Reading… A Room

I’ve always been skittish around people who can’t read a room, but I could never explain why until today. Jerimiah sent me a couple of podcasts he’s been listening to and one of the podcasts was about how we are always trying to understand the intentions of other people. It’s from the “Hidden Brain” podcast, have y’all heard this? You should check it out, it’s a pretty interesting podcast. In this particular podcast the host, Shankar Vedantam explores “Theory of Mind,” which is what psychologists call the way we are consistently trying to read the intentions, desires, and motivations of other people during social situations. We do this subconsciously. But also, not all of us are able to do it as well as others.

It all made sense to me, because I had already realized this about myself. I am quite aware that I constantly try to understand others in social situations, it’s what makes me so empathetic. Too empathetic. Like, I’m not being a braggart here. I wish I wasn’t so fucking empathetic. I think my life would be a lot easier if I were less so, but empathy is exactly the key to all of this.

On the podcast the psychologist said that people who “can’t read a room,” also lack empathy. You know those people, we all do. They tell jokes that repeatedly fall flat because they aren’t reading the room. They have no concept of what people around them are doing or saying because they are so focused on their own thoughts that they seemingly randomly blurt something out and everyone is like, “What the hell, Steve? What does that have to do with anything?” And then Steve just assumed we are going to move the conversation or activity or whatever to whatever it was that he brought up. In that case Steve (aside from being a bit of a narcissist) lacks this “theory of mind” ability, and therefore also lacks empathy.

This made a lightbulb go off in my brain! I know people who lack empathy and these people absolutely cannot read a room to save their lives. It’s exhausting to deal with them in social situations because I am constantly trying to find out what their intentions, desires, and motivations are, meanwhile they don’t give a shit about mine and most of the time are so damned aloof that it is distracting. This is why I have always been skittish around them. Because it’s mentally and emotionally taxing on me, when I’m already pretty much always mentally and emotionally taxed. I have had to actually separate myself from these people, like walk away from the situation, put space in friendships. And now I’m learning that it’s not really through any fault of their own, they actually lack an important part of social functioning hardwired into our brains. You see it a lot in children with autism, for example, who generally lack the same ability.

Whew. I feel a little relieved actually. I always thought I was just being super-sensitive toward those people, or that they were just assholes (again, and I can’t stress this enough, some of them are just assholes) but others really have no idea that they lack this ability and go on about life like this and it makes me feel kind of bad for them. Like, they must get weird looks from people all the time and I’m sure that others do not understand this about them and don’t really know how to treat them or handle them.

And listen, I’m not saying we need to treat them any differently, I don’t even think I can because of how hard it all is, but at least we know now that some people, through no fault of their own, can’t read a room to save their life and maybe we just try to be more patient?

Or maybe not.

M.

Click for the link! And trust, there is more to the podcast than my aha-moment, but it was mine, damn it, Steve! Get your own!

A Gift for You

You know how I’ll say those things to your family and friends that you want to, but feel like you can’t because they will freak out on you? Well, this one is for you! Share if you need to, after all you didn’t say it, I did!

I love you.

M.


••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Friends, this holiday season remember that if you are openly against the COVID vaccine or masking, that feeling you’re feeling, the one that feels oppressive, it’s criticism. That’s all it is, old-fashioned criticism. You’re not being “victimized,” you’re being criticized.

Criticism sucks, but you’ll get used to it.

If you are being ostracized or you are at risk of losing your job or unable to attend various engagements because of your vaccination status or for refusing to wear a mask, that’s on you. It’s a choice you’re making, and you will be criticized for it. But again, you’re not being “victimized,” you’re being criticized.

This is how public health has always and will always work. Your “personal freedoms” are not “on the line,” you very much have a choice, but your choice is unpopular and frankly, unhealthy for you and those around you, so you’re being criticized and that criticism is making you act nuts. Some of y’all are walking around singing Kid Rock lyrics all of a sudden. SMH.

The good news is, it happens to the best of us! You’ll be fine. Take some deep breaths. Embrace those feelings, grow and change. Call your therapist. Get a therapist! Adapt and overcome.

Or start a group chat with other anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers and cry together there, cause frankly we are all tired of hearing about it.

Be Brave!

Well I did it, I wrote my first book review and it wasn’t too bad! I mean it was horrible on account of how stressed I was about getting it right, about doing good for the book (which I LOVED) and all the things, but you know, it was good in the end. While I was writing the review last month Jackson asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was writing a book review. When he looked confused at me I explained that my professor knew someone who needed a book review and the book was about The Ozarks, where we lived for ten years, where Jackson was born actually, and she thought of me. That I had been nervous but that in the end my professor told me to, “Be brave!” and I took her advice. And now here I was stressing about this review, even though the book was great, full of history and funny anecdotes and deep, deep research on the place we loved/hated to live. He looked at me, shrugged and said, “Oh so you wrote a book report. It’s no big deal, Mommy. You’ll get an A.”

🙂

I hope I got an A.

You can read the review at the University of Mississippi Press’ book page (published with the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger) and you can buy the book here if you want to go on a wild ride.

Remember to support local, indie publishers and booksellers. And remember to Be BRAVE!

M.

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.

Labor Shortage?

I know, I know, I’ve been away. I wrote on my blog every, single day last year and this year it’s been sporadic at best. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today, in fact, I’ll talk about that tomorrow, is that okay? Catch you all up with my life? It’s been pretty nuts! Thanks for understanding. Today I’m here to talk about the supposed labor shortage, though to be honest everyone I know who was unemployed last year now has a job, and the thing I find slightly odd is that many of them applied to several (like more than twenty jobs depending on how long they were out of work) and didn’t even hear back from some of them, some of the places that proudly had “Now Hiring” signs or “Thank the ones who showed up” signs in their windows, so what gives?

I happened upon a documentary the other day from 2009. It was following people who were on unemployment during The Great Recession back in 2008 and it caught up with a group of people in Long Island, NY who were part of the 99ers. The 99ers are people who were still on unemployment at their 99th week of unemployment which is the last week you can legally get unemployment benefits. These people had applied for literally thousands of jobs over those 99 weeks, you have to when you’re on unemployment because you have to log it with unemployment, but aside from that these were people who had worked all their lives in good, high-paying jobs on Wall St. for instance and when the recession hit they were booted out.

The jobs they were applying for though, were far from where they had worked. They were applying to work the register at Home Depot, to drive a truck for FedEx, to work the make-up counter at Macy’s. Essentially they were looking to take any job at that point, but no one was calling them back. Meanwhile, the media was screaming, “Lazy people need to get a job! Get two jobs if you have to!” These people, these people who had previously made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year were trying to get a job at Target, they would get two jobs if it meant not having to sell their homes or foreclose, but they were being told they were “overqualified.”

This is a real thing that I went through as well. Jerimiah lost his job in that same recession and I had just quit mine to stay at home full time with our kid. Then boom, he lost his and we found ourselves trying to live off the $325 a week from unemployment. Meanwhile he was applying for at least 40 jobs a week, and I started applying too thinking maybe I could snag a lower-paying job since I didn’t yet have a college degree and he did. I was actually turned down at Target to work the cash register because I was “overqualified.” Do you know what that meant in my case? It meant that when they asked what I made in my last job and I put $14 an hour they decided that was too much to pay, so they didn’t even attempt to interview me. Why would they when someone was willing to take the job at $8 an hour? I would have taken that job at $8 an hour too, but I was never even given the opportunity.

Why I am telling you all this? Because I think the same thing is happening now. I think the suppose “labor shortage” isn’t one at all. It’s people who are writing that they want to make $15 an hour on their application are getting overlooked in lieu of people who will make less but it’s taking the companies longer to find people who will work for that low of a wage so here we are. Some people actually believe that these same companies are full up on employees but are looking for ones they can pay lower, or just like to have the “Now hiring” signs up for what? Fun? Belonging? To maintain this idea of a labor shortage? That feels too cynical to me, but not way off base. I’m just saying that it’s the businesses greedy practices that are certainly driving the “labor shortage” not an actual “labor shortage” and it’s probably high time we call it what it really is.

Eventually Jerimiah found work in 2009. He went from being a recent-college grad making $50,000 a year to making $12 an hour, but hey, it was something and he took it. I never got an interview, not one interview from the 40 or so jobs I applied for. I even called my old job back and asked to just come and serve, wait tables, and they told me they already had too many people vying for shifts.

Last week we were traveling to New York and we stayed over at a hotel in Fort Lee, Virginia. The next morning while we were loading the car DuPont, the company that makes pretty toxic chemicals, was having a job fair at our hotel. When we walked outside the job fair line was wrapped around the building at 8:00 am. There were men and women, young and old, some were in three-piece suits, some were in jeans and hoodies. The wages they were advertising were anywhere from $16 to $21 dollars for entry-level jobs and people were there. There was no labor shortage. They would have more than enough people to choose from for their new crews. But all I see when I turn the television on is people screaming, “Get a job! Get two jobs if you need to!”

How are you supposed to get two jobs if you can’t even get one?

As an aside I’ve talked recently to people who believe that a $15/hour federal wage mandate is too much, and all I can think about is how that line at the hotel was wrapped around the corner. How people trying to figure out how to feed their kids in Fort Lee, Virginia were practicing their elevator pitches for a $16/hour job working with toxic chemicals. How if we don’t mandate it federally, states like Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri will give advantage to the companies, not the people, and we will will never climb out of this generational poverty.

Of course these people aren’t from generational poverty, so how would they know. We have to start thinking outside of ourselves or we won’t ever get better.

I don’t have all the answers, and I’m sure I’m seeing this from only one side. But if I’m gonna be on one side, I want to be on the side of the unemployed. That makes me sleep better at night.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Silver Linings

I have this problem where I can’t move past something until I write about it. It’s a bad problem to have, especially when you are in a writing “funk.” A “funk,” yeah let’s call it that. As in I haven’t written anything substantial since early-May and even then it was just an assignment for class. it ended up having a tiny shred of something that could be more, but still, when you’re in any kind of funk, writing or otherwise, it’s hard to see the silver lining. So here I am, back at the old blog which I have apparently dismissed after my year of writing everyday. I think maybe it became more like a job last year and that made me hate it. I’m rambling now.

I’ve had kind of a shitty summer. There have been silver linings.

I got to go to residency in person. I got to meet my awesome friends whom I only knew digitally before. There’s something pretty magical about sitting in a room with people who think and write and drink like you.

Then there was my two-week trip to Kansas to see my family and best friend. It didn’t start out as a two-week trip, but that’s what it ended up being when I felt the need to stay. That was a first. The first time I ever felt called to Kansas to recharge. I suspect it was the stress from my residency showing itself.

In July we went to Florida for a week with friends to celebrate Jerimiah’s 40th birthday. I planned this all, to be sure, and because of it was under immense pressure for the first several days to make sure everyone had a good time, even though I explicitly told them to make their own good times. In the end I said fuck it, these people are adults and can do it on their own, which means I actually did enjoy myself quite a bit. Doing what I pleased, when I pleased. Jerimiah had a good time too, especially on the actual party day when we drank fun drinks, played outdoor party games, and ate lots of food!

I was published in Litro in June.

I was offered a chance to write my first book review this month.

I got to watch my son enter his middle school building for the first time, all masked up, and excited.

I got to celebrate the man I love turning 40 years old.

I got to see friends I haven’t seen in over a year (some much longer!)

Jackson and I got to spend some time traveling together. We even did some of Route 66!

I got to help my mom with all the things in her house she has been wanting to accomplish.

Those, I think, were the silver linings. There were other things to be sure. There was the overcommitting I did to start the school year off. “Sure, yes!” I said so many times. It felt good to be back at it, you know? To have some sense of normalcy. You want me to be on the executive board of not one, but two middle school organizations?! ME? Sure! It has all caught up now and I’m feeling overwhelmed.

There was the car accident. Look it wasn’t anyone’s fault, not really, it was a total accident. Everyone was safe, meaning they all walked away. Though there is some trauma for sure. My car was totaled, but I didn’t really like that car so much anyway. The most important thing was everyone was safe and there were lots of lessons learned. I for example, know that when in an emergency situation I am a “flight” kinda person, while my best friend and husband are both “fight.” Which is probably why they are my best friend and husband.

Then there was that thing that is nagging me. That thing I have to spill out of me or I won’t feel right. The disappointment I feel from a summer of seeing people for who they really are after a year and half of imagining who they are. Who they were. It’s startling. It’s hard. Geez it’s been a tough year and a half. And it doesn’t seem like it will get any better. Because of that I have told myself repeatedly that I need to show grace, just as much as I need to ask of it from people. But repeatedly this summer I have been disappointed by the actions of others. I have come to see flaws in people that I never noticed before. Jerimiah and I are at a loss. I’m sure people are thinking the same thing about us. What has happened to us over the last year and a half? As Americans? As people?

Personally we realize that the two of us have done a substantial amount of growing into who we are. Who we are meant to be. We have become more eager to do what makes us happy. To be around people who make us happy. To not waste more time than we need with with people and situations we do not like, that make us feel uncomfortable. If I have to spend one more second with a straight, white, male that turns everything into a competition, y’all, I can’t. I won’t with toxic masculinity anymore.

And just like that people that you like, that you love. Family members. Close friends. They start to slip. And maybe, probably, it was our fault. Probably we put them on a pedestal. We thought wow, they are great people. But the truth has surfaced for me this summer and I no longer feel like some of the things we thought were great about people, are in fact that great. It’s a shitty realization to have, but it’s the truth. So now what? Gotta look for those silver linings I suppose. Always keep looking for those silver linings.

I’ll leave you with a few of my silver linings now.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

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.

Damn, Y’all

Damn we can’t catch a break this week, y’all. First it was the crazy white man who murdered Asian women because he “had a bad day,” then today I woke up to storms knocking the trees outside, and an Amber Alert wherein an Uber Eats delivery driver was working at 2 am, had her baby with her asleep in her carseat in the back, and her car was stolen while she ran the food up to the door. The baby was nowhere to be found for 10 damn hours which is 10 hours longer than a baby should be, lost, away from her mother. A mother who is literally trying to make ends meet by delivering food in the middle of a stormy night. And the kicker, the kid that stole her car was a baby himself. A 14-year-old! A. Fourteen. Year. Old.

Sigh.

It’s tough this week. It’s tough for a lot of reasons, but these two in particular.

The baby is okay, y’all. She’s safe. She was found 10 hours later on a woman’s front porch. The woman didn’t know. She heard a knock on her door and answered it and there was a passerby standing there to tell her that they saw a car stop, drop the baby in her yard, and drive away. She recognized the baby from Amber Alert, thank goodness, and she was taken to the hospital and reunited with her mom.

I imagine the 14-year-old’s own mom had a hand in this. I’m sure the 14-year-old had no idea there was a sleeping baby in the back of an Uber Eats car, and probably freaked out. Rightfully so. I hope he learned a lesson here. And I hope other kids thinking about trying to make a quick buck or go for a joyride will think twice now. All we can do is hope.

I woke up today with a little hope, but it was quickly sucked out of me after reading the news and it’s been hard to get back.

We went to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and got vaccinated today. That was good. That gave me hope for about an hour. But the whole time Jackson and I were grabbing our phone for news alerts. He got the Amber Alert too, and for awhile this morning he sat silent after asking me who would take a baby. When we found out it was a kid he could be in school with we were even more shocked. The whole day was just, bleh. Just bleh.

Jackson ran upstairs tonight to tell me they found the baby and we were incredibly relieved and we hugged each other. Damn it, y’all. Just damn it.

The murder of the Asian women isn’t so easily resolved. Today we found out that the Sheriff who spoke at the news conference yesterday. The one who blamed the white, male terrorist’s actions on “a bad day” peddled racist shirts earlier this year. It’s all around us. Especially here in the South. There are honestly people saying that racism had nothing to do with it. Honey, learn how racism works. How it infects. How it spreads. Then get back to me. The very fact that this maniac fetishized these women, assumed they were sex workers, the very basics of this whole thing, rests on racism.

Ahhhhhh!

Okay, well I’m a sad sack tonight, obviously. My heart hurts for so many people. People I know, people I don’t know. People in my community and not in my community.

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

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.

Going Higher

“When they go low, we go high.” Damn you, Michelle Obama! Yeah, I know, I know, take the high road. But taking the high road is sometimes hard. I do know that it’s better to ignore the people and things that want to bring you down. I know that it’s best to “walk away from trouble,” as Kenny Rogers says, when you can. But come on every time?! Can’t I get into a little trouble?

In all seriousness I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve been struggling to turn my brain off and to keep my mouth shut. I’ve been lying awake at night thinking about all the things I’d like to say to some people. Mean, rude, hypocritical people. Sometimes it’s Texas senator Ted Cruz, sometimes it’s the bully from 6th grade..

When I can’t sleep I just rehearse over and over again in my head. I find their email address or their home address. I write an imaginary letter to them in my brain. A letter I convince myself I’ll actually send. A letter telling them exactly what kind of person they seem like. How they’ve hurt me. How far I’ve come regardless. In spite of. Maybe I’ll make a personal dig at them just for fun. But then at some point I’ll hear Michelle Obama’s voice. She says, “Missy,” she calls me Missy. “Missy,” she says, “when they go low, we go high.”

Damn you, Michelle.

I’ve written, deleted, and written this paragraph about three times. Each time I started to explain a situation, a particular person who is making me upset now, go into detail about what I want to say to them, but I keep deleting it because Michelle Obama says I should. So I do. It’s healthier. It’s better. It used to be that I took great pride in my ability to use my words to make people feel incredibly small, when it required it. But now I’d rather use my words to elicit change, to bring people together, to remind people that we should want the best for each other, even those who may not like us.

We do have to keep doing this, y’all, going higher. I know it doesn’t always feel right, but it’s important. If we stop going higher, who will? If we stop being the bigger person, the kinder person, it won’t suddenly make them better people. It will just make us like them. We will be the people we don’t like and it will make us feel crappy. It hurts our heart and it’s counterintuitive to forgiveness. So we press on, going higher and higher, keeping our mouths closed but our hearts open.

M.

Post About Sam’s Club Toilet Paper, for Real, That’s What the Whole Post is About

Welcome class, I do believe I have lectured on the wonders of Sam’s Club toilet paper previously, but I’m glad you’ve come back for another discussion today. First, let me say that if I could give Sam’s Club toilet paper to all of you I would. Like if I won the lottery, which would be hard to do considering I don’t play the lotto, but if I did the first thing I would do is give the world Sam’s Club toilet paper. Then, I would buy 20 acres, a pack of llamas, and donate the rest to charity. Now, before I get into the wonders of Sam’s Club toilet paper (from here on out referred to as: SCTP) let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that we all know Wal-mart is a horrific company that underpays their employees, cuts corners, forces manufacturers into cut-throat deals in the name of low prices, and takes out small businesses whenever they come to town. But the truth of the matter is there is nothing I can do about that, ergo every year I pay to have a Sam’s Club membership (actually we started piggybacking on my MIL’s membership this year because why not? Fuck Wal-mart!) just so I can enjoy the SCTP that I have come to know and love. That is to say I am stuck now. Addicted. I can get TP from no where else.

Let’s talk about that other TP. Most of the other TP is what Jerimiah refers to as “John Wayne TP” because it’s “rough and tough and don’t take no shit off anybody.” Ain’t that the truth. Here I’m talking about your run-of-the-mill store brand TPs, your Walgreens brand, your Up and Up from Target (I’m sorely disappointed in your Target), your Kroger brand, and what not. Now Member’s Mark is a store brand. That’s the brand that SCTP is. It is Member’s Mark, but it is quite obvious that Sam’s Club is not the manufacturer. I had a teacher in elementary school whose husband worked for Always Save, which is an off-brand food brand that they sell in those bright yellow boxes. You know the kind I mean, if you were ever at my house in the 90s you saw them in the pantry

Anyway, she told us once that Always Save gets their food and products from the name brand places, but because they don’t have to pay for branding and advertising and all that they can give deep discounts. It’s the same elbow macaroni, for instance, that the name brands sell, it’s just in a different package. She said they would literally get shipments of bags of pasta sauce, green beans, etc from the same places that Del Monte, for instance, is getting them, but instead they just go into the yellow label brands. Now this was back in the 90s, things may have changed since then, and there are definitely differences in the taste of some products (that why I can’t shop at Aldi, I can taste the differences) but this got me thinking about TP. And how there can’t be THAT many TP brands out there, instead Member’s Mark probably pays a brand to make their own label. So you know me, I Googled it.

But… all I could find was information that suggested Member’s Mark TP was made by Sam’s Club in the USA. So maybe it is in fact it’s own brand. I mean I am okay with that, I was just hoping for some secret. I did however, come across the Consumer Report article that exploits the scamming of the toilet paper industry and how they have been shrinking their rolls and upping their prices for years (Hint: They are particularly mad at the brand known as “Angel Soft” for it’s dishonesty and trickery, especially because it is sold mainly at places like Walmart and Dollar General, which means it serves low-economic communities and they are taking advantage of those people.) Nevertheless, here are some other brands to be weary of:

Now Kirkland brand is the Costco equivalent to SCTP and although I’ve never tried it, I’d be willing to. But I can’t bring myself to get a Costco membership for a myriad of reasons.

Now I know what you are thinking: Well this is just like, your opinion man. I get it. But there is actually a whole thread on Reddit about how SCTP is the best, and if you are so inclined to do your own TP test, you can can buy SCTP at Walmart.com. Just click on the image below. It says “out of stock” now, which they have had trouble keeping it in stock during the pandemic, but it will be back shortly I just know it! If you want to read up on other toilet papers and compare them this is a fun little article, and not just because they editor’s pick for best TP was Member’s Mark. That is just a coincidence.

But what makes Member’s Mark so good, Missy? Great question! It is soft like Quilted Northern, strong like Charmin, and a fraction of the price of the other two. In fact, aside from the problem of lint coming off (which is a problem they know about and are working on, but all the softest brands have that problem) it is the best toilet paper I have every had in my life, and yes I have tried many other brands, plus it comes in a minimum, MINIMUM of 45 rolls at a time, which is fantastic (if you have the room to store that much tp) because you don’t have to buy TP all the damn time! Bonus! And did I mention the price. On average, you can buy this 45-roll pack for about $20! TWENTY MFING DOLLARS!

So there you have it, a whole blog post about Sam’s Club Toilet Paper. I told you that’s what it was about.

M.

The Right Words

I’ve been trying to find words. That’s actually something I do a lot. The Oxford Pocket Dictionary sits on my desk, in part, because I am always looking for words. The right words. The good words. That is to say I’m trying to discover what I think, how I feel, and put that into words. But this week has been hard. It’s hard for me to smile this week. It’s hard to be positive. It’s hard to feel happy, for the “right” words to come when all I can really think are sad words. I want to write words that are jovial. Carefree. Radiant. But what is finding me is Maudlin. Saccharine. Indignant. Here are some words that are finding me:

I told you so.

Liars.

Now you know how school kids feel.

Terrorists.

If you support this…

Pissed.

And while these might not be a helpful response to the situation, while people are calling for unity, these words and phrases are my truth. They are what I am feeling. I am battling within myself now. Do I let this go, do I let people say and do what they want, even if what they say and do is hurting others? I think we all know the answer to that, but then why do I feel so bad?

“I told you so.” That’s what I want to say to my friends, many of them “previous friends” who voted for Trump in 2016 and who still, up until this week fully supported him even though their own doubts were creeping into their throats. I told you so. But I’ve heard that “I told you so” never helps. It’s an unhelpful phrase. So what do I say?

“Liars” that is what I see when I watch and listen to Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham and Mike Pence. They never apologized for their support of a crazy person. A crazy person who 80 million of us knew was capable of what we saw this week. They knew it too. They also know they had a hand in it and they are liars. But I have family and friends, real people I love and respect coming out to say that they are proud of these men. I am not. It was too little too late. What do I say?

“Now you know how school kids feel,” should not come as a surprise that this was my first thought. Early on when the siege was happening there was video of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington State. She was on her hands and knees in the gallery of Congress, a police woman next to her yelling to “Get down,” and I saw the fear on her face and I thought this is exactly what our school children face in our country on a regular basis. This is exactly what many of us have been saying for far too long about guns, about security measures, about the results of a generation of children who can’t go to school without looking, knowing, being trained, to find the escape route.

“Terrorists.” These people are terrorists. We need to stop calling them protesters. Protesting is what we saw this summer when people were protesting for equal justice under law and for civil rights. The people who stormed the Capital were terrorists. They were there to overthrow our government. To bend the will of the people to their decision. We can’t say apples to apples when it is in fact apples to white supremacy.

“If you support this then you are (insert any number of things).” This one I’m torn up about. I wrote on social media if you support this unfriend me right now. And I meant it. Still mean it. I can’t be friends, not even fake, social media friends with you if you can in any way shape or form understand or empathize with the people who broke out windows, who desecrated our Capital, or who took down an American flag to replace it with a Trump one. I can’t make that make sense and I can’t sit with that and I don’t want to be associated with you. But in this moment we are called to unify. My desire to bring peace and civility is inching up in my throat and I am conflicted. Still, as of right now, if you support those people you and I are fundamentally different and I can’t be around you. And I do believe you should be called out for your way of thinking. You need help. But still, as I write this I am thinking of ways I can help you. But I’m mad, so I will need time.

“Pissed.” I’m pissed, y’all. I woke up on Wednesday so happy with my state. So proud to call myself a Georgia Democrat. A DeKalb County Democrat no less. We made history. We swung a whole state. We changed the course of our nation and for that I am humbled and grateful. But now I am pissed. I’m really pissed and I don’t want to be. I hate this feeling, this anger rising up. Of course this is how I felt in 2016 too, so while I am pissed today I know I will not always be. And when that anger subsides I know I will be left with a desire to make changes. And I know that means I will. We will. As a collective.

But for today, I am pissed. And I think it is a rightful feeling and emotion. And I won’t be made to feel shameful about it by people who are saying, “We need to come together now.” They are right, these people. “We” as in the decent people in our country, need to come together. But “we” as in the racists, the homophobes, the “Stop the Steal” people, the terrorists, no. There is no coming together with them. We have given them too many tries to get it together and this was their last one.

I remember a time when I could say, “I don’t care who you voted for, I still like you.” That isn’t the case anymore. If today, you would still walk to the polls and cast your vote for Donald Trump, then I don’t want you around me or my family. You’re toxic and sorely misguided. You’re a racist. You are willing to put your beliefs above the collective country we ALL belong in. And I won’t stand for it anymore.

I’m pissed. I want to say I told you so. Explain that those people are terrorists, white supremacists, that this is EXACTLY who we are as Americans, regardless of how many times Papa Joe says we aren’t. This is us. We need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and make a change, or this will continue to be us.

Hmm. I guess I did find the words.

Be safe, friends.

M.

Georgia Election

There I was, promising my family I would NOT go to sleep until Ossoff was ahead in the polls. Then there I was, passed out with my phone on top of me when he was still down by 400 votes, but the truth is I went to sleep happy and excited because I knew what was about to happen. I knew that a lot of people in Georgia (and not in Georgia) worked their asses off to get people to the polls. To get people to understand what could happen. What is possible in a state like Georgia when people vote. It wasn’t possible for some people to see until November. But that win for Biden, with just over 12,000 votes, well, it lit a fire under people. It made us realize that yes, actually anything is possible. It is possible that the revered of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s church, could rise up and become the first Black senator in our state. It was a glorious sight to behold.

And listen, as I write this Ossoff is ahead in the polls, but they haven’t called it for him just yet. I’m expecting them to shortly, but already it is said that Chatham, Fulton, and DeKalb (my county) counties are cheating and lying and stealing this election. I don’t have words to say about that, except that we still have some work to do, as a state, as a county. But the truth of the matter is that it’s always hard to lose. It’s always hard to explain something like this. Explain why the people who have always been in power, are losing their power. So while I understand what they are doing, the science and psychology of it, I won’t let it stand. Not in my presence.

Today Congress will “debate” the presidential election, but the constitution, the power of the people, the “right” thing will prevail. Now we can look to the future with those who want to come along with us, and for the others, well, they can stay back and scream and yell. We don’t need them, we’ve made that clear.

Today is a good day, America! WE believe in you, Rev!

M.

Thoughts on Zoom

Is it just me, or do you have a hard time reading the natural end to the conversation with your therapist via Zoom? I adore my therapist, but these Zoom calls have been increasingly difficult. Same with my rheumatologist, who has a heavy middle-eastern accent. It’s hard to hear her and hard to decipher her words through her mask in person, but via Zoom is even worse. I feel really bad because I already have a hard time with accents and naturally ending conversations, but it’s been even worse over the last year because I feel like I am always on edge, always forgetting things, always have a ton on my mind, and it’s getting worse not better.

Last week I called the meeting quits a good ten minutes before my session was supposed to end because I was like, well is she done writing? Is she checking her clock? Does she have notes to do before her next patient? It feels like there are just way more things to worry about via the Zoom calls and I don’t feel like I can read the room, mainly because there is literally no room to read.

To make matters worse we are so “close” in a Zoom call, like closer than we would be in real life, that it makes me uncomfortable. Have you noticed this? Like I can see the fine lines and wrinkles in people’s faces on Zoom. I can see if something is hanging from their noses. So I sit way, way back away from the computer because it scares me. Meanwhile some people sit with the computer so close all you can see is their face. Back up, y’all! Back up! It’s too close.

I don’t know what my issue is, not really. I just know that Zoom freaks me out. It always has. Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, whatever you use or want to call it. It’s not my favorite, most effective form of communication and I hate that this is how we have to do things now. At the same time, I can be in my pajamas for therapy, so… I guess it’s still a win.

M.