Thursday, June 2, 2011

Countdown to the big 5 0

In 390 days I will turn 50 (assuming nothing tragic happens between now and then, God forbid, throwing salt over shoulder now).

For the past 3-4 months my attitude has been pretty crappy about this upcoming event. The little voice in the back of my head says things like, "Yeah, *sigh* eat the fries. So what. You're turning 50 soon. *sigh*." Feeling "beyond this age dragons lie" like the uncharted territory on old maps. Sometimes I feel 17, most times I feel a confident 35. Wrapping my head around feeling 50 has not been successful, so far. Right now it is about as appealing as granny underwear, wrinkled hands, and 5:00 suppers.

On a long drive back and forth to Atlanta by myself a few weeks ago, I was able to fully ponder this event and had what I think is a remarkable paradigm shift.

I am going to spend this year preparing to turn 50 because IT IS GOING TO ROCK. I am going to shape my life, my priorities, my work, and myself so that when 50 comes, fingers crossed, I'll be doing exactly what I was meant to do and, more importantly, want to do. I want to feel good, look good, make art, retire from economic development, hoard my time, get off of Facebook and get face-to-face with friends, and bare my soul. And, lucky reader, write about it along the way.

So, stay tuned. The countdown to 50 will start June 27th, 2011.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I literally turned in my Master's thesis 2 days and 2 hours before I was going to start loosing credit hours and retaking classes in order to graduate. With six years to write the damn thing, it took me all but 50 hours of the time allotted to complete it. What was crazy stupid is that I remember entire days/weeks/months staring at the computer. (And, if the Internet had existed as it is today when I was in school, I would have no degrees because talk about a way to kill time.)  I wasn't writing. I soon hated my topic. It was neither earth-shattering, interesting, nor important. Life became a series of punishments. Since I wasn't writing, I wouldn't allow myself to do anything fun, either. I hated writing, and I hated life not writing because the lack of writing HAUNTED me.

Most people can be broken down into either needing carrots or sticks to get motivated. Carrot guys can work towards a goal. Dangle a reward out there and they'll work like crazy for it. Punish, and you get no results. Stick people need a kick in the ass every now and then to get things done.

What's really killing me these days is I am trapped back in the days of staring at my computer and not allowing myself any "fun." I am woefully behind on a client project that entails a ton of writing and organizing what feels like an overwhelming amount of information. Bored to death with the project and vowing never to compile data for a website, again, I find that I will only allow myself to either:
  • do nothing
  • surf the net because, hey, I am on the computer
  • avoidance behaviors like this blog
  • any other small project I can knock out
  • or housework. 
My art room is beckoning to me but I dare not walk upstairs because I am being punished for not getting my work done. I carry a notebook of information and my laptop around like a freaking albatross around my neck.

Apparently the "carrot" of getting paid isn't motivating enough. The "stick" of disappointing my client even further is going to come crashing down on me soon. Maybe writing this out will help. That, or I could go check Facebook again to see what's happened in the 15 minutes since I last peeked at it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Letter to my 20-year old self

(I saw where Bizzy did this and had to emulate her.)

Dear Krissy,
You've been making noises and failed attempts to run away from home. The junior year in Boston you bagged out on. Next summer you are going to apply to camp jobs all over the United States but your mom is going to guilt you into staying home and planning a wedding attended by 500 of their closest friends. Run! He's a nice guy but it doesn't work out. Run! Save everyone time, money, lawyers, and pain. Run!

Your biggest regret will be you've never lit out and lived in a huge city. You visit places like NYC and Chicago and walk around gape-mouthed because of the unending waves of opportunity and coolness. Get your diploma and head out to DC, Boston, San Francisco, just go.

And, quit worrying that you are fat. Right now, you are not fat. One day, you will know fat and you will look back on pictures of yourself and go, "dammit, I've never worn a bikini in my life."

Along those lines, that self-esteem thing. It comes from you. Not from boys. Just sayin. You take a long time to figure this out. "Man-free in '93" to be exact. You can save a lot of heartache if you work on this now.
You will always devour books, make people laugh, work hard to keep your opinions to yourself, be able to keep other people's secrets, and adore shoe and clothes shopping (and buying).

As for that liberal arts education. Still a great idea. The ceramics, anthropology, women's studies, and tons of English classes helped shape who you are today. I'm glad you didn't have to endure four years with only two electives or something horrible like that.

Career advice - always go the extra step. No matter what job or task. No one wants to tell someone exactly what to do and have them only do exactly what is told. Figure out how to add value without being asked. It makes a difference, and you don't stay in crappy jobs long because of it. You will have to take crappy jobs, however, but they make for great stories later.

Buy stock in Apple.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Checking in on the "What do to with my life?" question

Let's see...since last I've posted: I've shucked one non-profit commitment (Airport Board) for another (Co-Chairing the Paducah School of Art Fund drive with John); have been shamed into a website (appropriately so) which I started off like gangbusters with but now am procrastinating on the last few pages; found ways to kill enormous amounts of time on Facebook (friend me, please!) and Linked-in because it feels like I'm doing something; and, am taking a drawing class Mondays and Wednesdays at the art school on Broadway. I actually feel like my brain is being pried open and knowledge is being shoved in during the drawing class. I was horribly afraid of the "old dog, no new tricks" issue cropping up.

So, no closer to the big looming question, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?, but no further away either.

JAW and I had a good trip to Switzerland courtesy of Wachovia and added days to tour Provence. I had a cheese course there that was so good I burst into tears upon completion. I want to eat in France every day.

So, four months to go to figure out the question of the year. Don't know if it will happen or not. Suggestions for figuring it out would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, July 7, 2008

It was worth it for this picture

My OLDER brother, Bradley (everyone else calls him "Brad," but I like the nasally sound of Bra-ad-lee in a little sister kind of voice) and I took an amazing adventure together over Father's Day weekend.

My parents were estranged from their families most of my brother's and my lives. Therefore, we didn't know much about the Reeses or Larsens. Throughout the passing of both of my parents I made a connection with my cousin Pat, and we've intermittently kept in touch via email. Pat is about 15 years older than me - the oldest cousin in our generation - and has been a family historian and genealogist for 40+ years. Brad and I decided we need to know more about the Reese side of our family and spent about 24 hours in Asheville, North Carolina learning more in that time about our roots than our respective 45 and 46 years on earth.

For the first time in my live I visited graves of family members. Pat shared all of her "documentation" that she has collected including government records, family photos, and stories that have been written down. We toured the church my parents were married in and had an incredible flashback walking through Hendersonville, North Carolina's "Curb Market" where my mother and I would escape to when visiting family. She would buy me corn shuck dolls and herself dried flowers. It smelled and looked exactly the same, and yes, I bought a corn shuck doll.

The trip was worth it for one picture, however. I gasped as I was clawing through a pile of my Dad's documentation folder. I had never seen my parents so beautiful or so happy. My guess is this was taken either on their honeymoon or right after getting engaged.

Mom and Dad died relatively young in excruciating ways to watch. Avid smokers for all of their lives, images of respirators, oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, nursing homes and hospice are the legacies I had in my head after their deaths in May 2005 and May 2006. While trying to care for them from afar, I spent almost 2 years burning up the roads between Knoxville, TN and Paducah dealing with issues no one should have to deal with. At one point a doctor actually said to me on the phone, "well, if your Dad is not any better when I get back from vacation in 10 days, we'll have to talk about unplugging stuff." Nice.

I can't explain how that crap flew out of the window when I held this picture in my hand. Pat scanned it and sent it a few days after our visit. I immediately emailed to family friends who, too, were amazed. I think they look like movie stars. Many have commented that my Dad looked like George Clooney.

I am just thankful they look so young and in love.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mamoo Got the Cardboard Box

One of the enduring stories inmy life is about the death of my 80+ grandmother who we called Mamoo. Mamoo was not a nice person. She had four sons the youngest of whom was my father. (My dad is on the left, Mamoo, then Uncle Pat. In the front left is Uncle Tommy and Uncle Billy in the middle.)

All her adult life Mamoo recounted the story of how she and Bean, my grandfather, fell in love and eloped because they knew her family would not bless the marriage. Mamoo, it seemed, had a couple of years of teacher's college in the early 1920's and lived in the big white house on the hill. Bean's father was the town drunk of Hendersonville, North Carolina and my father learned how to cuss from his grandfather in the pool hall. Bean was a mechanic with a sixth grade education.

Mamoo and Bean ran off and married returning to her unbelievably distraught parents. I think she even used the terms "weeping and wailing" describing them on the doorstep. Miraculously, seven months later, the largest premature baby ever born in Hendersonville, NC came into the world with Mamoo and Bean as the parents. A whopping 9 pounder was my Uncle Billy, who was "sickly" the rest of his life from being a preemie.

When my mother and father were courting, Mamoo recounted the story at dinner one evening. Mom got in the car later and poked Daddy in the ribs chuckling at the bravado. He had never figured it out until that moment.

For years prior to her death Mamoo harangued my father about being cremated and buried next to Bean. She was obsessed with this. (Of course, she was obsessed with herself. I remember we got a postcard one time about a huge bowel movement she had. I still can see her scratchy little handwriting saying, "I don't know where it came from, I eat like a bird!") For a small southern town, cremation was weird. When she died, her wish was honored.

The funeral home was packed and for the first time in my 20 something year old life I met relatives I had never even heard about. I remember walking in and being disturbed by two things. One, no one, NO ONE, shed a tear. And, two, sitting in plain view on the funeral director's desk was a brown grocery bag with "Alyce P. Reese" and her death date on it. I was sure it was Mamoo.

We filed past the office with the bag and proceeded to the cemetery. The chairs were lined up under the tent and the AstroTurf was laid out. There in the middle of the AstroTurf was a small white cardboard box, about the size of a baby's shoebox. All the little old ladies filed into the seats and glowered at my parents. Yes, we were going to bury Mamoo in a cardboard box.

Mom and I were standing on the sidelines. I whispered, "surely we're not going to bury Mamoo in a cardboard box?" A bad liar, she replied, "um, no, um, there's a nicer box inside the cardboard box. In a minute the funeral director will come take the nice box out." Never happened. The service started and no one could take their eyes off of the what Mamoo had been reduced to.

Then Mom and I had a "Chuckles the Clown - Mary Tyler Moore" moment. (At the time, Saturday Night Live had a skit that our family loved. Someone imitating Lillian Carter explained what happened raising Jimmy and Billy and why they turned out so differently. It went something along the lines of 'one Christmas, Jimmy got the brand new shiny red bicycle, and Billy, well he got the cardboard box. Jimmy got to eat all the chocolate covered cherries, and Billy, well he got the cardboard box.' etc. etc. etc. I found the transcript of the skit here: SNL SKIT)

About halfway through the service I leaned over to my Mom and said, "well, Mamoo got the cardboard box." We lost it and received even more glowers from the little old ladies.

The paper bag held her "personal effects" which I discovered when I put my hand into it in the back of the car on the way home to Knoxville. No jewelry - a ratty old nightgown and some dentures have created an "ick factor" I carry with me to this day...

Monday, February 4, 2008

I hate my dreams

I don't think I've ever had "a good dream" while sleeping. I don't necessarily have bad dreams; but most are like a Fellini Film. Crazy wild chase scenes, odd characters from my past, complicated situations, mostly looking for something or somebody, and, occasionally, swimming. Very, very strange.

Now, my waking dreams, I like. One day owning a very cool rubber stamp and art supply store in Lower Town, watching the kids find careers they are passionate about, retiring early and spending the last 20 - 30 years of my life traveling and living in Napa, CA, building a new facility for the Boys and Girls Club, and losing 50+ pounds! Those dreams I like to dream.

The nighttime dreams make me worry about my psyche. What did I do to deserve such unrest???