Friday, June 27, 2014

Theory 47: Chunky girls need love songs, too, especially in the summertime. (So I wrote one.)

In last week’s post, Theory 46: The perfect summer is almost free. Ask any redneck—like me! I illustrated the ideal summer of inexpensive, happy, outdoor times. Summer should be carefree, but for most women, summer also brings an embarrassing, hard to avoid circumstance that causes us great anxiety and self-hatred.

We have to wear underwear in public. Swimsuits. Yuck.

Delicious once stated, quite profoundly, that she looks better naked than she does in a swimsuit. I don’t know about naked, but I do look better in my underwear than I do in a swimsuit. Why? Because my bras are designed with suspension engineering, volume control, orthopedic support, and coverage. In a swimsuit, I feel droopy and exposed.

I lose and gain the SAME three pounds every stinking week. The schedule typically works like this:

Monday - I get motivated and go “low-carb” and drop the pounds by Thursday.
Thursday – I get cocky. I eat some bread.
Friday/Saturday/Sunday – I get loose. Agape Agave, Flower Child, Smokin’ Scrubs, and “Elaine” text up a trip to El Charro.
Monday – I beat myself up and start all over.

It’s also strange to me that whenever I sit, scrunched over in a beach chair, sweating like a chubby piccolo player at band camp in August, in my skirtankini, and watch fit young girls with 5% body fat frolic freely in the ocean, I get sooooo hungry. What the helk is that all about?

Don’t you think it’s interesting that we women know EXACTLY HOW to lose weight, but we just can’t follow through? Why is that? I ponder a few potential reasons…

  • Our husbands want us thin, so we rebel.
  • We actually love ourselves and like to treat ourselves with wine, onion dip, and milkshakes.
  • Eating too much is a secondary concern compared to the usual daily issues we face: menopause, PMS, pregnancy, infertility, serving on committees, fighting addictions (ours and other folks’), helping children with Common Core schoolwork, caring for aging parents, getting new degrees in old age, fighting the urge to run away.
  • STRESS from ridiculous primary and secondary work stress.
  • We have tooooooooo much to dooooooooo.
  • We need sister wives to help with all those to-do’s so we can plan better meals and exercise, but sister wives are taboo.
  • We watch so many zombie shows that we eat as much as we can now because we subconsciously believe one day we we’ll be stabbing our undead neighbors in their foreheads to gain access to their dusty apocalyptic pantries.

By the way, all you ,magazines and TV shows, please stop telling me I need to sleep more, drink 10,000 ounces of water each day, and exercise.

I can’t sleep because Gnome won’t go to sleep. He watches golf, in my bed, while I read textbooks (gag), until 11:00 p.m. That is THE BEST I can do right now. I get up at 6:00 a.m. in the summer (5:00 a.m. in the school year) to work, write, and think….alone. Alone! Leave me alone about my sleep situation!

I can’t drink water because water sucks. It literally has no taste. If you magazine and TV people can improve water, I'll give it a shot.

I can’t exercise because I would have to get up at 4:00 a.m. or go to bed at midnight. You tell me I need sleep. Do the math. Impossible. Plus, when you exercise you need to stay hydrated with water. And, again, water sucks.

~ ~ ~

Okay folks, I am throwing in the beach towel and embracing my three pounds. I think I’ll even name them. Hmmmm. What would be most appropriate for three pudgy friends that show up every weekend? Perhaps I should name them after their lineage. Sure!

Pound 1: Mayfield (as in onion dip and ice cream)
Pound 2: Bota (as in Box)
Pound 3: Jose (as in my favorite waiter at El Charro)

By the way, I don't need to lose ONLY three pounds. Mayfield, Bota, and Jose have friends. Trust me.

Who can (or should) resist the ice cream truck?

I do need to lose all these "friends" before my breast reduction surgery so I don’t leave the hospital looking like a snowman. Whatever. I guess I'll starting the Monday that school starts in late July. Until then, I am calling this summer the “Summer of Onion Dip.” I'm going to live, and eat, and pray. Did I just plagiarize or do other women feel this way, too? Sugar, butter, wine, salt: BRING IT ON!

This is livin'.

To encourage all of you less than svelte ladies who must wear underwear in public this summer, and worse, like me, must wear underwear in public while chasing toddlers, I have re-written a song to hopefully make you feel loved. I chose the Luke Bryan song, “Country Girl Shake it for Me” because Agape Agave (a massage therapist) actually got to work on him, so naturally we are good friends – indirectly – so I think he’ll forgive me. Also, he is LOADED $$$ and won’t bother to sue public schoolteacher me. Also, he is People Magazine’s 2014 “Sexiest Man” in country music.

I strongly suggest you listen to the real song a couple of times before you read/sing my lyrics. That way you’ll know the tune. And get to see Luke Bryan. Here’s the link:

Chunky Girl Shake it for Me” 
– satirized by Bug, dedicated to every self-conscious woman ever.

Hey girl. Go on now.
You know you've got everybody looking.

Got a little donk in your big white truck,
Take off your swim skirt; don’t cover that up!
Stomp your size nine boots in the Georgia mud
Dip that chip; make me fall in love

Get up on the hood of my tractor, that’s hot!
Be careful, don’t trip, you’ll need a tetanus shot.
We can’t drive to the after hours clinic with a buzz,
You’d lose your teaching license. We’d have to put the pimento cheese up.
Let’s play it safe, stay here, and eat boiled peanuts.

Straddle that hood with your thunder thighs.
I’ll turn on Dixieland Delight.
Get all parts moving, I can’t wait,
To watch you do your thing!

Shake it for the young girls dreading bikini season,
For the sexy country women out there canning and freezing,
For the Weight Watchers, Low Carb-ers, and gluten-dodgers,
We know they ain't having fun.
Shake it for the Cross-Fitters who never enjoy a cone,
For the pageant girls marching to their mothers' drones,
For the teenagers building their self-esteem.
For the fat band geeks. Helk, they’re living the dream!

Chunky girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me
Chunky girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me.

Somebody's pudgy little pretty child,
Met a Little Debbie, got a bit double-wide.
You know how to live, you know how to fry.
Rope me in with your custard pie.

So come on over here and crank this arm
Spin me and this rock salt with your buttery charms
You could be the woman of my dreams,
Let’s make some chunky loving and homemade ice cream.
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Shake it for the young girls dreading bikini season,
For the sexy country women out there canning and freezing,
For the Weight Watchers, Low Carb-ers, and gluten-dodgers,
We know they ain't having fun.
Shake it for the Cross-Fitters who never enjoy a cone,
For the pageant girls marching to their mothers' drones,
For the teenagers building their self-esteem.
For the fat band geeks. Helk, they’re living the dream!

Chunky girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me
Chunky girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me

~ ~ ~

Readers, for the love of summer, have fun. Don’t be unhealthy, but please drop the self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-sabotaging baggage. Start your diets in the fall (or never), and LIVE! Think of your BEST friends’ attitudes toward you. Have the same attitude toward yourself that your friends who love you have toward you! And remember, fat floats. Ha!

Cheers to a great summer!

 Find and friend me on social media! And answer this question: What is your #1 guilty pleasure in the summertime?

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Theory 46: The perfect summer is almost free. Ask any redneck—like me!

One afternoon this week, I pulled Big Red into the Pilot on Northshore Drive (Knoxville, you know, the scary and friendly Pilot where SUVs from the ‘919 maneuver like Chinese puzzle pieces and purchase morning coffee from sweet cashiers?) to gas up for a little road trip to Townsend, TN. As I was about to pull out, I spotted a beautiful scene. A scene that screamed “summer.” A scene that I’m pretty sure even made Big Red smile. I watched a good old country boy, wearing a wife-beater t-shirt, sunglasses on a rubber rope, and a late June caramel tan, dump 12 cans of Natural Light and 10 pound bag of ice in the cooler that sat on his open tailgate. Headed to the lake? Fishing? “Cruising on a dirt road?” I’m mad that I didn’t take a better picture! I thought about asking him to pose, but, again, I had to get out of that Pilot puzzle alive, so I just snapped one out the window. He made my day. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a chunky little boy, maybe 10 years old, literally DANCING as he waited for an ice cream at Brewster’s. He made my day. My hydrangeas bloomed a piercing, cotton candy blue last week. They made my day.

Oh, helk, yeah!

 Ask any redneck, or teacher, or teacher’s child, or country boy, or ice-cream lover, or broke college student, and will tell you: The perfect summer doesn’t cost much, if you are smart and imaginative and OUTSIDE. I tossed “redneck” into the title because I lean that direction this time of year. I’m seasonal. Fall: academic. Christmas: stressed out academic. Spring: Bohemian who is tired of academia. Summer: Redneck. Redneck, by my definition, just means someone who spends lots of time outside, for a living or by choice. Think tan lines, not restaurant behavior or upbringing. Think park rangers, construction workers, road crews, the guys at the serpentarium who toss raw chicken to alligators, the mile-high teenagers directing tour-ons down water slides.

Growing up, my summers in Sevier County were awesome. “Awesome” was a big word in the 80’s at Pigeon Forge Elementary. Big Booty J, who taught there, got so sick and tired of all her children, nieces, and nephews saying “Awesome” all the time that she banned it. We needed a word. So, my genius cousin A-Boo looked it up in the thesaurus and we adopted “Wondrous.” Just as obnoxious. Ha! Anyway, once Field Day and Awards Day were over, we had long, hot summers to play hard. Silver Dollar City, which then became Dollywood, passes were affordable. Vacation Bible School was free. My cousins and I swam for nothing at the Chalet Village and Riverside Hotel pools because Pooh and Uncle Gravy worked there. We tubed and skipped rocks in the Little River in the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. Delicious and I watched Pooh fly-fish at Elkmont and Greenbrier in The Great Smoky Mountains. My Barbies threw fabulous parties in Kellum Creek on The Crippled Beagle Farm.

You haven’t had a real summer experience as a child, unless you’ve ridden in the back of a pick-up in Seale, Alabama to get an ice cream sandwich at a store whose floor is dirtier than your bare feet and your uncle’s truck’s floorboard.

Even folks who work year-round, like Tall Child, have background knowledge, permanent imprints from childhood stress-free summers of simple pleasure, that make workdays feel lighter in June, July, and August. Just last night, Tall Child and I took an 8 p.m. cruise to Cookout for chocolate milkshakes. He would NEVER do that in November.
Cousin Bags once said that her favorite thing about summer was “Cheez-Its!”

Agape Agave says her Edisto Beach trip (all women and children) tradition is to bring a giant bag of Flavor-Ice pops. For the life of me, I can’t rip those things open with my gompers. Can you? Flavor-Ice should sell safety scissors with their popsicles.

In this Theory, I want to explore what inexpensive experiences scream summer to you! I list below what I happily remember from childhood and enjoy now as a mother. I want to know your favorite summer stuff. Keep it simple and affordable for all my readers (some of whom are teenagers). For example, do NOT say “Trip to Greece.” Say, “Trip to see Grease at the drive-in on 321.”

Bug’s favorite (and inexpensive) stuff of summer---childhood to present:

Without a doubt. COUSINS from Alabama staying all summer in Tennessee!

Everything about Grandmama "Buddy" and Wimmie.

Watching my Uncle Trout kill a rattlesnake with a nine-iron.

Clothes lines.

Looking for good books in an air-conditioned public library.

Clogging or swimming or clogging while swimming (it’s possible) at the Grand Hotel in Pigeon Forge to South Star Band (headlined by cousins Moon and Baby).

Pontoon boats.

Watching Roscoe play Pac Man at Sugar Beach condos in Panama City Beach.

Making Michael Jackson “videos” with my cousins and performing them for all our parents in BBJ's basement on Douglas Lake.

Onion dip.





Eating boiled peanuts on the beach and using my toes to dig a little hole within tossing distance for the hulls.

Bass boats at the gas station.
Fishing with “night-crawlers”, which is also the nickname I gave Dogwood Debutante when she decided to use the online dating service “Plenty of Fish.” It worked. Just sayin'.

Squirting Gnome and Sharky with the garden hose.


Sliced fresh tomatoes.

Picking blackberries with Sharky and Delicious until our fingers are black with juice and polka-dotted with thorn pricks.


Frozen trout in the freezer.
Outdoor showers (hose, bucket, whatever works).

Shaving my legs with girlfriends on the back of a houseboat.

Beach towels hanging off porch railings.


Plastic swimming pools.

Hanging flower baskets.

~ ~ ~

Okay, fellow theorists, it’s your turn! But, so we can ALL enjoy your commentary, please go to either my personal Facebook page or to the Theories: Size 12 Facebook page to respond. I’ll pin a link to the blog and the question for you, “What inexpensive sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and experiences scream summer to you?” I’d especially love to hear from my northern and international readers, since my comments are typically southern.

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer

(I posted the links at the bottom, too.)

Happy summer to all of you!!! And, to all the children out there in cyberspace, on behalf of your parents and teachers, I say/yell/demand:

For the love of summer, GO OUTSIDE!!!

My FAVORITE summer country song: CLICK HERE

Images to inspire you/make you laugh/help you remember. (Summer is all about imagery, isn't it?)

Pooh and friend

Sharky cruising Norris Lake

Bug relaxing on the river

Little Bug posing by Delicious's summer blooms 

Sharky on wheels.

Tall Child on water.

Good times with friends.

Summer treat.

Sharky swinging on The Crippled Beagle Farm

Little Sharky rinsing his sandy toes.

Delicious and baby Gnome, July Fourth 2011

Happy Hydrangea!

Sharky and one of his beagles

Gnome swinging on The Crippled Beagle Farm


Farm Cruise: Gnome and Delicious

Perfect supper: Sweet tea and friend green tomatoes.

Gnome at Metcalf Bottoms
My "boys of summer"
Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post your favorite stuff of summertime!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Theory 45: Group work is funky.

Forty may be the perfect age, but College at age 40 is kicking my rear end. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago in Theory 43: A working mother can only do so much, taking nine credit hours is tough at my age with my job and family responsibilities. But, now that I've met my teachers and I've sat through student presentations on Realism, Idealism, Confucius, Plato, and Socrates, I've had my own philosophical epiphany to which many of you will relate: Theory 45: Group work is funky.

Let me clarify a bit. Group work is funky in SCHOOL.

Group work is natural and normal at, now this is crazy, ya’ll, WORK.

My first bad experience with group work (that I can remember) occurred my senior year at The University of Tennessee. A finance professor had the genius (eerily Common-Core-ish) idea to have us collaborate with art and architecture students on a massive, semester-long project. Basically, we were forced to work together on a pretend building development. The architecture students designed and constructed the buildings. The finance majors financed the thing. Ugh. My group consisted of three: Roommate and I covered financial interests and CAD (Covert Architecture Dude) took care of the building stuff. I tag him Covert because we could never find him.  What was that professor thinking? There were no cell phones back then. Email was new. My communications professor gave us extra credit if we sent him an email, for Heaven’s sake. Computers? Excel and Word were a junior level university course! In other words, that group project was completely inconvenient, over my head academically, frustrating, and socially awkward.  The roommate dynamic is challenging enough, why add schoolwork to the list of potential fight stimulants? Maybe we chose that. I can’t remember. CAD was a problem. He was an old man. Well, to Roomate and me, anyway. CAD was 25. Even weirder, he and his wife (gross) had a newborn baby. I don’t remember what it was; I just remember thinking that being married in college would suck, and being married with a baby would double-suck. Another Theory perhaps? When one of my college buddies would whine about stressful coursework or being broke or whatever, I’d always try to cheer them up by saying, “Things could be worse, you know. You could be living in married student housing.” That always put things in perspective. 

Also, we could have had/could have this as a classroom:

Little Greenbrier School in The Great Smoky Mountains

I don't know how those teachers and students coped with the weather and conditions, but that is one spectacular setting in which to learn.

Anyway, Roommate, CAD, and I struggled through that project, but not without injury. I learned that the hardest part of group work is not the workness, it’s the groupness. That was the ONLY time in college that I visited a professor in his office hours. Pooh had passed away. Delicious and I were flat broke. I figured out a way to graduate a semester early, which would save Delicious (a public school teacher and 49 year old widow at that time) an important amount of money. I’d also already gotten a job to start in January (which again would help my sweet, grieving, financially strained mama). We couldn't seem to get the project together and Roomate and I didn't really understand our part. I was scared, so, I saw the professor. I explained to him that the project was wearing me out and that I was truly worried it would keep me from passing and graduating. He said one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard a teacher say. Ever. He said, quite fatherly, “I don’t fail seniors.” Whew!

People. People make work hard. People also have the power to make work happy.

By comparison, group work at work makes perfect sense. I just wrapped up a lengthy project called “End of Course Testing” with an awesome group of women. Red Hot Back Space (my teaching colleague with whom I co-plan, co-lunch, co-llaborate, and co-harass cute male teachers), Digits (our school attendance secretary who just happens to bring an accounting degree, a seemingly photographic memory, an awesome play list, and a giant bag of candy with her, and Ticonderoga (the fabulously gifted guidance counselor who can count fast, coax co-workers, and calm a frantic ADHD tech teacher like me with one sentence or, better yet, one funny story).  That group project was one of the most complicated, logistically difficult, and high-stakes nerve-wracking I’d ever attempted, but those ladies made it fun, FUNNY, and an overall positive experience. In the end, end-of-course testing went smoothly. I did gain three pounds, though, because Ticonderoga brought cakes and cobblers every day. That reminds me of another little group that always seems to appear together: women, stress, & carbohydrates.

Someone was anxious about the tests.

So, like I said, I’m slammed this summer with coursework and, yuck, group projects. On grad school registration night, I sat with Cool Country Ginger and our exceptionally attractive 8th grade math teacher. Let’s call him Hot Math. Someone should send his Olan Mills school picture to the Ford Modeling Agency. Anyway, the moment I sat down, Cool Country Ginger whispered, “Hot Math and I are scoping out potential people we DO want or DO NOT want to work with on group projects. We don't want to get stuck with any weirdos.”

Freshman Humor

This stuff can get funky, so I have a few coping mechanisms. I either take what/who is left, or, if I have the energy, follow my personal 5 STEP Group Work Survival System:

STEP 1. Identify the people who live the farthest away so it just doesn’t make sense to meet in person.

STEP 2. Identify the person who brought a laptop to registration or the first class so he/she will likely do the technology stuff. You see, the person who puts all the PowerPoint slides together is kind of like the person who allows the baby or bridal shower to be at her house. She is an equal group member, but will do more work because you’re using her turf. I’ve also noted that MAC users are really excited about their equipment. Kind of like breast feeders. They are super eager and want you to know how awesome Macs and breast milk are, so milk it. Ha!

STEP 3. Once the group is assembled, I try to take the lead. Yes, that means more responsibility, but it also means I’m the delegate-or, not the delegate-ee.

STEP 4. This one is the most important ya’ll. I flubbed the dub on Step 4 back in college with Roommate and CAD. I know better now. Step 4 is a step I TRY to take every day in every group project. Step 4 is “Let the other members be right, even when they are wrong.” Only children can struggle with this one. I have. I am learning. I like to go on and let other folks think they are right, even when it’s obvious to me that they are wrong, because, well, because, sometimes they are RIGHT. Ha!

STEP 5. Drop the ego. Bring the snacks.

Wait a minute. Chocolate?

At this point, I’d like to give a shout-out to my LMU Post-Bacc Realism Project Group from 2009/2010. We had the perfect mix of personalities.
  • Me, Bug: I was the interpersonal glue; I injected humor at will to bond our unit. I was also creative.
  • County Boy: We grew up together. We had good history, so he trusted me. He trusted me enough that he let us put him in a fake Cialis commercial to represent Realism.
  • My dear colleague, let’s call her “Tech Savvy” because she is gifted at manipulating software and Savvy because she masterfully directed a diverse mix individuals to complete a first-class group project final product that is used as an example for master’s level students. You can see us on the big screen, ya’ll, well, the big projection screen, at the LMU Cedar Bluff Campus, Room 115. I’d be honored to work with Tech Savvy on any project.
  • Good Sports (2 guys). These two were normal men who had great senses of humor and did what Tech Savvy and I told them. Usually on time, too! Nice.
I was later blessed to work with my now dear friend “Mother Of The Year Every Year” (MOTYEY for short). She is so stinking smart and an incredibly good mama to four children. She knows all about group dynamics. And literature. And grading papers. And the Bible. And coffee. And allergies. When I get stressed, I think I’ll just put life in perspective by whispering, MOTYEY .

~ ~ ~

Readers, I want to know your group project horror or funny stories! Email me at, comment below the post, or message me on Facebook.

If you are in the Knoxville/Lenoir City area this weekend, stop by the Lenoir City Arts and Crafts Festival. I'll be meeting readers and signing and selling books with fellow members of the Authors Guild of Tennessee. We'll also participate in storytelling (near the main performance stage). My time is 1:30 Saturday. Go to my events page on for more info.

Otherwise, I’ll see you next post – likely on June 20. Until then, think outside the barn!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post any time.

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