Saturday, January 25th began the Chinese New Year, which in case you are taken back to your childhood and remember those placemats at your Mom’s favorite Chinese food joint, you know the ones I mean, the ones that showed the Chinese zodiac so you could look up the year you were born and see which animal you were (Year of the Rooster, represent), while you waited for your sweet and sour chicken and water—because your Mom never let you order Coke—then you know each year gets assigned an animal. This Chinese New Year is the Year of the Rat. Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you about all the fun we had ringing in the Chinese New Year with friends at Atlanta’s Chinatown on Sunday. Spoiler: There were no rats.
There was however, some great food, for starters. Jackson opted for dumplings, which is one of his favorites when we visit Hell’s Kitchen or Chinatown in NYC. He also ate a bowl of rice, cause why not? Jerimiah chose a pork roll, which was sweet and savory, and something neither of us had ever tried before. And I had the Beef and Bitter Melon. The beef was amazing good, but the melon had a weird taste and I couldn’t eat it. I kept trying, but my body was just rejecting it. Jerimiah asked me what was up and I was all, “I dunno try this and tell me what it tastes like, I just can’t place it, it’s not spicy, it’s just…” Then he took a bite and he said, “Jesus, it’s so bitter.” And I was all, “Oh that’s it! It’s bitter!” Then he asked me what the dish was called and I confidently said, “Beef and Bitter Melon” and then we looked at each other directly in the eye for a few seconds, wherein I realized what had happened, and he, I suppose, started to wonder how he got stuck with me as his wife.
Luckily just then a little boy came running toward us yelling, “Jackson! Jackson!” The little boy was Jackson’s friend’s little brother. He is in first grade, but he legit. He grabbed Jackson and immediately took him over to see the koi pond. Then came Jackson’s friend, her Mom (and my friend) who legit was born in China, but raised in Hong Kong and Ohio, and speaks Mandarin and is a badass, and her husband, who is from a remote village in India, but works for the State of Georgia. They are amazing, and they had invited us to see their daughter perform at the Chinese New Year celebration, which she does every year with her ballet/Tae Kwon Do team. PS… They all do Tae Kwon Do. No shit. How do we meet such cool people?!
Anyway, her performance was about to start, so we found a good spot to watch and cozied up. It was a pure delight, the favorite of the whole celebration year after year. First her ballet dance team came up and performed, then she had a violin solo, then the Tae Kwon Do team came out and did an amazing performance wherein I, for a split second, thought that I could probably do jump kicks and break boards with my feet too. I mean, probably.
Afterward we meandered around a bit more. There are a lot of shops, but the place was so crowded we vowed to come back another time to do our real shopping. Then suddenly someone was shouting that the lion was coming so we followed the crowd outside to see what this all meant. We were not disappointed.
The Lion Dance is a traditional Chinese dance where performers mimic a lion’s movements in an elaborate costume in order to bring good fortune for the new year. The Lion was running a little behind because they had many performances that weekend all around Atlanta. Atlanta, particularly the area of Chamblee/Dunwoody/Doraville has a large Asian population, and the Lion had a lot of performances and this was their last one, the grande finale. While we waited for the Lions to get there (there was actually two Lions) the announcer told us the story of The Lion Dance. (After she had Jackson run through the whole Chinatown Mall and yell for everyone to hurry up and come see the Lion. For real. He was happy to do it.)
The Lion Dance starts with firecrackers, so she warned us that it would be loud. Then the Lions would fall asleep and we would have to wake them with cheering. These are not Serengeti lions, y’all, don’t try firecrackers and screaming on your safari, okur? Then someone, an unsuspecting young boy and slightly scared white dude, were chosen to “feed” the Lions lettuce. Why lettuce? Lettuce is the color green. What else is green? Money, you nailed it! The Lions would eat the lettuce, then regurgitate it, for real, then you would run and get pieces of eaten lettuce from the Lions to bring you good fortune all year. Oh, and also you can and should feed the Lions actual money, for your prosperity, and for theirs. Get it yet? No? Here’s a video:
Atlanta’s Chinatown is not really what you think of when you think of Chinatown in a big city. It’s not like Chinatown in San Fran, or NYC, or even Chicago. It is more spread out, sort of like Atlanta, but there is this one mall where you will find a grocery store and several shops, and authentic food, and that is sort of the center of the Asian culture in that area, so this is where they do all the celebrating. It’s unique and fun, sort of like the rest of Atlanta. We had a really nice time and can’t wait to go back and explore more when there are way less white people to ruin the exploring!
So Happy Chinese New Year! And Happy Year of the Rat. I asked my friend how to say this in Madarin, but I have literally no idea what she said, so I will just copy this from Google translate: 新年快乐
And here are some more pics from our day in Chinatown. Enjoy.
You guys. You actual all. I am in deep with the puppy fever. I don’t even know why. Duke is only a year and a half, but I keep looking at his pictures from when he was a baby and my uterus, the one that doesn’t even exist inside my body anymore, starts to ache. I don’t even have that reaction when I see babies. Like real, actual, fucking, human babies. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are cute, real, human babies (after the first three months or so anyway) but I’m like, “Ohh, she’s cute. Oh, she pooped her pants, here take your baby.” But doggos and puppers. You guys. That’s another story. First of all, do me a favor and LOOK [clap] AT [clap] THIS [clap]
LOOK [clap] AT [clap] THIS [clap]
So a couple of weeks ago I talked Jerimiah and Jackson into going to the shelters around Altanta looking for a dog to adopt, and let me just say what a sad, sack of shit we all were when we left. Like sad, y’all. Who does that?! Who goes to like three different shelters (the kill ones owned by the county) and looks at dogs. Uh, dumbasses.
Obviously we found 47 dogs we wanted to adopt. And since they are running a “Roaring 20s” special this month, all dogs over 25 pounds are only $20 to adopt. So, that’s only $940. Uh, that’s a steal, y’all! We paid half that for one Sir Duke Barkington. Christ, Y’ALL KNOW I LOVE A DEAL!
When Jerimiah ultimately stopped me from trying to convince the employees at the shelter that we could house 47 dogs, they were skeptical anyway, we decided maybe we, ahem I, should slow my roll. So we walked away with zero dogs that day. And zero the next. And zero the next. And he has not even mentioned taking me back, which is a real dick move on his part. Until, well, he said this:
“I think I’d rather wait until like the summer, and get a puppy. Maybe another Poodle, or a Doodle or something like that. You know, a dog that really fits into our family and lifestyle. I’m not sure adopting 47 Pit Bulls* would be an ideal situation for Duke. Or, well, any of us.” –Jerimiah
Yeah. That’s a thing he said. I might have added some of it for entertainment value (and to make a long, educated post about Pit Bulls at the bottom of this blog), but he for sure said he ALSO wants another dog. And since I wrote it on my blog, it lives forever in posterity.
So, a new dog is coming our way. What kind, I don’t really know. Because while I LOVE that I don’t have dog hair floating all around the house (thanks to that Poodle gene), I HATE spending so much money on grooming my dog. And while I LOVE that my dog is a cuddle-bug who sits on my lap even though he’s way too big, I sometimes want a dog who doesn’t lose his shit and shake like a leaf when he sees the mailman (who he literally sees every, single, day). There’s good and bad. Plus, y’all know I am always down for a Chocolate Lab. Because I miss my best friend Bentley-girl like a sumbitch. LOOK [clap] AT [clap] THESE [clap]
You can read more about Bentley-Girl in the red link and you can read more about Sir Duke Barkington as well. As for me and my puppy fever. It will rage on until we find the right dog for us, but don’t worry, we will.
**Pit Bulls and Such**
You guys, the Atlanta-area shelters are filled with dogs that are either Pit Bull, Staffordshire, Mastiff, or Boxer mixes. Most of these dogs just get clumped into the “Pit Bull” category because people are ill-informed. And afraid. We talked to several shelter employees and volunteers (that’s a bonus about going on the weekend, there are a tons of knowledgable people there who want to talk to you about the dogs because they see them every week.) And the real truth is that yes, black dogs are the least likely to get adopted. Same with cats. Dogs that have a Pit Bull “look” are the least likely to get adopted and the most likely to be euthanized when they run out of room. At the DeKalb County Shelter we didn’t even get to see all the dogs. The had 450 in cages, and another 150 or so in a backroom awaiting a spot to be seen, and I’d say about 90% of them looked like this young lady who I FELL IN LOVE WITH:
She was the sweetest. We got to take her out for a walk, and she just wanted to sit next to you and have you pet her. In fact, her and this guy Mr. Charlie Brown:
almost made us bring Duke in for a meet-and-greet. But we were hesitant after we learned how long they had both been in the shelter. Shelter dogs are unique, and the longer they spend in the shelter, the more love and attention they need. And we are afraid we don’t have the time or the patience, though we have the love, to make these dogs feel special.
Even worse, some of the dogs are only allowed to be in “one dog” homes. Some have a “No Kids” restriction. Some, many, have tested positive for heart worms, and while they are being treated at the facility, we were told both Ms. Bianca and Mr. Charlie Brown would need to not be “active” for weeks after we adopted them because of the heart worm medication. We weren’t sure how we could keep a dog not “active” when we have Sir Duke at home, the most ACTIVE beast on the planet! We want nothing more to give all those 47 dogs we fell in love with a home, but it’s not feasible for us right now. But if you can, if you live in the Atlanta area, and if you are interested in any of those dogs they can all be found here: LifeLine Animal Project.
And remember, please don’t judge a dog by the breed. Get informed before you make a decision. Remember that visiting a dog in a shelter for 30 minutes one time doesn’t mean much, and even the craziest looking ones in the shelter could be the calmest, most sweet, dogs ever. If you shelter has a “Try before you buy” program, do it! If you can find a shelter dog that has been in a foster home, talk to the foster home, they will know so much about the dog. Just some things to keep in mind.
I had a lot of parents and teacher friends reach out to me regarding yesterday’s post. A lot of parents telling me it gets worse before it gets better, and congratulating us on being proactive parents. And while I appreciate the comments and community, what struck me was what the teachers said.
After school text messages in groups lead to classroom distraction. It seems like a duh, but it makes perfect sense. That’s what happened in Jackson’s case. It never occurred to me before yesterday, but I have repeatedly told Jackson I don’t want him getting involved in the “drama” that finds its way into these group chats because I don’t want it messing up his schoolwork, but more importantly I don’t want it messing up his friendships, his responsibilities, and/or disrupting any of his classmates, making other kids feel alienated, or bad because they aren’t “in” the group, or because someone is being mean to them, which is what happened in Jackson’s case. The boy being mean to him, egged on by the girl who wanted them to fight over her, was starting a big ruckus about these group chats and being left out.
It’s group think. I see it now, but I was so caught up in the bullying aspect of what Jackson was dealing with in school, that I didn’t even think about the how the after school group texts had repercussions on the bigger classroom community. And now I’m teetering on that line of keeping him from chatting with his friends, which I do think he deserves to do after school and on weekends sometimes, or just shutting it all down because of a couple kids who didn’t respect the rest of the group.
Then I remember that my kid is a good kid. He’s respected at school for his honesty, willingness to learn, his positive attitude, his leadership qualities, and yes his kind nature. Maybe too kind. Too forgiving. And this was a good lesson for him on how to stand up for himself. To set boundaries with friends. At the same time, not all kids can stick up for themselves. Not all kids have the courage to be “different.” To be the kid in the group chat that says, “Hey, let’s not talk about this or that, or this person or that person.” But now my son does, and I hope he takes that lesson into everyday life as well.
Parenting is tough, y’all. I’m straddling this line of being considered “that mom” because yes, I gave my kid a cell phone, and yes I let him text his friends, but also I read every message. He knows that. And now his friends know that too, but I might be judged by others. Or I might be considered an “uncool” mom. I might ask too many questions, or read the messages through my skewed view of the world, but still I do it, and still I will continue to, and teach my son lessons like how to stand up for himself, how to be the bigger person, and how to be the best version of himself even when I’m not standing next to him. And I think as parents that is all we can do. Because at the end of the day we have decisions to make. Decisions in the best interest of our kids, and decisions, sometimes, in the best interest of others’ kids as well.
So thanks to the teachers, and mommies, and daddies, and friends who reached out concerning Jackson and the bullying he encountered at the hands of “friends.” (He’s actually not allowed to talk on text message with that boy he calls “Jerkface” anymore, but of course he will still see him around school. I’m just hoping things go well on Monday, and I don’t have to make a trip up to the assistant principal’s office.) Thanks for the support, the recommendations, and for sharing your own stories. Jackson learned some good lessons from this experience. And so did I.
I know y’all tired of hearing me talk about fifth grade. I know y’all tired of me talking about the boy/girl drama. Think of how tired you are of hearing me talk about it, then think about how tired I am of being smack-dab in the middle of it. Jerimiah says, “Just don’t let it get to you. He will figure it out.” And I’m sure he will eventually, but over the last few days this love triangle my fifth grader has found himself in, has required a parent to step in, and it was obvious none of the other parents were, so I did. And it has escalated so quickly that Jerimiah is involved now too.
So Shirley and Jerkface are still a thing, but Shirley has been “flirting” (and I put this in quotes because again, THIS IS FIFTH FUCKING GRADE) ahem, Shirley has been “flirting” with Jackson, while still “dating” Jerkface. She appears to be doing this on purpose in order to make Jerkface mad at Jackson. Da what?! How is a fifth grader capable of such high-school-girl-drama? It’s called Abuse of Power and Jackson wants to call the senate to have her impeached.
In case that doesn’t work out, after Jackson decided he was tired of the lovely couple’s bullshit this week, like how Shirley added Jerkface into their friends’ group chat (even though no one likes him because he’s a, well, jerkface), and how Shirley encourages Jerkface to be mean to Jackson on the playground, Jackson wrote Shirley a private text and said, “Hey, when you’re ready to be cool again, like you used to be, just friends, let me know. Until then I don’t really want to hang with you. Sincerely, Jackson.”
Shirley replied with, and I quote, “Are you faking because if you are I do horrible things…” What the actual fuck, y’all?! Who is this girl?! And who does she think she actually is?!
So after that, she was texting him and trying to FaceTime him to beg him to talk, but at the same time texting the other friends and threatening to “share all their secrets.” Then they were taking screen shots of what she was saying and sending them to Jackson, and I had enough.
I told Jackson to go ahead and let them know that I read ALL his text messages, because I do. I trust my son, but I obviously do not trust these other kids. And as you can see, that is based in good reasoning. Then to go ahead and let Shirley know she’s real close to getting her contact blocked in the “Mom Mode” of his phone. She proceeded to say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about Jackson!” Then she sent him a picture of her puppy and said, “Look how cute my puppers is!” Uhhh… I know I’m not supposed to dislike a kid, but…
Then Jackson proceeds to tell me all the rude things Jerkface has been saying to him in the hallways and in PE class (their two classes go to PE together.) On Wednesday he pulled Jackson aside in PE and said, “Shirley broke up with me, so you can go ahead and be her boyfriend now.” Jackson was very confused because he knew that if Shirley had actually done that she would have told him, she would have told EVERYONE because #drama. So he just sort of ignored it. Turns out is was not true. Jerkface was just baiting Jackson to see if he would move in on Shirley. And Shirley knew about the whole plan. What the actual fuck?!
On thing Jerkface ACTUALLY said to my fifth grade son was, “You better not be fucking my girl!” Yeah, that’s a thing fifth grade boys are capable of saying to other fifth grade boys. Then he stopped Jackson in the hall on Friday and said, “I saw you sitting next to my girl in class, and you better not do that again, aight?” Jackson and Shirley are classmates, project partners, robotics team members, and friends. On Friday Jerkface walked by their classroom and saw Jackson and Shirley sitting next to each other, working on their project together in their classroom, and Jerkface made a mean face at Jackson and Jackson got nervous, then he told him this after school. THIS IS FOR REAL, Y’ALL!
So I told Jackson that I was not above talking to the Assistant Principal about all this, and y’all know I’m not, so he needed to let Jerkface know he wouldn’t be bossed around or cursed at anymore. Jackson sent Jerkface a text that said all that, including that he had no desire to be Shirley’s “boyfriend” and he was happy they had each other, (I am too, because they are both just as crazy as each other and I want my son far away from a girl who says, “I will do horrible things”), and then decided it might be best to distance himself from Shirley for a bit as well. Good choice.
So then Shirley called him, crying, unable to say anything, just crying. And Jackson said, “I can’t hear you, maybe call back when you’re not crying.” And I support that.
So there you have it, the short of the long. I’ll let y’all know when/if I have to get more involved, but right now just know that this shit is happening in fifth grade. I’ve heard of it happening in fourth and even third grade. Matter of fact, in Jackson’s second grade class there was a love triangle he was involved in and didn’t even know about, with some nightmare teacher’s kid and some little blond girl. No shit. This is happening. And no, it’s not just happening from technology. Because all the mean stuff Jerkface has done has been in person at school. And he’s (I’m pretty sure) being led by Shirley who wants two boys to fight over her. Thankfully, my son ain’t no dummy.
So what’s the point of all this, other than to alert you to the fact that there is a rapid change in fifth graders, and it happens in the second semester and if you aren’t one of those parents who keeps up on all of it, asks your kids about school EVERYDAY, and uses instances like this as a learning experience to prepare them for even more craziness in the future, then you better jump on board with this sort of parenting, and fast.
Raise yo kids right, y’all. And be involved. Be vigilant. Don’t be afraid to be that parent that “is in everyone’s business” because there are far too many parents who don’t give two shits about how their kids are treating others, and we need to pick up the slack. Geez, I don’t remember this kind of drama in fifth grade. I mean I remember drama, but not this sort of shit. WE need to do better.
Okay, let me start this one off with a little backstory. Y’all know how I get sad and listen to Adele? When I’m sad, and listening to Adele, that’s usually the time I partake in internet comment sections. What do I mean by internet comment sections? You know when USA Today, or WaPo, or The NY Times shares a story and then people comment on said story, usually without reading the actual story, they are just knee-jerk reacting to the headline, well I knee-jerk react to the comments people make. Listen, it’s not wise, there are a lot of assholes in the world, but when I’m “Adele sad” I want to make others miserable with me. Hey, I’m only human. So rather than making people I know and love take the brunt of my wrath, I do it to strangers. Although, even as I myself troll on these days, I keep it nice and I keep it civil, in hopes, always, that I am educating or helping someone see with a bit more clarity. I’m not, for example, getting on the comment section and calling people a slew of names or calling them “snowflakes,” or “Whiny babies,” or “The racist, sacrilegious, extreme right” even though that’s what most of them are, and I myself am usually called names like, “Snowflake,” or “Socialist,” or my personal favorite, “Libtard.” Eww, y’all.
So there I am one day, sad and alone at home, Adele blasting out of my HomePod and I come across an article. I can’t recall where it was, but it is about the boys in the MAGA hats who tormented the Native American veteran last year in Washington DC. It is specifically about the boy who wore the brunt of it because he seemed to be the instigator of it. If I remember correctly there was a lot at play that day. Several groups protesting several things, and the MAGA hat boys surrounded the Native American Veteran who I believe had been trying to deescalate a confrontation between the MAGA hat boys and a group of Black protestors who were protesting against Donald Trump. The Native American Veteran saw an opportunity to help and he stepped in. Which worked, because the Black men walked away. But then the MAGA hat boys surrounded the Native American Veteran and started yelling slurs at him and being general juvenile assholes. This part of the story has been pretty well re-told by all those involved.
The story I commented on was not about that. It was about how the one boy’s parents, this boy,
sued CNN for defamation or something, and they won some money. But I mean look at these kids. They were obviously disrespecting this man, who was trying to help them not get their asses whopped by much bigger dudes. I remember when it happened, and I remember thinking what pieces of shit raised these pieces of shit. I also remember thinking that the Black protestors needed to slow their role, I mean who gets into a conflict with kids? Then I remembered the world we live in and yeah, I want to punch this kid in the face, so there’s that.
Okay, back to the story. So there I am sitting at my desk listening to Adele tell me about her lost loves, and I’m sad, and I come across the article that says he won money and I know this comment section is gonna be lit, so I take the bait.
First thing I see is a woman calling for THE WHOLE USA to apologize to this poor boy. Le sigh. I scroll. I scroll. I start liking comments of level-headed people who are making sense. Someone says, for instance, “I hope these boys learned a lesson. I hope they treat veterans better.” I like it. I see, “I hope this young man’s family uses some of that money to help others in need, veterans, the homeless, I hope they spread goodness from now on.” I loved that one. You see what I do now.
So then I start reading the really nasty ones. The ones that make no sense and have nothing to do with the article. The ones blaming Hillary Clinton, what? The ones saying that “TRUMP IS ALL OUR PRESIDENT!” Like, no shit dude. We know this. The ones who are literally just there to troll. Now, this was during the standoff with Iran a couple weeks ago, when “Military Draft” was the number one thing Googled that week, so a few people were talking about this Native American guy being a Veteran, and saying this is what a real Veteran looks like. Tempers were high, y’all. I don’t remember exactly what I commented, but on one of the “This is a fine example of a Veteran” posts, I said something like, “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love or country, join the military.” Or something like that. Essentially I suggested that young men, ones who are this pumped about our country (I remember when this all happened, some of their parents came out and called their young sons “Patriots” for standing up for the President) that they would join our troops in supporting this country for all of us who cannot. That was it, that’s what I commented: “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love of country, join the military.” End scene.
But, oh no. The trolls were on me like me on a bag of Cheetos. First someone told me the draft didn’t exist. Which made me confused. I said, “I’m aware. I’m suggesting they join willingly. Our military needs good, strong, young men at this time.” Then someone told me I should join. In which I said, “I’m both over the ‘weight regulations’ and ‘age regulations.'” Besides, I never felt “called” to fight for our county in that way. Though I have many friends and family members in the military, and I love and appreciate that they did feel called, and I feel safe because of them.” Then I left it at that.
That’s when people starting chiming in on my weight. This was my profile pic at the time:
Most of it was “She can’t join the military, she’s too fat.” Which I had already addressed, but you know, people. So as you can see, the conversation was going great places. Lots of learning was happening, blah, blah, blah. So I decided I’d do what I usually do, I’d mute the conversation and go on about my day. I’d made my point, even though they didn’t “get it” and I felt better having supported some people who were fighting the good fight with knowledge and love. So I bowed out, as I usually do. I said something like: “This has been an enlightening conversation. May I think you all for your relatively smart dialogue and remind you, in this time of great divisiveness, that we all have the power to change our neighborhoods, our communities, and the world.” I have a schtick, I say basically the same thing every time. Then I add, “I’ll be muting this conversation now, try to keep an open mind with others.” Then I muted the conversation and went on with my life.
Then two days ago I was sitting at a Starbucks writing, and I remembered that I wanted to send a friend a DM to ask a question, so I logged onto my Messenger App. I rarely do this, but there are some people who I only converse with through this app. So I logged in and I had two messages that were marked as unread. Turns out that if you aren’t friends with a person on Facebook, they can send you a message, but you won’t get notifications about it, and you can’t open a dialogue with them unless you accept it. I clicked to see who the messages were from. There was a woman whose name looked oddly familiar, and a man who I didn’t know at all. I read the woman’s first. It was a woman from one of the poodle sites I frequent. I had joined the site when I lived in Charlotte and it still showed Charlotte as my home. She became aware of a poodle that needed rehomed in Charlotte so she remembered me and reached out. I thanked her, because that was very nice, then explained that we didn’t want another dog at this time, but to continue to consider me in the future. We had a lovely chat about poodles and said our goodbyes. Then I logged into the other message and saw this:
I went back and forth about whether or not to use his real name and picture on my public/private blog, but the thing is, I didn’t do anything wrong, he did. He’s an internet troll who took the trolling one step further. I don’t even remember him from the thread. But apparently when I refused to respond anymore to the comment section he sought me out, clicked on my page, and sent me a message. And he did it in the most Trump-Supporter way I’ve ever seen. I mean never mind the fact that this white man thought that he had the authority to seek me out and “put me in my place” but you guys, this spin doctor could work for Fox News! He’s been programmed to take a comment: “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love or country, join the military.” And turn it into “You’re quite something for wishing death on a bunch of kids for wearing hats supporting the guy who won the presidency.” Now, let’s do what all my English professors would be proud of me for doing, let’s break this sentence down.
“You’re quite something,” okay well he obviously is already angry. And we all know that anger stems from fear, so what is fearful of? Could it be that a woman could be as smart as he thinks he is? Maybe he’s afraid that I’m right. Maybe he’s afraid that we are in fact going to war, and he isn’t joining the military and he really wanted to and couldn’t. Or he was too scared to even try, so this all hits too close to home. Too close to his man-ego.
“Wishing death on a bunch of kids…” This is a great tactic the GOP has been using for years. You take a comment, and you strip it down to the bare bones, then you think about how you could make it sound absurd, thereby making the speaker sound absurd, and you spew the new comment that you made into your head, at the speaker like they said it, hoping they will believe that is what they really said. It’s been highly effective for the Republican Party and you can see it any day you turn on Fox News.
“…who won the presidency…” This part shows his insecurity once again. Two reasons: 1. I never talked about Trump in my comment, just about the the kids and the military, he brought Trump in, and in a sense, Hillary Clinton, which they LOVE to do. Then they accuse us of “not being over the election.” Hmpf. He knows, like we all do, that Hillary won the popular vote. More people in our country wanted Hillary to be the president than they wanted Trump to be the president. In fact, she won by millions, y’all. But I don’t talk about that anymore, cause it doesn’t’ matter. But these Trump supporters live and die by this idea that we all sit around and commiserate about how sad we are that Trump won. Nope. We don’t, just so you know. But when you bring it up to us, we do make fun of you because you are projecting.
“…you’re so full of hate…” Projecting. I mean, this man came to my page, clicked to message me, just to tell me this last line which I assume he thinks was the real kick to the gut, so, umm, me thinks he’s the angry one. I’m just sad, remember? Adele? The shithole upside down world we live in that has men like this in it? I’m sad, y’all.
The kick to the gut: “maybe you’d be happier if you lost some weight.”
Real quick: Fat jokes lose their steam in middle school, y’all. We are adults.
So, my first instinct was to delete and block. In fact, I blocked him for about thirty seconds. Then I thought, if I don’t reply I will be angry about this. I will stew. I will sit and think about all the things I could have said and it will make me sad and I will listen to more Adele, thus perpetuating the cycle. So I unblocked him and I wrote this:
Then as you can see, I blocked him. Then I alerted Facebook to him being a “Harasser” and now I’m sharing it with you all. Mainly because I gave you a brief on FB and y’all wanted me to blog about it, so you are welcome. And thanks for your support. For reading my blog. For loving a good story. And more importantly, thank you to my friends and family who, while we may not agree on everything in this world, can still be openminded, and kind, and who will always go to bat for me, because you know I will always go to bat for you. In fact, please let me know if you ever have an internet troll. I would love to take care of them for you!
So what is today’s lesson, y’all? Don’t be Brad. Also, don’t go searching for him on Facebook. Don’t send him messages or be a crazy person like he is. Instead remember that there are people like Brad in this world. They are perpetuating meanness. They are led by fear, insecurity, a hatred for women, first and foremost, then usually people who don’t look like them, pray like them, or vote like them. They are the extreme, y’all. Most of us are in that humane middle. But the guys like Brad up there, give all Republicans a bad name, and if you are a Republican it’s your job to silence the Brad’s of the world. And it goes both ways. We can’t let crazy leftists stand up for all Democrats, we can’t give them a platform. Only then can we eliminate this sort of hate and bigotry.
I’m sitting in a Starbucks. I just had coffee with a friend who had to run at noon to grab her daughter from preschool. I decided to sit for a spell and write on my laptop, order another drink, people watch. And the Starbuck’s Goddess has smiled upon me. There are three woman, all 60 plus, sitting in the corner next to me. They are huddled around two things: A book titled Still Life by Louise Penny, and a white folder with a homemade title on the side that says simply, Women’s Retreat. They are simultaneously talking about the book, and planning what sounds to be a church-related women’s retreat for April. They are also mercilessly making fun of some of the women going on the retreat with them, and occasionally poking fun at the woman sitting in an overstuffed chair, asleep, with a rolling suitcase at her feet. It’s disgusting. It’s not Jesus like. I can’t stop listening.
The book is a mystery novel. A 3.5 out of 5.0 on Goodreads. There’s a Chief Inspector named Gamache. One of the women is addicted to the mystery novel.
The sleeping woman with the suitcase is unmoving. I keep checking to see if her leg or arm moves. Checking to ensure she is alive. It’s cold in here. The temperature outside is a balmy 36 degrees. Winter in Atlanta has come.
One of the women refused a trip to Hawaii with her daughter and her family because they aren’t going to “the big island,” and because her son-in-law likes to decide last minute to stay extra days, and she can’t do that because her neighbor would have her dog, and what would happen if they stayed an extra day because the kids were having fun and her dog ran out of his medication, and the neighbor lost her code to her garage.
“What a disaster that would be,” says Still Life woman.
There’s a woman, Deborah, who is texting Women’s Retreat folder woman. Deborah wants to know if there is a way to join the retreat. “Is there a way?” the Women’s Retreat folder woman laughs, “Oh, I worry about Deborah sometimes.”
“She’s not techy,” Still Life woman says, “She needs help.”
“Just put her down,” Third woman says.
“No,” Women’s Retreat says, “I’ll send her the link again and she can have someone help her figure it out.”
“Maybe she won’t come,” Still Life says.
“Hopefully she won’t,” mumbles one of the Christian women.
The drive-thru line crawls along. Men and women in heavy coats, beanies, earmuffs, looking like they are about to climb Mt. Everest. Jesus, it’s only 36 degrees.
“We don’t need more testimony,” Still Life says, thumbing through a stack of papers Women’s Retreat took out of the folder.
“Her testimony doesn’t even reflect others, no one will get her,” Third woman slides a paper that looks like a schedule back toward the folder and eyes the sleeping woman.
Sleeping woman wakes with a start. Pulls a red envelope from her coat pocket, quickly, as if to make sure it is still there. She examines it and sticks it in the tote bag next to her, pulls a cracker from the meat and cheese tray she bought with a gift card when she first came in, pops it in her mouth, then lays her head forward on her breasts, her long greying hard falls down over her face. She closes her eyes and munches on the cracker.
“Do you think she lives in the hotel over there?” Women’s Retreat asks, nodding her head toward the awake sleeping woman, in the maroon sweatpants, matching coat, and slippers. Her large suitcase still at her feet.
“I can’t believe Starbucks just let’s her sit here,” Still Life shakes her head.
Willie Nelson plays, “…now my hair has turned to silver/all my life I’ve loved in vain/I can see her star in heaven/blue eyes crying in the rain.”
Y’all know how schools have Spirit Nights wherein they partner with a particular restaurant and that restaurant gives some percentage of their proceeds back to the school? Well if you are new to this, the concept is pretty simple. The school (usually initiated by the PTA/PTO) reaches out to restaurants around the community and asks if they would like to host a Spirit Night. The restaurant, if they aren’t dumb, agrees. They get a crowd of people they might not normally get on a random Thursday night, and the school makes a little mullah. It’s a win-win. We have been to A LOT of these spirit nights at all three of the elementary schools we have attended since Jackson was in kindergarten, but the school we are at now (our personal favorite of the schools) knows how to show up at spirit night, y’all. Which is a great thing. If the restaurant is ready for us, that is.
So last Thursday we had this month’s Spirit Night at a pizza place. It was a local joint that we had never tried before, but seems to be popular with the community. I’m not sure if they’d never hosted a Spirit Night for our school before or what, but they were, ummm, how should I say this, not prepared. Now before I tell you this story, know that is comes from a place of love. Jerimiah and I both worked in the restaurant business, I did it for 10+ years in fact, and I know the trials and tribulations that go into it. The blood, sweat, and tears (hopefully not in the guests food) so I get it, but because of this we also know how it can be done right, and are always a little offended when it isn’t.
We got there right about 6:15 pm, sort of right in the middle of dinner rush, and the place wasn’t too packed. In fact, as the three of us looked around we were bummed at the lack of spirit from our school. Turns out the whole school was right behind us! In fact one minute there were about three families in line, the next there were about 10, and they just kept coming. Remember how I said we show up for Spirit Night?! This pizza place also does call-in orders, which you could also do for Spirit Night, so their phones were ringing off the hook too. They were suddenly busy, to say the least, but this should not have been shocking to anyone there.
Immediately Jackson found some friends and they all ran outside to play on the patio. It was a cool night, maybe 55 degrees, so no one was sitting outside, so they had this wide open patio (which was actually very cute with string lights and an outdoor fireplace) to run around and play. Jerimiah and I placed our order, and instead of little numbers they give you pictures of celebrities to keep track of table numbers. I thought that was cool, we had never come across that before. We got Prince, on a purple background, duh.
Jerimiah and I ordered caesar salads and 20 wings (we are trying to do low carb here, you guys) and we ordered Jackson two slices of cheese pizza. They sell pizza by the slice ($6 a slice, which was a little absurd since we had just been to NYC where the pizza is awesome and $2 a slice, but you know how it goes…) and they also sell whole pies, calzones, wings, meatball subs, the works. I was a little surprised when our bill at a pizza place was $50, but school spirit, blah, blah, blah.
We got our drink cups, and found a table next to some friends. I was busy in conversation with my friend Kelley, and we were talking about all the, ahem, slightly better pizza places around, while Jerimiah was sitting at the table, and Jackson and the kids were outside playing. I noticed at some point our salads got delivered, but I was still talking. We’d moved on to how we can change the world by then (my mom friends are amazing!) and Jerimiah started eating his salad.
Then a few minutes later a plate with 10 wings came out. Kelley was all, “Eat your food, we have to run.” And I went out with her to collect our kids. They took off and I brought Jackson in, assuming that our food was coming. Then we sat down. I started on my salad, Jerimiah finished his and started on the first plate of wings, and Jackson hopped up and down looking for friends who were coming in the door and asking about his two slices.
Forty-five minutes later, while Jerimiah was standing at the front counter asking why we never got our two slices of cheese pizza or ten more wings, they were all, “We delivered them…ummm…to someone.” Yeah. Needless to say Jerimiah just asked for a partial refund for the food we never received (at this point Jackson had not eaten and was pretty hungry from all the running around outside) and we had eaten side salads and five wings each, which was filling, but again, not what we ordered. They were convinced they had served our food to a wrong table, the cooks were adamant our food went out, somewhere, at sometime, and they were basically like, “Sorry, but you should have said something.” That’s when Jerimiah was all, “Uhh, my wife did say something.”
The thing is, when our salads come out, they didn’t have dressing with them. Jerimiah was so hungry by the time we had finally gotten it (about 25 minutes), that he ate it without noticing. I sat down and was all, where’s the dressing and he was all, “I dunno, I just ate mine.” (Eye roll. Men.) So I went up to the counter to ask for dressing. Then I asked, noticing their panicked faces behind the counter, about the rest of our order. The woman gave me my dressing, asked who we were (meaning which celebrity) I said, “Prince” and she walked over to the cooks. I heard them tell her that our food went out. So she came over and asked to visit our table. I brought her over and she was all, “Hmm, they said you got your food.” Nope, I told her. And she said, “I’m sorry, I’ll take care of it.” Twenty minutes after that is when Jerimiah approached the counter.
Anyway, even longer story short, they refunded us our whole ticket, which is not what Jerimiah wanted, but it was either a refund or we wait another 20 minutes (the kitchen was backed up by then, and apparently the counter girl had no recollection of walking to our table and talking to me) for the rest of our food, and may I remind you one order was literally just two slices of cheese pizza.
I must say I was very proud of Jerimiah throughout this whole thing. I was busy talking to even more people I knew, and he handled it without so much as a grimace. He apparently did get a little short when one of the women at the counter tried to say that we probably did get our food, we just didn’t realize it… umm… yeah. But I mean listen, we get it, we’ve been in the weeds before and lost some food, it’s just not the best idea to accuse the guest of getting the food, eating it, claiming they didn’t get it, and then, what? Discarding the evidence? They even pulled his receipt to make sure we had in fact ordered the “extra” 10 wings and two slices of cheese pizza. Ho hum.
We just had higher hopes for a restaurant who knew a slew of kids were coming in for dinner that night. Or maybe they didn’t because maybe they weren’t prepared for our school and our spirit! But now they know. PS… Who took our two slices of pizza and 10 wings and didn’t say, “This isn’t ours…” Hmm.
In the car I said, “So wait, all that and the school got nothing from us.” Jerimiah was like, “Jesus, I’d rather write the school a fifty dollar check than go through that again.” We laughed because it was true, and set off to find Jackson some food. It was late by this time (we’d been at the pizza joint for almost two hours) so we decided to drive through somewhere. It was decided that it would be Sonic since it was very close. So we ran over to Sonic to find it: SHUT DOWN, y’all! Seriously. It was like the dinner that would never end! But like Sonic just up and closed up shop. Not closed for the night, y’all, like done. Here look:
So we ended up at, you guessed it, our North Carolina favorite: Cookout! Cookout never disappoints, y’all. And Jackson was finally fed dinner at 8:30 pm, and we decided to never go back to that pizza joint again. Listen, I’m sure they are lovely people. And maybe their pizza is awesome (we don’t know, we never got to try it), but their wings were ehh, and their service even ehh-er (it’s kinda hard to get over being called a liar. Eek!) But you know, you live, you learn, then you go to Cookout. #NorthCarolinaRepresent
I hope our school made some money though, they certainly should have, and from what I heard from other families all was well for them, so maybe it was just us that had a trying time. Hopefully so!
This last Saturday was the Fourth Annual Women’s March, which began in 2017 out of necessity. Women and men witnessed the rise of a misogynistic racist into our highest office, and knew what that would mean for women’s equality, reproductive rights, immigration, and a thousand other problems we still face everyday in this country, so they took to the streets. There hasn’t been a turnout like the original in 2017, but each year tens of thousands descend on Freedom Park with their homemade signs, fight in their eyes, and determination in their hearts. They want to be heard. They want to be seen. And though the Women’s March has had its share of conflict, mainly the alienating of some cultures and races, they have done their best to weed out those that perpetrate this way of thinking. Because equality should work for everyone, not just white females who were born with a vagina.
I enjoyed watching the coverage of the march on Saturday and reminiscing with my husband and son about last year’s march, the one we went to. The running joke in our house is this: We took Jackson to Washington DC for the first time when he was just learning to walk, we took him the second time when he was just learning to march, and we will take him again when he is ready to lead.
I won’t take you down the rabbit hole that was the Women’s March of 2019, but you can read about our experience at the red link. And I’ll leave you with some of my favorite pics from last year’s march, and the call to go yourself! There is nothing quite like standing amongst the fold of women, men, and children all marching for the same thing.
Today seems like an appropriate day to share a little story of how Jackson was introduced to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., first in Memphis, years later in Birmingham, then again in Atlanta. We’ve been fortunate to travel to these historical places, as well as many others, in Jackson’s first 11 years, and we always took the opportunity to speak truth to him, even when he was obviously too young to “get it.” Which was the case in both Memphis and Birmingham (the first times around), but recently he’s been more capable of understanding the way our country was several decades ago, and he’s starting to make some big connections to the world we live in today, like how things haven’t changed as much as we would have liked.
The first time Jackson heard of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and his important work, his life and his death, was in 2012. Jackson was three-years-old when this picture was taken outside the Lorraine Motel on the south side of Memphis.
That’s an amped up guy, who loved old cars, smiling at his grandma and daddy standing just outside the shot. He had no idea why we were there, what had happened there, or whom those cars belonged to, but he liked them. He fell in love with finned cars on that day, but he was far from grasping the complexities of what he was looking at, or the spot he was standing on. Still we tried to explain, hoping something would stick.
It was a mildly, warm spring day in Memphis the day we visited the Lorraine Motel, and it was my first time paying homage to the late Reverend Doctor as well. I remember the somberness that followed me around for the rest of the day. That is until my toddler bought a blow-up guitar at ten pm on Beale Street and showed us all how to get down. A reminder that it isn’t all bad.
Our next attempt at teaching our son about the important work of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and his many comrades, was during a trip to Birmingham a couple years later. We sat on the grass at the Kelly Ingram Park, formally West Park, and had lunch while we introduced racism to a wily four-year-old.
Kelly Ingram Park is directly across from the 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham. In the 1960s it served as a gathering ground for large-scale protests led by the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and others like him. The church, of course, was the first “Colored Baptist Church” in Birmingham, and was infamously bombed in 1963 killing four young girls–Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair–and injuring 22 others. This was the first time, sitting in this lush, green grass, surrounded by the statues built to honor the Black community of Birmingham, that I realized the depth of what I was trying to talk to my son about. I worried it was too much, too soon. Frankly, I thought Jerimiah and I might be crazy. Extreme even. But when Jackson looked up at us and said, “People hate others because of the way their skin looks?!” I knew it was necessary. And I knew then, that something was sticking.
The next time we would encounter the life and work of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was when we visited Atlanta for the first time in 2016, and then a couple years later, when we had the opportunity to move to Atlanta, a city rife with its share of racial division, yet home to the King family. We’ve learned so much about the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. since then, and about the people who supported and worked with him. About Rep. John Lewis, about Reverend Hosea Williams and Harry Belefonte, about the work they put into the Civil Rights Movement. We are so lucky to live in such history, fifteen miles from the King family home, from Ebenezer Baptist Church where Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and his son lead worship for many years. Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. taking over in 1927, and his son becoming co-pastor in 1960 until his death in 1968. We’ve visited this landmark, the King family home, and the National Historical Park named after the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., and the King Center, where the King’s are buried, several times since 2016 and each time we have learned something new, and had some tough conversations with an ever-growing child who still occasionally has to grasp at what we are saying. But little by little, it’s sticking.
Today we honor the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. His life and his legacy. We honor those who fought alongside him. Those who peacefully protested and those who didn’t, because honestly, it was all necessary. We are not part of the Black community, but we strive everyday to be as educated, as kind, as accepting, as we can be. Because Black Lives Matter. And Black History Matters.
We want to lend our support to a fight that is still raging in our country. I’d love to say that an end is coming soon, but I don’t think it is. Instead, I put my faith in the next few generations. In my son’s generation. In the kids with extreme parents. With access to history. With open and loving hearts. We must remember that we have come far, but not far enough.
We are novice theatergoers. In fact, aside from supporting our friends in high school by dropping in on the plays they were in, we didn’t go to another play until Jackson was in kindergarten. Since then, and with the help of some friends, we have had the pleasure of not just watching plays and musicals, but actually being part of a school production of The Wiz Jr. Wherein Jerimiah helped out with the stage, I helped with costumes, and Jackson played both a flying monkey and a crow. Here, have a gander.
We’ve also seen countless plays, Jackson has taken theater classes at the wonderful ImagineOn School of Theater Training in Charlotte, and Jerimiah and I have seen both Kinky Boots (starring Wayne Brady) and The Play That Goes Wrong, on Broadway. Then a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves, along with Jackson, once again in NYC and we were lucky enough to be able to take him to his first Broadway show. It was fun and it was exciting, as many of you probably know, you never forget your first Broadway show! And what better show for him to see than The Lion King! You can read more about his experience in the link above.
He loved the show, was mesmerized by the cast, the puppets, the music, it all added up to a night of wonderful memories which we got to share with some of our best friends. But the coolest part, in my opinion, was the behind the scenes tour that we had after the show. Apparently a behind the scenes tour on Broadway isn’t as easy to get as at your local playhouse. In fact, you sort of have to know someone, who knows someone. Turns out we did. And we got to walk the wings of the legendary Minskoff Theater located at 1515 Broadway.
The Minskoff Theater is a 1,600 seat theater, much bigger than any other Broadway theater we’ve been in, in the heart of Midtown. It opened in 1973, with a revival of Irene starring Debbie Reynolds. Since then it has been home to Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue; Hello Dolly!, Cabaret, Sunset Boulevard, Fiddler on the Roof, and it was once home to the Miss Universe Pageant. But in 2006 The Lion King set up shop there, and it’s been home to it ever since.
Because we are novice theatergoers, as mentioned before, we learned quite a bit about the backstage area while we were on the tour. We learned, for example, the very real, very scary ways the props made it to the stage. If you have ever seen The Lion King you know there must be some feat of strength to get this done. Bertha, the giant elephant from the opening act, hangs from the rafters, for instance. Which both amazed and terrified me. We saw the boards on each side of the stage where notable celebrities and politicians sign there names when they’ve had their own private tour, and we even got to sneak into the pit below the stage, which is small and claustrophobic for a person like me, filled to the brim with what can only be hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars worth of musical equipment. But the story that stuck with me the most, was the story of the ghost light. If you’re a drama person, or a regular theatergoer, you probably already know the story, but this was new to me so I will share with you just in case.
As we were finishing up our tour the crew was running around shutting down lights, cleaning up the theater, putting all the props away, etc. And at one point when we were standing on the stage, just after Jackson did his “Simba” thing with his toy Simba (pic below) the lights shut off. “I guess we are done,” our tour guide said, and we made our way downstairs with him to grab his coat. But as we were leaving the stage I noticed one single light still on. I made a quizzical look and our friends said, “It’s the ghost light.”
The Ghost Light is a single, incandescent bulb left on the stage overnight to give a bit of light to the people still in the theater, mainly so they don’t fall into the open pit below the stage. But it gets its name because it’s believed that every theater has a ghost that haunts it. And the ghost can be destructive if you don’t appease it. Some theaters use the ghost light to allow the ghost to perform at night, so they don’t wreck havoc on the production. Others leave it on to scare away the ghosts, because after all, we know ghosts like the pitch black of night. I don’t know the particular reason the ghost light comes on in The Minskoff, aside from it being mandated by the Actors’ Equity Association, but I suspect it’s for ghostly reasons.
At the end of the night we took the subway back to our hotel and had milkshakes just after one a.m. at the Tick Tock Diner. Stood on our terrace at our New Yorker suite in the rain, and watched the Empire State Building change colors. I wondered about the Minskoff ghost and hoped it was getting all the stage time it needed.
If you’re like me, you prefer the Cheeto Puffs over the crunchies. And if you’re also like me, you adore a good library. We have a lot in common, huh? If you adore a good library, then you’re gonna want to run up to Providence, Rhode Island and spend an afternoon at The Providence Athenæum. It will fill your heart with gladness, take away all your sadness, ease your troubles, that’s what’ll do. It will, in fact, Rod Stewart your ass.
The Providence Athenæum is mere steps from the entrance to Brown University, with such notable alumni as, John D. Rockefeller Jr., a slew of Kennedys, Jeffrey Eugenides (please read Middlesex), Ted Turner, Horace Mann, and most importantly in our house, the reason the picture below was taken, Emma Watson AND John Krasinski.
But The Providence Athenæum is its own kind of wonderful. Our Rhode Island friends wanted to visit since they moved there over the summer, but they were waiting on the right people to visit with. Insert the Goodnights. (Heart swooning noises). The day we visited was a hectic day. Our first day in Rhode Island, and we had a lot to see. We’d had breakfast in their wonderful village of East Greenwich, in a diner inside of an old train car. The diner was called Jiggers and I had the delicious Rhode Island Johnny Cakes!
Then we walked around East Greenwich for a bit. We got to see the old Debters Prison and too many yachts and sailboats to count. We learned that there are two parts of East Greenwich. One side called The Hill and one side called The Harbor and where you live is how you know where you belong. It seemed to me that you either have a million dollar house on The Hill or an $800,000 on The Harbor, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that. And don’t worry, our friends live on The Harbor, which means they are riff-raff and not to be trusted. I think.
Essentially what I learned is that Rhode Island is a different beast. A nicer, more beautiful beast than anywhere else I’ve ever been. All that history. All the salt in the air. All the hills, all the harbors. I was more than impressed. Then they took us to The Providence Athenæum.
Listen, I’ve been in some cool libraries. I’ve been to the Boston Public Library. I’ve been in the reading room of the NYC Library (pic below) not to mention all the other cool, lesser known ones around the country (I like to stop at libraries, okay, geez leave me alone.) But The Providence Athenæum is now my favorite.
It’s not the size, although it is a perfect size. Small enough to fit in a quarter of a square block, but big enough (three floors), and with enough of an impressive collection to spend a whole day. It’s the accessibility, the welcoming nature of the place. Oh, and dogs are allowed, so there’s that. Before I get into the history of the place, here’s some a lot of pics for your viewing pleasure.
Okay, so why is The Providence Athenæum so freaking awesome? Great question! The history of the library goes like this. In 1753, Providence had a library called the Providence Library Company. They also had a second library, not connected to the Providence Library Company, called Providence Athenæum. They didn’t like each other, go figure (they were both managed by men, so…) In 1836 they agreed to dissolve both libraries and merge together as one, which is now known as The Providence Athenæum. They ended up merging their collections, which was a great idea, and by 1850 they were the library in Providence.
In 1872 the library hired its first female employee, an assistant librarian named Mary Angell, and she started work on the card catalog that still sits on the main floor! After Mary left the library, Grace Leonard, the library’s first female head librarian (who worked there for 46 years) reclassified the whole catalog in accordance with the Dewey decimal system. With over 56,000 volumes, it took her 13 years. More can be found about the history and these women at The Ath’s website.
The Ath, its colloquial name, has hosted many prominent writers, artists, and thinkers in American history, including Edgar Allen Poe and his lost love, Sarah Helen Whitman, an amazing poet in her own right. In fact, Whitman broke up with Poe at The Ath and it’s said that Poe haunts the top floor. I was on the lookout, but didn’t see him. Maybe next time! Others who have lingered the stacks include, H.P Lovecraft, Thomas Hopkins Webb, and Francis Whipple, among other “scribbling women” according to Nathaniel Hawthorne. I found a wonderful article by Jane Lancaster on the colorful history of The Ath if you are as interested as I am.
So there you have it, some of it anyway. The history, the mystic, the lovely architecture, and the amazing collection of The Ath, which is just a hop, skip, and jump from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, so if you ever find yourself on Federal Hill, maybe yonder over and check it out. You won’t be disappointed!
I didn’t set a New Year’s resolution. I didn’t set one because I’m capable of shaming myself much better than praising myself. If I set a resolution, and it falls apart in mid-March, then I fall apart in mid-March. And I have a hell of a time getting myself put back together. I’m like Humpty, ya dig? I’m really funny looking, but I things cooking (insert music notes). So sorry. Essentially I’m saving a lot of strife by not setting myself up to fail, which is what would inevitably happen. Because I know me. The other reason I didn’t feel called to set a resolution is because there wasn’t anything eating away at me to change. 2019, for all the ups and downs it gave me, was actually a pretty good year. And I see no reason for 2020 to be any different, which means I can still work on myself and all the things I was working on before, and hopefully just get better at this new routine.
But I did feel compelled to do some digging and look at portions of my life that could use a little more energy, and I came up with two areas: My weight, which you all know is a constant, life-long struggle of mine, and my writing, which I can say the same about. My weight has its own things to work out, and I am working on it. Always working on it. But my writing, well that is something that can wax and wane, and I had noticed there were very large waning spots over the last few years.
Let’s take this blog for instance. I started it back in 2016. Between 2016 and 2017 I made 20 posts. In 2018 I decided to try a bit harder and I wrote 250 posts! Whew, that escalated quickly. So my inclination was to say that I could write every day this year. Or maybe not everyday, but make at least 365 posts. Then I realized how crazy that sounded and I reeled it back, promising instead to just beat my year’s number. Then I realized I might be selling myself short. Orchestrating smallness. So I said, “No, no, Missy, stick to the plan. 365 posts.” Then I got a good night’s sleep and woke up in sweaty thoughts, “What the actual hell, Missy! You can’t write every, single, day. That’s madness.” Then I wrote every, single day for the first two weeks of the year and now I’m back to maybe I could do 365. Do you see why I never get anything accomplished?
Here is my point, in as much as I have one, commitment is cool or whatever. Setting a resolution to do something is nice, but commitment without intent isn’t going to get me very far. I can be totally committed to writing on this here bloggedy, blog, blog, but if I don’t actually intend to do it, set aside time each day, think up wonderful things to write about, spend some time actually thinking about things, then actually writing them down, I will sputter out. Blah, blah, blah.
You get me? I think you do. Maybe in a very abstract, very “I’m hangin on by a thread here, Missy” way, but you get me. And that’s what I love about you.
Go forth and dismantle resolutions. Or create them. Or accomplish them. Or whatever makes you work, and be happy, and creative. I support you any which way.
Keeping with the theme of Rhode Island this week, I wanted to share some more of our pictures from our trip up North today. Of course, by “up North” I mean a million different places in the span of eight days, but if we break it up into little chunks it’s easier to digest. Kinda like how I used to get Jackson to eat his green beans. You don’t want to over-mash them, but you also don’t want to slop a handful of full beans on his high chair tray, you know. No slopping.
Anywho, this week I will tell you a little bit about our time in Providence and East Greenwich, but today my focus is Beavertail State Park and Newport. Or sunsets and mansions, as you’ll come to see. We’d never been to Newport before because well, we’d never been to Rhode Island before. You see, if you go to Rhode Island, you can absolutely hit all the hot spots in one day. How do I know? Because we did.
Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a small state. In fact, it is the smallest US state by area, yet the second most densely populated. It was among the first Thirteen Colonies, and fourth to have ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1778. It was also the first colony to prohibit slavery (1652), as well as the first colony to declare independence from Britain on May 4, 1776. This is to say that there is a lot of history in Rhode Island, and in my opinion their history is overlooked, more often in favor of the connecting states of Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Rhode Island is nicknamed “The Ocean State” probably because of its over 400 miles of beautiful and bountiful coastline. And though the lobster pots are abundant, the views were the winner in my book. Here, take a look at the sunset at Beavertail State Park and Lighthouse in Jamestown.
No idea where the kids were, but absolutely stunning views amiright?! And that is just the sunset. We also had a little bit of time to see The Breakers (though the tour was behind, so we didn’t go inside). The Breakers is a Vanderbilt Mansion nestled on Ochre Point Avenue in Newport, butting up against the beautiful campus of Salve Regina University, which funnily enough offers an MFA program. Hmm… Anyway, The Breakers was originally built as a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II between 1835 and 1837. And it was quickly decided that I should have been born a Vanderbilt. Duh. Although we didn’t take the tour (something to do next time), we did get to walk the grounds and the area along the coast called The Cliff Walk, which is actually a 3.5 mile public walkway that borders the shoreline and gives you exquisite views of The Breakers and other mansions that I should probably live in. Here, have a gander.
A nice drive through the streets of Newport, led to some interesting stories, some fantastic spots to visit when it’s more than 40 degrees outside, and history that I wasn’t expecting. Not only were JFK and Jackie O. married there, but Newport boasts the very first tavern and Quaker neighborhoods with quaint houses, just enough to remind you that not everyone there was a millionaire. Oh and just for posterity, here are some cool shots from our ride to Beavertail from Newport, with the Claiborne Pell/Newport Bridge behind us.
We ended the night back near where we started, in East Greenwich, at a little joint called The Shanty, where I had the best pork medallions ever (I stole them off Dave’s plate) and my first clams. Yummy!
So do you want to visit Rhode Island yet?! Sure you do! Just get yourself your own Little Rhody’s cause you can’t have ours!
Tuesdays kind of suck. Tuesdays are like that girl you knew in college. Her name was Amber. She had large, robust breasts. The kind you’d catch yourself staring at, wondering why yours weren’t that nice, and also wondering how soft they were. She was always a bit high, but she didn’t work. Her parents paid for her apartment, and she made her weed money by selling plasma on the weekends. Sometimes she’d show up at the same party as you, and she’d saunter over, a little drunk on flavored vodka, a Marlboro Light hanging from her mouth, Ani DiFranco on the CD player, and she’d ask your name, even though you two had known each other since 6th grade. You’d just look down at her vast cleavage, wonder what it felt like inside that space, and say, “You know me, dude.” And she’d be all, “Really?! OMIGOD!”
Tuesdays are annoying. They make me think about all the shit I didn’t get done on Monday, that I was planning on getting done on Sunday, because I knew it actually needed to get done on Saturday, because I thought to get it done on Friday, but who gets shit done on Friday? Amber. She sells plasma on Fridays.
It rains on Tuesdays. Maybe not every Tuesday, but when it’s raining it always feels like a Tuesday.
Tuesdays suck the creativity out of me. They block me from the motivation that it takes to take that first step. Write that first line. Knit that first stitch.
But every so often a Tuesday will surprise me. Yesterday I had a nice, long chat over coffee with a new friend. I thought, “Well Tuesday, what have we done here? This was lovely.” But as I was leaving the coffee shop it started to rain. I was carefully walking back to my car when I suddenly remembered touching Amber’s breasts, in a friend’s apartment, the smell of vanilla vodka on our lips. It wasn’t a Tuesday. Couldn’t have been. Her breasts were soft, her skin warm.
Then I stepped into a puddle.
I see what you did there Tuesday. I won’t fall for it again.
Harry Motherfucking Potter (not it’s official title) was a little after my time. In fact, I remember being forced to read the first book in a children’s lit class my freshman year and I wanted to bang my head against the wall. This was way back, back when I read the whole text that was assigned to me. I was 18, I was pissy, I was usually high from weed, and I was a little emo. I thought Harry Motherfucking Potter was the dumbest shit ever. Then, in January of 2018 we decided as a family to read the whole series (which was gaining traction in Jackson’s world at that time, damn fourth graders and their HP obsessions) and now here we are, two years later and last night we started the last book and you guys, the series has been a fucking DELIGHT! I love Harry Motherfucking Potter, and I’m not ashamed to say it anymore.
If you have never read it before, and plan on it, I suggest you stop here because I am about to spoiler alert the shit out of you, okay? Okay, stop reading, go on about your day. Visit your local library to grab a copy. Or better yet, run over to your friendly, local bookstore and purchase your ass the first four books that have been illustrated (they are only up to the first four) because they are amazing, here is a pic of them for reference:
No, here comes a BIG spoiler. Go on now, GIT!
The week of Christmas we were finishing up The Half-Blood Prince (my favorite so far) and Jackson had two complete meltdowns. Two of them, y’all. Melt. Downs. Like needing to excuse himself, go hide in his room, and cry for hours. The first one was when Harry got Slughorn and Hagrid all drunked up after Aragog’s funeral, in order to get Slughorn’s horcrux memory. At first I could not figure out for the life of me what that was about. Like why was he so upset about it. Later on I realized that he saw what Harry did as a betrayal and that he had not seen Harry as that kind of person before. Listen, I had. I know Harry and his stupid tricks (he’s not my favorite character, Hermione is obvi) and this did not surprise me in the slightest. But Jackson, his big-hearted, honest nature, was not okay after this whole scene. The lying, the sneaking, the Felix Felicis, it all added up to turmoil for him. But that wasn’t the worst.
Last spoiler warning, be gone!
The worst night was the night before we left for vacation. The second to last chapter. Dumbledore’s death. Sigh. Listen, it shook me too. But I had a sense it was coming because you know, reader, writer, purveyor of tricks of the trade, but Jackson was shocked! Absolutely, terrified at how it all went down and he lost his shit, as any good reader of the series should have. He excused himself, and sobbed into his pillow. We checked on him several times, tried to comfort him. But honestly this was his first beloved character death and we knew he needed to process it. So when he finally asked to be left alone, to have his door closed (something we never usually allow because of my anxiety and need to hear him breathing at night) we slowly crept out and closed his door behind us. At some point he fell asleep.
The next day we asked if he wanted to finish the last chapter, which included the beloved professor’s funeral and he said no. He said he couldn’t do it right now, and it took us two more weeks to finish the book.
What’s funny to me, is that through the whole process of grieving Dumbledore, he kept saying, “I’m so dumb. This is so dumb. It’s a book!” I’m not sure why he thought that. If someone said that to him. If he just innately thought this was something that you don’t do, but I assured him that this is something that happens. We invest. We’ve been with Professor Dumbledore for two years now. He’s been the topic of many conversations. He was a great wizard, and an even better friend and confidant to Harry, and well, this happens when a book, a series like Harry Motherfucking Potter, gets you under its spell. We told him he shouldn’t feel ashamed. He should feel happy that he found a series that he loved that much.
This is all to say that this has been a fun, agonizing couple of years for us. And I hope that Jackson has learned many lessons from this series, but more importantly I hope he remembers how it made him feel. I hope he remembers grieving over the great professor. I hope he remembers how triumphant he felt each time Harry battled, and beat Voldemort. I hope he takes with him the friendships between the characters, strives to live a life as noble as Ron or study as hard as Hermione, or yes, even possess the confidence and shear stupidity, at times, of Harry. Because this series is about so much more than a little magic wand, and I’m so happy Jerimiah and I shared this experience with him.
We started the last book last night, and the normal sense of urgency wasn’t there. I think we all want this one to linger a little longer. I sure hope it does.