Carpe Diem Y’all by Michele Bernard

Writer, Texan, Semi-interested Sports Fan

Out of the Mouth of (my) Babe

 I Dream Big.  Really Big. – My Son

It’s back to school.  Who knew my son, the baby, the jock, the quiet one would turn out to be the poet I most admire this week?  English is not his favorite subject.  Dyslexia makes sure of that.  Yet, this assignment struck a chord with him and his words strike a chord with me.  Is it because he’s my son?  Maybe.  Nevertheless, with his permission I share the following:

I am me and only me.

I wonder all the time.

I hear the music I like to hear.

I want to succeed.

I am me and only me.

I pretend I am a ninja.

I feel good when I do something good.

I touch the smooth wood of a baseball bat.

I worry about not passing.

I cry when I laugh real hard.

I am me and only me.

I understand the game.

I say just don’t give up.

I dream big.

Really big.

I try to work as hard as I can.

I hope to succeed.

I am me and only me.

Carpe Diem y’all, Michele

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September 3, 2008 Posted by | Best Lines, Carpe Diem Quotes, Family, Heart, Inspiration, Michele's Musings, Parenting, Writerly Stuff, Writing | Leave a comment

Snow Day

snowflake_3d_38322.jpg“Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.”  ~Robert Byrne 

 I, like most Native Texans, don’t have the survival skills to live north of the Red River.  Case in point:  Today.  It’s snowing. 

“Should we pick the kids up early from school?” I ask my neighbor, the Ohio transplant.

She laughs.

“Okay,” I reply, not convinced.

The phone rings.  It’s a recorded message from my son’s school.  “School will let out at the usual time, but it is okay if you want to pick your child up early.”

I give into the anxiety that makes me want to stop down, build a fire, and hunker down because white stuff is falling from the sky, I bundle up, jump in my truck and make my way to the school, where every other native is waiting in line with a nervous eye to the sky.

I collect my son and head for the store.  I stand in line with even more natives.  We each purchase the requisite survival gear:  eggs, biscuits, milk, and two fake logs.

Grocery sacks in hand, I brave the elements, dodge the traffic jam in the parking lot and jump in the truck.  I turn the key, then tune into the local radio station. 

“Please do not call 9-1-1 to tell us it’s snowing,” says a representive of the sheriff’s department, “We know,” he concludes, “Our phone lines are jammed and we need to free them up for you know, emergencies.”

Like I said, no survival skills.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

March 7, 2008 Posted by | Her Royal Nerdiness, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, Southern Humorists, Winter | 5 Comments

The Really Big Fat Stinky Elephant in the Middle of the Room

donanobispacem01.jpg“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”  Mother Teresa

The really big fat stinky elephant in the middle of the room 

Is blocking my view. 

What did I chant when I was a child?

“Can’t go under it. 

Can’t go over it. 

Can’t go through it.”

What did I learn as an adult? 

Guess I need to eat it. 

“How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.” 

My elephant has a name:  SonInIraq.

No matter what I do,

Where I go,

How fast I peddle,

SonInIraq is still there. 

And will be there for the next year.

In the meantime:

I work, I pray, I go about my day. 

I write letters

And email

And shop for items

To brighten his day.

My military family grows.

I write and email and shop for items for

Two young men I do not know.

They serve with SonInIraq.

Their mothers do the same.

I don’t watch the news (good advise received from a mom who’s been here, done this). 

I join with families in our Family Readiness Group and “Walk to Iraq and Back”

With phone in hand.  Always. 

Sometimes I dance to Iraq and back. 

It counts.

Moving is good.

I note the time, then add nine hours. 

That’s what time it is for SonInIraq.

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Army Mom, Blogroll, Family, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, Peace, Winter | 6 Comments

Dad – Mom’s Hogging the Microphone

rock_band_cover.jpg“We weren’t too ambitious when we started out. We just wanted to be the biggest thing that ever walked the planet.” Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

I was over video games when controllers went from two buttons to something resembling a ten-key punch.

Then, last night, my 15 year old opened his birthday present .

Life may never be the same.

(And yes, son, I will pay for your therapy.) 

In the meantime: Rock on party people. 

Game Spot Score 9.0 Editor’s Choice:  Rock Band does a superb job of bringing out the wannabe rock star in all of us, and creates one of the best party-game experiences of all time.  – gamespot.com

Carpe Rockem Y’all, Michele

January 26, 2008 Posted by | Best Lines, Blogroll, Carpe Diem Quotes, Dance, Family, Heart, Her Royal Nerdiness, Humor, Humor Writers, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Music, Parenting, Winter | 4 Comments

Happy Birthday to You/Happy Anniversary to Me

birthday_candles_215.gif There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein

On this day in 1993, I had a baby. 

The thing is, I didn’t know I was sick.  I was pregnant.  Way pregnant.  And what way pregnant woman do you know that doesn’t have swollen ankles and difficulty breathing?

It’s a miracle I lived through that day. 

This morning as I look across the Happy Birthday breakfast table at my fifteen year old son, I get a little teary.  I’m so thankful for the miracle that he is, for the joy he brings to the table, not to mention the miracle that allows me to be here to bear witness to this remarkable young man’s life. 

The words of the birthday prayers found in the back of the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer come to me as I watch my son scarf down french toast as only a teenaged boy can do.  For him I thought of this prayer:

“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be. Strengthen him when he stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he fall; and in his heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

And for the 15th Anniversary of the Day I Survived, I thought of this one:

“O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on your servant as she begins another year. Grant that she may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen her trust in your goodness all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ”   

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

January 25, 2008 Posted by | Best Lines, Blogroll, Carpe Diem Quotes, Episcopalians, Family, Heart, Inspiration, Inspirational, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, Peace, PPCM, Winter | 2 Comments

Best Lines: The Holiday Edition

donanobispacem0.jpg “A noted poet was once asked in an interview if he could explain one of his poems ‘in ordinary terms.’ He replied with some feeling, ‘If I could say what I meant in ordinary terms I would not have had to write the poem.’ – Dr. Brian Linard, A Way to the Heart of Christmas

The Advent Season- A time to wait.  And while we wait, we’re asked to remember and anticipate.  At the same time.  Which pretty much sums up my own season of waiting, remembering and anticipating that I’m sure all military families with loved ones deployed far from home experience. 

I find myself drawn to poetry these days.  And songs.  And art.  They comfort me.  The words and the music and the objects of art give me something tangible to hang my thoughts and feelings on as I wait, remember and anticipate.  I’m grateful for the poets, the lyricists and the artists who sum up with their work what I’m thinking and feeling.  They do so way better than I can.  

(And even though I make it a point to keep this blog as positive and as uplifting as possible, I have to say, if I hear the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas one more freaking time, I might shove the radio into the radiator while punching out.)

Today, I read Longfellow’s poem, Christmas Bells.  It’s a classic, I’ve read many times before.  I’ve even sung the words.  The tune hums in my head as I write.  But today, the poem touched my heart.  Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
 

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep.
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!”

December 13, 2007 Posted by | Advent, Army Mom, Best Lines, Blogroll, Christmas, Family, Heart, I Read, Inspiration, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting, Peace, Winter, Writerly Stuff, Writers | 4 Comments

Thoughts on Pre-Deployment Leave

donanobispacem0.jpgLord, bid war’s trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace.~Oliver Wendell Holmes

My son leaves for Iraq.  But before that, he leaves me.  I take him to the airport tomorrow.  It will be the last time I touch my son, umblemished by war.  He will return forever changed.  I know this.  Regardless of his physical state of being on the day he returns, he will be forever changed.  As will I be.  I am not a Spartan mom.  I say lay down your shield and stay here with me.  Safe.  Whole.  I keep this to myself.  But he knows.    

I think of poetry I wrote back in the day.  A whole series likening tears to rain.  What did I know back then? Actually alot.  But my boy was too young to go to war.  I still had control and he was not allowed to play with guns.  What did I know of tears back then?   

November 18, 2007 Posted by | Another F-ing Thought for the Day, Army Mom, Blogroll, Family, Heart, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | 7 Comments

How to Hug a Porcupine and Other Thoughts on Being Family

3909368537.jpgWhen our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Leading up to the holiday season, we observe the following family tradition:  we sugar coat everything, even and especially each other.  There are bigger turkeys to roast.  No time to blow out another’s candle trying to make ours shine brighter.  (I’d so like to take credit for that last sentence, but truth be told, credit goes to a little neighborhood church that specializes in posting catchy-make-you-go-hmmm-sayings on their marquee.) 

We have pies to bake, menus to plan, tables to decorate.  Children to hug, mothers to consult, cousins to gossip with, sisters to help. We engage in preparation and we engage with each other.  We side-step, we over-look, we take deep breaths and we think sugar.  

Sugar helps.  Alot.  When we get cross with the kids we find a little sugar on the cheek or the top of the head does the trick.  Same goes for siblings and parents.  For that one and only special someone though, we go straight for the lips.  This is how to we porcupines hug in our family.  Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele 

© Michele Bernard 2007

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Army Mom, Best Lines, Blogroll, Family, Food and Wine, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Carpe Beatlemanium

poster_across-the-universe1.jpgIt’s enough to make a Beatles fan both cringe and grin, sometimes at the same time……I’ll go ahead and say it: I’m embarrassed by how much I liked this movie. – Jeffrey Chen Windows to the Movies 

“What do you remember about the sixties?” my son asks.

“I was just kid,” I reply, “I remember I prayed alot.  Mostly for the war in Vietnam to end so Uncle Butch could come home.  And, oh, for God to get Donny Osmond to marry me.  Actually, that was probably the seventies.”  I lose myself in thought. 

My son loses interest.  The Uncle Butch he knows is a grandfather.  So is Donny Osmond.  I realize I don’t paint the portrait I try to paint for him.  I’m at a loss as to how to answer his question.  The answer is too big and my attention span is too short.  I too lose interest and move on to other thoughts.

Then I go see the movie musical, Across the Universe.  And there it is:  the answer to my son’s question, a cinematic CliffsNotes on the sixties (or was it the seventies?), a social/cultural documentary told through the words and music of the Beatles detailing the background noise of my childhood.  

I’m not sure the movie is for everyone, but I for one love it.  The love story:  sweet, the issues: real, picking out the obvious and not-so-obvious symbols strewn throughout the film: as fun as solving a Where’s Waldo puzzle.  At times I feel I need a notepad to keep up. 

And the music, oh my goodness, the music.  It’s as if hearing these songs for the first time.  I am amazed at how with a slower tempo, a  different voice, or use of a song in an unexpected context can trick my ears into thinking I’ve never heard these words before.  I purchase the two-cd soundtrack within twenty-four hours of watching the movie. 

The arrangement of Let it Be is the most moving rendition I’ve ever heard.  And Joe Cocker singing Come Together ?  Of course!  Joe Cocker singing Come Together.  He has the perfect rasp to pull it off, and the percussion makes it, dare I say, better than the original version? On a similar note, I truly believe Bono IS the walrus.  All featured artists are fabulous and breathe new life into the words and the music my generation teethed on back in the day.

I pick my son up at baseball practice, stereo thumping.

“Gah Mom!  Can you turn that down?”

“No,” I say, handing him the cd liner notes.

“What’s this?” 

“The answer to your question.”

Coo-Coo-Ca-Choo.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Beatles, Best Lines, Blogroll, Donny, Family, Her Royal Nerdiness, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Movies, Music, Parenting, Theater | | Leave a comment

A Peanuts and Cracker Jacks Kind of Day

ball_field.jpg Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.  ~Carol Bishop Hipps, “October,” In a Southern Garden, 1995

I squeeze hard, breaking the seam of the hard outer shell housing salty goodness within.  Shell flutters to the ground, and piles up around my feet as I pop roasted peanut into my mouth.  October breeze ruffles loose strands of hair escaped from my pony-tail. I brush my hair back and consider the day.  Bright, sunny, blue, and breezy.  Cool.  I love this day.

As I squeeze another peanut,  I look around.  Families grouped in twos and threes surround my family and me.  My father and mother sit in front of me.  My husband to the side.  We all face forward and watch as high school aged boys in dusty white pants and school colors throw the ball, hit the ball and run bases, honing their skills while entertaining those of us who spectate.

The stands we sit on are hard, wooden, weathered, sturdy.  The word historical comes to mind, as well it should.  The baseball park we enjoy this day is 94 years old, only one of two Class A Minor League parks of its kind and age in the nation.  Willie Mays played here.  Johnny Bench played here.  My dad played here. 

Today, my son plays here.  My dad smiles.  Big.  So do I. 

My husband turns to me, revealing a new treat:  Cracker Jacks in one hand, Double Bubble bubble gum in the other.  Within minutes we compare Cracker Jack prizes as we work to see who can blow the biggest bubble.  Cool.  I love this day.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele 

 © Michele Bernard 2007

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Autumn, baseball, Best Lines, Family, Heart, Inspiration, Inspirational, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff | 5 Comments