Category: Life

Hire me.

Yep. I need a J-O-B. I quit my dream job in the big city and went home to Southern Illinois. My heart told me to go home and now my bank account is telling me to find a job. I haven’t lived here in a LONG time, but Carmi called, and I answered. If you need a graphic artist slash web designer slash creative director, then I’m your girl.

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Childhood and cookie jars.

CookieJarOver the course of the past 24 plus years I have learned thru experience that parenting is a daily struggle. It’s a welcome struggle, not a burden. Because we all chose to bring our children into this world, we can’t say they are a burden. Well, most of us can’t.

We all have our own stories, as both parents and children. I’m positive there are no perfect parents and I’m also sure no one has ever had the perfect childhood. Physical abuse, mental abuse, divorce, abandonment, deadbeat parents, and endless other situations can both define our roles as children and parents.

As a child I know I definitely didn’t have the best of times. My childhood was defined by one sound I will never forget—one big crash. The sound of a plaster-casted cookie jar hitting the wall at a very high rate of speed is one I will never forget. I can even remember what it looked like. It was a woven basket, the lid had two acorns on top for a handle. It didn’t fare too well against the wall, nor did the rest of my childhood.

My parent’s divorced in the 80’s before divorce became “fashionable.” Divorce was the exception, not the norm. I was only 7-years-old, my sister 10. My 7-year-old mind never quite understood why my parents split. As a child, it was way above my head.

As an adult, I have had many conversations with my mother. Looking back over the years I spent with my father, I’ve realized the rhymes and reasons for the dissolution of my “happy” family. Yes, I said, “years I spent with my father.” Back then (and now) it was unusual for fathers to gain custody of their kids. With that said, my mother was the best mother I could have ever asked for. She was loving, caring, tender and attentive—everything a good mother is supposed to be.

My father, however, was so much more than I ever thought he was, and not in a good way. When I was a young boy he was my world. He would do all the right things a good father should do. I know he loved my sister and me, but because he used us as pawns in a divorce, he was a horrible father. He took advantage of two very naïve and scared little kids. He used a pack of lies and half-truths to fight and take us away from our mother.

He emptied the bank accounts and left my mother with nothing. Without money she couldn’t fight him. We knew only what our father told us.

He scared the devil out of us when the judge took my sister and I into his chambers. We both told the judge we wanted to live with our father. It is a choice no child should ever have to make—ever. I have regretted this for many years.

After our father was awarded custody of us, we packed up and moved to Carmi, Illinois. We left our school, our home and most of all, our mother. I adapted rather quickly to the routine of my new life, but never really settled in. My sister, however, did not. By the time she was 12 or 13 she had moved back to be our mother. I honestly believe my father thought that if he took us away from our mother she would see things his way and come back. Of course she didn’t. And I am so glad.

My father is selfish and self-centered—a classic narcissist. It took me longer than I wish it had to figure out my father never did anything that didn’t benefit him in some way. My father used my sister and I as bait. When the bait didn’t produce any bites for him, he had no use for me. It’s too obvious to me now, and the pain still surfaces quite often.

The pain shows in the way our relationship has gone over the last 30+ years—the relationship he doesn’t have with me, my children, or even my grand children. It is astounding how unconnected he can be. We sometimes go months without communicating and when we do it is short and impersonal. It’s like I’m just another generic member of a group text.

The upside is that my mother and I are closer than we have ever been. She is my rock and my world, and her husband, my stepfather, has been more of a father than my biological one ever though of being.

I wish I could turn back time and tell the judge I wanted to live with my mother. But, I can’t. The one lesson I did learn from my father was how not to be a bad father. He showed me exactly what I didn’t want to be. Through my own divorce, my kids were the top priority. I have readily sacrificed and will continue to sacrifice to give them every ounce of happiness I can give them. I don’t know if I succeeded. And I’m sure they both have good and bad stories of their childhood. But, I know I can lay down ever night in my bed and be confident that I always put their needs first.

My kids were conceived when I was very young. I have tried from day one to give them my best because they deserve nothing less. They have never been a burden. Sure they have tested my patience to almost the breaking point and pushed every one of my buttons and they’ve taken advantage of me, but that’s OK. They have given me years and years of happiness. They have hugged me. They have spent time with me when they would have rather been with their friends. They call me—a lot. They trust me. They have put their own children’s lives in my hands without hesitation. Most of all, they have loved me unconditionally, and me them.

My children, a burden? No way.


Mike-Michael Collard is one of my life-long friends. We cruised many back roads in his vintage ‘70 Mustang “back in the day.” Professionally, he has driven a truck over-the-road for as long as I can remember. Too many long roads have given him time to overthink everything and hone his outspoken, independent, hell-bent attitude. With a little coaxing I convinced him to share some of his writing with me to publish here. When not on the road he spends a lot of weekends spoiling his six grandkids and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seventh.

 

Mistakes of the past.

BrokeHeartThis week has been full of epic highs and epic lows. I don’t want to write about the highs, they just make me really sad now. But the mistakes of my past need to be addressed.

This week my character was questioned because of my past. I was judged and dismissed without any input or explanation from me. Sure, my past is full of being arrested, bad marriages, bad decisions, and me being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of which I own. I’m not proud of it, but they are mine and mine alone. But my past also has many arrests that led to dismissed charges and vindication, some epic love stories, and lots of other great things. And even as bad as some of the things in my past are, what I was confronted with was not entirely accurate. I don’t like being dismissed without being able to defend myself. If you are gonna judge me, at least get the entire truth before you make a decision.

I said recently, “it’s amazing how some people will question every good thing you do, but believe any bad thing they hear about you.” This week proved it.

I have fought my own inner demons for years. Sometimes I won, and sometimes they won. There were times when I drank too much and forgot what was important in life. And sometimes my only excuse is my own stupidity. There are times when my truth is harder to believe than any fiction a great author could come up with. Number 78 of “My 100” is “I am definitely a better person than I was ten years ago.” And that is true. It’s also true, that some of the leftover baggage has spilled over until just a few years ago. But you know what, I have avidly tried to pay my penance for past mistakes. I pay every single day. I will continue to pay. I’m fine with that. I make mistakes on a daily basis and there will never be enough days to make right some of my wrongs. But I will never quit trying.

I always seem to forget that everyone is not like me. I am nonjudgemental, I love unconditionally, and I never give two shakes about past mistakes someone else has made. I have proved this over and over. I don’t care what has happened in your life before I met you. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care about prison time, shady business practices, divorces that lasted decades, etc. I care about what I see when I look into your eyes. I thought I could see the heart that way. Evidently I was wrong.

I take offense to the uninformed people who try to define me by my mistakes. Who’s to say a mistake of 15 years ago still doesn’t follow them around too? The same people who judge me are judging you too. People who don’t matter will always look for the worst in me (and you too). And people don’t forget, and neither do I.

I am not perfect and don’t claim to be, but no one else is either. Every day starts with a prayer of renewal, thanks, and strength to keep going. I will never apologize for who I am, but I will continue to try to make past wrongs right. My mistakes are not the only part of me. And two weeks is not enough time to know everything about me, both good and bad. You never let me explain my faith or my reasons for it.

I will gladly answer any questions about my past honestly. Am I mortified to have to talk about it? Yes. Am I embarrassed? Of course. Am I scared of your reaction? Most definitely. But I can’t change it. Those who know me well, know everything about my past and still love me. This is why my circle of friends is small, but very tight. My past is also the reason I guard my heart fiercely. I don’t let just anybody in, probably never will. This past week has proven how right I have been to guard it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to my life. Looks like I am headed back to the big city. Gonna swallow my pride and ask The Post to take me back. They have been great to me in the past and when I left April 24th they told me I always had a place there. So Monday morning I will finally buy another car, pack it up and head to St. Louis. Tuesday morning I will go to my meeting and find out if I’m staying or leaving the city.

I’m trying to trust the journey right now and not make too many plans. When I came “home” in April I was saying the same thing. I trusted that God would show me what path to take when I was presented with an option. So far, St. Louis seems to be the option. Although, Chicago is running a close second. Maybe the farther away the better. But back in April, I was confident He was calling me home to Carmi, now I don’t think I was listening well. Or maybe His plans for me have changed.

Seems like the only positive constant in my life has been my job. I may suck at life, but I am awesome at what I do. Ask anybody. I need to go back to 70+ hour work weeks so I don’t have to think, feel or have regrets. I can’t play the coulda, woulda, shoulda game anymore. But it doesn’t make me any less sad it just reminds me how absolutely broke my heart is. Time won’t heal this, but a guitar would help.
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After midnight.

I have realized I do my best writing after midnight. Well, maybe not my best writing, but my most honest writing. And since right now my sleep patterns are kind of crazy and it’s a little after 1 a.m. I will write.

I have caught myself thinking too much lately. I’ve been thinking about someone. I’m really pissed off at myself for even letting this happen. I’m not anti-dating, anti-boy or anti-anything. It’s just that I made the conscious decision almost 5 years ago to date like a man. This means, no strings, no expectations, no long term, no getting used to anybody, no toothbrush at his house, no commitment, no nothing.

Call me callous, but this has worked relatively well for me for the past five years. Then last year I let my guard down temporarily and got burnt horribly. I knew better, and my heart payed the price.

Don’t get my wrong, I am far from perfect girlfriend material. Click here to read a post from back in January where I explain some of this. I think part of my problem is I have been in self-imposed isolation for too long. I have gotten too used to being on my own. I love the perfect solitude, but right now all I can think about is not being alone and it is freaking me out. And, I have turned down 4 guys in the last month.

I am so sick of all my friends telling me just to do what makes me happy. Wanna know what makes me happy? Brandon and Luc, beautiful flowers, unlimited Mountain Dew and Twinkies, loud music, water (ocean or lake), medium rare steak, my phone ringing, Adelitas Way and Cracker Barrel salad—just to name a few.

It’s hard for me to admit, but thinking about him still gives me butterflies. I can’t shake it. I can’t figure out if this a good thing or a bad thing. Worse yet, is I just wrote it here and he’ll probably read it at some point. I haven’t figured out how far I can put my guard down, still be completely honest, but not scare him off and not lose myself in the process. Does that even make sense?

For now, I will remain calm, listen more than talk (which is easy, because I love the sound of his voice), pray a situation works itself out sooner rather than later and try to carry on with business as usual. Right now business as usual is getting back to making money, figuring out exactly where I want to live and then doing something about it. The kicker is doing all this without thinking about him. Fat chance.

I have said, “it is what it is” way too many times lately. And although it is correct, I want to never have a reason to say it again. I respect the situation, but I don’t like it. I even understand it, but I don’t like it. I want him to be happy and I want to help with that. I want to take care of him—and him take care of me. I want dull Saturday nights with him curled up on the couch, eating pizza and watching the big screen. I want Sunday afternoon ballgames at Busch Stadium with him. I wanna get started spoiling my grand daughter (she’ll be here August 22). I want him to realize his happiness is important.

I want him to choose me and let the rest work itself out. Isn’t it about time for something amazing to happen?
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Open road.

NewYork

There is a certain intimacy between two people when they ride in a truck together for four days straight. Long conversations were had, confessions were made, secrets were shared and there were also some great political debates. We are both smart enough to appreciate our differences. And talking about the past—our failures, successes, heartbreak, love and everything else in between felt good.

I have always claimed to be an open book. And that is not inaccurate. But I don’t volunteer a lot of what I consider personal info about myself. If asked about something directly, I will always tell the truth, just maybe not the entire story. There has always been a part of me that has stayed hidden.

Now, I feel the wall coming down. I haven’t revealed everything in my soul, but I now feel safe if I want to. Life slowed down for four days, although the days seem to have flown by. I actually had time to think. My phone didn’t ring much, I wasn’t at my overflowing desk, and I had no interruptions. It made me realize there are a lot of things I want to say, when the time is right.

I have decisions to make. Some of them are pretty big. I have always trusted my gut. Sometimes this has been an asset and sometimes not. My instinct has sometimes let me down. In recent years I have tried to make decisions with no emotion. But right now, I think I should let my heart back into the equation.

I have stopped worrying about the future. I know it’s cliché, but whatever is meant to be will find a way. I have to force myself to remember I am only responsible for my own happiness—everybody else is on their own. Of course seeing the people I care about happy, makes me happy, but they need to make their own happiness. I also have to be reminded that when the people I love are hurting, I have to let them find their own way. I have to let them make their own decisions, even if I think they are wrong.

Sometimes screwed up circumstances bring people closer together. Dealing with problems with a partner sometimes makes them easier to handle. No one should have to face hard times alone, unless they want to. A cure for a seemingly impossible situation can be solved, or at least made easier, with the support of someone who cares. Having a sounding board is always a good thing too.

I’m ready to get back in the truck again, but my day job will probably prevent it for at least a few weeks. But my laundry is done and my bag is repacked, and who knows, maybe I might get back on the road again sooner than expected, it all depends on the decisions I make.

A wall comes down. True and pure love between friends is the best kind.
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Days.

Some days I am not quite myself. Some days I crawl into self-doubt and don’t come out. Some days I think about every mistake I made in the past. Some days I drink too much wine. Some days I miss people I shouldn’t. Some days I don’t do one single good thing. Some days I smoke too much. Some days I say hurtful things to the people I care about the most. Some days I forget to be thankful for all the things I have.

Other days I kick ass. Other days everything goes right. Other days I still believe in fairy tales. Other days I still believe something amazing is about to happen. Other days I still think he thinks about me too. Other days I think about all the goals I have achieved. Other days I remember how to use my brain. Other days I remember the past and smile. Other days I think about the future and smile too. Other days my hair is perfect and my high heels don’t hurt my feet.

Today I think about home. Today I think about my dull headache from too much wine last night. Today I am hypnotized by the noise in the office. Today my hair isn’t perfect, but my feet don’t hurt so bad. Today I kicked a little ass and I may kick some more. Today I don’t care if anybody is thinking about me except one person. Today I think that money doesn’t matter, except the lack of it. Today I think that I can just be me, and that is okay.
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And today, I write.

Yesterday I made the commitment to write every single day. Then I woke up this morning, looked at my website stats and realized someone had been reading a lot of stuff this morning at about 12:36 a.m. (And of course, that is OK.) So then I started reading my stuff again to kickstart my memory and basically to just see how embarrassed I should be over all the stupid shit I have posted from time to time. But then I thought about that for a minute or two. Sure, there is some not so great stuff on here, and there is also a lot of stuff that is super personal, and there is also some really great stuff too. But what’s the common denominator? They are all me—the good, the bad and the ugly. My life has been a journey and I am still a work in progress. But I won’t ever be a fake. I own my mistakes, I still cry for some lost loves and I still stand by my mantra of “not unhappy.” I know it’s a cliché, but “everything happens for a reason.” And then I write about it.

Of course I am still in the habit of overthinking everything, but maybe this time I will just go with the flow. Yeah, right. I have started thinking about the novel I burnt and all those words that are just gone now. I have got to dig out my old journals to get a grip on just how much I have grown in the last ten years. Although I am and always will be a realist, I still believe something amazing is about to happen—every single day. I’m still working on my lack of patience.

I need to spend some quality time in the welding shop with my favorite toy, the plasma cutter. There is something about having my work clothes on, getting dirty and creating some killer art out of steel that is good for my soul. A friend has said that the welding shop is just my illusion of actually doing some hard work, but I disagree. Just because I sit behind a desk for sometimes 12+ hours, doesn’t mean I don’t work hard—I just work smart.

Along with my writing every day commitment, I am also going to try to write about the stuff I don’t want to write about. As much as everything I write has been true, it sometimes hasn’t been complete. There is still a piece of me that I don’t share. It’s hard to write about the stuff that isn’t so great. I need to not hold back, write everything. And I shall try to do that.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” ―Paulo CoelhoThe Devil and Miss Prym

This quote jumped out at me this morning, and I’m going with it.
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GaGa over GaGa.

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Lady GaGa and Julie Andrews, Oscars 2015. A perfect moment captured after a beautiful performance.

OK, I will admit it, I had never really gave Lady GaGa a second thought. I just assumed she was all hype, meat dresses and made up weirdness. I never thought about her musical talent. Then there was the Oscars on Sunday. Wow! She sang a medley of songs from one of my favorite childhood movies, The Sound of Music, and just absolutely nailed it. Her pitch was perfect, she looked beautiful and her sound just almost took my breathe away. So then I decided I should maybe listen to some of her stuff and instantly fell in love with this. I love music with a message. She may have jumpstarted my creative juices, which have needed a swift kick in the ass lately. I have been somewhat paralyzed lately and being around and influenced by creative people feels great. It’s nice to be reminded that we artists may be an eclectic bunch, but we are true to ourselves. I don’t know how to be anybody but me, no matter what anybody else thinks. No apologies for being me. I’m single, white and straight, but that doesn’t mean I am the only one born perfect.  “I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes.” Thanks GaGa.

Born This Way (The Country Road Version)

It doesn’t matter if you love him or capital H-I-M
Just put your paws up
‘Cause you were born this way, baby

My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are
She said, ’cause He made you perfect, babe
So hold your head up,
girl and you’ll go far
Listen to me when I say

I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way, born this way

Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
Baby, I was born this way
Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way

Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Don’t be

Give yourself prudence and love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice of truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth

A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M
I love my life, I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah

I’m beautiful in my way,
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
Baby, I was born this way
Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way

Don’t be drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient

Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
‘Cause baby, you were born this way

No matter gay, straight or bi
Lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born to survive

No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born to be brave

I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Don’t hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way, yeah

Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
Baby, I was born this way
Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way
I was born this way, hey
I was born this way, hey
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way, hey

I was born this way, hey
I was born this way, hey
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way, hey

Read more:  Lady GaGa – Born This Way Lyrics | MetroLyrics

What is real?

There will always been room for your hand in mine.
There will always be room for your hand in mine.

I have been trying to distinguish the difference between real and fake. Recently, my memories may be altered, I may not be remembering things as they actually were. And I have no way to know for sure. I am sad that what I remember may not be real. I want my memories back.

I have watched way too much TV lately. I’m late to the game, but am absolutely obsessed with “The Walking Dead” and of course Saul afterwards. I have rewatched every single episode of “Covert Affairs”, and only one person knows why. I have also been watching Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, which has improved my mood tremendously. I had forgotten how funny and cutting edge they were for 1968-1972. Goldie Hawn was/is so beautiful and her role was priceless.

The weather has been horrible here. Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky has turned into a deep freeze. Bitter, bitter cold has paralyzed the region and me too. I have taken a few days to regroup at my folks’. And that seems to have helped a bit. At least I’m writing again. Brandon is hopefully going to bring me my sketchbook and pencils tomorrow morning.

I have downloaded A LOT of music too. It has been a challenge to keep my iPod charged up. Some days I listen to all hair bands, other times it’s all tear-jerking, sappy, cheesy love songs. What can I say? I’m diverse. Song lyrics are the accompaniment to my life. (#80 of My 100). And why have I just discovered the greatness that is Pandora? I have been missing out.

I have also been busy buying stuff for Andy and getting licensing, merchandise, etc ready for Kentucky. We have also spent many nights after 9 pm just laughing at whatever we were watching on TV and eating delicious food he makes. To say he has a very special place in my heart is an understatement. I have had a lot of diversions lately and he has tried his best to keep me on track. Sometime he wins and sometimes he doesn’t.

My latest technical battle has been with an iPhone 5C. This particular phone is somewhat of an oddity. It’s CDMA and GSM. Alltel was the last carrier, which is CDMA. I unlocked GSM part, but the CDMA is giving me fits. I really think a hammer is the only option. Matt and Ashley are my two new friends at Apple and we have been talking almost daily for the past week. They are learning as much from me as I am from them. I have also changed out the hard drive in my MacBook Pro and have been loading software for the past two days. I have upgraded my Creative Suite to CC and I haven’t had a chance to really use it and decide if I like it or not. Right now I am downloading a copy of Windows to install on my Mac. I used Boot Camp a few years back to do this for a friend of mine, but I am not really feeling it for me. The only reason I am corrupting my Mac is because so much CDMA software is PC and also since Apple released the 8.1.3 OS update for iPhone, I haven’t been able to jailbreak my phone, and I hear though the grapevine that there is a PC way to do this. We shall see.

Always,
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Distracted.

I will admit it, I have been distracted lately by things that don’t matter. The Tina and Saul drama doesn’t affect me in any way, so I should just quit thinking about it and let law enforcement do it’s job.

Witnessing horrible relationships have made me appreciate the great ones I have in my life. I have some amazing friends who swarm in when they need to. They never judge and they truly understand unconditional love. And I love them too. And I think I have finally convinced my heart to listen to my brain for once. They say that the best comes from the worst and that is where I am putting my faith right now. So far it’s working, and if it doesn’t, I’m OK with that too.

This has been a long week. I have more questions than answers and I wonder just how much of everything I have been told is a lie. Just because I don’t respond doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means I can’t. I can’t because it will only make things worse. I will not relax my morals. I will not relax my standards. And I definitely will not sacrifice my happiness. Things are going too well for me right now to get off track and confuse real love for fake love. I like everything real and that is where I am going to stay.

There is no room in my life for fake anything. I work hard, play hard and love hard. And so far, this chapter has the makings of the best one yet. And, I let him hold my hand. Yep, that’s progress.
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