As most of you know, the husband is being relocated. His company, which shall remain nameless considering they probably don’t want to be associated with me, is a domestic, Fortune 300 company, with corporate and field operations, in a business that is stable and growing. He is on track to grow with this company, which is becoming unusual in this modern world. So, cool, cool, cool. Here is the thing, he’s been working from home for three weeks now. Le sigh. Let me stop here for a second and just say: I LOVE MY HUSBAND. Like LOVE him. I’m not saying that, then going around behind his back telling people that I hate him. Nah. He cool. We cool. And after seventeen years still very much in love and what not. Sex is good, cause I know you were wondering. It took a slight nosedive when we were trying to conceive just cause, well you know the deal, it wasn’t so much fun anymore as work, but after I had my hysterectomy, whew! Through the roof fun, ya know? Discovering parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed. We have this thing…Continue reading
It has taken me a long time to write this. Months, actually. Months of pacing my floorboards well into the night. Months of looking out my window for a sign, anything to come crashing down on me, begging me to stay for a few more weeks, a few more months. Fight more. Make this home. But nothing ever came. It isn’t surprising that it took me so long. It takes me a long time to get anything done. I used to be ashamed of that fact, but since I’ve known you, I’ve learned to appreciate this about myself. It’s not laziness. It’s not lack of motivation. It’s the opposite. It’s because when I invest in something, in someone, I invest my whole damn heart. And when you invest your whole damn heart, well, it takes time. You can’t leave on a whim. You can’t walk away without looking back three or four times. It’s a process. A lengthy, tumultuous process.
It seems silly, contrite, even dramatic, but Christ, I’m going to miss you, Charlotte. I’ve never left anywhere or anyone without wanting to. And even then, it is harder than it seems. When I left Leavenworth, Kansas many moons ago, I did so with a sadness that took me by surprise. It shouldn’t have. It’s true I had been working on my exit for 20 years, but still, I was totally and completely oblivious to what leaving actually meant. Through the entire process, though, I knew I was making the right decision. I knew this is what I had to do in order to launch. In order to learn and grow. So I pushed the sadness down, deep down, covering it with southern fried chicken and Arkansas BBQ.
Ten years later I left Southern Missouri. Again, I left because I knew I needed to. I knew it was the next right step for me, for us. I had a family by then. A husband eager for the adventure I had spent years cultivating in his mind. A five-year-old, on the cusp of kindergarten, a honestness inside him so profound that he didn’t once cry for his home, the only place he had ever known. Because he, like his mommy, craved new experiences, open roads, fun, and light, and merriment. In what seemed like an instant, we packed up a U-Haul, and we drove 1,000 miles in the stifling summer heat along I-40, eastbound. Then we took a right hand turn, and we found you.
Charlotte, my dear, I write this in love, honor, and humility, for I know you deserve more than what my words are capable of. Still, I refuse to carry the burden of forgetting to thank you for what you’ve meant to me these last five years. You were the city, after all, that I longed for. The city whose streets morphed me into the most honest version of myself. The bravest Missy anyone has ever seen.
Charlotte, it didn’t take long to learn how to navigate your patchy pavement, your potholes, and your politics. You wear your heart on your sleeve, waiting, hoping to be opened up by all of those who are willing. You taught me what it meant to be an outsider, to be hoping for acceptance. You taught this midwestern transplant about real, down home, southern hospitality. You taught me about peach cobbler and Cheerwine. You taught me that it is okay to not fit in. Then you taught me how to be accepted. You helped me shrug off the feeling that I was an imposter. A lost girl, tangled up in a city that I didn’t think wanted me, that I didn’t know I wanted.
Charlotte, you allowed me to truly let myself feel like I was a part of something. Which in turn allowed me to give freely of myself. To look past the trepidation of going out into the community, to the places I thought I feared, with the people I thought I feared. You taught me how to take their hands. To give what I had to give. You taught me how to receive what I didn’t know I needed. What I didn’t think I was worthy of. Charlotte, you taught me how to trust people again. You will forever be the place that taught me about the good and the bad of life. To understand those unlike me. To find common ground. You taught me about gentrification, all the horrible, ugly, heavy parts of it. About gratitude. About community. About moving forward together with people who are not like you, but also so very much like you.
Charlotte, I am not ashamed to say that I love you, your faults and all. Some don’t see your beauty. I’ve heard what they say about you. I’ve heard their true fear and ignorance of you. I’ve heard the complaints of your history, and your fast-paced progress. I’ve heard stories of your people, your streets, supposedly littered with graffiti and violence. But that’s not been my experience. Those aren’t the people who really know you, my dear. Those are the people who think they know you. The people too afraid, too out of touch, to get to the bottom of your heart. Too afraid to let their lives get knotted up in your streets and avenues, your museums, your schools, your churches, your neighborhoods, and your people. There isn’t an ounce of aggressiveness in you, Charlotte. There is only love and light, washed with an unmistakable sadness of underserved, underrepresented, undervalued people, trying to work together in the rapid, forward progression that has taken hold. There are people getting lost in the shuffle, Charlotte, but there are also people reaching down and lifting others up.
There are people at your schools who promote life-long learning. There are professors, and instructors, and counselors. There are people at Queens University, at UNC Charlotte. There are people at Idelwild Elementary School, and Thomasboro Academy, and Shamrock Gardens. There are people at CPCC, and The Arts Institute. There are beautiful, bright construction-paper fish lining the windows of Dilworth Elementary and silver robots at Mallard Creek STEM. There are flower beds at Paw Creek and an amazingly fun playground at Villa Heights. There are free lunches, and school picnics. Summer programs and school choirs. There are decorated lockers and national championship sports teams. There are teachers, principals, and bus drivers, that each morning, look into the eyes of their children, and tell them they are welcome. They are loved. And it makes all the difference, Charlotte. Your people make all the difference.
Charlotte, your parks are lovely. Your parks and your nature preserves and your gardens. Autumns at McDowell, down the luminary-lined roads in a wagon, make people feel like you are no longer in a bustling, urban city. Your dog park at Reedy Creek, its mixture of dust, and green, and friendly barking, allows for conversation and friendship, four-legged and two. From the geese who flank the pond at UNC Charlotte, backing up traffic on the roundabout, to the geese who nibble your pretzels at Freedom Park, your wildlife, your serenity, your escapes from the busy city life have calmed many. The excitement of an afternoon walk through Romare Bearden, the children in the fountains, ringing the bells, holding foot races across the wide open lawn, reminds me of my own languid summer days as a child. We’d glide over the beautiful lawn, take in an afternoon of baseball, cheering madly for the Knights, as they’d rally against Durham in the 10th inning. Then head over to Green’s for a chili-cheese dog.
And oh, the food! Charlotte, you are a food-lover’s paradise. From Amelie’s in NoDa to Pike’s in South End, there is a little something for everyone. Lunch at 300 East, dinner at Midwood Smokehouse (the only place this midwesterner can find good, down home, sticky, sweet sauce). Dutch Babies at The Original Pancake House and brunch at Bistro La Bon. Maybe a quick bite off the Pizza Peel buffet, or an order to go from Price’s Chicken Coop or Brooke’s Sandwich House. International House of Prayer offers up homemade specialties during the day, and there is always Midnight Diner, or Pinky’s, or South 21 if you just need good, greasy fries to soothe your soul.
Charlotte, I will miss you festivals and your beer. Your spontaneous parties at OMB and your giant Jenga game at Camp North End. Your Sunday afternoon dates with my 10-year-old at Abari’s Game Bar, where we first introduced him to a Super NES, and your fun hosting of Open Streets, where we were able to see a part of the city that we never had before via one of your many greenways. I will miss walks with my dog into Uptown, though the heavily guarded training fields of the Panthers, onto Trade Street and onward. I will miss the smiling faces at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library – Plaza Midwood branch, and at ImaginOn, where the entire staff seems only there to make my life easier, by helping my son find the Hank the Cowdog series, and tie his shoe, and teach him about projection in his theater class. I will miss your Thanksgiving Day parade, Charlotte, and your street vendors. I will miss the small, but mighty aquarium at Discovery Place. I will miss your weird collection of art and people on Tryon in Uptown, just after the sun has set, but before the bars open. I will miss you “Jesus Saves” guy. I will miss you Phoenix statue, and my desire to take a picture of every visitor to the city in front of it.
Charlotte, you came into my life at a turning point. You saw me through the early days of my son starting kindergarten. You helped me stay busy when my days were more quiet than I liked. You brought me into the fold of UNC Charlotte. You got me through three very long years of grad school, where my brain, my faith in myself, and my commitment were all tested beyond belief. You met me on the other side with the loveliest of new friends and mentors, all working their magic to put that spark back into my life, my writing, and my faith in good people. Kind people, smart, loving people.
Geez, the friends, Charlotte. The friends you gave me. The fun, amazing, lifelong friends, who always seemed to pop up at the perfect time. Some we have lost, more we have gained, but all of them, at some point in the last five years, have looked at me and smiled, a mutual understanding that our time spent together was not in vain. It was not lost on us. On who we are, or how we came to know each other. Or what we will always be, when it’s all said and done, and many, many miles separate us. I’m indebted to you for these lovely people, Charlotte. And much, much more.
Joan Didion once wrote, “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” I don’t know if this is what I have done here, Charlotte, but I have certainly tried, and I will certainly continue to try, for as long as you are present in my memory, to claim you, to obsess over you, year after year, month after month, as I drag my feet to say goodbye to the city I have come to love. The city that I have come to call home.
March 18th is Trisomy 18 Awareness Day. I don’t need to be made aware of Trisomy 18. I was made aware of it in August of 2011. I also don’t think the vast majority of the public needs to be made aware of it. Like a lot of other medical conditions, you don’t really know about Trisomy 18, or its similar conditions, Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 21, unless it comes crashing into your life. But, I do support the Trisomy 18 Foundation. And I do love and admire the people in the world who are out there living with Trisomy 18. And there are people in the world who are out there living with, and caring for those living with, Trisomy 18. So I do find it necessary to educate others on the condition. That’s what I call it, a condition.
Trisomy 18 is a condition caused by an error in cell division, known as meiotic disjunction. When this happens, instead of the normal pair of number 18 chromosome, an extra chromosome 18 results (a triple, hence tri) in the developing baby and disrupts the pattern of development in significant, life-threatening ways, even before birth. A Trisomy 18 error occurs in about 1 of every 2500 pregnancies in the United States, and 1 in 6000 live births. The numbers of total births is much higher because it includes significant numbers of stillbirths that occur in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.
Unlike Down Syndrome, which is also caused by an extra chromosome, the developmental issues caused by Trisomy 18 are associated with medical complications that are potentially life-threatening in the early months and years of life. Studies have shown that only 50% of babies who are carried to term will be born alive, and only 10% of those babies will live to see their first birthday. Most of the babies who survive are girls.
As I mentioned above, there are people living with Trisomy 18. Perhaps one of the better known children living with this condition is one-time Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s daughter, Bella. Bella turns eleven this year. She is a beautiful young lady, with well-equipped parents who have made it their mission to see that she lives a happy and adventure-filled life.
At the risk of being political, I will stop there. As the Santorums and I have little in common, other than having a daughter who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, but please be aware that not all people in this situation, or with babies who have life-altering disabilities, are capable to care for, and provide for, their children in such an amazing way. Just be considerate.
I’ll end with a link to the story that I wrote about our daughter Lydia. I suspect it will tell you all you need to know about our journey. As always, I welcome comments, questions, and thoughtful discussion on any topic I address. But remember, above all else, there are people in the world who are battling things you can’t even conceive of, things you do not know about, things you are not even slightly educated on. Be kind to all you meet.
Lydia’s Story: http://mudseasonreview.com/2018/10/nonfiction-issue-40/
I don’t usually get political. Bahahahaha! Just kidding, I get political all the damn time. I get political when it calls for it, when it doesn’t call for it, and when I’m drunk at a party and I say some shit like, Jesus, our president is a fucking piece of work, ehhh, then I nudge the very quiet guy next to me, who happens to be my husband, and he whispers, Dude, don’t do this here, it’s my boss’ house… In short, I get political any chance I can, but I wasn’t always this way. It has been in the last five years or so that I have found my voice and have come to educate myself on such topics as: Healthcare for all, women’s reproductive rights, the Supreme Court, our country’s diplomatic ties to China, and the LGBTQQIA+ community, of which I consider myself part of (Heeeyyy girl heeeeeyyyy! 😉 But I’m happily married, sorry for your luck.) And now that I have my voice, well, I don’t plan on shutting up anytime soon. Which leads me to memes that have been floating around my Facebook feed for a few months now. Some of them are photos with words over them, some of them are ugly paintings, some of them are pics of celebrities who apparently say negative things about people in the LGBTQQIA+ community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and asexual, for those of you who do not know). Here is one example:
I know why many of my friends are sharing this one. They think it’s funny. In fact, it gets tons of likes and laughs and people comment things like, Now that is funny right there! and Truth! I don’t even know what a girl even looks like now (actual comments from FB). But the thing they all of these memes have in common is: Fear. These memes really stem from your fear. And here is how I came to that conclusion.
Let’s say you are at the grocery store. You want to get in and out. You go in there kinda knowing what you need, but you know you are in a hurry. If you’re like me you wrote a list, then you left the damn list on your desk, so you text your husband to ask what you need and he’s all, There was a list on your desk and you’re all, I forgot it and he’s all, This is why I told you to use your phone like a normal person, do you want me to download that app that has the… and you are like, Shut-up I don’t want to do this right now asshole, do we need bananas or not?! And you don’t, so you skip the fruits and vegetables, because ehh, and head straight for the ice cream. So you grab your 12 items or less and run up to the express lane. You are standing there bouncing up and down, while you juggle the ice cream, pack of discounted pork chops, and butter, while you look in desperation at the cashier to see if they are a fast one who has their shit together (can we just take a moment to thank the fast cashiers, they are amazing). Turns out they are fast and that makes you happy, but then you notice something. Is the cashier wearing a bow tie? That’s not part of the uniform, I mean, the men wear the bow ties, but not the women. But those are boobs under that shirt. And she is wearing lipstick, but her hair is buzzed short. You recognize that it’s about a two on the sides because that one time when you decided to cut your son’s hair the salon had to shave the sides to a two after your hack job. Hmm, you think to yourself, is that a man or a woman?
Now I’m gonna stop you right there and ask this: What difference does it make?
I’m going to go a step further and ask, when would it make a difference, in your actual life, to figure out what the person standing next to you on the train, or the person in the car who passed you, or the new co-worker, or the person cutting your lawn, or your insurance person is male, female, both, or neither? And I really want you to consider this, you guys. Like, when do you honestly feel like it matters to know “what a girl even looks like now”. Does it matter if you are hiring someone to be a server or a cashier or a doctor or an accountant? It shouldn’t, because #EqualPayForEqual work and all. Does it matter when the person has an actual hand in your life, like your hair-stylist, your housekeeper, or your yoga instructor? Honestly, the only time I could think that knowing the sex of someone (who wasn’t going to be a sexual partner), for me, is my gynecologist. Hand to the holy, spiritual universe, I only want a woman rooting around in my vagina every year with that long-ass cotton swab. I don’t even care if my gyno was born a woman, I just need to know that she gets it, when she’s pushing my breasts into weird shapes and I’m looking at the ceiling trying not to make eye contact.
You guys, I have been thinking about this for awhile now. Like, when would it actually, really, fucking matter in your normal, everyday life, to figure out what gender a person identifies as, short of them being someone who you are actually interested in seeing their genitals, because you think they are kinda hot, but you know you only like people with penises? The only people who really want to know if they are talking to a man or a woman are usually people who want to degrade the other sex in some way. Either they want to feel comfortable telling a sexist joke, or they want to offer the woman less money for the same job, or they want someone who is the opposite gender so they can flirt with them, or check them out, or feel superior (talking to dudes here). If you know who you are, and what you like, and you are kind, and try to always live your life that way, and you are solid in your sexuality and your preferences, what difference does it make how the person standing opposite you identifies? Answer: I doesn’t.
And here’s the thing, a lot of you say that. You say, I don’t care what you do or how you live your life, just leave me alone. But you don’t leave them alone. You fight for bathroom bills, and to stop Drag Queens from reading to kids. You share memes like the one above, and far, far worse ones, just to get a laugh from your friends who also say, Doesn’t matter to me if they are Black, white, purple, Gay, straight, whatever, I respect everyone who respects me. But they don’t.
So, why, oh why Wise Missy do we continue to talk about the LGBTQQIA+ community like we do? Why don’t we want trans people in the military, why don’t we want to talk about protecting trans kids, why do we still say shit like, I would rather drown my kids than let them ‘choose’ to be gay? Fear, y’all. It’s pretty straightforward, don’t ya think?
We absolutely fear what we don’t know, what we don’t understand, and in some instances, what we are trying very hard to push down in our own lives. Believe me, I know, I was there. My best friend in high school came out in our junior year, and I immediately stopped hanging with her, something I still regret to this day, and do you know why? Cause I was questioning my sexuality too and I thought if she was out, then people would assume I was a lesbian, and then I’d be labeled and ostrisirzised and I didn’t want that. I was afraid. And so are some of you, and that’s okay. It’s totally okay to be afraid of things you don’t understand. We all are. I am totally and completely terrified of sixth grade math, y’all, and you will find me routinely telling whomever will listen, Fuck 6th grade math! We don’t need that kind of shit in our lives!
But, uhh, yeah, we actually need 6th grade math, I just don’t understand it.
Now listen, we usually always wonder, right? Like in the grocery store scenario I would wonder if it was a man or a woman, or how that person identifies, it’s part of human nature. It’s what we have been taught to do. We wonder about people and that’s okay too. What isn’t okay, is using your fear to belittle, berate, harm, or otherwise oppress actual human-fucking-beings because the way they dress, or the way they talk, or whose genitals they like to touch, makes you feel uncomfortable. That’s gross, y’all. Stop it. Keep the wondering to yourself.
Now I know I have totally dumbed down this very complex topic, and let me just apologize to the LGBTQQIA+ community for the injustice I have done here. But please know that my goal is to actually make people think before they share shit like this. Think about the person on the other side of the check-out line, or the train, or the counter. Think for a second how it would feel to constantly feel like you don’t belong in your own body, then have to go out and feel like you also don’t belong in your own world. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Ask questions to those who are living through it, who are striving and thriving. Ask questions to educate yourself, to quell the fear that runs under the surface. Ask questions and stop judging. Those two things can save us all a lot of time, and when we are talking about the LGBTQQIA+ community, it can also save lives.
Be kind, y’all.
Several months ago Jerimiah was told by his company that his role was changing and he would likely not be in the Charlotte area anymore. In reality, it was much more harsh, and he was forced to make his own destiny, in a sense, by filtering out areas in the US that we did not want to go. They wanted him, for example, to go a few places we have visited, but did not think would fit us. Think: Jefferson City, MO; Louisville, KY; Richmond, VA; The Middle of Nowhere, Mass; etc, etc. In short the list was scary. Then Atlanta reached out to him. Now mind you, the last time we visited Atlanta, GA, as we hit I-85 to head home, we looked at each other and said, out loud for the whole damn universe to hear, We are never going back to Atlanta. So yeah, we fucked ourselves royally. In two weeks we are moving to Atlanta, Georgia.
Now at first, at first, I was skeptical at best. I mean the reasons we didn’t like Atlanta are the reasons most people don’t like Atlanta. It’s crowded, it’s a bit run-down, it’s an urban city, sure, but it is smack-dab in the middle of one of those southern states. You know what I mean, the conservative ones. They just passed a Heartbeat Bill, for Baby Jebus’ sake. It is a place we were desperately trying to stay away from. And did I mention the traffic? The aggressive drivers? The homeless who have a penchant for lighting overpasses on fire? Then there are the ‘burbs. Buckhead comes to mind, because, well, that’s one nice place, that we could absolutely not afford to live in. And that is by design. There is intense, intense socio-economic segregation in and around the ATL. Intense.
But then friends came to our rescue. People who know people who know people who live in and around Atlanta. Decatur. Tucker. Smyrna. Marietta. Dunwoody. We started to feel better, though we suspect our friends were so eager to help because well, it wasn’t THEM moving to Atlanta. A sense of relief comes with learning you won’t, in fact, be moving to Atlanta, just visiting.
We were able to find a house, a cute, little ditty in one of those adorable ‘burbs (even though we know we are not ‘burb people, it feels like the best place to go before we get to know the city a bit better). We found the house. The company is moving us. We have all the paperwork signed. The forms faxed to the new school. The utilities on. The landscaper on deck. We found the nearest pool. We have signed up for events in the community. In a phrase, we are ready. Even though it doesn’t matter much if we are ready or not, it is coming.
As of April 1, 2019, we will be Georgia residents. No longer North Carolina residents. Not Missouri residents. Not Kansas residents. But Georgia residents. A residency that we didn’t necessary want, but one that we are getting, and well, we will make the best of it, because that is what we do. It is what we have always done. You can’t go forth in prosperity and happiness any other way. So, if you are so inclined, please wish us luck, and health, and happiness in this new adventure! And we will do the same for you!
In a quiet suburban home on a cul-de-sac, with a Subaru and a Honda Odyssey in the drive, seven girls cram into an upstairs guest bathroom. The walls are covered in a floral pattern, there are tooth brushes lining the sink, there is mold, unbeknownst to the home owners, growing beneath. Six of those girls jump into the bathtub and pull the shower curtain to hide their faces. They are shaking with nerves, but relieved they are not the girl who has to stand next to the light switch, for her role is much more dangerous. The girl by the light switch moves her hand slowly toward the switch and asks the group if they are ready. One girl squeals. One says she changed her mind and wants out. The others quickly grab her, pushing her deeper into the middle of Nike shorts and pink training bras, to be frozen at a later, undisclosed time. The bathroom goes dark. One girl channels some courage and she starts, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…
None of the girls know who Bloody Mary is. They’ve heard stories. Bloody Mary was a young girl who killed her parents. She was a teenager who lost a baby. She may or may not be Mary I, Queen of England, a matronly, forty-ish woman with stringy hair and zero fashion sense. Either way, Bloody Mary wants them. She needs them. She uses her fingernails to scratch their faces until they die. Bloody Mary wants, they think, to slowly kill them as to bathe in their virgin blood in the moon of a Saturday night.
Bloody Mary’s vengeful spirit only comes if you chant her name thirteen times. She only comes when summoned. And only pre-teen girls at a suburban slumber party can summon her. Only pre-teen suburban girls know that after the thirteenth time her name is said, red dots appear on the bathroom mirror. The dots mean she is with them. The dots mean they have done it.
Once, in my own bathroom, we summoned her. I reluctantly climbed into my own shower, pulled the curtain and watched my friends’ faces quickly disappear with a flip of the switch. Then, as if by intuition, we began to chant: Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary… I thought about stopping it. I just knew it wouldn’t be true. I knew there would be no dots on the mirror, that the legend was a myth. One of my friends grabbed my sweaty hand. I tensed up.
Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…
The chanting speed leveled, but the excitement in our bodies raised our voices. We started to slowly rock back and forth, our bodies bumping in the tub, swaying back and forth with each Bloody and Mary. Maybe my mom would hear us and open the door. Maybe she would come in and save us, and say that this was ridiculous, and that there was no Bloody Mary, and that we needed to quiet down because it was nearly midnight. I listened for her footsteps, but the hallway was silent.
Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…
Feet inching toward the edge of the tub, hands to the shower curtain in anticipation. Sweaty hands and heads. Hot cotton candy, popcorn breathe sucked in hard. In just a moment we would be face to face with the frightening demon-woman who wanted to mutilate our faces in the name of her dead babies, or her Catholic sister, or her horrible parents. One more time and the truth would rise.
The light flipped on, the curtain splayed open, and there on the mirror, thirteen red dots of all shapes and sizes. We had released the deathly spirit! It took but three seconds for the gravity of the situation to set in. We sprang from the tub, feet over shins, shins over thighs, thighs pushing arms. One girl yelped in pain, another pulled herself over the threshold, as she’d been knocked to the floor. We ran down the hall, into the cool air of the open, well-lit living room. The words were nonsensical. There was crying. My mother stepped in the room, horror on her face, what had happened, who was hurt?!
Then, as quickly as she had come, she had left. Bloody Mary was gone, we had not a scratch on us. We knew because the girl who flipped the light switch, God bless her, had said so. We were safe. Bloody Mary had went on to torment the next house, in the next suburb, in the next cul-de-sac, in the next guest bathroom full of pre-teen girls, squirming and squealing in the anticipation of the summoning.
We are renters. Meaning we choose to rent our houses, rather than buy our houses. Call us what you will: Rotten Millennials, Killers of the American Dream, Bad Economists, Stupid. Whatever, doesn’t hurt our feelings. We don’t mind paying a premium for a house in a neighborhood we couldn’t otherwise afford, that allows us to send our son to a top-tier school. We don’t mind paying a premium to live in a house with a pool, or a house with one of those fancy refrigerators that talks. Because we value things that might be different than what others value, or (gasp!) that might be different than the values of our parent’s generation. One of the things we value is proximity to “cool shit”. Cool shit here being, museums, festivals, children’s libraries, theater performances, amusement parks, easy and quick access to both major highways and a large, international airport for easy traveling, etc, etc.Continue reading
I’ve been dreaming about my grandfather, as of late. This is odd. I don’t normally dream of dead relatives. In fact, I don’t think I ever have. Usually my dreams are all related to my day-to-day life. If I have spent the afternoon with a particular friend, say, then I may dream about them that night. Maybe it is just a recap of what we did, or maybe that friend and I are hunting an alligator, because my dreams don’t always make sense. But my grandfather, this is new, and stress related, I think.
Normally my stress dreams take me back to my serving days. I will dream, for instance, that I am back working at Ruby Tuesday. It is a Friday night, we are short-staffed, and there is a line of guests out the door. I am assigned to “The Pit” and am triple or quadruple seated. I can’t find a pen, so I am taking orders by memory. I have one over-cooked steak, three wrong drinks, two people yelling at me, and no one can run my food that is dying in the window. The hostess just keeps seating my section. I put in a large order for cheese fries and am told that we are out of French fries. Out of French fries?! How is that possible?! Then I wake up sweaty and cold. Yelling something to the manager, who barely knows how to do my job, and slapping my husband’s arm because I think he is the soda machine and it’s sticking again. Oh, stress.
But the dreams about my grandfathers are different.Continue reading
That word has been on my mind. Tattered. But not in the sense that you think. I haven’t been thinking of tattered clothes; worn out socks, hip jeans made to look abused. I’ve been thinking of what a tattered person looks like. A tattered life. A tattered mind. A tattered soul. The OED says tatter is from Middle English, slashed scraps of cloth. Being in poor condition. Yeah, I feel that some days.
I struggle with mental health issues. I have been diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety. I take pills to cope. I reject common ways of decompressing my stress. I don’t work out when I’m having a panic attack, or do yoga, even though I know it helps. I don’t meditate or focus on my breath. I don’t count to ten or repeat a word over and over until the feeling goes away.
I eat. I cry. I hide in my bathroom, or under my blankets, or in the closet with the door closed until the feeling of panic, willed by brain receptors not firing correctly, passes. If I’m in the car, I turn the radio up loud and I sing, oblivious to anyone watching. If I’m somewhere with people, in a situation I can’t get out of, I shut down. Unless there is wine, then I drink.
I’ve learned these coping mechanisms through trial and error, because these problems aren’t new. I don’t read self-help books. I feel a stigma with doing that. I don’t routinely visit a therapist, I always feel worse when I’m there. I don’t even take some of my medicine regularly. I almost forget it’s there when I really need it. In short, I have some work to do, but it’s on me. And that’s the problem.
I have no problem putting others’ needs in front of my own. My son is P1. I worry about his health, his sleep, his school work, his friends. I worry that he’s getting a cough. I worry about his mental health. Then there’s my husband. Is he happy or just content? I worry about my dog. Why does he bark that way? Does he need outside? Should I take him to the vet for this behavior? Then there’s my mom. My family. My friends. Then, there’s me. By the time I get down to me I shrug and say, “I’ll be alright.” Cause, I will. I always have been. But even as I say this, I know this way of thinking takes a toll.
It has taken a toll, on a lot of us.
The curious thing is, back before I was a mommy, way back, before I was even a wife, just loosely hanging on as an “adult” I never worried about any of this. I never worried about worrying about myself. Even when myself was all I really had to worry over. God, that doesn’t make sense, I know. In more ways than one, but that’s the best way I can say it. Back when I could focus on myself, and not feel guilty about it, I didn’t know enough to know that my mental health was abnormal. I’ve always been this way, I thought this was normal. Then I started to meet people who didn’t wake up crying at 2 am because they realized death was inevitable and how could I actually stop feeling this weight press down on my chest?! And I was like, hmpf, that’s weird.
I dunno. I guess I am having a down day today. We all do sometimes. And then it all sort of adds up. So consider this mindless chatter, this relentless cloud of sadness that sort of hangs around me. Consider it, I don’t know, a reminder. Check in on your people. Call your mom. Send a handwritten card to someone you care about. If you feel up to it. But try to put your feelings and emotions and mental health first for a change. Then see how the rest falls around you. I hear if you can master it, it is remarkable. Meanwhile, put on some new sweatpants. Take a shower. Wash your hair and don’t blow dry it. Get out of the tattered place and back into the sunshine.
Today I was listening to Cory Booker, the U.S. Senator from New Jersey, who is one of 788 people campaiging for a Democratic presidential bid in 2020. For the most part he speaks with clarity, and he has a little of that Barack Obama confidence. Don’t misread this, he isn’t getting my vote in the primary, but I was trying to hear what he had to say. Then he said this, “When I was little my parents used to tell me to shoot for the moon, and even if I miss I would be high in the sky.” I cringed. First of all, that’s not the right quote. Did your parents just not know the right quote, or were you just trying to pull out some oft-recycled inspirational quote to end your speech and you stumbled a bit? I’m going with the latter, and that disturbs me for a lot of reasons, but none that are important enough to articulate here. I realized, however, that there were/are probably some people who shook their heads and said, “Yes, yes, Cory Booker! Fly high!” Both because they love him and because they too, believe in that sentiment, and more than likely find solace in inspirational quotes like that. We all do sometimes, right?
Then I started to think of the quotes that we rely on, and I started to wonder if there are good ones and bad ones. My short answer: Of course there are. So I have compiled a list of some that make me groan when I hear them and some that I live my life by. I am sure our lists are different, but this is my list. Let’s start first with Cory Booker’s favorite.
Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Listen, I’m no scientist, but there seems to be a lot of logistics to consider with this one. Like, are you in a rocket ship? Or are you just jumping up really high? Cause, uh, gravity? I mean, I get what is trying to be conveyed here, and honestly people like it so much because the message is very clear: If you try, you won’t regret it. There certainly are a lot of ones like this one, and this just isn’t my favorite. It is important to note that I am from Kansas. Born and raised. And our state motto is: Ad astra per aspera (to the stars through difficulty). Which is sort of a different spin on exactly the same thing.
In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.
Nah, I have a ton more regrets than the things I didn’t do. Like that time I opened the wrong door at a house party and caught sight of a gay-man orgy. Men, y’all. Lots of them. If that is your thing, cool. I love you. But it isn’t my thing and I want to delete it from my memory, but you know what they say, “So much penis in one room, stays with you forever.” Just no. To this quote, unless you are a high school basketball coach with a losing record.
Every moment matters!
I’m going to politely disagree. Once when I was so sick with the stomach flu, that I couldn’t do anything but run to the toilet, I decided to meander into the kitchen. I made it as far as the kitchen sink, when suddenly I had to vomit. So I leaned over the sink and let it all out. At some point, as I was blowing stomach acid up through my esophagus, I realized that I was also shitting my pants. But you know, I couldn’t stop doing either. So, umm, me thinks not every moment matters.
She believed she could, so she did.
Biggest problem with this one is the pronoun. She can’t just believe it and then do it, there are way more steps for her. First, she has to push all the nonsense out of her brain from her childhood like (Girls can’t run and you should only want to be a mom or a princess). If she is able to do that, then she has to work three times harder than he does, then she gets trampled on repeatedly. She then has to reject unwanted advances that promise her success in exchange for sexual favors. Then she has to put her personal life on hold to completely give herself to the work in exchange for 80 cents on the dollar of what he is paid. Then she has to take breaks so she can have the babies, then she has to go at it all again, but this time she has to start back at the beginning again, only now she is also the one responsible for the house, the kids, and getting her career or passions back on track. Y’all, it’s exhausting. We need better quotes for our girls.
Don’t take life too seriously, you won’t make it out alive.
Really? That’s the best we got here? How about real conversations about mortality to curb some of the existential fucking dread some of us live day in and day out with. Also, if you don’t take life a little seriously you will die way before you should.
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Incorrect. People refuse to do easy stuff everyday. People refuse to return their carts to the cart corral. People refuse to recycle, which y’all, is literally just ordering a second trash can to be placed next to your current trash can and then throwing some things in that one. It is learning the difference between blue and green trash cans. People refuse to learn the difference between their, there, and they’re. People hire someone to clean their baseboards. People don’t put coats on their kids when it is 30 degrees outside. People don’t just do things that are easy. They really, really have to want to do it and there usually has to be a motivation. Monetary motivation works the best.
Difficult roads, often lead to beautiful destinations.
Oh, okay, some of y’all never been to the Ozarks and it shows. Sometimes difficult roads lead to meth houses, with large, round burn marks in the lawn and tin foil on all the windows. Sometimes the pit bull hops the fence and chases your ass back up that difficult road. And since you can’t run, you have to just throw yourself back down the difficult road and roll. Tuck and roll, bitches. Sometimes you roll into the woods and the dog gives up. Sometimes you hit your head on a rock and wake up ten hours later at the hospital, where the doctor accuses you of trying to get “Oxytocin”, and turns you out on the street with a bandage on your head and a fresh rabies shot. Not all roads are that difficult, but they for sure are not all that beautiful either.
The best revenge is success.
The best revenge for who? Now listen, I am not a big fan of revenge. I am more a fan of forgiveness. But, there are some instances where a strongly-worded email will just not do it. But if someone says we can’t do something, and we do it just to avenge our names, have we put energy into something that we really didn’t need to, just in order to make the other person go, “Oh, hum, look at that. They could do it.” Cause honestly that is usually the response. No one cares, dude. You are not that important. That is like when I go, “Oh this person hates me! Waaaaa!” Chances are they don’t hate me. Because in order for someone to hate you, they have to care enough about you to form an opinion. Christ, get over yourself, Missy.
Go big or go home.
Going home, every single time, y’all. Every. Single. Time. I like home. Home is safe and if I go big people look at me and I don’t like people to look at me. Unless it is from a distant and I am in heels.
Who said life is fair?
I like this best when the generation before us asks us that. Like when our parents generation is all, “Who said life was fair, you damn millennials?!” I like it then because YOU SAID IT YOU ASSHOLES! You raised us this way! You can’t have it both ways. You can’t tell us we can be and do anything we want, then when we quit law school to become an abstract artist you can’t be all, “Hey wait. You can’t do that!” YOU SAID WE COULD!
It’s not all bad, y’all. In fact, there are still some quotes that I live my life by. I’m sure some people could find fault with these, but that’s okay, they always have my back!
Snitches get stitches.
Don’t be dumb.
Just because you are offended, does not mean you are right.
Onward and upward.
Bigger the risk, bigger the reward.
I also live by the words of Joan Didion and the original Maria on Sesame Street.
Listen, I am not gonna lie, this was a trip of a lifetime, for a lot of reasons. But should I, a 29-year-old mommy, have gone balls to the wall at Mardi Gras? No. Yes. Maybe. I’m not sure. Seems like I may have had more fun had I been 21, single, without child, and totally okay with drug-fueled sex in a dark alleyway. And since there has never been a point in my life where I was cool with that, I’d say no. Probably not. Now I do want to take a moment to say that I am fully aware that this is not everyone’s experience at Mardi Gras. I even know that in New Orleans, Mardi Gras can be, and routinely is, a family affair. Especially for the Cajun and Creole people. What my friends and I did was 100%, young, white-people, tourist Mardi Gras, and I am glad that I did it, one time. I will never do it again. Though I am currently planning a family trip to New Orleans for later this year, and I am so unbelievably psyched about it because that city is beautiful and magnificent and full of history. Now, having said all of that, and properly apologizing to my Louisiana kith and kin (I am so sorry, y’all), let me tell you about the dumbest thing I did in New Orleans.
As I mentioned in Part Deux, the group did a history tour while we were there and Melody, Kasey, and I were smitten with what we learned. Some of what we learned about was the voodoo that surrounds the city and its people. Because of this, we made a point of visiting Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 before leaving town on the last day. We picked this cemetery for a specific reason. It was the best known cemetery in a place of known cemeteries and it was supposedly the final resting place of Marie Laveau, the infamous voodoo priestess. Fun fact, Marie Laveau and I share the same birthday, September 10th. I used to think that was cool.
Anyway, the cemetery itself, on the north side of Basin Street, was a lovely testament to those buried there. Considering we knew by then how some of the New Orleans dead were treated, this seemed to be quite nice. There were some remarkable above-ground vaults and very detailed workmanship on many of the crypts. We took a few snapshots of the different tombs and then quickly made our way to Marie Laveau’s final resting spot.
Legend predicates that you must not touch Marie Laveau’s tomb, rightly so, UNLESS you leave a sacrifice, or she will make your life a living hell. Well, I did not know this at the time. I saw the many trinkets left around the tomb, but paid little mind to them. I had been so caught up with her life, from recently reading about her, that I was eager to just see where she was supposedly resting. I say supposedly because whether or not her remains are in there is constantly disputed. Either way, when I saw it I sort of lost my shit and went right up to it and touched it. And that is when shit hit the fan.
It sort of gives me the chills thinking about it now. I feel like I am being watched as I type this, and you guys, I am not “into” this sort of thing. But what I did that day, and the events that transpired over the next year, while most likely, probably, coincidental, serve as a reminder that you should never mess with the dark arts and to this day my plan is to go back to their tombs and place sacrifices on both of them in an attempt to make right my wrongdoings. To show respect. To say I am so very sorry to these two amazing women.
This all happened at the end of February 2011. 2011 turned out to be the worst year of my whole life for a number of reasons, ones I won’t explain here, because well, some of it is just too unbelievable. And I know, I know, most of you are all, Christ, Missy! None of that had anything to do with touching a VooDoo Queen’s tomb and not leaving a sacrifice, but I mean, do we know that for sure? No. No we don’t.
Look it, if you have made it to the end of this series of unfortunate events, bless you child. This has been one bumpy ride and I wrote this strictly for myself and my best friends. A ride down memory lane never hurt anyone, not physically anyway. I do, eight years later, look back at this trip so fondly. I look at my friends, at my MIL, at the rag-tag team of weirdos and I smile. I am glad I did it with them. Glad I lived through a once-in-a-lifetime experience with ladies who know how to take a joke. Know how to laugh at themselves. Know how to have fun, and be sad, and learn, and trust the collective. I am grateful for a husband and son who don’t mind if I run off from time to time with my girls. Who trust I always come home alive and disease-free. I learned a lot on this trip. A lot about people and a lot about myself, which may seem like a lot to put on a silly girls trip to Mardi Gras, but nah, it isn’t.
I also learned about the city of New Orleans. New Orleans is a fickle lady. She’s electric, but she’s gloomy. She is fast, she is slow. She will show you a good time, sometimes at a price. She will fill your mind with things you didn’t know possible, then she will burden you with doubt. She will give you a collection of ugly memories. She will offer up her own kind of repentance. She will make you tingly all over. She will lift you way, way up. And if you let her, she will pull you way, way down. New Orleans is the woman you didn’t know you needed, at a time you didn’t know you needed her. And I love her. And I am afraid of her. And I miss her terribly. And I want her. And on a good day, I plan to see her again. And on a bad day, I wish I never had.
Thanks for going on this ride, y’all.
Hey you guys! Today I was trying to figure out why Snoopy, the CMPD Patrol Helicopter, AKA my best friend, was out and about in my hood. Then I realized that you guys might not know about Snoopy! So here is a little introduction to Snoop and how we came to know and love and mutually respect one another. Also, there might be someone living in my house that will pop out any second and murder me. No big deal.
Whew! What a grand adventure we have been on, y’all! And it is already Ash Wednesday! So, Happy Ash Wednesday! And if you are not up to speed, scroll on down this page, as this is part three of a four part series devoted to my one and only time at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Trust me, as soon as I get to Bitch Slap, you’re gonna wish you were up to speed. Speaking of, maybe we just start there? Nah, we will save him for last. Let’s start with the beads.
The third night of Mardi Gras was spent walking down Bourbon with two of my best friends, Melody and Kasey, while successfully avoiding being vomited on, being groped by drunk men, being propositioned by prostitutes, and avoiding the other half of our traveling party. We were successful, for the most part. Melody got a hankering for beads that night, and well, she collected them the good, old-fashioned way. There’s probably a video compilation on YouTube called: Drunk College Girls at Mardi Gras 2011, and Melody is for sure in the reel. Here was her haul from one night.
Kasey and I, on the other hand, realized you could also get beads by asking, Hey, can I have some of your beads? People are so drunk they are like, Hellz yeah you can, sweet thang! Take my beads! And then it rains beads! We didn’t tell Melody.
The three of us got separated for a short moment amid the sea of people. And trust me, it is a sea of people. So much in fact, that with each passing block a new wave joins in and it isn’t long before you realize that you are walking super fast, or maybe super slow, depending on the crowd and the amount of collective alcohol consumed. We connected rather quickly, to find that Melody had amassed even more beads, we didn’t ask. But Kasey and I did pose with the kick-ass horse cops.
This was right before we were looking for them because someone legit tried to steal my camera off of Melody’s neck. Like, we were walking and a dude came up, walking the other direction and grabbed the lens and tried to rip the camera off Melody’s neck. She instinctively grabbed it and shoved him and he kept walking. It happened in one swift second. It really just came in with the wave, then back out again. We should have known then to protect our valuable items better, but nah…
Once we were safely back at the hotel, we decided to throw some beads ourselves. The Crown Plaza had an excellent balcony and we had one section of it all to ourselves. The other part of our group got back, all a bit drunk, and we enjoyed Mardi Gras for the first time from on high.
This is where we decide that the next night, the last night of our trip, was going to be balls to the wall amazing! We were amped up to head back to the bead store and LOAD up, and then stay on our balcony the last night and really get into the throwing of beads, cause damn it was fun. Something about watching people act a total fool in exchange for plastic beads is just the bees knees. But trust, you don’t have to go to Mardi Gras to do it.
So the next day we woke up AMPED, y’all! We had breakfast, then hit the day hard. We split up again, this time the girls wanted to do some shopping and Melody, Kasey, and I had only one plan: Tattoos! Shit yeah! #OhToBeYoungAgain
We Googled: Best Tattoo Parlor in New Orleans and got no less than 45 hits. We settled on one called, Electric Ladyland, because, uhh, what a great name. Not only is it a Jimi Hendrix album title, but hello, we FELT, way deep down in our souls that we were in Electric. Lady. Land. Plus they were open noon to midnight so it fit our sched.
Now up until this point I only had one tattoo. An apple. On my thigh. That my best friend’s husband gave me in a tattered tattoo chair in their basement ten years before. So, I was a bit inexperienced. Melody and Kasey, though, they are tatted up and they have been together and I was excited to be part of the team. Up until I walked through the door at Electric Ladyland Tattoo.
Listen, no one told me that sometimes tattoo artists kind of, uhh, shake a little when they talk. Like the guy, whose name I have been trying to remember, but I just can’t, like was shaking. His whole body sort of hummed. The whole process took about thirty minutes, they were really not very busy for some reason, and I told him what I wanted, my son’s name on my foot, with a sort of different font. Not really a child’s writing, but also not like Gothic. He drew it up and I loved it immediately. But I could not stop wondering how it would turn out considering he shook so violently the whole time he was drawing that at one point I felt compelled to steady the table for him.
Melody was already in a chair getting music notes behind her ears, on her actual fucking head, when I sat down. Kasey had chickened out last minute, either because she hates me, or because she assessed the situation pretty quickly. Still not sure to this day, but Melody was pissed. I had mad respect for her though. I was just about to go join her when the gun started up and he attacked my foot. It was over before it felt like he finished and I was all set up. My son’s name looked exactly like he had drawn, exactly how I had envisioned. Dude asked if I liked it, as his whole upper body sort of seized up in the shakes. I smiled my reply, and he gave me a solid with metal fingers. Weird ass stuff man. Weird ass stuff Electric Ladyland. Weird ass stuff. Afterward we walked down to a little seafood joint with bars on the windows and I had the best Po’boy, fried okra, and collard greens ever. Then we made our way back to our hotel to watch some of the parade.
When we got back to the hotel we were met by MIL and the rag-tag team of weirdos who were all a little mad that we went and got tattoos without them. We explained that we told them that was the plan for that day and they should have come with us, rather than hitting up Walmart… again. The dust settled and we went to the rooftop lounge to watch the longest parade I have every witnessed. Long, y’all. Like somebody coulda warned a bitch long.
At some point, fueled by her lingering anger at Kasey for not partaking at the tattoo shop, Melody reached out in front of Kasey and grabbed some wicked-cool beads not just from Kasey, but also from, if I remember correctly, a small child. Or maybe an elderly woman. Either way, we were like, Mel, dude. And she stormed off angry, but still clutching her sweet-ass beads. This angered Kasey, who sort of left the group for a bit, we assume to drank some purple drank and have sex with an unknown man, but we can’t be sure. Ho hum.
As the sun went down, we decided to get ready for a night of bead throwing. We decided that we were just gonna wear pajamas. It wasn’t like we were leaving the hotel, and they were comfy and we had feathered boas, so it was a win-win.
Speaking of win-wins! That was the night we walked into the weirdos room and got to see Pasty-girl swing her tassels. Some of y’all have never stood three inches from a woman who has tassels hanging from her nipples as she spins them for your enjoyment, and it shows. THEN, as if the Mardi Gras Queen herself hadn’t bestowed enough wishes on us, Titty-Tina, who by then trusted us (on account of Melody’s bead collection) informed us that they were headed out to meet up with Bitch Slap and she was bringing him back to the hotel! Fucking score! We were finally gonna meet Bitch Slap! We were high on life, y’all. And homemade Purple Drank!
Like most fun, exciting nights of drinking with your best friends, in your pajamas, at a swanky-ass hotel in New Orleans in your twenties, shit went south quickly.
As soon as we stepped on the balcony, we attracted some freaks. Maybe it was that we had very little make-up on, or maybe it was the fact that Kasey was sort of exuding touch my boobs vibes, or maybe it was the feathered boas, but we had some man-boys on us like Bitch-Slap on a $5 lap dance at da club. At one point I was batting man-boys away while I was trying to text my lovely, trusting, adorable husband at home. Melody was drunk texting that guy in Arizona whose name I think was Dutch, but it could also be Sweden, and I looked over to see Kasey, her homemade Purple Drank on the ground, beads around her neck, and a little Latino man with his hands directly on her boobs. They were rubbing and grinding and like two good friends, Melody and I looked at each other, then ran inside to get away from that mess.
In the hallway off the balcony we were contemplating our next move, when we heard the roaring laughter of Titty-Tina and the entourage coming up the escalator. And there he was. Shining like the Cash Money sign on his neck, the man, the myth, the legend: Bitch Slap! Bitch Slap in da Houzzz I screamed at I ran toward him like we were old college drinking buds. He appreciated the love and Bitch Slap and I spent the better part of the next hour watching Kasey getting felt up by three generations of Latinos while we discussed his sweet ass 1973 El Camino that he promised to take me for a ride in.
At some point Melody snuck away to call Sweden and I decided to cut my talk with Bitch Slap short. He half-heartedly asked me if he should accompany me on my search for Melody and when I declined, he casually invited me to have sex with Titty-Tina and him later that night. Then he told me his room number and said to knock three times. And with a wink of his tattooed eye lid, he was gone. I looked at Kasey, who was sort of topless, but seemed to be enjoying herself, and I started for the hotel room.
I found Melody holed up in a hotel bathroom, trying to find a plug-in for her phone. I told her that we should just go take the phone to the room to charge and fill up our drinks. On the way up I explained my proposition and she quickly decided that we would wait until about 2 am, then run up to the door, knock three times, then quietly disappear, unlike the STD I was bound get if I took the lovely couple up on their offer. After we plugged her phone in and refilled, she asked if she could use my phone on the way down to call Sweden to tell him goodnight. Or something. Honestly, I’m not sure, but she ended up with my iPhone, which is intregal to the story.
Right off the elevator we ran into the group of Latinos man-boys, who were being rowdy and speaking Spanish very loudly. So Melody, being from Arizona, tried to say she knew what they were saying. This attracted them to us, and a man-boy came up to us with a smile and grabbed my boob. I wasn’t wearing a bra, because pajamas, so this utterly grossed me out. I had never had a stranger just touch me in that way, and I stopped dead in my tracks. In hindsight, I should have called it a night then. But instead I went out to check on Kasey, who was now with the rest of the crew living it up Mardi Gras style, having told the man-boys to take a hike.
By the time I went back inside Melody was sitting in a chair by the second balcony. The one the man-boys had made their way to. She got up when she saw me and suggested we try to go throw some beads, so we joined the group. I had already called Jerimiah to tell him about the boob grab and he was furious and I was a little grossed out and sad. Melody was sort of over the whole bead throwing, so we decided to call it a night. That’s when I figured I would call Jerimiah back and tell him goodnight. That is also when I realized I didn’t have my phone. That is also when I realized Melody had it on that chair, so we went over to the chair.
One of the man-boys was sitting in the chair. He looked either asleep or dead. In hindsight, I’d guess he was pretending so we didn’t bother him. We did a lap around the floor and when we came back he was gone and so was my phone. We ran up to call Jerimiah on Melody’s phone. He pinged my phone and said it was on the balcony of the hotel. So we went back. He was giving us directions to the man-boys balcony, so we went out. They were all standing there laughing when we walked out. I walked up to the oldest looking one and told him to give me my phone back. He pretended that he didn’t speak English, so I went downstairs to the hotel security.
By this time we had attracted attention and some of the man-boys dispersed. But the oldest one was still there when we came back with security and I told them my husband said it was around where we were. The security guard asked if they had a phone and suggested giving it back, least charges would be filed. They laughed and called us crazy girls. The security guard took me inside and explained there was really nothing they could do about it, so I didn’t have proof. So that was that.
Then Melody and I made sure Kasey was with the group, then we went upstairs and ordered the most expensive chicken wings I have ever had, and went to sleep. Bleh. Mardi Gras.
I didn’t even get my three knocks…
Mardi Gras literally translates to Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is a day to indulge in all the things you intend to give up for Lent. It is called Fat Tuesday because on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday you are expected to indulge. Cakes, and breads, rich meats and sauces. Items that many will give up in preparation for Easter, which comes exactly six weeks later. Fat Tuesday is positioned right after Carnival and right before Lent. The purpose of Lent is to prepare for Easter through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial. The purpose of Carnival, is to drink as many Hand Grenades as you can, while you drunk-hobble down Bourbon Street, your boobs hanging freely, and people pelt you with strings of 25 cent beads while you scream, “Shit yeah, Mardi Gras is awesome cock-suckers!” I think.
Listen, this is Part Deux, in what is shaping up to be a four part series, of my one and only trip to Mardi Gras back in February 2011 with my Mother-in-Law, two of my best friends, and a rag tag team of weirdos who had never left southeast Kansas. To get up to speed Imma need you to check this out first: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/03/01/corner-of-bourbon-and-canal/ I think it would be best so you are aware of all the, uhh, specifics before you jump right into this one. But, if you are so inclined to start here, well, then I like you. Go for it! Bonne chance!
Now where was I? Oh, yes. Do y’all remember when we were getting out of the car in a hurry at valet because we were being rushed and also because we needed to help MIL unload Peggy’s sweet-ass van, as all the occupants of that van were staring wide-eyed into the streets unable to move? Well then, do you remember that we were quite pleased with ourselves about the speed and accuracy with which we exited our car, with the exception of one thing: Purple nail polish? Yeah, okay.
So the first night, before we got sloshed on Bourbon with a mixture of Hand Grenades and Huge-Ass Beers, we tidied up a bit. Well, Melody and Kasey tidied up a bit. I slapped some more deodorant on and called it good. The girls in the other room took showers, did their hair, the whole nine yards, so we had some time to kill waiting for them. During that time Melody was debating whether or not to ask for the car just so she could get her purple nail polish. Kasey and I were trying to convince her that it was dumb, and just to forget about painting her nails. Then MIL pops in from the bathroom is all I have purple nail polish! Yay! Crisis averted. Melody used the nail polish, then we all left to get totally obliterated.
The next morning went like you would expect. It sucked. We were all hungover, there was no way we wanted to pay for room service to bring us all the best hangover foods, and we didn’t really have a plan for the day, save buying more beads (it became apparent that we were gonna NEED a lot of beads) and getting a tattoo. Yeah, that was a goal for the weekend. Le sigh. We were all a little tired when the weirdos next to us were knocking on the door at what felt like 6:00 am, but was probably closer to 8:00 am. I rolled over to see this:
What happened next was a situation that to this day is called, The Purple Nail Polish Incident and it has varied truths. But this is how I remember it.
Cranky MIL: Melody, where is my purple nail polish?
Cranky Melody: I don’t know, dude.
Cranky MIL: Well you had it last night.
Cranky Melody (elevated tone): I gave it back to you.
Cranky MIL: No you didn’t. That’s the problem. You should have given…
Cranky Melody: OMIGOD, yes I did!
Cranky MIL: Nope. I don’t have it.
Kasey (in a whisper): Dude, get her the purple nail polish.
Me (getting up to start to look for purple nail polish): Where did you have it last?
Cranky Melody: I don’t know when I HANDED IT TO HER!
Cranky MIL: You never HANDED anything to me.
Me (getting side-tracked because I am hungry): Whose bagel is this?
Kasey (standing up to help look): It’s left over from last night.
Cranky MIL: I wish I could paint my nails this morning…
Cranky Melody (throws blankets off her): ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Cranky MIL: You are supposed to return things you borrow…
Cranky Melody: I DID RETURN IT.
Me (biting on a day old bagel): Dude, just get up and look for it.
Cranky Melody: Why don’t we just go to Walmart again today and spend three hours there looking for purple nail polish and other shit we don’t need?!
Cranky MIL: We might have to since I don’t have purple nail polish anymore.
Me (feeling something in my mouth that is not bagel): Melody, get up.
Cranky MIL: It’s fine. I just wish I had my purple nail polish.
Cranky Melody (jumping out of the bed): OH MY GOD! Don’t say PURPLE NAIL POLISH ONE MORE DAMN TIME.
Then Melody walks over to dresser and grabs the purple nail polish as MIL walks out of the bathroom and she hands it to MIL.
Cranky MIL: Thank you.
Cranky Melody: YOU’RE WELCOME.
Me: You guys, this bagel broke my tooth.
Weirdos next door knock again.
Kasey (opens curtains): It’s going to be a good day!
Deep breathes. Yeah, so. I am sure that MIL and Melody have different versions, but you know, this is my blog. And, did we just skate by the fact that I broke my tooth on a bagel? In hindsight, it was more likely the 15 or so Blow Pops I crunched on the drive down, but that hard bagel took it over the edge. So there we all were. Four women. One with a broken tooth. One with purple toes nails, one without. And Kasey. The forever optimist. What happened next can only be explained by the desire to be a united front.
MIL explained to us that the other four weirdos had never been to the beach. Or maybe one had, I can’t exactly remember. The point is, while we all have been to several beaches, in different countries, and different regions, the ladies next door needed a win, so she asked what we thought about driving the hour and a half to Gulfport, Mississippi, all eight of us in Peggy’s sweet-ass van, to show the weirdos the ocean. We all looked at each other when she used the word ocean. Well, okay, she corrected. The Gulf Coast. Melody, Kasey, and I looked at each other. Their make-up still smudged from the night before, circles under our eyes, me holding my tooth, and we nodded in agreement. Let’s give them a thrill.
You know what they say, “Girl, your brown eyes sparkle like the Gulf Coast waters!” Just a reminder that this was less than a year after the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast of Mexico. So there was literal oil to be unearthed on the beach. We know cause we found it. Only we didn’t scream OIL! and call the Clampetts. We sort of, uhh, ignored it. Then jumped in for a swim. Eek. The photo below was captured by a stranger on the random beach we stopped at in Gulfport.
Two hours later Kasey, Melody, and I sat in Peggy’s sweet-ass van with Pasty-girl (whose name I was recently reminded was April, but I can’t change it now) while the other ladies spent way too long in yet ANOTHER Walmart. At this point Melody and I were not speaking to each other because she had been texting some dude who lives in Arizona who she didn’t really know and I he was planning to come for a visit, and I was like BAD IDEA Hombre. And she was all, I know what I am doing. I mean she was 25, she obviously didn’t need me telling her how to live her life. So we had spent the ride to this random Walmart somewhere between Mississippi and Louisiana, in the way, way back of the van. Kasey was forced to sit between us, and the three of us sat silently as we listened to Titty Tina offer the body guard services of her ex-boyfriend who lived in NOLA, because he was not, quote, afraid to bitch slap anyone who deserved it. End quote. And that’s how we first learned of Bitch-Slap. And the stifled laughter between the three of us in the way, way back over what we collectively knew would be his name from now until eternity, is what mended the strained friendship.
While the “old girls” went into Walmart, Kasey, Melody, and I stayed in Peggy’s sweet-ass van with Pasty-girl. MIL had taken the keys, so we didn’t have air. Probably because, #PurpleNailPolish, and so we sat with the doors open, sweating in our slightly damp clothes, and listened to Pasty-girl recount all the men she’d slept with. One of her conquests ended up being a family member of mine, uhh, by marriage. And we all nodded our head in agreement, cause yeah, that made sense. It wasn’t MIL.
Back in NOLA things took an exciting turn. After the feud ended in the van, someone, ahem, Kasey, came up with a great idea. It was Tammie’s birthday, and she was ready to par-tay! So Kasey, presumably caught up in the excitement of being in the way, way back of Peggy’s sweet-ass van, decided that every time Tammie said, It’s my birthday! of which she said every 20 minutes or so, we were all to scream, Happy Birthday! So as you can imagine, hilarity ensued. Until the crying started at dinnertime.
We had decided to go out to dinner that night at a seafood place called Deanie’s Seafood. It was supposed to be the best seafood in the French Quarter and this was back when, well, we believed claims like that. So we all washed the oil off of us and decided to convene for the walk over to Deanie’s around 5:00 pm. At about 4:45, Tammie knocked on our door to inform us that Janie was crying.
We all walked over to find a distraught Janie. She was upset because everyone else was so fancy, and she wasn’t. She had only packed, I want to say, two pink shirts and some jeans. Sigh. MIL quickly offered up some of her clothes, an offer Janie sort of smirked at, while Melody, Kasey, and I tried to get her to just try one of MIL shirts, they were nice. Then I offered one of mine. Then so on. The girls showed her that they were all wearing jeans, but she said their shirts were fancy too. I explained that my fancy shirt was the same one that I jumped into the Gulf with. Didn’t matter. Then we offered to go look for a fancy shirt for her, but she declined. The crying eventually stopped so we all just shrugged and walked to Deanie’s. I dunno.
Listen. Dinner was a mess, y’all. I ordered shrimp, but it had all the tentacles and what not on it, so MIL had to peel them for me because I can’t with that shit. Then Janie asked her to accompany her to the bathroom at some point. If I was the Mommy of Kasey, Mel, and me, then MIL was the Mommy of the weirdos (and sometimes us) and it was starting to weigh on her. But at least every time Tammie said, It’s my birthday! We all screamed in unison, Happy Birthday! At least.
After dinner we had reservations for a walking Haunted History Tour, which was ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY the BEST part of the trip! If y’all have the opportunity to do a walking history tour in NOLA, do it! At one point Melody, Kasey, and I had to separate from the weirdos and go to the back of the tour because we were so engrossed in the history and the stories that we wanted to listen, not drink and scream Happy Birthday! We were shunned. Let’s just say that. But yeah, worth it.
Birthday girl was a little drunk after the tour, so we tried to sober her up with a trip to Cafe Du Monde.
At this point the stories diverge. We decided that we wanted to go a chill bar and listen to some of that New Orleans Jazz we heard so much about, and well, the crew was having none of that, so we went our separate ways. I can’t tell you what they did, but I think it had to do with dancing on bars (sans MIL and Janie) and karaoke, and probably shots. But Kasey, Melody, and I went for a walk along the river, then settled into a cool little jazz spot that had outdoor seating. We had the pleasure of enjoying a muffuletta while we listened to a cool, little jazz quartet for an hour or so, before we headed back to the hotel. I have no pics from that time because, well, that is how chill and relaxing and nice it was. The calm, if you will, before the storm.
If you are still reading this, bless your heart. (That is what people say to patronize others here in the south.) You are a trooper. Really, you are. But this seems like a good break spot. We have covered quite a bit of ground today, and I left quite a bit out. For your pleasure. Thanks for traveling down memory lane with me. Two parts left. And I promise they won’t be worth it. As a parting gift I have included some more pics of Day Two.
I’ve been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I should really stop there. Save myself from the inevitable torment that comes every single time I recount the story. I get tense, and anxious. I can’t sleep. My body gets achy, like the flu is about to take over. Or maybe it’s just the ghost of Marie Laveau II, who still rightly frightens me. That’s what it is. I am afraid that if I delve into the past, and recount the events that transpired on those four sleepless nights at the end of February in 2011, the ghost of Marie Laveau II will come back into my life, spitting and shrieking, assuring me all the bad things will happen again. But here I am, acting against my better judgment, just like my time spent on the corner of Bourbon Street and Canal many moons ago. This story is so varied, so full of life, so mysterious and wonderful and dreadful and wrong, I would be a disservice to attempt to tell it all at once, so I won’t. I will tell the tale of my time at Mardi Gras in parts, and if you feel like hopping down this dangerous, but ultimately delightfully stinky rabbit hole, then read on. But it’s certainly at your own risk.
I honestly don’t remember how it started. I’m not sure if my friends, Melody and Kasey, suggested we go, or if my mother-in-law decided she would go and invite us along. Someone decided they would go to Mardi Gras that year, and invited the other. My MIL took the reins, being the only person in the group who had ever been to NOLA before. She cashed in some of her hotel points and got us a pimp view at the Crown Plaza Hotel on the corner of Bourbon and Canal Streets. Right in the heart of the French Quarter, a stone’s throw away from Old Man River, and smack dab in the middle of the Carnival action. I think her friend Peggy was supposed to come along, then couldn’t last minute, but my MIL had already secured Peggy’s PIMP minivan, so she decided to invite a few other ladies she knew from her home town. So my MIL (I won’t use her real name to protect the guilty), Janie, Tammie, Pasty-girl, and Titty Tina (I’m using aliases here for a couple of the girls for two reasons. 1. I don’t remember Pasty-girl’s name but she legit wore pasties on her nips one night, and 2. Nah, it’s really just number 1) all hopped in the van in Southeast Kansas and headed south. Mind you, none of these women had ever been to NOLA, and two of the five had never been outside Southeast Kansas (unless you count Joplin, MO and anywhere in Oklahoma, and I don’t.)
Kasey and Melody and I set out from my house in Branson, Missouri on the morning of February 24th. I guess someone watched my kid, cause yeah, I was the only one who had a kid-kid at the time. A toddler, and I would suppose that my husband took the time off work to stay home with him. What a saint that man is. We left on a Thursday, cause why not? We loaded up my VW Passat, which meant I was the only one who could drive, since I was the only one who could drive a manual. Really smart on my part. (I guess maybe I had the safest car of the lot. Eek!) I should take a minute to inform you all that I was 29 years old. So on the FAR, FAR end of the proper age to be going to Mardi Gras. Kasey was closest in age to me at a whopping 26, and Mel was, well, Mel was giving us the gift of her youth at 24. Which left me as the Mommy, Kasey as the annoying big sister, and Melody as the spoiled baby, as it were. Which is why when the first fight happened, somewhere in Arkansas, over whether or not Kasey should have included Dave Matthews Band on the mix cd, I jumped into “Mom” mode and never really recovered. Which made me, well, uncool, and also a bit out of sorts for the rest of the trip. More on that later.
My MIL left a bit before we did from Kansas, and the plan was to meet up somewhere near Memphis several hours later. Remember, she had a van full of women who had barely ventured outside of Kansas, with her being the only exception. She was in the military for many moons and is a worldly-traveler. Which is why it took so long to valet park the cars at the hotel. She had to explain over and over again that it was totally safe, that we would get Peggy’s PIMP van back, and that they needed to be “fast”, like storming the beaches of Normandy fast, and they should have money in hand to tip all the people helping us. They were confounded. It was painful to watch. But, whoa now, I am getting ahead of myself.
We ended up meeting on some sketch-ass back road along the Arkansas/Tennessee line. If you haven’t spent a lot of time on the Arkansas/Tennessee line, you should thank your lucky stars. It’s scary. This is where we were first introduced to the rag-tag team that came with MIL. We pulled into a gas station to see them all crawling out of Peggy’s van. As Melody, Kasey, and I approached the van, one of the doors slid open and a loud and robust woman said, “Y’all gonna show your titties?!” You guessed it, that was Tina. Then we met Tammie, who I already kinda, sorta knew, and then that one girl, then Janie, who looked like all of our grandmas, explained she had never been outside of Columbus, Kansas. Awesome! This is sort of where the regret started to set in.
After a quick stop we were back on the road. We decided to follow Peggy’s Sweet-ass van, since MIL knew where she was going. However, it wasn’t too long before MIL seemed to not know where she was going and Snoop Dogg (we programed my GPS to sound like Snoop Dogg) was all, “Hey Cuz, you missed your turn back there, ya dig?” And I was frantically calling MIL to tell her what Snoop had said. Meanwhile, the chatter in the van was so loud she couldn’t really hear me, and we kept on going that way. In the end it only added thirty minutes or so, but that was a LONG-ASS thirty minutes or so, Cuz.
Our next stop was at a Walmart right outside of NOLA. By this time we were in Creeper Louisiana and everyone we met asked if we were headed down to “M’gra”, I think. I didn’t understand a lot of what was said to me. Everyone seemed drunk and there was so much Mardi Gras merchandise that we lost all our senses. We loaded up gobs and gobs of 25 cent beads, and noise-makers, ribbon, t-shirts, masks, and King Cake. We left Walmart thinking we were prepared for all that was coming.
Below is a pic of the whole crew, minus me, the photographer, at the Walmart gas station somewhere along Lake Pontchartrain after a supercalifragilistically-long trip to a Walmart, where maybe some of the ladies saw Black people for the first time, I can’t be sure.
It wasn’t long before we were pulling up to the Crown Plaza on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. It was late, probably 10 pm or so, and we were dog-ass tired, but seeing the lights of the French Quarter and having eaten fifteen or so Blow Pops on the way, gave us a jolt of excitement that carried us through the next half hour or so of the “check-in” process. First there was the valet parking. If you have been to NOLA, to the French Quarter to be exact, and have stayed in a hotel you probably know that there is zero parking. You valet your car, then they take it to some undisclosed location and bring it to you whenever you call for it. This is the case for many big cities with limited parking, and you would know that if you had, say, every been to one of those big cities. My car was cool. We knew what to do. We hopped out to a barrage of people yelling orders, slipping tips into palms, drunk people barfing on the corner, men fighting, and cars honking. We took on thing at a time. We knew we had to get our bags to the bellhop, then hand over the keys, then get to our room, then we would be able to take it all in.
The occupants of Peggy’s Sweet-ass van, however, were totally numb to everything. They stood, wide-eyed, mouths agape, on the street taking it all in at that exact moment, as MIL unloaded the ENTIRE van and yelled at them to get their asses over there and help because we were holding up the valet line and people were pissed. Whew. Melody, Kasey, and I got our shit unloaded, our car sent away, our tips distributed, and quickly found ourselves inside this beautiful hotel with everything we needed except one bottle of purple nail polish that Mel had accidentally left in the back seat. No big deal. Right? Right.
After we all reconvened, they all had their eyes filled with enough sin, and MIL checked us in, we headed upstairs to our rooms. One of the first things I recall was standing outside our rooms (two doubles next door to each other) and we realized for the first time that we had to share our room with one of the occupants of Peggy’s Sweet-ass van. Our inclination, was to pick MIL, if we had the pick, because duh. But as we were waiting at our door for our keys, Janie walked over to us like she as rooming with us. Now, listen. Janie is a sweet woman. Totes someone who knows a lot, she’s smart, and kind. But I can’t beat around the bush here. She was way outta her league, and honestly she would have been appalled by some of the shit that we talked about. So we all stood politely and smiled at her, waiting for MIL to sort it out. Of which she did by yelling, “Janie, get your ass over here” and pointing to the room with the other girls. Whew. Crisis averted. So that left MIL, Kasey, Melody, and me in one room. And Janie, Tammie, Titty-Tina, and Pasty-Girl in the other.
Let me pause here and explain something. This all happened eight years ago. We are far enough removed from the events that transpired to look back with rose-colored glasses and laugh. But at the time, some of this felt very serious and very wrong and very scary and very amusing and very fun and very fucked up. But again, I am choosing rose-colored glasses and I hope the other ladies are too.
As I said before, this story has to be told in sections. So I think this is a great place to stop. We went out and explored that evening, as late as it was. Melody had her ear licked by a stranger, we drank HUGE ASS beers. We saw a couple having sex. We saw several people vomit. We met our first Voodoo Priestess. We walked with the crowd, as one does at Mardi Gras, as one big wave headed deeper and deeper into the French Quarter. And for all the grossness we encountered that night. For all the laughs we had. For all the beer we drank. It only went down from there. Even after we found out that Titty-Tina had an ex named Bitch Slap who was in town and was coming to find us. But that is best saved for another time.
Enjoy some pics from the first night of Mardi Gras in February, 2011.