Friday, February 28, 2014

Theory 34: If folks think you're crazy, you can breeze through life.

My nieces Balloon Girl and Cake love to roll their happy eyes, shake their thick dark hair, and sigh, "Crazy Aunt Bug." Why? They think I'm a nut. In response to a rude book review on Amazon, one of my friends rebutted, "You may not like how direct she is, but that's just Bug." Delicious is always telling me to "calm down." Comments like these come my way on a daily basis, which makes me wonder, why do people think I'm crazy? Let us explore the possible reasons:

GENETICS?
As I said in an earlier post, I come from a family of minstrels on my mother's side. Many can sing. I can't. But I relish the opportunity to break into song in my classroom. I am certain my students enjoy it. Many can play instruments. I can't. Yes, I played clarinet in the UT Pride of the Southland Band, but I assure you I didn't play it well. Just ask my poor section leader, "Mama M." I finally fake-confessed that I was tone deaf. Perhaps that was my first dabble into intentional insanity. Once my trilling peers "knew" I was medically-musically handicapped, they took pity and cut me lots of slack. From then on, I could focus on equidistant spacing, smooth arcs, and straight lines. Ever tried to march in a line around a corner? Athletes, I tell you. Athletes. Gotta love a chubby piccolo player squatting and hauling her tail across pavement while tweeting a run of Rocky Top.

CHEMICAL IMBALANCE?
I drink six cups of coffee every morning.
My friends gave me a tower of Bota Box Pinot Grigio for my birthday. Just sayin'.


CHILDHOOD?
One time, my daddy Pooh asked, "Delicious, are you EVER going to clean up this pile of clothes?" Delicious responded, "Pooh, are you EVER going to clean up this pile of clothes?"

On the "about" page of my website, I note:
"My childhood was modest, but I was allowed to think, question, and speak without much limitation. My mother is a fantastic storyteller with a huge personality and gracious attitude toward others. My father was an intellectual mountain man with keen insight and dry wit. As an only child, I absorbed all that freedom and attention and grew up to be a straight-spoken, tolerant woman with a wild sense of humor."

Lemme get specific. My daddy was addicted to the Sevier County Public Library and read several books of varied genres each week. If he wanted to do something, like fly fish or make jerky, he hit the bookshelves and taught himself. There were no limits. He lathed a working boomerang. No joke. He invented his own walnut-sheller. He brewed his own "Pooh Beer" in the hallway of our 100+ year-old farmhouse. He tied colorful weightless flies for his fishing expeditions to the Little River, Elkmont, and Metcalf Bottoms of The Great Smoky Mountains. Pooh flea-dipped beloved beagles, grew pumpkins the size of a truck bed, and planted rows of Iris and lily bulbs for Delicious.

My mother, whom many of you know, talked and taught incessantly. She followed Pooh around The Crippled Beagle farm as he often tried to do all the above in solitude (a love of which I inherited). Delicious made desserts, Christmas wreaths, declarations of love, and directed me to be a self-confident, compassionate, individual thinker.

Delicious is a colorful storyteller. Pooh possessed a dry wit that none could rival and most couldn't understand.


ADULT STRESS?
Like everyone else my age or close to it, I've been through the ringer.
Hmmm. Delicious and I lost Pooh when I was 19 (he was 44).
Tall Child and I have endured marital strife and succeeded.
Tall Child and I endured six years of infertility, then two years of the domestic adoption process.
We, along with Sharky and our family and friends welcomed home baby Gnome in 2010.
Now we carefully navigate the burdensome blessing of open adoption with his birth family.
I left banking after ten years and a stressful merger, stayed at home, substitute taught, and now teach freshmen technology.
I've been a normal student, an adult student (I'm pretty sure I was the oldest woman on the Pellissippi State Community College campus), and pretty soon I'll be a 40-year-old student for my master's degree. Yay. Not.


GROWING ECCENTRIC TENDENCIES?
Like my nieces, my students also comment on my odd ways. I don't understand what's weird about  playing theme music in class (the "Love Boat" song with The Odyssey makes sense to me) and creating abstract, yet related assignments like resumes for Shakespeare, crop circle investigations in geometry, and—my favorite—the ultimate lesson plan all about the Knoxville Utilities Board (which features a riveting video of a KUB board meeting). And, yes, we are state champions in high school football, but when I say that the games are really meant to fire up fans for the marching band and calm them down after the shoe-stomping performance, they look at me like I'm a nut.  Go Red Rebel Marching Band!

~ ~ ~

One of my students last year—let's call him Giant Ginger—diagnosed me with adult onset ADHD. He said, "Mrs. Bug, you wear me out. You'll be giving us instructions and all of a sudden break into some story and then say 'Look, a squirrel!' and then go back to the instructions. You are ADHD and I know because I have it."

Maybe it's cool to be crazy; eccentricity is often associated with creativity, intelligence, and personality. And, thanks to Giant Ginger, I have a diagnosis.


She's not driving.


 ~ ~ ~
I'm okay with people thinking I am a little nuts, even though I know I'm sane, because I can breeze through life.  

Ah, how about some informational text with graphic elements—every American teacher's favorite topic these days? I've created the following diagram to help you understand the benefits of being crazy:
 
 
Ways to Convince Folks You are Crazy
What to do
Benefits
Employ a quick, fiery tongue so people fear what you might say in meetings.
You’ll avoid parent-teacher conferences, staff meetings, and interview processes.
Someone else will head the committee or lead the project. You can just claim credit for unique ideas and brilliant contributions, minus all the headaches.
Trip at will.
No one will ask you to help him paint, move, build a fence, or install anything.
Drive erratically.
No driving co-workers on conference calls. No car-pooling the neighbors’ children.
Get lost on purpose (once with each friend and relative).
You may never be the designated driver (though you should ALWAYS have one).
Wear the same ugly outfit all the time.
Friends will give you fashion advice. Mother-in-laws will send you gift cards to nice stores.
Strategically place one long black hair in a dish you bring to work, church, or showers.
From then on, you’ll only be responsible for plates and napkins.
Fake being a chain smoker? Red Hot Backspace says you don’t have to inhale. Just hold it and let it burn and then flip the ashes.
Get your own room at hotels and take lots of, ahem, “smoke breaks.”
Sneeze on your hands all the time.
You won’t have to be a church greeter. You can sleep in on Sundays.
Be, as Tall Child calls me, a “Fashion disaster.” Mix plaids and stripes. Wear flip-flops in February. Red Hot Backspace says, “Make your hair look like a stump full of granddaddies.”
No public speaking for you! Whew.
Make random jerky spasms with your arms and legs.
If you live with a large family, you’ll get your own bed.
Make huge messes when you cook, maybe burn something and stink up the kitchen.
Someone else will cook Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
Talk to an imaginary friend (especially as an adult).
You can assign blame.
Keep a really messy house with lots of clutter and envelopes and empty glasses everywhere. Fill every inch with stuff.
You won’t have overnight company or all the work that comes with overnight company. You’ll save a fortune.
Roll gifts up in comic book paper and wind duct tape or string around the ends.
Kind friends will just add your name to tags and let you chip in money. You don’t have to go to a store, find a gift (geez, those registries), or wrap anything!
Use the backspace button to oblivion.
Your co-worker will record the meeting minutes.
Keep a super messy pocket book and wallet.
You’ll never be treasurer of anything. You are welcome.
Repeat yourself, tell the same stories; maybe even stutter on purpose.
No one will ask you to explain anything.
Yell at children (keep your yelling appropriate but slightly maniacal).
You won’t have to chaperone field trips, take care of other people’s children on snow days, or teach vacation Bible school.
Throw out a few bad words in locations where you shouldn’t.
You will never hear, “[Your name], will you lead us in prayer today?”


Readers, I'm sorry this chart is overlapping the right. I don't have time to fix.
Gotta go teach Shakespeare!
Want to do a play date in my backyard? I didn't think so.

I couldn't resist posing this question to my freshmen students. They are such a kind, tolerant species, really. I asked "Students, what are some benefits to people thinking you are crazy?" Here are their answers verbatim:

"People leave you alone."
"You feel special."
"You don't get in as much trouble."
"You can be on the fence, like, 'Oh, don't ask her. She's craaaaazy.'"
"Nobody will mess with you. You might go ninja."
"If you try stunts on the lawnmower, your parents won't make you mow the grass anymore."
"Use the time that you would have being normal doing something promotive in life."
"When I walk down the hall, the eighth graders won't move, so I yell and scream. Then they move."




Last but not least, you can flat out break it down. Benefit? Folks will think you're crazy, but you'll be the life of the party! Go, Sharky, Go!

Click here: "Dancin' Machine" as interpreted by Sharky (then age 7).

So, maybe mama is crazy, but she's efficient. Let's talk next week about this well-known FACT---
Come back Friday for Theory 35: When Mama's out of commission, the world falls apart.



See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit Amazon.com 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: www.jodydyer.com

Also, visit Amazon.com 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: www.jodydyer.com

Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post any time.
Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption
GoodReads.com: Friend me! Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Buy The Eye of Adoption here: Amazon.com

 



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Well, well, LOOK WHAT HAPPENED THE WEEK AFTER I POSTED
Theory 32: Forty is the perfect age:


My friends threw me a surprise 40th birthday! I am so lucky to be loved by such wild women!

That forty-year-old girl is on fire!!!



Thanks everyone!!!


I love you!

Bug

Like what you read?
You'll LOVE my book of fleshed out, ramped up,
risk-taking Theories.
 


From the back cover

                            


Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post a superlative!
Facebook: Author Jody Dyer (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption
GoodReads.com: Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Buy my work here: Amazon.com


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Theory 33: Senior Superlatives must be modernized, and should include teachers.

Hello friends! So, in last week's post, Theory 32: Forty is the perfect age, I closed with the following note:

Delicious  said, “One thing that comes with being older is you learn when to keep your mouth shut.” Maybe that one will come at 50, Delicious. Until then, I have lots to say. For example, spring semester quickly approaches, which means yearbooks are coming out soon. Which means, the superlative votes will happen shortly. Times have changed. Which brings us to Theory 33: Senior Superlatives must be modernized, and should include teachers.

Not only am I not shutting my mouth, I'm sounding off sarcastically because my emotions are raw and I'm EXHAUSTED from managing a state writing assessment for the entire 9th grade at my school. Yes, forty is the perfect age, but forty doesn't necessarily mean perfect behavior. I am flawed. I admit it.

And, I am observant. Teenagers have always fascinated me. Back at good old Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, faculty, staff, and student body enjoyed mountain ways and school traditions. We held football game pep rallies every Friday during 6th period. Students balanced fat raw potatoes on tablespoons in our comical, quite physical field day each spring. We nicknamed teachers, their products, and locations (Bo-dogs, Beuf, the Smoke Pit, etc.). As Delicious used to say, "We try not to let academics interfere with our fun." Seriously, though, we were a standout school, academically speaking. Sarcasm and word-smithing were as important to the culture as Bo-dogs and the Smoke Pit. Why, in my squat graduation class of 112 or so students, 11 were National Merit Semi-Finalists. That means they scored in the top 1% of PSAT standardized test takers. Verbal scores? Booyah!

Because our class was so small, I knew every single member. Personally. Other wordy traditions of Gatlinburg-Pittman were encased in the school newspaper, The Blue and Gold Review, which was run by none other than our beloved Delicious. Two sections were student favorites: Cheers and Jeers—where students harassed or congratulated each other as in, "Cheers to Marilyn for catching a boyfriend," or "Jeers to Marilyn for steeling Tanya's boyfriend." The other favorite was the year-end "Senior Predictions" list — where one brave, sarcastic, clever student wrote a snarky prediction for every other student in the graduation class. Well, that one brave, sarcastic, clever, student was your beloved Bug. Not so beloved after print, however. That was my first experience with a death threat, y'all! Let's just say that I took chances and ticked off several fellow Highlanders. Of course, someone also had to write a prediction for me. Want to know what it was?

[Bug] will go off to college and room with her mother, but die an untimely death when her high school classmates burn her at the stake.

Ouch. But, awesome. There was a graveyard scene in the spring chorus show. Front row sat a tomb stone reading, "[Bug] 1974 - 1992. Roast in Peace." Is it weird that I loved it?

Delicious did not go to college with me at The University of Tennessee, but she did spend the night in the dorm room when I had to stay at Humes Hall alone on Thanksgiving weekend to be ready to board the UT band bus at 5:00 a.m. and head to Nashville. Delicious and I ordered the "large student special" from Papa Johns, dropped quarters into the lobby Coke machine, and relived her UGA days.

What made/makes the predictions so funny is that they were honestly dead-on true.  Who said "There is humor in all truth and truth in all humor"? I can't remember. I do know that Shakespeare said, "Brevity is the soul of wit." In that vein, I'm just going to simply list some modern superlatives that my buddies and I have conjured up for your contemplation. I tossed in a few that I'd just like to see out there. The bonus is the teacher section - just for kicks. Please add to the list here or on Facebook, if you have the guts. Mwah, ha, ha.


Modern Day Senior Superlatives

Most likely to live at home during college.

Most likely to marry his/her high school sweetheart. (Usually same person who wins “Most likely to live at home during college.”)

Most likely to go to college, dropout, go to community college for three years, then go back to the first college, and eventually end up with a Ph.D., all while living at home.

Most likely to come out of the closet at his liberal arts college.

Most likely to "experiment" at her liberal arts college.

Most likely to live at home after college.

Most likely to marry her teacher. This summer.
Love conquers all. Even Common Core Standards.

Most likely to cause a divorce.

Most likely to commit murder suicide after a third divorce.

Most likely to go to the county jail.

Most likely to go to the state prison.

Most likely to go to federal prison.

Most likely to end up on death row.

Most likely to get rich writing HTML and JavaScript, whatever those are.

Home Row Method. Bazinga!

Most likely to own his own business.

Most likely to become addicted to something and lose his own business.

Most likely to embezzle. (We saw you in the concession stand that day.)

Most attractive to the opposite gender.

Most attractive to the same gender.

Most attractive to either gender.

Most likely to indirectly cause the death of rescue workers when he attempts an extreme sport and must be saved. So selfish.


Most likely to become a philosopher.

Featuring Spectacles

Most likely to follow a boy to college.

Most likely to get dumped freshman semester by the boy she followed to college.

Most likely to marry the only boy she ever dates.

Most likely to marry the only girl he ever dates.

Most likely to marry someone else's high school sweetheart.

Most likely to go pro.

Go, Gnome, go!

Most likely to win a full athletic scholarship and ruin his sports career with a bad attitude.

Most likely to win a full academic scholarship and get pregnant and drop out.

Most likely to homeschool her children.

Best personality among teachers.

Best personality among students. There is a difference.

Worst personality in general.

Most negative.

Wittiest, as opposed to silliest. There is a difference.

Biggest dud.

Most likely to sell Tupperware, Arbonne, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef....

Most musically talented.

Most talented in "indoor sports."

The absolutely best male/female/transgender athlete in this school, hands down.

Most obnoxious to peers.

Most obnoxious to teachers.

Most likely to have the ultimate college experience.

GBO
Most likely to become a teacher, even though she hates teachers.

Most likely to show up to the reunion hot and skinny.

Most likely to show up to the reunion super rich.

Most like to never return to this dump of  a town again.

Biggest chest, a.k.a. Most likely to get breast reduction.

Smallest chest, a.k.a. Most likely to get breast augmentation.

Most likely to get really fat.

Most likely to morph into the opposite gender, not on purpose.

Most likely to morph into the opposite gender, on purpose.

Most likely to go bald.

Most likely to embarrass his children on social media.

Most likely to own a hovercraft.


Teacher Superlatives
Best dressed.
   Ready to chaperone!

Most likely to split his pants in a pep rally.

Most likely to be on a perpetual diet.

Most likely to try the students' project.

Most likely to have his contract non-renewed.

Most likely to tuck her dress into her pantyhose.

Most likely to "over celebrate" when this occurs:

Pure white teacher bliss.

Most likely to marry his student. This summer.

Most likely to sleep in her work clothes.

Most likely to drive the same car her entire teaching career of 34 years.

Highest flood britches.

Lowest neckline. Gross.

Most likely to be rude and "not engaged" at in-service.

I'm sure they are taking notes.


Most likely to show up in "Busted" for DUI. True story.

Most likely to pray every day in school. For all kinds of reasons.

Most likely to get her Educational Specialist Degree and pay raise and finally leave that jerk.

Most likely to show up to work hung over.

Most likely to be caught by a drug dog. Hey, it's East TN, just a little dip, y'all. Nuttin' harmful.

Most jobs outside school award. Teachers are hustlers, y'all!

Most likely to do her Christmas shopping in the teacher workroom.

Most likely to sniff Sharpies. Gotta get through the day somehow.

Most patriotic.

Puppies. America. Education.

Most likely to cause hypothermia among students because she's going through menopause.

Most likely to think she's in menopause when she's actually pregnant.

Most likely to take every sick day. Every school year.

Most likely to make personal calls, correspond with others, shop online, or enjoy a detailed hobby. At school.

Most likely to sell Tupperware, Arbonne, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef.... in the teacher's lounge.

Most likely to say something in class, then worry about it all night.

Most likely to get fired for stuff she writes in her blog.


Which brings us to next week's theory, Theory 34: If folks think you're crazy, you can breeze through life.

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Bug



Like what you read?
You'll LOVE my book of fleshed out, ramped up,
risk-taking Theories.
 


From the back cover

                            

Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post a superlative!
Facebook: Author Jody Dyer (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption
GoodReads.com: Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Buy my work here: Amazon.com

 



Monday, February 17, 2014

BLOG HOP – THINKING, LEARNING, and CONNECTING OUTSIDE THE BARN!


Friends and readers, welcome to a blog hop! Never heard of one? The point of a blog hop is to introduce readers to new bloggers and their work. Welcome to Theories: Size 12 (my humor blog of varied content.) Feel free to browse through posts.

Also, I'd like for you to check out my friend and fellow author, Vanessa Rouse. Vanessa is former special education teacher who writes educational and entertaining children’s books. Find her blog and books here: http://mamabearbedtimebooks.blogspot.com/. Thanks Vanessa for inviting me to collaborate with other creative minds!
  
For those of you visiting from other blogs, I’ll answer four questions to help you learn about my work and me.

About Jody, a.k.a. "Bug"

1) What am I working on? Right now, I marketing my creative non-fiction book, The Eye of Adoption. I speak to local groups (social workers, family agencies, high school classes, church groups, book clubs, women’s groups, and non-profits) about my story, self-publishing, and adoption as a theme in life. I’m building my next book, a collection of humorist essays, through my blog, titled Theories: Size 12, Go on and get mad, but you know I’m right. Basically, each week’s post is a rough draft of a future chapter. I plan to publish the book of Theories in late 2014 or early 2015.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I differ from many authors in that I write and “speak” directly to readers. I teach through emotional and humorous anecdotes and am embarrassingly honest. I think being complete;y relatable and down-to-earth is refreshing to readers, particularly those who are enduring a difficult life experience like infertility or adoption. My goal is for readers to find a friend (me) in the pages I write. And, of course, I want folks to laugh!

3) Why do I write what I do?
After suffering through infertility and enduring the rigorous adoption process, to beginning a "wide" open adoption with my child's birth family, I felt compelled to write the book that would have helped me during those experiences. I love teaching and telling stories. I love to write. I love to help people. I love to laugh. I simply combine all my loves and write the way I feel like writing. If someone chooses to read what I write, I am honored.

4) How does your writing process work?
I keep a composition book with me all the time. If I think of something poignant or funny, I jot it down. I actually do most of my writing in those little notebooks because I teach full time and have two young children. So, sitting at a computer at home for any nice stretch of time is usually impossible. I also reach out to friends and readers for fodder and ideas. I sneak in questions to my students (field research). To finalize my blog posts, I get up at 5:00 a.m. – the only time I’m ever alone, and type like a crazy woman until I'm satisfied or out of time.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little about The Eye of Adoption, Theories: Size 12, and me, Jody Cantrell Dyer.


Next week, be sure to learn about these fabulous bloggers/authors:


Deanna Kahler is an accomplished writer, proud parent and author of two books. Her first book, From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoptiondetails her difficult journey to motherhood and also provides tips and resources for others who may be facing similar circumstances. Her second book, Echoes of Paradise, is a fiction paranormal love story about the afterlife. Deanna began writing as a young child and enjoys the opportunity to reach others and make a difference in their lives. She writes from the heart and uses her own experiences as the foundation for her work. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. Deanna lives with her husband and daughter in Michigan and enjoys writing, dancing, walking and visiting parks in her spare time.

Echoes of Paradise Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/echoesofparadise
From Pain to Parenthood Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Pain-to-Parenthood/516578495046306
Twitter: @DeannaKahler

~  ~  ~

Debbie Barrow Michael is a gifted sculptor, painter, and writer. She authored But the Greatest of These is Love and pens beautifully academic articles in her blog, Consider It All Joy.

Book Description: On a March evening in 2000, an unexpected and unsettling thought came out of nowhere, disrupting Debbie Michael’s comfortable life—adoption! It was neither her idea nor her desire to adopt; she was already the mother of three. Instinctively, she knew God was speaking to her, but she did not want to listen if His message required action as life-changing as adopting an orphan. Dread lingered in the aftermath of the disturbing suggestion, and a debilitating fog of uncertainty settled over her life. A journey of a thousand miles (or five thousand, in this case) might begin with a single step, but Debbie was not eager to take that first step. Though God was relentless, she remained adamant. She was determined to ignore the nudging. But God would not be ignored! God pried Debbie out of her comfortable existence and opened a door to a life she didn’t know existed. But the Greatest of These is Love is about much more than adoption. It is a story about the powerful and astonishing ways God uses ordinary people to accomplish His divine intention that we love one another.

Website: http://www.amazon.com/But-Greatest-These-Is-Love/dp/1462402542
Blog: http://debbiebarrowmichael.blogspot.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/But-the-Greatest-of-These-is-Love-By-Debbie-Barrow-Michael/479380268762902
Twitter: @dbmichael6

Also, visit Amazon.com 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: www.jodydyer.com


Go ahead and follow these wonderful authors now so you won’t miss a thing!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Theory 32: Forty is the perfect age.


My friends and family have enjoyed big chuckles all week, thanks to my 40th birthday, which is today, February 14, 2014.  My mother-in-law Bop sent me gross/funny cards with $5 bills inside. She, Dogwood Debutante, Balloon Girl and Cake also had a happy pink and red flower arrangement with three “Happy Birthday” balloons delivered to my classroom at the junior high. That delivery, combined with a school day shortened three hours for a minor “snowpocalypse” made for an eventful 3rd period with thirty-five freshmen! Friends have texted, teased, and treated me all week.

Feelin' the love.

Look, I LOVE attention like Gnome loves candy. And, unlike most folks, I actually enjoy public speaking and being the center of attention. But, I’m not big on birthdays. I am a terrible birthday card giver. Even though I mail notes to people all the time for all types of occasions, I usually forget to buy birthday cards. I think it’s because my birthday is not that important to me. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? Sorry. Selfish? Sorry again.

I think Tall Child is catching my fever of apathy. He turned 50 in May. Our friends and I wanted to throw him a toga party as a nod to his youthful adventures and baby-booming swagger. But, he declined, saying, “Let’s just let this one slide on by.” Also, every February 14th around supper time, I hand Tall Child a “For Husband” Valentine and he says, “Oh, Bug! Let’s trade cards later.” We eat supper. Then, Tall Child says, “I have to take care of something really quickly. I’ll be right back.” He makes a mad dash to Walgreens and comes home with a proud grin and two cards: a “For Wife” Valentine and a “For her” birthday card. Every year. Bless his Tall, kind, forgetful heart.

Maybe I have some disregard for my birthday because it’s on Valentine’s Day, and, except for Tall Child and my college sweetheart, Nixon Lover, who was, ironically, also born on Valentine’s Day in 1974, I never had a boyfriend on February 14th. The sting of an empty locker and no call from the office throughout high school never leaves you. It never leaves you. Why, male GP Highlanders, why? Was it my sharp tongue, hallway scowls, the fact that you had to pass Delicious’s 12th grade English class to graduate, or was it my proclamation of virginity? (I think it was the latter.) Why no roses? I should have sent myself flowers. I’ve learned so much since high school. I mean, I buy myself cases of wine nowadays just for getting a paycheck. What’s the difference?

This is a good time to introduce one of my favorite people in the world, “Downton Gams.” She has signature style; a classy, yet casual look consisting of long-sleeved shirts, corduroys, preppy-yet-colorful loafers, and fitted down vests topped off with pearls, honey. Pearls. Downton Gams is a mix of British composure, European style, Land’s End practicality, and Old South tradition. And, she has the most beautiful legs in 37919. She’s an intellectual and passionate mother and a fantastic sounding board for a loon like me. I confessed to her last week, “I’m afraid folks are going to make a big deal about my birthday.” Downton Gams coached, “Don’t you worry about that, Bug, just get through it. I was sooooo glad to see that number come and go. No big deal. No big deal. That’s that. Done. Done. Forty. Done.”

I love my girl posse. Another member is Agape Agave. She’s “Agape” because she loves circles around you! Her natural instinct is unconditional, country-style, custard pie love. She’s “Agave” because she makes a mean beverage with a plant product of the same name. Agape Agave can quilt and sew and can tomatoes. She’s Agape Agave Awesome!

So, Agape Agave and I discussed my turning forty just yesterday. (She’s next.) I asked, “What do you think is good about turning 40?”

Agape Agave said, “Let me tell you what my mama said. She said to me one time, ‘Oh, honey, just wait til you’re 40. You won’t give a [dang] what anybody says to you.’”

I asked, “Well, do you think that’s right?

Agape Agave said, “I don’t know; I’m not forty, but you are tomorrow! You tell me! Ha!”

Well, I reflected all afternoon about the wise counsel I got from Downton Gams and Agape Agave, and they are right about AGE 40.

I may not want a big fuss, but I am happy to be forty. It’s the perfect age! I’m writing, obviously, from my own perspective and experience, but I think many of you forty-and-overs will relate. The rest of you can anticipate landing on this happy number. What do I mean? Why is forty the perfect age?

As I turn forty, I have to say that almost everything makes sense.
And, if something doesn’t make sense, I don’t even care. Delicious and Pooh taught me well, but much of my newfound confidence and free thinking comes from two experiences. First, adopting Gnome and having an open adoption with his birth family. The eight year journey from infertility to meeting Gnome for the first time was embedded with enlightenment beyond anything I ever expected. Second, my dear friends (some of whom you’ve met, some not yet) give me license to be me, without judgment or criticism, and—bonus—with support! As Pooh said, “I always like the people who like me.” Amen, daddy!

I don’t give a dang when people criticize me.
I wrote my book, The Eye of Adoption, to help other women affected by infertility and adoption. But, when you write a book (or a blog) you subject yourself to bad reviews, critical commentary, and ridicule. It’s especially hurtful when it comes from family who probably haven’t even read the book. If someone has a problem with my writing, my goals, or me, that problem is his/hers. Trust me, when you slap an essay like this into the blogosphere, you get all kinds of feedback. I embrace it, or I wouldn’t dare call this blog Theories: Size 12, Go on and get mad, but you know I’m right. Guess what? I know why I wrote the book. If someone doesn’t “get it” or like it, I don’t give a dang. If I were twenty-two years old and “put myself out there” in the writing world, a bad review would demolish me. Now, I just laugh, read the good reviews again, shake off the sting, and keep writing.

If I want to dance, I dance, thanks to inspiration from my smart, well-formed friend “Elaine.” “Elaine” loves the stage. She belongs on the stage. She’s not shy. And, boy oh boy, can she bust a move in her own special way. She is also really good at stretching. When “Elaine” takes the dance floor, she elevates the entire party to a new level of interest and excitement, especially when she’s joined by “Smokin’ Scrubs,” our gorgeous blonde friend who is a natural born tambourine player. She has a soulful, healing laugh, and is never shy about hopping on stage. Anywhere.

I don’t give a dang about material things.
I grew up in an old farmhouse and, for some crazy reason, bought another old house. At twenty-six years old, I wore myself out trying to make my 1956 plumbing nightmare of a house pretty and perfect with the “right” touches. Now, I don’t give a dang. The oddities no longer make me drive to Home Depot. They make me laugh.

Gnome and Jake splash under some lovely tile work.

I desperately need a laptop (mostly to dodge Gnome, Sharky, and Tall Child when I write), but I love the sentimentality of using my sweet late father-in-law’s computer.

Big Red is only my third car. She grunts and groans and is stick with duct tape, but we just crank up and go. She’s okay. I’m okay.

I don’t give a dang about my appearance.
Well, I am a girl. Let’s just say I don’t obsess, and I’m quite forgiving. I wear make-up because there’s no such thing as natural beauty and if I didn’t douse myself in Merle Norman, my students would think they had a substitute teacher. But I don’t worry about finding the “right” clothes like I did in my twenties and early thirties. Actually, I’m looking to embrace a uniform wardrobe. Think Diane Keaton or Simon Cowell. I want to look appropriate, yet be comfortable every day, but I don’t want to have to think about my clothes. I need to be professional, but prefer some eccentric flair. Ya’ll let me know what I should wear. Please read the rest of the post so you’ll know what you have to work with, ahem, around.

My precious, precious friend “Flower Child” is also inspires me to relax about looks. Flower Child and “Elaine” (her sister) are neighborhood leaders in compassion, philanthropy, and kindness. They just flat out know how to love their friends. And, they have their own kind of “uniforms.”

I told Flower Child I was contemplating a uniform, and that I needed two pair of shoes for each season, one black, one brown. She said, “Shoot, I only wear two pairs of shoes ever. Flip-flops if it’s warm. Uggs if it’s cold.” So free. So, so free.

I don’t give a dang about perfection. I just survive and thrive at work, at home, in school, in my writing. I don’t stress over mistakes. As a student, I competed against others and myself for higher grades and recognition. In my twenties and thirties, as a bank manager, I was frantic and ambitious.

Now, I just do the best I can and do no schoolwork at home. I also, as Delicious likes to preach, “always anticipate the incompetence of others.” I focus on preparation and then deliver the best goods I’ve got. I don’t get mad at others’ mistakes like I did years ago.

I am terribly flawed, yet self-aware.
I’ve watched myself for a while now, and noted a few things that bother me (and likely bother others). I’m loud in classrooms and restaurants and houses. I throw temper tantrums and toss Tupperware.  I’m quite destructive. I’ve always been this way. Delicious says I always rushed and “screwed up one side of the poster board” when I did science projects and she always had to drive back to the store for another poster board. I always wondered why she didn’t buy two poster boards in the first place. Whatever. Anyway, throughout my life I denied these flaws. Now, I embrace them, write about them, and try really hard to control the impulse to sling a light bulb at Tall Child. Knowing oneself is liberating.

I understand that I can’t control other people. So I don’t try.
If Tall Child doesn’t won’t get a checkup, shame on him. Other than Sharky and Gnome and myself, I am not responsible for another person’s healthcare. That’s all I have to say about that.

I love the idiosyncrasies of people I know. I’m not annoyed when they disagree with me like I was when I was younger. Instead, I try to learn from them, because anyone can learn from anyone. 

Speaking of, I’m less inhibited and more plain-spoken in my “old age.”
Even the book description of The Eye of Adoption on Amazon, reads “Dyer tells it like it is….” I figure folks are worn out guessing and trying to figure things out, so I just write like I speak, with flaws and all, but mostly, honesty, so readers can RELATE!

I trust myself. I know why I write what I write, and I write from my soul. Simple, trite, genius, spiritual, funny, dull, who knows? I just write and am flattered if anyone reads my work.

I’ve been accused of saying “whatever comes to mind” but friends, I hold about 80% in. Be warned. Why do you think I have to crank out the long blog posts every week? Yes, because I have so much nonsense to share with the world!

I don’t feel guilty for taking care of myself.
Agape Agave said, “All I want to do is diddle around on Pinterest, drink tons of coffee, and chase it with margaritas and I want everyone to leave me the [heck] alone.” Amen, sister wife. Do it. Women, at forty, I finally have the guts to say, “Hey, Tall Child and boys, I’m going to look for a bra and it will take a loooooong time. Suck it up. And, unless you want me to burn up our Verizon minutes in a pre-menopausal, big breasted rage, don’t call me while I’m sweating in a Dillard’s dressing room.” No. More. Guilt. Why, just yesterday I went to the grocery store all by myself. It was awesome!

I need other people to make choices for me.
I have terrible taste in clothing and accessories. I have complete trust in my friends and family who buy me treats to wear. As a matter of fact, they know and embrace this fact! Generous, thoughtful Downtown Gams gave me a Kate Spade handbag for my birthday! WHAAAAAT! It’s from New. York. City. And it’s beautiful. Isn’t that incredibly sweet? My last handbag was from The Walmart at the Walker Springs Exit on I-40.  I also asked her how to fix my hair for a Cotillion dance and she emphatically said, “We are curly girls. We can not go straight; it just makes us look tired.” Waves it is, Gams! Bop and Delicious like to buy me clothes. I don’t argue; I trust. I just put the new duds, hop into Big Red, and cruise to the junior high in style.


Consider: I’ve embraced my appearance and actually have lots of new things to celebrate!
1. Bigger boobs! Just when I thought my girls Atlantic and Pacific were normal, I visited Dillard’s to bra shop, as I said above. Well, I plopped one day’s worth of teacher wages on the biggest cup size sold at Dillard’s. Here’s the kicker/bouncer: I need the next size up. Really? Really? How much onion dip have I eaten? What gives? I am seriously considering surgery. I don’t give a dang what others think about A&P, but I am tired of being uncomfortable. Smokin’ Scrubs worked for a plastic surgeon; I’m gonna see what she thinks. I really want to Benjamin Button my breasts.

This is not an illusion.

2. Old white woman booty! It’s happening. I’m getting that white-lady booty where the fat moves up and out, just below the waist. Like a shelf over a giant coffee bean. Or, a Valentine heart! But, what a wonderful place for Gnome to perch. It’s all about attitude, ladies.

3. Bedazzled legs! I’ve gotten into constellations lately because Sharky’s learning the lunar phases and Gnome stares up and gasps, “Look, stars!” Well, I happen to have similar wonders on my body. So, if you are chipping in ideas for my “uniform” please stay away from colors that bring out blue and purple. See photo below. So magical. Sooooo sexy.

I can see Halley's Comet!

At 40, I am wise and happily share my wisdom.
For example:
Tall Child (aged 50 years with an oaky aroma) bragged that  “50 is the new 40.” I hope he’s right. I have a thing for proportional reasoning, ever since my math instructional mentor “Certified Genius” taught me the following formula. 
Part                 Part
Whole    =       Whole

If I apply the proportional reasoning formula, I am 30 years old, weight 147 pounds, and wear a 34D. Confused? Do the math. Construct a response. Common Core. Booyah.

Friends, master this concept and you’ll increase standardized math test scores by 20%. I promise. It works with conversion (inches to feet, cm to yards), cooking (tablespoons to teaspoons, swaparoo with measuring cups), and—for you teachers—similar triangles (not mine, but the ones in the textbook)!  For tutoring on this topic, contact me at jdyer415@yahoo. Remember, I’m a teacher hustler. Rate is $35 an hour; and please don’t tell the IRS because they’ll just give 28% to Joe L.  (my extra husband down in Mississippi).

Age 40 is awesome because I’m friendlier. I love meeting other authors and readers and making new friends online. I am a social media butterfly and don’t care what people think or say about it. I “like” freely and promote others’ work with great joy. Through writing this blog and publishing my book, I have made some awesome new friends, all over the country. My life is much richer for accepting their online friendship.

I’m much less shy in my alone time, too. I used to think inside my mind. Now I just go ahead and talk to myself out loud. I’m easier to understand that way. As my grandfather, Big Man used to say, “I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather talk to than me. I am so interesting and I never argue.” But, I do enjoy my conversations with me more when I/we have them out loud because I/we enjoy inflection and mood. Sometimes people at the grocery store interrupt me/us. So rude.

Delicious  said, “One thing that comes with being older is you learn when to keep your mouth shut.” Maybe that one will come at 50, Delicious. Until then, I have lots to say. For example, spring semester quickly approaches, which means yearbooks are coming out soon. Which means, the superlative votes will happen shortly. Times have changed. Which brings us to Theory 33: Senior Superlatives must be modernized, and should include teachers.

Just a couple of weeks after I posted this diatribe, my sweet friends threw me a surprise party. What a special night. I am happy to be forty if I'm surrounded by these jewels. Here are some photos. Top night of my life!









See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn. All you other old folks, what do you like about being 40+?

I dedicate this song to me.



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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...