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.

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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.

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

on becoming badass

She made me feel like a badass when we hung out. Still in high school, we were so badass we even made a 12-hour drive to her hometown one weekend. Just the two of us.

We met junior year in high school. Or was it senior year? I know I met Danni* at the last high school I attended in the late 80s. She stood at maybe 5 feet tall—the most petite thing you’d ever see. She wore leather, lots of makeup, gaudy jewelry. She smoked a lot, talked a lot, lived a lot, sang a lot. She was pretty much the opposite of me, but she was also one of the few people to talk to me.

Danni worked at a gas station in town. I thought that was pretty rad, too. She closed up most nights with her boyfriend in tow. She constantly told me about her sexcapades with him. I’ll never forget her walking kinda funny one day and telling me it was because he went in from behind. My virgin everything was mortified at the idea. I don’t remember his name but he was kinda cute. And short, too. They really did make a cute little couple.

Danni was newer than me at school, which is probably why she talked to me. She wasn’t shy at talking with anyone actually; she didn’t really give a shit what others thought of her. At 16-17, she had more confidence in who she was than I’d ever seen before. I admired that about her. But I also soon learned that a lot of her confidence was a show.

Actually, Danni was kind of a show herself.

She was sexually and physically abused from a very early age on. I didn’t quite understand all of what she told me, but that part was pretty clear. That’s why I didn’t really understand why she wanted to go back home to visit since that’s where the abuse happened and that’s why she wasn’t living there anymore. But she borrowed her aunts car for the weekend and wanted me to come along—so I did.

I felt pretty badass driving shotgun in her big-ass car with her. Kinda Thelma and Louise (before Thelma and Louise) but without the guns, the cliff, and Brad Pitt (too bad).

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We weren’t best friends—she actually never really knew much about me—but we were on an adventure like them. At least that’s what it felt like to me.

Danni was a big flirt. Still, it amazed me how the guys flocked to her. She looked like she was a 10-year-old dressed up trying to look older because of how short she was. But the guys loved it and her. She loved fluttering her big blue eyes at them and putting on her best mischievous smile. She’d flirt with anyone anywhere. It didn’t seem to matter. We’d be driving down the highway about to pass a trucker and Danni would slow down and start mouthing shit to the guy, maybe even giving him a show of her itty titties too.

It really is incredible how different we were.

***

It’s been 20 years since I’ve last been in contact with her. But thanks to Facebook, that’s changed.

She’s still Danni. She’s still very different than me. She’s still very much a show. She’s still this little thing only now she doesn’t look like a 10-year-old dressing up to look older; instead, she looks like a 60-year-old dressing up to look younger. I was pretty astounded to see pictures of her to be frank. She’s aged a lot. I’m sure she feels the same about me and my white hair, though.

It’s strange, really. I feel like the last 10 years of my life have been the best years of my life. I’m certain of this actually. But when I look back 20-plus years, not all that much has changed. Not really. I’m still very much the listener amongst others. The only thing is that now I don’t need to hang with a badass person or take a 12-hour road trip to feel badass.

I just am. Badass.

 

 

*Danni is not her real name

9am Thursday morning and it’s already been a smashing good day

At least my girls think so.

You know. My girls. The two big melons attached to my body above my round belly. They got manhandled, smashed, and x-rayed between a couple pieces of glass first thing this morning. I opted to wait around for the results.

“See you in a year!”

Yippee, another year my kid gets to use them as a seat or something to help hoist herself up.

 

Have you gotten your mammogram (if you’re over 40) and/or done a self breast exam lately?

Aside

finally seeing things

“You know who I’m really upset at?” Papa shouts from across the table. “Matty. That’s his mother. He should be ashamed of himself.”

“He’s only thirteen,” I answer. “He’s just following Katie’s lead. The people you really need to be upset with here and in just about any situation are the adults. The parents. Why can’t they ever take some responsibility for their own actions?”

I was on my second drink of the day. It wasn’t even two in the afternoon. We were gathered around a large table at a new German restaurant. We were talking about how my niece Katie had recently set fire to her mother’s wedding gown and posted the video on Facebook.

My dad was upset at the news of all of this. He didn’t see the video as Katie took the video down after her older brother called her out on it on Facebook. But Papa’s still very upset because the wedding gown wasn’t Katie’s to burn, it was my sister’s–Katie’s mother. So my dad, near 80, found it extremely disrespectful. “You don’t do these things with family.”

It’s hard not to agree with that.

But then when he says he’s “most upset” about what Matty allegedly did in the video–laugh and be present to the torching of the gown–because Matty is a child and should have more respect for his parent? That’s where I draw the line. Of course a child should have respect for his parents, but that respect needs to be taught and nurtured before it can be reciprocated.

“That’s like saying Jordan should be the one to talk to Marco when Marco was the one that walked out on Jordan,” I shouted.

Jordan looked at me and smiled. Not a Ha-Ha-Life-is-So-Grand smile but an Aint-that-Some-Shit smile… because his father (my brother Marco) walked out of his life when Jordan was all of 13, and eight years later, Papa thinks Jordan should be the one to contact Marco. Simply because Marco’s the parent. That is Papa’s reasoning. The parent trumps the kid, apparently. No matter the situation.

Fuck that, I say.

The parents are the ones who are the adults. The parents are the ones with the responsibility of setting good examples for their children…their children who are still learning and growing and absorbing oh so much.

 

My eyes are finally opening up to things I haven’t seen my whole life. For years and years I wondered how my siblings could be so self-absorbed to ignore my dad most of our lives. I wondered how I could be so different from them if we all grew up in the same household. But here’s the thing: they’re both very selfish–much like my parents. Seriously. What kind of parent lets their kids see them get arrested? What kind of parent gets wasted in front of their kids over and over again? Mine. But I’ve let it go because–get this–they’re my parents.

Man my eyes are opening up. Finally. At nearly 41, I’m starting to finally see things clearly–and it’s even uglier than I ever imagined it being.

I kind of wish I could go back to being blind to it all.

at least it’s just that i’m middle aged

The past several months I’ve noticed that I’m doing that thing I always saw old people do—either take their glasses off when reading something or move whatever it is they’re trying to read far away from them.

It’s embarrassing because I realize that I’m now one of those old people (but really it’s “just” that I’m middle aged… right?).

Whoa.

I posted something about this on Facebook along with a celebratory status for my 6th wedding anniversary early in June. Someone was kind enough to private message me that the same thing was happening to him (he’s 47) and he finally gave in and got bifocals. He insists bifocals have come a long way and nobody has to even know that’s what I’m wearing.

Joy.

He also insisted I should really look into it as it was one of best things he’d ever done for himself—get bifocals.

Fun. Sign me up.

Truth is, I don’t really care if people know I’m wearing bifocals; I just want to be able to see things the way I’m used to seeing them. And I need to find the time and money to get myself to an eye doctor.

What’s bothering me more than this vision thing as I’m getting older is the Essential Tremors I think I’m starting to endure.

Earlier this year I noticed Mama’s head was shaking a lot, something my grandmother (Oma) had to deal with for most of my life. At first I thought maybe she was just anxious: Oma, whom she lived with and took care of, was dying. But then I realized it was more than that. Mama has tremors. Same as Oma. Same as Oma’s mother who passed when I was around 7. (I don’t remember much about my great-grandmother, but the image of her sitting in a chair shaking can never be erased.)

Oma’s tremors were quite noticeable. Naïve people like my nephew thought she had Parkinson’s disease. Nope. Hers wasn’t as degenerative. It just was kind of awkward because unless she was sleeping, her hands and head shook a lot, and it got to the point that she could barely sip coffee without it spilling out everywhere. Mama told me that it took Oma over an hour to sign the last birthday card she hand wrote—because of the shaking.

It was especially hard to watch near the end.

The days following Oma’s passing, Mama, my sister and I talked a lot about family. And the tremors came up. I told Mama that there’s medication one can take to stop them and then I told her I’d noticed she was shaking. Mama agreed that she was noticing it more and more too. Then my sister chimed in that she’s currently on the medication I was referring, it lowers blood pressure and controls these tremors which she (my sister) was noticing in herself!

At the time (only a couple months ago), I thought I might escape it—like I escaped the thinning hair (so far). But then, within the past month or so, I’m noticing that I can sort of feel the shaking. Like it’s coming from within. And when I hold a cup of coffee in my left hand (especially), the fucking cup shakes a bit. And if I try to concentrate on holding the cup, it shakes so much that it kind of freaks me the fuck out.

Ugh.

This growing old shit is for the birds.

 

 

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