The Breaking of Spring

Three months ago we were planning a trip to Florida for spring break. We were deciding which Disney parks we wanted to visit. We decided just Epcot and Magic Kingdom, maybe a stopover at Legoland, since Universal is still out. (Jackson hasn’t finished the Harry Potter series yet. We are on the last book as a family, but that’s the deal, we have to finish it before we go to Universal. We read at a pace he sets, so honestly this is on him.) But none of that matters because Florida is closed. Well, unless we want to go to church. Or to a gun store. Or to Publix. But I think we will skip all that nonsense. So what are we doing now? We are deciding where to camp in the backyard. For real. Things are a little smaller and slower now.

Traditionally we have spent time with loved ones during spring break or gone to a really cool place, like NYC. Last year we had just moved to Georgia during spring break, so we spent the week unpacking our house and getting pumped up for a new school. This year we thought would be totally different and fun. We were wrong. I mean different? Sure! A worldwide pandemic is different, but fun… Well, we are working on it.

It’s been three weeks now of hanging at home together, and although virtual learning is a real thing that has been happening, our days have been a mixture of games, and walking the neighborhood, and doing nice things for our community, and cleaning. Ah the dreaded cleaning. Jerimiah is still working, which means (even though he sets up shop most days at our dining room table) he still has stuff to do most hours of the day between 8am and 5pm. Jackson, on the other hand, has been finishing his school work in record time on account of the whole “he doesn’t have classmates causing distractions” thing. It’s amazing what he can get done in a short amount of time when his friends aren’t sitting next to him chatting about Minecraft.

Which means he’s been FaceTiming friends and playing Roblox with them. Or Minecraft, or dutifully taking part in whatever “fun project” I have come up with that day. Then there’s been the deep cleaning of his room. The yard work we’ve been doing (for real, I’m sunburned from it. It looks like I actually just came back from the beach, but alas no. I’ve just been pruning and what not.) The most fun has indeed been sitting in the hot tub at night listening to music while we relax our tired muscles and talk about what we will do and where we will go when we can in fact, go again. Current favorite plan: Southern California with friends in the fall!

Until then, we think we have a solid spring break plan. Backyard campout. Maybe in the tent, maybe just pulling the blowup mattress into the sunporch (which we spent an entire afternoon cleaning, so much damn pollen). S’mores on the table top fire pit? Sure! Ghost stories? Absolutely! Card games and a cookout? You betcha! All in the comforts of our own home. Uh huh! This might be a new tradition. Who knows! If nothing else, it’s the best we can come up with and it’s fairly exciting, so let’s do this!

Hope you are finding new and fun ways to get by!

Stay safe!

M.

Hey There, All You Cool Cats and Kittens

If you have no idea what that title means, then we probably can’t be friends. Look, I’m sure you’ve heard Carole Baskin’s name recently. Or scrolled past some memes about her, and trust, it is as bad as it all seems. “Tiger King” is one fucking hot mess of a documentary, but it is in fact a documentary. I have heard people say all sorts of terrible things about it in the last few weeks, mainly people who have not watched it and refuse to on (insert some narrow-minded excuse here) grounds. But the fact of the matter is, if you are from the midwest, if you are from a state connected to Oklahoma, if you are a someone who has actually lived, a real, down-home, times-are-tough, kinda life, then you aren’t put off by a gay man, living in rural Oklahoma, who owned tigers and bred them for profit while he seduced younger men with meth and occasionally threatened a woman he didn’t know online. It’s just, you know, shit you’ve seen before.

But then again, is it?

The real draw of Joe Exotic is how outrageous he is, for sure. But what has my juices really flowing today is that people on FB are like, “I would never watch that trash!” Then they pop their popcorn for “The Bachorlorette” and I’m like da fuq? Some people are contrary, just to be contrary. Trust me, I know. I went through a really long indie movie phase in college and refused to watch any big-budget production. There are still some really pop-culturally significant movies I’ve never seen from the early 2000s. Le sigh.

Most of the people I know who refuse to watch it are those people who are just contrary. They don’t like to like what is popular. Also most of them are secretly watching it. Some of the people though, like people who live in Oklahoma are refusing to watch it because they say it gives Oklahoma a bad rep. Umm, have y’all been to Oklahoma? I have. I have spent a lot of time there. It’s pretty fucking accurate. I mean, no, not everyone is Joe Exotic, but there are an awful lot of the people like the people who work for him. Recovering meth addicts who just got out of prison, never finished high school, and literally have no other options. Yeah, seems accurate. And Florida? Yeah, the documentary paints Florida pretty right-on too. Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin are literally the epitome of what is wrong in those two states. In this country. And if you can get past the Tiger breeding and abuse (which I know is horrible and actually the worst part of the whole thing) you will see that there are some very important lesson in this documentary. It’s just that the memes are making light of the bigger stuff.

Like, did you know that there are more Tigers in captivity in this country than there are free in the world? I did not know that. Literally had no idea. I knew Tigers were endangered, but it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been to Dirty Myrtle, I had never come across Doc Antle’s place, and would be terrified if I had. But that’s the problem. I seem to be an outlier. People seem to be captivated by these big cats in a way that some will pay $600 to pet a baby fucking Tiger. Which is absurd because you can buy your own for $2000. Did you know that? I did not. How many baby Tigers you think are gonna be bought and sold with these damn stimulus checks this month?

The attitudes toward the animals from most of the people is sick and sad. Make no mistake about it. And yes, Joe Exotic is like a train wreck you can’t look away from. So is Carole, to be fair, who is in no way better a person than Joe. They are both using animals for profit (or were, he’s in jail now), but not about the animals for profit thing. In fact, that parts totes legal. But should it be? Nah, probably not. See the bigger problems we need to talk about here?

This doesn’t even scratch the surface, y’all. Doesn’t even scratch it. The most important thing to know about this documentary, is what is most important to know about all of them, and the reason we like them. This is REAL LIFE. Real life, y’all. This is how people live. What they do to innocent beings (in this case large, exotic cats that should be left in the wild) and to each other. The lengths at which people will go to be seen and heard. To feel like they are someone. To be part of something that is bigger than them. There is lying and manipulation. There is torment (both for animals and humans) and there are a lot of guns (but wait, doesn’t America pride itself on the gun thing?) But if you think for a second that the people in this documentary are the only ones out there, the only ones who do this to Tigers. Who do this to each other. Who plot to murder. Who get so high they accidentally shoot themselves, who lose sight of who they are as a person in exchange for drugs, love, belonging, or limelight, think again. And this documentary, hopefully, will shed some light into those dark places and prevent, protect, and/or altogether stop what is happening in our country concerning endangered animal abuse. Among other things.

I watched “Tiger King” and made Jerimiah watch it, for the same reason that I watch all the documentaries I do, to learn. And I did learn. And anyone who watches it can, if you allow yourself to be empathetic. If you don’t use these lives as fodder. If you really think on it afterward. Really understand that people live lives that are this way. And wonder how you can help. Or at least, not get sucked into it. (Y’all, don’t pay to pet Tiger cubs in Myrtle Beach, for Fuck’s sake, I shouldn’t have to say this.)

So yeah, laugh if you want to. Cry also. Because there is certainly shit to cry about here. Or refuse to watch it because you are “too cool” for that. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that some people are changed by this. Some people see a different side of human behavior they didn’t know existed before. Some people, with deep pockets, are moved enough to take a stand for the animals, for the workers who are sucked into horrendous situations, held prisoner like the cats, and made to think that this is the only way through this life.

But make no mistake, “Carole Baskin is a fucking bitch.” I mean, look at that picture above. Please remember that it’s truly about the animals, and the documentary, while it plays up the craziness of the people at the beginning, knows that, and is seeking to do bigger things. So let’s help it.

M.

If That Ain’t the Truth…

“I’ll tell you what…” What, Missy? That’s what my Mom says, she says, “I’ll tell you what…” usually followed by something Dr. Phil said on t.v. or how mad she is at Trump. (My Mom’s a secret Democrat, shh, don’t tell anyone. She voted for Hillary.) My Mom also says things like, “Shit! Ope! I didn’t mean to say that.” Cause she’s a Baptist. But when I was a kid she used to say things like, “Well fuck me runnin’,” and “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” I don’t know about that last one. What are you even talking about today, Missy? I don’t know. Listen, I don’t know you guys. I just got off the phone with my mom and she said “I’ll tell you what, Dr. Phil said mothers should be paid $100,000 a year salary, and if that ain’t the truth.” That’s another of Mom’s lines, “If that ain’t the truth…well then I don’t know what is.”

I think what you are seeing now is a small glimpse inside my brain and how it is functioning nowadays. It’s off kilter. To say the least. I think probably everyone’s is. My husband’s is. My son’s is. My Mom’s is. It’s mainly stress-induced, yeah? And we are all battling it. If you aren’t battling it right now, then you just aren’t paying attention. This is a trying time. A chaotic, miserable, traumatic time, and if you are getting up everyday, opening up the blinds, reaching out by telephone or text to someone, saying hello to a neighbor when you check the mail, actually walking to the end of the driveway or the end of the porch to check the mail, well then, you’re doing it! Look at you! You’re making it work. Because this sucks, y’all. There’s no way around it. And if that ain’t the truth…

Yesterday Jackson painted small birdhouses that I had bought eons ago and stashed away for a rainy-day art project. He painted them and rode his scooter around the neighborhood sticking them on front porches to brighten up our neighbors’ days. We hope it worked to put a smile on their faces, but what it really did was brighten up our day. Then I shared pictures of him doing it on Instagram to hopefully brighten up friends’ days. I hope that worked too. I’ll share them now with you guys too.

We also started painting rocks to hide for kids to find on our walks, because we have been walking everyday and everyday we see families out and about with small ones, burning off energy. Today we started another family art project. Because art seems to bring us back to center. I think it does a lot of people, if you let it.

Our governor finally did the right thing this week, and he announced a shelter-in-place order, and he announced that we won’t be going back to school this year. And I know, man I know, it’s tough for kids, espeically my kid. My kid, who’s been to three elementary schools and who really wanted to finish strong at this one, with the best teacher, and the coolest, smartest, kindest classmates anyone could ask for. But we are making it work, and we know it’s sad that they won’t have a fifth-grade graduation or a fifth-grade day ‘o’ fun, but it’s okay. It’s one more way we are learning about selfless acts, and helping the greater good. Fifth grade is turning out to be a massive learning experience.

So that’s the bright side, yeah? The one I’m looking at anyway. The learning, the loving, the community that is going on around us. I’ll tell you what, we are watching our world change, in real time, and it’s scary, and sad, and traumatizing on the bad days. But on the good days, it’s an exercise in patience, in kindness, and in love. Geez, if that ain’t the truth.

Stay well and safe, y’all.

M.

April First

Today is our one year anniversary of living in Georgia, and I’m happy to report that things have gone much better than expected. When we got the news about 18 months ago that we were headed to the Atlanta-metro for Jerimiah’s work, I had an actual, fucking breakdown, y’all. Georgia?! I mean really?! We already lived in North Carolina, the plan was to go further north, not further south. Like, ever. Plus, we had visited Altanta, exactly once, and swore we’d never go back. Le sigh. Life is funny, isn’t it.

April 1, 2019 I watched as my son and husband climbed into the car and headed south, then I went to Denver, NC (the place we lived for four of our five years in North Carolina) one last time. I had to see my dentist to finish my “procedure” that had taken months to get done. (I had a tooth implant put in and that day my favorite dentist in the whole world was actually cementing the implant in place.) So the last thing I did in North Carolina was grab coffee from my favorite DD, then I head south to my new home.

When I got here I was overwhelmed to say the least. It is difficult. Sitting alone in my empty house, boxes stacked up all around me, chaos and clutter. Orchestrating movers, and trampoline setter-uppers. Signing paperwork that never ends. Enrolling your kid into a new school system, all while wondering how long you will be here, yeah, it was tough. But this year has been totally worth all of it.

First there are the people we have met. The cool, awesome, kind, welcoming people. I learned about what I thought Southern Hospitality was in North Carolina, then I really learned what it was in Georgia. The Charlotte area has a semi-Southern Hospitality vibe, Georgia, well they live and breathe it. They welcome you, first thing. Ask where you are from, what you like to do. Invite you to join their communities, their churches, their friend circles. I had to work my ass off to meet people in North Carolina, in Georgia it felt sort of like I inherited them. Like it was my right when I moved into the neighborhood. It’s sorta nice. It’s actually, really nice.

Charlotte is a great place. Don’t get me wrong, and I actually love it and would probably move back tomorrow if given the opportunity. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise, and people have said otherwise, even close friends, but I stand my ground. Charlotte has all we need, without the hassle of “big city” living. But I have to say, Altanta has even more. A lot more. And we are just now, a year into this whole Georgia thing, discovering it.

Next is the school system. I know, I know, everyone is partial to their system, but Jackson was in three elementary schools. THREE! And the one he is in here in Georgia is THE BEST we have been in, hands down. And the school he is in is a Title One school! Gasp! (Did I ever tell you guys about his first elementary school, and how the other parents talked about the Title One school down the road? I should have known then.) Anyway, it’s also an IB-STEM school. The only one in the state. And it’s also a popular school for School Choice, which is another cool thing they do in Georgia. Even if you don’t live in our neighborhood you can go to school at Jackson’s school. How cool is that? Giving other kids a fighting chance. It’s also the MOST diverse school Jackson has ever attended, with kids from 50+ countries. It’s great, we love it and are sad that his fifth grade year has been cut short with Covid-19, but whatcha gonna do? Even the virtual learning is top-notch. I can’t say enough about his school and the school system in DeKalb County.

Whew.

Then there is the city itself. It is rife with history. So much history. And people are eager to talk about it, eager to share their stories, and the stories of the people and generations before them. You just have to find it.

Then there’s all the cool stuff. The amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, Centennial Park where the Olympics were held. There’s so much to do in Atlanta that it makes your head spin just thinking about it. And the people are friendly and cool. The art scene is amazing. The city itself diverse in a way that scares most people who aren’t from ’round these parts (mainly racists). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you don’t like Atlanta it’s because you haven’t spent enough time here (guilty!) Or you’re a racist. The traffic isn’t a real excuse to not like it, all big cities have horrible traffic, so stop with that nonsense and just admit you’re a racist.

(Stepping off high horse.)

So there you have it. The first year of life in the ATL has been so much better than we could have ever imagined, and to top it off, we just found out that Jerimiah is being promoted within the metro area, so we are here for a longer time than we thought we would be. (Had a scare a couple of months ago and thought we might have to move to Florida! Yikes!) But no, we are buckling down here, and we couldn’t be happier.

Thanks Georgia, for your welcoming spirit, your abundant opportunity, and your stone-cold awesomeness. Remember, home is where you shit is. Thanks for welcoming us home, Atlanta.

M.

Winnie, The Doo

Last week a friend of ours called to ask if we could dog sit while she goes out of town to stay with family while we are in this quarantine. Her husband still has to physically go to work in Atlanta and she didn’t want to leave her pup all alone all day. We had previously discussed the idea of trading off dog-sitting duties with each other if we ever needed to, so our dogs already know and like each other, so we said sure thing. Two days with our friends’ sweet Doggo Nola, a yellow-Lab mix, and my puppy-mommy uterus was exploding. Jerimiah and I have been in talks for several months about the idea of a second dog. In fact, if you’ll remember we went to a couple of shelters, but didn’t find a doggo that fit our family. Then after having Nola around, seeing how cool she is with Sir Duke, how he has a playmate and that helps out a lot, well, we just did it. We totally adopted a dog over the weekend! May I please introduce to you Lady Winifred Beesly of Atlanta:

Now, I know what you are thinking: That’s a beast of a name, Missy! How did you ever come up with it? Super simple. My friend Madison suggested Winnie, while we were stuck on “D” names that would be cute with Duke. Names like, Dixie, Delta, or Dolly. But I knew since she was a Lady, she needed a noble sounding name, so I said make it Winifred and you’ve got a deal. Jackson was hellbent on Beesly, as a nod to the fictional character Pam Beesly in “The Office” (of which we just finished the whole series as a family and that was a hot fucking mess, with not one, but two emotional breakdowns for my 11-year-old). And of Atlanta is of course necessary, considering she is a Lady. But like Duke (whose actual name is Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte) we call her by her nickname, Winnie. Or more usually, Winnie the Doo, because she’s an 8-week-old F1B PyreDoodle.

What the actual hell is an F1B PyreDoodle? Winnie is 3/4 Standard Poodle, 1/4 Great Pyrenees, and 1/1 awesome. Her biological mommy is a Standard Parti-Poodle and her biological daddy is half Standard and half Great Pyrenees, giving her the F1B status. Now listen, I don’t know anything about dog breeding. Nor do I know anything about these fancy-ass designer breeds that I am apparently drawn to, but she isn’t AKC registered like Duke because she can’t be, because she’s, well, let’s just call her “too special.” Yes, she’s “too special” to be recognized as a reputable dog breed by the American Kennel Craphead Uppity Bitches Chamber of Cocksuckers. I think that’s their full name. But listen y’all, true to Missy fashion, I had to Google what a Great Pyrenees looks like after we had already adopted her. Side note, they look like this:

Did you know they were really big? I did not.

Anyway, even though she’s mostly SPOO, she looks mostly like a Great Pyrenees puppy, which makes me a little nervous cause the doggy door we bought isn’t all that big. But that’s shit to worry about later, for now, please look at these pictures:

Now, how are Sir Duke and Lady Winnie getting along? Well, the first day was ruff. He was really sad that she was getting a ton of attention, and he withdrew a bit. He even refused to sleep on the bed with us because she was up there. Then by the next day he had convinced himself that she was a Covid-19 carrier because Great Pyrenees are mountain dogs from France and Spain, and he’s slightly racist. Later that night we found and burned his MAGA hat, had a stern talk with him, and he’s coming around. He even lets her eat next to him, as you can see in the above picture.

Yesterday they started to play together. And whenever I tell her “Outside!” and rush out the door with her peeing down my arm, I think I can see a twinkle in his eye. He knows he is the superior being, he doesn’t feel pressure to prove it anymore. Also, he’s a little scared of her. But to be fair, she’s kinda ferocious for such a tiny thing.

So there you have it, Winnie the Doo. And yes, we made a song for her set to the Winnie-the-Pooh theme song and it’s dropping fresh today straight from the 100-acre wood. You’re welcome.

M.

Winnie the Doo (Sung to the tune of Winnie-the-Pooh)

Winnie the Doo, Winnie the Doo,

Fuzzy little puppy, all stuffed and fluffy,

Winnie the Doo, Winnie the Doo

Silly, willy, nilly old girl!

Welcome to the family, Winnie-girl. You’ve got some big shoes to fill, but we think Bentley would be proud of you.

Disney World, Part Three

If you’re still around this is the third and last installment of our whirlwind trip to Disney World back when Jackson was in first grade (the perfect time to go). We did a three-day park hopper ticket, and we stayed on property which afforded us some perks. Day one was Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Day two was Magic Kingdom and Epcot (we LOVE Epcot) and day three was Disney’s Hollywood Studios and then we ended our night and our first trip to Disney at Magic Kingdom where we got to meet Anna and Elsa and see the best fireworks show we have ever watched. Again, Disney just gets us.

At Hollywood Studio’s we rode some awesome roller coasters like the Rockin’ Roller featuring Aerosmith (Jackson was all,”Who’s Aerosmith?” Face palm. Then was terrified of the speed, then said he didn’t like Aerosmith and never wanted to ride that ride again. See pic below!) We saw a car chase with a whole blow up scene, walked some familiar streets, and I got to FINALLY see the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids playground which I have literally dreamed about since it was built when I was a kid! Jerimiah was less impressed than I was, but Jackson and I had a great time climbing on the giant ants, just like in the movie!

Everything was giant at Hollywood Studios! Even the characters! We got to meet the Monsters Inc. guys here, along with Doc McStuffins, Jake, AND Sophia! We were big fans of these three when Jackson was little! We even found our way over the Hotel of Terror and the Haunted Mansion. What fun!

Disney Pixar Studios is there as well, and the Star Wars people. I have never watched Star Wars, and Jackson is ehh about the whole thing, but when the Storm Troopers came through he did stop and stare. He was a little nervous around them. But then we saw a cool Star Wars 3D movie, met Darth Vadar, and learned how to battle with light sabers and he was feeling much better about the whole thing.

Jerimiah and I really liked Hollywood Studios. Jackson was a little less happy with it, but we think he was a little young for that particular park, and not knowing the Star Wars guys very well was difficult. We want to take him back now, we think he’d give the Aerosmith ride another shot! Haha! Plus, the Tower of Terror and Haunted Mansion kinda spooked him. Again, 11-year-old Jackson would probably be better suited for this park.

By this time it was our last night at Disney World and we wanted to end it at Magic Kingdom. We got to see the fireworks at Epcot, but we wanted to see the Castle fireworks, and there were a couple of princesses that Jackson had told us he didn’t want to see, then faced with the idea of not getting to see them, he changed his mind. He did in fact want to meet Anna and Elsa, so we ended the night eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate under the finest fireworks display we have ever seen at Magic Kingdom. It was the best way to end our whirlwind trip!

First came the Electrical Parade, then came the fireworks and awesome lights on Cinderella’s Castle. It was magical, just like Disney World, and we wouldn’t have wanted to end it any other way.

As you can see from Jackson’s expression in the above picture, Disney World was well worth the money, time, and planning. It lived up to every expectation that we had, and in most cases blew right past our expectations. We are forever fans and will go back anytime. Wanna come along?!

Thanks for reading about our trip to Disney. I’ll leave you with a couple more pictures from some cool things we found around our hotel.

And remember to always believe in the magic!

M.

Disney World, Part Two

When I left you, we were making our way to Cinderella’s Castle in an old-timey car that you can catch a ride in if you are up early and committed. And that’s what we were. After all, this wasn’t just Jackson’s first time at Disney World, this was Jerimiah’s first time and mine as well. We didn’t have childhood that afforded us a special trip like this, so we knew, even though we only had three days, we were going to make the most of it. And that’s exactly what we did. As a recap, we bought a package deal with Disney, which I highly recommend, because it comes with perks. We also added the “Photo Package” to our deal, because you know how I like pictures. Which I also recommend because it totally freed me up from ever having to take pictures. With the photo package, you just find a photographer, and there are a ton of them, scan your Magic Bracelet, and ask them to take your picture. They have all sorts of cool shots to do, and every night you can download all your pictures. I have over 500 pictures from our three days at Disney, and I took about 30 of them. The rest were awesome ones like these:

That right there, that’s Cinderella’s Castle, the most magical of places. This was early on during day two of our trip and we had big plans. Huge! First stop was the castle.

Those yellow buttons we had on said “This is My First Time!” and we all wore them proudly. And see how we are all in sneakers, that’s your best bet. Because the first day we walked 15 miles. The second day, well, we walked even more. And rode the shuttle bus. And hopped on the monorail. So yeah.

Even thought it was the first week of January, it’s Florida, so it was just light jacket weather. The highs were in the fifties, the lows in the 40s, but all the hotel pools are heated, so no worries there. Though to be honest, we didn’t swim. Not once. We left each morning and headed to a park, and got back to our room so late and exhausted each night we passed out before we could turn the lights off. Well, they did. I stayed awake and looked at all our cool pictures of the day.

At Magic Kingdom we spent the whole day doing all the things! We met Alice (my one wish) and the Mad Hatter after we rode the Tea Cups. We rode every ride we came across. We met every character we saw. We even saw one of the day parades and visited the Hall of Presidents. But after all that Jackson still insisted we go back to Epcot. He REALLY loved Epcot. So after a bite to eat for dinner at one of the casual places at Magic Kingdom we headed back to Epcot to close that bitch down on our second night. Here are more pics from the second day, including my favorite of us, the one on Splash Mountain. It’s such a metaphor for this trip, and for how we live our lives. Everyone else was covered and cowered. We were free with our hands up screaming our minds out. Cause that’s how you do things. 🙂

Enjoy the other pics from day two, and I’ll meet you tomorrow for our last day at Disney World.

Thanks for reading.

M.