I write a lot, like a lot a lot. Little of it is legible. Most of it I cannot even decipher. My life is a series of cubbyholes stuffed with tidbits of paper. My car’s cup holder, my nightstand drawers, my makeup organizer, all sweater and coat pockets, my purse – both the one I am currently carrying and the 2 others tucked away in my closet, and every drawer in my kitchen, all suffer the same fate. They are filled to the brim with incoherent ramblings that, should I ever be able to epiphanize the meanings, could net me either a bestselling novel or the secret to life. Since we are all still in hunker down mode, I decided to launch a grand cleaning and organizing endeavor. I call it “the winter that I wish were spring already” cleaning event. My goal is to have a single junk drawer in my kitchen, rather than a single decent drawer and a litany of junk ones, a closet full of wearable clothes instead of ones I’m compelled to keep from a decade ago, or more, and a nightstand drawer suitable for finding the chapstick after I’m already tucked into bed. I did not capitalize chapstick because, Texas. We are the home of generic name brands. All tissues are kleenex. All soft drinks are cokes. All lip balm is chapstick. But, let’s get back to all that paper: receipts with blotted lipstick stains on the back, fast food napkins, corners from memo pads, spent grocery lists, and even the odd magazine subscription insert. These fragments contain my life’s work. There are ideas for columns, ideas for blog entries, ideas for novels, & snippets meant for poems. They are mixed medium works written in ink, yes, but also pencil and map color and crayon and even eyebrow pencil. Each idea made perfect sense when I was compelled, often times against my will, to write them. Now, though, I struggle to pick up that ethereal web-like line of thought that has faded to invisible. So I gathered them together in my kitchen, unsure of how to save them but unwilling to say a final goodbye. Then, just yesterday, I was doing a legit writing exercise in my handy dandy writer wannabe training manual. The exercise was imagining you had fallen down a rabbit hole designed just to your specifications. I was to describe everything I saw. I looked to my right, greeted by the mountain of paper fragments that resembled the volcano Richard Dreyfuss makes out of mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Lightbulb moment. Let’s build a rabbit hole based on the ramblings of a mad woman – but first, a poem.
Columns & Editorials
Dear Aunt B Readers,
Ah, NYE in 2020, what a conundrum. The memes are everywhere. Will 2021 be a double dumpster fire? Will it be a little kinder and a tidbit gentler on us? What about you guys? Any NYE plans? Are you from the stay at home every year camp, the stay at home this year camp, or the business as usual camp? We rarely venture out on New Year’s Eve. Neither my husband nor I are what you call people persons. We’d much rather doze off on the couch together watching Ryan Seacrest in Times Square and spouting theories as to how those people could’ve gotten on that front row at 8 am and still be standing there without bathroom breaks. I’m sure the square will be empty this year, but I’ll start the black eyed peas and make the cornbread from scratch. Joanna Gaines has a recipe I saw that incorporates cheese and jalapenos. We’ll have adult beverages on hand and we’ll forget to imbibe. I’ll wax poetically about my grand 2021 plans and how I intend to change every single detail about myself. Wait. Scratch that. Let’s talk about how my 2021 is going to be different – like, really drastically different. After all, it’s the year of the Ox.
In the wake of a natural disaster, millions of people across the globe make an effort to do their part and help those whose lives were adversely affected. Such disasters inspire many to donate money, clothing and food. While relief organizations can always benefit from financial assistance, donors who want to pitch in after a natural disaster may want to think twice before donating clothing and bottled water. According to the USAID Center for International Disaster Information, cash contributions are the most effective way for donors to channel their good will and help those affected by disasters overseas. That’s because cash contributions do not require transportation costs, delays, customs fees, or related expenses. The CIDI also notes that cash contributions allow relief agencies to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Food and clothing donations can actually divert relief workers from the task at hand as they attempt to sort, store and distribute materials that may not even be needed. Donors who read reports about tainted water in disaster-affected areas may be quick to send bottled water. However, in such instances, the CIDI encourages donors to instead donate cash for water purification filters. That’s because shipping 100,000 liters of bottled water can cost $350,000, whereas a locally purchased water purification filter can be purchased for right around $300. The resulting savings can help relief organizations make better use of the financial resources at their disposal.
Top POP SONG in 1900 – “Ma Tiger Lily” by Arthur Collins
Many of us probably felt that 2020 lasted a very long time. But now that 2021 is upon us, we can make a fresh start – and one way to do that is to make some New Year’s resolutions. Of course, you can make these resolutions for all parts of your life – physical, emotional, intellectual – but have you ever considered some financial resolutions?
The strike of the clock at midnight, December 31, ushers in a new year--and not a moment too soon! New chances to meet people, new chances to introduce people to the Forney Education Foundation, new memories for the students and teachers who have been awarded grants for the 2020-21 school year. The start of a new year starts new opportunities for everyone--including all the people in our Forney Family.
The ability to read, comprehend, research and think critically about potential biases and agendas in information helps readers make informed decisions about that which is important to them. As it relates to education, sound information is critical. I recently read an opinion article in the Terrell Tribune titled, “Public Education is Flourishing in Terrell.” The author’s opinion article serves as a great example of the importance of promoting literacy, critical thinking and research skills as goals for lifelong learning. The author’s opinion contradicts district, state and national data requiring a closer look at the topic and evaluation of available information.
Christmas has always been a happy time of the year where we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This year there is a shadow hanging over our celebration, but if we remember who we are celebrating and the great love He has for us (Christians) we can celebrate just as much as we always have. That means all the presents we give and receive and all the good food we enjoy should continue as usual. I remember when I was a boy we were very poor but my dad went out to the shop and made me a stick horse with a real horse’s head and two little wheels on the other end. When Christmas morning came I ran to the living room first. There was my beautiful horse. I took him out for a trial run and he was as fast as the wind. I was four years old at the time and I will never forget that time in my life.
Dear Aunt B Readers,
I talk a lot about grief. A very smart person once told me to write the things I knew about and nothing more. I know a lot about grief. So, this column today will hereby be crowned a quilt column. I’m going to sew many thoughts together for you, bits and scraps of emotions, many of which I probably mentioned here before. Then, I’m going to apply a decorative stitch on top to hold the sentiments together. It won’t be one of the quilts you see at the State Fair each year, not a hummingbird with a first place ribbon displayed in the corner or a wedding ring pattern with an intricate border. My quilt is a crazy quilt with random shards of fabric scraped up off the floor and haphazardly and thrown together with no respect for matching colors or proper geometric shapes. After all, that’s one of the things grief does for you. The aesthetics stop mattering as much. Sometimes, for a bit, everything stops mattering as much. When you read this, Christmas will be upon us. Chairs will be empty this year. Some are due to those of us still choosing to social distance. Some are due to deaths from Covid. Some are due to other tragedies. It is a very different Christmas, as has been the entirety of 2020. Sometimes we don’t know what to say to someone in a season of grief. That’s where I become an award winning quilter. Let me stitch you out of this.
“It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them,” wrote Mark Twain.
This is the first day of the rest of our lives. We cannot change anything in our past at all. We can learn from the mistakes, and remember and use the good to an advantage.
Dear Aunt B Readers,
Have your retirement plans changed because of COVID-19? If so, you have plenty of company.