New York City

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

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

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

Okay, pictures as promised. Just pictures.

Take care. Thanks for sharing in the memories!

M.

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

Catch-up

I promised yesterday that I would catch y’all up on my life and so here I am keeping my promise. I’m just as surprised as you are! I’m like a politician with promises, usually. I campaign hard on a couple of them and only squeak out one, but since I only promised this one to y’all then well, vote for me? Okay, okay, get to the good stuff, Missy. Right. So I didn’t post in the entire month of September which is frankly, crazy, but for good cause I promise. I turned 40 last month and my mom was here visiting for like five weeks, FIVE WEEKS, and we went on two vacations and school started (I started thesis this semester) and well is that enough? No? Okay, my kid turned 13 on October 1st, which as you know having just dealt with my 40th birthday and the breakdown that came with that, then realizing my little baby is now a teenager, whew. There were some dark days, y’all. Dark days.

But I’m back and almost normal now and although I still have thesis and finishing my MFA to deal with, my mom is safely back in Kansas, having joined us for a trip to NYC which was fantastic! She’d never been before and I so wanted her to experience it all. It was on her bucket list and helping her tick something off of it at 77 years old felt rather wonderful. Of course, I didn’t do it for me or for people to tell me how great I am (insert eye roll) I did it because I enjoy spending time with my mom and taking her on new adventures. It’s an added bonus to experience something like NYC with someone who has always wanted to go and who never thought they’d have the opportunity. I love that even at 77 years old, hard of hearing (though her new hearing aids are great) and with vision problems, she is still up for anything. I can see where I get my adventurous spirit from!

Aside from the trip to NYC I also got to celebrate my 40th with my best friend, Rachel! Her birthday is just a few days after mine and my mom’s birthday is the day after hers so we all met up at the halfway point between Atlanta and Kansas City for a weekend of fun! The halfway point was, however, Evansville, Indiana. Ha! No offense to my Indiana friends, it was better than expected. Waving to you in Bloomfield, Jessica!

Then there were all the other things I’ve been contending with, you know normal life stuff. Like how Jackson is too liberal for our family (that’s a whole other post) and how we might have to move again for Jerimiah’s work, and my dogs, oh lort, these dogs. Anyway, I’m uploading some pics for your enjoyment over the past month of my life. I hope you are all caught up now. I’ll be around again, just don’t expect too much from me, ya know?

Stay safe and sane.

M.

Rachel, Mom, and me celebrating poolside.
Mom’s birthday at our house.
Jerimiah had a huge, all-day work event that ended up being righteous.
Took Mom to Coke World downtown!
Jackson turned 13 with a kick-ass backyard bash with his bestest friends!
Took Mom to Charlotte for the day to see my nephew Alex, his wife and new baby! I can’t share pics of the baby, but I can share all the new pup pics I want! So here you go, this is Helios!
Pitstop in DC on our way to NYC!
I’ll totally write a whole post about NYC at a later time, but this feels like the money shot.

Silver Linings

I have this problem where I can’t move past something until I write about it. It’s a bad problem to have, especially when you are in a writing “funk.” A “funk,” yeah let’s call it that. As in I haven’t written anything substantial since early-May and even then it was just an assignment for class. it ended up having a tiny shred of something that could be more, but still, when you’re in any kind of funk, writing or otherwise, it’s hard to see the silver lining. So here I am, back at the old blog which I have apparently dismissed after my year of writing everyday. I think maybe it became more like a job last year and that made me hate it. I’m rambling now.

I’ve had kind of a shitty summer. There have been silver linings.

I got to go to residency in person. I got to meet my awesome friends whom I only knew digitally before. There’s something pretty magical about sitting in a room with people who think and write and drink like you.

Then there was my two-week trip to Kansas to see my family and best friend. It didn’t start out as a two-week trip, but that’s what it ended up being when I felt the need to stay. That was a first. The first time I ever felt called to Kansas to recharge. I suspect it was the stress from my residency showing itself.

In July we went to Florida for a week with friends to celebrate Jerimiah’s 40th birthday. I planned this all, to be sure, and because of it was under immense pressure for the first several days to make sure everyone had a good time, even though I explicitly told them to make their own good times. In the end I said fuck it, these people are adults and can do it on their own, which means I actually did enjoy myself quite a bit. Doing what I pleased, when I pleased. Jerimiah had a good time too, especially on the actual party day when we drank fun drinks, played outdoor party games, and ate lots of food!

I was published in Litro in June.

I was offered a chance to write my first book review this month.

I got to watch my son enter his middle school building for the first time, all masked up, and excited.

I got to celebrate the man I love turning 40 years old.

I got to see friends I haven’t seen in over a year (some much longer!)

Jackson and I got to spend some time traveling together. We even did some of Route 66!

I got to help my mom with all the things in her house she has been wanting to accomplish.

Those, I think, were the silver linings. There were other things to be sure. There was the overcommitting I did to start the school year off. “Sure, yes!” I said so many times. It felt good to be back at it, you know? To have some sense of normalcy. You want me to be on the executive board of not one, but two middle school organizations?! ME? Sure! It has all caught up now and I’m feeling overwhelmed.

There was the car accident. Look it wasn’t anyone’s fault, not really, it was a total accident. Everyone was safe, meaning they all walked away. Though there is some trauma for sure. My car was totaled, but I didn’t really like that car so much anyway. The most important thing was everyone was safe and there were lots of lessons learned. I for example, know that when in an emergency situation I am a “flight” kinda person, while my best friend and husband are both “fight.” Which is probably why they are my best friend and husband.

Then there was that thing that is nagging me. That thing I have to spill out of me or I won’t feel right. The disappointment I feel from a summer of seeing people for who they really are after a year and half of imagining who they are. Who they were. It’s startling. It’s hard. Geez it’s been a tough year and a half. And it doesn’t seem like it will get any better. Because of that I have told myself repeatedly that I need to show grace, just as much as I need to ask of it from people. But repeatedly this summer I have been disappointed by the actions of others. I have come to see flaws in people that I never noticed before. Jerimiah and I are at a loss. I’m sure people are thinking the same thing about us. What has happened to us over the last year and a half? As Americans? As people?

Personally we realize that the two of us have done a substantial amount of growing into who we are. Who we are meant to be. We have become more eager to do what makes us happy. To be around people who make us happy. To not waste more time than we need with with people and situations we do not like, that make us feel uncomfortable. If I have to spend one more second with a straight, white, male that turns everything into a competition, y’all, I can’t. I won’t with toxic masculinity anymore.

And just like that people that you like, that you love. Family members. Close friends. They start to slip. And maybe, probably, it was our fault. Probably we put them on a pedestal. We thought wow, they are great people. But the truth has surfaced for me this summer and I no longer feel like some of the things we thought were great about people, are in fact that great. It’s a shitty realization to have, but it’s the truth. So now what? Gotta look for those silver linings I suppose. Always keep looking for those silver linings.

I’ll leave you with a few of my silver linings now.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Only Child

Y’all how are you? Like really, how are you doing? Me? Ehh. I mean I’m still on vacation, coming up on the end of my second week in the midwest. Still in Kansas, as it sits, headed to Oklahoma tomorrow for the holiday weekend, then finally I will be sleeping in my own bed again sometime next week, nearly three weeks since I left it. I didn’t intend to be gone from my lovely bed that long, but things happen and I’ve gone where I was needed. Meanwhile, Jerimiah has been at home fielding the chaos that is in Georgia, including a slipped disc in his back, an eye infection (they think he picked up some bacteria while we were camping a couple weeks back) and a dog that doesn’t have Kennel Cough (because she is vaccinated against it) but that also might have Kennel Cough. So there’s that.

In short, this has been a hectic summer already and it feels like it’s been a long summer. Almost like it’s the summer that won’t end, and it’s only July 1st! Weird.

So I’m not here to talk about any of that today, what I am actually here to talk about I have already covered with y’all before but it is time to bring it up once again because this week a family member made a comment to me that made me all sideways and I can’t get it out of my head.

As you all probably know Jerimiah and I are proud parents of an amazing 12-year-old son. He’s our P1 in this life and pretty much all we do is for him, always has been, always will be. You may or may not know that we lost a daughter in 2011. Her name was Lydia and she had a chromosomal disorder and she was “not compatible with life.” You also may not know that for many years after the loss of our daughter we struggled with infertility. We tried many things, all the things really, short of IVF which is incredibly costly and in our opinion not worth it considering that money could be spent on the adoption process if we were so inclined to have another child. In the end we decided to be happy with our one and only child and we moved forward with life.

I tell you all this to remind you, nay demand of you, to stop commenting on the number of children people have. And yes I mean don’t say, “Wow! You have six kids that’s a lot,” but also stop saying, “You only have one?” or “Well only children are THAT way,” (whatever THAT way is in your mind). There are many, many reasons not to comment on the number of children people have, but most importantly it is simply none of your business and chances are you are doing nothing to help them in any way, rather just coming off as a judgy asshole.

You only have one? Is my least favorite question in the whole world because it implies so much, and it shows how very little someone knows me. And if the person asking knows me so little, then why are they even considering how and why I have only one child?

So this family member this week was not happy with me (long story) and was making some realizations about my kid, as in my kid is not the way they think a 12yo boy should be (remember you can’t manage other people’s expectations) and they made this comment, something like, “Well, he’s like this because he’s an only child.”

Now this particular family member knows all too well about what we have been through, but couldn’t stop themselves from saying it. (Insert eye roll). I am choosing to think they did not consider the implications in saying that to me. I am choosing to think they were just being reactionary and that eventually they will come around and apologize for their error. I am choosing to think this will happen so that it might assuage my frustration, but who knows if that will ever come to fruition.

Instead I am hopping on here today to remind you all to be mindful of your words. Words have consequences. Maybe not to you, but what you say to other people can greatly change the way they love and respect you. And if someone says some jacked up shit to you, please hold them accountable, y’all. Too many people are not held accountable for their words and they will never learn to stop and think before they say things unless we force them to.

Now go forth today and do good things. Or lay in bed and watch Netflix all day, same, same. But don’t let anyone say something to you that brings you down, but if they do make sure you hold them accountable.

M.

Shine On

Hey y’all. Whew, this sentence is proving hard for me to write. Write. Write. Write. I have not been writing for about two months now and this might be the longest time I have done this in years. I’m stuck. I don’t want to call it writer’s block because I think that’s a weird, made-up term. I think it’s stress. Stress makes me not want to do anything. Stress and anxiety clog up the whole system for me. The things I need to be doing like writing and working out suddenly stop and instead I sit in my pajamas all day and watch Teen Mom OG. Don’t get me wrong Teen Mom OG is great and really helpful in showing you that your problems are in fact not so bad, but it also prevents me from dealing with all the things I need to be dealing with. This creates a cycle. A cycle of not writing, not working out, not taking care of my mental health, then hiding from people. I really wanted to break that cycle last week so I packed up my car and kid and drove home for a few days which means I’m writing this blog post, my first one in a couple of months, from my best friend’s couch in Lansing, Kansas. But still I am not feeling whole. Rested. Rejuvenated. In fact, I feel like I am paddling hard against a current that is inevitably going to take me under. Wow, what a sad sack I am tonight, y’all. Then again, I never really promised y’all a rose garden anyway so no offense, but you need to quit your bitching.

Hmm, scolding y’all makes me feel a little better. Thanks.

I’m not even sure what I want to say here other than sometimes the things we love to do, the people we love to be with, the places we love to visit, the moments we look forward to give us experiences that we can hold deep in our hearts for sad days when we can pull them out, dust them off, hold them up to shine for us, even those days, experiences, people, and places are harder to see when we are actually living them. That feels weird, I know, but it’s the truth. Sometimes our own heads get our hearts all twisted up. The day to day of living breaks us away from our gratitude, from our love, from our search for the sparkle, from ourselves and we wind up blogging incoherent sentences at midnight on a Sunday in the middle of the midwest.

Which is to say, let’s try to stop. Stop spinning ourselves up. Stop stealing our own joy. Stop overthinking everything. Stop and relax and thank each other and ourselves for where we are right now. Or at least go and eat some peanut M&Ms in your closet while the world keeps spinning all around you.

Take care of yourself and let’s talk soon, okay?

M.

Disneyworld was a Success!

Hey, hey, y’all! We are back from our first real vacation since the pandemic and I gotta say, I am feeling relaxed and wonderful! I was so nervous about taking Jackson to Disney, but had only heard great things about how they are operating and it all turned out to be 100% true. So if you are on the fence about Disney, or are looking for a place to travel where masks are mandated and the rules are strictly enforced, look no further than Disneyworld!

I’ll start by saying that Disney keeps their numbers close to their chest, so I can’t find the real numbers, but it looks and feels like they are operating on about 30-50% capacity at any given time. We never waited longer than 45-minutes to ride a ride even in the line after we made the queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance! Great ride, by the way, and I’m not even a Star Wars fan!

The lines is all spaced so that you are six feet apart at all times and they have moved them mainly outdoors. Of course Disney has a strict mask policy and you cannot be in the parks or at your resort without a face covering. You should also note that they require your covering to be at least two layers, so no neck gators for instance, and yes they enforce that too. I saw a guy leaving Disney Springs because all he had was a neck gator and he did not have a second mask. They DO NOT give you a mask! They simply turn you away at the gate to go find an appropriate mask on your own. Which is appropriate. Be an adult, assholes.

Their mask rule applies to children over two-years-old and I watched a family vehemently deny that their obviously preschool-age child was only two they were stopped to be told she needed a mask. That is the number one change I have seen at Disney. The cast members are always so happy and friendly, but cross them about a mask and you are going down! When the dad said, “How do you know she’s not two?” to the cast member the cast member said, “Because I have eyes. Put a mask on her if you want to stay at Magic Kingdom today.” And that was that. Daaaaamn, Gina!

The only time you can have your mask off is when you are stationary and either eating/drinking or taking a picture. Guarantee you will be “caught” if you are walking and sipping your Starbucks. The cast members pop out of nowhere and say, “Hi, please put your mask on to continue enjoying the park today!” Then poof, they are gone. Like magic! I seriously wish Disney cast members were all over this great country of ours right now!

The rides are separated to keep parties from each other by a row of seats, but on some rides like Splash Mountain your party is just given their own boat/car because there is no way to safely do it. That was fine by us! For roller coasters it is normal, just because you are mainly outdoors, masks always have to be on when you are on the rides, and well, you know the air doesn’t really linger around you when you’re zooming around Test Track at 70mph! Still rides like Tower of Terror you are spaced apart and there is plexiglass. These pics are all below!

We stayed on property at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and had a great time like usual. We hit the pool a couple of afternoons (you can be maskless inside the pool gates) and then did four days of the parks, one day we got to bring my mom along! She was vacationing in North Carolina with my sister and brother-in-law that week when unfortunately my brother-in-law had a death in the family and so they left NC and drove to Florida for the celebration of life. They ended up being an hour from us, so we were able to drive up Saturday night and pick my mom up and bring her to Disney on Sunday! That is a story in and of itself, one that I will share later, but a note would be that my 76-year-old mother had never been to Disney and it was a lifelong dream of hers, so I am glad we were able to do it! And like all other things, Disney was wonderful and so very helpful in getting her around. With their help, and the rental of a wheelchair, she was able to visit three parks in one day! Amazing!

So that is the quick Disney experience. I just wanted to share because I know some of you have been thinking about it and like me were a little concerned. Fear not! They have it on lockdown there and things are running smoothly, like usual. Just in case you need a little more incentive, here are some pics of our awesome time!

Take the trip, y’all (if you are fully vaccinated), buy the ears and the pineapple whip! It’s worth it.

Stay safe and sane!

M.

Whew

I have been walking around for weeks now saying, “Whew” and making animal-like noises or holding a long sigh, or shaking my head in disbelief like a cartoon character. Seriously. I’m sure my family thinks I am tad bit crazy, but I am and this semester has really done a number on me and more than one time in the last month I have yelled, “This is bullshit and I don’t want to do this anymore!” Then I keep doing whatever it is I am doing. Because the truth of the matter is it isn’t just grad school that is knocking me down, it’s life. And it isn’t just me that is repeatedly being knocked down by this life. And some days it feels easier to stay down then to grab hold of something and hoist yourself back up, and then other days you pop right up by using just your own abs, still there are other days where you throw your arms out wildly trying to grab hold of someone else to stop you from falling. Or maybe it’s to bring them down with you? Either way it isn’t your best day and you know that.

What are you saying, Missy? I’m not 100% y’all, but I think I am saying I know what you are feeling right now because if it can happen to person it has happened to one of my family members, friends, neighbors, cohorts, or me in the last month.

I’ve witnessed a loved one lose their partner, their driving force, to cancer. I have listened to a friend desperately try to save her marriage. Waited for news about a grandma in the hospital, a child battling Covid. I have watched more gun violence in my community. I have went to bat for people who come to find out didn’t deserve it. Worried for a friend and a new job prospect. I had an icky reaction to my covid shot. I have been told that I am not a good person from people who have no idea who I am. I have watched heartache on the news, and heartache on my street. I’ve spent so much time trying to not worry, trying to make everyone happy, trying to be involved, but not too involved. Trying to stay connected to people. I have worried about what the next year will look like. If I am safe and comfortable doing things that were so normal and easy a year ago. I have lived my life on that thin line between anxiety and hysteria and I keep pushing back against toppling over that line and don’t like it.

If any of this is resonating with you, then it’s probably time we both take a step back. Stop spinning for a moment. Breath in, then back out. Focus on some good. Watch some doggy videos. Take a hot shower. Plan a trip. Look for the goodness that is still out there. I know it is. It is in your life, just like in mine, but sometimes the not so good tramples over everything else and we are left with those bleak feelings. Very bleak.

What has been good in your life? I’ll go first.

Jerimiah and I had our second covid shots last week.

We leave for Disneyworld in a week.

I have started planning J’s 40th birthday, and so far it rocks.

Jackson was invited to stay in the STEM program for 7th grade because even though he’s a virtual kid still, his grades, attitude, and personality shine through the screen.

Did I mention the new baby? It’s a girl and she’s my great-niece and she’s healthy and happy.

There is one week left of my semester and I start my thesis in the fall and all that is squared away and as of right now my grades in all four classes are: 126%, 100%, 107%, and 100%. I’m doing okay.

My dogs are becoming socialized and barking less at the mail carrier that they see every, single, day.

My mom is doing okay.

My friends are checking in.

My husband and son love me and show me in little ways every, single day.

Did I mention our first vacation in more than a year is next week?!

Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for today? How are people showing up for you? I hope you have a hundred things on that list, but if you don’t, if you can’t conjure it up today, don’t worry. Don’t get down on yourself. There’s always tomorrow. And I’m always around. You know where to find me. And if I’m not there it’s probably just because I’m crying in the shower. I’ll be out in a minute…

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

Be grateful. It helps, I promise.

M.

Seattle to Alaska

Listen, don’t ask why but Jerimiah and I were in a small dispute today about whether or not you could successfully navigate yourself from Seattle to Alaska in a “reasonable” amount of time. Now “reasonable” means two different things to us. “Reasonable” to him in this situation means wake up, eat breakfast, drive to Alaska, go to bed. “Reasonable” to me in this situation means wake up, eat breakfast, drive for a bit, see the “World’s Largest Fish” on State Highway 52, go about thirty miles out of the way to see the Fish Market and any pertinent filming locations for “The Goonies,” then grab lunch. Then head out of the US into British Columbia, where we rent skimobiles and explore the wilderness. That night we stay at an adorable bed and breakfast where bacon and maple syrup pancakes wake us in the morning.

The next day we drive for several hours along the coast, then stop to take a cruise on a whaling ship, wherein I am allowed to stand on the bow of the ship while a Killer Whale jumps over us “Free Willy” style. That night I compromise and we stay at a cabin in the Yukon.

By day seven we have seen most of the coast of British Columbia and are ready to start our twelve hour drive up toward Anchorage, where we spend several weeks exploring the city and the area all around us. At some point I ask Siri, “Hey Siri, how do I get to Russia from here?” It’s at that precise moment that Jerimiah loses his shit and starts screaming about with this amount of time and money we could have seen “ALL OF EUROPE!” and then I ask Siri, “Hey Siri, how do I get to Ireland from here?”

Yes Virginia, you can get from Seattle to Anchorage in a “reasonable” amount of time, either 42 hours of straight driving or three weeks of fun. The choice is all yours.

M.

Andalusia: Part Two

Flannery O’Connor was an odd bird, pun intended. She once took a census of her Peafowl (plural of peahen and peacock) and she stopped at forty. Forty. She also hated classical music, stating that, “All classical music sounds the same.” True that, Flannery. But there was one particular song she liked her mother to play for her on the piano. It became somewhat of a party trick. When their house was full of guests, just after dinner, Flannery would open the hand-stitched peafowl curtains, and her mother would play this song, the name escapes me now, but the notes were so sharp that the peafowl would come running into the front yard screaming at the top of their lungs. So yeah, Flannery was my kinda lady.

As a child Flannery had a penchant for dressing her pet ducks up in little costumes that she made herself. Her mother, worried about her daughter’s odd behavior but was assured by many that she would outgrow it.

There were many small trinkets throughout the house, but the majority of the knickknacks were birds of some kind. Chickens, ducks, doves, and peafowl.

Bookcases and birds. That was the extent of Flannery’s bedroom. She kept a tight ship with all the rest. Her bed, desk, and chair were all within an arm’s reach so she wouldn’t need to rely on her crutches when she got around. Her bed was a single, with one small quilt on the top, and a cross next to the cradle Catholic’s window. Make that bookcases, birds, and God.

At one point she moved an armoire in front of her desk to shield her mother from her usually habit of slamming though the adjacent door when Flannery was trying to write, of which she did every day from the from between the hours of nine am and noon, just after a two-hour mass, just before she went into town for lunch. Because she refused to write looking at a window on account of possible distractions, as one might assume with 40 peafowl roaming, she didn’t mind staring at the back of the armoire when she wrote.

There are two peafowl at Andalusia now, Ms. Shortley and Astrid. They didn’t much care for me, and I for them. They are a particular bird, with a certain opinion of themselves that I did not share. Funny, peculiar, opinionated. The birds.

M.

Discovering Andalusia: Part one

I finally did it, I finally made a visit to Andalusia, Flannery O’Connor’s farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. It’s been on my list of places to visit since I found out about it a few years back, and it turns out to be about an hour and a half from my house now that we live in Atlanta. I’d planned to take a day trip over the spring, but Covid set me back, and it wasn’t until I had this looming Flannery O’Connor project for school that I decided to buck up and go. It turned out to be a lovely visit, with a knowledgeable docent and an all around pleasant , albeit warm, morning and early afternoon.

It’s just now apparent to me that I have so many pictures and so much to share, that it would probably be best if I told this in parts. So let’s get started.

I left Atlanta alone about 9:00 am, as I couldn’t talk Jackson into a trip to a dead writer’s house in the middle of Trump-Country Georgia on an unseasonably humid Southern day. Weird, I know. But it was best. I can’t say he would have enjoyed sitting on the front steps re-reading Good Country People, as much as I did.

I got to Andalusia just about ten minutes before the hourly tour started. It was very easy to find, just a straight shot down I-20, then onto Milledgeville Highway. There are ample signs the closer you get.

Traffic was light, and the drive was relaxing, even with the alarmingly high number of Trump signs I saw. These were my favorites…

The American flag really sets them off, huh? Basically, I could tell I wasn’t in Atlanta anymore. I had my windows down and was enjoying the nice back country roads vibe of Milledgeville Highway, until a man at a stoplight rolled up in a big lifted Chevy, looked over at me and said, “DeKalb County, huh?” With a cackle. I was waiting for the banjos to start as the light changed.

A little while later I was safely on the Andalusia grounds, where one would assume big Chevy truck guy was not headed.

Andalusia was gifted to Georgia College by the O’Connor estate in 2017, and since then they’ve been working hard to restore the farm. The house sits right off the Highway, just about a quarter-mile down a quaint, tree-lined dirt road, and although I had looked at pictures before going, I was still a little surprised at how nice the farmhouse had been kept. It’s quite pretty from the outside. And sets you at ease, putting you to mind of the old farm houses you picture your great-grandmother growing up in. Well, if she was a wealthy, white, Southern woman that is.

It’s getting late, and I have some tea to sip on the porch, so I’ll leave you here, with some more pictures of the outside of Andalusia, where after the tour I enjoyed some quiet reading time, while a noisy hawk nested on the large tree beside me (they most know birds of all kinds are always welcome at Andalusia), before heading back to the safety of the city.

Enjoy!

M.

Just a List of Beaches

Feeling like I deserve to be on a beach today. Feeling like I want to be on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, or maybe on the rocky shores of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Perhaps walking along the water with my friend Beth in her small town in Rhode Island or laying on a water trampoline off the coast of the British Virgin Isles as my son bounces around me. Yes, any of those would work today. Instead, I wrote my name in the sand on the side of the road, while I walked incredibly close to my neighbor’s sprinkler to get hit in the face, like when the waves come at you out of nowhere. Yeah, that’s a thing I did. So today, in honor of me wanting to be at a beach somewhere, here are a list of beaches I have been to that I would love to go back to again, right now, at this moment. Any of them will work, because at this point, let’s be real…

  • Maho Beach, Sint Maarten
  • Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Lullwater Beach, Panama City, Florida
  • Emerald Isle, Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • E-Beach Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia
  • Ocean City Beach, Ocean City, Maryland
  • Pitcher Point Beach, Gulfport, Mississippi
  • Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida
  • Huntington City Beach, Huntington Beach, CA
  • Playa Pena, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Juniper Point, Salem, Massachusetts
  • Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas
  • Coronado Beach, Coronado, California
  • Whitecap Beach, Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Newport Beach, Newport, California
  • Beavertail State Park, Jamestown, Rhode Island
  • Sandbridge Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Ocracoke, Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • Biloxi Beach, Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Cypremort Point Beach, Cypremort, Louisiana
  • Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, North Carolina

This is not an exhaustive list. We are beachgoers. Always have been, always will be. So many more to see. So many more to dream about. One day. Where would you go if you could go back to one of your places?

M.

The Ozarks

Dollar General and Jesus. Lakes and guns. Fishing and methadone clinics. Oh my! We just got back from the Ozarks yesterday and I wanted to share some pictures I took while I was there. I’ll let you form your own opinions about where exactly some of these were taken, but I’ll give you a hint: Very near Arkansas. It’s important to keep an open mind about what is beauty up there, but some things you just have to see to believe. Glad to be home. Hope you’re all well, let’s touch base about our mental health tomorrow, today take a gander of some of the wonders of the Ozarks.

M.

Jim Bakker’s home! Is it two “K”s or three in Bakkker?

Heading Home

We’re heading home today. I’d normally say we are heading back to reality at this point in a vacation, but this time reality never really left us. Or maybe it didn’t leave me. I was keenly aware, all day, everyday, of the realities of life. That masks were necessary, and that even in outdoor events, social distancing is key. It wasn’t part of the original plan to leave so soon, but plans change. You get new information, you make educated decisions. Our new information came like this: 1. Jerimiah was suddenly thrust into a large corporate deal (think a bidding contract worth millions) that he needs to be “present” for. “Present” here doesn’t mean in actual person, as of now anyway, but there’s a chance. He does need high-speed internet though, an issue we’ve been battling out here in the country, and he needs a shirt with a tie, and some semblance of an office (he’s currently working with a large, blow-up dartboard behind him). 2. This global pandemic isn’t going anywhere. Not sure if you’ve seen, but uhh, it’s here to stay awhile, and things are changing daily. A week ago, the state we live in (Georgia) was “steady” and the state we are currently in (Missouri) was on the decline. Now, two weeks later, things have changed drastically. Covid-19 is running rampant again, in both states, and the truth of the matter is I need to be at home, socially distancing from others, in the safety of our bubble, with my immune-compromised husband and my asthmatic kid. It’s the only way. The way of life here is too lackadaisical, and that’s okay for some people, but not for us. The risk, in this case, is not worth it.

So goodbye Table Rock Lake. Goodbye family! Thanks to those of you who were able to visit with us. Thanks for self-isolating for a couple of weeks, thanks for taking our safety concerns seriously. Thanks for the late-night talks, the boat rides, the floating and laughing and singing. Thanks for the best version of a summer vacation we could ask for this year, hopefully we will see you all soon, but if not that’s okay. Your safety, our safety, the collective safety is the most important, and besides, one day life might be back to normal, isn’t that neat? Something to look forward to!

M.

Summer Lovin’

Had me a blast! Summer lovin’ happened so faaaaast! You know the rest. We’ve been watching movies before bed. Sometimes we just fast asleep to “Fresh Prince” or “Bob’s Burgers,” other nights we’ve been introducing the kids to classics like “Teen Wolf” (“Is this supposed to be a comedy?”) and “Uncle Buck” (“What is wrong with that guy?”) and we’ve been talking and thinking about other movies to watch. Rachel and Madi brought their projector with them, so we are trying to decide what to watch for a fun movie, double feature outside one evening, and there is some disagreement. I say we watch “Twister” or maybe “Dirty Dancing”, while Jackson says we should just watch John Oliver, and Madi is like “What about a scary movie?” Yesterday Jackson suggested “Beetlejuice” as a compromise, hellbent that he’d never seen it before. Face to palm. He’s seen it. We watch it every Halloween along with “Hocus Pocus” and “Casper the Friendly Ghost”. This child of mine…

“Grease” came up in conversation however and everyone sort of nodded their heads up and down. “Oh yeah, ‘Grease’ that’s a good one.” Madi has watched it, but Jackson hasn’t. How have I failed him in this manner? Is it as good as I remember? I haven’t seen it in literal years. A decade or more maybe. And I’m in this weird space where I think he will like the cool cars, but does it hold up like the other movies? I’ve been disappointed recently by some old favorites.

So who knows. I’m throwing in the towel. Or maybe it’s caution to the wind. Or maybe it’s none of those things. I’m on the hunt for the perfect place to stick the projector, the rest will work itself out. Fingers crossed the right movie shows itself, and fingers crossed my kid won’t be afraid, or sad, or snapping his fingers while he greases back his hair and sings, “Summer lovin’ had me a blaaaast…”

M.

Hashtag Blessed

Woke up this morning thinking that I’m too stressed to feel blessed. You read that right: I’m too stressed to feel blessed. My stress level is off the charts. I’m not home during a global pandemic. I’ve got my kid traveling all over, seeing people who have not been taking this pandemic seriously. The lack of masks, social distancing, and isolation here is crazy. People are totally pretending like the numbers aren’t spiking. They think wearing a mask is sufficient. What the what? I want to be back at my house, alone, ordering my groceries again. I’m scared. I’m stressed. And if you aren’t, you are not paying attention.

Don’t get me wrong I’m having a good time, occasionally. Occasionally I forget that the world is a shitbag, upside place. Occasionally I drink so much wine with my husband and best friend that I forget. Or I’m on the lake, enjoying a boat ride. Like yesterday when we rolled up at the marina to get gas and snacks. It’s called “What’s Up Dock” and it’s cute, and lively, and had all the gas, Sprite, and potato chips we needed. They also has a ton of people. People walking around aimlessly, asking about jet ski rentals, and trying on “Table Rock” t-shirts, buy one, get one free. For a split second I forgot about Covid-19. It all seemed so normal. So free. So every, other summer of my life. Then I remembered.

I saw a bumper sticker on a car coming up here: “Too Blessed to be Stressed.” I smiled and thought, wouldn’t that be nice.

M.