It’s Testing Time at school. Georgia Milestones. Honestly, I have not really given much thought to testing until now–now that I am smack dab in the middle of it, proctoring a classroom and seeing how it all goes down.My school has it down to fine art–like a well oiled machine (for the most part). Our principal has mad skills in organization. Of course things have gotten, well, a little…um…testy…here and there, but that’s to be expected. Testing is stressful for everyone!
These kids don’t have a clue how good they have it. They are taking their tests on computers! We, oh MY GOD, WE had to use PENCILS!!! Pencils and SCANTRON SHEETS!
And the instructions for the damn Scantron sheets were heinous!!! The teacher had to read them EVERY time we started a new section! Carefully fill in the bubble. Do not darken outside the bubble. Be sure to darken the bubble completely or the Scantron reader will not be able to read your answer. Make sure that you are on the same line with your question…..OMG. If you managed to get off line, you were totally screwed. These kids are only taking a section or two, two days a week! We, oh MY GOD, WE tested ALL DAY!!! Our little hands were cramped up and exhausted from filling in all of those damned BUBBLES! These kids get to…wait for it… EAT a snack between sections! YES, a SNACK!!! Now here is where I just really take offense. Back in the day, nobody gave rat’s ass whether WE needed a SNACK or not! There we were-little, tiny students….YES, we were a lot smaller than students are today! I know this to be true because I found a dress that I wore all the time in 5th grade and I held it up to The Baby about two months ago. It was way too small for him and he is in 3rd Grade. Granted, he is slightly tall for his age, but only slightly. Where was I??? Oh yes, there we were-little, tiny students, testing all day, filling in Scantron bubbles in hot classrooms (because back in the day a lot of schools did not have AC) SANS SNACK until lunchtime. Now, what kind of sadistic world were we living in?! It’s all coming back now–like PTSD…the abuse we suffered during ITBS Week. I may have to seek therapy…..Don’t come crying to me about how hard your baby has it for GA Milestones… 😉
I have heard some call it The Armageddon of the Highways, in jest, and others are serious when they say it. One thing is for certain: Atlantans only thought traffic was bad before March 30, that fateful day that I-85 caught fire and part of it burned down. The week after Spring Break, we had some more road problems. Torrential rains, hail-thunder-bolt-and-lightning-very-very-frightning-flash-flooding caused some roads to be closed down near where I live. This was Northlake Parkway:
THEN, I-20 buckled, due to an underground gas leak.
I was half expecting to see this guy come up through the concrete: A major intersection in my neighborhood was recently closed for about 5 weeks while the county fixed a water main. This sign appeared on Easter Sunday: This is the main road that we all use to get in and out of the neighborhood! This sign was a joke, of course, and the intersection was actually open, but some of us were beginning to feel like it was going to be closed forever. This week, a sinkhole on 5th Street was reported:
Now, this traffic thingy does not affect me all that much, say, unless, I have to go to one of my many doctors, who are spread out all over the city. While I thought I had taken care of all that over Spring Break, alas, I should have known that something else would inevitably come up and I would not only have to miss more work, but also have to drive through the clusterfuck that is now the Buford Highway Connector. I was right, of course. The Middle Child had a doctor’s appointment yesterday-deep in the heart of the fake Buckhead (I can say fake Buckhead, having grown up in Madison, Georgia, the next-door-neighbor to the original Buckhead, the one that keeps Buckhead in Atlanta from ever becoming it’s own city). We left our house in more than plenty of time, as I have a real hang-up about being late. I used Waze-even though my favorite voices (Morgan Freeman and Madea) are no longer available, damn it (If they are available, I cannot figure out how to use them-which would not be surprising in the least). They made it much more tolerable to drive anywhere. While Waze totally rocks, sometimes, there is just nothing it can do-especially here-and yesterday was one of those unfortunate times.
Everywhere I turned, there was a stopped line of traffic. I felt like I was in a corn maze…or better yet, at the Overlook Hotel…with Jack Torrance chasing me…..When we finally made it to what looked to be free and open road on I-75, we were blocked by 18 wheelers on either side, and an elderly woman doing 55 in a Camry in front of us. Not missing a beat, The Middle Child and I burst out into song, simultaneously, with a moving rendition of Ludacris’ “MOVE BITCH GET OUT DA WAY, GET OUT DA WAY”… I am getting a bit teary just thinking about it now (from laughing). I was finally able to pass the Camry and made up 2 minutes of our lost time before I exited onto Moore’s Mill Road and got hung up in traffic, yet again. Needless to say, we did make it, and only 4 minutes late. I have ONE GIANT COMPLAINT: PEOPLE OF ATLANTA!!!! STOP BLOCKING INTERSECTIONS!!!!! YOU ARE CAUSING THE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS!!!!! Our ride home was also heinous. Today I ordered groceries. I have had to lay down some ground rules. Nobody is allowed to do anything (except go to school) that involves me driving more than a two mile radius from home. All doctor and hair appointments (these fall under Necessary) must be mid-morning or on the weekend. If you must stay at school late, you must Uber home. Last, but not least, we will not be leaving the city on Fridays after 3:00AM. And a word of advice to anyone even considering coming to Atlanta: DON’T. For the love of GOD, stay out of here. I am thinking we may need to change Atlanta’s name to “Hotel California, Georgia”. You may be able to get in, but you can never leave. Good luck.
Yesterday, my cousin (who is more like a brother to me than a cousin) Clint and I went to Road ATL to watch my brother, Eli, race motorcycles. Clint drove up from Madison, to my house, which is actually in Atlanta, and we drove from my house to Road ATL. I find it somewhat ironic that Road ATL is on the Winder Highway, in Braselton, GA, 40 miles away from my house, which is in Atlanta. I was not exactly sure what I should wear to the race. I mean, I knew I could wear shorts. I opted for a striped, sleeveless, $15 dress from Old Navy, and threw on my running shoes. The Middle Child said it looked terrible. Clint said he hated it, too. It wasn’t the dress-it was the shoes with the dress. OKAY, OKAY, fine, I said. I went and put on my old, black, flat, glitter sandals with the ankle straps. I felt overdressed. JC said, It’s a spectator sport. There will be lots of people there who are dressed up. You will be fine. Here are your dressed-up spectators, Honey:
Thank God, Clint and I did a drive-by before we actually parked and got out. We split the scene and found the nearest Target so we could buy me some flip-flops and us some chairs (We did not find those bleacher thingies until after we went to Target. LMAO) Also, we went through the busiest Chick-Fil-A drive thru of all-time. It was so busy, it had to have it’s own traffic director. Unfortunately for you, I did not think to get a picture of that. We got back to Road ATL, ate our lunch, and Eli told us where we should go to watch the race. So, we went. We took Safety with us. The dog. Safety is Eli’s dog. The bikes are really, really loud. We were almost at the very end of the track, and we could hear them coming literally-a mile away. Okay, well, it probably was not actually a mile. It sounds like a really loud swarm of bees at first, then it is unmistakable–at least to me, but I grew up around motorcycles. They would go by so fast, that it was hard for us to find Eli at first. We knew what his bike looked like:
And we knew that he was #418. His helmet is black. His suit is black and white. None of that information narrows it down very much. Several in his group have similar colors, even though I don’t think anybody else had that exact same combination LOL. They are all going so fast, that it’s hard to see their numbers until they get right up on you–and, you are not allowed to get that close to the track. My 46.5 year old glasses-wearing eyes could barely see the numbers at all…until it was too late! I started taking pictures of everyone, knowing that eventually, I’d get him in at least one! (These are all him) (I think) 😉
They race in groups by experience. Eli is in the Advanced Group. The groups race for 20 minutes at a time and go once an hour. We decided just to stay where we were and not go back and forth to the Main Paddock. I had water for Safety (the dog, remember?) The next race was at 3:00. We were waiting for them to start when we saw 3 ambulances with their lights on, coming down the track. That was very unnerving. I looked at my watch. 3:02. I figured that was not enough time for Eli’s group to have even started. It was someone from the previous group, and we heard later that it was bad. We had positioned ourselves, our chairs, water, and Safety down at the very bottom of those stands. This was quite a hike and really good lunge exercise. I ended up having to go up these damn things 4 times–to get random shit out of the car. For this second round, we had set up a little farther down-so that we could see the bikes ‘do the S curve’ before they went up ‘Wheelie Hill’- a hill that lots of them did wheelies on because when they come out of the S and start up the hill, accelerating their speed, it’s on the engine and gravity. The motorcycle’s engine supplies more torque through the drive train to the rear wheel than the gravitational torque….click/boom: WHEELIE! I saw more wheelies yesterday than I have ever seen in my life, and it was au naturel…nobody was showing off. We somehow totally missed Eli’s 3:05 (post ambulance) round. In all of our intent searching for him, we never saw him go by. LMAO. In our defense, there was a lady there, photographing the whole thing for a friend. Her friend had texted her that his group, The Novice Group, had to stop mid-session, due to the big accident. She thought that his group had come back out at 3:05. Somehow, ‘black helmet, #418, white wheels, red bike’ were all just too much for me to look for at the same time, while the bikes were all going 180mph. Finally, at about 3:55, his group came out and we spotted him 😉 That was when we got our best pics. It was also when they got the red flag and had to go in early. The red flag means somebody has had an accident. We knew it was not Eli, because we actually got pics of him holding his arm up (to signify that he had seen the red flag) and going in. Now, at the time, we did not know what all of this meant, so we just sat back down and hung out. About 15 minutes later, I got this text:
(Those pics are some I had sent Eli after the first round we saw) So we gathered up all of our shit, and Safety, and we headed back up those big, bleacher thingies one last time. I decided my knees did not have it in me, so we walked all the way over to the edge and walked up the ramp–luckily, I think Safety knew he was going back to Eli, and was excited about that, so he pulled me up. When we got to the landing at the top, we heard another group start up. As we were almost to my car, Safety stopped dead in his tracks–like he was not going to move. He knew. Or at least he thought Eli was coming back out on the track! “Come on, Safe!” I said, “He’s not coming back out-that’s another group. Daddy’s done! Let’s go!” He walked on and got in the backseat of my car. When we got to the Main Paddock, I got him out of the car, and he walked me, very briskly, back to Eli! Safety knew exactly where he was!
I see now why Eli loves racing so much. I felt free, just being at the racetrack. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be driving that bike. I don’t really want to try that. I think I might feel like everybody else was chasing me-and that wouldn’t be fun for me. I used to ride a Honda Trail Bike (motorcycle) on the farm (a lot, not just once) growing up–and I loved it. It was very freeing. We did dangerous shit like that when we were young. We actually lived to tell about it too. Imagine that. My adrenaline was rushing, just watching them. I must add my Ricky Bobby commentary (even though I am well aware that Ricky Bobby raced cars, not motorcycles) Talladega Nights remains one of my favorite movies of all time…..It was a beautiful day at Road ATL….for those who like to go FAST…..we did not have our cougar, Karen, with us, but we did have our Labradoodle, Safety….. These men are the best there is. Plain and Simple. They wake up in the morning and they piss excellence….Maybe Eli and Elliott (the guy he rides with) ought to consider changing their names to El Diablo and The Magic Man… 😉 I’m just sayin’ ….will you at least consider saying ‘Shake and Bake’? You know, like before you start the race? LOLOL Please? 🙂
I HAD SO MUCH FUN!!! I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK! Back to this place where the rubber meets the road. I hope it’s soon. Next time, though, I’m wearing shorts.
After I finished this post, I remembered an integral part that I had inadvertently left out. I thought about just leaving well enough alone, but alas, I cannot 😉 And, actually, it’s two integral parts. While we were watching another group race, I saw somebody lay their bike down hard in the S curve. The guy flipped (his body) four times, and landed in the gravel. I gasped and jumped up out of my chair. The hair was standing up on my arms. The guy just got up and walked away. The suits that they all wear do exactly what they are supposed to do: protect them.
During the round that we missed Eli–when we kept thinking that he was not out there (and he actually was LOL), it crossed my mind that perhaps those three ambulances we had seen had been for him! Nobody that he was with knew me. I thought that maybe, just maybe, somebody had seen me, in my black and white convict-ish striped dress, and new flip-flops (that I tripped over more than once) taking Safety off with me. Lots of people seemed to know Safety. And maybe, just maybe, somebody would have the wherewithal to come and look for me-if something had happened. Nobody ever did, and then, of course, I got that text from Eli….so, you know. Anyway, on the way home, I shared that little psycho tidbit of information with Clint 😉 I think it was probably one of those things that you think but should just not share 😉 Clint burst out laughing. He said, Jennifah! I can see it now. Next time we are here, you are gonna be handing out business cards to all those people down at the Main Paddock! You’ll be saying, “Here’s my information, please call me if something happens!” My VistaPrint order should be here in about a week, El Diablo 😉
I feel as though my head may explode right off of my neck. I have a lot going on. I will not list off all of my current life/stress situations for you, as I see that as nothing but complaining. I will say that I have a GOOD Stress List and a BAD Stress List. Number one on the GOOD Stress List is that, after 9 years of living in our house, our heinous hellfire pit of a backyard and our swimming pool are getting a gigantic makeover! And I will tell you that my father-in-law-of-21-years-having-liver-cancer is numero uno on the BAD Stress List. I am getting so many helpful tips of advice on how to deal with all of my stress right now, too. I know people meanwell-I really do. I know that these things that they are advising me to do have actually helped them, and I respect that-I really do. This is not the first time I have ever been stressed out or anything [choke LOL]. But seriously. I have tried the usual, obvious things that everybody suggests.
Pray about it. Yep. I do pray about it. Morning, afternoon, and night. I pray. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE get Dekalb County to get off their asses and finish fixing the intersection of Evans Road and Henderson Mill Road so it can reopen and I can get to and from work in a decent amount of time, because going the long ass way really sucks. I pray that I-85 gets fixed really fast, because the traffic situation here in the ATL is so awful that I am afraid that the road-rage death toll is going to start rising. I pray about a lot of things. All day long.
Work Out. Yeah. I’m trying. That, my friend, is a HUGE part of the problem! There are NOT ENOUGH hours in the day! Where did they all go? There used to be 24. Now there are like 5. What the hell happened? I get up, go to work, which I am usually 5 to 7 minutes late for, come home, have zero time to do anything, make lunches for the next day, throw together a shitty dinner or order out, and go to bed. Now where in the hell am I supposed to fit working out into that God-awful routine? Make it a priority-I know, I know, I know. I am trying. Really, I truly am. I set my clock. I go to bed early. Sometimes, it is just humanly impossible for me to get up at 4:00am-even if I go to bed at 8:30pm. I’m 46.5 years old. I work full time, not from home. I have 3 kids-yes, one is at college, but I do still worry about him like he is at home LOLOL. I had thyroid cancer in 2006 and have no thyroid. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2013, and while most of the time I don’t think I actually have it, there are times when that statement comes to bite me on the ass. I actually do work out two to three times a week, and for now, I’m afraid that’s going to have to suffice-for me.
Meditate. Yeah, right. I have proven that it is not humanly possible for me to meditate. I have tried. And tried and tried and tried. I even tried a class at the Buddhist Monastery near my house. I hate meditation. I don’t just hate it, I detest it. I start thinking about what I am going to do when I get done meditating, or what I need to be doing instead of meditating. Then my blood pressure goes up, because I am wasting time just sitting there. It is terrible.
Ask for help and allow people to help. I do this. Each and every day. In fact, I have gotten really, really good at this one. So good, that I am probably abusing some of my relationships, which is not good.
Learn to say “NO”. This one took me a LONG time to even grasp onto, but, man, I have a firm grip on it now. I don’t have a problem saying “NO”, in fact, I can give you a big, fat, “HELL to the NO” in under a second-for just about any request that involves me putting myself out, most especially if it involves driving (Next year, I have plans in the works to pay someone to take the children to school- If you live in Atlanta, that statement makes total sense to you-most especially since the crackheads burned down I-85). Nothing makes me feel guilty about it, either. Not even Mothah 😉
Take care of me. I try to do this. This falls into the working out category for me. It also falls under the not enough hours in the day category. How does anyone with a job, a house, bills, or kids actually have “me time”? Seriously.
Go to a meeting. Bill, if you are reading this, refer to the working out or take care of me category 😉
I have a lot of gratitude for all of the good things and good people in my life. I love my job and the friends I have made there. I look forward to getting there each morning. See, I knew this would happen. As frustrating as things were for me going back to work last August and September, and well October and November and if I am being honest, December was no picnic because it was the first December in 8 years that I had worked….What I am getting at here is that I do not want to give anything up! I cannot imagine not working now. I think I need to learn how to juggle….. So, just when things were coming together, what did we do? We got a puppy. What the hell were we thinking? Clearly, we were not. I had it all planned out in my head-it was going to work perfectly. Of course that is not what happened! I am losing my mind. At work, I can miss 13 days. 10 sick days and 3 personal days. That looks like a lot on paper, and it even sounds like a lot. Who should actually need all of those days? ME! ME! ME! I need them and more. I needed to go to New York City for three days, just because, with Mothah and her BFF and The Middle Child–that was planned before I took my job. Then, I found out I had a hernia and needed surgery-BOOM, 5 days. As much as I love my job, the damn thing interferes with my life, already!!! Fast-forward to Spring….We did not make any fabulous Spring Break plans because we are going to France as soon as school gets out. I made all the doctor’s appointments for Spring Break. Every single day of our Spring Break was taken up by an appointment of some sort. On Friday, I almost canceled my mammogram–just to have one free day of Spring Break, but I didn’t because I knew I would not have time to go again. How in the hell do people actually do this and stay sane? I am sitting here, on my bed, staring at my dresser and the mound of clothes that is piled up on top of it-simply because I have not taken the time to put anything away. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes. My family is waiting on me to cook dinner. There is laundry to be done. I could be downstairs on my elliptical machine, working out, but I am not, and for some reason, I don’t give a rat’s ass. It. Will. All. Wait. I have cried at work every single day this week (over non-work-related issues), except today, and today is Thursday. The funny thing about me not crying today is that during my carpool duty, I got a phone call and I actually answered it-just not thinking. It was about the mammogram that I had last Friday-the one I almost canceled so that I would have one free day of Spring Break. They need me to come in for a follow-up. Dammit. On top of every single fucking other thing, (remember, now, I didn’t tell you everything) I have to go back in for another mammogram. Really? I know it is probably nothing, and I am not really worried, but even having to go back in again at all is something to me–it takes time out of my day, and my job. It’s different now that I no longer answer to just myself. I know, I know….I should be grateful, and I AM. If it is something, that I am fortunate enough to have been notified and yada yada yada…yeah, I get it. It’s just always something, and I do know that life is that way. I seem to be getting a lot of life lately. I suppose I should be grateful?! I hear that it’s better than the alternative, a lot, but seriously, how do I know that? How do you know that? How does anybody fucking know that? LOLOL NOBODY has actually come back from THE ALTERNATIVE to tell us whether it’s better there or NOT! So, really, I’m sick and tired of hearing about how this shit is better than the alternative. YOU don’t KNOW that for a fact. When you DO know that, then come talk to me! 😉 That does not mean that I want to head for The Alternative! I’m just sayin’….. Anyway….There is a lot of good going on. Mini Me is about to be home for the summer. That means that I can hire him to do all of the things that I can’t seem to get to. He can also take care of, um, I mean BOND WITH the puppy! The Middle Child is going to Scotland with her youth group. We are all going to France. The psychomother is just, well, a little teeny bit psycho right now. It’s okay. It’s not like it’s the first time.
It’s the worst sort of ‘blockage’. Okay, so maybe not the worst. LOL. I surely can think of at least one other blockage that would be far worse, but this one is, at least…. bad …enough ? I have had WRITER’S BLOCK (WB) for about three months now! I am not talking about ‘just a little bit’ of WB, where I can at least think of a topic or two….I am talking serious, full-blown, nothin’-is-up-there, WRITER’S BLOCK. Life has been, oh, what is it I am supposed to say? Some positive-flowery bullshit like: “Full and vibrantly brimming with fun, daily learning activities that challenge my children intellectually, physically and emotionally”. When what I really mean is this: “Overloaded. Overslept. Under slept. Meant to work out. Didn’t work out. Too many carpools. Too much laundry. Can’t make it to the grocery store. Order out too many meals. Don’t remember the last time I vacuumed. Not ashamed to write that last sentence. (Sorry Mothah 😉 Soccer. Piano. Voice. Choir. Homework. New puppy. Misunderstood by most. Oh, and did I mention work? And that’s a new one this year. Everything else is not balancing out so well anymore. Last week, nothing was balancing out, and I was late to work every single day. Then, as if traffic in the ATL weren’t awful enough….the unimaginable actually happened: A huge section of I-85 caught on fire and burned up! Now, you really have no idea what this is like if you do not live in this gargantuan place. SO….I have been in the car more than usual this week-even though we are on Spring Break. It takes longer to get around town right now. I can’t even think about what traffic is going to be like next week, when we all go back to school. Basically, thepsychomother has gone a little, well…. psycho…. 😉 I am quite sure that I will get my groove back soon-I just didn’t want you to think I had fallen off the planet.
It was my idea to get a dog. I mean, we did discuss it together, but I pushed for it-the way that I do-for most things that I want or want for ‘the children’ or ‘our family’. JC did all the research and we settled on a labradoodle for breed, then set out to find the actual dog. It wasn’t long before we found the Warbington family in North Georgia. We went to meet them and their dogs and puppies. I remember that it was instantly clear that Beau was meant to be ‘ours’. We could not take him home right then, as he was not quite old enough. Mini Me and The Middle Child were so excited. We were all so excited. The Baby would be one at the end of February-just after Beau would come to live with us. We had done lots of research to make sure that a labradoodle would do well with children-most especially a baby-who would be pulling his hair and tugging on him most of the time. We needed a dog that was 100% kid friendly. We bought an extra large dog crate because Beau’s father was huge and we knew that meant that Beau had the potential to also be huge. We readied our home for Beau just like any expectant parents and counted down the days until his arrival. While we were waiting, we caught one of those unexpected curve balls that life has such a bad reputation for throwing at the most inopportune times. JC lost his job. I questioned whether we should actually go ahead and get the dog-but only for a brief moment. We had already met Beau! The children would be completely heartbroken if we just up and canceled their puppy! Of course we forged ahead and brought Beau home. We knew that everything we would work out, and guess what? It did!
The first few nights, I wondered what the hell I had gotten us into. We had decided to crate-train Beau. I likened this to teaching a baby how to sleep in his or her own bed-something I had not been successful at with Mini Me, and was already proving to be a colossal failure at with The Baby ( The Middle Child slept on her own, from day one). We put the crate in our kitchen and Beau cried and cried the first couple of nights. It was pure torture (for me, at least) to hear him crying and yelping. Unlike either of our human baby boys, Beau’s crying lessened with each night that passed, until one night-maybe just five or so in, he curled up in his crate and just went to sleep! The thought crossed my mind that perhaps I should purchase a crate for The Baby since his crib was not working at all…
Beau had a sensitive stomach from Day One. He threw up a lot. I don’t do throw up-human or canine! I find myself gagging and dry heaving while trying to clean it up! The fact that JC was not working was an added bonus! (Of course, JC did not see it that way! LOL) We finally found a food that would work for Beau. It was, of course, a special, organic, $60-per-bag, food that we could only buy at a particular store that was nowhere near our house. Go figure. I bitched about this constantly. I will stand behind my right to bitch because I was trying to raise three children. One of those children was a year old. The other two children were in two different schools. I had lost over two liters of blood during the birth of The Baby, and had been given no blood transfusion. I had been pretty much a maniac for about 6 months, and was still running around half-cocked most of the time (I know, I know-what has changed?). All I needed was a high-maintenance puppy. I was high-maintenance enough, myself! I certainly did not need any competition. I really think that we should have taken Beau to obedience school, but we opted to ‘train’ him ourselves. He let The Baby pull on him and hang on him and hit him and poke him and pinch him and do all the torturous things that a one year old will do to a dog. Beau never, ever even so much as growled at The Baby (he growled at me quite a few times LOL). In the first few years, we really had to be careful about leaving the door open, because if he got out, he would tear off down the street and we could not catch him. He was faster than a bolt of lightning. He would run and literally bounce up and down the street. We had an elderly neighbor who he would undoubtedly run to if he got out, and he would scare the shit out of her-every time. He would jump up on her and then bounce around her. We would run out of the house, calling his name and yelling for him, and our neighbor would be yelling…it got to be quite funny-to us- after the first time or two ( I don’t think our neighbor ever found it to be very humorous). Beau wouldn’t have hurt a fly. His size and energy scared people who were easily frightened by dogs. When he had just been groomed, he was majestic. If I had him out with me on my walk, I usually had at least one person stop and ask about him. He loved to ride in the car, too. JC would say, “You wanna go for a ride, Beau?”, and he would run to the door. He liked to ride in the front seat. It was pretty hilarious. He always looked like a really tall person with really good posture, sitting there in the passenger seat.
Beau would come and tell me when he needed to go out. I swear, I thought that one day, he would actually say to me, “I need to go out”. He would come to me and step from side to side on his front feet and look at me, really intently. If I was doing something and not paying attention to him, he would growl, but not a mean growl, it was a growl-talk. I am serious-I really expected him to talk one day! If I did not get up at the growl-talk, he would eventually bark, but it was rare that he had to do that. I seemed to be the only one he could communicate with that way, but I did not know that for years. I thought that surely he went to the kids or JC the same way, but he did not-only me. He would circle the inside of the house and go downstairs if he needed to go out and I was not there, but the growl-talk was special for me. When he would come and growl-talk to me, I would say, “you need to go out, Beau?” and he would turn around and run down to the door. We understood each other perfectly.
Beau pretty much sucked at “Catch”. I mean he did not get it at all. He wanted to get it. He loved to have the ball thrown for him to go get, but he did not want to give the ball back! In fact, he refused to give the ball back. We had to always have two balls. We would throw one and Beau would go catch it and come back with it in his mouth, but he refused to let go of it. We would have to throw the other ball and then he would release the original ball. It was always very frustrating for the human side 😉
Beau had a very bad sweet tooth. We found this out one day when I had made a cheesecake for a family gathering. I had set it on the top of the stove to cool. I had pushed it all the way to the back. Beau was only about 8 months old at the time, and I thought nothing of leaving the cheesecake out while I ran upstairs for five minutes. I came back downstairs and found a completely empty springform pan! Not a crumb was left anywhere. It was as if I had not even made the cheesecake at all, and had simply placed the springform pan on top of the stove! At first, I could not figure out where the cheesecake had gone. This had never happened before. It took me a few minutes to put two and two together and figure out that Beau had pulled the pan to the front of the stove and devoured the cheesecake, in its entirety, leaving nary a crumb. Needless to say, I was thoroughly pissed off. Now, I had to make another damn cheesecake! This meant I had to go to the grocery store, re-buy the ingredients, and re-make the whole damn thing! Damn IT, Dog!!! UGH!!! I did it, though. A couple of days later, Beau ate half of a Hershey Bar Cake that was on the counter. Neither the cheesecake nor the Hershey Bar Cake made him sick. We had to train the children to hide their Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and Easter candy. If Beau was in too big of a hurry, he would not unwrap the candy and we would come home to piles of dog throw up with candy wrappers all in it. If he could manage to control himself long enough to unwrap the candy, he did not get sick. It was always a dead giveaway when Beau had unwrapped the candy because he left smeared chocolate on the wrappers, and I guess it was just too much for him to throw the wrappers in the trash can LOL 😉 Usually the children put their wrappers in the trash. I came home one day, to a dozen Rice Krispie Treat wrappers in and around Beau’s crate. Somebody had left the laundry room door open and Beau had helped himself to a large snack. I always took great pleasure in snapping pics of the evidence and texting them to JC while he was at work, usually with the caption “YOUR GD DOG!!!”….
Beau loved the water. We could not let him out when we were using the pool because somebody would have had to get him out every single time, and eventually he was too big for that. His paws would have sliced the pool liner up. He could swim the length of the pool very quickly! If he got out of the house, and the kids were swimming, he would just jump right in.
Most of his life, Beau threw up occasionally. My brother has Beau’s brother and my daddy has Beau’s half-brother. They also throw up occasionally. Our vet knew about the throwing up, and was not concerned. When the throwing up got worse this fall, I changed his food. It helped for a few days. I changed it again-this time to gluten free. I really thought I was on to something. I was not. It got worse. We took Beau to a new vet, who said that he was healthy. His blood work was perfect. We tried a new, fresh food that was only good for four days! The last time he ate anything was December 12 or so. We took him back to the vet and let them do an ultrasound and x-rays. This time, the vet found a mass in his stomach and it was determined to be cancer. We decided to bring Beau home and take things day by day. The vet said that she thought we would know when it ‘was time’. On Friday, December 30, 2016, we took our beloved Beau to Saint Francis Veterinary Specialists. We got to go in a room with him that was cozy-with a lamp and some chairs. They brought in a dog bed and a blanket. We each hugged him and talked to him. The doctor came in and explained what she was going to do and asked if we had any questions. We didn’t. We had all been crying since before we got there. She left the room and came back a few minutes later. She gave Beau a sedative shot. He sat down on the dog bed. He had on his red sweater. The doctor asked us if we wanted it. We said no. I had just gotten him that sweater a few weeks earlier. We really just wanted his collar-NO!-we really just wanted HIM. Beau was getting sleepy and she gave him the other shot. He went down slowly, just like he was going to sleep. The doctor checked for his heartbeat and it was gone. She left the room. The Middle Child threw herself on the floor with Beau and I thought I might die. I could hear The Baby crying. I looked up and saw Mini Me’s sweet face, and my heart was breaking over and over again. The walk to the car was like walking the green mile-only our sentence was going home without our Beau.
I can’t bring myself to put Beau’s dishes away-they are still in the kitchen. His crate is still in our bedroom. If I talk about him for more than a few minutes, I will cry. I didn’t know how attached to Beau I was. I complained about him all the time. I was the one who who did everything for him. I let him out, and back in. I took him to the vet. I fed him and made sure he had water. I was the one who cleaned up after him. I did not like the way he smelled. I did not like it when he barked at people walking down the street. I did not like it when he got on my bed. I am ashamed to say that I was one of those people who would scroll through my Facebook feed and every time I saw a post of someone else’s dog or cat, I would roll my eyes and say, “don’t they have anything else to post about? ” I am no longer such a horribly insensitive Cruella DeVille. When we took Beau to be put down, I felt as though we were putting down one of our children. We had him one year less than we’ve had The Baby! He was part of our family. The worst part of it is that I don’t get a chance to change and be a better human for Beau. He really was a good dog-a sweet dog. I wish that I could come home and catch him on my bed…maybe with a bunch of Rice Krispie Treat wrappers all over the floor…..
Here it is, a week before Christmas, and I just finished decorating. I don’t think that has ever happened before. I managed to twist Mini Me’s arm enough so that he and his friend (and bandmate) Jody (who will now be known to us as ‘Cody’ because the music teacher, who is also a friend of mine, kept calling him that) played guitar for the 4th grade program at my school yesterday. They even participated in our “tacky holiday/winter wear dress-up day” and wore ugly sweaters. I am pretty sure that the kids loved them. I do not think that Mini Me and Cody will be fulfilling my dream of them playing in the lunchroom on Tuesday, though…. Mini Me’s expression tells it all.
This is the first year that I have truly considered not buying a Christmas Tree. Of course, this was only in my head and not discussed with anyone else in my household, and we did get a real tree. Mini Me, The Middle Child, and The Baby each have a fake tree in their bedrooms, so it’s not like I was going to deprive anyone of anything. I was just feeling particularly grinchy and not in the mood. You see, I am the one who goes into the attic each year and gets out the 10 red and green Rubbermaid containers of Christmas shit. Usually, there is nobody standing at the bottom of the attic stairs to hand the containers to. I am the one who puts up every tree, decorates every tree, puts all of the empty containers back into the attic, and then gets them all down after Christmas is over, and undecorates every tree and puts it all back again. I am the one who gets the bigger Rubbermaid containers out of the shed in the backyard and carries them to the front yard. I am the one who puts up all of our outdoor decorations and lights, and I am the one who has to take it all down and put it all back. JC does not enjoy getting ready for Christmas-that is what he told me when I once asked him to ‘get into the holiday spirit’ and ‘let’s put the outdoor decorations up together’. Quite frankly, it is all a big pain in the ass. When I was a little younger, and the kids were a little younger, all of this brought me great joy-they would get so very excited. Now? not so much. Now, it brings me sciatica and nerve pain in my back, and makes my toes numb and tingly. The kids don’t give a rat’s ass if their trees are up- otherwise they would help me decorate them. That, alone, should be the sign that I should stop. Yet…this year, I did it once again. ‘Tradition’, I called it, (in my head). This year, I threw something new, albeit a little creepy, into my dining room decor. I dressed up all 12 of our American Girl dolls- in holidayish attire, and set them out around the hearth and dining room tree. That was all fun and games until The Middle Child came to me and said, “Mom, when my friends come over for my gingerbread house party next week, you have to put my dolls up. It’s embarrassing.” Damn It. I told her there was nothing embarrassing about her dolls-they are her damn dolls! And, they are not moving! She stomped off. I spent hours dressing those bitches! Do you know how long it took me to find all the fucking shoes????? And I did their hair!!!! For the love of GRINCHMAS, they are staying the hell out!!!! And The Middle Child can just get the hell over it!!
I am about over our Elf. It’s so boring. I can’t really tell if The Baby still believes or not. He goes down to find Elvis, and then he will be like ” oh, yeah, he hides there every year-whatever”. And I am like well, shit. I got up out of my warm ass bed to go move this fucker…. I really think the jig is up, but I will keep on keepin’ on….I do think I am going to have to start getting creative again, but I am just so damn tired and I don’t really want to make a mess I am going to have to clean up!!!
Mini Me sent his grandparents his Christmas List. I think the cheapest thing on the list was $400. This was their response, prior to them asking for an updated list, which he did send.
Christmas was once my favorite time of year. I think I have moved on and now Summer is my favorite time of year. Nobody has any special performances. Nobody has to take special gifts or food anywhere. I am not expected to be anywhere at any certain time, with any particular food items, for any specific length of time…Yep. Summer is where it’s at for me. Zero obligations. I am now in the “gotta get through the holidays” mode. I miss the olden days.
I will never forget it. It was Tuesday night, November 8, 2016. Election Day, of all days. We were in my family room. Mothah was on the small couch. JC was on the big couch. I was in my chair. The Baby was sitting between me and JC, on the arm of the big couch, belting out songs from Hamilton, nearly at the top of his little lungs. JC was on his laptop, trying to figure out Mothah’s Hilton Honors account, as she had no recollection of even opening that account or filling out any information regarding Hilton or Honors of any kind, yet there was a Hilton Honors account- in her name– associated with our upcoming reservation at the Midtown Manhattan Hilton. Go figure. We needed that damn number, or we were going to be sans internet for three whole days. I was on my laptop, trying to escape the chaos-at least in my mind. The Election was on the television. This was a lot going on, if I even need to point that out. I was trying like hell to block out the noise of The Baby’s singing and the television, when Mothah said, “Jennifah, I need to talk with you about my Advance Directive.” I looked up, over my glasses and across the room. “WHAT?” I said. “I want to talk to you about my Advance Directive,” Mothah said again. “RIGHT NOW?” I said, having to raising my voice over my little Daveed Diggs, who was mid- What’d I Miss? in my right ear. “Jennifah, it’s nevah a good time, so I figure that now is just as good a time as any”, she said. I had to admit that she had a good point. Lately, it seemed I had had zero time to talk to anyone but myself, and when, was it, really, a good time to talk about anyone’s Advance Directive??? I told The Baby to hush the Hamilton for a few, and turned down the television. Mothah began: Alright. I have finished my Advance Directive. This is in case I evah have to be on life support or any decisions regarding my life have to be made without my input-all of the directions are in my Advance Directive. It’s all taken care of and you don’t need to worry about a thing, Jennifah. “Okay,” I said, wondering if I was supposed to feel some relief at this declaration. I need to tell you something about it-something that is in the Advance Directive, Mothah went on. She had my complete attention. If, at any time, you and youah (your) brothah cannot agree on ‘when to pull the plug’ , “MOTHER!,” I interrupted, as The Baby was listening, wide-eyed and completely enrapt in the conversation. No, Jennifah, it’s fine if he hears this! she said. I backed down, simply because I still do what she tells me to (most of the time) and she continued: If there comes a time when you and Eli (my brother) cannot agree to ‘pull the plug’, you are to play Rochambeau until one of “WHAT?!” I practically yelled, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? ROCHAMBEAU?!” YES, JENNIFAH, ROCHAMBEAU!! she yelled back at me. Now, let me just tell you, in case you do not know, because I have found that many do not know, that Rochambeau is another name for ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. (Now, I am not going to go into the many theories of why this is, because there are too many, and, well, the truth is that nobody really knows why. If you are interested in learning about some of the theories, then Google it. It’s a very interesting read if you have nothing better to do! ) I had this sudden mental image of Eli and myself…standing at Mothah’s hospital bedside, where she would be all hooked up to monitors, and with tubes coming out and going in everywhere, her hair looking like Kramer on Seinfeld….and the two of us playing ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ to see who would get to decide when to ‘pull the plug’. I started laughing. Surely she was not serious! But she was serious. Dead Serious (pun intended) LOL. I MEAN IT, JENNIFAH! IT’S IN THE PAPAH’S! AND IT HAS BEEN NOTORIZED! Mothah said. Oh Lord. That meant somebody outside of our extended family had actually witnessed this! Mothah had more to say about it: Now, Jennifah, I came to this decision because I realized that if I was on life suppoht, that Eli might be ready to ‘pull the plug’ aftah, say, seven days, but then you would want to give me a few m0re weeks, and y’all would get into a fight. Rochambeau will keep you from fighting with each othah.You have to do it, Jennifah, because it is in my Advance Directive. “Okay”, I said, “We will. Can we stop this now?” Yes, Mothah said, laughing. She knows I hate talking about the mere possibility of her not being immortal. The Baby started up another Hamilton song and JC turned the tv volume back up. He had managed to locate Mothah’s Hilton Honors account, somehow. I sat in my chair, realizing yet again, that I have bat-shit-crazy blood running through my veins, and thinking that perhaps (in 25 years or so) I should start honing my ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ skills….. Seriously, people. I could not make this shit up if I tried.
A few weeks ago, my fellow Hamilton-obsessed friend told me about Daveed Diggs’ band, Clipping, coming to The Earl on November 2. Tickets were $12. I immediately bought two online. It was on a Wednesday night. I would have to go to work the next day, but I figured what the hell? It was Daveed! I’d missed him in Hamilton. He hadn’t left the show yet on July 6, when The Middle Child and I saw it, but he was not performing that day. THIS, I decided, THIS, was my chance to see Daveed Diggs. JC has taken Mini Me to many concerts-often waiting behind the venue with other fans for an autograph or a photo. I figured we could just do the same thing for moi…
There were three bands playing on November 2, and the order in which they were going to play got changed around a time or two. When I found out that Clipping was not going on until 11:00 pm, yes, I said, PM, I thought I might have to pass on Daveed. I sat in my chair at work and thought about how late 11:00 PM was, and how tired I was going to be the next day, and how early I like to go to bed. Who, exactly, was I trying to kid, here? I was never gonna make it. I realized that I had not left the house to go to an event that started that late since, well, perhaps…1994?! Here was the quandary: either I man up and stay up and maybe meet Daveed Diggs, OR I wuss out and be my normal, boring self and stay at home and go to bed by 10:00. Which would it be? It wasn’t that hard of a decision-for someone who flew to NYC and slept on the damn sidewalk for 2.5 days to see Hamilton?! Of course I manned the hell up. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what to wear to The Earl. I had never been there before. JC said not to wear any good shoes-it was like a fraternity house. Oh Lort! He said I should expect tattoos and nose rings and such. Tattoos? I said to him. I have five of those! I’d fit right in! I finally settled on this cute little black dress that I bought at J.Crew in Chicago. I know you are already laughing. I paired it with my leopard print cardigan. It is still hot here in Atlanta, but I wore my flat, tall, black biker boots that zip up the back. My purse has a studded strap, so I thought with that and the couple of tattoos that would be visible, I might sort of fit in-maybe. (No. Nada. Nein. Never. Not even a little bit)The Shankman’s picked us up about 8:30. I was already yawning. When we walked into The Earl, I gasped. As in for my life. JC told me it was an all smoking place-one of the few left here. I had told myself I could handle it. No asthmatic can handle it. In fact, only heavy smokers could truly handle that. Thank God I remembered my inhaler. The front part of The Earl is a restaurant and bar, and we were going to eat first, so we were seated at a booth. We seemed to be the only table having to use the iPhone flashlight to read the menu. Lauren was sitting across from me and Scott, across from JC. About 5 minutes into it, Daveed walks out into the bar. OMG. We were dying. Just me and Lauren, of course. Scott and JC were trying to talk to us and we were totally not even paying them any attention. We decided that we would not bother Daveed while he was so obviously trying to order food. I did get JC to snap a pic of him from the back. LOL. (He is standing at the bar and has on red Chuck Taylor’s) Youth Code was playing before Clipping. We decided to go in and see what they were all about. That lasted about 3 minutes. I could feel my heart beating outside of my body. We went back into the restaurant part of The Earl to wait for Clipping. The last game of the World Series was on in the bar, so that was enough entertainment for us old people. Finally, 11:00 rolled around, and it was time! I am 46 years old. My brother was a devout listener of RunDMC and Eazy-E, Boyz-N-The-Hood, NWA, all the old school Rap–or what I consider old school Rap. I saw Straight Outta Compton and it made me cry. I like to think that I know what Rap is. I knew that Clipping was Rap; HOWEVER, and this is a great, big, GIANT, however: I did not bother to check it out beforehand. Nope. Did not even listen to a single song. Not a one. So, there we all are, and there is a huge screen with nothing but static playing on it on the stage, and Daveed Diggs comes out and everyone starts screaming, and he says, “Yo! ATL, What the fuck is UP?!” and I thought to myself, this is SO not Hamilton! Right after I had that thought, I felt incredibly guilty for having it. I know Daveed Diggs does not want to be identified as “that guy from Hamilton” for the rest of his life. He was not at The Earl to perform selections from Hamilton. I knew it wasn’t going to be Hamilton. I don’t know exactly what I expected, since I never bothered to check it out before we got there!!! The show starts, and it is Rap, but it is a very eclectic style of Rap-almost as if he is rapping, well, clippings of news reels? During the first song, I did not know if I could make it for an hour. By the third song, I was developing an ear for it. By the time we got to Shooter, I was in love. Daveed would say “Shooter” into the mic and we would whisper it back to him: shooter… Just imagine me, in my little J.Crew dress, with my left hand up in the air, moving to this:
Cause he got guns and that shit gon’ bang>Yeah, the shooter brought guns and the shit go bang, hands up>Got guns in this bitch, go bang>Motherfucker better run when this shit go
This my favorite Clipping song. It is awesome. At one point, I had to go to the restroom, but I really did not want to, for fear that I might miss something. I heard a bunch of screaming, DAMN IT. I knew it! When I came out, Daveed had taken his shirt off!! Look, people, for women my age, that is hot entertainment. At one point, he came down into the audience and I was one person away and I thought to myself that I could reach out and touch him. Of course, I did not do it, as that would have been completely inappropriate. He had his shirt on again by then anyway. When he was out in the audience, people kept taking pictures of him with their flashes on! I could not believe it! They were practically blinding the poor man. The girl standing next to me did it three or four times. I really wanted to reach over and knock her phone out of her hand. I think it would have been really easy to do because she looked pretty drunk. Her big doofus husband or boyfriend had broken in front of me and was blocking my view. I took the high road and decided that they were going to feel shitty enough the next morning.
These guys are what I call intellectual rappers. Clipping is made up of William Hutson (Rale), Jonathan Snipes (Captain Ahab) , and Daveed Diggs. If the information I found online is correct, Hutson and Snipes both attended UCLA and Diggs went to Brown. Snipes is a stage sound designer. Hutson has a PhD in Theater and Performance Studies. Daveed Diggs has recently been on “Black-ish”, in addition to his Tony winning year long run as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton. Clipping’s songs are about real life, but in a way that I have never heard lyrics written before. It’s artsy and beautiful. I know you are looking at the refrain I wrote out for you above and thinking to yourself, “yeah, right, I don’t see anything artsy and beautiful about that”. I gave you that particular section so that you could imagine me in my little outfit, at that particular show. There is a difference! How about this:
Got a towel on his face, mophead>Gettin’ money in the desert, hot bread>Wish he had a way home, bread crumbs>Drink himself into a coma, red rum>Soldier’s eyes playin’ tricks, sandwich>Need to get more info, bandwith>Bunch of signs there to read, pamphlets>But that was not to be, Hamlet…..
Same song. I’m telling you, I really think Clipping is great. When it was over, JC and Scott went back into the bar of The Earl to catch some more of the ball game, since it was into extra innings. Lauren and I waited to see if Daveed was going to come out to greet his stalker fans. We were trying to play it cool-you know-as if we look like we hang out regularly at The Earl. After about 10 minutes, right when we were going to call it a night, he walked out! A line immediately formed and he was giving autographs and taking pictures. Scott and JC came back in with our Clipping LP’s we had bought earlier. I had Sharpie’s in my purse. I know to always come prepared to a show. Hell, I had tried to bring both of our Hamiltome’s, but changed my mind at the last minute. Those things are huge. Plus, The Middle Child said, “Mom, do you really want to be the creepy lady with the Hamilton tattoo and two Hamiltome’s in her purse?” The answer was HELL NO, I DID NOT. When it was my turn, I had my phone ready. I showed Daveed the picture of The Baby, dressed as him for Halloween. He cracked up and asked me if I had to make all of that. I got to tell him about me and The Middle Child going to NYC and sleeping on the sidewalk. He could not believe it. Then, after we had our photo made, I showed him my pièce de résistance….my tattoo. He emphatically exclaimed that I was: hardcore! We both laughed and I thanked him and told him how wonderful he was and is and then our little group walked back into the bar of The Earl, where we watched the ball game for another 15 minutes. On the way to the car, Lauren and I happened to glance to our right and there was Daveed and the band-loading their van. We stood there, watching them load music equipment …until JC and Scott brought us back to reality with their arm waving and yelling at us to come on-they were several hundred feet ahead of us. At the same time, we heard cheering coming from both sides of the street. The Cubs had just won the Series. We went into the closest open bar to watch the excitement on screen. We got home about 1:15am. I bolted upright when my alarm went off at 5:00am, petrified I would be late to work-knowing everyone would know where I had been, as it was chronicled on Facebook. I made it through the work day, counting the minutes until I could go home. I still felt as though I was breathing in the smoky air of The Earl. I have been sober for 14 years, so I was not hungover from drinking–only from lack of sleep and an over rush of adrenaline, which will still put a hurtin’ on me. Several times, throughout the day, I had asked myself the question: was it worth it? The answer then, and now, remains the same: HELL YES! and I would do it again! I will always remember what I was doing the night the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after 108 years: I had just met Daveed Diggs, but was actually standing in an alley watching him load his van- just like a stalker. Go figure.