Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

I’m struggling a bit today, y’all. I just read an article about the 1960’s Rankin and Bass classic, “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and I am conflicted. You see I have always held fond memories of this movie, since I was a child. And that’s because my mom watched these movies with all her kids during the holidays, so she was always so happy to see them come on back in the 1980s when I was little. She would be excited and make us some popcorn and we would sit in the low light of the Christmas tree and watch all the Rankin and Bass stop motion movies, as well as this cartoon called “Twas the Night Before Christmas” which I am sure I have talked about before because some of you remember it. It’s about a mouse family who saves Christmas. Anyway, I have fond memories of this Rankin and Bass Classic because of the way it all made me feel, but mainly because of my mom and what we did. I always, in the back of my mind was uneasy about it, but could never say why. Maybe the Abominable snowman, maybe because of the mean other reindeer, but I could never place it. Until this week.

This article I read was mainly about how this little boy, now grown, grew up watching this movie too and it gave him nightmares. Not because the Abominable Snowman tries to kill Rudolph’s parents in front of him, but rather because he identified with Clarice, the Elf who didn’t want to make toys, who instead wanted to be a dentist and was berated by all the other elves. In short, this story is a story about bullies. And sure, Rudolph wins in the end, but holy crap, him and Clarice have to go through a lot to get there. In fact, there are some pretty sad scenes that unfold while it is all happening. Reminiscent, for the man who wrote this article, of being berated and banished from his home for being gay. An all-too familiar sight these days, even with teens. You can read about the gay, homeless teen population here.

I know, I know, why are you being a bummer around Christmas, Missy? Well, to be totally honest I have seen a lot of younger homeless people in the streets this year than ever before and I suspect that a lot of them have a falling out with their parents and end up there. Much like Clarice did.

I’m not saying stop watching this Christmas classic. But I am saying that we need to remember that not all “classics” hold up. And not all people see it the same way we do, and certainly not all kids will. I never identified with Clarice, but I did with Rudolph. I had horrible anxiety as a kid and the thought of something happening to my mother, my only parent, kept me up at night. Thinking back, that is why it never sat well with me, but there are a lot of reasons movies don’t hold up. Which is why I will still watch these movies, but I wouldn’t pass it up for this one:

Oh man! Good stuff.

Enjoy your holiday and remember, there is so much we don’t know, but if we put ourselves in the shoes of others (humans or mice) we can learn a lot.

M.

Christmas Lights! Winter Solstice! Oh My!

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

Christmas 1980-something

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.

A Whole Lot of Decembers

It’s been 13 Decembers since I married the man I didn’t think I’d marry. Not because he was not the man I loved, rather because I never thought I’d get married. Never thought I’d actually be brave enough to go all in, my track record wasn’t stellar before Jerimiah. Just a few loose odds and ends here and there. A couple of overly-confident football players I made out with in the back of someone else’s car in high school. A couple of college girls, shy like me, unsure like me, who I let open a door of possibilities. Then he came along. On our first date I was calm. It was like going out with a friend, because well, he was my friend. Still is, matter of fact, the best one I’ve got. We sat at a table at a steakhouse across the street from the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The place we’d both lived for years, both graduated high school from, both knew inexplicably we would one day leave.

It’s startling sometimes to look back over the last 19 years and see how our lives together have unfolded. To see that we did in fact leave Leavenworth together and in a sense we left those dumb kids back there at that dimly-lit steakhouse table. We changed our outlook. We moved away from that every-present fatalism that encapsulates a prison town like Leavenworth. We branched out. We had new experiences, slowly changed our way of thinking to focus on the positive, the optimistic, the opportunity that that whole wider world gives you if you dare to look.

We made new friends, took new paths, moved around. We went to college together, when we finally decided it was time. Then somewhere along the line we merged bank accounts, we started saying things like, “In ten years…” We made even bigger plans, even bolder career moves, moves that benefitted both of us. Then one day, about five years into our relationship Jerimiah sat me in a chair on Christmas Eve, got down on one knee, the white glow of the tree beside us, and pulled an engagement ring from his pocket. I already knew by that time I would say yes, though I still didn’t know if I’d have the guts to go through with it. One year later, on December 21, 2007, I did go through with it. In a small, one-room church in the middle of the Ozark Mountain wilderness.

Today, as I write this, I’ve been interrupted more than once. I’ve been interrupted by our twelve-year-old son who wants to know if the wi-fi is working for us, because his Chromebook, the one he does all his virtual school work on, is acting weird. I’ve been interrupted by our two dogs, pacing and playfully snapping at each other at my feet. I’ve been interrupted by my rheumatologist calling. By my husband’s phone, a call from this boss, a meeting with the company lawyer, an employee with a problem. This is all to say that where we are now, for as lovely as it is, is not always sunny and warm. But alas, that is life.

There have been dark days. Dark moments. When we watched the doctors load Jackson up into a Life Flight Chopper when he was barely a year old. When we signed the Do Not Resuscitate Order for our daughter nearly a decade ago. When we moved, again and again, leaving people we didn’t want to. When we cried together on the veterinarian’s floor as our first baby, Bentley, slowly slipped from us. And now, in this year full of heartache for our community, our country, our world.

Yes, there have been dark days and sickness to endure, but also there is happiness and health. There is safety, opportunity, growth. There is loyalty. There is love. In all of it, because we said I do.

Happy anniversary, Jerimiah. Thank you for loving me so consistently and so warmly for all these years. For running the lantern over the dark days and for always, always letting me, helping me, curse and cry and laugh when I need to. In the end, there is no one I’d rather do this with than you.

M.

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Structural Racism is a Bitch

A couple of weeks ago Jackson asked about the nutcracker that sits on top of the mantel. I explained that it was a decorative one, not a real one. He asked if we could get a real one and I said yes. So I ordered a real nut cracker from the internets and bought a bag of assorted nuts for him to try his hand at and we had everything ready to go yesterday morning. So while Jackson was finishing up the dishes after breakfast, I grabbed a bowl and went back to the table with the nutcrackers in hand. Jerimiah was sitting there watching as I opened the bag of nuts and poured them in. They were the assorted kind with pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and Brazilian nuts. The kind we both remembered from our childhoods back in the Midwest.

I pulled a walnut out first and cracked it open. Jerimiah said that was his favorite kind, so I used the pick to dig the rest out for him. Then came the almond, then the hazelnut. Then I pulled out the Brazilian nut and I stopped, my hand holding it up in the air when I had a memory blaze across my mind. Jerimiah had the exact same memory I had, even though we lived in two separate places, hundreds of miles away from each other. We looked at the nut, then at each other. We weren’t sure what to say, so Jerimiah spoke first.

“Talk about overt racism,” he said, and I nodded.

The memory that Jerimiah and I share from our separate childhoods is horrific. I’m full of shame just writing about it today, but certainly we are not the only ones who were forced to hear this as children and certainly we can’t shy away from the facts of this here country and the way white people are. The nickname passed down from generation to generation for this particular nut is a “N-word Toe.”

That’s how I knew the nut growing up and I had completely forgotten about that particular part of my childhood Christmases, then there it was, quite suddenly in front of me once again. Jerimiah told me his grandparents called it that. I told him my mother called it that, and so did all her friends. My mother was born in 1944. She was 13 years old before she saw anyone who was not white, only heard about people of color in terms not so polite. The N-word was used regularly during her childhood, on the tobacco farms my grandfather tended and in the rural schools she attended in Platte County, Missouri.

This was a normal way of life, but why this particular nut was nicknamed that I do not know. I refuse to know, actually. I refuse to Google it, give it any validation. I have suspicions of course, but we will leave them where they lie. All I know is a pit came up in my stomach when I saw that nut again after all these years and I didn’t know what to do. Neither did Jerimiah, so we did what we thought was right. We explained all of it to Jackson.

Jackson sat and listened intently, but when we shared the nickname his jaw dropped. I wasn’t sure how to take that. First I thought how good it is that he’s astounded to hear such nonsense, then I wondered if I am shielding him too much from the way structural racism, including covert and over racism, works. I wondered whether we need to do a deep dive into how just 20 years ago this was the way of the world, and explain in some parts of the country, in some small towns, in some homes, homes of family members we know and love, this is still the way of the world. I was at a crossroads and I guess I still am.

I’m not incredibly sure why I’m sharing this today. I could have kept this a secret. I think, however, that shameful secrets can bog you down. And I know, like with most of my writing, that I hope to evoke some kind of social change by sharing. But that’s at the macro level I suppose. Quite specifically, most days I feel a large responsibility toward others. Toward validating the lives of people who carry shame from their families and their childhoods and who are still working and learning to get things right, as well as toward the people who are oppressed and hurt by people like me. That’s a tall order, I know. But one I will keep plugging at for the rest of my life.

M.

Little Plans, Big City

There are normally a ton of things to do around Atlanta at Christmastime and last year we did a lot of them. Last year we went to the Christkindl Market. We rode Macy’s Pink Pig, which is a thing all Atlantans have to do at the holiday, saw the World’s Largest Cruise Ship made from gingerbread, drove through neighborhoods with amazing Christmas light displays, saw Santa, drank hot cocoa, and went ice skating atop the Ponce City Market. And of course we are so glad we did that for our first Christmas in Atlanta, because our second one is shaping up to be pretty boring.

My mom is in town, which is helpful especially for Jackson who always likes to have visitors around the holidays. When Jackson was a baby we told our family that we would not be traveling for Christmas and we have stayed true to our word. A kid wants to be home for Santa to visit each year and as long as Santa visits us (he still does) then we are at our home. We also said anyone is welcome to come spend Christmas with us because of that rule we live by and many times we have had visitors. Mainly grandparents, and it has been very nice. Of course this year is different. We can’t have a house full of people this year so my mom is here and that is enough for us.

We also can’t go and do all the fun things that a big city offers at Christmastime because the big city isn’t offering it this year and even if it was we would not go because global pandemic. Still, there are ways to have a big city Christmas in little ways.

First, we snatched up some tickets to the drive-thru light display at Six Flags! We are excited about this one because we went to one at the Charlotte Speedway a couple of Christmases ago and Jackson really liked it. Of course he was 10 back then, but still, we hope Jackson and Grandma will be amazed at the sheer magnitude of the display! The running joke in our house this whole pandemic has been, “What do you want to do today?” (The correct answer is not Six Flags.) And then someone says, “Six Flags!” And someone else says, “Dead.” Cause yeah, if you go to Six Flags you probably gonna get the COVID. But next week I get to say, “What do you want to do today?” And someone can say, “Six Flags!” and someone else can say, “Let’s do it!” It’s the little things, y’all.

Then there is the Ponce City Market. This is one cool and happening place, too cool for us, honestly. But we happened upon it last year and spent a whole evening there ice skating, playing mini golf on the rooftop amusement park, seeing Santa, and eating a ton of good food. While all those things can’t happen this year, we can don our best Christmas sweaters and head up for some pictures outside. In fact, they decorate so well the pics could work as your Christmas cards! There is one big neon sign that we particularly like to have our picture made with as it says, “Merry Christmas You Filthy Animal!” Ha! Yeah, we’re doing it!

Next up is a drive-in movie. Now we are on the fence about this one just because we aren’t sure how easy it will be for Mama to see/hear the movie so we can’t decide if this is a whole-family thing or a Jerimiah and Missy celebrate their anniversary as best they can thing. We are gonna wait to see what Mama decides on, but we are hoping she gives it a whirl. It’s a double-feature, “Elf” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Christmas lights! Did I mention Christmas lights! There are always more lights to see. People take the lights real serious like around here and there are some magnificent houses to drive by while we eat popcorn or ice cream, depending on the weather!

Lastly, there is the fun thing we do each year where we spend a couple of days baking treats then taking them to friends’ houses as a surprise. Elfing, as we call it. There will be some elfing this year, though socially-distanced porch drop-offs are all the rage.

There you have it, our Christmas plans in miniature. Little plans, big city.

M.

False Positive

Well it happened, it was bound to right? All these COVID tests we have been taking out of precaution when we go somewhere or have visitors here. We got a false positive. Let me first say that we absolutely trust science, we trust the process, we trust the testing, we also know that human error exists and we think that is what happened here, but I don’t want anyone to read this and think I’m spiraling into some kind of conspiracy theorist who believes that all the positive are false. Uh, no. It just happens occasionally, we all know this, the experts say it, and it happened to us. More specifically it happened to Jerimiah.

We went to Kansas to get my mom last week so obviously we were all tested before we left and she was tested in Kansas. My mom got a negative, I got a negative, Jackson got a negative, and Jerimiah got a positive. We were all, what now? See the thing is we don’t go anywhere. And when we do go, say to Target to get cozy winter socks or to Kroger to get milk, we wear a mask, we stay six-feet away from people, some of us say in a loud voice to people who aren’t wearing their masks correctly, “Excuse me, hi, it needs to cover your nose too!” We don’t eat in restaurants (we haven’t since March 10th, yes I remember the exact date because I am missing my favorite burrito from my favorite Mexican joint and I refuse to have it delivered), we don’t go to gyms and bars (we haven’t in like literal years), we all work from home (we have since March), and we don’t go bowling or get tattoos, which seems to be an important thing here in Atlanta. Having said all that we are relatively safe and cautious.

Now the week before Jerimiah got the positive he did give blood, which was out of the ordinary for his normal day. He was also antibody tested and it came back negative, so he knew at that point he had never had the virus. Fast-forward a few days and he gets the positive. So the only thing we could think was maybe he picked it up while he was giving blood, but he said it was so sterile and clean in there and everyone was in several masks and he was like, “Nah, shit nah dog.” So there we were. Wondering how one of us had this positive and worried that his symptoms would start for him soon.

The day he got his results he put a mask on and didn’t take it off for a few days. We pushed our timeline back to get my mom, and the next day he went to get another test at the same location. But let’s talk about the location.

The first day we all went to get tested the location we went to was a new location to us. It was a new testing location and the place was pretty hectic. In fact, it was so hectic that at one point a woman with a tablet came over and placed a testing bag on our car and said to Jerimiah, “You’re Henry, right?” And he started to roll his window down more to say no, when another woman walked over and said, they are fine, they are the Goodnight family, go, go.” And ushered us through the line. We weren’t really sure what happened, but when she said our last name we figured she knew what was up.

As we were waiting to get our swabs, we saw a lot of dysfunction, the most we have ever seen at a testing site. At one point a person working almost got hit by a car because they were talking to someone else and just blindly walking through the line of cars. Then a cooler with tests toppled over and lay there for a bit, until someone noticed and ran over and started picking them up. In short, we were like uhh, maybe we don’t go to this testing location again? But we never thought we would get a false positive.

So how do we know it was a false positive? Well, we followed false positive protocol. The day he got the positive the health department called him to make sure he knew. He said he did, but that he was headed back to get another test because he had no symptoms and he hasn’t been exposed by anyone. They asked why he got tested then and he told them about the planned trip. The woman on the phone said for him to get tested at the same location, which he had already done and if that was a negative, wait a few days to see if symptoms posed up, then proceed with caution. Basically to treat it as a positive since it was “inconclusive.” So he got the second test back and it was negative. Then he started using our shared bathroom again and he took the mask off, but you know me, I wasn’t satisfied.

So the next day he went to get a different test. The test we took at the testing site was an antigen test. This new test, the kind you overnight to some lab in California, was the other kind of test. Basically it looks for other things. I would explain it all here, but I don’t want to bore you. If you are interested in the different tests you can get more information here.

Then we waited. Four days later the test came back negative. Which means, by the Health Department standards, the first test was a false positive. We won’t know for sure of course, until he gets another antibody test, but the two negatives right after the positive, the two separate tests, and no symptoms leads up to believe something happened on the testing end that first time. Like maybe Henry is walking around thinking he is negative, but he’s actually positive. That’s in fact, the scariest part.

So there you have it, the false positive. We have a friend here in Georgia that also had one last week and I’m concerned that maybe the testing centers and labs are a little overwhelmed right now, but it will all shake out okay. I do believe.

Be safe, y’all! And please trust the science, everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

M.

Celebrating During COVID

Our wedding anniversary is coming up fast, Monday the 21st in fact, and I keep thinking back to all the other ones we’ve had and well, this year will be somewhat different. Sometimes my mom is here for Christmas, sometimes she is not. On the years she is here, Jerimiah and I usually do something fun. A couple of times we even went out all night, got a fancy hotel room in the city and everything. But this year, considering we don’t eat at restaurants, stay at hotels, fly on planes, or do anything that would even look remotely like “fun” we have to make do with what we can do.

That got me to thinking: This isn’t the first celebration this year that has looked different. I mean we all had birthdays this year, we’ve had holidays, spring break, summer break, fall break. All of us have had those special days that we wish we could celebrate the way we always do, but we just can’t. Some of you did, and that was a risk you felt comfortable taking. Some of you got very sick because of it, some of you saw family members get sick because of it, some of you were lucky, took the precautions, did what was best for you, and made it back home okay. Me? I’m risk-adverse for the most part and I understand that there is always next year and if there isn’t, it won’t matter much anyway, will it?

I think that is what is bothering me today. What the root of this post is: It’s this idea that this year, these holidays and celebrations, can’t suffer because we are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. This fear that people have that if they don’t have a large family Christmas, then what?! Then what? I’ll tell you what, no one gets sick and dies. Or no one gets sick and has lasting medical problems. You don’t put your loved ones at risk to see them open their presents in person.

Yes, that’s what is bothering me. This sadness I have knowing I can’t celebrate my wedding anniversary with my husband the way I’d like this year, but ultimately knowing that it’s okay cause we will have more, but more importantly I don’t like the way that some people are short-sighted in that sense.

My MIL lost a good friend the other day. It wasn’t COVID related, but it was unexpected. She was a lovely woman with a kind family and the kind of community-support that showed how loved she was. And losing someone is hard. So hard. And living in this world that we live in and losing someone is even harder. And in the end, I can’t shake the thought that there is real death, destruction, sickness, sadness going on in this world, and if you can’t put your holiday plans on hold for one year to help out in a tiny way, then what are you actually doing? What is actually going through your head?

I want to say this is only people who aren’t able to think critically, but I gotta tell you, I know some really smart, educated people, people with Dr. in front of their names, who still think COVID-19 either isn’t real or isn’t something THEY need to worry about. (I know I don’t need to tell you they are white males, but I figured I’d throw it in just to make sure you know. )

Look, this year for my wedding anniversary we are taking the family to see Christmas lights in a drive-through display. Yay! Maybe we will swing through The Varsity and grab burgers before we head home, maybe we will go to Raising Canes?! Who knows! The possibilities are LIMITED! It will not be like it has been the last 12 times we have celebrated and it will not be this way next year, but ONLY if we ALL get our shit together and start trying to do our small parts to make a big impact. Only then will we be able to celebrate next year, do things we want to do, go on vacations again, play sports, go to musicals on Broadway. Oh how I miss thee, NYC!

Please do your part, y’all. Wear a mask. Stay six feet away from people. Wash your hands. Get vaccinated if it is offered to you, and if you live in Georgia VOTE like you have never voted before!

Stay safe and sane, y’all!

M.

Capital B-Bitch

Listen Sam’s Club, I don’t need your shit right now. This whole email titled, “You Have Three Days Left to Save!” is pissing me off. I certainly have more than three days left to save and even if I didn’t have just three days left to save, maybe I don’t want to be reminded. Furthermore, perhaps I don’t even want to save with you. Firstly, you’re straight outta toilet paper right now. B: You are being a capital B-Bitch sending me threatening emails about saving money and 3. Who do you even think you are Sam’s Club? Do you think you’re Target? Cause you’re not and I’m not even 100% sure I would let Target talk to me that way. I mean, it depends on the time of year and how big the sale is, but still.

Frankly, Imma head on back to firstly. Firstly, you are straight outta toilet paper and you have been for weeks now and I don’t know how this keeps happening. One minute I’m there buying my allotted “One pack per customer” and there are literally about 15000 packages and then two days later when I get an email about $5 off protein shakes so I make a pick-up order and decide to see if you have toilet paper you got none. Zero. Nada. Am I out of toilet paper? No, I just bought a 48-roll pack two days before. But I can only get a 48-roll pack on average every six weeks from you and that’s bullshit. You’re Sam’s Club are you not? I can see Kroger or Publix or even Target being out of tp, but Sam’s Club? With all that audacity you have, nah G it don’t add up.

So instead of having the shit I need in stock (maybe I planned to give tp away as Christmas gifts?!) you instead send me threatening emails talking ’bout “YOU ONLY HAVE THREE DAYS TO SAVE” and do you know what you want me to save on?! Let’s take a gander, shall we!

Audio projectors! Robot vacuums! 70 inch televisions (I do want that one)! A new mattress! Toothbrushes! Toothbrushes?! And a playhouse (that’s legit though, I don’t need it but it’s cute)! I see you now Sam’s Club, fuck toilet paper and wine, you are threatening me with toothbrushes! It’s like you don’t even know me and that’s a damn shame cause I’ve been shopping with you for like 20 years now, you Capital-B Bitch.

Okay, wow. I didn’t know I had so much anger wrapped up in this teeny, tiny, pale, adorable body that I inhabit, but I do. And it seems all directed at Sam’s Club.

Sorry. I am so sorry. To you all, not to Sam’s Club.

M.

The Air Up There is Fried

While I was in Kansas last week I heard an awful lot about air fryers. Seems all my friends and family have them. One of my mom’s friends was even trying to convince me on the phone to buy one! “You outta get you one, Missy! They are great!” Well, you know how I feel about small appliances, y’all. If you don’t know this: I HATE THEM. That is legit. Matter fact I went to Target and bought a toaster the other day for my mom’s visit, then told her to take it with her when she leaves and give it to someone. I don’t want a damn toaster. Here’s the thing, I don’t want anything that my oven, stove, or decade-old crockpot can do so that eliminates essentially all kitchen gadgets.

I don’t need an Instant Pot, I have a crock pot and a large ceramic pot and a wok that fits snuggly into my wok rack on my gas stovetop.

I don’t need an air fryer because (and hear me out) an air fryer works by a convection method. So does my oven.

Now don’t think I just blatantly said no. In fact, I Googled this air fryer thing, just like I Googled the Instant Pot thing. I figured out how they worked and the truth is, in the case of the air fryer, we don’t eat fried foods. So if I were to buy one I would just feel compelled to start eating French fries and onion rings, which are not part of our normal meals now. I would hop on board with all these foods, the ones I think we can all agree are unhealthy regardless of how you cook them, and I don’t need that in my life.

My mom’s friend was all, “Shrimp! You can fry shrimp!” And I was like ohhh, that sounds good. Then I realized I never fry shrimp anyway. I bake it or boil it. So I don’t even need to eat fried shrimp, but it did certainly sound appealing for a minute. Besides the fact that people are still adding oil to the air fryers, because as previously stated, the name is a misnomer. It doesn’t actually fry anything, it cooks just like a convection oven. (Throws hands in the air) Maybe it’s faster?!

Listen, I don’t know where my hatred of kitchen gadgets came from. Probably from my desire to have as little as possible on my countertops. I can’t stand a kitchen that has things all over the counter. And I don’t like it when things beep at me to tell me I’m done. It’s like this rice cooker I got when I was way into sushi making. I thought, oh this will make life easier. Well, sushi making is hard as shit, y’all and now my rice cooker sits under a cabinet never to be seen or heard from again.

Oh hey, how about that time I bought a dehydrator because I wanted dried bananas. It took like 12 hours to dehydrate five bananas and then Jackson and I ate them all in one afternoon. Hmpf. Pass. Now that dehydrator has a better home, with a friend who hopefully uses it more than once a year.

Like most of these posts lately this one has no point except to say I appreciate all the people wanting my life to be better. I get it, trust me. It’s like therapy and me. I love therapy and I’m always trying together people to get their own therapists because it is so helpful. You love your kitchen gadgets and you want me to love them too. How about this, when y’all get you a therapist, I’ll get me an InstaPot. Or maybe a toaster I won’t give away.

Deal?

M.

Walking in a Wicker Wonderland

We picked my mom up from Kansas last week to spend Christmas with us. Long story that I will delve into at a later date, but part of the pick-up involved a chair trade. More specifically a rocking chair trade. My mom has this vintage 1940s (??) wicker rocking chair that needs some love. It is small and uncomfortable for her, but it is a piece I remember from my childhood. Meanwhile I have this large, upholstered, swivel rocker/recliner that she loves to sit on when she comes to visit so we traded. We took her the big, plush chair and I took the little rocker so I could refinish it. It needs some love.

Now, I don’t want to complain or anything, I wanted this rocking chair, but as soon as I saw it I thought oh no, this is out of my wheelhouse. Particularly because I have never refurbished a chair at all, let alone a rocking chair made out of material I know very little about, and in need of new springs. The seat on this beast is old-timey and springy and there are three sections that have to be upholstered. It’s not a simple, spray paint it all type deal.

Meanwhile last night when I could not fall asleep I was trying to find this particular rocking chair on the internets and had no luck. Had some close calls, but no dice. But I did learn way more about wicker furniture than I ever wanted to know and for that I am ungrateful.

Hmpf. This rocking chair might just be scrapped for wood. Because wicker is made of wood. I think. Because it is really just the way the material is connected that makes it wicker. Or maybe it’s rattan not wood. Maybe it’s an outdoor piece someone made an indoor piece. Maybe it’s a pain in my ass already.

I’ll let you know how it goes. If it goes.

M.

Target, I Still Love You

Dear Target, I love you. I always will. But you severely disappointed me the other day. Listen, I won’t get too far into it, but let’s just say Jerimiah and I went Christmas shopping. We spent about $250 and had several coupons. One of which was 10% off our total purchase. We also get 5% off and we had a $10 off. So, let’s do quick math. $250 minus $10 equals $240. Ten percent off $240 is $24. That leaves us with $216. Five percent off of $216 is I don’t know exactly, let’s say $10. Which would mean our grand total was $206. Only our grand total was $230, so there was some kind of problem.

Jerimiah figured it out quickly (math guy) he scanned receipt and was all, “Oh, the 10% off coupon didn’t get scanned.” As those show on the receipt so you can see how much you actually paid on each line. So we headed over to customer service, that’s when things got hairy.

Looooong story short, they didn’t believe us, even though we had the receipt and all the coupons. They couldn’t do the math. And by they I mean the nice young lady who was trying to help us and the rude young man who kept trying to “help her” and was making it all worse. Like if the man had let the woman do her thing she would have got there, but he was telling her we were wrong. So they finally called “Nick” over, who we hoped was the store manager, but alas no and he was even less helpful. He was just stood behind them making big eyes like he didn’t pass a seventh grade math test. Really, I expect more from Target. We weren’t at Walmart for fuck’s sake.

So the woman hastily just said here, and handed us $25 in cash. I said thank you and we left, but it didn’t feel right. We couldn’t figure out why, finally we realized it was because they thought we were scammers and we don’t want anyone to think that of us. So we got home and Jerimiah did the math on his adding machine, with the tape, and I wrote a strongly-worded email to corporate about the “guys” that helped us and said the woman was nice. Then after Jerimiah did the math he realized we were correct, all expect one thing: we had a $2 off manufacture coupon we didn’t know about on Target Circle so technically we were only owed $23.92 or something like that.

So what do you think we did? Yeah, we went back up to Target, not kidding, and tried to return $2 and showed the nice young woman the tape from the adding machine. Of course she wouldn’t take the money back, said she was glad it worked out, etc. and we felt better. Though to be fair, Jerimiah was in his Grinch sweater, so he’s memorable, and I think our photos are probably pinned up in the back with Karen haircuts photoshopped on them, but I’m okay with that. Cause we did what was right.

That is all. I still love you Target, but fix your coupon system, particularly Target Circle, this wasn’t my first problem with that one.

M.

Ps… I meant to snap a pic of the tape from adding machine, but when we got home my broken sauceboat had arrived and you know I was tail spinning at that point… (face palm). It wasn’t my best day.

Starbucks Coffee

What did the coffee say to the bean? Nothing, it was grounded! Hahahahaha! I have something serious to talk to you guys about: Why does the Starbucks coffee at the store hit differently than the Starbucks coffee you buy at bulk at Sam’s Club when you just went in to see if they had in toilet paper in stock, but you left with $489 worth of pots and pans, Christmas decorations, Spanish-style rice, and Starbucks coffee? This is both a real thing that I do regularly and a burnin’ question that I have about coffee. So much so that I Googled: “Why does Starbucks coffee…” and I started to type “hit better at the store than at home” but was sidetracked by the things other people Google about Starbucks coffee. Here are a few:

  • Why does Starbucks coffee make me poop?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste burnt? (Which led me to is it “burned” or “burnt” and that’s a whole other post)
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste so good?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee have so much caffeine?

Bingo! I think that last one is an answer to the question I seek. I suddenly realized that when I have had a horrible night of tossing and turning why I HAVE to go to Starbucks to get coffee because the at-home Sam’s Club bag just ain’t doing it for me, I think it has to do with caffeine and that is when I found this bitch! That link there is a complete guide to all the beverages at Starbucks and there caffeine levels and DID you know that there is a class-action lawsuit against Starbucks because people think they are cheating them on caffeine? What the what? I digress.

When I go to the store I order a Nitro Cold Brew. Sometimes a pumpkin (if it’s in season), sometimes a salted caramel, sometimes just a regular old cold brew. But the caffeine levels in those drinks are wildly different. And all of them have more caffeine than my regular old ground shit in a bag at home. I know because I found this bitch! That’s caffeine levels from all your favorite drinks from all over (even Dunkin’ which y’all know I love so much I have a Dunkin’ ornament on my Christmas tree, along with all my Starbucks ones). And let me just say this, if you really wanna get jacked, you’re gonna need to start ordering a grande blonde from Starbucks. Woo-Wee! Get on that girl and get on her fast! She has more caffeine than a “Bang!” Energy drink and I don’t even know what that is, but with a name like “Bang!” it has to be good! (Meaning really bad for you.)

I assume you’re impatient with me now, but we are used to that right? I know I am used to you being impatient with me, so much so in fact that I can breeze right through your subtle annoyances now, and tell you this: Starbucks coffee hits different at the store because the caffeine levels are crazy good–or bad– depending on how you look at it. And now I’m headed to Starbucks to pick me up a blonde so I can write about 15,000 more words today!

Bang, bang, y’all!

M.

There’s No Place Like Home

Meaning, there’s no place like where your home is. The home that has your actual shit in it. Your bed. Your favorite toilet. You hidden stash of chocolate. But alas, for the next 24 hours my “home” will be in a rented Chevy Suburban since Jerimiah, Jackson, the dogs, and I are leaving tonight to drive to Kansas to get my mom, to then turn right around and drive back. Twenty-four hours of being in the car with gas and bathroom breaks with my kid, my husband, my dogs, and my mom (for 12 hours). This should be fine, totally fine.

Listen, we haven’t seen my mom in over a year and she wanted to come visit for Christmas and while she is mentally well, she is physically not able to make it around an airport without help. Plus, she would have to fly into, literally, the world’s busiest airport in December. So that’s a no. Plus, who is flying right now? And if you are, why? That’s all. Why? It’s bad enough to have to chart out the gas stations on the way to Kansas and back that you think might be the cleanest (that is to say all the Quik Trips) but how could you navigate a small space like an airplane and not constantly be bothered by the fact that you are sitting so close to other people. Like those people who flew from Mainland to Hawaii against doctor’s orders because they had all tested positive the day before but I mean, fuck everyone else on the plane, amiright?

So we are loading up today to make the trek and hope to be home by Saturday evening. We are taking the dogs because otherwise we would have to leave them outside all night (with the doors to the screened porch open of course, for shelter) because Winnie hasn’t learned to not chew up all our shit when we leave them alone for an extended period of time. We would board them overnight but Winnie, being a quarantine puppy, isn’t well socialized with people. That is to say people terrify her. She shakes and hides. So there is that. As you can see our dogs rule our actual lives.

We have all been tested. We have quarantined since tests and we are not making stops, going inside people’s houses, etc. We might make a couple of driveway stops to say hello to my sister and best friend, who are also not infected with the virus, with our masks on, no hugging, to say hello. Otherwise, nah dog. There are too many variables and too many people have not been tested and are around people who are not tested and who are regularly not taking this seriously. This, we have deduced, is the safest way.

So wish me luck. Or don’t, doesn’t matter much to me either way, but I do hope that you are wearing your mask, avoiding excessive and unnecessary travel (do as I say, not as I do) and are considering getting the Jolene Vaccine (The Moderna One) in the spring when it’s safe to do so.

Love to you all!

M.

My First Reading

I was invited to a reading the other day via Zoom for one of my new pieces that was published. This particular piece was published with Welter at the University of Baltimore and while this was not my first time being asked to do a reading, this was the first time I said yes and it was two-fold. The first reason is because this piece, I thought, was very important. Socially it was important and it meant a lot to me. You can read the piece yourself here: Welter Online. The second reason was that because I am now in an MFA program, I should be reading my work when asked. I need the practice and truth be told it was on Zoom so there wasn’t high risk. Worst case I freak out and “go dark” and blame my internet. Win-win.

But the fact is I did it and I am proud of myself and I had a really nice time. The people at Welter were incredibly nice, albeit overwhelmed and overworked (they had over 1200 submissions to wade through) and now that I have done a semester at Ponder Review (The W’s lit mag) I get it. 1200 Submissions must be a nightmare! At the same time, my piece was one of like 15 to make it to publication out of those 1200 submissions, so… I am thankful for them.

It was a nice feeling and not just because I was accepted and liked and my piece made people cry, which is always a bonus when you feel like you wrote a highly emotional piece and you see people respond, but also because I did the reading, I didn’t “go dark,” my husband and son got to watch it, and I had a really nice time, met some new friends (and got to read with one of my friends I met at The W this semester!) and gained some valuable experience. It was not what I anticipated when I spent the day, nay the weekend, envisioning all the horrific outcomes. So there you have it. I survived. I wasn’t too scared. I was calm and I had a nice time.

I am always thankful for people who give my work (and me) time and space to be read and heard. So thank you Welter, for holding space for all of us the other night and thank you for being part of this thing we all do, for helping eager writers and for putting goodness into the world. The other readers that night knocked my socks off as well (especially Josh, William, Stephen, and Shannon, if you get a chance read all the pieces over at Welter Online they truly were fantastic!) There was not one piece I didn’t emotionally connect to at the reading, and many of them were pretty funny to boot! It was an amazing evening.

If you’re at all interested in going to, watching, or participating in readings I highly recommend it. It is a nice way to save soul points inside your heart for a rainy day.

Remember to support local artists of all kinds.

Be safe and sane.

M.