By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

(Not so) Common Sense
Some days, it pays to just throw in the towel (if you can find a clean one).
By Carole Townsend

Life happens in cycles. I believe that to be true; I have lived long enough to be able to back up that statement with cold, hard facts. Actually, I can ony back it up with my opinion, but still, I believe it to be true.


I have written about this phenomenon of life cycles, both in articles and in books, but I have never applied the concept to my own life. I will attempt to do that here. First, I believe that tough times come in clusters. There is a reason that the old saying goes, “Bad things happen in threes.” It almost feels like a blip in the universe – or maybe a fold, or a wrinkle – and things that are usually unfathomable to us happen in succession. An aunt or uncle dies, a loved one has a terrible auto accident, a good friend (or perhaps you, yourself) gets a frightening diagnosis. It is during these times that we ask God, “Why? Why do You let bad things happen to good people?” These are the dark times, the trying times. And yes, they happen 1…2…3. Fortunately, I believe these folds or wrinkles or whatever they are, are few and far between.

Those matters are best left to smarter folks than myself, and to lengthier publications than a newspaper column, so let’s move along. 

I believe, too, that the cycles of life take upswings, and for that I am thankful. These upswings include happy occasions such as weddings, graduations, births, anniversaries, or any seasons of life during which we can say that we are deeply happy. These are the times for which we live, the seasons that bring us through the difficult ones. We aren’t quite as quick to thank God for these times, but it stands to reason that, if He is responsible for the tough years, He is just as responsible for the good ones.

Then there are the times that happen more often than the other two extremes. These are usually just a day here and one there, but they happen all the same. There are some days that stand out in our memories as brilliantly fabulous, even perfect. They are rare; I have filed every one of them away in my memory, cherishing them, pulling them out every now and then to touch them and remember, because I love them. 

Of course, there are also those days that are ridiculously strange, the kind of days that, if they happened to someone else, we’d have a good laugh and forget about them in short order. If, that is, they happened to someone else.

I had one of those days yesterday. It was one of those days that, had it been at all possible, I would have crawled back into bed, pulled up the covers, and sucked my thumb, eating pint after pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and feeling sorry for myself. But I had to soldier on, tackling the task at hand, squaring my shoulders and holding my head high, pretending not to notice that my house – and quite possibly my  professional reputation – were crumbling around me.

To make an awfully long story short, a film crew spent the day at my house earlier this week. The specifics are unimportant; look for the replay on America’s Funniest Home Videos next season. But the crew was at our home, all ten of them. They were good-looking, hip young professionals. They moved in, took over and began to set up the lights, dollies, cameras and reflectors, going about their business with professional, yet friendly, drive.

The makeup girl was there, too, her only job to make me look natural and unaffected. While she worked on me, I found myself getting very warm, warmer than usual for a 50-something woman, if you know what I mean. Just to be safe (I always run hot; it’s a curse), I checked the thermostat. “Can’t be the air conditioner, “ I thought. “It’s brand new.”  I was wrong. While the fancy wi-fi controlled thermostat was set at 70 (don’t judge), the actual indoor temperature was 77 degrees. Not good. 

No one else seemed to be affected, but I was sweating. A lot. I am not like most Southern women, glistening just enough to be come-hither alluring in 90-degree heat. I sweat. I drip. I soak through fabric. It’s not pretty. And the more I sweat, the more my hair curls. Also not pretty. I began to panic, because I know what I look like when I sweat, and I started to sweat even more.

Still, filming began, and all the young professionals in the room seemed calm, cool and comfortable. I was sweating and chuffing like a freight train, keeping the makeup girl hopping, mopping and straightening. It was awful. Ever the professional, I kept what was left of my composure and forged ahead.

About halfway through the shoot, my son walked out of the downstairs bathroom and announced, “Hey Mom, the toilet won’t flush.”  

Makeup. Mop. 

The downstairs toilet was the only one in the entire house that was both conveniently and passably clean. Not good.

Thankfully, the indoor shooting was nearly complete anyway, and we moved the crew and equipment outdoors. Mr. too-handsome-to-be-real Director suggested we include our four dogs in the scene. I warned the crew about their unruly behavior, then instructed my son to release the hounds. One ran straight to the pool, swam a lap, and shook her thick Retriever coat all over the crew and their impossibly expensive equipment. Another, well, she walked right into the middle of the yard and did what dogs do, film rolling the entire time. 

Mop. Makeup. Anti-anxiety pill.

At long last, the day was over. I have no idea what the finished product will look like. I can only imagine. However, as I have also learned in my five-plus decades on earth, we cannot choose what happens to us, but we can absolutely choose how we react to it. I choose to laugh, because I look horrible when I cry. 

To quote the beautiful (and never sweaty) Scarlet O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.” And tomorrow, I will be calling a plumber, a Heating and Air Tech, and very likely, a housekeeper and a therapist. Recommendations are welcome but please, be gentle. I’m still feeling fragile.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.