Ready to Stand….

Miss Shannon is celebrating a personal victory tonight… and a personal defeat.  If you know me well, you know I collect things.  I like stuff, a minimalist I am not.  Bric-a-brac, knick-knacks… my collections.  Currently, my collections include teapots and related items (I admit, my favorite is the walking ware.) I have a significant number of Anne Geddes dolls and art, I LOOOOVE copper jelly molds and bird houses.  Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl who has everything????

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A few years back, I was feeling adrift.  I ran into boy I knew in school and allowed myself to be led down a primrose path of promises and dreams, lies and deceit.  I was just lonely, he had a pretty face and knew all the right words.  There are things Miss Shannon – and single moms everywhere- just want to hear.  Those words include things like family, love (not just for you, but for your wee beasties, too) and forever.  Most of the time, single moms are savvy and cynical.  Now and then, we’ve just been fighting the fight a little too long, and we get taken in.  I knew better… but I did it, anyway.

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During the time that I was with that guy, I lost parts of me.  Because I let him take them.  My whore boots, my sexy clothes and two of my collections were deemed unfit.  You’d think it’d be the dolls, but it was my jelly molds and bird houses that had to go.  The jelly molds I packed up and gave to my oldest sister.  This was right around the time I was made to paint my cool, vibrant periwinkle kitchen vanilla yellow.  Then my bird houses migrated to daycare.  A little of my soul died that day.  I started the birdhouse collection because my mother in law used to paint them.  When she died, it hurt me.  I was allowed to choose items of hers to keep…. On my list were some hand painted (by her) penguins, snow men and bird houses.

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Not long after I came to my senses and asked that fine gentleman to leave, my oldest sister delivered several boxes of my copper to me.  I repainted my kitchen periwinkle, slapped my copper back on the wall and began to feel like me, again.  Tonight, well over a year later, I returned my bird houses to my stairwell.  That is a victory, my friends.  I have spent nearly 40 years learning to be ok with who I am… never again will I let myself be denigrated by anyone.  I have worked very hard for all that I have, no one has ever handed me a god damned thing.  I don’t even want to be handed anything… I have two hands and I can do it myself.

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I thought about Charlie while I cleaned the birdhouses.  He doesn’t demand that I reform myself to be whatever image he has in his head.  I assume there are duel reasons for this… One: Miss Shannon is fabulous as she currently exists.  Two: Charlie knows that people are who they are… and you take the good with the bad.  I also don’t think Charlie gives two shits whether or not I have bird houses.  Nor is he even aware of the copper on my walls…  He’s aware that he loves me, in all of my glorious eccentricity.  Kind of like I’m aware that I love him in all his curmudgeonly fussiness… because Charlie rocks, as he currently exists.  I’m going to quote Taylor Swift and say… Maybe it’s forever, maybe it’ll go down in flames.  Regardless, I’m thankful I met a man who values me…. Miss Shannon, for who she is.  Miss Shannon is going to advise you to hold out for the same.

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A Child is Dead… And You Want to Profit??

Just when I thought I had no more fucks to give, I find myself incensed.  Brenda Van Alstyne, who is the aunt of little Kenneth White, has created a GoFundMe account.  She is asking for $20,000 that she implies is for the mentally ill by stating that mental illness is heartbreaking.   In her comments she states that the money will go for well needed home repairs and debt relief.  She misspelled debt.

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I had to process this for a hot minute before I wrote about it.  I know most of us totally and completely appreciate why this is wildly inappropriate.  This woman does not, so I have decided to explain to her, in detail, why most people are up in arms at the sheer audacity of this request.  Before I begin, let me state for the record that I am the parent of a mentally ill child.  As people are fond of saying about the stupidest things… the struggle is real.  You never really know if you’re doing the right thing, you can’t always predict what your kid will do while riding the crazy train and sometimes, Miss Shannon is driving the crazy train, herself.   I really, really know.

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I’m also not alone.  I count many parents of children stuggling with mental illness amongst my friends.  Safety for everyone involved is the first priority.  Always.

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There is no way that you, Miss Van Alstyne, did not know your daughter was cycling in a big way.  Maybe Tiffany was medicated… it wasn’t working, and you knew it.   I understand you are probably experiencing mental illness of your own… if I wasn’t sure before, this GoFundMe totally proved it to me.  Your daughter was beating the kids over a period of weeks.  You knew it.  But. You. Left. Them. Alone. With. Her. Anyway.  And Kenneth is dead.  Not bruised, not even a broken bone.  The child is dead.  And it lays at your doorstep.  The reason it lays at your doorstep is that you were the grown up.    You were the person who said… hey, these kids will be safe with me.  You didn’t even provide them with beds, let alone personal safety.

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Poverty is not an excuse.  I have been “mushrooms are growing in my bathroom and there’s nothing I can do about it” poor.  Life is about choices… you hedged your bets and you bet on the wrong filly.  I truly believe that your daughter, Tiffany, (who you also failed) is sorry for what she did.  Bipolar disorder is created in two ways, always together: Heredity and environment.  My child is bipolar because of heredity and because they had a chaotic upbringing.  Yup, I am saying it is my fault.  Because it totally is.  Things that feel outside your control really aren’t, in the usual course of life.  Organic disease, acts of god, etc… are outside of your control.  Staying with an abuser is not.  Poverty is not.  You decide and you, madam, chose poorly.

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No, I do not think that it is reasonable that you are begging donations because you are struggling financially.  Everyone is struggling financially.  Don’t think you’re special, you aren’t.  The only thing that makes you different is that you let your babies be in a situation where, when Tiffany was stretched beyond her endurance, they could be killed.  This will not induce the general populous to donate money to you.  It could just have easily been either of those little girls… but that day, when Tiffany was stretched beyond her endurance, Kenneth (who was probably Kenny) could not recite his sight words.  Thus, he was the one who died.  Miss Van Alstyne, he is dead because he couldn’t remember his sight words.  Did you study with him?  Did you do all in your power to make him know those words?  He’s dead because he didn’t know where from who… or maybe the from they.  I imagine that his kindergarten teacher stressed the importance of sight words while never considering it to be a capital offense.

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Where there’s life, there’s hope.  I refuse to believe that being born poor white trash is a life sentence.  I was born plain white trash, but I decided to do better, so I did.  Maybe little Kenneth had the cure for cancer or AIDS locked inside of him…You can’t know, because he was brutally murdered by someone who loved him.  When we are raised by wolves, we either mire on down in the muck or rise above it.  Kenny White doesn’t get to decide which path he’ll choose, and that is a crying shame.  Sadly, Miss Van Alstyne, I don’t think your daughter did, either.

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Most folks hold you personally responsible….  Your daughter will spend many, many years in prison because you demanded more than she could give.  For the rest of her life, she has to live with it that she killed her “little buddy.”  I believe that hurts her.  It should.  Perhaps you should work on developing the grace to admit that you put those children in an unsafe situation that ended in horrible, mind blowing tragedy.  Maybe you should be sorry, too.

Thunder

Miss Shannon had a really wonderful weekend.  I was able to see some of my favorite people…  My best friend from high school and her family, who live in Yonkers, were able to squeeze in a visit with me while I was in town.  My dear friend, Melissa was around for family day and fireworks.  I had my sweet baby Raelynn and her momma, Brandi come for a visit.  And I spent most of the weekend with Good Time Charlie, who still prefers that I not use his name, even though his people are reading here, too and my people officially call him Charlie.  That’s probably going to stick, dear. And… they know it’s you.   There’s also the little matter of seeing Garth Brooks in concert at Yankee Stadium, which definitely hits the highlight reel.

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The bar we visited prior to the show was packed with rednecks just like us.  The entire bar sang The Gambler, which made me know I was with my people.   If I am ever in the position to open a bar and grill, it’ll be the Oasis so you can have friends in low places.  We’ll serve mojitos and mudslides and goddamn good food.  I haven’t danced on a bar in at least 15 years, so I’ll take a page from coyote ugly and hire performers.   I can teach you to mix a drink… I can’t teach you to draw a crowd.

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For your entertainment, Miss Shannon is actually able to nap during a tsunami at Yankee Stadium despite 100k yapping people.  Because I am tired beyond all reasoning on a regular basis.  That concert was scheduled to begin at 8:30 and actually started at midnight.  I slept from around ten to eleven, which was ok because Charlie was awake and kept folks from bothering me.  I’m officially a bag lady.

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We got back to the hotel and a drunk redneck started chatting me up.  At first it was… Garth rocks!!  I told the cabby we were listening to honky music.  And in zero to sixty it turned into… my sister the minister won’t baptize me.  Charlie said… “We have to be up early.”  We got onto the elevator and he said, “That really does happen to you everywhere.”  Yup… because I have that face.  It’s what’s going to make me a good therapist.  It’s also the thing that makes it hard to be at the grocery store, bars, or in public, in general.  I’m the one you tell in the potty that you’re scared to go home with your old man.  That your momma has cancer…. That you are afraid.  I’m totally ok with that because I have had times when the stranger in frozen foods was all that stood between me and total annihilation.   Thank you, Lady shopping for frozen peas for saving my goddamned life by listening or five minutes.

frozen peas

At the end of the day…. This is country music and we do.  I was sad that Garth didn’t play Good Ride Cowboy.  Because I love Chris LeDoux.  He was part of my formative years, as important as David Allen Coe and Johnny Cash.  Chris Ledoux is the father of modern country music and he should be immortalized.  Search Look at You Girl and Life is a Highway.  If I ever marry again, it’ll be to a man who can let me walk to Look at You, Girl….  Run for your life, Charlie.

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Let Freedom Ring!!


Happy Independence Day!!! If you’re unsure, we have the fireworks because in 1776 the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. That’s America’s birthday, when the original 13 colonies declared independence from the British Empire. This kicked off the Revolutionary War.

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Now, why is Miss Shannon telling you this? Well… there’s a reporter bopping around asking the meaning of the Fourth of July and people do not have the correct answer. It reminds me of when Jay Leno had the bit where nobody knew the White House address but everybody knew Spongebob’s. Are you at all concerned about our education system, yet, America? Maybe we should put our money where our mouths are, hmmm?

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I know that the idea behind cutting funding to failing schools is that the staff will improve their performance. News flash: the reason they’re failing to begin with is that they don’t have enough money. The 14th amendment guarantees public education to children. Maybe we should just occasionally follow the constitution. It’s just possible that the reason they wrote that one was an attempt to guarantee that the land of opportunity had opportunities for the poor kids and the kids whose skin isn’t a shade of peach.

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One of the most straightforward things this country can do to return to being the greatest nation on the planet is to invest in our children. Maybe the cure for cancer is inside of a little kid in a ghetto in America who has to share a science book with three other kids.

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So… Happy Fourth of July.  If you can’t do anything for the children of today, at least don’t be against them.  When a school district near you is crying for money, ask yourself if you should really turn them down.  Those same kids are going to rule this country in just a little while.  Don’t you want them to learn something before they do???