Bloggedy, Blog, Blog, Blah

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Sketching

Gratitude journaling came up in therapy the other day. I brought it up. I sort of hedged my bets that she might suggest something like that for me, considering I write. I said something like, “I need a way to work on the anxiety and stress of the day-to-day stuff,” and before I could even stop myself I said the word “gratitude,” then I winced. Patsy didn’t skip a beat, “Journaling, gratitude journaling, isn’t for everyone.” My problem, I explained, is that I am horrible at stream of conscious stuff because I am constantly editing. Not for grammar (as you can see) rather I’m always looking for how I fucked up the writing in some way (again, not grammar) therefore I can never let myself relax enough to just say whatever is top of mind, and then hope I make my way toward the gratitude. Then this here blog came up.

Just last week I explained to a friend that my blog isn’t my “real” writing. My “real” writing is much worse. So count yourselves lucky! My real writing takes AGES to actually accomplish, and puts me in such a tizzy most of the time that I can’t actually sit down to get the words out. This here blog, I explained to my friend and later to my therapist, is like if I were an artist (I wish) and this was my sketchbook.

You know how you always see really cool, artsy people walking around with little sketchpads? In my mind I’m that person. Except it’s my laptop, or my iPhone (yes, I blog from my phone), and whenever something strikes my fancy I jot it down here. That’s why this blog is a hot mess. That’s why the only things you can clearly gleam from my blog are my dislike of our president and the fact that there are no low-carb Cheeto options. Le sigh.

Why am I telling you this? Why do I tell you half the shit I do? To get it off my chest. To put it out there in this private/public sphere and hope that one of you will be all, “Oh yeah, that makes sense, Missy. I like you. You’re alright.” Also to say that maybe what you need to help you relieve stress or anxiety is something you do every day too? Because when I really think about it, this blog helps me with both my stress and my anxiety. It helps me get out what I need to get out, without the feeling that I will be judged or ridiculed for it. I mean this is my blog after all, and it houses my most ridiculous sketches.

So try it out today. Try out gratitude journaling if you haven’t. There is a lot out there about it, and how to get started. Or try knitting. Or try writing. Start a blog! It’s fun. Or make silly YouTube videos, or cook something amazing, use what you know and love to make yourself feel better. I’ll be over here in my corner dreaming about watercolors and oil on canvas. Sketching my day, my fears, and most likely naked, French women. Hey, we all have our thing…

M.

New Year's Resolution

I was back to see Patsy today (for the new people hiding in the back, Patsy is my awesome therapist). She was either booked solid, or away the whole month of December so I had A LOT to talk to her about. There was the pretty low spot I found myself in right after Thanksgiving. There was a whole month of guilt trips from family about coming home for Christmas, there was even the “Toaster” story that I had been saving up for her because I knew how she would react (jaw drop, head shake, a “What the actual hell?”) Oh man, it was good. But before I went back for my hour of emotional torment, I noticed an interesting thing in the waiting room. Lots of people I don’t normally see on my biweekly Tuesday or Thursday morning vists. Like, mainly mature, white men. I was sort of surprised. The five or so minutes I waited I also heard the office staff book three or four evaluations, which made me very happy because mental health is very important and I get the sense, over the last few years, more and more people have realized that.

I know what you are thinking. It’s probably the same thing I thought as I sat there watching people uncomfortably fill out paperwork in the first week of January, maybe they made this a New Year’s resolution? Maybe so. Hopefully. But who cares?! Listen, I know the general feeling nowadays, particularly from my generation, toward setting a New Year’s Resolution. Let’s call it, umm, jaded. And I gotta be honest, I just don’t get it.

What is so wrong with taking a clean, fresh start on a day that literally gives us a clean, fresh start? Maybe I don’t get it because I am a grade A, low-life, procrastinator who has said, “Oh, I’ll just do it on Monday” before. Because Monday is a clean, fresh day. Monday hasn’t been tampered with like Saturday has. Monday has so much potential. Monday will be better.

This got me thinking about the day I was baptized. I was baptized as an adult. I was 30 years old in fact, and it was after a particularly difficult point in my life and I needed direction. And faith. And cleansed. Looking back I should have made a therapist appointment instead of a sitting in a pool of my own filth in a white gown, but you live, you learn. The point is, I felt cleansed. I felt fresh. I felt like I could start over. So I did.

That’s what the new year does for some people. It allows them to shake off the negative shit they endured the year before. It allows them to start over. No one is trying to reinvent themselves from December 31st to January 1st, but they are trying to change their mindset. And what is so wrong with that? Why the jokes about gyms getting hit hard this time of year? Why belittle people for taking a difficult step? Maybe it makes you feel better, and if so may I recommend you get yourself a Patsy?

Because you posting on Facebook how you aren’t “dumb enough to make a resolution” isn’t helping your third cousin, once removed who is battling mental illness make that eval call. It isn’t helping your aunt who has decided 2020 is a year of change and she’s going to join Silver Sneakers. Your jaded opinions on New Year’s Resolutions aren’t helping anyone, unless to serve a few laughs, or help you commiserate with all the other haters. And again, I can give you Patsy’s number. You’ll love her, she’s great.

Here’s all I’m asking, and I’m asking it nicely the first time around: Can you spare a little more kindness? Can you think for an extra second before you share a meme about how the gym is crowded, or the health food store is crowded, or the therapist office is crowded this time of year? Because there are some of us out there who just need a definitive line. A point of no return. A cleanse, before we can take a leap. And yeah, maybe it won’t stick. Maybe by the first week of February my therapist’s office will be empty again, but maybe it won’t. There’s always that.

I didn’t set a resolution this year because I didn’t have a clear one to set, but maybe next Monday I will have one. Until then, I’m hopeful for all of you who did! This is your year!

M.

Bursting of the Bubble

The thing about vacation is, if done right, it can shield you from the harsh realities of the world. That’s what happened to me last week. I was far enough removed from all news sources (I never read a paper or turned a television on) that I had no idea what was happening, and I was blissfully ignorant. In fact, on the way to New York I was uploading a video to social media of me singing a geographically relevant song to my husband (a tradition we *cough* both *cough* love on road trips) when I caught a glimpse of the 82nd Airborne loading a plane in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I messaged our nephew to make sure he was still safely on leave in Kansas City, and he was. He is. For now. That’s all I needed to know at that moment. I fell back into the black hole of vacation bliss.

That was until the train ride to New York City on our last Friday in the hole. My traveling companion made a comment about how she was trying to ignore “Iran” and I desperately tried to ignore it with her. Then a few minutes later I was standing in the dining car with Jackson, loading up on soda and candy, and I overheard a man in a booth saying that our president threatened Iran via Twitter. Bubble bursted.

What’s worse, I thought who would be okay with this?! Who is out there thinking this is fine, and normal, and that we need another war? Then yesterday, when we got home, after we caught a few winks, I logged onto Facebook and I found them. Those people who blindly support our president. Those people who take our military for granted. Those people who forget that we lost 4,500 service members in the long, arduous war with Iraq starting in 2002. Those people. Those people who say, “Oh, you’re scared of Iran? Pft!”

Because yes. I am scared of Iran. Because yes, I am scared of war. And not just because I have a lot of military in my family, but because I can see. I can remember. I can connect the dots of war. I am scared for our people. Our country. Our world. I am scared for the little boys and girls who are 18 years old and being shipped doff to a world they don’t know to fight because our president started a war on Twitter. I am scared for what this will do to our steady-ish economy. What this will do to our children. Their children. Whole generations are torn in war. Do these people really not remember? Have they never read a history book? Are they so blinded by their strict opinions on anything from guns, to abortion, to Fox News that they can’t see past the tips of their noses? The answer is yes. Yes they are.

I know I’m not saying anything new to most of you. Most of you are in the boat with me. Shaking your heads. Checking to ensure your voter card is in your pocket. Holding the cross on your neck. Speaking goodnesses into the world in an attempt to change the track we are headed down. And I thank you. I thank you for all you do, all the time you spend worrying, wishing, hoping, praying. But tell me, what do we do now? Because I am lost in this moment. Lost and wishing for that hole again.

Stay safe out there.

M.

I Can Buy Baby Llamas Now

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Welp, That’s Over…

Listen, I love Christmas, but holy hell y’all, I’m ready to move on with my life. Well I was, until I peeked into my laundry room and saw the mountain of dirty laundry, looked at my to-do list, at our vacation itinerary, realized I have no idea where our passports are, that I don’t have a winter coat, and oh shit, I might need snow boots for New York. You think? Probably. I know my mommies are with me on this one, most of y’all anyway. Some y’all scare me with your year-round Christmas spirit, but most of us breathe a sigh of relief when the stockings have been hung, the cookies eaten, the wrapping paper in the trash can (it’s not recyclable, y’all because it is coated paper), and the house is back to kids playing with their new toys for 24 hours, before they are bored again. I know y’all agree with me because this bad boy showed up in my feed all day yesterday…

Me! Me! Me!

It’s the stress, for sure. The anxiety. All the memos I have to keep in my head. The secrets. Oh the secrets! Every year Jerimiah and I look at each other on December 22nd are we are like, “Do we just open them all now?!” Then we decide we better not, and we wait patiently. We do test runs with how it should all be. We move secret gifts from the creaky attic to more neutral spots throughout the house. We have lost presents.

It’s the worry over doing all the things. The viewing of Christmas lights, the visiting of Santa, and now they throw the Grinch on us, what is up with that?! I have to visit the Grinch now too! It’s the planning of the meal, it’s the constant barrage of family members asking if you will be “home.” “Yes,” my husband said to someone this season, “We will be home.” Our home. Georgia. You’re welcome to stop by. (You gotta set boundaries with family members like this y’all, or your Christmas spirit will be yanked from you. Have the conversation twice, then stop. Ignore the texts and the guilt, it’s not your fault, you’re doing your best. Yeah, I’m giving myself a pep talk here.)

It’s all over now. Well sort of. I’m still getting the guilt texts, but guess who doesn’t give two shits anymore, because I am in vacation planning mode. Which coincidently was part of our Christmas and anniversary gift to each other, a trip, somewhere we want to go. Somewhere we have never been before, for pure fun. Merry Christmas to us!

So, there it is. It’s over and you can breathe a sigh of relief. We made it another year. Another Christmas. Another round with Elf on the Shelf. Another meeting with Santa Claus. Another Christmas dinner. Another going from feeling like a shitty mom to the best mom, all in 12 hours. Oh Christmas, you’re the ultimate guilt trip.

Take a break today, y’all. Sit back, sip some wine, tell your kids to leave you alone for thirty minutes, turn your cell phone off, and pat yourself on the back because you made it. And that’s over. For the next 11 months.

M.

I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whew. Okay. Whew.

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

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

M.

Six Million Minutes

Today my husband and I have been married for roughly six million minutes. I gotta be honest, five minutes with me can be difficult, ask around. I can be selfish, and whiny, and incredibly hard-headed. I cry a lot. I have low days and high days, and I never really know which it will be until I’ve had my first cup of coffee. And lately, Christ, lately I’ve been battling a case of the killer blues, mild anxiety, and a bad bout of insomnia wherein I creep around the house at night, making small noises and whispering, “Ope, ‘scuse me” to the dog when we bump into each other prowling, scouring, for scraps of dinner.

Six million minutes, give or take a few. Jesus, that’s a lot of minutes of me. And he’s still here. Still buzzing around my ear telling me I’m pretty, even when I am braless, in an oversized “granny” sweater and shorty-shorts that don’t fit anymore, and I haven’t shaved my legs in weeks.

Six million minutes, give or take a few, and he’s still giving me back rubs when I ask, pretending that he isn’t bothered when my rough feet brush up against him at night, still smiling when I scream, “FUUUUUUCK!” after I’ve dropped the ketchup bottle again, and this time it exploded.

Six million minutes, give or take a few, and my husband is still reminding me that I am capable and smart. He’s still reading everything I write. Still laughing at the pictures I take of our son sleeping, or our dog sleeping, or himself, sleeping.

Six million minutes, give or take a few, and he still laughs at the jokes he’s heard 1,000 times. He doesn’t even stop me to tell me that he’s heard that one, or seen that meme, or read that part. He just smiles and nods his head while I tell him again about that one time I mixed up olive oil for coconut oil.

I’ve had six million minutes, give or take a few, to be the wife of this lovely man. To this man who bestows gifts upon me for no reason. Who says things like, “No, seriously, what do YOU want to do tonight?” Who takes me on trips around the world. Who loves me unabashedly. Whose only goal in this life is to provide the best life for our son and me.

Six million minutes I’ve had. And it’s tough sometimes, I’ll admit. Because that’s what marriage is. There are blue skies, there are storms. Believe me, we’ve had our fair share of both. But for the last six million minutes, walking beside this man, I know I can weather any of those storms. And I know, know for a fact, that there are always rainbows afterward. I’ve learned that in the last six million minutes.

Thank you, my dear. For being a man among men. For always doing what is right, even if it is tough. For standing up for those who need standing up for. For listening. For loving. For understanding, or saying you do, even if you don’t. Thank you, my dear for being worth every minute. Here’s to millions and millions more. I’m the luckiest.

Cheers.

M.

Making Friends

Over the weekend we went to the Ponce City Market in Midtown. Ponce City Market is a really cool building reuse. It used to be THE Sears and Roebuck in Atlanta, and now it’s this hip shopping center, with restaurants, offices, lofts, and a mini-amusement park on the 10th floor roof. It’s connected to The Beltway, it has awesome artwork, and Santa and the Grinch were not here there to visit with. Honestly, this trip deserves its own blog post, and I will get around to it, but today I wanted to share a story from that night.

On the rooftop at “Skyline Park” Jackson met a kid about his age on the “Tower” ride, which is essentially just one of those rides where you get buckled into a seat with a partner, then use the rope to hoist yourselves up even further into the sky. It was a big hit. After riding the tower about ten times, they switched to the three-story slide. All the rides and games are unlimited for a $15 bracelet, and we spent a total of about five hours there. When you factor in a meeting with Mr. Claus, ice skating, and checking out all the cool artifacts in the old building, Jackson was beat by the time we left.

But, right before we headed for the old service elevator to take the slow ride back down, Jackson got this look of panic in his eyes. He sort of froze where he was and looked nervously at us. I thought for a moment that he’d lost his prizes that he’d worked so hard to win at the “Break A Plate” game, so I quickly checked my purse to see if they were still there. They were. We asked him what was up.

He was running his palms together as he said, “I dunno. I just… Umm… I feel like I want to give my new friend my phone number, just in case, I don’t know, he’s ever what’s to meet up here again.” Jerimiah and I looked at each other for a split second of indecision and then said yes! Go give him your number.

Jackson has his own phone. I know, I know. He’s 11 and that’s too young and your kids won’t have a phone until they are 18 and okay, yeah right, good luck with that. But seriously, he has it because my anxiety, as we all know, is through the roof at times and when he wants to stay at home alone while I run to the grocery store, or when he goes to a friend’s house to play, or even when he just walks a couple aisles over at Target, I need to know I can call him. (Or at least track his phone.) So yeah. We do let him give his number out to kids, mainly friends at school who also have phones, but this was the first time we allowed him to give his number out to a new friend, and honestly it was a bit scary, but the lesson was worth it.

Listen, it’s hard as hell to make friends. No one can tell you that more than me, an introverted, awkward, 30-something who hates small talk, but loves a good “My hamster died when I was 10…” story. And I’m nervous, always have been and always will be, to give my number out to new people. I’ve felt what Jackson was feeling a gazillion times, even just exchanging numbers with the other room parents. It’s scary for some of us, y’all. And he was nervous, but Dad and I said to go for it.

So he nervously walked back outside to the games to find his friend. He asked me to come with, so I did. We wrote his number on a receipt paper, and Jackson approached the boy. He nervously tapped him on the shoulder and the boy turned around and smiled. I was out of earshot, but I could see what happened. The boy took the paper, smiled, and waved as Jackson ran back to me, then the boy stood up and stuck the paper into his back pocket, as Jackson turned around to give one last wave.

On the way down on the elevator Jackson was still nervous. You could tell he went way out of his comfort zone, and he was replaying what happened. We let him have a few moments, then he smiled and said, “He took my number.”

“Maybe he will call,” I said. “Or maybe not, but you were brave dude.”

“Thanks,” he said, and he rode the elevator down in anxious smiles.

Listen, making friends isn’t too hard when you’re a kid, but as you age it gets so much harder. And most of the time it’s because we are so worried that someone will reject us, that we just don’t try. We gotta stop doing that, y’all. Relationships are worth the try. And maybe Jackson’s new friend will never call. But he did something brave. Something that scared him. And he came out the other side. And that’s a win in our book.

To something brave, y’all.

❤️

M.

Coffee and Wine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

I Would Drive 15,000 Miles…

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

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

Then there was the trip to Texas.

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Here Comes the Sun

My Mental health NP tells me that I need sunlight. She wants me to get a UV lamp for my desk. She says about 10,000 Lux will work. Referencing a study done by the Mayo Clinic, she informs me of the benefits of Light Therapy—in connection with Seasonal Affected Disorder—of which she piles on top of my other diagnoses. She tells me how Light Therapy can help, how the side effects are low. How it’s about intensity, duration, and timing. I smile politely and assure her that I am getting enough sunlight. She asks how I can be sure of that this time of year? I interject, “My soul is filled with light, Suzan.” She writes me a script for more Klonopin.

Hang in there, y’all. The sun will be back shortly.

M.

Did You Take Your Pills?

Back in October my mom came to stay with us for a month. One afternoon, early on in her visit, we went to a food festival and it wasn’t super fun. I was stressed out by the crowds and the fact that no one, not my mom, my son, nor my husband knew what they wanted to eat, or didn’t want to eat. For the first half hour they just followed me around in a line, in the middle of this crowded place, and relied on me to pick food for them, to find somewhere for them to eat, to get the tickets, to choose the vendors. And finally I fucking snapped, as one does from time to time. I sat my mom and son down with a hot dog and a soda, and I grabbed my husband’s arm, took him away for a minute and said, “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, DUDE?!” He realized then that he needed to step up and help a little, but he was overwhelmed too. Why we thought that was a good idea, I’ll still never know, but we learned a valuable lesson that day. We just can’t bite off more than we can chew.

That night I was feeling better. We had come home and relaxed, planned some activities for later in the week. I was treading lightly because my mother often tells me that I treat her like a child, say for instance when I grab her arm when she steps off of a curb. I do this because she suffers from neuropathy, and well, that’s never going to get better. She needs a cane, but she refuses. So instead she hopes she steps correctly when she steps off curbs and such. If my sister grabs her arm, my sister is helping her. If I do it, I’m treating her like a child. Then again, if I don’t grab her arm, then sometimes I am “being mean” to her. It’s a lose/lose situation with my mother. It always has been. I’m used to it.

So there I was, throwing ideas out about things we could do, but I was being mindful of a few facts. Like for instance, my mom can’t sit still for too long because she says it hurts her back and joints. She also can’t walk for too long because of the same reasons. So I am careful when planning things, not too much walking, or at least places to rest. Not too much sitting, long plays are out. As I was offering things, she was not giving me much to work with. I kept asking, “Does that sound like fun?” and she kept saying, “Whatever you guys want to do.” So finally I told her that, no, it wasn’t whatever we wanted to do, we have to account for a lot of things and I want to make sure it is something she can handle doing. That’s when she looked at me, dead in the eye and asked, “Did you take your pills today?”

I was taken aback, quite frankly. Because when someone asks, “Did you take your pills today?” what they are really saying is, “I think you are being crazy, and maybe if you took your pills you would feel better.” So I asked my mother what was bothering her. I asked her this because I have had enough therapy to know that she was projecting. See, my mother has pills she is supposed to take every day. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, but she won’t take them. She thinks it’s the kind of thing you can skip doing for weeks at a time, which means they will never help her, because no, that isn’t how those pills work. And even if I had missed a dose of my pill that’s okay, because the pills I take stay in my system, they build up every day. That’s how those kinds of pills work. I know this. She knows this. It’s all common knowledge.

So my mother did a very my mother thing and went into a tirade about how I am mean to her. About how my sisters don’t treat her this way. About how she just can’t handle me and my “ways.” I suspect my “ways” are honest, adult, conversation. I ignored that, because it is the best thing to do, and I went on to explain that asking someone if they “took their pills” is incredibly rude and she needs to stop saying it. She went downstairs in tears and probably called my sister to tell her I was being mean. I’m beyond moved by any of that at this point.

But this is maybe something you all need to know. Some of you anyway. Well, two things really: 1. It’s not okay to ask someone on medication for mental illness if they in fact took their pills, unless, they are so low down, that you are honestly afraid that they haven’t been taking their pills and that they are to the point where you should be seeking medical attention for them. And even then, it should only be to someone who you know, and love, and that you are in this fight for, or with, every day. Like my husband could ask me that. He could ask me that and really mean, “Have you given up on yourself, because I haven’t.” But when my mother says it, she’s just being mean.

And 2. It is completely okay and necessary to tell people this. To set boundaries with your family members and friends. If someone is routinely asking you this, in the manner that is mean or uncaring, just to prove a point, rather than to the guts to say, “You know what, you’re being a little wonky right now, let’s talk” then you need to tell them that it is mean and that they need to stop. This is not the only time when this is okay to say to someone. Boundaries are very important and you should not feel uncomfortable about setting them.

A couple of days later my mom said she asks my sister this a lot when she is “being crazy.” I asked her if my sister got upset when she said it and she said no. I assured her that yes, she probably did, but that she won’t tell her. My other sister, I told her, probably would get mad. That’s when she told me she likes to say things to that sister to make her mad sometimes, she finds it funny. So yeah, that’s the kinda mom I’m dealing with. I know I usually only share cool, funny stories about my mom, but trust, it’s not all cool and funny. And I’m sure your relationships with your parents or family members aren’t all cool and funny too. And when it’s not, then try to help them, and if they don’t want the help, then leave. You don’t need that shit. And they will learn. Or they won’t. And either way, at least you can say that you tried.

Go forth and set boundaries today, y’all. It will help, I promise.

M.

Merry and Bright

Saw this cartoon today at the New Yorker and I felt it. Felt it with all my being. I’m sure some of you are feeling this too. I’ve had four days with my husband in two weeks, and it’s bothering me. It’s bothering us both. One whole day was spent at Jackson’s Robotics competition and one whole day was spent with me in deep sadness. Sleep until noon, sulking, sadness. Dejected. Apathetic. It’s Christmastime. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, damn it, why do I not feel wonderful?!

I go back and forth with depression. One minute I think it’s the most selfish thing in the world. The way I am, the way I treat my family, the space, and time, and energy I need to feel better. Then I’m reminded that this isn’t a choice. I’m not waking up everyday saying, “Let’s make today shitty, Missy!” On the contrary. I will myself to be positive. To stay upbeat. I drink a bunch of coffee to try to stave it off. I make a to-do list. I plan a walk or a coffee with a new friend. Then something trips me up. This month it’s been my husband’s damn work schedule. It’s been having him gone in the busiest two weeks of December. It’s been him missing activities he wouldn’t normally miss. It’s been watching my son’s heart be broken when daddy has to get on a plane again. And I know, I know, this is temporary. Shit, I know. It’s a mantra I created my damn self, in a hospital bed giving birth to a dead baby. It’s temporary. This is all temporary. But Jesus it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

December is a tough month for a lot of people. Dare I say most people? How it got this whole “Most wonderful time of the year” tag has to be some good Hallmark marketing. I mean shit. Come on you guys. We do this to ourselves. The pressure of this month is something we created. And how on Earth can you feel wonderful when there are kids without shoes walking around? And how can we feel wonderful when there are mommies and babies without food in their bellies? How can we feel wonderful when Santa doesn’t make it to whole neighborhoods? Whole schools? Whole communities? The most wonderful time of the year. Hmpf.

As you can see I’m still in the pits. The storm is still raging. I’m trying to write my way through this one, so I won’t be offended if you haven’t stuck around. I get it. Believe me. You’re looking for funny, slice-of-life shit and I’m all, “Feline AIDS is the number one killer of cats…” womp, womp, womp. Believe me, I’m looking for joy too.

Cause that’s really how we combat this time of year. The grief that sets in. The crowded stores. The parties you don’t want to attend. The people you only see once a year, for a very distinct reason. We combat it by finding, and often times manufacturing, our own joy. Maybe that’s what’s so wonderful about this time of year? Maybe it’s that all this horrendous shit is still happening, but we can somehow hit pause for one day, maybe two if we’re lucky, and pretend it isn’t happening. Maybe it’s the feeling of standing on a mountain, right when the second big snow is coming, and no one is around, and the world is completely still, and the only thing you can hear is the tap of the snow falling on the frozen ground. Maybe it’s the peace you get from that. The calm from that. From something. Maybe.

Those of us with kids, kids who still have that Christmas magic in their heart, are the luckiest ones. We are still shaken awake at six a.m. on Christmas morning with anticipating faces. We still have to run down the stairs on very little sleep, stand in awe of what Santa has brought. We still unwrap gifts in a hurry, pounce around the living room in our pajamas, make wrapping paper forts and crawl under them. Laugh. Eat chocolate for breakfast. We find our merry and bright, even just for a few hours.

Those of us fortunate enough to not work for whole weeks at a time. Those of us who can sit with our families and put big, complicated puzzles together by the fireplace, or drink wine leisurely at five p.m. on the 23rd. Those of us packing up after Christmas and hitting the road. Vacationing to see friends or family. We are the ones who can hit pause. We are the ones who understand “happiest time of the year,” and sometimes when we are down in the pits, like I am now, with no real reason except that this happens sometimes, what is coming ahead is all we have to look forward to.

A friend said to me the other day that my feelings, my emotions, and my sadness right now are all valid. She said this after I was comparing my life to people who have it much worse off. We do that, don’t we? We go, “Well, it could be worse.” Sure it could. It could also be a lot better. And it will be one day soon. And on that day we will remember this one, and we will try not to take too much for granted. Until then, let others be merry and bright, our day is coming soon.

Take care of yourself, it’s only a little longer now.

M.

Writing Through It

I’ve been attempting to write my way through this bout of the blues. I’m feeling a teensy bit better today, but I think it’s because my husband has been home for three days. He leaves again tomorrow, and today is usually the worst day. The day before he travels. Because the day before he travels I try to smush in as much as I can. And that’s difficult on everyone. It’s difficult because we all know what I’m doing. And we all know why I’m doing it. And it makes it stressful. And to top it off my own anxiety is off the charts right now. Because depression doesn’t come without its host of friends.

The stress comes first. Always. The stacking up of things that I have to do. The mounting list of activities, parties, meetings, events. This month it’s Christmas cards, and gifts to those far away, the logistics of travel, the breaking it to the family that we won’t be there again, but hey, guess what, we’re traveling to see friends for New Years! People we want to see, are not compelled to see. That’s sits well, I’m sure. The dreams come fast and furious in those moments. The stress dreams. My mother yells at me in those dreams. My husband’s plane goes down in those dreams. Sometimes, in those dreams, I am a server and I am double, sometimes triple sat. And I’ve just been told we are out of hamburgers, or french fries, or beer. I have no pens in my apron. My hair is a mess. I burned my hand on a plate. The other servers call in. Yeah, I still have server dreams, 12 years after I served my last plate. Jesus, that’s when I know things are bad.

The stress leads to anxiety. Those plane crash dreams become part of my waking life. I check his arrival and departures times. I start to Google the plane he will be on. When was it last inspected by the FAA? How many passengers does it hold? I track his flights the whole time he’s in the air. I start to think that my actions are affecting his fate. If I flip out on someone driving down the highway today, then maybe that will upset the universe. Knock her off her tilt. Worse yet, what if all my anxiety and worry, my Googling of the plane, wills the crash to happen. What if I am responsible for my husband’s own plane crash? Yeah. This is real life, y’all. My real life.

I get crazy. And then the crazy turns to sadness because I am just so fucking tired of being crazy. I cry in the shower because why does this have to happen to me? I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do. I go to the therapist. I get my vitamins and my l-Methly Folate. I’m taking my meds the right way. But it doesn’t help. My brain is still off kilter. My brain still works in a different way than other people’s and it’s not fair. But Jesus I can’t go down that “It’s not fair” route, because if I do I won’t get out of bed today. So I press on. I just do so with my mind in a million different pieces, which makes it hard to fully invest in anything. That’s when I start knocking things off my list.

That friend that wants to meet for coffee. I text her and tell her I can’t. I don’t explain because she’s a new friend, and she can’t know yet what I’m like. If she knows, she will run. I postpone that meeting about that party I am planning. I tell a friend who wants to FaceTime that I have an event so I can get out of it. If I FaceTime this friend it might help me feel better, but at this point I don’t want to feel better. I don’t deserve to feel better. I have to ride this downward spiral down, all the way down now. I am committed.

Because at some point I go on auto-pilot. I’ve been in this spot a thousand times before. I watch sad documentaries and listen to Adele. I turn my phone off so I can say, “I didn’t see your email,” and really mean it. After I pick Jackson up from school, I tell him that I have a headache, and I lay on the couch with a blanket, and I let him play video games for three hours straight. At some point I realize I’m being pathetic, and I make it up to him by playing video games with him, or at least making him a grilled cheese sandwich. Then the next day it starts over again.

It’s tougher than I thought, trying to explain what happens in your head. Tougher because I don’t have the words to explain it better, and tougher because when I see it written out like this it does, actually sound crazy. I’m ashamed of what happens. How the wiring in my brain works. How one thing leads to another, even worse thing. But it’s my truth. Something I live with, and yes sometimes I get so upset by my life being this way. By the way my brain works, but I also know that I am not the only one with messed up wiring, and I know that many of us have lived in the shadows for too long. Assuming that we are too messed up to have a meaningful life. To be loved. To love others. So I’ll keep writing, if you’ll keep going. And together we will wait for the good days. The good weeks. The good months and years. And trust, there will be some.

Be kind to yourself today.

M.