The secret life of adults

The secret life of adults

When you are in the midst of raising your kids, some days feel different than others.

I’ll admit, there were times I’d catch myself thinking, “I can’t wait until [insert milestone here]. Because my boys are exactly one year, two months, five days, eleven hours, and eighteen minutes apart, once the older boy would finish a phase, the younger would start, making everything feel like it took twice as long.

There were good times. There were not-so-good-times.

When the youngest turned eighteen, one month from his high school graduation, I counted down the days. As in I literally had a countdown on my phone.

He graduated, and I deemed myself retired. Sure, I’ll always be my kids’ mother, but I’d completed my contract.

Everyone tells you when the kids are small, “Don’t rush these years. It’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.” There’s more to it, the thing no one tells you: “So, be glad you are basically still in control. Once they are adults, you just have to sit back and wait until they need you.”

When I was thinking about writing this post in response to something regarding my youngest son, something hit me: I am also an adult child. Not too terribly long ago, my dad was asking me about some things in my life. Pointing out some details I had missed and should have considered. While I’m watching my adult children do this thing called life, struggling not to intervene, my parents are also doing the same thing.

*Cue ‘Circle of Life’ music*

The secret is out: if you have young children, hang in there. They will grow up. However, there is no such thing as retirement from parenting. It changes, but it doesn’t necessarily get easier.

Welcome, 2019

Welcome, 2019

2018 will forever be marked as a significant year.

High-Low Game

The highlight of the year all happened over the course of five days. The end result was when Son One married his longtime girlfriend. She’s occupied a special place in my heart longer than they’ve been together, so now that she is our daughter-in-love makes it extra special.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Son Two graduated from high school. Thankfully, he and I have recovered. I’ve had kids in school since 1998, but those last six months nearly did me in. There have been negotiations between heads-of-state less tense than those last months of his senior year.

Looking Forward

I generally feel pretty blah when it comes to a new year. I don’t know why. For about three years, I’ve gone to bed early because watching the ball drop induced tears.

Once the holidays were over, I felt myself slipping into that familiar place. Then, a few days ago, I heard someone at work tell another, “If you aren’t comfortable with what you are seeing, then speak up. Do something about it.”

While thinking about talking points for a New Year’s Day post, I felt a revelation. Those words echoed in my head. Do something about it.

Making resolutions is something I gave up a long time ago. It felt like I’d make a list of two or three things I wanted to accomplish and then peter out somewhere along January 3rd. Why set myself up to fail, right?

I had been thinking about some goals I had for the coming year. (Goals aren’t the same as resolutions, right?) Having a new planner and a fresh set of pens will do that to a person. It’s exciting to have a fresh start. The slate is clean.

“I can’t because…”

I’ve been using those three words as a shield to give up rather than push through. I’ve missed so many opportunities to grow in both my personal and professional life. Taking a good look in the mirror, I acknowledge I don’t like what I see. I’m going to speak up. I’m going to do something about it.

Look out, 2019. It’s about to get real.

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start

A couple of months ago, I took a job in a law office.

I wasn’t looking for that type of work, but something in their keywords and my keywords must have matched and the job post popped up on ZipRecruiter.

It took me five days and a lot of research before I finally submitted my resume and cover letter. “I doubt I’ll even get a call.”

That was on a Tuesday.

I started working on Thursday.

When I started to share my news, a few friends asked me, “A law office? That can be intense. And you have to talk to people? Are you sure you want to do this?”

The law firm I work at specializes in bankruptcies. My role as the Client Relations Coordinator (receptionist, if you are old school) means I am the first point of contact when a client calls. I am the person that greets the clients when they arrive.

One of the benefits of working in this role is my ability to hear everything, from people talking in the office to one of the dozens of phone calls I receive. While I had done my research on bankruptcy in this state, it’s nothing compared to actually seeing it live and in action.

A few weeks ago, a vendor was talking to the practice owner near my desk. I hear this person say, “I don’t know how you make money off poor people.”

The air in the office seemingly went still. My jaw dropped, and I glanced over to the attorney, a man who is highly respected in this area and been in practice for over thirty years. He takes no punches and doesn’t mind putting a person in his or her place when needed. He is firm and matter-of-fact.

He paused, let out a small laugh and says, “Well, we seem to do all right.”

In my prior research, I had found a lot of information I’ve since learned are misconceptions.

Spoiler alert: Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true.

Let me bust another myth believed apparently of many people, not just the aforementioned:

  1. Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean a person is poor.
  2. Filing for bankruptcy isn’t free.

No two cases are the same. There are people who only receive social security benefits each month. There are people who bring home five-figures each month. There are people who are out there hustling, working two and three jobs and can’t seem to get ahead.

While no two cases are the same, one theme seems to ring true for most: life happened. They have exhausted all other options and are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I hear the phrase, “This is my last resort,” all day every day.

It’s heartbreaking and sobering. I make it my mission each day to give comfort and hope to someone who feels like all is lost.

They may have to take off work to come to the office and go to their court dates. They do the things asked of them by the paralegal and attorney. They do the work required by federal law.

So no, they aren’t poor. The clients we serve are all hoping for a fresh start. A do-over, if you will. It’s not easy. And again, it’s not free.

A word on words

A word on words

Long before the advent of the Internet, I’d learned that one doesn’t air one’s dirty laundry for the world to see.

The practicality of that, especially in light of the current accessibility of social media, is evident. Now words and pictures can be screenshot and saved, without the original posters knowledge. The written word has a tendency to leave lasting, and at times, irreversible damage.

 

Be-careful-with-your-words (1)
photo courtesy of tinybuddha.com

As a writer, I communicate the best through the written word. I’m not always successful in conveying the point in which I need to get across, but I come closer 99% of the time than in a verbal discussion.

I try to keep things light and airy over here. To snapshot those laugh-out-loud moments in my life. This is a public forum, after all. Accessible to anyone with an internet connection and ability to search. I do try to keep it real, but I do have a career to think about.

Through a recent series of unfortunate events, I find myself unable to find the funny in the everyday moments at his current juncture. Fall, generally my most favorite time of the year, has shown me what other people see in this season. The changing of the leaves before they make their way to the ground and compost. The animals hoard nuts and berries hoping to create a stash enough to get them through what is predicted to be a not-so-nice winter. The grass goes dormant. The hoodies, scarves, and boots come out to protect us from the chill. (On those rare days we have a chill in Tennessee.) The skeletons come out of the closet, and it’s not for Halloween.

In the last five days, I’ve made some decisions I knew where inevitable. The details aren’t important. However, what I didn’t anticipate was the sheer heartbreak I’d feel.

Because I do find typing – regardless of subject- cathartic, I sat down four or five times yesterday to write. Something stopped me. A little voice in my head, maybe?

It’s not your story to tell.

I slept horribly last night. The worse I’ve slept in weeks. I don’t recall what happened in the middle of the night, but I had quite a mess to clean up this morning.

While straightening up this morning before starting my day, it occurred to me because I didn’t choose to handle my feelings in the best way I know how it manifested itself in an innocent albeit less desirable fashion.

Words can be cathartic. Words can be damaging. Words need to be chosen carefully. Acknowledgment is good. Specific details are typically unnecessary.

Sometimes it feels better to admit that life is constantly changing and that means those little cliffhangers to the next chapter aren’t always funny. Just wait though. Something good always comes after the rain.

 

 

 

 

All that glitters

All that glitters

glitter-2500322_1280
oh, the horrors!

I hate glitter. Yes. HATE.

I know it’s a strong word, but a single piece can send me into an OCD rampage. Glitter is like cockroaches; if you’ve seen one, there are a thousand more.

There is probably some sort of scientific explanation as to why the stuff ends up everywhere. Negative ions. Positive atoms. The same principles of static, maybe? A single walk down a holiday aisle will likely have you covered in the sparkles from Hell.

Speaking of holidays, who in the world thought it would be a good idea to add glitter to Halloween decor? I can understand a little glitter around Christmas and Easter. But nothing is spooky about a skeleton or witch dipped in twinkle trash.  The whimsical things for kids I’ll give a pass to, but I still wouldn’t buy it even if I had small children in the house.

I’ve talked about my disdain for confetti before. As of this writing, I believe I’ve found all of those pieces.  In what I hope is the last of it, I found about two weeks ago. The rogue pieces of paper were under the area rug in the living room. I found that odd as I’ve vacuumed under that rug several times since March.

Glitter is like confetti in that it lasts long after the party. Like YEARS later. If you ever see me out and about, and I’m wearing a shirt with any kind of glittery design on it, I’ve been taken hostage, and it is my signal for help.

Having said all this, I do have a confession to make:

I have glitter in the house.

I KNOW.

While the irony is not lost on me, the fact of the matter is there are some people in my life who enjoy glitter and all that it entails. Because I said love said people, occasionally I will find a craft or other project in which glitter is necessary. There is usually some kind of meditation and mindfulness when indulging my people. Love will make you do things you didn’t think otherwise possible.

All of that changed a couple of nights ago.

Having finished a project in which an inordinate amount of glitter was necessary to complete the look, I was cleaning up the area and putting things away. I picked up the very large container and realized the lid was loose.

I. ALMOST. DROPPED. IT.

My life flashed before my eyes. I saw a never-ending parade of glitter attached to every piece of clothing we owned. The cat sparkling in the moonlight. The dog forever sneezing out the tiny particles. It would have been easier to count all the stars in the galaxy than to ever hope completely eradicate the spill. This article from Lifehacker would be helpful should I find myself in a glitter-horror quandary in the future.

After securing the lid, gluing it shut, and putting all containers (yes, containers plural) in an air-lock chamber, I might be able to rest now. All future craft projects for gifts will mostly likely be glitter-free.

I have since mopped all the floors, finished the laundry, and vacuumed all other surfaces. Who wants to guess how long it will be before I find the first piece, lurking in the shadows, waiting to jump out and taunt me with its creepy existence?

 

 

 

 

Guys, stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves.

Guys, stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves.

It started a few years ago.

Pick any two-player game with a chat feature [think Words With Friends] and random strangers – men – would request a game and then start a chat.

In the beginning, I was naive and would be friendly. After a few conversations quickly went lewd, I ignored all chats. Eventually, I deleted the game.

Then the DMs to Instagram started. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore.

red stop sign
Look both ways before you decide to hit that send button.

I don’t understand how any self-respecting man would think private messaging a woman in hopes of starting up some kind of digital romance is a good idea. Of course, these men are brave behind a screen as I doubt they would approach a woman in a public place and speak in the same way, straight out of the gate.

I’ve been playing a new version of an old game. And wouldn’t you know, the very first unknown male player slid right into the DM and took a shot.

He was quickly deleted.

A couple of nights ago, I received a request to start a game. The name sounded vaguely familiar, and we had a mutual friend.

I accepted the game and played my turn.

The next day I see I have a message from him. And so it begins:

Dude: Hi. How are you?

Me: I’m well. And yourself?

D: Where are you from?

Hmm. That’s weird.

M: Tennessee

D: That’s cool. I’m originally from NYC but currently living in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Yes. He said “in.”

D: Are you happily married?

M: Yes

As soon as I answered his last question, I was back on the playing screen playing my turn. It took a minute or so, but I noticed things were different.

He resigned from the game.

Fine with me. I love it when the trash takes itself out.

***

I’ve talked to many a friend who’ve had similar issues with random messaging. What is the worst line you’ve been asked in a private message?

 

Eating vegetables like it’s my religion

Eating vegetables like it’s my religion

Earlier in the month, I was fortunate to be able to travel with my parents to Indiana. It is where I was born and lived for eighteen years before we moved to Tennessee.

My grandparents were the reason for the visit. My mom travels several times a year to visit, check on them in-person, and all those other good things a daughter is supposed to do.

I hadn’t been up there in about thirteen years. WAY to long. But that’s a story for another day.

A few days before the trip, my mom and I were getting things ready, and she says to me, “Now, just be prepared; they are not going to understand how you eat.” Even after all these years, my mom doesn’t fully understand this.

My roots are Southern. Both sides of my family hail from the South. You eat meat, and you eat vegetables usually seasoned with meat. The end. Country living and farming is in my history from way back. I am the odd duck out of the whole bunch.

Anyway, back to my grandparents. I thought long and hard how I was going to handle this whole meal situation. Food is my grandfather’s love language. While you are eating lunch, you talk about what you are going to eat for dinner. He’s nothing if not a planner. You also do not claim to not be hungry and not eat at all.

On the day we left, I told my parents, “Let’s not even bring up my diet. I can usually find something anywhere.”

There are a few exceptions, but, for the most part, there’s at minimum a side salad or a potato product at most restaurants. And if it’s fries, you hope they aren’t cooked with chicken tenders or something equally meaty. I won’t even get into how not all french fries are not vegetarian- friendly. Worse case scenario, I’d get the best option, and if I were hungry later, I could eat when we would return to the RV* in the evenings.

In case you are not familiar, I am a gluten-free, egg-free vegetarian. First two are due to legit intolerance, the latter is by choice.

Day one: Pizza is ordered to be delivered. I am slightly panicked. Gluten and meat. A little gluten I can get through, but meat is something else. Even if I picked it off, there are remnants.

If you are so inclined, you can read why that may be a problem for vegetarians from sciencenordic.com. Everyone is different, but I am one of the ones who has issues.

We make it through lunch without any raised eyebrows.

That evening, it is decided we will eat at  MCL. This cafeteria-style dining is a win-win for everyone.

We all get in line, and it just so happens my grandfather is in line behind me. I scoot past the salads. At the meat station, I say I’m going to have all vegetables. Once he realizes I didn’t choose a piece of fried chicken or the evening’s special of liver and onions, it clicks with him. “You are one of those vegetarians!”

I nearly bust out laughing because this deacon of his Baptist church has said this as if I declared I was a Methodist**. He was serious. It is a memory I will hold dear forever.

The rest of the trip went off without a hitch. I may have been teased once or twice for my bowl of leaves, but otherwise, everyone was sweet to take me into consideration. I don’t think there were any choices made that I didn’t find something substantial to eat.

Over the course of nine days, there were many more laughs and good times. It was definitely something I will always be grateful to have experienced.

And if I learned anything, if you are still close to your family, but you live some distance apart, it is important you find a way to visit as often as you can. You wouldn’t believe what a difference thirteen years makes.


*This was the first time [I remember] staying in an RV. It was delightful, and now I want my own.

**There is an OLD joke among the Baptists. On Sundays, the preacher may something like, “We need to hurry up and beat the Methodists to the steak house.” I’ve heard that all my life. Then I married a Methodist, and well, apparently they were trying to get ahead of the Baptists.
**Also, I don’t mean any disrespect for any religion.