Representation Matters

I had a necessary and slightly concerning conversation with some other parents at Jackson’s school the other day that revolved around a picture that is on a website from the fundraiser that we are doing right now. This is the picture:

It’s cute, right? What sparked the conversation was one of the other mommies telling me she wished we would have made it to Midvale sooner because we have been such a blessing to them and Jackson is such a great kid. I thanked her and agreed. I told her this was the best elementary school we have ever been in, and that we have been in three of them.

The first one, I told them, was also great, on paper. It was not a Title One school, which is very important to some people. Like, very important. Like one of my old friends, upon asking why her daughter went to our kid’s school (at the time) when she lived just as close to another one, rolled her eyes at me and she said (in a voice just above a whisper, even though no one was around,) “That’s a Title One school,” and gave me a knowing smile. I didn’t have the heart, or maybe the nerve, to tell my “sweet” friend that I was raised in a Title One school. That I am a product of poverty. That I got free lunch. Of course, this is the same woman who said she wouldn’t send her dog to the Charter school that was in our town, even though she knows people who work there, kids who go to school there. And I’m guessing I know some of her reasoning. PS… She’s a teacher. #EekFace

Our kids at that time, my son and her daughter, were in kindergarten together in a school that was, in the state of North Carolina, an A-rated school, sometimes an A+. The problem wasn’t so much that it had a 3% free or reduced lunch population (which we were a part of, unbeknownst to my friend I’m sure), it wasn’t even that I could count the number of “diverse kids” as she referred to them, it was that the school itself didn’t reflect real life. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the school. I met some amazing people there. Of course I also met some people who turned out to be some real assholes, but most of them were pretty cool. And I’m still friends with some of them. And I still think they are doing what is best for their kids, given where they live.

Let me quickly address the free lunch thing, since I sorta just snuck that in on you. We were on the free or reduced lunch program in kindergarten because at the time that school started we had just moved to NC, and Jerimiah didn’t have a job yet. We were still living off our savings while he looked for work, so the school district automatically qualified us for the program, and we took advantage of it for a few months, until Jerimiah found a great job, and Jackson started to bring his own lunch to school. But still, it impacted the “numbers” for the school, and still the people who were privy to this probably looked at us differently. Most likely. This may be shocking to some of you who knew us back then, especially because people always assumed that we moved to NC because of work. But no. We moved to NC to find better work. We knew we couldn’t stay in Southern Missouri. We also didn’t know that the town we were moving into was basically more of the same, just with more money. I never told people that because I was ashamed of it. But truth be told, we were kinda bad-ass for doing it. For selling off most of our things, for taking a BIG chance. And we have been reaping the rewards ever since. But, again, that sorta behavior scares people. And you can’t make friends easily with that origin story.

Again the school we were at for kindergarten through half of third grade was great. The real problem was just that 90% of the kids were little white kids with the same socio-economic status. And as some of you might know, some of you who have left your bubble, moved away from the places you were born and raised (unlike my sweet friend mentioned above) this is not reflective of real life. As I told this story to my new friends one of them actually gasped, a white woman, and said that was her worst nightmare for her kid. To go to school with people who looked just like her. I agreed. Explained that it was a driving force for us to move into “the city” and enroll Jackson into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, even with its many problems, it was much more reflective of real life. Then I brought up this picture.

Again, it’s cute. But, after what I just said, can you see the problem? You might hear a lot of people talk about representation nowadays. And if you are white, you may not pay much mind to that talk, well because, you are represented. Everywhere. But this pic concerned me in a lot of ways.

First off, this is the pic that all the kids and parents see when they first log into the site. So if you are a little Black girl (which we have a lot of at our school) then you see a scene that is not reflective of your life. If you are an Asian boy (which we have a lot of at our school) you are not seeing yourself represented very well either. And so on and so forth.

This might be a good time to add that the county that we live in, DeKalb County, Georgia, is the second most affluent county IN THE COUNTRY, with a predominantly Black population. Let me break that down for you. Most of the money, coming in and out of our county, is from affluent Black families. We are minorities here. Jackson is a minority in his school. Both in sex and race. This is our life. Our community. And it is good. Really good.

Back to the picture. Did you notice all the white kids are on one side, while all the “other” kids are on the other side. See that? See the token Black girl? And the Asian boy? See the two kids that could “pass” for Latino? It’s a bit odd. And maybe I’m reading too far into it, one tends to do that when they have been enlightened to white privilege, but I don’t think so. I also don’t think, or want to believe, that the company did this on purpose. I think it was more of an, Oh shit, we need some “diverse” kids in this pic too! And then they hurried up and made sure they had “one of each.” That’s how I think it went down. Either way. Bleh.

I think I’m just noticing things like this more because I am more aware of the world that we live in. The world advertisers create. The world the white-males make for us, and I’m starting to call a spade a spade, if you will. Like my sweet old friend, who still has others fooled, but I’ve seen her true side. Her “Christian” side, and it ain’t pretty. But more about her in another post.

So that’s what’s been kicking around in my noggin today. Representation. The importance of being around people who do not act like or look like or live like you. The importance of cutting through bullshit and getting down to the nuts and bolts of what needs to be said. So here I am, saying it. Like always.

This weekend, try to step out of your comfort zone a little bit. Eat at a new place, try a new store on the “other” side of town. Start a conversation with that one Black man that lives in your town. I dunno. Try something. Be present. Show up for others. You won’t regret it.

M.

Classic Country

We were talking with friends the other day—who shall remain nameless in an attempt to protect the guilty—and they didn’t know who Charley Pride is. Ahem. One of them is a music professor. Damn it, it was Accordion Dave. Sorry Accordion Dave, but they all already knew it was you! So I was APPALLED. As one should be, to learn that people you like very, very, much, have no idea who Charley Pride is. Jerimiah and I almost ended the Google Hangout, instead we made it a teachable moment, you know we like those, so we started to sing…

“Kiss an angel good morning, and let her know you think about her when you’re gone. Kiss an angel good morning, and love her like the devil when you get back home…”

It was beautiful and magical and we were totally in sync and everyone loved it. Ahem.

Then we gave them a list of other country music rockstars to learn about before we meet next, including David Allen Coe, which came with apologies for his racism and a, But remember, he did live in a cave for a long time. Not that the excuses the racism. #EekFace

This all got me thinking. Not all people were raised on old, classic, country music like Jerimiah and I were. Which is sorta weird to us, but also good for those people cause they don’t wake up singing: “When whole lot of Decembers are showing in your face, your auburn hair has faded and silver takes its place…”

Or my personal favorite, “See the marketplace in Old Algiers, send me photographs and souvenirs, just remember when a dream appears, you belong to me…”

I can’t speak for Jerimiah, but I was raised with an 8-track player, a record player, a cassette player, and an AM/FM radio. And a mother who would sometimes drink beer and cry to Patsy, and Loretta, and Merle. You know, the greats. Her biggest dream was to see them all on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Isn’t that everyone’s dream?!

Breathe, Missy.

So not everyone was raised like me. Some people were raised on classical music. Some on Motown. Some on Elvis or classic rock. And I like and appreciate all of those genres, more so as an adult than ever before. But sometimes, when I am feeling sad, hopeless, or drinking a beer all alone I pull out one of my old records, and I spin for a while, and think about my childhood and the people who made it so memorable. Loretta, and Tammy, and Patsy, and Conway, and Merle, and Charley. Here’s to the greats!

M.

The Year of the Trumpet

“Dear Heavenly Music Goddesses, 
Please guide Jerimiah and me on this next journey of our lives. Lead us to ears that are not as tender as my bowels. Grant us serenity at 8:00 am on Saturday mornings. Provide for us a music instructor that is not super into home practice. In Dizzy Gillespie’s name we pray. Amen.” This is the way I begin my day now, with this simple prayer. If your child is also beginning music lessons for the first time, feel free to use this prayer. So far, it has not worked. But I believe that prayer is something you have to work at, like your marriage or the extensive, yet doable, plot to kill your neighbor’s snarky cat. It takes time, friends.

I joke about this trumpet thing with Jackson, but I am secretly pumped that he is doing it. In fact, I was so pumped and optimistic that he would “get” it and love it, that I decided to BUY him his own trumpet! Then I found out that trumpets cost thousands of dollars, so we are renting one instead. BUT, it is new. And if he does love it, we can buy. Sort of a rent-to-own deal. Which I’m usually not big on, but in this case, it’s cool. I have threatened him within an inch of his life to keep this trumpet nice in the event that we do return it. But I also bought insurance on the expensive bitch, cause this ain’t my first rodeo.

He originally wanted tp play the tuba.

The tuba.

And I was all, Hmmm, let’s think about this. Tubas are large.

And he was all, Sure, but they sound awwwesome. (I’m envisioning Kevin from “The Office” saying this right now, but it was in fact Jackson.)

And I was all, Sure, but they are large.

And he was all, But…

And I was all, THE ANSWER IS NO! Love you.

This is to say the trumpet was a compromise.

His method book came first and he wasn’t super impressed. Meanwhile, I was singing “Banana Boat” to him to get him pumped for his year with the trumpet, and that’s when he asked me to stop singing and said, I don’t care for jazz. And right then the floor opened up and the ghost of Fats Domino rose from the below and slapped him hard in the face with one of his big rings on and then disappeared. Jackson looked at me in shock and I said,

“I’m gonna be standing on the corner
12th Street and Vine
I’m gonna be standing on the corner
12th Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby and boy she’s really fine…”

M.

Check Ya MTHFR Genes, Y’all

A couple of weeks ago I did this weird thing in my Psychiatrist’s office. I know, I know, I do weird shit all the time, but this wasn’t my idea, this was hers. First, let me say that I know I talk about therapy a lot with you guys, but I think it is so important to have an open and honest conversation about mental health, and for me, regular therapy and medication are just what the doctor ordered. So thanks for reading and talking about it with me. It really helps. But I also know that regular therapy and medication are not the best case scenario for everyone. So as always, you do your thang, and I’ll do mine. Cool? Cool.

Alright, let’s get back on track. I have a therapist (y’all know about her, I told you about her here: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/08/13/dig-dig-climax/), but I also have a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. This is because the particular place that I first found here in Georgia was not accepting adult patients for the psychiatrist at the time I started. She is now, but I’m like six months in with my therapist, and I LOVE her, buuuuut she’s a therapist so she can’t dispense drugs. That’s where the Psychiatric NP comes in. All caught now? Yes, good.

A couple of weeks ago my NP, ohhh, let’s call her Susie Q, Susie Q was going over my charts and we were discussing new medication. She had already switched my anti-anxiety meds a few months back and of course I blogged about that here: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/07/02/backstreets-back-alright/. Duh. But then she wanted to move on to updating my anti-depression medication. I suffer from a small host of mental illnesses, but most prominently: Generalized Anxiety and Chronic Depression. I was game because I have been on Lexapro for years and it is starting to not work so well, besides the more obvious things like inability to lose weight and a dwindling libido. Both common side effects of most antidepressants. This new class of antidepressants coming out now are supposed to be much better, with less side effects because science. #TheMoreYouKnow #Rainbows

Normally the process of finding the right medication for you is trial and error, and boy have I done some of that. In fact, I’ve done a decade worth of it at this point, so Susie Q was all, “Ohh, let’s swab you!” Then she jumped out of her chair, literally, and ran back a few minutes later with two long swabs (the kind they check for strep throat with) and a FedEx envelope.

Let me stop there. Susie Q is a very nice person, but she real cray. Like I think this is one of those instances where she studied a field she was familiar with because she too suffers from a host of mental illnesses, one of which has got to be ADD. Has. To. Be. Anyhoo, she got herself composed again and explained the swab test.

“Apparently” (and I am using quotes here to show my pure suspicion about this whole thing) “apparently” by swabbing the inside of my mouth with these two giant Q-tips and sending the samples to a lab somewhere in a corn field in Iowa, Susie Q could tell me a whole bunch about my mental health that I did not know. Yeah. She said this to me. And she was very excited about it too. Like, bouncing in her seat excited. She said this would make it so much easier to get me a drug that actually worked for me. I asked if my insurance would pay for it, she shrugged a “probably” and that was good enough for me.

Listen, I have tried A LOT of drugs. Been through many years of self-medication, and have yet to find the “magic” one. Do I think the “magic” one exists? No. But at this point I just want to have one that does more good than bad, so I was game, albeit suspicious.

So I waited a couple of weeks and went back. My insurance did in fact pay for it, which is great because these Iowa people billed my insurance like $5,000 for the two swabs. I swear to the Lord Baby Jesus our healthcare system is straight jacked up and… no. That is another post. Anyway, when I sat down in front of Susie Q again she was bouncing out of her damn seat talking bout, “I think this will work! Ohhh, I think this new medicine will work!” Christ on an antidepressant cross, I sure hope it does, cause she really has to stop bouncing so much in my presence.

So that’s that. I’m on a new medication, one that has significantly less side effects than my old one, and one that “apparently” works with my genomic DNA and my T allele of the C677T polymorphism in the MTHFR gene (which I can only assume is short for Motherfucker), not to mention my “significantly reduced” folic acid conversion (I have to take LMethyl Folate everyday now too because Susie Q was “astounded” at my lack of folic acid conversion.) I wish she had done a better job of explaining all this so I could tell you all, but… crickets. Bouncing crickets.

Get your motherfucker genes swabbed you guys. Get your motherfucker genes swabbed sooner rather than later…

M.

Just the Boys

Jackson is headed to his first fifth grade field trip today. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but this is the first field trip that I have not been invited to chaperone, like, uhh, ever. In fact, there were no parents invited to chaperone this one because this one is to the Fernbank Science Center. And this one is Just for Boys. And this one is chaperoned by Mr. Budd, and Mr. Board, and Mr. Hammonds. And this one came with an accompanying vocabulary list, words like:

Penis

Acne

Vagina

Semen

Yeah. That is this field trip. And I gotta say, I am glad I am not there.

It’s not that Jackson doesn’t already know these words. We are always a little ahead of the game. You don’t get a kindergartner with a third grade reading level if you aren’t. Likewise, we didn’t want the kid that says “balls” for “scrotum” and giggles a little. We want a kid that knows to never use the word “pussy” in any context. Like any of them. Yeah, even cats. Cats are called cats. That is to say we are raising a man with a respectable mouth. Sure he might yell, “What the hell?!” when a car cuts me off, but that’s learned behavior and I’m okay with that. But if my son ever referred to his penis as his “dong,” I’d probably lose my shit.

Our son is, naturally, a bit nervous about today’s trip. He said, and I quote, “I’m just gonna keep my head down and my mouth quiet.” And I believe him. Though I encouraged him to listen attentively, to not giggle when the other boys do, and to try to keep his head up. This is all valuable information. Then I warned him that I want to know EVERYTHING that happened, so he should try to take copious amounts of notes. He rolled his eyes.

I have a fifth grade boy on the brink of puberty. That is amazing. And scary as hell. I have this smart, funny, honest child who is just a bit shy about saying the word “vagina,” but will say it when it is appropriate, because he knows better. He also knows the term, “Sexual Intercourse,” probably much to his grandma’s chagrin. He knows about “consent,” and he knows about birth control. His birth control. His responsibilities. It seems a bit early to bog him down with the wonders of “the pill,” though I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I hope there is a male version before he is of age.

I guess I am telling you all this today because I am nervous. I hope he behaves. I hope he represents. I hope he learns. I hope he lets his guard down just a bit. I secretly hope he does giggle a little bit to himself. Or turns red in the face. Or makes eye contact with his best bud Lucus, and they both make that face. I hope this is just another step in teaching my child to be the best version of himself he can be. And I hope one day he will know how much I worry, but push through anyway.

Teach those babies right, y’all. Have the tough conversations. Because if you don’t they will have them with people they shouldn’t. It is inevitable.

M.

They’re Just Babies!

Yesterday morning as I watched my full-grown adult husband throw the trimmer to the ground and run up the driveway toward me with a wild, reckless glare in his eyes and strip his shirt off, I thought Really, Jerimiah, sex outside? In our driveway? In the morning? I mean don’t get wrong, I was game, but it was just out of character for him. I’m usually the one to suggest this sort of raunchy stuff. But I shrugged and stripped my shirt off as well. Then he yelled something like Bees! But not bees! Everywhere! All over me! And just as I was about to pull a boob out I was like Wait, what? Turns out he did not want to take me in the carport as Mrs. Kim peeked out of her garage window. Turns out, he was attacked by what we later realized were baby yellow jackets. About 15 of them. At one time. And then I felt kinda dumb and put my shirt back on.

Apparently, being stung by 15 baby yellow jackets isn’t ideal. Not at all. Apparently though, it could have been a lot worse. Jerimiah is not allergic to bees, or wasps, or yellow jackets, but if you are allergic and get stung 10-15 times you should seek medical assistance. Jerimiah did not. He went inside and took a shower and put some triple-antibiotic on his welts and said he wasn’t working in the yard anymore that day. But still, maybe he should have sought medical attention. I dunno. This was after he tried to go back and get the trimmer, but the baby yellow jackets had descended on that bitch like the trimmer was Meatloaf and they were fans of mild 1970s rock. I stood on the street and screamed at him, at them, at whomever was listening, But they are just babies! Why?! Why?! They LOVED that trimmer. And they would do anything for love…

Anyway, my husband woke up this morning a little swollen on his eye lid, and his cheek, and his thigh (they climbed inside his shorts), and his shoulders and ankles, then he went to the dentist, and loaded up in an Uber to head to Baton Rouge for the week. Because my husband is a fucking rockstar, like Meatloaf, but not really.

But I never got my driveway sex. Which is sad. Maybe I’ll track old Mr. Charlie down later, but for now I’m here to tell y’all to have a safe day. And a really happy, baby-yellow-jacket-free week. If you can.

M.

To the Taffy-pulling Room!

Sonofabitch you guys, I haven’t been watching television enough. Not nearly as much as Mike Teevee, anyway, which is secretly my dream. I’ve been too busy and it shows. Football is apparently back? It’s almost the fall and new shows come out in the fall and I don’t know what any of the new shows are and I’m stressing out because when I do watch television I watch sad Netflix documentaries like that one where that lady with a mental illness lived in an abandoned house for a year and existed solely on apples and then someone found her dead body. Or, hey, what about that one where that lady with a mental illness started collecting ducks, then ten years later the SPCA had to step in and take 96 ducks, geese, chickens, roosters, and turkeys from her house because her husband called them on her and then they got divorced, but not really, then he died from diabetes, so he never got to see how she cleaned up the chicken shed and got a new house but she was only able to do that because he died and she inherited money he was saving for her. Or what about that one where the lady with the mental illness kills her… wait, is there a theme here?

Anyway, I need to branch out and I know it. I mean don’t get me wrong, I watch the jail shows too. Like that one where the teenage girls are given a second chance before being tried as adults and are sent to this like, little girl prison, where they have to go to school and stuff. I’m all caught up on that. Or that one that is filmed in Gwinnett County, Georgia in one of the biggest, most bad-ass jails in the country. I watch that one because Gwinnett County is right next to us. Like my husband works in Gwinnett County. So I mean, we’re like family, the convicts and me.

Speaking of convicted family members, I have several. But that’s another post.

Ohhh, I also watch those home remodeling shows. Not the ones that are on like cable television (we don’t have cable, have I mentioned this?) I watch the ones on Netflix. Like “Tiny House Nation” and that one where that mom and daughter team up in Indianapolis and are like remodeling old homes one-by-one in their own neighborhood. I mean it’s pure gentrification, but their dynamic is funny.

I tried to watch MTV Teen Mom Season 3 the other day but it said I needed an account that supported MTV. Uh… Anyone have a log in for me?

So I guess what I am saying is, hmm, maybe I do watch a lot of t.v.?

Here are the names of the really good documentaries on Netflix now, in case you are so inclined to sit alone and cry one afternoon like me:

There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

Blackfish

Brother’s Keeper

Audrie and Daisy

Evil Genius

Abducted in Plain Sight

Amanda Knox

Period. End of Sentence.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

Have You Seen Andy?

God Knows Where

For the Birds

Happy (or mainly sad) watching!

M.

Bump, Bump, Bump

I fell down my stairs on my birthday. Let me back up and first say, I am not a “clumsy” person. I don’t fall down, or drop things, or run into walls, or whatever it is people do in infomercials when they are trying to open a tight jar lid and they accidentally throw it through their kitchen window. I am pretty steady on my feet, my wide, long, feet. (Unless I am on ice skates, but we shan’t talk about that today.) I have never in my life fallen down stairs or steps (unless for comedic effect or because I had skates on my feet and wanted to “try it”). Then, on the morning of my 38th birthday I fell. And it hurt like hell.

Our house is one of these mid-century split levels that have been booming in the renovation market lately. It’s been renovated, but the foundation of the house hasn’t changed. So we have two stair cases. One goes down from the main level to the family room and guest area, and one goes up to the bedrooms in the house. I tell you this so you know that I only fell down six steps. Six. That’s it. But that was more than enough steps to wreck havoc on my body. Christ Missy, what happened?

I have no idea. I keep replaying it over and over in my head, both because I am in awe that it happened, and because I don’t know what happened. I had just come inside from riding my bike to drop Jackson off at school. When I walked inside I told Sir Duke Barkington that I would take him for a walk. Then I remembered that I left his lead upstairs by my bed, because I had taken it off when he was up there the night before. Then when it wasn’t on my bedside table I remembered that I had taken it back downstairs the day before. So I headed downstairs.

I wasn’t in a hurry. I wasn’t mad or frustrated, it was my birthday! I had just come home from a bike ride. I was feeling nice. I had on my “good” shoes, which are my trusty Salomon XR Mission’s (that I recommend to anyone who suffers from plantar fasciitis). Jesus. I feel old just typing that. Anyhoo, I got to the top of the step and kind of just, fell. I fell directly on my left side, first my butt hit, then my back, then I half-heartedly reached for the handrail. Why didn’t I reach again? Why did I only sort of stick my hand out? Maybe I thought I wasn’t really going to slide all the way down the stairs, but I did. Bump. Bump, Bump. At least three times, hardwood stairs to butt, hardwood to back. Ouch.

I sat, in shock, for a minute then decided I was done for the day. Like my immediate reaction was, That’s it, Missy. Today sucks, this is how it will be. But then I remembered it was my birthday and I was like, No Missy, we can’t take this lying down. Even though I really wanted to lay down. So I got up and took the damn dog on his walk. Then I got home and worked and wrote some things. Made some calls, fielded way more birthday wishes than I deserve, and even rode my bike back to school to get Jackson that afternoon. Then, about 4:00 pm, after I had done all I needed to absolutely do that day I sat down and the pain came. And the swelling. And the reminder that I fell down my stairs that day. And that I am another year older. And that old people fall sometimes. Then I laughed at myself like I normally do, and enjoyed my evening with my boys.

The thing is, when I really think about it, my 38th year can only go up from here. It can only go up from the bottom of my stairs. So I think I have a lot to look forward to. 🙂

Stay safe out there, y’all. Use handrails.

M.

I Want to Ride it Where I Like

Jackson and I have been riding bikes to school and back home the past few days. Prior to this Jerimiah was dropping him off every morning, and I was walking to get him every afternoon. That meant that Jackson was walking one mile a day, and I was walking two. But this week Jackson wanted to ride his bike to school. But a mile is far, and you have to cross a five lane road to get to his school, and let’s be real—I am too anxious to let him ride alone—which means I have to ride with him. So how is that going?! Great. Fine. Awesome. No, but really.

It would seem weird for someone like me to go from no activity to bike riding two miles a day, but really, it wasn’t a bad transition from the walking. I already had the bike, I bought us all new bikes last year after we rented beach cruisers at the beach and I was all, Oh my gosh, this is awesome, why did we ever stop biking when we grew up?! Quick answer: It’s hard. And people judge you.

People really do judge you. I mean, the people in the cars don’t want you on the road, and the people on the sidewalks don’t want you on the sidewalk. People don’t want you going past their driveway, they give looks, and people don’t want you riding on the shoulder of the road or in a lane like a car. In the state of Georgia, if you are over the age of 16 and on a bike, you are supposed to treat it like a “vehicle.” They understand it is not a “motor vehicle,” but they still consider it a “vehicle,” which means you are supposed to ride it on the street. Why do I know this? I Googled it, after I realized that I only see real bike riders (you know who I mean the people on teams who compete and have racing bikes with those funny little suits and make motions with their hands) I see them on the streets all the time, not the sidewalks, because well, sidewalks are for walking. I get that. But, if you are under 16, you are supposed to ride your bike on the sidewalk. This is all new information to me because I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid!

So do you see my dilemma? Probably not, because I haven’t laid it out very well. I want to make sure I am on the sidewalk with my son when he rides his bike, but riding my bike on the sidewalk is technically “illegal.” So I ride behind him on the sidewalk, we get off our bikes at the crosswalk and walk them across, and when I am riding alone on the way home after I drop him off, I ride in the street like I am supposed to. Well, I did. Once.

The cars were not nice. Like, not nice at all. Most of them just zipped past me like I wasn’t even there, with no thought to how close they were to me or how fast they were going. They split lanes, they didn’t get over when they clearly could have. I don’t know what the rules are, but when I see a bike rider on the street I get over if I can, and/or give them plenty of room and slow down. Not these people. I am seriously surprised I didn’t cause an accident, and the whole time I just kept thinking, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do! Maybe it’s because this is Atlanta, but riding my bike on the road did not feel safe.

So I ride on the sidewalk now, but I get mad looks from people in the cars and on the sidewalk, even though I know I am not supposed to be on the sidewalk with wheels, so I stop when a walker or runner is coming and I get off my bike and wait for them to pass. Do I want to do that? No, I lose my momentum and believe me, my fat-ass needs my momentum, but I think it is the right thing to do. Ahhhhh! I just want to ride my bicycle where I want. Thanks, Queen.

Anyway, I have no real reason to be writing this but to complain. Maybe you have suggestions. I’m just going to keep on keeping on as long as Jackson wants to ride, and I guess the cops can pull me over on my bike. Lord knows they can catch me.

As a reward for reading my rant here are some pics of a new pair of bikers. I asked him if we could get leather vests made with our nicknames on them, and he said, “We aren’t those kind of bikers, Mommy.” And I told him we were, in our souls we were… #SonsOfAnarchy4Lyfe

M.

It’s My Birthday!

As you probably know by now, today is my 38th birthday. And listen, this is the first year that I have not kept a running count somewhere of the days until my birthday. It’s exhausting. It is also the first year I haven’t really celebrated a “Birthday Week” for myself. Jerimiah was in Baton Rouge for most of it, and while he sent me little Amazon packages everyday, it wasn’t the same as him being here to celebrate, so by Sunday I was feeling a little blue. Then a friend said, “Birthday Smirthday” and I was all, maybe she’s right. Maybe it isn’t so much the celebration of getting things, or doing things, as much as like, I dunno, appreciating how far you have come as a person. If you read my blog yesterday you know how far I think I have come. If you didn’t read it, check it out. I only use the F-word once. See, I’m growing up. Haha, just kidding. #ForFucksSake

Anyway, that’s not the thing I am here to talk to you about today. Today I am here to not talk, if that is possible, rather just share some pics. So, please enjoy some “Missy in various stages” pics for my birthday. It’s like my gift to you. Now where are my gifts, assholes?

Kidding. Kind of.

M.

Above: Toucan Sam and me, My sister’s broken leg and my butt, Belinda and me at “The Bears” at the Leavenworth Plaza.

Above: Christmas 1980-something, Carrying a totally 80s chair, sitting on the floor in front of the tv with my baby doll, duh.

Above: My mom’s creepy boyfriend, Bill on the birthday he bought me a bike, Breakfast in bed on your birthday was a tradition in our house (also, check that shirt out #RaisedRoyal), With Barbie and my favorite Popples.

Polaroids were a big hit in our house in the 80s. Though I couldn’t tell you who it was that owned a fancy camera like that. Probably whomever owned that fancy truck. Cause that wasn’t ours. We didn’t have a car. That was our front yard though! Right next to BK. A BK with a funhouse! (Processed Food is the best!)

Above: I’m trying to half-heartedly feed a prairie dog at Prairie Dog Park in Lawton, Oklahoma. If he would have gotten any closer, though, I would have shit my denim skirt. Also, there is me in a sweater with a “D” on it. This one has stumped me for years. There is no “D” in any of my names, so…garage sale find maybe? The last pic is with my sisters, the Christmas, I believe, before Khristi moved to Germany.

My frist camera! I remember how cool this was and how bad-ass I thought I was going to be with it hanging around my neck.

Above: Is that a boy in the bathtub? No, just me in like third grade. One time my mom nailed a wooden basketball hoop to a tree at just the right height for me to always do a slam dunk. Last pic: Peace, love, and Tweety Bird.

Middle school dance, anyone? I’m pretty sure I didn’t dance with anyone. High school graduation with my BFF, Lee Anne, and posing on a stack of hay in my sister’s front yard right after high school. I was WAY into khakis and button-ups.

Backside of Thirty

“On the backside of thirty, the short side of time
Back on the bottom with no will to climb.”

John Conlee

John Conlee’s life sounds like it sucked, which means it made a great country music song! Like ‘Ol Johnny I am on the backside of thirty, but unlike ‘Ol Johnny, I’m not living in a rat-infested apartment and only seeing my kid on the weekends. Tomorrow is in fact, my 38th birthday. Whew. And while I am normally a little sad on my birthday, remembering how precious time is and what not, I’m actually feeling pretty good today. (Don’t ask me about yesterday.) I think I may have turned a corner. A very important corner. Certainly not the corner where you remember to return your library books by their due date, but a corner no less.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my 20th birthday this week, and the way I freaked out because I was “halfway to forty.” I think I had a quarter-life crisis, before having a quarter-life crisis was cool. And yes, 20 was most likely my quarter-life, because have you seen the amount of cheese I eat? There’s no way I’m making it to 100. Anyway, I had all these thoughts on my 20th birthday about how different and weird I would be when I was 40. And here I am, sliding into 38, only two years away from this “totally different super-adult” and yeah, that ain’t happening. Which is really, really good.

I feel like there have been several Missys in my life. There’s Little Missy who we all know and love. She had round cheeks and a round belly and she sometimes laughed so hard that she squirted chocolate milk out of her noise at the same time that she accidentally farted. She had some friends, not a lot, but she didn’t need a lot. She spent most of her time riding her bike alone, talking to imaginary people (who were way more cool than the actual people in her life), and she liked to read books that were way too advanced for her.

Then there was Teenage Missy. She was a bitch. Plain and simple. Selfish, rude to her mom, and overly-concerned with “fitting in,” so much so that she once cornered a friend in the hallway and told the friend that she was quote, out of the group, unquote. Teenage Missy found weed around 11th grade and became Stoner, Drinker, Party-girl, Just Have Fun, Life is Short Missy for about eight years or so. That Missy was a hot fucking mess. Thank goodness for Jerimiah, and a college education, and a chocolate lab named Bentley, and a marriage, and a baby. Whew. That pushed me into Jackson’s Mom, Missy.

Listen, I was Jackson’s Mom, Missy for a good three years before I was, Mom to a Healthy Baby and Mom to a Dead Baby, Missy. Not gonna lie, those years, and that Missy had some issues. Then I tried to shed that Missy by being, Talkative, friendly, Missy who was really just Drink Lots of Wine so I Can Feel Like I Fit in with Other Adult Women Missy. That Missy was a total fake, and by being so she attracted fake people. So I shed that Missy for who I am now which I am lovingly calling, Backside of Thirty Missy.

Backside of Thirty Missy feels different in a way I can’t yet explain. Probably because I am still trying to figure out what makes her tick. She goes to therapy regularly and is making progress in figuring out the root of her mental illness. She enjoys walking, and most recently riding her bike alone and talking to imaginary people much like Little Missy (though she also likes to ride her bike with her family). Backside of Thirty Missy is starting to miss the people who knew Little Missy a bit more. She is feeling a pull back home. She is realizing that while home is where her shit is, HOME is actually Kansas. And Kansas, for all its problems, was really good to her.

Backside of Thirty Missy is telling the people that matter, that they matter. She is cutting off friendships that are one-sided or that make her nervous. She isn’t drinking wine because people make her feel like she has to. Sometimes she just quietly sips her iced tea and laughs at the drunk ones making fools of themselves. Backside of Thirty Missy is daring greatly! (Thanks B.B.) She has the most confidence of any of the prior Missys, though that still isn’t that much confidence. Backside of Thirty Missy has found more art she likes, and she is doing it, even if she isn’t good at it. Photography, printmaking, up-cycling old furniture, she’s game for it all. Backside of Thirty Missy finally learned how to play Risk and she bought a deck of Magic cards. She allows herself to have pity parties sometimes, and she eats a lot more vegetables.

I guess, like most people, I am changing, growing, evolving into the woman I am supposed to be. It is scary. Very scary. But necessary. We all go through this metamorphosis, it’s just that we are usually made to feel bad about it. I refuse to feel bad about it. I like me now, in a way that I haven’t in a long time.

I came across this today on social media. It is attributed to Reese Witherspoon and I don’t know if that is a correct attribution, but it doesn’t matter who said it. It matters what it says, and whether or not you can believe it. I can believe it. For the first time in my life, 40 isn’t so scary. In fact, I am looking forward to 40-Year-Old Missy, she is going to have learned so much. She is going to be even more open, and real, and lovely than Backside of Thirty Missy, who still sometimes cries in her bathroom. And maybe 40-Year-Old Missy will too, but it’s okay. Because you’re never too young or too old to cry in your bathroom.

Be kind to yourself today, y’all. In honor of my birthday tomorrow. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself. Speak goodness into your life, into the mirror. Try something you have never tried, but have always wanted to. You are not too old, and it is not too late.

Backside of Thirty Missy

Poodles Are Crazy

One thing I wish someone would have told me before we adopted Sir Duke Barkington, is that poodles are fucking crazy. Of course, it would have been hard to tell me that, because I woke up one day and was all, Hey Missy, let’s get a poodle today! And so we did (because my husband truly gets me all the things I want, and for the most part goes along with all my crazy plans. He really needs to stop that. Someone needs to knock some sense into me.) So there’s that. Although, come to think of it, maybe Duke is just exhibiting behavior he has learned from me? That’s neither here nor there, let me tell you about car line.

Jerimiah usually drops Jackson off at school in the mornings on his way to work. It would be a nice little sleep-in kinda deal for me, if it weren’t for the damn dog. Sir Duke REALLY likes car rides, so when he watches them leave in the morning he freaks out. Like, freaks out. Goes from window to window to see them drive away, then goes to the front door and cries as they pass by the porch. Why do I know this? Why am I not fast asleep in bed? Because if I sleep in, then the damn dog “acts out” after they leave. Usually this means going through the trash, or tearing apart one of my books he has managed to nose off the bookshelves. So I have to be up and at ’em in the morning, or else.

When Jerimiah is away, I have to take Jackson to school, which is totes fine as it is a three-minute drive (which is much better than the 25-minute drive we used to do in Charlotte up and down the highway each morning.) BUT, that means Sir Duke Barkington either gets left outside or gets to come along. This week he caught on pretty quickly that if he gets put outside before we leave, we aren’t letting him back in. And he has to stand at the gate and whine and watch us as we pull out of the driveway. So on Friday, he guilted me into taking him. How? His eyes, his deep, brown, soulful eyes. Here, look:

Oh, oops. Sorry, that is a picture of his balls hanging freely. So sorry, big mistake. Trust me, he has soulful eyes. BTW: He still has these bad boys for another month, so if you know any, ahem, pretty SPOO or DOOD ladies… He’s looking. #Thumbs Up #WinkyFace #NoPreferenceWhatsoever

Anyway, this sonofabitch followed me around all morning and whined at my feet, refused to go outside, and just as I was slipping Jackson’s lunch box into his book bag, he ran over, sat politely, and stared at his leash. See what I mean? Guilt. So we took him.

You know how sometimes you feel like people are watching you, or looking at you, or judging you in some way? But really they aren’t. You just feel that way because we are all self-centered, when in reality we are all too busy thinking the same thing about ourselves to be actually paying each other any attention? When I’m in the car with Duke, people really are looking at us and judging.

First, he’s adorable. No, for real, here look:

Oh, Jesus, I’m sorry, it’s a zoomed in balls picture, I’m so sorry! How did that happen?! Okay, trust me with the next one:

Okay, okay. See what I mean? Really sorry about the other picture. Not sure what happened.

So, yeah, not gonna lie, he’s totes adorbs. And people want to pet him. And he wants people to pet him. He LOVES people and pets. Unless he is in the car. Something happens to him when he’s in the car. He goes into “Batshit Crazy Poodle mode,” as I refer to it. I have only ever seen this type of behavior in more protective, aggressive breeds like German Shepherds and Chihuahuas. The car, like his house, is his domain to protect and he does just that. It’s just that, say, at the carline at school, or in the line at the bank, it kinda sucks to have to roll all the windows up, and have your giant Standard Poodle barking ferociously over your shoulder at whomever you are talking to. And in the carline, when the teachers—or in the case of today—when the PRINCIPAL opens the car door for Jackson, and he lunges at the tiny woman from the backseat, which makes you nervous and you let off the brakes a little while the car door is still open and she says, “Ohhhh,” well, it can be embarrassing.

So what is my point here? Don’t adopt a Standard Poodle?! Oh, no! Adopt one, they are amazing, here, just look at him when he was a puppers:

You were sorta scared to look, huh? I said you can trust me now, you guys! Adopt away, just know that they are crazy-ass mofos who feed off your anxiety and worry. They are SUPER smart and also SUPER stubborn, so while they know that you want them to calm the fuck down, they refuse to do it. You won’t be telling them what to do, rather they will be telling you what to do. But in return, if you obey their demands, you get a ton, a ton, of cuddles. Like, probably more than you want. But don’t complain, or they will attack the mailman.

Smoochie booches!

M. and Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte

Student “Athlete”

I was a student athlete back in the day. Don’t make that shocked face, assholes. I didn’t say I was an AWESOME student athlete back in the day. Not everyone can be great, it takes all kinda to make up a team, and although I was usually the slowest on the team, what I lacked in speed I often made up for in dedication and steadfast play (except for that one time in ninth grade when we lost the championship game because of a bad play I made at shortstop, but hand to God that will be another post, I am still working through that with my therapist). Anyhoo, I played several sports: Softball, volleyball, basketball, and track and field. I was a distance runner in track and field. Now you can laugh. I was a thrower. Shot put, discuss, and javelin. I once ran the hog relay though, and we won, so there’s that.

I’m not sure how it happened. One day I was just a chubby girl with no direction in life, and the next day I was a chubby girl who could smack the ball down the first base line, just inside the foul line, just fast enough to sneak by the first baseman. In softball, I could always make contact with the ball, that you could count on. But after that, well who knows what would happen then. Maybe I would sling the bat around so fast that it would hit the ump in the shins and I would be sent to the dugout. Maybe I would trip on the way to first base, and my slowness in getting back up would allow the right fielder to run me down. Maybe all would line up perfectly, I’d drop my bat (after my coach made me hit a shoe on a stick 100 times and drop the bat at practice), run to first, run to second, maybe even make it to third if the ball rolled ever so fast down to the fence line. I once hit an in-field home run, but to be fair, it was wicked hot outside, we were the best in the league and the other team the worst. But still. I did that. Ahhh, those were the days.

Volleyball I was better at, or maybe just as good, though that was the only team I ever tried out for and didn’t make. It was 11th grade. And to be fair I hadn’t wanted to try out that year. My high school had a state championship team, and the girls played year-round ball. They were like, uhh, good. And I was like, uhhh, noncommittal to the sport. By that time I had lettered in varsity track and field with that state championship team, so I just didn’t need the pressure. Also, the summer before my junior year I discovered weed, so there’s that. Yeah, volleyball was short-lived, only 7th-10th grade, but basketball was even shorter.

Remember when I said I was slow? Basketball is not really the game for slowness. I mean, I am wicked on the D (hehehe) but you have to be sorta “all-around athletic” in basketball. My ninth grade basketball coach would often remind us, “You’re only as good as your weakest player…or slowest,” she would add while she glanced in my direction. But that didn’t stop me from playing, I loved basketball! Still do. I love to play street ball, one-on-one, three-on-three, doesn’t matter. I love to watch college ball (Go Jayhawks!) and I love to go to NBA games (Go Hornets! Go Hawks!). I played organized basketball for the first time in fourth grade, and we were quite the rag-tag team of kids from Anthony Elementary. We practiced a couple nights a week in the gym after school. For a lot of us it was our first foray into a team sport, and it was fun and exciting. In fifth grade we got to name ourselves, and after much deliberation we landed on “The Dream Girls.” Seriously. But in fourth grade we didn’t have that option, we were sponsored by a local business called “Dix Office Supply” which meant our shirts said, “Dix’s”. No joke.

Basketball, good times. I played my last year of it in 10th grade, and honestly I wish I had stuck with it longer, but we all make our decisions. Puff, puff, pass.

Then there was track and field. I sorta got sucked into this one in middle school because I had an overprotective mom. Allow me to explain. My mom would be outside my middle school, in her 1972 Dodge Coronet (this was the early 1990s), promptly 30 minutes before school was out everyday. It was slightly embarrassing. We lived close to the school. Close enough to walk, but she wouldn’t let me. You know the drill, it wasn’t that she didn’t trust me, she didn’t trust other people, if I had friends to walk home with then maybe. Then one glorious day I found out that the track team got to walk from the school every afternoon, all the way down Fourth Street (the main artery in our small city) to Ables Field. Ables Field was were the high school football team played, but in the spring it was where my middle school did track practice. I begged my mom to do track and field. At first she was against it. Why would they let the kids walk? Coaches walked too, I assured her, even though I didn’t know if that was true. Besides, my two best friends were going to do it too. That was all it took and boom, I was on the track team.

It only took one day of “try-outs” for the coaches to figure out that I was not a runner, rather a thrower, and I was placed with Coach Cormack (the shop teacher) on the “field” side of things. I was pissed off at first, because my skinny friends were all on running teams, meanwhile we had to hike down into the woods behind the stadium to get to the “pit” everyday. But, I made new friend’s, and once I got the techniques down, I ended up being pretty good at shot put and discus throwing. So good in fact, that by my freshman year the high school coach already knew about me, and tried to talk me into joining her state championship team. I freaked out though. At this point I remember my mom trying to get me to be on the team, and me fighting it. In hindsight, I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough to add value to the team, so I drug my feet a year. My sophomore year I threw, and made the varsity team, and racked up enough points to letter my first year out. Then my senior year I quit, never to be seen or heard from again. Wanted to go out on top, I guess. What a wanker I was.

So that’s it, I was a student athlete, all but my senior year, which was pretty blurry on account of all the parties and the weed, but I mean, not at all worth it. That’s what you asked wasn’t it?

M.

PS… Don’t do drugs kids.

Down the Worry Hole We Go

Since school is back in session, and things are back to normal around here, Jerimiah is back to his previously scheduled trips to Baton Rouge each month. This week he had to fly out on Labor Day in what sounds like, to me anyway, one of those “If I have to be here, then you do to” sorta deals that bosses do. So that’s fun. This is the second holiday he should have spent with us this year, but instead was in Baton Rouge (he was called to work on Fourth of July as well). Before June this was old hat. He flies out for one week a month and Jackson and I are left here to do the mundane daily stuff without him. It was tough at first because we are a tight unit, but it’s getting easier. This month though, after being with him for a full five weeks straight (wow!) it has been a bit more difficult.

Sunday night we all headed to bed like any other night. Jerimiah tucked Jackson in, but instead of saying, “I love you. We are going to have a great day tomorrow, I will see you in the morning.” He said, “I won’t see you in the morning, I will see you Friday night.” Jackson said okay, and we headed for bed. A few moments later a crying Jackson came into our bedroom saying that he was afraid something bad was going to happen to daddy. What if the plane crashed? What if he never made it home to us? Why was his brain making him think about this?

I sorta froze at first. Jerimiah jumped into action, called him into our bed, held him while he cried. I was just so damn shocked. Not because Jackson has never had worries or anxiety like this before, but because he had said something new, that I have been saying for a couple of years now, “Why was my brain making me think this way?” He knew it was a worry. He knew it was anxiety, but he didn’t know how to stop it. I jumped into therapy mode and tried to emulate what my therapist says to me. Tried to get to the root of this particular thought. Jackson and his class have been tracking the hurricane, was he scared about that? Daddy assured him that Louisiana was safe this time. But it wasn’t that.

I started to ask more questions. Was it because he had read about a plane crash the other day? We saw it in the newspaper together. Maybe, he said. Was it because when we hiked Stone Mountain that day, Daddy needed to sit down at one point, when Jackson and I didn’t? I got another maybe. The bottom line he said, is that he was afraid something bad was going to happen to us. Man, that is tough to hear. Maybe all kids have this worry, some just don’t admit to it? Maybe I’m overreacting, but this shook me pretty hard.

I remember when I was his age. My mom would go out at night and leave me alone at home. She would tell me to lock the doors, and have the phone by me in case I needed it. I was always afraid, but I never told her. I wasn’t afraid to be home alone. I wasn’t afraid that someone would break into our house, or try to hurt me. I was worried that my mom would not come home. This was around the time my worry and anxiety started, and I am afraid he will be the same.

He ended up sleeping with us that night. He snuggled in between us, and we lulled him to sleep with silly stories of the day. He was laughing before he drifted off, and right before the Uber came for Daddy in the morning daddy kissed him and told him that he loved him. Jackson shot up in bed and said bye, and that he loved his daddy, then drifted back off to sleep. For that I was glad.

Jerimiah’s plane landed fine. He did his day and week of work, and we will see him tonight. But there was worry and anxiety floating in the air this time, one that I am just learning to deal with, let alone help my son combat. I tried to keep him busy, have some good Mommy and son time, and of course talk to daddy every night. I’m just nervous this is the beginning to more worry and anxiety for my son. I’m nervous I passed my mental illness down to him. I’m worried I’m at fault.

Man, this parenting thing is tough. We blame ourselves a lot. We worry and we wait. And we are never quite sure if we are doing things the right way. Or what the hell the right way even is. I’m sure you’re all struggling with something today, so here I am, sending big hugs to all of you out there doing it today. You’re doing just fine, Momma. You’re rocking it, daddy! Things will be okay.

M.

Color Doesn’t Matter

I’m gonna stop you right there. Color does matter, and if you are one of these people walking around saying it doesn’t then you are not paying a lot of attention. Color matters. It matters so much in fact, that for us to brush it aside is actually, literally, killing people. Listen, I’m not stupid enough to think that just because you have uttered the phrase, “Color doesn’t matter” that you are a raging racist. I too have said this phrase in my life. I said it to my son when he was a little guy, trying to explain to him that it doesn’t matter that the kids on either side of him are different shades of brown (not that he cared, or even paid attention), but I said it to make myself feel better, to show that I was hip to this idea. I was, in my own way, trying to dumb something very complex, down, way down to my child, and possibly to myself. But I do not say that to my son anymore. In fact, he will be 11 years old next month and he is very aware now that color matters. It matters in everything we do.

Color mattering is what founded this country. If you were white, awesome! Welcome to this new land! If you were a Native American and already lived here, move over, walk 400 miles from your native Navaho Holy Land because we have better ways to make use of it. If you are black, no problem. You can be brought here, against your will, to be our slaves. Chinese? Want to build our railroads? You are smart, hard workers. Yeah, but you can only do that. See the trend here?

Our history is rife with color mattering, so when you tell your children that color doesn’t matter, you raise the very people that are part of the problem today. The white man who just doesn’t get why the Mexican-American man next to him is asking for a pay raise. You either think he makes the same as you already (but he does not, because color matters) or you think he doesn’t deserve more than you, after all, you are the white man. You don’t get why black people are scared of the police. You don’t believe there is such a thing as “white privilege” because to you, color doesn’t matter. Or at least it shouldn’t. And no it shouldn’t. But it does. And if we keep pretending that it doesn’t, then it always will.

So the next time you hear someone say, “Color doesn’t really matter. I don’t know why they are making such a fuss,” and you don’t step in, and you don’t explain to them why color does matter, well then, you’re just part of the problem. It’s time to take a stand, for everyone.

M.