Sunday, October 15, 2017

Finally Fall

So it took until the middle of October but Fall is finally in the air here in Orlando. In other words, it's not in the mid nineties every day. Oh it still gets the the upper eighties and once in a while the low nineties but sure feels much cooler.

This is what it was like the end of the first week in October...

Having made it through an entire year living here, quickly decided my favorite season is October to April. In late January you have to wear a sweater about three or four days, then can put it away for another year.

In Georgia, the nineties are still hot in summer but with this brutal Florida sun beating down on you, the nineties feel like a hundred and ten, even in October.

In other news...

In three days I will have been working at my new place for one year, which means I will be eligible for benefits. I'm on the fence about it. I already work five shifts a week and am totally down with that. My airport shifts were much longer and after five shifts always clocked out extremely close to going over forty hours. I work five shifts now which is about twenty five hours a week, perfect for an ole nag like me, especially since I've been working forty hours a week for the past ten years. Forty hours a week as a server feels like an almost sixty hour work week sitting behind a desk. I am constantly moving at a quick pace, never stopping or sitting, carrying heavy trays and dishes and the entire job is physical and extremely strenuous. I used to keep a step counter (pedometer) in my apron and usually walked over three miles per shift.

So to be eligible for insurance for me and Massey, I will have to work an extra shift each week to meet the thirty hour minimum needed.

I don't wanna work an extra shift. I'd lose what little of my mind I have left. Don't get me wrong, I like my job. If I worked every single shift with the dream team of  my favorite co workers, I could do it in a heartbeat, but I don't make the schedule (mine or theirs).

Most of the people I work with are in their twenties, some even in their teens and more than a few simply don't get it yet. They let you do the work because they know you will. They know you will compensate for them standing around talking while you get the shift set up for success. They know you will run their food, get the items their tables ask you for or stop to help their customers when they are looking around like "Where in the hell is my server?"

The thing most younger servers don't realize is that a restaurant either looks 'Good together or bad together'.

It's exhausting to me, especially after almost forty years of serving.

If I have to work that extra shift every week, it might make me hate my job. I'll have insurance for myself and Massey but will be a drain on me.

The entire reason we don't go on Tim's insurance is that it would simply just be too much out of his paycheck, which is our main source of income.

So here's my thinking.

I'll wait and see what the plan at work offers and how much it will cost me. Tim is going to check as well and see what it would cost to add Massey and me to his plan. He has pretty good insurance, with BC/BS. He can't do it until we buy our house in April but April will be here before you know it. If I have to, I'll bite the bullet and work an extra shift every week and go with the insurance at work for six months. Then once we get our loan for the new house, will just take twenty bucks in tips from every shift I work and transfer it to his account to defray the cost of us being on his plan and being deducted from his paycheck.

I'm not a lazy person but am pretty tired of working full time. I worked six days a week for more years than I care to remember. When the kids were little, I worked for the school system for seven years so they could attend the school. I still worked at LongHorn Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights after working days at the school Monday through Friday, so basically  worked seven days a week for seven years.

Not a lot of fun, but it got the job done.

I need to keep reminding myself how very close we are and how very far we have come.

Now I just sound like I am whining, and maybe I am.

Actually I am.

But that's okay too sometimes.

I prefer to think of it as "venting."

That's pretty much what my blog is all about anyway.

Webster's defines vent as "A means of escape or release from confinement; an outlet."

Sometimes, most of the time, pretty much all of the time, I feel better after having expressed my feelings in writing, whether it be on a keyboard or with a pen on paper.

Webster's also defines writing as "Something written, esp. : Meaningful letters or characters that constitute readable matter."

Yep, that's my bag and I dig it.

I wrote a blog recently about my favorite manager at work leaving.

I went into work several days later and she said "Kelly, could you come here for a minute before clocking in?"

I thought I had done something wrong and was "kinda scare't" as we say in the south. I walked over to her when she held out her arms, then tightly hugged me. She told me she blubbered like a baby while reading my blog about her leaving and just wanted me to know how much meeting and working with me has meant to her.

How crazy is that?

She said she just googled my name and my blog popped up. All my managers know I have a blog but certainly never expected one of them to read it, but she did.

As of today I have had over 201,760 views on my blog, from ten different countries.

Here's the thing. Put some positivity out there into the universe. Put your problems, feelings and how you are working to solve them out there too. Put your heart out there, put yourself out there.

I do  want something, I want to be a success at life. I want to help others be a success at life. I simply want the world to realize that love achieves and hate decimates.

For all my whining and your bearing (yes, googled and is the correct term) with me, I thank you all for following my well over half century journey and know is the downhill slide for me.

It's  crunch time, and time to make it count.

When I first met Tim in 1988, he was all into REM, a local band from Athens, Georgia.

Religion is defined as "Belief and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe."

I'll never lose my religion.

Till next time...COTTON

Friday, October 13, 2017

Reckon I Done Okay After All


And now...

They were all three raised in this home that I still miss every day...

It was our modest but wonderful home for over twenty years. We still own it but are renting it to my nephew and his wife. I hope they enjoy it as much as we did, and think they will. They have taken care of and fixed it up, adding their own touches. Now that it is paid off, we should be able to fix it up a bit more for them.

I was never the perfect mother, still am not, but I gave it a pretty good shot. By the way all three of my kids have turned out, reckon I done okay after all.

They were never perfect children either but have given me much more joy than grief and a lifetime of memories...mostly wonderful and a few, maybe not  so wonderful but that's what life is all about.

You live and you learn.

It seems crazy that they are now thirty one, twenty five and twenty two.

Sounds more like my current body measurements!

My three children are by far my greatest accomplishment in life. They all had a great beginning in their young lives and were pretty well spoiled by most standards. Trips to Disney every February and a week at the beach every summer. They got pretty much everything they ever asked for, within reason and in return were actually pretty good kids.

When the financial bottom fell out for us, it fell out fast and hard. In hindsight, it couldn't have happened at a better time in their lives. They were all old enough to realize what was going on and how desperate our situation was.

They also witnessed how many people... family members, friends, and even strangers came to our rescue. They helped pay our bills, they bought us food, they even bought us Christmas trees, Thanksgiving dinners and even Christmas presents for them.

I think those lean years are what made all three of my children realize how important it is to be a good person. While we sailed along for years and years, doing better each and every year, we also paid it forward again and again.

I can't  even count how many families, co workers or even strangers we reached out to help. We bought Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas for kids we sometimes didn't even know. 

Funny story...I had a co worker, years ago who was a complete wreck, living in a motel that looked like a crack house but finally scrounged up enough money to rent an apartment. She didn't have anything but her clothes. I packed up a huge box of pans, utensils, bowls, plates, sheets and towels and even threw in two twin size mattresses I had in the garage that she could stack on top of each other for a bed. I borrowed a truck, picked her up at the 'Motel Sex' and took everything to her new apartment, including her.

Of course she had rented a third floor apartment.

Everything went okay until it was time for the mattresses to go up. I remember going up that flight of steps, me in front when she said to me "You're a strong little cuss, I don't even have my end picked up."

Totally a 'bitch, please' moment.

So here we are now, almost a decade later. We made it, we survived and moving ahead once again. Living thirty minutes from the beach and loving it.

Our kids are loving life too.

TJ has rocked life after moving from Atlanta to Orlando to Charlotte and is an excellent provider for his new family.

Zach stayed in Georgia, which broke my heart, but doing what he's always wanted to do...learn to be a chef. He's the sous chef in a new restaurant and working like crazy. We talk at least once a week but I miss him every day.

And then there's my girl. She came into this world, almost killing us both but is my beacon of light.

I love all my kids, but my boys aren't all about the huggy feely I am. 

Massey's not so huggy feely either but knows how to kick me into gear when I need it.

She is going to be a college graduate in a few short weeks, finishing her degree on line from Georgia.

We couldn't be prouder. 

Us Clampetts are going back to Georgia so she can walk with her class. We'll have a hoe down at my sisters' house after graduation. 

Here's the thing about life. You don't  just raise kids to survive, you raise them to succeed.

My kids are going to do just that!

It don't come easy, never does. But like they said ...

Kinda feel like our financial temporary set back only encouraged and inspired our own three kids to make their mark in this world fast and furious. 

And they have.

It don't come easy, but that is what makes life great. You get what you give.

Every time.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Getting Better All The Time

I remember when we first moved down here. My brother took us out to eat our second night of living in Orlando. I was still sad about leaving my home state of fifty six years. At dinner he said something which has turned out to exactly true.

"People from home tend to visit you a lot when you move to Orlando."

Tonight a dear friend from my LongHorn days and Mama Lucia's days came to eat dinner with my daughter while I was working. We had a great time! Needless to say, my friend took excellent care of me and think they enjoyed it. The great thing about my restaurant is no matter who comes in with Massey, or Tim or even my brother, they all get fifty percent off. There's no limit to how many times a week or month they come in, you still get half price. Great perk!

 I ending up getting off early and we all sat out front by the fire pit talking for an hour.

There's always plenty to talk about when you've worked in the service industry with someone. We laughed, shook our heads and rolled our eyes a lot...a whole lot. There's always that one nut in the bunch. It's what makes me seem normal.

I've been blessed with many visits since moving here.

Love not only moves mountains but makes a heart full. My letter writing has paid off as well. I have heard back from lunch ladies I worked with at my kids' elementary school when I did my stint as a Lunch Lady for three years... hardest job I ever had.

I've written to friends from childhood, and heard back.

I've written to former co workers and former managers. I've written to relatives I haven't seen in decades. I've written to high school and college friends and friends from the church where I grew up.

Most all reply with a feeling of how great it was to get something in the mail besides a bill.

The art of the hand written letter seems to be disappearing in this new age technology.

Thank God for old farts like me.

Most of them call or text me to say they are sorry they haven't written back.

No worries, I don't expect a written response. Writing is totally my thing...and enjoy doing it.

(hence my blogging)

When I logged in to start this post, my blog showed 201,408 views. It's not like I'm a NY Times best seller, but's not bad for someone simply writing from the heart for her own enjoyment.

My thing is to simply reach out, touch, and make a small difference...all the while, doing something I simply love to do.

Tim has slowly accepted my blogging and kind of think he likes it when I ask him for imput now.

Being honest, our marriage came close to crashing and burning, but didn't.

Believe it or not, I was listening when we took our vows, and there were a lot of them.

We've been through better or worse, richer or poorer, luckily health not sickness and haven't killed each other. We've been true to each other and in it for the long run.

Tim has been very gracious as of late. Luckily I got a job when we were broker than broke which carried us over and moved us to Orlando while he started his new fantastic job.

You give and you take.

You preservere.

You take what life hands you and make the most of it. You do your best and hope Karma finds you sooner than later.

We did...and it did.

It's the power of love.

It's being in it to win it.

It's never giving up.

It's letting go of resentments and looking forward to your future.

It's "Life".

You can win at life or you can let life beat you.

I fooled around, till there was you.

Sometimes thought I wouldn't be..but am.

I'm a winner!

Till next time...Cotton

The Married Single Life

In 1990 I bought my wedding dress for sixty bucks from the JC Penney Outlet. I think Tim paid more for his tux rental. I borrowed the hat, shoes, necklace and earrings. I still looked okay back then, but Tim was so handsome. I remember when he took a second job delivering pizza for the restaurant I worked for. The other delivery guy called him, Timberly...he was absolutely that pretty to look at.

Trust me, I had to hold his hand tightly on our honeymoon while we were in San Francisco, before traveling up the coast. He was greatly admired by many women and men.

Our past ten years have made me shrink in size but grow in wrinkles and lines on my face. They turned Tim totally gray and gave him ten extra pounds, but in hindsight seems a small price to pay. I took care of the gray in my own hair with a wonderful thing called highlights done from home with your daughters' assistance.

We're transplanted (formerly Georgian) Foridians now...and seems to suit us both. After an over five year job search he landed his greatest job ever and has knocked it put of the park.

Even better, he travels out of town for work every other week, from Tuesday morning until Friday evening.

When you have had ten years of financial and emotional stress on your thirty year relationship, nothing is better than absence making the heart grow fonder, every other week.

I have my bestie here with me.

She has been my rock and is on the doorstep of making her own mark in this world, graduating from college in early December.

Massey Cotton..."Make the world great again!"

There is nothing better than seeing your children succeed, and my three are doing just that.

They all fought like crazy for over a decade, then suddenly bonded again like they were Gorilla glued together.

When you truly love someone, love sticks.

The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have aprophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, bso as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. cIf I give away all I have, and dif I deliver up my body to be burned,1 but have not love, I gain nothing.

eLove is patient and fkind; love gdoes not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It idoes not insist on its own way; it jis not irritable or resentful;2 it kdoes not rejoice at wrongdoing, but lrejoices with the truth. mLove bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, eendures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For nwe know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but owhen the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For pnow we see in a mirror dimly, but qthen face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as rI have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Our life has been the ride of a life time. We left this home in Georgia after over twenty years, I still miss it every day.

We've started to bloom again where we've now been planted. Who knows what the future holds? No one knows, but do know this...

We have survived, we have conquered and we are able... again!

If I die today, tomorrow or in the next ten seconds... I'll feel okay about it; not that I will have a choice, but feel like I'm a pretty good person and have done a pretty good job as of late.

I was a wreck in my twenties, leveled out in my thirties and plowed ahead in my forties. My fifties have been tough, not gonna lie but totally approaching sixty with a Pay It Forward mentality. (best movie ever)

The thing this world lacks more than anything is compassion.

How can you hate someone for simply being their own self? How can you hate a person for having a different view? How can you hate a person because of their sexuality, religion or color of their skin? How can you hate a person for wanting to come to America, illegally?

Trust me, If I was a Mexican, had kids in Mexico City and thought I could give my kids  a better life here, I'd dig the tunnel myself.

Are we so selfish that we don't want others to live free, have a better life like ours and at least give them the chance to succeed?

Check yourself.

Put yourself in other peoples' shoes.

If they don't fit, go buy a pair to donate.

Just saying...COTTON

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Adulting Is Exhausting

I've been a lax adult lately regarding my car. I was three thousand miles overdue for an oil change, haven't rotated the tires since leaving for Florida last year and was now the proud owner of two front tires with steel belts showing. I was a nervous wreck every time I got on the Toll road to and from work. Bonus points, I also had a rear tire with a formerly slow leak which now needed air twice a day.

Tim told me about a month ago that he would buy me new tires, so who am I to argue (don't say it).

I really didn't mention it again until I started getting nervous about driving my (now) suicide mobile.

He was working out of town all this week, due to leave early Tuesday morning. He told me on Monday morning, his day off, before leaving for golf that he found two tires on sale for sixty bucks and had transferred $150 to my checking account. He wanted me to go have them put on before he left town for the week.

I figured since he paid for it, I was down with going to have them put on. It's not like I'd have to inflate them myself with a bicycle pump or stretch them across the wheels by hand.

I called the place and asked if they had the tires in stock around ten that morning...they did! I told the guy (seemingly not the sharpest tool in the shed) hoping he wouldn't be the one putting them on, that they were ten dollars off on the website.

Here's where the Adulting got hard.

He said to get the discount I had to go online to order the tires. Once they were delivered, he would contact me and I could come in and have them put on.

Wait, what?!

I responded that I thought they had the tires in stock already. He said they did but to get the discount I had to order online.

Okay fine!

I went on the website and ordered the tires. It kept saying I would be prompted at checkout to enter the code for the discount.

Didn't happen, tried for thirty minutes.

It took my credit card info just fine. I thought maybe I had to submit the order before the promotional code would be available.


Charged me full price. Not only that, it prompted me to choose an appointment to have them installed. The first time available was the next day at noon. I was counting on that twenty dollar discount to cover the price of plugging my  leaking back tire...all done before Tim left town.

Wait, what?!  (again)

I called the guy back and told him what had happened.

He said "let me log in to your account and see what's going on here."

After waiting literally for five minutes, he actually said this to me:

"Here's your problem. We can't give your ticket the discounted price because you ordered online and  has already been put into the system for tomorrow at noon. If they come in before noon maybe we can do it them, but can't change the price."

#thirdtime ... Wait, what?!

I told him I ordered online because he told me to. I added that I needed the tires put on that day, and sooner than later. I also told him I could go somewhere else if they didn't want my business, and yes I was nice about it.

Then he told me to give him an hour or so to make some phone calls to a higher up and see if they could help.

My response:

"Maybe I'll make a few calls too and see how high up the chain I get."

Low and behold he called back around one and said he was able to get rid of my online order and now we were all good to go. He'd call me back again when the tires came in and could possibly have them put on that same day.

Wait, what?!

He told me in our first conversation they had the tires in stock.

Whatever, dude.

I decided to go get my oil changed, with my Columbus Day $14.92 discount coupon from the drive through Valvoline place. Coolest, nicest guys in the world and didn't even have to get out of my car. I've sent them all a great review online.

So Goober calls back around two in the afternoon and says the tires are in and can come in whenever I want to have them put on.


I asked if they could do it in two hours, by this point I only had two hours to spare before having to get ready for work.

"Oh sure!"

So now suddenly he's all helpful.

Tim called on his way home from golfing to ask how it went.

My response:

"How much time ya got?"

My cell beeped while talking to him. It was the tire place and  told them I would be there in less than ten minutes.

Tim took me to pick the car up around four thirty.

Slim Shady rang us out. The receipt (not to mention experience) was mind boggling.

How can two tires, for less than sixty one bucks each, with an additional tire plugged for $19.99 end up costing over $206?

Where did that extra $66.33 come from?

I'll have to hand it to Tim. He scrutinized that bill like a scrooge. We knew about fees, valve charges and tire disposal. There's no state tax still seemed kinda high.

Sometimes going cheaper tends to be the evil option. Sometimes you get what you pay for. In hindsight, just should have gone Firestone and got it done right, the first time without all the hassle.

It's been a stressful week, with the world seemingly going to hell in a hand cart. The Las Vegas tragedy, Mexico earthquake, Puerto Rico, California wildfires and the sad comedy of our political system.

I was driving to work today, in my little car with two new tires, another one plugged and a much needed oil change.

I'm all about old school songs and this one came to mind.

For what it's worth.

From decades ago but seems to be speaking to us all today.

Lessons to live by:

Be a good person.
Help another person.
Be respectful to another person.
Accept another person...regardless.
Don't be an ass.

Love is all we need...true fact.

Till next time...COTTON