Thursday, June 22, 2006

once a band geek - always a band geek

i got an email this week. from my high school band director's wife.

her husband, my band director, is retiring next week.

and for the record - so that everyone gets this straight - i was his favorite. not only was i a band geek and damn proud of it - i was the teacher's (band director's) pet. oh yes i was. he's reading this shaking his head back and forth - and to that i say - WAS TOO!

i wanted to be in band in the worst way from the time i was in elementary school and i watched them march into the football stadium before the friday night games. eyes straight ahead, no smiles, all serious - the cadence pounding in my head. i wanted to be a part of that. wanted it something awful.

and i got it. and more. i got the bestest, coolest, funniest, most talented band director i could have ever imagined. i LOVED this man. i would say i worshipped him but don't want it to go to his head. and his ego is such that it does not need inflating. now or then. he is/was so talented. we seldom had 'bought' music - he wrote all our stuff. he'd hear a song he liked (cool stuff like Styx and David Lee Roth) and write the parts for every instrument in the band. seriously. if you don't know anything about music - that's kinda a big deal. and drill - good gawd - one of his band buddies would write our drill - i was told he used to write for Drum Corp International (DCI) and i believe it. we NEVER stood still - not during the entire show. he had our butts marching up, down and around that dad gum field.

and we never once lost a half time show. in the four years i marched for him - we outplayed and out marched every single band we came up against. if you think the only competition at a football game is between the football players - you are sadly mistaken. we took our half-time competition very seriously.

he was a task master - and we were devoted to him. he worked us harder and longer than we thought possible. and we wanted to. he was so good at getting the very best out of us. and we wanted to give it our best. for him. we'd rather break a leg than disappoint him.

he was/is a horrible prankster. each year, he'd select two freshman - on an average school day - 5th period - band and take them aside and send them off on a task. separately. when they were gone - he'd explain to us that they had gone in search of the paper stretcher.

do what?!

that the paper he had received from the vendor was not long enough and that he needed to stretch it. the rest of the staff on campus was in on the gig too. so these two students went for class to office and teacher to teacher throughout the period looking for the paper stretcher. each teacher had to sign their hall pass. the student who came back with the most signatures was the 'winner.'

i knew he loved me most when i came home at the end of one summer for band camp. i spent the summers working in atlanta at six flags over georgia and would come home for band camp.
so one time, at band camp ...
actually before camp started - i was driving home - in my neighborhood - did i mention that he lived two houses up from my folks? so driving home and there is this hand painted sign tied to two huge trees - had to be 20 feet above the road - and it read
i laughed till i cried. i knew he loved me best then.

to this day, i still have dreams about being out there on that field and marching to a stadium full of hometown fans. of course in my dreams i am usually nekkid or have forgotten my drill - some nightmare like that.

but here's my point - being in band - being a band geek - learning all i did from HIM all those many years ago is STILL and will ALWAYS be a huge part of me and who i am.

i asked his wife once if he had any idea of what an impact he had on young lives? did he know what a difference he has made to hundreds - thousands - of kids over the years. i don't recall her exact response word for word but the basic answer was "No."

so here's my retirement note to Mr. Sprinkell -
being in band - in YOUR band - was one of the absolute very best experiences of my entire life. beyond learning there are 8 steps to 5 yards, how to play an instrument and march in 105 degree heat, that sweating and sunburns will not kill me, that i cannot chew gum and walk in your presence and even though i am your favorite - you will yell at me and give me the hairy eyeball to keep me in line - beyond all that - you taught me - you taught all of us - about determination, PRIDE, discipline, hardwork as well as to value talent and how to develop skill.

you pushed us harder than most of us had ever been pushed before in our tender young lives. your expectations for us were beyond our own and constantly drove us to excel. we played difficult music, marched the most intricate drills, practiced longer and harder than most of us had ever worked on ANYTHING - EVER.

and we wanted to - for YOU! sometimes we loved you. sometimes we hated you. but we always respected you and strove to give it (you) our very best when between the end zones.

and when we marched off the field at the end of a show - you always had your poker face on. you didn't want the crowd - or us even - to know your reaction to our performance. but over the years i came to recognize this sparkle in the corner of your eye when we had done good. don't know if everyone else picked up on - they likely did - but even you couldn't completely contain it when your band had pulled off a stellar performance.

and i know you well enough to know that you are wearing your poker face now. marching off the field for the last time. into retirement. and you should know - i can see that sparkle in the corner of your eye - all the way out here.

i love worship and adore you.
i am grateful to you.
i am thankful for you.
i wish you all the very best in the next chapter of your life.

love and hugs,
your favorite - Me

Friday, June 16, 2006

high as a kite

been a red letter week.

have worked like a dog at work - but no demos and no travel - so not too stressful.

hubby had a birthday. cooked birthday dinner.


hubby works for a luxury auto dealership in a burb of Dallas. his dealership is in the process of renovating the service drive. it is huge. they had laid PAVESTONE on the entire drive. didn't meet standards of some sort. told them to RIP IT UP. t_cole got two extended bed pickup truck loads of pavestones this week. FREE! can you say NEW PATIO??? patio, landscaping, fountain, arbor - i am just about to die happy.

i am feeling the love, people.

ok, so he got a oklahoma joe's smoker for Father's Day and a new mountain bike for his birthday - he didn't rate too poorly either.

oh, and he got me a reversible lined Lexus windbreaker with his points from work. It is this gorgeous charcoal brown on the outside and Pissy - get this - PINK on the inside. too bad it's like 125 degrees here - cause i rock in that jacket.

finally - why am i high as a kite???? as if that's not enuf...

two weeks from right now i will be sitting in Mississippi with my childhood boyfriend and his wife. i spent like an hour on the phone with HER tonight. OMIGAWD - i like her so much. I cannot wait till they get here. i promise stories - at least the ones that are fit to print and pictures - but not the ones of me in a swimsuit - are you mad?

but i feel like a kid in a candy store. the anticipation. the excitement. the sugar overload - yep that's me.

high as a stink'n KITE i tell ya...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

stranger than fiction

i spent seven of the longest, most miserable months of my life in 1992-93 in baltimore, maryland.
and before i start getting hate mail from baltimore supporters, let me say this - i am sure baltimore is a perfectly nice city. it simply was not the right place for me between October 1992 and April 1993.

and it was mutual.
i did not like baltimore.
baltimore did not like me.

i got to baltimore because of a man.
a man i had met in vail.
a man I thought i was in love with and could not live without.
apparently i was wrong.

he lived in NY.
the company i worked for was transferring me and i had a choice of destinations - so i picked the east coast to be closer to him.
huge life altering mistake.
in the seven months i suffered in baltimore, i saw him once.

while in baltimore, i held two jobs. one with the company that transferred me cross country and another waiting tables at an olive garden in columbia, md. the second job, i enjoyed. the first, not so much.

anyway, on Easter Sunday of 1993, i put my back to that city on the Chesapeake Bay and drove away.
never, ever to return.
good riddance.

but return i did. this week. for my current work.
and it weren't so bad. a few brief stomach turning moments, but i survived...
work was great. demo went beautifully.
had some FABULOUS seafood. soft shell crab, lump crabmeat et al.

so wednesday morning we (my coworker and i) show up at the customer site. meet their team. as usual - very nice, capable, talented people. the young woman in charge of the team is familiar to me. that's pretty common - as i have met so many customers over the years. so i try to place her. ask if she went to our conference in vegas last month. no. has she ever been in any of my classes? no.
hmmm. i am imagining things. oh well.

back to business. we dial up the office in the UK and start the presentation. goes well. really well. so we invite their team out to lunch afterwards. we decided to head down to the Inner harbor for some seafood.

in the car on the way down, their team leader asks if this is our first visit to baltimore. i wasn't really going to volunteer that i had spent 7 hellish months in their lovely city but before i could compose my response, my coworker volunteered that i had actually lived in baltimore once.

i said yes, i lived here, briefly. before moving back home to mississippi.

and this is where it gets good...

so this young woman i had been working with all day - the lead on their team - says to me, "i knew a t_cole once that moved to mississippi. we waited tables together."


"at the olive garden" i almost screamed.

"YES!!!" in unison!

Holy Crap! of all the people in all the buildings in all of downtown baltimore my customer's team lead ends up being someone i waited tables and partied with 13 years earlier?


Monday, June 05, 2006

i am a complete failure

as a mother
i have proof...

exhibit 1

saturday. shopping at Nordstrom's Rack. (the mother ship calls me home when i get too close)

leaving dressing room. have Sam and Smith with me. Smith expresses that he'd like to make his own path and not go with me. i say "fine - you stay here. but momma is leaving."

sam thinks i am really leaving him and proceeds to start tantrum. and lest you have forgotten - she is a professional tantrum thrower. like nothing most people have ever seen with their own eyes.

i turn to her and make an attempt to divert tantrum - usually a lost cause. i keep one eye on smith - still moving away from me.

i look at her. i turn to smith. i see him run the other way. i tell her to freeze - i am going to get brother. when i get to the aisle he went down - six steps away - he is nowhere to be seen.

so i start calling his name. nothing
i call a bit louder. still nothing.
sam is melting. i cannot tend her till i find smith.

the store is jam packed crowded with saturday shoppers. looking at me.

my heart is pounding in my ears. i am suddenly high on pure un-cut adrenaline. i am sweating.

i glance to the front door. i have full view of the back door. the thought goes through my mind that someone could be leaving right now with my precious son.

stay calm. do not panic. i tell myself.

i turn up the search a notch. i start saying loudly - though not yelling - "I AM LOOKING FOR A LITTLE BOY. HE IS TWO. HAS CURLY HAIR AND IS WEARING A GRAY T-SHIRT"

i love being the center of attention - always have. until this exact moment in time.

so i plant sam - with her hand on the buggy - in the exact spot i saw him last and i tell her NOT TO MOVE - that brother might come back here. i start to the far side of the store - where we went first when we came in. i am repeating myself, louder still.


people are looking under racks. staring at me. giving me the "Bad Mother" look.

as i turn the corner to the FAR SIDE of the store i see him. a woman is walking toward me - holding his hand. his tear-filled, red-rimmed eyes match mine exactly. he runs into my arms. i inhale him and smother him with kisses as i thank the woman profusely and start running back to sam.

sam, of course, has moved. but not far. she sees me and runs to me. into me. nearly knocks me over. clings on for dear life - to me and brother. we are all trembling. sweating.

i pay for my items and leave as fast as humanly possible.

exhibit #2
this morning.
i am in my room - working.
sam is in the den watching tv.
we are at opposite ends of the house.
she comes to my room and tells me there is someone here.
i take my time getting up and going to the door. i expect to find the AC guy outside still getting his equipment out of his truck.
but when i get to the den, the front door is WIDE open and there is a young man standing on my front porch. selling some sort of summer eductional material for kids.
i tell him i am not interested.
he is undeterred.
my southern upbringing does not allow me to shut the door in his face.
i tell him my daughter's tuition for the fall is $15K and that leaves nothing in our budget for summer materials (much less food).
i finally get rid of him.
i shut the door.

turn to sam
and proceed with

i continued with horror stories about how mommy would not even have known she was gone. that i would have thought she ran away. i ranted until i could not breathe.

and then i realize - i am a complete failure as a mom when it comes to keeping my kids safe.

told you i had proof...

Friday, June 02, 2006

dead as a doornail

I had the opportunity on my recent travels to do a small bit of recreational reading. I have a stack of non-child or work related books 3 feet high - set aside for this purpose and i more often add to than take away from this dusty library.

so taking away - and finding it to be a delicious read - is a true guilty pleasure.

my choice - The Secret Life of Bees.

and the following passage really struck a chord. so much so that i have gone back and re-read it every day since i got home.

"Have you ever noticed the more you try not to think, the more elaborate your thinking episodes get? While trying not to think, I spent twenty minutes on this fascinating question: if you could have one miracle from the Bible happen to you, what would it be? I eliminated the one about multiplying loaves and fishes, as I never wanted to see food again. I thought walking on water would be interesting, but what good was that? I mean, you walk on water, what's the point? I settled on getting raised from the dead, since a big part of me still felt dead as a doornail."

this from the central character in the story, 14 year old Lily.

and me - what miracle would i choose? as you've prolly guessed, i'd have to agree with Lily - i too feel dead as a doornail.