Jimmie Brags, Part Three: The Inside The Actor’s Studio Edition

I don’t know if you recall, but I was nominated for a blog award due in large part to my fine writing skills, yo, and I’ve handled that nomination with a certain amount of grace and gratitude. You will ignore the times I have brayed like a donkey about it. Anyway, the award has three facets, two of which were addressed here and here, and today I am addressing the third one.

For the final hurrah, I am to nominate 11 other blogs for this award and ask 11 questions of those writers. I thought about that for a while and decided, like everything else in my life, that I was going to handle this a little differently.

I’ve stolen 10 of my 11 questions from James Lipton of “Inside the Actors Studio” fame, who stole them from Bernard Pivot, the host of a French show call “Bouillon de Culture.” I then added one question of my own and asked the most actor-type person I know to answer them because nobody wants to look at a bunch of unanswered questions.

Ashley, of Dammit Todd and Ashley, once briefly appeared on an episode of “Nashville,” and today will serve as our guest. I, Jimmie Lipton, will be hosting. Please imagine us sitting in arm chairs on a stage, Ashley looking calm and casual as she talks about her work while the students cheer, and me gently asking questions with a Just-For-Men-colored goatee and a slight comb over.

Ashley, what is your favorite word?

Love. Yep, I’m a total sap.

What is your least favorite word?

I’ll keep this appropriate. Moist.

(Jimmie Lipton’s note: Solidarity, baby!)

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Walking on my Greenway.

(Jimmie Lipton’s note: Eerie, isn’t it? It’s like we are twins . . . )

What turns you off?

When I’m too busy.

What is your favorite curse word?

Fuck.

What sound or noise do you love?

Rain. And owls.

What sound or noise do you hate?

When someone is eating or chewing out loud.

(Jimmie Lipton’s note: Oh, hurk, yes, this!)

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I’d like to be a legal mediator.

What profession would you not like to do?

Storm chaser or maybe washing windows of skyscrapers.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Heaven does exist, and I’d like God to say something along the lines of . . . . “Come here my daughter.”

Finally, Ashley, tell us the nicest thing Dammit Todd ever did for you.

One of the most thoughtful things Todd has done for me was celebrating Easter with me. Why was that so thoughtful? Well it was thoughtful because he went out of his comfort zone and spent the day doing things he wouldn’t have on his own, but did because he knew it meant a lot to me. He went with me to my grandparents’ church and then to their house with more of my relatives he hadn’t met before. It’s not always easy to get Todd to mingle around a group of strangers ;), but he was very thoughtful that day.

Ashley.  Gorgeous, ain't she?

Ashley. Gorgeous, ain’t she?

And now for the 11 other blogs. These are people I think you should read, in no certain order. Some of them don’t fit the criteria for the nomination because they are too famous. Doesn’t matter, you should still read them because there is a reason they are famous.

Is That A Hair In My Biscuit – My sister, the creative one

JDaveRhea – My brother, the creative one, who probably has more credentials to do this than any of the rest of us

The Adventures, Musings and Rants of Nurse Bananahammock – Nurse Bananahammock who plays a nurse in real life

Run♥Yoga♥Love – You guys, this is Freddie! I don’t run and I don’t yoga but she writes so well I can’t help but read it

Bye Bye, Pie – This woman is hilarious and has the fortitude to do this every day

Posie Gets Cozy – This is probably the most peaceful thing you’ll see in your whole life

Ashley Quite Frankly – I have no idea how I even found this one but I like her

I Wanna Be A Writer – we have the same hometown, so every now and again, I know someone she talks about

Skinnytaste – where I get a ton of my recipes

Miss Doxie – she has not blogged in years but read the archives. You’ll pee on yourself.

Looks like that’s only ten but its not like you can take my award away because I’m short one.

Oh, wait, I forgot this blogger. ELEVEN, bitches!

Brittany, Herself – this girl will push your boundaries, and you’ll by turns be squeamish and awed

Bloggers, please accept this Liebster Award nomination and participate if you like. Feel free to steal my stolen questions and answer them on your own blog. Make sure you tag “Liebster Award” to get the views from everyone else participating.

Thanks, everyone, for playing along with me. This was fun!

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The Old-Fashioned Way

You know how I tell you all the time that all my siblings and parents and family got all the talent and I got nothing? Read this. Look at her handwriting, even! I’m a leftie and I count myself lucky that you can read what I write. No flowing penmanship for me. Blocky letters only for the purpose of legibility. Also, if I don’t write with a super fine point pen, I smear ink all over my hand and the page as I drag my hand through the words.  It’s ridiculous.

Also, I’d like to point out that while I love everything about this post, I also like deodorant. When was that invented exactly?

Jimmie Brags, Part Deux

Continuing on with my humble and thoughtful posts related the blogging award I recently received, the one for which I was nominated because of my fine writing skills (yo), today I will answer 11 questions that Martie posed to me. Most of these she knows the answer to but since the point is to engage you people, not her, I’ll graciously answer them. Plus I like talking about myself. It’s the entire theme of this blog.

Answers to 11 Questions Posed by Martie
By Jimmie

1. What color is your hair? Tell the truth, now.

My enhanced color is blondie/brownie with three gray strands, right in the front. I am inordinately proud of my fake hair color.

My real color is mouse with three gray strands, right in the front.

2. What kind of car do you drive?

Oh, I know this one! A grandma car!

3. What is your favorite kind of gum?

Ice Breakers Grape Ice Cubes. I don’t like sophisticated gum.

4. Where were you when you had your first kiss?

Can I tell a story here? You knew this was coming.

In high school I had this mad crush on a boy named Shawn. Oh, I liked him desperately and I yearned for the day he’d discover me, make me his girlfriend and let me wear his football jersey every Friday before the game. A year or so passed from the onset of my crush and to my great surprise, Shawn and I became friends. Perhaps I should have struggled over the dilemma of “do I give up my crush for this really great friend, or do I continue to pine for him as he sits across the table eating Mom’s meatloaf?” For those of you who ever lived as a teenaged girl, the answer is obvious. Never give up your crush. Carry it till your death, or at least until he kisses you for the first time.

One afternoon Shawn came over and was eager to tell me that one of my friends had ratted me out. This friend told another friend who told another friend who told Shawn that I had a crush on him and also that I’d never kissed a boy. The clouds of dust behind the wheels of Shawn’s car as he raced over started Dust Bowl, 1988, I’m pretty sure. Shawn knocked on my front door, parked himself on my mother’s sofa and said, “I heard you’ve never kissed a boy before. I’d like to be the first.” Then he grinned at me with his braces-covered teeth.

Isn’t that romantic? Oh, my heart leapt all up into my throat and my stomach seized up in paroxysms of excitement! Shawn leaned over and sweetly, slowly touched his lips to mine. It was glorious. I swooned. And then he partly opened his mouth and I partly opened mine and he shoved his tongue all the way down my throat. I was so surprised that I bit down, hard, on the offending choking mechanism and he, so surprised at the pain, jerked back and said accusingly, “What are you doing?!”

“Choking,” was my reply, and we both scooted apart, nursing our injuries. I reflected on my first kiss as Shawn and I sat separately on the couch. It was nothing like the George Michael make out session I had dreamed about for the last three years. “What a big fat disappointment,” I thought, and with that, my crush simply disappeared.

So all of that tells you that my first kiss happened at my house, on my sofa with a boy named Shawn. The end.

5. Do you wear glasses or contacts?

Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses. I think that neatly explains my single status.

6. How many siblings do you have?

One full, one half, two step and one outlier step that I’ve only met twice. So . . . nine.

7. Where did you go on your last vacation?

I went here:

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8. Where are you going on your next vacation?

I’ll visit these people:

Daddy-O and JiJi

Daddy-O and JiJi

9. What was your worst job ever?

When I lived in Alabama, I found myself in the unfortunate position of being poor. I didn’t like being poor so I decided that a second job was exactly what I needed. I found one in a factory, cleaning from 5:30 – 9:30 pm, Monday through Friday. I’d leave my professional job, arrive at my factory job and change into ratty cleaning clothes in the bathroom. Then I would don latex gloves, mix up my mop buckets, and cruise around the offices emptying garbage cans. Once that task was completed, I’d make my way into the factory where I’d clean bathrooms, clean the kitchen, and clean the break room. Someone more tenured than I felt that purchasing white, textured tables for the kitchen was a great idea, and lo I spent many hours scrubbing those tables with bleach to the get the factory dust and stains out of them. As the men walked into the break room for their evening meal, their eyes would tear up from the bleach fumes, yet no one complained. My fingernails stayed in a constant state of disrepair. I hated it. I hated cleaning toilets, smelling of bleach and realizing that no one was going to clean up their mess in the microwave. The job only lasted a few months before I tired of it, and someone more tenured than I tired of paying a cleaning crew, so the cleaning positions were eliminated. I’ve never been more relieved in all my life.

I did get a boyfriend out of that job, though. He was probably the nicest boy I ever dated.

10. Have you ever had a bad haircut? Explain!

Instead of explaining, I’ll provide photographic evidence.

Example One – my first real haircut and permanent.

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The beauty expert rolled my side wings into those Shirley Temple curls and I, knowing no better, styled my hair that way every day for a year.

Example Two – my second real haircut.

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The beauty expert neglected to tell me that my hair was too short for the layered cut I wanted, and that cutting it this way would only emphasize the largeness of my nose, the squinty-ness of my eyes and would do nothing to camouflage my large bosom. Shawn, of the above make out story, said as I walked into school with my new hair cut, “What happened to your hair? Can you glue some of it back on?”

I have excellent taste in men.

11. Where is your favorite place to write?

I prefer writing at Panera, and that is largely due to their Thai Chopped Chicken Salad. But also, the Panera closest to me has a great corner table with two seating options. If I’m feeling cozy I can sit on the booth side of that table, or if I’m feeling rigid, I can sit on the chair side of the table. If my table is taken when I arrive (and I always go early to ensure I get it), I fall into a snit. I park myself nearby and glare at the offending patron until he/she leaves, then I schlep all my stuff over to my table and mark my spot while I get in line for my salad. Love Panera!

Thus endeth my answers, and thus endeth my post for today. Tune back in next week for the third installment of “Jimmie Wins an Award and Crows about It: Finis.” Don’t forget to let me know if you have a blog of your own I can check out. I’d love to feature you if you are amenable to that, and I’d love to read what you have.

Jimmie Brags, Part One

You guys, I got nominated for a blogging award! I’ve never been nominated for anything in my life – never in high school when I barely spoke because I was “shy,” and never professionally because who gets nominated for booking excellent travel? Boss surely wouldn’t have nominated me for anything after my reserving a car for him in the wrong city. Twice.

Still, I was nominated for the Liebster Award and while I am much chagrined to have not yet received a plaque to hang on my wall or a fat check, I will take this award as mine. You are to ignore the fact that Martie, my sister, nominated me, and you are to embrace the fact that I was nominated for my fine, fine writing skills. Yo.

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Now, by accepting this award, I must promise to do several things. First, I am to tell you 11 things you don’t already know about me. Then I am to answer 11 questions posed by Martie. Finally, I am to nominate 11 other blogs and pose 11 questions to those writers. I’m on board with all of these things except perhaps the last one. I’m not certain that I know 11 other blogs. Does this mean I’m a snoot? I’m a snob, aren’t I? How about this – if you read me and you have a blog of your own, why don’t you reach out to me and let me know who you are. You can do that privately or publicly, but please give me the opportunity to know you.

Because I often get long-winded, I’ve decided to break this award post into installments. I’m writing like Stephen King now. You get one installment today and then two more installments later. It will be worth the wait, I promise. Plus, there’s only so much time you can waste on the innernet at work. I want you to remain productive members of society.

Now that the rules are out of the way, I will begin the promised assignment.

Eleven Things You Don’t Know About Me: A List
By Jimmie

1. When I lived in Colorado, I used to hitchhike all the time. And I picked up hitchhikers all the time. Before you get your panties in a twist, you need to understand that I lived in a tiny little ski town called Crested Butte, and the permanent residents totaled 1500 people. Plus, everyone who lived there, either permanently or temporarily, was either a full blown hippie or at least hovering right on the edge of it. It was a peaceful place, and there was always someone who had a vehicle equipped with better snow tires than mine – a necessity for living on a snow-covered mountain.

2. I dated a man from Kenya for a brief time. He was 6’9” and had legs like tree trunks. I cannot tell you what he looked like or whether or not I thought he was handsome. I only know that for the only time in my dating history, I felt tiny. It was glorious.

3. I think fresh fruit in a salad is an abomination. And I think that citrus flavorings in a wet dessert (for example, pie or cheesecake) is barf. However, fresh fruit and/or citrus flavoring in a cake is divine.

4. Michelangelo’s David, up close and in person, makes me lose my breath. I saw it when I was 19, and it was all I could do to walk away from him when I was summoned. Never has a piece of sculpture or any other artist’s work moved me in such a way.

5. When I was a child, I never ate plain potato chips. I loathed them. Barbeque? Lovely. Sour Cream and Onion? Fabulous. Plain? Ick. I have since mended my ways.

6. Once upon a time I lived in Alabama, and I had a group of friends that loved me beyond reason. I was poor and it was Christmastime and I very much wanted a tree. Unfortunately, I could not afford one. One night while at work, two of that group of friends drove over to see me on my lunch break. In the back of their pickup truck was a live tree, purchased just for me. We decided to make that our group tree and once it was set up in my tiny two-room apartment, we had a Christmas party and decorated our tree with donated ornaments. It was one of the best Christmases of my life. I’d lie in bed and gaze at that tree all night and thank God that He had given me such lovely friends.

7. I gigged a frog once.

8. My cousin won a photo contest with a picture he took of me.

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9. I have had one broken bone. Four years ago on Thanksgiving Day, Martie dropped a skillet lid onto my pinkie toe and broke it. It hurt like a mother-, no. It hurt like the dickens, but I didn’t care. I had my first broken bone and I carried that with some pride. I survived a broken bone. I had a purple toe. I walked, upright, with a broken body part. Y’all, I was a peacock. I am annoying.

10. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was ten. Madre bought us bikes, pink ones with pretty streamers, and she spent hours running up and down the road, holding on to our seats as Martie and I attempted to learn to ride them. And then Daddy-O bought me a vintage bike, painted it yellow at my request, and put a blue sparkly seat on it and some blue sparkly handles. He spent hours running up and down the road, holding onto my seat as I attempted to learn to ride. None of that worked. I gave up. And then one day a couple of years later, I was talking to Jeanie Sloane in her front yard and I said, “You know what, I’m going to get my bike.” And I got on that rusty blue and yellow thing and rode, just like that.

11. Jesus once spoke to me, in a voice that I could hear. He said, “Amanda, I know everything there is to know about you. I still love you.” I laid myself face down on the floor and cried for the joy of it.

Thus endeth my list, and thus endeth my post for today. Tune back in on Thursday for the second installment of “Jimmie Wins an Award and Crows about It: Part Deux.”

Thank you to Martie over at Is That A Hair In My Biscuit for the nomination. She nominated me because of my FINE WRITING, y’all, gah!

Emily Jane – Emily’s Halo for Hearts

I want to tell you a story about a little girl, and even though I never met her, she’s pretty important to me. Her name is Emily and she was the daughter of my friend Vonnie, whom you know here as Woney. Vonnie had three children, two girls and one boy. Rachel is the oldest, Sam is the middle, and Emily was her youngest.

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Before Emily was born she was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Coarctation of the Aorta. When she was eight years old her heart began to fail, landing her on the heart transplant list, and then she contracted protein-losing enteropathy. All of those big words simply mean that Emily had a bum heart, a bum heart simply means that Emily did not live until her ninth birthday.

July 2001

It’s never that simple, though, is it? Human life can never be reduced to simple words. Vonnie and I talk a lot about Emily. Sometimes those conversations are sad. She tells of how she and her husband moved from Hawaii to San Diego in order to get the best medical care for her daughters – Rachel was also born with a bum heart. She tells me of the steps they took to get Emily on the heart transplant list. She talks about how they waited for so long but a heart never came, and she tells me of the decision they made to turn off Emily’s life support. I cry with her as she tells me about the process of waiting for Emily to go, one mother, one father, one sister, one brother, all saying good-bye to the littlest one with the most broken heart.

In other conversations, we talk about the happy memories. Emily was a precocious child, older than her years. It was so easy to think of her as an adult – her medical condition carried a gravity that only adults should know, if anyone should at all. Yet Emily would scamper all over the baseball field like the child she was, making friends with children and adults alike. “You want to go the snack bar? We can get candy, my mom has a tab,” she’d say to anyone she found interesting. Later you’d find her eating a hot dog in a woman’s lap, a total stranger, but Emily liked her and wanted to be held. Vonnie paid many an exorbitant fee in ball field snacks, all in the name of Emily’s new friends, and friends they were. Everyone loved her. It was easy to – look at the exuberant smile, those eyes as blue as an ocean. Emily was just like her big sister and big brother – special and lovable and beautiful.

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You never get over the grief of losing a child, no matter how many good memories you have or how often you talk about it. It never goes away. But what you can do with some of that emotion is turn it around into something beneficial for someone else. The hard truth is that children are born every day with heart problems. Every day they are put on a waiting list to live. Vonnie, with her infinite love for her lost daughter, has started a foundation called Emily’s Halo for Hearts, and with it, she will provide financial assistance for the families of those heart-patient children. If they are lucky, their insurance will cover those medical costs, but the other associated costs of having a sick child – money for fuel to and from the hospital, mortgage payments because work is the last thing on your mind, groceries for the other babies in the house – mount swiftly and relentlessly.

This post was not written to make you cry, although the truth is I did when I wrote it. This post was written to give hope, to Vonnie in the name of Emily and to the families who are in the midst of their own medical crisis. It was written with hope to ask for your help if you feel so inclined.

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First, please check out the Foundation page. If you search hard enough, you’ll find me there along with the rest of My Girls. The more you look at it, the more recognition we can get. Also, find us on Facebook and like us there. Again, we will be able to do more the more recognition we get.

Emily’s Halo for Hearts

Emily’s Halo for Hearts/Facebook

Secondly, check out the ways you can donate. It’s not just giving your money for a foundation (although that would be lovely) – you can get some pretty cool loot, too. That hoodie was created with me in mind, I’m sure, and the next time you see me, I’ll be wearing it.

Emily’s Halo for Hearts – Shirts

Emily’s Halo for Hearts – Jewelry

Thirdly, please share this with your friends. Share it with anyone you think might help. Most importantly, and I hope none of you are in this situation, share it with someone who needs this type of assistance. This foundation is here for that family, that child, and it would be an honor to help them.

Emily’s Halo for Hearts – Application

Thank you to anyone who feels moved, either to donate, to like or to support us in any way. Thank you so much.

Love,
Jimmie

School 1997

Reason #498 For Jimmie To Not Have Children

What you see here is my niece, Pooh, playing softball.

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And what you see here is my niece, Tigger, ponytail flying, socializing with her friends. That is her sport. She’s very good at it.

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What you don’t see here is me, sitting on the bleachers, sniveling and carrying on because these children are growing up too fast for my liking. Every accomplishment they attempt makes my throat close up and my eyes sweat. Pooh plays the trumpet in the band. Tigger reads at a level far above her years. Pooh is in middle school. Middle school! She fixes her hair now and wants to look trendy, and sometimes the three of us talk about boys!

These poor children. They want to live their lives and do all the things their friends are doing and I’m cheering them through it on the outside, but inside I’m begging them to stop. Just be babies again, just for a minute. My heart cannot take this, and my eyes are puffy enough what with my being over 40 now.

Still, I take it on the chin like every self-respecting adult. Like a grownup. When Pooh runs off the softball field, eyes shining and words tripping breathlessly out of her mouth in a rush to tell us that her coach is proud of her, I do my level best to croak out a “Me too, baby. I’m proud of you, too,” and then wait until she flitters off back to her friends before I let the tears fall. It’s what an aunt does. It’s as close as she can get. I don’t know how you parents do this.

Among Other Things, A Series Of Selfies

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I was packing my walking shoes for the trip to Key West I was taking with Madre when I noticed that I’d worn out the bottom of my shoes. There was a large spot in the center of the shoe that only separated my foot from the sidewalk with thin pieces of rubber and stuffing. I suppose that says a lot for the amount I’ve walked since Easter, when I bought the shoes, and a lot for the amount of work my pedicurist had to do when I last visited her. I crammed the shoes down as far as I could and zipped the case closed.

Madre and I had been planning this trip since Poppa died but only 18 months later did we plan it in earnest. I think Madre didn’t want to leave her comforts, her safe places, and I had other trips already planned with My Girls. But plan it we did, and on a Monday night we flew out of Nashville into Miami on a puddle jumper that rattled in uncomfortable ways.

For six days Madre, Auntie Anne, Auntie Susanne and I enjoyed nearly every nice thing the Florida Keys have to offer. Aunties Anne and Susanne have lived there for a while now, so it’s lovely that we can visit whenever the hurricanes are not in season and when the Aunties are not travelling elsewhere. I get my love of travel from Auntie Anne, the person who took me to Chicago at seven, New York at twelve, and Europe at nineteen. I celebrated my twentieth birthday in Chamonix, a chilly little ski village in France and found myself an Italian boyfriend for two days in Sienna thanks to her. Not everyone can say that, I assure you.

The four of us packed up Auntie Susanne’s boat one day and headed out to the Marvins, the one place I was desperate to go. All the pictures in green, the ones that don’t look real, those are the Marvins. Madre and I walked around the island in the middle of the ocean, swishing our feet over the sandbar and swimming in the tide around the parts that were too deep. We nearly proved ourselves inadequate for that task, but we made it around the island feeling tired and virtuous. I could happily spend the rest of my days on that island, but it seems to me that I say that about every body of water I’m parked near. I guess I’m a water baby.

I met Seaborne, the dog you could tell was over me and my selfies. I met Chico, whom I’d have taken a selfie with but I had a suspicion Chico would have eaten my face off had I folded myself Indian style next to his carriage. Auntie Anne is the one with the very short hair, Auntie Susanne is the one fiercely captaining her ship, and Madre is the one with the sponge man, a strange yet delightful Key West oddity. The car door has a car painted around it and can be found on the wall outside of my bedroom at the Aunties’ house. The tarpon you can see underwater probably weighed nearly what I do. The trees are Banyans. They grow in ropes and are massive. The art belongs to the University of Miami, where Madre and I took a walk and got soaked in a torrent of rain about a mile from our destination, rendering me a liar. I’ve now been in public in a wet t-shirt. The snail was simply scootching along, minding her own business, enjoying the heat and the humidity.

Speaking of the humidity, I’ve never in my life had such unruly hair. In the normal state of things, humidity and heat cause my hair to go limp and sit lifelessly on my head. In the Keys, however, my hair took on a whole new persona, one that was fluffy and large and often unmanageable. If you think that upset me, you are sorely mistaken. I reveled in the bigness of it and gleefully tried to comb it out every night, admiring how the sides of it barely fit into the image I saw in the mirror. My skin was hydrated, dewy (sweaty) and covered in mosquito bites by the end of the trip. My body was relaxed after days of lounging in the pool or lounging in the hammock or lounging in a chilly bedroom with a good book. I read five.

Madre and I packed our belongings to come home. I stuffed in my walking shoes, even thinner on the bottom now as Madre and I walked every day and zipped my case closed. It was fatter than when I arrived (shopping) and at the airport, they made me unpack it so that it would fit in the carryon bin of our puddle jumper airplane. I tried rearranging everything but finally resigned myself to the fact that the shoes were not coming home with me. I threw them in the trash, re-zipped my case and passed through security with flying colors. Madre and I discussed how I would get a new pair of shoes when I got home and how she now knows that she can leave the comforts of home for other comforts and not worry. She can let go and relax and not hold everything on her shoulders that she and Poppa used to shoulder together. She has others who will shoulder it with her and for her when she wants to visit her sister and take some time to laze in a hammock.

Thank you, Auntie Anne and Auntie Susanne, for allowing us to be your houseguests. I’ll be back soon, Woney in tow, and let her see for herself why your house is such a wonderful place.