April First

Today is our one year anniversary of living in Georgia, and I’m happy to report that things have gone much better than expected. When we got the news about 18 months ago that we were headed to the Atlanta-metro for Jerimiah’s work, I had an actual, fucking breakdown, y’all. Georgia?! I mean really?! We already lived in North Carolina, the plan was to go further north, not further south. Like, ever. Plus, we had visited Altanta, exactly once, and swore we’d never go back. Le sigh. Life is funny, isn’t it.

April 1, 2019 I watched as my son and husband climbed into the car and headed south, then I went to Denver, NC (the place we lived for four of our five years in North Carolina) one last time. I had to see my dentist to finish my “procedure” that had taken months to get done. (I had a tooth implant put in and that day my favorite dentist in the whole world was actually cementing the implant in place.) So the last thing I did in North Carolina was grab coffee from my favorite DD, then I head south to my new home.

When I got here I was overwhelmed to say the least. It is difficult. Sitting alone in my empty house, boxes stacked up all around me, chaos and clutter. Orchestrating movers, and trampoline setter-uppers. Signing paperwork that never ends. Enrolling your kid into a new school system, all while wondering how long you will be here, yeah, it was tough. But this year has been totally worth all of it.

First there are the people we have met. The cool, awesome, kind, welcoming people. I learned about what I thought Southern Hospitality was in North Carolina, then I really learned what it was in Georgia. The Charlotte area has a semi-Southern Hospitality vibe, Georgia, well they live and breathe it. They welcome you, first thing. Ask where you are from, what you like to do. Invite you to join their communities, their churches, their friend circles. I had to work my ass off to meet people in North Carolina, in Georgia it felt sort of like I inherited them. Like it was my right when I moved into the neighborhood. It’s sorta nice. It’s actually, really nice.

Charlotte is a great place. Don’t get me wrong, and I actually love it and would probably move back tomorrow if given the opportunity. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise, and people have said otherwise, even close friends, but I stand my ground. Charlotte has all we need, without the hassle of “big city” living. But I have to say, Altanta has even more. A lot more. And we are just now, a year into this whole Georgia thing, discovering it.

Next is the school system. I know, I know, everyone is partial to their system, but Jackson was in three elementary schools. THREE! And the one he is in here in Georgia is THE BEST we have been in, hands down. And the school he is in is a Title One school! Gasp! (Did I ever tell you guys about his first elementary school, and how the other parents talked about the Title One school down the road? I should have known then.) Anyway, it’s also an IB-STEM school. The only one in the state. And it’s also a popular school for School Choice, which is another cool thing they do in Georgia. Even if you don’t live in our neighborhood you can go to school at Jackson’s school. How cool is that? Giving other kids a fighting chance. It’s also the MOST diverse school Jackson has ever attended, with kids from 50+ countries. It’s great, we love it and are sad that his fifth grade year has been cut short with Covid-19, but whatcha gonna do? Even the virtual learning is top-notch. I can’t say enough about his school and the school system in DeKalb County.

Whew.

Then there is the city itself. It is rife with history. So much history. And people are eager to talk about it, eager to share their stories, and the stories of the people and generations before them. You just have to find it.

Then there’s all the cool stuff. The amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, Centennial Park where the Olympics were held. There’s so much to do in Atlanta that it makes your head spin just thinking about it. And the people are friendly and cool. The art scene is amazing. The city itself diverse in a way that scares most people who aren’t from ’round these parts (mainly racists). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you don’t like Atlanta it’s because you haven’t spent enough time here (guilty!) Or you’re a racist. The traffic isn’t a real excuse to not like it, all big cities have horrible traffic, so stop with that nonsense and just admit you’re a racist.

(Stepping off high horse.)

So there you have it. The first year of life in the ATL has been so much better than we could have ever imagined, and to top it off, we just found out that Jerimiah is being promoted within the metro area, so we are here for a longer time than we thought we would be. (Had a scare a couple of months ago and thought we might have to move to Florida! Yikes!) But no, we are buckling down here, and we couldn’t be happier.

Thanks Georgia, for your welcoming spirit, your abundant opportunity, and your stone-cold awesomeness. Remember, home is where you shit is. Thanks for welcoming us home, Atlanta.

M.

City Living

I’ve always been partial to living in the city. So close that I can feel the heartbeat of the place. I never knew why. I was born and raised in a small town in Kansas. At least that’s what I tell people, but since I’ve left Leavenworth I’ve realized how much it wasn’t a “normal” small town, like other places I have lived since. Or like the place my husband grew up, or friends who tell me stories about the same 25 kids they went from elementary through high school with. When I was growing up in Leavenworth I felt stifled. But I’m learning it was more about my fear of never breaking the poverty cycle. Of never striking out to other places, meeting new faces, tacking chances. I didn’t want to fall in a rut, stay put, never grow as a person.

But Leavenworth itself wasn’t too bad of a place to grow up in. There was plenty of diversity and culture (for Kansas anyway) and it was a short 20 miles to Kansas City (Missouri or Kansas, take your pick). It had museums (if you took the time to find them), multiple elementary, middle, and high schools. Private and public. It had Fort Leavenworth, the Federal Penitentiary, and we were a cool 20-minute drive the other way to the University of Kansas. It was actually an okay place.

And because my mother rarely had a car when I was very young, we walked a lot of places. Which meant we were always near the places we needed to get to with regularity. The bank, the grocery store, the hospital (just in case) and my school. Which also means we were usually in the heart of the city. In fact, one of the coolest places we ever lived (in my opinion) was in this large house half a block from the main artery in Leavenworth, Highway 7, aka 4th Street. Here I am, standing in the front yard in an awesome bathing suit (probably had me a kick-ass Slip ‘n Slide).

I think I’ve shared this pic before, but for a different reason. Trying to figure out who that truck belonged to (I’m pretty sure it was my sister’s friend Shane) and how/why we had a Polaroid camera. Might have been Shane’s too, as she was obviously very rich with a vehicle and what not.

The house sat diagonally, as you can see, from Burger King. It also shared an alley with Kentucky Fried Chicken, where my sister worked in high school, and Taco Johns was just across the street. Why yes, I do have a weight problem, but no, I have no idea why. Also, that BK had the most KICK-ASS play place, with a ball pit! A Ball Pit! Outside! I mean yeah, it makes me shake with nervousness just thinking about it now, and I’m compulsively dowsing hand sani all over my body, but it was pretty awesome in 1987. And I’m pretty sure my mom would scrape change together on nice afternoons, enough to buy a Diet Coke, and we’d walk over, and she’d sit and sip Diet Coke while I played all afternoon in the ball pit with whatever random kids happened over. So it was sort of like my own personal jungle gym. Cool. Maybe that’s why my pain threshold is so high?

McDonalds had the only indoor play place, with one of those really cool slides and that Hamburgler-Jail thing. So when it was cold, she’d scrounge up enough change for a cup of coffee and a Happy Meal, and we’d walk the extra half mile to McDonalds to play.

I’ve spun off topic. Imagine that.

I lived in the heart of the city. That’s my point, but I’ve lived in the country too. And fallen asleep to the sound of the lake, or the sound of the frogs chirping, or the crickets singing, or the Meth heads next door out at three am looking for their horse that got loose (true story). The country is nice, for awhile, but it just isn’t my thing.

I like the bustle of the city. The ease of public transportation. The events that are always happening. The people to watch. I like the way that, if I fall asleep with my windows open on a cool, crisp spring night here in the Atlanta metro, I can be lulled to sleep by the train, or the ambulance sirens speeding to the Perimeter. It’s not the Burger King play place, but it will rightly do.

Enjoy wherever your home is right now. Just make sure to stay there until it’s safe to go out again.

M.

Winnie, The Doo

Last week a friend of ours called to ask if we could dog sit while she goes out of town to stay with family while we are in this quarantine. Her husband still has to physically go to work in Atlanta and she didn’t want to leave her pup all alone all day. We had previously discussed the idea of trading off dog-sitting duties with each other if we ever needed to, so our dogs already know and like each other, so we said sure thing. Two days with our friends’ sweet Doggo Nola, a yellow-Lab mix, and my puppy-mommy uterus was exploding. Jerimiah and I have been in talks for several months about the idea of a second dog. In fact, if you’ll remember we went to a couple of shelters, but didn’t find a doggo that fit our family. Then after having Nola around, seeing how cool she is with Sir Duke, how he has a playmate and that helps out a lot, well, we just did it. We totally adopted a dog over the weekend! May I please introduce to you Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta:

Now, I know what you are thinking: That’s a beast of a name, Missy! How did you ever come up with it? Super simple. My friend Madison suggested Winnie, while we were stuck on “D” names that would be cute with Duke. Names like, Dixie, Delta, or Dolly. But I knew since she was a Lady, she needed a noble sounding name, so I said make it Winifred and you’ve got a deal. Jackson was hellbent on Beesly, as a nod to the fictional character Pam Beesly in “The Office” (of which we just finished the whole series as a family and that was a hot fucking mess, with not one, but two emotional breakdowns for my 11-year-old). And of Atlanta is of course necessary, considering she is a Lady. But like Duke (whose actual name is Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte) we call her by her nickname, Winnie. Or more usually, Winnie the Doo, because she’s an 8-week-old F1B PyreDoodle.

What the actual hell is an F1B PyreDoodle? Winnie is 3/4 Standard Poodle, 1/4 Great Pyrenees, and 1/1 awesome. Her biological mommy is a Standard Parti-Poodle and her biological daddy is half Standard and half Great Pyrenees, giving her the F1B status. Now listen, I don’t know anything about dog breeding. Nor do I know anything about these fancy-ass designer breeds that I am apparently drawn to, but she isn’t AKC registered like Duke because she can’t be, because she’s, well, let’s just call her “too special.” Yes, she’s “too special” to be recognized as a reputable dog breed by the American Kennel Craphead Uppity Bitches Chamber of Cocksuckers. I think that’s their full name. But listen y’all, true to Missy fashion, I had to Google what a Great Pyrenees looks like after we had already adopted her. Side note, they look like this:

Did you know they were really big? I did not.

Anyway, even though she’s mostly SPOO, she looks mostly like a Great Pyrenees puppy, which makes me a little nervous cause the doggy door we bought isn’t all that big. But that’s shit to worry about later, for now, please look at these pictures:

Now, how are Sir Duke and Lady Winnie getting along? Well, the first day was ruff. He was really sad that she was getting a ton of attention, and he withdrew a bit. He even refused to sleep on the bed with us because she was up there. Then by the next day he had convinced himself that she was a Covid-19 carrier because Great Pyrenees are mountain dogs from France and Spain, and he’s slightly racist. Later that night we found and burned his MAGA hat, had a stern talk with him, and he’s coming around. He even lets her eat next to him, as you can see in the above picture.

Yesterday they started to play together. And whenever I tell her “Outside!” and rush out the door with her peeing down my arm, I think I can see a twinkle in his eye. He knows he is the superior being, he doesn’t feel pressure to prove it anymore. Also, he’s a little scared of her. But to be fair, she’s kinda ferocious for such a tiny thing.

So there you have it, Winnie the Doo. And yes, we made a song for her set to the Winnie-the-Pooh theme song and it’s dropping fresh today straight from the 100-acre wood. You’re welcome.

M.

Winnie the Doo (Sung to the tune of Winnie-the-Pooh)

Winnie the Doo, Winnie the Doo,

Fuzzy little puppy, all stuffed and fluffy,

Winnie the Doo, Winnie the Doo

Silly, willy, nilly old girl!

Welcome to the family, Winnie-girl. You’ve got some big shoes to fill, but we think Bentley would be proud of you.

Bonus Post

I don’t usually post twice in one day, but I decided to make an exception today for fun. We’ve been walking our neighborhood every day in an effort to just get outdoors. We wave at those we pass, but keep our distance. We have noticed that the foot traffic has picked up, which is nice, and some people are hanging lights and signs in their windows. A couple of days ago a house hung up all sorts of flags in their trees. It was pretty cool to look at and it gave me an idea. The next day I drew my “Flags of Quarantine.” It’s just a little something to make you smile. Here: Smile please.

Then today, feeling artsy again, and inspired by Jackson drawing “Virtual Learning Bingo!” for creativity day in school, I drew an adult version as well.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this bonus post and our very amateur artwork!

Stay safe out there!

M.

You Are Not Alone

I’m sitting here waiting for my coffee to brew this morning, and I’m wondering about my friends. I’m hoping that you are all safe, and I don’t just mean safe physically. I know you all are taking the pandemic seriously. I also know that like me, you have family members who aren’t taking it seriously and you are worried about them. I know, like me, you have kids starting school online today. I know, like me, you are nervous about a myriad of things and it feels sometimes like you’re going through a dark tunnel and there is no end in sight. I just want to tell you that you are not alone.

There were moments yesterday that it felt like a regular Sunday. There were moments when I didn’t even realize our country or the world was in crisis. Then something would happen to bring me back into reality. At noon we got our daily check-in from our governor. The numbers doubled overnight in the State of Georgia. Again.

A few hours later I was happily staining wood in my carport, when I got an alert on my phone that the local Waffle House employee had just been brought out of quarantine and was walking. He tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago, but he has recovered.

Later that day Jerimiah and I were discussing hot tub essentials and I said, “Oh, I can just run to Lowe’s.” And he said, “We should probably order from Amazon so we don’t have to go out.” Oh, right. Shit, that’s right.

In and out of this way of thinking. Remembering, forgetting. Remembering, forgetting. I limit my social media time so I don’t get so wrapped up in things, and that has been good for me during this pandemic. May I suggest that to you all? I know it seems hard, harder now with more time on your hands, but let us not forget all the books that need to be read. All the kids that need help doing schoolwork. All the dogs that need walking. There are other ways to pass the time. And believe me, it is worth it.

Because I see things like this: A family member of mine asked the question on social media the other day, “How bad would Coronavirus be if there was no social media?” The question itself was asinine, put out in the universe to ruffle feathers, and maybe, probably to get conspiracy theories flying, but the point I took from it was that there are still people with blinders on. Still people who thing this is just a big hoax. And that has to be negatively impacting those of us (the large majority, mind you) who know better.

Another family member shared a meme that said, “Do you know anyone who is actually sick? I don’t. This is the media shutting down America.”

Bleh. This is real life, unfortunately. And it’s top down, as we all know by now.

I read a quote yesterday that said, “This isn’t prophecy, this is math.” And I gotta be honest it hit home for me because I have family members saying things like, “I can go where I want and do what I want, because God has my back.” It’s scary and it’s sad, and it’s so terribly wrong. This way of thinking is going to kill people.

I want you to know though, that if you have people around you who are talking and feeling this way, and it is making you crazy, know that you are not alone. We are all watching this unfold. We are all having moments of normalcy, sandwiched in between breakdowns. Wondering what will happen next. What alert will come across our phones. Whether our loved ones will be okay. Wondering if we are doing the right things. Wondering what to say to those of us not taking this seriously. Who do not understand how to flatten the curve. Who believe this is the end of times.

Just remember. There are some people you can’t change, you can’t help. And it’s best not to waste your time with them. Focus on the people you can help. Focus on the people in your house. The people on your street. The people in your community. Focus on stopping the spread. Taking less risks. Focus on doing the most good for the most amount of people. If we all lived our lives this way, it would be so magical.

And remember, when it feels like you’re in the pits, when you just can’t crawl out, when the news it too much, and your family members are too much, and this is all too much, remember there are others like you. Most people in fact. And reach out. I’m here.

Stay safe and sane.

M.

Posts I Would Have Made

I wrote a few posts last week, like last Monday, back, way back, before Covid-19 turned out to be so bad. Or before I was paying a lot of attention to it. Back when I thought I would still travel to Kansas City and back. I am sharing them today for two reasons: 1. To show how naive I was and 2. To allow you to laugh at me. Cause I think you probably need to laugh today. So here you go, one post for when I was flying to Kansas City and one for the way back home, when I thought all was still normal. Enjoy.

ATL–>MCI

If you’re reading this, I’m nonstop from Atlanta to Kansas City, on what is most likely a Delta Airbus, maybe a Boeing. I’m trying desperately not to get the Coronavirus, by keeping just enough alcohol in my system for the entirety of the flight. I’ll let you know, in about two weeks, if my plan has been successful. My husband’s probably not supportive of this plan. He’s probably already made a comment about ordering gin on an airplane very early in the morning. He’s probably reminded me that I shouldn’t drink with the Klonopin I washed down with said gin, as the plane ascended.

My son is probably ignoring the whole situation with YouTube videos and his earbuds, while peering out the window since beating me to the window seat, of which I actually allowed him to have on account of my motherly niceness. Also because people have probably sneezed on that window and he’s the least likely to die from the Coronavirus, if it in fact breezes through our household. Lest I remind you what I’ve just been told: Put on your own oxygen mask, before assisting others.

M.

MCI–>ATL

I’m headed back on another plane, bound for Atlanta from Kansas City, and I’m assuming that the Delta Goddess has given me enough leg room to stretch my legs to nap on the way home. I’m hoping. I’m assuming that I have not contacted Covid-19, that my son has not licked his way across the Midwest, and that my husband has given up on me trying to drink any virus away. I’m hopeful and assuming today.

When we land we have to get back to our car. Then we have to pick up the dog from the sitter’s. Then we have to unload the dog and the bags and book it to band practice, then from band practice to baseball practice. We have to eat dinner at some point. We have to unpack. Take a shower. Gather ourselves for the rest of the week at home.

But for now, I’m going to sleep on a plane. A Delta plane bound for Atlanta from Kansas City.

M.

Shit Holes and Bottled Water

I’ve seen all the memes floating around about how toilet paper is flying off shelves, and what that has to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. I know people are making light of other’s actions, but I think we can all agree that it boils down to two things: A strong-held belief (mainly from Christianity) that the “End of times” is near, and a sense of loss of control when faced with such a chaotic, confusing, and scary time such as we find ourselves in now. The problem is, when the “End of timers” run and grab all the toilet paper and bottled water, it causes mass hysteria with those seemingly “normal” populations of people, who feel compelled, for no other reason than they see others doing it, to then go and do it. It helps them. It allows them to rest easy at night knowing that they won’t have to dig a shit hole in their backyard if in fact this is the rapture. Do I have your attention now? With the whole “shit hole” thing?

If you follow along closely you will know by now that today my nephew Josh is marrying his fiancé Sarah. They are a lovely young couple, with bright, talented futures ahead of them. They have already accomplished, in their mid twenties, things that others can only dream of. We were set to fly to Kansas City and be part of the ceremony this weekend, but we decided last minute (eight hours before our Uber came to get us) that we would not make the trip to Kansas City and back at this time. And it was for one reason only, Covid-19.

We spent all of the hours up to that final decision talking to friends and family. Jerimiah and I spent a lot of time looking blankly at each other. I knew that if we didn’t go we would be viewed by some family members as “crazy” or “dumb” or “Libtards” (yes, we have family members who use that word). So we had to decide, were we willing to risk carrying a deadly virus with us (Georgia is a state with high-incidence levels) to a place with not many cases, or would we rather suck it up and go, and not look dumb. We had to decide how we would feel if one of our loved ones became ill. We were set to see many loved ones who are over the age of 65, with various health problems. We had to decided how we would feel if we unknowingly transferred something to them. How we would feel if they contracted the virus from anywhere. If we had visited, whether or not they got it from us, we would always think we gave it to them. We would always blame ourselves. Whether or not they contracted anything from us, we’d always think it was us.

There were other factors. My mother is 75-years-old and lives in a retirement community. One that we would spend substantial time in.

Our son has asthma, and although Covid-19 seems to be staying clear of children, it’s not something you want to risk with asthma.

We didn’t want to unknowingly pass anything to a loved one. We have been in Atlanta in the last two weeks. We took public transit. We know of self-quarantined cases in the actual town we live in. We understand that community spread is real.

Then we heard other about family members who have been to places with high incidence in the last two weeks, and they are not taking this seriously. Family members our son would come in contact with.

Then my best friends’ husband got an email from the University he works at in Kansas. It listed states to stay clear of, Georgia was one of them.

Then our governor suggested the State of Georgia close schools. Jerimiah and I looked at each other. Then came the letter from the superintendent, moments later. They did close the schools. All Dekalb County, until further notice.

There we were, looking dumbly at each other, both with a million things on our minds, when Jerimiah finally said, “Do you think it will be easy to cancel everything?” I said, “Let’s find out.”

It was. Delta refunded everything. Marriott refunded everything. National Car Rental refunded everything. Rover, the app we use to book our dog sitter, refunded everything. No questions asked. No fees of any kind. That’s when we knew we had made the right decision. No one should be traveling right now, if they don’t need to be. And the travel industry knows that.

Were we bummed? You betcha. But we’ve realized over the last 24 hours that this isn’t about us, and too many people are acting like it is. Too many people are being selfish right now. That’s why the tp is flying off the shelves. That’s why there are still people booking flights and traveling to beaches. That’s why there are people walking around carrying a virus, unbeknownst to them, and passing it to their community, rather than being inconvenienced for a few days.

Now listen, I get it. Some people have to work. Some people have no other option. If they don’t work, they don’t get a paycheck. I am not talking about those people. I am also not discussing how horrible it is to cancel school when there are children who feel safest at school. When there are children that are only fed, at school. Those are other topics. Today, I’m just sharing our decision. What and who played a role in it. And I’m imploring you, please stay home if you are sick. Please don’t buy all the tp you can buy. Please leave a few bottles of hand sanitizer on the shelf. Please, for the love of all the shit holes, try to be a kind, civilized person who cares for others just as much as you care for yourself.

Stay safe out there.

M.