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Month: January 2017

Is my neck a little red?

With all the hoopla over cultural sensitivity lately, one very distinct cultural group is being left completely left out of this quest for better understanding and empathy – the Redneck.

 

Now, wait. Before you think this is just another comedy tour, it isn’t. I’ll leave that to the pros. This is a very serious, high-minded cultural discussion that actually started this fall at a gas station in the deepest woods of Maine.

 

My husband, foggy of mind thanks to some cold medicine he had taken, thought he could make it to Fort Kent and back on a few drops of gas. By the time he finished his job and headed south, a little light came on. (No, not the one in his brain. Well, sort of, but you know what I mean.) His own version of hunting season was officially open.

He was officially on the hunt for some Unleaded No. 2. For someone from away, it sounds simple. But on some sections of Route Eleven it’s easier to find a moose than a gallon of high test. Thankfully, though, his tank of gassy fumes held out and he rolled into a convenience store in the nick of time.

 

“I felt really out of place, though,” he confessed with a sheepish grin over lunch one day. “Everybody was looking at me. They were all dressed in hunter orange and here I am in my shirt and tie.”

 

“Of course they were looking at you,” I laughed. “They probably wanted to ask you who you were, where you were from and who your parents are and who your grandparents are.”

That’s when it hit me.

 

He might have felt awkward, but of all the out-of-the-way gas stations in the world, I say a backwoods store is one of the safest bets when you need a hand.

But I say small towners have more to offer than just another punch line.

 

 

They’ve learned how to laugh it off.

They’re OK with all the laughing. Most of the time, they join in. They’re not super sensitive. They don’t buy into the 2017 line that says you have to be so hyper when someone steps on your toes. (Do Rednecks ever get hyper? Well, maybe about hunting season, I guess.)

Basically, don’t take yourself too seriously.

 

They care about people around them.

Most people call it getting off your phone and actually talking to people. But up here in the boonies where people still actually talk anyway, the conversation goes to a whole different level. New people can be spooked by it, but I promise, it’s perfectly harmless. The gist of it is: they’ll make polite conversation, but eventually small towners, especially older ones, will want to know how you found our little berg, who you’re related to here and it wouldn’t be uncommon for them to ask you to trace your local family tree back several branches, just to prove your pedigree. Trust me. It’s not mean-spirited. But there’s nothing small towners love better than getting the scoop on the who’s living and working around them.

The moral of this story is: talk to the people around you.

 

They’ve embraced their weirdness.

I know you’re supposed to call it quirky or special and that’s all good. But whatever you call it, don’t let it distract from the point: rednecks seem to have their own special brand of weirdness. (I mean, how else is the mullet still alive?) And they’ve figured out how to march to beat of their own drum no matter what anyone else says. It’s a lesson more than one person is still trying to figure out.

Whatever your makes you you, enjoy the happy it brings you.

 

On the surface, the whole Redneck story might sound like an ad for noisy trucks and bad hair, but just underneath, it’s learning how to not take yourself too seriously, care about each other and stay just a little bit crazy.

 

Is my neck a little red? I hope so.

Waking up to change

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit now.

But the night before, I wasted a lot of time. I stayed up late and ate junk food and watched re-runs of Tori Spelling’s reality show.

And eventually, I went to bed.

I don’t remember much about the next morning, but it was a morning that changed a lot for me.

   Want to read the rest of the story? Check it out here on Living the Diagnosis, a great site with all sorts of personal stories on different medical conditions and what it’s like to live with them.

Web-Epilepsy

So nice to meet you, Motherhood

Introductions can be awkward, but ours was downright painful.

In fact, let’s just be brutally honest here:

I still have moments where I wonder if we’re really cut out for each other.

I mean, she makes me so nervous and I’m never quite sure how to take her. Our first meeting was so rough, but bonding time over Double Stuf Oreos has helped.

After two days of labor, an inaugural visit to the operating room and minus almost every scrap of dignity I had accumulated in my 29 years —

Motherhood and I met — face to face.

Oh, sure, we’d had a passing acquaintance before this.

I’d played with baby dolls and babysat, but that was child’s play compared to the first all-nighter, get-to-know-you session Motherhood and I had. Those first few nights took away my ability to make coherent conversation and left behind a smattering of second thoughts.

No one really warned me about how pushy she could be — how she could sucker punch you with guilt one minute and make you feel so indispensable the next. She can make desperation dodge every step some days and doubt hover always.

Why does she seem like such good friends with everyone else who knows her?

Now, a few more years in, we’re not always best buds. I mean, some days are better than others. She points out my extensive list of shortcomings at least every other second and she makes mortality seem so much more real.

But for all that, there’s the reward.

MotherhoodThose baby kisses and dimpled grins. Oh, brother. There is a small matter of never being able to use the bathroom alone, but there’s also the magic of watching life grow and getting to cheer for all the good.

Motherhood has inspired a fabulous love for coffee and quiet and sleep. And my heart’s a goner when I hear those whispers in my ear: “Mom, I love you and I like you a lot.” Motherhood has taught me so much about endurance, joy, fear, treaty negotiations and love.

For all its ups and downs, Motherhood reminds me a little bit of those games of kick ball we played in third grade.

It’s an honor just to be on the team.