Category Archives: humor

Because I Am That Person

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Most of us have one…

 

“You showed up in a dream last night and I wanted to check in and see if everything is all right…”

“Are you nervous about this appointment?”

“Let me know when you get back home safely.”

“I’ll be here for you in the morning before they take you back for the procedure.”

In the past few weeks I have uttered all these phrases, some more than once, to various friends or family members.  I can’t seem to help myself.  I am That Person.

Everyone has That Person in their lives, the one who asks if you have a jacket because it’s supposed to turn cold later on, who holds your hand when you’re sick, who makes friends with your dog…and everyone else’s.  When you are experiencing heartache, challenges, a loss or a life change, That Person will gift you with marbles, to remind you that you haven’t lost yours.

 

That Person genuinely cares about you, your life, your family.  She (or he in some cases) has a true heart, one as strong and sweet as Southern iced tea.  And it brings great joy to That Person when he or she is able to offer you care and compassion.

Sometimes people don’t know what to do with her, or about her.  And that’s OK.  She doesn’t care for you in order to be cared for in return.  She does it because she doesn’t know any other way to be.

So, if you have That Person in your circle, accept the care she offers in the spirit in which it is intended.  Be honest with him when he asks how you are, because he really wants to know.  At some point you may end up becoming That Person for someone else.

 

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How To Make Hot Tamales

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It’s not about the recipe…

 

Making hot tamales is a process

First, you gather in a loved one’s kitchen

and find the well-worn recipe

Stir up the cornmeal, shortening and hot water

while you laugh about how

the generation before you used to

perform this same ritual

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Next it’s time

to roll the meat for the filling

and laugh some more

because somebody thought

the meat logs were funny

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Then comes the assembly line

of putting the cornmeal mixture

onto the tamale wrapper

sticking the meat log inside

and wrapping it all up

repeating until we’re done

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We congratulate each other

saying “these look like

they turnt out right” and

laughing about how

someone ended up with

cornmeal in her hair

Then it’s time to

boil them all up and

smother them in the chili

that’s been patiently waiting

And savor this

Belly-and-Soul-warming meal

seasoned with

Laughter

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Dream A Little Dream

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A little music, a big memory and a whole lot of Mama…

This past weekend a bunch of my kinfolks got together for a reunion in Gatlinburg, TN, an event I had looked forward to for quite a while.  It was a branch of the family tree on Mama’s side, the Williamses, namely Mama’s big brother, my Uncle Otto and his wife, my Aunt Katherine’s, kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.  These are some of my favorite people on the planet, folks I don’t see nearly often enough.  I also saw some younger cousins, all grown up now, whom I had not seen since they were little, and some I’d never met yet.

Before I had even made it into the pavilion I found myself wrapped in a warm, loving hug from my cousin Stacy.

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She and I have been in touch on social media (one of the blessings of technology!) but have not seen each other face-to-face since the late 1980’s.  What a joy to see that sweet face again and enjoy a brief moment to catch up a little.  Second hug of the day was from her daughter, my cousin Danielle.  I’ve also been in touch with her online, but we had never actually met until that moment.  The musical genes in the Williams side of the family have passed on to Dani in a big way, and I was able to share a little bit of family musical history and heritage with her as we talked.

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Soft breezes blew through the shaded pavilion as my cousin Hazen asked the blessing over our meal and time together, adding special prayers for Aunt Helen as she deals with ongoing health issues.  I breathed a prayer as well for Dean, her husband, that he will remember to take care of himself as he tries to take care of her.  Seeing and hugging her was a special joy, as it always is.  She and Mama were so close, and when I hug her, I can almost feel Mama hugging me back as Aunt Helen does.

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I felt Mama with us all through the day, as we shared food and pictures and stories.  Aunt Helen’s kids, Lisa and Mike, were the kids out of the bunch I spent the most time with growing up.  And they were there, with Lisa’s husband Tim, who is a recent addition to the family and fits right in.  Mike’s wife Jane never changes, still glowing wth a headful of red hair and a huge smile.  All Mike and Jane’s kids were there, Aunt Helen’s grandchildren, and a huge light in her life.

As we shared food and stories and pictures, I felt Mama all around me, and I saw glimpses of her…in my cousin Robin “volunteering” to get up and sing, something Mama used to do…in the adult recreations of childhood photographs and the howls of laughter that resulted…

…in talking with Hazen about how active “my dead people” are in my dreams…

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…in the photo of me and my closest-in-age cousins performing a “family breast exam” (Mama and Uncle Otto are in Heaven laughing their heads off at that, while Aunt Katherine is telling us to “Be refined!”)…

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Family is not always dignified.  But that’s usually when it’s the most fun.

Unbeknownst to most of the family, Dani and I had cooked up a surprise to share, and after the meal was done, we offered them a little song, “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”.  Making music with a cousin I’d just met for the first time was both a joy and an honor, and I hope it’s only the first of many more times we can do it.  My beloved Sweet Pea captured the moment with his phone, and I am so grateful that he did!

All through the day I felt Mama there with us, along with all the others on the Williams side who have gone to Heaven and wait for us there.  The last verse of the song we shared says:

“Sweet dream till sunbeams find you,

Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you,

But in your dreams whatever they be,

Dream a little dream of me.”

I dream little dreams of them all the time, waiting for the day we are all together once more, with God and one another, all the generations of our family making music together. All worries behind us.  What wonderful dreams!

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Not Just Goofball Funny

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Thirty years and counting…

Yesterday was a special occasion as Sweet Pea and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  I remarked on social media that when my parents had their 30th anniversary, they seemed like such…ADULTS.  And they did.

I have rarely felt like an adult during the course of our marriage, and I mean that in a positive way.  Jeff, my wonderful husband, has the best sense of humor of any human I’ve ever met, so that has made our time together way more fun than I think most people are blessed to enjoy.  I remember once, when Jeff and I had been going out for a few months, coming home from a date and sitting down with Mama in the living room for a glass of tea.  Jeff had spent a decent amount of time with my family by this point, and Mama said, “You seem to laugh a lot with him.”

She was right, of course.  But it took her saying it to make me realize how different being with him was from the other fellows I had dated.  I had only had a couple of “boyfriends” prior to Jeff, and those relationships were not marked by laughter as much as by angst, jealousy and my need to assert my freedom as they tried to assert their control over me.  This thing with Jeff…this was definitely different.  Laughing with him led to loving him, a kind of love I never imagined and still marvel over.

Even after 30 years of marriage and 4 years of dating/engagement prior to that, Jeff can still explode with some kind of off-the-wall remark that makes me laugh so hard I cry, or pee my pants, or both.  And since he is the funniest human I’ve ever met, it gives me a special kind of joy when I can make HIM laugh.  Has our life together always been a barrel of monkeys?  Of course not.  Have we dealt with issues, tragedies, losses, illnesses and all the other not-fun stuff life is made of?  Definitely.  Has our ability to laugh made the not-fun stuff a little more bearable?  YES.

I know I come with a lot of baggage and I am no picnic to live with.  I can be stubborn, overly emotional, petty and selfish.  Sweet Pea has his hands pretty full with me.

Here’s the thing.  A good sense of humor speaks to all the other qualities that make my husband special and wonderful.  I think–and this is just me, I realize—that someone who’s genuinely funny also possesses strength, intelligence, compassion, generosity and warmth.  I think those qualities are prerequisites for real wit, real funny-ness.  Not just goofball funny, but loving-smart-strong-warm-funny.  I give thanks for a partner who embodies such attributes.

And as we begin another year of life together, I pray that I can be for him a fraction of the wonderful things he is for me…smart, strong and warm. Loving and kind and generous.  And not just Goofball Funny.

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June 21, 1986.

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June 21, 2016.

 

Best Friends

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Too many kinds to count…

This week many people observed National Best Friends Day.  I think it’s a nice idea to recognize the value of friendship and to appreciate the people who add such richness to our lives.  It got me thinking about the many “best friends” I have enjoyed over the years…and why I can’t really say that I have ONE best friend.

There were the earliest friendships I enjoyed with my brother and cousins, before school started and we met all those other kids in our age group.  Even though I am not as closely in touch with my cousins as I’d like to be, they are in my heart always, and I would give any of them anything I could offer if they were in need and I could help.  We share memories, blood and decades of love.

Then came the school friends, those people outside my family circle, the ones I met and learned how much we had in common.  Those moments of discovering that we liked or disliked the same foods, or shared a favorite song or hobby, were the youthful foundations upon which some of my longest-time friendships were built.  I am still in touch with some of my grade-and-high-school friends on social media, and seeing how their lives have progressed to this point is both fun and rewarding.

The church and college friends began my deepest connections, ties that bind us across years and miles to this day.  My college graduating class has a milestone reunion coming up this fall at homecoming, and I look forward to seeing many of my classmates there to reminisce about our times in the dorm and the music building.  My roommates especially helped me bridge the transition between living at home with my parents and making a new home with my husband.  I crave in my heart to see Janet and Dana, and soon.  It has been WAY too long since the three of us have been together.

These days I am still making college friends through my connections as the Chapter Mother for Alpha Gamma Chapter of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity at Carson-Newman University.  Getting to know these young student musicians and to encourage them has been my joy for almost 10 years now, and I hope to continue in this capacity for many years to come.  My musician friends come in all ages, shapes and sizes, with specialties ranging from voice and instruments to conducting and composing.  These friendships help me to continue growing as a musician and as a human.

I’m grateful that almost every job I’ve held has yielded one or two lasting friendships as well, and since I’ve worked in predominantly male environments, I refer to some of these fellows as my “work husbands”.  At my first TV job, there was only one other woman in my department, a top-notch board operator named Linda.  We referred to ourselves as The Gyno Mafia!  I have a dream team of current and former coworkers I would surround myself with if I ever had the chance to build my own company.  The combination of professional excellence and wacky humor makes work a lot more fun, and shared goals (and grievances!)  give us much to share.

So many other “best friends” come to mind.  Mama and The Aunts who wait for me in Heaven.  My precious husband, who, after nearly 30 years of marriage, is still my favorite person to spend time with.  And our beloved, goofy dogs, Ernie The Wonder Beagle (in Heaven) and Our Boy Roy, who has been part of our family for almost 9 years now.

So, who is my “best friend”, really?  They all are!  And if I spent the rest of my life counting the reasons I love them, I would never finish.

 

A Blind Date

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But not the way you might think…

Some of the dates in my life, or in my family or friends’ lives, are significant for different reasons.  Mama’s birthday on Independence Day, Aunt Martha’s on Cinco de Mayo, Uncle John Bryant’s on Leap Day, all seem to speak to their personality traits and characters.  My friend Paula has had numerous strange and sad events to occur on March 17 in different years.  Over the years some of my Delta Omicron students’ recitals have been on memorable dates as well, such as Friday the 13th, or Halloween.  This year one of those recitals happens tomorrow, and this student will always remember her Senior Recital date.  April Fool’s Day.

April Fool’s Day has significance for me as well, as it is the grant date stamped on my FCC permit.  Back in the Stone Age when I began my career in broadcasting and media, a person had to apply for a permit from the Federal Communications Commission in order to operate a transmitter at a radio or TV station.  Those permits had to be posted in a central location in the station.  The last place mine was posted, it was taped into a binder, and when I removed it, the tape ripped off part of the text on the back side outlining the rules and regulations, and what it was illegal for me as an operator to do on the air with our signal.

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I’ve joked over the years that my April Fool’s FCC permit grant date foretold what my career would hold in store!  The fact is, I had no idea about the journey upon which I was about to embark.  I was flying blind.  I had not gone to school to prepare for a career in radio and television, so I graduated from the “earn-as-you-learn” school of radio on my first job.  And for years, because I hadn’t studied broadcasting in school, I felt like a fraud and secretly feared that the Media Police would eventually discover me and throw me out of the business!

It turns out that my career in broadcasting has yielded me some of my most lasting friendships, taught me valuable skills and spanned nearly 3 decades.  From my first radio job where I played actual vinyl records and my first TV master control position using an antiquated commercial tape sequencer called Digitrol (a nightmare machine with a 9-second pre-roll!), I have seen old technologies fade away and new ones emerge.  Radio and television also seem to attract creative types.  I’ve worked with more writers, poets, artists and musicians than I ever dreamed possible outside of the professional music and art world.

I always tell the young people I work with through Delta Omicron to “have a plan, but be open to surprise”.  Over the years I’ve learned that God takes us where He does, when He does, for a reason.  Had I not been open to surprise—to flying blind—I would have missed my whole career and all the blessings it has brought me.  I am still very actively involved with music and pray that I always will be, as long as God gives me opportunities to serve Him in that way.  But my profession has been elsewhere, at least to this point.  And God has given me chances to serve there as well.  So it’s all good.  I’m still in many ways flying blind…and still very much open to surprise.

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Proverbs 3:5-6 gives wonderful advice.  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.”  WhereEVER those paths lead.

 

The Queen Of The Snot People

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Springtime in East Tennessee and the glorious paradox…

The Dogwood Trail signs have gone up in Knoxville in anticipation of the Dogwood Arts Festival and the beautiful springtime blossoms that are on the way.  The Bradford Pear trees are already blooming.  If sneezes had a face, the Bradford Pear would probably be it.  The temperatures are moderating, and after the crazy winter we endured during February, the change of season is a welcome one.  But spring does bring its own set of seasonal allergy symptoms.

I’ve suffered with hay fever for decades, as many East Tennesseans do, and different seasons with their various kinds of plant life will cause different symptoms.  Eyes that itch/sting/water, sneezing, drippy/stuffy noses, headaches, fatigue, coughing, congestion…and crankiness.  Even the dog has allergy symptoms in the spring and fall.  We do what we can to keep on top of his sneezing and itching with medication.

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As a singer, I try to stay on top of my allergies as well, because the mixed multitudes of mucus that happen make a difference in how my voice feels and sounds.  It is a constant balancing act of antihistamines, decongestants, hydration and prayer!  Years ago, I went to my family doctor, affectionately known as Dr. Awesome, for yet another sinus infection and he came into the exam room and asked how I was doing and why I had come to see him.  I replied, “I am The Queen of the Snot People!”  He roared with laughter, checked my ears, nose and throat, gave me prescriptions and said he loved how I described my symptoms.  (I figure I might as well keep a sense of humor, especially at the doctor’s office, because usually that’s the only thing I can control there—modesty and dignity usually fly out the door!)

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Here’s the thing, the glorious paradox.  As snotty as I am this time of year, it’s worth it to be able to enjoy the incredible beauty of God’s creation.  The winter is giving way to spring’s vibrant color in flowers, grass, trees, and the returning birds and bees.  My senses can rejoice in the glory of nature all around me, in sight, sound and scent.  How blessed I am to have the chance to take in such great majesty in even the tiniest of these miracles.

Gracious Lord, thank You for the loveliness of Your creation.  And thank You for each sneeze reminding me that my immune system works!  Forgive me when I complain and keep me mindful of the beauty all around me.

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