Forward Ho

 
I hereby greet the new year.
 
There are lots of superstitions about bringing in a new year. 
 
I stayed in one spot for a full extra thirty seconds after Lucy hurled on my shoulder and hair just so I could get my midnight kiss on Saturday night. 
 
You’re welcome, surrounding partygoers. You’re welcome.
 
My point is that there are lots of things that tradition dictates one must do or not do to usher in a new year.
 
Eat certain foods. 
Be loud at midnight to scare away evil spirits.
Refrain from paying bills.
Postpone laundry (something I only found out AFTER I put the puke clothes in to wash).
Along with lots of others…some that make sense and some that simply sound stupid.
 
But it can’t hurt, right? Like avoiding black cats or throwing salt or not stepping on cracks…why tempt fate?
 
Except I think sometimes I get so focused on the why-not-it-can’t-hurt-just-do-it mindset of a new calendar that I overlook some things that might actually be useful.
 
Like starting new. Forgetting things past and having a clean slate, letting go of baggage which serves no purpose besides gall.
 
So instead of remembering why QR Nobody  annoyed the shit out of me in 1999, or what Sal Asshole did to give him his Asshole name, I’m clearing accounts. 
 
Starting over.
 
Cleaning out.
 
Second (third, fourth) chances all around.
 
I feel it will help my soul.
 
Happy new year. Look ahead, not behind.

Dedesensitizing

As a rule, in this house of mixed insanity, we don’t go big on most things. 
 
We make cakes for birthdays but there’s usually not a big hubbub.
We usually have a pumpkin somewhere around Halloween. Most years.
 
But for the most part, we don’t make big deals out of holidays or occasions. Last year for Christmas we decorated the corner ficus tree with paper ornaments.
 
It works for us. I like to think that we are teaching our children that every day can be special, every day can be fun and great. There’s no need to wait for the calendar to tell you when to celebrate.
 
It’s my hope that they will believe that for at least a few years before they figure out we’re mostly just gape-jawed, knuckledragging lazy.
 

Dan takes a somewhat pious stand on the whole situation…”Christmas makes everyone feel like they have to spend money on someone or they don’t love them.”
 
Dan obviously doesn’t know how many people are getting homemade gifts this year. Ahem.
 
My point is that we do minimalist holidays around here. I mean, there are six people in this house…it does get a little cozy for comfort when you throw in decor and laundry and whatever board game my kids are yelling over this week (whoever thought to make Angry Birds into a board game….well, that’s just stupid. Yeah, I said it).

 
But this year we decided to holiday it up, and by we I mean Josh and I. We bought some lights, borrowed a bunch of ornaments from the inlaws, and picked up an honest-to-Moses real live tree. For real. The last time I remember having a real tree, my parents had gold shag carpet (which, by the way, I would totally dig. The vacuum lines were always trippy).
 
We came home and put up the tree, and my children were in. Heaven. 
 
Lucy ran her hands through the branches, “Tree, tree!”
Max wondered how many lights we’d need to make the whole thing catch on fire, and he told Dan it made sense for him not to care about Christmas since “you don’t believe in God and that means it’s just a regular old day.” (Note to self: try and convince Max that the Grinch was an atheist and he turned out to be the heart-biggenest of all.)
Ava alternated between moving ornaments around and telling me how glad she was to have a mom like me “who knows how to do stuff.”
 
I’d say it went over pretty well. If nothing else, I get to sit in the dark with only the tree lights…and for some reason that always calms me. I think that may be worth the whole ordeal.

Picture Heavy Hallow’s Eve

I’m not big on Halloween.
It’s not that I don’t like it, I do. I like the mischief and the scaryish moments. It’s that the planning drives me bonkers. And then there’s always this big letdown – months of planning and costumes and tweaking…..and then it’s over. Bags of candy and streaky makeup.

My kids were all about it, though. Understandable.

The other thing is that we’ve actually never lived in a neighborhood, so we don’t have the picturesque doortodoor smiley waving neighbor situation, and so trick or treating entails getting in and out of the car multiple times and rearranging costumes and making sure no friends or relatives miss out on cute costumed kids.

It’s a lot of damn work, and the only candy I get out of it is candy I steal from my kids.

SO NOT WORTH IT.

So we decided to take matters and deal with them creatively.

It was decided that we would buy our own inappropriate amounts of candy, build a bonfire, roast hotdogs, make s’mores, and generally party it up in our own backyard instead of bothering other people for candy we might not even like (there’s always those people who hand out those black and orange wax wrapped…things).

Ava even decided she still wanted to dress up. She was Katy Perry.

At the outset I was a little worried – worried I was stealing memories or some such. I mean, I know I cherish my fall festival memories of sitting on a table at church, manning a game.

But it was awesome. Seriously. Max and Josh were very manly and coordinated the bonfire, and Ava, Lucy and I supervised.

We did some pumpkin bashin’.

Lucy ran and ran and ran.

And as much as I was afraid of warping their childhood memories, I think these are going to be good ones.

This may become a yearly occurrence.

I also ate four s’mores.

Looking back. Reflection and stupidity

I was doing some reading earlier – reading of old entries and how things have changed and not.

I found this post, and it made me think about a lot of things.

It’s almost exactly a year later, and things are so much different that they’re kind of startlingly the same.

As far as God and purpose and meaning go, I’m still kind of lost. The hit our faith and confidence took during our time in Jackson was severe, and to be honest I’m not sure we’ll ever fully recover.

We were so sure we were doing the right thing.
We were so happy, and then we were miserable.

But now? Not in a million years did I ever think we’d be where we are now.

Well, not really physically “where we are,” because really all of us living together is pretty much an epic adventure and it’s become second nature to us all.

But where we are in the sense of goals and progress and general good will toward humanity.

I was sure when we left Jackson that we’d never fully be happy and fulfilled ever again.

Dramatic, sure, but cut me some slack I WAS GROWING A PERSON.

If I could do and say anything I wanted, I’d say things to those people we left.

I’d say to Ellie, thank you for hiring me. You were more of the face of good in our months in Jackson than anyone else we met. You meant more to me in those days than I can ever say.

I’d say to Michaele, you are me with red hair and better boobs. I miss you more than anything and I would never have made it without you.

I’d say to Jackson commuters – really? Suck it up and put down that bowl of Cheerios when you’re going 80 down the interstate. Eat a damn granola bar if you’re that hungry.

I’d say to Priest 1 – you were the biggest disappointment. When we met, you were awesome and inspiring. You were hip and down to earth and we both loved you immediately. The confidence we both felt in you – as a person, as a priest, as a friend – was completely cracked and really disheartening. You never seemed like a lap dog…until you were.

I’d say to Priest 2 – I reached out to you. I needed you. And when you ignored that? I have never felt that degree of worthlessness. I trusted too much in what I needed you to be.

And to Priest 3? I could fill a book. The level of hypocrisy and disillusion that I equate with you now is staggering. I don’t know what I believe comes after this life – I don’t know if I believe we just end, or if we go on…

But if we go on? If there are saints and angels and streets of gold? I don’t want to be there if you are. Whatever Paradise is supposed to be, you can’t be a part of it and it still be Paradise.

so there it is.

I suppose I’m still bitter (who am I kidding), but I’m also hopeful. I never thought I’d have that again.

I do. We do. And I think that’s the best revenge.

art shamelessly stolen from Natalie Dee

Fourth of Porkly

My dad makes barbecue. Well, I say “makes” but I guess really he just puts the components together. Composes barbecue. My dad composes barbecue.

He’s always made barbecue for as long as I can remember.

There was even this one hotasshit summer where all we did every night was cook barbecue to sell the next day. I heard the phrase “pork butt” so often that it lost its giggle-worthiness, and I was like 9 or 10 so that’s saying a lot.

He built this tow-along contraption with a smoker and attached bar thing so that we could park and sell barbecues pretty much out of the back of his Bronco. We did that every day. All summer. My pores oozed pork grease.

I haven’t really eaten much barbecue since that summer, except for once, and I’ve kind of kept that story under my hat. It’s kind of shameful because I apparently can’t really hold my meat.

The fourth of July is a big deal for my dad. He breaks out all the old tricks and there are ribs and chicken and pork and burgers and slaw and beans and whatever he thinks to throw on the grill.

One 4th, about 10 years ago, I was on the Atkins diet. I thought the celebration would be pretty miserable because gathering + diet usually = ugh, but to my shock and awe it was actually super nice.

In case you don’t know because you live in a box, Atkins pretty much means you can eat any greasy meatful thing your heart desires with impunity. Just stay away from carbs.

I love carbs. Mac and cheese, rolls, and oh my god the desserts. None of which I could consume that year, in the name of my *cough* health, so I determined to make up for it with as much meat and fat as I could.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I definitely did what I set out to do.

Ribs, chicken. The dreaded pulled pork. I wanted some French fries so badly, so instead I ate some weird butter and cheese concoction.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

The day ended, and I shit you not (haha, how apropos) I must have eaten an entire drawer of meat.

That night, whilst everyone I knew was watching fireworks and celebrating our nation’s birthday, I was on the toilet. It felt like I’d eaten a football and it got stuck in my lower intestine.

I definitely do not recommend a meatful diet.

How am I not a vegetarian?

Happy 4th.

This post is part of the 4th July carnival at: www.inthepowderroom.com

The 911

So, yesterday we had a fire.

Josh had set out to go to rehearsal in Tennessee, and I was home with Dan and all three kids.

Apparently Max had been eager to burn the brush pile in the backyard, so Dan set out to oblige.

I should also point out that there was a wind advisory yesterday, and if I were a responsible person/mother/citizen of the state I should have put a stop to this idea before the last branch was flung.

Once the flames were going, it quickly became apparent that the fire was going to spread.

And spread it did.

Dan went for the water hose attached to the house, Max brought around some garbage cans to transport water, and Ava immediately began to plot who (whom?) she would live with when the house inevitably burned to the ground.

At this point I really didn’t think it was a big deal. There was even a guy fishing down at the pond, and for some reason that comforted me, like nothing bad could possibly happen while we had a fishing visitor. I figured Dan could douse out the rogue flames and things would be over soon, so Lucy and I went inside for a banana.

In about 35 seconds, Max burst in and said that “Dad said to call the cops, because the fire’s coming.”

Now, let me make something clear.

In all of my 31 years on this rock we inhabit, I have never actually dialed 911.

For a few seconds I debated on whether or not I should actually use THE 911. I mean, surely Kossuth VFD has a direct line, right? I stopped my Google finger, though, and decided it would just be quicker to bite the bullet and dial the 911 and maybe I should find a deactivated cellphone real quick because hey IF IT’S THE 911 IT’LL STILL GO THROUGH and that would be amazing.

I didn’t do that, though, because remember the “fire was coming,” so I dialed, talked to the lady, and I hung up at a bit of a loss. I mean, they didn’t congratulate me or anything.

Pretty soon the road and driveway were full of volunteers committed to dousing Kossuth fires. They were everywhere, and then more came. They also could tell which truck was coming just from listening to the siren, like “Here comes Cecil, he’s in number two.” There was also one car full of a mom and three preteens that I’m pretty sure was just looking for a good time.

That pretty much ends my story. Cecil arrived in full on fireman pants. They put out the fire, saved the woebegone abandoned trailer in the field next door from possible damage, and chucked Dan on the shoulder while chortling about brush fires in the wind. It kind of felt like the end of a barbecue once it was all over, which I guess it kind of was, but no one was drunk and there were no hamburger buns.

The moral of the story is to use common sense. Sometimes that’s asking a lot. If not, though, be sure you have a phone to call the 911. Even a deactivated one. It’s supposed to still work. Let me know how that works out, because now I’m always going to wonder.

Off to roast marshmallows,
Emily

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