PRAYER: A Novena to Saint Maximilian Kolbe for the Grace to be Freed from Addiction

•November 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I quit blogging when I went to law school but this moved me.

The Value of Sparrows

(I collect prayers, and I’m especially fond of novenas.  I find them to be a very practical means of organizing thoughts and hopes.  A year or so ago, I was putting together a litany for parents with wayward children.

It was dedicated to a woman who was going through a very bad time with her daughter, a young woman whose life was being slowly ruined because of her addiction to drugs.  I was shocked, and somewhat horrified, when I could not find a prayer concerning addiction, any kind of addiction.  It was as though the church turned its face away from such degradation.  Perhaps there is just too much shame in the idea of addiction to want to actually pray for someone in such trouble.

If that’s the case, then that is the real shame.

I was overjoyed when I finally came across the following novena.  I can’t remember now where…

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Drinking from the Cups of Life

•August 8, 2012 • 3 Comments

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

T.S. Eliot

It has been seven years ago today since door first opened in to the warm world of my favorite coffeehouse.  So much has happened over the course of those seven years, and much of it occurred at Cups.

I still remember the first time I set foot inside.  Behind the counter stood Heather Miller.  With her fiery red hair and flowing hippie skirts I knew immediately she was not going to be your typical southern belle.  We had a long discussion about the glory (and local unavailability) of Cranberry Orange bagels, the differences between us (Yankees) and them (Southerners).  Heather was from Seattle you see, a fellow Yankee and a westerner to boot.

It became my habit to stop in every morning on my way to work.  It didn’t take long for Cups to feel like a second home.  I met and grew to admire Lisa Kirk, the beautiful blonde with a quick wit and contagious smile who would come to co-own Cups Crossgates.
Every day as I headed to work I would stop in for my daily cup.  I came for more than coffee.  I came for the way Cups made me feel.  Lisa has a gift that few people possess.  She can look at a person and find something genuinely nice to say to them.  Something true, not forced, not phony.  No matter my mood, I always left feeling better than when I entered.

My life outside the café was rapidly changing.  I had returned to school to get my BA.  I did my first photojournalism assignment on Cups.  I began taking freelance writing assignments and my first published piece was on Lisa’s then boyfriend, (now obnoxiously perfect husband), James Thompson.  Over the course of several interviews for the piece, Lisa, James, and I went from being casual acquaintances to true friends.  They introduced me to Theresa Bankston and the circle was complete.

Every other Saturday Lisa, James, Theresa, and I would drag our tired asses out of bed at the obscene hour of 8am and all gather at the tables set up outside.  We would talk, laugh (there was always laughter), debate, smoke like freight trains, drink coffee by the gallons, and just bask in our friendship.  Others would come and go, sharing a cup or a smoke or just an anecdote or two.  Our Saturday morning coffee klatch became the highlight of my week.

When my marriage fell apart, they were the first ones I told.  They were also the first to know about my granddaughter’s pending arrival and the site of my daughter-in-law’s baby shower.

After Shiloh arrived we had a regular date, Grams and Shi at Cups, at least one Sunday a month.

They were at my college graduation sitting in the stands with my mother, sisters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter.  Family.

I wrote my law school application and essay sitting at a table in Cups staring at the artwork on the wall and trying to find out how to make myself shine through in my writing.  When I was accepted to Ole Miss, I made the official announcement at a table in Cups, surrounded by James, Theresa, Lisa, Morgan, and Megan.  They were the first people, outside of my immediate family, that I told.

James took me to a campaign event he was hosting for Dr. Johnny DuPree and let me help him, Sam and Blue Dot make history by getting Dr. DuPree nominated as the first black candidate for governor in Mississippi since reconstruction.

I was there when James and Lisa finally made it official and became the most perfect couple I have ever met.  Really.  It’s damn near obnoxious.

They were the first of my friends to meet Shiloh Elizabeth when she arrived.  If I recall Theresa took one look at my angelic granddaughter and said to James, “Poke her, she’s boring.”

What started with a simple cup of coffee grew in to amazing friendships with Lisa, James, Theresa and Theresa’s awesome daughters, Morgan and Megan, Heather, Susan Ng, Kim Moss, Sam Hall, Josh Sutton, and countless others who are part of not just my Cups family but my heart family.

With my life packed up to the tops of an old Ford Taurus, leaving central Mississippi for Oxford and a completely new life my last stop was Cups in Brandon.  I took with me so much more than incredible coffee.  I took with me my life, measured in coffee spoons.

Coming Attractions

•July 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Putting it out there, I will be back. I haven’t blogged in sooooo long. It’s a discipline thing. Like getting up and going to work even when you don’t feel like it. Which is what I am going to do now. But more to follow….

A Certain Degree of Uselessness

•August 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In life, it is often necessary, when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might. ~ Winston Churchill

For four years I worked full-time.  When I got off work I went to class at Mississippi College.  And I studied. And I worked very very hard. I made the President’s List, I made Alpha Chi.  My marriage fell apart.  I lost pretty much all I owned, had to file bankruptcy.  Got roommates.  And still I studied.  I learned how to run a sound board.  How to que up a teleprompter.  How to work a television camera and studio board.  How to frame a photo.  How to build a solid budget and design a public relations plan.  I read Shakespeare, Ghandi, Gilgamesh.  I learned about ancient history. And modern psychology.  I studied Euler’s algorithm and Merton’s Anomie Theory.  I took on extracurricular activities, volunteered for marketing projects and charities. Did an internship at the Jackson Free Press.  Studied some more.  Finally finally finally, exhausted and exhilarated, surrounded by friends and family and proudly displaying my magna cum laude scarf, I walked across the stage and received my diploma.

And now, three months later, I am in the same job, doing the same thing and making the same money.  I have sent out close to one hundred resumes.  All for posted positions.  Not. One. Call.  I sent my resume to friends and family to critique and check for errors.  I networked.  I have not let even one day go by without doing something to further my attempts at a new career.  Send out a resume, call a friend who might have a lead, check careerbuilders/monster/bigfoot.  Social network.  Live network.  Blog.

I am on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.  And what has been my response to this deluge of Deanna?


What. The. Hell?

I honestly do not understand. I would understand if there were no jobs listed.  I would get it if I were cold calling and sending out blast resumes without a known position.  I have not.  But I am about to.

I thought about law school.  I have the grades and the recommendations.  I could get in.  What I can’t do is pay for it.  And according to MC Law the Bar Association only allows a law student to work 20 hours or less while in law school.  They do not have a dorm or provide housing so how exactly does one survive on twenty hours? I mean, if you don’t have a rich relative to pay your way? More loans? More debt? The purose of bettering my self and my circumstances through education was to avoid having to live in a one room shack and eat Top Ramen for weeks on end.

I am getting frustrated.  Which is a good thing.  I generally go from frustrated to pissed in about 2.5.  And when I am pissed I stop at nothing.  I will be aggressive.  I will be fearless. And as God is my witness, I WILL be gainfully employed in my field.

In the meantime, I will work for shoes.

Just sayin.

You know you’re from Utah when…

•August 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ~ Maya Angelou

You Know You’re From Utah When..

Green jell-o with carrots mixed in doesn’t seem strange.You can pronounce Tooele.The U is not just a letter – Neither is the Y.

You have actually eaten funeral potatoes.You’ve gotten both heat and frost burns off your car’s door handle in the same month.You are not surprised to hear words like “Darn, Fetch, Flip”, “Oh, My Heck” and “Shoot”.

Your tulips get snowed on three times after they come up and twice more after they bloom.

Hunting season is a school holiday.

The largest liquor store is the state government.

You can go skiing and play golf on the same day.

30% humidity is muggy and almost unbearable.

Somewhere in your family tree is a polygamist.

You know the difference between a ‘Steak House’ and a ‘Stake House’.

The elevation exceeds the population

You’ve broken down on the highway and somebody stops to help you

You can see the stars at night

You have a bumper sticker that says “Families are Forever.”

You were an aunt or uncle before you were three.

Your spouse’s mother was pregnant at your wedding.

You have more children than you can find biblical names for.

Your family considers a trip to McDonald’d a night out..

Your first child was conceived on your honeymoon.

You feel guilty when you watch Monday Night Football.

Your kids believe the deer hunt is a national holiday.

You drink Coke from a brown paper bag.

You consider a temple recommend a credit reference.

At least two of your salad bowls are at the homes of neighbors.

You believe that you must be 18 or older to order coffee at a restaurant.

You wonder why fire truck drivers honk when you drive 35 mph in the left lane on the freeway.

There is a similarity between a ward basketball game and the L.A. riots.

You think Jack Daniels is a country western singer.

You negotiate prices at a garage sale.

You can make Jell-O salad without the recipe.

You’ve heard about BYU football in a testimony meeting.

You have two gallons of ice cream in your freezer at all times.

Your father-in-law thinks Ronald Reagan was a liberal.

A member of your family wrote in Lavell Edwards for president in the last election.

Cars in the slow lane are traveling the fastest; cars in the fast lane are traveling the slowest; cars in the middle lanes are always trying to exit.

Sandals are the best-selling shoes.

You have to ask for the uncensored version of “Titanic.”

Hotel rooms all have the Book of Mormon.

You buy your wardrobe at the local grocery superstore.

You learn about the Mormon Church by taking history in elementary school.

You live in a state where Democrats always come in third place, unless a zoo animal is running. Then they come in fourth.

You’re on your own if you are turning left.

Schools stay open, even if two feet of snow falls overnight, but close for the opening of hunting season.

People wear shorts and T-shirts if the temperature rises above 32 degrees.

There is a church on every corner, but they all teach the same thing.

The most popular public transportation system is a ski lift.

People drive to Idaho (or Arizona) to pick up a gallon of milk so they can play the lottery.

In-state college football rivalries are bigger than the Super Bowl.

Beer drinkers don’t shop on Sunday.

You don’t have to breathe cigarette smoke until you walk outside a building.

The cost of living rises while your salary drops.

Every driveway has a minivan and a pickup truck.

When you buy a new vehicle, cigarette lighters are optional equipment but gun and ski racks are standard.

Every time a new family moves into your neighborhood, the local elementary school has to hire a new teacher.

Your paycheck has an additional 10 percent deduction.

“Temple recommends” is acceptable identification for cashing a check.

More movies are filmed in your town than in Hollywood.

You’ve never had a Mormon missionary knock on your door.

Your neighbors complain about where they live, yet refuse to return to the state they moved from.

You make a toast with red punch at your wedding reception.

You have more raw wheat stored than some Third World countries.

Your idea of a good time is playing Pictionary in the cultural hall.

Your idea of a wild party is a six pack of Pepsi and a PG-13 movie.

You and all your friends come to your mother for a haircut in her kitchen.

You measure Kool-Aid by parts per million.

You think “You’re a 10 cow wife” is a compliment.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Utah.

(from the You Know You’re From Utah When… Facebook page and a million places on the www.)

I am embracing my inner bitch and together we are going to rule the world!

•August 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If you want to be somebody else
If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you want to be somebody else
Change your mind…
~ Sister Hazel

There I was, all fired up and rarin’ to go.

I was going to be deep, insightful, witty and just all that all over.

Then I remembered I had some gelato in the freezer.

And now? Nothing. Zip-zilch-scratcharoonie.

Which leads me to wonder just how much my diet, in all its fat filled crappiness, effects my day-to-day life.

Hmm. Less bacon equals more energy? God I hope not. I realllly like bacon.

Speaking of, I have had a straight up craving for butter beans ever since they announced at the cafeteria they were what’s for lunch. I saw butter beans on the big board and thought, Damn, I haven’t had those in years! So, I took my place in line and patiently waited my turn. As I approached the fogged over glass surrounding the steam table my eyes searched for the pearly white of my lunch. Squint. Hmm. I don’t actually SEE any butter beans. There are some gray looking lumps in the corner that are kind of shaped like a butter bean.

Excuse Ms. Emily, where are the butter beans?

Sure enough, she points straight at the gray lumps.

Um… those aren’t butter beans, I say.

Yeah, thems speckled butter beans, Ms. Emily replies. They not quite the same but they still butter beans.

I took a shot and ordered them. True enough, they are not quite the same.

And they are not, for the record, butter beans.

A few days later I am in Fresh Market, a rather pretentious but well-meaning whole foods store in Renaissance. (The fruit tarts were so beautiful I asked the bakery clerk if they were real or wax models for display – real was her reply- daYAm was mine) Certainly they would have butter beans? Nope. they did have cranberry orange scones though so not a wasted trip.

So.. still butter bean-less but I am going to find some, throw in way too much salt and a bit of fat back for flavor, maybe mix up a batch of cornbread, add some cold milk and sit down to supper.

Which would piss my ex off to know end as all I ever made for him was “Yankee Food.” I was trying to broaden his horizons. Mine are plenty broad already so I can eat what I damn well please.

In case you haven’t noticed I have been in a bad mood for …. oh… about six months.

I think it started when I quit smoking.  That is normal and I expected it.  The problem is it didn’t go away.  I stayed grouchy.  It may be hormonal; I am after all at that age.  It may be that I take less “me” time at work since I don’t actually have any where to go to get away from it all whereas I used to go smoke.   Or, maybe, just maybe, the entire world HAS been taken over by jackasses.

I think I’ll take door number three there, Bob.

See, there are still people out there, quite a few in fact, whose mere presence makes me smile.  Whose humor and warmth instantly melt away the anger and frustration and I snap back to my old self.  If I can still feel these things, if I am happy outside the presence of certain environments, then perchance it is not all me after all ? Which means I need to step up and get serious about finding a new job.

It also means I am going to have to learn to say the word, “no”, even when I don’t want to.  There are a million things I want to do.   I just cannot do them all at once.  I know. I’ve tried.

So, mission one, set priorities:

1. Find job wherein I do not feel an unhealthy affinity to Foster the People.

2. Focus on writing.  The excercise of art improves every area of my life.  The additional income will allow me, if necessary, to take a cut in pay to do what I really want to do.

3. Get laid.  (Just checking to see if you were really following or just skimming.  Although… )

4. Laugh at least once a day, exercise twice a week.

That should do it.  I’ll keep you posted.

No figs for you! Adventures at a so-called farmer’s market.

•July 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

After voluntary exertions on the part of our people to which the history of the world furnishes no parallel, is the old root of bitterness still to remain in the ground, to sprout and bear fruit in the future as it has borne fruit in the past? ~ Robert Dale Owen

God hates figs. Matthew 21:19

I walked the aisle, lifting a peach, sniffing a cantaloupe, searching for a fig.  The fruit was a bit past fresh in several cases, flies buzzing about the outdoor market certainly did not add anything to the ambience.  But the tomatoes! Oh my.  Red, ripe, luscious and as fresh as a belle at a ball.

I snagged two, along with a carton of  shiny deep-almost-purple-red cherries, homemade cucumber dill dressing and peanut brittle still in one big piece that I had the unmitigated pleasure of cracking myself.

There is something special about cracking your own peanut brittle.

But no figs.  They are not ready yet, I was told. Soon though, very soon.  And there’s the rub.  This is not truly a farmer’s market.  This is a produce stand. And while the two are often used interchangeably they are most definitely not the same thing.

A farmer’s market, a true Farmer’s Market, is just that.  A market place with stall after stall manned by the very hands that grew the produce.  At one stand is farmer Joe with his prize-winning cantaloupe, at the next is Farmer Beth with her perfect Granny Smith’s and there is Tom, with his homemade peanut brittle just waiting to be broken by you.   And last but far from least is Farmer Dave with his just came in figs, picked at the peak of freshness just this morning and brought here to sell.

And so I came home, without my figs, and having bypassed the peaches that were well past their prime but happy with my tomatoes, which I sliced and ate all by themselves.  Not quite as good as my sister-in-laws and nowhere near my late mother-in-laws they were still a high step above the Kroger hot-house/no-flavor choices I am often relegated to when doing my late night, just got off work shopping.

And did I mention the peanut brittle?


In the Don’t Know but Fully Intend to Find Out Category:

This week I caught bits and pieces of things that I really want to know more about. To wit:

  • Peter Tosh.  I was only just introduced to Mr. Tosh via an NPR story that I landed in half way through.  What I heard I liked.  A lot. The music, the politics, the man.
  • Roman Polanski – Holocaust survivor.  Is this possible? He is in his seventies, right? So I suppose so.  That and the horrible murder of his wife by the Manson gang make for a tragic life. Hard to understand how someone who has experienced that much pain and loss could rape a child and spread tragedy to another.
  • Is the legalization of abortion responsible for the sudden drop in crime in the early nineties? Now this was fascinating.  Presented by economist and Freakonomics coauthor Steve Levitt, the theory is that with the passage of Roe v. Wade (who was the smart-ass that came up with “Roe” anyway? ), an entire generation of unwanted pregnancies never came to term, thus reducing the number of unwanted and unprepared for (and often under-parented) children, who are most likely to grow up and become criminals.  According to Levitt the numbers back this up.  In the five states where abortion was legalized five years before the national law went into effect had the same sudden and unexplained drop five years earlier.
  • What would it take to change the name of damn near everything in Rankin County? Starting with the name Rankin? I was watching a documentary (which I highly recommend by the way) called Imaginary Witness, Hollywood and the Holocaust.  Fascinating.  It pointed out that Gentleman’s Agreement was actually written after the author heard Mississippi Senator John Rankin’s viciously antisemitic rants on the floor of the U.S. Congress.  And of course, there is the ever charming Ross Barnett and his namesake Reservoir.  I doubt the majority of people who go have any clue just how nasty a creature that man was, or how hateful the atmosphere had to be that he would be honored rather than condemned.
  • Which leads me to a completely unrelated aside.  A man was given a “natural life” sentence and sent to Angola Prison in 1961.  He and another prisoner spoke eloquently of life in prison with no hope of ever leaving , telling how the lifer’s view of the world is so narrow, brought about only by what they see and hear on television and the radio. That IS the real world to them.  This man said that he watched the Crosby [sic] Show and could not make sense of it at all. The prisoner is a black man and when he went to prison a black man could not even ride in the front of a bus.  He cannot wrap his mind around the idea of going to anywhere he wants and being let in, much less served. That year, 1961, was the year he quit growing.  He is stuck there and it is tragic.

So, that’s about it for me tonight folks. I am hitting the sack and praying it doesn’t hit back.

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