My first two-part series. Thanks, Netflix

This has been a weekend full of eating. It’s a good thing I didn’t make any resolutions to eat less or lose weight, because I would pretty much have already sabotaged myself.
We’ve been doing a good bit of Netflix-watching over the past couple of weeks. Saturday night we went to see our friends Marty and Erin in Tennessee, because Josh has this kickass beef that he’s started making and they had yet to eat any. So we went.

Whenever we go to Adamsville for dinner, Josh and Marty wait until we arrive to buy any of the preparations. We get there, we unload into the house, and the boys immediately leave to go get groceries for the meal.

And go to GameStop. And Taco Bell. And buy pies at the nearby gas station.

So Saturday night while the guys were gone, Erin and I decided to watch a movie (much to Lucy’s chagrin – she would be happy to watch the Birthday episode of Yo Gabba Gabba for the rest of her life).

Erin chose a documentary called Dive! which, in a nutshell, is about a bunch of people (and their families) in California who live primarily off the food they retrieve from dumpsters behind grocery stores.

I know, right? I think Erin chose it because she thought they were going to talk about dumpster diving for furniture or clothes or whatever – I know that’s what I thought.

But yea and verily, I was wrong. It was TOTALLY about food.

Initially I was grossed out. But then they showed the food they were retrieving…bread, meat, produce. All tossed out because of a cracked egg or a looming sell-by date. Stuff that was top-of-the-line shit…and perfectly fine. It just happened to have come out of the store by the back door, instead of a reusable shopping bag.

My snobbery started to wane when I realized that these people were eating organic, free-range, antibiotic free meats and veggies and most of the time I don’t even look at that stuff because it’s so expensive.

Then they started talking about the amount of waste the US produces and I felt like a greedy asshole.

Did you know that the US wastes 96 billion pounds of food a year? One year of our waste could feed the entire population of Haiti for like five years.

Yet, because we don’t share, and because everyone is so focused on profit, we still have hungry people in our country. That’s so bizarrely wrong on so many levels.

It’s sobering to be told things like that. Stuff we all know in the back of our mind and don’t really think about.

So while I won’t be scaling the dumpsters behind Kroger anytime soon (I totally would, by the way – but Josh said it was too close to the sheriff’s department and so he refuses to drive the getaway car), I am now actively searching for ways I can help do my part and reduce this terrible deficit between what we have and what we use – and what we need.

You can sign the online petition to Trader Joe’s here. It’s a start.

Tomorrow, I’m talking about catfish…kind of.

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.

The day before the upheaval

This weekend Dan is having a New Year’s Eve party.

Which, in a roundabout way, means we’re all having a New Year’s Eve party.

Dan has always been better at having company than I am. When we were married, there was a regular stream of visitors to our house on Farmington Road. Chess and Risk games lasting until the wee hours.

When we divorced, Dan got custody of most of the friends so I haven’t really had a problem with visitors.

We live all together now, though. It happens here in our shared household as well. Where I tend to shy away from company and worry about what the sticky spots on the floor might say about me or what the piles of laundry convey, Dan has, apparently, infinite huge amounts of self confidence and doesn’t bat an eye to have guests whenever.

It’s generally agreed upon, though, that an organized event requires a bit of upkeep. Especially after Christmas and 2+ weeks of people being home a LOT. We are currently serving as host to an over abundance of wrappers, dust, mismatched socks, and unbatteried Wiimotes. Not to mention the deceased tree occupying the open spot of wall and spitting crispy tendrils in every direction.

Is it just me, or does Conway Twitty look like he would smell like a truck stop?

Tomorrow has been designated cleaning day for the indoors. Normally I hate it, but after looking over the guest list on Facebook I have been seized with cleaning juju.

I don’t really expect it to last. I hope it holds on until tomorrow.

Why is cleaning so hard? Why can’t it be fun, like riding a roller coaster or masturbation?

That needs to be looked into.

Because I’m not a Christmas Card sender

I’ve tried before, a couple of years I even got the cards out in time.

I felt very accomplished those years. But it’s been a long time.

So in light of the fact that I’m not organized or competent enough to send out individual paper cards, here:

Also, in the tradition of those lovely people who do a family update letter every year at Christmas, I will do this.

2011.

The year started out like they all tend to do.

Resolutions were pretty much abandoned by week 2.

I turned 31.

The institution of marriage was defined by people in all different ways.

Ava lost her first tooth. Max lost several of his.

Lucy turned one.

Josh and I decided to go back to school, and we had our 5 year anniversary.

Josh was in many plays. I was in none.

Max and Ava and Dan were also in plays.

I started going to a for real shrink.

My sister got married.

Osama Bin Laden was killed.

Occupy Wall Street began.

Josh said goodbye to his grandfather.

I registered my domain name and began to blog with fervor.

Josh and I finished our first semester of school online.

And oddly enough, that seems to be all of note I can really remember.

I am giving myself this week of mostly leisure, so you may not hear from me for a while.

I love you.

From a random act

I had promised myself I wouldn’t write about this. It seems…exploitative. Wrong.
 
But for some reason it keeps presenting itself.
 
Let me preface things by saying I’m not claiming to be some big mournful friend. I am not that, to the point that I wasn’t even Facebook friends with these people. I don’t really know why – there was no ill will. It’s just not something I ever did – hunt them down and friend them.
 
Anyway, it doesn’t matter.
 
Tuesday morning, Josh was getting up and dressed for his day. He was up and about like always, and on one of his trips in and out of the bedroom, I heard him catch his breath. I turned over to see him standing in the doorway, his phone glowing in his eyes.
 
“Amanda Cossey was shot. She’s dead.”
 
It was the most bizarre thing I could imagine being said. He might as well have been talking about goats with purple horns and allergies.
 
I saw faces, names, confusion of memories and high school and passing acquaintances.
 
Amanda had been in school with me for years. I remember her as bubbly and popular, but one of the rare kinds of bubbly and popular where she actually seemed sincere. I remembered basketball games and cheerleading.
 
And then it was just there, like something raw in my belly. I felt completely useless, and the kind of pretentious that makes you feel dirty. 
 
This sounds awful – but she wasn’t my friend. She was a remembered presence, someone I thought of fondly.  I hadn’t seen her since high school. I didn’t know when she got married or when her baby was born.
 
To feel the way I felt was somehow misplaced.
 
I’m still not sure why.
 
The day passed, the requisite Facebook statuses were posted. News stories
 
I know it’s normal to be confused when something like this happens. 
 
Except, dammit all, it’s not. Nothing about this is normal. And it doesn’t matter if we were friends or not. 
 
The fact is that a girl I knew is dead. Not because she was sick or because a car crashed. Because someone saw her as an obstacle instead of what she was…

 
A wife.
A mother.
A friend.
A sister.
A daughter. 
 
She wasn’t these things to me. 
But it doesn’t seem to matter. 
 
I don’t want to be one of those people who immediately jumps on any tragedy to talk about how great the person was and how close we were. 
 
I have good memories of Amanda. She didn’t deserve this kind of end. 
 
I hope one day we understand things like this. 

This is why I think church kind of sucks

This past Sunday, we the Steens decided to go on a small road trip. We needed to go to Five Guys, Target, etc.

 

So we went, after convincing my Mom to loan us her car (we take her car on trips like that because it gets good gas mileage and is always clean).

 

In my mom’s car, I found a copy of a recent bulletin from her church. While I was somewhat afraid that my blaspheming fingers might cause it to burst into flame, I looked over it. 

 

Josh noticed the blurb pictured below, and he observed that the Brittany Settle mentioned would have been in school with our friend Marty.

 

So I did some research. Because I’m a trouble stirrer.

 

In 1991, Brittany Settle was indeed given an assignment for a term paper. The teacher was clear in her terms: pick whatever you want to write about, get it approved, and then write about it.

 

So Brittany chose her topic. She chose the topic of “drama,” which I can only assume meant things like traveling troupes and Globe Theatre and the like.

 

Then, for whatever reason, she changed her mind. She decided to write about Jesus instead. I can only imagine the reasoning. Maybe she thought it would be easier, maybe she knew she had a good paper in her brain, bred from years of Bible verses and Sunday School.

 

She decided to change topics and she wrote what I’m sure was an excellent paper. 

 

However, she never got the change approved. She didn’t give her teacher any heads up at all, and so when she turned in what was supposed to be a paper about actors and dramatics and it was instead about Jesus, she failed.

 

It’s a lesson I learned in about the fifth grade – you don’t follow directions, you fail your shit.

 

The fact that the situation then escalated to court dates and appearances on church bulletins two decades later is just a little ridiculous.

Untitled because I can

This week is drawing to a close and oh my GOD can you believe it’s December? That is just crazy. Really, insane.
I mean December is for Christmas and holidays and Hanukah and Kwanzaa.

Max asked me one year if we could celebrate Kwanzaa. However I wasn’t really sure what all that entailed so I told him we could have a menorah and that seemed to appease him.

I generally despise Christmas.

I love giving gifts, it’s one of my favorite things in the world. I just don’t like giving gifts on a strained budget. I want to buy everyone the iPads and iPhones and xboxes they want and I want to watch their faces light up because they got a kickass present from someone who loves them. Me.

I just can’t do that yet. Maybe one day.

Oh, and there’s some exciting happenings with school stuff, maybe I’ll be able to fill you in soon. Yeee!

I am out of sorts with the weather. I love the cooler, but it’s moving a little too quickly into bitter ass cold. And that’s not cool.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Lucy has a permanent marker.

Snowed

So, here I am again. 
Let me tell you, whatever this germ is that has assaulted my insides over the past two days, IT WINS. I have never been so miserable. Well, wait. The last time I was this miserable I was eight months pregnant and had the flu. That was bad.
 
But this, this has been awful. I took finals last night in a cold sweat and just prayed I wouldn’t hurl on the table. Or poop myself. Or both. And while I think I may be over it and Lucy didn’t seem to have it quite as bad, Josh has it now. Everyone knows that when the man gets sick the world is ending.
 
It snowed last night. There was a big uproar because we were under a WINTER STORM WARNING. The pink and blue on the radar was very promising indeed.
 

 And then this happened, and it was lovely and exciting. 

I even started to maybe believe the warnings, and i got a little excited. I live in Mississippi, people. We get real snow maybe a couple of times a year.

 

Then this morning I woke up and looked outside with huge anticipation….

 

Nothing. The pavement was wet. The end. I wanted to go find the inventor of the Weather Channel and punch him.

 

Max was excited, though. He had been upset that school might be closed because today is the chess tournament that he’s been prepping for for months. Which is why he woke up, looked out the window, and yelled, “SWEET!”

 

Yup. It’s my kid’s fault the snow didn’t stick. Maybe I should punch him.

 

Should

Is the autumn a reflective time for anyone but me?

No? That’s stupid? That’s okay. I’m used to that.

So anyway, I have this blogging calendar and it suggests topics for most days, days like the ones when I just sit and stare at empty because I know of nothing to say. Days that I wonder why I do this at all.

THOSE DAYS PASS, OBVIOUSLY.

This calendar – which is meant to have you schedule all your posts and be very on top of things – one of the suggestions was “throw away your shoulds,” which is abstract but not so much that I’m going to ignore it.

I find myself thinking lots of shoulds. Lots of times.

I should be more patient with my kids.
I should run miles.
I should write 1,600 words a day instead of the less than 1,000 I have thus far.
I should floss and shave my legs. Not that I don’t ever – I do. I just should probably do it more.
I should study more.
I should eat broccoli and rice and I should like sushi.

I do have some rice. It’s in a big bowl and Max’s ereader (which he dropped in the toilet) stayed in there for about a month so I’m thinking I should probably throw that out before someone eats it.

I should have a job.
I should be a better wife. Clean house and all that shit. Make the bed.
I should remember birthdays and anniversaries and send sweet heartfelt cards.

There are so many things that I should be doing that I don’t and that I shouldn’t be doing that I do.
Like go back to bed after the kids leave for school or send peanut butter sandwiches every day.

Seriously, I could go on. For days.

But why? I waste so much energy thinking about things I should and shouldn’t do and then suddenly I realize I haven’t done anything except sit and think about how I should be doing things differently.

So, screw all that. I’m not great at living, but DAMMIT I’m really good at being me.

Throwing away my shoulds sounds a lot easier than it is, and I’m really not sure what good this is doing.

Maybe a little.

I’m just glad it’s Friday.

Things I’m embarrassed to say

You may think I don’t get embarrassed by much.

For the most part that’s totally true.

But at random, inopportune times, I get weirdly heady and self conscious and it’s vastly unpleasant.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor. Issues with my ear.

It was an impromptu stop in, and I knew I’d have to wait for a while, so I took one of my textbooks to read.
When I went in to a room and the nurse came in (after weighing me and here’s the first embarrassment – 150 pounds), she naturally saw my book.

“Going back to school?”

It was a simple question, friendly and pretty obvious – but it made me feel like a moron. Like the ash reeking, mall banged, tanning bed woman who used to sit next to me in English Comp I and Hermioned every question until one day she had to quit because her factory job got to be too much.

I don’t know why. I mean, I AM back in school. It’s not a secret.

But I felt stupid. Like I’d gotten caught stuffing my bra.

So that happened.

And then I came home and I started wondering why I get bothered by some of the stupid crap I do.

Like how I can feel great and glammy and then I get among people and feel like a donkey in drag.

I think I’ve said all this before. Now I’m embarrassed.

So, to avoid any further confusion, here are some things that embarrass me.

I drink Diet Coke out of the 2 liter bottle.
I suck at games.
I can eat a whole package of cookies.
Speaking of school, I’m taking all the subjects in this one semester that I never took in all my prior semesters because they were difficult. And now I pretty much know I’m not going to have this fab Dean’s List gpa. I totally won’t fail, but I’m not going to blow the doors off like I thought I should.
I have hairy toes.
I don’t really know how to put on makeup.
I worry I’m not interesting.
I fear my perception of people is sometimes off.

I know everyone has things that embarrass them. It’s my hope that if I put them out there like that, there won’t be anything left to worry about.

So if you see me out and I look like a glammed up chubby ten year old, just know that I already know that. And that’s ok with me.

I’m out. Time for Twizzlers.