cancer, escape, friends, Laughter, Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Rock and Roll, Baby!

Last night something was confirmed about me that may surprise many of you. I am not a rocker. I know you are shocked and surprised. I’m not even a poser. (I had to look that term up, fyi) It was evident by my lack of knowledge about the music or words to the signature songs of the band. I spent more time entertained by the people in attendance than the actual concert. My husband and I were given tickets by sweet friends to a concert by The Black Jacket Symphony: A Night at the Opera and The Best of Queen. My big guy was very excited about hearing favorite songs of his younger years. I confess that I wondered what kind of opera the symphony would play. I honestly expected an orchestra. I was wrong! I am not completely in the dark, I do know who Queen is, but I didn’t realize it would be a real deal rock and roll night! You may not believe this, but I’ve never been to a rock concert. It’s true! I know I’ve surprised you again.

Parking was the first step to getting to our night of rocking and rolling….obviously not an easy task in downtown Mobile when a rock concert is about to happen! We finally parked in a church parking lot with a sign that said “Private Parking for…(and I’ll leave the church name out here just in case someone wants to report two rebellious fifty somethings!): Violators will be ticketed or towed at owners expense. I was a little anxious as we got out of the car and proudly walked toward the theatre, impressed by our night of living on the wild side. I secretly asked God to forgive us and please allow the car to still be there when the night was over!

As we entered the door of the Saenger I was asked to open my purse for security. I looked at my big guy and asked, “Are these people famous?” The security guy asked him if he had any weapons. He confessed to a pocket knife and suddenly the guys hands went up and said “You can’t enter with a weapon, sir.” I looked around at the other security people standing ready to pounce, beginning to wonder if the real Queen was in the house. My sweet husband informed me later that the lead singer died in 1985. He handed over his knife, it was obvious to me that it was worth the sacrifice to hear the band! We then walked to another security checkpoint and were scanned with a wand for any other concealed weapons. This didn’t make me feel comfortable about the obvious possibilities of events that could happen if there was this much concern for what people would carry into the concert hall! We finally got to our seats and waited. We were in the balcony, third row, dead center. Perfect view of the stage. I noted the massive speakers hanging from the ceiling, both sides angled right at us. This wasn’t going to be good. There was an atmosphere of excitement all around me. As I watched people, which I love to do, I realized the average age in the room was somewhere in the mid fifties. But the energy was more like a crowd of twenty somethings! I noted the lights, the instruments and party like atmosphere. Suddenly the lights went down and the band ran out. The crowd went crazy. The lead singer belted out lyrics and people were screaming. I looked hard at the singer trying to recognize him. I did not. But then a familiar tune came, Bohemian Rhapsody. I looked at my big guy and said “I know this!”, but my words were lost somewhere in the midst of the screaming crowd and the blasting music. He leaned down and I got as close to his ear as possible and I repeated my words. He smiled and nodded. I still don’t think heard me….but I saw the smile on his face as he took in the loud music and I knew he was having a good time. I found myself watching people more than the concert as they got lost in the music, reliving the moments of the 70’s and 80’s when they first heard the songs. People were standing and dancing, hands in the air and singing at the top of their lungs. These people knew every word. Then I heard a familiar beat….the crowd began to stomp, stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap. I looked at my man with shock, it was my high school senior class song! I found myself following along and singing “We will, we will, rock you”. I was no longer a fish out of water. A square peg in a round hole. I was a rocker! They sang Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Another One Bites the Dust. I suddenly felt cool because I knew these songs. I didn’t know all the words, but I knew the songs. At the end of the night, my ears were numb and I honestly was glad to be headed home. I observed something as I left. It was 10:15pm and the crowd that had just been jamming out for two hours were leaving in an orderly manner, laughing and chatting as we exited the nearly 100 year old Saenger Theatre. Forty years ago, these same people would have been jumping up and down demanding an encore still full of youthful energy, demanding to be blown away by the rock band, Queen. We made it back to the church parking lot (along with many other concert attendees) and our car was still there and no ticket on the windshield. Prayer works! We drove home and I listened to my sweet man talk about the band and how good they were and how fun it was to hear some of his favorite songs. I listened and thought how thankful I was for the gift of tickets for us to enjoy a non -typical night out for this “square” chick, and to sit next to my man who has had such a difficult year. All I can say is…..rock on!

Laughter, Life, People, Uncategorized, Writing

So…I was reading through old posts and old short stories I have written and found my self amused, and yes, empowered by this story I wrote a year ago….Please comment if you read!

Coolness Does Not Always Trump Experience!

I have observed that people are not really interested.  Interested in what, you are probably asking at this point.  I am beginning to believe, that in general, people aren’t really interested in other people.  I spent 4 days last fall at a National Youth Workers Conference, in which our small band of youth workers were jumbled together with some 8,000 other youth workers and youth pastors from across the nation.  After congregating together in the “big room” for worship and a speaker, we quickly dispersed to various seminars on a myriad of subjects.  We tried to spread ourselves throughout the seminars in order to gather as much information and knowledge as possible.  I found myself in a couple of classes alone, well not alone, but sitting among strangers.  I had tried hard to read name tags as people passed me in the convention center and in the classrooms, curious to see where all these people who must love working with students were traveling from to learn more about ministering to youth.  I noticed that we band of eleven from the heart of the south, the belt buckle of the Bible belt, were in the minority.  Most people seemed to hail from the north and west to California, then the East Coast, and a large group of mid-westerners.  I tried engaging some people in conversation by asking “Where are you from?” and usually I was given a short, quick answer.  I started to think my southern twang was hindering our ability to converse.  As I sat in one seminar, the instructor asked us to turn to the person sitting next to us and give three words that described our Middle School experience.  I shuddered inwardly, not wanting to remember those three years of torment.  I glanced at the young woman sitting one chair away from me, waiting for her to glance toward me to follow our instructions.  She continued to look forward for a moment, and then slowly looked toward my southern (albeit awkward) smiling face.  I saw her forehead give just a slight crinkle as if she was suppressing the urge to frown.  With no expression, other than the brief crinkling of her perfect brow, she uttered three words in a distinct Midwest accent, “They were great.”  Then she turned her face back toward the speaker, never waiting for my response.  Was she trying to be amusing, I wondered?  Did she misunderstand the assignment? I sat there staring at the side of her perfect face, examining her perfect make-up, her perfect long thick hair twisted into a perfect bun and clipped with some chic hair accessory.  She wore a long dark fitted top with a gray lightweight coat and one of those wonderful scrunchy scarfs that only people with long necks can pull off.  Her long legs were crisscrossed and covered in dark tights and riding boots.  Her arms were crossed across her waist, adding to her air of superiority.  I was 49 years old and this 30 something young woman had just dismissed me.  Her body language and actions revealed her apparent belief that the activity was beneath her or that communication with me was unnecessary.  I was still disturbed by her response and by the fact that if you stood the two of us before a group of teenagers, she would be their obvious choice among the younger generation.  She was young and hip (that word alone ages me!), she was tall and shapely (I am not), she was beautiful, she seemed educated, for all accounts she was visually more appealing than myself.  I could see the scenario play out in my mind.  She would be surrounded by giggling girls and hormonal teenage boys.  I would be left standing alone, rejected and cast off.  I shook my head, clearing the scene from my mind.  I became determined not to be ignored.  I had worked with youth for over 20 years in many different aspects.  I had seen and heard things that would have left this young woman speechless.  I had held the hand of many a crying teenage girl as she blubbered about a broken heart.  I had been roused in the middle of the night by a phone call from a student to come and pick them up or just because they wanted to talk.  I had endured sleepless nights at camp and retreats and the most feared – lock-ins!  I had had my house rolled and forked so many times that at one point I had decided to leave the yard décor left by students to make it easier for the next go around.  My car had been painted and saran wrapped on many occasion – no small feat when you drive a mini-van!  I had convinced many a student to come clean with their parents over secrets they were keeping or to reveal an unplanned pregnancy.  I had prayed over and with students about small and big decisions as they looked forward to life after high school.    I had taught the truths of God’s Word to every age from 12 to 18.  I had earned my stripes and the sprinkle of gray that was shining in my auburn hair!  I was not going to be discounted as some short, fat old lady trying to be cool by attending a youth leader’s conference.  I smiled my most charming southern smile and tapped the young woman on her shoulder.  She slowly turned her face toward me annoyed that I was trying to engage.  “Excuse me; I am sure you were wondering what three words I would use to describe my middle school experience.  And yes, in my day, it was called junior high, but nevertheless it was middle school.  The three words I would use to describe that time are Challenging, Abstruse and Empowering.”  I smiled at her again and turned my attention toward the speaker who had resumed her lecture.  I felt the young woman still staring at me but mustered up the most pensive expression I could and pretended to be engrossed in the speaker’s content.  I felt a sense of victory at having trumped her aloof manner.  She might be young and pretty, but I was old and experienced!


My Interesting Experience at the 2009 Southern Christian Writer’s Conference….been sitting on this one!

I made it through those first moments of anxiety before opening the door to the building where the conference was being held!  When I was about to get out of the car,Lynnasked if I was okay, I said “No, I think I’m gonna cry, I’m scared!”  Of what, I wasn’t sure.  But he prayed for me and I could breathe normally again.  As I walked in, I took my sister’s advice and channeled her and Mom’s outgoing-easy-to-meet-people- personalities and I didn’t frown at everyone I came in contact with or remain speechless.  Now I won’t say I shook hands and passed out business cards to every poor soul that walked past me or sat near me.  I can’t even say that I initiated most of the conversations.  The part of me that likes to sit and size people up first still was strong.  But, I didn’t answer with just a yes or no, when asked questions.  I smiled a lot, because quite honestly I was thrilled to actually be at a writer’s conference.

Exciting moments:  Gilbert Morris spoke.  He’s nearly 80 and has written around 270 historical Christian novels, amusing in itself that an 80 year old man is the author of novels about  swooning females and handsom leading men who save the day, but his sense of humor stole the show…he was a hoot!  I took Angela Hunt’s class….awesome!  And the biggest moment was having a one-on-one conversation with Bucky Rosenbaum (Rick Warren and Beth Moore’s agent…yeah, I was freaking out on the inside).

I gleaned as much wisdom I could during the short conference, but most importantly I learned that I’m not so strange after all!  I met some strange little people among the writer-wanna-be’s that weekend.  People who really haven’t written all that much, don’t know if they really want to write, and quite honestly had some unusual things they had dreamed up to write about.  I sat in on a “break out group” the last night that was supposed to be a chat group on writing children’s books.  There were five of us in the room, given no format or idea of what we were supposed to be doing.  It was 9:15pm at this point.  Next to me sat a pretty young college student fromAuburn.  She was 19-ish, perhaps 20 (who knows!  they look so young these days!! :))  Across from me, engrossed in a conversation were two older ladies and then another red-neck (and I say this in the kindest way) looking lady to my right.  We were sort of spread out, a little awkward, just waiting.  The college student asked me if I wanted to write children’s books.  I nodded yes and gave her an awkward smimle.  She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, be a journalist, an English teacher or an astronaut.  Actually she didn’t say that, but she was a little giggly and scattered with her thoughts.  The ladies that had been engrossed in their own conversation, suddenly stopped and decided to initiate our “break out” group (at least I thought that was their thought process).  The first women, in her late fifties I’m guessing, suddenly said she had the answer to Hello Kitty.  I looked at her, trying very hard not to let my face show what I was thinking and trying hard not to laugh at her comment.  I said “Really, Hello Kitty.  cool.”  She never really made much sense after that, she rambled about finding this kitten coming out of the drain outside her house and that he was her baby, because once you feed a kitty with a bottle, they are like your own baby.  It seems she has written about this “kitty” and his many adventures.  Then she suddenly switched gears and began randomly talking about her horse and going out one morning and finding a tooth lodged in his neck.  The horse was okay, but she had the vet come out and remove the tooth.  It was canine. (Just in case you were wondering).  She and the lady next to her began discussing whether it was coyote or wolf.  I’m smiling, and cutting my eyes to my left and right at the redneck lady and the college student, wondering if they are feeling a little awkward.  They’re both nodding and smiling, as if they are totally into her conversation.  While I’m not paying attention, I realize the kitty lady is asking me a question.  “Have you written anything?” I said “Oh, me, well, yes,” I realize at this point all eyes are on me, “Um, well, I’ve been writing curriculum for Lifeway for the last year and I’ve written a children’s book that I’m trying to get published.”  The lady over to my right spoke up in a sort of loud, husky voice.  The kind that evokes the visual picture of a newscaster interviewing neighbors who live next to the house where a drug bust has just occurred and they look straight into the camera wearing an old t-shirt that says “Hell Yeah” on the front and never have all their teeth.  She tells me, “Well I haven’t written a lick in ten years pro’ly, but I think I got what it takes to write a kids book, I’ve raised 5 of the little rug rats!!  I figure I can get some idears and write a book and use the contacts I get while I’m here.  Whats your kiddy book about?  You been writin’ long?”   At this point I pulled my cell out of my pocket, innocently checking the time and praying Lynn will return my call so I can tell him to get his bootie to the conference and pick me up!  I am quite certain I have entered some other dimension and do not want to get lost in it!  I am sure I was losing ground on controlling my facial expressions and I could still feel the others staring at me waiting for me to continue.  So, I have to confess, I pretended that my phone vibrated and answered it “Yes, okay, I’ll be waiting out front”.  I gathered my things, but sat for a minute or two so as not to be rude.  I looked at the four faces staring intently at me, and as I tend to do when I’m nervous, I began to ramble “Yes ma’am, I’ve been writing since I was a teenager.  I was able to be on the school newspaper and magazine, as well as the yearbook staff despite our constant moving as I was growing up.  However, after failing English twice when I started college, I dropped out and decided that writing was not my career choice.  However, last year God opened the door for me to begin writing for Lifeway and I have written a children’s book that I am working on getting published.  It is about an 11 yr old girl named Hannah, who is inspired after hearing The Good Samaritan story one Sunday morning.  She decides to form her own club that helps people “no matter what the cost” and calls it The Good Samaritan Club.  It is basically about the forming of the club and then the search for their first mission.”  You could have heard a pin drop.  Then the kitty lady speaks up and says, “I’ve written about a rooster that gets kicked into another dimension by my horse and has all kinds of adventures.”  It was time for me to escape!  I said “Well my husband is probably downstairs waiting for me.  Good luck with your writing, nice to meet you” And I ran for my life!