Randy's Back, Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

I Can Buy Baby Llamas Now

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Sliver of Hope

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

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

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

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

M.

Christmas at the Goodnight House

When Jackson was born we decided we’d always spend Christmas at home. We aren’t into the lugging of gifts cross country, and the logistics of Santa visiting hotels, or relatives’ houses. We’ve always said our door is open to whomever would like to spend Christmas with us, and for several years we had grandparents come visit, and a couple of times friends stopped in a few days later, but for the last two years it’s been just the three of us, and Sir Duke, and while we missed our family (and enjoyed the pics they all shared from gatherings in the Midwest) we had another nice, little Christmas at home this year. Our first one in Georgia!

It’s a byproduct of living away from family, the quiet, small Christmases. And having a child who’s still young enough to lay out milk and cookies for Santa helps. Maybe, as we move into the teen years we can travel more, but until then, although I know our family misses us at Christmastime, we will be at our house, but our door is always open. Just be warned, it goes something like this:

This year Jackson woke us up at 6:00 am on the nose, and we dug in. Santa brought great gifts, including a new Nerf gun which exploded into a full-on Nerf Gun war between the three of us, running and screaming through the house while being pelted with rubber and foam. Ahh, Christmas morn.

We played with cars, we played with Jackson’s new video drone (which he promptly flew into one of the giant Georgia Pines that overlook our house). Sir Duke and I dozed in the afternoon, while the boys played a new Lego game on the PS4.

It was nearly 70 degrees, so we grilled steaks and shrimp for Christmas dinner, while Jackson took aim at his new Red Ryder targets, and Duke chased a brand-new tennis ball. We anticipated our upcoming trip over dinner, while we reminisced about the last time the three of us were in NYC together. After dinner we listened to my new record player (my old one had died), played with cars some more, than ended the night with a chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (four more to go)! And mind you, we did this all in matching pajamas. Ha!

By 10:30 we were all beat, including Sir Duke Barkington who had quite the assortment of gas-inducing treats. Whew! However, it was the merriest of Christmases at the Goodnight house. We hope it was the same for you!

M.

Ps… My favorite present was an antique globe for my office. 😍

I Would Drive 15,000 Miles…

And I would drive 15,000 more, because I have driven 15,000 miles this year and this isn’t how the song goes. But you did try to sing it to the Proclaimers for a minute, right?! Sure you did. And also, this is no joke. My husband, son, and I have driven 15,000 miles this year, and as you know, the year is not yet over. Look it, we are Midwesterners, so if I’m being honest 15,000 isn’t that much for us. You learn young in the Midwest, that if you want to see the “cool” shit, visit the “neat” places, you have to travel. And no one has money to be hopping on airplanes all the damn time, so you drive. Wanna go to a beach, one on an ocean? You be driving. Wanna go to a cool theme park? That’s a drive. Wanna see some historical shit? Some real, salt-of-the-Earth, Mother Nature, God’s Country type shit? You be driving. Want some culture? Driving. Damn, you just want to see a mountain and maybe snap a pic of an elk or something cool like that? That’s at minimum eight hours in the car. So, yeah, 15,000 miles ain’t no thing, but we aren’t stopping there. Jerimiah just booked our hotels for our New Years Eve vacay, which we will be adding another, ohhh, roughly 3,000 more miles to our total for the year. Don’t worry, I’m SURE I will have stuff to tell y’all about when I get back from Canada, Upstate New York, and New England in the dead of winter… (Note: All the red below are links to what I wrote while I was on these many trips, or just something that happened in that place, if you want to go back and reminisce with me!)

So where have we been this year to be racking up those kinda miles? Well, we started off the year with a road trip to Washington, DC where we participated in the Women’s March with friends. That was some wonderful, scary, sad, frustrating, empowering stuff. It was the week of the government shutdown, so there wasn’t much to do around town, but we did make it to the Holocaust Museum with the kids. Then there were two trips “home” and home here means the Midwest. We went to Kansas in May and then back to Missouri and Oklahoma in June. Then there were the four or five trips we made to Atlanta from Charlotte to find a house, enroll Jackson in school, etc. Then there was the actual move from Charlotte to Atlanta. And there were the subsequent trips back this year to see friends in Charlotte.

Then there was the trip to Texas.

Then there were all the trips back and forth to and from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Coastal Louisiana all summer long. AHHHHH!

These miles do not count all the miles that we flew, and there were several thousands of those too. Mainly Jerimiah and his crazy work schedule this year, but also a trip I took out to Arizona to see one of my best friends.

At one point, six months into living in our new house in DeKalb County, Georgia (pronounced Dee Cab, not Dee Cobb for you Midwesterners) we counted up the actual number of nights that the three of us had been home together and the findings were not good. Not good at all. Meanwhile, we have earned so many airline and hotel points that our next vacation to anywhere, is actually free. That’s a lot of miles and points, y’all. Too many, really.

We aren’t normally this busy. In fact, we are homebodies, I know that is hard to believe, but we prefer to be at home. We prefer our own beds. Jesus, it took me months to pick out my bed and I LOVE it. And I like my own bathroom and well, just my own shit, you know? But, if you always stay where you are, you will never get anywhere. So we go. We travel, we move when we need to in order to better ourselves. We linger in new places for a few days, we see new sights, meet new people. We are travelers. Lucky to be able to do it, excited about what is around the next corner. But coming home is always nice too.

So there you have it, 15,000 miles worth of traveling so far this year, hoping to make it to 18,000, and hoping to add to our experiences, our fun, our love for our country, our friends, our family, and the world. Thanks for sharing in our adventures!

M.

Let Us Alone: My Close Call with Florida

We’ve been dealing with a little scare the last few months. Jerimiah was told back in September that they were moving him from the place he has been supporting, Baton Rouge, to a different location. First we were told we would most likely have to actually move again, which meant we would have been in Georgia for less than a year. A couple options were thrown at us, and neither of them were good. In fact, they were sorta crappy. One was New Orleans and one was Tampa, Florida. Yeah. Sure, there are worst places to live than New Orleans, like anywhere in the state of Florida. And if we have to move again we would really rather it be a move OUT of the South. But you know us, we looked at each other, took a big sigh, and braced for impact.

Part of bracing for impact meant that we decided that wherever we ended up, we were not all moving together at once. Because Jackson HAS to finish fifth grade in one school. Quite specifically this school, the coolest, most awesome school we have been in, with the coolest, most awesome teacher he has ever had. Which meant chances were good that Jackson and I would be living alone for several months in our house, and Jerimiah would be living in a roach-infested, cheap apartment in a bad part of either New Orleans or Tampa. Cause two house payments is not a thing we can do. But, here comes the happy ending: We got word last week that we don’t have to move! He is still supporting Tampa rather than Baton Rouge, but they want him to stay in the ATL because he has growth here (and if I may, he scored the highest score on this totally obscure, weirdo test they give people that his boss has ever seen #SmartestGuyEver) and for that we are thankful.

But when I was deep down in the shit last month, thinking we might have to move, and kinda sad about it, I started finding ways to make myself happy. When I thought of New Orleans, I pushed the idea of swampy, pathetic, poor-economic, low test scores, rampant racism, and flooding out of my mind and tried to focus on the good. Which boiled down to three things: Living in a historically-rich area, cheap housing prices, and visitors. Right now we have about two friends and our moms who visit us with regularity. I’m not mad, y’all, just disappointed. I thought since a lot of people consider New Orleans a “cool vacation spot” maybe we would get more traffic.

Florida was a little tougher. Sure there are the beaches (Tampa is on the Gulf side though, so it doesn’t count), and discounted Disney tickets, but it’s still fucking Florida. It’s like saying we were moving to Texas, but at least in Florida there’s diversity. In order to humor myself I started thinking up headlines that I may find myself in one day. You know the whole Florida Man thing. Well these are Florida Woman headlines, more specifically ones that I might be involved with like “Florida Woman Fends off Would-be Attacker with a Wine Bottle and a Matted-up Poodle” or “Florida Woman Loses $20 at the Roulette Table, Attacks Row of Penny Slots Convinced they were Betting Against Her”. You know, stuff like that. So without further ado, I present to you (in a very happy way because I don’t have to move any further South than I am right now):

Florida Woman Headlines, Missy Edition

  • Florida Woman Robs Convenient Store, Stealing Only Over-priced Lunchables
  • Florida Woman Hires Exorcist for Tampa-area Home, Attempting to Rid Ghost of WWF Wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow
  • Florida Woman Exchanges Humorous Texts with 65-year-old Retiree, She Believed was a Dolphin
  • Florida Woman Covers Hers Dog in Bologna, Attempts to Lure Baby Alligators to Backyard
  • Florida Woman Places Order for 157 Pounds of Chicken Wings and One Diet Coke
  • Florida Woman Attaches 10 Baby Alligators to Her Fingertips, Tells Everyone “Got my nails did!” is Escorted from Walmart
  • Florida Woman Claims she Found an “Endangered Owl” in her Backyard, Refuses to Give Live Owl to Authorities
  • Florida Woman Loses Bingo Jackpot, Flips Tables at Senior Center
  • Florida Woman Outside Piggly Wiggly with Llama, is “Unpaid, Unsolicited Endorsement” says Grocery Chain, When Reached for Comment, Florida Woman Mounted Llama and Rode Away
  • Florida Woman Makes Children Uncomfortable at Bus Stop, After Approaching with Phone Demanding they Tell her What “Flakka” is
  • Florida Woman Drunk at PTO Meeting, Demands Repayment for “Check she sent in Last Week”, PTO President says “She doesn’t even go here”

Okay, okay, you know I kid, y’all. I would never harm any animals. Not even a baby alligator. But I thought I might leave you with a bit of knowledge about this state that we despise so much. This is a true story, so true in fact, I am adding the link to the bottom of the page.

In 1845, the State of Florida decided on their flag and motto. The flag passed, but the motto: “Let Us Alone” did not, and because of the way it all went down, it would seem that nothing was actually, lawfully passed. Which is why years later Florida got a different flag. But this was what they originally wanted to be their flag. Sans the motto, but if you ask me, they should have just let them have it. And we should all heed their warnings…

Florida State Flag History from 1845

M.

Streets of Evangeline

We’ve been listening to Randy Newman as of late. He’s an artist whose work has always sort of lived in the edges of my life. I’d heard of him, I’d heard strong opinions about his music, both good and bad, but I’d never really invested until recently. Jerimiah, Jackson, and I have been spending more time in Louisiana, and while it’s not necessarily by choice (Jerimiah’s job has him traveling to Baton Rouge twice a month on average, and Jackson and I tag along when we can) we’ve taken these trips as an opportunity to learn more about the bayou, the history, the people, and somewhere in there Randy Newman showed up, but it didn’t start with him.

It started with the story of Lester Maddox, the 75th governor of Georgia. A raging, racist lunatic, and his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in 1970, and as it does, it sort of just snowballed.

“Last night I saw Lester Maddox on a tv show/ With some smart ass New York Jew/And the Jew laughed at Lester Maddox/And the audience laughed at Lester Maddox too…”

This is one of the first Newman songs we came across. After we watched the YouTube video of Lester Maddox and Jim Brown. Which by the way, you should totally watch if you are into this kind of thing. This kind of thing being how racism operates and has operated in our country. So yeah, you should be into this kind of thing.

Anyway, the Randy Newman album that sort of punctuated our summer is called Good Old Boys and there are a lot of good tracks on this particular album, but none of them compare to the song Louisiana 1927. The song is about the Mississippi flood from 1927 that flooded 17 million acres of land and killed 250 people in a prominent Black community. It resembled Hurricane Katrina in scope, and there is something haunting and so very sad about driving across the Claiborne Avenue Bridge in New Orleans and hearing this song. And that’s where I found myself one hot, summer afternoon and I couldn’t do anything but cry.

The song is rife with racial undertones. Matter fact, the whole album is. But it’s clear to those who listen what Randy Newman was trying to say. And it’s true. And it’s sad. And sure it makes us uncomfortable, but we have to hear it. We have to see it. We have to know how they treated, and are still treating, the Black communities in the Deep South. That was the number one takeaway I had from my travels this summer: Racism is alive and well in the Deep South. And it touches EVERY SINGLE part of a person’s life down there, whether they want to admit it or not. And for the record, I’m including Georgia in this, though Atlanta is different, it isn’t hard to see open racism here too, if you know where to look.

This summer was unusual, to say the least. And I made mad fun of Louisiana, particularly Baton Rouge, and although the city and the state deserve it, the people don’t. Not all of them. Louisiana seems a place to me that you just have to see for yourself. And no, I don’t mean getting drunk on Bourbon Street or buying a piece of art at Jackson Square. I mean the seeing the nitty-gritty of the place. Talking to the locals. Understanding how their history, their culture, their language, and their religion has been shaped, by years of torture, from Mother Nature, from their own government, and from each other.

I always run the risk of preaching on here, so I will stop. But I guess I’m starting to realize that I might have been unfair to Louisiana. I might have been unfair to the people, anyway. And without the people, what would there be?

I’m leaving one more video below. It’s the song Rednecks from the same album. **Warning: The N-Word is used freely in this song. It might be hard for some to hear. It was hard for me, but it’s necessary.** The history of this song is even more bizarre. The actual real, rednecks of Louisiana didn’t really listen to the words when this song came out, they didn’t think much on it (you know those important critical thinking skills I always talk about), and they adopted it as their “mantra” for years, without realizing that they were being made fun of and that the whole song was about the rampant racism they were creating. So, yeah… #GoLSU

M.

It’s a Good Life. Enjoy it.

The last couple of weeks that my mom was visiting us in Atlanta, the weather was not cooperating, so we looked for a couple of indoor things to do. We managed a cozy afternoon at the Jimmy Carter Center on one rainy, icky day. Then one glorious afternoon we made our way to a place we have wanted to visit since we moved here in April, The Center for Puppetry Arts! Now I know what you are thinking: Puppets? Cause I’m pretty sure that is what my mom was thinking too, when I was trying to pump her up for the experience. I’m also 99% sure that is what Jackson and Jerimiah were thinking too. Let me start over, I have wanted to visit The Center for Puppetry Arts since we moved here in April and everyone else was sorta, ehh about the whole thing. Until we got inside…

First of all, the Center is celebrating the 50 years of Sesame Street. So right away, we were all in shock to be face to face with some of our biggest idols. Umm, they had Big Bird AND Oscar the Grouch. Umm, they had Miss Piggy AND Kermit. Umm, they have the entire cast of Fraggle Motherfuckin Rock, y’all. All of them, even Sprocket my personal favorite. I mean, honestly, I don’t have a lot of words, so I won’t use many. I’ll use pictures instead.

First it was all about Jim Henson and how he came to be. Fascinating stuff, the way he thought and imagined. Then we got to meet some of the lesser known puppets, then hit the “backstage” area where we got to dabble with making our own show, as seen above. Then, the real shit hit the fan: We found Sesame Street, The Labyrinth, The Muppets, and Fraggle Rock! Hilarity ensued.

Deep breaths, puppet, muppet, and OG Street nerds, the shit is about to hit the fan…

The next few moments were spent with my mom and me trying to explain Fraggle Rock to Jackson and Jerimiah who both looked at us like we were nuts. “Yeah, so they lived in a series of caves and they maintained a complex culture and society, with each individual having rights and responsibilities. They had basic skills with tools and with rudimentary machinery, and the concept of war was known to them (although wars between Fraggles were very rare). Oh and! And, Fraggles live on a diet of vegetables, mainly radishes, and if they touch their heads together before falling asleep they can share dreams…”#Crickets

So first there was Sesame Street, which was Jackson’s actual JAM for the first four or five years of his life (mine and Jerimiah’s too), then there was Fraggle MFing Rock and the Muppets, which my mom and I adored watching when I was a kid, then Jerimiah found his Holy land…

THEN, as if that wasn’t enough, there was a whole other exhibit dedicated to the history of puppets, including puppets from all over the world, and THEN there was a whole other exhibit dedicated to the Dark Crystal! See below.

Okay, whew, let me take a breather before I get to the last pictures. And let me just tell you that if you are ever in the ATL, sure, go to the aquarium, and sure, visit Coke World, or CNN, or Centennial Park. But if you are a true Jim Henson fan, well then, there is only one place you need to go: The Center for Puppetry Arts!

Thanks for coming on this journey with me, y’all, and I’m sorry if you have just now, at this very moment, realized that I am a damn puppet nerd. But that’s just the facts, you know. I’ll leave you with these last few photos to entice you and to inspire you. And remember what Miss Piggy would always say, “I am who I am, why can’t you accept that about me?” #SlayGirl

M.

Accidents Happen

If you’re following along you know two things to be true: I was just last week, six months after we moved to Atlanta, that I was able to get my car tags switched to the state of Georgia and sweet baby Jesus that’s a long-ass story, and 2. Things are sometimes crazy at the Goodnight house. Case in point: last Thursday, the actual day I was able to walk into the friendly DeKalb County MVD and walk out with car tags on my lovely, happy, Volkswagen, I, ahem, had my first car “accident.” Now don’t freak out! I said DON’T FREAK OUT! No one was injured. In fact, no one was driving. We were parked when the accident occurred, but like most things in my life, there’s a story…

There I am, pumped to be able to get Jackson from school in my car, legally tagged, and what not. We walk occasionally, nowadays, depending on the weather, but this was a nasty weather day. In fact, right when I pulled up at his school around 4:00 (he had robotics practice after school that day) it started to rain. I usually try to snatch a spot right in front of the school, but because of the rain the front lane was already packed to the gills, so I snatched a relatively close spot in the parking lot adjacent.

Now mind you, I have been driving Jerimiah’s truck for the last few months because while I was waiting on a title to come to me for my car (which never came, because it was never going to come but the sonsabitches never told me that) my car tags expired and my car was forever parked in the carport, just waiting, with her large, judgey eyes, to be driven again. This bears no weight on this story. Well, it kind of does. See Jerimiah’s truck is different than my car. It’s bigger, and the doors are more “square” and you know what, I’m just gonna move on. (Side note: Is it “bares” or “bears”? Here’s the thing, I never remember, and yes, I am an English major, but I still have to look it up a lot and that’s not the only thing, and honestly I don’t feel like looking it up right now, so can someone just tell me? Okuuuur? Thanks.)

So I go inside and collect Jackson, along with his bag, his untied shoes, his coat crumpled under his arm, and his giant trumpet case. So, we walk out to the car, again, it’s starting to rain and my son is a hot fucking mess, I just want to make sure that I made that clear. He’s a fifth grader. Okay. So he sees my car, her name is Tiggy, and he is all pumped to have her back like I am. We get to the car, I get to my side, he heads over to the passenger side, I hear the back door open, then he freezes. I’m all, “What’s up, dude?” He’s all, “Umm, I think I opened the car door too wide and it hit this car and umm, I think I may have done something bad.” I roll my eyes, because how bad could it be, I’m thinking a little scratch that will buff out with my fingers. This isn’t my first rodeo. So I walk to the other side of the car and that is when I see that this BRAND NEW BMW 330i has a cracked tail light. Like for real.

My first reaction is all inside, thankfully. I’m like, “REALLY, BMW?! Really?! Like, you sell a MFing $50,000 car whose tail lights crack in a matter of seconds when faced with an obstacle?” I’m not trying to be that gal here, but my Tiggy has been beat the hell up. Like, she’s a 2013 VW and she looks like she’s been rode pretty hard, because, well, she has, but she still chugging along quite nicely, with all her lights in tact. (But, she does have one of the best safety ratings in her class, so suck on the Bimmer.)

Anywho, this is where it gets a little hairy. First of all, let me just say that I 100% believe that this was a test of my new medication, because just that morning my Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Suzan asked me if my new medication was working, and I was all, “I don’t really know. I mean, I think so.” Oh, it is. Because non-medicated Missy would have said this, “What the actual hell, Jackson?! You need to be more careful! Look what you did, oh my gosh, this is horrible. This is going to ruin my life, how can I ever recover from this?!” Something like that. Instead, I looked at him. He looked at me, a little scared, definitely feeling bad, he never wants to hurt anyone or anything, yes even, nay, especially a nice car. He’s a total car guy, in case you didn’t know and I think it pained him to see what he had done to this nice car.

So then I said, “Let’s call Daddy.” I do this from time to time when I need a second. When I’m not 100% sure what to say, especially when Jackson is present. It’s less, “Oh, dear baby Jesus I need Jerimiah to fix this,” and more, “I need to process this before I can move forward.” So I called, and he was busy, on a conference call with work people, so I told him the short version and he was also very calm and was all, “Just call the insurance and start a claim.” So that’s what I did.

Now mind you, at this point we had no idea who this car belonged to. Jackson didn’t recognize it, which means it was not one of his teachers’ cars, because he knows what every, single, one of them drive. He asks. Like the first time he meets them. Not in a creepy, stalker way, more in a, “Ouch, you drive a Ford Escape? Really? You know those score very low in the crash test ratings, right?” So, yeah, maybe in a creepy way.

Anyhoo, still here? Good. So I’m on hold with the insurance company, who also seems very chill. Everyone is very chill at this point, and I’m a little worried that we’ve all smoked like, a lot of weed, but no one told us. Like maybe they are pumping it through the air? But then it occurs to me, as we are watching every family come out of the school, trying to decide if they are walking toward us, that this car might belong to a real sonofabitch. You know the kind I’m talking about. A man or a woman, who doesn’t have time for my shit, for my kid’s story about how he was just trying to open the car wide enough to fit his trumpet case in the backseat. About how my car door is shaped weird, etc, etc. This makes me panic a little bit, and while I’m on hold waiting for a claims rep, I think for a split second that I could run. As soon as I thought it I was upset with myself, but still, no one had saw this happen. No one could pinpoint that it was us. In fact, the crack was hard to see in the tail light, it might be days or even weeks before the owner notices. Then again, I looked at Jackson. And you know, thought better of it. Parenting is a bitch sometimes, y’all.

So after I completely finish the claim, take pics of the car, Jackson and I look at each other and we just know. No one has come outside. It’s 4:30 by now, that can only mean one thing. It’s a teacher’s car. AHHHHHHH! So we make the slow, measured walk back inside and head to the front office. We tell them what happened and they say, “Oh no!” and they call for the owner of the white, BMW 330i to come to the office. Then a moment later Jackson’s teacher appears and I am actually like, “SONOFABITCH!” Turns out he was just leaving, but the more I considered I knew he would be the understanding sort, so I sort of wished it had been him, then out of the corner of my eye I see a sweet, small woman (think Miss Honey) appear in front of me. She looks sad, and a little tired, but she is definitely a first grade teacher, I can just tell, she hasn’t been beaten down by the big kids yet, she still gets a lot of hugs. She walks in, sees us, sighs and braces herself, as I thrust out my hand and ask her if she’s the BMW with the University of Florida tags. (There are a lot of BMWs in the teachers’ lot at Jackson’s school, I don’t know what the pay scale is here for teachers, but good on them!)

She says yes, and Jackson and I jump into a very apologetic story, reliving each detail shamefully, until the very end when I slide her a piece of paper with my name, number, and the claim number my insurance company gave me. She looks startled, and a bit shaken up, but she smiles and says, “You came in and told me? And you already filed a claim?” I gave her what I’m assuming was my, “Duh” face and she was all, “Thank you. Thank you for doing that. Some people wouldn’t have done that.” Then I got all sorts of fucking sad, because damn it, she’s right and damn it, that did cross my mind for a second, and damn it, I’m a horrible person too.

Then she proceeded to tell me that the car is a lease, because her last car was totaled from a HIT AND RUN! I shit you not. So then I felt 1,000,000 million times worse. That’s why she looked so defeated. That’s why she was so appreciative. Jackson and I looked at each other. We both fought the urge, at that moment, to hug her. He even told me in the car later that he thought he should have hugged her. We are huggers, okay. Mind yo bidness.

Damn it. We should have hugged her.

So, what did we learn? So much, really. I mean really. But the biggest take aways were that we have accident forgiveness with our insurance, that BMW parts are as expansive as you think they might be, and that we did what was right. My son saw me do what was right. It was an accident, after all. And people have accidents. That’s not negotiable. What is negotiable is how you react when an accident happens, what you say in a time of crisis. Especially in front of your kids.

So that’s that. That’s the time, last week, when Jackson slammed my car door into a BMW and we did the right thing. I wish I could say I always do and say the “right thing,” but I can’t. But I’m calling last Thursday’s accident a win. For us anyway, we still feel really bad about the damn tail light.

M.

It’s Not Friday

Me: (Standing at the glass window waiting for a fax from Volkswagen to arrive at the MVD, while Jerimiah stands ten feet away on the phone with the person supposedly sending the fax) It’s always busy here, huh?

MVD Clerk: Actually, it’s slow today. For a Friday.

Me: It’s Thursday.

MVD Clerk: (Cocks her head to the side, eyes to the ceiling, counting days in her head) Ohhhhh, giiiiiirrrrrllllllll. You’re right. It’s Thursday. (Inhales a very long breath) Mmmmmmmmmmm, Lord Jesus. I thought it was Friday.

Me: Hehehe, yep… (backing up a bit from the glass)

MVD Clerk: Mmmmmhmmmmm. (Leaning forward onto her desk, with a crazy smile on her face.) It sure is Thursday. Mmmmmnmmmmmm.

Me: (Trying to make eye contact with Jerimiah to see if he sees what I am seeing.) Hehehe…

MVD Clerk: (Tapping her nails on the counter.) I just WOKE UP thinking it was FRidAy! You know what I mean? (Voice is changing levels.) You ever do that? You do that, right?

Me: Uh huh! Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah, all the time. Haha, I think it’s Friday all the time. Hehehe… (motioning with head for him to come toward me.) I guess you have one more day, huh?

MVD Clerk: (Legs are jumping up and down now.) OOOOOOHHHHHHH, Lord! Yes! One MoRe DAAAYY! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Me: (Clutching at Jerimiah as he walks toward us.)

(MVD Supervisor walks over with a piece of paper and slides it onto the clerks desk.)

MVD Clerk: Okay! Whew! We bout to get you guys outa here. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

God bless the MVD Clerks.

I got Georgia tags.

It’s not Friday.

M.

The Power of Rain

It’s raining today. Big, round droplets. The relentless kind of rain that I never experienced before I lived in the south. Before television meteorologist said things like, “Coastal shift” or “Gulf stream.” It’s raining today and it’s going to keep raining. That oppressive kind of rain. The kind that makes you want to stay in bed all day with a good book, or a good tv show, or a good bedfellow.

I like the rain because it helps me feel like I’m not alone. When it’s raining I know I’m not the only one stuck indoors, unable, unwilling, to go on about my normal life. It eases my fears of missing out on anything. Not much happens in the rain.

I remember having this thought for the first time, in Mrs. Nixon’s third grade classroom. It was a warm, fall day in Kansas. The storms were lined up to put on a show. Black skies, lightening, it was the sort of day in Kansas where one occasionally glances out a window, stays close to the weather radio, sits, stiff necked, on the edge of their seat. There was a war raging, 7,500 miles away across the Atlantic. Operation Desert Storm. My sisters’ husbands were there. I hoped it was raining.

It’s funny what the rain recalls, and sometimes sad. But that’s the sort of power it has over us. And I think I’m finally at peace with that.

I hope you’re staying dry today.

M.

I’m a Georgia Voter

That’s something I never thought I would say. I have often admired the cute, little Georgia peach stickers when friends who live in Georgia voted and shared their picture online. But yesterday I actually got to cast my vote in the state of Georgia for the first time, and it felt kind of good. It felt like I was finally part of my community, like I had the power to make a difference here. There were only two question on my ballot, but I did have to do some research before I went to the polls, which is always important, and I got to take Jackson with me because his school is a polling place, so he was out for the day. It went something like this…

We arrived at the Methodist Church that was assigned to me when I registered to vote in the state back in April. It’s only about a mile from our house but we drove because it’s sorta cold down here, in fact yesterday morning it was a balmy 58 degrees. Whew! When we walked in, Jackson was a big hit with the women working the polls. And it was all women, by the way. Not just all women, but all retired, Black, women which made me very happy. It was 100% the first time I had ever encountered this at a polling place.

They were all very friendly and polite, and I told them all it was my first time voting in the state, so they walked me through the procedure as best they could, without helping me fill out anything (which is not allowed). First I had to fill out a form. This has never really happened to me before. I’m used to just casually strolling up to a table and telling them my name, then the old, cranky, white man finds my name on the registry list, puts a check by it, gives me a sticker, and a ballot and sends me on my way. This is how I have voted previously in Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina. But things are, umm, different here in Georgia, and now I finally get Stacey Abrams anger.

There were three tables. At the first table I had to fill out a paper that was basically just giving all my information that they already had, so I really wasn’t sure why, but me being me, and having Jackson there, and knowing these ladies were just doing their job, I didn’t question it. I just wrote my birthday, checked that I was a Democrat, wrote my address, and signed my name. Then I gave her the paper, thinking I was done. I was wrong. She then asked for my ID. I was a little surprised, but gave it to her. Then she checked my ID against what I had just written on the paper. I am not sure what would have happened if my ID had been old, or I had written something different on the form. Then she sent me to the second table.

At the second table they again asked for my ID, where one of the women proceeded to scan it into a computer. It apparently came back okay, because there I was given back my ID, along with a little yellow card that read: State of Georgia Voter Access card. Example below:

The card had a chip in it, and I was told to put the card in the machine. There was only one other woman voting at the time we were there, so if I needed further help, it would not have been a problem. But I kept thinking what the next election would look like. What it’s like when there is a line out the door and every machine is full, and people are having troubles with those machines, and cards, and writing the wrong address down, or maybe having trouble seeing the small writing on the half-sheet that I was given. I kept thinking about my mom, and how she would have a wicked-hard time with all of this, and how it would be confusing and hard to read.

So Jackson and I got to the machine and I stuck my yellow card in the slot, which activated my ballot, but first there were a series of windows that I had to click through telling me how the machine worked, and explaining these awkward, not at all intuitive, ways to fix my ballot, if I accidentally hit the wrong box or something like that. Seriously, y’all. I didn’t know how easy I had it in North Carolina, or Missouri, or Kansas. Jackson and I read the instructions and he was all, “this looks complicated” and let’s be real here, if my 11-year-old who lives and dies by technology, who has known how to work on an iPad since he was three, says “this looks complicated” then that is sort of a red flag, ya dig?

Okay so I hit NEXT, then NEXT again, then my ballot popped up. Only two decisions to make. One was a vote for a City Council Member and because I am fairly new here, and because it was a woman’s name and she was the incumbent, I voted for her. Also, she was the only one running, which always pisses me off a little bit. Jackson pointed to the “Write-in” and looked confused. I explained that you could write in anyone’s name if you didn’t want to vote for the person on the ballot. Then I told him if it had been a man’s name, I would have written in my own name instead. I don’t vote for men, as a rule, unless I have to. (Full Disclosure I did once vote for a man, when there was a Democratic woman on the ticket. It was the 2016 Democratic Primary, in which the names on my ballot were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and I voted for Bernie.)

Anywho, the next question was the one I had done some research on. Lots of trickery here in Georgia. Lots of trickery in the South, I have learned. Looking at you, North Carolina, and your “Snake.” So I knew whenever an “Ethics Board” question was on the ballot, and I had seen a lot of ads to “Vote YES on Ethics” that I probably wanted to vote “No.” And I was right. Trickery, y’all. Trickery.

So I voted no. Then I hit “Submit” and very quickly my screen changed and my yellow card spat out at me. I assumed that meant I was done. So we collected the card, and walked to the third and final table where they were taking our cards and passing out our coveted peach stickers. Of course Jackson got one too, and they were all very proud of him for accompanying me. One woman walking in said, “Well the voters are getting younger and younger,” and everyone laughed. But I mean, yeah, they are. #OurKidsAreGonnaChangeTheWorld

So that was that. My first experience voting in the state of Georgia. That’s what you asked about, right? I hope I made a difference. I hope I voted with intention. I hope I was educated and, made, to the best of my ability, the right decision. But above all else, I hope that my son saw what I was doing, how I made it a priority, and that he will do that his entire life as well.

So here’s to the next election, y’all! See you at the primary, where, well, you know me, I’ll be casting my vote once again, for Bernie! 🙂

M.

Surprise!

I love pulling surprises off. It’s so much fun. Unless it’s not a fun surprise, then oops, but that doesn’t happen very often. I like to be part of surprise parties, like my friend Susie’s 40th Birthday Yacht Cruise on Lake Norman, wherein another friend and I were tasked with taking her out for the day. She knew, obviously, she’s one smart cookie, but she didn’t know exactly what, so we played along. I like to surprise my husband with gifts, or real-life llamas, or sex! That second one is the most fun. But the two people I really like to surprise are my mom and my son. They are both great at reacting to surprises. Lots of laughing and giggling, lots of hugging and crying. Though I’m always afraid Jackson will be mad at me and not trust me anymore cause I’ve usually lied a little up until the surprise, and at 75-years-old, I’m always a little concerned my mom will stroke out. So there’s that.

The hush, hush, secret for the last two weeks is that Mama is coming to visit. Jackson has no idea. Mama, pronounced Ma-Ma, is my mom and she lives far away in Kansas. Sometimes we go see her—we have even managed to surprise her once by showing up on her birthday—and sometimes she comes to stay with us for a month or so at at time, and that’s what’s happening today.

I’m not sure how we have done it, but I know that he has no idea. This morning he asked me again, in a groggy sorta way, Can Daddy just take an Uber home, I don’t feel like driving to the airport tonight? This was after last night’s conversation about him wanting to have a play-date on Saturday. I told him we would probably do something fun as a family on Saturday and he got a little pissy, so yeah, he has no idea. But between me slipping one day about buying coffee for “when Mom comes” (he was oblivious), and my mom randomly texting her flight plans to me (with him sitting next to me) I was worried, but I think we have done it! (Side note: My son is Oblivious, with a capital “O” and I’m not sure if this is a boy thing, or if this is just a my son thing, but his obliviousness has actually served me well for all these 11 years and I kinda hope he stays that way, at the same time, I don’t want him to be the kinda guy who forgets his wedding anniversary, so I have concerns. I’m gonna wait it out though, see what happens.)

We arranged it so that my mom’s flight would come in an hour before Jerimiah’s flight. She would get off the plane and just sit down. She doesn’t like flying, partly because you know, we aren’t meant to fly, and partly because she isn’t comfortable walking around airports she doesn’t know. Lately, she’s been getting assistance from airport employees via a wheelchair or golf cart, but it’s still a lot for her, so we got her a non-stop from Kansas City to Atlanta. Now, if you’ve never been to the Atlanta airport, well then, count yourself lucky. It’s a hot-fucking mess. It’s huge. And the only way to leave the terminal, less walking miles and miles in the desert heat and the Montana cold, is to take the Sky Train. Ugh.

So, we told her to get off her plane, find the first seat she can find when she gets into the terminal and park it. Jerimiah arrives an hour later and will come find her and they will do the Sky Train together, because dear Lord Baby Jesus, we don’t want her doing it alone.

Meanwhile, Jackson has his yearly physical at 2:00 in a different part of Atlanta, which gives us just the right amount of time to see his doctor, grab some ice cream, and make it to the airport in time for them to be getting off the train. It really is all very convenient. Have I mentioned that I LOVE city living and could never go back to any other way?

So, you know what I know now. Not sure how he will react. I expect there to be some gasps, and some tears, and some very excited hugs. Then chances are he will forget all about wanting to have a playdate tomorrow cause his most favorite playdate will already be here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do that sort of cleaning you do before your mom gets to your house.

Have a fabulous day, babes!

M.

ATL Traffic

This might be an unpopular opinion, this might even anger some of you who have ever muttered, “Atlanta traffic is horrible,” but I got some truth coming atcha right now: It’s not the locals who cause the problems, it’s all y’all other people. Follow me please, but not too closely. I’ve been in the Atlanta-Metro area long enough to see some traffic patterns, which I think is the first important point. Before we moved here we had only spent a weekend in Atlanta, and most of the people who groaned when they heard we were moving here, and shook their heads and said, “Oh, the traffic!” have only ever spent maybe, I dunno, a week in the area. Most of them were just driving through. You really have to spend time in Atlanta to “get” the traffic patterns. You have to spend time and exercise patience, because Atlanta doesn’t need you to teach Atlanta how to drive, Atlanta gonna teach you how to drive.

Now before I go any further, I want to clarify something. I’m not saying there isn’t horrible traffic in Atlanta, or that it’s isn’t congested, or dangerous, or even scary at times, it is all of those things. In fact, in the INRIX 2017 Global Traffic Scoreboard Atlanta was ranked No. 8 in the race for world’s worst traffic, stuck in between London and Paris. Now mind you that is for traffic congestion only, but still, it’s not all roses, and I’m not claiming that it is. Atlanta is congested because it is populated, yes, but also because in order to get ANYWHERE in the Southeast United States, you pretty much have to travel through Atlanta. We are the convergence of many interstate highways, including our coveted/despised “Spaghetti Junction” named so because from the air it looks like someone took a bunch of spaghetti and dropped it on the ground. So yeah, we play a major role in getting to anywhere ’round here. We have: Interstates 20, 75, 85 and Georgia 400. I-285 forms a beltway around the city, but don’t even think about calling it a “beltway,” it’s colloquially knows as the “God-damned, piece of shit, Perimeter” and that’s how you know where something is. Is your doctor’s office, for instance, inside or outside the perimeter? If it’s inside, then it’s ITP (ITP! That’s for the Goldbergs fans), if it’s outside it’s OTP (OTP!). And also, if it’s inside, then bless your heart.

We also happen to be a hub for Delta, and a southern hub for Megabus, which provides service to Washington, D.C., New Orleans, New York City, Birmingham, Dallas, Nashville, and Indianapolis, among others. So yeah, people get here, and then they leave, but not before driving around a bit. And therein lies the problem.

I have noticed, from real-world Atlanta driving over the course of the last six months, that people who don’t live in Fulton Country, or Cobb County, or DeKalb County just make things worse. And I have boiled it down to three very distinct reasons. 1. They lack speed and 2. They lack confidence. 3. They are not observant.

The first one is self-explanatory. The 70 mph speed limit is more of a suggestion in Atlanta. In fact, if you are ever going less than 70 miles an hour, you are either on a Megabus, an out-of-towner, or in some type of congestion. That’s it. Otherwise you’re cruising along about 85 and slamming on your breaks when you need to. Case closed. Get new brake pads before you come.

The second one takes a bit more explaining. When I say confidence in driving I mean it in every sense of the word. You have to be confident about where you are going, but also confident that if you happen to get forced into an exit that you didn’t mean to take, you have to confidently take it and find an alternative route. Which is really easy because there are like 17 different ways to get to the same place here. Just keep driving and let your GPS reroute. Simple as that.

I also mean confident in your driving abilities and your decision-making. Look it, if you see that open spot in the lane next to you and you think, hmm, I should maybe, well should I get over, I mean my exit is in two miles and… too late! Someone already took your spot. See what I mean? Make the decision, then do it. Be confident. No need to stick a blinker on, just go fast into that spot, beat that Cadillac Escalade, don’t worry your VW has the power. Unless it doesn’t, then please rent a car that does before you get on the highway.

What happens, more often than not, is that tourists and passer-throughs, cause accidents and delays. They think, for example, that just because they are cruising along at 75 mph at mile marker 53, that they will still be cruising at that speed at mile marker 54, when in reality, no. You never go that fast for that long. There’s always a break check up ahead. Which leads me to No. 3.

Let’s say you’re still thinking about that open spot. No one has taken it yet, and you’re gathering up the courage, but still you’re driving along in the middle lane, minding your own business. You look over one more time and see that it is still open, so you decide to move. You put your blinker on to let the other drivers know you are coming over, then you start to go over, but oh no! You’ve taken too long and someone jumped over a moment before you did. Luckily, you were being observant and saw them. They didn’t indicate, so you had know way of knowing what was coming. See what I mean? What is wrong with these people? You think to yourself, as you try to get back to your original spot, but just then the hair on the back of your neck stands up and you see nothing but break lights ahead so you slam on your breaks, mid lane, which prevents you from both hitting the car in front of you, and being hit by the car behind you which had run up very fast to take your original spot. Good on your for being observant!

See, it doens’t take long to “get” Atlanta traffic, just a bit of trial and error, moving at a much higher rate of speed than you are comfortable with, having a sixth-sense about what other drivers might do, and not wasting time with actually thinking about your next move, just doing it!

Hmm, maybe Atlanta drivers are the problem…? Naaaaah!

Come on down, y’all, we’d love to have you! But maybe fly and we’ll just pick you up at the airport. About the airport… Nah, that’s another post.

M.

Representation Matters

I had a necessary and slightly concerning conversation with some other parents at Jackson’s school the other day that revolved around a picture that is on a website from the fundraiser that we are doing right now. This is the picture:

It’s cute, right? What sparked the conversation was one of the other mommies telling me she wished we would have made it to Midvale sooner because we have been such a blessing to them and Jackson is such a great kid. I thanked her and agreed. I told her this was the best elementary school we have ever been in, and that we have been in three of them.

The first one, I told them, was also great, on paper. It was not a Title One school, which is very important to some people. Like, very important. Like one of my old friends, upon asking why her daughter went to our kid’s school (at the time) when she lived just as close to another one, rolled her eyes at me and she said (in a voice just above a whisper, even though no one was around,) “That’s a Title One school,” and gave me a knowing smile. I didn’t have the heart, or maybe the nerve, to tell my “sweet” friend that I was raised in a Title One school. That I am a product of poverty. That I got free lunch. Of course, this is the same woman who said she wouldn’t send her dog to the Charter school that was in our town, even though she knows people who work there, kids who go to school there. And I’m guessing I know some of her reasoning. PS… She’s a teacher. #EekFace

Our kids at that time, my son and her daughter, were in kindergarten together in a school that was, in the state of North Carolina, an A-rated school, sometimes an A+. The problem wasn’t so much that it had a 3% free or reduced lunch population (which we were a part of, unbeknownst to my friend I’m sure), it wasn’t even that I could count the number of “diverse kids” as she referred to them, it was that the school itself didn’t reflect real life. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the school. I met some amazing people there. Of course I also met some people who turned out to be some real assholes, but most of them were pretty cool. And I’m still friends with some of them. And I still think they are doing what is best for their kids, given where they live.

Let me quickly address the free lunch thing, since I sorta just snuck that in on you. We were on the free or reduced lunch program in kindergarten because at the time that school started we had just moved to NC, and Jerimiah didn’t have a job yet. We were still living off our savings while he looked for work, so the school district automatically qualified us for the program, and we took advantage of it for a few months, until Jerimiah found a great job, and Jackson started to bring his own lunch to school. But still, it impacted the “numbers” for the school, and still the people who were privy to this probably looked at us differently. Most likely. This may be shocking to some of you who knew us back then, especially because people always assumed that we moved to NC because of work. But no. We moved to NC to find better work. We knew we couldn’t stay in Southern Missouri. We also didn’t know that the town we were moving into was basically more of the same, just with more money. I never told people that because I was ashamed of it. But truth be told, we were kinda bad-ass for doing it. For selling off most of our things, for taking a BIG chance. And we have been reaping the rewards ever since. But, again, that sorta behavior scares people. And you can’t make friends easily with that origin story.

Again the school we were at for kindergarten through half of third grade was great. The real problem was just that 90% of the kids were little white kids with the same socio-economic status. And as some of you might know, some of you who have left your bubble, moved away from the places you were born and raised (unlike my sweet friend mentioned above) this is not reflective of real life. As I told this story to my new friends one of them actually gasped, a white woman, and said that was her worst nightmare for her kid. To go to school with people who looked just like her. I agreed. Explained that it was a driving force for us to move into “the city” and enroll Jackson into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, even with its many problems, it was much more reflective of real life. Then I brought up this picture.

Again, it’s cute. But, after what I just said, can you see the problem? You might hear a lot of people talk about representation nowadays. And if you are white, you may not pay much mind to that talk, well because, you are represented. Everywhere. But this pic concerned me in a lot of ways.

First off, this is the pic that all the kids and parents see when they first log into the site. So if you are a little Black girl (which we have a lot of at our school) then you see a scene that is not reflective of your life. If you are an Asian boy (which we have a lot of at our school) you are not seeing yourself represented very well either. And so on and so forth.

This might be a good time to add that the county that we live in, DeKalb County, Georgia, is the second most affluent county IN THE COUNTRY, with a predominantly Black population. Let me break that down for you. Most of the money, coming in and out of our county, is from affluent Black families. We are minorities here. Jackson is a minority in his school. Both in sex and race. This is our life. Our community. And it is good. Really good.

Back to the picture. Did you notice all the white kids are on one side, while all the “other” kids are on the other side. See that? See the token Black girl? And the Asian boy? See the two kids that could “pass” for Latino? It’s a bit odd. And maybe I’m reading too far into it, one tends to do that when they have been enlightened to white privilege, but I don’t think so. I also don’t think, or want to believe, that the company did this on purpose. I think it was more of an, Oh shit, we need some “diverse” kids in this pic too! And then they hurried up and made sure they had “one of each.” That’s how I think it went down. Either way. Bleh.

I think I’m just noticing things like this more because I am more aware of the world that we live in. The world advertisers create. The world the white-males make for us, and I’m starting to call a spade a spade, if you will. Like my sweet old friend, who still has others fooled, but I’ve seen her true side. Her “Christian” side, and it ain’t pretty. But more about her in another post.

So that’s what’s been kicking around in my noggin today. Representation. The importance of being around people who do not act like or look like or live like you. The importance of cutting through bullshit and getting down to the nuts and bolts of what needs to be said. So here I am, saying it. Like always.

This weekend, try to step out of your comfort zone a little bit. Eat at a new place, try a new store on the “other” side of town. Start a conversation with that one Black man that lives in your town. I dunno. Try something. Be present. Show up for others. You won’t regret it.

M.