Important Stuff

Grief

photo of woman covering her faceAre you familiar with the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle?  It’s more commonly known as the five stages of grief. After the initial shock of a situation wears off one tends to have the following five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Whether we want to admit it or not, I believe every single person in the United States if not the whole world is going through one of these phases right now. Hell, sometimes I think I go through all five phases in one day. 

For me, the grief cycle started Thursday night, March 12. I was in denial this whole Covid-19 was a real concern. After all, it’s just a little virus like the flu. My kids were at school finishing up a week of testing. I had been to work that day and was furiously packing for a long-planned and anticipated Spring Break trip to Florida. Then the text messages started pouring in. Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando had closed. We were due to go to one of those parks. In anger, I immediately got on the phone to find out about a refund. It took me more than three hours and two different calls but I got a full refund minus the trip insurance I bought. Fun fact they keep your trip insurance payment, which was annoying.  In an effort to bargain, I  decided all would not be lost. On Friday, after I got my refund and got home from work, I decided to start looking for alternate places to go for Spring Break. I tried Silver Dollar City in the Ozarks; it was closed. I tried Dollywood in Pigeon Forge; it was closed. I tried Big Bend National Park. While open, there wasn’t a hotel to be found for 50 miles surrounding the park.  Depressed, I realized we were stuck at home, where we have gotten rain nearly every day for 30 days straight.  The last time we had a Spring Break this shitty was about six years ago when everyone in the family had either flu or strep. Finally, I accepted this was our lot and there wasn’t anything any of us could do about it. 

This would be my first taste of this little cycle. In the past 11 days, the school has been canceled almost indefinitely and I’ve essentially lost my job as my workplace was deemed non-essential. It wasn’t much money but it was fun and it pays for little things like my daughter’s dance stuff, my son’s football, and our vacation.  Thank God my husband still has his job and is currently working from home. I know many aren’t so lucky.  School is evolving so we are home learning. Like everyone else, we can’t find a roll of toilet paper in the city. And, like a very large portion of the country, we are only allowed out of our house to go to the doctor or to get food. I’m an extroverted introvert by nature. I like to be alone but the same cannot be said for my kids. I mentioned to the hubs that I don’t know what will incite riots first, if the internet goes down or if grocery stores run out of food.  I think the only thing sustaining most of us is streaming services and social media. 

For each of the above issues, I’ve done a bit of the five stages. I am the Queen of the Work Around. I can figure out an alternate way to do just about anything. It may take longer than the preferred method, it may be super convoluted but I can make things happen. I rarely give up.  There have been times in the past few days when I’ve realized the work around isn’t really a work around; it’s more like a pivot. Most days I flip between denial and bargaining and then go straight to acceptance. I guess that means the issue wasn’t worth the anger or the depression and maybe that’s a good thing. 

How are you holding up? How have you had to go through these five stages of grief? Have you lost a job? Are the walls closing in? What are your coping mechanisms?

P.S. Don’t come at me with ‘people are dying and you’re worried about a vacation or your kid’s school’. I’m not an idiot. Yes, I know people are dying. Two in my household have underlying symptoms, one of those being poor lung function. I get the gravity of the whole situation, however, this is what I/we in my family are dealing with. And while it’s petty white people problems it still sucks.  It sucks for everyone right now.  If there is anything good about this virus it’s we are all united in our worry. Be safe.

Photo Credit: Free photo from Pexels.com by Eternal Happiness. How ironic that it comes up as a photo for grief. 
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Important Stuff, Uncategorized

Death of a Friendship

Friendships are a funny thing. I have never gotten the hang of the idea that some people are around just for a season. I find it hurts when the season is over and I have a hard time letting go. Sometimes I can see the friendship fading. It usually starts with a spat or series of bitchy incidents. But, most of the time I’m completely blind sighted by it or worse, I wake up one day and realize I haven’t talked to a person in many years and that neither of us has bothered to make the effort.  I have become weirdly resigned to that last bit – the friendship that slowly fades away. Or, at least I thought I had until last week when I found out a once very good friend had died suddenly at the age of 43.

My friend and I met at a time when we both needed each other.  I was a stay at home mom to a sick toddler and an infant. I had just moved to a new town where I knew very few people so I joined a bunco club. The first night I met R (no names here folks) she came in late in a swirl of energy and perfume and we bonded right away.  We had so much in common. We both had a similar upbringing. We both loved music. Our birthdays were within days of each other. We both married men who were our polar opposites on the same day and we both refused to act our age.  She too had small children, although older than mine. And, she was so restless. She wanted more but really “allowed” to do much of anything about it. We both needed someone we could talk to and have bitch sessions with.  Unfortunately, she also needed alcohol. R had a real problem. It landed her in rehab and in jail with a DWI the short few years we lived in the same town.  As always happens, my husband’s job transferred us, this time to Texas. R and I vowed to stay in touch as friends always do. I truly believed we would as I knew her situation and I knew she needed a nonjudgemental ear. Then it happened, the phone calls and text messages dwindled. She was allowed to get a job, there was drama with her marriage and then she disappeared and stopped writing back. I became engrossed in my new life in my new town and rarely bothered.  Then, in 2015 the news came she and her family were in a horrible car accident. The doctors didn’t expect her to live. Her husband didn’t. It was really bad still we only chatted a few times after the incident. Again, she disappeared, until last week when I saw on Facebook she had passed away.  Her now high school senior son found her dead in the bed one morning.  An autopsy will be done to discover the reason. I’m pretty sure I can guess but at this juncture, it doesn’t really matter.  The end result is the same.

Now, I’m beating myself up for not staying in touch. Yes, rationally I know I did try and it’s not all my fault.  After all, if someone refuses to answer you what are you supposed to do? Yet, I can’t help but wonder if maybe I and a few others had kept trying to break through to her maybe the drinking would stop or slow down. But, again, I know the answer. Addiction and depression are a bitch. And, even if you do have a network of people who love and care for you ultimately the addict has to do the hard work and has to want to get sober and well.

I feel like when a friend or relative dies it’s supposed to teach you something. I can’t help but wonder what her unexpected death is supposed to teach me? Try harder at friendships? Addiction is insidious?  I’m not sure. A million of those little proverbs are rolling around in my head right now and none of them feel right.  What I do know for sure is even though I haven’t spoken to her in nearly four years, I will miss her. I will miss her smile, her laugh, and her devil may care attitude. I will miss the knowledge that somewhere out in this world is this beautiful but struggling person who just wanted unconditional love.

Finally, because she and I are both Southerners and because I believe the ones we love are never really gone as long as they are remembered by someone, I’m going to share a piece of her with you. Below is my friend’s signature dish recipe. I’m making it later this week in her honor.

TOMATO-CREAM SAUCE FOR PASTA
INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
¾ teaspoon white sugar
Directions:
In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn’t
burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to
boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in heavy
cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Pour over favorite cooked
pasta and toss
SAUSAGE BREAD
INGREDIENTS:
1 loaf frozen yeast bread (thawed) – Rhodes bread found in frozen section of Walmart
1 package breakfast sausage
½ medium onion, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese (as much as you’d like)
shredded mozzarella cheese (as much as you’d like)
melted butter

Cook sausage with onions and drain. Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 15 x 8 inch triangle, then baste with melted butter.

Layer ingredients upon rolled dough, starting with cooked sausage, then cheeses. Bring both sides of bread together and pinch in middle to close.  Be sure ends of bread are tucked in as well. Turn bread over so that pinched side is the bottom and place on greased baking pan, then baste top with melted butter.

Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned.

Note:  Since the Rhodes frozen bread comes in a package of three, I usually double the recipe, thawing two loaves and cooking two packages of sausage together.  We eat one and I freeze the other (uncooked) for another time.

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Important Stuff, Motherhood/Parenting, Rants

Just

As some of you know I got a part time job a few months ago.  It’s fun, has great hours and has got me back into the workforce. I’m not paying any bills with my paycheck. It’s more like a vacation fund. But, as someone who had their first regular job at 13 until 30, it fills a void. I missed that validation of a paycheck and stating a profession when asked by strangers.  Whether we want to or not, we tie some of our identity to our jobs. And, I will admit, I felt somehow less of a person when I said I was a stay at home mom. Even though I knew it was a very valid job I looked at other women with jobs outside the home and felt less; like I was a sell out because I didn’t bring in a paycheck. That feeling ended today.

A few hours ago, while at my job,  I listened to a client talk about something that happened to her last night.  She was at a parent meeting at a local school.  She and her husband were chatting with an acquaintance. This acquaintance asked my client, “What do you do again?” She replied, “I’m a stay at home mom.”  She said the acquaintance looked confused and asked, “How many kids do you still have at home?”  She said her youngest is now in the 7th grade.  Then, some guy sitting behind them, a complete stranger who wasn’t even involved in the conversation, piped in with, “Then you’re not a stay at home mom. You just stay at home.”  At that point, a bell rang and the parent meeting was called to order so my client couldn’t say anything in response.   My client described the waves of emotions that hit her after this douchey perfect stranger’s response. She said she felt shocked like she’d been slapped and then ashamed because this jerk basically invalidated her existence which she has tied to her job of homemaker.

Just hearing her recount this story, I became enraged on her behalf. How dare he? He had no right. Then, I realized isn’t this what I’ve been mentally doing for years and what many stay at home mom’s do in general. How many times have I been asked, ‘what do you do’ and I respond with ‘I’m just a stay at home mom.” The key word here being ‘just’.  I’m not ‘just’ anything and neither is my client.  Somehow our society has gotten it into their collective heads that stay at home mothers or homemakers sit around on their ass eating bonbons and aren’t productive members of society.  It wasn’t so long ago that most women were homemakers and those that worked outside the home were an oddity.  Homemaker was a valid career.  And, despite not earning a paycheck, these women ran half the world. They kept the house clean, the laundry done, the items bought and the food prepared. They played taxi and tutor and basically took care of all the family’s needs while the men brought home the paycheck and little else.  How did we as a collective get to a place where those jobs are less valid than the majority of the other jobs out there?

I wish my client had known that asshole’s profession.  I wish she could have said a sneer, “Oh you’re just a insert generic job title here.”  I would have loved to have seen his face fall when he realized that his job isn’t that significant in the grand scheme of things. I would be willing to bet my minuscule paycheck that he’s not out there saving lives, securing world peace or even shaping young minds.  I hope to hell he’s not shaping young minds. He’s probably got some whatever job that pays a decent wage and could be done any number of people with a few working brain cells.  Deep down he probably hates his job and has his own issues.  I feel sorry for the people that live with him.  Can you imagine what this guy is like if he’s willing to say such a shitty thing to a perfect stranger? Bottom line is that guy is ‘just’ an asshole and my client is so much more than ‘just’.

 

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Books, Favorites, Important Stuff, Random, Recommendations

Podcast Rec

believed

Y’all know I occasionally do favorite things and recommendations – usually for books and movies.  Today, I’m doing something new. I’m recommending a podcast. I love podcasts. They are great for long commutes and when slugging away on the treadmill or trails.  I wish I could take credit and say I discovered this one on my own.  It was actually rec’ed to me by a dear friend. The podcast is called Believed. You can find it at  michiganradio.org/believed and on the NPR One app, Pocket Casts, Apple Podcasts, and wherever podcasts are available.

I feel I should give you a warning. This is not a feel-good podcast. It’s about the Olympic Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar and the sexual assault cases brought against him nearly a year ago.  I know many of you will shake your head ‘no’ at this discovery and say “no way” but please hear me out. I know many of us are weary about the whole sexual assault ‘Me Too’ movement.  I don’t think this podcast is riding the movements’ coattails. as this case exploded before that movement. For me, the take away for this podcast is to remember sexual assault/harassment can happen anywhere and to anyone and in situations where trust is just a given.

This podcast was a real wake up for me. Even with the “Me Too” movement, we as women tend to forget or bury things even though we’ve all endured something. It might have been something as benign as a creepy teacher that liked to leer at girls with large chests (Yep, that was my school.). Or, it could be something more serious like a hansy boss or a date that ended in rape. We need podcasts like this one to remind us these predatory people will stop at nothing to get what they want.  There are many clowns out there, like Larry Nassar, that have been pulling crap for years and never get caught. They have perfected the cover-up.  They are super slick and hard to catch.  As a parent of a young girl, it was a reminder that even the most trusted adults can be wolves sheep’s clothing. Just because someone holds a position of trust does not mean they are trustworthy.  I urge any parent to listen to this, especially parents of young girls who have close relationships with other adults.

 

 

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Important Stuff, Opinon

Time’s Up

NOTE – This is a polarizing topic.  Before you click that unlike/unfollow button hear me out and let’s start a dialog.  It is only through understanding that we achieve enlightenment. The next post won’t be so controversial.

I recently saw an episode of Ellen featuring Tom Hanks and Merle Streep promoting their new movie, The Post.  This interview aired shortly after the Golden Globes Awards so the conversation centered around Orpah for President and the Time’s Up movement.  I encourage you to watch the video linked here and then come back and read the rest of this post. And, we’re back.  Did you see poor Tom Hanks’ face?  He looked like he wanted that couch to open up and grab him. This man, who has done nothing wrong, (that we know of) looked so guilty and embarrassed I half expected him to apologize for being male.  It was in that moment that I realized I hate the Time’s Up and Me Too movements and I am genuinely scared about its future ramifications

Before I go any further let me make one thing clear, no person regardless of gender should have to endure sexual harassment and/or sexual assault at any time and in any situation.  Like most every woman, I have a few Me Too stories, some I have shared with others and some I will never speak of.  When faced with those incidents I didn’t always handle the situation properly.  I didn’t always go to the authorities or a superior. Sometimes I took care of the situation (a.k.a. punched the guy and left). Other times, I just let it slide, or blamed myself. I realize now that was not the right thing to do. The ladies who came forward in the Harvey Weinstein case and in the Larry Nassar case did the right thing.  The gross misuse of power not to mention the act itself, especially in team doctor Larry Nassar’s case, is unspeakable.

Which leads me to my next point, what about all the other cases that have come forward in the last couple of weeks?  What about the ladies yelling about James Franco and Aziz Ansar or the 51 other men the New York Times reported that have been accused of sexual misconduct since the Weinstein scandal broke? Are all these men guilty?  Some are, without a doubt, they’ve admitted to their evil deeds.  But are all of them guilty?  I doubt it.  Take the Aziz Ansar case, he acted like an ill-mannered douche bag but his date was consenting and when things got beyond her comfort level she should have left. In fact, that’s what she eventually did.  His date should have trusted her gut and left sooner.  Now thanks to both of their behavior and his date’s letter to an online magazine, he has a black stain on his name.  All one has to do is yell sexual assault and someone’s life is ruined.  What is this, Massachusetts in the late 1600s or 2018?

What about all the women whose lives have been ruined by these entitled assholes that think with their little head instead of their big one, don’t they deserve justice? Absolutely, the guilty deserve punishment but who determines guilt?  Much like the witch trials of 1692, all it takes these days is the suggestion wrongdoing and one is branded forever. The knee-jerk, guilty until proven innocent line of thinking makes me fearful for future generations, more specifically my 13 year old son. What happens when he and some other kid share a consensual kiss or more and afterward the other kid decides they didn’t want the attention?  Are we going to have to walk around with consent forms on our persons before any contact? “Hey I like you and would like to kiss you but before we pucker up can you sign this form stating you won’t go to the authorities, talk crap about me on the internet or otherwise besmirch my reputation?”

But, women have had to deal with being shamed for sexual assault for centuries, isn’t it time for men to prove their innocence?  While I understand this line of thinking, it’s just as horrible for a woman to have to deal with the automatic assumption that her assault was somehow ‘asked for or didn’t truly happen’ as it is for a man to have to deal with the automatic assumption that he’s an assaulter.  If we as a society are truly striving for equality why do we continue to play favorites?  Why do we feel to level the playing field we have to tear one thing down to build up another?  We absolutely have to stop this reparations line of thinking.  We as a society have to stop perpetuating the idea that one gender (or race or whatever) is any better than the other.  No one is better.  Every person is in charge of their own decisions and how they choose to behave.

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Important Stuff

Don’t Make Me Repeat Myself

I’m gonna give y’all fair warning. This blog will not be for the faint of heart.  I have a smart Southern mouth and I intend to use it.  I curse a lot but I love Jesus.   I can guarantee at some juncture I will offend you.  That’s okay.  It’s totally okay to offend people; not out of malice but because one simply cannot walk through life and not offend someone – at least not in this day and age.  What I hope to do is share my thoughts, open a dialog for discussion, get you to think, get things off my chest, and generally just brain dump.  For any Harry Potter fans out there, think of this as a digital pensive.  Oh yeah, see what I just did there with the Harry Potter reference, I’m gonna do that a lot.  I am a wealth of useless pop culture knowledge. I speak in book, movie and music quotes. I have a special affinity for all things Disney and Harry Potter. Oh yeah and my favorite phrase is y’all. You’re gonna hear that A LOT.

P.S. See what I did with the title? Trying to have it Y’all.  It’s a play on words for trying to have it all.  But you already knew or assumed that right?  Ironically, it will be the basis for my next entry.

P.P.S. I should probably throw out there that I mean absolutely no copyright infringement what so ever in regard to any movie, music or book quote.  I will attribute ownership as much as possible.  Also, as an umbrella, I mean no other weird infringement that may make anyone want to sue me.  I’m just writing down my thoughts and blowing off steam y’all.  I’m not trying to make money of the backs of people way more creative than me.

P.P.S.  I could probably use an editor other than spell check.  I mean, I try, but it’s been a while so I’m sure my grammar is atrocious.  Hopefully, I’ll get back in the groove soon but don’t count on it.  Full disclosure folks.

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