Friday Morning.

“Ring, Ring, Ring.”

I rolled over, looked at my phone. It was “South Carolina” calling.

Does she not realize that there is a three-hour time difference? Does she also not realize that I am sick, and the kids do not have school today and I have not had any coffee so it is just too early for me to even try.

I quickly made the call go straight to voicemail, making a mental note to call her when I am awake and have coffee in me, and it is daylight outside.

*****

Thre hours later.

“Ring, Ring, Ring.”

Are you kidding me? South Carolina again. I slowly I grab the phone while wrapping myself up in my comforter. It’s chilly this morning. Probably one of the many reasons I am sick with a cold. Change in weather. What time is it anyway? I do not hear the kids. I am slowly finding my way to the “talk” key, and realize she hung up. Fine. I will get up. Check on the kids, make some coffee and give her a call back.

*****

One hour later.

By the time I got up, got the kids breakfast, threw a load of laundry in the wash and made the very important coffee, I had completely forgotten that I was supposed to call her back.

With a nice hot cup of coffee by my side, I started the morning dishes. Vinnie was up, sitting on the kitchen bar stool in front of me. Both of us were enjoying morning chit chat on how our day was going to play out.

“Ring, Ring, Ring.”

With soapy hands filled with dishes, I look at Vinnie.

“It’s South Carolina calling.”

Crap. I forgot to call her back.

Quickly I dried my hands on my t-shirt, turned off the water and reached for the phone in lightening speed before she had a chance to hang up.

“Hello…”

“Hi Jennifer, have you heard about Theodore Roosevelt?”

“Who?”

“You know, your brothers ship the Theodore Roosevelt.”

My heart sunk. What was happening and why would she be the one calling and not anyone else? My brother. Only a week into his second deployment. No one is able to talk to him.

“Oh my God, what, what is going on tell me now!”

Vinnie gets up from the familiar bar stool and is quickly by my side. Making sure to give me my space, while being there for support.

“Okay calm down, it is nothing bad.”

“Then why have you been calling me all morning?!”

“President Trump just put in orders for the USS Theodore Roosevelt to head to the Korean peninsula.”

I do not remember how long I was silent for. I suppose I was processing what she was telling me?

“Jennifer, are you there?”

“Noooooo. This is what I was afraid of, this is what I was worried about! How do you know?”

“Calm down. It’s a good thing. Your brother’s ship is meeting another ship. There’s 7,500 Marines and Sailors. Trump is doing that for security reasons. Get on your computer, go look it up. Your Aunt saw it on the Drudge Report,  you know what that is? It is a …..”

“I KNOW WHAT THE DRUDGE REPORT IS!”

“Well, just calm down, and let your father know if he does not already know, but do not tell your sister, and also, your Aunt is not going to forgive you or Alyssa.”

Of course, she is not. This woman can hold a grudge like no other. A grudge that began seven months ago, and a grudge that will follow her to her grave. Of course, she will not forgive us. Why would she? That would mean she has seen the error of her ways. That would mean that she finally realizes we were not out to hurt her, in all this mess she was the one and only voice of reason. My aunt will never see it that way, and, now I have more important things to worry about.

“Okay, well…..thanks for the call!”

We said our brief goodbyes.

*****

Immediately Vinnie wants to know what is going on. I fill him in, making sure he realizes that we do not know all of the information and we probably need to turn on the news. I do not even have time to think, which will later turn out to be a very bad move on my part. Vinnie takes over the dishes as I gather my phone and coffee and head to my balcony for privacy.

I do not even have time to think, which will later turn out to be a very bad move on my part. Vinnie takes over the dishes as I gather my phone and coffee and head to my balcony for privacy.

I had to call Texas.

“Hey Jen, feeling any better?”

“Ummm, no! Have you heard about Trump and Anthony’s ship?”

I gave him all the limited information I had. We decided that each one of us would get to googling to see what we could find. However, we knew. In our heart of hearts, we knew. We did not have to go to Google. We knew. Anthony’s ship is on its way to the Korean peninsula, and it sucks. The only thing we did not know is that it would be happening this fast.

*****

Quickly, I get to work on the computer. Desperately trying to find whatever information I can regarding the Theodore Rosevelt. I made a fresh pot of coffee while wondering if 11:00 am is too early to have a drink?

AJ, my oldest son, comes home for lunch. He walks in the door, takes one look at me.

“What’s wrong?”

For the 3rd time in the span of about 30 minutes, I give him a brief rundown of the morning events.

“Well, what does that mean, is Korea bad?”

Vinnie and I look at each other, silently agreeing that AJ should have paid more attention in school, or perhaps to the news.

Then I notice something I should have noticed from the very beginning. Vinnie. He is crying. Of course, he is trying to pretend he is not crying but he is. How could I be so blind? How could I be so wrapped up in my own emotions that I neglected to see his?

Vinnie and Anthony have a pretty cool bond. I am not sure why or even when it began, but those two, they are connected. When Vinnie gets in trouble, I always use “What would your uncle say if he knew about this?” It’s never the grandparents, never the Aunts. Always Uncle Anthony. Plus, Vinnie actually watches the news. He gets how serious this may become.

*****

Joe walks through the door. I look at the clock on the microwave and realize that it is Friday. Joe always gets off early on Friday’s. He looks at my tear-stained face, he looks at Vinnie and his blotchy red eyes. “What’s going on?”

Once again, I recap on what I know. President Trump issued orders for the Theodore Rosevelt to make it’s way to the Korean peninsula.

“Oh shit.”

Joe makes his way to the t.v. Still, in his work clothes of black slacks and a navy blue button-down shirt, he grabs the remote and together, the three of us start watching the news, watching live youtube clips. Trying to find anything we can. Joe, God bless him, is able to gather strength I do not have. He patiently yet knowingly explains to Vinnie that the Theodore Rosevelt is protected by the Destroyer ships.

I get it, and I think even Vinnie gets it. My brother, along with 7,500 Marines and Sailors on the Rosevelt are protected by the Destroyers. Anthony is safe, as safe as can be expected.

There is precious cargo on the Rosevelt. Irreplaceable cargo. As God as my witness, nothing better happen to that precious cargo.

*****

Aj now emerges from the bathroom. He smells as if he took a bath in his Axe cologne spray. He looks at Joe, Vinnie and myself, glued to the tv, desperately trying to find something.

“Is anyone going to tell me what’s going on in Korea?”

*****

And now, it’s time for a drink…

and apparently a History lesson.

~Jennifer

 

 

 

 

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Death by shower curtain….

My brother has been on deployment for a whopping three days. I mean he probably is just barely out of California, and yet I am in a funk…still. Everything that happens, or does not happen, will always come back to “Well, my brother is on deployment!”

Did not do the dishes ~ My brother is on deployment, I am depressed!

Forget to pay the car payment ~ My brother is on deployment, what more do you want from me?!

Drop the wrong kid off at school ~ Hello, deployment, I can only do so much!

Roots showing on my hair ~ What’s the point, my brother is on deployment!

Well, I finally got things in order. I paid the car payment and colored my hair. As far as the dishes and the kid goes, we will work on that tomorrow.

Now, I need to paint a picture for you. I have Nice & Easy, soft black, in my hair. The kids think I am coloring my hair purple, that is how dark of a color this is. But, I needed to do something. Who knew grey roots aged you? Even though my brother is on deployment, he would kick my ass if he knew I was allowing my roots to show.

I am now in the shower, rinsing out the Nice & Easy “soft black.” I am now standing in five inches of blue-black water.

I am now standing in five inches of blue-black water.

Crap, the drain is clogged.

I have two options.

Option 1. Continue to rinse out the color and pray that my legs do not get stained from the “soft black” that looks like purple in the standing water.

Or…..

Unclog the damn drain, because if I do not do it who else will. And, my brother is on deployment.

And, my brother is on deployment.

So there I am. Hair color in my hair, standing in inches of cancer-causing chemicals, completely naked. Naturally.

I decided it is just too much trouble for me to get dressed only to unclog a drain and then get back in the shower. So…I went to work. Naked, and with hair color in my hair.

I knelt down, being very careful not to immerse my entire lower body in the cancer-causing chemicals. I worked hard on that drain. I was determined. I can do this because my brother is on deployment!

Twenty minutes later the drain is unclogged. I mean my hair may be ready to fall out because I should have rinsed the color out about 10 minutes ago, but that’s okay. I totally got this.

Slowly, I rise, from the dirty cancer chemical infested water. My legs start to wobble. Wait….something does not feel right. I am losing my balance.

I have no idea if my legs were asleep, or the Nice & Easy slowly dripping into my eyes was throwing me off, or just plain clumsiness on my part, but I knew I was going down. I was going down hard, naked, with purple/blackish hair color, and still somewhat standing in three inches of colored water.

Quick! What do I do?!?!

I reach for the shower curtain. My Frosty, the Snowman shower curtain is staring back at me, with his corncob pipe and button nose. I reached for it like I was reaching for Jack in the freezing waters that the Titanic met its fate in.

Well, just like the Titanic, I crashed…..as did my Frosty the Snowman shower curtain.

There I am. Naked, laying in now two inches of blue-black water. My Frosty the Snowman shower curtain inches away from my face, yet somehow not covering the important areas.

This is how I am going to die. In cancer-causing infested water with Frosty the freakin Snowman looking back at me.

Ya know, if I was Sandra Bullock and Joe was Matt Damon, Matt, after hearing a loud “THUD!” would have rushed into the bathroom, scooped me up in his arms and saved me from my demise.

However, I am not Sandra and Joe is not Matt.

Instead, as I am laying there, trying to find the strength to get my ass out of the cancer-causing chemical infested water, I notice a paw under the bathroom door. My cat! One of the smart ones. It’s like he is trying to talk to me. He knows what happened. He is coming to save me.

“Mango, go, go get Joe, you can do it!”

Perhaps I watched one too many episodes of Lassie when I was a little girl.

Mango did not budge. His little paw stayed firmly in place right under the crack of the bathroom door.

Do you want to know why…….because my brother is on deployment!

Once I finally realized no one was coming to save me, I decided to reach into my inner Wonder Woman. I can do this, I can save myself. Not only can I save myself but I can save the world, however first I should start by saving myself.

I wrapped myself in my Frosty the Freakin Snowman shower curtain, made my way to the bathroom door. At the very least, I had to let Mango in. Surely the little guy was worried about me.

“It’s okay Mango, I am fine, just a little sore, but I am okay.”

Mango rushes in the bathroom, makes his way to the toilet, not giving me a second glance, and drinks the water.

Of course, he does……

because my brother is on deployment.

~Jennifer

frosty-the-snowman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

antblog

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

teacherblog

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.

 

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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…”

christinpic5

“I call this…My walk of shame”

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

Christinpic1

“Fred Flintstone on a bender.”

christinpic2

“Party on! 45 year old man…”

christinpic3

“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.