Reality hits

92
Everett

 

Position
Linebacker
Height
5-11
Weight
195
Class
Fr.
Hometown
Mancos, Colo.
Highschool
Mancos

HIGH SCHOOL: 2016 graduate of Mancos High School … Competed in football, track, wrestling and basketball … Four-year starter … Played linebacker and full back for the Bluejays.

PARENTS: TW and Suzanne Strazza

Fort Lewis College

© 2016 FORT LEWIS COLLEGE ATHLETICS | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Interesting Emotions

Interesting in a way that, as an observer, I would say, “Huh, I didn’t see that coming,” but I wasn’t an observer, I was the one having the emotions, so instead of being intrigued, I was momentarily overwhelmed.

Here’s the situation…

My ex-in-laws showed up at graduation yesterday. They traveled here together, even though they have been divorced since the year that I married their son.

She and I had been close in some ways, not so much in others. She’s a little batshit crazy. I haven’t thought much about missing her or her presence in my life. It’s been easier to write her off as a loon and forget that there was ever any connection between us.

He and I were very close, even in the early years after the divorce.  Then, once, he mentioned my (other) blog and inquired if I thought it might be hurtful to the boys. Since shutting down that blog was my ex’s raison d’etre, I figured dad took his side and considered me to be the horrible, emotionally abusive, bad guy, that his son portrayed me as.

Then, last year, in a desperate attempt to get my ex to do right by his children and help with their medical bills (which are astronomical) I wrote dad and begged for his assistance – in any way, shape, or form. His response…

Radio Silence.

Absolutely nothing.

It hurt, it was rude, it felt just like the Silent Treatment that my ex has given me for the last year and a half. I felt, that as the mother of his grandchildren, I at least deserved a “Thanks but no thanks because you, HDD, are a monster.”

But, it gave me another place to lay my indignation, frustration, and sadness for my boys.

As you can imagine, the prospect of seeing them yesterday at my son’s Big Day, was a bit nerve-wracking. I already had all of these emotions going about my baby graduating from High School, the end of an era, seeing my ex and his new family and wishing that somehow we could all get along for the boys’ sake and then there was the question of “How will his parents treat me?”

There was also the question of “How will I treat them?”

I walked into the auditorium determined to maintain my composure and be gracious, if given the opportunity, for the sake of the children. I was striving to be the bigger person and not ignore them as they had ignored me. And I was also prepared to be persona non grata yet maintain my joy for Greg.

After the ceremony, we all stood outside socializing (separately, of course) and just as things were starting to wind down and I had fallen into a conversation with friends who unknowingly were helping me keep my feet on the ground (thank you T and D), the ex-in-laws approached.

Oh. Holy. Fuck.

And suddenly, I was wrapped in a huge bear hug with dad and as self-righteously angry as I wanted to be, I felt myself hugging him back so very tightly. I could actually feel my guard letting down, could feel the physical and mental shedding of the armor.

And it felt really good.

When mom finally got there, I was able to turn and sincerely tell her how happy I was to see her.

I wasn’t the bad guy.  I wasn’t going to be ostracized. I didn’t have to hang onto my anger and hurt.

What I felt was relief. And love. And compassion for these two kind human beings who are struggling to move through the world just as the rest of us are.

They are doing the very best that they can and I can’t imagine that their position is a comfortable one. Talk about being in the middle.

Their son, to whom their loyalties must lie. Their new daughter-in-law (the third they’ve had to adjust to) who is really, from their perspective, not part of the problem and is just this young girl who walked into a hornet’s nest and started having children so then she is also the mother of their grandchildren.

There are the two children (theirs) who are adorable and innocent and ignorant of the shit show. Then, there are my two children, who have been emotionally beaten to a pulp throughout the disintegration of their parents’ relationship. And, Bobby, my child who they tried to make their child, who honestly just wants a place to call home.

And the last person caught in the awkwardness of the moment was MCB, who, as always, handled the entire thing with grace. His well-mannered upbringing showed in everything from his firm handshake with dad to his bow tie (which, yes, he tied himself.)

So these lovely people, older people, people who deserve a little peace in the twilight of their lives, are having to navigate waters that none of us more directly involved have been able to do successfully.

And they handled it like champs. Which gave me pause, then the presence of mind to put on my big girl panties, take the high road, and just show a little love and a lot of appreciation.

It was a big lesson and an emotional upheaval and a gift.

Vacation

I’m in Florida – we’re in Florida – Greg and Peter are with me.

My Mom is from here. She moved to this town when she was in high school. She graduated from Vero Beach High.

She went to Florida State. She didn’t graduate. Impatient, she moved on to the next adventure instead.

So my grandparents lived here and vacations were spent here while I was growing up -at least two trips a year to see them.

My parents moved here a couple of years ago after thirty long, cold, dark, winters in Idaho.

They live just a few blocks from the house where my mother grew up.

There is an element of “home” here for me.

I know where to get ice cream. I know where to go to the grocery store and where to get the best grapefruit juice. The drugstore that my grandfather owned is still here and they know me as David’s granddaughter.

But I’ll be damned if I can find an ATM in this town.

Turns out they’re everywhere, but discreetly placed inside of elegant buildings with fountains and palm trees. You’d think that with all of the old, hobbling people around here they’d have drive-throughs.

There’s this place on the beach, The Sea Burger. I actually think the name has changed but it will always be The Sea Burger. The Sea Burger has been in the same place at Jaycee Park on the Beach since my mom spent her weekends drinking beer on that beach.

The smell of the ocean mingled with grilling burgers is the best smell in the world.

When I was young and frolicking on the beach with my family, I loved going up to The Sea Burger all crusty and sandy and barefoot to get a milkshake. Their milkshakes are the very best, ever.

My mother, unwilling to move from her beach chair where she was finally relaxing after traveling and dealing with family, would hand me her wallet and say, “Go get yourself something.”

I felt so big, so independent. I hoped that the lifeguard would think I was cute as I strutted by his stand.

He never did.

I was 12.

So yesterday I was sound asleep on my towel, which was actually under my towel because it was totally freezing yet we were determined to be on the beach, and Peter said, “I’m thirsty.” So I gave him my wallet and sent him up to get himself a treat.

And there it was. In my mother’s town, on my mother’s beach, I had turned into her.

 

Look at what happens when you try to do something nice for your kids.

He needs gas money. He hasn’t been able to work.

So at lunch, I figure I’ll just run by his car and put some money in there.

And lo and behold…The Crown Royal bag lands on the floor when I open the glove box.

Ef. You. See. Kay.

(translation: FUCKFUCKFUCKITYFUCKFUCK)

Text: “I put gas money in your glove compartment next to the Crown Royal bag. Apparently we need to talk.”

No response.

“Are you saying fuck right now?”

Then I get a call at work, “It’s not mine. It’s X’s – I told him he could put it in my car so he didn’t get in trouble taking weed into the school.”

“Oh, okay. I feel much better now.”

Yeah, seriously.

“But honey, please tell X TO FIND ANOTHER CAR!!!!!!”

Jesusmaryandjoseph.

A better thing to do with the CR Bag

A better thing to do with the CR Bag

My poor (almost adult) baby

He has to have major surgery day after tomorrow: hamstring repair.

He tore it off his pelvic bone.

Crutches, brace, PT, no driving for 2-3 months, 1 year rehab before he can do any type of athletic activity.

Pain.

They told me yesterday that Lortab isn’t going to cut it.

Blood thinners, pain meds, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories.

They also said, “Plan on being in the hospital ALL day.”

That’s when I got off the phone and cried.

Watching the physical pain is bad.

Watching the emotional pain: unbearable.

Everything he has dreamed of for his future in on the line right now – and honestly, one foot over the line. He may never play football or wrestle again.

So much for D-1.

He was contacted by a college football recruiter the other day. First question after name and position: “Any athletic injuries?”

He is trying to hard to remain hopeful and undefeated. He is determined that this will not stop him from fulfilling his ambitions and dreams.

He is also very aware that no matter how determined he is, it might not do him any good. He just may never play again.

He did something stupid and reckless the other night. When I called him out on it, he fell apart, “Mom, my life is ruined.”

You and I know that it’s not, but when you are the star of the football team and the most physical kid in town, it feels that way.

My heart broke for this sweeter-than-sugar young man.

I’m trying to just hold space for all of his pain – to be able to hear him and help him remember that he is loved and will, no matter what he thinks, be okay.

“We will get through this. It’s going to be hard, and, we will do it. Together.”

I’m calling in the forces: friends, teammates, coaches, grandparents, cousins.

He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met – plays football with multiple broken ribs.

And he is the most sensitive kid I know.

Watching this huge, muscle-bound, tough-guy cry is simply and horribly sad.

So, as I prepare and he prepares, I find myself praying – something I am not prone to doing.

But we are going to need all the help we can get to make this boy continue to smile that glorious, infectious smile of his.

 

 

Selfish Selfish Selfish

One child lost his Social Security benefits (but didn’t lose his disability) and the appeal has been going on for 6 months. We need to plan his future and get him a driver’s license and teach him how to balance a checkbook.

The next one, the off-the-charts brilliant one, is putting in minimal effort, getting mediocre grades and now his teachers are calling me in to discuss behavioral problems in the classroom.  I got word this morning that he threw up in his friend’s bunk bed after too much to drink at the Homecoming party.

The third is apparently not having the football season that he needs to have if he’s going to get recruited and can’t afford college without some scholarship money. He’s got a mom flirting with him and potentially sending him boobie-photos.

Get me the fuck out of here.

I want to think about me. I want to read my book, write my memoir, get a massage, and run away to the desert, ALL. BY. MYSELF.

I want to not think about anyone else.  I want to paint my nails and think about having another cup of coffee and where I will run.

I don’t want to worry about anyone else. I don’t want to be constantly trying to fix, help, or encourage. I don’t want to brainstorm for another.

Sick of teacher meetings, coach meetings, guidance counselor meetings.

Last night I had to make the choice: Write another letter to the Federal Government, rage against my oh so underachieving child, or find out if there is a sexual predator pursuing my handsome child.

Child being the operative word here.

I chose that one – seemed like the most urgent.

Looks like it was nothing.

So relieved that I completely blew off the others. Figured there was so much shit going on that one more day wouldn’t matter.

Especially when I have no interest in dealing with any of it.

Is there anyone out there who wants to take over for a little while?

There is a Guardian Angel

“Mom, you’re not Christian or Mexican, why are you so into Jesus candles?”

“You know Buddy, just in case.”

Who knows if it does me any good, but I figure it can’t do us any harm, and last night felt like a Guardian Angel was looking over my family so, I’m going to keep on lighting them…

…just in case.

It was the night of the Homecoming Dance, and hand in hand, the Homecoming after-party.

Back story here:

My boys are teenagers. We live in a small redneck town where kids drink Coors Light, chew Copenhagen, and go mudding in the mountains in their big trucks. I was a teenager once and made a LOT of really stupid choices. My children have made a lot of stupid choices. So have their friends. Their father, a recovering alcoholic, thinks that a “talk” here and there about the dangers of drinking, especially with their genetics, is keeping them from imbibing in said alcohol.

So the way I look at parenting them during these years, given the above factors, I have 3 choices; tell them not to drink and think that they won’t, thus having them lying and sneaking all over the county with a beer in hand; cruelly forbid them to ever leave the house just so I feel safe; or be totally realistic and hope that a policy of transparency will keep them honest and maybe a bit more careful if they’re not having to lurk around behind my back.

Since Dad has gone for number 1, and number 2 just isn’t fair since they haven’t done enough to warrant its implementation, I’ve opted for number 3.

Number 3 is great when sitting around the dining room table, me being the cool mom.  It’s a whole other story on a Saturday night when they are making plans to go to the mountains with 235 of their closest stupid friends to drink beer and Fireball, at two o’clock in the morning.

Which was last night’s post-homecoming plan.

So many things were freaking me out about it, yet I chose to let them go: with stipulations.

No drinking to vomiting status.

No taking advantage of drunken girls.

No drinking and driving.

Curfew.

First one, I just had to keep my fingers crossed that they too believe that Vomiting Isn’t Fun.

Second – I just trust them. Should I? I certainly hope so.

Third – I offered, as I always do, to do the driving for them. I always agree to drive up to the mountains at extremely-early-in-the-morning (like 2) to pick them up to guarantee that they won’t get in a car with a “sober” driver.

I remember one night that I was the “sober” driver – I was chosen because I was the one in the group who’d only eaten one hit of acid instead of two.

Curfew – Of course they don’t want one. Of course they’re going to get one.

“Can we just spend the night up there?”

Fuck. No.

So they asked if they could spend the night at a friends’.

“Is this your way of getting out of having a curfew?”

“Yes.”

Remember, I have asked for total transparency.

And, I said “Sure.”

Crazy, right? It just seemed so much easier having another parent involved, even if it was one who was going to let them stay out all night.  It gave me the opportunity to turn a blind eye.

And I took it.

God I love denial.

It didn’t mean that I wouldn’t stress, freak out, lose sleep, etc. But in saying “yes” I hoped that they would be able to say “no” if necessary.

Another part of the equation was this:

Friend wouldn’t be drinking or driving like an idiot because he’ on probation and has to take a pee test tomorrow and the truck is his dad’s and if he messed it up, we’d all be running for the hills to avoid the wrath.

“I wish I felt okay about this because I trust Friend to make smart choices, not because he’s made so many dumb choices that he can longer afford to make more. But I’ll take what I can get.”

And then, I received this text: No one wants to go to the mountains, it’s too cold and too much driving. So just a few of us are going to go to Friend’s to hang out.

No stupid driving on stupid mountain roads with stupid drunk teenagers. No wondering if the cops (who always know when there is party in the mountains) will show up and issue my children MIP’s (minor in possession).

They go one place, where they will stay, with parental supervision, right in town.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Have fun. Have a great night.

And there is proof that a Guardian Angel does exist and thank the heavens above that I lit that Jesus candle yesterday.

Sometimes I can’t believe them…

They (boys) needed shampoo so when I went  to the grocery store the other night I bought the biggest bottle I could find. I also picked up some toothpaste for them.

Came home and unpacked. Toothpaste and shampoo were placed, along with some wayward socks, on the end of the kitchen table closest to their bathroom – a range of, maybe, six feet.

Two days later, the toothpaste box is empty but not in the trash, the socks lead a trail to their bedrooms and the pump is open on the shampoo bottle.

Are they actually coming out of the bathroom to get a squirt of shampoo then returning to lather, rinse, and repeat?

Unforgivable????

I did something today that I could never have imagined doing.

I am a keeper of strays – always have been. Love the underdog.

I’ve had cats and dogs from shelters, the Walmart parking lot, a burlap bag in the river, under my trailer/office, the Farmers’ Market, and the reservation.

I’ve even taken in a stray child or two and can never turn down a stray plant.

Given my history, I completely went against every thread of my being and did an abominable thing…

…I took a cat to the shelter.

And left him.

And lied and said he was a stray because I was too ashamed to admit that I was actually just giving up one of my pets to whom I’d committed a lifetime of love and protection.

It was the Walmart parking lot kitty – the one who has slowly gone a little bit nutty, ultimately pushing me way over the edge last night.

It’s been building. He suffers from anxiety and it has been impacting the quality of his (and our) daily life.

He has become skittish, unpredictable, and a yowler.

Where other cats Meow, this one wails; long, mournful, agonizing, howls of angst that no amount of screaming or ignoring can stop.

Not all the time – I’ll give him that.  He has moments where is is actually kind of cute. Those moments are what have made it impossible to do what I did.

Until today.

He spent half the night outside our bedroom door singing his mournful tune. I finally got up at 3:00 am to see what was wrong.

Apparently nothing.

Then, when I let another cat inside, he ran out. We have a cardinal rule in our house; the misfit does not get to go outside at night because he can’t handle it. He’s okay for about 30 minutes and then he positions himself below our bedroom window, which is also below our neighbors’, and the yowling begins.  It is incessant – he doesn’t even stop to breathe – until I let him back in.

Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed to open the door.

Once, I tried to ignore him. A neighbor threw a rock at my house.

So, he’s outside, the wailing is fingernails on the chalkboard, and MCB snores away.

Later that morning (5:00 am) I’m crabby ass and bitchy from my shit night and next thing I know, MCB and I are having an uncomfortable conversation about screaming cats, getting a dog, pet responsibility, etc.

I got in the shower and thought, “I am miserable, I have no affection for this cat, the last thing any of the children said to him was ‘go away’, and he is now impacting my relationship.”

“I’m done.”

MCB and I talked, we both felt cruel, irresponsible and cold-hearted. MCB is a little bit attached to this one and not at all to the others (go figure). But we finally came to the conclusion that this really isn’t working.

I had to do it immediately, without thought or feeling.  If I hesitated for even a split second, I would be spending another 100 nights bitching in the middle of the night.

I left work, went home and the second I walked in the door, he hid. Found him, got the bejesus clawed out of my arms and right leg, but finally got him into the favored form of transport: the pillowcase.

I put him in the way-back of the truck and listened to him yowl all the way to the shelter. I could hear it over the sound of the motor, the wind, and the radio.

After I got to the shelter and lied about the “stray” in the back of my truck, the gal and I went out to get him.  He had shredded the pillowcase. My brain said, “Good riddance,” my heart said, “Oh, poor baby.”

Brain won out over heart.

I drove away, did a bit of retail therapy (got a fabulous purple dress) and went for a run.

“I’m fine” I thought.

I am actually not fine, but trying hard to get there.

When I got home, I knew the kids wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t around, probably wouldn’t for another week.  So I thought that it would be better for me to just tell them.

“Are you kidding, Mom? That’s so mean.”

“Really?  I actually liked him – he was part of the family.”

“Why did you only get rid of one?”

That was Bobby – he wants a husky.

So now, of course, I am second guessing myself. I am wondering how much this event will cost in therapy for my children later in life, and thinking that everyone in the household is afraid of being the next victim of my sociopathic cruelty.

 

 

joyous

Last night, dinner was completely chaotic.  Greg, Peter, and Bobby came home battered and bruised from football, wearing their new jerseys, which prompted lots of conversation, which led to a lot of talk about tonight’s game, and which was then somehow connected to how much they hate their new Spanish teacher. Bobby needed to purchase some (expensive) items online for his college class, my cute boyfriend (MCB) was preparing to leave at 3:00 am for a fishing trip and we are still living out of boxes.

Usually whomever doesn’t cook, does the dishes, but I did both last night so that the big strong boys could move some furniture, so that I can try to finish unpacking and settling in while MCB is out of town. I also hit Amazon.com hard.

And we could all smell cat pee, but we couldn’t locate it.

At one point, while moving from the stove to the fridge, I completely stalled out in one of those “I have no idea what I was doing” moments and I just stood there observing the chaos of my life, my home, my family…

And I was overjoyed with love and contentment.

I never would have imagined this would be my life.  When I married, I thought it was forever, so I pictured myself at almost-fifty with that man and our two sons, who would be long distance runners and kayakers or artists. I envisioned calm, quiet, and settled for years in the house we built ourselves out in the country.

NOT having just moved into a new rental right in town, that we chose because it was convenient for all of the friends. NOT with 3 teenage boys, including the little scrapper that turned up on my doorstep a year ago. NOT with 3 football players. NOT with a loving, kind, and generous (in heart and soul) man who is considerably younger than I.

Certainly, NOT enjoying noise, confusion, and a million things swirling around all at the same time.

I went to sleep watching MCB pack. We woke up together at 3. As I lay there watching him dress and zip up his duffel, I sighed in total peace and thought, “I am the luckiest gal in the world.”