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.

Recap

I know I use pictures of this tree too much, but it’s so pretty.

So I took a tiny vacation from technology for a few days. There wasn’t a particular reason, other than I got a little overwhelmed about people and things and priorities. It was a good little break. I feel better about where I am and where I’m going.

For Labor Day we ate drunk chicken and drank tea (because good Baptists only use beer for cooking? I don’t know, something like that. It’s been so long since I’ve been a good Baptist that I forget the rules). It rained a whole bunch and now they’re talking floodwaters again.

But the rain? What it did for the weather? This is my favorite, favorite time of year.

In fact I’m going to knit a scarf just because I can.

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

Family bed weirdness

I’ve never slept with accessories.

Teddy bears, blankies, dolls. Nope.

I always used to wonder, growing up, what it would be like to sleep naked. I never did, because I was chicken. I heard stories about people who turned up at the dorms in college and had roommates who pranced around au natural and slept totally in the buff.

Yeah, I didn’t have that. I did have one roommate, Amanda, who left some ravioli in a dish by the sink until it grew like three inches of mold. I like to think it was an experiment. My friend Katie came over to visit my room one night and was so horrified by the ravioli project that she set about sanitizing the bathroom area.

Katie ended up being my next roommate, and she decorated for every holiday. Every. Not just a knickknack here and there or a cling on the window, no…she had legit decor for every holiday. Valentines. Easter. St. Patrick’s Day. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas, for months and months. It was festive and nice and totally a good memory, although Katie pretty much thinks I’m the devil or something. My point is that my roommates definitely kept their clothes on. And I don’t think either of them slept with any accessories, either. Amanda liked the radio and Katie always made her bed. End of odd.

MY POINT IS NOT EVEN ABOUT COLLEGE ROOMMATES.

So while I’ve never slept with accessories other than my iPhone since it came into existence and, you know, my husband, I do now.

Her name is Lucy and she pokes me in the eyes, pees on me routinely, and sometimes smacks me in her sleep.

I never slept with my kids. Max slept really well in his own bed by the time he was a week or two old, and Ava only slept in my bed in the mornings when she’d sometimes snuggle for a while.

When Lucy came along (because you might not know since I’ve never really mentioned it more than ten or twenty times but I live in a house with every person I’ve ever known), she pretty much refused to sleep anywhere except right next to me. And I know, I know, we should have let her cry for a while and made her get used to sleeping on her own, but her crying stresses Josh out a lot since he wants her world to be perfect and without misery. And she wakes up the whole house. And there’s really not room for a crib in our room anyway.

And maybe I like it that she’s snuggly. If you tickle me, do I not laugh?

Except she’s sixteen months old and she still doesn’t sleep through the night, and she’s kind of an obnoxious bed hog.

Things won’t change as far as our sleeping arrangements for a while, at least until we move, which will be…you know, time.

So I’m not asking for diatribes about how I am doing her a disservice by keeping her in my bed.

I just wanted to bitch for a minute.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m overdue for some hair pulling and milk breath.

Terrified

In 1998, I graduated from high school. I went on to the local community college, because that’s just what most of my friends did.

In 2000, when I should have been finished with community college, I had changed my major six point five jillion times and I was considerably behind. Then I got married.

That ended that.

In 2002, I went back to that same school and tried to pick up where I’d left off. I had an infant at home and we had next to no money, so when the semester was over and I got a job opportunity, I took it. Thus ended my education.

A couple of months ago, after talking about it for years, Josh and I decided to try school again. It has been a mess of red tape and confusion, but we got everything in order. Scheduled. Ready and waiting.

Well, today is the day.

All our classes come live online today, and me, who has never taken a single online class, I have 16 hours of classes. While I realize that I’m not expected to suddenly have everything finished and done and I’m going to have to learn to schedule myself, it doesn’t change the fact that having a list of things to do and turn in and know is going to overwhelm me more than a little bit.

I really didn’t think I was going to be so scared. But I am.

I’ve had those dreams where I forgot about a class and never did any of the work.

Where I showed up for an exam and it was a class I was never supposed to have taken.

The good news is that if I make it through this semester I’ll (finally) have my Associate’s Degree, and it will only have taken me thirteen years.

I feel a little (or a lot) silly that this is so important to me. After all, what is an Associate’s anyway? Not much.

Except it’s more than I have.

And it’s that much closer to the PhD I ultimately want.

Yeah, I said it. That’s what I’m going for. Farfetched, right? I’ll be like eighty by the time I’m finished.

But that’s okay with me. I’ll be eighty when I’m eighty whether I have a PhD or not.

So if I die today, it’s because the online classes done kilt me.

10 things my mom doesn’t want to know

Seriously, Mom. If you’re reading, just stop. Life will be easier.

(also, Mom, since you’re cheating and reading anyway, have I ever told you how great of a sport you are? I say all kinds of stuff about you. You really are a gem. I love you so much.)

1. I let my kids curse, and I let them do it a lot. Our agreement is that they can say whatever they want when they’re at home, but when they’re around actual people who have manners, they have to keep it to themselves. They aren’t great at the control yet, but I like to think it keeps them from turning into foul little shits around other people – since, you know, they’re free to be foul shits at home.

2. I have sex toys. A whole naughty drawer, in fact. As a matter of fact, I’ll just be honest – I think I would be excellent at working at a “novelty” (read: sex toy) shop. I’d make people feel better about their sneaky dirty deeds.

3. Along those same lines, I’ve considered (quite seriously) an, ahem, intimate piercing. I didn’t go through with it because I’m chicken, but I was totally set to do it at one point.

4. I had sex before marriage, completely rending in twain all my Baptist upbringing, and *gasp* I don’t regret it. I don’t even think it was a big deal. Try before you buy, you know?

5. As a matter of fact, I think I was more wracked with guilt over masturbation than I was premarital sex. For real, guys…I really was scared I was going to hell for that one.

6. I have (obviously) become much more comfortable with sexuality in my ancient age. Face it, we’re all somewhat preoccupied with getting/keeping/having sex a lot of the time, so why be all coy about it?

7. I kissed a girl, and I liked it.

8. I married a boob guy, and as a result I have seriously considered implants. It’s okay with me.

9. If I could always have my belly covered (because of stretch marks and weird wrinkles), I’d be totally okay with being naked all the time.

10. My vibrator’s name is….well, she doesn’t have one. I was totally prepared to make one up, but screw it. Honesty. I just know she’s a girl because she’s pink.

Well, there you have it.

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.

Maybe I was a little bit dead

Hello.

There are some people who are sick a lot. People with diseases and sickness and they are much better people than me.

I really don’t do well with being sick, maybe it’s because I’ve been really lucky to have a mostly healthy life.

In the past few years I’ve developed allergies. Because I’m getting old. I’ve accepted it.

There is also this one spot on my left nostril that gets super sore and red whenever the weather changes, and only today have I figured out what helps it.

Hemorrhoid ointment.

There, I said it. I’m typing this post because I wrote nothing yesterday. I’m snotty and gross and I have ass cream on my face.

I didn’t write yesterday because I legit thought I might never feel good again.

Josh has been achy, snotty and sick.
Lucy has been stuffy, grumpy and gross.
And me, well…me too.

So that’s what’s up. I feel better today. My dad gave me some Sudafed (you guys, it is straight up stupid that it requires a prescription now. Meth heads ruin everything.) and it’s helping. I went on a date last night and that was fun. I slept for longer than fifteen minutes at a stretch last night. I was gently awoken this morning by my sweet and lovely husband (he sat on my feet and then said ever so musically, “WHY THE CRAP ARE YOU STILL ASLEEP, IT’S NINE O’CLOCK.”) as he headed off to play practice.

Also, Dear Director Caleb – rehearsals on Saturday mornings are stupid. Please rethink it, because it’s misery. I can say that because what are you going to do to me? I am immune to your evil.

Oh, and guess what? Thanks to the kindness and understanding of the Dean of Students at Northeast, Josh and I are both students.

That’s right. We even have IDs. And I’m so freaking excited it’s a little ridiculous.

I suppose that’s all the random I have for today. I don’t even have a picture. Sorry.

Be sure to tune in on Monday, where in honor of National Relaxation Day I have a guest post by an honest-to-god yogi, and maybe she will inspire you to contort your body in unnatural ways.

Writing Prompt #125

Your writing prompt: something wrapped

My parents went through a phase of not wrapping Christmas presents.

We never had Santa Claus at my house growing up (*gasp* I know, right?) so all the pressure fell squarely on my parents every year.

There was one year I wrote a letter to Santa, convinced that he would somehow find it. I was too old for that shit even then, I think I was in maybe the second or third grade, and even though we never used our stockings for gifts (not until I participated in Steen Christmas did I ever realize how awesome stocking stuffers are), I left that note sticking out of “my” stocking. It was still there the next morning. I remember exactly how it looked, untouched.

Anyway, so several Christmases around the time I was six, we were instructed on Christmas morning to hide in my bedroom under a blanket (I remember that blanket, too. It was green checked and pretty thin and not warm for shit) until Larry gave us the go ahead from the hall.

We’d streak down the hallway and fishhook around to see the Christmas tree, where all our presents had appeared splayed out as only Anita could muster the gumption to do.

It was one of these Christmases that I got SheRa dolls, which now that I think about it doesn’t make any sense. I couldn’t watch the Smurfs because Gargamael and Aesrael were demon names but SheRa and her skimpy clothes and sword for impaling were okay? Parents are weird, man.

So SheRa was there, along with all her buddies. I was amped enough about it that I remember nothing else I got that Christmas.

But here’s the thing – that was it.

Just the one turn, and then boom, the excitement was done.

That’s why (besides the fact that Santa comes to our house thankyouverymuch) I always wrap presents. They may get dollar store hairbrushes, wallets, and an orange, but by DAMN that stuff will be wrapped.

Because there’s just something about it. A package, a mystery. The suspense, even if you have an idea already.

And because Christmas isn’t Christmas without a big pile of trash at the end.

And this concludes my oddly placed post about Christmas. In August.

Sabotage

I’m not much of a dieter.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. I really don’t remember a point in my life when I haven’t been on some sort of diet or attempt to restrict my eating.

But I’m terrible at it. I don’t really like a lot of vegetables, I’m still learning to like exercise, and, well, my favorite food group is cookies.

I’m learning to accept that a little bit of pudge is just part of me. I’m cool with that.

And it’s a good thing I have, because Josh has really gotten good at this cooking thing.