Anyway! Hello from the land of ‘Unemployment.’ Wanna know something? It’s sunny here. Seriously! The stores are open, the roads aren’t crowded, and at this very moment I’m just sitting here listening to the birds singing outside on the feeder. It’s beautiful.
I HATE IT!
Sure, there are some perks…like having enough free time to watch the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Edition back to back to back on my Dad’s gigantic flat screen television…but still! There is only so much unstructured time I can handle before I start to crack! Thanks the Gods I have friends to keep me sane and entertained or I’m sure that I would be sitting in a corner curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth muttering to myself by now.
Way up in the hills of north Georgia sits the tiny town of Dahlonega. Back in 1829 gold was discovered there…making this tiny town the sight of the first north American gold rush. There also happens to be a college in this tiny mountain town…where all of my dearest friends and I matriculated.
We love Dahlonega. It holds a special place in our hearts. It is our center, our Mecca if you will.
And every October the town holds an event called ‘Gold Rush.’
And like the over-educated sheep we are, we have to attend. See that Julie? A sheep joke just for you!
Saturday morning found myself, the H.O.P.S.F, the sister of the H.O.P.S.F., and Just Julie headed north to partake in the sights and sounds of this year’s festival. We forked out $10 to park in the fancy new parking garage on campus and hiked toward the square.
This little guy was helping raise money for the local animal shelter.
A Native American flute player.
Tons of people.
The H.O.P.S.F. and her sister were comparing photos while we waited for our table at The Crimson Moon. Robert joined us for lunch and wandered around with us for the rest of the day. He’ll turn up in a picture or two later…
More wandering and shopping after lunch.
Robert. See! I told you he’d turn up…
The courthouse in the center of the square.
It’s Jesus! And who knew that he was a well quaffed metro-sexual…complete with ‘beard glitter.’ Blessing the crowd…
We think this was supposed to be a gold prospector…but we were a little too distracted by the beard to be sure…
The H.O.P.S.F. has been in the market for a cute new purse for a while now. She finally found on she was happy with and decided to get her first initial monogrammed onto the bag. So here is her new purse getting loaded into the embroidery machine.
And here she is, looking a little over excited.
Waiting on her bag.
Fair Hair. We tried our best to convince the H.O.P.S.F.’s sister that she just HAD to have Fair Hair. But she said no.
Hi Carl! Robert’s on the phone with you in this picture. You totally should have been there.
We decided to wander the campus for a few minutes while we were there. This was Stewart Library. I spent hours and hours here doing research out of those musty outdate things that no one uses any more…you know…BOOKS.
Yeah, turned out that mold problem they had in the basement was worse then they realized. The entire history collection had to be destroyed and replaced. I didn’t get a picture of the new library because I just didn’t feel like walking that far.
This is the new Health and Wellness Center…a.k.a. the gym. It’s a lovely building. It’s an expensive building. It sits atop the new parking garage. You know…the one they replaced the old parking lot with. $8 million dollars later and they got a total of 7 extra parking spaces.
I’m doing whatever I can to attract some good Karma at the moment…like letting people cut in front of me in traffic and not calling them really nasty names for it, and standing in line at the post office patiently while I do my best to be understanding about the fact that it clearly isn’t your fault that you have forgotten your uncle’s address in Russia and don’t understand why the lady behind the counter can’t just look it up in her computer for you, and quietly waiting as you sit staring at the green light as thought pondering the point of its very existence instead of just honking at you like a normal, non-karmically challenged, gainfully employed person would.
Well kids, today is my last day here at the factory. I have turning in my parking pass, said good bye to my favorite security guard and once I’m done with the last few pages of ‘this is how you do my job’ notes I’ll be all done.
Am I bummed? Yes.
Am I worried? Yes.
Do I have another job lined up? No.
Does that bother me? You bet your ass.
But, at the moment there really isn’t anything I can do to remedy the situation. So…I’ll just keep typing until I’m finished and at the end of the day I’ll go home.
I’ll do my best Scarlett O’Hara impression…I won’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow.
But here’s something I can think about today…
Almost from day one on this job I’ve had a sibling-like relationship with the CFO. He’s that annoying older brother I’m glad I never had and I’m the smart mouthed little sister who is already ready with the one line come back.
And every time he leaves for lunch I call out something along the lines of “Hey! Bring me a chocolate milkshake!” And he laughs and says “NO!!!” That’s how things work around here.
So yesterday I get back to work after lunch and he wanders over to my desk and hands me this:
A chocolate milkshake.
And I admit…it made me a little teary-eyed.
And today when I got back from lunch he wandered over to my desk and handed me this:
Another chocolate milkshake!
And again…it made me a little sad…but in a good way.
And this morning one of my co-workers brought me these:
She said that she remembered that daisies are my favorite flower and wanted to give me something to remember her by. How nice is that?
Here you can see that the Interloping Midget has found a comfortable new hiding place from which to survey his kingdom. And for those of you playing along at home, yes that is my closet and no, I wasn’t thrilled about it.
And here you see Thing Two, comfortably ensconced in my recently emptied laundry basket. He sniffed it, jumped in, sat down and started to purr loudly. And for those of you playing the ‘Blissfully Unaware’ drinking game…Cats Are Weird!
Saturday, in addition to being my birthday, was the second day of my hometown’s annual fall festival. All the roads leading in and out of ‘The Square’ are closed for the weekend and vendors and artisans set up stalls and tents. There is live music and enough food to keep several small countries comfortably overweight for several years.
I love it. I attend every year. And to make things even more interest…this festival is as old as I am. The idea of a ‘harvest festival’ was actually proposed by the president of the bank my mother works for and my mother had actually spent part of that long ago Wednesday afternoon helping to sell pumpkins and squash and baked good from a stand in front of the bank’s main branch before going into labor that night. This means that around the bank I have been lovingly referred to as ‘The Corn Tassel’ baby (the festival’s original name) for most of my life.
Anyway! On Saturday the H.O.P.S.F., the GeorgiaTechDiva (my cousin), and I wandered the square, taking in the sights and sounds and smells of the festival. We saw homemade quilts and home canned foods, hand made toys and oversized gemstone jewelry. We watched a blacksmith demonstration, saw several burning rocks, and tried our best not to laugh at the people who were wandering around with ‘Fair Hair.’ We also stuffed ourselves with funnel cake, snow cones, and cotton candy.
GTDiva pointed out a free standing climbing wall on one side of the square and mentioned that she was determined to have a go. It just so happened that as we wandered past the line was suddenly non-existent…so GTDiva bought her ticket.
The H.O.P.S.F. and I, being almost equal in our level of ‘chicken,’ decided that instead of joining her we would instead chronicle her assent. So while she waited we hopped up onto the nearest curb and pulled out our cameras.
Here you see GTDiva getting felt up by the attendant. KIDDING! He’s helping her into her safety harness.
And advising her to remove her shoes for better grip.
Waiting for her turn.
ONWARD, HEARTY ADVENTURER!!!
She did well for a first attempt at the sport…she made it about six inches off the ground before she fell off the wall. So the attendant offered a hand.
And up she goes!
And here she is about half way up the wall…about three seconds before she fell off again.
But it was a good effort (the H.O.P.S.F. and I clapped) and it seemed to leave her very determined to improve. I advised her to work on strengthening her upper body as it would help her pull herself up the wall. And I have a feeling that if this particular attraction returns next year she will indeed try it again.
…but in terms of maturity I’m not a day over twelve.
So…tomorrow is my birthday. Now, it’s isn’t an ‘impressive’ birthday, it isn’t an ‘important’ birthday or a ‘milestone’ birthday…it’s just a birthday. Not much is planned by way of a ‘party’ because in my entire life I’ve had exactly one ‘birthday party’ and that was a bit of a flop. No, this will just be another in a long line of Diva birthday dinners with family and a few close friends. See? Nothing flashy or worth writing home about.
With the impending arrival of yet another birthday I can’t help but look back at the more memorable ways in which ‘my day’ has been marked over the years. I’m going to share with you now so brace yourselves. Oh…and none of these are good memories…
Let’s see…well, as I’ve mentioned several times on this blog I had my tonsils removed on my fifth birthday. My mother refuses to believe me when I tell her that I remember this event…but I do. It involved me refusing to go into surgery without my Strawberry Shortcake underpants…and being chased through the hospital by several nurses when I learned that I was going to have to get a shot. Ah…memories.
My sixth birthday was overshadowed by the death of my paternal grandmother. I don’t remember the drive to Pittsburgh on this particular instance but I do remember thinking that it was weird being there in the fall. I remember sitting in an empty room at the funeral home with my cousins and the group of us just staring at each other. I remember being bundled into a coat and standing on the sidewalk with them while my Uncle Ron smoked a cigarette. I remember sitting on my Aunt Edith’s couch and staring at the wall while everyone else went to the funeral...an activity I was deemed too young for.
I remember the drive back home…because my father was in a mild catatonic state and hadn’t spoken for three days. We drove home on my birthday…spent all that long day in a silent car making our way back down the eastern seaboard. It was late when we got back…the drive had taken almost fifteen hours. My mother was tired from driving but we had to stop and pick up milk and bread for the next day. We got home and I got into pajamas. I remember sitting on the living room floor and watching Johnny Carson’s opening monologue for the first time in my life.
My parents came out of the kitchen carrying a small plate and glass of milk. There was a single pink birthday candle stuck into the doughnut. They sang and for the first time that day I was told ‘happy birthday.’ My mother handed me a single present, a Barbie.
To this day I am not bitter about this. I seemed to understand somehow, even at that age, that a little thing like a birthday was unimportant in the face of something as large and strange as death. It has never bothered me that I was an afterthought that day. I’m astonished they remembered at all.
My thirteenth birthday was also overshadowed by death. My birthday fell on a Sunday that year and as a ‘treat’ the entire youth group was allowed to skip the service and stay downstairs so we could talk and ‘hang out.’ We had a good time. We laughed and smiled and joked.
At home after church my father reprimanded me for staying downstairs. Had I been upstairs, he declared, I would have heard that Ms. Francis, a beloved elderly member of the congregation and a person I loved very much, had died that morning. I promptly burst into tears and ran to my bedroom where I spent the rest of the day crying.
I was vaguely aware of my mother yelling at my father. “I wasn’t going to tell her that today, Fred!” “Well, why the hell not?” “Because it’s her BIRTHDAY.” “Oh….”
I refused dinner that night and stayed in my room with my door locked. That year’s presents stayed un-opened on the kitchen table for two weeks before my mother piled them up and carried them into my bedroom…where they stayed un-opened until Christmas, at which time I took them to my mother and told her to rewrap them and give them to charity.
To this day my father refuses to be the one to tell me bad news.
My cousin ‘Bob’ had the audacity to be born exactly a week before my seventh birthday and it had become a sort of tradition that we celebrated together…a practice I was fine with until I hit sixteen. (I don’t hold it against him but it got old after a few years.)
I looked forward to my sixteenth birthday more than any other. I had spent almost a year dropping hints that I wanted a surprise party with all the trimmings. I was eager to the point of beside myself! I was hopeful and excited and twitchy.
ANYWAY! The morning of my sixteenth birthday I was informed by my mother that we would be heading to the other end of the county to celebrate ‘Bob’s’ birthday…which confused me because his birthday was the previous week. But then I thought “AH HA!! They must have something in the works!!”
At no point during the day did either of my parents wish me a happy birthday…and by that evening I was a little miffed. We climbed in the car and drove to my aunt and uncle’s house. The place was decorated with birthday banners and streamers and balloons and sitting in the middle of the table was a large sheet cake decorated with dinosaurs…bearing the message “Happy Birthday, ‘Bob.’”
I was understandably unhappy.
Now, at some point…unknown to me until several years later, Bob’s older sister had wandered through, taken a look at the cake and said something to her mother along the lines of “Why are we celebrating his birthday? It was last week. Today is Kristine’s birthday.” At which point my aunt’s brain apparently went: “OH SHIT!”
When it came time for cake and ice cream and presents the entire family gathered around the table and I noticed, at the same time my mother did, that my aunt had pulled out a tube of green gel icing and squeezed the words ‘and Kristine’ underneath my cousin’s name. My mother commented on this…something to the extent of ‘but her birthday isn’t until the eleventh,” and something inside me just snapped.
“Today IS the eleventh.” I turned an icy stare at my mother. I heard my father and my uncle groan, my mother’s eyes went wide and my aunt just dropped her gaze to the floor. “TODAY IS MY SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY,” I screamed to the room at large. “AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU FORGOT!”
I then picked up the dinosaur covered sheet cake and threw it across my aunt’s kitchen. It hit the far wall with a sticky squish and left a long smear of green icing as it slid toward the floor. I stormed out of the house, slamming the front door so hard that a pane of glass fell out of it and shattered on the tile.
My parents made a very valiant attempt to make this up to me the following weekend. They offered dinner and several very expensive presents, all of which I turned down with what had become my standard response, “I’m your only child and you forgot my birthday.”
We do not speak of this incident.
My freshman year of college was not a good one. I was miserable and lonely and was very sick for a large portion of the spring semester. It didn’t help that my roommates and I didn’t really get along.
My (nineteenth) birthday fell on a Sunday that year and I was hoping that if nothing else I would at least get dinner in a nice restaurant. That morning the folks went to church and I slept in. They came home and I suggested we go have lunch out. Mom said no and I was handed a bowl and spoon and shown where the cereal lived. By late afternoon it was time for Mom to drive me back up to the college so I suggested dinner out. Mom sighed and rolled her eyes and said that she had enough to do with still having to take me to Wal-Mart for groceries. I could only stare at her and my father…because once again they had forgotten my birthday.
We drove up to Dahlonega, I was given exactly fifteen minutes to spend in Wal-Mart, and then we headed over to the campus. We entered the building through a side door and trudged up the stairs. My room was directly across the hall from the stairwell and upon opening the fire door I saw that my hall-mates had been hard at work.
There was a large banner above the door with ‘Happy Birthday, Kristine’ on it, a wreath of birthday cards taped up around the white board which was covered in greetings and sitting on my bed was a box of cupcakes and a present from my roommate. I carried my overnight bag and groceries in and set them down on my bed and turned to look at my mother who was standing in the hall staring at the banner over the door. She looked at me and said “OH MY GOD today is your birthday.”
I smiled, said “Yes it is, and you forgot…AGAIN,” and shut the door in her face.
Now, don’t think this means that I’ve never had a good birthday, because I have. And for the most part my family is very thoughtful and while there have been other occasions where my birthday has had to take a backseat to other more important things my family has been very good about ‘making it up’ to me. And of course, as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to understand that things sometimes just happen.
But honest to God ya’ll! I’m their only child and they’ve forgotten my birthday SEVERAL times!!!
Oh, and to finish this post off in true DivaFamily fashion…
Last Sunday I was standing in the Kmart electronic section with my father and upon spotting a CD I wanted I pulled it off the rack and mentioned that he could get it for me because it would be a good birthday present.
To which he responded “Birthday? But you’re birthday has already passed!”
To which I replied “No, Dad. My birthday is Saturday.”