There are Words Swirling Around in My Head

Just as I was drifting off to sleep, words began swirling into that tiny space between my subconscious and conscious mind, forcing me awake. I tried to ignore them, but then the words began to join together and form sentences that refused to be ignored. So I rolled over. As I closed my eyes again, I knew that I was wasting my time. Sleep was not coming until I released the words and their well-formed sentences into the ether.

Its never been easy for me to go to sleep. Each night when I finally exhaust myself into unconsciousness, a freight train could blast its way through our bedroom and I wouldn’t hear it. Falling asleep? Well, that is the problem. My mother used to say that when I was a baby, I learned to fight sleep. She would put me to bed and I would lay there fretting until my father got home from working 2nd shift, a little after midnight. Then, I would easily fall asleep knowing he was home.

The words that prevented me from falling asleep tonight are for a blog post at work. I had thought about publishing a story this week about Thanksgiving, featuring the work of the region’s 37 food pantries. I considered showing how these agencies and their volunteers are on the front lines fighting hunger. But its a big story — one that deserves more time than what I had to respectfully produce it.

Then, in those moments as I was drifting off to sleep, an idea for new story began writing itself. I already have a story ready publish this week. But if I can make the words and well-formed sentences magically return tomorrow, I’ll write a better story. I don’t have all the information or otherwise I’d be writing that story now. So this overwhelming urge to write will have to be satisfied with what I’ve written here, knowing that I’ll get to the real story tomorrow.

Obviously, I haven’t kept up with the NaBloPoMo 30-day writing challenge. I knew it was going to be hard. November is a crazy month for me. The college basketball season begins, three annual projects at work consume my life, my husband becomes overwhelmed with end-of-the-semester grading, and I kick into overdrive cleaning the house for the holidays. If I had managed to post something each of the 30 days, I would have been considered for a free trip to the 2015 BlogHer Conference. I’m not interested in attending anyway. So I don’t feel guilty about missing a few days. The truth is, even though I wasn’t publishing here, each of those days I was writing for something else. There is hardly a day that goes by that I’m not writing something, which was the whole point of the challenge. So if participating in NaBloPoMo did anything (and it did several positive things), it motivated me to start publishing here again.

That’s a good thing, right?

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Blame it on Katie

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We always have fun together.

NaBloPoMo, Day Eight.

Before I got out of bed this morning, I had decided that I was going to give up on this NaBloPoMo gig. I hate the writing prompts and haven’t followed any of the suggestions that are suppose to encourage my creativity. I’m not pleased with my posts and well, frankly, I was bored with it. Not five minutes later, I got a text.

“I love reading your blog, haha.”

The universe has a wicked sense of humor. If anyone else had sent that text I might have ignored it. But it came one of my dearest friends, Katie. If my awkward NaBloPoMo attempts had been useless or terrible, she would have been the first to tell me the truth. I rely on her for such directness. While I might not have appreciated her truthfulness about my dill pickle attempts, or knitting attempts, I know she’ll always shoot straight with me.

Now, I know most of the NaBloPoMo posts I’ve written have been iffy. They weren’t exactly¬†bad, but they weren’t good either. But Katie loved them.

Groan.

Katie came into my life via our niece. They went to high school together. From the minute she walked through our front door after their senior prom, I knew I had met a friend for life. We have often talked about the fact that no matter what, when I’m old, she’ll check me out of the nursing home and take me to band festivals. And I know she’ll keep her promise.

Katie is an 'adopted' niece that we adore. She lights up any room she walks into AND she's my favorite strawberry sous chef.

She lights up any room she walks into AND she’s my favorite strawberry sous chef.

She makes me laugh. She makes me pull my hair out. She fills my life with good times and laughter. She’s capped dozens and dozens of quarts of strawberry’s so that I can ruin them with my attempts at making jam. She’s that perfect friend that you can call at 10 pm and say, I feel like an adventure. Before she even thinks about it, says, “What time do you want to leave?”

No excuses, no checking of the calendar, she just rolls with it. Everyone should have a friend like that.

I love how she always adds “haha” to the end of her texts. Even if she’s crying, there will be a “haha” thrown in. It used to drive me crazy. How on earth could I have a serious conversation with an adult tossing “haha’s” at me? But now, I come to expect them. If that haha is missing, something is desperately wrong.

So, I’m going to blame my continued efforts at this silly NaBloPoMo challenge on Katie.

Lord, help us all. Haha.

Friday Nights and Fried Rice

IMG_7078My 7th post for NaBloPoMo is a photo from dinner. During last few weeks we’ve gone out with our son and with our sweet friend, Allie on Friday nights. It’s our new tradition. We’ve had a great time, eating great food, talking, and just having fun. Allie will graduate MSU in December, so we’re soaking up every minute with her. We all know she’ll soon leave Murray and start a new life with big girl dreams and big girl responsibilities. But until she crosses that stage at graduation, we’ll keep enjoying our Friday nights and nerdy sci-fi debates over fried rice.

The Racers are Playing and I’m Missing It

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We love Racer basketball and look forward to every game.

Tonight, Murray State University kicks off its basketball season. And I’m missing it. Granted its only an exhibition game against a small school from down the road. But still — I’m missing it.

I’ve waited six months for this season to begin. The Racers are coming off a national championship (no not that national championship) the College Insider Tournament (CIT). Winning the CIT was the icing on the cake, after a difficult season. The whole town is abuzz about this year’s potential. While other college basketball fans think of winning the NCAA tournament, Racer fans only want four things:

1) Beat Western KY University
2) Beat Austin Peay
3) Beat Belmont
4) Win the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) title back

Its not much, but to RacerNation, achieving those four things will make us all pretty darn happy. If we do win the OVC, then we’ll get to go back to the NCAA — that will be exciting. But I promise you, winning those three games mentioned above, will mean more than bringing home the NCAA title. Well, okay, probably not. I guess winning the NCAA would be nice, but beating the crap out of Belmont will feel much better. You see, life’s much simpler when you’re a mid-major basketball fan.

When you live in the Bluegrass State, everybody is a basketball fan. To be specific, we’re all college basketball fans. The NBA has never really held our attention. Babies born during basketball season come home from the hospital wearing UK or UofL gear. If its game day — their parents are dressed to match.

Kentuckians aren’t that concerned about college football. Its not that we don’t like the sport, but its just not the same. And besides isn’t the best part of a college football game really the half-time show? Our football teams might struggle, but we’ve got some amazing marching bands.

But I digress.

Instead of cheering the Racers to a victory tonight, I’m already in my pj’s. After I publish this post I’ll snuggle up with our fur babies and watch an episode of Ally McBeal on Netflix. Once I drift off to sleep, I’m sure I’ll dream about next week’s game against Houston.

Go Racers!

Dinner on a Wednesday Night

Tonight when I walked through the door, by darling husband was standing at the stove. He had mixed up a batch of corn bread and was warming leftover chicken noodle soup for supper. I could tell he was perplexed — or perhaps at the end of his rope. I wasn’t sure which it was until I looked in the pot and saw very little soup actually in there. I quickly took over and sent him off to light a fire before he offered to take us out for dinner.

We’ve been eating out too much lately. While eating out solves many problems, it creates others. It solves the problem that the three of us eat very different diets, so each of us gets what we want. Our son is a college student, so he wants plenty of meat and very few vegetables. I prefer all vegetable meals, and Vince wants a meat and three. If only we all liked the same vegetables or the same meats, cooking during the week would be easier.

Eating out solves the problem of who will do the dishes — or who won’t do the dishes. It also means that we will actually eat together at a table, when usually Sam heads to his room and we head for the couch.

One of the problems it creates is where to eat. We’re picky about restaurants. We have one criteria — the restaurant has to be locally-owned. While we might, on a vary rare occasion, eat at a chain, it only happens from necessity. Unfortunately, we’ve tried all the local restaurants, and we’re pretty confident that we’re better cooks that 90% of the places in town. So right now, we’re down to three restaurants and frankly, we’re tired of their menus. I was determined that, tonight, we were going to eat at home.

As Vince walked out of the kitchen, I grabbed the other storage container of soup that he didn’t know was in the fridge. I also added a container of homemade chicken broth. Then a few more noodles, peas, carrots, butter, salt and pepper, and tossed in a little extra cumin (the real reason chicken soup is good for you). I filled the cornbread pans and went to change into my pajamas and hug on our furbabies, who were patiently waiting to be greeted. Twenty minutes later, our bowls were overflowing with our favorite soup. As expected, Sam took his bowl to his room and we headed for the couch. With a roaring fire warming up the room and soup warming up our tummies, I think we all took a deep sigh of relief and peace. I know I did.

Here’s a link to some of my favorite soups. I promise, they’re all simple and full of goodness. Perfect on a chilly night. I like to make a big batch of soup on the weekends. If I’m lucky, there will be enough leftovers to get us through one weeknight meal and a couple of lunches.

https://chezmedlock.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/my-favorite-soup-recipes/

My Brain is Mush

Its day four of NaBloPoMo and frankly, I can barely form a sentence. I spent the whole day writing. My brain is mush and its my bedtime. Not a good combination for a clever blog post. But I’m determined to post something, I can’t fail at this process on day four. That would just be sad. The thing is, I’ve already published a blog post today, but that was for work and not for Despite Everything. So it doesn’t count. (But if you’re curious, go visit the other blog I write for, PADD Perspectives.)

I’m thrilled that I got to spend the day writing. I’m blessed to have a job that allows me to exercise my creative muscles. But writing challenges me more than anything else I do. I’m not a natural writer. It takes me forever to find the right words or define the right mood. Eventually, I get there. Some stories are better than others. I’ll never win any awards for my writing efforts, but they are always the best that I can do.

Unlike tonight, when I just want to fulfill my obligation to post something more than I got up. I went to work. I checked off a couple items from my to-do list. I got off the beaten path when I drove home. I voted. I got to see my son cast his first vote. I watched the election returns. And then I remembered to write this post.

See, some stories really are better than others. I promise I’ll do better tomorrow. Hopefully.

Everybody Has a Story to Tell

Everyone has a story tell; unfortunately, not everyone has someone to listen. There are people all around us who are lonely and just need to know that someone cares. It doesn’t matter what socioeconomic class they may be in, loneliness is an equal opportunity emotion.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the privilege of meeting two individuals. Because of their unique circumstances, they have found themselves struggling. They’ve both worked hard all their lives. Neither expected their golden years to be what they’ve become. And neither has allowed their situation to break their spirit.

As I sat listening to their individual stories, I realized that I had a been given an overwhelming privilege by becoming their friend. I tried to soak up every moment of our time together. But most of all, I listened and prayed that I wouldn’t trivialize their lives by my attempts to justify a program service. I appreciated how they shared their stories with honesty and insight. They thoughtfully answered my questions and then smiled for my camera.

While both made an impact on me too deep to describe here on this blog, I find it fitting to acknowledge my time with them during NaBloPoMo. Because I will forever carry their stories in my heart.

There are thousands of others just waiting to tell their stories. Will you stop and listen? Or simply give a stranger a smile? How many of us have hurriedly passed a stranger on the street, hoping not to catch their eye? Why do we do that? Is it because we’re too busy in our own lives to give a few minutes to another human being? Or is it because we don’t want to be burdened with the unfortunate side of life? Afraid that we might somehow expose our own pain by listening to theirs?

I challenge you, my readers, to go outside of your comfort zone and find a way to listen to a stranger’s story. You’ll be rewarded for the effort, and they will know that they matter and aren’t alone in this world.