Thoughts in the Car Line

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

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

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

Thoughts in the Car Line:

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

M.

The Tale of Three Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Silly Scandinavians!

Well Fuck a Duck! My mom used to say that when I was a kid. Back before she stopped using “bad words” and certainly before she found Jesus. She also used to say, “Well fuck me runnin’.” That’s sweet. Do you know how many times Little Missy imagined what that might look like in a literal sense? Yeah, kids are literal. So I assumed someone, somewhere, had fucked a duck and that’s why that was a thing. And as an adult I KNOW someone, somewhere has at least TRIED to fuck a duck, and that’s disturbing. Oh sometimes I wish to be Little Missy again.

Anywho, now that I’ve totally disturbed your week with some dangling images to fall asleep to, let’s talk about this “bad word.” You know as an English girl, and a writer, and a dabbler in all things linguistic, I love words. And I’m from the camp that there is no such thing as a “bad” word. Words are not inherently bad, people are bad. The power we sometimes give words is bad. But the word itself isn’t. Can’t be. That’s not how any of this works.

So sure, I say “Fuck.” Always have. You aren’t raised in a house where your mom yells, “Well FUCK ME RUNNIN’” and come out with a holier than thou attitude about “bad words.” Now is my mom proud of that now? No. But that was some shit she should have considered back then, ya dig? I used to be very selective with whom I said the word to. In fact, I was so selective people started to think I never spoke “like that” and I realized I was giving the wrong impression. Here’s the best thing I can say about that word, know your audience. I’m gonna leave it at that.

So where does “Fuck” come from anyway? Great question, I’m glad you asked! Fuck’s etymology is a bit hard to pin down, mainly because it was labeled a “bad word” many moons ago, therefore rendering large blank spots in its history, in fact the word doesn’t appear in any English dictionary from the late 18th century to 1965. Which is no way to treat such a versatile word, in my opinion.

So where do people think it came from? Well there’s some varying thoughts. First it’s believed this word has been around for a looooong time. Like back before the 14th century, but that it’s always had negative connotations, so it was rarely written and certainly not published, which means we have a lack of evidence now. But there is this fun little poem written in bastard Latin from the 15th century titled “Flen Flyys” that has a variant of the word. Allow me to share a line.

“Non sunt in celi, quia fuccant uuiuys of heli.”

“They [the monks] are not in heaven because they fuck the wives of [the town of] Ely.”

Okay, that’s good stuff. Damn monks. I never trusted them, not once. So here the word is “fuccant.” It’s some form of Latin, but no idea where it came from.

One of the other schools of thought is that the word comes from the Norwegian word “fukka” which straight up means “to copulate” or the Swedish word “focka” which means to strike or push, and “Fock” which just means penis. Listen, I’m not a betting lady, but if I were, the Scandinavians are the real winners here. Fucking bless you, you damn silly Scandinavians!

So there you have if. Some of it, anyway. Now go forth and use your secret favorite word today. And if someone gives you grief about it, inform them of the long history of the word, and then tell them to fuck off. You don’t need that kinda negativity in your life.

M.

Turkey Day

Like most holidays around the Goodnight house, today is just a day to fill ourselves full of turkey and pie with family and friends, and as of late, think about and discuss the people who came before us. Because while we’ve come a long way from where we were twenty years ago, I still noticed like today, in this year, in 2019, that kids are still dressed up like “Pilgrims” and “Indians” and made to put on little, fictitious performances at school, public school, to represent this day. Dude, I’m rolling my eyes so far back in my head right now that they might actually stay that way, which would make my mom right. Again.

Because listen, for the past 50 years, the fourth Thursday in November has been considered the National Day of Mourning to many in the Native American community. Rightfully so. In fact, there’s a plaque in Plymouth explaining the day. Explaining how it was created to remember the genocide that happened on our lands many years ago. To their people. The Native Americans.

So sure, yes. White people like me have a lot to be thankful for today. We have a lot to be grateful for every day. (Side note: so glad that “grateful November” Facebook bs didn’t take this year. Did y’all know you can be grateful without talking about it on social media?!) Okay, whew. I’m being snarky. I’m sorry. I haven’t had my turkey yet.

The point is, many of you probably didn’t know about the National Day of Mourning. Some of you may not even think for one second about the Native Americans on this day, too consumed with football, and not burning the rolls, and whether your kids are dressed better than you sister’s. But that really isn’t what today is about. Of course, what it is really about is way fucking worse. The taking of land that didn’t belong to us. Genocide. And now a racism so steeped in our culture we actually don’t even realize it’s bad. So you know what, scratch what I was saying, go watch football, and eat turkey, and lie to your sister about how cute her kids look. Make today however you want it to be, but remember, somewhere, in our country, a group of people are mourning the loss of not just their land, but of their heritage. The same heritage that you’re poking fun at with feathers stuck in your hair.

But remember, today of all days, that just because something has been done a certain way since you were a kid, doesn’t mean it should stay that way. Doesn’t mean it is the right way. Some things, like the case of the fourth Thursday in November, just make us too uncomfortable to address it. But just because a topic makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak about it. That’s not how this world works. We learn and we grow. We become better. And we should always be striving to do better. To learn and grow, so that we can be better than our ancestors. Better than our parents and grandparents, and better people than we were the year, the month, or the day before. We deserve that. Our kids deserve that.

So, from my house to yours, Happy Eat Turkey Day. Sure, we’ll be watching football, and saying thing we are grateful for, but we will also be learning about the particular Natives who inhabited the state we live in today. Because, duh. Fucking, duh.

Do better. Be better. Gobble, gobble.

M.

Every Day, On Occasion

I was religious once. More of a question than an answer. More of a desperate attempt, than a genuine plan. That’s how it is sometimes though. When you’re not sure if you will ever see someone you love again, you tend to become religious. It isn’t the only time, but it’s a time. Every day I wonder if I messed up. If I made the wrong decision. To believe. Not to believe.

Every day I make a conscious decision to stay awake. Every afternoon I start to slip a little. I get drowsy, usually from lack of sleep the night before, and I have to decide if I should just curl up on the couch with a book, or I push through. Plan dinner, do some laundry, make a to-do list for when I will feel like doing more. I usually push through.

I feel guilt over something every day. Some situation, some action or reaction I had. It’s part of the cycle of shame. Of not being in control. I read it in a book. A book about adults who grew up with parents with addictive behaviors. We seek control, and when we don’t have it we blame ourselves. We blame ourselves a lot, for situations out of our power. It’s a cycle.

On occasion I wonder if my husband loves me like he said he does. I wonder it even as he is saying he loves me, or showing me in some way. He has never given me a reason to think any different. Never hurt me in a profound way. I just wonder if he loves me like he says he does. Because on occasion I wonder if I love people the way I think I do, because on occasion I wonder if what I feel is love. Or something else altogether.

On occasion I look into a mirror and feel a strange sense of detachment from my body and my emotions. My therapist says it happens. She says it’s a symptom of trauma. Depersonalization. Profound detachment. It goes by several names. It’s an odd feeling. The feeling of not belonging in your own skin. The feeling of watching your body continue to buzz, but your brain turn off. On occasion I avoid mirrors all together.

I worry about my child. Every day. Every day at some point I stop and wonder what he is doing at school at that moment. If he ate all his lunch. If someone was mean to him. If he was mean to himself. Every day I worry that he got enough sleep the night before. I listen to his breathing while we sit on the couch together. I ensure that he isn’t coming down with anything. I worry that I am messing him up. That he doesn’t have the life I planned for him. That I am disappointing him in some way, some irreversible way.

On occasion I wonder when the other shoe will drop. When this life I am living will end. When the rug will be pulled out from under me. I envision a fiery crash. A break-in. A gunshot. I assume I’ll be taken down in a blaze of some kind, an accident maybe, but a tragedy no less. I think I’ll be blindsides at two am with bad news. I sleep with my ringer on, on occasion.

Every day I work to make my life better. I go to regular therapy. I evolve, try to become more self-aware. I read books that tell me explicitly how to live a whole-hearted life. I practice mindful breathing. I take a pill, every single day.

On occasion all of this works and I have a good day. No self-deprecating devil on my shoulder. No little inner critic. On occasion someone tells me I helped them in some way, and I believe them. My son hugs me tight and tells me he has a great life, and I give myself credit for creating it for him. On occasion a friend texts to tell me that I make her smile, and I smile, because I want to do better. I deserve to do better. To be better. But not every day.

I hope today is a good day for you.

M.

Accidents Happen

If you’re following along you know two things to be true: I was just last week, six months after we moved to Atlanta, that I was able to get my car tags switched to the state of Georgia and sweet baby Jesus that’s a long-ass story, and 2. Things are sometimes crazy at the Goodnight house. Case in point: last Thursday, the actual day I was able to walk into the friendly DeKalb County MVD and walk out with car tags on my lovely, happy, Volkswagen, I, ahem, had my first car “accident.” Now don’t freak out! I said DON’T FREAK OUT! No one was injured. In fact, no one was driving. We were parked when the accident occurred, but like most things in my life, there’s a story…

There I am, pumped to be able to get Jackson from school in my car, legally tagged, and what not. We walk occasionally, nowadays, depending on the weather, but this was a nasty weather day. In fact, right when I pulled up at his school around 4:00 (he had robotics practice after school that day) it started to rain. I usually try to snatch a spot right in front of the school, but because of the rain the front lane was already packed to the gills, so I snatched a relatively close spot in the parking lot adjacent.

Now mind you, I have been driving Jerimiah’s truck for the last few months because while I was waiting on a title to come to me for my car (which never came, because it was never going to come but the sonsabitches never told me that) my car tags expired and my car was forever parked in the carport, just waiting, with her large, judgey eyes, to be driven again. This bears no weight on this story. Well, it kind of does. See Jerimiah’s truck is different than my car. It’s bigger, and the doors are more “square” and you know what, I’m just gonna move on. (Side note: Is it “bares” or “bears”? Here’s the thing, I never remember, and yes, I am an English major, but I still have to look it up a lot and that’s not the only thing, and honestly I don’t feel like looking it up right now, so can someone just tell me? Okuuuur? Thanks.)

So I go inside and collect Jackson, along with his bag, his untied shoes, his coat crumpled under his arm, and his giant trumpet case. So, we walk out to the car, again, it’s starting to rain and my son is a hot fucking mess, I just want to make sure that I made that clear. He’s a fifth grader. Okay. So he sees my car, her name is Tiggy, and he is all pumped to have her back like I am. We get to the car, I get to my side, he heads over to the passenger side, I hear the back door open, then he freezes. I’m all, “What’s up, dude?” He’s all, “Umm, I think I opened the car door too wide and it hit this car and umm, I think I may have done something bad.” I roll my eyes, because how bad could it be, I’m thinking a little scratch that will buff out with my fingers. This isn’t my first rodeo. So I walk to the other side of the car and that is when I see that this BRAND NEW BMW 330i has a cracked tail light. Like for real.

My first reaction is all inside, thankfully. I’m like, “REALLY, BMW?! Really?! Like, you sell a MFing $50,000 car whose tail lights crack in a matter of seconds when faced with an obstacle?” I’m not trying to be that gal here, but my Tiggy has been beat the hell up. Like, she’s a 2013 VW and she looks like she’s been rode pretty hard, because, well, she has, but she still chugging along quite nicely, with all her lights in tact. (But, she does have one of the best safety ratings in her class, so suck on the Bimmer.)

Anywho, this is where it gets a little hairy. First of all, let me just say that I 100% believe that this was a test of my new medication, because just that morning my Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Suzan asked me if my new medication was working, and I was all, “I don’t really know. I mean, I think so.” Oh, it is. Because non-medicated Missy would have said this, “What the actual hell, Jackson?! You need to be more careful! Look what you did, oh my gosh, this is horrible. This is going to ruin my life, how can I ever recover from this?!” Something like that. Instead, I looked at him. He looked at me, a little scared, definitely feeling bad, he never wants to hurt anyone or anything, yes even, nay, especially a nice car. He’s a total car guy, in case you didn’t know and I think it pained him to see what he had done to this nice car.

So then I said, “Let’s call Daddy.” I do this from time to time when I need a second. When I’m not 100% sure what to say, especially when Jackson is present. It’s less, “Oh, dear baby Jesus I need Jerimiah to fix this,” and more, “I need to process this before I can move forward.” So I called, and he was busy, on a conference call with work people, so I told him the short version and he was also very calm and was all, “Just call the insurance and start a claim.” So that’s what I did.

Now mind you, at this point we had no idea who this car belonged to. Jackson didn’t recognize it, which means it was not one of his teachers’ cars, because he knows what every, single, one of them drive. He asks. Like the first time he meets them. Not in a creepy, stalker way, more in a, “Ouch, you drive a Ford Escape? Really? You know those score very low in the crash test ratings, right?” So, yeah, maybe in a creepy way.

Anyhoo, still here? Good. So I’m on hold with the insurance company, who also seems very chill. Everyone is very chill at this point, and I’m a little worried that we’ve all smoked like, a lot of weed, but no one told us. Like maybe they are pumping it through the air? But then it occurs to me, as we are watching every family come out of the school, trying to decide if they are walking toward us, that this car might belong to a real sonofabitch. You know the kind I’m talking about. A man or a woman, who doesn’t have time for my shit, for my kid’s story about how he was just trying to open the car wide enough to fit his trumpet case in the backseat. About how my car door is shaped weird, etc, etc. This makes me panic a little bit, and while I’m on hold waiting for a claims rep, I think for a split second that I could run. As soon as I thought it I was upset with myself, but still, no one had saw this happen. No one could pinpoint that it was us. In fact, the crack was hard to see in the tail light, it might be days or even weeks before the owner notices. Then again, I looked at Jackson. And you know, thought better of it. Parenting is a bitch sometimes, y’all.

So after I completely finish the claim, take pics of the car, Jackson and I look at each other and we just know. No one has come outside. It’s 4:30 by now, that can only mean one thing. It’s a teacher’s car. AHHHHHHH! So we make the slow, measured walk back inside and head to the front office. We tell them what happened and they say, “Oh no!” and they call for the owner of the white, BMW 330i to come to the office. Then a moment later Jackson’s teacher appears and I am actually like, “SONOFABITCH!” Turns out he was just leaving, but the more I considered I knew he would be the understanding sort, so I sort of wished it had been him, then out of the corner of my eye I see a sweet, small woman (think Miss Honey) appear in front of me. She looks sad, and a little tired, but she is definitely a first grade teacher, I can just tell, she hasn’t been beaten down by the big kids yet, she still gets a lot of hugs. She walks in, sees us, sighs and braces herself, as I thrust out my hand and ask her if she’s the BMW with the University of Florida tags. (There are a lot of BMWs in the teachers’ lot at Jackson’s school, I don’t know what the pay scale is here for teachers, but good on them!)

She says yes, and Jackson and I jump into a very apologetic story, reliving each detail shamefully, until the very end when I slide her a piece of paper with my name, number, and the claim number my insurance company gave me. She looks startled, and a bit shaken up, but she smiles and says, “You came in and told me? And you already filed a claim?” I gave her what I’m assuming was my, “Duh” face and she was all, “Thank you. Thank you for doing that. Some people wouldn’t have done that.” Then I got all sorts of fucking sad, because damn it, she’s right and damn it, that did cross my mind for a second, and damn it, I’m a horrible person too.

Then she proceeded to tell me that the car is a lease, because her last car was totaled from a HIT AND RUN! I shit you not. So then I felt 1,000,000 million times worse. That’s why she looked so defeated. That’s why she was so appreciative. Jackson and I looked at each other. We both fought the urge, at that moment, to hug her. He even told me in the car later that he thought he should have hugged her. We are huggers, okay. Mind yo bidness.

Damn it. We should have hugged her.

So, what did we learn? So much, really. I mean really. But the biggest take aways were that we have accident forgiveness with our insurance, that BMW parts are as expansive as you think they might be, and that we did what was right. My son saw me do what was right. It was an accident, after all. And people have accidents. That’s not negotiable. What is negotiable is how you react when an accident happens, what you say in a time of crisis. Especially in front of your kids.

So that’s that. That’s the time, last week, when Jackson slammed my car door into a BMW and we did the right thing. I wish I could say I always do and say the “right thing,” but I can’t. But I’m calling last Thursday’s accident a win. For us anyway, we still feel really bad about the damn tail light.

M.

Rant About Big Pharma

Has this ever happened to you? Let’s say your health insurance forces you to use one type of pharmacy, a mail-order pharmacy. But they will allow for medication at, say, CVS, as long as you get a 90-day supply. The medication you are on is $60 a month retail, and $25 with commercial insurance and a manufacturer coupon. So you go get your 90-day-supply of medicine and are willing to pay the $75, but CVS says that the manufacturer won’t allow a coupon on a 90-day supply. So you call the mail-order pharmacy to get it filled, and the mail-order pharmacy says they won’t take the coupon. Like, they just say no. No reason is given, just no. “We don’t accept coupons of any kind.” So you can’t get the 30-day refill at CVS, because your insurance says no. And you can’t use the manufacturer coupon because the pharmacy your insurance is making you go through won’t take it. No, this has never happened to you? Just wait, I’m sure it will.

Healthcare in our country is so jacked up, that this is the sort of thing that happens on the reg. Now mind you, this happened to my husband and it’s for medication he could probably come off of for a few months, or switch brands, it’s not like brand-specific or saving his life everyday when he takes it. But, he’s been on this medication for several years now and has been paying $45 a month, then one day they just upped their price of the medication. Presumably they had their reasons. I mean, nothing changed in the way they manufacture or sell it. There were no changes to the “fillers” and what not. But I’m trying to be optimistic here and assume that it wasn’t just the pharmaceutical company being greedy bitches (because I have friends who work for big pharma) but…

I keep thinking about people who are not covered by health insurance. We are. And our doctor is cool, and she can probably just call in a new, generic script on Monday, and sure maybe he will have to make an appointment with her, and pay another $30 co-pay, and take an afternoon off work to get it all situated, and that’s fine because he can do that. But what about the people who can’t? What about the people who have no idea there are other options? What about the people who can’t take an afternoon off work, or that extra $30 co-pay will set them back for the week? What about those people? Who is thinking of those people? Not big pharma. Not United Healthcare. Not Optum Rx. Not anyone like that.

My husband was frustrated, sure. But he will get the problem resolved. But there are people who can’t get their situation resolved. There are people who need much more important medication everyday. Life-saving medication. And it is taking months to get things like this resolved. And months can mean death for some of these people.

I’m probably not saying anything you don’t already know, that is if you’re even a little bit “woke” as the kids say. But just in case you didn’t know, this is the kind of thing that is happening. And it’s happening to people like us. It’s happening to the working middle-class. The upper-middle-class. It’s happening to the lower-middle-class. And it’s certainly happening to the people below that. And no one is benefitting from it, but Big Pharma.

I’m sorry if you’re any of those people. I’m sorry if you’re walking through this right now. Ask your doctor for help. Ask your friendly, neighborhood pharmacist. They want to help. They get it. And please, for the love of all that is holy, find out the politicians in your area, and nationally, who are working to make things easier on the health insurance companies and big pharma, and vote them the hell out, y’all. We have to fight for people that can’t go at it alone.

End rant.

M.

Brains are Funny That Way

I have this friend, I used to consider her a devout Christian, like when she’d say things like, “You can pray the gay away” (I’m paraphrasing), I’d wince a bit, but move on because we all have our unfounded beliefs, that’s how our brains work. This week she shared her belief on social media that good, Jesus-following Christians, should not celebrate Halloween. I pushed back. Because sometimes we all need push back. We all need reminded that just because we think a certain way, because we’ve studied what we think is “the” truth, there are many more “truths” out there. I ended up DMing her, hoping to explain this. Because she kept saying she was sharing “The” truth and I felt compelled to remind her, like all religions, these are beliefs, not truths. But I don’t think she understood.

That’s how our brain works though, y’all. When we believe something and we repeat it over and over again, “Halloween bad,” then our brain starts to go, “Oh yeah, Halloween bad. And people who celebrate Halloween, bad.” And I think I have a good handle on this friend. I think she’s just trying to serve people. I think she has a servant’s heart, for the most part, but she hasn’t yet realized that you can’t “Halloween bad” people into doing things. But, the post she shared came from a preacher, and the one she wrote on the topic was sparked by what she heard a preacher say at his service. Which means brimstone and fire is being pushed from the pulpit. I’ve heard pastors like this. I’ve seen what they do. How they work. These people believe they have Christ on their side and can say and do what they want. But, uh, don’t we all have Jesus on our side? Isn’t that like, his thing? Y’all, I know some of you who hang with me a lot get tired of hearing this, but, Imma say it again, and hope it sticks: Jesus is not a primary source. No one is taking you seriously when you throw down some, “Well Jesus told me…” Well, I guess some people are taking you seriously, that’s how preachers work. And you know what is at the root of that work? Fear.

Back to my friend. What was even more disturbing about this whole conversation with her, was the way she spoke of Halloween. The fear she had of it. She said she puts on an armor, practices “spiritual warfare.” She said this in the same breath (rather paragraph) that she said she doesn’t worry about things because “Jesus is above all of that.” So which is it? Do we have to be suited up, live in a warfare mindset to love Jesus, or do we trust that he’s bigger than any of it? If you ask me, any type of warfare is rooted in fear, and I have enough fear to last me my whole life, I don’t need my religion bogging me down with it too.

But that’s how religion works, right? That’s why our brains love it! Religion eases our fears. It gives us something to believe in, to cling to when life isn’t going so well. Religion explains a lot of shit that our overworked brains just can’t process. The meaning of life. Why we die. Religion can, and does, explain a whole host of uncomfortable topics for us. Hard topics. That we just don’t want to deal with. I mean if you ask me the Greeks did it the best. All those awesome Gods to explain away all the shit they just couldn’t wrap their minds around! Persephone was my favorite, the way she made all the flowers bloom! Girl, you so special!

At one point in our conversation I suggested my friend was a good writer, one who had the capacity to make people feel united. Help isolated mommas who were just trying to find a community, and sometimes a church community is all they have. And I suggested she keep to less trivial topics, least she be part of the cog that is turning young people, young mothers especially, away from church. I was thinking more along the lines of sharing her stories of redemption. The goodness in her church community. Helping to solve hated and bigotry with her words. She said that getting people to see that the celebrating Halloween is not Christ-like is VERY important to her. Right now. I guess I was calling her to something she just isn’t ready for. Spiritually or creatively. Because if celebrating Halloween is one of the worst things that we are doing in our world right now, then well, my friend’s brain is already elsewhere.

M.

To the Taffy-pulling Room!

Sonofabitch you guys, I haven’t been watching television enough. Not nearly as much as Mike Teevee, anyway, which is secretly my dream. I’ve been too busy and it shows. Football is apparently back? It’s almost the fall and new shows come out in the fall and I don’t know what any of the new shows are and I’m stressing out because when I do watch television I watch sad Netflix documentaries like that one where that lady with a mental illness lived in an abandoned house for a year and existed solely on apples and then someone found her dead body. Or, hey, what about that one where that lady with a mental illness started collecting ducks, then ten years later the SPCA had to step in and take 96 ducks, geese, chickens, roosters, and turkeys from her house because her husband called them on her and then they got divorced, but not really, then he died from diabetes, so he never got to see how she cleaned up the chicken shed and got a new house but she was only able to do that because he died and she inherited money he was saving for her. Or what about that one where the lady with the mental illness kills her… wait, is there a theme here?

Anyway, I need to branch out and I know it. I mean don’t get me wrong, I watch the jail shows too. Like that one where the teenage girls are given a second chance before being tried as adults and are sent to this like, little girl prison, where they have to go to school and stuff. I’m all caught up on that. Or that one that is filmed in Gwinnett County, Georgia in one of the biggest, most bad-ass jails in the country. I watch that one because Gwinnett County is right next to us. Like my husband works in Gwinnett County. So I mean, we’re like family, the convicts and me.

Speaking of convicted family members, I have several. But that’s another post.

Ohhh, I also watch those home remodeling shows. Not the ones that are on like cable television (we don’t have cable, have I mentioned this?) I watch the ones on Netflix. Like “Tiny House Nation” and that one where that mom and daughter team up in Indianapolis and are like remodeling old homes one-by-one in their own neighborhood. I mean it’s pure gentrification, but their dynamic is funny.

I tried to watch MTV Teen Mom Season 3 the other day but it said I needed an account that supported MTV. Uh… Anyone have a log in for me?

So I guess what I am saying is, hmm, maybe I do watch a lot of t.v.?

Here are the names of the really good documentaries on Netflix now, in case you are so inclined to sit alone and cry one afternoon like me:

There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane

Blackfish

Brother’s Keeper

Audrie and Daisy

Evil Genius

Abducted in Plain Sight

Amanda Knox

Period. End of Sentence.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

Have You Seen Andy?

God Knows Where

For the Birds

Happy (or mainly sad) watching!

M.

My New Doctor

I had my annual exam this morning with my new doctor in Atlanta. There wouldn’t normally be much to report, it’s usually the same old song and dance. I need to lose weight. Get my medication right. But today I met my new NP, and things were different. She’s sweet, and young, and resourceful. She’s an immigrant, who left Iran ten years ago with her brother to escape religious persecution. She was raised in the Bahá’í Faith. It’s a more progressive sect of Islam. Women are viewed as equals in her religion, but still not in Iran. In Iran she was treated poorly because of her religion. She was not allowed to go to college. Her parents could not own a business, or work for the government, schools, etc. they can only work for private companies. The ones that will hire them. Her life was hard growing up, and if it weren’t for her opportunity to come here, she isn’t sure where she would be.

She didn’t just offer up this information about herself, of course. She just asked a normal “doctor” question.

NP: How many pregnancies?

Me: Two.

NP: How many children?

Me: One.

This is when the doctor usually says she’s sorry for my loss. She may ask what happened, depending on what I’m there for, she may not. Today my sweet, young, Farsi-speaking NP simply said, “Tell me about your baby.”

What came next was a ten-minute conversation about how abortion, especially ones like mine, where the baby isn’t viable, are totally okay in Iran. In most of that part of the world. That this stigma here in the US, we did that to ourselves, and she thinks it’s nuts. “No one,” she told me, “No one in Iran would have expected you to carry your daughter to full-term. You’d seem crazy to them if you did that.” She went on to tell me a bit about her life and religion. She told me she thinks the powers that be in her new country, our country, use the issue of abortion to hide what they are actually doing. It’s all a game with them. They don’t see the women.

It’s weird, and a little funny how things happen. I forget that sometimes. I’ve been torturing myself all week. A wreck with guilt, as I am every year around this time, for something that I just shouldn’t have guilt about.

I was reminded of this today. I was reminded by someone who didn’t need to know my why, or my how, or my when. She just needed to see the struggle in my eyes. She put her hand on my shoulder as I struggled to sit upright, my open gown covering nothing of my upper body, my breasts hanging out all over the place, and she said, “Look at me.” I looked at her. “I would have done the same thing you did. You’re strong. Strong to know the toll that would take on you. Strong mentally to know what was best for you and to do it.” Then she took my hand and helped me sit straight up. Helped me close up the front of my gown. Helped me straighten my crown.

There’s good out there, y’all. Everyday, everywhere. And it comes to you when you need it.

❤️

M.

The In-between Girl

As far back as I can remember I have felt out of place. I’ve felt like I didn’t belong. Like I was one kind of girl, living in a world where it was best to be the other kind of girl. It wasn’t until grad school, and my introduction to the term Imposter Syndrome, that I had some sense of what I had been feeling for so long. Where I come from, people don’t go to grad school. Where I come from, people don’t go to college, some don’t even earn a high school diploma. They opt instead, for their GED at 16 years old or at 40, whenever the need arises for them to get a pay raise at their hourly job. Their hourly job is at the warehouse where they load the UPS trucks at four am, or down at the Walmart, where a HS diploma can mean the difference between $9/hr and $9.50/hr. So you can imagine my surprise, when sitting in a giant auditorium at UNC Charlotte—feeling completely out of place and wondering why the English department let me into their program—when those big, bold letters came across the screen: Imposter Syndrome. My jaw dropped. Me, a small-town Kansas girl who should have just put her head down and taken a job as a receptionist at a doctor’s office or as a cashier at a grocery store, was actually realizing a dream that, to some, seemed ridiculous. Reading those words and finally understanding what I had been feeling my whole life, well it was a surprise, but it was also a new sort of freedom, albeit one that didn’t last very long.

I finished grad school, if you are wondering, and I got by okay. It became clear to other people, pretty quickly, that I should be there. Classmates, professors, my family. But it was never clear to me. I struggled with not fitting in the whole time I was there. I was too old to hang out with the other students, I was too young to feel a camaraderie with the instructors. I was too shy to get involved with organizations, I was too direct to be good at sparking conversation. I showed up to things I wasn’t expected to, and missed events they had planned for me to attend. I didn’t feel like I was in the right concentration, so I switched my major in my second year, where I felt even more out of place than before. The list goes on. And now here I am, a woman from a history of blue-collar workers, explaining why art is important to a family who doesn’t “get me,” while my back is to a world of intellectuals, fellow artists and writers, a new and economically advantaged group of friends who have no idea what government cheese tastes like, and I am feeling out of place, again. I’m stuck in-between these two worlds, and sometimes I don’t think I belong to either.

I’m not unique, then again I’m not claiming to be. There is a whole host of people like me. People who’ve left the Section 8 houses. People who looked into the mirror and decided this life is not for them. People who have scraped their way into college or trade school. People who have taken $100 and turned it into a million dollars. And there they are, feeling like they don’t belong. The weight of their own history pulling them down. I’m not complaining either, even though it might seem that way. I know I did what was right for me. And I know that my family back home is proud of me. They may not get what I do, or what I write, or how I see the world, but I know they are proud that I did what I set out to do. I’m not a cautionary tale, like some of the others, rather an example to follow. And I constantly carry that on my back, as I reach behind and pull up the next generation who are looking for a way out.

But in the moment, in the day to day, I never know how I will feel. I never know how out of place I look toting a $50 bottle of wine to an event I have been invited to because I know someone, who knows someone, who is hosting a writers group that focuses on art as a form of healing. But I feel it. I never know how people will take me when I go back home, run into an old friend at CVS, give them a hug, ask how they have been, with a stupid, genuine grin, as I listen to the happenings of my old hometown. I always wonder if they see me as an outsider. Because I feel like one.

I wish this was a teachable moment of some kind. I like teachable moments, but it isn’t. This is just me, admitting the way I feel a lot of the time. Maybe this will resonate with some of you, maybe not. But if I can, let me just say this: People worry a lot. People feel like they don’t fit in. People feel like outsiders. If you are one of the confident ones, bring those people into your fold. Ask them to participate. Give them a shot. They may never feel like they belong, but at least they won’t feel like they don’t.

M.

An Open Letter to the PTA

Good afternoon ladies (and that one weird dad). Let me start off by saying: THANK YOU! You are an amazing bunch, and honestly the school would be in deep doodoo without you. I mean for real. You help raise so much money for this damn school, that it is insane. You support extracurriculars, you help fund teacher’s classrooms, you feed the staff, and spend days getting ready for an event that most of the kids relentlessly make fun of (even when they have a great time)! You are great at all of this because you are mommies. And grand mommies. And that one weird dad. And you are used to doing thankless jobs for no pay. You are used to being yelled at about things that are not your fault. You are used to squeezing the budget as far as it will go and then some. You are used to begging and pleading for people to do one ounce of the work you do, just to keep the wheels in motion. And honestly, most of the time, you are measured not by the good that you do, but rather by the “annoyances” you cause. But I see you. I see you working diligently, and tirelessly, so that your kids and your friends’ kids, and the whole elementary school can have a damn snow-cone maker come field day, And your work does not go unnoticed.

Now, let me get to the heart of the matter, the ways I can help you. First let me say that I have been on both sides of the coin. I was not a member of the PTA, then I was just a “give $10 member,” then I was a committee co-chair, then a co-Vice President, then a committee chair at another school, and now currently I am just a “give $20 member” who has been asked repeatedly to help out whenever I can, and the “whenever I cans” are filling up my calendar. I have been part of three different PTAs, including helping one as it transitioned to a PTO. I have written bi-laws, been in charge of an event, stopped by every single teacher to introduce myself and give them a gift. I have laid mulch and planted flowers, collected money and membership forms, sold t-shirts, and stuffed goody bags. I have given another mom the “stop talking you’re wasting all of our time” look on Friday morning meetings so the President didn’t have to. I have researched grants, and play sets. I have led meetings and worked lunch room duty. Jesus, lunch room duty. I have rallied students with a megaphone, I have hauled screaming kinders out of a quickly deflating bounce house. And the list goes on. I, as you can see, am not afraid to get in there and get my hands dirty. And many, many more moms and dads are the same, but sometimes you don’t give them a chance.

Listen, y’all are seen in a different light because you’re not exactly inclusive. You are not exactly shining rays of light in the hallway. You are not exactly welcoming to new parents, or old parents, or odd parents. And sometimes each other. You have a narrow focus, and tend to keep your friends close, when you should be keeping your enemies closer. You need to remember that the PTA is not a popularity contest. It isn’t part of a social status. It’s work. Hard work and a lot of it. You need help. And dear Baby Jesus, I want to help you set your sights higher! Therefore, we need to take a hard look at your flaws. We need to speak some truth into you. And this is going to be hard, but I have to speak directly to each of you, starting at the top*. Ahem…

President: Hey Karyn, waz up, girl?! Can I grab a sec? Listen, I know you are one busy bee, girlfriend, okay! Aren’t we all (hysterical, sad laughter). But listen, you need to slow down girl, like for real. You need to loosen the reigns and ask for some help. No one is asking you to organize the 5K, the bake sell, the school carnival, the fifth grade dance, and all the teacher breakfasts, okay. You put that on yourself. Why, girl? Cause you’re a little bit of a control freak? Sure, hahahahahaha! We all are! That’s why we’re here, but listen, you’re scaring people. No one wants to join the committees you head because they heard about the spring gala and the shit that went down in the parking lot between you and your co-chair afterward. Did you really pull her weave out? Karyn, did you pay that teenager to key her car at Costco? Be straight with me girl, I won’t tell anyone. Certainly not, Betsy. Eek. But for real, slow down, take a chill pill, smile a little more in the hallway to people who live outside of your subdivision, and learn to use the calendar app, your disorganization is tearing us apart. Okay, love you girl, bye!

Vice-President: Patsy, honey, how are you? I feel like we never get a chance to talk. I saw you sit with your hand raised for fifteen minutes last Friday when the Principal asked for opinions on the food truck, but Karyn would not stop talking long enough for you to say anything. Honestly, we all felt the sting when Karyn reached over and put your hand down for you. I feel like we never get to hear your ideas. But you smile anyway. Although, I did catch that thing you said under your breath to Tina the other day about being “voluntold” to work the Book Fair. Listen honey, Karyn is a bitch. We all know this. We also know we have to keep her happy and that none of this shit would be done, if it weren’t for you. But that day in the cafeteria, when you slammed the tray down on her hand on “accident” girl, you validated a lot of us. Never stop being you. You are the glue to this whole damn thing. And I will respect your wishes and cross your name off the ballot next year. I got your back.

Secretary: Tina, daaayuuum, girl, how long you been doing this? Long time? You have what, seven kids now? Just the other d… uhhh, he spit up a little on you, yeah, right, uhhh, yeah, there, ope you got it. You want me to hold him so you can hold the pen, or, okay, okay, yeah, that works too. Just, I don’t want him to get kicked in the head, uhh, so listen, have you ever considered running for president? I mean, you have the skills for the job, and you’re, umm (motioning to all the toddlers and babies in the room) gonna be around for awhile, so, I think you could make some awesome changes. Oh really? Sure. You could totally start now by um, I think you could start by getting Karyn to be a little more open to new people. To new ideas. Maybe finding a good way to get some kinder moms involved. When I was a kinder mom no one in the PTA spoke to me all year. I really wanted to get involved, but I was painfully shy, and honestly honey, if I would have known what a giant clusterfuck this really is, I would have totally joined up then. Because there I was, thinking you guys all had your shit together, and I was the one who was all messed up, but nah. Nah. Oh, you want me to burp him, okay, sure.

Treasurer: Kevin, hey dude. Listen, I know all the ladies want you to be the treasurer because you are “the man” and well, this is The South, so there is a definite belief ladies can’t do numbers, but, no, no, no, I do not want your job. No, I know. Yes, I understand it is hard. No, thank you. Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. Right. Totally agree. Sure raise ’em up right. Okay, absolutely. Yep. Stop! Stop! Do you see this right here?! You have not let me say a damn word! And maybe it’s because you are a man, but I rather think it’s because you’re an asshole. So shut up sometimes and let other people tell you what they think. And train someone else to do this job. Start now, because I guarantee, your name won’t be on the ballot forever. Also, stop saying your kid is too good for this school. That’s not a thing. No kid is too good for a school and no school is too good for a kid. Period. And one more thing, Kevin, I know you walk around here like your shit don’t stink. But I’ve been in the unisex staff bathroom after you, and well… it does.

Communications Chair: Hey Betsy, so glad I caught you! Listen, I did get your 18 emails last night about the use of the school’s Instagram account, and honestly I’m gonna guess that no, we aren’t breaking Rule XVI, Law i of the school conduct code by using a picture of the janitor hoisting up the flag. Uh, huh. Uh, huh. Oh no, I don’t think the threat of a new civil war in any way impacts what we say on our Facebook page, just because, well, we mainly say things like: “Book Fair, Friday Night!” We aren’t like, you know, getting political. Yes, we can be political people. I know you saw me at that rally and you’re nervous I’m gonna fly off the handle, but um, you did take my Box Top access away, and I really needed to get some templates printed off. How bout this? How bout I promise to not talk about politics ever again with you, and you promise to stop making us all sign releases saying that we won’t share pictures of your child at lunch in a public forum. I really don’t think anyone is doing that, so I feel like it is saving us both some time and energy. No, I did not hear that Patsy wasn’t going to run for president next year. Hmm, that is interesting. No, honey. I think you should take a little more time learning the ropes before you throw your hat in the ring. You’re just, well, annoying.

That One Mom Who Said She Would Help a Ton, But Only Shows Up When It’s Convenient: (Long sigh). Hey, Becca. So, are the third Thursdays on a month ending in -er just the best days for you, or, no? Okay. Sure, I get it. Yeah, yeah, sure. You work full-time, two kids, omigod, I know, I know. But listen, everyone is really tired of your shit. You send these hateful emails about all the things we are doing wrong, then I have to passive-aggressively respond all and remind you that you need to be the change you wish to see, you know. It’s getting old. I hate to be so crass with you, but you know where I’m coming from, it’s shit or get off the pot time, Becca. And the least you could do, on the days you are scheduled to show and you don’t, is text a bitch okay. And you know what, this is one of those times when throwing money at a problem does help. So get your husband to write a fat-ass check to the PTA, and we will see if we can make this all work. Okay, girl. Okay! See you in six weeks.

Beautification Co-Chair: Hey, girl, hey! Listen Rhonda, I’ve heard some murmuring after the meetings lately that people feel like you are a little pushy and maybe some of your ideas are, ummm, unrealistic? Ummm, what would you say… uh huh. Oh no, I’m not saying you’re pushy or unrealistic, I’m just saying that maybe you shouldn’t try to put new siding on the school this year, when we are trying to save for new chrome books for the classrooms. Also, a fifteen foot palm tree flown in from Florida would be amazing! I mean, really. But… I don’t know that our money should go there…right now. I know, I know, you and your husband are paying for half the palm tree, but the other $8,000 seems to be big part of our Chromebook budget. Okay, so you talked to the other school down the road and they are getting two palm trees. Okay. Okay! I see. So maybe, I dunno, I’m spit-balling here, maybe we could wait until one of their palm trees inevitably dies, and get it donated to us? Then we can have a dead palm tree too? No? Okay. Here’s all I’m saying. You tend to do things waaaay big! Like off the charts awesome! Yay! But, you’re scaring the other moms, and making a lot of people feel bad. And I know, I know that is not your intention, it’s really just to seem awesome, probably because you lack self-esteem, we all do, ha! But, I just need you to reel it back a bit, okay. I mean, you know I will keep it real, I always said I’d tell you if people are talking about you behind your back. Hahaha! They are.

And that is a start with you, PTA. That’s a start.

Best,

Missy, the forever PTA Mommy

*These are all fictional people, but you know, very real people.

Group 9 Kinda Lit

A few months back my husband got a new phone for his new position at work and it came with a brand-new, shiny phone number. It was a Charlotte number, because that is where we lived at the time. He has never had a Charlotte number. I have never had a Charlotte number. We both still have the numbers we got in Missouri back when I was pregnant with Jackson 11 years ago. It was new and exciting, until he got the text.

One day while at work he got a message that his number was added to a group chat. It was a bunch of numbers he did not know. At first he thought it was a work thing, but all the numbers were Charlotte numbers. All the people he was about to work for had numbers from Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and the rest of the southeast. Then the group name appeared: “Group 9 Kinda Lit”. He knew it wasn’t me and my friends, again, because the numbers were from Charlotte. So he was puzzled. He was just about to send a “New numb3r who dis” text when the pictures started to roll in. One by one, pics of large, black penises rolled into his new chat.

That evening when he got home he told me what happened.

“Did you screenshot them for me?” I asked, eagerly.

“No! It’s my damn work phone! I don’t want to be in that group or to have pictures of penis on my phone!”

“Did you give them your personal phone?” I hoped.

“What?! No!” He was getting perturbed. “I don’t want pictures of any penis on my phone.”

“Homophobe,” I concluded.

“What?! No! Jesus…” He took some deep breathes while he looked at me in a mixture of pity and awe. “I deleted the conversation.”

Two hours later his phone lit up again.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

Pause.

DING! DING! DING! DING!

I raced over to the phone and there they were in all their glory.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“Group 9 Kinda Lit,” I said with excitement.

“Shit,” he ran over and stood next to me. “Tell them they have the wrong number.”

“Nooooo!” I pleaded.

“Yes, dude, I can’t have this on my work phone. Get me out of the conversation.”

By this time hook-ups were happening and I really wanted to know who Tyrone had settled on for Thursday morning “fun” at his house. I was invested.

“What if I just say, ‘Hey you guys! This is Missy!’ Then I send a pic of myself? I mean, they probably wanna be my friend.”

“Uh no, dude. Tyrone does not want to be your friend. He only wants to be your friend if you have a penis.”

“So he wants to be your friend.”

“No dude, I think I might have the ‘wrong kinda penis’ for this group. Give me the phone.”

Then he proceeded to block all of the numbers from his phone, while I stood by his side and said nothing.

So why am I telling you all of this today? Well, I read a quote this morning that said, “Your self-worth is not defined by your sacrifice.” And honestly, I felt that. Hard. I felt it hard and I felt it deep. I felt it hard and deep. Because what I did that day, the sacrifice I made, standing idly by as my husband ruined my dream of being a part of Group 9 Kinda Lit, will not define me. I will press on. I will stay strong.

Until we meet again, Group 9 Kinda Lit.

Until we meet again.

M.

You Are What You Read

In elementary school I participated in the Book It! Program. If you don’t know Book It! it was a program designed by Pizza Hut in the early 1980s. The then-president of the company was called to action by President Reagan, who asked big business to find valuable ways to help with education in America. Pizza Hut stepped up to the plate, literally and figuratively, with the Book It! Program. Book It! awarded elementary school children the chance to read appropriate-level books, in exchange for stickers, buttons, and you guessed it, free pizza! I don’t know much more about the program from the business side, but I did find an informative and fun article here, if you are so inclined: http://mentalfloss.com/article/501605/12-cheesy-facts-about-pizza-huts-book-it-program.

What I remember about Book It! was the awesome personal pan pizzas that you got whenever you finished your “chart”, which was a brightly colored poster board with the names of everyone in your class, and stars representing how many books you had read. For each book you got a sticker. For every ten books you read, you received a coupon for a personal pan pizza. This was a great incentive to kids who were not planning on reading ten books a month, a fun bonus for those of us who were, and a smart marketing move on behalf of Pizza Hut. I mean, parents will do more with less, for an excuse to NOT cook and do the dishes on a Friday night. It was a win-win, and honestly, one of my favorite memories from elementary school. We were sorta poor, and Pizza Hut was not a place we frequented. My mom cooked food at home, so once a month I knew I would get to go out to dinner. It wasn’t anything fancy, but my mom would take me to Pizza Hut. She would get us a water and a Diet Coke, then she would order two personal pan pizzas and we got one of them free. It was a sweet deal, and a fun evening for us because the nearest Pizza Hut was at the mall of sorts, in Leavenworth, called The Plaza. It had some shops in it, an arcade, a book store, ice cream, etc. It was small, but always exciting to go look around with my tummy full of free pizza. Sometimes, if it were near payday, we would walk around and dream of the stuff we wanted, then hit Baskin Robbins just before we drove home.

The other thing I remember about Book It! was how unfair it suddenly seemed one day in fifth grade. I was a fairly smart kid. No rocket scientist, but I was an avid reader, a strong reader, and a lover of books. One day my class came back inside from recess and sat at our desks with the lights off. This was something we did everyday. It was a rest time that Mrs. Coughran, our very patient teacher, bestowed upon us. Mrs. Coughran took this time to turn off the lights and let us rest our minds and bodies before we stumbled into whatever was next on the agenda. Everyday she would read aloud during this time, from a book that we all voted on. We had three choices. We could either listen while we rested our eyes (think: trying to get a quick snooze) or we could color or draw, or we could read our own book silently at our desk. I usually chose to read silently, especially when I was close to completing my ten books for the month.

One particular day I excused myself to the Book It! Chart to see how many books I had left. Mrs. Coughran or Mrs. Simmons, the school librarian, had to pick the books for us, as reading at your appropriate level was one of the requirements. On this day I meandered over to the chart to see which book I had next so I could decide if we had it in the classroom, or if I needed to go find it in the library. That is when the shock set in. My chart looked like this: Island of the Blue Dolphins, Indian in the Cupboard, Number the Stars, Anne Frank, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Giver, etc. etc. Meanwhile, a large number of the rest of the class were reading books like this: James and the Giant Peach, Sarah Plain and Tall, Little House in the Big Woods, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Superfudge, and Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing. See a pattern here? I was getting saddled with these “big” books, which is how I thought of them, when really they were just more advanced subject matter, while my classmates read what amounted, to me anyway, as Dr. Seuss. I was pissed.

I went home that night and told my mom, who really had no idea what I was bitching about. She was convinced my teachers knew which books I should be reading, and what the hell was a Superfudge, anyway? She told me stop complaining, but she did offer to run me down to the public library so I could pick out whatever I wanted. I took the bait.

The next day at silent reading, I looked around the room before I lifted up my desk and snuck out my brand new public library copy of Pippi Longstocking. Now I had read Pippi Longstocking before. In fact, I had read all of them and watched the movies back in, ohh, second grade? But it was funny and short and I didn’t need to look up words in secret in my bedroom at night. I spent the better part of our fifteen minutes trying to hide the cover from Mrs. Coughran, who seemed to be inching closer to my desk. I figured if I could get the book done quickly, I could just run over and jot the title down and have her give me a sticker without her even looking at the cover. It was a tense few minutes.

I was still reading happily along to Pippi’s antics when someone switched the lights on without my knowing. I was so engrossed, I didn’t look up until Mrs. Coughran’s hand touched my arm. I looked up at her, my eyes wide, I had been caught. She knelt down next to my desk and asked me what I was reading. I showed her the cover. That’s a good one, she said, not taking her eyes off of me. I think it is a movie now too. I shook my head and gulped. Are you going to count that as one of your books this week? The question sort of stayed out there, in the air between us. I wasn’t sure what to say. I found the nerve, maybe from Pippi, to say, I think so. Okay, she said with a smile. I think that’s a good idea. But don’t forget that Mrs. Simmons wants you to finish “Number the Stars” this week too. I shook my head. Yes. Yes. The holocaust book, I remembered quickly. She smiled and walked away.

That afternoon as the bell rang, and we all ran to the freedom of our parent’s cars, Mrs. Coughran called for me. I stopped in the doorway, a little bit scared. She put her arms out for a hug and I fell into her. I had been so afraid she was mad at me. Then she looked me in the eyes. Reminded me to look her in the eyes, something she had been working on with me since day one, and she said that she was proud of me for being a class leader in the Book It! Program. She confided that we were probably set up to receive the coveted pizza party at the end of the year because of our hard work, and that I had really helped bring the class reading up. I smiled a shameful smile. Then she said to me, Remember, Missy. You are what you read.

We did end up earning a Book It! Pizza Hut party on the last week of school. We read and ate until we were too sick to read anymore, then we watched old episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy and ate some more. Someone’s mom brought in cupcakes, another brought juice boxes, and Pizza Hut brought boxes of piping hot pepperoni pizza. We felt like royalty.

M.


Trisomy 18 Awareness Day

March 18th is Trisomy 18 Awareness Day. I don’t need to be made aware of Trisomy 18. I was made aware of it in August of 2011. I also don’t think the vast majority of the public needs to be made aware of it. Like a lot of other medical conditions, you don’t really know about Trisomy 18, or its similar conditions, Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 21, unless it comes crashing into your life. But, I do support the Trisomy 18 Foundation. And I do love and admire the people in the world who are out there living with Trisomy 18. And there are people in the world who are out there living with, and caring for those living with, Trisomy 18. So I do find it necessary to educate others on the condition. That’s what I call it, a condition.

Trisomy 18 is a condition caused by an error in cell division, known as meiotic disjunction. When this happens, instead of the normal pair of number 18 chromosome, an extra chromosome 18 results (a triple, hence tri) in the developing baby and disrupts the pattern of development in significant, life-threatening ways, even before birth. A Trisomy 18 error occurs in about 1 of every 2500 pregnancies in the United States, and 1 in 6000 live births. The numbers of total births is much higher because it includes significant numbers of stillbirths that occur in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.

Unlike Down Syndrome, which is also caused by an extra chromosome, the developmental issues caused by Trisomy 18 are associated with medical complications that are potentially life-threatening in the early months and years of life. Studies have shown that only 50% of babies who are carried to term will be born alive, and only 10% of those babies will live to see their first birthday. Most of the babies who survive are girls.

As I mentioned above, there are people living with Trisomy 18. Perhaps one of the better known children living with this condition is one-time Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s daughter, Bella. Bella turns eleven this year. She is a beautiful young lady, with well-equipped parents who have made it their mission to see that she lives a happy and adventure-filled life.

At the risk of being political, I will stop there. As the Santorums and I have little in common, other than having a daughter who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, but please be aware that not all people in this situation, or with babies who have life-altering disabilities, are capable to care for, and provide for, their children in such an amazing way. Just be considerate.

I’ll end with a link to the story that I wrote about our daughter Lydia. I suspect it will tell you all you need to know about our journey. As always, I welcome comments, questions, and thoughtful discussion on any topic I address. But remember, above all else, there are people in the world who are battling things you can’t even conceive of, things you do not know about, things you are not even slightly educated on. Be kind to all you meet.

Lydia’s Story: http://mudseasonreview.com/2018/10/nonfiction-issue-40/

M.