I’m working on my thesis this week, in case you can’t tell by the title. It’s a collection of short stories and it’s the first time I’ve really tried my hand at fiction and it is tough. Really tough. I have been reading all these great short stories for like a year now by famous writers, no-so-famous writers, friends, colleagues professors, all of it. I’m taking it all in and today I had a breakdown, err, breakthrough, breakthrough. Sorry, I’m so used to writing, “Today I had a breakdown.” I had a BREAKTHROUGH!
I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago that I thought was utter nonsense, actually just me working on some childhood bullshit and it was time to send my third set of thesis pages to my advisor so I sent that bullshit in with a note: “This is pretty much bullshit. But you wanted something.” My advisor wrote me back something like, “This is great. Let’s talk!” So we talked. And she liked it. She liked it so much that she said something about it being the “anchor” story and I almost screamed a little because I didn’t think I’d ever write a story that might carry a collection and then there is this and the more I thought about it the more I realized that it probably is the anchor story, and the title story of the collection, and holy shit it’s all the theme for the whole collection and what do I do now?!
Then as breakthroughs go, I had another one. They come in succession in case you didn’t know because it has yet to happen to you, and in this succession I saw very clearly the ending image for my thesis and it’s marvelous, just marvelous, only now the problem is that I have to write it. And my advisor has to think it’s doesn’t suck all that much. Then I have to defend it all of course, which makes me sick to my stomach, but this is not my first rodeo, so I know it’ll be fine.
So like usual I have no real point with this post other than to say, things are looking up. And last week, they were not looking up, and remind you that this is life, up and down, down and up. I hope this is an up week for you too, but if it isn’t then next week surely will be!
Well I did it, I wrote my first book review and it wasn’t too bad! I mean it was horrible on account of how stressed I was about getting it right, about doing good for the book (which I LOVED) and all the things, but you know, it was good in the end. While I was writing the review last month Jackson asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was writing a book review. When he looked confused at me I explained that my professor knew someone who needed a book review and the book was about The Ozarks, where we lived for ten years, where Jackson was born actually, and she thought of me. That I had been nervous but that in the end my professor told me to, “Be brave!” and I took her advice. And now here I was stressing about this review, even though the book was great, full of history and funny anecdotes and deep, deep research on the place we loved/hated to live. He looked at me, shrugged and said, “Oh so you wrote a book report. It’s no big deal, Mommy. You’ll get an A.”
I hope I got an A.
You can read the review at the University of Mississippi Press’ book page (published with the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger) and you can buy the book here if you want to go on a wild ride.
Remember to support local, indie publishers and booksellers. And remember to Be BRAVE!
This year has been tough on the old psyche. I’m not 100% sure why, but I think a lot of it has to do with the way that Jerimiah and I spent last year growing and changing. We both opened ourselves up to seeing the world from other’s people’s perspectives. We decided to get very serious about anti-racism, often holding our friends and family accountable in a truly uncomfortable, but necessary way. We were the most political we’ve ever been and it showed. We realized the sort of people we want to be and the sort of people we want to surround ourselves with and unfortunately that means leaving some people and opening ourselves up to new ones. It has been tough, really tough. When basically one whole side of your family either unfriends you or unfollows you from FB, well, you know you’re doing something right! Growing and changing and holding people accountable. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
But all this has really done a number on us mentally and emotionally. Like sometimes we just look at each other and sigh because really, what is there to say? We know who we are, where we stand, what we expect from people, grown adults and our own kid, our parents, our siblings, extended family and our friends, and if they can’t or won’t live up to those standards, well there’s no way we can help, we’ve been lowering our standards for too long. Then there’s the fact that we live hundreds of miles away from the people we care about and for the last decade at least we have spent considerable time trying to stay connected. We were always the ones traveling, even with a baby, then a toddler, then a kid. We were always the ones calling and texting, inviting them to holidays and trying to get everyone together in the summer, well until recently. Honestly keeping tabs on everyone, trying so hard to stay connected when we are so far away from them, it really gets tiring. Y’all know this. We know this. So we are taking a break. Which means it will get worse before it gets better.
To top it off this is my last “real” semester in grad school. Next semester all I have is thesis and if you have never had a “real” last semester of grad school let me liken it to, oh what shall I liken it to? Dog shit? Horse shit? Oh I know, do you remember when you were a senior in high school and the “senior-tis” hit you hard right in the face? Like you could see the finish line. You could see the pot of gold. You could see your dumb, overcrowded state school in the horizon with all the beer that you could handle and you wanted so badly to be there you stopped sort of caring about anything else, eyes on the future instead? Freedom. Yeah, I’m there now, only grades still count and I won’t actually be done with my terminal degree until I finish this damn semester. Bleh.
And for the final cherry on top! Are you ready?! Jerimiah has been offered a new position in a totally different part of the country than we have ever lived before. Sigh. It’s really all you can do sometimes.
But as luck would have it our favorite time of year is rolling around! Christmastime! Jackson came inside a month ago when my mom was visiting and she had just picked up a can of smell-good stuff and sprayed it without paying attention to the scent and it happened to be “Christmas Magic”and Jackson came inside and was all, “OHHHHH, it smells like Christmas! I love it!” Then he went into a deep dive about how freaking excited he is this year for Christmas and he doesn’t know why.
I know why. The same reason Jerimiah and I are excited. A reprieve. A rest. Time together just the three of us, to relax, recharge, and reflect. To do puzzles at the kitchen island and watch Christmas movies. To build Legos and model cars. To zoom Hot Wheels through the Christmas village. To plan how we want to decorate the tree and which new snow globe we will buy. It’s the baking and the giving, oh he loves the giving! He likes the getting too, make no mistake, but he loves to bake all day the Sunday before Christmas and run around the cul-de-sac passing out treats and gifts. Mini apple pies for Mr. Charlie. A giant bone for Cookie, the neighbor’s chocolate lab. A Korean pear in return from Mrs. Kim. He loves it all.
Santa Claus still visits us too, but you already know that. You already know we plan to let that Christmas magic always flow through him and hopefully one day when he’s older, in college, or a single guy living on his own, or with his own children, he will be able to summon that spirit for himself too. Even when he least expects it, but so desperately needs it.
So yeah, things are freaking tough right now, but there is an end in sight. It’s so near I can almost taste it, and it tastes like pumpkin pie!
This morning turned out to be one of this mornings where you are reminded that you are human, that other people are human, and that as a parent, you are doing the best you can, and so are your kids. Jackson was all packed and ready to go on his trip this weekend for the Technology Student Association, when I kissed him goodbye and told him to have a great day. Then Jerimiah was headed to the office for an in-person meeting, I swear he only has to go in when there is something chaotic afoot, and he asked me if I wanted coffee because he was going to stop by Starbucks because duh.
Side Note: Our favorite coffee here is a little, local shop called The Corner Cup but it’s on Main Street and they are filming a movie (The Out-Laws for Netflix) on Main Street so we’ve been avoiding it, but then I found out Pierce Brosnan was in it along with that guy from Pitch Perfect, you know the guy he was in The Righteous Gemstone too, and now I kinda wanna go check it out, but that’s neither here nor there.
Okay back on track, Missy!
Jerimiah takes Jackson to school and on the way Jackson orders our Starbucks so it’s ready for Jerimiah to pick up after he drops him off. So he does and as he is headed to grab said Starbucks Jackson texts and is all, “Where is my Covid form?” Sc, sc, screech! So because we live in the time of Covid, there was a parent form to fill out that basically said I know we live in the time of Covid and still I am allowing my child to be in the care of his school district on this trip and if my child were to get Covid, I would not place blame on the school system. Okay, Jerimiah signed the form last night and handed it to Jackson who also had to sign it and told him to stick it in his bag when he was done. Guess which step he didn’t do?
So Jerimiah calls me just as I’m texting him to bring me a yummy bakery item too because it’s Friday and I can handle it. He’s all,
“Is there a Covid form on the kitchen island?”
“You need this, yeah?”
“Yes. And the coffee is ready and I have a meeting at nine.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I dunno. The Audi needs gas and I won’t have time to stop at the gas station, Starbucks, and the school.”
“Can you scan this Covid form?”
“No, he said he needs it.”
“Tell me what you want me to do.”
“Go get the coffee.”
So I load up the dogs into the Beetle Bug because we can’t leave them unattended, you know on account of the Oreo Situation. Oh wait, I haven’t told y’all about the Oreo Situation. Shit. Don’t worry about it, Duke is fine. He didn’t even get his stomach pumped he vomited it all up on the way to the emergency vet. Kind of like me and that time I tried to do 18 shots of tequila for my 18th birthday. Moving on…
So as Jerimiah headed back to the house to get the form, Jackson texted again and was all,
“Ohhh, I left my watch at home.”
Normally this would be no big deal but “my watch” is an Apple Watch and the way he communicates with me when he “can’t” communicate with me, ya dig? Like when he’s in class, or in this case of this weekend, when he’s 330 miles away in a conference and I get the urge to check in on him, at least he can give me a thumbs up that he got the message from his watch and I know he’s alive. Listen, I’m not proud of my worry and anxiety, but we all make do okay?
So Jerimiah gets back to the house before I have even coaxed Winnie into the Beetle Bug. She hates the Beetle Bug and that makes sense, it’s a little car and she’s not a little dog, she’s more an Audi Q7 dog and she knows it and we know it, but what can you do? So I have the Covid form and I’m begging Winnie to get into the Beetle Bug when Jerimiah pulls in the carport and is all,
“Well he forget his watch too.”
“OMIGOD! THIS IS A CLEAR SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE THAT HE IS TOO YOUNG TO BE TAKING OFF WITH SCHOOL TO GOD KNOWS WHERE TO DO GOD KNOWS WHAT!”
I may have overreacted. To be fair, I still did not have my coffee and at this point I did not know if I would ever have it again.
So I go inside to look for his watch while Jerimiah gets the dogs into the Audi, which was no problem because of their aforementioned bias against the Beetle Bug, and then he comes inside and knows right where the watch is and I want to scream, but instead he’s all,
“Why don’t you just come with me?”
At the school we see Jackson walking aimlessly around with his suitcase while his classmates are either: loading the bus or on the phone with their own parents trying to figure out how to get the damn Covid letter that they forgot. To be fair we just got the Covid letter yesterday, so that’s on the teachers. I’m texting him that we are behind the bus. And he’s all,
“Where are you?”
“WE ARE BEHIND THE BUS.”
He runs over all frantic and I give him the form and his watch and the dogs whine because at this point we had to roll all the windows up in the car because there was a Great Dane crossing the street and Duke lost his shit and the Great Dane’s mom gave me a glare like I need to control my dogs and BITCH WHO ARE YOU?!
Then Jackson is about to run off and I say wait, let me get a picture of you and he’s all,
“Oh my gosh, they are LOADING the BUS!”
And at the same time Jerimiah and I go,
“Oh, wow, wow, wow. Oh no. Attitude, bruh.”
Then Jackson is all,
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. This was just all my fault and it’s a hectic day…”
And we are like,
“Dude, it was a mistake. It’s okay, things like this happen. We are not frustrated.”
Which was a lie cause I was legit frustrated but also I did not want him to get yelled at before he gets on a coach bus to head four hours away from me, you know. And Jerimiah and I were in agreement on this. Like there’s no point in ruining out kid’s trip, even just his fun bus ride with his friends, over something silly like this. And we said we loved him and we sent him on his way. Then we picked up our coffee and we calmed each other down and when we got home the dogs were NOT rewarded with a pup cup, and Jerimiah drove the Beetle Bug to work because still no gas in the Audi, and I had a realization:
I’m not sure how other people do it without a kind, loving partner. A real one. One who doesn’t react in anger, like ever. One who’s first reaction is always to listen and understand. A partner who is there through these hectic mornings. Who knows how to keep you calm so you don’t fly off the handle. Who is in 100% synced in your parenting. Who knows that our shit, our shit is nothing compared to keeping our kid physically and emotionally safe at all times, even when those times look like they did this morning.
So all that to just be an appreciation post about my partner? Yeah, kind of. And also as a reminder that if you partner is not 100% your partner, you deserve better. Much better.
Whew. I’m thinking I might go back to bed now. Let’s all get some rest today. Or at least try to with our kids so far away!
Oh also, Jackson texted to say that we could have just scanned the Covid form. So there’s that.
I’ve had no time, I’ve had no time, I’ve had no time! That’s what I keep chanting over and over again whenever I start to think about this here blog. And while it’s the truth, I also have a a tendency to get all caught up in my head, unable to share my thoughts with people, and that brings me here to the blog to share with you all, but lately my support system has been on point. Like my fellow PTO moms have been struggling along with me and listening to me vent. I unexpectedly got some time with my sister and best friend last week, and well, Jerimiah listens to me whenever I need him to and I’ve been leaning on him a lot lately. So I don’t want to say that I don’t need y’all right now, but if the shoe fits ya dig?
That got me thinking about how I also haven’t seen my therapist lately. Y’all know Patsy the Great, right? I haven’t seen her in like a month because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t even called to schedule my appointments. I schedule like three at at time and when they are over I forget to call to get back on a schedule and really I should just commit to a day and a time like they want me to, but I have to be difficult. Y’all know I am difficult right? You know I’m going to go ahead and do that now.
Okay, appointments made. For real. I just logged off and called and made my next three appointments. Thanks for pushing me to do that y’all.
How is therapy going for you? Do you stay on top of it or forget like me? I do Friday mornings because I always feel a little sad afterward, relieved, but also sad, you know how it is, and I like to rest a bit before Jackson gets home. Therapy is the hardest, bravest thing I’ve ever done and I’m sure it is for you too, so you know what, go ahead and pat yourself on your back right now! You are doing it, friend!
Now those of you who are still dragging your feet, my question is: What are you so afraid of? Is it looking into your actual self and not liking what you see? If that’s the case you can probably already name plenty of times you do that to yourself everyday. Having a therapist walk you through those feelings is really helpful. Or is it the stigma that comes with therapy? Then you’re certainly either over the age of 40 (my generation is making therapy real cool and will only judge you if you say you don’t go) and/or you have some childhood trauma you aren’t ready to touch. Or both. Hint: It’s usually both. And I understand. That’s tough stuff. I’m proud of you for naming it though, that’s the first step. When you’re ready for the next let me know.
Whew. Therapy. AmIRight?
I had no idea what this blog was going to be about today, but there it is. Get y’all an appointment post haste so I don’t’ have to judge you anymore.
How y’all been? Good, I hope. I had a great week last week on account of it being the Welty Symposium at my school and my professors being really busy with that. Seriously. And I didn’t need to attend because I did it last year and I’m doing short residency elsewhere in the spring so it was sort of like a week off and now that it’s Monday again and school is back in proper session I’m feeling ehh about the whole thing. Especially my thesis, which I managed to convince myself last week was a flaming bag of dog shit and I should just give up. Just give up, that’s what I was thinking when I woke up this morning from a dream wherein my thesis advisor Zoomed me to tell me that my thesis was “dog shit.” So there you are. A nice, relaxing week where I felt like I worked ahead, got some stuff done (including my very first book review that is due this week! Eekface) and then this week I immediately fell right down a negativity hole. What gives? I dunno. But this isn’t new.
That’s why I hope y’all are doing good. Because I know you can have a fine and dandy time one minute, then the next be all, “This is bullshit, why even do this?!” I know because it happens to me all the time and when it happens to me I get all these feelings tangled up together that I can’t seem to hash out. There’s the guilt for sort of “wasting” my time last week. No, I didn’t. I did a lot of stuff, but “it’s never enough,” so says my inner critic. Then there is shame for my brain thinking this way, like why don’t I have better control over my brain, ya know? Then there is the inevitable slide down the sadness wall where even petting my dog for twenty minutes while she tells me how pretty I am will not help. Bleh.
Has this happened to you? I hope it hasn’t, but if it has just know you’re not alone. Having a great week, a relaxing week, a week where you are free to do things on your own time, even sometimes a vacation, then coming back to the normal routine can make you feel ehh or bleh or ahhhhh! Then that makes you feel like an untitled brat who lacks gratitude. It’s normal-ish, I think, but I’m no doctor. I also know that these ahhhh, or bleh, or ehh feelings don’t last long. That doesn’t help when you’re in the thick of it, but it might help tomorrow or the next day.
So okay, what can you do if you feel this way? Make a blog post so you don’t feel so alone? Sure. Text a friend a funny meme to make you and them smile? Yep. Take a nap? Of course, sleep always helps. But really you just need to ride out those feelings. Trust me, I speak from experience. It’ll be better one day soon, until then keep doing what you need to be doing this week, keep checking those items off the old to-do list, and revisit these feelings when you have accomplished something, anything really, I’m currently doing one, just one, load of laundry to check “laundry” off my list for the day. Then I’m going to email my thesis advisor and tell her that I’m spiraling and hope she has some kind words for me, then I will maybe watch an episode of Teen Mom OG or Ted Lasso, depending, and you know what, things will be brighter when I wake up tomorrow. Or they won’t and we will try again.
I hope you are having a great day and if not I hope you find something fun and helpful to change it.
The other day on my sobriety post I promised to talk about how people like to pass judgement on my “dietary” choices all the time. Generally it’s because they see me, see I’m fat, and assume I am doing nothing about it and eat snacks all the time. Ho hum. This is true for a vast majority of people, others make assumptions about their eating habits because everyone thinks their choices are the best. Some people are like, “Yay for you for eating more veggies!” while others are like, “Oh my goodness, you still eat cheese, that’s disgraceful.” Okay, assholes, who asked you? Even though I no longer eat meat I still do it, I still pass judgement, not about people who eat meat, about other stupid things. Like when I see a kid’s lunchbox full of “snacks” I’m like, “Really?” Like how do you let your kid eat only snacks all day? See? I’m judgey, we all are. Maybe they can only afford that kind of food? Or maybe that kid will refuse other food and at home the parents will have that fight, but they’ll be damned if they will put that fight on the teachers at school? Or maybe they grew up poor like me and learned unhealthy habits that are super fucking hard to break and they are trying desperately to stop the cycle with their children, but they slip-up sometimes? Or maybe they don’t fucking care and their kids metabolism, their metabolism, is great and I should just mind my own fucking business? Sure, sure. It’s all possible. So I should mind my own fucking business.
Anyway, I don’t want to be accused of hating snacks! I love snacks! Always have (see above tangent). But when Jackson was small we *literally* (I put the asterisks there to make sure you know I actually mean *literally* as it is supposed to mean, not as figurative language) we *literally* did exactly what our pediatrician told us to do with him for fear that if we didn’t he would learn our horrendous eating habits. We did not feed him “real” food until he was a year old. We introduced baby food when she told us we should and we started with vegetables only. I bought organic peas and mashed them up and gave them to him. We only supplemented breast milk when we had to. When he turned a year old we *literally* (again) threw the bottle away on his birthday and switched him to sippy cups with only milk (2% because “not every baby needs whole” the pediatrician said) and water. No juice. No soda. No nothing. 2% milk and water.
When he started eating “real” food we NEVER made him “clean” his plate. Eww. That is what we had to do when we were kids, umm, weight problems because you don’t understand how to read the signals from your stomach? Youbetcha! We also never made meal times a big deal. We ate as a family at the table. That was our only grand gesture. And we did eat at the table, not in front of the television ( and our families legit thought we were weird for it, they judged us a lot.)
Whew. It was tough. Really tough. But it paid off. Jackson is totally a teenager who stops eating when he is full. He will walk away from a cheeseburger (his absolute favorite meal) after taking two bites if he picks up on that signal from his stomach. He will ask the server for a box and he will take it home to eat it later or the next day, whenever he’s legit hungry again. I am in awe of him each time he does this, I’m like, wow. I think I did that. I mean I can’t do it to save my life (I’m learning, Jerimiah and I have even been splitting meals when we eat out just to help when we can’t pick up on our signals) but just wow, you know.
What’s always been funny to me though, is that people see Jerimiah and me and then they look at Jackson (who has always, despite all the work we have done, been in the 90th percentile for weight, like since he was born, but he’s never been overweight) and they assume things about us. They assume we don’t make our kid eat healthy. They assume, when they see him with a soda or a bag of Cheetos that this is the way we live our life and it used to bother me something fierce (I guess it still does to some extent cause I’m telling y’all about it) but lately, probably because my own relationship with food is changing, I’m realizing I gotta care much less about that shit. Much less.
I think it’s just that I don’t know how to navigate this world without being a fat person and because of that, because of how the world treats fat people, I have all this shame around what I eat and what my kid eats and how I move around in this body. I look at “normal” sized people and think, wow, they must have this eating thing all figured out, but no, they don’t. They just have better genes, or grew up eating veggies first, they aren’t coming into middle age with this weird deficit that Jerimiah and I are. We have to start considering everything we eat, all we do to keep ourselves healthy because of where we are coming from, meanwhile some people just don’t. They don’t have to constantly talk about it or think about it, and when we do it makes them uncomfortable. That must suck for them, but not as much as it sucks for us.
I know a person who 100% drinks hard liquor most nights of the week, but who has 100% told me that I don’t eat enough fruit. Did I want to slap the shit out of that person, sure? Did I? No, it was a family reunion and that felt like it would cause too much drama, you know? But that was old Missy, I’d like to have that convo again…
The point is I have changed. We do that as we grow. Well some of us do. And when we grow we make changes based on new information. This year I learned who my real father was through a DNA test. I also learned that he died when I was 9 months old from a massive heart attack. That’s some new info that will fuck you up. It sure did me. I learned too that he drank beer every day of his life and that he often threw them back with a cheeseburger. Eek face.
But I can’t just flip a switch overnight. I can’t unlearn 40 years of nonsense, so it takes time, and I have to give myself the time to get there. There are no quick fixes with this. Sure I could get weight-loss surgery or take some kind of pill, but we all know that won’t touch the root of my problems. So here I am. Blogging about this all to you, eating veggies, listening to people tell me how they think I should eat and live to be healthy, and trying to smile through it all, but I think we all know I won’t be able to sustain that either.
So consider this my warning. I don’t want your opinions on the way I eat or what I feed my family and you won’t get mine. In fact, just assume I don’t want your opinion about anything. If I do, I’ll ask. Otherwise, walk on by me while I’m eating my snacks or my veggies. It will be safest for all those involved.
I’m not sure why I can sit down every day now and hammer out a blog post, but I am incapable, quite suddenly, of writing for my thesis. Like in the first month of school I wrote two, TWO short stories. I guess I took that for granted because now here I am, sitting alone in my quiet house (Jackson is back at school in person and Jerimiah is at the office for his yearly budget reviews) and I still cannot write anything new for thesis. Meanwhile, I am here on my blog complaining to y’all. I guess it’s just the nature of the beast, yes? I don’t have to think much here. Y’all offer me a “no-thinking zone.” That’s not a bad thing, it’s not, it’s a really good thing. I can just log on here and share something ridiculous, whatever I am thinking about that day, and usually someone will find goodness in it, even if it’s just me blabbing my mouth about conservative republicans. Thanks, y’all. I appreciate you.
Maybe that’s all I have in me to say today. Thank you for being you, for reading or at least skimming, and for nodding your head in agreement or maybe shaking at my absurdity. Either way, it’s important for me to know that someone, out there in the ether, is having the kind of day where they need to just sit and read the random thoughts of someone else. It’s always good to think about how humanity works in that way.
Maybe my next post will be more concrete with themes and pictures and funny one-liners, maybe it will be more bitching about Mitch McConnell, who’s to say, but I’m glad someone out there will be into it.
Take care of yourselves today, won’t you? Lighten up. I’ll try to take my own advice.
Why are you back on the blog yet again today, Missy? Don’t you have a life anymore? The short answer is no, I never have, the long answer is that I missed y’all so much and I know that you missed me too and I just have a lot to say right now. The honest answer is that I have 20 pages of thesis due, and a book to read so I can write a review on it, and so obviously I’m taking time to write on my blog again. Procrastination at it’s finest, if you will.
Actually today I’m just logging on to say that I am like 30+ days sober. No wine, at all. No White Claws even! Certainly no hard liquor or beer. Not on vacation, not even when I am in the hot tub waxing political (which is how we spent all of 2020). Matter fact, last time Jerimiah and I were in the hot tub bad-mouthing conservative republicans we drank Vitamin Water. Gotta stay hydrated!
We didn’t set out to do this, it just sort of happened. We’ve been tapering off of any alcohol or wine for several months now. In fact, since my liver enzymes first started showing as elevated back in May of this year (and I just recently tested positive for a liver-related autoimmune disease) I have been conscious of how much I am drinking. My liver specialist says an occasional glass of wine is okay, and maybe I’ll end up there eventually, but for now it’s not feeling like the thing to do.
While in Mississippi for residency this year I did not try to keep up with friends and I drank no hard liquor. Everyone was incredibly kind and gracious about it. While vacationing this summer I tried to stick to mainly hard seltzer waters and at no time during my vacations have I been totally drunk (even though Rachel tried to get me there! Damn you and your Fireball, Rachel!) Since my 40th birthday I have had nothing at all that contains alcohol. Though you know I will never turn down a ButterBeer! 🙂
Jerimiah and I are both attempting this sobriety thing, and he’s done just as well. He’s been in several social situations lately where he was expected to drink along with everyone else and he chose not to. It’s important to note here that we are both social drinkers. We don’t struggle with sobriety like some people and we recognize that staying sober is much harder for others. We see y’all trying and we support you. We love you and are here if you ever need an ear.
This is also a no-judgment zone! We would never ask our family and friends to abstain from drinking around us, and if you come over for dinner I promise to have wine available if that’s what you prefer. We totally support your decision to drink responsibly, and this has only been easy for us because we have never been dependent on alcohol. So take all I say about how “easy” it is with a grain of margarita salt. This is the perspective I am coming from.
We decided to try sobriety partly due to my elevated liver enzymes, partly due to not wanting to feel like shit the day after drinking a bottle of wine, and partly due to setting a better example for our kid. It was mainly me, and Jerimiah being the good partner he is said, “I’ll do it too.” I told him to use me as an excuse anytime he needs. Men can be real bitches to each other when one doesn’t want to drink a beer with the group. #ToxicMasculinity
I’m putting this info out here for several reasons: 1. When people talk about things openly it makes it easier, less taboo. 2. For people who have been considering the sober life for awhile to know it’s not so bad, if I can give up red wine, you can definitely do it! 3. Hopefully y’all will see this and the next time we go out you won’t be all, “Why are you not drinking, Missy?!” Then I can just say, “Wow, you really don’t read my blog posts, huh?” (insert winky face)
Speaking of going out, we’ve found club soda and a lime makes us feel like part of the mix, and prevents people from mocking us, people do that, in case you don’t know. And if you are trying the sober thing and people mock you, please don’t take offense, it’s just them projecting. We used to do it too, or at least talk about sober people behind their backs. But really it was because we felt judged, as if someone else’s sobriety had anything to do with us. Don’t be like the old us, y’all. Grow and change.
The truth is I only drank in social situations to feel better, to talk easier with people, to feel like I wasn’t so awkward or forward. And because, well, that’s what you are supposed to do as an adult, right? Mommies drink wine in groups and complain about their kids and husbands, right? (Yeah, I was feeling weird about all of that, probably because I have zero to complain about with my kid and husband.) But now I’m realizing it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t want to hang with me because I’m awkward or blunt or don’t drink, cool, more time in my pjs on my couch with my family and doggos! Win/Win! And I will still listen to other mommies complain about husbands and kids, I’ll just do it sober. If I’m ever invited again…Hey, no hard feelings if I’m not!
Still, there are bound to be people who won’t support you, there are people who won’t support me. They will poke fun at me, they will ask how “healthy” it is to take anti-depressants to get through the day. (I think I’m pretty open about how I handle my mental health, yes? In case you forgot, I take daily anti-depressants and the occasional anti-anxiety med along with bi-weekly therapy visits with Patsy, my saint of a therapist. I say “occasionally” about the anti-anxiety meds because I am only prescribed 30 Klonopin pills at the lowest dose possible, every three months so I have to make them count. I usually take a half of one to help me fall asleep at night or when I’m in a crowd of people. That’s also why people chose to drink a glass of wine! I’m just choosing to do it differently. To each their own, it’s all substances we are putting in our body to make our brains feel better. Right-io!)
People will also no doubt jump on board to remind me, yet again, that I’m fat so I’m not living the most “healthy” lifestyle. Ho hum. I’ve had so many people talk about my “dietary changes” in the last six months only because I stopped eating most meat (I’m pescatarian now) for no reason other than to make themselves feel better. You know those people, the ones that try to pass shade on what you are eating, without actually saying it. Like, “Well meat is protein and we all need protein.” Yes’m meat is protein, you know what else is, broccoli. But my “unhealthy” eatings habits and he way people react to them is another post, I promise. And again it just boils down to them projecting their own insecurities onto me. Making themselves feel better about their own choices. They will do the same to you. Ignore the haters, that’s all you can do.
Anyway, if you’re a drinker keep on keeping on, responsibly of course, and if you’ve been living the sober life, yay for you! Consider us part of the team now. And if you are considering it, jump on board with us now, we will support each other!
As I mentioned yesterday we took my 77-year-old mother to New York City for the first time! It was a lot, but also not too much, but also totally different than any other trip to NYC for us. It all started when we asked Jackson what he wanted for his birthday and he said, “I want to go to the Transit Museum in Brooklyn.” That’s his favorite place, to be sure, so we were like hmm. With Covid being Covid and all that we wondered if we could pull it off and how safely. Everyone has their own idea of what is “safe” right now and in our house it’s like this: We are all fully vaccinated, waiting for boosters in December, Jackson is in school full-time in person (with a mask mandate in place), J is back to going to office once a week, usually, and we have been successfully traveling since this summer. However, I am still not willing to get on an airplane. I know, I know, it sounds dumb, but like I said, we all have our things. I am totally fine eating in a restaurant, but no airplane for me I just don’t trust others enough. So we decided to drive to NYC that’s when the idea of bringing my mom came. She was already asking if she could come stay with us for a month this year and it happened to all line up with my birthday, my mom’s, and Jackson’s. So we asked Jackson if we could bring Mama (we invited Grandma too, but she already had plans) and he said, “Sure!” Then the planning began.
When Mama got here we talked about all the things she wanted to see, and factored in all that Jackson wanted to see/do including the Transit Museum, the 9/11 Memorial, and Coney Island. Then we realized that we had never been to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty. Then our friends from Rhode Island were planning to join us one day, so we mashed all of this together and come up with a kind of solid plan. And for the most part, it all went exactly as planned. How amazing is that?!
The rest of the story can best be told in pictures, so I’ll let them do the talking, but in reality just know that there were some unexpected trips (did you know that there is an awesome Harry Potter store in NYC?) and we only missed one timed reservation, but it was okay they let us cancel our tickets and instead we took a hard-hat tour of the hospital at Ellis Island which was fantastic especially since we had watched a documentary on it before we went to NYC. We got to spend all the time Jackson wanted to at the Transit Museum, then I finally got to ride The Cyclone and The Thunderbolt at Coney Island which was a lifelong dream that turned out to be a terrifying nightmare and I will never ride them again! Like for real. Scariest rides I’ve ever been on, and I love crazy rollercoasters, y’all. Whew.
I promised yesterday that I would catch y’all up on my life and so here I am keeping my promise. I’m just as surprised as you are! I’m like a politician with promises, usually. I campaign hard on a couple of them and only squeak out one, but since I only promised this one to y’all then well, vote for me? Okay, okay, get to the good stuff, Missy. Right. So I didn’t post in the entire month of September which is frankly, crazy, but for good cause I promise. I turned 40 last month and my mom was here visiting for like five weeks, FIVE WEEKS, and we went on two vacations and school started (I started thesis this semester) and well is that enough? No? Okay, my kid turned 13 on October 1st, which as you know having just dealt with my 40th birthday and the breakdown that came with that, then realizing my little baby is now a teenager, whew. There were some dark days, y’all. Dark days.
But I’m back and almost normal now and although I still have thesis and finishing my MFA to deal with, my mom is safely back in Kansas, having joined us for a trip to NYC which was fantastic! She’d never been before and I so wanted her to experience it all. It was on her bucket list and helping her tick something off of it at 77 years old felt rather wonderful. Of course, I didn’t do it for me or for people to tell me how great I am (insert eye roll) I did it because I enjoy spending time with my mom and taking her on new adventures. It’s an added bonus to experience something like NYC with someone who has always wanted to go and who never thought they’d have the opportunity. I love that even at 77 years old, hard of hearing (though her new hearing aids are great) and with vision problems, she is still up for anything. I can see where I get my adventurous spirit from!
Aside from the trip to NYC I also got to celebrate my 40th with my best friend, Rachel! Her birthday is just a few days after mine and my mom’s birthday is the day after hers so we all met up at the halfway point between Atlanta and Kansas City for a weekend of fun! The halfway point was, however, Evansville, Indiana. Ha! No offense to my Indiana friends, it was better than expected. Waving to you in Bloomfield, Jessica!
Then there were all the other things I’ve been contending with, you know normal life stuff. Like how Jackson is too liberal for our family (that’s a whole other post) and how we might have to move again for Jerimiah’s work, and my dogs, oh lort, these dogs. Anyway, I’m uploading some pics for your enjoyment over the past month of my life. I hope you are all caught up now. I’ll be around again, just don’t expect too much from me, ya know?
I know, I know, I’ve been away. I wrote on my blog every, single day last year and this year it’s been sporadic at best. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today, in fact, I’ll talk about that tomorrow, is that okay? Catch you all up with my life? It’s been pretty nuts! Thanks for understanding. Today I’m here to talk about the supposed labor shortage, though to be honest everyone I know who was unemployed last year now has a job, and the thing I find slightly odd is that many of them applied to several (like more than twenty jobs depending on how long they were out of work) and didn’t even hear back from some of them, some of the places that proudly had “Now Hiring” signs or “Thank the ones who showed up” signs in their windows, so what gives?
I happened upon a documentary the other day from 2009. It was following people who were on unemployment during The Great Recession back in 2008 and it caught up with a group of people in Long Island, NY who were part of the 99ers. The 99ers are people who were still on unemployment at their 99th week of unemployment which is the last week you can legally get unemployment benefits. These people had applied for literally thousands of jobs over those 99 weeks, you have to when you’re on unemployment because you have to log it with unemployment, but aside from that these were people who had worked all their lives in good, high-paying jobs on Wall St. for instance and when the recession hit they were booted out.
The jobs they were applying for though, were far from where they had worked. They were applying to work the register at Home Depot, to drive a truck for FedEx, to work the make-up counter at Macy’s. Essentially they were looking to take any job at that point, but no one was calling them back. Meanwhile, the media was screaming, “Lazy people need to get a job! Get two jobs if you have to!” These people, these people who had previously made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year were trying to get a job at Target, they would get two jobs if it meant not having to sell their homes or foreclose, but they were being told they were “overqualified.”
This is a real thing that I went through as well. Jerimiah lost his job in that same recession and I had just quit mine to stay at home full time with our kid. Then boom, he lost his and we found ourselves trying to live off the $325 a week from unemployment. Meanwhile he was applying for at least 40 jobs a week, and I started applying too thinking maybe I could snag a lower-paying job since I didn’t yet have a college degree and he did. I was actually turned down at Target to work the cash register because I was “overqualified.” Do you know what that meant in my case? It meant that when they asked what I made in my last job and I put $14 an hour they decided that was too much to pay, so they didn’t even attempt to interview me. Why would they when someone was willing to take the job at $8 an hour? I would have taken that job at $8 an hour too, but I was never even given the opportunity.
Why I am telling you all this? Because I think the same thing is happening now. I think the suppose “labor shortage” isn’t one at all. It’s people who are writing that they want to make $15 an hour on their application are getting overlooked in lieu of people who will make less but it’s taking the companies longer to find people who will work for that low of a wage so here we are. Some people actually believe that these same companies are full up on employees but are looking for ones they can pay lower, or just like to have the “Now hiring” signs up for what? Fun? Belonging? To maintain this idea of a labor shortage? That feels too cynical to me, but not way off base. I’m just saying that it’s the businesses greedy practices that are certainly driving the “labor shortage” not an actual “labor shortage” and it’s probably high time we call it what it really is.
Eventually Jerimiah found work in 2009. He went from being a recent-college grad making $50,000 a year to making $12 an hour, but hey, it was something and he took it. I never got an interview, not one interview from the 40 or so jobs I applied for. I even called my old job back and asked to just come and serve, wait tables, and they told me they already had too many people vying for shifts.
Last week we were traveling to New York and we stayed over at a hotel in Fort Lee, Virginia. The next morning while we were loading the car DuPont, the company that makes pretty toxic chemicals, was having a job fair at our hotel. When we walked outside the job fair line was wrapped around the building at 8:00 am. There were men and women, young and old, some were in three-piece suits, some were in jeans and hoodies. The wages they were advertising were anywhere from $16 to $21 dollars for entry-level jobs and people were there. There was no labor shortage. They would have more than enough people to choose from for their new crews. But all I see when I turn the television on is people screaming, “Get a job! Get two jobs if you need to!”
How are you supposed to get two jobs if you can’t even get one?
As an aside I’ve talked recently to people who believe that a $15/hour federal wage mandate is too much, and all I can think about is how that line at the hotel was wrapped around the corner. How people trying to figure out how to feed their kids in Fort Lee, Virginia were practicing their elevator pitches for a $16/hour job working with toxic chemicals. How if we don’t mandate it federally, states like Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri will give advantage to the companies, not the people, and we will will never climb out of this generational poverty.
Of course these people aren’t from generational poverty, so how would they know. We have to start thinking outside of ourselves or we won’t ever get better.
I don’t have all the answers, and I’m sure I’m seeing this from only one side. But if I’m gonna be on one side, I want to be on the side of the unemployed. That makes me sleep better at night.
It’s that week. The week where I want to stay in bed and cry. Eat all the carbs in the house. Think about the what might have beens. The could have beens. The should have beens. I should have a daughter who is celebrating her 10th birthday this week. I should be showering her with gifts. The candy she likes, the stuffed animals she loves, her favorite doll or her favorite video game. Laughing in the evenings while we cuddle with the family and listen for the 10th time as we share the story of her birth. Instead, last night Jackson and Jerimiah and I talked about the girl we thought she would she been.
Jackson thinks Lydia would have liked Minecraft. Jerimiah thinks she would have liked whatever her big brother liked. I think she would have been too much like me to handle. Of course that’s the should have, would have, could have beens at work. The very real fact is that our daughter, from the moment she was conceived, had very real problems. Had she survived her birth she would probably not actually be here to celebrate her 10th birthday. The daughter we had had a chromosomal disorder that if she beat the 10% survival odds, would have been wheelchair- bound, unable to care for herself, unable to feed herself, let alone play Minecraft. Our daughter was never the girl we think she should have been, could have been, would have been. But her small, short life has surely impacted a great many people and that is the reality. I need to keep that in mind moving forward this week. I have to, so that I can indeed keep moving forward this week.
Sending love and light to you all. I hope you can move forward this week too.
Today is my first day of the last year of grad school. I know I’ve been here before saying it was the first day of the last year of grad school but this time I am serious. This is my last year in my MFA program and while the year didn’t exactly look like I wanted it to (whose did?) I am still having all the emotions today, but mainly I am stressed, per yoozh. *Bonus Side Tangent: There is no definitive answer on how to shorten the word “usual.” Even Merriam-Webster sorta just gave up, but it is important to note that while I rarely say the abbreviated word in spoken form, I do like to write with it especially because of the ending with the, what did they call it, a post-alveolar fricative (duh I know exactly what that is I’m an English major) because well, it’s just fucking fun.
Anywho, today is truly my last first day and I’m feeling all the feels. I’m super nervous because I have to start thesis this semester and while I’ve already written a thesis before, umm, no, I have not, not like this. This one is me pushing me way out of my comfort zone. Plus it’s a whole lot more than I wrote last time (like double!) and I don’t feel ready or excited at all. If it weren’t for my advisor, a person I’ve only known for a year, but feels like way longer you know those kinda people, I’d be a hot fucking mess, but as it sits I’m just a hot mess.
The other good thing, nay great thing, is that I have a group of friends to get through this year with. In fact, these people have been amazing and wonderful and all the things. It was by far the most important thing for me in finding an MFA program. I wanted to find a place that felt like home, even though y’all know I have no idea what home is anymore but I am happy to report I found it and it includes a group of women who are kick-ass and truly supportive and who “get it,” which is by far the most important.
Oh wow, I could go on but I won’t instead I will say this, last first days are scary and hard and emotional. But we will make it through just fine. Just fine.
Go forth and do something scary today, you’ll be okay. Just wear your mask.
It would be now. For sure. Hundy percent. Do it. SCREAM! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Do you feel better? No? Then you didn’t scream! Try again, it’s okay I’ll wait. I have the time.
Do you feel better now? NO? Okay, what do I need to do to help you scream? Would a picture of Burt Reynolds help?
Did you know that Dolly told Burt that they could never be a couple because he was just as pretty as she was on account of his high heels (he was very short and had to wear boosters in his boots) and his wigs (he wore wigs)? Well now you know more about Burt than you did before. Is that scream-worthy? Yes! Yes it is!