Convoluted

distraction4

My name is Juli and I am the mother of four children. No bid deal, right? There are plenty of mother’s of four out there who don’t take the time to right it down. But I’m a special snowflake today so I get to write a blog on how I’m the mother of four.

Why? Because for over 33 years, I’ve been conditioned to not talk about my oldest daughter. See, I was a…wait for it…a teenage mom (long before it was a cool TV show on MTv.) The worst of the worst. There’s like, me and then murderers. At least that was the perception in Pastor John’s house. It didn’t matter that my brother was a child molester, other people can’t see that and as long as we just put a big smile on our faces and pretend everything is fine, we be good. But I was a teenage mom and that was bad. Bad enough that my dad felt he had to tender his resignation and then tell me repeatedly that my parents were so very thankful to the good people of Church of the Master for forgiving me for being so bad and allowing my dad to keep his job. Thanks so much Christians for forgiving me. Hopefully you’d forgive my brother for being a child molestor too…had you known.

It seemed like a big load for a 15 year old but hey, I can take it. I stopped being a kid long ago and I stepped up to the responsibility of carrying a little one. But in reality, I was in over my head. Treading water. Barely making it along with whatever glib meme type saying we can add to the mix to explain that I was in deep shit.

My ‘Abortion Clinic Protesting’ parents quickly said I would get an abortion. Ummm, no. That’s off the table. (And I was the Pro-choice one of the family.) I choose. My choice. I think my mother’s direct words were, “Why do you have to make everything so hard?” Those words stayed with me for a long, long time. Honestly? I don’t know. I don’t know why I make things so hard. I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to be me and not tow the line. I used to wish I knew how. But I don’t. So I’m me and said I’ll have the baby and place ‘it’ for adoption.

But I couldn’t do that at home so I was whisked away to a home for other offenders like me and, after the baby was born and adopted away, I magically reappeared into my daily life as if I’d never been away. OH! Also, I was not allowed to tell anyone or talk about it. To be safe ya know. Imagine my surprise; however; when I brought my baby girl home for a weekend visit before the adoption went through and there were a string of visitors to meet her. Because we weren’t allowed to talk about it. Which, I later learned, meant me but no one else. So I had to share precious moments with others. Others got to hold my baby girl as I was ticking off the seconds where I would never hold her again.

Those were dark days. The darkest actually. And lonely. So very lonely. I ache for 16 year old me. Who had to go through so much so alone. I want to give her a hug and tell her that had I the ability, I would have had her back. But I don’t. So I can’t.

After the adoption was final and I said my final goodbye, I was plopped back into High School life and was told to move on. Don’t talk about it. Just move on. Jesus, we could have our own Lifetime Movie Network movie on how fucked up and dysfunctional our home was. But actually, no thanks. Living through it once has been quite enough thank you very much. About a month afterwards, my mom and I were at Denny’s or somewhere gross like that when she told me that as much as she could appreciate that I was hurting, she was hurting too and resented the fact that I was only thinking about my pain. I didn’t know where to go with that. Still don’t actually. That level of crazy is out of my wheelhouse. Thank goodness.

So I grew up, continued to make life hard on myself (I guess, that’s what my parents would say.) While I didn’t run a fortune 500 company or anything like that, I have had some very nice stints at success in various levels of professional gigs that I’m quite proud of. I went on to have three more beautiful children that I’m so incredibly proud of and a very clean divorce that, believe it or not, am honestly proud of how we handled that one too. My ex and I have co-parented better than anyone I know and I am very happy for him as he has found love again to a wonderful, kick ass lady.

I have two very fluffy dogs that allow me to vacuum each day that surround me in safety and muddy floors and holes in the backyard worthy of childhood attempts to dig to China. And, of course, I have my husband. He is the absolute best. It is a shame my family doesn’t know him and know how wonderful he is. Quite honestly, it’s a shame HIS family doesn’t know how wonderful he is but that topic would be a whole ‘nother blog post of people who don’t appreciate how awesome my husband is and then I would get very elevated and cuss even more than I already do.

Basically, in other words, life’s good. Very good. I stopped looking for fulfillment from the Peterson’s long ago and have learned some tough lessons that even though I do share DNA with others, we do not share ideals on how to go about life and my distance from them is necessary to continue enjoying the life I lead. Sorry not sorry. If you love drama and inserting yourself into other people’s shit, I will ensure you have nothing to do with me.

**SIDEBAR: In 2002 I was reunited with most of my birth family. It was highly emotional and absolutely exhausting. It probably took me over a year to recover from two years worth of reunions and I swore that if I were going through something like that again, I’d do it differently. More balanced. More “one day at a time”, less “emotional roller coaster.” Slow and steady wins this race and I wanted future reunions to be more lasting. I believed setting the tone from the get go would be helpful. In theory. Who knew if we would ever find our older sister and while a day didn’t go by where I didn’t think of my fourth child (first actually, heh) and was always open to a reunion, my hope was that she lived a happy and fulfilled life and thought of me with kindness.**

Then April happened.

I received a text one Sunday afternoon that said, “Hi Juli, this is Becky. Your sister.” Uhhhhhh, what? Our long lost sister? That Becky? Yup! I called right back and instantly was given peace knowing she was okay. And she is. She’s strong, so much stronger than she thinks she is. And one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She has an amazing family and I am so thankful that it worked out for me to run down to East Texas and get to know her face to face even a little bit before a busy summer travel schedule.

It seems my birth brother, whom I haven’t talked to in over 10 years (truth be told, I just don’t like him. He likes drama and jacking people up and I just don’t need any more of that in my life) did a DNA search through Ancestry.com and found Becky. Now, they had been talking for a couple of weeks already and she had even made contact with my adopted brother and his wife. It seems they had even made plans to get together for Christmas next year. All before I even knew she was found.

Okay. Weird. But whatev. Jerry’s wife, Kathy, is notorious for inserting herself in other’s business so I wasn’t surprised she’d already been talking to my sister before I even knew she was there. Standard operating procedure ’round these parts.

On Tuesday of that same week, my brother Jerry called me. Now, he doesn’t call often which is fine. Whenever I’m in the cities, I’ll holla if I have time for a meet up and we’ll share a meal if we can. Just last summer we all had breakfast after a Games and it was enjoyable. It’s all very comfortable and while I don’t feel obligated to talk to him often, it’s always comfortable when I do. Also, he and my birth brother (Jim) have struck up a close relationship and get together fishing each year down in Texas. I always thought that was kind of cool. And proof to my saying that we all have the ability to have different relationships with the same people. Some connections come where others don’t. No biggie. Part of life.

Anyways.

Jerry called and I assumed it was because of my reunion with Becky. But it wasn’t. After about 30 minutes of small talk, he finally told me that my brother Jim had made contact with my daughter Kristina and was forming a relationship with her. Uhhhhhhh, what?

Yes. And though Jerry had known for a few weeks now that Jim had found her and sought her out, Jerry was finally uncomfortable enough with the fact that this was all happening without me even knowing she had been found to get around to telling me about it.

So a brother that I have no connection to other than shared DNA; have not had a conversation with in over 10 years and really knows nothing about me, is now forming a relationship with my daughter.

What the everlasting fuck?!

The last month has been filled with ups and downs. My FOURTH child is strong and beautiful. She has a wonderful husband and a lovely daughter and I’m incredibly proud of all of them. I am equally as proud of Zac, Zandra, and Oscar for taking her in as one of their own and opening themselves up to her. But it’s been tough.

For one, it has brought back to the surface a lot of pain. Dark days revisited. Standing up for what I believed in. Standing alone. Saying goodbye. Dark days. I’ve been conditioned for over 30 years to not talk about this. Keep it closed. But then I remember I’m 50 and fuck that, I’ll talk all I want about it (which actually I don’t very much. It’s a lot to take and I don’t always form my words well which makes me feel bad and goddamn if I am just tired of feeling bad about shit.)

For another, I am doing my best to be conscientious of everyone else’s feelings and how they’re doing with all of this. It’s exhausting. It’s fucking exhausting. I know I am not being everything everyone needs me to be and it hurts. And then there are the distractions. Other people who want to be a part of this reunion who have nothing to do with my life or the lives of my children. Stupid people with stupid distractions who have their own agenda and barrel through while trampling all over any pain or time we need to just simply get to know each other.

Selfish people. I call them pieces of shit but I can be harsh, so I’ll just say selfish people. Those who post all over the Facebook how excited they are that Kristina is found but don’t reach out to me or my other children. Those who invite Kristina to family parties knowing that the rest of us are not invited. (That started over 10 years ago. I would get an e-mail saying Oscar is invited to a family function but no one else from the house can come. Uhhhhh, no bitch, that’s not how this works.)

I have asked repeatedly for space and time. Let us get to know each other. Form relationships. Heal hurts. But that doesn’t fit their agenda so they keep pushing and while I am trying to be respectful of my daughter’s newly formed relationships with them, it fucking infuriates me.

Absolutely infuriates me. It’s a distraction we don’t need. This all takes time. Let things settle and allow us to just breath and get to know each other. Balance. This may not happen in their time, but I don’t care. It needs to happen in ours. Good lord, let us be.

I am a mother of four children. I get to say that now. My oldest daughter is Kristina and she is just as brilliant and beautiful as her siblings. Pain is there, my hope is that it can be lessened in years to come as we get to know each other. But I know this, as long as others want to cause drama and prevent us from getting to deal with each other fairly and reasonably, shit gets muddy. Convoluted.

Time will tell how well we do. I hope for our sake that we are successful. We’ve taken a hit the last 24 hours due to others’ interference. And I can’t stab the stupid people because I don’t have time to go to jail. Fok!

You are either on my side, by my side or in my fucking way.

Choose wisely.

afrobrutality 

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50! Stay above 50!

fifty

Keanu was kind of a hottie in this pic. 

One of my favorite Saturday morning movies is Speed. It’s Sandra Bullock’s debut film and it’s a doozie. I mean, Dennis Hopper, COME ON! So these guys are all on a bus that has to stay above 50 mph or else they get blown up. Klaboowie. Game over.

Kinda like me now. 50. Stay above 50. Cuz, see…

…when I was 17, a major life event occurred. It was two weeks before my senior year in high school and my mom took off in the morning to exercise my brother’s English Sheep Dog, Vickie (Victoria.) She would do this by jumping on the bike and letting Vickie pull her on a long leash across the street in a huge parking lot of a Catholic church. I thought it was stupid, like, it’s Jerry’s dog shouldn’t he be doing this but they (moms and pop) thought this was a good idea. Whatevs.

However; on this particular day; Vickie decided to jump in front of the bike and Mom went flying. Fucking dog. Luckily, she was just across the street and Dad noticed right away that Mom was on the ground and the stupid dog was just standing there. He ran over and there ya go, Mom broke her leg. Off to another trip to North Memorial and the break was bad enough that surgery was scheduled; pins and screws inserted, and hopefully Mom home shortly. Then she got Staph infection, and in many ways, in was game over. By the way, to this day, when someone mentions staph, I take that shit seriously.

Mom’s overnight stay was extended to a couple of weeks. She missed the first day of school. It was bad. See, the first day of school was special to my mom. First off, we always had breakfast for school but the first of day school included regular breakfast plus Dunkin Donuts. (Just the donuts, they didn’t have shitty coffee yet back then.) So she had my Auntie Karen bring over donuts but she called from the hospital crying telling us to have a good day. Yowzer. Not fun.

Something happened to my mom then. Something not entirely awesome. She got a lot of attention for being broken. Broke leg. Broke infection. Sickly. People started to feed a need in her that she only got when she was broken. And for much of the last 30+ years, she’s stayed broken. There have been at least 20 surgeries; many cancer scares, and many illnesses that although I would say much of this has not been her fault: it’s also not been avoided through healthy diet and exercise. By the way, she turns 80 next Monday so good on her for surviving for this long.

But I watched. And I knew. I didn’t want to survive past 47. I wanted to fucking thrive. No sickness. No weakness. No getting attention for anything other than being strong and tenacious. While I am so sorry for her that she has endured so much; I will walk every day trying to avoid her fate. Sorry not sorry. I will not be fed, emotionally or physically, through weakness or illness. I will be fed internally through strength. It’s all I have. It’s what drives me.

However; today I realized something very awesome. That while I am driven to avoid behavior I saw; I also strive for lives I see. Look, I am in constant companionship with amazing women far into their 50’s and beyond. This is the gift I receive not only at every competition but just here on social media. Women who have chosen not to stand back and let aging just happen to them but to redefine what again means and usually, it just means a different kind of PR. PR’ing your lifts at 80 is the shit. Hitting a new WOB PR at 60 is beyond the shit. YOU! You girls? You da man.

Sue Hallen; Ruth Welding; Dawn Higgins; Karyn Dallimore; Terri James; Denise Houseman; Vivian Dawson; Jodi Stumbo; Jane Black (I adore her); Michaela Pennekamp; Teresa Nystrom: these are the women I strive to be. Those who have said goodbye to their 30’s and 40’s and said, “Fuck that, I’ve got more in the tank!” I guess I realized today that THOSE are the women that are driving me.

And I’m so thankful. So very thankful. So thankful to have all of these women to look up to. To admire. To want to beat. Heh. But I know I have to work harder. Longer. More efficiently to do so and that’s what they do for me. They make me better.

So here’s to the 50’s and beyond. May I be blessed with a touch of the talent and longevity that so many have. But when my ride ends I can look fate in the eye and say, “Fuckin’eh, we’ve sure had a blast!”

I’m very sane about how crazy I am.

Carrie Fisher

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Friday Jams: 50 Shades of Music

As few may have noticed, I haven’t posted on the blog for quite some time. Oh, I’ve written posts. Many. But when I go to publish them, I realize that nothing written can be more important than talking about my dear friend Shelly, and her suicide.

And to be honest (TBH), music isn’t either. But I’m trying. It’s been difficult. Oh sure, we’ve had travels and fun and every day stresses that we get through, but deep in my heart there’s always the fact that my friend was in such a bad place and I didn’t even know. In fact, no one knew. Again, I don’t feel guilty, just sad. But I’d like to move on even a little bit if only a blog post does the trick for today. So, Shelly, my lovely friend; I miss you. But today we’re going to talk about music and I think you’d approve.

It is officially Birthday week! No, I don’t really do a birthday week. In fact, this will kick off a fairly quiet week where I’m trying to keep my food on track post Savannah southern cooking and Pre-Boston seafood. The hubs is in town for a few days which means I can put him to work on the grill and keep the protein high and the carbs low. In theory. I just really want bread these days. Poor me.

However, to kick off birthday week, I thought about music and what it has meant to me in my life. See, music has seen me through dark days. It has brought more joy to happy days. It can quickly transport me to a past event and make me write down a current song that speaks to me. I love it. I’m very fortunate that I lived in a world where music was appreciated. Well, not all. Pastor John never was a fan of Prince. But that’s just, like, his opinion man.

1973

I was 6. My brother was 8 and this song was on the radio more times each day than the shortened version of Jane Says on Classic rock stations these days. It was my introduction into Rock. And to this day, it remains one of my favorite. Also, men were manly in the 70’s. Sucks to be you Millennials.

1978

I was 11 and Oooooooo, these girls could sing. See, this was the age where I realized I couldn’t. And if the good Lord came down and sat at my kitchen table right this moment and said, Well Jules what is the one thing you really want in life? I’d be hard pressed not to tell Him to give me the gift of song rather than, ya know, no more cancer or shit like that. I had the 45 of this song and outplayed it. Srsly. Kudos to mother Lynda for not imposing a Pointer Sisters embargo in the home. You can add Donna Summer, Olivia Newton-John, really any woman with a strong, kick ass voice. Those were my idols. Well, and Billie Jean King. Anyways.

Speaking of kick ass chicks…

1980

Who, other than Blondie, could make teenage girls across the country want to become platinum blonde Playboy centerfold punk rock singers? Especially us suburban girls. Give us a little edge and we’ll do the rest (I also went through a brief Chrissie Hynde stage in college. Tons of black eye shit and never combed my hair.) It was glorious. Still couldn’t sing though. That sucked.

1984

Basically, all things Prince. Look, I don’t know how this played out in other parts of the country but Prince was a Minneapolis boy; therefore; he was ours. Heh. He was talented A.F. and freaky and when his shit hit, it hit hard. Of course now the rest of the country (maybe even Pastor John) understands the depths of his talent but back then he changed music and brought my age group out of High School and into the college years; aka, adulthood (no, not adulting. Growing up is a noun, not a fucking verb. FOK!)

That’s it. My childhood in a nutshell. The first 18 years summed up with Rock; Soul; Punk, and Prince (yes, he gets his own distinction.) I’ve written enough about how I didn’t have the Disney childhood; but I tell ya what, looking back at it through music actually makes it pretty fucking cool. I’ll take it.

Nature give you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty. 

Coco Chanel

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Friday Jams: Aloha Darkness

I lost a friend two weeks ago. Well, I didn’t lose her, she left. And I don’t understand why.

However; what I’m coming to realize is that I never will understand. I will never understand how she could leave her daughter, knowing how much she needed her. I will never understand how, while dedicating her life to helping those in mental health distress, she herself couldn’t reach out. I will never understand the depths of her hopelessness in the one moment that became too much.

I can just be sad. Sad for her (I am so very sad for her that she was living with this pain. Of all things, I am so sad for her); sad for her young daughter who is walking through a horrible nightmare and appears completely shell shocked; sad for her family, friends, and coworkers who so clearly love her. Sad for the police officer who now lives with the images of answering a well being check that day. But for my friend, I am most sad that the darkness was too thick to recognize a glimmer of light.

shelly

Shelly and I shared the ultimate bond; we were goalie moms. Even more, we were goalie moms in a small town where neither of us were part of the “click” and so our daughter’s were easy targets for opinions from people whose entire hockey knowledge came from their husbands or worse, those who played the game ‘back in high school.’ (Dude, you were an average player in an average town, let it go.) The head coach was your typical small town head coach which meant that he didn’t have a clue what to do with goalies so he’d berate them thinking the shame will be enough to step up. Other players did drills, goalies got shot on (uhhhh, there are goalie drills dude.) To this day, when I’m in town and run into him on Mai Tai night, he has the good grace to quickly look like a scared dipshit that he is and bolt for the door. Dipshit.

Anyways. Shelly’s daughter, Desi, started playing goalie a year or two after Zandra and I finally had friends. Shelly and her husband at the time, Jeff, adopted me somewhat into their fun loving, musical crowd and I rarely went a weekend without an invite to somewhere fun.

Shelly wanted good things for everyone around her. It drove her nuts that I was single. She was constantly on the lookout to find me a match, even though I was just fine. I dated a guy here and there from their crowd (one was this tall, skinny, weird looking guy who had this quirky Steve Buscemi quality about him. Can’t explain it. Didn’t last long but it is one of those things I look back on and ask myself ‘wtf were we doing there, Jules?’)

She would suggest guys here and there for me and I would ask if she were serious but at the end of the day, being with someone equated happiness and that’s what she wanted for me. We argued about it sometimes. Seriously. That seems silly now but I just didn’t understand why it was so important to her and she didn’t understand why it wasn’t important to me. Such is life. But at the end of the day, she wanted me to be good and to be happy. Isn’t it nice to have friends like that?

We laughed a lot together. There was one time when she and Jeff stopped by the house to pick up something later in the evening and I left it in our mailbox for them. Now, I’ve written before about how our mailbox was outside of an entry window and whenever the mailman came, she would be terrified of Preacher when he jumped in the window and tried to eat her (silly mailman.) Anyways, I heard them pull up and looked down from my bedroom window when two things happened at once; Preacher started barking his scary bark and I saw Shelly rear back in the passenger seat and start laughing hysterically. I guess Preacher scared the ever’living out of Jeff when he jumped in the window and Jeff flew back about 10 feet in utter fear. I can see it so vividly. Shelly laughing. She still laughed about it years later. Me too.

Since she was human, Shelly had struggles. We all do. We all have things that can be hurtful to those around us. We all have habits where we think we’re being helpful but actually aren’t listening to the needs of others. Some of us have struggles that we just can’t seem to put behind us. Scary struggles that only one or a few who are especially close to us recognize. There are even some struggles that are destructive enough where we begin to lose out on the joy of life. Where addictions take over and even when old friends come to town, they become more important than spending time together.

But I didn’t know how deeply she hurt and I am so sorry for that. While I wasn’t a fan of her new boyfriend, I respected her decision to spend time with him. As opinionated as I am, I don’t feel the need to share EVERY thought with people. But maybe I should have about him. He had a darkness to him. Bad aura. Nothing that stood out in a remarkable way, just not altogether right. And I can be a bit hyper-sensitive about other people’s energy. If it’s off putting for me, I stay away. And I stayed away. Now I’m so sorry that I did.

No, I don’t feel guilty. I just feel sad and so sorry. I told her that, this last time. Laying in her coffin, the horrible nightmare jolted into reality. I am so sorry Shelly. I’m sorry you were so sad and felt so hopeless. I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry I didn’t push harder to make time for me when I came into town. I’m sorry I distanced myself on the Facebook. I’m sorry that I distanced myself at all. I’m sorry I didn’t help. I’m sorry that I didn’t know. I’m sorry.

all of a sudden. you were gone.

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