Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Parents Dilemma

There are days that I wish I was oblivious to what goes on in my kids’ lives.  As a parent who knows what is going on, it creates headaches, sleepless nights and more often than not fighting.  Wouldn't it be nice to just be the parent that is blind to their kids trials?  Honestly, I don't think so.

As the baby of five kids, I could get away with anything.  By the time they got to me, nothing mattered.  Yes, my parents loved me, but sometimes it seemed like they didn't care.  I could go out drinking in high school, get in a car and drive, and I didn't have to report in to anyone.  I never really needed to sneak out, I just left.  I never had to sneak in, my parents were asleep by the time I got home.  My parents had seen it all by the time I came around.  The next youngest child in my family is seven years older than me.  He was probably the worst of all of us; partying all the time, trying to grow weed in his bedroom, flunking out of classes, getting his girlfriend pregnant in high school (in his defense, he later married his son's mom and had a daughter to boot).

A friend reached out today about a dilemma she’s facing.  It relates to another parent that allows not only drinking, but smoking pot, in their house, not only in front of their kids, but with their kids and their kids friends.  When did it become OK to drink or smoke with your kids?  What kind of example is this parent setting?  I guess I shouldn't judge, right?  I don’t know the full circumstances.  I’m not saying it’s ok to do it with your kids, but it’s not my business.  I am, however, saying that you should NEVER do it with kids that aren't your own. 

Back to my brother; my parents knew what was going on, but I can’t say they condoned it. When he was caught smoking cigarettes under age, my dad made him smoke an entire pack in one sitting in front of him.  Get through that, and they wouldn't care if he smoked.   He never made it through the whole pack, but that didn't stop him from sneaking it.

I like to think that we raised our kids’ right, to make good choices, and to realize the consequences of their actions.  I won’t say that our kids are perfect; I don’t think any kid is perfect.  They have to make choices, and as a parent you have to hope they will solicit your feedback. It’s hard to sit back and watch your kids make mistakes. You have to think they will learn from it and move forward, and then hopefully you can sit back and when they are 25 they will apologize for every sleepless night, headache, stomachache and mortification they caused over those previous 24 years.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Am I Really a Writer if I've Never Been Published?

It's Sunday afternoon and I am simultaneously working on two books and this blog, all while thinking about getting up and making dinner and folding the clothes in the dryer.

There are days that I don't think any of my ramblings are worth writing down.  Same goes for the pictures I take.  Why do I make the effort on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons and take upwards of 500 pictures at both high school and college football games?

Honestly, I have no idea.  Does anyone even read what I write?  I can track the opens on my blog, and I can track that pictures that get likes.  But does anyone really care what I put on paper (so to speak?).  Truly, I don't think it matters. I do this because I love it. I love to write and I love to take pictures.

My to-read pile is growing exponentially, and as I read articles and blogs, there is always a need to respond, albeit for my own benefit.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, and sometimes I stew on an article or blog, only to go back to it days later.

One of the books I am writing is now sitting at just over 43,000 words.  I'm hoping to draft another 20,000 words...but will it be enough?  Is it too much? I have no idea.  I've been shopping around editors and publishers, and toying with self-publishing.  I just want to get to a point where I can put the book to rest.

The other book I am working on is more photography based, but there is still content to write.  I know what I want to say; just need the time to do it.  I've picked the perfect image for the cover, and I can wait until it's finished.

Until I'm published, I expect the distraction of my blog, and multiple social media pages, will have to suffice.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Bubble

No, I don't have a contagious infection.  I'm not prone to accidents.  I'm not Marge Simpson living in the movie version of the Simpson's.  But I live in a bubble.  This bubble is my hometown.  I grew up in 'old' New Berlin, where the only entertainment we had was sitting at Calhoun Park or Valley View Park on the weekends, hanging out at friends houses having bonfires, or venturing past 124th street to go cruise Highway 100.  I took the leap and went to Whitewater for a year.  Only for a year, because I met my future husband on Day 1 (thank you Lori & John), and we both left after our 2nd semester.  Our first apartment was in West Allis, just two and half miles from where Doug grew up, and a mere 10 miles from where I grew up.  Our first house, just a block and half from Doug's childhood home, and just over nine miles from mine.

With the exception of that single year at college, I've never lived outside that 10 mile radius.  I've never wanted to leave, until the last few years. As a family, we've fallen in love with St. Germain.  The lifestyle, the quiet.  As I approach mid-life (wow, that sounds old), I think of this current bubble serving as more of a padded cell.

Every time I run into New Berlin, I pass landmarks that chronicle my childhood.  My old job at GMR sits on the property that once housed my brother-in-laws home.  The corner across the street from my job at MSB now sits a McDonald's where once there was nothing.   The car wash place that stands where Storms used to be and we spent many hours hitting balls at Andy and crew when they were picking them up. The church where not only I was baptized, but our children were baptized, and where we were married, as were two of my four siblings, and my nephew soon to be married in August. That church stands across the street from a parking lot that once housed the restaurant where our reception was held, and the now-defunct IGA where I had my first (real) job and we used to goof around in back.  Let's not forget about the new Dunkin Donuts where Burger King used to stand, next to Taco Bell where Katie and I would go in on Friday nights and she would order Tacos without lettuce.  Or driving my baby blue Cutlass and having Rick and Juston think it was funny to turn on the firetruck light in their car and pull me over.

Fast forward to the bubble of West Allis, and we drive by Doug's childhood home to get to our home, same location of our second apartment, where Shawn learned to walk.  We drive by Wilson school, where not only Doug attended, but our boys too.  The same school where we learned to let Ryan venture out on his own, after keeping a tight leash on his older brother.  We drive by the boys middle school on the way to his brothers.  We spend every afternoon at Nathan Hale watching football practice and games from August until November.  It's the place where I've taken thousands of pictures and created memories that will never fade.

The bubble also includes my friends and family...both local and distant.  I follow a glimpse into everyone's life through social media, knowing full well what I see on screen may not be reality.

The new bubble includes St. Germain, Sayner, Eagle River, Minoqua, Boulder Junction...  It's our home away from home.  It's the place where we relax and forget about life, even if just for a weekend or a lucky long week.  It's the place where I can explore my photography, or where I think up new ideas for the two books that I'm hoping to publish.  It's the place where I can turn on my music, strap on my helmet and just drive through the woods.

The bubble allows a place to be me.  I've never needed to be near the mall, or nightlife.  I'm not one to go out drinking with friends, I did that in my youth.  I would rather curl up in a chair, covered in a blanket, with a good book where I can get lost in my own head even if for a little while.  Sometimes I wonder if that makes me antisocial.  I'm not opposed to going out, it just doesn't ever seem to go that way...maybe it's just the invites drying up.

I wonder, if and when we move, how much the bubble will change.  One thing is certain, albeit a padded cell, I'll always think of both New Berlin and West Allis as home.