Salt: Redux

below follows a not at all original blog post, edited for some cringey stuff I said on my first attempt at blogging. Mom loved this piece- thought it was hilarious that this stuck with me as it did. Much to her chagrin, I’m sure, I’ve become a generous salter while cooking. But I still taste before salting  when I eat.

Wonder what she’d say about my recent work.  She always was my best editor.


Cody and I were having a day-date today. Since we went to the ball last night, he got the day off today. We decided we’d brunch, and then see a movie.(We ended up seeing Easy A–SO funny!)

Well, Mr so happens to be a HUGE Ihop fan, so we head there. I get the 2 eggs breakfast, fit version. IT’s wheat toast, egg substitute, TURKEY bacon, and fresh fruit. About halfway through…I decide to get crazy.

 

I’m going to put SALT on my eggs.

 

Here’s the deal– As I was growing up, I remember my mom venting to us kids about my Dad’s salt habits. Mom cooks with spices, and everything tasted great! Dad just always added salt. I’m pretty sure that if my Mom ever had anything resembling a “NO WIRE HANGERS” moment, it was regarding salt and my Dad’s use of it.

 

Now, somwhere in that mental conditioning, I guess I just got it in my head that salt=bad. My mom salts her eggs, and things that don’t already have a lot of seasoning in them…but hearing her vent about that so much made me salt-avoidant, unless it was an ingredient.

So back to today. I tried salt on my eggs… I don’t know what made me get so wild and crazy, but it had to be done. Now, I’m hooked. Eggs taste even BETTER with salt. Who knew?! (Everyone but me, duh)

 

Mom, I promise I still taste before I add it!

xoxo

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Zag on Grief

Spring 2016, during a trip to Düsseldorf my husband introduced me to The Adventure Zone. The Adventure Zone is a podcast of 3 brothers and their dad playing d&d,and started as a goof in late 2014. He started me off with the Murder on the Rockport Limited story and I was hooked.

I was way behind but we listened a lot on road trips over the holidays. When we got the call to turn around and come say goodbye to my mom, we were listening to the introductory episode of The Suffering game. I worried that I was ruining the show for myself and that I’d forever associate it with this, but I couldn’t do silence for hours and I didn’t know what else to do. This arc was dark. It was exactly what it said it was… pain and suffering upon pain and suffering. It was darker than what I was living, which felt pretty damn dark. I kept listening. Their ability to find humor in these very serious moments pushed me forward.

They got through the game (mostly) in tact. They started gearing up for the finale. They filled in the gaps in the story and I honestly thought it couldn’t get better. There is a piece I have as my Facebook cover photo where Griffin, the DM, talks about goodbyes that killed me- for those who listen it’s no surprise that the goodbye I thought of was abrupt and unfair.

Yesterday, the finale happened. And boy do I have feelings. Everything wraps up beautifully, and you get to see the characters truly happy. My favorite character, Magnus, gets a beautiful ending. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but… oh man. Poor Cody probably thought I was nuts. I was randomly crying at random points just thinking of it the rest of the night. Magnus changed so much over the three years that they’ve played and the details and nuance in the end is phenomenal-particularly what happens after it seems to be the end.

I want you to understand something. When I was thinking about a piece of media or art that had a huge impact on my grief, my initial thought was Hamilton. And yes, the songs ricochet in my brain and give words to some of my feelings, but it’s no where near the therapy that these boys and their dad-who belong to this same awful club as me- have provided. It’s the ultimate Zag. It’s not just The Adventure Zone, their other podcasts have been little pockets to escape into, whether it is MBMBAM,Sawbones, or The Kind Rewind.

Most importantly, to see something as beautiful as this finale come out of something as dark as the Suffering Game reminds me that the dark parts eventually give way to light. That when the time is right you can rush in, cast Zone of truth, and make some baller cookies. You remember that you are going to fight- and you are going to win- and that you are going to be amazing.

I don’t really twitter, but #greatjobDMGriffin and thank you to the McElroys for sharing your family with us.

I am

When you call me beautiful, I still see the me with no confidence, coke bottle glasses, and braces.
When you call me smart all I can think of is that F I got in math.
When you tell me I’m loving, I’m forced to confront the times where I’ve been everything but.
When you say I’m strong all I see is all the times I’ve given up, too weak to finish the race.
I see people wanting to “see themselves the way others do” but I don’t even want that. I want my thick glasses, math deficient, mean, puny self. That part of me exists and to pretend it doesn’t is an exercise in futility. It makes me flat- and I’m a multi dimensional fully realized creation (props if you get the reference).

Jessica A Mace ( nee Levey) is strong and emotional. She is hypersensitive and frequently “checks out” to scroll fb or insta on her phone. She sucks at any math that doesn’t have a dollar sign in front of it, and even that is iffy at best. She is beautiful and awkward and still figuring it out. She is drowning her grief with kitchen prowess and delivering several big ol middle fingers to diet culture. She plays tabletop role playing games and needs to update her wardrobe. She loves makeup but doesn’t know what she’s doing. She hates selling things. She dances and sings and patiently waits for football season each year. She is saved by Amazing Grace and knows to just keep swimming. She is learning, and she is trying. She wants to be remembered for having loved. And for her cooking skills. But mostly that love thing.

Unpretty Authenticity

I’ve committed myself to authenticity this year, for some unknown reason. For the most part it’s been relatively easy- I don’t hide all too much to begin with. But every now and again I have to stop myself and ask why I am/am not sharing something… and it’s a two parter.

Part A: If people see the “real” me and the “real” things I deal with they will not like me. They will think I am crying for attention and that I am making things up. They don’t really want to hear it.

Part B: To paraphrase Glennon Doyle- people love a mess.

Back to A later, but in regards to B I think about this a lot on my good days. The mess of my life is easy to relate to or find humor in. I think most people with two-year-olds would tell you that you’ll laugh ’til you cry and back again. People find a messy house or a crazy day relatable very easily. But on my days when I have it together, or the area(s) of life where I excel, it’s hard for me to post it. I don’t want to make other people feel bad. I don’t want to brag. If I post too much about how I love my husband then the rumor mill starts that we have something to hide. Because of course only insecure people post about their relationship on Facebook. (Hang on, gotta put my eyes back in my head; they rolled out and across the floor). So I can’t post when I’m killing it.

Back to part A- there’s also an acceptable level of mess. It’s cool to post about how I said screw it and went to McDonald’s. It’s not cool to say that I got so frustrated with myself after I yelled at Levi that I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. It’s not cool, as a Christ follower, to say that I feel abandoned and that God has gone quiet. That I have cried and screamed and been left wanting. And then the enemy comes in and tells me that no one cares. That yeah, people like you… but not that much. You are unpretty. Inside and out. You can’t share everything because then you are no longer a good example, a good friend, a good mom, a good wife, a good Christian. And even worse: if you do share? No one will care.

So this is my Unpretty Authenticity. I will never miss a chance to quote TLC.. but more importantly from Dear Evan Hansen…

You (and I) will be found.

Saved by YouTube

Today was going too well. We were happy, there weren’t any accidents, no fight on coming in from outside time.

Before I go further you need to know a few things.
A. Levi had unplugged JB’s invisible fence and I haven’t fixed it yet.
B. as a result of that, I have to go outside with her.
C. Levi is a jerk when he naps and thinks he’s hilarious.
D.  I don’t have pants on. Or shoes.

So, dinner time is wrapping up and I’m mentally patting myself on the back for all I did today. JB whines to go out- I say no. Levi has locked me out before and I don’t want to deal with that. She keeps whining and so I agree- Levi is mostly distracted by Daniel Tiger anyways.

JB finishes her business, I turn to go pull the door open and

*click*

Fuck.

I’m locked out.

This is not the first time this has happened, so I start to do the usual begging. Doesn’t work. He runs away. I try banging the door to get his attention and…. nope. He runs to the other part of the house. I try to pull the door anyways- nope. I call my dad in a panic and he calmly works through the options through. Police as a last resort- cause CPS. I decide to walk to the front of the house to see if I can get his attention-you’re welcome, neighbors who got to see my booty in all its glory- and OF COURSE on the way up I step in dog poop. He comes to the front door and keeps thinking this is funny. I hang up with dad and call the locksmith, dejected. This is a chip off the old snowball. I walk back around (avoiding the poop this time), and sit. Through all of this, Gideon is watching and screaming from his high chair. He’s basically at the limo noodle stage of freak out.   Levi comes back to the door and it hits me:

Where is that stupid YouTube video?!

I find it (linked below), start playing it with my phone pressed against the door. This is what motivates him to unlock it and let me in.
Not me crying and freaking out.
Soccer balls revealing colors.

Good talk son. I’ll remember this for when your future hypothetical children do something like this.

Screen time is a tool. A necessary tool that got me back in my house tonight.

Jesus be a shot of bourbon,
Jess

All I Am Is…

 

In the musical Working there is a song called “Just a Housewife”. I’ve been feeling this recently. My shuffle mode keeps coming back to one line: “I don’t mean to complain at all but they make you feel like you’re two feet tall when you’re just a wife”. The rest of the song gets a little shamey of those working outside the home, but this line still resonates. Listen to the song here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=73O3o6B5rLs

I am an introvert’s introvert. I don’t love meeting new people, especially as an adult. Now there’s always the dreaded “So what do you do?”I feel a need to give the whole story here- “oh I’m a stay at home mom. We moved here when I was 8 months pregnant so I couldn’t work right away. “As if these people actually really care about how we arrived at this decision.

Now I know what you’re thinking. This is where she tells us that either a) we are our own worst critics and we need to accept our flaws or b) that love really was the answer all along.

There’s always a 3rd option- the first two things are true, but also c) life is a garden and each season calls for something different.

For as much as I am a semi-creative type, I am a logical person. I like facts and figures and performance reviews. When I worked I was rated on a scale, and I used these numbers to motivate or celebrate as needed. The facts and figures of being a stay at home mom are rarely on my side. You could call my toddler a lot of things. Spirited. Determined. Willful. He rarely listens and is testing his boundaries. My evaluations come with figures like “potty accidents”, “head butts received”, or “amount of times either party says no”. Some days it’s “kisses given” or “tears soothed”. This isn’t some place begging for you to tell me I’m doing a good job, though that is always appreciated. This is simply life with a “spirited” 2 year old

When I’m saying I’m a stay at home mom, I feel like I need to be a perfect one. I need to have my and my kids’ crap together. It feels like because I am a stay at home mom who is not mainstream fit with a perfectly clean house and perfectly behaved and styled children, I am being seen as less than.

All of this anguish and the people asking “what do you do?” Are just trying to make conversation.

I miss contributing to my family financially. I miss the clear rubric to success. At the same time, I know without a doubt that I am where God needs me to be right now. I am learning to bloom where I am planted. I am learning to keep my eyes on my own garden and embrace my stay at home mom flower. It’s the prettiest one I can see right now.

Define Motherless.

With Mother’s Day approaching, every blogger is publishing their take on “for those hurting…” and still a few others claiming that those posts are unfair to mothers. I’m a speed reader and choose to skim to my part- for those who have lost their mom. They call me Motherless.

That stuck with me for awhile- Motherless. See, I think there are people who fit that situation.

Motherless is the daughter who cut off a toxic or abusive mother.

Motherless is the child who takes on that role for themselves and those around them at a young age.

I am not Motherless.

I got 29 amazing years with my mom. Were it my choice I would have gotten 29+ more. 29 sometimes doesn’t feel like enough- but her memory never leaves new. Her advice still rings in my ears- I still hear her singing when I go on shuffle mode.  Thanks to that, I am never Motherless.

As a woman who has recently lost her mom, let me tell you this: you don’t have to love your mom just because mine is dead. You don’t need to hug her “because at least you can”.  That’s a real low cost of admission, and you are worth so much more.

There will not be a day when someone will ask me if I wish my momma was still around and I will say no. I will forever wish that I was here today telling a story of earthly healing, or that we had gotten more time. The beautiful thing for me is that because I know my mom in Jesus, I never said goodbye. I said see you later.

I am not Motherless.

 

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