Category Archives: 1970’s

Of Course, Me too.

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Of Course, Me too.

“Me too” is trending on social media right now. It’s a way for people (mostly women but not exclusively) to identify that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted at some point. At the risk of sounding trendy, this is a tinder box of triggers for a lot of us.

Where to start…..early y’all I grew up in the 70’s when women were definitely not seen as equals. I was a kid – probably 5 the first time someone tried to get fresh with me. We were visiting a friend of my mother. It was a family but the guy and his offspring were overly sexual. I remember seeing boob mugs and a novelty lady parts on the guys desk. His son, a few years older than me, kept trying to get me naked. I was 5 years old. I refused to get naked for him despite his relentless requests.

Fast forward to me at 7 years old, living in New Jersey. There was a teen boy that lived by my babysitter. He got me to make out with him in a fort. What teen wants to make out with a 7 year old? He was definitely a predator in training. I remember him telling me how we would get married when I was 16. Even at 7, I knew he was full of shit.

Leap to my teen years and I wasn’t making great life choices. I had a brief stint with drugs and alcohol which lasted about 18 months. It was the early 80s and there were times when I was stupid enough to hitch hike, sometimes alone. One time in particular, the driver took me to a remote location. I knew I was in trouble and my teen brain was in overdrive. I liked to think I was cool but I was very inexperienced and afraid. I talked my way out of an assault by making up a story about a boyfriend in South River that had ties to the mob. I rattled of names of guys and streets that were completely fabricated. The driver must have believed me because things didn’t escalate. That was a really close call.

Fortunately I stopped drinking and using drugs at the age of 15. I got sent to an adolescent rehab which was a fairly new concept in 1983. Ten months later, I was in a sexual relationship with the man who was previously my counselor in rehab. I have tried to convince myself that this was consensual. It was in some ways but it wasn’t a level playing field. He was 32, I was 16. If a 32 year old man shows any interest in my daughter when she is 16, there will be hell to pay.

When I started working, harassment was just another thing you had to deal with on the job. I was a cashier at a grocery store for several years in my late teens. One older man in the dairy department insisted on hugging all of the girls and then he would make comments about their breast size. I hated this and mentioned it to management. The hugging stopped but I was looked at as a trouble maker from that point on. “Oh, it’s no big deal, he’s just old and likes hugs” my co-workers would say. “Really” I would retort, “he just commented on your cup size.”

I worked for a large corporation in the early 90s. I was good at my job and got consistent promotions. I was there about 4 years when one of my former managers heard that I had ended a relationship. The next day a box from Victoria’s Secret was on my desk. It contained two camisole nightgowns with matching robes and two pairs of thigh high stockings. It cost a small fortune and instantly made me feel uncomfortable. This man was no longer my manager and we rarely spoke. And if that wasn’t enough, his wife worked for the same company. So I handled it in a way that would leave him some dignity. I thanked him for the gift and said “I’m sure you only meant this as a friendly gesture but it makes me uncomfortable”. I requested that he take it back, he refused and I let it drop. By this point, I had learned the importance of deescalation.

I remember going to a sober get together with male acquaintances that said they would not give me a ride home unless I blew them. I started walking and they eventually caught up with me to give me a ride but I didn’t feel safe. Even sober, I could not escape creeps. There was one man in particular that would go to the same weekly AA meeting as me, he harassed me every time he saw me. Every. Single. Time. The kicker was that he sponsored my sponsor’s husband. She had a fit when she witnessed his behavior one night. She had not idea he treated me that way. To me he was just another asshole that I tried to ignore. It didn’t even cross my mind to tell her about it.

I will say these things don’t happen with the frequency they once did. I’ve been married for 15 years and I am self-employed. I’d like to think the world is starting to change but it is more likely that I have aged out of the target zone. Now my focus is preparing my children for the situations they may encounter. Time to make “me too” the exception instead of the norm, it’s beyond time.

 

 

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Alternate Universe

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Alternate Universe

I’ve managed to create this nice little alternate universe for myself via my blog. I have a handful of in the flesh friends that know about it, but not many. My blog followers, select few that you are, have come here like a gift from the blogosphere (that’s a legit word). I get a slight tingle when I see a new country highlighted in the WordPress stats. Today someone from Japan read one of my posts. No idea how or why they got here but isn’t that cool? I’m in Pennsylvania, typing away and someone in Japan just wandered in. It’s fascinating to me probably because at my age, I can still remember when none of this was possible.

For those of us over 30 (OK well over if you’re going to get particular about it) doesn’t it blow your mind how much technology has changed in the past 20 years. How much more will change in the next 20 years? I suspect we will have autonomous flying cars, artificial intelligence that can learn beyond human capability and a staggering unemployment issue and oh yes, Mars isn’t off the table – thanks Elon Musk.

What are we losing with all of this technological advancement? Do we have to lose something, is that required? I don’t know but I have observed a some things that concern me – instant gratification, loss of privacy and a lack of creativity and freedom.

I have two kids a tween and a teen. They have reasonable restrictions on device time. There are no devices allowed in their bedroom at night. For one kid it wouldn’t even be an issue as he doesn’t care at all. My daughter, on the other hand,would be up all night on Instagram, chatting with friends, making bad musically videos and would be busy not sleeping.

The ability to text, tweet, post and communicate instantaneously has helped to create a generation that expects instant gratification. Midlifers, remember when we would call our best friend in 5th grade on the corded phone on a table or attached to the wall? The phone was always located in some public space in your house and you had to push down on buttons or worse, stick your finger in the circle of the corresponding numbers to spin the phone wheel and call? And, gasp, sometimes no one answered or the phone was busy so you had to try to call them again later and move on with your 10 year old life. Kids don’t do that today. They rarely have to wait more than a few minutes to hear back from a friend and if they don’t hear back immediately, a bit of panic sets in. It’s kind of crazy.

I remember being bored plenty as a kid and I would go outside or write in a journal. We had to make up our own games to pass the time and if we were lucky we got some local kids to join in. We played spontaneously and we figured stuff out. You didn’t like everyone and everyone didn’t like you but you could usually make it work long enough for some variation of tag or cops and robbers. I don’t see that much where we live, sure it happens but it’s special when it does because it isn’t the norm. The usual here is organized activities and sports.

Kids aren’t off the leash much either these days. We need to know where they are all the time because there are bad people out there (and no sh*t, there really are bad people out there). Hell there are sneakers with tracking devices in them now….it’s kind of like Little Johnny is on house arrest or maybe block arrest. Their expectations for privacy are at the bare minimum. They don’t want you to walk in on them while they’re getting changed but most anticipate some level of monitoring of their electronic activities. Late 70’s and early 80’s kids wouldn’t stand for that. We kept our stuff private and if someone read our journal there was hell to pay. Our parents didn’t know where we were half the time and we couldn’t be tracked with a Find My Phone app. If they asked where we were we would either tell them or make up something that sounded reasonable. It was kind of awesome.

Here’s a little something to make you laugh, courtesy of YouTube

 

 

 

Keep on Truckin’…….Part 8

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Keep on Truckin’…….Part 8

We lived in an apartment over a hardware store in a blue collar town in central New Jersey.  We lasted there the better part of 5 years. That was a milestone, hadn’t made it past 18 months anywhere else up to that point. For the three of us – my mother, twin brother and I that was a bit of stability. Everything else was a bit of a shit storm but at least we had friendships that lasted beyond a single school year.

The apartment was small but it was home. You approached it from the outside via steep wooden stairs on the back north corner of the hardware store. At the top of the stairs was an enclosed landing….porch sounds too fancy. Once you opened the door you stepped into a hallway. To the right was a closet and straight ahead was an opening to the living room. If you made a left in the hallway you were steps from the kitchen which was large enough to have the necessities and a small table. The kitchen also doubled as the laundry room with a washer and dryer in the corner. Just past the laundry area was my brother’s bedroom. He had his own bedroom, I’m sure I was jealous of that. Off of his bedroom was a storage room which lacked proper insulation and for some reason there was a window shared between the storage room and the bathroom. There was a second short hallway off the kitchen which provided another entry point into the living room and a closet, my closet. It was also the means to get to the only bathroom and the second bedroom which I shared with my mother. There was a door at the end of this hall which led to another apartment. This was weird because it locked on our side but we could open the door and be in our neighbor’s apartment. We lived there from the summer of 1978 to October of 1983. In school terms we were there from 5th grade to the beginning of 10th grade.

The layout of the apartment became intimately familiar to me. Every day when I got home from school I would walk through the apartment. I would go into every room and open every closet, every damn day. I did this looking for my mother’s body. She talked about wanting to die so frequently that I would go through the apartment on auto pilot searching for her. I don’t even think I connected what I was doing until much later in life but there it is.

My mom drank alcoholically and she was pretty expressive with her feelings. Basically she had no filter and no control. Drunk or sober she told my brother and I countless times “I wish you were never born”. Literally so many times I can’t even give you a ball park estimate, 100 times, a thousand…..does it fucking matter? I guess part of her was kind enough to say that instead of “I wish you were dead”, she reserved that wish for herself. She would vacillate between being completely over protective and affectionate to wishing we were never born. Between apologies, isolation, madness, drunken debauchery and uncertain life circumstances we never knew what to expect from her.

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My mom worked her ass off to support us. My father was shitty and inconsistent with child support payments and as a result we were broke. We had enough to eat, thank you school lunch subsidy and we got food stamps but there were no luxuries. Most of my clothes were hand me downs from my cousins. Mom had to splurge on clothes for my brother because there were no hand me downs to be had for him. Our grandparents would take us shopping before each new school year and we would get some needed items – jeans, shoes, jackets. They were good to us and our lives would have been so much worse without their help.

Besides the clothes and money they slipped my mom our grandparents also took us for occasional weekends so mom could get a break. This was after spending a year living with them. Our means to get there was less than delightful. My brother and I would take a bus from Sayreville to Waretown. It felt like 3 days but it was probably a good 2 1/2 hours with several stops including bus stations in Lakewood and Toms River. I would always get off the bus in Lakewood to cause my brother anxiety and stretch my legs. It was a bit of a ghetto there and my brother was always afraid that I wouldn’t get back on the bus in time….I never missed. We started this trek when we were 10 years old….pretty sure parents would get locked up now for putting their kids on a public bus for such a long period but in the late 70’s it was no big deal. Aside from the horrible fumes, second hand smoke, freaks and intense motion sickness it wasn’t so bad. Kind of like the scene from Trains, Planes and Automobiles just switch out the open space for a more urban setting.

To be continued…..https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2016/01/16/keep-on-truckin-part-9/

Keep on Truckin’…….Part 7

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Keep on Truckin’…….Part 7

Sometime in the summer of 1978 my brother and I finally moved back into a place with our mother. She had spent the last year getting settled into a job and a new apartment. While she was getting settled my brother and I stayed with our maternal grandparents. That living situation was prompted by a disastrous year in Florida with my mother, her boyfriend, Frank and my twin brother and me.

When we came back to New Jersey my brother and I were excited about seeing our father again. He lived in a shore town in New Jersey and we were both looking forward to reconnecting. Before we left for Florida we saw our father and his bride on a regular basis. They even tried to gain custody of the two of us. I remember having someone from the court ask me who I would rather live with….which was a ridiculous question for me…that question was a 1,000 pounds on my 7 year old shoulders. I answered with trepidation….something to the effect of I love them both but I guess I’d rather live with my mom.

The truth is I was torn. I kind of fantasized what it would be like to live with my father and his new wife. I really loved them, they were good to us….her whole family was good to us. On the other hand I had my mother and I recognized that she was wounded and I felt like she needed me. I also knew with every fiber of my being that if I went to live with my father she would be lost to me forever.

She frequently said bad things about my father and step mother which made me question my loyalty on a regular basis. I felt good when I was with my father and his new family and then when my brother and I would get home our mother would interrogate us. She would look for the smallest sliver of anything she could use against him. How many drinks did so and so have, who was there, what was on tv? It was intense. And I’m not sure exactly when it started but sometime early on my mother started referring to my father as “shithead”. She did this constantly used shithead in place of his name or a pronoun. Textbook definition of how not to behave after a divorce.

So naturally when we went to see our father for the first time since returning to New Jersey, my brother and I were nervous. We were also excited. He called us weekly while we were in Florida and we were under the impression that they missed us. So when he answered the door and didn’t invite us in my world caved in a bit. He said something about not being able to just come over unannounced and blah blah…..I don’t remember the exact words. I just remember shutting down and closing him off. Of course my mother reinforced how awful that was when we told her what happened.

Even though my mom was crazy it was hard for me to be apart from her. So when the three of us starting living together again I was happy. We started 5th grade that year in an elementary school which was maybe six blocks away. I had been to plenty of new schools by this point so I was pretty good at making new friends and observing situations.

Not sure how far into the school year it happened but one day I got into a verbal altercation with someone.  Before I could blink I had half the class threatening to beat me up after school. At which point I became more bravado than brains and started to assign people numbers something like “oh yeah I’ll fight you first, you second, you third….” pointing out the kids I would fight and in what order. Somewhere before I got to double digits an angel stepped in. She was the class jock and everyone adored her and even then she was cool enough to not give a shit about what people thought of her. She announced that if anyone fought me they would have to fight her as well. They all backed out of the fight and I got a new best friend.

I’ll never forget the day that Shelly stood up for me. After school I was determined to go to her house. I went up to the door and from that day until high school I spent many hours there. Her family was crazy but in a good way. They were loud, all the kids cursed but they loved each other. There was always food, snacks, dinner and all the Nestle Quik you could drink. Those were luxuries for me then…..hell we couldn’t afford Devil Dogs. Her mom didn’t work so she was often driving her kids and their friends around. I was always welcome there.

This was such a stark contrast to my family life. My brother and I were latch key kids. We came home after school to an empty apartment and I always had a long list of chores including getting dinner ready most nights. My brother and I fought all the time. That caused problems because we lived over a business so my mother had to hear about our behavior a lot. That did not make her happy and if mom isn’t happy no one is happy.

We never knew what kind of mood our mother would be in when she came home. When we heard her coming up the steps we would scatter like roaches when the lights come on. Scurrying off in different directions, tucked away until we could determine if it was safe to come out.

To be continued…..https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/11/12/keep-on-truckin-part-8/

Keep on Truckin’……Part 6

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Keep on Truckin’……Part 6

When I was in 4th grade my twin brother and I lived with our maternal grandparents. We spent the prior year moving from one place to another in the northern part of Florida with our mother and her then boyfriend, Frank. Parts of that year were fun. The weather was mild, little lizards were everywhere, we got to Disney World and we had a boat. The bad parts probably outweighed the good; snakes, domestic violence, multiple moves, mom in a Psych Ward, a foster home and a rapid departure after mom was arrested. So all in all an exciting year.

My brother and I were staying with our grandparents so our mother could get back on her feet. She needed to time to get a job and find an apartment for the three of us. Our parents had divorced several years prior and at this point my father was remarried and recently had his first child with his second wife. Before we left for Florida our father requested custody and ultimately lost. When we finally got to the shore town where he lived my brother and I could hardly wait to see him.

We were visiting a family friend who lived around the corner from my father. My brother and I bounded over there excited to see him. We could barely contain ourselves while we waited for him to answer the door. A somber version of our father emerged and coaxed us away from the entry and sat on the steps. I don’t remember his exact words but the gist of it was you can’t just come here unannounced and I’m sure it had something to do with his baby daughter. Looking back I can see where the man had been put through hell. Trying to get custody, loose that battle and then his crazy (certified) ex wife takes his kids to Florida….it must have been an emotional roller coaster for him. I lacked that perspective then. What I heard was I don’t want to see you now and then it all faded to black.

I think my little psyche had been through too much at this point so I just shut down. If he didn’t want us there then fine I wouldn’t want to be there. I flipped a switch, threw up a wall, deployed the shield. If I am honest some of it is still there, maybe half a wall (3/4s) at this point almost 40 years later….My brother god bless him he handled it different. He just tried harder to get the man’s attention and sometimes they still do that dance. It’s heartbreaking, infuriating and pathetic to watch. Like watching an animal stuck in a trap trying to get out, wailing in pain. I avoid the trap, still do.

That year with my grandparents I started to slide. I mouthed off to people said shit that was stupid and incoherent. I told one kid to “suck momma moose cock” which isn’t even a real thing. Had to have my grandmother sign a note with those ridiculous words on it. I got in physical fights one was with a classmate who happened to be a boy. I was ready to fight anyone. My brother and I fought a lot and it got nasty – punches, scratching full on physical altercations. I also stole change from some charity box we had at home that was supposed to go to church. I wanted ice cream at lunch …..I didn’t think past the box.

Our mother would visit us sometimes on weekends but not always. I was so insecure I’m sure part of me thought she would just leave us there with our grandparents. She did leave me in Florida with family friends the prior summer for several weeks so it wasn’t that far of a reach. So here I am an angry, scared, insecure 9 year old girl who has already moved at least 12 times and attended no less than 5 schools by 4th grade. The poster child for dysfunction.

To be continued……https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/11/09/keep-on-truckin-part-7/

Keep on Truckin’………Part 5

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Keep on Truckin’………Part 5

My mother was arrested in front of me in August of 1977. I was 9 years old. We had just destroyed the mobile home we lived in with her boyfriend, Frank. Apparently someone called the cops. I was put in the back of one police car while mom got taken away in another. It took them a while to figure out where to take me. We didn’t have any relatives in Florida, we were only there about a year.

My twin brother had been sent back to our home state of New Jersey in June. He was staying with relatives. I stayed with family friends for about 3 weeks while my mom and brother made the trip back home. My brother stayed in New Jersey and mom came back but not for long. She attempted suicide shortly after she got back to Florida.  Because of that, I was sent to a foster home for about 5 days in early July. When she got out of the Psych Ward we went back to living in a mobile home with Frank. Mind you at the time I didn’t know she tried to kill herself, I was told that she needed to rest.

Things were rocky to say the least. Frank and my mother fought constantly and I saw my mother get physically abused by him. He dragged her throughout the home and she was crying. I was chasing after him and screaming for him to stop. My mother tried to say it was fun, that they were just goofing around.  The rug burns on her arms and legs told another story and I can still picture them in my mind.

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The night my mother got arrested I stayed with a childless couple that were friends with our once foursome. They seemed like nice people. I remember sitting on their couch and talking but I don’t remember what we talked about it. I think they took me snorkeling but the memories are fuzzy. At any rate I probably wasn’t with them more than two days. Frank had to buy me a first class ticket to New Jersey. I guess that was the rule then for a minor traveling alone. It was my first plane ride. I don’t think I was afraid of flying but I did challenge myself to get a candy bar out of the guy before I boarded. That was a personal victory, it was a mounds bar in case you are wondering. I remember being encouraged to chew gum during take off so I was totally fine with flying.

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My maternal grandparents and my twin brother met me at the airport in Newark, New Jersey. I remember that my grandmother fell on the escalator…..as if my homecoming needed more drama. My grandparents were probably close to 70 at the time so a fall could have been a real game changer. Thankfully she recovered. I’m not sure how long it took my mother to get back to New Jersey but my brother and I lived with our grandparents for a year while my mother got back on her feet.

That’s pretty much how it was explained to us. My mother was busy getting her life in order; getting a job, finding a place for us to live, etc.,. So while she did that we lived with our grandparents in Waretown, New Jersey. Sometimes we wouldn’t see her for weeks and that was really hard. When you are a kid you tend to believe what the adults around you tell you but I was getting cynical.

We were in 4th grade that year and my brother and I both had issues with kids. He was tormented by some jerk on the bus and I was the second least attractive girl in class. In the 70’s no one gave a shit if you were bullied you just dealt with it. I remember feeling conflicted about the other least popular girl in class. I simultaneously felt sorry for her and was grateful there was someone under me in the 4th grade food chain.  I recognized that made me a bit of a jerk.

Her family lived in a trailer and had less than we did. She didn’t seem to have a good handle on hygiene but I suspect that was because she only had sporadic access to hot water. In the spring we were picking buddies for a field trip and no one picked her so I offered to be her buddy. Looking back I don’t think I had a lot of offers.

One time a kid found milk bone dog biscuits in my desk, that was unfortunate. I had an explanation…….there was a dog I passed on the way home from school and I regularly brought treats for it. That wasn’t the take away that the class latched on to….no from that day forward I was referred to as a dog. That was a thing when I was growing up, ugly girls were referred to as dogs.

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To be continued…….https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/11/07/keep-on-truckin-part-6/

Keep on Truckin’………Part 4

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Keep on Truckin’………Part 4

In August of 1977 I was living in a mobile home in the northern part of Florida. I was there with my mother and her boyfriend, Frank. My twin brother who started the adventure with us nine months prior was back in our home state of New Jersey. My mother made the trip back with him and I stayed with friends of the family for several weeks until she returned.

Soon after she returned to Florida she tried to kill herself and ended up in a Psych Ward. Mind you I didn’t know she tried to kill herself at the time. I was probably told that mommy needs a break or she is sick and needs to rest. The family friends were probably weary of my company so I landed in an emergency foster home for about 5 days. Nothing horrible happened in the foster home except that I knew this wasn’t normal. My whole life up until that point had not been normal but the emergency foster home made me feel especially isolated and insecure. I was 9 years old and my entire family except for my mother was in New Jersey.

I also wondered why she took my brother back to New Jersey and not both of us. In retrospect I think she was trying to pry herself away from an abusive relationship in what she thought was the safest way. If she left one kid in Florida she could convince Frank that she would come back. If she took both kids he would have been alerted to the fact that the relationship was over and the abuse could have escalated.

Why take my brother and not me? Well being the oldest by a full five minutes, I always acted as his protector. Of course we fought like hell but deep down I would have taken a bullet for my brother and somehow that was known. In fact I would have taken a bullet for him up until I had kids of my own. I was also mentally and emotionally stronger. So I can understand her choice and I am giving her a lot of benefit of the doubt. Any way you slice it….it was a fucked up situation.

A couple weeks after we both got out of our institutional settings, things got nuts. My mother and I were at the mobile home and Frank was out. It was a hot day in Florida typical of August. I was outside playing with a friend. The mobile home had a large window in the front room and I could see my mother motioning my friend and I to move away, so we did. A couple of minutes later a large object came crashing through the window. I told me friend I had to go and went inside to see what was happening.

My mother’s master plan for ending the relationship was to destroy the home. She thought if he sees this level of destruction surely he will let us go. So I helped my mother trash the place. I’m not going to lie it was kind of fun. I threw dishes like they were frisbees. We decorated a framed photograph of Frank with toilet paper and drew a crown on his bald head and renamed him “King Shit”. I threw flour and other food all over the kitchen, we slashed furniture and clothes. We destroyed the place.Featured image

It was all great fun until the cops came. Then I saw my mother get arrested and hand cuffed in front of me. Apparently it was the second time she was arrested since we moved to Florida. I wasn’t present for her first arrest. I was placed in the back of a police car until they figured out what to do with me. My mother was taken off to jail.

To be continued……https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/11/04/keep-on-truckin-part-5/

Keep on Truckin’……Part 3

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Keep on Truckin’……Part 3

My twin brother and I turned 9 in early June of 1977. I still remember my favorite birthday gift, a pink pair of silky smooth bell bottom pajamas with a ruffle halter top. I did some serious dancing in those jammies to Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke. It was a good song then and it stands the test of time.

We had been living in Florida with our mother and her boyfriend, Frank, for about 10 months. In that time with lived in a hotel, 2 houses and a mobile home. We attended third grade in two different school districts. Did I mention that we were there for about 10 months?

We also spent a fair amount of time on a boat we named Gemini IV and yes we were all Geminis. It was a 40 foot cabin cruiser and I learned how to fish on that boat. I also tried snorkeling and I remember hearing about sponge divers. We ate out a lot, mostly at Red Lobster which was a new experience for us. We even went to Disney World – somewhere I have a photo of me in orange bell bottoms with Holly Hobbie stitched on the leg bottoms. I was also wearing the ever popular mouse ears.

Featured imageIt was a big year for us filled with adventure and we weren’t broke which was a nice change. Prior to Florida we had lived in a boarding house and various apartments and shack houses. I knew what poor was from a young age. The year before our move we had a secret Santa who dropped off a couple of black hefty bags full of goodies including a Candy Land board game and some Fluff marshmallow spread. I knew what it was to want things that you knew you couldn’t have.

Eventually though the relationship between my mother and Frank started to deteriorate. There were some mamma drama moments. One time my mother ran over our bicycles. Mind you she wasn’t mad at her kids….she ran the bikes over to piss off Frank. The bikes were a gift from his sister and somehow destroying them seemed like a good get-even plan to her. I’m going to assume alcohol was involved in that thought process. She wasn’t the only one who was nuts. I remember seeing Frank drag my mother across the carpet and I was screaming at him to stop hurting her. To her credit she tried to tell me it was OK and that they were having fun. The rug burns told another story.

At some point my mother started to plan our escape. Apparently it was a two part plan. Sometime in the beginning of June she left Florida and took a bus to New Jersey with my brother. She left me behind. Let that sink in a minute…..she left her just turned 9 year old daughter in Florida with a family we knew for maybe two months. The family I stayed with moved into the second house we rented in Newport Richey so at least the house was familiar. The memories are fuzzy but there were at least two daughters and they taught me how to stuff oranges in my shirt to make it look like I had boobs. I also tried smoking and had my first kiss with an Australian boy. What can I say he had me a “‘owdy mate”. it was a hell of a month.Featured image

Somewhere close to July my mom came back to Florida and I went back to living in the mobile home with her and Frank. Within in days my mother went off the deep end and wound up in a Psych Ward. My brother was still in New Jersey and I landed in an emergency foster home. I don’t remember much from my time there I think I was only there about 5 days. The woman who picked me up to take me there told me I had nice eyelashes. That was almost 40 years ago and I remember that simple compliment. I also remember there were other kids there. Some were the foster parents biological kids, others were transients like me. We drank powdered milk which was gross and the dad was a cabinet maker. They liked to watch Little House on the Prairie. I was there for the 4th of July, we watched the fireworks on tv. I also remember it being 7/7/77 while I was there. I was told at the time that it was a special date. It didn’t feel special but it was memorable.

To be continued……https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/10/22/keep-on-truckin-part-4/

Keep on Truckin’……..Part 2

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Keep on Truckin’……..Part 2

There were a few incidents that I remember from before our trek to Florida that made me think my mom had some problems. There were fights with my father. I remember he got physically violent with her once. I swear I was crawling at the time and people say you can’t remember that far back but I can picture it. Had to be under 2 years old. I remember seeing my father hit my mom across her face as she slid down with her back against the wall. I also remember the verbal assault when my mom was screaming at my stepmother outside of the house where she lived with my father.What a tricky situation for a kid. Three people I adored and my mom was out of her mind, most likely drunk and making a scene on a block where we knew everyone.

Then there was the night when were couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. Our mom woke us up in the middle of the night, she had a bandage on her chin. She told us that she was in a car accident and she just wanted to hug and kiss us. I later found out that she was driving drunk. The cops let her off because it was the 70s and she was pretty. So, drunk driver turned into driver swerved to avoid hitting an animal.

There were of course the family holidays which were an excuse for the adults to get wasted. That always guaranteed some level of dysfunction. I learned at an early age that topics of religion and politics were fine because if they focused on that they left the kids alone. When they tired of those topics the kids became targets. I was smart, kept my mouth shut and generally stayed under the radar….the ones that stood up for themselves got the most abuse. I learned how to blend in like a chameleon.

During our send off/8th birthday party the drunkenness was at expert level. A few people stayed over in our small apartment because they passed out. I shared a bed with one of those. Her name was Eleanore and I adored her. We met Eleanore and her husband Frank when we lived at a boarding house in Point Pleasant Beach. We had one room for the three of us and they had an efficiency which was basically the penthouse in that place. They were kind to us and were very close friends of ours. Anyhow, I woke up the day after the party and the bed was wet. I was mortified. How could I have wet the bed……..wait a minute….I realized my underwear was dry though the sheets next to me were wet. Took my 8 year old brain a minute to realize Eleanore had wet the bed.

Shortly after that party we found ourselves in Florida with my mother’s boyfriend Frank. He was an inventor and he was working on a product that would conserve water in toilets. Sounds boring but the guy was so damn charming, I was in love. We were in Florida for about two weeks when I made the conscience decision to be an adult. Not sure what made me take that mental step. I’m sure I heard bits and pieces of conversations and somehow decided that was the best way to help out.

So I started that day. The four of were living in a Quality Inn hotel room and I started my adulthood by cleaning out the coffee pot. I was going to be a responsible citizen from that point on. Sure enough that year I started to cook family meals, vacuum and do my own laundry. I adored my mother at this point and I wanted desperately to please her. I’m sure that is why I went into adult mode. The adults probably thought it was cute at first and then they realized not so bad this kid can get shit done.

Aside from the Quality Inn we lived in three different houses and went to two different schools. We were in 3rd grade that year. The first house was next to a Drive In Movie Theater…..guess who saw JAWS on the big screen from outside of our house. I’m not going to lie that movie messed me up. We also had a coral snake in our shed once which freaked me out. This house was a bit of a dump if the proximity to a drive in and the snake didn’t already give that away.

The second house was a huge upgrade. We had a lot that went from one street to another. We were near a park and had an orange tree in our yard. We were so complacent we even got a dog. He was a German Shepherd, we named him Duke. My brother and I each had our own room. It was a 4 bedroom house which to me was palatial. I had the chicken pox in that house. I remember taking an oatmeal bath in the brown bathroom. We had a snake in that house once, our cat coaxed it out of hiding and then a neighbor stepped in to finish the job. Did I mention that I really hate snakes?

The third house we lived in was actually a mobile home. For those that are familiar,  it was a double wide which pretty much means what it says. It was a very nice mobile home with new carpeting and I remember I had white furniture in my bedroom. My brother and I had a Jack and Jill bathroom that we shared. Hard to imagine but the downward spiral went quick after we moved in.

To be continued……https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/10/20/keep-on-truckin-part-3/

Keep on Truckin’……..Part 1

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Keep on Truckin’……..Part 1

When I was a little girl I adored my mother. I suppose that is normal, little girls look up to their moms….miss them when they go away for an hour or a weekend or a month. I remember when I was in kindergarten we made plaster hand plagues as mothers day gifts. Mine was a pink circle with a small white plaster hand imprint in the center. I was so excited about giving her that gift that I spilled the beans about it before mothers day.

She was so pretty. Stylish short blonde hair, gorgeous blue eyes and a petite figure. She would go out sometimes so she dressed nice and did her make up. She was young, pretty and divorced in the 70s so she went out. She also worked as a cocktail waitress at a couple of popular Jersey Shore bars and she had a great uniform for that. One of her cocktail waitress uniforms was a block style mini dress with alternating black and white blocks she wore high white boots with it…..I can still picture that dress hanging on the bathroom door in our apartment on Beaver Dam Road in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

I can remember her making things fun when we were young. We moved a lot probably due to a combination of equal parts financial hardships and poor decisions. She always made it feel like an adventure. I remember there was a poster in the living room in the place we called “the shack” it was an old guy walking down the road with “Keep on Truckin'” across the top. I remember listening to music – Neil Sedaka, The Rolling Stones, Diana Ross even some Janice Joplin. She read to us at night – Horton the Elephant by Dr. Seuss that was our favorite and she must have read it a thousand times. She was patient, pretty, cool and fun. That’s the mom I miss.

I can pretty much pin point the day that I realized she was in over her head. I was eight years old. We had just traveled from New Jersey to Florida and we were temporarily staying at a Quality Inn. It had a pool and there were little lizards all over the place so basically a kid paradise. But underneath I knew things were f*cked up.

We left the state of New Jersey soon after my twin brother and I turned 8. There was a big party….I think it was promoted as an 8th birthday party for the “twins”. But it was more of a drunken debauchery send off for my mom and I suppose us. My mother had recently won full custody of my brother and I. My father and step mother tried to get us to live with them but they lost in court. So my mom wanted to celebrate by moving us to Florida with her then boyfriend, Frank, who was an inventor and could easily sell ice to an Eskimo.

We drove to Florida in a convertible Cadillac and when we crossed the state line there was a huge sign that read “Welcome to Florida, the Sunshine State.” Even then I appreciated the irony or perhaps it was foreshadowing, it was raining like hell.

To be continued…….https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/10/17/keep-on-truckin-part-2/