Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hay Fever

I am coughing.

I’ve been coughing since the July 4th weekend, and I can’t make it quit. One day, I had that little throat tickle that means your summer cold is about to arrive, and the next day I needed a little band of grade-school kids to follow me around saying, “Oooh, She POPPIN.!” Now it’s just this never ending, sinusy little cough and it’s driving me insane. We went to see Harry Potter over the weekend and I was so nervous that I was going to be the annoying theatre cougher who ruins the movie for everyone, and then I had a realization.

I sound just like Aunt Marian.

Aunt Marian kept a case of what she called “the hay fever” through all four seasons, 365 days each year. I could sit in the balcony at church and hear her coughing into her Kleenex all through the service, and know the back corner was taken care of for another day. The coughing was kind of comforting from a distance, because you knew she was in the building, but from an up close and personal perspective, it embarrassed the fool out of me. No matter where we were, people were offering her water, cough drops and handkerchiefs, and she would just smile and wave them away as she got herself under control. Restaurants, movies, department stores…it didn’t matter where we were, there always seemed to be someone who looked ready to jump her with the Heimlich Maneuver at any second.

It drove me CRAZY. And until now I didn’t realize how much I have missed it.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but somewhere early in her series of stokes she lost the cough, along with everything else that followed: her independence, her driving, her speech and her memory, as if she was being chipped away piece-by-piece. She was mostly confused, often ornery, and seemed to be stuck in Fayetteville, circa 1930. She loved to have visitors, but would get extremely frustrated with her inability to communicate and eventually tire herself out. The last time Pete and I were there, you could get the start of a sentence, with a patented AM catchphrase, “Well, I declare…” and then she would fade off to a soft whisper and we would ask her to repeat herself. But, then sometimes she was a pistol from the minute we walked in the door, adamant that she was going home – sometimes to her childhood home and sometimes to the home we have recently put up for sale – no matter that she could not drive, bathe herself, or move around without help.

And now she is gone.

I have been wondering for quite a while how I was going to handle this whole death thing. I’ve never lost anyone really close before, so I had figured she would be the first one. It’s not going particularly well, which I really find ridiculous especially taking into consideration the length of time we were given to prepare for this.

It’s not as though I don’t have any closure. I sat there at Hospice, both alone with her and beside the rest of the family, watching her fade away from us as we followed Lulu’s instruction that she not ever be left alone. Stubborn, determined Lulu, the most like Aunt Marian of all of us, was holding her hand when she died.

The memorial service captured her perfectly. The pastor, who knew her well and referred to her as “Aunt Marian” rather than “Mrs. Davis” talked about how much of a mother she was, although she had no children, and to me that was always her defining quality. When I was younger I always felt sorry for Aunt Marian, and once I asked her why she and Uncle Jack had never had children. Now I can see the flip side of the situation, and how she had the opportunity to be so important in the lives of so many more children – neighborhood children, church children, all of my Dad’s generation and their children – than she could have if she had been a parent, which is something I am starting to think is a superlative choice.

Now it’s been almost two months, and I think the old bird is haunting me. I dream we are at her old beach house, and can’t get a dial tone on the pay phone she kept in the hallway and I can’t find any change. I keep buying strawberries and those 6-packs of yellow shortcakes rounds to make for dessert. I pore over her datebook from 1981 and call my parents to explain mysterious entries, and wonder how anyone could have that many luncheons. Last weekend I saw a locust, which I thought had all died off earlier this summer, and I laughed, thinking how much she hated locusts and how religiously she stomped them. Pete has caught me crying several times over old photo albums that are supposed to be in storage at my parents’ house.

And now I have this cough. This stupid, annoying, “Jamie, do you want some water?” hay-fever sounding cough.

I get it, old woman. I miss you, too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Foreign Language Fail.

Today, Mom and I stopped for lunch at our local McDonald’s. In our cosmopolitan city, there are now no less than four convenient McDonald’s locations, but the best by far is the original Commerce Ave. Mickey D’s. It might not be as clean as the others, or have a PlayPlace, or be new and fancy with that one-sideways-yellow-slash logo, but the fries are hot and crispy and the sweet tea is almost syrupy in its icy cold sweetness. Maybe it’s just me – I also exclusively patronize our original Wendy’s, even though at times they should probably be shut down and their staff looks greasier than the fries. I swear it tastes better. Just don’t look at the health department rating.

As we walked in the door, there was a Korean man at the counter trying to place his order. He had absolutely no English, so the cashier was using the time-tested method of yelling at him in hopes that he understood. “You want THREE DOUBLES? THREE?” The man ordered, paid, and the line moved on. Just after Mom and I placed our order, he received his. It was wrong. Way wrong.

No one seemed to be sure of what he wanted, but every person in line had an opinion on it. I suppose that’s the spirit of hospitality we have here in LaGrange, because he had plenty of people attempting translation. “He wants a NUMBER three, not THREE DOUBLES!!!”

Finally, the man took his extendable measuring tape out of his belt loop, stretched it out a remarkable distance that would have NEVER been able to stay straight had I been holding it, leaned waaaaaaay over the counter and started tapping the photo of the Number Eleven Value Meal. That’s a Filet-o-Fish meal, for those of you who are curious.

The cashier kept asking, “You wanna eleven? ELEVEN?” as he kept banging on the sign. He would tap chicken nuggets and say “NO” and then tap the Filet-O-Fish and make what looked like a sandwich with his little hands, and say “THREE.”

Because I have a full understanding, not of Korean, but of fast food ordering hand language, I can interpret this to mean that what he really wanted was three filet-o-fish sandwiches without the fries, just the sandwich.

Just as Mom and I received our food and headed towards the booths, the cashier threw her hands in the air and gave up.

She rolled her eyes and said, in a tone of complete and utter exhaustion, “LAW. And you KNOW I don’t know no Spanish.”

Only in the LG.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jamie's So-Called Life

Sometimes I think my life is really a sitcom and nobody told me about it.

Lots of people used to tell me that the Sara Rue character from Less than Perfect, a slightly wacky administrative assistant at a TV station, was oh-so-exactly like me (this was before she became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig) which I never really understood, as I am not at all random and flighty and apt to tell long rambling stories at the office to people looking at me like…I…am…..Oh. Nevermind, then. Moving on.

Anyhow, the big news this week is the marriage of country singers Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I don’t really listen to much post-Shania country music anymore, because it’s mostly pop anyway and Pete hates it. So we compromise and I don’t make him listen to country if he doesn’t make me listen to Perfect Circle. I could write an entire blog post about my hatred for Perfect Circle. So I kept seeing all these articles about Blake and Miranda meeting at a CMT concert where they performed “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” which I have now watched 8 billion times over the past week because I just love a cheesy 70’s country duet. Those late night Time-Life collection infomercials? Oh, I am there.

As a result of all this, I made myself a little Pandora country station and have spent the week trying to train it….Crystal Gayle, yes… Toby Keith, not so much. I have been just as happy as a little clam all week long. Until this morning.

It’s Friday. There is nobody here. So I turned my Pandora up and was singing along with my country station, and Bryan White started singing “Someone Else’s Star.” Oh, broken-hearted ballad of the late 90’s, how I missed you without even realizing it! That whole Bryan White album is like a playlist of old, unrequited crushes. So Bryan and I were just a-singing, and we went in for the last big chorus, “I guess I must be wishing on…..” and at some point in that chorus, the phone rang, and I, without even realizing what I was doing, automatically picked it up, and rather than answer “________ ______ ______ _____ ______” (my very long company name) I totally kept singing into the phone, until I realized what I was doing when someone said, “Hello?” and hung up on me.

Do you know how embarrassing that was? Hugely, hugely embarrassing. Stuff like this happens to me all the time. Remember the blog about when the hottie caught me trying to scratch my peeling, sunburned back with a spiral binder? All the time. I think I just got lost in the moment, because that’s just one of those (bazillion) songs that just puts you back in a very specific time, and I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS!

Perhaps we each should have a playlist. Mine would have, in no particular order:

1. Anything from the Judds Heartland album sounds like riding down the road perched on the hard plastic middle compartment of my parents car, singing my little Dorothy-Hamill-hairstyled heart out while my brother and sister were passed out in the back seat.
2. Anything from the Indigo Girls Rites of Passage album sounds like power ballad-ing with my sister, competing over who can take the melody and who gets stuck with the harmony, which I lose every time. This guy I knew in college once said Lulu sounded powerful like Wynonna and I sound timid like Alison Krauss and she has been really cocky about it ever since.
3. Most of the Paul Simon Graceland album, but especially the song “Homeless” because my brother cracks me up every time he sings along with the choir from Zimbabwe.
4. “Another Lonely Day” by Ben Harper and David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” sound like one college year’s worth of house parties and Josh on acoustic guitar.
5. “Jezebel”, by Heritage Cherry (Shannon Wright before she was “The Wrights.” Townie shout out!) sounds like a Thanksgiving band night at the restaurant where I learned how to wait tables and how not to finish college.
6. That one album Oasis made and early Dave Matthews sound like long road trips in Becky’s red Saab convertible to various locations far and near.
7. Tonic, Danny’s Boy, and the “Once” soundtrack all sound like long afternoons on Leighton’s front porch.

I’m sure there are more, but lunch hour is nearly over and those are just off the top of my head. Do you have a list? If “You’re the Reason God Make Oklahoma” is on it, we have a duet coming up!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

True Love and Hooters.

Here we are during the last week of January, and what did I see today?

Cadbury Eggs.

Normally, I am a huge proponent of keeping holiday items out of sight until their proper season. Like, I don’t like to see Christmas decorations in Wal-Mart before Halloween, you know? Cadbury Eggs are the exception to this. I may have mentioned this before, but Cadbury Eggs should really be available all year long.

Anyhow, the Cadbury eggs threw me for a loop, and all day I have been thinking Easter was next month and how great that was, because it would be warm by then. And then I woke up and realized that something was missing!

Valentine’s Day!!!!

I LOVE Valentine’s Day. (As I have previously discussed.) I love any holiday, really, especially if there is a Charlie Brown special about it, but Valentine’s Day really rocks my socks off. Do you know what I really wish we could do? I wish grown-ups could exchange Valentines. I think it would be so awesome. Valentines are a lot like school supplies. They both give me the same sort of giddiness. Don’t you think it would be fun for that one day a year if you just dropped all your friends a little card? We could make envelopes and put them on our doors. It would be great.

Really, I think kids Valentine’s Day is WAY better than adult Valentine’s Day. I think we try to make too much of it with the flowers and the candy and the restaurant reservations. The most memorable Valentine’s Day of my life occurred when I was in middle school. True story – that year, all five Seagraves piled in the car to go to Columbus. I don’t remember what we were doing down there, maybe we went to see a movie. Anyhow, after we finished doing whatever we were doing, it was dinner time and it dawned on Dad that we were never going to get a table anywhere on Valentine’s Day. There were hour-plus wait times at all every place we stopped. Where is the most embarrassing place a preteen girl can get trapped with her family on Valentine’s Day? Hooters. No joke. I couldn’t look anywhere, so I just kept my face in my sweet tea the whole time and consequently almost peed myself on the way home.

But now, I don’t think about how mortified my conventional little self was to be surrounded with big ol’ boobies at Hooter’s, with my parents and siblings, on Valentine’s Day, when I really wanted to be at some middle school party wearing a Skittles hairbow. I think about how awesome it was that my folks took us to go do whatever activity I am sure we enjoyed before the boobies totally took over the entire story. That’s awesome. That’s love.

That being said, do we think that, hypothetically, if someone saw two lockets on etsy that would make perfect Valentine’s presents and knew her boyfriend would never look there, is it tacky to have someone call him with this information? Because if it’s NOT tacky, please point Pete
here and here.

Or were y’all down with making envelopes? Arts and craft party next week!