Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Piece of My Mind

I learned a phrase in third grade. Not sure who I heard it from, but it was probably my mother. Of course, my father did a decent job of acting out the saying, so it could've been him, too.

At any rate, I discovered what "a piece of my mind" meant.

But I also realized I'd practiced the phrase since my first confrontation with "the bully". And I thought to myself, "Huh, guess I'm already an adult."

Therefore, I went about my business, telling people what I thought when the situation warranted it. 'Cause I had lots of things figured out, you know.

I could take care of my brother and make macaroni and cheese. I could ride my bike to "7/11" and buy whatever item my mother forgot from the store. I knew how to send wishes to everyone in the world, and when my sisters had bad dreams, I could calm them down.

Yep, I was tearin' it up. And told people so.

Which meant I started earning my nickname and became true to the color of my hair.

"Red" knew what she was about and protected those she loved with words.

And fists if necessary.....

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Busted Curfew

How old were you when you got to stay up past midnight for the first time?

Well? How old?

Me, I was 8.

Yep, you read that right. 8.

(Okay, so it was for church. And I had to wear an itchy dress with itchy tights. And there was standing. And kneeling. And a long homily.)

But I got to see what the world looked like at 12:00 a.m., and let me tell you, it was sparkly.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another Big Idea

You think I'm kidding. I'm not. You don't understand the Big Ideas that abounded from everywhere. I was never safe.

I think that was one of the reasons why I was always outside. It was harder for her to find me when I was running around the neighborhood.

Of course, that strategy only prolonged everything. I had to go home sometime.

So, Big Idea #10 happened...

As I waited for the life-altering reveal, I shook in my shoes. My knees knocked. I broke out in a sweat.

It's an Advent Calendar. She's hung it on the wall. It has a Christmas tree on it, and underneath are these little pockets with numbers on them. 1-24. One pocket for each day in December.

Inside the pockets are rolled up messages.

Oh...no.

Wendy gets to pull it out. She plucks Day 1 from its spot and unrolls it. She reads aloud...

"Let's watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!"

I'm stunned. I didn't hear her right. Let's do what?

While Maria and Wendy cheer, and Bill tumbles after them as they run toward the TV, I'm left staring after them, my faculties turned to mush.

But this was no trick. Mama was turning on the TV, and a most beloved Christmas special was playing. This was not a trick.

I gathered my composure and strolled into the living room. I sit.

I hadn't been scared. Nope. Not me. I knew it all along.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Big Idea Number 9

Are you scared? Trembling? Panicked?

Well, rest easy my faithful readers, Big Idea Number 9 is not at all terrible. You're going to be impressed. You're going to think, "Hmm. Why don't we do that?"

I shall pass this on to you and you must feel free to use it, because it is precious.

In early December, we get out our Christmas decorations. The boxes are filled with homemade ornaments of Popsicle sticks and dough, covered with paint and glitter. (It's a kid's tree. Not an adult one.)

We trimmed the tree while listening to music and giggling, exclaiming over our favorite ornaments and recalling when we made them.

As we worked, my mother cooked. She made a feast that outdid the one in the Grinch's world. We had all sorts of finger foods.

From boiled shrimp to broccoli dip, little smokies to queso, it was a meal that we salivated over.

Cookies, dips, hot chocolate, cheese...

It was glorious.

And when we were done making our tree beautiful with its sparkling, crafty ornaments, we ate around it, watching the lights glow and twinkle, causing the world around us to be cozy, warm and magical.

My mama did good, don't ya think?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My ABCs (I learned 'em good.)

Have I mentioned I'm a competitive person?

Or perhaps I didn't have to. Y'all are probably pretty smart and have read between my lines.

I enjoy a good competition in almost any format. My favorite opponents are boys because what is better than beating a boy?

(Ice cream is better. And bluebonnets. But only by a fraction of a percent.)

I think I get this competitive streak from my father. He'll play about any game. Spades, hearts, poker, pinochle, dominoes, baseball, basketball...it doesn't really matter. To him, it's all fun.

And we played with him. He taught us the ABC game, which is something you enjoy on a long car ride that tests your eyesight, reflexes, and alphabet knowledge. We had to find words that began with each letter and whoever got to Z first won.

We usually played while we drove to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Do you know how many car trips it took for me to beat him? Huh?

Did you guess 50? Maybe 100?

Well, you're not even close. I feel like we played that game one million times before I beat him. We started when I was in the second grade, and I was almost fourteen, fourteen, before I won.

I still remember what my Y and Z word were.

We were passing the George R. Brown Convention Center, and there was this Asian restaurant across from it called "Yit Ingho". I screamed, "Yit!" so fast because I knew, I knew, where a Z was. We'd played so many dadgum times.

Right after I yelled out my Y word, I whipped my gaze to a blue sign on top of a green freeway board. The lovely, glorious, victorious "Zoo" was there waiting for me. It cried, "Here, Kara! Here I am!"

And hallelujah, I shouted that word at the TOP of my lungs.

It was a good day.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Brownies

"Come, Kara," my mother says to me. "You're going to join Brownies."

Huh? Join brownies? What is she talking about? You eat brownies. You don't join them.

As I shake my head at my mother, I stupidly follow her to the car without an ounce of bluster or outrage. However, when I reach our destination, I discover....

It is a meeting. With girls from my class. And some lady is talking to us about how we'll have to complete various tasks in order to stay a part of the group.

I have to do work I don't want to do in order to continue with the group....

This group of girls from my class. This group of girls from my class who don't really care about outside activities. This group of girls from my class who could care less about how to drive a go cart.

I stare open-mouthed at what I'm allowing to happen. I mean, I said nothing on the drive over, and my mother managed to slip Big Idea Number 8 in without a single protest from me. What the heck? Had something taken over my mind? Were my reflexes drying out already? Had I lost my fire?

As I ponder this, the lady in charge keeps talking. And talking. And talking.

And then it is time to leave, and we do some kind of chant before we go, and all the other girls seem to love it. And I'm wondering, where are the aliens that have taken over their bodies? And when would they come for me?

But maybe they already have because I didn't voice my opinion on this Big Idea. Not once. Oh...no.

The second we get in the car, I let Mother know what I think. (Apparently, the aliens hadn't gotten me yet.) To which she replies, "You will enjoy this experience and grow from it."

I groan. I moan. I wail.

But it does nothing. I am a Brownie. Gag.

The only shining spot was one of my friends, Shellie, was there. And I liked her. She understood the beauty of outside. And being silly. Maybe it wouldn't be all bad.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 17, 1983

A strawberry blonde, cute, smiling, bundle of joy appeared on a mid-November day to Grace and Liam. This would be the last precious little one added to our "family".

And it was a boy. Which, as I told you earlier, was fine with me. Especially since he was adorable. I cuddled him as often as someone would let me, or as often as I sat long enough.

He grew up quietly adventurous, unflinchingly calm, considerate, stubbornly independent, and unassuming. This boy smiled at you while he climbed to death-defying heights. He grinned at you while he hiked over mountains and made stuff out of bark with his bare hands.

He experiences life. Takes risks. Basks in the sun. Revels in the deep sea. The outdoors is his haven.

He is younger than me, and you might wonder how someone in his early thirties could be described as such. He has done more than most people twice his age. If you doubt, let me refer you to the night of the talent show at my high school. The year is 1994. He is 10, almost 11.

The talent show, in which Georgie played and Maria sang, is over. We are sharing conversation in the auditorium with Grace and Liam. I look to my right, and this risk-taking ten-year-old is scaling the wall. And he is already half-way up.

As Grace hurries over to get him down, none of us are surprised. Surprised at how far up he got, yes. Surprised he tried, no.

Therefore, his name shall be Andrew. English for courageous.