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.
A couple of months back, when I was in phase one of my quarantine online shopping frenzy (I’m in phase four now, just bought a new couch) I bought us a new pair of bedside lamps. I’m so far into first world problems that I’d been complaining for months about how I have to stick my fingers under the lampshade and click the button to turn the lamp off. It drove me nuts. Jerimiah suggested “The Clapper” as he side-eyed my craziness one Tuesday evening. “The Clapper,” I scoffed, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” I knew there was a more regal, more grown-up, more elegant way to turn a lamp off than “The Clapper” so I went to Amazon.
Three days later I unboxed a beautiful set of small, matching lamps with brushed silver bases, and creme shades. I quickly screwed in the energy-saving bulbs that came with them, plugged one in, and called Jerimiah over. “Wow,” he said, obviously not wowed. “Watch…” I teased, as I gently touched the base of the lamp with my finger. As I did that, the lamp lit up. I touched it a second time, it went brighter. A third time! Even brighter! “Cool,” he said as he walked away. I mumbled “Asshole” under my breathe as I carefully marched the lamps up to our room.
Now, today, about three months later the lamp on my side of the bed randomly comes on. Like, it just turns on. No rhyme or reason. It will be two am and the lamp will come on and I will assume it’s the sun coming up, and I will start to wake, only to see that it’s in fact the damn lamp. Nothing is by it, I’m in the middle of our bed (that’s where I sleep, just ask Jerimiah) so there’s no way I touched it. It’s bizarre. Then the other day I was in my office and I saw it turn on. My office is connected to our master bedroom, so when I sit at my desk I can look through our closets into our room. There I was writing away (read: doing a crossword puzzle in the back of an old People magazine) and the lamp came on, and just as sudden as the flicker of the lamp, I knew why.
I ran downstairs to tell Jerimiah the light came on while I was watching it. He stopped typing and looked at me. I looked at him. He looked at me. I looked at him. “You know what this means?” I asked. “Please don’t say ghosts,” he said. “Ghosts!” I shrieked.
You know when you’re deciding what to order for dinner and you snap at your husband when he asks a simple question, so you just log onto the Del Taco app and order $50 worth of burritos then storm out the door, then get upset when you get there and text him to tell him you’re sorry and he’s all, it’s okay. I know you’re under a lot of stress right now, and I love you. And you realize you don’t deserve a guy who loves you so much and you start to wonder why he puts up with your particular brand of crazy and then the line isn’t moving and it’s been thirty minutes since you placed your order and a car three cars back starts to honk at no one in particular and it makes you so angry that you start crying then suddenly you realize you’re crying alone in your car on a Tuesday night at 8:30 in the Del Taco drive-thru and all you can think is how nuts you probably look, and that your therapist would be worried about you, and then you pull up and Kiona, the woman working the window, sees you and she’s all Girl, you look like you need some extra tacos, and you’re cry-smiling as you thank her and then you drive home and your husband greets you with a hug and your tacos are good and you go to bed early because life is rough and you know you’ll feel better in the morning? You know? Your know what I mean?
Yeah, you know what I mean.
Girl, you look like you need some extra tacos. And maybe a nap. Go take a nap. You’ll feel better when you wake up. Then call me. I’m around.
We’re heading home today. I’d normally say we are heading back to reality at this point in a vacation, but this time reality never really left us. Or maybe it didn’t leave me. I was keenly aware, all day, everyday, of the realities of life. That masks were necessary, and that even in outdoor events, social distancing is key. It wasn’t part of the original plan to leave so soon, but plans change. You get new information, you make educated decisions. Our new information came like this: 1. Jerimiah was suddenly thrust into a large corporate deal (think a bidding contract worth millions) that he needs to be “present” for. “Present” here doesn’t mean in actual person, as of now anyway, but there’s a chance. He does need high-speed internet though, an issue we’ve been battling out here in the country, and he needs a shirt with a tie, and some semblance of an office (he’s currently working with a large, blow-up dartboard behind him). 2. This global pandemic isn’t going anywhere. Not sure if you’ve seen, but uhh, it’s here to stay awhile, and things are changing daily. A week ago, the state we live in (Georgia) was “steady” and the state we are currently in (Missouri) was on the decline. Now, two weeks later, things have changed drastically. Covid-19 is running rampant again, in both states, and the truth of the matter is I need to be at home, socially distancing from others, in the safety of our bubble, with my immune-compromised husband and my asthmatic kid. It’s the only way. The way of life here is too lackadaisical, and that’s okay for some people, but not for us. The risk, in this case, is not worth it.
So goodbye Table Rock Lake. Goodbye family! Thanks to those of you who were able to visit with us. Thanks for self-isolating for a couple of weeks, thanks for taking our safety concerns seriously. Thanks for the late-night talks, the boat rides, the floating and laughing and singing. Thanks for the best version of a summer vacation we could ask for this year, hopefully we will see you all soon, but if not that’s okay. Your safety, our safety, the collective safety is the most important, and besides, one day life might be back to normal, isn’t that neat? Something to look forward to!
This is a short, necessary story. Yesterday my husband and son made a quick trip over to the Tulsa area to meet up with my father-in-law. I didn’t go for a multitude of reasons, which means I wasn’t there to see my son drive his papa’s 1970 Chevy Blazer all over Hell’s creation. I wasn’t there to see him shoot the 45-magnum revolver. But I did get to hear about how his ears were still ringing when he got home. And lastly I wasn’t there to say, “Ohhh, no thanks,” when Jerimiah was sent off with this creepy portrait that his Uncle JR (Jackson and Jerimiah’s namesake) had commissioned of a preschool Jerimiah in 1985. What’s that? Yeah, that’s a for real thing.
There you go. Now we have this portrait, the same one I had nightmares of the first time I saw, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to hang it over our fireplace because why not? Why not indeed.
I woke up thinking about church today. Probably because it’s Sunday, certainly not because I’m a churchgoer. I’ve never been a churchgoers. I was never forced to go to church as a child, never had religion thrust upon me. My mom used to say she’d let her kids decide what to believe, though she herself was a Christian, it didn’t much matter back then what we believed in, as long as we were good, kind people. And we are. All of us. But we maybe didn’t go the path she expected.
I’m married to an atheist. The good kind. He doesn’t need a higher power to keep him in line. He likes to say that he does all the raping and pillaging he wants to, which is zero. He isn’t “acting” good in this life for fear of what the next will hold. He’s a good person because he’s a good person.
I’m in a “complicated” relationship with Jesus. God, well, I’m not a fan. But Jesus seemed cool, the man Jesus anyway. But even on my best days I can’t wrap my mind around church. Around organized religion. Too much hate, judgement, and evil takes places in many of those four walls, and I’ll pass. I’ll get my “church” the old-fashioned way, walking with Jesus alone, communing with nature, talking to y’all on this here blog.
My son has been raised with grandparents who don’t shy away from talking religion with him. My mom taught him to pray (she’s become very religious in her senior years and I’m sure regrets that whole “let my kids figure it out themselves” deal she did). So since Jackson was small she’s talked about her love for God to him, which is why I was pretty surprised the other day when he said, “Santa Claus is real, you know. He’s a real person, not like God who is just a belief.” Ouch. That’s some shit he made up in his own mind. Seems Santa, a jolly man who has magic and cares about all the children in the world, is easier to believe in than a God who makes people spew hate and judgment towards others. Of course my happy, kind, empathetic son believes in a man who has flying reindeer and brings smiles to children. And of course my smart, logical, realistic son can’t get behind a belief that spreads hate and has caused war and killing and disease. A belief people blindly stand behind. A belief that neglects some children based on how they came into this world, where they live, or how they practice their own faith. Of course.
So yeah, we aren’t headed to church today. But we are headed down to the lake for some fun, food, and fellowship. Is there anything else you can ask of a Sunday?
I’ve only been on Table Rock Lake for four days, but the adventures are constant. First, there’s my damn dogs and their “quirks.” The bribing them to be on their best behavior, the training collar (which arrived today), the constant picking up of dog poop, and the ever-present sad eyes when I’m eating a burger. Le sigh. Adventures, yes adventures. Look at these damn dogs.
Then there is the lake. It’s pretty high right now, and it’s recently turned over so there’s an occasional fish odor, but you know, that’s lake life. Still, Jackson and his buddy Tate have been kayaking up a storm!
Then there’s the food. My mother-in-law loves to cook and I love to eat, so it’s a pretty good deal. Not to mention the sunrise and sunset walks with my husband while we wax intellectual on how to save the world.
It’s an interesting dichotomy, this place. A little bit country, a little bit lake. Not at all how I remember it, but also exactly the same as it always is.
I hope you are having a splendid week, friends. Stay safe and sane.
If you’re reading this, I’m loading up the truck with Jerimiah, while Jackson walks around in circles complaining that he is tired, and the dogs bark from inside the house because they think we are leaving them, and going on a super, cool vacation in the tropics. Probably. Most likely. It’s Saturday morning and we are headed on an 11-hour road trip this morning and I’m already stressed about all the things. Things like: Where will we use the bathroom, how bad are the places we are headed into, is it safer to use gloves at the gas pump or not, will Winnie vomit all over everyone like she usually does, why do we have to go anywhere near Little Rock, and should we have just packed food and not relied on drive-thrus? But the motion has already started, and like most things in life we will just have to wait and see.
That doesn’t stop the mind from wandering though. That’s what medication is for, so damn it I hope I remembered to pack the Klonopin, and where did I put those “Relieve Stress” Gummies?
There you have it, 11 hours through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, a teeny bit of Tennessee (not the good part), and Arkansas. I mean, under normal circumstance this isn’t a worrisome trip. Whenever you’re going to pass Elvis’s birthplace AND Johnny Cash’s in the same trip, well, Lord help us all.
We had an 18 pack of eggs sitting in our refrigerator. Brand new. Not expired. Farm fresh, free range, college educated. We leave for vacation in three days. We looked at each other. At our smart eggs. Then back at each other. Quiche? I wondered aloud. Maybe, Jerimiah said. How else would we eat 18 eggs in three days? Boiled? Take them with us? He pondered, while he moved expired cottage cheese out of the way. Huh, I remarked, slinging rotten green peppers into the trash can. Give them to a neighbor, I questioned. He shook his head. Would that be weird? Maybe, plus we are the ones who raised them. They’re ours. Oh, I’ll make deviled eggs! I half screamed, half cried. Dear Recipe Goddess, you have reigned supreme again.
Two days later, as I stood over the sink and peeled the boiled eggs that I had let boil for too long the night before because I was also cooking dinner at the same time and it was a Hello Fresh meal and you have to follow the damn directions with those and the puppy ran in and peed on the floor and Jackson tried to tell me about this TikTok guy who does presidential impersonations and Jerimiah tried to help by standing next to me asking what he can do, I sorta, maybe, lost it a little bit and slammed the plates on the table and said, I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT! And then went upstairs to sit on the fluffy ottoman at the end of my bed and contemplate how my damn life had come to this. About 20 minutes later, I remembered the boiling eggs.
Here’s the thing about deviled eggs, it’s a process, y’all. A long, arduous process, and it starts with the perfect boiled egg. Now sure, you can Google “How to Boil an Egg for Deviled Eggs” and you will get a million different opinions, but every Mommy, Grandma, Great Grandma, and even a couple Grandpa’s have their own way of doing it. My way is to heavily boil the eggs in salted water for three to five minutes, then turn the stove off and let them sit in the hot water for about 20 minutes, until I sink them into a cold bath, let them sit in fridge overnight, then crack them all over before peeling the next day as I listen to Adele sing about how life is not the way she imagined it when she was a child. I can relate. And usually what happens is that the eggs just slide right out. Unless one thing is not right. Then, you’re fucked.
That’s how I came to be screaming into a bowl of yellow yesterday morning.
That’s how I came to be teaching Jackson how to make deviled eggs, literally because I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT!
That’s how we thought it would be a good idea to eat 18 eggs the days leading up to a 10-hour road trip.
I have some new followers! I love new followers, but I hate that word “follower.” I prefer friends! I have some new friends! We shall all welcome them with open arms. Hello, friends! Welcome! Grab a White Claw, or a bottle of wine, or maybe some iced tea (we are in The South after all) and sit a spell while I tell you a bit about myself. My name is Missy. (Really it’s Melissa but when I was a born in the 80s my stone-washed jeans wearing sisters thought Missy sounded radical, so there you have it.) I go by Melissa when I am feeling “formal” or when I don’t know people very well, but I do prefer Missy. I’m not the type of person to offer that up when we first meet, nicknames sometimes scare people, so you’ll usually know me a little while when someone will call me Missy and you’ll be all, Wait, who is Missy? You mean Melissa? And they will be all, Who is Melissa? And that’s pretty much all you need to know about me. Just kidding.
I’m married to a lovely middle-aged, white man whom I often make fun of for being a middle-aged, white man but check this, he is faaaaar from the kinda guy you are thinking of. Sure, on the outside he looks the part, and a lot of old ladies grab his hand to tell them all about his church (like his atheist-ass cares), but he politely listens, nods along, and says, That sounds really nice! Occasionally other middle-aged, white men who do not know him very well will suggest having a beer, and they will end up saying some whacked-out racist shit, or something about how our current president is “fiscally responsible” or maybe throw in a homophobic joke, and my husband will be all, Oh, so you’re an asshole. Then he will pay his tab (but not theirs) and leave. He’s cool like that.
We have an 11-year-old son who is starting sixth grade in the fall. Middle school. I’m not going any further than that because I remember middle school, vividly, and I am terrified for him and for me. He’s supersonic smart though. He’s in the STEM program, robotics team, band, etc, etc. You’ll like him a lot and often remark how mature he is for his age, but that’s just because he doesn’t feel comfortable enough around you to make fart noises under his arm. Just yet. Otherwise he is honest, kind, considerate, and his three favorite television shows are: The Office, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The dogs, Jesus I forgot about the dogs. Okay listen, we had this amazing dog for nearly 14 years. Her name was Bentley and she was my actual ride-or-die (yeah, I say ride or die and I don’t know if it is hyphenated or not). She was a chocolate lab mix and also the best dog in the whole world. But in 2018 her health problems caught up with her and we had to put her down a couple months shy of her 14th birthday. Then I did what I always do, I had a breakdown and over-compensated by getting not one, but two dogs. Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte came first. He is a standard poodle and he’s hella fancy and honestly I can’t with him sometimes. He wears bow ties, and prefers to be professionally groomed with a blow out. We just celebrated his second birthday with a surprise celebration on April 30th, because quarantine.
Then there is Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta. Winnie came to us at the beginning of quarantine because who didn’t think it was the perfect time to go on Craigslist and adopt a dog that someone had bought and realized they were allergic to and didn’t know what to do with?! She’s part standard poodle and part great pyranees and I know what you are thinking, what does that dog look like? Answer: A hot fucking mess. But we love her.
Okay, so I think that’s the gist of life around here. We live in Metro Atlanta. We are pro-choice (I’ll tell you about my daughter sometime), LGBTQIA+ allies, active members in the Black Lives Matter Movement, and we are Bernie supporters who will be voting for Biden in November because shiiiiiiit. My husband has his MBA and works in finance, I write and piddle around the house yelling about politics and who the hell shit on the floor?! It’s usually a dog.
This blog houses everything from my distorted, meandering thoughts to stories of my childhood, to actual lists of whatever I am thinking at any given moment. I talk a lot about mental health, family, and writing. I made a promise to myself to blog everyday this year, and with the exception of two weeks ago when I took a break to help #MuteTheWhiteNoise and #AmplifyBlackVoices I have written everyday this year. So, there’s a lot to read and digest here. I also have a page with my published writings if you are so inclined. Thanks for reading today and thanks for being on this crazy ride!
If you’ll remember last month I got mad at Jerimiah for not telling me that he secretly wanted a home office and I maybe overreacted and immediately bought him a giant office suite and moved my shit into an extra bedroom upstairs? Yes? Remember I shared pictures of his office, which was my old office, but was totally made for him. Okay, anyway, it has taken a month, but my new-to-me office is finally done and I have the pictures to prove it. Now before I show them to you, just know that this was an extra bedroom upstairs that basically acted as a storage room/closet, it was stupid and it needed a purpose. Also know that I haven’t written anything of substance since I have been in my new-to-me office, but I have high hopes. Okay, that is all enjoy.
So there you have it. I have tons more room on my shelves now, since I had those extra bookcases, which means MORE BOOKS! I had to get rid of so many when we downsized a couple years ago. A common question I get about the map is “WHERE DID YOU GET IT?!” I bought it off a woman on Craigslist back in Charlotte. You can buy them on the Rand McNally website, but they are hundreds of dollars. I paid $10, so check Craigslist first, then the yard sale sites, then the thrift stores! There are also some really cute ways to make hanging maps yourself from cheaper maps you can also buy on their website. Google it, I don’t have time to tell you about it because I need to go eat some Cheetos.
If we are friends on Facebook, then you probably know two things: 1. I only allow myself 15 minutes a day on that website for my mental health and 2. My husband recently took a “Facebook Break.” You know this because I told y’all about it, not because he did. I made a post the day he decided to deactivate his account. He didn’t delete it, because well, he was struggling with what felt right for him. He stays in contact with a lot of family members on Facebook and groups that he belongs to, like the Charlotte Atheist group that we used to do volunteer work for as a family, but he was really having a hard time with social media as of late. First there were the Covid-19 conspiracy thoerists. He actually had to “unfriend” a family member because she shared one of those bananas theories and she precluded it with, “I don’t know if this is real, but I’m sharing anyway…” See the problem with that is, it’s very easy to find out if it is real, and well, if you aren’t willing to put in the work, then he just can’t.
Anywho, I totally supported his decision to deactivate for however long he needs to, as I support anyone’s right to do that, particularly for a mental health break. So I alerted our mutual friends per my post, and we moved on. Then a couple of days later I had a family member share a little meme about all the “crazy stuff” happening in 2020, especially the “rioting” and “looting,” and she said something like, “I’m about to just delete my Facebook account and watch Netflix for a month!” Basically because she was tired of people saying things like, “Black Lives Matter.” Some of her friends commented that they agreed, yet there they still are on FB. It took all my strength not to comment, “Isn’t that nice. Isn’t that nice that you can just ‘check out’ of FB when things get too rough for you? That’s called White privilege.” But I didn’t, I merely scrolled on by. This is the kind of family member not worth my time because she will never “get it.”
So I was telling Jerimiah about this, and I was explaining that I was having a hard time deciding if that is what he did too. His problem with FB is that there is this “Scroll on by” mentality, and well, he feels like he can’t. He feels like he needs to hold people accountable. That holding people accountable takes a toll on a person, especially when both your families are full of covert racists. So we had a long discussion. We talked and talked about whether he was just getting out when the work got too hard, whether he was using his privilege in the best possible way, or whether we were just overthinking this all. We talked and talked and talked, and we came to a few conclusions. They may not be the conclusions you would come to, they may not make you happy to hear, but they are ours and we are sticking to them.
Conclusion #1: Jerimiah is getting back on Facebook. He misses his groups, his friends, and the community from Charlotte that he stays in contact with. He misses seeing pics of our friends’ babies and dogs. He wants his friends to be able to see what Jackson is doing.
Conclusion #2: Neither Jerimiah nor I will be “scrolling on by” when family and friends post crazy shit on Facebook. Here’s how we are looking at it. When I open up my FB feed and I see someone say, “Hope you all have a great day!” I am happy to see that. I envision that person walking by me on the street, or even walking out of my house having just come for a visit and saying that directly to me, because well, that is how it works. When you post on YOUR page it comes to MY newsfeed which is basically into MY house. It is your way of telling me, and all your other “friends,” how you feel about something. It opens up, whether you want it to or not, a dialogue about what you have just written. Now I’m not sure when this shift happened. When we went from “Listen to what I say and let’s nicely discuss it” to “Listen to what I say and do not share your opinion on it because THIS IS MY PAGE,” but I suspect it happened around the time that half the population became embolden by a racist president, so around 2016. But here’s the thing, if you were to walk into our house and say, “Have a great day!” We would smile and tell you to do the same. If you walk into our house and say, “All lives matter,” we would take that as an opportunity to explain to you how that is a racist statement. We would explain why it is counterintuitive to advocating for the Black community. We would politely explain that you, as a white person, SHOULD be advocating for the Black community right now. We would be, in fact, continuing the discussion that YOU started by walking into OUR house and saying, “All lives matter.” Now, if you are not prepared for that discussion, that is on you. The way I see it you have you have two options: 1. Don’t say it to us (that means don’t let it come into OUR house, that means don’t write it on YOUR page) or 2. Unfriend us.
Conclusion #3: We expect to be held accountable by our BIPOC friends when and if we say something that is not correct, we are learning. If you don’t know what the acronym BIPOC means, please get with the program. It means Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Please stop calling BIPOC people “Colored” and please stop referring to yourself as “Non-colored” it’s MFing 2020, y’all. You are white, with a lower case “w” and your Black friends are Black with a capital “B” (or whatever they desire to be called, asking them is the best way to find out). Get it? Got it? Good.
Conclusion #4: We will no longer be “unfollowing” or “snoozing” people. And this is a one strike and you’re out rule when it comes to blatant racism. But for the rest, we will strive to hold you accountable. For example, if you decide to partake in white centering (this is when you take the Black Lives Matter narrative and turn it into how that one time you were discriminated against and you are just so upset about it) we will be calling you out for it, holding you accountable. Or if you say something like, “I just don’t understand the rioting,” we will try to help you understand. But if at any time you become hostile toward the Black Lives Matter movement, or the Black community, or anyone in general, we will be unfriending you because you are mean, and we don’t like mean people. We have given so much grace over the last two weeks with friends and family, but we can’t anymore. You should know better by now.
Conclusion #5: If you still support Trump and you still plan to vote for him in November, in our book you are propagating a racial divide. That’s means you are a racist. Now it might be covert, most likely is, but that still means you a racist and you are doing nothing to remedy that. Matter fact, you haven’t even admitted that you are racist. WE have! We have been screaming it from rooftops. We understand that we are racist because we were raised white in a culture of white supremacy and that is how society made us because that is how our American culture was made to work, to oppress minorities. We are actively unlearning all this bullshit and if were too, you would no longer support the current administration. SO please don’t get offended if we have to unfriend you for your political stance. Remember, it’s personal. But if you are still a Trump supporter, here is what we want you to do. We want you to declare your love for Trump. We want you to push your chest out, say it with pride, I mean really amplify your voice when you say it. Say, “I am a racist!” Say it, say it loud and proud, so we know who to unfriend. And just so we are clear, saying you support Trump because you are a “fiscal conservative” or “love guns” or “only vote Republican” is not an excuse. Chest out. Pride in your voice, “I am a racist!” Say it! Stand up for what you believe in, y’all, that’s what we are doing. Lest I remind you our friendship is not nearly as important as all of us standing up for what we believe in.
Conclusion #6: The “unfriend” button goes both ways and trust us when we say this, WE WILL NOT BE OFFENDED IF YOU UNFRIEND US! Because the thing is, if we are real friends of family, the real kind, we will be able to respectively converse on social media, even if we do disagree. You will be open to our world views, and us to you (with the exception of Trump, per my last email). And we will see each other in real life again and we can talk then. You don’t even need to explain yourself. I won’t be explaining myself. Jerimiah won’t be explaining himself. There’s no need to explain why you do what you do. There just isn’t. We will assume you had to unfriend us because you are a racist who is not actively working to get better, or because you can’t handle truth, or because you are afraid to be held accountable for your actions, or because you think we are “mean.” Either way, we don’t care. We wish you all the best, mostly we wish you better mental health, and more love and compassion in your heart for others.
Whew. This has been a long, but necessary post. I will refer back to it many times from this point forward, I will even share it on your comments if I have to hold you accountable and you wanna fly off the handle all crazy and such. And for the people who we love, our close friends and family members, please know that we are not “coming for you,” but that you will not be receiving a pass either. We might, for example, choose to message you about your covert racism, rather than call you out publicly, but we are watching, in fact, the whole world is watching now. If I were you, I’d recognize how important words are, and fast. Choose them wisely. And if you don’t feel comfortable getting into the conversation, then just don’t. Simple as that.
Lastly, let’s all welcome Jerimiah back! The real work starts today.
“You wanna do like a cheese-on-cheese situation?” I asked my husband the other day while I was standing with the refrigerator door opened, looking frantically from one plastic bin to another. I thought it was a rather straightforward question, but he looked at me with a mix of disgust and sadness, so I offered in a loud tone, “DO YOU WANT TO DOUBLE DOWN ON SOME CHEESE WIT ME?” Nothing. Silence. This MFer needs clarification on this? I proceeded to pull out three different types of cheese, slice them, stack them on top of each other, and eat the stack. Directly in front of him. As my lunch. Then I walked away.
I don’t know about you guys but I am not made for this type of living. I am not made for thinking up what to feed two adults, a child, two dogs, and the large family of nuisance ants that have taken up residence in my house (even though the exterminator has been here TWO TIMES.) I can’t do this. I can’t have all these beings relying on me to feed them all day and night.
Under normal conditions my husband fends for himself for both breakfast and lunch, having an eight-to-five-ish-type office job. My son would normally be eating whatever the hell I pulled together last minute at 7:15 am while he followed me around and said, We have to leave or I’ll be late for band practice. And if I forget, no problem, school would feed him. That just left me and up until two months ago, Sir Duke Barkington, my standard poodle, to nibble on this or that throughout the day. But now we have two dogs, one of which is a 16-week-old puppy who is OBSESSED with food, so she overeats her damn puppy chow then vomits, and then eats the vomit. And since March 15th, I’ve had my son and husband looking at me like, Hey Gir, what’s for lunch? Yeah, they call me Gir.
Early on my husband got the hint, and he just started cooking breakfast late, around 10:30, for all of us. That was our brunch. Everyday. The same thing. Everyday. Eggs. Wrapped in a carb-conscious tortilla. Everyday. I finally had to say, I can’t do this. I can’t live this way. I appreciate you trying to feed us, but I can’t eat another egg. That was almost a month ago and I had my first egg yesterday and it was, I mean, it was okay.
That was also the day I sort of just, umm, opted out of being part of my family’s cooking and eating life. Yes. I’m a horrible partner and mother. I just walked out of the kitchen and didn’t look back. Now my son comes to greet me in my office in the mornings with string cheese hanging out of his mouth, or a frozen waffle cause he’s too lazy to toast it in the oven, or maybe some cereal with no milk because, Mommy the milk shocked me a little, like when you stick a battery on your tongue.
That’s how I got to the ménage à cheese situation the other day. That’s how my husband and I came to a three week take-out bender. We are better now. Detoxed. Ordered HelloFresh.
That’s how things are going in my life. Hope yours is better.
This post isn’t about Reading Rainbow, but do you remember that show? I loved the shit out of some Reading Rainbow. LaVar Burton was an actual celebrity at my house, in my school. In fact, every week my teacher would wheel in one of the tv’s and pop a VHS tape in and we would get to watch a Reading Rainbow. It was usually Friday afternoons, right after lunch and recess. Right about the time we would want to fall asleep, but shit nah, man, ain’t nobody sleeping when Reading Rainbow is on! For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, please Google it! And also look at this sexy MFer:
Whew! Let’s all take a minute to compose ourselves. My fifth-grade ass was certainly in love with LaVar. Anyway, like I said that is not what this post is about. It’s about reading in general, but more specifically what I am reading.
People text me, inbox me, call me, and DM me and ask shit like, “Whatchu reading, Missy?” And I’m usually not reading some shit other people want to read. I’m all, “Oh, I just finished The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats,” or I’ll be all, “Omigod, have you even read The Sacred Wisdom of the Native Americans” or “Oh, I’m just re-reading Joan Didion.” And they are like, “Oh, okay.” Then under their breath they are like what the hell is her problem? But turns out when we started a book club a couple months ago (that is now disbanded because of Covid-19) I made a list of more “popular” books to read, and I’ve been sticking pretty closely to that list while in quarantine. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I’m reading, what I plan to read, and what I have read. Ready? Here goes!
I read Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby. I like Irby. I like her style, her sense of humor, I like her balls to the wall attitude. I like that she shares it all, puts it all out there. She’s kind of like me in that way, but of course much funnier and her stories are way ‘mo better. Mine are always sad and shit. Gotta work on being less sad. Anyway, I was introduced to Irby when I downloaded her audiobook We are Never Meeting in Real Life a couple years back when I started walking my senior dog to try to help her shed some pounds (and me too). Turns out it was HILARIOUS, and I would actually laugh-out-loud on my walks around the ‘hood in Charlotte and my neighbors thought I was crazy. So I ran and grabbed her book, Meaty and that cemented my love for her. I anxiously awaited for the release of Wow, No Thank You which happened since we’ve been in quarantine, and I ordered a copy from an independent book store in Chicago (that’s where she is from, and I had stopped into a shop that sells her books while I was there, so I ordered it from them) and had it shipped to me. Hilarity ensured. Listen, Irby is crass, sure. She’s a little too open for some people, and she sometimes make you think, like for real? Did that really happen? And yeah, it did. But mostly she’s just funny. Her books are all collections of essays about her own life, and she’s like the kind of person you want to be friends with, but neither of you ever make meeting up a priority cause you’re a little nervous around each other, and also you’re both introverts and really don’t like to leave your house, so you just admire each other from afar. Yes, that’s it. I’m an Irby admirer. Also, look at these covers!
I read Crossing to Safety back in March, because I had already started it for Book Club before we had to cancel. Crossing to Safety legit made me say aloud, “It’s kind of like Seinfeld.” Because it was kind of like Seinfeld. It’s a book that seems to be about a lot of nothing, just a pair of couples who “grow up” together in a sense, have careers, children, stresses, fun, highs, lows, and all the in between. So it seems, on the surface to be about nothing, but it’s actually about a lot of things. Really, really, real things. It’s about love. About that sort of intimate love that comes along with friendship. It’s about growing up, into ourselves, into our relationships, into the people we are supposed to be. It was released in 1987 and written by Wallace Stegner. It’s semi-autobiographical, and it defiantly feels like you could be reading creative non-fiction. It also had an Olive Kitteridge vibe to it for me, because it was so inside these relationships, and these people. It was sad, it was happy, it was funny, it was all the things. I definitely recommend it. Jerimiah read it with me (Book Club and all) and he liked it too. Though he did note some slow parts, and there are some parts where you are like, wait that has to be important, and it is, so pay attention!
In between Crossing to Safety and deciding what book we were going to read together next, I made Jerimiah read one of my favorite short stories from George Saunders so we would have something to talk about. I have only read a few of Saunders stories, even though I bought 10th of December a couple years ago in hopes to read it all quickly. Haha. I have a lot of hopes. Anyway, the story The Semplica Girl Diaries is one of my favorites because the first time I read it I was so throughly confused by it, that I had to read it again, and now every year I read it just to be like, what they hell? And also, how can people write like this? It’s one of those stories that keeps my faith in writers alive. Anyway, Jerimiah read it, then when I asked him about it, he was like, “Oh no, I have to read it again before I can talk about it.” So yeah, there’s that. Read The Semplica Girl Diaries and also if you have time My Chivalric Fiasco.
When Jerimiah and I actually decided on a new book, it was Little Fires Everywhere, because it had been suggested in Book Club. The television version had just released on Hulu, so we thought it would be fun to read the book (another I bought eons ago in hopes to read one day) and then watch the series. I mean, we have the time… Anywho we were wrong. The show is so totally different than the book that I am now mad and a little pissed off at Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Misdirected anger, I know, but come on people! I get that there are certain things that have to be changed to catch the attention of television watchers, but I’m just, well maybe I’m not mad, just disappointed. To be fair we are only on episode three, so it might get better, but so far we don’t like it. We were a fan of the book though. We had only heard good things, then when I said I was reading it people came out of the woodwork to tell me they thought it sucked. And I could see why some people would not like it. First, it’s a short read. We did it in a weekend. Not too much “thinking” happening, unless you let it take you there, but there are really A LOT of things to dissect in that book. Race and class are the most evident, of course, but the idea and the topic of motherhood really took my breath away. I think maybe people who identify with Elena Richardson might not like it as much as us Mia’s out in the world, ya dig? Either way, I’d say give it a shot. Don’t be a Mrs. Richardson about it, assholes.
That brings me to what we are reading now and what we are planning to read. We just started one of Jerimiah’s picks, The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the DetroitNumbers Game by Bridgett M. Davis, and I am smitten! I had no idea what to expect from this book. Jerimiah heard about it on one of his “numbers” podcasts and suggested it knowing that I like creative non-fiction and he likes numbers. I’m only on chapter five, but I think Davis does a great job explaining her mom, the Numbers (which is not a thing I had any idea about) and Detroit in the 1960s, particularly Black Detroit, another topic I have no idea about. I’m laughing, learning, and thoroughly enjoying this book.
Now my To Read list is nuts you guys. I finally ordered Untamed by Glennon Doyle, I know you guys are tired of hearing me talk about this book, but I think I was sort of putting it off because I know it’s going to be a hard read for me. A lot of truths I don’t want to deal with. But I ordered it (from an Indie Bookstore, duh). Then there is The Gum Thief which was another Book Club pick that I had already bought and readied myself to read (and I think Jerimiah might like). Then there is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng who several people have told me is better than Little Fires Everywhere, then there is Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore, which I think is gonna be hella sad, so I keep putting it back on my shelf, then there is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, and D-Day Girls by Sarah Rose. Lastly, there is Biloxi by Mary Miller, who is teaching one of my classes in the fall so I’m kinda scoping her out before I scope her out. You know how it goes. I’m obvi really into female authors and female stories right now. And I won’t apologize for that.
But you guys! This amazing thing happened to me. The other day I was sitting here minding my own business when a package arrived from one of my best friends and it included the following: The recipe to her famous chocolate chip cookies, a letter, two cassette tapes (Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits and a homemade mix tape of Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind from 1991), AND a signed copy of Objects in the Mirror: Thoughts on a Perfect Life from an Imperfect Person by Stephen Kellogg. I’m not kidding. Phew. I’m booked solid you guys.
A funny thing happened on the way to ambush Jackson’s teacher’s house with flowers and signs under the cover of darkness: We were almost spotted! Let me back up. Yesterday we did a car parade in front of Jackson’s teacher’s house. It was an idea from one parent in the class, facilitated by another parent, and communicated to the masses by me. It was a week-long negotiation of emails, time slots, text messages, and pure craziness–but it paid off big time! That’s another post. This one is about the night before the parade.
Jackson and I got this great idea to place 25 flamingos in his teacher’s yard the night before, with a sign that said, “The rest of the flock will be here tomorrow.” Funny, right? Well we had this idea on Monday, and when I tried to order 25 flamingos I couldn’t get anyone to promise me they would be here by Thursday. So we moved to Plan B: 25 spinning flower pinwheels from the Dollar Tree, with a sign that said, “Thanks for helping us grow!” Sweet. Not as funny, but definitely cute. And it did the trick! The next morning a surprised Mr. Budd filmed his front yard and shared it on Class Dojo with everyone. He was incredibly touched by the gesture, but what he didn’t see was the chaotic lead up to this picture-perfect moment.
First, there was Jerimiah and me in the Dollar Tree, a place I’m a little freaked out to go into when there isn’t a global pandemic happening. We had our masks on, our hand sani in our pockets, and we looked EVERYWHERE for those spinning flowers before we were about to give up. Walking out the front door I did one last turn to see and BOOM! they were right at the front door. Palm to face. So then we loaded up on 25 of them, some cardboard, balloons and streamer (for the car) and maybe some candy, who can be sure? What?! EVERYTHING IS A DOLLAR THERE, Y’ALL!
We get home and have all sorts of ideas. Pinning names to the flowers, making the flowers spell something out, wild, wild, ideas. Near hour two I had a breakdown of sorts, as I do from time to time, and said, “Listen here, assholes! We are gonna go over in the cover of darkness, stick these in the yard, and run away frantically. We aren’t doing any fancy shit.” I was really just talking to myself at this point, because Jerimiah was grilling steaks on the patio and Jackson had already checked out. So that’s just what we did.
At 9:45 pm we left our house for his teacher’s. He lives approximately two minutes from us (hey, we are a neighborhood school, okay) and when we got there we did a slow roll by to scope things out. Now it was apparent by this point that I was the only one who had done any sort of “stalking” for nefarious purposes. Jerimiah didn’t understand why were doing a “stakeout” and Jackson was basically the loudest person I have ever heard in my entire life. To make matters worse, Jackson had dressed in camo and a cowboy hat. ??? The lights in the house were on, so we drove by a second time and this time stopped short of the Budd house and Jackson hopped out to gather some “intel.” Just as he jumped out I saw Mrs. Budd’s shadow walking through the house and I rolled my window down to signal to Jackson to get back into car. He saw me and yelled in our general direction, “WHAT, MOMMY? WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?!”
At that point I made Jerimiah back up the street. He was like, “Isn’t this more suspicious?” Ugh. Then we agreed we were just too early. So we did what anyone would do: We went to Dairy Queen. In the DQ line we debated Raspberry Blizzards, decided on code names (Eagle Eye, Momma Bird, and Falcon) and Jackson tried to incorporate number codes. He was all, “Code Three means imminent danger, okay? Okay, Momma Bird?!” and shit like that. Jerimiah decided we did in fact need to be organized, and I took the springy, red DQ spoon and stabbed him directly… just kidding. I said, “That’s what I’ve been saying,” while I cracked my knuckles loudly on the dashboard. We made a plan.
We’d park facing the front yard, the wrong way on the street. It is a quiet cul-de-sac, so no one would see us, or even care. We’d turn our lights off, obvi. Jackson would go first, put the first sign up (the one for Mr. Budd’s kids) and take just a couple of the spinning pinwheels, which at this point were hanging on by a thread, having been moved into a box, out of a box, pushed, shoved, hidden, gathered up, slammed down. Honestly we were expecting a lot from Dollar Store spinning pinwheels. Then Jerimiah and I split up the remaining pinwheels. I held mine in my hand, and he stuck his in cup holder because he was the driver. Okay. We had ice cream. We had a plan. It was go time! So we immediately drove back home, because Jackson ordered a fucking large and I was like, “Did you actually order a fucking large ice cream at 10 pm on a Wednesday?! You need to save half of that!” So he needed to get it into the freezer. Then, ahem, we were off again! By this time it was 10:15 and we thought certainly Mr. Budd would be sound asleep. No. Nope. Lights on. Same deal. But honestly it was now or never.
We rolled down the street, lights off, Jackson’s nervous shaking leg smashed into the back of my seat, spinning flower pinwheels poking my legs, and parked where we had discussed. Jackson got out of the car, slammed his door shut, Jerimiah winced, I screamed “JESUS!” and he started toward the yard. It was at this point that we realized he had left his sign and spinning pinwheels in the damn backseat. I rolled the window down and whisper-yelled, “What the hell man, full hands in, full hands out!” Then Jackson, from two yards away, in the Budd’s front lawn, yelled back, “WHAT? MOMMY WHAT DID YOU SAY?”
I started flailing my arms around in the car, and Jerimiah calm as a cucumber said, “It’s time,” and quietly opened his car door. I grabbed my shit and jumped out, as Jackson came running back YELLING, “THERE’S SOMEONE ON THE BACK PORCH!” In which I asked, “How the hell can you see the back porch? You’re freaking out, man!” All while Jerimiah was already putting spinning flowers into the ground. We joined him. Finally.
At this point I don’t know what happened. I had convinced myself that the street light coming from the top of the hill was a flashlight, and OMIGOD who was walking their dog at 10:30 at night?! And Jackson had placed his stuff, so he was just wondering around making loud noises. We gave it one last look, glanced up at the house, didn’t see anyone, and booked it to the car. I got there first and opened the passenger door to see, you guessed it, spinning flower pinwheels on the floorboard. I screamed, legitimately screamed, and grabbed them up and shoved them at Jerimiah who was trying to get into his seat. “What the…?” he started. “They are yours, they fell out of the cupholder,” I said. Then he sat and looked at me for a full second, in which I 100% thought we would sit there and argue over if they were in fact his from the cupholder, or if I had simply forgot a couple of mine. Instead, maybe because the urgency took hold, he ran away with the damn spinning pinwheels.
So there I sat, alone in the car, when it occurred to me that I had no idea where Jackson was. That’s when I heard him yelling, “Code 1! Code 1!” from the middle of the street, which if I remember correctly, means “All Clear!”
That’s it, that is how we pulled off the spinning flower pinwheel front yard at Jackson’s teacher’s house. And it was worth it.
Thanks, Mr. Budd, for being the kind of teacher who deserves 25 $1 spinning flower pinwheels in your front yard. We are glad we didn’t get caught. And even though it was hot mess, we’d do it all over again any day.