Little white cups with foil adhered on top. They lined the top shelf in the fridge. Mama would eat one here and there. She wasn’t one to share her food, yet she never tried hiding the yogurt. And when I asked if I could have one, I found out why. YUCK! I never really understood the appeal of yogurt.

And then Greek Yogurt entered the market (or I became more cognizant of its existance?).

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I can’t get enough of this stuff.

I feel so grown up sometimes.

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.

1994

It was definitely his eyes that caught my attention. They were quite beautiful. Blue. Big. Kind-looking. And the fact that he got stoned on the daily only seemed to brighten his eyes even more. Interesting thing that pot or crying does to one with light, bright eyes–makes them even more brighter. I know as my eyes are light as well–especially when compared to my dark hair and complexion. (I’ve got lots of experience with trying to hide my eyes when unhappy, after spending time crying. Sometimes for no real good reason, really. Or when there was a good reason. Like the weeks and months following a miscarriage when just the sight or sound of a small child moved me to tears.)

Glenn’s eyes weren’t ever really sad. On the contrary. I remember finding them so soothing, comforting. I remember not wanting to stop looking at them. And the fact that he seemed to want to look into mine as well… oh the butterflies.

I probably lost twenty pounds that Fall.

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.

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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.

 

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sickening sweet

It’s been a long time coming, but I made the decision a couple months back that it was time to really and truly treat myself better…to take care of me.

I finally made a doctor’s appointment for a physical and blood work several weeks ago and was told by said doctor what I already knew: I’m incredibly fat and need to change things. So I vowed to do just that. I started logging all foods that entered my system via My Fitness Pal (highly recommend, by the way). I was doing really well and was seeing a difference on the scale, too.

Then I got a call from the doctor’s office that I needed to go back into the office to discuss the blood test results. I suspected the outcome and was soon spot on in my thoughts:

I have diabetes.

When I was pregnant five years ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD). I was pissed off when I first discovered this, but once I learned more about GD and that it truly was the fault of my body’s system and not because I was old or fat, I accepted it and did all I needed to do to ensure my baby doll wasn’t born with diabetes. She wasn’t.

I was told then that because I got GD during pregnancy, chances were much greater that I’d get diabetes later in life.

I didn’t think they meant five fucking years later.

Again, upon learning of the diagnosis, I was pissed. But this time, instead of learning it’s the fault of my body’s system, I learned it was the fault of … ME.

The years I’ve spent consuming whatever the fuck I wanted caught up to me.

The thing that really upsets me about all this besides the fact that I did this to myself is that I’m not 80. I’m 41 (42 on Saturday). Forty fucking one. And I have diabetes. I have diabetes because of the shit food I’ve consumed most of my life. Because of the inactive lifestyle I’ve led most of my life. Because of ME.

***

It’s only been a couple of weeks since the diagnosis, but I’ve made significant changes that I feel I have to live with forever and always, amen.

I don’t want to die.

I don’t want to have a foot or leg cut off for not giving a shit about my blood sugar levels.

***

The good thing about being proactive about all of this is that I can change this diagnosis. I can. And I will! There’s just no other way around it. I have to eat natural foods- low in calorie, low in carbs. I cannot have anymore sweets. I just can’t do it.

Chrysanthemum

The time has finally come to be good to me and that’s exactly what’s happening from herein out. Period, end of story.

But not end of me.

Nick’s buddy: It’s time to move on.

My cousin and his wife Casey lived next door so I went for a visit one day but my cousin wasn’t home. Casey was though, so we hung for a bit before she asked if I wanted to visit with another neighbor.

Despite all of us living in the same neighborhood, only houses away from one another, it had been years since I’d last seen her neighbor Nick who was outside the back of his house when we got there. We crept through the garage to see him.

Nick looked just as I remembered: tall and lanky; dark hair; dark, expressionless eyes.

“You guys wanna play some softball?” Nick asked upon seeing us.

Talk about it being a long time since seeing or doing something… I was a kid the last time I played softball, but I loved the game so I was in.

First up to bat was Nick. He slammed the ball way out in the field so that his buddy, who looked super familiar, had to fetch it.

Next was Casey. She made contact with the ball but nothing like Nick had.

Then there was me. It had been 20 years or so since I’d even picked up a bat, but how hard could it be?

Hard.

I had so little strength to grip the bat; my hands fumbled to get in position despite my brain knowing exactly what I needed to do.

Finally I mustered up enough power to lift the bat and Nick’s buddy pitched the ball. I swung and totally missed the ball, but the bat went flying from my hands just past Nick’s buddy’s head.

They all just looked at me.

“Lessgo shower,” Nick proclaimed.

Like robots, we all four headed toward the shower, which was a single standing box shower in the back of a huge pickup truck.

We all wore bathing suits and showered quickly. First was Nick, then his buddy, then Casey.

When it was my turn, I had a hard time not watching Nick’s buddy sitting in the front of the pickup truck, behind the steering wheel. While the water poured over my body, he just sat there looking ahead and smiled. I couldn’t stop watching him sit there and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew him from somewhere.

“You done?” Nick asked, popping his head in through the shower door.

With a towel wrapped around me and my hair dripping water down my back, we all started walking back into the house. All except for Nick’s buddy.

“Hey man, you comin or what?” Nick shouted toward the truck.

There was no answer, no movement.

“Hey!” Nick shouted again.

And again there was no response.

Nick, Casey, and I all looked at one another and then back toward the truck. In slow motion, we moved toward the truck. Nick opened the passenger side door.

“Yo!” Nick reached to shake his buddy by the shoulder. “Dude, you comin?”

Nick’s buddy, staring out the front window of the truck, hands on the steering wheel as if he were driving, smiled. Then he slowly turned his head to us. His bright blue eyes practically glowed, while the warmest smiled I’d ever seen in all my life said hello.

Nick’s buddy was Robin Williams. THE Robin Williams.

“Yeah man,” Robin said. “Lessgo.”

***

(This is a dream I had early this morning before my alarm sounded. Names, other than Robin Williams’, have been changed.)

***

It’s been a rough couple of days. For many of us.

The news on Robin Williams’ death shook a lot of us to the core. Depression is an evil motherfucker. Sometimes we think we may be doing well and then bam! something transforms us back into the depths of the dark hole.

Find the light, my friends. It’s shining so goddamn brightly, I promise.

You may not see it this very second, but keep looking and when you do see it, focus on it till it envelops you instead of that fucking black hole that you’re submerged in.

Goddamn is life hard. But it truly is a gift. Truly.

the sun room

When we pulled up to the building, I was a bit scared. I’m not a fan of big black iron gates in front of a home. It’s not very welcoming. More than that, the little lawn tucked behind and in front of the gate wasn’t very green and desperately needed to be trimmed.

This place had zero curb appeal. What were we doing here?

Still, we got out of the car to take a closer look.

Taye carried Lovie, then 7 months old, in her infant car seat carrier. We had about six concrete steps to walk up before coming to the front door of the building. Then once inside, we had another 17 steps till we reached the top floor apartment we were looking at possibly renting.

It was a three bedroom, two bath with in-unit laundry and the price was on the high end for us but we had to consider it for the extra bed and bathroom.

Immediately upon entering, my eyes focused on the “sun room” in the very front of the home, just off the living room. The windows inviting all the natural lighting excited me and I soon forgot about the dreary outside of the building. When I turned my head to look toward the rest of the apartment, I was greeted with a super long hallway that went from the front all the way to the back of the apartment, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms being outsourced from the hallway.

I immediately envisioned Lovie learning to walk and one day running down that hallway. Viewing the rest of the place just added to my excitement.

I was in love.

We moved in at the start of the following month where we’ve lived now for nearly four years. I still madly love that sun room, which was immediately turned into my daughter’s playroom. It’s my absolute favorite part about this place.

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Isn’t it dreamy? (This is looking straight in from the living room. There’s a set of windows on either side of the entry way as well!)

The outside is still pretty horrendous looking. Scary, really. But the inside is just so perfect for us. We don’t want to leave (the inside), but the parking sucks and Lovie’s getting bigger and bigger. It would be nice for her to have a real yard to run around in.

Our lease is actually due to expire end of next month, so time will quickly tell if it’s time for us to move or not. If it is (or when it is) it’s going to be damn hard to replace that awesome sun room (play room).

 

***

written in response to the writing prompt provided by #Post40Bloggers

my stint as rock star bicyclist: a true story

Papa gave me my first real bike when I was about 10—a brand new, purple and sparkly 10-speed. I rode that bike like it was my job, and I felt like a rock star while doing so despite its awful girly feel to it (if there was ever something I was not, it was purple and sparkly).

10speed

This is when 10-speeds were to bikes what the latest iPhones are to cell phones today. So as all the other kids rode their much smaller, probably hand-me-down bikes, I floated along on my brand new 10-speed (though I admit to being jealous of those with BMX bikes—why I never was gifted a BMX bike, I don’t know).

Really, I was a rock star. So much so that my 10-year-old self would ride my sweet 10-speed bike in the middle of the street!

It wasn’t a busy street, just the street we lived on: a side street where the traffic could only go in one direction and where stop signs were placed at the end of every block ensuring motorists maintained the 25 mph.

When I wasn’t riding my awesome 10-speed in the street, I was racing it through the alleys. Up and down and all around the several blocks surrounding our home in the burbs. The wind whooshing through my thick bowl-cut hair. The sun tanning my olive skin. I loved the sound the bike would make when I stopped pedaling and just coasted along, my nose turned up at the others who weren’t on 10-speeds.

Yeah me and my 10-speed bike.

We lasted all of maybe two weeks together. But that’s the good thing about being a kid. Things seem to last way longer than they actually do in GrownupLand where two weeks would be a sneeze in comparison to the eternity of two weeks when you’re 10.

We had a good run…till I was pedaling my sparkly purple 10-speed down the street like a rock star and hit a pothole in just the right way that catapulted me over the front handlebars, slamming me, face first, into the cement road.

I didn’t feel like much of a rock star walking my stupid fucking bike home with blood dripping from my nose and mouth.

I never rode that girly bike again, nor have I gotten on a 10-speed since.

Still waiting for the BMX though.