Our Daughter’s Birthday

It’s that week. The week where I want to stay in bed and cry. Eat all the carbs in the house. Think about the what might have beens. The could have beens. The should have beens. I should have a daughter who is celebrating her 10th birthday this week. I should be showering her with gifts. The candy she likes, the stuffed animals she loves, her favorite doll or her favorite video game. Laughing in the evenings while we cuddle with the family and listen for the 10th time as we share the story of her birth. Instead, last night Jackson and Jerimiah and I talked about the girl we thought she would she been.

Jackson thinks Lydia would have liked Minecraft. Jerimiah thinks she would have liked whatever her big brother liked. I think she would have been too much like me to handle. Of course that’s the should have, would have, could have beens at work. The very real fact is that our daughter, from the moment she was conceived, had very real problems. Had she survived her birth she would probably not actually be here to celebrate her 10th birthday. The daughter we had had a chromosomal disorder that if she beat the 10% survival odds, would have been wheelchair- bound, unable to care for herself, unable to feed herself, let alone play Minecraft. Our daughter was never the girl we think she should have been, could have been, would have been. But her small, short life has surely impacted a great many people and that is the reality. I need to keep that in mind moving forward this week. I have to, so that I can indeed keep moving forward this week.

Sending love and light to you all. I hope you can move forward this week too.

M.

Silver Linings

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

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

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

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

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

I was published in Litro in June.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Only Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Shine On

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Holy Guacamole!

This is not a post about guacamole. It is also not a post about rhyming words or avocados that have made their way through seminary. This is in fact a post about nothing in particular. Like a Seinfeld episode or when I sigh heavily and Jerimiah looks over to see what is wrong and there isn’t anything wrong but I did feel the need to sigh heavily and I can’t explain it but after I sigh heavily I feel better. That is what this post is about. Nothing. But also things. Feeling better maybe. Or not feeling so bad.

I’ve been watching The Golden Girls a lot lately. I’ve also been working on working on myself. Like I haven’t actually been working on, say, my confidence or stress, but I have been making lists about how I could work on my confidence or stress if I ever wanted to. That seems just as actionable. I know it isn’t, but come on, you’re not my therapist. Patsy is.

I mentioned The Golden Girls because that show helps me take my mind off stresses that seem to find me wherever I am. Like when I am getting all upset because a family member is being a real bitch, or when a random stranger on the internet has told me that I need to smile more, or when the Supreme Court is hearing a case about abortion, I just turn on The Golden Girls and pretend like it is 1987 Miami and I am a 60-year-old woman with a tight perm and disposable income. It helps for a bit.

This post isn’t about The Golden Girls though, or I would have named it, “Picture This…” It’s not about a stranger on the internet or a bitchy family member even though, lord knows I have a few of them around right now. This is about all the other things. The fact that I am turning 40 in a few months and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. The fact that my son is steadily heading into 7th grade and growing and I can’t stop any of it. The fact that people I know and love have lost their mind. Just lost it, y’all. Like, it’s gone, somewhere between “The vaccine has microchips in it” and “I just like to drink my problems away.”

This post is about my problems, others’ problems, shit on my mind and in my heart.

It’s not about guacamole, so please stop asking.

Take care of yourself today.

M.

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How to Reach Herd Immunity

We found out this week that Jackson will be eligible for the vaccine soon! In fact the CDC is meeting today to approve (fingers crossed) the emergency use of the vaccine for 12-15-year-olds and we are eagerly awaiting the news. Until then we have been discussing how this might help get us closer to herd immunity, which seems like something that we will never reach as a country. That is sad and a bit scary, but at least we know that our closest friends and family trust science and the process and they will be safe and protected. As for the others, well we will be sending them good juju each year and shaking our heads in dismay behind their backs.

Anyway, Jackson said the other day that if we would just, as a country, start calling it “The Trump Vaccine” and promise to Fox News watchers that it was just bleach being injected into them, they might do it! We all laughed and laughed at this, then we got quiet because well, it’s the truth and that makes us sad. Then I said, “Throw in a coupon for a free Filet-O-Fish and it would be a winner!” More laughter. Because you know, laughter eases the stress. Which is why we have come up with more ways to reach herd immunity, for laughter purposes only, please do not try at home.

Ways to Reach Herd Immunity Quickly

  • Give away leftover MAGA hats
  • Two for one shots (Viagra and COVID) in men’s bathroom at the airport
  • Let the My Pillow guy do the branding
  • Slip the vaccine into “Long Island Iced Teas” at all Florida bars
  • The words: “Trump, All Lives Matter, Vaccines” in one flag that fits perfectly in the back of a Ford pick-up
  • Offer it up in low, easy-to-make, monthly payments via HSN
  • The SlapChop Guy becomes The SlapShot Guy
  • Sell it at cost to mini-capitalists interested in becoming the next #PharmaBro
  • Give away free suitcases of Busch Light with every injection
  • New banner at CVS: “Every vaccine fights funds the police!”
  • Give to all women who have been hit on by a married man
  • A military parade if we reach herd immunity by the 4th of July
  • Promise microchips in the shot that links to your bank account to send $12/month to the Trump 2024 campaign
  • Buy three AK-47s engraved with “Fuck Masxs, I Got Vaxed!” and get one free with proof of your shot
  • Let Texas secede as long as they get vaccinated
  • “Jesus was Vaccinated!” Stickers
  • Hold “Fight ANTIFA” rallies, require them to get vaccinated at the door
  • Give sex workers authorization to administer the vaccine

Disneyworld was a Success!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and sane!

M.

Vegetarian Uprising

At the end of last year I had my cholesterol checked and I was surprised to learn that it was kind of high. It had actually never been as high as it was then (240) and the only thing I could think is that I have been eating low-carb for awhile, which had been helpful in shaving off some weight, but obviously shot my cholesterol up. My doctor was not pleased considering she had told me not to do that. Eek. She said Keto and the like is not a good way to diet and that people are “just obsessed, but don’t understand.” Now listen, I was by no means doing “Keto.” Mainly because I don’t do any “diet” well. But I had backed off most carbs and was relying on protein from meat too much, I can openly admit to that. So I asked her what to do and she said, “Go vegetarian if you can” and then I laughed and laughed.

Then two months ago Jerimiah and decided to try it and well, it’s been really super easy and we don’t eat meat anymore and what the hell is happening in my life?!

Whew. Okay, deep breathes and I’m kind of lying because sometimes we still eat salmon. And by sometimes I mean we had salmon for dinner twice in two months, so sure, I guess call us pescatarian or mainly vegetarian or crazy or whatever you want but I feel so much freaking better that I am actually like why did I not do this decades ago?!

To be fair it was an easy transition now on account of all the meatless options out there. Options that just weren’t there two or three years ago, let alone decades ago. Options that also have Jackson going “mainly” vegetarian with us and so we are all benefitting. We also did it in stages. We didn’t just totally change the way we eat. Last year we started eating off our “small” plates, which are the “lunch” plates. We moved the dinner plates out of the cabinet. This was to work on portion control. Once we did that, we started filling more veggies, then cutting the amount of meat down and down and down, until now, well I had broccoli for lunch yesterday. Broccoli. That’s it. That’s all I had and I was full and I had plenty of protein.

I think being at home all day every day, not eating at a restaurant in over a year, and really being generally pissy about having to feed ourselves food all day everyday has helped tremendously. We’ve also cut way back on drinking alcohol, we have maybe a glass of wine a month now, and if we could somehow give up coffee, then we’d be all set but who are we even fucking kidding. That will never happen. But then, I guess we should never say never.

In fact, the hardest part has been trying to figure out how we will one day have to tell our family back in Kansas City that we don’t eat Burnt Ends anymore, thankyouverymuch, can I have the veggie plate. Hmpf. That might take some time. But for now we will work on kicking our salmon habit (have you watched Seaspiracy?!) and please, if you have any black bean burger recipes send them our way! Talk about yum!

M.

Whew

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

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

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

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

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

Jerimiah and I had our second covid shots last week.

We leave for Disneyworld in a week.

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

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

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

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

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

My mom is doing okay.

My friends are checking in.

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

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

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

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

Be grateful. It helps, I promise.

M.

Damn, Y’all

Damn we can’t catch a break this week, y’all. First it was the crazy white man who murdered Asian women because he “had a bad day,” then today I woke up to storms knocking the trees outside, and an Amber Alert wherein an Uber Eats delivery driver was working at 2 am, had her baby with her asleep in her carseat in the back, and her car was stolen while she ran the food up to the door. The baby was nowhere to be found for 10 damn hours which is 10 hours longer than a baby should be, lost, away from her mother. A mother who is literally trying to make ends meet by delivering food in the middle of a stormy night. And the kicker, the kid that stole her car was a baby himself. A 14-year-old! A. Fourteen. Year. Old.

Sigh.

It’s tough this week. It’s tough for a lot of reasons, but these two in particular.

The baby is okay, y’all. She’s safe. She was found 10 hours later on a woman’s front porch. The woman didn’t know. She heard a knock on her door and answered it and there was a passerby standing there to tell her that they saw a car stop, drop the baby in her yard, and drive away. She recognized the baby from Amber Alert, thank goodness, and she was taken to the hospital and reunited with her mom.

I imagine the 14-year-old’s own mom had a hand in this. I’m sure the 14-year-old had no idea there was a sleeping baby in the back of an Uber Eats car, and probably freaked out. Rightfully so. I hope he learned a lesson here. And I hope other kids thinking about trying to make a quick buck or go for a joyride will think twice now. All we can do is hope.

I woke up today with a little hope, but it was quickly sucked out of me after reading the news and it’s been hard to get back.

We went to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and got vaccinated today. That was good. That gave me hope for about an hour. But the whole time Jackson and I were grabbing our phone for news alerts. He got the Amber Alert too, and for awhile this morning he sat silent after asking me who would take a baby. When we found out it was a kid he could be in school with we were even more shocked. The whole day was just, bleh. Just bleh.

Jackson ran upstairs tonight to tell me they found the baby and we were incredibly relieved and we hugged each other. Damn it, y’all. Just damn it.

The murder of the Asian women isn’t so easily resolved. Today we found out that the Sheriff who spoke at the news conference yesterday. The one who blamed the white, male terrorist’s actions on “a bad day” peddled racist shirts earlier this year. It’s all around us. Especially here in the South. There are honestly people saying that racism had nothing to do with it. Honey, learn how racism works. How it infects. How it spreads. Then get back to me. The very fact that this maniac fetishized these women, assumed they were sex workers, the very basics of this whole thing, rests on racism.

Ahhhhhh!

Okay, well I’m a sad sack tonight, obviously. My heart hurts for so many people. People I know, people I don’t know. People in my community and not in my community.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Tuesdays

Real* conversation that just happened in my house:

Me: What day is today?

Duke: It’s been 55 days since Trump left office.

Me: That’s not helpful. Is it Tuesday?

Duke: It was a Tuesday when the lying Liberal Rev. Warnock stole the election from Kelly Loeffler and the whole Democratic Party started a coup to take over the White House.

Me: You gotta let that shit go, man.

Winnie: (singing) Let it go, let it go…

Duke: I wish I lived in a house that understood the specific concerns of a French poodle whose belief in American democracy has been shaken to its core.

Winnie: (singing) Can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go…

Me: Who threw up on the floor?

Winnie: (singing) I don’t care what they’re going to say, let the storm rage…

Duke: I saw on FoxNews that some Biden/Harris supporters were breaking into people’s homes and vomiting on the floor.

Me: The actual fuck, Duke?

Winnie: The cold never bothered me anyway…

*These are my dogs, but still. All true.

Ditch Witch and Other Things

The neighbor Dale and her husband Old WhatsHisName had a Ditch Witch up and running at nine in the morning. On a Saturday. Listen, I like Dale and Old WhatsHisName, but mostly I just like their dog Cookie. She’s a chocolate lab and she’s beautiful and friendly and she likes to play tug in her front yard with her favorite rope toy and she reminds me of my dearly beloved, Bentley, whom we had to put down two years and some change ago on account of her arthritis and her slow doggy dementia. She was nearly 14 years old and sometimes she forgot who I was, but mostly she sat at my feet and watched squirrels out the window and listened as I read her bits of essays and stories and she always, always let me cry into her neck fat. Dale and Old WhatsHisName are sort of afterthoughts. I like their dog so I tolerate them. I listen to Dale tell me stories about how she used to live in Charlotte too and really she didn’t like it as much as I did being a make-up exec is hard work and do I ever use eyeliner, because I have beautiful blue eyes, but…

The Ditch Witch at nine am was a bridge too far. Especially because I didn’t sleep well last night on account of it being week eight of my semester and why does everyone suddenly need me to do something for them and yeah I’m aware that I need to make some important decisions about residency and candidacy and my thesis in the upcoming weeks and when is the last time I cooked dinner for my family and hey they are opening school back up and Jackson is too afraid to go and I agree especially because a custodian in the district just died from Covid, but I mean half of the teachers are vaccinated and MAP test scores don’t really matter much this week and maybe we should just keep compounding this mom guilt on top of wife guilt on top of whatever it was that made me give that cash to that woman today in the Sam’s Club parking lot.

So the Ditch Witch sprang to life at nine am and I rolled over to my husband all, what the actual hell is that and he said how should I know it sounds like some type of heavy machinery and I knew right then that Dale and Old WhatsHisName were doing some yard work because about a month ago I was violently awakened from the loud diesel noises of a wood chipper from Sunbelt Rentals.

I wish I had a point. And I was drinking a glass of wine on a beach somewhere all alone. I feel all alone all the time, but it’s not possible because I am with my family all the time and I love them dearly and also I need a fucking break and a vacation and someone to tell me that it will all be okay. I know that it’s usually me reminding you all that it will all be okay, and really I know that it will, but sometimes when you haven’t been sleeping and your medicine is making you sick but you have to keep taking it or you’ll really get sick and you have no means of escaping this life that is really actually quite beautiful and you are thankful for it so much but that sometimes sucks like it does for all of us right now in varying degrees you just have to get on your old blog and yell about Ditch Witches and neighbors who really aren’t that bad and things that are absolutely outside of your control and some in your control but you that you don’t have answers for and you have to say your dead dog’s or your dead kid’s or your dead dad’s name because it matters at that moment.

That’s all I’m saying.

Damn it, y’all. It will get better and I love you and you have pretty eyes and you don’t need eyeliner but if you want to use it then use it because you are responsible for your own happiness and one day when we can hug each other again I’m gonna hug you so tight you might have a hard time breathing but you won’t mind cause you’ll get it. I hope you get it.

M.

Going Higher

“When they go low, we go high.” Damn you, Michelle Obama! Yeah, I know, I know, take the high road. But taking the high road is sometimes hard. I do know that it’s better to ignore the people and things that want to bring you down. I know that it’s best to “walk away from trouble,” as Kenny Rogers says, when you can. But come on every time?! Can’t I get into a little trouble?

In all seriousness I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve been struggling to turn my brain off and to keep my mouth shut. I’ve been lying awake at night thinking about all the things I’d like to say to some people. Mean, rude, hypocritical people. Sometimes it’s Texas senator Ted Cruz, sometimes it’s the bully from 6th grade..

When I can’t sleep I just rehearse over and over again in my head. I find their email address or their home address. I write an imaginary letter to them in my brain. A letter I convince myself I’ll actually send. A letter telling them exactly what kind of person they seem like. How they’ve hurt me. How far I’ve come regardless. In spite of. Maybe I’ll make a personal dig at them just for fun. But then at some point I’ll hear Michelle Obama’s voice. She says, “Missy,” she calls me Missy. “Missy,” she says, “when they go low, we go high.”

Damn you, Michelle.

I’ve written, deleted, and written this paragraph about three times. Each time I started to explain a situation, a particular person who is making me upset now, go into detail about what I want to say to them, but I keep deleting it because Michelle Obama says I should. So I do. It’s healthier. It’s better. It used to be that I took great pride in my ability to use my words to make people feel incredibly small, when it required it. But now I’d rather use my words to elicit change, to bring people together, to remind people that we should want the best for each other, even those who may not like us.

We do have to keep doing this, y’all, going higher. I know it doesn’t always feel right, but it’s important. If we stop going higher, who will? If we stop being the bigger person, the kinder person, it won’t suddenly make them better people. It will just make us like them. We will be the people we don’t like and it will make us feel crappy. It hurts our heart and it’s counterintuitive to forgiveness. So we press on, going higher and higher, keeping our mouths closed but our hearts open.

M.

Rest

“Rest is a requirement, not a reward.” I read that sentence the other day on some random, encouraging Instagram account I follow and I realized that this is what I’ve been trying to convince myself of for several weeks now, but it’s actually a really hard thing to do. To convince yourself that you need to rest. That it isn’t you shutting down or not dealing with things, it’s actually a requirement for life. Why is it so tough? Especially for women. Probably because we tell ourselves if we are resting then we aren’t productive. And if we aren’t productive who will get all the things we’ve convinced ourselves that needs to get done, done?

I haven’t been sleeping. At first I thought it was because, you know, life, but when I mentioned this aggressive non-sleeping that’d I’d been having to my Rheumatologist she said, “Oh, it’s the medication.” Turns out some of my medication can cause this to happen. It’s considered an “adverse side effect,” as it’s not terribly common, but can happen to some patients. So she promptly took me off of it, and said it might take a couple of weeks to get back to normal. I felt immediate relief.

I don’t mean I started sleeping better, rather I felt relieved to know there was a reason. I found it easier to give myself a bit of grace when I felt sleepy in the afternoons and went to lay my head on the pillow because it wasn’t “my fault.”

Last week I was struggling with the idea that when I did this, when I relaxed, even if it was just to curl up on the couch with a book (a book I was assigned to read for school) I still felt like I was just being “lazy.” That’s what I told my therapist Patsy it felt like, laziness. But the truth is, it’s not laziness. I just have to work on shifting my mindset.

I don’t need a reason to not sleep, so why should I have a reason to sleep? To rest? To read a book? Why should I make myself fill bad for giving my body and mind something they need when it’s been working overtime lately. Between a global pandemic, an MFA program, a pre-teen, two rambunctious dogs, a partner, a house, a newly-diagnosed autoimmune disease, a shocking family realization, more grief to top it all off, and the pressures of you know, everydayfuckinglife, I can cut myself some slack sometimes. And you can too.

My friend dropped a book off to me the other day that one of her friends wrote. I haven’t dug into yet, mainly on account of all the required reading I’m doing, but I have skimmed it. It’s full of beautiful poetry, but more importantly it’s full of encouragement. Encouragement to give yourself permission to do the things that you need to do in order to keep going. And it sort of sings to me.

So go easy on yourself today, y’all. Let your mind and your body tell you what you need and listen, damn it. No hard feelings toward yourself.

I hope you have a lovely, love-filled weekend.

❤️

M.

This is Us

I’ve been gone, I’m sorry. Or maybe I should say, I’ve been gone, you’re welcome. Depends on who you ask, but the fact of the matter is that I have been gone. But not gone, here, all along. I’m contradictory today which is normal, but also abnormal. You see what I mean? I have been so very busy with the first few weeks of the semester starting up again and really everyday I wake up and I think this is the day that everything will normalize. I mean, Kamala Harris is our Vice President and we have two democratic senators in Georgia and the vaccine is slowly, but surely making it’s rounds, yet here I am, still stuck. Still with all this, what? Baggage? Anger? Sadness? Bleh.

I woke up this morning to the news that AOC shared her Capital story and I watched it on Instagram and I was even more sad, and scared, and angry. Have you watched it yet? If not you should. You should watch the 88-minute video of her telling what happened, don’t just read the headlines. You can skip large parts of her telling people hello and what not, but watch a good 45-minute chunk in the middle and at the end. It’s sad and scary and real. It is really us. It is really America. And it isn’t good.

I don’t really care how you feel about AOC. I’m a big fan of hers and appreciate her and hope that she continues in politics on a more national level, but even if you think she is smug, or too progressive, or too (insert reason to hate a woman) you probably will still find something in her story, in her life, that you can relate to and hopefully that will help make you see that we are all connected. That we all have stuff. That we are all bruised and broken and come from the same places inside.

I don’t really have too much more to say on it, actually. We are a mess. We are in need of someone to help us, to listen to us, to show us that we are not alone, to push us to do more and better things. And to love us. That is what we need.

It’s what the people who stormed the Capital need too. During and after their prison time. Because we also need to be held accountable for our actions. Without accountability we will not grow. Without accountability, love, support, and connectedness we will stay those sad, bruised, angry people.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

PS… That bitch Marjorie Taylor Greene needs to go. With love, from Georgia.