I look for signs

ELVIS

I like to talk to Elvis.

He says, “Hey, Pretty Mama,” and I walk on over.

He knows I look for signs, and he is so kind to tell me everything I need to know for my current situation. He even includes my lucky numbers, though I’ve never tried playing them in the lottery or using them to bet on a horse.

I bet you’re probably thinking, “Hey, Elvis has gone on. How can it be that he talks to YOU?”

THIS Elvis, just one of the many forms of Elvi that can be found on Lower Broadway in Nashville, is a robotic half man that sits in a glass box.

He calls out to tourists, who, in turn, give him exactly what he’s looking for–a crisp dollar bill.

He kindly gives them a fortune, printed on yellow paper with the consistency of cardstock that has been run through the wash and then dried.

Anyhoo, Elvis knows all and tells all to those who look for signs.

I have never been to a living, breathing fortune teller, at least not one acting in the capacity of fortune teller. I don’t consult the Farmer’s Almanac. I’m not into tarot, and I can’t read tea leaves–though I do enjoy a lovely cup of tea.

The spirit world is a very dangerous place for those of us who have been forbidden to peek behind the veil.

I also don’t advise asking God a question and then flipping open the Bible to find the answer. I don’t think we can command God to do anything, but we can pray.

God  chooses to do for us in a way he sees fit. That’s why believers walk in faith. A person has to be of great courage to walk in faith because only a strong person can release total control.

I’m working on it.

But I do enjoy looking for signs or at least being ready for them should they appear.

I like seeing a shooting star and then making a wish. That’s the whimsical part of me.

I like analyzing dreams. Sometimes mine have come true! Sometimes I have dreamed things about other people’s lives. I don’t intentionally try to do that. It just happens. I guess God chooses to reveal what he needs me to know. I don’t always understand, but maybe someday I will.

Sometimes what I dream is simply Teresa trying to talk to Teresa in a way she can understand. (Sorry about the third person, but that’s the only way I can think to say it.) I take in the info. My brain swirls it around, and then it sends it back to me in a dream. As I analyze it, I figure out what I’m hiding from myself.

Last night I had a nightmare about a hospital going up in flames. I certainly hope that one doesn’t come true.

A week ago I dreamed that students were now in charge of teachers’ health care. Instead of going to the doctor, we teachers had to go to the school guidance office. A student would be chosen to diagnose and treat our illnesses. Wait a minute! That sounds an awful lot like what’s happening in education today. Students DO determine our well being. If they don’t pass the tests, we fail.

Again, I digress. Let’s get back to Elvis.

I like looking for meaning in unexpected places and things. I like poetry. I like song lyrics. I like books that are allegorical.

But mostly, I like Elvis.

I have a very small purse. It’s filled with ID cards and discount cards, not much cash, and a whole lot of yellow cards from Elvis. I don’t know why I keep them. I mean, Elvis’s words of wisdom only count for the moment. I don’t think I can pull one from random and apply the advice to today if Elvis gave me the card two years ago. Can I?

Can I recycle a fortune? Let’s see if it works. Here we go: Random Elvis card, drawn from my wallet.

Elvis says, ” Unexpected wealth will arrive. Remember he is richest, who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature. Although you may look for riches, realize that wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. When riches come, do not forget that man’s true wealth is the good he does in the world. So, when opportunity knocks, grab it. It is easy at any moment to resign the great fortune, to acquire it is difficult and arduous.”

Does this mean that I’m about to get a whole lot of nothing?

What does that mean?

I’ll take a whole lot of nothing, if something refers to trouble, drama, and stress. I’ll take not having many wants. I’ll take being content, happy, and satisfied.

Maybe it means I should grab every opportunity to build my fortune by doing what good I can do.

Then again, this is a “recycled” fortune. Perhaps I should look back and count my blessings, and a person can’t do too much good, now or later.

Maybe, I should head to Nashville and take a trip to the Legends corner. Elvis is waiting for me in a glass box.

He’ll say, “Hey, pretty mama,” and I’ll say, “Oh, you ain’t nothing but a hound dog. I bet you say that to all the girls.”

I’ll slip him a crisp dollar bill, and he’ll give me more words to fill my wallet.

 

 

 

Things I WON’T do in 2014: my anti-resolution list

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Almost all the New Year’s Resolutions I read are lists of things people WILL do in 2014. I don’t like being like everyone else. So here is what I will NOT do.

  1. I will NOT be a vindictive person.
  2. I will NOT give in to comfort food when I feel sad.
  3. I will NOT give up writing.
  4. I will NOT change who I am for anybody.
  5. I will NOT allow people to take advantage of my naivety.
  6. I will NOT stop loving my students.
  7. I will NOT coast when it comes to my jobs—100% or nothing.
  8. I will NOT be ashamed of my spiritual beliefs.
  9. I will NOT place religion above relationship.
  10. I will NOT stop dreaming of going to Ireland.
  11. I will NOT stop looking for adventure.
  12. I will NOT grow weary of doing good.
  13. I will NOT make hasty judgments about people’s actions.
  14. I will NOT give up on love.

That’s it. Your turn. What will you NOT do in 2014?

1000 Words, Take Two

1000 Words Take Two

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I have never been to the place where this picture was taken. More than anything this picture reminds me of a snapshot from a dream.

The cable car is ascending, so perhaps the passengers are making their way to their destination. The past looks deserted. The present is filled with motion, and the future is yet to come. How do I know? More steps. More climbing. More ascending. Upward. Onward.

Not there yet.

Dreams mean something to me. Sometimes I think my subconscious is talking to me. Sometimes I know God is speaking to me. The colors of my dreams offer clues to interpretation.

This photo is much like the mysterious dreams I’ve had. There isn’t much color, so I can’t decipher the good from the bad. When I dream in vivid color, I am at the peak of my creativity. When I dream in black and white, I feel as though an omen has lit upon me.

I’ve had three types of recurring dreams: my Idaho Customs House dreams, the bathroom dreams, and the cityscape dreams.

For a year or more, I used to dream of a Customs House in Idaho. Week after week. Day after day. And then the dreams stopped. To this day, I have no idea why I dreamed about this place. As far as I know, it does not exist. Why Idaho? Why a Customs House?

I’ve never been to Idaho. But the video that played in my mind was accurate. Beautiful. Well, as much of the Idaho scenery as I could see. In my dreams I was always on the inside looking outward—somewhat of a twist on the outside looking in scenario that might color most people’s dreams.

The Customs House itself was a busy place, lots of hustle bustle. It was old and wooden. I remember everything being brown, but it was a comforting shade of brown, warm, inviting. I always felt as though I had stepped back in time when I entered the Customs House. Truth be told, prior to having this dream, I really didn’t know what a Customs House was. I had to look it up.

A customs house, or custom house, is a building that houses the offices of government officials who process the paperwork for goods going in or out of a country.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a customs house. I passed by The Custom House in Salem, Massachusetts, and without knowing it, I have driven by the one on Broadway in Nashville at least a zillion times.

But the Customs House in my dreams looks nothing like what I’ve seen in pictures. And to this day I don’t know why I spent so many nights thinking about it.

As for the bathroom dreams, I’m embarrassed to say I still have them. But who wants to talk about bathroom dreams? Who wants to have bathroom dreams?

My bathroom dreams are always dark, as if I have walked into a partially lit room. But over and over—it’s never the SAME bathroom—I dream that I am in a bathroom in an abandoned building. It’s eerie. Nothing bad ever happens. I just find myself wandering in a cold place, looking for something. I never know what it is.

Psychologists would tell me that I am suppressing emotions that I need to release. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not something I prefer to dwell on. Ewwww.

And then there is the cityscape dreams. These dreams are a combination of the Customs House and the bathroom dreams. I have traveled through New York City a couple of times at night. I remember riding on a multi-level bridge. I couldn’t see much around me as it was dark. I do remember seeing the water and the apartment buildings, side by side, one after another. I felt small in such a big space, scared, alone, as if danger I could not see was close by my side.

My cityscape dreams are similar to my New York City trips—dark, foreboding, mysterious. In these dreams I’m lost and looking for my way out. Sometimes I’m being chased.

When I look at the picture above, I feel as though I have stepped into a dream. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know the people. I can’t understand their emotions. As I look closely at the photo, I admire the mystique of the mosaic steps, but I can’t help but notice that the patterns of the rock resemble the scales of a snake.

The climb is so steep. How easy would it be to fall backwards and keep going?

Why is the cable car so narrow? Why are there only a few people outside it? Are they waiting to board? Could the cable car represent the passage from this life to the next? Could the people who are embracing be saying their final goodbyes?

A picture is truly worth a thousand words, but in this case it has inspired 834.

Need inspiration for your writing? Check out WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge. Let this photo inspire you to write a thousand words, more or less.

Vicarious

When I was a little kid, I believed I could do anything.

I wanted a pony, and I didn’t depend on Santa to bring it. I devised a plan myself. I saved my pennies in a glass jar. I listened to the Swap and Shop program on WMSR radio, and when a farmer advertised his pony for sale, I called him.

I interrogated him over the phone. I decided he had what I wanted, and I asked him to deliver it to my grandparents’ house. And that he did in a old pick-up truck. I paid him the $25 I had saved, and I had my pony. I think I was in second grade.

What I didn’t realize is how much that pony would cost. My dad traded his shotgun for a new saddle, and they paid my grandparent’s neighbor for boarding. I also didn’t figure on old Jerry, my pony’s name, to be a mean son of gun. The first day I got him I sat proudly on his back while he was tethered in my grandparents’ front yard.

My silly uncle teased me by neighing like a horse, and for no good reason at all Jerry bucked me off in front of my entire family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents. I was humiliated. But my grandfather talked me into getting back on again, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.

Jerry didn’t stay around too long, but my little pony experience taught me never to stop believing dreams can true.

I miss being a little kid. When we’re little kids, time has no meaning. Life seems to go on forever, and the only thing about time we dreaded was bedtime. But the next day provided another opportunity for adventure.

When you’re a little kid, you can play and pretend and be anything you want to be. When you fall down, scrape your knee, or getting thrown by a horse, there’s usually someone there to pick you up again.

But when we grow up, recess goes away. There’s no time to pretend. No time to play. No time to think our own thoughts. Everyone says, “No you can’t,” and we stop believing we can.

Last night I saw a beautiful sight. My twelve year old was sprawled on my bed reading The Hunger Games. I didn’t force him to read. He asked me to buy the book. I didn’t beg him to read. He sneaked away by himself and took the initiative.

I’m a teacher. I don’t see many young kids, especially boys, who volunteer to read anything.

I get excited when I see young people read because reading gives them a chance to be anything, do anything they want, even if they have to live vicariously through characters in the book.

I wouldn’t discourage any type of reading as long as it wasn’t moral pollution. Comic books, graphic novels, sports magazines, romance novels, etc. I like to read interviews and biographies. Why? Because I can live vicariously through the writers who interviewed the people. In addition to being a novelist in training, I’m a freelance music journalist, and I love writing about artists and their music.

When I read biographies and music magazines, I always imagine myself having a candid one on one chat with the person the story is about.

Some readers like fantasies with dragons, fairies, and all sorts of mythological creatures. Whe readers open the page, they can be on another planet, in another dimension, or in a different era. Reading takes away the “can’t” factor.

I love to read, but I really LOVE to write because I still like to believe all things are possible. I live vicariously through my characters—and so far my books and articles always have a happy ending because I CAN make it happen.

In schools across the state, children of all ages have an “I CAN” mantra. They work from bell to bell, learning one state standard after another. We push, push, push them. And that’s great. We want them to learn.

But I wish they a little more time to pretend again, to play, to imagine, to read for pleasure, to live vicariously through the characters, to believe they CAN do what everyone else says is impossible.

If my dreams do come true, I want to reach the kids who don’t believe they can any more. I want them to take a recess, open their imaginations, dream a dream and believe it CAN come true.

I may have unrealistic expectations, but I still believe in happy endings.

Éirinn go brách

Ever since I can remember I’ve always been in love with all things Ireland. For the last two days I’ve searched my memories, wondering why. Why am I so fascinated with a country to which I’ve never been?

Surely, my dad is responsible for the influence. Before the Red Sox finally won the championship after seven or so decades, people used to ask me why a Southern girl like me could be so hopelessly in love with a team from “up there,” Boston. My dad loved Boston, and therefore so do I.

I always hoped I could take my father to a Red Sox game. I doubted he’d ever make it to Fenway, but I crossed my fingers for Atlanta. It never happened. When I was pregnant with Michael, I traveled to Boston just about this same time of year, determined to put my feet into Fenway Park, not for me but for my dad. I was determined to do whatever it took.

The first time the security guards kicked me out. This was for my dad.  I couldn’t travel all the way from Tennessee just to be told no. I was going in. If being arrested were part of the deal, so be it. But instead I pleaded with the security guard, and he let me in, and I got to see that glorious Green Monster. I stood in away and took in every detail so I could bring it home to my dad.

There is so much Irish influence in Boston. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to Ireland.

I remember planning a week in advance what I would wear to school on St. Patrick’s Day—the holiday of my people. I was determined, even as an elementary school kid, that I was Irish. The funny thing is that’s exactly what my son Michael did when he was in elementary school. He told all of his friends he was Irish. He would come home and tell me his buddies all commented on his Irish brogue, which, by far, does not exist. His Southern drawl is as Southern as they come.

I’m not embellishing the truth. Irish blood does run through my veins. My great-grandmother Clancy’s parents were born in Ireland. But I also have roots in Denmark. My other great-grandmother immigrated from there.

I think all writers need a magical place that fuels their imagination. For me, that place is Ireland. My favorite place to write a couple of years ago was a coffee house called the Celtic Cup in a nearby town. I used to take my laptop and sip on a peppermint mocha while Irish music and lush Irish scenery played on the flat screen hanging near my table.

And at Christmas a group of local musicians asked me to play Celtic Christmas music with them. I’m not so great at guitar, but I loved the music. I was enchanted by it, moved by it.

I’ve always dreamed of going to Ireland, but I never really believed I would. I am afraid of heights. Therefore, I am afraid of flying. (To be more exact, I’m afraid of falling, crashing.) Therefore, I could never imagine myself on an airplane.

Oh, it’s not like I haven’t flown before. My dad worked with a man who had his pilot’s license, and he took us up in his tiny little four-seater plane. The ride was miserable. My parents kept saying, “Why don’t you look down? Look down. You’re scared, aren’t you. Look at her.” Then they laughed.

I don’t think I would have been so nervous about the whole ordeal if they hadn’t been telling me how afraid I was. Plus, the guy who was flying us failed his motorcycle test on multiple occasions. You tell me? Wouldn’t you have been a bit unnerved?

And for years, I have felt it is just not Biblical to fly in a plane. If God wanted me to fly, we would have given me wings. Right? There’s scripture to back me up—Matthew 28:20. “Lo, I am with you.” It doesn’t say anything about being up there among the clouds.

But times have changed.

I have decided that one day I will go to Ireland, even if it requires strong drink or heavy medication. I will board that plane.

Ireland is like a magnet that just pulls me toward it. Maybe it’s my destiny. But if I ever do go there, I’m not sure I’ll ever come back.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!
~ Irish Blessing

Half over or half yet begun?

So exactly half the year is over. What ten things do you want to do before the calendar reads 2012? (Thanks, Plinky.com, for the prompt idea.)

Honestly, to start out, I’d just like to know where I’m going so I can try to get there. I’m an extremely driven person. I’m sitting in a parking garage right now with no place to go. I don’t like that. I want a destination and a road map.

But on a lighter note, here’s my list of The Top Ten Things I Want to Do Before 2011 is over–sans writing. I’ll leave that up to what God says. We’re still talking.

1. Read for pleasure. I want to read ten books before school starts. I never get to read when school is in session.

2. Put lights up on my patio. If I could bring a beach to my backyard, I’d add that too. Nothing says relaxation better than lights reflecting off the water with music playing in the background. Ahhhh.

3. Find a nice rich person to invest in my dream of opening a music venue on the square in Manchester. We already have a nice coffee shop and some restaurants. Now all we need is song. Hey, it’s a long shot, but I can dream. Can’t I?

4. Trade automobiles. Fat chance. But if I’m dreaming, I’ll take a Dodge Challenger, black with pin stripes. Wait a minute—I’m dreaming. Make it a 69 Camaro SS black with pin stripes. That’s better.

5. Go on an adventure with my camera. I think I’d like to shoot in black and white, preferably in Memphis, maybe in New Orleans.

6. Paint on canvas. (If only I could paint like Debra Hurd!)

7. Find the place where we’re supposed to serve.

8. Go to Memphis and eat ribs at the Rendevous.

9. Eat ribs at The Shed Barbeque and Blues Joint.

10. Write 20 songs. (Already in progress, ty teach.)

And because it’s my Plinky 11, I’ll add one more:

11. Perform at least one of them. Yeah, right.

What do YOU want to do with your last half of 2011?