49.

49.  Holy.cow.  I’ll be 49 in a few days.  How did that happen?  Why doesn’t it scare me?

Yes, I am entering my 49th trip around the bright shiny and I gotta tell you, I’m embracing every minute of every day that I have walked this rock.  I’ve earned every line, every wrinkle.  Probably every tear and every heartache.  I’ll tell you what else I’ve earned, every single moment of happiness and joy I’ve experienced in these past 48 trips.

See, it’s not always sunshine and roses.  I’m not always the best version of myself.  I’m a sinner and I’m forgiven.  I am loud, plus size and am equal parts sass and sadness.  I am quiet, I am bawdy…I am a bleeding heart, I am a conservative.  I am spiritual and I believe in science, all at once.

I’ve hurt people, I’ve been hurt.  I have shared secrets that I probably shouldn’t have and kept things to myself that I should have shared.  I laugh and cry at inappropriate times and completely miss the point other times.  I’ve lied and been lied to.  I’ve owned mistakes that I made or were perceived that I made…I’ve forgiven others for the same, whether they acknowledged it or not.  I’ve been a good friend, a great friend and sometimes a shitty friend.  No excuses, just my level best effort, most days.

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister and a mother.  Not the best at any of them, but I can never say I didn’t try.

All of this, for one thing…I am living my human experience.  Every day.

So, 49.  I’m not scared of you…I’ve been through a lot in these years.  No one single thing or single person has broken me…although there have been moments that I didn’t think I could survive, I have.  And with that survival, comes strength, resolve and lessons.

In this new year around the shiny thing, I am going to do something better than self love.  I am going to like me.  Like the wrinkles, the curves, the sadness behind my eyes and the shine in them when I am happy.  I am going to like that I am an emotional rollercoaster and an extroverted introvert.  I am going to like the fact that this is me, all of me and that I can only be the best version of me.

I won’t promise you that I will improve anything, eat better, exercise more, I won’t conquer my fear of heights or international travel (aka my imaginary kidnapping) I won’t take up a new hobby or yoga (well, maybe yoga)…but I will experience what this life on this rock offers me.  And I will do so with hope in my heart and forward motion.

I have left the past in the past, made my peace with mine and look towards the horizon…that’s where my future lies.

Let’s see what you’ve got 49…

Food for Thought.

I was chatting with a co-worker about food, or our favorites and I decided in the new theme to get my memories down on paper, to share two…

First one…dad took me for my 13th birthday to eat at Aw Shucks!…I never had been there, and had lived basically on fried cheese and chips for the last year or so (my staples, don’t judge me…) he decided to let me try something new, shrimp and oysters.  He ordered, told them it was my 13th birthday and the first time I would see, let alone eat, an oyster.  The guy behind the counter made me my very own cocktail sauce that wouldn’t burn my face off.  They set three oysters in front of me and told me NOT to chew.  Just gulp it down, like I was drinking something.  As soon as it hit my tongue I chewed.

I have eaten exactly one oyster in my entire life.

Stop number two on the food journey…I’m 18, living with my mom, and it’s Christmas Eve.  Mom and I have spent the day drinking some sweet red wine and being silly.  I felt very grown up because all of the drinking I had done up to this point, involved standing in a field and attempting to “be” sober upon arriving home.  This time, I’m being adult and sharing a bottle, perhaps two, with a parental.  Neither of us were driving and well, wine happened.

Went to Steak and Ale (‘member those?) and mom decided to “class me up” and teach me about fancy food, specifically escargot.  It’s a snail…cooked in butter and garlic.  Not too hard, just don’t think about what it is, she says.  Just chew and you’ll be fine, she says.   As soon as I chewed, that stupid butter and garlic exploded.  I remember how quickly it sobered me up, I also remember bending my head below the table and spitting that snail ON THE FLOOR.  I sat up, not sure what else was gonna happen…then mom yelled at me about manners or something, so I picked it up with my napkin then threw my napkin on the floor.

I have eaten, or not, exactly one snail in my entire life.

I will say I’m not the pickiest eater, but I’m not the most adventurous, I have tried snake, gator, quail, and god knows what else when I used to judge chili cook offs, I haven’t tried boar, ostrich, squirrel, anything “exotic,” nor do I plan to, don’t ask.  I can probably go days without meat, I eat very little dairy.  And I am on a daily quest to kick sugar, bread and queso.  I don’t win, but at least I try.  Where’s my participation trophy???

Couple of things…if I can’t pronounce it, I’m not eating it.  if I don’t understand how it’s prepared, I’m not eating it.  if I have to cover it in sauces, I’m not eating it.  if it stinks or is a weird color, I’m not eating it.  I’m pretty simple.

And don’t ask me what I want for dinner, the wife and I have had a near 10 year battle of who gets to make that decision.  It’s a contest of who calls “you decide!” first.  And “I don’t know” and “I don’t care” are not restaurants that deliver, we’ve tried.

I should probably stick to fried cheese and chips.

My first.

you went somewhere else, right?

No, this isn’t anything like that.  I’m talking about my first memory.  People always talk about they can remember stuff as an infant, or in the womb…I can’t.  I don’t remember much of anything other than 80’s trivia and movie quotes…or what I wore when I had my first dental appointment.  But otherwise, I’m a complete goldfish.

Except my first cognitive memory is probably one of my very favorites memories, ever.  It’s in the top five.

Because it makes me so very happy…I want to put it in writing.  So when I forget someone else can remind me…I had it good…it goes like this:

December, 1973.

I know it’s December because the windows are fogged up, there’s drizzle on the windshield and I can see the brightly colored lights on the houses as we drive past.  It’s early evening, a weekend I assume…and I am headed home with my dad…

We’ve just been to see Cinderella.  My hair is in ponytails and under my toasty coat, I have on my favorite dress, with my white tights and black patent leather Maryjanes.  Mom had made sure I looked like a princess.  That I felt like a princess.  And I did.  I remember how pretty I felt sitting next to my dad and that I was excited to get home and tell my mom all about the movie.

The AM radio is low, I can see my dad’s profile, the car is warm and we are laughing, looking at lights and discussing “Gus-Gus” and “Cinderelly.”  He’s smiling, a smile that lit up my world.  He’s using silly voices and talking about Christmas and Santa and if I’ve been a good girl or not…(I totally was!)

I don’t know where we are exactly, but I recall turning on our street, because I had already memorized the Christmas lights hanging from the homes.  Not much further, I get to see my mom…

and the baby sister…who fascinated me.  I wanted to hold her and tell her about Cinderella!!!

He comes around and opens my door, I feel the crisp air in my face and the tug of my hat as my dad covers my head.  I rush up the driveway to the front door.

As my dad pushes the door open, I’m home.  I feel the warmth of the heat, the sound of the television, the glow of the lamps in the den.  I see the Christmas tree and the gifts wrapped under the tree.  Mom has picked up around the room while the baby is napping, because there is NOTHING out of place. The feel, the smells, all of it…I’m home.  I’m safe.

I look ahead to the kitchen, there’s my mom, in front of the oven, checking whatever deliciousness she’s cooking, my mouth watering from the smell of dinner.  Table is set, she’s waiting for us.

“shhhhh! the baby is sleeping.” my mom says in a whisper, as she stands to greet us.  She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, even better than Cinderella, because she wraps me in hugs.  Her smile, matches my dad’s, she’s just as happy to see us, to have the rest of her family home…because we are all there, we are all safe.

Dad walks in and greets mom, closing the door…while I am happy, purely happy…with my whole family, in that small frame house, in December, 1973.  My first beloved memory.

I remember how right everything in my world felt.

 

Engine Dialogue.

The dealership we bought my car from is known for their customer service.  I get treated like the queen that I am with their impeccable customer service.  Recently, they have began courting the wife with a fancy new truck, even I am in on wanting her to have this fancy new truck.  It IS beautiful, but she is resisting…she loves her dependable Yukon, I love the history behind the Yukon and the “FU” to the Beast it feels like every time I put my hiney in either the driver or passenger seat.  Yes, I am a queen, but even I can be childish…so shut.it.

Anyhoo, the beloved Yukon needs an AC tune up before summer in Texas.  (you think I’m a queen…the wife is WORSE when she gets sweaty…) so we take her Yukon in and get a loaner.  It is a loaner with every trick and gadget you don’t even know you need on it.  It’s the vehicle of my dreams.

To be honest, it’s the vehicle that my prodigious queen ass DESERVES to be driving.  Yes.  I said it.  It is magical.

So, we are talking about new cars, me and the wife.  Specifically the new truck she’s dreaming about…it goes something like this..

Wife:  “That new truck as a 6.2, the Yukon is a 5.3”

Me:  (looking up from whatever has dazzled me at the moment)  “huh?”

Wife:  “The truck, the engine is a 6.2, V-8, the Yukon is a 5.3”

Me:  blink, blink, “WHAT are you saying?  What is the difference?”

Wife: “I don’t know.”

Me:  “You use words like this and you don’t know what you’re talking about?!?!?!”

Wife: “Yes, you do it all the time!!!”

Me:  “Fair enough…”

Someone deserves a new car, I am beginning to think it might be me.

Dreams of Apple Juice.

I don’t typically remember my dreams.  I know I have some really weird ones because I usually fall asleep to the wife watching Discovery ID and whatever murder show happens to be on.  Lets be honest, Keith Morrison’s voice is like a lullaby…that’s weird, right?

LAST NIGHT, LAST NIGHT, was o-so-different.  Last night involved a former co-worker/friend/biker knight in shining armor, apple juice, rednecks, a mugging, AirSoft pellets and Luke Bryan…

Allow me to explain.

In my dream, wife and I apparently live in an extremely small town.  Apparently, we only have grape juice in the house for visitors.  Apparently, Luke Bryan is visiting and only drinks apple juice.  Here’s where things start to get weird.  (this isn’t weird enough, right?)

Out of nowhere, my wife volunteers my buddy Matt, to drive me to the Sip-n-Shop to get apple juice because it’s late and nothing else is open.  Small town living, amiright?

We are leaving the Sip-n-Shop and two fat, sweaty redneck thugs decide to mug us.  While Matt is wrestling the gun away from the thugs in the most unskilled, WWE way known, I reach for MY gun in my purse, ’cause we made sure I had my LTC and can actually use it.  I realize, as I am shooting the gun at the thugs, something is “pinging” off their shirts and it’s not stopping them…at which point I realize that my wife has loaded my gun with AirSoft pellets. This still isn’t the weirdest part.

We are finally victorious because Matt “kicked some redneck ass!!!” (even in my dreams, my eyes rolled back in my head so hard, I saw my brain) and we head home.

After being asked why we took so long and responding that we got mugged/shot at/why did you load my gun with AirSoft pellets?!?!?! What would you think happens next?  Was there concern for our well-being?  Was there comfort?  Well…no.

The very next thing, is Luke Bryan making sure the apple juice was bottled, NOT in a can.

*cue the alarm, I wake up before I choke Luke Bryan out…*

 

I relay this dream in the morning to my wife.  Because that’s what I do, I share.  After listening to me, staring at me, agape, no less…she asks one question…

“Why was Matt in your dream?”

Yep…that’s my wife.  I am almost mugged, because she sent me after apple juice IN A BOTTLE for Luke Bryan and she wonders why random man was in my dream…I probably deserve a present.

Sidenote:  I will always make sure to have apple juice, in a fucking bottle, in my house…(not really).  Haven’t talked to Matt in months but saw he got a new vehicle on Facebook, and I ignored/listened to American Idol before bed.   I didn’t take any medication/drink alcohol/smoke crack before falling asleep.  I didn’t sleep on the wrong side of the bed nor did I get too hot or too cold.  I don’t know why any of this happened.  It’s.just.my.brain.

You’re judging me right now, right?  Well deserved, I might add…

Sweet dreams

 

Tenderness or Indifference.

I keep trying to get back into this blogging thing. Lord knows, there’s a bunch of mess rolling around in my head most days. I try NOT to indulge the self-serving ways that many think a blog is, but this helps me, get my thoughts to stop banging around in my noggin and I have, at times, put down a word or two that helped someone else. So if in my own, self-serving way, my words have made an impact that helped you, I am glad. If I hurt you, pissed you off, made you laugh, think, cry or roll your eyes, then I hope you forgive or enjoy. My whole goal in life is to leave this world with my mark on it.

I’ve become indifferent in many ways to this world that we have created for our next generation. I guess it’s a “they don’t care, why should I?” mentality. Only, I hate this indifference, this apathy. I have it about certain things in my life and it makes me angry, it makes me sad, it scares me.

I’m not sure what it will take in my lifetime to get me to stop caring about what others think, others do, others say. I honestly don’t know. I’m so indoctrinated into taking care of everyone before me that it’s hard, it’s fucking hard to stop.

It was thrust upon me almost two years ago, to stop taking care of my family, because of the dynamics of my family and the way it has splintered. I’m no longer the person in control of anything other than myself any longer and I find that I flounder. I’m not the person everyone comes to for help and advice, so I don’t know what to say to people when I can’t be bossy. No one seems to want to hear from me, so I don’t bother any one. All of this sounds very “boo hoo, poor me” but it’s not. Quite the opposite. Because I haven’t had anyone else to pick up after, steer the course for, advise or boss around, I have used this time to direct it all inward. hooooo, boy. This has been FUN!

I have become indifferent to the bullshit of others. Which is peaceful and terrifying.

Peaceful, because it’s brought serenity and focus to my own mind. All the different paths I could have taken, the words I could have said…I have played them out in my mind THOUSANDS of times and always come to the same conclusion. Always. There’s no change to what the end game is, and that I could not/can not change the result, brings peace to me, because I have done what is best for me. Each time.

This indifference terrifies me as well. Because I am so indifferent to the BS of others, I am terrified of what will happen should it come my way again. Do I fall into old patterns, revert to that door mat of a person? Do I avoid the people who put drama and bullshit in my life to begin with so I miss out on life and the adventure it brings me?

The anxiety I have everyday about reconciling with people who I have hurt or have hurt me is immobilizing. How do I show love when I still feel hurt and anger? How do I get to tenderness while guarding myself?

I haven’t always made the best decisions. I have tried to convince MANY that we had to do things my way to be happy. That to be happy, we had to all be one big happy, all at once, like on our favorite TV show. I forgot to let things grow organically. I thought I could bull doze my way through my personal life, like I do my work life and it would all be okay by the end of the month, or the end of an episode.

I forgot that life isn’t like that and because I forgot, I have forever changed me and my relationships. It’s life, I own that I am a mess, but I am a mess, because of every choice I made. Good or bad, it’s me, it’s my mess and I have to love it.

I have reached a point that it’s no longer up to me to make amends to most. I have done my best, I have apologized and asked for forgiveness. In asking others for forgiveness, I forgot to get forgiveness from the most important person…me. I let others chew on me, say horrible things to me, wish me dead or maimed or God knows what else, because I forgot to forgive myself and give myself some tenderness. And when I did forgive me, when I did show me some tenderness, I got centered and I got peace.

And I got angry. Who are any of these people, far and wide, to make me feel like shit? Where do they get off thinking they can be cruel and unkind and get same old Stephanie sitting there, waiting for a kindness crumb like some kind of junkie? Why are they allow to thump their chests and tell me how I have wronged them and yet, when I start to speak up, they tell me I am wrong, or mean, or stop communicating? see? it’s better when I’m indifferent. Because this will go on and on…

I accepts I can’t change anyone’s mind. I am who I am. I’m not that bad, actually…I’m kinda funny. Quirky. Definitely structured. I love big. I trust few. I will always have a kind word or a hug for anyone. I try to remember to always be tender. With my actions and my words. Sometimes I fail, but I have hope that tomorrow is different…

That’s not bad, or indifferent, right?

Daddy Knows Best.

It’s been a minute since I could ask my dad for advice. Actually, it’s been 11,037,600 minutes, give or take a minute or two…I think about him everyday. This time of year, it’s more. I guess that’s expected.

Dad taught me many things; how to love, how to work hard, how to take care of everyone, how to dream and how to forgive. There’s many lessons I learned, either through his words or by his example.

“Have no regrets, only lessons learned.”

“Don’t judge a book by its cover, some beauty isn’t on the outside. Get to know someone. You’ll always be surprised. “

“Take care of those who need it most. “

“Say your prayers.”

“Give all your love, you’ll get it back”

“Always use your manners. Say please, thank you and bless you.”

“Remember I always love you.”

Then there are the lessons I learned from his example. When he thought I wasn’t watching him, I was. And I learned about the kind of person I wanted to be. And many of these lessons didn’t impact me until later in life. And once they hit me, he wasn’t here for me to tell him…dad, you were right and I hope you are proud.

Work hard, then work harder. This man had three jobs. THREE. to raise two girls almost completely on his own. The sacrifices he made are staggering. I see them now and they make me ache. I’m ashamed for how petulant I was, or how I took it for granted. As a parent, I get it, but damn…I get it.

Never stop learning. When I was young, he went to night school to better himself. He used to take me with him. I’m contemplating this path, heading back to school to better myself. I don’t have young children at home like he did, and I’m still hesitant. He wasn’t. He always wanted to be better. I wish he knew that he was the best.

Home isn’t a place, it’s the people. Dad moved us around a lot. And each place was home because of him. It was the love that he brought to those four walls. It was the genuine happiness that he felt because he loved us. He was happy to be around us. That’s all that mattered.

Be a lady. Act like you think you should be treated and don’t let anyone treat you like less. Leave something to the imagination and don’t be a whore.

When you find your love and passion in life, hang on tight. This one, he taught me, only it wasn’t because that’s what he did…it’s the opposite of what he did. He let the love of his life slip out of his life because he put me and my sister ahead of her. He thought they’d make it, but they didn’t. And when he died, he died loving her from afar. He died alone. And this hurts me in my soul. Because he was “Daddy” all the time, he lost who the man was, he lost the focus on the future, of who would be with him when we grew up and got our own lives. Who would hold his hand in his golden years. I will NEVER forgive myself for taking that from him. Yes, I was young, but fuck…we knew better. I knew better.

Dad, I know I’m not living the life you saw for me. I know you would be shaking your head, smiling and shrugging your shoulders, but you would be proud of me. Things would be so different and yet, the same as they are. I wish you were here with me now, so I could tell you, so you could share this with me. So I could take care of you, just like you took care of me. So I could tell you I love you and I’m sorry.

I get it. I see it. I heed your advice and know how right you were. I miss you. I’m trying like hell to be the woman, the person, you thought I would be. I stumble, but I do what you taught me, I pick myself up and try again.

I am my fathers daughter. Proudly and unapologetically.