to be respected. And demanded in order for them to have a football season full of hard work and pride and hopefully some wins on the scoreboard.

Zach is a Junior this year, and in preceding years he played the position of linebacker. This year he begins the football season as Center behind his best buddy since pre-school, Quarterback Dustin Watson. I would expect the lines of communication between these two boys to be flawless. Their communication system in life is...we shall see.

All I know is I am ready. For sweaty, nasty, stained up clothes. Duffel bags full of forgotten socks and tee-shirts wadded together for weeks on end. And as you unzip the bags, the smell alone makes you want to just throw whatever is in there in the trash and buy news ones. Start all over. Cleats strewn by the back door where they were taken off in tired haste the last time they were worn. And a child so hungry when he comes in, you don't know if you can get food inside his body before he self com-busts from hunger. And the drives. The three hour one way drives to watch your son and his team play their hearts out, win or lose.

There is something very, very special about the football season in high school. It brings tears to my eyes now, as it will the last game of the season as I climb back down from the bleachers, one more time. Their first game is August 26th. Under the Friday Night Lights of course. Go Munroe's to hoping for a wonderful 2011 Football Season!

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Expressions of Beauty

I spent part of my day today, having a Girl Day. We all need one of those every now and again. I was invited to a baby shower. I have given plenty of these in my home since moving to Quincy. I guess it comes with the territory of growing older. Our children are having children. Well, to be more precise, my friends' children are having children. It is not my turn yet. So today, since I was simply a guest, it was nice to sit back and enjoy.

The preparations were beautiful. The table of food was plentiful. There was no lacking for something delicious to eat or drink. Crackers and dip, finger sandwiches, a variety of cookies, fresh fruit, a beautiful chocolate cake with shaved icing and pretty cupcakes made especially for small hands to hold with comfort. 

I always ask if people want me to bring my camera and take pictures. Not than I am by any means a professional. But when all the goings on are happening, and I'm not part of the immediate action in motion, it's easy to take a step back and see what others are too close to see.

I started taking pictures of the actual center of attention activity herself. And then, I began to look around. At the faces, all the pretty faces that were in that room. Faces full of love. Faces full of joy. And faces full of family. There were sisters, cousins, aunts, children and friends abound.

I have gained all sorts of family since moving here with my boys in 1998. At any turn , I can call myself amongst friends and family. People who would do anything for me. And I would do the same for them in return.  I never go to one of these functions that I always know everyone. But by the time I leave, I have new friends.  And 9 times out of 10, the people who are there that I don't know, I will discover I know them through other people. I met three sisters today who were great aunts to a young man who Zach has known since he was three years old, Mclane Edwards. Small town living is incredible.

There were a total of four little girls there at the shower today. Four little girls, all very close in age. Four little girls who were the guests of honor at their own baby showers not long ago. One of those little girls, Miss Mamie Victoria Hall, was a guest in my home at her baby shower given here, before she ever graced us with her presence. She is almost four years old now.  It's so hard to believe it was that long ago we were celebrating the beginning of her life.

So as the little girls scampered around, eating cupcakes, "assisting" the guest of honor opening presents, arguing over toys, and tired little girls, now laying on the floor...I snapped pictures.  And what beautiful girls they all were. Full of life and simplicity. Barefoot and barelegged. Hair pulled up in ponytails with steamers of stray hair tumbling out. Beads of sweat over their lips and the bridge of their noses from running and chasing who knows what.

I am giving a baby shower in my home again in a couple of months. And as I was making out the guest list a few weeks ago, and discussing it with the mother and grandmother to be, I suggested that we limit the children if we could, "to keep the commotion down and the focus where it should be". Because, of course, you can't get those moments or memories back, and children tend to distract from the activity at hand. From what I witnessed today, what an idiot I turned out to be.

I am so thankful for the gracious invitation that was extended to me today. And I have to say, I enjoyed the babies that were already here, as much as the precious one on the way. So Tracy, bring on all the babies your heart desires. I'll be the one in the back, camera in hand, helping to capture the memories you might otherwise miss, because of  "little helping hands".

copyright © 2011 Michelle Mount Mims