The One About Him

He was a good person. He still is a good person.

Although it has been many years since we had an actual conversation, I know He is one of the good ones.

I met Him when I was young. Maybe around ten? Gosh, I think it was younger than that? He would come home from work and always have a candy bar for me. Most of the time it was Butterfinger. So, he is kind of at fault for my Butterfinger obsession.

He always told me he thought my hair in a ponytail looked nice. I never forgot that because I love wearing my hair in a ponytail. Back then and today. It’s a good example of how a simple compliment to one can turn into confidence for the other.

Sometimes things were not easy, but He always treated us well, despite the not so easy times. He was funny in his own way, and boy did he like “collecting” things.

Sometimes I felt bad, wondering if the fights were my fault, although He never made me feel that way. It was just the young mind of an insecure little girl.

When my grandmother passed away, They took me for a walk. It was me. At least in my memory, it was just me. Now that I think about it, it’s a good question to ask. We took a walk to Fort Clifton in Colonial Heights, Va. It was right before the walk when They told me. The details are fuzzy. On the walk, He took out his pocket knife and carved my grandmother’s initials in a tree. Years later I would go back trying to find the tree. I never did.

He was at my first wedding. As a wedding gift, he bought me one of those large, family size bibles where you can insert the family history. It was my favorite wedding gift. I wish I still had it.

When I had AJ, He came to visit me at my house. My POS of a husband (at the time) would not let him in. I always felt horrible about that. Guilty about that. Once again, He left a baby gift. Like I said, He is a good person.

He did not have to remain in my life, He chose to.

Because of the close family history, He never seemed that far away, ya know? I am Facebook friends with his wife, and over the years we have exchanged Christmas cards.

He has served our country. He is a son, a father, a grandfather, a husband. His life has not always been an easy life, but, we are not promised an easy life.

He is strong, He is a believer. He is a story-teller.

Tomorrow, He has to have surgery. Leg amputation surgery.

It is my opinion the VA has failed him.

And now, here we are.

We will be praying. We will be asking ourselves “How can this happen? What went wrong?” We will be wondering where the solution is for our Vets. How can they be treated this way?

And, at some point during the day, I will have a Butterfinger. I will think of him and be thankful that at a not so good time, he came into our lives, and never really left.




The One Where I am Not the Enemy.

I try hard to be real and honest here on the blog. I try to be as honest as I can while respecting the privacy of those I may be talking (venting) about. It’s not always easy, and many times I hold back. I hold back because I do not want to cross that very thin line, I hold back on writing because I do not want my stories to be a bad reminder of someone else’s past, I hold back if I feel there is a good reason to hold back, and I can guarantee you the only reason I hold back is because I never want to hurt anyone else. Me, I am good. I am at peace with my past and I will own my wrongdoings, however, sometimes it is not always about me.

This is a hard post for me. Although I want to respect the privacy of my marriage and Joe, there are some things I feel I need to talk about. Some things I want to talk about. And, if we are to be completely honest, marriage is not always a bed of roses, and sometimes these kinds of post are not only beneficial to the writer but the reader as well. At the end of the day, we all need to feel we can relate to something. Right?

Joe and I are struggling. We are not on the verge of divorce struggling, but, struggling we are. We just are not on the same page. I am certain stress is playing a big part in this, also communication.

We have had a rough start to 2019. Everything from car problems, broken windows, kids, me sleeping on the sofa, money, you name it we have had it happen in these 37 days of the New Year.

I do not even know where to begin. I do not even know that thin line of what is safe to talk about and what borders on the line of disrespect. I do not know and perhaps that is part of the problem, me just not knowing.

Joe’s work schedule sucks. I hate it, he loves it. Right there we are on two different pages. He goes to sleep at 7 and wakes up at 3. I go to bed at 11ish and wake up at 6. Many times, most times I fall asleep on the sofa while he is sleeping in the bedroom. I never really thought anything of it. It just is what it is. On our mutual days off, we would make it work and sleep together. However, we no longer have the same days off. Since we are down to one car, he had to change his work schedule, and it just sucks.

The other night he says to me “We do not even sleep in the same room.” And, although I get it, I am confused and mad. In the past when I have brought the very same argument to his attention, I would be met with “I am getting old.” So, okay, I let it go…..but when everything is now reversed I am now the bad guy? What am I missing here?

Joe is a good guy. He is loyal and probably has one of the best work ethics you will ever find. For all of Joe’s good traits, there are bad ones as well. Same with me. I think that is just human nature.

I am trying to do my part, I am trying to do better and be more accommodating. Because we are on such a tight strict budget until we figure out the car situation I offered to make his lunch for work.

“I will make my own lunch.”

“I do not want to depend on anyone.”

Well, excuse me but what kind of shit is that?!?!?! Aren’t I the one that you should depend on?!?!?! It’s a freakin sandwich and chips and if it is a good day a Twinkie as well. He is so damn stubborn. So…I make his lunch, whether he likes it or not.

I feel that everything I say to him he takes as a personal insult. I do not know, maybe it is my delivery? I am just, tired. I am tired of being tired and I did not think I would have to work this hard with my own husband.

Some family members of his needed twenty dollars. And, between you and I, because I did not communicate this with him, I am pissed. It is my opinion that we are in the worst possible situation for anyone to need to borrow money, but, he will do it. “Okay fine, then you work it in the budget.”

It falls on deaf ears.

I have family members who have offered to loan us some money. Money that would help us get out of this financial rut. “Tell them thank you but no, I need to get out of this on my own.” Okay great. That is one of the things I love about him, he never wants a handout, but on the same token, he is not doing anything to help me with the budget to figure out how to get caught up from the money we had to put into our broken window. I am left feeling like “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!”

So I do it. I try to make it work. Yet it never seems good enough. Because the only thing he wants is to make sure he has the twenty to give to his own family members. And, I am pissed. I want to say “Give them the goddamn twenty and promise me a good six months of no phone calls asking for money!” But…..I cannot do that.

Tonight, tonight was the clincher which led me to write this stream of consciousness kind of blog. I made the comment to him “Just so you know, my family still is offering to lend us money.”

He got mad. He feels like I am holding something above his head. I do not get it, and I am kinda getting sick of it. I have four kids. I do not need a fifth.

Joe went out to the balcony to smoke. I go out there trying to talk to him. Trying to clarify things. He says “I am just trying to smoke and you come out here trying to start something.”

I am now pissed but again trying to hold it together. Before coming inside out of the cold, I say “Okay, you can think what you want about me, but you need to reevaluate how you talk to me. I am not the enemy.”

He comes in and goes to bed.

I am at a loss. Although I know eventually we will be okay right now in this moment I am pissed. I am mad, I am hurt, I am annoyed. What I want to say is “Stop throwing a fit and talk to me.” But, we fall in the pattern of every time one of us tries to say something, the other person is not listening. We already have in our mind what we are going to say next without hearing the other person out.

Marriage is not always good times (clearly!) I know you have your hills and mountains. Right now Joe and I are at the very end of the hill. We are both annoying each other and I think we both have good reasons to be annoyed, but dammit it is frustrating.

I do not know what to do to get us where we need to be. I know that it cannot just be me, and it cannot just be him trying. But if you were to ask both of us, we would say we are trying but the other is not. This is the classic example of how you have two people who want it to work, they are determined to make it work but lines of communication are getting lost, and I need help to reestablish the connection.

At the end of the day, my last words to him I told true. I am not the enemy.

I am not the enemy.

Do not talk to me like I am.

Work with me.

Trust me.

Love me.

I am not the enemy.





The One About Light of Day

The year was 1987.

Reagan was President.

Unemployment was at its lowest since 1979, and Michael Jackson released his third solo album “Bad.”

Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady”
Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”
Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”

All popular hit singles of 1987.

Television brought us the premiere of “Rags to Riches” “Unsolved Mysteries” the infamous “Married With Children” and one of my personal favorites “Full House.”

On the Big Screen, we saw “The Untouchables” “Dirty Dancing” and the controversial “Fatal Attraction.”

Also, a film that in my opinion does not get the recognition it deserves. A film that I would consider a “coming of age” film, at least it was for me. A film with a pretty amazing cast that consists of the impeccable  Gena Rowlands, we see a new side to Michael J Fox and the one and only girl of Rock, Joan Jett.

“Light of Day.”

Jen’s synopsis: Joe and Patty are siblings. Patty has a difficult relationship with her very religious mother and looks to music for her escape. Patty has a little boy who she loves with all her heart, yet struggles with. Joe steps in to make sure his nephew is doing okay.

A film about a blue-collar family just trying to make ends meet. One of my favorites, Bruce Springsteen wrote the titled song “Light of Day” specifically for the film. “Light of Day” was originally going to be titled “Born in the USA” however, when Bruce read the script, he ended up using that title for a song he was writing about a Vietnam Vet, and that is how his song “Born in the USA” was, well, born.

I sat in that movie theatre completely transfixed on the screen. Between Michael J Fox and Joan Jett’s on-screen presence, I could not look away. The way their acting made me feel I will never forget. Whether it was a feel-good scene or heart-wrenching scene, I knew that is what I wanted. I wanted to make people feel. I wanted to do something that evoked some sort of emotion in others where they could not look away. I wanted to be Joe and Patty. I wanted to date a guy like Michael J Fox and I wanted Joan Jett as my BFF.

After the movie, we all went to dinner. “The Parent’s” my sister, and I cannot remember if my brother was there. If he was he was just a baby, plus he does not read my blog so there’s that. I remember I could not stop talking about the movie. Right there in the car, I proclaimed loud and clear “I want a pair of Joan Jett boots!”

Two days later, a trip to Payless, I believe, I had the most perfect pair of “Joan Jett Boots.” Black leather, mid-calf, with silver studs on them. I wore the hell out of those boots. In fact, those boots were my first pair of boots and Christin can attest to this, I wear nothing else. I do not care if it is 80 degrees outside, I will wear my boots with jeans, shorts, skirts, whatever it may be. I will always be wearing a pair of boots.

Right before school started I was doing school shopping for the kids. I came across the most perfect boots ever. I would say it is an updated version of “Joan Jett Boots.” Simple black boots that come right above the ankle, zipper on the side.

But…as we all know, it is never about the boots. It is about how they make me feel, how they take me back to that movie theater.

And in recent days, as I slide those boots over my jeans and flannel in my Seattle Suburb temperatures, many times Joan will be playing in the background, and if I listen close enough, she is singing to me.

Only me.

“Well I’m a little down under, but I’m feeling O.K.
I got a little lost along the way
I’m just around the corner to the light of day”


The One That Only Happens at Walmart

Wednesday night, Christin and I did our normal routine of chatting on the phone in between homework breaks and cooking dinner. We each had a good day at our respective jobs and home fronts.

Let me just give you a little snippet of our conversation.

Me~ I am so lucky I have not gotten sick yet. I have had a kid cough on me, one threw up on me and one smeared poop on me! My immune system is a BEAST!

Chrsitin~ Right? It has been months since I have been sick! We are killing it at staying healthy!

So, although it was quite a surprise to me, it will not be a surprise to any of you that I woke up Thursday morning sick. I felt like death was at my doorstep. Fever, could not even talk sick, and yet I still tried to get ready for work. I put in a good effort, but I knew my morning would involve me hanging out on the playground with my little friend, and as I much as I enjoy my friend, I had visions of me passing out on the frostbitten playground slide and my friend running into the neighboorhood. I am not even kidding. My vision continued with me laying in the health room and my office manager having to call Joe at work because I passed out and now there is a missing kid-so although I know it was an inconvenience for my coworkers, I called in.

Also, my own kids were sick.

The girls and I spent all day Thursday doing nothing. We rested, we drank our liquids and we slept. Two out of the three of us felt better. Naturally, I was still feeling it.

Joe comes home from work, throws some chicken soup together. I slowly gathered myself together to make a Walmart run. I know what you guys are thinking. Most likely the same thing Joe was thinking “Are you crazy?” Yes, I am, but we already knew that. Here’s the thing. I know my body. I knew as much as I wanted to continue to lay on the comfort of my lopsided sofa, I knew that I had to get up, I had to make an effort and I had to get some fresh air…..also, I needed supplies in the form of orange juice, ginger ale, and coconut oil.

Now, I am not exactly sure how I ended up in the cosmetic section at Walmart, but I did, so we will just leave it at that. I figured “Well, since I am here, better grab some mascara…and blush.”

For those not familiar, Walmart kind of changed things. They now have their cosmetic section it’s own section. If you want to purchase makeup, you have to purchase it at the makeup counter. I am not sure what they are going for here, but MAC they are not.

As soon as I enter the small enclosed section that has Maybelline, Cover Girl, Revlon and Elf at my fingertips, I notice a cute older Asian Lady with a spitfire personality going off on the “Cosmetics Cashier.”

Asian Lady~ I no understand. Why can’t I pay with my other items? This makes no sense. This is stupid.

I love this woman.

Walmart Cosmetics Cashier~ Blah Blah Blah.

I find my tried and true Cover Girl “The Falsies” mascara and make my way to the “makeup counter.”

The lovely cashier who just moments ago was trying to explain to the Asian Lady why there is now a cosmetics department at Walmart greeted me. She looks at me, she looks at the mascara and blush I have in my hand.

Cashier~ Eww. Are you sick?

(I mean really, who can blame her, I did look beat up!)

Me~ Yes, sorry, I should not even be here, I needed juice.

(Motions to my cart filled with orange juice)

Cashier~ That’s okay, what are your symptoms?

(Important to note, my state has a measles outbreak)

Me~ No worries, I have had the measles vaccine. Just feverish, can’t talk, runny nose, just look at me!

(At this point, my favorite Asian Lady is now behind me in line)

Cashier~ (picks up her phone) I have the perfect thing for you, just give me a minute, let me find it…..

Asian Lady~ I have question about makeup!

Me~ Ummm, okay…..

Cashier~ (To Asian Lady) I will answer your question when it is your turn in line.

Me~ (Coughing, sneezing, hacking up a lung)

Cashier~ Look! This is what you need to do. Where is your phone, get your phone, take a picture of my picture and then go grab some Vicks Vapor Rub.

(I am looking at a clip-art picture of a foot)

Asian Lady~ I want to see!

Cahsier~ (Looking at Asian Lady) You of all people know what I am talking about. (Shows Asian Lady the picture of the clip art foot.

Me~ (Thinking to myself) “Did I just witness a racial stereotype?”

Asian Lady~ Great grandfather from Japan, he studies feet.

Me~ (Still coughing, sneezing and hacking up another lung.)

Asian Lady~ (To me) You look bad, pale, go drink tea, juice no good.

As I was leaving, I look back, and see my favorite Asian Lady and my not so favorite Walmart Makeup Counter Cashier, looking at the clip art picture of a foot.

In case you are just as confused as I was, your take away from this post….never go to Walmart when you are sick. Specifically, never go to the makeup counter. Just trust me.

(If you look close enough, you can see the register and the vest of my cashier)





The One Where Target Made Me Think.

I made grilled cheese and french fries for an early dinner. I had to run to the store and just did not have it in me for anything else.

Joe comes home just as I am finishing up the last of the sandwiches. We do a quick catch up, I tell him how I need to run to the store for last minute things for Vinnie’s birthday tomorrow. (And by “last minute things” I mean a card and cash!)

I grabbed my jacket. “Do you think you can keep an eye on the last grilled cheese? I need to make a quick phone call.”

Joe looks at me, nods his head and all is good. I go outside to the balcony to call my sister real quick. (I have to go outside because my phone seriously has no reception inside. Just ask anyone who I talk to on the phone.)

My sister and I talk for maybe ten minutes. I head back inside to a smoking pot on the stove a very black grilled cheese sandwich and Joe on the sofa oblivious to it all. I turn the stove off, remove the pan and assure Sofia that “No, we do not need to call the fire department.”

I am now in the Target checkout line. I do not know why it is I do not shop at Target more often. It’s only a four-minute drive from my apartment and they have cute stuff. A little pricey on their meats but other than that a good store.

The lady in front of me is using WIC. For those not familiar,  WIC stands for Woman, Infant, Children. It is a federal program to help low-income woman provide nutrition to their children. Many people equate WIC with welfare. That is not always true. You can qualify for WIC and not qualify for food stamps. It is a good program, and I am not ashamed to say when I had Gracie, I was on WIC. There was no way I was able to afford her special needs formula on my own.

WIC was a life saver for Joe and I. The thing is when using WIC, you are issued “checks.” These checks are very specific to what you can buy. Specific milk, peanut butter, formula, juice. You have to get exactly what the check says, and the cashier has to make sure everything matches up. It’s a long process, and sometimes when you have judgemental know-it-alls behind you in line, they can leave you feeling insecure and less than.

I was determined not to make this lady in front of me feel like that. So, as she and the cashier are going through about five different WIC checks, I occupy myself on the phone. I talk myself out of buying a Snickers, and I eavesdrop on the conversation behind me.

So here is the scoop. Directly behind me in line is a lady. Probably mid 30’s. Behind her is a couple. Man and woman. At this point I have not seen them, I can just hear the conversation.

Couple~ That is a great tattoo!
Lady~ Oh I am sorry, I did not know it was showing.
Couple~ It’s a great tattoo! Did you go to Disney often?
Lady~ Thank you! We just got back a month ago, that’s when I got the tattoo.

It was at this point that I turned around. I am nosy, I wanted to see the tattoo and the cashier was still dealing with the customer using WIC.

I turn around, see the couple. I freeze for about eight seconds, then quickly turn back around.

This couple, I do not even know, this couple was, well, I want to say a “better” version of Joe and me, but I know better than that. The lady, probably about ten years older than me. Long shoulder length black hair, styled the same way as I do mine. She was dressed perfectly. Long black coat, a beautiful knee-length red skirt paired with a black blouse. The gentleman, black slacks, grey button-down, and a black and grey petticoat. In my mind, they just got out of church and had to run into Target for some last minute items for Sunday dinner. But….it was not just the way they were dressed. It was the way they carried themselves, the way they were engaging the other lady in conversation regarding her tattoo. This couple had a positive, feel-good vibe about them.

I remember being a little girl, looking into the future, this is the couple who I saw myself as. And the fact that they looked like an older version of Joe and I really made me think.

While in the checkout line, I had to quickly get a grip on reality. As wonderful and as positive as this look-alike couple seemed to be, we all know there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes.

I can write about twenty different scenarios, but they would all end the same way.

At the end of the day, it’s going to be the hard things, the big things that matter. It’s going to be seeing your spouse through loss, it’s going to be making the active decision every day to love the other, even when it is not always easy. It’s going to be holding your tongue if they are a loud eater, it will be hanging in there through weight gain or weight loss. It will be money, it will be jobs, it will be kids. And as much as I truly enjoyed this couple, as much as I enjoyed seeing what a different version Joe and I would be, none of that compares to the real thing…..

unless perhaps we are talking about burnt grilled cheese.


grilled cheese


The One Where I Tried to be Positive.

Things are a little crazy over here since we are now down to one car. One car in a five-person household is challenging. One car in a five-person household where we have to get everyone to three jobs and two different schools is frightening. What we spend on gas is probably a day worth of work for me.

After looking at all our options, which really were one, we realized we had to make it work and everyone would have to sacrifice. The plan, Joe takes the car to work. On his lunch break, he picks me and the kids up. We drop off the girls, we drop off Vinnie, Joe drops me off, then he heads back to work with only minutes before his one-hour lunch break is over. Pickups are the same routine.

The girls get to school about ten minutes early (doable)

I get to work one hour early. This sucks because I usually spend my time/breaks in my car. When my coworkers see me all sprawled out in the break room at 8am, eating my breakfast, doing my makeup, perhaps painting my nails, I get the “You’re here early!” Then they are forced to listen to my life story on why I am at work early. (Sorry co-workers!)

Vinnie has it the worst. He ends up at school three hours early. The only other option is him taking the A-line, but the drug addicts kind of put a damper on that. Although there was a funny story where Vinnie witnessed a guy bring a sofa on the bus. I mean I rather a sofa than the meth addicts, and apparently so does Vinnie, which is why he ends up at school three hours early.

Joe does not have it easy either. Instead of spending his lunch break regrouping, he now has to play chauffeur. It’s not easy, but important to note we are so thankful we do have this option, even though it is not ideal.

Our first day of trying this new routine out, I was determined to be positive about it. Look, I am the kind of person who does horribly with any kind of change in my routine. I am a creature of habit, to the point where each week, I will eat the same things for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I knew this new morning routine of ours was going to put my nerves to the test. The only positive I was able to take away from it was, Joe and I would have about twenty minutes alone in the car together to just catch up.

Tuesday morning comes around, I am up and ready to go! I feel good, I am determined to make this work. Again, everyone has to sacrifice, and since I am the Lady of the House, I need to be a good example. Right?

You guys, we did not even make it out of the parking lot before I flipped out, and I know you will not believe me when I say this, but it was not my fault! Hear me out…

My morning routine with the kids I had down to a science. I knew what time we needed to walk out the door. As the girls were picking their food from the trunk (I keep their school lunch snacks in there just for easier access) I would warm up the car. Vinnie would be the last to come down, just in time to miss the bus that picks up the high school kids in front of our apartment.

I mean I will give Joe a pass. I forgot to tell him about the school bus, and he looks at me like I am crazy when his daughters are rummaging through the trunk for their snacks. I am already “off” because I am in the passenger seat and not the driver’s seat, but still determined to be positive. We are all now in the car. Joe put his CD in. “Imagine Dragons” Now look, I like Imagine Dragons just as much as the next person, however, this is not my routine. We listen to talk radio on the early morning drive. I know I have to pick my battles, especially since we are still in the damn parking lot, so I keep quiet.

And then, a stupid purple car illegally parked just ruined everything.

Everyone and their mother are trying to get around this car, this makes Joe mad. “What the hell kind of crap is this?!” (Trust when I say my paraphrasing is better than the original version.)

That’s all it took, my positivity mindset went out the window with my sanity. “Look, you need to calm down, this is not how we start our mornings, we start our mornings with prayer and talk radio and now I am too damn annoyed to even pray!”

About three cars later, we end up passing the purple car that was illegally parked and continue on with our drive to the girl’s school.

“Wait, why are you going this way? I turn at the light and take the back roads!”

Joe looks at me, equally annoyed as I am.

“Well, I did not know! I do not make this drive!”

This was not going well. It is only Day 1 and we cannot even make it out of our apartment complex.

Joe cannot believe how much driving there is in the morning (Dude, welcome to my life) and I cannot believe how horrible his driving is. (He will disagree with that) He seriously tells me “I never knew what a cautious driver you are.”

What I wanted to say is “Yeah call me crazy, stop signs and speed limits mean something to me.” But, I digressed.

The remainder of the drive was spent in silence.

Eventually, Vinnie got to school, I made it to work, as did Joe, but it was not easy.

When Joe and the girls came to pick me up, collectively we came up with a new plan.

  • I will now be the one driving in the mornings. I know the routes. I know all the bus stops. I have it all down to a science. I will make the drive while Joe is in the passenger seat eating his lunch.
  • Whoever is driving (that would be me!) is in charge of the radio. Thank you, Holy Mother Mary of God.

There ya go! Only two rules. Two very important rules that will most likely save our marriage.

It is not easy times right now over in the Vodka Calling household. We are going through a lot, some things I cannot talk about just yet, although as a disclaimer, it is coming. Look for a post on Tuesday.

I try hard to find humor in things. I do not care how smart, attractive, you may be, but if you can make me laugh, or at least laugh at me or with me, then I am good. We will be okay. And, even though we are down one car, I am thankful.

I am thankful that we have that one car. I am thankful I have a husband who is willing to do whatever it takes to make it work. To the naked eyed we may not have much, but we have the will,  and motivation to move on, to move ahead, and God willing in a very short time from now, I will be posting about a new car that I believe God provided to us.

Hard times suck, but sometimes it is what we need to get through the other side.

Well, hard times and a good radio station.



The One With the Mammogram

I had my annual mammogram today. I mean I was five months late, but the tech and I both decided it was not “that” big of a deal. It’s just life happens, and sometimes many of us put our own needs on the backburner, ya know?

Now, I had a horrible morning. A morning that began at 4am. I was running on empty. (Good song, right?) I will not go into the details of my horrible day. I just do not have it in me to retell the story. I mean I lived it, that was plenty. It’s just important to know that I had a rough start to my day.

This would be my 5th mammogram. I fought both my insurance and doctor for a baseline mammogram way before the recommended age. I won that fight (was there ever any doubt?) Point is, I am a pro at these things, and I am passionate about baseline mammograms. Just do it.

I am sitting in the waiting room, doing my usual “people watching” thing, while scrolling through my phone. I do not think I could handle being a receptionist this place. I watched the receptionist, as she reluctantly explained to a new patient that they cannot do her mammogram today because her Doctor did not yet approve it. The patient left with a look of defeat on her face. We never know what goes on behind closed doors. This patient had no hair. I do not think it is a far reach for me to say she probably needed this mammogram.

Then, I listened in as the receptionist made “The Call.”

“Hello Mrs. Adams, this is Karen from Imaging. The Doctor wants you to come back in for a second look at one of your breast.”

*Long pause*

“I am sorry Mrs. Adams, they do not tell me anything other than they need a second picture. What I can tell you is this happens frequently, and many times the second image comes back clean.”

Can you imagine what “Mrs. Adams” was thinking? I am sure, only because of human nature, she is thinking the worse. She is now afraid and probably Googling everything under the sun about callbacks after mammograms. I know that is what I would be doing.

At this point, I am now the only one in the waiting room. An attractive older woman with the prettiest red hair, dressed in scrubs comes out. She looks around, then looks at me.

“Let me guess, something tells me you must be Jennifer!”

Okay, I have a comedian for a Tech. That’s cool, and I am not even being sarcastic. I can work with “funny.”

We had a few laughs, she introduces herself. I like her.

“Jennifer, I know you have been down this road before, you know what to expect. Don’t be nervous, it will be over before you know it.”

I look at her and truly appreciate her very kind spirit. In those few seconds, I feel I was able to get a good read on her and knew she would “get” me.

“You have no idea the kind of day I had, trust me, this mammogram is going to be rainbows and sunshine compared to my day. Let’s do this!”

And off we went!

For those of you who have not had a mammogram (Christin, I am talking to you) I will give a quick rundown down of what to expect.

You are taken to a private room to change. My Tech offered me a heated robe. I did not think I needed it, I was fine with the ones in the closet. You take your shirt and bra off. Here is a tip. I always wear a tank top underneath my shirt. I never take the tank top off, I just lower it off of my upper body. Then, put the robe on so it opens in the front.

You are asked to take off any perfumes or deodorant you may be wearing. This is so they can get a better picture of the breast tissue. Any sort of perfume can influence the image, so you want to make sure you wipe off whatever you have on. Do not worry, they have more to put on after the mammogram.

Then, your Tech takes you to a room with the mammogram machine. I do not know the correct medical word for it, but I refer to the machine as Mags. Mags the Mammogram machine. It’s kind of like that one relative you do not want to see, but you know you have to see, and after the visit, you are glad you saw Mags.

If you happen to have implants, the following does not apply to you. Your Tech will get a total of four pics. Two on each side. I have personally never had any discomfort, but if you do, and this is coming from my Tech, speak up. Let them know you feel discomfort or pain. If they do not help you, you are in the wrong place. Literally. Like put your clothes back on and find a place that will take your pain and discomfort seriously. You are in charge, remember that.

Now, if you are anything like me, it will be at this moment when you and your Tech start talking about everything under the sun….while she is positioning your breast on the plates.

I learned my very own Tech had to be monitored for cancer.

I learned that if you have implants, the Tech has to physically move the implant with her hand so they can get a clear picture.

I learned that my own Tech got into the field because of her family history of breast cancer.

I learned that my Tech is married, three children, one granddaughter.

I learned that I should have taken my Tech up on her offer of a heated robe because it was so freakin cold in there.

I learned that apparently, I am really good at relaxing my shoulders. (apparently, that is a thing and many women tense up. Do not tense up, just relax.)

I learned that a good bra is really just as good as implants.

I learned that I am the best patient she has ever had, charming with a sense of humor. (Disclaimer, my Tech did not admit this, I just know this is how she felt.)

And, just so you know this was not a one-sided conversation. I told her pretty much everything about me, in the span of ten minutes. We were chatting it up. I mean different place different time we could have finished this conversation at Starbucks.

I will get my results in 7-10 days through the mail. IF there is a problem or concern they will give me a call. However, if you happen to get a callback, and I know this is a hard one, do not freak out. It could be something as simple as they just need a better pic.

And really, that is all there is to it. My best advice (Again, Christin, pay attention!) Go in there confident. Be proud that you are doing something for you. You are putting your own health first. Do not be intimidated, do not be afraid. Relax. Mind over matter. The Techs see breast every single day. Yours are no better no worse. Let them help you.

Now, I am off to go Facebook Stalk my Tech. Perhaps even send her a friend request.

Update: Results came in, I am good! Important to note, a clear mammogram does not mean that you do not still need to do self-breast exams. So keep at it, take care of yourself, you are your own best advocate!




The One With Her.

When I first saw her, I thought nothing of it. She was just another passerby. People come and go all day long. Sometimes I am able to give a welcoming smile, other times, like today, if I am preoccupied, I am not able to give anyone, other than my friends, my complete attention.

My friends, bound and determined to do what they needed to do to earn a bright red Skittle. Unless it is Adam, Adam prefers the green Skittles and will tell you just that.

She was young. Early twenties. Attractive. Dark hair secured tightly in a bun with gold hoop earrings. A pair of black boots paired nicely with skinny jeans and a long white sweater. I only noticed this because she did not leave her spot in front of the brick wall. Perhaps she is waiting for someone?

One of my proudest accomplishments is teaching my little friends my name. I told you, they will do anything for Skittles. Of course, saying my name is not exactly on the curriculum, but I think it is a good thing.

“High five!”

*gives me a high five*

“What’s your name?”

*Says their name*

“What’s my name?”


Just as excited as can be because they know they have now earned a Skittle. I mean truth be told at this point I do not know who is more excited, them for the Skittle or me from hearing cute little people say my name, that I taught them to say.

Once I heard the final “Jennifer” from my friends,  I glanced up. She was still standing in front of the brick wall. I noticed she was digging in her purse.

“Red Skittle!”

I was being summoned. It’s okay though because my little friends are doing work. It may not seem like it to the untrained eye, but my little friends who all have an autism diagnosis are working pretty damn hard for a Skittle.

Once again, I go through the routine, this time adding in numbers.

“Okay, let’s count to 5!”

*They count to ten*

“Well, this time you earned two Skittles!”

Quite content they got one over on me, they run off and play.

She is now wiping her eyes with a crumpled tissue from her purse. As she wipes her eyes, she checks the tissue for remnants of her eye makeup. I look around to see if my other two coworkers notice. Both are hanging out with their own little friends, although just between us, I am the only one that offers Skittles.

I make my way across the small enclosed playground. My little friends are quite content playing chase or sliding down the slide. By my estimation I have 5.3 seconds before one of them will look for me, in the hunt for Skittles.

The closer I get, I see that her crying is uncontrollable. She no longer uses the tissue, and now uses the sleeve of her sweater. I cringe only because I know how hard black mascara is to get off of white.

She looks in my direction. We make eye contact for a split second. It’s almost as if she cried harder once she saw me.

I now feel the right thing to do is to go over and make sure she is okay. I walk slowly, keeping my friends in site, making sure they are good for now.

The closer I get to her, it hits me.

I know.

I have been there.

I am still there. It never gets easier. They tell you it will, but it never does.

“Hi! How ya doing. I’m Jennifer. Everything okay, can I get you anything?”

She smiles behind more tears.

Yep. This is me.

Trying to talk in between sobs,

“I—I am sorry. I—I just dropped my daughter off. It’s—–it’s her first day—–and—–”

Uncontrollable crying.

I smile.

I take the lock off the gate.

I go to her and give her a hug (and if you know me this isn’t exactly my thing!)

“Oh, it’s okay. I have been there. Your daughter is in good hands. Trust me, it is harder for us than it is for her. I mean my kids are in 6th and 8th grade and I still cry.”

She looks at me, wipes her teams some more. Kinda laughs, while still crying.

“It’s just—-I am just—–so new to this.”

One of my coworkers makes their way over to me. As I am hugging her, I mouth “New Mom”

My wonderful, understanding coworker gives me a “thumbs up” and goes to hang out with my little friends.

We are all in this together.

If you happen to be a new mom to a preschooler. I feel you. I was you. I still am you. Because whether you are dropping your child off for 2nd grade, 6th grade, 10 grade or at college, it really does not get easier.

So, take a deep breath, feel what you need to feel.

But at the end of the day, just know, you are not alone.



The One Where I Worry Too Much.

Vinnie, my almost 18-year-old son is doing pretty damn good. It was only two years ago where he was going down a not so good path. He graduated high school early, is currently in college, and working a full-time job. He is living at home, which let’s face it, nowadays you kind of have to do. Vinnie, I feel is a businessman at heart. He is wonderful with money and always has a plan to make more. As of now, his goal is to work with at-risk youth, but we all know that can change. He is a wonderful older brother to his sisters, and at his core, he has a good heart.

Vinnie recently bought a 1993 Escalade from a co-worker. It is a beater car, something to get him from point “A” to point “B” while he continues to save for a decent down payment on something nicer. Now, because we are on the maximum for allocated parking spaces in my complex, we now have to rent a parking garage. Both my car and Joe’s car are registered with the complex, so, unfortunately, it had to be Vinnie’s car that gets the garage. We figured it is okay, at least he will have the garage which will allow him to do work on the car. Right?

Well, then we found out the cost of the blasted garage. One hundred and twenty-five dollars a month. Immediately I questioned Vinnie.

“Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

“Yes Mom.”

“Are you sure you can afford it?”

“Yes Mom?”

“We can go in half with you!”

“No Mom.”

“Okay but are you sure?”

“Yes Mom.”

So I went to the office and requested a garage. It took two days and 89.00 later (pro-rated)

Our maintenance team was on top of it and made a special stop just to let me know they left a wireless remote in there just to make coming and going easier.

Vinnie comes home from work.

“Vinnie! It’s all set. Your garage is ready. Are you excited?!”

And for a split second, I saw the look of defeat in his eyes.

“What’s wrong? You’re not happy you have your own garage?”

“Just another thing I need to pay for.”

Again, I told him we can go in half. Vinnie, he is proud.

“No Mom, I am not going to have my parents pay for my garage.”

I guess, as a parent, I wish he did not have to worry about money. Not yet, not at this age. Not when he is doing everything right. He is saving money, he is going to school, he works his ass off at a thankless job as a dishwasher. I wish I could take away this one worry from him, but I can’t.

We all know it is better this way. We all know it is in hard times where we gain our strength, and I know Vinnie, he will make it work. I guess I just wish he did not have to.

He is my youngest son. In some ways, he looks at his older brother and sees the mistakes he has made and is determined to not go down that road. I am proud of him. This one, he is going places. But still, the overprotective mom in me wishes that money was no object.

Yet, if money was no object, I do not believe we would learn those hard lessons.

It’s a fine line for me, but a line that I know Vinnie does not want me to cross, no matter how much I want to cross it.


vinnie blog


I was eleven years old, The Family and I were having lunch at Bennigans. I believe it was a Saturday. We were sitting in a booth. I was so young, shy, not even knowing that I still needed to “come into my own.” A very pretty waitress came over and took our drink order. She was wearing a green polo shirt and black slacks. Dad ordered for my sister and I (Pepsi!) The pretty waitress leaned down to take my menu. The scent of her perfume lingered, and I knew I had to have it.

I looked at Dad. “She smells nice! I like her perfume.”

Dad had a bewildered look on his face. One that I know now as a parent says he did not quite know what to say. “When she comes back, you should ask her what it is!”

I respond in a manner as if he just asked me to cut off all my hair. “I AM NOT DOING THAT!” (I told you I was shy.)

A few minutes later the waitress is back with a tray full of assorted beverages. As she lays each beverage on our designated coaster, Dad being Dad “Quick question, she says (of course he points to me) you smell nice and would like to know what perfume you are wearing.”

I was mortified. The pretty waitress, who in hindsight probably thought Dad was trying to flirt with her….with wife and kids in tow, gave a polite laugh. “Oh, thank you. It’s “Beautiful” by Estee Lauder. It just came out.”

Dad looks at me, “See, there ya go!”

I am still mortified, while the pretty waitress proceeds to take our food order.

As silly as it sounds, at that moment I told myself “When I grow up I am going to buy that perfume.”

Twenty plus years later I am now a single mom. I never forgot the waitress with the pretty perfume. I also realized that at this point I would be lucky enough to afford Cover Girl, much less Estee Lauder. I mean the waitress never told Dad how expensive it is. She probably was working that job just to pay for the damn perfume!

I knew it would be a waste for me to put that kind of money into a perfume. I will just stick to Walmart’s Calgon Body Spray (Which in all honesty is a great scent too.)

Ten years later. I am now married and have four children. One day my very gay BFF and I, Alphonso, were checking out the makeup counters at Macy’s. He apparently needed some new foundation. I could not believe how much he was willing to pay for MAC makeup, yet he did not want it to seem like he was wearing makeup. Ooooookay then. As he was chatting it up with the MAC girl, I wandered over to the Estee Lauder counter. There it was. “Beautiful.” I mean it had been so long I did not know if the perfume was discontinued or not. I picked the sample bottle up, gave it a light spray, and immediately I was taken back to Bennigans restaurant thirty years ago. I had to have it. Discreetly, I turn the bottle over to see the price. There was no price.

Alphonso finds me. He knows me so well, he already knew. “Forget it, Jen, you can’t afford it, and you have Gracie’s medical bills.”

As much as I wanted to punch him, Alphonso was right. There was just too much going on, and unless the perfume was 5.98 it just was not in the cards right now. One day though.

Years late, I have now upgraded to Bath & Body Works. I have my signature scent that I always get complimented on (A Thousand Wishes) and Santa may have brought me a new scent (Champagne) that Joe thought was AJ’s cologne.

These last few days, I have been “off.” I have a lot of good things going on. Four days into 2019 and things are good. Most things. One not so good thing. I feel I was betrayed in a way. I feel there was someone who I thought was a friend, who in the end proved they only care about themselves and not what is right. It has been messing with my head. People had warned me in the past about this person, are very own Christin being one of them, I just never listened. Now, well, now I know the truth. So I am dealing with feelings of anger, hurt, confusion, you name it I have all these emotions running inside of me. Unfortunately, I have allowed it to take over the good things too. Instead of celebrating the accomplishments and blessings, I focus on the negative. That’s just plain stupid. It’s okay, you guys can agree with me. I should know better than that, yet here we are.

I had errands to run today. For once, I did not mind. I just needed to be alone and clear my head. There was grocery shopping to be done, and I needed to find Gracie a new curling iron. After I dropped Vinnie off at work, I went to Ulta, also known as Gracie’s favorite store. In my experience, they are helpful, have a variety of choices, whether it is makeup or hair products.

With bags under my eyes, not a stitch of makeup on, hair that has not been washed in three days up in a messy bun, I walked in the door, not really caring that I looked like I have seen better days. Thankfully, the store was pretty empty. Perfect! My mission is to go find someone who has experience with long thick curly hair, because Gracie with the prettiest hair ever, wants to curl her already curly hair. See, it is enough to make you want to drink.

I am looking around, trying to see who is available, when right there to my left, right before my eyes, there was a single display of Estee Lauder’s “Beautiful” perfume. Between you and I, I may have gotten a bit emotional. Immediately I forget about the curling iron, pick up the sample bottle, give it light spray just as I did many years prior, and again, I was taken back to Bennigans with the pretty waitress.

I take a closer look. There were three sizes available. I grabbed the size that worked with my budget and threw it in my shopping bag, without any hesitation at all.

Another full circle moment for me. I could finally afford the perfume I have wanted since I was an eleven-year-old little girl sitting in a Bennigans restaurant.

And, when I handed the cashier Gracie’s curling iron and my perfume, I am not even kidding, at that moment, I felt “Beautiful.”