I’m not musical.ly

“Mom! Let’s make a musical.ly.”
“Okay. What do I do?”
“You lip sync this part whenever it comes up. It’s super easy. Anyone can do it.”
< - three minutes later ->
“That’s… you… ummm… I think I’ll keep this one on private. Do you want to do another?”
“Not after that reaction.”
“Here we go. Try not make bug eyes this time. You’re supposed to look cool.”
< - three minutes later ->
< - whispers -> “Wow.” < - /whispers ->
“I’m gonna delete the second one and use the first one. You don’t hafta make any more videos.”

today’s excuse

Today was overscheduled, with children’s activities overlapping. I needed to get dressed and get out the door quickly this morning. As I sat down to dry my hair, I ran out of my styling product. Specifically, it got so low that nothing would squirt out the pump dispenser. As I always do with shampoo, dish soap and similar products, I unscrewed the cap, removed the dispensing mechanism and turned the bottle upside down to collect whatever remained on the sides and bottom of the container. This is the point where the husband helpfully asked why I didn’t go buy a replacement styling creme. “I already have a fresh one under the bathroom sink. I’m not wasting all the product still in the bottle just because it’s too low for the pump to work.”

In one glorp, a glob of hair product piled on my freshly washed hair. I tried to spread it out evenly in my hair and cranked up the hair dryer. I dried my hair. I dried my hair longer. I dried my hair for twice the usual time and I STILL had one moist, shiny section of hair. Running ridiculously late, I gave up and decided to let the overly producted hair dry on its own.

More than twelve hours, one unexpected early school day closure, a cancelled band performance and assorted drama later, I have a shiny, damp section of hair on the back of my head. I think tomorrow is a good day to wear a bandana or hat all day. No clown wigs, though. Clowning is an arrestable offense these days.


The oldest child takes routines, rituals and tradition to heart. He never misses a visit to the county fair. This year, we didn’t have the free passes that made the fair slightly less expensive, so I thought he might opt out of going. I was wrong. He needed that fair visit. I dropped him off with a younger sibling and many hours later, they were brought home, sticky from sugary treats and loaded with fair treasures. He gave me a bag of giant chunks of bath salts.

“Thank you. Did the seller give you directions?”
“You put them in your bath.”
“How much? While the water is running? Hot water?”
“I don’t know. Look it up.”

My face may be perpetually stuck in a tech device, but there is no way I am googling bath salts. If I wanted to see pictures of cannibalism, I would watch gore movies and they are at the top of my list of movies to avoid. I’ll experimentally throw a chunk of salt under the hot faucet and see what happens. Now, everyone can legitimately call me salty.

what to wear

Did I interact with other adults like a normal human being yesterday or did I spend the entire day sitting in carpool lines and shuttling children to/from activities?

If mom taxi solitude, then wear yesterday’s outfit again. Of course, if yesterday’s outfit was the only thing that kept my sweat soaked back from sticking to the car seats, then the outfit went directly to the laundry hamper and can’t be worn again. I’m lazy, not gross.

sum of the parts

“Wait. Is Granny sticking her hand in a dryer fire when you were little the reason you nag everyone so much about cleaning the dryer vents?”
“I am everything that has happened in my past plus generations of genetic memory.”
“Does that mean yes?”

dairy farmers love us

If you are lactose intolerant, don’t stand anywhere near our refrigerator. We’ve got mozzarella, swiss, colby, sour cream, cheddar, cream cheese, sour cream, whipped cream cheese, flavored cream cheese, sour cream and whatever pretend cheese is used for cheese sticks. Did I mention sour cream? There are three containers of sour cream. There were more, but we’ve taken to ‘accidentally’ leaving them at people’s houses when we visit.

When I buy groceries, there are a few items that I consider staples which need to be purchased every shopping trip. Bread, eggs, coffee and cereal were the original must buys. If I skipped buying the staples during the main grocery visit, I would end up making a special trip to the grocery for them. Somewhere along the way, sour cream was mentally added after I realized that it is always needed for the weekly menu. As the sour cream section of the fridge became increasingly comical, it occurred to me that needing sour cream every week does not mean needing a full container of it weekly. Despite realizing this, if I am alone in the grocery, I operate on some kind of auto-pilot and sour cream jumps into my cart.

It could be worse. When Doug buys groceries, he automatically grabs a bag of carrots that sit in the fridge drawer and turn to liquid.

Be a voting helper, not a hindrance

I guess we’re going to have Poll Watchers and Monitors this November. What a waste of time and energy.

I have taken my children to the polls since they were babies. They have all watched me spin the dial. They have all taken a turn pushing the big button at the end of the ballot. We frequently see the same poll workers. We always see our neighbors and the parents of our children’s classmates. Standing in line to vote, strangers talk sports, food and weather. My oldest child worked the polls for a few years when he was fresh out of high school. The workers giggled when I snuck a picture of my child working his very first job. Polling places are the calmest, friendliest atmosphere imaginable after campaigns of all manner of ridiculousness. I say places instead of place because I invariably end up dropping off or picking up children from school activities at polling places other than my own. I frequently drive people to polls that are not in my neighborhood. I fear no precinct here. I trust the dedication of all the poll workers. They are our community members.

How are all these Watchers and Monitors going to help? It won’t help to question someone’s citizenship based on their appearance. That is confirmed via photo ID and the giant notebooks of that precinct’s eligible voters. It won’t help to ask people to tell you who they voted for because that is none of your beeswax. In fact, I will use a colorful metaphor that asks you to do something specific to yourself if you ask me about my voting choices. Stomping around with guns on your hips and backs won’t help and will get you arrested for intimidation.

The only problem I have ever seen at our polling places is broken voting machines. I guess you could stand watch for broken machines and call them in for repairs, but since the polling place is full of workers trained to handle this, you’ll only succeed in tying up the lines to the Election Commission and slowing down response time.

Okay, sometimes they don’t have “I voted” stickers. Order more stickers, Election Commissions. When there aren’t stickers, I have to write “I voted” on my hand in Sharpie. Do you know how hard that is to wash off skin?

Do you want to be a voting helper instead of a hindrance? Make sure your family and friends are registered to vote. Drive people to the DMV to make sure they have a valid photo ID with correct residency information on it. Drive people to the polls. While at the polls, be kind to your fellow human beings.

My paternal grandmother’s proudest accomplishment in her small town Tennessee Republican Women’s Club was getting the deceased voters off the voting registries. Not because they thought that those dead people were voting, but to make voting faster and easier. Use some common sense. Make things better, not worse.

like being haunted

Every time I sit down to blog something, whatever I try writing ends up involving my dead father. I’ve tried ignoring it. I’ve tried composing things solely in my head to see if it releases the memories into a magical void. It’s all still there. Maybe I need to vomit a billion words about it and see if that sets me free. I don’t know.

I wanted to post about how emotionally unhealthy the mandatory insurance “health coaches” are when being ‘happy in the skin you are in’ is contrary to their spiel. But my most recent coaching call began with the person who is not a Doctor reading my medical records and asking if I wanted to discuss my grieving process. Even though I clearly said no, they proceeded to quiz me about what I am doing to get over it. By the time the call ended, I was a complete wreck. How is that healthy? How can I blog about it without mentioning my father?

I am allowed to be sad. I’m still a functional member of society. If anything, I’m MORE active and involved than I was before my father left us. It is not possible to stand watch as someone who is an integral part of who you are turns blue, then white and not be changed forever by it. I’ve seen death before. I remember the teenager hanging in his garage as the firemen cut him down. I stood with other bystanders waiting for someone to react to the mangled remains of the motorcyclist. I grew up going to small town, open casket funerals. This… this was different. Even though two of my father’s Doctor friends who somehow talked the ICU nurses into letting them see his medical records assured us that my father was already gone, it still feels like we killed him. We unplugged his body. We DID do that.

My father knew it was coming. He was never afraid. He was sad. He was worried. Every Wednesday, he spent the day on my recliner talking about things and increasingly the conversations became about his death. When my mother said she missed having a dog since her Corgi died many months earlier, my father sat in my living room and talked about his concern that a dog would outlive both of them. I washed dishes and nodded as he talked. He rapidly decided that my mother needed a dog to be there for him when he left. In a cruel twist of fate, the dog fell in love with my father and grieved him in a way I have never seen in an animal.

Our conversations frequently involved politics. They were frustrating and my father sometimes delighted in vexing me with something he read on one of the sites that I refuse to take seriously. Our very last conversation started with him asking me how I felt about a local politician. The conversation haunts me for some reason. Maybe because we both agreed that the politician was good at his job because he became an elected official who went to every meeting in his community and actually listened to people instead of towing a party line and rudely insulting constituents with a different party on their voting records. Probably because it was our final talk. Ever. There’s a part of me who really needs to thank that politician for being something my father and I could politically agree on, but another part of me thinks it would frighten that poor man to watch me cry.

As a child of community volunteers, I volunteer for two initial orgs. One of them keeps requiring me to be in a building that my father was passionate about saving from the ravages of time. It’s not the building that the rest of Knoxville is attached to saving. “That building is going to cost a fortune if they keep it or rebuild it, so I have no opinion either way.” My father cared about an underappreciated building that was at risk of the fake bricks falling off in a giant sheet. It was the facility that my gun in a holster on his waist father broke ranks from his fellow party members and defended the “liberal Mayor’s” stance on in a public letter. Every time I get near that building, I cry. It’s just a building, but it’s a tangled mess of memories to me. I’m going there tomorrow. I will keep going there to channel those feelings into something purposeful.

I see the anniversary of his death approaching in 2017 and I know that the right thing to do is seize that day and live every minute of it, but I still don’t know how we are going to make it thru Christmas with his ghost everywhere, all the time.

I’m trying. I just wish he would spend a little less time haunting me and a little more time at Neyland Stadium watching football.