Important Stuff, Uncategorized

Death of a Friendship

Friendships are a funny thing. I have never gotten the hang of the idea that some people are around just for a season. I find it hurts when the season is over and I have a hard time letting go. Sometimes I can see the friendship fading. It usually starts with a spat or series of bitchy incidents. But, most of the time I’m completely blind sighted by it or worse, I wake up one day and realize I haven’t talked to a person in many years and that neither of us has bothered to make the effort.  I have become weirdly resigned to that last bit – the friendship that slowly fades away. Or, at least I thought I had until last week when I found out a once very good friend had died suddenly at the age of 43.

My friend and I met at a time when we both needed each other.  I was a stay at home mom to a sick toddler and an infant. I had just moved to a new town where I knew very few people so I joined a bunco club. The first night I met R (no names here folks) she came in late in a swirl of energy and perfume and we bonded right away.  We had so much in common. We both had a similar upbringing. We both loved music. Our birthdays were within days of each other. We both married men who were our polar opposites on the same day and we both refused to act our age.  She too had small children, although older than mine. And, she was so restless. She wanted more but really “allowed” to do much of anything about it. We both needed someone we could talk to and have bitch sessions with.  Unfortunately, she also needed alcohol. R had a real problem. It landed her in rehab and in jail with a DWI the short few years we lived in the same town.  As always happens, my husband’s job transferred us, this time to Texas. R and I vowed to stay in touch as friends always do. I truly believed we would as I knew her situation and I knew she needed a nonjudgemental ear. Then it happened, the phone calls and text messages dwindled. She was allowed to get a job, there was drama with her marriage and then she disappeared and stopped writing back. I became engrossed in my new life in my new town and rarely bothered.  Then, in 2015 the news came she and her family were in a horrible car accident. The doctors didn’t expect her to live. Her husband didn’t. It was really bad still we only chatted a few times after the incident. Again, she disappeared, until last week when I saw on Facebook she had passed away.  Her now high school senior son found her dead in the bed one morning.  An autopsy will be done to discover the reason. I’m pretty sure I can guess but at this juncture, it doesn’t really matter.  The end result is the same.

Now, I’m beating myself up for not staying in touch. Yes, rationally I know I did try and it’s not all my fault.  After all, if someone refuses to answer you what are you supposed to do? Yet, I can’t help but wonder if maybe I and a few others had kept trying to break through to her maybe the drinking would stop or slow down. But, again, I know the answer. Addiction and depression are a bitch. And, even if you do have a network of people who love and care for you ultimately the addict has to do the hard work and has to want to get sober and well.

I feel like when a friend or relative dies it’s supposed to teach you something. I can’t help but wonder what her unexpected death is supposed to teach me? Try harder at friendships? Addiction is insidious?  I’m not sure. A million of those little proverbs are rolling around in my head right now and none of them feel right.  What I do know for sure is even though I haven’t spoken to her in nearly four years, I will miss her. I will miss her smile, her laugh, and her devil may care attitude. I will miss the knowledge that somewhere out in this world is this beautiful but struggling person who just wanted unconditional love.

Finally, because she and I are both Southerners and because I believe the ones we love are never really gone as long as they are remembered by someone, I’m going to share a piece of her with you. Below is my friend’s signature dish recipe. I’m making it later this week in her honor.

TOMATO-CREAM SAUCE FOR PASTA
INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
¾ teaspoon white sugar
Directions:
In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn’t
burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to
boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in heavy
cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Pour over favorite cooked
pasta and toss
SAUSAGE BREAD
INGREDIENTS:
1 loaf frozen yeast bread (thawed) – Rhodes bread found in frozen section of Walmart
1 package breakfast sausage
½ medium onion, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese (as much as you’d like)
shredded mozzarella cheese (as much as you’d like)
melted butter

Cook sausage with onions and drain. Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 15 x 8 inch triangle, then baste with melted butter.

Layer ingredients upon rolled dough, starting with cooked sausage, then cheeses. Bring both sides of bread together and pinch in middle to close.  Be sure ends of bread are tucked in as well. Turn bread over so that pinched side is the bottom and place on greased baking pan, then baste top with melted butter.

Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned.

Note:  Since the Rhodes frozen bread comes in a package of three, I usually double the recipe, thawing two loaves and cooking two packages of sausage together.  We eat one and I freeze the other (uncooked) for another time.

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Irony, Uncategorized

Roots

For years I’ve wanted to do one of those DNA tests that tell you where you’re from. Like most people, I had a vague idea of my heritage but when it all came down to it I had no real idea.  My recent ancestors were poor and didn’t keep good records.  All I truly had was a handful of dates, larger than life stories and my mother’s eyes.  This past Christmas I received a 23 and Me kit.  I recently got back the results and these results have created more questions than answers. It confirmed there was a good deal of Irish and English blood flowing through my veins. It didn’t confirm the American Indian, which had always been part of the family lore.  But, it showed Scandinavian, German and Ashkenazi Jewish, which was a surprise but not the biggest.

The biggest surprise was my DNA relatives. Most of these DNA tests link you up with people who have similar DNA as yourself. These people range from parents, siblings and first cousins all the way to very distant cousins. None of the surnames of my supposed relatives matched the surnames I knew. I immediately began to panic and started calling all of my living relatives to get to the bottom of this matter. My maternal aunt and uncle assured me they didn’t know anything.  I just knew I was dealing with mixed up DNA or an outside kid. What if I was the outside kid? My mother was pretty and she loved men.  It could be possible.  Human interest stories are cropping up almost weekly about some guy that met his long lost twin through one of these DNA tests.  Hell, the DNA companies are starting to hire counselors for the express purpose of talking people down when they find out their Uncle is really their Daddy.

Just when I was starting to entertain all the possibilities an email showed up from one of my DNA matches.  Apparently, her dad was adopted sometime in the 1930s. Her father’s birth surname was the same as my paternal grandmother’s surname, meaning he was the child of my grandmother (unlikely since she would have been exceptionally young at that time) or one of her six brothers and sisters. The phone call to my father regarding this revelation was like something out of Abbot and Costell’s Who’s on First skit.

Me: Dad, do you know if anyone on Grandmother’s side ever gave a kid up for adoption?
Dad: No, no one in our family is adopted.
Me: No Dad, not was adopted ever gave a child up for adoption.
Dad: Nope, no one was ever adopted.  Well, there was that one uncle on Papa’s side.  He was adopted.
Me: No Dad this isn’t on that side of the family. It’s on your Mom’s side.
Dad: Oh, okay. Well, no one was adopted on that side.
Me: (Sighing and trying to retain my calm) No Dad, like given up. I mean it was the Depression. People were poor. They sometimes gave their kids away because they couldn’t afford to feed them.  And, there is always the out of wedlock thing. I mean it was the 1930s.
Dad: Well, our family didn’t do that.
Me: How do you know?! This was at least 10 years before you were born, probably more like 12.
Dad: No one ever mentioned it.
Me: (Filled with incredulity) Dad, it’s not exactly something people generally talk about. I just thought you might have overheard the adults talking.
Dad: Nope, no one in our family was ever adopted.

That is where I gave up. God bless him it was like talking to a brick wall.  And, God bless this long lost cousin’s family because I have nothing but a few random dates and names to help them in their search. I have to admit I have zero desire to be friends with these people. I have enough family scattered around the country as it is. I don’t need a new set of relatives to have to visit at least once a year. But, it’s sort of interesting to think what a vial of spit can tell about a person.  FYI if you ever do these tests it takes 85,000 years to collect all that spit. You may think you have a lot of spit but you don’t.  And, your mouth will feel so dry after coughing up all that spit you’ll think your throat is the Sahara.  You’ve been warned.

 

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Holidays, Musing, Uncategorized

Christmas Zen

silhouette of man at daytime

About this time every year, I totally lose track of everything – and I do mean everything.  I forget the day, the date, what I purchased for everyone, where I hid the stocking stuffers, what I’ve committed to bringing to the potluck dinner, and the list goes on and on. At this juncture, the meticulous lists I make to keep myself organized have long since been forgotten.  If I am with it and taking meds for my ADHD they too have been forgotten. Quite simply, I’m hanging on to the knot at the end of the rope with my fingernails.  The funny thing is any other time this type of chaos would usually put me into a panic attack of epic proportions but not this year.

I’d like to say the reason for this new found zen is some sort of meditation, yoga or pills but it’s not. I wouldn’t even say that my give a damn is busted. When it comes right down to it, I guess I just don’t care. Before you ask, no I am not depressed even though with each passing year I feel more and more like Charlie Brown. I think this feeling of zen is more a feeling that the stress doesn’t matter. It’s a feeling of there is nothing going on in my world that demands I worry about it that much. Life will work itself out.  It could also be that things seem to be going halfway right.  Ironically, that right there is what bothers me the most.  I know when the universe gives you the gift of zen it’s about to hit you right in the face with a big ole shit sandwich. That’s just the way life works.

Despite my zen, there is plenty of things to be annoyed about. For example, why does my youngest still want me to move that damn elf around even though I have a house of nonbelievers?  Why are so many people talking about how 30+ year old cartoons and songs are suddenly offensive yet homelessness and families without the ability to have a traditional holiday celebration are barely on those same people’s radar. And, why for the love of God aren’t people behaving themselves at school concerts.  You are not here to see Metalica.  Stop whooping and hollering like you are at a rock concert or rodeo.  No one needs to hear screams followed by, “WOOO HOOO GREAT JOB POOKIE.”  Pookie may have done a great job but all those other kids parents and family want to watch their kid in peace.  Holler at your own house, not at the school auditorium.  Damn people were you raised by wolves?

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Uncategorized

Hold your nose and pull the lever

vote

Y’all, I said I wasn’t going to do this. I said I wasn’t going to get political. I didn’t want to do it. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs and then some with the tv and radio ads, the robocalls, and the obnoxius Facebook, Instagram and Twitter blatherings.  For all those reasons I had no intention of writing this blog today but Oprah made me do it.  (Insert needle scratch sound effect here.) Well, I’m going to assume it was Oprah. (Yeah, yeah I know ALL about assume.) The quote my friend posted on Facebook was attributed to Oprah, so I’m gonna go with it.  The quote is this:

“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote, and you are choosing not to vote — wherever you are in this state, in this country — you are dishonoring your family.”

That’s some powerful stuff. For a hot minute, I was blown away by how simple and yet profound and important her words were until it hit me. She’s talking about everyone. Think about it, if you have females in your family and everyone does, your ancestor was denied the right to vote.  If you had immigrants or minorities of any sort, your ancestor was denied the right to vote.  If you had poor white men in your lineage that didn’t own land or a business, your ancestor was denied the right to vote.  Yep, that’s pretty much everyone.  Whether this was what Oprah was going for or not, what this quote said to me was is we are all equal and we are all equally duty bound as Americans citizens to vote. We all have a voice. Use it. And, now, this is my quote, stop patting yourself on the back for voting. This is something you should have been doing already. You shouldn’t be getting a prize for participation. Furthermore, sometimes your candidate doesn’t win and it sucks.  Don’t be a sore loser. Don’t act a fool for the camera or loot because your candidate lost. Keep trying.

Now, I don’t know about you but since I’m sick of all the politics I’m going to go watch something on my DVR. I will find out who won or lost tomorrow.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Random, Uncategorized

Homecoming

75a7cf508587495cafa7cf790d089863As of last weekend, all the high schools in my area have finished with homecoming festivities; and I am very thankful.  No, it’s not because all the nice restaurants were a madhouse and you couldn’t find a decent cocktail dress within a 100-mile radius. It’s because I can finally go to any grocery store with a floral department or Hobby Lobby and not see the photos like the one attached to this post.

Today’s topic is going to get me de-friended by my Texas bestie but really y’all this is something I will never get used to no matter how long I live in this state.  Now I get that the traditional thing is to give a girl a corsage or flower of some sort before going to a formal dance/homecoming/prom but these Texas mums have moved beyond a flower.  I’m attaching a link here to something I found the other day. It’s a blog post about 50 Gigantic Homecoming Mums everyone has to see.  These things are truly ridiculous.  They are like a car wreck you just can’t take your eyes off of.  High schoolers turn these mums into a competition of sorts – who’s mum is bigger, tackier, has more flair and do-dads, etc.  And let me tell you, these things aren’t cheap.  A small mum is easy $100 with the average mum costing $200-$300.  It’s insanity.

For years I have mentally told myself we have to move away from Texas before my kids get in high school. Now, with high school fast approaching, I’m starting to get worried because we have no prospects for a move. I wonder, will my son have to help foot the bill for this monstrosity? Will my daughter expect to get one of these fugly things and will subsequently want to hang it on her bedroom wall after Homecoming like her peers? I’ve already started campaigning for a move to Florida. It’s about the only Southeastern state we haven’t lived in.

Photo Disclaimer –  I don’t know those girls or the school they attend. I did a Google search for Texas Mums and this was the first one that popped up. Apparently, it came from Pinterest. Whatever, if you find this post and you know these girls and want me to take it down just message me and let me know.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Uncategorized

Extracurricular Shuffle

img_1748Y’all, I’ve seen a sign that the end is near. No, I’m not talking wildfires, floods, and earthquakes. I actually saw parenthood from my Mother’s point of view – which is a bonafide miracle.  I saw her point of view last night as I sat on a hot as Satan’s balls metal bleacher in calf-high grass watching my son play middle school football. My Mother refused to let me participate in any extracurricular activities. She had every excuse in the world from “We can’t afford it.” to “The Girl Scout leader is a whore who sleeps with all the Dads.”  Yes, that last quote is true. She actually told me that when I begged to be a Brownie. I desperately wanted to wear that cute little uniform complete with knee-high socks and beanie and sell (i.e. eat) those delicious cookies. As I got older, I realized all of her reasons were just excuses.  If I had really wanted to do it, we could have swung the instrument rental or registration fee.  The fact of the matter was my Mother was selfish and lazy.  She didn’t want to cart me 20 minutes across town to a game, practice or meeting. She didn’t want to sacrifice money for her cute clothes so I could have some god awful hot pink tutu that I wore once on a stage and immediately went into the toy box.

When I was old enough to understand, I vowed if I had kids that had the talent or ambition to play sports or an instrument or whatever, I would move heaven and earth to let them have the opportunity.  And, the opportunities they have had.  Between my son and my daughter, they have done soccer, t-ball, swimming, football, basketball, art, theater, golf, dance, gymnastics, horseback riding, band, choir, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and I’m probably forgetting a few more things.  Some of these endeavors have lasted for years while others only lasted a season. I have spent more hours shuttling children from one place to another and sitting on the sidelines or in waiting areas for various lessons to wrap up than I even want to think about.  We have spent enough for a few nice vacations on instrument rental, extra training camps, and hot pink tutus.  We have heard the dreaded, “I don’t want to do _____ anymore. Can I quit at the end of this season?” So yeah, last night as sweat rolled down the back of my legs and the white trash lady behind me rang a cowbell the size of her face everytime our team made a touchdown, I completely understood my Mother’s point of view.

Look, I know I have it easy. I only have two kids and neither of them is at the top of their chosen activity.  I have a cousin with four daughters who all play multiple sports.  I have friends that do elite or select kid sports.  You know, the teams where the kids are recruited like professional athletes and travel all over the state or region for games. These families are never at home. They can’t remember what home looks like.  They barely have time for school and jobs before they are on to the next game.  I actually texted one of those friends last night and told her she’s a saint for being an elite sports mom because I don’t know that I could do it.  Maybe if my kids had really remarkable talent, I would sacrifice and make it happen for them but I don’t know. That’s one of those instances where I’d have to be in that position to accurately make that call.

Tonight, when I sit on a well worn couch trying to read a book while waiting for my daughter to get out of ballet class, I will remind myself I am doing what I always said I would for my kids. I’ll be thankful for an hour that I get to sit on my butt and practically do nothing.  And, I’ll mentally pat myself on the back for not being a selfish twit by allowing my kids the opportunities I never had. But, I swear if that lady sits behind me at another football game and rings that damn cowbell in my ear one more time I may have to snatch it from her and knock her across the face with it.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Uncategorized

Orientation

interior of abandoned building

I hated the majority of my Middle and High School experience. Were it not for a close group of girlfriends I met my 8th grade year, I’m not really sure I would have made it out of school. I wasn’t a bad student. I got decent grades and actually loved the learning aspect. I hated the busy work. I hated the halfassed curriculum and poorly thought out assignments. I hated the teachers who droned on like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off about absolutely nothing of consequence. Even at the tender age of 13, I knew I had better things to do with my time than detail the parts and pieces of a worm and memorize the capital of some Western European State that would get renamed a few years later.

A few nights ago I found myself once again roaming the halls of a middle school, only this time it was for parent orientation. We were given our kids’ schedule and were expected to follow a modified bell schedule for our kid’s classes.  Of course maps weren’t available, so you had to rely on your powers of deduction to find the classrooms.  After going through the motions for two hours, I realized a few things.

First, the middle school experience hasn’t gotten any better.  The building still smells. When you’re short and there are 18,000 people in the halls taller than you it’s nearly impossible to find your classroom.  You will be late to class.  The teacher will give you the stink eye for being late even if your schedule says the wrong room.

Next, educators are still the same. The principal is clueless and only the office staff know what’s going on. Most of the teachers still treat you like you’ve done something wrong even when you haven’t because they expect you to be surly.  To the teacher’s defense, 13 year olds are typically very surly.  Then you have your different types of teacher. There are the ones that have been there forever and are so good you hope every child you know gets to have that teacher just once.  Then there is one that has been teaching forever and should not have become a teacher or at minimum retired 20 years ago. There is the teacher who thinks they are cool and aren’t and the one that is but doesn’t let it go to their head.  There’s also the hardass and the doormat. And, finally, the ones just punching the clock and praying it will all be over soon.

Finally, the kids, err I mean adults, are still basically the same. There are the perfects with their perfect make up, hair and outfits. They are so damn perky you want to slap them because let’s be real no one is that damn happy over mundane crap even if you are trying to have a positive attitude.  Back in the day, they would have called to each other across the hall about a sale at the Gap or maybe a party.  The other night I heard one simper, “Hey Karen, are y’all doing lacrosse again this year? I sure hope we see Chloe next week!”  You know perfect doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Chloe but there she is pretending to care.  There’s the smart kids, the greasers, the hipsters, the artists, the jocks and the suck ups.  You remember the suck ups?  They are the ones all up in the teacher’s face as soon as the bell rings. There were several of those at orientation night. Personally, I know I reverted back.  Much like I am today, I didn’t have time for all the fake bullshit.  I was a jaded adult in a child’s body.  With zero f$cks to give, I was uninterested and above it all. I gave the teachers the ‘Yeah, I’m here because I have to be, now thrill me’ look. In short, think Daria with thing for Disney.

I think the thing that struck me the most was despite how much things have changed since I was in school, it’s interesting to see how much they are still the same. While I’ll never understand the pressure to have a million subscribers on my social media account, I will know what it’s like when simpering Becky or no neck Evan blackballs my kids that never want to grow up or haven’t hit their growth spurt.  Hopefully just being able to remember all those personalities and things that never change will help my guide my kids.  If it doesn’t help at least I showed my face at orientation so the administration will know who I am when I have to raise hell on my kid’s behalf.

Photo credit: Free picture. I’m broke not copyright infringement intended.

 

 

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