Look I was a little conehead. Thankfully, I didn't look like I was from planet Remulak or "France" for long, it only lasted a couple days. It's been 30 years since that photo was taken. I've experienced a lot. Plenty of triumphs and troubles. Still, I know I have far more life to learn and live... there is more to experience and discover. I feel like I'm setting off on a new journey, however. I don't know what lies ahead, but I'm excited about what tomorrow might bring.
Meanwhile, here are 30 moments and milestones that molded me into who I am today.
1. I was an Indian Princess; my best memories of my dad are from that special one-on-one time with him. We roller skated, had overnighters, bike rides, pumpkin decorating contests and more. The daddy daughter dance was fun. That’s where I embarrassed my dad by licking the cover of the pad of butter. What can I say? I’m classy
2. From 1st grade thru high school I remained in the same school district. We moved when I was twelve, but my parents made it a priority to keep us in the same district so we never had to start over at a new school.
3. It took me forever to learn to ride a bike without training wheels. I am pretty sure I was seven before I learned. I frustrated my parents terribly with my fear to ride.
4. But get this… I was an adrenaline junkie. I loved fast rides and roller coasters. We went to Six Flags Great America often. The Eagle and the Whizzer were my favorite. I think I was five or six when I started riding coasters. I longed to ride the Demon. I’d wear my hair in a high pony tail and wear shoes that made me the tallest in hopes I’d make the height restriction.
5. My parents took me to Florida was I was seven. You’d think I would’ve loved Disney World, but I didn’t. I wasn’t into the cutesy characters and I thought the rides were weak. I was only happy with Magic Mountain. I had a far better time at Busch Gardens and hanging at the beaches in Daytona and New Smyrna.
6. I had to wait until I was seven for a sibling. I never wanted anything more. I loved being a big sister to Mike. My sister was born when I was nine. For seven years all I wished for was a brother or sister. Now I had both. Wishes do come true.
7. In 5th grade I crushed on a boy who was Italian. He teased me terribly for being fair skinned and unable to tan. It was then, I decided one day I’d marry an Italian so our kids would have a chance at tanning. A year or two later, I thought if all my freckles joined together I could be tan. I laid out once to try, but I never tanned, only fried myself. I said I was classy, not brilliant.
8. During 7th/8th grade we had a something called Snowflake each spring. It was a program about drug awareness, peer pressure and building self-confidence. I attended both years. In 8th grade our drugs and guidance teacher made us submit a t-shirt design as an assignment. My design was later chosen for all the t-shirts and buttons. Friends coined it “blue goober” it was inspired by sprites from Rainbow Brite. The winning motto that year was “don’t be a fool, drugs aren’t cool”. Yeah, that’ll keep kids off drugs.
9. 8th grade also marks the time of my first real relationship. Before boyfriends lasted a few hours and we simply checked a box in a note marked do you like me, yes or no? But Dustin was different. He and I actually hung out; we didn’t even go to the same school. I remember our first French kiss. I was so nervous I giggled non-stop. He couldn’t understand why, he asked if there was a frog on his head to break the ice. It didn’t help; all I could picture was frogs on his head. But eventually the laughter subsided and we kissed. We dated off and on until I met Frank.
10. Moving on to high school. What a waste. I hated it. The only redeeming factors were art class, practical math, teaching child care and meeting Frank.
11. I got my first job at fifteen. I got a worker’s permit to work reception for a Real Estate-Mortgage-Title Company. After four years, I moved on to a large furniture store where I held several positions. I worked there over five years. Quit to move to Vegas, I’ve now been at the same roofing co for seven years. I stick with things for the long haul. Before I entered the real working world I babysat for cash. I’ve been making my own money for twenty years.
12. Getting my license was a nightmare. I wasn’t able to get into driver’s education through school until well after my 16th birthday. So, I paid for private lessons. I got scammed, my instructor was a prejudiced old bastard he took me to Robbins (a notoriously unsafe neighborhood) and told me if I can survive that I’ll survive anything. I passed driver’s ed with flying colors… I lived. But when my 16th birthday came I did not get my license. My mom refused to take me until she felt I was ready. I got it two months later.
13. Sixteen was a troubling time for me. I wasn’t in a good place. I did stupid things. I had a wake-up call and sought counseling. It was one the greatest things I could’ve done for myself. I learned to cope.
14. For a couple years, I modeled for the Gaelic Park Fashion Show. Finally my red hair and freckles worked to my advantage. It was a lot of fun. The experience helped me my junior year of HS, I was in a fashion class and we had a show to put on. I helped get it organized and strutted my stuff to Pantera in a dress from Hot Topic.
15. Junior year, my best friend and I went to a party. Most of the entire HS was there. It got busted by the police. We all got hauled to the police station, there were too many to arrest, but we were ticketed for being patrons of house of ill repute. Which was bogus no sex took place. The kid who threw the party did so after his family was evicted from the house. We had no idea.
16. Junior year is also when I met Frank. I learned to trust. I learned to love. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
17. I was seventeen and my mom grounded me for getting drunk at a party. I left. Hell broke loose. I had never not listened before. She took my bank book (needed for making withdrawals) and my license. I have never been so angry. Every cent in my bank account was mine, I worked for it. I had the right to my license. I didn’t think she could be any less fair. She was afraid I was going to run away. It never crossed my mind. I just wanted to make a point I was too old to be grounded.
18. 1998, my parents divorced. They were no good together anymore. I begged for it for years. It was a huge relief for me, but it was tough on Mike and Amy, especially my sister.
19. 1998, I graduated. Finally my high school years were over. I could not have been happier. Frank and I attended prom together. We were nominated for king and queen, but we did not win. Frank was named “heaviest smoker”.
20. I started junior college that fall with the intent to become a teacher. I went full-time and worked full-time. It burnt me out. I took the next semester off. It freaked my mom out. She thought I wouldn’t go back, but I did, part-time (and I continued to work full-time). I decided teaching was not for me. Nothing else ever felt right, but I figured it was best to get all my prerequisites out of the way. I could continue my education if/when there was something specific I wanted to do. I received my AA degree December, 2002.
21. Frank and I moved in together December, 2000. Moving out devastated my sister. It took years for her to forgive me.
22. February, 2003 we went to Vegas to celebrate graduating. Frank proposed. We then decided to move. Frank had been laid off for two months, we both finished school. It was time to roll the dice.
23. We moved to Vegas in June, 2003. It was hard to leave… fear of the unknown and I had no family in Nevada. I had to put all my faith into Frank. We had a big going away party right before we left. I felt so special. It was hard to say so long, but once we were on the road I knew we were doing the right thing. Tears dried up and I was filled with excitement.
24. April, 2004 we had been in Vegas nearly a year. We were settled, life was good, and we tied the knot at Mandalay Bay. 80 friends and family celebrated with us. It was a special week. Not only for the obvious reasons, but it was also a chance for Frank and me to share our new lives with everyone we cared for and missed. Later that year my family back home had significant struggles and battles, it tore me up.
25. 2005, we quit smoking. I had smoked for decade. Pretty gross. I grew up around smoke and never knew life without it. Since then, my sense of smell and taste has been restored. Not to mention, I get sick far less often. That year I also broke my ankle in Mexico, had an emergency appendectomy and gained thirty pounds.
26. Early, 2006, my sister found out she was pregnant. I knew she had hard times ahead, but it was a blessing. That year, my mom, Mike, Amy and Jeff all moved to Pahrump. November 4 I experienced the miracle of birth and met my nephew, Nicolas Michael.
27. The next year was a struggle. Frank was transferred to Laughlin. We had to learn to live apart and juggle two households. Also, Frank fought back pain for months before getting relief from surgery to repair his bulging and herniated discs. Recovery was a cake walk compared to the months of “pain management”. Despite the chaos, I was able to loose the last of the 30lbs I packed on by exercising and eating healthy. Mike, Amy, Jeff and Nicky all returned to Chicago due to death and illness in the family.
28. By 2008, we regained our health, Frank was transferred back to Vegas. All was great until the housing market crashed and the economy crumbled. We went from the best of times to the worst of times financially in the blink of an eye. We had piss poor timing in buying our house and selling our condos. You win some, you lose some. We made out ok. We kept our jobs in the most uncertain times.
29. In fourteen months, I lost my all of my grandparents to cancer. A few years before, we also lost Frank’s gram to cancer. Over the past decade my mom, aunt, uncles and Frank’s mom have all battled cancer and won (thankfully). I HATE cancer.
30. Here I am, it's my 30th birthday. I have a wonderful husband. We have our health. Great jobs. A beautiful home in the city we adore. I’m grateful.