The Horns of the Bull

PC: Instagram @_becky_newman

Go five years in reverse from today and you would’ve found me getting adjusted to living all by myself for the first time ever in my life. I was in the middle of a heartbreaking divorce, holed up in a tiny, sterile apartment grieving, wondering how I could ever be happy again without the safety of my marriage and my family…a marriage that, incidentally, provided me with many years of a different kind of grief altogether. Obviously, I was forced to get used to it against my will. Some things are completely beyond our control and divorce is sometimes one of them. In the beginning of my transmutation from couplehood to spinsterhood, I still had a small child at home but since then he has grown into an independent young man with an affection for X-treme sports and his own vehicle. As a result, I’ve stayed home by myself a lot over the last few years. Yes, it gets too quiet sometimes, but I’m thankful for the slow boil of my seclusion over the years in this state. Read more

Sex and Economics

PC: Instagram @thepetitereader

In 1991, I was forced to enroll in your typical, freshmen-level Economics-101 class. It was utterly coma-inducing to be honest, like you probably think this blog post is going to be after seeing the word Economics in the title, but stay with me for a minute.

Knowing that only a small fraction of the 80 or so students in the class would ever need an in-depth knowledge of supply and demand curves, the professor offered us an alternative assignment: Read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and complete a 2000-word essay on what we learned. Anything we learned. However we interpreted it, let it be known that we gleaned something inspiring from the mammoth 1000-page novel. So thinking it was the easier option, I read it as a teenager and predictably wrote my paper on the value of capitalism.

I’ve since traversed through my 44 years never needing to know too terribly much about surpluses and shortages, just as my professor predicted. This past year, I found myself teaching Economics to my 12th graders and believe me, it’s a class that’s still coma-inducing. So I made them the same offer: read Atlas Shrugged and tell me what you get out of it. I also decided to give the book another run-through myself just so I could be prepared to answer their questions.

It was like I was reading an entirely different novel! All the capitalism/socialism stuff remained familiar but there were new ideas in there about sex and the relationships between men and women that I couldn’t have or wouldn’t have appreciated when I was 19 years old. Ayn Rand, a woman whose fame comes entirely from her Objectivism philosophy and her knowledge of the path of the American economy, also incorporated an incredible understanding of the sexual tendencies in men and women.  Read more

Ghost Dance

PC: Instagram @p_kas9

Old Native American legends tell us the story of the Ghost Dance. American History enthusiasts (like me!) know that it was the Ghost Dance that contributed to the closing of the American West, back when white settlers and the Army Cavalry who protected them felt intimidated and scared by the ritualistic stomping and chanting designed to channel spirits (Mother Earth, the wind, the rain, and others). It seems that being afraid of things and people we don’t understand remains a tale as old as time. Read more

When Your Plaid Clashes With My Polka Dots

Photo Credit: Instagram @jamesdowd1.

Opposite patterns that just do not go together. That’s how I describe the relationship I have with this person I know on Facebook. I am allergic to him. Don’t laugh. You’re allergic to people, too. You just didn’t know it until reading this.

Have you ever known someone or known of them from a distance, and on the surface your potential for friendship seemed so promising? Your child’s algebra teacher, who seemed like such a cool chick when you first met at orientation. Your favorite student’s mom, who was so hysterical and real the first time you spoke over the phone. The other parents you were introduced to at the ballpark last week, realizing with amazement how many common friendships you shared with each other. All of the factors for a promising camaraderie were in place. The problem is, you realized there was a rub there and you couldn’t quite explain it or name what it was about her stripes or his plaid that didn’t match one of the polka dot patterns in your personality. Read more

O Captain! My Captain!

Photo Credit: Instagram @pen_mate.

One random topic of conversation always seems to lead strangely into another in the American History classes I am lucky enough to teach each year. I often find myself horribly off-subject as my almost-adult students and I slowly get to know one another and this week was no exception. Admiring from a safe distance how one of my female students boldly spoke up for another in a small spat of gossip, I commented to the young lady that she reminded me of Melanie Hamilton. The girl curled up her face as if I’d insulted her, although I was pleased that she even knew who I was talking about in the first place!

But, she has no backbone, right?” 

I laughed and explained that, in fact, Melanie Hamilton had quite the backbone and more courage and righteousness than any other character in literature, or in movies, or on television, that I could think of.

“She takes up for everyone,” I explained, “even people who have wronged her.  She always looks for the good in others and she forgives effortlessly.  She is even-tempered and never gets angry and she’s always wise to the situation and ready to offer a solid piece of advice.” 

In my opinion, it was a high compliment to be compared to Miss Hamilton, and as I heard myself explaining what it is that I love about this timeless Gone With the Wind character, the patron saint of goodness from antebellum Atlanta, I made a note to myself to try harder to be more like her. Read more

What The Waves May Bring You

Photo Credit: Instagram @frankabbottphotography.

Life took yet another sucker punch at me yesterday when someone I love deeply was critically injured in a motorcycle accident. The layers of scarring that a heart can accumulate reminds me of the backs of whipped slaves. After the delivery of so much bad news, I have trouble now differentiating between which scars belong to which death, which hospitalization, which divorce, and the chapter in my life in which it occurred. All of my pains seem to stack themselves one on top of the other like a big tangled pile of ugly, stinking laundry, weaving in and out of thrashed and bloodied knots.

I survived these emotional beat-downs each time because of my faith, and like I always do, I turned to prayer to get me through figuring out how to sort through my feelings.

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Interview With a Lover

Photo Credit: Instagram @hannahames.

I was married for a really long time, and then my husband and I split up.

The End.

I wish it were that simple. I was alone by choice for several years. I remained married in my mind if not on paper and insisted on maintaining (with a death grip) my own self-imposed isolation from the dating world. Then, after several years of this lonely nonsense I decided to get my groove back, shake off my love martyrdom and get back out there. Almost immediately I met Someone Else and I almost married him right out of the gate without considering any other candidates and without entertaining what other choices might possibly be behind door number two and three. I shop for clothes the same way: I see something I like, so I buy it before thinking about what could go wrong if I take it home and it doesn’t fit. Read more

Insist on the Butterflies

PC: D. Quarles Instagram @the_ben_fisher @molly_goodson

Ever wonder why romance is dead? Why men and women don’t court each other and make themselves wait for intimacy anymore?

Sex is everywhere. People are talking about it all around me, in every direction I look, and somebody always seems to be doing it on way too many of the 200 channels we have in our cable catalog. Fifty Shades of Grey opened to mass audiences this Valentine’s Day weekend and The Bachelor scandals have been blowing up my Twitter feed for the last week. We can’t seem to get away from all of these people getting it on.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like watching other people engage with each other intimately, and I certainly don’t enjoy hearing folks replay their exploits in conversations on national television. Read more

To Thine Own Self Be True

PC: K. Floyd Instagram @misskatiefloyd, Photo by Joel Alvarez

I’ve been heard many times publicly chastising young girls for their choices in Homecoming dresses. They’re too short. Too much boob. Too tight. I have also been heard, just this week, giving a rousing shout-out to girls who choose modeling and bartending as a rather fruitful way to pay their bills. Wow! The hypocrisy, you say? No. These are very different situations. Read more