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.

Middle of the Night Thoughts

My mouth smells like one of those hush puppies you get at Long John’s Silver. Eww. I know. It’s the middle of the night and once again I am awake and once again I am having some crazy thoughts like what at the hell does Long John Silver even mean? Is that the name of the pirate? Was he tall? Aren’t all pirates tall with their large hats and parrots and wooden legs? Also, Silver? Did he have a bunch of silver he wouldn’t share or is it his last name? I didn’t know pirates had last names. I thought they were just named like the Seven Dwarfs, Sleepy, Dopey, Crazy Scurvy Joe, stuff like that. Speaking of the Seven Dwarfs, is that still politically correct? Should it be Seven Little People? That’s a show on TLC that I would watch in a heartbeat. I’d subscribe to their channel and pay like $5 a month to see Seven Little People with bad attitudes and names that evoke their personalities. That reminds me of Ms. Juicy Baby in Little Women-Atlanta, one of my favorite shows featuring Little People. I used to like Little People, Big World but then the kids grew up and the dad got all angry and they divorced and the dog died and ehh. Too much real life happened.

I had to Google “Long John’s Silver” and it turns out I was all sorts of wrong. First off it’s Long John Silver’s, not Long John’s Silver. Then I found the part where a corporate entity tries to tell their sweet story here but I was left unsatisfied, like when they forget to give me that little packet of malt vinegar in my to-go order and I have to complain the whole time I eat my oddly-shaped fish that I don’t have malt vinegar to go with it, then make sure I write malt vinegar on my shopping list so I always have it one hand when this sort of thing happens, which in fact, happens more often than not.

Hmm, Long John Silver’s. Who knew?

M.

Super Saturday

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

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

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

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

Get some rest, y’all. You deserve it.

M.

Refresh, Refresh, Refresh

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

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

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

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

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

M.

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

Saturday at the Farm

We visited a friend’s farm last weekend. It is called Butts Mill Farm, and it is out in Western Georgia, near the Alabama state line. Our friend’s parents own it, and it’s less of a farm in the way you are imagining, and more of a family-fun farm, complete with peddle cars, number boats, and miniature horses that you can pet and feed and fall in love with and try to convince your husband to let you bring one home and get denied. Which is bullshit, but I just want you to be aware before you go.

Well, maybe you’ll have a nicer husband.

I digress. We had an excellent time at the farm, and not just because we visited for free and were fed pizza for lunch (although, bonus!) Yes, our friends are that nice. But really it was because we adore these friends and their family was so super nice, that we even got a super-special tour of their big collection of vintage cars and truck, which Jackson LOVED! Whew.

We got to play in a creek that has swings you can set in and watch the whole day go by. We got to feed goats, and go inside an antique Grist Mill. We got to ride a horse (well Jackson did, for the first time mind you) and play all day. Jackson was happy to be with his buddy Bella, whose grandparents own the farm, and Jerimiah and I were happy to hang with other adults and carry on conversations and not be inside our house. It was sort of the perfect day. Not too hot, overcast most of the day, and did I mention the 12-year-old rescued Macaw named River, who was just a delight, until he started screaming at me? Wow. It was a good day. Here are the pictures and trust, if you ever find yourself around these parts and wanna go check out the farm, let me know. We are always in for a trip out west.

M.