If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Thursday, November 26

Thanksgiving 2015

I'm so thankful for all the friends in my life, old and new, who keep things interesting!

Last night I complained about how much food I 'have' to eat today at two family get-togethers. This morning I feel humbled by a cousin's post about feeding the homeless.

I stress over family interactions and troubles and want to just lie on my couch all day gnawing on a turkey leg. Then I see a friend's post who just lost her husband this year and won't have him around for the holidays, and another friend who just lost her father. I remember how many are missing at our table and how I should be grateful to still have my mom and dad.

I complain about traveling to family for the holidays and how we've done it for the entire 22 years of our marriage. Then I realize that there are so many who are alone in this world and don't have anyone to sit and eat and argue with.

People talk about how awful Facebook and social media in general can be, but today I want to be thankful for all things webby. The thing I've learned over the years is that social media can and will be exactly what you allow it to be. If you want a soap box, there it is. If you want to be happy and positive, it's great for that. If you want to meet people, you can do that too. I'm thankful for my virtual friends who are as close to me as real life friends. In fact, I might know more about them than most people I see face to face.

Yes, I do realize how much I take for granted. Yes, I do realize my life is pretty wonderful, some might say charmed. I also realize that I could lose everything tomorrow and that there's nothing I can do about it, so I live every day. This year, I want everyone to try a little bit of that. Time goes by so quickly and this one life is really the only thing we know is real.

Tuesday, October 20

Social Research Results

Recently I took a class on social research. Part of the assignment was to develop, administer, and evaluate a survey on a topic of my choosing. Once the results were tabulated, I had to combine all the results into a formal research paper following APA guidelines. That fun-ness can be found by clicking here and clicking on "Social Research Project." It's a 30-something page paper, but feel free to use it as bedtime reading!

Everyone who participated, 95 people, wanted to see the results so the best I could do was list them here. There were actually open-ended questions in addition to the multiple choice questions. I am adding the questions followed by the multiple choice results here. I may save some of my favorite comments from the open ended questions for use in future blogs. *rubs hands together* *wickedly cackles*

Monday, October 19

Thoughts from the morning of my 48th birthday.

I've been awake since 2:30 a.m.

This is becoming a regular thing for me and I don't like it. Granted, I went to bed and collapsed at 8:30 last night, but that's beside the point. When you're up at 2:30 a.m. there is just not much to do unless you're up for work.

I've been sitting in my living room thinking for the past couple of hours. Thinking about life in general, and my life specifically. It's my birthday today and I'm one year closer to that horrible number that gave me my one and only age-related freak out when I was 35. (I basically sobbed to my husband "I'm only 15 years away from FIFTY!" as he rocked me back and forth, probably rolling his eyes.)

I really don't think much about aging, at least maybe not as much as I should. I think about life more like a journey that started before me and will continue long after me. I think about how I fit into my own corner of the world and how I affect those who are around me. I also think about how they affect me. Is it good or bad? Positivity or negativity? Do we hold each other up or tear one another down?

My life has changed dramatically over the past decade. I am not the same person that I was at 38 or even the same person I was four years ago. Back then I had two very long-term friends who I thought would always be a part of my life. Now, they are no longer around. I made the decision to end a friendship that wasn't really working because I saw that she had no integrity in the way she treated others. The second one was ended by the other person's actions toward me about something that I had no control over. I ended up with not one person in my corner after that one, except my husband.

My relationship with my husband is better now than it ever has been. We've both learned over 22 years of marriage how to make it work and be happy. Here's the secret: it involved a lot of open, honest, and sometimes painful conversations. It involved putting hurt feelings and ego to the side. It involved giving more and expecting less. And letting go of the past in order to move forward. Neither of us was a terrific spouse before, and we aren't perfect now. But, like life, it's a work in progress.

There are certain milestones, birthdays being one of them, that cause me to reflect on life. This morning I was thinking about who and what inspires me and I came to a shocking conclusion. My life inspires my writing and my friends inspire me. My friends. Inspire. Me. They amaze me. And it was only when I realized it that I thought, I don't think I've ever had a group of friends in my life who inspire me.

I've had (and still do have) some really wonderful friends, don't get me wrong. I've had friends I admired, friends who influenced me, friends who shocked me, friends who made me laugh. I've had friends who were there through thick and thin, friends who showed up when husband almost died, who dragged me away from the hospital and tried to keep me together. I've had friends who I talked to every day and friends who I talked to once a year.

But this group right here, right now, they inspire the hell out of me. Inspire me to do good work, follow my dreams, write the chapters of my own life, and just by god keep it together. They show me every day what life is like when you live as an authentic person. When you are honest about your thoughts and your life with your friends and with yourself. I spent many years of my life not being authentic, trying to be someone else rather than just working figuring myself out. I always tried to fit in, one of the dangers of moving a lot as a kid, and I could morph into almost any situation with no problem. Except one big problem. I honestly had no idea who I was because I was always trying to match everyone around me.

I am so lucky to have these girls in my life. I am so lucky to be inspired and honored to be accepted just the way I am. Of course, they've made me completely unacceptable in general society because I am so used to our talks full of dirty language, brutal honesty, girlie love, sexual innuendo, and a general disrespect for silverware. (I'm looking at you, Beth!) That doesn't matter though, because they made me free to be myself, and that is the best gift you can give anyone.

I haven't been easy over the past 2 years. I know I've been "taking" a lot but I also know that I'm going to do and be better over the next 2 years. So thank you to all my friends. Seriously. You mean the world to me. Keep doing you, and I'll keep doing me. Wait, that sounded dirty....

PS After writing this, I scrolled through Facebook this morning and found these on my feed. It seemed appropriate to share them here.

Friday, September 11

Lighting a candle

I woke up this morning thinking about the horrible events of 9-11-01 and all the people who left this world on that day. I think about the heroes, the police and firefighters, the ordinary people who opened up their hearts and assisted in the aftermath. I think about the mental baggage they must still carry from the things they saw. 

I still remember the feeling I had when I saw the first images of the plane crashing into the first tower, and then images of people jumping, the towers collapsing, dust covered "ghosts" wandering the streets. I remember watching when the towers collapsed and thinking the sight of people fleeing with the giant cloud of dust and debris chasing them looked more like something from a big budget movie than real life.

I remember the eerie silence outside our home in Murfreesboro without the planes overhead and the feeling of utter helplessness in the midst of a crazy world. I remember people, not knowing what else to do, flocking to stores to buy USA shirts and flags and anything else they could find. It felt like this event might just bring our nation together. Instead, extreme views have left us more fractured than ever. The division, the hate, the mistrust, the profiling, and the fear that has swept our nation in the post-911 period is heartbreaking. It is almost like every little crack in our society has gotten so much larger and so much worse. The war, the Tea Party, the religious right, the white supremacists, the racial profiling and violence have made the divide between left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican seem insurmountable.

So today I light a candle, as I have done each of these 14 years. But this time I do so not just for those lost, not just for the family and friends of those lost, but I am also thinking of everything our nation has lost as a result of those attacks. We've lost privacy, liberties, and safety but more than that we have lost our respect for one another with all the arguing and infighting. When civil discourse and thoughtful debate in our country is replaced with spewing hate and bigotry, it doesn't honor these victims. It means we have let the terrorists win.

Thursday, August 27

Journalism Shouldn't Kill

For almost four years I worked as a reporter for a small weekly newspaper. Actually, the only reporter/photographer and as such I covered events of every kind. Although it was a small, rural town that looked like Mayberry, I came to learn that there was a side to the town that was anything but innocent. 

There were many, many times that I felt uneasy at my job. Just like other journalists, I worked late hours alone in a dark building. I traveled to remote locations for interviews, sometimes not knowing who or what would greet me at the door. I showed up on-scene at fires, car wrecks, and crime scenes as often as I was at a city council meeting or football game. 

I dreaded the winter most because the dark came early and there were constantly basketball games and after-hour events. High school parking lots are terrifying when you are a woman alone. None of them are well-lit despite the fact that there are basketball games several nights each week in the very darkest months of November and December. 

When I was covering an event, I felt on display in front of everyone who was there. It is a tool of the trade to become invisible and not be a part of the action. Most people don't notice journalists as they do their job, but you never do really know who notices you. Your back is almost always to the crowd when you are facing the action. 

Everywhere I went people knew me and, whether I knew them or not, didn't hesitate to come up and talk to me. Sometimes it was good. Sometimes they yelled at me and berated me. I once had two baseball moms say horrible things about me and my work while sitting only two rows behind me at the ball park. It was as if I wasn't a real person with real feelings. I was also yelled at while in WalMart getting groceries, and grabbed by the arm during a high school band concert. People called me on my personal cell phone on weekends and holidays to bitch at me for something they didn't like. 

Many times, people felt the need to drag my personal life in and put it on display. Never in my 30+ years of working had I ever had someone go to my boss about something I did in my personal time. I really didn't know how to deal with it. People tried to get me fired over my personal beliefs, or because I didn't write a story that would give them free publicity. One person in particular asked my boss to fire me on three different occasions for completely bullshit reasons that I think had less to do with me than who he wanted to be my replacement.

Hearing all this, it might sound like I hated that job. The fact is I did not. I loved being a reporter more than any job I've had. I felt like I made a difference. I felt happy when I could tell someone's story to the community, or bring attention to a problem or success. I loved going to the elementary school and being treated like a rock star (kids love having their pictures made). I enjoyed knowing what was going on in the community and being able to participate. 

Journalism is a powerful thing and particularly for those on television, journalists become a part of people's lives. The community feels comfortable with people they see on a daily basis, and I think that is why they are so comfortable with approaching a reporter with anything that upsets them. When I left Nashville I was shocked at how much I missed the newscasters on Channel 5 bringing me the news every day. 

Yesterday morning I happened to be at home and on my computer. A breaking news alarm went off on my phone and I read the message about two journalists being killed. I shook my head and thought, "Oh, no."

When I scrolled down to read the story I saw that this happened in our own country, on American soil, and (horrifyingly) to a reporter and cameraman who were live, on the air, reporting a story. It took my breath. 

"no no no no no no nooooo"

I am still aghast at the fact that I was literally watching the killer live Tweet post-shooting. I was watching when the video went up on his feed. I shivered as I watched (yes, I watched it) him aim the camera, aim the gun, and stand behind the cameraman for what seemed like an eternity (actually was 15-20 seconds) while the interview played out to its horrifying conclusion.

As I scrolled down through his feed, I saw that he posted dozens of photos in the week leading up to the shooting, a sort of unsettling, self-aggrandizing scrapbook. It was as if he wanted to make sure he was remembered. It was as if he didn't think killing two people in an on-air interview would do the trick. There were photos and videos from his modeling "career" and his high school prom. It was, to me, sad and pathetic and arrogant all at the same time. 

My heart aches for the families of these two people, who were simply out there doing their job and bringing the news home for their viewers. I hurt for all their co-workers and the audience members who had to witness this on live TV. I can't even imagine. 

I write all this just to say one simple thing. Reporters, journalists, photographers, they are in the public eye to be sure. They are people just like you and me, working long hours for not a lot of pay usually. They are many times up before the dawn and more often out way past dark. They act brave because they have to, even when they might be going into a dangerous situation. That does not mean they are fearless. It never occurred to me that while I was standing in front of that crowd of people someone could pull out a gun and start shooting. I am pretty sure it didn't occur to these people either. 

Journalists are public servants. They do all of this, particularly those on a local level, to bring the news home to the people in their community. They are the neutral party. They do it to keep the politicians on their toes and the taxpayer's money under scrutiny. They do it to bring happiness to people with feel good stories, and warnings of danger when necessary. They do not expect to be gunned down on the job. 

Rest in peace, Allison and Adam. And peace to all those affected by your death. 

Thursday, April 9

So much awesome.

So this happened last night.

Yep, I got to meet my long-time crush Billy Bob Thornton after a concert at the Franklin Theatre. What a great venue they have created for that place–we sat about 25 feet from the stage. After, the Boxmasters held a signing and I actually got to shake his hand and have a real 5 minute conversation with the man himself.

He was so gracious with his time. If he's not genuine then he's a better actor than I thought. (beaversandducks!)

As an aside, Mr. Thornton, this is the video trailer I told you about last night. I know someone who would love for you to be involved in this project!
Her documentary is called Raised in the South of Normal and is something I am definitely looking forward to seeing!

Anyway, this theater has been around for years. My family lived in Williamson County for most of my childhood and any movie that I saw, I saw in this theater. I saw Benji there when I was about 11 or so and I cried so hard my mom had to take me out and calm me down.

In the late 90s I went there for foreign films, and one ill fated trip to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Long story short we didn't KNOW they didn't want you to throw rice. Oops.) They tried to revive it as a venue space, added food to the menu, and a lot of other things.

This current redesign debuted in 2011 and has been met with much success by all accounts. I have attended several music shows there, as well as movies. The building is now a beautiful venue used as a very intimate setting for movies, music and theater. They have a bar in addition to the concession stand in the lobby and still retain the original charm of the building (like the balcony and theater seating) in addition to the modern upgrades (like bigger restrooms and cabaret style seating in the front).

My hometown in Kentucky has a theater left from the 20's and it is a beautiful space. A few years ago a resident put millions of dollars into restoring it to its former glory. However, no one has ever quite been able to grasp the concept of making it a multi-purpose venue. Since it was deeded over to the local Industrial Authority (because who is more creative than businessmen....not), it sits around empty most of the year and serves as a site for wedding receptions occasionally. Hopefully one day they will see the light, much as the folks did in Franklin, TN with this theater.

When it comes to live music I can't think of a better place to see a show. And we saw Budapest Hotel here a couple of years ago as a new release, majestic on the big screen. If you don't know about the Franklin Theater, check it out on their site at franklintheatre.com

Tuesday, August 12

Adieu, Mr. Williams

Robin Williams is dead. 

The earth won't stop turning, my daily life won't be directly affected. In fact, the truth is most of us will forget within a few months. And then it will hit us again. 

It seems crazy to be so sad over someone you didn't even know in person. 

But right now, I'm ridiculously mournful about the fact that we'll never again get to enjoy his riotous, manic, sometimes strange but always engaging stand-up performances. I'm heartbroken that we'll never get to see his unbelievable dramatic performances like in Dead Poet's Society or The Fisher King. It's unfair that he'll never make a feel good comedy like Mrs. Doubtfire again.

I grew up with Robin Williams being a household name. I was maybe 10 or 11 when Mork & Mindy hit the airwaves. 

As a child growing up in a very conservative, non-artistic home, it was the craziest, weirdest, most out-there thing I had ever seen. And I loved it. My parents indulged me by letting me watch it every week. A lot of the humor was beyond me, but I knew I liked him and he made me laugh. 

He made all of us laugh. 

Maybe we did know him, after all. Through all of those performances, television shows, and movies. Through all we knew and all he told us about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, failed marriages and inner demons. 

It made him more relatable to me. Little did I know, even at the age of 22 when I watched him in Dead Poet's Society, that we would have so much in common. 

I suffer from depression, too. Sometimes it's overwhelming; sometimes it's unnoticeable. Always, it's a mystery; always, it's there. It just depends. On life, on medication, on a lot of things. 

I was in my late 30's before I was diagnosed, although I'm sure it was there much earlier. As early as 2004 I began having this feeling that something wasn't right. I just didn't feel like myself in a way that was inexplicable. 

I felt .... vacated.... empty....void. I was rarely happy, but neither was I sad. 

I would cry in the car on the way home every day and I didn't know why. I just felt not right, even when every doctor I talked to told me I was fine. 

By the end of 2007 I was 12 hours from my life, my friends and my family in Nashville and I was in such a deep depression that I would make my 30 minute drive to school each day and think, “I could just get on that interstate and drive away and never come back.” Everything made me blow a gasket. I just wanted out of my life. I never thought or considered myself suicidal. 

For me, it manifested in a “If I could leave my life and start something all new it would be better for everyone” kind of thing. Finally, in spring 2008 I found an amazing therapist and an amazing psychiatrist who worked to pull me out of the mire through a combination of counseling and medication. 

The amount of time it took and the problems I had to endure to be diagnosed, well, that's another story in itself.  I was very highly functional, to be sure. I got up, dressed, and went to school or work every day. I smiled at people because that's what you're supposed to do. I wore clean clothes and cooked dinner because that was the routine, and I knew if I stopped I'd never get back up. 

But one day, I literally had a therapist tell me I looked too good and was too put together to be depressed. He said that all I needed was a girls shopping weekend. I just lost it and walked out in the middle of the appointment, unable to say a word because I was so mad and my southern manners wouldn't allow it, which only made things worse.

People, we need to take depression seriously in this country. I resisted getting help for so long because I was raised to think that if you're in therapy you're “crazy” or “broken” or destined for the mental hospital. It's just not so. 

There are some of us who feel so much. We feel everything from injustice to discontent to sadness from everything that is happening around us. We're empathetic. We have chemical imbalances that keep us from dealing with those feelings in a reasonable manner. Some of us medicate with alcohol and drugs, like Robin Williams. Some medicate with food like me. Some with sex or danger or adrenaline. There are a million ways to get enough of a high to feel better, even for a moment.

One day I was driving home from Nashville and this sky was the view out the front windshield of my car. When I saw it I had to stop and take a picture of it because it kind of felt like how I see life. 

This friends is how it feels to have depression. If you don't know why, you are fortunate. Every single day can feel like you know something else is out there. See that little patch of blue near the bottom? Through that tiny hole is where other people live their lives. You know the blue skies and sunshine are there. You're aware that other people can see it. But all you see are dark clouds ahead of you. 

Sometimes you get just a glimpse but the opening isn't enough to jump through to get to the other side. Sometimes your friends reach and pull you through. Sometimes you wriggle through or talk until the opening is bigger. Other times, when the medication is going well, it's mostly sunny and few clouds. 

This morning, I watched a video of Robin Williams doing stand-up about the invention of golf and laughed until I cried. Then, I just cried.

Robin Williams is dead. And yes, I'm sad. Cheers, Robin, and thank you. I hope you find a patch full of sunshine.

A link to the Bloggess where she writes much more frequently than I about how DepressionLies. If you know of someone who needs help, please don't ignore it or think that it will "get better."