And It’s All There To See

For those of you who haven’t noticed, all of my posts have lyrics attached. There’s a reason for that.

Music has always been the one constant in my life. Even when I didn’t know how to say what I felt, I was always able to find a song. That still holds true today. No matter what’s going on, there is always a song that fits it. Sometimes it can make me wallow in my misery a bit, but most times, it can make me feel happier, more joyful, life me out of my funk.

When I started this blog, the first song was “Closing Time” by Semisonic. It just seemed to fit what I was trying to say. I didn’t exactly intend to use lyrics for my post titles, but I always have a song that highlights what I’m writing about, so it continued. A lot of posts are inspired by lyrics of a song, whereas with some posts, I know what I want to write about and a song pops into my head.

I realize that some of the songs that I use are a little obscure. Not many people have heard of Chris Gaines (Garth Brooks’ alter ego), or Dar Williams, or even David Wilcox. Because all of these songs are important to this blog, and even more so, important to me, I wanted to give you the chance to hear what I hear. I tried where possible to find videos by the actual artists. If such a thing did not exist, then I settled for what I could find.

There are a million little cliches about music soothing the soul or taming the savage beast; for me, the beasts have always been loneliness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. You may notice there are a lot of David Wilcox and Dar Williams songs. These two artists are the ones I turn to first when I need a reminder that life is what you make it, and that misery is part of life, but it gets better.

All of these songs have another special meaning for me. When Aubrey and I would drive together, either to dance school, or summer camp, or just plain camping, we would sing. Not mumbly, under our breaths, humming kind of singing, but loud, top of your lungs, belt it out like you’re gonna die kind of singing. Without her in the car with me, humming and mumbling is sometimes the best that I can do.

Soundtrack is my invitation to you to step into my heart, my life, my soul. You’ll find it in the sidebar at the left, in the menu right under “About,” which I think is extremely fitting. Let me know what you think of some of my favorite artists. Even better, if you like them, let THEM know what you think. They are all available on Rhapsody, which means they are also available for sale by the evil Empire.

“Now the daylight’s returning and if one sentence is true, all these pages are burning and all that’s left is you.
Though the pages are numbered I can’t see where they lead, for the end is a mystery no-one can read.”

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Where the Love Light Beams

Whew. The last week has been a little wild, what with the awards and Thanksgiving. I want to say a special thank you to everyone who read my Thanksgiving post and responded with love and support. It was unexpected, and incredibly appreciated. Now that all that craziness is over, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

I talked to my daughter today, as she headed to the mall for the first time since she’s been at MoHo. When she got there, she called to tell me all the stores that are in the mall. It is obvious that she’s been exiled to shopping Siberia, as she was way too excited about Claires. Despite the 30 million necklaces, earrings, and rings from Claires that are currently languishing in her room here, she could not resist the call of the “10 for $10” sale. Aubrey and I both suffer from ADOS…Attention Deficit Oooooh Shiny!

She called again a few minutes later to ask if she could buy headphones. I’ve been in a fibro fritz for weeks now, so I had no idea why she was asking me, since she has her own money, and pays her credit card bill herself. She reminded me of the family rule of no one being allowed to buy themselves anything from the week before Thanksgiving until Christmas. Depending on how good the shirts are at shirt.woot.com, I will sometimes extend that all the way from Halloween.

Since this Christmas is more of the “do it yourself” variety, I hadn’t really thought about buying anything. We all got our presents somewhat early, although in Ron’s case, he’s getting a piece at a time as he builds a new gaming system; something he’s needed for quite a while. Ron has no vices, so gaming is his only stress relief. I’m probably more supportive of his gaming than he is himself, as I’m always the one saying, “Just get the damned thing and stop whining.” Of course, he never gets a game until it’s at least three months old and on sale for a fraction of the price. As a woman who is a serious bargain shopper, I can totally appreciate that.

While Aub’s question rolled around in my head for a second, I was about to tell her to go ahead and get them when I suddenly remembered “The Christmas That Mommy Tried To Kill Santa.” I could not possibly bear the anguished cries of my offspring should I dare to break a single family tradition, or have them wake up to discover no stocking stuffers or tree presents. When I say tree presents, I mean presents that are on the tree. When I was a kid, I distinctly remember Karen Carpenter singing about presents on the tree, not under it. Anyway, I think it was the kids’ dad who started the whole tree present tradition back when we were married, and it just kinda stuck.

When Matt was 15, and Aubrey was 10, I figured we were done with that whole Santa thing. Up until then, our family tradition was to not have any presents out, other than if someone got a stocking stuffer specifically for someone else. On Christmas morning, stockings would be filled, presents piled under and around and in the tree. Each stocking would have presents wrapped in a specific paper. There were no name tags. Everyone knew which presents were theirs by the paper that was in their stocking.

That year, I was so tired, and thought they really wouldn’t care anymore. I wrapped a present, put a name tag on it, and put it under the tree. Suddenly my son started shrieking like a slasher movie star. “AUGGGHHH! WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” I said I was wrapping presents. “NOOOO. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!! YOU CAN’T WRAP PRESENTS! SANTA BRINGS THE PRESENTS, NOT YOU!” I was stunned. Both kids were adamant that I stop what I was doing, and let Santa do what he (she) does. So with two days left until Christmas, I went to buy two different rolls of Santa paper, so that I could wrap presents properly, and in secret. I never tried such a thing again.

This year, in spite of Matt’s present consisting of us paying for him to go back to school, in spite of Aubrey getting a tablet, in spite of Ron building his own computer, I cannot kill Santa. I told Aubrey, no, she could not buy herself anything for the next month. I have started shopping for stocking stuffers and tree presents. They know there won’t be any huge, surprise boxes under the tree this year, but they expect presents on the tree. At 23 and 18, they are quite obviously too old to believe in “Santa” but they will not give up what has become their family traditions.

Once again, there are two rolls of secret Santa paper…last year’s paper is never to be reused. Stockings will be hung, and this year, we have a chimney, so they will be placed with care. It does not matter that they do not live at home. They will be home for Christmas, and home at Christmas means burnt cinnamon rolls, Owens country sausage patties, coffee, hot chocolate, and mimosas for breakfast. Home at Christmas means that stockings will be stuffed, and presents on the tree. As their mom, it is forever my job to make sure that this is always home.

So yes, they will be home for Christmas. You can count on it.

“I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me. Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree. Christmas Eve will find me where the love light beams. I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams.”

Raise Your Glass!

Every morning, I start off my day by checking my email, facebook, and blog stats. This morning, I noticed that I only had one personal referrer so far, and it was from a blog I had not yet read about, called Inspired Every Moment. I always like to check out those who check me out, so I clicked on the blog link, and once there, I was shocked, amazed, excited, and honored to find that the author, Katherine, had nominated me for/awarded me the:

For the many, many, many of us who’ve no idea what the Liebster Blog award is, it’s a really nice way for someone to say, “Hey, I really like your blog. I notice you have less than 200 followers, but I think you deserve a whole lot more. Let’s see if we can fix that, shall we?”

Inspired Every Moment is a self-help blog, with fantastic and practical tips on how to improve one’s self-esteem and live a happier life. I wish I could squish her into my pocket and take her with me wherever I go. Actually, thanks to my new tablet, I can do just that!

Of course, there are rules to be followed upon the acceptance of such a gracious award. First, one must thank the nominating blogger. Thank you, Katherine! Your nomination came just when I needed a little external validation. I’m sure you’d say I shouldn’t need such a thing, but I am still very new to having people read what I write and like it, so it always comes as a happy surprise.

Secondly, one must nominate five other blogs with less than 200 followers (not everyone has their stats in their sidebar, so sometimes you just have to guess) that one feels deserve more attention. With that in mind, I hereby pass the Liebster Blog Award torch to:

1. Just Me  A heartwrenching blog about one woman’s personal experience with domestic violence.

2. The Girl With The Ripped Jeans  A brand new blog by a teen girl who hopes to be sort of an advice column for other teens, or parents who are wondering what their teen is up to. While she only has two posts so far, I’m nominating her because I believe that teenagers are just as wise as us adults, just in a different way, and I think she has a lot to offer.

3. De vez en cuando yo tambien (or “Once in a while, so do I”)  Written by a man who goes by R, this is a soul-wide-open kind of blog that grabbed me with its honesty. It’s funny how I found him; we both commented on a post on Blog of A Starting College Student at the same time, so he ended up right below me. Ever the curious one, I clicked and that was that. To be completely honest, I like this blog partly because some of it is in English, and some in Spanish. Since I am trying to increase my Spanish vocabulary beyond “Muy bien, y tu?” it’s an incredibly pleasant way of doing so. Plus in my head, I imagine he’s really hot.

4. Because I Said  New Girl offers up this blog that is creative, hilarious, and made me choke on a bite of tamale from reading while eating. Fair warning…only read when you don’t have something that could be forced from a bodily orifice in said orifice at the same time.

5. Stronger Than The Sky Another brand new blog, also by a young adult. While their blog currently is cloaked in gender secrecy, and there are only two posts as of yet, their writing is exquisite, and I cannot wait for more.

And in the spirit of the Liebster Blog Award, I came across Molecular Love (and other facts of life) while trying to figure out from whom the Liebster Blog Award originated (answer: no one really knows). Since she’s already won, I can’t really nominate her, but she definitely deserves mention!

Last, but not least, one must spread knowledge about the Liebster Blog Award, which I’m pretty sure this entire posts fulfills that requirement.

Once again, thank you a million times over, Katherine, for thinking so highly of my writing. Here’s to hoping that Inspired Every Moment will soon not qualify for the Liebster Blog Award. C’mon 200!

“So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways, all my underdogs. We will never be, never be anything but loud and nitty gritty, dirty little freaks.”

I Hate To Break It To You, Babe

Being 18 is tough. I see it all over facebook. My daughter, her friends, their friends…there is so much angst, The Cure would have a field day. And of course, as parents, we think we know what’s best. At the very least, we have a wiser perspective; we’ve lived longer, we’re more experienced, we’ve already made all these mistakes.

As mothers especially, we have seen love come and go. The unimportant ones, we simply forget about. It’s the important ones, the ones that make us think, “shoulda, coulda, woulda,” that we hold as cautionary tales. Some of us, like me, even write them down, with the intention of showing them to our far future children. Eventually, we hold out these tear stained pages as an offering: “Look,” they say, “I’ve been there. I know how this story ends. Listen to my hard earned wisdom. I was once where you are right now. I made this choice. It was the wrong one. You should make the other one.” Sometimes, if we’re one of the lucky ones, our pages are a little different: “I’ve been there. I know how this story ends. Listen to my hard earned wisdom. I was once where you are right now. I made this choice. It was the right one. You should make it, too.”

It’s our fault, really. We spend 18 years of their lives telling them that once they turn 18, they’ll be able to make their own decisions, do what they want, be what they want, go where they want. Really, the part we forget to say is, “as long as it’s what I want for you.”

The thing of it is, we do know what we’re talking about (mostly). We know what makes a good mate (for us), we know what makes a good job (for us), we know what is dangerous, scary, right, wrong…for us. But what if they want something different in their mate? Ron is the best husband ever, but he does not like to go out, go places, do things, watch tv, go to movies. For me, I know that the things that he does do are a million times more important than the things that he doesn’t. Aubrey may or may not find those same qualities important. I hope that I have taught her to value faithfulness, respect, loyalty, over just, “Damn, he’s sexy.” I remember at her age, sense of humor was the dealbreaker trait. Without a sense of humor, it was over before it began. She may have a different dealbreaker trait.

Certain things should be dealbreakers without question. If they want you just for sex, it’s over. If they are stupid, if they are liars, if they are disrespectful, if they are abusive (or even show the slightest potential to become abusive), if they are possessive and jealous, if they use illegal substances, and if they are married or dating someone, those should be dealbreakers no matter who you are. The problem is at 18, one lacks the experience and wisdom to determine if a person has some of these qualities…although hopefully one can tell if someone is married or in a relationship.

The flip side is, they have to make some pretty stupid mistakes in order to gain that experience and wisdom. Hopefully they don’t do something life-wrecking along the way, like get pregnant, get married, be beaten and abused, become addicted to an illegal substance. Really, that is the best we can hope for. We can talk, and talk, and talk, and hopefully they absorb some of it, but sometimes it feels like the view into Homer Simpson’s brain. Marge is talking to him, and while he nods his head and agrees, all he’s thinking about are doughnuts and beer.

Even for girls, at 18, their frontal lobe (the part of the brain that controls judgement) is like jello. For an 18 year old boy, his frontal lobe is almost liquified. We set them loose at a time in their lives when they are overwhelming biologically stupid.

They tend to forget that we’ve raised them, so we know a little bit about them, such as the things they find interesting. We can point out classes, and plead for them to take them. We can point out boyfriends and plead for them to date them. We can show them job opportunities and plead for them to apply. However, what they want is to be someone different. Someone we don’t know. They want to be their own person, not the one they think we created.

So yes, a lot of times they will do the exact opposite of what we want, merely because we want it. Here’s the bit they don’t get…sometimes they want it too, but just won’t do it out of pure spite. It’s called individuation, and it’s a necessary, biological, and psychological part of growing up.

All we can do is step back and be there to catch them when they fall; and they WILL fall. That’s the whole “experience” part of it. Sometimes they just have to touch the stove to see if it is hot. That’s partly because of their biological stupidity, and mostly because they are positive we are wrong, for no other reason than that we are older than they are.

They have their own plan. It’s not our plan. The more we try to save them from their biological stupidity, the more they will think about doughnuts and beer. The best we can do is wait until they hit 22 ( for girls) or 25 ( for guys), and hope they become reasonable, rational human beings. Yes, they will screw stuff up beyond repair. Good relationships will end, job opportunities will be lost, and they’ll change majors three times before they graduate…if they graduate.

Have a little faith that you did your job as good as you could. Trust that they are learning from these mistakes. Believe that for the most part, they are doing the right thing; they are…. for them. We are not them. They are not us. And that is a good thing.

” Who cares if you disagree? You are not me. Who made you king of anything? So you dare tell me who to be? Who died and made you king of anything? All my life, I’ve tried to make everybody happy while I just hurt and hide, waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide.”

Oh How I Loved Everybody Else

(I apologize for the length, but it wouldn’t have made as much sense if I’d left any out.)

Today, while everyone stuffs themselves full of “turkey gravy dressing pies” (a sign from a local barbecue place), and says all the things and the people and the blessings for which they are thankful, I have a slightly less shiny Thankfulness apple with which to grace the day.

Today, I am incredibly grateful for my therapist. Week after week, she listens to me whine in circles, as I go over the same things, again and again. Every once in a while, I actually get it. We celebrate, she validates me, and we move on to the next thing to whine over. It is because of my therapist that I can write this today, without feeling too much pain, anger, and resentment.

It has taken me a really long time, and thousands of dollars in therapy, to accept that the family I was born into will never, ever be the family that every child deserves. I have no relationship with my sister, who is quite literally insane. My biological father died before I ever got to meet him, although I am beyond grateful for the family that he left me; my brothers and their children, and THEIR children are a constant joy in my life. My adopted father…well, that’s a post for another time. This post is about my mother.

When I was growing up, full of pain, miserable, lonely, sad, and abused, I had never heard the word narcissistic, and had no idea what it meant. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I finally started to have some insight into my childhood. Although not the perfect answer to my question of why, I was able to find some glimpse of recognition that my mother would never be whom I needed her to be. She was never going to be supportive, or encouraging. She was NEVER going to put me first. Parental sacrifice was as foreign to her as parental support was to me.

The few people who know the entire story of my childhood know I have every reason to be angry with my adopted dad and they almost always wonder why I am angrier at my mother. The fact is, no matter how awful, damaging, and destructive my father was, my mother was worse. My mother did the worst thing imaginable: she didn’t protect me. She didn’t protect me from him, and she most certainly didn’t protect me from her. The screaming, beatings, “teasing,” psychological torture, and did I mention the screaming and beatings? All of those things added up to more awful than what my dad did. Don’t you dare try to defend her by saying that maybe she didn’t know about it. She knew. She always knew. I could give you example after example as proof that she knew how awful he was.  But she looked the other way, because HER needs were being met. Mine didn’t matter. Even when police became involved (on more than one occasion), I was made to lie, threatened with what I perceived at the time as a bad thing…being separated from my family.

Thanks to strong paternal genetics, I am smart. Throughout my school years, I received many recognitions, and had countless opportunities to shine. The only time my mother would ever say anything positive towards me was if someone else was around, and even then, it was nothing more than a, “This is my daughter, she’s so smart!” kind of comment. If there were a school event, more often than not, my mother would drop me off, and come back when it was over. I came to expect it, and eventually stopped asking her to attend.

Don’t get me wrong…my mother did a lot of things for me. She is a whiz with a sewing machine, and I had numerous couture dresses, a new one for every dance. But was it because she loved me and wanted me to look beautiful? Uhm, no. It was one of many opportunities for her to be able to point at me and say, “I slaved over that dress. Isn’t it great? Aren’t I wonderful and talented?” I was nothing but an artist’s canvas, and got just as much attention from her. Anything done for me was for her own glorification, and if she wasn’t going to get center stage, she wanted nothing to do with it. But the one thing I NEEDED her to do, the one thing that she could have done that would have made a phenomenal shift in my life, one simple little thing…she did not do. She never got me help. I didn’t see a therapist until I was 21, and by then, I was quite the mess. And those thousands and thousands of dollars in therapy bills? She’s never paid one penny.

Several times, I cut her from my life completely. The last time was because she threw me out of her house for throwing away a newspaper…that was a month old…that was still in the wrapper…that was surrounded by about thirty other newspapers also in their wrappers. My mother is a hoarder. When I was a child, things weren’t so bad, but when it became just her and my dad, it really took off. I remember one afternoon going over to check on my dad, and he was sitting in his chair, watching tv, while roaches crawled all over him. Why didn’t I call adult protective services? Because he wasn’t infirm, or unable to take care of himself.  He chose to live that way, and I knew from experience that trying to get involved was useless, and would only hurt me.

She was out of my life from November, 2002, until sometime early 2009. For over six years, she made no effort to contact me. At one point during that time, she had to have bypass surgery. My dad begged me to call her. He said she was scared she was going to die, and that she really wanted to talk to me. They were no longer even married at that point (which is fodder for another post someday), but my dad still kept trying to get me to talk to her.

After much thought, prayer, and counsel, I decided that if I were on my deathbed, I would want a chance to say my piece, to make peace, to find forgiveness. Not even my heartless self could deny her that. So I called. It was my fault for having expectations, I know. It was my fault for thinking she wanted to apologize, to ask me to forgive her, to tell me that she loved me and was proud of me. She did none of those things. She had remarried to a very financially comfortable gentleman, which I knew. What she said to me, after several years of not a word between us…what she said, as she lay on what she believed was her deathbed…what she said was, “Do you remember that pearl that I got out of that oyster at the Zuider Zee (a restaurant that my parents used to love)? My /new husband/ had it made into a ring for me, just like I always wanted, and if anything happens, I want Aubrey to have it. She’s my only June grandbaby, and it’s her birthstone, too.” At which point, she started crying, and I was left angry, hurt, and speechless. I said (quite honestly), “You’ll be in my thoughts,” then hung up the phone. I knew I would be thinking about this for a long time, so it was not a lie.

I remember at the time that I was SOOOO angry. I was livid. I threw things, I screamed, I cried. I was inconsolable. Her last possible words to me, and that’s what she chose to say??

I think that gives you enough of a background, so I’ll skip all the stuff in between and get to the point.

A few years ago, after much drama, since my sister grew up to be exactly like my mother, my mom got custody of five of my sister’s children (because child protective services is relatively useless). My oldest niece is three months younger than Aubrey, but a grade lower in school because her birthday is in September. Did I mention my sister is seven and a half years younger than I am, and I was 24 when my daughter was born? That is really meaningless, because it wouldn’t have mattered how old my sister was when she had my niece.

My niece suffered severe trauma from my sister, and continued trauma from my mother. She has never gotten help; help that she desperately needs if she is ever going to have a happy, normal life, and break the cycle of abuse that runs deep through our family. Recently, she began to post things on facebook that I found extremely concerning. I reached out to her several times, but unfortunately, we are not as close as I wish we were. Aubrey has her own life to deal with, and at 18, her cousin’s mental health is not her concern, nor does she have the tools to deal with it properly.

I called my mother last week, after a particularly scary post, and told her that my niece needs help. My mother gave multiple excuses why she couldn’t do it, and I countered every one. She finally agreed that if I could find someone who took their insurance, then my niece could go. I found someone who came highly recommended by my own therapist, and made an appointment for my niece. When I called to tell my mom, she refused to speak to me, and told my stepdad, “You talk to her.” He is a kind and caring person, and extremely logical, although he is pathologically codependent with my mother. I laid out my very rational argument, being extremely careful to not mention that my mother is as much the problem as my sister ever was. I swayed him to my side. I found out later from Aubrey, whom my niece texted when all the screaming started, that my mother was livid that he dared not agree with her. After much yelling, storming out, storming back in, and more yelling, the argument was dropped, and my mother won, as she always does. It is not I who lost…it is my niece, and her future self that are the true losers in this fight.

Although I am not a religious person, I do have a strong sense of spirituality, and I believe that the Universe puts things in my path just when I need them. Last week, it happened to be a book called, “The Narcissistic Family” by Stephanie and Robert Pressman. For the first time ever, I finally understand why my mother sacrificed me to a man because she didn’t want to be alone. I understand why no one stood up to my mother for me. No one protected me. Everyone looked the other way. I understand why my stepdad puts my mother before my nieces (oh, but never before my nephew, which pisses my mother off NO end). Because in a narcissistic family, the parental needs take precedence over the needs of the child. If there are two parents, often one parent spends all their time and energy catering to the needs of the other, and no one cares about the needs of the child(ren).

At the same time I was reading the book, my blog was growing. I was getting international readers. I began getting mail from people who told me I made them think, or laugh, or smile. I began to have followers (not in a cult way…that will be much later). My very first follower, the woman who does celebrate me, is proud of me, gives me encouragement, and is always willing to lend an electronic ear, was my mother-in-law.  I have a couple of friends, and the other six are total strangers.  I have had this blog since February, 2010 (and my mother-in-law has been along for the ride since the beginning!). In almost two years, my mother has read four of my posts. When I commented on facebook that none of my family reads my blog (and I was talking about my husband and children), my mother chimed in with, “I read it at the beginning and have read it over and over again. Then my laptop bit the dust and good-bye to all my favorites.” I guess the links on my facebook page weren’t enough??? And exactly how has she read it over and over again if she lost her favorites? And if she’s had access to facebook all this time (because she has posted since her laptop blew up), she’d have access to my blog, too, right???

I ranted and raved at my best friend, my husband, the taco guy down the street, my other best friend, and anyone else who would hold still long enough, about how mad I was at the lack of support from my mom, and her attempt to save face in front of my facebook friends by pretending that she cares. Then I ranted and raved at my therapist at my latest session; she calmed me down, I took a deep breath, remembered that my mother is the way she is, and it didn’t matter.

Then I told my therapist how my mother isn’t speaking to me, explained about what happened with my niece, and found myself getting all riled up again. And I realized something. All my ranting and raving over the last few days about my mom not reading my blog? That was displaced anger. My being upset about her not letting my niece get help? Also displaced anger. I was beyond angry. I was on fire, bursting at the seams with frustration…but not simply because of my niece or my blog…I was angry, on fire, and bursting at the seams with frustration at my mother not getting help for ME. For not being there for ME. For not considering ME important enough to get a fucking job and get me out of the situation she put me in. For not saving ME. For not protecting ME. I was angry at my mother…well, for not being my mother, but instead, for being herself.

Today is Thankgsiving. A day for families to be together. A day for people to celebrate each other, and all the joyful things in their lives. A day that my mother did not speak to me, because doing those things is less important to her than her being pissed off about my concern for my niece.

So today, I am thankful for peace and understanding. I am thankful that I did not have to hear anyone screaming about how unappreciated THEY are. I am thankful for my hilarious and talented son. I am thankful for my husband who loves to get me riled up, like a toy car that you wind and let go on the floor, by pretending he disagrees with me. I am thankful for my daughter who, along with her brother, give me a reason to celebrate them and be proud of them every day. I am thankful for my wonderful friends…the new ones I have now, and the ones I had back then…they helped me survive, and they had no idea they were even doing so. And I am thankful for those of you who take the time to read my posts. You don’t have to. You’re not my mom. You CHOOSE to, and that makes it all the more special.

“And when I talk about therapy, I know what people think; that it only makes you crazy and in love with your shrink. But oh how I loved everybody else, when I finally got to talk so much about myself…”

I’m On My Way, I’m Making It, Big Time

In an odd little quirk of fate, a lovely Brit who goes by the name “Mummy Big Bum” happened across my blog one day, and left a very sweet comment. So I visited her blog, and found it hilariously funny. Since then, we’ve been exchanging post readings and comments, but today, Mummy Big Bum graced me with the:

Never before I have received any kind of recognition for my writing, so this is a huge honor. However such fame comes at a great price, as I must now tell you seven things about myself.

#1. On Saturday, I got a concussion while dancing. I had called up my friend Will to see if he wanted to hang out. We decided to meet up early, then walk along the Riverwalk extension (or as Will snidely refers to it, as does the city, “The Beautiful Riverwalk Extension,” implying that the extension on the south side of town is not so lovely). We were going to watch the bats come out from one of the underpasses, and then wander down to the oldest VFW hall in San Antonio. We did meet up early, but I hadn’t had dinner yet, so we went to eat, which caused us to miss the bats. However, Will has a great eye for composition, and I took several really cool artsy shots that he pointed out along the way to the VFW. Once we got there and Will grabbed a beer, (I’m gluten free), he dragged me into the corner near the juke box. We had a rather passionate disagreement on the virtues of Garth Brooks (who is awesome, no matter what Will thinks), and Will wandered away for a few moments. In an effort to be nice, I chose a few Styx songs. This particular juke box really had no interest in playing the songs we chose, as even though it wasn’t playing when we got there, and no one put in any songs before us, it played several random songs before it began to intersperse our songs between the randomness. However, the juke box had excellent taste, as it rambled off some oldies from our high school days, causing us to reminisce about Senior Parties and what incorrigible creatures we were. As we sang at the top of our lungs, Will jumped up, grabbed my hand, and pulled me around to dance, in spite of my cries of, “I can’t dance!” It had been 15 years since the last time I danced, so I couldn’t remember a two step to save my life, or any step for that matter. Fortunately, Will is an excellent dancer, so I did what Ginger Rogers would do…all the same stuff, just backwards. Truthfully, Will led me along quite well, and other than dropping me on my ass when he tried to dip me, we had a grand time as we laughed and sang and danced. Once our songs were over, we decided to head to a karaoke bar that Will knew of in our area. I was expecting a dive, but it was actually a nice place, and because we got there before they started the karaoke, we got to sing several songs before people started piling in. Of course, we ended up dancing again, in spite of Will having had a few more beers, and there not being a dance floor. Although he was able to spin quite skillfully in one spot, I was not. As he let go of my hand so he could turn, I became a victim of centrifugal force and landed on my head, flat out on the cement. I laughed my ass off, got up and kept dancing, since it didn’t hurt…until the next morning, when I could not rotate my head without shards of pain shattering from the back of my skull. However, I would do it all again in a heartbeat, as I have not had that much fun in ages.

2. While writing #1, I realized I have been to that VFW hall. My mom used to take me down there while she played bingo. My cousins and I would beg for dimes so we could get these giant gumballs that were hollow. We would bite them in half, and then use them as little cups to drink water from the fountain, so the water would taste like bubblegum spit. I couldn’t have been any older than four, as Playland Park was still in existence. I remember this because my mom’s bingo buddy was a nurse named Virginia who was always incredibly nice to me. She would take me to ride the saucery thing that went up on one side. Sadly, Playland Park is nothing but undeveloped land surrounded by a chain link fence, with a few signs dangling pathetically. I can’t believe how much they let us run wild back then…in a bar, no less.

3. I was Miss Unpopular in high school. I was stuck in the netherworld between the potheads and the Laura Ashley dress wearers. I didn’t do pot, but I also didn’t have a stick up my ass. This left me with a tiny, but very loyal, group of friends, most of whom I am still friends with to this day. While I was completely against illegal substances, that didn’t stop me from drinking during most lunches of my junior and senior years. Which is the reason for #4.

4. I graduated third from the bottom of my class. Yes, even the potheads graduated above me. I believe this is a compelling argument for the legalization of marijuana. Not that alcohol was legal at my age…

5. I have eaten bear, reindeer, and bison. I know in the grand scheme of Iron Chef, these are not such weird foods, but they are to me. However, I’m a firm believer that while traveling, one should eat what the locals do. This was almost my downfall in England. On our first night there, we went to a pub. It looked like it was straight off the set of, “An American Werewolf In London,” complete with dart board, dark corners and everyone eyeing the strangers (that would be us). When I opened the menu, I was appalled to see that everything contained some internal organs of some kind of animal, and I don’t mean the regular muscle. I mean kidneys, hearts, intestines. Then it was either baked or fried. I had two edible “meals” the entire time I was in England. One was at our bed and breakfast and consisted of a bizarre but delicious breakfast of Campbell’s pork and beans, sliced fresh tomatoes, fried eggs, toast, and sausage links, served by the owner, a little old Irishman who spoke exactly like Darby O’Gill, only faster. The second was at Belgo’s, a restaurant in the Theatre District. It was a Belgian restaurant, where the food was great, but the Chimay ale was fantastic. I accidentally thieved the bottle that my water was in, not realizing it actually cost 3 £; I still have it to this day, despite five moves since then.

6. I have moved like a gypsy. Other than a move to Tucson to my brother’s out in the desert, and from there to a trailer in his friend’s front yard, then to a house in the city, all of the rest of my moves have been within San Antonio. Last I counted, I had lived in 22 places, including this place. I’m 42, and not military, so it’s just a weird quirk of mine that I used to enjoy moving every six months to a year. Now, I despise the thought of packing, and unpacking; with age, moving has lost its appeal.

7. I have a bizarre shoe fetish. While Imelda Marcos would laugh at my measly 20 or so pairs, the bizarre thing is I will pick one pair of shoes and wear them until they fall apart. Oh sure, every once in a while I put on a pair of sandals, and they’ll end up under the buffet by the front door. Or a pair of trainers, after a misquided and singular attempt at “working out,” will end up under the bed. Meanwhile, the rest of them lie languishing in various buckets and closets. Occasionally, Aubrey will steal a pair; as they joyously escape shoe purgatory, the rest look on with jealously glaring from the tips of their toes.

There you go…seven things about me; three more things and you would have reasons to hate me.

Now I get to nominate 15 sites that I love. Obviously  Mummy Big Bum is one of my absolute favorites, but she was already nominated. So, here are the other sites that I love to follow on WordPress:

1. Lesley Carter – Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences has some of the best photography and the bravest adventures, including pregnancy. Lesley is so honest about her thoughts before such things as jumping out of an airplane, she makes me believe that I could do it, too. I’m sure I could, but I most definitely won’t.

2. words i never said writes the most beautiful post breakup poetry. She bares her soul in every page, and I love her imagery.

3. Whimsy Dreams is funny little slices of life, short and sweet.

4. terriblytorn13 is a sad journal of a woman in an abusive relationship. However, I keep reading, hoping she’ll figure it out. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and way too reminiscent of my first marriage, but I guess that’s why I keep hoping… Someone needs to send her a copy of, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.

5. A Pretty Penny is a fashion site, devoted to showing outfits cobbled together from bits of inexpensive wardrobe pieces. She is always cute, fashionable, and thrifty!

6. AttaGirlProductions is a fantastic new Latino theatre company in San Antonio, dedicated to expanding the range of opportunities, while supporting existing production companies. Full disclosure: I am the Social Media Director, but even if I weren’t, it’s still a cool site.

7. lostinthearmsofdestiny is another heartbreak site with the emotional roller coaster. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a tv, but I love breakup sites, and this one is really good.

8. The Ballad of Joey Flowers made me realize I am not the only writer who ties their posts to song lyrics. Joey is fabulous, and more about the recovery from a breakup than the breakup itself…and he has great taste in music!

9. Peas and Cougars is a hilarious cartoon journal and humor site. She’s was recently Freshly Pressed, so check her out. I love her stick figures.

10.  I Want Ice Water covers everything, from art to relationships, science…and he always has fantastic pics.

11. Where Do Gaybies Come From? is the funniest damned blog about being a gay dad. Besides the proud papa posts, he also talks about the realties of raising children in current American society.

12. A Full Color Life is a photo blog that is absolutely gorgeous. From raindrops to puppies, they cover it all, and beautifully.

13. londonbai is a creative writing blog. Mostly fan fiction, there are some posts that are almost short stories. Great imagery, but very dark.

14. ForeverBeautiful is such a powerful site about how positive thinking can change your childhood damage and allow you to have an undamaged adulthood. Powerful and heartbreaking, but also very positive and forgiving. I hope I can learn to forgive like that.

15. OhGoodieDesigns is a eventy and party planning site. The owner has been referred to as the next Martha Stewart. Check out her party tips and you’ll see why.

My 15 favorite blogs (and I should note they are in no certain order!). I don’t know how many are interested in the “Tell Me About Yourself” award, but hopefully a few. Either way, these are all great blogs, worth checking out…award or no.

“The place where I come from is a small town. They think so small, they use small words. But not me…I’m smarter than that! I worked it out. I’ll be stretching my mouth to let those big words come right out. “

With Their Flashlights and Their Semaphores

It’s difficult to tell this story, because only half of it is mine. The other half belongs to someone else, who likely doesn’t want their part told. So I’ll do my best to be true to both halves, while being true to both selves.

I have a friend. As they said earlier this evening, if someone had once told them that one night, they would be sitting, talking to me and sharing some of their deepest secrets, they would have laughed their asses off. I have to say, if someone had told me that we would be sitting, talking and they would be sharing some of their deepest secrets, I would have laughed my ass off.

In spite of us knowing each other for 36 or so years, we’ve only been friends for about the last four. Before that, hate would be too strong a word to describe our relationship, because that would have meant feeling something. I truly felt nothing. They were a non-entity, moving in much different circles than my own. When we were younger, I saw them as weak; if I could deal with all my problems without delving into the things they did, then they did not deserve my attention, and most definitely not my respect.

But something happened today. They hit a rough patch. Because I would not be here if it weren’t for my best friend recognizing my rough patch, I realized that they needed a friend, even if they didn’t realize it themselves. Honestly, they couldn’t understand why I was calling, and why I was insisting that we were getting together. I gave them a choice of meeting somewhere, or hanging out at their house. They chose to meet. Throughout the day, they called me twice, both times confused as to what my motive truly must be.

My only motive was to be a friend. I wanted to be the kind of friend that I am lucky enough to have. I was starting to suspect that they had never had such a thing before. They kept saying they had friends, which I know they do, but I explained that they were going to sit with me and talk, and they weren’t getting a choice in the matter. I didn’t give a shit if we sat around discussing the weather, they were going to talk about anything that they wanted, and I was going to listen, without judging.

That is what we did. We sat on a park bench and they talked and I listened. They talked about things both important and not. We laughed and kidded, and I learned that for 32 years, I was a judgemental bitch. I only saw the outside, and just assumed that the inside matched. I could not possibly have been more wrong. The more we talked, the more I realized that I was sitting next to a truly beautiful, strong, resilient, brave, caring person. I am honored to be their friend, and honored that they consider me as such.

“Sometimes I see myself fine, sometimes I need a witness. And I like the whole truth, but there are nights I only need forgiveness. Sometimes they say, ‘I don’t know who you are, but let me walk with you some.’ And I say, ‘I am alone, that’s all, you can’t save me from all the wrong I’ve done.’ But they’re waiting just the same, with their flashlights and their semaphores, and I act like I have faith, and that faith never ends…but I really just have friends.”