Friday, January 24, 2014

looking in my eyes

A recent trip to the eye doctor had me reflecting on my sight impairment and how I've come to terms with it over time.  As a kid, I always hated eye exams at the nurse's office.  I would try to memorize the answers of the kid in front of me so I would pass with flying colors, just like I did the hearing test (I have very good hearing). 

I was a very good, although a tad over-enthusiastic student.  I had straight As all the time and never had to take my book home to do my homework, because I remembered it all.  I always had my hand up and participated often.  By the time I was in 5th grade, things changed.  I couldn't see the board, I started skipping my turn when we had to read and I started copying off the kids sitting next to me.  When you're the kind of student that I was, not being able to see the board is a huge problem and I felt so ashamed.  I found that if I squinted and pulled my eyes out at the corners I could see more clearly, so I made it through several months of 5th grade like that.

Finally, my teachers noticed and they sent me down to the nurse.  This time, I could only read the big E at the top and I broke down crying.  I had never failed at anything before,  and had rarely gotten a loathed "S" for satisfactory on a homework assignment; I always got "E"s for excellent.  And now, I had utterly failed.  I felt like I had let everyone down and that I should have tried harder, eaten all my crust and a lot more carrots.  I didn't understand that genetics played a role, I thought that it was something that I had done or failed to do. 

Sidenote: I took the parable of Jesus curing the blind man with his own spit to heart and would put spit on my eyes at night and pray with all my might that Jesus would cure my eyes....  I'm still waiting for that miracle!

As someone who had glasses since she was a little girl, my mom was super great about the whole thing and made me excited about the prospect of a new fashion accessory!  I still remember that first moment when I put my glasses on.  I could see EVERYTHING!! It was amazing!  I noticed things that I hadn't in a long time, and then we went outside and I could see the leaves on the trees, not just a big blob of green!  I realized that was now part of who I was, that needing glasses didn't make me less of a person and that it didn't change me, that it helped me to be myself again.  Once I made the switch to contacts in 7th grade, I really stopped seeing my eye sight as something that stood me apart from the general population, it had become just another part of my daily routine and annual round of doctors.

Then I went to grad school from 2010-12 and spent two years staring at a computer screen and books from the time I got to work at 7:30 until the time I went to bed around 1:30.  I kept increasing the zoom on my computer until I said something to my eye doctor about it.  He sent me out to get reading glasses--not the kind of reading glasses that some of my friends had prescriptions for, but the kind of reading glasses that my dad and grandma use.  I can read print just fine, but my eyes become fatigued very easily and then I have trouble reading after that.  When I bought them I was the only 27-year old I knew who used reading glasses, and I'm still the only 29-year old I know who carries them in her purse just like her grandma!  Now, I just joke about it.  I have the text on my cellphone set to a size a person 2 feet behind me could read, I keep my Word documents magnified to 200% and I'm generally unaware of what is on the right-hand side of most websites because I have them zoomed-in so far.  I always say that it is so my students can read things when I project them up on the smart board, but really it is so that I can read it without straining my eyes.

I've tried all sorts of contacts and currently have really great ones that give me really good vision.  I still can't read street signs until I'm close to them and I have a really hard time reading my phone when my alarm goes off in the morning before I put my glasses on, but I keep my eyes really healthy by wearing sunglasses, going to the doctor every year and always washing my hands before handling my contacts.  I know that my eye sight is so valuable, so I continue to try to soak in as many sights and words as I can until my tired eyes drive me to bed.  If anything it helps me to understand my students better when they struggle with something beyond their control. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hot Roddin' at the Cavalcade of Customs

This past weekend was Cincy's annual Cavalcade of Customs down at the Convention Center (what-up, Duke Energy??) and I got my annual tour of the weekend's best from the guy who taught me to drive and who is REALLY good at fixing cars (and rebuilding them too!!)-- the one, the only, Jo-Poppa.  He always needs a ride down on Sundays because he has to drive the car home after the show.

The Cavalcade always provides great entertainment because the crowd is as diverse as the cars themselves.  You have everything from show cars that one wouldn't dream of driving, the average hot rods and street rods that spend weekends cruising the town, down to "Rat-rods" that often don't even run.
 Before showing some of my favorite highlights from the show, I have to shine a light on Gladys, the family station wagon and weekend cruiser that my dad rebuilt into a bad ass hot rod a few years ago. 

When we first got Gladys she was black and white and pretty banged up.  Jo-Momma liked it because we could park anywhere since you didn't have to worry about dings!  We had to sit on blankets because the springs were coming out of the seats and driving it was akin to driving the Big Comfy Couch, if such a thing could be driven.  

 Jo-Poppa completely overhauled it, with basically on the frame and dash being original.  To the delight of Jo-Momma and I, it even has AC!

Of course the perfect accent to the black is my dad's favorite color: green!!!

One of my new favorite things that I love about car shows is watching the pin-strippers.  These guys work really fast and do everything free-hand, right on people's cars!  I can literally stand and watch these guys for hours, although you'd have to follow them around if you wanted to watch that long.  

Here, he is just starting to put the white on as an accent to the red. 

This is the back of the car that this guy did.  The girl was sketched out in free-hand, but the rest of it was totally free-hand.  

This is the finished product on the front.  Only took about 5 minutes

This beaut is a "Show" car, because they are only for show.  Much like china dolls, they are beautiful, but taunt you because you wouldn't dare take them out for a spin for fear of messing them up.  Just like those dolls that sit up on the shelf collecting dust and mocking you.  

This Firebird is another show car, that I totally would have broken the rules to drive.  It looked fast just sitting there!  The paint was a perfect mix of baby blue and teal with the most brilliant Diamond-Shine finish I've ever seen!  

I LOVED  the color on this Bel Air and had to include it!

There wasn't anything too special about this Ford.  It was well-maintained, so most of it was original.  I was totally geeking out over the brocade upholstery on the seats with the metallic-shiny leather around it.  My great aunt Marcy drove an old Buick similar to this car, and she would have totally loved these seats.  The other feature of this car that was also awesome, is the fact that it has suicide doors.  I failed to capture that in the photo because I was so excited about the seats, but if you look at the door post, you'll notice that there is a latch, but no door because it opens from the rear. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I *snow* love the woods

Tonight, on the way home from an impromptu trip to Costco to obtain various items in bulk, the most exciting of which was 5 tubes of my favorite toothpaste for $12, and a pit stop at Chick-fil-A for the most delicious, wholesome and real of all fast foods, my mom and I took a detour through the woods.  It had been flurrying like crazy since we had left the house, so we knew it would be pretty magical.
Winton Woods is only about 4 minutes from home and, as kids, our bus went past it every day.  It was actually quicker to go through it, but Jan-the bus driver never did.  She always favored the adjacent neighborhood instead....  EXCEPT when it has recently snowed.  My brother, Bubba, and I were the first ones on the bus and we would always ask her when we got on if she would take us through the woods.  Jan-the bus driver would normally wink and say "we'll see."  By the time we had finished the route and were heading back past our house on the way to school, kids would start chanting to go through the woods and as we neared the bottom of the hill just before the turn into the park, we would all hold our breaths in the hopes that she would turn and take us through the magic, snow-covered wonderland that is Winton Woods in the wintertime.  When Jan-the bus driver did turn, we would all cheer and then everyone was quiet as we kept wiping the steam of the windows with our coat sleeves, to the chagrin of our mothers.  No one drew on the windows, the big kids didn't taunt the little kids, everyone just looked out in wonder at the splendor of the snow on those trees.  The trees make a perfect tunnel over the road that in the summertime provides lush, green coolness, but in the winter transports the lucky park-goer to another world entirely, where all is fresh, clean and new and where you can't help but marvel at the splendor God has created for a few fleeting hours.

I didn't have my good camera, so couldn't get one from the road in the dark, but this is a picture of the woods from last winter, you can see just how majestic it is!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Who am "I"

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Ghana, West Africa.  While I met many intriguing, strong and wonderful people there, I want to talk about one in particular: Solomon, who drove a shiny red BMW like a bat out of hell, with his thick arm and lemon-head shaped face hanging out the window, all-the-while honking wildly. He was one of the host-fathers of my group and the self-appointed social coordinator, which is no surprise considering his nickname was "Action Man."   The Action Man would often be out with us students on a Thursday or Friday evening after class before we all headed home and after plying us with more Guiness or Star Beers than we wanted, he would insist that we eat with him.  Upon finishing, he would lean back, pat his ample belly and proclaim, "I am myself again," as if the time elapsed since his previous meal had somehow made him less of himself, or someone else. 

Now, any of you who get hangry know that this can be a real feeling, but I've always seen it that he was most happy and content, and therefore most himself when he had a full belly, a buzz and people he loved around him.  I've been thinking about this a lot in my own life, particularly in the past few months.  I always think to myself: I wish I liked reading literary books, but I stick with my historical fiction and historical monographs.  I wish I was more artsy, but love sports more.  I wish I could go to bed early enough so that I could wake up early enough to exercise before work, but I always have "one more thing" to do before bed and I'm really bad and waking up before the sun.  I wish I wore heels more often and looked like a boss walking in them, but I love my sensible flats and warm boots.  I wish I ate all organic food and could swear off junk and fast food, but I'm just an average girl who lives by an average grocery store and I love me a good McD's breakfast sammy every few months when I'm out and about early on a Saturday morning and I've been known to stop at Wendy's for a JBC when I'm hungry in between meals and hide the evidence, and I'm a real sucker for Pepsi from the fountain.  I wish I liked snacking on almonds like all the skinny, fit people, but I've always been partial to a handful of pretzels and whatever hunk of cheese I can rummage up. 

But guess what, I read lots of great stuff, I can spend hours in an impressionist museum, I get up early on Saturdays to run, bike or yoga, depending on the season, I have some pretty kickin' high-heeled boots, my butcher can tell me what local farm all my meat came from and all my summer produce comes from the back yard and I am a pretty fit person.  I recently spent 5 days with one of my best friends who I hadn't seen in a year and I was thinking about all the things that are different about us.   I realized that people probably see things in me that they wish they were more like and that I just need to be me and stop trying to cultivate the things that I admire about other people in myself, because those things aren't who I am.  That's why I like those people--they do things I don't that I think are awesome and they enrich me through their actions and stories, just as I enrich them with mine.  So, this then, is me, Kelli: the teacher, daughter, friend that God made and that the people in my life cherish, nothing more, nothing less.  No Kelly, Kellie, just simply "i."