Tag Archives: Princess Kianna

NaNoWriMo Day #7: Takin’ a Kianna break

Actually, Days #6 and #7 were temporary detours from National Novel Writing Month, although it would be inaccurate to say I took a break from writing. Yesterday (Nov. 6) was Election Day, which kept me jotting notes and typing away most of the day. (Is it still accurate to refer to “typing”?) My day job with the Columbia Daily Tribune found me arriving at the Hallsville Community Center at around 6:50 a.m. Tuesday and leaving a Democratic election watch party (the third watch party I’d been to since 8 p.m.) at The Blue Note in downtown Columbia just after 11 p.m.

That, my friends, is what you call a real long day. There was nary a moment free for my WriMo tasks. Today (Wednesday the 7th) was less busy and less long … at least I think so. I was in a post-election fog most of the day.

Considering that I was a WriMo machine the first five days of our 30 days of literary abandon, I allowed myself to step away the last two days.

Here was the highlight of today:

Having a great time with soon-to-be 9-month-old granddaughter, Princess Kianna Brown. (Grammy got some sugar, too. Scroll down). This caption should be: reading and sucking her thumb and leaning on Grandpa. This little beauty melts my heart every single time I see her.

 

Grammy lovin’ on Princess Kianna Wednesday evening in Jefferson City.

 

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Filed under Family, Kelly, Kianna Allene Brown, National Novel Writing Month 2012

Grandpa, uncle, godfather: the best titles

When you’re around good kids for any length of time, you learn to appreciate their parents.

We retired to slumber Sunday night with a different kind of tired. Friday night we had our four godchildren for a sleep-over: siblings Desiree, Dasia, Bryant and Bryson. I will provide photographic evidence of this relationship in the future. We only recently were asked to be godparents. With these siblings, their mom, Rochelle, has already done the work of teaching values, manners and personal responsibility.

Kelly and I are simply following that path to reinforce Rochelle’s work. The godparent role is typically associated with Catholicism, so I’m doing some research to figure out what this means for Protestants. It’s basically the same thing, I believe: spiritual mentoring/education.

Any suggestions?

We went from godparenting to having Kelly’s 3-year-old nephew, Marik, on Saturday, overnight and until Sunday afternoon. Just a few days ago I made it clear that when granddaughter Kianna reaches the “why” stage, I will answer every single “why” with a clear, Kianna-level response.

I got that “why” vow put to the test with little Marik this weekend. I’m not good at short, concise answers — just ask Kelly, my co-workers  and anyone with whom I exchange email. But I’m better at that now than I was just 36 hours ago.

Finally, bringing Marik to Jefferson City to hand him off to his dad, en route from Jeff City to Byron in Osage County, our rendezvous site was the Brown Estate where little Kianna awoke from a good nap to find Grammy and Grandpa cooing and doting over her. Her parents, Kishia and Darnell, are making a difference in their daughter’s life. As a result, I have no doubt that Kianna will make a difference in the lives of countless people.

Princess Kianna will be six months old on Aug. 15, two days after this Grandpa’s 49th birthday.

I think a birthday picture will be in order.

This week …

  • Tuesday: Guest blog by youngest daughter, Natasha. She reminisces about her Granny Nola, who died in December. Have your tissues ready.
  • Wednesday: Getting back to the Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting theme, a memoir-in-progress of my life’s spiritual journey.
  • Friday: The 80’s. Not the temperature, but the decade. Another memoir-in-progress.
  • Saturday: The Write Life. (Writing advice, writing prompts, words from other writers, etc.)
  • This schedule basically resumes the thematic approach I took with The Journal back in the spring. I’m also genuinely interested and anxious to have guest contributors as often as possible. Practically any subject (we’re family-friendly, but also thought-provoking), preferably something from 200 to 600 words, and I’ll ask for a bio and mug shot.

Now … Reach out and blog.

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Somebody’s 5 months old!

I’ve got a bevy of stories to share for another day, namely two water events that almost changed or ended my life forever, that occurred in July. (One in 1978, involving the Gasconade River, and the other in 1993, involving the Missouri River). One of the all-time most tragic news stories that I covered was in July 1984 in the little town of Bland, Mo.

I’ll let you know when those true tales are ready. (I also just wanted to use the word “bevy” today).

And our current heat wave of consecutive 90-plus degree days is already the fifth-longest such stretch ever. If it becomes an all-time record, which is becoming increasingly possible, it will probably crack my Top 10 Lifetime Weather Events. So I’ll keep you posted, with an eventual update on the futile effort to produce tomatoes, zucchini, cukes and other goodies in the back yard.

Those are stories for another day, because the topic of this day is granddaughter Princess Kianna!

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Doug C. and the Belle Drive-In

Countdown to Kianna

10, 9, 8, 7, 6 … Our granddaughter continues to incubate. Kishia is ready for Princess Kianna to hatch.

And so we wait.

Doug C. and the Belle Drive-In

Note: The Journal dedicates Mondays to a memoir-in-progress journey back to the 70s. This is the second part of a four-installment, 2,000-plus word short story that weaves songs of the 70s and one particular 1980 hit with a look back at memorable encounters with Doug C. while I worked at the Belle Drive-In from June 1979 to October 1980.

Doug sang and sounded just like Bob Seger …

“And I guess I lost my way

There were oh so many roads

I was living to run and running to live

Never worried about paying or even how much I owed …

… Against the wind

We were runnin’ against the wind

We were young and strong, we were runnin’

Against the wind.”

Against the Wind, Bob Seger, 1980

Pizzaburgers were a popular menu item at the Drive-In. At $1 they were a bit pricier than the regular fare of cheeseburgers, French fries, onion rings and fish squares, all of which were deep-fried in heavy oil. And $1 was one hour’s wage for most workers at the local pool hall/eatery. (By the summer of 1980, my wage “spiked” to $1.50 an hour).

Doug was especially fond of pizzaburgers and seemed to always have a few dollars in his pocket. I long suspected that he distributed “unlicensed pharmaceutical items” and also used part of his product. Finally I spied him slipping a tiny plastic baggie of pills to Carla, one of my troubled classmates (not her real name), in exchange for a 10-dollar bill.

Carla wrote a lot of poetry and she knew I kept a daily, sometimes hourly, journal of my high school experience. She felt comfortable asking me to critique her work; and she once shared with me an essay she wrote about tripping out on LSD. Another time she called me when she was hallucinating. I never understood where her pain and demons came from.

A couple of years after graduation, after I’d left college early to become editor of The Belle Banner, the local weekly newspaper, I found Carla walking toward town on Highway 28. She asked if I’d take her to the Drive-In.

“You’ll hate me now,” she said after getting in my car. “I went to St. Louis.”

She was nervous – looked so much older than 21 or 22. Her hands shook. “I need a smoke.”

“Can’t help you there, you know that,” I told her. She avoided eye contact. “Why will I hate you?”

She began to cry, spilling her soul-deep, unseen pain, as if pushing the air out of my little red Chevette.

“I got an abortion.” We were just a block from the Drive-In.

“Doug gave me the money.”

I pulled into the gravel parking lot and asked if I could do anything for her.

“Just pray,” she said. Tears seeped from empty, sorrowful eyes that still avoided mine. I lifted her lowered chin with one hand and stared into her emptiness.

“I don’t hate you,” I whispered. She hugged me quickly and got out of the car.

A few years earlier — it was early August, 1980 — Doug was my only customer when closing time approached on a Sunday night at the Drive-In. It was the most unpredictable shift, because I was expected to keep the deep-fryer on and the grill hot and ready until 9 sharp. Usually, though, the place cleared out by 8. If I had the grill scraped down (appetizing, huh?) and already swept and mopped the game room, all I needed to do was shut down the deep-fryer and I’d be locking the door at 9:01.

But that plan rarely saw reality. The school year was still a week away from starting, so there wasn’t exactly a rush to get home, and I lived less than two blocks from the Drive-In. Doug had been the only customer for the past hour while a few other late customers shuffled in and out or came up to the order window, mostly for ice cream cones or root beer floats.

I still needed to sweep and mop and had a finger on the deep-fryer switch when the phone rang. I should have expected it. Every Sunday night right at or just after closing, Mr. Banks called to order food. A lot of food.

“Jodie, we’re bringing some friends by in about 20 minutes. Four full chicken dinners. And some mozzarella sticks. I’ll make the coffee when we get there.”

That was two whole chickens, what was left of the slaw and potato salad, the deep-fried mozzarella sticks, dinner rolls and probably two or three other items that E.J. and his crew would order after they arrived. It also meant that I’d probably be there another couple of hours unless my boss offered to close up, which he sometimes did – when he was by himself or with his wife, Mary.

I returned to the kitchen to prepare the meal.

“Boss man hungry?” Doug shouted from his perch at the counter in the dining area. “He could prob’ly stand to miss a meal. Or two.”

I shook my head and chuckled. No matter how crude his language was or how high he’d get, Doug’s observations were spot on.

“How about a pizzaburger, Little Preach?”

He says, Son can you play me a memory

I’m not really sure how it goes

But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete

When I wore a younger man’s clothes

Piano Man, Billy Joel, 1973

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #31

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but naps are good.

Of course, you’ll need to take lots of naps when you come home, and you’ll keep taking good, regular naps for a few years. Enjoy those naps. Savor your naps.

And if you’re wired anything like Grandpa, you’ll continue to not only need but will learn to cherish naps. I gets a second wind around 9 or 10 p.m. and usually have the most creative energy between that time and 1 a.m.

Grandpa had only a one hour nap on Sunday, but it was so deep and sound that I actually dreamed.

About you.

Grandpa napping on the sofa with his 5-week-old baby, Kishia. (Grammy was snapping the photo). Grandpa sometimes refers to that period as "The Unfortunate Mustache Period."

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Countdown to Kianna

10, 9 … Don’t you think it’s time?

Hah. See there. I rhymed.

Maybe that’s an idea, though? Perfect meter matched with a rhythmic cadence, something to get the throes of labor and childbirth going within the next nine days. The doctor’s guesstimate for the arrival of Kianna Allene Brown was Feb. 19. But mom-to-be Kishia has her bags packed, arrangements made and work delegated from her job as the assistant administrator for an early childhood education program.

Friday’s follow a “Back to the 80’s” theme in Jackson’s Journal, so let’s grab a few hits from Grandpa’s playlist. Love songs. Some parts of these tunes even describe Grandpa and Mrs. Grandpa’s hearts as we anxiously await the arrival of our first grandbaby.

There’s not a dance vibe going on here, but instead the soft, smooth duo of Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross (Endless Love, second-biggest selling single of 1981)  and the effortless vocals of Peter Cetera and Chicago (You’re the Inspiration, 1984). We’ll add a pop-rock edge to our selections and drop a quarter in the juke box for Journey’s 1983 hit Faithfully, sung by the actual Steve Perry, not one of the scores of Steve Perry wannabes who have butchered Journey’s hits over the years.

A special note about Endless Love: Pay attention to the time mark of 1:37 … “our lives have just begun.” Kinda fitting for this post, huh?

Now, if these tunes just put Kianna in a peaceful, cuddly, relaxed mood, let’s change the mood.

“There’s a party goin’ on right here, a celebration …” That’s right. Kool & the Gang with Celebration (1980). Get on out here, Princess Kianna!

Woot!

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #28

Your Grammy and I sang “Endless Love” back in 1984 at the wedding of your Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma Thompson. Now that’s quite a pair!

Your Great-Grandpa is a jokester; you’ll want to keep a close eye on him. He’s always got a joke ready to tell. Him and Grandpa are probably the only ones in the whole family who like to watch and talk about football. Your Great-Grandma Thompson is very soft-spoken and calm-spirited – quite the opposite of Great-Grandpa. But you’ll love ‘em both!

Someday I’ll tell you about the time your Great-Grandpa climbed up tree to attach a rope – or to get your Aunt Jeannie’s kite … I don’t remember — and his leg came off. (It’s a long story. He’s got a prosthetic leg. And he probably even remembers this differently). Then I had to climb up the tree to help him get his leg back on.

Ah. Good times.

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Countdown to Kianna

15, 14, 13, 12, 11 … 10.

Traditional countdowns start at 10, but if you’ve been around Grandpa-to-be me, you’ll know I’m one to buck some traditions. The Countdown to Kianna began at Day 38 until Feb. 19, the gestational due date for Kianna Allene Brown to change our lives forever.

Kishia called Wednesday morning after a doctor’s visit to report that the doc will not let her pregnancy go more than seven days beyond the due date. Seven extra days would bring our first grandbaby into the world on Feb. 26 — the very date Kishia was born 27 years ago.

Now that the countdown is on the brink of single digits, me and my BFF Grammy jump when one of our phones ring. We are and have been on full alert.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #27 …

Your Grammy (of course, we’ll call her Mrs. Grandpa) told me last night that she doesn’t need to watch “chick flicks.” In her words, “My life is a chick flick,” and then she said something about being married to a great guy.

Kianna, if I’m “great” it’s all because your Grammy sees more in me than I see in myself. But Grammy is like that. Wanna know something else about Grammy? For starters, she’s already in love with you. I rattle on and on every day in this Journal about how gaga I am over being a grandpa with nary a mention of Mrs. Grandpa’s glee.

If you decide to come today, before I get a chance to write another of these messages, you need to know that more than anything else, all you ever have to be is yourself, because that’s who Grandpa and Grammy love. You don’t have to always be right or agree with us. You don’t have to always have your hair brushed. You can be a bad mood. You can sulk. You can cry, scream and shout (something tells me that’s going to happen right away).

No matter — EVER — no matter what feeling, circumstance or decision comes your way, whether it’s Princess Kianna or Little Miss Grumpy, none of that matters when it comes to our unconditional love for you. Considering you’ve also got that from your Mommy and Daddy, I’d say that you’re already a very, very rich little girl.

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Songs of the Seventies …

Countdown to Kianna

Twenty three, 22, 21, 20 days until I get to tell Kishia and Darnell’s beautiful newborn, “Hi, sweet Princess Kianna. I’m Grandpa.”

Memoir-in-Progress: The 70s

From June 1979 to October 1980 — from the summer after my sophomore year in high school to the fall of my senior year — I was a server and later assistant manager of the Belle Drive-In. Don’t get all excited thinking it was a movie theater (which would have been cool). It was a greasy-spoon, fast-food eatery and pinball/pool hall of sorts.

My starting wage was $1/hour. When I was promoted to assistant manager, my wage ballooned to a buck-fifty an hour.

Woo-hoo.

Besides having access to all the Coke I could drink and all the nasty cheeseburgers I could eat, the only real perk was that after closing time on Sunday night, my boss, E.J. Banks, emptied the quarters out of the pinball machines and the jukebox, but left the machines open for me to play to my heart’s content.

Imagine my glee when he acquired the Drive-In’s first video game: Space Invaders.

Nothing takes me back to that time more than the music, so I offer one of my all-time favorites: “Babe” (Styx, 1979).

http://youtu.be/jKbIBb1Z6Z0

Grandpa’s message to Kianna, #17: Some people have wondered whether I’ll run out of messages for you. I scoff at those people. Just ask your mom or Mrs. Grandpa: There’s never a time when I have nothing to say.

See you soon!

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