I worked in a factory once. It was a plastic, heat, 3M something or other factory. The point is I worked in one. A place where you had to clock in and out. A place you were assigned a pair of safety glasses (in my case two, because I dropped the first pair out of my pocket and ran over them), and there was a sign that hung above the entrance that said, “__ Days Accident Free.” I always liked that sign, mainly because it usually have a high number in the blank spot, something like 88. None of that has anything to do with what I’m here to tell you today, except that maybe if I had a sign like that in my house it would say, “__ Days Anxiety-induced Drinking To the Point of Vomiting Over the Side of the Hot Tub Free” and I’d currently be wiping the slate clean to start over at 1 again.
These are some rough days y’all. But as I laid in my bed Saturday night, or really early Sunday morning, and watched it spin around me I certainly remember a loud, booming voice coming out of somewhere to say, “Hey Girl, you’re too old for this actual shit.” And that voice was right. But here’s the thing, I didn’t intend to drink that much. And honestly, factually, I didn’t drink anymore than I normally do, but I did forget to eat dinner.
But here’s the other thing: I’m drinking more than I usually do these days. I suspect a lot of us are, and we need to keep an eye on that, ya dig? I was reminded yesterday. And I know what you’ll say: You’ll say, “Yes girl, me too!” Or maybe you’ll say, “Ohnothankyou I don’t drink and you shouldn’t either.” Or maybe you’ll be like, “This shit is rough. It feels like there is no end in sight and every once in awhile we need to let go of some of that control we so desperately try to give ourselves when the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, and for some of us it’s shopping online, for others it’s smoking that one cigarette you have hiding under the loose 2×4 in your shed, or maybe it’s a bottle of wine with your husband in your hot tub once a month. Whatever it is, we need to be okay with doing it. Every once in awhile.” Is that you? Did you say that? I hope so.
I hope so.
In this shitty, upside down world, I’m okay with my choices. Honestly. If I wasn’t y’all know I’d tell you so. But I’m not okay with pushing 40 and being hungover. Nay, nay. That shit’s for the birds. I’ll be keeping my wine hand light from here on out. And you, well you watch yourself too. And remember, I’m always around to talk.
We’re heading home today. I’d normally say we are heading back to reality at this point in a vacation, but this time reality never really left us. Or maybe it didn’t leave me. I was keenly aware, all day, everyday, of the realities of life. That masks were necessary, and that even in outdoor events, social distancing is key. It wasn’t part of the original plan to leave so soon, but plans change. You get new information, you make educated decisions. Our new information came like this: 1. Jerimiah was suddenly thrust into a large corporate deal (think a bidding contract worth millions) that he needs to be “present” for. “Present” here doesn’t mean in actual person, as of now anyway, but there’s a chance. He does need high-speed internet though, an issue we’ve been battling out here in the country, and he needs a shirt with a tie, and some semblance of an office (he’s currently working with a large, blow-up dartboard behind him). 2. This global pandemic isn’t going anywhere. Not sure if you’ve seen, but uhh, it’s here to stay awhile, and things are changing daily. A week ago, the state we live in (Georgia) was “steady” and the state we are currently in (Missouri) was on the decline. Now, two weeks later, things have changed drastically. Covid-19 is running rampant again, in both states, and the truth of the matter is I need to be at home, socially distancing from others, in the safety of our bubble, with my immune-compromised husband and my asthmatic kid. It’s the only way. The way of life here is too lackadaisical, and that’s okay for some people, but not for us. The risk, in this case, is not worth it.
So goodbye Table Rock Lake. Goodbye family! Thanks to those of you who were able to visit with us. Thanks for self-isolating for a couple of weeks, thanks for taking our safety concerns seriously. Thanks for the late-night talks, the boat rides, the floating and laughing and singing. Thanks for the best version of a summer vacation we could ask for this year, hopefully we will see you all soon, but if not that’s okay. Your safety, our safety, the collective safety is the most important, and besides, one day life might be back to normal, isn’t that neat? Something to look forward to!
My son is afraid of the dark. It’s a remarkably simple, common fear, but surprising to me in a way I can’t quite explain. My strong, brave, smart child is afraid of the dark. I’m part disappointed, but also in awe. I’m disappointed that he can’t look past the reality of the dark. Like when my husband asks him the question, “What is in the dark?” and he responds with, “The same things that are there in the light.” He gets it, he does, but also he doesn’t.
With the lights on he’s fine, he can plainly see the trees, or that building, or the closet doors. Then the light goes off and his creativity (and anxiety) starts to rise, and before he can stop it, the realities of the dark: the trees, that building, those closet doors, become dinosaurs, and scary people, and tigers ready to pounce. It’s really a fear of the unknown, in a place he knows. And aren’t we all a little afraid of the unknown?
I was in therapy last week and I told Patsy that I was afraid of what our world looked like when this was all over. “This” being the pandemic, the current administration, the hatred in our world. She nodded in agreement. “We all are,” she said, coolly. “We all are.”
I guess I’m still afraid of the dark too. We all are.
If you’re reading this, I’m loading up the truck with Jerimiah, while Jackson walks around in circles complaining that he is tired, and the dogs bark from inside the house because they think we are leaving them, and going on a super, cool vacation in the tropics. Probably. Most likely. It’s Saturday morning and we are headed on an 11-hour road trip this morning and I’m already stressed about all the things. Things like: Where will we use the bathroom, how bad are the places we are headed into, is it safer to use gloves at the gas pump or not, will Winnie vomit all over everyone like she usually does, why do we have to go anywhere near Little Rock, and should we have just packed food and not relied on drive-thrus? But the motion has already started, and like most things in life we will just have to wait and see.
That doesn’t stop the mind from wandering though. That’s what medication is for, so damn it I hope I remembered to pack the Klonopin, and where did I put those “Relieve Stress” Gummies?
There you have it, 11 hours through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, a teeny bit of Tennessee (not the good part), and Arkansas. I mean, under normal circumstance this isn’t a worrisome trip. Whenever you’re going to pass Elvis’s birthplace AND Johnny Cash’s in the same trip, well, Lord help us all.
We had an 18 pack of eggs sitting in our refrigerator. Brand new. Not expired. Farm fresh, free range, college educated. We leave for vacation in three days. We looked at each other. At our smart eggs. Then back at each other. Quiche? I wondered aloud. Maybe, Jerimiah said. How else would we eat 18 eggs in three days? Boiled? Take them with us? He pondered, while he moved expired cottage cheese out of the way. Huh, I remarked, slinging rotten green peppers into the trash can. Give them to a neighbor, I questioned. He shook his head. Would that be weird? Maybe, plus we are the ones who raised them. They’re ours. Oh, I’ll make deviled eggs! I half screamed, half cried. Dear Recipe Goddess, you have reigned supreme again.
Two days later, as I stood over the sink and peeled the boiled eggs that I had let boil for too long the night before because I was also cooking dinner at the same time and it was a Hello Fresh meal and you have to follow the damn directions with those and the puppy ran in and peed on the floor and Jackson tried to tell me about this TikTok guy who does presidential impersonations and Jerimiah tried to help by standing next to me asking what he can do, I sorta, maybe, lost it a little bit and slammed the plates on the table and said, I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT! And then went upstairs to sit on the fluffy ottoman at the end of my bed and contemplate how my damn life had come to this. About 20 minutes later, I remembered the boiling eggs.
Here’s the thing about deviled eggs, it’s a process, y’all. A long, arduous process, and it starts with the perfect boiled egg. Now sure, you can Google “How to Boil an Egg for Deviled Eggs” and you will get a million different opinions, but every Mommy, Grandma, Great Grandma, and even a couple Grandpa’s have their own way of doing it. My way is to heavily boil the eggs in salted water for three to five minutes, then turn the stove off and let them sit in the hot water for about 20 minutes, until I sink them into a cold bath, let them sit in fridge overnight, then crack them all over before peeling the next day as I listen to Adele sing about how life is not the way she imagined it when she was a child. I can relate. And usually what happens is that the eggs just slide right out. Unless one thing is not right. Then, you’re fucked.
That’s how I came to be screaming into a bowl of yellow yesterday morning.
That’s how I came to be teaching Jackson how to make deviled eggs, literally because I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT!
That’s how we thought it would be a good idea to eat 18 eggs the days leading up to a 10-hour road trip.
Click, click. Tap, tap. Sploot.Click, click, click… These are the noises I hear at night when I am trying to fall asleep. I’ll be so close to sleep. My eyes closed, rolling back toward my brain from under my lightly pulled lids, then I will hear it. The click or the tap or the sploot. I open my eyes wide, cock my head to the side, grab hold of my husband’s sleeping arm. Do you hear that, I’ll whisper. He will respond in a snore. I’ll move my eyes toward the ceiling, imagine a squirrel scampering quickly over the layers of pine needles I haven’t willed myself to clean. It must be squirrels, I think. Then I lay my head back on my pillow, close my eyes, and try again.
I hear the noises, but the truth is, they aren’t there. They are part of a dreamlike state I get to before I fall over the cliff into dreams, into tossing and turning, sweating myself awake. The noises aren’t real, that’s why my husband doesn’t hear them, why my dogs are never jumping around barking. There is not really a click, or a tap, or a sploot. It’s all in my head.
This happens to me in times of stress. I hear things that aren’t real. Bacon sizzling in a pan. A wayward footstep. For years my doctors have blamed it on my medication. Auditory hallucinations they call it. Here, try this new pill instead. Only it isn’t the medication. The medication is doing it’s job. It is making me function all day. Allowing me to smile, even when I don’t want to. Allowing me to stay focused and motivated. But at night, when my brain is refusing to collapse into sleep, when the stress of the day catches up to me, then I’m on my own.
And all I can think right now, today as I wait to fall asleep in a cocoon of safety, my home alarm set, my husband sleeping quietly next to me, my son tucked safely in his bed, my two overly-anxious dogs at my feet, all I can think is, if I’m hearing clicks, taps, and sploots, what are other people hearing?
I’m a shower shaver. Always have been. I remember learning to shave my legs in a tub of luke-warm water, after years of being tormented about my long, black leg hair by my sister, while my mother refused to let me near a razor. I was in fifth grade when I eventually stole my mom’s razor, sat in a tub for much longer than I should have and contemplated it. Then I just did it. My mom got mad. My sister laughed. I was bleeding from knee to ankle, but I was proud, so proud of my smooth legs. Now I wish I had never picked up a razor.
Shaving my legs, tweezing my eyebrows, waxing my mustache, Jesus, I’m so over all of it. I wish I was so body positive that I could stand proudly and say, Fuck you, World! While I flip the world the bird, and my mustache blows in the wind like Tom Selleck’s. But alas, I succumb to societal beauty standards, well some of them, like waxing, shaving, plucking, and zapping unwanted hair. Bleh.
The day we signed the papers on our current home my vision was clouded by the master bathroom. It’s beautiful. Small, but mighty. There’s only one small vanity and a toilet, but there is this wonderful shower! It is all glass, with stone floors (the bathroom itself has heated floors), and artful tile work throughout. It is floor to ceiling and has all the fancy accouterments that a shower should have. And it’s huge! It easily fits Jerimiah and me. Or Duke and Jackson and me, when we are in swimsuits trying to scrub mud from Duke’s legs while he attempts to run through the small opening that we leave in the door to let the smell of wet dog escape. It’s perfect.
But the first time I took a shower in it I realized there was nowhere for this shower-shaver to stick her legs when I shaved. It needed a bench. So I did what anyone would do, I hopped out of the shower, threw clothes on, ran to Homegoods, and bought a bamboo shower bench. Perfect. Except, well, today was the first time since I owned the bamboo bench the I actually sat on it to shave my legs.
Listen, I’m a creature of habit. Years and years of awkwardly standing in the tub, with my leg perched on the edge has made me think this is the only way. So the first time I shaved my legs with my bamboo bench in place, I just stuck my leg up on the bench and shaved standing up like usual. Then I kept doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I use the bench. I sit on it regularly while the hot water from my raindrop faucet drips onto my head and I think about the world. I cry on my bamboo bench. A lot. Y’all know I’m a shower cryer, I don’t have time to defend that. I cried on that bamboo shower bench the first week we lived here because I missed Charlotte and I didn’t want to live in Georgia. I cried that summer when my son was sad that we didn’t have any friends yet. I cried when my friend called with bad news about her parents. I sat on the bamboo bench and cried when that student opened fire on the UNC Charlotte campus. When they couldn’t find that little boy with autism for days. I cried on that bamboo bench when I thought we were going to be transferred to New Orleans. I cried when my son cried when a friend was being bullied at school and he realized he needed to stick up for her. I cried when the spring tornadoes sprang up the Midwest, when we had to cancel our trip home because Covid-19 was here. I cried for Ahmaud Arbery, for my state, for our country, for this world.
But today, for the first time in a year, I sat on that bamboo bench and I shaved my legs. I let the water fall on me. I didn’t cry. I just sat and shaved. I wondered about all the times I should have done this before. All the times I let my own stubbornness stop me from doing things. My own stubbornness, my own ignorance, my own self-doubt. I thought about shower-shavers. I thought about women who wish they had clean water. I thought about women who refuse to shave their legs and under arms. I thought about little girls with no mother to teach her how to do it. I thought about the good I have learned by others, but society, by my environment, and my world. And then I thought about the bad. But I didn’t cry, I just shaved my legs.
I’ve always been warned, since the first time I took a creative nonfiction class, that people will not remember the things you remember, the exact way you remember them. People will not have the same memories, they will not reframe times, or situations, or people the same way. Even Jerimiah and I, who have spent the last 18 years together, sometimes look at each other when we are retelling a story, an important story, like the death of our daughter, we will look at each other like, “Dude, that’s not how it happened!” And we both think we remember it the “right” way, when in reality the truth lies somewhere between us.
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days. I share a lot about my life, about my childhood. I share from vivid, vivid memories I have. Sometimes they are corroborated by my family members, sometimes my family members have no idea what I am talking about. I’ll say to my mom, for instance, remember that time our car broke down and that guy we didn’t know gave us a ride to Ruthie’s house? And she will be like, “That never happened, I would never take a ride from a stranger.” Meanwhile, I remember the way the stick shift of his truck brushed up against my leg. I remember my mom nervously fumbling the door handle. I remember we weren’t going far, and she thought we’d be safe. We were safe. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t remember, because it ended up not being a big deal. We made it to her friend’s house, who took us back to Food-4-Less with a gallon of tap water to put into her overheated 1972 Dodge. I guess the ride with a stranger turned out to be not that big of a deal. Or he wasn’t really a stranger to her, just to me? So why remember it? Why do I? Why does she not? Does it matter at all?
I’m thinking about this today for a number of reasons. One of them is that I have finally started to write a little bit, and the stories that are coming out of me are stories that are stemming from fear and anxiety. They are stories from my childhood, stories that take me back to dark times. Times when I would lie awake alone at night and hope that my mom was okay, cause she was all I had. She was it. I didn’t have a dad around. My siblings were grown and out of the house. It was just my mom and me, and if something happened to her I would be all alone. So I’d lie awake at night, even if my mom was sleeping peacefully in the next room, and I would worry about the next bad thing that was going to happen.
I’ve started writing about it, because I’ve started doing it again. Only this time it isn’t my mom that I’m worried about, it’s my son. My husband. They hopped into the car the other day to grab some take-out food and I immediately thought, there goes my whole world in that car, what if something happens? What if they are in a car accident? Maybe it won’t be bad, but if they are taken to the hospital right now, then what? My people are not here with me. I can’t be with them. What happens if they get sick? What happens if I can’t make it all better? What happens if I lose my whole world?
I’ve started thinking of all these times because my anxiety is high right now and when my anxiety is high writing helps me. And my writing comes when I spend the time thinking about my life, my childhood, my past. And up until this point in my life I’ve had these oppressive thoughts about whether what I write will upset my family, my friends, my siblings, my mom. I’ve said to more than one professor, “Oh I can’t write about that until so and so is dead…” But this week I turned a corner. I realized that I write for me. I write for others like me who can’t share their stories. I don’t write to make people upset or angry, and if they get upset or angry over my truth, or think that is the reason I am doing it, that is on them. That is probably because they do things to intentionally upset people, but I don’t. That’s not how I operate. I operate from truth. And maybe my truth isn’t in line with theirs, but that doesn’t matter. It is mine. When I write my name to a piece of creative nonfiction, it is, to the best of my recollection, true. All of it.
There’s a million quotes that I could share now to explain this, but this morning while talking with Jerimiah about my new-found courage to write about whatever the hell I want to write about, he reminded me of something I say a lot, “If you don’t want people to know you did it, don’t do it.” I’ve said this since I was 16 years old, and it pissed my family off then, and I’m sure it does now. But it’s, well, it’s the truth. For now I’ll be going about my business while I remind myself, “I’m responsible for telling the truth, not for how others respond to it…” after all, truth doesn’t come as easy to others, as it does to people like me.
One of the first stories I read in a college lit class was “The Yellow Wall Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and I’ve always remembered it. If you haven’t had the pleasure, please partake. It is a short story full of madness and powerlessness, a true Gothic Lit masterpiece in my opinion. And since it was published in 1892, there’s the whole portrayal of female oppression and societal expectations, you know early feminism. Good. Good. Good.
In short, the woman in the story is sent to a house for a “rest cure,” you know, she’s mentally unstable and her doctor/husband thinks she needs sunlight and rest, because that’ll fix ya right up, when really she just needed to stab her doctor/husband. Anywho, she starts to actually go crazy cause he keeps her in one room. The room has, you guessed it, yellow wallpaper. And as the days go on, and she starts to really lose her shit, the wallpaper “changes,” and suddenly she thinks she’s trapped in the wallpaper! Haha. What a silly girl!
Missy, why you telling us this? Listen, y’all I’m way into wallpaper right now. I’m not sure what sparked it, but I’ve been researching it, perusing wallpaper sites, googling things about how many square feet one roll can cover, etc. etc. I’m on a mission to wallpaper my office and I’m pretty close to figuring this whole thing out. But I think what is really happening is that I’m pretty close to losing my shit. I think it falls in line with me not dealing with the real shit of the world right now, sorta like if I keep my mind and fingers busy on a project, I can forget the world is horrible. Yeah, that’s it!
But even as I lay in bed at night and envision my dream accent wall, or a wallpaper shop that lets you design your own wallpaper, I still can’t shake the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” her plight, her mental health, her asshole husband. Her life is wrapping itself up in mine alright. And yeah, I get the irony. The undertones. The whole shebang. But I’ll tell you one thing, I’m not buying damn yellow wallpaper.
Soooo, how’s everyone doing? Me? Oh well, thanks for asking. I’m sitting here at my desk, staring out my window at the beautiful sunny skies, listening to the birds chirping and the cars whizzing by wondering why in the hell you would actually go eat INSIDE a Waffle House today?! Yep. Uh huh. Welcome to Georgia. Where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. But, to be fair, it’s more than just the Waffle House opening up, it’s also bowling alleys and theaters. And if you do have the emotional or mental capacity to leave your house for dinner and a movie (who are these people, and what kind of anti-depressants are they on?!) then you know you are safe because you they can only sit four deep at the Waffle House counter. Whew, glad someone is taking this all seriously.
Also, just so we are clear, the servers are wearing gloves and masks at the Waffle House, but can I be real for a minute? Shouldn’t the servers at the Waffle House ALWAYS be wearing masks and gloves? I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I like more than drinking so much gin that my inhibitions are way, way down, then getting turnt on some OJ and fried eggs at the Waffle House. In fact, 20-something Missy lived and died by WH. But, umm, I still always knew I ran the risk of picking up Hep-b in the bathroom while I was there, and I still used caution. Now you throw in a global pandemic and whaazzzzy, whaazzzzy, wha?!
I’m picking on the WH here but it’s because this is Georgia and people literally cried when the WH closed up shop last month, but truly this is the nuttiest thing I have seen in a while. People actually leaving their house, amid 23,500 cases in our state, with nearly 1,000 deaths, and hitting up the movies and going bowling. Like, I just don’t get it. And the beaches, please don’t get me started with the beaches. Y’all know we love to travel. In fact, I’m simultaneously planning three vacations in my mind right now (a trip “home,” a trip to Southern Cali, and a long weekend in Savannah) but you can bet your ass I haven’t actually booked any airfare, or started looking at hotels. Because shit, y’all. It’s gonna be awhile.
I know there are people who are just trying to get back to work. I know that. Small business owners, or you know, Shake Shack, are really trying to cash in on that money, but it isn’t coming. But to be fair, aren’t their employees making more money on unemployment right now, then if they were working? And don’t they have a “rainy day” fund? Like, certainly they don’t want the government to keep bailing them out, that’s, that’s, SOCIALISM!
I think I’m gonna stop. Take some deep breathes. Pour myself a glass of wine at three o’clock in the afternoon, and sit on the deck and listen to the birds. And the squeal of the tires in and out of the local Waffle House. Be safe, y’all. And STAY THE FUCK AT HOME.
I can’t keep my head on straight these days. My mind is all over the place. Even with bumping therapy up to two times a month, and staying on top of my medication, I feel like I can’t keep my emotions and thoughts in check. Here is a list of things I was thinking about within a five-minute span of time this morning while I was “relaxing” and drinking my coffee:
The yard needs mowed
Call the hot tub guy about the new cover that is coming
Which dog pooped in the hallway?
Is it okay to let Jackson (my 11YO) study criminal justice when he’s in college?
Who was the guy the neighbors had to call the cops on last night?
Our governor is a nutcase
Did I register to vote absentee?
I’m glad my husband fixed the hydraulics in my office chair
I need to bathe the dogs today
When will it be safe to leave my house? May 30th?
There were 500 more positive tests over night here
Masks came in the mail!
Thank-you cards need to go out
Jerimiah ordered me new headphones
We need to legalize weed, and let people out of prison ASAP
Adele is so great
My hands are sweaty, but my feet are cold
Is it going to rain today?
Why can’t I write?!
How often do normal people poop?
Robin Williams was awesome
I’m gonna drink some wine tonight
I’ve been drinking too much wine
I need to organize my office
How much Tylenol is too much Tylenol?
Senior Citizens in nursing homes should be locked down
I hope we can still manage a “Fifth Grade Fun Day!” this summer
I need to start the Couch to 5K
What was that book I wanted to read?
I should text my friends and say hi
I missed that voting thing with Michelle Obama, I’m a loser, Michelle was counting on me
I wish I had a backpack leaf blower
What happened to Ben Folds?
That is a snippet of what I was thinking about. I couldn’t write the exhaustive list.
What is going on you guys? What is keeping your mind racing? Are you able to combat that feeling? What is working? What is not? What have you tried? What are you excited about trying?
I had a breakdown the other day. It had been stewing for days. I felt it, as one does, gaining momentum with each thing I did. I had to wash the dishes by hand (because the dishwasher is broken) and I cut my hand. Then I started to make lunch and I spilled the sauce. Then I dropped my phone. Then, then, then… Shit hit the fan. Finally I decided I was not doing a damn thing for the rest of the day. I was going to park it on the couch and watch a wildly entertaining documentary. So that’s what I started to do, then things got complicated.
I choose “McMillions.” Jerimiah was sitting next to me, trying to figure out my mood, but I didn’t say a word. Jackson came downstairs from doing school work and asked if I would ride bikes with him. Nah, dawg. I told him. I’m not feeling bikes. Then I immediately felt bad and tried to compromise. I asked if he wanted to take a walk. No, he didn’t. He just wanted to ride his scooter alone outside, so Jerimiah and started the show. A couple minutes later I started to feel like a shitty mom, as one does. I couldn’t concentrate on the show. I could only worry that he would talk to some random person walking down our cul-de-sac. Or that he would fall and hurt himself, which meant I’d have to take him to the ER, which is bad news bears right now, considering they are literally turning out conference center into a makeshift hospital. (We will be at 20,000 Covid-19 cases before the week is up.)
Then I heard him talking and asked Jerimiah to check on him. When he did, Jackson came to the door (he had been talking to Siri, telling her to change songs) and then I overheard Jackson say to Jerimiah, “Tell Mommy we can go on a walk now.” At this point it had been a good thirty minutes of me stewing in place, while this show played in front of me. Thinking about how horrible of a mom I am, how my son wanted to spend time with me and I didn’t oblige. Instead I watched television. Then my guilt turns to anger as it ALWAYS does, and I reacted way too strongly.
Jerimiah came back in and I said, “I can’t believe he wants to walk now! I offered that up half an hour ago!”
Jerimiah listened politely, as he does, and suggested we do take a walk because it might be good for all of us. The sun was setting fast at this point, so I mumbled something about “It’s gonna be dark soon,” then went upstairs to put real clothes on, not pajamas. Meanwhile he tried to get the dogs leashed up, since they had heard the word “Walk” one too many times and were freaking out.
When I came down Jerimiah told me that Duke was refusing his harness, and I may have screamed, “LEAVE HIS ASS HOME!” I was totally spiraling out at this point. Jerimiah was like, okay, and we walked outside. There we were met with Jackson and some “scooter” issues and I was like, “You’re the one who wanted to go for a walk!” And I could see the tears start to well up in his eyes and I thought “SHIIIIIT!” But instead of apologizing right then, I let us all go with me into this spiral.
Duke was barking at us from inside so Jerimiah asked if he should go try again with the harness and I said, “Sure!” In a really high-pitched, super fake-singing kinda way. Jackson knew the situation at this point and was looking upset. Duke wouldn’t cooperate and when I saw Jerimiah walking down the drive I knew he was now as angry as me, meanwhile Jackson was on the verge of tears, meanwhile I was totally at the bottom. So we walked.
One cul-de-ac over Jackson broke down. He was telling me that he was sorry he had ruined the evening, and I thought, “Holy hell, Missy you are legit the worst mom on the damn planet.” We stood there in the road as I hugged him and told him that I had been a mess all day and none of this was his fault. Then we walked more.
When we got home that night I went to the bathroom then came downstairs in tears. I told them I had to talk to them. They sat, stone-faced and listened as I explained where I was. I explained how I wasn’t sleeping. How I was trying, so hard, to keep my shit together for them, but that I just couldn’t anymore. How I felt like Jackson deserved a better mom sometimes. And I truly, really felt that way. I truly had felt at the bottom that day. All day. And instead of reaching for help, I went further down into myself and had come out so bad on the other side.
Jackson was crying at this point, saying that I should never say that again. That he would never want a different mom and it scared him. That he was scared. For the first time since this has all happened he admitted to being scared. I have tried to have a lot of talks with him about feelings, but he would never budge. It all came out that night. I told him about how my feelings of guilt morphed into anger. About how it all stems from fear. About how I take a pill, everyday to try to combat this, and even so it doesn’t always work. He nodded in understanding, even though he never could, and I hope he never does. Just like I hope I never turn into my own mother, who would bottle all her fear in and then blow up at me in screaming anger. I strive every day not to be that person. Like how Jerimiah strives every day not to bottle up emotions, not to be mean, not exhibit any of the behaviors he saw as a child. It is tough work, and sometimes we have breakdowns. All of us. And that’s okay. I would rather have my child witness my truth, then shove things down, down, down. Then we sat there and hugged for a long time. Went up to the bed, and all slayed together and read books until we fell asleep.
Afterward I wondered about you all.
During my breakdown my husband listened intently. My son cried with me. My family took care of me. Allowed me to lose it, then helped put me back together. But I wondered: What do people do when they don’t have a family that is supportive? When they don’t have friends that will listen? When they don’t feel comfortable sharing their truth with the ones they love? How are people coping right now with families they are stuck with, literally? Family members they can’t stand to be around? Why and how are people in relationships with people who don’t make them feel loved and wanted, even at their worst?
I can’t imagine it, y’all. And please, please, if you find yourself in one of those situations, please reach out. To me, to someone you love, to a therapist, to a medical professional. Because we can’t risk it. You can’t risk it. Times are bad right now. They are for most of us. You are not alone. You. Are. Not. Alone. Even the best, most chill of us (like my husband) need to break sometimes. And we should be allowed to do that with the people we love standing behind us, catching us, and putting us back together.
I’m gonna leave some numbers here for you to call if you need to. And I’m going to leave a reminder, one that my son told me, “I am scared. I am scared that I will lose people I love. I am scared about what the world will be like when this is over. But no one can replace you.”
Y’all know I have limited my Facebook access to 15 minutes a day. I started this back in January. It was very helpful then, and has been VERY helpful now. The only problem is that when I decided to do this I made Jerimiah password protect my access so once my 15 minutes are up, I am kicked off Facebook. UNLESS… I beg and plead with him to give me more time (I don’t really have to beg, he gives in easily). WHICH IS THE PROBLEM! Today I got sucked into FB for three hours because I made a post that ruffled some feathers with my “Truth bombs” as my husband likes to call them, and then I had to spend the next two hours explaining to people, in the nicest way possible, how wrong they were. I even had a family member chime in and say that she was “tired” of my posts and thought we needed to talk about the real truth, which is that the “Chinese have been trying to get us for a long time now and this is all their fault.”
I’m tired of “fighting” on Facebook, y’all. I’m tired of having to correct people (some of them are really intelligent) yet still, I have to give them facts that they could easily find on their own but are too mad or too scared to search for. One could say I am not the “truth police” and you would be right. I don’t NEED to put these people in their place, but if I don’t then who will? Who will stop them from saying shit like, “This is the fault of Chinese people!” Who else will say, “Umm, I think you are reading from Breitbart again. Remember that Breitbart is not considered a ‘factual news source’.” Does it come off as jerky? Yes! Does it come off as uppity? For sure. But I’m not trying to be, I’m trying to make them understand that if they get all their new from InfoWars, they are sorely misguided.
I guess I just need people to remind me that it does no good. I always think, this will be the person. This will be the time they “get it.” The time the see that our president holding up checks to sign his name on them is not a good thing, rather a very bad, very horrible, very “I’m gonna buy your vote, remember I’m the one who saved you, Trump2020” thing. I look over at my exasperated husband and ask the question on all our minds, “What the hell would they have done if Obama would have insisted on signing his name to those stimulus checks?” Dear Lord. We know the answer. And we know he would have never even considered doing it.
All this snowballs, and there I am three hours in and mentally and emotionally drained. How many times can I yell, “OMIGOD what is he trying to say?!” at my dogs, or discuss with my husband whether that mutual friend of ours is trying to be an asshole, or they are just completely dumb to the real world? It’s exhausting.
Today I had people jump all over me because I said I got a stimulus check and was donating to the Biden Campaign. First of all, it was a joke. Ta-da! I already donated all I will (monetarily) to a presidential campaign this year. And it was $50 and it was to Bernie. But I don’t need to explain that to anyone. Look dumb if you want to, which is how that same family member looked when she outright asked on my FB page how much I sent Biden, and if I had the money “diverted” to him? Is that even a thing? How? What? I don’t know you guys, but I’m only giving man hours now, not money, through the Postcard to Voters campaign (shoutout to my friend Jenn for telling me about this). I wish I were making this up cause it would make my family seem less crazy. But you know me and the truth… We didn’t donate to Biden, but we did actually donate money (and you can too) to Hope Atlanta and to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which is helping feed kids in our school district who need fed. But is that anyone’s business? Nah, dawg. Nah. Then I kindly explained to my family member that, “Asking people what they do with their money is rude.” Then other people got mad at me for doing that. “Cause you know Missy, she’s just uppity”. Throws hands up in the air.
To make matters worse, my nerves are shot, I’m not sleeping, and every time someone says something to me I’m taking it personally. Like I assume that they are trying to start a fight with me, even when they maybe aren’t? I just assume that. And if I’m doing that then I know other people must be doing that. Are we doing that, y’all? Are you doing that? I haven’t changed a thing about how I run my life (other than not leaving my house) or how or what I write about in the last month (other than writing about Covid-19 more), but people are coming out of the woodwork to tell me how horrible of a person I am for saying what I say and writing what I write. And all I can think is that they don’t agree with me about my opinions, and because they are also not sleeping, and scared, and angry, they have decided to take it out on me because I routinely put it all out there for everyone to consider.
I bet some of you are feeling like the friend/family scapegoat these days too, and if you are, man, I’m sorry. This will all pass, I promise. And maybe you will have less “friends” on social media when it does, but at least you will know who truly supports you and who doesn’t, right? Silver lining? Something to look forward to. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has been like, “That’s it, I’m deleting my FB account!” But then I have to remind him that if we do a joint account people will think I cheated on him. So he keeps it. But like, should we though?
I dunno you guys. I guess I’m here today to ask for all of us to exercise a bit more grace? I know I need to, and I assume you could manage it too? I think we all could right now. I keep reading Mama Brene’s inspiring words every day thinking, “Jesus, how many iterations did she have to go through to get to that?” Because even Mama Brene isn’t that nice right now. She can’t be. Because being nice takes a lot of work, especially at a time like this, and if we aren’t mindful of it, if we don’t recognize that we aren’t being nice, then we are already two steps behind. I think. Again, I feel like I need to apologize for MY OWN DAMN OPINIONS on MY OWN DAMN WEBSITE. What has this world done to me?!
Let’s make a pact: I will try to ignore haters, and spread some goodness today. You will try to take a deep breathe today when you are feeling reactionary. I will do the same. You will not respond immediately to a source on the internet, until you have fully given it thought and research. I will not pass off indifference for kindness. You will not get too down on yourself. I will look at pictures of llamas. You will look at puppies. We will text each other and say hi. You will send a hug emoji to a friend. I will send flowers to a family member. WE will lift up others and try to show some grace, otherwise, shit is going to go downhill fast.
Remember what Michelle Obama (OUR BELOVED QUEEN) says, “When they go low, we go high!” Let’s go high today, y’all! (Or get weed-high, whatever helps.)
Stay safe and sane.
For you… You can click on picture to take you to website to purchase!
Everyday I wake up with a fresh mindset about the world we live in right now. Then everyday by dinnertime I’m either angry, sad, or sangry. Yeah, that’s a thing. At least, it is now. So today, while I’m still in a relatively okay-ish mood I’m trying to decide what exactly is making me sangry. It seems hard to pinpoint when I’m sitting alone in my office pontificating on the state of things with my friends.
All these thoughts going through my mind, making me crazy. Patsy thinks I might have ADD, but that’s a whole other post. Today I’m telling my friends about what makes me lose sleep and it boils down to this: I am so upset about how our country reacts (as a collective) to basically every bad thing that happens to us. Seriously. I think that’s what is making me sangry right now. I know that is broad, and I know, yes I know, that there is nothing I can do about that, but that’s what keeps me up at night. The way that, unlike say how New Zealand does things in a wake of a tragedy, we as Americans (may I remind some of you that we are US Citizens, we are not the only “Americans” in the whole world, there are a lot of “Americans” in South America for example) react so negatively, so ridiculously when we are hit with tragedy that it makes my heart hurt.
I mention that whole “Americans” thing, because I think it shines a light on what drives us to be total batshit crazy at times of crisis: We are so self-indulgent. So egotistical. We care so much about ‘Merica and ‘Merica only, that we forget there is a whole wide world out there, a whole planet that we share with billions of people, and what we do, and how we act, has repercussions.
Now it is true that since Trump was elected the world has taken us less seriously. With Obama they looked to us to see what we are doing, so they could do the same thing. Now they look to see what we are doing so they can do the opposite, because they want to save their people and the planet. So a lot of what I am feeling has been creeping up in my throat for the last three-and-a-half years. And I am hopeful that we will put an end to this fuckery this year, but it has allowed people, people I know and love, to show their true colors, and y’all their colors aren’t pretty. And some of them aren’t even red, white, and blue. Some of them are just white. Ya dig?
So yes. I think that is it. I think that I am embarrassed to be a US Citizen right now. I think I’m embarrassed that the whole state of Oklahoma is trying to find The Tiger King employees at the local Walmarts, while they buy up all the tp, and plan family and church outings because they literally don’t believe that Covid-19 is real. (I’m picking on Oklahoma, but those ideas are rampant all over the south as well.)
I’m embarrassed that people are picking fights on social media, saying things like, “Y’all are so divisive!” as they share doctored photos of Barack Obama at an ISIS meeting (still, they are still sharing this made-up bullshit), or continue, continue to talk about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi. Literally four people died there. Four people. We are at 20,000 now. Guess what that makes us in the USA for Covid-19 deaths? Number one. Yeah, “We’re number one! We’re number one!” PS… I’m leaving a map here to show you where Benghazi is, because the other day (not exaggerating like two fucking days ago) a long lost cousin shared a meme to remind us all about Benghazi (not sure why, must be the same reason Trump is still talking about the impeachment hearings, sleight of hand shit) and people on their page were legit arguing over where Benghazi even was. Did y’all know it is in the country of Libya, on the continent of Africa? I’m sure you all did, but there are a lot of people who DO NOT KNOW THAT. Did y’all know that Africa is not a country? Again, I’m sure you did, but some people DO NOT KNOW THAT.
Someone said they knew it was where those “Sand (N-word)” lived, but that was it. (Long, audible sigh). Most of these people are related to me by marriage, if I may.
Lest I remind you all the money that went down the toilets to “investigate” Obama and Clinton over “Benghazi” and how all of a sudden, Republicans are worried about the money we spent on the impeachment, but they were cool with us spending money on 10 separate investigations on Hillary Clinton. And still, they still want to investigate her. All Trump has to do to get people pumped up at his rally is say “We should investigate Hillary” and people are on their feet screaming. Rallies that, by the way, he was actually still holding last month when some of the country was already under quarantine. Le sigh.
So yes, it’s the behavior of my fellow citizens, the current administration, and some very loud, very racist, very naive people on social media that keep me up at night. That mixed with the fear that I think we all have, about what our country, what the world, will look and feel like on the other side of this.
So how do we combat it? The simple answer is that we can’t. Well, I mean, we can vote for Biden in November (you have to vote and you have to vote Biden if you want this to be over). But aside from that, we can only keep doing what we are doing. Worrying, reading, loving, staying home. Writing, baking, dreaming of our next vacation. Creating art. Hugging those you are quarantined with. Sending cards and flowers to those you can’t see right now. Face-timing. Gardening. Going on walks. Binge-watching Netflix. Trying to stay occupied so we don’t ruminate too long on one thing, because that is what gets us into trouble.
This is just a rant post. I know. But thanks for reading you guys. For still being around. I know this is a shitty time, and you’d much prefer I share funny stuff, or just shut the hell up and show pictures (which I promise to do this week), but meanwhile you always seem to “get me.” Even when I haven’t done my best at writing how I feel because there is too much going on in my head. And for that I am grateful. For you I am grateful. And remember, when you think you’re the only one sometimes that feels a certain way, you’re not. No way. We are all in this together.
I recently learned a new term, Doom surfing. I first heard it out of context, a Zoom conversation with other writers, when someone said they felt like they were Doom Surfing and I thought, “Oh that must be what I do too!” Because I can tell you at any given point how many cases of Covid-19 we are facing in my county (539), state (6383), country (311,658), and in the world (1,216,422). These are the numbers at this moment, anyway, which was probably yesterday if you are reading this. I assumed that Doom surfing meant people who are always falling down rabbit holes of dread and doom, especially now, connected with the current pandemic. I was half right. Or sort of right. Or there are a couple of variations.
A couple days later I Googled “Doom Surfing” and came up with one of those variations. I saw the term used for people like me, sure, people who are obsessed with getting the up-to-date news on cases and deaths and CDC recommendations, which only serves to stop us from getting a good night’s sleep. But come on, four days ago I got an alert on my phone that said an 11-year-old boy died in the county I live in. The next day I got an alert that said that data was wrong. But in the precious 18 hours between those two news alerts I lost my shit. So I mean, sometimes the doom just comes, I don’t have to seek it out.
But this other variation on the term is a bit more, umm, how should I say this? It’s pretty fucking sad and scary. In Alexandra Wake’s article “Doom surfing and fact checkers prosper in Covid-19 infodemic,”Doom Surfers were likened to people who share Infowars articles to bait and scare people. Wake said, “There are the ‘doom surfers’ looking for anything about the virus to share; the self-appointed online moral enforcers who shame others for sometimes innocuous and other times problematic actions; the internet trolls who appear to find joy in spreading fear or provoking racism; and the comedians who can bring a laugh with a clever meme, song, or video, but, in some cases, may inadvertently cause further harm.”
This made me pause. I wasn’t this kind of Doom Surfer, if there are in fact kinds. At least I hope I’m not. I don’t think I’ve been sharing memes that could further harm. I mean, I’ve been laughing my ass off at Carole Baskin memes, but that feels like a different post. I do, however, know and am in some cases related to, people who do fit this description. People who share misinformation and say things like, “Jesus is the only way out of this. If you don’t believe you can’t be saved,” among other really cool things. (Sarcasm).
Then there is the infodemic we are living in. Infodemic is a term coined by the World Health Organization to express their frustration about getting correct information out to the masses in a time when so much misinformation is being spread. By who? Not WHO. You guessed it, the Doom Surfers.
So how can we stop them? Or us? Or all of it from bringing us down? Simple answer: We can’t. Well, we can’t really stop the other variation of Doom Surfers, but we can work on our own behavior like the way we respond (or don’t respond) to them, and how much time we spend getting sucked into the rabbit hole of hell.
Here are some things I have done in the last three weeks to help, maybe they can help you too:
Log off. That’s easier said than done, I know. But even in this craziness I am still trying to limit myself to 15 minutes a day on Facebook (Y’all know I’ve been doing that for months now) and it is really helping.
Log into new, different ways of connecting to people. Look for the cool concerts, free art exhibits, and other new and amazing things that are happening on the internet these days. Last Friday night Jerimiah, Jackson, and I joined some friends in Rhode Island via Zoom to watch an improv troupe perform. It was so much fun. You can check them out here: Bring Your Own Improv
Read, read, read (but not the internet, duh.) When quarantine hit I ordered three new books that I’ve been wanting to read from three of my favorite Indie book stores around the country. For real. I ordered one from Chicago, one from Kansas City, and one from Atlanta. Supporting small business and getting my read on, it’s kinda cool. But if you can’t do that right now, check with your local library, most of them have online books you can virtually check out and read on your phone or iPad now, and/or other free online libraries like Open Library where you can legit check out Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmade’s Tale” right now. Do it! There are also lots of Little Free Libraries all over the country now. You can find those registered near you at their website. There were seven in our neighborhood in Charlotte, we even helped build them! You just bring an old book from your shelf that you’ve already read, and stick it in there, then pick a new book from the shelf that you haven’t read. Super simple.
When you are scrolling, scrolling, scrolling and you find yourself confronted with one of those people, the other kind of Doom Surfers, scroll on past (if you can). Sometimes you can’t though. For me it’s a simple question: Is this person potentially harming someone with their misinformation? If they are, then you know I can’t scroll on past. I have to say something. I try to keep it short, tell them the nicest way possible they are giving wrong information and remind them to check their sources. I will often do that for them, and post a source with the correct information alongside my comment, then I tell them to DM me if they are confused or want to talk more. Trust me, no one fucking DMs.
Last, but certainly not least, go outside. This sort of goes along with logging off, and I know some of you are like, “Missy, girl, I am not an outside person.” And I get that. But desperate times call for desperate measures, ya dig? Try it. For me. Go sit on the deck in that chair you bought when you moved in and it still doesn’t have a butt imprint in it. Dust off the pollen first. Go for a walk around your neighborhood. If you have a dog cool, if not, call your local animal shelters, the ones who are desperately looking for people to foster right now, and ask how you can foster, or if you are not committed, ask how you can walk a dog everyday. Trust me, you can. They have them. The dogs that would love an hour-long walk outside with a human who will also pet them.
Watch good television. Or bad television. Binge watch “The Office,” again. “Tiger King”? If you just can’t do it, if you just can’t bring yourself to watch a documentary that you think is horrendous and crude (it is, but it’s also so much more) than may I suggest some others. HBO is offering free streaming for 30 days right now and there is a great documentary based on the “Serial” podcast from a few years ago about Adnan Syed. You know the one. There is also a documentary series on Netflix that I recommend about men and women in prison in New York who can attend college through the Bard College Prison Initiative. It’s by Ken Burns so you know it’s good. It’s titled, “College Behind Bars” and it will get you thinking about a ton of things. It will really combat those hours you gave to “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.” What’s that? You’ve never seen “W to the Fourth”? Then stop talking shit on “Tiger King.”
I hope some of this helps you. Some of this entertains you. Some of this inspires you. Most importantly, remember that Doom Surfing, as you and I do it, is sometimes inescapable. There’s nothing wrong with you if you are doing it. It’s human nature, actually, to want to know what is happening. And we are all anxious and scared and a little sad right now. That is the stone-cold truth. You are not alone in those feelings. But just make sure you aren’t the other kind of Doom Surfer, ya dig? Cause that’s bad news bears.
Take care of yourself. And be on the lookout for my “Tiger King” post, because obviously I have some shit to work through with that. Christ.