The Avett Brothers

Toward the end of 2012, someone recommended that I read a book by this new author, Colleen Hoover. She was becoming very popular on her debut novel. It was a romance, and at first, I winced. It was called Slammed. I imagined an E. L. James scenario. It was a YA romance. Before I could tell her that it wasn’t for me, she simply said, “I know you like poetry. It’s about a couple with slam (or spoken word) poetry woven into their relationship. Trust me.” I gave it some thought and put it off. She asked repeatedly if I’d started it and what did I think. I think it’s a bad idea is what I didn’t say.

I finally gave in one day when I was sick and at home.

The first thing I read in this book was a quote from The Avett Brothers. It read,

 

“…I’m as nowhere as I can be,

Could you add some somewhere to me?”

-The Avett Brothers, Salina

I have to admit, by this point, I was intrigued. Early on the main character describes her love for the band. She bonded with her father through their music. Her description of them sounded terrific.

My father and I would stay up at night and sing some of the songs together as he attempted to work the chords out on his guitar. He described them to me once. He said, “Lake, you know a band has true talent when their imperfections define perfection.”

I eventually understood what he meant when I started really listening to them. Broken banjo strings, momentary passionate lapses of harmony, voices that go from smooth to gravelling to all out screaming in a single verse. All these things add substance, character and believability to their music.
-Slammed, Colleen Hoover

As I read, I found more and more of their quotes at the beginning of the chapters. Another character is a poetry teacher and describes them as poets. I found this to be true with every quote I read. I finished the book in no time and loved it. A quick Google lead me to an amazing discovery. They were a real band. I read through lyric after lyric. I pulled up one of their songs on YouTube and only listened for a moment. It didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in.

I asked my good friend, who also happened to be my boss at the time, if she had heard of The Avett Brothers. I hadn’t heard their name out loud, and mispronounced it. She said, “If you mean The Avett Brothers, then yes. They’re great!”

We sat down at her computer, she pulled up a song and played it for me. It was The Ballad of Love and Hate. It was sad. It was sweet. It was a story. It made me love The Avett Brothers. We listened to a few more songs. I was hooked.

That night I listened to everything I could find. Some songs, I didn’t know if I could get into. The first listen just wouldn’t catch me. Then, I would listen again and find what it was I needed from it. I read about them, their beginnings, their lives.

I listened over and over to all their songs. The forums I read said that their live shows were something to behold. They danced, jumped, celebrated, got emotional, and everything between. A friend of mine’s husband got to see them live and said it was the best live show he’s ever been to.

A few months ago, I found out that they were doing a show in Brandon, MS. So close.

I talked about going for a solid month. Tony being Tony, just said, “Well, let’s do it.” I had to do my normal process for what I consider a big decision. I had to overthink, analyze all angles, and doubt every detail. I finally gave in and got tickets with the help of a friend. I was ecstatic.

The tickets were purchased on March 2. I couldn’t wait.

“Well I’ve been locking myself up in my house for some time now

Reading and writing and reading and thinking
and searching for reasons and missing the seasons
The Autumn, the Spring, the Summer, the snow
The record will stop and the record will go
Latches latched the windows down,
the dog coming in and the dog going out
Up with caffeine and down with the shot
Constantly worried about what I’ve got
Distracted by work but I can’t make it stop
and my confidence on and my confidence off
And I sink to the bottom I rise to the top
and I think to myself that I do this a lot”
-The Avett Brothers, Talk on Indolence

Saturday night, I got to see my favorite band perform some of my favorite songs live. I found that my husband also likes them. I was surprised when he wanted to go to the concert with me and my friend. I didn’t think they were his type of music but found him singing along to most of the songs.

The experience defied my expectations. From the moment they stepped onto the stage, the air was electric. The whole crowd went through ups and downs. The emotion that the entire band emitted was incredible.

We laughed with them, loved with them, hurt with them, mourned with them, and were joyful with them. It was an experience I’ll never forget, but one I mostly definitely want to repeat. My friend and I danced and sang at the top of our lungs. I screamed until my throat ached and clapped until my hands were sore. I can’t imagine a better performance. My only regret is that I didn’t find them sooner, but like all things in my life, a book lead me to something great. I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’ll repeat myself again. Words are my most favorite thing, and The Avett Brothers have a way with words.

My favorite quote from my favorite Avett Brothers song reads, “Decide what to be and go be it.”

Short, simple, and to the point.

They give good advice. They tell great stories. They teach me about life. They see a different perspective. They feel everything they sing. They weave magic into their words. They tell the truth. The Avett Brothers are wordsmiths of the first degree. That’s why they’re my favorite band.

November Blue by The Avett Brothers Brandon, MS

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Spring

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Because of all the recent rain, my backyard is a bit overgrown. It’s in need of a mow, has wildflowers springing up. It looks a bit wild at the moment.

I sat on my back steps Sunday and admired it. The overgrowth and out of control shrubs made for beautiful green chaos. My dog rolled in the clover and romped through it chasing her ball. I enjoyed taking the time to just be.

I love plants and growing things. My Paw always had a garden. We would shell peas and beans until our fingers were raw. We’d put up squash, can tomatoes, and at the end of the day, gather ‘round a watermelon on the picnic table. If you’re a watermelon lover, and Lord knows I am, there is something about that first sweet bite. The juice on your tongue, and it running down your chin. There are few things that compare. We kids would be covered in sticky by the time we were done. My grandmother wouldn’t let us near the house until we were hosed down. Seed spitting competitions would ensue.

I miss those springs and summers of my childhood. My skin got darker as my hair got lighter. We rode bicycles til our legs would go no further.

We lived in a tiny community called Weathersby. The pasture that surrounded our house on three sides was green and lush because of the creek that ran through it. I spent those summers up to my knees in water in the small creek and every article of clothing I owned had grass stains. I loved to take off running through the pasture and eat the wild muscadines that grew along the water. I ran wild through the green and my heart was free.

I miss those summers of my youth when the world seemed smaller, and the crazy stuff you hear happening in your own backyard was in far off places like New York and Chicago.

I can already feel the itch, the want to get my hands in some soil. I bought some potting soil and started some seeds Sunday. It’s later than I normally like to start, but death and illness have been with us constantly these last months.

It felt refreshing to get the soil in my hands on Sunday. The cool earth speaks to me on another level. My mother says I get it from my Aunt Hazel. Last year, I found some pitiful looking petunias at the Wal-Mart garden center. They were marked down in their sad state. I came home with all three flats of them. As I unloaded them, I just knew Tony was going to kill me. He walked out onto the porch, looked them over, and said I’d have them good as new in no time. He’s a gem, that one. I potted them up and ended up giving some away after they were looking better.

My snowball trees are showing out. The balls are still green but are bountiful. My banana shrubs are blooming and fragrant. I can’t wait for my little herb seeds to poke through the soil and reach for the sun. I’m waiting for the morning glories to weave themselves among the shrubs and begin their trek around my yard. I get giddy when I think of getting petunias for my porch. If this year is like last, I’ll have jars with clipplings lined on my porch sprouting roots. I want to try my hand at a few new things.

Plants are food, breath, and life. They are like us in many ways. They need lots of water and sunshine and love and care. I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’ve been neglecting life. Spring is a welcome change.

Thanksgiving

Oreo Pie

Thanksgiving prep is in full swing at my house as I’m sure it is in most houses. Luckily, I got most everything I need. My husband informed me he had to make a run to the grocery store. I gave him the three finger salute and told him with a kiss, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” He laughed for a second but looked genuinely afraid as he walked out the door.

I, meanwhile, stood in the kitchen in basketball shorts, hair in a bun on top of my head, and a t-shirt that’s seen better days and took on the task of rolling out dumplings. Although it’s a messy affair, this is something I genuinely like doing. I love the sticky dough and the flour clouds and the rolling and cutting. It reminds me of being in my grandmother’s kitchen listening to her sing I’ll Fly Away and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms while up to her elbows in dough. It’s a tradition and my heritage to know how to mix the dough, how thin to make the dumplings, and what a secret how easy it all is.

I remember the men folk in my family used to break down the door to get in the house for Mamaw’s chicken and dumplings. She’d usher us kids to the table while the stove was swarmed by hungry men. We all said a little prayer that there would be anything left if my cousin, Chris, was first in line. She took great joy in people eating her food. I think I get that from her.

I’ve not mastered, but can make a close copy of her cornbread, chicken and dumplings, and banana pudding. One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever gotten was a few years ago when one of my cousins put an arm around me and said, “Kacie, yours tastes just like Mamaw Ree’s banana pudding.” I think it brought a tear to my eye.

When the dumplings were rolled, Tony came in and asked if I was going to make a trial run. He seemed a little crestfallen when I said I hadn’t planned on it. “But babe,” he said with a gleam in his eye, “how can you be sure they’ll turn out right?” So, I cooked him dumplings to sample. I’m sure my family will be grateful for his quality check.

About ten years ago, I was looking for something simple when I volunteered to bring a dessert for Thanksgiving. I found a recipe for Oreo pie. I had no idea that I was diving head first into a contract for the rest of my life. Back then, all my little cousins were kids. It was love at first bite. All the kiddos were hooked. It was gone before I knew it. I made a mental note to make two for Christmas.

At the time, my youngest boy cousin, Wyatt, was about six or so. When it came dessert time that Christmas, my mom looked at me quizzically and asked, “Didn’t you make two pies?” I told her I had. Upon further investigation of the missing pie, we found Wyatt had taken a whole one for himself. What was on his face was the only evidence to be found.

Now, each and every time we discuss what foods we should bring, I am volunteered for Oreo pie. Most of my little cousins are adults or entering adulthood now. Several have spouses and kids of their own now. They’ve even gotten their spouses in on it. My cousin’s wife, Michelle, was the first to request Oreo pie this year. 

I’ve made the mistake of not making it a time or two. I’ve learned my lesson. After one of my lapses, Wyatt made sure everyone knew that if I didn’t make pie, I couldn’t come to Thanksgiving. My youngest cousin, Maddie, asked about it one year when I brought something else and made a sound of such despair when she discovered there was none. Needless to say, I now know better. This year we will have Oreo pie.

Food aside, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Christmas is wonderful but has been overtaken by the decorating and buying gifts. Thanksgiving is one of the last pure holidays. It’s togetherness and food and being thankful. I took on a full meal with the works last year. It was a lot of work. I was dog tired by the end of the day, but I loved every minute. I’m not doing that this year, but I will be contributing to and partaking in two Thanksgiving meals with some of my favorite people. At the end of the day, it’s not what you eat or where you eat. It’s who you eat with. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Ladies: Loving Ourselves & Each Other

My self-image has been evolving recently, and by recently, I mean the last few years. I’ve gone through areas of change. Good changes and bad. My self-esteem has suffered. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and following on body positivity: at any size, any shape, and any form. So many people have commented saying that it’s obesity acceptance. That’s not the case. Being comfortable with and loving your body at any size is IMPERATIVE for making healthy changes. I’ve figured this out. Finally, almost 32 years in.

Do I think I don’t need to be healthier because I’m okay with my body? No. People hear body acceptance and love and think that people want to be overweight forever or that they want to get bigger. In some cases, yes, people are fine living in a bigger body, and that’s okay. And you know what? That is none of my or anyone else’s business. Over the last few months, I’ve lost nearly 35lbs. I feel better, I move better, and yes, I feel better about my self-image.

Earlier this year, I went through a dark stage. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated it so much, and the more I tried to convince myself that I loved the skin I’m in, it made me hate it more. I said some horrible things to myself about myself. Then I read something that said something similar to that if you wouldn’t look your best friend in the eye and say something horrible about her then you shouldn’t say horrible things about yourself. What I read worded it much better, and I wish I had saved it. I can’t imagine looking any one of my friends in the eye and saying, “You disgust me” or “You’re not worthy.” So, I’m working on not saying them to myself.

I’m still on a journey to heal myself and love myself. It’s a struggle every day. Some days, I look at myself and think this isn’t so bad. Others, I just want to cry. I wondered how many women experience that same thing. I did a little social experiment in my head. I told myself to compliment at least three women per week. Nothing too outrageous or flattering, just things that I noticed and appreciated that my social anxiety would never have let me mention to strangers before.

I started small with an acquaintance at Wal-Mart. This lady has checked me out and bagged my groceries on several occasions. She’s probably younger than me, looks to be Hispanic, wears little makeup, and has beautiful shiny dark hair. While she made small talk, I smiled and mentioned that I wish my hair was as shiny as hers. She offered me a smile back and said it must be the lights. She also said she hates her hair. As I walked away, I thought to myself that it’s sad that she hates something that I find so pretty.

I doubled down on my next compliment. I told a lady that she had lovely eyes. They were almond shaped, heavy-lidded, and looked like they could tell a story. She gave a little smile, said they were hard to apply eyeliner to, and that was that. The more ladies I spoke to, the more I realized that we all hate some of our best features. I didn’t hear once that the person liked what I complimented.

We live in a society that does not accept when we appreciate ourselves. We can’t be thankful for what we are born with, what we are given, and what others appreciate. We are not taught acceptance of ourselves or others. This makes me very sad and also angry. We try to “fix” natural things like stretch marks and cellulite. People say horrible things if any of that is visible. It’s a shame that we can’t see marks that helped bring a precious being into the world as beautiful. 

The more attention I paid, the more I realized that women are the most to blame for body issues. We are catty. We talk about each other in terrible ways. I even do this in my head. I never realized how much I did it. I would never say anything hurtful like the negatives that I think to another woman. I caught and checked myself on several occasions.

I realized too that people think that what is good for them is good for all. On several occasions I’ve heard, “You’d look really nice if you wore a little makeup” or similar comments. I remember thinking, well, I thought I looked nice today.  Also, people try to sell me weight loss products ALL THE TIME.

Ladies, we have got to stop doing this to each other. We’ve got to build each other up and not make someone feel inferior because they have more than 10% body fat or look like they “need to eat a cheeseburger” or don’t wear makeup or wear a large amount of makeup.

One thing is that we have this idea of real women. Real women have curves, real women do this, and real women have that. All women are real women. The curvier lady with the lovely eyes, and the thin lady with a nice smile, the childless women, the abused women, the women who are the primary breadwinner, every single one. We are all real women. It’s time we realize it and appreciate each other.

If I see you in public in sweats, I’m going to think you look comfortable, and comfortable looks good on you.

If I see you without makeup, I’m going to think you look nice and natural. (You’ll see me without makeup more often than not.)

If I see you with your hair in a bun, I am going to think you took more time playing with your family, more time with your spouse, or more time for your own self-care than  perfecting your hair. And that’s beautiful.

If I see you dressed to the nines, face full of expertly applied makeup, and perfectly coiffed Heaven high hair, I’m going to think you’re just as lovely.

Any way you choose to be is acceptable and should be accepted. Love yourself and love each other.

You Don’t Look Sick

 

One of my most recent trips to the doctor had me seated

next to a lady who was very pregnant. This isn’t

surprising for the OB’s office. However, this very

cheery lady proceeded to ask me how many

children I have. None. Then, was I just there for

a check up? No.

After her questioning and me explaining my

issues with PCOS and hypothyroid, she smiled

at me and said, “Well, you don’t look sick. At least

that’s something.” I know she was trying to be

nice, but I was irked.

Dealing with illnesses and issues like mine, I

hear that a lot. I see that my fellow sufferers

hear the same. It’s almost as if my illness isn’t

valid because I don’t look like I have an illness

all the time.

Nevermind the pain, the frustrations, the anemia,

being cold all the time, my hair falling out, the

swelling, the rashes, the depression, how I turn

into a crazy person if my hormones are off, the

weight gain, the insulin resistance, the heavy

prolonged menstrual cycles, the ovarian cysts,

high blood pressure, the heart palpitations, and

that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

My worst enemies seem to be the fatigue and

memory loss. I can sleep 10 plus hours and still

wake up tired. Small things that I should

remember are lost in the wind. Mentally, I can

feel great some days, but my body has no get up

and go. There are a lot of times where I take a

shower and have to rest afterward.

If I don’t get at least eight hours of sleep, I am

like a hungover zombie. I look about like one as

well. I make plans for weekends like I’m your

average adult only to come home from working

half a day on Saturday and sleep the afternoon

away.

Also, no matter if I’m on my feet all day or not,

they tend to swell. If it’s a bad night and my body

decides I need something new to be allergic to,

my lips swell. I end up looking like Will Smith in

Hitch.

All this has vastly improved since I started doing

low carb, and it’s a work in progress, but there

are still bad days. My hormones are adjusting to

my bit of weight loss. My husband never knows

if I’m going to be sweet or salty. I am like Forrest

Gump’s box of chocolate. You never know what

you’re going to get. Although I feel a lot better

most days, sometimes the hormones get the

jump on me.

My friend once described hormone issues like an

out of body experience. That was one of the

most resonating things I’ve ever heard in my

entire life. I can be just completely losing it,

and knowing I’m being crazy, and can do nothing

to stop it. I have to wait out the storm just like

my husband. He is usually great about it. He’s

seen the evolution of changes I’ve gone through

over the years.

I am an introvert and homebody. I’m happy with

work and home. I’m all about comfort zones.

Stepping out of them makes me a nervous,

anxiety riddled mess. If I’m home with my dogs

and a book, I’m am the happiest I can be.

Everything is right in my world.

For those of us who “don’t look sick,” please keep

those thoughts to yourself. I may not look like

the above photod today, and though you mean

well, sometimes it’s best to leave well enough

alone.

Losing Focus

The beginning of the year came and went. My weight was ballooning. I wasn’t watching what I was eating like I should have been. I was feeling really down on myself. As an emotional eater, that didn’t go well for me.

About two months ago, I had a few health problems. Nothing major. Just things that go along with the disorders I already have. I decided it was time to do something. Anything. Even though I’ve been striving hard toward self love, I always fall short. I hate the way I look most of the time. It was time for that to change as well.

I read up on the ketogenic diet. My doctor had already said low carb would be best for me. Basically, eating low carb makes your body use the stored fat/energy it has rather than using the carbs you take in with food. I’ll include links at the bottom for the curious. I read a bunch on the benefits and the drawbacks. Making up my mind, I put my best foot forward.

I am the type of person that has had probably a thousand of the defining moments where you think of what it is you want to do, you prepare for what you want to do, and then after a week or two, you just flush the whole idea. Not this time, I determined, as I took a long hard look at myself.

I am very personal with my health. I don’t tell people more than the necessaries usually. That’s how I am. That’s just me.

For the past year, I’ve been struggling with my hormones, thyroid, autoimmune, and diabetes. The thing a lot of people don’t realize about these disorders is that they come along with many other issues. My tests last year showed the beginnings of diabetic kidney disease. The ACR test, for those who haven’t heard of this, determines your kidney damage and if you have kidney disease. As for the results, under 30 is great, 31-299 shows early kidney disease, and above 300 shows advanced kidney disease. Last year’s test showed me at an 86. I had early kidney disease. My A1C was bad, I had heart palpitations, I was breaking out all over especially my face, I had zero drive, and I was miserable. I realized I’ve been on autopilot for a long time.

Recently, I’ve made changes. I’ve gone low carb. In just a few weeks, my life has changed. People say things like that all the time, and I am not one of those people, but holy crap, my life has changed.

I realized just how doable this lifestyle change is. I can have cheeseburgers with bacon as long as there’s no bun. The only thing I have truly missed is fruit. I still eat berries, but I have to take care to watch my intake. Sugar is sugar after all.

It took only a few weeks to see changes. My rashes went away. My face cleared. I lost fifteen pounds. My blood sugar has been perfect.

My most recent trip to the doctor was the most positive one I’ve had in ages. My cholesterol was good (for those concerned with increased meat intake), my blood pressure was great, my A1C was perfect, and my early kidney disease is reversed. My ACR went from 86 to 14. I am on track to completely reverse my diabetes. My doctor’s office was tickled pink.

I noticed I’m eating more real food and very little processed junk. When I do eat out, Hardee’s can make any of their burgers or grilled sandwiches low carb. This means substituting a lettuce wrap for the bun. My current favorite is the charbroiled chicken club. Tony gets the low carb frisco burger. He even said he never realized how many flavor he was missing out on with the bun.

As for my mental health, I’ve been staying away from Facebook for weeks. I think that helped with my blood pressure, but I digress. Instead of focusing on the outside world, I’ve been focusing on myself and my husband. I’ve been writing. A lot. Maybe not blog material, but it’s been great either way.

Tony is not a man of words. Strange how opposites attract. He made it a point to tell me the other day how proud he was of me for sticking to my guns. We went out to eat with his family. I ate a steak and a salad. I barely missed the bread and potato.

I lost focus for a while. I worried about things that don’t matter, stayed on an emotional roller coaster, ate with my emotions, and was actually killing myself. I’m not saying I haven’t slipped a time or two, but this is the most doable change I’ve ever made. I’m going to keep focusing on myself, keep my health in check, and make sure I don’t lose focus again.

 

https://www.dietdoctor.com/

https://peaceloveandlowcarb.com/the-ultimate-low-carb-resource-guide/

 

Jose’s

Joses

My husband and I have been fans of the Perdomo family for years. Jose used to work for a local Mexican restaurant. He managed it in a way that made you feel welcome. If he saw you more than a time or two, he knew you by name, knew your preferred drink, and more often knew what you wanted before you did.
When we heard that he was going out on his own and opening his own restaurant, we were happy for him. We knew anything he did would prosper.
When the doors opened and we went to see what Jose and his wife, Mandy, had accomplished, we were excited for them. He’d made a beautiful restaurant. The colors were warm, the staff wonderful, and the menu was varied with items that sounded so good, it was hard to choose.They offer an array of favorites from tacos, burritos, and enchiladas to hamburgers, steak, and baked potatoes. If I start talking about the fajitas, we’ll be here all day.

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Jose Tacos, crispy tacos with warm beef and fresh toppings.

I remember the first time we went to Jose’s, the salsa was the first pleasant surprise of many. It was bold with highlighted flavors of lime and cilantro. Most places skimp on the cilantro, but Jose knows his stuff. Tony is a guacamole man. He is disappointed in the whole meal if the guacamole isn’t good. With the first bite of Jose’s guacamole his eyes lit up and a slow smile made it’s way across his face. He became an absolute fan. I got the blackened shrimp tacos and black bean soup. I like to consider myself a foodie, but I was so unprepared for those tacos! The shrimp was seasoned and cooked to perfection. Shrimp is so easy to overcook, and Jose’s has it down to an art. The subtle spice of the shrimp paired with the tangy mango salsa blew me away.

As a testament to their success, Mandy and Jose soon got a bigger building across the highway from their original location. It’s even more lovely and has a lot more seating. It’s light with great atmosphere. The dark wood and metal gives it a modern feel. I believe it is exactly what our small town needs. Any time the doors are open, there are cars in the parking lot. I’ve never seen it have a slow day, and I pass by pretty often.
Our most recent visit solidified what I know about Jose and his staff. Everything they do is consistently good. The salsa is always my favorite. The chips are seasoned and warm. They work hard to keep your glass full and always have a smile.
I really guess I should not call myself a foodie. I’m from Mississippi and up until now, I’d never had shrimp and grits. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this.
I remedied my shaming situation at Jose’s. I’ve heard nothing but good about the shrimp and grits. However, I was not prepared. The grits were some of the creamiest I’ve had. Some creamy grits tend to be too thin, but not these. The consistency was just right. The grits were covered with cheese, remoulade, bacon, and green onions. In proud positions on top were six large grilled shrimp. My taste buds went into overdrive as I enjoyed spoonful after spoonful.

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This is after I took my first bite, so a shrimp is missing. Note those grilled jalapenos. Yum!

Tony got the chile rellenos which are a personal favorite of mine. They came so hot from the kitchen that even the last bite was warm. The rellenos are covered in melty, gooey cheese. The rice and beans are flavorful on their own. Tony mixes them and swears it’s the best thing ever. He also got some grilled jalapenos. I stole a few and added them to my shrimp and grits. I know I’ll definitely ask for them next time. We didn’t have room for dessert, but we sometimes get the fried cheesecake. It’s always spectacular.

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Tony’s chile rellenos. We seriously need to work on our photography.

At the end of your meal at Jose’s, you feel at home, you have a full belly, and you leave happy. Also, the salsa is good enough to drink, and no one will judge you for it. If you don’t believe me, ask Tony.

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For more information (and better photography) about one of our favorite hometown places, Jose’s, please check out the links below.

Jose’s Restaurant & Grill

834 Franklin Dr. SW, Magee, MS 39111

601-439-7155

https://www.facebook.com/josesrestaurantmagee/

https://www.instagram.com/josesrestaurant/

Marie


I grew up in my grandmother’s kitchen. At her elbow, I watched her make biscuits lovingly and with enough practice for it to have been considered an art. She raised her children along with children who weren’t born of her body but were hers all the same. If you tried to say different, you would most likely get more than your feelings hurt. She worked most of her life nursing broken bodies along with broken hearts. Nursing taught her to handle herself and keep calm in most any situation. She was blunt with her words and subtle with her emotions.
After she retired, she threw herself into her home whether it be baking, sewing, or mowing the yard because no one says lawn in the South. She cuddled any baby she ever met and sang the same song to every single one she rocked. Nursing did not end when she retired. She nursed for years her cancer stricken husband and a sister with severe diabetes. Her husband went first, and she never quite recovered. When she did not know anyone was around, she would spend quiet moments in the room where he wasted away before that final trip to the hospital. Sitting on his bed, she would close her eyes for a time, let out a slow breath, and then get on with her day to day chores.
If she ever loved you, she would cook for you, tend to you, and fight for you until she just couldn’t. She was never the most tender of people. After you got a hug and offered food in your time of need, you were told to dry your tears. Crying never did a single soul any good in her eyes.
When she died, my world shifted. It was hard to believe that someone so big, even if she was just so big to me, was gone. I cried for a time. I could hear her voice as clear as a bell telling me to dry it up and be tough like she knew I could. During her wake, the lights went out at the funeral home. Even though it startled everyone, those who knew her personally laughed. It was just the kind of stunt she would pull. I smiled for the first time since she died standing in the dark. When I think of her now, I can only smile. I picture her sitting on her porch in the rocking chairs she loved as she watched cars go by. Those chairs should have fell to pieces with all the miles she put on them. I see her in the kitchen at her stove mixing up a batch of cornbread batter for her cast iron skillet. When I try to describe her most words don’t seem enough. She taught me how to be polite and to swear. She was never anything more than herself and I wish I could have an ounce of the confidence she carried. She was my rock and taught me how to be one myself. I may not be what she was every minute of my life, but I have moments where I can feel her come to the surface. When I feel lost, I find her in me and it’s in her that I find myself.

Today, she would be 93 and has been on my heart all day.

Now is Not Your Forever

While reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green, I read a quote that says, “Now is not your forever.” I had to stop and just be in that for a moment.

I’ve been so concerned lately with bills and problems and drama and just life that I haven’t thought about how temporary all of that really is. These are issues that may not matter in the least in 5 or 10 years. And yet, here I am sighing and stressing over things that I shouldn’t be and looking for answers where there probably are none.

This nonsense that is keeping me up at night is not permanent.

These moments that seem to hurt so bad will hurt less in the coming time.

This worry that I carry will not help any of these situations.

This now is not my forever.

Thanks, John, for this reminder.

No.

Standing in the hallway at school in ninth grade, I remember a boy that I never really cared for, but tolerated, calling me a bitch because I wouldn’t let him be handsy with me. I was putting my things in my locker when he touched my backside and asked if I was “interested” in not so polite terms. I removed his hand, gave him my best death glare, and said no. His exact response was, “Good because you’re a bitch anyway.” I remember telling him he was right and stomping off.

Later, as I over thought and overanalyzed what had happened, I got really sad. He called me a mean name because I wouldn’t let him fondle me in the school hallway. I took it to heart. After thinking about it, I got really mad all over again. If standing up for myself made me a bitch, then so be it.

I’ve seen it time after time where a girl rejects someone, and they retaliate with name calling or worse. Then come the rumors and whispers and retaliation.

If you say no, you’re a bitch.

No should be a word of empowerment.

Over the years, I’ve gotten more comfortable with no.

No, you can’t speak to me that way.

No, I’m not comfortable with that.

No, you can’t touch me.

No, I won’t accept the status quo.

No, you can’t walk all over me.

Use your no. Own your no.

Now, if someone calls me a name or is rude because I said no. I smile. You have the right to say no and stand up for yourself.

Own your no.

Women who have gone before us have not always had the right to say no. We owe it to them to use what we are able to now.

Use your yes as well.

Yes, I am angry.

Yes, I said no.

Yes, I really meant it.

Yes, I am offended.

Yes, I am standing up for myself.

Use your no if you’re not comfortable, if your heart says no, if you know what’s happening is wrong, or if someone is mistreating you.

Always use your no.