Whoops-a-Disney

Well y’all know when I get really stressed out I sometimes find myself booking a Disney vacation, right? Ope! It used to be that Jerimiah would stop me, or at least slow me down a bit, make me consider other things like vacation days, school days, shit that is important in other people’s minds, not mine. But a few weeks ago when I was all, “Damn dude, I’m feeling like I need to escape to Disney for a few days,” he was all, “Sounds about right.” Did you catch a, “No, Missy! That’s not a good idea?” in there? No, I didn’t either.

It feels like it all happened so fast, but listen this time I was having a hard time booking an actual hotel room. You know we like to stay on property because duh, but we only have about five days because Jackson has a long weekend coming up so we decided to focus in on there. But that’s a quick turn-a-round time for Disney and it’s a holiday weekend so we were not finding anything. Like nothing. All the hotels were sold out. I even went as far as to Google, “Why is Disneyworld so freaking busy?” and I got a bunch of responses but mainly it was that it is their 50th anniversary and people have been actually saving for years to go this year and also pandemic and also life sucks right now and Disney makes it better (for some people. Some cool people.)

But in the end, I called Disney and they made it work for me because again, it’s Disney, and just when you think it can’t happen, something magical happens.

So we leave Thursday for five days and we are staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, which is great because we love New Orleans, but not the actual New Orleans (Jackson spent one weekend there and said he never wants to go back) so we are going to get the whole NOLA experience without the headache of people vomiting on you on Bourbon Street or someone yelling at you from the streetcar or a hotel falling on top of you. It’s a win/win.

For those of you Disney nay-sayers I wish I could say something that made you love Disney, but alas, I just recently stopped trying to do that. I have realized that some families just aren’t cut out for the world of Disney. To the rest of you, see ya at Epcot!

Ears up.

M.

Our first trip in first grade!
HUGE Doc McStuffins fan back then!
Gonna recreate this one for sure!
Jackson and I LOVE the teacups! Daddy and Mama, not so much!
Mama’s first time at Disney last spring!

Chaos and Control

Whew. It’s been a hectic season and I don’t just mean the holidays. When it gets too crazy I tend to shut down and shut down I have. I haven’t written anything new, not even on this here blog, for quite some time now and while I have a lot I want to say, a lot I want to fill you all in about, I really just wanted to jump on today to say that I am still here and so are you and isn’t that just dandy! Yes, I think it is.

The truth is that I don’t know what my life is going to look like six months from now. Like, actually, I have no idea what my life will look like in very big ways, like we might be moving from Atlanta, I might be having a major hip surgery, I might be put on a medication that requires infusion every six weeks, big things (not all good, not all bad) are afoot here and it feels a bit like things are spinning out of control, so I want to focus on the things I can control. Doesn’t that make the most sense? Yes, yes it does.

Let’s make a list of things we can control. If you are feeling like me, or have ever felt like me, or (most likely) will ever feel like me, lists sometimes help. Try it! Here is mine.

Things That I Can Do to Feel Like I am in Control or Things I Actually Can Control

  • Getting enough doggy pets in everyday
  • Logging what I eat
  • Making healthier choices with food/drink
  • Writing again
  • Watching trash television that will help me feel better about myself, or at least take away my intrusive thoughts for 30 minutes at a time
  • Focusing on my family, getting quality time, cooking together, shopping together, playing more games
  • Ask questions, or at least tell the person, “I do not have questions now, but I will. How may I contact you about them?” (This is really important with my medical stuff right now because when I am inundated with new info it takes me awhile to process it before I have questions)
  • Doing something creative every day
  • READING MORE!
  • Ask my doctor for some help sleeping (ie…get some prescription sleeping meds, y’all because this not sleeping just adds to the damn problem)
  • Get 10 hours of sleep! (Yes, I need 10 hours of sleep to function and you’re kidding yourself if you are one of those, “I just need four and I’m good.” No. Everyone needs at least 6-7 hours, most of us need more we just refuse to admit it. GET SOME SLEEP!)
  • Work to block intrusive thoughts (I’ve been thinking about scheduling “Intrusive Thought Time” into my day. I know that sounds nuts, but that way if an intrusive thought comes that I have no control over, I can try to take control by being like, “Nope. I will deal with that at my scheduled ITT.” I’ll let you know how that goes..)
  • Stretching, lots of stretching
  • Calling/texting friends more to check in
  • Planning a vacation to literally anywhere

Okay I am feeling better, y’all. Just knowing that I took the time to write a list that may be helpful, just knowing that I took the time to check in here, it all helps tremendously. I hope you take a moment today to do something you like.

Take a walk.

Watch the birds in your backyard.

Buy a new sweater online. (Brr, it’s like 40 degrees here!)

Call your mom (or someone you love like a mom)

Those are just some ideas, but the truth is we all have our own things, just find yours and do it, just for ten minutes. I think it will help.

Stay safe and sane.

M.

Tough Times

This year has been tough on the old psyche. I’m not 100% sure why, but I think a lot of it has to do with the way that Jerimiah and I spent last year growing and changing. We both opened ourselves up to seeing the world from other’s people’s perspectives. We decided to get very serious about anti-racism, often holding our friends and family accountable in a truly uncomfortable, but necessary way. We were the most political we’ve ever been and it showed. We realized the sort of people we want to be and the sort of people we want to surround ourselves with and unfortunately that means leaving some people and opening ourselves up to new ones. It has been tough, really tough. When basically one whole side of your family either unfriends you or unfollows you from FB, well, you know you’re doing something right! Growing and changing and holding people accountable. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

But all this has really done a number on us mentally and emotionally. Like sometimes we just look at each other and sigh because really, what is there to say? We know who we are, where we stand, what we expect from people, grown adults and our own kid, our parents, our siblings, extended family and our friends, and if they can’t or won’t live up to those standards, well there’s no way we can help, we’ve been lowering our standards for too long. Then there’s the fact that we live hundreds of miles away from the people we care about and for the last decade at least we have spent considerable time trying to stay connected. We were always the ones traveling, even with a baby, then a toddler, then a kid. We were always the ones calling and texting, inviting them to holidays and trying to get everyone together in the summer, well until recently. Honestly keeping tabs on everyone, trying so hard to stay connected when we are so far away from them, it really gets tiring. Y’all know this. We know this. So we are taking a break. Which means it will get worse before it gets better.

To top it off this is my last “real” semester in grad school. Next semester all I have is thesis and if you have never had a “real” last semester of grad school let me liken it to, oh what shall I liken it to? Dog shit? Horse shit? Oh I know, do you remember when you were a senior in high school and the “senior-tis” hit you hard right in the face? Like you could see the finish line. You could see the pot of gold. You could see your dumb, overcrowded state school in the horizon with all the beer that you could handle and you wanted so badly to be there you stopped sort of caring about anything else, eyes on the future instead? Freedom. Yeah, I’m there now, only grades still count and I won’t actually be done with my terminal degree until I finish this damn semester. Bleh.

And for the final cherry on top! Are you ready?! Jerimiah has been offered a new position in a totally different part of the country than we have ever lived before. Sigh. It’s really all you can do sometimes.

But as luck would have it our favorite time of year is rolling around! Christmastime! Jackson came inside a month ago when my mom was visiting and she had just picked up a can of smell-good stuff and sprayed it without paying attention to the scent and it happened to be “Christmas Magic”and Jackson came inside and was all, “OHHHHH, it smells like Christmas! I love it!” Then he went into a deep dive about how freaking excited he is this year for Christmas and he doesn’t know why.

I know why. The same reason Jerimiah and I are excited. A reprieve. A rest. Time together just the three of us, to relax, recharge, and reflect. To do puzzles at the kitchen island and watch Christmas movies. To build Legos and model cars. To zoom Hot Wheels through the Christmas village. To plan how we want to decorate the tree and which new snow globe we will buy. It’s the baking and the giving, oh he loves the giving! He likes the getting too, make no mistake, but he loves to bake all day the Sunday before Christmas and run around the cul-de-sac passing out treats and gifts. Mini apple pies for Mr. Charlie. A giant bone for Cookie, the neighbor’s chocolate lab. A Korean pear in return from Mrs. Kim. He loves it all.

Santa Claus still visits us too, but you already know that. You already know we plan to let that Christmas magic always flow through him and hopefully one day when he’s older, in college, or a single guy living on his own, or with his own children, he will be able to summon that spirit for himself too. Even when he least expects it, but so desperately needs it.

So yeah, things are freaking tough right now, but there is an end in sight. It’s so near I can almost taste it, and it tastes like pumpkin pie!

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Therapy

I’ve had no time, I’ve had no time, I’ve had no time! That’s what I keep chanting over and over again whenever I start to think about this here blog. And while it’s the truth, I also have a a tendency to get all caught up in my head, unable to share my thoughts with people, and that brings me here to the blog to share with you all, but lately my support system has been on point. Like my fellow PTO moms have been struggling along with me and listening to me vent. I unexpectedly got some time with my sister and best friend last week, and well, Jerimiah listens to me whenever I need him to and I’ve been leaning on him a lot lately. So I don’t want to say that I don’t need y’all right now, but if the shoe fits ya dig?

That got me thinking about how I also haven’t seen my therapist lately. Y’all know Patsy the Great, right? I haven’t seen her in like a month because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t even called to schedule my appointments. I schedule like three at at time and when they are over I forget to call to get back on a schedule and really I should just commit to a day and a time like they want me to, but I have to be difficult. Y’all know I am difficult right? You know I’m going to go ahead and do that now.

Okay, appointments made. For real. I just logged off and called and made my next three appointments. Thanks for pushing me to do that y’all.

How is therapy going for you? Do you stay on top of it or forget like me? I do Friday mornings because I always feel a little sad afterward, relieved, but also sad, you know how it is, and I like to rest a bit before Jackson gets home. Therapy is the hardest, bravest thing I’ve ever done and I’m sure it is for you too, so you know what, go ahead and pat yourself on your back right now! You are doing it, friend!

Now those of you who are still dragging your feet, my question is: What are you so afraid of? Is it looking into your actual self and not liking what you see? If that’s the case you can probably already name plenty of times you do that to yourself everyday. Having a therapist walk you through those feelings is really helpful. Or is it the stigma that comes with therapy? Then you’re certainly either over the age of 40 (my generation is making therapy real cool and will only judge you if you say you don’t go) and/or you have some childhood trauma you aren’t ready to touch. Or both. Hint: It’s usually both. And I understand. That’s tough stuff. I’m proud of you for naming it though, that’s the first step. When you’re ready for the next let me know.

Whew. Therapy. AmIRight?

I had no idea what this blog was going to be about today, but there it is. Get y’all an appointment post haste so I don’t’ have to judge you anymore.

Take care of yourself, in all the ways.

M.

Dog Shit (But Not Really)

How y’all been? Good, I hope. I had a great week last week on account of it being the Welty Symposium at my school and my professors being really busy with that. Seriously. And I didn’t need to attend because I did it last year and I’m doing short residency elsewhere in the spring so it was sort of like a week off and now that it’s Monday again and school is back in proper session I’m feeling ehh about the whole thing. Especially my thesis, which I managed to convince myself last week was a flaming bag of dog shit and I should just give up. Just give up, that’s what I was thinking when I woke up this morning from a dream wherein my thesis advisor Zoomed me to tell me that my thesis was “dog shit.” So there you are. A nice, relaxing week where I felt like I worked ahead, got some stuff done (including my very first book review that is due this week! Eekface) and then this week I immediately fell right down a negativity hole. What gives? I dunno. But this isn’t new.

That’s why I hope y’all are doing good. Because I know you can have a fine and dandy time one minute, then the next be all, “This is bullshit, why even do this?!” I know because it happens to me all the time and when it happens to me I get all these feelings tangled up together that I can’t seem to hash out. There’s the guilt for sort of “wasting” my time last week. No, I didn’t. I did a lot of stuff, but “it’s never enough,” so says my inner critic. Then there is shame for my brain thinking this way, like why don’t I have better control over my brain, ya know? Then there is the inevitable slide down the sadness wall where even petting my dog for twenty minutes while she tells me how pretty I am will not help. Bleh.

Has this happened to you? I hope it hasn’t, but if it has just know you’re not alone. Having a great week, a relaxing week, a week where you are free to do things on your own time, even sometimes a vacation, then coming back to the normal routine can make you feel ehh or bleh or ahhhhh! Then that makes you feel like an untitled brat who lacks gratitude. It’s normal-ish, I think, but I’m no doctor. I also know that these ahhhh, or bleh, or ehh feelings don’t last long. That doesn’t help when you’re in the thick of it, but it might help tomorrow or the next day.

So okay, what can you do if you feel this way? Make a blog post so you don’t feel so alone? Sure. Text a friend a funny meme to make you and them smile? Yep. Take a nap? Of course, sleep always helps. But really you just need to ride out those feelings. Trust me, I speak from experience. It’ll be better one day soon, until then keep doing what you need to be doing this week, keep checking those items off the old to-do list, and revisit these feelings when you have accomplished something, anything really, I’m currently doing one, just one, load of laundry to check “laundry” off my list for the day. Then I’m going to email my thesis advisor and tell her that I’m spiraling and hope she has some kind words for me, then I will maybe watch an episode of Teen Mom OG or Ted Lasso, depending, and you know what, things will be brighter when I wake up tomorrow. Or they won’t and we will try again.

I hope you are having a great day and if not I hope you find something fun and helpful to change it.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

That Sober Life

Why are you back on the blog yet again today, Missy? Don’t you have a life anymore? The short answer is no, I never have, the long answer is that I missed y’all so much and I know that you missed me too and I just have a lot to say right now. The honest answer is that I have 20 pages of thesis due, and a book to read so I can write a review on it, and so obviously I’m taking time to write on my blog again. Procrastination at it’s finest, if you will.

Actually today I’m just logging on to say that I am like 30+ days sober. No wine, at all. No White Claws even! Certainly no hard liquor or beer. Not on vacation, not even when I am in the hot tub waxing political (which is how we spent all of 2020). Matter fact, last time Jerimiah and I were in the hot tub bad-mouthing conservative republicans we drank Vitamin Water. Gotta stay hydrated!

We didn’t set out to do this, it just sort of happened. We’ve been tapering off of any alcohol or wine for several months now. In fact, since my liver enzymes first started showing as elevated back in May of this year (and I just recently tested positive for a liver-related autoimmune disease) I have been conscious of how much I am drinking. My liver specialist says an occasional glass of wine is okay, and maybe I’ll end up there eventually, but for now it’s not feeling like the thing to do.

While in Mississippi for residency this year I did not try to keep up with friends and I drank no hard liquor. Everyone was incredibly kind and gracious about it. While vacationing this summer I tried to stick to mainly hard seltzer waters and at no time during my vacations have I been totally drunk (even though Rachel tried to get me there! Damn you and your Fireball, Rachel!) Since my 40th birthday I have had nothing at all that contains alcohol. Though you know I will never turn down a ButterBeer! 🙂

Jerimiah and I are both attempting this sobriety thing, and he’s done just as well. He’s been in several social situations lately where he was expected to drink along with everyone else and he chose not to. It’s important to note here that we are both social drinkers. We don’t struggle with sobriety like some people and we recognize that staying sober is much harder for others. We see y’all trying and we support you. We love you and are here if you ever need an ear.

This is also a no-judgment zone! We would never ask our family and friends to abstain from drinking around us, and if you come over for dinner I promise to have wine available if that’s what you prefer. We totally support your decision to drink responsibly, and this has only been easy for us because we have never been dependent on alcohol. So take all I say about how “easy” it is with a grain of margarita salt. This is the perspective I am coming from.

We decided to try sobriety partly due to my elevated liver enzymes, partly due to not wanting to feel like shit the day after drinking a bottle of wine, and partly due to setting a better example for our kid. It was mainly me, and Jerimiah being the good partner he is said, “I’ll do it too.” I told him to use me as an excuse anytime he needs. Men can be real bitches to each other when one doesn’t want to drink a beer with the group. #ToxicMasculinity

I’m putting this info out here for several reasons: 1. When people talk about things openly it makes it easier, less taboo. 2. For people who have been considering the sober life for awhile to know it’s not so bad, if I can give up red wine, you can definitely do it! 3. Hopefully y’all will see this and the next time we go out you won’t be all, “Why are you not drinking, Missy?!” Then I can just say, “Wow, you really don’t read my blog posts, huh?” (insert winky face)

Speaking of going out, we’ve found club soda and a lime makes us feel like part of the mix, and prevents people from mocking us, people do that, in case you don’t know. And if you are trying the sober thing and people mock you, please don’t take offense, it’s just them projecting. We used to do it too, or at least talk about sober people behind their backs. But really it was because we felt judged, as if someone else’s sobriety had anything to do with us. Don’t be like the old us, y’all. Grow and change.

The truth is I only drank in social situations to feel better, to talk easier with people, to feel like I wasn’t so awkward or forward. And because, well, that’s what you are supposed to do as an adult, right? Mommies drink wine in groups and complain about their kids and husbands, right? (Yeah, I was feeling weird about all of that, probably because I have zero to complain about with my kid and husband.) But now I’m realizing it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t want to hang with me because I’m awkward or blunt or don’t drink, cool, more time in my pjs on my couch with my family and doggos! Win/Win! And I will still listen to other mommies complain about husbands and kids, I’ll just do it sober. If I’m ever invited again…Hey, no hard feelings if I’m not!

Still, there are bound to be people who won’t support you, there are people who won’t support me. They will poke fun at me, they will ask how “healthy” it is to take anti-depressants to get through the day. (I think I’m pretty open about how I handle my mental health, yes? In case you forgot, I take daily anti-depressants and the occasional anti-anxiety med along with bi-weekly therapy visits with Patsy, my saint of a therapist. I say “occasionally” about the anti-anxiety meds because I am only prescribed 30 Klonopin pills at the lowest dose possible, every three months so I have to make them count. I usually take a half of one to help me fall asleep at night or when I’m in a crowd of people. That’s also why people chose to drink a glass of wine! I’m just choosing to do it differently. To each their own, it’s all substances we are putting in our body to make our brains feel better. Right-io!)

People will also no doubt jump on board to remind me, yet again, that I’m fat so I’m not living the most “healthy” lifestyle. Ho hum. I’ve had so many people talk about my “dietary changes” in the last six months only because I stopped eating most meat (I’m pescatarian now) for no reason other than to make themselves feel better. You know those people, the ones that try to pass shade on what you are eating, without actually saying it. Like, “Well meat is protein and we all need protein.” Yes’m meat is protein, you know what else is, broccoli. But my “unhealthy” eatings habits and he way people react to them is another post, I promise. And again it just boils down to them projecting their own insecurities onto me. Making themselves feel better about their own choices. They will do the same to you. Ignore the haters, that’s all you can do.

Anyway, if you’re a drinker keep on keeping on, responsibly of course, and if you’ve been living the sober life, yay for you! Consider us part of the team now. And if you are considering it, jump on board with us now, we will support each other!

As usual, stay safe and sane, y’all.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Starbucks Coffee

What did the coffee say to the bean? Nothing, it was grounded! Hahahahaha! I have something serious to talk to you guys about: Why does the Starbucks coffee at the store hit differently than the Starbucks coffee you buy at bulk at Sam’s Club when you just went in to see if they had in toilet paper in stock, but you left with $489 worth of pots and pans, Christmas decorations, Spanish-style rice, and Starbucks coffee? This is both a real thing that I do regularly and a burnin’ question that I have about coffee. So much so that I Googled: “Why does Starbucks coffee…” and I started to type “hit better at the store than at home” but was sidetracked by the things other people Google about Starbucks coffee. Here are a few:

  • Why does Starbucks coffee make me poop?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste burnt? (Which led me to is it “burned” or “burnt” and that’s a whole other post)
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste so good?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee have so much caffeine?

Bingo! I think that last one is an answer to the question I seek. I suddenly realized that when I have had a horrible night of tossing and turning why I HAVE to go to Starbucks to get coffee because the at-home Sam’s Club bag just ain’t doing it for me, I think it has to do with caffeine and that is when I found this bitch! That link there is a complete guide to all the beverages at Starbucks and there caffeine levels and DID you know that there is a class-action lawsuit against Starbucks because people think they are cheating them on caffeine? What the what? I digress.

When I go to the store I order a Nitro Cold Brew. Sometimes a pumpkin (if it’s in season), sometimes a salted caramel, sometimes just a regular old cold brew. But the caffeine levels in those drinks are wildly different. And all of them have more caffeine than my regular old ground shit in a bag at home. I know because I found this bitch! That’s caffeine levels from all your favorite drinks from all over (even Dunkin’ which y’all know I love so much I have a Dunkin’ ornament on my Christmas tree, along with all my Starbucks ones). And let me just say this, if you really wanna get jacked, you’re gonna need to start ordering a grande blonde from Starbucks. Woo-Wee! Get on that girl and get on her fast! She has more caffeine than a “Bang!” Energy drink and I don’t even know what that is, but with a name like “Bang!” it has to be good! (Meaning really bad for you.)

I assume you’re impatient with me now, but we are used to that right? I know I am used to you being impatient with me, so much so in fact that I can breeze right through your subtle annoyances now, and tell you this: Starbucks coffee hits different at the store because the caffeine levels are crazy good–or bad– depending on how you look at it. And now I’m headed to Starbucks to pick me up a blonde so I can write about 15,000 more words today!

Bang, bang, y’all!

M.

There’s No Place Like Home

Meaning, there’s no place like where your home is. The home that has your actual shit in it. Your bed. Your favorite toilet. You hidden stash of chocolate. But alas, for the next 24 hours my “home” will be in a rented Chevy Suburban since Jerimiah, Jackson, the dogs, and I are leaving tonight to drive to Kansas to get my mom, to then turn right around and drive back. Twenty-four hours of being in the car with gas and bathroom breaks with my kid, my husband, my dogs, and my mom (for 12 hours). This should be fine, totally fine.

Listen, we haven’t seen my mom in over a year and she wanted to come visit for Christmas and while she is mentally well, she is physically not able to make it around an airport without help. Plus, she would have to fly into, literally, the world’s busiest airport in December. So that’s a no. Plus, who is flying right now? And if you are, why? That’s all. Why? It’s bad enough to have to chart out the gas stations on the way to Kansas and back that you think might be the cleanest (that is to say all the Quik Trips) but how could you navigate a small space like an airplane and not constantly be bothered by the fact that you are sitting so close to other people. Like those people who flew from Mainland to Hawaii against doctor’s orders because they had all tested positive the day before but I mean, fuck everyone else on the plane, amiright?

So we are loading up today to make the trek and hope to be home by Saturday evening. We are taking the dogs because otherwise we would have to leave them outside all night (with the doors to the screened porch open of course, for shelter) because Winnie hasn’t learned to not chew up all our shit when we leave them alone for an extended period of time. We would board them overnight but Winnie, being a quarantine puppy, isn’t well socialized with people. That is to say people terrify her. She shakes and hides. So there is that. As you can see our dogs rule our actual lives.

We have all been tested. We have quarantined since tests and we are not making stops, going inside people’s houses, etc. We might make a couple of driveway stops to say hello to my sister and best friend, who are also not infected with the virus, with our masks on, no hugging, to say hello. Otherwise, nah dog. There are too many variables and too many people have not been tested and are around people who are not tested and who are regularly not taking this seriously. This, we have deduced, is the safest way.

So wish me luck. Or don’t, doesn’t matter much to me either way, but I do hope that you are wearing your mask, avoiding excessive and unnecessary travel (do as I say, not as I do) and are considering getting the Jolene Vaccine (The Moderna One) in the spring when it’s safe to do so.

Love to you all!

M.

Declinations

Nine. Thirty one. Twenty. Those are the numbers of declinations sitting in my “Rejection Folder” right now, by year. Nine rejections in 2018, the first year I started sending out work for consideration. Thirty one rejections last year, in 2019 and twenty so far this year, but please be advised there is still time in this year to get a few more! This is all to say that I have to change the way I see rejections, and I think it starts with what I call it.

I like the word declination better. As in the publication has declined your submission at this time, but thanks for trying and please try again. It seems better than the publication “rejects” your work and you and all the values you stand for, which is how I take it every time I get one.

Recently a friend told me about these groups of writers on line with goals like “100 Rejections in one year!” and I was terrified to even think of such a thing. Why would you want to be rejected so much?! But the truth is if you are rejected that much, that means you are sending out a lot and it probably means you are sending out to better publications, publications that won’t just print whatever, and trust I have found some that will, and you are being active about sending out your work. I figure if I can manage to write every day this year, then I should be able to amp up my declinations next year. I’m not saying I can get to 100, but I mean, it might be worth a shot, right?

I’m not setting anything in stone right now, just thinking about it. Putting into the universe to see what will happen. Hope you are thinking about how to make next year better than this one too even if it feels like it can’t be done. It can!

M.