Remembering the Tidal Wave

-There’s no denying that this week, the week of June 18, sucks. Maybe it always will.  Each moment of June 18, 2013…and the days leading up to it, are pounding brain in tidal waves of memory and grief this week. I’m not alone in grief; I don’t pretend to be. I don’t share these thoughts in an effort to seem important, but because these feelings are important, and we all have them. They merit expression in words, which don’t come easily for everyone.  Our stories matter. Here’s some of mine-

It’s not just remembering saying goodbye the day you died. It’s the remembrance of everything in those last days.

That final trip to the hospital, when you were discharged and assigned hospice care.  I promised to make you something good to eat when we got home. You just looked at me with those sad, blue, dolphin eyes. You smiled, slightly; I took a photo.  I didn’t know that you were saying goodbye, then. I had absolutely no idea. Not until June the 19, when I was sorting out pictures for the funeral arrangements. I looked at that photo – taken only days before – and saw your face looking back at me in that moment: brave, sad, loving, pitying.

At home, family began to arrive. Hospice gravely told us you had a few weeks, perhaps. The truth was it would only be a few days. Dad went back to the bedroom and told you, quietly, what they’d said. I heard you cry out, “I don’t want to die yet!” The loudest words you’d spoken in weeks. It broke my heart. Breaks my heart, even at this very moment; I can hear it now.

That night I screamed. And screamed. This was a nightmare I had had over and over as a small child. But was this real? Was this real? No, no, couldn’t be. It was. But it couldn’t be.

Surely I would wake up.

The next day, you went to sleep.

 Your friends and family poured in. Bringing food. Sitting in the bed next to you. Singing and praying and kissing your face as you drifted in and out of awareness.  I lay in bed with my arms around you while you slept. I tried not to cry, in case you would hear, but once I lost control. You hadn’t moved all day, until then. You moaned and lifted your hand to rub my back, softly. Small tears slipped out of the corners of your closed eyes. Later, there would be a tiny bit of dry salt there.

Don’t worry. I know how much you love me. Always have. Always will.

June 17: The night before it happened, I sat near you with my husband and my best friend. We read you poems. You seemed content, though you did not stir. Dad held your hand all night: so sweet, so vigilant.

I went to home.

He called the next morning. Early. Barely able to get the words out, he told me that you were struggling to breathe, “fish out of water,” he said.

I made it just in time, which was a miracle. Another miracle; you heard my voice and opened your eyes: looked at me, into me.

That’s how you left the world, looking into me.

Pouring your love into me, just like you always had.

I saw you leave. Saw the light go out. Saw your body empty of you. I know where you went.

No one could die better. What a hard thing, but what an honor, it was: to say goodbye like that, your eyes on mine. It’s a memory that hurts and haunts me, but I treasure it all the same. Sometimes, a lot of times, that’s the image I see when I close my eyes at night.

-People say that grief comes in waves, and they are right. That’s how it feels. Like a tidal wave. I think that the first year is the worst for most people: you never know how high the waves are going to be, when they are going to hit. It’s not that you miss someone less after the first year; it’s just that you learn to keep swimming. Life keeps happening no matter how much you feel like it should have stopped. Eventually it just becomes part of you. That doesn’t mean you forget, or that it doesn’t hurt anymore, but it becomes a different sort of thing. You learn to anticipate what might trigger it: holidays, birthday and weeks like this one: the anniversary of the loss.

It’s been 3 years now, and most days I keep swimming pretty well. But this week has – like a tidal wave – knocked me off my feet. I wasn’t expecting it, somehow. All these memories to come flooding in this strongly. It sucks – literally sucks the air out of me-sucks me down under the weight of everything. People who haven’t had this kind of loss in their lives don’t quite realize how much these waves can  feel less like sadness and more like raw horror. While I share this without a bow on top, without any dusting of sugar, I do know that it won’t always hurt like this.

Next week will be better, different, again. But I do think it’s important to acknowledge our pain when we’re in it. We feel these things  because we’ve lost something valuable–in our grief, we acknowledge the value of what we’ve lost.

As my mom always said, “It is what it is.”

Fruit and Flowers: 4th Anniversary

They say you won’t be able to sleep the night before your wedding, and that, the day of your wedding, you will be jittery and nervous.  Last night when I went to sleep, I got to thinking about how none of that had been true for me, exactly four years ago.

The night before my wedding, I was excited, but not nervous. I slept well, if little: the “little” part was only because it had been a late night visiting with family and because I had to get up early the next morning to get beautiful. I remember the strange realization that fell over me as I crawled into my childhood bed, head on “The Little Mermaid” pillowcase that my mom had put there (probably with emotions that I can only begin to understand now that I’m a mother.)

I realized that I wouldn’t be sleeping there anymore, not unless there was some special reason. My best friend and maid-of-honor was sleeping on an air mattress or something in my room, and I realized that I was – for the most part – saying goodbye to Little Mermaid pillowcases and slumber parties (I have since realized that there are some exceptions!)

It was the last of so many things I knew, with infinite firsts on the horizon.

But I slept, and slept well, maybe because I knew that it was all new for Dane, too. That’s what marriage is, in large part: loving someone enough to say, “Hey, whatever it is, this life together, I want it with you. Let’s jump into the unknown, holding hands. You are my person, and we will help each other  with all the firsts & all the lasts, too.”

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Four years later, and I know there is no one else that I’d rather be holding my hand. We are blessed to share so many things in common: creative interests, nerdy stuff, morals and values, perspectives on family and faith. We enjoy each other, though we are not perfect at all. We are also incredibly different from one another in ways that can make things challenging for us sometimes.

In the way we approach life, we couldn’t be more opposite: I’m over here clumsily juggling 20 balls in the air (and dropping some, like “oh well!”) Meanwhile, he’s in the opposite corner, slowly and carefully entering each task into a spreadsheet, thinking of the best way to get each thing done. I’m more emotional, passion-driven. He is more practical, rule-oriented.  Sometimes we step on each other’s toes.

Sometimes we also show our affection in different ways, which can mean that, sadly, we often miss what the other has done in a wholehearted effort to say, “I love you.” When we have these differences, though, we are both learning to grasp the realization that what the other was trying to say was, in fact, “I love you,” and that’s really what matters most.

We’ve been through a lot of death and a lot of change in four short years, and I think it’s made us both realize how short life is. And this year we celebrate our anniversary with our little girl.  I think she has made our hearts grow larger, so that as our love for her has grown, our love and appreciation for one another has, too. Every day I am grateful for the love that binds us. Every day I am grateful our life together.

Happy 4th Anniversary, Dane!

(Apparently, we are supposed to give each other fruit and flowers.)

 

 

The Beauty of Blockbuster

Growing up,  my mom and I would often hit the local Blockbuster after school. I’ve got this clear picture of the event: me in my school uniform, rain dripping down on our green van. It’s probably a Thursday afternoon. Thursday afternoons are the best time for Blockbuster. It gives you weekend movies and Friday-flourescent-light-daydreams of vegging out.

We didn’t just go when a new movie was out on DVD or (gasp) video, either. We went when we were in a mood that needed to find resonance at a cinematic level.

It’s the same mood you have when you venture into the library or into a bookstore. You don’t know where you are about to go, but you know there is some kind of journey ahead. It’s a journey that involves walking down aisles that are stocked with possibility, each containing a world all it’s own.

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Then, gradually, then quickly, life changed. We became the instant age.

Remember when Netflix first arrived and you just put a whole bunch of things in your online cue, but you didn’t know what they might send you? It was a new surprise each time, and it was the hippest Russian Roulette to date. Then came the days when you could watch Netflix from your laptop (if you were really cool).

Today, pretty much everyone has Netflix available right on their TV screen (and by that, we  mean what used to be known as “instant watch”). It’s nice, I mean, it’s convenient and yes—it’s perfect for chilling. Heck, there’s a whole layer of Millenials (not my layer, but the younger ones) who base their social lives around the phrase, “Netflix and chill.” (Yes, I know, that’s not actually what that means…and this post is just gonna dodge that bullet.)

I’m not saying Netflix is bad, not at all. I love my Netflix, especially now that they are coming out with these amazing original series (Daredevil, anyone?). All I’m saying is that now, Blockbusters are no more. One day, I will have to explain to my children and grandchildren that – back when I was a kid – we used to have to go to a store and pay to borrow a movie that we wanted to watch. It probably will sound terrible to them, maybe their little eyes will widen in horror. Is this the future equivalent to walking “six miles in the snow?”

But I don’t know if there will be a way to explain it. The process of taking time, the physical act of pacing, picking choices up, putting them down. What mood are you in? What kind of weekend will it be?

I don’t know if I will ever be able to tell them how such a simple act had the ability to slow down dull, rainy Thursday afternoons, how it provided the therapeutic ability to process, analyze and make mood-oriented cinematic choices.

But there it is, the long-lost  beauty of Blockbuster.

 

The Power of Nerd Awe

Awe: a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

Nerds have a great deal of awe. In fact, nerds have a special kind of awe, different from the awe of others.

It is this Nerd Awe that gives the Nerd his power.  It’s an energy field created by all epic things. It surrounds us literature and film lovers and binds us together, connecting our mundane and fantastical worlds.

Do you have this great power in YOU?

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Ponder these things in your heart,  and you will know the answer.

Have you ever stayed up until the early hours of the morning with a book…Eyes heavy with fatigue, heart racing with adrenaline? You know that, if you fall asleep, they may never find the final Horcrux.

Have you ever felt tingles down your spine as you listen to a John Williams score, overwhelmed by the complicated emotions brought on by the Force?

Have you ever been filled with joy, smiling to yourself like a moron, over the typed words on a page, the scene from a film, that reminds you that friendship is so much more than text messages or hangouts? True friendship, you realize, goes to Mount Doom and Back Again, no matter the consequences.

Have you ever read a line from a book and felt like dancing up and down: “Someone else understands! Somebody gets it, and they said it better than I ever even thought to think it.”

Do you ever listen to music and daydream that you are fighting an army (zombies, orcs, wizards, etc) and totally killing it? (Be honest, now.)

Have you ever tried to use a superpower that maybe, just maybe you actually have, but you just have to believe it enough?

Do you ever get goosebumps from a feeling that you can’t quite describe, a sensation connected to the rediscovery of an alternate view of the world…and world of ancient, long-forgotten binaries:  good versus evil, right versus wrong, what we can do and what we must do.

Do all of these things inspire you? To read. To write. To travel. To make deep friendships. To have adventures?

If you know these things to be true, then wield the mighty power of Nerd Awe well, and you could change the world. 

Just remember, my fellow Nerds: with great power comes great responsibility.

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“…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”

-John Green

The Struggle of Living in the Present

Living in the present is both something that I conscientiously try to do, maybe more than most people…. and it’s also something which is a real and honest struggle for me.

It’s started really early for me. I can probably peg it to a dream I had when I was about four. I had this dream that my mom died, and I woke up crying because I realized-for the first time- that one day she probably would go before me. It became my worst fear for most of my childhood. My mom was my best friend, and I didn’t want her to go. I tried to appreciate her as much as possible. Then, as many of you know, she did end up leaving this world way too soon. Have you ever had your childhood nightmare unfurl in front of you? Trying to stretch time out before the trauma comes, to love as hard as possible but  finding it’s not enough to retain the present? It leaves you with a weird relationship with time. You realize that it will keep slipping away even as you try, so deliberately, to soak it in.

I also remember when I turned 10, being kind of contemplative about how great my childhood had been up until that point and the fact that it was going  by too quickly. I was definitely aware that time was speeding up and I needed to enjoy it, but the fact that I was so aware  made it hard to do that.

Was I just a weird kid? Are there others of you out there?

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There are a plethora of similar examples, but I think they all essentially represent a serious paradox of the introspective, melancholy type.

Fundamentally, we are aware of the present. We are aware of its joy, of its depth in grief, of its illusive inability to be captured. There are photographs we consciously take in an awareness of the fleetingness of life. I do think that those mental photographs are one of the best things I do to live in the present, but it’s still hard to keep the ongoing moment in focus when I know I am trying to remember something that might be gone, later. My mind always is slipping forward, to the “What if? Whens?” or backward to the “Remember?” It’s hard to keep it still.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that’s all bad. The fact that my brain tries too hard to appreciate the present does actually help me appreciate people and events in my life better, I think. However, it can still steal my joy in the present.

I was struggling the other night as I lay in bed, caught between memories and inevitabilities and yearning for the peace of the present.

I realized, suddenly, that I have one anchor throughout all my life. Just one.

The Lord is in every time and every place, and He has always been-will always be-with me, wherever I am.  There’s a saying that, in life, we enter and leave alone, but as a Christian I know that that’s not true. My God is with me in every stage of my life, and there is so much comfort in that realization.

So my prayer for today-yours, if you want it-  is for joy in the present, appreciating but not overthinking. Each moment God has made was made to be lived in.

“This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118: 24

 

Why Self-Publish?

Recently, I decided to publish a short story of mine using Kindle Direct Publishing.

My reasons were pretty simple:

  1. I had a finished something that I thought people might enjoy reading, but as a single, short story, it wasn’t the sort of thing I felt would be a good fit for trying to publish the traditional way.
  2. I was wanting to figure out how hard/simple self-publishing through Kindle is.I mean, I’ve always kind of wondered. Haven’t you? It’s something a lot of us aspiring  writers think about, right? I considered this to be kind of a tester; if I liked it, I would consider submitting other good-fit-for-self-publishing works (GFSPW)  in the future.  What is a GFSPW? I’ll get there.
  3. It just seemed like it would be fun. I think about doing things “one day,” but don’t always follow through. It feels good to follow through.

So my short story, “The Memory Thief,”  (Do you want to read it?? Click HERE) came out and several people read it and gave me good feedback, which felt really good. I didn’t make much money out of it or anything, but that wasn’t really why I did it (not this time anyway). See, Kindle has two royalty options if you self-publish. Depending on the price of your book, you can chose the amount of royalties you receive (generally 70% or 30%). You can read about that at kdp.amazon.com. But, anyway, I ended up choosing the 30% option because I didn’t want to ask more than $0.99 for my short story. If you do the math on that, you’ll see that I’d have to sell a whole lot of copies to make any kind of money.

But the whole process was really fun, and it got me thinking about how we pre-judge self-publishing as a last resort sometimes when, really, it might be the best option for that particular little manuscript you have sitting around on your desk.

The Memory Thief Cover

Here are some reasons self-publishing might be the best fit for your story:

  1. You want to be in control of when your book is released (and how much you make from it). I got to thinking about this. Let’s say  I had a book that I knew people would be interested in reading,  so I choose the 70% royalty option and price my book at $4.99. I could potentially make a decent amount of money, a lot sooner than the author who gets his or her book published the traditional way, particularly if I invested a little in advertising. That’s something to think about if you want to make your living from your pen, and do it fast.
  2.  You are willing to be more than just a writer, or at least willing to ask others for help.  The way technology works today (social media, Twitter, vlogs) gives creative types a means to be our own managers in an unprecedented way. However, you do have to work. Furthermore, if you are self-publishing something you have written, you also want it to be as polished as it can be. To take advantage of all the possible opportunities and make your book stand-out amidst the plethora of self-published works, it’s going to take either a versatile person who can edit, graphic design and knows something about SEO and/or marketing. Or it’s going to take asking/ hiring other people to do those things. If you can do that, self-publishing might be a good fit for you.
  3. You have a GFSPW. Totally a term I made up, and I told you I’d explain what that means, so here’s what I think it means. You might have a GFSPW (Good for Self-Publishing Work) if:
    1. You are previously unpublished but you have written: a collection of poetry, a short story or anthology of short stories. This kind of stuff is extra hard to get published the traditional way (unless, paradoxically, you are published already…), but if you get it out there initially through self-publishing it can be a good first step for your future endeavors….and…people get to see into your mind a little, which is very satisfying for authors and poets, in particular.
    2. You are writing genre fiction that falls into the romance (or paranormal romance), mystery, sci-fi or fantasy category. Maybe your book, or series of books, isn’t something that you feel would stand out to publishers. However, with a genre like this, you can feel pretty confident that if it’s well-written and well-advertised, people will download it on Kindle. A TON of self-published authors make a nice living by being in control of their own genre-fiction.
    3. On the other hand, you could also have a good GFSPW if you are publishing something that doesn’t really fit into a box. Publishing houses like works with a clearly defined genre/readership. You could have something great, but maybe it’s just a little bit of a square peg to the round hole. For instance, my mom wrote a book (that is my next project, and one I also plan to self-publish), and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to tie  it to one specific genre, or even two. Because of that, and the fact that I really want it out there, I’m probably going to do the KDP route again.

Having your book published the traditional way is,  of course, an immense honor! There are projects of mine that I definitely would rather see the light of day via the publishing house avenue, if I am ever that fortunate. However, I also think there are plenty of reasons to choose (not settle for, choose) self-publishing as well. What about you writers out there? Thoughts?

P.S. the GFSPW acronym got me thinking about S.P.E.W. 10 points if you know what that is.

Ode to an Irish Blessing Mug

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Today I wanted to make myself a proper cup of English tea, and in doing so I came across this mug:

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It’s pretty fortuitous that I would be using this Irish blessing mug on today of all days. And not just because it’s Irish, actually. This mug has a story.

When I was 14, I traveled back and forth between Georgia and Mississippi with my parents once a month, and we would stay in this house (the same one I live in now) for a week. This house actually belonged to my great-grandparents, and it’s special to all of my family. It’s not that it’s large or fancy or worth whole lot of money; it’s really just a small, simple house, a bit rough around the edges these days. Despite those things, it’s rich in memories for all of us, and I feel very blessed that my dad was able to bring us to live here part-time then, and that I get to live here full-time now.

Anyway, back to then. After about a year of traveling back and forth so frequently, my family stopped and stayed in GA for awhile. This house  lay empty for almost ten years. I remember the first time I brought Dane, then my boyfriend (I think it was 2010) to this house. It was so strange, like it had been frozen in time. The pictures we had kept on the fridge were still there, my old bedroom had an issue of Pointe magazine (I was a ballerina) on the nightstand and the photo I had pinned to the mirror of Josh Groban was still there. It was eerie, to be honest, as if my 14 year old self still existed and had just run out to do something.

And now, even more years later, I live here again, and new memories of my life with Dane and Kora and my Mississippi relatives are layered over those snapshots of time from that year I spent sweet time here with my parents. The fact that my dad has since had a stroke and my mom has passed away makes it seem like much longer ago than a mere 12 years (sometimes, I feel ancient) then there are the other memories-memories from when I was a little kid and I’d come here to see my Mamaw and all of my cousins and I would run around in the yard. There are more stories still, overlapping that–memories that are not my own, but my dad’s, my uncle’s, my aunt’s…stories that didn’t happen to me, but are still a very real part of who I am.

How the heck did I get to this thought-rambling with a mug full of tea (which is now cold, btw)? Here’s how: I bought that mug when I was 14, on one of our trips here.  Somehow it had become buried among my Mamaw’s Christmas mugs in the deepest, darkest corner of the kitchen cabinets. And, despite the fact that we’ve been in this house for over a year now, I only recently re-discovered it.

It just made me think of the way that memories layer themselves. They hide, are found, take on new meanings later.

When I was 14, I’m sure the words “May the road rise up to meet you,” made me think of some grand adventure that I was going to have (my LOTR fandom was at its height), but now those words make me think of what a dreamer I was then and what it felt like to have an open road of possibilities. I think of how life did not turn out the way I thought it would, but how I truly do love my life.

The roads we walk are never predictable, but we have to enjoy them as they unfold, because we only get one  road -I hope I can always stop and look back on the way the memories I’ve created along the way-the gorgeous moments and the tragic ones. Those moments overlap and combine to create one beautiful life that I am grateful for.

Thanks Irish Blessing Mug. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

February: 10 Things to Love

You know how Oprah has her favorite things?

And then she’s like….

 

Well, I’m a little Oprah-inspired here, so I’d like to share, with YOU,   some of my favorite things….or “Things to Love.”

While I can’t promise you they will be hiding under your seat, hopefully they are things that you can have in your life, easily, and enjoy them as much as I do.

Also, my enthusiasm may not wear suits and fling it’s arms out wide, but that’s only because I have to take a selfie of my own excited face.

SEE……

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EXCITED!

10 Things to Love in February

  1. Tea from a teapot. I learned this in England and conveniently forgot it after I’d been back in the states for awhile: tea is ALWAYS better from a teapot. Lately, I’ve been trying to drink more green tea lately, and making a nice, steamy pot of tea makes me actually want to drink it.
  2. My own candle. No one else’s, just mine. To be burnt only when I want, and extinguished only when I want.  My aunt bought me this one, soiree from Park Hill Candles. It’s probably the most amazing and fragrant candle ever. Don’t touch my candle!
  1. 12722161_10206916985176109_203307505_n3. Relatives who babysit. Grad school has been super tough lately. It’s hard to concentrate for hours at a time on heavy philosophical stuff when your little child is crying and/or needing something and/or scrambling around on the floor, heading for the fireplace. I’ve had some help this week. Kora has had a blast with her family, and it’s been such a blessing to me.

2. The Valentine’s Day aisle. I am a Valentine’s Day freak. I love it. When I see all the pink and red hearts everywhere, my heart has a panic attack of love.

3.Taking a walk. Good de-stressor. Good way to stay in shape. Good time to talk with friends.

4. Skinny chocolate. Guilt-free, healthy, easy to make. It’s a Trim Healthy Mama thing. and there are lots of yummy variations. I’m not even doing Trim Healthy Mama, I just think it’s a win-win.

5. Jazz music. Light that special candle, make a pot of tea, put on some Jazz music, and what do you have? You have company in like five minutes because I’m so there. Seriously. We’ve been playing older and contemporary jazz a ton in this household lately. It makes every night feel special, like a party.

6. Johnny Flynn. Johnny Flynn’s music is also on frequent rotation around here. I hadn’t heard of him until I watched Song One a few months ago, and “the main singing guy” was my favorite thing about it.  I love his sound, his lyrics and the many emotions his music evokes.

7. Essential Oils I’ve been using doTERRA essential oils regularly for the past few weeks. I love to have something diffusing pretty much all the time-it really can change how you feel, physically and emotionally. I’ve got “On Guard” protective blend going on right now-cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, rosemary and eucalyptus. (the baby in this picture is pretty good, too)12625626_10206795983991155_1507181439_n (1)

10. Family Dinner at the booth. We live in my great-grandparents house. My “mamaw” cooked fried chicken and sugar cookies- you know, standard Mississippi love- on a non-stop basis when they were still around, and fed everybody. They were legendary in their love and hospitality. Our whole extended family has great memories of the kitchen here, and of the built-in wooden booth that is reminiscent of a diner. I usually work on things there, but we haven’t eaten dinner at it very much. Well, Kora finally got a high-chair and, since then, we have had dinner every night at the booth. It’s been such an awesome bit of quality time together in the evenings.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: An AMWAM Review

We had a date-night last night. Our movie of choice? Pride Prejudice and Zombies. It’s been awhile since I did one of these, but here follows my AMWAM (as many words as minutes) review!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Rating: PG-13

Movie run-time/word count: 108 minutes/words

The book we’ve all contemplated buying as a gag-gift for the literature lover in our lives is now devour-able at the big screens.

Don’t go see this one if you are the hardcore, A&E, Colin-Firth-all-the-way kind of person (you know who you are). This is the movie for Austen fans who aren’t too serious. This is for the loyal boyfriends who have sat through every re-telling, wishing they knew what the big deal was about.

Also, pretty sure Lily James is the new “it girl.”

More comedy than anything, this film is like having a bizarre, hilarious dream after  back-to-back Downton Abbey/Walking Dead marathons.

I’d watch it again.

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Spring in Mississippi

In case you didn’t know, Groundhog’s Day was this week.

And Puck-satanu…PUSUTO (Googling this)… Punxsutawney Phil  has declared an early spring.  Does anyone else ever feel like this happens very rarely? For years and years and years, it was just those extra weeks of cold. There’s probably a scientific reason for this that I learned once-upon-a-time, but while I can make myself Google the correct spelling of a groundhog’s proper name, I don’t really feel like mustering up the energy to remember how the seasons work right now. Deal with it.

I’m happy about an early spring, even though it’s not my very favorite  season (autumn is, on strict principal)…. Growing up in the North Georgia mountains, surrounded by trees and a big, beautiful lake, autumn was a signal of adventure. It wasn’t just the crisp chill in the air, the smell of campfire smoke or the fiery leaves, either. Autumn was the time we went camping, autumn was when we could take a break to go meet my grandparents in a cabin in the mountains for our annual, special get-together. I miss autumn in the mountains.

Right now, however, I live in Mississippi. And Mississippi’s Queen of the Seasons is undoubtedly Spring.

The light here changes, illuminating the numerous old gray barns and buildings.  In winter they are old and worn-out, in summer they are white-washed harshly, seeming unfriendly. In the spring, the gold touches them, hinting at their history, their magic. In spring all old things are brought to life again; they have transcended through time, and been born anew.

Mornings of a hundred years ago are freshly evoked: the smell of warm, damp grass and hay, the sunshine on dew-drops in the green fields, and the soothing saltiness of the air that only comes with being not far from the coast.

There is a lush, floral scent, too, hanging on every bush and tree. Gardenias and azaleas mostly, I think, but dozens of other flowers chime in with their own accent fragrances.

For me, there are also the memories of Mississippi springs from my growing up years. The trips we took to visit family for so many years on warm, balmy vacations, the Easters with cousins, running around in gardens, the family meals and something special in the true closeness with these people we only saw a few times a year.

Now I live here, as a grown-up in a whole different place of life. I have that closeness, but it is different now. So many things have changed since then, and the memories I share with my family is mingled with loss and newness and love and freshly found relationships.

Spring, I think, will embrace these changes, because it is, itself, always reminiscent, and always new.

So I’m waiting on the flowers to bloom in the front yard, for the day I can pull my shorts and flip-flops out of storage, for sitting on the porch and inhaling that sweet, country breeze that carries with it the love of a hundred Mississippi springs before this one.