I dreamed a movie again last night. Actually it was more like this morning. Do you ever do that? Dream a movie. Like an action movie. It’s exhausting to wake up during an action movie. I feel absolutely drained.

This one involved a bus of sorts. And a prison-like environment. Actually, it was more like a prison/foster home. Or something. It was super dark and big–the “home”. People were walking around with cloaks on. They were alone or with maybe one or two other people. It was quiet, not a lot of talking.

I was there but it was like I was filming myself. There was a small man there as well.

The dream-movie began when we were young children in the “home.” He and his gang of friends or family were loud and obnoxious. But he was small so he seemed to get picked on a lot. Like one time when they were walking down the stairs and he was eating a brownie. Some of the brownie fell to the floor and he looked quite upset. The older kids pointed and laughed and taunted him. He tried to brush it off like it wasn’t a big deal. (I feel like this character is very similar to the hard ass on Shameless. I can’t think of the character’s name but he’s short and quite crass, but he’s also gay which he tries to hide. Update: his name is Mickey.)

Then we flash to the future or present day. I’m trying to escape the “home”. And I make it out. Not quite sure how exactly but I, along with some others, make it out. But then we’re somehow caught and brought back and locked up. (Think Elsa and Frozen.)

The plan is to escape by pretending to be a cloak person. We end up stealing a bus as we pretend to be the cloak people. But again, our escape is quickly squashed and this time, they put us in this underground “home” that makes it near impossible to escape. The only way out is for someone to break in from the outside to get us out.

So the small man from earlier (dude from Shameless??) comes to our rescue. Only we don’t know who it is and my dream has me seeing the action through his eyes. That’s what I mean about dreaming a movie. I could see things to the left and right and in front and below– whenever he moved his head. I knew that I was in someone’s point of view during the dream, but I wasn’t sure whose pov. Then I slip through this huge churning thing and am able to see myself and others to free us.

The point of view shifts back to a general overall view of things. And that’s when I see it’s the small man who rescued us, whose pov I was in earlier. The others are so shocked he saved us because he was one of them. But I knew it was because he’d had enough of following and wanted to become a leader.

Of course he was then locked up. He was planning his escape when my fucking alarm brought me back to reality.

Like I said, I’m exhausted.


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.”





It’s Friday. The 13th.


I used to love Friday the 13ths. Especially when they fell inside of October. And the skies were grey with a crisp breeze allowing the dead, crunchy leaves to dance all about. Friday the 13th playing at the dollar cinema on the busy street in our hood.

I love Fall and Halloween. So I kind of love Friday the 13th.

Okay so today’s Friday the 13th doesn’t exactly fall inside of Fall, but it’s close enough to reminisce. And the weather is nice and cool. So cool, in fact, that we’re all wearing pants and sweaters, maybe even a jacket.


rolling hills


My goodness do I love this time of year.



Via, short for Olivia, was an amazing mama. She oozed love, comfort, and grace toward her mini-me, Lanie.

Two peas in a pod Via and Lanie were: they looked alike with their thick dark hair, bangs abruptly cut by the eyebrow line; they were both a little chunky; and they even dressed alike.

Via tended to little Lanie with such grace, always keeping an eye on her when her actual hands weren’t available– which wasn’t that often. When Lanie wanted to slide, Via got up from the small group of adults congregating on the patio and hovered a bit over wobbly Lanie. When Lanie’s mouth seemed dry, Via was right there offering a sippy cup of water.

At one point during the Labor Day barbeque, I noticed Lanie sitting in a chair on the patio with a yellow-frosted cupcake. Some of the cake and lots of the frosting ended up on Lanie’s purple dress. Soon her dad Darren slammed down his beer bottle, found a napkin, and started wiping the front of Lanie’s dress while looking around the yard.

“Oh no, did she spill?” Via sang as she swooped toward her family.

“Uh yeah.”

“Poor thing, it’s okay.”

“Maybe if you were watching her more carefully this wouldn’t have happened,” Darren snapped under his breath, plastic smile on.

“Oh it’s okay,” Via continued to sing to Lanie.

Darren tossed the napkin on the table, clutched the brown beer bottle, and glided back to the group of guys he was talking to before he was horribly interrupted. Via scooped Lanie into her lap and they both finished the cupcake.


About a month after the barbeque, Via, neighbor to my sister who hosted the barbeque, was in the hospital. Rumor has it she tried killing herself and Lanie by driving the car they were both in off the side of the highway and straight into a ditch at full speed.







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.


Nathan Lunds*

“My songs know what you did in the daaa-a-aa-aaa-ark!”

Every time I hear this damn song—particularly the delivery of that specific line—I think of you.


How…Why can a song from today remind me of you from 20 years ago?

Yes you were hot and I dreamed of becoming more than we were. Yes we took writing classes together in college which is how we met. Yes I went to a ton of your shows and even bought and listened to your CD.

But that’s the extent of who “we” were.

I was the fat chick who sat across from you in Fiction Writing, whose stories about an alcoholic loser single dad caught your interest. You were Nathan Lunds*, college student and local rock band singer.  We both smoked, we both had long curly hair, we both were short. But you were funny and articulate and outgoing—everything I was not.

So I lusted…secretly, of course.

I remember going to one of your shows with my groupie friend Ginger* who enjoyed the company of your drummer when he was in need. She drove, I got drunk. You needed a ride back after the show, Ginger’s drummer wasn’t drumming her, so she offered a ride. I tried not squealing when I learned we would be in the car together. Instead, I sat as rigid and quietly as I could, trying not to think about how drunk I was and about how you, the man I longed for, sat right behind me in the back seat of Ginger’s Chevy Beretta.

Hopefully I wouldn’t puke or fart.

We stopped midway through the drive so you could grab some fries and use the bathroom.

“How could you give him a ride home?” I asked Ginger when you were out of earshot.

She smiled at me.

Just because she was a friggin groupie who’d bang anyone who looked at her, didn’t mean I was…even if I kinda wanted to be.

The rest of the ride to your house, I had lengthy conversations with you and gave you my number and made out with you when we weren’t gazing into each other’s eyes.

…in my head.

“It’s this one,” you sang from the back seat.

Ginger pulled the car to the side of the road of bungalows. I stepped out of the car and watched you climb out from the back, smiling.

“Thanks guys. See you next time.”

There were, of course, plenty of next times.

But other than asking for the number of my best friend Aileen, whom I brought to one your shows, we never really hung out. You’d nod your head and say Hey if you saw me at a show or at school. But that was it.

Yet, here I am, 20 years later, thinking of you, writing about you.

Because of that damn Fall Out Boy song.

“So light ’em up!”

*fake names


this time

“Nooooooo! I want Mommy!!”

She keeps whining and thrashing about in bed. Just like most nights. Anything to get my attention. Anything to get me in her room again. Anything to stall closing those eyes and going to sleep.

“It’s Bor-ring,” she whines when I tell her to just close her eyes and relax–or, my personal favorite, “But then I can’t see!”

You’re so clever. You really are. You have an old soul. I’ve been told this numerous times about you.

You can see it when you look into her eyes.

It’s like she’s known me for years when we just met! 

She’s an old soul, that one.

I know they’re right, too. I know you’re an old soul. I know you’re much wiser beyond your two years. But I also know you’ve got to get some sleep.

Because if you don’t, I don’t; and if I don’t, the world best look out.

“Noooo! I want mommy. I want MOMMY!”

When I can’t take it anymore I go toward your room. The plan, like always, is to not even really look at you, but to stand in the doorway and ask what the problem is… only this time, your screams and whines are at a new volume I didn’t think was even possible to reach.

This time, it’s like I’m finally able to grasp what you’ve been trying to tell me all along.

This time when I quietly push the door more open, I can’t help but notice how terrified you are… So I follow your gaze to the corner behind the door. And I see him. The shadow. The dark shadow wearing a hat.

The burning vomit creeps into my throat as I take the most deliberate blink in all my life and when I open my eyes again, there’s nothing there.

I turn back toward you and you’re sound asleep. So peaceful looking.

I snap my head back toward the corner and there’s nothing… this time.




She wasn’t a bitch, and neither am I.

I’ve talked about it before–how mortified I am to admit that I once referred to my grandmother as a Bitch. It’s not a memory I love thinking about, but it’s one that can never be erased and one that comes creeping back in every so often.

Funny thing is, my memory generally sucks ass. Not this one, though.

It happened when I was around 10 years old. We all know kids can say and do some stupid shit. And I was a tough ass back then. (Or so I liked to believe and behave.) While I’m not at all proud of myself for referring to my grandmother as a Bitch (in a letter I wrote to my cousin), I’m actually quite grateful it happened… more so, I’m grateful I was called out on it (by my cousin’s dad, son to my grandmother). Because had nobody called me out on it, I suspect I’d be a very different person today.

That tiny moment in time taught me an extremely valuable lesson: Words can absolutely hurt, and while you may think you’re insignificant in this world, there will always be someone who will be effected by your actions.


My grandmother passed away only three months ago. To my knowledge she never knew I called her a Bitch.


I was there with her at the end. I was there out of deep love and admiration for the most amazing woman I’ve ever encountered. How blessed I’ve been to have 40 years with her. How thankful I am that she never knew I once referred to her as something completely opposite of the wonderful woman she was.


in response to

Daily Prompt: We Can Be Taught!

by michelle w. on June 28, 2013

Tell us a moment or an incident that you treasure  – not necessarily because it brought you happiness, but because it taught you something about yourself.