I didn’t sleep well last night. Fitful dreams of scared kids. This morning I was up early, I readied for my follow-up breast exam. I’m less nervous than I thought I’d be, thanks to so many of you reaching out. You’ve been down this road I’m on, and overwhelmingly it all turns out just fine.
The weather is good in Atlanta today. Emory’s campus is lovely in the spring, which is helpful. Hopeful. I’m early for my appointment. I’m perpetually early. I grabbed a Chai Tea and found a spot outside Winship. I intended to read Rivka Galchen’s new story in the New Yorker, then a helicopter landed on the roof of The Children’s Hospital.
Jackson’s school was on a Level III lockdown last week. A couple of expelled kids snuck onto the school bus to “finish” the beef they had with another 8th grader. A friend of Jackson’s. They made it undetected into the gym. It was quickly stopped by fast-reacting teachers and admin, but not quick enough. Now there’s talk everyday about guns, and shootings, threats on social media, and a tension that is filling up the kids’ heads, the parents’ hearts.
The threats seem to elevate with the weather. We look forward to spring, the blooms, the sunshine. But it also means the end of the school year and that is sometimes long. Very long.
The news out of Nashville compounds, ignites. We are all just walking around scared and confused. The trees are still blooming, but it brings a sense of dread. What is next? We are always asking. To ourselves and each other.
When Jackson was two years old, he took a tumble down a couple of stairs. He skinned his knees, his elbow. I called the doctor right away. Should I bring him in, I wanted to know. She said he was okay. Said kids are resilient. They are fearless, too. He will go back down those stairs, fast just like before, but the next time he will know how to handle a fall. I will know how to handle a fall, because we will know what is coming.
It’s always a little amusing when I come to the blog to write about how I’m not writing, but here I am. I felt myself slipping back into the old routines over the last month. I’m reading, reading, reading all the time. I’m reading books from my TBR stack, I’m reading fiction and nonfiction submission for West Trade Review, and I am starting another book review soon, but I am not writing. I’m feeling stuck. Y’all know I hate to say writer’s block, because I don’t really think that is what happens to me, I think I just get too damn busy, too anxious about life, too, well you know, all the things, and that takes away from my writing.
So, I went out on a limb last week and I messaged my frands and we decided to put something on paper and then in a shared Google drive by the end of April because like me they were all sorta stuck too. I know so many people, so many wonderful writers, who leave their programs and just don’t write anymore and I don’t want to fall into that, I don’t want my lovely friends with electric voices and important stories to fall into that either. We have to keep pushing each other.
I guess I’m here today to tell you that it’s time to start up again. To let go of the thing that is nagging you, that unimportant shit taking up your time, and to sit your butt in your chair, put your head down, and write. If I’m going to do it, you need to as well. Grab your frands if you need to, they will appreciate it.
I’ve been off of Twitter since Elon Musk did his thing and I haven’t missed it one bit. Mostly because I was never really on it to begin with, it was more out of necessity for some things I was involved in, but every once in a while I would get to watch a live Twitter battle unfold and it was fun enough to take up part of my afternoon. Luckily, I am on Instagram, where screenshots of crazy Tweets go to die and I stumbled upon one today that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Full transparency, I Googled it to make sure it was real because it is so absurd, and yes, it was real, though it is a couple years old. I’m kicking myself trying to figure out how I didn’t see this back in 2021, but at least it made into my orbit now. Ladies and ladies, please see this Tweet from Candace Owens from March of 2021:
I have questions.
And actually, I have some concerns too. I mean, I’m no doctor, but this seems like it might be a prolapse issue that only some serious work on the pelvic floor could help.
In the least, the “popping” is concerning to me, but also intriguing? I thought my higher self knew how the world worked, but here I am, 41 years old and trying to figure out how I could possibly have missed popping my vagina into someone else’s vagina. I just feel shame. Forgotten about. Wronged.
I won’t assume Candace Owens thinks vaginas are detachable, but I will assume she thinks that vagina popping for power is a legitimate trade deal of the, what, United Nations? Chinese Government? OSHA? Who has the power? Who gets the power? And who can leverage the power in front of the world?
Questions. Just a lot of unanswered questions.
Most of all, why can’t I make my husband a sandwich?
I’m Irish. Most of my life I was told I am but I was still surprised when my DNA test came back. My mother told me that my grandfather’s family was from Ireland. She said they were poor and left around the time of the potato famine. But, she also told me that my grandmother was a Native American princess and I have zero Native American in my ancestry, so who’s to say what is what. My people come from Southern Ireland, the real deal, sovereign state where the Irish Mob reigns supreme. In fact, when my people first left the tried to give it a go in London, which makes sense, that’s where I’d go if I were a farm peasant, but it didn’t suite them, even though they had some potatoes there just weren’t enough bars. So, they left again this time for the FR FR Promised Land of Bath County, Kentucky, USA!
So I mean, technically my people are from the UK and UK (Go Wildcats!) The point is, you can pinch me or not pinch me it doesn’t really matter, what really matters is that today is a special day. Today is the anniversary of my first date with Jerimiah.
Twenty one years ago today we stood on the street in Kansas City watching the St. Paddy’s revelers run amok and we gave a cheers with our green beers and decided to try this thing out. As it turns out Jerimiah is not Irish, so his luck was running thin, meanwhile I hit the jackpot that day.
Cheers to 21 years! And poor, poor peasant people.
For those who say you can’t live in a metro area because you’d miss “the wildlife,” listen to this tale of coyotes who routinely sing the song of their people beneath my bedroom window.
Technically, they are in my neighbor’s yard, but still they hoot and holler and there are babies, I can tell on account of the yelping pups who sound quite adorable trying to mimic their parents.
Luckily, we’ve been keeping Winnie and Duke with us at night by way of a gate at the top of the stairs, otherwise all hell might break loose when they go charging through the doggy door at 3 am only to be met with a pack of “real dogs” who know how to hold their own.
It’s possible this is an Atlanta-metro problem, on account of the lush green spaces (such pretty cities we have!) but the real problem of course is destruction of habitats, which in turn forces them to move closer to us for tasty food like cats. Best to put Mr. Whiskers on a leash, friends.
Like usual, my neighbors on NextDoor are all up in a tizzy about the coyotes because my neighbors on NextDoor are all up in a tizzy about everything, everywhere, all at once.
“We have to trap and kill them!”
“They will eat Fluffer Butt!”
“This is so scary, why won’t the city do something?!”
At this point I’ve rolled my eyes so far back in my head they are stuck. My mom was right.
I sympathize with people, I do, but also, like, umm, they are wild animals. Their homes have been destroyed most recently for the development of a subdivision promising 63 “moderately priced” homes “starting in the mid-800s!” in which you can, “Customize!”
I don’t get the housing market.
Don’t get me wrong, the houses are beautiful. I wish I could afford a million dollar house, but alas when I asked the bank if I could get a $5 million dollar loan, my customizations would include a helipad, a bowling alley, and a working Dunkin’ Donuts, they asked me for a paycheck stub to which I said, “Oh, I do a lot of things, but none of them pay actual money.” Then I stole a pen and ran away. #YourPensSuckWellsFargo
The coyotes however, are rightful owners of the land but without an appropriate FICO score they are forced to walk the streets at night, running in and out of backyards and terrorizing people so much they are forced to stuff pennies in a can and shake them from their porches. The people, not the coyotes.
Pennies. In. A. Can. #WholeNewTakeOnPennyCan
Someone also uses pots and pans, but don’t worry the “Coyote Authorities” told them it was safe.
Listen, I don’t have any real solutions here. I’m not a “Coyote Authority,” but I am watching that Nat Geo docuseries on Pablo Escobar’s hippos, so I AM an authority of invasive hippopotamuses taking over South American lakes and rivers. Maybe cocaine is the answer in some way?
I also know that this problem isn’t going away and that trapping and killing them is not a viable solution. What I don’t get is what the people want the city to do. Write them a citation? That’s sure to stop them in their tracks. No coyote wants to get caught up in a lengthy and expensive civil case that lasts for years. Or would it be criminal on account of the trespassing? I need legal advice.
All I’m saying is, I wish we had an unruly pack of alpacas rather than coyotes, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt. And I don’t know what the answer is, but can we please just stop with the pennies and start with keeping our domesticated animals inside at night. Or maybe I’m just saying this is a fact of city life and we should just suck it up and stop all the bitching?
I’m pretty down right now, y’all. It’s for a lot of different reasons and I have a very good support system, I take pills to help my depression, anxiety, and mood. I saw my therapist, whom I love, just today. But here I am. Going down, down, down. My depression is pretty run-of-the-mill. It’s expected. It’s manageable. But it’s always there. Always.
And so because I know that I give myself all the tools and still feel this way from time to time, I know some of you are the same boat. So, this is your regular reminder that talking about mental health is crucial. We have the power to release ourselves and our families from the stigma of asking for and receiving mental health help. But it takes work.
For starters, we have to talk about it, keeping in mind that it matters how you talk about it with your loved ones, your kids, your friends. You do not know who is struggling because not everyone is as open as you or I might be. You can’t imagine the conversations I’ve sat through forcing a smile while people say things to me that are wholly unhelpful or just clueless.
People have told me that I just need to get outside more. As if the sight of trees will help me cope with the PTSD I have from losing my child. I think what they mean to say is that I need to do some internalizing. To find a quiet place to commune with myself. But what they don’t know is, I do that. Quite well. And quite often.
People have told me that I need religion. Because Jesus can just take all my stress away, they say. As if my trauma-induced anxiety will just magically float away when I ask Jesus to take it. What people don’t know is that I did that for a long time. Quite well. Quite often.
People have told me that I have nothing to be sad about because look at my life! I don’t have a high-pressure job or an unhappy marriage. Apparently, I just need to focus on the good, maybe keep a journal, and I won’t be “so sad all the time.” This one is always the most shocking to me, assuming that people who have solid relationships or financial means should have nothing to be sad about.
This is a lifelong process. A lifelong problem. It’s manageable, but it will never go away, no matter how many times I sit under a tree and pray to Jesus. And if you’re honest with yourself, your problems don’t go away that easily either. Because that’s not how life works.
I’ve had a couple different people tell me recently, when talking about mental health, that they don’t take pills or see a therapist because they want to “face life head on.” Besides the obvious passive aggressiveness of a comment like that (read: I’m not weak like you, I’m strong!) these people are lying to themselves and it makes me sad.
Listen, I love y’all. You know I do. But that’s the oldest excuse in the book and one that has been fed to us generation after generation. And it’s just plain harmful.
The people doing the work, the people going to therapy, talking openly about mental health issues, using prescribed medication rather than self medicating with alcohol or addiction, we are the people facing life “head on.” We are the ones doing the uncomfortable work of reaching inside and patching up our heads and our hearts, hoping it will translate to others, the ones we love, the ones that hurt us, the ones who just don’t have the ability to see the other side.
So, it is with great importance that I ask you, if you aren’t in therapy, if you aren’t talking with a support group or a support person regularly about your traumas, about life in general, the ups and the downs, when will you decide to start?
The work is hard, it might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life, it certainly has been for me, but it’s worth it.
I want to see you succeed. I want to succeed. But it’s not gonna make any of us better unless we get real about it.
I hope you’ll stop being afraid. And I hope you will take the leap. Because at this point we ALL have trauma that needs urgent attention. And there is help out there for all of us.
I watched this documentary several years ago, I think it was during the great documentary wars of 2020, when all the perfect documentaries came out at once while we were all stuck at home. Perfect in that they were exactly what we needed at that time, but in hindsight they were, well, “Tiger King.” Anyway, I watched a documentary about this woman who was murdered and her body was found days later in a water tank at a hotel in Downtown LA. Maybe you know it, maybe you don’t, maybe I’m mixing it up with a different murder documentary. I do that sometimes.
The point is, I watched it years ago and I still have bad dreams about it and today I was randomly remembering it and how the woman who was murdered kept a blog about her life and her travels and I remember thinking how that fact might be helpful to her family after they lost her. Like it must be nice for them to have been able to see her life while it was happening and then again to visit it anytime they want for forever. Then I realized that I have a blog and shit y’all, no one is gonna wanna read about Sam’s Club Toilet Paper and government cheese.
What am I saying? What AM I saying? Yesterday Jackson told me that Apple has a Legacy Account that you can sign up for now and at first I was all, “Eww.” Then I thought about it and well, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. I mean, at least all my nonsensical notes to self and messages about having to wait for me because I’m in the bathroom would be helpful to my kid some day?
When I told a friend about it they wondered why such a thing would exist, which got me to thinking whether it is a good or not to have my loved ones collecting my private messages and photos after I die because sure I will live forever in my little phone screen, in the words from my blog and Twitter feed, and that has the capacity to keep me close to their hearts. But there is also the possibility that I disappoint them, even in death. Can’t our social media lives die along with us? Do we want them to? Should they?
I guess I have more to consider on this topic, and consider it I will, while I peruse Netflix for the next great murder documentary.
It’s been one of those years where our wedding anniversary took me by surprise. We’ve been so busy with, well, life. Between work and middle school, band practice and fundraisers. Between extended family obligations and the holidays, the time just slipped away. When we were planning our wedding 16 years ago, it never occurred to us that the week of Christmas might be a busy week. How young and naive we were, standing at the alter making a million promises to each other that neither knew whether we could actually uphold. But, as we squeal into year fifteen, our tires hot and sticky, those early years seem less important. Those terrible decisions, those dumb spats, and ill-timed events. It all sort of fades away and you begin to focus on what you’ve accomplished together and on the life you made. And it’s a pretty good one over here.
We’ve made a warm home. A spectacular kid.
We’ve made big decisions that led to big successes.
We’ve made mistakes, so many mistakes.
We’ve made friends all over the place.
We’ve deepened connections, split ties, lost touch.
We’ve found who we are, who we were, who we want to be.
We’ve learned to face challenges upfront, honest, and raw.
We’ve become great communicators.
We’ve been disappointed, in ourselves, and in others.
We’ve come to know this world, the people we want to surround ourselves with, and those we don’t.
We’ve established traditions and passed down bad habits.
We’ve argued and cried.
We’ve loved and lost.
So much love.
Fifteen is the year of crystal. We aren’t really “crystal” people, so we are skipping gifts this year in exchange for a quiet evening at home with our kid and our dogs. That’s our favorite place these days, and while that wasn’t an explicit promise we made fifteen years ago, spending as much time as we can together, is just another of those happy, little accidents in this unpredictable and lovely life that we’ve created.
Fifteen years of marriage. Twenty one years together. Still raising hell.
Did you know makeup has an expiration date? I did not. Or rather I figured it did but never bothered to check until yesterday. I don’t even know what made me curious. I was looking for something in the bathroom and I stumbled across my CoverGirl foundation and I noticed a date stamped on it. It was expired. It wasn’t VERY expired, but still. I wondered how long ago I had bought it and shook my head from the intense workout I was giving my brain and I threw it in the trash. It’s no secret, if you’ve ever met me IRL, that I’m not a big makeup user. I go through phases. In my twenties I wore makeup pretty regularly, then after Jackson was born I gave up on that shit. Being a stay-at-home-mom will do that to ya. Then in my thirties I was back at it, then I stopped. Now I wear it sparingly, but as of late I have so many appointments and meetings and, because I’m a Band Booster Mom, I’ve had to talk in front of large groups of people, so I’m starting to think I might get back on the makeup bandwagon. But I need to ease in. So I went to Target last night for some foundation and that’s when my life fell apart.
Listen, it’s possible what I’m about to tell you is not surprising, but to me it was, how should I put this? Fucking nuts. I can’t begin to tell you the last time I was in a makeup store, or stopped at a makeup counter, or even meandered down the makeup aisle in a place like Target, but I did last night and what the hell?! Someone could have warned me! Although I suppose I should have known, considering there are entire YouTube channels devoted to learning how to apply foundation. What are those little sponge things? What’s a contour? Why wasn’t I taught this in Seventeen Magazine in 1996? Or was I and I just skipped right over it to take the “Which Seinfeld Character Are You?” quiz?
The aisle was not what I was accustomed to. I’ll admit that over the last few months I had noticed that Target was moving things, putting in brighter lights, gussying up that section, but I paid little mind since I rarely went in there. But on a Sunday night at 8:00 pm the lights from the makeup section were so bright! Who needs shit that bright? The answer is me. My old-ass eyes had a hard time trying to navigate through the foundation tints, for one. The last time I routinely bought foundation was probably 15 years ago and shit was not like this. Now I’ve bought foundation in the last fifteen years, but it’s usually when I’m on vacation and realize I don’t have any and my face is red and I run into Walgreens and grab some “Light” foundation and Tylenol PM for good measure. This shit. This shit. I dunno, it was different.
First of all, where is the CoverGirl? And I’m gonna stop right here and say that I use CoverGirl solely because I’ve always used CoverGirl. There’s no other explanation. My mom used it and when I bought my first foundation at the Leavenworth Wal-mart that’s what she told me to buy. Plus, they have this foundation with Olay in it and they are cruelty-free. Probably most of the makeup companies are nowadays, but back then that was way important to me and they were proudly touting it and 16-year-old Missy was all, “Hell yeah, cruelty-free!” Plus, there just weren’t a lot of make-up options for a girl like me in the late 90s in small-town Kansas. Everyone wore CoverGirl makeup and did their nails with Wet ‘n’ Wild. End of story.
That is not the case now.
Now as a grown-ass adult I have been inside Ulta and Sephora. I have lingered at the makeup counter at Macy’s and Nordstrom’s. I once even walked, on accident, into a high-end makeup store in New York City mistaking it for a candy store. I blamed it on Jackson once we got inside. I was all, “Oh, I’m sorry, my son thought this was a candy store (fake laugh, fake laugh).” And he side-eyed me fully knowing that I was the one who yelled, “I think that’s a candy store!” when we were walking past. The point is, I know that other brands exist. I know that they are probably magical and can treat your skin way better than CoverGirl, but creature, meet habit.
So, there I am last night, confused, looking all over like I’ve found myself at a rave and someone has just offered me a pill and I’m wondering if it’s worth it, when it occurs to me that they probably have cameras all over this bitch because of shoplifting and there is possibly some woman sitting in a backroom somewhere laughing at me trying to match skin tones with some brand called “Wiki Pixie Velour.” I was a mess. I was going back and forth between two sections for a good ten minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t find my “match” when I realized those two brands weren’t even made for me, they were made specifically for woman who have way more melanin than I do. (Hand to head)
I was just so confused. So overwhelmed. Not only were there so many brands, but in each brand were so many different kinds of foundations. Then I started to panic. Do I need this primer? What’s a primer? I used a primer when I painted the wall in the guest room. Does my face need a primer?! So I put a primer in the cart, one that supposedly helps control red, which I suffer from. Then there was the actual foundation and all I kept thinking was, “WHERE IS THE COVERGIRL AGELESS WITH OLAY?” And then I had a thought: What if they don’t sell it anymore?! So I panicked even harder.
It was about this time that another desperate woman walked into the aisle. She was scanning, scanning, scanning. I could see it in her eyes. She was in scrubs. A nurse or a doctor from Emory. She has a mask on so I could only see her eyes, but I knew she felt the same. She was looking for a foundation and she didn’t know if they had it. I nervously reached for a lipgloss and turned the box over and over in my hands, while I watched her from the corner of my eye. She kept picking up bottles of foundation and putting them down. I wanted to scream, “STOP! You won’t find it! You’ll never find what you’re looking for and we are both going to die here in the makeup section at the Northlake Target! It’s over!” But she did find it. She found what she was looking for and she sped off and I looked down at the lipgloss in my hand and for the first time I read the box. It said, “For lips and cheeks” and I threw the devil lipgloss/blush back onto the shelf.
Was I in the twilight zone?
I walked then, into aisle after aisle. I’d been in all of them before. I’d lost track of time. I worried about Jackson and Jerimiah. I told them I was running to Target for foundation and almond milk. What had become of them? There were just so many options.
Arches and Halos
The Lip Bar
Olive and June
This is not an exhaustive list of makeup sold at Target, but holy hell! Then, in the aisle that’s so far away it looked like it belonged with Epsom salts and adult diapers, I saw it: Drugstore Makeup! And there on the shelf was all of my familiar CoverGirl Ageless Foundation! And all the familiar suspects. Whew. Crisis averted.
Okay, sure, I was probably overreacting. But that’s what I do. And truth be told, I still walked out of Target with about $100 in makeup because I gave into the contouring blush and the eyebrow pencil and that damn primer, which was actually more money than a gallon of Sherwin-Williams primer, but I digress. The point is sometimes when we are forced to look change directly in the eyes, we wonder if we would look good with lash extensions or not. Then we overcome the Target makeup aisle.
Here’s to overcoming. I hope you overcome whatever your makeup aisle looks like today.
Voting is still alive and well in Georgia, in case you were wondering. Early voting began on Monday so Jerimiah and I moseyed on down to our local library yesterday, which is an early voting spot for DeKalb County, a bright blue spot in Central Georgia, a bright blue spot in the South. We love that about our county. In fact, Jackson still likes to quote the ABC News anchors from the 2020 Presidential Election who at 11:00 pm said, “Ohhh, we are expecting a HUGE dump from DeKalb County, Georgia which should change this election!” Haha. Huge dump. Haha.
Anyway, we waited in a short, albeit interesting line, where we had to fill out a paper and show our ID. Yes, we are an ID-showing state. And no one offered us any water… But they were asking for anyone over 75 years old or with certain medical conditions to go inside where it is warm to sit and fill out the paper. It is 70 degrees here today, but please listen to me when I say, it is a COOL 70. We are freezing. Help us.
Then, we were ushered into the library where we waited in another line to show our ID again and get our voting cards for the machine. At this stop Jerimiah and I ended up next to each other and we were lectured about how when we vote we can’t talk to each other.
“Just pretend you’re at home and ignore each other,” David the Poll Worker said with a chuckle, while Paula the Poll Worker said, “Please excuse, David. It’s been a long day.”
Turns out, according to Paula, they are turnin’n’burnin about 1500 voters a day at our little library! Trust, that’s good news!
Anyway, Jerimiah and avoided each other since we felt like we were being watched and went to voting booths across the room from each other, which means I had to wade through all the BS amendments by myself. I’m sorry, you want to give a tax break to people who cut down trees?! I think not.
I saw Herschel Walker’s name and vomited a little in my mouth, then quickly hit the button for Rev. Warnock. Next up was Governor and of course your girl pounded that Stacey Abrams button. Well, pound is an exaggeration. It’s like a giant iPad and you are given this little stylus decorated with the American flag and Christ, just use your finger.
As I chose her name I assumed that the devil voting machines sent signals to Russia? Is it Russia? To tell them who I voted for. Why they care who I voted for, I dunno, just telling you what my Great Uncle who watches a lot of Fox News told me.
After you finish your ballot, you are asked to review it, then you have to print it out and take it over to a scanner that was previously assigned to you. I had been assigned Scanner #2 and so was Jerimiah so we ended up by each other in the scanner line. You put your ballot in and you wait until the scanner reads, “Ballot Successfully Cast!” and then a person tells you, “Your ballot was successfully cast! Get your peach!” Then you get your peach sticker and go on your merry way!
You know I do this all for my peach sticker.
Whew. That’s it. That’s voting in Georgia. It’s not that complicated, nor is it inherently different than other places I have voted save North Carolina, because the first time I voted there you didn’t need to show your ID and I was way weirded out about that when I pulled it out of my purse and the lady was all, “Oh honey, I don’t need that.”
So please, please rest assured that Georgia is attempting to save our democracy best we can, as usual, and that things are actually just fine down here even though apparently we are all just a bunch of Southern Idiots.
Today I asked the infinite universe why it was out to get me. Ever have those days? It feels like each minute of the day is more and more complicated than the last. I feel like Peter Gibbons in “Office Space” and every day is worse than the day before rendering today the worst day of my life.
Okay fine, I’m being dramatic. Peter and I are both dramatic, but I can’t shake the feeling that so many of us are feeling that way right now. I look around at meetings, at school functions, even out to dinner with the family, and I see people who look genuinely unhappy, or at least frustrated, overworked, under appreciated, just plain tired.
I assume it’s from living through what we have lived through over the last two years. I know people who went through some major life changes in that time. I know people who have moved across the country to start fresh. Couples who have divorced, people who started therapy for the first time in their lives. People who quit their high-pressure jobs and turned to work that is more meaningful. And I get it. I’ve undergone a major shift in thinking and feeling too, it’s a normal part of growth, especially in times like these. In fact, if you haven’t made any significant changes in your life over the last two years, the way you think, love, act, work, or live, I’d worry about you.
Now we are feeling the fallout. Some of us are starting to question the changes we made. Were they worth it? Did our loved ones come along with us? Did we leave people behind? Did we do the right thing? These are things I think about all the time and it’s doing a number on me. The truth is all the changes I made were to better myself, my family, my community, but there are certainly repercussions, even to ourselves.
There’s no easy answer here. I’m just hopping on to remind you that you made those changes for a reason and maybe you can re-evaluate. Maybe you need to, but most likely you made those changes because you needed to, and those old fears are just rising up again. I say shove them off. If you are feeling good and you’re moving toward the right kind of happiness for you, then it’s working. Our old wounds come up from time to time and they always will and on those days, sure, we might feel like every day is the worst day, but one foot in front of the other, friends.
I wrote another obituary for a nephew. The first one was in 2016 for my nephew Scottie Wayne Goodpaster, Jr. He was murdered at 33 years old. But thankfully this summer the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the convictions for his murderers. You can read about it here. The newest obituary came a couple of weeks ago for my 33-year-old nephew Corey Alan Anderson who was also murdered, though there is still an active investigation and I can’t comment on it, I can share about Corey, including the obituary I wrote and some pictures from our childhood.
Corey is the oldest son of my sister Khristi. Khristi was 16 when I came along, which is why Scott and Corey and a couple other nephews were so close in age to me. Little Scottie as we called him, was two years younger than me, Corey was eight years younger and while his dad served in Desert Storm he lived with us along with my two sisters, my nephew Michael, and my mom in a two-bedroom apartment in Leavenworth, and that is when I got so close to those two.
Over the years I became their babysitter and then just regular, old Aunt Missy. Then we grew up, as people do, lost touch, we all left Leavenworth, though Michael and Corey eventually found their way back home. But back then they were more like little brothers to me than anything else. We have some good memories to pull out every now and then. There ended up being seven OG grandson’s for my mom, before marriage brought us step-kids and before Jackson was born. Michael (the brown-haired baby) was the third oldest, and now he is the oldest. Just like that.
I’m working through it all now. Processing, looking for the right words, but I did want to hop on here and share some pics of my guys. The OG Squad. Because sometimes when things are bad, it’s best to see the people you used to have.
Thanks for reading.
Corey Alan Anderson, 33, of Leavenworth, Kansas passed away on Thursday, September 22, 2022.
Corey was born on February 25, 1989, to parents Brian and Khristi (Goodpaster) Anderson, both of Leavenworth. He was born in Wuerzburg, Germany while his father was active duty for the United States Army.
When Corey was a baby, the family returned to the US and were stationed for a short time at Fort Benning, GA, but were able to return to the Leavenworth area soon after, eventually settling into their family home in Lansing, Kansas.
Corey attended Lansing Elementary, Middle, and High School. He received his high school diploma in 2016 from Bonner Springs Virtual Learning.
As a child, Corey was an avid skateboarder. He spent hours practicing tricks and skating with his brothers and many friends from school and the neighborhood. He was eager to try different sports and enjoyed playing baseball, as well as exploring in the woods near their home. His first dog, Shadow, a yellow lab, was one of his best friends as a child and she ignited Corey’s love for dogs, which would last his entire life.
He enjoyed wonderful relationships with his three younger brothers and strived to be a role model for them growing up.
Shortly after high school Corey was involved in an accident that left him with a Traumatic Brain Injury. Though some of Corey’s personality and physical abilities were affected by the injury, Corey remained fiercely loyal to his family, his closest friends, and to his dogs, including Leo, his first service dog.
After his injury, Corey spent most of his time hanging out with his dog Akira, walking the neighborhood, and playing video games. He enjoyed family gatherings and going out to lunch with Gma. He always looked forward to playing chess with his Uncle Scottie. Corey always won!
Corey is preceded in death by his paternal grandparents Neil and Carol Anderson, his uncle David Anderson, and his cousin Scottie Goodpaster, Jr.
Corey is survived by his parents Khristi Anderson (mother) and Brian Anderson (Kim) Anderson of Leavenworth. He is also survived by his brothers and their families, Joshua N. Anderson (Sarah) and nephew Oliver of Kansas City, Kansas, Samuel T. Anderson and nephew Keaton and niece Oakleigh Mae of Leavenworth, Kyle J. H. Anderson of Kansas City, Missouri, Tristan Jackson (step-brother) of Leavenworth, his maternal grandmother, Marjorie Mundt of Leavenworth, as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins who loved him including, Steve (Michelle) Anderson of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Belinda (Keith) Collier of Leavenworth, Melissa (Jerimiah) Goodnight of Atlanta, Georgia, Scott Goodpaster, Sr. of Wichita, Kansas, and Terri (Steve) Monroy of Jacksonville, Florida.
In lieu of gifts and flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made in Corey’s name, to Hope Pet Rescue, 728 Cherokee, Leavenworth, in honor of Akira, Corey’s most loyal companion.
I’ve been keeping myself extra busy the last few weeks. Right after surgery up until yesterday I was waking up early, starting on projects, going all day. I’d have music or a podcast on while I worked, which is unusual for me, I enjoy quiet when I work. I had about 15 tabs open on my laptop at one point working on the middle school band’s spring trip, planning a veggie garden for the spring, ordering birthday presents for friends, planning a fall trip for us, getting a jump start on all Jackson’s travels for TSA this school year, planning spirit wear, writing cards to friends, charting my pain levels, and basically saying yes to anything that was thrown my way. At first I thought maybe I’m just spinning to keep myself mentally busy to combat my lack of physical ability during this time of healing, then yesterday I saw the date: August 24th and I realized why I was doing what I was doing.
Today would be my daughter’s 11th birthday. She’d be in fifth grade, maybe sixth grade, depending on when she was allowed to start kindergarten. She’d probably be a dirty blond with a penchant for video games like her brother, or maybe she’d hate video games because that is his thing. Maybe she’d be into science and math, or more likely she’d be like me, writing little stories, doing art, reading late into the night with a flashlight under her blankets thinking we wouldn’t know. I know she’d be smart, and early reader like her big brother. Kind, compassionate, maybe a little shy, letting Jackson be the leader he was born to be.
Those are the thoughts that seep into my concious every year around this time. The idea of who my daughter would be if she were here with me. And every year I try desperately to combat those thoughts, but I am never successful.
My best friend sent us the text she sends every year. The one to say she is thinking of us and of Lydia. Her son’s birthday is tomorrow and so in her head our two children are intrinsically linked. Late August babies. Wanted children. Loved always.
God, it’s a tough day for me. I try each year to spread a little light today, but this year is hard. I’m still on crutches and I’m still in a headspace that makes finding the hope harder. It feels all at once like the only day I can publicly remember her and the hardest day of the year to get through the memory of her. It’s a bad kind of feeling. A stuck kind of feeling.
I’ll choose kindness toward myself today to combat it. I’ll stay in bed longer. I’ll watch “I Love Lucy” and take my time. I’ll turn off the to-do list and the music and the ringer on my phone and I’ll sit in silence for a little bit. Then tonight I’ll hug my baby, I’ll send a gift to my best friend’s son celebrating another year around this wild world. I’ll call my Momma. I’ll make my donations to Trisomy 18 and Planned Parenthood. Slowly I’ll feel better. Slowly I’ll figure this out. Eleven years doesn’t feel so long and it never gets easier. I think we just learn to live with the grief, because what else can you do.
I hope you are learning to live with your grief today. I hope the memories you have suffice, and if not, if the memories are all tough for you like they are for me, I hope you can make sense of the nonsensical in a way that helps others, shines some light, and makes hope float.
I hope Lydia Elizabeth knows I love her, wherever she is, and I hope she knows I made the best decision I could with the information that I had. And I hope she forgives me. And I hope one day I can forgive myself.
In the midst of all my other medical issues since turning 40 years old, I’d like to officially add one more diagnosis to the mix: Obstructive Sleep Apnea. That’s right, I have that disorder that is characterized by large people snoring loudly with full face masks chugging along as they sleep. Maybe you have a different idea of it, but that was mine. Remember that show “Mike and Molly” with Melissa McCarthy? I loved that show, but Mike had sleep apnea and he slept with those tubes and machines and I always thought, “Oh wow, how can anyone deal with that?” Hmpf. Let me back up.
All of my life, or at least as far back as I can remember, I have woke up in the middle of the night coughing and gasping for breath. When I was a kid my mom used to say I must have been having a bad dream, and I believed her. That made sense. Why else would I be crying saying I can’t breath as a child? As I got older and started to experience panic attacks on the reg, I decided that was what was happening when I would wake up shaking, coughing, crying, gasping for breath. I must be having panic attacks. This doesn’t happen all the time, I should add. It’s like once or twice a month on average, but over the last year it has ramped up to a couple times a week. It got to the point where I was afraid to fall asleep some nights because I thought it was night I would have a panic attack.
Fast forward to a month ago, I asked my doc for some sleep meds. I didn’t really elaborate, I just said I can’t sleep. She prescribed me Trazodone and we went on with our life. A month later I had to go back to see her and check in with the sleeping pills and that’s when I was like, “Oh sure it’s working, but I’m still waking up in a panic attack.” She looked at me funny then and told me to explain. I told her all about what I thought was a panic attack or maybe a nightmare? Then she looked at me a little bit like I was dumb and she was all, “That’s not how panic attacks work. It sounds like sleep apnea.” Then she sent me to Dr. Sharma, the sleep doctor at Emory’s Sleep Center.
Dr. Sharma’s office was able to get me right in (there was a cancellation the day I called, which is a lucky thing if you know Emory) and I went to see her the next day. I should say here that all those ideas of sleep apnea were sneaking into my head at this point. I legit wondered if I was “big enough” to suffer from this. I always just assumed this was people who were like hundreds of pounds, and while I am over 200 pounds, I’m not too far over and I’ve been actively working on losing weight the slow and steady method. That’s how dumb I was. (Face palm)
In Dr. Sharma’s office I saw the regular suspects. I saw elderly people, people who were maybe two hundred pounds bigger than me, but then I saw this really slim guy with a t-shirt on that read something about some marathon he’d run, and he was holding his mask, waiting to see his doctor. I was utterly confused. That’s when I got called back and schooled on obstructive sleep apnea by Dr. Sharma.
Turns out obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can happen to anyone, even kids. That’s when I told her that this had been happening to me since I was a kid. OSA is about the way your airways react when your are sleeping. For some people it is the weight that lays against their chests, for others it is about the way your airways are made. When we sleep our body relaxes and if we have small or abnormally-shaped airways (or both, which is likely my case) they get too relaxed and they start to collapse onto each other restricting your airways and plummeting your oxygen levels. Then, because we aren’t getting enough oxygen, our brain alerts our body to wake us up and it does so in a panic gasping for the air we need to fill up our lungs. I was shaking along with her as she was telling me this because this all made sense to me. She told me it sounded like I have OSA, but that we’d have to do a sleep study to have an official diagnosis.
This was days before I was scheduled to go into surgery for my hip, so she suggested an at-home study because we could get that done that evening. She could send me home with all that I needed, though she said that sometimes an in-lab study is still needed if the results are inconclusive. I agreed to the in-home study and I was sent home with instructions on how to do it.
There are probably many methods and companies that help in this process, but I was given the “WatchPat One” information and equipment. This is one-time use equipment, paid by your insurance, that goes along with an app. You download the app, log in with a specific password from your doctor, and before you go to sleep you connect the “watch” and the finger monitor. This is what mine looked like.
It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and basically you just fall asleep and it tracks your oxygen levels and your heart rate all night. It can give false negatives and it can give inconclusive results, it is not near as advanced as the in-lab studies, which are where you spend the night in the sleep center hooked up to a millions machines, but in severe cases this can give a clear diagnosis and at this point Dr. Sharma suspected I had a severe case of OSA. I asked her at one point if losing weight would make it go away. I was still so stuck on my weight being the factor, and she said it might help some people who have moderate OSA, but in my case, she suspected it was so bad, had gone on for so long, that it wouldn’t matter much. Turns out she was right…
Four days after my sleep study she called to tell me that I have severe OSA and most likely have had it since I was a child. She said that my airways are probably small and abnormal and that only a machine would help me. She said that I needed to get on a machine ASAP and use it every night. She said all these years of dealing with this had the capacity to do a real number on my heart, and y’all know I don’t need anymore bad vibes with my heart.
Fast forward to this week and we are currently waiting on insurance to okay not a CPAP machine, which is what most people know, but an APAP machine. A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine is used to pump oxygen into your body through the mask at a continuous pressure. You set the pressure and let it do its thing. I’m “special” though, because of course I am. *Hair Flip* I need a much more advanced (ahem, more expensive) machine known as an APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) machine, that meets my oxygen levels where they are and automatically adjusts how much air I need. This is because the “severe” part of my OSA is in my REM cycle and it’s pretty erratic. With the APAP my doctor won’t have to constantly monitor and change how much pressure I get, because it’s kind of impossible for us to know as it changes so drastically. The machine will constantly assess as I’m sleeping and do it for me.
Listen, I’m not sharing this to scare any of you. We all have trouble sleeping from time to time, but if you are like me and it is consistent trouble and you feel like you can’t breathe sometimes and it’s to the point where you are afraid to fall asleep, talk to your doctor please, regardless of your size, because OSA can have real problems on you health and if left unchecked it can get progressively worse.
I’ll work my way through this shame I feel, shame about lots of different things, and you just stay happy as can be that you aren’t me.
Today I was thinking about how I turn 41 in a few weeks and I was excited because it would appear that 40 hasn’t done me any favors, but the truth of the matter is, 40 is the year I got the nerve to deal with all these problems head on, to look for the answers, to ask the questions, to put my ignorance and my shame aside and try to get healthier, so I should be proud of myself. And I will be one day. Maybe I just need a good night’s sleep first.
Stay safe and sane, y’all.
PS… This is what I had to see when I was at Dr. Sharma’s office and I thought it might give me nightmares, so I will pass it on to you. Just FYI, they weren’t looking at the patient’s chair before I got into the room. 🙂
I had the old hip surgery on August 11th and boy was it a doozy. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be though, I think having gone through one major surgery already (I had a hysterectomy in 2018) was helpful, I sort of knew how it all worked. But Dr. Whitfield did go into this surgery prepping me for the worst-case scenario, and it ended up being a lot of worry for nothing. I’m glad he did it, in hindsight, because I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up after a two-hour surgery, rather than a four-hour surgery. So what did he end up doing? Okay, let’s dive in.
I had a pretty standard pre-op. I got there and was asked to fully undress and wear the surgical gown, which is much better than a regular hospital gown, thankyouverymuch. But first I had to wipe yet again with the surgical wipes, but they were warmed for me, unlike the ones I had to use the night before at home. Brrr. I also had to drink not one, but two pre-op Ensures the day before. I had to do this with my hysterectomy too, I think it might be standard practice now on account of it helping by pumping major carbs into your body. Seriously, so many carbs and really it was so sweet that my teeth were hurting! But it helps with recovery and has been proven to allow a quicker return to normal, as well as a shorter hospital stay, an easier bowel movement post-op, and the loss of less muscle mass during recovery. Seriously, here is a really academic paper on it if you are so inclined. This should be the standard for pre-op.
After the wipe-down I met Alexis my pre-op nurse, who was kind and funny. You all know I love a funny gal. She was great with the IV and as soon as I was hooked up at #5 (my lucky number!) she brought Jerimiah back to hang with me, which was really nice and helpful at keeping my nerves at bay.
After my IV was all hooked up, I had a visit from the anesthesiologist, Dr. Whitfield (my surgeon), then my OR nurse. They were all very nice and gave me good info and assuaged any lingering fears. Dr. Whitfield was still planning for the worst-case scenario here, which was the four-hour surgery where they had to do several things. But in the end it was much less complicated. This next pic I do not recall taking because they had just given me that medicine in my IV that sort of makes you feel like you had several glasses of wine, well that’s how it makes me feel anyway and I was all, yeah y’all let’s get this party started now!
In the OR I was met by a smiling Adrianna, who is Dr. Whitfield’s right hand lady, and I liked her a lot up until that moment. She said some encouraging words to me then she started putting my feet into boots so I could be put in traction on the table and I was all, “How you gonna do that to me, Adrianna?” But then the anesthesiologist asked me if I talk about Bruno and someone put an oxygen mask on my face and I mumbled, “We don’t talk about…” Then I woke up three hours later in recovery. So yeah, it was an easy surgery for me! 🙂
They called Jerimiah at 2:00 pm to say the first incision had been made and it was apparently smooth sailing from there. Dr. Whitfield saw some things on my scans he was worried about, mainly that he would not be able to repair my labrum, so he had that cadaver labrum ready to rock and roll and he did end up replacing it in large part due to the fact that my torn labrum had started to repair itself best it could and that was by calcification, meaning it had started growing bone in the tears. This was one of the reasons I was in so much pain. I had my hip bone regularly hitting this calcified bone and wow, it was not fun.
Dr. Whitfield scraped the calcified bone out (there isn’t an easy answer about why some bodies do that) and then he pulled my labrum out and replaced it. He also had to shave off portions of my hip bone that were irregular, they were causing an “impingement.”
After it was all done, however, it was not as long or as involved a surgery as he was expecting and he called Jerimiah at 4:15 to say the surgery was over and I was being taken to recovery.
I don’t know how waking up from recovery is for people, but for me it fucking sucks. Sucks, y’all. I just can’t get it together. I wake up five or six times, but never really long enough to talk to anyone or respond to questions, then I just feel all sorts of out of it for like 24 hours.
Because this was an out-patient procedure and I had to meet with Rehab before I was cleared to go, I was out of it the entire time the doctors were teaching me how to use a walker and crutches, how to walk down stairs, and get in and out of a car. Like, I don’t have a clear recollection of any of it. Thank goodness Jerimiah was there. At one point the Physical Therapist was all, “Yeah, I’m gonna stop talking to her and just talk to you,” then he moved his body toward Jerimiah. I was all, “That’s rude, MFer,” in my head. Then I got home and Jerimiah showed me this pic.
Sure, yeah. I get it now.
This was like an hour after I “woke” up and clearly I was not alert and had no real idea what was going on. Take someone to see the PT with you, that’s all I’m saying.
That night when we got home I was still out of it. It was probably a full 24 hours before I had some sense to me, which is why when I saw this awesome spread from my friend Jennifer, I was like, “Oh cool. What happened?” Then I had a couple bites and went to sleep. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized how kick-ass that spread was and how lucky I am to have the community I have.
I should also say that we didn’t actually get home from the hospital until 7:00 pm, so Jennifer dropped this off to Jackson who was home because his friend Araf’s mom, Sharmin, brought him home after school. Also, I’ve had a ton of friends send me gifts and texts. My friend Kristi asked me if I needed her to grab groceries for us, other people have said to call if I need anything. But you know I hate to ask for help, and Jerimiah and Jackson have been awesome, as usual, so we are getting by and so far so good.
Because the surgery wasn’t as complicated as he had planned for, the recovery has been far better than I had planned for. In fact, my biggest issue has been the cough. I was pumped so full of fluid that it had to come out somehow. That mixed with the fun aftermath of anesthesia (it really does a number on me) I have had the most problems with the coughing and peeing all night long. But I’ll take that over pain any day. So I’m calling it a win. I’ll do a whole other post about my recovery period, because I certainly have some tips and tricks for people who are going through this surgery or one like it.
Now Here We Are
So, I started this post the day after surgery because I wanted to write about it while it was fresh on my mind, then I got side-tracked and am just finishing it today. But there are some things I bought in preparation for my surgery that have proven to be invaluable so I am going to add a link to them here to finish up this post. As I mentioned my next one will be solely on recovery and the ways I managed to get around in the two weeks after surgery.
I go to Dr. Whitfield on Monday for my post-op check in and I will keep you all informed of how that goes! So until next time, I hope you enjoyed my journey or at least have something to laugh about. Just look at that pic of me with the PT, that should give you a good chuckle.
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