Today

Today is Election Day.

People all over will go and vote yea or nay or red or blue.

And I live in Mississippi, where the only time we make national news is because we gave birth to Elvis/Oprah/Britney/a million fantastic southern writers or because we’re the fattest state.

Well, now we have a new claim to fame – today we vote on Initiative 26, and if it passes, it’s a big deal. It’s a precedent for the whole country.

Now, I have opinions about this. Of course I do.

For just a minute, though, let’s not talk about what I think. Let’s talk about what this will mean.

Less birth control, in a state with the highest number of counties (17) featuring 40+% infant poverty. Not to mention the infant mortality rate (10.5 infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births), or the scads of children waiting in foster homes or institutions so they can be placed.

Fertility treatments….sure, as long as they don’t involve selective implantation or frozen embryos.

Raped? Pregnant? You carry that asshole’s baby because the law says so.

There are far reaching consequences regarding ectopic and molar pregnancies that I don’t even have the stomach to research (this is not hard hitting reporting, people).

Under this law, the miscarriage I suffered in January of 2008 may well have been the death of me, because only an abortion stopped the bleeding and saved my life.

The thing that bothers me about this is not that people disagree with my sentiment that this is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard. People disagree with me all the time.

No, what bothers me is that there are fifty bintillion churches who – over and over and over – have pounded into the hearts and minds of their faithful followers that this initiative is penned directly from the heavens. That by voting yes, they are personally winging their way into each Mississippi womb and cuddling thousands of fertilized eggs that may or may not become people.

It bothers me that if my preteen niece gets assaulted and molested, there won’t be a morning-after pill just in case. Her life could change and it wouldn’t have been her choice at all.

I respect the right of everyone to believe what they want. I do not respect anyone telling me how I have to believe and behave. Especially when they do it simply because a pulpit told them that was the right thing.

So go vote. If you live in Mississippi, please know what you’re voting for.

On a lighter note, tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from Lindsey at Campfire Song. This will be totally fun, you’ll see. She even mentions maxipads.

Things My Mom should know now that she has Facebook.

So, this Facebook thing is pretty old hat, right? Pretty much everyone does the Facebook.

My third grade teacher has a Facebook. She’s the sweetest thing. I had erasable crayons in her class. Every time I see her pop up on my timeline I think about those crayons.

Anyway, parents have facebooks, too. This is not a new thing to anyone, because since MySpace bit the big one and Social Network became a huge explosive Oscar winning hit (which I still don’t understand because I pretty much fell asleep every five minutes), everyone and (literally) their mama has been giving the like button some business.

Except my mom. She held out, even though we kept telling her these fantastic things we learned on people’s profiles and pictures we’d seen and etc etc etc.

So for her birthday I made her a profile. I got her a real present, too – lest you think I’m one of those people who’d give an empty box and say it was filled with love – but as an afterthought I jumbled all the info I know about my mother (which is hard to put into words….interests: singing in the choir and cleaning) and I brought her into the Facebook family.

Which brings me to the crux of the situation.

I am myself on Facebook, much as I am anywhere else. The rub lies in the fact that since my mom no longer sees me everyday of my life and washes my underwear, she can maybe perhaps live in a cloud of denial to the fact that her youngest baby girl kind of has a filthy mouth, definitely has a filthy mind, and (GASP) is maybe a little bit totally a democrat.

But you have a blog, you say. How could she not know?

This is an excellent point, one that I have considered. But I think there is a very simple answer to that – I don’t think my mom reads my blog every day. In fact, I think maybe perhaps she actively avoids it. Which is probably sometimes for the best, except now that she is on Facebook we’re going to have to face some things.

So, Mom, I think you should know:

I have friends that are gay. Flamingly, unapologetically, give-you-a-makeover gay. I love them because they are lovely and perfect. You may be okay with this since you watch Modern Family now, but I just needed to put it out there.

You raised me in church. I believe maybe perhaps 80% of what I was taught there was inaccurate, and I am still sifting through the other 20%.

On the subject of church, I know you love your church. I believe it is important and wonderful that you have a group of like minded people to gather with and count on. But I also believe it is a huge social club and 95% of the people there have no idea how to be a real Christian. Nor do they care. You are one of the 5% and one of the most sincere, honest, and lovely people I’ve ever known. And you’re MY MOM. I have extra luck points owed to someone somewhere.

I do not believe that anything about Initiative 26 is okay, and I am totally, completely against it.

I know every cuss word ever.

I will vote for Barack Hussein Obama every time he runs for president, which I hope is every time until I die (yes, I know he can only serve two terms. Let me dream).

You are perhaps the best Mom anyone ever had.

I love you so much. I’m glad you’re on Facebook.

Insert Work Wanted ad here

Yesterday I went to the local job fair.

I really don’t know what I was expecting. I’d called for details and the gal I talked to made it sound like an organized, streamlined process. Resume tweaking, printing, and then pick the businesses you’re interested in and visit them.

I didn’t need resume help, I have a resume that I very much like.

It was very lucky for this girl that I didn’t, because I pulled up in the parking lot and….well, there was this huge bus that said it was an “online lab” and it kind of felt like the windowless van that follows the ice cream truck around.

So I bypassed the molester van and went on in.

First of all, I had on heels and I had to walk down this huge ass flight of stairs, the last five of which were on wheels and it kind of felt like I was tightrope walking. On ice. Over fire.

Once I made it down and I was amongst the blue curtains, I was a little confused.

All the publicity had said to dress as though you were going to an interview. I was surrounded by people in John Deere hats and flip flops with camo shirts. Classy.

The booths were varied. Kind of.

Army and factory and Avon and Mary Kay.

And the worst thing I think was that every booth I might have been interested in simply directed you to their website to search for open positions. Like I couldn’t have stayed home and done that from my chair with Netflix.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Applause when I entered. Commentary on my twisty hairstyle. Compliments on my lovely tree picture on my resume. Something.

Instead, I was in and out in about twenty minutes.

To be fair (job fair), there were a few interesting places there. I spoke with one fellow who worked with the state rehab and he was full of possibilities for me…after I finish my Bachelor’s. I talked to one lady who is my friend on LinkedIn, and she was really helpful and optimistic.

So it wasn’t a total bust, but it wasn’t what I expected. Which I guess nothing ever is. Maybe it did some good. We’ll see.

Apropos of nothing, here’s the sweetest picture ever.

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

White lies are better than moldy skidmarked truth

I don’t think I know much about my kids.

Wait, that’s not accurate. I know everything about Lucy.

But that won’t last long. The clock is ticking on that one.

My other two are complete mysteries, and I kind of hate it.

My hate has nothing to do with them – I suppose it’s actually all me.

Growing up, I never told my mom all that much about my life. I was always really afraid she’d flip out and tell me I was going to hell or make me go to some special church class or something. I actually did get punished that way once – my mom found out that I’d skipped school, and I had to spend every afternoon for like a month sitting in my room writing bible verses. I was a senior in high school.

So yeah, Mom and I never had girl talks. We talk more openly now, I’m older and she’s older and we can both admit I’ve had sex since I have three kids.

But I’ve always wanted to be a friend to my kids. To answer their questions and be honest with them, and be able to have a relationship with them that ensures that, in the future, they’ll come to me for advice. A ride when everyone is drunk. Clarity when their hearts are broken.

And I do try.

But I fail. For lots of reasons.

Max is just so…awkward. I love him dearly, to bits and pieces. Truly. But talking to him is like talking to a miniature Michael Scott. It’s painfully uncomfortable at times, even though I realize his mind is very different than mine. I need to work on understanding him more. I’m sure it’s fascinating to go through life as Max.

Ava is, I think, a lot like I was when I was little.

And that. Terrifies. Me.

I was sneaky. I was dishonest. I had terrible judgement. I had such a hard time.

I want to make it easier for her, but I don’t have any clue how. So I think I subconsciously pull away. Which is the very opposite, I know, of what I should be doing.

Wow. Writing all this stuff and seeing it in the light of reality makes it sound….awful. Which I guess it is.

I ache to be good at being a mom, especially since I legit suspect that I love my kids way more than is normal. I’m just terrible at showing it. I mean really, awful.

Maybe I should take some sort of class. My child psychology class came with a virtual child (yes, it did. So not only to I get to suck at raising three kids with a pulse, I get to have another one to go all A.I. Haley Joel Osment). Think that’ll help?

In defense of black nails

I’m not one to be trendy, or even fashionable.

I realize this doesn’t come as much of a shock. I don’t imagine I exactly convey an it-girl with-it vibe.

It’s not that I don’t want to be snappy and sassy and on top of things, it’s just not something that comes easily to me. I very much feel all Devil Wears Prada heroine, in a way. You know at the beginning where Andi’s all unconcerned and kind of frumpy? That’s totally me, except at the end she gets made over and gets what she wants while she has perfect hair and designer jeans. That’s not me.

And I’m okay with that.

Except sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I really wish I could wear ruffles and curl my hair and lotion and coif.

I can’t. I’d very much like to put on a belt and a dress and not be concerned that I look like a basset hound in a tutu, but something – I guess it’s just left over high school insecurity? – keeps the squirminess at the forefront.

The thing is, I’m thirty one years old. I realize that’s not old, but…I really feel it’s too old to be still seeking out my style. Or to even care about my “style” in the first place.

I few months ago I started painting my nails. It was the first time in my life I’d been able to paint them and not feel like they looked awkward and inappropriate, and as stupid as it sounds, it made me feel good. Typing with lacquer tipped fingers felt a little more…polished, pardon the pun.

But I didn’t really care for the colors. I tried them all, since lucky for me I have a seven year old girl.

Bright orange. Blech.
Purple, which I was sure I’d like and didn’t.
Deep, maroony red. It was called “Rock Star” or something strange.
Green. It looked a little like my fingers were rotting.
Pink. With all my girlish aspirations, it still didn’t surprise me that it looked ridiculous.

Then for some reason I picked up a bottle of black. Lingerie, or something equally lame.

I had no intention of growing gothic talons or anything, but I’d seen dark manicures. Something about it appealed.

As with everything, I did some quick Googling.

I found this, and remarkably I understood every word. I knew those feelings, those lines of thought.

So I did it. I slathered my nails with the glossy tar, and it was…amazing. I didn’t feel like a rock star but I felt – different. A little edgy. Like just by having the testicles to have black nails I became a little bit of a badass.

I realize this sounds ridiculous. I know they’re just fingernails. I know that to even feel like this about what color they are is petty and asinine.

But it’s a happiness I’ve found.

And it doesn’t hurt anyone, though Josh acts pained every time.

So black they are. And I’ll pretend they make me tough and cutting edge, deep and meaningful, even as I struggle with lace and frills, bangs and belted waistlines.

This won’t be earning me any friends

Generally I refrain from posting things I know will upset or irk people.

I suppose that’s not really true.

But given the general temperament of my Facebook feed, this may raise hackles.

Meh.

Last week, we were fully immersed in getting ready for the return to school. Backpacks detrashed, lunchboxes found. Ava’s obnoxious feathers placed.

Late one afternoon, I received a call from the number I have saved in my phone as “AUTOMATED SCHOOL DEMON” – the number that calls when roads are flooded, a kid has disappeared, or cattle are loose. I turned on the speaker (but didn’t speak – I’ve caught myself talking to that machine too many times and now I’m wise to the game), expecting a reminder about not bringing guns or knives, or maybe a last minute nevermind-school-is-postponed-forever message.

Instead I got a recorded message inviting me not to forget about the upcoming “prayer walk” for parents of kids in the schools.

Now let me make one thing very, very clear.

If you are a kid in school and you want to say a prayer before you eat your lunch or take a test or walk on linoleum, I support that.

If you are a teacher and you want to send up a silent plea for mercy before you try and explain the branches of government, I support that.

If you want to bring your prayer rug and face Mecca between classes, I say go for it.

If you want to organize an event where people who are so inclined walk the halls and sidewalks of the school and pray for the students who will soon be present, I’m all for it! Bathe the desks and walls in prayer, and maybe that way my kids won’t eat boogers or mouth off (I may find religion if that works).

I will defend your right to do these things until my very last breath.

What I do not support is the use of school equipment, funds, and information to promote a religious function.

I never said, “Hey, sure, keep me posted about your rituals and gatherings.”
I didn’t say that because chances are I’m not coming.

It’s not because I don’t believe in God or I hate all religion or I think everyone should know that they know that they know whether they’re going to The Hell or not.

It’s because school is for LEARNING ABOUT THINGS THAT AREN’T RELIGION.
It’s because my son has already teared up more than once because he’s afraid his parents are going to hell.

Church is for religion.
Church schools are for the people who want everything to line up with what they believe.

School is not church. Amen.

I would rethink my stance if, say, I knew everyone’s beliefs would be equally welcomed. If the Muslims wanted to have a Q&A. If the Jews wanted to explain all the candles. If Pentecostals wanted to demonstrate hairspray usage. If the Mormons wanted to model Jesus underwear.

But that’s not happening. At least not here, because the vast majority of people believe the same way.

And that’s fine. What you believe is your business.

It’s when it starts being shoved at me and make it my business that I start caring.

I realize it’s election time and the superintendent was making sure everyone got catered to so as to put a good face on his campaign.

But just because the majority of people won’t care about the prayer walk phone call, or may even celebrate it, doesn’t make it okay. I’m not even sure it’s legal.

So please, pray. Fast. Sing. Speak in tongues.

Just don’t make me listen. Or watch. Or use the money I pay in taxes to promote it.

And in return, I will refrain from being an ass. Kind of.

Or not.

Not exactly Hoarders

Do you guys use Pinterest?

If not, you should.

It’s like a virtual bulletin/idea/brainstorm board where you can keep track of things you like.

Interiors. Crafts. Foods (oh my GOD people spend SO much time on food! Bento, fruit flowers..). Clothes. Outfit ideas. Creative party themes and useful things like that. It’s also a total timesuck, because I look at this cool outfit and that amazing reading nook and ooh this sunroom and then WHAM two hours are gone and my kid is outside smoking.I love this idea. Looking at other people’s creativity. Seeing things people like. Feeling a sense of community in wanting to create things and make things pretty.

The bad thing is, though, that I often come away at a bit of a loss. I believe Moses would refer to it as coveting my neighbor’s ass or something similar (although my neighbors are PaPaw Buck and the invisible lady with the painted mailbox, so really, no worries there).

What I’m saying is I look at these beautiful creations, be they centerpieces, cute jeans with a surprising scarf and bright shoes, or a clever saying painted on a wall, and suddenly my hair feels greasy and my teeth feel dirty and I might as well go put on a bathrobe and a turban and start dipping tobacco because clearly I am a lost cause.

I love the house we live in. I love that these walls house people I care the very most about in the world. I love that my kids can run down the hall and have Dad (x2) and Mom and everyone can all be together. I love that we get two sets of Netflix movies. I love that my kids are growing up knowing that things don’t have to be normal to be perfect.

What I don’t love is the fact that we’re all kind of slobby. We all keep things we should probably toss. I’ve tried every trick in the book – cleaning for 30 minutes a day, throwing something out every time something new is brought in, cleaning obsessively all day.

I suck at it.

And the thing is, my mom was/is the ultimate cleaning banshee. She somehow manages to keep everything looking like Martha Stewart just came for cocoa and even when my 3 kids and my niece and nephew and the dog are all rampant in full force I would have no qualms eating off her floor.

So I kind of feel like a failure before I even begin.

I mean, this is my job, right? To make the home. To have things pretty and fresh and nice.

I’m like everyone else, I go through spurts of mania enthusiasm and things will get clean and organized and I’ll be really proud. Then Dan will make a tuna sandwich and make the whole joint smell like barf or Josh will cook a chef-caliber meal and the kitchen is suddenly filled with pots and pans. Or my kids will, you know, wake up.

So I look at the crisp and pristine loveliness on Pinterest or the living rooms in Facebook albums and I pine.

Well, I alternate between pining and scolding myself for pining.

The answer to this is obvious – just don’t look at it.

But then I get these bursts and I want to make things over – but I am crap at organizing. It totally escapes me. I used to (still do) wish I would wake up one day with a Monica Gellar yen for cleaning and organization, but thus far it hasn’t happened.

I wake up still me.

Still cursing the load of clothes I’ve left in the dryer for three days because I don’t want to put up clothes (PSA: it is not really possible for two adults and a toddler, along with all their clothes and shoes, to neatly share one bedroom and bathroom without some clever apartment type finagling. And I don’t have that. I’m not a finagler.).

Still wondering what to do with all the dog hair.

Still needing to find a system.

Still debating throwing down a paint cloth and just covering up the duck wallpaper.

A girl can dream, right?

Writing Prompt #287

Use these two metaphors in a poem: “an inch of scorn” and “a cradle of beliefs”

It was never easy being the one who was different.
Never a sigh out of place but a gut filled with longing
Somewhere I knew there would answers abound
But I was behind. Blind.
Out of touch.
There were things to say
Bursting to be born from my thoughts
But they wouldn’t have listened.
They would have read their preferred reaction
In their leather bound books of exclusion,
nestling back into the cradle of their belief
Assured that they would come out the winners.

And where it hurt me before,
Shattered the shell I’d constructed
Left open and raw,
Now it was healing.
Replacing the ache for approval,
I look down and sideways,
Never allowing one
Within an inch of my scorn.

There could be another way,
Soothing and warm,
Buttered over with forgiveness and acceptance
But we seem to prefer ice
Sharp words and looks
And separating the different
From the different
In another way.

Antisocially awkward

I have no clue when my life became so disconnected.

Obviously not “disconnected” in the sense of being offline or off the grid or anything like that, because that would be, you know, a travesty. I mean, if I didn’t know when Suzy Jane was irritated with some random coworker whom I’ll never meet or know, then…my god, my eyeballs might bleed for sheer lack of knowledge.

I mean I can go days and days and only come into real human contact with my kids, my husband, and Dan, and I only realize that it’s weird after the fact.

I keep up with people via Facebook and twitter, and while it’s great and I love it, I wonder what it’s actually doing to my ability to interact with flesh and blood people.

Not that Twitter and Facebook people aren’t flesh and blood people. It just becomes easier to overlook their flesh and bloodliness since they’re behind a screen/phone/whatever.

It’s easy to make a shitty life appear shiny and flawless if you don’t actually have to interact. I find myself glossing over a lot of things, especially on Facebook. It’s not that I’m being dishonest, it’s just that I don’t want to say, “Boy today sucks,” and then be bombarded with “O no watz wrong? :(” or “You’re in my prayers,” or directed to read 1 Davinia 4:11 by some chick I knew in 1993 because it will certainly cure all my woes.

If my husband’s being a shit, I can’t say that because it’s like I’ve posted an ad for amateur marriage counselors and evaluations of my relationship when in reality, I’m being too touchy or he’s just being grumpy and before the bytes have crackled to the online we’re already back to normal.

I’m not knocking the caring or sincerity of the Facebook community, but…you know.

So I wonder if we’ve all been lured into thinking we live in some storybook universe, just because people interact by being removed. We have a false sense of what’s normal, what’s not.

I don’t think enough people are honest about their problems. People fight. People make mistakes. People get annoyed with the people they love most. And then people get over it.

But the Internet doesn’t get over it. The Internet has a long memory.

Maybe I just need to get out more.