My older brother died in 2017. He was only 48 and I miss him dreadfully. But he reconnected me with my dad and that whole side of my family after 28 years. And he continues to help me connect with people who were such an important part of my life when I was young.

And these people are the ones I was constantly told were “bad” and I should be thankful she was protecting me from them.

She was not good in her heart. Meanwhile all these wonderful people are right here to help me in ways I could have never imagined.

Thank you, Shaun, for not giving up on me. I love you.

As your sons, in my case, begin to grow up and spread their wings it is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. And people telling you doesn’t prepare you. You have to learn it on you own.

Both of my sons still live at home. But they have their driver’s licenses. And so I no longer have to drive them to karate or baseball or marching band. I don’t have to drop them off at their friends’ homes, or set up play dates. They do all of this themselves now.

They drive themselves to work, to college classes, or to high school. And I am so proud of the young men that they are. And I am so grateful that they are here and no significant harm has ever come to them.

But this is hard. Letting them go and start to really walk on their own. Learning to walk and watching them as they toddled around the living room with baby gates to protect them was the easy part. Watching them use their two feet to take them so far in life even at these young adult ages is the hard part.

Oh how I love my sons.

Way back when in 1987 I first heard The Phantom of the Opera by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. I fell in love with the music, the lyrics, and the characters, the whole story. In 1988 I received the double CD soundtrack as a graduation gift and listened to it constantly. I had watched the Tony’s just to see a bit of it, since this was before the days of YouTube. I couldn’t even imagine being lucky enough to see it on Broadway.

Welp, fast forward to 2000. I finally saw it with my then boyfriend, now husband. Playing Raoul was Hugh Panaro. He portrayed Marius when I saw Les Miserables so it was neat to see him again, and he has such a gorgeous voice.

Fast forward to 2019. I see Phantom again with my younger son on his school band trip.

Then my older son became obsessed with Phantom in 2020. He fell in love with the story just as I did. He felt a connection to Erik. He watched many Phantom videos on YouTube. At one point, I asked if he had a favorite Phantom, and lo and behold his favorite is Hugh Panaro, who had eventually gone on to play Phantom.

So the whole family has a connection to the Phantom, but the one most obsessed was the only one to never have seen it live on Broadway.

Until this week. On September 5, Older Son and I saw The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. We had fabulous seats. Front row, center, second balcony. You can see the whole stage, and when the chandelier goes up at the beginning and falls at the end of act one, you see the whole picture. Plus, Phantom is directly across from you as he lurks above the opera house.

The smiles on my son’s face. The joy emanating from his body. The feeling of fulfillment over seeing something that he feels so passionately about was wonderful to experience. Creating and sharing the experience with him riding the train in, walking briskly on the sidewalks of Manhattan, and escaping into the story of Erik and the Paris Opera House is one of my best days.

He’s here…The Phantom of the Opera…

It is alive

Gentle Reader…hello.

I was at a friend’s house recently for a home demo party. And to my great surprise, someone there was a reader of my little blog. It was lovely to be told that he missed reading new posts. It was lovely to know that this little blog gave someone joy, or something to think about, or whatever the response might have been.

A lot has happened since I last posted, obviously.

It’s funny, isn’t it? A pandemic, ample time to do things since there was no where to go, yet the time was filled quite easily with living in a new normal. I despise that phrase. I don’t even know what my new normal really is. I do know that I have been trying to be less worried (not great at it still), I have been decluttering…not just stuff, but my mind and silliness that I held onto for way too long. I am getting better at that.

We moved…so I’ve been learning a new house and working on setting that up. It’s fun. It’s funny that the first two or three months we lived here, I cried almost everyday. I missed our old house so much. It was the only house my sons had lived in. That hubby and I had lived in as husband and wife. The memories kept calling me back. Even as we approached Halloween, I was still sad. My cousins were up from New Orleans (it was during Ida) and we started decorating for Halloween. But every decoration only had a place at the old house. So I barely decorated, and that is not me.

Then day by day…routines started establishing themselves, I got used to walking down five steps and up three steps to get to the bathroom, I grew to recognize the noises and sounds of the new house, and we settled into a new home.

And here I am in September again…time to decorate for Halloween. Having just finished touching up the downstairs bathroom, I was looking for one more piece of decor for the wall. Knowing there was a space on the bathroom for a Halloween decoration, I picked up a new one today. I suspect it won’t just be for Halloween, but just be the last piece of decor. But most rooms of our home have a touch of Halloween year round anyway.

Ah, it feels good to write again.

And it should never have been allowed to.

I was in a grocery store in 2010. I saw the cover of a magazine and wondered how the hell a picture of my son got on the cover of People. I literally stopped in my tracks. Then I read the headline. I cried right there. And the case of Kyron Horman has haunted me since.

Kyron is just like my sons. And Oldest Son resembles him. I know they aren’t identical, but it’s something about the joy and pure happiness that exudes from both of them that I see.

So it really made me aware of safety, although obviously the situation with Kyron is very complicated. But the quickness of not knowing what happened to one’s son and how quickly it could happen struck a chord. It made me aware of the blessings I have that I have been able to watch my sons grow up, reach and celebrate life milestones. Kyron should have graduated high school last year. Oldest Son will graduate in two weeks. We got to go the senior scholarship night two nights ago. We are getting to celebrate these wonderful life milestones, and Kyron’s parents still don’t know where their son is.

As I follow this case, and read the different theories and possibilities, I feel so sad for Kyron’s parents. No one should have to go through this. And while I obviously don’t know what actually happened, someone does. And that someone should talk now.

I hope and pray Kyron comes home today. And I will continue to do that until Kyron comes home.

Not every woman

celebrates Mother’s Day as you might. Not every woman is a mother. Not every woman has a good relationship with her mother.

Some women have been abandoned by their mothers; yes, even if it happens as a grown up, it stings.

Some women have lost children, and may feel the sting of grief.

Every woman can celebrate the day as they choose. Some just may not be as excited by it as you. And that’s ok. Celebrate. Enjoy. And respect the other woman’s choice not to.

Be well.

I was only six years old when I saw King Kong. Yet I remember it vividly. I suppose it’s because my dad took my brother and I to see it on Christmas Eve. Now that I am older, I understand why my dad was insane enough to take a six and seven year old to the movies on Christmas Eve. I don’t remember what he did during the movie, but I do remember my brother and I were captivated. Our favorite part was when King Kong battled the snake.

When we got home we had to tell all about the snake. I guess we agreed on the car ride home that I would get to tell about the snake, or I declared that I would get to tell it. But my brother had other ideas. He just walked in the door to the house and blurted the whole thing out. I was so upset!

I don’t know why it was so important to tell the story of the snake. The whole movie was fantastic for kids. Big giant ape, gigantic snake, tall buildings, damsel in distress, Jessica Lange, and Jeff Bridges. What else could a kid want? And to see the “new” movie on Christmas Eve? WOW!

Remember this was in the days when the idea of a “blockbuster” was new. Jaws is credited with being the first blockbuster, and set the bar high. For a kid who didn’t get to go to the movies a lot (they were expensive!), to see King Kong a week after it opened was incredibly cool. And to have seen it with my brother, and to have that happy funny memory is a gift. A wonderful Christmas gift that I only came to appreciate fully upon losing him four years ago.

I hadn’t seen him for decades, long tragic story behind that and it doesn’t deserve any attention in this post. But he wouldn’t give up on me. And when we saw each other for the first time in a long time in 2015, he hugged me so tight, I think he just wanted to never let go. I thank God every day that my brother was so determined because he brought me back to my family.

And what an amazing family. I hate that I missed three decades with them. But I work to not focus on that and focus instead on how they welcomed me back with open arms, and unconditional love. No anger, no blame. They had a better understanding of why I didn’t see them for 30 years than I had. And they helped me better understand why I didn’t see them–the whole deep manipulative world I was trapped in. They understood and they forgave before I could even ask them to forgive me for my blindness and ignorance.

You know, my brother blurted out about the snake in 1976. If I had remembered that sooner, and realized he was still blurting out about the snake, I may have returned sooner. I just didn’t put it together.

Me & my brother

I am so thankful I had the time with my brother. I miss him every damn day. But I try to be like him. I try to make him proud. And I’m glad my family got to know him, even if for just a little while.

He brought me to my dad, stepmother, and baby brother. And my cousins, my aunts, my uncles. It’s a blessing. And I thank my brother for that gift.

Let it snow…

And so there is a snow storm around. Supposed to be a good ol’ fashioned nor’easter by tomorrow. I hate driving in snow, but sitting at home and binging tv or playing games or reading a book are great. I’ll be making potato soup tomorrow, and that will be yummy on a snowy day. The boys are virtual tomorrow anyway, as is my work, so no snow day. But still a quiet day in a sense. The world is quieter with snow falling.

I’ll read “One for the Road” by Uncle Stevie tonight. It’s tradition during a snow storm. Get myself all creeped out and then fall asleep. The sound of the plows may interrupt my slumber at some point, but I’ll drift back easily enough. I drove in the snow earlier, of which I am dreadfully fearful. So adrenaline went up and I am exhausted.

But the outside looks pretty, the cats have a fun “movie” to watch through the windows, and maybe the dog will let me take him out. He’s scared of walking in the snow. Only while it’s falling (and “attacking” him). When it’s done falling, he loves romping through it.

Enjoy the quiet this evening.

Hello dear friends

So as I am 95% misanthrope, I have been mostly ok with the current situation. But at times I do miss the company of humans. Obviously, my three stooges are here keeping me entertained, and I see my folks, my bro, some close friends every once and a while. But just general people? Been a long time and I hope I remember my manners when we finally see each other again face to face.

I have had to own the fact that even now that I have the “time” I have not improved my diet or exercise habits. I am pleased that I have not gained weight, but there is no excuse for not having lost weight and creating an exercise routine. I need to create new habits and I am always solid about my plans in the middle of the night, as I drift off to sleep. But in the day, with the light of the sun streaming in the window, I eat the M&Ms and I sit on my ass. So I need to substitute that with a walk, or a stretch, or anything. I am sure I would see results quickly just by cutting out the sugary snacks.

I have fun things to challenge myself with when I prioritize those things over playing yet another game on my phone. I have been taking classes in a master’s program, and I start teaching my class again next week. The brain work is good, as I fear my memory has taken a toll during this “timeless” year. I struggle to know what day of the week it is and have become overly reliant on my phone to know the actual date. There is a certain type of freedom in this though. I feel less first-world stress. I don’t mean to start a conversation about that, but that is the world I live in and those are the stresses I have. I am thankful for my education, but not the debt that hangs around my neck. Suffice it to say the return on investment they claim is not accurate. At least not with the choices and path I have walked. The first master’s I got was a step in the right direction, so I thought, but still twenty years later, it is only now beginning to show some benefit. I hope the next master’s helps more quickly. {giggle} I am also just investing in myself to avoid a narrow focus and becoming boring. I have been learning more about topics I have always wondered about, and I am crocheting.

Spending time with my sons is both wonderful and frustrating. They are at an age where spending umpteen months in lockdown with your parents is the last place they want to be. They should be forging their independence and learning how to make decisions, without me literally always in the next room. They will be fine, but this whole generation of teens is being shaped by this. The younger children are going to have different hurdles to deal with, and my heart weeps for how it will have shaped them when we start to really see it in ten years or so.

My dog has heightened anxiety because I rarely leave and now he cries when I do. I know the cats are tired of us. One constant is the beardies. They still just sit on their trees, eat their food, drink their water, and poop. Bearded dragons are most decidedly not impacted by a pandemic.

Those are my rambling thoughts for the evening. I miss writing. And I needed to let it get to a point where I missed it. I hope to write again much sooner that the last time. Be well.

Oh dear gentle reader(s), if there are any of you left. 2020 has been quite a year. And for me it marks my half-century. I look at my sons regularly wondering how they can be 15 and 17 years old, how does one of them have a driver’s license? And where did my little babies go? It’s natural as a parent to reflect on the passage of time for their children. And as I spoke with my dad today I realized as he said, jokingly, “50? One of my kids is 50?” that I am feeling what he has been feeling for years.

And as I am the type to reflect, I thought about hitting the mid-century mark.

First, I’m quite thrilled to be on top of the ground and not under it. Second, I am so glad to be with Hubby and sons to celebrate it.

I had planned to do a girls’ getaway to New Orleans to mark the occasion. Total Hallmark movie plans, rent a little house, be tourists, long talks till the wee morning hours about life and all the things that girls like to talk about when they gather in their little covens.

That clearly didn’t happen.

Tonight I suspect we will eat homemade Hershey’s chocolate cake made by Hubby. Then I think we will watch a Halloween movie because I have been derelict in that this season, much to Younger Son’s disappointment. The house is decorated, inside and out, costumes are almost done being sewn, but we haven’t read a word of Poe nor watched any scary movies. But it’s 2020.

And that is the fatigue I am feeling. I have gotten quite comfy with blaming the year. I haven’t accomplished some great project, written the great American novel, or even written regularly for this. What have I been doing this year? What have I been doing my whole life? And I realized, I’ve been living it. I’ve been enjoying it, the little things, the big things. I’ve walked through sadness and grief. I’ve laughed my ass off. I’ve watched in awe as my sons have grown up. I’ve loved and laughed for twenty years with Hubby.

I’ve lived with schizophrenia and not let it control what I do. I am fighting my fears about dementia and its history in my family. I’ve walked a path of advocacy that my sons can follow no matter what the reason they need to advocate for themselves. I’ve been scared, I’ve been relieved, I’ve been probably every emotion we humans have ever named.

I try to make sense of everything that is going on in the world. It overwhelms one. But I do try. I reflect inward to try to examine myself as that is where I can start change. I look at how I can shape my sons, I look at how life passes from one generation to the next.

And the soundtrack to all of this is from that last place I would have guessed if you had asked me back in 1987. But he wrote a whole album to help one reflect on 50, so I couldn’t ignore it. He would never, so I certainly couldn’t let him down either. Then he made another album to make sure I remember it’s a Beautiful Life.

And the album is amazing. The voice is even better than it was in 1987. My sons were introduced to Rick Astley because of the pinata in a Psych episode. Then Older Son grew into his voice and is a baritone so he does a pretty mean impression of Rick Astley. And then we discovered the 50 album. And then Beautiful Life. And then he treated us to “Titanium” during this world lockdown, which I sing almost every day.

But the song that helps me each day, ok, there are several, but if I had to pick, ok, I couldn’t. Here’s the bare minimum line-up: “Try”, “Keep Singing”, “Pray with Me”, “Beautiful Life”, and then “Dance”. In general, these two albums, along with any and all Queen, have been this year’s soundtrack for me. And Older Son and I sing Phantom while Younger Son plays on his euphonium. But I digress.

“Try”. As I have been reflective during 2020 and approaching 50 like a bat out of hell, I keep coming back to this song. I’m half tempted to find a decent karaoke track and pop it up on Youtube, but I don’t know that the world needs me singing it. “Even if I’m broken on the inside…” And there have been times in my life when I felt that was so true. And there are times when nothing makes sense. And there are times I miss my brother so much and wish he had heard this song.

So as I turn 50, I know I need to try. Try something new each day, or do squats, or laugh, or do something to show myself that I have a beautiful life. Then try to share that with the world to add to the beauty rather than add anything else negative. I will try to lift myself out of the funk that started five years ago and has been haunting my dreams with sadness, death, rejection, loss. I will instead focus on my family, my blessings.

“All I know is nothing’s certain
So I’m gonna try, I’m gonna try
It’s only myself that I’m hurting
If I don’t try, if I don’t try

When it feels like all my hopes and dreams are shattered into dust
I remember that the only thing I have to do is trust…” ~Rick Astley

So I try.