Guns, Diplomas, and a Bar

We have just wrapped up Jerimiah’s birthday week, which was a little bizarre on account of the Covid-19 scare that happened halfway through, but still fun. If you’ll recall from previous posts we celebrate birthday weeks around here and give little gifts all week, until the finale on the person’s actual birthday. This year Jackson and I were at a loss on what to get Jerimiah. He’s sort of one of those people who never wants for anything for years and years, then suddenly he wants like, a new truck. Thankfully this was not a new truck year, so instead he asked for a new meat thermometer and a set of margarita glasses, so yeah, we didn’t have a lot to work with.

Jackson, who is currently obsessed with Call of Duty and SWAT teams, wanted to get Jerimiah a gun safe for his guns. The problem is, Jerimiah doesn’t have many guns, and the guns he does have he doesn’t really use. They are family guns that have been given to him over the years, and they sit around in long cases throughout the house. One tucked under a bed, one in a closet, an old German Mauser that I am pretty sure hasn’t been fired since like 1850. He just isn’t a “gun” person like our family (and Jackson) want him to be. He doesn’t hunt. He isn’t fearful for his life, feeling the need to keep semi-automatics around the house. He has a small array of these long guns that have been passed to him, and a nine mm that he keeps in a small safe in a location of the house neither Jackson nor I am privy to, with the bullets in a separate location. He’s a common-sense gun owner, if nothing else. So I compromised. I let Jackson pick out a gun rack for Jerimiah. One that he could sit the old, family rifles on. More like a display than anything else. That worked for Jackson and he went to work finding the perfect one.

Meanwhile, I asked his mom if she would get him some new frames for his diplomas, something simple and tasteful to stick in his home office, which has been his only office for the last four months. Then I set to work on reorganizing the office. Trying to decide what a real “man’s” office should be. Whatever that is. Whatever that isn’t, and well, with our powers combined I think we pulled it off. What follows is the redecoration/reorganization of Jerimiah’s office, complete with the added gun rack, a bar, and of course a bankers lamp, because every Controller needs one of those.

The Ascent of Jerimiah

Jerimiah was born on August 5th, 1981 at Mt. Carmel Hospital, a regional hospital in a small town in Southeast Kansas. The building itself was new, having been relocated in the late 1970s to a prime, 70-acre, $6 million lot in hopes of blossoming in a new era of hope, while shedding its reputation as a place of despair. It wasn’t the first renaissance the nearly-century-old hospital would see, and it was not the last. As it sits today it is the nearest level III trauma center option for people in a region of The Great Plains that sometimes has limited options.

Mt. Carmel Hospital was originally founded in 1903 by the Sisters of St. Joeseph of Wichita, Kansas. The same Wichita where Jerimiah would, 12 years after his birth at Mt. Carmel, attend middle school, the same Wichita that raised his mother. Mt. Carmel Hospital, though still standing as the good Sisters intended, has been through many transformations over the years and is now known as Ascension Via Christi Hospital. Quite the name. Quite the journey. A lot like Jerimiah.

Jerimiah’s parents chose his name based on initials. His uncle was John Robert (J.R.) Goodnight, and they wanted Jerimiah’s to be the same. So on August 5th, 1981 his mother scribbled the name onto his birth certificate paperwork, presumably on the labor and delivery floor of Mt. Carmel, either intentionally spelling her son’s name in contradiction to the Bible spelling of the same name because of her prophetic sense of who this child was, and who he would one day be. Or perhaps it was the slow IV drip she’d babied since the early morning hours. Or, you know, a typo. It was 1981, who can be sure.

What we can be sure of is that shortly after shedding his white blanket, with the pink and blue stripe every good, gendered, baby received from The Sisters of Mt. Carmel, the Jerimiah spelled with an “I” began his ascent to the loving, trusting, honest, hard-working, stubborn, educated, peaceful, kind man that he is today. That, and he stopped pooping in a diaper.

Jerimiah with an “I” has seen his fair share of ups and downs in his life. Like that time his older brother hoisted him into a tree by his overalls and let him hang around until someone else came by and took him down. Or that bright morning in high school when he decided to climb under his truck (while it was parked on a hill) to see what was going on, and he accidentally moved the gear into neutral and lay helpless as his truck ran over him. He was shaken by the truck, but had no broken bones. The torture of hanging outside in his overalls, well that had some further, lasting reach.

One can surmise a highlight of Jerimiah’s ascent to the man he is today, was set off by the love, kindness, tenacity, and beauty of his wife. Yes, that’s a fair assumption. Or perhaps it was the birth of his own J.R. Goodnight, in 2008. Either way, what Mt. Carmel, his mother, his brother, and his truck didn’t do to help, we certainly have. Gotta take credit where credit is due.

Which brings us to today (having skipped large swathes of time for reader enjoyment) Jerimiah with an “I”’s 39th rotation around the sun. Although I’ve only been part of 19 of those rotations, I am happy to have been part of the upward spiral, and incredibly excited about watching the next 39 work the same sort of magic, from the magic that lives, breathes, encapsulates the heart and soul of this amazing human being. Trust me, there’s more to come from Jerimiah with an “I”.

If you can squeeze in a happy birthday to this man today, I implore you to do so. And if not, that’s okay. He won’t think twice about it, and won’t have a mean thing to say. Unless you send him overalls.

Happy Birthday Jerimiah with an “I” from Mt. Carmel Hospital. May today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that continue your rise to the person your Momma expected you to be.

I love you the most.

M.

Day Four

It’s day four of antibiotics and steroids. I keep waiting to wake up and feel like a million bucks, but the bucks aren’t coming. Still self-isolating while I wait for my Covid-19 test results. Jackson and Jerimiah aren’t exhibiting any symptoms which is good, but I’m still worried. We hoped for results today, but that was being optimistic of us. Jerimiah said he had a “white man moment” assuming that we’d get the results back at the earliest point mentioned. He’s funny, and overthinks sometimes like I do, but honestly it’s all probably just backlogged here. Meanwhile, my symptoms haven’t slowed, and I’ve developed some new ones. I’m playing this game of trying to think up reasons for the symptoms, like maybe my muscles ache because I slept wrong, or maybe I couldn’t taste my food because my nose is stuffy. Things like that.

I have two modes in most crisis situations: I either overreact immediately or, because I know that is a possibility, I under-react (is that a word?) as a means to combat the craziness that tries to sneak in. I felt myself wanting to overreact on Friday when no doctor would see me in person, so I’ve been mitigating that with this fun game of, “Chill, girl. You’re good. This is all just a funny, little mix up.” Ugh. It’s stressful. Stress! Maybe that’s what is causing the constant headache and joint pain!

So there you go. Day four of symptoms that I don’t usually have, that align pretty closely to the symptoms of a global pandemic I’ve spent the last four months actively striving to keep away from, in the middle of my husband’s birthday week. I slept alone in our bed last night, we decided Jerimiah should move to the couch. He’s not all the way down in the guest wing in the basement, not yet. I won’t let him. That’s too final. For now, just the couch. Tomorrow, who knows.

Hope you’re all staying safe, and wearing your GD masks!

M.

It’s a Monday…

I’m not feeling particularly well these days. I woke up Thursday with what I thought might be a cold or a sinus infection, then Friday morning I woke up with a fever and body aches. I thought for a second that I was getting the flu, then realized it isn’t really flu season. Within three hours I was seen by a doctor via video chat, was starting a round of prednisone, and am currently in self-isolation until my Covid-19 results come back (I was able to do that so quickly because I have health insurance, money for an urgent care copay, and Emory University Hospital ten minutes away. I’ve been thinking all weekend about people who don’t have those things…) I feel horrible, but not just physically, mentally and emotionally too.

We are knee deep in Jerimiah’s birthday week. I had plans, lots of plans. But plans change. Yesterday the coughing started. I began to feel myself pulling away from hugging my kid. I won’t know for sure until I have the results, but it’s a scary time we live in.

Mentally I know I’ll be okay even if I do have it. Something like 80% of cases are mild and treated at home, but there’s always that other percentage. My biggest fear is passing it to others, which I may have mistakenly done not knowing I had it. If I have it.

Obviously it’s a damn Monday around here. Not the best one I’ve had in awhile, not the worst. Hoping for a call from the doctor today. Hoping for a negative test. Hoping it’s a sinus infection, that I will have more energy, that I will finish this week strong for my husband, not worry my son. Lots of hopes going out into the world today. If you’re sending some put will ya send one out for me too? I’d appreciate it.

Stay safe and sane, y’all. I’ll keep you posted.

M.

Birthday Week!

It’s the halfway point in Jerimiah’s birthday week, and we have been having a great, albeit unusual time. The things we normally do, have fun lunches out at new, hip places, do exciting day trips, maybe actually take a trip, are all off the table, so we have resorted to finding other ways to fill the hours. Like Thursday, when instead of a lunch date at a place near Jerimiah’s office, we all met at the hot tub (now called the cool tub on account of it being in summer mode) at 1:00 pm and had fruit salad and talked about life. I mean technically it was a lunch break near his office because his office is right off the dining room now, but still. Not the same, but workable.

Friday night we surprised Jerimiah with a movie night. We ordered pizza and watched “The Hunger Games”. Jackson has been reading the book and of course he had to finish it before we watched the movie, so he finished it in secret this week to be ready for movie night! He’s been really into this whole birthday week for Daddy, even picking out what little gift to give him each day, and working on a bigger surprise for next week.

Last night we arranged a Zoom call with friends for cake and games, but some unexpected things came up, so we rescheduled, and instead we got donuts, played board games, made some FaceTime calls, witnessed a crazy accident on the way to Kroger (I’ll tell y’all in another post) and drank some margaritas.

Today it’s s’mores in the backyard firepit and outdoor games as a family. Tomorrow who knows?! The possibilities are… limited. Ha! But I’m sure Jerimiah will appreciate our time together any way it is done.

So if you see him around (you won’t, we are staying home) but you know what I mean, say happy birthday week! He would appreciate it!

M.

Highlights so far!

M-I-Crooked Letter…

This MFA program I am starting in oh, 19 days, has me nervous, true. My inbox is full with submissions for our lit review, my email is blowing up with announcements, financial aid is like, Hellerrrrr, welcome back thanks for paying us, but you need to do this and this and this... Ahhh, it’s a lot. I forgot how demanding grad school was and I’ve literally only been out for two years. Okay, enough complaining, truth be told I have very little to complain about these days so I’m working on doing less of it. I’m actually here to say I am a wee, little bit excited about the program, and here is why.

First of all, the program is through Mississippi University for Women and no, it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s an old name that stuck around. And by the way, is anyone watching “P(ussy) Valley” on STARZ right now? If so, you know what I think of when I hear “M-I-Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, I, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, I, Humpback, Humpback, I”! 🙂 All good things, all good things. Anyway, this program is fairly new and mostly virtual. There are a few times a year where we will meet in person, two separate residencies on campus, or at AWP, then when you defend your thesis and graduate. They are doing everything through Zoom right now, though, so I am getting a great look at what the process is like and it has helped calm my nerves. I mean, I am still fighting imposter syndrome, but it’s nice to be included in all these festivities, albeit virtually.

They include everyone on all the progress of the current class, and they share small victories (and big ones) with each other through social media, email, and on Canvas. It’s pretty cool. I am seeing faces and recognizing names already and it is making me feel better. It looks like they have their shit together for being such a new program, which is what I read about them when I did my research, but it’s nice to know it is true. They are very inclusive and they want everyone to get to know each other. I like that, since one of the reasons I decided on an MFA was to meet like-minded people whom I could connect with in this broader thing we call life. Whew. I’m hopeful.

Anyway, no complaining here, just a bit of nervous excitement. I’m not sure if the fall residency will be in person or not yet, but I’m betting not. I certainly hope we will be free to travel by next spring because the AWP is scheduled for none other than, Kansas City! Haha! Yea. No, it’ll be good. Now, I guess go forth and find something to be hopeful about today!

You are wise. You are kind. You are compassionate.

M.

The Crown(line)

I have dental problems. Bad teeth. Always have. It started when I was about 12 and had braces for two years. Since then it’s been one thing after another. My cavities as a child, turned into root canals as an adult, and finally concluded with the mack daddy of them all last year, my first implant. No, not breast implants. We are talking about teeth here, y’all. I have an implant that cost me the equivalent of a used boat. Like, if I could go back in time, collect all the money I have put into my mouth and use it to buy a boat, I could buy a used 2008 Crownline. For actual real. I could be these assholes:

Don’t they look happy? Out on the boat for a fun, lake-day excursion. Instead, I spent another two hours in the damn dentist chair the other day as I had build-up done for yet another porcelain crown. This makes crown number four in my mouth, not counting the implant. Which would glimmer in the sunlight while I was out on my 2008 Crownline.

While I was at the dentist the other day, I had a new experience: I almost drowned. No, I was not in my used 2008 Crownline, you guys, the used 2008 Crownline doesn’t exist, I have the worth of it in my mouth. Instead, I almost drowned in the dentist chair.

There I was, all the way reclined in the chair, the dentist on one side of me, the assistant on the other, and they were working away with water and suction and a saw or something, when I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe through my mouth cause the water was going down my throat, and I couldn’t breathe from my nose because there was so much water it was going up into my nose. I tried to motion for them to stop, but they didn’t see me. I thought, Missy, maybe you are overreacting, you’re not drowning, just take some calming breathes. So I tried to take some calming breaths, but I actually COULD NOT BREATHE! So I slammed my hands into theirs (probably not safe in hindsight) and sat up quickly. Then I started coughing up all the actual water that was in my nose and throat. They assured me I was fine and apologized (well kind of, they never actually said sorry, but the assistant did put her hand on my shoulder in a comforting way). The dentist positioned the chair up higher and I felt him move the suction for the assistant, and they started again. And wouldn’t you know it, within a minute I was drowning again! You guys! This went on a couple more times. They would take a break, I would cough, the dentist handed me a Kleenex to cough the water up into, and they would go again. I honestly don’t know what was happening. That has never happened to me before. So I’m not sure if my nose parts are moving, or if the assistant was new and doesn’t really know how the suction works, but it was the least fun I’ve had at the dentist, and y’all, I’ve had some miserable times at the dentist.

I’m alive. That’s the good news. And I’ve instructed Jerimiah to sue the shit out of them if I do die in the chair, but come on, that should not be a worry. So if y’all have any advice for next time, I’d appreciate it. I go back in a few weeks and I’m over this shit. I’m seriously considering pulling all my teeth out, selling the ones I can, and buying a Crownline. That promises better days ahead…

Ahoy!

M.

What Happens Then?

I know everyone has their own feelings about what should happen to the school year, and if you are paying attention you know that my kid wasn’t going back even if he was going back, ya dig? Luckily, our school district decided to start back with 100% virtual classes in a few weeks, but I know there are some parents and teachers still waiting to see what the hell is going to happen. I don’t remember ever being in a position as a parent that is as tough as this one, and there are some tough situations. The idea that we have no idea what really happens when you get large groups of kids in a room together in the days of Coronavirus. The stress it is causing parents who have to go back to work, who are already back at work, who are worried all the time about what will happen to them, let alone their children, but being in a situation where you have to send them somewhere? Man, it’s tough.

I’m lucky. Make no bones about that. I don’t teach. I work from home. My husband has been working from home since March and his company doesn’t see an end to that anytime soon. We have one child. He’s pretty self-sufficient. I’m an introvert. It’s like I was totally prepared in life for a global pandemic of this magnitude. But I know that is not the common case. It’s easy for me to forget that, on my quiet, suburban cul-de-sac, where everyone drives a VW or a Honda. We all have bike racks. We hike for fun on weekends. We take whitewater rafting trips. We go to the beach, then to NYC. Give freely to charity. Take up causes close to our heart because we have the time. We work from home when we feel like we need to. We host backyard parties and book clubs. We are members of the PTA, PTO, and all the Boosters. We have Saturday game nights with friends. We stand languidly in our driveways talking to our neighbors about that “one house” and rising property taxes, and capital improvement projects that might wreck our quiet street. We talk about private schools, lotteries, the inevitable spiral into politics, liberals of course, all of us. The more good for the most people. Jesus, we are so out of touch.

This is me, admitting that I have let my cushy life take me down a peg. I have friends, good friends, best friends, right now who are so stressed that they can’t sleep at night, worried about going back into the classroom. What happens if one of their kids get sick? What happens if a mom gives her fever-ridden 1st grader Tylenol to pass the temperature check (security theater, all of it, Y’all) and then by lunch time has infected others? What happens when the class has to quarantine and class goes virtually anyway, only they aren’t prepared for it this time? What happens when the first teacher dies? How many grief counselors will it take? How much money will his/her family get from the school district when the civil court cases start pouring in? That’s a lot for the schools and teachers to consider and it isn’t even scratching the tip of the iceberg. What happens when a teacher is asymptotic and infects her whole family? What happens when the first kindergartner dies from Covid-19 just from going to her school? What happens then?

What about working parents? They have to work. They have to. The economy is back open and their companies don’t give a shit about them, they better be there at 8:00 am. So where does the single mom send her first grader if school is closed? A daycare? Isn’t that more of the same? Kids crammed into a little space? Only this time he doesn’t know all these new faces. Do they hire a babysitter? Who has the money for that? What about the parents with five kids at home? The home with the abusive father? The kids who don’t have running water? In America?! You want to shout. Yes, in America. What about the kids who have no books at home? No internet? No clean clothes? There are kids that go to school dirty, no shower, unwashed heads and bodies, everyday in this great country of ours. What is happening to them right now? What will happen to them if they can’t get to school? Get two hot meals and a snack each day? What happens then?

I don’t pretend to have any answers. Because I have no answers. I’m sitting back, my mouth shut, listening to the professionals. And the professionals in this case are the scientists, the teachers, the educators, the administrators. The people who know their kids and their communities, and every kid and every community is different. But I do know who I am not listening to. I am not listening to the economists. I am not listening to the politicians. I am not listening to Wall Street, or the gross business owners who are getting millions of dollars in paycheck protection and buying expensive cars, while their employees frighteningly watch the school board meetings being cast out on local public television, waiting patiently for an answer, one they don’t want. One they want. One that suites absolutely no one. And when the answers come, all I can think is what happens then?

M.

Spades and Hearts

There’s an interesting thing that happens in Small Town, USA. When one of the “pretty girls” who barely graduates high school, marries a man with a little money, after her inevitable “Sleeping with as many men as she can” phase (no shame here ladies, you do you, BooBoo!) she settles down, with the man with money. Maybe he owns his own small business. Maybe he has inherited a bit of cash. Maybe he has inherited the small business and some cash, but either way he’s the best thing she’s ever had, and they get married. Now she already has a kid or two from other men (that’s she has most surely missed out on from time to time on account of her partying well into her 20s), but the nice, business man takes them on as his own. Then suddenly, this trashy, “street-wise” girl is an upstanding citizen in the small town she grew up in. Funny thing is though, many of the people who knew her way back when, still remember her. So she has two choices: She either embraces who she was, who she has always been, or she starts to turn on them. Even turning her back on the people who knew her the best.

Now let me stop for a second because you are probably like this sounds really pointed, Missy. Sure. I know some people who have done this, and they now believe themselves to be a big fish in a small pond, because, well they are. It’s true, they are big fish, but the point is actually really very small, and kind of trashy. The fish are stocked. And they are farm-raised. Eww. But the person I am envisioning right now could be any woman, in any small town, in any community, a woman so rooted in fear, hate, and ignorance that she can only thrive on putting other women down. She’s incredibly shallow and so materialistic that she enjoys talking money with people that she suspects has less than her, so she can, what? Feel better about herself? I suppose if she were happy in her life, like really happy, she wouldn’t be this way. But she isn’t. She’s actually very unhappy. If she were a kind person, she wouldn’t need to embarrass those same friends who have stood by her, even at her worst, and believe me, we’ve heard the stories, saw them with our own eyes, there were worsts. But she isn’t kind or nice. And she isn’t classy. Which is ironic and sad, because that is the only thing she actively strives to be, yet she never will attain.

Yeah, we all know someone like this, and we all talk in certain circles about how horrible of a person she is, some of us even pray for her, some of us just stay far away from her. But we can’t anymore, y’all. We have to call a spade a spade. Call it like we see it. She will. She likes to remind us that she speaks truth, even the hard stuff, but we know that’s a lie. She only speaks rudeness and abrasion. She couldn’t speak truth if it came up and bit her. All her truth is filtered thorough a set of rose-colored glasses sprinkled with money and privilage. Like when someone accuses her child of say, raping a girl he went to high school with, she can say, “Well, I never…” in a raspy kinda way. And go on to talk about all his accolades, as if he isn’t an actual piece of shit. Rose colored glasses. Money. Privilege. Yes, we all know someone like this, but what should we call her? I have an idea, let’s give her a nickname let’s call her “T”. Yes, “T”, short for “Texarkana.” So who is this Texarkana?

Texarkana didn’t have the best life growing up, but who did? Most normal people battle against the current, try as they might to make something better of themselves. But not Texarkana. She just relied on men to bring her all the things she wanted. Just like how she now relies on the outside world to keep a spotlight on her. To fulfill her desires. Because she can never fulfill them herself. Oh Texarkana, you are enough, if you’d just look within. Or go to therapy. Yeah, therapy would probably help you a lot. Something about inflated ego. But instead you self-medicate. It’s okay a lot of common people do.

Texarkana likes to say things like, “Remember when…” because she likes to envision herself as she used to be. Way back when. Wayback When Texarkana had so much joy, pure joy, albeit not a lot of money (she still doesn’t by the way, she just has a lot of debt, you can pull public records and see that) and Texarkana likes to talk about how “badass” she was back then. As if physically fighting other women is a mark of a pure genius. That’s that lack of education I eluded to earlier, are y’all following along? Ra, ra, ra! Go Texarkana!

Texarkana likes to invite people to her house. People she assumes have never been in such a self-described “lovely” place. Then she likes to talk about how much she paid for this, or how much she paid for that. You know those people. The ones who think money makes you a good person. It’s sad, and a little bit outdated. I’m speaking of both Texarkana and the lovely house. They both need some work on the inside. But the visitors smile and nod anyway, they have to, or she won’t invite them to drink her medication, err, booze.

Something I’ve noticed about people, growing up poor like I have, wealthy people, like really, really wealthy people, never discuss money. Not with their friends, not in mixed company. They only discuss assets and money with their accountants. They never say things like, “My house is worth $1.2 Million” (wouldn’t “T” love to have a house that nice!) instead they say things like, “We’d love to have you join us at our summer home in The Hamptons sometime,” and they truly mean it. Class speaks for itself. Trash, well, it has to do all the talking.

Which brings me back to “T” and her constant, oppressive desire to make all her “old” friends, the ones who know the truth about her, the way she really is, feel like shit because they didn’t “make it” like she did. But in reality she just needs to keep them in check. Needs to make sure that they know she is the spade Queen, in case they get out of line. In case they say something like, “Remember when you slept with So-and-So?” and So-and-So is not a likable fellow, she can smack them, figuratively of course, by saying something like, “Have you paid that large debt off that you owe?”

“T” thrives on making herself feel better by putting others down. No one is off limits. She will only tell you the best things about her kids, and never the worst, while often reminding you of all the bad stuff your kids do. But come on, we’ve met her kids. She dropped the proverbial parenting ball big time. But remember the free booze and her Instagrammable backyard?! She will make you feel bad about your kids, your divorce, your grandma. She will talk about you behind your back, then embrace you when you walk in her “lovely” door, all the while smiling that knowing smile to her “rich” (read: equally in debt) friends behind your back. Have you ever felt like everyone is looking at you when you walk into a room? It’s because “T” told the whole room your dirty little secrets before you got there in order to make herself seem important. She’s such a great friend, isn’t she?

Now every once in a while a funny thing happens to “T”. Something doesn’t exactly go her way. Her stock plummets. Not real stock, she puts all her money in home accents and ATVs. No her brand, her reputation. Something happens outside of her control and it makes her look bad. It makes her outside match her inside. Maybe her husband loses an important business client. Maybe her drunk brother resurfaces. Maybe her child marries someone she rather despises like a butcher or a mechanic! Oh my! A mechanic, well we all know mechanics are not the highest class of people. The drama! It’s okay, no worries. Texarkana lives for this shit. I mean, when your whole world revolves around what others think of you, and you have very little worth inside, you have to love drama, it is escapism at its finest.

But this plummeting of stock is when we see “T” at her finest. Oh, glory, glory! She starts plotting and planning! How can she turn this into a win? How can she get the universe back into her favor? You’re right, on the backs of other people. Her friends. Her own family. She starts fights within the groups, pits this one against that one. Uses her control (money) to buy affection, alliance. She will plant an idea in the simple brain of the simple people she keeps around her, then watch as it sprouts and grows. As those simple-minded people then turn on their own friends and family. Wow, maybe “T” isn’t as uneducated as we think? I mean she lacks book smarts, sure, but when you can get a mother and daughter to turn on each other, ones who have nothing to do with your life, that’s impressive. And also like, really, really pathetic. Don’t you sorta want to grab “T” and yell, “Get a life, girl! Go to college! Get a hobby! You’re more than this. You have self worth! I hope you can find it!” Did I mention Texarkana is extremely jealous of big, happy families who love and support each other? Two guesses why that is…

Now let’s discuss the people who let her treat them the way they do. You might be wondering, what kind of hold does she have over them? And if your guess is money, you’d be right. There is no friendship still there. They don’t like her, not really, and she certainly wishes they would go away, but everyone is aging (did I mention “T” isn’t aging well? All those days spent in tanning beds in the 90’s.) Anywho, as we age we start to feel nostalgic for those people who knew us when we were all cranked out on MiniThins and going to three different tanning beds a day to tan for a solid hour. So the people who knew her, her best friends, start to come around more. They want to drink wine and talk about the good days. But you can’t have real, honest-to-God talks with “T”. You can’t have them with anyone who thinks they are a better person that you at their core, just because they are a small business owner and you make $14/hr. There’s too much space, too many bad words (even if you don’t know she said them) to make much headway. So you go to her “lovely” house. You sit on her “lovely” deck. You drink her boxed wine, and you discuss the good old days through those rose-colored glasses she is so fond of. But in reality, you’d rather be somewhere else, she’d rather you be somewhere else. You remind her of a girl she is desperately trying to run from, all these decades later. She’s full of shame and guilt. You’re full of shame and guilt. But she has the money and credit to go buy a new car today if she wants to. So she wins.

It makes me think about Trump. What, come on Missy, why you always gotta bring Trump up?! No hear me out! The people who LOVE Trump, his honest supports, of which “T” and her whole family are, the real Trump supporters don’t really even like him. They don’t know enough about him to like him. They like the idea of him. They only vote for him for three distinct reasons:

1. They desperately want to BE him. They wish they had Trump money and power. They have a small taste of it in their little, trashy pond, just enough where they feel like Trump would love them if they met. They think they are so much like him that he would totally love and respect them if they met. Ha! They really think that, I promise! They are sitting, right now, in their little 4,000 square feet, barely more than half a million dollar house (public records, y’all) and they think they are just like Trump! True story.

2. They have so much hate in their hearts that they want him to be the president just so they can say, “WE WON! WE WON!” and call you a Snowflake or something, while they prance around in their red hats. They have to always believe they are winning at life. Always. Otherwise they downward spiral.

3. They are desperately afraid. They are so afraid that their way of life, the one they have carefully curated over literal decades will somehow be taken from them. Maybe they will have to pay more taxes. Maybe their “poor” friends will get a leg up on them if they finally get affordable health insurance. Maybe people in their periphery, the ones coming up behind them, the ones making more money, living well-adjusted, meaningful lives, the happy youth (raise you hand here), will take over and they will be left with, what? They certainly don’t have their self-worth to fall back on. So good thing that have that old house?

Well, I’m spent. Here’s the gist, y’all. If you have a Texarkana in your life you have get the courage to stand up to her or him. To finally call a spade a spade, because make no mistake, they will call it if you don’t. Only the spade they call will actually be a heart they have twisted in their small, common minds to look like a spade, then they will run out and tell everyone it is a spade before you can get a chance to defend your heart.

As for Texarkana, I can only hope she uses her fast-approaching senior years to learn more about the world, to step outside her comfort zone, to learn and grow as a person. I don’t hate the Texarkanas of the world. I know it may seem like that, but y’all know I don’t hold hate in my heart like that. But I also don’t admire her, and I certainly don’t respect her. How can you respect a person who preys on the simple, the weak, the less fortunate? In fact, a whole lot of the people she surrounds herself with don’t actually admire and respect her. They placate her. They see her life, her marriage, her kids. The fact that she has to work so hard all day, everyday just to keep up the facade in order to feel better about herself, and they pity her. They pray for her. Her name is passed around in Baptist prayer circles for wishing her some peace and kindness in her heart. They know that she has struggles, has had them, still continues to have them, just like they do, but that unlike them, she refuses to acknowledge her real struggles, with your real heart. She keeps that spade around instead. But there they are, still coming around, probably for the free booze, but also, more likely, because they are the hearts, and they wish more for her. There was a time when she had those real people, their kindness, their true friendship, their whole hearts. She had their admiration and respect. But she lost them. I hope it was worth it for her.

M.

Silverware Drawer

I have been plagued, plagued I tell you, by the consistent, oppressive belief that my silverware drawer is out to get me. You read that right. My. Silverware. Drawer. It’s trying to kill me. Let me back up. Have you ever noticed the bits of whosies and whatsies that just like, end up in the silverware drawer? Do your whosies and whatsies end up in your silverware drawer? Am I the only one? You know what, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. No. Maybe you should tell me. Shoot me a DM and tell me. No! Text me! No! Send me a strongly worded, but acutely finessed email about it. No! A carrier pigeon! Send me a carrier pigeon with a list of the whosies and whatsies that have ended up in your silverware drawer without your knowledge or explicit consent.

I’ve got thingamabobs. I’ve got plenty. In my silverware drawer I have: Four corkscrews, seven corn on the cob holders (yeah, that’s not a full set), chopsticks purchased for me as a gift in Hong Kong, chopsticks from Hunan Palace (my local place where the day shift guy, Eddie, yells at me and slaps at my hand when I take too many fortune cookies), my dog’s rabies tag from 2018, plastic straws, silicone straws, metal straws, straws from Cookout and The Varsity, forks, small ones, big ones, one weird salad fork that doesn’t match the rest, butter knives, spoons, big spoons, little spoons, and a tea spoon (like the long one you use for iced tea, but only one and we don’t use it for iced tea, we use it to dig the last remnants of mayo out of the jar), this thing that Jackson made in art class in second grade that I thought was a spoon, but turns out it was a clay replica of his shoe, crumbs (how do the crumbs get in there?!), lids for travel cups we no longer own, at least three sticks of gum, a handful of sugar packets, a cheese-cutting utensil set, a calligraphy pen someone thought was a spoon (??), Crystal Light packets circa 2012, one rubber glove, a meat thermometer that no longer works, and not one, but three popsicle sticks that may or may not be used.

Y’all. You all. My silverware drawer is gonna kill me one day.

Be safe out there.

M.

Dentist Appointment Monday

Headed to the dentist today. A dentist appointment on a Monday morning. Man, I wasn’t thinking. I loathe the dentist. My teeth are not great. Never have been, matter fact. They were crooked as a kid. I had braces for two years, then ever since I’ve had problem after problem. I’ve had five root canals, I have a lovely (incredibly expensive) implant, and countless cavities. My teeth are too big and my mouth is too small. It’s not fun.

Today is just a cleaning though. I’m hoping for good news, but I always expect bad. I wonder if that’s why people fear/loathe the dentist? The bad news? The feeing like everything is okay, then BAM! It’s not. I brush. I floss. I rinse. Still, bad news gets me. I guess it could be the shots too. The reason people don’t like to go to the dentist. Or maybe it’s the expense. Seems I never walk out of there without paying a couple of grand. That’s WITH dental insurance, mind you.

Okay. How about this? How about I hope for good news today. Period. End of sentence. And we will just see what happens. Sure. Yeah. Let’s do that. Wish me luck.

Hope you have a lucky Monday with some good news on the horizon!

M.

It’s Almost Time

My husband’s birthday is approaching. He turns 39 on August 5th, and we absolutely celebrate birthday weeks around here, so technically we start celebrating this week! I am so excited because I have some things cooking (no literally, eww, I hate cooking) and I am hoping it all falls into place. Jackson has been particularly pumped about Daddy’s birthday week, even picking out a few gifts himself, and readying himself to spend some quality time with Daddy, not playing video games, so you know he is serious. Of course this is the last good week of the year for me, so I’m trying to go all out.

August usually creeps up on me from out of nowhere and this year is no different. In fact, it’s really surprising because it just doesn’t feel like it should be August already, but here we are. August starts out great with Jerimiah’s birthday week, but then it goes downhill fast. August is the month that my daughter was born. The month she died. August starts school. Usually I’m sad to send Jackson back. This year of course he isn’t technically leaving me, which is cool, but usually it makes me even more sad. Then comes my birthday, which ehh, it used to be exciting but I turn 39 on September 10th, and for some reason 39 is scaring me, not empowering me. I am working on it.

Then it’s Jackson’s birthday on October 1st, so I get a little excited again, then comes fall. And with fall usually comes a cloudy depression that takes me a few months to get out of. It’s like I have to work so hard to make it from August 6th to October 2nd, that I finally breakdown. Ugh. I know, I know, if you know this Missy then why don’t you take some proactive measures? I do. Trust. This is Missy doing well.

So that’s where we are. Back at the end of July. Back at wondering where our summer went. Where this horrible fucking year went. Knowing as bad as it was, it still wasn’t the worst year I’ve ever had. All that knowing. All that thinking. Well, I’m ready to party for the next week anyway!

Sham on!

M.

Cards! Cards! Cards!

My mother-in-law makes cards. Yes, cards. Like paper cards that you send people. Like the kinda of cards that are legit $8 at the grocery store and you’re like why the hell am I spending $8 on a card to tell someone happy birthday when I could just call them and say it? My husband strongly dislikes store-bought cards. He doesn’t get why people send them, spend so much money on them, etc. He does like homemade cards, however, and it is important to note that for him a homemade card can be a piece of white printer paper folded in half and written on. No class, this man. I like all kinds of cards, but I prefer homemade cards. However, as it sits, I have three store-bought cards decorating my desk at this very moment because of how awesome they are and who sent them to me! Because in reality the card doesn’t so much matter, as what is written on the inside. My husband and I both agree on that part. Look here:

Tell me who doesn’t want to be sent a card that says, “You are a fierce lady-dragon who breathes fire upon trolls, haters, and mansplainers”?! Who doesn’t want that card?! Okay, whew, take some breathes, Lady-Dragon.

So my MIL has a crafting room wherein she sets up shop and makes wonderful, beautiful cards. She has like the dream crafting room, y’all. Like if you have ever thought, hmm, I need a crafting room, it is what you envisioned. Shelves lined with paper, and fabric, every kind of scissor you could need, and several work stations, not to mention a full-size fridge and a television. It’s legit. Anyway, she sits in there and crafts cards. She comes up with ideas and just makes them. They are pretty cool and many of them are quite unique. She also teaches card-making classes via Facebook Live to little old ladies who want to learn the art of card-making. For real, not making any of this up.

So when quarantine started, and we began sending out letters and cards to friends and family on the reg, my MIL signed me up for this card-making kit that is shipped to my house once a month. That way I would always have fresh cards to make. It is very simple, it all comes in one box with instructions, and I can sit down for an hour and end up with 12 cards. It’s a pretty cool deal.

Here’s what it looks like:

Below is a card I made last month with my first “summer” pack. I went rogue on this one, made one that wasn’t in the instructions. I didn’t follow instructions? What? Imagine that. It’s the only one I have left because I sent the rest of them out, they were super cute!

Anyway, this isn’t like an advertisement or anything. I’m not getting paid to write this, in fact my MIL has paid for my subscription, so it’s all free to me, I just wanted to share a thing I do that brings me quiet joy. I like it because I don’t have to be creative. Sometimes I do not feel creative, but I want to be creative, you know? So I can pull out the card box and follow the instructions and voila! I have a stack of cards. Then I can write to my friends and family and they are cute and unique and the whole process was quick and easy.

Jackson also likes to make the cards. He likes to take a lot of liberties with the ones he makes, and he HATES to actually write them to anyone, so it’s usually a battle. But we get it done. I also have postcards for him to send out since they take less time and energy and he can get back to playing Minecraft. (Eye roll).

So if you have received A LOT of cards from me recently, you know why now! I have become dependent on them over the last few months and as soon as I make them I want to send them out. Which led me to the nursing homes that are looking for penpals for their people. What? You haven’t heard of this?! Well then, read this article, then check out Victorian Senior Care on Instagram! You won’t regret it.

Now go forth and do something that makes you happy today, y’all! I will be making cards from my new box.

M.

This month’s box came with some tea light bags. I realized that you could stick any color paper inside though, and send them in the envelopes to whomever you want. You can write on the inside paper, then when they open it they have a tea light bag too. Cute! I was so excited when I figured that out. I’m so fucking basic. SMH. Beware, some of y’all getting these in the mail…

Write, Bitch!

I have a playlist on my computer titled “Write, Bitch!” and its sole purpose is to motivate me to write. Seriously. I’m aggressive toward myself, obviously. I rely a lot on self-shame. Anywho, what’s on your playlist, Missy? Well I’m glad you asked there’s really a little of everything. Some Ani DiFranco, Good Old War, Mumford and Sons… You know what, why I don’t just make a list, y’all know I love a good list. I’ll share some of the songs on my very long playlist that is supposed to shame me into writing and maybe some of the songs (contrary to what you might think, I don’t only listen to Adele and Snoop Dogg) will help you too. Fingers crossed!

Now go forth and listen to some good tunes today, even if they aren’t mine!

M.

Write, Bitch! Playlist

  • White Blank Page by Mumford and Sons
  • Amazing Eyes by Good Old War
  • 32 Flavors by Ani DiFranco
  • Lost Boy by Ruth B.
  • Take Me to Church by Hozier
  • California Stars by Billy Bragg and Wilco
  • Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event featuring Calder Quartet
  • Holes by Passenger
  • Flowered Dresses by Slaid Cleaves
  • Down to the River to Pray by Alison Krauss
  • Flowers in Your Hair by The Lumineers
  • Alabama by across Canadian Ragweed
  • Texas and Tennessee by Lucero
  • When the Stars Go by Blue Ryan Adams
  • Talladega by Eric Church
  • Blues in the Night by Katie Melua
  • Same in Any Language by I Nine
  • Grapevine Fires by Death Cab for Cutie
  • The Dark is Rising by Mercury Rev
  • Africa by Weezer
  • Anyone Else But You by The Moldy Peaches
  • Standard Lines by Dashboard Confessional
  • Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
  • Mexican Moon by Concrete Blonde
  • Twin Falls by Built to Spill
  • River Lea by Adele
  • I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers
  • Who We Are by Ward Thomas
  • Blowing Smoke by Kacey Musgraves
  • Same Drugs by Chance the Rapper
  • Take it All Back 2.0 by Judah & the Lion
  • Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
  • Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
  • All of Me by John Legend

Sitting with Anxiety

Patsy asked me to do something yesterday that felt very odd, at first. Patsy is my therapist and I like her a lot, and I was telling her yesterday that I am in a bad place right now. I can’t sleep. I’ve lost motivation. I’m moving quickly toward a bout with depression, and of course I’ve done all I’m supposed to do. I’m working out three to four days a week. I’m taking my pills. I’m eating well. I’m taking walks. I’m trying to write. I have no “real” worries right now. My husband is employed. My son is doing well. But for some reason, I can’t get it together. My anxiety is peaking. Patsy asked me about my anxiety. Why is it bothering you now? She wanted to know. She started talking about my anxiety as it wasn’t a part of me, but rather a separate entity that was preying on me. It felt weird.

Next she asked me to close my eyes and envision the anxiety. What did it look like? What did it sound like? What, most importantly, did it want from me? Of course this was all over Zoom. We still aren’t meeting face to face because Coronavirus, so it wasn’t working as she liked. She instead told me to find a quiet place later and do this activity. Write it down if I needed to. Try to figure out what the anxiety needs. Open a line of communication. It sounded a bit bizarre, but I trust Patsy. Moreover, as soon as she said that looking at your anxiety as a separate entity can sometimes help, without even thinking much about it, this image popped into my head. Like she was still talking about this process. About EMDR, trauma patients, etc, and I was already envisioning the way my anxiety looks, acts, feels, reacts to my questioning.

So later I did what Patsy suggested. I drew a picture of an office chair. Fun and funky. Bright colors and a nifty pattern. I then closed my eyes and envisioned that I asked the Anxiety to come and sit with me. And well, he did.

He’s not very pretty, is he? He’s a he. Of course he is. I can’t really describe him. I tried to describe him to Jerimiah, and the best I could come up with is that he is a blob of chaos. Very dark. Bright eyes. So there he is. He doesn’t have a name, he doesn’t deserve one. He’s just Anxiety, and he’s a real asshole.

Turns out he feeds on worry, uncertainty, and chaos. He gropes me. Attacks me. Latches on to me when things seem to be going okay on the outside. He relies on lies. He relies on uncertainty to get me down. He’s very good at what he does. He is swift. He’s always around waiting to be fed.

I’m sure there is more to this exercise, and once I can get back into the office with Patsy I’ll ask her to walk me through it, but this is as far as I got today. I’m not sure I want to venture further in without her. But I did want to share with you all, because the biggest take away I got from this was that Anxiety comes and goes, but does not define me. He is mean. He is hurtful. He causes chaos, but he is not me. I am not him. And I guess I’ll keep fighting him, probably forever, but at least now I know who I am fighting.

I hope you all know who is with you and against you, today. What is with you, what is against you.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.