Tag Archives: Tennessee

January, at its Best

How many cold, winter nights
have we sat by the window of some smoky place
and contemplated the state of things
or nothing at all
And how such a winter's night
could be so mild
'tis a strange thing but all the same
Fine by me for bitter winds
only add to the shame of man
For no man has not a care in the world
lest he have not a mind or soul
Would that I could take things like
that soulless man
My existence would not have reason
And my mind would think silly thoughts
through the window of murky winter.


Written when the Tennessee winter was more than I could bear.
The endless days and weeks of cloudy skies, barren tree limbs, and freezing temperatures took its toll.

It robbed the best of me, leaving a fallen, desperate shell.
Now my Floridian January is a celebration.

The cool winds keep the warmth from stagnating.
And I am smiling as the vivid colors of a blue sky backdrop promise me sunshine and breezes
and greenery.

And birds gracefully gliding in their sunny winter dance.


Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

My Couple-Skate Partner

Couple skateI’ve been taking my nine-year-old to the skating rink for several years now.  It always brings back memories from when I used to skate at the Hickory Hollow roller rink in Tennessee in the ’80’s.  My son has let me couple-skate with him maybe three or four times.  Now you can forget about it.  But I’m glad we had that short time on the parquet flooring.  He was my second couple-skate partner.

The first, well I can’t tell you his exact name, but for early memory-loss purposes we’ll call him David.  He was of average height, maybe an inch taller than me, and super skinny.  His mom probably bought his Sears Toughskins in slim.  I noticed him on the playground with the other 2nd graders.  I think he was hanging around the monkey bars where me and my girlfriends were reenacting the movie Annie scene by scene.  His dark hair tousled by the wind, he was alone, and seemed half content and half uneasy in his alabaster skin.  I was immediately intrigued.

Skating rink PatternSince he wasn’t in my class I had to steal glances of him whenever all the second graders converged—story time at the library, where I think I saw him checking out a sci-fi book, in the cafeteria, where he slowly savored his PB & J sandwiches from home, or at recess where he might be found alone or with another “mediocre on the food chain” elementary school boy.

I don’t think he noticed me.  Or at least he wasn’t looking at me when I was looking at him.  I distinctly remember one day when it was pouring rain. Since there was no gymnasium we had our recess in a blue-carpeted double classroom.  Written on the giant chalkboard was “Jumping Contest”.  A long pole was set up lengthwise in the center.  I was no athletic Einstein for sure, but I prided myself on my jumping abilities, which were acquired in the backyard with my more-than-athletically capable younger brother.

SkatesWhen David’s class entered my heart skipped a beat.  He leaned against the chalkboard, patiently waiting his turn as the contest began.  One by one each of us jumped over the thigh-high pole, and one by one, kids were eliminated as the coach raised the pole higher and higher.  David was a fair jumper, sitting down somewhere in the middle of the eliminations.  Each time I jumped I was proud yet slightly amazed I had gone on to be one of the last four.  As the clock ticked closer to the end of recess, the pole was raised to meet my chest.  I took a confident running start and made the jump without knocking over the bar! Smiling within, I hoped David was as impressed as I was.

A couple weeks later I went to the skating rink for kid’s skate night.  There was something special about the skating rink—the smell of popcorn and worn, rented skates, the neon lights illuminating the slick, wooden floor, the blinking lights of the video arcade games, and the promise of finding someone to couple-skate with.

Arcade gamesI was well-versed in skating at a decent clip to Michael Jackson, Van Halen, and Midnight Starr.  But in all the days and nights I went to that rink I never did a couple-skate.  No one ever asked me.

While sitting near the concession stand for a snack break, I noticed my crush-from-afar, skating awkwardly in time to that early-80’s rap beat.  Excitement and nervousness set in my freckled body.  His skates magnified his long, lanky limbs, and turned his slim jeans into high-waters.  But there was something about him, the way he seemed content with being alone, yet slightly lost in the shuffle.  I anxiously made my way to the floor to see if he would notice me.

PopcornEvery time I passed him my stomach would flutter.  Even back then I wondered what I looked like from behind as he surely caught a glimpse of my little round rump as I rolled by.  After a few rounds the DJ announced it was time for “Couple Skate Only” so I returned to the snack bar to find my mom for money to play Pac Man.  As she handed me a quarter, I felt a hesitant tap on my shoulder.  I turned around to see David, my exquisitely gawky David, who quietly but fervently asked if I would like to couple skate.  “Yes,” I replied non-reluctantly, and he clasped my hand in his.

Disco ballWe revolved carefully in clunky rhythm, our hair blowing and our mouths curled up in nervous smiles of relief.  We made small talk.  We tried not to fall.  As far as I was concerned we were the only kids on the rink.  When the song was over we thanked each other then he scooted away to leave for the night.

The rest of the school year when I saw him from time to time, we would smile at each other.  I never saw him with any other girls, and I don’t think he came back to our school the following year.

I could say I picked him up like a stray, an unwieldy boy who needed someone to cling to, if only for a moment.  Although I might have had the upper hand when it came to quiet confidence and certain physical skills, I think it was me who received that small rescue.


Filed under Picking Up Strays

Left-hand Turns and other Driving Displeasures

Our family car in the mid '80's. Why am I the only one NOT wearing flip flops?

Our family car in the mid ’80’s. Why am I the only one NOT wearing flip flops?

From the backseat of our car the other day my nine-year-old son loudly stated, “You’re becoming your mother.”  I knew exactly what he was talking about.  We were trying to make a left-hand turn into non-stop traffic as a line of cars behind us became increasingly impatient.  “I hate these left-hand turns!” I cried out before my son made his unquestionable statement.  These were the words I heard repeatedly from my mother in the 80’s and 90’s, although she said it with a bit more exasperation and defeat.  “Oh I HATE these left-hand tuuurns! I’m NEVER gonna get outta heeeeere!” It used to annoy the crap out of me because she was so dramatic and aggravated about it.  But now that I’m older and an experienced driver, I completely understand.

Mom's preferred place in the car-- the passenger's seat.

Mom’s preferred place in the car– the passenger’s seat.

My brother and I would make fun of her, and to this day it is an ongoing joke.  We mimic that sentence that is still lingering somewhere over the streets of Antioch, Tennessee.  Even she laughs about it now.  It’s become one of those family inside-jokes that’s still alive with the next generation.  So when my son hears me say those exact words in a real-life situation, well he is smart enough to know it resembles the frustrated expression of Grandma.

Another thing that annoyed my mom on the road was the incompetence of drivers from a certain county.  Anytime a driver did something idiotic, like pull in front of us, or slam on brakes, or stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason, my mom got a good look at the license plate.  And lo and behold, they were always from the same county.  “Rutherford County, I knew it!” She screamed in annoyed confidence.  They did seem to be the worst drivers on the street.  That was also the county were my mom was born and raised.

The only "vehicle" my Granny drives. Notice my parent's Lucerne in the background.

The only “vehicle” my granny drives. Notice my parent’s Lucerne in the background.

I don’t notice any particular county in The Tampa Bay area of Florida (where I reside now) that fosters incompetent drivers, although if you see a Toyota Camry or Buick Lucerne swerving about, pulling out into oncoming traffic, or going 10 miles an hour, you can bet the driver is at least 75 years old. And when this does happen you will hear me say, “Great-grandma Myrtle—I knew it!”

My grandma (born, raised, and still living in Rutherford County) has never driven a day in her life.  My mom won’t drive on interstates.  I’ve taken 600 mile road trips by myself on several occasions.  So with each generation comes more driving confidence.  But when I start getting cocky my mom always reminds me of the time I was just learning to drive and nearly crashed our minivan into a median.

My first car. Zero accidents. One break down. Two speeding tickets.

My first car. Zero accidents. One break down. Two speeding tickets.

I yelled through hormonal teenage tears, “I’m never driving again!”  My mom sternly looked me in the eyes and said, “Yes you will, Jenifer!  You have to.”  In her own shaky driving self-confidence she knew her daughter could not be scared like her or her own mother.  And I’m glad she said that to me that day.  Because I might not have had the displeasure of hating left-hand turns just like her.

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Filed under Yep I'm Becoming My Mother