The weekend of Hurricane Katrina, I was in Destin, Florida on a church singles retreat. It was supposed to be a weekend of blue skies, great music and spending time with friends that I had looked forward to all summer. We packed our bags and wound our way across central Georgia skirting through Eufala, Alabama until we reached our destination. I had been listening to the news about the storm, but it looked to be veering towards the far side of the gulf and I pushed it from my mind.
Monday was our first day of school, so Sunday night was spent stuffing backpacks with necessities, signing stacks of forms high enough to rival BP’s denials of guilt, and handing out money for lunch accounts. I smiled smugly to myself as I tucked in freshly washed p.e. clothes for my youngest’s middle school gym adventures. Feeling very self-satisfied, I climbed into bed feeling quite optimistic that for once, I had my crap together. Not so much.
Life has slowly been returning to a form of normal this week as I went back to work. My co-workers and I have coined the phrase “The Year of the Question Mark” to describe what lies ahead in the public schools as the budget and millions of details that hinge on it are in flux. Friday, our department had a meeting in Hapeville (home of the original Chick Fil A!) and I packed up to make the dreaded trip down 400 and 75/85 south of the airport.
School starts for my children and myself in T minus 72 hours. Our county had the luxury of being one of the last to start back, so the boys were able to squeeze out a little more summer before doomsday arrives. My tenth grader’s battle cry for the past two weeks has been “I can’t go to bed this early (11 pm)! It’s still MY summer!!” Did I mention he has a bit of the dramatic to him? Next week, six a.m. is going to be quite the smack in the face for all of us.
I was waiting at the car dealership the other day for my oil change and aimlessly doodling in my composition notebook I carry with me. The one I bring in case I get “inspired” and need to write it down before my sieve of a 40-something brain replaces it with the lyrics from an 80s song I couldn’t remember the day before. There were a variety of people also waiting, avoiding conversation and pretending the listen to the blathering of Fox news until their cars were ready. I have always thought that my perception of life was at times just a little skewed, that I tend to notice things that give me a giggle that others wouldn’t even notice. It’s not a gift, rather an eccentricity of mine. Case in point were the waiting room occupants and their ring tones.
I have two growing boys and my grocery bill usually hovers around the equivalent of my mortgage every month. Thank God I had two brothers growing up or I would have been convinced my children were part of a Discovery Health show called “Help, I Can’t Stop Eating Everything Not Nailed Down”. I remember my mom unloading the grocery bags from the car and my brothers pawing through them like they hadn’t been fed in weeks! She took to hiding extra food in a hall closet to pace them, restocking the pantry after they were asleep (or in a food coma, I couldn’t really tell the difference). The most infuriating thing was that my brothers could eat hourly and not gain a pound. They are both getting close to their forties now, so it will catch up with them soon!
I have to admit something here. I like gossip. No, not the water cooler, busybody type, as I am usually the last one to know anything that happens at work, but the “Hollywood dirt” type. I regularly read through sites that detail the who, what, where, when and how often of famous actors and actresses and frankly I think I should feel a little more embarrassed about it. But I don’t.
My oldest son is 15 and itching to get his learner’s permit. I am not quite as enthusiastic about this process and really have mixed feelings. After getting up to drive him to two-a-day football practices at 6, it would really be nice to just have him drive himself and get a few more minutes of precious sleep. On the other hand, driving in the Atlanta suburbs is scary for the new drivers as well as their fellow road warriors in a land that doesn’t use turn signals, tailgates like they were drafting in a NASCAR race and thinks 55 is just a silly suggestion for their expensive automobiles.
We spent the morning in downtown Alpharetta Saturday for the 58th annual Old Soldiers Day Parade. It seems a little cruel to make our older veterans get dressed out and march on a sweltering August day, but tradition overrules moving the event to a cooler time of year, I guess. People set up chairs in whatever bits of shade they could claim and a local insurance agent and chiropractor passed out fans advertising their companies to people along the route. We gratefully took one and fanned ourselves as vigorously as we waved the small flags the Boy Scouts also handed out to the onlookers. There were the obligatory opening comments and the city band kept people tapping their toes to music reminiscent of fourth of July just a few weeks ago. It felt very small town America and all kinds of patriotic.
I tend to be a teeny bit overprotective according to my children, and I agree. I always feel like I am tugging one back from the edge of danger and tucking them under my wings, my older one more than my youngest. He is most like me, a little more cautious and wary than his older brother who leaps first and looks later (ruh-roh!). My boys know that I am the one freak of a mom who is actually going to call the parents of whoever’s house they are headed to for the following reasons: a. do I know the family? b. are the parents home or even aware that kids are headed over? c. are they on parole or do have any weapons on them (just kidding…kind of)?