I Have A Bell And I’m Not Afraid To Ring It

This past Thursday my people and I packed an inordinate amount of clothing (the weather, it was shifty and unpredictable) and made the trip up I-65 to Nashville. I know that I’ve mentioned it 14 or 27 times over the last six years, but the drive from Birmingham to Nashville is my all-time, hands-down, ain’t-even-a-contest favorite. Combine that with the fact that we were going to see the Bulldogs play in the Music City Bowl, and it’s a safe bet to say that I was ONE ENTHUSIASTIC TRAVELER. It was all I could do not to honk and wave anytime we saw a car with a Mississippi State decal / bumper sticker / car tag on the interstate, but I figured that it might put a damper on someone’s bowl game experience if they swerved into another lane as a result of the crazy lady from Alabama who startled them with All The Honking in response to seeing so much maroon and white on the road.

So I restrained myself. IT WAS A MUSIC CITY BOWL MIRACLE.

I knew before we ever arrived in Nashville that all the football festivities would be a blast, but Thursday night Sister had a little surprise up her sleeve that wound up being one of the most fun parts of our weekend. Sister’s college roommate’s sister (got that?) was hosting a songwriters’ night at the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and I decided that sounded like a fine way to spend a Thursday night even though it started at 9 o’clock in the PM and Mamaw here is usually heading into her third hour of pajama-time at that point in the evening.

As it turned out, putting on real-live clothes and staying up a little later than usual was a really good call on my part. The night was such a treat. The crowd was made up of mostly Mississippi folks (my most favorite kind of folks), and we listened to Jim McBride, Lauren Lucas and Rivers Rutherford perform some of their songs. They also told the stories behind the songs, and I could’ve listened to those stories all night long. Maybe it’s because I spent most of last week with a quote from Peace Like A River running through my head – “Is there a single person on whom I can press belief? No sir. All I can do is say, Here’s how it went. Here’s what I saw…. Make of it what you will.” – but hearing the songwriters share their stories inspired me like crazy. I’ll never forget it.

(Pretend that there are some really good pictures here.)

(I snapped a few, but they are dark and also blurry – A WINNING PHOTOGRAPHIC COMBINATION.)

The next morning I met my friend Annie for breakfast, which means that we both basically got out of our cars, exchanged hugs, then launched into a series of “SO. [INSERT TOPIC HERE.]” We ran the conversational gamut for 90 straight minutes, covering everything from blogs to church to relationships to writing to reading to random funny tidbits. After Annie and I said our good-byes, I had plenty of time to get back to Sister’s house, dig through my suitcase and conduct an elaborate bowl game wardrobe evaluation (it was cloudy, damp, and windy, so there were a lot of unknowns in terms of optimizing my layering options).

Even though the game didn’t start until 5:30-ish, we ended up leaving Sister’s house around noon. Apparently we were a smidge excited. Plus, Sister and I agreed that attending State’s pre-game pep rally was a must, so after a quick (and very fancy) lunch at Sonic, we headed downtown, where there were about 40,000 very enthusiastic Bulldog fans waiting to cheer on their team.

Bulldog fans with COWBELLS, I might add.

It was a little loud.

And yes, I know that the sound of cowbells absolutely drives some people crazy. I, however, adore the sound. In fact, if a sound machine came with an option for clanging cowbells, I’d be all about it. I’d choose it over the sound of a gentle rainfall or a babbling brook every single time. Because the cowbells, they soothe me.


After the pep rally, the Dawg Walk and a pat-down (seriously. A PAT-DOWN. TO ENTER THE STADIUM.), we found our seats and settled in for the game. Sister was able to get some reallllly good tickets through one of her work connections, and we were just as tickled as we could be with the whole set-up (a certain eight year-old was BESIDE HIMSELF with his good seating fortune). There were some Wake Forest fans right beside us, and since they were none too enamored with the cowbells (oh bless their hearts), we tried to be good neighbors and keep our bells on a low simmer throughout most of the first half. However, the WF people sat with some friends during most of the second half, so we were able to ring with increased freedom during the third and fourth quarters. You can imagine our delight. In fact, at one particularly tense point in the fourth quarter, A. looked at the field, then looked at me, grinned, and said, “Mama, I have a bell – and I’m not afraid to ring it.”


The game wasn’t pretty, but it was a win – and a win sure beats the alternative. So we cheered and we clapped and we rang those bells a little bit more. It was a great way to wrap up the 2011 football season.

Here! Some blurry pictures from my phone! LET ME SHARE THE MAGIC!

So now we’re home and gearing up for 2012. I’m finally feel free to give Bulldog basketball my full sports-related attention, which means that this house is going to get vacuumed A LOT over the next couple of months. Hopefully Ye Olde Blawg will get a little bit more attention, too. I feel like I’ve been a good bit more scattered than usual lately – lots of stuff fighting for attention in this easily distracted brain-o-mine – but hopefully some of that will settle down once we get back into our normal routine. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Thanks for bearing with me during these last few weeks of consistently inconsistent blogging. Everything should be back to normal this week. FINGERS CROSSED.

I’m so thankful for each one of you – much love to you and your families in 2012.

Happy New Year, y’all.

Happy 2012, y’all.

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  1. I LOVE that you love the cowbells. I had every intention on being at this game. But my plans changed and I ended up staying home. So happy we won! I’m looking forward to MSU basketball now as well. I am going to the MSU vs AR game in March. Go Dawgs! May you and your family have a blessed new year and I look forward to many more blog posts. Happy New Year.

  2. My daughter is on her way to Passion with friends and they stayed the night in your great state!

    Happy New Year to you and your sweet family.

  3. You’re going to have to start a blog for Alex.

    Cowbells would be fine if I had some ear plugs to go along with. ;)

  4. Glad you enjoyed the whole game experience! Here’s to a great 2012!

  5. Happy New Year BooMama! I love reading your blog!
    May you and your family have a joy-filled 2012!

  6. Reading your blog today refreshed my soul. I am not from Mississippi, but close enough. I don’t have a sports team to call my own, but I can live vicariously through yours. And, in honor of A. and his bell-ringing proclivities, I may drive to my local hardware store and by me a cowbell to call my own. I don’t know if the sound is soothing–but it certainly recalls the sounds of home.

  7. I’m so glad that you had such a great time with your sister! Happy 2012 to you, too!

  8. Molly P. says:

    Wasn’t the bowl a fun experience?!?! I wish I’d run into you, and could’ve introduced myself!
    And the pat down was intense! Midway through the pat, I thought, what if I had refused the pat, but I quickly came to my senses. Nothing would’ve stopped me from watching the Bulldogs play!
    Happy New Year!

  9. All the cowbell-loving reminds me of the SNL cowbell skit, which never fails to make me laugh with some choking spasms! I mean, Will Ferrell with that sweater riding up over his stomach? Seriously funny.

    The game sounds like it was absolutely a blast!

  10. Awww man, Huntsville is smack in the middle of your trip. I wish I would have known. I would have had my kids and I out by the road waving a flag or MSU pom-pom at you as you road by. :-) Glad you had a blast and lots of memories were made!

  11. You have raised that child RIGHT!! I was looking so hard in your videoette to see if I might spy my son, Nick , who was right there with you and the other 40,000 faithful. I watched from the comfort of the couch in Oakland, Mississippi. It was wrapped up in maroon and white and that is what counts! Happy New Year to you!!

  12. Kimberly/OKC says:

    Referring to your Peace Like a River quote–just wanted to say I read that book and loved it…loaned my copy to my best friend and then bought another copy for my son to read for his home school book report. Thanks!

  13. As an MSU alum AND a current Starkville resident (graduated several years ago and I’m still here!). It DELIGHTS MY SOUL when you write about the Bulldogs. I adore your enthusiasm for our team. :) Hail State.

  14. Our neighbors at the game also did not Appreciate The Bells… I just don’t get it! Sweet, sweet music to my ears :) GO DAWGS!

  15. The soothing sound of cowbells… that is a classic.

  16. WHOHOO, Go Dawgs. I so love your kid and have never met him! He’s got his mama’s smarts. Cowbells are good for the soul. I am ashamed to say I never owned one until after I graduated from MSU. But my 5 year old has had one since before she was born! Raise ’em right!

  17. I was there, too, and like you said, it wasn’t very pretty, but, it was a W!! I just couldn’t get over the fact that I didn’t know everybody in Maroon and White. Somehow it felt like I should. In reality, I only saw a handful of folks that I knew; sorry that one of them wasn’t you!

    Go Dawgs!!!

  18. Such a fun time in Nashville! It was so much fun seeing Maroon everywhere we went! I hope I run into you one gameday in Starkville, even though it might be a bit stalker-ish if I get up the nerve to say hello! :)

  19. Happy HAPPY New Year, friend. And I miss you, too. Boy Howdy, I wish we were neighbors…the thought alone makes me smile! Love you dearly. Pray for you often! Holly

  20. DeeDee Brinkman says:

    thanks for the laughs…..love your blog :) Happy New Year!!!!