i cried so much that day

It’s been nine years since the phone’s loud ring woke me out of a slumber. Nine years since my mom told me my grandfather had fallen and hit his head just before bed– that she had to call 911 and that he was en route to the hospital.

I knew it the moment I heard the shakiness in her voice that he was gone.

They didn’t pronounce him dead until after they got him to the hospital so it was technically November 8, 2005 when this happened. But I always remember it as the 7th.

November fucking seventh.

I spent that day at work. I believe it was a Tuesday.

My brother called me in the afternoon to tell me he had enough with his son’s attitude and was going to be granting Jordan’s wish to go live with his mother who never wanted anything to do with the boy. But Jordan was 13, my brother was on disability with little money coming in, and they were constantly fighting. So Marco took the easy way out and let Jordan go.

I cried so much that day.

I left work and headed out to my brother’s house an hour away. I had to give my nephew a hug before he left. I guess I knew it then that our lives were all going to be so very different from that moment on.

I wasn’t there when his mother picked him up, but I was there when she left him 9 years prior. I was there on his first day of Kindergarten. I was there at all of his soccer games. I was there helping him with his spelling. I was there teaching him how to tie his shoes. I was there going on bike rides with him. I was there feeding him dinner at night and getting him off to school in the mornings.

After saying goodbye to Jordan and trying my best to get him and his dad to talk, I drove home that night in tears.

I cried so much that day.

By the time I got home I was so spent that I just undressed and climbed into bed as soon as I got in the door. And then the phone rang. And then it was cemented: my life was forever changed.

Not all anniversary’s are happy ones. Like this one. November 7th. The day my brother stopped talking to my nephew and the day the most wonderful man in the world left this earth.

Fuck you November 7.

change

Things have changed even around here since the last time I blogged. That’s what life is about, really: change. Without change, you’re stagnate. And who wants to live life like that? Yet it happens all the time.

All the time.

Fear is an ugly creature that prevents many of us from changing.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of the known. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of happiness. Fear of solitude. Fear of being even more motherfucking empty.

As if that’s even possible.

When you get to that empty point… where nothing seems to be going your way and you sincerely wonder why the fuck you’re even still alive… that’s when you need change the most. But it’s probably also when you’re most afraid.

I’ve been there, man. I know.

But that won’t help you and I know that too.

You have to find something. Some.Thing. Anything. Quit thinking about the shit you can’t change. Instead think of the stuff you can change. And do it. Change. Make the change.

It’s worth it.

You’re worth it.

Truly you are.

branded

I’m the youngest of three, the baby of the family. This isn’t something that I’m just coming to terms with now at 40-something; it’s something that’s practically been branded.

BABYbrand

When I was little, Marco (3 years older) and Melinda (7 years older) would tease me all the time. That’s all I really remember about my youth with them– the endless teasing and taunting. Marco wasn’t so bad; he just didn’t want me hanging around him and his friends which was hard for this baby to comprehend because all I ever wanted to do was “boy things.” Melinda, on the other hand, oh was she ruthless. Actually it wasn’t so much teasing that she would do either. She just had these ridiculous expectations and when not met, she could be darn right brutal doling out her punishment.

It’s probably typical sibling behavior, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I very much felt like the odd one out when it came to my siblings and family.

When my parents split when I was 9, both Marco and Melinda instantly sided with our mom, leaving me, the baby, to vacillate between Mama and Papa.

Soon, it became quite clear that I was used as a fucking pawn.

Papa would ask me about Marco and Melinda; Mama would ask me if I had the child support check. Neither of them ever asked me about me and that’s not me being a baby, that’s me being a pre-adolescent needing reassurance, love, guidance and getting anything but.

Poor me, I know.

Every single time my dad would ask about Marco or Melinda, I would feel a sting inside. A slice to my heart. I tried convincing myself that I was being dramatic and that of course Papa loved me like he did them. I tried convincing myself that the only reason he always asked about them was because he missed them and they refused to have any contact with him. But. The bottom line is that it made me feel like… well… nothing.

brand NOTHING

I honestly started wondering if maybe the only reason my dad picked me up for weekends was to get details about Marco, Melinda, and my mom. Yet I never said anything to him about how it made me feel; I never told him to stop.

I would continue gossiping and when it would be time to go home, I’d inquire about the check to give to Mama when he dropped me off. Lord knows I didn’t want her wrath bestowed upon me if I came home without some money.

Fast forward a lifetime and honestly (and sadly), things haven’t really changed.

Today my 80-year-old dad can’t go a day without complaining that he hears from nobody and that he has to go on The Facebook to find out anything. And he always, always asks if I’ve talked with my one nephew (my brother’s oldest 23 year-old son). Rarely does he ask how my own daughter is doing. Maybe it’s because he sees pictures of her on Facebook; maybe it’s because he knows I won’t ever let that ray of sunshine turn grey.

It’s a damn good thing I have faith in myself.

It’s a damn good thing I’m a great mom.

I may not be the best (attentive) wife, but my mom pants are always on.

I refuse to do unto my daughter what was done to me.

She won’t be getting belittled on the daily. She won’t be made to feel like nothing on the daily. It’s not going to happen.

She won’t be branded to feel insignificant.

 

brand X

what’s the frequency, kenneth?

I ate more than half of this fresh baked blueberry cobbler yesterday.

10468370_10201559881152956_4317389800106749885_n

 

It was quite delicious at first, but that’s not why I continued eating the thing. No, I continued eating it for various other reasons:

  • Because Taye didn’t get out of bed till Lovie and I were out the door to go to the park at 11:30AM.
  • Because she was too tired to ride her bike home and we had to wait for Taye to come get us. And wait. And wait because “getting clothes on” takes the man half a fucking hour each and every time.
  • Because he ate a piece of my pizza I reheated instead of getting his own that rested, already reheated, near the toaster oven.
  • Because I wanted to nap and during that hour I could hear Lovie shouting: “Where are you, dad? Where’d you go?!”
  • Because I know how immersed she gets while play-dohing, which she was when I laid down, so I can only imagine how long he was in the bathroom in which he spends hours daily. HOURS.
  • Because he disappeared back into the fucking bathroom, just minutes after I got up, where he stayed until Lovie and I started banging on the goddamn door to get his attention after going on a search for him.
  • Because Lovie begged her now-snoring-on-the-couch dad to open the front door so she could go downstairs to play since she was bored (I wouldn’t open the door for her).
  • Because I finally had fucking enough of her begging and his motherfucking snoring that I got up and started vacuuming the fucking play-doh bits while telling him to DO something with Lovie if he wasn’t going to open the door for her.
  • Because he then told me I was crazy …that I was hearing what I wanted to hear …that he wasn’t snoring …that he wasn’t sleeping …that he was just sitting there sprawled out on the couch (not sleeping) …that I was pissed because of something- who knows what- and he was the victim to my insanity.
  • Because I wanted to take him and shake him so fucking hard that maybe his head would snap off and then he’d be able to finally SEE that he DOES fall asleep on the fucking couch any and every goddamn time we’re all hanging out …that he DOES go to the bathroom multiple times a day and spends a RIDICULOUS amount of time in there every fucking time …that his kid is bored because he does NOTHING (active) with her …that he’s fat because he doesn’t fucking MOVE.
  • Because if I didn’t eat half of the fresh baked blueberry cobbler yesterday, I’m certain I would’ve packed a bag, grabbed my child’s hand, and left.

And why? Because he snores. Because he takes forever in the bathroom.

WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH?

Now, had I not just finished bleeding last week, I would’ve chalked up my insanity to PMS, but the fact is that I ate more than half a fucking blueberry cobbler yesterday because of all that shit up there.

Not because I was hungry.
Not because I wanted the funky shits.
Not because I just couldn’t stop eating it.

But because I gave up, like I often do, and turned to food.

I know this, and I’ve known this for a long time, yet I can’t seem to fix it.

But I sure as hell can grab another spoonful of that there deliciousness. Like it’s my job.

 

 

the big day

Tomorrow is a big day for my little girl.

As much as I want this change to happen, as much as I know this will be an amazingly good change…I also know that I’m going to cry. A lot.

I sat here today for over an hour trying to decide what the cake I ordered for tomorrow should say. The cake that will feed all the kids and all the staff (and then some) at Lovie’s daycare.

Tomorrow is her last day there. The cake is to help celebrate this milestone and help us say goodbye.

It would’ve been her last day there long ago, but there wasn’t an opening in her new school until now (summer program starts Monday). While Lovie is doted on like crazy at daycare/preschool (they treat her like a pop star), it’s really much more of a daycare environment than a preschool one. I’m not saying she should be schooled the entire day, but she’s so smart and I don’t want her to get bored (and Montessori school, which she’ll be attending, seems to be an amazingly perfect fit for Lovie and her independence and love of learning).

So tomorrow’s the day we finally say goodbye to daycare.

 

We’ve had some rough moments these past four-plus years—from getting ready in the morning to leaving her friends at the end of the day—but for the most part it’s all been pretty damn great. Especially since I’ve been able to spend nearly two hours more a day with her because the daycare was close to my work.

But tomorrow will be the last time we’ll spend so much time together during the work week. Tomorrow will be the last time I get to peek at her through the rear-view mirror as I drive the 20 miles to daycare to drop her off, or the 20 miles from daycare driving home. Tomorrow will be the last time we can jam out to Pompeii or Happy or yes, even the Wiggles. Tomorrow will be the last time she can ask me to stop for an Icee or chocolate ice cream because after tomorrow, we’ll be literally two minutes from home.

So what do you have written on a cake for such an occasion?

I almost went with a silly “got cake?” message. Then I thought maybe “eat me” would be fun, too. But this isn’t fun. This saying goodbye to the people who helped mold my baby into a little person, who helped her and encouraged her to sit up and crawl and walk and run and eat with a fork and use the bathroom, isn’t a ton of fun.

So then I thought maybe a simple “Thanks” on the cake would suffice. But really? “Thanks” on a big-ass sheet cake with a smiling sun and flowers?

Eventually I opted to leave it blank. Let the smiling sun and flowers speak for itself.

 

smiling-sun

 

Tomorrow is a big day for my little girl… and me.

 

************

#USA #WorldCup #IBelieve

I’ve tried SO hard not to get too excited. I really, really did. But … man, I can’t help it anymore. After Sunday’s game, I can’t help it. After all the attention the GREATEST GAME IN THE WORLD is finally getting in this country (#USA), I just can’t help it anymore. I can’t contain the excitement, the emotions regarding the US team in the World Cup.

See, I’m first generation born American (Chicago, IL). That means that both my mom and dad were born and raised in other countries: my mom hails from Austria, my dad from Italy. You don’t get more soccer than that.

Their love of the game was instilled in us very early on. Then the Chicago Sting formed just a few years after I was born so I absolutely grew up with soccer, soccer, soccer.

And it was amazing. It IS amazing.

For years I struggled with being a soccer fan in the US. It’s just not a popular sport here. Yes, it’s getting more and more popular– especially with kids– but it just doesn’t really get a lot of respect. I mean, even with the US team in the World Cup on the brink of possibly advancing to the next stage, there are still people talking about how boring the game is, etc.

I don’t get it. I’ve tried, I’ve really tried to see where they’re coming from. How they can think a sport with a ridiculous amount of time outs is more exciting than the pace of soccer. How they can think hitting a ball and catching it and running around bases is more exciting than soccer where they are in constant movement.

But I stopped. Long ago I stopped trying to defend soccer. I know it’s the greatest game in the world. I know most other sports derive from soccer. I know it’s bullshit that American Football stole soccer’s real name. I know.

And now… now?? Even if you hate the game, even if you find it as boring as watching the hair on your toes grow, even if you have no interest in the game whatsoever, you still hear about it.

And that it why I’m so emotional. That is why I can’t contain my excitement.

Because for the first time in my 40-plus years, people in this country are truly becoming excited about soccer.

 

she’s an ex for a reason

Except for the extra mileage entrenched around her glassy, stoned-looking eyes, her face looked the same—all smiley and everything. She reeked of sweet, yet medicinal perfume. A COACH bag dangled from her wrist, and sparkly jewelry adorned her fingers, ears, and neck.

I felt nothing; not rage, not excitement, not anything. And then she went toward my dad and hugged him. Then me. Then my husband.

Confusion drizzled over me.

I think my arm went up to kind of encase her as she hugged me like a normal person hugs—arms reached around and squeezing me a bit.

She wouldn’t stop smiling. She looked happy. Really happy. And that pissed me off a bit and fueled my judging her from her perfectly painted red toenails to her matching fake fingernails.

We all played follow the leader to the dining area of the steakhouse my nephew Jordan (her son) wanted us to meet at for his birthday dinner celebration.

It may have been nearly twenty years since we sat at the same table to have a meal, but she really hadn’t changed all that much: she still thought everything was funny, she still found nothing to talk about (and talk about it a lot), she still pulled off the Dumb Blond thing really well.

Only difference was that now she sat next to her boyfriend whom she was living with—along with his two kids, a 13-year-old and 5-year-old—instead of my brother and their children.

Anger started brewing as I started reflecting.

She can leave her own kids when they weren’t even 5 and 10 (now in their 20s) for occasional weekend visits with them, but here she is living with some guy and his kids, taking on a motherly role?

Her boyfriend’s 5-year-old, a girl, leaned against her and she put her arm around the girl and brought her in closer. Both with straw-colored hair, I’m sure the wait staff thought they were mother and daughter.

I looked over at Jordan whom she left when he wasn’t even 5. Was he seeing this too? Was he steaming inside too? Was he wondering why she, his own mother, could act motherly toward this little girl when she couldn’t act that way toward him nearly 20 years ago?

“What kind of wine do you have?” she asked the waiter, batting her glossy eyes at him while he rattled off a list of wines. “Oh,” she cackled before he finished with the list, “I’ll have a white zinfandel.”

I’m certain my eyes rolled at this point, but I pretended to be looking at the light fixtures to avoid confrontation. This was about Jordan and his birthday after all. This wasn’t about me and my disdain for this fake-ass, wanna-be-someone-she-never-will-be woman who used to be my best friend. It’s never been about that. It’s always about the kids. Always.

I squeezed my daughter in closer to me and asked if I could color with her, avoiding making anymore eye contact with Jordan’s mom.

I was, after all, waiting on a steak dinner to come, and I wanted to be able to stomach it.

 

Quote

“gift”

It’s hard not to smile when she does.

Never forced—those are everywhere—her smile brightens the dim,
lifts the despondent.

Her goodness, her kindness, her warmth…
it’s like she tries to infect us all with it through that smile.

She’s the epitome of stunning beauty—it radiates from her core.

What a gift she’s been.
What a gift she’ll be.

Even when the smile finally fades and her last breath is taken.

My Oma.

 

originally written 3/21/2013 here–one week before my Oma took her last breath