Sunday, October 24, 2010

Number 3: A story about one of my many sisters.

***I am standing behind my parents, Stephanie is the sad one in the picture, and Courtney is in the stroller.***

A week ago Saturday my sister, Courtney, celebrated her 24th birthday. As I got off the phone with her I started reminiscing about all the torturous, yet completely hysterical, things I did to her growing up. Allow me to digress for a moment and explain my family dynamics for those that may be less than familiar with the Woodson family. I like to fantasize that we are the modern-day version of Little Women. Unfortunately, the similarities between our real-life family and the March family, from Louisa May Alcott's novel, are few and far between. But, we did love watching the movie growing up, relating their sisterly quarrels to our own, and calling our own Mom, Marmee for the proceeding week after. In comparing our family to the characters of Little Women, I am Meg, the oldest, most boring sister. Stephanie is our Jo, the entertaining, outspoken sister. Courtney has Amy-like tendencies, being reserved, yet can hold her own if necessary. And, Kaitlyn is our Beth the kind, shy sister. Alright, now that you have the Woodson family dynamics down, let me share with you some of my favorite memories harassing our "Amy" growing up.

Courtney and I are almost six years apart. So about the time Courtney was four years old I was the ripe, annoying age of nine or ten. It was during this time that most of my sisterly bullying took place. From about three to who-knows how old, Courtney had this pillow that today resembles something very similar to Sponge Bob. It was square, yellow, and had appendages coming out of it's cartoon body (very disturbing if you ask me). However, Courtney was obsessed with this pillow and she lovingly named him "Happy." When Courtney went to bed, Happy was there with her. If we went on a family trip, Happy went too. If we were watching cartoons, there was Happy sitting and enjoying Saturday morning cartoons with the family. I realized very quickly that not being in the presence of Happy, because he had been forgotten in the haste of getting out the door, caused her great anguish and emotional affliction. These were the moments my ten year old pea brain looked forward to capitalizing on!

I recall one time in particular we were in North Carolina visiting our Great-Grandmother and Courtney was busily playing with something else and had momentarily set Happy aside. I quietly snatched Happy and hid him in a secret location. Then I came back to Courtney in her cheerful moment playing and announced, in my most somber of voices, "Courtney, I have some very sad news. Happy is dead. Mom and Dad didn't want to tell you but I knew you would be wondering where he is, so I thought I should tell you, we buried him under the crab apple tree in the backyard." I could barely contain a straight-face delivering the sad, sad news. Immediately, Courtney dashed out the door, ran to the crab apple tree, dropped to her knees and began to wail, "Happpppeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Happpppeeeeeeeeeee!!! " Within moments my Mom arrived on the scene, my cover was busted and I had to retrieve Happy from his secret hiding location. I am sure some sort of punishment ensued afterwards, but it was worth every moment.

Another one of my favorite Corkie memories involves a family trip we took in our early 90s Ford Escort Station Wagon. Which looked very similar to this vehicle pictured below. This car was also the car my sisters and I learned to drive a stick shift with. I swear if you were to visit my parents house on Gillings you would still see the skid marks from Courtney left by this car. She was "special" in learning a standard. :)

That particular family trip, I will lovingly dub the "American History Tour," I can't remember how old we were when we packed up and trekked half-way across the country in our Ford Wagon. As a kid, I felt like we visited just about every battle site from the Civil War and every national monument possible. From the Vicksburg National Park to Washington D.C. and rounding out our "American History Tour" in Philadelphia with the liberty bell. It was at the liberty bell tour that one of my favorite big sister memories took place.

I had a few bucks in my pocket, and I am sure just like I feel now with money, it was burning a hole in my pocket. So, at the visitor gift shop I purchase a replica of the Declaration of Independence for one dollar. It was a steal! With it's think parchment paper and coffee stain coloration it looked like the real deal! As we loaded in our car, and were concluding up our American history lesson for the day, I marveled at my new purchased and carefully examined it in the car. I am sure Courtney asked me at some point what I had in my hand, being the brat that I was, I decided to have a little fun with the Declaration of Independence. 

"Courtney, Mom and Dad don't want you to know, but these are your adoption papers." It was the perfect set up, how could she deny the Declaration of Independence with it's fancy, formal cursive, thick paper, and it's numerous signatures at the bottom?  But, more importantly she couldn't read yet, so my fabrication was solid. "See here, this is where everyone signed to have you adopted," as I pointed to names like Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock. She totally bought the lie and started crying, I figured maybe she would be glad that she wasn't related to me, and had another fun, exciting family out there looking for her, apparently not. :)

It was after Easter probably in the early 90s (again), and among the many Easter candies I hate, such as Peeps, I despise black jelly beans. Much to my chagrin they always made it into my Easter basket each year. This particular incident, I was enjoying my jelly beans and carefully sifting the black jelly beans to the side and watching TV. Courtney laid on the couch completely passed out with her mouth agape and a thin stream of drool trickling down her cheek. All of a sudden, I had the brilliant idea to gingerly place a few of my discarded black jelly beans in her mouth to see if she would wake up. She kept snoozing completely oblivious to the nasty licorice I had just placed in her mouth. Thirty minutes later she now had black drool on her face. Ha!  

I know I must sound like the meanest sister ever, but I hope Courtney has forgiven my immaturity back when we were younger. :) On a serious note, I am extremely proud of the woman she has become, as I am of all my sisters (and I will post my favorite memories of the other two near their birthdays). Here are a few of the things I love about Courtney:

1. She is fluent in sign language and will sign to me (if I ask) while we talk. Always makes me smile.
2. She loves nursing and did outstanding in nursing school.
3. She is my little "Narkie," (our nickname we gave her for her love of sleeping after narcolepsy) she could out sleep anyone. One time we were discussing the longest we had ever slept; I thought I had her beat with 14 hours and she well surpassed my record. 
4. She can always make me laugh. The sentence generally starts off with, "Oh my."
5. My students at school every year ask if she is my twin (I have a picture of me and my sisters on my desk).
6. She loves an old school rap tune just as much as I do.
7. She was an amazing cheerleader back in her day. She would stomp around the house non-stop practicing her routine (sometimes drove us crazy). ;)
8. She is a gifted artist and drew some really cool stuff in high school.
9. I had so much fun jumping on our trampoline and double-bouncing each other growing up.
10. I can remember the day she was born and proudly announcing to my kindergarten class that I was a big sister again. :)

Happy Birthday Courtney!! I thought about keeping your gift in Dallas so you would have to come visit me to get it, but I decided to go ahead and put your Furr's cafeteria gift card in the mail; you should be getting it soon. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Comical Calamities

If a pictures worth a thousand words, then my work here is done! This picture was taken during my family trip to North Carolina this summer. And yes, the picture is real! The past few summers I have met my parents in North Carolina for some rest, relaxation, and quality family time. Before I left Texas, my Dad and I had every day planned out with various activities (we both love a good schedule). During one of the days, we decided we would go white water rafting down the Nantahala river. When the words white water rafting come up, most people probably instinctually think of Colorado (as do I). However, do not be confused, (like my family and I were) the Nantahala river is quite impressive. Apparently, the Nantahala is a training river for olympic and professional kayaking (information that would have been helpful before we launched into the river). Hopefully you are starting to see the enormous error in judgment, thinking this was going to be a fun little splash down the river.

The day started innocently enough. My mom and I went to K-Mart and purchased the cheapest water shoes we could find, we meticulously packed our bags with sunscreen, bottle waters, snacks, and jubilantly headed out the door. As we approached our destination, an hour later, we realized that our GPS was giving us some inaccurate directions. I decided to call the Paddle Inn, our rafting company, to help with the final, last bit of directions. In explaining our location, "Mama" the owner of Paddle Inn, in her husky, Marlboro man voice tells me to, "turn off the GPS and listen to me, I said turn it off right NOW!" At that point, getting my feathers extremely ruffled, I passed the phone to my Dad to handle this crusty, old bag!

As we arrived at the Paddle Inn, thanks to Mama, to retrieve our raft and paddles pure adrenaline was in motion. We signed our lives away in the two-page contract and gladly paid our money. Before we left the Paddle Inn to load unto the converted school bus that would drop us at our river departure, we needed to be briefed by "PawPaw," the husband of Mama. Just envision an auctioneer, and that's about how fast PawPaw was giving instructions about the river. "Now when y'all see Turtle Rock stay left, that's where we had our last drowning in 2008, but then immediately stay to the right after Turtle Rock. Then stay left, after that stay right, left, right. Then when y'all see a sign nailed to the tree...MAKE SURE Y'ALL STAY TO THE LEFT, yers gonna get yerself caught up in some rocks if yers don't."
"Now listen, once you hit the big rapid yers wanna stay to the right, unless of course yers wanna get a fun ride in the whirlpool. It will suck yous in, and spit yous out, and suck yous back in and take yer shorts, and spit yous back out. It's yer choice, I've only done it once in my many, many times down the river and that was enough for me!"
 "OK, any questions? Let me get Mama over here to pray for us." By the end of his briefing, and Mama's prayer, my family and I gave each other the, what-the-hell-did-we-get-into look. I believe it was at that moment fear set in.

Within minutes of ascending into the river we were faced with our first class II rapid. Curse words flew, emotions ran high. It was not the Woodsons' finest moment. As we watched other families, with their paid guides help them leisurely traverse down the river our hatred for each other grew with each passing paddle. "I swear to God Kaitlyn if you don't start paddling I will drown you in this river right now!!" I am such a wonderful big sister when provoked with fear and anxiety (NOT)! I would like to take a moment and apologize to my youngest sister for any mental anguish I may have caused her during this rafting trip.  :) Shortly after the first extreme rapid, we decided to follow one of the "smart" families that paid for a guide and do everything JUST like they were doing. We lovingly named our unpaid guide, Curious George because he was wearing a hat like Curious George's owner from the books. "Keep up with Curious George! We gotta paddle faster, Curious George is getting too far ahead!" This plan seemed to work the rest of the way down the river, until Curious George and his family pulled over at "Chicken Beach" and we stupidly paddled right past him!

Saying farewell to Curious George and approaching our doom, the class III rapid, we idiotically took the wrong turn and ended up stuck in the rocks just like PawPaw said to avoid. That right there should have been a omen from above, as if God was saying to us, "I am giving you this chance to avoid what is coming next. Quietly take your raft out of the river and get on the converted school bus back to camp Paddle Inn." Did we listen to this omen? Of course not! We spent the next fifteen minutes trying not to slip on the rocks and walked our enormous, five hundred pound raft back to Chicken Beach to re-enter the river for the Class III rapid. We are dumb.

Kaitlyn and my Mom's expressions are priceless is this picture! I think it was exactly what was going on in every one's mind, they were just the first to express it outwardly! We tried our darnest to stay to the right, and avoid the whirlpool, but it was too late! Things happened so quickly after we hit the rapid I really only recall thinking, "I am going overboard," and then seeing nothing but white. The water not only swirled and churned with extreme force, but it was ice cold. For the first time in my life, my body went into shock. All I could think to do was tuck my legs up and float. Hoping and praying that I would float to the bank of the river where a permanent ambulance stood to help idiots like me. I could not catch my breath, I could not feel my body, and my neck was mysteriously throbbing in pain. My only thought was getting the hell out of the Nantahala river.

Out of nowhere, a boat floated by me and a girl, probably no more than sixteen years old, grabbed the shoulders of my life jacket and hoisted me into their boat. Safe at last. My poor sister and mom clung to our raft for dear life and my Dad was the only one in the boat to save both of them. Luckily, another man swam over to help him get my sister and mom back into the raft.

Once we were on dry land my body stood there shaking. I contemplated crying to let everyone know, who didn't have the pleasure of experiencing the rapid, just how distressing that rapid really is, but decided to suck it up. After loading into the converted school bus, we assessed the damages. Three paddles lost, a pair of broken sunglasses, and two water shoes missing (one from my sister and one from my mom). No one spoke the entire ride back to camp Paddle Inn. I think we were in complete dismay of what just took place. After changing into dry clothes and loading into our car to head home, we realized that we were going to be alright and we started laughing, hysterical, crying laughter...and haven't stopped laughing about this calamity ever since.