Ghost Light

We are novice theatergoers. In fact, aside from supporting our friends in high school by dropping in on the plays they were in, we didn’t go to another play until Jackson was in kindergarten. Since then, and with the help of some friends, we have had the pleasure of not just watching plays and musicals, but actually being part of a school production of The Wiz Jr. Wherein Jerimiah helped out with the stage, I helped with costumes, and Jackson played both a flying monkey and a crow. Here, have a gander.

We’ve also seen countless plays, Jackson has taken theater classes at the wonderful ImagineOn School of Theater Training in Charlotte, and Jerimiah and I have seen both Kinky Boots (starring Wayne Brady) and The Play That Goes Wrong, on Broadway. Then a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves, along with Jackson, once again in NYC and we were lucky enough to be able to take him to his first Broadway show. It was fun and it was exciting, as many of you probably know, you never forget your first Broadway show! And what better show for him to see than The Lion King! You can read more about his experience in the link above.

He loved the show, was mesmerized by the cast, the puppets, the music, it all added up to a night of wonderful memories which we got to share with some of our best friends. But the coolest part, in my opinion, was the behind the scenes tour that we had after the show. Apparently a behind the scenes tour on Broadway isn’t as easy to get as at your local playhouse. In fact, you sort of have to know someone, who knows someone. Turns out we did. And we got to walk the wings of the legendary Minskoff Theater located at 1515 Broadway.

The Minskoff Theater is a 1,600 seat theater, much bigger than any other Broadway theater we’ve been in, in the heart of Midtown. It opened in 1973, with a revival of Irene starring Debbie Reynolds. Since then it has been home to Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue; Hello Dolly!, Cabaret, Sunset Boulevard, Fiddler on the Roof, and it was once home to the Miss Universe Pageant. But in 2006 The Lion King set up shop there, and it’s been home to it ever since.

Because we are novice theatergoers, as mentioned before, we learned quite a bit about the backstage area while we were on the tour. We learned, for example, the very real, very scary ways the props made it to the stage. If you have ever seen The Lion King you know there must be some feat of strength to get this done. Bertha, the giant elephant from the opening act, hangs from the rafters, for instance. Which both amazed and terrified me. We saw the boards on each side of the stage where notable celebrities and politicians sign there names when they’ve had their own private tour, and we even got to sneak into the pit below the stage, which is small and claustrophobic for a person like me, filled to the brim with what can only be hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars worth of musical equipment. But the story that stuck with me the most, was the story of the ghost light. If you’re a drama person, or a regular theatergoer, you probably already know the story, but this was new to me so I will share with you just in case.

As we were finishing up our tour the crew was running around shutting down lights, cleaning up the theater, putting all the props away, etc. And at one point when we were standing on the stage, just after Jackson did his “Simba” thing with his toy Simba (pic below) the lights shut off. “I guess we are done,” our tour guide said, and we made our way downstairs with him to grab his coat. But as we were leaving the stage I noticed one single light still on. I made a quizzical look and our friends said, “It’s the ghost light.”

The Ghost Light is a single, incandescent bulb left on the stage overnight to give a bit of light to the people still in the theater, mainly so they don’t fall into the open pit below the stage. But it gets its name because it’s believed that every theater has a ghost that haunts it. And the ghost can be destructive if you don’t appease it. Some theaters use the ghost light to allow the ghost to perform at night, so they don’t wreck havoc on the production. Others leave it on to scare away the ghosts, because after all, we know ghosts like the pitch black of night. I don’t know the particular reason the ghost light comes on in The Minskoff, aside from it being mandated by the Actors’ Equity Association, but I suspect it’s for ghostly reasons.

At the end of the night we took the subway back to our hotel and had milkshakes just after one a.m. at the Tick Tock Diner. Stood on our terrace at our New Yorker suite in the rain, and watched the Empire State Building change colors. I wondered about the Minskoff ghost and hoped it was getting all the stage time it needed.

M.

East Greenwich and The Providence Athenæum

If you’re like me, you prefer the Cheeto Puffs over the crunchies. And if you’re also like me, you adore a good library. We have a lot in common, huh? If you adore a good library, then you’re gonna want to run up to Providence, Rhode Island and spend an afternoon at The Providence Athenæum. It will fill your heart with gladness, take away all your sadness, ease your troubles, that’s what’ll do. It will, in fact, Rod Stewart your ass.

The Providence Athenæum is mere steps from the entrance to Brown University, with such notable alumni as, John D. Rockefeller Jr., a slew of Kennedys, Jeffrey Eugenides (please read Middlesex), Ted Turner, Horace Mann, and most importantly in our house, the reason the picture below was taken, Emma Watson AND John Krasinski.

But The Providence Athenæum is its own kind of wonderful. Our Rhode Island friends wanted to visit since they moved there over the summer, but they were waiting on the right people to visit with. Insert the Goodnights. (Heart swooning noises). The day we visited was a hectic day. Our first day in Rhode Island, and we had a lot to see. We’d had breakfast in their wonderful village of East Greenwich, in a diner inside of an old train car. The diner was called Jiggers and I had the delicious Rhode Island Johnny Cakes!

Then we walked around East Greenwich for a bit. We got to see the old Debters Prison and too many yachts and sailboats to count. We learned that there are two parts of East Greenwich. One side called The Hill and one side called The Harbor and where you live is how you know where you belong. It seemed to me that you either have a million dollar house on The Hill or an $800,000 on The Harbor, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that. And don’t worry, our friends live on The Harbor, which means they are riff-raff and not to be trusted. I think.

Essentially what I learned is that Rhode Island is a different beast. A nicer, more beautiful beast than anywhere else I’ve ever been. All that history. All the salt in the air. All the hills, all the harbors. I was more than impressed. Then they took us to The Providence Athenæum.

Listen, I’ve been in some cool libraries. I’ve been to the Boston Public Library. I’ve been in the reading room of the NYC Library (pic below) not to mention all the other cool, lesser known ones around the country (I like to stop at libraries, okay, geez leave me alone.) But The Providence Athenæum is now my favorite.

It’s not the size, although it is a perfect size. Small enough to fit in a quarter of a square block, but big enough (three floors), and with enough of an impressive collection to spend a whole day. It’s the accessibility, the welcoming nature of the place. Oh, and dogs are allowed, so there’s that. Before I get into the history of the place, here’s some a lot of pics for your viewing pleasure.

Okay, so why is The Providence Athenæum so freaking awesome? Great question! The history of the library goes like this. In 1753, Providence had a library called the Providence Library Company. They also had a second library, not connected to the Providence Library Company, called Providence Athenæum. They didn’t like each other, go figure (they were both managed by men, so…) In 1836 they agreed to dissolve both libraries and merge together as one, which is now known as The Providence Athenæum. They ended up merging their collections, which was a great idea, and by 1850 they were the library in Providence.

In 1872 the library hired its first female employee, an assistant librarian named Mary Angell, and she started work on the card catalog that still sits on the main floor! After Mary left the library, Grace Leonard, the library’s first female head librarian (who worked there for 46 years) reclassified the whole catalog in accordance with the Dewey decimal system. With over 56,000 volumes, it took her 13 years. More can be found about the history and these women at The Ath’s website.

The Ath, its colloquial name, has hosted many prominent writers, artists, and thinkers in American history, including Edgar Allen Poe and his lost love, Sarah Helen Whitman, an amazing poet in her own right. In fact, Whitman broke up with Poe at The Ath and it’s said that Poe haunts the top floor. I was on the lookout, but didn’t see him. Maybe next time! Others who have lingered the stacks include, H.P Lovecraft, Thomas Hopkins Webb, and Francis Whipple, among other “scribbling women” according to Nathaniel Hawthorne. I found a wonderful article by Jane Lancaster on the colorful history of The Ath if you are as interested as I am.

So there you have it, some of it anyway. The history, the mystic, the lovely architecture, and the amazing collection of The Ath, which is just a hop, skip, and jump from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, so if you ever find yourself on Federal Hill, maybe yonder over and check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

M.

Bloggedy, Blog, Blog, Blah

I didn’t set a New Year’s resolution. I didn’t set one because I’m capable of shaming myself much better than praising myself. If I set a resolution, and it falls apart in mid-March, then I fall apart in mid-March. And I have a hell of a time getting myself put back together. I’m like Humpty, ya dig? I’m really funny looking, but I things cooking (insert music notes). So sorry. Essentially I’m saving a lot of strife by not setting myself up to fail, which is what would inevitably happen. Because I know me. The other reason I didn’t feel called to set a resolution is because there wasn’t anything eating away at me to change. 2019, for all the ups and downs it gave me, was actually a pretty good year. And I see no reason for 2020 to be any different, which means I can still work on myself and all the things I was working on before, and hopefully just get better at this new routine.

But I did feel compelled to do some digging and look at portions of my life that could use a little more energy, and I came up with two areas: My weight, which you all know is a constant, life-long struggle of mine, and my writing, which I can say the same about. My weight has its own things to work out, and I am working on it. Always working on it. But my writing, well that is something that can wax and wane, and I had noticed there were very large waning spots over the last few years.

Let’s take this blog for instance. I started it back in 2016. Between 2016 and 2017 I made 20 posts. In 2018 I decided to try a bit harder and I wrote 250 posts! Whew, that escalated quickly. So my inclination was to say that I could write every day this year. Or maybe not everyday, but make at least 365 posts. Then I realized how crazy that sounded and I reeled it back, promising instead to just beat my year’s number. Then I realized I might be selling myself short. Orchestrating smallness. So I said, “No, no, Missy, stick to the plan. 365 posts.” Then I got a good night’s sleep and woke up in sweaty thoughts, “What the actual hell, Missy! You can’t write every, single, day. That’s madness.” Then I wrote every, single day for the first two weeks of the year and now I’m back to maybe I could do 365. Do you see why I never get anything accomplished?

Here is my point, in as much as I have one, commitment is cool or whatever. Setting a resolution to do something is nice, but commitment without intent isn’t going to get me very far. I can be totally committed to writing on this here bloggedy, blog, blog, but if I don’t actually intend to do it, set aside time each day, think up wonderful things to write about, spend some time actually thinking about things, then actually writing them down, I will sputter out. Blah, blah, blah.

You get me? I think you do. Maybe in a very abstract, very “I’m hangin on by a thread here, Missy” way, but you get me. And that’s what I love about you.

Go forth and dismantle resolutions. Or create them. Or accomplish them. Or whatever makes you work, and be happy, and creative. I support you any which way.

M.

Newport News

Keeping with the theme of Rhode Island this week, I wanted to share some more of our pictures from our trip up North today. Of course, by “up North” I mean a million different places in the span of eight days, but if we break it up into little chunks it’s easier to digest. Kinda like how I used to get Jackson to eat his green beans. You don’t want to over-mash them, but you also don’t want to slop a handful of full beans on his high chair tray, you know. No slopping.

Anywho, this week I will tell you a little bit about our time in Providence and East Greenwich, but today my focus is Beavertail State Park and Newport. Or sunsets and mansions, as you’ll come to see. We’d never been to Newport before because well, we’d never been to Rhode Island before. You see, if you go to Rhode Island, you can absolutely hit all the hot spots in one day. How do I know? Because we did.

Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a small state. In fact, it is the smallest US state by area, yet the second most densely populated. It was among the first Thirteen Colonies, and fourth to have ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1778. It was also the first colony to prohibit slavery (1652), as well as the first colony to declare independence from Britain on May 4, 1776. This is to say that there is a lot of history in Rhode Island, and in my opinion their history is overlooked, more often in favor of the connecting states of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Rhode Island is nicknamed “The Ocean State” probably because of its over 400 miles of beautiful and bountiful coastline. And though the lobster pots are abundant, the views were the winner in my book. Here, take a look at the sunset at Beavertail State Park and Lighthouse in Jamestown.

No idea where the kids were, but absolutely stunning views amiright?! And that is just the sunset. We also had a little bit of time to see The Breakers (though the tour was behind, so we didn’t go inside). The Breakers is a Vanderbilt Mansion nestled on Ochre Point Avenue in Newport, butting up against the beautiful campus of Salve Regina University, which funnily enough offers an MFA program. Hmm… Anyway, The Breakers was originally built as a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II between 1835 and 1837. And it was quickly decided that I should have been born a Vanderbilt. Duh. Although we didn’t take the tour (something to do next time), we did get to walk the grounds and the area along the coast called The Cliff Walk, which is actually a 3.5 mile public walkway that borders the shoreline and gives you exquisite views of The Breakers and other mansions that I should probably live in. Here, have a gander.

A nice drive through the streets of Newport, led to some interesting stories, some fantastic spots to visit when it’s more than 40 degrees outside, and history that I wasn’t expecting. Not only were JFK and Jackie O. married there, but Newport boasts the very first tavern and Quaker neighborhoods with quaint houses, just enough to remind you that not everyone there was a millionaire. Oh and just for posterity, here are some cool shots from our ride to Beavertail from Newport, with the Claiborne Pell/Newport Bridge behind us.

We ended the night back near where we started, in East Greenwich, at a little joint called The Shanty, where I had the best pork medallions ever (I stole them off Dave’s plate) and my first clams. Yummy!

So do you want to visit Rhode Island yet?! Sure you do! Just get yourself your own Little Rhody’s cause you can’t have ours!

M.

Harry Motherfucking Potter

Harry Motherfucking Potter (not it’s official title) was a little after my time. In fact, I remember being forced to read the first book in a children’s lit class my freshman year and I wanted to bang my head against the wall. This was way back, back when I read the whole text that was assigned to me. I was 18, I was pissy, I was usually high from weed, and I was a little emo. I thought Harry Motherfucking Potter was the dumbest shit ever. Then, in January of 2018 we decided as a family to read the whole series (which was gaining traction in Jackson’s world at that time, damn fourth graders and their HP obsessions) and now here we are, two years later and last night we started the last book and you guys, the series has been a fucking DELIGHT! I love Harry Motherfucking Potter, and I’m not ashamed to say it anymore.

If you have never read it before, and plan on it, I suggest you stop here because I am about to spoiler alert the shit out of you, okay? Okay, stop reading, go on about your day. Visit your local library to grab a copy. Or better yet, run over to your friendly, local bookstore and purchase your ass the first four books that have been illustrated (they are only up to the first four) because they are amazing, here is a pic of them for reference:

No, here comes a BIG spoiler. Go on now, GIT!

The week of Christmas we were finishing up The Half-Blood Prince (my favorite so far) and Jackson had two complete meltdowns. Two of them, y’all. Melt. Downs. Like needing to excuse himself, go hide in his room, and cry for hours. The first one was when Harry got Slughorn and Hagrid all drunked up after Aragog’s funeral, in order to get Slughorn’s horcrux memory. At first I could not figure out for the life of me what that was about. Like why was he so upset about it. Later on I realized that he saw what Harry did as a betrayal and that he had not seen Harry as that kind of person before. Listen, I had. I know Harry and his stupid tricks (he’s not my favorite character, Hermione is obvi) and this did not surprise me in the slightest. But Jackson, his big-hearted, honest nature, was not okay after this whole scene. The lying, the sneaking, the Felix Felicis, it all added up to turmoil for him. But that wasn’t the worst.

Last spoiler warning, be gone!

The worst night was the night before we left for vacation. The second to last chapter. Dumbledore’s death. Sigh. Listen, it shook me too. But I had a sense it was coming because you know, reader, writer, purveyor of tricks of the trade, but Jackson was shocked! Absolutely, terrified at how it all went down and he lost his shit, as any good reader of the series should have. He excused himself, and sobbed into his pillow. We checked on him several times, tried to comfort him. But honestly this was his first beloved character death and we knew he needed to process it. So when he finally asked to be left alone, to have his door closed (something we never usually allow because of my anxiety and need to hear him breathing at night) we slowly crept out and closed his door behind us. At some point he fell asleep.

The next day we asked if he wanted to finish the last chapter, which included the beloved professor’s funeral and he said no. He said he couldn’t do it right now, and it took us two more weeks to finish the book.

What’s funny to me, is that through the whole process of grieving Dumbledore, he kept saying, “I’m so dumb. This is so dumb. It’s a book!” I’m not sure why he thought that. If someone said that to him. If he just innately thought this was something that you don’t do, but I assured him that this is something that happens. We invest. We’ve been with Professor Dumbledore for two years now. He’s been the topic of many conversations. He was a great wizard, and an even better friend and confidant to Harry, and well, this happens when a book, a series like Harry Motherfucking Potter, gets you under its spell. We told him he shouldn’t feel ashamed. He should feel happy that he found a series that he loved that much.

This is all to say that this has been a fun, agonizing couple of years for us. And I hope that Jackson has learned many lessons from this series, but more importantly I hope he remembers how it made him feel. I hope he remembers grieving over the great professor. I hope he remembers how triumphant he felt each time Harry battled, and beat Voldemort. I hope he takes with him the friendships between the characters, strives to live a life as noble as Ron or study as hard as Hermione, or yes, even possess the confidence and shear stupidity, at times, of Harry. Because this series is about so much more than a little magic wand, and I’m so happy Jerimiah and I shared this experience with him.

We started the last book last night, and the normal sense of urgency wasn’t there. I think we all want this one to linger a little longer. I sure hope it does.

M.

Is This Really 5th Grade?

Jackson has been carrying a notecard in his back pocket all week with his phone number written on it. It’s for a girl. Her name is Molly and she’s in his class. She got a phone for Christmas and he overheard her giving her number out to a boy on the playground. Landon. Oh, Landon. You know Landon. He’s loud and obnoxious. He carries on with nonsense like untied shoelaces and poking dead animals with sticks. Jackson is not impressed. But Molly, he suspects, has fallen under Landon’s grip. Molly and Landon, he’s heard around the playground, are a couple. So although Jackson is in Molly’s classroom cluster, and a teammate on his robotics team, and a girl he would consider a “friend” first and foremost, he’s afraid to give his phone number to her because he doesn’t want to “rock” the proverbial pre-teen dating boat. Is this really fifth grade?

On Monday he wanted to ask her for her number, since she appeared to be readily passing it out. And he was prepared to, until he wasn’t. Until his nerves got the better of him. Until he heard the “girl drama” on the playground. Saw Landon doing high-kicks over the seat of the swing. He let himself get intimated. All worked up.

On Tuesday it was decided he would suggest that he give Molly his number, that way if she ever wanted to text, or link up to play Minecraft online, she had it in her phone. But when the time came, he backed away slowly from her desk, saying something about a dropped pencil. Le sigh.

On Wednesday he met me nervously at the front door of the school and flashed me digits on the notecard. I smiled and asked if he worked up the nerve to ask Molly for her number. No, he mumbled, racing me to the sidewalk, that was his number he wrote down to pass it to her, but he had chickened out again. Close, but no cigar.

By Thursday he had devised a plan. Molly is in charge of the morning announcements. So while she was in the office each morning, he had about five precious minutes to slide his notecard onto her desk. He added a diagonal arrow to the nameless notecard, to indicate that it was from him. He sits diagonally from her. Smooth.

On Thursday afternoon he came bounding out of the building and ran at me while I was talking to a friend. She’s the mom of another girl in Jackson’s class, so he stopped just short of us. We both turned and looked at him and he said, “Hi. Mommy I need to talk to you.” We excused ourselves and started down the sidewalk when he said, “Operation Molly was a success.” I told him congrats and asked what happened.

Turns out he was too scared to give it to her face to face, so he waited until the walkers had been called to line up upstairs. She happened to be away from her desk getting her book bag, so he placed a folded up note on her desk as he walked by. The note said, “Hey, it’s Jackson G. I heard you got a phone for Christmas, and I wanted to give you my number in case you ever want to text or anything.” As he walked out the door he looked back to make sure she had the note, and she was reading it, so he ran upstairs.

And just like that, girls are a thing now.

Great.

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.

I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't

We love the Home Alone movies. Specifically the first and second. The third one was way off brand and Jerimiah and I cringe thinking about it, but Jackson loves all of them. So every year we watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on back-to-back nights, to fully appreciate all the fun, little nuances of the very cheesy movies from our own childhood. This year Jackson was a bit different because for the first time Jackson spent a lot of the movie asking questions like, “What ever happened to Macaulay Culkin?” and “Was Donald Trump a movie star before he was the President?” which were downers, he also took enjoyment in saying things like, “You know, if this were real life, Marv would totally die in this scene.” Shit, y’all, he’s his dad’s son for sure.

Among some of the conversations that the movies sparked this year was the question of the movies within the movies, Angels with Filthy Souls and Angels with Even Filthier Souls, which are really just a fucking delight, y’all, and I will fight you over that. Anyhoo, Jackson wanted to know if they were real, and he also wanted to know what a Tommy Gun was, which sparked the most interesting, most off the wall, most awkward of all Christmas conversations because, you guys, what actually is a Tommy Gun?

I mean I knew what they were, of course. I knew they were machine guns, and that they had round barrels, but I wondered, and so did Jackson, did they still make them? Why were they a thing? I assumed it had something to do with prohibition, which was right in the sense that a lot of mobsters during that time used them. That led to even better question, “Why did they outlaw alcohol, but not Tommy Guns?” Also, “Why are machine guns still allowed to people who have not been trained to use them?” Also, “Can I have an AK-47 when I turn 18?” Holy shit, yeah. No. No, I mean. Yes, he asked that. No, is the answer. Unless of course he lives in one of the states that currently allows 18 year olds to buy an AK-47, and trust there are several of them. Uh oh, I’m about to get all sorts of off track. Beware.

Listen, I don’t want to put a damper on the holidays for y’all, but this got me thinking. Which got me talking to Jerimiah, and got him Googling and the shit he found was alarming. No, they don’t make Tommy Guns anymore, which were invented by a man named John T. Thompson in 1918 for military use, specifically trench warfare. It started to get picked up by civilians for use during prohibition, and was used exclusively in WWII as well. It was used by the military until the 70s, then better guns came around, but Thompson was not a happy dude when he realized how dangerous his guns could be in the wrong hands. Neither was the government, so in 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which required anyone selling a submachine gun to register with the ATF. The NFA is still in use today, though as we can see, it is sorely antiquated and needs some more common sense laws attached to it. I mean, come on, man. Come the fuck on.

Here’s the other thing, Tommy Guns halted production and had a law made about them because of their shear power. Tommy Guns held 30-or 50-round magazines in their drum and could potentially shoot between 600 and 725 rounds per minute and the government deemed that a problem. In comparison, an AK-47 can hold 30 rounds and has the potential to fire 600 rounds per minute, while the AR-15 tops out around 45 rounds per minute. And guess what, I could drive my happy-ass over state lines today and come back in less than an hour with an AK-47. No mental health checks. No criminal history checks. No nothing. Of course this is a state-by-state ruling and Florida is fucking cray, we already know that, but come on, common sense gun laws anyone? In some of these states an 18-year-old can buy a semi-automatic in less than an hour, but when a woman wants to have an abortion she has to wait six weeks, see a physician and a mental health professional, and potentially hear the embryo’s heartbeat. And don’t even say some shit like, “Apples to oranges, Missy.” Nah, dog. Nah.

Here’s something fun. We have a nephew who is in the military. He was signed, sealed, and deliver to the Army by the time he was 17. At 18-years-old he was prepping for his first deployment, and when he drove back home to the midwest to see family before he left he was not allowed, by law, to have with him his 9mm pistol, which he carries on long road trips alone. He could have, however, an AK-47 if he wanted one. Or any kind of rifle, shotgun, you name it. So a young man, trained in tactical warfare, is not allowed to carry a 9mm, but sure he can load up his Jeep with hundreds of AK-47s if that’s what he wants to do. What the actually fuck, y’all? When you hear the phrase, “Common Sense Gun Laws” that is some of the shit we are talking about.

Whew. I flew off track didn’t I? I said that was gonna happen, huh? Yeah, it’s Christmastime and y’all don’t want to be learning about gun safety, I know, I know, but my son has a Red Ryder BB gun, and he just started playing Call of Duty with his daddy and this is some real shit we have to talk about, and you should all probably consider too. And yeah, give some thought to that whole waiting for an abortion, but no need to wait to buy a gun thing. I mean, an 18-year-old girl, pregnant and alone, could potentially kill herself and her unborn embryo in one shot, and the conservatives are apparently totes fine with that, because you know, that’s her right to gun ownership.

Whew. Okay. Whew.

So yeah, uhh, the Home Alone movies. Haha. They are funny. So. Funny.

Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals. And a Happy New Year.

M.

Coffee and Wine

Twice in the last month someone has told me that they have a hard time appreciating certain traits about me. In the first instance, someone told me that my kindness makes them feel awkward. In the second, someone told me that my openness, my honesty, makes them uncomfortable. As soon as I was told these things, both times, I did the very Missy thing of telling myself that I was dumb. That I am just too much for people, and that I need to reel it back in. I convinced myself that these people did not like me. Even so, I decided to stop doing what made them uncomfortable. I would not be generous with my time and resources, I would not be open and honest anymore. Fine, Universe, I get it! That lasted about two days.

Look it. I spent three years of my adult life, like recently y’all, in the past five years, trying to “fit in,” to belong, to a group of people. I went so far as to get manicures and pedicures once a month, highlight my hair, host party after party at my house, pretend to like shit that, hand to whateverGod, I just don’t like. All because I thought if I act this way, if I shield myself from my truths, if I pretend to like these things, then maybe I will have friends. And maybe I will belong to something bigger than myself. It’s like I have never even read a damn Brene Brown book, y’all. I lost all sense of myself in a sad, half-assed attempt to be accepted. That backfired, as it should have, but here I am, a couple years later trying to piece myself back together with whatever I have lying around while you guys watch. It’s mainly wine. The stuff I have lying around. It’s wine.

Here it is: I am open and honest. I hate small talk, which means when we sit down for coffee I want to know what is bothering you. What is making you happy right now. I want to know if you sex like is good, if your children are giving you shit, if your mother is as crazy as mine. I don’t care how you feel about the change in seasons, or whether the Christmas parade had too much fake snow. I want to know about you. About your past, present, and future. What are you goals? Where did you grow up? Do you go back and visit, does that place define you, do you want some wine? These are the things I am curious about, and I will tell you all of this about me, no need to ask.

I go out of my way to make others have a better day. Strangers even! Smiling and compliments go a long way. I want to do it. It makes me happy to make other people happy. To smile. To laugh. To help them sort out something that needs sorting out. Emotions. Heartaches. Trauma. That tub of old Christmas decorations, I don’t care. I will help you if you need it. It’s a part of who I am. But people are suspicious. Y’all are so damn suspicious. But I get it. It’s harder and harder to find people in this world who will drop everything they are doing to come help you paint that room you need painted, in exchange for adult conversation. But I’m here! Right here! Just give me a ring. And, you guessed it, some coffee or wine.

I really, really, really feel like that is something we are missing today. I really feel like we are missing real connections. And I think more people are open to this realness than we give them, or ourselves, credit for. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I think we crave this connection. It’s just that we are so damn scared to take the leap because we don’t want to look cookoo-bananas in front of people we barely know, or people who love us, or admire us. Our friends, our neighbors, our family. We want to be that person we always are. That solid, strong, stable person. It just isn’t feasible. And honestly, I won’t stand for it anymore.

Those two people who told me that I make them uncomfortable, they don’t hate me. In fact, I think they like me. I think they like me as I am, and I think they just felt called to be open and honest with me because I put out that vibe. Maybe that person who told me that my openness was making them uncomfortable didn’t realize it, but by telling me how they felt at that moment, they were being open. And I do put out the vibe of wanting the realness. But honestly, when someone gives it to me I freak out. Ha. Yeah, that seems about right. But I will work on not freaking the fuck out anymore when you bring the realness, if you promise to bring the damn realness. And no, I don’t mind listening to you talk about the weather for a few minutes as part of a warm-up. I might even nod my head and say, “Sure, sure, all this rain,” but just know that I’m searching your eyes for the first opportunity to dig in, and I’ve already got the coffee brewing and the wine uncorked.

Let’s try to be more real with each other, y’all. More open. More honest. Kind. Generous. And if that isn’t your thing, then I understand. We just aren’t meant to be, and that’s okay too. There are a lot of people out there who want to talk about the weather, it just isn’t me. ❤

M.

East Middle School

I’ve been staring at this picture for a long time now. Months, actually. For months this picture has been on my desktop. I found it while I was researching historical buildings in my hometown (don’t ask), and I snatched it up because this building doesn’t exist anymore. It’s gone. Bulldozed. It’s just an empty lot there now and whenever I am back in Kansas I pass it, and a million memories come flooding back from that piece of land on the corner of 4th and Chestnut. Some of the memories are not even my own. They belong to my older sisters, friends, people who went to school in this building eons before I ever stepped foot in it.

The building was East Middle School when I was there in the mid-90s, but before that it was East Junior High, and before that it was Leavenworth Senior High, the first public high school in Leavenworth. And the more I look at it this picture, the more it conjures up, and the more sad I become. This was one heck of a school. Sure there was a tornado tunnel in the basement. And sure ceiling tiles routinely fell on us when we were in gym class. And even sure, sure, there were rats, but man, oh man, this school meant a lot to me. It meant a lot to a lot of people, and now it’s just gone.

I’m not sad of course to see the building gone. It was time for upgrades that the city couldn’t afford. So the church next door bought it, and even they couldn’t afford the upgrades, so eventually it was bulldozed. I’m sad in the way you get sad when you attach memories, deep, nostalgic, childhood memories to a place. A building. A room. A town. And then that place leaves. Or maybe you leave. And it feels like a betrayal. Even though I left this school, this community, this town, this state twenty years ago, I still feel betrayed, and also guilt, because betrayal is only one part of this mixed bag.

There was another empty field a block from where this one is now. It was owned by East Middle School and it was a regular part of our day to walk to the field for kickball games, or gym class, or games of baseball after school if you could scrounge up enough kids. But where this school was located, right in the heart of Leavenworth, across from City Hall, a couple of blocks from “Downtown,” across from the unemployment office, and next to the only pay-what-you-can walk in clinic in town, well, it wasn’t exactly what you would call a safe area. In fact, many times on the walk to our field, we would pass people smoking out of balconies, yelling things down to us. Our gym coach would tell us to ignore them. She’d tell all 30 or so of us middle school girls to walk in pairs, to ignore the looks from the old men shuffling by on the way to the senior center. We ignored the men and women, still drunk from the night before, arguing on stoops, about whether or not one of them had come home the night before. We ignored the racist gravity scribbled outside the little Korean grocery store, with the neon signs, inviting, but not overly welcoming. Today I wince as I remember, but back then, back then it was just part of this life. These memories serve me well sometimes. A reminder. These memories didn’t mean too much to me back then, but they are becoming more precious as the years drag on.

Once, the whole seventh grade walked to the gym lot, which is now a Domino’s Pizza, to set off rockets we had made in science class. It was a sticky-hot, midwestern day, but the blue sky and the clean air conjured up a song, so we sang. We walked down the cracked sidewalks, around the fire hydrants, past the Section 8 apartment complex, and through the open field across from the public library and we spontaneoulsy sang, “Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the antelope play. Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

We sang and we laughed. We ran around the field before the teachers calmed us. We yelled at passing cars. We listened for horns blaring. We blasted rockets into the air. We dreamed of what this life would one day be. I don’t think any of us envisioned an empty lot. Or a Domino’s pizza. Just blue skies as far as the eye could see.

M.

I’m the Trusted Adult

As I was sitting in the dentist office, watching Jackson get sealants put on his teeth, it occurred to me what he’d asked just moments before. “So what are they doing?” He’d asked, glancing around the small room, eyeing all the very fancy, very expensive equipment. “It’s nothing,” I said, getting comfy in the Mom Chair. “Okay, cool,” he said then he sat back and relaxed. Truth be told it really wasn’t a big deal, the sealants. They just help protect his adult teeth from cavities, something certainly not offered to me as a kid. But he was walking into an unknown, and he was fine, as long as I was there. I’d never really given him a real answer though, and he would have understood. He just didn’t care. He just knew he trusted me. And the dentist. And he’d be okay.

About an hour later, while he sort of yelled out, in a squeaky, pre-pubescent man-boy voice, “You lied to me!” things were a bit different. You see, I had made him back-to-back visits at the dentist office. He knew this, and he also knew that the second visit was a consolation with the orthodontist. We went to a consultation with another orthodontist about six months ago, and that orthodontist wanted to wait to start work, so we did. We’ve always known he would need braces one day. The first time he went to the dentist, as a bright-eyed, eager, two-year-old, they told us upfront, “Start saving for his orthodontia treatment.” We didn’t, “start saving” as it were, so with the first ortho came the surprise of the cost, so we decided to “shop around.”

Once I got home though, and did the research, I realized there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done. In fact braces, on average, cost about $3,500. That was even at the Georgia School of Orthodontics, which was recommended to us as a cost-saving measure. So when, right after his consultation, they hit us with a price-tag of $3,000 at his dentist, the one we already know and trust, Jerimiah and I were all, “Tell us where to sign!” It seemed too good to be true, but it wasn’t. That’s when we were gathering our things, Jackson having already been through a rough “sealant” procedure where they had to redo a couple of them because he is a “salivator”. And another 30 minutes in the ortho chair. It was nearly 6:00 pm, and the Ortho turned to us and said, “Great, let’s get started.” We were like, “Okay,” as we walked to the lobby to sign papers, and give all our money away. Then Jackson piped up, “I’m not getting braces today, right Mommy?” I assured him that he was correct, then the Ortho was all, “No. No actually, we’re gonna go ahead and stick them on the top teeth today.” That’s when the squeaky yell heard by all in the office came, “YOU LIED TO ME!” And that’s when I realized I was a horrible mommy.

I try to set us up for success, as a family, as often as I can. This just wasn’t an example of me doing that. There are others. Many others. But the thought of actually doing that day, was so far off my radar, that I’m sure my chin also hit the floor when the doctor said that. I just had no one to accuse of lying to me in that situation. I was the trusted adult. I was the liar.

Truth be told, after the little squeaky yell, Jackson actually took it all in great stride, and by the time we were leaving, him with a full set of upper brackets in “Gryffindor” colored rubber bands, and us with a lighter wallet, we were all quite satisfied. And in fact, Christina, the Ortho Assistant (who by the way did all the work, what does an Orthodontist do again? I’m kidding I know the answer, but for real, yay Christina!) said Jackson was “the best” patient and such a “great kid,” yeah, even with the panicked, squeaky, lobby yell.

So just like that we’re the parents of a pre-pubescent boy with braces. And I’ve been transported back to my own brace face days, and I’m trying to help him the best I can. And we will get through this phase, just like we have all the rest. A little trial. A little error. And little yelling, sure. But a lot of patience and care.

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.

Boys Will Be Boys

I read an article in Esquire that a friend shared on Facebook. It was about the uptick of boys in America diagnosed with ADHD, and put on medications like Ritalin. I’m including a link to the article at the bottom of this post so you can read it for yourself, because I am about to get all sorts of off track here, because I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Not the article, I get what they were trying to say, misdiagnosis is prevalent and our boys should not be medicated like they are. What I took a bit of offense to, I guess it was offense, was the part about how “Boys are just more rambunctious than girls” and that’s that. That’s also why boys are diagnosed and medicated more. I get that too, I see the correlation. Or maybe it’s causation. But what hit me hard, and always does when I read about “Boys being boys” or hear someone say, “Boys will be boys” because I just don’t think that is true.

I’m a #BoyMom. Is that hashtag still a thing? It was for a bit in the early teens, and I’m always a little behind. That is to say that I have an 11-year-old son. I was also raised alongside lots of boys. By the time I was in high school I had seven nephews that all lived within walking distance of me, and trust, they were rotten sometimes. Like when they would hit each other, or ride their bikes into car doors, or scream at the top of their lungs for no reason, my sisters and my mom would says things like, “Boys will be boys” and “Oh, that’s just how boys are.” They woulds say these things, instead of correcting them. They might yell, “Hey stop hitting your brother,” but they never consistently did anything to change that behavior, hoping instead they would “grow out of it.”

But the thing is, boys are not inherently more destructive, obscene, carefree, or ludicrous than girls are. Let me stop for a minute, cause I can already see you getting all upset. Yes, there are real differences between an X and a Y chromosome*. And yes, those differences make boys and girls different, but here I am talking about mainly toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school kids. Pre-puberty stuff, and how living by the whole “let boys be boys” will not do right by them when the real shit hits the fan during puberty. And trust, with an 11-year-old I’m fast approaching this and I am seeing changes in my son. But he is still not “crazy” or a “Little Monster” and he never will be, why? Because my husband and I don’t ascribe to the prevailing attitude that boys are “little monsters.” Because we think it’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I have a boy. And yes, he was rambunctious as a toddler and even a preschooler, because most toddlers and preschoolers are. But he was not a rambunctious, grab the dog’s tail, laugh when someone is hurt, throw toys at his friends, kinda kid. He could have been, he showed signs of it by the age of two, he was around other kids that were (friends’ kids, neighborhood kids, preschool classmates), but we simply didn’t allow him to be like those other kids. It’s not rocket science, y’all. It’s not even math. If it was, I’d suck at it. It’s just consistent, consistent, consistent parenting. Let me repeat that again, consistent. Nothing in parenting is more important than consistency, well except showing love, but that’s a whole other post. Consistency and patience. And we found out how important this was early on.

  • Then there was the weening of the bottle. We did it in one day. How? Consistency. On his first birthday we filled his bottle with water at bedtime. We gave it to him. He took a drink, screamed, and threw it at us. Then we handed it back to him. He took a drink, screamed, and threw it at us. This went on for about four hours. We would intermittently offer him a sippy cup. Until finally, he accepted the sippy cup, and the next day I donated all the bottles.
  • What about him sleeping in his own bed? Every, single, time he toddled into our room as an adorable, little, two-year-old with his blanket and tried to climb into bed with us, we walked him back. We took turns. We put a gate on his door. He climbed over it. Were took him back. We closed his door. He flipped his light on. We took his light bulb out. We took turns sitting outside his door, sometimes all night long, just to open his door and put him back in his bed when we would hear the patter of his feet on the carpet. I’m not kidding.
  • He pulled the dog’s tail. We put him in time out. Explained, yes explained, to a two-year-old that it hurts the dog. He got out of timeout and pulled the dog’s tail. We put him back in timeout and explained, yes explained, to a two-year-old that it hurts the dog. He got out of timeout and pulled the dog’s tail. Two days later he stopped pulling the dog’s tail.

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. We never backed down. You can’t back down with a toddler, it’s like negotiating with terrorists! If you want your own damn bed you have to fight for it. You want them to potty in the toilet, fight for it. And yes, walk them to the bathroom 38 times a day. Does it suck? Oh fo sho, but if you don’t you will have a “Little, cover stealing, pooping in his pants in preschool, pulling the dog’s tail, screaming for no reason mess” on your hands. Regardless of gender. Trust. I HAVE SEEN THEM!

Jackson had a little friend who legit just walked around and screamed. No reason whatsoever. Her dad would go, “I dunno, she just does that. A lot of pent up energy I guess. Weird, huh?” No, not weird for a toddler, but annoying as hell. That don’t fly with Missy. As soon as Jackson started to pick up on that behavior we squashed that shit. Squashed it, like it was beef with Biggie and Tupac. Oh no, I won’t have a little one who walks around screaming at Target for no reason. No, no. Cause that shit leads to screaming as a child. Then screaming as a teen. Then screaming as an adult. Screaming when they are frustrated, screaming when they are tired, screaming when they want attention. Oh nay, nay! There are consequences to your actions, and bet my two-year-old figured that out real quick. How? I beat him. NO I DIDN’T, YOU ASSHOLES. I never once spanked my son. Neither did his daddy. But we were some “timeout” motherfuckers.

Guess what happened to screaming girl when her mom got tired of the screaming? A spanking. Guess what happened to Jackson when his mommy got tired of him yelling at her because he wanted milk in his sippy cup, but he knows he doesn’t get milk in his sippy cup, because you only get milk from a damn glass like a big boy? His ass went to timeout. A minute for every year of his age. Those were some of the longest three minutes of my life, y’all. LONGEST THREE MINUTES. “How do you get him to stay in that chair for three minutes?” Screaming kid’s mom would ask. Simple, I spent four days in a row walking his ass back over to the chair every time he got up. Now he knows. Magic! Nope, just CONSISTENCY!

Look it, I know I sound like I am tooting my own horn here, and it’s cause I am. Every time we go somewhere with Jackson, since he was a toddler, we get compliments about his behavior, his demeanor, his attitude, his pleasant nature. People are actually SURPRISED that a young boy can act like a civilized person. My own family thought something was wrong with him. They were all, “Why is he not trying to stuff pancakes into the DVD player?” Uhh, cause he tried that a couple of times, and then he learned. That’s a damn problem, y’all. Not the pancake in the DVD player, they come out pretty easily if you just hold it upside down and shake it, it’s a damn problem that people in society don’t know how to react when they see a well-behaved boy.

Now listen, this took me years to figure out. In fact, as recently as six months ago when someone would say, “Jackson is the sweetest kid, how did you do that?” I would smile and say, “We just got lucky!” That’s BULLSHIT! WE WORKED OUR ASSES OFF, EARLY ON, FOR THIS KID TO BE THIS WAY. Parenting is the HARDEST job I’ve ever had. It’s also the hardest job you’ll ever have. And if you don’t look at it like a job, like a requirement, like something you have to be part of, a working relationship with your partner, your extended family, your caregivers, your children, you will fail. FAIL. You will end up with a Little Monster. Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter. You have to take parenting seriously. It HAS to be your number one priority to raise a healthy, happy, adjusted, kind, child.

So how do you do it? Consistency, consistency, consistency. You have to show up, every day, sometimes all day, sometimes all night, for your kids. You have to be willing to change tactics. You can’t rely on the same old tricks you were raised with. You have to be willing to GASP! tell grandma that no, it is not okay for her to swat at his hands when he touches something she doesn’t want him to. Because swatting is hitting, and hitting begets hitting. It’s learned behavior. You have to be solid in your parenting foundation, in your choices, in how you want to see your child being raised. You have to have a plan, share it with everyone who has a part in their life, and you have to follow through. Bottom line.

And yes, I know, I know. Every child is different. I know this. In fact, I know that some of these kids that are on Ritalin should be. That it helps them. Calms their minds because they can’t calm them alone. They don’t know how yet. Their parents can’t help. And I also know, and maybe you should too, that I come from a place of privilege when I say all of this. I am the parent of one child, who had my full attention. I didn’t plan it that way, but that’s how it happened. I also had the privilege to quit my job when Jackson was a baby and devote myself full time to being his mom. And that helped me and him. It allowed me to focus solely on him (kind of, I was still in college most of his toddler years, and in grad school by the time he was in kindergarten), but Jerimiah and I made a choice, a choice for me to be home with our son, a choice that has probably, definitely, financially burdened us at times, but it was a choice we were capable of making. And I know some do not get that choice. But good, consistent choices can still be made. You can still envision how you want your kid to be and make it so. You can still try new tactics, still be open to new ideas. You can read about parenting topics you don’t know about, you can take parenting classes, for real that’s a thing! “Love and Logic” parenting class survivors right here! We were the only ones in the group who weren’t court-ordered to be there, but that’s okay. We learned so much about parenting that was never shown to us either growing up, or watching people raise their children around us.

I know it seems like I got off topic, I told you I thought I would, but I promise I didn’t. You see, parenting shows itself, good and bad. There are a million reasons why it might have happened, but most of them lead back to you as a parent. And man, I know that is tough to hear, but right or wrong, we have to take responsibility for our parenting, and stop blaming other people and things. And no, it’s not because he’s a boy, or she’s a girl. Boys are not inherently “bad.” More energy does not equate to bad behavior. I think what ends up happening is that we subconsciously play rougher with boys, lean them into more physical play, and expect them to be all-around rough-housers, which leads them into that behavior. Likewise, girls are not inherently “good.” We make them that way by expecting shyness and dependency from them. By leaning them into less physical activities like coloring, dolls, or ballet. (My son played with, and actually owned, dolls and Barbies! That’s a whole other post about gender stereotyping though…) But I know plenty of girls who are being raised to speak up for themselves. And I know plenty of boys who are kind, and helpful, and gentle with people. And I have hope that it will get better, not worse. But it absolutely starts at home with us as parents, and shaking off the views of the people before us.

M.

*I’ve been looking into the science behind why people say “Boys are different”, help me out if you can. I’m not finding credible stuff about boys actually being “different” at a young age. I’m interested in finding how/if hormones factor in before puberty.

ADHD Article from Esquire

Silly Scandinavians!

Well Fuck a Duck! My mom used to say that when I was a kid. Back before she stopped using “bad words” and certainly before she found Jesus. She also used to say, “Well fuck me runnin’.” That’s sweet. Do you know how many times Little Missy imagined what that might look like in a literal sense? Yeah, kids are literal. So I assumed someone, somewhere, had fucked a duck and that’s why that was a thing. And as an adult I KNOW someone, somewhere has at least TRIED to fuck a duck, and that’s disturbing. Oh sometimes I wish to be Little Missy again.

Anywho, now that I’ve totally disturbed your week with some dangling images to fall asleep to, let’s talk about this “bad word.” You know as an English girl, and a writer, and a dabbler in all things linguistic, I love words. And I’m from the camp that there is no such thing as a “bad” word. Words are not inherently bad, people are bad. The power we sometimes give words is bad. But the word itself isn’t. Can’t be. That’s not how any of this works.

So sure, I say “Fuck.” Always have. You aren’t raised in a house where your mom yells, “Well FUCK ME RUNNIN’” and come out with a holier than thou attitude about “bad words.” Now is my mom proud of that now? No. But that was some shit she should have considered back then, ya dig? I used to be very selective with whom I said the word to. In fact, I was so selective people started to think I never spoke “like that” and I realized I was giving the wrong impression. Here’s the best thing I can say about that word, know your audience. I’m gonna leave it at that.

So where does “Fuck” come from anyway? Great question, I’m glad you asked! Fuck’s etymology is a bit hard to pin down, mainly because it was labeled a “bad word” many moons ago, therefore rendering large blank spots in its history, in fact the word doesn’t appear in any English dictionary from the late 18th century to 1965. Which is no way to treat such a versatile word, in my opinion.

So where do people think it came from? Well there’s some varying thoughts. First it’s believed this word has been around for a looooong time. Like back before the 14th century, but that it’s always had negative connotations, so it was rarely written and certainly not published, which means we have a lack of evidence now. But there is this fun little poem written in bastard Latin from the 15th century titled “Flen Flyys” that has a variant of the word. Allow me to share a line.

“Non sunt in celi, quia fuccant uuiuys of heli.”

“They [the monks] are not in heaven because they fuck the wives of [the town of] Ely.”

Okay, that’s good stuff. Damn monks. I never trusted them, not once. So here the word is “fuccant.” It’s some form of Latin, but no idea where it came from.

One of the other schools of thought is that the word comes from the Norwegian word “fukka” which straight up means “to copulate” or the Swedish word “focka” which means to strike or push, and “Fock” which just means penis. Listen, I’m not a betting lady, but if I were, the Scandinavians are the real winners here. Fucking bless you, you damn silly Scandinavians!

So there you have if. Some of it, anyway. Now go forth and use your secret favorite word today. And if someone gives you grief about it, inform them of the long history of the word, and then tell them to fuck off. You don’t need that kinda negativity in your life.

M.

Turkey Day

Like most holidays around the Goodnight house, today is just a day to fill ourselves full of turkey and pie with family and friends, and as of late, think about and discuss the people who came before us. Because while we’ve come a long way from where we were twenty years ago, I still noticed like today, in this year, in 2019, that kids are still dressed up like “Pilgrims” and “Indians” and made to put on little, fictitious performances at school, public school, to represent this day. Dude, I’m rolling my eyes so far back in my head right now that they might actually stay that way, which would make my mom right. Again.

Because listen, for the past 50 years, the fourth Thursday in November has been considered the National Day of Mourning to many in the Native American community. Rightfully so. In fact, there’s a plaque in Plymouth explaining the day. Explaining how it was created to remember the genocide that happened on our lands many years ago. To their people. The Native Americans.

So sure, yes. White people like me have a lot to be thankful for today. We have a lot to be grateful for every day. (Side note: so glad that “grateful November” Facebook bs didn’t take this year. Did y’all know you can be grateful without talking about it on social media?!) Okay, whew. I’m being snarky. I’m sorry. I haven’t had my turkey yet.

The point is, many of you probably didn’t know about the National Day of Mourning. Some of you may not even think for one second about the Native Americans on this day, too consumed with football, and not burning the rolls, and whether your kids are dressed better than you sister’s. But that really isn’t what today is about. Of course, what it is really about is way fucking worse. The taking of land that didn’t belong to us. Genocide. And now a racism so steeped in our culture we actually don’t even realize it’s bad. So you know what, scratch what I was saying, go watch football, and eat turkey, and lie to your sister about how cute her kids look. Make today however you want it to be, but remember, somewhere, in our country, a group of people are mourning the loss of not just their land, but of their heritage. The same heritage that you’re poking fun at with feathers stuck in your hair.

But remember, today of all days, that just because something has been done a certain way since you were a kid, doesn’t mean it should stay that way. Doesn’t mean it is the right way. Some things, like the case of the fourth Thursday in November, just make us too uncomfortable to address it. But just because a topic makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak about it. That’s not how this world works. We learn and we grow. We become better. And we should always be striving to do better. To learn and grow, so that we can be better than our ancestors. Better than our parents and grandparents, and better people than we were the year, the month, or the day before. We deserve that. Our kids deserve that.

So, from my house to yours, Happy Eat Turkey Day. Sure, we’ll be watching football, and saying thing we are grateful for, but we will also be learning about the particular Natives who inhabited the state we live in today. Because, duh. Fucking, duh.

Do better. Be better. Gobble, gobble.

M.