Tag Archives: holidays

Crash & Burn

Heeeey.  It’s been a hot minute, huh? So much has happened.  My sweet, funny big girl turned TEN.  Lucy started preschool. MQD started a new job.   I ran a marathon.  I finally bought light fixtures for the kitchen.

And so much has stayed so very much the same.  I am still nursing and co-sleeping with Lucy.  I am falling in love with my adorable husband more every day.  I am still a mostly stay at home mom and grateful for it almost all of the time.  I am still treading water in a strange place where I am proud of my physical accomplishments and hating the body that makes them happen.

But the big Sameness… the Thing that I thought was gone and has come back and hit me in the face like a long-forgotten boomerang… Depression.  I thought for a while I was “better.”  Or maybe I thought it was seasonal. Or maybe I thought it was just Post Race Blues.  But it was still warm outside when it hit me this time.  The kids were just starting school.  MQD had just started a new job.  Life was rich and exciting and joyous and I was… numb.  Again.  And when I saw it coming like a wave and I knew that there was no chance in hell that I would be able to jump over it – well, I did the only thing I knew to do –   I held my nose and went under.  Marathon training was a nice little band-aid.  A mid-November marathon meant I had miles to run, things to do, very little time to mope.

But still the late summer wasn’t good to me.  I spoke up.  I reached out. I said it out loud. “I struggle with Depression and sometimes it drags me under.”  But I never wrote it here.  Why?  There’s no shame in my game, that’s for sure.  I just didn’t have the oomph to get it all down and play catch up.  By the time I started to feel decent enough to sit and write it seemed like “old news.”  And then I started to feel better again, normal even.  So, I was busy living.

What’s the point of all of this?  Here?  I don’t know.  I miss writing.  I miss getting it all down, the moments that slip away unless we share them.  Our minds are in a constant state of sloughing off the old memories and replacing them with new and I am afraid that if I stop writing them down that they will disappear.  But I fear even more this weird space where what I have shared here is not representative of the Time that has passed.

Because here’s the thing – Depression is terribly boring.  Mind-numbingly dull, really.  Imagine the entry I would write.  “So.  Today sucked.  Why? Mostly because of Nothing.  Everything is Fine, really, but today was super bad.  But it doesn’t matter.  Nobody is probably reading this anyway because I am so terrible and everyone hates me.”  A few of those in a row and then a Good Day just to mix things up.  “Woke up today and felt awesome.  Cleaned the entire house, mowed the grass, ran 871 miles, hugged my people and had a great dinner!  Everything is Awesome!  I did All The Things!!”

I despise this week.  The week after Thanksgiving is the worst.  Christmas season is closing in and I just want to climb into bed and stay there.  I love the holidays, I do.  But they exhaust me.  I want them to be “Perfect.”  Perfect holidays?  Ha! Are this week’s Blues a product of being overwhelmed by a To-Do list a mile long or is this the boomerang of Depression that never really leaves me but just takes temporary leave? The truth is, I am not sure.

I am tremendously sad that the marathon is behind me. It gave me a focus.  A wise friend once shouted to some runners “You can’t run from your problems!” but I beg to differ.  When your problems are just chemicals in your brain you can certainly do a decent job of waging war against them with some exercise endorphins.  A new training plan and a fitness goal for 2016 will help to keep the Sad at bay, I am sure.

I reached out to another wise friend (I am surrounded by smart, good people, another reason why being Depressed is so Stupid!) just to mention that it was an uphill battle to stay out of bed this week.  I pointed out that being a stay at home mother and a Depressive is like trying to get sober in a bar.  When all I want out of a day is to get dressed and stay out of my bed – the stay at home part of this gig is tough.  But I am going to keep on keeping on.

I miss you guys.  The last six months have been terrible and wonderful all at once.  There has been so much more wonderful than terrible and for that I am grateful.  I am going to try to write again soon. I think that my heart needs it.  But for today I just wanted to say hello.  And I wanted to remind you that if you suffer from Depression or know someone who does – the holidays are hard.  Reach out.  Get help.  You’re worth it.  And you’re not alone. 11219421_10153755947064819_9141546464765793859_n


Home for the Holidays

You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory. ~Thomas Wolfe

I am the adult child of a divorce.  (Is anyone ever the adult child of something great?  People are adult children of alcoholics and divorce and of narcissists according to Google but it seems there are no adult children of the well adjusted?)

Unlike many of my peers that struggled with a divorce as a young kid,  my family shifted after I was old enough to have already left the house.  I was in my early twenties when I was smacked in the face with the reality that my parents were their own people and perhaps their function in this life was not to wait by the front door to welcome me home bi-monthly.  There were growing pains and tears and eventually there were new family structures.

When my father sold the house I grew up in (affectionately dubbed the “free storage facility”) it was official.  I could no longer “go home again.” Boxes of notes from middle school, old prom dresses and family pictures were distributed to their rightful owners and it was over.  I drive by the “old house” sometimes and it feels weird.  My life was in that house.  My family.

Fast forward fifteenish years and here I am in a house with my own family.  A husband, two kids and a dog and a Christmas tree.  One would think I would no longer lament that original loss. But in the darkest hours, in the moments I am  flopped on my bed with over-tired, red swollen eyes and feel like I need a good cry I often say “I just wish I could go home.  To my mom and dad.”

1504079_10201924620548844_1484615996_nThat is what being an adult child is, I guess.  Instead of “I want my Mommy & Daddy!” the “adult” child laments the loss of their childhood in some way or another.  The “well-adjusted” adult child dries their eyes and doesn’t use the pain of being an adult anything as an excuse to be an asshole. Or at least that is what I aim for in my pursuit of being well-adjusted.  Try not to be an asshole.  I have lofty goals.

A few weeks ago I had a very emotional round of phone calls that resulted in an opportunity to go home again.  Thomas Wolfe says you can’t go “back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting” but when you realize that you will be having Christmas morning in your home with both your mother and your father for the first time in a long time and you never, ever thought you’d have that again… well, you get a little verklempt.

keep austin weird

I spent a few days trying to wrap my mind around it.

I mentioned to a friend that I don’t know how to process things I can’t write about.  The circumstances aren’t my story to tell.  I do my best to be respectful of my friends and family and find a balance between my compulsion to share my story with the world and the privacy of those that don’t. It’s a shame really because I had a great working title to the blog post – “The Christmas That Was Just Like Austin.”

I thought it would be weird.  I thought it might be sad and nostalgic and tense and wonderful. I thought I might go all Hayley Mills in Parent Trap only with wine instead of a twin sister as my devious counterpart.  But mostly I thought it would be weird.

I am sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee this morning and I have no house guests. The Christmas tree has been taken down, the gifts have been relocated to their proper locations. Both of my parents have returned to their respective houses.

I can’t find the words.  This week we will all crawl out of our holiday holes and someone will casually asks me “How was your Christmas?”  I suspect my eyes will well with tears and I will say simply “It was great.  We stayed home.”



The JR

Everyone has had that job.  The job that they took that was only going to last a little while.  It was an “in-between jobs” job.

I hated buying more than one uniform shirt because I wasn’t going to be there very long.  Sometimes I wore a long grey skirt instead of black pants.  And a plain black long sleeve tshirt instead of a Jolly Roger shirt when I was tending bar.  Because rebelling is not my strong suit but dammit, I hated that uniform.

I had never had sidework like that before.  Two hotel sheet trays of tiny solo cups of horseradish.  Four of coleslaw.  Make sure you are prepped to make at least 100 Bloody Marys. On Sunday.  At lunch.

Sell all the soup you can, but don’t eat it.  Eat things you see being made.  Made to order. Fried eggs.  Not scrambled.  Don’t ask about what you saw in the walk in.  It is a strawberry.  Even though it looks like a grey furry mouse.  It is a strawberry and it is someone’s idea of a science experiment.

Never, ever run out of cigarettes.  The other waiters, career waiters that have been at this since you were in elementary school and will still be at it when you are long gone, they are not likely to strike up a conversation with you unless you catch them on a smoke break. Get someone in the kitchen stoned.  Just once.  So they know you are not stuck up.

Figure out how the hostess station works.  Because that is where the money is made.  Coffee and $1.99 breakfast and a two-top of surfers.  They are cute.  But it won’t pay the bills. Suck it up and hope you get the family with the screaming kids and that they didn’t see the big sign that explains you can eat a LOT for almost free.  Write down their order.  Because it doesn’t impress anyone that you don’t have to.  And later when a customer tells you that they ordered wheat toast and sunny side up eggs even though that is total bullshit and they may have said that in their minds because what they actually said was French Toast and scrambled, you will have it written down.

Be nice to the people that everyone knows.  They have been eating here for a decade.  The man that eats breakfast at the bar all of the time, he knows where the sour mix is when you run out.  Go ahead and snicker and say “I bet you do” when the creepy guy say he likes his eggs “Over Easy.” But do not serve him a Budweiser with a Jack back at 11:57 am on a Sunday.  Drop a tray of six dinners.  But do not lose a credit card slip.

Don’t look too closely at the Christmas ornaments that hang from every surface in the entire restaurant.  You will begin to wonder when was the last time they were dusted.  And these thoughts of cleanliness will linger.  And drive you crazy. Put your tray jack back exactly where you got it from.  And never set an empty pitcher of iced tea down.

Learn to wash your own bar glasses.  Quickly.  You will run out if you send them to the dish pit.  Get your own ice.  And then get two extra buckets.  Everyone is slammed, not just you.  But it will be over soon enough.

Do not stay for late night drinks.  Do not ever sing karaoke.  Don’t ask any questions about Alan Ross’ Traveling Karaoke Road Show.  Specifically how it is that it is traveling if it is here every single night.  Do not breath an ill word to Carol Ann.  Don’t bother making a request for a specific day off.  Schedules were made this summer for Christmas.  You are working someone’s shifts that quit.  It is assumed that you will quit before the next summer.

I walked out of every shift wondering if I was going to get fired.  With more money than I thought I had made.  This is what I learned there.

I worked Christmas  at the Jolly Roger.  And all I got was this lousy ornament.


Our nation’s bicentennial.  A gallon of gas was 59 cents.  Taxi Driver was a hit at the box office.  The Muppet Show was on television.  The Eagles released Hotel California.  You’d have had to wait in line to get a Stretch Armstrong that Christmas.  Nadia Comăneci scored the first perfect “10” in the Olympic games.

And I was born.

There is an unwritten law that states that when a child is born in to a family you must have a Christmas ornament to commemorate their arrival.  And this is mine.

I don’t know that you can buy an ornament like this anymore.  At one time you could get a whole box of balls that were decorated with shiny polyester feeling filaments.  This is one of those, shrink wrapped with an image of a baby and the year of my birth.


I bought my first album at Waxie Maxie’s in Springfield.  KC & The Sunshine Band.  I rode a Big Wheel with a hand brake.  And I did it without a helmet.

I wanted to marry Tom Selleck . And have the Solid Gold dancers as my bridesmaids.

I didn’t mind black and white tv shows because one of the tvs in our house was black and white anyway.  I Love Lucy was the funniest show and it was on every morning.  The Love Boat seemed very risque to me, with all those unmarried, beautiful people vacationing together.  I wasn’t sure if I liked Chrissy or Janet better.  Chrissy had better clothes, but Janet was smarter.

I will never forget the episode of “Real People” where Sarah Purcell interviewed the woman with Lobster Claw Syndrome.  For years one whole side of my basement smelled like Strawberry Shortcake.  I made mixed tapes with songs I taped off the radio.

When I was very little I was afraid of Libya,  an economic recession and my father’s unemployment.  I knew that groceries were cheaper at Shopper’s Food Warehouse, because they didn’t give you any bags.  I have waited more than an hour at a video store to get a new release on VHS.

Pantyhose came in a plastic egg and the underwear section of a magazine was embarrassing.  I wanted to smell like Prell shampoo and Love’s Baby Soft and wear my dad’s old fraternity baseball jerseys.

I thought Parkay was fancy.  Sodas were for grownups. Fruit roll ups were for special treats and fast food restaurants gave out tiny orange juice glasses that were going to be collector’s items.  Everybody’s thermos smelled weird and their milk was lukewarm, but no one ever got sick.  I never met a kid with an allergy.

Because I was born in 1976.

Simply Red

Cherries in the Snow.  Raven Red.  Cha Cha Cherry.  Really Red.  Love that Red. Fire and Ice.  Ravish Me Red.

I was not always faithful to a single shade.  But I was a Revlon red lipstick girl for a long, long time.

In high school it was a look  I dabbled with.  There was a Degenerate Art exhibit at the National Gallery in the early 90’s.  I had the tshirt.  It was black.  It said simply DEGENERATE ART.  And I had new black cowboy boots.  Red lipstick completed the look.  It goes without saying that I wish I still had that shirt.

Cowboy boots were eventually  traded for Chuck Taylor’s and overalls, the red lips came and went.

In college I was the girl that didn’t wear shoes very often. I still wore Osh Kosh overalls almost every day.  But low maintenance I was not.

I fell in love with two things early in my college career.  Getting a wee bit baked and acrylic nails.  The hours I spent watching syndicated Beverly Hills 90210 on the WB (the only channel one could get in the dorms without cable) and sculpting the perfect red fingernail out of acrylic were  immeasurable.

To any and all concerned about the effects marijuana can have on a young mind I assure you the acrylic I inhaled in my dorm room did more damage.  Red lips completed the look.  Perfect red nails.  Red lipstick.  Overalls that haven’t been washed in who knows how long.  I was ready to go.

The latter half of my college career had me on my way to or from dinner theatre more often than not.  My “casual attire” moved from overalls to Ben & Jerry’s tshirts, tie dyes and pajama pants.

But the red lips remained.  In large part because the cold cream required to remove the make up I had spackled on for the evening was too time consuming.  And if you have a good reason to sport a painted on mole all night I have always been one to encourage you to go for it.

Bonus points for pearls and a red pageboy wig.

In summary, red lipstick and I go way back.

Red lipstick.  You can open a fashion magazine from nearly any decade and see at least one of the models wearing it.  It is timeless.  Classic.  But it’s only half of the equation.

Red lips without a pout?  You might as well be half dressed.  Ever since I was a little girl my mother has remarked upon my cupid’s bow lips.  (And my heart shaped butt, but that is a post for another day.  One perhaps not so rich with images.)  The first piece of art in her now vast art collection was a Tarkay.  She remarked then that the red pouty lips on all of the women in his paintings remind her of me.

I’d like to think I’ve not lost my pout.  Every girl ought to keep that skill in her back pocket.  But somewhere in the last decade the red lipstick started fading.  Traded in for chapstick with sunblock.  This weekend the red lipstick made a mini comeback.  Just for the day. But a gal can not wear a red feather headband with chapstick.  It was a no-brainer.

Every year when I hang this Patience Brewster ornament I will let it serve as a reminder.  Red lipstick is a bright idea.  Merry Christmas, Red Lipstick.  You have never let me down.