Well y’all know when I get really stressed out I sometimes find myself booking a Disney vacation, right? Ope! It used to be that Jerimiah would stop me, or at least slow me down a bit, make me consider other things like vacation days, school days, shit that is important in other people’s minds, not mine. But a few weeks ago when I was all, “Damn dude, I’m feeling like I need to escape to Disney for a few days,” he was all, “Sounds about right.” Did you catch a, “No, Missy! That’s not a good idea?” in there? No, I didn’t either.
It feels like it all happened so fast, but listen this time I was having a hard time booking an actual hotel room. You know we like to stay on property because duh, but we only have about five days because Jackson has a long weekend coming up so we decided to focus in on there. But that’s a quick turn-a-round time for Disney and it’s a holiday weekend so we were not finding anything. Like nothing. All the hotels were sold out. I even went as far as to Google, “Why is Disneyworld so freaking busy?” and I got a bunch of responses but mainly it was that it is their 50th anniversary and people have been actually saving for years to go this year and also pandemic and also life sucks right now and Disney makes it better (for some people. Some cool people.)
But in the end, I called Disney and they made it work for me because again, it’s Disney, and just when you think it can’t happen, something magical happens.
So we leave Thursday for five days and we are staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, which is great because we love New Orleans, but not the actual New Orleans (Jackson spent one weekend there and said he never wants to go back) so we are going to get the whole NOLA experience without the headache of people vomiting on you on Bourbon Street or someone yelling at you from the streetcar or a hotel falling on top of you. It’s a win/win.
For those of you Disney nay-sayers I wish I could say something that made you love Disney, but alas, I just recently stopped trying to do that. I have realized that some families just aren’t cut out for the world of Disney. To the rest of you, see ya at Epcot!
This morning turned out to be one of this mornings where you are reminded that you are human, that other people are human, and that as a parent, you are doing the best you can, and so are your kids. Jackson was all packed and ready to go on his trip this weekend for the Technology Student Association, when I kissed him goodbye and told him to have a great day. Then Jerimiah was headed to the office for an in-person meeting, I swear he only has to go in when there is something chaotic afoot, and he asked me if I wanted coffee because he was going to stop by Starbucks because duh.
Side Note: Our favorite coffee here is a little, local shop called The Corner Cup but it’s on Main Street and they are filming a movie (The Out-Laws for Netflix) on Main Street so we’ve been avoiding it, but then I found out Pierce Brosnan was in it along with that guy from Pitch Perfect, you know the guy he was in The Righteous Gemstone too, and now I kinda wanna go check it out, but that’s neither here nor there.
Okay back on track, Missy!
Jerimiah takes Jackson to school and on the way Jackson orders our Starbucks so it’s ready for Jerimiah to pick up after he drops him off. So he does and as he is headed to grab said Starbucks Jackson texts and is all, “Where is my Covid form?” Sc, sc, screech! So because we live in the time of Covid, there was a parent form to fill out that basically said I know we live in the time of Covid and still I am allowing my child to be in the care of his school district on this trip and if my child were to get Covid, I would not place blame on the school system. Okay, Jerimiah signed the form last night and handed it to Jackson who also had to sign it and told him to stick it in his bag when he was done. Guess which step he didn’t do?
So Jerimiah calls me just as I’m texting him to bring me a yummy bakery item too because it’s Friday and I can handle it. He’s all,
“Is there a Covid form on the kitchen island?”
“You need this, yeah?”
“Yes. And the coffee is ready and I have a meeting at nine.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I dunno. The Audi needs gas and I won’t have time to stop at the gas station, Starbucks, and the school.”
“Can you scan this Covid form?”
“No, he said he needs it.”
“Tell me what you want me to do.”
“Go get the coffee.”
So I load up the dogs into the Beetle Bug because we can’t leave them unattended, you know on account of the Oreo Situation. Oh wait, I haven’t told y’all about the Oreo Situation. Shit. Don’t worry about it, Duke is fine. He didn’t even get his stomach pumped he vomited it all up on the way to the emergency vet. Kind of like me and that time I tried to do 18 shots of tequila for my 18th birthday. Moving on…
So as Jerimiah headed back to the house to get the form, Jackson texted again and was all,
“Ohhh, I left my watch at home.”
Normally this would be no big deal but “my watch” is an Apple Watch and the way he communicates with me when he “can’t” communicate with me, ya dig? Like when he’s in class, or in this case of this weekend, when he’s 330 miles away in a conference and I get the urge to check in on him, at least he can give me a thumbs up that he got the message from his watch and I know he’s alive. Listen, I’m not proud of my worry and anxiety, but we all make do okay?
So Jerimiah gets back to the house before I have even coaxed Winnie into the Beetle Bug. She hates the Beetle Bug and that makes sense, it’s a little car and she’s not a little dog, she’s more an Audi Q7 dog and she knows it and we know it, but what can you do? So I have the Covid form and I’m begging Winnie to get into the Beetle Bug when Jerimiah pulls in the carport and is all,
“Well he forget his watch too.”
“OMIGOD! THIS IS A CLEAR SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE THAT HE IS TOO YOUNG TO BE TAKING OFF WITH SCHOOL TO GOD KNOWS WHERE TO DO GOD KNOWS WHAT!”
I may have overreacted. To be fair, I still did not have my coffee and at this point I did not know if I would ever have it again.
So I go inside to look for his watch while Jerimiah gets the dogs into the Audi, which was no problem because of their aforementioned bias against the Beetle Bug, and then he comes inside and knows right where the watch is and I want to scream, but instead he’s all,
“Why don’t you just come with me?”
At the school we see Jackson walking aimlessly around with his suitcase while his classmates are either: loading the bus or on the phone with their own parents trying to figure out how to get the damn Covid letter that they forgot. To be fair we just got the Covid letter yesterday, so that’s on the teachers. I’m texting him that we are behind the bus. And he’s all,
“Where are you?”
“WE ARE BEHIND THE BUS.”
He runs over all frantic and I give him the form and his watch and the dogs whine because at this point we had to roll all the windows up in the car because there was a Great Dane crossing the street and Duke lost his shit and the Great Dane’s mom gave me a glare like I need to control my dogs and BITCH WHO ARE YOU?!
Then Jackson is about to run off and I say wait, let me get a picture of you and he’s all,
“Oh my gosh, they are LOADING the BUS!”
And at the same time Jerimiah and I go,
“Oh, wow, wow, wow. Oh no. Attitude, bruh.”
Then Jackson is all,
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. This was just all my fault and it’s a hectic day…”
And we are like,
“Dude, it was a mistake. It’s okay, things like this happen. We are not frustrated.”
Which was a lie cause I was legit frustrated but also I did not want him to get yelled at before he gets on a coach bus to head four hours away from me, you know. And Jerimiah and I were in agreement on this. Like there’s no point in ruining out kid’s trip, even just his fun bus ride with his friends, over something silly like this. And we said we loved him and we sent him on his way. Then we picked up our coffee and we calmed each other down and when we got home the dogs were NOT rewarded with a pup cup, and Jerimiah drove the Beetle Bug to work because still no gas in the Audi, and I had a realization:
I’m not sure how other people do it without a kind, loving partner. A real one. One who doesn’t react in anger, like ever. One who’s first reaction is always to listen and understand. A partner who is there through these hectic mornings. Who knows how to keep you calm so you don’t fly off the handle. Who is in 100% synced in your parenting. Who knows that our shit, our shit is nothing compared to keeping our kid physically and emotionally safe at all times, even when those times look like they did this morning.
So all that to just be an appreciation post about my partner? Yeah, kind of. And also as a reminder that if you partner is not 100% your partner, you deserve better. Much better.
Whew. I’m thinking I might go back to bed now. Let’s all get some rest today. Or at least try to with our kids so far away!
Oh also, Jackson texted to say that we could have just scanned the Covid form. So there’s that.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!