Category Archives: family

This time I really mean it!

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You know – every time I post a new entry, I think to myself, “See – that was easy! I am going to blog every single day from now on!” And I totally mean it at that moment. And that night, something will happen that makes me think, :I should blog about that! Or that! Or that! (or any of the million things that go on in my life every day). But then the next day rolls around and I am tired, or cranky, or crazy-busy and I think, “OK – I couldn’t do it today, but I will blog tomorrow for sure. And the tomorrow rolls around and either a) I am as tired/cranky/busy as I was the day before, b) I can’t remember the million things I wanted to talk about, or c) I remember them, but suddenly they seem uninteresting and stupid.

So anyway…Hi! Here’s what’s been going on lately:

1. We brought the puppy home! Yay! We went through several (hundred) names before we finally settled on Charley. It suits him. He’s really cute and sweet and lovable and a big pain in the ass. I totally forgot about the getting up at all hours to take them out and the incessant whining. The whining/crying/screaming as if being murdered was the worst part, but luckily, he has grown out of that (thanks to my twitter friends for reassuring me on that). He still gets up to pee in the night, but it’s down to once. Still – interrupted sleep = me being even more forgetful and spacey than normal. Good times. Behold the cuteness:

2. Halloween! We went to the annual party that my niece Scabs throws. It’s my favorite party of the year. Mainly because we are an evil bunch who use Halloween as an opportunity to torment and ridicule each other. If you have ever done something embarrassing – it will be used against you on Halloween. One year, we all dressed as Scabs. One year (the year of the punching the crackwhore story), someone came as Drunken Poolrat Gina and someone else came as Beaten Down Crackwhore. This year, I went as Scabs. Now, it may seem repetitive, since we went as Scabs before, but this time around, I went as Scabs looking how she did when she earned her nickname. See – many moons ago, Scabs worked at a bar and she invited mr b and I to the bar’s Halloween party. Well, she had been drinking all day and by the time we got there, she was sitting at the bar, dressed as a clown, makeup smeared, cigarette dangling from her mouth and she croaked at us, “Where in the HELL have you been?” So from then on, She became Scabs, the Chain-Smoking, Hard-Drinking, Pissed-Off Clown. Thus:

Scabs (with a scary Nanny McPhee in the background):

Blind Ref:

Flapper (when she told her firends she was going to be a flapper, they all asked, “Who’s Flapper?”)

You’re fired!

Snooki was there, too:

3. Football season is over! I repeat – football season is over! Finally a break from the constant cheer and band practices, games on both Friday and Saturday/Sunday, and driving all over creation to get to them! All season, I couldn’t wait for this moment. And yet – don’t tell anyone I said this, but I think I’m a little sad about it.

4. And speaking of football, our high school is getting a new stadium, and the last game in the current (70+ year old) one was a big event, with players from the very first game, alumni parties and former cheerleaders and band members on the field to participate. I joined up with the alumni majorettes and expected that we would be doing a simple salute to SSB & alma mater. Imagine my surprise when I got to practice before the game to discover we had an entire routine to learn. It was insane, but fun. And the boys won, meaning we won the very first and very last games in the stadium. Unfortunately, I put mr b in charge of taking photos, so I ended up with 65 shots of the fireworks and the backs of the heads of the people in front of him, but no really good shots of my super twirling skills. Sigh.

The closest thing to an action shot that mr b got – note the lack of zooming and the partial head in the foreground:

The boy and me on the field together. I love that he wasn’t embarrassed that his mom was twirling.

5. Unrelated to anything else I have been talking about, I left my checkbook on the table yesterday morning, after writing one for the kids’ school photos, only to come home last night to discover that the girl had written herself a check for $1000.

6. Finally – go here and help the kids.

The Good Uncle – Reprise

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I wrote this entry back in November, and have thought about Uncle Paul almost every day since. I got the call last night – the one I knew was coming – the one I was dreading. Apparently in his last days, he mended some fences with estranged family, had a reunion, and got ready for his next journey. I’m glad to hear this. I was sad, though, to find out that it happened several months ago. Apparently, he didn’t want fanfare – just his wife and kids and a quick cremation. I understand and respect his wishes, but it still hurts. It’s not like I had seen him in ages, or even would have the chance to see him again. But I hate that it happened and I didn’t know. And now that I DO know, I find myself in the weird position of grieving for someone who wasn’t even in my life anymore. But in the time we spent together, he forever imprinted himself on my heart, because he was, indeed, a Good Uncle.

The Good Uncle

My mom called me a little while ago to tell me that my uncle is dying. He’s not really my uncle – not anymore. He married my Aunt Twin when I was just a baby, but they haven’t been married for many, many years. But he was there throughout my childhood, so regardless of blood relations and divorces, he has always been Uncle Paul, and I have always loved him.

He was an awesome uncle. The kind that is silly and fun. Always joking, rarely serious. Quick to stick up for you when you’re fighting mom for a later bedtime, or one more cookie. Generous with his money and his love. And he had lots of famous friends, which was pretty cool. Although, looking back, some of the closest of these friends – in retrospect – said something about him, I guess. I won’t mention their names, but I can say that they might possibly rhyme with Feet Blows and Weevil Believel. Back then, though, this stuff was all the makings of a Good Uncle. Good Uncles don’t always make good husbands, though. Mr. Good Time isn’t generally Mr. Responsible.

But Mr. Good Time he was. They had a beautiful house in Florida – it was big and exquisitely decorated – for the 70’s that is. I was in love with that house. Every room had a different color scheme or theme. Each had its own bathroom, which was unheard of (to me at least) in those days. The bathrooms were two rooms and Aunt Twin always had these soap sculptures on display in the outer room. I adored those things – they were beautiful and they smelled so good. We spent much of the summer there every year and I probably spent 10% of that time just taking in all the beautiful things she had there. The formal living room with the fur couch. The Florida room with the black patent leather couches and red hanging lamps. The bullfight statue that I used to imitate with my best friend Tracy and almost broke my nose. I still have the scar and the chipped bone.

I remember the kitchen with its mushroom theme and the state of the art appliances. My room was my favorite, because it was mine of course. It was crazy psychedelic blue and green, with twin beds (a novelty to me, since I had a big bed at home). There was white modern furniture including corner table that one bed slid halfway under when not in use. And there was a stereo built into it. God, I loved that room. My second favorite room was my Aunt Cee’s. She was a teen during those times and she got the super psychedelic room, with the black and silver wallpaper and the black furry bedspread and the groovy wire-sculpture hanging lamp and the white tree with hidden colored lights. I know it all sounds crazy and tacky now, but this was the 70’s – trust me – it was AWESOME.

He had a great mind – he was a businessman. He invented and marketed an exercise device that was very successful. His brother was a very famous NFL player and he himself was in the NFL for a while, so he had lots of connections to athletes that he used in his ads. He was clever, too, and had some funny, smart, and sometimes risqué advertising campaigns, which contributed to his success. But he liked to spend and party and gamble and live the high life. He made tons, but spent more. He had a wandering eye,. Hard for a wife to take when she is already 15 years his junior, I imagine. When I was about 11 or 12, Aunt Twin and Uncle Paul moved back to PA. I didn’t know why at the time, but I guess they were struggling both financially and emotionally. I didn’t know any of this until years later, so when they split up, I was devastated.

I cried and cried at the thought of losing my favorite uncle. The one that took me to get ice cream even though I didn’t finish my dinner. The one who would pose for photos wearing big, silly hats and glasses. The one that bought me presents just from him. the one that could always make me laugh, no matter what. I knew that no matter what happened between them, he would always be my uncle.

I was wrong.

I didn’t see him for years after they split. By the time I was an older teen, there were a few brief sightings and (I think) a graduation card. I sent him Christmas cards over the years, but never heard anything in return. I invited him to my wedding and never even got a response. If it were anyone else, I would have said, fuck him; he’s an asshole. But not with Uncle Paul. Even after years of no contact and rejection, I still loved him and missed him. After the boy was born, I sent him a card and letter, telling him about his new “great-nephew” and telling him how I felt – that I still loved him, that he was still my favorite uncle. He didn’t respond.

I never tried again, but I caught news of him occasionally through Aunt Twin, who got her news through the grapevine. Occasionally – as and recently as this summer – I would google him to see if there was something – anything – out there. Sometimes there was, and recently I even saw a photo. I was struck by how old he looked, since in my mind he is still big strong Uncle Paul.

Apparently, Aunt Twin talked to his brother recently – what prompted it, I don’t know – and found out that he is dying of cancer. I guess the brother passed on her love and this morning he called her. He was very kind, telling her how sorry he was. He said that his good time friends always told him what a mistake he made with her, and that he knows it. Even though he’s happy now, he still has regrets.

And then he asked how his favorite niece was.

He said how he missed me and how he wished he had stayed in touch. He said he was so moved when he got my letter, and that he regrets never replying. That he loves me. I shouldn’t care, but I do. I shouldn’t grieve him, but I will. I shouldn’t be crying, but I am. I’ve missed him for years, and now I am going to miss him more.

I love you, Uncle Paul.

I will get back to actual blogging right after I bore you with photos

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We crammed a lot into an 8-day stretch.

We had the 4th of July celebration:

The girl in the July 4th (OK, 3rd) bike parade and contest. She took 3rd:

The boy in his first parade:

There was a baptism:

And a birthday party:

And we got a family photo taken for my Grandma’s 90th birthday (and then went to lunch dressed like the idiot family. Burgh Baby was “lucky” enough to witness us in our full dorky glory).

The whole gang:

Generations:

Gram and her great-grandkids:

My kids are getting so big!

And then there was grandma’s party (I can’t believe she’s 90):

The grandkids pitched in on 90 yellow roses (her favorite) and a bunch of scratch offs (which she loves):

The kids had fun dancing and playing games:

The girl serenaded us with a couple songs (Taylor Swift, of course). She’s a born performer.

Walmart is a Dick

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We are having a big party this weekend for my grandma’s 90th birthday. It’s going to be huge, since we have a large family and she has lots of friends, plus we have invited lots of people from “the old days.” She used to own a bar, and people came from all over to hang out and have a good time. Her customers ranged from just local folks, to politicians, to professional athletes. Not many of them are around any more, but those who are, are coming and bringing their families. Even after she no longer had the bar, she tended bar elsewhere for year, so she’s got a large social circle.

Anyway, in addition to food and alcohol and bingo and cards and fun games and prizes for the kids, one of the things we wanted to have was a slide show of photos through the years. We changed our minds, though since it will be sunny (the party is at a local park) and we won’t be able to see it so I decided I would do a photo board and an album. I gathered up old photos from everyone in the family and intended to scan them and make multiple prints, so anyone who wanted a copy could have one.

My scanner at home was broken (I used the wrong power cord and it smoked and popped), so I figured it would be faster t take them to #Wal-Mart anyway and do them on the machine there. Oh how wrong I was. First off, it was actually slower than using a home scanner. Each photo took about 2 minutes to scan. And I had a ton of photos. I sat there for 2 ½ hours scanning. Two and a half hours! All the while silently cursing Wal-Mart, Kodak, Wal-Mart employees, other customers, the PA system, the PA system announcer, stupid cell phone ringtones, Phil Collins, and myself (for being so stupid as to think that Wal-Mart would be anything but hell on earth).

But finally, I was done scanning. Then, of course I had to go through each photo and select my number of prints, plus do any editing, cropping, etc. Which was another million hours. But I got that done and was ready to print. When I started, I saw the sign on the machine that said, “After you print your photos, get them on a disk.” I figured I would do just that, since there were some I wanted to restore, plus I’d have them for future prints if anyone wanted them. But when I tried to order a dick, it wouldn’t let me. I asked the woman working there about it and she snottily told me that I had to do the disk first and that I would have to scan them again is I wanted one. I pointed out the sign that said “After you print your photos, get them on a disk,” and she sighed like I was such a terrible inconvenience to her and said (even more snottily), “You should, have asked me before you started. You’ll have to scan them again!” Ummm…No thanks.

I figured I’d just print them and worry about scanning them again later, once I had a scanner that doesn’t smell like electrical fire. So after another 17 hours of waiting for my prints, I was finally done. I took the photos up to the counter with my charge slip (the machine prints one telling the number of prints), and the woman working there (the first bitch was on her break by this time), takes my photos and proceeds to go through all 110 prints, one by one. I was wondering what she was doing, since normally, they throw them in an envelope and ring you up. Turns out, she was pulling out all the “illegal” photos.

You are probably already aware that you can’t take your photos from a studio and reproduce them on a machine. I knew that too. I wouldn’t dream of taking my kids’ photos from Picture People and getting cheap copies made (well, I’d dream of it, since they are so freaking expensive, but I wouldn’t do it because I know I am not allowed). The one time I had a photo I needed a copy of, it was one that was actually taken at Wal-Mart. It was my favorite photo of my son and mine had gotten damaged. Since it was 9 years old, the studio didn’t have it any longer, so they gave me a release form and I was able to copy my mother’s. No problem.

But these photos? These illegal, professional, studio photos that she refused to let me print without a release form signed by the photographer? Were from 1935 to 1945. Nineteen motherfucking thirty-five!!! How in God’s name do they suppose I am going to get a release form? I mean, if my 90 year old grandmother was a teen in these photos, I think it’s a pretty good bet that the photographer is dead by now (not that I would have any idea who he was anyway). I should go back with a fucking Ouija board.

Of course she gave me the spiel about how it’s not her rule, but Wal-Mart’s rule, blahblahblah, but give me a break. Also? Wal-Mart is a dick.

Anyway, I got a couple of the professional ones scanned on my cousin’s scanner and have started working on restoring them (which OMG takes forever).

This is the one going on the cake (I didn’t get it restored yet):

Here is gram with my mom and Aunt Twin:

And here it is before I started restoring it:

Dirty Who? I Have No Idea What You’re Talking About.

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OK, I really have nothing to say, but I have to get that last post off the front page. Because if it weren’t enough itself, my aunt emailed me for an explanation of what Dirty Sanchez means. Awesome. She’s lucky her cell mailbox is full because I almost called and left a message saying I was Sanchez (I wouldn’t leave it on her home phone because she has a husband and children and I do have some limits).

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I hooked up with two of my cousins on Twitter, forgetting that I have this blog on my profile and sometimes link to posts. I don’t know if they noticed or not, in case they are, I need to say:

1. If you (and you know who you are), please let me know.
2. This is a big old secret blog (as secret as anything on the internet can be), so please don’t share it with anyone.
3. If I ever say anything about how completely batshit insane my family is, I am totally not talking about you guys. No, really. Much.

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My baby girl is growing up. First, she got her ears pierced. Next, she learned to ride her bike without training wheels. And next week, she “graduates” from pre-school. Sigh.

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Anyway, this was a whole lot of nothing, but at least we can move on and pretend I never said anything about Dirty You Know Who.

Happy/Unhappy

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Things that make me happy:


It’s Friday!


Going to the bookstore to pick up Inkheart (recall I’m a big geek-reader and generally, when a new movie comes out that was based on a book, I ignore the movie and read the book instead – it’s always better), and walking out with Searching for the Sound for $1.89. Score!

My new Ipod Touch. This was the best kind of Christmas gift. The kind that I had no idea that I even wanted, but as it turns out – I really, really did. It’s awesome having the music I love – the music you never, ever hear on the radio – at my fingertips:

My job. I know I’m a bit of a Pollyanna about Awesome Company, but I swear – they really are awesome. I love what I do, I love what our company does, I love my bosses. I work with a group of really smart, fun, kind, funny, wonderful people and I am well aware of how lucky I am. If I ever feel even slightly jaded about things here, all I have to do is remind myself of my last job and I snap out of it. While I had a few coworkers who were really great, I also worked amid some of the fucked up weirdoes I have ever met (and not the good kind of weird fucked-up-ed-ness, either). There was cattiness, overly competitive bullshit, way too much gossip, way too little money, and the worst boss, ever. He was snobby, cheap, and an asshole. At a Christmas party at his house (which he spent the previous year telling us all what he paid for it “in cash”), he had two different “levels” of liquor. One for him, his wife, and a couple other bigwigs (which included a couple selections of red and white wine and some decent liquor, served in nice glasses), and another for the rest of us (big jugs of low end screw-top wine, and such liquor selections as Popov vodka, served in plastic) Also – don’t get me wrong – if I come to your house and you serve me any of those selections, I will happily and graciously drink them. But if you have better stuff and don’t think I am good enough for it, you’re an asshole. And really, I can sum up the kind of guy he is in one sentence: he has been heard introducing his children as “My biological son and my adopted daughter”.

Snow! I want more!

Having a viola player entertain us on Christmas Eve. So cool.

Family:

Weird family:

The fact that this didn’t happen at my house:

Cousins:

Girls with guitars:

New Year’s Eve:

Shortly after this, we serenaded the entire neighborhood with “The Greatest Love of All”, and announced that George Benson is the best and Whitney is a crack whore. So to those residents of South Fayette who got to enjoy our performance: You’re welcome.

Things that make me unhappy:

Traffic during snow season. The normal Pittsburgh nightmare of driving with the Asshole Traffic Brigade reaches new lows of ballsuckery during snow season.


Having one’s “class clown” reputation overshadow ones intelligence or compassion or authority. It sucks. I can be silly and goofy and a little bit of a hothead, and still be smart and kind and in control. And just because I joke around a lot doesn’t mean that I don’t have feelings that can be hurt.

The fact that the fuckbucket dog knocked maple syrup onto my carpet and his brother, the fucknugget cat tracked it all around.

Ending on an unhappy note, so I will go back to things that make me happy:

The fact that my SILs are coming down on Saturday for our monthly drunkover. Yay! I’m so blessed to have these wonderful women in my life. Being an only child, suddenly having sisters means the world to me. I know so many people who dread in-law time and I know how lucky I am. I now have six sisters-on-law, and a whole slew of nieces and nephews who get a huge kick out of being my age or older and calling me Aunt Gina ( I have to keep reminding them that their uncle robbed the cradle). There are even great and great-great nieces and nephews. It’s awesome. Also awesome? My SIL Weenie and niece Scabs, who indulge my nonsense:

I gave them these for Christmas and told them they were appropriate whether we were together or apart.

I See Dead People

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I see dead people.

Ok no I don’t but sometimes I think I do. Or wish I could.

I haven’t seen much of Grey’s Anatomy this season but I’ve seen enough to know that there is a story arc about Izzy seeing, and talking to (and ick – having sex with) her dead fiancé, Denny. My first though is that this is a stupid storyline. Stoo-Pid. And yet, my second though finds me thinking “if only…”

As far as grandparents were concerned, I was a lucky kid. When I was born, I had 2 grandmothers, a grandfather, a step-grandfather, a great-grandfather, and two great-grandmothers. I lost two of the “greats” when I was really little, so while I remember them a little bit, I don’t remember their passing. So my first real loss was when my great grandma (Nana) died when I was a teenager. I took her death really hard. At the time, I remember feeling like the pain would never go away, that I would never stop crying myself to sleep at night. And it took a long time, but eventually I did. Even after that, it was years before I stopped crying almost every time I thought of her. I still miss her today, but it’s less a sharp stick in the heart and more of a good memory kind of thing.

In my early twenties, my step-grandfather died, and I was sad, but it wasn’t as devastating as losing Nana.

When I got married, I had three grandparents dancing at my wedding. And when the boy was born, I had three grandparents taking care of him for me. He spent three days a week with Grammy and Pap (my paternal grandparents) and two days a week with Baba (my maternal grandmother). When he was about two or so, Baba had a stroke that left her still pretty healthy, and able to live on her own, but unable to care for the boy. But it was OK – she was fine, and he still had her in his life.

Around that same time, Pap died. It was kind of sudden, though not entirely unexpected, as he was in his 90’s. It happened quickly, which was good, because I couldn’t have stood to see him suffer and linger. He died the strong, vital man that he was all his life. He went to the hospital and we arranged to bring the boy in to see him (they adored each other. It took a couple of days and Pap was over the moon when we showed up with him. And then, as if he were waiting for that last chance to see his favorite person in the whole worked, Pap was gone.

I worried about Grammy, but having the boy with her all the time helped her. She was still strong and vital and extremely healthy and happy (if a little clumsy – I come by it naturally). She still watched him for me most days. He started pre-school, so on those days, I would drop him of at my parents’ house and on the others, I would drop him at Grammy’s. One day, I got to my parents house at around 7:00am and my dad’s truck wasn’t there. He could have gone to the store, or to get gas, or to and early appointment, or breakfast with a friend, or to get coffee. But somehow, I knew that he wasn’t doing any of those things. I knew right away that something was wrong. I sat in the car for a few minutes, dreading what I was about to hear. When I walked in the house, my mom pulled me aside and told me that my dad went to Grammy’s and that they were heading to the hospital.

I got to the hospital and found them in the ER. It turned out that my beautiful, vital. Healthy grandma had a stroke. She was feeling terrible, but she was lucid and was glad to see me. Being Grammy, she apologized for not being able to take care of the boy that afternoon. I told her don’t be silly. I hugged her and kissed her and told her she was going to be fine. I held her hand and held the basin while she threw up. And all the while, I knew she would be fine. After a while, I left to go grab a drink and while I was in the snack bar, she had another stroke. When I came back she was gone. She was still alive – her body was alive. But she was gone. She lingered for about a week and a half while we grieved and cried and made terrible, agonizing decisions. It was the worst time of my life. When she died, I was terribly sad, but I was ready. We all were, because we lost our sweet Grammy about 10 days before.

Years have passed since I have lost these two wonderful people, but they are always with me. In my thoughts, my memories. Sometimes I feel like they are just at the edge of my vision. I don’t dream about them though. I wish I could, because it would be like having them back again, if only for a few moments as I sleep. I dreamed about Pap once. He was standing right over my shoulder and he told me he was right here, that he always had been. And he told me in his own voice, and not in the electronic voice that he had used for years due to a laryngectomy.

Sometimes, when I am out, I will hear someone speaking with the electric voice and it takes my breath away. Because even thought they mainly all sound alike, to me, that was his voice and I swear I am hearing him, in the post office, or just one aisle over in wal-mart.

And sometimes I see Grammy, or I think I do. She had beautiful white hair, and sometimes, as I am walking down the street, or in the grocery store, or in the airport, I catch a glimpse of snow white hair and it stops me in my tracks. I’ll find myself thinking “Turn around”, because for a second it’s her and I want to see her face. And then I find myself thinking “Don’t turn around” because I know it’s not and I can’t bear losing her again.

Sometimes, I will follow behind, allowing myself to pretend that it is her and that I’m just walking a bit behind her, perhaps having stopped to wait for one of the kids, or tie someone’s shoe, but with confidence that I will catch up and it will be her. That she’ll smile at me and call me a slowpoke for getting behind, and we’ll laugh. And she’ll take each child by the hand and we’ll walk off together. Two women and two children, and not simply one woman with a little piece of her heart missing, a memory of white hair, and a bittersweet wish she knows can’t come true.

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I’ll resume my Christmas: Fail giveaways next post. This didn’t really feel like a giveaway type story.