Trying To Enjoy The Ride

Skidding  . . . Spinning  . . . Rolling  . . . Screaming  . . . Boom!  Wish I would hurry up and get to the part where I’m surprisingly OK.

I’ve told a few people about the car wreck I had in 2004.  It was awesome.  Best car wreck ever.  My Isuzu Rodeo skidded in the rain, spun 360 degrees, and then rolled over and over into a ditch.  I landed passenger side down.  The only broken glass was the rear window, giving me a place to climb out.  I was driving alone, no kids in the car.  Just before leaving on this trip, I had thoroughly cleaned out the car, so I didn’t have to worry about all my belongings being all over the place.  The only things I had with me were my purse – ZIPPED closed (see characteristics of the perfect purse in another article) and the book I was reading at the time (I think it was Dorothy Parker.)  I took these two items and climbed out the rear window, much to the wide-eyed astonishment of a man who had apparently seen the wreck and stopped to help.  I think he expected to find someone dead or paralyzed – which is exactly what I was expecting while spinning and rolling.  But I was not even bruised or scratched!  I wasn’t even SORE the next day, or ever, from this wreck.  The car was totaled, and we had Gap insurance, so this got me out from under a car I totally could not afford.  I’ve made the joke a few times – I was “upside down” on my car loan, so I just turned the car upside down and that fixed it.  My husband had recently bought a junky but good little used car that I could drive, so I didn’t even have to go car shopping.  Everything about this was good for me!  There is absolutely nothing about this incident I would have changed . . .

EXCEPT for just this one little thing:  At the beginning of it, I would know how wonderfully it would end; then I could have enjoyed it!  That spinning and rolling – if I knew it wasn’t going to hurt me, that would have been so much fun – Wheeeee!  A pretty great thing was happening to me, but I didn’t know that until it was over.  At a certain point, I was quite aware that I had absolutely NO control over what happened to me next.  All I could do while the car tumbled was offer up the Terrified Scream Prayer.  (In case you don’t know, that prayer goes like this, “HELP ME! HELP ME!  HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME!” – as loud and fast as you can manage.)  Then, BAM!  Everything was still, I was ok, and the perfection of what had happened began slowly and over the next few days to unfold before me – not hurt, no more car payment, lost absolutely nothing, and had a bit of an adventure to boot.  To this day, my Ex sometimes asks me if I want to drive his truck for a while, implying maybe I could repeat the performance and get him out from under a big vehicle loan.  Haha, David you’re funny. 🙂

The other good thing about that wreck is that it gives me a great metaphor for what I’m going through in my life now – wondering if I’m going to get a teaching job, and if I’ll really be able to handle it if I do get one.  Even if I do get a job, even if it is the perfect job, and I am great at it, I already know that, best case scenario, it is going to be just-barely-actually-not-quite-but-I’ll-make-it-work on time before I am completely, seriously, not even kidding, BROKE.  So, I sort of see this period as like when I was in the middle of the slow-motion wreck, before I found out how OK everything was going to be.  I’m seriously scared, and part of my brain is definitely screaming, but I’m trying to also remember how that wreck turned out, and enjoy this ride, hoping that soon I’ll hear a big BAM, and start seeing how OK everything is going to be.

Then if that happens, wouldn’t I feel silly for not enjoying and making the most of all of this free time?  So far, since being unemployed this summer, I’ve gotten some big projects taken care of that really needed taking care of.  I feel so much satisfaction from that and I’m looking forward to tackling a few more of those.  I’ve spent more time with loved ones, and plan to fit in some more of that soon—haven’t gotten to everyone yet.  I’ve been available to help someone who needed my help, but I usually wouldn’t have been able to give it.  And today I’m off to spend some time with my nephew and I’m going to enjoy the stuffing out of it.

image001

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time

I’ve been thinking since this morning about time.  It started as I finished a hurried, distracted conversation with someone who has so much to tell me but not enough time to tell it because she has to get to work.  And, so do I.  Frustrating.  I want to hear the story!  I think about other times when I want to “spend time” with someone but it just doesn’t work out because one or the other of us “doesn’t have the time” after taking care of our responsibilities.  I remember time from the past, periods of my life that I want to rewind to and play over and over again, or maybe freeze and just stay there.  But I can’t.  It’s in the past, and I can’t go back, but only forward.  Because that’s the way time works.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was no time?  I don’t mean “no time” like we usually mean when we say that phrase, as in, “I have no time for myself,” or “I don’t have enough time to get everything done!”  No.  I mean—what if there was no such thing as time?  What if time didn’t exist?  That seems like a very pleasant existence to me as I think about it today.  Maybe that’s part of what makes heaven—timelessness.  A constraint lifted, eliminated, freedom.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Wish I Had Treated Her Better

Christmas (6) - Copy

“I wish I had treated her better.”

I’ve heard almost everyone I know, who knew my niece Kami, say something along those lines since she passed. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the most common feeling expressed ever by loved ones when anyone dies, because even if you basically treated a person well, we are human; miscommunications happen, we get impatient with each other, snap when we should speak with love, get too busy with the urgent and neglect the important, fail to understand the burdens someone else is carrying and criticize when we should just love–even in the best of circumstances. It is always going to seem, with loss, like you could have done better. And if there was indeed any problem between you or mistreatment on your part, it will probably seem bigger/worse to you when the person is not here anymore–when you can only say “I’m sorry” and “I love you” to the air and hope she hears.

The lesson is obvious and I hope we will all hold on to it the rest of our lives instead of letting the passage of time numb us to it. Since that day, I have spoken harshly to someone I love, and I regretted it and apologized much more quickly than I would have before.

I don’t like regrets. I have enough of them already to last me the rest of my life – don’t need any more. If I have wronged you, I’m sorry. If you have wronged me, I forgive you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dedicated to Kami Hunter – Peril and Rescue on the Farm

The below is also published in the 2009-2010 Tarrant County College Fine Arts Literary Journal, “Marine Creek Reflections,” along with a few other of my pieces which I may add here later. These three narratives are all true.

The “28 pound screaming angel with golden curls” in the final of the three accounts, is my precious niece, Kami Deann Hunter, who passed from this plane of existence on May 1, 2013. She asked me before she left us to write her biography. I reminded her that I had already begun in a way, having written this about her. My brother Paul, in the first story, is her father. We are all brokenhearted to lose her, but I hope comforted a little remembering her precious, unique personality and courageous spirit evidenced so early in life.

Dedicated to Kami Deann Hunter, 1975 – 2013. Aunt Donna loves you.

Peril and Rescue on the Farm
by Donna Hunter, 2008

Some snapshots from my childhood and youth. Most days were uneventful, boring even. But when they weren’t, they were often scary. Here are three stories of dangerous situations and the heroes who came to the rescue.

The Red Bird

My brother Paul thought he’d raise some chickens. He bought the brooder and the fertilized eggs. The eggs hatched. He took care of the little chickies for a while, and at some point lost interest. They managed to grow to adulthood anyway (most of them.) Reddish gold colored chickens, roaming wild, dotted the property. Paul had moved on to another venture. I watched as their numbers dwindled. The local predators were likely enjoying a time of plenty. Every so often it would be observed that there were noticeably fewer of them until one day . . . there was one. And he was not well. Survival in this heartless world had made him crazy and mean. No one, especially not a 9 year old girl, was safe if they dared enter his territory. I discovered this pretty quickly after a failed attempt to go play in the barn. An angry squawking blur of rooster feathers and talons flew at me, driving me back to the house. I was no longer allowed to play in the barn; the Rooster owned it now along with the surrounding area. I was sad and afraid. I begged Paul to take care of the problem, but he was in no hurry. Finally (I imagine when it became clear that I would never stop begging) he agreed to kill the rooster if I would agree to bring it back to the house from wherever it landed. I agreed. He shot it at the very back of our 6 acre plot of land. No problem; I got baling wire from the barn, tromped determinedly back to where the little bastard lay – finally motionless, harmless. I had won. The barn was mine again. I looped the wire around his foot and drug him through the dirt all the way back to the house, where Mama and I plucked him, boiled him and ate him with dumplings.

The Big Sheep

His name was Buck. My brother Byron bought him to raise, and show for Future Farmers. Buck was the biggest Ovine I’ve ever seen and he struck fear in the barnyard. The sound of his bleat would not have been recognized as coming from his species. On hearing the sound, unaware of its source, one would think himself near to encountering something vicious, perhaps even demonic. It was a low, guttural “BUUUUUGGHHHH.” I trembled when I heard it. I remember watching Byron standing on one side of the pasture while Buck charged at him. Buck outweighed his lanky teenaged body by a significant amount, but he was unafraid. Byron planted his feet, squared his shoulders, stretched out his arms and clasped his hands together in front of him while he watched Buck gain speed coming toward him. As soon as he could reach Buck’s head, he leaned forward and put his clasped hands on it to stop him. Buck’s rear legs flew up in the air and Byron’s feet skidded back in the dirt a few inches. But the charge was over and Byron had shown himself to be the master in this relationship. I did not fare so well. Once, daring to attempt to cross the pasture I found myself trapped halfway to the barn by this beast. I don’t know what kept him from knocking me to the ground, I only remember standing there pulling at his wool, petting him, afraid to stop because every time I started to let go and walk away he would seem to start to charge again. I have no memory of how I escaped this situation; it’s kind of a terrified blur. My guess is that Byron noticed me missing and came to rescue me.

Perhaps I wasn’t intended for farm life.

The Vicious Dogs

By my teen years, the scary farm animals were not much of a problem anymore and I sought adventure beyond our property line. One day, while babysitting my niece and nephews, I decided to take them for a walk in the woods behind our property. Today this area is a fully developed neighborhood, but in those days it was still just “the woods.” It was beautiful, shady, filled with interesting trails and quiet adventure, one of my favorite places; and I thought the children would enjoy it as much as I. They padded along behind me, my small, innocent companions, trusting that their teenaged Auntie knew how to take care of them, and certainly knew better than to lead them into danger. It was a peaceful, beautiful day walking the trails, until . . . suddenly it wasn’t. As we walked up a trail curving up a steep hill, we heard a horrible sound coming from a distance but approaching very quickly – growling, barking, drooling, snarling, running beasts! A number of dogs (the terror of the moment erased the exact number from my mind) were dashing at us at top speed. With several small children to protect and nowhere to hide, I had no idea what to do and no time to think about it. Running would have been pointless at best; I could not have moved fast enough with all the children to get away from the pack, and running from a dog is a bad idea anyway. Only a few seconds elapsed from the time I was aware of the impending attack until we were all rescued – by a 28 pound screaming angel with golden curls. While my mind raced and screamed silently, and no doubt all the children were terrified, we were all suddenly stunned by an ear piercing screech and turned to see the youngest of our group – my niece, Kami – knees locked, bent forward at the waist, fists extended behind her, nose to nose and eyeball to eyeball with a dog at least twice her size, screaming into his face at the top of her tiny lungs. Time froze. I don’t know how long she screamed, but it was long enough. The dogs were all stopped in their tracks and turned and ran back the way they had come, silently except for the sound of their quickly retreating paws.

This is about the age she was when the dog incident happened.

This is about the age she was when the dog incident happened.

Kami high school

Sweet Kami, teen years

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Only Thing Inevitable

1964 - lighter - and cropped1983-daddy-and-sibs2004p1040760-copy

Things change; there’s just no getting around it.

I remember Christmas when I was little.  Sneaking with my brother Byron into the front room where Mama had worked to make everything appear magical – twinkling lights, new toys, stockings full of good things to eat.  Where did she find those PERFECT oranges and apples?  Did she just make sure to never buy them that looked that good the rest of the year so that these would be so special?

I remember going to Grandmama and Granddaddy’s house for Christmas with the extended family, playing with my cousins, eating a delicious meal, opening gifts from whoever drew our name, plus at least one other from our grandparents.  The day was always long and full of loud fun and love.  I remember leaning my head back in the back seat of the car, looking at the bright stars through the rear window on the way home, thinking they looked extra bright and beautiful this night compared to all other nights – magical.  I thought the pretty lights on our Christmas tree were magical too.  I even sang “Oh Christmas Tree” to it when no one was looking.

After Grandmama died, Christmas at Grandmama and Granddaddy’s was over.  Just like that.  The very next Christmas.  I didn’t understand—Granddaddy was still there.  But my mother and her siblings all had grandkids of their own now, so . . . I guess it was just time for everyone to change to doing “the big Christmas thing” with these families.  We still went to visit Granddaddy of course—we just never all gathered together at the same time in the same place for Christmas anymore.

And so we did that.  And that too has changed over the years.  In-laws have come (and sometimes gone.)  Children have been added, and then grown up.  Over the years we’ve gone from everyone buying something for everyone else, to drawing names for real gifts, to drawing names for cheap silly gifts and then stealing them from each other.  We still haven’t tried Paul’s suggestion yet—that we all just bring a $20 bill, and stand up in a circle and hand ours to the person next to us.  But gifts have taken on a lesser meaning, and a smaller bite out of our budgets.  It’s the being together that has really always mattered the most.

Magic is a hard thing to hold on to.  I can do without it.  But family is worth a tighter grip.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Do You See Me?

I think it is one of the most basic human desires to be truly known.  I don’t mean just being recognized/remembered, having someone know your name when they see your face.  I mean being truly known—understood for who you really are by another human being.  The writers of that movie “Avatar” understood this.  When the Na’vi people looked at each other and said, “I see you,” this connection is what they were expressing, because of course they SAW each other—they were looking right at each other—that wouldn’t need to be noted.  No, they were expressing something much deeper than just physical seeing.  Did you ever meet someone who just really “got” you right away?  If you did, you probably recognized that right away as something rare and good, and you probably had an immediate and maybe lifelong connection with that person.

If a person is lucky he finds at least one other person in the world who he can say really knows him.  Some are lucky enough to have several.  I know that the search for this connection is the motivation for so many of the things that people do, whether they are aware of this motivation or not.  For me, I know it is one of the reasons I write.  All my life I have written thoughts down in order to process them, understand them myself and maybe—hopefully—make myself understood to at least one other person.

The lack of this experience, this connection is, in my opinion, what loneliness is.  Loneliness has nothing to do with whether or not there are other people with you.  That’s why a person can feel alone in a crowd, or even with one other person who should know him/her, but doesn’t really.

Worse though, than simply not being known, is being actively and purposefully not known, not understood—because someone values their own ideas and interpretations of you, more than they value you.  They would rather keep these, than bother to find out about the real you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Something That Sounds Like a Good Thing, But Isn’t

Overdraft Protection.  If you have it, you have given your bank authorization to turn one honest mistake into a snowball of multiple NSF charges instead of hopefully just one for the one honest mistake.  I figured this out years ago, and was sure I no longer had this “service” on my account.  I was sure, because I said “No thank you” very clearly when asked if I wanted it!  You have to do that if you don’t want it – they put it on accounts automatically unless you request NOT to have it.  They put it on mine even though I DID make that request, and also on both of my sons’ accounts – one that was just recently opened, and they didn’t even mention it when we opened it.  I corrected that this morning on all three accounts.  Do you know whether or not you have this little trick on your account?  You might be surprised – check with your bank.

Ok, now who wants to hear what stupid thing I did to cause me to discover this?  The biggest bill I pay every month, I always set up to pay online on the due date – August 11 this time.  That gives me plenty of time to make sure the money gets deposited to cover it.  Well, apparently I forgot to check the pay date box, and so it just paid on the next business day – or tried to.  The money wasn’t in my account yet and FORTUNATELY my “Overdraft Protection” (which I didn’t know I had!) was for a lesser amount than the payment, so the bank will return it unpaid and charge me ONE $28 NSF fee.  I can recover from that, set the payment up again for the correct date, and still have money in my account to pay the rest of my bills as they come in between now and then.  If the “Overdraft Protection” (WHICH I DIDN’T KNOW I HAD!!!) was for a large enough amount, they would have paid the large payment, still charged me the $28 fee and then each and every item that came in after that would have also been charged a $28 fee because they would have overdrawn my account to pay the large payment.

Trust me.  You do not want your bank to pay anything you do not have the money in your account(s) to pay.

This concludes today’s lesson in personal money management – something, by the way, that I’m usually very good at – ask anyone who knows me and has seen my spreadsheets.  But WOWZERS – one session of paying bills while sleepy and overwhelmed can really do you in!

Evidently, I’m not the only one annoyed by this practice.  I found this Forbes article on the subject: http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2009/10/30/pending-legislation-might-limit-overdraft-fees/

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

You don’t have to call me Darlin’, Darlin’. And please would you NOT?!

A note of instruction to young women (the rule actually applies to young men as well, but from my experience most boys seem to just naturally get it, and for some reason a lot of girls don’t.)

Ok, here it is:

If you are addressing a person with whom you do not have a close personal relationship, but to whom you wish to speak respectfully – ESPECIALLY if they are older than you – the correct salutation is “Ma’am” or “Sir” – NOT “Baby” (dancing teen at Billy Bob’s) not “Darlin'” (clerk at store) not “Sweetie” (various) and not (oh my goodness) “Beautiful” as one cute little waitress, younger than most of my children, enthusiastically called me as if it were my given name over and over again!  Every time she said it, it bothered me more than the time before.  Uggh – SssssssSTOPPPIT!  According to old school manners, it is considered rude to address a stranger with such familiarity.  And even if you don’t put any stock in old school manners, it is still just plain annoying . . . condescending . . . stupid!  If I were a baby, I might enjoy being spoken to like that, but then I would probably also grab your hand and stick it in my mouth.  Since I am in fact an adult, It makes me uncomfortable.  And it makes you sound like a prattling nincompoop.  I know you probably think you are being very sweet or cute, but . . . no.   I’m sorry, no.  If you know my name, you may call me that.  If not, then “Ma’am” will do nicely, thank-you.

Now that I think about it, I could probably solve this problem very quickly by just saying, “Please call me Donna” (or Ms. Hunter, depending on how formal I’m feeling.)  But I didn’t think of that solution till this minute.  The next time it happens, I will very sweetly say something like that to the little dear right away, but for now – I must rant.

And for something on the topic of young men who understand this bit of etiquette:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/donna-hunter/what-did-you-call-me/10150179688183882

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Must Dance Faster

Sometimes pictures say it better for me than words.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Hi, how are you?” How AM I? Why don’t you sit down; this is going to take a while.

While I do appreciate the intended friendliness of it, I really dislike the common social convention of asking, “How are you?” in the casual, mindless, repetitive way most of us do. If you think about it, it’s actually sort of an important question for one human being to ask another and I don’t think we ought to be asking it when we don’t really want, or have time to hear a genuine answer. We cheapen it by the formulaic, near robotic way we ask it and respond to it. I find myself constantly forced by this question to either lie or create an awkward situation by answering truthfully. Of course I realize I will never succeed in eliminating this ubiquitous piece of conversational garbage from our collective repertoire, but I have to try. At the very least I want to stop personally participating in it. If you ask me this question as a greeting, here are some of the ways I may respond.

  1. Quote Monica from “Friends”: “Do you want me to cry? Is THAT what you want? Do you wanna SEE me CRY?!”
  2. Ask, “Compared to what?”
  3. A variation on the usual answer just adding one word to make it true – “Not well, and you?” (Probably wouldn’t even be noticed half the time.)
  4. Pretend I did not hear the question, just smile and say, “Hello.”
  5. Actually just start crying.

I have used most of these at one time or another . . . not always on purpose. Really, I think the best solution would be to replace the question with a statement – “Hello, I hope you are well today!” Cool, great, thanks for the high hopes and for not asking me a personal question that neither of us really wants to talk about right now while you are bagging my groceries (or whatever.) So I’m going to try to start saying something like that whenever I start, out of habit, to ask the question. Unless – and this could happen too – I really truly want you to tell me How You Are Doing Right Now, and I have time to listen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments