Donna C. Terrell

I Was Just Thinkin'

Message to Mr. and Mrs. Stuck

This is from Sony. Yeah, that’s right, I’m the TV that lives in this house. What, you didn’t know TVs could talk? Yeah, I talk, and so does the dog, cat and all the other so you thought were inanimate objects around here. We talk amongst ourselves all the time. We get along pretty good. We even have parties, when CD Player is in a good mood. The only one we kinda have a problem with is Litter Box.

What do we talk about? A lot of stuff, but mainly about you two. You’re cool; we like you just fine. But you watch waaay too much much of me, and you can be so ordinary. You’re in a serious rut. So we objects have all been thinking. Maybe if you make small modifications here and there, it can lead to other things!

Let’s start with Fridge. Can we change up the salad dressing? French and Italian is cool, but there are so many different kinds these days! Why not try a vinaigrette, or something with raspberries?

Spice Cabinet says there’s plenty of room for some more stuff. Salt, pepper and seasoned salt is so 1970s. What’s wrong with bringing in some other spices, at least lemon pepper. You always say you don’t like real hot spices. Things don’t have to be hot, but a little kick might be okay. Surely you can tolerate a kick! There’s a whole world, literally, of spices! Try some more. It’ll pump up that cubed steak that’s always in Freezer. Speaking of cubed steak, why does it always have to hang out with white rice? It wants to get to know Dirty Rice and Jasmine Rice, maybe even Wild Rice. You might like it.

Now Bed says you put him to sleep. He’s tired of the same two sets of sheets. He wants color and texture! Same with Walls, they want color too.

Here’s the thing—to be stuck in a routine is mind-numbing. Next thing you know, you’ll be watching me from different ends of Couch. How do I know so much, you may be wondering. I’m a TV. I get all the information, whether I’m actually on or not. Change is good! But speaking of change, don’t mess with my NFL Network and ESPN!

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Message to Mr. and Mrs. Stuck

This is from Sony. Yeah, that’s right, I’m the TV that lives in this house. What, you didn’t know TVs could talk? Yeah, I talk, and so does the dog, cat and all the other so you thought were inanimate objects around here. We talk amongst ourselves all the time. We get along pretty good. We even have parties, when CD Player is in a good mood. The only one we kinda have a problem with is Litter Box.

What do we talk about? A lot of stuff, but mainly about you two. You’re cool; we like you just fine. But you watch waaay too much much of me, and you can be so ordinary. You’re in a serious rut. So we objects have all been thinking. Maybe if you make small modifications here and there, it can lead to other things!

Let’s start with Fridge. Can we change up the salad dressing? French and Italian is cool, but there are so many different kinds these days! Why not try a vinaigrette, or something with raspberries?

Spice Cabinet says there’s plenty of room for some more stuff. Salt, pepper and seasoned salt is so 1970s. What’s wrong with bringing in some other spices, at least lemon pepper. You always say you don’t like real hot spices. Things don’t have to be hot, but a little kick might be okay. Surely you can tolerate a kick! There’s a whole world, literally, of spices! Try some more. It’ll pump up that cubed steak that’s always in Freezer. Speaking of cubed steak, why does it always have to hang out with white rice? It wants to get to know Dirty Rice and Jasmine Rice, maybe even Wild Rice. You might like it.

Now Bed says you put him to sleep. He’s tired of the same two sets of sheets. He wants color and texture! Same with Walls, they want color too.

Here’s the thing—to be stuck in a routine is mind-numbing. Next thing you know, you’ll be watching me from different ends of Couch. How do I know so much, you may be wondering. I’m a TV. I get all the information, whether I’m actually on or not. Change is good! But speaking of change, don’t mess with my NFL Network and ESPN!

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On Friendship and Falling Away

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As far as I know, I haven’t done anything to Roslyn (not her real name). One day we’re making plans to get together; next day I call and she sounds all distant and then stops answering texts. Hmmm, what’s up with that? So I text in about a week. No response. Okaaay… Then I send a card in a month with a short message about how I value her friendship and if I’ve done something to offend her, let’s talk about it. No response.

Well, having reached the age of old-enough-to have-wisdom-and-still-young-and-cute-enough-to-enjoy-it, I know when to leave folks alone. This is not the first time a friendship has disintegrated. There are certain relationships you just know will stand the test of time, like with Linda. She was on my Christmas list when I was seven and I figured she’d be on it when I reached 70. Not so. Over the course of time when we became young adults, Linda’s childhood angst started surfacing, and she would start cycles of bizarre behavior that would involve getting angry out the clear blue sky and not speaking for days, then weeks, then months. I remember when she got mad at her brother and me and walked out of a restaurant during her mother’s birthday dinner. (Now if you storm out on your mama…) What we did is still a mystery. I know now that Linda had some serious emotional issues, but at the time, it didn’t feel good for a lifelong friendship to disintegrate.

I think of Belinda, and I realize that it’s been over 20 years since I spoke to her. That, I guess, was a natural drifting apart. She got married and had children, and I was still single with no kids. I would go to social events at her house and realize that most of the people there were married. Next thing you know, weeks would go by between phone calls, and now I haven’t spoken to a person I was once very close to since the 20th century.

I was responsible for ending my friendship with Jackie. We went out of town together with another friend, who was more Jackie’s friend than mine. Some goofy things happened on that trip, and there was a slight falling out. Jackie did call and we talked about it, but things were never the same after that. To her credit, she tried to stay in touch, but I just wasn’t interested in resuming the relationship.

President Obama is partly to blame for Debbie and I not having seen each other since he was sworn in the first time. I remember Debbie sending me a clip from one of his speeches, and telling me in no uncertain terms should I vote for this guy. When I told her I agreed with him, it set off a firestorm of email back-and-forths. I told her we don’t have to email; we can talk about this. Next thing I know, our once-a-month Starbucks meetings lessened. Then I started working more regularly and we couldn’t meet up. Now it’s been well over 4 years since I’ve seen her. Although Debbie and I were very close,  there have been periods of time in our friendship where we weren’t in each other’s lives. Both times when Debbie was pregnant, I had no idea. But she always got back in touch. Hmmm, maybe in 2016…

With some people, you don’t miss the friendship and you don’t really think about them too much. With others, you grieve the loss. Some losses are abrupt; some gradually drift due to circumstances in life. With some people, you realize where they are and you ride it out. Right now, my good friend Michael, whom I’ve known since high school, has been kooky for over 2 years due to a deteriorating marital situation. So if he says he’s going to do something and then I don’t hear from him, whatever. If 2 or 3 months go by with no contact, whatever. I pray for him, don’t take anything personally and move on.

I don’t have blood brothers and sisters, but I have been amply blessed with lifelong friends who truly are my brothers and sisters and they’ll kill anybody who says it ain’t so. Relationships with Clotele, Ebon and Donna—they ain’t going nowhere. I had ups and downs with each of them, that’s natural during the course of decades between family. But they’re stuck with me and I’m stuck with them. Clotele’s daughters are stuck with me. Donna’s mother is stuck with me and my father is stuck with Donna and Clotele. That’s how it is!

They say people are in your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime. I don’t know where Roslyn will fall in ultimately, but I think we should praise God for our lifetimers. They are truly rare indeed.

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On Laflin Street: Searching for a New BFF

One day Linda went inside her house and never came back out.

I would go over there to see if she wanted to come out, but she would say, “I’m watching TV.” Okay, the sun is shining bright, it’s 82 degrees and you want to stay in and watch “Let’s Make a Deal?” What???

This had developed into a pattern. Craig and I were perplexed over this behavior. And speaking of Craig—his family was about to move away to a far suburb. I’ll never forget what his mother told me: “Well, Donna, it looks like you’re gonna have to get you some new friends.”

It was a hard realization, but I accepted that. Now Linda and I remained close as ever; I would just go sit inside with her.  We’d talk and laugh for hours. Craig and I wrote letters weekly and talked on the phone a lot. You’d think he moved to Morocco. Really he was less than an hour away, but when you’re 12, it might as well have been on another continent. So as far as hanging out, going places and doing things, new friends had to be incorporated into my life.

I could always easily adapt to new situations. When my mother died, I adapted. When Linda “made a double” and was then a grade ahead of me in school, I adapted. I made friends easily and was able to get along quite well in my new post-Linda classroom situations. I buddied up with Cheryl in 6th grade, Stephanie in 7th, and Rhonda, Marilyn and Jeanette in 8th.  They were cool for talking on the playground during recess and walking back and forth to school. But what’s interesting is none of those friendships stuck. Now I do need to add a word about Carla. Carla and I had been friends since 3rd grade; she hung with Linda and me. Carla, too, made a double, so we weren’t in the same classroom. She lived right behind me on Justine. We became close, but Carla’s family moved away right after 8th grade. (BTW: I was slated to make that same double a year before Carla and Linda. My parents vetoed it. Yay, Mom and Dad!) There also was a forlorn-looking girl who always stood by herself on the playground named Clotele. I don’t really know how Clotele and I became friends, but in high school we were in the same homeroom and were locker partners all four years. We ate lunch together, were in the same classes and she could be trusted. And no two girls partied harder than us in college, fake IDs in tow.

I first saw Donna as she was walking down the alley that divides Laflin and Justine. She was coming home from a Girl Scout meeting. I was playing in my backyard with Carla. Carla and Donna knew each other from Justine. When I started hanging with Carla on Justine, I got to know Donna and the kids on that block. I didn’t really care for the Laflin kids, and I found I really clicked with the Justine kids.

They say that when you are growing up, you have friends by proximity. I had to be with the Laflin kids because they were there. As you get older, you have friends by choice. Those are the important relationships. I chose to go over on Justine. I chose to go over to Donna’s house and hang out with her. The cool thing is she, also, chose me. She would come to my house. She would call me. We went places together. And what’s even cooler—we are close to this hour.

Donna was the one who came outside. We shared experiences. She joined my neighborhood drama class.  And when I started taking acting classes downtown, I could take her around those kids and she would fit right in. We went through the Stupid Boy Thing together. Later, we would go through the Stupid Man Thing together. We pledged the same sorority. We are sisters. Boys, thinking we were lying when they tried to hit on us, would challenge, “How can yall be sisters and have the same name?” We would say, “My mother is not her mother and her father is not my father,” or “When we were born our parents couldn’t afford separate names.” (The goofball we said that to actually believed it.) I was adopted into her family, and my father will kill anyone who says Donna isn’t his daughter. And yes, Donna’s mother features prominently in my wedding pictures standing next to my husband, my father and me. There are also very cool pictures of me, Donna and Clotele—my only bridesmaids—laughing at the reception. My brother Craig made sure things moved along smoothly that day.

I haven’t seen Linda in many moons. Not my choice. I assume she’s fine. If she wasn’t, I’d hear about it. I have indirect links to her family. However, some people are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Let’s hear it for the Lifetimers.

Recent pics of Donna, Ebon Craig* and me                                        Clotele and Donna

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*Craig recently legally changed his first name to Ebon Craig.

 

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The Power of Peace and Perspective

So I’m up at 4:00 a.m. to get started on the weekly routine. I like to be at the gym as close to 5 as I can. Totally pumped. I have absolutely no motivation for 5 in the evening. It’s imperative that I get my Monday workout. I feel that working out on Monday sets the tone for the rest of the workout week. I rarely miss a Monday workout—been doing it for years and years. I also have been striving to spend the first 10 to 15 minutes of the day with the Lord, something we know also sets the tone for the day. I find that my morning goes remarkably smooth when I do this.

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So anyway, I’m up at 4:00 a.m. , which is my latest routine. I turn the TV on to get the Weather Channel. No cable signal. No cable signal!!!! What the heck????!!!!! We just went through this a week ago! They said my DVR crapped out, so they replaced it, taking stuff I hadn’t watched yet including irreplaceable shows. So I’m on the phone with Comcast at 4:10 a.m. I was for the most part cool, but I was like I just went through all this and yall better get somebody over here on this day before Monday Night Football!!!!!!!! The BEARS ARE PLAYIN’! I was also impatient because I didn’t want to get thrown off my gym schedule. Time is of the essence!

The problem was resolved and I made it to the gym by 5:15. I figured I’d recoup my time with the Lord when I got home, or while on the train. I also realized I hadn’t even spoken to my husband, except to shriek at him to not touch anything having to do with the cable situation.

It took me hours to calm down. I have no idea why, but I was hyped up until about 12:30 that afternoon. That was a lot of stress for so early in the morning. I had to really fight to get back into peace. I don’t remember if I actually spent time with the Lord that day or not. Probably not.

The devil knows what will push our buttons, and he has a list of custom-designed irritants for each one of us. The cable not working may not have bothered some people, but for me that’s supreme. I would have taken off work to get it straight. And on Monday night when the Bears are playing? C’mon now…

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

Satan always wants us to go to the left, but we have to train ourselves to go to the right. It is important to maintain peace in our homes and within our spirits. How do we do that? We have to turn it around in our mind.

One of the meanings of the word perspective is the capacity to view things in their true relation or relative importance; the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed. The way you view a situation can turn things around. With what perspective do you even view your spouse? Is she the nag who’s always bugging you about going to the doctor, or the one who cares about your health? Is he the one who always forgets to tell you his debit purchases so you can keep track, or the one who brings every dime home? We gotta turn these things around in our mind so we can live in peace.

We need to learn how to employ peace and perspective in all phases of life, especially in marriages, because if there’s no peace there, there’s no peace anywhere in your life.  Perspective will help us keep the peace. Right now, my husband is working nights, so our schedules are totally flipped flopped. So instead of me flying off the handle when he’s in the bathroom in the morning (it’s hard to bite my tongue about that, I tell ya), knowing I just came home from working out and I got to get in there so I can get back out, perspective and peace says just get my breakfast and lunch ready.  He did avert an argument once when I was about to start one—he said “You should have just jumped in the shower with a brother.” Now that would have kept the peace, right?

And when my football coach husband is watching Basketball Wives at 7:30 p.m. on a Monday Night—don’t ask me why or how that even happened—I just go to my NFL Mobile app. Instead of picking a fight, perspective and peace says at least he’s not watching Honey Boo-Boo.

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The Christmas Connection–or Ways to Keep Everybody Happy During One Really Short Week

The “Christmas Season.” It’s only a hot month long, and everybody has plans–plans for good and not evil. Parties and get-togethers, shopping for friends and family, dinners, celebrations, and the distribution of gifts. This is a good year for me–I’ve been blessed and fortunate to have worked all year, so I have gifts for everyone! I also was very systematic with shopping–I started in September, thank you very much! So as of now, I’m pretty much done. I have to get the husband a couple of more things, and maybe a few little fun stocking stuffers for the ladies, but THAT’S IT.

If you’re like most folks, you want to see everyone who’s important to you as well as have some time for yourself. It’s also hard to get things done when you’re working every day. The main things you must do are:

PURPOSE IN YOUR MIND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. Everything starts in the mind. When you decide to set your mind, you’re halfway there. I know I need to see the in-laws, go back to the grocery store, and bake a lady 5 dozen cookies. I really don’t feel like baking. BUT I made a commitment, so it has to be done. That’s the end of it.

SET A PLAN OF ACTION. I’ll have to work a little bit at a time to get this done, cause I don’t like last-minute crap. I’m not baking all weekend.

DO NOT WAIVER FROM YOUR PLAN. Despite fatigue and just generally wanting to veg out in front of the tube, I’ve baked 4 of the 5 dozen cookies. Now all that’s not hanging over my head. I feel accomplished thus far.

MAKE IT ENJOYABLE AND NOT A DRUDGE. While baking, which was and is my most dreaded task, I watched my Charlie Brown and Grinch DVDs.

REALIZE THAT RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT and IT REALLY DOESN’T TAKE MUCH TO MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY. My best friends are important. My nieces are important. My best friend’s mother is important. So time MUST be made to see them during this time period. My mother-in-law will be happy if we spend a couple of hours at her house this weekend. My father will be happy if I cook Christmas dinner. Do this kind of stuff, purpose in your mind that you will, and you’ll feel very good about yourself afterwards.

HAVE SOME DOWN TIME. I have four days off. On Monday, I ain’t doing nothin’!

 

 

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Remote Control

Remote CONTROL:

What television viewing habits say about your marriage and yourself

The Remote Control. That little device that does just that—control. When parked in front of the tube, who holds the remote? The husband? The wife? Do they even watch TV together, or are they on separate channels?

I am a hard-core TV watcher, a term coined by a former co-worker who too is “hard-core” in her viewing habits.

Hard-Core TV Watcher

  • Has favorite shows that absolutely cannot be missed.
  • Will not watch episodes out of order.
  • Never watches favorite shows in real time.
  • Takes no calls while engrossed in a show.
  • Will not tolerate talking while shows are on.
  • The DVR mostly contains that person’s shows.

The Honeymooners

First, you need to know that we are a one-TV couple.  Sad, but true.

Watching TV is my favorite pastime. It’s how I relax and clear my head. I used to love coming home on Fridays after a long workweek and plunk down in front of the TV to watch the week’s recorded shows.  It’s really cool to have a special treat like ice cream, cheese and caramel popcorn or a glass of wine while watching.

When I got engaged, I informed my fiancé that on Fridays I have about 4 to 5 hours of TV watching laid out in front of me. It’s what I do. However, once we were married, interesting revelations began to unfold.

My husband would come home and start talking to me while I was watching something. Okay, nothing wrong with conversation when one gets home; of course he wants to run down the day’s events. So I would just cut the DVR off so I could listen to him. Then he would ask, “Why did you turn the show off?” I’d sweetly reply, “So I can listen to you and give you my full attention.” In my mind, I’d be thinking, “Cause I can’t HEAR!!!!!!”

Sometimes, Michael would sit down and watch TV with me. Okay, that’s cool. Only Michael liked to TALK while the show was on. Who’s that guy? I thought he was dead. How did that happen? She took the anecdote, didn’t she? He’d want me to catch him up in 5 minutes on a show that’s been on for 4 years. Or if he wasn’t running off at the mouth, he’d criticize and make sarcastic remarks. CSI is too predictable. He hates Lost. Drop Dead Diva is stupid and unrealistic. The characters talk too fast. I had to tell him that just because he doesn’t like something to not ruin my enjoyment of a show and make me feel uncomfortable because I’m watching it.

Michael is not a hard-core TV watcher. He prefers movies. He likes certain TV shows, but he doesn’t follow them and doesn’t care if he misses episodes. Michael likes home improvement shows on DIY. If he’s home and the TV is on, that’s the channel that’s his main ambience. Sometimes he just sits there and does the Y-chromosome thing of flipping endlessly through channels and never settling on one show. It’s whatever catches his attention at the time. Once he sat engrossed in “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” some show on Spike TV about ex-prisoners caring for dogs. Needless to say, I was withering on the inside while trying to be patient and let him have his time in front of the tube.

Football Follies

My husband is a football coach, and I love football. A match made in Heaven, right? That’s how we started our relationship. I overheard him talking to someone about football and I jumped in the conversation. When we got married, I had visions of us watching games together. NOT SO!!!! Would you believe it? A football COACH husband and a football FAN wife don’t watch FOOTBALL together??? That makes no sense! Well, Michael watches football like an NFL owner—critical and stoic. I watch football like a fan—yelling, screaming and emotional. I have to watch football ALL DAY on Sundays, and if it wasn’t for church, I’d be in front of the TV for 12 to 15 hours. I like pre-game and post-game stuff, including checking NFL Network’s Stat Zone throughout to see how my Fantasy players are faring. I also watch the NFL Network and NFL LIVE on ESPN everyday (when I wasn’t working), much to Michael’s chagrin. He thinks I watch way too much football and he gets sick of all of it. How can one get tired of football, I wonder. During the playoffs, my weekends are booked with the games throughout January. Michael has no real interest. How can you not be interested in the playoffs?? So again, it’s me watching the games with my faithful cat. Michael also does dirty stuff like purposely holding the remote on Sunday evenings so I can’t watch the night game the way I want, and when I scream about what’s happening on the field, he gets irritated and starts slamming doors, telling me “It don’t take all that.”

So what does all this mean? What does this say about us as a couple?

  • Donna is totally set in her ways and has areas of selfishness.
  • Michael is a brat.

Growing Pains

This started off as a TV story about couples and their television viewing habits but has evolved into a marriage story. I read the comments of couples whose input I sought and I realized that they were not having these issues.  Every couple reported differences, but there really were no problems. Both Trina R. and Pam J. said that watching TV was a way of bonding with their husbands. Their guys will even initiate TV time and togetherness. Paul R. said that there isn’t an exact science to his and his wife’s TV habits, “we mostly just turn the TV on, change it to the channel we want to watch and place the remote down. No arguments there!” Note the use of the word “we.”

It is said that the longer you have been single, the longer it takes to adjust in marriage. I guess that’s because one gets really set in their ways and it’s hard to let that go and allow someone else room.

Selfishness can take many forms; in this case it was the television that exposed areas of my being selfish. As married people, especially for those of us whose marriages are young or who were single for a very long time before marrying, we need to really examine ourselves to see where we are.

In my case, I guess I didn’t want to share my downtime. Watching television is what I do for relaxation and I didn’t want that part to change. I also grew up as an only child, so entertaining myself and being alone with books, my writing and watching TV was never a problem for me. I figure that if my husband and I had 2 TVs and he was as hard-core as I am, we’d probably never see each other. We’d each be in our own television worlds, he in a kennel with a bunch of ex-cons and me on a base with some Army wives.

A lot of times Michael gets on the computer while I’m watching television. That’s cool because we’re both occupied. But it does seem strange that a lot of times we’re engaged in separate activities while at home. Is that ok? I had to really think about that.

The Good Wife

My husband officiates high school basketball and baseball games, so during the seasons when he’s at games, I get to watch TV uninterrupted throughout the week. This year he opted not to do baseball, so it was the two of us alone with the remote.

Hmmm, how do we work this out? Is this a compromise situation? What shows do we both like? What are some happy mediums for us? We both like westerns, History Channel stuff—but it has to be real history, not Pawn Stars and such, which I like but Michael hates—and dramatic biographical sports shows and specials on the NFL Network or ESPN. We also like Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives on Food Network and NBC’s Friday Night Lights.

I realized I needed to let my husband into my downtime. Why not invite him to watch TV with me? I need to relax during my relaxation and not be so rigid. So he talks while the show is on, this is 2011, not 1971. I can always back the recording up, or cut it off altogether and watch it later. It’s not going anywhere.

Through this past spring and summer, Michael and I have watched several things together. I cringed through the NBA playoffs. He endured The Next Food Network Star. I have learned, as we sit side by side in front of our only TV, to sometimes pass him the remote. Most times, he won’t monopolize it. He’ll pass the remote to me and say “Watch what you want.”

Michael has begun to let me perch myself in front of the TV when I get home. He actually said, “I know you need your relaxation.” I, in turn, will put a show on that we both like, probably Memphis Beat or Necessary Roughness. I watch the shows he hates when he’s not home or is behind closed doors. And on Saturday afternoons when we’re both home and he grabs the remote first, I just let the DIY Network roll off my back. I’ve even learned to have some interest, albeit slight, in Swamp People.

So, you who are part of a TV watching couple, relent. Let go of the remote. Let go of the control.

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