Sketching

Gratitude journaling came up in therapy the other day. I brought it up. I sort of hedged my bets that she might suggest something like that for me, considering I write. I said something like, “I need a way to work on the anxiety and stress of the day-to-day stuff,” and before I could even stop myself I said the word “gratitude,” then I winced. Patsy didn’t skip a beat, “Journaling, gratitude journaling, isn’t for everyone.” My problem, I explained, is that I am horrible at stream of conscious stuff because I am constantly editing. Not for grammar (as you can see) rather I’m always looking for how I fucked up the writing in some way (again, not grammar) therefore I can never let myself relax enough to just say whatever is top of mind, and then hope I make my way toward the gratitude. Then this here blog came up.

Just last week I explained to a friend that my blog isn’t my “real” writing. My “real” writing is much worse. So count yourselves lucky! My real writing takes AGES to actually accomplish, and puts me in such a tizzy most of the time that I can’t actually sit down to get the words out. This here blog, I explained to my friend and later to my therapist, is like if I were an artist (I wish) and this was my sketchbook.

You know how you always see really cool, artsy people walking around with little sketchpads? In my mind I’m that person. Except it’s my laptop, or my iPhone (yes, I blog from my phone), and whenever something strikes my fancy I jot it down here. That’s why this blog is a hot mess. That’s why the only things you can clearly gleam from my blog are my dislike of our president and the fact that there are no low-carb Cheeto options. Le sigh.

Why am I telling you this? Why do I tell you half the shit I do? To get it off my chest. To put it out there in this private/public sphere and hope that one of you will be all, “Oh yeah, that makes sense, Missy. I like you. You’re alright.” Also to say that maybe what you need to help you relieve stress or anxiety is something you do every day too? Because when I really think about it, this blog helps me with both my stress and my anxiety. It helps me get out what I need to get out, without the feeling that I will be judged or ridiculed for it. I mean this is my blog after all, and it houses my most ridiculous sketches.

So try it out today. Try out gratitude journaling if you haven’t. There is a lot out there about it, and how to get started. Or try knitting. Or try writing. Start a blog! It’s fun. Or make silly YouTube videos, or cook something amazing, use what you know and love to make yourself feel better. I’ll be over here in my corner dreaming about watercolors and oil on canvas. Sketching my day, my fears, and most likely naked, French women. Hey, we all have our thing…

M.

New Year's Vacation Story

I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking what the hell, Missy? You never told us all about your awesome New Year’s vacation. Well here’s the thing, I planned on telling you all, in parts, but I didn’t want to bombard you with too much too fast because I care about you, and because there was much more pressing stuff to discuss, like my neighbor Randy. But here it is, the beginning of the New Year’s Vacation story. It is long, and it is sordid, but I promise it is fun, so let’s just dive right in.

A couple of months ago our friends Dave, Beth, and Morgan asked if we would like to come visit them this winter in Rhode Island. Now I know that seems like a shitty thing to do, at first glance. Like, “Hey, we live up North, where the snow comes, and the cold comes, and the frostbite is likely to set in, would you like to come up and slowly die with us?” But, because of global warming, and because we have never visited that area (and they have been to Atlanta a lot) it turned out to be a nice invitation. So we accepted.

(This could all be wrong. We could have forced our way up there, I just don’t remember. I think I was drinking wine when the idea came up.)

Anyway, they have a group they celebrate New Year’s with in Syracuse, so we were also invited to join that group, which meant we would be leaving Atlanta for Syracuse on or near the 28th of December. Well I started Googling things, as I do, and realized that we have never been to Western New York, and you all know how much I like Buffalo wings, which led me to Buffalo, which led me to Niagara Falls, which led me to Canada, which led me to Toronto, and I know what you are thinking, “That’s too much, Missy, stop, you’ll kill your family!” Ha, you’re right. Also, here are pics of us in Buffalo eating wings, in freezing weather at Niagara Falls, and in downtown Toronto.

No worries, they are still alive.

I’m feeling scatterbrained about all that we accomplished in one week, and honestly, honestly, it was a really fun trip, though incredibly advantageous. And Jerimiah and I had the flu the whole time which made things not as lovely as we would have hoped, but even through all that, through 3,000 miles, 15 states, two countries, four hotels, 15 friends, a train ride, and a partridge in a pear tree, we had a superb time and we would totally do it all over again! Whew!

All the cool shit we did is going to have to wait now because I am tired just writing it all out. I will however leave you with a video. I do this fun thing wherein I sing a geographically-actuate song to Jerimiah on long road trips. He really, ahem, loves it. And believe me I had a lot of songs to sing this time around. Please enjoy.

M.

West Virginia Song

Randy's Back, Back Again

Y’all know Randy, right? Oh, sure you do. He’s my neighbor. The backyard kind. The kind I share a fence with. Okay, if you don’t know Randy there are some things to tell you, like I’m not sure his name is Randy. I don’t actually know what his name is, I have never Wilson-ed him from my backyard, mainly because it’s a privacy fence, and also because Randy always has a leaf blower and a set of headphones on. Also because who does that? I mean really. The other thing to know about Randy is that he’s a little creepy.

For instance, the first time I encountered Randy he was standing in his backyard looking up at a tree. He stood there for a very, very long time. So long that I got uncomfortable watching him. Like, who’s-the-creeper-now kinda thing, right? Still, I kept watch, wondering what was so interesting in that tree. I was just getting out of the shower when I first saw him from my bathroom window. I was naked, going on with my just-got-out-of-the-shower stuff, when I spotted him. The only things I could come up with was that he had a rough day at the office, his shoes were too tight, he’d stepped on a Lego, or maybe, just maybe he was an ornithologist. Either way, I shook my head and went on about my day.

The next day when I stepped out of the shower he was there again. Same stance. Same tree. No birds, from my view anyway. Weird. I asked Jerimiah if he had met, or talked to, or even caught a glimpse of Randy in his natural habitat. He said he had not. I made him run upstairs to see him standing there in his backyard, but he was gone. Weird.

The next day, you guessed it. Randy’s back at shower time, watching the empty tree. Hmm.

Next day. Same. Same. Sensing a pattern here? I was. Jerimiah meanwhile, never saw Randy. Not once. He was starting to think I had imagined Randy, which if I’m being honest isn’t too far off. I was starting to wonder myself, until that one day when Jerimiah and I hopped in the shower together and bOoM! Randy was standing there, looking at the tree. Remember when I said creepy?

So what is Randy’s deal? Listen, I don’t know. But I did go buy curtains for our bathroom window. I even walked out into our backyard when Jerimiah was in the shower to see if Randy could see anything through the glass, and honestly there is a glare. But, and here is the big but, as soon as the summer came Randy disappeared. No more trips into the backyard. Occasionally I would see him sitting in his screened back porch with what appeared to be binoculars, but he never ventured out. Then today, bOoM! Randy is back. Same backyard, same tree with no birds, same leaf blower. Honestly I was starting to worry about Randy, so I’m glad he’s back. But now I take shorter showers, just in case.

M.

Mawkish

The first time I took a writing class where the professor instructed us to write creative nonfiction, I wrote a story about my sister. About how she would tease her hair, and as a child I would watch her in the mirror. She would tease, tease, tease, then she would ask if I wanted teased. Lots of teasing in the 80s. Lots of teasing with big sisters. I wrote my heart onto the pages for the first time ever. I made connections, pulled loose strings. I fell in love with the genre immediately. It called to me, to the little girl in the mirror, circling the big girl looking back through rose-colored glasses. I felt relieved that this sort of writing existed. I felt comforted.

I turned my essay in. My professor gave me a B. Made sure I knew he was being generous. He said my language was dramatic, yet lacking. He was a Shakespeare scholar. My subject choice, he said, was “saccharine”. Saccharine, I thumbed through my dictionary. Was that relating to sugar? Sweet, sticky? Overly sentimental. Mawkish. Why didn’t the Shakespeare scholar write mawkish on my essay? This was nearly fifteen years ago.

I’m hyperaware now of my own sentimentality.

I’m aware of what is expected, of what is tolerated in the genre.

I’m weary of bearded Shakespeare professors.

Still, I would have preferred mawkish.

M.

New Year's Resolution

I was back to see Patsy today (for the new people hiding in the back, Patsy is my awesome therapist). She was either booked solid, or away the whole month of December so I had A LOT to talk to her about. There was the pretty low spot I found myself in right after Thanksgiving. There was a whole month of guilt trips from family about coming home for Christmas, there was even the “Toaster” story that I had been saving up for her because I knew how she would react (jaw drop, head shake, a “What the actual hell?”) Oh man, it was good. But before I went back for my hour of emotional torment, I noticed an interesting thing in the waiting room. Lots of people I don’t normally see on my biweekly Tuesday or Thursday morning vists. Like, mainly mature, white men. I was sort of surprised. The five or so minutes I waited I also heard the office staff book three or four evaluations, which made me very happy because mental health is very important and I get the sense, over the last few years, more and more people have realized that.

I know what you are thinking. It’s probably the same thing I thought as I sat there watching people uncomfortably fill out paperwork in the first week of January, maybe they made this a New Year’s resolution? Maybe so. Hopefully. But who cares?! Listen, I know the general feeling nowadays, particularly from my generation, toward setting a New Year’s Resolution. Let’s call it, umm, jaded. And I gotta be honest, I just don’t get it.

What is so wrong with taking a clean, fresh start on a day that literally gives us a clean, fresh start? Maybe I don’t get it because I am a grade A, low-life, procrastinator who has said, “Oh, I’ll just do it on Monday” before. Because Monday is a clean, fresh day. Monday hasn’t been tampered with like Saturday has. Monday has so much potential. Monday will be better.

This got me thinking about the day I was baptized. I was baptized as an adult. I was 30 years old in fact, and it was after a particularly difficult point in my life and I needed direction. And faith. And cleansed. Looking back I should have made a therapist appointment instead of a sitting in a pool of my own filth in a white gown, but you live, you learn. The point is, I felt cleansed. I felt fresh. I felt like I could start over. So I did.

That’s what the new year does for some people. It allows them to shake off the negative shit they endured the year before. It allows them to start over. No one is trying to reinvent themselves from December 31st to January 1st, but they are trying to change their mindset. And what is so wrong with that? Why the jokes about gyms getting hit hard this time of year? Why belittle people for taking a difficult step? Maybe it makes you feel better, and if so may I recommend you get yourself a Patsy?

Because you posting on Facebook how you aren’t “dumb enough to make a resolution” isn’t helping your third cousin, once removed who is battling mental illness make that eval call. It isn’t helping your aunt who has decided 2020 is a year of change and she’s going to join Silver Sneakers. Your jaded opinions on New Year’s Resolutions aren’t helping anyone, unless to serve a few laughs, or help you commiserate with all the other haters. And again, I can give you Patsy’s number. You’ll love her, she’s great.

Here’s all I’m asking, and I’m asking it nicely the first time around: Can you spare a little more kindness? Can you think for an extra second before you share a meme about how the gym is crowded, or the health food store is crowded, or the therapist office is crowded this time of year? Because there are some of us out there who just need a definitive line. A point of no return. A cleanse, before we can take a leap. And yeah, maybe it won’t stick. Maybe by the first week of February my therapist’s office will be empty again, but maybe it won’t. There’s always that.

I didn’t set a resolution this year because I didn’t have a clear one to set, but maybe next Monday I will have one. Until then, I’m hopeful for all of you who did! This is your year!

M.

Support Our Troops

I don’t know if Fox News did a story on someone disrespecting our troops yesterday or what, but my news feed on Facebook was lit up with people telling me that I was disrespecting the troops. It’s a slippery slope to assume that because people don’t want to go to war (again) that those people don’t respect our women and men in the military. It’s asinine and kind of, well, dumb. I have many friends and quite a few family members in the service, and to think that I don’t support them when they HAVE to do their job is ridiculous. I’m against any conflict because of the people I love in the military, not in spite of them.

I think we can all agree that no one should go to war, as it only begets more death, but if we must, if that is what our government decides we must do, then our military will suit up for us, and we will support them. Regardless of whether we think our current administration handled the situation well or not. Because it is not the troops fault. They are literally just obeying commands.

This divisive rhetoric of “You don’t support troops” is played out. Last month you were telling me if I don’t stand for the flag, I’m disrespecting them. Three months ago if I bought Nikes I was disrespecting the troops. The propaganda machine has been hard at work since 2016, gearing us up for this very moment, and it shows. Man, it shows.

No one is saying our troops suck, even when we say their Commander-in-Chief does. It isn’t their fault. He’s a voted politician, and they are enlisted to protect and serve our country, regardless of who their CIC is. And he’s their boss, even if he sucks at it. They have to do what he says (along with the proper support from the other branches of government). We get that. We aren’t dumb. We’re just empathetic. And honest. And well-versed in history, and how it repeats itself.

I have yet to meet a person in real-life who would meaningfully disrespect the people who fight for our freedom to rally with our “Make Love, Not War” signs. And if you really, honestly, believe that if I say, “President Trump sucks, and is doing a horrible job,” and that equates to me showing disrespect to our troops, then honestly I’m not sure I can help you anymore. No one can. You’ve already closed up your mind and your heart. Which is appalling, sad, and adding to the “divisiveness” you so desperately pretend to care about when spitting this oft-recycled rhetoric.

Please stop.

M.

Bursting of the Bubble

The thing about vacation is, if done right, it can shield you from the harsh realities of the world. That’s what happened to me last week. I was far enough removed from all news sources (I never read a paper or turned a television on) that I had no idea what was happening, and I was blissfully ignorant. In fact, on the way to New York I was uploading a video to social media of me singing a geographically relevant song to my husband (a tradition we *cough* both *cough* love on road trips) when I caught a glimpse of the 82nd Airborne loading a plane in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I messaged our nephew to make sure he was still safely on leave in Kansas City, and he was. He is. For now. That’s all I needed to know at that moment. I fell back into the black hole of vacation bliss.

That was until the train ride to New York City on our last Friday in the hole. My traveling companion made a comment about how she was trying to ignore “Iran” and I desperately tried to ignore it with her. Then a few minutes later I was standing in the dining car with Jackson, loading up on soda and candy, and I overheard a man in a booth saying that our president threatened Iran via Twitter. Bubble bursted.

What’s worse, I thought who would be okay with this?! Who is out there thinking this is fine, and normal, and that we need another war? Then yesterday, when we got home, after we caught a few winks, I logged onto Facebook and I found them. Those people who blindly support our president. Those people who take our military for granted. Those people who forget that we lost 4,500 service members in the long, arduous war with Iraq starting in 2002. Those people. Those people who say, “Oh, you’re scared of Iran? Pft!”

Because yes. I am scared of Iran. Because yes, I am scared of war. And not just because I have a lot of military in my family, but because I can see. I can remember. I can connect the dots of war. I am scared for our people. Our country. Our world. I am scared for the little boys and girls who are 18 years old and being shipped doff to a world they don’t know to fight because our president started a war on Twitter. I am scared for what this will do to our steady-ish economy. What this will do to our children. Their children. Whole generations are torn in war. Do these people really not remember? Have they never read a history book? Are they so blinded by their strict opinions on anything from guns, to abortion, to Fox News that they can’t see past the tips of their noses? The answer is yes. Yes they are.

I know I’m not saying anything new to most of you. Most of you are in the boat with me. Shaking your heads. Checking to ensure your voter card is in your pocket. Holding the cross on your neck. Speaking goodnesses into the world in an attempt to change the track we are headed down. And I thank you. I thank you for all you do, all the time you spend worrying, wishing, hoping, praying. But tell me, what do we do now? Because I am lost in this moment. Lost and wishing for that hole again.

Stay safe out there.

M.

I Can Buy Baby Llamas Now

It’s the night before the world goes back to normal and I’m fighting it. Fighting it pretty hard. School starts again tomorrow. Jackson has been out for just over two weeks now and it’s been amazing, and wonderful, and full of surprises and adventures. We had a wonderful Christmas at home, then we took a whirlwind trip (of which I have a ton more to share) to New York State, Toronto, Rhode Island, and NYC. But tomorrow it’s back to normal and it’s down to just Sir Duke and me at home, and I know what that means. I freak out.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my “Missy” time, and I need it more than ever now that I’m back at my own house after being gone for eight days, but I also know how lonely and quiet my house will be in the morning, and I am not looking forward to it. No one yelling about how I didn’t make waffles, again, and that’s all he wanted. No one sliding down the stairs in his belly, while the dog jumps and barks at him. And to make matters worse, Jerimiah goes back to his office tomorrow. Le sigh.

Jerimiah has been working from the home office (Lego table turned into a desk in the family room) for about four months now. So we’ve been able to sneak away for lunch dates, and sneak upstairs for, you know, whatever dates, and walk together to get Jackson from school, and such. It’s been quiet, but I always knew I could just yell from my office downstairs to ask, “Can I buy this baby llama on Craigslist or what?!” And he could simply yell back, “I’m going to stop telling you that you can’t buy farm animals, because we live in Atlanta and you are 38 years old and you are smart enough to know the correct answer.” It’s been fun.

But his office has been renovated now, and he’s expected back to work tomorrow, which means we go back to Jackson and I patiently waiting for the headlights to crest the driveway at 6:00 pm so we can pretend like we haven’t already eaten most of our dinner, while we move the food around on our plates. That is to say there will be an adjustment period getting back to real life, and while I am looking forward to being able to play Adele at top volume while I sweep the kitchen, I’m sad about all the other stuff. But, I guess I can buy baby llamas easier now, and have some time to hide them before he gets home. So… Win?

I hope you all have a great “First Day Back” tomorrow. May there be plenty of baby llamas to go around.

M.

The Lion King

We took Jackson to his first Broadway show last night: The Lion King! We asked our friends if they were up for a show and they said, “Of course!” So we debated a few different shows, with The Lion King in our back pocket. Then the day before we were headed to NYC, Beth’s uncle (who happens to be a sub in The Lion King pit) called and said he was doing the evening show the next night and invited us to come for a backstage tour if we wanted to. And yeah, we wanted to. And trust, neither the show nor the tour disappointed.

Now I’m no reviewer, and The Lion King was only my third Broadway show so I won’t try to review it, but I will say that if you’ve never seen it please get there ASAP. And don’t be late for the opening act, because it’s the absolute best part! Jackson agreed, until we got to the tour part and he got to meet Zazu IN PERSON!

That’s Jackson, holding his Disney Store Simba (Tip: They are $8 at the store across the street from the Minskoff, and since Disney gets all the money anyway, why not?) and he’s talking to Zazu, sure, and also to Jim Ferris, the amazing actor who works Zazu (and is the understudy for Timon and Pumba—be still my heart). How cool is that?! It’s pretty cool. And pretty special. Want to see something even more cool and special?

That’s the kids holding THE Simba puppet from the show! Now want to see something even more cool?!

That’s me, being attacked by wildebeests!

Well, maybe not. Still cool though, right?

Fine, fine, I know. I’m not that fucking cool. Usually. But I gotta admit one thing: The Lion King was awesome, and it was an interesting, exciting, amazing night on Broadway. And we are so lucky to have had that experience. And I have a thousand other stories and pics to share, and I promise I will, but tonight I’ll just leave you with a few more pics.

M.

What Luck, This Life

I’m on an Eastbound Amtrak headed for New York City, and I’m cozy and warm in a big, business class seat. My son’s listening to music on his headphones, staring out into the lesser-known parts of Connecticut. He’s sitting next to one of his best friends, she’s re-watching last night’s Doctor Who episode. They’re taking a breather. They’re mentally preparing for an advantageous night ahead. Advantageous, an adjective I’ve been trying to work out in my head. An adjective I’m choosing over “crazy,” and adjective we’ve grown accustomed to as we travel this life with these people.

I’m Eastbound on an Amtrak, sitting next to my friend Beth, and we’re swapping stories from our family tree, amongst ohs and awes from the cliffed sea walls, the lone fishing boats dotting the landscape, the shipyard in Mystic with the buoys, and the beautiful sailboats we know nothing about, but wish we did.

We boarded at Kingston Station, and when we arrive at Penn Station we will reunite with our husbands, traveling by car to The Big Apple. Then we will see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller. Then we will see The Lion King on Broadway. Then we will be light, and joyful, and tired. So tired. But some things are worth it. Until then, slow and steady we go, Eastbound on an Amtrak and I just can’t shake the quote, “What luck, this life!” Because really, what luck, this life of mine!

Luck to you all this day and the rest of 2020!

M.

Whose Car is This?

The first part of our whirlwind trip this week was to Niagara Falls. Neither Jerimiah nor I had ever been and we wanted to experience it with Jackson for the first time while he was still young enough to stand in awe of the falls, in the event they weren’t as awesome as we’d heard. We didn’t need to worry about that of course, because they were awesome. Even in 30 degree winter weather.

Yes, that face was worth the drive through all of Kentucky and Ohio. Ha! We went to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because we had been told that it was “The side” to go to, and that was correct information. However, we had never been to Canada either (insert gasp!) I know, I know. We are horrible. So we thought, well why not go up to Toronto since we were so close? Why did we think this? Because we are a little crazy, but mainly we like adventures. And well, I will let the pictures do the talking.

In short, Toronto was amazing and we will be back. The funniest bit, aside from Jerimiah screaming at the GPS about converting miles into kilometers and trying to decide how much petrol is in a liter, was crossing back into the United States. We had our passports with us, so it wasn’t too hard to get into Canada. We answered a few questions about where we were going and what we were doing, and the Border Crossing agent waved scanned our passports and told us to have a great time. On the way back however, the US Border Patrol were very confused about how we ended up in Toronto. They man almost gasped when our tags popped up on his screen and he demanded, “Whose car is this?!” Jerimiah was all, “Ours.” He then said, “You drove this car all the way up from Georgia to spend a day in Toronto?” “Yeah,” Jerimiah said, then smiled. The agent then said, “You have family there?” We explained that we did not, that we just wanted to see the city. He asked us to roll the back window down. He looked at all our things and I was convinced we’d be unloading our shit on the side of the road, when he handed our passports back and told us to have a good day. A couple miles down the road we looked at each other and were like, what the actual hell just happened? Oh, Border Patrol.

So there we are, just a little family who drove to Toronto for an adventure, and we are totally okay with that, even if it seems crazy.

Remember to have adventures sometimes, y’all!

M.

The Salt Belt

It’s a unique experience driving through Northern states during the winter. We’re in day five of our eight day trip now, and just safety arrived in Rhode Island this afternoon. The weather is cold, but it’s not snowing. At this moment anyway. We realized, most suddenly today, that we’ve lived in the South for too long to remember that frost clings to trees in the wintertime, in long, thick icicles. That ponds freeze over. That snow storms drop out of nowhere. That people own boots, and several pairs of ski gloves, and say things like, “They’re out salting tonight.” It’s astonishing and slightly absurd how fast it’s all slipped from our Midwest memories.

Jackson asked what that “tepee looking thing” was, while driving east from Buffalo to Syracuse. I explained it was where they kept the salt. He hmpf’d and went on about his business. I thought nothing of it, then a few moments later he said, “Wait, what salt? Table salt?” I guess he thought they liked all their meats brined here. I mean, that’s not wrong, but what I meant was the salt for the roads.

Because in New England and in the Midwest, from Maine to Missouri, Kansas to Connecticut they still salt the roads. They roll out in big trucks, hours, sometimes days before a storm is expected and they lay down a coat of salt. It’s funny how easily I forgot about the way the lines form in the road from the backs of trucks. How K-Mart parking lots turned into makeshift salting HQs. How men smoking cigarettes, with snow plows fastened to their old Chevy trucks, run up and down the road in the dead of the winter and layer this protection on our roads.

Geez, I’m sure there are ramifications. Of course there are. The rusting from the salt. The money for infrastructure. The tax dollars. The equipment, the salt “tepees.” It adds up. And probably, likely, there are safer, more cost-effective, more environmentally-conscious ways. And maybe I’ll investigate more one day. But for now, for tonight, I’ll lie in my hotel bed and remember the men and the trucks. The salting and the K-Mart parking lots. And I’ll miss the Salt Belt a little more.

Stay warm!

M.

Six States in Fourteen Hours

Counting our home state of Georgia, we were in six states in fourteen hours yesterday. I’m tired, and a little cranky, but we’re headed to Toronto today, so a little Tim Horton’s and poutine and I’ll be all fixed up. Just watch.

We’ve been to each of these states before, but not all the cities we visited on the way from Atlanta to Buffalo last night. Our favorite “new to us” city was definitely Cincinnati! From the moment we rounded the corner and saw the skyline we were in love. Although the architecture reminded us of other Rust Belt cities, the bluffs overlooking the Ohio River were fantastic, and just different enough than say, Milwaukee. In fact, we liked the view so much we stopped for a picnic lunch at Eden Park, right near the conservatory, overlooking the old neighborhoods below.

Even with our leisurely lunch in Cincy, we were still able to gawk at Lexington, KY (and a lot of questions concerning Jockeys came up 🤔, still working on the answers) and we had plenty of time to make fun of The Ark Encounter while we passed it. Oh Kentucky, you’re an odd bird.

We passed quickly through Columbus, the Cleveland-area, and Lake Erie, PA (it was pitch black by 5:45 pm) trying to stay on course to Buffalo before The Anchor Bar closed. The Anchor Bar lays claim to being the home of Buffalo Wings! So I mean, that was a must-see (and eat) cause y’all know about me and buffalo wings, if not, well, now you know…

Last stop was our hotel on Grand Island, which set us up nicely for a jaunt over the border today, where we will be visiting Niagara Falls, Canada, and Toronto for the first time! We are all super excited!

So there you have it, the short version. Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York in a matter of hours. And that’s just the first leg of our New Year’s trip. Whew! Wish us luck! More pics of Cincy below!

M.

Sliver of Hope

If you’re traveling Southeast on the Perimeter in Atlanta, somewhere between Chamblee and Tucker, right before you approach Spaghetti Junction, you can catch a glimpse, just a small sliver, of the giant Christmas tree atop Stone Mountain. You can see if for a second or two, at the convergence of I-85 and I-285. You have to look quickly or you’ll miss it. And if the sun is setting behind you, and it’s been a sunny, mild day in Georgia, and if the wind is somewhat still, and if the taillights and headlights are not on quite yet, then you can see the tree perfectly, sitting proudly atop the mountain.

Tree is a stretch. It’s really just a string of lights from the top of a tower, to the bottom. More like a teepee of lights. But it can be seen from miles away in any direction, and when you catch the first glimpse of it, it makes you warm and toasty, and it feels spectacularly like Christmastime in the city.

The better view is at Stone Mountain itself, but you have to go on a clear night. When we meandered over it had been rainy and overcast for a few days and the tree, from Stone Mountain Freeway, looked like a fireball on top of the giant monadnock. But on a clear night, nearer to sunset, with the right conditions and maybe a mug of hot cocoa, the tree lights up fantastically, reminding all around that it is indeed Christmastime, and that we are indeed in one of the biggest cities in the USA, but that we are together, a close community of love and light. And it makes you want to treat people better. And it makes you want to drive the Perimeter one more time. And it makes you remember how small, but how important you are. It’s just a sliver of hope, just a beacon in a crowded world, but it’s there shining bright for all to see.

Thanks Atlanta, for surprising me yet again, on our first Christmas here. Thanks for looking out for us, for making us feel like home, for reminding us that though we are small, we are mighty through you.

M.

Welp, That’s Over…

Listen, I love Christmas, but holy hell y’all, I’m ready to move on with my life. Well I was, until I peeked into my laundry room and saw the mountain of dirty laundry, looked at my to-do list, at our vacation itinerary, realized I have no idea where our passports are, that I don’t have a winter coat, and oh shit, I might need snow boots for New York. You think? Probably. I know my mommies are with me on this one, most of y’all anyway. Some y’all scare me with your year-round Christmas spirit, but most of us breathe a sigh of relief when the stockings have been hung, the cookies eaten, the wrapping paper in the trash can (it’s not recyclable, y’all because it is coated paper), and the house is back to kids playing with their new toys for 24 hours, before they are bored again. I know y’all agree with me because this bad boy showed up in my feed all day yesterday…

Me! Me! Me!

It’s the stress, for sure. The anxiety. All the memos I have to keep in my head. The secrets. Oh the secrets! Every year Jerimiah and I look at each other on December 22nd are we are like, “Do we just open them all now?!” Then we decide we better not, and we wait patiently. We do test runs with how it should all be. We move secret gifts from the creaky attic to more neutral spots throughout the house. We have lost presents.

It’s the worry over doing all the things. The viewing of Christmas lights, the visiting of Santa, and now they throw the Grinch on us, what is up with that?! I have to visit the Grinch now too! It’s the planning of the meal, it’s the constant barrage of family members asking if you will be “home.” “Yes,” my husband said to someone this season, “We will be home.” Our home. Georgia. You’re welcome to stop by. (You gotta set boundaries with family members like this y’all, or your Christmas spirit will be yanked from you. Have the conversation twice, then stop. Ignore the texts and the guilt, it’s not your fault, you’re doing your best. Yeah, I’m giving myself a pep talk here.)

It’s all over now. Well sort of. I’m still getting the guilt texts, but guess who doesn’t give two shits anymore, because I am in vacation planning mode. Which coincidently was part of our Christmas and anniversary gift to each other, a trip, somewhere we want to go. Somewhere we have never been before, for pure fun. Merry Christmas to us!

So, there it is. It’s over and you can breathe a sigh of relief. We made it another year. Another Christmas. Another round with Elf on the Shelf. Another meeting with Santa Claus. Another Christmas dinner. Another going from feeling like a shitty mom to the best mom, all in 12 hours. Oh Christmas, you’re the ultimate guilt trip.

Take a break today, y’all. Sit back, sip some wine, tell your kids to leave you alone for thirty minutes, turn your cell phone off, and pat yourself on the back because you made it. And that’s over. For the next 11 months.

M.