Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Let It Go!

Sorry for the allusion to the most annoying Disney tune ever created that we can't get out of our heads, (See! You're singing it now, aren't you?) but that phrase has been repeating in my head throughout this week. Why? I've been watching people hold on to things that are bringing them grief. It's almost as though they are holding an object that is hurting their hand. What's the solution? Duh! Let it go!

A child holds on to a grudge against his father and refuses to come to his hospital bed before his death. Let it go! You're going to regret this choice sooner or later. Another person wants to avoid a simple medical exam because they fear the results. Let it go! Better to know something is wrong to deal with the issue now instead of burying your head in the sand. Still another gets flustered because life is not happening in the way they had planned. Let it go! You can't control the actions of other people, so relax and enjoy the moment you are living it.

Most importantly, I've been telling myself to "let it go" this week. As I've watched these people make their stupid, stress-inducing choices, I've had to remind myself that the choices are not mine to make. I may see the error of their ways and may know that I would not make the same decision in their situation, but the decision is not mine. It belongs to them. The only choice I have is how I'm going to respond to their poor judgment and its impact on me. The sooner I "let it go" and accept letting them face the consequences of their choices, the sooner I am freed from the drama and stress....and the sooner I can get on with living life for myself. That's where the real joy begins.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Hits and Misses (June 19-25)

Here's a look back at the week that was....

  • It was great to finally be released from chiropractic care on Wednesday. Don't get me wrong. The appointments were great and relieved my pain and soreness after May's car accident. It just took a lot of time to get to all of those appointments. I'm thankful to be fully healed and able to have some of my time back.
  • This week, I decided to devote more of my time to personal entertainment and relaxation. That means I've enjoyed some great television as well as a movie and novel.
    • Early in the week, I checked out Genius in one of my favorite theaters. It was the story of the editor who befriended Thomas Wolfe and brought his great novels to the masses. I laughed and cried while finding myself encouraged. What a great look into the creative process in another discipline.
    • Television viewing this week centered around the return of my family's favorite guilty pleasure: Big Brother. We watch and scheme along with the house guests as we figure out what we would do in their situation and laugh at their stupidity along the way. After enjoying a little mind-numbing "reality TV", Mom and I checked out the premiere of American Gothic. OMG! The story of a potential serial killer coming from an upper class Boston political family is enthralling. I'm definitely hooked and can't wait to see where this mystery is going to lead. If you missed the first episode, I highly suggest you check it out online before the series continues this Wednesday on CBS.
    • This week was also a great week for my reading life. I whipped through The Last Child by John Hart. (You can read more of my thoughts on the novel over on Reading for Me.) In case you don't want to check out the review, I will keep it short....John Hart has joined my short list of contemporary authors that I read as often as I can. I couldn't put this book down and enjoyed every twist and turn that the plot brought.
  • On Saturday, people were leaving the Geriatric Ward in every direction. There was a birthday party in north Mississippi and a wedding in central Arkansas. What did that mean? Mom and I enjoyed a quiet afternoon together. We grabbed lunch and detoured to the local DQ for two dip cones. I was impressed....we ate the ice cream in the car while trailing a funeral procession without making a mess. The conversation and laughter was just what the doctor ordered for both of us.
  • Now that I finally have my car out of the body shop, the service engine light decided to join the party. I think it's just a signal of an overdue oil change, but a trip to the mechanic is planned for this week just to make sure there's nothing else going on.
  • It has been oppressively hot in Arkansas this week! Thank goodness I am a homebody by nature, or else it would have not been a pretty sight at all.
  • I posted a meme on Facebook that I found funny that had a political overtone to it. I didn't make a huge commentary on any issue and just said it was one of the funniest things I had seen this week. Suddenly, a college friend turns it into a political firestorm that I just wanted to put to rest. I hate that we live in a society where opinions cannot be freely spoken without fear of a verbal onslaught by those who *think* their views are directly opposed to yours. But I refuse to have my online presence censored by others who don't like my posts.....and don't plan to enter into a dialogue that I didn't even raise! *Rant over*
  • The insurance saga continued this week. The check to the body shop finally arrived -- nearly 4 days after it was promised. And now I've received a pile of paperwork from another insurance company because of a claim being filed with them. Remind me why I pay monthly premiums that are so expensive if I still have to do all of the paperwork as well as constantly checking to make sure the insurance company is following through with its promises.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Frustration with Poor Editions

Most of you know me as a musician. What a lot of you may not know is that I also hold a degree in English and have been a passionate reader most of my life. For the past few years, I have set annual reading goals and try to include at least one "major" work from the standard cannon in my reading. This year, I decided to tackle George Eliot's Middlemarch. (You can read my thoughts about the novel in this post on Reading for Me.)

When I went to the bookstore to pick up the first of my summer selections, I noticed an enormous display of the Barnes & Noble Classic editions and decided to give them a try. After all, they covered many of the classics and offered them at a decent price. How tough would it be to offer a decent reading edition of Middlemarch anyway?

That's one mistake I will never make again. This reading experience was horrible because of the poor quality of the edition. Barnes & Noble seemed to want to offer an edition with scholarly notes, but they were both cumbersome and awkward. More frustrating than the overall layout of the novel were the obvious errors that were present throughout the work. I found myself wondering repeatedly if an editorial team even bothered to read the proofs once the type was set. Misspelled words littered the pages. Awkward errors in pronoun usage continually occurred. Phrases were repeated throughout a passage. At first I thought this was the result of an inept editor-at-large who oversaw a small portion of the edition. I quickly realized this was not the case as I struggled with these errors for over 800 pages. There was no obvious logic to the recurring errors.....and no clear presence of an editorial staff at all.

The edition was cheap. That's the only positive thing I can say about it. Truthfully, the Barnes & Noble Classic edition made a challenging novel much more difficult to read than was actually necessary. When I first began reading Middlemarch, I was making marginal notations in the hope that I would return to the work again in the future. I was enthralled by Eliot's writing and will certainly read it again, but not using this edition. This copy will not be finding a treasured place on my bookshelf; instead, this worthless paperback only has a future in the local landfill.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding Moments of Escape

Privacy and quietness are prized possessions of the introvert. These golden treasures can also be horribly elusive. The roar of the television, the incessant dialogue about "nothing", and the demand to do life scream for our focus and attention while our inner self is crying out for a moment to solitude. At times, the introvert's attempts to escape the maddening crowd can be viewed as rudeness. We are accused of wanting to be a hermit. As a self-proclaimed introvert, here are a few ways that I have found to grab moments of escape without offending others (most of the time....)

  • Quietly disappear. Many times it is really that simple. When you find yourself becoming stressed by the crowd, quietly walk away without explanation or theatrics. This allows the "crowd" to continue their fun without worrying about you.
  • Set a timer and relax. When the "crowd" is more intimate and an extended absence would be more noticeable, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and escape. Do whatever brings you peace -- reading, listening to music, meditating, or lying down -- without guilt. The knowledge that the timer will recall you to the scene when necessary allows your mind to rest and gives your introvert the break that is desperately needed.
  • Prepare an answer for your return. If your absence was noticed, you want to have an honest answer ready for the concerned. A short response like "I needed to catch my breath" allows you to tell the truth without making others present feel uncomfortable or guilty. As you spend more time with the group, they will become more accepting of your short escapes and the questions will come less frequently.
It is also possible to minimize the frequency of your need to escape from the crowd. Preparing yourself mentally for the "crowd" in advance can be extremely helpful. This includes estimating how long you need to be present before leaving and looking forward to smaller, more personal interactions within the larger setting. I also find it helpful to regularly schedule "mental health" escapes. These might include a trip to the movies or a local museum alone; a relaxing afternoon in the park or local library can also provide a calming escape from the normal hustle and bustle. Lastly, speak honestly with trusted friends and family about your occasional need for escape. People tend to be more understanding and accepting than you expect and can provide cover for you when you find yourself needing to retreat momentarily.

Being an introvert is not an illness; it's just the way we are wired. It's not right or wrong. It's just you (and me). Accept and love yourself in spite of the "awkward" situations you find yourself in and consistently learn new ways to cope with your need to be alone sometimes.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hits and Misses (June 12-18)

Here's a look back at the week that was.....

  • The first thing on the agenda this week was a routine check-up with my cardiologist. With family history of cardiac issues as well as concerns from the recent accident (more on that below), this was an important appointment to keep. I was very pleased to get a good report as well as making some changes in my drug regime.
  • Throughout the week, I watched this year's Tony Award broadcast in bits and pieces. Like everyone else, I wasn't terribly surprised to see Hamilton walk away with everything. What really excited me though were the other really interesting shows that appeared on Broadway this season. I'm planning to check out the music from the Steve Martin show a lot more closely in the near future.
  • On Wednesday afternoon, I made my way to AGM to visit with Robbie and Kathy. Not only were they my pastors and bosses for many years, they became close friends. It was good to sit with them and laugh together once again. I doubt that will be the only visit to see them I make while I'm home for the summer.
  • I got my car back!!! No explanation is needed.
  • To end the week, I got to participate in the wedding of Meg Earney and Burke Webb. The music was simple and didn't require a lot of preparation on my part, but I was still happy to be able to help this young woman who I had the pleasure of watching grow up in youth theater. Her parents were smiling from Heaven as she wed the love of her life, I am sure.

  • The aches and pains in my neck and chest continued this week. Intellectually, I knew the problems were muscular as my body heals from last month's accident. Still, when your chest hurts, your brain begins to play nasty games with your well being.
  • My heart aches for those impacted by the tragedy in Orlando at the beginning of the week. Regardless of one's moral stance or political affiliation, it is important to remember that innocent lives were lost in Pulse in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The divisiveness I have heard throughout the week as well as the attempts to make this a political issue have made me sad. I just wanted to scream as I thought about the pain of those recovering in the hospitals as well as those who were facing the difficulty of dealing with the death of a loved one. Some things take priority over our personal opinions.
  • Tuesday night was frightening as I had one of the most severe allergy attacks I have ever experienced. I lost my breathe and was struggling to stay up. As I searched for an antihistamine, my wheezing became more severe and terrifying. I made my way outside and was able to clear my lungs with fresh air. While Mom and Patsy dashed away to get drugs for me, I was able to settle my breathing and heart rate. While reflecting on the episode, I recalled that there had been another years ago that was triggered by a lotion containing cocoa butter. Patsy had just returned from a tanning session and had cocoa butter on, so it looks as though that was the culprit. Rather than showering the lotion off -- to do so would have ruined the tan apparently -- she remained in her bedroom for the rest of the evening. I have not had another episode, but continue to deal with all of the excess phlegm my body produced to get rid of the offending allergen. It's been a rough week and I just haven't felt very good since it happened.
  • Once I learned that my car was ready to be picked up, I also learned that my insurance company had not cut the checks yet. I made a phone call and was rather hot under the collar. I yelled at the agent and asked why I bothered to pay monthly premiums that paid his salary if he was failing to do the job. After asking for the name of his supervisor in order to file a formal complaint, I suggested that the check be sent via overnight mail to the address I provided. That was on Thursday afternoon; on Friday morning, I received word from the repair shop that the check was in route and I could get my car. I'm not proud of the call, but I did what was necessary to get some long over due results. (I'm looking for recommendations for car insurance companies in Texas; Farm Bureau has been a complete disappointment and failure!)
  • It's never a good thing to have too many cooks in the kitchen. This can also be said of people attempting to coordinate weddings, guests in a home, and Indian chiefs. Wowzers!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Lost and Found

Lots of things have been getting lost around here lately. We lost Internet access for a couple of days...I had forgotten how frustrating rural Arkansas can be sometimes! (That explains why I haven't been very "present" in cyberspace this week.) I lost my breath during a severe allergy attack. I have lost my patience with circumstances this week and feel as though I have lost am losing my sanity. The frightening thing is that the inspiration for this post happened before any of this week's events hit. Here's a story from last week's whirlwind of a road trip.

On Friday afternoon, I was whipping through eastern Oklahoma on my way back to Arkansas. I had stopped for lunch a few hours before and then fought traffic through OKC during rush hour. From all of my travels, I avoid stopping in metropolitan areas for "pit stops" and seek out rest areas and travel stops along the interstate instead. On this particular patch of I-40, I was facing the demands of my bladder and needed to make an exit quickly. I noticed signs for a series of fast food restaurants, so I decided this would be a good place to stop.

How wrong was I?!? I guess I misread the signs and managed to exit onto a toll road instead. If you've not experienced Oklahoma toll roads, let's just say they are unforgiving. Once I entered the toll road, there was no opportunity to get off until after the first toll booth -- some 45 miles south of the interstate. By this point, I'm sweating bullets because the rental car doesn't have a navigation system and my bladder is about to explode! I exit and plan to re-enter the toll road and head back to I-40. Foiled again! The entrance ramp to the toll road is under construction and a "back road" detour is the only available option. This is definitely not what I had in mind.

Nearly an hour later I have finally wound my way through the twists and turns of Oklahoma Highway 9 only to get lost in a small town. (Why didn't I use my phone at this point for directions? My phone had no reception in this area and couldn't access the GPS!) However, in this little town I DO manage to find a restroom. Now that my mind isn't swimming any more, I'm able to think a little more clearly and make some choices -- lucky guesses, maybe -- and finally arrive back at I-40. Only problem....I've somehow managed to enter the interstate a few miles BEFORE arriving at the toll road exit I had originally taken. (I truly have no idea how I managed to do this. I suppose it is a special kind of talent that I have.)

Doesn't that sound just like our lives sometimes? We are on a path that we are very familiar with and we're confident that we know where we are headed. Then an unexpected detour pops up and we find ourselves in unknown territory. We start to panic and find that what had been certain and dependable is no longer available to us in the moment. Rather than stressing out and assuming that the worst is going to happen, how much better would the trip be if we paused long enough to look at the situation to see the opportunities around us in the detour. When I finally paused on my road trip and stopped freaking out, I discovered a gorgeous part of Oklahoma that I had never seen before. My unexpected detour -- my moments of being lost -- turned out to be a favorite part of my trip because I found something new. I hope that in the days ahead, as I begin to feel "lost" in my life that I'll take the time to see what I might "find" in the unexpected.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hits and Misses (June 5-11)

Here's a look back at the week that was....

  • I finally felt good enough to go to church this week. Since I didn't have a car, I accompanied the Geriatrics to AGM and actually enjoyed the service. (That's saying a lot considering where I've come from.) I thought Pastor's sermon on the Holy Spirit was one of the best I have ever heard on the subject.
  • Following church, we went to Carrabba's for our weekly lunch. It was great to enjoy good food with lots of laughter. I especially found myself giggling when Mom made comments that could either be taken as another example of her naivete or proved that she is not as innocent as she would like everyone to think. The twinkle in her eye gave her away!
  • I finally got a rental car this week. I will have to pay a little for the car, but the size and safety issues were important to me. This also meant I was able to make my much needed trip to Plainview this week.
  • The car doesn't have satellite radio, so I grabbed an audio book to pass the time. You can read my comments about Code of Conduct by Brad Thor over on Reading for Me.
  • The road trip was a nice time to enjoy some solitude and get away from the Geriatric Ward for a few days.
  • It's never good to get disappointing news. I guess I should not be surprised any more. People are going to let me down. Bad decisions will be made. The only parts that I can control are my responses and the decisions that are mine to make. Foolish choices will be made obvious soon enough.
  • Mom wasn't able to go on the road trip with me, so the drive was rapid with little rest. If she had been along, I would have taken a little more time in Plainview to show her around. As it was, I was on the road for three days and managed to catch a cold along the way.
  • Last minute cancellations are never fun to deal with. I had made an appointment for a massage with my therapist. When I arrived at his office, the door was locked. I sent him a text to confirm the appointment -- it was entirely possible that I had written it down wrong -- and I promptly received a response apologizing for the confusion. He had broken two teeth earlier in the day and was at the dentist. While I understood his pain -- been there, done that!-- I still wished that I had known before making the drive to the office. After all, it's summer vacation! I'm sure I could have found SOMETHING to do with that time.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Quick Road Trip!

As you are reading this post, if all has gone according to plan, I should be in the final leg of a unexpected -- and fast -- road trip back to west Texas. Originally, I had planned to return to Plainview at the beginning of the month to take care of some business and to prepare to spend the rest of the summer working in Michigan. But plans have a way of changing, don't they?

The car accident that started my summer off is still having a major impact on my world at the moment. I FINALLY got the insurance company to approve the repair work to my car last week; then I got to fight with them about putting in a reservation for a rental car. To say that I am happy with my insurance company at the moment would not be truthful to any extent.

So my car isn't fixed and I'm not going to be working in Michigan this summer. (I think I've already shared that story with you here and won't rehash that one.) I was just going to extend the mail hold when I was informed that was impossible. What would happen if I didn't pick up my mail? Not really that much, except all of the mail would be returned to senders and marked as undeliverable. That's a mess I don't want to deal with.

Then I agreed to play a wedding next weekend for a young lady that I have known most of her life. Both of her parents were special to me as a teen -- especially her mom, Janine Earney -- so I went against my usual policy and agreed to play for the wedding. I didn't anticipate needing any formal wear while at home, so I have nothing to wear. And that explains why I'm making the road pick up a suit, some music I left behind, and my mail. Oy vey!

The plan was for Mom to accompany me on this trip so she could finally see Plainview for herself, but her work schedule wouldn't permit it. I also have appointments next week with my cardiologist (annual check-up) and chiropractor....not to mention the I really can't afford to linger at home for very long. Besides, there's no pressing reason for me to be in Plainview at the moment, so I'm going to dash back to Arkansas and enjoy some more time with my family.

Keep an eye out for a rogue driver on the interstates of Oklahoma and Arkansas may just be your resident pianist speeding through in hopes of getting back to some more restful Livin' Life.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Is It Possible to Be Too Cautious?

Last week, I planned to meet a man that I have known for several years through cyberspace. We both are members of a piano teacher's forum and have connected because we are two of the very few men in the group and both live in the South. He and his family were taking a road trip that led them through Memphis, and since I was here as well, we decided to meet briefly for coffee. (He would drink the coffee; I would have a Coke.)

On the day that we were to meet, we were in contact in the forum and settled on a place and time. I sent him a private message that included my cell phone number, letting him know that he could feel free to call or text if he got lost or was running late. What I assumed was a kind gesture led to a very long email that was essentially a lecture on how irresponsible I was to give out my phone number so easily to someone I had never met. He told me how necessary it was to be careful and that if we ended up meeting, I should know that he would be armed in order to guarantee his safety. To say I was a little shocked is putting it mildly. After I apologized for offending him (apparently), I got one last message telling me that the family's travel plans had changed and they would not be stopping as we had planned.

I am well aware of the importance of being cautious in our online activity. I have heard the horror stories of meeting someone you have met online in person only to have a disastrous result. Still, I find myself wondering if it is possible to take caution too far. At what point do we let our good sense and intuition guide us rather than succumbing to absolute fear? If we refuse to trust the goodness in people, we are potentially shutting ourselves off from healthy new relationships. Constant fear limits our ability to experience new adventure. Quite simply, when we constantly anticipate the worst in all situations and people, the outcome is crippling.

I have to wonder what was at work in my friend's life to cause him to be so untrusting. Was there a suspicion of technology at work? Was this simply a generational difference? (He is in his early 60s.) Had he recently heard frightening news stories about the area? Has he had a bad experience in the past with a similar situation? I don't know and doubt that I will every learn the truth. It appears that he has chosen to leave the piano forum.

Perhaps I am too naïve, but I choose to trust my instincts to guide me. I refuse to live in constant fear, always being suspicious of the intentions of other people. My views may change as I continue to age, but for now, I choose to live life without fear to the fullest!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hits and Misses (May 29-June 4)

Here's a look back at the week that was.....

  • It has been a great week with the Geriatrics. While I was recovering, it was tough to find opportunities to really connect with them. That began to change this week. Things started on Sunday evening as Mom and I headed to the kitchen together. We made chicken and dumplins...and lots of time to talk. On Tuesday night, I got to enjoy watching America's Got Talent with my parents. While I tend to avoid watching this show, I enjoyed hearing their laughter and sitting under a blanket with Mom with our heads covered during some of the "gross" acts. When the weekend rolled around, the Junior Geriatrics (yeah, I think that title may stick!) headed to the Ozarks, so the Geriatrics and I enjoyed a lazy Saturday around the house. We finally changed out of our pj's late that afternoon just in time to make a trip to Cracker Barrel for dinner. All in all, it's been one of my favorite weeks since I've been home for summer.
  • Mom made her famous Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake this week. Even though it was a little richer than I personally like -- she used a chocolate cake mix instead of her usual yellow -- it was a welcome comfort food.
  • It will come as a surprise to those who know me that I enjoyed meeting new people this week. Strangers in the store introduced themselves and made conversation. A pianist I met a few years ago through an online forum was passing through town and we met for "coffee." I naturally shy away from these types of meetings, but these interactions were actually fun. I might be coming out of my introverted shell after all!
  • While the Junior Geriatrics were out of town, the Geriatrics returned to their usual bed (that's a long story that I won't bore you with). This just means that I got to sleep in my normal bed! What Heavenly rest! Of course, I had committed to attending church with my parents the next morning, so I had to roll out of bed the next morning.....and I wasn't happy about it. Since I hadn't been in church since I left Plainview, I thought it was probably the right thing to do.
  • Even though I wasn't in church with them last Sunday, I was frustrated to hear of the return of Douchebag. I know, I know, I know. I don't need a lecture on forgiveness or "getting over it." I'm also going to be good and not go off on the *%% here. Being in Texas for the past year meant I never had to worry about an "accidental" encounter with the loser. I had forgotten just how nice that actually is.
  • Along the same line, I had to encounter some hurts that just won't heal in my own life this week. It's not the result of a grudge on my part. Honestly, I rarely think about it. But just like it stings a little when a physical scar is hit just right, things can happen that can cause the heart and mind to ache. Some were deeper pains than others. Some have gotten tremendously better with the passage of time. Others are so deep and such a part of my story that I don't know that the hurt will ever go away entirely. I'm okay, but the early part of the week was rather rough.
  • I laughed as I watched the small town rumor mill starting to spin more lies this week. The fabricated stories were basically harmless, so it wasn't that big of a deal. But it was a reminder of how nice it is to no longer be living in a town so small that "everybody knows your name"...and your business!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Graduation Memories

May was the month of graduations across the country. If you are like me, your Facebook feed has been filled with pictures of happy graduates at all levels of their academic careers. My family had a special graduation this year as Kristian, my middle niece, ended her high school career and is now looking forward to continuing her studies at Mississippi State in the fall. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend Kristian's graduation because my back was still a mess and I wasn't able to walk very far, much less sit in the stands for the ceremony's duration. Even though I couldn't be there in person, another graduation in the family caused me to think back on my own experiences with these important milestones in life.

My high school graduation was a small affair. I attended West Memphis Christian School for the last three years of my high school career. I transferred from the local public school because my parents felt I was receiving an inferior education and there were questions about my physical safety in the hostile environment. When I entered WMCS, most of the sophomores had been together since kindergarten; the others were friends through the congregation that sponsored the school. I really didn't feel that I fit in anywhere. Everyone was nice enough and I made some friends there, but I always had my eyes on the next step -- college! Since I wasn't involved in too many extra curricular activities (or at least, I didn't think I was doing that much), I had plenty of time to study and maintain my grades. By the time graduation rolled around, I was the salutatorian of the class and had to give a speech as part of the ceremonies. All that I remember about that speech is that it included a quote from the Gettysburg address; the speech was drafted, edited, and polished under the supervision of my history teacher.  After graduation, there wasn't a big party -- we were a Christian school, after all -- so I met a small group of classmates at the local Shoney's for a midnight meal together.

Five years later, I had a far different experience. I marched along with some of my best friends through the grass of Pepperdine's Alumni Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. These had been the best years of my life and I certainly wasn't ready to leave. We had faced many challenges together -- fire, flood, earthquake, and the wind that was whipping across the park at that moment -- and had managed to survive together. What few others knew at that moment was that I wasn't receiving my degree that year. I still had to overcome my struggles with German and was in a battle with the music department that I wasn't sure exactly how it would turn out. (Long story short.....I failed my senior recital hearing because of repertoire that was too difficult for me and illness. Petitions to a department chair that hated me -- and who I personally didn't like very much either -- resulted in a stalemate that had escalated to the Offices of both the Provost and President. It wasn't a pretty time for me as a student or musician, but I was ultimately able to complete the recital the next year and finish the degree as the music department faced scrutiny from university administration.)

Graduate school brought totally different experiences. I didn't participate in graduation for my master's degree. I had just completed the required recital a few weeks before and was taking the compulsory exams to enter the DMA program the week before graduation. Walking in the ceremony just seemed anti-climatic to me, so I kept my focus on the big celebration that would come with the doctorate.

My final graduation took place on Saturday, May 9, 2009. It had already been an emotional weekend because my sister had left an abusive marriage the day before; she and her two children were with us as we nursed their physical and emotional scars. Following the graduation ceremony, I had responsibilities at my church job for the annual Ladies' Tea. While there were obviously other things on my mind, I knew that I wanted to focus on the hooding ceremony and celebrate my accomplishment that I thought would never actually happen. I walked into the FedEx Forum in Memphis with my mentor and sat in the front row of graduates. Somehow, things had worked out that I would be the first student to be hooded in the ceremony. My name was called and I confidently began my stroll to the stage. As I began to climb the short staircase to the platform, the toe of my shoe somehow got caught in the hem of my robe and I went DOWN! There's no other way to say it -- I was flat on my face in front of this enormous crowd. Thankfully, I wasn't injured. As I got up and made my way to the stage to get that blasted degree -- I had suffered enough with Queer Theory, my committee, and my dissertation! I was going to get that diploma if I had to CRAWL on stage -- the President, Shirley Raines, made a comment that the first step is always the most dangerous. My face is very close to the color of the pink hood in my graduation photos. One thing is certain though. That is a graduation experience I will never forget!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hits and Misses (May 22-28)

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend that was restful. Now it's time to get back into the swing of here is the holiday (mid-week) edition of the weekly look back at the week that was.....

  • I enjoyed being at home to celebrate Mom's birthday this week. I was pretty drugged up with pain medication, so it wasn't much of a party....but it was still good to be with her on her special day.
  • Thanks to the pain medication and the muscle relaxers, my back improved rapidly. So I was finally able to enjoy some restful sleep that was badly needed.
  • There's nothing like a summer thunderstorm passing through to clean the air, a great blessing to my allergies. The gentle rain that followed was also a wonderful recipe for a night of quiet sleep. There's just nothing like rain falling on the roof of the Geriatric Ward.
  • With summer vacation in full swing, I found myself struggling to make sure that things were still getting accomplished each day. My trusty to-do lists made a return visit to my world and have been just as helpful as always. I still didn't get everything done on the lists, but at least the responsibilities were in front of my eyes.

  • One of the downfalls of splitting my time between Arkansas and Texas this summer has been trying to manage my medications. Trying to refill a couple of recurring medications almost required an act of Congress since my Texas pharmacy took it upon themselves to set up an automatic refill for my meds. A couple of phone calls to both pharmacies as well as the insurance company finally got everything sorted out, but it was certainly a hassle I could have done without.
  • I'm not sure if it's a result of the last bit of physical discomfort this week, the new medicines, or old age (no comments from the peanut gallery are necessary!), but I've been very forgetful this week. I found myself walking into my office the dining room to write something down only to find myself desperately trying to remember what I wanted to write the reminder about! It's really a bad thing!
  • Sometimes everyone just needs to get away from all of the noise and go to a quiet place alone. The Geriatric Ward is a crowded place at the moment, so I have no place to hide away at the moment. Normally, this would be the moment I would hop in the car and take a drive...but the Outlander is still in the shop. No news on how soon I should have it back either. The Junior Geriatrics (yes, it's true!) should be closing on their house in a few weeks....then the Geriatric Ward should return to its normal level of insanity.