Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ratt Concert

Last weekend, the Bug and I headed down to San Antonio and got a room at the historic St. Anthony's Hotel.  After having an appetizer of nachos at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Riverwalk, we took a cab to the AT&T center for the Ratt & Scorpions concert.

We did not plan to stay for much of the Scorpions show.  We came solely for the opening act, Ratt.  That was my #1 most favorite band from 1985 to 1988.  They covered my walls, their music came screaming out of my bedroom.  All of my music was censored. For some reasons, the parents never targeted Ratt.  If they had taken the notion to put up a Ratt ban, I surely would have taken my own life.  They were all I had.  I'm not exaggerating.  Everything was forbidden.

The Bug has grown up riding in the backseat of my car listening to whatever CD's I chose.  Often enough, it was Ratt.  She has her own favorite Ratt songs.  One of them is "You're In Trouble", which she would lovingly refer to as "The Jungle Song" because it started out with the echoing sound of monkeys.  They were not monkeys at all, but she thought so, and I let it be.

So we pulled up at the AT&T Center at 7:10.  The show started at 7:30.  We got inside and found a t-shirt stand.  We stood around making polite conversation with the fans around us as we waited for our line to move forward.  The Bug got her shirt and I looked down to see it was now 7:25.  Our seats were in the 16th row on the floor, center stage.  We made our way down the stairs and to our seats.

We sat down and managed to snap a picture of the two of us.   As soon as we turned around to face forward, the lights went down and the guitar started wailing.  They started the show with the Bug's favorite song "You're In Trouble".  She was bouncing up and down and shouting.  It was epic.  I loved every second of it.

The show was fantastic. We did not stay for much of the Scorpions.  We took a cab back to our hotel.  But it was an outstanding night.  It turned out to be one of my more monumental mom moments.  I dig those more than I love feta cheese.  And that's saying a lot.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My ultimate 70's Collection

I want to create a folder of music to add to my MP3. I know there is a way to download them off the internet, lots of people have. I just never learned how.  I want to create a folder of all those obscure 70's songs that I loved so much as a little elementary school kid running around the neighborhood. I have distinct memories of riding in the back of the pea green colored station wagon, without a seatbelt, between Chicago, Illinois & Cleveland, Ohio listening to various songs on the radio and pretending that I could communicate with all the 18 wheelers with my disconnected CB radio.

So if and when I can put together my ultimate 70's collection...this is what I would put on it and why.

  1. Longer Than (Dan Fogelberg)  just because it is the sweetest love song ever written
  2.  Summer Breeze (Seals & Croft) this song makes me think of the movie Dazed & Confused, I almost want to smoke a joint each time I hear it.
  3.  If (Bread) I always said I would dance to this song at my wedding. I've never had a formal wedding that I danced at....and I've been married twice. I think it's safe to put this reverie to bed.
  4. Diary (Bread) just because this is the saddest song ever written
  5. Woman (John Lennon) I don't care if Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. She & John shared the most wondrous love.  This song is so beautifully written about the woman who stole John's heart. 
  6. Hot Stuff (Donna Summer) I sang this song for hours while dancing on the deck of our Chicago Suburban home. Little did I know I was singing about trying to score a one night stand.
  7.  If You Leave Me Now (Chicago) This one is iffy. I distinctly remember crying in the back of the station wagon while this song played because my step-dad called my real dad a Polak.
  8. Lady (Little River Band) This song used to make me think of my real dad. Everytime I would visit him, he would have a new girl-friend and he usually met these girls while he was out dancing.  So the lyrics about the girl on the dance floor always made me think of him and whatever his girl-friend's name was at the time.
  9.  Baby Come Back (Player) Stupid Swiffer Wet Jet.  They have almost ruined it for me. But this song makes me think of the time when I tied a string to the knob of the bathroom door and tried to extract a tooth on my own.  The result was bloody and overwhelmingly painful. When I turned on the bathroom light to view the damage to my mouth, the radio also came on and was playing this song. 
  10. I Just Want To Be Your Everything (Andy Gibb) Hands down one of my most favorite memories with my real dad was him teaching me how to Disco dance in the livingroom of his townhouse in North Royalton, Ohio.  When I hear this song, time stands still.
  11.  Superstitious (Stevie Wonder) This is the song that was playing while I rode in the back of a yellow Vega, with my friend, to my step-dad's company picnic.  The excitement of potato sack races, watermelon,  and all the pop I could swig was enough to mask the pain I endured while trying to peel the backs of my thighs from the hot vinyl seats upon our arrival at the park.
I am sure there are more.  I just have not thought of them all yet.  They are coming to me one by one this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not taking the bait.

I received a phone call a few days ago.  The conversation drifted along about recent events and then my former step-dad finally got around to mentioning how I referred to him and my mother as "Nazi Parents" on my Facebook page.  He again had to tell me that the reason things occurred as they did for me growing up is merely because of birth order and the way he was raised by his own dad.

Evidently his dad ruled with an iron fist and this made him miserable as well.  But if he was so miserable, then why would he repeat the pattern?  Why not change it?  That is what I have done with the Bug.  I have quietly observed parents...ranging from my own, to my friends, to strangers in restaurants.  I took the things I liked from each observation, tweaked them to my own style, combined it all with the idea of the kind of mom I always wanted and became the mom that I am.

The Bug is happy and well adjusted.  And I have done a phenomenal job so far.  When that conversation and the other points made begin to surface, I focus on where I am, how far I've come and refuse to give it further headspace.

It is what it is. I can't go back and change any of it. I can only make today better.  And it is.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


In 2004, I took two days off work in June and got a hotel reservation near a water park called Schlitterbahn about an hour south of us.  We arrived right when the park opened and I told the Bug she would plan 100% of the day.  Around 1:00 it began to rain.  Lightning closed down the park and we seized the opportunity to check into our hotel room where we ate our lunch & took a little nap.  When we awoke, the rain had stopped, the sky was clear and we went back to the water park.  It was open...but empty.  We rode everything that day and had virtually no wait in lines at all!  To this day it is one of my most favorite memories with the Bug.

We stayed until the park closed, went back to our hotel room and washed the chlorine out of our hair and the sunscreen off our skin.  Then we walked next door to a Pizza Hut and had dinner.  We played games in the hotel room until the Bug zonked out.

I have not been able to book a vacation this summer for the Bug.  I feel bad about it but at the same time, we have a few fun trips on the schedule.  Yesterday I took the day off from work and we made another trek out to Schlitterbahn.... only this time, we brought along the boy-friend.

This trip has been in the planning stages for weeks.  I told Bug the story about my trip to Cedar Point in Ohio.  There was some Corvette show taking place and my dad wanted to go.  The only problem was I wanted desperately to bring a friend to go around the park with.  At the same time, I knew my dad would be there all day, following us around, and doing anything he could to embarrass us.  I also told the Bug about how my friend and I jumped on a ride right away and as soon as we exited, we pretended not to see my dad and tried to get lost in the crowd.  He became so irate, he was yelling at us as he all but ran to catch up to us.  It was probably more embarrassing than if we would have just let him follow us around all day.  (My dad's irate rants sounded much like the Mel Gibson tapes...imagine walking away in a crowd from someone who is yelling like that...)

I explained to the Bug that she would have her boy-friend to hang out with all day and I would be there by myself.  I am a water baby too and I am going to want to go on a lot of the same slides as them and she needed to realize that I would be hanging around them a lot.  I also told her that I will respect the fact that she and the boy-friend will want some time together as long as she respects the fact that I will want some shared time too.

Yesterday could not have gone any better!  The moment we arrived, we got a locker, set down our cooler and planned what we would do first.  The first slide I had the kids go on together and I waited.  Then we got in line for the biggest slide there.  It was a 3 seater, so after a 45 minute wait in line, we all took part in the ride together.  The wave pool/lazy river was me and the Bug's favorite attraction last time.

This time we all got tubes and floated along.  Every once in awhile the kids would float away from me and I let them go.  I knew they would eventually come back around.  The Bug was good about making eye contact occasionally.  I previously designated a spot where we would wait for one another if we got separated but wanted to leave the ride to find another slide.  It worked out perfectly.

We agreed to go back to the locker, reapply sun screen, eat a snack, drink some water and tackle a few more slides.  We spent the most time at a lazy river on the east end of the park.  I lost the kids for quite some time there. But I just kicked back in my tube and eventually they found me.  I watched them tackle an obstacle course and cheered them on as they attempted to cross.  Only the boy-friend was successful.  The Bug swung like a monkey, barely made it past the first obstacle and splashed into the water at the second obstacle.  We all tubed down some waterfalls and tackled a killer two-seater slide. I went by myself, Bug and boy-friend came down after me.  The day couldn't have worked out any better.

Everyone was exhausted when we decided it was time to go.  We still had an hour long drive ahead of us.  We stopped at a Cracker Barrel for dinner and finally pulled in the garage at 9:00 PM.

It was an absolutely perfect day.  I think it just goes to show that if you give a kid a little respect, you are going to get a lot back.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Safety Net

I had an epiphany just now. Up until two years ago, I've been in survival mode.  In some ways, I still am. I don't think it is a rope we are able to just let go of, but with courage, I'll eventually let it fall from my hands.

As a kid I was torn between two parents.  I had the long distance biological father with a big chip on his shoulder who alienated me from my mom's family whenever I would travel to see him in the summer time.  On the other hand, all year long, I lived with a custodial mother in a household dictated solely by her second husband, my step-father.  There was a fair amount of parent alienation going on here too.  All my unfavorable characteristics and less than desirable behaviors were blamed on my father who also happened to be one half Polish.  Polish jokes ran amok.  From a young age I began the survival mode.

School sucked. There's no two ways about it. I was a weird kid with a minimal network of friends.  Social interaction was forbidden due to the fact that I was constantly grounded at the hand of my step-father and now brainwashed mother.  I would later learn that my biological father did attempt to step in only one time and was quickly shot down.  I also learned, just four years ago, that my long-distance grandparents had discussed taking me into their home in the summer of 1990.  No one ever made me privileged to that information before and my grandmother has since passed away. I wish I could have talked to her about that.

Battles at school with peers and with my own grades were fights I endured on my own.  There was no productive discussion about higher education.  I was left to my own devices with obstacles that were set, I believe purposely, to assure failure.  Again, survival mode.

The first thing I did after I got that high school diploma was get the hell out of Dodge.  Career goals and college aspirations were unsupported and the only option I could find at that time came with a quarter karat diamond ring and a boy-friend who looked a lot like Garth Brooks.

Of course, a quarter karat ain't much...and looks fade over time.  The real Garth Brooks put on some weight, had three kids and dropped out of country music.  My own personal version of Garth Brooks also put on weight, developed major depression and had multiple extra-marital affairs. Of course, the affairs were all my fault.  (sarcasm)  But again, survival mode.

After being separated & homeless from December 17, 1998 to January 17, 1999, with a two year old, I finally found the courage to get divorced.  I was a single parent, working a no where job, living in Government subsidized apartments, living in survival mode.

I partied a little bit, but I didn't date anyone seriously... at least not until August 2004.  But he would turn out to be an extremely emotionally abusive narcissistic sociopath.  I picked a doozy, who continued my need to live life in survival mode.

I met Shark on December 2, 2005.  We were married on August 8, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada in a cheesy 10 minute ceremony.  He wore a tuxedo printed t-shirt.  Everything about our relationship and this union was just right.  With Shark, I can be myself, and he loves me.  With Shark, I am safe. 

I realize now that not long after we got married, I felt safe enough to let my guard down.  I don't feel like I am living every day of my life in survival mode anymore.  This has it's downfalls. 

Last summer I partied hard.  I shucked a lot of my responsibilities.  I drank a lot.  I drank so much, my face got puffy and I put on even more weight.  I think it was a long time coming though.  I had a safety net!  I could let my hair down and lift my shirt up.  Things finally began to balance out, thankfully.

For the first time, I am truly loved.  For the first time, I feel 100% safe.  Thanks to Shark.