Thursday, December 29, 2011

Golden Children, Freaks, and 20 Years.

20 years (and now a few months, since I took this post out of the draft back burner).  That's how long it's been since I graduated high school.  Reunion pictures circulating on Facebook, from the two high schools I went to, prove it.  Yet when the grocery shopping, bill paying and preteen raising duties are not weighing on me--like when I'm in my car with the sunroof open and the music cranked, or on a date with my husband (who I met in high school)--I still feel the girl from back then peeking through (the young part, not the awkward part).  Sometimes so much so, I feel like I'm just playing house and pretending to be an adult.  Sometimes it only feels like a few years have passed...but I've got to say, when I look at some of those pictures of my classmates, I can see those 20 years, and then some (yes, that sounds awful, I realize).  Some of yesterday's popular girls have held onto the same bangs that made them "hot" in the late 80's/early 90's...yeah, it doesn't work so much anymore.  Nor does the "party hearty" stuff I'm still seeing in picture captions and written all over the faces of the once-elite.

Whoever would've thought all those adults who told me that the golden children of my high school wouldn't be so golden in a decade or so would be right?  I was growing up the sensitive fat girl (or the goth girl, or the girl who got picked last in PE, or the girl with the unrequited crushes).  Back then, I just wanted the popular kids to stop their superior bullshit and leave me alone as I walked the quad or sat in Spanish class.  I wanted to write my tortured soul out on paper and have it noticed, be told the angst it dripped with made it amazing and that I was well on my way to being the next Plath (minus the death and all that).  I wanted to catch the eye of the guy with the eyeliner and the classic truck with the bondo all over it, and I wanted him to be overcome with the urge to kiss me and ask me out, and I wanted to be seen in that Ford monster.  And none of those things ever happened...back then.

But who'd have thought the swaggering jock who flipped carrots at me would end up squishy, bald and divorced?  Or that the cheerleader in the perfect clothes and make-up, with a poison pen for mean-girl notes, would have wrinkles, polyester pants and a job she hates?

Because the geeks, the freaks, the quiet kids, and the don't belongs...well, we end up with the long end of the stick, if we're patient, because we don't wear that stick out early on, I guess.  I've seen my fellow high school misfits get the educations, the money, the careers, the looks, the notoriety, the over-all happiness...most of all, I've seen them keep their empathy, humility, and senses of humor.  And since none of their success was handed to them, they develop an appreciation of it all.  20 years looks good on them.  Hell, it looks great on them, figuratively and more-often-than-not, literally.  (And they don't have to keep the same bangs or beer bong to prove themselves.)

Yep, it's true.  It does get better.  Much, much better.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fairies from Falling Leaves...

Here's a peek (but just a little one) of how Autumn and the turning leaves of the east coast have inspired me when I'm not writing novel #2.  :)
Come visit me on Facebook!  Feel free to show me some "Like" while you're there!

Then head to the website and see all my girls!

*I know I haven't written here in awhile, but my focus is on completing my WIP--it's *almost* ready for beta readers, and I'm too excited to divert my thoughts to other writing topics.  In the meantime, I hope my fairies will suffice--they're me, too!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Year.

September 18.  A year ago today I was both gutted and given a gift, all in one day.  My dad died last September 18th. But he waited for me to get to him, and he looked at me, and he smiled when I walked in the room.  For an entire year, my heart has flooded on me when I'm not expecting it--made my throat close and tears surprise me...but there is also laughter that breaks through when I think of him telling me my animals all have "hippie names" or myriad other Dad-isms.  A year ago today I found out it's possible to feel like a 30+ year-old half-orphan if a parent disappears. 

For the most part, my memories are happy, and I don't wallow in grief.  For the most part.  But on this day, I'll not censor the emotions as they come, rapid-fire.  Today I'll listen to the song I brought to him in the hospital, the one I haven't been able to listen to all the way through since. 

Tomorrow I'll pick back up and live in ways that honor him--little things he would have done: I'll throw the ball to my chihuahua, drive the winding road I wanted him to see so badly, and I'll marvel--just as he would have, if I'd have gotten him here--at the way the light falls through the trees.  Tomorrow I'll even do his "would-have"--the one he learned too late, but I learned from: I'll get my flu shot.

I love you, Dad.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Holidays, Duct Tape, the 18th, and Dad.

My first Father’s Day without my dad is coming. 

I’ve been thinking about that, off and on, since Mother’s Day.  The thing is that the 18th of each month, for me, is lived a little differently since last September—there’s a subconscious sadness to that day, and about halfway through, I take note of the calendar, and I understand why.  Halloween (he was always the one to take me trick-or-treating—rather, running full tilt and falling in lava rocks—each year), his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, a new year…they’ve all come to pass, and with each I thought about what used to be for those days. 

But let’s be honest, I don’t need a specific holiday to remember my dad.  I think of him every time my husband pulls our utility trailer behind our SUV, because Dad took him outside and taught him how to drive with a trailer before we moved cross-country, and had he not also taught him how to back up with one, we might still be stuck somewhere.  I think of him when I see his gold chain peek up from my husband’s shirt collar—Brian hasn’t taken off Dad’s arrowhead necklace (which he wore for as long as I can remember) since it was given to him, and I love him all the more for that.  I think of him when WD-40, duct tape, Husqvarna or NASCAR is mentioned, and driving home from the grocery store last week, I saw my dad’s doppelganger, shirtless (as anyone who knew him could attest he always was), on a riding lawn mower, and I smiled because he’d have enjoyed being that guy.

Yeah, I think about my dad all the time, so why should one day be more profound than another?  Because to not have a dad to send a card to or talk on the phone with, on a day that’s specifically meant for one—that’s something else, entirely.  By now, I’d usually be deciding which nuts to send him (tradition), picking out either a sarcastic card or one with a Chihuahua on it (couldn’t go wrong with one of those), and my husband would be trying to procure a company t-shirt for him (because they were, for some reason, his favorite).  But not this year.  This year, someone’s missing from the equation, and there’s only one dad to buy for: my husband.

I think, this year, I’ll probably be more mindful of the gift my daughter and I have in my husband, the good dad he is to our girl.  And along with his card and present, I think I’ll tell him that.

To those who have dads around—who fuss at you, aggravate you…who love you and tell people behind your back how proud they are of you—take the time to make or pick out the perfect card this year, not just the one that “will do.”  Take an extra second to give a hug you mean, not just one in passing, and when you say “I love you” this year, think about all the ways you mean it, and trust that—though your heart says it with the same conviction when they’re gone—it feels much different when the person you say it to isn’t there to say it back.

And to those, like me, who have dads with them in spirit this Father’s Day, know that you honor them by mindfully taking the time to appreciate the other good dads in your life.  And know that if you listen hard enough, they're probably still fussing at you…but more than that, know they never stop loving you, either.

*How often, you might ask, can duct tape come up?  Quite often around here, actually, because duct tape creations are the hottest thing since silly bands at my daughter's school.  My mom and I have come to the conclusion that dad would be proud.

*Husqvarna?  After his Bultaco (which I always thought was Bull Taco) dirt bike, he got his Husky.  Brian's looking for a new lawnmower, and Husqvarna keeps coming up in his "wants."

Also See:
-To a Dad, From a Daughter  
-It Is Written; It Is So.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Press On, Pop Off.

I'm about to date myself here, but I tend to do that often--once more won't kill me. 

Back when Lee Press-On Nails first came out, I was a seventh grader with a bad hairdo, braces, and a want to be beautiful...or at least win the heart of a certain boy who, looking back, didn't deserve mine (not that he wanted it).  I'd discovered make-up, specifically, "Faded Denim" eyeshadow and a tube of white-pink lipstick that--in actuality--made me look like I was about to vomit.  When those damn nails debuted, I knew they were the last step I needed to make me an instant-Madonna.

The great secret of Lee Press-Ons, was an uber-thin glue film stuck to tabs of brown paper.  Once that miracle of 80's hi-techness was applied--in my case, partially on, partially gummed up into an uncomfortable mess that glued my nail to my skin--the pre-painted nail (mine, a shimmering pink--I know, I know) was...well, pressed on.  Supposedly, the great wonder of these nails were that they wouldn't come off until you wanted them to.  Easy on, control of off.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that I wanted them off as I made a graded at-home, Home-Ec meal for my parents.  POP.  One off in the biscuit dough.  Stop and put it back on.  Repeat.  At some point, my dad came in and saw my beautiful nails in his dinner, and my Lee Press-On Nails became his favorite "remember when" moment FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.  We'd watch Wheel of Fortune, Lee Press-Ons would be a sponsor, and there he'd go, chuckling and telling me all about those nails like I hadn't been there.  As an adult, if my nails were done, I'd be met with, "Remember Lee Press-On Nails...?"  To say it got old is an understatement, and I had no humor about the incident.  Eye-rolling and growling, yes.

...until my daughter saw some Bonnie Bell nails at Target.  OMG, she HAD to have them, and I shot her down, mean mom that I am.  But the Easter Bunny had some shopping to do, and they found their way into her Easter Basket.  Two sets--one with peace signs, one that says, "Go Green," ONE different-sized nail in each set for customizing sizes (sure), all with chunks of that snot-glue that's supposed to keep them on for 72 hours.  I applied them yesterday, warning as I did (so the heartbreak wouldn't be as bad) that they probably weren't going to last through the night, and I centered those pieces of peace-sign plastic up as best as I could, trying to minimize the appearance of her natural nail as best I could (totally impossible on her thumbs--they look like hard plastic stripes down the center of a fresh pink fingernail).  Within an hour, one popped off, and we had to use an extra nail.

She clicked them, tapped them, stared at them, smiled at them, and I remembered biscuit dough.  As Brian and I put her to bed for the night, I had visions of her waking up in the morning with fingernails clumped and hanging throughout her hair and along the length of her bed.

And I couldn't help but think about how, if he were still alive, I'd be on the phone telling my dad that Air got her first set of Press-Ons, and I knew the exact laugh I'd hear.  I woke up in the middle of the night, hearing my dad's voice saying, "Remember Lee Press-On Nails?"  And for the first time, ever, I laughed about it.
(When groggy Brian asked, "What?" next to me, I kept my secret to myself with a smile.)

To my surprise, only one went MIA through the night, and Air quickly found it when she sat down and got stabbed.  Like a trooper, she pressed it back on, avoided using her hands at all costs (which she totally milked), and I dropped her off to school for the day, I'm sure, feeling super-fly.  (Added after school--they were all gone when I picked her up.)

I have a feeling at least half will be gone by the time I pick her up, but  that's okay.  She finally got her nails, and I finally got to laugh about mine.  Thank you, Easter Bunny.

...and yes, Dad, I remember Lee Press-On Nails.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

(Intermission) 2/2/11: The Day My Daughter's Heart Broke Into a Bajillion Pieces

There's a clause in the unwritten mom contract which stipulates that it is the mom's duty to be the one to break disappointing, devastating, and/or tantrum-inducing news. 

I was the dealer of the devastation yesterday.  2/2/11.  The day that marks a somber period in my daughter's young life.  The day The White Stripes officially announced their break-up.

When Third Man Records (Jack White's record shop/vinyl pressing place/concert hall/building extraordinaire in Nashville, TN) sent out the link to the official breakup announcement on, I had the job of reading the release, from start to finish, to Jack White's biggest fan, as she stood frozen in my living room.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her jaw dropping a little more with each paragraph.  By the time I'd finished, she was silent and had already begun her mourning.

Yes, there will be other bands, and there are still White's other phenomenal bands, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather (and as stated time and again, she owns and covets all things Jack White, including the fruits of his discography),  but this love my daughter had for The Stripes has lasted way over half of her young life, and that's a big deal.  So, in the spirit of honoring her loss, I am interrupting my normal blogging activities to dedicate a link and two songs to her: the first song she ever heard--the one that started the whole obsession for her, "Hello Operator," and the one she taught herself on her electric guitar (which she wanted because of Jack): "We're Going to Be Friends."  The songs are awesome live versions from The Reading Festival, since she never got the chance to see them in concert (when she thought my husband and I were going to see them at The Greek without her a few years back, she was NOT a happy little obsessed fan).

Someday, we'll venture to Third Man, and there will be concerts in her future...I'm almost willing to bet The Dead Weather will be in the cards one day.

Link: Top 10 White Stripes Songs to Get You Through Their Breakup  (and who doesn't love Jack's cover of "Jolene"???)

Um...that would be WE'RE Going to Be Friends (incorrect title on the video--I caught it!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

a post and an ode to yesterday...

I'll come clean straightaway, this post is a self-serving declaration; it is a posting that will more than likely never be read by the intended, but it's something that I need to get out of my system--I need to commit these thoughts to the written word, so I can feel that I've finally stood up for myself, my elementary school, middle school, early-high school self...I can bet, on some level, that many people reading this will identify with the need to do this, at least once in one's lifetime.  Maybe on some level, this is a note back to my shy, pre-teen and teen self that things get better...who knows.  On with the show.

The past.  We all came from it, lived through it, changed because of it (hopefully), and move toward the future, different selves than those we once were.  There are, however, people from that past who hold onto the images of what we once were, most with no ill-will; they just still see us young or goofy...benign memories, but they become content to enjoy us as we've become, celebrate with us, and be joyful in our achievements.  On the other side of the coin, there are those who need to cling to the less happy parts of our past, usually because they aren't content with their own present; it makes them feel superior if they can keep us in the box of what we once were.  I've made no secret that I was once "the fat girl."  I was the one teased, the one left out, the one with little self-esteem.  I'm not her anymore.  I do, however, have one (a few more than one, if I'm being honest) of those people, on the fringe of my life, who still need me in my old skin.

My reality now?  I get a zit on occasion, I gain a pound or two now and again, I have a kid who sometimes disrespects me, I'm not rolling in millions, and I can't bake.  I am blessed though.  I have a good, happy life--because I choose to, because I work at it, because I realize it.  I have a husband who is my best friend and who still gives me butterflies...over 16 years after the "I do" was spoken.  I have a witty, smart, awesome kid who's not perfect, but who is perfect for me.  I live in a place of quiet and nature.  I do what I love--writing and art.  I have met people--tremendous, fabulous people--in my lifetime, from my art, from my writing, and damnit, even from Facebook!  I am full.  My life is wonderful for me; others may think what I have is boring or not enough.  Others may think it sounds so too good to be true.  I don't begrudge anyone else for what they have, be it money, fame or success.  I have what I need, and it's what I once never thought would be, and now that I've grown up, I try to live by Epicurius' words ( I just wrote this three blog postings down, actually): Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

To the intended, if you ever read this: if you still need me to be that sad, wall-flowered fat girl (*see note below the video) I once was, you don't need me.  Be happy with what you have and stop comparing the color of the grass.

*   *   *
One last indulgence, because there is another side of my thoughts that isn't so benevolent when it comes to "haters" who don't particularly think that the girl I once was could--or should--be the woman I am now; this is the soundtrack to my devilish side....I love it when a song sums everything up in a great package.  ;)~   
(For those who have heard it before--though this version has some choice lyrical additions--ya know what I'm sayin'!  For those who have never heard it, you know you want to give it a listen.)

Anyone out there relate? 

*When I say "fat girl" I'm referring to the beaten down nature of being overweight, not anyone who is radiant in their shape, whatever it may be--unfortunately, I never knew that side when I was bigger.