As For Me and My House…

It’s late, 1:15 am and everyone is asleep in my house but me. Me and that damn Elf on the Shelf. Yes, he’s back. And yes, he’s a hot mess. And yes, Jackson whole-heartedly believes in him and in Santa and doesn’t get why people could believe in Jesus, a man who causes so much pain, but no Santa, a man who brings so much joy. To be honest, I’m at a loss myself. I guess as for me and my house, we will serve the Elf.

Our Elf on the Shelf’s name is Jackson because Jackson got him when he was four and that is when he had just learned to write his name and he had to write the Elf’s name in the book, so there you go. Jackson Elf is a little bitch. He makes messes in the kitchen, he creates works of art from my magazines, he once built a zip line from one end of the dining room to the other and invited his other elf friend, Elf Cam Newton (hey, we lived in North Carolina) to ride it with him. The hole zip line was made from paper clips. Literally hundreds of paper clips clipped to gather then carefully arranged into a zip line, all awhile we slept. And of course, they were my paper clips.

Jackson Elf doesn’t operate like he is intended. He doesn’t sit on a shelf all day watching, judging, then report to the big man at night about the chaos and sin he has witnessed. He’s not a priest. He’s an elf, and elves have fun damn it. Plus, we’ve never needed to scare our kid with Santa or Elf on the Shelf, though we once knew a little boy who only listened to his mother when she said two things: “Wait until I tell your Daddy!” and “Santa is watching!” Whew. What a life that must have been.

So Jackson the elf is plotting downstairs right now. I can hear him. The dogs can occasionally here him. The floor creaks, the boards rumble, the lights flicker. I don’t know what he is doing but I’m sure whatever it is it will bring a giant smile to my child’s face and shit man, isn’t that worth all the paper clips in the whole world?

M.

There’s More Than One Way to Crack a Nut

Jackson asked if we could get some nuts to use our nutcracker on. What nutcracker, I asked, perplexed. That one, he said, and pointed toward the mantle. Ohh, Jerimiah and I laughed, that’s not a real nutcracker, that’s a fake one. Why would there be fake ones Jackson wanted to know. Good question, I said. Then I explained that we have a silver, handheld nutcracker that does the job he wants to do and that the bearded man in buffalo check on the mantle is just for decoration. Then I went down a rabbit hole so big that I woke up yelling, Kurt Adler Nutcrackers!

Kurt Adler nutcrackers are the actual bees knees. I told my family this over breakfast. And if I had the money to blow on the one-of-a-kind Wizard of Oz one they sell at Macy’s then my day would be made.

My family looked at me with confusion in their faces and I had to agree, what the actual hell Missy?! But look at it though:

That’s one MFing cool nutcracker. Not like the ones I buy at Target on clearance two days after Christmas.

Anyway, if you are in the mood for a new nutcracker this year may I suggest you check out Kurt Adler Nutcrackers. You’ll find just what you are looking for! If you actually want to eat nuts though, well then, just throw a bag on the driveway and run them over with your car like my mom used to do. But wear a helmet, those suckers can fly.

Now let’s go crack some nuts!

M.

The Chaos After the Storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you are all unscathed these days.

M.

Changing Times

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

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

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

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

M.

Bone Thugs

Bone bone bone bone, bone, bone, bone, bone, bone, tell me whatcha gonna do, when you need some new china, what’s the difference between bone and porcelain, who will judge you if you ain’t got either? Tell me… okay, it only works if you know the song “Tha Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony so if not please listen to that and then come back here so we can talk about how I need, nay want, some family heirloom china but didn’t come from a family that could afford family heirloom china so now I have to buy my own and I’ve been living deep down in a rabbit hole of the differences in china and did you know bone china is actually made of bone?

Are you back? Did you listen to Bone Thugs? Are we on the same page now?

Bone china is only legit if it is made from approximately 30% cow bone ash. So yeah. If you’re family has heirloom china and it’s bone china it’s straight up made from the dead bodies of cows. Also, aren’t you a vegetarian, that must be weird for you. Also, real bone china, like the real deal stuff, the old stuff, probably had a little human bone mixed in there. Man, could you be so lucky?

To be fair Josiah Spode the Second (yeah, that’s a person) developed the six parts bone ash, four parts china stone, three-and-a-half parts clay (or was it his dead Uncle Clay?) recipe back yonder in the 1800’s. And for some reason today, in 2020, I want, nay NEED, a set of it. Probably because pandemic.

Now I don’t want the kind of bone china I can get from a trip to the Macy’s at Lenox Square, both because I try to stay away from Buckhead and because I want vintage shit. So it’s a tad harder.

I’ve been perusing Craigslist and people want a lot of money for their family heirloom china. Like Jerimiah was all, “Both the car and truck are getting new tires,” and I threw one of my $16 Fiestaware salad plates against the wall and screamed, “That’s my bone china money, bitch!”

I might have a problem when it comes to dinnerware.

I emailed this woman on Craigslist about a Fiesta platter the other day. She had three for sale for $75 (steal of a deal!) but I already have one of the platters so I only needed two and she was all, “I’m only selling as a set.” So I online stalked her social media accounts to see how much of a bitch she really is, like is she a Trump supporter, and she isn’t so I didn’t make a separate Craigslist post titled “bitch woman who won’t piece out her Fiestaware platter collection.” Look, IDGAF. You don’t jack around with Fiestaware and it’s not even BONE.

Do you see where I am? Like, mentally and emotionally? Do you see it? Is it clear? Is it a little translucent? Does it have a 24-karat gold edge? Is it scalloped? That’s where I am.

Send help.

M.

Dog Farts and Peacocks

I’m surrounded by dog farts and peacocks. To be clear, they aren’t actual peacocks (I’m not a fan) but rather representational peacocks. To be crystal clear, the dogs farts are real, not representational and quite abundant. I’m reading Flannery O’Conner (yes, again, or rather, still) with a highlighter, in bed, under my blanket that mysteriously matches “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories” (A Harvest Book edition). So mysterious. And my poodle is on the end of the bed farting because, and I think this is the correct answer, he hates me.

It’s midnight on a Saturday, or maybe it’s Sunday and this is my life now, and I wish it were a folly, a joke, a side-splitter, but it’s real life and as we know real life can, at times, be just as ridiculous as art.

That is all.

Good day, Madams and sirs.

M.

Mysterious…

Sleepy Time

A Klonopin, two sleep aid tablets, and a melatonin gummy, that’s my sleep regimen. I’ve been talking so much about sleep lately, or lack of, that I’d thought I’d share my concoction. It’s not perfect, in fact some days it’s not even good, doesn’t work. Makes me very tired, then goes away. Maybe my body adjusts? Either way, a Klonopin, two sleep aid tablets, and melatonin are my best friends.

Last night I took my concoction and went to bed. I read for an hour, no sleep, then another thirty minutes. Finally, my eyes just sort of closed. An hour later I was wide awake, looking at the clock. Midnight. Great.

Tossing and turning ensued, and by 4:30 am I decided to call it a day. I got up, took a shower, and was just about to get clothes on for the day when I thought maybe I’ll try to lay back down. Luckily I fell right to sleep this time, and slept until it was time for my doctor’s appointment. Probably what had been keeping me up anyway. Stress. Huh! It’s a bitch.

Hope y’all are sleeping well! If so, can you catch up on some for me. I’d appreciate it.

M.

I’m Vintage Now

I had a random memory today of rocking in a rocking chair of my very own when I was little. I’m not sure how old I was, maybe four, and I had on a blue sailor dress and it was my birthday. I’d just plopped down in the rocking chair made for someone like me (a kid) and I rocked and reached television. I’m not sure where the rocking chair came from, but I faintly remember what it looked like so I welcomed the internet in to help search. And I found the one closest to the rocking chair in my memory.

My rocking chair looked like this one. I think it might have been from The Cass Toy Company, at least that’s what internet sleuths before me have said. The company burned down before I was born, but it’s possible, and likely, this was a hand-me-down, or a garage sell find.

Anyway, I’m wishing I had that little chair now. Some of that four-year-olds energy, and just a smidge of that “vintage” charm around here.

By the way, I had to Google “vintage” in order to find this rocking chair from my childhood. What the hell?!

Maybe, probably we are all vintage by this point.

M.

Keeping On

It’s the middle of the night and I’m awake again and I need to pee but the dog is laying on my leg and she’s breathing hard, those quick, hard puppy breathes that mean she’s sleeping soundly and I don’t want to wake her. We don’t all need to be awake. We don’t all need to be prowling around the house in the middle of the night.

I’m two books in to this semester and I’m having bad dreams. Maybe not bad dreams, but certainly strange ones. Dreams about ghosts, and kudzu, and pits that are black and don’t end. I’m dreaming about the Civil War and death, and I’m seeing relics from another time.

I’m fighting back a bout of lows that always comes this time of year, but some years I don’t have the time for it to come and this is week two of my MFA program and I’m two books in, 10 articles, three discussions, a handful of Zoom calls, and I’m tired. I want to sleep most of the day because I’m awake most of the night and this cloud is following me around but I’m managing. And I’ll manage. Until I won’t anymore.

I’m crossing my fingers for December.

Keep on keepin on, y’all.

M.

Storms

It’s another 4:00 am post. I’ve been waking up each night at 3:00 am, and tossing and turning, waiting patiently to fall back to sleep. Last night I read, tonight I’ll write. Maybe tomorrow I’ll just stare blankly at the cracks of light in the curtains until my eye lids get heavy and my breathing slows.

Yesterday would have been my daughter’s ninth birthday. I’m supposed to have a daughter. Jackson is supposed to have a little sister. She should be nine. Playing Minecraft with her brother, asking for dolls, crazy over the Korean pop bands, or maybe just learning how to braid her own hair. I don’t know. I don’t know what daughters do, or like, or how they live.

Tonight I’m stuck in this same spot. I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. The weather is changing. There’s are two storms coming up the Gulf. And I just don’t know what daughters do. I’m sure I’ll get more time to think about it. I hope I’ll get more time to think about it. Just not at 4:00 am.

M.

So Common…

The first semester of my MFA program starts on Thursday. I spent yesterday combing through syllabus after syllabus, trying to figure out why the hell I am even doing this, and not one syllabus gave me an answer. What good are they if they can’t answer the mystery of my current life’s question? Bleh. I did start to get organized, and I did freak out and sorta scream-cry into my fan like Tommy Boy when he’s doing the Darth Vader thing. It sorta came out like, “LUUUUUUUUKE, why are you doing this to me?!” Turns out the Force couldn’t give me an answer either.

Most of this week’s work is standard, run-of-the-mill, first week stuff. Introductions, why are you here, what do you plan to get out of this program, on a scale of 1-10 how much do you LOVE Eudora Welty? That sorta thing. But I did stumble upon one project that a professor wants me to do that sort of peaked my curiosity. It’s for my creative non-fiction forms class. She wants us to keep a commonplace book. A what now? That’s what I said. A commonplace book. A commonplace book is just a notebook, or a moleskin, or a word doc, or a stack of notecards where you write down ideas, quotes, conversations, etc that delight you, amaze you, amuse you, etc, etc. With me now? I was all, Ohhhh, yeah I have like eight of those! I didn’t know they had a name.

I routinely use the “Notes” app on my phone. Or I take a picture of a page of the book I am reading, or a fold the corner down. Sometimes I think, hmm, I should get a recorder for this shit. Sometimes I just text Jerimiah. I will be all, “…my mother’s refrigerator in Chiang Mai, Thailand…” and he will be all, “Huh?” And I’ll be all, “It’s for me to remember later.” So yeah, I’m versed at this, but keep it all in one place? That might be the hard part.

So I started thinking, where is somewhere I could keep this Commonplace book? Should I do notecards, should I do digital? Turns out yes, because I have to turn in my Commonplace Book at the end of the semester and it has to be at least five pages, single-spaced. Well, shit.

So I decided since I come here every day, why don’t I just make a commonplace book on this here blog. So I did. It was easy. So now you have access to my crazy random thoughts–as if you didn’t before–and I feel more organized. Look at that, us working together.

Love you guys so much.

M.

One Day Accident Free

I worked in a factory once. It was a plastic, heat, 3M something or other factory. The point is I worked in one. A place where you had to clock in and out. A place you were assigned a pair of safety glasses (in my case two, because I dropped the first pair out of my pocket and ran over them), and there was a sign that hung above the entrance that said, “__ Days Accident Free.” I always liked that sign, mainly because it usually have a high number in the blank spot, something like 88. None of that has anything to do with what I’m here to tell you today, except that maybe if I had a sign like that in my house it would say, “__ Days Anxiety-induced Drinking To the Point of Vomiting Over the Side of the Hot Tub Free” and I’d currently be wiping the slate clean to start over at 1 again.

These are some rough days y’all. But as I laid in my bed Saturday night, or really early Sunday morning, and watched it spin around me I certainly remember a loud, booming voice coming out of somewhere to say, “Hey Girl, you’re too old for this actual shit.” And that voice was right. But here’s the thing, I didn’t intend to drink that much. And honestly, factually, I didn’t drink anymore than I normally do, but I did forget to eat dinner.

But here’s the other thing: I’m drinking more than I usually do these days. I suspect a lot of us are, and we need to keep an eye on that, ya dig? I was reminded yesterday. And I know what you’ll say: You’ll say, “Yes girl, me too!” Or maybe you’ll say, “Ohnothankyou I don’t drink and you shouldn’t either.” Or maybe you’ll be like, “This shit is rough. It feels like there is no end in sight and every once in awhile we need to let go of some of that control we so desperately try to give ourselves when the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, and for some of us it’s shopping online, for others it’s smoking that one cigarette you have hiding under the loose 2×4 in your shed, or maybe it’s a bottle of wine with your husband in your hot tub once a month. Whatever it is, we need to be okay with doing it. Every once in awhile.” Is that you? Did you say that? I hope so.

I hope so.

In this shitty, upside down world, I’m okay with my choices. Honestly. If I wasn’t y’all know I’d tell you so. But I’m not okay with pushing 40 and being hungover. Nay, nay. That shit’s for the birds. I’ll be keeping my wine hand light from here on out. And you, well you watch yourself too. And remember, I’m always around to talk.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Political Masking

I can’t sleep. It’s three am, and I’m awake watching the light from the window stream in. The light is different out here in the country. It’s softer. It’s the moonlight. Starlight. It’s the things you can see more clearly in the dark. I’m in bed, awake, thinking about kindness. About masks. About how different the world suddenly is for my child. But mainly I’m thinking about kindness.

The fact that wearing a mask for public safety right now is a political stance, or an opinion, or a whatever the hell it is, is making me very upset, and I think what it boils down to is kindness. Not niceness, not a performative act (although shame might be the driving force for some people to wear one), but rather the ability to think about someone other than yourself. If your concern with wearing a mask is your freedom, or how you look in one, or how it will negatively impact you, you’re completely missing the point of the masks. This isn’t about you, it’s about us, the collective. It’s about saving as many fragile lives as we can. It isn’t about you, it’s about your friend’s great-grandma, or your sister’s mother-in-law, or your child’s friend with a compromised system. It’s about wanting everyone to survive this. It’s about doing the most good for the most amount of people, which is probably why you’ll find mask-wearing will fall along political lines. The most good for the most amount of people, yeah, we don’t all want that. And I’m just laying here tonight, watching the moonlight stream in, and I’m wondering how we came to a point when genuine kindness, generosity, and care for humankind become a political stance. Maybe it always has been, I was just too naive to notice?

Take care, be safe, wear a mask, stay home if you can.

M.

Little Noises

Click, click. Tap, tap. Sploot. Click, click, click… These are the noises I hear at night when I am trying to fall asleep. I’ll be so close to sleep. My eyes closed, rolling back toward my brain from under my lightly pulled lids, then I will hear it. The click or the tap or the sploot. I open my eyes wide, cock my head to the side, grab hold of my husband’s sleeping arm. Do you hear that, I’ll whisper. He will respond in a snore. I’ll move my eyes toward the ceiling, imagine a squirrel scampering quickly over the layers of pine needles I haven’t willed myself to clean. It must be squirrels, I think. Then I lay my head back on my pillow, close my eyes, and try again.

I hear the noises, but the truth is, they aren’t there. They are part of a dreamlike state I get to before I fall over the cliff into dreams, into tossing and turning, sweating myself awake. The noises aren’t real, that’s why my husband doesn’t hear them, why my dogs are never jumping around barking. There is not really a click, or a tap, or a sploot. It’s all in my head.

This happens to me in times of stress. I hear things that aren’t real. Bacon sizzling in a pan. A wayward footstep. For years my doctors have blamed it on my medication. Auditory hallucinations they call it. Here, try this new pill instead. Only it isn’t the medication. The medication is doing it’s job. It is making me function all day. Allowing me to smile, even when I don’t want to. Allowing me to stay focused and motivated. But at night, when my brain is refusing to collapse into sleep, when the stress of the day catches up to me, then I’m on my own.

And all I can think right now, today as I wait to fall asleep in a cocoon of safety, my home alarm set, my husband sleeping quietly next to me, my son tucked safely in his bed, my two overly-anxious dogs at my feet, all I can think is, if I’m hearing clicks, taps, and sploots, what are other people hearing?

Hope you get some sleep today, friends.

M.

Instant Regret

  • When I say yes to a flavor shot in my iced coffee at Dunkin’
  • When my stomach has been rumbling and I trust a fart
  • Yelling, “Turn it up!” as I dance on a bar after three shots of tequila
  • Answering the door
  • That fourth enchilada
  • Every time I say, “I can help!” at a PTO meeting
  • “Ohhh, this gives me an idea! I’m gonna need some Sharpies.”
  • “What?! Me? I’ll be fine in the morning! Yes, another glass of wine!”
  • Open>Excel
  • Answering the phone for a number I don’t know
  • Answering the phone for a number I do know
  • Sign-up for a 20% off code
  • Using the bathroom at a Captain D’s
  • “What did Daddy say? It doesn’t matter, sure do it.”
  • Buying anything in a BOGO deal
  • Chinese food
  • Trying “something new” at Great Clips
  • Sign-up Genius
  • Horseback riding
  • Screaming, “Ain’t no laws, when you’re drinking Claws” as I jump off the roof of the dock
  • Agreeing to a dance off
  • Taco Bell
  • “We need another dog…”
  • Crawling out a bathroom stall in a Southern Missouri Quik Trip because the latch wouldn’t give and I had a panic attack thinking I’d be trapped forever
  • Offering to babysit
  • Scuba diving
  • Getting a pint of Ben and Jerry to limit myself, then eating my pint and my kid’s pint
  • “Let’s do the Couch to 5K!”
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  • Sitting on the ground criss-cross apple sauce
  • “I should be able to flush this toilet one more time…”
  • Trying a new recipe
  • Vacationing anywhere in Louisiana
  • Agreeing to donate to a canned food drive
  • Zoom
  • Jumping on the trampoline after I’ve had babies, and vodka
  • Vodka, all kinds
  • Attempting to teach my son the “Thriller” dance on a rainy night
  • Screaming, “You don’t know who Ronnie Milsap is?!” at someone I just met
  • Girls’ Night Out Painting Class
  • “Are you still watching?”
  • Free Trial!
  • My third Diet Coke

Be safe out there, y’all.

M.