Archive for the ‘Roswell’ Category

20th Reunion: My Personal Horror Show

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Me
If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed a bunch of photographs of me and some other old drunk people. You see, I spent Saturday night at my 20-year high school reunion. It was weird, surreal, fun, sweet, bittersweet, comforting, strange, and hilarious all at once. If i had to describe it, i would say that the only other experience that comes close to this one is maybe my own wedding. To have that many folks that have been a part of your life and of your memories for that long come together in one room, with alcohol, was just really wild.

Todd decided to come to my reunion with me, which was amazing, because i fully expected him to bail on me for the Cam Newton show in Auburn. (And I totally would have understood, and would have ditched him in the same situation.) We got to the hotel just in time for Todd to head to the bar to catch kickoff while I checked us in. Todd came up to me at the desk as I was wrapping up, to help me with the bags, and said, “I just met Josh Wright at the bar. He went to Auburn.” I laughed out loud; I barely knew Josh Wright in high school, but my husband was already hanging out with him at the bar. I sensed right then and there that it would be an interesting night.

This is Jason.
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I used to think he was my best friend, but I think he lost out to Camille, since he didn’t come to the reunion with me, and instead chose his “new” college friends over me. No, I don’t even care that he was there to see Ealey rush for 157 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Todd, Camille and I shared a room. Camille’s husband was out of town. We decided to get there early so that we could get checked in, and then go get some food pre-reunion. Otherwise known as “laying a base,” for drinking. You need to have a good foundation, you know. Here is Camille, on Spring Break in 1990:
mealby then

In between the taking of these photos, we have taken a look at our choices, gotten into a good bit of trouble hanging out with the boys, finished college together (who is that third person? He looks so familiar . . . ):
college_0010

. . . been in each other’s weddings, and watched each other become mothers. And here is Camille on Saturday, popping her first beer of the afternoon.

Camille

So, we met Doug and Steph, Nat and Ryan, Chris and Aimee (his wife, not the Aimee in our graduating class), and Brett and his fiancee, Lucy, for pizza at Diesel. (I have to admit, Roswell has better dining choices than it did back when I was a kid and we used to drive to the McDonald’s there, because Alpharetta didn’t even have one.) We drank beer. Ate pizza. Laughed a lot.

Here are Camille and Nat:
Nat and Camille

And Steph and Lucy:
Steph and Lucy
Isn’t Lucy cute? We think Brett done real good for himself. And here is the whole gang:

Photo by Chris Rank

Photo by Chris Rank

After the meal, we headed back to the hotel and the boys went to the bar to watch football, while the girls came back to the room and we changed. There is something so sweet about getting dressed with the girls, and having the pre-event giggles together.

The girls

Aimee hung in there like a champ, even though she doesn’t know us all that well, and we are all completely nuts. Big shout out to Priscilla and Charlie for hunting us down and coming down to say hi while we got ready. I should also say here that if I looked at all decent for the reunion or the photos I was in, it was only because I came out of the bathroom thinking I was dressed, then was sent back in to “put on more makeup.” In truth, without Steph and Nat, I would never have put on lipstick at all.

So, after that, we went to Kim Thomas’ room for drinks with The Six Pack.
Camille and Kim
The Six Pack may or may not know this, but their little self-applied label was both the source and the object of much gnashing of teeth, hurt feelings, anger, and derision back in the day. Seems stupid and funny now, and pre-reunion drinks with you all was one of my favorite parts of the evening. (And not just because we all had freshly-applied makeup, were all sober, and were photographed well by the talented Leigh Helenbrook!)

Pre-reunion drinks with the girls. (And some husbands.) Photo by Betts.

Pre-reunion drinks with the girls. (And some husbands.) Photo by Betts.

I love this picture of two of my favorite people:
Camille and Nat

And then we were off to the lobby. On the way down in the elevator, we ran into Tommy Sudderth. He regaled us with the horror story of Camille stabbing him in the knee in first grade. By the time we got off the elevator, we were all almost in tears from laughing so hard.

And man. . . talk about weird. Put on seventy pounds since the last time you saw them, get all dressed up, have a few drinks, and step off an elevator and walk straight into a crowd of people you went to school with from fourth grade to twelfth grade. Very, very strange. It’s like a haunted house or personal horror show, tailored specifically to your own personal phobias and Achilles heels. They might as well run a film on the wall of your most embarrassing moments. Everyone* in the room knows just about everything about you.

People who saw blood on the back of your white pants? There.

Girl whose house you were at when you puked up Buffalos wings and carrot sticks? There.

Guy who called you “Conan,” instead of “Anne?” There.

Girl whose boyfriend you stole and you haven’t talked to her since? There.

Boy you asked to dance at the dance in 8th grade, when you looked like this?

Me in Middle School

Me in Middle School


The one you imagined must have laughed about it later with his friends? There.

All the girls that were in your tent on the Girls Scout camping trip in 4th grade when you peed in your sleeping bag and then had to lie around until everyone else was up so that you could cover it up and no one would know? I think they were all there. That was a big tent, and I have tried to block that memory from my mind for years.

First love? There.

First boy who asked you “to go with him?” and let you wear his jacket in 4th grade? There.

Girl who whispered “bitch” behind you in the hall? The one you turned around and gave an icy stare, and then later went in the smokers’ bathroom and cried because you felt so bad, because you thought it was a little true? There.

People who witnessed you and others wallowing together at a party after homecoming over (supposedly) broken hearts? There.

Guy that gave you the creeps on the bus? There.

Friend who hooked up with an ex-boyfriend and probably has no idea that you know that she did it? There.

Girl that wrote a note in 9th grade to your close male friend whom she was dating who said she couldn’t believe that you ever “went together?” Yep, she was there.

People who witnessed you get into a girl fight at a party? Yep. There.

The boy you are not sure if you made out with or not at a party because you passed out and don’t remember? Okay, he wasn’t there. Neither were the ones that called you “four tits,” because you were so flat that your ribs stuck out more than your boobs, or the guy that you overheard telling your boyfriend you weren’t as pretty as his ex. But you get the point.

* Names withheld to protect the innocent. Most of you know who you are. All of you please consider yourselves forgiven. Or apologized to, as applies.

And you know what? After the initial shock of it all wore off, it just wasn’t that scary anymore. It was maybe even kinda nice. Maybe.

I saw tons of people that i wasn’t really friends with in high school that I’ve connected with on Facebook, like Stefanie:

Stefanie and Camille

I saw people who lived in my n’hood growing up, like Ryan.
Ryan
I spent a whole summer hanging out with his best friend playing pool and drinking beer in his parents’ basement while my friend made out with him in another room. I also witnessed him breaking his arm tripping over a railroad tie.

Andrea and Michelle:
Andrea and Michelle
Andrea dated a friend of mine and I later lived with him in a different state. Michelle? I got drunk in a tent at her house and made out with her brother on a trampoline. Later, she set me up with my first real high school boyfriend. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.

Got to hang out a lot with Brett, a.k.a. Peter Pan, which was awesome.
Brett in high school:
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And Brett now:
Brett
We have stayed in touch all these years. Little-known fact: He was my first husband. Senior Marriage Project. Can’t believe how dumb that class is looking back on it now. Brett did all the research and work while Charlie and I made googly eyes at each other. Brett went to Furman, but then he just couldn’t stay away from me, and so he followed me to UGA. He wrote a poem for me when my heart was broken, and I still have it on a shelf in my den. He is engaged now to the beautiful and awesome Lucy.
Brett and Lucy
She did v. well at the reunion, even though she was probably like, “Oh my God, there are so many old folks here.” Lucy and Brett, watch out. I have the date on my calendar and i plan to be there.

Here’s one of me and Todd.
Me and Todd
Not that great a picture of me, but how handsome is my husband? He cracked me up. I had about five people come up to me during the reunion and tell me how awesome my husband is. . . . Brent St. Vrain actually said that he likes my husband better than me. No idea how he met all these folks, but it is nice to have a husband I can take to things like this that will fend for himself and not have his feelings hurt when I ditch him.

Here is me with The Punisher.
Pris and Me
a.k.a. Priscilla. We had homeroom together, and she did a lot of punishing. I cannot remember why she said “Punish!” so much, or why she called everyone “skank” as an endearment, but I love her. Funny the things we remember and love about people.

And here is Camille, with Tommy, re-enacting the aforementioned First Grade Pencil Stabbing incident.
Reenactment
So funny. Tommy had us rolling on the floor with laughter telling us how he used this as a cautionary tale against brandishing lead pencils with his own children.

Monica, Alain, and Leigh:
Monica, Alain, and Leigh
I love this picture! Was so glad to see Alain, as i thought he still lived in Spain.

Miriam and Mary!
Miriam and Mary
Miriam has one of the best, most contagious laughs ever. And Mary and I used to talk about horses all the time in elementary school. (Do all girls have another girl that they used to talk about horses with?) We all played volleyball together, along with Camille and Sonya, in high school.

Darby and Camille:
Darby and Camille
So, I’m not sure why, but Darby was one of the people that I almost burst into tears upon seeing. I am not sure why this is, except that she is one of the funniest and nicest people that i have ever met, and I feel like we are kindred spirits. Darby, it was great to finally hug you in person after having some really meaningful and amazing conversations with you the past year or so. Let’s please not wait another 15 or 20 years before seeing one another again.

Okay. I’m coming out.
Nat and Me
This is Nat. I am finally admitting it. I love her. Really truly love her, and she is one of my best friends. Despite the fact that i detested her in high school. And kind of in college, too. She is still a drama queen, vain, and sometimes a bit of a barbie doll. She is also smart, funny, kickass, fun, and one of my favorite people to get drunk with, because like me, frankly, my dear, she doesn’t give a damn. I love ya Nat, slutty skirts, and heels and embarrassing moments and all.
And look, she can actually keep her mouth shut! Photographic evidence!
Natalie
But never for long. . .
Nat being Nat

Dave and Stacy:
Dave and Stacy
Stacy told me she thought i was “nice” in high school. Ha! We did not know each other very well. Dave was the Roswell Hornet. He was also my first ever homecoming date. He asked me because he had just gotten dumped and he didn’t have a date. We went in a car with some older friend who could drive. I think we were in tenth grade and couldn’t drive yet? I remember the fear of popping open beers in the backseat of that kids’ car – It was maybe mustard yellow and a gremlin or something like that? – And what would my mom say about drinking and driving? And yet we did it anyway. (Frightening to think of now, as a parent.) We had the photo taken and then went and climbed through a window into Lon Feldman’s basement and drank beer until my curfew. I didn’t really like the taste of beer back then. (As you can see, i got over it.) I wore the famous champagne pink shiny flammable dress when I climbed through that basement window:
1987_Homecoming10th_0001.jpg
Yep, my impeccable deportment began at a tender young age.

Camille, Nat, Brett and me:
Camille, Nat, Brett, and Me
This one just makes me laugh. Natalie being Natalie, Camille and I laughing at it, and Brett barely tolerating us.

Miriam and Melissa!
Miriam and Melissa

So, they finally shut us down, and everyone stumbled downhill to Tony’s. That place has been there forever, and hasn’t really aged all that well, but by that point, we were past caring.

Rob and Doug!
Rob and Doug

Nat and Charlie!
Nat and Charlie
Could have knocked me over with a feather that Charlie showed up, as he is not on Facebook, so it’s like he doesn’t. even. exist. It was great seeing him, though, and I’m glad he showed. All the way from Connecticut. Unlike some people. . .

I think my very sober little group stayed until after last call, then decided to hit Krystal on the walk back.

Krystal

And then we realized that they wouldn’t let us walk through the drive-thru (evidently, my husband is v. persuasive, though, and managed to do just that), so we had to walk up Holcomb Bridge Rd., at three a.m., dodging traffic to go across the street to The Waffle House. Yes, that Waffle House. The one we all used to go to back in the day. Except that I think they razed the original building and built a new one on the same spot. Either that, or I was way more drunk than I thought i was, because it looked very different, down to being oriented differently on the property than I remembered it being, but still, all late night roads lead to Waffle House.

And then we all got tired. And had to walk back. Up that damn hill. Then we made faux Prom pictures under the arch of green, white, and black (Go Hornets?) balloons that were still in the hotel lobby. (Not suitable for public consumption.)

Did I mention that it was a sad event, too? Yes. Sad that the following folks broke our hearts:

Jason Billips
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Becky Duffy
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Jennifer Durkee (and Jerry!)
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Kevin Fagan
IMG.jpg
Jenni Hoglund
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Owen Kinney
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Matt Long
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Mike Maier
Mike Gets Haircut
Stacy McBrayer
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Randy Neel
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Scott Phillips
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John Sabol
mikeM JohnS vw highschool paradigms 001
Casey Schaeffer
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Alicia Bruner, Carrie Winter! Somehow you escaped my camera all of those years – an amazing feat. And with the reunion, you have foiled me again! The rest of you, consider yourselves lucky that I didn’t post some of the other pictures.

You all suck for taking just a little bit of joy away from those who wanted to see you. (Anyone I left out? I bet there are more of you, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.) You are all a huge chunk of my childhood, middle school, and high school memories, and the evening felt incomplete without you there. Also, you missed a damn good time.

To those of you who attended, I love you all. Each and every one of you. I’m just sorry I didn’t get a chance to sit down and have a good chat with every single person there.

My High School Photos and the remainder of my reunion photos on my Flickr page.

Oh, and one last thing: I can’t tell you how truly touched I was by the number of people who went out of their way to tell me that they read my blog regularly and like it. I was a bit floored by that one, as I had no idea, since none of you actually subscribe to my feed. (Shameless self-promotion.)
Here I was, thinking that I was writing in a veritable vacuum!

You all posed a bit of a dilemma for me when I sat down to write this. Do I write it completely honestly, as if no one was reading it, the way I have always written it? Do I write it without thinking about who I am writing for, or who will read it? Or do i pull the punch?

I guess y’all can see which one I’ve chosen. Hopefully, no one will be freaked out or embarrassed by reading about themselves on here. I made every effort to leave out anything incriminating (and boy did i have some incriminating evidence!) And if you are a little freaked out, or embarrassed, you need to get a backbone and a sense of humor!

Just kidding. Just read back through my litany of embarrassing moments earlier in the post and you will feel much better about yourself. Plus, you are in the company of friends, and we all know everything about your personal horror show already!

Please, please, please take care of all yourselves and your loved ones until we meet again.

xoxo
Dogwood Girl

A Shower for an Old Friend (and a New One)

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Last night, Todd stayed with the kids and Camille picked me up to go to my old friend Kevin Fagan’s wedding shower. I have known Kevin since 5th grade (Mrs. Godwin’s class, represent!) and I can’t even do the math on that many years, but we went to elementary school all the way through college together. He is one of the most unique, funny, smart, loyal, and sincere people I have ever met. He is also in the top five for strangest people that I know, but then I kind of like strange people and collect them, and keep them around me. It helps to tone down my own weird when I drown myself in other oddballs.

Jamie and I went to high school together. We go hears without seeing each other, but i have seen him three times in the last three or four months.

Jamie and I went to high school together. We go hears without seeing each other, but i have seen him three times in the last three or four months.

The happy couple opening their gifts. The Rainwaters sitting on the hearth between them. As my Mom would say, it was old home week.

The happy couple opening their gifts. The Rainwaters sitting on the hearth between them. As my Mom would say, it was old home week.

Don't they look real purty?

Don't they look real purty?

I love these girls.

I love these girls.

Matt and I gettin' all waify and supermodel for the camera. I think he looks a little slow in this one, and I look like a bear ate a chunk of my face.

Matt and I gettin' all waify and supermodel for the camera. I think he looks a little slow in this one, and I look like a bear ate a chunk of my face.

I think she is checking his beard for small insects or birds' nests. I love him, because he quietly plays along with our games.

I think she is checking his beard for small insects or birds' nests. I love him, because he quietly plays along with our games.

This time, Natalie plays nice.

This time, Natalie plays nice.

Nat and Kevin, the Groom.

Nat and Kevin, the Groom.

I still remember the day that Camille introduced me to Brian. We were in high school, and buying tickets for some show, but I can't remember what for the life of me. Camille had that red car.

I still remember the day that Camille introduced me to Brian. We were in high school, and buying tickets for some show, but I can't remember what for the life of me. Camille had that red car.

This time from Matt and Nat.

This time from Matt and Nat.

Jamie did very well for himself. His wife is a sweetheart.

Jamie did very well for himself. His wife is a sweetheart.

Kevin and his high school friends. From left: Jamie, Camille, Kevin, Natalie, and Me.

Kevin and his high school friends. From left: Jamie, Camille, Kevin, Natalie, and Me.

Adding in Matt and Brian, and we have the Bulldogs.

Adding in Matt and Brian, and we have the Bulldogs.

Kev, this girl's a keeper. We likey.

Kev, this girl's a keeper. We likey.

Isn't young love wonderful?

Isn't young love wonderful?

This one just kinda cracks me up.

This one just kinda cracks me up.

Not sure what I am doing here.

Not sure what I am doing here.

I think this is right before he re-enacts the great Roswell High School Air Conditioning Walkout of 1989.

I think this is right before he re-enacts the great Roswell High School Air Conditioning Walkout of 1989.

Anyone who drinks with Natalie on even a semi-regular basis will recognize this sort of thing. Basically, you just follow her around with a camera and stuff like this happens.

Anyone who drinks with Natalie on even a semi-regular basis will recognize this sort of thing. Basically, you just follow her around with a camera and stuff like this happens.

We didn't actually go to Dixie Tavern, but instead went to Ru San's next door. But I love this sign, and love that it is right next to a sushi place. I had edamame and Brian and I split the Dr. Zhivago. Yum!

We didn't actually go to Dixie Tavern, but instead went to Ru San's next door. But I love this sign, and love that it is right next to a sushi place. I had edamame and Brian and I split the Dr. Zhivago. Yum!

You can't tell, but I am trying to reach for his firecracker roll while this picture is being made. That was some yummy stuff. (That's what she said.)

You can't tell, but I am trying to reach for his firecracker roll while this picture is being made. That was some yummy stuff. (That's what she said.)

That Julie was such a wild child. After the shower, she really let loose and chugged sake.

That Julie was such a wild child. After the shower, she really let loose and chugged sake.

The thing that strikes me as funny (and comforting) is that hanging out with all these folks that I have known for 20 plus years or more, they feel like home. Family. I know that they have seen me at my best and my worst and they still love me. Just like family.

Christmas 2009 Recap

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

So, here’s what we’ve been up to. . .

Christmas Eve, Rollie came down with quite an ear infection. Quint took good care of him.

Christmas Eve, Rollie came down with quite an ear infection. Quint took good care of him.

We spent Christmas Eve at Leelee’s house. There was much cuteness of children and stuffing of our faces, and dogs running around, and Cecil drinking scotch. Todd and I brought the kids home afterwards and tucked them in, then readied for Santa Claus. Luckily, this year there was no Victorian dollhouse to put together. Which basically means we lay out the loot under the tree, stuff the stockings, and pour ourselves a well-earned nightcap. I usually watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve, but i am a good wife and I let Todd kill zombies instead. Oh, Holy Night. . . .

I played with my camera. I just love a Christmas tree in the dark.

Rollie got a Hot Wheels bike from Santa. I love that green color.

Rollie got a Hot Wheels bike from Santa. I love that green color.

Tiller got a Hello Kitty bike. I wish it came in my size.

Tiller got a Hello Kitty bike. I wish it came in my size.

I love a Christmas tree in the dark.

I love a Christmas tree in the dark.

I used to sit in the living room in Roswell, in the dark, and just look at the tree.

I used to sit in the living room in Roswell, in the dark, and just look at the tree.


This is an ornament Vanessa gave me years ago. I love it, but it is heavy and i have to tie it down on the tree so that it doesn't fall.

This is an ornament Vanessa gave me years ago. I love it, but it is heavy and i have to tie it down on the tree so that it doesn't fall.

This is an ornament my sister gave me. It looks like snow. I can't believe we haven't broken it yet.

This is an ornament my sister gave me. It looks like snow. I can't believe we haven't broken it yet.

The next morning, Tiller found the stockings and didn't even see her bike at first!

The next morning, Tiller found the stockings and didn't even see her bike at first!

Tiller was beside herself. Pure joy.

Tiller was beside herself. Pure joy.

Rollie didn't feel good and we could tell. He wasn't really amped up at all until he got Monster Jam tickets in his stocking. Santa is kind of an asshole, as he only left two tickets, so Tills and I am on our own that night, I guess. Sigh.

Rollie didn't feel good and we could tell. He wasn't really amped up at all until he got Monster Jam tickets in his stocking. Santa is kind of an asshole, as he only left two tickets, so Tills and I am on our own that night, I guess. Sigh.

Todd and I drank coffee, cuddled, and then untwisted a lot of twisty ties and rubber bands from cardboard while drinking mimosas.

Todd and I drank coffee, cuddled, and untwisted a lot of twisty ties and rubber bands from cardboard.

That afternoon, Mom, Dad, Lisa, Mark, and Dash came over. We all opened gifts, drank wine, played toys with kids, and made a lot of noise.

Two generations. Not sure what Tills is doing here.

Two generations. Not sure what Tills is doing here.

Rollie really didn't feel well. You can see him feigning excitement here.

Rollie really didn't feel well. You can see him feigning excitement here.

Tiller decided to throw a tantrum during gift opening. Always fun to discipline your child in front of your parents.

Tiller decided to throw a tantrum during gift opening. Always fun to discipline your child in front of your parents.

These things just aren't that exciting. I just don't get it. Robotic hamsters?

These things just aren't that exciting. I just don't get it. Robotic hamsters?

Alex was a gift unto himself.

Alex was a gift unto himself.

Birdie didn't really get the whole Christmas thing. He could have gotten a lump of coal in his stocking and he would still have this look on his face.

Birdie didn't really get the whole Christmas thing. He could have gotten a lump of coal in his stocking and he would still have this look on his face.

After the dishes were clean and dinner done and kids in bed, we finally go to relax.

After the dishes were clean and dinner done and kids in bed, we finally go to relax.

So, let's talk gifts. My dad got me these. As far as gifts from Dads go, this is not bad. V. comfortable, not offensive to look at.

So, let's talk gifts. My dad got me these. As far as gifts from Dads go, this is not bad. V. comfortable, not offensive to look at.

My sister got me these and also an awesome necklace. She buys me the best gifts. I also kind of like my camera skills on this one.

My sister got me these and also an awesome necklace. She buys me the best gifts. I also kind of like my camera skills on this one.

From my mom, who evidently still thinks i am six. Yes, i am a 37 year old with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer pjs. Note the Abominable Snowman.

From my mom, who evidently still thinks i am six. Yes, i am a 37 year old with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer pjs. Note the Abominable Snowman.

These are the best. LOVE getting these from the kids. I see myself crying over them for years to come.

These are the best. LOVE getting these from the kids. I see myself crying over them for years to come.

I have a thing for the Black Cat Fireworks logo. It cracks me up, always has. Todd finally got the hint and got me a Black Cat shirt! Rowr!

I have a thing for the Black Cat Fireworks logo. It cracks me up, always has. Todd finally got the hint and got me a Black Cat shirt! Rowr!

He also got me a thermometer. Lisa rolled her eyes that I would get excited over this, but I love getting stuff for my yard, and nature-type stuff.

He also got me a thermometer. Lisa rolled her eyes that I would get excited over this, but I love getting stuff for my yard, and nature-type stuff.

So, i saw that Todd had put The Monsters of Templeton on his wish list. He noticed the same thing on my wish list. We both got one for Christmas. From each other. Much laughter ensued. I am thinking we maybe need to spend a little time apart, or by next year, we might be wearing matching Christmas outfits. On the plus side, we can have our own little book club. At least for one month.

So, i saw that Todd had put The Monsters of Templeton on his wish list. He noticed the same thing on my wish list. We both got one for Christmas. From each other. Much laughter ensued. I am thinking we maybe need to spend a little time apart, or by next year, we might be wearing matching Christmas outfits. On the plus side, we can have our own little book club. At least for one month.

Todd also got me the Merge Records book I've been wanting to read. Will probably start this one next. Yay! That cover photo makes my heart pogo.

Todd also got me the Merge Records book I've been wanting to read. Will probably start this one next. Yay! That cover photo makes my heart pogo.

The next morning, we got up early, kicked my parents out, and headed for Auburn.

While we were in Auburn, the kids got some time in on their new razors, and I had a few heart attacks.

While we were there, the kids got some time in on their new razors, and I had a few heart attacks.

We did some hugging.

We did some hugging.

And Tiller pitched another fit. . .

And Tiller pitched another fit. . .

And then we hugged some more and rode the dinosaur at the park.

And then we hugged some more and rode the dinosaur at the park.

Then more hugs with Uncle Lyle . . .

Then more hugs with Uncle Lyle . . .

And even more hugs with Lyle and Denise.

And even more hugs with Lyle and Denise.

We had lots of fun, and my in-laws spoiled the kids, and I didn’t get one single picture of my niece, Luci. We left on Monday and came back to Atlanta. On the way, we decided to stop and get fireworks, which was funny, because I was wearing my new Black Cat shirt.

Kids with Todd at Black Cat Fireworks store.

Kids with Todd at Black Cat Fireworks store.

Since then, we’ve been recovering from Christmas, putting away the loot, stuffing our faces with cookies and drinking wine. Yesterday, we felt we needed some fresh air and exercise, so we hiked up Stone Mountain with the kids. I had my doubts about whether they could make it, especially Tiller, but she didn’t lag at all. She picked her way up the mountain like a mountain goat. That’s her new nickname. The Mountain Goat. We didn’t have to help them at all, which as a parent, is nice.

Taking a rest on the way up.

Taking a rest on the way up.

Tiller looking stoic, while the boys cut up at the top.

Tiller looking stoic, while the boys cut up at the top.

I was kind of disappointed that no one had decorated this little tree behind us for Christmas. Also, please don't judge my fashion choices.

I was kind of disappointed that no one had decorated this little tree behind us for Christmas. Also, please don't judge my fashion choices.

Todd had fun with perspective.

Todd had fun with perspective.

And they kids thought it was hysterical.

And they kids thought it was hysterical.

Rollie was rocking out, I guess. Not really sure, but he's a cutie.

Rollie was rocking out, I guess. Not really sure, but he's a cutie.

One last shot overlooking downtown, before we head back down the trail. Tiller and I took off after this and kicked Todd and Rollie's asses. I'm just sayin.' You don't mess with The Mountain Goat.

One last shot overlooking downtown, before we head back down the trail. Tiller and I took off after this and kicked Todd and Rollie's asses. I'm just sayin.' You don't mess with The Mountain Goat.

I took some shots of Tills with the flags at the bottom, while we waited for the boys. Did I mention the Mountain Goat and her Mama beat them down the mountain? By many minutes? Girls rule, boys drool. (Tiller and I decided we wouldn't tell the boys that, though.)

I took some shots of Tills with the flags at the bottom, while we waited for the boys. Did I mention the Mountain Goat and her Mama beat them down the mountain? By many minutes? Girls rule, boys drool. (Tiller and I decided we wouldn't tell the boys that, though.)

All in all, we had a great Christmas vacation. Last night, I had dinner at Bistro VG with some friends from high school: Kevin Fagan and his fiance (she is awesome – they were in town from Richmond) and Jamie Kish and his wife, and Camille and Joe showed, too. Natalie didn’t show, which was disappointing. I ate a cheese tray and drank wine. Yum! The kids and todd went bowling today, and I am thinking about cooking dinner and building a fire tonight and perhaps playing some Beatles rock band. We shall see.

Them tomorrow, New Year’s Eve! We are having some friends over and their kids too. Should be interesting.

The Ghost Toys of Christmas Past

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

So, my online friend and fellow blogger, Melanie, wrote a really funny post about having to find a particular toy for her daughter for Christmas. Zhu Zhu pets?

I know that my mother is just waiting in the wings to laugh her butt off at me when I go through this v. same thing some Christmas soon. She is still bitter about the whole Cabbage Patch Kid shortage in the early 80s. Girls in Georgia, before Roberts sold out to Mattel or whomever, called these “Adoption Dolls.” They were sold in high-end toy shops, and they were ridiculously expensive. Never mind that my sister and I, living in GA, already had original, signed Xavier Roberts dolls. Two each, no less. That’s right, Annie Mouse and Sport Model were too good for just one $100 dollar craft doll each. Oh, no! We had to have the plastic ones too. Boy, those cabbage patch girls really didn’t smell very good. And I never loved the plastic mass-produced ones nearly as much. I know it is wrong to say that you love one of your children more than the others, and this is true in the adoption doll world, too. But I loved Minerva Vivian and Betsy Eunice, and even knock-off adoption doll, Stephanie Lynn (named her myself), much more than. . . hmm. . . what was her name again? Maybe Lisa will remember. Update: Just went and found her papers in my hope chest, along with all the girls. Ginger Minnie. That was her name.

Ginger Minnie, Cabbage Patch Kid

Ginger Minnie, Cabbage Patch Kid

Cecil, being Cecil, thought that he could get away with the knock-off Adoption Doll. And sure enough, I loved blond, green-eyed Stephanie.

Stephanie Lynn, the knock off

Stephanie Lynn, the knock off

Lisa’s blond, blue-eyed knockoff was Samantha. Minerva, a real Xavier Roberts, was big-boned, red-headed, freckled and green-eyed. Not the prettiest doll on the block, but my first real one, and I loved her.

My first real Xavier Roberts doll.

My first real Xavier Roberts doll.


Then there was Betsy Eunice – black-haired, green-eyed, and well-proportioned, just like Scarlett O’Hara in plush doll form!
My second, dark-haired beauty

My second, dark-haired beauty

And then there was Lisa’s Tiffany.

Oh, Tiffany. . . bless her heart.

I must dig Tiffany out of hiding. Lisa, where is Tiffany? We need to post a picture of Tiffany, particularly of Tiffany’s very strange legs. Preferably a picture of Tiffany naked. This is the most bow-legged adoption doll in creation. They also neglected, at Babyland General, to give Tiffany a waist. So, sad. All of the other adoption dolls, and their mothers, whispered about Tiffany behind their hands when she was carried into a room.

And then we made picket signs out of poster board, sticks from outside, and scotch tape, and proceeded to set up a “Mom and Dad, Please Quit Smoking” picket line in my parents’ bedroom, each adoption doll holding a sign. I can tell you that if that didn’t convince my parents to quit smoking, nothing will convince a parent to quit smoking except for their own decision to quit. We were quite the Carrie Nations. We also used to try to charge my Mom’s side of the family for cussing. Most four-letter words were ten cents. The big ones were a quarter. We loved it when my Uncle Charlie and Cousin Finley got together, because we were assured of a windfall when they came to town. I will never forget that one time, Finley came in and said, “Hell, Charlie, just give the damn kid a fuckin’ twenty!”

Anyway, as of this year, my kids want absolutely everything in sight, but they have not narrowed down their wants to one particular, hard-to-find item. Knock on wood. If you have kids, is there a particular must-have item this year? What special things are you getting your kids? And what special must-have items did you get as a kid? Do you have any funny stories of your parents or yourself staking out K-mart of Richway for that perfect toy?

Oh, and p.s.

You don't want to know what else I found in this hope chest i've had since middle school.

You don't want to know what else I found in this hope chest i've had since middle school.

It’s a Cake Walk

Friday, October 30th, 2009

I did my time at the inflatable slide. I had to be the bad cop, yelling at kids to go one at a time, and feet first, and stop pushing and all that jazz. Things that came out of my mouth: “I see you back there.” “No wedgies.” “It’s not nice to roll your eyes at the slide master.” “No, I don’t own this slide. I wish!”

I also had the pleasure of working the slide with beta club students from the local high school. I really don’t talk to a lot of high school kids, so it was interesting. They even confirmed a suspicion that Todd and I have had for a while: Hobos are so in.

Rollie had come home from school recently and was constantly talking about hobos. He had learned about them from a kid on the bus. We discussed hobos, and what they were. Rollie thought they were people who were poor and who steal. I tried to explain to him that his idea of hobos was not really accurate. Mostly I tried to understand how the hell these kids had learned about hobos in the first place! Since then, i have heard other kids down the street talk about hobos, and it’s come up a few other times. Todd and I started wondering why they are all talking about them, other than the obvious answer that they talk about it on the bus.

So, the high school kids and I were talking about costumes, because the kids at the festival wear their costumes, and i asked them if they still dress up and trick or treat, or go to parties, or whatever. One girl said her friend bailed on her, because the friend thought it was stupid. I asked her what she was going to be and she said “a fairy who had lost her wings.” Her costume sounded v. subversive. And the boy? He was going to be a hobo.

I was like, “what is the deal with hobos?” And the girl said, “They’re just kind of in.” So strange. I think i need to be a hobo zombie pirate tomorrow.

After I got off duty, I headed to the cafeteria for a dinner of bbq sandwiches, baked beans, and squash casserole with the fam. Not bad.

Highlights of the evening included doing the cakewalk with Rollie and i won and he got to pick the cake and he picked homemade chocolate cupcakes and we did high fives and it was awesome. I also enjoyed it when Tiller’s balloon animal (a dog she creatively named “woofie”) came unwound and turned into just a long balloon. She cried and cried, wearing her pigtails, and her saddle oxfords and white tights and cheer leading outfit. I held her and then told her we would find the clown and see if he could fix Woofie up. We did find the clown, but the line was so long that i just went up and watched him make a balloon dog and tried to mimic his actions. After three balloon dogs, I had it down, and it was one of those perfect parenting moments where you know that your kid thinks you can fix absolutely any problem that comes down the pike. She looked at me with her eyes big and tears still wet on her cheeks and i said, “Betcha didn’t know that Mama can make balloon animals, did ya?” And she shook her head side to side, and looked at me with awe, then i handed her Woofie. She hugged him to her chest and laid her cheek on him and then put her arm around my leg, and said, “I love woofie.” We walked back to the car in the dark mist, just me and her, hand in hand, her clutching Woofie. The whole way home, she held Woofie, and petted Woofie, and told him it was okay, he was going home with us.

When we got home, Woofie sat with us as she and I had a cupcake together at the kitchen table that belonged to my Grandfather. We sat in only the light of the fixture over the table, just like Pop would have done at 9 pm on a Friday night. (At least until Friday night fights came on.) Woofie sat on the sink while Tiller had her bath, and then she hugged Woofie while I read SkippyJon Jones to her. I had to convince her that Woofie would be better off on the bedside table than in her arms while she slept. She loves Woofie so.

I decided not to tell her that Woofie is deflating as we speak, and that he probably wouldn’t be around come Monday.

The Creekers

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

The Creekers got together last night for a cookout. We had the usual fun, and we got to meet the newest Lil’ Creeker, Connor. (Not to be confused with honorary Creeker Conor the Elder.) Thanks to Dan and Wendy for hosting, and to Owen’s oldest, Ian, for making me feel like Betty Crocker and eating four helpings of my baked beans.

For Roswell, and for Spanky. RIP.

Friday, September 11th, 2009

A friend of mine is being buried today. I could not make the funeral and I am sad about that. I know that there are others who couldn’t make it either, but that we are all there in thought and, some of us, in prayer.

Charles (we all called him “Spanky”) was not a close friend, but he was a friend, nonetheless. He was a boy who was in my classes. He was a boy who was at parties, who gave great hugs, had a big heart, and was quick to laugh. Charles’ laugh was so distinctive that I can still hear it in my head, clear as a bell. After twenty years, I can still hear his laugh like it was yesterday.

Last Saturday, Charles shot his father, and then he shot himself. The grief one feels over a friend killing themselves is overwhelming. The grief of knowing that someone you cared about took a life, much less the life of someone so close to them. . . that grief is almost unbearable. It makes you want to sleep to escape the thought of it. It makes you want to climb right out of your own skin to stop feeling it. You don’t want to imagine the grief of a mother, a sister suffering the pain of such a loss. And yet you cannot get away from it. It permeates everything.

You try not to think about it, but you can’t stop. It keeps you up at night, wondering how it turned out this way. You think, here I am, with my loving husband, my wonderful children, and my happy home. Here I am twenty years later (a blink of an eye, really) and where did Charles go? What happened to him in the last twenty years?

I cannot reconcile the boy I knew with the picture in my head of the man he became.

I have thought of it hourly for the last five days. I have wondered how it was him that ended up with an addiction. There were so many of us, and so many of us did more than we should have, and what made him the victim of addiction? It could have been any of us. “There but for the Grace of God go I” is on a loop in my head this week. I have thought about God, and heaven, and forgiveness. I have thought about whether there is an afterlife, and if it is punitive, or if it is a place where we all will find forgiveness, solace, and peace. I came up with no answers, save one: We are all so intertwined.

When I think of the community I came from, one that is grieving from top to bottom, one that was touched in so many ways by this one family, I know this: We are all intertwined. The things we do have an impact. Sometimes that impact is not seen until we lose a piece of ourselves. And then it breaks down and we are so very aware of the gaping holes in our lives. This one boy with the unique laugh was a friend to so many of us. He was a son, a brother, a cousin. And his loss and the loss of his father are felt so very strongly by one community today. The one thing I know is that we are all stronger for having known one another and that each and every one of us can never forget that we hold those that love us in the palms of our hands.

This is for the town that I have scorned. The town that has changed so much over the years and which I was so glad to have left. But that town is not just growth and development and a homogeneous population. It is the town where I grew up. It is a community, no matter how far flung we all our now; Deep down, we are still those kids that walked to school through an old cemetery to sit in run-down classrooms together. We are church groups, and football teams, and kids who sneaked into neighborhood pools together. We fought at the water tower. We are a bunch of kids in the McDonald’s parking lot on a Friday night, waiting to see where the party would be that night.

This is for Roswell, a community that lost two of her own this week, and who is the lesser for the loss, but the greater for having known each other.

Another friend sent me the lyrics to this song. I have heard from distraught friends all week long. It has hurt my heart, but reminded me that I came from somewhere, that we all came from the same place. That when one of us hurts, we all hurt.

Adapted from the Will Oldham song.

Adapted from the Will Oldham song.

And the original:

Dunstan Family Reunion, 2009

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

The elder Dunstan cousins.

The elder Dunstan cousins.

We had our Dunstan family reunion yesterday at my cousin Jenn’s house in Roswell. She had a pool, so it seemed logical to have it there. The food was awesome, the pool was fun, and it is always great to see the family. Wish I wasn’t so distracted by the children. I would have loved to sit around and talk and drink with the cousins.

Yes, this is the drinky side of the family. Also smoky. Cardplaying. Gambling. Cussing.

Pretty sure I come by this stuff honestly, folks.

More pics on my Flickr.

Beater: A Creepy Childhood Memory

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

So, not sure how this came up last night, but it is scary and funny all at the same time. Growing up, we had this guy living with his parents down the street from us. He was probably somewhere from 18 to 25 and he was ultra strange. He had an arm that didn’t work, and it would just hang at his side as he walked down the street past our house. I never saw him drive. He would just walk down the street back to his house from where ever he had been, carrying a brown paper bag in the good arm. Never knew what was in the bag.

So, we always thought he was scary, and he rarely talked to us kids. We never talked to him. If anything, we moved away from the street edge of the yard when we saw him coming. Even at ten years old, a kid senses when someone just ain’t right. Turns out we were right on the money.

A little girl was selling girl scout cookies one day. She rang the guy’s doorbell. He came to the door wearing nothing but a towel. He stood there and stared at her, then dropped the towel. Eeewww.

Then, another time, he got caught playing with himself while watching kids play at the pool! Double eww.

My memory is fuzzy, but I want to say that there was another time when he may have asked us kids about the girl that lived next door to us. As in, “who is that blond girl?” Creepy!

All in all, I am surprised that there was no parental outpouring of hatred for this guy. I tell you what, though. Kids are mean as all get out. What did we call him?

Beater.

I don’t know why that makes me laugh now, but Todd thinks it is funny, too. (So, maybe there is something wrong with both of us.) Also not sure why i had to write about this, but it is part of the landscape of my suburban Atlanta childhood and I didn’t want to forget it.

Possibly Not the Domestic Goddess

Friday, June 5th, 2009

. . . that I think I am.

I was cooking dinner last night (ahem, mac and cheese) and was boiling the macaroni, when the pot boiled over. (Or, “balled” over, as my Daddy with his Savannah accent would say. He also says “aygs” for eggs, “all” for oil, and “tin fall” for tin foil.) Tiller was in the kitchen with me and as the pot boiled over, she looked at me, shaking her head as if in disgust, and said, “That always happens.”

Night before last, our babysitter Rebecca got to the house, and I was dressed and saying good night to Tiller. She hugged me then pulled back to study my face, as if seeing me for the first time.
“Mama, what’s wrong with your eyes?”
“Um, that’s makeup baby.”

She keeps me honest, that one. No thinking i am a beautiful domestic Goddess with her around.