Hail to the Chief


President Clinton at Huntsville High
Originally uploaded by Tiff1723

Listening to Bill. He’s down and to her right, the circle of white light is his head, and it looks like he’s holding a square of white light.

It was cool to hear a former president speak; and I got some decent pictures, which, of course, I’ll have to upload later. Bill touted Hillary’s experience, talked about health care, the mortgage crisis and education. What he said sounded a lot like what Obama said. They have many of the same ideas, just different ways of implementing them.

It’s exciting to think of having a woman as president of the United States. In high school, I was all about “girls can do anything boys can do” if we have the same resources. The football team didn’t have to raise money for uniforms or trips by having car washes like the softball and volleyball teams did. We had 5 different coaches in 6 years; the football and basketball teams had the same ones. Everytime we’d get a good coach, the school board would not renew her contract for the next year. It sucked being a female athlete in high school as far as respect and resources, but we were pretty good anyway. And I love playing sports, and so far Riley does, too. (Another post for another time.)

However, I won’t base my vote on the fact that Hillary is a woman or that Obama is black. Either one would show that America has progressed from white men only. And I think that’s important. But what’s most important is what they’ll do to fix the mess we’re in in Iraq, make health care and college affordable, make our schools better, take good care of our veterans and repair our standing in the world.

We’ve got two more days to decide. No matter who you choose or which party you like, make sure you vote Tuesday!

Electricity

The rally for Sen. Barack Obama Sunday was like a rock concert and revival all rolled into one; 11,000 people showed up to fill the arena. There were gospel singers, soul music blaring from speakers, folks holding up their cell phones to light up a darkened Bartow Arena on UAB’s campus. It was electric, energetic. It felt like we were part of something bigger than just Birmingham, bigger than Alabama, bigger than the South, big enough for America.

People clapped, cheered, raised their hands and shouted “Amen!” My mom, Riley and I clapped and sang, and if I didn’t clap when everyone else did, Riley made her displeasure known. “Mommy, clap!” 🙂 She enjoyed it as much as we did, but she fell asleep about three-quarters through. Afterward she said, “Mommy, I saw Obama!”

I liked Obama’s style; the only time he used notes was for his thank-yous to start the speech. The rest of the time he just talked to us, like we mattered. A couple of quotes that stood out to me:

Hope is “reaching for what you know in your heart is possible.”

On education: “I can give you that $18 billion for education, but all the money in world won’t matter if parents don’t take responsibility for their child’s education.”

“We don’t want to play that old game, that game that has held us back. That game that says some of you got a black child in a bad school and a white child in a bad school and that’s two different situations. They’re the same situation, and we need to get black and white children working together with their parents to create good schools for every child. That’s what America’s about.”

On the justice system: “No more Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others.”

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From The Birmingham News” story by Charles J. Dean, News staff writer

Photo above is also from The Birmingham News

“We cannot wait to fix a broken health care system. We cannot wait to fix our schools. We cannot wait to bring an answer to global warming. We cannot wait to create new jobs with good benefits, and we cannot wait to bring this war in Iraq to a close and bring our troops home. The time for change is now.”

“There is nothing we cannot do if the American people decide it is time,” Obama told the cheering crowd at UAB’s Bartow Arena. “There is a moment in the life of every generation, if it is to make its mark on history, its spirit has to come through. This is our moment.”

“This is our time. And, if you’re willing to stand with us, and if you’re willing to march with me and organize with me and vote for me, I promise you we will not just win the nomination, we will win the general election, and you and I together will transform this country, and we will transform the world,” Obama said as the crowd filled the arena with shattering applause and shouts of, “Obama, Obama, Obama!”
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It was well worth the hour-and-a-half drive, the half-hour wait to get inside and the hour wait until it all got started. I’m glad we went, and I hope Riley will remember the day she danced and clapped and shouted and cheered for the person who could be the next president of the United States.

A Change Is Gonna Come

I’m going to hear Sen. Barack Obama speak Sunday; I’m taking Riley and my mom to experience it with me. When I first read that he was going to be so close to us, I got a tingly feeling and my heart skipped a beat, like this could be something big and I needed to be part of it. And I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go. How many times will a presidential candidate hold a town hall meeting free to the public in Alabama?

Whether he wins or not, this is still a historic event. I’m excited about being part of the process and maybe helping change things for the better. And I want Riley to see that she can make a difference, too.

I’m still undecided about who to vote for Feb. 5, so this should help me make a decision.

When your time comes, GO VOTE!

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

So “Santa” came to visit the little ones at our family Christmas party Saturday night. He had a sack full of gifts for every kid under 18. (When you turn 18, you start playing Dirty Santa.)

Last year my dad was Santa, and we talked him into doing it again this year. Last year, none of the kids had a clue. This year not so much. After Santa left and Daddy came back, Riley looked down at his shoes and said, “You the Santa!” And she just laughed and laughed.

On the way home, I said, “Wow, Riley. Santa brought you a dog, like you asked for.”
Riley: “Pawpaw is Santa.”
Me: “What makes you think that?”
Riley: “I saw his shoes, Pawpaw’s brown shoes.” Laughing… “Santa has black boots.”

So cute, and it did nothing to alter her love for the real Santa. 🙂

Here we are gettin’ our groove on to a little Elvis, probably “All Shook Up.” We also did the Pepsi-Cola dance to “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate. And we all got down to a little “Baby Got Back.” Good times, good times.

My uncle is taking Riley and her cousin for a spin around the dance floor.

Here’s Riley and Granma. She’s 85 and the source of our love for Elvis. She gets everyone something for Christmas every year. This year the grandkids and great-grandkids each got a presidential gold dollar. If you don’t think that’s a lot, consider that she has 8 kids, plus all but one of them have at least two kids, then the grandkids now have kids. That’s a lot of money for an 85-year-old on a fixed income. And we all get birthday money, too. 🙂

End-of-the-night family portrait. We had a ball!

I hope you all feel the love of family and friends this season. Merry Christmas! Here’s my crazy, beautiful family singing “Silent Night” at the end of the party to remind us why we celebrate. Love to all!

http://i36.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid36.photobucket.com/albums/e2/thp1723/SilentNight07.flv

Superwoman

From Miss Zoot’s NaBloPoMo site: When you were little, did you wake up early to watch cartoons or did you sleep until noon? At what point in time did you stop waking up before your parents? What about now? Do you sleep in on Saturdays? How much later do you sleep on Saturdays than you do on other days of the week? How different are your Saturdays now from when you were little?

I don’t recall my little brother and me ever being early risers, except maybe on Christmas. I do know that when we were 12+ we started sleeping later and later. Michael played football and he’d be so wiped out after games that sometimes he’d sleep until noon or 1 p.m. I never slept that long unless I was sick or something.

We didn’t get up for specific cartoons; we just watched whatever was on. We had three channels to choose from, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I remember Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner, Superfriends, Wonder Twins, Laff Olympics. I still love cartoons, and today’s Justice League is way better than the old Superfriends.

I generally get up about 5:45 on weekday mornings to get Riley on the bus by 6:40. Sometimes I go back to bed for an hour or so; most times I have to get ready for other things. Saturdays I get to sleep about an hour later … Riley gets up around 7 on weekends. Today since she’s at my folks’ house, I slept till 8:45. Nice!

I still watch cartoons; now, they’re just educational and on Noggin or Boomerang.

Later …

Talk Talk

A Children’s Hospital rep called this morning to ask if Ryan or I would like to speak to a local Rotary Club meeting about Riley’s hearing loss and how she’s doing now. Yikes! I’d like to do it, but I’m not great at public speaking. However, it’s only 3-5 minutes; surely I can handle that!?!

Anyway, we went to a local minor league baseball game in July because it was free and in honor of Chidren’s patients. (Riley had her cochlear implant surgeries at Children’s in Birmingham.) The kids played games, we had hot dogs & drinks and we got to watch a baseball game. We got Riley’s picture made and filled out a form with her story. That’s how they knew about us and why they called.

The rep said we could even bring Riley; “everyone would love to see her,” she said. It’s a 7 a.m. breakfast meeting, and we’d probably have her at school by 8:30. I know having her there would make it much easier for me to talk to a roomful of business people, and it would make the story more concrete for them, too.

I think I’ll do it. Where are my index cards? I need to write it all down and practice. 🙂

More Than Words

This was the question of the day at Writer Mama for her big back-to-school giveaway. I enjoyed answering it, so I thought I’d post it here.

My top three writer role models

1. Anne Lamott taught me in “Traveling Mercies” that I don’t have to be perfect for God to love me. She shares her imperfections, and it turns out those are things that make her beautiful. Writing is not about getting it just perfect; it’s about getting it perfectly you.

2. Brenda Ueland‘s “If You Want to Write” is one of my favorite books. I stumbled on it in a used bookstore in Dallas; the previous owner had highlighted many phrases and I’ve added to it. Brenda’s wisdom holds true: Know that you have talent, are original and have something important to say.

3. Sassy magazine from the late 80s and early 90s was my inspiration to be myself – in my writing, in my dress, in my beliefs. I regret that I didn’t keep all my back issues. Sassy spoke to me like no other magazine before or since. I loved it so much that at my prom as a junior the seniors “willed” me a lifetime subscription. Anyone know how I can cash in on that? 🙂

Later …

Feels Good

From my editor at a regional magazine: “You are definitely one of our valued writers. I like your work and will send you assignments as I have them. Thanks!”

Yippee! An ego-booster just when I needed it. And another pitch accepted, due Aug. 31, so I better get crackin’.

I’m also starting a new class, Pitching Practice, with Writer Mama Christina Katz tomorrow. We’ll write six queries in six weeks, and I’m aiming to get six sales out of it. Aim high, right? Also, check out her Back-to-School Daily Giveaway, lots of goodies for writers.

OK, I interrupt this blog to get back to my “regularly scheduled” job.

Later …

Whenever I Run

Run, girl, run
Speed doesn’t matter; hitting the road does

(Column first appeared at FemmeFan.com in October 2006)

By Tiffani Hill-Patterson

I am a runner. I’m not fast and I don’t do long distances, but I am a runner.

That description is one I never thought would apply to me. As a high school and collegiate athlete, I hated to run. When running is always used as punishment it tends to make you hate even the thought. Slowly, I’ve overcome that mind-set, and I no longer see it as the price you pay for missing a grounder or serving the volleyball out of bounds.

I see it as a way to sneak some time for myself, to gather my thoughts, relieve some stress or just zone out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And the bonus is that my legs are stronger and slimmer, my heart is pumping more efficiently and my mind is clearer.

I started running when I started doing the Body-for-LIFE program. The cardio portion was a 20-minute workout, and I did a combination of walking and running. Eventually, I was able to jog and run the whole 20 minutes. Without dying. And I liked it. It was a miracle.

The longest length of time I’ve run is 42 minutes, 12 seconds. That was my first 5K, on Memorial Day. It may have taken me awhile to finish, but it was exhilarating.

My husband had tears in his eyes and said, “I’m just proud of you” as I headed to the starting line. If that doesn’t put a spring in your step, nothing will.

My daughter stood near the finish yelling, “Go, Mommy!” I knew I couldn’t slow down even a little until I crossed that line.

And I couldn’t have done it without my little brother, who has run 10Ks and half-marathons. He ran with me and kept me going. And my parents and sister-in-law were there to cheer us both on – it’s great to know you’ve made your family proud.

But even better was the pride I felt in myself for taking on the challenge and accomplishing the goal. I did it. For me. To prove that I could.

After my first 5K, I met a woman at the gym and we hit it off and started running together at least once a week. She’s faster than I am and much more committed. And that’s a good thing. She doesn’t know it, but she challenges me to get better. And even though I haven’t been giving much lately, I’m grateful to have someone to be accountable to.

My second race was in September, and I cut about 2 minutes off my time. Another goal met. Another boost in self-confidence. This running thing has turned out to be more fun than I thought. And I’ve made some friends along with getting in better shape.

The final proof that I am a runner came last Saturday, the day of my third race. The first thing I had to do when I awoke was hit the bathroom. Um, someone find the Imodium. After three trips, I was sure there’d be no running, but I was going to do that 5K anyway, even if I had to walk the whole way.

That’s just what I did. The cool air and conversation with a fellow walker kept my mind off my tummy troubles. At least for the first mile-and-a-half. By then I was halfway done . no point in stopping. Finally, I saw the 3-mile marker and rejoiced; the finish line was just ahead.

I spotted my husband and daughter in the crowd and yelled for my daughter to come with me. My sweet 5-year-old grabbed my hand, and we ran the last 30 yards to the finish line. The look of excitement on her face was enough to make me sign up for another 5K in November. And to dream about the day she’ll run a race next to me.

I’m not fast; I’ll never be fast. That doesn’t matter. I’m a runner because I run.