Walking Disaster

That pretty much summed up my day today.

To begin, I somehow managed to nick a very important body part in my daily grooming process. I have no idea how this happened, but it did. This minor injury has left me walking much like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Although if you ask my boys, they say I have a new “swag” to my walk. I decided I am going to take that as a compliment. I have a very busy week, so this little injury needs to hurry up and go away, or else I will have a lot of explaining to do.

Christin introduced me to the “Buy Nothing” sites on Facebook. You know the ones, it’s pretty much an online yard sale, except there is no “sale.” Someone will post a picture of a coffee pot. “Need gone ASAP, first one to be able to pick up, it’s yours!” I am only three days in, but an intervention may be in order. I have already received four coffee cups with matching placemats, an unopened bottle of NyQuill, a few unopened packets of Top Ramen, a crock pot and my personal favorite, a gaming chair.

What makes this little endeavor of mine absolutely perfect, is all items I pick up will be saved for a “Holiday Bazar” at Sofia’s school. And incase you are not paying attention, that means no money will come out of the PTA budget, and all money raised will go directly towards the school. My mission for the next three months is to collect all I can, so this school can have the biggest and best Holiday Bazar it has ever seen.

For some reason Vinnie thinks this is illegal, while AJ now calls me “The Hustler.” However it is important to note that I do disclose to all people who I pick up from my intended use. So, pretty much I am a genius.

I had to pick up a gaming chair today and took Vinnie with me. This was not a “porch pickup” (where said item is left on the porch) and in the event that I would be coming face to face with my killer, I wanted Vinnie there as a witness.

Naturally, I walk up to the wrong apartment, because I cannot even read my own handwriting. As soon as I realized my mistake, I crossed the building to the correct apartment number. I politely ring the doorbell, while Vinnie is standing guard on the bottom level. Behind the closed-door I hear Cujo. Great, I am going to be mauled to death, and I smell like bacon.

A lovely gentleman opens the door, quickly comes out while slamming the door on Cujo’s face. We then make a long walk to his garage where I could not help but think this would be the perfect spot for a kidnapping. My parents always taught us kids to “always be aware of your surroundings.” Aware I was. This garage was secluded. My saving grace was not Vinnie, it was the fact that this lovely gentleman seemed to be a hoarder. Even if he wanted to kill me, there would be no room for my body in his garage. Packed floor to ceiling with “stuff.” Stuff that I am sure will be posted on my new “Buy Nothing” site.

Naturally, the lovely gentleman started talking to me, because I guess I just have one of those faces. I learned that he was a Green Beret, he showed me all of his tattoos, he told me his apartment complex sucks and he  is moving to Tacoma. He did some weird “flexing” thing with his arm, which to me looked like something a heroin addict would do to find a vein, but who am I to judge?! I learned that his daughters go to the same school as Sofia, and then I was finally able to relax. Vinnie wanted to hear more about his Army days, but at this point, I was ready to leave. Remember that “minor injury” I was talking about in the beginning of this post, well, it was “acting up” as I was talking to this gentleman. Most likely I looked like I needed to find a restroom ASAP. I am just grateful he did not offer me his. Cujo would not approve.

Tomorrow, I am getting my yearly mammogram……and as luck would have it, you guys are coming with me! Yes, you read that correctly. I decided to document it all, with hopes to show some women out there that a mammogram is easy peasy, and it is pretty important. Be your own advocate! So I will bite the bullet and document it all….minue the boobs of course. You are welcome.

I am sure some of you are taking that as a warning to stay away from the blog tomorrow.

Just be thankful I am not posting pictures of my “minor injury.”

 

~Jennifer

ill-see-your-hot-mess-raise-you-a-walking-5006517

 

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Jen’s Sunday Night

Once again, Christin and I are working hard on editing our book. Here’s the thing with the “editing” process. Writing the damn book is easier than the edits. At the last minute, we got the call that our very last chapter needed to be reworked.

I was able to knock mine out pretty fast, while Christin had some other things she needed to tend to. As I am writing, and editing, and doing more rewrites,  I was suddenly taken back in time.

July 2003

For my birthday, my brother sent me a beautifully wrapped gift set of my all time favorite Brad Pitt movies.

Let me explain something.

“Legends of the Fall” came out in 1994. As soon as it came to VHS, I watched it. I watched it in the comfort of my apartment, with my first husband and his sister. I hated both of them. My first husband was basically a piece of shit who did absolutely nothing. When I say nothing, I literally mean nothing. I had to go to my parents, asking for money to buy the baby diapers and formula, because he refused to work.

So when my first husband and his sister wanted to have a “movie night” and watch “Legends of the Fall” I wanted to impale myself. As the two fools are sitting inches away from the t.v screen, I am tending to AJ while trying to clean up my crappy mouse infested apartment. I am not even kidding. I would wake up in the morning, and on a daily basis see at least two dead mice in our toilet….and let’s not even talk about the live ones you would here scampering around on the wood floors.

The two idiots are oblivious to what is going on around them. Fine by me. Maybe I will call my sister when I am finished cleaning.

Then something odd happened. As I am picking up clothes, and sweeping, something drew me to the t.v screen. Before I knew it I was transfixed. I was unable to look away. It was the part in the movie  when Tristan leaves the ranch. In that moment, I knew right then and there I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to perform something as powerful as the story that was  in front of me on the screen, I wanted to do something creative, something artistic that would evoke the same emotion in others as Brad Pitt’s Tristen was doing for me.

Nine years later, a few random auditions for “extra’s” under my belt.

July, 2003. My love for acting and brad Pitt had never faltered. Knowing this, my brother sent me Legends of the Fall, A River Runs Through It, Thelma and Louise, and Kalafornia as an early birthday present. This was an amazing gift. At the time, my brother was only 19, and I am sure his earnings from working at a gym cost him a pretty penny to send me those movies. Yet, he did it because he “got me.” My brother knew I wanted to be an actress and knew Brad Pitt was the one who ignited that spark.

I cried tears of happiness when I saw the movies from my brother. Quickly, I called him, and professed my gratitude.

Later that night, my boyfriend at the time, T, came home from work. We were having somewhat of a “chill” night, and decided to watch a movie. Naturally, we could not decide on one.

Excitedly, I got up, went to the closet, grabbed my movies and showed T. “Look what my brother sent me for my birthday! We can watch one of these, I think you will like Kalafornia.”

It only took a matter of seconds before I realized what I had just done.

The anger took over his eyes. Jealousy took over his body.

“Are you fucking telling me you want to watch some white boy who you want to fuck. And you want me to sit here and watch it with you. Fuck that.”

T took every single movie and cracked it open. He did this with his hands, he did this with using my head. All of my movies, the very movies my brother worked hard for, they were now ruined.

I was crushed. Broken hearted. Shattered.

Not because of the physical abuse. I can handle that. Many people do not think so, but I am pretty tough when I have to be. This time was different. I knew the blood would stop. I knew from past experience it would only take about fifteen minutes before my head would stop throbbing. Easy, not a problem.

What crushed me was, the guilt I felt. I felt I did not defend my brother. I felt my silence was T’s way of thinking it was okay to ruin the movies my brother worked his ass off for. How could I allow T to destroy something that meant the world to me? I was devastated. I hated myself.

……

I never told my brother what happened. I was ashamed. Embarrassed. I also knew that my brother is pretty bad ass and one way or another my brother would have made T pay.

Thankfully, my brother is away on a job and does not have internet access. He will not read this, and I know no one will tell him.

I spoke to Christin tonight about how this particular story was on my mind, and I feel I need to write about it. She said to me, “Jen, have you ever thought about writing an open letter to T on the blog? A way to let your feelings out in a safe place?”

She makes a good point.

However, my letter would only consist of….

Asshole,

If I ever see you again. If you ever come in contact with me, with my family, with my friends, I will kill you with my own bare hands. You are safe in jail where you can be someone’s bitch. I dare you, I fucking dare you to try to find me.

I am not sure why this particular story was so heavy on my heart. Maybe because my brother has been gone. Maybe because of my book edits. Maybe because just tonight we found out 10 Navy Sailors are missing in another “collision.” I do not know.

The only thing I do know is, I am not the same girl I once was….and the acting bug, well that’s never going to leave.

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My annual apology letter to my kids’ new teachers.

It’s that time of year again where I write an apology letter to the new teachers that have the pleasure of teaching my children for the 2017-2018 school year.

(If you missed my last two letters, you can read them below.)

An early apology letter to my kid’s teacher

Another apology letter for a new school year.

Dear Vinnie’s Teachers,

Vinnie is now a Junior. As you know, we are trying a different path with him. This path will lead us all to the same destination, which is our end goal.

Vinnie is a good kid, very motivated by making money, very business savvy. He gets easily distracted, while sometimes allowing “peer pressure” to dictate his path. If you can look beyond his baggy jeans and tendency to mumble, you will see he has the ability to be successful.

I need you to see the bigger picture, I need you to see that despite circumstances, he can go places. While I am at home helping Vinnie see his own potential, I would ask of you to believe in him just as I do. Vinnie needs that one person, aside from Mom and Dad to see he is capable of so much more than whatever statistic society may have laid upon him. I am here for him, I am here for you. Together, I believe we can do great things.

 

Dear Gracie’s Teachers,

Second verse, same as the first! You guys know how I am. You know me, you know Gracie. You know what works and you know what doesn’t. My biggest fear with Gracie is that she and her IEP will get lost in the system. I cannot have that. Gracie is a freaking genius, you just have to find that different way of teaching to light that spark.

Art. If you want to know Gracie, give her a pen, paper, maybe a few markers, and she will go to town. If you look closely enough, you will see what she is trying to say. Find that connection, you will not regret it.

Do not let the seizures intimidate you. Look, I know it’s scary. Truth be told you have seen more seizures than I have. Continue what you are doing, while being aware that Gracie needs routine, she needs to feel comfortable, and most importantly, she needs to find that connection, that extra something that may not be the norm. I believe you have it. I will do my part, I believe in Gracie, and I believe in you and her team…..together, we can do great things.
Dear Sofia’s Teacher,

Oh you are going to get so sick of me. I can already see it. Somehow you picked the short straw and got stuck with me as a parent. As you know, I am at your school daily. As you also know you have a student in your class who likes to pick on Sofia. I need to trust you. I need to be able to know that you have my daughters back. Sofia has dealt with this kid since kindergarten. While I am teaching Sofia to find her voice and be more assertive, I need to know you will have my back. Allow Sofia to have her voice.

This is her last year of elementary school. I want her to go out with a bang. Give Sofia her wings for middle school, and in return, I will back you up. A united front. I will do my part, and all I ask is you do not allow Sofia, with her soft voice and shy demeanor to get lost in the crowd….together, the three of us can do great things.

 

Dear Teachers & Staff,

For those days that are challenging, whether it is a student, a parent, or maybe a coworker. For the days that you just want to call it quits, throw in the towel, the days that you go home at night and ask yourself “what is the point, I no longer enjoy this.” I am here to tell you, push through. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You make a difference. You have made a difference with me, you have made difference with my own children….and I know I am not the only parent.

It can be a simple “Hey, how are you doing today?” It can be “Jack, how’s it going at home?” It can be as simple as asking the right question at the right time, every single one of you make a difference. I appreciate you all, I believe in you, I know you do not have it easy, I also know you have made a difference, and you will continue to do great things….because it is in your heart, it is in your core, and you, each one of you who are reading this, you are the real MVP. You have not only changed me, you have changed my children. You have been that spark….and you will continue to do so.

 

 

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Jen & Christin Get Fired From Wal-Mart (On the same day)

As long time readers of the blog, many of you will remember that Christin and I used to work at Wal-Mart at the same time. Collectively, we have so many interesting , borderline traumatizing Wal-Mart Stories just sitting on the back burner, waiting to be shared. This is one of them.

As long time readers of the blog, it will come as no surprise to you that interestingly enough, Christin and I happened to get fired from Wal-Mart on the exact same day. The reason we were wrongfully terminated will be saved for another time. This particular story picks up directly after we both were fired, again, on the same day.

Minutes apart.

Jennifer

As I am being escorted out of the store by a member of management, I am trying hard to plead my case. The challenge was making these idiots realize that they were just plain wrong in terminating me. I realize it sounds like I am making excuses, I assure you I am not. It was almost as if they had it planned all along.

My (now former) manager wanted to hear nothing. She was kinda a bitch that way. I mean at one point as were we walking down the aisle, I believe she was applying her lipstick. This is what I am dealing with.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot Christin in the Infant Department. She was zoning, looked at me, looked at my (now former) manager, and gave me the “What the hell” look.

Christin

I was working in my department just like any other day, when I looked up and saw Jen being escorted out by the bitchy assistant Manager who also happened to be name Jennifer. As we made eye contact, Jen screamed “They are firing us! Get ready you’re next! Meet me in the parking lot!”

I had no idea what was going on. Fired for what? I was a few months pregnant with my
2nd child and was having a terrible time with morning sickness, could that be why? I anxiously awaited for them to call me back to the office, which inevitable came 5 minutes later.

“Department Manager Christin, please come to the office” echoed through the store.

I slowly made my way back to the office.

5 minutes later I was also being escorted out of the building per company policy when one is getting fired for something utterly ridiculous.

Jen was waiting in the parking lot, sipping on her diet Dr Pepper.

“What the fuck just happened?” I said, trying to process the last 10 minutes of events.

Jennifer

Sitting in our respective cars in the Wal-Mart parking lot, wondering what the hell just
happened,  both realizing the all-too true fact that we were now screwed, we headed over to Target. Not to apply for a job, but to have a mental breakdown in the parking lot.

Christin was a single mom, and newly pregnant. I had the boys. Joe was already working two jobs. The loss of my income would hit us hard. I was worried Joe would be mad, disappointed me. I knew I had to tell him, and decided to do so by taking the easy way out. With Christin sitting behind the drivers wheel, I mustered the courage to walk my now jobless ass to the pay phone. It just so happened it was his day off.

Jen ~ I have to tell you something, but you will get mad.

Joe ~ What’s wrong?

Jen ~ Well, Christin and I kinda got fired and I am sorry, I have no idea what to do!

Joe ~ Don’t worry about it, come home and we will figure it out.

I jumped back into Christin’s car. As she drove me to my car I told her how Joe seemed to be supportive. For me, that was one obstacle down. There would however be many more in my path.

Christin

Still in shock, I dropped Jen off at her car and drove home. I needed some time to think. About a month before, I had broken up with my boyfriend ( the baby’s dad), which resulted in him moving out. A week later, I found out I was pregnant. Timing has never been my thing. Clearly.

Later that afternoon, I called Jen over to the apartment.

“What are we going to do?”
.
“I don’t know. We need to come up with a plan,” Jen said. But first you need to tell Will (baby’s dad).

I called Will up and told him he needed to come to the apartment ASAP.

And for the first time, he actually listened.

Jennifer

After Joe assured me that everything will be fine, telling me he will pick up a second job if need be, I headed over to Christin’s apartment, which was just the next building over. Joe had done so much, I could not add to his already full plate. And Christin, she had her hands full. Being newly single, then newly pregnant, and now newly fired, and then there was me. I will be turning 30 in a few days (which ironically turned out to be the least of my worries) I was more newly pregnant than Christin (although despite popular belief, we did not plan it that way) and now we can add newly fired on our list of screw ups. I had to come up with a plan to help take the weight off of everyone’s shoulder.

I walked in Christin’s apartment and knew I had my work cut out for me. Quickly I made a pot of coffee for myself, while pouring her a glass of ice water.

“What are we going to do?” An irrational Christin asked.

“I do not know, I will come up with a plan. First things first, you need to call Will.

Half an hour later I am on my second cup of coffee watching Christin pace the carpet back and forth, back and forth. Will walks in the door.

“What’s going on?”

Hysterically, Christin gives him the rundown of the last four hours.

“Shit! What are you going to do?”

I give the guy a pass. He was in the apartment of his newly ex girlfriend who was barely into her pregnancy. I am not sure what the proper form of etiquette is in a situation like this, although I am certain “Oh Shit!” is not one of them.

Giving them their space, I silently sipped on my coffee while listening to their extremely awkward conversation.

“That’s it Will, we just need to get back together. You need to move back in ASAP!”

It was at this point that I spat my coffee all over my shirt.

“Christin, we are not getting back together. You need to calm down. In your heart you know that us getting back together would not work out.”

He treated her with kid gloves, which was exactly the right approach at this very moment.

Christin had made her way over to her treadmill of all places, a treadmill that made an excellent coat rack and had a complete break down. I will put aside the fact that this is the first time I had ever seen her on the damn thing, and chalk it up to pregnancy hormones.

“That’s it!” I said, “Will, go clean up the coffee I just spilled on the floor. Christin, you need to get yourself together. This is what we are going to do. Tomorrow, we will wake up at the same time we do every day. We will get dressed, making sure to look both professional and classy. We will take our kids to daycare and school just like we do every day. We will go to Wal-mart to pick up our final check. We will walk in there with our heads held high. We will not be embarrassed. We will get out of this. After Wal-Mart, we will make our way to the welfare office to see if we can qualify for any benefits to hold us over until we either find another job, or our unemployment kicks in, and we will do it all with a smile on our face.”

And that is exactly what we did the following morning.

Christin

If had not been for Jen, I would still be laying lifeless on my barely used treadmill. Luckily for me, she wouldn’t have allowed me to wallow in my self-pity for too long. I didn’t have a choice, I would follow her plan.

The next morning, I mustered up all the energy one would have after being fired, a single mom AND a few months pregnant, put on my Sunday best and walked out of my apartment feeling like a million bucks. We dropped our kids off at their respective schools and daycare, stopped at Starbucks to get our caffeine fixes and just like Thelma & Louise, we were on a mission.

We pulled up in the Wal-Mart parking lot, ready to rumble. We had three things to complete on our mission while we were here: 1) Pick up our checks 2) Talk to 2 specific people who could possibly get us our jobs back  3) Prove to the asshole(s) that got us fired in the first place, that we were untouchable.

Side by side, we walked in the store, heads held high, smiles on our face. As we were walking to the back, we got stopped about 10 times…”What happened? and “Where have you guys been? were the questions being asked. Unfortunately, Thelma and I didn’t have many answers ourselves, just yet. We made our way back to personnel where we picked up our checks, not before Jen announced “Have a nice day!” to the snakes in the office.  We cashed our checks in the front while an employee that shall remain nameless came out of her UPC office, appearing to watch as we made our way out of the store.

Jennifer

The only time I became emotional while making that last trip to Wal-Mart to pick up our check, was in the parking lot. I had history there. This is the parking lot where Joe would walk me to my car on his last day of work. (He left on his own terms.) Joe had made me a cd and gave it to me right there in that very parking lot. The smoking section off to the right was the first time Joe and I spoke two words to each other. The beginning of “Us” began at that store. With me being such a sentimental sap, I had to hold it together for the sake of Christin.

As soon as Christin and I walked into the welfare office we knew we were out of our element. Both of us dressed to the nines, making sure we look professional enough to apply for welfare benefits. Guess what. Apparently the welfare office does not enforce a dress code. Nor do they care if you saunter in wearing last nights sleep attire. Who knew? All heads turned our way as we made our way to the front counter. Leaving the scent of Channel #5 lingering around us. Even the lady at the front counter had to stifle a laugh. Who could blame her? Christin and I looked like a couple of Park Avenue Bitches, and let me tell you, the welfare office was not the place to make a statement.

“Hi! Were are here to see what possible benefits we could qualify for. Not for long-term or anything, just temporary until we get back on our feet. Separately, we are together but not together, together.”

“Pick a number, fill out the paperwork, wait for your number to be called.”

Christin and I found seats together, sat down with clipboard in hand and started filling out the twenty papers that would soon let us know if we would qualify for food stamps.

“I do not know about this Jen, there has to be another way?”

“Do not worry it will be fine. We are in this together, just follow my lead.”

So…..imagine our surprise when they separated Christin and I.

Christin

As we were waiting for our number to be called, it took everything I had not to run out. My ego was telling me that I didn’t belong there, while Jen convinced me that we needed to be there. My number was called and then, they took me to a room in the back. Expecting Jen to come in behind me, I  kept watching the door. She never came. Instead I was met with Pajama wearing folks that just looked like they rolled out of bed.

I pulled out my notebook and pen, then began taking notes. What did I need to do next? Who did I need to talk to? I scribbled everything down as the girl next to me took a nap. I was going to come out of this better than ever, right? An hour later, the class was over and we were excused.

I met Jen in the lobby.
“Ok, now what do we do?” I asked. “What’s the next step?”

Jennifer

I had no idea why Christin was called back and I wasn’t. All this time I had told her I would be there, and now look who was not there. I asked my lovely  friend at the front counter why we were not called back together. She gave me the five second stare down, rolled her eyes, “Because the other girl is applying for rent assistance and you are applying for food assistance.”

Okay so she had a point. It’s not like there were any step by step instructions on how to do this. I took my seat, touched up my makeup, and before I knew it, I was called back.

My situation was a little bit different from Christin’s. Christin went back alone, where as I went back with a group of twenty. We were  told to all take a seat around this large conference table. A lady who seemed to be in her late fifties entered the room and immediately started talking about the food stamp card, what can and cannot be purchased. Without missing a beat, I grabbed my notebook and pen from my oversized purse. I started to scribble down every single word that was being said. If I am going to do this, I am going to do it right, and take notes, and who knows if there will be a test at the end but if there was, surely I would pass, because it seems I was the only one taking notes.

At one point during the lecture, I lost my place within my notes. The speaker went from “Your  benefits will be loaded on your card depending on the first letter of your last name.” To “If your card is lost or stolen, you must report it as soon as possible.”

Quickly and efficiently I raised my hand.

“Yes.”

“Just one quick question, according to my notes I lost my place and I need to know what happens after the benefits are loaded on to the card.”

The entire room looks at me. Naturally I am pretty proud of myself for asking such an important question. The gentleman sitting beside me, who may have smelled like tequila looks at me, then looks at the speaker.

“Aw Man, is she for real?”

“Uh, yeah I am for real. This is pretty important stuff. Do we need to log in, do we need to have a grocery list prepared? What exactly happens after the benefits are loaded onto the card.”

In unison, the entire room shouted “YOU USE THE CARD!”

It gets better.

As the speaker was closing her final words, she asked “Are there any last questions?”

All twenty people look at me, expecting me to have a question.

I did.

“So my final question is, how does the tax returns work? What exactly needs to be reported and what doesn’t”

There was about a ten second silence before our speaker yelled “Class dismissed!”

I gathered up my notes while everyone else was fighting their way out the door. By the time I returned to the lobby, Christin was already waiting. She looks at me and asked “What’s the next step?”

Confidently as ever I said

“Our next step is getting our job back.”

Christin

Getting our jobs back was easier said than done. We did fight for our jobs in every way possible. We even filed an unlawful termination suit against Wal-Mart but had to retreat because of Jen’s high risk pregnancy. We did what we could and we lost.  In the end, much more was gained than lost. We eventually found our true passions that had absolutely nothing to do with cranky customers and stocking shelves. It was truly the best thing that ever happened even if for a short time we had to swallow our pride and ask for help.

Side Note: Several years later we found out who got us fired. She still works at Wal-Mart. It turns out we won.

Jennifer

There is no doubt in my mind that if we continued the fight, we would have won against Wal-Mart. In the end, I chose the health of my baby over the stress of a lawsuit.

Christin and I  may have lost the battle, but we did not lose the war.

That afternoon when Christin and I put on our armor, faced our fears, our insecurities, stereotypes, heading into the Welfare office, that was a beginning for us. A beginning to many more battles, many more wars, and many victories.

In the end, victory is ours.

Sidenote ~ I never did tell Joe about our morning apent at the Welfare office. He was very against it, just for our family, not for anyone else. One of these days I will write a blog on just how I managed to keep it a secret from him…you just can’t tell him.

 

walmartgreet1

So we dodged a bullet…

Jennifer

One of the things no one tells you when you write a book is that there is SO MUCH research involved. Even writing a memoir about a two-year period in my own life warrants research. That’s probably the part I hate the most. I am good at doing research, especially if I have to do the research for other people, but when it comes to myself, well the research is hard, and frustrating, and leaves me asking myself “Why am I doing this?”

Christin on the other hand, well she thrives on it. She can find your long-lost cousin twice removed that you were not even aware you had. She is good, and she truly enjoys it. I cannot tell you how many times our collective research has paid off.

Monday morning was one of those mornings where there was just too much to do and not enough time. Trying to cram in the Real Housewives of New York Season 7 Reunion, while trying to stalk Sebastian Bach on Twitter, and folding a few loads of three-day old laundry all before Joe comes home is not as easy I make it sound. Multitasking at it’s finest!

As soon as I heard the familiar “ding” from my phone, alerting me that I had a message, I just knew I had my work cut out for me. My Housewives got put on hold, just when Bethenny was going in hard on Sonja, Sebastian Bach had to take a backseat, and the laundry….oh yeah, I still need to tend to that. I saw a message from Christin. “Hmm, that’s weird. A little early for her to be up.” I opened the message and saw in big bold print “CHECK THIS OUT.” Immediately I knew whatever it was that I had to “check out” had to do with the book. Slowly, I scrolled down to the link that was included in her message. I was both curious and anxious. What on earth did she find at this ungodly hour of the morning?

I clicked on the link, and found myself in complete and utter shock.

……

Christin

I woke up Monday morning with the thoughts of the book chapter I was editing for the 10th time from the night before. Without giving it all away, it was an intense chapter for both Jen and I.

Scenes were flashing through my head as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. My normal routine of making breakfast, feeding the cat and checking on my sleeping teenage kids would have to wait. I was on a mission to find our past.

I didn’t want to let her in on the search, just in case I didn’t turn up anything. I will be the first one to tell you, digging up the bones from our past isn’t easy. Almost 15 years have gone by, for all we know these fools could be dead, which really wouldn’t be a shocker. As I flipped open the laptop, I typed in the names. 30 minutes later, I had mug shots, pictures, and was piecing together what appeared to be remnants from a very rocky and somewhat criminal past.

I pondered what to do with this newfound information. Should I call Jen? Maybe she was still asleep. I will just send her the link and let her decide what to do with this.

……

Jennifer

There, in the link that was embedded in Christin’s message to me, was a mug shot staring back at me. I threw my phone down much the same way one would do if they picked up a hot plate, or a grenade. Was I really looking at pictures from my past? I slowly grabbed my phone and took a second look. There was no doubt it was Him, and fifty plus extra pounds. The eyes. If you look closely enough you can see the evil. The “attitude” came shining through the mug shot. I already knew He would have about twenty reasons why it was not his fault he got arrested……again. And, when I say “again” I mean all sixty-five times.

Yes, you read that correctly. In the span of 15 years, this idiot has been arrested SIXTY FIVE times! Christin had found it all. Every single mug shot was there, watching me. Every single inmate number. I had no idea how she did it, yet here it all was.

Aside from the obvious question of “What were you thinking Jen?” to the more obvious answer of “I wasn’t.” I had some thoughts to reflect on.

I am a nice person. Catch me on the right day I can be a charming person.

Why did He never see that about me?

For the longest time I blamed myself. If someone who claims to care about me ends up hitting me, then what does that say about me?

It says nothing about me (aside from my very bad choices in men) and everything about him.

Also, I think we can all agree I dodged a bullet with that one. A fast paced bullet that giving the opportunity, would aim right for my heart….and it would not miss.

……

Christin

It’s true, I found 65 mugshots of Jen’s ex. As I scrolled through the charges, which ranged from charges of disorderly conduct to more serious charges of possession of a dangerous drug with intent to sell. These charges came out of several different states with some indication that he was using aliases along the way.

It was now time, to do some research on my own ex, that would be starring in the same chapter as Jen’s ex. I thought I would dig up some mugshots of him. He’d always lived on edge, so without a doubts, there had to be something.

My research could not turn up any inmate numbers or stints in the pen but pictures revealed that he was still Living La Vida Loca at 45 years old. That’s right folks, he’s spent his 20’s, 30’s and 40’s living like a Rockstar and boy does it show. The Fred Durst look-alike that I used to know now looks more like Fred Flinstone on a bender. Let the records show that I dodged a bullet on this one, more ways than you all will ever know.

 

……

“What the hell were we thinking?!”

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“Well he looks nice…”

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“I call this…My walk of shame”

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“I cannot even use drugs as an excuse for this one.”

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“Fred Flintstone on a bender.”

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“Party on! 45 year old man…”

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“Still keepin’ it classy…”

 

And there you have it. Look, Christin and I know we made way too many mistakes to count. Never once do we want to make excuses for ourselves. That’s the thing though when you revisit your past. You have two options. You can blame everyone else, or you can own your very bad descisions, take a shot, and move on.

We chose the latter.

~ Vodka Calling.

This is our circus and these are our monkeys.

Jennifer

In March of 2004 I experienced a horrible miscarriage at 16 weeks gestation. Aside from the emotional aspect of it all, the physical pain was horrible. I lost a lot of blood, to the point where my doctor was having problems controlling it. Unfortunately the baby was not “passing” on its own, therefore I had to have an emergency D&C.

Vinnie was 3 and AJ was 10. I had no idea how I was going to recover while taking care of two boys. Thankfully, due to a friendship that began three years prior, I did not have to worry about that.

Enter Christin and Will. Christin & Will, lived in the next building over. Both worked at Wal-Mart at the time. Christin was the one who took me to the hospital when I started to bleed profusely in her living room. She was the one who called Joe, and she stayed by my side until Joe was able to make his way over to the doctor.

Once I was home, drugged up on god knows what, Christin called and offered to take AJ and Vinnie for a few days while I recovered. Now keep in mind, she had her own daughter at the time, and Will had his son from a previous relationship. They were getting ready to tackle on parenting four kids, and Joe and I could not have been more grateful.

Christin

It was the least I – we could do. She nearly bled to death in my livingroom. I drove as fast as I could to get her to the hospital, but it wasn’t fast enough. Jen and Joe had lost a baby, a baby they both dearly wanted. I had to do something to help my good friend.

Will and I quickly discussed having AJ and Vinnie stay with us for a while, just until they could recover, both physically and emotionally. Joe and Jen took us up on our offer, an offer that clearly, I did not think all the way through. Thankfully, Will is just a big kid at heart, he handled it like a pro.

“I’m going to take the kids outside” Will said. “You want to cook up some mac n cheese and hotdogs?”

“Sure.” I said, knowing the reason he said that because it was the only thing I could cook at the time.

I watched as he helped the younger kids get their shoes on and with AJ in toe, the 5 of the made their way outside to the playground. An hour later, they returned, muddy from head to toe.

“What happened?” I asked, grabbing towels from the closet.

“We went puddle jumping” he said, laughing.

One by one, each one of them, took a bath. I threw their clothes in the little stackable washer and dryer, while Will found some shirt for them to wear until their clothes were done. AJ and Vinnie ate their mac n cheese in shirts down to their toes, while Will put in a movie “Daddy Day Care”. How fitting. He was only 20 years old himself, yet knew how to entertain 1,2,3 and 10 year olds.

I watched as Will stretched out on the floor, with all the kids surrounding him as they watched Eddie Murphy succumb to the tortures of 8 five-year olds. We laid out sleeping bags for the boys while Kharizma and Taylor were tucked into their cribs. Will stayed out with the boys, just in case they woke up in the middle of the night. They fell asleep to the singing of Veggie Tales that night. The next few days flew by. 4 kids was a lot of work. I decided then and there, I didn’t want more kids.

I couldn’t have done it without Will. He was the true hero in all of this. Even though he and I didn’t always see eye to eye, he was always good with the kids. Not to mention, a great entertainer.

Jennifer

Once I recovered (3-4 days I believe) Christin and Will brought the boys back. Christin was now contemplating getting her tubes tied, because, four kids, that’s a lot of work!

Time went on, and pay attention because everything from this point happens pretty fast.

Christin and Will broke up. Boo!
Christin and Will found out they were pregnant. Yay!
Christin and Will went through a “rough patch.”
A pregnant Christin moves about four hours away to Moses Lake.
Her doctor’s appointment were still here in Federal Way.
I was at the hospital when her son was born.
I was also very pregnant with Gracie.
(Many years have now passed)
Christin and Will “put up with each other” for the sake of their son.
Christin is now pissed at Will.
Will is now pissed at Christin.
Christin and Will are now able to have friendly communication!
Will still lives in the same town as I do.
Christin lives across the water.

I have to say, and Christin has no idea that I am writing this – even though we discuss our blogs, even the ones we write together. I am so proud of these two. Both of them have their strength and weakness. They will be the first to tell you they work better as friends, as co-parents to their son. And they are doing it. No, it’s not perfect, it’s a work in progress. At their core though, they both care about each other a lot, (they will not admit to this.)

Christin

I would like to tell you that Will and I have a perfect co-parenting relationship, however we don’t. He’s made mistakes and so have I. We were young back then but I think we’ve done the best we could considering the circumstances.

Our son is good kid, however I must admit, he’s got his dad’s warped sense of humor. God help me. At the end of the day, if I needed Will, I know without a doubt, he would be there. He’s been there when I needed to vent. I’ve been on the other end of the phone when he needed a listening ear. We get each other, more than either of us would ever admit.

Jen would tell you that Will and I are more alike than different. She played the middle man for our short-lived relationship. Will would go to her apartment and complain that I didn’t clean out the cat litter box that day. I would go complain that Will didn’t clean anything. She was our underpaid therapist but never judged us once. We’ve come along way since then, but still she has good, sound (most of the time), advice.

Jennifer

All of us, Christin, Will me and Joe…well not Joe he has always had his shit together, but the three of us have come such a long way from the days of Wal-Mart. From the days when Christin and Will had my two boys, living it up watching “Daddy Daycare” in their messy, toy infested, Cheetos smashed into the carpet living room.

We all have come so far.

AJ, who will be 24 this year, is heading out on the same path we were all on back in 2004. Through an unusual turn of events, AJ will now be working for Will. I have no words to express how happy this makes me, because aside from Joe, AJ could not have a better person watching after him, teaching him, and rooting for him all along the way.

And I know that Christin will be on top of Will making sure everything runs smoothly.

We may not have taken the traditional route, but this little dysfunctional family of friendship, well, it makes me happy.

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A post about nothing….

It’s been a busy week. Christin and I are working non stop, trying to get these final edits complete. Not always easy an easy process when we still have our respective families to tend to. We are doing it though. Of course we look like hell from all the late nights. Something that our children feel the need to point out to us daily.

Part of the editing process is taking advantage of Beta Readers. Beata Readers help writers out, give them their opinions, help with grammar, punctuation, make sure the story flows. Usually Beta Readers are used in-between different edits, before the final edit goes off to the Big Guys. Yesterday, Christin and I produced three options for a Prologue. Option four would be no Prologue. We presented these options to a group of Beta Readers. One schmuck had this to say. “I do not understand memoirs. If you have not led a full life then you should not write a memoir.” I wanted to punch him in the face. First of all, a memoir consist of a short period in your life. Dumb ass was thinking of a biography. Secondly, we were not asking his opinion on a memoir, we were asking his thoughts on a Prologue. Huge difference. I told Christin “Handle it or I will go off on him.” I am not very patient that way. I know his comment is going to be one of hundreds of negative feedback Christin and I will receive. I know not everyone will enjoy the book. Hell, I even have a family member who refuses to read the blog, so I get it. I just need to learn how to better prepare myself. Otherwise I will be finished before I even get started.

Everyone has heard by now that Chester Bennington, the front man for Linkin Park, committed suicide this week. A loss that hit many pretty hard. It just goes to show that depression along with mental illness, does not discriminate. I have read comments on social media that just make me sick. “With all the money he had how could he not be happy?” Yeah, it does not work that way.

Linkin Park’s album “Hybrid Theory” is  a huge centerpiece in our book Vodka Calling:Apt. B-303. “Hybrid Theory” was there for us each and every step of the way. That’s the beauty of music, always there for you. Rest in Love Chester, you will be missed, but never forgotten.

A couple of nights ago Vinnie (my 16 yr old) and I had a little disagreement. By “disagreement” I mean I was right, he was wrong. I will give you the cliff note version. In the end, you will be on my side anyway.

Vinnie wanted to go hang out at a friend’s house around 8.pm. Not a problem. I gave him bus money, which is typical for the teenagers around here. Obviously, the plan was for him to take the bus home as well.

Hours later, it was time for him to come home. Two hours later he was still on the bus. He was lying to me. I know he was lying to me because 1. I am not an idiot, and 2. The busses were already shut down for the night. Over text message, arguing back and forth I tell him “Send me a picture of you on the bus.”

This is what he sends me.

Vinnieonbus

Yeah. My son thinks I am an idiot.

When he finally made it home, I went off. Remember, I am not very patient, especially when it comes to stupidity. Basically, what happened is he missed the bus, ended up walking home, and did not want to tell me he had to walk home.

I know what you are thinking, so many things wrong. First and foremost, I told him no matter what, you always call. Call and someone will come get you. He was seriously walking the streets at 2am, while telling me he was on the bus. Put aside the lying, there is a safety issue. Vinnie has this really cool hair, (and bear with me because I know I sound crazy) but if you were to see him from a distance, you may think he was of mixed race. Many people have asked me that before. I do not want him walking the streets at night, come up on some police officer who shoots first and asks questions later. We have all seen the news. We know what’s going on.

I am also disappointed in Vinnie that he really expected me to believe he was on the bus. I thought he was more creative than that.

We dealt with it. Number one rule, if you are in trouble, you call no matter what. Number two rule, no lying.

“Vinnie, I have been there and done that. All the lies you are going to try to pull on me, I invented them. I am the best of the best and if you do not believe me, ask your grandparents.”

Hopefully the message will get through.

……

How about you guys, how was your week?

Stay tune for updates regarding Vodka Calling:B-303

In a few short weeks, we will be doing limited giveaways!

I know you will be waiting with bated breath,

or Vodka.

 

~ Jennifer