I gave up smoking two weeks ago.  I’m feeling very dramatic about it.  I have smoked for about twenty years.  It has been a very painful process to say goodbye.  

I have always known that cigarettes are deadly.  Curiosity and a need to rebel introduced me to smoking and I quickly fell in love with the way smoking made me feel.  Cigarettes were my mother, they soothed me.  They were my friend, they listened to me.  They were my constant companion for two decades.  Filling my lungs with smoke was a way for me to feel human, to be aware of my own expiration date.  

Smoking was like every guy I have ever walked away from.  I loved him.  But he was hurting me.   I didn’t want to, but I had to let him go.  I will mourn the loss of this habit for a while.  And then, just like everything else, I will move on from the grasp of it’s chains.  I will be free.  I just have to breathe through it.


Eclipse Trips

My daughters and I decided to drive 539 miles to see the eclipse in totality.  It was a trip that I really couldn’t afford, but I couldn’t really afford not to see it either.  

My girls and I make a point to go out and see every full moon.  It’s our thing.   When we were living with my ex boyfriend on the prairie, the full moon was our saving grace.  We would gather out under the willow tree and stare in amazement at the beautiful clear sky.  And we would talk.  It was beautiful.  You could see the Milky Way so clearly out there.  But the full moon in that setting was a sacred sight.  It became our little tradition and we have kept it up even now that we live amongst trees.  We just drive around the prairie to see it.  This tradition is what I named this blog after.  Our ‘little moon talks’ were one of a few good things that came from the experience of moving my kids into a man’s home who had no intention of loving us or being a part of our family.  Ironically, my little family grew a lot closer because of that experience.  Those talks were the needle and thread, that stitched together the fabric of our bond.  

So this once in a lifetime eclipse was non-negotiable.  We had to see it in all of it’s glory.  On Sunday afternoon, we got in the car and started driving south.  It’s kind of scary to venture out on a big road trip as a single mom.  I grew up with a very safety conscious dad who used terrorism as a means to educate me about the world.  So my mind was repeatedly going through every possible disaster as I drove my old crappy car down the highway.

I had booked a hotel in a small town just a few hours from the eclipse destination.  I had googled the town and it looked adorable from the pictures.  We had our swimsuits packed and ready because this Southern Indiana hotel offered such amenities as an outdoor pool and continental breakfast!  It was a name brand hotel, so I figured we were safe.  Besides…I saw some pictures online and it looked cute! 

When we arrived to the hotel, a twelve year old boy took my credit card payment and advised that our room was around the corner from the office.  We drove around the building and my heart dropped.  The pool was full of trees.  Of the two cars in the parking lot, one of them was covered with bungee cords, duct tape, and spray paint.  I had the terrifying feeling that we would end up much the same way had we actually stayed there.  There were sketchy people inside one of the rooms, peaking out from the curtain, probably sizing up my children for human trafficking purposes.  We didn’t even go inside.  We went back to the office and asked for a refund, to which the twelve year old host acted as if he hands out refunds all day long.  I’m sure he does.  Unfortunately, he ended up charging my card again before issuing a double refund.

I panicked.  I was about 6 hours away from home.  I had very little money to work with, and the refund was going to take five days to process.  We drove around until we found another hotel that looked a little bit better from the outside.  When we walked in, an older gentleman with stained up sweatpants and a ripped up tshirt ignored us for a moment before looking up and offering a room for $68.00.  I didn’t see any other options, so we booked it.  This hotel smelled like burning garbage.  I’m not sure what a meth lab smells like, because I have never smelled one before, but I’m sure there were at least a few of them operating in that hotel.  We locked our door and I laid our own blankets on top of the bed.  I tried to remain calm, but inside I was panicking.  I couldn’t stand the smell, it was unlike anything I had ever smelled before.  

I posted my situation on Facebook, partly because I wanted people to know where we were in case we came up missing.  And partly because I thought my eight year old daughter nailed the situation when she said that hotel was straight out of the television show ‘My Name Is Earl.’  

I was ecstatic when my childhood best friend who I haven’t seen in more than a decade responded saying that she only lived 45 minutes from our hotel and to come over because she had spare bedrooms ready for us.  I had tears in my eyes from the relief I felt after hearing from her.  I didn’t even know she was living in Southern Indiana.  We gathered our belongings and b-lined out of that disgusting mess.  This time, a refund was refused.

It was surreal, arriving to my old friend’s house in the middle of the night.  Her house was beautiful and she had two safe, clean bedrooms ready for us.  I was so thankful.  I was also excited that my girls got to meet her.  The last time I saw her was at my baby shower when I was pregnant with my fourteen year old.  

In the morning, we headed out early.  We took all the back roads through rural Kentucky.  We drove through the mountains and down curvy roads that wound around through mountains and rivers.  We saw endless horse pastures and golden yellow tobacco fields and homes that should be in magazines.  We listened to good music and had conversations about the meaning behind their lyrics.  It was a glorious day.

When the eclipse came, we were in the parking lot of a high school in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  We had our glasses ready and spread a blanket out in the shade of some pine trees.  It was so cool to watch the sun disappear.  When the moon had covered the sun completely, and darkness fell into the daytime, and the birds went silent, and the crickets started chirping, I looked over at my girls.  They were smiling and enjoying the adventure of it all.  I thought for a moment about how far we had all come, not just in that crazy trip, but in life.  I got really emotional and started to cry.  I’m not sure what exactly I was releasing there in the big shadow hovering over Kentucky, but it felt good to let go.  And my girls got a good laugh at their sometimes overly sentimental mom who drove eight and a half hours to cry through the Great American Eclipse.  

The trip back took an extra four hours because of the heavy traffic.  My girls never argued.  I never had to yell at them.  They only ever complained about that hotel room, which was completely understandable.  

In the past couple of months, I’ve had certain people in my life question my abilities as a mom.  My own mother told me that driving to Kentucky was irresponsible of me.  My ex husband had tried to demand custody of my younger daughter, saying that he could do better than I do.  Sometimes I let these people get into my head.  But after taking this amazing trip with my girls, I really don’t care what anyone else thinks. Those little ladies are my family and I couldn’t ask for a better tribe.  We are complete and content, just as we are.  

Alt Wrong

I don’t watch the news.  I don’t need the extra drama in my life.  I fall into a dangerously deep depression when I have to see the worst of humanity on my television.  I did come out from under my rock during the Bernie Sanders campaign, but as soon as that shit went south and Trump became our president, I threw myself back under the rock.  

Some stories are so big, they sneak into my newsfeed through friends who find it necessary to educate the masses.  Usually I just scroll past them, but these fucking Nazis caught my attention.  Racism has always been on the front page of my life.  

I am a small town mid westerner. I’m not even going to pretend that racism doesn’t run rampant around here.  

My dad is one of the most racist people I know.  I had to shush him when we had dinner in a Chinese restaurant yesterday, because he started meowing as we walked into the door.  Then, at dinner, he proceeded to tell me that the civil war had nothing to do with slavery.  I’ve tried to reason with him in the past.  We’ve had this particular conversation at least a dozen times.   I’m very well aware of the fact that the civil war was about the Southern states wanting to separate from the government.  But the driving force behind that separation was fucking slavery.  For Christ’s sake, read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  

My parents are brainwashed, toxic, stubborn people who can’t be reasoned with.  I’ve tried to argue.  I have tried to lead by example.  I have tried to drive out the hate with love and care for my parents in spite of their sickness.  Nothing works, because they think I’m the sick one.  So now I just remind my dad that I don’t enjoy discussing politics or current affairs with him at all.   

I was only five years old when we drove away from my older sister, leaving her in the rear view mirror with a biracial baby in her arms.  It was a defining moment in my young life, to watch my sister and my new baby niece, get banished from our home over the color of her baby’s skin.  In that moment, I understood that my dad’s love came with very serious conditions and his love for me, or my sister, or his granddaughter, was clearly valued below his hatred for strangers.  I remember worrying about what I would do if I were to fall in love with a black man.  I still worry about that, as I have dated outside of my race a few times.  I know I would always choose my love over my father’s hate, but I’ve also worried about the feelings of my partner, having to explain that my family is off the table if a relationship was to emerge.  

When I was in high school, it was common to see a row of jacked up trucks, covered with confederate flags, and filled with openly racist red necks.  But high school is also where I learned that my family was the exception, not the rule.  In school I found opinions that resonated with my own.  I encountered people who weren’t racist.  Most of the racism I encountered outside of my family, was less venomous.  Most of the racism that I found in high school was born more of ignorance than of hatred.  That doesn’t make it okay.  But it does make it slightly easier to understand how such a horrible belief system can spread so vastly around my culture.  

For my parent’s generation, it was common in high school to see actual riots. They grew up in Flint, Michigan during the 60’s, with burning flags and crosses and sometimes people.  My dad’s childhood best friend was actually a black kid.  My dad’s heart and their friendship was broken when this kid told my dad that he could no longer be his friend, as he was born in a time when he had to choose.  Rightfully so, he chose his own people. My dad had been hurt by the betrayal, taking it personally and unable to have empathy for this young man’s situation.  This kid was on the front page of the paper, holding an anti-white sign.  My dad saw the picture and then turned his back on all black people.  My dad became a racist after experiencing just a fraction of what his young friend had experienced.  Sometimes people have a tendency to become the person who hurt them the most.  It’s strange how that happens.  It’s even stranger how destructive that mindset can be to entire societies.  

For my grandparent’s generation, it was common in high school for everyone to be the same fucking color. Our human mentality back then was to attack anything or anyone who was different.  My sweet grandmother, who would never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings, refers to the African American race as the coloreds.  I have never corrected my grandmother, though I probably should have.  She honestly doesn’t know any better.  She was raised in backwoods Arkansas and wasn’t even allowed to drive until after her oldest daughter had graduated high school.  She didn’t get out into the world enough to understand it.  My other grandmother, however, used the N word as commonly as any other word.  She wasn’t the sort of lady that one would try to correct.  I’ve always been more of a spectator in life anyway.

You see where I’m going here. I’m not trying to make excuses.  And as a woman who was raised by white supremacists, but has absolutely nothing in common with her own family, it’s difficult for me to expose these truths.  I’m trying to demonstrate that it is getting better.  Starting with me, the generations born from me, will know kindness and embrace cultures outside of our own.  My daughters will never fear the consequences of falling in love with someone of a different race.  My daughters have been encouraged to fall in love with good people of any color.  My daughters are being raised as members of the human race.  

You know what’s common in high school for my daughter? Compassion. Blending cultures. Hope.  We live in a very small town.  But her school is continuously growing more diverse.  She is actually the only 100% Caucasian person amongst her friends.  She has learned about and been conscious of racism since she was a little girl, as I had to constantly remind her that her grandfather has a mental illness and should be ignored most of the time.  She has witnessed racism in her school and she has spoken up about it.  She gives me hope.

I have carried shame about my family’s racism all of my life.  I carried shame when I was little, not understanding why I got yelled at for obsessing over my crush on Michael Jackson,  or wondering why my biracial friend wasn’t allowed to come over to the house.  I still carry shame about my father’s dysfunction.  I rarely bring friends or romantic partners around my family.  There is a ridiculous amount of preparation involved when exposing people to the family of skeletons in my closet.  

I never in a million years thought that my daughter would have to see Nazis marching through the streets in America. It’s disheartening. I ignorantly believed that racists were a dying breed.  But these morons marching themselves into the spotlight have helped to shine a light on an old festering wound that obviously needs to be cleaned and healed beyond what we’ve tried before.  

Sometimes we don’t realize how bad an infection is until the poison bubbles up to the surface. Only then can we properly rinse away the toxins and prepare for true healing. I do see an opportunity here for just that.  

You think it’s Easy Being A Bitch?

Warning:  *This is a rant post* A good one, but a long one.

When I tell people that it took massive amounts of forgiveness to arrive at the level of coparenting that I have accomplished with my ex husband, I am not exaggerating.  

When I walked away from that marriage, I left him with the house and almost everything that was inside of it.  I took my girls, our old camping dishes, and some old basement furniture.  He racked up a $900.00 phone bill in my name, because of the obscene amount of text messages he had exchanged with his new girlfriend.  I couldn’t afford to pay it, so my phone got shut off and turned into collections.  His mom bought him a new cell phone and paid the bill for him.  My mom didn’t even know my phone was shut off, because she refused to talk to me, because she was mad about the divorce.  

He quit his job as an assistant bank manager, to work a minimum wage job in a screw factory, so his child support would be next to nothing.  Three days after the divorce was finalized, he had a job lined up making over $50k per year.  I could not afford the $100.00 fee to file a motion in court and have his support raised.   So the girls and I struggled while he flourished.

All of my money went to rent and daycare.  I had to wash laundry in my bathtub because I couldn’t afford the laundromat.  And he was all over Facebook, taking his new girlfriend to fancy restaurants and staying in fucking castles for the weekend.   

A few years into the divorce, he inherited about a quarter of a million dollars in assets from his grandfather, including a house, classic cars, property, and two newer vehicles that were all paid for with cash.  He also inherited plenty of cash.

My grandmother passed away that same year. My inheritance consisted of her beloved coffee mug that says , ‘You think it’s easy being a bitch?’ And even though it seems like life can be unfair, I fucking love that cup.  My dad filled it with Hershey’s kisses when he gave it to me.  A little reminder that sometimes you have to be a bitch on the outside to protect the sweetness within.  And if you are truly a good person, than being a bitch can be the most difficult thing to be.  But being a bitch is essential to the survival of modern day women.  My grandmother taught me feminism in a million different ways and because of that, my inheritance was worth so much more than his will ever be.

I have had my job for fourteen years.  I make decent money.  But it was never enough to pay for everything.  And even though I am better off now than I was back then, my financial life since the divorce has been my greatest struggle.  

And now this mother fucker has the audacity to tell me that he wants custody of my youngest daughter because he fell in love a few months ago and his new girlfriend will be able to stay home with her, rather than have our fifteen year old daughter babysit.  He thinks that I am unreasonable for making my teenage daughter spend her summers as a daycare lady.  

I think it keeps her out of trouble and I see it as us being a team and making our little family work with what we’ve got.  The money that I save in daycare costs is enough to pay for that daughter’s brand new iPhone 7 and a few summer getaways.  For example, we’re driving to Kentucky this weekend to watch the great American eclipse in it’s totality.  A trip that I absolutely can not afford.  But I can’t really afford to miss it either.  When science this glorious falls upon the earth, we are driving eight and a half hours to witness it!  

Aside from the summer daycare, there’s a half hour before and after school that she babysits while I’m at work, and I have the flexibility to rearrange my schedule when my oldest daughter has after school activities.  This system works great for everyone involved until he starts interfering and telling the girls that they shouldn’t have to do anything to help.  He doesn’t understand the value of responsibility because he has never had any.  

One month ago I was hiking through the upper peninsula with my ex husband and bragging about our incredible coparenting skills.  Today, I am fantasizing about choking him.  
He actually said that he missed out on our older daughter’s life, so he wants to make that up with a chance to raise our younger daughter.  

I’m sorry….What? 

He is the one who decided to move 100 miles away from us after the split.  I would have never…no matter what…moved 100 miles away from my kids.  He made that choice, not me.  And now he is expecting me to just hand my daughter over to him and his new family and just accept the fact that the little girl who I have raised on my own for the past six years will now live 100 miles away from me.  Not happening.  Not a fucking chance.

My eight year old daughter resents me now, because I won’t let her change schools and live with her dad.  She loves him.  She misses him terribly.  And she should, he is a great dad!  He fucking shines at being a divorced dad..every other weekend and a few weeks out of the year.  But she was too young to remember his violent temper.  She doesn’t know that her hero of a dad punched holes in our walls and knocked out three windshields.  She doesn’t remember him trashing the kitchen in a tantrum over his lost keys.  She didn’t see all the neighbors rush out to their front porches while he screamed in my face and threw garbage cans at me.  She only sees him in small doses, while he is on his best behavior.  He knows and is aware that even one outburst while the kids are with him, and his weekends will be reduced to nothing.  He has two weekends every month to put on a smile and be the fun guy, the one they love to be with because he is a good dad.  But he is not a good person, and he should not be in charge of raising children just because he found a girlfriend who is willing to help him.  

I have worked really hard at forgiving him.  It’s a process , but I have absolutely found forgiveness here.  However, I have not and will not forget what he has put me through.  

I will give him 100% in an effort to coparent.  I will consistently bend over to help in any way that I can.  But when he starts fucking with my kids, feeling entitled and thinking I owe him a second chance to get it right, I will unleash my inner bitch like he has never seen before.  She has been very hard at work, growing boundaries and learning how to defend them.  

Just like my Grandmother’s cup asks … You think it’s easy being a bitch?  It’s not!  I want so badly to let my guard down and have a genuine friendship.  But that guard protects me.  Every person who has ever broken the barrier has fed their ego with my bones.  I’m all done being a blood doll.  I’m a bridge burning woman, now.  Because I have to be.  

And I knew it all along. 

*end rant*

Empath Love 

In my experience, people in general can be selfish and shitty, even if they do smell like roses. If you ever happen to catch my attention, you should know that I will hold on fiercely to every wicked thing about you. I will polish your dark side like fucking diamonds. I will rearrange the aesthetics of your very essence, pushing back your demons and pulling forward the pillars of light around your soul.  

And you will see yourself through my eyes, and for the first time, you will fall in love with the scenery of your own shadow.  But sadly, you will assume that my perception of you is only the result of my own ignorance, because deep down you believe that you are nothing more than shit. And even though I can only smell the sweet fragrance of roses inside of you, your focus will remain on the stench of everything you think you are hiding from me.  

And you should know that you can’t hide those hideous treasures from me. I have deep caves inside of myself that are darker than anything you could ever imagine. And that gives me the power now, doesn’t it? You will mistake my kindness for weakness. You will feel my graciousness and then believe that you are somehow entitled to it. You will think you have me on lockdown.  You will assume that I must be under your control because all you can feel is the warm light that I have painted you in.

But you can’t win a game that you aren’t familiar with. My eyes, and the way that they see you, are my own. You don’t own my focus, or my power. And as soon as you start to believe that you do, I will set a fire to the garden of roses that I had so graciously planted in your piles of manure. And I will walk away with one last picture of you, seeing you as nothing more than a pile of shit. Your delusion will become mine. And my delusion will fall into your precious little box of big regrets.  

If you ever learn to plant your own damn roses, I would love to stop by and smell them. 

The Captain Or The Carp

My friends and I have always compared dating to fishing. We considered ourselves the captains of our fishing boats, searching through vast waters of bars and websites and sporting goods stores, searching for that big catch. We’ve wondered if maybe there was something wrong with our equipment. We’ve blamed the weather, the water, and the boat for a low harvest. We have caught fish that left a bad taste in our mouths. We have caught fish who weren’t big enough. We have caught smelly bottom feeders and the coveted King Salmon and everything in between.  

Then I realized that I am the fucking fish. I keep biting on these damn catch and release lines. I keep getting reeled in, sometimes because I am hungry, and sometimes because that bait tastes so damn good. The thing about good bait though, is that it’s always tied to a hook. After being hooked a few times, I’ve learned to be more cautious with my lips.  

I’m torn between wanting a passionate love and a love that will last forever because it’s safe. In my experience, to find a love that is both magic and mundane, is even more rare than seeing a fucking narwhal.  

I have however, found magic inside of the mundane. I am very skilled at creating my own love stories out of relationships that consisted of everything but love. Sadly, those stories were never enough for me. When the fog cleared and reality rolled in, those stories left me drowning in disappointment.  

Maybe the key here is to search instead for the mundane inside of the magic. Perhaps catching that elusive fish who doesn’t want to be caught is the fish most worthy of catching. When he thrashes in the river, fighting for freedom, but incapable of ignoring my bait… that is the fish that captures my attention like no other. I need passion. I need to feel pulled in against my own will. But I also need to know that I have caught something good and trustworthy. Once again, I am transformed into the angler.  

And this is why I’m single. I need to be the fish and the fisherman. This is essentially a balance of power. I want the big fish, the smart fish, who has spent his life avoiding being caught. I also need to be the fish. I need to know that we both put up a fight, because that is the only way that I know how to tell when it’s real. When we want so badly to resist…when we both grow tired of tugging on the line…but neither one of us is capable of giving up…and then all at once, we both surrender. That is the only process I know of falling into something that is worthwhile.  Love is a war of the heart and I have nothing but respect for the battle.    

Today, I am a fish out of water.  

Love Gurus 

People are making careers out of relationship advice.   Some of these people have really important things to say.  Some of these people are peddling bull shit.  Some of them are selling step by step instructions on what to say, how to dress, how to act, and who to be.

Jesus Christ.

 I will admit that I’ve watched some of these videos.  I like Matthew Hussey’s lecture about how ridiculous unrequited love is. I love Derrick Jaxn’s video about recognizing a grown ass man. Actually, I love all of Derrick Jaxn’s videos. That man talking about the value of a single mother is my very own version of hardcore porn. But some of these gurus take it a little too far.  Some of these people are like vultures, preying on the desperation of lonely cat ladies everywhere.

Some of these videos contain beautiful advice.  I’m always an advocate for gaining knowledge. But where do we draw the line? Doesn’t it seem a little crazy to pay for someone else’s word-for-word text messages? How in the actual fuck is someone supposed to get to know you when you communicate with someone else’s words? How is a marriage supposed to work when one partner literally tricked the other partner into love and commitment? What does this say about love?  

I will tell you what this says about love. It says that we can fall in love with anyone, if we want to fall in love. It has everything to do with timing and very little to do with our hearts. The number one concept that is talked about amongst all of these gurus? In order to get a man to commit, you have to find a man who is ready to commit. And so there you have it, when it’s time….it’s time. Just like death. 

But here’s the beauty in that concept. This also means that you can fall out of love with anyone as well. Love is a fucking choice, not a fated event. You can give it and take it from anyone you choose. The key has always been about finding someone worthy of your time, who also believes that you are worthy of theirs.  Time, however, can be a real bitch.  

Here are five of the very best relationship advice videos that I have ever seen….