Tough Times

This year has been tough on the old psyche. I’m not 100% sure why, but I think a lot of it has to do with the way that Jerimiah and I spent last year growing and changing. We both opened ourselves up to seeing the world from other’s people’s perspectives. We decided to get very serious about anti-racism, often holding our friends and family accountable in a truly uncomfortable, but necessary way. We were the most political we’ve ever been and it showed. We realized the sort of people we want to be and the sort of people we want to surround ourselves with and unfortunately that means leaving some people and opening ourselves up to new ones. It has been tough, really tough. When basically one whole side of your family either unfriends you or unfollows you from FB, well, you know you’re doing something right! Growing and changing and holding people accountable. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

But all this has really done a number on us mentally and emotionally. Like sometimes we just look at each other and sigh because really, what is there to say? We know who we are, where we stand, what we expect from people, grown adults and our own kid, our parents, our siblings, extended family and our friends, and if they can’t or won’t live up to those standards, well there’s no way we can help, we’ve been lowering our standards for too long. Then there’s the fact that we live hundreds of miles away from the people we care about and for the last decade at least we have spent considerable time trying to stay connected. We were always the ones traveling, even with a baby, then a toddler, then a kid. We were always the ones calling and texting, inviting them to holidays and trying to get everyone together in the summer, well until recently. Honestly keeping tabs on everyone, trying so hard to stay connected when we are so far away from them, it really gets tiring. Y’all know this. We know this. So we are taking a break. Which means it will get worse before it gets better.

To top it off this is my last “real” semester in grad school. Next semester all I have is thesis and if you have never had a “real” last semester of grad school let me liken it to, oh what shall I liken it to? Dog shit? Horse shit? Oh I know, do you remember when you were a senior in high school and the “senior-tis” hit you hard right in the face? Like you could see the finish line. You could see the pot of gold. You could see your dumb, overcrowded state school in the horizon with all the beer that you could handle and you wanted so badly to be there you stopped sort of caring about anything else, eyes on the future instead? Freedom. Yeah, I’m there now, only grades still count and I won’t actually be done with my terminal degree until I finish this damn semester. Bleh.

And for the final cherry on top! Are you ready?! Jerimiah has been offered a new position in a totally different part of the country than we have ever lived before. Sigh. It’s really all you can do sometimes.

But as luck would have it our favorite time of year is rolling around! Christmastime! Jackson came inside a month ago when my mom was visiting and she had just picked up a can of smell-good stuff and sprayed it without paying attention to the scent and it happened to be “Christmas Magic”and Jackson came inside and was all, “OHHHHH, it smells like Christmas! I love it!” Then he went into a deep dive about how freaking excited he is this year for Christmas and he doesn’t know why.

I know why. The same reason Jerimiah and I are excited. A reprieve. A rest. Time together just the three of us, to relax, recharge, and reflect. To do puzzles at the kitchen island and watch Christmas movies. To build Legos and model cars. To zoom Hot Wheels through the Christmas village. To plan how we want to decorate the tree and which new snow globe we will buy. It’s the baking and the giving, oh he loves the giving! He likes the getting too, make no mistake, but he loves to bake all day the Sunday before Christmas and run around the cul-de-sac passing out treats and gifts. Mini apple pies for Mr. Charlie. A giant bone for Cookie, the neighbor’s chocolate lab. A Korean pear in return from Mrs. Kim. He loves it all.

Santa Claus still visits us too, but you already know that. You already know we plan to let that Christmas magic always flow through him and hopefully one day when he’s older, in college, or a single guy living on his own, or with his own children, he will be able to summon that spirit for himself too. Even when he least expects it, but so desperately needs it.

So yeah, things are freaking tough right now, but there is an end in sight. It’s so near I can almost taste it, and it tastes like pumpkin pie!

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Snacks, Snacks, Snacks

The other day on my sobriety post I promised to talk about how people like to pass judgement on my “dietary” choices all the time. Generally it’s because they see me, see I’m fat, and assume I am doing nothing about it and eat snacks all the time. Ho hum. This is true for a vast majority of people, others make assumptions about their eating habits because everyone thinks their choices are the best. Some people are like, “Yay for you for eating more veggies!” while others are like, “Oh my goodness, you still eat cheese, that’s disgraceful.” Okay, assholes, who asked you? Even though I no longer eat meat I still do it, I still pass judgement, not about people who eat meat, about other stupid things. Like when I see a kid’s lunchbox full of “snacks” I’m like, “Really?” Like how do you let your kid eat only snacks all day? See? I’m judgey, we all are. Maybe they can only afford that kind of food? Or maybe that kid will refuse other food and at home the parents will have that fight, but they’ll be damned if they will put that fight on the teachers at school? Or maybe they grew up poor like me and learned unhealthy habits that are super fucking hard to break and they are trying desperately to stop the cycle with their children, but they slip-up sometimes? Or maybe they don’t fucking care and their kids metabolism, their metabolism, is great and I should just mind my own fucking business? Sure, sure. It’s all possible. So I should mind my own fucking business.

Anyway, I don’t want to be accused of hating snacks! I love snacks! Always have (see above tangent). But when Jackson was small we *literally* (I put the asterisks there to make sure you know I actually mean *literally* as it is supposed to mean, not as figurative language) we *literally* did exactly what our pediatrician told us to do with him for fear that if we didn’t he would learn our horrendous eating habits. We did not feed him “real” food until he was a year old. We introduced baby food when she told us we should and we started with vegetables only. I bought organic peas and mashed them up and gave them to him. We only supplemented breast milk when we had to. When he turned a year old we *literally* (again) threw the bottle away on his birthday and switched him to sippy cups with only milk (2% because “not every baby needs whole” the pediatrician said) and water. No juice. No soda. No nothing. 2% milk and water.

When he started eating “real” food we NEVER made him “clean” his plate. Eww. That is what we had to do when we were kids, umm, weight problems because you don’t understand how to read the signals from your stomach? Youbetcha! We also never made meal times a big deal. We ate as a family at the table. That was our only grand gesture. And we did eat at the table, not in front of the television ( and our families legit thought we were weird for it, they judged us a lot.)

Whew. It was tough. Really tough. But it paid off. Jackson is totally a teenager who stops eating when he is full. He will walk away from a cheeseburger (his absolute favorite meal) after taking two bites if he picks up on that signal from his stomach. He will ask the server for a box and he will take it home to eat it later or the next day, whenever he’s legit hungry again. I am in awe of him each time he does this, I’m like, wow. I think I did that. I mean I can’t do it to save my life (I’m learning, Jerimiah and I have even been splitting meals when we eat out just to help when we can’t pick up on our signals) but just wow, you know.

What’s always been funny to me though, is that people see Jerimiah and me and then they look at Jackson (who has always, despite all the work we have done, been in the 90th percentile for weight, like since he was born, but he’s never been overweight) and they assume things about us. They assume we don’t make our kid eat healthy. They assume, when they see him with a soda or a bag of Cheetos that this is the way we live our life and it used to bother me something fierce (I guess it still does to some extent cause I’m telling y’all about it) but lately, probably because my own relationship with food is changing, I’m realizing I gotta care much less about that shit. Much less.

I think it’s just that I don’t know how to navigate this world without being a fat person and because of that, because of how the world treats fat people, I have all this shame around what I eat and what my kid eats and how I move around in this body. I look at “normal” sized people and think, wow, they must have this eating thing all figured out, but no, they don’t. They just have better genes, or grew up eating veggies first, they aren’t coming into middle age with this weird deficit that Jerimiah and I are. We have to start considering everything we eat, all we do to keep ourselves healthy because of where we are coming from, meanwhile some people just don’t. They don’t have to constantly talk about it or think about it, and when we do it makes them uncomfortable. That must suck for them, but not as much as it sucks for us.

I know a person who 100% drinks hard liquor most nights of the week, but who has 100% told me that I don’t eat enough fruit. Did I want to slap the shit out of that person, sure? Did I? No, it was a family reunion and that felt like it would cause too much drama, you know? But that was old Missy, I’d like to have that convo again…

The point is I have changed. We do that as we grow. Well some of us do. And when we grow we make changes based on new information. This year I learned who my real father was through a DNA test. I also learned that he died when I was 9 months old from a massive heart attack. That’s some new info that will fuck you up. It sure did me. I learned too that he drank beer every day of his life and that he often threw them back with a cheeseburger. Eek face.

But I can’t just flip a switch overnight. I can’t unlearn 40 years of nonsense, so it takes time, and I have to give myself the time to get there. There are no quick fixes with this. Sure I could get weight-loss surgery or take some kind of pill, but we all know that won’t touch the root of my problems. So here I am. Blogging about this all to you, eating veggies, listening to people tell me how they think I should eat and live to be healthy, and trying to smile through it all, but I think we all know I won’t be able to sustain that either.

So consider this my warning. I don’t want your opinions on the way I eat or what I feed my family and you won’t get mine. In fact, just assume I don’t want your opinion about anything. If I do, I’ll ask. Otherwise, walk on by me while I’m eating my snacks or my veggies. It will be safest for all those involved.

Take care of yourselves, y’all.

M.

New York City

As I mentioned yesterday we took my 77-year-old mother to New York City for the first time! It was a lot, but also not too much, but also totally different than any other trip to NYC for us. It all started when we asked Jackson what he wanted for his birthday and he said, “I want to go to the Transit Museum in Brooklyn.” That’s his favorite place, to be sure, so we were like hmm. With Covid being Covid and all that we wondered if we could pull it off and how safely. Everyone has their own idea of what is “safe” right now and in our house it’s like this: We are all fully vaccinated, waiting for boosters in December, Jackson is in school full-time in person (with a mask mandate in place), J is back to going to office once a week, usually, and we have been successfully traveling since this summer. However, I am still not willing to get on an airplane. I know, I know, it sounds dumb, but like I said, we all have our things. I am totally fine eating in a restaurant, but no airplane for me I just don’t trust others enough. So we decided to drive to NYC that’s when the idea of bringing my mom came. She was already asking if she could come stay with us for a month this year and it happened to all line up with my birthday, my mom’s, and Jackson’s. So we asked Jackson if we could bring Mama (we invited Grandma too, but she already had plans) and he said, “Sure!” Then the planning began.

When Mama got here we talked about all the things she wanted to see, and factored in all that Jackson wanted to see/do including the Transit Museum, the 9/11 Memorial, and Coney Island. Then we realized that we had never been to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. Then our friends from Rhode Island were planning to join us one day, so we mashed all of this together and come up with a kind of solid plan. And for the most part, it all went exactly as planned. How amazing is that?!

The rest of the story can best be told in pictures, so I’ll let them do the talking, but in reality just know that there were some unexpected trips (did you know that there is an awesome Harry Potter store in NYC?) and we only missed one timed reservation, but it was okay they let us cancel our tickets and instead we took a hard-hat tour of the hospital at Ellis Island which was fantastic especially since we had watched a documentary on it before we went to NYC. We got to spend all the time Jackson wanted to at the Transit Museum, then I finally got to ride The Cyclone and The Thunderbolt at Coney Island which was a lifelong dream that turned out to be a terrifying nightmare and I will never ride them again! Like for real. Scariest rides I’ve ever been on, and I love crazy rollercoasters, y’all. Whew.

Okay, pictures as promised. Just pictures.

Take care. Thanks for sharing in the memories!

M.

He loves this station.
Bright lights, big city!
She dropped some serious cash at the M&M store. She loves chocolate and giving gifts, so you know, it was a duh.
“Oh, Hamilton!” Haha, we’ve still not seen it and we are still totes okay with that. Maybe one day…
Junior’s for cheesecake, as one does. If you’re gonna force yourself to eat on Broadway, make it be Junior’s.
This was him showing that it was after 11 pm and he was drinking Mountain Dew because NYC.
She’s terrified of boats and yet… there’s only one way to get to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island
Jackson got an iPhone 13 for his 13th birthday and now he’s obsessed with taking weird pics…
Hard-hat tour, if you get the chance I recommend it. Your ticket helps fund the restoration of the hospital and the history there is wonderful.
Financial District behind us, taken from Ellis Island. One World Trade is the tall one.
Helping Mama see the city. These two. 😍They pushed her wheel chairs and walked painfully slow. They accepted all things that came our way and not one time did they complain (about Mama anyway, there was a lot of complaining but it was about other stuff! Haha! Have you ever driven in NYC?!)
There she is!
Went down to Tribeca to see this place! A hit with all of us, one of Mama and Jackson’s favorite movies is the all-female version of “Ghostbusters.” It’s actually the only one any of us will watch anymore. So there’s that…
The original wooden escalator at the 34th Street Macy’s. Mom loves “Miracle on 34th Street” and Macy’s! 😂
Brooklyn, headed to Transit Museum where we met up with friends.
The Transit Museum is full of old subway cars dating back to the turn of the 20th century. Here they are in a fairly modern one, but Mom got to see trains from all decades and then of course, we went on an actual subway train later!
Jackson and his friend, Morgan, at the Transit Museum.
Next stop was Coney Island! Mom got to see the famous Boardwalk, I got to eat a Nathan’s Hot Dog, and we all got to play games and ride rides! Totally worth it. Everyone felt like a kid again.
Told you. Yes, I’m still pescatarian, but not when it comes to Nathan’s on Coney Island.
Oh while we are talking about food… bagel and lox. Duh.
Same plate. We split food now cause our stomachs are shrinking, did you know that was a thing?! Shameless plug to say that I’m 30 pounds down and my cholesterol is 30 points down just from eliminating most meat!
Oh yeah, the cheesecake pic! Cheesecake at midnight on Broadway, I’d love to say this was our first time…
Sorry I got sidetracked. Back to Coney Island!
Luna Park!
“Is that a giant mermaid?” Yes, yes it is.
On the Boardwalk
The only ride we could get her on. Though she did tear up the arcade!
This bitch. Never again. I didn’t make it on The Steeplechase however, I’m still willing to ride that one.
No one did the Wonder Wheel. Next time.
Jackson loves taking the subway. He’s just at home here. So weird, but so wonderful. He was giving directions to people on the first night. All his “walking with confidence” pays off in NYC and I wouldn’t be afraid to follow him anywhere there.
She navigated the subway pretty well. Though I wished she’d stop taking her mask off for pics, especially underground. 🤦🏻‍♀️😂
Butterbeer at the Harry Potter Store where he found Hermoine’s wand (the one he’s been wanting) and Mama got to see the bathroom straight away, though to be fair even waiting in line for it was magical.
Bathroom is right around the corner. 🤣
One of a kind experience, even with all the people. Just take your time and know where the exits are and how the lines go. 👍🏼You’ll be fine.
Finally made it to Ground Zero.
He’s watched ALL the documentaries and can give you a tour of the 9/11 Memorial whenever you’re ready.
North Pool
Unofficial tour guide
She wasn’t prepared for the scope and the sadness. You never are.
Foggy day, couldn’t see the spire. For more facts on the building itself, or the original Twin Towers, please talk to Jackson.
He brought a fire patch from our local DeKalb County fire station #5 and traded it with NYFD #10, who are known as the station that is “Still Standing” on account of being untouched during the 9/11 attack.
You know how he obsesses over things: Enter the Unisphere from the 1964 World’s Fair. We drove all the way out to Flushing to see this bad boy, on account of the Men in Black movies. It legit had nothing to do with the World’s Fair. 🤣We actually went to Macy’s the night before specifically to look for a black suit and tie so he could pose in front of this like Will Smith, but they didn’t have a black tie! Not a single black tie in all eight floors! So again, next time…
Oh yeah, and these weird things which were actually just a “cover for alien spaceships.”
I ended the last night in NYC floating in the hotel pool alone and thankful for the quiet. It was a whirlwind five days, but I’m so glad we did it!

Our Daughter’s Birthday

It’s that week. The week where I want to stay in bed and cry. Eat all the carbs in the house. Think about the what might have beens. The could have beens. The should have beens. I should have a daughter who is celebrating her 10th birthday this week. I should be showering her with gifts. The candy she likes, the stuffed animals she loves, her favorite doll or her favorite video game. Laughing in the evenings while we cuddle with the family and listen for the 10th time as we share the story of her birth. Instead, last night Jackson and Jerimiah and I talked about the girl we thought she would she been.

Jackson thinks Lydia would have liked Minecraft. Jerimiah thinks she would have liked whatever her big brother liked. I think she would have been too much like me to handle. Of course that’s the should have, would have, could have beens at work. The very real fact is that our daughter, from the moment she was conceived, had very real problems. Had she survived her birth she would probably not actually be here to celebrate her 10th birthday. The daughter we had had a chromosomal disorder that if she beat the 10% survival odds, would have been wheelchair- bound, unable to care for herself, unable to feed herself, let alone play Minecraft. Our daughter was never the girl we think she should have been, could have been, would have been. But her small, short life has surely impacted a great many people and that is the reality. I need to keep that in mind moving forward this week. I have to, so that I can indeed keep moving forward this week.

Sending love and light to you all. I hope you can move forward this week too.

M.

Only Child

Y’all how are you? Like really, how are you doing? Me? Ehh. I mean I’m still on vacation, coming up on the end of my second week in the midwest. Still in Kansas, as it sits, headed to Oklahoma tomorrow for the holiday weekend, then finally I will be sleeping in my own bed again sometime next week, nearly three weeks since I left it. I didn’t intend to be gone from my lovely bed that long, but things happen and I’ve gone where I was needed. Meanwhile, Jerimiah has been at home fielding the chaos that is in Georgia, including a slipped disc in his back, an eye infection (they think he picked up some bacteria while we were camping a couple weeks back) and a dog that doesn’t have Kennel Cough (because she is vaccinated against it) but that also might have Kennel Cough. So there’s that.

In short, this has been a hectic summer already and it feels like it’s been a long summer. Almost like it’s the summer that won’t end, and it’s only July 1st! Weird.

So I’m not here to talk about any of that today, what I am actually here to talk about I have already covered with y’all before but it is time to bring it up once again because this week a family member made a comment to me that made me all sideways and I can’t get it out of my head.

As you all probably know Jerimiah and I are proud parents of an amazing 12-year-old son. He’s our P1 in this life and pretty much all we do is for him, always has been, always will be. You may or may not know that we lost a daughter in 2011. Her name was Lydia and she had a chromosomal disorder and she was “not compatible with life.” You also may not know that for many years after the loss of our daughter we struggled with infertility. We tried many things, all the things really, short of IVF which is incredibly costly and in our opinion not worth it considering that money could be spent on the adoption process if we were so inclined to have another child. In the end we decided to be happy with our one and only child and we moved forward with life.

I tell you all this to remind you, nay demand of you, to stop commenting on the number of children people have. And yes I mean don’t say, “Wow! You have six kids that’s a lot,” but also stop saying, “You only have one?” or “Well only children are THAT way,” (whatever THAT way is in your mind). There are many, many reasons not to comment on the number of children people have, but most importantly it is simply none of your business and chances are you are doing nothing to help them in any way, rather just coming off as a judgy asshole.

You only have one? Is my least favorite question in the whole world because it implies so much, and it shows how very little someone knows me. And if the person asking knows me so little, then why are they even considering how and why I have only one child?

So this family member this week was not happy with me (long story) and was making some realizations about my kid, as in my kid is not the way they think a 12yo boy should be (remember you can’t manage other people’s expectations) and they made this comment, something like, “Well, he’s like this because he’s an only child.”

Now this particular family member knows all too well about what we have been through, but couldn’t stop themselves from saying it. (Insert eye roll). I am choosing to think they did not consider the implications in saying that to me. I am choosing to think they were just being reactionary and that eventually they will come around and apologize for their error. I am choosing to think this will happen so that it might assuage my frustration, but who knows if that will ever come to fruition.

Instead I am hopping on here today to remind you all to be mindful of your words. Words have consequences. Maybe not to you, but what you say to other people can greatly change the way they love and respect you. And if someone says some jacked up shit to you, please hold them accountable, y’all. Too many people are not held accountable for their words and they will never learn to stop and think before they say things unless we force them to.

Now go forth today and do good things. Or lay in bed and watch Netflix all day, same, same. But don’t let anyone say something to you that brings you down, but if they do make sure you hold them accountable.

M.

How to Reach Herd Immunity

We found out this week that Jackson will be eligible for the vaccine soon! In fact the CDC is meeting today to approve (fingers crossed) the emergency use of the vaccine for 12-15-year-olds and we are eagerly awaiting the news. Until then we have been discussing how this might help get us closer to herd immunity, which seems like something that we will never reach as a country. That is sad and a bit scary, but at least we know that our closest friends and family trust science and the process and they will be safe and protected. As for the others, well we will be sending them good juju each year and shaking our heads in dismay behind their backs.

Anyway, Jackson said the other day that if we would just, as a country, start calling it “The Trump Vaccine” and promise to Fox News watchers that it was just bleach being injected into them, they might do it! We all laughed and laughed at this, then we got quiet because well, it’s the truth and that makes us sad. Then I said, “Throw in a coupon for a free Filet-O-Fish and it would be a winner!” More laughter. Because you know, laughter eases the stress. Which is why we have come up with more ways to reach herd immunity, for laughter purposes only, please do not try at home.

Ways to Reach Herd Immunity Quickly

  • Give away leftover MAGA hats
  • Two for one shots (Viagra and COVID) in men’s bathroom at the airport
  • Let the My Pillow guy do the branding
  • Slip the vaccine into “Long Island Iced Teas” at all Florida bars
  • The words: “Trump, All Lives Matter, Vaccines” in one flag that fits perfectly in the back of a Ford pick-up
  • Offer it up in low, easy-to-make, monthly payments via HSN
  • The SlapChop Guy becomes The SlapShot Guy
  • Sell it at cost to mini-capitalists interested in becoming the next #PharmaBro
  • Give away free suitcases of Busch Light with every injection
  • New banner at CVS: “Every vaccine fights funds the police!”
  • Give to all women who have been hit on by a married man
  • A military parade if we reach herd immunity by the 4th of July
  • Promise microchips in the shot that links to your bank account to send $12/month to the Trump 2024 campaign
  • Buy three AK-47s engraved with “Fuck Masxs, I Got Vaxed!” and get one free with proof of your shot
  • Let Texas secede as long as they get vaccinated
  • “Jesus was Vaccinated!” Stickers
  • Hold “Fight ANTIFA” rallies, require them to get vaccinated at the door
  • Give sex workers authorization to administer the vaccine

Disneyworld was a Success!

Hey, hey, y’all! We are back from our first real vacation since the pandemic and I gotta say, I am feeling relaxed and wonderful! I was so nervous about taking Jackson to Disney, but had only heard great things about how they are operating and it all turned out to be 100% true. So if you are on the fence about Disney, or are looking for a place to travel where masks are mandated and the rules are strictly enforced, look no further than Disneyworld!

I’ll start by saying that Disney keeps their numbers close to their chest, so I can’t find the real numbers, but it looks and feels like they are operating on about 30-50% capacity at any given time. We never waited longer than 45-minutes to ride a ride even in the line after we made the queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance! Great ride, by the way, and I’m not even a Star Wars fan!

The lines is all spaced so that you are six feet apart at all times and they have moved them mainly outdoors. Of course Disney has a strict mask policy and you cannot be in the parks or at your resort without a face covering. You should also note that they require your covering to be at least two layers, so no neck gators for instance, and yes they enforce that too. I saw a guy leaving Disney Springs because all he had was a neck gator and he did not have a second mask. They DO NOT give you a mask! They simply turn you away at the gate to go find an appropriate mask on your own. Which is appropriate. Be an adult, assholes.

Their mask rule applies to children over two-years-old and I watched a family vehemently deny that their obviously preschool-age child was only two they were stopped to be told she needed a mask. That is the number one change I have seen at Disney. The cast members are always so happy and friendly, but cross them about a mask and you are going down! When the dad said, “How do you know she’s not two?” to the cast member the cast member said, “Because I have eyes. Put a mask on her if you want to stay at Magic Kingdom today.” And that was that. Daaaaamn, Gina!

The only time you can have your mask off is when you are stationary and either eating/drinking or taking a picture. Guarantee you will be “caught” if you are walking and sipping your Starbucks. The cast members pop out of nowhere and say, “Hi, please put your mask on to continue enjoying the park today!” Then poof, they are gone. Like magic! I seriously wish Disney cast members were all over this great country of ours right now!

The rides are separated to keep parties from each other by a row of seats, but on some rides like Splash Mountain your party is just given their own boat/car because there is no way to safely do it. That was fine by us! For roller coasters it is normal, just because you are mainly outdoors, masks always have to be on when you are on the rides, and well, you know the air doesn’t really linger around you when you’re zooming around Test Track at 70mph! Still rides like Tower of Terror you are spaced apart and there is plexiglass. These pics are all below!

We stayed on property at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and had a great time like usual. We hit the pool a couple of afternoons (you can be maskless inside the pool gates) and then did four days of the parks, one day we got to bring my mom along! She was vacationing in North Carolina with my sister and brother-in-law that week when unfortunately my brother-in-law had a death in the family and so they left NC and drove to Florida for the celebration of life. They ended up being an hour from us, so we were able to drive up Saturday night and pick my mom up and bring her to Disney on Sunday! That is a story in and of itself, one that I will share later, but a note would be that my 76-year-old mother had never been to Disney and it was a lifelong dream of hers, so I am glad we were able to do it! And like all other things, Disney was wonderful and so very helpful in getting her around. With their help, and the rental of a wheelchair, she was able to visit three parks in one day! Amazing!

So that is the quick Disney experience. I just wanted to share because I know some of you have been thinking about it and like me were a little concerned. Fear not! They have it on lockdown there and things are running smoothly, like usual. Just in case you need a little more incentive, here are some pics of our awesome time!

Take the trip, y’all (if you are fully vaccinated), buy the ears and the pineapple whip! It’s worth it.

Stay safe and sane!

M.

Hiya

Hiya, everyone. Y’all. You people. Folks. I had a jump in new followers and lookie-loos when I posted about my Dad recently and I suspect that I had some “new relatives” find my blog, probably because they don’t like me and want to keep tabs on what I say about them. But I think maybe some of y’all are in the same boat as me and have some questions about DNA tests and relative stuff and how to navigate that and I want to help and tell my story. And wow do I have stories for y’all, but first I want these “new relatives” to back off me a little bit, then I can tell you all what wonderful and horrible things that happen when you are in a situation like me. For real, I have one story about these two sisters who are my first cousins, even though they desperately do not want to be, and how they really showed the world their true colors and I am dying to share it with y’all, but I’m waiting till they lose interest in me. Until then, let me just re-introduce myself and thank y’all for being here!

I’m Missy. I was born and raised in Leavenworth, Kansas (not on a farm!) and am a graduate of Leavenworth High (go Pioneers, Class of 2000). I am married to Jerimiah, have a son Jackson who is basically the smartest, coolest kid ever. I have two dogs, Winnie and Duke, and we live in the Atlanta-metro. We are straight-ticket Democrats (you’re welcome, love Atlanta). I did my undergrad at Missouri State (we lived in the Ozarks for ten years). I have an MA in Creative Writing from UNC Charlotte (we lived in Charlotte-metro for five years) and am currently in an MFA program. I turn 40 this year and have a list of things I want to accomplish and one of them was to find out who my dad was. I wasn’t adopted, but my mom was dating two guys on and off again, and she loved one a lot and thought the other was nice and funny, but the one she loved was married (a real asshole) and when she got pregnant with me she just sort of assumed I was his and dumped the other guy. Long story short, turns out the other guy is my real dad!

I know this because I did a DNA test earlier this year and was shocked when I got the results because I believed the married asshole to be my dad this whole time. It was a relief to find that the man who was my real dad actually didn’t abandon me, he passed away when I was nine months old. It’s good too that we didn’t know back then that I was his, because as I stated, his family is full of crazy, Kansas hillbilly (not the good kind) types and I am so glad I wasn’t raised in that mess.

So as you can see I am going through a lot right now and so is my mom, but we are both incredibly happy that we have an answer. And I am also happy to report that because of “nice cousins” I have access to the full family tree, which I wanted for my son, and health and medical information that I wanted for me. For example, I was just diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that does not run in my mother’s family and my cholesterol jumped up really high in a short amount of time and the docs were concerned. Then I found out people in my dad’s side have lots of autoimmune diseases and my dad died of a massive heart attack at the age of 42, so this was good, valuable info to find out. Albeit sad.

So there’s that. If you are even considering a DNA test please do it. This is sound, basic science that has been around for a very long time and it can be trusted (yes, it even holds up in court), even if some of my “new relatives” don’t believe in science. (They are legit going around telling people they don’t trust it because I am “not recorded in the family bible” and because you have to “draw blood” to have a DNA test done. That is incorrect, but you probably already knew that because you are smart.) And don’t even try to convince them because they are Trump supporters, so even if they were presented with facts in their face, they would deny it. You can’t win with people like that.

Anywho, my blog is usually a mess with my random thoughts and things that happened to me or adventures my family and I have been on, but seeing as we haven’t even eaten in a restaurant in over a year, it’s been light on adventures and heavy on other shit.

I’m also coming off 2020, the year I wrote a blog post everyday, so I have been taking a wee bit of a break on the blog, kind of not reliable at this moment, but I am coming back around. But if you are bored you can read through last year’s posts. Did a lot of musing on political stuff and some protesting and a lot of “Wear a fucking mask” posts. You can also read some of my published work if you go to my “Writing” tab.

So there you have it! That is my in a quick nutshell. I have a large family whom I love dearly, though I don’t get to see them often as they are mainly still in Kansas, and I have friends literally all over the place. My bestest friends are in Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, and Rhode Island, so that is a challenge, but what are you gonna do? We make it work and I wouldn’t be able to get by without them.

Let me know if y’all are in the same boat as me, need to vent, or just want to say hello! I hope this year treats us all a bit more gently than the last.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

It’s nice to meet you.

M.

Whew

I have been walking around for weeks now saying, “Whew” and making animal-like noises or holding a long sigh, or shaking my head in disbelief like a cartoon character. Seriously. I’m sure my family thinks I am tad bit crazy, but I am and this semester has really done a number on me and more than one time in the last month I have yelled, “This is bullshit and I don’t want to do this anymore!” Then I keep doing whatever it is I am doing. Because the truth of the matter is it isn’t just grad school that is knocking me down, it’s life. And it isn’t just me that is repeatedly being knocked down by this life. And some days it feels easier to stay down then to grab hold of something and hoist yourself back up, and then other days you pop right up by using just your own abs, still there are other days where you throw your arms out wildly trying to grab hold of someone else to stop you from falling. Or maybe it’s to bring them down with you? Either way it isn’t your best day and you know that.

What are you saying, Missy? I’m not 100% y’all, but I think I am saying I know what you are feeling right now because if it can happen to person it has happened to one of my family members, friends, neighbors, cohorts, or me in the last month.

I’ve witnessed a loved one lose their partner, their driving force, to cancer. I have listened to a friend desperately try to save her marriage. Waited for news about a grandma in the hospital, a child battling Covid. I have watched more gun violence in my community. I have went to bat for people who come to find out didn’t deserve it. Worried for a friend and a new job prospect. I had an icky reaction to my covid shot. I have been told that I am not a good person from people who have no idea who I am. I have watched heartache on the news, and heartache on my street. I’ve spent so much time trying to not worry, trying to make everyone happy, trying to be involved, but not too involved. Trying to stay connected to people. I have worried about what the next year will look like. If I am safe and comfortable doing things that were so normal and easy a year ago. I have lived my life on that thin line between anxiety and hysteria and I keep pushing back against toppling over that line and don’t like it.

If any of this is resonating with you, then it’s probably time we both take a step back. Stop spinning for a moment. Breath in, then back out. Focus on some good. Watch some doggy videos. Take a hot shower. Plan a trip. Look for the goodness that is still out there. I know it is. It is in your life, just like in mine, but sometimes the not so good tramples over everything else and we are left with those bleak feelings. Very bleak.

What has been good in your life? I’ll go first.

Jerimiah and I had our second covid shots last week.

We leave for Disneyworld in a week.

I have started planning J’s 40th birthday, and so far it rocks.

Jackson was invited to stay in the STEM program for 7th grade because even though he’s a virtual kid still, his grades, attitude, and personality shine through the screen.

Did I mention the new baby? It’s a girl and she’s my great-niece and she’s healthy and happy.

There is one week left of my semester and I start my thesis in the fall and all that is squared away and as of right now my grades in all four classes are: 126%, 100%, 107%, and 100%. I’m doing okay.

My dogs are becoming socialized and barking less at the mail carrier that they see every, single, day.

My mom is doing okay.

My friends are checking in.

My husband and son love me and show me in little ways every, single day.

Did I mention our first vacation in more than a year is next week?!

Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for today? How are people showing up for you? I hope you have a hundred things on that list, but if you don’t, if you can’t conjure it up today, don’t worry. Don’t get down on yourself. There’s always tomorrow. And I’m always around. You know where to find me. And if I’m not there it’s probably just because I’m crying in the shower. I’ll be out in a minute…

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

Be grateful. It helps, I promise.

M.

Tennis ’til I Die

This weekend was lovely. Just lovely. Today we walked to Target to grab some household stuff, just so we could be out and about, and yesterday we went to the park where walked on a trail and played some tennis and confronted a racist. Just another fun weekend in Georgia. Okay, listen. I know I live in the “Progressive South” which is an oxymoron of sorts, but if we are going to believe that we really do have a more progressive South, Atlanta is the place to believe that. But the truth of the matter is this is still Georgia. This is still the South, regardless of how blue our state gets and I was aptly reminded of that this weekend.

Jerimiah loves to play tennis. Jackson and I could take it or leave it, but we’ve been promising to hit the courts with him for awhile now so we did on Saturday. We have a public park in our quiet, little suburban town. It’s nestled deep in the woods, between lovely houses and adorable elementary schools. Truth be told it’s a gem of a park, with a large pond, hiking trails, a waterfall, tennis courts, soccer fields, a dog park, and several playgrounds. It’s kinda great.

So when we got to the park the tennis courts were full. We waited on the bleachers for a court to open up, as one does, common tennis etiquette and what not, and then court three opened up. We waited for about 45 minutes which isn’t too bad. There are signs that ask you limit your play to an hour if people are waiting, so it makes sense. We got to court three and started playing.

On courts one and two there were four men, all playing singles. One set of men were speaking Spanish, the other set was speaking possibly Mandarin, I can’t be sure. The point here is none of them were white. On court four were four high schoolers, three boys and a girl. Two were white, two were Black. Why does this matter, Missy? Just wait.

About half an hour into our play a white woman and an Asian woman, along with two little girls came into the courts. They had tennis bags and were dressed to the nines in tennis gear. In fact, when I first saw them I wondered if one of them was a trainer or something like that. But then I quickly learned, no. I learned this because they came into the courts, even though the courts were full and they walked directly to our bench and sat down. I didn’t say anything to them and they said noting to me, but the white woman was bent out of shape that there were no free courts and she was hellbent on finding the six more courts she thought we had. She argued with the Asian woman about this. I got a very married couple vibe from them. They were however causing a scene and the other players on the course started to look at us. I think they assumed these two women were with us, because I mean, who just comes and sits on your bench unless you know them?

Anyway, while the white woman goes in search of these mysterious other courts another family walked up to the tennis courts and sat their items down on the bleachers outside like we had. They were obviously there to wait for an open court. It’s about that time that the kids were leaving and they asked the new family, which happened to be a Black family, if they wanted their court. They said yes and they started the transition.

Now I didn’t know all of this. I was pretty into this game we were having, and frustrated with the people on our bench who were sitting very close to our shit and causing a scene and I sort of assumed the new family knew the kids, or were with them. But as the transition of the court was happening the white lady came back into the courts and saw what was happening and walked over to the kids and the Black family and started yelling. I immediately knew what was happening. We were about to see a “Karen” flip her shit.

I sort of half listened for a few minutes and gathered that the kids did not know the family, but that they assumed that “Karen” was with us. Meanwhile the Black family had already taken the court and were starting to warm up. The family was a mom and her three high school/college kids and the kids were actually fucking tennis stars or something. Like they started to hit the ball and everyone stopped and watched them. Jackson said, “I didn’t know people were that good.” Like they had to be on a college team. Anyway, this angered “Karen” and on top of the “This was our court” shit, she started throwing in some racial slurs. That’s when I had to step in.

Jackson had hit a wild ball over to their court and I ran over to grab it. They had stopped playing at this point because “Karen” was actually standing in the middle of the court, meanwhile Jerimiah was trying to get the Asian woman to get the “Karen” under control and the Asian woman was yelling her name and begging her to get back over to our bench. Natalie. That was the real name of the “Karen” I wish I’d learned her last name. The kids that were with them looked mortified and sat in silence, while “Karen” and the mom of the tennis stars started pulling their phones out and filming each other. I walked up for my ball and everyone kind of stopped. One of the kids handed me the ball and I apologized to him for what the “Karen” was saying and he smiled and said not to worry about it, happens all the time.

That angered me, so as I walked back to my court I looked at “Karen” and said, “Hey, these kids are just trying to play. Will you get off their court and maybe wait outside the fence, we will be done in a few minutes.” This comment elicited an “Ohhh” from the high school kids who had stuck around to see what was happening and “Karen” flipped out on me. She told me, “I pay fucking taxes!” To which I said, “Yeah, we all do.” Laughter from the kids. This really pissed her off and she said, “I’ve never even been here because I play at (insert some club I’m supposed to know about) and there are no rules posted here.” To which I said, “Well, it’s common courtesy to stay off a court that you’re not playing at, so maybe next time just wait outside until a court opens up.” She starts yelling, “You could have told me that,” and I walk away because there was actually no telling this woman anything.

By this time the Asian woman has gathered the kids and all their things and is leaving the court. She got the hint. She goes and gets Natalie and they leave. All play resumes. A couple minutes later I’m fuming still, the mom of the tennis stars is on her phone I think to her husband telling her about this crazy lady and I decide I need to go talk to her. So I walk over and outside the fence where she is and she hangs up and I apologize to her and she thanks me, thanks me for coming over and for saying something to her. She explains that she thought they were with us, again, because they were on our damn bench, and I assured her no, we didn’t know them, they just walked onto the courts while we were all playing. We started to talk about what the woman had said to them, when one of the tennis stars says, “Mom be careful, she’s back.” We turn around and here comes “Karen” up the damn hill again toward us. She had been leaving then saw us talking and decided to stop and say more crazy shit. At this point Jackson starts to meander over and I’m like, okay I have to diffuse, but “Karen” is already screaming up the hill, accusing us of talking about her. Which was right, cause, uhh, she cray.

Sherry, the mom of the tennis stars, is like, “Oh Lord here we go again.” At this point she walks with me into the tennis courts hoping that “Karen” will stay outside, which she does but she’s screaming about Sherry’s “Husband” and that’s when I realize that she thinks Sherry’s oldest son is her husband and Sherry is like, “That’s not my husband, you are screaming at my children. These are my children.” And this sets “Karen” off and she says to Sherry, “Oh you probably can’t even get a husband. You probably want a white one, but you can’t get one.” I’m halfway to my bench at this point because I’ve decided to call the cops, but then I stop. My mind is like a tennis match, y’all. I’m all, don’t be a “white savior” here, Sherry has this, then I’m all, no, as a white woman I need to woman up to this “Karen” and put her in her place. Then I’m like what if she is crazy. But if I call the cops they might assume the Black family is in the wrong because that’s the kind of world we live in. All this is running through my mind, so I start back toward Sherry to ask her what she wants me to do, “Karen” sees me and leaves but not before screaming, “Oh yeah, Black Lives Matter.” Which coincidently was the shirt Jackson had on that day.

Ugh.

Obviously we stayed on the court until a man and his preschool daughter walked up with tennis balls and waited at the bleachers, because there was no way I was going to leave the court open for “Karen” to play at if they came back. I would have played tennis ’til I died, y’all. ‘Til I died.

When we left Sherry and her family thanked us again, we exchanged numbers in case anything crazy happened, I apologized again and I told her to be safe. The high school kids were walking back by and they stopped and we all chatted. They said they had no idea that she was waiting for a court and they just thought they did what they were supposed to do. I told them not to worry about it, that they were fine. That they did do the right thing and then I apologized to them. I was so sad they had to see that. And then we left. I didn’t see the “Karen” so I felt okay about it, but shit y’all.

Be kind to people. It’s not that much to ask.

M.

Ditch Witch and Other Things

The neighbor Dale and her husband Old WhatsHisName had a Ditch Witch up and running at nine in the morning. On a Saturday. Listen, I like Dale and Old WhatsHisName, but mostly I just like their dog Cookie. She’s a chocolate lab and she’s beautiful and friendly and she likes to play tug in her front yard with her favorite rope toy and she reminds me of my dearly beloved, Bentley, whom we had to put down two years and some change ago on account of her arthritis and her slow doggy dementia. She was nearly 14 years old and sometimes she forgot who I was, but mostly she sat at my feet and watched squirrels out the window and listened as I read her bits of essays and stories and she always, always let me cry into her neck fat. Dale and Old WhatsHisName are sort of afterthoughts. I like their dog so I tolerate them. I listen to Dale tell me stories about how she used to live in Charlotte too and really she didn’t like it as much as I did being a make-up exec is hard work and do I ever use eyeliner, because I have beautiful blue eyes, but…

The Ditch Witch at nine am was a bridge too far. Especially because I didn’t sleep well last night on account of it being week eight of my semester and why does everyone suddenly need me to do something for them and yeah I’m aware that I need to make some important decisions about residency and candidacy and my thesis in the upcoming weeks and when is the last time I cooked dinner for my family and hey they are opening school back up and Jackson is too afraid to go and I agree especially because a custodian in the district just died from Covid, but I mean half of the teachers are vaccinated and MAP test scores don’t really matter much this week and maybe we should just keep compounding this mom guilt on top of wife guilt on top of whatever it was that made me give that cash to that woman today in the Sam’s Club parking lot.

So the Ditch Witch sprang to life at nine am and I rolled over to my husband all, what the actual hell is that and he said how should I know it sounds like some type of heavy machinery and I knew right then that Dale and Old WhatsHisName were doing some yard work because about a month ago I was violently awakened from the loud diesel noises of a wood chipper from Sunbelt Rentals.

I wish I had a point. And I was drinking a glass of wine on a beach somewhere all alone. I feel all alone all the time, but it’s not possible because I am with my family all the time and I love them dearly and also I need a fucking break and a vacation and someone to tell me that it will all be okay. I know that it’s usually me reminding you all that it will all be okay, and really I know that it will, but sometimes when you haven’t been sleeping and your medicine is making you sick but you have to keep taking it or you’ll really get sick and you have no means of escaping this life that is really actually quite beautiful and you are thankful for it so much but that sometimes sucks like it does for all of us right now in varying degrees you just have to get on your old blog and yell about Ditch Witches and neighbors who really aren’t that bad and things that are absolutely outside of your control and some in your control but you that you don’t have answers for and you have to say your dead dog’s or your dead kid’s or your dead dad’s name because it matters at that moment.

That’s all I’m saying.

Damn it, y’all. It will get better and I love you and you have pretty eyes and you don’t need eyeliner but if you want to use it then use it because you are responsible for your own happiness and one day when we can hug each other again I’m gonna hug you so tight you might have a hard time breathing but you won’t mind cause you’ll get it. I hope you get it.

M.

White Women, Again

I bought Jerimiah and Jackson matching shirts that said, “I’m Glad Reagan’s Dead” which is of course a lyric from the Killer Mike song, “Reagan.” I will include the link to the video so you can watch it if you are so inclined, it’s pretty good and incredibly informative. Anyway, they LOVED their shirts because they are big Killer Mike and Run the Jewels fans and so they wanted to pose for a picture and have me post it to Instagram so people can see their shirts, so I did. Then I went on with my life as one does. Then a couple of days later I got a Facebook message from a white woman that said, “I just don’t understand, why would you want a shirt that says, ‘I’m glad Reagan’s Dead.'” I responded, of course, very kindly. First I hoped she was having a great holiday season, I remarked about her fun pictures and hoped that she was having a nice time with her family, as one does. Then I politely explained the reasoning behind the shirt, in a condensed version of course. I told her how we have been talking about racial justice in this our country, backtracking what Jackson has learned in school as “America History” and told him some truths. It’s a tough, labor-intensive process, but incredibly necessary.

Then it occurred to me that the audacity of white women truly knows no bounds.

White women get offended by something, a t-shirt that a person 1,000 miles away from them who has no real connection to them is wearing and they demand an answer for it. It sort of boggled my mind.

I personally would never ask about something like that. I would never take the time from my day to demand an answer to something that someone is wearing (unless it was overtly racist, in which case I would publicly shame them for it even though Mama Brene Brown says shame is not an effective educational tool. I know Mama Brene, I know. I’m working on it, it’s hard to change when you grew up that way.) Maybe it’s an age thing? This woman is the mother of a childhood friend. Either way, my own mother didn’t even ask about the shirts, just accepted it as something quirky I did, I assume, and went on with her day.

It was bizarre, to say the least. But still I figured if one white woman questioned it, others probably did too but were just too afraid to ask so I made a Facebook post explaining the shirt (saying I had multiple people ask me, but really it was just the one, I just didn’t want to make her feel bad. But she should kind of feel bad, ya dig?). This is that post, condensed:

Hi Everyone! Jerimiah and I have had people question the “I’m Glad Reagan’s Dead” t-shirts I bought for Jackson and Jerimiah for Christmas.

So if you want to know why I would give my 12-year-old a shirt that says, “I’m Glad Reagan’s Dead” or you want to know why anyone would be happy to say that, then please do read on. Warning: This is tough stuff, because you might be enlightened to a world, community, and culture that is different than your own, and that makes people uncomfortable. So fair warning. 🙂

Let’s start with the song lyrics that the phrase is taken from. The song is called “Reagan” and it is by Killer Mike, a member of the two-person group “Run the Jewels” who happened to win Spin’s “Artist of the Year” for their RTJ 4 album, the one they released free to the masses on account of how horrible the year was going. They wanted to brighten some lives and they did! The song “Reagan” is not on that album, but Jackson and Jerimiah love all the albums and they love Killer Mike (I do too on account of all his grassroots, community work here in Atlanta) and so they did a deep dive on all his work this year where they came across the song, which, in short, lists the litany of Reagan atrocities toward the Black community and atrocities toward other minority communities worldwide and the backlash it had on the ones here in the US, including:

Iran/Contra Scandal (trading arms for hostages), “Oliver North introducing Cocaine on military planes”, the “War on Drugs” which we all know disproportionately affected the Black community and allowed for “policing for profits” leading to “Super Predators” which was a made up term to arrest Black men on drug charges, and allowed the courts to “give drug dealers time in double digits” which of course led to fathers, brothers, uncles, in the Black community being locked up years and years longer than the white people doing the same things, because as Killer Mike says,

“Cause slavery was abolished, unless you are in prison, you think I am bullshittin’ then read the 13th amendment.”

Blah, blah, blah, it went on. Explaining more about Killer Mike, about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and the community, asking people to vote consciously and to donate money to Black businesses, etc. It was liked by a few people, loved by some of my Black friends, and thankfully no one commented. Of course I blatantly told white people not to comment, cause I know a few other white women who would normally hop on a post like that like flies on a shit sandwich. I didn’t want to have to unfriend anyone over the post, at the same time, I kinda did want to unfriend some people over the post. You know how it is.

Anyway, I’m sharing today to remind white women to chill the fuck out and sit the fuck down. And yes, I am aware that I am a white woman. Which gives me the power to say that to y’all. Cause Black women who say it get screamed at, and called mean names, and ostracized. I don’t care, y’all can scream at me and ostracize me, Jesus I welcome it, but leave people alone.

No one owes you an explanation for a damn thing, and more importantly your opinion on the matter doesn’t in fact matter. Literally no one from the Black Lives Matter camp is looking at you to help them. I’m included in that. They don’t give a fuck about me, and I don’t need them to. I don’t need a pat on the back or a nod to know what I am doing is right. I just need to figure out how to walk this line of keeping white women in check and not overstepping any boundaries with my BIPOC friends. I’m working on it, always working on it.

But white women, for the love of all that is holy, no one is looking at you to be the moral center of our country, so stop it. That job is for Tom Hanks and Tom Hanks alone.

That is all, good day sirs!

M.

PS… “I’ll leave you with four words: I’m glad Reagan Dead.” –Michael Render, aka Killer Mike

Onward

As the year draws to a close I’ve been thinking back on how crazy it has been and wanted to share a story. On Sunday, March 8th of this year, my friend Torey messaged me to see if Jackson wanted to go to the movies to see the movie “Onward.” “Absolutely,” I told her excitedly. Jackson and I had just been talking about that movie that day, discussing when we would go see it. “Next weekend?” I asked Torey. She responded quickly. “I think we should go tomorrow after school.” I sat looking at my phone for a minute. We have rarely, if ever, gone to the movies after school. In the summertime we might go to the movies in the afternoon, but generally speaking we go to the movies on Friday or Saturday nights along with all the rest of the crazy world. “Sure,” I said. After all, it is cheaper than the weekends and with the three kids, Jackson and Torey’s two, Megha and Taran, there would be less people to worry about. I told Jackson we were headed to the movies after school the next day with his friends and that was that.

When we met Torey and Megha and Taran at the local theater, the Movie Tavern with the brand-new plush seats that recline all the way back and have tables attached so you can order giant meals (and wine) and have it brought to you, Torey was so happy to see us. The first thing she did was thank us for coming on such short nice. “Of course,” I said, “it’s a good idea.”

“I thought so too,” Torey said, “I was talking to my family in Hong Kong over the weekend and they were telling me about Covid-19 and I figure this is our last weekend of freedom.” She said this with a small laugh and a wave of her hand at the concession stand, as the kids mindlessly scanned the glass to pick out their favorite candy.

I smiled, but inside I was very confused. I had not been paying much attention to the news. I was trying to stay away from social media too. The only thing I had heard up to that point about Covid-19 was what Jackson and Megha had told us at dinner a week or two before. Torey and I had taken the kids out for dinner at their choice of restaurants back in late February. They chose IHOP, because of course they did. So there we were, the five of us, Torey’s husband Vishnu was at work still and Jerimiah was on a plane back from Baton Rouge, and we were one of two tables at our local IHOP. Megha and Jackson started telling us all about Coronavirus and how it works and what they knew about Covid-19.

Their fifth grade teacher Mr. Budd had enlightened them all. Jackson said Mrs. Budd worked for the CDC and that Mr. Budd was a little concerned about the Covid-19 virus and wanted the kids to know the facts. Jackson and Megha then enlightened us with those facts. Torey was nodding along as they talked, our waitress Maria and I listened intently, eyes wide.

“It’s a particular strain of Coronavirus,” Megha started.

“It came about in 2019, that’s why it has the 19 after it,” Jackson interjected.

“Yeah,” Megha said, “And it transmits from person to person like other viruses.”

“Like the flu,” Jackson added.

“Yes,” Megha said, nodding her head at Jackson.

“Oh, and it’s already here in the US and the CDC thinks it is about to get very bad here,” Jackson was on a roll now. “We have to wash our hands for 20 seconds and cover our mouths when we talk.”

“And tell them about the social distancing, Jackson,” Megha said.

“Oh yeah,” Jackson started. “We should start social distancing, staying at least six feet from people when we are out in a crowded place.”

This was the first time I heard the term social distancing, from a pair of fifth graders at an IHOP table. Torey looked at me and smiled that smile that said, “We do have the smartest kids ever,” and of course she was right. Maria walked away smiling and thanking them for the information, and I sat a little nervously at the other side of the table while the conversation turned to some Korean pop band I also did not know anything about.

The next afternoon at the school pick-up picnic tables I sat around and listened as other parents discussed the coronavirus. Mainly they were saying that it was just a bad flu and it was nothing to worry about. In hind sight, that is what they were being fed from the top down. That is what we were all being fed. Our President was down-playing it. The media was too focused on other things. And really, really what was happening was that people were not okay with the thought that life as we know it might end, even temporarily. People were scared and they didn’t know what to do or say so they said, “It’s no big deal” and “I’m not worried.”

Meanwhile Torey, whose family and friends back in both Hong Kong and China were telling her to prepare for the worst, and she was listening. She was listening to her family, to the science, and to the rest of the world. And she was preparing. That’s why on that dreary Monday after the movie was over (and we were all crying, it’s a great movie!) she gave me the biggest hug and whispered that she didn’t know when she would get to see me again. I smiled a nervous smile, but I wanted to say, “Oh stop, I’ll see you next week,” since we had plans to do something fun with the kids the following week, after Jerimiah and Jackson and I got back from our short trip to Kansas City. But I didn’t say anything. There was something so ominous about Torey’s face, so sincere, so truthful. It was the first time I knew for sure that life was going to change and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.

The rest of the week was sort of a blur. Torey had started to send me news articles from the BBC and other international places that were actually being truthful about Covid-19. Jackson was coming home with new bits of information each day from Mr. Budd who was getting the info from Mrs. Budd. It was sounding bad. Really bad. But still we pressed on. By that Thursday after school most of the mom’s were in complete denial, while the kids, after dismissal, ran around playing, “Covid is Coming for You” which was just a game of tag wherein the person who was “It” was actually a deadly virus. Hmpf.

Finally, on Friday, March 13th, we got the messages. First, there was the text from Honor Band. “Honor Band is cancelled for the rest of the school year.” Then came the baseball team, “No more baseball practice, will most likely resume later in the spring.” Then, as Jerimiah and I debated calling Delta to cancel our flights, the big one came from DeKalb Schools, “School is closed out of an abundance of precaution.” And that was that.

I messaged Torey.

“Oh my goodness, I’m sorry I didn’t believe you when you said we may not see each other for a while.”

“It’s okay,” my friend said, “It’s tough news.”

All I could think was, this can’t be. This just can’t be. Then Torey said,

“At least we got to see Onward!”

I smiled. I had no idea what was next, but at least we had “Onward.”

M.

Christmas Lights! Winter Solstice! Oh My!

We did one of those drive-thru light displays the other night and it was better and also worse that I thought it would be. A few years back we went to the light display at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and that was cool. Cool in the sense that it was huge and you got to drive onto the speedway which Jackson really liked. Although we are not NASCAR fans, we were car fans and he thought it was pretty cool. This year we went to the display at Six Flag’s White Water in Marietta. It’s a city just up the Perimeter about twenty minutes from us. Six Flag’s commissioned a company called “World of Illumination” to set up a display in their parking lot. They charge people $50 a car and all in all it goes pretty smoothly.

It was my mom’s second time at a drive-thru lights display. We took her to one way back in the day in Branson, Missouri. A place called Shepherd of the Hills does a little one every year and she enjoyed that one so we thought we’d take her to a larger one. As far as drive-thru light displays go, they are better when they have a theme and this one had a theme: Candy Rush. So all the lights were different kinds of sweets. Enough to give you a heart attack! But like others the lights flashed and swirled to the beat of the music, which was tuned in on 87.9 FM. My mom thought that was pretty cool too.

Unlike Charlotte, the whole thing takes place in a parking lot, so it’s easy to get caught up in other cars and people and while it is amazing to see all those lights, it was a bit chaotic. Again, compared to Charlotte who utilized the whole racetrack. It was much more spread out and darker, so it was better, in my opinion. As if you even asked.

My mom and Jackson really liked it though and I took some videos for her of the lights and you can hear her in the back of the car commenting on them. She did enjoy herself, even though it was 9:30 pm when we were heading home. And of course Jackson watched from the moonroof the whole time, which he always enjoys.

When we got home we decided to take a gander at the stars considering it was Winter Solstice (and our wedding anniversary!) and Jupiter and Saturn were having their love thing. It was a nice clear night and we were able to see so much. It was truly breathtaking and a great ending to a great evening.

Hope you all got to see some beautiful lights this year from the safety of your car. If not, there’s still time!

M.

Christmas 1980-something

Evidently I was a spoiled kid. As spoiled as the youngest child of four can get. As spoiled as a child of a single mom who worked cleaning hotel rooms can be. I was that sort of spoiled. Spoiled in the sense that while my Christmas list was usually very specific and exhaustive, every year I got at least one item on it because my mother made sure I had something to look forward to, something to believe in when sometimes our life wasn’t a life that offered hope or belief in things getting better. I remember many of those one-off gifts. Those miraculous ones that showed up, I thought, from Santa in the true spirit of the holiday. One year I got a Popples, which were all the rage in the 1980s. One year a Strawberry Shortcake doll. One year a Barbie (a real Barbie not one of the knock-off dolls) so cool, so rad, that she had her own leg warmers and boom box.

In the second grade I wanted only one thing: A Baby Shivers Doll. Do you remember those bad-bitches? They were dolls that actually, for real, shivered as if they were cold. It was the same year that the Baby Alive Dolls first came out and I had a ton of friends asking for them, but I didn’t want to press my luck, so instead I asked for the older doll that only shivered. Besides, I wasn’t so sure about a doll that wet herself. I mean, was I ready for some real shit like that? I figured I’d let my best friend Rachel get that for Christmas and I’d play with it when I wanted, but didn’t have to take the responsibility for changing the diapers and what not. This is some real shit, it’s not made up, check it out:

Listen to me when I say this, these were some badass babes, though to be fair it set me up for failure when I had an actual baby and asked too many times what to do if he started to shiver. Turns out babies shivering aren’t like a real big problem. Who knew?!

Anyway, I remember writing Santa to ask for a Baby Shivers of my own. I may have even named dropped Rachel or her grandma, who was bound to buy her any type of doll she wanted. And on Christmas morning when I woke up and ran into the living room I was 100% expecting a Baby Shivers from Santa and for the first time ever I was disappointed. There was no Baby Shivers under the tree. Just some other random toys I don’t remember and some fruit and candy. I was upset, but tried not to let my disappointment show. That is certainly not something you did in my house. You sucked it up. Plus, I figured Santa had a legit reason not to bring me that hypothermic baby. Maybe all the electronics in her back forced her to short circuit and catch little girls’ hair on fire? I could only hope that was the reason because I was Peppermint Petty even at a young age.

So there I was playing with my toys I didn’t much care for after the wrapping paper tornado when my mom said, “Ope Missy, I found one more gift.” Yeah, she pulled the old “A Christmas Story” deal on me and handed me a wrapped box. I could tell right away she had wrapped it because she is not a good wrapper. The edges were a little frayed and the tape didn’t hit all the spots right, and there was a different type of wrapping on the edges. “Who’s it from,” I asked, hoping beyond hope it was from Santa.

“It’s from me,” my mom said. I smiled, but knew I was screwed. I slowly started to unwrap the paper, then my fingers went quicker and quicker until finally I had paper all over myself and was looking at the Baby Shivers box. I was stunned into inaction. My mom was beaming and I could not find words so I just ran over and hugged her. I couldn’t believe my luck and my mom’s obvious good fortune.

I still don’t know how my mom go the doll, or why she chose that year to get the credit for that toy, but it didn’t much matter. I just figured her and Santa hashed it all out and came to this conclusion and in the years to come I was always able to suspend my disbelief like that, around Christmas, but also at other times of the year too. Let’s call it self-preservation. Poor kids know what I mean.

Over the next year I walked around coddling my Baby Shivers, who I probably named but couldn’t tell you at all what it was. She was probably a girl and she probably had “eyes like her Mommy.” Rachel did get a Baby Alive that year and as I suspected that doll was a headache. You had to feed her to get her to poop and she ate this gross pasty stuff and you always had to buy more things for her to keep her in tiptop shape and I’m pretty sure it was short-lived. So was Baby Shivers, but for a little while I had the doll I had waited my whole life for and my mom had her shining moment.

I hope you all have a shining moment this holiday, and get something you’ve been asking for too.

M.