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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Yo Kat!"

I learned today that a good friend passed away and while I'm crushed and my heart breaks for all that loved him, I've been flooded with so many awesome memories of Mr. Michael Lawrence.

"Kat" was the name he called me, even when I introduced myself as Kathy.  Apparently, that just wasn't going to work for him.  Mind you...Michael had the thickest Brooklyn accent and all I could ever think about when he'd talk and tell stories was the movie, Goodfellas.  Michael was loud and when he wanted your attention, he got it.  With me, it was always, "YO, KAT!!" followed by whatever he felt like talking about.

People would joke that he had mob ties...I flat out asked him.  Just a tap on the nose and a wink and a smile would be the answer.  So, of course I'd always flip him shit about it and poke at him and ask him how many people he whacked.  It was always hilarious because he knew I did it because of the accent, but also because of the black leather jacket he'd wear from time to time and whatever hairstyle he had going back then.

Michael always had your back - right or wrong...but only if he cared about you.  If he thought poorly of you, you knew.  You knew because he was honest and caring and was a no-bullshit kind of a guy.
He had his quirks just like everybody else and sometimes he'd piss you off, sometimes he'd get your eyes rolling so far in the back of your head you swear you saw your own brain, but all the good he put out in the world overshadowed anything that could ever be construed as imperfect.

Michael's laugh.  Completely loud, raspy, and hearty - if that even makes sense.  AND you could somehow hear the Brooklyn accent even in his laughter!  How is that possible?  He loved to laugh.  He loved to smile.  But he really loved seeing those things in the people around him.  No matter where that man went...from WA and all the way to Fl, he made friends wherever he went.  It came easy for him.  And if you were lucky enough to be one of his friends, you always got big bear hugs.

He knew how to read people, too.  He had a sense to figure someone out, whether they were someone worth knowing...or someone to kick to the curb.  There were a couple times I got warnings about what he thought of someone's integrity, and looking back, I should've listened.

There was one time that I was going through some hard stuff and there was a person he disliked very much who was the cause of my grief and he told me he'd take care of it.  No one else was in a position to do anything for me in that moment except for him and he promised to make what was hurting me, stop.  I cried when he said this because I knew he meant it and I knew he'd help me because I knew how much my friendship and my happiness meant to him - and him seeing me unhappy was unacceptable.  Of course, I said no - but knowing that he was again, no-bullshit, he'd take care of bringing my happiness back was overwhelming.

Michael was a good influence and a bad influence.  He was real.  We'd have chats from time to time about life, about his love life, about any upcoming surgeries he was not excited about, and about a whole lot of nothing.  He was a fun person.  He was a good person.  He was a brave person.  Who packs up all their things and moves clear across the country to try a new place, make new friends, and STILL maintain the old ones?  He did that.  I was sad when he moved because it felt like I was losing a part of my family.  But when I learned how happy he was out there, I was happy for him too.

So, I guess I had to write this as a means to deal with this right this second, knowing it will hit me again a little down the road and it will hurt all over again.  But I needed to get it out.  I will miss him. I will miss him terribly.  And the dumbest thing is I'll miss being called Kat...because he is the only person who has ever called me that and it stuck.  It was our thing.

Yo, will forever be loved and you will be missed.  Never ever forgotten because there's just too much to remember, my friend.  Not good bye...good journey.

Monday, May 08, 2017

An Early Traumatizing Experience

I remember being in the first grade and seeing my first violent death scene in real life and I wanted to share it here.  

I would've been about 6 or 7 and was waiting at the bus stop when I noticed a crow in the street just hopping around.  I could tell right away that there was something wrong with him as he was struggling terribly and I assumed he must've had a broken wing and even a possible broken leg.  The thing that warmed my heart was seeing a group of his buddies screaming at him to hurry and get out of the street.  I could tell they wanted him back to safety.  They cawed and cawed loudly, hopping around crazily, encouraging their dear friend that he needed to get his ass out of the street and they knew he could do it.  "C'mon, buddy!!!"

And then it happened...

A truck came storming down the street at a horribly fast 25mph, and the cawing got louder, the hopping got crazier, and the bird in the street knew he could make it if he could just get..that...last...bit...of...strength...


Feathers everywhere.

Crunch.  Crunch.

One car after another rolled over the bird and it was suddenly quiet.

His friends sadly came to his side and to say good bye to this soldier that tried hard to make it home to his family to live on a crippled, yet good life.

One of his friends bowed his head in what I can only assume was a prayer to send his buddy up to crow heaven.

Until he started to peck at his dead body.  He started to eat his friend.  One at a time, the crows came down and pecked and swallowed up his still warm body - flew away when cars came, then flew back and proceeded to enjoy their breakfast of champions...or losers.  He lost.

I don't remember why I watched this entire tragedy, but I did.  It was horrific as well as intriguing.

Oh well, waste not - want not.

It truly was the Circle of Life.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Children's Movies and Their Dead Parents (Straight Forward Title, Huh)

I had a conversation with Farrah on our drive home about animated movies.  She had recently seen the movie "Beauty and the Beast" and asked me why in the realistic versions of movies, they go into more detail about things.  I had explained there was more time that way and more adults were watching in order to justify giving a better back story to the story being told.  I said with the movie "Cinderella" they showed that the mother was very sick and that she died. No young child wants to see that.  Farrah told me that's what they did in "Beauty and the Beast", too. (We already knew the mom was dead, people.  Nothing got spoiled there - settle down).

So...after thinking about it for a minute, I pointed out something that I realized...

There are soooooo many animated children's movies that show that one or both of the parents of the main character are either dead or taken from them!  Seriously.  Think about it.  We did.  In fact, Farrah and I found ourselves horrifically entertained by listing the various movies that showed exactly what I'm talking about:

Cinderella (mom dies and gets replaced by shitty stepmom)
Finding Nemo (mom gets eaten by barracuda)
Sleeping Beauty (Aurora is taken from her parents - but, in the movie Malificent, the mother dies)
Tarzan (parents are dead)
Frozen (parents are dead)
Lilo and Stitch (parents are dead)
Jungle Book (parents are dead)
Lion King (dad dies)
Snow White (mom is dead)
Bambi (mom is alive...then dead)
Beauty and the Beast (mom is dead)
Little Mermaid (mom is dead)
Aladdin (parents are dead - then he finds his father in another movie, but mom...still dead)
The Princess and the Frog (dad is dead)
Kung Fu Panda (parents are dead)
Hunchback of Notre Dame (parents are dead)
Big Hero (Tadashi - Baymax's maker aka dad...dead)
How to Train Your Dragon 1 (mom is dead, dad is alive)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dad is dead, mom is alive)

And then there's the "not quite dead, but close enough" scenarios in theses movies:

Dumbo (mom gets taken to prison)
Pinochio (he's kidnapped and taken from his dad)
101 Dalmatians (pups are kidnapped)
Tangled (kidnapped and raised by fake mom)

So, those are the only ones I could come up with and I know I'm missing some.  For instance, I forgot to mention I need to tell you how her parents died?  Because they did.  Both of them.

Why do the story writers decide to go after children's deepest fears?  Seriously.  I get that they are showing how the characters grew up through such a tough experience and persevered, but did they really need to do it without their parents?  Why'd they have to die?  Why was it having a tragedy like a parent dying be the thing that made the kid strong?  I don't think that's how it works or what makes a person show their strength.  How about they lose their first job?  Or maybe they got an F on a test.  Or perhaps the parents are just divorced.  For shit's sake...Bambi's mom got shot.  SHOT!  Tadashi was blown up.  Quasimodo's parents were brutally murdered.  Elsa's parents were on the Titanic...I think.

Maybe the writers of these stories were actually parents themselves and knew if in real life, their child broke out in song one more god damn time and swung from the rafters and let a bunch of forest animals in the house, that would be the last freakin' straw and CPS would be knocking on their door.  That being the case, removing a parent or both parents for that matter, made the most sense.  It sounds like too much work to write them into the story, anyway.  Whatever the reason might have been, it's safe to say that apparently a kid without a parent can grow up to rule an entire kingdom and if that's the case, then Disney has given me permission to allow Farrah to do the rest of this growing up on her own because she'll probably be more successful at life without me.  Looks like I'm going to leave her the house and I'll go travel the world and I'll conveniently find her when she's the CEO of a major corporation.  Seems like the theme to follow.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dear Farrah - A Decade of You

Dear Farrah:

I am writing this while you are still a single digit, but only for one more day (and only for a couple more hours).  Tomorrow marks the anniversary of you entering my life and being the best thing I've done.  It has been ten years of amazingness with you.  What can I say that I haven't already said a million times about you?

You make me smile, you make me cry, you make me laugh, you make me think, you make me mad, and you make me thank god every day that you are my kid.  There are times you make me want to rip my hair out and question everything I'm doing wrong as a parent, as a woman, and as a mother - but you also remind me of everything I am doing right.

You are an old soul.
There is wisdom that comes out of your mouth that astonishes me and I'm not sure where you're getting it because it is beyond what a normal child your age says or thinks.  You know more than what you let on and I see it in your eyes.  Your little mind questions everything and you don't let anything get past you.  We have had conversations that you don't like to have and you get mad at me and I get mad at you and you blow my mind when you say things like, "I'm allowed to have an opinion."  I am forced to stop and actually look at you like you're almost a young woman and not just a little girl and it freaks me out!  Yes, honey.  Yes, you are allowed to have an opinion and I am so proud of you for saying that.  (However - you're just not allowed to have one with your jaw jetted out like that with fire coming out of your eyes and your hands on your hips.)

You're a nerd.
I love this about you!  You read and read and read!  And you are so excited to tell me about the book you're reading, how many pages you read today, how much you love the author and you want to read more and you're sad the series is almost over.  What will you read next?!  You enjoy sharing what you learned at school and you love when I add more knowledge to the subject.  (Remember when you said you were learning about Mars and I told you there was a face on it?  Cool stuff, huh.).  You complain that you can't do math and you don't like it.  But guess what?  You can do it and you might like it!  You're embarrassed that you had a day or two when you went to your teacher 15 times to ask questions about long division?  Oh my god, kid.  I'm so proud of you for knowing that you can ask your teacher for help because after the 15th got it and it clicked!

You've got style.
You love your clothes, but more importantly - you love to make your clothes into your own unique "look".  I'd never step out of the house with mismatched knee high socks going over my leggings with combat boots, but you somehow pull it off and make it look cool.  It's like you've looked at the pictures from when you dressed yourself when you were 3 or 4 years old and said, "Hey, I can make that work again."  And you do!  What??  You're like the 21st century Punky Brewster.  Don't know who that is?  It's okay.  Anyone reading this will know and get what I mean.

You're bullheaded as hell.
While I'm working on this personality trait of yours and it makes me see red most of the time - there's a part of me that is glad you're this way.  You will learn to channel this as you get older and use it when it's more appropriate, and that's why I know you won't take shit from anyone.

Then there's all the things that you're not aware of that make you, you...

When we're driving and listening to music, I'll sneak a peek in the rearview mirror and watch you sing along to my music that you claim to hate (and notice that you know the words by heart).

I see you walk around the house with a book in your hand, reading, and trying to do whatever chore was asked of you.  And I just don't have the heart to ask you to stop reading so you can do what you're supposed to do faster with two hands.

Almost everything I cook is "your favorite" and I'm grateful that I can cook and you actually enjoy it.

When you don't feel well, you need me to be with you and snuggle with you.  I hate it when you're sick, but my heart melts that you need me, still.

Sometimes you want to sleep with me and I don't say yes as often as I used to but it's because you're getting so big and you kick harder now.  Now, you have to make a little fort next to my bed for you to sleep so we're still in the same room.

And my favorite...when you're asleep, sometimes I still come and check on you and steal an extra kiss good night like I did when you were a baby.  I whisper how much I love you and comb your hair out of your face with my fingers and look at you like I did the day the doctors handed you to me.  I'm still in awe with you.  I look in your eyes and I see mine reflected back and I am simply amazed.

I can not believe my little girl is turning double digits.  My heart is tangled by so much joy and a little bit of sadness because of the realization that time goes by so fast.  When we talked about this being the last day she will ever be a single digit ever again for the rest of her life, even her face reflected that of sentimental sorrow.  I remember when she was a baby and I couldn't wait for her to talk so we could carry on a conversation.  Now, I want the clock to slow down because now she has so much to say!!

Farrah, I see only great things in your future but that's because you are so great.  You've seen and experienced quite a bit in your young age and I'm sorry for some of it, but grateful for most because all of it has shaped and molded you into who you are and who you will become.  While you've earned the extra nickname "Turd" the older you've gotten, you are and will forever be my "Kitten".

I love you, Farrah Raquelle the stars and back, forever, infinity.



Friday, August 05, 2016

Just A Lil' Story

Today, I was driving home with Farrah and there was a little Mazda Miata riding my ass.  I was busy talking to her while keeping an eye on the guy behind me, trying to be sure that I kept things safe on my end the best I could.  While taking the turn off the bridge, he was still on my tail until he went up the hill next to me, driving fast and wild while waiving a fist and middle finger at me.  (Don't forget...Mazda Miata, pshhh).

Having it be the end of a long day and an even longer week, I couldn't help what I said..."Fucking ass!  I hope he crashes."

I looked back at Farrah and said, "Oh wow, honey.  I can't believe I just said that.  Oh my god.  What if he crashed because I just said that?  Do you realize how powerful that would make me?"

And we laughed and laughed and laughed...because that would be amazing.

The end.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

My Neighbor, Bob

So, I'm a little choked up tonight because I had a knock at my door at 8:30, and standing there was my neighbor, Bob.  And just like every summer, he has a plastic baggy of various vegetables that he brings to me.  Usually, it is jam packed with tomatoes and zucchini…I wasn't disappointed tonight.

Bob has had a "For Sale" sign outside his house for about 20 days, and today there was a "pending" sign added to it.  When Bob dropped off my vegetables, I had to ask what the deal was and why he was going and when.  He has grandchildren, ages 2 and 4, and one more on the way out and he simply can't stand being away from his family, so he and his wife are going to move to Phoenix, "Of all places." he said.

It was in that moment that my asshole dog came down the stairs and barked her vicious bark and I pushed her away with my toe and he ignored the 8 pound shitty purse-dog like he always has…and this made me sad.  Twig has always barked at men and Bob just got used to it and would either talk to her in the back yard or ignore the noise until she realized he wasn't a threat.  Bob would see me busting my ass in the back yard digging up weeds, mowing what living grass I had left, cleaning the patio, whatever I was doing and hang over the fence and remind me, "You're like a real home owner.  Doing a good job."  And I know he was being nice because those who've graced the presence of my home know the yard is a shit-show and should be burned.
My neighbor Bob, has been kind to me since the day I moved here with Farrah and in his own right, kept a look out for us.  I never truly had the pleasure of meeting his wife except for a note that was left taped on my door one night about my dog that had been left out all night and barked non-stop and kept her up (only it wasn't my dog, because Twig was inside with me)…so that small interaction was, meh. But Bob was and is a very good man and I had no idea how much I'm going to miss him until I put my vegetables in the refrigerator.

Who will these new people be?  Are they going to cheer me on about my awful yard or are they going to write letters to the Home Owners Association?  Are they going to have kids Farrah's age that can play with her, or will they have teenagers who have parties when their parents are gone?  I have no idea what to expect except that I know I am really going to miss him.  Whenever I'd talk about him to James or to friends or other neighbors, I'd refer to him as "Old-Man-Bob".  Because he is…he's old.  But I love having old neighbors and he has turned out to be one of the absolute best.

I suppose Phyllis across the street should prepare herself for some unexpected visits from me from time to time, now.  She's a little older, so she'll do.

Monday, May 02, 2016

From 60 to 0 - Panic at the Disco

I am one that suffers from anxiety attacks and on the rare and shitty occasion, a panic attack.  If you've never had the privilege of experiencing either, bless your fragile little heart.  God knew you probably wouldn't survive either one, so count yourself lucky.  I've talked to enough people that find it "odd" to say that I encounter the occasional tail-spin-out-of-control drama that my body likes to undergo, but hey not everyone is perfect.

When I have an anxiety attack, my heart rate starts to slowly climb, my hands start to shake, my stomach feels nauseous, and I can't focus on anything except desperately trying to calm down.  Sounds like anyone's way of dealing with stress, right?  Except for me, my heart rate doesn't slow down, the shakes don't stop, and the nausea lasts and lasts…all of it continues for hours.  It's quite awful and my brain ends up being scrambled eggs for the longest time and by the time my body has cooperated with me to be somewhat normal, I'm exhausted.

But it's the panic attacks that truly are the worst.  I've had a handful of them in my life and I know others that have had them, too.  They can all be different.  One of my friends swore she was having a heart attack at the age of 24, like an elephant was sitting on her chest.  Nope…panic attack.  Mine are weird.  It can start off like a normal anxiety attack but it goes up about 20 notches.  So my breath comes in faster and my heart beats so fast I can feel it pulsing through my eyes.  What I tend to do is notice the fast breathing and force myself to slow it down, which is actually more like barely holding my breath and breathing fast all at once.  Can you see how this might become a problem?  Then the fun stuff begins…my whole body's reaction to the chaos of my brain…
My fingers start to tingle and so do my toes.  The tingling turns into a slight numbness that creeps up my whole body as if I've been given an IV of lidocaine that is dripping into my entire system.  And the final destination of the numbing effects goes into my eyes and finally into my tongue and lips.
I can't speak when this happens, can barely swallow, blinking is weird, and all I can focus on is the tingling that has taken over my entire body.
If you've never experienced this, can you imagine?  It's awful.  You aren't paralyzed but you are unable to move correctly or do much of anything to fix the problem until your mind and body decide to cooperate and settle down.

A week ago, I almost experienced one of my panic attacks.  I was very upset and could feel my breathing coming at me in the weird waves that they do, the heart rate spiking, and my muscles tensing for the inevitable numbness to come.  But the fantastic thing that happened next, astonished even me.  I actually talked myself OUT of having the attack.  I closed my eyes, told myself I'd be okay, even said "fuck it" to the upsetting situation, forced more balanced breaths, and calmed my heart.  The dizziness in my head was there and the numbness in my fingers began climbing up my hands, but that's where it stayed.  I simply allowed myself to be upset, allowed myself to be pissed, accepted my emotions for what they were and stopped trying so hard to control it.
While I was proud of myself for being able to settle down, I was more excited that I didn't have to take a pill nor explain to anyone around me that I couldn't speak because my tongue felt like I'd been poked in the mouth with a needle 100 times by a dentist.  Embarrassing moment averted!

It takes a lot for me to have a panic attack, and the anxiety attacks run on several different levels.  However, it's good to know that I can simply find little mantras to settle my nerves…

Or if all else fails, take a pill.