4/11/23

Spring Hopes: Eternal


Here in Minnesota it’s what we wait for all winter long, it’s the light at the end of the cold, snowy tunnel.

Spring. 

According to the calendar it officially begins on March 20th, but in Minnesota, it begins on the first day people start wearing shorts. Which was this past week. So much pasty flesh! I even saw my first topless runner. I wanted to stop him and ask “my god, man, it’s 60 degrees. Wtf do you do when it’s 85 and humid? Pull the skin from your bones?”

Now, there is an unspoken agreement among most who live here: you must love spring. No substitutions, no exceptions. You have to not only love it, but it helps if you celebrate it and also you probably should mention it to every person you interact with throughout your day!

“WHOOO BOY IT SURE IS NICE OUT! FINALLY LOL”

“Did ya see it’s gonna be close to 80 later this week?”

“THIS IS WHY WE LIVE HERE”

I get it! Really, I do. Winter is a harsh and defeating time for those of us who, for whatever reason, call this chunk of the United States home. 

We staunch the flow of despair and desolation with the holidays but round about the second week of January it really hits us. There is no escaping it. Well, obviously for many there is a way to escape- vacations, winter homes, indoor water parks, etc. But for a good number of us, we are stuck. Physically and mentally embedded in the frozen banks of ice and snow. 

This year I decided to try Dry January and in an effort to not botch that I kind of took my hermit game to a new level. Sub level, you could call it. I just stayed in, except to go sourcing for inventory a few times a week. I holed up and to be totally honest with you, it wasn’t so bad! I missed seeing human faces and sliding into restaurant booths and general socializing but also, I kind of didn’t. 

Taking that month to just reset was one of my better ideas. And I plan on trying it again next January. 

PS: the whole dry thing worked, too. Still is in fact. More on that later I guess.

But after January comes February! Which typically has 28 days but this year had approximately 208. 

This was the third snowiest winter in Minnesota, and we have been known to get blizzards in April so it’s not official yet. In fact it’s really supposed to hit 80 here this week but I see snowflakes on next week’s forecast. Again I wonder who lives here intentionally? 

Anyway. Spring hits fast and like the goober next door who is already using his gd leaf blower for an hour every morning, I am trying my best to summon up hope for a new season. A season without snow and windchill. But, it’s hard.

I know a lot of my hesitation to embrace all things spring can be traced to the whole body image/low self esteem stuff. The thought of coming out from under the layers of clothing and camouflage is daunting to those of us who cringe at the thought of hot sun and sweat. It’s getting better as I get older, it’s true when people say you just don’t give a shit about what others think and for real, it’s kinda glorious. Old habits die hard, though. So fretting about my freckled, spotted batwing arms being seen by others still occupies some brain space. 

It’s not just that, though. If you’ve read stuff here in the past, or had the rare opportunity to sit down and chat with me (LOL for real at that one) you know that I’m a tender hearted animal lover. I brake for squirrels and turtles and leaves that look like animals. It’s how I’ve always been and it seems to be intensifying as time marches on. 

Maybe it’s because of the aforementioned feeding of the backyard critters? I get bags of peanuts, seeds and corn a few times a month and throw them out back for the neighborhood animals. They come up to the patio door now and wait. Sometimes they crawl up the screen looking for the cuckoo human who calls them sweeties and babies. I started naming a few of them, and as insane as that sounds I’m not going to delete that. Batty is my favorite. This squirrel lost most of their tail at some point and they look like a chonky gray wombat running around out there. So that’s how Batty got their name. Regina is the mean one. 

With springtime comes animal activity and so many babies. And also increased sightings of smushed creatures on the roads. Roadkill has always made me sad but over the past couple of years it’s become a source of anxiety for me. I start to go down some morbid tunnels of thought, like “do they suffer” and “what if that one was still alive, maybe I should go see”. And then I get angry at people for hitting them. It’s a weird spiral thing and yes, it’s being discussed in therapy which helps, but it’s still hard. 

Don’t get me started on the turtles, okay? 

So yes, as a Minnesotan, I agree to be happy that spring has sprung. I concur that this winter was brutal and never ending and depressing. 

But I also have the toxic trait of being able to find the dark even in a daylight savings scenario. And so there is dread mixed in with the relief. As I eye up the t-shirts in the drawers, as I think about finding my capri length leggings, as I tromp through my new yard looking for signs of life where the ferns and hosta grow…I also brace myself for this season’s collateral damage. 

It’s a work in progress, folks. Maybe this spring will be different. Maybe I’ll be different! 

Hope really does spring eternal, doesn’t it?


Oooh Batty is outside. Gotta go. Until next time, friends ❤



4/2/23

Not All Divorced Parents Can Be Like Demi and Bruce- here’s why

 


Yep, I’m still divorced and I still have big feelings about it!

One of these days, mayhap in my next life, I will learn to just stay the hell out of the comments. Comment sections are such a weird deep dive into the collective mentality of our fellow humans, aren’t they? Aside from confirming my fear that we are headed into a real world Idiocracy, they give us a glimpse into the minds of strangers. 

If you are familiar with this blog, or have read any of my rants on Facebook or Instagram, you know that the subject of co-parenting is a hot one for me. It’s something that isn’t on my mind 24/7. But when I make the mistake of tiptoeing into the comments on posts or articles about divorced parents who have managed to not only remain amicable but who have gone one step further and become one big blended happy family, it’s trigger time. 

Some would say that I’m super defensive about this topic, and they aren’t wrong. I am really defensive about it. With good reason. 

Take a look at the collage of comments up at the top. This is standard fare on just about any public presentation of a divorced couple who have remained friendly. 

What is the underlying (and not so underlying) message that is being delivered here? I’ll give you a few examples:

  • You are not parenting right if you aren’t friends with your ex
  • You are not a real family if you aren’t friends with your ex
  • You are harming your children if you aren’t friends with your ex
  • You are not a good role model if you aren’t friends with your ex

And that’s just a few. There are also those who believe anyone who doesn’t co-parent like Bruce and Demi, or any other couple who stay friends, is bitter. Angry. Immature. Grudgy. Unable to “let go”. 

Honestly I could go on and on, lol. And I have. Over and over, in this blog, of course, and to this day I still make the mistake of jumping in and offering a different perspective, an explanation as to why not all of us can be buddies with the other parent (or steps) of our children. I’m an optimist at heart and sometimes so unbelievably naive that I think people might listen. 

Even here, I’m preaching to the choir. 

But you know what? I’m gonna stand here on this rickety pulpit and keep on preaching. 

Because the Divorce Club is unfortunately always open, and always accepting new members. Every single day, another marriage or relationship disintegrates and leaves two freshly cleaved parents wondering how in the hell they’re going to manage.

Imagine that you’re one of these newbies and you’re still reeling and maybe in shock and you are justifiably angry or sad or terrified. And then you see comments like those above and wonder, “What the hell is wrong with me?”

Darlings. There is nothing wrong with you. And that’s why I will never shut up about this.

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? What’s the biggest factor in these fairytale co-parenting scenarios? No power imbalance. It’s that simple. 

Did Bruce and Demi, or Gwyneth and Chris, or Glennon and her ex (sorry G I can’t remember his name) or literally any other rich & famous couple who post their kumbaya moments on social media ever have a moment where one half of the couple feared for their survival? 

Nope. Not even for a split second did Demi wonder how she was going to care for her girls. Gwyneth didn’t even consider how she was going to afford a home. Glennon’s ex might have been scared for a sec, lol. But I’m sure he was given a very comfortable and fair settlement. Glennon is nice like that.

When there is no imbalance of power, when one half of the couple doesn’t have an insanely unfair financial advantage over the other one, it’s easier to accept the dissolution and to put on a happy face for the cameras and for the world at large. 

We can call it Divorce Privilege maybe? The definition of privilege is “a special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group”. I know that word has been beaten into the ground lately but hey, if the expensive shoe fits… 

BUT JENNY THERE ARE REGULAR FOLKS WHO HANG OUT AND GET ALONG AND SIT BY EACH OTHER AT T-BALL GAMES

Yep. There are! I know some of them! And I’m so so happy that they are able to make that arrangement work. It’s really nice to see. 

It’s not possible for everyone, though. For many reasons. And not all of those reasons have dollar signs attached to them.

In my situation, which is really the only one I’m qualified to discuss, it was a matter of self respect. 

My ex, and the mistress he ended up marrying, lied to me. Over and over and over. He abused his power in our relationship. He denied support to our children. He hid money, he played dirty, he cried poor behind the wheel of a shiny new car and while renovating one house and spending nearly a million on another one. They mocked my appearance. They made fun of my attempts to fix things. They broke me. 

The damage he did to my mental health, and ultimately, to our children, was a classic example of the imbalance of power that I keep referring to here. I had nothing. I was a stay at home mom without a degree or any formal training in a marketable skill. All I had was a spouse and his income and his retirement and his…everything. 

Even now, a thousand or so years later, the ripples from our split cause some little earthquakes. It’s in no way as obvious or awful as it was in the early years, but they are still around. Shaking things up every once in a while. 

When we first divorced, we did try to stay friendly. For the kids. When he finally began taking the children for his parenting time, we’d chat in the driveway or by the front door. We would exchange civil emails or texts. 

That was before all of his shenanigans came to light. And that was before I knew that I was worth more.

That was before he quit paying child support, before I lost that front door and that driveway. Before I found out what it felt like to not have the means to feed my kids.

That was when I decided to establish and enforce some lines in the sand. BOUNDARIES, baby. Boundaries are so so good and so so healthy. Not only in situations of divorce and coparenting but in literally every other relationship there is. Boundaries can make the difference between giving yourself an ulcer and allowing yourself to heal. 

I look at it this way: if one of my besties decided to take a massive shit on me one day, and tried to ruin me, and tried to make my survival and the survival of my kids precarious…dude. Our friendship would be over. And not just over, it would be doused in gasoline, lit on fire and then buried in a shallow, unmarked grave.

You don’t have to be friends with someone who has hurt you. 

And I really don’t believe that my boundaries and lack of a buddy relationship with my ex and wife no. 2 did any harm to our kids. 

I believe that it actually modeled healthy behavior, self respect and empowerment. Especially for my daughter but now that my boys are grown, I can see that they also learned from my example. 

There are moments when I think about future scenarios, like weddings and grandkids, where our nice little compartmentalized worlds may collide. I’m confident that when these situations present themselves, I’ll do the right thing. Which is panic, worry and sweat. And then the nice mask will be donned and those beautiful boundaries will hold me up. 

Having boundaries doesn’t mean being an asshole (says the woman who has blogged about her divorce for years lol). It means protecting yourself from harm or distress. Physical and mental, financial and emotional. 

If Big Daddy and I had Bruce and Demi money, I’m sure things would have turned out differently. I have no idea if one or both of them cheated on the other, or if there was massive betrayal, or if one of them made the other one feel like a worthless piece of dung. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But I am absolutely sure that neither one ever worried about the survival and care of their babies. 

As I’ve said repeatedly and on many different platforms: If you are able to do the blended family co-parenting one-big-happy thing, that’s WONDERFUL. It’s admirable and it’s certainly good for your kids.

It’s just not the only way to do it. And the fact that some folks can do it doesn’t mean folks who can’t are doing it wrong. It’s just a different way.

Different does not equal wrong. It’s just another way to be.

And now I’m going to be working on a new boundary. Involving comment sections. 

I wish you all peace, in whatever way you can find it. I finally have mine and it’s good.

❤ 


3/27/23

How I Became a Full Time Reseller


Quick recap for those just joining us, or for those who may enjoy hearing about my bumpy life journey: For several years I made my living working for a public school district here in Minnesota. Started out as a playground lady when my kids were all attending elementary school, and along the way added many different job titles. I subbed for Special Education paras, supervised the loud circle of hell known as the lunchroom, taught preschool, was a glorified door opener and eventually ended up as one of the secretaries in the very school where I began my own elementary school journey way back in the seventies. Talk about life coming full circle!

I was, and am, grateful for all that the various positions gave me. A regular paycheck. Hours that mostly coincided with those of my children. Holidays and vacations that also matched my kids. Health insurance!

It was good until it wasn’t. And when it got bad, it went full scale rotten in a hurry.

I found myself having to decide between my mental health and a paycheck. The fact that the paychecks were small, and I was working for an administration that said one thing but practiced quite another made the decision relatively simple. 

Know your worth. That phrase is kind of tired but still remains very true. I tell it to women who are struggling with lousy partners, and when I realized that being stuck in a crappy job is a lot like being stuck in a crappy relationship I practiced what I preach.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that I had a backup plan. Without it, I’d still be dealing with the whole OVERWORKED UNDERPAID drama. Or, maybe I would have eventually stood up for myself. Who knows? 

But now, I am doing something that I love. I make a living selling clothing, shoes, accessories and pretty much everything else, online. 

This was not a new venture for me. I began my reseller journey way back in the year of our lord 2000. The woman who taught one of my kids in preschool had pulled me aside one day and mentioned his vast and adorable wardrobe. “You could make a lot of money selling his outgrown clothing on eBay” she said. 

Now, keep in mind- at that time I was (supposedly) happily married and doing the whole stay at home mom thing. But my husband was working a lowly insurance job and was in graduate school at night. He also had a short lived temp gig delivering pizza for a little extra cash. When this teacher told me about a potential money making venture, I ran with it.

For many years I had worked part time for The Gap. And as anyone who was employed there in the nineties can tell you, it was the shit. We scored clearance and marked down items for pennies, all day long. At Gap Kids, too. So when I say that my kids had a lot of clothes, lady, I mean they had A LOT OF CLOTHES. I realized that I was sitting on a goldmine and also, a way to help out with the family finances.

We didn’t even have a computer at the time (oh hi, I’m old!) but we finally got one and within days I had created an eBay account and almost immediately began pulling in a nice profit every month. Big Daddy was thrilled, at first. He quit delivering pizza and focused on getting his career path paved and smooth. 

And I sold. I have always been an avid thrifter and garage saler, like from childhood. Secondhand shopping was in my blood and when I realized the veritable mountains of clothing to be found and sold, I began thrifting with gusto. 

I’d drop the bigger kids off at kindergarten or preschool, give the little ones a snack and a sippy cup and off we’d go. I began participating in the eBay chat boards, and not only did I find a bunch of new friends (including my current bestie), I learned. 

I discovered fashion and textiles and vintage and measurements. I picked up photography tips, selling techniques and an encyclopedic knowledge of style names, fabric contents, patterns and designers. On weekends, when that wonderful husband of mine wasn’t “golfing”, I’d get the newspaper and the map book and hit rummage sales. 

And I was very successful. I think at the height of it, before my marriage imploded, I was bringing in at least $2500.00 a month in profit. Which doesn’t sound super exciting now, but back then, it was a huge help. Especially considering the four little kids I was raising at the same time. 

All of this came in real handy when the husband walked out. And came in even handier when he decided to quit paying child support.

I like to say that used clothing kept my kids fed, and it’s the truth. 

When the shit hit the fan, I hit Goodwill. 

I ramped up my business and kept our little family afloat for a long time. Of course I lost the house, but that was because of the three loans that had been taken out on it. A nearly $4,000.00 house payment would have been a hard reach for most people. For a stay at home mom slinging gently worn Chico’s, it was impossible.

That was when I started working part time at the school. I still did eBay, right up until my account was suspended and then banned, when I had to file for bankruptcy. I will never forget receiving that email- I was on a 15 minute break at the preschool and cried like a baby for approximately 10 minutes. Probably ate my lunch simultaneously, because even when life throws a gut punch a bitch has to eat.

So reselling was paused. And it stayed paused until a happy hour with my two best friends, in 2017. Our girl Joyce said something about Poshmark. I had heard of it in passing, but hadn’t given it much thought. How could you do reselling on an app? Oh lord. Sometimes it’s fun to look back on those old timer moments, isn’t it?

Anyway. I did figure it out, and before long my sales on Poshmark outpaced my secretary paychecks. The extra money was a godsend, and the adventures my friends and I went on in search of thrifted bargains are some of the best memories I’ll ever have. 

It ended up being not only a safety net, but a new career. When the school district placed that last straw on this old camel’s back, I knew it was time to take the leap. 

And now I am a full time reseller. I pay my mortgage with this income. A car payment. All the other bills that grownups have, too. 

I would not recommend this job to anyone, though. At least not to 99% of the population. It takes a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career (do you know how long I’ve been trying to work a Liam Neeson quote into this blog?)

It’s hard work. It’s stressful. Bookkeeping, and doing my own taxes, is a panicky organizational nightmare. My employment hinges on a few apps staying in business. It can get lonely at times. There are no sick days, vacation days, or paid holidays. I know that I could wake up tomorrow and find out Poshmark has gone poof into that good night. Or that Depop has become like most of its users and ghosted me. 

But for now, it’s working. I can work a 15 hour day or a zero hour day. My coworkers are cats. I get to shop for a living. My work wardrobe consists of leggings, sports bras and sweatshirts. If I’m having an awful mental health day, I don’t have to suck it up and pretend everything is fine. I can work while watching Ted Lasso or listening to Beyoncé. I have incredible flexibility. I work my ass off on my own terms and without having to put up with hypocrisy and toxic personalities.

I remind myself that even while having a reliable income and the support of a union I somehow managed to get screwed. I remind myself of how it felt when people who supposedly had my back stayed silent when there was a knife sticking out it. I remind myself that I have done some really scary shit and survived.

Life is never predictable and now, more than ever, I know that. Thankfully I also know that you may find my picture in the dictionary under the word resourceful. The bumps and roadblocks along the way have taught me to not only roll with the punches, but to turn that punch into a paycheck. 

This is so not the life I pictured for myself all those years ago, when the future was vast and wide and I had a faster metabolism and plenty of collagen. But it’s my life, and for now, I’m loving it.

Gotta go- while writing this I sold a sweet pair of overalls from Anthropologie for $85. That’s what I used to make in one day as the person who enrolled children in school. Go hug a school secretary, my friends.




3/12/23

The Dog Shaped Hole in my Heart




This is the one. This is the story that has been blocking all the other stories, a virtual plug. It’s a cold snowy Sunday in March and this feels like the day to try and yank it out. Bear with me, or not. Like labor, this one may be long and erratic and there will be crying at the end. Also during.

For those who know me in the real world, and for those who have followed along online, Walter has been one of the main characters in this cuckoo production called My Life. One of the constants. Like sunshine and snow and happiness and sadness, Walter was always there. And if he wasn’t around, he was just outside. Or napping on the porch. 

Fifteen years. That’s what we had with him. It’s so much longer than many people get with a beloved pet. And somehow it feels like such a ripoff. I wanted more time. I wanted him to be around forever and then some. 

For those who don’t know me in the real world, Walter was a dog. The dog, actually. My one and only. I think there’s a search bar in this ancient blog- find it and type in Walter and you will find many posts, mentions, pictures. Walter was as thoroughly interwoven into this story as his fur was into our clothes and furniture. 

We got him at the Humane Society thanks in part to a crusty but sweet old friend who told me, as we stood there in the cold back Big Dog room with the various yaps and barks echoing off the cinder block walls, “every kid needs a dog”. Also thanks in part to an immediate connection. 

I will go to my grave knowing that Walter and I were supposed to find each other. It was destined. I needed him more than anyone could have ever convinced me, and he surely needed me. We were like two bruised and damaged planets that happened upon one another in a vast and desolate galaxy. Which one of us held the other in their little gravity grip? I’d like to think it was equal forces. We held each other down.

And now I’m floating in that dark black hole again. My gravity is gone.

Whoa. That’s what you’re thinking, right? This chick is nuts.

Well yes. Have we met? I am indeed nuts. That’s part of my charm.

But I’ll argue with you if you feel that grieving a dog classifies someone as crazy. Grief is no stranger in these here parts. It’s a frequent visitor and as I get older I realize that grief comes in all shapes and sizes and intensities. 

Grief is shaped like a dog. It has velvety soft ears that flap happily on walks. It has coarse fur that comes to a downy little swirl on a barrel chest. Grief stands next to me in the kitchen, eagerly awaiting for some chicken to accidentally fall to the floor. Grief is a grimy blue collar that now rests atop a wooden box.

I’ve lost people and it hurt. I miss my mom with such a deep, primal stab so huge and raw that it still takes my breath away after several years. I miss my dad. The feelings with him aren’t as painful as the mom ones, they are softer and less sharp but just as deep and they poke me with just as much frequency. 

I’ve lost grandparents and aunts and uncles and acquaintances. Favorite musicians and writers and actors. They are all missed and well loved. 

But the loss of Walter has been the one that sticks. It’s the stringy blobs that cling to your fingers while kneading dough. It’s that quote I love about the scent of a violet that’s been crushed by a nonchalant heel.

It didn’t even occur to me that he was aging. He was a puppy, in my eyes, up until the end. 

He was innocence and purity and forgiveness and unconditional love. 

He was walks. He was hilarity. 

He was the king of finding food literally EVERYWHERE. 

He was patiently impatient. He was a foot warmer and sometimes tried to be a lap dog and a shoulder dog.

He waited in the front window and he was the first thing you saw when you pulled up to our house. That sweet yellow face, more white than yellow in later years. Those hopeful brown eyes with the ginger lashes. He was always waiting. 

He loved snow. He loved the first warm days of spring and rolling in dewy grass. 

Walter never played fetch. He didn’t give a shit about sticks. 

He had exactly one toy he liked, a stuffed Grinch, and when that toy was destroyed he was finished. I once found the exact same Grinch at a thrift store and when I triumphantly presented it to him, he looked at it and then walked away. Been there, done that. Movin’ on. 

I was not a good dog mom. Far from it. We were poor and there were times I could barely feed my human kids. Walter got what was available. But he survived. We all did.

When I wrote an essay about having to go to the food shelf, and it went all kinds of viral, there was a comment from someone that said “pretty dumb to have a dog if you can’t feed your kids” and while they were not entirely wrong, it still shook me to think of cutting corners that way. 

As I said earlier, I was blissfully unaware of time stacking up on him. Oh, for sure I saw the fur on his face turning lighter and lighter. I noticed how it took him a while to stand up. I felt his lumps and bumps multiply and grow. 

But it didn’t really sink in until a woman we were passing while on a walk paused and said “he’s getting around great for being such an old man!” 

THE AUDACITY. I was actually offended for him. That was the first time I looked at him through a stranger’s eyes. And I saw his winter white face, his bony back, his lumpy bumpy body. And I loved him even more. But I also started thinking about the things we try really hard to not think about. 

Soon after that he could no longer hop up onto my bed, even with the ottoman I’d brought in from the porch. He slept on the couch, and more often than not, I’d sleep out there with him.

Walter bore witness to the raising of four feral children. He helped a depressed lonely woman (that’s me!) get outside and exercise. He was a reluctant viewer of a few awkward trysts with shadowy lovers. He loved us all without a shred of judgment or pity or obligation. 

I am not ready to talk publicly or I guess, write publicly, about his last day or his last hour. I still haven’t looked at the pictures that our dear friend Whitney took that evening. Looking at them will cement it. It will be the final goodbye and I cannot do that, not yet. 

I will say that while I am haunted by guilt, even now with 14+ months passed, I know deep down that we sent him off with the dignity and the fanfare that he deserved. Hell, I’d be okay with a last day like that. 

A good walk. So many good treats. And surrounded by those I loved, and who loved me.

Death was something that I feared greatly. It was the ultimate terror, the worst thing that could happen. But now, it’s a little less scary. 

Because even though I am probably one of the least spiritual or religious people around, the thought of seeing him, waiting there at the window for me, is comforting. 

For now, I wait. I take walks that aren’t as fun. I smile when I see random food on the ground. I sometimes absentmindedly reach down about mid-thigh to scratch a knobby furry head that isn’t there. I feel him sometimes, just like I can tell when my mom is riding shotgun with me or my dad is shaking his head at my high pitched panic over a minor household crisis.

I wait. And I miss him. 

                                                   ***************************


We made up a song for Walter back when we were all younger. For the life of me I can’t recall the tune we based it on but the words were:

Walty McWalterton, prettiest dog I know

Walty McWalterton, always on the go

He’s pretty

He’s yellow

He’s such a fine fellow (carry that last note with some soprano gusto)

Walty McWalterton, prettiest dog I know

We sang this to him as he passed. And sometimes I find myself humming it just because.



3/8/23

Thanks, Trauma! And also, Lint Rollers



Hey there! Again with the restart, eh? Yeah. Well, there’s a lot to unpack but today the urge to write absolutely pounced on me and I decided to go with it.

Trauma. Every one of us has some. Whether your trauma is that time you cut your toenail too short and it hurt to wear shoes for a week, or you witnessed a fatal car crash, or you were relentlessly abused by a trusted family member, trauma is trauma is trauma. Just like strokes, there’s different traumas for different folks. Whatchutalkinbout, Jenny? 

So this morning, I was getting a darling Boden dress ready to package up and ship out, when I started thinking about my odd personality traits. Like, take my reselling habits, for example. 

I am obsessive about sending out perfect items. I will spend way too long on a pair of jeans that someone has paid $25 for…I’ll turn them inside out. Trim little threads. Use the sweater shaver on the LINING of the pockets. Yeah, those of you who have spent time with me in real life are undoubtedly laughing a little right now. Because I may come across as many things, but a perfectionist is probably not one of them.

It got me thinking what I might have been like if my life had been more “normal”. What if my parents hadn’t divorced? What if there was no evil stepdad who used me as a punching bag? What if I’d had a good marriage to a good man? 

These little quirks that manage to poke out like wispy feathers from a down coat make me think that in the Bizarro Alternate Universe there is a different Jenny, one who can let the tiny things go but who also probably has fewer tiny things to obsess about. 

This BAU Jenny (lol to all my Criminal Minds homies) is most likely an overachiever. She’s surely college educated and maybe even has a successful career in some sort of challenging and lofty profession. Advertising? Writing? I doubt it’s anything in the sciences because trauma free or not, this brain is not wired that way. 

I wonder if she’s fun to be around, though. Does she find the humor in the most unlikely places like I do? Can she make people smile during shitstorms? Because I can. And no matter how I got that skill, it’s one that I appreciate. 

We can’t go back in time. We can’t unscramble an egg. 

But what we can do, is make an omelette with that shit. 

I’ll have extra mushrooms in mine. 

And now back to that Boden dress. I swear I saw some lint in one of the pockets.

❤️

7/21/22

Walking, Reading, Writing




Are you there, blog world? 

Itsa me, Jenny.

July 2022 is half over, the last time I sat here with this screen in front of me was approximately 7 months ago. Shoot I remember when this was a daily thing. Sometimes multiple times daily lol. 

A lot has happened in seven months. And that is an understatement. A huge one.

I’ll start with the reason for the title of this post.

Almost every Tuesday night, my friend Beth and I go see a movie. It’s the cheap night at Emagine Theaters here in Minnesota, $5.00 and free popcorn. I upgrade to a medium and get the real butter so the evening’s total is more like $8.00 but still, a bargain.

Beth and I have been doing this for a long time. There was a break during the lockdown stuff and we’ve had a few nights when it just didn’t work but this is a longstanding date and one that we both really enjoy.

The theater, the same two seats we get every time (always on the right side, always in the first row of the second section and always on the aisle), the popcorn, the comforting pillow of relief that looks a lot like a leather recliner…it’s our safe place. 

Before the lights go down, we take our requisite foot picture (see above) and we chat. 

We give brief synopses of our weeks, we inquire about fun/sad/challenging times, I ask about her puppy, she asks about my cats (oh yeah…see? Shit has changed). We catch up and then the movie starts and we settle into those relief pillows and escape for approximately two hours. 

Some would say it’s a poor excuse for a night together. “You’re literally sitting in silence for two hours, how is that any fun?”

I don’t care. We love it and it’s become something that I kinda hope continues until movie theaters are a thing of the past, or we are. 

So a couple Tuesdays ago, during our pre-film chat, Beth asked me a question.

“Are you walking?”

I replied “Nope.”

She then asked me, “Are you reading?”

Again: “No.”

Third question was 

“Are you writing?”

And thricely I responded with “No.” (thricely is not a word but it should be)

I can’t recall the rest of our conversation but man, did that line of questioning stick with me. I kept hearing it in my head, for days afterwards. 

Too much to go into now, but it really hit me. It hit me like a truck. Like a big semi truck too, not like a little UHaul pickup or cargo van.

It hit me just how much I am not doing for myself these days. I used to walk every single day. Winter, spring summer and fall, rain or shine, in sickness and in health, I walked.

I used to read all the time. A book was always in progress, and there were always several lined up behind that one, ready to be devoured. 

Writing? Ahem. You know how that one goes. SEVEN MONTHS. 

Yikes. Beth’s inquiries hovered and then settled in my brain until it became almost like a mantra…over and over. Are you walking? Reading? Writing? No, no, no.

So I told my therapist about it. We had already been discussing how out of whack I’ve been feeling, like all I do is work and how nothing feels even remotely controllable. She helped me figure out a plan. One step at a time, you know? God I absolutely love therapy you guys. It has made change possible and I am learning so much. 

Now I’m learning how to take back some time just for me. 

It started with an early wake up time, followed by a walk. I did it on a Monday, and then the next day, and the whole week. And then started again the next week. 

Now, when Beth asks again, I have a “Yes”.

Pretty soon, there’ll be thrice yeses. 


Bet you missed me slaughtering the English language 😂


12/1/21

In This House

 


“In this house” LOL. If you’ve spent any time in groups for parents of college aged kids, you’ll see this phrase used a lot. Sometimes in a hokey meme, sometimes used as a sort of creed by a certain brand of Mama Bear. IN THIS HOUSE, WE LOVE/WORK/PLAY/PRAY HARD you get the gist. Like a mission statement. Those groups are better than most reality shows, by the way. I had no idea how many parents use Life360 to track their adult children. 

But that’s beside the point today. 

Today, my point is this: I’m leaving this house. Our house. The ramshackle rental that provided a roof over my head and the heads of my four young kids for just about 12 years. 

I knew this day was coming, knew it from the time my shaky hand signed the lease. Nothing is forever, right? Especially when you’re renting. 

Knowing something is coming is a lot different from having the exact date of when that something is actually arriving. The expiration date on this particular home is April 1, 2022. 

My landlord, who has been written about a few times in this old blog, came over Sunday night and we had a nice talk. He’s no spring chicken (as he’d readily nod and agree, lol) and his health has not been great. He had tears in his eyes when he told me that he and his wife have made the decision to sell. 

Me? I had tears in my eyes, too. Also on my cheeks and down the front of my shirt and surely a few soaked into the rug beneath my feet. I sobbed, of course. As I said, this was a sure thing. This was the end game that we knew was inevitable. But just knowing the timeframe, knowing the exact end date was a wee bit gutting. 

Dave and I talked for a long time. We laughed and cried a little and reminisced. We cackled over the time I wrote him the very first rent check- it’s been $1650.00 a month since day one, and that first check was written for $1600.00. When I handed it to him, he looked at it, then said “Oh, actually it’s 1650.” And my dim ass replied, “Ahh, I bet I have a couple quarters in my purse.” Seriously. Poster child for naïveté, folks.

After Dave left, I made a martini. Of course I did. And I wept. Walter had a front row seat to that Sunday night extravaganza, lucky boy. I’ve made the Miss Havisham comparison here before but that night I did some deep role playing, minus the wedding dress (and the riches, of course). It was ugly and raw. I had another martini which means there were two martinis total which also means my mission to numb was successful.

I gave myself 24 hours to wallow. Wallowed on the couch, wallowed in my bed. Wallowed like a champion! On Tuesday I woke up feeling better. And hungry! Wallowing kills the appetite. 

Here’s my shoutout to a few people: the besties, of course, who once again had to deal with a smaller but still pretty mighty mental crisis from me. Luckily they are experienced in this sort of situation and know how to handle it. They know that my first and most visceral reaction to news of major change is a doozy. It’s panic laced with fear, tinged with sadness. They listened. Which was what I really needed. They tried to calm me, which I also really needed. And last night, there was a quick dinner at the Anchor Bar for fish and chips which is ALWAYS NEEDED. 

Second shoutout is to my babies. My kids. I sent out a group text telling them and in their sweet, individual ways they commiserated. One son replied simply, “Damn.” Another asked if this meant I’d start looking into finally buying a house. Yet another immediately began researching grants and loans for first time home buyers. And the very practical one made a list of To Do’s for his mom. It’s been said before but it always bears repeating: these kids are such gifts. I love them way beyond the moon and back. 

Third shoutout? My therapist. As luck would have it, we had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday and she not only talked me off the ledge, she managed to pull me back and zoom out on the myopic dystopian vision I’d created in my head. 

Because, as I’m learning in therapy (OMG I’m learning so much you guys, it’s incredible) we are made up of many parts. When she first brought this up and had me acknowledge my different parts it was super awkward and I actually thought to myself  “what is this woo shit and how can I pretend to go along with it?”. But I’ll be damned. She was right. And this shit, woo or not? It’s working. 

One of my parts is the same chick who, 12 years ago, was penniless and about to be homeless with four grade school aged kids. She (me, lol, it’s still hard for me to do this) ran on pure fear and adrenaline for years. She’s the part who freezes when danger is detected. This is the part of me that instantly decided I was going to be homeless and living in my car with a 16 year old dog. This is the part of me that threw her hands up in the air and said “Enough. I’m done. I cannot do this again.” Because she is stuck back there. Iced in a frozen lake of uncertainty, unable to do much more than pound on that impenetrable, frigid surface with reddened cold fists. She is permanently afraid. And with good reason, you know?

So the therapist had me try to get allll the parts together to help that one. And it sort of worked. The scales were lifted from my eyes, so to speak, and I was able to step back and see that all is not lost. I’m still fucking terrified, but not in an “end of times” sort of way. More like “this is going to be a challenge but it’s not impossible and most likely, will not lead to me and Walter sharing the tiny Subaru (what? A Subaru? Yes! All of my parts got a new(er) car. Details later, I promise. Can’t wait to introduce you to Lil Prezzy)

So my assignment was to honor and hold this part for all the grief and fright she’s carried for allll the parts allll these years. And to understand why that part is like this. 

Trauma brain is real. And it’s freaking wild. 

Also: I’m not too proud to admit that for a few thankfully brief moments I went back to Divorce Rage. Yep, who knew that I could still muster up some anger towards that dusty monster who put me and the kids into such a precarious situation all those years ago? Okay so we all knew but still. It was weird to have his face pop into my brain again. I thought of his stupid self and his stupid wife sitting in their stupid million dollar home without worrying about packing up and finding shelter and leaving what has become comfortable and secure. But then I remembered that I have a heart. One that works. And I let that shit go. Cue the song, I guess. 

Today I’m okay. Today this news still hurts, still pokes with cold fingers, still whispers “the end is nigh, bitch” but today I’m able to understand and cope better than the day before. That’s what those of us in the therapy world call PROGRESS 😂

Oh, about the pic at the top of the post: it popped up in my Facebook memories the day after sweet Dave gave me the news about the house. I don’t remember under what context I had saved it, or if I even shared it anywhere. But it came along just when it was needed. 

I am low key dreading the rest of this chapter. Going to keep reading, though. I hope you’ll join me. 



11/17/21

Little Ditty ‘Bout My Martini Glass

 


Ahhh. There it is. That’s my martini glass. THE martini glass. It’s a single solitary glass, not part of a set. I found it at a thrift store (SHOCKER) for less than a dollar, a few years back. 

It’s solid. It has heft. Girth 😂. It’s simple and serves a purpose and while it’s not something I’d grab if the house caught fire in the middle of the night, it is something I’d grab if there was a smallish disaster and we had time to go back in.

You all know me by now, so you are painfully aware that I put a lot of significance in random everyday objects. The bowl! A box of hodgepodge paperwork. An old alarm clock. What can I say? In this whackadoo brain of mine, pretty much everything has a degree of meaning and sometimes, a story. 

Here’s the story of my martini glass.

Last year, my dad was dying. He was in hospice at his home, and despite a number of years of estrangement, I was welcomed back into the fold to help Dad get through his last task on this planet. I was honored- felt lucky to be there. And those 7 weeks were the hardest and best and saddest and most love-filled days I have been through. 

And I doubt I would have made it through if it weren’t for my two besties. Cringe! Old lady using dated slang! LOL. But, my besties are truly that. My bitches, the three musketeers, whatever you want to call them…they’re the best. They know the absolute worst about me, and still want to hang out. They deal with my incessant texts about the asshole in my neighborhood who cannot stop blowing his leaves. They talk me off the ledge at least once a week. They trust me. I trust them. 

So, these besties and I have a years and years-long tradition of reserving Friday nights for each other. For real, I’m sitting here trying to remember when Fridays became Homie Night but it’s just…always been? 

To quote those feathered foxes of Loverboy on MTV circa 1981, Everybody’s Workin for the Weekend and our little cluster of three is no exception. Sometimes, the only thing that gets me through the week is that sparkly, twinkling, far-away glint called Friday Happy Hour. Whether we’re in my living room or in a cozy booth at Yard House, it is one of the highlights of the week.

So- back to hospice. Although I didn’t make every Happy Hour during those weeks, I did attend a couple. One night, about halfway through Dad’s ordeal, we decided to go to this amazing Thai place, Lemongrass. It’s been one of our favorites for ages because the food is SO GOOD. Seriously. Locals? They’re takeout only now but may I recommend the Pad Thai, the Lemongrass Special Fried Rice and the Wild Curry (with fried tofu OMG). Ha! It’s currently 6:30 a.m. and I’m longing for it. 

Anyway. There is one thing I don’t like about Lemongrass: they don’t have proper martini glasses. Part of the Friday ritual, for me, is a dirty martini. Extra olives and if they have some blue cheese all up in them, even better. But please, for the purists, have a decent glass. The ones they use are those weird little bowl types, not sure what their official name is but they’re hard to drink out of and the aesthetics are just plain wrong. 

That Friday, I was spent. Emotionally, physically, every-ally. And I wanted a martini out of a normal glass. So, I wrapped my beloved thrift store glass in some tissue and stuck it in a little gift bag (happy Friday from me to me lol). I’m sure it’s against rules and weird archaic Minnesota laws or something, but with everything else in my world doing a slo-mo crash and burn, all I wanted was a good filthy martini sipped out of a passable martini glass. I figured the worst they could say is “Nah”. And I’d still be shoving noodles in my face so that was an acceptable loss. I’m all about the risk-taking, you guys. 

We were seated and were catching up with each other when the server approached our table. The other two gave their orders and then it was my turn. I pulled out the gift bag and withdrew the glass. “Okay” I began, “this is going to sound weird but I have a small favor to ask.” And as I quickly summed up, well, EVERYTHING I of course started to weep. 

This is where many servers would likely roll their eyes or go on autopilot and start questioning their life choices. But our server…she also got misty eyed. She said, and I’m kind of spacing out what exactly took place, but something along the lines of “you can certainly pour your drink into that glass when nobody is looking”. She put her hand on my shoulder, not in a creepy no-boundaries way but in a kind, loving manner.

And that’s what I did. Super stealthily, I’m sure. But it did happen and out of all the shit that went down during those agonizing weeks, this memory stands out. 

Oh, and that server? She also insisted on buying the martini for me. Yes, I cried some more. The tears are always on call, people. Always ready! 

One thing I’m learning in therapy is how our brains work. Mine, in particular, works differently than most due to the stacks of trauma that are stored in there. I’d like to think that even without having gone through what I’ve gone through, my brain would still be a little quirky. A bit unconventional. 

Attaching emotion and memories to just about every object in one’s life is surely the basis for every episode of Hoarders but I think it’s also a way for people like me to remember when life didn’t hurt. When something as innocuous as a heavy secondhand glass holds not only my beloved cocktail but also a reminder of the kindness that exists in this volatile world.


Cheers, friends. 

PS yes that’s the fabulous Hannah Waddingham in Ted Lasso on the television. I’m rewatching it. We’ll chat about that later.

10/28/21

Middle Aged Woman, Interuppted

 



Oh hey there! It’s been a minute, right? I know this is the part where I present the binder full of excuses, and fill you in on everything that’s been happening since…yikes, when was my last post here? Just checked. Since October 22, 2020. 

A year.

365 days! Actually, 370-ish days. Oof. 

As I was saying, this would be the point in the post where I tell you why I quit writing. Why I suddenly stopped posting on the Hausfrau facebook page (aka Jennifer Ball, Writer)(lol). 

That would be a waste of your time, and quite frankly, mine as well. I’m going to do something very uncharacteristic and just jump in like we’ve been hanging out together here uninterrupted, okay? This has been said before but my god I miss writing and I miss hearing from you five or six dedicated readers and honestly I really miss unloading my never ending brain dialogue here. Are any of you like that? Do you have a constant narration going in your head? Maybe it’s just me. 

Anyway. Hi. 

I’m currently on a long term disability leave from work. And as grifty as that makes me feel (it probably sounds griftier than that) it’s something that has been a long time coming, and something that has been desperately needed for a while. I keep telling myself, “that’s why they have these policies in place, ding dong, stop feeling guilty” but as some of you know, guilt rides shotgun most days. And on the days someone else like anxiety or self loathing is in that spot, she’s in the backseat. 

I didn’t get physically injured. I’m still healthy in body. Mind? Ooooh my friends. 

I am not okay. And probably haven’t been for a very long time. 

Don’t misunderstand; it’s not like I had an obvious breakdown. I wasn’t screaming in the middle of town square, I didn’t strip naked and run down the aisles of Costco (although that would be a hell of a way to get those spanakopita sample gobblers out of the way, right?). I didn’t try to harm myself or anyone else. 

This was a quiet one. It was conceived ages ago and the gestation was finally complete this summer. Let me tell ya, labor was a bitch.

I am tired of the word TRIGGER for a plethora of reasons but it’s applicable in this case. There was definitely a trigger, a defining moment. If we’re going to continue along with the pregnancy analogy, what happened this past June was the membranes being stripped and me being sent home to see how thing progressed.

Not sure of the legalities or confidentiality of disclosing the event that pushed me over the edge, but here at the Hausfrau blog it’s always been “my story, my truth, my right to tell it” (remember when my ex found this little confessional? Yeah, I became an armchair attorney after that, ha). And I am a public school employee and as far as I know, our employment contracts are not private. So. Here’s the scoop.

I’ve written before about how I love my job. That’s the truth. I do. Being a school secretary might sound like a dead end road to a lot of people, like a meaningless and low-end career. It kind of is, but it also isn’t. It is not a way to wealth but it is a way to connection with community, with families, with amazing kids and the best coworkers anyone could want. It provides excellent health insurance and until recently, stability and security. 

Pretty sure I’ve written here before about the challenges of making ends meet on a secretarial income. It’s not always easy. And that was before Covid. 

Our entire work landscape has been mutating and been reinvented since the country came to a slow motion halt in March of 2020. Almost everyone I know has had some significant change in how or where or what they do to earn a living. 

In our school district, we were sent home. And stayed there until the next school year began. It was, as all of you know, surreal and unsettling and more than a little scary. I mean, who could have called this one? A pandemic? Yes, there were scientists and researchers and doctors warning us about this for years but surely I’m not the only one who thought that was a worst-case, dystopian scenario. HAVE YOU WATCHED CONTAGION? 😂

So, during the lockdown, we stayed home like we were supposed to be. We checked our emails, we texted, the badass teachers learned how to teach virtually overnight. We stumbled along and somehow made it through. During that time our little clerical contract was being negotiated. Communication was spotty. The people in the association let us know, periodically, how it was going. And then it was settled. Boom. End of story.

Only, there was one very small but very significant change made. We have always received a bonus of sorts, in our last school year paycheck. It’s not Tesla buying money, but for people who are not paid a heck of a lot, it certainly came in handy. Especially for me, since my summer position had been eliminated due to Covid and a restructured summer program. The summer job was one I’d had for years, a full time gig that kept the paychecks coming. And one that, after I had to fight for a couple years, provided me with vacation days and extra sick days. 

During negotiations that bonus was restructured and renamed. No longer a bonus, it became a stipend. A restriction on who was eligible for the bonus stipend was written in. It had historically been for all full-time employees. 30 hours a week or more, you are considered full-time. Which I’ve been for years. 

They added a single line in the contract, specifically under the stipend section, that only people working 1300 hours or more would receive the stipend. It stated “full time employees working over 30 hours a week + 1300 hours a year are eligible”. Yes, I probably should have known exactly how many hours I work. But come on. We were under stay-at-home orders, there was a shitshow countrywide division happening, my dad died, menopause hit, I HAD COVID, the world was basically on fire. 

Anyway. I ended up only working around 1260 hours in the 20-21 school year. Yep. I missed it by less than a couple weeks of work. And that was due to my hours being involuntarily cut. So. No stipend, bonus, whatever you want to call it…I didn’t get it.

For the record, I was okay without it. Thanks to my side hustle, Poshmark, I had been able to survive a second summer of no work (summer of 2020 I did file for unemployment which was another red tape rodeo but we can gab about that later). I was okay but I was concerned and upset. It didn’t feel ethical. It didn’t feel like the “kind, equitable, empathetic” values that our district espouses. 

It felt a lot like the tactics my ex enlisted during our divorce. 

Knock knock!

Who’s there?

Trigger.

Already in a stressed, anxious state of mind, the stipend circus and the gaslighting responses I received not only opened the little trapdoor to the years of well-hidden and not-so-well-hidden trauma and fear and anger and all of the other feelings I’d managed to stuff away, it ripped that goddam door right off its freaking hinges. 

You know the scenes in horror movies when portals to hell or other demonic spaces open wide and a howling, ethereal parade of ghosts and goblins flow out like neon green lava? That was basically my brain in June of 2021. 

It was not a good time. It felt like reliving all of the past shit: the bruises and shattered trust left by my gross stepdad. The gut punch of being left to care for four little kids with no job, no money. The crappy relationships with my parents. Being lied to and shit on by people who were supposed to be on my side, who were supposed to care for, and love me.

It was a summer of depression. Of nightmares. Flashbacks. Panic. It was a summer where I felt as if life was no longer working for me and I pondered my options. I had a plan, one that thankfully I was either too scared or too brave to follow through with. 

And as the coming school year drew closer, these feelings intensified. My friends and family were becoming increasingly concerned. The two women I’ve been blessed with as besties confessed to me, at a later time, that they had considered finding emergency assistance for me. Sleep was a joke: like a newborn I slept in tiny increments and woke to cry and feed at all hours. Panic attacks sprang up at really fun times, like on my daily walks with Walter, and while driving. 

I decided that it was finally, finally time to deal with me. 

For the past however many years- 40 have passed since I last ducked under my bed to avoid the punches of a monster, 12 or so have slid by since losing everything but my life and my kids in a nightmare divorce- I’ve done a decent job of pretending. Pretending that I’m okay. I’m tough! I’m resilient! I’m Miss Jenny, dammit! Dogs love me, kids love me, I had everyone fooled. Nobody really knew what was always there, just out of sight beneath the masks of Brave Single Mom or Always Happy Secretary. Plucky Survivor, lol. My goodness I had a veritable Halloween store, didn’t I? 

Well. That’s over. No more masks. No more pretending. No more burying feelings like a dog hiding treats in the yard. 

After a false start and a ridiculously long waiting period, I’ve found a therapist who is trained to deal with PTSD and other traumas. I’m abiding by my employment contract and taking advantage of the policies that are in place to assist with situations like mine. 

For the first time, in what feels like a lifetime, I’m taking care of me. 

It feels so weird and so good to be in this little corner of the internet again. 

Thank you for being here with me. 




10/22/20

I really CAN quit you, Facebook!




Come sit next to me, little ones, while I regale you with the tale of Facebook.

Oh! The days of yore when it was a seemingly benign place for people to gather. We tended our make-believe farms, posted lengthy "10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me" notes, friended that guy we drank chocolate milk with in kindergarten and answered promptly when Facebook asked us what's on your mind? even if what was on our mind was something as banal as how tired/hungry we were or "watching CSI".

My babies, it was FUN. It was bonding and millions of us reconnected with long-ago friends, shared pics and updates with Aunts and Uncles and followed our favorite celebs. Personally, it helped me through the dark post-divorce times. As cringey as my vintage status updates are, reading them now is a not-so-gentle reminder of the hell that my life was for a long time and how much love friends gave. 

Facebook grew. And like a baby who once elicited gentle oohs and ahhs, it became a tantrum-prone toddler: still cute but my gosh super annoying at times. The toddler stage came and went, and we hung on for the ride. It became less about staying in touch with everyone and more about taking stances, advertising and living that Fakebook life. We joked and collectively yiked when our conversations off of the internet spurred suggestions and ads about the very things we had mentioned in supposed-privacy. 

Facebook became less fun and more stressful. At least, that's how it was for me. 

It was also addicting. It was often the very first app I checked in the mornings, and it wasn't uncommon for scarily large chunks of time to slip away while I scrolled, commented and liked. It was almost ritualistic, the initial check of notifications, answering (or sometimes not answering, lol) the messages, checking up on people we were worried about or crushing on or disagreeing with. I found myself turning to Facebook when I was feeling cagey or ragey or bitchy. 

Do you remember the first time someone you thought you knew, someone you thought you liked unconditionally, posted something that shocked you? I'm not talking about someone who admitted they loved Hallmark Christmas movies or preferred black licorice over red. I mean something that at the time seemed uncharacteristic, like another personality had taken over their profile.

I'm trying to recall the first time I did one of those cartoon gasps, when a "friend" publicized something that took me by surprise. I can't think of the original OMG moment but whoa- there were many more to follow. 

Politics. It started with the politics, naturally. It was one thing when someone declared their hatred for the Green Bay Packers, something entirely different when that ire was directed at a group of people based on their political leanings. And when it turned towards race/religion? Ugh. 

We learned how to unfollow, how to mute chats, how to block and sometimes, how to unfriend. I have always prided myself on being Little Miss Sunshine, the uniter, the glass-half-full person. Switzerland! Why can't we all just get along? But it became increasingly harder to be that person. I found myself fighting with friends and strangers, pretending to be a hardass when inside I'm the softest ass you'll ever meet. 

I was judged, and I judged right back. Facebook became a boxing ring instead of the inviting front porch it had always been. 

There was still fun to be had, though. I started a private group, The Porch, which quickly filled up with fellow divorce survivors and supporters (hey porchers!!! I miss you all!!). The public Happy Hausfrau page was a little oasis from the pettish din. I started a weekly Meme Roundup and Friday mornings quickly became my favorites as I posted meme after meme. People commented and liked and shared and we LOLOLOLed together and it was a blast. 

But even the meme roundup became stained with acrimony. And when the meme roundup became more of a chore than anything else, I realized it was time to step back.

When clicking on that innocent little blue and white icon filled me with trepidation over what I'd find in the notifications rather than that old timey excitement, I knew a choice had to be made. And it wasn't because I wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend that life is a gd walk in the park. It was self-protection. 

Some of us are able to scroll past the stinky stuff. To ignore the baiting and the lying and the downright awfulness. I'm not one of those people. I'm a sponge, you guys. Whatever I'm around gets soaked up, absorbed. Both good and bad. It's not the worst trait but it's a doozy. Especially when our world is such a raging cluster of vein-popping scream-fests and hills that are so NOT worth dying on. 

And so, a day after my birthday, I removed the app from my phone. Yes I'm laughing about how dumb that sounds but it was harder than you might think. The worst of it was my writing stuff. Even though writing has become more of "used to" thing with me, it was good to be in touch with fellow bloggers and editors and fans. I've been threatening to write a book for what feels like centuries now, and it sucks that unless you have a preformed fan-base, an influential platform, you are almost certainly doomed to fail. For that reason I didn't delete my pages. (okay also because it's a hell of a time capsule, right?)

Breaking up with Facebook was easier than I thought it would be. Also harder in ways I hadn't anticipated. I worry that people who only knew me through that particular realm would think I just fell off the face of the earth or worse, cut ties. The temptation to log back in has been real. But I've resisted. My rebounds have been twitter and Instagram. Twitter for the bitchy days and Instagram for the warm fuzzy ones. 

Some days, I miss it. But in this case, absence isn't making the heart grow fonder. It's making my heart happier. 

Maybe, juuuust maybe, after the election and if we get a handle on the 'rona, I'll check back in. I'm sure my beloved aunt has tagged me in countless wine memes, Scary Mommy comment sections are still rife with combat and high school friends are still posting scary/hilarious conspiracy theories. That FOMO feeling is fading with each passing day, though. It's refreshing to not have that weird compulsion to check in on the Facebook and see what's happening. 

I miss it, but I don't. 

It's also really nice to be back here again ❤

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