Three Days

I was standing there, alone, in the quiet morning hours. Both being  a rarity these days. Usually my tiny three bedroom apartment has someone always coming or going. Between my four children, husband, and brother-in-law, there is never any alone time. Until now. As Western Washington was bracing for a storm of a lifetime, my husband and children were out buying supplies. It was a certainty we would lose power. Just in time for my family to make their annual trip to Seattle. 

Facing my favorite wall in my apartment, I had nothing but  excitement about what the next three days would bring. In just a few hours, my family would be here. They were flying in from Texas, Virginia and San Diego. It had been two years since we were last together in my tiny Seattle apartment, and this year may very well be the last.

The wall. My favorite wall. Filled with wonderful tacky retro signs that welcomed each holiday. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, and Easter. These tacky knickknacks are  tacky to outsiders, to me they mean the world, and that is why I leave them up all year-long. My eyes darted to an “Enter if you Dare” retro Halloween sign. It is recklessly hung up with a push-pin. Behind it, is a white legal size envelope that holds our hopes, dreams and goals from two years ago, when we were last in my tiny apartment together.

Two years ago, in October of 2014, sitting at my rickety old dining room table, my family gathered together and each wrote where we would like to see ourselves in October of 2015. When our letters were safely sealed up, I scribbled “To be open in October 2015” on the outside. I took the “Enter if you Dare” sign down, pushed the push-pin through the envelope, and returned the sign to its proper place.

We were never able to read the contents of the legal size white envelope in October of 2015. Life got in the way, as it so often does, and not all of us were able to make it that year. Collectively, we all decided that the legal size white envelope would not be open unless we were all present. This year, this year would be it. Sometime over the next three days we will open the contents of the envelope, most likely around the same rickety old table where we were sitting at two years earlier. We will shed both tears of laughter and tears of sadness, as good byes are also hard.

First, we had three days of memories to make. Three days to make the short amount of time together count, three days to come up with more hopes and dreams to share with each other, and three days to document it all, because where this family is concerned, there is no telling what the next three days could bring.


My family was scheduled to be at my apartment by two o’clock. They did not show up until three o’clock. I am sure they will argue this, however being that I am the one with the blog, we will just say that I am right. A minor concern was I was scheduled to pick up a beautiful lasagna from my local Italian eatery. I was scheduled to pick up this lasagna the same time the “storm of a lifetime” was scheduled to hit. I now had visions of me being trapped inside the cozy little Italian cafe bound and determined to save my lasagna. While my small suburb of Seattle town was being hit with 65 mph winds.

As excited as I was to see my family, I was also nervous. Three cups of coffee did nothing to calm my nerves, nor did my jack and coke. My family is beautiful. Time has stood still for them all. Me, not so much. My feelings of insecurity from a little girl, have always followed me throughout my adult life. Sometimes they are right there walking right beside me, others time they are a safe distance away. Today, today they were right in front me making me question everything. “Look at your apartment, it’s like a 16 year olds!” (I may have went overboard on the Halloween decorations) “Are you really wearing THAT?” (I like to think I can pull of the skinny jean look) “You do not have enough food, unless you are a five-year old.” (Well I am trying to go pick up lasagna!) No matter how old I get, I always want my family to be proud of me. Tacky decorations, sausage jeans, little kid food and all.

My husband and the kids made it back. I took my same spot at my crowded desk and decided to do a little Facebooking before my family showed up. I was scrolling through political post and food pictures when I got the text from my sister.

“Jen, we are here. Were do you want us to park?”

(to be cont.)


Happy Travels?

My family is flying in on Saturday! It is our annual “Seattle Visit” a tradition started by “your’s truly” back in 2011. You see, we are all scattered throughout the United States, which makes it very hard to get together for Sunday dinners, birthdays, the magic of the holiday season, and everything else in between. Although not always easy, and last year a few of us were missing, we do try to make these visits work.
You have “The Parents” who are flying in from Texas. My brother who is is stationed in San Diego, and my sister who has remained back east in Virginia. It should be a great visit, filled with making memories that will carry us through yet another year. Except this time, it is not looking too good.
If you have been watching the news, or happen to live in WA State, you know we are in for the storm of a lifetime, that will make its way to Washingston State…..on Saturday. I am preparring myself now for the flight cancellations that I know are just around the corner. At this point, the only hope we have is a miracle.
It’s not like it has not happened before.
Christmas Eve 1999 – Christin

My boss called me into his office. I knew this could go either 1 of 2 ways. 1: I would get the week off I requested so I could go home for the holidays. 2: I would be stuck here in San Jose and spend Christmas alone. I knew it was a lot to ask to have this time off. Working at Wal-Mart, there was no time given off between November and January. It was the busiest time of the year and they couldn’t afford to let anybody have a day, let alone a week off.

I walked into his office and sat down. I mentally prepared myself for the worst. I conjured up a speech that I would ramble off if he said no.

“Christin, you know the holidays are a busy time, but I understand your situation—so I’m letting you have the time off”

I breathed a sigh of relief.

“But—there are things that need to be done in your department before you go. Get with your assistant and she will give you a list.”

I thanked him and quickly walked out.

I was going to get to go home for Christmas.

It’s a good thing too because I had already bought my plane ticket.
It was the day before Christmas Eve. I was running around trying to get my department notes finished. I was almost done for the day. A few last things needed to be done and then I had to do some last minute Christmas shopping. I finished up and clocked out. As I was heading to electronics to pick up the Nintendo 64 that I knew my brother just had to have for Christmas, I ran into Freddie. Freddie and I had become good friends in the last 6 months and had been on exactly 1 date at this point. He pulled a big, red card from his back pocket and gave it to me. I had instructions not to open it until I got to the airport. He told me that he had looked at the weather report for Washington and that it was snowing hard and to be careful on my trip home.  Duh, it’s Washington. A little snow wasn’t going to hurt anything—so I thought. I laughed it off and gave him a hug good-bye.  After finishing up my Christmas shopping, I went home and began packing.

Christmas Eve day I found myself sitting in the San Jose International airport, anxiously awaiting the boarding call. I hadn’t been home in 5 months and I missed my family terribly. I was looking forward to homemade cookies and candy that my grandma made every year and spending some time with my little, mischievous brother. I was pulling out my boarding pass when I saw the big, red envelope. I pulled it out and read it. Smiling like a fool, I tucked the red envelope back into my bag. My flight was boarding. Goodbye sunny California- hello home. The two hour flight to SeaTac was virtually uneventful. I read that card about 10 more times and made a mental note to myself that I needed my aunt (who was a hair stylist) to give me a spiral perm. (Don’t judge me, it was the late 90’s). As we were landing at Sea-tac, the snow was coming down hard. Everything was covered in white. My nerves were a little rattled because I knew the planes from here to Yakima were a lot smaller. The “LaBamba” planes (If you saw the movie, you know what I’m referring to) were a lot smaller and more susceptible to turbulence. Great. Just my luck. I was going to die on Christmas Eve, in a LaBamba plane in a snow storm before I got to see my family or have my 2nd date.


After finding my connecting flight, I decided to grab some lunch. I quickly ate a sandwich and returned to my concourse. I looked up and saw my flight was delayed. Assuming it was for the weather, I went to the nearest pay phone and called my mom.

“Mom, my flights going to be delayed because of the snow storm….don’t worry…I’ll be okay…no, mom, I’m fine…I will be home soon”

Great. Now what?

I strike up a conversation with some ladies sitting nearby. Turns out they were in the same predicament I was in. Wanting to get home for Christmas to be with their families. We joked about all of us renting a car and trying to make it over the pass but what if the pass was closed? It most likely was with the amount of snow that was falling.

An hour or two went by with no change. The snow was coming down even harder. As I looked up to the screen, the “delayed” turned to “cancelled”.

My plans of spending Christmas Eve with the family went out the window. No dinner at Great-grandma’s house, no midnight mass with the family. No Christmas music, no opening presents, nothing.

After reading my Christmas card from Freddie for the 100th time, there was an announcement. They would be providing a greyhound bus to transport people to Yakima.

The day began to turn to night as we all piled into the bus. Not exactly how I saw me spending my Christmas Eve. On top of the bus heater not working well, I realize I didn’t dress for this 20 degree freezing weather. When I left sunny Cali it was a 75 degrees and here I was in jeans and a t-shirt with a light weight jacket in the middle of a snow storm. If it couldn’t get any worse, the bus was going a mere 15 mph. At this rate, a 3 hour trip would take 8 hours.

And it did.

I couldn’t feel my toes or fingers upon arriving at the Yakima Airport.  I pulled my jacket close around my body, hoping to feel some warmth. It didn’t work.

We pull into the Yakima airport around 2am. I looked out the window, hoping to see my mom or my grandparents. I wiped the frost off the window to see my mom, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins standing outside, waiting for me. I felt a wave of happiness when I saw them all waiting for me. I stepped off the bus to “Are you okay? Are you cold? Are you hungry?” Yes, yes and yes. I was so happy and relieved to be home, in one piece and alive.

What started out the worst Christmas Eve of my life turned into the one of the most memorable.

Unfortunately this wouldn’t be my last travel blunder.

You will have to stay tuned for those doozies.

Happy Travels!


Life lesson from a Botox consult…

I decided to get a free Botox consultation today.

There really is no way for me set that up, and most of you who know me will not at all be surprised that I would be interested in Botox. So, while half of you are rolling your eyes, I am going to assume the other half of you are like “Botox, please, you do not need that!”

It is important to remember this was a free consultation. I just want to keep my options open. Also, the office was right next door to my doctor’s office so I took it as a sign.

A charming little office that offered an option of coffee, tea, water, and an assortment of freshly baked pastries. This was my kind of office. Since I kind of just showed up without an appointment, I had to wait around for a bit. No problem! I helped myself to some freshly brewed coffee and half of a croissant.

Even though this was just a consult, and no needles would be entering my skin, I was still nervous. I did what I always do when I am nervous, I pace. I am now pacing, while guzzling my coffee with one hand, and cramming half of a croissant in my mouth with the other. No an easy thing to do.

Hanging on the wall are about ten different “before and after” pictures of women of various ages and ethnicity. I could not help but notice how these women looked pretty pissed off in the “before” shot, yet in the after, they looked about five years younger. As I took another bite of my buttery croissant, I noticed a “before” picture that had no “after” picture. Hmmm. I wonder why that was? Upon closer inspection I realized I was looking at a reflection of myself. Immediately, I spit the croissant out, with my only goal being how to achieve the “after” with the most minimal cost possible.

As I was contemplating my “plan of action” (perhaps I could plug their business on my blog in exchange for a sample procedure) I realized that this place would not be interested in my blog, or the 10 followers I have. On to “Plan B!!”

There was no time for me to figure out a “Plan B”

As my name was called by a lovely young woman who spoke as if she knew me for years, I was ushered back to the consult room. Which looked more like an OR. She told me to lay back on the table, and under the harshness of the flourescent lights, this very nice young woman took some sort of baby wipes out and started wiping my makeup off. “Yeah, I am just here for a consult. You know, explore my options.”

She never stopped with the wipes. In her high pitch a little too cheery voice she exclaimed “The doctor needs to get a full clean look of your face without the makeup on.”


For some reason it took her eight wipes to completely remove my makeup. Honestly, I did not even have that much on, which makes me wonder exactly what was coming off of my face. She offered me something to drink, told me to relax, and the doctor would be in shortly.

This should have been the time where I took out my cell and captured some pictures of the room I was in. You know, if I did not make it out alive, but I once again got distracted by the “before and after” pictures displayed on the wall. This time, an entirely different set.

Shortly there after the doctor came in. A tall, beautiful blond, who looked to be in her mid 50’s. She looked good. Not full of plastic, Botox, or fillers. I must find out her secret!

We started chatting, and I explained to her that I was only there to explore my options, get an estimate, and see if she could do anything about my mouth. She reached in to her starch white jacket, pulled out some glasses, and got all up and personal with my face. And now…..I am uncomfortable. She took her hand, tilted my head in every direction imaginable and would just quietly mutter “I see” “Hmmmm”

As quickly as she put her glasses on, she took them off and told me to stand up. She took a few minutes, was looking me up and down and then said “You do not need Botox, what you need to do is smile more. You have muscles in your cheek and if you do not use them they will atrophy, that is what will form the lines around your mouth. Just smile more, use your cheek muscles. When you are in your car, smile. When you are in your day-to-day life, smile. Trust me. You will save 500.00 if you just smile more.”

Clearly this woman does not know me at all. I do not smile. I am the perfect example of “Resting Bitch Face.” I mean don’t get me wrong. I was a little giddy that this beautiful, classy well put together doctor did not think I needed Botox, but at this point I figured it would be easier to pay 500.00 instead of making an effort to smile more.

I made my way to the wall of the “before and after” pictures and explained to her that I want to look like the after.

And then, then she got all serious and pulled out another pair of glasses. This time I am assuming they are just the every day wear glasses.

“Have a seat.”

I took a seat.

“Do you have children?”

“Yes. Four.”

“Do you have a husband?”

“Yes. One”

( I thought that was funny, nothing from her.)

“How is your health?”


“Tell me a typical daily menu for you.”


“Your eating habits. Breakfast lunch and dinner, what are they?”

“Well, first thing in the morning I have a cup of coffee. Then when I take my children to school I pick up another coffee. Then around noon or so I will have some chocolate (I could tell she was not happy with that one.) Dinner usually consist of whatever my children refused to eat, or some god awful chicken recipe I found online.”

“Do you exercise?”

“Well, no, but I always have every intention to.”

“When you consume coffee, do you do drip or go to a coffee shop?”

This was an easy one.

“I do both! Drip in the morning, coffee shop when I take my children to school.”

“How many times do you go to the coffee shop?”

It was at this point that I began to wonder if the room was bugged. My family, along with everyone else I know, are all in agreement that I go to the coffee shop too often.

“Oh, well, it just depends on the day, my stress level, the budget, you know the drill.

The beautiful doctor who seemed to be itimidating, but not really, then broke out her calculator and started to rattle numbers off to her self.

“This is what you need. You need goals, you need a plan. You do not need Botox. What you need to do is make the changes now, so when the time does come, you will have the money saved up. You need to write your goals so you have a visual, you need to put it in your car, in your bathroom, in a notebook. You need to slowly ween yourself off coffee, the coffee is not doing anything for you. It is a false hope. The sugar? That is no good. Sugar produces the same type of chemical that cocaine produces. There have been Harvard studies that say……..”

Did she just tell me to get rid of coffee?????

So to recap she wants me to smile more often and ween myself off of coffee. Does anyone else see the irony in that? To me, that just does not seem possible.

She was not finished yet.

“You see this, all of this (and she either pointed to some part on my body……or was referring to my entire body) all this can go away if you get rid of coffee and sugar.”

She then ordered me to follow her to her office. I took a seat as she reached for a scratch sheet of paper and started to write passionately. I mean if I wrote with this same kind of passion that she had, I may have been published by now.


Write goals on paper.
Decrease caffeine
1 in the am
1 in the pm
drip, cream, no sugar.

She also mentioned something about drinking chia seeds, saving my coffee money for Botox down the road, if that is what I decide to do, fresh veggies and exercise.

I was overwhelmed. Not going to lie. A needle piercing my skin ten times seemed less nerve-racking than this. I mean was I certain I was even the right office? Maybe I entered a wrong door, instead of the Botox office, I ended up in the office of a life coach?

“I want to see you back in four months. In four months we will reconnect, and if you made the proper changes, then I will be more than happy to go over the basics with you. For now, work on these goals. Feel free to make them your own. Do not say you want to lose 20 pounds, you say you want to release 20 pounds. It is all about being positive, and changing the way you think……”

Just then, the office door opened. “I am sorry to interrupt, your 10:30 is here.”

The doctor quicky said good-bye, made me promise to come back in four months, and handed me the scratch piece of paper that she wrote her notes on.

Before I knew it, I was back in my car. Some good ol Blue Oyster Cult playing on the radio while I was examineing my face in the rear view mirror, taking the last forty five minutes all in.


I had the scratch piece of paper in my hands, “Burnin For You” blasting from the radio, and I thought, maybe, just maybe, she was right.

Maybe she is on to something, and perhaps, it really does begin with a smile.

(but this whole smiling thing will take some getting used to, so no one better give me a hard time over that!)



Gracie is my 11-year-old daughter.

Gracie was diagnosed with autism two years ago. A late diagnosis that has brought plenty of challenges. For those of you that have the pleasure of knowing Gracie, you know she is feisty yet quiet, hesitant yet has no fear, an over-thinker like her father, and creative like me. She wants to learn, yet gets easily confused. Always worried about what others think, but does not have a problem calling you out if you upset her. Gracie is my third child, my first daughter, and has taught me so many life lessons along the way.

Last year, Gracie was in 5th grade, getting ready to say good-bye to elementary school. Her dad and I had to go through the agonizing decision of “what now?” It was time for middle school, and we had two options. Two options that my husband was not pleased with. If he had his way, I would be homeschooling Gracie.

Many meetings were had with Gracie’s teachers at her elementary school. Which school, which program, would best fit my daughter?

I was doing my research behind the scenes.

Finally, collectively, Gracie’s support system had narrowed it down to two schools.

School 1~ A self-contained classroom. Usually having a small group, between 5-10 students, with one on one teaching from a special ed teacher and a para. Self contained classrooms help children with special needs feel safe, while also learning.

School 2~ A resource room classroom. A separate classroom that helps students with educational disabilities. Students are given specific instruction and help, while slowly getting them used to general ed. (transitioning classes, mainstreaming)

Clearly, I wanted Gracie in a self-contained classroom. With her transitioning to middle school, I knew it would be too hard, she would get over stimulated, trying to navigate the hallways to find her class. PE. Forget it. I already knew Gracie would have issues with changing into the PE uniform. Even at 11 years old, she still needs help getting dressed.

Yep! Self contained classroom, that was Gracie’s best fit.

Imagine my surprise when Gracie’s “team” disagreed with me. Although they were supportive (Teacher, Speech Therapist, School Psychologist) they assured me that they had all the confidence in the world with Gracie. There was no doubt in their mind that she would blossom in a resource room setting.

I of course thought they were nuts.

My husband and I talked it over for hours on end. Each and every night, we would talk, weigh the pros and cons, go over everything with a fine tooth comb. Finally, we relented and said we could try to do the resource room school. In all honesty, the only reason we ended up agreeing on that is because the school in general had better reviews than the school that offered the self-contained classroom.

And so a new journey begins.

When my husband and I took Gracie to her new school to pick up her new schedule, she had a breakdown. A full fledge breakdown. Crying, yelling “I hate this school, I am not coming here!”

When I took Gracie to 6th grade “camp” at her new school (a time for the new 6th graders to get to know their new school) another breakdown.

When the principal came over, Gracie had no problem telling him “I want to go home and I want to go home now!”

The principal gave us permission to go home.

At this point, I was beating myself up for not pushing for a self-contained classroom, and my husband was thisclose to telling Gracie she did not have to go to school.

I was fighting an uphill battle.

My new school routine with Gracie.

I could only walk her to her class when there were no other kids around. I had to make sure the halls were empty, and, the school grounds were clear.

When her teacher walked her out at the end of the day, I had to make sure I was standing right there, in my same spot, next to the flag pole.

I had to straighten her hair every day and pack her the same lunch of a ham sandwich, juice box, a bag of sour cream and onion chips and an oatmeal Little Debbie.

I could not ask her about her day. If I did, a breakdown would follow.

Every night before bed she would tell me “I just want to die, I do not want to go to school”

Every morning when I would wake Gracie up, I was greeted with “Do I really have to go to school today?”

I was blaming myself. I should have fought harder, I just KNEW Gracie was not ready for a resource room atmosphere.

My husband and I were struggling. Do we let this play out? Do we ask for a transfer to a new school? A school that offers a self-contained class room? Do we put Gracie through the stress of adapting to something new again, when she is already struggling? It was hard. Lots of fights, disagreements, questioning on if we were good parents.

Then, something started to change.

Gracie would have lunch with another autistic boy, in a quiet place away from the stress of the cafeteria.

When I would take Gracie to school, she would look at me with her almond shape brown eyes and ask “Can I walk by myself to class?”

When I picked her up from school she would tell me “School was boring, but I will come back.”

Gracie no longer needed to see me standing by the flag pole. It was now safe for me to sit on the benches….a safe distance away from the flag pole.

When I gave Gracie the opportunity to stay home from school because she would have a substitute in all of her classes for three days straight, she told me “No mom, I have to go to school so I do not fall behind.”

This is pretty powerful. It shows me that Gracie is willing to go through the hard things now, because she knows it will make her future things easier.

A shift was taking place.

The same kind of shift her former teachers knew would happen, but I was too blind to see.

Let me explain. These teachers are trained to see things that sometimes, we as the parents cannot see. We, as parents, want to protect are children, keep them safe and help navigate them through life.

These teachers, Gracie’s teachers, old and new, Gracie’s support system, at her former school and current school, saw the bigger picture. They were able to see things neither I or Gracie were able to see.

They were able to see Gracie’s strength in a different view.

Her teachers and I were looking through the same lens, just from a different advantage point.

My daughter is making progress.

That is all I ever wanted, that is what I need.

What we need.


Progress at Gracie’s pace.



Glue (Part 1)

She was sitting at her computer in her tiny three bedroom duplex. It’s barely after 10pm. She has a house full. Any hope of getting any kind of work done is quickly forgotten about. Aside from her own children, there were two toddlers occupying her living room and her space. Not just her physical space, but her mental space too. She was in a bad place. Something needed to give or else she would break.

She remembers when she was a little girl, running around in her childhood home. She accidentally broke her mother’s favorite vase. With the help of her older brother, they quickly glued as much of it as they could back in place. The finished result? Is it possible it looked better than the original? Sure, it was a messy fit, yet, it gave the vase character. Is that what needs to happen to her? Does she need to break so she can be fixed, messy and different, but still in working order, fixed?
Her husband knows how she feels. If anything through this entire mess, she can say she has always been truthful with her husband. She was not happy and something was not working. The glue was becoming unglued, and now, there was no more glue on hand to put the pieces back in place. She understands that her husband is caught between a rock and a hard place. She understands that there are no easy answers, what she did not understand is why he did not just run to the store to buy more glue?
Of course she is fully capable of buying the glue on her own. Maybe that is exactly what needs to happen. She needs to fix what is broken without relying on anyone else to. Then at the end of it all, she can say “I did it, I fixed what needed to be fixed.”
Yet…that did not seem to be enough.

Last Call

Twelve years ago, Christin and I had a much-needed night out. The following is our take on that night, one story told by two different perspectives. A night, that in many was the end of the beginning.


It was Friday night. After a long week at work and dealing with the daily stress that comes with being a single working mom, Christin, Shawn and I decided we deserved a night out. Babysitters had been in place since Monday, outfits were a last-minute decision. Just because I was now a full-time mother, I still wanted to look pretty, well, as pretty as I thought I could. Christin and I were on a tighter schedule than Shawn, yet we made it work. Just a few hours out, at the local bar would do me some good. An opportunity to regroup without worrying about dirty diapers, playdates or the usual stress from work. The plan was for Christin and Shawn to meet me at my apartment by 9pm.

There we were, the three of us. If you were an outsider, you would say you could not find a more diverse group than Christin, Shawn and me. An insider would know we all had more in common than one would think. Little did we know, that by the end of the night, our bond would be even stronger than it already was.

PJ Pockets was our local pool joint. It had incredible greasy bar food, with a small dance floor that left a local up and coming band to play occasionally. I loved the music. Music is what feelings sound like, and tonight, tonight I just wanted to listen to the music.
We found our usual round table in the not yet crowded bar, took our seats and did what we always do. Ordered our drinks, along with an “appetizer” making sure we had something to nibble on so our our buzz did not get out of hand too fast.

PJ Pockets was quickly filling up. Somewhere between my third vodka and coke, Christin’s long island, and Shawn’s sampler platter, I noticed a line now at the door. The three of us had our table secured, and we would stay at that table until last call.  Conversation flowed nicely. Never any awkwardness between us. We shared work stories, the trials and tribulations of raising kids, and we were all asked countless questions about our dating life, or lack thereof. I was single. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed this.

As Mathcbox 20’s “3am” blared from the speakers, the gentleman at the table next to us asked me if he could use the extra chair that was at our table. I did a quick glance over at his table and noticed about eight very large Samoans, with one of them left with nowhere to sit. “Sure, no problem!” He grabbed the chair, positioned it so it was next to mine, took a seat in it, while the gentleman left standing, took the now empty chair. Well. This is awkward.

I glanced at Christin and Shawn, who were looking at each other. I knew them well enough to know they were talking with their eyes. They both gave me a “nod” indicating to me “It’s okay for now, we are here.”  Introductions were quickly made, while Shawn ordered another round of. I was chatting it up with my new friend, Vico. I learned that his fellow Samoans that were sitting a whopping two feet away were his brothers and cousins. This was his first night out since  “coming home” (not exactly sure what that meant) and the family decided to take him out, yet here he was talking to me. As I am downing my vodka and coke, not quite sure what it was I was supposed to do or say, I found myself wondering if there was anyway possible this guy could be related to my ex. My ex was also Samoan/Tongan and if you go down the family tree long enough, it usually ends with everyone being related somehow. This kinda made me happy.

My ex was not a very good person. Some would say he was evil. Some would be right. In my own little “Jen Logic” way, I thought to myself “how funny would it be if this guy was indeed related to my ex, and somehow my ex found out that I was chatting it up with his cousin who was most likely five times removed.” Immediately I took more of an interest in what Vico had to say.

About five minutes later, Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” was playing. I looked at Christin, she looked at me “This is our song!” and it was. We had history to that song. Apparently my excitement of hearing “Hanging by a Moment” led Vico to believe he could come in and kiss me. I am sitting there, enjoying my drink, enjoying the music, sorta-kinda enjoying Vico and then boom, he kisses me. Not a quick kiss mind you. It was a long passionate kiss, right there at the table. I was caught off guard, and then I went with it, and then, it went on a little longer than I liked and I stopped it. I pulled away, noticeing Christin and Shawn were looking at me with their eyes as big as saucers and their mouths wide open. I glance at Vico’s table hoping none of them noticed. One of the older gentlemen did not look happy at all. He was sitting there, arms crossed on his chest, pretty much “mean mugging” me. Really? It is not as if Vico had an open invitation into my mouth…even though he thought he did. Vico ended up going back to his table, and my focus was now back to Christin and Shawn, and of course my vodka and coke.

As the night progressed, the drinks kept coming. Shawn attempted to teach Christin and I how to play darts, and well, that did not end up well. Twelve plus years later, I still have the scar to prove it.

Christin and I were at our limit, and then some. Clearly we had too much to drink. With Shawn being our DD we figured, “what the hell, let’s have another before last call.”  We had three more rounds.

About thirty minutes before “Last Call” I had to use the restroom. Christin asked if I wanted her to come with me. I looked towards the restroom, noticed there was no line and told her I would be fine.  The restroom was empty. I could feel the vodka and coke catching up to me. I knew I had a small window to get some food into me, or else I would be useless. As I am washing my hands, the door opens. My hands are filled with cheap soapy lather, and before I knew it, Vico is behind me. He wraps his hands around my waist and starts kissing my neck. I am simultaneously trying to squirm out of his embrace while finding a way to dry my hands. “What are you doing , you can’t be in here.!” He was not letting go. My mind was racing. I was always taught how to get out of situations like this. You kick them in the balls. Vico was behind me. You go for the nose, full force, with everything you have, you always go for the nose…. again, he was behind me. I  found myself wondering exactly how stupid could he be to try anything in a public restroom with a bar full of people outside.

As soon as Vico heard the bathroom door open, he took his hands off of me, yet refused to leave. “Jen, you in here, everything okay?” Christin! It was Christin. As soon as she saw Vico, and I am assuming the look on my face, she ordered me to follow her . “Let’s go, we are ready to leave.” Vico told Christin that I was okay, that I would be out in a minute, and told Christin to leave. Christin is not a stupid person and refused to leave. Although, now it put us in a tough spot. Vico was blocking the door. Trying to usher Christin out while keeping me inside. I was starting to feel dizzy thanks to my vodka and coke.  I knew I had to keep it together. This guy was bound to pounce on my weakness, and I could not allow that.

Everything after that happened so fast. The restroom door opened one last time. It was Shawn. Shawn took one look at Vico, one look at Christin and me “You mother fucker, you better get out of here.” Vico ran.

Shawn asked both Christin and I if we were okay. A little rattled but fine. The three of us left the restroom with no sign of Vico or his crew in site.

We ordered our third last round. My nerves we shot to hell. Just thinking of the “what if” scenario. One would think after a situation like that, we would have sobered up real fast. Not the case. That last drink put both Christin and I over the edge. Two classy looking girls stumbling to the car. Nice. I passed out in the backseat while Christin took the front. Shawn had his hands full.

When we returned to my apartment, Shawn ordered me to stay in the car while he walked Christin up, then he would come back for me. In my drunken stupor, I decided that I could make the long walk all by myself because I was fine!

I was not fine. I was anything but fine. I passed out in the grass. My last thoughts were of Vico and what could have happened. I was being punished for something. Somehow I always seemed to mess up. My vodka and coke told me all I needed to do was sleep. Just go to sleep on the cold wet grass and in the morning everything would be fine. When Shawn found me laying on grass, he did everything in his power to get me up. I am not sure what his last words were to me, but I reluctantly got up and made that long stumbling walk to the safety of my apartment where I immediately passed out.

That night changed a lot of things. In a few short months, I would be dating Shawn, then I would break up with Shawn. Shortly after that, Shawn and Christin would give it a try. It was never weird between us. The three of us wanted each other to be happy. Shawn was the not the guy for neither Christin or myself. I hope over the years he found the right girl for him, and I hope, he never forgets how important he was to us, how in many ways, he saved both Christin and I that night. In more ways than one, that night was our Last Call.



I had been looking forward to this night for a while. I hadn’t been out in 2+ years and was overdue to for a night out with friends, not to mention, having a drink or two. A babysitter was in place, yet I was feeling anxious about leaving Kharizma for the time since she was born, other than to go to work.  My good friend/babysitter assured me she would be fine, but still I shed a few tears before getting ready. As I slipped into some new jeans, and a cute top, I couldn’t help but to get excited. Jen and I hadn’t been out in years—both of us were doing the mom thing. Pulling out my favorite black boots and actually doing my hair, instead of the messy bun I was used to, made me feel good—and ready for whatever the night had in store for us.

I arrived at Jen’s about 8:45pm. Jen and I nominated Shawn to drive us—he didn’t have a choice. Outnumbered, he got in the driver’s seat and we were off.

PJ Pockets was packed. Weekends always brought the crowds out. Jen and I played some pool while Shawn stood by closely, trying to give us pointers on how to play. After seeing how we couldn’t even hit 1 ball–he walked away and got us a table. Even the most patient person can’t deal with both Jen and I at the same time. It’s like the blind leading blind. Shawn was no exception.

Being the good friend he was, Shawn had our drinks waiting at the table when we came back. Vodka and coke for Jen and for me, a long island iced tea.

I had noticed a table next to us, about 8 or 9 big Samoan guys. They were talking in their native language, so we didn’t know what they were saying, but they kept looking over at our table. We joked amongst ourselves that they were talking crap about what an odd group the three of us were. Whatever. Nothing was going to ruin this rare night out for me or Jen.

Conversation amongst the three of us was easy. We talked about our current love lives, or there lack of and, of course, the endless drama at work. There was always something going on there. The latest gossip was about an assistant manager who was caught in the office…kissing an associate. The scandal was the talk of the store—and our little table. As we were chatting away, enjoying ourselves, I saw one of the Samoan guys come over. He introduced himself as Vico, and sat down in the chair next to Jen. After some initial awkwardness, Vico joined in the conversation. He explained that he just got back into town, and was celebrating with his boys. About this time, “Hanging by a Moment” by Lifehouse began blaring over the speakers. Jen and I made eye contact and at the same time exclaimed—this is our song! So many memories of living in our old apartment was attached to this one song. Both good and bad, as you know.

I took a sip of my drink and looked up…

Jen and Vico were making out!

What did I miss?

My first instinct was to punch him out, but I knew as long as she was with Shawn and I close by, it wouldn’t get carried away. Besides, she deserved a little fun. With all she had been through with T, Jen, of all people, needed to let loose and forget about that loser. If that fun came in the form of some handsome Samoan’s lips—then so be it. Even so, my guard was up.

Shawn and I continued our conversation while Jen and Vico got acquainted. 

Just as quickly as it began—it ended.

Vico whispered something in Jen’s ear and left. He went back to his table, telling all his boys about his homecoming kiss, I’m sure. Jen was on her 3rd or 4th vodka and coke, and by this time I’d lost count of how many I had.

It was a bad idea at the time, but Shawn offered to teach us how to play darts. I don’t recommend drinking and darting—the scar on Jen’s arm is a testament to that.

Last Call was nearing, both Jen and I had to get our final drinks in. Shawn ordered us our final round along with his Pepsi.  Jen and I were beyond tipsy. The floor was spinning and Shawn looked like he had a third eye.

Jen got up to go to the bathroom. I offered to go with her, a habit from the good old days I guess. Back in our party days we always made sure to go together, just in case.

“I can go by myself—it’s just right there” she pointed about 10 feet away.

“Ok, I’m going to grab the check so we can split it”

Jen made her way towards the bathroom while I went to the bar area to get our tab. It took about 5 minutes to grab the waitress’s attention, but finally I walked back to the table with the check in hand.

“Where’s Jen? She’s not back yet?” I asked Shawn, after making my way back to the table.

“No, you know Jen, she’s probably fixing her hair or make-up”

He had a point. Jen always was fixing herself, making sure she looked impeccable.

Shawn and I calculated the tab, splitting it three ways.

Jen was still not back. I had a bad feeling as I got up and slowly walked (swayed) to the bathroom.

I opened the door, and came around the corner to see Vico pinning Jen to the sink.

Vico stopped struggling and turned around. Jen was able to unpin herself and turn around. The fear in her eyes is something I had seen very few times–but this was one of them. I started walking towards them, trying to keep steady.

“Jen, it’s time to go”

Vico started walking towards me, blocking my path from Jen.

“It’s okay, we are good— we’ll be out in a minute” Vico said. He was about 6’3” and 250 lbs. of pure muscle.

What the hell was I supposed to do now?

I knew I wasn’t leaving that bathroom without my friend. I knew that both Jen and I might get hurt but I wasn’t leaving. I kept saying “Jen we got to go…its last call”.  I was trying to get by but he wasn’t budging. I could tell Jen was on the verge of tears.

After what felt like forever, Shawn walked in the women’s bathroom and saw the three of us standing there. He looked at Vico straight in his eyes and told him that he better get out of there now. Vico, knew he was in a losing battle, and walked out. I grabbed Jen, and the three of us quickly walked out to the table and sat down. Drinking our last drinks, Shawn kept asking if we were okay. Both Jen and I were shaken up a bit, but Shawn was too. I could tell by the way he kept looking around—presumably for Vico.

We paid our tab and somehow, with one of us on each side of Shawn, he semi-carried both of us out to the car.

Jen got in the back seat and laid down. I got in the front and seat, placing my feet on the dashboard. What just happened?

We had been in some sticky situations before, but this…this was different. This was a close call.

I awoke to Shawn telling me we were at the apartment. He told Jen he would be back for her. Slowly, with my arm slung over his neck and his arm around my waist, we made it up the stairs.

I laid down on the couch and vaguely remember Jen walking in the door with grass in her hair and on her face.

All the what-if’s were swirling in my mind. What if I hadn’t walked in when I did? What if Shawn hadn’t come in when he did? Jen and I had lived on the brink of danger for so many years—but somehow we came away virtually unscathed.

Except for tonight. This one couldn’t be forgotten.

Soon after our night out, Jen and Shawn dated for a while. It didn’t work out and somehow, Shawn and I decided to give it a shot. A few dates later, we realized we were better off just friends. He will forever hold a special place in my heart—for the time that he saved my best friend and me from something—someone bad. This was one of our last nights out for Jen and I— it was a night that we’ll most likely never forget. The night of our “last call”.


various type of alcoholic drinks isolated on white

Just another Friday…

My alarm went off at its usual time of 6am. With it being Friday, I was feeling pretty good for only having four hours of sleep. It’s Friday, just need to get through today, then I can relax. I jumped out of bed telling myself my daily mantra of “Let’s do this!”

As soon as I got out of bed I tripped on something. Most likely a cat. The screeching “meow” I heard kind of tipped me off. Dumb cat, you would think they would know my routine by now.  At this time, I knew I only had five minutes to make it to the bathroom, our one and only bathroom mind you, before Vinnie, my 15-year-old, made his way in there. I will grab my robe and then make a mad dash to the bathroom before he takes his usual 30 minute shower. Problem…I cannot find my robe, and being that I have a house full of people, I need my robe.

Okay…where is my robe? Why does everyone touch my things? I bet Joe moved it as he was getting ready for work, and now I am clearly annoyed. I do not touch his clothes, unless I am doing laundry, so why does he feel the need to move mine?!

The bathroom door slams closed, which means I now have to wait 30 minutes to take a shower. Crap! Why does my son take longer to get ready than I do? I yank one of Joes shirts off the hanger and throw it on. I justify this by telling myself “Well…he moved my robe so I am moving his shirt, on to my body, so HA!”

I manuever my way to the kitchen while tripping over another cat. Thankfully, it is not the new cat that I kinda snuck in the house, two weeks ago. Hmmm. I wonder if my husband has noticed, or is he still playing dumb? Whatever, it is too early for this. Coffee, I need my coffee! I make coffee every single day of the year, all 365 days I make coffee. So, why, why is it on this particular morning can’t I remember if I poured the water into the keurig or not? Probably not. I pour the water in, grab a K-cup and I wait for my much-needed coffee.

Coffee pot overflowed. Apparently I had previously filled the keurig with water. Whatever. I cannot deal with this. I still need to find my robe, and I need the bathroom, and coffee, and….oh my god, did I seriously just trip over another cat? How many do I have now? Well, it does not matter, because all of my cats (except one) have been in this house long enough to know my routine.

Now I am 30 minutes behind schedule, yet I am not quite ready to wake up the kids…so……I will jump on Facebook! Who knows if I missed some important update of a picture of someone’s breakfast.

Finally my 15-year-old emerges from the bathroom reeking of Axe body spray. Kill me now. Don’t get me wrong, the “scent” of Axe body spray is so much more appealing than body odor, but…really? It’s a thing with me. I adore cologne on guys. With the right scent, cologne is a very classy addition to your every day look. Axe Body Spray, well, that just does not do it.

Trying to control my gag reflex, I listen to my son tell me his schedule for the day. “Mom…what are you wearing?” Ugh. Why does he feel the need to critique my pajamas of all things. I mean I have not even had coffee yet, and I know he is going to make fun of me for something. “Are you wearing dad’s shirt over your robe?” What is he talking about? I look down, oh, well look at that, I must have fallen asleep with my robe on.

Let’s recap. I have been up for an hour. I am 30 minutes behind schedule. I spent about twenty minutes looking for my robe, that I had on the entire time. I tripped over a few of my cats, and somehow screwed up my coffee.  All in the span of an hour. I am afraid to see what the rest of the day has to offer.

I am just going to bullet point the rest of my day, otherwise we will be here all night.

• Got into a slight argument with the principal at Gracie’s school.

• I was totally winning the argument until he realized that I was the mother of Vinnie.

• Almost fell asleep during some parent meeting at Sofia’s school.

• Probably best for the PTA president to NOT fall asleep during a meeting.

• Extended an olive branch to one of my three mortal enemies.

• Almost got hit (AGAIN) in the school parking lot (not by my mortal enemy, by a car)

• Apparently I am in denial about having a cold.

• I never get sick, so it is very important that I keep this record going.

• My 101 fever tells me I “might” be sick. (but this stays just between us)

• I wonder how many people I came in contact with today? Does not matter, because I am not sick!

• Gracie told a woman in the school office who was picking up her “son” that she was too old to be a mother.

• Come to find out Gracie was right, the woman was the grandmother.

• I was gifted a Starbucks coffee travel mug this morning, which makes my coffee story, (or lack there of) even more funny.

If you ever wondered how it is I came about the name of Vodka Calling…..well…now you know.