Hey, It’s Jackson!

Walking down the hall of my kid’s school with him, is like walking on stage with a rock star. Seriously. Since he was in kindergarten it has been this way. In kindergarten he was popular because he walked with an air of confidence. He was one of the few kids that went into school knowing how to read. He could read. He could write. He could color inside the lines. But above all else, my kid was confident. He didn’t cry on the first day like I did in kindergarten. He didn’t watch, misty-eyed as we walked out the door and left him behind with Ms. Gamble. Instead, he sat at attention. He helped the girl in front of him line up correctly. He volunteered to lead the line. He took Mrs. Turner’s hand and walked into the unknown with a smile on his face. And well, it is still the same today.

I was scared for a little while. When we moved him in the middle of third grade, I was terrified. We moved from a rural area in North Carolina into a school system that was very different than where we had been. He had been at a public school, an “A” public school, where 98% of the kids looked like him, and talked like him, and came from the upper ranks of the socioeconomic tiers. His new school was a STEM school. But it was also an urban charter school where he was a minority.

But by the end of third grade he had friends in every classroom. He knew all the teachers’ names. They all knew his. Fourth grade teachers already knew about him. Fifth grade teachers already knew about him. The Gifted teacher was eager to get her hands on him. In short, he did just fine with the transition. And then we moved in the middle of fourth grade.

We hadn’t planned on this, of course. Truth be told, we were hoping to stay in Charlotte until middle school at least. Hoping he would only know two elementary schools. Two I could deal with. But three? We scoped out his new elementary school the day we signed the papers on the new house. He wasn’t with us. Jerimiah and I came alone that day. We walked in not knowing what to expect. We hadn’t heard the best things about Atlanta’s schools, but then again, we were coming from Charlotte, so it kinda felt like home.

Turns out we made the right choice. His new school is a public school in DeKalb County. It isn’t an “A” school, but it doesn’t have to be, because it is an IB school. It is a STEM school. He isn’t a minority, but not all the kids look like him or speak like him. They have a Spanish immersion class. They have art, and music, and sports. It is a heck of a lot different than anything we have known, yet it’s exactly the same.

I walked Jackson to class yesterday to have a quick chat with is teacher. We are headed out of town tomorrow and he is going to miss a test. I wanted to make sure he would be allowed to make it up, and yes he will be. While we were walking down the halls of this fairly new school (this is his third week of classes) it all felt very familiar.

“Hey Jackson!” and “Jackson Goodnight!” and “Good morning, Jackson” rang out all around us. Teachers, administrators, second graders. They all know Jackson. The janitor gave him a high five. A kindergartener said, “Hey, it’s Jackson!” and pointed. To hear him tell the story, though, you’d think no one knows him, well until he digs in.

Jackson isn’t special just because he walks with an air of confidence, he’s special because he is friendly. He is kind. Turns out that kindergartner was wearing a shirt with a car on it one day, and Jackson walked up to him and said, “Wow, I like your shirt! I love cars too.” The kindergartner blushed and said, “Thanks.”

When Jackson meets the janitor in the hallways, he tells her “Thanks, you know, for picking up after us and keeping the bathrooms clean.”

When Jackson met the Assistant Principal he said, “I really like what you’ve done with the place.”

When Jackson met the STEM teacher he said, “I love STEM and am so excited about your class.”

When Jackson met the music teacher he said, “I’m not a very good singer, but one day I’ll probably have a record deal.” Well, he’s still a little confident.

The point is, Jackson notices people. He notices their hard work. Their dedication. Their cool style. And he says something, something nice. He gives a compliment. He doesn’t expect anything back. He just wants them to know he likes them, or he respects them, or they have crossed his mind. And that is what garners attention from people. From kids and adults. Kindness. Confidence. Vulnerability.

I guess today I am wishing to be a little more like my kid. A little more kind to everyone I meet. A little more confident. A little more vulnerable. To really put myself out there. I think maybe it would serve us all well to be this way from time to time. You never know, when you leave a room someone might just be saying your name in awe as well.

Here’s to being more like Jackson!

M.

Sports Nutsomuch

My husband has a couple of t-shirts in his rotation that make me cringe. Not because they are old, torn, raggedy shirts, but rather because they are nice t-shirts of the “athletic team” variety. He has, for example, a lovely NY Mets shirt that he wears on occasion for both its comfort and its convenient three-quarter sleeve. He bought it at Macy’s. Yes, that Macy’s. The one on Herald Square. The biggest, most beautiful Macy’s there is. He bought it in late March, when their Spring Flower Show was astounding travelers with giant tulips, and wreaths made of daffodils and gold. He bought it on a trip that he and I took together. A child-less getaway. My first time at that Macy’s. He bought it because we were in NYC. Because he likes blue. And because it was on sale. He did not buy it because he is a Mets fan. Therein lies the cringeworthy problem.

I hate watching him explain to unsuspecting Mets fans that he is in fact not a fan. Not that he hates the Mets. Oh contraire, he just doesn’t keep up with baseball, or well any sport for that matter. He doesn’t watch college basketball, and couldn’t (on most days) tell you anything about any football team, even his beloved Green Bay Packers. He doesn’t watch football on Sundays. He used to. Then we had a baby, and well, Sundays are family days now, not football days.

I have a husband who pretends to be a sports fan, and I am okay with that. Sometimes he pretends for my sake. I am a college basketball fan. And he will watch a game with me if I flip the television on and say, KU is beating North Carolina. He mainly likes to watch my reactions. #FuckUNC

He will take me to baseball games. He does like actually going to baseball games. We both like the experience of being in the stadium, cheering on the home team, wherever we are, and eating nachos and drinking $10 beer. Same with NBA games. Our favorite thing to do on a cold Thursday in Charlotte was to grab tickets to a Hornets game. What fun!

We’ve been to NFL games and other “big” sporting events. I bought him Chiefs v. Packers tickets the last time that Brett Favre played in Arrowhead as a Packer. We’ve had second row seats to the Panthers beating the Saints. His brother took him to the World Series the year the St. Louis Cards beat the Rangers. It was all very cool, even to a non-sports watching guy. But if given the choice, he’d just rather catch the highlights when people talk about it the next day.

My husband doesn’t know who was picked in the draft.

He doesn’t know who has an elbow problem, or who is benched this week.

He doesn’t know that “big” play, unless it was replayed ad nauseam, or someone shared it on Facebook, or it was mentioned in one of his podcasts.

But sometimes, when we are out in public and he has his Chicago White Sox hat on, the one I bought him in Chicago because I just knew he would love the retro look of it, and someone walks up to him and says, “Oh the Sox, huh?” He will smile politely and say, “Yeah”. And I will cringe because I know what is coming. The person, usually a man, says something about how the Sox are playing. My husband shakes his head in agreement. Pretends, for the other man’s sake, to care. They might say, “Well did you see that Fry was pulled early last night?” or “Herrera, man. Am I right?” My husband just nods and says, “Yeah, absolutely.” Cringe.

I want to shout out at the man, “He has no idea what you are talking about! He doesn’t watch sports! We don’t have cable! He’s hasn’t seen the Sports Center Highlights reel!” Instead I smile politely, and take my husband’s elbow and lead him away while I cringe.

Listen, I’m married to the kinda guy who would rather be out there playing baseball in the backyard with his wife and kid. He’d rather play a game of pick-up basketball in our driveway (wherein I beat the pants off him, oh Baby Jesus he sucks at basketball) or playing catch in the backyard, than say, watching a football game. He’d rather play a board game on a rainy Sunday than get wrapped up in grown men in helmets hitting each other. He’d rather watch our son, out in the soccer field, all suited up, picking dandelions when he should be watching for the ball. I’m married to a non-sports nut, and I am okay with that. I just wish he’d pick some different t-shirts.

M.

PS… #GoRoyals

April

If you’ve been around long enough you know that Edna St. Vincent Millay is my homegirl. She’s no Joan Didion, but that’s a different genre. Edna, like Momma Joan, has been around since high school. We first met in a drama class my sophomore year. We had to recite a poem in front of the whole class, and well, I thumbed my finger through a poetry book and found the shortest one I could: My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night; but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — it gives a lovely light! I was such a wanker. But Edna didn’t mind. She didn’t mind when that poor, underpaid adjunct at KU made me “explore the rich tapestry of the sonnet,” or when my evil grad school professor said, “close reading”. Every time I found my way back to Edna, and every time she welcomed me with open arms. In short, she’s my ride-or-die. Which makes each season of life a bit different because, well, Edna was a bit different. Here’s the one that has been sloshing around the old noggin for the last few weeks:

Feel free to do you own close reading of this one. Or just read it over and over again, listening to the lullaby of the words. Appreciate the rhythm, the feeling. Or you know, shake your head and say, “Oh Edna…”

I’m not sure about April anymore either, you guys. I’m not sure about the rebirth of spring, or the way that we pin so much hope on a fresh start, but I did find out that one of my own poems will be in a book of poetry this year, and I am excited and so very surprised. I’ve grown a lot from the last April to this one. A lot. Maybe this time of year will grow on me now too.

Go forth in flowers and poetry today, y’all.

M.

Bear Witness

The photo that currently serves as my desktop is one that I took at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. in January. It is a photo of words, in black wooden letters against a white wall that greets visitors near the front entrance. The words are from Elie Wiesel, a political activist, professor, writer, and Holocaust survivor. It simply reads, “For the dead and the living we must bear witness.”

I can’t tell you how many times that quote has played in my mind over the last four months. How many times I have wondered how a young boy, imprisoned and orphaned in a concentration camp, came to be a man who could forgive and share, love and trust so openly after what he’d been through. It is true that the human spirit can withstand a great deal, the museum shares that spirit with its visitors. That’s what I appreciate about the museum, the way the stories, the real, heart-wrenching stories, the real, makes-you-so-mad-you-see-red stories, are told in a way to remember the past, and poignantly and pointedly, look toward the future.

Listen, I don’t intend to wax political about the Holocaust or genocide, or any numbers of harsh truths that we face day in and day out in our country, or see on the news about other countries, but I do intend to speak on the “T’ word itself. In a world where we are constantly being lied to, by our own Commander-in-Chief, it is important to rely on facts. It is important to bear witness to what is truly happening in and around us.

There are scientific truths, verifiable facts, that people in our own country are turning against. There are people who can simply turn off the television screen and pretend like there are not children in cages on American soil. There are people saying things like, “Evidence-free” and “alternative fact”. All of this amounts to a lot of not telling the truth. And without truth we can’t bear witness to the children who are in cages. And the young women being sold into sex-trafficking, and the heaps and heaps of danger our democracy is in.

On a personal level, I wonder what good I am doing. What good I could be doing. I wonder how I am bearing witness to the people around me. The men and women who live on the street. The ones who live paycheck to paycheck. The estimated six million people in prison on charges they should not be in prison for. How am I shining a spotlight on the injustices of the minorities, or those living in poverty, or the children in the foster care system, or the children on the streets. I lose sleep over it, and honestly, you should too.

Because a world of people who lose sleep over whether or not their neighbor can afford her light bill, or whether or not that elderly woman you saw last Tuesday trying to cross the street ever made it to the bus stop, is a world that is capable of changing the problems that the generations before us created. A world of people who have empathy, who have heart, who can and will bear witness to those people, is a world where things are capable of changing.

Maybe I am being too naive today. I have my days. Maybe I am feeling too powerless and I am looking for a strength I can’t muster alone. Either way, say you’ll try today. Tomorrow. Next week. Whenever you find the strength. Say you will try to do better. To be better. To worry about thy neighbor more. To help those around your community. To share their stories. To bear witness. To speak out against those who are spewing hate and lies. To correct those who refuse to believe what is really happening. If you can’t do it for me, do it for Elie Wiesel. Do it for the room of shoes. Do it for your own children, whose future is becoming shorter and shorter everyday.

M.

Imaginary Poodle Shopping

As Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte approaches his first birthday (April 30) I’ve found myself taken with puppy fever. With that in mind I’ve been trolling Poodle rescue sites and let me just say, there are a lot of them. People are rather uneducated on the breed. They buy a Poodle then say things like, “I had no idea the Standard Poodle would be 75 pounds”. 🙄 So, this is first and foremost a plug for you to check out some Poodle rescue groups in your area (if you are so inclined) for your next doggo. Duke has been an exceptional puppy and is the smartest, most stubborn dog I have ever met. But I mean, look at this face:

In his Easter Bonnet, he’s very fashion-forward.

This is also a list of possible fancy-ass names for my new (imaginary) Poodle, which will most likely be another boy since we don’t want any pups running amok. Feel free to copy these names for your new bundle of joy as well!

I’ve also added links to various Poodle rescue sites on the bottom of this blog just in case, like me, you want to browse. May I add, there are many breeds, and mixed breeds, that need homes as well, and Poodles really are a bit more work than the average dog, so please educate yourself first. Don’t just fly by the seat of your pants like I did! Because of this fact, I added more doggo and pupper rescue site links as well, for funsies! Happy adopting!

Possible Fancy-Ass Names for My (Imaginary) New Doggo

  • Sir Earl Barnabus of Atlanta (Barney)
  • Viscount Kingsley Augustus of Atlanta (King)
  • Sir Maximus Benedict of Atlanta (Max or Benny)
  • Baron Oliver Charleston of Atlanta (Ollie)
  • Sir Francois Archibald of Atlanta (Frankie)
  • Steve

Rescue Sites That Seem Reputable

http://www.georgiapoodlerescue.com

https://www.norcalpoodlerescueadoption.com

http://poodle.rescueme.org/Illinois

https://www.poodlerescueofhouston.org

http://www.oregondogrescue.org

http://www.pawsatlanta.org

https://www.aspca.org/adopt-pet/adoptable-dogs-your-local-shelter

As always, have a wonderful day, and remember, all doggies are amazing and wonderful, don’t let breed or size scare you! I have met some of the sweetest Pit Bulls and some of the most stuck-up, fancy-pants German Shepherds out there. I have also met scary Chihuahuas and very, very rude Pugs. It’s more about the environment than anything else! Damn that Pug was scary. #GaveMeNightmares

M.

Strike One

Today I am thinking about the way I treat myself and the way I see myself. I have always had low self-esteem. It isn’t anything that anyone in particular gave to me. I wasn’t emotionally or physically abused as a child. Rather, I had a very encouraging mother who tried her best to give me everything I wanted and needed and was, and still is, a constant supporter of mine (as long as I don’t cuss too much or use the Lord’s name in vain). I think maybe the world sort of just pushed me down, as it tends to do to girls and young women who feel weak to combat what is thrown at us. Which leads me to the first and foremost reason for my low self-esteem, I’m fat.

Listen, it’s not a secret. It never has been, and I’ve always been fat. And I use the term fat for lack of a better word. And because it doesn’t bother me, though it might bother some. For that, I am sorry. Let me say this, I am overweight. I weigh more than I am supposed to for my height. I weigh more than is healthy for my frame or my heart. I have a larger force of gravity pressing down on me than others who are my age and size. It has always been this way. I don’t have those little stories about “back when I was thin” I was never thin. Of course I was smaller than I am now, and even as an adult I constantly fluctuate between the same 30 pounds. The same 30 pounds up, and the same 30 pounds down, depending on the season.

Because I am fat, when I meet someone new I always assume that I already have one strike against me. For example, when I meet someone whom I think might make a good friend, or a lovely advocate, or even someone to share a nice, afternoon chat with while we wait for our kids to get out of school, I assume that the first thing they think about me is, “Oh, she’s fat.” And why wouldn’t they? They can see that I am. Same as they can see that I am a brunette, with streaks of red (in the right sunlight) and streaks of gray (in all the lights). They can see that I have blue eyes. They can see, depending on whether or not I have waxed lately, that I have black hair on my upper lip. But none of that matters. I think, I am fat and I must win them over if I am to be their friend. After all, who wants to be friends with someone who looks like me?

So I start. I start to try to make them like me for all the other reasons. I try to make them look through my skin, and my layers of fat, and see me. I start with a friendly, open nature. Then I add the humor. I sometimes add the humor big time, depending on if I think they keep catching sight of my double or triple chin. I make up, or try to make up, for the fact that people are watching them stand there, talking to a fat girl. I think it helps in some way. Soon, I get them to laugh. That helps. That motivates me. Then I know I sort of “have them”. When you make someone laugh it feels like they like you, even just for a moment. Even if they don’t like you. All fat girls know this. That is what we strive for. To be liked. Because we certainly don’t like ourselves.

Geez, I wish I was saying this better. I guess what I am saying, in a very disjointed, makes-no-sense kinda way, is that I go out in this world everyday with one strike against me. Two or three, or even four somedays, depending on how I feel, what fits me that day, and how much sleep I’ve had the night before. And on those days, talking to people, and moving around the world, or just getting into my car, knowing what is ahead, can be tough. And other people feel this way too. And it isn’t necessarily because they are fat. For some people it is because they are painfully shy. Or they have crooked teeth and they don’t like to smile. Or they think they world will judge them for their weird mole on their cheek, or the way their lips curl, or that patch of psoriasis they can’t seem to shake. Everyone has their one strike, and it isn’t always visible, and they are out there trying to navigate the world with it everyday.

So just remember that. Remember that we all have one strike against us when we set out, and try to be aware of that one strike. Try to be kind, and nice, and eager. Open the conversation if you see someone struggling. Laugh at the nervous joke. Shake their hand. Make eye contact and say hello. Make the first call. Send the text when you are thinking of them. It’s always nice to feel welcome. It’s always nice to feel welcomed, and seen, and liked, it helps us forget about our strike, even just for a moment.

M.

My (Non)Drinking Problem

It’s time I address my drinking problem, or lack thereof. I once met this woman at a party. She was a friend of a friend. The first time she met me, and the few subsequent times thereafter, I had a glass of red wine in my hand, and I was cool, calm, and collected. And to hear her say it, the funniest person in the world. Am I funny? Sure! Am I the funniest person in the world? Hers, maybe. But from then on she called me her “Funny Friend Missy”. That is how she would introduce me to new people. She would rush over with an unsuspecting soul and say, “Here she is, here is my Funny Friend Missy!” Then the friend would smile or laugh, and they would look at me to say something hilarious. Le sigh. It was exhausting.

What ended up happening, is that whenever she was around I would make sure to have wine in hand. Because, like a lot of people, my cool, calm, collected, humorous nature only comes out when I’m drinking. When I have wine or gin close at hand. In fact, one day this friend invited Jackson and me out to a day of fun with her and her daughter, and well, let’s just say it was the only time we ever did that. I suspect because I was stone-cold sober all day, thus, I was my real, unaltered, weird self. And she was disappointed.

This sort of became a cycle for me for a few years. I was close with someone who drinks every single day. Every day. Her and her husband have a lovely home on a lake, and they like to enjoy, well the scenery. They are less “get out there and boat” people and more “drink all day by the lake” people. And that is okay, it’s just that I am neither, in reality, but in order to fit in I certainly had to drink more, and so I did. I drank and drank. I drank to be “My Funny Friend Missy” and Jerimiah drank to be “a man”. In reality, we sort of hated ourselves during that time. We are the type of people who can spend a fun week back home on Table Rock with family and friends and totally kill our liver, then not drink for the next six months to make up for it. In fact, unless there is something happening, a day-trip to the lake or beach with friends, a mean-ass game of Spades, or a a celebration of some kind, you will rarely find us lifting a glass. We just don’t drink like we pretend to on social media. We have a non-drinking problem.

So listen, I talk a mad game about wine and Tanqueray, and I do enjoy those two items, they are my favorites in fact, but unless you are gonna come over to my house, and we are going to play a round of Pitch, or you need a girls night, wherein we sit in my bathtub with bottles of wine and cry together, then really, just come on over and bring me some unsweet tea instead. With a lemon on the side.

Remember to drink responsibly (cause when I do, I usually forget that part).

M.

Things I’ve Said This Week

My husband has been out of town this week, which means I am single-parenting it. And listen, big shoutout here to the single parents. My own mother was a single mom of four, and honestly, whew, I’m not sure how she did it, because when I have to be a single mom for a week at a time, it is rough. Of course I don’t have a support system here in Georgia, so it makes it that more difficult. But I did have some good chats and texts with friends this week that kept me going. Either way, I said and wrote some things this week I am not particularly proud of. I said and wrote them out of passive-aggressive spite, tiredness, and probably low-blood sugar. What follows is a list, to the best of my knowledge, of things I have said and written in various platforms this week. Enjoy!

  • Fuck Class-Dojo!
  • The damn dog is afraid of the fake owl in the garden!
  • I was in the “back room” of the video store, you know, hanging out.
  • Vasectomies for dogs is a thing, so now we don’t have to be mean and cut off his balls, you know?
  • So the alien robots take over the world and everyone dies, except for us because we hide in a cabin in the woods, and when it’s time to repopulate the universe you have to do all the heavy lifting, cause well, I got nothing inside anymore, and eventually the radioactivity that allowed the aliens to beat us, seeps into our bodies and we are able to outlive all the other people on the world. Eventually we are the two oldest living “true” humans, not android hybrids, and we Thelma and Louise this bitch. You in?
  • WHY ARE YOU BARKING?!
  • We’ve all peed in a trash can once or twice, right?
  • The damn dog is trying to hump the fake owl!
  • Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh. Then what happened? Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh. That is very interesting. Go brush your teeth.
  • Oh, someone might die? Cool. But what time does your plane get in on Friday?
  • Do you want me to mail your shampoo?
  • I’m not paying someone to cut his balls off! That is so fucking rude.
  • She’s gonna be Poseidon, so I mean, I think we should go.
  • How many granola bars did you eat for breakfast? Did you eat breakfast?
  • Secular summer camps sound great, but listen, I live in Georgia now, so I have to do a lot of sitting on my sun porch drinking gin and tonics this summer. I just can’t commit. You get it.
  • Go get the damn fake owl from the garden before the dog kills it.
  • OHHH, chicken Wangz and Lil Smokes! Well then, all is forgiven.
  • Go clean your room. Go clean your room. Go clean your room.
  • Yes, but what did the school nurse say after you told her you already pooped three times and your belly still hurt? Did she tell you to go back to class? You need to go back to class.
  • Did we eat dinner tonight?
  • WHERE THE HELL IS BURGER KING?
  • Yeah, I know the owl is FAKE and can’t die! Go get it!
  • Wait, wait. Remind me again who Mad-Eye Moody is.
  • I swear to Baby Jesus, I will send him to his Grandma’s.
  • Just make popcorn, dude.
  • I talked to Mrs. Martin, the school nurse, and she is not happy with you. She thinks you were fibbing about your belly hurting.
  • No technology tonight. Yeah, go watch tv.
  • This is why your belly hurts! Sugar! All this sugar!
  • WHY am I the only one who can pick up towels off the floor?!
  • Mrs. Martin said you could poop in her bathroom.
  • Minecraft.

M.

Write Brain

I have these memories that sort of live on the cusp of my brain and they nag at me, and nag at me, and nag at me, until I take the time to write them down. They aren’t particularly special moments, or important, or a moment that other people might think should be memorable, but they spring up in my brain when I am doing other things and I can’t seem to shake them. They are called Involuntary Autobiographical Memories (IAMs), seriously. That is what the mental health community has decided to call them, and they are more common than I thought, which is helpful for someone like me, who is always afraid I am weird and my brain doesn’t work like it should. None of that is important, and honestly would be best discussed with my therapist, or a my physician, or an unsuspecting bartender. But I do have to share the following story today or I will have sweaty night dreams about it. So, enjoy?

I am about four years old. We are headed to Southern Texas, Corpus Christi, to be exact, and we are riding a Greyhound bus. It is hot, my teenage sister is cranky, per usual, and my mom is nervous. I can tell because when she is nervous she shakes her legs up and down in her seat in a fidgety sorta way. I have to pee. I ask my mother to pee in the bathroom they have on the bus and she says no, absolutely not. I start to wonder why she is so against me going pee in the bathroom. There is a bathroom on the bus, and it is clearly marked. I’m only four, but I can read. I start to worry that I won’t be able to hold it much longer. I sit silently and look down at my shoes. I am wearing Jellies. You know what I mean, those cool sandals from the 80s that lacked both structure and support. They were colored, with flecks of glitter in them, and they are the reason a whole generation of 40-year-old women now have plantar fasciitis.

Anyway, I had to pee. And I was very afraid the I was going to have an accident and that pee would run down my leg and into my Jellies, where it would pool in the sticky, plastic sole, and I would have to walk in my own pee for the rest of the trip. Again, I was four. And it was hot. And I was on a Greyhound bus.

I put my hand on my mom’s leg to sort of calm her in some way, then I lied and said I didn’t have to pee anymore. I probably said this because I thought she was nervous because I had to pee, and she didn’t know when we would stop next. We did stop occasionally, though I have no recollection of the stops.

When I looked back up I made eye contact with a man walking toward the back of the bus where the bathroom was. He smiled a polite smile. He was wearing cut-off shorts and a blue t-shirt with the arms cut off of it. He made his way back to the bathroom. I turned my head to be sure he went in. A little while later, the whole bus filled with a horrible smell and I involuntarily scrunched up my nose and said, “Eww!” My mom shushed me. It wasn’t polite. But then she moved her shirt to her nose and bounced her legs up and down again. And that was that.

Weird isn’t it? That is all I remember about the Greyhound Bus on our way to Corpus Christi, Texas in the early 1980s. I don’t remember the color of the seats, or the scenery that we passed. I don’t remember stopping at a McDonalds to eat and use the bathroom. I don’t remember what my mom or sister were wearing, or the odor that inhabits a bus like that. I remember my shoes. I remember that I had to pee. I remember the man and the way my mother reacted to the whole thing.

I remember more about the trip once we arrived, like my oldest sister’s house, the reason for going to Corpus Christi was to see her. I remember her creepy boyfriend, Rick, and his work van. I even remember the night they had a party and everyone drank beer. I remember my mom’s friend Debbie, who came along, but I only remember her sitting on a metal folding chair on the front porch of the house, talking about how hot it was and wiping the sweat from her breasts. Otherwise, it’s like she wasn’t even there.

Involuntary Autobiographical Memories. Ain’t that some shit.

M.

When we made it to Corpus Christi, I got new shoes (I hope I didn’t actually pee on my other ones). And I got a new shirt. And I was allowed to walk around in the back of a Rick’s work van. The one that had folding chairs for seats. So yeah, kickass.

Free Tote

This morning I’m obsessed with finding a bag. Not just any bag, a brown khaki tote. It was a free tote. The kind you get when you order a magazine subscription because you think your life has finally reached the point that you can lazily read a magazine on your front porch, while you sip your Saturday coffee, rocking back and forth to the lull of the birds in the magnolias. You think you’ve reached a point in your life that you’ll promptly read each issue, delivered every week, by a friendly mail carrier whose suspicion of your growing magazine consumption comes in pitiful glances, as he taps on your glass door and waves the next issue into your box. It’s a pity you’ve steadily learned to tolerate.

I am looking for a tote that came free with a magazine subscription. The kind of subscription you order because you think your life has come to a point that you will be able to read each issue promptly. That the issues won’t start to stack, in tedious, yellowing piles, at the corner of your bedside table. You think you’ve finally reached a point in your life that you will not, at three a.m., grope for the cup of water on your bedside table, and knock the tedious stack of yellowing, unread issues off your bedside table. You think you are so much in control of your life, that you won’t curse at the dropped issues, or at the missing cup of water, or at the person groping in the dark. You think you are so in control of your life, that you won’t feverishly toss and turn for the rest of the night, wondering why the hell you kept a tedious stack of unread, yellowing issues of a magazine on your bedside table. Was it all for the free tote?

This morning I am looking for a free tote that came with a magazine subscription. But it’s not actually the tote that I need. It’s the notebook inside the tote. I had it at the hotel we lived in for a few days at the end of last month. We lived at a hotel for a few days at the end of last month, because we were moving. We were moving from a city that I love dearly, to one the I dread with a maturing certainty more and more each day. We were moving and the boxes had been stacked around our small house. And the truck had been ordered. And the bedside table had been turned upside down. And the magazines stacks had been recycled. And the water cups had been packed. And like you do, when all of your belongings are packed away in boxes and all your magazines recycled, we moved into a hotel for a few days.

It’s not even the notebook inside the free tote that I need. It’s the hastily hand-written quote inside of the notebook that I’m after. It’s my own writing. Half cursive, half capitals. Halfway through the notebook. It’s written past pages of to-do lists, bad middle-of-the-night-ideas, and important phone numbers I forgot to remember. It’s the sort of notebook people like us keep. The sort of people who think we’re so in control of our lives that we order magazine subscriptions, and keep notebooks filled with dots rather than lines. Notebooks filled with middle-of-the-night ideas and phone numbers and to-do lists. Notebooks with doodles and desires. Notebooks with words we can’t quite grasp and thoughts we have to think on for a little while longer. Notebooks with dots rather than lines.

There, inside the notebook, is a quote I jotted down, in somewhat of a fever, at a writing thing I went to a few weeks back. I don’t remember the quote in its entirety. I don’t remember what the teacher said the quote was about, or who the quote was from, or if the quote is even the quote I’m loosely remembering right now. But I do remember the feeling of urgency to get the quote into my dotted notebook. I remember the desire to lock the quote up inside. The weight of that moment pressing down on me. Wanting, needing, to know more about it. I remember thinking this quote could give me some direction. This quote had the power to save me in some way. That one day I would need a quote to save me. That one day soon, I would need saving.

Just Checking In

Today is the first day in weeks that I am experiencing some sense of normalcy. I’m sitting at my desk, coffee in hand, listening to my dog click his nails along the hardwood. My husband is snoring in bed. My child is watching some sort of show about cars. I am writing. What I am writing I am not sure. Let’s call this a check-in. A wake-up. A fresh start. I have been packing and schlepping. I have been living in hotels and eating from sacks. I have been looking for Q-tips in large boxes stuffed with brown paper and old bits of broken computer monitor that seemed, to someone, to be so precious they must wrap it in all that brown paper to ensure its security in transit. In short: Nothing is normal right now, but I’m trying.

I know moving is tough. A million people have told me and a million more have said it with such conviction that I can feel it in their hearts that they had a shitty, shitty time. And I have moved. More than once. Across state lines. Across the country. And this move wasn’t horrible. We had help. Big, strong, burly men who took smoke breaks and ate their lunches in 8 minutes flat, boxed and lifted, secured and transported, all our junk. So why am I even complaining? I don’t know. I have become accustomed to it I guess.

Life isn’t normal today. But it could be so much worse. And even though I feel like I am hanging on by a thread, I am grateful, somewhere deep inside, for what this is all affording me. Affording my child. My husband. Our futures.

So whatever you are up against today, just remember to take it one day at a time, friends. One moment at a time, if you need to.

I’m thinking of you and sending big, warm hugs.

Always.

M.