Staying In and Staying Sane

Hey folks, just a quick check in to see how things are going. It’s been a somewhat busy week here at the Messy House. I say somewhat because the kids have been cranking out schoolwork, I’ve been insanely busy at work, and the husband has been home tackling a project or two while also keeping the little one entertained. We hustled all last week and then spent the weekend being as lazy as humanly possible…sleeping late, watching TV, and painting some art projects.

Speaking of TV, we started Tiger King.

HOLY SHIT, Y’ALL.

If you haven’t seen it, meaning you’re one of a small group by now, the show is a documentary on Netflix portraying a group of people who own Tiger Zoos in the south. Most have other animals as well, but the focus appears on tigers, leopards, lions, and other big cats. Every person they document is a little insane, and certainly a character, the main one being a guy named Joe Exotic. Now, if any of you told me that after such a good start to 2020 I’d fine myself locked in my house with my family, working, homeschooling, trying to survive a pandemic, all while winding down my evenings watching a gay, gun toting, polygamist tiger zoo owner who does meth and wears sequin shirts, I’d have laughed at the absurdity. Strangely, that’s my life now. While I’m disturbed at how many of these “big cat” parks are run, I have found that the cast of characters and craziness the show reflects has brought a welcome distraction from the stress of the current climate. My husband and I sat with incredulous looks on our faces, laughing throughout the series. Honestly, I was sad when we got to the last episode and have now resulted to watching Joe Exotic’s internet shows for a fix.

I think on the whole, we’re coping ok. While I’m plowing through work, my husband has been tackling some jobs around the house. So this is what it’s like having a husband who is at home a lot! My husband normally works insane hours and we’re pretty much like 2 ships passing each other in the night. I’ve gotten used to handling much of the daily things on my own. Having him home has been really helpful, and has taken a lot of the edge off me because I’ve been so busy with work. I suspect that when things go back to normal and he goes back to work that we’re all going to struggle with it, especially my daughter, who is thoroughly enjoying having her dad around. It also has made me a bit sad for the fact he has sacrificed so much when it comes to our family all these years. I’m happy he’s home for now, and feel relieved to know he is safely here.

Social media is full of the doom and gloom (aside from Tiger King memes, and thank God for those!) and so is the news. It’s also become increasingly obvious that the info you get from certain politicians is not aligning with the news coming out from our medical community. I trust the people who are on the front lines over those in cushy government offices. When you see and hear what our Drs and nurses say, you become inherently aware of just how scary all of this is. What’s maddening is the number of people who just disregard all the guidelines and recommendations. You start to see that the amount of people who are just garbage human beings is higher than you thought, but then you also see the helpers, the ones who bring help and cheer as well.

I had a conversation with several people who all said they are having dreams of being “out of control”, whether it was being unable to steer a runaway car, dreaming of all their teeth falling out, and many others. It shows that our minds are struggling to cope with what’s going on. Rainy days and bad weather doesn’t help when you feel trapped in your house.

As for me, we are participating in little neighborhood silly activities that bring a feeling of solidarity and hope. I’ve found my daughter and I in particular enjoy a somewhat silly activity that was started which is where at 8 pm, many neighbors come out and ring bells for 2 minutes from their front step. Every night you can step out in the fresh air and hear the twinkle of bells around the neighborhood…all neighbors in solidarity reminding each other that while it can feel quite lonely, we’re all here in this together. There’s a family or two across the way who is too far to hear them, so my daughter and I hop in the car to do a “drive by ringing” for the kids at that house. They cheer and ring their bells, and look forward to it every night. Honestly, we do too! We do a quick spin around the neighborhood streets, ringing our bells out the window and waving to everyone. Such a silly thing, but you should see the smiles on everyone’s faces. It’s our routine, it makes us smile, and we all look forward to it.

Tomorrow we have a birthday parade to attend by a little boy’s house where we will hold up hand made signs, cheer, and drive by his house to wish him a happy birthday. Again, a silly, simple act, meant to bring a smile to a little one. I’m happy to do it.

All in all, we’re hanging in there. Staying busy, staying happy, and doing the best we can. I hope you are too.

The Buzz Continues

Thanksgiving weekend is finally over, and I am positively buzzing with energy, which is surprising really, as I may have a bit of a stomach bug. Mentally, I’m in a great space, which also is surprising as I’m once again learning that I need to pay a bit closer attention to actions and less to words. Regardless, I feel like I’m going to come out of all of it just fine.

The weekend started with my daughter and I doing some baking and cooking for the holiday. She’s one of those kids who at the end of the day, really just wants to hang out with the adults she loves. It doesn’t much matter what she is doing, she just wants to help and be involved. She enjoys helping me cook, and I know it will serve her well when she gets older. I didn’t have much desire to learn how to cook when I was her age. Then I moved, my mom passed away, and I really learned how to do most dishes after I got married. My daughter will be ahead of the game. Even my son is learning to cook and happily will make a meal. After we finished, we packed up our goodies and went to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was a laid back day full of amazing food and loads of laughter. Occasionally after dinner, a few of us will do a little late night shopping, but this year I had to bail because I had packing to do, as well as some jobs around the house to prep for the weekend.

Friday, the kids and I headed up north to visit my dad, stepmother, and her family. After the married, this became a bi annual tradition. We also get together over the summer as well before the kids go back to school. They have truly become family and it’s always a good time filled with food, wine, and fun. This year the huge group of us went to see Frozen 2, and then topped off the night with a Christmas parade. The little town we were in is really quaint and beautiful, and the crisp air made everything just perfect. We all headed back to the house to allow the kids to run and play (there are 7 in total now) before we had dinner.

It was lovely to see my dad, as I haven’t been able to see him much this year. Even when we met up in the UK for my grandfather’s funeral, it was a busy time for both of us and we didn’t get a ton of time to spend together. This weekend, he seemed much more relaxed than the last time I had seen him and we had some really good conversations. I felt lighter and refreshed after having talked with him. I’m truly lucky to have him. He always has my back and is certainly a calming force.

The weekend trip was filled with great food, delicious wines, and great people. The kids had a great time and got along really well, being silly and joking with each other more than usual. The quiet and peace allowed me to mull over some things.

For starters, I took a little time to pause and mull over some changes that need to be made. My focus is on my little family of four, and my feeling is we need to make choices based on what’s best for us. Not everyone will like it, but I always feel that people who love you want the best for you. I feel the time is coming to start moving and shaking and getting things in a better place than they were. The chips are landing in just such a way that I am excited to finally be able to make some changes to really improve our lives. It’s exciting, and I feel light weights are being lifted. Each small step leads towards an end goal.

After coming home mentally refreshed (although physically not feeling so great), I was able to do a little Christmas shopping. I love Christmas shopping. Well, let me refrain, I love online shopping. The stores kick in my anxiety this time of year. I was able to pick up a few needed items for the husband and kids, which made me feel elated, some of them I am really excited about giving. I’m really trying to budget myself and pace myself out this holiday season. I’ve found that Christmas doesn’t really work well with my procrastinating nature. I’m terrible at pacing myself, and always end up stressed out, trying to tackle a million projects at the last minute. There is always so much to do in December. This year, I’m setting myself a goal to do a few things each day, so that I can spread the work out over a month. I’m already tackling my list, bit by bit, and it’s got me feeling excited for the season rather than stressed out. Again, small changes towards a bigger goal.

Now that I have my mind in a great place, it’s time to start making other changes too. It’s refreshing, and I feel much less stressed with each step I take. I have a good feeling that within the next year, I’m going to feel some big weights lifted off my shoulders. I’m ecstatic. I don’t know what it is about this time of year. It’s cozy and comfy, but it also feels like a hibernation that prepares us for the changing year ahead. I’m hopeful to get a head start on what’s to come. I know I’m mentioning change, and haven’t specified a whole lot of what change will be coming, but I’ll expand upon them as time progresses.

For now, it’s time to circle em up, look after the ones who look after us, and focus on betterment of not only myself, but my little family as well. After all, winter is coming.

Burned out

Some days, I amaze myself with all I get done. Granted, it’s not always pretty….some days things get done by the skin of my teeth, me sliding into the parking lot at the last minute, and there may or may not be some blood, sweat and tears involved. Still, I get it done, or at least, I get an awful lot done. Other days, it’s harder. Sometimes, I just go and go until there is no more “go to give”, and I just sort of ground to a halt.

I’m at a halt. I’m torn between calm focus, vs the choice to turn everything upside down and shake things up. Sometimes you just need to go inward and regroup, and other times, you need to go “whirling dervish” and see where the chips land.

Getting burned out is a very real thing. I know when that feeling hits because suddenly, I just want to stop everything. I am no longer my (somewhat) patient self, and I get real tired of nonsense real quick. My inner dialogue gets more cynical, more sarcastic, and I get a very real urge to shake things up. The urge for a change of scenery is growing, and for the first time in a long time, I’m looking at what our lives could be like if we moved. I wonder what fresh places, fresh starts, and new surroundings would feel like. Then again, I like my familiar. See? ANTSY.

An introvert by nature, I know when the burnout is headed my way. Too much people-ing is a surefire way to make me want to hibernate. The past few weeks, even Facebook is becoming a bit of a chore. This weekend I cut back on it significantly and realized I was a bit happier for doing so. I’ve started hiding people who are exhausting. I’m starting to pay closer attention to the finer details about people. Behavior will always outweigh words. If someone is a garbage human being, I need to step away from that permanently. If someone aligns themselves with garbage human beings, I have to question who they really are as well. I’ve spent my life being far too tolerant of people’s nonsense because somewhere along the line I convinced myself that everyone is inherently good. Sadly, I’ve now learned that’s false, and that some people are just inherently twats, and it’s better to get away from them. When I’m feeling burned out is when I most want to circle my wagons and just keep the tried and true folks around me. Honestly, I should keep ’em circled.

I look around at all the jobs I need to do, and frankly, I think it’s time to step back, do some self care, and focus on things that either REALLY need doing, or things that would just bring in joy. Life is too short not to find the joy in the every day. I have a couple of projects lined up for this month. Neither are quite a NEED to do, but both are a WANT to do, so I’m choosing to focus on the wants for a couple of weeks. A bit of elbow grease and some focus, and I think it will help rejuvenate my mood. Of course, there are the “need to do” jobs, and they will get done I suppose, because at the end of the day we all feel better when we can cross some of those off our list as well.

In Denmark they practice a Hygge lifestyle which is the art of finding coziness and contentment in the every day. Candles, books, a fire in the fireplace, comfortable clothes, blankets, and good company. Sounds heavenly, no? After reading up about Hygge (I’ve seen this pronounced “HOO-ga” and “HUE-guh” it sounds like just what the doctor ordered, especially on the cold, bitter days of winter. It also explaines why Danes are noted as being some of the happiest people in the world.

So for me, during this little burnout stage, it’s Hygge, my close trusted friends, my family, and some quiet while I get myself feeling recharged. Whether I’ll go calm, or whether I’ll shake things up remains to be seen, but at the very least, I’m eager to reset myself and start preparing for the magic of the holidays.

Halloween on Halloween, dammit!

Some of my blog posts are sparked by things I see on social media. Let’s be honest, spend some time on social media and you’ll see all the crazies come out to play. Now I have spent significant time clearing crazy out of my personal life, but I must admit I enjoy a certain amount of “people watching” when it comes to the crazy, from a distance, of course, which social media allows you to do.

Now on this week’s episode of crazy watching, we had not one, not two, but TONS of sanctimommies up in arms and ready for action. Why, you ask? Because the weather forecast called for rain on Halloween, and this was simply not acceptable. Their solution? Move the holiday to another day so that their child won’t get dampened by Trick or Treating. Now, this wasn’t a case of “oh boo, it’s raining so I have to find an alternative plan to take my kids trick or treating because I don’t want to walk in the rain. This was a whole MOVEMENT where women called town hall and their representatives to MOVE a holiday for everyone else so their snookums didn’t get damp. Some comments I actually saw: “wet leaves are SLIPPERY!” and “I spent over $60 on my child’s costume!”

Let me preface what I am about to say by saying I am all for a kinder, more inclusive society. I am all for everyone being equal, for accepting differences, and I teach my children as such. Now, that being said, I am concerned that our quests to raise a kinder, gentler group of children mean that we are hovering too much over our kids. In our quest to give our children an easier life than perhaps we had, we are helicopter parenting, trying to remove obstacles, while believing we are being better parents than prior generations, and frankly, I’m not sure that’s the case.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll remember I ventured out to try to be more of a free range parent on certain levels. I had realized at one point, that things I did with great confidence and ease as a child, my kids didn’t/couldn’t do, simply because I’d never given them space too. In my quest to protect them, keep them safe, and be helpful, I was instead keeping them a bit stunted in some areas, where they didn’t have certain skills because they’d never had to learn them. I am a child of the 80’s, and parents back then were very live and let live with their kids. We rode bikes without helmets, car seats were lacking, and we were outside playing all the time until the street lights came on. I’m quite confident there were times my parents weren’t entirely sure where I was all the time, but they rested easy knowing I knew the rules and would be home on time. Ever watch an 80’s movie with your kids and hear their commentary on it? They think some of what we did as kids was completely implausible because they could never do those things now. Of course, when you know better, you do better, and certain things are leaps and bounds safety wise nowadays. But some things, like kids being outside playing all afternoon, and being street smart in the suburbs aren’t quite as common as they used to be. And I think it’s sad.

As a child, my mom and dad taught me to navigate airports, neighborhoods, and spaces. I was encouraged to explore, read the signs, and I learned to get around where I was. I knew who to look for if I got lost or ran into trouble. There was always a loose plan in place. I am so grateful for that push to be independent and responsible for myself. I have grown up feeling confident I can navigate where I need to go, can handle travelling (despite my dislike of flying I am good at getting myself wherever I need to go). They taught me a love of exploring, and the confidence to feel secure while doing so. It was one of the best gifts they ever gave me.

Now we have parents who are afraid their child will step on a wet leaf.

I have to ask myself, what will these children do when they grow up and enter adulthood? Will they call out of work because leaves are slippery?

If you’ve been a reader of this blog a while, you’ll remember that my first foray into letting the kids roam the neighborhood with other kids resulted in my daughter going momentarily missing. She had simply gone down to her friend’s house and gone to play in their back yard. I didn’t know that, however, and panicked when I couldn’t see her. I called the police. You know, I got some snide and nasty comments by some people locally for “losing my daughter”. Folks love to judge, right? But you know who I DIDN’T get a harsh word from? The police officer who came to help me find her. She was found moments after they arrived, and the cop pulled me aside to tell me I had done the right thing. He told me to not let the one bad experience change my mind, and to continue to let my kids play out in the neighborhood with their friends. He told me the police are seeing a trend with all the overbearing parenting that is causing kids to not function as well if their parents aren’t there. “If a parent is late picking up their kid, the kids are melting down and panic stricken.” he said, because they aren’t used to not having the parent right there all the time. He advised that kids don’t have the same street smarts, and aren’t as independent and responsible, which causes them to get into deeper issues as they “follow the group” because that’s all they know. I’m still learning to navigate some of this free range parenting, and I’m finding that there are ways to meet in the middle.

I look around me and see that there are two sides that are vastly opposite. One side, sadly, has parents who simply shouldn’t be parents. They aren’t involved, don’t care to be involved, and frankly, are really just shit parents. Then you have the opposite side, parents who will fill out their teen’s job applications and do follow up calls on their child’s behalf on a job interview. What we are left with from both extremes are non functioning adults.

Now, you may think I’m taking it a bit far, but honestly, some of our youth are going to struggle. The world is often a pretty harsh place. While in many ways it’s getting better, by the same token, people soon grow tired of dealing with entitled, babyish, non functioning adults. When your coworker has their mom call them out sick, or can’t come in because it’s raining…how long is that person going to be employed?

When we have to discuss moving a holiday because it might drizzle, we have a big problem. When kids can’t go outside in the rain for fear of a wet leaf, we have a problem. When people are so determined that their child not get their costume (THAT THEY WILL WEAR ONE DAY, MAYBE 2, OUT OF AN ENTIRE YEAR) wet that they call town hall and demand the day get postponed, I have to question our sanity as a nation. The level of tunnel vision and self entitlement is strong, and kind of frightening.

We need to teach our children that life has challenges, and that they need to problem solve to ride up and overcome those challenges. You know, like….carry an umbrella.

Happily, Halloween was celebrated on Halloween this year. Common sense prevailed, and the weather actually broke to give us a few hours of dry time. We had a house full of people as usual, family and friends coming together to haunt the neighborhood, give out candy, and make the night a little extra special. I always say Halloween is my husband’s holiday in the family, because it might just be his favorite. Yet I too have a deep love for the traditions we’ve started, and the plans we’ve made to go even bigger next year!

Even a little rain won’t dampen our fun!

Damn you, picture day.

Tomorrow is picture day at school.

I hate picture day with all I am, and all I will be.

Each year, I spend a ridiculous amount of money for school pictures, of which I give away just a couple. It just never occurs to me to carry around pictures of my kids to give away. It almost seems like a bit of an odd tradition, considering we now have cell phones with amazing cameras where we can take spontaneous, candid, amazing photos. Still, I shell out a stupid amount of money for my children to force a smile and inevitably not look quite like themselves, and me to get documented proof of this. Yet that’s not even why I hate picture day.

Picture day is a day where we break out of school uniform, and somehow that makes it seem a bit more special. On top of that, I have a young daughter who loves clothing and fashion. Her style can best be described as Vegas with a touch of redneck. She loves all things sparkly, bright, and leopard print is an ultimate favorite. She also loves cowboy boots and flannel shirts. Things don’t have to match with her, and growing up if she was allowed free reign on her clothes she would look like she stepped out of a carnival. Add to that the fact she is stubborn and strong willed, we have had our fair share of disagreements when it comes to picture day choices.

This year, I decided to cave a little. I wanted to be the awesome mom. I wanted this year to go smoothly and to make that smile on picture day a bit more genuine.

I decided to step back, and allow my little girl to go pick out an outfit from the store. Her choice. She was beaming as we hopped into the car.

An hour later, I was consoling her and wiping away tears.

What set out to be an awesome bonding experience where I could allow her to express herself (and also I could learn a bit about what her style really is before the holidays roll around) turned out to be rather defeatist and upsetting.

You see, folks, she’s built like I was when I was a kid. As a little kid, I was short, stocky, and I had a little belly. I was solid. I envied those tall, lithe girls who could fit in anything and always looked stylish. I never grew that tall and frankly, I’m still a little stocky. Now, full disclosure….I’m about a size 10-14 depending on the brand and the item. I like to joke I’m a potato body. I suppose they call it an apple body. I have big boobs, a bit of a pooch, and sort of a flat butt. My legs are pretty thin, and I’ve always gotten compliments on them, but if you ask me, they don’t quite match the top of me. Now add to this the fact I barely hit 5’3. For the most part, I’ve come to terms with my body and am actually quite amazed at all it has accomplished and gone through. There are moments, however, when I get frustrated at how difficult it is to DRESS this body, because sometimes what I like is not what this body looks good in.

My daughter is petite, has a little belly and is solid. She has a little round butt I would have loved to have had when I was a kid (and would still love to have as an adult!) and of course, puberty is around the corner. Her body is strong and fierce. It does splits, handsprings, cartwheels, and balances on a beam. It stands tall in the stirrups and holds a sense of confidence on a horse. When she sits in the saddle, the horse relaxes as they feel a tiny, solid and confident little person up there. She has long, curly blond hair with streaks of the summer running through it, greenish blue eyes, and a huge smile. She is all the things I wish I was when I was her age.

Yet when we went from dressing room to dressing room, trying on all types of items and sizes, my girl felt like her body didn’t fit in. The jeans all were too long. The shirts were cropped and boxy, which weren’t flattering. If it fit in one place, it didn’t fit in another. And my sweet girl began to cry.

“Mama, I’m fat” “I’m too short, and too fat”.

And my heart shattered into a million pieces.

I try to be very careful about how I speak about myself to my kids. They often make fun of how short I am, and both have outwardly said they hope they get my husband’s height. I have always been quite unbothered by being short, and tell them so all the time. In fact, for me, I’m happy being short (except for the fact I have to find an evening gown and NONE are cut for short people). I’m usually ok about my body, and I always promote being healthy and strong over being skinny. Of course, I have had my bad moments. I got really hard on myself the other week after gaining some weight, and when I said something my husband jumped on me about it, reminding that she hears me and I shouldn’t say things like that about myself anyway, but certainly not in front of her. I sat down and had a long conversation with her about it. I explained I was upset with myself because I wasn’t treating myself well, and wasn’t being as healthy as I should. I regret my initial failure though, because I’m sure some of it stuck with her.

The girls on tv, in magazines, online and everywhere around her, well they are all sort of typecast as tall, thin, stick straight girls. Everywhere she looks, and even in the stores, the world is telling her that tall and thin is in. It’s no different that being a grown woman. The clothes are all for taller people, skinny people, and really not cut for me. She tried on item after item, and nothing made her feel great. She cried. We talked.

I explained that she is beautiful and strong. I went over all the amazing and difficult things she can do with her body. I explained how I wish I had her butt, her long beautiful hair, and her strength. I also explained how her body is gearing up for changes, and that the next year or so might get a little frustrating clothing wise, but she’ll find her element. We also discussed marketing, and how companies photoshop people.

She thanked me for taking her. She thanked me for the shirt she picked out, and we planned her outfit together. I think she was happy. I’m just sad that what could have been a great experience was frustrating, exhausting, and sad for her, as well as me.

Side note, I’m hardly on Instagram but I did find a cool page called (I believe) @beauty.false. The page shows you the unphotoshopped version and the photoshopped version of people. It’s pretty eye opening that what we see isn’t even what we are really seeing.

Now where can one get short length jeans for a young girl?

In the meantime, I hope that the positives of today outweigh the negatives, and that my girl has a big, real smile on picture day. I think she’s beautiful just the way she is.

Body Says No.

It’s been a busy…well, lifetime, really. I know, I jest (sort of) but the past several months have really kicked into full gear. I won’t bore you all with the details, as I have been honest about my chaotic, messy life in many posts, but there are days when I miss simply plopping on the couch to watch TV that isn’t Disney related. Other days, I miss feeling like I had all the time in the world to get chores done.

The reality is that I am constantly running from task to task, which seems odd because my very goal was to never be one of those moms. I never wanted to be that mom who scheduled her kids for tons of activities. I never wanted to be super scheduled. I swore I wouldn’t overschedule myself or race from place to place. I wanted to be the calm, laid back mom. The very concept of racing from sport to sport, activity to activity looked exhausting. I have friends that do it, and as they list off their schedules I cringe. While I have limited the kids’ activities to usually one thing a season (which still took up crazy amounts of time…football I’m talking to you!) which suited them perfectly, I still feel like I am always on the go. The little does gymnastics and horseback riding, and has done so for some time. Those take up relatively little amount of time, but she does really well at both and loves both as well. The boy child has taken time off from sports, and is practicing the whole teenager goal of hanging with friends, riding his bike, or skateboarding. This means that much of my time is spent driving kids places on the weekends, or working on the closet donations at night. The fact is, I’ve done well at not overscheduling the kids. The problem is that it’s me who feels overscheduled.

The other day someone asked me a question, and I pulled out my phone to check my calendar. Trying to coordinate things is becoming more and more difficult. I’m a full time working mom, working on a big project doing most of the physical work myself, and also trying to mom up. It’s a lot. Add on those unforseen life moments that are hard and stressful in and of themselves, and I wore myself too thin. When I refused to acknowledge that I was overextending myself, and that I had to pause to do right by myself, my body stepped in and brought things to a halt.

It was quite funny and quite disturbing, all at once.

I awoke Friday feeling stuffy and out of sorts. By Friday night, I had pins and needles throughout my left hand. Numbness set in. I believe it was last year (time just rolls on these days and I have to constantly check dates) I started losing feeling in my ring and pinkie finger on my left hand. I would awaken with numb fingers a few times a week. Then one day, the numbness didn’t go away. Several dr visits later, I was told my nerve was getting pinched in my elbow. The Dr’s recommendation? Keep my arm straight. Do you have any idea how awkward and unnatural it is to keep your arm straight all the time? I wore a brace to keep it straight, and we hoped the nerve would repair itself. Fortunately it did. Then last week is started creeping up again, only then the whole hand went numb. This unnerved me, but I assumed it may be combination of carpal tunnel plus the elbow issue. In other words, I am a hot boo boo mess.

Saturday, my bestie, who knows all of what’s going on in my life, invited me over to test out her new hot tub. I settled in and we talked for ages. I hadn’t paused myself like that to do something so luxurious in quite some time. All the jobs at home went undone, because I felt like perhaps I needed to pause life a bit and just try to relax. By Saturday night, my son arrived home and I mentioned how tired I felt, but I had to wait for my daughter to get home. He looked me in the eye and said “mom, I love you but you look like garbage. Go lay down and I’ll wait up for her”. I was so grateful. Just then my husband came home, and I was sent to rest.

Sunday, I was still stuffy and numb, but felt more rested. My knees decided they’d had enough as well, and both started to ache. Ahh the joys of getting older, eh? Today I worked, but tonight I’m resting again. To hell with the jobs around the house. I’m stuffy, numb, and limping. I’m afraid if I don’t listen to what my body is saying it’s going to take me out completely.

I knew I was struggling to quiet my mind when I was kept up the other night by the random thought of “what is the etymology of Orange?” “Who came up with the word orange, both as a color and as a fruit? Who said it first?”

When the brain is overworked, the body will crap out and put a stop to things. Mine has decided it needs an episode of Love Island Uk, some family chats with my cousins and an early night. I’m renaming myself BitchyMcNumbFingers for the time being.

Drag me to filth. Please?

This past weekend (and the past few years) I attended DragCon in New York City. Every year, I make the trek out there via train, and the experience is always a fabulous one. This year was no exception.

Part of the reason I love traveling so much is to get out of my comfort zone a bit, but also to see new things. I’ve never much understood people who don’t want to expand their horizons and viewpoints. Drag to me is fun, exciting, and an art form. I love the illusion of it. I love watching the skill of the makeup techniques and clothing designs. There is so much care, thought and artistry, especially with seasoned drag queens, that it is pure energy. The queens are bold, bright, and glittery. They wear their art. I have always perked up when seeing a drag queen, but was always interested by RuPaul as he/she broke into the mainstream, which was quite groundbreaking. Everyone seems to know who RuPaul is! Well, when Drag Race, Rupaul’s competition show came out, I was front row and center by the TV watching. I’ve watched (and loved) every season. (If you’re one of those people who still gets offended in this day and age, I’m clearly not one of your people. You don’t know what you are missing, and I can tell you as a straight woman, the LGBTQ community is amazing and just wants the same rights as you. They know you’re not gay, they don’t want to convert you. They just want to be treated like everyone else. Hate has no home here.)

When I saw there was not only a drag convention, but that it was in the northeast, I was incredibly excited. I’m close enough to NY that I could go. I came, I saw, I LOVED it, and I’ve been going ever since. Sadly I can usually only go for one day, normally a Sunday, but I manage to pack in quite a lot during the time I am there.

This year, as in some years past, I went with one of my sister in laws. Her and I both have a love of all things drag, and we were both excited to go. Unfortunately, I initially missed the train I was supposed to meet her on, so I had to drive about 20 minutes to “outrun” the train and catch it at a further station. I JUST made it, and we sat chatting and planning what we wanted to do and see. My first goal? CAFFEINE. I had been out late the night before seeing the movie IT with a big group of family and friends, and I didn’t get to bed until 3AM. As soon as we arrived, I popped into Starbucks for a drink I had seen people raving about called a pumpkin cream cold brew.

Y’all…..

It’s DELISH. Not too sweet, perfectly smooth, and it lived up to the hype. I also love the new cups Starbucks has for them which is basically an adult sippy cup. No straw needed and it’s perfect. Once we got our coffee, we cabbed it to the Javits center.

When you arrive at DragCon, there is an electric energy that pulses around the room. The convention was held at the Javits center which is MASSIVE. As you enter the convention area, you can see an enormous pink carpet down the middle. Sequins, sparkles, bright colors abound. What you also sense upon walking in is a sense of freedom to be unequivocally oneself. In a world where so many live in the prison of worrying about what other’s think or spending time keeping up with the Jones’, this environment feels electrifying.

Drag queens from the show RupPaul’s Drag Race are located in booths throughout the venue. The queens most recently on the show, or recent winners typically had the busiest booths. Some who I believe would have been busier had shorter lines due to a high minimum amount to take a picture with the queen and meet them. That seemed to be a theme. The queens with lower minimums (buy something for $5 and still get a meet and picture) had quick, massive lines while others had shorter, expensive minimum lines. People were making money, but I can’t help but wonder which style of handling the merch and meet came up ahead. Vanjie had a long line with a $40 minimum to meet her. Scarlett Envy had a shorter line, but still a $30 or so minimum. Both were recent members of the show. Willam, a queen has had quite some controversy, was a queen we were surprised but excited to see. Willam’s booth had a decent sized line that moved quickly and efficiently. The helper’s kept things moving, and gave instructions. Willam took really well done selfies with each person, with Willam holding the phone. Honestly, the pics were great. Some queens I wanted to meet, I didn’t because I do get rather shy and awkward. I never really know what to say. Some had booths that kept them hidden behind curtains, so your only chance to see them was to pay up. This always makes me a bit sad, but I get it. Drag is not only an art form, but a business as well. It’s a fine line to keep your fans feeling appreciated while still bringing in the money. Every queen we encountered was lovely.

While the convention focuses on queens from the show, my favorite part is to look for local, non show queens, as this is often where the magic is. Local queens roam the floor and are often very eager to take pictures with attendees. One year I met Kari Kerning, who made me giggle with her amazing bee keeper outfit. Last year I met Selma Nilla, who donned a pig nose and smile. This year I had two favorites, but I didn’t catch their names. I loved their creativity and execution. Part Halloweeny, part art, Both caught my eye and I just HAD to take a picture.

I roamed the booths and ended up near the stage where they held a pole dancing competition in which both men and women competed. The MC was fantastic and made me laugh. One of the dancers, a male, was so impressive I had to take a video to show my sister in law, who had gone to another section. The strength, grace, and skill he had was unmatched. I don’t know how he didn’t win because I was mesmerized watching him maneuver seemingly effortlessly. It’s not everyone that can hold a pole and position themselves parallel to the floor at the top of the pole and wave like a flag using only their hands to hold on. It was UNREAL.

Did I buy anything? Yes, I did. I stepped out of my comfort zone and bought a wig. It’s long with big curls and it’s sassy. I love it. It’s the first lace front wig I have ever owned and while I need to practice at putting it on, I love it. I also bought some gorgeous fake lashes. I came home with loads of complimentary free hair care and skin care samples, pots of glitter, and other goodies.

There was so much to see and do that we worked up quite an appetite. After bidding some lovely friends of my SIL goodbye, she and I grabbed a cab to surprise my daughter and my niece who were on a special trip to NY with my daughter’s aunt and uncle. We walked into the restaurant to big smiles and hurried chatter of their day’s events. After hugs and kisses, they headed off to the train while we headed to Tea and Sympathy, my favorite British tea shop. Located on Greenwich Ave, there is a small shop that sells British sweets and items. To the left is A Salt and Battery, an authentic British fish and chip shop. It’s one of my favorite places in NY. It’s not fancy, but I can confirm that it feels and tastes just like a local fish and chip shop in England. It takes me right back to childhood when we would arrive in England and run to the “chippy” for fish and chips wrapped in paper. To the right of the shop is Tea and Sympathy, a litte tea shop that makes all sorts of British food, my most favorite being the Rhubarb crumble drowned in hot custard. It’s an expats dream. The bread there is divine, and everything tastes great. The rhubarb crumble has now become a post drag con staple. We settled in to choose our meals while discussing the days’ events. We also commented how we had seen a drag legend, Lady Bunny, on instagram frequenting T&S and mentioned how great it would be if the famous Bunny might stop by. We knew she lived locally, but wondered if we might even recognize Bunny out of drag. It’s very rare to see or hear of LB out of drag. This night, my SIL were ravenous because neither of us had eaten all day. We each got the “Sunday Roast” which had hot roast beef, fresh peas, broccoli, roasted potatoes and yorkshire pudding. It was filling and divine. While surprisingly a bit pricy compared to what I’m used to, it hit the spot and was really delicious.

When we left, I think we then had one of my favorite moments of the day. While wandering down a street, my SIL paused to get her bearings. As she paused to look at the signs, something shiny caught my eye. It was a sequined dress. I glanced up and saw that the person had the BIGGEST blond wig I had ever seen. It looked just like….could it be? LADY BUNNY. “Bunny! Lady Bunny! Bunny!” I tried to say quickly to my SIL. She spun around to see what I was looking at. I swear we thought we had seen a unicorn. We rushed over by the door she had slipped through and through the window we saw the tail end of a shiny sequined dress step through another doorway. Just like that, the person was gone. Now I can’t say for sure it was LB, but the odds are quite good considering the size of that wig. To honor Bunny’s privacy, I won’t say where exactly we saw her, but for us it was quite a magical moment. After all, hadn’t we just been saying how amazing it would be to see Lady Bunny out and about, in or out of drag? For us it was like seeing a favorite actor or actress out in public. It always makes you wonder “was that really them?”. So one of the highlights of my day? A wild spotting of a Bunny.

We took a long stroll back towards the train station but hopped the subway to get there faster. We just caught the earlier train home, and settled in for the long ride back.

Art, style, glitter, crystals, rhinestones, chaps, wigs, gowns, bodysuits, makeup, lashes, support, pride, comfort, self, drag, selfies, poledancing, jokes, laughs, smiles, coffee, thrills, walks, giggles, food, possibly bunny sightings, subway, lights, action, people watching….New York had it all.

Until next year, NY.