Friday, October 29, 2010

Some "Me" Time...With 3 Bus Loads of Teens

It's been a long year. We've had more downs than ups but it's the "UPS" that have gotten us through. God, family and friends have urged us on and shown us the way.
Tomorrow is the big end of the year competition at the Ga. Dome for Massey and I am excited to be spending the entire day with Massey and the band.
It was a long hot summer of endless practices and trips to physical therapy for her knee. It was squeezing in trips to the school when I could and many friends squeezing Massey into their car to bring her home from practice when I had to work.
It has been a year of getting to know this Guard and being amazed at the resiliency  teens can show at such an early adult age.
The thing I love about this band program is that even with petty differences and sometimes tremendous drama...when competition time comes, THEY ARE ONE!
I can SO not afford to take Saturday off...but I can so NOT afford to miss this event in my daughter's young life. When I went to last year's BOA I just didn't realize what an event it really was. Last year it was on Halloween...a full moon to boot. Like the idiot I am I decided to ride Marta by myself to the Dome. I hadn't ridden Marta in years and even had to get someone to show me how to buy a ticket. By the time I approached the transfer station to the dome I was terrified. Being alone and not knowing where to go,  I was a nervous wreck when I finally spotted a man wearing an ECHS sweatshirt and hung to him like stink on poop til I arrived at the Dome.

This year I am riding with some neighbors down the street who's daughter is also in the band. I am going to stay and ride back with the band on the bus after finals (around 11PM.)

Having daughters is totally different from having sons. My son's love me...preferably from a distance. Massey loves me as close as she can get me.

Both my boy's say I spoil her and I most probably do. Her room looks like a disaster area and she leaves a trail like bread crumbs everywhere she goes. But I have NEVER had to rag her about her grades or   meet with her principal in one of those humiliating "I really AM a good parent" meetings.

Boys mature at a much slower rate than girls (that's why women make such good wives) and once they think they are "Men" would rather you leave them alone anyway...until they get in deep do-do. Then it's "Hey Mommy, it's me...I need your help."

Massey wants my help on a,,  minute by minute basis. She doesn't mind me being at the school with her (Zach would rather stick needles in his eyes) and we have a very close relationship.

I have missed all of her competitions this year and have only seen one halftime show.

Tomorrow makes up for all of this.

I lost my mother when I was seventeen years old. What it the past repeats itself and I only have two more years?

I try to bond with Zach but we are WAY too much alike. We don't bond...we butt heads.

 Massey is more like her father and I think that is one of the reasons we are so close. Actually she is like her father with a big splash of me thrown in. She is a Cotton Gypsy...fluttering here and there but always being dramatic and metaphorically shaking her tambourine.

I'll be there with her all day tomorrow when she has  meltdowns over missing bobby pins and text's missed. I'll be there when the guard has nervous break down tantrums. I'll be there when they make up and hug and I'll be there when they all tell each other "I love did GREAT."

What's important is that I'll be THERE with my girl and she will be tickled pink that I am . I won't be at work...won't be sending her texts... but sending her looks of love and giving her hugs that she can actually feel.

I wish my boys wanted me around as much as my girl does. I know my boys love me but like to keep their distance for appearances sake...I wish they knew how close I was and how well I can keep a secret.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When Am I Going to Learn I Don't HAVE Normal Days?

I didn't get to sleep until 5AM. Yes it was my fault but I have always been a night owl and knew I only had to struggle through a day shift. It was my scheduled day off  but days off are over rated in my book and I picked up because I am taking off Saturday for Massey's performance at the Georgia Dome in BOA competition.
She had a chorus concert at the Centre for Performing Arts tonight so as soon as I got off  work I had to pick her up from the middle of guard practice on the hot asphalt of the high school parking lot and race her and another guard member over to the centre to change into a floor length gown and try to wipe away as much sweat as they could with their tee shirts. I of course had to go get gas after dropping them off and got back in time to be one of the first ones in to get a seat. As I stood in the lobby of the centre (an extremely nice facility that our tax dollars paid for) I looked around and was amazed at what some people consider  correct attire for a concert at a place called "The Centre For Performing Arts."
A man and his wife stood over to the side in outfits that SCREAMED "We left the slaughter house auction just in the nick of time." I know I shouldn't have, but I had my camera in my lap preparing  for my video taping of the concert and just HAD to take a pic. You know, it was probably their grand kid or niece or nephew singing but it just reminded me what a rural setting I live in when this attire feels okay to mosey on over in to "The Centre" for a concert. Granted it wasn't Les Miserables we were fixing to see but at least button up your shirt...especially if you don't have a wife beater on underneath and are built like Junior Samples.

But you know what? That's country living at it's finest and 'round these parts we don't mind .  (well maybe some of us do but we like the fact that they support the young un's.) I sat on the second row to film my girl and could smell the guard girls from where I sat...I bet that couple I saw in the lobby felt like throwing up a hand and making a bid on the livestock onstage.

The chorus ended with a beautiful arrangement of "America The Beautiful" and I actually teared up while taping  and it made goose bumps on my arms.
So I live in a Po Dunk county. I also live in a great country and I also have a great life. My kids go to a great school and are involved in a school with  teriffic parent support  and a wonderful staff .

Next concert I am waking Tim up and saying "Pull on a tank top, Massey sings in thirty minutes."
I have included the video of them singing "America The Beautiful" and hope it hits your patriotic heartstring like it hit mine.

I also include a shout out pic of the couple that were nice enough to show up. Maybe that's where that "Big Rig" in the parking lot came from...I dunno. But at least we support our kids!

Til next time...COTTON 


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

That's Why I Made a List...

I stopped at the grocery store the other day on the way home from a day shift. I had left a fifty dollar bill on the counter for Tim to go to the store but knew it was still sitting there. Working the graveyard shift is killing him and trying to sleep all day with teen agers coming in and out constantly isn't very conducive  for deep uninterrupted rest.

I tried to remember what I had on the list I left by the fifty dollar bill on the counter. I got most all that I could remember and proceeded to the check out. I had bought some extra items intending to actually cook a dinner for a change. I thought maybe the kids think that the gas on my stove had been cut off and I was forced to only use the microwave and they were trying to be nice  not to mention that they couldn't remember the last time I put on an oven mitt and pulled something to eat out of the oven.

The total was going up quicker than I had anticipated and by the time ten things were left I looked like Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment when she was at the grocery store with her kids. "I don't need this...and can you take this off?"

Fortunately it hadn't deducted my savings from my 'plus card' yet and I was able to get most every thing except cokes for Tim to take to work and my laundry detergent (which is sky high for some unknown reason.)

I got home and started dinner. The kids got all excited when they saw me actually getting out pots and family is so easy to please!

Tim woke up (probably not used to smells drifting up from the kitchen below our bedroom) and I told Massey to go to the store with him to pick up the couple of items I didn't get. Tim wasn't thrilled but Massey was all on board and told her dad to give her a minute to change (going any where is a fashion statement for a 15 year old girl.)

I told them we needed cokes and laundry detergent and that Massey could get some sugar cookies to bake.

I was cooking away (yes I remembered how) when they came back home...lugging in WAY too many bags.

Tim said "Here's seven dollars and some change back." I started to say something (I always am) but just let it go.

We had a nice meal and even our oldest son was there for dinner. Starving 24 year olds out on their own can smell a free dinner a mile away.

TJ made the comment "This is the best meal I have had in a long time."

I said "This is the best meal WE have had in a long time, but thanks."

After dinner Tim made the fatal mistake of saying "We forgot to get laundry detergent so you need to pick some up."

The cork I had mentally stuck in my big fat mouth popped out.

"What do you mean?"

Of course Massey jumped right to her dad's defense. "Well we bought a bag of dog food  and we needed mustard too and they had these yummy stars that I told dad were really good."

I said "Was dog food on the list? If we had been out of dog food (which is also sky high) I would have put it on the list and I bought mustard yesterday, it's sitting right here on the counter...and what are STARS?"

So now we have spare dog food spare mustard and some YUMMY STARS and seven dollars and some change.

Tim knows how to get me from ever sending him to the grocery store again...maybe he's more the thinker than I give hime credit for.

TJ seems to be a thinker as well. There were tons of leftovers so he hung around for two more days until that well ran dry.

After dinner I took my seven dollars and some change and went to get laundry detergent.

One thing I CAN say is that life is anything but dull at our house.

If anyone feels like an Iams sandwich smothered in mustard with a yummy STARS treat for dessert, COME ON BY!

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'll Be Performing TWO Shows Tomorrow...

This is my best profile shot yet!

Actually limped into work five minutes early this morning...I am so used to working lately I just automatically get up and put on a uniform and could drive to the restaurant with my eyes shut.

I only had to work the lunch shift so it gave me something to look forward to..."A Night Off."

Right off the bat it got busy. We have an awesome brunch and word of mouth seems to be spreading. Brunch spilled over into lunch and I made the comment to Barbara if I was going to have to work this hard every Sunday they'd have to pay me more than $2.13 a hour. She told me she  she saw a "Now Hiring" sign at Burger King. Guess that joke didn't work out too well for me...but I had plenty more up my 3/4 length sleeve!

Barbara is quite the spend thrift. She can pinch a penny til it screams. She wastes NOTHING and lets nothing go to WASTE.

She takes home the coffee grounds and tea grounds for her garden.

She keeps two small buckets in the kitchen by the dish area.  She makes every server put bread that customers leave in one bucket and she takes it home to feed all the birds in her yard. In the other bucket we have to leave all seafood and meat scraps for a white fox that visits her back yard and the deer that probably line up behind the fox. She feeds the stray cats that hang out in the back of the parking lot at work. She gets livid if she walks through the kitchen and sees that some careless server has actually thrown garbage in the garbage instead of her "wild life fund" bucket.

Today she rooted out a newspaper thrown carelessly away with the coupon pages untouched.

I made the comment to her that she "Would make a great bag lady." I told her if something ever happened to the restaurant she and Len would be just fine. We'd find her an old grocery cart with a wobbly wheel to push around and she'd be set.

Len was in the office with the door open and said "Kelly,you don't know how much truth there is to what you just said."

Barbara  said "I grew up very father died when I was only 8 and my mother never remarried." I said "She never remarried?" Barbara said "no."  I said "Well you may have been poor but at least your mom was SMART."

That got me a pretty good chuckle from Barb! (not so much from Len)

My comedy routine spilled over into a baby shower I worked with another server in one of our private rooms. It was just a party of 12 and they were all very nice.  We were clearing off the last of the dishes so they could serve the cupcakes when I announced "Okay ladies, the male stripper is finally here and he's wearing a ONESIE ! "
The guest of honor told me after she quit laughing that she thought her water just broke.

 That's right...I'm a good stinkin' server and on top of that you get a free comedy show!

After that show was over and I was preparing to leave the venue (I mean the restaurant) three of us servers were standing at the bar doing our check outs. One of the servers, a cute  girl who is head over heels in love with a really great guy pulled out her cell phone and showed us a picture of her dresser in her bedroom. She said "Look what I came home to last night...three long stemmed roses and a handwritten note for no reason at all."

Of course I knew it was from her fireman/SWAT team boyfriend, Richard but decided to act like it was from the crazy Latino in the kitchen at work (and when I say crazy I mean CRAZY)

I said "That's really sweet, was the note in Spanish or did Freddie get someone to write it for him?"

Once again a round of cackles and applause...

I had finished my check out and was clocking out when I announced to the girls "That concludes my show for today but thanks for coming. I'll be working TWO shows tomorrow...Lunch and Dinner, be sure to tell a friend!"

It's a wonderful thing to love a job and to have a job that loves you.

Til next time Phyllis COTTON Diller

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Full Moon...

I got up yesterday trying to forget it was my 17th day in a row working , plastered on a smile and went into work.

I didn't get off until almost 5:00. I was working my now famous funnel cake stand at the high school ball game and actually faded out on the couch in the den for a short twenty minute nap.

Feeling semi refreshed I headed to the ball field. Worked with a really great team...two people I have worked with before and one of the women's husband came to help as well. We sold the CRAP out of some funnel cakes and the only down side was we lost the game. The team we played was ranked fourth in the state and we lost by a score of 30-19. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Picked Massey up from the band room around 10:15 and started home. I told her a good friend from my childhood was performing with his band in Newnan at "The Alamo." It's a club that has taken over the old Alamo theatre on the square in Newnan and seems to be the hot spot in town.

She looked at me like SHE was MY mother and said "What time will you be home?"

I reminded her the "I" was the mother and was leaving her in the company of 300 pounds worth of dogs that would tear anyone apart before they shut the door behind them.

She pouted about it but was so tired she was asleep before I brushed my teeth and pulled off my ECHS shirt and put on a sweater.

The "Alamo" is an eclectic club. There are more tats in the place than there is graffiti on over passes in downtown Atlanta. There are blacks, whites, straights and gays. There are ole folks like me and even a couple of opened mouthed people that wandered in by other words "It's my kind of bar."

I walked in and found two of my brother's best friends sitting right by the stage and immediately knew I had made the right decision to come.

The guy in the band was one of my brother's best friends. Always a guy that seems happy and aloof (what man isn't?) and I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't know him.

A server from work (a young chick) came to meet me there after work and graciously sat with me and the 'ole farts.

We laughed and had a great time. The band was pretty amazing and I am glad I went.

I need to do that more often. Do something for "ME."

Four more employees from Mama Lucia's came and it ended up being a really fun night.

I haven't been out after midnight by myself for as long as my shrinking mind can remember but it was fun....REALLY FUN.

We told stories about my parents and my brother and about growing up in East Point. I video taped the band and have included one here.

Luckily today Massey left for competition at 10AM and Tim was home from work to take her. I slept the day away...I slept last night away. I slept the last seventeen days away.

I didn't get out of bed until it was time to iron a shirt for work and jump in the shower for day eighteen.

Work was great tonight and I got off in time to pick Massey up from the high school after her competition. They came in second and she was totally ticked..."ROBBED" they were!

After my nice 14 hour nap  I told her I would take her to "Awful House" for breakfast on Sunday before I went in to open the restaurant. I only have to work the day shift which makes day nineteen look inviting!

I got a peek at next week's schedule and I work a double again on Monday..."AARRGG."

But Tuesday is ALL MINE...and I mean it THIS week.

I am so grateful to have the job that I do. I am so grateful that they love me and seem to appreciate me. You know, when you love your job it's a lot easier to do it  day after day after day.

We are getting there. We are struggling but we are making strides. I just have to remember that every once in a great while I need to squeeze in something just for myself.

Enjoy the video...I enjoyed being there to make it!...Dang the video has taken over 2 hours to load...posting w/o it.

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Did I Start Living in a Disaster Area ?

Here is a picture of Zachary cleaning our living room. At least now we have more open light and my struggling plants should really flourish.

It's not that I have let the house "went" all on it's own.

I have been working so much that housework fell to the bottom of the list about a month ago. If the kids can live with it, so can I. Thank the Lord the dogs can't speak, I think they may be the only ones to complain.

We are starting to look like "Hoarders."

My version of "clean up" is totally different from the concept my kids have. I keep saying that I am going to clean the house on my day off but keep pushing that day off  further down the calendar and have discovered that "Glade Plug ins" are even better than "Febreeze."

We are living in a dust bowl of dog hair and stacked up bills. We are walking around piles of clothes, some dirty and some clean. If I need to leave the kids a note before they go to school I just write it in the dust on the table...if it gets scratched through I know they read it.

I make attempts, I really do!

My life has been such a jumble of work, stress and deadlines that cleaning house is the easiest thing to put off.

I can remember when we moved in our "brand new house" 14 years ago I would vacuum every day. Now I can't remember the last time I vacuumed .

I try to take showers with my eyes shut, telling myself it's to keep soap out of my eyes. It's really to keep myself from seeing another area that has been neglected for WAY too long.

The kids try to help... well Zach does, but he is a male and their concept of cleaning is a LOT different than a females.

I am working til Tuesday and if  DFAC's doesn't show up before then to condemn my house and take my kids away I am going to clean from top to bottom. I am going to wash walls and scrub toilets. I am going to clean ceiling fans and air vents. I am going to condense our piles of crap and get every room in our house so clean that I won't need to spend anymore money on Glade Plug ins but can just smell a "Clean House."

I am worried that publisher's clearing house may show up with the big check and I will be too embarrassed to let them in.

I figure if we have lasted this long in our "Disaster" area...what's six more days?

I can hardly wait to take a shower  with my eyes open! That way I can shave my legs too.

Going to forget about it an idiot I picked up a lunch shift tomorrow on top of working tomorrow night.

Gotta go load the dishwasher so everyone can pile more dishes in the sink while I am at work.

Til next time "CRAZY Cotton"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gettin' My "Feng Shui" Groove ON!

Day thirteen of my current work week. I actually thought I would feel like crap by now but I am "Gettin' my Feng Shui groove ON."

Yesterday morning was the beginning of my third double shift in a row and day number  12 of my  work week. I got up in a bad mood. I had to be at work by 10:30 AM...Tim was gone to church and had left me a note. "I need $212 for the power bill tomorrow." We owe more  but that was the amount he needed for us to keep our power on.

You know me...I left "HIM" a note saying "I need the house vacuumed, the laundry done and all three bathrooms cleaned after you clean the kitchen and mop the floor."

Worked from 10:30 til almost 4:00. Had a thirty minute break and came home to give the dogs some water (I knew their bowl would be dry...which of course it was) and checked my email.

I had an email from a dear friend of mine from high school. It read:

"I don't believe the whole Feng Shui part, but the mere fact of it is cool! 832 years-really??'

Included was this forward:

October 2010:

This October has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays all in one month. It happens once in 832 years. These are considered money bags months. Pass this on to eight good people and money will appear. Based on Chinese Feng Shui. Whoever stops this will experience none...

That's all it took for me!

I had less than five minutes before I had to be back  so I printed off eight copies and drove 60 MPH back to work.

All the people I work with are good people and the first eight I saw as I walked in the back door got handed a copy.

I am already so broke, who am I to turn down a chance at a "Money bags" month?

It wasn't real busy last night but since passing the email  on I haven't gotten ONE tip under 20%.

I can almost feel my eyes getting narrower and am contemplating binding my feet.

Had to work this morning. Tim took Zach to school and since I was already ticked at Tim I told Zach to tell his Dad to take the money he needed for the power bill and deposit the rest in my BLOOD red checking account.

When I went into work I was talking with the bartender setting up the bar and said "I am the proud owner of negative $33 in my checking account."

She said "Oh Kelly...I am SO sorry."

I told her that  Friday I was negative $200. I held up my hand and said "Shoot! I wanna high five for a negative $33!"

I roll with the punches...

Lunch was awesome. Usually Monday lunches CAN be as slow as watching paint dry. Not today! I not only made terrific money but made quite a few new regulars. When they have never eaten at our restaurant, you need to guide them through the massive menu. You need to ask what they like, what they may be in the mood for and SELL your product! I was a selling machine and was pumped that I had not only put my account back in the black but could  buy a few groceries!

Screamed home for five minutes and got back to work in time to get a party of 12 from a German company. Europeans always make me nervous. Overseas servers make a wage. Here servers make $2.13 a hour.

I sold my little heart out. I got the bill up to almost $400. I told Barbara (the owner's wife) that I was worried. She told me to take the bill to the guy paying and write in "suggested gratuity 18%" and do the math for them.

I told her I was nervous about doing that and she snatched the pen out of my hand and wrote her suggested tip FOR me on the bill.

At least if the guy complained I could now say "The owner's wrote that, not me."

Let me interject here that I gave then tremendous service (yeah I'm tootin' my own horn) but when they  left there wasn't ONE dish left on the table. All silverware was gone, all plates were gone and all that remained  was the water glass in front of each guest and the cup from the espresso one guy had.

I was nervous but my "Feng Shui" kicked in again. I made a $70.41 tip!

I was so pumped that I talked another server into giving me his shift tomorrow night.

I approached the owner about picking up the server's  shift and he said "Isn't that your day off?"

I told him "Len, if you give me a day off  I might not want to come back."

He said "Pick up the shift."

I have fallen into a wonderful place. I have learned me some "Kung Fu" that's "Feng Shui."

I am striking while the iron's hot. I don't know if it is Karma. I don't know if if is Feng Shui. I KNOW that is is Thanks to God but if his buddies are kicking in too, I can use all the help I can get!

At least I have tomorrow day off. I can get some things done around the house, sleep in a bit and go back into work to kick some Feng Shui butt!!

I am thinking about petitioning Washington tomorrow to extend the month of October.

Will keep you posted on my wonderful turn of events.

It's called Karma... or  Maybe that's  God's middle name!

Til next time..."Love you long time" COTTON

Friday, October 15, 2010

When You Wish Upon A Star...

This week has worn me out. I work ten shifts this week, the last six shifts are back to back doubles and my last day off was October 5th.

Not that I am complaining...just whining a little. After all I am fifty, have a bad knee and carpal tunnel. Not to mention a back that aches on a daily basis and yesterday I weed eated the front of the subdivision before going into work and feel like someone tore my right shoulder out of it's socket from slinging that weed eater around for a hour and a half before going into work for the tenth day in a row.

I am going to have to remind the owner's that I am NOT a "Guillaume." That is their last name but I swear they work like they were all raised in a concentration camp in Germany or a diamond field in the Congo. Seven days a week they are there. The husband puts in at the minimum ninety hours a week. The wife is a close second but even when she isn't there we know she pulls all the tickets and audits us like she is checking for a "spy" or someone who is costing her a quarter.

That's the way you HAVE to be when running a business, especially in this economy. It took me a while to win the wife over, she's a hard sell but seems to genuinely love me now and it's a daily banter back and forth. She rags on her husband and I cheerfully agree until he walks by. Then I am all about pumping him up.

When you own a business and spend more time there than you do your own home, it's a conundrum.
You can be every one's friend or you can take care of your business.

They take care of their business and I highly respect them for their devotion and for the way they can scream at each other in times of stress and demand, but at the same time act as one working for the same goal...success.

They feed me and love me. They treat me like family (I am going to have to remind them I'm not blood related) and have given me the chance to help my family make it through this time in our lives. I like to call it "this time" instead of "The biggest hell I have ever been through."

If I hadn't gotten this job my family would be living under a bridge by Turner Field. They have helped me out time and time again in the short time I have worked for them and I have more respect for them than any other employer I have ever worked for.

I have been working since I was 14 years old. I have always been an honest person . I have always been a hard working person. I have always been a person that wears my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes it comes back to bite me in the butt .

I am also a believer in Karma. What goes around comes aorund.

These people, this family... gave me a chance when my former employers told me I was a liabilty, a risk... a person that they didn't want to employ any longer.

Even after working all these days in a is a pleasure to get up scrambling running late and fatigued to go into a job that appreciates me.

I left work tonight after a 12 hour shift.

I was driving down the road and saw a star streaking across the sky. I closed my eyes and made a wish.

Before I even opened my eyes my wish came true.

I am in a place that loves me. I am in a place that cares about not only me but my entire family. I am in a place where I can be myself and be appreciated for being a hard worker. I have found a place that I can call home and a place that I FEEL at home.

It's a wonderful feeling to wake up and not think "This is day ten" but think "Thank God I landed here."

If you are ever on the south side of Atlanta...come into "Mama Lucia's" for the best Italian food and the feeling of knowing you are wanted and appreciated.

A shout out to the owner' are amazing. You are crazy, but I still wonder how you do it?

You have been MY shooting have been my saving salvation. More than that, you are hands down the best restaurant I have ever worked for .

Now I am also lucky enough to say I work for "Ya'll."

Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When We All Pull Together...The Power is Amazing!

 Thirty three men trapped for 69 days over 2,000 feet below the surface of our planet.
 How they survived for a week amazes they all survived for over 2 months boggles my mind.
The man operating the drill flew in from Afghanistan. NASA was consulted and came up with the dark glasses to protect the miner's eyes that have been in total darkness for months. It was 90 degrees in the mine they survived in. It was 50 degrees on the surface they were finally delivered to.

At least five different countries contributed to this rescue effort. It shows me that when people and countries work TOGETHER it can bring about amazing results. Why in the world can't we take this lesson and apply it to every day life?

Why do grocery stores have twenty five check out lanes and only use four? Why does the post office have five windows and only use one?

Why do we all fight for  one political party instead of trying to come together as one to make our nation better?

The in fighting and name blame game baffles my tiny mind.

I thought I have  it rough. At least I see the sky every day, even when I am going to the mail box to get bills I can't pay on time. At least I have a bed to collapse into at the end of a disappointing day. At least I have family and friends that have sent me my own "rescue capsule" time and time again.

How these men they kept their spirits up and how they all asscended through that tiny cylinder drilled deep into the earth is a total inspiration to me and should be an inspiration to every person on this planet.

When we all pull together...when we all set our differences aside, it is totally amazing what we can accomplish.

So the economy sucks. Do we want to keep blaming one party for it or do we want to all pull together and make it better?

Do we want to bash each other to death, spend countless hours just trying to find 'dirt' on someone or spend time on finding some way to actually help the masses?

It seems like a "No Brainer" to me.

Til next time... "Counting on it COTTON"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

At Least Massey is Happy

My brother tries to stay away from me as much as possible...I don't blame him one bit. His weak spot seems to be Massey. She has the unique quality of just making you want to love her.

She can be a pain, but can't ALL kids? To make up for being a pain she has a heart of gold and a face that lights up every time she talks . (Her face lights up A LOT)

Last week we attended the 100th anniversary of the church I grew up in. We sat with my sister and brother in the balcony (our regular seat when we were teens.)

Of course we were running (very) late and as I screamed up the interstate Massey was steady texting with her Uncle Chris. As usual he was right on time...but when you are a bachelor it's easy to be on HAVE to be because you have no one else to blame for making you late.

I told her to tell Uncle Chris that we just wanted to make sure the offering plate had already been passed around. He text back and said it had come by and he took a twenty out of the plate for her birthday present.

My brother is the funniest person I have ever met and that's a lot coming from a goof ball like me!

He hasn't seen Massey since her birthday so he told her to pick out anything she wanted and he would get it for her...wait til she turns sixteen and he has to take out a car loan!

She wanted a pair of suede boots with fringe..of course not ANY pair of suede boots but ONE pair of suede boots from the "Minnetonka Moccasin" company.

Like the good Uncle he is, they arrived two days later by Fed Ex air.

She hasn't taken them off and hasn't stopped talking about them.

Thank the Lord the Orthopaedic surgeon we saw recently  for her knee told me that Massey has stopped growing.

Massey is already thinking ahead and asked me how long would it take for her boots to wear out?

The only immediate family I have left are a brother and a sister. My parents left me with two of the greatest Sib's a girl could ever hope for. I know they are sick of me and  probably are having my DNA tested to make sure I am actually a blood relative. I hope they don't have a friend in forensics that can fix a swab an oust me as a relative. I hope this blog doesn't give them any ideas.

I am moving ahead with my plans to try and  publish and have gotten a great web site from a published author trying to help me out (Thanks Yvonne.)

Still hanging on by a thread but grateful that it seems to be a sturdy thread.

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, October 11, 2010

Maybe Not Turning the Corner Yet But Putting My Blinker on Just in Case

This picture describes exactly how I feel most of the time, except I would probably have a flat front tire and be pedaling uphill too.

Mentally and physically I am feeling MUCH better. I have finally discovered that depression doesn't help anything but the number of hours of sleep you get in a day. I have NEVER needed more than six hours and just seem to run better that way.

I am pedaling as fast and as furious as I can. I have passed the mark of depression because it didn't help one bit and seems to make my hair go gray a LOT quicker. It's already only an inch and a half long because I decided if I had LESS hair I would have less GRAY hair.

The kids were out of school today and have tomorrow off as well. I drove ole Johnny up to the front of the subdivision to cut it so I can get my $40 check from the Homeowner's ASSociation...(no that wasn't a typo.)

I only had time to cut and not weed yard of mine is complete until I take ole "WEEDY" through the trenches and trim it all out nicely. I am going to finish with "Weedy" tomorrow after my day shift and better have a check waiting in my mail box. It's sad that a $40 check can make or break me but I have never heard of someone cutting your grass and having to wait a week for a check...unless you are cutting the government's yard.

Massey was at a friend's house wanting me to pick her up when I pulled ole Johnny back into the garage. I sent up a prayer and sent Zach off in my car to pick her up while I showered and ironed a shirt for work.

I let Zach drop me off at work and gave him a detailed grocery list. My food stamp money has been held up becuse of the back log of people applying and I told him specifically what items to buy.

Work started out slow but I had two tables that ordered bottles of wine and ended up making my intended goal and then some.

Zach came to pick me up from work and I still had a table sitting having a business meeting. Massey had gone off with some guard friends and was due to get home soon. Tim had already left for work and she is a sissy when at home alone. Like ANYONE would come in our house with 300 pound's worth of dogs sitting in the kitchen just waiting for the garage door to open.

I asked Zach to text her from my phone telling her I would be home soon. He said he did  but when I finally left work I checked my "Sent" messages  saw that he sent her a text from my phone saying "You better lose that attitude before I get home." I had a response from Massey that said "I didn't do anything. You need to chill." While I was in the gas station, Zach sent her the same message again and when I got back in the car she had sent me back a text saying "Yes Ma'am."

Maybe Zach is on to something!

I asked him if he had gotten everything on the grocery list and he assured me he did. I had told him to get a small bag of sugar to make tea and coffee. He bought me a bag of powdered sugar... Do you think that will work in iced tea?

When I got home Massey was lapping around me like a dog that had pee'ed on the couch by mistake.

When you have a teen age boy and a teen age girl in the same house it is like a constant "Cock Fight."

Yes Massey can be lazy and her room is a wreck. On the other hand she makes great grades and is super involved with the band.

Zach is involved with God knows what and tries my patience on an hourly basis.

They are both my kids...I only have myself to blame.

Had a great night at work...I am almost in the black in my checking account and tomorrow morning I may feel brave enough to pull into the drive in window right next to the bank. I usually go to the one on the outside lane and make fake calls on my cell phone so maybe they will think I am a really busy person and haven't realized I am in the red...the velvet...the crimson.

I got an email today from a guy I barely know. He reads my blog and raved about me. He said a lot of other people felt the same way.

My next project is going to be exploring ways I can publish this crazy life I live. He even asked me if I made up some of the characters I write about.

I can assure you all that THIS IS MY LIFE. It may sound like I am making it up but if that were true I would be sitting in a mansion like "The Clampetts" had.

People have often remarked about my email address "theclampetts."

I am living THEIR life. I am a hard working person, an honest person. Waiting for my break and when it  finally comes I will be the first one to say  "Weeee  Doggies."

I will be just like The Clampetts...grateful for everything and have no shame of knowing where I came from. Good family, good friends and a desire to make a better life for my family.

Who knows? Maybe one day we will even have a cement pond!

Working 10 shifts this week...and I truly believe  this will be the week that turns my bike with a flat tire into a "Mo-Ped."

"Well I'm movin' on up."
At least  I finally feel good...That has to count for something. Before you know it I will be in a Porsche.

(Relax Chris, I wasn't talking about yours...yet)

It's been a has been something I never want to experience again. It has been humbling and it has been embarassing. It has been uplifting and at times miraculous. I have so many people to thank  and so many things to pay  forward.

I am resolved to not let this one time of despair to be my defining moment. I am resloved to make this the thing that makes me realize how lucky a person  can be when they are loved.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Sometimes I wanted to waddle in despair  but now realize I am one of the luckiest people on the planet.

"When the going gets tough...the tough get going."

Til next time..COTTON

Sunday, October 10, 2010

At Least It Was Entertaining...

Worked Brunch today and had a good shift. We have an awesome brunch...Frittatas and Omelets, Eggs Benedict ,  French Toast and fresh Blueberry Pancakes to name a few .
I had a thirty minute break and came back on for the dinner shift.

Unfortunately it was really slow but that's just the way it is as a server. Some shifts are Phat and some shifts are Flat, you just hope that it all averages out to your benefit at the end of the week.

Everyone that worked Brunch was a double except "Olive Oyl" so it was the same team all day and night. I worked with Thelma, Pink Panther, Dr. Evil, Quick Draw and Baba Booey, Andy Capp and a couple of team members that I haven't named yet. Tonight I added one more to the list...we christened the "new guy."

He looks like one of the Back Street Boys...after googling them I discovered it was Kevin Richardson (see above photo.) He is a really nice guy, very laid back, making him the perfect target in my"sarcastic sight."

It's really hard when you start at our restaurant. The menu is huge and varied and the wine list goes on for days. Learning a new computer system is never easy and finding out how to modify and send items correctly to the kitchen is a daily process of trial and error.

I came out of the kitchen tonight and our new guy was standing at the computer screen staring intently and talking quietly to it. I asked him who he was talking to and he chuckled softly. I said " What are you doing, trying to Skype?" We had a good laugh (it's best to just laugh when you are trapped in my "sight.") When we walked back into the kitchen I picked up a pepper mill and held it briefly to my ear before handing it to him and saying "It's for you." I told him his new nickname could be 'Skype.'

Then not ten minutes later he asked me who had table 306?  We don't even HAVE a table I quipped "I'm not sure who's table that is but table one o twelve is mine." (we don't have a one o twelve either) The bartender (Thelma) told him to go get a bucket from the back and sit down and take a break .

Thelma and I don't let up when we get on a roll. It was slow and we needed some entertainment and ole "Skype" fit the bill perfectly.

We also had a new young hostess working. She is a senior in high school and is a tiny little slip of a thing...she makes ME look overweight. When the phone rings at the hostess stand it makes her jump...she seems to be a little skittish over answering the phone. I was up front tonight talking with her and the owner (Dr. Evil.) She said she couldn't wait to try some of the food on our menu. I told her she should order some food . She said she didn't have any money so I  said "Len (the owner) will buy you some food...try the Lamb." Our New Zealand Rack of Lamb is $36.99.

Len told me to shut up and go away.

So I really didn't make any money but I laughed all night....that's a good shift if you ask me!

We are conflicted on the new guy's nickname but I think "Skype" might stick. I'll have to hand it to him, he takes it all in stride and laughs along with us.

 We are a dysfunctional but loving bunch. When it's  busy as a beehive we all work together and help each other out. When it's slow we laugh together. It is wonderful place I have's not only a job but a family and they have welcomed me as one of the team and I couldn't have found a better team to be a part of.

Tomorrow starts another week and it's nice to not dread going into work. School is out on Monday and Tuesday so my kids get a break and hopefully it will bring out the "Eaters."
Til next time...COTTON the Entertainer

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What a Day...What a Weekend...What a Life

So yesterday I worked a day shift...then a night shift at the funnel cake stand. Got up this morning to have Massey back at the school by 8AM. I went into work at 10:30 and worked until 4:30. Ran and bought dog food so the hounds wouldn't try to eat each other and was back at work by five.

My day shift was good. I worked with two other great servers and two of my blog followers came in to eat with me...Jackie Gleason's son and his sweet wife, who has the most beautiful first name I have ever heard. It starts with a "K" and ends with an "elly." Another dear friend of mine blew in from my past with her daughters and it was like "Old Home" week for me!

Massey  left for a competition in Alabama and won't be home until 2AM (looking forward to THAT trip to the school !)

When I got back to work we had a party of 75. It was a surprise party for a woman's 60th birthday, thrown by her two sons and her daughter in law.

My bad hip kicked in around 9:00 and by the time the party left at 9:30 I was limping around like Chester on Gun Smoke.

I look at it this way...I had three tables in the party. I waited on three tables and my cut of the tip was $101.00.

I limped back home (at least I didn't have to ride a horse) and sat down at the computer.

Why I am so drawn to this blog still baffles me. I think it has something to do with the fact that my LIFE is in this blog. I can read and re read posts. I can see where I was and still remember the feeling. I can see that even though it is life is getting better.

When we had the big party tonight (it was all one check...the two sons paid) several people left money on the table. They were all so nice...especially the people that left us extra money! It is such a relief to me to be in a restaurant that thinks I am "The Bomb."  I USED to think I was "The Bomb" as a server but was so beaten down by my last job that when I was fired, even started to wonder if they were right.

I know now after over six months at my new place, that they were all corporate idiots I worked for and tell myself on a semi daily basis that it was THEIR loss.

The only thing I hate is that my kid's have suffered...(well, Zach not so much... he's low maintenance and may end up to be my favorite.) But having to tell my oldest he had to open his wings and flap away from home wasn't easy. Telling Massey she couldn't go to Hawaii with the band crushed me. Having to know that Massey acts "Okay" with knowing we can't send her to Hawaii literally breaks my heart.

I have promised her (and not an empty promise)  when we get back on our feet that she, my sister and I will all get buddy passes and GO to Hawaii. Heck, it's 85 degrees year round ...we can sleep on a beach, I'm all about some camping.

If it were just me and would be just fine. When you have kids it gets all mixed up with emotions and a sense of duty.

I have been blessed beyond belief and at least my kids are old enough to realize it and are grateful for all the amazing help we have been given by family, friends and even strangers. It has been a lesson for them that will prepare them for "Real" life.

When "The Great One's" son came in today to eat with me he said  he thought I should seriously try to get my blog published. I started my blog with that in mind but it has been pushed to the back burner with all else that has happened.

"What if?"

He isn't the first person to tell me that,  and now I am seriously thinking (believe it or not, I CAN be serious) what if he is right?

What if this could be my way out? Would people pay to read my writings?

Working nine shifts a week doesn't leave me much spare time between shuffling Massey back and forth to the school but my job is so much less stressful and if I THOUGHT it would work I would do it. The problem is I have very little faith in myself as a writer.

I have another week filled with shifts but have decided I would take my one day off and devote it to myself. There is a published author that reads my blog and I am determined to contact her and see what she thinks and ask for any advice she can give me (get ready Yvonne.)

We are headed in the right direction but if something I dearly love can help us move ahead, I would be even MORE of an idiot not to explore my options.

Am I crazy? (most probably) Am I lazy? (only when I am severely depressed.) Combine the two and it adds up to a woman who is afraid of failure and I don't think I want to fall into that category.

Call me stupid and slap me twice but this next week I am going to see what I can do... for myself and for my family.

How great would it be for the thing I love to do the most be the thing that saves us?

Updates to follow and prayers always accepted...

Til next time..COTTON

Friday, October 8, 2010

The "Funnel" Score... ECHS 53... Losers 13

So I am officially the "Funnel Cake Queen."
I guess there are a lot worse things I could be (and have been )called.
 Here sit my fryers...awaiting my magic wand. No, make that my magic ring and spatula.
 I took a picture of the thermometer in the oil...already hitting the red zone...also known as 450 degrees.
 I'm not the only one working...what's worse, frying french fries or frying funnel cakes? These guys are pumpin' out some taters...crinkle cuts (my fave.)
 The guys in the char pit are cooking burgers, dogs and brats as fast as they can. Obviously no one eats before an East Coweta game.
I had me some help tonight...Can't tell you one of their names, I called them "Fry Lady one"  "Fry Lady two" and "Fry Lady three." When you're frying funnel cakes there isn't time to learn names... you just learn who is going to hand you a plate as you pull the cake out of the grease so you don't burn the poop out of your hand (which I did twice tonight.)

It may sound insane...but I have gotten to where I look forward to frying up plates of crap and powdered sugar and am continually amazed at how people will stand in line for a $4.00 funnel cake. Our stand is constantly busy and sometimes the line is fifteen to twenty people deep. I keep waiting for someone to advance to the front of the line and expect to be getting on a roller coaster.  I sure wouldn't stand in a line for twenty minutes to buy a funnel cake but believe me..they do!

I walked up to the tent tonight and they acted like Oprah had just walked of the women actually clapped. Talk about an ego boost! I told them  that, yes... I did have my degree in "Fryology" and was at their service.

We were in a tent out in front of the stadium and never got to see the game but it seemed like every five minutes we would hear "SCORE...East Coweta."  I finally asked who we were playing, was it an elementary school?  I know the other team hated it...there is nothing worse than losing a high school game when you are a teen. The kids that come to the games may not watch the entire game but they WANT their team to win. I had never even heard of this school  and never made it into the stadium to even see what their colors were. But by the score their colors must be "Black and Blue."

I lose so much money taking these Friday nights off from work...but it is so absolutely therapeutic to me. I am totally appreciated for running the Funnel Cake stand...Heck! No one else wants to and I have found my niche...Helping out where help is needed. I have kids coming up to the stand yelling "Hey Ms. Cotton." And kids coming up yelling "Hey Massey's Mom." I almost feel like a celebrity!

It might not be Broadway...but it is "MY"way of helping out and enjoying being around a bunch of kids that are BEING KIDS. They aren't doing drugs or drinking or having sex...they are being teens, they are supporting their school and even if they don't actually go into the stadium to watch the game they wear the school colors and they have the school pride.
You know I have to include a pic of "MY Pride." This is Massey walking out with the band after the game. After we have turned the fryers off, washed all the crap and taken the tent down. The money is turned in and all that is left is to watch this amazing group of kids march out and know that somehow, someway I have helped . It is Karma my friends. Just to be recognized by all the kids is a boost to me. To see my daughter smile as she walks by is merely a bonus.
The video is of the ECHS drum line...I LOVE me some drum line. I can still remember the cadences from my own high school band. I think ECHS has an awesome drum line.

You tell me! Click on all the pics and the video as well.

Washing the batter and grease off...getting up to have Massey back at the school by 8AM and loving every moment I can of my youngest child doing what every teen should..."Enjoy being a kid."

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, October 7, 2010

God Smiled On me Today... It Felt Heavenly

I woke up in a terrible mood. Massey needed a ride to school, came back home and Zach needed one too. TJ had come over late last night and was crashed on the sofa in our den (formerly his room.)

I had kited another check to the cable company so we wouldn't lose Internet and said a prayer as I signed my name to the worthless piece of paper... they usually take 3 or 4 days to process a check and I crossed my fingers as I told the woman to "Have a wonderful day." I was supposed to go visit a friend at Scottish Rite but barely had enough gas to get to work so I sank back into bed to nurse my depression.

Depression is a REAL thing. It can take you so low you don't even want to get just want to give in. I felt that way today. I thought to myself...why go on? I thought about how easy it would be to just go in my sleep. Then I thought about the fact that I have no insurance and all my bills would be HAVE to be paid even if I was gone and on top of that , my family would say " we gotta dig a HOLE too?"

I succumbed to the pity and just let my body rest until it was time to get up for work. The kids were all still at school and Tim was asleep after from coming home from another 12 hour shift out on the loading dock.

Massey stayed at school for practice and Zach came home right as I was dragging myself out of bed to get a shower and iron a shirt for work. Zach is 18 and even though he acts oblivious  can tell when I am not on my game. Usually when they get home from school I am hopping off  Johnny and brushing the grass off my shins and scrambling into the shower to go to work.

Today I dragged myself out of bed and didn't even try to hide the fact that I had slept the day away.
 Zach asked me if I wanted him to iron my work shirt? I told him no just plug the iron in for me. The last time I asked Zach to iron a shirt I found him ironing it while it was still on the hanger. The thought was there but the end result wasn't too pretty.

Just like a good wife , before I left I unloaded on my husband who was getting up to scarf down a sandwich and go back to sleep before getting up to work another 12 hour shift out on the loading dock. God bless him he didn't say a word...but I just felt better unloading on someone and he is the one that signed up for "Better or worse."

I went into work and just as I started to feel like I wanted to go back home and crawl in bed happened.

God smiled on me.

I only waited on eight tables. When I worked for Long Horn I would wait on about 20 tables a night. Every table I waited on tonight left me over a 20% tip. My fifth table was a party of three. They ordered a $65 bottle of wine and instead of wanting water ordered a bottle of Pelligrino....BINGO!

Then a party of four came in that recognized me because they used to work for my brother...I led them straight to my table and God's smile suddenly became a huge grin.

A huge weight was lifted off my already hunched over shoulders and I realized that "YOU can't give up."
You can't give have to keep going until life swings back around your way.

I walked out with enough money to ALMOST cover my  cable check and enough to buy the cereal that was on sale at Kroger and a small bag of dog food.

I HAVE to quit getting discouraged...but it is so easy to do. Just when you feel like throwing your hands up in despair and giving up totally...God smiles down on you.

 He's a tough boss. He demands that you give of yourself before you ever expect to reap a reward. I lost that concept temporarily but as I reaped HIS reward tonight I was reminded why I have so much faith in his way's and reasoning's.

I have a wonderful family and I am blessed beyond belief with  so many friends that I feel embarrassed to have let the depression over ride my tremendous  system of support.

"Oh ye of little faith."

"My Bad."

Won't do that again. Working all weekend and as long as I am working..God will work for and with me.

I can't wait for the day that this time in our lives will be something we  all laugh about in our house. The laughter has been gone from my house for way too long but I can  make it return...with help from friends, family and most importantly  "The Big Guy" and I don't mean Chris (although he has gone above and beyond the call as well.)

No more pity more hiding in bed. I may be little but I am a BIG person and when you have God on your side...
"All things are possible."

Three kids, three huge dogs, a house we are trying to save. No one said life would be easy...but you have to make it worth saving.

Sounding like Scarlett  but  "As God as my witness tomorrow is another day" and if HE gives me one, I will make the best of it.

Sometimes you forget how lucky you are. Sometimes you forget to count blessings. When they all add up... if you are around to still count them, you are a lucky person.

I am now considering myself a " Lucky Counter."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Hoop is Shrinking...Thank The Lord I'm Skinny

I used to feel like I was jumping through I feel like I am trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle.

Yesterday was my only day off and I still have a massive week ahead of me. After the kids went to school and I fought the DHR followed by a disturbing call from Wells Fargo I fell into a funk. Actually I fell back into bed. Sometimes when the going gets tough...the tough takes a nap.

 I was supposed to go visit a friend at Scottish Rite but I didn't have enough gas. I had the .50 for the toll booth at Hwy 400 but it was either go or not have enough gas to get to work today.

I've gotten used to being broke. Sometimes I'm broker than other times but  realize that after what we have been through we will be broke for a while. Better to be broke than "Broken."

My husband started out my crappy week (God bless him, he didn't mean to.) I told him I would have a certain amount to give him for the house note on Monday. When you are a server you can't COUNT on anything but HOPE it happens. Unfortunately for him it didn't happen and I was short on my donation. He flipped out and said "You said you would HAVE it." I calmly said (well maybe not real calmly) "You know  a few months ago we couldn't even MAKE a house we are only $100 short. You should be giving me a high five not a dressing down."

Needless to say he felt like crap and once again one of my Sib's came to our rescue. I swear  they must feel like conspiring  as to what will be the best way to ex communicate me from the family...I am living up to my my maiden name of  "Leach"...with the "A" replaced with an "E."

But my sister came through, just like she and  my brother always do and we are good for another thirty days.

Then the mortgage company called. I am sure by now there is a note in our file that says "Do NOT ask to speak to Mrs. Cotton!" (Exclamation point and all)

This woman said our loan modification had just landed on her desk and she needed "blah blah blah" to be faxed to "blah blah blah."

Already frustrated and feeling blue because it was my Mother's birthday ... if she had lived she would be 81. Instead I was FEELING 81 and didn't have her to turn to.

I told this woman I was absolutely perplexed by the hoops,  that were turning into the eye of a needle  we were having to jump/squeeze through for a loan modification. We have had our house for almost 15 years and for 13 of those years  were never late ONE TIME. My husband lost his job and then I lost mine. We got 5 months behind but have made an on time payment for the last four months. When we bought our house in 1997 for $109,000 and signed a mortgage it meant in the end we would pay almost  half a million dollars for our who is benefitting from that...US or THEM? It doesn't take rocket scientist to just take those five months we couldn't pay and tack them on to the end of our mortgage. It would be to their advantage that they could rape us for five more  months and not have another empty house sitting and growing into an eye sore that brings down the property value of the entire neighborhood.  Immediately she said "That is exactly what I am trying to do for you."

Well slap my face and call me stupid...but why in the world am I having to fax the same exact documents over and over and over to the same exact mortgage company over and over and over about the same exact house?

I know by now there is an asterisk by my name and probably a "DON'T TALK TO" note.

I told the woman on the phone that I was more comfortable with the LAST guy that had contacted me because he was in Atlanta and not in Minnesota where she was,  but I would fax all their "blah blah blah " stuff again...One copy to the guy here in the ATL and one copy to her in Minnesota. I told her whoever could help me would get the first thank you note.

My husband is much nicer to them always telling them "Thank you for your help." I am more inclined to say "Why are ya'll dragging this out?"  If  I thought they were gonna foreclose I would wash all three of my dogs in the bath tub tonight and not even rinse it it...take THAT Wells Fargo! Now you got a house with dog hair in the drain and no one that is gonna clean it out. Not to mention vacuum the carpet.

They make me feel like we are in jeopardy of losing our house while they all sit behind their desk dragging their feet like Neanderthal's...scrubbing their knuckles on the ground while we are trying to keep our heads above water.
It makes me wonder "Who is trying to help WHO?"

My hoop isn't a hoop is the eye of a needle and makes me grateful that I only weigh 95 pounds. If I turn sideways...we MAY make it through.

I won't quit until they come drag me out. I won't give up until I take them all down with me. I won't quit until I know I have tried and tried and tried EVERY option.

Obviously they don't know they are dealing with a Leach.

I had me a day off...I have thought about this a lot. I am ready for the fight. I don't think they realize what or who they are facing. I may be little  but I have a HUGE bite. Pray for me as I challenge the giants..or maybe I should ask you to pray for the Giants!

No one is taking this house. No one is ousting my family. No one is telling me  we can't beat the odds. No one is telling me that we haven't come a long, long way.

If we have made it this far...we can make it!

Til next time..a newly confident COTTON

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Times They Are a Changing...

Today was the 100th anniversary of the church I attended as a child. My parents were married in this church and many fond memories were made inside of this building.

It sits quietly on the outskirts of Atlanta...still welcoming people into it's fold.

When I attended as a child it was a pretty conservative all white church. A suit and tie was worn by every male and dresses by the females... even the kids.

You sat as quietly as you could (if you were a teen) and no one came or went in or out of the service until it was over except for an emergency.

Today I attended as a fifty year old woman with my husband, daughter and my sister and brother. We all met in the balcony...our place of choice when we were young and decided to return to our roots in honor of the 100th year celebration.

Of COURSE the Cottons were fashionably late. My brother who is always on time got there first. My sister who is usually running a few minutes late got there next and "The Cottons" came clomping up the steps well into the service. (Better late than never)

The times "They are a changing." The church is now an equally diverse church. There are Whites, Blacks Latinos and Asians. There are some old timers and there are gratefully many new faces. There are people that seem to be well to do and there are some that seem to be grateful just to have a place to worship.

Just as it was when I was a kid... the balcony was filled with teens. Today it was filled with black and white teens. Today it was filled with old members and new members. Today there were old faces and new faces.

It's a wonderful thing that after 100 years this church is still serving it's community and it's God.

Added to the balcony was a mixing board and a guy running it that looked like a member of ZZ Topp. Minus from the balcony was my Mother who used to sit on the front row with her friends while I sat on the back row with mine eating candy and staring out the arched window to the street below.

It was amazing being back in that church with my siblings and daughter beside me looking out over a packed house of worship. It was comforting to know that the church, even though it is smaller in numbers is still serving it's community. The community now is a mix of middle class and not so middle class. It is a community of racial diversity. And it is a church that stands tall and welcomes ALL into it's doors.

As usual when sitting with your brother and sister...even if you are fifty in a church setting,  can be hard when one of them leans over to make a comment or when something happens that you can't over look. This happened to me twice during the service and I could barely make myself stop laughing. At one point I quietly told my daughter "Don't look at me."

At the end of the service there was a presentation by the youth group. They were all African American kids who did an interpretive dance portraying the challenges and choices that young teens have to deal with and make on a daily basis in this new world we are living in.

Halfway through the music quit (modern technology...ain't it grand) but these young people kept right on with their  dance and didn't miss a beat. They received a standing ovation...and it was a well deserved one.

Here I was,  sitting in the balcony of a church that I started attending in 1960 with an all white conservative congregation to witness teens that were racially diverse  but loving the same God I do. They were pouring their young hearts out in front of a standing room only crowd. As these teens took the stage...every kid in the balcony with me stood up and took out their cell phone to record the performance.

That is the true meaning of Christianity and the total purpose of a church..."To serve the Lord and to serve it's flock."

After the service we had a feast in the fellowship hall that I grew up in. There was ham, fried chicken and about 200  side dishes to choose from. There were people from my childhood and there were people I have never met. We all ate side by side and rejoiced together.

It was one of the most satisfying days of my life.

As the minister said in his sermon "Time and technology change but some people never want their church to change...  but to grow your church HAS to change."

This church I grew up in HAS changed. It is more diverse and has welcomed many new members and relishes the ones that have remained faithful.

It was a good was a great day. It reminded me once again how lucky I was to grow up in East Point Christian Church and how lucky all these new members are to have a place of worship that has evolved, grown and continues the Lord's work.

I will definitely visit again soon and have already made a couple of new friends.

"And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Need A Break !!

WHEW! What a stinkin day this was. I worked a double shift yesterday and today but at least yesterday I got a nice break and even got to lay down for a 20 minute power nap before going back.

Today was a slow lunch but as soon as I got off I had to go pay Verizon, get gas and scream by the high school to hug my girl's neck before she loaded up on a school bus to go to Cobb County for a band competition. School buses are so rickety and I am a paranoid Mom. I never want my kid leaving on a bus that has a maximun speed of 55 MPH to travel ANYWHERE in Atlanta without holding her close and hugging her so tight it makes her feel like she is suffocating.

I zoomed back to work and the bomb dropped.

We were busier than a bee hive being hit with a bat.

Before I knew it I had seven tables and felt like I was in a cartoon. We had a new girl start tonight for a trial run. She was working in the kitchen. I call her a girl but that only means she is female. I am fifty and if I had to guess her age I would say we were probably at "Prom" the same year.

She is an African American woman  and has never worked in the restaurant industry.

Some of our cooks come in at 10:30 in the morning and don't get off til 10:00 at night. They get a short break to eat...decompress or hot box a cig..text their spouse ,  but pretty much it is a "Slam Wham Bam " job.

This woman came in at 5:00. By seven we were packed and I could see the panic in her face. She was working in the salad gotta get those salads out before the meal so it is already a high pressure area. About 7:15 she told the owner (already known as Dr. Evil) that she needed a break. She marched out front to the bar and asked the bar tender where she could sit to take a break?  She acted like she wanted to be directed to a table where she could sit and gather her thoughts about how crazy it was to try and work in the kitchen of a busy restaurant. The bartender (politely) told her we didn't HAVE a table for her to sit at and she needed to head back to the kitchen.  Well she found a bucket to sit on and a little while later I saw her sitting on a plastic tub that we keep bread in. I guess she had a "WOO- WEE" moment and thought to herself "What the heck am I doing here?"

She took a good 15 minutes to decompress and gather her thoughts while we all got killed.

The restaurant industry is a brutal place to be if you have never worked in it before. Actually it can be pretty brutal if you HAVE worked in it before.

After all was said and done, she didn't slip out the back door and leave and Len didn't kick her out it. (Not yet)

I have been a server for over 32 years and there have been MANY nights  I felt like saying "I just need five minutes to catch up." The problem is when you are busy, twenty more people get seated in the five minutes you want for yourself and they are ALL wanting and expecting something at the same time.

I bet when I go into work tomorrow there will be one less bucket in the kitchen. DAMN...there goes my seat!

You never know...she may come back tomorrow and say "I didn't know it would be THIS hard, but I am willing to try it again."

I am hoping  she does. Trial by fire is a good thing...keeps you on your toes and cuts down on the bucket inventory.

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, October 1, 2010

Jumping Through Hoops

I feel like this is my hand sticking up through the piles of red tape so I can find that hoop I am obviously supposed to be jumping through...I bet when I find it the hoop will be wrapped in red tape.

A few weeks ago I got a letter from the Georgia DHR stating that I needed to bring check stubs to their office so I could reapply for assistance. I was hoping that by now I could fore go assistance but decided that I needed it for a while longer. I debated the issue...I HATE having to use that EBT card and am humiliated even when swiping the card in the self check out lane. I keep it out of view until the last minute, swipe it quickly and return it to my pocket before all the people I think are staring at me (who probably aren't) start talking about me behind my back. I went to the DHR office and had them make copies of our pay stubs and asked if there was anything else I needed to do. Their reply was "NO."

I got a letter back from the state saying I had been approved but the amount had been modified since Tim has started working as well as me starting to make money again. I was fine with only means we are getting closer to getting back on our feet.

I was supposed to get the credit yesterday but when I checked online in the early morning it wasn't there. Then the phone rang and "State Gov" popped up on the caller ID.

I answered and my crappy day began.

Number one: the case worker had me on speaker phone and I could barely hear her. Number two: she wasn't very friendly.

She told me she was calling because they were going to close my case because I hadn't supplied check stubs. I told her I had taken them by over three weeks ago and she quickly said "I have one, we told you that a month's worth were needed." I told her I HAD brought a month's worth and had the lady at the window make copies of all of them. She acted like I was lying to her and asked if I could fax them again? I told her I was headed out the door to go to Scottish Rite to visit a friend who's baby had just had a brain tumor removed and I didn't have a fax machine. She replied "There are fax machines at hospitals...there are fax machines at banks and there are fax machines at grocery stores." Then she proceeded to tell me the women at the front desk didn't know what was needed and weren't responsible for telling me what I needed to do. She asked if I had told them to mark it to HER attention? I told her I didn't even know HER name until five minutes ago and had never been informed that I NEEDED to mark it to any specific person's attention. She said that I was going to lose my benefits by the end of the day. I told her I had received a letter stating I had been approved and that the amount had been modified so I thought it was all taken care of. She said in fact it was my fault for not providing documentation that I hadn't received last month's payment and she didn't know if THIS month's payment would come through.

I was getting ticked by this point and my hot flash wasn't coming from my pre-menopausal state.

I told her I was a fifty year old woman who has never in her life had to apply for government assistance and when I DID apply was never told how to reapply or  who my case worker was much less that the women in the front office were obviously clueless as to how the red tape system works even though they are paid by it. As I made my last comment she immediately took me off speaker phone.

"Now we were getting somewhere."

I continued with my 'forced' rant and said I realize millions of people are sponging off  the government but I wasn't one of them. I told her it had been humiliating to even walk in their office to apply and was humiliating every time I had to use the card they had approved me for... but  have been working since I was 14 years old and paying into the system. She did the quickest 180 I have ever  heard screeching through the ear piece of a phone.

I realize  they deal with deadbeats and lazy people along with the people that truly need assistance, but don't treat me like a deadbeat until you are certain I AM one.  No one hates me being on government assistance more than ME...

I have called my "Case Worker" four times since , only to be sent to voicemail every time. I left a message every time to see if she had received the paperwork I took by the office after our initial 'chat' and wanted to ask if there was anything else I needed to do?

Finally got a voicemail back today while I was at work saying she had received my paperwork from the (obviously incomp's in the front window) who I bet all hate her now after our "Speakerphone Squabble" and maybe my case worker has realized sometimes Speakerphone isn't the best route to go until you are sure it is a deadbeat you are talking to.

She said the system is three weeks back logged. I guess that means it will be three more weeks until I get my credit from last month and my credit for this month.

I know some people "Work" the system...but obviously they have a LOT more spare time than me. I have jumped through hoops with Massey and her knee via the Peach Care system and seem to continue jumping for my empathy challenged "case worker."

You do what you have to do when your family is in need. I   for one, will be so elated when I am able to come off of assistance that I may even buy my ole biddy (oops, I meant buddy) of a case worker a vase of flowers from the grocery store...but it will be the kind that look real pretty but don't smell so great. Kind of like the whole way this assistance has made me stinks but it helps brighten my day.

On a lighter note I just picked Massey up (at midnight) from the high school. They had an away game and after working my double shift went to pick her up with "Ham" my Boxer in tow. He was so excited about the car ride that I realized even dogs suffer when you do. Sometimes they have to wait an extra day to get fed but they know it will come...eventually,  and love me even when they have to wait. The car ride was like a field trip to him and he was shaking with excitement the whole way there and the whole way back. Sometimes in life you have to take a step back and realize how truly blessed you are for even the small things. If it wasn't for  small would you even know what   "Big" things are?

Til next time...going to bed and getting up to do  it all again. Massey has to be at the school at 9:00... I have to be at work at 10:30 AM and work til 10:30 PM when I pick her up from her first competition.

At least MY big competition is behind me and I am just letting the chips fall where they may. I am going so gray and losing more weight along the way but it is always nice to be skinny when you are a woman. It is time for me to take a step back, count my blessings instead of my gray hairs and focus on tomorrow. It gets better every day ...sometimes it is just hard to remind yourself  of that.

 I just need to shake my head to wake up that little hamster  in the wheel of my brain. I think I'll name him "CAN DO."

WHEW!!   It will all work out and I am almost convinced that it will.

I truly believe  God has given me the ultimate Final Exam and I am almost through with it. How much ya wanna bet I "ACE" it?

Call me the "Teacher's Pet" because I feel like I am!