Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Things About Me...

My friends on Facebook have been tagging me on their lists of 25 things about themselves. I got to thinking about which 25 things I would tell friends or perfect strangers about me. People who know me often utter the letters "TMI", as in too much information, when I get going - so beware. But here are the 25 things I chose:

1. I realize a little more every day that Steve is the PERFECT spouse for me. We both lean heavily to the odd side.

2. People who bash public schools, yet have never taught in one, make me mad.

3. I love reading and watching movies, probably because escapism is my coping mechanism for stress.

4. I start every day with a giant cup of strongly brewed Starbuck's Italian Roast Coffee with two tablespoons of Fat Free Hazelnut creamer. I thrive on routine and I have this pesky little stomach issue that makes it necessary...

5. I blog, but really want to write a novel and have some pretty good ideas for one or two.

6. I use ellipses (...) way too much in my writing.

7. I can make fun of my family, but I don't recommend anybody else doing it in my hearing range.

8. I love yoga and my favorite pose is crow - balancing your entire body on your arms between the elbow and armpit is quite a rush.

9. Drama makes me gag and I have very little patience for it.

10. I've been to Mexico, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Israel, Brazil, and Venezuela and feel like a complete homebody compared to my hubby who travels the world for business and is on his 3rd set of passport page inserts.

11. I get to go to France and Belize this year. France with Steve and Brendan and Belize with our youth group. For the first time, I am going someplace Steve has never been.

12. I love my job - teaching literature and writing to 13 and 14 year olds - who, by the way, are fabulous human beings. If you cringe at the word "teenager" you might want to try spending some time with one. They don't bite and are actually quite entertaining.

13. I've become obsessed with planning my funeral lately. I have a few pictures chosen since I want to be cremated so nobody will stare at my formaldehyde pumped corpse (plus Pippin Galloway is the only person I would trust to pick out my outfit and on the off chance she isn't available, I'll avoid the scenario completely). And I think I've decided on whoopie cushions as party favors.

14. If you fart, talk about poop or make a comment that could be taken another way, I will giggle, laugh or blow snot out of my nose trying not to.

15. I can eat an entire jar of olives and then drink the juice. Then see #14...

16. I am the oldest sibling and I have two sisters and a brother. I am the only one who lives more than 10 miles away from my parents. Make that 300 miles.

17. I think my children are brilliant and adorable and I would appreciate it if everyone else nodded and smiled when I talk about them even if they disagree.

18. I am a horrible photographer, but I love to scrapbook so I take lots of pictures to make up for the quality of them.

19. I love to cook, but mainly to watch other people enjoying what I made. If all three of my boys like dinner, I am a happy girl - even if it looks like a tsunami is going to be the only way to get the kitchen clean.

20. People who are uneducated by choice make me furious. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, but watch the news or crack open a newspaper every once in a while.

21. I have the most amazing group of friends who are truly like family to me since I am away from my own. I need more than 2 hands to count the number of people I could call in the middle of the night in an emergency. And I hope they know they can call me too!

22. I hate that Christians sometimes give God a bad name. At our best we are only a poor reflection of his glory.

23. I'm a big picture girl, so I have a hard time getting caught up in the little everyday details which sometimes makes me seem calloused, uncaring or unconcerned. When really, I'm just waiting for the big picture to unfold so I can see how all the little stuff really fits in.

24. I think cancer sucks.

25. I went to 4 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 2 high schools and I really hope I don't have to do that to my kids, because it was really hard for me. But I understand why my parents had to and I can see blessings along the way.

Wake up. Sponge the drool off of your keyboard and scrape the sleep crust from your eyes. It was cathartic for me...

Friday, January 23, 2009


When faced with our own mortality, we all choose to cope differently. My mom quilts any piece of fabric that is not nailed down. My father polishes the earth and everything in it to a spic-and-span, Clorox bleach scented state of cleanliness. I grocery shop and cook. Chopping vegetables is what coaxes me off of the mental ledge. Maybe because there's a goal. Maybe because you can see progress being made. Or maybe because once in a while Bryant grins over the dinner table and says, "Mommy, you're the best cooker EVER!" Never mind that Brendan is right beside him dissecting dinner within an inch of its life, as if I secretly placed treasure or a turd in his pot roast or something.

We learned about death early in our family. My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer when I was nine. I remember seeing him shrivel up and turn a bilious shade of green while connected to all manner of tubing. He would say things to me like, "Kid, nobody should have to watch an old man die like this." This was the guy who watched The Three Stooges every morning and took the first kid up to Dunkin' Donuts with him. This was the guy who supervised the renovation of the Texas State Capitol Building. This was the guy who raised my mom. From my childish mind it seems that his presence was large, his illness was short, but his absence is monumental.

My grandmother, having lived through the Great Depression, held on to all things that might have a future use. She was green before it was the cause du jour. She kept TV dinner trays and coffee cans. Once she retired coupon clipping and bargain hunting were her full time job. She was not one to be sentimental about things and DID NOT want anybody fighting over her stuff when she died. So, even before she got sick she was in the habit of passing out strips of masking tape and telling us to put our names on things we wanted when she was gone. She too was diagnosed with cancer and fought bravely for a long time. She spent her final days at home with us. In fact, she died in our home and if I close my eyes I can see her taking her final breath. My masking taped inheritance included a black wool coat, a pink bathrobe, and a 1915 dresser. When she died my mother found her stash of toilet paper that lasted our family of six for over two years.

My family, while normal on the surface, has a veritable bucketload of idiosyncrasies, quirks and downright oddities, but one thing you can say about the McHenry clan is that we're good in a crisis. So, once again, we face cancer with Neal's wife, Leah. Not grandparents who have worked, raised, families, retired and then fallen ill, but a 30-year old mom of four. I do not doubt that God can miraculously save her, but I struggle with the knowledge that he doesn't always choose to. And none of the crap about everything happening for a reason is going to make any of this sit any better or keep Susan from quilting, Jay from cleaning, Neal from crying, or Leah from dying and leaving those four precious babies and my brother behind.

I have begun lately to think about when it's my time to go. I've chosen pictures for the funeral. I've recently started looking for a collection of little boxes. You see, I want to be cremated and my ashes spread all over the globe - Egypt, Israel, Brazil, Austria - all the places I've been to and loved or someday hope to see. And being transported all over the globe in a snack-size baggie is just not going to work for me. I've also been scrapbooking like a mad woman to leave a legacy for my kids. The boys have strict instructions that these albums are never to be thrown away and any wife who even thinks about it will be haunted by me for all eternity. Morbid thinking? Maybe, but we all cope with mortality in our own ways.