Saturday Afternoon Adventures

A lazy Saturday afternoon found Christin and I talking on the phone, coming up with one of our so-called “brilliant ideas.”  One of us thought, for the sake of the blog, that it would be “cute” for me to go to our old apartment, Apartment B-303 and get it on video, so the “readers” could have a visual. You see, Christin and I are looking for ways to expand the blog, get more readers, as we are building our social media platform. What better way to do it than to have your’s truly over here recruit my 15-year-old son, Vinnie, and go on an adventure, that would hopefully be comical enough to showcase on the blog.

Funny how things do not always work out as we plan. Now, Vinnie and I did get some good footage. Vinnie, being unable to properly get out of the car being one, me, out of breath while running up three flights of steps, another. Also, the fact that Vinnie is really not the best of getting a good angle left something to be desired. I know this because a good portion of the video is focussed on my behind. Thank you Vinnie.

Now a highlight. As Vinnie and I are running down the three flight of stairs, we run into a resident. Older gentleman. As soon as he sees us coming, he politely moves out-of-the-way before we tumble into him. He greets us with a “Hello” to which I say “Hi” back. As I am waiting for Vinnie to catch up to me, this lovely gentleman tells me “You are very attractive.” Being slightly caught off guard, I replied with “Oh, thank you.” As soon as Vinnie catches up, the very nice gentleman tells Vinnie “You have a very attractive mom.” I was waiting for Vinnie to burst out into a fit of hysterical laughter, because, well, it is Vinnie, but instead he looked at the very nice gentleman and simply said “thank you.”

As soon as Vinnie and I turn the corner, I turn to Vinnie “Please tell me you got that on video, please, please, please.” Vinnie did not get the image, because the camera was pointing down (of course) but the sound is clearly there. Granted, you may have to turn up the speakers to hear it, but it is there on video, of the very nice gentleman telling me I am attractive.Of course, now, I am in a good mood. A little stroke of the ol ego never hurt anyone. Vinnie and I come home, I upload the video and sit back and watch.

And now, well, now I want to slit my wrist. This video, the entire process from Vinnie and I sitting in the car, me “talking” to the camera, and everything in between was just horrible, and by horrible, I mean me. I could have not looked more unflattering if I had tried. Seriously. I am about 20 pounds overweight. I have no idea why it took a video to make me see this, but it is there, in all it’s glory. My light blue sweater that I was wearing, was not sitting well on me, just awful.

I call Christin, borderline in tears, not realizing that THIS is how I really look? Because I do not FEEL like I look the way I do. Christin does what anyone good friend does and offered to “edit” the video. Honestly, I do not even think editing will help at this point. And then, with a mix of gentleness and assertiveness, she explains to me how I am my own worst critic, and that I see things that no one else does, and no one cares about the 20 extra pounds of weight, or the fact that the back of my light blue sweater was hiked up. No one cares. Except me.

And then I had a moment. In this video, the very video that I want to burn and not allow anyone to see, a very nice gentleman complimented me. He gave me what I hope was a sincere compliment. I mean if I over think it long enough I could argue the fact that it was not a sincere compliment and he was probably thinking of ways to get me into his apartment so he could hold me for ransom, but I wont go there. I will try to accept the compliment for what it was. Kindness.

Yet, it is interesting to me, that while I do have that exchange on video, the only thing my mind is able to focus on, my ONLY take-a-way from this video of my old stomping grounds, is the fact that I look the worse I have ever looked…and well, that says a lot. Instead of enjoying a moment where a complete stranger compliments me, I am letting those voices, the demons, come back and show their ugly head. However, this time will be different. Those voices, those demons, I will not allow them to win this time. It will not be an easy battle, but really, nothing in life ever is.

Is there a point to this post? Most likely not. It was just an experience that I wanted to write about. However, if there is someone out there who is reading this, and you have the same demons I do, do not be like me. Push them away as quickly as you can, and continue on doing you.



Coming Full Circle

Summer 2016

It has been about four years since Christin visited. We do talk on the phone multiple times a day, much to the dismay of our children, who have gotten into the habit of calling us “Old Ladies.” There is only a two-hour drive that separates my suburb of Seattle and her small town across the water. It’s always easier said than done to plan a meet-up. Life happens. Between her children and mine, something always seems to come up to force us to re schedule, except this time. Now we had a reason, a very important reason to make a meet-up happen.

Christin and I both made arrangements for our children to be someplace else. Today was not the day to have our little darlings tag along. We had things to go over, important things that needed our undivided attention, and not the attention of children who would be requesting extra french fries and ranch dressing before the food was even ordered. It made sense for us to meet for lunch at our old hangout, well kind of. Back in the day PJ Pockets was a pool hall/casino and the occasional concert venue on a much lower scale then what you are probably picturing. Now a days, it is Billy McHales a casual restaurant that has a small bar, and is decked out in Seattle Seahawks gear.

It did not matter to us. We would be in the same place where 14 years earlier, you would find us drinking too much, eating too much, escaping a potentially bad situation one too many times,and first dates with the last guy. Now, in our own little way, in our own little moment, we have come full circle.

As I order a rum and coke, for old times sake of course, I see her jeep pull up. It takes her a minute to gather her belongings. I know the belongings she has in her possession. What we have been working on for the last nine months,what we sacrificed for, our life. The other part of us that is not the mom, or the wife. The part of us that made us who we are today-the good and the bad.

She makes her way to the table just in time for my rum and coke to be delivered. Her arms are full,before we greet, before she sits down, she gently places her laptop and big black binder on the table.

“This is it Jen, it’s ready to go, we did it.”


PTSD : Post Traumatic Stress Disorder .

A guest post from my Dad. This is one of the most important post I have ever  posted.



A quiet, potentially lethal disorder that pursues , and in many cases overtakes those who have been through serious trauma .

Mostly known for its devastating effects on personnel who have witnessed the horrors of combat, this disorder has many more far-reaching tentacles. Police, Fireman, first responders can be hit hard by this evil stalker. People who suffered abuse as a child, rape victims and burn victims can also feel the deadly claws of PTSD.

Relatively speaking, until only recently has this killer been recognized for what it is. In the past, especially with our Military, Warriors were basically told to “suck it up” and to “deal with it”. It was viewed as being weak if the effects took their toll on you.
Thankfully, this is changing, but still…. All too slowly.

About 22 of our veterans, Americas best, commit suicide everyday. For all intents and purposes our “media” says nothing of it. I guess those veterans don’t sell enough print or air space as the other things the media “reports.”

Did you hear me? 22 A DAY. That is unacceptable. This must no go on…
Technically speaking PTSD is a clinically diagnosed condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the recognized authority on mental illness diagnoses.

Common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include reliving a traumatic event through nightmares, flashbacks, or constantly thinking about it. One might avoid situations or people who remind them of the event, have only negative thoughts or emotions, and constantly feel jittery, nervous, or “on edge. Symptoms that continue for more than one month, are severe, and interfere with daily functioning are characteristic of PTSD.

Behaviors that indicate help is needed can include drinking or smoking more than usual in an attempt to reduce anxiety or anger. Service members who have experienced combat can be especially nervous driving under overpasses and past litter on the roadside — behavior learned in Iraq and Afghanistan where insurgents hide improvised explosive devices in garbage and use overpasses to shoot at vehicles.

If you love someone with the Symptoms of PTSD, please seek counsel. There are certain things you simply do not want to say or ask of your loved one. If you are experiencing the vicious attacks of PTSD, please know you are not alone. Many are prepared and willing to stand with you.

Some have utilized Service Dogs to help them through this. I have the honor of knowing one such hero Ken Meyer


who has been helped tremendously by his beautiful Service Dog, “Hope”. She is a blessing from God .

I also have the honor of being part of a project by Reflective Live Ministries that Will raise awareness of PTSD

Reflective Life Ministries has come together with The Mighty Oaks Foundation and many others to produce a movie titled “STRONGER.”

In addition to raising awareness, this film points to the hope all have that can only be found in Jesus.

I play one of the characters in the film and I encourage you to visit the web site and check it out. You will not regret it.


Again, 22 veterans a day committing suicide is not acceptable. It is a national disgrace. Help is there, you and I simply need to be aware and point those fighting this life and death battle to the hope that exists.

For God and Country.

Thanks for listening.

Don Ortolano


Okay Airlines, Let’s Talk…

This is a guest post from my niece, Alyssa. She has been in a wheelchair since the age of six, due to a near fatal car accident. I feel she raises some good points, things that should be talked about.


Ever wonder what it would be like to be on an airplane for hours at a time and have to go to the bathroom but not being able to go because there is no wheelchair on the plane? (Wheelchairs are kept with the luggage.)

I am in a wheelchair and I love traveling! It sometimes is a struggle though to fly for many hours and not have any way to go to the bathroom. I never order food or drinks on the plane because I am scared I will have to use the bathroom and basically I would be screwed!

Let me explain. An Aisle chair is what is used to get those of us in wheelchairs from the gate to our seat on the plane. Your typical wheelchair does not fit down the aisle, that is where an “aisle chair” comes in to play. However, for reasons that I do not understand, “aisle chairs” are not actually kept on the plane. Once I am safely in my seat, I am stuck there for the duration of the flight. Yay me.

My last trip from Virginia to Texas made me wonder a lot. I’m sure there have been many people besides myself who are unable to walk who need to use the restroom but have no way to get there. Nobody should have to depend on a person to help them if they are independent themselves. So my question to the airlines is this.Why is there not an aisle chair that stays on the plane at all times during flights? If myself, or anyone else had to use the restroom on flight, we would either need to be carried by an adult, or crawl on the aisle to the restroom. Honestly, that does not seem fair.

On my last flight a flight attendant asked me, “So, because of your situation, if an emergency occurred what could we do to help you?” My mom replied back with, “Well, since we don’t have any sort of wheelchair I guess you can say we would be screwed” It shouldn’t have to be like that!

Also, another problem, last flight I went to check my chair and make sure it was at my next destination. They promised me it would be there which it was thank God (last time they forgot so I had to wait an hour for my personal wheelchair to arrive) but they messed up one of my arm rest and the rubber cut my arm. My grandma had to melt the rubber so it would be smooth again. I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT!

I wish airlines would take it into consideration that people who are disabled (who did not choose their disability) cannot wait hours to go to the bathroom and should not have to worry about drinking anything because they can’t go to the restroom; and why is there not an aisle chair on every airplane at all times in case of these situations or in case of emergencies? I feel like they should roll around for a day to realize how important it is for people who do have disabilities to have their equipment.

I am just trying to open the door for more communication and answers for those of us who are confined to a chair.

Aisle Chair


Can Men and Women Ever be Just Friends? (Adventures of Apt. B-303)


In 1989 the iconic movie “When Harry Met Sally” made its way to the big screen, and later, VHS. (If you are not familiar with VHS, it is safe to say you are too young to be reading this blog.)

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan take the leads, while debating the age-old question “Can men and women ever just be friends?”

Harry is pretty adamant that men and women can never be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way.” Sally (Meg Ryan) disagrees and whole heartedly believes men and women can be strictly friends without any sex.

I, of course, can see both sides of this. However, I am of the belief that it all comes down to “what is your intention?” More on that later.

October 2002

I had a friend, a pretty good friend in Sean. He was a nice guy, funny, good worker. We were friends. When we worked together, it felt like I was hanging out with Christin or Alphonso. Sean being the newly single guy that he was, was on the hunt for “something casual.” Now, despite whatever conclusions one may have gathered from some previous post on here, I personally, cannot do the “casual” thing. But…to each their own. He tried hard to make it work with Jessica, and in the end, I am of the belief they were just on two different pages. Jessica wanted to settle down, and Sean was determined to never get married again. This is why, all Sean was interested in was a casual relationship, which pretty much means sex with no strings attached.  If Sean were to see an attractive customer in the store, many of us would make bets on if he would come away with her number or not. (He always did.) It got to the point where I knew his “type” of girl, and it became a game of sorts to point these girls out to him, just to see if he agreed they were his type or not. (They always were.) Which really, as long as you are a female, you are his type.

I knew this about Sean, and it was okay. Our friendship was completely different from his quest to get, well, you know where I am going with this. He would go on his “dates” and the next day at work told me all about them. A part of me was intrigued. It was like being inside the mind of a guy for a moment or two. I learned a lot, and somethings I wish I never knew.

Sean was also pretty good friends with Alphonso. I mean they were roommates so they kinda had to get along, but the reality is they truly enjoyed each others friendship. This was important to me as Alphonso was my BFF, and with him being gay, I was always cautious on how straight guys would treat him, because let’s face it, sometimes straight guys act all stupid around gay guys. They automatically think the gay guy wants them and therefore gets intimidated. This was not how Sean was. Alphonso and Sean would clean the apartment together, cook together, we all would run our errands together. Never anything out of line. It was a pretty fun time. All of us were growing in our own ways, yet enjoying life.

Sean also had kids. His kids were about four years older than mine, which was also never an issue. All the kids got along very well. On occasion he would bring his kids down to play with my kids and Jessica’s son. Even Jessica and Sean had seemed to maintain a pretty good friendship after the breakup, which says a lot about both of their character. Separate, they are both pretty good people, together, they just did not work.

One night, Jessica and I decided to have a few people over for dinner and games. It would be Jessica and I, Christin, Sean, Alphonso and Jasmine-Jasmine was a mutual friend of all of us-good people. Alphonso came a little early, helping Jessica and I prepare for the night. And by “prepare” I mean he was telling Jessica and I everything we were doing wrong. Both Jessica and I just tuned him out like we always do. Jessica was in the kitchen, trying to determine if the chicken I made could be saved or not, all three kids were playing in the living room, Alphonso and I were at the dinning room table, while he was doing my makeup, naturally. All of a sudden we hear the front door open. We just assumed it was Sean, Christin or Jasmine. It was not them.

What “it” was, was a huge St Bernard dog, one that looked to be the size of a baby horse. It was at this moment that an outsider would truly get a glimpse into the personalities of Jess, Alphonso and myself. All at once, as soon as we saw the very large dog, Alphonso, while screaming a very high pitched scream,  pushes the kids to the side, runs to the bathroom to lock himself in, Jessica gets all the kids together and orders them to the back bedroom. She follows and locks her bedroom door. I of course think I have a new friend “Hi puppy! Come here, where did you come from?” The dog/horse just sits in the middle of the living room floor looking at me like I am nuts. I believe I heard Alphonso crying from the bathroom, and Jessica yelling at me to come to the bedroom, she was going to call the police, I am torn. I mean what if this dog/horse was hurt, what if someone just abandoned him? I felt bad. It was then that I had one of my brilliant ideas. I would take the chicken that could not be saved and try to make my way past the dog/horse, throw the chicken out the front door, in the hopes that Jake (yes, I already named the dog/horse) would follow. Good plan, right? Carefully, I have the chicken in the pan…”Hi little guy, are you hungry? Do you want some chicken?” Jake is giving me the good ole “side-eye” while I am slowly, slowly, ever so slowly making my way closer to the front door. “It’s okay little guy, don’t be worried, we will take care of you.” As soon as I make my way past him, with chicken in hand, Sean comes barreling through the front door, Jake is scared, starts to growl as if he ready to attack, Sean grabs the pan of chicken out of my hands while pushing me aside, just before Jake made his move…out the front door to follow the chicken. We never saw Jake again after that night, and I can only hope that he found his owners and just took a wrong turn into our apartment.

It was a good night aside from me burning dinner….and the whole Jake fiasco. Apparently while Jessica had the kids in the bedroom, she had called Sean to tell him about the large dog/horse that made his way to Apartment B-303. When Sean came in, he had a pretty good idea of what he would be dealing with. Alphonso, Jessica, Sean and me will never forget that incident. Of course we all have different memories. Alphonso thought he was going to die, Jessica thought the kids were going to die, I thought Jake was just lost and needed help, and Sean believes he came in to save the day. (Which for the record, I totally had it!)

Not too long after our little visitor, Christin and Jasmine made their way down. We enjoyed good food (Thank you Pizza Hut) good conversation, and good music (Thank you Montley Crue) At one point, we all separated and kind of did our own thing, yet we were all still “together.” This would be the time when Christin and Jessica really started to bond. Prior to this particular night, they had only really seen each other at work. It was good for them, as they both had so much similarities with their life.

At the end of the night, after everyone went home and all the kids were safely tucked in, Sean pulled me aside and asked me how I felt about giving it a shot with him. It took me a minute to register what he was asking me….but it finally clicked and I was blindsided, which seems to be a running theme with me, but blindsided none the less. I mean what? Where was this coming from? Was Harry right all along, that men and women cannot ever be just friends? Sean knew that Joe and I were in the very early stages of “talking” although nothing was official between Joe and I, I felt it was going in that direction. Why would Sean of all people now put this awkwardness out there. We had a good thing going, until we didn’t.

I needed to call Christin. She would know what to do, because at this point, even though her and I were not the best judge of character regarding our own lives, we were pretty on point about giving advice to others.

Shortly after that night, there would come a time when  Joe would get involved, and I would be forced to make a choice between a pretty good friendship and what could possibly be.


1993 (Adventures of Apt. B-303)


January 1993

I was in 7th grade at Franklin Middle School. So far, I had really good experiences throughout my years at school. I had one kid, Jessie that tried to bully me in 6th grade. But I learned early on if you ignore someone that wants to get a rise out of you, eventually they stop trying. It worked. He only tried it a few times—you know, name calling and intimidation—when I didn’t react and ignored the idiot—he found a new victim.

7th grade was going good so far. I had a close group of friends and played every sport I could. Basketball and softball were my favorites. I had friends of all different races and backgrounds. Some played sports like me and some were into playing instrument. I had friends that were in gangs and I had friends that went to church every Sunday. You could say I had a quite the diverse combination of friendships. But for me it didn’t matter where they came from or what they were into. I always saw the best in people even when from the outside looking in there wasn’t much to see. And if you have been reading the blog—you will know that this is not always a good trait to have. God knows, I’ve seen a sliver of good in someone that is surrounded by mostly bad. Flaw or attribute—the jury is still out on that one.

About half-way through 7th grade a new girl joined the school. Her name was Kim and I had a few classes with her. She was a very quiet, shy, awkward girl. Who am I kidding, didn’t we all look awkward in our younger years? She just didn’t hide it as good like the rest of us. She always looked at her feet when she walked. About a week after she started, I noticed her in the cafeteria eating all by herself. My friends and I were eating at our normal table talking about who was going to the dance on Friday night. I wasn’t sure if I should walk over and have her join our group. I hesitated and decided to wait until I had a chance to talk to her one-on-one. Later that day, after our last class I saw her standing at her locker. I walked over and said the first thing that came to my mind. “Hey, are you going to the dance on Friday?” She looked up and gave me a puzzled look. “I didn’t know there was one” “Yeah it’s 5-8pm on Friday in the gym. You want to come with me and a few friends?” “Umm…I have to ask my mom. But, yeah I want to go”

It turned out that we only lived 2 blocks away from each other. From this day forward, Kim and I walked to and from school every day. She became one of my best friends throughout middle school. We ended up going to different high schools but we kept in touch. I ran into her at Wal-Mart (go figure) in 1998. She just had a baby. We talked for a few minutes and exchanged numbers. Shortly after, I moved to California and lost touch. I’m not sure what ever happened to her but I am glad I talked to her that day in 1993. Some of my favorite middle school memories had her in it.

November 2002

Jen had invited me over for a dinner. I thought it was just going to be her and me catching up, but it really was her and I, in addition to Alphonso, Jessica, Sean and Jasmine. I had heard from Jen that Jessica and Sean had broken up. I didn’t know the details but was kind of surprised they were hanging out together. I personally didn’t make it a point to hang out with my exes but to each his own.

Jen had attempted to make hot wings but unfortunately, she left them in the oven too long thanks to her make-up and hair. So, instead she ordered pizza. Pizza and vodka for everyone except me– I stuck with pizza and water. It was obvious Jessica really didn’t want to be here. I mean she lived here but you could feel the tension between her and Sean. I had never hung out with Sean outside of work. From what I saw, he always had a smile on his face and was so friendly. Sean and Karl were friends and I could see why—both of them were so charismatic. However, I’m sure Sean didn’t make it a habit to hit on other women while he had a girlfriend.

The evening started off good. Jen put her Motley Crue Cd on. Jasmine was following Jen around like her shadow. Interesting observation. I thought she had a girlfriend?? At least that’s what I heard. Jasmine was allegedly dating Joanne, an assistant manager. But from what I was seeing Jasmine might have a thing for Jen. Or maybe my pregnancy hormones were making me delusional. Alphonso was mixing drinks in the kitchen with Sean. They were debating the right way to make a Fuzzy Navel.

I needed some fresh air. I stepped out on the back patio and there was Jessica. She was just finishing up a cigarette. “When is your baby due?” “March 17” I replied. “That’s a few days before my son’s birthday” she said. Up until this point Jessica and I hadn’t really talked outside of work. I could tell she was going through some things. She had bags under her eyes and looked like she hadn’t slept in days. I didn’t want to pry but I wanted to let her know if she needed to talk, I was a good listener. Turns out, I didn’t have to pry. She started telling me about the problems between her and Sean which lead them to break-up. According to her, Sean was friendly to everyone, especially other women causing her to believe he was cheating on her. I sympathized with her and revealed some of my own similar past situations. I left out the whole Karl thing because Jessica and Karl’s girlfriend were friends. Jessica said that she never had any concrete evidence but deep down she just knew Sean was stepping out on her. I felt bad for her. I gave her the good old “You can do better than him” and “You don’t need a man” speech. It seemed to lift her mood a little bit. We were talking for what seemed like forever when at the same time we realized the apartment was dark and quiet. We both walked in and the apartment was deserted. Nobody in sight.

Where the hell did everyone go? Jen’s boys were still playing in the room. Vinnie was watching cartoons and A.J. was building a castle with his new Legos. Everything was good in here. She suggested we grab some pizza and head back outside. It was an abnormally warm evening for November, so I obliged. We sat outside talking about how shitty men were. It was a good therapy session for both of us. I found out she was a single mom and her son’s father had left before he was born. Apparently, we had more in common that either of us had realized. After what seemed like forever we heard a commotion in the apartment. Lights came on and I could hear the music blasting. They were back. Jessica and I went inside. “Where did you guys go?” I could tell Jasmine had a few too many too drink. “We had to go to 3 different liquor stores to get what we needed” Jen said while making her special alcoholic concoction for Jasmine. Thank God Jen and Sean were still sober. I didn’t want to be the only sober one hanging out with a bunch of drunk fools.

Jessica decided it was time for her to retire to her room. She thanked me for the chat and we exchanged numbers. She said she might need more “therapy chats”. The truth was I probably needed just as many if not more “therapy chats” than she did. Jasmine and Jen were in the dining room teaching A.J. and Vinnie some kind of card game. Actually Vinnie was trying to rip the cards up. Typical 2 year old stuff. Alphonso went back up to his apartment to get some sketches of dresses he wanted to show Jen. Not interested. I was getting ready to leave as Sean was trying to find a football game on T.V. I thought I would stick around and watch a few minutes of game. “You like football?” Sean asked with a smirk on his face. “As a matter of fact—I do” I spouted back. This led to a friendly dispute on what was wrong with the Seahawks offense and defense. After we came to the conclusion that Matt Hasselbeck needed to be replaced and soon, the conversation took a turn for the unexpected.

He began telling me the problems between him and Jessica. He told me she wasn’t allowing him to talk to people because she thought he was cheating. According to him, it was her insecurities that got in the way of their relationship. She was suspicious of everyone, even Jen. I’m not good at reading people when it comes to my own life but when it comes to others, I can read between the lines with great accuracy. My conclusion after talking with Sean for 2 hours was that he was being honest and genuine. He still cared for Jessica after everything but because of her past relationships, she was unable let go of it all.

I really needed to get home. It was late and I still had a 45 minute drive back to Lakewood. Shawn offered to walk me out stating “a pregnant lady shouldn’t be walking down to the parking garage by herself”. I was thankful for that. Pregnant or not that parking garage was scary. He walked me down and made sure I was in the car safely. On the drive home, I was thinking about how one conversation with a person can ignite a friendship or maybe just make you feel like you are not so alone. Like back in 7th grade.

I made it back to my apartment about 1am. I was exhausted. I was brushing my teeth when I notice my answering machine light blinking. I pressed the play button. “It’s Jen…call me as soon you get home!”


That Time in 7th grade


Late 1980’s. I was in 7th grade, middle school. Back then they called it Junior High. I had absolutely no friends, and hated school with my entire being. I was the kid that would eat lunch in the restroom by myself. Most kids did not even know my name, and I had gone to school with these people for the last two years. I was incredibly shy. I  get how that would be annoying to most people. It really takes work to get me in. I had no confidence what-so-ever. At home, I was surrounded by these huge outgoing personalities, and that just was not me. I am a people watcher, not one to be watched. Most of the girls I went to school with, both in Colonial Heights and Great Bridge  Virginia were in a world of their own. I did not look anything like them. They were tall, thin, blond hair and blue eyes, then there was me. Average height, my olive skin and black hair showed the school I was an interesting mix, a mix that these schools were not used to. It was such a miserable experience. Except, for David. For a brief moment in time, David made me feel….smart.

David was in my literature class. David was also a quarterback for the football team. He was tall, nicely built, light brown hair that complemented his green eyes and very popular. We sat next together in class, not by choice of course. One day in, David asked if he could take my notes home to copy and study them. Clearly David was under the impression that I was one of the “smart girls.” Poor David. Not only did he not realize I was an outcast, but he was under the impression that I also took notes. “Trust me, you do not want my notes.” Yet, being that David was the only guy that ever said two words to me, I quickly developed a crush. Enter Nicole.

Nicole was a very popular girl in my Science class. I really liked Nicole. She was tall, blond, and always wore some concert t-shirt (Whitesnake, Tesla, Montley Crue) paired with jeans and her Doc Martens. In another time or another place, her and I would have been good friends, but not in 7th grade Science class. Nicole and I sat directly across from each other. We were pretty much forced to talk to each other. Well played Science teacher! One day out of the blue, Nicole asked me if I liked anyone, you know, like did I like a boy. For whatever reason, I told her about David. I told her he talked  to me and asked for my notes, and I thought he was cute. Nicole, being the tall, thin, pretty, and very popular girl she was, told me I need to let him know I like him. Yeah….that was not going to happen.

About two days later in school, I was walking down the hallway by myself, trying to figure out a way to skip my first period class. (Important to note Parents, I cannot get in trouble for trying to skip a class, the statue of limitations ran out!) I saw Nicole in the hallway. Now usually what happens is if she is with her group of friends she will walk on by, and pretend to not see me. I know she sees me, and she knows I know she sees me, but that is just how it works. Popular kids cannot be seen talking to the outcast. I did not make the rules.However, on this particular day, the hallway was pretty empty. Nicole came up to me a little to excited. “He likes you! I talked to him and told him about you and David likes you, so do not be surprised if he talks to you.” At first I was in shock, perhaps Nicole sniffed a little too much nail polish in the girls restroom. Then, I was in disbelief. “What, are you sure?” She assured me that she had just talked to him last night, and yes, he did in fact like me. It was almost as if she was happy for me? This was the best news ever. This had never happened before. A guy was actually interested in me? Of course he could never meet my sister, because once he meets my sister he will then be interested in her, but hey,  my sister was still in 5th grade, elementary school, I could make this happen. In that brief conversdation, I imagined me telling my parents that a boy likes me. I pictured us going to football games and me cheering for him in the stands. I imagined my parents would be proud, and my sister would be in shock, and more importantly ,I finally felt that maybe I could be Alli from The Karate Kid. Daniele LaRusso’s love interest. Oh yeah I got this!

The next day as I was getting ready for school, I planned my outfit out perfectly. I wanted to look the best I could without it seeming I was trying too hard, because I would be seeing David in Literature class. I decided that I would make sure to get to class on time for once. I looked pretty and for the first time in a long time, I felt pretty. It is amazing what a pound of blue eye shadow can do for one’s self-esteem.

Right after my first period class, Nicole found me in the hall. She actually left her group of friends to come talk to me. I was excited about this. This was possibly the first step to me actually having friends. I mean if people see the popular girl talking to me, then surely I am pretty cool, right? Just give it time and I would be one of those girls.

“I have something to tell you, I am sorry, but David does not like you, he likes another Jennifer, you know the cheerleader. I am so sorry, I just assumed it was you.”

And that was it. Of course it was not me. How could I be so stupid to actually think it was me. No one was ever going to like me. I do not look like the other girls, I do not act like the other girls and I never will.

October 2002

After the first date with Joe and I, things were awkward for a while. He was my boss, so by the book. Joe never risked anything unless it was climbing up the latter without a “spotter.” We would talk on breaks, and talk on the phone in the early evening hours, but that was pretty much it. Then, one day at work he called for a “Team Meeting”, we all gathered round as her nervously told us he was leaving Walmart. I was not quite sure I heard him correctly. Did he just say he was leaving Walmart in two weeks? Surely it had to be something I did or something I did not do. Perhaps it was too much baggage and really, could I blame him?

After work as we are all walking out together saying our good-byes, he pulled me aside and told me he was leaving Walmart in two weeks. “Yeah, I kinda got that from the meeting we had.” He stopped walking, turned to look at me “Jen, I am leaving Walmart so we will be allowed to date, if that is okay with you?”

Blindsided. Is this guy really leaving a job, a job that he is good at just to date me, without any consequences? It was the best I had ever felt in a long time, yet, talk about pressure. What if we did not connect? He left a job because of me? A job that he loved none the less. I was not worth it.

Enter Sean. Jessica and Sean were now officially over. In a funny turn of events, Sean was now living upstairs with Alphonso, and Jessica was still living with me. Talk about awkward.  Sean and I worked the same shift, we had a pretty good friendship going on, and to make things easier, Sean and I would carpool to work. It was a nice situation, until it wasn’t.

It would only be a matter of time before I would find myself once again messing up.

Like that time in 7th grade.