We’ve come full circle

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I’m sitting here with tears of pride and joy in my eyes.

sarah and meWhen Sarah enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school, I felt this incredible sense of delight and honor! This child, who grew into this proud, independent, strong, secure Marine from the tiny, scared, non-communicative little urchin we adopted when she was just five years old, followed in her parents’ footsteps and made the courageous decision to serve her adopted country – much like I did, and much like her father did.

She didn’t join for a lack of other options. She could have gone to college and partied on like many college students did. But she chose the hard route. She became a Marine, and the sense of absolute pride and exultation I felt was indescribable!

Fast forward a couple of years.

Daniel is now a college student in his second semester at UNC Charlotte. He has joined a fraternity. He’s quickly acclimated to college life, made friends, and learned how to study, write, and analyze and synthesize information. But he wanted more, and he wanted it now.

So today, my youngest child raised his hand and upheld the family tradition of military service. Daniel has enlisted in the Army. He’s the last one – the youngest one – the one who completes this circle his father and I created when we first started this family. He wanted to serve. His last Facebook post says it all.

I remember being a little boy and seeing my parents lace up their boots and walk out the door wearing the United States Army uniform, and thinking how badly I wanted to be just like them. Then I remember seeing my sister wearing the United States Marine Corps uniform for the first time and thinking how proud I am of her. Today, I leave to enlist in the Army and hopefully continue the family tradition of service. Never thought this day would come.

me and dannyDanny went to MEPS this morning and took the oath to serve his country. After taking the ASVAB and going through all the medical exams, he told me in a text message that the best part, other than swearing in, was when the doctor looked over his paperwork and said, “Congratulations, and thank you for serving this great nation!” He told me he almost cried, and that was the most beautiful thing he said today. It shows love, pride, character, and honor.

Yes, he will finish college. He will ship to basic training at Ft. Sill after he completes this semester. He will withdraw for one semester, and return next spring to continue his education, while serving in the Army Reserves.

My only regret is that I couldn’t be there, but there’s no end to my love. I’m beyond honored to be his mom. I’m beyond overjoyed. I’m beyond touched to have inspired this beautiful child and his sister to strive to be the best they can be.

I love you, Danny!

Blowing out 2015

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I was looking through my Facebook timeline yesterday – something I rarely do, because mostly, I hang out in closed groups and share news articles – and I was absolutely shocked at how many of my friends have had a really lousy 2015! There have been deaths of loved ones, divorces, money issues, bankruptcies, illnesses… I was amazed to see how many of my friends and loved ones have gone through horrible hardships this year, and while misery sometimes loves company, I’m certainly not even remotely happy at the stresses and tragedies people I love have faced!

A friend of mine mentioned yesterday that he has been seeing fewer homes decorated for the holidays this year. I’m noticing a similar trend. It’s just not as festive as it usually is. Even the malls aren’t as crowded and festive this year. Has it been a bad 2015 for many? It certainly seems to be the case.

The year – by any standard – has been a nightmare. Between the thieving, lying child molester Cooper first stealing my house, and then causing thousands of dollars in damages, several court dates to evict the bastard, unsuccessful efforts to sell the house, the job trials and tribulations, the stress of moving into a smaller place (thanks, Cooper, you miserable, thieving fuck!), and some personal issues still being worked through, this year has been a bitch.

But through all the awful stuff that happened, a few bright points broke through the darkness that brought light and joy to my life. Danny heading off to college and having a wonderful freshman experience. Sarah graduating from the Defense Language Institute. My friends pulling together and helping me pay the legal costs of evicting Cooper and his housewrecking wench from my house. Two incredible friends, who wouldn’t take no for an answer after offering me a loan, and told me to pay it back when I could. A wonderful reader who handed me a new laptop when mine shit the bed earlier this year. My wonderful parents helping me make mortgage and rent payments, so my credit rating wouldn’t be impacted.

And loofisher houseking back at this year, I realized something: Giving makes it better. Kindness makes it better. Acts of kindness blow out the negative and spread light. I had some points on one of my credit cards – quite a few of them, actually given the number of times I had to use it this year to help pay bills – so the other day, I donated those points as cash to a veterans’ association. I also made the first donation I promised to make after leaving some money for legal and collection bills, since I doubt the Coopers are honorable enough to pay for the damages the court has judged them to be responsible for. The Fisher House Foundation has received a $1500 today to help them build a new Fisher House.

Another donation will go to a local homeless charity that also helps homeless veterans – A-SPAN. That will happen probably tomorrow. I’m actually considering splitting this remaining gift between A-SPAN and a charity that helps victims of sexual abuse. Given Cooper’s sex offender status, I thought that was appropriate. I just need to find the charity. When my buddy Amanda started this drive to help us with legal bills, I promised that not a penny of it would go to my mortgage, because the last thing I wanted to do was use money honorable friends gave me to keep the child molesting squatters in my house. I swore I’d rather let it go to foreclosure, and promised to donate anything not used for legal bills (and, of course, fees from GoFundMe and PayPal) to charity. This is the first payment of that promise.

Last night, we were hanging out with some friends at Hard Times Cafe. As we were walking out, a woman came up to us. It was quite obvious she was homeless and had everything she owned, including a whole bunch of plastic bags, in a shopping cart. She came up to us, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Excuse me. Would any of you be able to buy me a sandwich?” Now, I’m not in the habit of throwing money at people who come up to me on the street, but food for someone who is hungry? That’s another story. Something in me pinged a little. I looked and her and said, “A sandwich? Come on.”

I took her inside, and she sat down at the table. We looked at a menu, and she asked for a barbecue chicken sandwich, some fries, and a root beer. She told me her name was Janice, and that she took a bus to Arlington from DC, because she was hungry and was hoping to find something to eat, as she’s diabetic, and not eating is a no-no. I introduced myself and shook her hand. She was wide-eyed and grateful. I don’t think she expected to get a full meal. Nor do I think she expected anyone to look her in the eyes and shake her hand like a human being. I paid the bill, gave the waitress some extra cash, and told her “Please take care of her. She’s homeless.” Then I walked out.

So why am I telling you this? Because given the number of my friends who have been dealing with an inordinate amount of crap this year, I think it’s time to blow out 2015. I realize we have a couple of weeks left in this horrid year, but you know what? I want to start stomping on it early. I want a head start of positives in 2016. I want to enter 2016 on a high note, not trying to scramble out of the darkness and misery that was this year.

So maybe we have experienced losses this year – both financial and personal – and maybe we aren’t exactly full of holiday cheer. Maybe all we want to do is hide in a corner and weep a bit. Do it. Get 2015 out of your systems, people! Blow it out early, and enter 2016 full of hope and joy! You don’t have to give money. Hell, most of us don’t have it to give. But you can help a clothing, food, or toy drive. You can spend some time to help grade-school kids read better. You can give some career counseling to a young person, help them with their resume, or help them network in their field.

Point is, don’t let 2015 defeat you. Get up and start kicking it in the ass early, and start 2016 stronger and more positive.

Back from Thanksgiving Hiatus

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My son came home for Thanksgiving. I miss him daily while he’s in college, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to say “goodbye” when he drove off on that misty, chilly Sunday morning. I hadn’t seen him since I helped him move into his dorm in late August, and it seemed impossible that this kid grew another inch and matured another mile during this time!

I have a photo 2012-9-14-RedWineof his 11th birthday celebration framed on my desk. He had moppy ginger hair and a baby face. I can’t help but see that little boy in my clean-cut, somewhat clean-shaven… sort of… young man.

So, I decided to cut my blogging for the week and enjoy the time I had with the kid. We got last minute tickets to the Caps / Jets game, which the Caps won, and which we watched from very cool seats in a suite at Verizon Center. We went to get coffee at the Starbucks where he used to work. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents and ate too much food. I’m currently still getting over the food coma!

Now it’s back to work. Back to reality. Back to the problems I left behind for at least a while.

I told Danny this would be a lean holiday this year, and he was beyond understanding. I’m sure Sarah will be as well. I raised my kids to appreciate the love they get and even small gifts that are given with love will be treasured! grimes

Yes, I will have to take the house off the market and hand it over to the bank, because I can no longer afford to pay the mortgage and my rent. I’ve put thousands of dollars into that place, and thanks to that child-molesting scumbag Cooper and his shrew having first stolen, and then wrecked my house, the time to sell it has passed, and I will lose thousands of dollars both in equity and in repairs. But hey… at least I won’t be financially responsible for it any longer. And maybe we can stop living paycheck to paycheck when I won’t have to pay the mortgage in addition to my rent anymore.

Overall, I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. I didn’t do a blog post for Thanksgiving about it, because I didn’t want to think about all the crap that went wrong this year, and then sit around trying to look on the bright side of every single shitty event. Frankly, examining each sore is exhausting, and trying to come up with something positive like a bandage to cover it is even more so. In the end you kind of wind up looking like Rick Grimes after a fight with an abusive spouse.

I’m just grateful to be still alive, still healthy, have a great set of kids and animals, and a balcony where I can sit and sip a glass of wine after work. And oh, boy, I’ve gone through a lot of wine!

 

 

In Gratitude

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As you all know, my laptop shit the bed the other day. After a couple of days at the shop, they’ve determined the hard drive is bad, so I’m paying them $200 to replace it. I figured I wouldn’t be able to work, or blog, or do anything else for a while, other than surfing Facebook from my phone, for a while, but then came an angel.

Quite literally.

OK, maybe not quite literally, but to me, this person is an absolute lifesaver! We spoke a few times via email, and to make a long story short, he gave me a new laptop. Just like that. I picked it up today, so here I am.

I’m fairly sure he probably doesn’t want me to get into details about him, but needless to say, I’m back, I’m writing, and I couldn’t be more grateful. These are the kinds of people who make this world a better place, who take care of others when they can, and who make me appreciate people and inspire me want to be a better person myself.

As soon as I get my old computer back, copy the documents I need and scrub it, I will donate it to someone who needs it. Because a guy named Michael gave me the opportunity to start working again, and I want to do what I can for someone else.

Thank you, Michael! Thank you so much!

That's how happy I am to be working again!

That’s how happy I am to be working again!

Blogging to Cease for a Bit

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I’m writing this from my iPhone, so lest you think me illiterate, I’ll just say this up front. “DAMN AUTOCORRECT!”

  
Anyway, the reason blogging needs to stop for a while is because my computer has died. It’s dead, Jim, and thanks to the thieving, child-molester David Cooper and his enabling wife Pamela, who first stole my house, and then wrecked it on their way out after they were evicted, I have no resources to buy a new one. 

The computer is in the shop. If they can’t repair it, I’m not sure what I’m going to do, since I won’t be able to work. But for now, let’s keep our fingers crossed that it can be fixed and that it won’t cost too much. 

I know many of you realize how difficult it is to blog from one’s phone, so blogging will cease for a bit, unless the husband decides to write an entry on his system. 

Behave yourselves while I’m gone. 

Happy Birthday, Daniel

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I was sitting at my desk at work on September 11, 2001, planning my son’s fourth birthday celebration. When he woke up that morning, he wanted Chinese food for his celebration dinner. Why, you ask? Because the local Chinese buffet had pizza.

No, I’m not kidding.

I was on AOL IM (does anyone actually use that program any longer?) with my buddy Mike Williamson, and we were chatting about the usual stuff when he wrote that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

At that time, I replied that it must have been one drunk pilot, because my assumption was that it was a little plane with a very confused (and expired) pilot. We didn’t know any better at the time.

A few minutes later Mike wrote, “Holy shit! We’re under attack!” as we learned of a second plane and the Pentagon.

I desperately tired to reach my NCOIC (I was in the Army Reserves at the time, doing my drills in Crystal City), but all phone service had gone to shit.

I tried to reach my then-husband, but it was a no-go. He was in some kind of class, and he hadn’t heard the news. When he finally called me, I told him to call his work. He worked in the national security field.

I finally left work early and drove home to be with my son. I hugged him tight and told him daddy wouldn’t be home tonight, because something bad happened, and he had to work. The Redhead looked at me with these big, wide eyes and asked what happened. I told him bad men flew planes into buildings and killed a whole lot of people. The Redhead didn’t cry or throw a fit. He was understanding and a little scared. We had a nice little birthday together – me, him, and my daughters. Dad joined us later in the week, once things settled down a little.

Today marks 14 years since that fateful day. And The Redhead™ whose identity I protected for so many years because he was a minor, today is officially a man. Daniel is 18 years old, and he’s just as kind, understanding, gentle, and considerate as he was on that fateful day when his fourth birthday was ruined by “bad men” who flew planes into buildings and killed a whole lot of people.

The Daniel of today is generous. He is courageous. He’s stubborn – as redheads are wont to be. He has a huge heart. He’s dedicated and happy in his new college career. He’s rushing a fraternity. He’s running for elected office for the College Republicans. He works to pay for his car and his auto insurance. He’s doing ROTC, and he’s carrying a full course load.

Daniel has surpassed my expectations in every way, and I couldn’t be prouder of him!

On September 11, 2008, I advised him on this blog to live life to its fullest, despite the tragedy that marred his fourth birthday.

But I don’t ever want you to turn away, Redhead.  I never want you to forget.  I never want you to get distracted.  I want you to remember, examine, question and learn.  I want you to gain an understanding of the world around you, so that you can face it fully informed and fully aware.  I want you to live your life to the fullest, knowledgeable, observant and vigilant.  I want you to have no fear, because to know and understand something – even something horrible and evil – is to gain power over it.  And to gain power over it makes it possible to face it and overcome it.

And I think he’s doing it. He’s achieving everything I wanted for him and more, and he’s a happy, well-adjusted, intelligent, respectful young man.

Today, as on all Septembers 11, I honor the fallen of that day and thereafter, and I proudly show my son as proof that the future looks bright despite the horrors of the past.

Happy birthday, Danny.

Love,

Mom

A Friend Needs Just a Little More to Put Him Over the Finish Line

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So, y’all know I like to help worthy causes when I can. Many times, I just contribute money to various causes – animal charities, veterans groups, cancer research, etc. Other times, like these days, I don’t have a penny to spare (child molesting squatters destroying my house, insurance company messing with me, etc., but that’s a different story), so I like to either share worthy causes on social media, or blog about them.

A friend of mine – a vet, a writer, a husband, a dad, and an all-around good guy has decided to open a business. He’s worked five different jobs to support his family, but has been damn miserable. This is his dream. He wants to sell barbeque plate lunches from a food truck and also do catering. From what I gather (never actually had his ribs) from folks who have, his barbecue recipes are like a little bit of pork heaven!

The name? Aloha Snack Bar!

Jon is a good guy. He’s an aspiring author, a passionate friend of the sci-fi community, and an ardent Sad Puppy. He’s bright, talented, and motivated. And really… he only needs like $5,000 more to put him over the top to start his business.

So I figured since I’m broke, I’d help the only other way I know how: by spreading the word.

Please help. Go to Jon’s Kickstarter campaign page, and read about his plans. And if you can pitch in a few sheckels, or encourage others to do so – both in the military community and elsewhere, please do!

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