Taco Tuesday

Listen, I love me some tacos. In my baby book my mom wrote that my favorite thing was tacos when I was like six months old. There is a lot wrong with that, but let’s focus on the good, I was one cool baby. So the number one thing that I miss right now is getting down on some tacos at our favorite, local Mexican restaurant. I miss so much about it, that sometimes I wake up thinking that I can actually smell the sticky, vinyl seats. I’m sure I can’t. Or can I? I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, with Jackson’s help I took Jerimiah on a “Date Night” last night to our new favorite Mexican restaurant: Our back porch. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad.

Jackson took his role as our server very seriously, as he usually does pretend play. He never once broke character, even allowing us to take our masks off only after I convinced him we were the only patrons of the restaurant. This was the note taped to our front door when I loaded Jerimiah up in the car (with the dogs) and drove up the road and back while Jackson “prepared” (got into a suit and character).

When we got to “Saren Mexican Eatery” we were told that our table wasn’t ready and we were offered a spot at the bar, where we were lectured on the business of the restaurant business, and how it takes its toll on a person. Then we got drinks!

We ordered chips and queso, had to ask for the queso to be a little warmer since it was cold in the middle. We watched him “make” guacamole (dump it from a container into a bowl) and then we were told our table was ready. We took our drinks and appetizers to our sun porch, and well, hilarity ensued.

Eventually “Scott” came out (sans glasses) to take our order, and complained that “Dorian” wasn’t putting in the work and his section was slacking, but probably he’d be our server too. We did meet “Dorian” later, he really needed to get his shit together. Though his only real job was to come out onto the patio and announce parking problems every few minutes. Someone blocked the fire hydrant! Someone parked illegally! Someone needs to move their car! Things of that nature. Oh, Dorian. At least you’re cute.

Then there was the very loud, disruptive Spanish music blaring from Alexa while we ate. I’m sure it was very confusing to the neighbors, and the dogs didn’t seem to care for it so much. Eh, you can’t win ‘em all.

The main course came out quite late and not very hot, but I must say he was the only server/cook/manager on duty, and even though the food was precooked that day by the head chef (me) it could have used a tad more care. But we ate it without complaint, even when we were informed that the house was out of a few staples like tortilla chips and lettuce even the some of us knew we absolutely were not out of those items. Bizarre.

Dessert was not listed on the menu, it was a secret, and you kinda had to know how to ask for it. Also, the box of cheesecake bites was missing a couple when presented to us. Hmm…

All-in-all, we had a nice evening at Saren Restaurant and (Rebranded) Eatery, and even though our bill was absurdly wrong, the service lacked a certain, umm, finesse, and there were way too many dogs present, we still managed a hefty tip which was immediately pocketed by “Dorian” or maybe it was “Scott” while forgetting to actually clean up after us… Still I have it a 10 on Yelp.

M.

Cheating

I realize this is basically cheating, but I have a lot on my plate right now, and technically I *DID* write this today, so I am sharing a survey I took on Facebook. Listen, I partake in those cheesy, silly surveys on FB because my friends seem to like them, it makes them laugh and it gives me a chance to write crazy things, that I sometimes hope leads to actual things I can write about. Spurs a memory or gives me an idea for a piece of flash fiction. So let’s look at this as a moment of learning. Take the survey yourself. It’s dumb and cheesy, but it’s all I got. I had therapy today and it zaps me, for sure. Enjoy the silliness.

M.

You guys! It’s been awhile since a survey crossed my newsfeed, and you know I take one every time I see one (well when I allow myself more FB time). This one popped up today (actually Jerimiah tagged me in it, so it’s like he wanted me to partake). So you know what that means, it’s SURVEY SAYS* time! And don’t worry, I’m not gonna say anything about how we should be doing silly surveys to avoid political or Covid stuff. Matter fact, let’s just take a moment to remember a few things: 1. Trump is an asshat and must be voted out. 2. Covid is real, y’all need to be wearing your masks, social distancing, and listening to the CDC. 3. Black Lives Matter, anything else you say about it is racist and for the love of all that is holy can we please ARREST THE MEN WHO KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR! #ShameOnYouKentucky


*Remember you can play along in my comments if you really want to, but you don’t want to seem silly to your other, very real, very serious Facebook friends. This is a no judgement zone. All I ask is for 100% honesty and $1 every time you use the letter “e’.


Survey Says…


Age backwards: 12


Favorite pie: That one in the freezer section that is supposed to be some form of Key Lime, but I have had real Key Lime and it is nothing like real Key Lime, but also did you know that Key Limes are a real thing? They are just like tiny, little tiny limes, and they are actually pretty good in a margarita, and also there is such a thing as a margarita pie. It’s that thing where you pour yourself your 8th margarita and cut yourself a piece of Key Lime Pie and accidentally cut your hand on account of it being your 8th margarita and you stand very still at your kitchen counter, unsure about whether to scream, or to call 911, until you remember that appendages just bleed way more than they should and you are fine and had you actually routinely taken better care of your kitchen knives (and not had 8 margaritas alone on a Sunday) you probably would not be in this situation in the first place.


Italian or Chinese: Carbs


Pepsi or Coke: Here’s the thing, I live in Atlanta so I feel compelled to say Coke, because this is the home of Coke. For real, there is a secret Coke formula in a vault somewhere, probably buried underground at the World of Coke, which is coincidently right next to the aquarium, which now makes me wonder if the sharks are actually tasked with protecting the secret formula? Most likely. I like Diet Coke.


Chocolate or vanilla: “You can have any flavor you want.”

“I like Chocolate.”

“Racism is dead, Stanley.”


How many tattoos: Two, but I have been floating this idea of a third one. Hear me out! I shave my head. I start on the forehead and I do a dragon breathing flames. The flames go down my cheek onto my throat. On the top of my head is the dragon body, and the tail travels all the way down my spine. I call it, “Dragon on My Mind.”


Ever hit a deer: Not personally, I don’t condone human on deer violence, but one time I was very upset with a deer. He was eating my cantaloupe, and y’all know I had tried all the things the internet told me to try to keep the deer away. Then one morning, just as the dew was blanketing the fruit, the cool, crisp, summer morn rising above me, I walked into my garden and I saw that asshole deer. He froze. I froze. We stared at each other for what I thought was a moment of mutual understanding. I slowly said, “Mr. Deer, please stay away from my cantaloupe. I implore you. I need it to nourish my own family.” He gave me a sly smile, as deers often do, and said, “Bitch, this my cantaloupe now.” And I’ll be honest, it was the one and only time I wanted to hit a deer. Just slap him hard, one time, across the face. But I didn’t. I went back inside and shook my husband awake so violently that it helped soothe the rage I felt inside the depths of my soul.


Netflix or Hulu: Both and also HBO Max and Amazon Prime and Apple TV and occasionally a rented movie from Redbox, yeah, now you know how the 1% live


Favorite season: I want to say fall because I do love me all the fall stuff like sweaters (that Jerimiah calls my “Old lady sweaters”) and Pumpkin Spice anything especially candles (I’m a BB), but truth be told, honestly, for actual real, I like summer. I love being free with my kid to go and do whatever we want without the administration breathing down my neck all, “He’s already missed 11 days, and no Disney World is not an ‘educational trip’ even if you did make him read a collection of MAD magazine on the plane…” Bitches.
Last text from: “The Squad” Not T. Swift’s Squad, not “The Squad” from Congress (Y’all need to leave AOC and her girls ALONE!), but my “squad” which is actually way cooler than anyone in any of the aforementioned squads: Rachel, Jerimiah, Kasey, Melody


Broken bone: My wrist, in kindergarten. Then I cried silently in a corner for the rest of the day and my teacher repeatedly told me to buck up because there was nothing wrong with me, then when it was snack time and I refused a snack she knew something was up because ain’t no way Missy refusing a snack. So she called the nurse in and the nurse was all, “Her wrist is broken.” And I can only imagine my teacher felt like real, actual shit, and she had to call my mom and tell her that I had broken my wrist when I fell off the playground equipment three hours earlier and deal with the wrath of that moment. I had a cast on for eight weeks.


Surgeries: Hysterectomy a couple years back. Literally the best thing I ever did for myself and I highly recommend it to any and all women when the time is right. Ask me. I’ll tell you all you need to know, and then I will come check on you and bring you wine when it’s over.


Favorite color: Black like my husband’s supposed soul, I’m also fond of pink.


Favorite scent: See favorite season


Sunrise or Sunset: I feel like this is a trick question because the reality is we get to see both everyday of our lives if we are committed to it, and maybe this is like one of those tests the therapist gives you to see where you are emotionally and mentally at any given moment. Like if I say sunrises because it reminds me of a dragon and dragons make me think of death and we are all going to die one day and why am I spending so much time on FB surveys, just squandering all my precious minutes of this one life, this one damn sunset and sunrise, and maybe we should all be spending our time doing more meaningful things together like who wants to work on the world’s largest puzzle with me? And then my therapist, Patsy, as you guys have come to know her, would be, “Damn it, Missy, we have talked about this. No one wants to do puzzles with you.” What was the question?


Mountains or Beach: Mountainous beaches, because I really can’t pick. It is 100% however I feel at that particular time. Also, I think it is seasonal. I do not want to be at the beach in January (and trust I have) and I do not want to be in the mountains in spring (allergies). So, I like Malibu. Mountains and beaches. I like New England, mountains and beaches. I like Tijuana, tequila and shit you can’t unsee.


Dogs or cats: I don’t even know why this is a legitimate question. That’s like asking “Apples or Oranges?” I mean which one has to be picked at the height of the season, nourishes your body, protects itself from the harsh sun, and makes juice? I mean. Wait, okay that didn’t do a lot to further my point, but I hope you get the point. Oranges. Duh.


Early morning person: Sure, as long as I went to bed at 6:00 pm the night before.


Summer or Winter: Is this a little repetitive? SUMMER. My old bones can’t take winter anymore. But if it’s Chicago or NYC in the winter, we can talk…
Favorite Holiday: It 100% used to be the Fourth of July, until I started following all these “Decolonizing” pages on instagram and now, well, I can’t un-know shit you know? It’s like unseeing shit you saw in Mexico. That’s not a thing. But to be fair, I only liked the Fourth of July because it brought back good memories of my childhood, and playing softball in the summer, and I always think of that scene in “The Sandlot” where they are playing ball and the fireworks are exploding over them and my childhood summers were a lot like that and I miss it. But I can see fireworks at Disney now, and once you see those the rest can’t even be compared, so Imma go with Christmas.


Beer or wine: Wine. You do not want to know what beer does to my intestines. Unless you do, then DM me. I have pictures.


Mild or hot salsa: I’m feeling HOT! HOT! HOT! (I think it is early onset menopause…)


Smooth or crunchy peanut butter: Crunchy used to make me want to gag a little bit in my mouth, and I would walk around my house on my high horse all, “Crunchy is gross and if you support it, I can’t support you.” Then when I got pregnant the second time I had this hankering for Crunchy (Lydia must have loved her some crunchy like her daddy) and now I like it. Prefer it actually. It might be, I dunno, psychosomatic, a lingering symptom of PTSD, but I’m rolling with it.


Waffle or pancakes: Chicken and waffles, pancakes no syrup just butter, or nothankyou.

Our Kids

It’s 4:45 am, I’m wide awake and I just read this grim-ass statistic: 97,000 kids tested positive for Covid-19 last week. 97,000 kids. Meanwhile, we’ve got a president who’s going around saying that kids are “basically immune.” Listen, it might not impact kids the same as adults, but it’s getting to them. And every parent knows when your kid is sick, it sucks. And you wish you could be the one sick. You wish you could trade places with them, take their pain away. And this is all on top of the fact that our kids have been watching us panic, stress, or argue about Coronavirus for six months now. It’s a stressful time for kids, knowing that school is looming and they may have to battle this sickness or not go to school when they just want their normal lives back.

Bleh.

I have no real answers this morning, I’m just sad. I’m sad and scare for our kids. Keep your head up parents, and remember who is watching.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

That’s the Truth

As of late, I’ve been in a constant struggle with the word “truth”. What it means to me. What it means to those around me. My family. My friends. Our collective truth. I wonder about the price of it, the cost of it, the casualty of it. One minute I think it is the only thing that has gotten me this far in my life, my ability to lie so close to it, to my own truth. Then some days I think it will unravel me. It will haunt me until I die. It will destroy my compassion, my empathy, my good-natured ways. I wonder if I have good-natured ways. I doubt I always have good-natured ways.

Today I am considering sharing a story that has followed me around for years now, but I’m hesitant because I think the other person in the story will not have the same recollections that I do. I think the other person will remember it a different way. Will feel a truth that is foreign to me. Will wish the outcome had been different, so instead of writing about the moment in time when our realities diverge or collide, I instead sit alone in my office and continue to think about whose truth I’d actually be telling. And what is the intent of the truth besides. Intent. What is the intent?

I used to think, naively, that truth WAS the intent. But I don’t anymore. More often than not these days I’m leaning toward truth being merely a byproduct of compassion, empathy, those good-natured ways. If we have been raised well enough, loved enough as children, then certainly we’ve been taught that truth hurts, and sometimes that pain is not worth whatever the intent is on the other side. I’m rambling now. I’m a rambler, that’s one of my truths.

I guess I’m writing today to say that I’m not writing today. I can’t. Not just yet. Because some truths don’t feel like mine, even when they are.

Take care of your truths. I think it is the best way.

M.

Maybe It was the Tequila

A weird thing happened last weekend. Well, a couple of weird things happened. On Friday I had to take a Covid-19 test because I woke up with body aches, chills, and a fever. No doctor would see me, so I had to do a Telehealth visit with Atlanta Urgent Care at Emory, then visit a drive-thru testing site. The doctor treated me with antibiotics and steroids starting Friday, because I am susceptible to sinus infections, which I also had symptoms of, and the steroids were because they have found that starting Prednisone at the first symptoms of Covid-19 helps you stay out of the hospital, so it was a preventative measure. After my drive-thru testing on Friday afternoon, I was instructed to self-isolate until my test came back in three to six days. So I did, except for Saturday afternoon.

I was still feeling achy on Saturday so I suggested the hot tub to see if it would help. It did! But while we were out there Jerimiah drank a pitcher of margaritas. Which would be fine, if we didn’t have a Kroger order to pick up that evening. I mean, one of us had to drive to pick up the birthday cake I had planned on getting the day before, but ended up sick in bed instead. The best laid plans, or something like that… So I said no big deal, I’d just drive us both up there. It’s a simple process. You just open your trunk, they stick the bags inside, then it closes. It’s a contact-less pick-up so I felt okay about being in the car, with my mask on, even though I was self-isolating. And it would have been fine, had we not witnessed a hit-and-walk-away accident on the way.

Ten minutes later we were at the busy intersection of Lavista and I-285, which is the perimeter that runs around Atlanta. We live about a mile from The Perimeter and were headed into Atlanta, which is where our Kroger store is, when we were stopped at the stoplight while the traffic coming from the interstate was merging onto Lavista. A sudden noise caught our attention and we looked over to see an SUV smoking, its fender barely hanging on, the driver sort of sitting, while the cars bottlenecked behind him. There was some honking, everyone was kind of wondering what was happening. Then just as our light turned green and we started to go, the SUV also went (he had a red light). He realized his error, I suppose, but instead of stopping he turned into oncoming traffic. Everyone stopped their cars and watched the next few moments unfold.

The SUV was headed straight toward the oncoming traffic, while on the overpass above the interstate. The northbound traffic had no idea he was there, as they were now merging onto Lavista from the interstate, so he quickly tried to get back onto the correct side of the road, where he slammed into another SUV who was merging from the interstate as well. It was a mess. By this time we had slowly but surely made our way up through the next light and were the second car behind the accident, so we saw everything. Jerimiah immediately called the police, which several other people were doing. I instinctively jumped out of the car and ran to check the woman who had been hit. As I approached she gave me a thumbs up. She was already on her phone, presumably to the police or her partner. While I was walking up I noticed that the man who was driving the SUV got out of his car, he seemed fine, and started to walk to the woman he had hit, then stopped for a moment, and turned and walked the other way. Like, he just walked away from the scene.

Fortunately several other people were out of their cars at this point, and someone who was on the phone with the police actually followed the man as he walked away. He never ran, he never even hastened his footsteps. It was a bizarre thing to see.

At this point I heard yelling and a man was crossing the highway running toward me (I was directing traffic at this point) telling me to chase the guy. The man approached me quickly and I didn’t have to time to respond or ask him to back up. He was very close to my face. Too close. I could smell the tequila on his breath. Ironic, as I could smell Jerimiah’s too. This man, however, wasn’t talking quite right and he was making wild gestures with his hands. I caught a glimpse of his teardrop tattoo below his eye and I asked where he came from. “The Interstate,” he said. I didn’t know what to make of that, but he seemed like he was trying to be helpful, at first. Then a few minutes of following me around while I was pointing at cars, and informing people of what was happening, the man with the tear drop tattoo started talking about, “The Black man” who was “getting away…” and how he was tired of “Black men getting away.” Luckily Jerimiah came up to us at that point and the “Interstate Man” walked away.

The police were there rather quickly, I had time to move our car, and make my way back to see Jerimiah giving a statement along with the woman who was in the car in front of us. Everyone else had left. The woman in the car was okay, I took pictures of the accident for her. Her car would not turn on so the window would not roll down so she could talk to me, but we talked through the window. It was all very odd, a little scary, and unexpected for many reasons. When Jerimiah was giving his statement he learned the car was stolen, and that the police were able to find and apprehend the suspect, as he had just continued to walk coolly, calmly, down the highway. Drugs, they assumed. Drugs, I had assumed.

Or maybe it was just tequila.

M.

For Posterity

I’m in kindergarten and I’m hunkered behind our living room chair, my back against the wood paneling of our living room, and I have my sister’s portable cassette player. No idea where my sister is. There’s a faint sound of the mower in the background. My mother was probably out mowing the front lawn. I’m eating slices of cheese, the Kraft singles kind, only it’s not really Kraft because we couldn’t afford that kind. It’s an off brand yellow cheese and I’m pulling the piece into smaller pieces and sitting them around a plastic Tupperware plate, while the sound of some newsman blares through the recorded cassette tape I am listening to. The back of the chair has a large piece of wood running along it and I have my feet up against that piece of wood.

So there I am, eating my cheese, my back against wood, my feet on wood, listening to a recording that my mother made five years before. It’s a recording of the news from January 20, 1980. An hour after Reagan is inaugurated. It is a recording of the moment Ayatollah released the 52 American hostages from Iran. I am smitten with this recording and listen to it often.

Today, nearly 35 years after my mom made that recording in her small living room apartment on State Street, I have some questions. How did I get my hands on that tape? Did she want me to hear it? Why was I obsessed with a recording of hostages being released at six years old? Why did my mother feel the need to record that in the first place? She was barely pregnant with me the day the American diplomats were flown to Germany to the welcoming embrace of President Jimmy Carter, who had worked for over a year to free them, but just lost the general election and was robbed of the last heroic act of his presidency. What compelled her? Was it the state of the country at the time? Was everyone gathered around their television screens that afternoon, waiting, anticipating, feeling it was their patriotic duty to listen, to record history unfolding, with their American flag newspapers Scotch-taped into their wooden window frames? I can’t be sure. I just don’t know that country. That world. My mother, at that time.

I do know the feeling though. The feeling that what is happening, right now, in the present moment, feels in some way so important that we have to record it, write it, etch it into our collective memory for future generations to dust off and read, listen to, with their cheesy fingers sliding between pause and play, while the voices of those long gone cry and scream in release.

M.

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.