Fri-Yay?

I love Fridays when I don’t have a million things to do. But on Fridays before say, my son’s pool party for his birthday in the middle of a global pandemic where he desires very particular cupcake toppers and there is a 40% chance of rain and I need to order enough pizzas to feed all the kids and how many kids are actually gonna show up anyway and is this even safe I mean chlorine kills germs but not when a kid sneezes into my face and did I order the right color frosting and what about that kid with a gluten allergy, well those Fridays aren’t my absolute favorites.

We actually didn’t think we’d be able to have a party to celebrate Jackson turning 12 this year and I was okay with it, but it happens that we go to a pool and we met a lot of new friends at the pool this summer who also belong there and Jackson asked if he could have a pool party this year with those friends. And since our pools down here are open until the end of the month, and Jackson’s October 1st birthday doesn’t normally lend itself to a pool party, and because of the aforementioned global pandemic I said sure thing, kid! But then I remembered I’d have to plan it.

Bleh.

I used to go all out for his birthdays. In a “rent an old-timey fire truck to deliver pizza to an outdoor venue decorated in replicas of burning building and kids equipped with “hoses” to put the fires out” kinda way. For sure. Birthday number five. But I’ve tampered down my birthday enthusiasm over the years, between dying paper, drawing pirate maps on them, then setting fire to the edges to look “realistic” to ordering pizza and Sams Club cupcakes to throw on a freshly Lysoled table by the pool. Maybe I haven’t tampered down anything, maybe the world did all the tampering down. Either way, here we are.

So yeah. Normally Fridays are good. But this one has some work to do.

This Gal Is Fucked, y’all.

I mean, TGIF, y’all!

M.

Make-up

Make-up days. Make-up tests. Make-up sex. There’s a lot of make-ups round here, but not any actual make-up. Like, nah, I’ll pass. Here’s the thing, I want to wear make-up, I do. I wish I was one of those ladies who lived and died by whatever her particular eye liner brand is, but I just don’t. I never have been and I can’t imagine I’ll ever be. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and there are too many books to read as it is. I’m not saying I think wearing make-up is bad, not at all, and to all my friends who can’t get through a day without putting your face on, I salute you. I admire you. I adore you, you beautiful creatures. But please make no mistake, even though I don’t wear make-up doesn’t mean I don’t have things I have to do to feel good about myself everyday. And please don’t think I never feel good about myself. I do.

I, for instance, have to take a shower every, single day. I’m amazed and awed by people who can’t remember the last time they showered or who have “hair-washing” days. Gasp! If I couldn’t wash my hair every day I’d be okay crawling into a ball and dying, right there. Dead.

Dramatic? Maybe. But I’ve heard people say that about doing their make-up too. Also dramatic for that, but seems to be tolerated better. I think washing everyday just doesn’t seem so important to people because if I smell good, and my face is pretty for people to look at, then what different does it make if I showered? Maybe that’s the different? I don’t take a shower to make other people feel better, I do it so I can feel better.

It’s like why I also have to get enough sleep. Somewhere around ten hours is best for me, every, single night. That’s the best way for me to have a good day. Some people think 10 hours is nuts! Well I feel the same about six hours. How do you even function?

I dunno why I was thinking about make-up today. Or showering, or sleep, or things we do to make ourselves feel better. Maybe I’m taking stock today of trying to feel better. Probably I’m taking my mind off the fact that I’m headed to the rheumatologist this morning and I feel scared and sad and not my best.

Maybe some make-up will help? 😉

Have a fantastic day, however you have to get it.

M.

Friend Funk

Jackson and I have been in a friend funk lately. We’ve been missing our friends, I mean. While we’ve made new ones from going to the pool this summer, the only outing we feel safe doing with other people, we’ve been missing our friends who aren’t near us. Last week Jackson reconnected with a friend from Charlotte, a little girl he went to third and fourth grade with. He was happy and excited, then a little mopey. I asked what was up and he said he misses his Charlotte friends. I agreed and we mourned our losses for a bit and moved on. Well, he did.

I, of course, can’t let it go. I miss my best friend, whom I haven’t lived in the same town with since we were on college. I miss my friends on Lake Norman, I miss my Ozark friends, and I miss my Charlotte friends. I miss my friends I’ve met that have moved far away, living in Rhode Island, in Arizona, in California. This isn’t new, this missing, for me anyway, but it seems exasperated when times are a bit more trying. And I think that’s happening for Jackson now too.

The school board met this week. Decided to keep going virtually for the time being. We are still in “red” as it were. So we wait longer to see people, to make new friends, to reunite with old ones. And we keep missing.

M.

Virgo Rising

It’s my mom’s birthday. She’s turning 76 today, and I believe this is the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing her. It’s been nearly a year now. We celebrated her 75th birthday last year by flying her out here for a few weeks, but that’s not an option now. And I did intend to get to Kansas City before now, but life as we know has other plans.

My mom is a Virgo like me, and I’m not sure that was a good thing growing up. But the older I get the more I recognize the things I appreciate in myself are the things I got from her. My bend toward honesty. My loyalty to people who deserve it, and some who don’t. My sense of humor. My stance on the treatment of those unlike me. The smaller, the weaker, those in need.

I’m fortunate to still have my mother around, and I’ll get to see her soon enough. But for today, in honor of my mom, I’ll take a page from her book and say, have a great day. Talk to a stranger. Hug your kids. Appreciate the small things. Eat a bowl of French onion soup for your sadness. Commune with the birds. And laugh at something, yourself included, if you can.

Happy birthday, Mom! Hope it’s a great one!

M.

500 Posts!

We are pausing for a celebration today: This is my 500th blog post. So I guess if you’re still reading, and some of you are, thank you! And look at you! You have nothing better going on in your life?! Really? Are you just shirking responsibility to be here? I mean, I don’t mind if you are, I do it ALL the time. Just this weekend I had about 19 chapters to read, so I went to the pool and to Target. Cause when I have a lot to do I find other shit to do instead.

Off topic.

Five hundred posts!

Now listen, they haven’t all been good. Matter of fact, I’d say the fast majority of them are me just complaining about one thing or another. But that’s the beauty of having your own blog, you can say whatever you want!

I’ve been writing every day this year, this horrific, bitch of a year. And it’s been great. Something I never thought I’d be able to pull off. Unfortunately it hasn’t really upped my craft, but, and this is a big BUT, it has kept me regular. Like when you take probiotics.

I’m veering off again.

I love y’all, those of you who have been around awhile and our new friends. You make this community fun, my days have some kind of meaning, and hey, who else would I want to talk about probiotics and regularity with?! No one else.

Thanks.

Keep being you, and I’ll keep being me.

M.

Dog Farts and Peacocks

I’m surrounded by dog farts and peacocks. To be clear, they aren’t actual peacocks (I’m not a fan) but rather representational peacocks. To be crystal clear, the dogs farts are real, not representational and quite abundant. I’m reading Flannery O’Conner (yes, again, or rather, still) with a highlighter, in bed, under my blanket that mysteriously matches “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories” (A Harvest Book edition). So mysterious. And my poodle is on the end of the bed farting because, and I think this is the correct answer, he hates me.

It’s midnight on a Saturday, or maybe it’s Sunday and this is my life now, and I wish it were a folly, a joke, a side-splitter, but it’s real life and as we know real life can, at times, be just as ridiculous as art.

That is all.

Good day, Madams and sirs.

M.

Mysterious…

Remains

The dogs have been swapping a bone in the backyard. We noticed it the other night. Duke refused to come inside when called for dinner. Jerimiah walked into the backyard and saw something laying beneath Duke so he approached and Duke growled. Jerimiah was all, “The fuck, man?” And he low-growled another response, so he let him be.

We eyeballed him out the kitchen window and noticed him gnawing away. They dogs had been digging that morning, up until the point when Jerimiah and Jackson flipped the outside table upside down on the hole to keep them out until we fill it.

“I think they found a bone when they were digging,” Jerimiah said, sipping his tea.

“Uhhh, what?” I inquired, like totally bewildered he’d let him chew on something he dug up.

“It’s just a bone,” he said with a laugh.

“You mean remains,” I corrected.

“Six of one…” he walked off.

Last night the remains made it to the living room rug when Winnie ran in all wild-eyed, and proud of what she’d found. I squealed. Jerimiah laughed. Winnie pranced around in a big display. Duke sulked.

This house has gone mad.

Totally fucking mad.

Stay away.

M.

Never Forget

I’ve been unofficially off of Facebook for a week now. I didn’t do anything drastic or dramatic like suspend my account, or deactivate or anything like that. I just stopped logging in and the world didn’t blow up. Of course, this has been a long time coming. Y’all remember back in January when I started limiting myself to fifteen minutes a day? That’s paid off. Really set me up for success for this part. But I did log in yesterday. It was my birthday and I knew my page would be flooded with well wishes, so I logged in last night to comment and thank everyone, and that was about the time the Chiefs’ game started. About the time the “Never Forget” people came out in full force. Then I remembered why I hadn’t logged in for a week. Then I wrote a status and went to bed, sorta full up on birthday wishes, sorta let down by humans again. Life’s a crapshoot these days. Anyway, I’ll share below what I signed off with, but if you do one thing today, please make it be checking your voter registration status. Do it for me. Won’t you?

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

My FB status for 9/11:

I’m heading to bed tonight already being asked to remember that horrific day 19 years ago when thousands of Americans lost their lives on 9/11. Begging me to never forget.

I’m seeing this in between white people complaining that the NFL supports “racial equality” and they “just can’t” support the NFL. I’m seeing true colors shine tonight, and those colors aren’t pretty.

I’m seeing that while I read nearly 200,000 Americans have lost their lives on American soil to COVID-19 in six months.

I’m seeing that the week Homeland Security named white, American, right-wing men the number one terrorist threat to our country.

I’m seeing that as I read 1,100 Black men are murdered by the police in our country every year.

That American police murder 3 people a day, on average.

That thousands of soldiers have lost their lives in the last 19 years. That many thousands more will become wounded and develop such horrific PTSD that they will end their own lives, or the lives of those they love.

I’m seeing all that. Are you?

You’re asking me to never forget. I’m asking you, as I head to bed tonight, to remember too. Every day. Always. All of this. I’m asking you to be a better citizen, a better American, a better human being.

My Birthday

Today is my 39th birthday. I’ve never been more scared of a birthday. But I have been more scared, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s a blip. Thirty-nine. Ha. I’m ready for however this year ends up looking. So enjoy some birthday week pictures of my gifts and my people, and we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled nonsense tomorrow.

What is Today?

No, really. What day is it? I have no idea anymore. I have been off since sometime the last week of August. I actually wrote the wrong dates in my calendar. I missed a Zoom class discussion because of it. I missed a phone call. I almost missed a doctor’s appointment. Thank goodness I don’t have a small child or a plant to keep alive these days, because I’d be pretty bummed about now. So would they.

Listen, I don’t want this to turn into another husband appreciation post, but not only has he been cooking dinner all week, and keeping up with the laundry while I complain about pain and try to get us out of social engagements, he’s also been letting me fall into him while I cry. Listening to me when I complain about why life is the way it is. Holding me up, telling me that it’s hard now, but that I am being the best version I can be of myself right now, in this moment. Man, I wish I could believe him.

Patsy told me this week I need to cut myself some slack. She tells me that all the time, but I never can figure out how to do it. I’d say I’m working on it, but let’s be honesty, I’m not. It’s the last thing I’m doing right now.

Oh, it’s Wednesday. Jackson’s day off school. Wednesday. Middle of the week. I think I can make it.

Hope you are well.

M.

Apropos Andalusia

Jerimiah sent me an article yesterday: “Apropos your paper,” he said. It was from the New Yorker, it was titled: “How Racist was Flannery O’Conner?” Great, I sighed toward him, sitting across the room from me. Thanks for this. He smiled. Seemed appropriate. He’s not wrong. I’ve been assigned Mary Flannery O’Conner for my presentation next month in my Southern Fiction class, and I’ve decided to use “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories” as my in, as I also have to do a scholarship review of her work, and a semester-long paper on her as well. I’d been debating, as late as this morning, whether I’d hit the road for Andalusia this week.

Andalusia is O’Conner’s estate in Milledgville, Georgia, a two-hour drive from my house. I’ve decided, as I approach my 39th birthday and await the test results for this autoimmune disease I’m battling—likely Lupus (O’Conner died at 39 from Lupus), that I should make the pilgrimage. But I’ve been dragging my feet, for reasons above, and now this.

I’ve always been a fan of O’Conner. Always stood up for her, always sidestepped any unseemly information, but this time I can’t. What I can’t decide, and what the articles ask us to consider, is whether O’Conner was just a product of her raising. Or if something more sinister went on there, between her writing about racism, and plucking along among the peacocks.

I read the article. I looked at the stack of scholarly reviews I have sitting on my desk. I tapped my fingers on my chin. I cursed my husband. Misdirected anger.

I’ll go to Andalusia because I want to see for myself. Because I’m just curious enough to want to turn the knob on the old farmhouse door, just naive enough to believe an old cotton plantation in central Georgia will fill me in on the past.

Besides, it appears I have a deadline now. And it’s coming up fast.

M.

Peaches

It’s Labor Day and I’m thinking about peaches. We have a peach tree in our yard. Maybe because they bring wildlife, probably because we live in Georgia. We’ve been here two seasons and have been unable to eat a peach off the tree. The squirrels beat us to them every year. No figs off the fig tree either, only roses from the bush and the occasional bud from a crape myrtle.

The garden they don’t bother. My husband has a tomato plant that is thriving, we have lettuce, and peppers, and plenty of baby cucumbers, but no peaches.

We add peaches to our Kroger order every week. We eat them standing at the kitchen counter, looking out over our fruit trees. We sigh. Wildlife. Nature. Georgia peaches. Some days it’s all so much.

Hope you had a safe and relaxing weekend. Hope you had some fruit.

M.

Stress

Stress is a monster, isn’t it. More of a statement, less a question because I assume you generally agree. Stress can tear your life apart. It can keep you up at night. Emotions and stresses and anxieties about things that seem unlikely to happen can actually manifest into real, physical pain in your body. Ask me how I know. Man, stress is actually an asshole, and it’s time we dealt with that.

But how? That’s the question on my mind today. How in fact do we deal with the stress? I’ve tried a number of things. Meditation. Yoga. Walking. Talking out my problems. Writing for cathartic reasons. Jesus, y’all know I’ve tried that. But still, the stress comes. Sometimes in waves, so that you think you’re getting better, then BOOM! Just kidding.

A month ago I woke up with a fever and some body aches. I had to get tested for Covid-19 and I had to self-isolate for four days while I waited for the results. Hopefully that hasn’t happened to any of you, but if it has you get it. I was basically preparing for my positive test. Jerimiah had already moved to the couch, when I got the negative result. But that stress triggered something in my body that week that hasn’t left.

To be sure, it wasn’t just that stress. And to be very sure you’ll have to know that I went to the doctor again a couple of weeks later and was tested for a myriad of things, some of which were for autoimmune diseases and the tests came back positive.

That’s not to say that my stress manifested into an autoimmune disease, but my doctor is pretty sure it did push me into a flare-up of whatever my underlying condition is. But guess what? We don’t know what it is because I have to see a rheumatologist and I can’t get an appointment with one until the middle of November. So, more waiting. But this time I know I’m likely to have, say Lupus, which is what my doc is hanging her hat on, but I can’t do anything about it for another two months.

Ho hum. Ho-fucking-hum, for sure.

So what do I do? Stress. Which makes my body feel even worse, which makes me stress more, which creates this endless cycle. You know what I mean? Of course you do. And if you don’t, share your secrets won’t you?

So here I am. Admitting that I think I’m at my limit, stress wise, and could use some good thoughts sent my way through the ether. I’d appreciate it, and I’ll surely pay back, in due time.

M.

The “W”

I’ve been such a sad sack lately, I decided to switch things up. I got all my schoolwork done by Thursday this week, well there’s reading to do, but Christ, there is always reading to do. Anyway, I did a deep dive into my new school, which I have been meaning to do and found some interesting things I thought I would share with you. If you are so inclined. If not, skip to the last paragraph, I have something to tell you. Anywho, let’s go down a Southern rabbit hole together, shall we?

My MFA program is through Mississippi University for Women, and previously I have shied away from the name because it sounds so horrible. It’s not a woman’s college, though it was for many years. In fact, it was the first college for women in the US, founded in 1884. Unfortunately, it was only for white women. Ho hum. Different times I suppose.

MUW, or “The W” as it is colloquially known, was originally the Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls. I know, I know. I prepared you though. You’ll be happy, or relieved maybe, to know that in 1966 they desegregated and “The Fabulous Six” came to school at “The W.” The Fabulous Six were six Black women from local high schools. They were the first Black women admitted, and thankfully not the last.

Now back to eww. It took a Supreme Court ruling for “The W” to allow men into class. I mean, I’m a little torn on this one. I can see the history of the school, Eudora Welty went there for Christ’s sake, but I can also see how like, I dunno, school’s shouldn’t be divided on gender. It’s a social construct anyway, ya dig.

So in 1982, “The W” became co-ed. Yay! I can’t believe I’m cheering for a win for the patriarchy. (Eye roll)

Hey, speaking of Eudora Welty, which “The W” loves to do, have you guys read “The Ponder Heart”? No? You should! You should also subscribe to The Ponder Review, which is our lit mag created by the MFA students, and I happen to be on staff this year, so, come on, what else do you have to do?!

So our mascot is the Owl. For real. I swooned when I found out. And then promptly bought a day planner with an owl on it. Our campus (which I have yet to visit, since this here global pandemic struck the semester before I started) has been rated one of the most beautiful Southern campuses, and I mean, take a look.

Now I’m partial, obviously. But I did seek out this program. There were a few other schools, some right down the road, that I could have applied to, but I gotta be honest, aside from the amazing tuition (everyone pays in-state tuition) and the instructors, I also really liked the campus and saw myself taking long walks around during residency. Crossing my fingers I will get to do that, eventually.

So there you have it, a bit about a school in Mississippi you have probably never heard of, but you should know about. Because much like other parts of the South, I’m learning that the history, while scary, sad, and sometimes downright ridiculous, is part of all of us, you know.

Give ’em a follow on social media, and, ahem, read The Ponder Review. 🙂

Hey, did you skip this info about some school in the South you don’t care about? That’s okay, I still love you. And listen, I know things are shitty right now, but let’s not take it out on each other, okay. I think, or maybe I know, that this is a time for us to go inward and examine ourselves a bit more. See who we really are. Let’s give it the old college try. Ha, see what I did there. And remember I appreciate you. I thank you for being around. And the world needs you! So keep on keeping on.

M.

Drowning

You know that part in “Office Space” where he’s all, “Every day is the worst day of my life”? Man, I’m feeling that these days. It’s not the worst day, per se, but I just caught myself texting a friend and telling her that I feel like I am drowning every day when I wake up. But then I reminded her, and me, that this is all temporary. It’s really just temporary. That used to be my mantra when things got tough. You need to tell yourself something when you’re say, giving birth to a baby that has already died. You have to figure out how to get you mind out of the spaces and places it could go, so I just reminded myself that this is temporary. That one day soon it won’t be this way, it won’t feel so stifling. But when you’re in the thick of it, man I know it’s tough.

I find myself taking pleasure now in simple tasks like taking a shower, or petting my crazy dogs. Sitting in my office and watching the squirrels that hold important meetings in the pine tree outside my office window. Watch Mrs. Kim work on her front yard (it’s impeccable) or Mr. Charlie across the way, walk back and forth in his driveway waiting for the mail, or to pull his recycling cans back to his garage. I’ve always been a people watcher, but it’s become increasingly important. I’m lucky to have a room with such a good view.

I might feel like I am drowning, but honestly it’s not that bad. I know the anxiety and the worry have so much to do with it, and my husband is working his butt off to make sure I don’t actually drown. So I’m okay, swimming along with help. I hope you all are too.

M.