Archives for December 2013

Happy Birthday, Cal. I’m not good at much, but I will be good to you.


Sometimes it is too hard to write about love- the density of its emotions, the significance of its role, the fear of its absence, the silence after its exit.

I have tried many times to tell my daughter how much I love her. I wish I knew enough words.

When Cal was born, I made a promise to us that I would stay alive until she turned 30. I was 19 then, and 30 more years of living seemed like a heavy commitment, but I wanted to wait until my daughter was a real grown-up before I left her to fend for herself. I don’t know why I picked 30, but that age seemed so old and unknowable to my teen mind.

I know now that 30 isn’t old at all. When I reached that milestone age a few years ago, I certainly didn’t feel very grown-up, and I still wasn’t ready to fend for myself. I mean, yes, I avoid my mother’s phone calls occasionally because how many times can one person remind you to eat the entire box of oranges she bought on sale at the Korean market to keep scurvy at bay. But even now, if my mother dropped dead, there would still be a deep and unfillable void. And even if I felt like a real adult, I think it’s still okay for an adult to want to be someone’s child too.

On Saturday, Cal turned 14. None of her birthdays have ever been complicated productions. I lacked funds before I got married. I got funds now, but I’m lazy as fuck. This year, I decided to use the last three ounces of Give A Fuck I had stowed away “just in case” to plan a surprise Golden Birthday Snack Time. If you think about it, no one ever expects a celebration during afternoon snacks. As you can see, I really understand the concept of “surprise.”

I spent weeks scouring the devil’s playground (also known as Pinterest) for ideas and tutorials. After attempting some of the crafts, I figured out that DIY is bullshit. I’m into DISE. Do It Someone Else.

I ordered the ombre birthday cake. I helped Harv make the tea sandwiches. I covered the entire dining room floor in glitter wrapping paper. I finally used the Cricut I bought six years ago to make a “Happy Birthday Homegirl” banner. I fought with four very large and unruly balloons and lost. I set out trays of specially-ordered desserts.  I waited for her to come home. I wondered which detail would thrill her the most.

The next morning, as she was getting ready to leave the house, she came into my bedroom and gave me a hug. “Mommy, thank you for yesterday. That rock candy was so awesome.”

Despite all of the privileges in her life, Cal still loves the small and simple pleasures. Maybe that’s why she’s so happy all of the time. I don’t take time to appreciate everyday miracles. I wait for big moments. I try to create big moments.

She’s my daily reminder that happiness only comes when we allow it into our lives. That I don’t have to be perfect to be good. That big gestures aren’t the only ones that count.

I’m not good at much, but I will be good to you.


14on14(flourishinprogress on Instagram)

P.S. This will be my last post for 2013. I’ve never allowed myself an “official” break, and I’ve always been riddled with guilt when I go for too many days without hollering at y’all. Maybe if I make this break official, it will give me some peace of mind while I play catch-up for the next few weeks. There are so many half-finished items on my checklist. I’m looking forward to a fresh new year. Although these past 12 months have been ridiculous, I know so much more about myself and life and happiness because I lost small bits and then big chunks of all three this year.

I’ll still be working the Facebook and Instagram grind. “Like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) for (t)hug life thoughts, not-seen-on-this-blog pictures, and other mildly entertaining but useless shit.

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Take good care.

How to Avoid Death and Incarceration


Sometimes, I will say things like “I don’t want to brag or anything” and “I don’t like to boast,” but I just started tacking on those additions because my husband asked me to do it. I let him win once in a while. Now that I think about it, he didn’t even give me a compelling reason. All he said was that ladies with a modicum of class and refinement don’t go around baring every small success. I don’t really understand his reason, but let me be proof that you can dislike something without actually knowing what it means.

Each December, I take a few days to mentally flip through the previous 11 months. I place imaginary checks next to the goals I set the year before and accomplished, roll over any unfinished business, and then spend the rest of the time going back to the check marks and giving myself a shitload of high-fives. It sort of looks like clapping, but a lot more boisterous.

There wasn’t a ton of boisterous clapping this year. Things were rough. I battled depression (ok, still battling, but I’m going H.A.M. on it), and I met myself for the first time. I gained a level of self-awareness I didn’t have before, and it felt like I was being introduced to the real me without all of the filters I had set up to guard myself against the truth.

I’m still disappointed by this real me. The kind of disappointment an adopted kid must feel after thinking that her birth mother is an opera singer who never forgets her coupon binder and rescues abused seals but finds out she’s actually a lot lizard with stubby toes who only eats at Carl’s Jr. A menagerie of embarrassment and shame and shock and waving some fists at God…that sort of thing.

Even when there is a shortage of check marks, I’m still a big believer in giving credit where credit is due. In this case, to myself. And since I have no trouble boasting about my successes, I’m just going to share the Top 2 from 2013 along with expert inside advice on how to do the same.

1. Still not dead: Cactus Cooler is my favorite beverage, but I try to drink several glasses of plain water every day. Sometimes, I add a splash of Cactus Cooler to the water because I’m a big fan of the artificial “could be citrus but not that sure” flavor. Dehydration causes death. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m very passionate about hydration.

I floss the fuck out of my teeth. I also use a Waterpik and an electric toothbrush. Skipping the floss might not kill you, but Gingivitis and cavities will eventually cause tooth loss. If you don’t have insurance or a lot of money to replace your teeth, you will not be able to eat properly, and then you will starve to death.

Just say no to drugs. I spent 8 years of my life high. I still can’t look at a bottle of Gatorade without thinking about crack. Drugs will kill you. Even worse, drug use will cause wrinkles and the sparkle from your eyes will disappear.

2. Still not in prison: On my saddest days, I feel like I’m in a prison because my thoughts and emotions trap me in a bad and ugly place, but I would never, ever, ever express that to a real prisoner because s/he would beat the shit out of me for being ridiculous. I get it. Real prison is worse than my tears of despair. But an even more bitter place to be is crying tears of despair in prison because there are no 3-ply tissues “on the inside,” and my face won’t stand for that cheap single-ply shit. This is just one of the reasons I can’t be convicted of any crime.

I no longer keep company with negative, dangerous, scheming, untruthful, deranged, whiny, dramatic people. Ain’t gonna lie, this swiftly removed a sizable chunk of my friend list which made me lonely and regretful of my decision in the beginning. My life was consumed by drama for so long that it’s still my default setting, and I gravitate toward volatile people. Two unstable people cannot construct a stable friendship. JUST TRUST ME. The other person’s volatility would set off my own. I narrowly avoided hitting someone this summer. Physical violence=jail time. Most likely. But don’t risk it.

I finally got honest with myself about having a rage issue. And I’m getting help for it. I have no idea what my life will look like without all this anger. And I’m worried that it’s going to take a very long time. I’ll know I’m fixed when my first reaction to conflict isn’t to hit and destroy. Dear God, how many coffee mugs from HomeGoods will have to sacrifice their lives before I’m good?

This is a lot of information and maybe you won’t remember all of it. That’s ok. Just floss your teeth and keep your hands to yourself. You are very fucking welcome.

P.S. I also give extremely wise and useful tips on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and showcase my exemplary life on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Well, I plan to in the future. Right now, it’s just a lot of (t)hug life shit. Like and follow anyway. You probably won’t regret it.

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