Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Last week Braxton turned 39! My sweet husband is so many things to our family. He is a leader, encourager, challenger, tickle monster to Emma Sanders, supporter, comedian, etc... We were excited to celebrate him last week.

My friend Erin is possibly the kindest person on the planet. Not even joking. She can find a smile and a rainbow in just about any situation. If you know her and her story can I get an Amen? Well she also encourages people well and so for Braxton's 39th she kept saying, he is turning thirty-fine not thirty nine. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for 40.

So I thought it would be fun to have a few of our friends over with some pizza, cake and ice cream. I also thought it would be funny to put Happy Thirty Fine on the cake. Sometimes things are funnier in my head than in real life.

I went to Kroger and picked out the cake and proceeded to take it to a lady who might have had the worst day at Kroger ever. I don't know this for sure but her face, body language everything told me her top 10 places to be that day were not behind the counter of the Kroger Deli/Bakery. I smiled and said, "Can you write Happy Birthday Thirty Fine on this cake?" I then proceeded to explain to her how funny my friend Erin is and how we have this inside joke about how he is not turning 39 but thirty fine...blah blah blah.

Her expression did not change one single time the entire conversation. Not even when I was laughing. Stoic. Then she said, "You want me to put Thirty Fine on this here cake?" Insert me laughing, that embarrassed chuckle of a laugh more than the "you don't think this is funny do you?" laugh.

I just said, "Yes Ma'am" and walked away. I picked up a few other items in the store and in my head picturing this being done to the cake. "Happy Thirty-Fine Birthday"

This is what I got:

And along with it a stoic face and greeting of "this what you wanted?" To which I responded, "Exactly." Mainly because I thought it was funny but also because I'm pretty sure she was packin.

Now according to where you put the coma on this bad boy you could read it many different ways.

Happy 30, fine. Like fine you turned 30, so what.
Happy 30 Fine'  Maybe she misunderstood me and thought I was telling her someone's name. You know, like Finay.
Happy 30 fine! You did a fine job of turning 30.

I am not sure what she was thinking but she did not get the joke but for us it was one of the funniest memories ever.

Happy Birthday Fine' we love you more than you could ever know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Transient-"Lasting only for a short time, impermanent."

About 6 months before we moved into our community I remember listening to Robert Montague, director of the BDC, talk about the biggest problem with Binghampton. Contrary to popular belief it isn't drugs, alcohol or even crime. No, the biggest problem with our neighborhood is apathy. Mixed feelings of despair swirl with a feverish state of indifference.

It's that dark place when you hit rock bottom and you don't care and most importantly you don't feel like anyone else cares either. Which in turn leads to things like not taking care of your home, yard, family, bills or yourself.

The result? Transient people, living transient lives. It is rare for someone to move into our neighborhood and live more than about 6 months to a year. We do have several neighbors who have been here for 40+ years but I am talking about the people who have moved in and out over and over in the last 6 years we have lived here. It is mainly young people who have given up.

So they find jobs that last about 6 months, they move into rental properties owned by slum lords who don't care anymore than their renters, they charge an exorbitant amount of rent on a run down home because they know what we all know, in a short amount of time the renter will no longer be able to pay the rent and they will inevitably disappear. And the cycle continues.

The casualties? The kids. Kids like Madji who walked over this weekend to tell me he doesn't like his new place because he is scared of the neighbors in the apartment complex.  Kids like Tevin, Elante, Erik, etc...they move from home to home and school to school almost as often as the seasons change. Who more than likely will end up in a gang, because for some of them it is the first time they have heard about being a part of something, and being in a gang feels like belonging.

Then these kids turn into apathetic adults who don't care because they've never been given anything to care about. They make poor decisions and continue down the same transient path. And society wants to point fingers and say things like, "they should've stayed in school," or "they should've worked harder."

The system is broken, the world is broken. And it is hard to breathe some days from the thick fog of callousness.

The answer? I'm still working on that. Not sure there is a clear one this side of heaven. I do know what helps. Neighbors who put a stake in the ground and say "I'm here for the long haul." A community of believers who step outside and take their neighbor by the hand and say, "I care about you, you matter to me, how can I serve you?" It takes loving people with joy in their heart to spend 30 min-1 hour a week investing in a child in an inner city school. Helping to break the cycle and put hope back in their lives. Offering stability in their ever transient world.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Intelligent with a side of crazy

I turned 36 a couple of weeks ago, which puts me closer to 40 than to 30, which then puts me also past the middle point of 70. So according to my calculations I am like 6 weeks away from arthritis and cataracts. Lovely.

I had a great birthday and felt very celebrated and loved by my friends and family. I really don't feel like I'm 36 or what I used to think 36 should feel like when I was 18 and was so grown up and mature.  Back then I thought 36 was ancient and close to the nursing home age. Now I see much clearer that 36 is actually twice as good as 18 ever thought about being.

I did have one conversation close to my birthday that got me thinking. I was talking to a mom of a friend of Preston's and she was telling me about this homeless lady she works with. She had helped get her in a shelter, got her on a plan to get a GED and even helped find her a job. Then she says this, "You know, she is intelligent but with a side of crazy." She then paused and said, "Do you know what I mean?"

I thought for a second and then blurted out, "Do I know what you mean?" YES!! You just described me!! That is me for sure....Intelligent with a side of crazy. It was revolutionary and it explained soo much of the past 35 years of my life. I couldn't wait to get home to tell my sweet husband that I had found myself and he would no longer have to wonder why I sometimes talk to myself, hate wire hangers, snap over the silliest of things, insist that our bed is made everyday even if it is 5pm before I get to it, have trouble finishing a thought without starting to bring up 10 other things, can't stand the feel of panty hose, love lists and checking things off, abhor those DA?!# squeeze it juices that when you twist the top off they splash everywhere, and the list goes on.

Whew! I felt like I needed to pay her a counseling fee.

And shortly thereafter my Aunt Lisa found this picture.
Turns out some people have known this about me all along. The troubling part is that the older I get the crazy sometimes starts to win out over the intelligent. And I'm more like "crazy with a side of intelligence." I am not sure which is scarier.

And you want to know the worst part? It's hereditary.