No clever title today.

I do not trust myself enough. I’m also too hard on myself, but I guess that is true of most people. I am constantly trying to find the group into which I fit.

I have been lusting after a tshirt that has an image of Albert Fish on it with the text, “Full of Grace.” Now, you have options: you can Google “Albert Fish” and “Grace” and thank me later (hint: you’re not likely to thank me later), or you can contact me via Facebook, Twitter (@commonmaggie), Instagram (commonmaggie) or leave a comment here for me to ask, “Hey, what does that shirt mean?” So, I have had my eye on this shirt for months. A few things are stopping me: I don’t need another tshirt; I shouldn’t spend money on something I don’t need; I’m not sure how often I’d wear it. I mean, it’s an Albert Fish tshirt. If you Googled what I instructed you to Google, you know it’s inappropriate. Also, is this shirt ME?

I am simultaneously lusting after a sweater blazer – among other items – from JCrew. It is my favorite clothing brand. I cannot help myself.

What group is that? The group of women who cannot pass up a good serial killer pun tshirt but who want to wear a JCrew cardigan over the serial killer tshirt (I have a great emerald green cardigan that I want to wear over ev-er-y-thing). While actively thinking about this, I have told myself that if it is just me – which is unlikely – that’s okay. If there are only 4 of us in the world, that’s okay, too. If there are thousands, and they all live in Scandinavia while I live in Texas, it’s still okay. I like to think I will get to “the others” some day. But, if it’s just me or if I never meet others, it is okay.

As cheesy as it is, I often give myself pep talks about being myself. Some days, I do it more than once. Other days, being myself and owning it come so easily. I am not 100% sure of every single thing. I probably never will be. But I know myself better and better all the time.

I can tell you what I like: serial killers, preppy clothes, expensive purses, Converse, blankets, disturbing stories, horror movies, mysteries, silly socks, puppies, bookstores, music stores, comedies, puns, crossword puzzles, books, cardigans, boots, hats, my Honda Fit, the color green, my glasses, ice cream, Italian food, brunch, art, skylines, the tall green trees of my homeland and the unbelievably wide sky of west Texas, rainy days at home, soft fabrics, wandering around with Todd, road trips, holding babies (Yes, I like holding babies, especially the part when I hand the baby to someone else), watching football, swearing, writing, working out, sleeping in, yoga, warm weather, the beach, the mountains, the Pacific Northwest, people watching, the smell of books, shuffling cards, scarves, hoodies, reading about surreal horror films I may never get to watch because they exist in such a small space, trying to understand what “surreal” means, finding a new author to love, being an Introvert, telling people I’m an Introvert, poetry, playing games, finding one more thing to love about San Angelo, getting dressed up, the physical act and physical sensation of writing, fresh notebooks, Ramona, movie lists (ie The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time), never having had to stop listening to an episode of The Last Podcast on The Left (I want all the gold stars!), fundraising for MS research, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, vampire lore, learning about sex offenders, being assertive, helping someone “come around,” things that could likely be described as “fucked up,” surprise flowers, desperately trying to find an NFL team to support (how long ago did Peyton Manning retire, and I still have no clue), buying things from school fundraisers, and on and on and on. The list may never end.

For some balance, here are some things I don’t like: butterflies, the color pink, Metallica, science fiction movies, boxing, lima beans, beer, the NY Yankees, Alabama football, peep-toe shoes, face tattoos, chevron pattern, deciding that every person who has committed a crime is a bad person, elitism, being interrupted, mansplaining, being treated like I can’t handle things, eating meat off of the bone, spicy food, the idea that addiction isn’t a disease, people who argue that sexual contact with children should be permitted if the child consents (a child cannot consent), people who wear dark clothing while jogging around Santa Rita in the dark, not being able to read all of the books at once, not having a window in my office, how difficult it is to find shirts for work that are stylish but not low cut, and on and on and on.

I really did begin this entry focusing on my lack of feeling like I belong in a group. In a way, I have found “my people,” but they aren’t my people in that I can say I am a certain type of person and they are the same type of persons. I don’t think there’s anything concise I can say about myself that would give a person an idea of who I am. I don’t have a category, like goth, that would right away tell someone what to expect from me. I don’t identify as a feminist (see previous entry) or a yankee. I’m not a Texan. I’m not a buckeye (2-4-6-8 who gives a shit about Ohio State?), and I’m not an athlete. I don’t identify with a certain religion, at this time. I didn’t go to a big, well-known college (it I’m not an Aggie). I’m not an English teacher. I’m not a Steelers fan.

So, where does one belong if her first heroes were Daria Morgandorfer, Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Wurtzel? I wrote high school research papers about the Manson family and euthanasia (I support the Right to Die movement). The only moderately decent stories I’ve ever written were “horror” stories, but I’ve written some poetry that wasn’t total trash (probably 98.5% trash). I want to spend the rest of my life working with and researching sex offenders and sex offender treatment. I love to watch Bob’s Burgers. Hannibal Lecter is my favorite fictional character and I love the Harry Potter series. Reading The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor changed my life. As did The Handmaid’s Tale and Anatomy of Motive.

When we were in California, the same day we visited The Huntington, we also visited The Museum of Death (LA), and I really enjoyed both. Both were important to me on that trip. On a different day, we made a quick stop outside of Jim Henson Studios so I could see the Kermit the Frog statue. Then we went to Amoeba Music where I almost bought a Texas Chain Saw Massacre tshirt (wish I had). None of this seems to add up to anything logical.

Maybe all of this rambling is a lesson, for myself, in not being able to put anyone into a group; not being able to have any expectation of anyone based upon a group with which a person may choose to identify. It would be nice to come away from this topic having lost the feeling that I should fit in a group, because the reality is that nobody does.

MuckFest MS Austin

Before we get into MuckFest MS, I need to tell you about the day before and the AirBNB where Tristi and I stayed. It was a little apartment-type place in Bastrop. Super cute; more than what we needed for just one night, but great. By the time we got there, it was dark (we shopped out butts off in San Marcos). I read the host’s instructions a few times. It all sounded easy enough.

We get to the place and get into the driveway. We enter through the gate, like the instructions instructed. Once in the backyard, we could turn left and enter a house or turn right and enter a house. We turned left. That was the wrong turn. We turned left and entered a home. Creaky screen door – creaky like creaking is its job. We enter the home and are two rooms deep before we realize THIS IS NOT WHERE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. WE ARE INSIDE SOMEONE’S HOME. So, we backtrack and exit through that god-awful creaky screen door. At this point, we have a perfect view of the apartment where we are supposed to go. Good grief, people. We were inside a stranger’s home without their permission. It was dark. I maintain that we were lucky not to be shot.

We settle into the apartment-type place and find a place to get grub. We drive to Roadhouse for food. We eat the food and each leave with a Salted Caramel Cupcake because you do not resist the cupcake that is advertised on the door of the establishment and on the chalkboard inside the establishment. Not gonna lie – it was a good cupcake. I ate mine for breakfast the next morning. Speaking of the next morning….

On 10.15.17 I participated in MuckFest MS in the Austin area. I had this image in my mind – beforehand – of myself crying intermittently through the course. I expected to spend a lot of time remembering my mom and feeling the weight of her death. I expected the emotional weight of completing the course for her to be in the front of my mind all day. While I could feel her with me and I did draw courage from that when an obstacle was particularly daunting, I didn’t cry once. I literally slithered on my belly through muddy water for my mom because she died from complications related to a disease that robbed her of the ability to move or even speak. I climbed over things without thinking about how high they were. I slid down a hill of mud. I slid down a wet slide that threw me right into a pit of muddy water. I went through 2 obstacles that I shouldn’t have gone through because I lack swimming skills. I got into water over my head and struggled my way to the other side of those pits for my mom.

While we were at the starting line waiting for our start time, the MC asked us to recognized all those people who have MS who were participating. I learned during registration that persons who suffer from MS are given a special bandana to wear to indicate that they are “mucking with MS.” There were several of these participants in our heat. I did get emotional about that. If I had not been trying to get myself ready for the course, I probably could have just sat down and cried about them. It’s my understanding that, even fore someone who suffers from MS but can still function independently, a 5k would be tiring and trying and stressful. But, there they were, and not just in our wave. While on the course and afterward, I saw more people wearing those bandanas. I’m not sure exactly what I felt. I was happy to see them there. I was happy to see them on the course. I just wish I could take all the bad stuff away for them. I wish I could have hugged all of them. They kicked ass that day, just like they do every day. End of story.

I assume it comes across as being very cheesy to others to learn that I think of my mother when I am trying to do something that is physically demanding. In my past, I have completed 2 half-marathons (13.1 miles/each). I thought about mom during both of those. In the gym, I often think of my mom. I know I’m not serving her by doing difficult, physical activities. What I watched her endure keeps me from taking my physical health for granted, even if we’re talking about something as simple as walking up a flight of stairs. I can do it. Not everyone can. In addition to completing all of the obstacles at MuckFest MS, I also walked the course with some of my team members (Go Lucky Muckers!). We talked. We laughed. We enjoyed seeing the horses on the grounds (the course was on a horse farm – pretty rad). The point is, I was physically capable of walking the course. I’m grateful for every day of that.

After completing the course, rinsing off, changing clothes and having a drink and a snack, I wrote about mom on the shoelace display. I don’t remember what it was for, but it was an opportunity to tell “the world,” this is why I’m here. I also wrote about mom on the official MuckFest MS orange backdrop doo-dad. Mom, her name, the year she was born and the year she passed.

I used to think I would get a tattoo in memory of mom. I had this great idea that I would get that tattoo when I was the age she was when I was born. That ship has sailed. When it was close to “go time,” I realized that I’m never going to forget mom. I’m never going to forget what she went through. Why get a tattoo for her? I have shared about her here, and I will continue to do so, but you’ll never get the whole story. You’ll never get the details that I struggle to choke out when I need to tell them. That story is so personal to me. It’s not entertainment. It’s not a way for me to get attention. It’s a part of my life and my life story, but I only share all of it with important people. While I appreciate your readership (I truly do; you are incredible), the full story about mom is in line with sharing my deepest, darkest secret. It’s not for you.

Let’s address MuckFest in another light: It was FUN. I have never done anything like it, and I will do it again given the chance. I will recruit a team and hopefully do better fundraising. I feel genuinely excited to do it again next year. I want to try to raise enough money for my team to have a tent and maybe our own changing area. I want to have a larger team. I want to be bigger and better next time. I think we will keep the same team name. It served us well. I had a great team. Everyone was so nice and we brought in money for the cause. I am planning to write notes to everyone to thank them. I wish I could do something for them or give them something, but I’m not particularly wealthy. Nor am I particularly social. I hope a nice note will do the job. I’m not even sure how to express my appreciation, but I’ll figure out something and hopefully not cry while doing so.

We came up short on photographic records. Tristi, Aubrey, Austin and I got to the course site with just enough time to check in and get our bags to the bag check area before we had to be at the starting line. So, no “before” photos. We didn’t have a spectator to take pictures everywhere. We have some photos from event photographers, but I wish we had more. Next time, we’ll plan better, arrive earlier and have someone traipse around just to take pictures.

I am going to write notes to my donors. People really went above and beyond, and it is so meaningful to me. MS hasn’t effected everyone’s life or hasn’t effected their lives the way it has effected mine, but they gave anyway. I guess they gave for me, in a way. At any rate, I am still feeling the love. I know some truly caring, generous people. I’m thinking caring and generous people are the people who get things done, or at least help propel things along.

Swing 1
This is me on the Swing Set obstacle (with Tristi in the background): the first obstacle that required me to jump into water that was over my head and propel myself to the other side of the pit. Later when a teammate asked me how I did it, I said I just tried not to die. Success!

Muck Group 1
This is the team: Lucky Muckers. This was during the course, but we were slowed down by a line that had formed at the Flying Muckers obstacle. We did good.

Finish Line Group
This is part of the team after crossing the finish line. You can see the Crash Landing obstacle in the background. The photographer said something about us being “done,” so we tried to pep it up. Just so we’re clear: you bet your ass I rang the bell at the finish line.

Click here: My MuckFest MS Fundraising Site to read a little more about how MS has impacted my life and to donate to the cause if you’re feeling like you might want to do that (fundraising continues until 12/13/17).

To learn more about MS, MS research, MuckFest and how you can help:
National MS Society
Official MuckFest MS Site

“California. California, here we come.”

I realized this morning that we leave for LA in less than 2 weeks. I have never been to California. I feel like I have been looking forward to this trip for years, but it’s only been a few months. Several months? Todd ordered our tickets, but I’m really not sure when. At different points in time, I have forgotten that we are going. It’s kind of a big deal, though, going to a place I have never been. I don’t take any of my travels for granted, but going to Marfa is more regular than going to LA. Man, I love Marfa. We opted not to go in 2018 so we can plan for a trip to Europe. I’m going to Miss that trek further into the southwest of Texas, but…. Europe.

I will be excited until it’s time to board the flight for DFW (layover town). Then I will feel anxious until we are off of the plane in CA. I will go back to feeling anxious again after we collect our luggage. I have never met Thad’s wife, Caroline. I have never met their daughter, Maddie, either, but 2-year-olds aren’t as scary as adults. aren’t as scary

Also, will LA be crowded? Is the traffic as bad as they say? Will I see any celebrities? How much is “too much” money to spend at Amoeba Records? How much is “too much” money to spend at the Museum of Death? Am I making the right choice in choosing NOT to go to the Harry Potter theme park? I mean, it will be right there, and Todd said we can go…. But there are so many other things to see….

We need to start looking for restaurants and making a REAL game plan. Less than 2 weeks. I hope to have a lot to share after the trip.

Hustlers grab your guns // Your shadow weighs a ton // Lookin out for number 1 // California, here we come // Right back where we started from

One night, Todd and I were sitting in the original Kerbey Lane – Central (Hail, ATX) when we spotted a guy who looked a lot like Jason Schwartzman. We ordered a ton of food for just the two of us (I know I ordered a poached egg dish, but we also had pancakes because it was Kerbey Lane and we are not androids) and spent a lot of the time trying to decide, Is that him? I remember looking him up to try to figure out where he lived, did he have any connection to ATX, etc. I read that he was a vegetarian. Not very helpful. In the end, we decided it was not him. I was tempted to approach the guy and explain why we kept looking in his direction. I don’t think we were staring, but we may have looked that way often enough to seem weird. Of course, maybe he’s used to that kind of thing.

I feel bad that I can’t remember what show we had just attended. It had to be Kurt Vile or Cold War Kids…. I’m leaning toward Kurt Vile. I think we went to a Kerbey Lane branch after CWK.

34.

“All there is in the end is death, so who cares.  Just be happy!”

Today is my 34th birthday.  I have loved my 30s so much.  My cousin turned 30 earlier this year and I was glad to find that she was looking forward to her 30s.  I have accomplished so many things during my 30s.  The most important thing, I think, is truly accepting and loving myself.  Do you realize how many doors open up with this revelation?  It’s not an arrogant, “I can do anything.”  It’s a humble, solid, “I can do anything.”  And maybe I can’t, but I can damn sure try anything that strikes me as enjoyable or beneficial.  I can finish a half-marathon.  I can go into a new place by myself.  I can ask questions.  I can speak to a large crowd.  I can be assertive.  I can openly communicate with my partner.  I can start a blog and share it with anyone who wants to read it.  I can go out in public with unwashed hair.  I can testify in a court room.  I can make small talk, even if I don’t like it.  I can switch jobs.  I can drive wherever I want to go.  I can get out my little journal and jot down whatever whenever I am called to do so.

To be fair, “truly accepting and loving myself” is absolutely a work in progress.  There are good days, there are great days and there are days when I have to consciously focus on positive self-talk and on reversing all of the negative thoughts that are attempting to overwhelm me.  On those bad days, I can be found writing out a list of positive self-talk statements, like a “newbie.”  There’s no shame in my game, folks.  I will feel proud and tell whoever will listen about whatever it is I do to live my happiest, best possible life – sometimes that’s re-reading an old list, sometimes it’s writing a new list, sometimes it’s just remembering.

Today is my 34th birthday.  I told Tristi this is the first birthday in my 30s that I have felt “weird” about.  I don’t feel old.  I don’t necessarily feel bad, but I feel like maybe I should be doing something bigger.  I can count on Tristi for a lot of things – all good things.  As usual, she came through with a great perspective.  She said, “Be happy.  That’s all that matters!….All there is in the end is death, so who cares.  Just be happy! And just like that, I was back on track with enjoying my 30s.  I am happy.  I have a genuinely great life.  The more I think about it, I’m not even sure what I should be doing is real.  I do love my job.  I do believe I am where I am for a reason.   Where in the hell did the thought come from that I should be doing something bigger?

This is me today in my 34-year-old glory; sitting on the sidewalk in front of The Latest Scoop in downtown San Angelo.  Something I hope to achieve in this blog is to be authentic.  I could have asked Todd to take the photograph from a different angle to prevent the sun being in my eyes.  I could have found a more flattering pose.  I could have chosen not to ask Todd to take my picture because I wasn’t wearing make-up, my hair wasn’t fixed, I don’t have a tan, I’m wearing an outfit that could easily pass for pajamas, blah blah blah.  This is the photograph I wanted.

 

BD Flowers

These are the super sweet surprise birthday flowers that Todd sent to me at work yesterday.  I like a good surprise.  I like Todd.  And I like my birthday.