No Pool Today: A Short Story About My Summer

Sometimes I wonder what my parents did with us during the summer and then it comes back to me…they took us camping for a week and then told us to go outside for the rest of the 3 months. Just go outside and find something or someone interesting. There were no water parks or daily picnics. Once in awhile there were long walks to 7-11 for Slurpees, but no one drove us and we never asked. My mom didn’t take pictures of us kicking rocks at each other or putting playing cards in the spokes of our bike tires. She was probably sewing or making dinner or relishing in using the bathroom alone. Those days of 80’s parenting are long gone, but I’m bringing them back.

I really do love the 80’s and it’s mostly because of leg warmers.

I’m not taking pictures of everything my kids do this summer. Partly because they refuse and partly because I’m not convinced everyone in my social media circuit needs to know that we played a raucous round of Kings of Tokyo and then ate Klondike bars. Or that my kids watched YouTube videos for the afternoon while I paid bills and installed a new closet rod. I just don’t think the pictures would do our exciting life justice.

I’m also not going to the pool everyday. I’m just not. I have to shave a lot of body hair and find a swimsuit top and bottom that match. Once there, only one person out of 3 of us wants to swim so I’ve basically donated my money to the pool director for the privilege of sitting on a broken sun chair. There may be one picture at the pool, but that’s only happening because of a little thing new to moms of this generation…social media mom guilt. Everyone else is having the perfect summer and so will we, dammit. So stand in front of that diving board and smile or I’m eating this whole bag of Doritos by myself. Then I come to my senses. Most days there is no pool and when someone asks, I suggest they take a cold bath or go jump in the lake, which brings on eye rolls and a muffled groan. Fine by me, I’m bringing back 80’s parenting so I’m cool with not being cool.

Most of 80’s parenting, that is. I’m not giving up the internet and I would never ask that of my children. Mostly because I’m too lazy to do 600 science projects a day or teach them how to knit their own winter jacket. I’m a one project and done kinda gal. We made lemon bars together? Great. Now you are on your own, grasshopper. One hour of UNO? Hope you enjoyed because now I need to shower. Enter…internet entertainment. Yes, I know that makes me a bad parent but I’ve accepted that. I’m okay with being judged for not going to every library event or summer star party. I have a job and a house to clean and kids who are capable of finding a YouTube channel that will teach them how to make slime out of baking soda and lighter fluid. Have at it kids, I’ll be on the deck if you need me.

An actual photo of my kid camping. #fakenews

I’m not even sure what to share on social media regarding our summer. Perhaps a photo of my clean garage or the new mulch I put out front. A snapshot of my teenager napping on the couch or my youngest using a Little Tykes slide to do leg lifts while watching Netflix. The options seem endless, but I’m not convinced everyone needs to see all of our things. Had my mom been able to post all of my teenage summer photos on FB, I would probably be unemployable and living in a van down by the river. My kids need privacy and I need to stop feeling guilty. No one needs me to post 1,500 pictures to prove that we went to the arts festival and ate at the Pie and laughed so hard on the car ride home that there were tears in my eyes. My kids will remember that and I will remember that and one day we can all reminisce about that one summer when we took them camping for a week and then told them that the rest of summer fun was to find their own Slurpee. Or to get on the internet.

Buy A Book, Meet A Person, Learn How To Order Coffee

It’s official…I have books with my name in them being delivered to my house in short order. Because I am thee of little faith in myself, I only ordered a few and then later remembered that my mom will probably buy all of those and then the rest of ya’ll be out of luck. Or buying it somewhere else. So I’ll get more and you’ll have options and we can all pretend we know how this works…I KNOW HOW THIS WORKS. *I tell myself as I struggle to remember how to use a pen*

DO YOU LIVE FAR AWAY AND WANT A SIGNED COPY? READ THIS

For my out-of-town friends, I have set up an easy way for you to pre-order the book with a little Paypal button on the bottom right side of this page. For the low, low price 15 dollars I will send you a signed copy of ‘But Did You Die’. If you want me to draw a stick figure in there, I’ll do it. If you want me sign someone else’s name, I’ll do that. You want a great recipe for pulled pork? I’ll add that in, too. I JUST WANT YOU TO HAVE A BOOK. So order today and give me faith to order more books.

DO YOU LIVE CLOSE AND LIKE CHEESE?

For my local friends, do you want to eat wine and cheese at my house? Possibly have me sign a copy of this book right in front of your face? Well, let’s make that a reality. In the next week, I will be sending out FB invites for a book signing, wine drinking, porch sitting, cheese devouring event that will be held the day this book is released. It’s a release party…just like Beyonce has except no one famous will be there and I don’t have valets to park your car. If you don’t want to see me in person, feel free to order your book and I’ll ship it to your home and you can be a total hermit. I don’t judge, you do you.

ORDER COFFEE LIKE THE CHILL DUDE YOU REALLY ARE

Here’s how to order coffee if you want to make your life easier and my life easier and hopefully get in and out in a timely manner. Start with the size you want, then I won’t have to ask you 6,000 times. Next, this part can get tricky so only do this if you feel like you are nearing pro ordering status….begin your modifications. Like “Grande nonfat 2 pump….” That’s how we will yell it out at the end of the bar, so this will make life less confusing for everyone. Not a fan of that? Then just give me your size, your drink and then the modifications. What you don’t do is this bullshit…

“I want a latte with 2 sugars.”

“What size?”

“I SAID TWO SUGARS.”

“What size?”

“Are you deaf? I said a latte with 2 sugars.”

Don’t be that guy. Just be cool and give us the size and don’t be a douche if we don’t spell your name right. Do you know how many spellings there are for Braxton and Mackensie? I’m sorry, blame your parents.

And order my book today, so I don’t have to use the ones I already ordered to build a raft and float myself down the river while I cry. Thank you for your love and support.

Not Dead Yet….Apparently

According to my social media numbers, I died about 18 months ago. Not an actual death with a funeral where people show pictures of me on vacation while they drink wine and whisper about all the things I perhaps should have done or said or made better. I just had a social media death. Like a jump off a cliff after the best party of your life. Or being the fun gal at dinner and then holing up in your house for 37 years with a lot of cats. It was that kind of death.

For three years, I wrote for a few blogs, created a new writer website for myself (this one, with my old pictures where I look like I’m really invested in myself..cause I was), and submitted many stories to competitions and anthologies. I read every blog about writing and publishing and even tried my hand at a YouTube channel. That is a whole blog post of its own. And I loved all of it. I was excited because my belief was that the harder I worked toward my goal, the sooner it would happen. Then nothing happened. I spent hundreds of dollars to travel to writing conferences where I met other writers, publishers, PR people. I thought I was doing exactly what I needed to do to get results. And then, I got zero results.

In the midst of that, I had to return to the workforce to provide insurance for my family. Months later my daughter went through a very challenging period that required my husband and I to make adjustments to our lives. Then one million other very difficult things kept happening. When people say bad things happen in threes, I just laugh. “You mean 3 thousands?”

The time I had spent on my writing went to more important things and eventually I lost the ability to see what the point was in the first place. Not that I was mad, i was just apathetic to something that looked so self-absorbed after dealing with real life problems. I couldn’t be funny and I couldn’t write my book and I could barely get out of bed sometimes. So I accepted this part of my life and stopped doing anything that didn’t involve work, kids, spouse, or shoving food in my pie hole. I was (and am) surviving. That’s what we have to do as humans sometimes, survive. I quit Twitter, Instagram, and my own blog and kept up on FB because I needed somewhere to compare my fucked up existence to other people who had perfect kids and spectacular homes. (Yes..I have issues.)

A year went by and then I stuck my toe in. I checked my blog email, which I hadn’t done in months, and had a request from a prolific blogger for me to submit a piece of writing. I still don’t know why she asked, but she did and I’m grateful. Then I finally sat down and wrote about the hard things with my daughter and I let a dear friend read the piece because I wanted to maybe, possibly (HOLD ON TO YOUR PANTIES) submit it.

“This is the best thing you have ever written. I’m sobbing.”

Because I’m super awkward at compliments, I replied with “Still got it.” Which loosely translated means “I feel like a fake and I’m not sure how to respond without humor.”

And then all the things I had worked so hard for, all the dreams I had for myself were suddenly here and I hadn’t really done that much work to get them. My brain couldn’t understand…work less and get the things? But why????

And I don’t know. But I know that my personal belief system up to this point in my life has revolved around things happening for a reason and in the exact right season. Even the hard things. Had we not tackled the situation with my daughter when we did, it could have ended badly. Had I not checked that stupid email account, i would have never known someone wanted me to write. Had I not finally posted online that I was alive and doing things, people may have believed that I was dead. Or that I had given up forever. I haven’t given up forever. I’m just different and a bit lazier and a bit smarter and a lot more clear about needing to calm the fuck down. So I do that, too. Then I write a bit and hug my kids and ignore Twitter and have sex with my husband and make dinner and it all seems to work, so I’m not questioning it as much. I’m not dead…I’m just different.