Scrappy Little Nobody: Or a delightful story about Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick is sort of fascinating to me. I have not watched Pitch Perfect (though I imagine that is what I will do with my afternoon)  but she, much like Jennifer Lawrence just seems to have a down to earth vibe. It could be completely fake I suppose, but having just finished her book, Scrappy LIttle Nobody, I think she might actually be my spirit animal. While the book was no literary masterpiece, it was funny, well written and she managed to highlight the unfortunate way in which many people view the lives of celebrity’s without making it seem like she was whining.

I’m sure most of the more sensible world realizes that those people have to put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us, but for those of you that didn’t definitely pick up this book. She talks, in a very genuine and honest way about her struggle with men, with celebrity, with the paparazzi and even with her own loneliness. I think anyone who has moved away from home at a young age or lived on their own can identify with the sense of loneliness that she highlights in parts of her book.

In talking about relationships she says “Don’t try to participate in anyone else’s idea of what is supposed to happen in a relationship. You will fail.” and you know what I totally agree. Way too often we get stuck in the rut of what we think or other think is supposed to be and completely miss sight of reality. If for nothing else you should read the book for the occasionally gem of wisdom.

Perhaps my favorite quote is this:

“I gave up on being Nice. I started putting more value on other qualities instead: passion, bravery, intelligence, practicality, humor, patience, fairness, sensitivity. Those last three might seem like they are covered by “nice,” but make no mistake, they are not. A person who smiles a lot and remembers everyone’s birthday can turn out to be undercover crazy, a compulsive thief, and boring to boot. I don’t put a lot of stock in nice. I’d prefer to be around people who have any of the above qualities over “niceness,” and I’d prefer it if that applied to me, too. I”
Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody

I’ve linked it here

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As I sit at my desk and write or try to mesh a budget together or plan an adventure I often hear the pitter patter of little feet and a sweet little voice say “Mama, can we listen to your record player?”. This is an every other day occurrence. He can’t stand to be far away from the action even if it is just me trying to do mundane tasks at my desk.  I spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating what Carl will see when he looks back at these long days. Will he remember anything? Will he remember my annoyance when he dropped his lunch on the floor deliberately so the cat could eat it? Will he remember the vacations that we take? Will he remember the nights spent at Nana’s? Will he remember the awkward conversations between his father and I at pick up and drop off? Will he remember potty training?

I hope he remembers meeting mickey mouse, and playing in my room listening to the record player, and his hilarious adventures to get bread on Sunday mornings. I hope he remembers that I tried to be patient and that we had a lot of fun. I remember just a little bit from 2’s and 3’s. I remember asking my Nana to get the moon for me. If she could have I am positive she would have snatched it right out of the sky. I remember spending a lot of time at her house. When I was Carl’s age there was a new baby coming to my house whose bottle I might have snatched on more than one occasion and who I might have tried to roll off the couch.

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I’ve tried in the last three years to prepare as best I could for him. It was three years ago today that I realized I might be pregnant. About a week later when I confirmed it with an inordinate amount of tests and a trip to the doctor. The spreadsheets I made in preparation of his arrival alone are more forethought than some put into parenting, but I’ve improved my own circumstances as well, not just for me but in order to improve his. Many decisions over the last three years come down to what is best for him. I never thought, before pregnancy that I would have a home. I thought I would rent the rest of my life and slog along in the way I had been which was not wrong so much as it isn’t what I wanted for progeny.

When he is a teenager, hopefully not reading this drivel, I hope he remembers the dancing in my curtains, the Simon and Garfunkel, Lumineers, Willie Nelson and Dean Martin jams. When he matures I hope he sees the decisions I’ve made and doesn’t judge them too harshly. One of the harshest criticisms thrown my way by partners over the years is that I never grew up. I choose to think this means that I didn’t lose my sense of wonder, my awe and delight in simple things like a cup of coffee on the front porch or a sunrise or a sunset. Simple happy things will make up the majority of our life so we should enjoy them.  I hope, if nothing else, that I manage to show him the delight in simple, happy things.

 

 

 

 

The Dear Abby syndrome

Man being eaten by snake

You know that friend that says something extremely logical when you tell them about your woes, usually it is something you already thought of yourself and would fix immediately if you had the time, money, tools, or ability. That might be one of the most annoying things people do. Someone once told me that the problem with relationships is that women want to tell their partners about their problems, have a glass of wine, some ice cream, and commiserate. Meanwhile a man is listening to the problem, and sometimes before you can even finish telling him about it he is telling you how to fix it. This is a bit sexist. It was be either partner that just wants to commiserate/just wants to immediately fix it. The problem with the immediately spewed solution is that it is rarely what someone is looking for when they tell you a problem. Over the years, after being talked at with many solutions, I have tried to curb my natural tendency to tell friends or partners what the solution to their problem is and instead have tried to be a better listener. Often that is what we need.

This has been that kind of a week for me. This week the lawnmower broke. The lawnmower is a “papa special” which is what everyone in my family kindly refers to anything that has been gifted or loaned to us from my grandfather. Often these things break, or need immediate attention by a mechanic which I am not. Anyway, the lawnmower is broken. It is of course broken when the grass desperately needs to be mowed and we are trying to put away money for an upcoming vacation. I’ve been tossing around the idea of finally buying a new one, I’ve never had much luck with used lawnmowers, but I haven’t yet bitten the bullet and actually purchased a new one.  I may also sell a kidney. Then I can quickly pay for all kinds of needed upgrades….(only kidding a little).

In between yesterday when we attempted to mow the lawn and today I noticed a tree had fallen in the back yard. Not like a little limb, about thirty foot of wooden leafy mass is in the back yard. We are lucky it didn’t hit the garage. I gather it must have happened during the storms of the other day, but good grief must everything always break at once.

Speaking of breaking my dryer, while still gleefully tumbling, stopped heating on Monday. Can I just say that I need or Faith needs to start dating a mechanic again.

Breadmageddon and other tales of Summer

Each Summer, for the past five years I have run some sort of summer Children’s Ministry event, always a VBS, and the last four years another summer program as well. Summer programs within the church are great. They give you an opportunity to see the kids for a much longer period of time than you might normally, and even if you only ever see that kid twice the rest of the year you’ve had an opportunity to be a positive spiritual influence. This year, like most before it, I spent untold hours scrambling behind the scenes, trying to get everything ready, have all the crafts cut out, have all the meals and snacks planned, have all the lessons written, and have some sort of cute decorations. It takes more time to pull off these sorts of things than anyone could ever calculate. In the fall and spring I tally my hours to make sure I am working all that I should be, in the summer I don’t bother to keep up with it because their simply isn’t time. Even on the last day  of our Monday program yesterday I was working three hours after I left work…which I had arrived to an hour before anyone else. Such is the nature of summer programming.

All of that is chaotic, and wonderful, and crazy but none of that is as crazy as our last day of Bible school this summer. Anyone that lives or works downtown has probably encountered a few of our transient population, in particular Larry. Larry is a friendly, interesting sort of human. He is homeless, but he has his own niche downtown. He helps out at the local coffee shop, he will be the first to tell you if anything was amiss the night before at your business or at the church. He is just a part of downtown and has been as long as I can remember. Larry has a brother we are going to call Fred. Now we all have that one sibling or friend that we love but that we sometimes end up cleaning up after. For Larry, I really feel that is Fred. Fred has been hanging around downtown pretty consistently for several months now. I’ve seen him/met him before over the years when he would visit but wasn’t all that well acquainted with him until recently. Fred is a bit more gruff than Larry, and a bit harder for me to understand. While I wasn’t really all that fond of Fred I hadn’t had too many reasons to dislike him either so I went about my business and he went about his and all has been mostly fine……until breadmageddon.

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There are things that happen in life that are just so bizarre that you feel like it can’t be happening, what your eyes are showing you must not be real. That’s how I felt as I pulled into work at 7am on a Saturday morning. When I went to pull through the parking lot I had to stop abruptly to keep from hitting a prone Fred who had fallen asleep in the middle of drive. This is actually not that unusual an occurrence downtown for someone to be blocking an entrance so I stopped, and went around the other way, The firsts thing I noticed when I pulled into the parking lot was that someone had covered the entrance sign with a box. I thought that was a bit weird but as I pulled further into the parking lot I noticed there was some bread in the lot. When I pulled around I noticed that there was bread everywhere. There was bread in the breezeway, bread in the parking lot, bread stuck on top of and into the fence in the park, bread was quite literally everywhere you looked. I’m not talking about pieces of bread, I’m talking about entire loaves of subway bread. There was also the occasional beer can and other random debris as well as tshirts tied to posts and door handles.

Honestly, as weird as it was, it was also a bit funny. The bread did get cleaned up, the person responsible (Fred) even helped clean it up and at the time I was pretty irritated but also amused. I think that there is so much pressure on us sometimes to feel like we are doing something spectacular that perhaps the occasional breadmageddon is meant to remind us that nothing is perfect, everything can be a  little messy, and its ok and even necessary  to laugh about it. 43aaf15a7196dc40988f24b8c4bf1968--star-wars-puns-funny-star-wars

Gregor the Overlander – Go Forth and Read

Gregor the Overlander is the dashing young (11-12yrs old) hero in a series of books written by Suzanne Collins who also brought us the Hunger Games. I must say for as long as the prospect of giant bugs put me off of reading these books she really did an excellent job. Gregor is a preteen young man living in the city that never sleeps, New York City, New York. He lives with his mother, sisters and grandmother is typical New York fashion for the working class. His father seems to have disappeared into nothingness a couple of years ago and Gregor is helping his mom keep everything together while they eek by on her salary. Gregor is a little mature for his age which makes sense as he is the oldest and he helps to keep his siblings fed.

All that changed the minute he fell through a dryer vent with his sister Boots. Gregor discovered a whole new world far below New York City. This world is completely different from the one he is used to and incredibly dangerous. Over the course of five books Collins introduced a number of different creatures and Gregor has to make a lot of tough decisions. I’m a huge fan of Rick Riordan and this series is at least as good as the Percy Jackson books. When they make the movies I’ll surely be just as disappointed. What I love about this series is that Collins doesn’t treat Gregor with kid gloves. He is the warrior, In tough situations he has to make tough decisions, all the while dealing with the fact that to his parents he is still a child and will eventually have to go back to life in the Overland. They are quick reads, and well worth acquainting yourself with.

In the last book Gregor comes to realize that while he has been named the warrior by a strange series of prophecies he does not have to let that influence the rest of his life or even his decisions in the moment. What a novel concept, just because someone old says something does not make it so, does not make it prophecy, does not make it inevitable. May we all come to realize we are the harbingers of our own happy or sad endings.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of youth fiction this summer, perhaps it is because I have been immersed in children’s programming or perhaps it is because there is something lovely about a plot that doesn’t involve silly sexual tension or needless death/rape/death scenes (I’m looking at you George RR Martin). I enjoy adult content and complicated plot lines as much as the next person but there is something clean and fresh in seeing the world from the perspective of a child too young to know yet what the real monsters are.

I’ve linked the books below.

Gregor the Overlander

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Gregor the and the Curse of the Warmbloods

Gregor and the Marks of Secret

Gregor and the Code of the Claw

Over and Over again

Me in 2016:

Why do I put a clean onesie one my little one first thing in the morning? I know there is an 80% chance he will have a blow out within an hour of getting his first fresh diaper and change of clothes and yet I always out him in a clean onesie after he eats breakfast. I know why. I want him to be clean. I am a little unhealthily obsessed with making sure he is clean and looks like someone loves him.

Isn’t that what we all want? To look like someone loves us. To feel like someone loves us. So I do a little in hopes that one day he will know that indeed someone loves him enough to wash the same poopy onesie a hundred times.

Me two weeks ago:

I wrote those first two paragraphs years ago. I can firmly say that not much has changed. He is potty training now and while he can pee in the toilet like a champion, doing number 2 seems to be harder. Maybe it will finally happen with consistency soon, but until then I washing a lot of poopy underwear/throwing away a lot of poopy underwear. Oh motherhood.  The things we do that we never thought we would be doing, like judging how much poop is too much to clean out of a pair of undies.

Me now:

You know what, my little champion has been pooping in the potty all on his own for about three days. He hasn’t had an accident in a few days now. I updated this just to say, take heart all of you moms and dads in the trenches of trying to teach a tiny human not to poop behind his bedroom door on the ugly shag carpet(yes this happened last week) Your child probably wont start kindergarten without being able to take care of bathroom stuff on their own.

As far as methodology goes, I started having him pee in the potty on and off at 18 months. I should have followed through as soon as he caught on with it and tried something like the three day method which is what we did at 26 months. The three day method is about 40 page worth of ebook that tells you to throw away the diapers and do nothing but help your kid learn to use the potty while you in turn learn the signs of when they need to go. Its pretty intuitive. In addition to that I also gave him a prize for every successful go which eventually has turned into only a prize for going number 2, which is almost weaned off of entirely. He does know what a prize is now so there is that but I will take spending 20 bucks on a tub full of kid goodies in exchange for not having to change a diaper. Carl did not learn to use the toilet in three days, It was probably another two weeks before we went all day with no peeing accidents and another month before we successfully made it all day with no poop clean up. Honestly though I expected that. It takes 21 days to form a habit. Toilet training is simply a habit.

If I could share one bit of advice with myself a year ago it would be to savor those moments before he can say damn it and just clean up the poop explosion.

If I could tell my month ago self anything it would be to buy one more packet of underwear, and relax.

 

What on earth is all the swiping about?

Perhaps it is my age or the age of a lot of the ladies I know but everyone seems to be getting a divorce around me, which is fine. I am a firm believer in how healthy divorce can be for a person and relationships. But then I have to ask how do people conquer the next step? I had been comfortably being intimate, wearing sweatpants around, not wearing any make up, and generally just being a comfortable, casual version of myself with one person for years. How do people up and move on? I don’t remember how to do any of this. I tried dating and that bombed pretty hard.That was almost a two years ago.

A few months I had the bright idea to try Tinder which seems like the beginning of a sad dystopian young adult novel. May the odds be ever in your favor and for god’s sake have a clear, child free, gun free, semi decent picture since I’m supposed to judge our compatibility based on that and a three sentence bio. What I have so far learned is that this was easier when I was younger. I’m not old, but this certainly makes me feel that way. Tinder is at times interesting, almost always amusing but I live in fear of the day I happen upon one of my friends ex-husbands or even worse than that, my own.

Of course there are other online dating options, or I could happen upon a single, semi interesting, able to hold a conversation man in real life (….This did recently happen to me so unicorns do exist). After Tinder I tried Ok Cupid because it was recommended by a friend. It isn’t any better. The straw that finally broke my desire to seek out those methods in finding any sort of personal relationship pairing was the propensity for married people to use those sites and apps to cheat. In particular I found a friend of mines husband.

How are people in their 20’s supposed to meet other single, eligible, people to coexist, date, and partner with? Well a friend of mine has made a commitment to getting out more, by going to local events and such which does seem logical. Others I know rely on the buddy system. They meet people through other people they already know. I did recently have coffee with a nice young man that way so it does sometimes work. For the most part I think that perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from the online dating craze is that if we have to go through that much silliness to find someone perhaps we should find other ways to content ourselves. I’ll be over here completing the library’s summer reading program for adults.

On Home

Florence, Alabama is such an interesting place. I have loved it almost from the moment we moved here 13 years ago. I could write many a loving platitude to Florence. I love early quiet mornings. I love being one of the first people at Rivertown at 7am on a weekday. I love walking downtown at night. I love getting a drink at Wildwood Tavern even though it is always too crowded. I love that I can go almost anywhere and run into someone I know. I ran into someone I know today at Starbucks.

I’ve had an interesting summer. Summer is always a blur but this summer is probably the biggest blur to date. You see we finally took the plunge, finally bit the bullet, finally invested in a home here. Its an old home, with stately columns, a lot of history, and ugly carpet that will eventually have to come up. Its a good size for the small family that now resides in it. Eventually I will have to get it together enough to have a priest come and bless it. My favorite thing about it so far is my room. At one point I’m sure the room I call mine was a living room or a sitting room or something of that nature. The house is old and the room doesnt have an overhead light fixture. Its a big, wide open square which is almost the best part. After spending the better part  of the last five year crammed into tiny spaces I love having an almost bare room. I’m sure given enough time I will fill all the space but for now I’m happy to have it be empty. The best part about this room is the windows. My room has the largest windows in the house. They look out on the street. At 5am, before the light starts to peak through, looking out those windows just makes me happy. I love everything about it. The cure to a dull life is surely an interesting window.

I grew up in a trailer. In hindsight I realize it was a tiny space. At the time it didn’t feel as small as it looked the last time I saw it before it was hauled off the be thrown away or recycled or whatever happens to such things. There were two, sometimes three bedrooms where my siblings and I would reside. Sometimes we would all share a space, and other times we would have our own rooms. The room that was most often mine had a square window that didn’t open up to the outside and was made of something that wasn’t quite glass, but wasn’t quite plastic. It overlooked a bunch of timber land like everything else where I grew up. I loved that window. I liked to watch rain fall outside of it. From then to now I’ve never had another window that made me as happy as the one I have now. We all go through life trying to find the one job, or person, or addiction that will make us happy. I’m pretty sure I was just looking for a window.

 

 

 

A hunting we will go…

Buying a home is not all its cracked up to be.
'How do you like it as a whole?' - 'As a hole it's fine. As a house it's lousy.'
If one more person tells me that this experience is supposed to be fun I might just lose my shit. Faith and I decided to try and buy last year. To quickly save money we decided to move in with our mom after the lease ran out on our house. Let me tell you nothing will motivate you to find a home or save money better than living at home/driving 14hrs a week. That’s been pretty miserable. Add on to that a commute with a toddler and it is just that much worse.

We have seen no less than three dozen homes, probably closer to four dozen but Faith could tell you exactly. This doesn’t even begin to factor in the ones that were off market or in contract when we tried to go see them. If you have a list of ten houses to see in an afternoon be prepared to sacrifice 3 hours and only see 8. On a typical house seeing day the first house might have no roof Information available and funky insulation but hardwood floors under the carpet and a nice backyard, the second house will have carpet with concrete underneath, funky 50s tile, need complete repainting, but have plenty of attic storage and large bedrooms. The third house your Realtor will have trouble with the lock box, the house will have a broken attic ladder, small rooms, linoleum, and best of all a drop away, dirt floor scary basement with no access other than a ten foot drop. House number four looks great on the outside, the neighboring houses are cute, the upstairs living area looks pretty good except the one round air vent running through one bedroom from the obsolete coal stove in the basement but when you get to investigating said basement it has an unadvertised unfinished bathroom and extra room with concrete floors, block walls, mold, a chair in the corner, a single light bulb and an unidentified stain on the floor. House number five is off the market, and house number six has unfinished floors. House number seven was gorgeous online but when you go to see it there is an old car with a flat tire in the garage area, a broken glass door, a two tone badly painted storage area all before you enter the house which is supposed to have a central unit but instead has a window unit insulated with trash bags, the floors are halfway finished and several windows have not been installed. House number eight only has one picture online which is never a good sign. When we arrive to see it we learn it’s occupied and the owners are home which is super awkward. The fuse box is also not up to code.

All of this happens with a screaming toddler after house four that ends up being bribed with a sucker.
And the hunting continues….

Growy Changy stuff

Lent Cartoon

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while and it has been almost a year today since my last bit of writing was published. I don’t think anyone ever stops writing if that is something they enjoy but I shelved this blog last year for a hundred reasons only a few of which will I expound upon. Last year I was on the cusp of a divorce and that was all I wanted to write about which is kind of depressing. I felt like I might regret using this particular public avenue for that. A year ago today I was also pretty boring. I had sort of lost myself in babyland as lots of new moms do. Between new baby and new divorce all that was on my mind was how to keep from drowning.

My first divorce anniversary inst for another few weeks and my toddler wont have his second birthday for another month but I think I’ve gained enough perspective and have enough life going on to open myself back up to writing. So here I go.

I always like writing during Lent. There is something beautifully cathartic about this season. Lent is a time to grow and change (or at least that’s what I put on the bulletin board). We give things up or take things on for Lent in order to gain a closeness with God or to deepen our spiritual connection. Sometimes that is pretty great and it actually works. For instance I gave up Facebook which I have mostly stuck to. I have not posted anything since Lent began and I am beginning to think it might be a habit after Lent. The purpose of that was twofold. One, I could have more time to read and study the Bible that I usually wasted in internet land. It has definitely fulfilled that purpose. I feel like I waste much less time. The other purpose was to distance myself from the drama of other people. While Facebook, and social media in general may have had the original purpose of bringing us closer together I feel like it often drives me further away from people. I don’t want to know that some family member I love and respect could actually share the views of our current president. It makes me want to run far, far away. I’d rather not be solicited by eight different mom friends selling everything from lip products to weight loss shakes. I understand everyone has to make a living. Trust me I know the struggle, but its hard to not let something like that put distance between people. We see such a limited window of a persons soul on social media and frankly I would rather see that person in real life. I think they would be much better that way. We may not be as pretty, or as thin as our profile picture would suggest but in my experience we are much better human beings.

Here’s to actually finding the time to write again. Next week maybe I’ll share my house hunting experience (Its super hilariously awful)