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.

 

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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

living like a dead person

By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.

Bill Vaughan

My dad’s surprise party is Sunday. He’ll be 80 on Monday. EIGHTY.

I’m not sure why exactly, but for the past several months I haven’t really put much thought into this. I planned a small surprise party at a pizza joint with immediate family for Sunday. I sent out simple little hand-made invites. Everyone is coming. This isn’t some elaborate thing, but it’s a thing nonetheless.

Realizing I still need to order a cake, I wondered, “What the hell do I put on the cake?”

I picked up a big red 8 candle and a big red 0 candle the other day, along with some simple Happy Birthday décor. I plan to get a dozen or so helium balloons on my way to the restaurant Sunday. But what should I put on the cake?

Happy Birthday

Happy 80th Birthday

Congrats for being the oldest living member of your family

Thinking about this led me to think about other things… like the fact that MY DAD IS TURNING 80 IN LESS THAN A WEEK.

While I didn’t want to make a big deal out of this (primarily because I don’t have the funds to do so), this IS a big fucking deal.

And a big deal should be made of it!

So I quickly sent out emails and Facebook messages apologizing for the last minute begging, but asked that people send me quick little anecdotes that involve my dad. Like, “I remember that time we went fishing and you made me stick a hook through a minnow.”

My hope is to get 80 little memories gathered to present to my dad on Sunday.

But now I’m in tears.

The past couple of years have been a bit difficult. He’s been living in an old people’s home (independently) and he feels like he’s “living like a dead person.” Nobody calls, nobody visits.

Anything that ever comes from his mouth is a complaint.

It’s just very difficult to listen to every single time we communicate or are together.

And now I’m realizing he’s going to be 80.

 

I’m going to be a mess on Sunday. I know it. Worse than when I walked down the aisle six years ago with him clutching my arm.

But, hopefully he’ll at least stop feeling like he’s “living like a dead person.”

 

 

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.

this is what happens when i think too much. dammit.

I had some trouble with my last post. I’ve written about it before, but this time it was very different because this time, my dad, who the post is about, ended up calling me several times throughout the writing of it.

The first time I really wrote about the incident was in my college days–20 years ago. I fictionalized it, of course, because that’s what I was doing in school–writing fiction.

Writing for me has always been very therapeutic. Truth be told it’s the only thing I knew how to do other than stuff my face with food. I was lucky enough to get into an arts college that didn’t require SAT scores, no admissions testing. I was lucky that my mom has always made so little money that my entire four years at school was paid through financial aid save for a couple hundred dollars every semester.

My dad covered that.

I worked through college, too. I’ve been working since I was 12. Obviously not truly legally till I was 16, but even at 12 I’d work my ass off helping at a family owned business to make some money here and there.

My mom was always so poor–all of her money going to booze and men. So I needed to buy toilet paper and shampoo at times. And when I was older there was the electric and gas bills that needed some help.

I’ve really harbored some ill feelings toward my mother most of my life. I blamed her for a lot of the things that happened–all the moves, all the new fucking schools, the shitty clothes, the lack of car. She was a drunk. She was a whore.

But she was my mother and I lived with her.

My dad, I saw on the weekends. Every fucking weekend. I lived with him for a couple years in college because it shortened the commute. He slept on the pullout in the living room while allowing me the only bedroom in the apartment.

My dad always got me things. It started when I was much younger–a new bike, meals out, go-carting, miniature golfing, clothes, Nike’s. I knew then that he was trying to buy me. And I knew it pissed my mom off because she couldn’t afford any of it (though she always had beer or hard liquor). So I tried not letting her know of the things he got for me, while I allowed him to keep getting shit for me.

I felt bad for my dad my whole life. He was such a good man. He just wanted to be married with children, to be a family man. But his wife had other plans and two of his three children wanted nothing to do with him.

And then there was me.

I wanted nothing more than for my family to be a family. I wanted us all together in one home. I hated the split weekends and holidays and vacations. I hated that my dad only ever seemed to want to know about my brother and sister when I saw him on weekends.

But I continued to go every single weekend.

I continued to bring home a check for my mom every Sunday when I’d return home–sometimes to find her in bed with some guy.

And I hated my mom through it all. She was a slut, I thought. She didn’t give a shit about me other than getting that check from my dad.

But the thing is, my dad wasn’t so fucking innocent. And I witnessed it all first hand. Yet I continued to push that away.

Why?

I’ve always remembered my dad getting arrested. I’ve always remembered the times we met in secret. I’ve always found it to be strange. All of it.

But I continued to just want my family together. And I continued hating my mother and blaming her for the demise of our family.

And now here I am, 30 fucking years later, and while I’ve felt for a long time that I’ve dealt with all of this already… all of a sudden, I’m wondering if I really have. Because all of a sudden my aging father, whom I truly do love and respect, is becoming more of a focus for me in my life and I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t so fucking innocent.

He allowed me to see him get arrested.

He used me to find out about my siblings and my mother.

He kind of still is today.

But I need to let this all go, no? I really thought I did already! Dammit why am I consumed with all of this now? The past is the past. It can’t be changed, so why not just let it the fuck go already?!?

Papa

So my dad’s turning 80 in less than two months.

papa

That number—80—is kind of freaking me out a bit; it isn’t exactly young. Both of his parents died well before they turned 80, and while Papa isn’t the oldest of the 8 kids in his family, he’s the oldest one still living. And none made it to 80.

Maybe that’s why I’m kind of freaking out.

I wonder how he’s feeling about it.

 

I’m an awful daughter. I hate listening to him complain. And that’s all he ever really does.

He moved into a retirement community a couple years ago. It’s his own little apartment so he can come and go as he pleases but only old folk over 65 are allowed to occupy the apartments. Breakfast and dinner is provided every day in the community “restaurant”—all included in the cost of rent. And he had to sign over most of his savings to move in.

It’s an old folks home, let’s be real here: my dad lives in an old folks home and he hates it.

But he kind of has no choice. He’s been alone since he and my mom separated over 30 years ago. He never dated anyone so obviously he never remarried or anything. He’s a lonely old man.

And I never visit enough.

I hate that he has to be in this old folks home, yet I’m glad he’s there. Ideally he’d live with me and my little family in an in-law apartment. But we don’t live in a place that offers such a thing and frankly, I’m kind of glad about this.

I have a three year old that I have to take care of; I just can’t take care of an 80 year old, too.

I’m horrible. A horrible daughter.

 

After my parents’ split, both my siblings wanted nothing to do with Papa. I was the youngest and I only wanted one thing: for my family to just be a family. I spent every weekend with Papa that I could until my 20s. I answered all of his questions. I kept all of his secrets.

I now realize that he went a little crazy back then. I found out years after the fact that he actually committed himself into a hospital for a while. He was extremely depressed, he claims. I also learned that he had a gun on him during that time. And of course there was the private detective that was following my mom around for a while.

It didn’t matter what Papa did though, I couldn’t turn my back on him. Just like it didn’t matter that Mama turned into a drunk bar/man-hopping vixen.

I still can’t turn my back on them. Neither one of them.

And now Papa is turning 80 (Mama will be only 66).

I’ve got to do something for him. Something more than just wishing him a happy birthday. Something that involves people coming to celebrate. A party of sorts. But where? And how do I pay for it? And will it be enough?