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

 

Happy Birthday to Us!

We have an important announcement!

Over the last sixteen years, Christin and I have shared many of things.
Everything from roommates, bills, makeup, and clothes. We shared fights, we shared reconciliations. At one point we even shared the same guy, although this particular guy neglected to tell us he was being shared. We even share a birthday.

Most importantly, Christin and I share the same views. The core of who we are, what keeps us going with our writing, the reason why it is we write, “Everyone has a story to tell, and your story is worth hearing.”

This is why, today, on our birthday, it gives us both a sense of excitement and pride to announce to you, our loyal readers that our long-awaited memoir…

“Vodka Calling
Apt. B-303″

Will be available late September of this year. If you follow the blog, you will have a few chances to win a free copy as well.

What does this mean you may ask? Well, it means that our book is ready to go. Seriously, it is ready. All that is left is for us to turn in our final edits. In no time at all, our book, what kept us going for the last year, will be available on both paper back and Amazon Kindle.

……

jenbook1

Backstory.

I started this little piece of sanity back in 2010. After numerous attempts of trying my hand at different blogs (“Blogging it Out” “Write here” “Again With Jen” and “Dear Blog”) I just was not cutting it. Something was not right. I was not “feeling it.”

Little did I know it was just the name. Somehow blogging on a blog titled “Dear Blog” was not cutting it for me. I felt like Sandra Dee writing to Danny Zuko, about the trials of being stranded at the drive-in. (Grease reference for the younger crowd.)

The name “Vodka Calling” came to me so easily. It was a winner, and together we would set out on this new journey.

I blogged about everything. Marriage, kids, challenges, autism diagnosis, school, you name it I blogged about it in an honest authentic way. Some would say a little too honest.

April 2016 

Christin enters the picture. Christin and I share a 16 year friendship. A friendship that began when we were least expecting it. A friendship that neither one of us were interested in. Until, we became invested.

Together, we knew we had so many stories to share. Some of our stories are cringe worthy, some are feel good ones. Of course you have a handful that is neither here nor there. Christin and I put our heads together and decided to bring our “roaring twenties” to the blog. We believed we had a story to tell. We believe everyone has a story to tell. Christin and I are just crazy enough to blog about ours.

……

The past year and a half found both Christin and I being tested in ways we never thought we would be tested. Many times, our book was placed on the back burner. Between our children, Christin’s college courses, Gracie’s epilepsy diagnosis, hospital visits and finals, we were not sure if “Vodka Calling, Apt. B-303” would ever happen. We had many late nights, writing, editing, and re writing. We spent our days just surviving off of coffee while trying to get through our day-to-day commitments.

Personally, I have dealt with the old-time favorite “Oh, you are a stay at home Mom, you have all the time in the world.” Yeah…..no.

Going back into the time machine, writing about the days of our yester-year was not always an easy process. I remember a time when I finished a specific chapter, and immediately called Christin. That is a habit of ours, we finish a chapter, send it to the other to proof read, then call. “My God I had no idea this would be so emotional.” Christin got it. She had many chapters that left her the same.

The writing process is both draining and uplifting. Both tedious and eventful. Writing put a big fancy mirror in front of us, forcing us to go back and face our past, our demons. That same mirror would also show us the light. The light that we needed to continue on this journey, the light that would give us closure, the light that was there all along, we just did not see it back then.

Today, the light is on.

……

bookpicture3

From Christin…

If you had told me 16 years ago that Jen and I would be writing a book about our 20’s, I would have laughed in your face while taking a drink of my Long Island Iced Tea.

Here we are 16 years later, I have traded my Long Island’s in for Ice water with lemon, and still I can’t believe we actually did it.

About a year and a half ago, Jen and I started this journey together.

I will always be grateful to her for inviting me to write on the Vodka Calling blog with her. It was through this, that we came up with an idea to write a book about our experiences as roommates and friends. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy opening up about some of our real-life accounts of some very intense moments.

In the beginning of our journey, I expressed my hesitation in telling everyone our very personal, sometimes emotional times of our lives.

And then Jen told me something very profound, “Don’t worry about what other people think. These are our stories and we need to tell them.”

Still I had my reservations, primarily because I had moved on. At least I thought I had.

I had successfully burned all the bridges that led to that part of my life. Gasoline, a match and that was it. Up in smoke were the bad decisions, bad people, bad everything. Gone. Nothing left but a little bit of the rubble, which I could sweep away and move on. Never did I look back.

Little by little, Jen and I went back to the rubble. Unearthing the things, we hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. The people, the times where we thought we just might not make it out alive, and of course, the moments that made us feel like we were in a bad 90’s comedy show. Everything. Uncensored and raw.

That’s when everything changed for me. Maybe we could help someone who has been through it, just as we had.

So, we wrote and wrote. I didn’t think we would ever stop writing. We wrote until the middle of the night, sometimes all day. We never stopped writing. Phone calls every day, all day. In between my college classes and Jen’s PTA meetings and activities, we wrote. After we made dinner for our families, we wrote. Before the kids’ activities, we wrote. After the kids were in bed, we wrote.

We made it happen. And then we got rejection after rejection letters. “This is not what we are looking to publish at this time…blah blah blah.

We could have given up but this meant too much to both of us. We got up, dusted ourselves off and continued fighting. I never doubted for a minute that we would finish what we started, I just never knew how long it would take. So, we kept writing and editing. Some days I was tempted to throw my laptop out the window because I was so DONE.

Eventually, we found our way, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And guess what? At the end of the tunnel, we looked out and no longer saw the rubble we had left behind so many years ago. The junk that was left behind has been restored to an heirloom, that both Jen and I  will carry with us to remind us of what we were, and now, after some work and a lot of repair, of who we are.

So, with that, it’s our birthday and we have completed our book “Vodka Calling: Apt. B-303”. I could not be prouder of this book that we poured our blood, sweat and tears into. Literally. I hope we can inspire just one person that has been kicked while their down, to get back up just one more time. Thank-you to those that have supported us and Vodka Calling. Final edits and a few last changes are being made as I write this and so I would encourage you to purchase “Vodka Calling: Apt. B-303” when it becomes available. We will be posting the information very soon.

Happy Birthday to US!!

……

Vodka Calling: Apt. B-303 

Vodka Calling: Apt. B-303 begins in a little apartment, overlooking the Puget Sound in the suburbs of Seattle, WA in 2001. Meeting in circumstances beyond their control, Christin and Jennifer are drawn to one another because of their shared shortcomings. With both young women bearing emotional baggage from their past, Jennifer and Christin find a friendship and comradery with one another that is both unlikely and unexpected.

Vodka Calling: Apt. B-303 appeals to all women.  From women that have experienced obstacles in their life to young women just starting out. Young, old and everyone in between can take away something from the book. Compassion, hope, maybe even a few good laughs will bring readers to embrace the misadventures of Jennifer and Christin.

Vodka Calling: B-303 stands alone amongst the countless memoirs in many ways. First, it presents two viewpoints in two very different voices. Allowing the reader to enjoy both authors’ renditions, Vodka Calling: B-303 demonstrates how there are two sides to every situation. Another aspect that makes the book unique is the intricate story-telling between two friends over almost 2 decades. The way it is written allows the readers to feel like they are actually inside the stories, rather than just an outsider looking in. Vodka Calling: B-303 can be read as a stand-alone memoir or read with its companion pieces in a three-part series.

“Carly”

Disclaimer: This post contains explicit content, that involves sexual abuse. 

1989. Madonna took over the air waves with her controversial hit “Just Like a Prayer.” Young pre-teen girls found themselves wishing they could be Debbie Gibson. Aerosmith’s notorious “Love in an Elevator” was every young boys fantasy, and the ever popular, Skid Row, my first of many “Hair Band” groups that I would come to both love and worship,came out with their number one single “18 and Life.” That summer, you could not go anywhere without hearing the infamous line of..

“Eighteen and life you got it
Eighteen and life you know
Your crime is time and it’s
Eighteen and life to go.”

……

I have mentioned before that I never had any friends at school. Church, however was a different story. I actually had a few friends. Friends, that for whatever reason actually liked me. I enjoyed going to church. I was a different person at church than I was at school, and I was able to separate the two. If my church friends knew how I really was in school, they most likely would have not wanted to be my friend. This was my logic anyway, the logic of an insecure 14-year-old girl.

Melissa and Michelle were two sisters who also went to my church. In a short period of time we became friends. After church on Sundays we would hang out together, until it was time for evening service. Also, by “hanging out” I mean walking the streets of the trailer park in which they lived, hitting up the local 7-11 for nachos and hot dogs. Their parents were pretty strict, and because of that, they were never allowed to hang out at my house. It probably took me a good three months to convince my parents to let me hang out with the sisters in the trailer park. Eventually my parents gave in. I was a good kid, never got into any serious trouble, and just enjoyed having someone to actually hang out with.

Summer of 1989.

I was now allowed to hang out with the sisters on a more frequent basis (meaning not just on Sundays!) I would get dropped off by my parents, and hours later, picked up. One of the rules was I had to make sure I called to “check in.” Something I was always pretty good at. Slowly, I started to meet the friends of Melissa and Michelle. Since everyone lived in the same trailer park, there was a large group, and somehow, I fit in nicely. It was now at the point where I did not necessarily need Melissa or Michele to be there to hang out. If they were busy, or grounded, I would just hang out with someone else….my new friends.

Carly and I hit it off pretty fast. It was just  Carly and her mom. On occasion I would spend the night over at Carly’s place and her mother would make us the best scrambled eggs for breakfast. Seriously, to this day, I still try to recreate those blasted eggs and I just cannot do it. I always felt very welcomed at their house, and because Carly’s mom had a thick NY accent, it made me feel at ease.

One day Carly and I were just hanging out at her place. A few of the local kids would come and go, but for the most part it was just Carly and I sitting at her kitchen table listening to music and gossiping about the latest drama that took over the trailer park.

Carly had a huge crush on Luke. She was just waiting for him to ask her out. I kind of thought Ryan was cute, but I knew there was no way my parents would allow me to date. Plus, he was too popular, a guy like him would never like a girl like me.

As Carly and I were sitting there at her kitchen table, trying to come up with ways for Carly to get Luke to ask her out, there was a quick knock on the screen door. Without waiting for a “come in” reply,  Luke, Ryan, Jesse, Zach, and Matt came in. Pretty typical. “The Guys” were just cruising the neighbourhood on their bikes, wanting to see what we were up to. Zach was the older brother of Matt. He drove and damn was he popular. He was always with a drop dead gorgeous girl, always coming and going, and pretty much was the leader of the pack. If “The Guys” were up to no good, Zach would put them in their place real quick. I assume because he was the oldest….the “man of the house.” it was just Zach, his brother Matt, and their mom…. but I could be wrong.

There we all were, just hanging out in Carly’s kitchen. Zach had to leave for a bit and told “The Guys” he would catch-them-later. Luke asked Carly if they could talk privately in the bedroom. I mean even I knew that was not the best of ideas, but off Carly and Luke went to the bedroom, which left me there with Ryan, Jesse and Matt. Not a big deal. I mean there was an awkward silence for a second or two, but that was it. Ten minutes passed. In that time Ryan did a horrible lyp sync version to, you guessed it, Skid Row’s “18 and Life.” Then, evverything changed.

From the bedroom we heard Luke. “Hey, Come here.”

Ryan, Jesse, Matt and I all looked at each other wondering who it was Luke was talking to. Well it sure as hell wasn’t me.

The three guys went back to the bedroom and I remained at the table, trying to find a better  station on Carly’s table top radio.

I hear screaming.

I hear laughing.

“Bro, what are you doing?”

I hear wrestling type of movements.

Something or someone fell.

I get up from the table and slowly walk toward the bedroom.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

Matt comes out, stopping me from going in.

“Don’t go in there.”

“What is happening?”

More screaming.

Laughing.

I was able to get a quick glimpse into the room. Carly is laying on the bed, spread eagle. Luke is between her legs.

They were not having sex.

He was kneeling between her legs.

“Carly???”

Now it was Ryan.

Same thing. Between her legs.

I asked Matt what was happening.

“Don’t worry, she is enjoying it.”

Luke comes out, looks at me.

“Do you want a turn?”

“Nah dude, not her.” Matt says as he lights up a cigarrette.

“Fuck you.” And I just knew, I knew in my mind that despite what was happening 10 feet in front of me, I knew I would get in trouble for saying “Fuck you.” Not from The Guys, but from my parents. We were not allowed to curse.

Jesse. Damn not Jesse too.

Jesse was between Carly’s legs.

He was inserting something.

Ryan and Matt were with me in the hallway.

They were smelling their fingers….then smelling each others fingers.

Holy shit this is not good.

They were laughing.

They were bragging on how easy it was.

The front door opens.

“Where’s everyone at?”

Zach. He is back.

As soon as “The Guys” heard his voice, they left. Jesse got up from in between Carly’s legs. Matt left my side, quickly followed by Ryan.

“We were just leaving, meet us at Pops.”

I am standing there frozen.

Carly is still on the bed….also frozen.

Zach comes over to me.

“Is everything okay?”

He looks over my shoulder, he sees Carly on the bed. Zach sees Carly slowly getting herself up from the bed. He looks at me. I look at him. He knows, I know he knows just by the look of fear in my eyes he knows.

“Can you take care of this?”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I assumed it was Carly.

“Yes.”

“I’ll be back.”

……

Carly came out of the bedroom, adjusting her clothes.

I had no idea what to say. Her hands covered her face. Was she crying? She hugged me. I hugged her. No words needed to be said. We knew. I sent her to the bathroom to clean up.

I went into her bedroom. The bed was a mess. There was a baton laying on the bed. A pack of unopened condoms.

I knock on the bathroom door.”Carly?”

Carly comes up out with a tear stained face. “I do not know what to do?”

“Okay, we need to talk.”

……

Shortly there after Carly’s mom came home. Carly did a quick clean up making it look as nothing ever happened. She took the dishes of the kitchen table and threw her comforter on her bed. “Hey Mom!”

My parents picked me up not too long after and as far as I know this incident was never talked about again.

I should have told someone.

It was soon after that I stopped going to the trailer park. I was changed. Carly was changed. Things would never be the same.

……

Only recently have I thought about Carly. Did I have a part in this? I know I should have told someone. I should have told my parents because I know they would have been able to do something. But, I didn’t it.

Carly and I bottled it up and placed it in the very deepest and darkest places of out heart that we could find…..and life went on.

Except, did it?

I do not know what happened to Carly. I do not know if she got married and had some kids, or one of the other worse case scenarios.

My wish, I want nothing but the best for Carly. I am sorry I was not more of a voice. I should have been your voice when you did not have one. We should have told.

We should have told.

These words will haunt me until the day I die.

 

Jennifer.

secrets

 

 

 

 

“Takin’ Care of Business”

Vinnie. You guys know him as my stubborn yet determined 16-year-old son. He is so much like in me. Well, that may be pushing it. Vinnie and I share a love for animals, and, we both always have to have the last word. That is where our similarities end.

With it being summer vacation, Vinnie decided that he wants to find a job. Good for him, right? I mean this kid has it in him. All he wants to do is make money. There have been times in the past where he saves his allowance, buys himself a new pair of name brand shoes, then will sell those shoes for a twenty-dollar profit. Pretty genious if you ask me.

……

Vinnie spent about three hours online filling out about three job applications, and it just made my day.

Vinnie ~ Mom, what is the suffix’ of my name?

Me~ You do not have one,

Vinnie ~ Then why is it asking me?!?!

……

Vinnie ~ What is our currency?

Me ~ Seriously?

Vinnie ~ Are you going to help me or not?!?!?

Me ~ Where do we live?

Vinnie ~ Here, in the apartment.

Me ~ Keep going…

Vinnie ~ In Federal Way.

Me ~ Keep going…

Vinnie ~ In Washington.

Me ~ Almost there…..

Vinnie ~ Oh….United States? Like you could have told me that in the first place?

Me ~ Give a man a fish he eats for a day, Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.

Vinnie ~ I don’t get it.

……

Vinnie ~ What? Are you serious? They want me to answer all these questions.

Me ~ Well….yeah!

Vinnie ~ “How many hours do you want to work a week?” I’m gonna say 80.

Me ~ It does not work that way, you are a minor!

……

Vinnie ~ Here’s an easy one. “Do you want to work to make all the money you can, or do you want to work to help your customers?”
Really? I want all the money I can, I am trying to buy a car!

Me ~ NO NO NO PICK THE OTHER ANSWER!!!!!

……

Vinnie ~ What….they do a drug test?!?!

Me ~ IS THAT A PROBLEM?!?!?!?!?!

 

……

Vinnie ~ I’m going to do this Mom, I am going to find a summer job, you’ll see.

Me ~ I have no doubt you will…you, you have heart.

Jennifer

 

pizap.com14986279492061

 

 

 

Redemption

I have a disclaimer for those that are extremely conservative: don’t read. (Mrs.Gressman, that would be you)

For those of you that are a little more liberal, you will understand…

Let me set up the situation. I am walking into Wal-Mart with Jason (my significant other) and there are two tables with clip boards. I must add that I NEVER sign anything that people in front of stores are wanting me to sign. NEVER.

“Hi, would you be interested in signing an initiative to get on the ballot…this would help women and children”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. Why wouldn’t I want to help women and children? My first thoughts were: stronger laws against those that abuse children and places to help women after leaving domestic violence relationships. ALL GOOD STUFF, RIGHT?

About the time I grabbed a clipboard to put my information down, an older gentleman in an army uniform comes over to me. Clearly, he’s working for the cause as well. He looks over at me and says “Thank-you for signing. We have to protect the children from the perverts.”

“We sure do” I said. Nodding, proud that I was going to be something good for the women and children of America. Anything to help the women and children.

I look over at Jason and he’s signing. I smiled inside because he NEVER signs these things either. He’s a conservative and doesn’t usually fall for this type of “bleeding heart horse shit.” (His words, not mine)

So, there we were, finally agreeing on something. Making a change for those that have no voice. Women and children were going to be saved because we signed this form.

“Thank-you for signing and here is a pamphlet to give you more information.”

I grabbed the pamphlet and began reading, the smile on my face slowly melted away.

“What the fuck did I just sign?”

I stopped dead in my tracks, again.

“This is an initiative that will not allow transgendered individuals to use the bathroom in which they choose…….”

Do I go back and cross my name off the list??? I look over at Jason and he has a big smile on his face. SHIT. I wadded up the pamphlet and threw it in the cart. I did not go back and scribble my name off the list. Instead, I kept walking, feeling that I had betrayed all the people that deserve to use any damn bathroom they want. I betrayed MY people. You see, I am included in the LGBTQ and therefore, my signature will be used against me.

Lesson learned: NEVER SIGN SOMETHING YOU DON’T READ FIRST!
My very conservative boyfriend thought this was funny as did Jen. I bet he won’t be laughing when he barrels up the driveway this evening as sees my big colorful PRIDE FLAG flapping in the wind in front of our house for all to see, will he?
AND

I will be “liking” everyone’s status on Facebook with the pride flag emoticon.

Redeemed, right!?

Christin.
gaypride

“Here’s To The Night”

 

 

This is one of my personal favorite graduation/end of school songs. Not one of the more traditional ones (“School’s Out For Summer”) (“Another Brick In The Wall”.) This one just speaks to me in ways that the other’s do not.

I do not have fond memories of school. School was one of the hardest times in my life, and that is no exaggeration. I had no friends. None. I was the kid who would eat lunch in the bathroom because I had no one to sit with in the lunchroom.

Finding a seat on the bus was pure torture. No one wanted to ever sit with me. There were a few times where I “accidentally” missed the bus (both to and from school) so I would not have to go through the daily ritual of trying to find a seat. Once the bus driver yelled “WE ARE NOT LEAVING UNTIL EVERYONE SITS DOWN!” (and you knew “EVERYONE” was me) a few kids would reluctantly move their backpacks so I could sit down.

I was constantly called “fat.” I did not look like the other kids, I was shy, closed up, and unlike the sea of blond hair blue-eyed gems that took over the school….there was me. I mean now I can say I was a dark-haired beauty who stuck out in the crowd, but back then, people thought I was everything in-between, and nothing that resembled them,  and it pretty much sucked.

In the 4th grade I was in the restroom and heard some of my fellow classmates make fun of me, again, calling me fat.  I ran out of the restroom crying. My teacher, Mrs. Mayes, took me in her arms and asked what happened. Through tears I told her how I had overheard three of the girls calling me fat in the restroom. Mrs Mayes’ eyes became glossy, a few tears escaped as she quickly wiped them away. She brought the entire class together, and told each and every student that it is unacceptable to name call. Name calling leaves scars that cannot be healed, and if she ever hears of any name calling in her classroom, that will be cause for expulsion.

Now, that incident certainly did not help me make any friends, however,what it did do for me was show me that I had someone in my corner. It showed me that Mrs. Mayes at one point or another in her life understood what I was going through, she understood what I was feeling. For a brief moment I was able to see her pain, the same kind of pain I was feeling. That moment meant the world to me, because my family had no idea how bad school was for me. I was worried if I told them, I would be a disappointment to them.

……

Just like every story that is ever told, life goes on. I would like to say that the remainder of my school years turned out better, but that would be a lie. They just got worse….worse in ways that if something did not change, I would have ended it all, at the expense of my own life.

Over the last 30 years, I went on to have my own family. My oldest two boys, AJ and Vinnie, thrived in school. They were popular, they had friends, and for a good run, they were making descent grades. I did my part, I showed up to the parent/teacher conferences, I made sure all paperwork was turned in a timely manner, but I refused to join the PTA. I just knew without a doubt that I would have those same judgments placed on me that I did 30 years ago. No thank you.

My girls, Gracie and Sofia. Different but the same. Gracie thrives on routine. She is feisty and choses who she wants to be friends with. She is perfectly content doing her own thing, and really does not care what people think of her. She is kind of my hero.

Sofia is probably most like me, yet she still has many more friends than I ever did.

I pride myself on knowing the signs, I know what to watch out for, I know when I need to jump in if I feel there are issues with bullies, fitting in, feeling accepted, ect.

Just like I did with my sons, I did the same with my daughters. I showed up when I needed to. I made sure all paperwork was turned in, I would bring in school supplies if teachers were running low, but I was not ready to become involved in other ways. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

About three years ago, things took an interesting turn.

Gracie had some issues. She had issues from birth, but at this point, 4th grade, I knew there was something more was going on. “Something” was not quite right with her. It was at this time, I decided to become an active parent volunteer in the school. It was time for me to face my demons head on and fight for my daughter. I needed a place where I could watch her from a safe distance, because at this point the doctors were not listening to me.

Seven months later we had her Autism diagnosis.

……

Some may call it an eerie coincidence, but I know the “Big Guy Upstairs” had a hand in this. I was actually enjoying being an active parent volunteer, an active PTA member. I enjoyed seeing my girls in school. I found fulfilment in helping out, in running errands, in making cookies and popcorn. I enjoyed the challenges that came with being an active member of the PTA. Before, I knew it I was now the PTA treasurer.

I am now on my second year of PTA President. Something I never ever thought I would do. I did not have it in me, hell, I did not want to have “it” in me. Along with being the PTA President, I am also a “Room Mom.” Now I know these things may not seem like a whole lot to some people, but to me, it means the world.

I have come to adore these kids. Each one of them has taught me in ways that they will never know.

“S”~ A delightfully challenging little boy. Every time Gracie or Sofia came to this class, he would make a special effort to go up to them and say “Hi!” Of course he always got their names backwards, but my girls got a kick out of that. At his core, he is so so kind.

“G” ~ She would always “Tell it like it is.” “Mrs. Pedro, why are you eating cheese, it will make you go poop.” “Mrs. Pedro, I really think you should get rid of your gum if you are going to read us a story.” “Mrs. Pedro, why are you talking to that Mom, she is mean and her son is a jerk!” I have high hopes for this one, she would be an AMAZING counsellor for at risk youth.

“Z” ~ A pretty bad-ass Samoan kid. He would always tell me “I got you Mrs. P!” So So helpful. I could ask him to do anything and he would do it with no complaints.

“K” ~ He came to the school late in the year, and even though I never told the teacher this, I made sure to keep an extra special eye on him. It’s hard coming to a new school so close to the school year ending. I wanted to make sure he adjusted wonderfully. I know the teacher did too, but for me, I had to make sure “K” would not have the same experiences in school that I did. Turns out “K” and “G” became pretty good friends. I am no longer worried.

“L” ~ This kid is a freaking genius. She is going places. She is an ideal student and I will assume a teachers dream. I loved watching her from a safe distance. She took it all in, Harvard, watch out, you need to keep an eye on this one!

“M” ~ Another genius. Let me tell you about her. She whole heartedly had the idea that our school should do a fundraiser to purchase goats for a family in another country. 3rd grade people!!!!! Because of her, our school was able to purchase 7 goats and a flock of chickens for families in need. Pretty amazing, right??And….for some reason, I am lucky enough to see it all firsthand.

……

Thursday was the last day of school. We only had about two hours before the final bell was rung, and Summer Vacation began. In the classroom I volunteer in, I was able to participate in “What’s the News.” A time where all the kids come together in a circle, they turn to their partner and ask “What is your news?” At the end, the teacher (An amazing 14 year seasoned teacher who has also taught me life lessons along the way.) started talking about “Wonder Woman.” I never knew this, but apparently back in the day when the Wonder Woman comic first came about, a lot of little boys did not want to read it because, well, Wonder Woman is a girl. The teacher went on to say how Wonder Woman is a wonderful role model for little girls….and then, when my defenses were down, gifted me this.
school3

And it gets better, so stick with me.

Backstory……not many people know this about me, but I never ever ever say the word that means “passing gas” and rhymes with “heart.” I never say it, and clearly I never type it. So…..naturally, the class gifted me with this.

 

A story about Walter the dog, who has a “passing gas problem” and in this particular story, kinda gets the “shit end of the stick” (No pun intended)

Naturally, I had to read the story to the class……BUT, because these kids know me SO SO well, they were there to take over every time that “one word” made an appearance. I would be reading…..and when that word would come up, I would look at them, and they knew, in unison they would shout out the word, that for reasons Dr Phil would have a field day with, these kids said it for me.

It gets better.

At the assembly. Many awards are given out. “Best attendance” “Student Council” “Green Team.” I am standing against the wall, talking to the teacher. We are checking our watch, while listening to the awards being awarded. Only 7 minutes left and then SCHOOL”S OUT FOR SUMMER. Another teacher (who is also on the PTA Board) takes a place on the left side of me. We are talking, we are listening, we are clapping for the awards……the Vice Principal…..
“This award goes to a parent who is here every day. She works hard……..

I notice, “my kids” the kids I volunteer with, they look at me, they point at me……I look at “my” teacher, my “boss”

“Oh dear God No.”

“Jennifer Pedro.”

The gym erupts in applause.

I look at my “boss”

“Well go up there!”

I go up there, trying to hold back my tears, because I did not expect this.

She gives me a bouquet of flowers. I give her a hug, and whisper “You have no idea how much this means to me.”

I make my way back….

“PTA helps pay for your field trips.”

A few teachers make eye contact with me, they are smiling…and clapping……the kids, they are all giving me a “high-five.”

I take my place back against the wall, I look at the two teachers who are next to me, “DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS?”

“Yes!”

“And you did not tell me?!”

“NO!”

My tribe.

And that was it, I came full circle. I was no longer that little girl in school who had no friends, who was being made fun of, who had no idea what would become of her. I was no longer that little girl who would do whatever it took to not go back to school. I came full circle.

Again, I know this does not sound like much, especially for those of you that are doing pretty well financially, I know some of you may be thinking “Well, volunteering does not pay the bills.” I know this post may come across as somewhat flakey…and that is okay, because what I have learned, success is not defined by monetary value, success is defined by your character.

Teacher ~ I think you should become a teacher.

Me ~ I am too old.

Teacher ~ If you go to school now, you will still be younger than Mrs. B was in her first year of teaching.

And now…..we are talking about a game changer.

Teacher, Para, my options are open….I just want to work with kids. I want to make sure no one has to feel what I felt in school. I want to be their Mrs. Mayes.

Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

“You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

And…….I think I did.

“Here’s a toast
To all those who hear me all too well.”

Jennifer.

 

My Dad

In the spirit of Father’s Day 2017, I wanted to dedicate a blog to my very own Dad. I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoy writing it.

My Dad has always been the absolute best dad. There was never a time, he was not there for us. There was never a time where us siblings doubted we were loved and cared for.

I mean there was that one time over twenty years ago when we had a slight argument on one of my all time favorite bands, “Motley Crue.” For some reason (we will go with he was overworked) he claimed that “Montley Crue” was not “real” music.

I know, right?!?! I am happy to say over the years he has seen the error of his ways. Truly, other than that one incident, he has always and will always be the greatest dad.

……

When I got my first speeding ticket (right around the “Motley Crue” incident) I was so scared to tell him. However…..I had a plan! Right after I got the 40 plus dollar speeding ticket, I went out and found a job. It was a telemarketer job, but hey it was something, and at least he would know how sorry I was and I would work to pay off the ticket myself. I was nervous, but decided to rip the band-aid off.

Me ~ “Dad, I kinda got a speeding ticket, but do not worry, I found a telemarketer job and I will work to pay it off.

Dad~ (he kinda gave that blank stare of his, which I now know to be the “What did you do now” stare. He waited a moment while letting my words process) “Jen, get rid of the job, they are a scam, we will figure it out.”

……

Then there was the time where I kinda helped my younger sister sneak out……then I felt bad, and guilty, so I kinda had to tell him what I did.

Me ~ “Okay…..so I kinda helped Carolyn sneak out and now I feel bad and OH MY GOD I am so sorry!!”

Dad ~ (Again with the blank stare) “WHAT?!?!”

I again, tried to explain the situation. He calmly, grabbed a pen and paper. He penned out a quick note. “I hope it was worth it, you are grounded.” And left the note under my sisters pillow. The very pillow she used a her pretend sleeping body.

Somehow I did not get punished for my role in that one, well, unless you count the 30 minute lecture.

……

Then there was the time where my 7th grade principal called the house. Apparently the principal was under the assumption that I was skipping Science class.

Me ~ “I do not know what he is talking about, I have been going to class!”

Dad ~ “Jen, the principal was in your class and you were not there!”

That was a hard one for me to explain. But…I had no friends. I was the joke of the class, and I think I should get some points for not putting myself in a situation like that.

……

There were MANY times when we were out to dinner as a family. In the middle of our meal, Dad would excuse himself from the table to go give the homeless guy on the corner some money. He never made judgments, he never questioned where the money was going. If he sees someone, whether he is in the middle of a meal, or driving in the middle of traffic, he will stop and give them money.

……

At the age of 19 I found myself pregnant. Funny how that happens right? I told my dad over the phone. There was just no way I could tell him face to face.

“We are here for you.”

Never any judgments. Never telling me what I did wrong (and trust me, there was plenty) All he said, all he wanted me to understand “We are here for you.”

(The same exact conversation happened with baby 2, 3 and 4.)

……

On one of the Seattle visits. Gracie was young. Her medical issues were brand new. Gracie, was sitting on the sofa, rocking back and forth, back and forth. She was almost throwing herself. We would later learn this was her way of comforting herself. Dad had to leave the room. It was a lot for him to take in…because he does wear his heart on his sleeve.

……

I honestly believe my dad is one of the greatest people you will ever meet. Anyone would be lucky to know him….and once you have a conversation with him, you will see what I mean.

My dad has a passion for our Veterans who struggle with PTSD.

My dad has a passion for doing the right thing, and always making someone feel the absolute best they can about themselves.

My dad has a passion for family, loyalty and God.

My dad has a passion for politics (a topic I recommend we stay away from)

My dad has always been there for us kids.

My dad taught me how a lady should be treated…something he learned from his own dad.

I would not be “Me” without my dad….and granted, I may not be “all that” but at the core, at my core, I am everything I am, and everything I will be because of my dad.

So…Dad, if you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me, thank you for always believing in me, even when I did not believe in myself, thank you for being the person that I compare everyone else to. Thank you for introducing me to music at such a young age, thank you for seeing the error of your ways regarding Montley Crue (I just cannot let that one go) Thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for your humor, simply put……Thank You.

Happy Father’s Day 2017.

fathersday