It’s Monday; Let’s Try To Smile

My son said he would definitely go to that.
So very close!
A little late but maybe you can use it to fill out your Bingo card.
This is the exact conversation I have had with people when I tell them I’m running and especially when I tell them I would get up before work to go running.

Thanksgiving, Part 2

Writing my post late at night (early in the morning) brought back memories of Thanksgivings past, and of what could have been this year. It was a good day, especially considering everything that’s going on. At one point I thought my head would explode. That was back when the CDC, or maybe it was Fauci, was telling everyone to stay home for Thanksgiving and giving lovely alternate ideas, such as a recipe swap or a Zoom Thanksgiving.

Really? A recipe swap? What kind of bullshit is that? 

Hey guys! Instead of eating we’re going to do something different this year. We’re going to swap recipes! Won’t that be fun? I’ll tell Nana how I make my stuffing and she’ll tell me how she makes her famous pumpkin pie. Yeah, we’re not going to eat. We’re just going to swap recipes.

That was about the dumbest idea I think I’ve ever heard. Swapping recipes does not compensate for not seeing your family. It’s not even close. Just don’t even celebrate the damn holiday if that’s what you’re going to do.

I’m equally glad we didn’t have to have a Zoom Thanksgiving.

Hey, that stuffing looks fantastic. Can you put some on my plate? Oh wait! I forgot we’re at two separate houses. Of course you can’t. I’ll just look at it and think about how great it would be if I could actually eat it. At least it’s better than the recipe swap. This time there’s actually food there.

What is the purpose of that? To torture yourself with all the delicious food that you’re not going to be able to eat because it’s at someone else’s house? Why don’t I sit here and watch you eat an entire chocolate cake, too? That should be fun.

I know a lot of people were not going anywhere, instead choosing to celebrate with only their immediate family. I detest holidays like that. My other brother’s wife always talked about wanting to have Christmas with just the immediate family. She described it as her dream Christmas. It was my idea of a nightmare Christmas. I never understood that. To me, if you’re with immediate family only it’s just another day but with more cooking. Being with extended family is part of the magic of the holidays. It was the one time of the year that everyone was together. Maybe I spent too many years trying to celebrate holidays with only me, Jerry Lee, and the kids. There’s a big difference between choosing that and having it forced upon you. Once we moved to Utah we didn’t spend very many Thanksgivings with family. 

We spent eight Thanksgivings out in Utah and of those eight we went home only one of those. One other year my mom and nephew came out to Utah. There might have been a year that his parents came out but I’m not sure; probably not. The rest of the time it was the four of us, and it was not pleasant.

The first year I cooked and cooked and cooked. For four people. Hours spent in the kitchen. Maybe twenty minutes spent eating. And then I got to clean up and we had leftovers for days. Side note: My kids are not big fans of leftovers. 

That was it. That was our big Thanksgiving celebration. Me cooking all day, Jerry Lee holed up in the bedroom watching TV, and my two kids doing God only knows what. They were probably watching television as well.

The next year I tried doing turkey Manhattans to keep the leftovers to a minimum. That didn’t go over well, and I’m sure I still made a ton of side dishes. Jerry Lee always had to have dumplings and macaroni and cheese. Probably stuffing, too.

Finally, Jerry Lee suggested I order dinner from someplace so that I didn’t have to cook. Which I did. But, re-read the previous paragraph. There was still plenty of cooking to be done. Those places don’t let you customize the meal much. You may get a choice between this side or that, but you can’t list everything you want and they whip it up for you. He insisted on having macaroni and cheese. The kids wanted dumplings. They all wanted corn casserole. I wanted the green bean casserole. One year he started getting snippy with me and told me the whole point of ordering out was so that I didn’t have to cook. I told him if I was the one doing all the cooking and they were all getting their favorites then dammit I was going to have the one damn thing I really wanted!

One year I ordered from Marie Callender’s and I swear I spent an hour microwaving food. It was pre-cooked and had to be reheated. It was good, but it still took a lot of time. And there was no green bean casserole. It was a medley of vegetables.

Another year we ordered from Cracker Barrel. Their stuffing was horrible! The rest of it was fine but I usually only eat stuffing once a year so that was a big disappointment.

Yet another year we ordered from one of the grocery stores. The thing I remember the most about that meal was the amazing cranberry and orange salad they had. So good!

There was always more cooking to be done though and it always took about 2 hours. For four people. The same four people I saw every day.

I don’t want it to sound like every year was horrible. The first two were a bit wobbly. Then when I realized this was how our Thanksgivings were going to go from here on out I decided to take matters into my own hands and figure out a way to make the holiday more bearable when everyone else in our extended family was spending it together.

That’s when I came across Feast With the Beast at our zoo. Fortunately, Utah weather is fairly mild, even in the winter months, so we bundled up and headed out to the zoo every Thanksgiving morning. We got to watch the animals have their “feast”.

The elephants were always a huge draw. They would give them these huge, thousand pound pumpkins and let them smash them and eat them. One year the little baby elephant, Zuri, climbed into the pumpkin and just sat there in all her glory. It was adorable.

The first year we heard the mountain lions as they got their treats. They were big hunks of meat and bones. Our backs were turned as we were focused on something else but the snarls and sounds coming from their cage was something I’ll never forget. It was truly impressive. The next year we were all set to watch it from the beginning but for some reason we never got to see them get their feast again. I think maybe the feeding time was after the time we needed to leave to pick up our food. 

The monkeys and lemurs were always a treat, watching them pick through the food.

It actually wasn’t a horrible time. Sure, there were times Rock Star was playing chicken with Mother Nature, declaring she didn’t want to wear a coat and then complaining that she was cold. But she wouldn’t wear her coat. But she’s cold. So on and so forth until the end of time… 

And for some reason going to the zoo on Thanksgiving was a very popular idea out in Utah. The crowds started becoming an issue for Jerry Lee. Every year he got more and more disgruntled with the people there, complaining that nobody could see the primates eating or that you needed to get to the elephant exhibit about an hour before they were going to smash the pumpkins because the crowds were so huge.

Another thing we started doing was going to the movies. I can’t say for certain that we went every Thanksgiving but I’m pretty sure we saw both Frozen and Enchanted on Thanksgiving. Different years, of course. Same holiday. 

Let me tell you, movies are even bigger than the zoo out there. Like, theaters sold out big. Because I always celebrated with extended family up until that point and we didn’t leave the house I had no idea so many people went to the movies on Thanksgiving. It was mind blowing.

I never understood why there were so many crowds. I knew why we were there. We were over 1500 miles away from our families. It was just us. We were trying to get out of the house and create a tradition instead of sitting at home, feeling sorry for ourselves. But these people had families in town! Never in my life had I gone off and done “things” on holidays. Well, okay, one time when I was in my early twenties two of my friends and I went to a bar Thanksgiving evening. But that was well after dinner. Holidays were spent at the house with the family. We didn’t go to the movies or to the zoo. We socialized with one another.

When I was younger, or rather, before my parents divorced, my parents would host Christmas Eve at our house. My grandparents, great-grandparents and aunt would come over for our Christmas dinner. We always got to open one gift before dinner. Then we had to wait until the dishes were done before we could head over to the tree. Gifts would be opened. Toys put together. Clothes tried on. Eventually we went to bed and waited for Santa to arrive in the morning.

On Christmas morning we woke to see what Santa had brought us and then we headed over to my grandmother’s house for Christmas lunch. It was the same guest list, just a different location. We typically spent the entire day over there and as the day turned to evening my grandmother would unpack the refrigerator and lay out the leftovers.

Even once my parents divorced and we no longer spent the holidays with my grandparents Christmas Eve was all about celebrating with the family. No one else.

I still remember the time I went to the movies with my neighbor and her daughter on Christmas Eve. It was the first time ever that I had been outside the house doing something on Christmas Eve. I was astounded that people actually went places on Christmas Eve because that was always our big celebration. 

I remember, too, my ex-boyfriend’s younger sister wanting to go to a party on Christmas Eve and actually being allowed to go after opening Christmas gifts. Another one that left me shocked.

Things did change over the years. Once I started driving I began taking my brother down to my grandparent’s house so we could spend Christmas Day with them while my mom spent the day at her future husband’s house with their friends.

Through the years my mom and stepdad often invited friends who had no where else to go to celebrate with us. Even today my sister-in-law’s brothers will often join us for one or both of the holidays. It’s not as though we’re anti anyone-who-is-not-family. But for me, the holidays will always be about bringing people together, celebrating, eating, and making memories.

I’ve tried it though. This whole spending the day with immediate family only. It was probably Jerry Lee’s idea, come to think of it. It was a disaster. It was Picasso’s very first Christmas. As usual we drove the two hours to my mom’s for Christmas Eve; however; instead of spending the night down at my mom’s house and spending Christmas Day with her and my brother, we went back up to Michigan. I think Jerry Lee wanted to celebrate the day in our house with only us and the two kids. All was well in the beginning. The kids woke up. Rock Star, age two, was excited to see what Santa brought her. I think we may have even saved her gifts from us to open that morning instead of taking them all down to my mom’s.

Then we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch. Only it wasn’t open. Why? Because Cracker Barrel is closed on Christmas Day. I didn’t know that back in 2002. Long story short, we ended up having Christmas dinner at Denny’s. Instead of a home cooked meal with extended family I had a steak at Denny’s. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of the day was spent with Jerry Lee watching TV and me wrangling babies. What a grand holiday!

Then we moved to Utah. The first two years we made it back home for Christmas. The next three years I would take the kids and we would leave the day after Christmas to spend celebrate the holiday with my family. Then after about a week I would drive on down to Jerry Lee’s family and celebrate with them as well. Finally two things happened simultaneously.

First, Rock Star finally became an optional in gymnastics. Their season began in January so taking 2-3 weeks off in December was not going to work. Her coaches would have killed her. Probably thrown her off the team. Secondly, and even more of an issue, was the fact that my kids’ school changed from a year round calendar to a traditional school calendar. When my kids were on the year round schedule they had about 4 weeks off at Christmas time. We had plenty of time to go back home and spend the holidays with family. Once we switched to a traditional calendar they had one week off.

After the first Christmas we spent out in Utah by ourselves, the one where the kids opened their gifts Christmas Eve morning and there was nothing to do the rest of the day, I made it a point to fill that day with activities. We went bowling. Sometimes we went to the movies. We went out to dinner. And then we came home and opened Christmas presents. 

The bowling alley was always packed on Christmas Eve and there was a decent crowd at the movies as well. Not as big as Thanksgiving but not empty theaters either.

I can’t complain about our Christmases out there. Aside from the year I nearly had a meltdown because I had been looking forward to our “Crabby Christmas” at Joe’s Crab Shack for months only to not be able to eat at Joe’s Crab Shack, they were pretty good days. Then again, I jam packed those suckers, too, and it’s not like we sat at home doing nothing.

All of this wandering down memory lane only to say I’m very thankful I was able to spend it with family after all.

Another Thanksgiving In the Books

It’s past midnight so technically it’s no longer Thanksgiving but I thought I’d write a Thanksgiving post anyway.

I got up and ran 3.25 miles so I could justify having some pumpkin pie and all the carbs I was going to consume. When I got back, even before jumping in the shower, I started cooking. My mom and I split the cooking. She did a new recipe for cranberries which was really good. She also made the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, the turkey, and deviled eggs.

For as long as I can remember every holiday meal has included my mom’s deviled eggs. With the exception of Picasso, and maybe my nephew, we all love them. Some years we even fight over them. She’s learned from her mistakes though and makes quite a few of them so we don’t have to fight to the death for the last one.

The turkey was actually pretty good this year. I’ve often said it’s my least favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. I could easily have a Thanksgiving feast with only sides. Stuffing? Love it! Green bean casserole? Oh, give me a heaping pile of that. Pumpkin pie? Yes, please! I’ll even take the mashed potatoes and dumplings over the turkey usually. But this year it was good.

For my part I made the obligatory corn casserole, dumplings, stuffing, and a meatloaf. I think it’s now a tradition for me to make a meatloaf along with the turkey. This is the second year now that I’ve made a meatloaf. Last year I made one because my niece asked me to and buttered me up by telling me how much she loved my meatloaf. Of course, she also does not like turkey. This year my mom asked me to make one because she wasn’t sure that the FOURTEEN POUND turkey would feed the seven of us. The bonus was my niece was not expecting it so she was very excited when she found out there was meatloaf.

I am contractually bound to make corn casserole and dumplings every Thanksgiving. One year I didn’t make it and I thought my brother was going to grieve himself to death. “It’s just not Thanksgiving dinner without your corn casserole!” The funny part is I don’t even eat it. It’s something everyone else seems to like though.

My brother is a funny one. He is never the one to cook but he frequently likes to plan the menu. I keep trying to sell soup and salad for a holiday meal and he’s having none of it. This year he checked to make sure the corn casserole and green bean casserole were going to be on the table. I told him I was making the corn casserole and I thought Mom was going to make the green bean casserole. He told me if she wasn’t planning on doing so to let him know what all was in it and he’d do it himself.

What all is in it? How is the man in his 40s and ignorant of what all goes into green bean casserole? It’s not a complicated recipe. Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, dried french onions. Boom! There’s your recipe. Does it really need to be spelled out as to how to assemble it? I don’t think so.

I’m sure you’ll all be relieved to know he approved the menu and said that this would do nicely for Christmas Eve, just switch out the turkey with ham, and maybe I could also make my cheesy broccoli and rice casserole.

It was a fairly small gathering but that’s nothing new. Typically on Thanksgiving it’s only me, my mom, my two kids and then my brother and his family. My sister-in-law was working today so it was just the seven of us. Sweet J was invited but she’s been under the weather this past week so she didn’t attend. No, she doesn’t have Covid-19; she’s been tested twice now and both tests were negative. She’s just sick.

Picasso went home with my brother because they’re going out hunting again tomorrow. He’ll be gone all weekend unless they both get a deer the first day. 

I’m not clear on Rock Star’s timeline but I think she’s going back to school before Sunday. Tomorrow we are supposed to go shopping. She thinks she’s going to con me into buying her lots of clothes and shoes. She’s not. It’s way too close to Christmas for me to be taking her clothes shopping. So this ought to be an interesting shopping trip tomorrow (or rather, later today).

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Santa is coming!

Stupid People Of Twitter

We had the regular people of Twitter last time. Just some funny stuff. Now we’re getting into the good stuff. People who really shouldn’t tell others what they’re thinking… but they do anyway. I hope these make you shake your head as much as they made me shake mine.

Not Twitter… but not a smart person.
Another one for Facebook. Sorry. I should amend my title… but I’m not going to.
I guess it’s all in how you look at it…
Not Twitter but still…. I love this one. Yeah, my sister-in-law died in a fire but at least her Bible was saved! Thank you, Jesus! Praise the Lord!

This Shit’s Magical

It’s not a very nice title, is it? I should watch my mouth. Nonetheless, the fact remains: This shit is magical. What shit, you ask? Christmas music.

Oh, I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving; however, I don’t care. 

I’ve been in a mood lately. Probably since Covid-19 hit, but we’ll say the last few weeks. Between a pandemic, the CDC telling me to have Thanksgiving with only the people in my household (that’s a whole other post itself), politics, my daughter, my daughter and politics, people on Facebook pissing me off about politics and the pandemic, trying to lose weight, and my job I’m mostly in a bad mood. It’s a lot to deal with. But today I took my iPod into work, put an earbud in and listened to Christmas music all day long. Like magic I was in a better mood. I didn’t think it was going to work. I really didn’t. But it did. By the end of the day I was ready to start working out hard again and celebrate the holidays regardless of who might be around and who might not be.

I’m going to download some more songs tonight so that I’m not listening to the same 60 songs for the next 6 weeks because I fully plan on listening to Christmas music again tomorrow. As my new Christmas t-shirt advises: In a world of Grinches, be a Griswold. I’m trying!

I’m Alive, Part 2

My lovely daughter has started therapy and seems to really like her therapist so far. It’s been one session but she didn’t hate her and said that things went really well. She doesn’t have another session until November 10th, I believe, but then she’ll meet weekly at least for the first month.

I’m trying to get a handle on how often she will be going because I have an HSA account. Currently I put a huge $20 in every paycheck. I have another $20 going into a former direct deposit account. I was going to just have them deposit my entire paycheck into my regular account but then I thought, “Hey! I could double my contribution and I would never miss it.” Then I realized, these therapy bills are going to have to get paid one way or another. It would probably be wiser to up my contribution and put that money into my HSA account, instead of paying for it out of my regular account. Money that goes into my HSA account isn’t taxed. If I raise my contribution to $150 or more per paycheck that’s $3900 going into my HSA, and it’s $3900 that I don’t have to pay taxes on. I don’t know that it would make a huge difference at tax time but every little bit helps. It’s a little scary because as I’ve often mentioned I don’t make much money at my job. So losing another $300 per month is going to mean that when I finally pay my car off I’ll still have about $250-$300 left from my paycheck after bills are paid. I will be completely at the mercy of spousal and child support. Eh, actually no more than I am now. I was just looking forward to having a little bit more money. That never seems to happen for me. There’s always something new coming up which diverts my money from my bank account.

Speaking of money, does it surprise anyone that I still don’t have the money that was taken by Mississippi on August 31st? I finally emailed Jerry Lee to see if he had received it. He says he has not. I contacted the caseworker. Much to my surprise she emailed me back that same day. She has now reached out to the caseworker down in Mississippi, so we’ll see what happens.

I had somewhat of a rough week a week or so ago. One of my co-workers is moving departments. This move is not a huge promotion or anything like that. She’s simply moving from being a rep in our department to being a rep in their department. But the move to this department comes with a $3/hour raise. 

That’s an actual raise. That’s over $100 a week more. Over $400 more per month. I am happy for her; however, it just highlights how very little we are valued in our department. I’ve been in that department for almost 3 years and I do not make $3 more per hour than what I did when i first started back there. I barely make $3 more an hour from when I started four years ago!

Most of us (I believe) tend to get fifty cent raises each year. It ends up being a little over $1000 for the entire year. When I moved from my former desk to the overdraft desk I got seventy cents more for that. I know. That’s very close to $3; I shouldn’t complain.

At the beginning of the year I was told by my former supervisor that she wanted to bump me up to a Rep II but because the person who is over our department head wouldn’t go for such a substantial raise that she was going to do that in May before she retired. Well, as you all know, Covid-19 hit, and supposedly all raises have been frozen. I have not been bumped up to Rep II. I have not been given another raise. And to be fair, while my initial yearly raise is usually a little more than 50 cents, we do tend to get another raise later on in the year. I got three one year. I got a whole 24 cents more as an incentive to stay, and then I moved over to the overdraft desk. So last year was actually quite nice. Still no $3/hour nice.

It also bugs me that I’m still only a Rep I. Most everyone in the department is made a Rep II within 2 years. A few of us have not. We should have been promoted this year but we haven’t been. Hell, after everything we went through after our first six months I think we should have been promoted at the one year mark.

We were a pod of four. After six months they moved the two most experienced people in our group into the brand new Fraud Department, leaving me and the other newbie to do the job on our own. What took 4 people to do was now being given to 2 people. We had to ask for help from everyone in order to get our reports done. And then, another 6 months later our reports changed and we went from mostly paper reports to a brand new system where everything was electronic.

Another thing that I didn’t share with everyone is that back in July I applied for the open supervisor position. Didn’t get it obviously, but I put myself out there. About a month later the Deposit Services manager schedules a meeting with me to catch up. I thought it had been scheduled because of the new boss who has come on board. She had met with all of us via computer chat and I had told her that being downtown was kind of lonely and isolating. I thought our boss was just trying to stay in touch.

Instead she told me how impressed she was with me as a candidate. She said that she and the HR lady that does the recruitment for our area were both amazed at all I have done and that I was like a hidden gem. She told me that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with the supervisor position because this was a chance to completely restructure our department. She asked me if I would be interested in perhaps being a project manager instead of a supervisor. She also assured me she was trying to get me more money.

This was back in July. I am not a project manager. I am not getting paid more. I have not been promoted to even Rep II. At this point I’m not even sure I’ll get my normal fifty cent raise come February or March. They finally hired a supervisor for that spot, but our other supervisor quit and now they’ve posted the job for that position.

Between the slow pace in which they operate and the fact that I know this co-worker of mine is getting $3 more an hour in her new department I’m really thinking I need to make a change. I’m not confident that I will ever get hired on in a different department so that means I’m going to have to start looking outside of the bank.

The problem of course is that I’m not qualified to do much of anything. I have a Bachelors Degree in communications which is almost 30 years old. I have a lot of volunteer experience but it’s mainly through PTA and most people that are hiring don’t really seem to think that’s anything to brag about. I have supervisory experience from twenty-five years ago but my previous work experiences don’t seem to matter either. That leaves me with my nearly four years at the bank. 

I was a teller and then I found and identified fraud among other things, and now I’m working at the overdraft desk. That doesn’t really translate into marketable skills. It’s a pretty narrow focus. Although, considering that the new person they brought on board has absolutely no banking experience whatsoever and she is now over our Deposit Services manager and has most of us in the department reporting to her maybe experience is highly overrated. Then again, perhaps when you get to a certain level it doesn’t matter. Apparently if you have no idea what you’re doing they’re willing to put you in charge of things, but they’re not willing to take you on as an entry level person.

They also really don’t seem to give a shit about attendance. I’ve missed zero days of work due to illness since I’ve been back in the workforce. I have missed for the occasional kid’s doctor’s appointment. I did go with my daughter when the Health Department notified her she had tested positive for Hepatitis C antibodies (she did not have Hepatitis C, nor did she have the antibodies; it was a false positive test) and I went with my son to ensure he got put on anti-anxiety meds this past summer when he was saying he had nothing to live for. I also left early once when my daughter ended up in the ER, and I took the next day off because I had been with her until almost midnight and it was a three hour drive back from her apartment to my house. I’ve also missed a couple of hours due to appointments of my own. I’d say all total I’ve used maybe three days of sick time. Doesn’t seem to matter though.

Anyway, all of that to say I was in a funk a few weeks ago knowing that my co-worker is making a hell of a lot more than me now. I’m sitting here realizing how very little we’re valued in that department, and knowing that nothing will ever change. So I will have to make a change, and I’m really tired of change after this year. It sucks.

I’m Alive, Part 1

How y’all doin’? Making it through 2020 month by month? Is that too much? Week by week?  Maybe day by day? The good news is it’s November so we only have two months left in this shit fest we call 2020. Sadly, 2021 isn’t projected to be much better.

I occasionally like to just throw random thoughts up here. Today is such a day.

For starters, I am *almost* at the 50 pound loss mark. I have lost 49.6 pounds. Hooray for me! This is where it gets tricky. Since the weight loss challenge ended on July 3rd I’ve lost around 12 more pounds. Twelve. In damn near four months. What is that? Three pounds a month?

I was actually on a high Saturday because I lost weight last week. I have a spreadsheet because I can be anal retentive about things like this. I started tracking my weight for the weight loss challenge so I knew where I was and which goals I was meeting. I went on to add another tab for the next 3 months (which ended September 26th, I believe) and then another one for fourteen weeks which took me to January 1st. At the time I made the spreadsheet I thought I’d be at my goal weight at the end of the year, or at least damn near it. I have now added on a fourth tab which runs for another 2 months and ends at the one year mark of me eating low carb.

Those numbers are not going down much anymore. And with my weekends with the mobster I end up gaining 2 or 3 pounds and it takes another 2 weeks to take it off and by the time I’ve finally lost another .5 pounds we’re meeting up again.

I did do very well the last time we were together. I realized i just can’t go hog wild every weekend we’re together. So, I saved my carbs for things I really wanted. I may have had a stupid chicken Caesar salad from Wendy’s that Friday night but I thoroughly enjoyed my white chocolate mocha from Starbucks the next day. I also indulged in a few bites of the mobster’s cinnamon roll (not Starbucks; it was so much better!), had a piece of banana bread, and gave myself permission to have some fried mushrooms and French fries. I did order my burger without a bun though.

I was having a real tough time last week, wanting to grab a custard cone at Culver’s, maybe even a cheeseburger or fries. 

I have to tell everyone Culver’s is probably the best fast food out there. It’s made to order so it’s always fresh. Their custard is amazing. I was all set to have some this past weekend and when I got on the scale I was down 2.2 pounds. That’s the biggest weight loss I’ve had in a while. So I’m keeping on the low carb path.

Don’t worry. I treat myself plenty judging by the dismal 3 pound per month weight loss (and the list of things I ate the last time I was with the mobster). I even had chips and salsa last Saturday. And again last night.

The mobster likes to keep saying “we” have slacked off in the last few months. I keep repeating to him that *I* have not slacked off. I am still eating low carb. I don’t make the stop at Culver’s. I don’t have the custard. I don’t run down to Nothing Bundt Cakes and get one of their fabulous bundt cakes. I don’t stop at Starbucks and treat myself to a coffee drink. I save my carbs for when I’m with him for the most part. 

I’m also still running. Speaking of which, I am now losing toenails. It’s gross. So far I’ve only lost two and the second one isn’t actually off my toe. When I went to get a pedicure a month ago the person doing my pedicure told me what I thought was the nail coming off was actually the new nail pushing the old nail away. I’m not sure how that’s working because my old nail is still intact. Anyway it’s getting worse and I’m not eager to lose my big toenail. I feel like that will be painful.

Did you know Aunt Millie’s has recently come out with some low carb bread options? I bought the 5 seed low carb bread and it is very good. It does have 1 gram of net carbs per slice, unlike Aldi’s and Costco brands which are both zero carbs. But, if you’re at the grocery store and out of low carb bread there’s another option for you instead of having to run to one of those stores. My wish is that Aunt Millie’s would make low carb bagels as well. I would definitely eat those.

Did you also know that moisturizer expires? I had no idea. I certainly thought it was possible but truthfully I didn’t think about it much. Until I went to use some night moisturizer this past week. I didn’t see an expiration date on it so I asked the mobster if he had any idea if it expired and when he didn’t I decided to consult the mighty Google.

Whoever invented that deserves every penny he or she made. It is amazing the amount of information at your fingertips.

So… it does expire. Usually it won’t hurt you if you continue to use it. The ingredients that are supposed to do wonderful things for your skin might not work as well, so if you think you’re using an acne product or an anti-aging product you’re probably not because the ingredients are no longer active. However, they did say when it comes to moisturizers in a jar you should throw them out after 6 months. Because your finger goes into that jar on a regular basis it is easy for bacteria to grow in it. My mother will be so happy to learn that I’ve tossed 2 jars of moisturizing cream!

Election Day

I hate this new WordPress. I thought I hit “publish” last night. Obviously I didn’t. It’s a two step process now and I’m always forgetting the second part. Here is the post I thought I posted yesterday. Doesn’t really mean as much because now it’s the day after, but I don’t want to throw it out and I’m not going to sit on this post for another four years.

It’s Election Day here in the States. Well, perhaps I should say it *was* Election Day; all the polls are closed and the results should be coming in.

Election Day always makes me think of my Mamaw. As long as I can remember she worked the polls every election day. All day long. I don’t know how involved she was with politics but I do know the former governor knew her by name. Not sure how that happened but it did.

For years I believed I would do the same and work the polls on Election Day. But first I was working. Then I had kids. It’s hard to work a polling site when you have two little kids and a husband who would never in a million years take a day off of work to watch them while I volunteered my time. As the kids got older they were busy with sports and again, their dad was not a big help when it came to running them around. Now would be a perfect time to volunteer what with Rock Star in college and Picasso is finishing up his senior year in quarantine. But alas, I have a job now.

Perhaps next time around I’ll take a vacation day and use it to volunteer at the polls. Actually, maybe I’ll plan on taking 2 days- one on election day and the one the following day! It would be a lovely way to honor her memory.

In the meantime I’m going to leave this note to myself here so that in the coming years I can read this and heed my words of wisdom.

Dear Sam,

Whatever you do do not go vote in the morning. I know it sounds like a good idea but it’s not. I don’t know if it’s because everyone who works 8-5 is up early and trying to vote before work, or if all the 3rd shift workers are already standing in line, or if it’s simply all the early birds who have already been up since 5 am and have nothing better to do, but it is a madhouse out there! The lines are insane.

Go at lunch instead. Remember how you went to a completely different high school on the west side and there was no line. You walked right in, showed your ID, and were directed to the gym. All total it took you about 10 minutes from the time you parked until the time you walked out the doors. They even had water and snacks! It was a much better experience for you than the lines that were clear out of the building and snaking back to and around the tennis courts.

Or, judging by what you saw as you passed several schools on your way home, vote *after* work. No lines at either of the schools that had long, long lines in the morning.

Remember this in four years: No morning voting! Afternoon or early evening voting only! Although if I do volunteer at the polls next election year it won’t matter…

The Kids Are All Right… Or Are They?

You hear all the time that kids are resilient. Maybe they are. Maybe they acclimate to change a lot better than adults do. But even kids have their breaking points.

Both of my kids are on anti-anxiety and depression medication. The last medication she was on caused her to have suicidal ideations and feelings of self-harm. Does that sound resilient to you?

Rock Star was a sophomore in high school when she broke down one day at the thought of getting a B in a class. She felt enormous pressure to maintain a 4.0 so that she would be eligible for scholarships. Getting a B in her eyes meant she was failing and she wouldn’t get any money for college. I would have no way to pay for it and she might never become a nurse.

My daughter has always been a high achiever but I had never seen her like that before. She was 15 years old and had the weight of the world on her shoulders. That’s what her father’s affair did to her. Harley may be happy. Daddy may be happy. But my kid was a tightly wound ball of anxiety already.

If that wasn’t enough she was forced to move 600 miles away from her new friends and her new life a few months later. She had to start all over.

She was never happy here. She rarely brought friends over. Her senior year she ended up in an abusive relationship. To this day she still won’t tell me everything that happened. Just says it’s okay because everything she’s been through has made her stronger and brought her to where she is now.

Last year she cried when she called me, asking for rent money. She freaked out about going to the hospital when she got sick and nothing seemed to be working on her.

If kids are so resilient then why, five years later, does it still hurt her when she sees a father actually being a father to his daughter? Why does she still ache at the realization that she will never have that with her own father? Why does it still hurt when she remembers him walking right by her and then out the door into a new life without saying a single word to her? He left that day and moved to another state. Aside from her graduation he has not once traveled up to see either of his kids.

When she was home a few weekends ago she mentioned finding a therapist and her nurse practitioner putting her on new medication because her old medication wasn’t working any longer. I asked her a question about it and her response was something about childhood trauma issues.

Now, my child has been very vocal about the fact that she had a wonderful childhood so I was worried that I had missed something big. No, that wasn’t it. Apparently childhood trauma can be anything that happens before the age of 18. 

Her response when asked, “What childhood trauma?” was, “My father abandoning me and walking out of my life when I was 15.”

Children are resilient and yet five years later my daughter still needs therapy to deal with these unresolved issues. Five years later and her latest medication, the one that is supposed to help with the depression and anxiety, actually caused her to want to kill herself. On a positive note, her daddy and his whore are happy. If destroying her life was what it took to bring them to this place in their lives then, hey, who are we to stand in the way of their happiness?

Maybe it was a coincidence but up until the time her parents were divorcing she didn’t deal with anxiety. She was never medicated for depression or anxiety. She was never a bundle of raw, fragile nerves all the time. She didn’t complain of things “stressing her out” on a regular basis. Perhaps even if Jerry Lee and I had remained together she would still need medication for anxiety and depression. But I doubt it. She led a charmed life and there was never a need for it up until this point.

While Picasso was not nearly as enamored of Virginia as Rock Star was he has had his own problems. I suppose it could be a giant coincidence. God knows he had his issues when his dad and I were together.

He is more of an introvert than Rock Star and he can get overwhelmed with large groups of people. He also had some serious meltdowns after moving to Virginia which I attribute to losing all of his friends that he had known pretty much his entire life. It was a lot to wrap his head around. He did not like Virginia and did not like most of the people he encountered.

He actually really spread his wings when we moved. He prefers being around my side of the family and he was quickly accepted at his new school. Then he entered high school one year later and everything went to hell.

Nonetheless, he was not on anxiety or depression medication before the divorce. Now, five years later he’s taking medication for both of those and has been regularly seeing a therapist for almost a year. 

I would imagine it can’t be easy to have your father pretty much disown you when you’re a 13 year old boy. One day your dad is telling you that your parents haven’t been happy since having kids and the next day you never speak to him again.

I remember taking him to see a therapist right before D-Day because of his meltdowns regarding school. The therapist asked him if he had a magic remote control what he would have it do. “I’d make it so that my dad was better and he would play video games with me again and we could do the things we planned to do, like building a theater room.”

I remember him asking me if we were still going to keep Granny and Poppy in our life. I told him that they were his grandparents and I understood if he wanted to see them but I wasn’t going to be around them because they had betrayed me. I’m not sure exactly how I put it anymore, but the gist of it was, “I’m not going to but you are free to; I expect it and I encourage it.” At 13 years of age he decided, “No, I don’t think I can ever trust them again.”

That’s the part these people don’t realize. Their lying, cheating love isn’t just lying to the clueless spouse. In many instances they’re lying to the innocent children as well.

Both of my kids sympathized with their father and his supposed PTSD. He even admitted later that he was “probably” trying to create a distance so that it wouldn’t hurt so bad when he lost them. So generous of him.

My daughter wrote a research paper on it. My son sympathized and comforted him. Hell, if he had a magic remote control he wouldn’t use it to gain material goods; he would use it to make his father better so that they could do father-son things once again.

The damage he did was enormous. Five years later it reverberates throughout their lives. Therapy. Medication. Shitty relationships. Anxiety. Depression. Suicidal feelings. Crying. Fear. Hatred. Indifference. A longing to matter.

I’m not so sure kids are resilient. I think they don’t really have a choice in the matter. For some reason that inability to choose, and therefore, the need to roll with the punches, is called resilience. I wonder how they spin the anxiety, depression, and medication…