Cognitive Dissonance

Can we talk about cognitive dissonance for a sec? Cognitive dissonance is when we hold two opposing cognitions (beliefs, perceptions, opinions, etc.) at the same time and so we make excuses so we don’t have to live in that uncomfortable space.

Here’s an example that I’m pretty sure we all know:

A Lifelong Smoker: I know that smoking is bad for me, but we are all gonna die one day, amIright?! Plus, if I quit I will gain weight and that is just as bad!

It is not.

That’s classic cognitive dissonance.

The smoker knows they should quit, knows it is unhealthy and will lead to an untimely death, but they like to smoke and they are addicted and stopping is hella hard. We all do this at some point in our lives. (Not the smoking, though I certainly did when I was younger and thought it was cool!) I mean we all struggle with cognitive dissonance.

I am addicted to food. Always have been. It’s my go-to comfort and it’s why I have liver problems and it’s why I have high cholesterol and it’s why I am at risk for heart disease. Genetics play a small role, but much smaller than you’d think.

Over the last year Jerimiah and I have changed our eating habits and we are constantly side-eyeing each other’s cognitive dissonance. Like when my doc asked me to cut out red meat this Midwestern girl was all, “HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO LIVE?!” I absolutely said to Jerimiah, “It will make me sad and that’s just as bad as heart disease!”

It is not.

Jesus, I’m dramatic. And also full of cognitive dissonance. As if I need certain foods, drinks, or things to lead a happy, fulfilled life. Bleh.

Jerimiah is guilty of cognitive dissonance in work-related ways. Corporate America has done a number on him and he truly believes that if he is not available for certain people the world will come crashing down. He says shit like, “I have to reply to emails while on vacation or they will back up and it will be more work for me when I’m home.”

One day we discussed him telling people that when he is on vacation he will not be accepting emails and when he is back, if they still need to talk to him, they can just send another email. He thought that was ABSURD, at first. Then, not so absurd.

He knows that he needs to relinquish work to enjoy his time off, he is even quite aware that his company relies on him to never be “off work,” even when he is “off work,” but he also knows that he deserves time off fucking work! He has to have it to function properly. He hates that uncomfrotable knowledge so he says shit like, “Well the work will just pile up.” Not if you don’t let it.

Some of you are like where’s the new, interesting stuff, Missy? Because you are working on your shit. You see a therapist regularly, you read Brene Brown, you have open and honest conversations with your loved one.

But there are some of you who will be learning what cognitive dissonance is for the first time on this bleh Tuesday morning and all I’m asking is that you consider if for a bit. Because what’s worse than just run-of-the-mill cognitive dissonance is ethical or moral dissonance, and I think many of us struggle with that more often than not these days.

I’m including a short video that I found helpful in wading through all this, I hope it sparks something for you today.

As for me, I’m going to go have a whole wheat bagel with avocado instead of cream cheese because it is heart-healthy and the world is not going to implode and I am not going to live a sad sack of a life with no purpose just because I am cutting back on dairy. Yes, there was a time I thought cheese was the be all, end all to my world, but it is not.

That’s ice cream.

Have a happy, healthy day, however you do it!

M.

Snacks, Snacks, Snacks

The other day on my sobriety post I promised to talk about how people like to pass judgement on my “dietary” choices all the time. Generally it’s because they see me, see I’m fat, and assume I am doing nothing about it and eat snacks all the time. Ho hum. This is true for a vast majority of people, others make assumptions about their eating habits because everyone thinks their choices are the best. Some people are like, “Yay for you for eating more veggies!” while others are like, “Oh my goodness, you still eat cheese, that’s disgraceful.” Okay, assholes, who asked you? Even though I no longer eat meat I still do it, I still pass judgement, not about people who eat meat, about other stupid things. Like when I see a kid’s lunchbox full of “snacks” I’m like, “Really?” Like how do you let your kid eat only snacks all day? See? I’m judgey, we all are. Maybe they can only afford that kind of food? Or maybe that kid will refuse other food and at home the parents will have that fight, but they’ll be damned if they will put that fight on the teachers at school? Or maybe they grew up poor like me and learned unhealthy habits that are super fucking hard to break and they are trying desperately to stop the cycle with their children, but they slip-up sometimes? Or maybe they don’t fucking care and their kids metabolism, their metabolism, is great and I should just mind my own fucking business? Sure, sure. It’s all possible. So I should mind my own fucking business.

Anyway, I don’t want to be accused of hating snacks! I love snacks! Always have (see above tangent). But when Jackson was small we *literally* (I put the asterisks there to make sure you know I actually mean *literally* as it is supposed to mean, not as figurative language) we *literally* did exactly what our pediatrician told us to do with him for fear that if we didn’t he would learn our horrendous eating habits. We did not feed him “real” food until he was a year old. We introduced baby food when she told us we should and we started with vegetables only. I bought organic peas and mashed them up and gave them to him. We only supplemented breast milk when we had to. When he turned a year old we *literally* (again) threw the bottle away on his birthday and switched him to sippy cups with only milk (2% because “not every baby needs whole” the pediatrician said) and water. No juice. No soda. No nothing. 2% milk and water.

When he started eating “real” food we NEVER made him “clean” his plate. Eww. That is what we had to do when we were kids, umm, weight problems because you don’t understand how to read the signals from your stomach? Youbetcha! We also never made meal times a big deal. We ate as a family at the table. That was our only grand gesture. And we did eat at the table, not in front of the television ( and our families legit thought we were weird for it, they judged us a lot.)

Whew. It was tough. Really tough. But it paid off. Jackson is totally a teenager who stops eating when he is full. He will walk away from a cheeseburger (his absolute favorite meal) after taking two bites if he picks up on that signal from his stomach. He will ask the server for a box and he will take it home to eat it later or the next day, whenever he’s legit hungry again. I am in awe of him each time he does this, I’m like, wow. I think I did that. I mean I can’t do it to save my life (I’m learning, Jerimiah and I have even been splitting meals when we eat out just to help when we can’t pick up on our signals) but just wow, you know.

What’s always been funny to me though, is that people see Jerimiah and me and then they look at Jackson (who has always, despite all the work we have done, been in the 90th percentile for weight, like since he was born, but he’s never been overweight) and they assume things about us. They assume we don’t make our kid eat healthy. They assume, when they see him with a soda or a bag of Cheetos that this is the way we live our life and it used to bother me something fierce (I guess it still does to some extent cause I’m telling y’all about it) but lately, probably because my own relationship with food is changing, I’m realizing I gotta care much less about that shit. Much less.

I think it’s just that I don’t know how to navigate this world without being a fat person and because of that, because of how the world treats fat people, I have all this shame around what I eat and what my kid eats and how I move around in this body. I look at “normal” sized people and think, wow, they must have this eating thing all figured out, but no, they don’t. They just have better genes, or grew up eating veggies first, they aren’t coming into middle age with this weird deficit that Jerimiah and I are. We have to start considering everything we eat, all we do to keep ourselves healthy because of where we are coming from, meanwhile some people just don’t. They don’t have to constantly talk about it or think about it, and when we do it makes them uncomfortable. That must suck for them, but not as much as it sucks for us.

I know a person who 100% drinks hard liquor most nights of the week, but who has 100% told me that I don’t eat enough fruit. Did I want to slap the shit out of that person, sure? Did I? No, it was a family reunion and that felt like it would cause too much drama, you know? But that was old Missy, I’d like to have that convo again…

The point is I have changed. We do that as we grow. Well some of us do. And when we grow we make changes based on new information. This year I learned who my real father was through a DNA test. I also learned that he died when I was 9 months old from a massive heart attack. That’s some new info that will fuck you up. It sure did me. I learned too that he drank beer every day of his life and that he often threw them back with a cheeseburger. Eek face.

But I can’t just flip a switch overnight. I can’t unlearn 40 years of nonsense, so it takes time, and I have to give myself the time to get there. There are no quick fixes with this. Sure I could get weight-loss surgery or take some kind of pill, but we all know that won’t touch the root of my problems. So here I am. Blogging about this all to you, eating veggies, listening to people tell me how they think I should eat and live to be healthy, and trying to smile through it all, but I think we all know I won’t be able to sustain that either.

So consider this my warning. I don’t want your opinions on the way I eat or what I feed my family and you won’t get mine. In fact, just assume I don’t want your opinion about anything. If I do, I’ll ask. Otherwise, walk on by me while I’m eating my snacks or my veggies. It will be safest for all those involved.

Take care of yourselves, y’all.

M.

That Sober Life

Why are you back on the blog yet again today, Missy? Don’t you have a life anymore? The short answer is no, I never have, the long answer is that I missed y’all so much and I know that you missed me too and I just have a lot to say right now. The honest answer is that I have 20 pages of thesis due, and a book to read so I can write a review on it, and so obviously I’m taking time to write on my blog again. Procrastination at it’s finest, if you will.

Actually today I’m just logging on to say that I am like 30+ days sober. No wine, at all. No White Claws even! Certainly no hard liquor or beer. Not on vacation, not even when I am in the hot tub waxing political (which is how we spent all of 2020). Matter fact, last time Jerimiah and I were in the hot tub bad-mouthing conservative republicans we drank Vitamin Water. Gotta stay hydrated!

We didn’t set out to do this, it just sort of happened. We’ve been tapering off of any alcohol or wine for several months now. In fact, since my liver enzymes first started showing as elevated back in May of this year (and I just recently tested positive for a liver-related autoimmune disease) I have been conscious of how much I am drinking. My liver specialist says an occasional glass of wine is okay, and maybe I’ll end up there eventually, but for now it’s not feeling like the thing to do.

While in Mississippi for residency this year I did not try to keep up with friends and I drank no hard liquor. Everyone was incredibly kind and gracious about it. While vacationing this summer I tried to stick to mainly hard seltzer waters and at no time during my vacations have I been totally drunk (even though Rachel tried to get me there! Damn you and your Fireball, Rachel!) Since my 40th birthday I have had nothing at all that contains alcohol. Though you know I will never turn down a ButterBeer! 🙂

Jerimiah and I are both attempting this sobriety thing, and he’s done just as well. He’s been in several social situations lately where he was expected to drink along with everyone else and he chose not to. It’s important to note here that we are both social drinkers. We don’t struggle with sobriety like some people and we recognize that staying sober is much harder for others. We see y’all trying and we support you. We love you and are here if you ever need an ear.

This is also a no-judgment zone! We would never ask our family and friends to abstain from drinking around us, and if you come over for dinner I promise to have wine available if that’s what you prefer. We totally support your decision to drink responsibly, and this has only been easy for us because we have never been dependent on alcohol. So take all I say about how “easy” it is with a grain of margarita salt. This is the perspective I am coming from.

We decided to try sobriety partly due to my elevated liver enzymes, partly due to not wanting to feel like shit the day after drinking a bottle of wine, and partly due to setting a better example for our kid. It was mainly me, and Jerimiah being the good partner he is said, “I’ll do it too.” I told him to use me as an excuse anytime he needs. Men can be real bitches to each other when one doesn’t want to drink a beer with the group. #ToxicMasculinity

I’m putting this info out here for several reasons: 1. When people talk about things openly it makes it easier, less taboo. 2. For people who have been considering the sober life for awhile to know it’s not so bad, if I can give up red wine, you can definitely do it! 3. Hopefully y’all will see this and the next time we go out you won’t be all, “Why are you not drinking, Missy?!” Then I can just say, “Wow, you really don’t read my blog posts, huh?” (insert winky face)

Speaking of going out, we’ve found club soda and a lime makes us feel like part of the mix, and prevents people from mocking us, people do that, in case you don’t know. And if you are trying the sober thing and people mock you, please don’t take offense, it’s just them projecting. We used to do it too, or at least talk about sober people behind their backs. But really it was because we felt judged, as if someone else’s sobriety had anything to do with us. Don’t be like the old us, y’all. Grow and change.

The truth is I only drank in social situations to feel better, to talk easier with people, to feel like I wasn’t so awkward or forward. And because, well, that’s what you are supposed to do as an adult, right? Mommies drink wine in groups and complain about their kids and husbands, right? (Yeah, I was feeling weird about all of that, probably because I have zero to complain about with my kid and husband.) But now I’m realizing it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t want to hang with me because I’m awkward or blunt or don’t drink, cool, more time in my pjs on my couch with my family and doggos! Win/Win! And I will still listen to other mommies complain about husbands and kids, I’ll just do it sober. If I’m ever invited again…Hey, no hard feelings if I’m not!

Still, there are bound to be people who won’t support you, there are people who won’t support me. They will poke fun at me, they will ask how “healthy” it is to take anti-depressants to get through the day. (I think I’m pretty open about how I handle my mental health, yes? In case you forgot, I take daily anti-depressants and the occasional anti-anxiety med along with bi-weekly therapy visits with Patsy, my saint of a therapist. I say “occasionally” about the anti-anxiety meds because I am only prescribed 30 Klonopin pills at the lowest dose possible, every three months so I have to make them count. I usually take a half of one to help me fall asleep at night or when I’m in a crowd of people. That’s also why people chose to drink a glass of wine! I’m just choosing to do it differently. To each their own, it’s all substances we are putting in our body to make our brains feel better. Right-io!)

People will also no doubt jump on board to remind me, yet again, that I’m fat so I’m not living the most “healthy” lifestyle. Ho hum. I’ve had so many people talk about my “dietary changes” in the last six months only because I stopped eating most meat (I’m pescatarian now) for no reason other than to make themselves feel better. You know those people, the ones that try to pass shade on what you are eating, without actually saying it. Like, “Well meat is protein and we all need protein.” Yes’m meat is protein, you know what else is, broccoli. But my “unhealthy” eatings habits and he way people react to them is another post, I promise. And again it just boils down to them projecting their own insecurities onto me. Making themselves feel better about their own choices. They will do the same to you. Ignore the haters, that’s all you can do.

Anyway, if you’re a drinker keep on keeping on, responsibly of course, and if you’ve been living the sober life, yay for you! Consider us part of the team now. And if you are considering it, jump on board with us now, we will support each other!

As usual, stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

New York City

As I mentioned yesterday we took my 77-year-old mother to New York City for the first time! It was a lot, but also not too much, but also totally different than any other trip to NYC for us. It all started when we asked Jackson what he wanted for his birthday and he said, “I want to go to the Transit Museum in Brooklyn.” That’s his favorite place, to be sure, so we were like hmm. With Covid being Covid and all that we wondered if we could pull it off and how safely. Everyone has their own idea of what is “safe” right now and in our house it’s like this: We are all fully vaccinated, waiting for boosters in December, Jackson is in school full-time in person (with a mask mandate in place), J is back to going to office once a week, usually, and we have been successfully traveling since this summer. However, I am still not willing to get on an airplane. I know, I know, it sounds dumb, but like I said, we all have our things. I am totally fine eating in a restaurant, but no airplane for me I just don’t trust others enough. So we decided to drive to NYC that’s when the idea of bringing my mom came. She was already asking if she could come stay with us for a month this year and it happened to all line up with my birthday, my mom’s, and Jackson’s. So we asked Jackson if we could bring Mama (we invited Grandma too, but she already had plans) and he said, “Sure!” Then the planning began.

When Mama got here we talked about all the things she wanted to see, and factored in all that Jackson wanted to see/do including the Transit Museum, the 9/11 Memorial, and Coney Island. Then we realized that we had never been to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. Then our friends from Rhode Island were planning to join us one day, so we mashed all of this together and come up with a kind of solid plan. And for the most part, it all went exactly as planned. How amazing is that?!

The rest of the story can best be told in pictures, so I’ll let them do the talking, but in reality just know that there were some unexpected trips (did you know that there is an awesome Harry Potter store in NYC?) and we only missed one timed reservation, but it was okay they let us cancel our tickets and instead we took a hard-hat tour of the hospital at Ellis Island which was fantastic especially since we had watched a documentary on it before we went to NYC. We got to spend all the time Jackson wanted to at the Transit Museum, then I finally got to ride The Cyclone and The Thunderbolt at Coney Island which was a lifelong dream that turned out to be a terrifying nightmare and I will never ride them again! Like for real. Scariest rides I’ve ever been on, and I love crazy rollercoasters, y’all. Whew.

Okay, pictures as promised. Just pictures.

Take care. Thanks for sharing in the memories!

M.

He loves this station.
Bright lights, big city!
She dropped some serious cash at the M&M store. She loves chocolate and giving gifts, so you know, it was a duh.
“Oh, Hamilton!” Haha, we’ve still not seen it and we are still totes okay with that. Maybe one day…
Junior’s for cheesecake, as one does. If you’re gonna force yourself to eat on Broadway, make it be Junior’s.
This was him showing that it was after 11 pm and he was drinking Mountain Dew because NYC.
She’s terrified of boats and yet… there’s only one way to get to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island
Jackson got an iPhone 13 for his 13th birthday and now he’s obsessed with taking weird pics…
Hard-hat tour, if you get the chance I recommend it. Your ticket helps fund the restoration of the hospital and the history there is wonderful.
Financial District behind us, taken from Ellis Island. One World Trade is the tall one.
Helping Mama see the city. These two. 😍They pushed her wheel chairs and walked painfully slow. They accepted all things that came our way and not one time did they complain (about Mama anyway, there was a lot of complaining but it was about other stuff! Haha! Have you ever driven in NYC?!)
There she is!
Went down to Tribeca to see this place! A hit with all of us, one of Mama and Jackson’s favorite movies is the all-female version of “Ghostbusters.” It’s actually the only one any of us will watch anymore. So there’s that…
The original wooden escalator at the 34th Street Macy’s. Mom loves “Miracle on 34th Street” and Macy’s! 😂
Brooklyn, headed to Transit Museum where we met up with friends.
The Transit Museum is full of old subway cars dating back to the turn of the 20th century. Here they are in a fairly modern one, but Mom got to see trains from all decades and then of course, we went on an actual subway train later!
Jackson and his friend, Morgan, at the Transit Museum.
Next stop was Coney Island! Mom got to see the famous Boardwalk, I got to eat a Nathan’s Hot Dog, and we all got to play games and ride rides! Totally worth it. Everyone felt like a kid again.
Told you. Yes, I’m still pescatarian, but not when it comes to Nathan’s on Coney Island.
Oh while we are talking about food… bagel and lox. Duh.
Same plate. We split food now cause our stomachs are shrinking, did you know that was a thing?! Shameless plug to say that I’m 30 pounds down and my cholesterol is 30 points down just from eliminating most meat!
Oh yeah, the cheesecake pic! Cheesecake at midnight on Broadway, I’d love to say this was our first time…
Sorry I got sidetracked. Back to Coney Island!
Luna Park!
“Is that a giant mermaid?” Yes, yes it is.
On the Boardwalk
The only ride we could get her on. Though she did tear up the arcade!
This bitch. Never again. I didn’t make it on The Steeplechase however, I’m still willing to ride that one.
No one did the Wonder Wheel. Next time.
Jackson loves taking the subway. He’s just at home here. So weird, but so wonderful. He was giving directions to people on the first night. All his “walking with confidence” pays off in NYC and I wouldn’t be afraid to follow him anywhere there.
She navigated the subway pretty well. Though I wished she’d stop taking her mask off for pics, especially underground. 🤦🏻‍♀️😂
Butterbeer at the Harry Potter Store where he found Hermoine’s wand (the one he’s been wanting) and Mama got to see the bathroom straight away, though to be fair even waiting in line for it was magical.
Bathroom is right around the corner. 🤣
One of a kind experience, even with all the people. Just take your time and know where the exits are and how the lines go. 👍🏼You’ll be fine.
Finally made it to Ground Zero.
He’s watched ALL the documentaries and can give you a tour of the 9/11 Memorial whenever you’re ready.
North Pool
Unofficial tour guide
She wasn’t prepared for the scope and the sadness. You never are.
Foggy day, couldn’t see the spire. For more facts on the building itself, or the original Twin Towers, please talk to Jackson.
He brought a fire patch from our local DeKalb County fire station #5 and traded it with NYFD #10, who are known as the station that is “Still Standing” on account of being untouched during the 9/11 attack.
You know how he obsesses over things: Enter the Unisphere from the 1964 World’s Fair. We drove all the way out to Flushing to see this bad boy, on account of the Men in Black movies. It legit had nothing to do with the World’s Fair. 🤣We actually went to Macy’s the night before specifically to look for a black suit and tie so he could pose in front of this like Will Smith, but they didn’t have a black tie! Not a single black tie in all eight floors! So again, next time…
Oh yeah, and these weird things which were actually just a “cover for alien spaceships.”
I ended the last night in NYC floating in the hotel pool alone and thankful for the quiet. It was a whirlwind five days, but I’m so glad we did it!

Vegetarian Uprising

At the end of last year I had my cholesterol checked and I was surprised to learn that it was kind of high. It had actually never been as high as it was then (240) and the only thing I could think is that I have been eating low-carb for awhile, which had been helpful in shaving off some weight, but obviously shot my cholesterol up. My doctor was not pleased considering she had told me not to do that. Eek. She said Keto and the like is not a good way to diet and that people are “just obsessed, but don’t understand.” Now listen, I was by no means doing “Keto.” Mainly because I don’t do any “diet” well. But I had backed off most carbs and was relying on protein from meat too much, I can openly admit to that. So I asked her what to do and she said, “Go vegetarian if you can” and then I laughed and laughed.

Then two months ago Jerimiah and decided to try it and well, it’s been really super easy and we don’t eat meat anymore and what the hell is happening in my life?!

Whew. Okay, deep breathes and I’m kind of lying because sometimes we still eat salmon. And by sometimes I mean we had salmon for dinner twice in two months, so sure, I guess call us pescatarian or mainly vegetarian or crazy or whatever you want but I feel so much freaking better that I am actually like why did I not do this decades ago?!

To be fair it was an easy transition now on account of all the meatless options out there. Options that just weren’t there two or three years ago, let alone decades ago. Options that also have Jackson going “mainly” vegetarian with us and so we are all benefitting. We also did it in stages. We didn’t just totally change the way we eat. Last year we started eating off our “small” plates, which are the “lunch” plates. We moved the dinner plates out of the cabinet. This was to work on portion control. Once we did that, we started filling more veggies, then cutting the amount of meat down and down and down, until now, well I had broccoli for lunch yesterday. Broccoli. That’s it. That’s all I had and I was full and I had plenty of protein.

I think being at home all day every day, not eating at a restaurant in over a year, and really being generally pissy about having to feed ourselves food all day everyday has helped tremendously. We’ve also cut way back on drinking alcohol, we have maybe a glass of wine a month now, and if we could somehow give up coffee, then we’d be all set but who are we even fucking kidding. That will never happen. But then, I guess we should never say never.

In fact, the hardest part has been trying to figure out how we will one day have to tell our family back in Kansas City that we don’t eat Burnt Ends anymore, thankyouverymuch, can I have the veggie plate. Hmpf. That might take some time. But for now we will work on kicking our salmon habit (have you watched Seaspiracy?!) and please, if you have any black bean burger recipes send them our way! Talk about yum!

M.

If My Fatness Offends You…

Now that the new year is upon us, I’ve noticed the “New year, New Me” self talk starting. I guess it’s not self talk if you are sharing it with social media but you know the deal, people (women mostly) sharing goals about how what they want to change about themselves in the new year. Most of it is weight or size related. Most of it is masked under this “I want to feel healthy” but what they are really saying is that they are unhappy with themselves and need to change. Here’s where I get my stomach into some knots. I’m fat, in case you don’t know me IRL. I am overweight. Medically obese. My BMI is too high. However you want to measure it, I am overweight and have been literally all of my life. Literally here is used literally, not figuratively. I wasn’t a skinny kid who put on weight in puberty. I was a chubby kid who put on weight during puberty, which was coincidently when I was put on my first diet too. But that’s not the story I am here to share with you today, the story I want to share with you came much later.

I worked for Ruby Tuesday. They are a family-style, casual dining restaurant throughout the country. You might know them from their extensive salad bar. I worked for a franchise in Southern Missouri owned by a man named John. Now John had some unchecked mental health issues, and can be best described as a “Mini Trump.” That is to say he was a big fish in a weird pond. Or at least he thought he was. People didn’t like to tell him no because he flipped the fuck out if he was told no. People didn’t like to tell him yes because then he’d abuse them in some way, you get my drift.

He owned several, maybe 10, Ruby Tuesday restaurants. Now owned is a stretch. You know how it is. He was a franchisee, but he rented most buildings, the company itself had control over most of his dealings, etc, etc. And he owned two of the restaurants in Branson, Missouri. First he owned a free-standing one that was open for a decade and did very well before he opened a second location in a strip mall sandwiched between Walmart and a grocery store. Why he decided to open a second one a half mile away from an already popular one is beyond me. Beyond any business class you might take. And as you can imagine it isn’t open anymore. It closed down less than a decade after opening considering it didn’t make enough money. That’s not hard to figure out, but I digress.

I started there as a server, then quickly became a bartender, then a shift leader. A shift leader is paid hourly ($13/hr back in 2005-ish) and is expected to do all the things a manager does, but obviously make a lot less doing it. I’m not sure what the hell that position was supposed to look like, but it seemed to be this thing where they said, “Oh we like you, and you are a great worker, we will give you keys and official sounding title and let you do all the dirty work for nothing for awhile so you feel important.” And I bought it. I was like 23 years old, that should be noted.

It was also a pipeline to management, obviously. You had to be a shift leader to be a manager and while I was there (about five years) I saw many a shift leader and managers come and go. There is high turnover in the restaurant business. It’s a shitty, thankless job and it gets even worse the higher up you go. Add to that the maniac I worked for, and well, there you have it.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were good things about the job, especially for a 20-something. I met a lot of great people, people who became my best friends and still are my best friends. I made it through some wack-a-doodle experiences, and I learned an enormous amount about people and myself. One does that when they tend bar, cook on the line, and watch employees smoke cigarettes in the cooler. It’s a smorgasbord of bad decisions, unruly employees, and fun. I could never, ever work in the restaurant business again, but I am glad for the experiences I had. Even the one I am here to talk about.

One day, around year three I sat down in the back room of the store with the District Manager. I was a shift leader, had been for about a year, and was doing really well. The employees liked me, the managers couldn’t function without me (there was one who routinely forgot where he parked his car), and the Spanish-speaking cooks respected me enough to allow me on the line with them. I was a good, nay great, employee and I was ready to be promoted and they were ready to promote, only one problem: I was fat.

Now I don’t need to remind you that I have always been fat. I had been the same size the day I was hired there as I was the day I was sat down and told that they would love to promote me, but they couldn’t on account of my fatness. That’s a thing that was said to me, while also being told that other shift leaders were also having this talk. There was Jodie who was missing several teeth and was so skinny people sometimes thought she was a drug addict. They didn’t like her image and they told her to work on it and then promoted her. Then there was Kyle, the owner’s nephew, who was also fat. He was told to work on his image (and he did by drinking Bud Light and taking Hyroxycut) and then he was promoted. Here’s the rub, I was told I was fat and then not promoted. Told that I had to show them I was working on losing weight before they would promote me.

Nola told me this. The DM. Now I liked Nola. She was nice and funny and she came around to our store a lot and she was very involved. And I think she liked me too. And I think she was very sad that day she had to have that conversation with me. It came from the top down, and to be fair John didn’t like me for a myriad of reasons, least of all that I was incredibly vocal about all the shortcomings at the store and the with the employees because I wanted the place to do well. But he did see that I was good at what I did, so he was stuck, I guess this little dig was just for him to have fun, maybe “put me in my place” or what not. It worked.

For the next several months I tried to lose weight. I did it blindly. I took what Nola said, which was basically “You’re too fat and we don’t want the customers to think that is on brand with us,” and I tried to get on brand. Now to be clear, I was about 195 pounds during this time. I stayed right around there. I am about 5’5″. I was fat, sure, but I didn’t have to have a wall in my house removed to walk outside or anything like that. And I was smaller and more fit than Kyle and I was actually healthy. I went to the doctor every year for an annual, I was active, but I was incredibly broken down mentally. I was depressed. I was small-minded. I was constantly berating myself. Then here was my job, a thing I was very good at, doing the same thing. Berating me, telling me I was fat, making me sad. But I went along with it.

The short of the story is that I lost about 15 pounds, nothing life changing (Kyle gained weight and was a dumbass, like truly he had a hard time with simple math and Jodie got her teeth fixed, but people hated her and I actually do think she was on drugs) and then they asked me to be a manager and I said no. Their jaws hit the floor of course, but it was the first time I felt like I did the right thing for me. The job was nuts, the hours were crazy, and if they were the kind of people who promoted the likes of Kyle and Jodie, while telling me I was fat, well obviously they were not of sound mind. I got married, got pregnant, and ended up quitting anyway about a year later, but it was nice to look them in the eye and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I should have added, “Y’all nuts,” but I didn’t. Also, the store itself was shut down about a year after that. And I did a little happy dance cause I am petty.

So why I am sharing this story today? It’s funny that I have never publicly shared it before. I think a lot of my close friends don’t even know the story, save Kasey and Mel and Jerimiah who were all there when it happened. I think it’s because I was ashamed it happened in the first place, right? I mean I don’t give a fuck that crazy John thought I was too fat (you should hear all the bad things I said about him, ha!) and I’m not even mad at Nola, who later said that conversation with me was the worst thing she ever had to do while she worked for him, which is hard to believe because he had to have sexually harassed her a lot. I’m not even made at Erica, the GM and one of my best friends at the time, who knew it was going to happen and didn’t warn me, instead she left.

The person I am most mad at is myself. I still can’t believe I allowed people to treat me that way. I still can’t believe that I took on others’ words and feelings and ideals of “being on brand” or their damn beauty standards or their distaste for “fat people” and I pushed it deep inside into my core and I tried to appease them. What the actual hell?! Obviously 39-year-old Missy is embarrassed and sad that 20-something Missy did that, but at the same time I didn’t know any better. I had spent my whole life being made fun of, even by people who loved me, being teased at school, being called names because I was chubby or overweight. I didn’t know I could say, “Shut up, you assholes. I’m fine the way I am.”

It was a hard lesson, but I learned it and I am glad that I did and I desperately wish that more fat girls would learn it. Maybe not in the way I did, but just figuring out that you are okay, you are good, you are perfect the way you are and you don’t need to make a change for anyone but yourself. If you are happy at your size, then shine on, girls (or guys). And if you are not happy with your size there is a whole community out there to offer support and help as you set goals and strive for them. But the point is, it is your choice, not anyone else’s. It is your decision how you live your life and don’t buy into this “Fat isn’t healthy” shit, because that’s not true. I was incredibly healthy at about 180 pounds, working out five days a week, busting my ass in the gym, all the while the doctor told me I was good to go, but “fat” according to the charts. They can shove those charts up thy ass, and so can anyone else who has an opinion about my body or my life, right up thy ass.

So, if my fatness offends you, if my fatness makes your life unhappy, if my fatness makes you sad for me, please stop and explore your inner demons, explore what makes you offended by fat people, what makes your life so unhappy, what problems you have to say horrible things to people who are just trying to get by in this life.

And for the love of all that is holy, stop talking about the weight you gained during a global pandemic! This has been a nightmare for a lot of people and you aren’t special, we all made bad decisions just to get by (I watched the entire “Tiger King” series for fuck’s sake) and gaining a little weight isn’t the end of the world and if you treat it as such, if you start to say, “Shut up” to the people who think it is, then life would be better for all of us.

M.

The Air Up There is Fried

While I was in Kansas last week I heard an awful lot about air fryers. Seems all my friends and family have them. One of my mom’s friends was even trying to convince me on the phone to buy one! “You outta get you one, Missy! They are great!” Well, you know how I feel about small appliances, y’all. If you don’t know this: I HATE THEM. That is legit. Matter fact I went to Target and bought a toaster the other day for my mom’s visit, then told her to take it with her when she leaves and give it to someone. I don’t want a damn toaster. Here’s the thing, I don’t want anything that my oven, stove, or decade-old crockpot can do so that eliminates essentially all kitchen gadgets.

I don’t need an Instant Pot, I have a crock pot and a large ceramic pot and a wok that fits snuggly into my wok rack on my gas stovetop.

I don’t need an air fryer because (and hear me out) an air fryer works by a convection method. So does my oven.

Now don’t think I just blatantly said no. In fact, I Googled this air fryer thing, just like I Googled the Instant Pot thing. I figured out how they worked and the truth is, in the case of the air fryer, we don’t eat fried foods. So if I were to buy one I would just feel compelled to start eating French fries and onion rings, which are not part of our normal meals now. I would hop on board with all these foods, the ones I think we can all agree are unhealthy regardless of how you cook them, and I don’t need that in my life.

My mom’s friend was all, “Shrimp! You can fry shrimp!” And I was like ohhh, that sounds good. Then I realized I never fry shrimp anyway. I bake it or boil it. So I don’t even need to eat fried shrimp, but it did certainly sound appealing for a minute. Besides the fact that people are still adding oil to the air fryers, because as previously stated, the name is a misnomer. It doesn’t actually fry anything, it cooks just like a convection oven. (Throws hands in the air) Maybe it’s faster?!

Listen, I don’t know where my hatred of kitchen gadgets came from. Probably from my desire to have as little as possible on my countertops. I can’t stand a kitchen that has things all over the counter. And I don’t like it when things beep at me to tell me I’m done. It’s like this rice cooker I got when I was way into sushi making. I thought, oh this will make life easier. Well, sushi making is hard as shit, y’all and now my rice cooker sits under a cabinet never to be seen or heard from again.

Oh hey, how about that time I bought a dehydrator because I wanted dried bananas. It took like 12 hours to dehydrate five bananas and then Jackson and I ate them all in one afternoon. Hmpf. Pass. Now that dehydrator has a better home, with a friend who hopefully uses it more than once a year.

Like most of these posts lately this one has no point except to say I appreciate all the people wanting my life to be better. I get it, trust me. It’s like therapy and me. I love therapy and I’m always trying together people to get their own therapists because it is so helpful. You love your kitchen gadgets and you want me to love them too. How about this, when y’all get you a therapist, I’ll get me an InstaPot. Or maybe a toaster I won’t give away.

Deal?

M.

Starbucks Coffee

What did the coffee say to the bean? Nothing, it was grounded! Hahahahaha! I have something serious to talk to you guys about: Why does the Starbucks coffee at the store hit differently than the Starbucks coffee you buy at bulk at Sam’s Club when you just went in to see if they had in toilet paper in stock, but you left with $489 worth of pots and pans, Christmas decorations, Spanish-style rice, and Starbucks coffee? This is both a real thing that I do regularly and a burnin’ question that I have about coffee. So much so that I Googled: “Why does Starbucks coffee…” and I started to type “hit better at the store than at home” but was sidetracked by the things other people Google about Starbucks coffee. Here are a few:

  • Why does Starbucks coffee make me poop?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste burnt? (Which led me to is it “burned” or “burnt” and that’s a whole other post)
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste so good?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee have so much caffeine?

Bingo! I think that last one is an answer to the question I seek. I suddenly realized that when I have had a horrible night of tossing and turning why I HAVE to go to Starbucks to get coffee because the at-home Sam’s Club bag just ain’t doing it for me, I think it has to do with caffeine and that is when I found this bitch! That link there is a complete guide to all the beverages at Starbucks and there caffeine levels and DID you know that there is a class-action lawsuit against Starbucks because people think they are cheating them on caffeine? What the what? I digress.

When I go to the store I order a Nitro Cold Brew. Sometimes a pumpkin (if it’s in season), sometimes a salted caramel, sometimes just a regular old cold brew. But the caffeine levels in those drinks are wildly different. And all of them have more caffeine than my regular old ground shit in a bag at home. I know because I found this bitch! That’s caffeine levels from all your favorite drinks from all over (even Dunkin’ which y’all know I love so much I have a Dunkin’ ornament on my Christmas tree, along with all my Starbucks ones). And let me just say this, if you really wanna get jacked, you’re gonna need to start ordering a grande blonde from Starbucks. Woo-Wee! Get on that girl and get on her fast! She has more caffeine than a “Bang!” Energy drink and I don’t even know what that is, but with a name like “Bang!” it has to be good! (Meaning really bad for you.)

I assume you’re impatient with me now, but we are used to that right? I know I am used to you being impatient with me, so much so in fact that I can breeze right through your subtle annoyances now, and tell you this: Starbucks coffee hits different at the store because the caffeine levels are crazy good–or bad– depending on how you look at it. And now I’m headed to Starbucks to pick me up a blonde so I can write about 15,000 more words today!

Bang, bang, y’all!

M.

The Damn Gravy Boat

I ordered a red gravy boat to add to my Fiesta Christmas collection this year. Everywhere they sell Fietsta was running low on them, but I ended up finding one at Kohl’s when I had a whole debacle trying to find one at Macy’s. I’ll save you that story. So when the box arrived with my new trivet and my new scarlet-colored Fiesta Sauceboat I was jacked! Until I opened the box. As soon as I touched the box I knew something was wrong. I heard pieces. Broken pieces moving around. I hoped that it was the trivet, but of course because it is 2020, it was my beloved sauceboat.

Kohl’s made it right by shipping me a new trivet, but they couldn’t ship me a new sauceboat because they are out of stock. So I sat there in madness for a second, wondering who the hell packed the box, considering it was a nightmare packing job. Then I shrugged, said hey, this is 2020 and in 2020 we have learned to accept things we can’t control and move on. So I Googled the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the mending of broken pottery by using gold. It creates a new piece that doesn’t shy away from its blemishes, but rather accepts them and makes the pottery beautiful again, just in a new way. I knew I had to do this to my 2020 gravy boat, but of course I can’t really afford to melt gold down, nor do I have access to do that or even know how. So I did the next best thing: I watched a YouTube video on how to practice “modern Kintsugi” with epoxy resin and some mica powder, ordered it from Amazon and got it done.

Listen, it was easy. But also tough. Much like this year. The epoxy resin is a mess to work with, I had gold mica powder all over my hands and table and places I was like, how did that even get there? But in the end I prevailed, in my own way of course, and now I have this broken, beautiful gravy boat. And while Jerimiah and Jackson looked at me a little crazy at first, eventually they got it.

2020, y’all. What a hot mess. But, hasn’t it shone some light on some things in our lives? I mean don’t we all have some cracks in our lives that could stand to be made beautiful? Don’t we all feel broken sometimes and wish we could be whole? Isn’t this year a shitshow, but also didn’t it sort of enlighten us to a lot of things? I think so. Which is why my family’s 2020 gravy boat* will now live eternally the way it came to us, broken but beautiful, and hopefully in years to come it will serve as reminder of how fucked up, funny, absurd, horrific, broken, and enlightening this year was. Maybe.

Enjoy some pics of the process and don’t laugh too much at my broken gravy boat.

M.

*This way of doing it, the modern, easy way, makes the gravy boat unusable as the epoxy resin is toxic, but it looks nice on the hutch.

Middle of the Night Thoughts

My mouth smells like one of those hush puppies you get at Long John’s Silver. Eww. I know. It’s the middle of the night and once again I am awake and once again I am having some crazy thoughts like what at the hell does Long John Silver even mean? Is that the name of the pirate? Was he tall? Aren’t all pirates tall with their large hats and parrots and wooden legs? Also, Silver? Did he have a bunch of silver he wouldn’t share or is it his last name? I didn’t know pirates had last names. I thought they were just named like the Seven Dwarfs, Sleepy, Dopey, Crazy Scurvy Joe, stuff like that. Speaking of the Seven Dwarfs, is that still politically correct? Should it be Seven Little People? That’s a show on TLC that I would watch in a heartbeat. I’d subscribe to their channel and pay like $5 a month to see Seven Little People with bad attitudes and names that evoke their personalities. That reminds me of Ms. Juicy Baby in Little Women-Atlanta, one of my favorite shows featuring Little People. I used to like Little People, Big World but then the kids grew up and the dad got all angry and they divorced and the dog died and ehh. Too much real life happened.

I had to Google “Long John’s Silver” and it turns out I was all sorts of wrong. First off it’s Long John Silver’s, not Long John’s Silver. Then I found the part where a corporate entity tries to tell their sweet story here but I was left unsatisfied, like when they forget to give me that little packet of malt vinegar in my to-go order and I have to complain the whole time I eat my oddly-shaped fish that I don’t have malt vinegar to go with it, then make sure I write malt vinegar on my shopping list so I always have it one hand when this sort of thing happens, which in fact, happens more often than not.

Hmm, Long John Silver’s. Who knew?

M.

There’s More Than One Way to Crack a Nut

Jackson asked if we could get some nuts to use our nutcracker on. What nutcracker, I asked, perplexed. That one, he said, and pointed toward the mantle. Ohh, Jerimiah and I laughed, that’s not a real nutcracker, that’s a fake one. Why would there be fake ones Jackson wanted to know. Good question, I said. Then I explained that we have a silver, handheld nutcracker that does the job he wants to do and that the bearded man in buffalo check on the mantle is just for decoration. Then I went down a rabbit hole so big that I woke up yelling, Kurt Adler Nutcrackers!

Kurt Adler nutcrackers are the actual bees knees. I told my family this over breakfast. And if I had the money to blow on the one-of-a-kind Wizard of Oz one they sell at Macy’s then my day would be made.

My family looked at me with confusion in their faces and I had to agree, what the actual hell Missy?! But look at it though:

That’s one MFing cool nutcracker. Not like the ones I buy at Target on clearance two days after Christmas.

Anyway, if you are in the mood for a new nutcracker this year may I suggest you check out Kurt Adler Nutcrackers. You’ll find just what you are looking for! If you actually want to eat nuts though, well then, just throw a bag on the driveway and run them over with your car like my mom used to do. But wear a helmet, those suckers can fly.

Now let’s go crack some nuts!

M.

Good Ombre

I don’t make pies. I don’t bake. It’s not something I enjoy. I never have and quarantine has not helped me with that. I didn’t start a sourdough roll or learn how to expertly frost sugar cookies to look like Kamala Harris, though I do wish I had done that one. But I did google “What is the easiest pie to make when your husband asks if you want to make homemade pies for Thanksgiving” and this Apple Ombre pie popped up so I decided to try it.

All you do is buy varying shades of apples, thinly slice them, layer them in a pie crust (you can make your own if you’re that kinda person) then sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top and bake it low and slow. Like for real, that’s it. I bought a pie crust because I’m easy and cheap, yes I mean that, and took a painstaking amount of time picking out apples the right shade of green, yellow, pink, and red, like too much time. Like, I spent too much time inside a Kroger during a pandemic picking out apples.

I used the largest jar of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust I could find at Sam’s Club, then I baked that beast. I ended up making two of them because they were so easy to make and we legit ate one right after I pulled it out of the oven with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. So yeah, good stuff, y’all.

So if you Google “Ombre Apple Pie” the picture you get will not look like mine because this was my first time, but I will make this pie regularly now, it’s that easy and delicious, and so I hope to get better, but for now look at this gloriousness.

Yum. That is all.

Also, I decided to do some more baking since I had all the shit out and I made my first cherry pie ever, while the boys worked on almond silk and pecan pies. Then I threw in some pumpkin bread before we called it a night. Yes, I did this all for the three of us a to eat dinner together on Thursday. I’m a mess, but at least I’ll be all carbed up that day!

Happy Pre-turkey Day!

M.

Fuck the Pilgrims

We wanted to enjoy a nice “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving this year, then our family decided they wanted to come here for the holiday, so we scrapped that idea and went all in with a regular old Thanksgiving. Then we decided that Covid has no chill and it was not a good idea to have a house full of guests this holiday, and probably any holiday until this shit is under control, so now we are back to a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving.

We aren’t really sure what a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving looks like, maybe we get pilgrim statues and hang them from their necks over the fireplace? Too gruesome? Or maybe we make a list of all the lands the pilgrims stole from the Indigenous People, and we donate five dollars for each land we come up with? Too expensive? Okay, maybe we just learn about the lands near us that were stolen from the Indigenous People, read about small box blankets and what not, and give thanks that the Native Americans are as resilient as they are? Perfect.

The point is Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is just an excuse for us to be with family, enjoy each other’s company, and eat a ton of good food. We don’t prescribe to the whole “Thank you” toward those first settlers who were monsters, and no, we aren’t grateful for them. I mean, I could be living in London right now, speaking with a British accent and going on about my business and not being led by one Donald Trump, so ehh.

Sure, I’m happy to be in America (sometimes) but I don’t really care either way because the truth of the matter is, you make the most of wherever you are, and that’s that. So yeah, fuck the pilgrims and their blooding and plundering, they didn’t do me any bloody favors.

Happy Fuck the Pilgrims Week, y’all.

M.

Dam Yam Hypothesis

We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans this year, more on that at a later time, but instead of having a houseful, it will just be the three of us (five of us if we count the dogs, some days I do, some days when I think I might kill one of them, I don’t). Still, even though there will only be three, maybe five, of us eating yams we bought the biggest can that Sam’s Club has. Why? They are yams, damn it.

The point of this is that the can of Bruce’s Yams is now sitting on our kitchen counter, because where does one fit a nine-pound can of yams? And Jackson has taken a liking to showing whomever he Facetimes with, his grandfather, his friends, his school study group, the can of yams sitting on our counter, while saying, “Look how crazy my parents are!”

Yesterday another sixth-grader yelled, “Oh my goodness, my parents have a six-pound can of strawberries on our counter!” And much to my hilarity I was sufficiently absolved of my yam guilt as Jackson said to his father, “Daddy, you and mommy are not the only crazy parents! Andrew’s parents have a six-pound can of strawberries!”

And just like that the world righted itself.

But by this time the question of how many yams are in the can had presented itself, leaving Jackson with a long division problem that he didn’t want to do, but one that Jerimiah made him do. Turns out, there are approximately 11 yams in the can. At least according to the “Dam Yam Hypothesis.”

Stay strong parents! And get those yams!

M.

Missed Connections

I was tasked with writing a Hermit Crab Essay in class this week. My professor suggested we don’t give it too much thought, don’t belabor it (we have a ton going on right now) so I didn’t. I sat on my front porch, felt the cool wind blow, and wrote for fifteen minutes on my phone, then copy and pasted this mess to the message boards. Then I thought you all might like it too. I hope you do. Remember, it’s not all terrible right now. We still have words, and art, and Craigslist Missed Connections, and funny Hermit Crab Essays about the things we cherish the most in this life.

M.

Craigslist Missed Connections

Atlanta Metro

Posted 10/21/20

Respond to: BasicBitch@basicbitch.com

I’d just left my therapist’s office, and decided I needed a kiwi. I was looking for any reason to be happy after crying for forty-five minutes. I decided on a kiwi. I drove to Kroger as the wind picked up and the small drops of rain started. This time of year isn’t my favorite. The cold, the rain. On top of what we’ve been through already. It’s all too much. 

I hurried inside the store while struggling to get my mask in place properly, and shielding my hair from the rain drops when I caught the first glimpse of you up ahead. I stopped dead in my tracks and the memories came rushing back. 

I’d been dreaming about you for months. In all my hopes for happiness, for normalcy, you were there, always just out of reach. This realization came to me quickly, brought me back to reality, forced my feet to slush faster through the puddles now forming. I sprinted past the pumpkins on display on the haystacks outside, grabbed the first cart I could find, not even bothering to sanitize it, and ran toward produce where I saw you again. 

You were there, right near the caramel-covered apples, but you weren’t alone. You never are. This time you were with a petite, blond woman. She seemed frail and cold, wrapped in a grey scarf, rubbing her hands together to warm them before wrapping her hands around you. The sight sent a shocking sensation through me, like when you get a lidocaine shot at the dentist and they accidentally hit a nerve. The sight of you hurt, but it was worth it.  

I’ve been a mess, honestly. I’ve been stretched to my mental, physical, and emotional limits this last year. My therapist says I need to look for positivity, wherever, whatever that is. She says I need to stay optimistic that the future will hold goodness, and I want it to hold goodness. But now, more urgently, I want to hold you.

I watched you walking with the blond woman, further away, back toward the deli, so I followed. I’m not sure why I did it, I just did it. Moved my body without thinking much. My therapist’s words echoing in my head, desire pumping through my veins, propelling me toward you, but for what? You were with her. And I didn’t dare get too close. I stayed well over six feet away.

And what did I expect to happen? Did I think I’d be able to snatch you away from her? Did I think I had some possession over you, some agency that she lacked? Was I more deserving, would I treat you better? No. I know I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Plus, this damn mask. How would I…? And in a Kroger of all places. 

So there we were. So close, yet so far away. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave enough to make a move. I’m sure next time it will be different, but for now I sit and wait for word from you. I sure hope you’re the goodness I need.

If you were in that Kroger last week, if you were with the woman in the grey scarf. If you were that tall, piping hot pumpkin spice latte, please write back. You know who you are. The one in the white cup with PSL written in sharpie on the side. I’m waiting. 

Yours Forever, 

Kroger Woman in a Black Mask