Normal is in the eye of the beholder.

Archive for the ‘Mouthy Broad’ Category

Age of Majority

In Mouthy Broad on March 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

It’s almost like learning a different language, going to work in retail after the age of 30.

I never bagged groceries or stocked shelves, as a kid. My best friend did – he grew up in a retail household. His mom ran a bakery in the local independent grocer. He went to work there at 16: pumping gas, sacking celery, shopping for neckties to meet the dress code. But I didn’t have the first clue what he did while he was on the clock.

Before I started this job, I had a vague, almost condescending respect for the people who worked in the service industries I frequented. It’s shameful to me now, but it’s a common attitude for those who have never done it. “There, but for the grace of God,” for those who have gone from a comfortable upbringing to a comfortable education to a comfortable career. It’s seen as some kind of lesser option, a last resort.

It was that for me. A last resort, to feed my family. Now, it’s what I do every day. Well, kind of. The people I work with would tell you that I still don’t work in retail. As a senior manager, I’m the “them” in the age-old “us versus them” struggle of shelf stockers versus suits. I’m not an h0urly employee, clocking in to serve my time, and then clocking out again to escape. I know how to run a cash register and an inventory scanner, but I don’t have to. It’s not in my job description to spend eight hours a day defusing cranky soccer moms with screaming toddlers who need someone to scream at themselves.

Not a day passes that I’m not deeply grateful for that.

Working here has taught me, though, that I used to see the world through a very sheltered lens. It never occurred to me, when I used to shop at the neighborhood store of a national chain, that the people who were ringing up my cart were whole individuals with their own back story. I never wondered if the guy loading my trunk had another job, had ever lost a child, had done time and turned his life around. The woman who answered my questions about the availability of a product might have gone to college, become a teacher, and then found out that retail paid better. The teenage kid pushing the pallet was saving for a first car, but half of his paycheck was going to his parents to help pay the electric bill because dad had been out of work for a year.

The stories are breathtaking. A cross-section of a world that I barely knew existed until 2011.

Now, I see it from the other side of the lens. I see the friends from high school, and the family members, who look at me differently now that I work for a major big box chain. It doesn’t matter to them what my job actually is – all they see is the corporate logo and that girl who “ended up” in retail, when she had such a promising future. It would be funny if it weren’t so insulting. And it embarrasses me, because I used to look at it that way, too.

I didn’t expect to grow up and go to work in retail. But I’m not sorry I did – it’s given me the opportunity to do a whole different kind of growing up. Maybe more people should try it.


In Mouthy Broad on February 24, 2014 at 4:41 am

Is there any feeling worse than waking, in the middle of the night, from a nightmare?

I don’t know about you, but that gasping, frozen-inside feeling is hard for me to shake. It follows me out of bed, through the house to the coffee  pot, into the shower. I jump at small noises; I bump into normal things, like door frames, and think that they’re the boogey-man, finally come to collect his due from under my childhood bed. No matter how hot the water or how sudsy the soap, I can’t wash it away.

Two cups of coffee (and an illicit, forbidden cigarette) later, my heart rate is more normal. My eyes feel less gritty. But my day feels dirtied, tainted by the brush with whatever it was that I was dreaming and couldn’t escape.

Psychologically, I know all about nightmares. Don’t let’s forget the quantities of counseling I’ve undergone! I know that they are your mind’s way of processing information that didn’t get sifted, cataloged, and stored in the appropriate box during the day, as are all dreams. I know that anxiety dreams are precisely that, and commonly, the nightmares of adults are some variation on anxiety dreams. As if, once we reach a certain age, we somehow are too intelligent or mature for “nightmare” to be the appropriate term.

Bois and grrls, ladies and gents, I have nightmares. Sometimes terrors. I’m neither too old nor too proud to admit it. I woke at 3:08 AM today from the grips of a doozy, and it took me approximately seven seconds to decide that additional sleep was beyond my grasp.

From the distance of my third cup of coffee, I can think back to what I remember of the dream. (And why is it I remember the nightmares much better than I do the pretty pink and blue dreams? Seems unfair.) I can identify the moving parts that came together in that horrible symbiosis of the things I fear and the things I can’t control – and aren’t they so very often the same things – and I can pull them apart and deal with them individually. That doesn’t cure the ick clinging to my heart from the images my brain put me through, but it helps.

I can tell that the part of my dream where Sharkman got shot in the left wrist, and I had to pull out the bullet and stitch him back together was probably driven by the fact that he slept away from home last night, on a school night. That’s only happened a handful of times in his entire eleven-and-a-half years on this planet, and I don’t like him being outside of our routine and someplace where I can’t personally keep him safe.

I can tell that the part of my dream where Rhett and I were hiding, unable to get away from The Big Bad, was probably driven by nerves about buying a new vehicle this week – two long months before we were planning to start that particular process – and the fact that we’re relying on a rental car until that happens. Nothing like being literally stranded to force your brain into scenarios where you’re unable to get away!

I can tell that the part of my dream where all I could do was react to all the horrible things happening around me was triggered from the lack of control I’m feeling.

All that means, kittens, is that the dream sucked.

So I got up, and out of the dream, and scrubbed my skin raw in a too-hot shower. I’m purging with caffeine, and waiting for the last tentacles to unwind.

I think nightmares are the night version of bad days. Somewhere, in this contract we have with life, there’s fine print that includes the terms and conditions of getting the good days (or dreams), but you have to pay the fee. Call it the fates, the universe, the gods, God, or karma, but there’s a price tag attached to everything. I don’t mind paying the toll, but I do wish it were spelled out a little more clearly somewhere.

Strange for a breaking-the-silence post, maybe, but if I’ve learned anything in my months of being muzzled, it’s that life goes on. Whether or not you’re ready for it, braced for the twists and turns, it drags you along for the ride. This is where I am today, and who on earth knows where I’ll be tomorrow? For now, I have to blow out my hair, get dressed, drive 90 miles to pick up my Momma for surgery (outpatient, nothing too serious, thanks for asking), call to find out if I can keep my rental car for another few days without having to stop for arm-and-leg-amputation, and make some feeble attempt at being a civilized human being on five hours of sleep and far too much coffee and stress.

Happy Monday, dahlings. xoxoxo


In Mouthy Broad on September 18, 2013 at 11:03 am

So I miss writing.

I miss it a lot. I’m so busy right now, being mom and Scout mom and school mom, and senior management and career counselor, and money manager and daughter and breadwinner, and wife, that I have no time to be a blogger.

Plus there was that whole implosion where I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be a blogger again.

But I miss it. I look around at all the good in my life right now, and then I wonder why I’m still so dissatisfied, so itchy for more and bigger and… Well… Just more. It’s because I don’t have this anymore.

Where we live, where we are in life, what we have going on now, it’s all great. Sharkman is happy in school. Rhett’s the love of my life. My job pays the bills and keeps us going. But there’s no me in any of it. There’s no sassy femme snark, or spark, for that matter.

I miss the queer femmes who blew up the blogosphere and the battles for recognition and talks about things like gender and identity and transwifery. I miss debating invisibility and the merits of stealth life and the drawbacks of being femme in a still-too-mysogynist society.

I love my life, but I miss myself while I’m living it. So maybe I’ll work on that, sometime soon.



In Mouthy Broad on June 14, 2013 at 10:16 am

We just moved back to my hometown.

It’s about a half hour drive to where I work (yay! commuting again! and I’m totally not being sarcastic, for realsies!), and about a million light-years away from what I expected.

In a lot of very strange ways, it’s nice to be back. In a lot of very not strange at all ways, it’s a screaming pain in the ass!

Take the total lack of anonymity, for one. Both my hometown (about 10,000 people, unless you count when college is in session) and the town I work in (about 40,000 people, give or take) are pretty small. We’ve been living in WorkTown for the last three years, and coaching Little League that entire time. Rhett’s identity aside, the pre-op stuff makes him still publicly a chick. So we’re the chick coaches, which makes us pretty recognizable. Then there’s the fact that I work for a major employer, with a high turnover rate, so I do a lot of face time with applicants – adds to the recognizability quotient significantly. Add in the fact that I worked previously with contractors and their customers, and that my father was born and raised in and around WorkTown, and his entire family (10 aunts and uncles) settled around here…

A lot of people know who I am.

A lot more, in fact, than I actually know!

I realized that this morning, when an employee knocked on my office door to ask if I’m okay.

Baffled, I responded that there wasn’t anything wrong with me that a little more coffee wouldn’t cure.

He smiled, and nodded, and said, “Ok, well, I just wanted to check. My mom is a receptionist at the women’s health place in WorkTown, and she said she’d seen you quite a few times recently.”

I’m sorry, what?

I’m currently sitting in the waiting room, ready for my fourth appointment in a month. I have been in and out of here a lot lately, but as far as I knew, the only people aware of that fact were my husband and my boss!

So on the one hand, it’s sweet that he (and his mother) was concerned. On the other, I miss the days of big-city anonymity! Doctor patient privilege seems a little more fragile from here, I must say.

Apparently, the biggest thing I have to get used to is going to be that my notoriety as a kid seems to have morphed into recognizability as an adult. There are eyes everywhere, people, and these small towns never really sleep.

Wish me luck and watch my back, won’t you?


In Mouthy Broad, Relationships on May 16, 2013 at 9:09 pm

It’s awfully quiet around here, isn’t it?

I spend my life looking for a little quiet these days. But it seems sad that the only place I can find it is here.

Call it a trial balloon, call it a second chance, call it doubling down on the first bad hand.

Maybe I should reconsider, and make a little noise. We’ll see.

Closed for Renovations

In Mouthy Broad on February 18, 2013 at 11:32 pm

If you look around a minute, you might notice a thing or two missing.

Or, well, about 544 things.

Every post I’ve ever written – poof. Gone. Vanished into the ether.

Not deleted. Just set to private.

Because it came to my attention today, in a very forceful fashion, that I’m not safe here. Just like I’m not safe at work, or at home, or at the grocery store, or at a Cub Scout meeting.

A restraining order is just a piece of paper, after all. A flimsy remnant of a dead tree, that tells one specific person how to behave, or not to behave. It doesn’t mention their family, or their friends, that get sucked into the whole sordid story with what pass for good intentions.

I was told today, in a very forceful fashion, that this blog is harmful. To me, to my son, to other people in our lives. I was told that it was unnecessary; that I shouldn’t want or need it.

I was told, officially and officiously, to sit down and shut up.

This is my temporary concession to that instruction, but I never have been very good at doing as I am told.

I’ll be reviewing each post I have ever written, individually. Every word I’ve ever archived here under my little illusion of anonymity. Those that seem innocuous, safe enough, superficial enough, will get reposted publicly. You know, the ones that can’t possibly misconstrued to have been about you, or you, or even you.

The rest will just have to stay buried beneath the rubble that is all that I’ve left of my privacy and my dignity.

Watch this space, kittens. I never did know when to just lay down and die.

Oh, and P.S?

No one would have ever known that they were about you, until you started screaming it out loud, in public.

Well done.


In Mouthy Broad on February 6, 2013 at 8:31 am

Oh, Wednesday morning that only comes every other week, how I love my midweek day off.

Getting to it sucks – six day stretches of 12 hour days aren’t for sissies. But this Wednesday, and the one two weeks ago, and the one two weeks from now? They’re totally worth it.

I always stay up too late the night before, because I’ve been working my butt off and I’m married to a night owl. So we stay up, and spend time together, and then I drag ass the next morning, but it’s the next Wednesday morning, so it’s worth it.

I’m sitting on my couch, with my feet up, watching the two hour premiere of my favorite springtime show in utter quiet, not having to hit pause to navigate mom stuff, not having to get up and down to let dogs in or out (they’re all unconscious around me), no conversations or discussions or logistics. It’s heaven.

Or Broadway, which is the same thing if you ask me.

I’ve got a million things to do today, but it all seems possible when I’m sitting here, being a lazy lump, and with the whole day stretched out in front of me.

Realistically, I’m completely aware that I am not going to get to it all. Something will fall by the wayside. At some point tonight, I’ll remember something I meant to do today, and swear a blue streak. But whatever. That’s later tonight.

For now, I’m going to wallow in silence that bears no demands on my emotions or mind.

Have a happy Wednesday, y’all.


In Mouthy Broad on February 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm

It’s February 2.

Which, in the land of big box home improvement, means it’s Spring Hire Time.

The caps are intentional.

This means that I have 26 days left to hire 35 people. 30 of those are seasonal, which means they are only of use to me for six months from their date of hire.

Which means I bleed and sweat and work my ass off 70 hours a week for the next three weeks…

In order to fire most of them, five months from now.

I’m having a bit of trouble with the cost/benefit analysis on this one, I gotta say.

The way my schedule works (because it’s still retail, so there’s no such thing as 8 – 5), I work a six day week, am off Sunday, work Monday/Tuesday, off Wednesday, work Thursday/Friday, and then am off the next weekend. What that means is that I don’t track my life week by week, but on two-week cycles.

Which means I lose track of time and days easily, and often.

Moreso now that my usual 10 hour days (no, really, I’m scheduled 7:00 am to 5:30 PM on eight of my 10 days in a cycle), are stretching to 11, 12, and occasionally 13 hours at a pop. Add to that my Little League board member schedule, the fact that Sharkman is bridging to Boy Scouts, and that the actual baseball season is what seems like minutes away, and you get one very tired and frazzled Jolie.

This was my six-day week. I rolled in the door about an hour and a half ago, twelve hours after I left home this morning. In between running background checks and drug screenings and closing out the last payroll of the fiscal year and reconciling accrual balances (that means making sure people didn’t use more vacation than they earned, which a shocking number did) and trying to set my schedule for next week and catching up on the filing that I didn’t have time to do this week…

Wait. Where was I going with that?

I have no fucking idea, that’s where.

When my ass catches up with the rest of me, I might have more of a clue.

In the meantime, I’m going to sit down and not think for the next hour or two before I finally lose consciousness. I have to get up tomorrow, finish magically creating a set of books from a pile of receipts from last Little League season, and try very hard to be good company for my boys while they watch a Super Bowl that I honestly couldn’t care less about.

Maybe I should procrastinate in the morning so that I can play with my receipts while they watch a game I couldn’t care less about.

I heard on the radio today (or maybe CNN? I dunno. It was this morning, about a week ago) that everyone watches the Super Bowl for the Puppy Bowl (which I had never even heard of until this morning, but apparently it’s a thing) and the commercials. A) I loathe commercials on regular tv, so I’ve never understood the glamour of more commercials, much less subjecting yourself to an entire five hour televised event just to watch commercials. B) I’m such a pop culture moron that I didn’t know there was such a thing as a Puppy Bowl, so I just don’t think I’m going to be mustering up a whole lot of enthusiasm in the next 19.5 hours.

Did I also mention that every interview I do has to be transcribed in enough detail to recreate the interview if I’m ever audited by the Feds? This means that I spend half an hour writing, as in with pen and paper, for each interview. Have I ever told you, bois and grrls, that I have horrific carpal tunnel syndrome, diagnosed almost 20 years ago now, when I was still a teenager?

My right hand has been numb for a week. And not even from something fun, like too much vibrator time.

(This is where Rhett snorts indignantly at the idea that I would need a vibrator these days…)

Somehow, I think I might have allowed my original train of thought for this post to be derailed.

My dinner’s ready. I’ll go looking for the right track later.


In Mouthy Broad on January 30, 2013 at 7:00 am

The very first post of TSOC went up on January 26, 2009. If you type that date into Wikipedia, or Google, you’ll learn that there was a solar eclipse, a downturn in the job market, and a war beginning in Malagasy.

What a day.

I never would have believed that I would document (most some of) four years of my life in a blank white box on a computer screen. Much less that the documentation would include meeting the love of my life, watching my career implode, seeing an ex survive an unsurvivable diagnosis, helping imprison a woman I hero-worshipped, or trying and failing and trying again to be this thing they call a writer.

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose that the beginning of one more little blog, by one more little woman trying to make sense of a very big and very crazy world isn’t really much to shout about.

But looking at it from that perspective grossly undervalues what blogging has brought into my life.

I have four years of evidence that I was here, that I had a voice and an opinion and the guts to send that voice out into the void, wondering what I would get back.

That’s priceless.

So this is my love letter to TSOC, for the sanity and hilarity and tragedy that it encompasses, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

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In Mouthy Broad on January 29, 2013 at 8:26 am

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