Tuesday, March 26, 2013

24 Days - Forty Thank-You Notes Delivered to Your Screen

As the clock winds down on ‘This Blog’s Life,’ I’m finding myself with so much I want to say but so little time left to say it. I still have stories to tell. Still have memories to share and anecdotes to compile into a craftily-named entry. But today I think I’m going to stick with some simple thank-yous. To people. To places. I even thank an organ in this thing. Because unlike the Oscars, I can’t be played off, however like the Oscars, I could forget someone very important that I shouldn’t (I’m looking at YOU, Hilary Swank!) So, here goes… 

  1. Thank you to Miss Cheryl who in kindergarten took me outside of the classroom to reprimand me for stealing Joey DiTrolio’s coloring sheet from the science fair because I had lost my own. It scared the shit out of me, and put me on a path of honesty that would stay with me for years to come.
  2. Thank you to my brother Joe for telling the kid up the street that he would break his arms if he ever laid a hand on me again even though I was the one who started the fight.
  3. Thanks to a girl named Jen that went to my high school for telling me that I was too self-centered in conversations. It made me more aware of asking questions of other people.
  4. Thanks to the lady at the day spa for letting me know that I was overplucking my eyebrows in the middle. The bastards still haven’t grown back, though.
  5. Thank you to the Irish bullies in seventh and eighth grade for beating me up and making fun of me on a daily basis. What you did empowered me to never get picked on once I got to high school. And I wasn’t. Oh, and fuck youz.
  6. Thank you to my friend Denine who was the only person to help me out when I got jumped on the Septa bus by a multitude of kids from another school. I’ll never forget your bravery or kindness.
  7. Thank you to my mother for instilling in me that work should never be looked at as a chore.
  8. Thanks to Miss Votta who paid for my prom tickets when my family was about to get evicted from the low-income house that we rented. I’m thrilled I got to pay you back monetarily some years later, but I will never be able to pay you pack emotionally as long as I live.  
  9. Thank you to the person who told me when I was eighteen that I really should be listening to The Cure and not that crap I had been listening to in high school.
  10. Thanks Steve Singer for giving me my first job in the jewelry industry. I love it and have never looked back.
  11. Thank you to my first husband who pretty much handed me the world’s best divorce. I hope we are friends for the rest of our lives.
  12. Thanks to every young cashier at Publix for raising their eyebrows in surprise when they card me after scanning my bottle(s) of wine.
  13. Thank you to those who helped make Georgia ‘home’ for me – a woman who is so Philly she practically poops cheesesteaks.
  14. Thank you Ina, Courtney, Lauren, and Michelle for giving me a place in a place that I felt I’d forever be an outsider. No more eating lunch alone.
  15. Thank you to the stripper who tipped me twenty bucks when she handed me her coat to check which would have only cost her two. It was 2003, and MAN, I needed that twenty.
  16. Thank you to the black boys on Hancock Street who taught me how to pop and do a windmill on a piece of old linoleum, as well as to the black girls who taught me how to cornrow braid. Growing up in the projects wasn’t always as bad as it seemed.
  17. Thank you, Hurricane Frances, for sending my husband and me up to Nashville in September of 2004 instead of our original destination of Orlando. It was there that we discovered a little Philly band called Marah. The rest is history.
  18. Thank you to Tom, the man whose surname I’ll never know, for saving my son’s life on September 16, 2006.
  19. Thank you to my mother-in-law for FOREVER being a person we can depend on.
  20. Thank you, Catholicism, for continuing to guilt me into believing in something my brain thinks I shouldn’t. I don’t mind the guilt. I kind of like believing.
  21. Thank you, Beatrice, for greeting me day in and day out with the biggest kisses and hugs any mother could ever want from a daughter. And for showing me exactly the hell I put my mother through.
  22. Thanks to S.A. for doing what you did at a time that was just right. Things are so much better now and I owe it all to you.
  23. Thanks to my best friend for being my rock and my shoulder and my ear and my confidant and my therapist and my pharmacist and my muse. I love you like a sister.
  24. Thank you, Overbrook, for feeding me, schooling me, and welcoming me in the earliest years of my childhood life.  You will always be home to me. I am proud to say I’m from West Philly.
  25. Thank you G.A.M.P. for teaching me my circle of fifths, the difference between adagio, legato, staccato, and allegro, and for just outright being the fucking BEST high school in the city of Philadelphia. OH GAMP SO EVER DEEEEEEAAAAR…
  26. Thank you to my brother Steven for letting me use his apartment for “After Prom” in 1990. Sorry about all the cigarette butts. And the overwhelming smell of beer that hung around for weeks. The pot wasn’t mine, however. I swear.
  27. Thank you to my four childhood friends for being who you are to me almost three decades later. May the bond between us never be bent or broken by anyone. Love brought us back together and trust will keep us there. SMABB.
  28. Thank you to my brain for making fairly good decisions over the last four decades. My heart? Not so much.
  29. Thanks to the city of Decatur for proving to me that as a society and yes, even in the South, we really can “all just get along.”
  30. Thank you to the teachers who encouraged me, enriched me, and empowered me through thirteen years of school. I may not have made it to college, but you’re the reason I’m anything, and I truly believe that.
  31. Thank you to everyone and anyone who tried to keep me down in one way or another. You’re also the reason I’m anything, and I also truly believe that.
  32. Thank you Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, and Atlanta Falcons. Screw you, Philadelphia Eagles.
  33. Thank you to my son for always looking out for me, even when I was struggling on the last leg of our run. I love you I love you I love you to pieces.
  34. Thanks to BlogHer.com for publishing some of my writings. You helped me believe in myself, and because of that I kept going.
  35. Thank you to the grunge movement, indie rock, and eighties alternative music. Oh, and U2. Just because.
  36. Thank you to my parents for never taking me anywhere on a plane; you’re the reason I barely keep my feet on the ground now.
  37. Thank you to my cousin Big Steve for being there for me at my dance recitals among other times when most others weren’t. You are still an absolute gentleman to this day and I’m so happy to have you back in my life.
  38. Thank you Google for just about everything I will ever need to know about everything. I don’t think I could write without you.
  39. Thank you C.S. for reaching out to me and trying to reconnect after a long time of not being around one another. I hope we keep it going. I love you.
  40. Thank you to my husband. I could go on and on about how wonderful he’s been, how understanding he can be, how beautiful, intelligent, and caring he is, but I’d rather just say that if there is an emotion other than outright love that I feel most for you, I think gratefulness sums it up perfectly. I am plainly and simply grateful for you. I am grateful for you, and I thank you for all that you are. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

35 Days - Loving a Predator: What It’s Like to Have a Child Molester In Your Family

I’m not going to name any names. I won’t even get specific enough in this post that those who know me will know automatically about whom I speak. The reality is, those closest to me already know. This isn’t an attempt to “out” anyone as this person has already been outed several years ago. My intention here is simple: write to heal, write to share, and write so that those affected know that I’m thinking of them and do, every day.

I lived with the knowing that I was molested by a family member for a year before I could conjure up the strength to tell anyone else. It – the event – happened when I was in seventh grade but it wasn’t the first time I had ever been touched inappropriately by a male. I have memories of playing in the house of a neighbor on my block and being pinned down on the tile floor of their kitchen by my friend’s much older brother as he grinded his hardness into my then eleven-year-old pelvic area. A year before that incident, I had been traumatized by my first sighting of a grown man’s erect penis. While walking home from the Catholic school in South Philly I attended in the fifth grade, I heard a faint tapping come from a brick row home on my left. I stopped dead and stared at the roughly twenty-five-year-old man standing behind the clear Plexiglas of his screen door, stark naked, cock in hand, going at it. I recall turning my head away quickly, but not quickly enough to not have the image burned in my brain forever and elicited in daily musings for weeks to come. And I recall to some extent, though I wish couldn’t, the first and only time I had been date-raped, although naturally that happened many years after having been molested. These images creep up on me from time to time, more so now that I’m a mother and even more so since becoming the mother of a little girl of my own. Do they make me fear what’s in store for her? They do. Do I think she’ll be able to physically handle the situation in the way that I did if not better? I do, but the physical aspect of it is the least of my concerns right now. It’s the emotional aspect that fucks everyone up in the end.

When you trust someone as completely as you are humanly able to, your entire world can collapse around you when that trust is betrayed. As an adult, you feel as if you’ve drowned and passed away already and the only way to get yourself back to normalcy is to pull some Jesus shit and try resurrection. You start thinking in terms of potions and magic: “If I just add this lizard eye to this bowl of Balsamic and throw in a piece of the small intestine I cut out of that homeless guy yesterday, things will all be fine!” When it happens, grief abounds, and then anger and of course, the other stages follow. But when you’re a child, the grief reaches an entirely different level. It can mask itself as failure or as fault, and can become dangerous enough to solicit thoughts of suicide even in the youngest of years. This is precisely what I went through – at twelve

It was only a few years ago that I found out that another very close family member had also lived through what I did, only, on a much, much graver level. This relative had survived – physically – numerous molestations but mentally, they had died the first time it happened. It affected them in a way that it didn’t affect me, possibly because I am a stronger person in spirit. That’s what predators do; they tend to go after the weakest victims. It’s not at all different from every “Living Planet” show you’ve ever watched about Africa. You ask yourself, “How in the hell can that tiny lion kill that huge elephant?” but they can, can’t they? Because they know – they sense – which one is the frailest member of the pack, which usually means the oldest, the sickest, or, the youngest. This relative was affected so much by the horrible memories of our youth that they slipped into despair and suffered a breakdown. It was on that day that any love I had ever felt for the person who committed these crimes – and that is what they are; they are crimes of the severest degree no matter at what level the law states – had dissipated. See, I had reached into my heart and forgiven. Or rather, I had allowed myself to make the excuses for the predator which enabled me to live with what had happened so that I could face them while in their company. It enabled me to love the predator as any blood relative should. But once I knew that I wasn’t alone in my horrors – that another human being had relived over and over the nightmares that crippled me for years – my take on the entire matter changed. This was no longer the one-time occurrence that I convinced myself as a child it was. This wasn’t some drunken mistake that anyone (not really) could have made if intoxicated enough. This was out and out child molestation, and now, there were victims, with a capital S. And the victim count would only go higher.

I know the predator as well as anyone could know anyone. I had loved them with a degree higher than most and defended them when, by rights, they never deserved defending. I can see them today, sitting on their couch in their place of residence, thinking not about what they had done that could drive their loved ones away, but more about what they had done that should have kept their loved ones around. They are selfish and cynical, but mostly, hypocritical. I can only imagine what the conversations must have been like in their house when the news of Jerry Sandusky surfaced. I can see their face, watching in horror and disgust and I can almost hear their voice saying something along the lines of “What a piece of shit this guy is. They should fry him. If I was those kids’ father he would have never made it to the courthouse steps. They’d have to put me in jail because I’d have killed him myself.” And the irony is that those statements are pretty spot on. They would have. This person would have killed anyone who ever laid a hand on their kids, and yet, they did what they did to other children; to other people’s kids, to other family members’ kids and even, to their own.

Over the last couple of months, three more of the predator’s victims have surfaced and presented themselves to me either personally, or through a third party. Three more individuals make the victim count five, for now. Three more pieces of my heart broken. Three more adults who will eternally be scared little children in their minds. Well, technically two who will, because the third has already gone to what the remaining four only believe would be a better place. Three more reasons why hatred is okay in my book. And three more nails in the coffin of what was a relationship with a family member that I had known since the day I came into this world.

My tenure is coming to a close here on Eve of Forty. For the last year I have thought about writing a post about being molested as a child and every time I came close I talked myself out of it. Why? Maybe because I thought that people would think I was doing it for the shock factor. Or for hits. And I didn’t want the subject matter to get lost in any of those things because this topic is as serious as it is sad for me. It’s as poignant as it is personal. And don’t think that my airing the experience makes it any less personal, believe me. It comes in a close second as being the darkest day in my existence to the day that I almost lost my son, with the caveat being that his seizures eventually stopped and this situation just continues to get worse. But I felt that I had to share it. I felt that Eve – the woman who was born naked and lived naked and exposed herself in front of her man and her god – would be frowning at me if I had written and shared all that I had over the last year without exposing the part of her that was largely responsible for sculpting the person she is today, both good and bad.

So, this is it. Maybe every post from here on it will be bubble gum. Maybe the next month’s worth of blogs will be filled with stories about shoes and pictures of my derriere. Or maybe I won’t write anything else because after this, what else is left? Right now, Eve is as naked as she can be, though in reality, I think this post probably goes beyond even naked. I have cut myself open with this, and you are all looking directly inside of me. There really is nowhere else to go from here.

Naaaaaahhhh… I’ll be back. I always come back. And I hope you will, as well. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

40 Days - Against the Grain: A Letter to My Sixty-Year-Old Self

If I see another Facebook post or tweet with a link to some blog written by some chick titled “An Open Letter to My (insert number in the teens here) Self” I’m going to lose my shit. Writers… it’s been done.  It was cute the first one or three times, but enough is enough. Let it go. You want to write a blog about a letter you’ve written to a real person who will never receive it? Try something political. Or pick someone in Hollywood. Me? I’m going to write a letter to my future self, that way, I know that bitch will see it. So, here goes nuthin’…


Dear Sixty-Year-Old Me,

You are one foxy-ass bitty, you know that? Seriously, look at those biceps! At 60! Your shit is fine, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So, what’s going on? How were the fifties? I know we struggled a bit there with the whole “trying to find ourself” thing and if I know us, we probably FINALLY attempted to go back to college and get our degree, but I can only imagine that once we realized our forty-five-year-old professor was more interested in the twenty-five-year-old grad student in the third row than he was in our “experience” as a woman, we bailed shortly thereafter. And you know what, that’s cool. I’m with us on that. Your young(er) self is not going to be disappointed with our vanity. It’s part of who we are.

How’s our health? Did we take good care of ourself? I know I probably put one too many bottles of wine in us right around our fortieth birthday, and I’m sorry for that, but know that I never put drugs in us and that we never… scratch that… we rarely drank to the point of being out of control. It’s been a tough year, so you’ll have to forgive this period in our life. But hey, it’s all in the past, right?

Let’s talk about our hair. Did we do it? Tell me we did it. Tell me we let our hair go completely gray. WE DID??? We are the WOMAN!!! I was hoping we didn’t falter (time travelling high-five) and crumble under peer pressure. That is so badass. Did we keep it long, too? Shoulder length?? Who are we, Candice Bergen? Okay, fine. I’ll accept shoulder length at sixty. Just don’t go all “Charlize Theron circa 2013” one day, m’kay? You know we were close after the Oscars that year. Those dreadfully boring Oscars.

How were we as a mom? Did we keep it together? This is an important question here, because, well, you know… Beatrice wasn’t exactly the easiest child and I wasn’t exactly the cuddliest of mothers. She’s just about twenty-three now. Is she holding her own? What? A biomedical engineer?? Christ. I always knew she wasn’t my kid. And seven tattoos? Okay, I retract; she’s my kid. What about Roman? An English teacher? And a writer? I knew he would be. He has his father’s editing and grammatical skills and my creative storytelling mind. I knew he’d be a natural when it came to literature.  Is he happy doing what he’s doing? It thrills me to know that.  Hug them today, for me. For us. Beatrice lives in Austin? Okay, well, then, call her, will you? And just tell her we called to say that we loved her. But you’ll hug Roman because he’s coming over for dinner just as he does every Sunday? Of course he does. That’s our boy.

What about the men in our life? Did we manage through all of our idiosyncrasies, faults, mistakes, and what I could only imagine was ‘Georgia’s worst case of menopause on record’ to keep hold of the one we loved and stay the course of marital bliss? Oh. Really? Okay. Well, that’s… well… I guess it is the way it is supposed to be then. Thank you for letting me know, though. Maybe there is something I can do about that now. I’ll check in again when I’m fifty to see if the story remained the same. 

So, I guess we did okay for the most part then, huh? Looks like we beat the odds on the health issue… at least, so far. It appears that back injury still flares up from time to time, but, we figured that would be the case.  And we are still out there working like we’ve done since we were fifteen, so, that’s real damned cool. It’s all good news, Old Lady Me. I’m pretty stoked about us thus far. But before I end this letter, I’d like to say a few final things to you:

·         I’m sorry that we smoked for the years that we did.

·         Prepare to have loads of memories from loads of roads travelled, because we won’t stop until we can no longer walk.

·         Let’s plan on playing more with the kids and not telling them that we’re always working on something and don’t have the time.

·         You’re beautiful. You were at 6. You were at 16. And you are at 60. Maybe not everyone notices. Maybe not everyone tells us. And maybe we don’t always feel like we are, but we are, and so is every other woman out there who has something to give back to this world.

·         Remember who loves you most and best because in the days that are yet to come, that will be more important than anything else in the world.

Rock on my sexy, sixty-sister. I hope we continue to not dress our age and that we’re still listening to whatever is the next generation’s “Indy Rock” movement. In other words, stay young, but not in a “Pony Boy/Outsiders” type of way. More like in a Sofia Loren way. But, with less sun. That shit makes you wrinkled.
Live long and masturbate often.


Friday, March 1, 2013

49 Days - Why I Stay On Social Media: The Truth, Exposed

Since my days are numbered on this here blog I figured it was time to get down and dirty by getting out the last of the things this forum would allow. Today’s post might leave you feeling like I’m a bitch, or leave you feeling like I’m shallow, or, it might just have you leaving. And honestly, all of that is cool by me, because when the shit hits the fan, what does any of it really matter, right? So with that warning, read on. Or don’t. Or have a muffin. Or sit in traffic. Or breastfeed publicly, like Pink does. Or sign on to some form of social media. It’s all good, either way.

I originally joined Facebook because I was told I had to at my old job, and look what a monster that shit created. Facebook has gotten me into more trouble than most would think it was worth, but not me. I like the trouble. I welcome it. A life without trouble is a boring life, indeed, and not one I would ever want to live. So this is the story, or rather, a list of many little reasons (with anecdotes) of why I stay on Facebook and social media in general…

Friends. Real ones.

I moved to Atlanta a decade ago. So weird to say that. This coming May it will be ten years that I have lived in only the second place I’ve ever lived, and when I moved I thought to myself, “How in the fuck am I going to keep in touch with all of these people?” Enter, Facebook. Granted, my best friend isn’t even on Facebook but that doesn’t really matter because I know how to get her if I need her and vice versa (as I just finish up a text to her). But some of my other friends are on Facebook. Folks I had been friends with in the early years like my Donato crew that I spoke of in an earlier post. Shit, Facebook has been our outlet and even a place to share our darkest secrets at times. It has enabled us to not only keep our friendship alive and healthy, but provides us an avenue to plan get-togethers and future events such as dinners and trips. Yeah, Facebook can be a fucking fantasy-filled mess at points, but there are a lot of good people on there that I love and care about, and fuck you if you don’t want to see pictures of their kids, because I do. And fuck you twice if you don’t want to see pictures of mine, because I want to share them, and I do, because I can. I like knowing that they go away on magnificent trips and eat gorgeous food and drink good bottles of wine. I want to know that the people I love are living the good life, and I like being able to share the same things with them and like to think that the people who really love me feel the same. So I will continue to do what I’ve always done by sharing my thoughts and posting links to this blog alongside the pictures of food, wine, and kids. It’s my page; you know how the old saying goes… “If you don’t like it, hide it.”

“Friends.” Fake ones.

They’re there. They exist. Let’s not deny it. The “casual acquaintance” whom we accepted a friend request from after meeting them that one time at that one party that you attended with that one guy. Yeah. Them. Or the person you haven’t seen since your eighth grade dance who didn’t speak to you then who why on Earth would they now? Let’s face it, they’re not so bad. Or, they are. But when they are, you hide them for a little while until the time comes for you to do your purge and then you rid yourselves of them altogether. Stop lying to yourself; you know it’s true. And who the fuck are these people, anyway? If they’re professional colleagues shouldn’t they send you a LinkedIn request? Why do they need to know that you posed nude for a photo shoot or drank yourself into oblivion on your third night in Cozumel? Oh, and I especially love it when your husband’s ex sends you a friend request. Yeah. Because I am really DYING to see 30-year old pictures of the two of you making out at the Prom. C*nt. You’re welcome that I used the asterisk. So why do I humor these people, you say? Because it’s what I do. I’ve always been an in-your-face kind of gal and getting on the last nerve of these types of people in particular adds just a little something to my existence. I won’t deny it. You might, but I told you at the beginning, this post is about honesty. I kind of like getting under the skin of these people. Maybe doing so will make them think twice about the next person they send a friend request to whom they don’t know. You. Are. Welcome.

Friends That Once Were.

Remember those girls from the tattoo story? Let me tell you a little ditty about one of them (Are you reading, Nick? This one’s for you.) This is the person who posed as my best friend for years. Sadly and naively, I fell for it. So much so that when I decided that I had outgrown Philadelphia I presented to her a diamond necklace that was made from the diamond stud earrings that my ex-husband had given to me as a wedding gift. What a word “Friendship” is. What a complex idea that someone would be honest with you at all costs, and would allow you to depend on them when you were at your lowest. How fooled I was. This woman – this “c”-word – well, she was no friend. When it came time for me to start a life over, she wasn’t there. I came to find out that she had played my ex-husband and me against one another, and that’s not even the worst part of it. She used to tell people that she couldn’t wait until I got pregnant so that she could see me fat. How about THAT shit? My FRIEND?? Meanwhile, two kids later, I wear the exact same size I did when she and I were friends, and her ass could muffle a three-alarm fire. Oh, and the connection to Facebook? Years after she abandoned our friendship in the lowest form imaginable (so good to know she struggles for *real* friends to this day, which includes someone that she talked so much about behind the poor girl’s back), she sent me a private message letting me know she thinks of me often and hopes I’m well. One of life’s finer moments happened when I deleted that message (after calling my best friend to share this hypocrisy and get a great laugh) and then blocked her nosey ass altogether, because we all know the truth. Was she really trying to say “hi” because she thinks about me?  That’s not the type of person she is. She was checking in to see if I was failing because that would have made her happy, or if I had gained weight because that would have, too. Hope she’s enjoying the divorced life. Oh, yeah, she got a divorce. See, what goes around comes around, Chubby. PEACE OUT.

Exes Who Dumped Me.

I know I shouldn’t get all tingly when I see these guys gloat about their latest flavor-of-the-week only to be dumped on their asses a short time later, but I can’t help it, I do. The reality is that they unfairly treated me pretty badly and so a piece of me feels they deserve it, even if it was twenty years ago. The old “You reap what you sow.” And to the guy who told me I needed to lose a “few pounds” - I was named one of Atlanta’s Fifty Most Beautiful People and you’re almost fifty and working at Lowe’s in the lumber department. I have a gorgeous, successful, understanding, empathetic, tall, beautiful husband (you're welcome, Todd) who is flying me to Germany for my fortieth and your wife is eating Krispy Kremes (plural) in her profile picture. Yeah. I’m all about staying on social media for these train wrecks. Let’s DEFINITELY be Facebook friends. PUH-LEEEEASE.

Out and Out Enemies.

I will accept your friend request just so I can look at your page long enough to thank God just how awesome my life really is. Then, I will say something cruel to you for all of the horrible things you said and/or did to me when I was a pre-teen/teenager/young adult before I permablock you forever, making you wonder why you ever sent me a request in the first place. You’re a douche. You always were a douche. And maybe a bully. Or a bitch. Or a fucking idiot/piece-of-shit. And apparently you still are since you didn’t remember that you bullied me at some point. We’re older now, and you’re still an immature asshole who works at a pizza place and cuts people down, and now, it’s your turn, loser. I am here - I exist – just to ruin your motherfucking day. Oh, wait, that’s right… your life is your own punishment.

And this, my friends (enemies, fake friends, exes and readers)… this is why I love Facebook. It’s the biggest public “fuck you” that exists to all of those who deserve it most. Think I have issues because I get some enjoyment from that? Okay, well, that’s your opinion, so, fuck you if you do. It’s my blog, after all. If you don’t like it… GET OFF IT.

Have a nice day.