A true American hero–Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” —MLK Jr.
 
There are leaders. Quiet warriors, driven to protect, to serve, to fight for the underdogs, to exemplify all that is red, and white and blue. Educated, inspirational, hard working, determined, selfless, empathic, and kind. Kindness, maybe fundamental kindness, is the unsung characteristic of a true leader.
 
In a day where we are faced with our own leaders filled with hate, destruction, corruption, contempt, lies and laziness, it is today, this weekend, that is important to recognize those who have led, who have actually struggled, who looked fear in the eye and stared back unwilling to let hate win and conquer a people who have the potential to be so good, to be so brave, to trail blaze the living fuck out of the wrong this world is filled with today.
 
Remember this month, as we face a true mockery of American leadership, undeserving leadership, lacking qualifications, morals and the ability to unite our country that has not been as divided as it is at this very moment in a very, very long time.  Remember, there are leaders who have faced imprisonment, defamation and ultimately, death–all in the name of fighting for what is right in this world, for patriotism.
 
These men, Martin Luther King Jr., our most recent President, and many, many others, they carried on with a quiet selflessness and courage that I hope my children will always remember, embody and continue in their own lives. These are the men that I want my boys to know rose up and faced challenges head on, united people, lit sparks of hope that could not be put out, and asked for nothing in return, not fame, not fortune, and certainly not thanks. These are who I want my boys to know.
 
We are better than what we are about to witness take over this month. We are better than hate, and venom, and the incitement of fear and the bullying. We are Americans, we have risen from the ashes of those seeking to destroy us, and we will do it again. It is sad that this moment in time is unique in that the destruction comes from within our borders, in our own House, from people we hoped we could trust.
 
The circumstances, we cannot change those. But the future, we can, and we will, and we will all be better people for it.
 
The spark that MLK Jr ignited in 1963 with I Have a Dream, burns on. It’s up to us to ensure it lights new flames filled with optimism and hope, and that it never, ever goes out.
 
You were one of a kind, MLK, and you will be remembered forever.

Happy 2017!! Advice, goals and encouragement

Every New Year, I say I’m going to stop saying swear words and drink more water. Fucking lies, I know. So, this year, instead, I’m going to tell you what I wish for myself, how I’m going to try to represent myself daily, and I hope you make a similar pledge, something you write true to yourself, something that makes you ready for 2017.  And obvious disclaimer, I’m not perfect, not even close. I’m pretty awful most days. But, every new year is a time to do something new, bold, memorable and FUCKING AMAZING. And if nothing else, I’ll try to do that. Anyone with me?

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Here we go, Happy 2017!!–
Talk to everyone, not just the person you think it’ll impress. Being kind is far more superior than being popular. And everyone, remember, has a story.

Remember a name, and never forget someone’s story. They told it to you for a reason.

Eat all the weird things.  Some weird things are nice. And if you hate it, spit it on a napkin quietly, throw it out when you pee, and make yourself a sandwich when no one is looking.

Hug everyone who looks like they need it, and maybe, those who don’t. A hug holds far more magic than you could ever imagine. And hugs are free. And sometimes, they save a soul.

Stop judging each other.  No one is as rich or smart or fancy as they make seem on social media. A size 6 in one place is a size 4, 8, 13, and 16 in another.  Everyone’s children are awful,  and they all, at one time or another, smear shit on walls or siblings or us when the rest of you aren’t looking through The Facebook. Your lawn is not better kept than mine just because you took a picture the one day a year you had it mowed.  Your picture with your painted toes on the lawn chair, on the beach, with the ocean in the background does not imply that you did not miss confessional (again) or that your child doesn’t eat rocks or that you wouldn’t trade a paycheck for a month’s worth of childless and husbandless naps.  Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and all of THE INTERNETS is just a fucking lie.  We’re not who we are in our posts.  Unless we’re talking about the posts of filled wine glasses that I post on days that end in Y that I post for moral support.  Those are legit fucking real.  Anyway.  We all love a good filter, me included, but let’s let it stop there.  We aren’t all our filter selves, and no one should expect us to be.

A cheers to celebrate a drink is a universal sign of acceptance and friendship. Never be afraid to cheers a new friend–you’re probably making one for a lifetime.

Smiles are as free as hugs, though, don’t ask the Germans because they say the reason they never smile is BECAUSE SMILES ARE NOT FREE. This is why we don’t listen to Germans. However, smiles ARE FREE, and, sometimes, someone has been waiting for one for a very long time. Give them freely and honestly, and with love. You’d think they are carelessly tossed away, but for some, they’re not, and they’re the difference in the world.

Travel to the one new place you can afford to get to.  You don’t need to go to Japan, Africa or Cancun to make a difference in your life.  Sometimes, even that quiet piece of woods two towns over becomes the comforting slice of heaven you’ve been needing for all of time.  Water, sunshine and lots of dirt can cure far more things than money can buy, I promise. Get dirty and find your new place.  Maybe you’ll realize you have a new safe place you never thought you needed.

If you love someone, right or wrong timing, tell them–drunk OR sober. 🙂 There’s only one exact time in life for love, and it is always now, right now. Once you’ve blinked, it may be too late, and no one, no one ever, has been worse off in this life for being loved too hard or too much.

Stop hating women and empower them. I’m not going to get political, but this goes for men and women. If you are a woman, be proud and help another woman. Don’t be jealous and and spiteful in playgroups and social media or the workplace. Raise each other up, help each other with your families, be a light of hope and kindness and not a loud voice full of judgement and snark. And men? You have been surrounded by women who loved you your whole life. Love your own and make a good example of yourselves for your family. It’s hard to believe I need to add this to my goals in 2017 but can we just fucking love women in general and move the living fuck on?
Do that hobby that makes you happy. Shake, sweat, create, write, yell, run, build, snap, work hard, bust ass, paint, glitter, fix, nurture, love, cook, study, learn. Never stop. You only have until that last breathe and we never know just quite when it will come, do we?

Love the person that tells you they love you for your mind.  That person is the 1%, and that person means it, and you’ll maybe never find that person again.  Also, be the person who tells someone else this.  Lipgloss and gym memberships can be bought.  Crazy, bold and wild minds cannot be bought or tamed.
The world is only a better place if you participate in it. Stop complaining. Stop making noise. Meet people, read a book, donate money or your time. Try your inside voice instead of your shouting voice. Really, it’s going to be a tough year, and we all need to reach out. If you haven’t found something you love to support and be proactive in, give it a try. There’s a cause for everyone, and this world can’t hold up without us all trying.
Learn from your regret and mistakes and make the world blaze from your lessons. Stand tall in your hurt and shout from the highest of highs the lessons you’ve learned. You earned it. You deserve it. And no one can make you a better person than you can.

Forgive.  Maybe most important and least used lesson each year.  I don’t know what YOU need to do, what you need to forgive or forget.  So I’ll give you the short list of what I need to forgive, and maybe you’ll see something along my spewing that makes you think maybe you should do the same.  What would I forgive? Myself, for all of these: Being so very imperfect, for not giving a fuck, for expecting people to order respectable beers, for not toning it down, for expecting the world to make sense, for hating people who ask for steaks well done, for expecting people to not act like back woods idiots during an election year, for not asking for an apology for my life, for not giving the apologies I should have and meant to but never got around to, for not saving lives, for not using my inside voice, for not being a perfect parent, for not writing enough, for not listening enough, for not napping enough, for not eating chips and cookies and butter every last chance I ever had, for not caring if my jean size was smaller than my shoe size, for swimming in public w no clothes on, for not drinking more gin because I know gin is just awful for me but actually magic but seriously awful for everyone involved, for not learning how not to give non verbal cues in the workplace and public where people don’t appreciate the accidental looks that I can’t (or don’t try to) control w my face, for not learning how to clean a house, for not learning how to cook meals like chicken finger salad or grilled cheese which APPARENTLY DO NOT COUNT, for singing too loudly and off-key because I think Adele and I basically have the same talent but I’m just not discovered yet, for wearing my jeans unwashed for 12 days at a time or just sweatpants 217 days a year because seriously, FUCK PANTS.  For pretty much everything I do on a daily basis, so let’s be real, it’s The Year 2017, and I’m probably close to being a lost cause already and it’s Day One.

So, as my hours in the First Day draw to and end, I’ll leave you with the above .  Hopefully, if you made it through this post, I’ve helped you with your goals, worked you through your issues and geared you up for another fulfilling and amazing New Year.  It’s going to be a great one, friends.  It’s just what you make of it.  Don’t you dare fucking let me down.  🙂

The holiday season of (sometimes) not so much cheer…

One of my friends reached out to me this week and confided in me that they lost a sibling to suicide last year.  This year will be the first Christmas without them, and no one anticipates it going well. They were looking for advice, or maybe just a, I fucking get you.  In any case,  I wrote an email to them detailing many personal tidbits I thought might make the holiday relatable for them, and I thought to share it here for anyone else angry or sad or depressed as fuck over the holidays.  For those of us that aren’t always mistletoe, ho ho ho and all that jazz, this one is for you….
Dear friend,
There are few times a year that are detrimental to my sanity regarding my dad’s suicide but Christmas is a huge one. The worst is death day in August because fuck death day. I do not remember my father that day. I do not celebrate him that day. I do not speak to humans that day. I take the day off, wear sweats, get black out drunk and try to give myself lung cancer. I FaceTime my sister and we basically love him, hate him and drink until one of us gets near a hospital visit, usually during daylight, still so that’s fun. Then our spouses shame us and counsel us on appropriate grief and then we drink more and wake up on a floor, hopefully in our own house, and then we’re glad the sun of a new day has saved us from self destructing for one more year. I’m a super support system for others but a fucking shit show in my own life. Shocking, I know.

Second worst day is his birthday, which he loved so much. The third is my birthday, which he loved to celebrate with me.

The last is Christmas. I don’t even know if it’s 4th on the list of misery, but it’s shit all the same. Jesus and the whole holiday can fuck itself. I try to be happy, but it was his favorite holiday, he was like a child in his celebrations, and without him, I wish everyone would choke and die and get to New Years and then die via firework. Very festive, I’m aware.

Every year around this time, he used to tell me the story about the time he was five and opened all the presents before his family came down and he opened his big breasted sister Carol’s bra and put it on his head and went up to wake his siblings and then his sisters hated him and his father hit him and it’s a story he used to tell me for 20 years and I always thought it got old until he was never able to tell it to me again.
I used to hate him for waking us up before the sun on Christmas morning when I grew to be older than the age of 15, because I just wanted to be one of those families that when you have adult kids, you get to sleep in and then wake up at 11 to food and coffee and then booze but he woke me and my sister up at 6am, just like when I was 5 or 8 or 11 or any age, and I hated it until the year I didn’t have anyone to wake me up to check my stocking.
He used to take us to dinner every other year on Christmas eve, a tradition that spanned over a decade. It was always somewhere fancy, it was one of my favorite traditions–it was a restaurant we normally probably couldn’t afford during the regular year, and I know he saved for it and looked forward to it, and I know now he only did it for us, not him. He didnt care about those places. But that night, every other year, he was so proud and he wore a suit or a sweater and tie and I wore a fancy dress and lip gloss and we could order whatever we wanted. We felt so fancy. We were magic, especially that one night. I walked by one of the restaurants this summer on my trip home, it used to be called The Firehouse, an old fire department building that is no longer, not even a shell exists, and as I walked by I looked sadly at the sidewalk.  Many of my memories have become just that.  Even the buildings don’t exist.
Carrying on, though, one year, we became adults and even we realized that big nights out should be replaced by quiet times at home.  Chinese takeout night at home was far better than any stupid night out with a tab bigger than what he spent on any other meal in the year and so we had Chinese and game night on Christmas eve for years, but when he died, it stopped, and we haven’t had Chinese or games the night before Jesus’ birth since 2006. Even my sister and I never tried to do game night. It will just never be the same, and we don’t want it to be, so we pretend like game night on Christmas Eve was never a thing.
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The year after he died, I was home alone and I had two gallons of wine and intentions for nothing good and I started drinking and baking cookies, but of the pre-made kind because I am truly awful at life, and I drank and “baked” and drank some more and listened to Christmas carols, which is a terrible idea while suffering an immense amount of grief. O Holy Night has always been a sanity ruiner for me and the year after he died, I spent a lot of time at Christmas laying on my stomach, face down, sobbing into the floor and hitting repeat with my mouth on a bottle of anything. Well, one particularly successful night, I I had it on repeat about 90 times and thought to go get his tiny urn and open it, because I wanted to be close to him, or see him, or actually, I don’t know, I was just hammered, and I tried to open it and forgot it was jam packed full and when I unscrewed it fast, a huge cloud exploded and it all fell on me like a rain shower except it was dry ash and tiny bones and I couldn’t rub it into the rug fast enough and then I sneezed and all of the ash covering my hands went straight into my mouth and down my throat and I oddly, in a moment of black out, felt comforted that I just ate my father and he would always be a part of me.
The lesson is don’t drink and do grief over the holidays.
The real lesson is we all will. I will. I’ll end up hammered and on a cold floor crying at some point. I’ll plead to the clouds to bring him back. I’ll be angry he’s gone and I’ll blame myself and I’ll be sad and depressed and at least once in the next two weeks, I’ll find it hard to not hate myself, because I’ll always hate myself. But, 26 December always comes, people always take down the lights, Santa disappears and I can go back to being my miserable, bitter, indifferent self until the next holiday.
We can’t all do it alone. I am part of a tribe of fucked up people, and newsflash, you are now a member, and we don’t deal with shit well and we have been faced with the worst of the absolute worst. But, good news, we’re still here and we’re still surviving and no one is going to give us a trophy but we’re bad ass all the same.
Be easy, friend, because the holidays shouldn’t swallow us alive. We’ll make it out and we’ll be ok.  Tomorrow is another day.

Gymnastics for kids

In case anyone wants to know what a waste of time and money is, I found something new: gymnastics for toddlers. So I decided to send the boys to a gymnastics class bc 1. We should all be so flexible. 2. They are monkeys. 3. Pay your own way to college, kids. But instead of what I envisioned, which was obviously dancing and moving swiftly and gracefully, tumbling to the extreme, young men owning this class, I get the following for $120 for an hour (for 5 weeks):

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Sawyer, running in fucking circles around the gym like he’s been let out of a pen. He only stopped to shove some kid wearing socks on a gym floor which was humorous and irresponsible at the same time.

Sully, refusing to stand like he’s a legless drunk, eating scarves like I haven’t fed him in a week. The kid is a hangry drunk. I make no excuses for my #2.

Sawyer refusing to do a somersault and end with a proud standing pose w his hands over his head, flat out refusing to yell ta da! Which is confusing because when he slid down the fire pole we awkwardly have in our living room, he easily repeated, I’m a stripper! when I told him how to say it. (You’re welcome, world)

Sully threw up on the mat 3 times probably out of pure excitement.

One of them shit their pants.

Both of them left shoeless and with no fucks to give.

I was the only one sweating and jumping and rolling around like a beached whale begging to be put back into water.

So fuck children’s gymnastics. I don’t have time to take an hour out of my day to be proven my children are terrible at following rules and to highlight I’m not only unfit, but incapable of completing a routine created for 2 year olds.

Back to supporting contact sports like kick ball, cage fighting and full contact wrestling, things my children excel at.

So I guess this is three…

In the past 24 hours, Sawyer’s conversational skills seem to have exploded.  His sentences and word bank have been growing for months and in spending time with his cousins and older family members recently, he really started talking so much more, but then this week, jesus, he just hasn’t stopped.  
At school pick up last night, we had an epic battle over whether or not he felt like putting his jacket on, in the sleet, on a night I just wanted to get home.  I don’t know what it is about putting his on his jacket, but the minute I tell him to, he starts glaring at me like an angry koala.   I asked nicely, I begged, I demanded.  Nothing.  I pretended to leave, one of my go to parenting tactics.  I told him the door wouldn’t open if someone tried to walk out jacket-less.  He said yes it does, look, and pointed to two parents who waltzed out jacket-less, making me a damned liar.  Now he wouldn’t even consider putting it on.  
Put it on, Sawyer. I’m being SERIOUS.  I tried to make the wild eyes that mean fucking business, those eyes that I’ve been trying to master for almost three years now.  Those eyes that mean, you better stop moving and almost breathing and stop doing what you’re doing but don’t you dare make me say words and you are going to hear about this when we get home.  I truly can’t wait to master that life skill.

No, you.  100% got that from me.

If you do not put it on, Sawyer, you have to stay the night here by yourself.  

Bye! And then he went to walk away, like staying here alone was better than putting on that goddamned waste of money jacket that he only wears when someone else suggests he put it on.

Later on in the night, after dinner, on the couch snuggling, he looked up at me and said, Are you looking at me? which for a second made me feel creepy, until he casually leaned over, swept my leg up and down and then told me, Mommy, those are prickeeellllllyyyyy! Then he did it again and screamed when he made contact with the forest growing on my legs.  

They are not prickly, I defended myself, but I laughed because he’s beyond observant lately, and mostly when I’m naked, which has been very awkward in the instances where he just comes up to me, pokes something and tosses out the first three adjectives that come to mind.  It’s funny the level of shame a child you birthed can bring to your life.
Yes, he insisted, they hurt. Well, now he’s a liar because the hair on my leg is actually so long, it’s impossible for it to be sharp.  So he’s lying and I’m feeling bad about being a lazy woman.
When I changed him into his pjs last night, he slapped his naked belly, shouting, SAWYER HAS A BIG BELLY and when I laughed and poked his belly with my finger, he shrieked, BIG BELLY LIKE MOMMY! and then he tried to poke my belly and then we had a sit down and had to discuss what happened to men when they poked a woman’s belly and squealed and laughed.
This morning he ran by me in a flash, knocked his brother on his ass, kicked a soccer ball into the wall and without me noticing, swiped my iced coffee off the counter and shouted, MMMM TASTY! as he slurped as fast as he could.  After hurdling a few annoying toys and sprinting at him for my precious coffee,  I swiped it back and said, No, Soy, no more coffee, remember?, he shouted COFFEE IS MY FAVORITE and tucked it under his arm and ran like he was playing football and made a fucking mess in the process.  
Not three yet.  And I have two of them.  I am fucked.

So many stars

Every time I come home, I inevitably have to answer the question from someone, what are you running from? And I say all the time, I’m not running from anything, I’d like to think I’m running toward the new.  But, if you look at my last decade, you could find enough evidence to prove I should be running from something, but I’ll stand firm always in that I’m not.

But then I come home.  I come home and in between the loud and  chaotic visits to family, friends, discount stores and seafood huts that sell lobster and clam strips, I begin to find it hard to defend so many things I think I can stand firm on from an ocean away.

I don’t need home.

I don’t miss home.

I have never been absolutely ruined by home.

Home will not swallow me.

Home will not reduce me to a child.

Home will not win.

But it does. It always does.

I ended a night full of family and laughter and food and love the other night with a cigarette on the stairs of the sun porch of my new/old house.  I sat alone, in the light of the moon at 3am and I slowly inhaled as I sat quietly and listened, really listened, in silence, for the first time in a very long time.  For the first time, I heard the heavy rushing of the mill across the street, and the water soothed me and made me happy to live in such proximity.  I saw the faint street lights and I was surrounded by only the sound of rustling leaves and wind blowing against my house and rattling the shutters above me.  I could smell the wet and turned leaves, just recently so vibrant, but on their way out, and I closed my eyes, rubbing one small pile within my fingertips, knowing it was the last chance for me AND the leaves, and it was peaceful and sad all at the same time.

I sat quietly, hopeful but defeated.  I was back to claim my future, but I was in a place I hadn’t known for twenty years.  Twenty years I had been gone, but around every corner, I smelled and relived my childhood, and while it was joyous, it was beyond fucking painful.

I never ran away from anything, but I realized, I avoided coming back.

The sign of the bakery that hung outside my dentist was the place my father took us twice a year to celebrate a lack of cavities, a celebration worthy of whoopie pies and cream filled puffs with flakey crusts that ruined sweaters but caused infectious giggles.

I drove by the electric company my father used to work, the one where the light bulbs hung and swung in the windows at night, the one where the gum ball machine sold salted peanuts and m&ms, where the hallways smelled of men and my father’s office hung a tiny basketball net, a net I never could quite get the ball in.

 

I drove by the area that once had a tiny dirt road, one 1/10 of a mile from my grandmother’s house, the place we held Thanksgivings, the place next door to my Meme’s house, the place I retreated to when my house was just too much, where I learned to play cards, marbles, the place Pepsi floats never ran dry and oatmeal muffins were always warm and you were put to bed for crying too hard because crying too hard makes you sick and no one likes a child who cries til they’re sick.

 

I drove to get groceries and passed the store that we bought Slush Puppies from on hot, summer days.  Drinks filled with lots of crushed ice and double, triple pumps of raspberry, so pickled, our faces remained sour for the rest of the day.  I passed the train tracks where we laid pennies when we couldn’t sleep, because the trains came around the clock and we were too little to understand but if we laid pennies down, it was ok that we never slept because we could race down the hot tracks and find our flattened treasure, tuck it away and go back and try for sleep again.

 

I saw the florist we used to pass as children, where we’d stop in and trade our change for one rose we never could quite afford, to bring to our mother, who’d light up and smile and behave as though it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. I tasted the clams I’ve waited to eat once a year for ten years, and I unbuttoned my pants and swore at Germany for their lack of produce from the salty waters, promising I’d never return if I could be fed the depths of the sea until the end of time.

I smelled the ocean and closed my eyes and tried not to cry.  I watched my children leap in a pile of wet leaves, almost drowning each other in a sea of autumn perfection and only paused to snapshot that moment until the end of time.  I came home one night from a long day of adventure, far past bedtime and my son, not yet three said to me, Mommy, can we stay and see the stars?  He’s never, ever said that to me across the way, and so I said, yes, of course we can, Sawyer, of course we can.

He looked far up in the sky, put his arms out wide, swung around and around and tripped hard and fell on his back and i gasped.  I ran over and expected to cuddle him, bring him inside and tell him it would never happen again.

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“Mommy,” he said, without crying.

I held my breath.

“There are just so many stars and I saw them and I fell.”

And my heart broke.

Because no matter how long you’ve been away, no matter how much you’ve endured, no matter what’s in your future, if you take the time to lean back your head, spread your arms, spin round and round and round, you’ll find,

there are just so many stars.

I’m so glad to be home.

Stating the Obvious

So I went to the dentist on Tuesday, because I was having lightning type pain in my face from last week and I waited five days to see him chewing on cloves and hoping I wouldn’t die. I swear to god my mouth has gone to shit and i went there expecting a root canal or a talking to, and yeah, i got all of the above.

After a panoramic X-ray, i was told I needed two more root canals and a surgery on my jaw for a bone infection gone wrong at the hands of another dentist, not entirely shocking but my current dentist told me his current recommendation had nothing to do with the pain I was still feeling on the right side of my mouth.

After yet another stimulating jaw massage, he informed me I was just over stressed again and need muscle relaxers, and did I have any? Like i’m some mother fucking pharmacy because NO, DO I LOOK LIKE I GET MUSCLE RELAXERS ON THE REGULAR? So I was prescribed some, told I’d be spending my entire November with him to fix my face and I was relieved to know I would not have to carve my own teeth out with a spoon to fix the pain I was feeling at bedtime.

Before I left his chair, I paused and thought to ask, hey wait, I’m feeling kind of bad about the lack of enamel on the back on my front teeth.

What are you talking about?, he asked, thinking I’m crazy again.

Well, I carried on, I feel like the back of my front teeth feel rough and I think it’s because i bred two kids in the past 3 years, that’s what I was told, right, that teeth go crazy in pregnancy and I feel like it’s weirdly rough so can you look and tell me what toothpaste to use?

He looked at my teeth and then looked at me and said, Do you drink a lot of orange juice in the morning and then brush your teeth directly after? 

No, I said, Is that a thing? Because I drink coffee only in the morning and do not do that and did not know that was a thing in life.

Do you have an abnormal amount of reflux, then? Are you acid-y?, he asked, curiously.

No, no acid, I countered.

And then, thoughtfully, he gave me the once over, looked me up and down and said, and I quote, said flatly, “Well, you’re not anorexic.”

And that was the end of my appointment.  My dentist, the one I pay 200 euro an hour to torture me, gave me the once over and reminded me that I have an inner tube tummy and mermaid legs, and that I am, and have never been, anorexic.

So there’s that.  It’s going to be a long week.