Archive for the 'Family' Category

Published by PaintingChef on 24 Oct 2017

Just spilling. It’s been that long so buckle the fuck in.

That’s the thing about this whole smartphone era…when you realize you want to sit down and actually fucking WRITE…you have to go through ten thousand steps in the process and somewhere in there, you’re all “PATRICK! You’d better fucking bring me cheesecake before you come home” and look at that…two years later and two fucks in the first paragraph. You’ve missed me, right? Admit it.

So. I recently spent almost $200 on concert tickets to see 311 and neither I NOR Patrick watched the whole concert because our kid went crazy. Again.

Hey. We have a kid. In November of this year, she will have been ours free and clear for almost 2 years. It’s amazing how that happens, right? Fuck I’ve missed this. I think I need this again. I don’t know how else to get it out. So we adopted Abi. I’m not even going to sugar coat it because chances are, the four or five of you left that actually still have this left in whatever you replaced google reader with (FUCK…did I renew this domain? I don’t even remember) know everything because the Facebook and the Instagram already know everything about her but WHATEVER this is in me and bubbling out and I cannot stop.

We adopted Abi. She is amazing. She is the child I was supposed to have and I adore her. I am her mama. But I am a terrible mama. I am so mad at her right now. I’m sitting here in my cute dress with my perfect wedges in the foyer or maybe still on the porch and my perfect makeup in ruins and honestly I may have ripped the choker off in the backseat of the Uber but it was a 311 concert so I wore a choker but I heard they were totally a thing now anyway and FUCK. Sorry. Patrick just called me and he was like…yes, I’ll bring you cheesecake because sometimes the only answer is cheesecake.


We adopted Abi. She is my blues eyed, strawberry blonde dream. She is my girl. She is my heart. She is so very broken. (pause for whiskey)

(I drink Whiskey now, BTW)

Abi is my daughter. We got to change her middle name after the adoption and so now her middle name is the name I always wanted to give my little girl.. She is my heart. She is my world. And about an hour ago, I would have traded her for…fucking anything, I don’t know.

My daughter may be bipolar. She may have schizophrenia. Her genetics would point to either of those. In stead of just the sarcasm and assholery and knack for engineering that would be the situation were it just my genetics and Patrick’s involved. (Fuck…it’s hard to find my voice again but it’s coming back to me slowly…) She is the textbook definition of ODD but I’m not sure that’s really even a thing? Anxiety. PTSD. ADHD. On paper she looks like alphabet soup. But she is my girl. She is my heart. And I am so mad at her right now that I just want to scream but instead it brought me here.

(For reference…the last thing that brought me here was Anastacia Motherfucking Campbell. Which…by the way… WTF STACEY??? Boo…you whore. I was cleaning out my bathroom drawer the other day and I ran across the amazon package of pipettes and small bottles I’d bought because we were going to share perfume collections because we both had weird obsessions and FUCK OFF THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU FUCKING ANASTACIA CAMPBELL, I WILL GET TO YOU IN DUE COURSE)

My girl. You guys. She is the one that I didn’t know was mine. She is the one that was born the same day I was having a wretched miscarriage. When we’d gotten to the point that I was like…It’s even too much for my blog. She was destined to me mine from the moment she took her first breathe, I imagine.) I will not bore you with the details of our fight for her. I made that mistake once when Patrick and I were in Mexico and I accidentally turned into that old person drunk over-sharer and I still have nightmares about the look that that cute newlywed couple gave me two nights later in the restaurant. But…whatever…I’m not scarred. Nope. Not me.

Patrick just called me. I answered the phone and was like “I’m writing again. Bring me cheesecake.” He said… FINALLY.” Was there ever in the universe a person more mine and for me than him? Absofuckinglutely not.

This is so long but we have so much to catch up on.

My girl…she is…damaged. She’s been seeing a therapist and an NP who put her on Prozac and…I don’t know…I think that made it worse? Lord knows I’m not going to discount the usefulness of pharmaceuticals these days. I spend 5 minutes every Tuesday night (FUCK…that’s tonight…) filling up my weekly pill sorter (PINK! So cute!) with the various drugs that help me make it through the week (Buspar, Wellbutrin, Xanax, etc.)

I’ve just made the executive decision that the only thing I’m going to do before I post this is spell and grammar check it. I NEED this outlet. Blogs are dead. Obviously. I mean, even Dooce hardly ever posts anymore. (Amalah is the only reliable one and, quite honestly, I probably need to pick her brain about IEPs) But that said, I just…I need to spill.

She flipped out again. I don’t know how else to explain it. My girl. My heart. If things are just so, you cannot tell her “no.” But I REFUCKINGFUSE to have the child that will not be told no. So here we are. With the “I hate mom and dad” (she spelled everything right I counted it as a win because STANDARDS LOWERED) scrawled on the wall (in washable marker because I value that now) and the wooden desk chair (that I’ve had since I was her age and my parents only recently gave her along with the desk that I remember having where I stored the Michael Jackson “BAD” cassette in one of the drawers) thrown over the balcony of her loft (OMG, house…loft, too big, kitchen reno, WTF is wrong with me, cannot even go into that, maybe another time but probably not) and splintered into pieces (FUCK…I HAVE TO PEE…HOLD PLEASE)

I just saw myself in the mirror. It was fucking terrifying. DID YOU KNOW THAT I’M FORTY??? I look every bit of it. Just so you know. Also I should have taken my mascara off before I started crying but oops…

FUCK. Do I scroll back and read? I don’t know. I’m thinking no. Word says I’m already over a thousand words. My girl is so angry. At the slightest thing that even hints at a “no” she will kick and scream and bite and hit and kick and throw shit and FUCK UP YOUR WORLD and you never know when it is coming. (I need more whiskey…I don’t, actually, it is 10 pm and I DO have to work tomorrow) We have a new after school nanny (we have an after-school nanny now. We have a housekeeper too. We are people like that. I apologize. Shit happens.) (BUT…I promise you that REGARDLESS of being one of THOSE people, I am still wholly and fully disgusted by the state of…I cannot even say it…that…THING squatting in the White House and we will get into that in due course because I’ve really missed this outlet) So we are at dinner and I get a call from the sweet sitter, the lovely and perfect girl who has been at our beck and call and who, I ASSURE you, I will NEVER hear from again, telling me that Abi has lost her fucking shit. So there we are at the table. Me. Patrick. Work colleague/vendor who looks alarmingly like Jason Bateman. His wife (who is having fucking BREAST CANCER SURGERY in the morning) and two of her friends (who were awesome…I should give strangers more credit). And the first time she called I’m all “Just answer it please, Patrick” and he comes back to the table and he’s shaking his head and I KNOW…I just KNOW. It’s not over and this night is not going to end how I hoped it would with us rock paper scissors lizard spocking it for who will drive home and then taking a shitload of Tylenol and just white knuckling it until bedtime on Wednesday night. But I order another drink and I’m like…it’s okay, it’s FINE. Then she calls again like 20 minutes (and 2 drinks…whisky, yo) later and I just pick up my phone and leave the table because I know that that chair ain’t felling my ass again tonight.

And here we are.

I have no idea what I’m doing. Every day I try and tell myself that I’m making things better…not worse. But I don’t believe me.

Patrick is home. (With cheesecake because he’s Patrick) (and because I literally texted him “don’t even think about showing up without cheesecake”) and he asked what happened and all I could tell him was that I sobbed in the foyer for a while and I could tell that the Uber driver was still at the top of the driveway because apparently the $10 tip (smallest bill I had and I cried the whole way home so I knew she needs SOMETHING) was enough to keep her interest and she probably saw my underwear because of the way I slid down the glass door sobbing and then eventually I got Abi to put on some clothes and I cried some more and she asked for a bedtime story and Grimm ain’t got SHIT on me (I’ll get into that later…I tried to tell Patrick about my twisted fucking bedtime story that I told after I yelled “OH YOU WANT A STORY, I’LL GIVE YOU A FUCKING STORY) and I’m STILL crying and it made him go straight to the liquor cabinet and pour a whiskey) and then I came down here and left my crazy fucking expensive leftovers (seriously…it was a vendor dinner but if that bill was under $500, I’ll be AMAZED) on the kitchen counter and grabbed the laptop out of the TV cabinet because at that time I knew there was no other outlet than you, dear blog, and hastily poured a glass of whiskey and just…spilled. (I’ve lost track of the parentheses) I spilled to you. I didn’t spill whiskey because I’M A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL

But you guys. Is so many ways my life is so much more than I ever imagined. But in other ways…I’m so ill-equipped. I’m lost. I’m drowning. I can’t fix it. I cannot help my girl. I love her. But I cannot fix it.


Published by PaintingChef on 10 Nov 2014


One of the greatest tragedies of the entire universe is that those who have the purest hearts and the sweetest souls spend the shortest time with us.

This past Saturday, our sweet girl, Belle, passed away peacefully in her sleep. She would have been 13 in January. A teenager. I imagine that she would have immediately began to roll her beautiful brown eyes at me at every chance.

Patrick and I got married in December of 2001. By January I was begging him for a puppy. We looked and we looked and we finally found someone whose dog had had puppies. We drove about 3 hours to see them when they were just a week or so old, still just a wiggling mass of puppy and poop. We just sat there and stared… “How do we pick one?” We started picking them up, cuddling them, I tried to stick a few in my bra and steal them, Patrick intervened… as he does.

I’m a sexist asshole and knew I wanted a female so that, at least, made it a little easier. Finally we just put all the females in a pile and watched. Waited. Suddenly one of them was squirming towards Patrick on her little belly and as soon as she got to him, she peed all over him. Belle chose us.

Patrick and Belle

She was our eternal puppy, even at 12 years old with a mostly white face and a hitch in her step from knee surgery when she was 7, she had a puppy quality to her face. She was always happy to see us. And you. And you over there, too. Every day was the best day of her life. But the ones where she got to swim too? Holy balls. (Which she did not have. Because she was a girl.) Those days were epic.

Maybe it was because we got her when we were newlyweds and didn’t ever plan on having children. Or perhaps it was because when you met Belle, you knew right away that there was no other way to love her than fully and completely and messily. But that puppy girl was our baby. She ruled our hearts. She owned them and carried them around with her.

I know that we are lucky. We didn’t have the struggle of wondering about the quality of her life. Are we selfishly prolonging her suffering because WE aren’t ready to say good bye. Belle was wide open Saturday afternoon. And then she wasn’t. She most likely had a stroke. We took her to the vet that evening because something was clearly not okay. Her xrays and blood work all looked good so the vet suggested that we let her stay overnight so they could keep an eye on her and check back with them in the morning. At 11:00 that night, she passed away in her sleep.

Before we left, we each gave her a big hug and lots of kisses and she wagged her tail and kissed us back. We didn’t know we were telling her goodbye but looking back, I think she knew.

Sweet dreams my puppy girl. I want to think that right now you are swimming endlessly, chasing your dummy and rolling around in the sand.

Dammit.  Play with me.

Published by PaintingChef on 22 Mar 2012

A downward spiral that started off with very good intentions. I would apologize but I was once a pirate baby so you’ll excuse me if I don’t…

Everyone deals with grief differently. And although it’s been over 2 years since my grandmother passed away, it’s something that is still present in my interactions with my mother in a very big way. I’m been so upset with her about the way she has dealt with it and that’s incredibly unfair to her. But she has just been angry about it. Not sad or willing to remember her mother’s long life and all the great memories that we shared, she’s just been pissed off with no idea how or, what appeared to me, desire to feel any differently.

But recently, she’s started in on a project that I think has been extremely cathartic. She has decided to pull out all the pictures she has laying around in albums, boxes, tucked into drawers, stuck in mirrors, and everywhere else photographs used to accumulate before we all went so very digital and she is scanning them all. I think that this has been a great way for her to look back and remember that there were lots of good memories that she was pushing out of her mind to make room for her grief. And grief is a very real thing, I don’t pretend for even a second that it isn’t. But I think that eventually it should dissipate and what is left are the memories. And getting to that point is going to be differently for everyone. I think about Neena every single day. But I don’t cry every time she crosses my mind anymore.

I think that there is a good chance that, subconsciously, this whole Bad Kitty Bakery thing is a vehicle for my grief and acceptance of a life without the physical presence of one of my favorite people in the entire world. And every time I start to make something (like one of the three cakes I’m doing this weekend!!) I kind of feel her near me and can almost sense her perched on a stool cradling a steaming hot mug of coffee (regardless of the weather) and taking a second to sit back and watch me do what she taught me.

But anyway… blah, blah, blah, therapy speak… how about some pictures instead? I just have a couple for you today but I’m going to continue posting them sporadically (much like everything else related to this website and… let’s be honest… my life in general).

Easter was, apparently, a huge deal in Athens, Tennessee in the late 50s and early 60s (much as I imagine it still is today) and the annual Easter picture was always glorious. Mainly because, at the time, my grandmother owned a fabric store and made every stitch of clothing that family wore. It’s no coincidence that my mother was voted Best Dressed of her senior class, I’m sure…

And this one is from my mother’s rehearsal dinner when she married my father in, I think, 1975. This wedding marked the beginning of my grandmother’s culinary business and her dance card stayed full until I was in my mid-20s. But I’m telling you… I would maim or even kill for that long grey dress my grandmother has on. And my mom’s gypsy-inspired outfit? Yes please. Total glamour, those women.

And then there is this… me and my dad… the show-off. Wonder if he can still do this?

I should make him try because once he did this to me… (I lie. That has mom written all over it. Even my dear old young dad looks confused as to how he ended up with a very ill-tempered and somewhat squinty pirate baby.)


And the beginning of my illustrious 5 minute career as a swimsuit model.

I was much better at the attitude.

I called this one Pink Steel…

Well this went downhill pretty quickly…

(Rim Shot)

Published by PaintingChef on 27 Dec 2010

A little closer to figuring this whole holiday thing out. One step at a time.

Holidays are so magical when you are little. But aside from that, they are EASY. When you are a kid, the hardest part of the holidays is dealing with the itchiness of that god-awful Christmas sweater and staying in bed until you are allowed to get up on Christmas morning.

We all have our own traditions and they change from family to family. We spent every Christmas at my great-grandparents house in Tellico Plains and then later at Neena’s house just a quick 5 minute drive from our own house. As far as the itchy sweaters went, we usually lucked out because pajamas were de rigeur for Christmas Eve from about 6:00 on. And my sister and I had a hard-fast rule for the getting out of bed trick… you see, Neena’s house was across the street from a Weigel’s (think regional convenience store, sort of a kid’s version of the bar in Cheers where everyone knows your name) and they were open from 6 am till midnight, 356 days a year. So if Weigel’s was open, we were allowed to come downstairs. Luckily… we could see their light from the bedroom window at Neena’s house.

And of course as soon as we saw that light click on we would race downstairs to see everything all sparkly, because nothing sparkles like Christmas morning and we would race up to wake up mom and dad who, bless their hearts, had been up since 3 am making everything so freaking sparkly. And it amazes me that they were able to keep opening one eye and grumpily snarling “no shit Sherlock” as we shook them awake with the urgency and ferocity that would normally only be equaled by the most pressing need to escape a burning building.

So as we would lounge in our pjs, (matching, natch) comparing loot and emptying stockings and just generally rolling around in Christmas, the biggest breakfast you’ve ever seen would be under construction in the next room. Every bit of it from scratch. Once our bellies were full, we would all roll into the living room for another obscene display of Christmas, with even my parents receiving bags from “Santa” until it was time for the four of us to pack it up and head home where, amazingly, there was one final round of Santa to encounter (but not until we had showered and climbed BACK into pajamas, obviously)

But this long diatribe is just a way for me to explain to you that my Christmas traditions have always been something I’ve guarded fiercely. I can’t imagine that I was an easy person to marry as I’m so unwilling to compromise on what Christmas activities take place. But compromise I must. And then as our families undergo the changes that are to be expected as the years tick by, people aging and eventually passing away, siblings marrying, cousins finding their own ways, divorce, remarriage, and, of course, our own marriages and the addition of new families and new sets of traditions. Nothing stays the same. And you don’t realize that when you are 7 years old and every year is the same but still spectacular and maybe there is even snow.

But things do change. New traditions are created. And learning to roll with the punches is kind of vital. This year has been the most un-traditional of years for us and I was dreading it because there has been so much upheaval in our lives the past couple of years. That safe and sparkly house where I spent every Christmas for a good 20 years doesn’t even exist anymore. And nobody that lived there is still with us. So you adapt. You come up with new plans. You crash your daughter’s in-laws Christmas dinner and find out it isn’t so bad. You plan Christmas for a few days later. Stretching out a holiday isn’t exactly bad. As I type this, I haven’t even had half of Christmas yet.

And guess what? We’ve done just fine. It’s alright when things are different. When change becomes necessary. And maybe its even a good thing when your new traditions aren’t anything like your old ones. Maybe that’s not so bad. The only part of it that matters to me is that it exists. That there is a day, sometime in the winter, when we all manage to come from our different corners of life and sit down and just enjoy each other. When we can relax and tell our same stories and pretend that they are new and we can curl up on the couch together and read a book or watch “A Christmas Story” and pretend that none of us have ever seen the whole movie at one time and drink hot chocolate and just be a family. Not because we have to be but because we are lucky enough to be related to each other.

Published by PaintingChef on 08 Nov 2010

Game Playing.

It’s been my experience, in my VAST 33 years, that there are two types of households. Those that play games together and those that don’t. And those of us entrenched firmly in the “DO” column inevitably spend a portion of our teen years undercover, so to speak. Because as you may know (if you are a member of the board and card game playing elite such as myself) we choose these family game nights. They are FUN. We enjoy sitting around a table with our parents and siblings. And sometimes, on a Friday night, they are the best thing going on.

This is where I come clean. Throughout my teens, I begged off many a Friday night outing, movies, football games, parties and even dates because quite honestly? Nothing sounded as appealing as lounging in pajama pants, drinking hot chocolate, laughing and talking with my sister and parents over a game of Rook, Rummy, Dominos or one of the dozens of board games that filled the closet beside our breakfast room. But I dare you to try and pass that one off with your friends and keep your oh-so-important social status in high school. Not happening.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times here, I was an asshole. A completely unlikable person. Hello, my name is Susannah and I was a teenage asshole. I had the jerk boyfriend who I thought ruled my world. I snuck out with friends to drink and smoke pot, I lied to my parents about where I was and who I was with and when I would be home. I talked back, pouted, rolled my eyes and was generally a plague on my family for the better part of a decade. No joke. Ask them. They’ll confirm it.

But we still played games. All that could be pushed aside for a few hours and we could just sit down, hang out and enjoy each others’ company.

It was fairly early on that I learned that my family’s obsession with games wasn’t the most normal thing on the block. I was always surprised when I would go to a friend’s house and come across their “game closet” which would usually be a few abandoned and dusty children’s games long forgotten on the top shelf of a closet or under a bed. I would ask “where is Sorry? Parcheesi? Life? WHERE IS SCOTLAND YARD!?!? (Or Mr. X as it was fondly known in my house) Eventually I learned to stop asking. Apparently it wasn’t the coolest thing to admit hanging out with the ‘rents and LIKING it.

But family game night holds its place of honor in my life. And when we all find ourselves in the same time zone, we always sit down to a game night as often as possible and break out the wine, cookies and the scorepad. Last night, my parents and I indoctrinated Patrick into the way of Mr. X (Scotland Yard is one of my family’s most beloved board games. If you are a game person or family, I HIGHLY recommend it.) Patrick doesn’t come from a game family but he has blended seamlessly into ours and I think enjoys it as much as the rest of us. (At least enough to have hit the game aisle at Target pretty heavily when we were registering for wedding gifts nearly a decade ago.)

It was a great evening, we sat around my dining room table and laughed and chatted and shared memories and remembered how to play one of our favorite games. We hadn’t played it in years but I have a feeling that it will find its way back out again this Christmas when Betsy and her husband are in town too. But in the meantime, I managed to convince them to leave it with me… Patrick and I need the practice!

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