Posts tagged dad
I had a good perm and stuff,which, believe me, can cover a lot of faults so I understand why there was some confusion by my commenters on yesterday’s post as well as on Facebook. I stand behind my statement that my family and I were a little trashy. It’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with being a little bit trashy and I don’t mean it in a mean way at all. We didn’t have a cess pool in our backyard, but let me count the other ways in which we were trashy so you can all agree with me:
1. We didn’t have a phone even though my dad worked at the phone company.
My brother ran the phone bill up talking to his girlfriend. His Ecuadorian girlfriend. She had been an exchange student and when she moved back to Ecuador, my brother called her a million times until we owed $500 or something like that. That’s $500 in 1987 money. This was pretty much right exactly when my dad moved out. Some people might say it was my brother’s fault my dad moved out, but I won’t go that far. Anyway, we owed my father’s employer $500 and we couldn’t pay it. And, in fact, never paid it. That’s a little embarrassing. And trashy.
Some time after we moved to the apartment, my mom decided to just see what would happen if she tried to get a phone in her name. I think she thought that because she and my dad weren’t divorced, the phone company wouldn’t allow it, but they did! Anyway, she didn’t tell me her plan, but there was a phone attached to the wall in the apartment and one day, it started ringing! I’m not kidding when I tell you I just about shit myself with joy. I was 15 by then, and had been using payphones for at least 3 years.
2. I thought the Rathskellar was a restaurant, not a bar. It happens.
After my parents separated, my mom spent a lot of time at the Rathskellar, where I would occasionally meet her for food and drunken conversation. Her sister was a waitress there and sometimes we would get free drinks and snacks. This was before the days of the computers in restaurants. God bless the “human error” aspect of keeping a bar tab. Anyway, I always thought of the Rathskellar as a restaurant and it wasn’t until I was much older that Bryan heard me refer to it as a restaurant and he said, “That was a bar, not a restaurant. Just because you could get nachos there, doesn’t make it a restaurant.” I said, “Well, we always ate there when we were kids.” And he said, “Were there ever any other kids eating there after 5 pm? No? That’s because it was a bar.” Know-it-all. I still think this point is debatable, but because most parents wouldn’t have taken their kids to the Rathskellar, I will cop to the fact that the fact that it was my favorite restaurant as a kid might add to the trashiness.
3. At a certain point, none of my friends were allowed to spend time at my house anymore.
My friends’ parents always said, “No, you can’t go Abby’s house, but she can come over here.” There’s a lot of reasons for that, but I think the very last time I had a friend over was when Jenny V. came over and her parents came to pick her up earlier than expected. We lived in a 2-story house in town (walking distance to the Rathskellar of course). When my dad moved away, we rented the upstairs out. At this point, one of my brother’s friends was living there and he happened to be having a party. Mr. and Mrs. V. came to pick Jenny up and accidentally went to the door that lead to the upstairs instead of where my mom, sister, and I actually lived. (Had they gone to the correct door, they would have seen a note, written on a paper plate and shut into the door that said, “At the Rathskellar!” which, in their very stable minds, maybe wouldn’t have been any better than what they found when they went to the upstairs apartment). So they went upstairs to look for 12 or 13-year-old Jenny and there were all of these teenagers and maybe some young 20-somethings drinking and smoking and probably getting high. Mrs. V might have flipped out a little bit and I’m pretty sure my sister accidentally called her a bitch for harshing her mellow or something like that. My sister feels bad about it, but she said, “I might have been a little tipsy,” which totally makes sense. After that, Jenny couldn’t come over anymore.
3a. We used to write notes to each other on paper plates and shut the paper plate in the door. That’s low on the trashiness spectrum, but still. At any given moment, you could find a paper plate note shut in the door that said, “At the Rathskellar!” or “Chicken patties in the freezer!” or “Do the dishes!” or “Stop taking my wine coolers!”
3b. Our upstairs tenant grew pot in my baby cradle.
It wasn’t the cradle that I used as a baby, it was a cradle that my parents made together when they had a folk-art business in the 80s. It was wooden and it had my name stenciled on it. And it was a perfect spot to grow weed. Apparently.
4. One of our porch steps had a great big hole in it, which we covered with a couple of pieces of wood (that’s not the trashy part). One of our porch steps had a great big hole in it, which we covered with a couple of pieces of wood, and that’s where I hid my wine coolers (it gets better). One of our porch steps had a great big hole in it, which we covered with a couple of pieces of wood, and that’s where I hid my wine coolers when I was 12.
*cough* Moving on.
5. I liked Debbie Gibson. (Maybe that doesn’t prove anything, but it’s still embarrassing).
6. I used to drive our Chevette to school when I was 14 or 15.
By then, we lived in that apartment up above the stores and my mom worked at one of those stores, so she never needed the car during the day. I made a bunch of copies of the keys to the Chevette so every time I got caught and my mom told me to “Hand over the keys! All of them!” I could safely hand her 3 copies without running out. Trashy, but clever. Maybe the most clever thing ever!
7. Our family car was a Chevette.
You guys, I could go on and on, I swear. You have no choice but to agree with me. I had a good perm that may have covered up the smell, but I was a bit trashy.
I like to write. I find it healing and I find it extra healing when I have an audience who says in words or just by reading my posts, “You’re not alone.” I find it super extra healing when someone in the audience says, “Your writing has helped me.” I don’t write about secrets. In fact, I haven’t written about things that aren’t well-known to friends, family, and even acquaintances. There isn’t anyone who knew my family who doesn’t know our struggles.
Is it selfish to be so concerned with my mental health that I would put my family’s pain on my blog? Perhaps. But my mental health is so important to me because it directly affects my children and my husband. My kids are my favorite people. My husband is my best friend. I owe it to them to deal with my life in the best way I know how. If my mental health is poor, my children have a poor life and my marriage sucks. If my mental health is good, my children have a good life and my marriage is good. It’s a simple equation.
I use sarcasm and humor to make light of the tough parts of my life, but everybody knows that right behind humor, there’s pain. I make light of the issues I’ve had with my parents and my grandmother in order to bring them to light so I won’t be stuck in the darkness of emotional paralysis and denial. It’s denial that makes it impossible to heal. It’s denial that causes our health problems. It’s denial that causes us to repeat these cycles. We all love our children and it’s a basic biological desire to want them to have a better life than we had. I’ve had a better life than both of my parents and I know that the experiences I complain about don’t even scratch the surface of what they had to deal with. Where my mom and dad had practically insurmountable mountains to climb, I only have a few small hills. Still, they’re my hills and sometimes they’re steep. I walk those hills and I get blisters and sometimes it feels like my canteen is empty and my tongue is swollen with thirst and the pain is too much and I want to stop. I will always struggle with the habits that come along with experience and DNA. But awareness is the best tool I have. Awareness of my failings, both inherited and learned, can only serve to bring about healing. Awareness is my Blister-Block and the fresh cool water that fills my canteen. Of course there will be issues that I’m not aware of, brand-new mistakes that my children will have to deal with. Of course. And then they’ll work it out on their own blogs or on a talk show or in a magazine or a book and it will all be fine because they won’t be in denial and they won’t repeat my mistakes when they have their own kids.
My parents know that it’s sometimes hard to be their daughter. They don’t deny that, but they also have a sense of humor. They have a sense of understanding. They know how important it is to make sense of my story in my own way so I can give my kids a better story. They’re not going to disown me. They might cringe at some of the things I write, but they’re not going to throw a fit and demand that I take this pain and tuck it away so we can watch in horror as it oozes out of me in destructive ways when I’m parenting or when I’m trying to be a decent wife.
I now have the distinct honor of being the first of my generation to be disowned by a small minority of my mother’s generation because of things I wrote on my blog. I’ve totally been dooced, family style. I honestly thought the “You’re out of the family!” rhetoric would have been buried with my grandmother, but that shit don’t die unless you kill it and you can’t kill it if you act like it’s not there, which brings me to my oft-repeated bottom line: It helps me to write about it. And what helps me, helps my kids and helps my marriage. And that, my friends, is priceless.
Some “bird” left a giant poop streak across my big ol’ living room window. The one that I can’t reach from the ground and don’t have a ladder tall enough to reach. I hate Nature. Of course it wouldn’t have pooped on the big ol’ window that I can reach from the ground. Maybe I should be glad it didn’t because then I’d have to be out there cleaning it right now instead of blogging about it. Maybe I won’t throw a rock at it. From the size of the blob, it has to be a giant bird thing. Stupid giant bird thing.
I was cleaning my house until I saw that bird’s abomination. I know everybody poops, but when the poop gets smeared on the window, that’s cause for alarm. That just ain’t right.
I was cleaning and cleaning because my ex-stepmother is coming to visit today. Is that weird? Maybe a little bit, but I don’t know. It seems ok since she was with my dad for, like, 20 years and she’s my kids’ Grandma-type person. It seems like such a waste to have put all that effort into deciding to cut her a break once in a while after I grew up and got over the fact that my mommy and daddy weren’t married anymore. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do, but whatever. I’m just going to go with what works and so far that seems to be keeping both ex-stepparents in our lives. However, I always like to make it clear that there will be no attempts at blending with brand-new steps. I probably only make that clear on my blog, not in real life because that would call for confrontation and, well, you know. I’ll always be pleasant, but distant. The end. In fact, my dad is coming for a visit next weekend, along with his girlfriend and I will be pleasant because, let’s face it, I can’t help it. I’m just pleasant. But there will always be distance for a couple of reasons:
1. I’m not a child. I think it’s different as a child. I lived with my stepdad and I lived with my stepmom for a while. They saw me graduate from high school, they saw me get married, they saw me become a mother, and I believed that they would all stay married forever.
2. I know that the next wife/husband won’t be around forever, so I don’t want to waste my time. I have enough friends. I have enough mother figures. What I don’t have is time to invest in a person whose presence in my life is based on the whims of an emotionally stunted person.
I’m super excited that my sister and her daughters are catching a ride down here with my dad. Since this post is kind of a downer, I’ll just give a big WOOT! to Tracey, Taylor, and Riley. We’ll rock out. I promise.
Anyway, Bryan, the kids, my ex-stepmom and I are walking the Race for the Cure together. She’s a survivor so it’s kind of a big deal. I have a grandma and an aunt who died from the stupid breast cancer, and I don’t think that needs to happen anymore. Dying of breast cancer is so over, I mean it! And tomorrow I’m gonna walk with 30,000 people who feel the same way. And even though it’s just a 5k, I predict I will be just as hungry and thirsty as I was after the half marathon. I will require food. And I will need to be watered. With beer.
I hate to break this to everybody, but Journey is now an oldies band. It’s true. Maybe this isn’t a surprise to you, but it certainly is to me.
I had one of those holy-shit-I’m-as-old-as-my-parents-were-when I-thought-they-were-so-old and-now-I-realize-that-they-weren’t-so-old moments yesterday. Has that ever happened to you? Jarring.
*sigh* The girls and I were in the car yesterday and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” came on the radio. Of course I turned it up and started singing because that’s my favorite thing to do. Then I heard Lena singing with me and it made me think of driving around with my parents on Saturday nights listening to “Solid Gold Saturday Night” on the Pacer radio (If you’ve heard that radio show, I bet you can’t just read the words “Solid Gold Saturday Night.” You have to sing them, don’t you? It’s ok, I do too.) I used to sing along with my parents all the frickin’ time! Even when I didn’t know the words. But those songs were well and truly old, right? Songs from my youth can’t possibly be considered well and truly old by my children. I thought about that and then I googled it. And now I frickin’ hate the google. Always telling me stuff I don’t wanna know. Know-it-all douche.
I was 6 when “Don’t Stop Believin’” came out. My mom was 6 when one of my all-time favorite oldies came out:
So, by my math, Journey=Chuck Berry. Think about that! I’m just going to assume that my math is wrong and keep going ahead with the idea that my parents are old now and they’ve always been old, while I, on the other hand, have always been young and will continue to be young. Seriously, tell me there’s something special about songs from the 50s and their “oldies” quality. It’s not the same as when a child of today hears Journey. I mean, it’s not the same, is it? Is it?
And it’s a little bit freaky. Because they’ll die and then we’re next.
Bryan’s dad turned 59 on Monday and Bryan and I talked all night about how that’s almost 60 and we remember when our parenst were 33 and 34 and weren’t they old? Yeah, but we’re not old, right? Nah! And our kids will be doing this when they’re in their 30s and they’ll talk about us like we’re about to die and that’s not cool! Those kids are mean! Let’s wake them up and beat them, thus proving our youthfulness. They’ll remember that, I bet!
My parents will be 60 in January and April. They’ve never seemed old before, but 60? It seems kind of old. Not because they’re old, but because I’m too young to have parents in their 60s. It’s about me! My parents were 26 when I was born, which is pretty young, so if they’re old, I’m old. It’s only logical.
Speaking of my parents, do you know that I still know the phone numbers to all of the bars in Chesaning, even the ones that are closed now (I’m looking at you Rathskellar and Farmers Inn) and the golf course? And of course Dave’s Bar, which has outlasted them all. I do. Because I used to call them a lot when I was a little girl. (No, not to order stuff, but if you know me in real life, I can see how you would think that). I’m not judging, but I can’t imagine a scenario in which my kids regularly had to call me or my husband at the bar. My parent shame would be unbearable and my wife rage would be, well, extremely unpleasant. Like the kind of unpleasant where you say, “Wow, this gunshot wound is extremely unpleasant.” But I guess if our kids had to call us at the bar, they would just call our cell phones and it wouldn’t suddenly hit them in adulthood that they know all of the phone numbers to the bars where they grew up. I guess that means we should go to the bar more often. Then we can forget about all of this oldness nonsense. Problem solved.
Adding to the oldness problem is a little theory that Bryan and I have. We believe that if you had kids before you turned 30, then you have to add the age of your oldest child to your actual calendar age and that gives you your true, social age. So we’re not 33 and 34. We’re 42 and 43, socially. It’s true. When we hang out with real 33 and 34 year olds, we have no idea what we’re doing. None. They talk differently. They drink differently. They care about different things. If they have children at all, they probably only have one so they’re still operating under the illusion that their child is interesting to other people. And it’s awkward when we laugh at them when they tell us their 18 month old is gifted. Because we think they’re joking, but they’re not. And then they think we’re mean, which we are, but that isn’t the point. The point is, we’re way older than everybody our age. And we’re all going to die. And now I have to take pictures again.