Tag Archives: funny

Who’s a donkey now?!

Who’s a donkey now?!

When I was in the second grade my mom bought me the coolest shirt ever. It was around 1980 and I was eight and mostly didn’t care what I wore. But this day was different, this day I was gonna wear the pink cotton poets’ shirt with my burgundy pants and my tall brown boots. That shirt felt awesome on me, soft and girly with two ties that hung down from the opening at the neck and a zig zag stitch that gathered the bottom hem. I felt stylish in that shirt, and super cool. I imagined myself turning dramatically on the play ground like I was in the opening sequence for a TV drama, like Charlie’s Angels or Dallas. I chose one very sleek and sophisticated ponytail rather than the more childish two pony tails. In my vision I probably down played my buck teeth, oversized glasses and uber thin frame. I was Wonder Woman.
I attended 2nd grade in one of the most rural and socio-economically deprived counties in the state of South Carolina. It was just a pond skip beyond the 1970s which means culturally (read: racially) it was more like the 50s. I recall the time the Klan marched right by our school. I remember looking back as those ghost like figures topped a hill just beyond our school playground. Teachers rushed us inside. I was frightened, but I didn’t know why. No one talked about it, we just missed recess that day.
The school was built decades before I arrived on that sunny day clad in my coolest of cool attire. The students had long since outgrown the size of the original buildings and portable trailers had been added on top of the dusty red clay behind the school. Covered walkways served as outdoor hallways connecting various entrances to the brick building.
On this day, as I walked through the crowded walkway I heard a voice from the top of the stairs call my name. Believing that it must be an admirer I turned to see who desired my attention. It was a dirty, stringy haired blond girl who I didn’t know well, but I must have upset her in some 8 year old way that day. Perhaps I made her laugh and chocolate milk came out of her nose and embarrassed her. Whatever the reason, she called out at the top of her tiny dirty voice ” donkey!” To me, star of an unnamed tv drama!? So I did what any scrappy (and well dressed) 8 year old would do. I turned around and shouted back “donkey!” This went back and forth a few times until it occurred to me that I had continued to walk backwards while taunting her. So I turned quickly around in order to get back in my class’ line. Unfortunately it was at that very moment that one of the support beams for the covered walkway happened to be directly and unavoidably in my path. I crashed face first hard into that pole. Blood exploded from my nose and mouth.
My poor mother worked at the school and they quickly called her into the bathroom where I had been rushed. There I stood covered in blood, my mother gasped, not knowing where the blood stopped and my mangled face began. Blood dripped profusely down onto my favorite shirt.
I got to go home early and convalesce on my sofa, defeated in what felt like my finest hour. I iced my nose and fat lip for what remained of the day, probably fortunate that nothing was broken or required stitching. The last time I saw the coolest shirt ever it was floating in a plastic tub full of cloudy water. The bloodstains never came out. It was a sharp reminder that I would be many things throughout my life but cool was probably never going to be one of them.




Have you ever read the Buddhist tale about the man whose son breaks his leg while riding his horse and everyone says “what bad luck.” And then because of his broken leg he is not able to enlist in the army and go off to war where he would potentially die. People say, ” what good luck” and then his father has to go in his place and so on. There is no good luck or bad luck, only luck says the moral of the story.  This week has been all kinds of what seems like bad luck has been good and what seemed good turned out to be both good and bad.

Perspective is the name of the game.

I am renovating my kitchen which is all good, except for the inconvenience, the cost and oh, the giant section of rotten wood under my wood floor. Still better to find out this way than creating a me shaped hole in the floor at some point. renovations always take longer and cost more than you anticipate in the beginning.  That is true for kitchens as well as for people.

I’m still in repair as I cast my gaze towards the two year anniversary, there is still work to be done and it feels like healing takes forever.  But taking all the steps is still really important. I don’t want to cover over my rotten feelings only for someone else to find them later.  Surprise there is a giant hole here.  Careful you don’t fall in.

if I had three wishes it would be for a  faster, more predictable healing schedule, that I had not had to March out of three different rooms to get the quiet space to type this post and for thinner thighs and abs.  If I had four wishes I’d wish for world peace.

New year blah blah blah

New year blah blah blah

Ok. So I took a break. A long break. funny thing about digging at the truth at some point it feels better to bury a little truth. Make fun of the pain, go back to pretending, heal quietly, run away.  Well I’ve checked that all off the good old to do list and now I feel like I want to get back down to work. Although I hesitate to start again on New Year’s Eve because that is simply asking for failure. New Years resolutions don’t usually work. It like valentines day for people who want to quit smoking or lose 20 pounds. It’s contrived and we are not really fooling anyone, mostly our hearts are not in it, but it feels like the right thing to do. Start new on New Years give flowers on valentines. I’ve never really liked either one.

However it seems like a time that is as good as any to refocus. And honestly, this is the hardest part of the year for me, always has been. I don’t like transitions, I don’t like beginnings and I certainly don’t like endings. So post Christmas let down coupled with year end hatred coupled with facing the second anniversary of Chris’ death means I gotta be proactive. Get ahead of the ghosts. And this is a healthy and productive way to do that. Write. Right.

Also I planned a trip to disney next week. The girls and I are going away. It’s good for all of us to have something to look forward to. The winter can loom long ahead of us.

So happy new year to all of you. Do yourself a favor and don’t make any resolutions, but if you just happen to decide to start something new now or quit something tomorrow or refocus your life…you have my support.

This blog was written while driving 65MPH



There are an alarming number of activities taking place in cars. Aside from texting and making phone calls, face booking, tweetering, I’ve actually spotted someone plucking their eyebrows while swerving down Peters Creek Road. What are we doing that takes up so much time that we feel compelled to multitask while driving? Seriously, can’t we TiVo the Kardashians. A car is like a weapon when operated improperly. You wouldn’t pluck your eyebrows while waving around a cocked gun, now would you?  

The trouble with writing the truth is sometimes Im not really ready for the truth to come bubbling out of me. Then I start making excuses for why I don’t have time to write, or why I write about how annoying I find drivers. There’s a good reason why the truth stays hidden, it hurts. So opening myself up to the truth has kinda paralyzed me for the moment. When I first wrote the little humorous piece about driving I thought I was being balanced. A little serious, a little funny mix and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. But the dish comes out tasting horrible, and its impossible to digest. And that’s when it hits me, the two topics are not so far apart. We live to be distracted, so much so that we don’t even stay present when we are driving. So many of us fill our lives with so many layers of distraction so we never really engage in anything.  But the truth finds a way, just like the all female dinosaurs reproducing in Jurassic Park. The truth has a way of birthing itself. Sure it finds itself in our complaints about drivers, but if I can stop texting long enough to peel back the layers, I know i will find my reluctance to engage in my truth. 

Free hugs and a kitten


ImageWell everything is back in full swing here at the Trowell/Pressley compound. Folks are irritated and I said “because I said so” for the first time in almost a week. And this conversation:

13 year old: Just one more hour to go. 

Me: Good.
13: what?!
Me ( a little louder): Good. 
13:(exasperated) I couldn’t hear you. 
Me: Yes I know, that’s why I repeated what I said. 
And any number of conversations like this. Each child has her own brand of selective hearing loss and equally quirky  and  irritated responses to not knowing what was said.  My middle daughter talks to my youngest daughter in the exact same tone of voice that I recall my grandmother talking to my nearly deaf great grandmother after years of repeating herself.  Think of the way you might talk to someone who doesn’t speak English. Louder. Slower,wildly gesturing, but there is still very little being communicated. My oldest daughter flatly refuses to repeat herself at all for the youngest. Honestly our car ride conversations are borderline psychotic. The car ride also involves a lot of grunting and sighing and seat slapping. I’ve shouted, “EVERYONE STOP YELLING!” I’ve created mandatory silent times. I’ve turned the music up to drown out the bickering. In the house I can send people outside, not so many options in the car.  
And troubling bedtimes are back. My room door becomes a revolving door at night. Head ache, water, anxiety, cat food, forgotten homework, tears, cats, neck ache, sore throat, kitten stories and more. Medicine, don’t forget to breathe, out cat, out kitten, find your happy place, find my happy place, firm and direct. 


There are of course the blessings, the little moments. Middle child sat down to have a conversation with me after dinner and started off by saying, ” I love you Mom, but you know that”. The youngest proclaimed this morning that she’s lucky because she has the two most annoying sisters but the very best Mom. I’m sure they are sucking up, but ill take it. It’s comforting and familiar. After dinner as i assigned after dinner chores the littlest asked “Well, whats your job mommy.  You’re  not doing anything.”  Sure I just made the entire meal, but I replied that I had my job too.  As we finished cleaning the kitchen the youngest says, ” I’m sorry for what I said earlier, I regretted it the moment my words came out of my mouth. ” Victory! 


So many times that’s what parenting is:  little stolen victories and hope for the future. 


Gotta close. Somebody needs a final hug for the night. 


Travel blog 004


There comes a space in every trip when its time to go home. I miss my two younger daughters, and my dog, and my bed. Although the people here are friendly, they are not my friends. I miss knowing where I am going without needing a map and finding food in my fridge.  Seeing a new place always makes me want to see more new places and I dream of the day when I can return, but right now, I am looking forward to being back home with my tribe.

We did walk through the folk festival yesterday. Unlike the first two days of our trip we have now had a couple of those adolescent daughter/mother moments. I haven’t seen an eye roll yet, but at the festival she walked about 5 paces ahead of me. Once she stopped to tie her shoes and when I stopped to wait for her she said ” you can go on”. She picked out some amazing artwork that I purchased and that bought me enough coolness that she walked beside me the rest of the trip back.
After a glorious Mediterranean meal and sleep, it seems I am back to being Seattle buddy again. I offered to set out on my own this morning. M said she wanted to go with me, but added we would be close enough for her to walk back if she needed to. It’s one of the many things we share, we love people, but we love our alone time too. So I get it. And about the walking, I don’t know how many miles we’ve walked, but it’s a lot. Things ache when I wake up. I should keep walking this much when we return. Probably wont, but it’s a good idea.
So we will wrap up our final full day today. The festival provides the perfect opportunity to people watch, and smell. Beautiful thing in a city, the smells. Body odor, and deep fried PB and J, patchouli and ganja, garlicky chicken and rain. Time to go breath in Seattle and the last bonding moments with my beautiful daughter.

Travel blog003/D


A few things I’ve learned about Seattle since Wednesday at 10am.

1.  The sun NEVER sets in Seattle. You may have seen nighttime pictures of Seattle, they are photoshopped. It’s a conspiracy that people in Washington state have been obviously carrying out for centuries. I went to sleep at ten- the sun was up. I awoke at 5am- the sun was up. Obviously the sun never sets. 
2. There is no actual sun in Seattle, just less dark clouds. 
3. They LOVE coffee here. (See 1 and 2). I thought I loved coffee. In Seattle, coffee is art. 
4.  It takes much longer to throw away your trash in Seattle. Most “trash” bins are divided or there are 2-3 bins at every stop. I feel like an idiot every time I approach them. Is this trash/compost or recycling?  45 minutes later I leave smugly feeling like I’ve accomplished something. 
5.  There are no plastic bags in Seattle. They are banned and you have to pay for a paper bag!  Way to go Seattle. No one ever looks at you weird if you refuse a bag for your one item at the convenience store.
6. People are super friendly.  I have been in in-depth conversations with vendors all over the city while my 13 year old wanders away to indicate she’s done being in that store. A stranger that walked past us on the street asked if we needed anything, just because we were standing on a street corner in the rain wearing fleece jackets and looking lost. It’s beautiful. 
7.  I can’t wait to have the opportunity to come back. 
Tonight begins the folklife festival, which my daughter is obviously not into, but she keeps saying flatly “that’s an option”. We are going, we just might not stay very long. At any rate, at least we know we can walk home while the sun is still up. 


Travel blog 002


At the two hour mark the flight to Seattle became tedious for my daughter. Explaining the relevant length of a 1840s Conastoga wagon trip to our plane flight made little impact. Sigh. 

Something I’ve noticed before is that air travel is the last bastion of the feudal system. The hierarchy of classes is painfully evident from the boarding of the plane to the embarrassing walk through first class. There they sit smugly in their preferred member seating, icy cocktails already in their hands, gelled hair resting against complimentary pillows with real cloth pillowcases. Then the lowly zone four members shuffle past, not daring to allow our carryon bags brush against their starched shirts. We are the unwashed. They avert their eyes. We humbly wish for an bit of space in the overhead compartment. Alas, there is no room in the inn. Our seats are tiny, theirs less tiny. The flight attendant hovers near the thin gauzy veil that separates the haves and the have nots. What are they eating up there? I smell steak as I struggle to unwrap the plastic on my saltines. Do I hear music, see dancing? The surly man who blocks Madeleine and I in our seats glares at us as he sleeps. A baby cries out near the lavatory. I’m sure I hear a dog bark. The overhead fan mocks us by blowing stale warm air. 
After what seems a fortnight we arrive at the rainy gate. We wait solemnly yet dutifully.  What a trip they have had, those in the front, those in first class. Joke’s on them.  We have arrived too. Hello Seattle. 
It’s really lovely here. And with most trips our first task upon arriving at the airport is getting away from the airport. A light rail will take us to downtown Seattle, allowing us the slowly changing landscape of the real have nots. Grey dilapidated houses and abandoned warehouses littered with graffiti greet us. As the journey continues with each station stop the landscape improves. The houses are painted beautiful earth tones, planted flowers in raised gardens fill grassy yards. Low clouds give the feel of a cool embrace. 
BTW someone should tell Seattle winter is over. It is 46 degrees. But each sight is new to us and therefore fascinating. Even the rain and cold seem quaint and otherworldly. The space needle is of course a welcomed sight.  Seeing something that is so famous in real life makes us feel like we’ve been let into a secret world where pictures become reality. 
Having no car, M and I set out on foot.  She’s very adventurous and ready to explore without a map or directions.  She’s much more willing to just go than I ever imagined her to be. We both comment that we can feel the missing sisters and keep feeling an imagined pressure to return to them. Perhaps they wait for us in the hotel room. They are of course at home, back on the east coast.  
We had a delightful spontaneous afternoon, went up in the space needle and discovered an amazing glass garden that is not to be missed. Had overpriced burgers and discovered a consignment shop to explore. 
By four o’clock we were becoming quite punch drunk from waking at 330am EST. We giggled and spoke in slurred drunken tones. Each of us took a hot shower to prop us up through our early bird dinner at the hotel.  Sleep overtook us by six-thirty and we slept a solid 12 hours. 
Whatever will today hold?


Travel blog number 00


One of the beautiful unintended consequences of starting a blog is I am constantly thinking about writing. I am always processing my thoughts, discovering adjectives.  I am working to increase my vocabulary and playing with sentence structure to better share what my feelings and thoughts are. Without thinking or planning, I find myself reflecting intentionally about my experiences.  How does it feel, what do I smell, what are the sounds?  Which means I’m living in the moment more often. Which means I am living more.

Tomorrow at the ass-crack of dawn my newly minted 13 year old and I are boarding a plane and heading to Seattle, Washington.  I’ve never been and she’s never been and I can’t properly articulate why I choose Seattle.  That’s how my brain works though: thought goes in, body goes to the Internet and starts typing.  Thus we are on our way.  The logic behind the 515 flight has totally eluded me as I’m considering what time that means I must get up in the morning. 330! But we will arrive in Seattle at 10:30ish, we will be exhausted, but we will be on the other side of the United States. 
As travel buddies go, I’m sure M is one of the best.  She’s a planner, like her father.  I am not. So she has everyday planned out morning activities and afternoon activities and coffee breaks. I haven’t packed yet. She packed Sunday night and placed her suitcase beside the front door. She’s checked the weather report for two weeks, so that she will know what kind of clothing to pack. I bought a rain coat that is still in the bag with the tag on it. I think it’s in my closet, or maybe the back of the car. I’m sure it will all be just fine. 
Hopefully they have wireless Internet in Seattle and lots of coffee.  Ill have to ask my daughter. 


An ex-feminazi goes to Victoria secret



I went bra shopping today, which is second only to bathing suit shopping on the scale of things not to do when you’re feeling depressed. It doesn’t help that the place is covered with photoshopped pictures of beautiful women.   I want to love my body, I really do. When faced with a three way mirror though, I see every dimple magnified, every imperfection, every bit of the results of eating doughnuts. I stop seeing myself as a whole person.  True I’m 41 and I certainly couldn’t work out much less, but I don’t see myself with the same eyes that I see other women. Women are beautiful, all shapes and all sizes. Why do I look at myself with such a critical eye?  Or a better question, how do I change the way I see myself?
  I have three daughters, and I work with young girls all week.  I have a very real responsibility to change the way the next generation of girls looks at themselves. And trust me, I talk the talk with them.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion that they will do as I do, not as I say. Dammit. 

I guess it’s time for what my dear friend AH calls fake it until you make it. I know she didn’t invent the term, but she’s one of those parents I’d like to be when I grow up.  She’s one of my hero moms.  I’m fortunate to have a powerhouse of real life female heroes all around me.  My friend Wyndi is one of my hero women. 
I met Wyndi when I went to college.  She helped introduce me to the idea of feminism and gave me a heads up about the fact that the sexual revolution wasn’t over yet.  Wyndi has (and had) a knack for gathering together strong and potentially strong women. She held meetings at her apartment and talked about politics and women’s rights in a way that opened my eyes so that i could really see the world. I could probably tell you a story about the time we hung bound, gagged and blindfolded Barbie dolls around the college’s central cistern  to protest the graduation ceremony.  But I’ll save it for another post. 
During that time Wyndi assembled a group of smart, self-assured, fantastic women for a feminist theatre piece.  The whole production was overwhelmingly full of opportunities to express ourselves as strong women and challenge our personal ideas about the status quo. My costume for the production was a black Lycra cat suit, which was the onstage equivalent of a three way mirror.  At the top of the show we had to say these empowering statements about our beautiful bodies. My line-“I am comfortable with the size of my body.”  On the night of dress rehearsal, I opted to wear black jeans over my cat suit. Ironically I was not comfortable with the size of my ample butt. Wyndi had no trouble pointing out this irony to me. On opening night I strutted out in my shiny cat suit and acted like i loved the hell out of my entire body. It didn’t entirely change the way I saw myself, but it provided me the opportunity to fake it. And that provided me the opportunity to embrace my curves and redefine them as real, and as me, and as OK. 

I may not be ready to stare down the reality of the three way mirror and love all that I see. However, If you see me out you might notice I’ve got a little extra swag. Don’t be hating.  I’m faking it until I make it.