Monday, December 29, 2008


A new year and my birthday are both looming on the horizon. I can always remember how old I am because the Superbowl and I are the same age.

When I was about four months pregnant with Zachary, I looked at my sideways profile in the mirror and tried to imagine what it would be like with my belly stretched tight, full of baby. I thought the day would never come. Then, when the day did come, I felt like I'd been pregnant forever and would forever be pregnant.

The morning they induced me, I looked at my sideways profile in the mirror, patted my tight belly and told my baby I would miss the two of us together that way. Now he's almost 24. Older than I was when I had his little brother.

These days when I look at my sideways profile in the mirror, I imagine it's about time to stop drinking so much beer.

What? It could happen.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hero is a four-letter word

I had a great Christmas and a very sick husband for a few days. I wish I had something insightful to say about all of that, but insightfulness has left the building.

Tomorrow starts a new work week. My kids are home and I wish I could stay home with them. (And the aforementioned recovering husband.)

But I can't.

Apparently, there are people in the world who need me to ask if they need help finding anything and to ring up their purchases.

Yay me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fleeting Moments

I was at the mall today with my 8 year-old daughter, Savannah. We never go there because the mall is a good 30 minute drive from our town and we usually don't have money for casual shopping. I forget how fast time flies for me but goes by slowly for the kids. To me, it hasn't been that long since we were there, but for Savannah it's one of the few times she's been there her whole life.

We walked through quickly and she had a happy look on her face the whole time. She chatted with me while we stood in line at Sears and it made me realize how young she is and how I'm missing this time that will never come again because I'm too busy.

On the floor below us there was a long line of kids waiting to get their picture taken with Santa. Savannah talked about how long it was and how long it would take to stand in it and how expensive it would be. I asked her if we had more time would she want her picture taken with Santa. She said no, she was getting too big for that. I'm not sure if she really felt that way or if she was trying to be brave.

I love that she still looks at me with love and trust and fondness. She still holds my hand through the stores and believes I'm the mom and I know what's best for her. Katie doesn't look at me that way anymore.

This Christmas Savannah still believes in Santa and the Tooth Fairy and me.

I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

M is for Morass - and who wouldn't love morass?

I keep sitting here on my days off, fingers poised over the keyboard, knowing I have to try to make something work writing-wise, and nothing happens.

I don't know what to write. I'm frozen. Stuck. Without direction.

There are at least 1,473 beginnings of stories on my computer, and nothing finished. My family and friends have been waiting most of my life for me to realize my potential. And I don't know what the hell it is.

Joseph, my 11 year-old son, told me yesterday that he thinks people should find what they're good at and make that their career. Then he added that I'm good at everything I do. Pretty to think.

Scary to realize my kids are witnessing my mess, and paying attention.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just an observation

You know what my favorite thing is?

When someone says, "I read something interesting today," and then takes a few gigantic bites of food.

That's a cool feeling.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And just slightly over minimum wage

Well, I've been working all weekend. I am t-i-r-e-d. In the immortal words of my good friend, Nic, "My feet hurt all the way up to my ass." True that.

I often wonder what my tenure at Walgreens is supposed to be accomplishing in my life. I stand for long hours at a time. I put new sales tags up and rip old ones down, week after week. I unload crates of merchandise and stock shelves. I repeat phrases over and over again like, "Is there something I can help you find?" and "When you're ready to check out, I can ring you up right here in cosmetics with no wait." Really deep stuff.

In the last two days I've met a retired paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne who served in Vietnam from 1960 to 1968 (in the Navy, Marines, and finally the Army 82nd), a 95 year-old man who was surprised to have lived for so long, and the foster mom of a three month-old crack-baby suffering from horrible colic. I've helped a middle-aged man find fragrance sets for his entire family (two kids in college, his son's girlfriend, his daughter and his wife), an old lady pick out nail polish colors "young people would like," and a young lady pick out a gift for her 87 year-old grandmother.

I have been flirted with, condescended to, snapped at and ignored. I have been thanked, blessed, smiled at and appreciated.

It's not just a job. It's an adventure.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow White

So much for posting every day...

In my defense, it has been a thrilling last couple of days. I've been working nights, which sucks, from 4 to 10. Just enough time to make as little money as possible and still not get to see my kids. But on Wednesday night while I was at work, it started snowing! It was beautiful.

I thought it would just be for a few minutes, but it kept snowing and snowing until finally, by the time I got off work to head home, the ground and cars and bushes and trees were covered in about two inches of white, powdery snow. When I got in my car it felt like I was in a cave because the thick layer of snow insulated everything. I rolled down my window to shake it off and a ledge of snow fell onto my front seat. Not too smart. I laughed and dusted it off and for the first time in my life, I drove home with three inches of snow on my hood and big, fat snowflakes coming straight at me.

My neighborhood looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting when I got home. Dalton was gone on an MVA call, (motor/vehicle accident), but was already wrapping things up and would be home soon. Natthan met me in the kitchen and I made him come outside and look, then I grabbed a handful of snow off the hood of my car and hit him with it. We threw some snowballs at each other and ran inside to wake up the kids. Joe came out of his room wrapped in a blanket and came outside with us to see; when we started pelting him with snow, he ran in to change and we got Savannah out of bed. Katie came out for a few minutes, but then she was content to raise her bedroom window and take pictures from inside.

By the time Dalt got home, we were in full snowplay. The boys were rolling a gigantic snowman and I had a stockpile of snowballs ready to pelt him. We ended up playing in the snow 'til after midnight and I let the kids stay home yesterday.

My drive to work yesterday morning was... incredible. Snow still covered everything. The sun was bright and the sky was blue and even the ugliest landmark looked beautiful under a regal white blanket. My drive takes me down a wooded country lane and it was absolutely magical, all frosty and sparkly.

By 9:30, the snow was gone like it had never happened. But it did. I have pictures and memories to prove it. And a few snowballs still in the freezer.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mommy Dearest

There's a girl at work who's a long story I don't feel like telling right now, so I'll try to give you the Reader's Digest condensed version.

Her mom has drifted in and out of my life since we were in second grade together. I first met this young lady when she was a newborn baby, then again when she was about three and had a new little brother. She was precious and starved for affection and approval. I didn't see her again until she was 15 or 16, then again when I attended her baby shower when she was 17. She's 21 now, a single mom with a 4 year-old daughter. In a turn of events that could only have been engineered by God, she helped get me the job at Walgreens and we work together in the cosmetics department - in fact, as the Senior Beauty Adviser, she's kind of my boss.

Ironic doesn't quite cover this one.

She is a big woman, about 5'9, and weighs about 310. She would be above-average pretty if she'd ever get the scowl off her face, and has beautiful, thick chestnut brown hair she keeps tied up in a messy knot on her head. She is bitter and angry and lives for drama, which she keeps stirred up constantly by eavesdropping and gossiping. She bustles around in a pretense of busyness and surrounds herself with a shield of bad attitude. In the one honest moment we've had together, I asked her if she missed her friends from Dallas (after living in Dallas for about 11 years, she and her mom moved back last spring). She looked at me with big brown sad eyes and said, "I don't have any friends. And I don't know why."

She honestly doesn't get it.

The point to all this is that she blames her misery on her mother. Every woman, sooner or later, comes to the day where she thinks everything that is bad in her life is because her mom screwed up raising her. It occurs during that time in life when we've lived long enough to be sure that we know everything, but not long enough to see that we don't know anything and most of what we do know is wrong.

The kick in the pants is the day we see the mistakes we've made as moms, and realize nobody's perfect. We're all just doing the best we can. We may not screw up the way our moms did, but we make a whole new mess of things. And when our kids grow up, they may not make the same mistakes we did, but they'll screw up, too.

At some point, we'll all get to the day where we don't blame anybody anymore. And hope when the blame comes our way, the grace we give to our moms comes back to rest on us.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lost and found, kind of

We had the fire department banquet last night. It was pretty fun. The food was really good (I had fried shrimp and a huge baked potato), and Dalt won the most runs made over the year. Woo-hoo!

On the way home we stopped at Walmart for a few necessities. Dalton had to go to the bathroom when we were leaving, so he gave me the keys and said he'd meet me at the car. No problem, right? Except when I got out to the parking lot, I had absolutely no idea where we'd parked. We're talking zero-blanko, nothing. Just me and the crickets.

People were starting to look at me funny, so I tried to act like I knew where I was going. But they knew. There's not a person on this planet who hasn't lost their car in the stupid Walmart parking lot. They were just glad it was me this time and not them.

I wandered around for a while until Dalt finally came out and found me. I was so relieved. Finally, somebody to rescue me from wandering 40 years in the desert, er, Walmart parking lot. His face was such a welcome sight! I turned the cart and headed his way. He walked toward me with a reassuring, confident stride. He smiled at me, my hero, my fearless leader, my brave, strong, virile new husband. Then he said, "I have no idea where we parked, do you?"


Friday, December 05, 2008


I'm sitting on the couch, under a blanket with my furry stepdog curled up beside me, sipping coffee and watching other people's problems on tv.

I wonder if there's anyone in the world right now with nothing going on but sunshine and lollipops? I wonder what that would be like.

There's hot bathwater running in the other room. I love my tub.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Ultimate Gift

Wow. I just re-read yesterday's post and realized it sounded like I wasn't happy about changing my name to Mrs. Dalton Gregory. Well, disclaimer time - I am very happy and pleased with my marriage. It's the bright spot of my life right now.

Fed up with the ongoing ridiculousness of my pay and hours at Walgreens, I submitted my two week notice at work yesterday. I didn't have a back-up plan, but I figured if I put my neck on the chopping block it would be a great motivator to find something else. Except they wouldn't accept my resignation. One of the managers talked me into staying a little while longer to see if we could work something out. Yippee-skippee.

My friend Lorna (see Lorna's Blog on sidebar) says she's not going to put up Christmas decorations this year because she doesn't have a husband and kids around and really doesn't feel like it, which is perfectly fine of course, but it got me thinking: If I were living alone, would I still decorate? It's kind of like that philosophy question, If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Well, the tree still makes a sound, and I discovered that I would still decorate.

Working in retail and being super-saturated with all of the holiday merchandising could easily have caused me to become overwhelmed with the emptiness of it all, but instead it has served as an eye opener. Make of the holidays what you will, but I choose to see it as an opportunity to celebrate for four weeks what God has done for us. He has given us the ultimate Gift, hurray!!!

Let's wear jingly bells and have beautiful evergreens in our house and sing songs and enjoy each other!

Or, we can spend too much, focus on what we think everybody expects, and get miserable and exhausted.

Either way, it's our choice.

Stores are no more responsible for the over-commercialization of Christmas than guns are for killing people. Either one can be used as a useful tool or a weapon of misery. It depends on the person using them.

But I digress.

My point is this: Perception is everything. I am going to have a wonderful holiday season this year because I'm going to take the opportunity to use it as a reminder of the best gift I've ever been given. Unconditional love and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ, my Savior.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I went shopping yesterday with my mom and sister Terri and new daughter-in-law, Ali. We had a nice time - I loved seeing everybody - but I have very little patience with anybody these days, and it makes me feel really crappy.

My mom is getting older, so I should just smile and nod and go along with listening to the same story she's told me a hundred and fifty times, but I end up cutting her off and telling her she's already told me that. She bitches about not having any money, losing her teeth and looking old, so all I want to do is tell her, "Then quit smoking." But I've tried that angle before and it only starts a fight, so I just let her talk. She insists on rehashing old grievances, especially about my ex, with Ali sitting right there, and puts everybody down all the time - I just can't stand it. It's exhausting and it gives me a headache.

I also, inevitably, spend money on stupid crap I shouldn't when I'm with her because that's what she does.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep for hours because I feel like such a bitch. Mom being old reminds me that I'm getting old, and it depresses the crap out of me because I feel like I'm headed for the same end. Except I won't have any money because I never got an education and I'm 42 fricking years old working at WALGREENS for $7.75 an hour. And I'm not getting to be with my kids because I have to work nights!!! So they are going to be grown and gone with memories of vegging out in front of their tv's, stuck in their rooms, eating macaroni and cheese every night alone.

On a more positive note, I went to the social security office yesterday and officially had my name changed to Cassie Gregory.

Yay me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Parenting is not for sissies

And that's all I have to say about that.