The Space Between

I have lived in Tennessee since I was seventeen years old. Eleven years ago, I packed everything I owned into a hideous behemoth of a blue van and moved here with my (then) boyfriend with tears in my eyes – tears of relief, tears of gratitude, tears of joy that I was finally getting away from my mother and her poison.

Through the years, I’ve missed my family in the vague sense that I always knew it wouldn’t be long between visits. I was so busy with work, with life, with having fun, that I never really slowed down enough to absorb and fully feel the physical distance between us.

And then came Nellie, the flurry of giggles and curls that changed my life and the lives of everyone with whom she shared a bloodline. My funny little girl with the half-smirk. My little Hobbit. My dad and stepmom came to meet her for the first time when she was around 6 weeks old. It was truly amazing to hand my father his first grandchild and see the look on his face as he held her. My brother came about two weeks later and – not to put words into his mouth or speak for him, but I’m pretty sure this is a safe assessment – it was love at first sight.

When they left, I felt an ache for them that I hadn’t ever felt before. Becoming a mother made me so aware of the passage of time, so painfully alert to the fact that with each tick of the clock we are, all of us, getting older. Suddenly the physical gap separating me from my family became a gap in my heart as well. I began watching from afar as they celebrated holidays, attended weddings, welcomed new babies into the family. I clicked through pictures on Facebook of wedding showers, Easter dinners, and read e-mails from my dad telling me all about how he and my brother went golfing the weekend before.

When Nellie and I went up to visit this past June, it was wonderful to just be in the same room with my dad and brother, to watch them enjoy Nellie and play with her. I realized that they were missing out on so much of her life, and that I was missing out on them being able to hug her, sing to her, cuddle her, and love her whenever they wanted. And that hurt. I struggle to nurture as much of a bond with them as I can via phone calls, texts, and e-mails but it’s hard. I just miss them.

This is not to say that I want to pick up and leave our life here in Tennessee behind. I love our life here. Our friends, our jobs, our home is here. My husband’s family have become my family, too, and they cherish and dote on Nellie like crazy. They have always welcomed me into their arms and I love them. If we were to take Nellie away from the love she has with Josh’s parents, it would break everyone’s heart – mine included.

It is still hard to not have the family whose blood you share near. It’s hard to watch your child grow up knowing your family but not really knowing them. There is a peace that comes with being in the company of those who have known you since birth, those who are made of the same genes as you.

I wish there was a solution. One that would make everyone happy, one where every one of us could be together. Technology helps keep us connected but when people you love are far away, the physical distance  manifests as a sense of hurt and longing that no amount of Skyping can fix. And sometimes, that just sucks.

Analyze This

I love Google Analytics. It’s an extremely useful tool for any blogger. It’s great for tracking your traffic, getting insight into your reader demographics, and finding out where your hits are coming from.

It’s also a great source of amusement – for me, anyway. You see, one of the ways to track your incoming traffic is by seeing what terms people are plugging into search engines to find your little corner of the interwebs. For me, my search traffic terms have always been as random as I am. I was sharing some of this month’s gems with a group of blogging ladies when my hilarious and brilliant friend, Veronica, said that I should do a link-up so others could share their funny findings from Google Analytics. So, my friends, here are some of my favorite ways folks have found my blog this month. At the end of this post, you will find a linky so that you too can participate in the WTF fun by linking up your funny search posts. Here we go, in no particular order:

  • “Is it normal if my butt grumbles?” – Um. If you have a bear living in it.
  • “Llama sitting on the toilet reading paper” – And throwing pasta, and flinging juice, because he’s an ASSHOLE
  • “Mmm argh mmm argh Michael Franti” – I think zombies are after you, Michael Franti. RUN!
  • “Queen pee pee from where’s my damn toilet?” – Queen Pee Pee: The most unpopular Queen EVER
  • “DiCaprio Titanic hair” – You ROCK that late 90s hair. ROCK IT
  • “Get the weird kid to like you” – Carry Star Wars trading cards and warm gummy bears in your pocket.
  • “I have a shestache and I don’t want to wax or shave it” – Enjoy your loneliness, my friend.
  • “Your kid talking like a loud parrot isn’t cute” – FUCK YOU YES IT –  okay you’re right, that’s not cute at all.
  • “Crazy black man” – FINALLY someone who understands me.

There you have it, folks. I think that these search terms are a true testament to me and my blog and the entire WTF? nature that is my brain and the content is produces. My personal favorites are “crazy black man” and “mmm argh mmm argh michael franti”. Because… What?

Now it’s YOUR turn. Link up your Analyze This post below. The linky will be open for about a week, so tell your friends, share the button, and let’s see who can come up with their funniest, most WTF? search terms!


Click on the little blue button below to add your post!



 

 

Potty Training SUCKS. Know What Doesn’t? VODKA.

A few months ago I wrote this post about potty training Nellie. I bitched and moaned about how frustrating it was, wondered aloud if it was too soon and if we should just wait, and called Llama Llama an asshole. Because he kind of is one.

At the time of that post, we had really only scratched the surface with potty training. Little did I know how frustrating it would become once we jumped right in and committed to getting it done. Let me tell you this now: Potty training is,  hands-down, THE most frustrating I’ve ever had to deal with as a parent. Like, WORST. EVER. My kid is stubborn (don’t know where she gets it), a little sensitive, and cute as shit so it’s hard to stay annoyed. And also you don’t WANT to be annoyed at them with this, because making potty training a negative experience will most likely make them fail at everything forever in life and during their graduation speech they will be like WELL I COULD HAVE BEEN VALEDICTORIAN, BUT MY MOM LOOKED AT ME FUNNY ONE TIME WHEN I WAS POTTY TRAINING AND I’VE NEVER BEEN THE SAME SINCE.

Parenthood: You will fuck up, guaranteed. Have fun!

I wish I had some wise or clever tips for how we got Nellie pee-trained but I don’t have anything for you. One day after constant accidents and meltdowns over just sitting on the toilet, we sent her to school in panties and BAM. No more accidents. She just up and decided she could pee in the toilet. Yay! Parade! GIVE ME SOME DAMN CANDY. I don’t know why I thought this would be any different than any other milestone in her life. She has ALWAYS done things HER way, when she was damn well ready.

She’s had one regression that lasted about three days which prompted a visit to the doctor’s office to make sure she didn’t have a UTI or anything like that. During the regression she pissed all over my in-laws’ rug, which was really a bummer because that rug really tied the room together.

We are still struggling with poop training. She went once yesterday and I cheered and clapped like a drunk cheerleader at a pep rally.  We haven’t even attempted nighttime training yet. As for me? Well, I have seen new and exciting bathrooms that I’ve never visited before thanks to my toddler’s new skill. We patronized the bathroom to the local T.G.I.Friday’s three times in one visit the other night. Three! I haven’t gone to a public restroom that frequently since my days of getting super drunk and vomiting in public restrooms at family restaurants. Fun times.

If I could give one piece of advice to parents of potty-training toddlers, it would be this:

Give up all sense that you are in control here, because you aren’t. They will piss and poop on that damn thing when they are good and ready. In the meantime, buy them lots of candy and stickers, get ready to dance and clap and squeal like a crazy person when they DO make it in the potty, buy yourself some vodka, and have a seat on the floor of your bathroom because you’re probably going to be there for a while.

 

 

Internet Forever

I was talking to a group of blogging friends of mine last night and posed a question: how long have you been on the internet?

There has been a computer in my home since I was very young. I actually do not have memory of a home sans computer. I have been on the internet since I was a child – maybe around 9 years old or so. My first internet service provider was Prodigy, and back then my favorite thing to do was post on the only thing I had access to – message boards. My favorite message board to frequent was a Baby-Sitter’s Club message board. Looking back on my first experiences with being online, I’m amazed at how unsupervised I was. But my parents’ generation didn’t know any better. It was really a time before people were aware that internet predators existed.

After Prodigy came AOL. Ahh, AOL. I can remember when you paid by the hour, and I can still hear the noise my dial-up modem made. Once I discovered AOL and the glory that was chatrooms, I was hooked for good. I used to spend hours (yes, hours) in chatrooms. Specifically, I would spend hours in role-playing chatrooms.

DISCLAIMER: I’m about to go like, hardcore nerd here. You have my permission to laugh. I don’t care.

My first boyfriend and his buddies tuned me in to these role-playing chatrooms. There was a whole network of people who created online characters who “lived” in a fictional realm called RhyDin (are you laughing yet?). My character was a vampire named Rina. Rina was a badass who liked to wear red and black fishnets (I was also really into the Rocky Horror Picture Show). Rina would frequent this one popular chatroom known as the Red Dragon Inn, the social hub for all of these fantasy characters to go and interact. Sometimes fights would break out, and that’s when you’d break out your digital dice and “roll” them to see who emerged triumphant. This was probably the most inconvenient time to get kicked offline, because damnit, I NEED TO KICK THE ASS OF THIS WARRIOR WHO MAY OR MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE A 400 POUND SWEATY GUY WITH A MULLET WEARING A ‘FRANKIE SAYS RELAX’ T-SHIRT.

In case all of that isn’t nerdy enough for you, I also joined a guild called the Silent Warriors of RhyDin Eternal (SWoRE. I could not make this shit up if I tried, folks). We had pretend online fighting tournaments and shit. It was through these chatrooms that I met my ex-boyfriend; the one that I would eventually move away from Chicago to Tennessee with.

Once AOL had more or less gone the way of the dodo, I moved on to other social forums like LiveJournal. I began my LiveJournal in 2001 at the age of 17. I still have it, though I haven’t been active in posting there since I started this blog four years ago. I have always been an internet geek and now that we are living in the time of social media, I’m pretty much in geek heaven. I love social media. I love having information readily available at my fingertips. I love making friendships with fellow moms and bloggers across the country that I never would have met otherwise. I still remember some of the people I met in my AOL days and wonder what they’re doing now. There is something about the internet and technology that have always had a hold on me, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

How long have you been online? What are some of your earliest memories of the internet? Do you think I’m a complete dweeb for my online role-playing?

 

Let’s Post About ALL the Things!

OH HI! I am just a little bit excited tonight because all sorts of great things have been happening. Here’s a list:

1. I passed my GED test and found out today that I’m eligible for grant money for school.
2. We finally got a 2nd car, which is freaking awesome because we have shared a car our entire relationship – which is almost 9 years. 9 YEARS, 1 CAR. That sounds like one of those freaky ass internet videos your friends trick you into watching and then you can never get the image out of your head because it’s seared there PERMANENTLY.
3. I HAVE THE INTERNET AT HOME. This may not seem like a big deal to you, BUT IT IS TO ME. This is because we have been without internet at home for almost a year now. A YEAR. Do you have any idea what it’s like for a blogger to not have access to the internet AT HOME? I will tell you what it’s like.

ASDL;KFJAS;DLKFJAS;DLKFJASDKL;FJAL;SKJ

That is what it’s like.

That’s all I really have to say for right now. I will leave you with this:

image source Damn Cool Pictures

 

Testy

It has been a week and a half since I took the GED test, and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t felt antsy while waiting for the results at all. I knew I had done my best, that it was out of my hands, and that I had a 3-4 week wait ahead of me…

Except….

Yesterday afternoon I stopped by our mailbox on the way to get some groceries and pulled out an envelope from the college at which I took the test. I blinked at it for a few moments, convinced it was just a “thank-you” letter, or a confirmation that they’d sent my results, or something like that. I carefully opened the envelope and peeked inside. I saw the words “Official GED Test Results” and my breath caught in my throat.

My results. Damn.. That was fast.

I took a deep breath, pulled the paper from the envelope and stared at it for a few seconds. I closed my eyes and slowly opened the tri-folded document. Cringing, I opened my eyes and searched for the mark that would tell me if I’d passed or not. My eyes fell on two little boxes that read: Passed, Not Passed.

My X was in the Passed box.

I PASSED. I did it!

I started laughing and did a little car dance (you know, when you want to dance when you’re in the car but you can’t really dance because you’re sitting down so you just sort of wiggle and flail your arms? No? Just me? Okay then). I abandoned my plans to grocery shop and instead, went out for a celebratory dinner with my family.

It’s a strange feeling, knowing that this big, intimidating thing that I’ve been avoiding for eleven years is now behind me. I’ve already scheduled my next step; a meeting with an adult education program to begin filling out financial aid paperwork so I can look into enrolling in college – maybe as early as this coming Spring.

Thank you all for your support. It has meant the world to me. You all have been my cheerleaders, and every single word of encouragement has boosted my confidence and made me smile. Thank you.

Bloglift by Utterly Chaotic

Hi! It’s been a while since I posted anything, mostly because I haven’t really had anything to talk about but also because my blog’s been getting a bloglift. I say that instead of facelift, because blogs don’t have faces. Unless you’re crazy. Which I’m not saying that I am, but even I know blogs don’t have faces.

Where was I? Oh yeah. If you’re reading via e-mail, or a blog reader do me a favor and stop by the actual blog for a moment to take a look at my new design! I’ve been working with Brea at Utterly Chaotic and she delivered with a design I absolutely love. I’m going to be shifting things around a little bit here and there so bear with me. But I am just crazy about this new design and want to give her a huge THANK YOU for working with me and being patient because I was kind of a pain in the ass.

Have a good Monday!

The GED Test – An Update.

It’s over. Six hours, two #2 pencils, and one wicked case of writer’s cramp later, my GED test is over. I did it. I filled in more little bubbles than I care to think about, wrote a five-paragraph essay, bought some cheap cafeteria food and breathed a sigh of relief when it was all said and done.

And now, I wait. I wait for three to four weeks to find out if I passed my test. I am relatively sure that I will. The only part of the test that I’m worried about is the math. I’m still terrible at math, and had to guess on a fair amount of questions. We will see what happens once I get my results. Luckily if I fail one part, I only have to take that part over rather than the whole damn test. I’m not worried about the other sections.

The next step is to fill out my financial aid paperwork and see what kind of aid I can get. After that, I’ll enroll in college in the Spring. I have no freaking clue what I’m going to study or where the experience will take me, but I feel like I have cleared the biggest hurdle – the one that’s had me jogging in place for eleven years. The GED test is officially behind me and now that it’s done, what’s left is a wide open road that could lead to a hundred different paths. And that is pretty awesome.

The GED Test

It’s been awhile since my last GED update post. In that post, I mentioned how the Fast Track class went (spoiler: it went fine except I have the math skills of a fifth grader. NOT KIDDING.).

The next step after Fast Track was the Official Practice Test. It was around four hours long, which sucked. I got lucky and instead of having to take the test the old-fashioned way (book and paper, filling in those goddamned little bubbles), I got to take it on a computer. Instead of having to take the same part of the test as everyone else, I was free to pick the order in which I completed each part. I wasn’t restricted by time; if I finished a certain section earlier than the time allotted, I could go ahead and move on to the next section instead of having to wait. It was pretty great.

Anyway. I did one part of the English sections first. I was going to save math for last because I was dreading it so much, but I decided to go ahead and get it out of the way while my brain was still relatively fresh and un-fried from test-taking.

Turns out that was a good idea, because by the time I got to the last test I was just like BE DONE BE DONE MY BRAIN IS BURNING.

Four hours of testing will do that to you.

I got my results that day. In order to qualify to take the official GED test, I had to score a minimum of 610 points in each section. I got a perfect score in my essay writing, high scores in everything else, and as for the math?

I got a 670. A whole 60 points higher than the minimum score requirement! I was honestly floored. And ecstatic. I had passed! Not only had I passed, but I passed the math by a relatively decent amount!

I got all my paperwork together to register for the test and was on my way to the local community college to secure my spot.

Tomorrow, I go for my official GED test. It’s an eight hour test, and I’m really nervous about it. I’m not worried about any other part of the test but the math. It’s been a few weeks since I took my practice test, and I really hope that everything I crammed inside my brain has stuck around for the real test. I was going to use my few weeks to study, but I never ended up doing that. Whoops. If worst comes to worst, I’ll fail the math and have to re-take that part only. Best case scenario? I pass, and will be able to enroll in college in the Spring.

Wish me luck, friends. Tomorrow I take a big step into my future!