Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Entries from the Encyclopedia of Me by Andrea

My middle name.  
If you look it up in a book of baby names, you’ll find it means “womanly”.  That’s because in the early years of women’s liberation, the common meaning “a man’s woman” was rejected in favor of the more powerful and independent description. Okay, then. I am woman. Hear me roar!

I am from South Carolina where my name, at least the pronunciation, is not very common.  There, I always have to pronounce it.  Always have to spell it.  
Scene:  Local Starbucks or sandwich shop in the great Palmetto State
Me (smiling sweetly):  It’s Andrea.
Them (pausing):  Um, can you say that again?
Me (happy to help): “Andrea”... like /Andre/ with an /Uh/, spelled like Andrea /Ann-dree-uh/.
Them (with a quizzical look):  Can you spell that?  

When I place an order in a coffee shop or restaurant here in Texas, I feel like Norm from the old television show Cheers. Everybody knows my name! In fact, the server taking my order probably has my name.  It seems I meet an Andrea every week. I even know a man with the name.  He and his son both. He is not even Italian. From uncommon to a dime a dozen. Pick what you choose, Punchinella.

  • I will read again and again: Watership Down, Little Women, A Voice in the Wind, The Language of Flowers, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Color Purple
  • I will never read: The Help, Gone with the Wind, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,  Twilight,  Fifty Shades of Grey (These are not my cup of coffee... I’m not judging you!)
  • no one will ever believe I read because I cannot believe it: How to Read a Book (original publication from 1940), Pilgrim’s Progress (in modern English), a book entitled Stretching (obviously, to learn how to stretch)

**A few little secrets about my reading life: I read anywhere from 3-5 books in the same time period. I have been known to sort of, maybe read while I drive (as I am slowly pulling up to approach the stoplight or am sitting at the light, not while I actively drive). I have no fewer than 20 books right now waiting to be read. And I honestly think I'm going to get them all read, like, soon. We all have problems. Crazy reading habits are one of my 99.

People use the word love quite flippantly.  I will not be so trite. My feelings for coffee are real.  I delight in it.  I cherish it.  I am devoted to it.  And get this, it’s not about the caffeine.  I drink decaf. (Yes, I know there is still some caffeine in decaf.  It’s a nominal amount. Dr. Google will confirm my facts if you still doubt.) I cannot imagine my life without it.  I tried once in the last 15 years to quit coffee.  I cannot even remember why.  I was a young, foolish girl.  I quickly got over that terrible lapse in judgment.  The best cup (by cup, I mean a lot of cups) of coffee I have ever had in my life happened just a couple of months ago in New Orleans.  The Big Easy is serious about its coffee.  On almost every corner sits a coffee shop.  One can even get a good-from-the-first-sip cup at a corner store or gas station.  I inhaled my first coffee & chicory cafe au lait at the aptly named Cafe Avenue on St. Charles Avenue. A truly divine concoction such as the likes I shall never taste until I return. I tried to make it at home. It works for now. Over four days, I made my way around The Coffee Crescent City - from Cafe Beignet, to Morning Call ending at the world famous Cafe du Monde.  Cafe au lait and beignets. Glory to glory!  I thought I had died and gone to coffee heaven.  
Wait, will there be coffee in heaven?  I can.not.even. imagine heaven’s coffee. Ooooh-la-la!  Surely, there is coffee in heaven.  The Bible says He brews many, many times.  (Hehe. Get it?)

I birthed the first of my tribe at 16 years old. (Yes, it was scandalous. And we all lived to tell about.)  He came one week late.  Labor was 29 hours- start to finish.  Did I mention I was 16? That’s too long for a seasoned mother. Born with a little trouble breathing and totally yellow, from head to toe, with severe jaundice, he was whisked away from me and spent his first eight days of life under lights with tiny, newborn sunglasses velcroed to the side of his head. (Yes, the dents on his temples eventually went away. Now that I think about it, those dents might explain a lot about his teen years.)

At almost 21 inches and 8 lbs 1 oz, he was the Hulk of the NICU.  Unfortunately, the tables turned, and he is the shortest of his siblings (and his wife). He always comments that he is the cute one whenever someone points out this fact. Good thing he didn't develop a Napoleon complex. No, he's not that short.  He says cuteness is his claim to fame.  He and his wife will give us our first grandchild this fall.  A little boy. I pray everyday the little guy is as exceptional as his daddy- that he will be their true claim to fame.   #myfavoriteson
They're pretty cute, right?

My first name.  
I think my mother and godmother thought it would be “unique”, “cute” and “fun”. Just like the person I’d grow up to be...badumbum. My godmother’s name is Ernestine nicknamed Ernie.  Sesame Street had made its debut three years earlier.  You see where I’m going with this?  Naming a little girl Ernie in 1972 made perfect sense, right?  It would be trendy.  The start of girls with old men boy names.  Except... for the first 18 years of my life, new people and familiar people peppered greetings with such teasing as “Hey, Ernie!  Where’s Bert?” or “Did your parents want a boy?” or “Were you named after your father?”  

Most of the time these questions came from adults.  They should know better.  Childhood can be tough enough.  As I simultaneously tried to find and recreate myself senior year of high school, I dropped Ernie and introduced myself as Andrea.  The name change didn't really work for the old people who'd known me... from birth.  To this day, as soon as I cross the South Carolina border, I am Ernie--- said as slow and drawn out as pouring molasses. “Eeeearn-knee”

Pluckers with our favorite server! Teriyaki wings and fries.  Every. time.
I am not a big eater, but I love to cook.  Let me rephrase that.  I used to love to cook. I used to make fabulous, sit-down, themed dinners.  Now, I’m tired, and my kids are almost adults and hardly ever at home. My husband is quite gracious.  He acts like Costco chicken, canned beans and microwaved white rice make a gourmet meal.  Sometimes, he eats cereal.  Just a few short years ago, I would not have dreamed of letting my man eat cereal for dinner! (Before you wag your finger, ladies, he cooks, too. We are an equal opportunity household.)  A cool part of having almost grown children, who can feed themselves using their own money, is my hubby and I can now afford to go to my favorite restaurant almost every Friday to eat my favorite food on the planet- chicken wings.  And because I’m a teacher, we get a free appetizer, too!  #perks

Greene Girls
Emary (18), Abrea (20), Alisa (17)

Three daughters.  Abrea, Emary and Alisa.  Different as earth, wind and fire, but they have been a package deal since 1997 when the trio was complete.  Friends and family used to apologize (sort of) for not knowing who was whom. Once, I overheard a philosophical young boy of about 5 years old say to his mother as we walked by, “Those girls look like time.”  Curious, I stopped as I heard his mom inquire as to what he meant.  He replied, “They look like the same person at different times (meaning ages).”  
They are stairsteps. Thirty-three months from first to third. When they were younger, if seated, most people thought they were triplets.  In fact, Emary and Alisa are the same age for 6 days each year. Don’t judge us. 

Many years ago, the 4 year-old daughter of friends lamented as her parents admonished her to call the girls each by name, “But they all look the same.  I am not sure which is which.”  To solve her dilemma, she dubbed them collectively “The Greene Girls”.  No matter which she wanted to address, she’d say “Greene Girl”. The name stuck.  Just about everyone uses it still in much the same way.  The girls are seen as a unit.  Though as different as night and day and twilight,  they really are three Greene peas in a pod.  Exactly the kind of love connection among my girls for which I prayed.

Husband and I
He (a poem)

He and I
He makes a superb pot of coffee
And fixes my cup exactly the way I like.  
He takes care of me 
And everybody.  
He holds my hand.  
And opens my door.
He is my best friend, my treasure from heaven.
And after him, God broke the mold  
He is one of a kind 
And perfectly mine.

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