Peaches

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

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

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

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

M.

Stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

The “W”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Drowning

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

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

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

M.

Wonderstruck

I have favorite words. I keep a list of them in my mind. Words that I’m eager to see out in the real world. Then when I come across one, I am overjoyed. I’m sort of like a birder who is traipsing across the American Southwest and comes across their first elf owl. They stand in awe of the world’s smallest owl, burrowed deep in a woodpecker’s saguaro hole. The birder might snap a picture, they might just look from a safe distance, their necks craned, their binoculars on high. That’s how I feel when I read someone else’s work, and one of my words pops up. Magic.

Yesterday I was thumbing through the newest Pushcart, an assignment for school, and I decided on an essay to read. Three paragraphs in was the word, tintinnabulation. Sweet Jesus, I could hear the tinkling when I saw the word! There it was, in all its glory! I wanted to snap a picture. I wanted to run downstairs and show Jerimiah. Then it hit me. I was forced to face my own nerdy ways. I’m a mess, a nerdy mess. So instead I read the paragraph over and over again until the ringing stopped.

M.

Sleepy Time

A Klonopin, two sleep aid tablets, and a melatonin gummy, that’s my sleep regimen. I’ve been talking so much about sleep lately, or lack of, that I’d thought I’d share my concoction. It’s not perfect, in fact some days it’s not even good, doesn’t work. Makes me very tired, then goes away. Maybe my body adjusts? Either way, a Klonopin, two sleep aid tablets, and melatonin are my best friends.

Last night I took my concoction and went to bed. I read for an hour, no sleep, then another thirty minutes. Finally, my eyes just sort of closed. An hour later I was wide awake, looking at the clock. Midnight. Great.

Tossing and turning ensued, and by 4:30 am I decided to call it a day. I got up, took a shower, and was just about to get clothes on for the day when I thought maybe I’ll try to lay back down. Luckily I fell right to sleep this time, and slept until it was time for my doctor’s appointment. Probably what had been keeping me up anyway. Stress. Huh! It’s a bitch.

Hope y’all are sleeping well! If so, can you catch up on some for me. I’d appreciate it.

M.

Truth and Honesty

“‘What is truth?’ said Pontius Pilate, who probably wrote elegant essays in his spare time. I would be more willing to attach myself to the word ‘honesty’. We may not ever be in possession of the truth, but at least as nonfiction writers we can try to be as honest as our courage permits. Honest to the world of facts outside ourselves, honest in reporting what we actually felt and did, and finally, honest about our own confusions and doubts.”

That’s a line from Phillip Lopate’s To Show and To Tell, a craft book on creative nonfiction and obviously a line in my commonplace book. This struggle for truth I’m on. This constant trying to get it right, to the best of my memory, well, it’s a slippery slope. A hard time. And more and more I’m wondering about being the most honest version of myself. Regardless of how others want to claim my truth, their truth, the truth. Whatever the truth is.

But am I courageous enough? That’s the real question. Here I am twiddling my thumbs, asking for others to give me permission, but for what? To speak my own honesty? To give myself permission to go there, wherever there is?

I think I’ve been seeking permission for too long. I think we probably all have, in our own small ways. I think it’s time to be done with that. Be courageous in your honesty. Courageous in your doubts and confusion. Let them have their truth.

M.

Moving Forward

My 39th birthday is right around the corner. I’ve got a million things going on between my school, Jackson’s virtual school, the house, this global pandemic, and several doctors appointments lined up this week to try to figure out what’s wrong with me. That might be the most stressful part. Sure I’m inching closer to forty, but man, does it need to feel like it?

I’m still trying everyday not to complain. I know I don’t have much to complain about considering the world we live in. I have a great family, we have a stable income, I get to work from home all day, everyday with my husband and son. I’m way more involved in Jackson’s school life than normal 6th grade would allow, and my dogs, well they are a pain in my ass, but they’re so damn cute. And then there’s Jerimiah. Most days I don’t know how he puts up with me, but lately he’s not just been putting up with me, he’s also been taking care of me. I guess it’s that whole “in sickness and in health” deal. Thanks, Jerimiah.

Grandparents are healthy. Our friends are all safe. Our extended family is good. We don’t get to see everyone as much as we’d like, but we’re all making do.

But still I’m walking around in a daze most of the time. I’m trying to be positive. I’m trying to be upbeat. I’m trying to stay chipper, but some days are better than others.

I’m getting a scan of my veins and arteries this week, hopefully that will give us some answers. I have an an appointment with a Rheumatologist, more answers, fingers crossed anyway. But the beat still goes on, yeah? The world still turns. Yeah. It all keeps going whether we need a breather or not. I think that’s what I love about this life. We don’t have much of an option. Just forward.

So yeah, I’m turning 39 soon. My age is moving forward, my feet are doing the same. And eventually my heavy head and heart will catch up. Here’s to a good week, y’all! May you be healthy and context if you can’t quite be happy.

M.

I’m Vintage Now

I had a random memory today of rocking in a rocking chair of my very own when I was little. I’m not sure how old I was, maybe four, and I had on a blue sailor dress and it was my birthday. I’d just plopped down in the rocking chair made for someone like me (a kid) and I rocked and reached television. I’m not sure where the rocking chair came from, but I faintly remember what it looked like so I welcomed the internet in to help search. And I found the one closest to the rocking chair in my memory.

My rocking chair looked like this one. I think it might have been from The Cass Toy Company, at least that’s what internet sleuths before me have said. The company burned down before I was born, but it’s possible, and likely, this was a hand-me-down, or a garage sell find.

Anyway, I’m wishing I had that little chair now. Some of that four-year-olds energy, and just a smidge of that “vintage” charm around here.

By the way, I had to Google “vintage” in order to find this rocking chair from my childhood. What the hell?!

Maybe, probably we are all vintage by this point.

M.

Reset

Geez, sorry you guys. I’ve been a sad sack lately. I think this is just some of that ebb and flow we always talk about with emotions and the world sits with us. I’ve been particularly stressed lately because of starting school, and Jackson starting school, and a few other things I’m not quite ready to talk about on here, but when I am you know I will talk y’all like crazy about them.

Really what I am wishing for right about now is a reset button. Ever wish for one of those? Like when I was a kid and I would realize I was not going to make it back to the top of the Q-bert stack so I’d just reach over and hit restart on the Nintendo. Ahh, that was a good feeling. A do-over. A mulligan. That’s what I need for this week. Maybe this month. Certainly this year.

Let’s all look for that reset button today, okay? Maybe it’s nature? Maybe it’s a walk by yourself listening to your favorite podcast. Maybe it’s a call to your best friend. Whatever it is, find your reset button and hit it for me. Maybe it will reset us all.

Here’s to wishing.

Take care of yourself, and each other.

M.

Keeping On

It’s the middle of the night and I’m awake again and I need to pee but the dog is laying on my leg and she’s breathing hard, those quick, hard puppy breathes that mean she’s sleeping soundly and I don’t want to wake her. We don’t all need to be awake. We don’t all need to be prowling around the house in the middle of the night.

I’m two books in to this semester and I’m having bad dreams. Maybe not bad dreams, but certainly strange ones. Dreams about ghosts, and kudzu, and pits that are black and don’t end. I’m dreaming about the Civil War and death, and I’m seeing relics from another time.

I’m fighting back a bout of lows that always comes this time of year, but some years I don’t have the time for it to come and this is week two of my MFA program and I’m two books in, 10 articles, three discussions, a handful of Zoom calls, and I’m tired. I want to sleep most of the day because I’m awake most of the night and this cloud is following me around but I’m managing. And I’ll manage. Until I won’t anymore.

I’m crossing my fingers for December.

Keep on keepin on, y’all.

M.

Thursday

It’s been a tough week. Mentally, emotionally, physically. I’ve had therapy, the mental and physical kind. I saw Patsy on Tuesday, Marissa on Wednesday. I stretched my hips, curled my back, iced. I flexed my Id, remembered my pain, cracked some jokes. Taught my son some coping mechanisms. Didn’t give myself credit. Met my cohorts in a Zoom call, said very little. I haven’t lived up to myself this week, but some weeks are better than others and it’s not over yet.

It’s only Thursday.

I hope you’re having a wonderful week. The kind that others dream about. I hope you’re choosing joy and being kind, especially to yourself.

M.

Storms

It’s another 4:00 am post. I’ve been waking up each night at 3:00 am, and tossing and turning, waiting patiently to fall back to sleep. Last night I read, tonight I’ll write. Maybe tomorrow I’ll just stare blankly at the cracks of light in the curtains until my eye lids get heavy and my breathing slows.

Yesterday would have been my daughter’s ninth birthday. I’m supposed to have a daughter. Jackson is supposed to have a little sister. She should be nine. Playing Minecraft with her brother, asking for dolls, crazy over the Korean pop bands, or maybe just learning how to braid her own hair. I don’t know. I don’t know what daughters do, or like, or how they live.

Tonight I’m stuck in this same spot. I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. The weather is changing. There’s are two storms coming up the Gulf. And I just don’t know what daughters do. I’m sure I’ll get more time to think about it. I hope I’ll get more time to think about it. Just not at 4:00 am.

M.

The Floor is Flour

We ran out the other day to pick up Jackson’s snare and bells set, and we left the dogs inside. Now normally we’d let them chill outside, with a bowl of fresh water, and the door open to the sun porch, with the fan left on, just in case they get hot. Yeah, our dogs are spoiled like that. But we were in a bit of a hurry, so we just closed up all the doors upstairs, and left. The dogs stayed inside, which the doggy door on case they needed out.

We were only gone about two hours, and when we got home we were greeted by this:

I was the first one in and when a long gasp escaped my lips, Winnie ran outside. Duke stood there looking at me, no guilt in his face. And when Winnie finally came back in, we were met with this:

Not that we doubted for a second who the culprit was, it was nice to have the proof. She also had white paws, and clumps of flour all over her chin and chest because at some point she got thirsty, probably all the flour, and mixed water with the flour which, if you can imagine, was no fun to scrub off the floor.

So, what’s the point of this post? There isn’t one, unless to say that she’s still alive, but I thought for a split second about shipping her to a grandparent for a few weeks.

Don’t be a Winnie, y’all.

M.

Bang on the Drum All Day

Jackson played trumpet in fifth grade band and he was really committed. So much so that when I asked him back in May whether we should keep renting this damn trumpet for another year he said, “Yes. Absolutely.” Then I said, “Well do you want to try a different instrument, maybe percussions?” And he was all, “No, I like trumpet.” So this week when his band teacher asked what everyone was playing, and reminded them they could switch instruments, and I asked him if he wanted to and he said, “Yep, I wanna play percussions” I might have walked outside and screamed into the air.

Okay, well he’s playing percussions now. Which means we went from having a hefty rental fee each month (that we paid all summer for absolutely no reason) to running to a used music shop yesterday to grab the last used bells/snare kit they had. But, at least we got a deal because the bag was a little roughed up. (Long sigh)

Now he says he’s “totally committed” to snare and bell and he’s here for it. He better be. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on him getting into college with a band scholarship. I don’t plan on him being on a drum line or even starting a garage band. I just want him to learn to play something, meet kids that maybe aren’t like him, and learn a thing or two about teamwork and the fine arts. That’s all I’m asking for. Meanwhile, he wants to just bang on the drum all day…

Watching drum line competition (Army vs Air Force) and trying to play along. Army killed it, in our opinion!