Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who are you?

In families we all tend to fill roles. The good kid, the prankster, the troublemaker, we all have a label and a place to fit. I was the good daughter. Not a hard battle for the title really as you can see. As the good daughter you have a few responsibilities, you get good grades, you do as you are told and you don't rock the boat. So for a long time this is what I did.

But I am going to back up again here, bear with me it's a long way to back up, about 75 years. When my mother was growing up her older sister was the favorite child. She was the princess, the perfect daughter, the angel of the family and my grandparents made no secret about their favoritism. This caused my mother and my Aunt Dorothy to HATE their older sister. I guess since Aunt Annie knew she was the favorite she really lorded it over the other two. She was mean and nasty to them and was never in any trouble over it but if they retaliated they were punished. Well my mother decided that this was not going to happen in her household when she had children and so she went about making sure we were all even. And she does it even to the is day with her grandchildren.

Sounds great right? And I do appreciate the thought process behind it, it's the execution of it that caused issues. I will give you an example with the grand kids. When Christopher was in 8th grade he made the All-City Honor band. I was very proud of him and called my mom to let her know. Her response? "That's nice, [your nephew] is off of parole." Let that last sentence sink in for a second. But she had to balance it. She had to find something good to say about one of the other grand kids and that was the thing that popped into her mind quickest. I just shook my head. Off of parole is equal to honor band. Okay, got it. And the funny thing is I knew that Christopher's news would be treated the same way on the other end. One of the other grand kids would do something soon, maybe my oldest nephew would get cast in a play he wanted and when he told his grandmother the response would be, "That's nice, Christopher made the honor band." She loves all of us equally and she wants to show it but instead of breeding feelings of equality it breeds resentment.

The other thing it does is make you wonder why you are trying so hard. Once my sister straightened up her drug use was only mentioned briefly and in passing. And what happened during the time she was using was never talked about at all. If I said anything my mother would say something along the lines of how good all of that was in the past. Sweep it up, box it up and put it away. Because she was using during the time period where you are learning who you are and how to take care of yourself on your own and find some independence she didn't develop those skills in the same way as the rest of the siblings. This led to her needing to be bailed out a lot. And I think my parents were so happy that she was "back" that they wanted to make sure they gave her every opportunity they could to do well. So when you are working hard to do the right thing and you see someone else not (in your opinion) and you are both being rewarded in the same ways it starts to eat at you just a bit. And on the other side of it, she stopped using so she got better but it took me much longer, I didn't have a switch to flip to make it all go away. So as she got healthy and started a normal life again and everyone else was able to move forward I was stuck. And I didn't even realize it.

My parents are really good people. Let me put that out there because I know a lot of what I am writing doesn't make it sound like they were or are. This is another area for disclaimers. I really do believe that they did the best they could with what they had. They were both working very hard, Mom had a full time job (by full time I mean probably 50 hours a week) and Dad worked two jobs. My brother worked one to two jobs at a time as well. They were very busy trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. So the things that seemed important to a 12 year old really weren't all that big in their minds. Doesn't make them bad, just makes them busy.

When I was in fourth grade my teacher held an end of the year conference with my mother and told her they really wanted to double pass me the next year. Basically have me skip fifth grade. It was apparent I was very far ahead of the class and I was bored. To head off the disruptive behaviors that come with smart kids getting bored in school she wanted to send me right to the sixth grade. My mom would have none of that. If the pubic school system couldn't educate me then she would find someplace else that could. This lead to me going to Parkview Baptist School from 5th - 8th grade. It was the least expensive private school they could find and it would let them pay on installments instead of all up front. This was a huge decision for them to make and I am really grateful for Back then I was just furious. How dare they take me away from my friends right at the end of my elementary years? We were going to RULE THE SCHOOL in 5th grade. We were finally the oldest kids there and instead I was right back in the middle of the pack and in a BAPTIST school? We weren't even baptists!

Looking at it now I am amazed they made that choice. First off, we were barely getting by as it was, to add a few hundred dollars a month to our budget must have been the straw the broke the camel's back. Secondly it meant making sure I had a ride to and from school, where I had been a latchkey kid since first grade. If you are working full time all the time this isn't that easy to pull off. But it was a really good choice on their part and they didn't even realize all of the repercussions it would have. When I went back into the public school system in high school the first day of freshman registration I ran into the group of kids that I had hung out with in elementary school. Middle school is a time of serious changes. The group had split down the middle, half went the preppy jock route and half went the stoner freak route. Well, as we had no money and I have very little athletic ability you can see which group I most likely would have gone with. Instead I didn't hang with either of those groups in high school and spent most of my time floating.

So, the middle school years. My first day of school my parents were both working so it was up to my brother to take me. And I was not pleasant to be around, wasn't happy to be there and then really wasn't happy when all of the other kids were sitting in the first day Welcome Chapel service with their parents and I was there with my brother, poor Jeff having to deal with all of that. One of the girls asked me the next day if I was an orphan since she had never seen someone's parents miss the first day. Ouch.

Well that started my first experience with being ashamed of who I was. We were poor. Most of the kids there weren't. My parents didn't always make it to every event. When I pointed out to my mom that all the other kids had someone there for all of the programs she went about fixing it very pragmatically. Who ever had a day off went. Mom, Dad, Oldest Brother, Sister-in-law, Middle Brother. Who ever could fit it in the schedule that's who was going to be there. My seventh grade year, the morning of the Christmas program I told my mom I would see her at lunch time. She just looked at me, I said, "Remember? the Christmas play is today?" Oh yes, of course she remembered! I can only imagine the panicked phone calls that went around that morning trying to find someone who was free. My sister-in-law was the one that ended up stuck going. I am sure it was how she spent her lunch hour that day and I am glad she made it, since I was about to be the only one there again without someone in their family in the audience. Which is what happened the following year. When the play we presented was written by one of the students. Yeah, that would be me. Though I was a little grateful no one was there since the performers botched a middle scene which then threw the whole production off. I remember wanting to hand out scripts to everyone in the audience so they could see how it was supposed to go. :-)

When I was in the 8th grade at the end of the school year I came down with chicken pox. I got sick first at school. High fever and headache were the first symptoms. I went to the nurse's office (a cot outside the bathroom) to lay down and wait for a ride home. It took two hours for someone to come get me. My oldest brother pulled the card and he couldn't come until he could get off of work. Now by this time he was married, out of the house and had a baby of his own and he was still being called into duty to take care of things in our house. On one hand it shows the good things about my family, still pulling in and helping each other out, but at 12 when the teacher is checking on you again and again and no one has come yet it's just embarrassing.

As an adult I completely understand. My parents were running as fast as they could to keep up. We were sinking under financial strain, including my tuition, every time they thought they were making progress something would happen that would set them back. A car would blow up, dad needed knee surgery, a loan would come due. Two steps forward three steps back. So I can see how the day to day things sometimes got skipped. But when you are a kid, all you can see is that you are invisible. That even though you are working hard and doing what you think you are supposed to nobody is noticing.

And it didn't help that twice in that time period the set back was bailing out my sister. After graduation she went to Grand Junction to college. When she first left it was like I got a chance to take a deep breath for the first time in my life. I had my own room! I had space! How exciting! I am not sure what happened exactly but she didn't make it for more than a year. This meant going and getting her and bringing her back home. So back to half of everything again. Then she moved to Dallas for a stretch, she was gone longer that time and I was just getting used to the idea of her not coming back when they went and got her again. Everything that happened to her in those time periods really is her story to tell but I will talk a little about the Dallas time in another blog (possibly tomorrow) as I need to talk about our evolving relationship as well. But at the time what I didn't really understand is how much buried resentment I had towards her and towards my parents for everything. So every time they bailed her out I got angrier and angrier but instead of expressing it I squashed it down. Anger can only be squashed for so long before it explodes.

I was also disconnecting even then from my parents. Like I said my mother will tell people I was born old and could take care of myself at a very early age. But the truth is I didn't trust them to take care of me so I did it myself. I also had a lot of responsibility for a young kid. The housekeeping was all on me. Cleaning house, doing the laundry, even part of the cooking back when we were eating at home. When I was in middle and high school my mother would bring her mother out for the summer. The times when my sister was home it was split between the two of us to take care of her. She was in her late 80s and had the beginnings of Alzheimer disease. When my sister moved out it was all on me. That's too much responsibility for a 14 year old. I felt for my sister because she was forced to take care of me at the same age. It probably helped me to start understanding the frustrations she must have been feeling at the same time in her life.

But by the time I was finishing 8th grade I was very independent. If you had asked me I wouldn't have been able to articulate it, but I was already feeling like my parents weren't parenting me so much as they were bankrolling me. Food, shelter, clothing, a set of rules that had to be followed, but that was about it. Did they and do they love me? Absolutely. But I was already closing off from everyone, including them and so I wouldn't be giving them very many opportunities to show me. And when they tried I didn't trust it and I rejected it. But they did love me, and they did do a number of things to show it. It was just bouncing off my shell by then.

Too long so enough for today!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

This is normal right?

One of the things that happens when news stories break about kids that were facing abuse in the home is everyone says, "Why didn't they tell? Why didn't someone notice?" I can tell you it's because until and unless it gets so great that you can't help but notice you won't. The kids won't tell. In fact it wasn't until I was older that I really understood that it was an abusive situation. I thought it was normal sibling issues and that she was just a bitch. My friends all fought with their brothers and sisters. We just had lopsided fights because she was older is all. And to this day she doesn't remember most of it and because I never said a word my parents and other siblings didn't know either.

I never said a word at school, to my friends or to my parents about the worst of it. I knew I would just get in more trouble if I told my parents so that avenue was closed. And I didn't want to think about it at school. I had a few hours every day where my sister wasn't the dominating feature in my life and I lived them. I got to choose who I was at school. So everything that happened at home stayed there. I learned how to compartmentalize my life.

People at church knew there were issues with my sister. My dad had been an Elder in the Church and had resigned his position. He felt that if he couldn't control his own house then he had no business sitting in a position of control of the Church. This started a wave of gossip as is typical among the Old Biddies of any church. And then when she started working with the youth minister in counseling and eventually got straightened back out this was talked about as well. So what would happen is some "well meaning" person from the Church would ask me how I was, pseudo-sincerity just dripping from their words. And I would say I was fine and leave. No extra information from me. It was none of their business. And you don't air dirty laundry outside of the home. Except now I have the clothes line out for all of you to see, ah well, it's good to get the stale musty stuff out of the attic right?

But this compartmentalizing that I did led to some interesting choices on my part later in my school years. I say interesting but what I really mean is bat-shit crazy. I will tell you about the things I did and you will read them and wonder what the heck I was thinking. But the beginning of that behavior was here. During the years that it was the worst at home. I didn't want to deal with it so I locked it away in my brain only to pull it out when I was actually with her. The rest of the time anyone would have thought I was living the Norman Rockwell/Leave it to Beaver life. My parents were still married (late 70s early 80s this was a big deal as most people's parents seemed to be getting divorced)I made good grades we were good church going folks. And that was what was presented to the world on a daily basis. And I was really good at it. You presented me with a situation and told me how I needed to act for it and I would give you that person. And honestly there were a lot of good times in there as well. Normal family interactions. That's the real issue with drug or alcohol abuse, it can fade away and come back at different times. So when things were good I just didn't think about the bad things. Tucked them away like they were happening to someone else.

For awhile in my 20s I thought about pursuing a career in Psychology. I read almost anything I could get my hands on while I explored the idea. One of the things that I found really interesting was split personality disorder. Generally when you find someone who has a true split it is the result of horrific abuse. The brain shatters to protect itself. I wondered and I still do to what degree we all do this voluntarily. My compartmentalizing was just that. I could put on and take off different personalities as needed. The difference being I was in control. If the abuse had been more serious, not just the result of chemical alterations in her personality but true sociopath stuff could I have split involuntarily? And how close to the line are we all in a day to day basis? Is the person you are at home the same as the person you are a work? For most people it's probably pretty close, but for others it could be vastly different. Nothing I faced was even close to bad enough for that sort of shatter to happen, but I still found it fascinating looking back that I did the split voluntarily.

The next parts of my life that I am going to talk about are the things I did and how I felt about life in general. It's the really whiny stuff and the examining my own belly button lint stuff so be prepared. But it really is all tied to these early years, I just didn't realize it at the time. This is really a long road from why was she such a bitch in high school to such a mother love now right? Sorry, but sometimes when someone says, "It's a long story," it really is!

Friday, February 26, 2010

I want a new drug...

So here we go into the first level of my layers of crazy. As you can tell from yesterday's post I really had a pretty normal childhood up until this point. Yes we were poor, big deal a lot of people are. Yes my parents both worked and were busy, big deal a lot of people's parents did. Up until this point everything is really hanging together and it's fairly normal. Then the shift started.

Anyone who has lived with a drug abuser can tell you that you don't notice how big the problem is until well into the addiction. I don't know if my oldest brother ever used, it doesn't seem as though he would have, more of a drinker than a druggie would be my guess. I know my middle brother didn't. He's the smart one in the bunch, studious, conscientious, geek and nerd. So my sister's drug use must have come as a shock to my parents and I know they really didn't know how to handle it. I know they thought about sending her to what was basically a kid's home for kids with issues which was run through the church. The name totally escapes me right now. She eventually ended up getting cleaned up with the help of our youth minister. But that is later in the story.

Sibling rivalry is normal. For the most part you get spats and tiffs and fights between siblings all the time. When you add a 7 year age gap you are either going to have less of them because the older one is too far removed to be concerned with the younger or you are going to get more because there is no common ground due to the age difference. We fell into the more side. Like I said she went from being the only girl and the baby to having to share everything including her room. When she was 9 or 10 her appendix burst and she was rushed to emergency surgery. As a get well soon gift my parents bought her a Mrs. Beasley doll. Mrs. Beasley was this little Grandma looking doll with glasses and an apron, you pulled a string and she said things like, "Climb into my lap and let me tell you a story". Mrs. Beasley was my constant companion until I was probably 5 or 6. Yep. I took her doll. Her doll they bought her after having emergency surgery. My parents bought her another doll but I would not be parted from that one.

So you take the normal resentments that might come from our situation add in a healthy dose of too much responsibility, I mean what teenager wants to have to take care of their little sister every day after school when all of their friends are out having fun? And then mix that together with equal parts pot and speed and you get a pretty combustible concoction. And that's what we had.

I'm having a really difficult time explaining exactly what happened over those years. It's hard to put in to words to make it understandable. To show what it was like. There was physical abuse, which is the easiest for people to understand, there was mental abuse which I think was the most damaging and then there was just the exhaustion of never knowing what was coming. If she was taking speed she was manic and that could mean either good times or really bad times. If she was smoking pot she was either giggly and hungry or depressed and paranoid. And if she was out of both? Then she was angry and panicked. All of that I figured out later. While I was living it I had no idea that her moods were chemically induced. I just knew that when I opened the door from coming home from school I never knew what was going to greet me on the other side. And on weekends or during the summer that could shift multiple times in a day. I was constantly watching for the change and trying to predict what would come next.

My sister was a pro at finding the part of you that was the most vulnerable then she would go back to that again and again. I used to sing out loud all of the time. She would tell me I sounded like a dying cow. I was 7 years younger than she was so she went after body image, she would tell me my chest grew in instead of out, by age 11 I had a larger chest than she did, but she still went after body image, because it bothered me though she did change it to fat from flat. She had long blond hair and I had short brown hair. Her eyes are green or blue depending on the day and mine are brown. So it was shit brown eyes and dirt brown hair. All of this sounds so much like normal sibling stuff when I write it down (and I did warn you that part of this would sound whiny) but when it's a constant barrage being lobbed at you it is too much. Nothing I ever did was right. Cleaning house, doing laundry, trying to cook, the way I dressed the way I looked nothing. She would find something and pick and pick and pick until I was in tears. Then I was a crybaby and a wimp.

Now take that and add to it the random rules and punishments. I was allowed to talk on the phone for 5 minutes at a time and for no more than twenty minutes all together. This is in the day and age before cell phones, text messages and IM. And back then you would rush home from school to call your best friend and talk about everything that had happened and then the boy you liked would call and you would sit and not say anything to each other except..."You hang up you" for ages. If the phone rang she would set the timer and if I went over then phone privileges were revoked completely. She told me years later it was because she was dealing by that point and needed the phone free for her contacts. I spent a lot of time grounded from the phone. Trying to wrap up a conversation in 5 minutes without letting the person on the other end know you had a timer set because, "You aren't responsible enough to respect other people's need to use the phone," was tough.

Then there were the groundings and un-groundings. She would forget where I was. Literally. I would go to play at Lily's house down the street and have to be home by 4. Three thirty would roll around and she would have forgotten where I was so when I got back at 4 I was grounded for sneaking out, or for being late. I would try and argue that I had asked permission and she would swear I hadn't and so I was grounded. Then I would get off the grounding for "good behavior". Things like doing her chores or walking to Lotta Burger to get her fries and shake or making her something to eat. But then after she would un-ground me she would forget that she had and ground me again for going out when I was grounded.

Then there was the physical abuse. Keep in mind there was that 7 year age difference so there was a 7 year size difference. The worst of her erratic behaviors happened when I was around 9 or 10 and she was 16 or 17. She would punch me in the arm or in the leg sometimes in the side or smack me in the back of the head out of the blue. Never the face. I never had a mark on me that anyone else could see, but my arms and legs usually had a pretty good amount of bruising. Or she would grab my arm and dig into me with her nails. The physical stuff was much less than the emotional abuse but it was so much more random. There didn't need to be anything to provoke it so it made it much scarier. Much harder to avoid. We would be sitting down watching something on TV and she would raise her arm up and slam her fist down into my leg.

And then there were the times I would provoke her. Crazy right? But I used to think that someday I would be as big as she was and someday she wouldn't be stronger than I was. And I would reach a point where I had had enough. I had been yelled at enough, I had been grounded enough, I was tired and pissed and so I would push at her until she got mad and then I would hit her. Of course this always ended up badly for me as she would kick my ass, but it gave me a measuring stick. I would think, okay, not yet, but soon. I got in a few licks that time so next time maybe I will be ready.

For the most part I tried to hide and stay out of the way. My parents had a huge walk in closet and I set up a space in the back, drug in a blanket a flashlight and some books. I would go hide in the closet and read when she was in the worst of a tear. It took her probably 6 months to find my hidey hole. It was a bad day. Sometimes when she was speeding she would go on these cleaning binges in our room. Put everything away, rearrange the furniture, sometimes she painted things and put them on the walls. Just bursts of energy to direct someplace. Well the problem with cleaning and putting things away is forgetting where you put things. Often I would try to pay attention while she was doing it so when she was tearing everything up looking for whatever she lost I could find it and stop her from messing everything up. The only problem with this tactic is that she would sometimes thank me and sometimes accuse me of hiding things. So on this particular day she had somehow found my space in the closet and decided that the only reason I would have a hiding space is if I was hiding things from her. Of course I was, but the thing I was hiding was me.

So anyway, I was back in my place reading a book and lost in the story. She burst into the front of the closet and started yelling at me to come out. Now I am not coming out when she was yelling like that so I said no. She stomped back to the back and grabbed me by the ankle and drug me out. She started yelling at me about stealing her stuff and she knew I was and how I was never to use that space again. She drug out the blanket and threw it at me followed by the flashlight and the books. Bam, bam, thing after another being thrown at me. And then I was grounded for stealing and lying to her and she told my parents that there must be something wrong with me for hiding in the closet like that. So that night I had to stand in front of my mother while she peppered me with questions about why I was hiding in the closet like that while my sister sat and stared at me. I was shocked. I had been drug out, had things thrown at me, yelled at and now I was getting the third degree. Looking back I wish I would have opened my mouth and told my mother exactly why, but remember I had already learned the lesson that complaining to my parents made the punishment worse. So I just said I just did it to have someplace to read. I was banished from the hidey hole.

One of the scariest moments of my childhood was because of my sister, but not from my sister. There was this guy she was either dating him or dealing drugs for him, I am not sure which. When I asked her about it years later she didn't remember any of it so I have no idea who he was to her. day he showed up at the house and they started arguing. She yelled at him to go away and he did. But then he came back. She made me open the door and tell him to go away. I opened the door to tell him she didn't want to talk to him and he was pacing on the front porch, as he turned around towards me I could see he had something small and dark in his hand. I don't know for sure if it was a gun or a billy club, but it wasn't good. I slammed the door and locked it before he could make it back across the porch. He started pounding on the door screaming for her to come out before he broke it down. I sat with my back against the door scared to death and frozen in place. For some reason I thought he might be able to see me through the peep hole if I moved. I finally yelled for her to call the police. She wasn't going to do that, there were drugs in the house and she was probably high right then, but the threat of the police was enough for him to go away. She made me swear not to tell mom and dad or he would come back. I never said a word, but he visited me in nightmares for years after that.

Toward the end of her drug use I started spending more time with my brother. He would take me to the movies or the book store. Just out of the house. The last time my sister was ever physically abusive towards me he was there. Looking back it must have been at the very end of her using days. I think she must have been mostly clean by then. So either it was one of the last times she got high or it was just a bad day with no drugs involved. I know it had to be toward the end of her using because most of my memories of the really bad times happened in the house on Burton but this was in the trailer so I know it was later and she would have been getting clean by then but since she doesn't remember the incident I am going to go with she was high.

Anyway, I was unloading the dishwasher and my brother, sister and I were all together in the kitchen. I am not sure what was said, or what provoked it anymore but she grabbed a knife out of the silverware holder and stabbed me. My brother was out of his chair in a shot and grabbed her hand and yanked her off her feet. He then told her she was never to ever touch me again. And she didn't. There are two things about this story that will come back up later. One is that you will see a close repeat of this story with other players later, it's actually odd how similar it is. And the second is when I was in my late teens and talking to my sister about this incident she told me she didn't remember it, after I showed her the scar on my clavicle she said, "Oh I didn't STAB you, I cut you a little." So she didn't stab me, she just cut me a little. The scar has faded away now but for years I would look at in the mirror to remind myself that all of that really happened because it seemed like I was the only one in my family that remembered it.

The other part of that experience didn't hit me until I started writing this blog. My brother had to have started figuring out something was wrong. He and my sister are close in age but growing up couldn't stand each other. They were as different as two people could be. When her drug use was just warming up he was finishing high school and starting his nursing program along with working full time. Towards the end he was just working. I think as he got less busy he was around home enough to see that something was wrong. Either he was worried about her behavior or he was noticing mine. I am not really sure, but he probably saved me a lot of damage by pulling me out of the house more and more often. And by stopping her that time in the kitchen he prevented any more physical abuse ever again. It amazes me that I never realized that until now. Shows that sometimes even when you think you have it all figured out you learn something new about yourself.

I think that was more than enough for one day. Still with me? Tomorrow we move on to the repercussions of those years.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Now we're really starting....

My mom was one of the original working mothers. She had a variety of jobs all through her life and kids or no kids she was still working outside the home. When I was very little she did some time running an in-home childcare service and working for my father as a bookkeeper. My dad managed a gas station so my mom would pack me up and go spend time there doing the books while he took care of customers. I spent good chunks of my day there. I napped in the store room, I had books and toys to keep me busy as well. As I got a little older I started helping out around the station as well. I learned how to wash windshields and clean bathrooms and stick the tanks. Men's bathrooms at gas stations must be a circle of hell.

Sticking the tanks was my favorite job. You would take a measuring stick (8 feet long or so) and put it straight down into the holding tank for the gas and then pull it out to see how much gas was left by where the gas mark came up to on the stick. Can you even imagine someone doing that today? Pulling up to a gas station and seeing a 6 year old out there working, let alone working with gasoline? But it was a different time and people didn't think of kids as being as fragile as we tend to today. My parents had both worked with farm equipment at that age and that is much more dangerous than anything I was doing...well maybe except for cleaning those bathrooms...seriously guys, pee in the toilet not on the floor!

I wonder sometimes what my life would have turned out like if that had stayed the same. Mom working part time, dad working, me tagging along at jobs. My older brothers and sister were in school or doing homework or living their lives and I don't really remember interacting with them much when I was really little, which isn't unusual, I was MUCH younger than they were and they wouldn't have wanted me tagging along. I can remember waiting up for my oldest brother to get home from the stock car races one night, he was so mad at me that I never did it again(if mom had found out how late I was up and how late he was coming in we both would have been in trouble). I remember my sister chasing down some bullies that had stolen my brother's boots and getting them back. I remember playing in the golf course when we shouldn't have been and a few other things but mostly it was me on my own at the gas station or me working with my parents.

One of the things that happens in bigger families where the older kids are much older than the younger is that they start filling in to take care of the kids. I had croup when I was a baby, very sick, high fevers, deep cough, hospital visits, the whole deal. Though I don't remember it my oldest brother was the one that would end up taking care of me in the middle of the night. He would be woken by the coughing starting and he would go start the shower and sit with me in the steam until my parents woke up. When I started pre-first (kind of like kindergarten but more school less play) he was on child pick up duty for half of the week due to my mom's work schedule. So he would get off of work come pick me up and we would go for donuts. I liked it best when he picked me up. :-) He also was the one that took me to the hospital with mom when I chopped the top of my finger off, but that is another side story for another day.

The piece that changed the story from The Walton's, poor family helping each other out to My Story is my sister's story. I don't know when it started, I don't know why it started and I wasn't even aware of what was going on during the worst of it, but my sister started doing drugs. By this point I was 7 and in second grade, my mother was working full time, my oldest brother had married and moved out, my middle brother was a senior in high school and getting ready for early graduation and then on to (was it TVI's program?) nursing school. Because everyone was busy my sister became my primary caretaker.

I don't believe at this point that my parents knew my sister was more than just a rebellious teen. She had always been headstrong. My mom used to tell a story about when she was very little and she was climbing the kitchen cabinets. She would be punished and then go right back to it. Finally my mom spanked her and put her down for a nap. She slept for an hour, got up and went right back to the cabinets. So being headstrong and a little rebellious was her nature. We also had a good dose of sibling rivalry built in from the start. My sister was the only girl in my family (my other two older sisters had died shortly after birth) and she was the only girl of that generation on both sides of the family. So only daughter and only granddaughter for 7 years before I was born. Then along came another. Not only did she lose being the baby of the family but she lost being the only girl and she had to share her room to boot. I was not a popular addition in her mind. The family had a cat when I was born and as cats can sometimes do Suzy started peeing on things to show she wasn't happy with the new addition to the family. My mother got rid of the cat which made my sister quite unhappy, after all they had the cat first!

So this is where the first of the disclaimers starts. I know things now that I didn't know then. I have talked with my sister about her drug use and about some of the things that happened while she was using. Not surprisingly I have a better memory of things that happened than she does. She was impaired. Stoned or speeding out neither of which is great for the memory. She just doesn't remember what happened for the most part. But she did give me some answers for some of the bizarre rules she would make and I will include those reasons in here, but know that at the time I didn't have a clue as to why she was doing what she was doing. It wasn't until she was getting clean that I even knew she had been using and it wasn't until years later when we talked about some of this stuff that I found out why she did what she did.

My parent's philosophy was who ever was watching you got to make the rules. Which is fair, to a point. If I had broken rules (not being where I was supposed to be, talking back, being a brat) and my sister hadn't had any power to stop me then I would have kept doing it. So the first time I was punished for something I felt was unfair and I took it to my parents they told me no dice I was punished and then when my sister found out I had complained to my parents she tacked another week onto the grounding. Again, I don't think my parents knew at this point that my sister was using and I think by the time they realized it they didn't know what to do at all. But the ground work for me had already been laid. Going to my parents with a complaint was not only not going to change anything it was going to make it worse.

I don't really have a nice linear process for the next few years. They all blend together for me. I know there was a building up on her use. I know that her behavior became more and more erratic. And I know the effect on me was cumulative and I wouldn't understand just exactly how deeply it had all affected me until well into my 20s. But the one thing that is still the hardest for me to fully grasp is that we are only talking about a few years here. The peak of the problems were in my 4th and 5th grade years in school. There were bits and pieces later, but really it was from 7-11 for me that most everything happened with the bulk being at 9-10. Such a small pocket of time for such a shift in personality to happen. And honestly I think that is why I could shift back later. But I am getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow I will cover those years. It will be random and disjointed I am afraid, but that is how those memories are now. They all blend in and around themselves. I will do my best to separate them out and put them in the right order, but I know there is some mixing in there of time lines. So let's end this today and tackle the next piece tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In the beginning...and then at the end.

So it's harder to do this than I thought. How do I start? Do I describe who I was and then who I am? Do I just start with early memories and walk through my life picking a choosing a few stories to highlight what was going on? Do I start with the disclaimers or end with them? Or possibly sprinkle them through? So today we start with framework. I think that's the way I do things best, so that's what I will go with.

As I think about the story I want to tell there are a few things that stick out to me. First off, a lot of it will sound whiny. There is no way around that, because part of it is whiny. And the other part is that in life there are often times where there are no good guys and no bad guys but there is a sliding scale. Sometimes the good guys aren't so good and sometimes the bad guys are okay and most of the time they are just guys, not good or bad at all. And the last part is I want everyone to know as you read all of this, everyone turned out okay in the end.

So here we go, general over view time. People who are friends with me now would describe me as a nice person I think. I think that might be one of the first things people would say. She's nice, smiles a lot, loud laugh. You might get a few, good moms and smart lady thrown in there as well. I think that is who I am now. I also could be wrong and it could be that I work hard at being nice and being a good mom so I hope people think that about me. If you were to go back in time and ask my friends (and these are friends mind you) about my main personality quality in the 80s you would have gotten a lot more she's a bitch than she's nice. You might have gotten she can be your best friend or your worst enemy, your choice. And even a few, mean drunk.

So how did I get from bitchy (and proud of it) to nice (and works at it) in a few short years and keep it that way for decades? And to back it up farther how did I go from quiet well behaved little girl to raging bitch on wheels in one decade? That's my story. The main story of me. Everyone has one. The how did you become who you are today? I always love hearing about people that I met as an adult and how they were in high school or college. Those growing and changing years. And it's always so fun to get a piece that is completely out of character. Sometimes you know that someone was the cheer leader or the jock, but what if the stunningly beautiful confident woman was the odd looking girl who nobody talked to? What about the heavy bald guy with the great sense of humor, would it shock you to hear he was the gorgeous quarterback of the football team and a HUGE jerk? What is the story? And what if the story of who they were, was just that, a story? Something they made up and became? What then?

I am the youngest in my family and I was an accident (you've read that story in an earlier blog). My oldest brother is 14 years older than I am and got married when he was 19 so his wife is as much a part of my memory growing up as if she was blood. But because they were married and living on their own our relationship is closer to Aunt/Uncle/Niece than siblings I would say. My middle brother and sister were home with me but 9 and 7 years older respectively. My parents also had two other daughters and a son who had died before I was born. So though they are my siblings and part of our family history, they weren't part of my life in any way other than other people's memories. We were broke. Dad worked at least 2 jobs for most of my life at home. Mom worked full time. Middle brother worked full time. As soon as I hit 15 I worked. It's just what you did. I tell you that because it becomes important in parts of the story later.

My mother tells a story about the day I was born. She held me in the hospital, looked me in the eye and told me, "We changed our lives for children before. We aren't doing that this time. You will change your schedule to fit ours." and she went about making it happen. I was on 3 meals a day and sleeping through the night at just a few months old. She also likes to tell the story of how I potty trained myself at 18 months old. She was babysitting neighborhood kids at the time and there was a little girl she was watching who was at the potty training age. Well, we had a potty chair and I knew it was mine, my sister and brothers obviously used the regular toilet and so that chair was my chair. I was not having it that this other child was going to use my chair. Kids in bigger families will understand that having something that is yours and you don't have to share is a big deal. thwart this other child I would go sit on the potty chair for HOURS until something happened. Eventually I learned when I needed to use it and when I didn't. Trained myself so I could use the chair. Then quickly decided that the chair was for babies and would climb and hover over the big kid toilet. My mother will also tell you that I was born old. I was always determined and thoughtful and planned things out. She will let you know that they didn't worry about me because they knew I would be fine.

I will let you know that in my version of the story, I wasn't born old I just learned very quickly that I needed to make sure I was taking care of myself and making my decisions because no one else was going to. I was thoughtful and planned things out because that was the way to stay safe. And one more thing, that description of who I am today? If you were to ask my family back in New Mexico I would gather most of them would say bitch still to this day. And that's where we will leave it for today.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whose blog is it anyway?

I have been tooling around with a massive blog idea in my head for a few weeks. Basically a brief history of me. What triggered this is Facebook. I have friends on Facebook who only know the me I am today and friends who knew me when I was a kid or a teenager. Those two people are pretty different people. I have been thinking it's time to tell the stories of who I was, what changed and who I've become.

But here is where I am challenged right now. My stories are just that, mine. My point of view, my life, my changes, my challenges. But the people in them are real people who have their own points of view and their own lives. And they do intersect now. When I first started blogging (on myspace originally) I didn't really worry much about who was reading what I wrote. My niece and my nephew were on, but no one else in my family. When I switched to Facebook it added Brent to the mix, but he knows my stories and my point of view already. But now more and more family is in the mix. My sisters are both on, my son, my niece, my nephew...the list grows. And since I post a link to my blog on my Facebook page it's there for everyone to see.

Oddly enough I have never really worried much about Christopher reading my blogs. I know he enjoys them because he has told me as much. I know if he has questions about them he brings them to me. And I know that they give him a look at who his mother is as a person separate from just being his mother. I am hoping that it's a good thing for him. But who knows, maybe in a few years he will be telling his therapist that he ended up knowing things about his mother that no kid should ever know!

But here I sit now with the story of me bumping around in my head and I am torn between posting it, no holds barred, this is my point of view or editing and filtering and worrying about whose feelings might get hurt and will it cause issues in the family by digging up past grievances and all of that murk and mess. It's a challenge. I am pretty much an open book at this point in my life. Ask me a question and I will give you an answer. I don't do guilt, I do have regrets but I am who I am because of all of the things that happened in the past to bring me here. But does that give me the right to tell my story where it includes other people in a not so flattering light? They have also changed and are not those people anymore, but they were. Is it okay to tell the story anyway, knowing that it might be painful for them to read?

In this new land of social networking, how much do you share? And do you worry about it? Do you mix your lists? Friends and co-workers and acquaintances and family? Do you think about it when you post a status update? Do you automatically filter what links you post? What do you say knowing that your co-worker, child, spouse, neighbor will see it? If you are a parent do you have your kids on your friend list? Kids do you have your parents? Do you worry about what you post about your work worried it will be shared with people you didn't intend to see it? Do you check with friends before posting things that pertain to them?

In past blogs I have skirted the issue by not naming people. Anyone who knows the story already knows who I am talking about but others reading it don't have a name to match up so they know there was a person who did a thing, but not who it was. I can't really do that while writing about growing up. Not really a way to mask family right? There was this girl who lived with us...doesn't really ring true. So what do you do? Filters or no? Edited or raw?

For anyone who knows me well you know I am going to write it anyway. It's my story. It might not match up with their story, but that's okay. It's mine. I will post disclaimers as necessary. Clarifications as needed. But it's going to be the story of me, the way I saw it, the way I remember it, the way it shaped me into who I am now. And it will most likely be a multi-day blog like I have done in the past. So buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ghost Stories

I was going to write this back in October but never got around to it so you get Ghosts in February instead!

I have a lot of very bright friends who think I am nuts for believing in ghosts. But I do. Completely and totally and without a doubt I believe there are things out there that we don't understand and that have a presence without having a body. Now are they spirits, souls, random bits of energy? I have no idea what they are, but I do know they are something.

Growing up in a religious household a lot of people think that meant no ghosts. But that is actually the opposite. Nobody believes in spirits more than the religious. What do you think Satan is if not the ultimate boogie man? The Catholics came up with exorcism for goodness sake (pun not intended!). My mother used to say the Bible said there were unseen hosts walking among us and she believed it as well.

There was a missionary that would visit our church every few years, Brother Paul (I believe his last name was Bjalko but can't remember for sure). Now Brother Paul was the real deal, a former Satanist who had been a member of Aleister Crowley's Church and had even met the man when Brother Paul was very young and Mr. Crowley was very old. He told stories about Ouja boards, seances, demon possessions, great stuff to a young impressionable mind. He was the best story teller and of course you knew it was all going to turn out okay because he was standing there telling you the story. But it was still very scary, very cool stuff. I am not sure if the church really intend that to be the reaction, but for me it was.

Before I was born my family hosted a ghost for awhile who liked to watch TV. Everyone thought my sister had an invisible friend. She would mention a man who looked in her window (second story house so no one was worried about a peeping Tom) and liked the watch TV with her. I guess this went on for awhile until one day my mother walked by the room my sister was watching TV in and saw her invisible friend! When she went in to the room, he was gone. When my mom first told me this story I asked if she was scared, she said she wasn't, he didn't seem to mean anyone any harm, he just liked watching TV.

My first ghost experience happened when I was very young. I want to say I had to have been 8 or 9. We were over visiting my Aunt Lucille and Grandma Mary. They had other friends in town visiting that I didn't know as well so it was a house full of people. I had to use the restroom and was in Grandma Mary's bathroom peeing when all of a sudden I noticed the little boy in the bathtub taking a bath! He said, "Well, hello." very politely. I apologized and was horribly embarrassed that I had not only walked in on his bath but had gone pee in front of someone! I finished as quickly as I could and as I was washing my hands and apologizing again he said it was fine and asked if I wanted to stay and talk. I told him no thank you and left quickly! So a little later in the party I remembered my manners and went to the only adult female I didn't really know and apologized to her for walking in on her little boy in the bath. She had no idea what I was talking about. After talking to everyone there it became apparent that there was no little boy. But I know what I saw and who I talked to and I also know my Grandma Mary wasn't that surprised by the news of what I had seen.

As a teenager we had two resident ghosts in the house. Suzie, short for Little Suzie Homemaker and the Hall Walker. Suzie came with the trailer. She was there from the start. Hung out in the kitchen. When the family would gather for dinner or to talk or play a game the fan above the stove would turn on. Of course the first thought was that it was a short and my dad tried to fix it. But there was nothing wrong with the wiring. And the only time the fan would turn on was if the family was together. She just wanted to let us all know she was there. Suzie also baked bread. I would "forget" to eat when I was in high school. Existing on caffeine and nicotine. Well, if I reached too many days I would come home and the smell of freshly baking bread would fill the kitchen. No bread had been baked, just Suzie reminding me to eat. Crazy right? But I wasn't the only one to notice this. Everyone in the family experienced it as well as friends that would spend the night. Suzie was the most we could figure a young housewife and just wanted to take care of the family.

The Hall Walker is another story. I think we picked him up when we moved to the trailer park on University. I don't remember him when we lived in the Valley. I say him, but we never saw anything. You would just hear someone pacing the hallway in the middle of the night. Up and down the hallway. Measured even step. Nothing moved, nothing really scary, but I have to say you got the feeling that maybe you should stay in your room when he was walking. I would have to warn people when they would spend the night so they didn't freak out when they heard the walking. I forgot one time and woke to being hit in the face with a pillow from a girlfriend who had thought my brother was messing with us by walking up and down the hallway. When she opened the door (repeatedly) to catch him, no one was there. She spent the night freaking out! Oops...

There have been a few others through the years. Brent and I had one that was really freaky, but very informative. We were out shopping for furniture and this woman walked up to us and said, "Don't buy anything here." and walked away. As she was walking away a salesperson walked up to us, Brent made a joke about "Unhappy customers" to ease the tension and the salesperson looked at us like we were nuts, then we looked for the woman and she was gone and the sales person hadn't seen her at all. No way she could have made it out of the store or even out of our line of site, she just wasn't there. We left the store. Figured if a ghost goes out of their way to tell you not to shop someplace you should listen.

So yeah, like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do believe in spooks. How about you?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Family Bed

I have mentioned that I have a lot of friends having babies right now. One of the millions of decisions you have to make is about the family bed. Will you be one of those families where baby is in the bed with you? Or will your little bundle of joy have their own bed? And if you do decide to have baby with you, for how long? And then once they do move to their own bed will they still be allowed to stay with you at times? There are a lot of decisions to make around the sleeping arrangements.

This morning (I say morning because it was sometime after midnight, probably around 2 or 3) I was lying in my bed thinking about the beds we have had in the past. When Brent and I first married we had a hodgepodge of furniture. Basically whatever Ann and I could fit in the little U-Haul we drove to Florida. Two kitchen chairs (the table wouldn’t fit), a big butcher block chair, a TV, two dressers and two twin mattresses that fit together to make a king sized bed. That was all. So for our first apartment we set up the bed and the chair in the bedroom and had basically nothing in the living room. This meant that anyone who came over to the house had to hang out in our bedroom. It wasn’t unusual for me to get home from work and find 3 or 4 people sprawled on my bed watching TV. The bedroom was our living room. Because Brent was married he was allowed to live off base as soon as basic training was finished, the other guys in his school had to wait, I can’t remember if it was a certain rank or a certain amount of time in that had to happen before they could request to move off base, but there was some requirement that had to be met. So this meant our house became the place to come just to get off base for awhile. Then when my work friends meshed with Brent’s work friends we alternated between our apartment and Amie’s, Marla’s, Tamara’s and Andy’s place. The division seemed to go, party go to the single’s apartment, hang out and watch TV come to ours. It was a good split for me and kept our place MUCH cleaner than theirs!

So that was our first “family bed” our Navy family. Hanging out watching TV, eating dinner, hiding from the base. But still a family bed. And something that I would never ever imagine doing today. Funny the difference in mindset from 18 to 41. Welcome to my house, come up to the bedroom and make yourself comfortable! But it really was just an extension of being a teenager in high school. Where did you hang out when your friends came over? In your room. So this wasn’t a huge shift for us. It wasn’t until we finally had enough money to buy a couch that we moved people out into the living room!

The next shift happened when Christopher was born. We had traded from a plain frame and those two twins to an actual queen sized bed by that point in time. Now we had to decide, kid in the bed or not? We decided not. He had a crib in his own room and that’s where he spent 90% of his time. We would bring him in with us in the morning to lay around, but not for sleeping. He always had his own space. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but one I don’t regret. Especially when I watched friends go through the tough transition with an older child to get them into their own bed in their own room. But that time in the mornings where he would come into bed with us lasted until he was probably three or four. He would come into our bed on Saturday and Sunday morning and Brent would try to sleep and he and I would play. We would tell each other stories using the blankets and a small handful of his toys as props. I can’t remember all of them, but we told the same ones over and over just adding bits and pieces to them. He didn’t get up and watch Saturday morning cartoons, he got up and made his own.

As Christopher got older his bed became the family bed. He would settle in for the night while we sat in the rocking chair and read to him. I loved reading out loud to him and kept it up for longer than most parents probably do, and he was a good sport and let me for longer than most kids would have.

Now years later Christopher is well ensconced in his own room down the hall reading to himself before bed and Brent and I are in our own bed. This time though I get a third, he gets a third and George gets a third. Amazing that a 9 pound cat can take up so much room! I’m thinking about getting a dog next fall when Christopher leaves for college…we might need to step back up to a king sized bed if I do.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hmm....I got nothing...

Yep, complete and total writer's block tonight.

Not sure what to fill the space with. I still have the list of ideas from earlier however I have no other ideas to fill in those topics with. So instead I think I will just talk about my day today. So be prepared for even more random than usual. :-)

This morning I slept in. For me that means 7 AM. I know...hold me back...I am a wild woman! I actually really like weekend mornings because I don't have to rush out of bed. During the week the heater clicks on and wakes me up at 5:15, the alarm goes off at 5:30 and we are off and running. So sleeping in a little and then just lazing in bed watching the morning news is a nice treat.

I had a client at 10 AM and Christopher was sick yesterday so we decided to stick around home this morning. Normally on a Saturday we get up and run to Target for weekly shopping. I am not a fan of crowds of shoppers so Target at 8 AM on a Saturday is about perfect for me. But today we ate breakfast at home, Brent cleaned the kitchen and I got ready for my client. So a nice easy pace to the morning.

My 10 AM client got here, we had a really good session, I am pleased with the progress we are making and more importantly so is she. I am really lucky that most of my clients are friends as well so I get to spend an hour doing work I enjoy and also enjoying the company of a friend. It's a double treat.

Work makes me hungry so as soon as my client left the boys and I headed out to grab some lunch and run a few errands. Saturdays are errand days. I already mentioned Target but there is usually an odd collection of others in there as well. Today was picking up a wall mount for the TV in the bedroom and a PS3 Christopher won off of a bet with his dad. The wall mount was easy to find, the PS3 not so much. We will have to keep looking or order online. A quick set of trips to the Vitamin Shoppe, Men's Warehouse and Starbucks and we were back home.

Sounds fairly dull doesn't it? But this is the stuff of day to day life. And I wouldn't want to change it for anything. I like my routines. I like running around on Saturdays with the boys. I like that even though every week is similar it's never the same. I like that we have family jokes that only take one or two words for us to laugh at and knowing that they started on a typical normal day like today. And right now I am soaking it all up knowing that we are coming to the end of this chapter of our lives. Christopher will be leaving next year for college and things will change and shift. New routines will be started for all of us, change is coming. But I also know that he will remember these dull days as well...and I know that someday he will have these sorts of routines with his family. And I hope that he enjoys them as much as I do.

Hmm...maybe I had something after all....

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm sorry....

I watched the Tiger Woods apology today. I didn't really plan to but I sort of half jokingly checked CNN to see if it would make their crawl...not only did it make the crawl, they carried it live! So I ended up watching. I was struck by a few things during his statement and they have been bouncing around in my brain all day so now you get them.

I am pretty firmly in the camp that Tiger Woods didn't owe me an apology. I'm not married to him, I don't sponsor him, I wasn't one of his mistresses and I am not his kid. So to me, nothing is due. And I sort of wanted him to say that today. To come out say, "Kiss my ass" and drop the mic. But there was a part of me that understood a little bit about where people felt they deserved more. There was one caller yesterday on the morning show I listen to who said his issue was with the Tiger Woods Foundation and the kids Tiger has been mentoring through that organization. He said that Tiger told them all that the game of golf was honorable and that they needed to play the game with honor and to live their lives that way as well. So now those kids are hearing the news and are kind of left feeling suckered. So okay, those kids and their parents deserve an apology as well. But the rest of us? Still no.

But I watched the news conference anyway. And I was fascinated by it. It hit a lot of the standard notes of a mea culpa conference, but with some really interesting differences. First off his wife was not standing next to him at the podium. I was glad to see it. That is one of the things that always blows my mind in these sorts of things. The wronged spouse standing up there by their man. Usually stoically, sometimes offering reassuring pats or glances. I always wonder why they do it. They have to feel humiliated, betrayed, angry, sad, who knows what all is going through their heads and then to stand up there like nothing is wrong? No way. So I was glad to see that Elin wasn't there. But his mother was. The camera kept cutting to her in the audience. Sitting stone faced. Looking every inch the mom who has walked her boy down the street to apologize to the neighbor for breaking their window. Stone faced, serious, not giving an inch. Until he was done speaking and then she hugged him for a good long time and you could see him break down and cry in his mother's arms. Then her face softened she hugged him and patted him on the back and then pushed him away to face the rest of the people there. Go Mom.

There was the "going back to my religion" piece. But instead of the typical Judaeo-Christian beliefs we normally get, "I've prayed and Jesus forgives" we got Buddhist teachings. He spoke about how he had fallen away from his beliefs and began to live for things instead of people and how this really was the start of his problems. He talked about how he needed to get back to those practices. Again, Go Mom.

We got the "I've been to rehab" part. This is necessary now it seems. You screw up you go to rehab. I always look at it skeptically. Like it's just something to check off the PR box. Okay, they've done rehab so now they are better. It's always the drugs or the alcohol or the sex addiction that is at fault. But with Tiger we got something else today. He stood there and claimed responsibility for it all. He was the one that screwed up and he explained why. He felt that the rules didn't apply to him, that he had worked hard and deserved to do what he wanted. Wow. I have said this about professional athletes for years. That we as a society lead them to believe that. We treat them like they are different and then wonder why they don't feel the need to play by our rules. But to hear him acknowledge that? To own it? I was impressed.

And then came the part I really had wanted to hear. He took the media and through them all of us to task. He said, basically, Look, I screwed up. Me. My fault, my mistake, my errors. Now leave my family alone. Stop writing things about Elin, stop following my children. I understand you are curious but it's not any of your business if Elin and I stay married, that is just between us. It's not any of your (my, our) business. I like that. Because it's not. He is a golfer, let him golf. He made huge mistakes in his marriage, let him and his wife work on that however they choose to. And leave the kids alone. This is going to be hard enough on them. I have mentioned before how I worked for the sons of a prominent Albuquerque business man who died while at his mistress' house. Now these guys (and their younger brother and sister) knew that most of the people they met on a daily basis knew how their dad had died and what he had been doing at the time. There were people who would even make jokes about it to them. Unbelievable right? But people did. Tiger's kids just entered that hell. Now instead of just hearing about how well their dad plays golf they will get their share of grief over his philandering. Leave them alone, it's gong to be hard enough for them.

Up until this point I have not been a huge fan of Tiger Woods. I don't play golf, I don't watch golf, I find golf to be boring, frankly. I understood he was huge ratings for the game and could appreciate the money he made through sponsorships, but he didn't interest me. When all of this started to blow up all over the media and you couldn't avoid hearing the count go up every day, it was interesting. But interesting to me in the sheer number. The number of people that had to have known and not said anything, this was going on for years, how in the world did he get away with it for so long? And then once one woman came forward the rest fell all over themselves to get their cut. But again, not that interested. It was nothing to do with me, don't care. But today, today Tiger Woods showed me that he might be someone to watch. Someone with a story to him. Now we will just see if he decides to come back into the public eye and share any more of that story.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spoiler alert!

Spoiler alert! I don't like spoilers. There now you don't have to read any of this blog at all. Don't you feel better? Didn't I save you a ton of time? Aren't you ever so grateful? No? Okay, then keep on reading.

I like reality T.V. I know, I know, it's bad for my brain, it's the downfall of Western Civilization, it's one step on the path to our doom...what ever...I like it. I watch an odd ball collection of them. The main stays, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser. And then an odd collection of others, Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs, Salon Takeover, Dancing with the Stars, My Life of the D List. I am sure there are others that I am not thinking of right now.

This season I am even watching The Bachelor. Now, this is not one I normally watch. The concept of it bugs me. One person gets to date a lot of people who only get to date this one person and WATCH as they date all of the others. thanks. But this year it got me. I wanted to see how they handled one of the potential pool dating someone else as well. Would they see the irony in telling her that she could only date the bachelor while he dated 24 other women or would they shame her and send her on her way? I figured I would sit in for an episode and see how it turned out, but along the way I found out that a friend of Megan's was on the show this season, so I wanted to see how she did. Turns out she has done very well and is one of the final two, so I was kind of in it until the end.

Now, living on the West Coast it's a real trick to being able to see a finale show without knowing how it ends. Prime time doesn't even start until 8. By dinnertime my friends on the East Coast have seen the finale and know how it ends. What this means is all internet connections have to be off. No Facebook status checks, no Twitter feeds, not even MSN can be on or else I will know how the show ends before it even starts for me. I call this inadvertent spoilers. Frustrating for sure, but nothing malicious behind them, it's just people want to talk about what they have just seen. I figure it's pretty much up to me to not look at anything that can give it away since people tend to forget those of us out west who haven't seen the ending yet.

But the Spoilers that drive me crazy, that make me angry are the ones who are posting just to show that they know something you don't and can ruin your viewing pleasure because of it. There was one year that the list of order of finish for Survivor was leaked. I turned on the radio one morning to a local show and they were reading a list of the current Survivors on the show. I thought, well this is interesting, they are going to talk about the show...nope, they were reading the order in which everyone got voted off. Worst season ever for me. There was no drama, not investment, no pleasure. I knew who was going that night. I knew who was going the next week. I knew who the final two were. Boring. And why did they read off the list? Because they could. Because it would show they were in the know. That they were smarter than everyone else. Gee...thanks...

I used to subscribe to Entertainment Weekly. I was one of their original subscribers. Over the past few years they have gotten more and more into publishing spoilers in articles. They even hired a writer whose entire job was to publish spoilers of T.V. shows and movies. I had gotten fairly deft at avoiding them in the magazine but the final straw for me came when they published a spoiler on the cover of the fall T.V. preview two years ago. Why? What was the point? To show how cool they are? How in the know? Again...gee...thanks...

And people will post spoilers any place and every place. The Bachelor I was mentioning earlier? I have known since the second episode who one of the final two was going to be. Read it in a comments section on a blog about the first episode. Someone just posted it. So every episode though I hoped that person was wrong and there would be at least a little suspense, I knew who at least one of the women getting a rose was. I know who is going home this Sunday on The Amazing Race. Same thing, someone just blurted it out on a comments section for something unrelated. When they were called on it by another poster their reply was.."It was already out there, it's your fault you didn't already know." Seriously? Gee...thanks...

And didn't there used to be an art to reviewing movies? Where the reviewer gave you an opinion about the movie without telling you all of the important plot points? What would The Sixth Sense and The Crying Game been like if every reviewer gave away the twists? Now instead of review it seems like most of the time we get a recap. I don't want a recap, I want to watch the movie and be interested in the story, not knowing exactly how it's going to turn out. If I am going to pay that much for a ticket I would really like to be transported by the story, not sitting there knowing not to get too attached to the main character's best friend because he dies in a freak accident that you would have never seen coming...that is unless you read the movie review...gee...thanks...

When Stephen King wrote and released The Green Mile he did it as a serialized collection. You had to wait for each new section. When he released the first section he said he did it that way to prevent people from spoiling the ending for themselves. Seems it drives him crazy when people turn to the last page of a book before they get there. Just to check the ending. So this way he could control that and keep people from seeing how it ended before he wanted them to. Pretty ingenious. I just wish there was a way I could do that with everyone. Stop turning to the last page and reading it out loud to me. I don't want to know. I want to be surprised. I want to experience the ending, not anticipate the ending. Is that really too much to ask?

Here's another spoiler alert for you...I am going to touch on this again in a blog sometime down the road about the internet and social skills. Now you can wait for it. Gee...thanks... ;-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Or maybe not...

Spoiler alert has been moved to tomorrow. I spent time re-organizing iTunes today. Is there a bigger time suck around than getting into your iTunes library and trying to organize play-lists? Possibly YouTube...but I am not sure which is worse.

So was spent delving into music and trying to get everything reworked into a few different play-lists. Today was the Kid Tested Client Approved List. Songs that are appropriate for work but not your standard massage music. Eva Cassidy, Marc Cohn, Melissa Etheridge, Indigo Girls mellow songs but not the standard chimes and rain noises. Though I do have that as well, if that's what relaxes the client then that's what I will play.

I still need a lot of work; my old iPod Nano is dying and I did direct loading onto it instead of setting up separate play-lists last time, big mistake. I have over 300 CDs plus all of the songs we have downloaded over the last few years. It's a lot of music. Mine, Brent's, Christopher's and blended. So anyway...I am taking the music I will use for work and putting it back on the Nano, taking music I want to take with me to the gym and putting it on Brent's old iPod and setting up a variety of play-lists to make sure I don't have this problem again!

So it got me thinking, what are your play-lists?
Here are mine:
Move that Ass (work out music, house cleaning music, any thing that gets me moving)
All Pleasure No Guilt (I don't do guilt, remember?)
Life is Hard (rock, thank you very much)
Place in the Country (Country music)
That's Just Classic (Classical)
Jazz Hands Everyone (Jazz)
Rainy Days and Mondays (music for when you are down, and okay about it)
Waterfalls and Rainbows (traditional massage music)
Kid Tested Client Approved (music to relax by)

I will blog more about music and memory and emotion later this month. Today was just the sorting later will be the sorting out. :-)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Short Blog

Today is a filler blog. A short blog. A mini blog. A tired brain blog.

Brent had to fly down to Chandler on business so it meant having him at the airport by 5:30 AM. He then flew to Arizona presented some information in a meeting and flew back to Oregon. Christopher and I picked him up at the airport at 6:45 PM. So in thirteen hours he traveled 1200 miles, went to a meeting, then traveled 1200 miles back home.

These sorts of things kind of blow my mind.

Tomorrow when my mind is unblown I will write a longer blog. Spoiler alert...I think that's what I am writing about. Spoilers. :-)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Babies Babies Babies!

Over the past year at least a half a dozen of my friends have had babies or are expecting babies. Just this past week there was the late arrival of one adorable little girl and the unexpected 3 1/2 week early arrival of the cutest little boy born in California in a long time! Every time a friend announces that a first baby is on the way or posts pictures of their little one I just smile. Life as they know it has just changed. And there is no way to explain it, you just have to experience it.

Brent and I always say Christopher was born after the longest pregnancy in human history. We got married at 18 and at least 3/4 of the guests at the wedding were eyeballing me to see how far along I was. I mean, who gets married at 18 unless there is a baby on the way? Well, Brent and I did. And then we waited until Brent got shore duty before we decided to have any children. So we were about as ready as two married people can be. We had been married for 5 years, we planned, we waited, we read everything and planned for everything and pretty much got as set as we could before Christopher was born. And yet, I still sat on the couch holding him the first day home from the hospital wondering why they let ME take him home. I had NO clue what I was doing!

We had a little trial by fire his first few weeks. He was born on Saturday morning and my milk didn't come in until Wednesday so all of our best laid plans for breast feeding went out the window by Monday as he was literally starving. He had an exceedingly high bilirubin level so we spent a lot of time going back for blood tests to make sure he was getting better. And it was heart-wrenching for both of us. The only way to get the blood to test was to jab his little foot for a sample. Which of course made him scream which then made me cry. I felt like the biggest failure ever. I couldn't feed him, I kept bringing him for tests that made him cry, I was pretty sure I was already the worst mother ever. And it wasn't any easier for Brent. He is an only child and really was relying on me to know what to do as I had at least been around my nephews when they were born. And I was falling apart in the hallway of the doctor's office while our baby screamed behind the door.

But all of that went by quickly and within the first few weeks after switching to formula he started putting on weight and his levels went down and we found a routine of sorts. Though those first few months are all a blur. I have never been so tired in my life. I am eternally grateful that I was able to be a stay at home mother. I cannot even imagine what my fellow moms who have to go back to work at 6 weeks go through. I can remember waking up one night and panicking because I had lost Christopher in the bed. He was fussing to be fed and changed and I was busy patting all over the bed looking for him and getting more and more frightened before waking up enough to remember he was in his crib. The level of exhaustion is amazing.

At the time Brent was doing rotating shift work so he was able to take the middle of the night feeding shift during two of his shifts and that made all the difference in the world. It's amazing what an uninterrupted block of 5 hours in bed can do for you! But there were still days that a shower was out of the question and forget wearing anything other than sweatpants for the first few months. It just wasn't going to happen. The hair was sacrificed at 6 months with the realization that the time it takes to care for hair down to your butt was long gone!

Babies are work. Anyone who tells you differently is either lying or not raising their own kids. But it's work that is so worth it. There is nothing like the feeling of a baby in your arms. Looking at that face knowing you are responsible for another life is the most overwhelming feeling ever, but it's mostly an overwhelming feeling of love. It will change you and shape you in ways that you didn't think possible. More love, more protective feelings, more of everything.

When Christopher was probably 6 months old we were at the mall shopping and Brent was playing goofy baby games with him. Parents know these games, some noise or face tickles your child and makes them giggle so you must do it over and over just to hear that sweet laugh. Well Brent is doing this with Christopher and I look over and see two young sailors just staring at him. These two were students of his and had never seen Petty Officer Mastenbrook laugh let alone make googly faces at a baby! I laughed so hard at that.

So for those who have had babies in the past year, welcome to the club! And for my friends that are expecting right now, either their first or their fourth or any in-between, welcome to the new adventure! It's going to be such a great year for you! I can't wait for the pictures!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Comfort Foods

So a few weeks ago I was looking through a cookbook that "lightens up" comfort foods and I started thinking, what exactly makes something a comfort food? What makes the cut? The cover of this particular cook book has a picture of baked macaroni and cheese. Yummy for sure, but not a comfort food for me. My mac and cheese came out of a blue box growing up and that is the stuff I crave when I crave mac and cheese.

And that's where I started thinking about what makes a comfort food a comfort food. My best friend from middle school's mom used to cook only a couple times a year and when she did she would make baked macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, collard greens and bread pudding for dessert. This was heavy duty comfort food for them. I can remember the first time I sat down to that meal. First off, I had never even heard of collard greens let alone eaten them, like I mentioned before mac and cheese came from a box, not from the oven and fried chicken should be in a bucket! But for Chrystal and her mom this was the perfect meal. It was a lot of work on Chris's part and she wouldn't even hear of either Chrystal or me helping her. It was her way of putting love on the table. So it became comfort food to Chrystal.

Now for me, my mother stopped cooking for the most part when I was 12 or 13. She would still trot out some of her specialties here and there but for the most part she just stopped. Where most families would have a food schedule like, on Tuesday we have meatloaf we had a restaurant rotation. Goody's, Andy's, Furrs, McDonalds and a few others that would come in and go out for variation. This was the way it went all the way through my high school years. When you were sick, you couldn't really go to dinner with everyone so after dinner you would get something brought home to you. For me it was McDonald's. A Big Mac, fries and orange drink. So now when I get sick, that is what I want. You can keep your homemade chicken soup, bring me a burger!

For Brent it was Chinese food. When anyone in his house was sick they ordered Chinese food. So when he is sick, that's what he wants. And we have been married long enough that now if I am sick for more than a few days my second or third day I want Chinese food as well. Won-ton soup to clear my nose thank you. Christopher leans towards the Chinese food, in case you are wondering.

Then there are emotional bandage foods. Any kind of chocolate works. But a brownie is best. I can remember eating almost an entire pan of brownies at different points in time during my youth. That and raw cookie dough. Chrystal and I used to buy a roll of cookie dough and split it between us. No cooking them, just eating them. Brownies and cookies. So when things are stressful I still want them. Ultimate comfort food for me.

Dropping the weight this year has meant trying to not fall back on comfort eating when faced with situations like stress, not feeling well, what ever the triggers are. And for a long time I really worked at it, did the whole questioning of "Am I hungry or am I stressed?" and if it really is just a stress reaction can I stubborn my way past it and not eat? And if not is there a lower calorie substitute I can have? And the conclusion after almost a year really paying attention is that comfort foods are just that. Comfort. And it's okay, every once in a while to indulge in them. For me the emotional benefit I get from that Big Mac while I am sick is worth the extra time at the gym when I feel better. Instead of a pan of brownies, buying one and enjoying that one can help make a truly bad day seem like a distant memory. And learning that an apple with peanut butter is really one of nature's perfect combinations for any situation (and good for you as well) has been a blessing.

So how about you? What are your comfort foods? What triggers the craving? And do you feed it or ignore it? I think for me I have found the balance. But if you ever see me sitting down to a pan of brownies, know that it's been a really bad week and you might want to walk in a wide circle around me!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day

I was going to post this tomorrow, but figured with the theme of this blog it makes more sense to post it today.

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day. Brent and I don't exchange cards, gifts, chocolates or flowers. We don't get dressed up and go to dinner with 100 of our closest friends. We of course are aware it's happening, how can you miss it? Especially now that the stores start putting out the heart shaped boxes at the day after Christmas sales. But we don't buy any of it. I was the one that made this call pretty early in our marriage. There were a few things that led me to that decision.

I will start with my favorite Valentine's Day memory and then explain how I got from there to not celebrating it at all. This particular Valentine's Day Brent was in the middle of a six month cruise and I was going to school in San Diego. I had spent the morning in class listening to my friends all talk about their plans with boyfriends and girlfriends for the evening. I was trying very hard and failing miserable at not feeling sorry for myself. Brent wasn't in port so there wouldn't even be a phone call and this was before email on the ship so unless there was a letter in my mailbox when I got home I wouldn't even hear from him. I had mailed a care package to him a few weeks earlier with cookies and chocolates but there was no telling if it would make it to him anywhere close to the date.

So anyway, I get home from school ready to sit down to a full on pity party for myself and as I turn the corner to head up to our apartment I see two long white boxes by the door. Now at this point I am couldn't be...You know in the old 40s movies when a woman would get roses they always came in long white boxes? Well Brent and I had been watching an old movie before he left and I had mentioned how growing up I had always wanted to get roses in the long white box. It just seemed so romantic to me. But I had never seen them actually delivered that way. So here are two long white boxes by the door. I practically ran up the stairs to the front door to see if it really was what I thought it was. Two dozen long stem red roses from Brent. I sat on the floor and alternated between crying and smelling my flowers for quite awhile. Now to make this happen, he had to make arrangements with his father BEFORE he left on this cruise months earlier. Had to send him money and what he wanted the card to say and find a florist that would deliver them in San Diego in the long white box. Again, all of this in the age before internet and Google. How are you ever going to top that? Yes, it was roses which is a pretty traditional gift, but the thought and the planning behind that gift really was what mattered.

Fast forward a few years and we are living in Idaho Falls and Christopher is just over a year old. Brent had to work on Valentine's Day but after work he stopped at the store and picked up a couple of balloons with Sandra Boynton characters on them for Christopher and I. Now hopefully all of you parents out there are familiar with the Boynton books, they are really fabulous board books for little ones. Fun to read to them with adorable illustrations. Christopher was so excited to get those balloons! He hauled them around everywhere for a week until they finally lost all of their air and then we still kept them in his room as pictures. This time it was a really simple gift, but it was one that meant a lot to Christopher and I because the characters on them were something he loved and the fact that Brent made sure to stop and pick them up after a long day at work as a surprise.

So when I tell you we don't celebrate you can see that it's not because Brent isn't good at it, he is. It's because I reached a point right about that time where I really started not liking what the holiday seemed to be about. I watched married couples that we knew who were fairly awful to each other on a regular basis plan these huge celebrations, dinners, vacations, jewelry, roses, what ever it was and expect those things as well. "He better not forget, and it better be great" And let's face it ladies, it usually is up to the man to dote on the woman on Valentine's Day right? Anyway, it was like Yom Kippur for relationships. The day of atonement for every bad thing you had done the year before and if the gift was big enough and fancy enough then all was forgiven and you could go back to being awful to each other.

Not to mention what it does to single people. It's like this constant drum beat of "you are alone you loser" for the month of February. Now the month of January as well. What if you like being alone? There's nothing wrong with that. And what if you wish you were with someone else but aren't? Do you really need a constant reminder of it?

And oh the expectations! So if you are in a healthy relationship and you want to do something special on Valentine's Day and you make all of these plans for the perfect evening with your significant other how in the world can anything live up to those expectations? Restaurants are crowded, prices are high, the menu is pre-set. Hotels are booked ahead. That unique piece of jewelry you picked out is probably just like that piece her best friend got two years ago. The gifts are mostly cliche. And if you do find something unique to your relationship there is a shot that someone is going to be disappointed. Either the receiver because it's just not what was expected or the giver because the reaction didn't fit the image of the reaction you had in your head. Oh the stress...

So I told Brent that I didn't want to celebrate Valentine's Day anymore. I just didn't see the need for it. And he spent the first few years of that decision waiting to see if it was a trap. :-) But it wasn't. I really didn't want anything. No card, no candy, no flowers, no dinner out. Nothing. And I like it that way. Though I do have to tell people every year that we don't celebrate when asked about big plans. And I know half of them think, how sad, and half think, I wish we didn't! But it really isn't bad. I know Hallmark misses our money as well as FTD and See's Candy, but it's okay, they have everyone else to fill the gap.

But Brent summed it up best this week when a co-worker asked him about what he was going to do for me for Valentine's Day. When Brent said I don't celebrate his friend said how lucky he was. Brent (I imagine he did this with his wry smile) said, "Yeah, she expects me to be nice to her everyday."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vegas, baby!

Every weekend since New Year's I have known at least one person visiting Las Vegas for the weekend. A few times I have had multiple friends there for different things. All of them posting on their Twitter feeds or status updates or email chains about how they were headed to Vegas! Not that I am jealous, okay yeah, a little jealous.

I love Vegas. It really is grownup Disneyland. People wear things they wouldn't wear anyplace else, they drink more than they would anyplace else, they gamble, they go see shows, they just live a different life for a few days. Now I know that a lot of people wonder why I like it so much, I am not big on excess, I don't drink too much, gamble too much, don't smoke at all but I love watching it all. So I thought I would share some Vegas tales, because you know what happens there really doesn't stay there no matter what people say!

The first trip I ever took I thought I was going to hate it. Brent was in the Navy and we were getting ready to travel to our new duty station. Friends of ours were going to be in Las Vegas for the weekend so we took the time to go out and visit with them. I was pregnant with Christopher at the time and very sensitive to smells. So we get to Vegas and check in to our non-smoking room which was so permeated with stale smoke I thought I was going to die. But the hotel assured us that it was a non-smoking room and any other would be worse. But the weekend visit was fun, we got a chance to catch up with our friends and Brent made enough money at Blackjack to keep me in quarters for video poker. After our friends left we moved to the Strip and spent a couple days there. We went to the King Arthur dinner show and I LOVED it. Just the right blend of hokey and corny for my sense of humor.

The next trip was with USA Boxing for the National Finals competition. This is one of my favorite trips ever even though it was as far from a standard Vegas experience as you can get. I believe the only gambling I did was dropping a quarter in a slot machine at the airport on the way home. The very cool part of this trip for me was the underbelly of Caesar's Palace. Because we were working a boxing event with the hotel as a partner all of the athletes and the group from USA Boxing got pass keys to the back working areas of the hotel and the employee cafeteria. Now underneath the hotel is a huge area that houses everything it takes to make a huge hotel work. The laundry facilities and linen rooms were amazing to see. I wish I had been able to take pictures of it all, but we weren't allowed to take cameras into these spaces. And the employee cafeteria? Oh my gosh, I asked one of the security guards how much weight a typical employee gains when they first start, and he said it was like the freshman 15 from college! The same cooks and chefs from the restaurants through the hotel worked shifts in the employee cafeteria as well, so the food was outstanding. We had a few boxers working extra hard to make weight that week!

Then when I went back to work for L/N I was in Vegas at least twice a year, one memorable year I was there 6 times, including a stretch where I was in back to back meetings so there for a week and a half. Which is too long to be in Vegas for sure. Three days is about perfect without business, you can stretch it to 4 or 5 with meetings, but it still gets to be awfully long. Fly in one evening, get there around 6 or 7, check into your room, head out for the evening, next day wake up and spend some time in a spa or at the pool, then head out again, next morning sleep in then catch an early afternoon flight back out. Just enough time to enjoy yourself, not so long as to get tired of all the flashing lights and noise and smoke. That's a perfect Vegas vacation in my book.

Anyway...Vegas travel with work. What is the hardest part of the Vegas experience at work is going out in the evening and having fun while still being able to get up and be presentable and engaged at an 8 AM meeting. It's tough. And it's amusing to look around the room at the more wild of the bunch sitting hunched over a cup of coffee looking just as miserable as they could be, but knowing that as soon as the meetings are over for the day they are going to rally and want to head back out on the town again!

Traveling with clients is always a trick. You have to stay out as long as they want to and go drinking with them but never get drunk enough to embarrass yourself or forget that you are on the clock the whole time. It makes for a tiring trip. But if you are lucky then you have people you work with that you are also friends with so you can let that guard down a little and actually have fun. My co-op clients would spend every Christmas meeting in Vegas for a stretch. Those were some of the most memorable trips with the least amount of business. Just a time for everyone to celebrate good sales and good times.

I have a mish mash of memories from all of those work trips so I am going to share a few as a batch, know that they aren't all from one trip! One of my first work trips my friend Scott taught me his favorite game to play in a Vegas bar. Hooker/Slut. Simple rules, when an attractive woman walks in and starts chatting up a guy at the bar you have to guess which she is either a working girl there to make a living or a party girl there for the weekend to have a good time. There is usually a spirited debate amongst the group before you come to a conclusion. Now every time someone new would come on a trip they would have to be taught the game. One of the best things to ever come from this game was the words of wisdom from my friend Jenny. We spent an evening playing Hooker/Slut in the bar at The Palms during a Christmas meeting that happened to be held at the same time as the bull riding finals. Well, Jenny after observing all of the action for the evening picks one woman as a slut and we are all sure she is a hooker. Nope, Jenny is adamant. Why? Well...she announces..."Hookers don't wear hats." Hookers don't wear hats never fails to make a group of people I know burst out into laughter. And she was right, hookers don't wear hats so always bet slut if she is in a hat. :-)

I also learned how to gamble for cheap from my friend Don. He taught me how to play Craps for hours on a $10 investment. Now any evening that is spent laughing with friends, getting free drinks and everyone is happy and it only costs $10 is a good night. That was my first taste of actually letting go of money to gamble it. The first few trips I took with KFC that was all I did. Stand next to Don at the table and gamble my $10. Not much of a gamble, but fun any way. Then I started playing Blackjack. Now when I say I play Blackjack, what I mean is I sit at a table with a group of franchisees who tell me how to play. I know it's just numbers but the whole system to it flees my mind most of the time so I just look to my left or right and someone tells me stay or hit. It works for me. I paid for my massage table and my massage chair with winnings from Vegas. Those were great trips!

I also love all of the sights of Vegas. Seeing the waters at Bellagio, seeing them again from the top of the Eiffel Tower, the White Tigers, the Pirate ship, the shark exhibit...The Star Trek Experience was one of the most fun things I have ever been to. I am a huge dork (as most of you know) and these things are fun and goofy and cheesy and I love them. The other sights I love are the people. Scott says there is a section of the closet for some of these women labeled "Vegas Clothes" and they would NEVER wear them anyplace else, but oh my gosh...the things they wear or I should say don't wear in Vegas! My favorite is to see the married couples, she is dressed in a sequined blouse cut down to there with heels up to there on to match the shortest skirt she has every owned...and he is wearing a pair of cut off shorts, sandals with socks and a t-shirt that says, I'm not as think as you drunk I am!

There are so many more stories I could share, but this is already really long and I fear horribly boring to anyone but me! Vegas, baby...