So, guess what I found out today…Michele actually reads my blogs~ How do I know? Because when we were having coffee this morning she shot me a look and then said “I read your latest blog…(my mind quickly searching to find the cause of her tone)” followed by an overemphasized “I don’t caaare!”. LoL and Doh’. Luckily we’re that good of friends and she’s not easily offended so what followed was “do people really read these tales of dumb and dumber?”. I gave her a blank stare until she pointed out she meant she n me. I laughed and said “huuuuuundreds….per moooonth” then she proceeded in the dumb and dumber fashion to recap what I’d written in last week’s blog and we laughed so hard and so loud I half expected the cafe guy to tell us to take our obnoxious selves elsewhere. We haven’t laughed that hard and that loud in a good long while. Was an awesome moment. What does this have to do with my two favorite fish you say? Absolutely nothing. Helloooo you know me enough by now~
So, yesterday was my mother’s birthday. Funny how often I’d forget it when she was alive and now I remember it like a school bell going off in my head these past few years. Being born on March 1st makes her a Pisces in astrology (if you’re into that) and being my mom, she is still one of my favorite people/fish. I bring her up not to just deflect from the fact that it was chemo week which means not much happened musically but, because she’s a link to who I am and my love for music. I know I’ve talked about my dad and his influence in music and the myriad of instruments that were around the house whereas my mom has been more of a sideline or fallguy for the jokes like how she ruined the baby grande because she decided to build her own terrarium to enhance the look of the beast but, neglected to test it to make sure it wouldn’t leak water…yes…there are many stories like this that if you told them without name, people who know us both would have a hard time which one the story’s about. We have more in common than I’d ever admit most of the time. The one thing that really set us apart was she was almost always a cup half empty person where mine was almost always at least half full which as you can guess caused a lot of friction over the years. That, and her innate ability to re-arrange my home on her visits whenever I turned my back for even a split second. Now some of you are thinking back to a blog in September where my sister came down to help me out when I had my surgery and yes…she will dig her heels in before admitting any likeness but, that my friends is a trait they most definitely have in common~
My mother (who I relentlessly called Maaaaaaaah) was also a creative type. Her passions were sewing, stained glass and the theatre. She once not too many years back told me that when she lived in the convent (oh yeah, did I tell you she was a nun before she met my dad of course?) that she had a chance to act in a couple plays and absolutely loved it. She was torn when she had the chance to go live with a lovely family as a live in nanny but discovered just before leaving that the nun who directed the plays had her in mind for the leading role in a Shakespeare play. Ma was riddled with regrets like that. She would’ve been so much happier if she were able to drift in and out of parallel worlds. I’m not calling her a whiner. She had it tough growing up, no doubt. Her mom died while giving birth to her (only) brother, her dad left them (abandonment issues galore) with their maternal grandmother and started another life in another state, her brother resented her leaving him behind to live with one of the most miserable of aunts when their grandmother passed away, she lived through the depression and the loss of a boyfriend to the war and well, she lived in a convent for many years. That all in itself is worthy of a whine or two. Do we bring up the raising of 7 kids at this point? Maybe save that for later…What did go right was she was advised just before the taking of final vows (after that, you’re pretty much locked into the nunnery for life) to look to something more mainstream like nursing instead. She earned a scholarship and got on a train from Detroit to Spokane, Wa where she spent the next three years in servitude as a nurse in training.
My favorite of her fish stories? “I was studying as usual when the girls pushed me to go with them to a town mixer where the Gonzaga boys would be. I was much older than them (25) and didn’t see the point but, they talked me into it. I spent most of the night sitting on a bench watching one or two men look my way and one in particular who kept poking his head through his group of pals…after a good long while I thought forget this…I could be studying. So, I went over to the coat check and handed them my ticket. That’s when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see the peeker had worked up the nerve to ask me to dance. We didn’t even realize until our first date that we had the same last name!”. The other is how she talked about when Pop was courting her and he proclaimed “One day we’ll have 8 children!”. “8?! Why you haven’t even asked me to marry you yet!”. Nearly 50 years they were married and definitely had their ups and downs but, they genuinely liked eachother and that’s a great start. I once asked them what the secret was to their marriage and my mom smiled and said “A sense of humor” before my dad nearly cut her off with a resounding “Patience!”. Oh yeah…you can bet he got a look for that outburst ;). My mom was the unwitting “bad guy” in most of the scenarios. I remember when they gave the dog away while we were at school, my brother Chris put up a petition on the kitchen white board to trade out mom for the dog. Of course as adults we recognize our street was too busy and she was an unruly shephard who kept breaking her chain and threatening the smaller dogs by putting their heads in her mouth so yes…a farm was a much better place for her. She was better equipped to be it I think but, as grownups we now understand those things we griped at her for were team decisions. She understood the need for good cop/bad cop. Plus, my dad was crap at playing the bad cop. I remember once he was supposed to swat me and I cried and cried and then he nearly cried and then I was sent off swat free. The boys (I have 5 older brothers) like to take guesses at how many wooden spoons she broke on them. I don’t remember that but, I do remember her nearly tearing Eddy’s ear off when he smarted off to her and somehow now a fond memory of me being a bratty teenager and the word “bitch” slipped out of my mouth which was followed my a hand whacking my head back and forth along the length of the room integrated words on each impact “dont you eeeeever call meeee that word ever never ever again!” Luckily by the time I hit the wall she’d made her point and believe you me in sunk in. To this day whenever I use that word I cringe just after for old times sake. Although she had half a voice for many years (pierced a vocal chord shouting for the boys to come in to dinner before I was even a twinkle) she loved to sing. She embraced our French heritage (I don’t care what you say…French-Canadian is still “French”) and often sang in French…”Dominque nique nique…”. I’m more drawn to the Scottish (loooooooooooove the bagpipes) but, if you asked her, she’d say I embodied more of the Bohemian side than anything else. I only agree in the sense that I tend to go the road less conventional but, I am still the daughter of a nun so it only goes so far off the main path before I start to feel a tugging at my waistcoat.
My mom inspired me even more by her actions later in life. When she’d calmed from the hair-pulling persona of a mother of seven and went on happy pills. That’s when she got back into theatre as an actor and an accomplished costume designer. She made some beautiful stain glass pieces for our home and even took to stenciling the dining room, my bedroom (which used to be a storage area off the laundry room until my sister threatened to kill me if she didn’t get some space for herself and her highschool mates to be well, high schoolers) and her infamous sewing room. Which of all the rooms in the house, this one was and will always be “her”. You can smell her, envision her and feel her presence when you’re in there. It’s very comforting. She was also the one that taught me how important it is to leave your mark on the world. Even if its just a little one. She did so by making a quilt for each of us and for each of her grandkids. Brilliant she was. She even held out and passed on Mother’s Day to make sure she would not soon be forgotten. To add more measure to it, that year Eddy’s birthday landed on that day. They weren’t that close before but, he was sure it was her way of saying she loved him and I don’t doubt it for one minute. She was always able to think on many levels or should I say “strategize”. Another thing I remember vividly is that she would get a sense something was wrong so she’d call me to see if it was me. If I didn’t respond after the second call she’d leave the following message “Alicia….this is your mother…this is the second time I’ve called and now I’m even more concerned. If you don’t return my call today I will call the police and have them come to your home and check on you”. Yup. And she would too I knew it. I think she actually did with Den once… She will not be ignored!
So, what does all of this have to do with anything? I think it’s just good to look back and remember someone and what parts of them you carry with you and how it brought you to where you are now and how it helps or hinders you from plowing ahead. One other big thing about her is she was also a Cancer survivor. She found out when I was living in Japan and was done with all of her treatments by the time I moved back and I remember her insisting when she first told me “Don’t you dare move back on my account…I’m fine. I mean it”. For someone who pulled an all out campaign when I said I’d be staying in Tokyo longer than the 3 months as planned (seriously had my friends in tizzy thinking I’d been brainwashed or stranded or enslaved by the Yakuza and needed rescuing) those words carried a lot of weight. When we were in the same room again I remember her saying that this was a curse on the women in the family going way back and so I should be prepared that I will undoubtedly face it too one day. Having that in my mind totally prepared me for what came last September. I think the docs with the “Bad news I’m afraid” speeches thought I was a nutter when my response was so matter of fact but, that’s why. So much easier to deal with things when you know what’s coming your way. Why do you think there are so many mediums and fortune tellers? Oh- I just thought of something funny….John B….remember when we all went to see Poltergeist and when the medium was shuffling up the stairs you nearly shouted “that’s not a medium…that’s an extra large!”. But, I digress…again..
Maybe that’s my que to move on to fish #2 whose birthday is on the 5th…I can’t say too much about this one because he’s pretty damned sensitive about privacy but, I will say he is one of my favorite people on the planet, one of my best friends in this lifetime and also happens to be my ex. Anyone who meets us is surprised how well we get along but, I think its very natural. Am I friends with all my ex’s? Nope. Just this one but, I’m pretty damn proud of it and feel very lucky he’s the one fish I didn’t have to throw back. I even love his g/f. She’s perfect for him and we genuinely like and appreciate eachother which is always a perk. So, what is it about him that makes him a favorite fish? For one, he taught me to not take things quite so seriously. He’s from Scotland you see and they have a slightly different sense of humor than most Americans. “Silly cow” comes to mind. The first time he said it I burst into tears “what a terrible thing to say…you calling me fat?? (and no, at the time I so was not) and he was floored to see my reaction. I think he was stunned is more the word and I remember the look on his face as he grappled to find the cause of my (over) reaction. I learned a lot over the years about “taking the piss” out of someone vs being mean and learning to speak up. I was always the “I don’t care, whatever you want is fine by me” kind of person but, that’s a bad habit to be in. It’s good to express and want certain things. Even if it’s just to be heard. I remember one day him pissing me off big time. Who knows what it was about but, I turned to him and said “You’re being a real cu#t” to which he stood and boasted “Good for you Gungadette (one of his fav nicks for me…his friends called me St. Ali if that gives you any idea just how much of a handful he was) and he actually clapped his hands together in genuine approval.
His view of the world is very offbeat but, refreshing at the same time. I remember being in the other room and hearing him chirping at the commercial on TV…”yes…welcome to America, have your credit card ready”. What most he’s given to me is support when I least expect it (and mostly need it) and an effortless “Of course you can do it”. I remember having great angst over taking the final Microsoft exam for my MCSE (1 year/7 exams in total) and coming through the front door he says “well…how did it go…” and I burst into tears…not the wipe away but, the blubber, snot nosed bawling…I kept hearing my mom’s voice saying “Why don’t you ever finish anything?” and he just said “oh dear…let’s get you a beer and sort this out”. So, he pragmatically walked me through what happened, how I’d already proven myself 6 times over and that the next time I take the test I will pass it and if not, then the time after that. He’s really good at breaking down what seem insurmountable situations and yes Pete…to Cancer I say “no big deal” but, to failing an exam I fall apart. Big things…I got it covered but, the little things…not so much. We each have our own idiosyncrasies that’s for sure. Another thing that makes me laugh is when my mom had hip surgery and he got on the phone to her and said “Hellooo hop along…how are you fairing today?” Who says that?? He does…as well as some things that can make a whole room shudder on impact. Above all things he believes in me and he’s shown me many times you don’t have to have a fancy degree or a ton of years experience to be good at something. I have no doubt of that and that carries me on days when I start to whimp out. I’ve said before and I’ll say it many times over that I’m very lucky to have a whole group of friends that believe in me and allow me to be completely myself around them. These are things that carry you through to the next round of whatever it is you’re facing.
What do these things have to do with my music project?? Nothing and Everything. The lyrics in my songs come from memories and influences from cetain people in my life, good or bad. I genuinely hope that you’re at least as lucky as me to have much more of the good and that whatever it is that keeps you coming back to read these silly blogs (be it the tales of dumb and dumber or the curiosity of whether I will actually make it all happen) that you know how much I appreciate it and count you as a part of this adventure.
The only thing music wise that happened last week (other than practice at home) was an incredibly lucid dream I had where I was humming a tune to a song and asking someone if it was someone elses or mine and they said it was mine so I said “Sht, I gotta remember this one when I wake up so it doesn’t slip away”. Not a clue what was. Not a note remembered but…the way my brain works with its infinite looping it will come around again at some point. In the meantime, I’m negotiating with the nurses on which open mic I will play in our area next and looking forward to one last chemo session (next week) before a nice little mini break. Oh, and I signed up for the local 5k in April. I’ll be walking it this time but, at least I’m doing it~
A possible open Mic next Monday. Will take pics and bring stories next Wednesday~
Till then, thanks as always for listening and a special thanks to you all that have been forwarding this on to others. The website manager shows a ton of new links to it. That is just so cool~
Look at all who came to read the blog last month....cooooool~
PS: While I was proofing this I decided to put some carrots in the steamer (look at me being so healthy) when I was mid way through I smelled something burning…yes…water is a good thing to not forget to add. Seriously…someone should unplug my oven before someone gets hurt, Oy~
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