April 29, 2021

College & The Older Gal

As another semester closes in my old-lady-online-journey towards my bachelor’s degree, I have to laugh. Being an online student in a recently remote world, I’ve had the advantage of not exactly feeling my age. I can correspond with my classmates, and they presume that I am just like them...taking an extra class here or there online to get across the finish line.

That is until this semester when I embarked on my Small Group Theory voyage, where we naturally had (thankfully only) one group project. I was one of six undergrads and the only adult of the group. I initiated the first contact with my group members as soon as I found out who we all were.


A few days went by and I sent another group message, thinking maybe my first message didn’t go through. Our project was to choose one of a handful of movies to review, each movie could only be selected by one group- meaning if we didn’t act fast, we would be wasting an awful lot of time in the selection process. (I quickly realized this is an old-lady thought...college kids have nothing but time. Waste it away! Not on my watch, hoss.)

Still nothing.

Finally, roughly 36 hours before our movie selection was due and almost a full week after my first message, I had received responses from 3/6. Well, shit. I thought. A mere few hours before our selection was due, one straggling response came in.

“Yes, let's review Mean Girls!” the classmate said. 

So fetch.

I’m not sure what happened to her after that post. Perhaps she was abducted by aliens or the flying murder hornets from last year found her, but it was the last we heard from her. Then there is the other classmate who never felt the need to respond at all. (How do people do that?! I cannot not respond or complete tasks. #oldladystatement)

As predicted, our movie was already selected so we went back to the drawing board. I encouraged my groupmates to check their email daily and please, for the love of worms and dirt, respond to your peers. They basically stuck their tongues out at me and made a farting noise. 

“Honey, they are in college...all they care about is hooking up and partying and...”

“Not doing what I freaking ask of them?!”
“You are the mom in the group, aren’t you? You’re mothering all these poor college kids that just want to go out and drink, barely get-by in this class...and..”

“AND I AM NOT HAVING THAT!! NOT ON MY WATCH!!” I said again, “We are not...and their parents are not paying GOOD money for them to go to school and have them fail. And I’m not failing this project just because I’m in a group with a bunch of half wits.”

“Poor kids,” my husband whispered.

I’ve never sounded more like a 36 year old mother in my life. I didn’t care. 

I sent messages out daily and finally, my group mates got tired of hearing the morris code of dings on their phones as messages came through, and 3/6 helped to choose a movie to review, selected topics, chose which portions of the paper they were going to work on, and had their portions of the paper back to me by the date I instructed. Praise the Lord.

After submitting our paper, I sent one final message to my group. I thanked them for their patience and let them know I was the oldest in the group and without some schedule, it was difficult to juggle two full time jobs, mom life, farm life, wife life, and college life. I received two responses.

“You kept us really organized. I figured you were older,” from one group mate. (Thanks...older. Ouch.)

“When is this due?” from the group member we never heard from during the entire.freaking.process. 

Small Group Theory - one thing is for sure, I learned the difference in myself on the first college go-round and now, during our time together. I am very thankful to be the somewhat obsessive, schedule oriented, straight A student that I am today. 

February 28, 2021

Why We Are Staying Remote

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that you have to find your own groove and work it. (Actually, I'm not sure Covid taught me that...I've always kind of danced to the beat of my own drumline. But you know....still.)

Tomorrow, our county schools will return to part-time, face-to-face teaching. But we are going to continue our groove online. While we had a rocky start to online-life, we have found our rhythm and to change it up at this point in the school year just doesn't seem to make sense for us. Perhaps I would feel differently if face-to-face was full time, rather than part-time. Perhaps I will feel differently in the fall, if the schedule remains partly-remote and partly-face-to-face. But right now- I don't want to change one more thing in my kiddo's school schedule.

Additionally, and I am writing this while holding my breath because I know someone's head may explode while reading this next part...I don't feel like our daily Covid numbers are wildly different than they were in the fall when we attempted this same plan. Yes, I understand there is a vaccine now. I also understand that students aren't getting the vaccine. 

Also...selfishly, I enjoy having lunch daily with my daughter. Every single day, we sit down and talk about the first half of our day. She tells me about her morning's google meets and I tell her...well, mostly I complain that I've been starving since like 10:30am. (I mean, I do really think a coffee/pastries truck that circulates past the office, similar to an ice cream truck, would make a killing in our industrial park.) This little bit of extra time we have been able to share over the last year has been priceless. Given the option, I'm hanging onto that extra few hours. 

I know this plan won't work for every family. I know my opinion doesn't match the opinion of others. But what is great is that we can differ in our views and still be friends. I do hope and pray that the return to a real normal is just around the corner. But for now, cheers to blue-blocking glasses and pajama schooling.

January 29, 2021

Rugged + Bougie

Christmas Break.

My cowboy and I are fortunate to work together- literally. Aside from getting to flirt with each other at work, another perk is having the same days off around the holidays. This break, we found ourselves with a real-life, first-world-equestrian problem. Who gets the truck when one wants to use it for side-work, and the other wants to use it for horses. Side-work wins because it makes money instead of costing. (Rude, if you ask me...but nonetheless.)

"You need a truck of your own," he slipped up and said one evening.

The words no sooner left his lips than I had begun the hunt for the perfect, somewhere between rugged and bougie, cowgirl truck. And oh, did I find it.

The wheeling, dealing, photo-sending, and number-crunching was all completed via phone call and email- so when we arrived in Sterling, Va all we had to do was sign on the dotted line and head back home. (We like to do one-day, round-trip road-trips...this is how we live dangerously at 36.)

The ride north was relatively uneventful...except for the rock that cracked my otherwise perfect 4Runner/trade-in before we even got out of North Carolina and a sighting of Marine-One hovering over the interstate. The ride south included an incredible amount of excited giggling...and not just from me. 

"OMG!! This thing has wifi!? I'm setting up our wifi name..." 

"You should make it..." I cut him off, I already had the perfect name.

"PrettyFlyForAWiFi!! Do you get it?!"

"*eyeroll* Yes, honey...I get it." (He is really so lucky to have married a comedian.)

We were partially delirious somewhere around 7pm. (Hour 13 of our trip) We were desperately looking for a bathroom- and potentially, somewhere for dinner. We pull off the interstate and make an attempt to follow signs to a gas station? McDonald's? What was it we saw a sign for? 

"Fort Eustis?" my husband says.

"Ohhh!!! An army base! They totally have bathrooms," I exclaim. 

"They are not going to let us use the bathroom," clearly in a panic, "And I can't have a concealed weapon on an ARMY BASE." (Don't worry, he has a permit for it.)

At this point, we are fast-approaching the guard gate. 

"Probably best to do a U-Turn...they probably won't let us on the army base," I say, all while getting the look.

Due to Covid's blessings, most of the fast food restaurants weren't allowing patrons inside so ended up in the most magical place in all the land. Target. And what typically accompanies a Target? Chick-Fil-A. In the word's of the great Ice Cube...(it) was a good day.

A few days later, Little Miss & I set off for our first adventure in the new truck with our equine-babies. We had a great ride in the woods. The horses approve of the new truck, while Tristan wishes I would stop documenting his love for purple.  

Later that evening I dreamed about my daddy...one of those dreams, that are more like visits than dreams. He was leaning up against a fence post in the lawn of his church in Hyde County. I pulled in with my new truck, jumped out and ran to him.

"Daddy! I just wanted to hug you and show you my new truck!" I said, as we wrapped our arms around each other.

"I love it, Bud...I already saw it," he said with a wink.

I woke up and could still smell his hug on my skin. It might seem silly to feel like my daddy had a hand in me finding something like a truck- angels are just tasked with watching over us, making sure we are not in harms way. But my angel is a farmer...and nothing ever tickled him more than his little girl driving trucks and trailers.

January 3, 2021

Hindsight is 2020

This is the time of year for reflection...reflecting on the good, bad, ups, downs, positives and negatives of the previous 12 months.

2020 was definitely different, but I can’t say it was awful- at least not for our little family. We learned so much about ourselves over this last year, whether it had to do with the craziness of Covid-19 or not. We grew. We evolved. We figured out what and who mattered most in our life and what is worth putting in the work to keep around. Some things we waved goodbye to- alcohol, some friendships, and sadly, my waistline. As we waved goodbye to some things, we made room for others- a solid relationship with God, family-time, mother-daughter trail rides, motivation to work even harder, and a bigger drive to be better people.

I have always had faith and a relationship with God, but being able to share that with my spouse and have a solid relationship with God together is a whole new level of amazing. I found that in my worries, which...more often than not are ludicrous fabrications of tiny, little molehills that I have morphed into mountains...when I prayed or more-so expressed my concerns to God- I stopped feeling the worry I was originally overcome by and started feeling grateful. {Worry is just a lack of faith...you have faith...stop worrying about the unknown and be thankful for what is right in front of you.} 

Over this last year, I've been reminded that life is a lot like a horse pasture- it takes work to keep good footing. Without good footing, you're quite literally just stuck in the mud. {I relate every situation to horses- if you didn't know that, you must be new here. Welcome.} We have to tend to our life pasture, adding things to make it better each year. This year, we added a whole lotta Jesus to our footing and spent a little more time in our pasture. (If 2020 has awarded us anything, it is a little extra time at home.) 

For those who struggled during this previous year, 2020 was just a rock in your pasture. A new numbered year won't change the outcome unless you allow for it to happen...tend to your pasture, add to your footing- I promise, it is worth it.

Happy 2021!

December 8, 2020

The Keeper of the Dream: Don Bridge

I heard the news of your passing right before bed...and flashes of memories started playing through my mind like scenes from a movie.

It was Little Miss's first ever audition. We walked into the auditorium and she had all the confidence in the world right up until she saw the stage. She turned green. Don saw us and walked over, coffee in hand- as it often was.

"Which one of you is going to join us in Oliver!?" he grinned.

"I'm a little nervous," Little Miss whispered, with her hand in front of her mouth.

"I get nervous at every audition and I can't even begin to tell you how many I've been to in my old age! Hey...come on, let's do it together!" he said, grabbing her hand and dragging her onto the stage, before she could think twice.

The fear in her eyes melted away instantly. She smiled, they laughed, and she received her first acting role as an orphan in Theatre of Dare's Oliver.

I heard your words in prologue as my heart raced and the tears flowed down my cheeks.

Evening! Well, I see you’ve found your way here too. Don’t blame you at all. I
come out here myself...every evening about this same time…

“This can’t be real,” I thought, as I instinctively opened Facebook messenger.

Frozen, I scrolled through our messages.

“Where you at?” you sent me in the middle of the summer.

“The new world!” I replied.

We spent some hundred evenings under the stars together at Waterside Theatre. Any who have worked in theatre (or like me, are living vicariously through the acting career of their child) know that during a production, you have routines outside the actual blocking of the show. You may have 60 seconds to chat with this person before they go in for Queen’s Garden, then 3 full minutes to catch up with another before Big Battle, etc. Don and I had our routine and on this evening, I wasn’t where I was supposed to be to chat. (If memory serves me, there was a lost bum-roll in the children’s dressing room. There was always a misplaced damn bum-roll.)

Our nightly chats are a memory I will cherish for my lifetime. We often spoke about the spirits that live on in The Lost Colony...the dreams that live on from year to year in the sand.

“I can’t describe it- but…” I said once.

“If you get it, you get it. You feel it. You, Riya, your mom...you feel what we feel here- it is a spiritual place,” he stopped, tears filled his eyes, “I have to stop because I’m just a big softie and it is almost time to christen the new baby….hey, what do you think they’ll name it?”

Last winter, we joined Don in Theatre of Dare’s production of Mame. On evenings that I wasn’t at rehearsal, my phone would ding with videos and photos of Little Miss. He was as proud as I was to watch her grow, develop her art, and bring her dream of acting to the stage. One evening, before the show opened, he stopped me in the parking lot.

“You’ve got to slow time down. She’s growing up too fast on us,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

Time has gone too fast- and now your Final March has been taken. But the thing with us Colony-folks is...the Final March is never really final. Your dream, our dream, the dream lives on in each person you inspired...each person whose life you touched- your spirit will live on through them.

If there was ever a keeper of the dream, it was you, Don Bridge. The keeper of all dreams...big or small. We love you. You will be remembered.

“And down the centuries that wait ahead, there’ll be some whisper of our names, some mention and devotion to the dream that brought us here." -John Borden