Quiet Time

I woke up yesterday from immense pain that my doctors have not been able to control just yet, but they are working on it. Anyway, when I wake up in that sort of pain I have to get out of bed and sort of start my day. It’s kind of like how when I was younger and my mom would go out in the mornings to warm up her old 1972 Dodge Cornett. We didn’t have a garage and this was back when it still snowed regularly in Kansas, and the car would have to run for a bit, get all of its bits and parts warmed, or we wouldn’t have heat, might not even make it to school and her to work without a jump start. My body is kind of like the old Dodge now and it isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t great.

So when I got up yesterday morning, it was so early the family was still asleep and I made coffee and took my morning ibuprofen, with food of course, then I sat down in the silence and started working on the family Christmas puzzle. We do a puzzle every Christmas season as a family. It sits on the kitchen island and whenever someone has some time they sit and work on it. This year it’s a Charlie Brown Christmas puzzle and the edges are almost done thanks to Jackson and me. Anyway, I got bored with that after the pain finally went away and so I sat to talk with Jerimiah who in the time it took me to get Snoopy’s feet together, had woke up, worked out, and taken a shower. He was sitting down at his desk when I meandered over to the dining room table to chat.

His office is right off the dining room so we usually sit, him at his desk, me at the dining room table with the laptop and get caught up on the morning news for a bit. Yesterday morning however I skipped the news for a coloring book that was on the table from the night before and I picked up the colored pencils and went to work on a geometrically-correct llama. Then suddenly I was transported back to fifth grade.

My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Coughran, would read to us every day after lunch. I think she called it “Quiet time.” She knew we needed a bit of a break, so we would filter into the classroom, she would saunter over and turn the lights off, and we would get coloring pages. She had a ton of them and she would let us choose whatever we wanted and we would take our crayons, or colored pencils, or markers and set to work on our pages, while the sun streamed into the windows, and she sat atop the old heater and read from whatever book we happened to be reading at that time. The Call of the Wild or Where the Sidewalk Ends, the books were as varied and interesting as her coloring pages.

I remember it plain as day now, because it was the first time I realized how relaxing it could be to just color. To sit in relative silence, only her quiet voice reading to us, and just focus on one thing, staying inside the lines. I didn’t have a quiet house. It wasn’t loud, it being just my mom and me (most of the time) but my mom always did have the television on and she was usually talking on the phone too. Sometimes I’d slip into my room, grab a coloring book, and color in silence when I needed a break. It didn’t occur to me until yesterday what a service Mrs. Coughran must have done for some of us, me sure, but even more so for the kids in my class that never got privacy or silence.

There were a lot of different kids in that classroom. A hodgepodge of Army kids and kids with dads in prison. Really smart kids, really funny kids. Kids who got to school way past our math class, kids who were dropped off to wait in the snow for 30 minutes, until the cafeteria opened up and they could grab their free breakfast. There were probably 25 of us in Mrs. Coughran’s class, and I don’t really remember anyone struggling, or not getting along, or being mean to each other, generally speaking.

As it sits today, there are two less of us in this world from Mrs. Coughran’s Fifth grade Class at Anthony Elementary School. One we lost to gunfire and one to a heart condition undetected by her doctors. They were both my friends. One was funny and silly, one smart and stoic. We all sat together in those quiet moments, as students, as kids, for that full year and we colored together in the quiet calm of Mrs. Coughran’s classroom, and while I wish we were a whole unit, and I sometimes wish for days that were as simple as those were, I am forever grateful for the time we had.

Hope you can find some calm in the storm today.

M.

Fuck the Pilgrims

We wanted to enjoy a nice “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving this year, then our family decided they wanted to come here for the holiday, so we scrapped that idea and went all in with a regular old Thanksgiving. Then we decided that Covid has no chill and it was not a good idea to have a house full of guests this holiday, and probably any holiday until this shit is under control, so now we are back to a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving.

We aren’t really sure what a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving looks like, maybe we get pilgrim statues and hang them from their necks over the fireplace? Too gruesome? Or maybe we make a list of all the lands the pilgrims stole from the Indigenous People, and we donate five dollars for each land we come up with? Too expensive? Okay, maybe we just learn about the lands near us that were stolen from the Indigenous People, read about small box blankets and what not, and give thanks that the Native Americans are as resilient as they are? Perfect.

The point is Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is just an excuse for us to be with family, enjoy each other’s company, and eat a ton of good food. We don’t prescribe to the whole “Thank you” toward those first settlers who were monsters, and no, we aren’t grateful for them. I mean, I could be living in London right now, speaking with a British accent and going on about my business and not being led by one Donald Trump, so ehh.

Sure, I’m happy to be in America (sometimes) but I don’t really care either way because the truth of the matter is, you make the most of wherever you are, and that’s that. So yeah, fuck the pilgrims and their blooding and plundering, they didn’t do me any bloody favors.

Happy Fuck the Pilgrims Week, y’all.

M.

It’s Friday

I’ve been waiting all week for it to be Friday! All. Week. Why? Because I’m officially finished with my first semester of my MFA program and I’m not gonna lie, it feels better than I thought it would. Like way better. This was a tough semester, y’all, in a tough year, with some tough moments, and I don’t just mean the political climate, or the pandemic, but I’ve had one of the toughest years in the last decade mentally and emotionally and physically too and I am so looking forward for reasons to celebrate. Today, I have one.

Woohoo! School’s out for one month!

Of course I’m reading for next semester already. And I’m reading for a literature contest, and I’m trying to learn to read for fun again, and I’ll be working on revisions from work I did this semester and I’ll be trying to come up with ideas for all my fictions classes next semester, but still, you know, no deadlines for a month! Woohoo!

Oh, and the holidays at home with my people, just Jerimiah and Jackson and the dogs and me. This pandemic has pulled us all so close that I’m afraid what will happen when life goes back to normal. But, I can’t worry about that today. Today is for celebrating! And maybe eating pizza and ice cream, and certainly watching some old episodes of “The Gilmore Girls” or maybe a sad-ass crime documentary, I don’t know! There are so many possibilities!

Whatever you are doing today, do it with a little pep in your step, y’all because as Rebecca Black would say, “It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday!”

M.

Flannery O’Connor

So I have this term paper due on Flannery O’Connor and her collection of stories, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories and if you don’t already know this, then you haven’t been paying attention. I’ve been complaining about Flannery O’Connor since the moment I was assigned her back in August, even though it was my own doing, like, I picked her from a list of authors and books, authors and books I would gladly trade with a classmate right now because I swear to all the holy peafowl the name Flannery O’Connor is getting on my last fucking nerve at this point.

Whew. Okay, deep breathes.

My paper is due…ummm… yesterday? Today? Friday? Our professor has moved the due date because she is gracious and kind and because we are all, “Uhhh, umm, about the final paper…” Our professor is cool. I like her. I hate Flannery O’Connor at this point.

Lately I’ve been waking up arguing with myself. I’ll be coming out of that dreamlike trance one is in upon their dog licking their face first thing in the morning and I’ll be thinking, “Flannery O’Connor is a raving racist.” Then my dog will lick my face more, and I’ll be all, “No, Flannery O’Connor was commenting on racism,” then more licks and then, “Flannery O’Connor was just a victim of her time.” Then finally I’ll yell, “Stop licking my face, God damn it, Flannery! Err, Winnie!” And I’ll begrudgingly start my day.

Life is weird.

Anyway, I better go work on this damn paper. Have a pleasant, Flannery O’Connor-less rest of your day, assholes.

M.

Waxing Intellectual

I tried to wax my ‘stache this week and it didn’t go well. Listen, I have the kind of mustache that is always with me. Even right after a wax (of which I used to have done at a salon), it felt like two days later ‘ol Burt was back. I have named my mustache Burt Reynolds on account of, well, you can make that connection. Anyway, I tried these new waxing strips and they suck, but that isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is to tell you that I had a shitty week so far, and is it over yet?

Sure the wax strips sucked. But then there was the news that I have family in Kansas who have developed Covid and they are very close to my mother and well, she 76 years old and probably shouldn’t be infected with motherfucking Covid.

I was texted the news while I was waiting to be called back to see my new rheumatologist, who by the way is very lovely and totally doesn’t think I have a bit to worry about, and I was like were you and Dr. Dickhead looking at the same results?! Turns out they were and she didn’t bat an eye at my results and said, probably, most likely, I have Fibryomiagia, but we still need to rule out some other stuff before we get there.

She put me on actual medication to help my Raynaud’s disease and she doesn’t think it is a symptom of something nefarious, she thinks it is the standalone kind that happens to women about my age. It will most likely never go away, but she said that we were would find something to help.

I’m officially never going to a male doctor again. Ever. I just won’t.

Anywho, the text came in that this family member has Covid, and has been working, going out, passing it most likely, all around (this I gather later from my mother). And that my mom was being tested and now we have to wait for those results and when I talked to Patsy yesterday she reminded me that I am in not control of other people’s lives when I yelled, “HOW ARE THEY GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE WHEN THEY DON’T KNOW IF THEY HAVE COVID OR NOT?!”

Turns out they are adults and have access to the same information from The CDC that I do and if they want to ignore sound medical advice, like self-isolating when you’ve been in close contact with someone who has it until you receive a negative result, it’s on them.

I’d just feel really shitty if I did it, if I thought I might have it and went somewhere. I’d be terrified of infecting others. I guess I just don’t get it.

There you have it. Light at the end of the tunnel? My first semester back at grad school is almost over. I have something like a week and a half on account of the shortened semester, and I’m down to a long form essay and an academic research paper. Ahhh, that’s sweet relief. Even if Burt is still around.

Please be safe, y’all. Please take Covid seriously. I can’t believe I have to say this to adults, but please don’t go out drinking at bars, don’t hop from friend’s house to friend’s house for fun, all without a mask. But if you do that, then at least don’t go around your elderly and immune-compromised relatives. You put an awful lot of people at risk and it just isn’t necessary. You actions have implications on others’ lives. I’m not sure how you’re old enough to be reading this and you don’t get that. I hope you get it now.

M.

Stress Shopping

I’m usually the one who does the stress shopping around here. And when I talk about stress shopping I’m talking about me getting antsy about something, all freaked out because I have so much to do, then doing none of it, instead taking to the couch surrounded by all the books I have to read and making groaning sounds like I’m dying while I cruise Etsy for that one thing I need so bad that I have to buy it right then. Usually, I just put it in my cart and it sits there for weeks until I finally talk myself out of it. Or, there’s the times I am trying to procrastinate all the shit I have to do and I walk into a furniture store and buy a new couch. Depends on the stress level.

But Jerimiah, he is usually better than that. He can usually keep his shit together. The world can be falling apart around him and he can be all, “I’m good.” Usually. Then this election week happened and the next thing I know, well, let’s just say that I am typing this blog right now on my new MacBook Air. Brand-spanking new. With Touch ID and e’rything. Y’all know new MacBooks had that? I did not. Now we all do.

Also, considering my old Air was about ten years old, there have been other advancements. Like did you know you don’t have to wait for 45 minutes to boot up a new MacBook? Crazy. And did you know that you can Zoom or FaceTime without any problems on a new MacBook? To be fair, I suspect that is true of most new technology. The point is when Jerimiah stress shops he stress shops big.

Anyway, just here today to share (brag) about our new laptop and to tell you to be kind to yourself. Sometimes you need to do nice things for yourself or your loved ones, and in the process it will make you feel better. I’m proud of him for acting on impulse for once. Also, depending on how long this election process takes, I’m holding out hope that he will stress-buy a 70 inch tv. I’ll let you know…

M.

Hot Mess Express

For those of you following along with my medical drama, I figured I’d let you know that I’m headed into see a new Rheumatologist at Emory today. This is a woman, thank God, and from what I can gather from her health grades story she’s an immigrant. Whew. I already feel better. I’m so over old, white men doctors telling me to just “suffer” so they can run more tests.

When I saw my doctor last week she was appalled by my treatment at Dr. Dickhead’s office and apologized on his behalf, which I asked her not to. He’s a grown-ass man. Meanwhile I’m still waiting on an apology from his office or at least a letter of resolution from Emory. If you have no idea what I’m talking abbot you can get up to speed here.

My doctor wasn’t happy with the test results from Dr. Dickhead, go figure, so when I asked what I should do she said to go to another Rheumatologist and a dermatologist, of which she wrote me a referral. I asked her if this was all stress related and she said that stress can do a number on our bodies, but that no, stress would not shoot her these wacko ANA and white blood cell results that she keeps getting from me. She thinks the underlying condition is certainly exasperated by stress though, which might explain why I’ve had more energy this week than I have in the last 12 weeks.

So there you have it. More doctors. No solid explanations yet. The only diagnosis so far is Raynaud’s which is still a real pain in the ass and the baby asprin isn’t working and it’s starting to get cold here and I’m antsy. Ugh.

Wish me luck.

And remember, there will be times you have to advocate not just for others, but for yourself too. Treat yourself fairly as well.

M.

Take No Shit

Yesterday was the first day in a long time I woke up feeling motivated for much of anything. I know you’re probably hearing it all over the place, but it’s true, I’ve had my faith in our country restored. Sure, 70 million people voted for hate, but way more voted against it and that’s what I’m choosing to focus on this week. I’m also choosing to focus on shutting people down that I’m tired of listening to.

People who don’t wear masks.

People who give excuses for voting for Trump.

People who think the election was rigged.

People who just want to stir up trouble, and not the good time.

I’ve had an ever-shortening respect and restraint for these people, opting more often than not to take the high road as Michelle would want me to, but I’m done with that now. I’m motivated for change.

Jerimiah said today that the racists will crawl back into their holes soon enough. I hope they don’t. I hope they stay out so we can continue to see who they are, continue to bring attention to them, then finally beat them back into their holes when the time comes.

I realize that not all the people who voted for Trump are racists in the broad sense of the term, but many of them are. Even more, however, have such fragile egos that they can’t deal with being a “loser.” Trump is one of those people so we can only assume his devout followers are as well.

But any therapist worth her weight would tell you that you shouldn’t cater to someone’s ego or it will only spell trouble. Don’t worry, there’s no catering here. I call a spade a spade, and hopefully, hopefully people like that will just steer clear of me. Because Kamala’s speech lit a fire under me on Saturday and I’m ready to unite, sure, with people willing to admit their mistakes, with the rest, well, I’m ready to hold them accountable. Someone needs to.

Be safe, and take no shit this week, y’all.

None.

M.

Super Saturday

I’m not even sure where to begin, but as I sat misty-eyed listening to our VP Elect speak last night I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of love and light for this country again. Suddenly a waving flag didn’t mean hatred and ignorance anymore, suddenly the sight of a person waving a flag went back to what it used to mean: freedom, united people and beliefs, love for country. Sure, flag waving is banal and sentimental at best, but when the right people are speaking. When the good and the strong and the kind people have been passed the mic, suddenly I can stomach it all much better.

It was amazing to hear our newly-elected officials speak. Amazing to see emotion, love, and strength in their words. Amazing to feel like someone you can trust, two people you can trust to make the big decisions for our country, are right where they need to be.

When Madam Vice-President Elect Harris spoke to the children in our country, my son’s ears perked up. He smiled and nodded along, while I looked at my husband and our eyes met and I asked if he could ever imagine Trump addressing the children so wonderfully, let alone acknowledging them at all.

It’s a new day. A new hope. A restored faith for many of us. Let’s enjoy it, then get ready to get back at it. We have an election in January to prepare for, but I’ll enjoy this win for a few more days, then jump in.

Get some rest, y’all. You deserve it.

M.

Refresh, Refresh, Refresh

Does anyone know what day it is? Cause all day yesterday I thought it was still Tuesday, save for those times I was curing ballots* with Georgia voters and reminding them it was Friday and they had until 5 pm to fix the problem. But it’s the next day now and I think it went back to Tuesday. So this week it was Monday (the day before Election), Tuesday (Election Day), then Tuesday, Tuesday, Friday, now I think it’s Tuesday again, but I could be wrong.

I’m not gonna lie, it felt nice to wake up to some good news on Tuesday. I even slept better on both Tuesday and Tuesday nights of this week knowing that the “Red Mirage” was a thing and soon enough, soon enough, all would be well in this world again (minus the global pandemic that is thrashing our country for the third time this year.)

I manically hit refresh on my browser all day everyday, in between reading Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing (maybe not the best time to dig into that book, but it was a homework assignment), and taking long walks in my neighborhood flipping between sad Adele songs and sad 70’s country songs.

And now here we are, Tuesday morning and I need to hit refresh on myself. I think. Yes. A refresh of sorts. But, I can’t leave my house, I can’t eat at my favorite restaurant, I can’t go cruise the mall with all its holidays lights already up. So I will sit here and drink my coffee and be proud of all that we accomplished during this week of Tuesdays.

Keep faith, be safe, stay sane. Refresh yourself.

M.

*We tried to cure ballots but by the time we got on to help at 11:30 am, they only wanted people with campaign experience because they had blown through the others with THOUSANDS of volunteers! That was, as Martha would say, “A good thing.”

The Day After the Day After

I want to write some really positive words today. be patient, but all that keeps popping into my mind is, “Damm, half this country is really some racists sons-a-bitches.” Because I think that’s what it boils down to. I think half this country would rather vote for a big-mouthed loser who spews lies, than the guy who loved Obama.

I read an article the other day that made me pause. It was about how many Trump supporters love him so much because they say he reminds them of their father. Wow. That hit me hard. Because sure, it would make sense that these people grew up with an egotistical, lying, cheating, raping, absent, drugged-up father. Sure. That checks out. Look at how they behave. Look at this vicious cycle these kinds of fathers create. It’s so damn sad and pathetic.

Obviously I’m upset today, still. I’m upset that this election was so close. Too close for my comfort. Too close to think that people have learned anything, or maybe they are just complacent? Maybe they can turn a blind eye to the marginalized people in our country, pretend they aren’t there.

I’m sad and angry that I live in a country like this. I’m sad and angry that my fellow Americans are so afraid of Black and Brown people that they turn out in droves to attempt to run busses off the road, among other things.

I’m sad and angry today, y’all.

That is all.

Stay safe and sane. Keep faith.

M.

Keep Faith

It’s tough to wake up to no news today, but it isn’t nearly as tough as waking up to the crushing defeat we saw four years ago. In fact, for me personally, waking up the day after the election four years ago was also waking up to the nightmare of my missing nephew, who turned out to have been violently murdered in the wee hours of the morning in Wichita, Kansas. So to say that I woke up this morning with a bit of trepidation would be correct. But I woke up. And so did you. And that’s all we needed to do.

I don’t like how close this race is. I don’t like it because of what it says about our country. I don’t like it because it shines a light on the racist people we thought we learning, growing, we thought our family and friends were morphing into acceptable people, that they had seen the error of their ways, their thinking, their fears, and had come to our side. A side full of love for the common lady and a love for people, for the human condition. For our Earth. For our children. But no. That didn’t happen.

Instead it’s the same battle that wages on. Except this time the crazy man is already in charge, so he gets to spew whatever kind of disinformation he wants to. Le sigh.

But, this isn’t over, Y’all. Not by a long shot. It could takes days to get all the votes counted, and we have to have faith not just in our states, in our counties, but in our courts too, as it is seeming highly likely that some form of this election will end in the courts. We have to be patient. Trust that good will trump evil. We have to, or we are no better than we were four years ago, save for a heightened sense of dread that propels us to do things, take action.

So let’s get up today. Let’s drink out coffee. Let’s wait for North Carolina to bring their numbers in. Let’s wait for Atlanta numbers! Y’all, the Atlanta numbers are not in yet. Let’s wait. Be patient. Let them say what they want. Log off of social media if you have to. Take a walk. Read a book. Paint with your kid. Wear your mask. Plan a holiday for the summer of 2023! Do something but worry today. And keep faith.

M.

Today is Election Day

PLEASE GO VOTE TODAY! For those of you who already have, I salute you. I kinda like you a lot. No, I love you. And when this pandemic is over, let’s go get a beer together, okay? For the rest of you…

VOTE!

TODAY IS THE DAY!

PLEASE GO VOTE!

I love you all.

We’ve got this.

And remember, regardless of the outcome, we have a lot of work to do, but we are in this together.

Stay safe and sane today, y’all.

M.

The Chaos After the Storm

I’m getting real fucking tired of saying this, but here we go, “The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm somewhere over Alabama and it got us. It got us good.” I didn’t sleep a wink. Right before bed I got the alert that said it was headed our way. Now mind you, I knew it made landfall in New Orleans, but New Orleans is a good eight hours from us so I wasn’t too worried. Then I started to get weather alerts from DeKalb County all, “Y’all, some shit fittin’ to go down tonight. Pull ya umbrellas out ya tables, pick the pinecones up out ya yard, and remember to vote. The election is six days away!” They also “closed” school, but not really because we are still going virtually on account of the Covid, but essentially they said don’t worry if you can’t log on in case you lose power “cause you will probably lose power.” Seems to be some infrastructure problems they could be working on, rather than sending me salty texts at midnight, but whateves.

So early yesterday morning, right around the time I was falling into a good sleep, Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta started up on her barking at random noises she heard, only it wasn’t so random. It was pinecones hitting the roof and the windows at speeds no pinecone should travel. Then the creaking of the pines started. I don’t know if you have ever watched a pine tree sway in downgraded hurricane winds, but Imma tell you it’s spooky.

Pine trees are so tall, and their roots are so far into the ground, that they are flexible trees by nature. But that doesn’t stop you from looking out your window, watching the swaying trees, wondering if you would be safer if you woke up the whole family at three am and herded them into the guest room in the basement.

The good news is we made it through the night unscathed. Relatively. The street looks like it vomited pine needles, the plants are all a little wonky, and our old windows took a beating, but the worst part was when the doorbell rang at 8:45 am and our neighbor Dale was standing at the carport with Sir Duke Motherfucking Barkington of Charlotte on a leash. What?! How did that happen?

Turns out the wind was so strong, it knocked open our wooden gate. It didn’t unlatch, just opened it up wide enough for a petite standard poodle, who hates me, to slip out undetected and romp through the neighborhood until Dale and Cookie came outside and found him running around the empty lot by their house. “Looking like he was chasing butterflies.” Yeah, that fucking checks out.

Listen, it’s been a week. And I need these storms to be over and I need this damn election to be over and I need to incorporate more gin into my life.

Hope you are all unscathed these days.

M.

Changing Times

Struggling this week. Few weeks left in my shortened semester. My first semester back in grad school. My last first semester. It’s been rough, tougher than usual. For all of us. Residency took all my energy last week. Now it’s time for writing papers. Now it’s time for sleeping less. Now it’s time for picking up slack from that weekend I went to the pumpkin patch or played board games with my boys. Now it’s long days at my desk, sore knees and wrists. Running to rummage something up for dinner in between workshop Zoom calls and more reading. Now the cold is setting in.

I’m not complaining. Geez, I know it seems like I am. I do recognize my situation is pretty good. All things considered. And I do wish other’s were just as good. I don’t want to complain. I don’t mean to complain.

The air is changing. The semester is changing. The world is changing. I want to think it’s all changing for the good. I want to feel that way, but I don’t. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Probably tomorrow.

I hope your changing times are okay. Are hopeful and necessary. Are as pain free as they can be.

M.