Is This Really 5th Grade?

Jackson has been carrying a notecard in his back pocket all week with his phone number written on it. It’s for a girl. Her name is Molly and she’s in his class. She got a phone for Christmas and he overheard her giving her number out to a boy on the playground. Landon. Oh, Landon. You know Landon. He’s loud and obnoxious. He carries on with nonsense like untied shoelaces and poking dead animals with sticks. Jackson is not impressed. But Molly, he suspects, has fallen under Landon’s grip. Molly and Landon, he’s heard around the playground, are a couple. So although Jackson is in Molly’s classroom cluster, and a teammate on his robotics team, and a girl he would consider a “friend” first and foremost, he’s afraid to give his phone number to her because he doesn’t want to “rock” the proverbial pre-teen dating boat. Is this really fifth grade?

On Monday he wanted to ask her for her number, since she appeared to be readily passing it out. And he was prepared to, until he wasn’t. Until his nerves got the better of him. Until he heard the “girl drama” on the playground. Saw Landon doing high-kicks over the seat of the swing. He let himself get intimated. All worked up.

On Tuesday it was decided he would suggest that he give Molly his number, that way if she ever wanted to text, or link up to play Minecraft online, she had it in her phone. But when the time came, he backed away slowly from her desk, saying something about a dropped pencil. Le sigh.

On Wednesday he met me nervously at the front door of the school and flashed me digits on the notecard. I smiled and asked if he worked up the nerve to ask Molly for her number. No, he mumbled, racing me to the sidewalk, that was his number he wrote down to pass it to her, but he had chickened out again. Close, but no cigar.

By Thursday he had devised a plan. Molly is in charge of the morning announcements. So while she was in the office each morning, he had about five precious minutes to slide his notecard onto her desk. He added a diagonal arrow to the nameless notecard, to indicate that it was from him. He sits diagonally from her. Smooth.

On Thursday afternoon he came bounding out of the building and ran at me while I was talking to a friend. She’s the mom of another girl in Jackson’s class, so he stopped just short of us. We both turned and looked at him and he said, “Hi. Mommy I need to talk to you.” We excused ourselves and started down the sidewalk when he said, “Operation Molly was a success.” I told him congrats and asked what happened.

Turns out he was too scared to give it to her face to face, so he waited until the walkers had been called to line up upstairs. She happened to be away from her desk getting her book bag, so he placed a folded up note on her desk as he walked by. The note said, “Hey, it’s Jackson G. I heard you got a phone for Christmas, and I wanted to give you my number in case you ever want to text or anything.” As he walked out the door he looked back to make sure she had the note, and she was reading it, so he ran upstairs.

And just like that, girls are a thing now.

Great.

M.

New Year's Vacation Story

I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking what the hell, Missy? You never told us all about your awesome New Year’s vacation. Well here’s the thing, I planned on telling you all, in parts, but I didn’t want to bombard you with too much too fast because I care about you, and because there was much more pressing stuff to discuss, like my neighbor Randy. But here it is, the beginning of the New Year’s Vacation story. It is long, and it is sordid, but I promise it is fun, so let’s just dive right in.

A couple of months ago our friends Dave, Beth, and Morgan asked if we would like to come visit them this winter in Rhode Island. Now I know that seems like a shitty thing to do, at first glance. Like, “Hey, we live up North, where the snow comes, and the cold comes, and the frostbite is likely to set in, would you like to come up and slowly die with us?” But, because of global warming, and because we have never visited that area (and they have been to Atlanta a lot) it turned out to be a nice invitation. So we accepted.

(This could all be wrong. We could have forced our way up there, I just don’t remember. I think I was drinking wine when the idea came up.)

Anyway, they have a group they celebrate New Year’s with in Syracuse, so we were also invited to join that group, which meant we would be leaving Atlanta for Syracuse on or near the 28th of December. Well I started Googling things, as I do, and realized that we have never been to Western New York, and you all know how much I like Buffalo wings, which led me to Buffalo, which led me to Niagara Falls, which led me to Canada, which led me to Toronto, and I know what you are thinking, “That’s too much, Missy, stop, you’ll kill your family!” Ha, you’re right. Also, here are pics of us in Buffalo eating wings, in freezing weather at Niagara Falls, and in downtown Toronto.

No worries, they are still alive.

I’m feeling scatterbrained about all that we accomplished in one week, and honestly, honestly, it was a really fun trip, though incredibly advantageous. And Jerimiah and I had the flu the whole time which made things not as lovely as we would have hoped, but even through all that, through 3,000 miles, 15 states, two countries, four hotels, 15 friends, a train ride, and a partridge in a pear tree, we had a superb time and we would totally do it all over again! Whew!

All the cool shit we did is going to have to wait now because I am tired just writing it all out. I will however leave you with a video. I do this fun thing wherein I sing a geographically-actuate song to Jerimiah on long road trips. He really, ahem, loves it. And believe me I had a lot of songs to sing this time around. Please enjoy.

M.

West Virginia Song

I Can Buy Baby Llamas Now

It’s the night before the world goes back to normal and I’m fighting it. Fighting it pretty hard. School starts again tomorrow. Jackson has been out for just over two weeks now and it’s been amazing, and wonderful, and full of surprises and adventures. We had a wonderful Christmas at home, then we took a whirlwind trip (of which I have a ton more to share) to New York State, Toronto, Rhode Island, and NYC. But tomorrow it’s back to normal and it’s down to just Sir Duke and me at home, and I know what that means. I freak out.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my “Missy” time, and I need it more than ever now that I’m back at my own house after being gone for eight days, but I also know how lonely and quiet my house will be in the morning, and I am not looking forward to it. No one yelling about how I didn’t make waffles, again, and that’s all he wanted. No one sliding down the stairs in his belly, while the dog jumps and barks at him. And to make matters worse, Jerimiah goes back to his office tomorrow. Le sigh.

Jerimiah has been working from the home office (Lego table turned into a desk in the family room) for about four months now. So we’ve been able to sneak away for lunch dates, and sneak upstairs for, you know, whatever dates, and walk together to get Jackson from school, and such. It’s been quiet, but I always knew I could just yell from my office downstairs to ask, “Can I buy this baby llama on Craigslist or what?!” And he could simply yell back, “I’m going to stop telling you that you can’t buy farm animals, because we live in Atlanta and you are 38 years old and you are smart enough to know the correct answer.” It’s been fun.

But his office has been renovated now, and he’s expected back to work tomorrow, which means we go back to Jackson and I patiently waiting for the headlights to crest the driveway at 6:00 pm so we can pretend like we haven’t already eaten most of our dinner, while we move the food around on our plates. That is to say there will be an adjustment period getting back to real life, and while I am looking forward to being able to play Adele at top volume while I sweep the kitchen, I’m sad about all the other stuff. But, I guess I can buy baby llamas easier now, and have some time to hide them before he gets home. So… Win?

I hope you all have a great “First Day Back” tomorrow. May there be plenty of baby llamas to go around.

M.

The Lion King

We took Jackson to his first Broadway show last night: The Lion King! We asked our friends if they were up for a show and they said, “Of course!” So we debated a few different shows, with The Lion King in our back pocket. Then the day before we were headed to NYC, Beth’s uncle (who happens to be a sub in The Lion King pit) called and said he was doing the evening show the next night and invited us to come for a backstage tour if we wanted to. And yeah, we wanted to. And trust, neither the show nor the tour disappointed.

Now I’m no reviewer, and The Lion King was only my third Broadway show so I won’t try to review it, but I will say that if you’ve never seen it please get there ASAP. And don’t be late for the opening act, because it’s the absolute best part! Jackson agreed, until we got to the tour part and he got to meet Zazu IN PERSON!

That’s Jackson, holding his Disney Store Simba (Tip: They are $8 at the store across the street from the Minskoff, and since Disney gets all the money anyway, why not?) and he’s talking to Zazu, sure, and also to Jim Ferris, the amazing actor who works Zazu (and is the understudy for Timon and Pumba—be still my heart). How cool is that?! It’s pretty cool. And pretty special. Want to see something even more cool and special?

That’s the kids holding THE Simba puppet from the show! Now want to see something even more cool?!

That’s me, being attacked by wildebeests!

Well, maybe not. Still cool though, right?

Fine, fine, I know. I’m not that fucking cool. Usually. But I gotta admit one thing: The Lion King was awesome, and it was an interesting, exciting, amazing night on Broadway. And we are so lucky to have had that experience. And I have a thousand other stories and pics to share, and I promise I will, but tonight I’ll just leave you with a few more pics.

M.

The Salt Belt

It’s a unique experience driving through Northern states during the winter. We’re in day five of our eight day trip now, and just safety arrived in Rhode Island this afternoon. The weather is cold, but it’s not snowing. At this moment anyway. We realized, most suddenly today, that we’ve lived in the South for too long to remember that frost clings to trees in the wintertime, in long, thick icicles. That ponds freeze over. That snow storms drop out of nowhere. That people own boots, and several pairs of ski gloves, and say things like, “They’re out salting tonight.” It’s astonishing and slightly absurd how fast it’s all slipped from our Midwest memories.

Jackson asked what that “tepee looking thing” was, while driving east from Buffalo to Syracuse. I explained it was where they kept the salt. He hmpf’d and went on about his business. I thought nothing of it, then a few moments later he said, “Wait, what salt? Table salt?” I guess he thought they liked all their meats brined here. I mean, that’s not wrong, but what I meant was the salt for the roads.

Because in New England and in the Midwest, from Maine to Missouri, Kansas to Connecticut they still salt the roads. They roll out in big trucks, hours, sometimes days before a storm is expected and they lay down a coat of salt. It’s funny how easily I forgot about the way the lines form in the road from the backs of trucks. How K-Mart parking lots turned into makeshift salting HQs. How men smoking cigarettes, with snow plows fastened to their old Chevy trucks, run up and down the road in the dead of the winter and layer this protection on our roads.

Geez, I’m sure there are ramifications. Of course there are. The rusting from the salt. The money for infrastructure. The tax dollars. The equipment, the salt “tepees.” It adds up. And probably, likely, there are safer, more cost-effective, more environmentally-conscious ways. And maybe I’ll investigate more one day. But for now, for tonight, I’ll lie in my hotel bed and remember the men and the trucks. The salting and the K-Mart parking lots. And I’ll miss the Salt Belt a little more.

Stay warm!

M.

Christmas at the Goodnight House

When Jackson was born we decided we’d always spend Christmas at home. We aren’t into the lugging of gifts cross country, and the logistics of Santa visiting hotels, or relatives’ houses. We’ve always said our door is open to whomever would like to spend Christmas with us, and for several years we had grandparents come visit, and a couple of times friends stopped in a few days later, but for the last two years it’s been just the three of us, and Sir Duke, and while we missed our family (and enjoyed the pics they all shared from gatherings in the Midwest) we had another nice, little Christmas at home this year. Our first one in Georgia!

It’s a byproduct of living away from family, the quiet, small Christmases. And having a child who’s still young enough to lay out milk and cookies for Santa helps. Maybe, as we move into the teen years we can travel more, but until then, although I know our family misses us at Christmastime, we will be at our house, but our door is always open. Just be warned, it goes something like this:

This year Jackson woke us up at 6:00 am on the nose, and we dug in. Santa brought great gifts, including a new Nerf gun which exploded into a full-on Nerf Gun war between the three of us, running and screaming through the house while being pelted with rubber and foam. Ahh, Christmas morn.

We played with cars, we played with Jackson’s new video drone (which he promptly flew into one of the giant Georgia Pines that overlook our house). Sir Duke and I dozed in the afternoon, while the boys played a new Lego game on the PS4.

It was nearly 70 degrees, so we grilled steaks and shrimp for Christmas dinner, while Jackson took aim at his new Red Ryder targets, and Duke chased a brand-new tennis ball. We anticipated our upcoming trip over dinner, while we reminisced about the last time the three of us were in NYC together. After dinner we listened to my new record player (my old one had died), played with cars some more, than ended the night with a chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (four more to go)! And mind you, we did this all in matching pajamas. Ha!

By 10:30 we were all beat, including Sir Duke Barkington who had quite the assortment of gas-inducing treats. Whew! However, it was the merriest of Christmases at the Goodnight house. We hope it was the same for you!

M.

Ps… My favorite present was an antique globe for my office. 😍

Merry Christmas!

My best friend texted me from 833 miles away, and she said Merry Christmas! Then she asked if I wanted to come stay the night at her house. I said sure! Said I’d be over with all my new toys. Then I smiled. I hope she did too, remembering all those years that we did that. All those years that on Christmas morning we’d excitedly call each other. We’d say Merry Christmas, cause our moms expected us to, then we’d jump into, “I got a new doll!” Or “I got a Walkman!” Rachel always got the cool shit, the “in” toy, while I usually got the Blue-Light Special from K-Mart, but still it was exciting. Then at some point, my mom and I would load up the car for Christmas dinner, usually at my sister’s house, and Rachel and her family would meet us there, and we’d eat, and eat. We’d watch A Christmas Story because TBS played it on a continuous loop all day, then we’d nap, or play Nintendo or PlayStation or whatever new games one of the kids got. Then we’d start pleading for our mom’s to let us have a sleepover. It was all just tradition, they’d stopped fighting it years before. My bag was already packed. I’d already stuffed all my new toys into a suitcase or a trash bag and they were in the trunk of my mom’s car. Then after dinner we’d load up Rachel’s mom’s car with all the stuff I brought and head to their house, where Rachel and I played until we would pass out with all our new toys, while attempting to keep her younger brother and sister out of her room, with little success. For years we did this. I don’t have a lot of Christmas memories that lack my best friend.

While ruminating this week on Christmas Magic, and what I want my own child to remember from his childhood, I’m a little sad. He doesn’t load up the car on Christmas afternoon and head to the family feast. The family feast happens at our home, alone, just the three of us. My son has never lived in Kansas. He’s never known the chaotic, albeit comforting, feeling of having a house full on Christmas morning. He doesn’t have a Rachel of his own.

But I still hope he remembers the magic. The Elf on the Shelf causing mayhem all month long. Tracking Santa on NORAD, watching Home Alone for the third time while we bake cookies for Santa and chop the carrots for the reindeer. He may not have the big family I did, but he still has the magic, and I think that’s important.

Meanwhile, Rachel is in Kansas with her husband and kids. I’m in Georgia with mine. We’re both fast approaching the age when the bags under our eyes don’t go away, and we suspect dairy is messing with our stomachs. We aren’t playing with dolls anymore, aren’t arguing over who got the better make-up set (who has time for make-up?!). Instead we are finding ways to laugh, to make time for each other, to remember the magic, even if it’s just a few times a year, 833 miles away.

Thanks for being part of my Christmas Magic for so many years, Rachel. I forgive you for breaking my Slinky that one time, and yeah, your Baby Alive was way cooler than my Baby Shivers. But it never mattered, it was just the time with my best friend that was important. Sure glad we have those memories to go back to.

Wishing you all a fun-filled day of new toys, love, friendship, and Christmas magic!

M.

Here’s some pics of Rachel and me through the years!

I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't

We love the Home Alone movies. Specifically the first and second. The third one was way off brand and Jerimiah and I cringe thinking about it, but Jackson loves all of them. So every year we watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on back-to-back nights, to fully appreciate all the fun, little nuances of the very cheesy movies from our own childhood. This year Jackson was a bit different because for the first time Jackson spent a lot of the movie asking questions like, “What ever happened to Macaulay Culkin?” and “Was Donald Trump a movie star before he was the President?” which were downers, he also took enjoyment in saying things like, “You know, if this were real life, Marv would totally die in this scene.” Shit, y’all, he’s his dad’s son for sure.

Among some of the conversations that the movies sparked this year was the question of the movies within the movies, Angels with Filthy Souls and Angels with Even Filthier Souls, which are really just a fucking delight, y’all, and I will fight you over that. Anyhoo, Jackson wanted to know if they were real, and he also wanted to know what a Tommy Gun was, which sparked the most interesting, most off the wall, most awkward of all Christmas conversations because, you guys, what actually is a Tommy Gun?

I mean I knew what they were, of course. I knew they were machine guns, and that they had round barrels, but I wondered, and so did Jackson, did they still make them? Why were they a thing? I assumed it had something to do with prohibition, which was right in the sense that a lot of mobsters during that time used them. That led to even better question, “Why did they outlaw alcohol, but not Tommy Guns?” Also, “Why are machine guns still allowed to people who have not been trained to use them?” Also, “Can I have an AK-47 when I turn 18?” Holy shit, yeah. No. No, I mean. Yes, he asked that. No, is the answer. Unless of course he lives in one of the states that currently allows 18 year olds to buy an AK-47, and trust there are several of them. Uh oh, I’m about to get all sorts of off track. Beware.

Listen, I don’t want to put a damper on the holidays for y’all, but this got me thinking. Which got me talking to Jerimiah, and got him Googling and the shit he found was alarming. No, they don’t make Tommy Guns anymore, which were invented by a man named John T. Thompson in 1918 for military use, specifically trench warfare. It started to get picked up by civilians for use during prohibition, and was used exclusively in WWII as well. It was used by the military until the 70s, then better guns came around, but Thompson was not a happy dude when he realized how dangerous his guns could be in the wrong hands. Neither was the government, so in 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which required anyone selling a submachine gun to register with the ATF. The NFA is still in use today, though as we can see, it is sorely antiquated and needs some more common sense laws attached to it. I mean, come on, man. Come the fuck on.

Here’s the other thing, Tommy Guns halted production and had a law made about them because of their shear power. Tommy Guns held 30-or 50-round magazines in their drum and could potentially shoot between 600 and 725 rounds per minute and the government deemed that a problem. In comparison, an AK-47 can hold 30 rounds and has the potential to fire 600 rounds per minute, while the AR-15 tops out around 45 rounds per minute. And guess what, I could drive my happy-ass over state lines today and come back in less than an hour with an AK-47. No mental health checks. No criminal history checks. No nothing. Of course this is a state-by-state ruling and Florida is fucking cray, we already know that, but come on, common sense gun laws anyone? In some of these states an 18-year-old can buy a semi-automatic in less than an hour, but when a woman wants to have an abortion she has to wait six weeks, see a physician and a mental health professional, and potentially hear the embryo’s heartbeat. And don’t even say some shit like, “Apples to oranges, Missy.” Nah, dog. Nah.

Here’s something fun. We have a nephew who is in the military. He was signed, sealed, and deliver to the Army by the time he was 17. At 18-years-old he was prepping for his first deployment, and when he drove back home to the midwest to see family before he left he was not allowed, by law, to have with him his 9mm pistol, which he carries on long road trips alone. He could have, however, an AK-47 if he wanted one. Or any kind of rifle, shotgun, you name it. So a young man, trained in tactical warfare, is not allowed to carry a 9mm, but sure he can load up his Jeep with hundreds of AK-47s if that’s what he wants to do. What the actually fuck, y’all? When you hear the phrase, “Common Sense Gun Laws” that is some of the shit we are talking about.

Whew. I flew off track didn’t I? I said that was gonna happen, huh? Yeah, it’s Christmastime and y’all don’t want to be learning about gun safety, I know, I know, but my son has a Red Ryder BB gun, and he just started playing Call of Duty with his daddy and this is some real shit we have to talk about, and you should all probably consider too. And yeah, give some thought to that whole waiting for an abortion, but no need to wait to buy a gun thing. I mean, an 18-year-old girl, pregnant and alone, could potentially kill herself and her unborn embryo in one shot, and the conservatives are apparently totes fine with that, because you know, that’s her right to gun ownership.

Whew. Okay. Whew.

So yeah, uhh, the Home Alone movies. Haha. They are funny. So. Funny.

Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals. And a Happy New Year.

M.

Christmastime Indolence

A general sense of indolence takes over this time of year. For me anyway. The last few days before Christmas. Whew, it’s difficult for me to get it together. I’m usually ahead of the game, having gotten all my shopping, decorating, and wrapping done a week or so before, then I sit, plant my ass firmly on the sofa for three or four days. We all do it. The four of us (I’m including the dog here) all breathe in a long sigh of relief. The parties, the meetings, the lunches, the chaos if over. We watch Christmas movies, we eat cheese and crackers, we bake cookies, and we play board games, Monopoly, Risk, Bunny Kingdom, Gin Rummy, Life, you name it, we play it. And we sit, did I mention that we sit?

Yesterday, the day of the Winter Solstice, the day of our wedding anniversary, was our first official day of pure laziness. We did a lot of nothing. We didn’t strain ourselves, except maybe when I sat up quickly to grab the last piece of cheese off the charcuterie board before my husband. Our mothers both called us to wish us a happy anniversary. They asked what our big plans were for the day. Monopoly and Home Alone 1 and 2. Those were our big plans.

Today we watched Die Hard because yes it is a Christmas movie. Tomorrow? Who knows! Maybe A Christmas Story and Exploding Kittens. Maybe, maybe we will venture out at 8:00 pm, not showered, in pajamas, to look at Christmas lights. On Christmas Eve we might bake some cookies. We might bake them, and put them in festive tins, and deliver them to our all our neighbors in the cul-de-sac. Maybe. I wouldn’t want to overdo it.

Then on Christmas, well, I might not shower until after my second nap. But I’m sure I will shower, eventually. And steak and shrimp are on the dinner menu that day, which means someone, ahem, someone has to fire up the grill. 1, 2, 3, Not me!

I do love this time of year, the time of year doing nothing with my husband, our son, and our pup. We don’t take it for granted, of course. And we know that we are lucky. Not everyone can afford indolence this time of year, and ours ends on December 28th when we load up the family sleigh and head on a whirlwind eight-day vacation, but until then, well until then we plan on finishing Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, and maybe, maybe three or four more Christmas movies, you know, if we have the time between all the snacking and the napping.

Here’s to an easy holiday, enjoying family time, and napping. May you all have the ability to go forth in napping today!

Happy Holidays!

M.

Making Friends

Over the weekend we went to the Ponce City Market in Midtown. Ponce City Market is a really cool building reuse. It used to be THE Sears and Roebuck in Atlanta, and now it’s this hip shopping center, with restaurants, offices, lofts, and a mini-amusement park on the 10th floor roof. It’s connected to The Beltway, it has awesome artwork, and Santa and the Grinch were not here there to visit with. Honestly, this trip deserves its own blog post, and I will get around to it, but today I wanted to share a story from that night.

On the rooftop at “Skyline Park” Jackson met a kid about his age on the “Tower” ride, which is essentially just one of those rides where you get buckled into a seat with a partner, then use the rope to hoist yourselves up even further into the sky. It was a big hit. After riding the tower about ten times, they switched to the three-story slide. All the rides and games are unlimited for a $15 bracelet, and we spent a total of about five hours there. When you factor in a meeting with Mr. Claus, ice skating, and checking out all the cool artifacts in the old building, Jackson was beat by the time we left.

But, right before we headed for the old service elevator to take the slow ride back down, Jackson got this look of panic in his eyes. He sort of froze where he was and looked nervously at us. I thought for a moment that he’d lost his prizes that he’d worked so hard to win at the “Break A Plate” game, so I quickly checked my purse to see if they were still there. They were. We asked him what was up.

He was running his palms together as he said, “I dunno. I just… Umm… I feel like I want to give my new friend my phone number, just in case, I don’t know, he’s ever what’s to meet up here again.” Jerimiah and I looked at each other for a split second of indecision and then said yes! Go give him your number.

Jackson has his own phone. I know, I know. He’s 11 and that’s too young and your kids won’t have a phone until they are 18 and okay, yeah right, good luck with that. But seriously, he has it because my anxiety, as we all know, is through the roof at times and when he wants to stay at home alone while I run to the grocery store, or when he goes to a friend’s house to play, or even when he just walks a couple aisles over at Target, I need to know I can call him. (Or at least track his phone.) So yeah. We do let him give his number out to kids, mainly friends at school who also have phones, but this was the first time we allowed him to give his number out to a new friend, and honestly it was a bit scary, but the lesson was worth it.

Listen, it’s hard as hell to make friends. No one can tell you that more than me, an introverted, awkward, 30-something who hates small talk, but loves a good “My hamster died when I was 10…” story. And I’m nervous, always have been and always will be, to give my number out to new people. I’ve felt what Jackson was feeling a gazillion times, even just exchanging numbers with the other room parents. It’s scary for some of us, y’all. And he was nervous, but Dad and I said to go for it.

So he nervously walked back outside to the games to find his friend. He asked me to come with, so I did. We wrote his number on a receipt paper, and Jackson approached the boy. He nervously tapped him on the shoulder and the boy turned around and smiled. I was out of earshot, but I could see what happened. The boy took the paper, smiled, and waved as Jackson ran back to me, then the boy stood up and stuck the paper into his back pocket, as Jackson turned around to give one last wave.

On the way down on the elevator Jackson was still nervous. You could tell he went way out of his comfort zone, and he was replaying what happened. We let him have a few moments, then he smiled and said, “He took my number.”

“Maybe he will call,” I said. “Or maybe not, but you were brave dude.”

“Thanks,” he said, and he rode the elevator down in anxious smiles.

Listen, making friends isn’t too hard when you’re a kid, but as you age it gets so much harder. And most of the time it’s because we are so worried that someone will reject us, that we just don’t try. We gotta stop doing that, y’all. Relationships are worth the try. And maybe Jackson’s new friend will never call. But he did something brave. Something that scared him. And he came out the other side. And that’s a win in our book.

To something brave, y’all.

❤️

M.

I’m the Trusted Adult

As I was sitting in the dentist office, watching Jackson get sealants put on his teeth, it occurred to me what he’d asked just moments before. “So what are they doing?” He’d asked, glancing around the small room, eyeing all the very fancy, very expensive equipment. “It’s nothing,” I said, getting comfy in the Mom Chair. “Okay, cool,” he said then he sat back and relaxed. Truth be told it really wasn’t a big deal, the sealants. They just help protect his adult teeth from cavities, something certainly not offered to me as a kid. But he was walking into an unknown, and he was fine, as long as I was there. I’d never really given him a real answer though, and he would have understood. He just didn’t care. He just knew he trusted me. And the dentist. And he’d be okay.

About an hour later, while he sort of yelled out, in a squeaky, pre-pubescent man-boy voice, “You lied to me!” things were a bit different. You see, I had made him back-to-back visits at the dentist office. He knew this, and he also knew that the second visit was a consolation with the orthodontist. We went to a consultation with another orthodontist about six months ago, and that orthodontist wanted to wait to start work, so we did. We’ve always known he would need braces one day. The first time he went to the dentist, as a bright-eyed, eager, two-year-old, they told us upfront, “Start saving for his orthodontia treatment.” We didn’t, “start saving” as it were, so with the first ortho came the surprise of the cost, so we decided to “shop around.”

Once I got home though, and did the research, I realized there wasn’t a lot of shopping to be done. In fact braces, on average, cost about $3,500. That was even at the Georgia School of Orthodontics, which was recommended to us as a cost-saving measure. So when, right after his consultation, they hit us with a price-tag of $3,000 at his dentist, the one we already know and trust, Jerimiah and I were all, “Tell us where to sign!” It seemed too good to be true, but it wasn’t. That’s when we were gathering our things, Jackson having already been through a rough “sealant” procedure where they had to redo a couple of them because he is a “salivator”. And another 30 minutes in the ortho chair. It was nearly 6:00 pm, and the Ortho turned to us and said, “Great, let’s get started.” We were like, “Okay,” as we walked to the lobby to sign papers, and give all our money away. Then Jackson piped up, “I’m not getting braces today, right Mommy?” I assured him that he was correct, then the Ortho was all, “No. No actually, we’re gonna go ahead and stick them on the top teeth today.” That’s when the squeaky yell heard by all in the office came, “YOU LIED TO ME!” And that’s when I realized I was a horrible mommy.

I try to set us up for success, as a family, as often as I can. This just wasn’t an example of me doing that. There are others. Many others. But the thought of actually doing that day, was so far off my radar, that I’m sure my chin also hit the floor when the doctor said that. I just had no one to accuse of lying to me in that situation. I was the trusted adult. I was the liar.

Truth be told, after the little squeaky yell, Jackson actually took it all in great stride, and by the time we were leaving, him with a full set of upper brackets in “Gryffindor” colored rubber bands, and us with a lighter wallet, we were all quite satisfied. And in fact, Christina, the Ortho Assistant (who by the way did all the work, what does an Orthodontist do again? I’m kidding I know the answer, but for real, yay Christina!) said Jackson was “the best” patient and such a “great kid,” yeah, even with the panicked, squeaky, lobby yell.

So just like that we’re the parents of a pre-pubescent boy with braces. And I’ve been transported back to my own brace face days, and I’m trying to help him the best I can. And we will get through this phase, just like we have all the rest. A little trial. A little error. And little yelling, sure. But a lot of patience and care.

M.

Merry and Bright

Saw this cartoon today at the New Yorker and I felt it. Felt it with all my being. I’m sure some of you are feeling this too. I’ve had four days with my husband in two weeks, and it’s bothering me. It’s bothering us both. One whole day was spent at Jackson’s Robotics competition and one whole day was spent with me in deep sadness. Sleep until noon, sulking, sadness. Dejected. Apathetic. It’s Christmastime. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, damn it, why do I not feel wonderful?!

I go back and forth with depression. One minute I think it’s the most selfish thing in the world. The way I am, the way I treat my family, the space, and time, and energy I need to feel better. Then I’m reminded that this isn’t a choice. I’m not waking up everyday saying, “Let’s make today shitty, Missy!” On the contrary. I will myself to be positive. To stay upbeat. I drink a bunch of coffee to try to stave it off. I make a to-do list. I plan a walk or a coffee with a new friend. Then something trips me up. This month it’s been my husband’s damn work schedule. It’s been having him gone in the busiest two weeks of December. It’s been him missing activities he wouldn’t normally miss. It’s been watching my son’s heart be broken when daddy has to get on a plane again. And I know, I know, this is temporary. Shit, I know. It’s a mantra I created my damn self, in a hospital bed giving birth to a dead baby. It’s temporary. This is all temporary. But Jesus it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

December is a tough month for a lot of people. Dare I say most people? How it got this whole “Most wonderful time of the year” tag has to be some good Hallmark marketing. I mean shit. Come on you guys. We do this to ourselves. The pressure of this month is something we created. And how on Earth can you feel wonderful when there are kids without shoes walking around? And how can we feel wonderful when there are mommies and babies without food in their bellies? How can we feel wonderful when Santa doesn’t make it to whole neighborhoods? Whole schools? Whole communities? The most wonderful time of the year. Hmpf.

As you can see I’m still in the pits. The storm is still raging. I’m trying to write my way through this one, so I won’t be offended if you haven’t stuck around. I get it. Believe me. You’re looking for funny, slice-of-life shit and I’m all, “Feline AIDS is the number one killer of cats…” womp, womp, womp. Believe me, I’m looking for joy too.

Cause that’s really how we combat this time of year. The grief that sets in. The crowded stores. The parties you don’t want to attend. The people you only see once a year, for a very distinct reason. We combat it by finding, and often times manufacturing, our own joy. Maybe that’s what’s so wonderful about this time of year? Maybe it’s that all this horrendous shit is still happening, but we can somehow hit pause for one day, maybe two if we’re lucky, and pretend it isn’t happening. Maybe it’s the feeling of standing on a mountain, right when the second big snow is coming, and no one is around, and the world is completely still, and the only thing you can hear is the tap of the snow falling on the frozen ground. Maybe it’s the peace you get from that. The calm from that. From something. Maybe.

Those of us with kids, kids who still have that Christmas magic in their heart, are the luckiest ones. We are still shaken awake at six a.m. on Christmas morning with anticipating faces. We still have to run down the stairs on very little sleep, stand in awe of what Santa has brought. We still unwrap gifts in a hurry, pounce around the living room in our pajamas, make wrapping paper forts and crawl under them. Laugh. Eat chocolate for breakfast. We find our merry and bright, even just for a few hours.

Those of us fortunate enough to not work for whole weeks at a time. Those of us who can sit with our families and put big, complicated puzzles together by the fireplace, or drink wine leisurely at five p.m. on the 23rd. Those of us packing up after Christmas and hitting the road. Vacationing to see friends or family. We are the ones who can hit pause. We are the ones who understand “happiest time of the year,” and sometimes when we are down in the pits, like I am now, with no real reason except that this happens sometimes, what is coming ahead is all we have to look forward to.

A friend said to me the other day that my feelings, my emotions, and my sadness right now are all valid. She said this after I was comparing my life to people who have it much worse off. We do that, don’t we? We go, “Well, it could be worse.” Sure it could. It could also be a lot better. And it will be one day soon. And on that day we will remember this one, and we will try not to take too much for granted. Until then, let others be merry and bright, our day is coming soon.

Take care of yourself, it’s only a little longer now.

M.

Thoughts in the Car Line

Some of you may remember, from my earlier days, that I did a regular little ditty called, Thoughts in the Car Line wherein I waxed intellectual on a number of topics while I waited to pick Jackson up from school. At the beginning of my years in the car line I was always very early so I could be up near the front, which is in fact, a total waste of time. BUT, I did get a lot of writing and reading done in those times, and they will always be fond memories for me. Still confused? Let me show you a bit of what I mean with some classic Thoughts in the Car Line Moments:

  • I think Jon Bon Jovi lived on more than a prayer. Cocaine, y’all. He lived on cocaine. 
  • I bet I’d run more efficiently on cocaine. 
  • We’d all run more efficiently on cocaine. 
  • I’m not sure if the family behind me doesn’t enjoy my dancing or if they just hate Dwight Yoakam in general. 
  • There are men out here “surveying”. I keep yelling, “Hey, why don’t y’all come survey this” and then I pull my shirt down really low, but they just don’t seem interested. It must be the sports bra. 
  • This guy looks like he might be named Eddie.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t harass men? 
  • I dunno. I’m so conflicted y’all. It’s like, cocaine is bad, but then it’s good. 
  • What if Mumford doesn’t even have any sons and it’s all a damn lie?
  • I used to like Eddie Murphy. I thought he made a great donkey, but then he got all high and mighty and I was kind of like, you know what Eddie Murphy, I’m done with you. But I still like Donkey.
  • Butyraceous: Of the nature of resembling or containing butter. New stage name. Missy “Butyraceous” Goodnight. One woman act. I roll in butter while I scream “Suck it, Paula Dean!” Tickets can be purchased at Food Lion for $5 and one pound of butter.  
  • I’m not a scientist, but I feel what I lack in common sense I make up for by drinking copious amounts of wine. 
  • “I have a dancer’s body. In the trunk.” That would be a good bumper sticker. 
  • Some parents suck. Some are great. And some listen to Rod Stewart.
  • It snowed in North Carolina the other day and my mom called from Kansas to tell me that she saw Dale Earnhardt and he said not to drive on the roads, and I didn’t know if she meant that she saw the ghost of Dale Earnhardt or if she ran into Jr. at the Walmarts and he told her to tell me that the roads in North Carolina were bad, but I decided it could go either way, and everyone knows you should always trust a ghost who wants to share traffic advisories.  
  • How many raisins can I fit into my mouth?
  • 32. I fit 32 raisins in my mouth. 
  • I ate Jackson’s snack. It was raisins. 
  • If you’ve never bought a comforter from TJ Maxx are you even an adult?

As you can see, they get pretty intense. Luckily for you guys, I got to Jackson’s school a bit early to pick him up from Robotics practice the other day, and I created a new list of thoughts in the car line. No need to thank me, your kindness to each other is thanks enough.

Thoughts in the Car Line:

  • Does Santa drink egg nog every morning? Like does he just get up and dab a little bit in his coffee, then think, you know what I’m just gonna take a little sip straight out the bottle, then he takes a little nip and before he knows it he drank a bottle of egg nog? Then an hour later, when he’s laying over the toilet feeling like he bout to vomit, Mrs. Clause walks in and she’s all, “Sonofabitch, Kris, I told you not to drink a whole bottle of egg nog again. Christ, you need to be at the shop in a tight fifteen!” And he can’t look up from the commode, so he just makes little noises to himself and his white hair starts to fall from around his face, kinda dip into the water a little bit. Then she starts to get all sad that he lacks willpower and self-control, so she sits on her old, creaky knees on the heated bathroom tile next to him, and starts to rub his back in a half-hearted attempt to burp him, while he cries into the toilet bowl, and she remembers the man in college named Damien Demancus who offered her a life of luxury on his boat docked at the Margaritaville in Key West, and she sighs a little to herself. Is that, umm, probably what happens?
  • I’ve never been to Key West. I want to go, but I’m also scared to go. Cause I have been to Miami. And I have been to the Bahamas. And I sort of feel like Key West is a mixture of the two places. And I didn’t like either of them THAT much. So…
  • I think I just tooted, but like inside my intestines. That was weird.
  • There’s a Margarittaville in Tennessee. It’s over yonder by the Dollywood. I’m sure there is more than one Margarittaville in Tennessee. I just haven’t seen them all. But there are people who have. And those people are named Ricky. Not Richard. Ricky.
  • Do elves brush their teeth? All that sugar! I hope so.
  • One time on a cruise ship, we were at sea for two days because we were going from Puerto Rico to some island way the fuck out there and I had nothing to do so I went to the casino and taught myself how to play roulette. Then I taught Jackson how to play. He was in second grade. Rules are lax in the ocean. We won $700. Then we lost $900. Then I got pissed off, cause I was obviously drunk, and I threw my gin and tonic at Red #32 because I thought it was evil. But I think Jackson learned a valuable lesson: Always go find Daddy when Mommy forces him into a casino in second grade.
  • “We can’t go on together, with suspicious miiiiiinds…”
  • I wonder if they’d let me into Tyler Perry Studios? Worth a shot. Helllller!
  • Do I need to make banners for the robotics competition? And bring a megaphone? Or is it not that kinda deal? What about a charcuterie board? There’s always time for a charcuterie board.
  • Jackson can now play Jingle Bells on his trumpet. But I can play Mary Had a Little Lamb on a touchtone phone, so, who’s the real musician?

M.

The Tale of Three Trees

We bought a Christmas tree at Target the other night. Let me stop there, this involves a bit of backstory that I know you guys are super excited about! First off, I’m a real tree kinda girl. Always have been. I wasn’t raised with them because I had the kinda mom who would hate having to sweep up needles everyday, and the kind of mom who couldn’t afford to go out and buy a new tree year after year, when a perfectly good artificial tree sat in her bedroom closet waiting to be unboxed, with long strands of silver tinsel wound tightly around old, fake, metal limbs. I always felt like I needed a tetanus shot when we pulled that bitch out. So I mean to say as an adult, I’ve always had real trees. Until last year when Jackson visited the allergist, was pricked a million times, and we were told that he’s allergic to horses, cats, mold, and about 387 types of trees. And you guessed it, my beautiful Douglas Fir was on top of the list. Bah humbug!

Enter artificial trees. Last year we were in Charlotte for Christmas, which means we were in the “Little house.” So the “Little house,” though conveniently located about five minutes from Uptown, was, well, little. Very little. It was 1200 square feet. We had moved into it after living for three years in “The Big House,” which for comparison was 3,500 square feet, with a 31,000 gallon swimming pool in the backyard, situated on a one-acre lot. I tell you all this to say that “The Big House” was too fucking big. It was obscene and unnecessary. So when we moved into the city, we decided to downsize. It’s just that maybe we downsized too good. Yes. Too good. So there we were, in need of an artificial tree, after years of full, real, trees that were, on average, 8 feet tall. Our tree last year had to be much smaller. So we settled on an adorable six footer, pre-lit, and it filled the space perfectly. Below was our last “big tree” at the “Big House” in which, against my better judgment, I allowed them to use colored lights on…

Fast forward to this year. And we certainly learned our lesson with houses. We are comfortably in about 2200 square feet now, with a large great room. We pulled the old six-footer out of the attic this week, set it up next to the fireplace, and looked at each and just knew we needed a new one. It was depressing as shit. Like for real, it looked sickly. And I was all, how is this the same tree as last year? Here, look at “The Little House” in Charlotte, in the heart of Villa Heights.

And Jackson in front of our adorable little tree in our adorable, little great room. Perfect.

So as you can imagine when we stuck the six-footer in this house, we were very disappointed. I wish I had taken a picture of it before I freaked out and was forced to go buy a new one, but I didn’t. I did however take a picture when we got the new one home and set up for comparison.

Ignore the mess, instead focus on the adorable, little tree. Aww, she was cute. PS… the new eight-footer has the price tag on because Target sold us the display tree. A little-known secret coming atcha now: Target can’t sell display trees, say if they are out of stock, UNLESS they are discontinued. We discovered that when we, along with like five other people, were asking if they had any of this particular Douglas fir in stock. Of course when they didn’t we decided to go online and purchase it and just have it shipped to us for free (Target Red Card holder here, huzzah!) But it wasn’t for sale on their website. So when other people heard that they gave up and went on with their lives. Not us! Never us! We called a manager over and asked why it wasn’t for sale. That’s when we found out it was discontinued, and that’s when we found out we were buying a $200 tree for $50! Cha-ching. Have I mentioned that I LOVE Target?! I’m sure I have.

The “Little Tree” did end up finding a home. We stuck it downstairs in our family room. See pics below. Jackson decorated it himself. He also decorated a mini tree for his room, of which he is very proud.

Um, yeah, that’s him in a Sonic shirt, with Harry Potter decorations in his room, and what’s that? Yes, that’s a weather radio he found at a thrift store and HAD to have for his room. He’s such a nerd. But it’s cute tho.

So, I guess this is all to say that we have three Christmas trees in our house this year. I didn’t want three Christmas trees, I wanted one. I’m not one of those crazy Christmas people. I like one tree to place presents under, one mantel all snug as a bug in a rug, and maybe some cute dinner napkins. That’s it. Now I have three trees. But, I’m honestly not sure how much longer we have of Elf on the Shelf (that’s a whole other post) and Santa squeezing his fat-ass down our chimney, so I have decided to embrace all things Christmas this year!

There it is. The tale of three trees. I hope you got your decorations up, whatever they may be, with much less hassle than we did, and I hope you have the merriest of seasons, however you celebrate! Happy Holidays! ❤

M.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

Seasonal depression! Sing it with me! Everywhere you go! You know what it is, it’s the lack of the GD sunshine. It’s the lack of the GD sunshine, and the lack of other people’s common sense. It’s a lack of boundaries from family members. It’s a lack of confidence. That feeling of not being able to keep up with the people around you. That feeling that no, I won’t spend $500 on my child for Christmas because spending $500 on a child for Christmas is nuts, but if I don’t spend $500 on my child for Christmas will other mommies judge me? Maybe. Probably. But you know what I like to wish I could say, “Fuck them!”

This is a stressful time of year, regardless of how you slice it. Slice it six ways, slice it eight, it all slices down to stress, anxiety, lack of boundaries and control, crappy weather, and usually feeling some sort of weight pressing down on you. Maybe it’s mounting credit card debt. Maybe it’s disappointing your family because you’re not coming home for the holidays, maybe it’s disappointing your children because they want more than you can give. But it’s always there, pressing down, down, down, until you feel like you can’t breathe.

Normally I’m already crazy by December 1st, but I gotta be honest, I’m not this year. I think there are two things at work here: 1. My new medication is AMAZING! I highly recommend it if you can swing it. It’s called Trintellix and it’s done a number on my reactionary nature. And 2. I’m easing into this mindset of gratitude. I’ve realized I have sort of always lived this way, the way of the grateful, mainly because I’m a big, empathic, nerd. And usually speaking, not always, but usually, being an empath brings with it gratitude. Because we see and feel the pain of others, and sometimes we clearly see that we are not in those shoes, even though sometimes we feel like we are. Here’s an example.

Last weekend Jackson and I ran to Kroger to pick up a couple of things. When we walked inside there was a man asking for money near the entrance. He had a sad story, sure, they usually do. And Jackson usually falls for it, hook, line, and sinker. He’s eleven. This man needed money to get home for the holidays. That was his story, and maybe it was true, but most likely it was not. Jackson was very upset when I told the man sorry, but I didn’t have cash. That part was true, but Jackson asked why I couldn’t get cash when I checked out. Oh this child of mine!

So I said maybe I’d get an extra $5 out for the guy. But Jackson said $5 wasn’t enough to get the man where he needed to go. I said I knew that, but I wasn’t going to pay for a airline ticket for this guy. Jackson thought on this as we strolled through the store. Later at checkout I got the $5 out and we walked outside to find him, but he was gone. Jackson suggested we keep the $5 in the glove box in case we run into him again, or someone else who might need the $5. Later that night Jackson ran down stairs upset about that man, but also very grateful. He recognized that we were also far away from what we consider to be “home” and that if we want to go “home” for the holidays we can. Sometimes we just choose not to. Because honestly #MyOwnBed, #StabilizingMyMentalHealth, and what not. See that empathetic nature giving way into gratitude.

So yeah, it’s a thing around here. The other thing that is helping me stave off seasonal depression is regular therapy. Which by the way Patsy says I need to give myself some credit. That’s it’s not just therapy and medication, but I’m working hard too. But I’m not ready to credit myself for anything. It’s a slow process.

So what am I saying here, y’all? Christ Missy, what are you ever saying besides a bunch of nonsensical nonsense like you live in damn Whoville! I mean, isn’t the Grinch just plagued by SAD? I know. I know. I think what I’m saying is maybe this holiday season you should say, “Fuck it!” I dunno, it sometimes works. If that’s not your thing then maybe try gratitude? Nah, can’t do it? I get it, how about this. How about you ship your family members to Alberta, and you take your happy-ass down to Aruba? That’s always been a dream of mine, a tropical christmas. I mean, the sunshine might just do you good!

Whatever you do, wherever you are, just remember that you’re not alone. There are people out there struggling like you are. Most people in fact. We all might struggle in different ways, but this season brings struggles. So don’t feel all alone. And be kind to everyone you meet.

M.