Six Degrees of Separation: A Sad Song

It’s such a small world in so many ways.

My girlfriend’s sister lived on the same street as my aunt. Now her kids go to the same school as my godson. One of my godson’s best friends is my other girlfriend’s son.

I sang karaoke with a dude who went to high school with my friend…and was married to a girl who’s best friend married another one of my friends.

I run into people I haven’t seen since high school or college on the train or at a restaurant.

We’re only as far away from one another as we are distanced by Facebook friends. Which often isn’t very far.

We find out where someone went to school, grew up, lives, works. Our first question is often, “Do you know ________?”

We seek out these connections. And we’re all surrounded by them. Six degrees of separation. Who needs Kevin Bacon when our world is this small?
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And then there’s you. Impossible. Unreachable. You.

With the hundreds of connections I have on Facebook. The social media sites I’m active on, galore. The fact that you live no more than 20 miles from me (and that’s generous). But you’re invisible.

I realize I’m of another generation. But not by much. Most people of your world must have flocked to Facebook.

I say that, assuming you have people. Do you? Have people, I mean? Of course, I know you’re married. And I know you have a child (I think two). The internet is a beautiful thing. But do you have people? Friends? Family? Co-workers? People who beg you to be more active on Facebook?

Are you happy?

Have you made a life that makes up for what’s missing? For what you left behind?

Did you forget about us? Me? Your little sister who went and grew up without you. Who never forgot you. Who thinks about you more that she probably should. Who remembers every joke. Every story. Every song. With every fiber of my being.

Does it matter?

Blog friends, are you thinking about someone in your life that you haven’t seen in years? Do you have weird family stuff? Do you have an “six degrees of separation” stories? Tell me your story.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Cheers to the Forest Fire

I promise I’m not really an asshole. I have a point.

(Hey Mom, let Dad read this one. Also, don’t cry. It’s awesome to have such great memories.)

So, Saturday was my dad’s 70th birthday.We were chatting about my blog, and he asked how he could read it. I explained it to him, though I’m not sure if he still understands. He’s really cute when he says, “Quirky Chrissy.” One day I’m going to film it and put it up here. But he asked if I ever wrote about the forest fire. I hadn’t, but I knew that I had to.

Mom shamelessly plugs my blog–I can tell she’s really proud that I am able to write about the crazy and make it sound adorable and endearing. I love that she does it though, because it spikes my readership. Moms are good like that… but she forgets to show my dad the tales I write…and he’s the opposite of tech savvy. His last technological achievement was playing Pacman on a table top machine. (Oh and the cell phone I made him get by bribing him with the Notre Dame Fight Song ring tone).  But he’s the best dad ever.

No one can believe that he’s 70. Especially not me. Back in my heavy drinkin’ days… Dad was one of my favorite drinking buddies. My first legal shot was with my parents. I used to hang out with dad at the family bar, doing shots of Jamo, showing off my mad skills that I learned in college (like how to open a beer bottle with my forearm), and reigning as Princess Flaherty, by my dad’s side.

My first legal shot

My first legal shot. Happy 21st birthday to ME. (Less than 2 hours later, I would have no idea which hand I wrote with, which was up, or that my skirt should be below my belly button…not above it.)

One of my earlier memories is of my estranged sister (obviously, before she was douchey and estranged), Deven, telling me that MGD was the best beer ever. I looked her square in the eye and said, “When I grow up, I’m going to drink Bud Light, like my daddy.”

And I did.

Of course, not for a while. My parents were pretty brilliant in the boozin’ world of raising kids. Nothing was ever “off limits” so to say… there was no mystery in alcohol. “Can I try?” was always met with a “sure, one sip.” This would typically be denied after a whiff of the beer, cognac, whiskey, wine, etc. in question.  But occasionally, my brother and I would go in for the kill and take a tiny swig, which we found revolting. Alcohol is definitely an acquired taste.

So we didn’t drink. We made it through high school relatively straight-laced. Friends of our parents called us the “stepford children,” because we weren’t drinking and driving, doing drugs, having sex, getting arrested, or any of the other crazy shit that many of their own children were doing… we were goodie two-shoes’. (I was terrified of my mother’s wrath…rightfully so, obviously. I was also afraid of getting caught and kicked off the cheerleading team. I fear reprimand. In life. Still.)

So, then I went off to college. And my dad bet me that I was going to come home and say, “Hey dad, pass me a fuckin’ beer.” He was always is always putting “fuckin” into my potential quotations. His biggest fear was always me meeting my future mother in law for dinner with this beauty: “Pass the fuckin’ potatoes,” which I would never say in front of Brian’s mom!

Not wanting to lose a bet…I made it a point to dislike beer. And find some nice older student to buy me liquor. As evident from previous posts about my college drinking habits…this was not a problem. For the first week, I called home every night. And every night Mom would ask, “Did you get drunk yet?” And every night I would say, “Nope, not yet.” Until one night on Geisert 8. And all hell broke loose.

So when my parents came out for parents weekend…and took me on a massive stock-up grocery trip at the Super Walmart…I was a little surprised, yet ridiculously excited when we walked down the booze aisle, and Daddy said to me, “What do you want?” I was like a kid in a candy store. It was the greatest thing ever. For a college freshman. I picked up a bottle of Smirnoff Raspberry and a bottle of Malibu. They were pretty much gone before my parents left for home that Sunday. I. Will. Never. Drink. Them. Again. Ever.

I came home that summer and not once did I ask Dad to pass me a beer. I still hated beer. I said, “Pass the fucking vodka.” And he laughed. The following summer, Dad and I shared many Bud Lights over long chats by our pool. One night we were talking about cheers and toasts. My dad looked at me, and said, “Christine, you come from a family that would drink to a forest fire.”

And so every once in a great while, Dad and I will drink to the forest fire. But only the ones that are done on purpose. We’re not monsters.

 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Memories of a Long Lost Sister

In January, my brother and I sent a baby gift to our then unborn niece. Our unborn niece that we may never have the pleasure of meeting, let alone knowing. My estranged half sister, Deven, who disappeared from our lives more than 15 years ago, just had a baby.

Many of my friends don’t even know that I have an older sister. To them, I’ve always been the oldest in my household. But I still think about her. I still love her. The love of a sibling doesn’t just go away, even if she made us cry, even if she abandoned us.

I occasionally attempt to keep tabs on her life, and through the sheer force of the interwebs, I found out that she was having a baby. So I sent an olive branch. Though I didn’t expect for it to induce a response, I would have been thrilled to welcome my big sister back into my life.

For the first thirteen years of my life, she was a power player. My inspiration. My pal. She spent almost every weekend with us, and my room was her room. (Of course, I’d have to clear a pathway free of toys from the door to the bunk bed ladder so she could walk through). We went camping, went on vacation, and visited her at college; we did all the things younger siblings are supposed to do with their favorite big sis. We loved her.

I’ll never forget the time she called home from Purdue, and I was talking to her about coming to visit. She promised to take me to parties and sneak me some beer. I replied, completely seriously, by telling her that “I prefer cocktails.” Of course I was 8 and referring to Chrissy Cocktails (AKA Kiddie Cocktails with pineapple juice, squirt, and grenadine).

She used to always get me the best Barbie stuff. I still have the blue and pink ’57 Chevy that she bought me for Christmas one year. She and her visiting friends would play Barbie with me, while we watched Guns N Roses on MTV. She introduced Brian and I to the classic 80’s and 90’s movies, like Labyrinth, Goonies, The Princess Bride, and of course–Night of the Comet (AKA The Zombie Movie that we ALWAYS wanted to watch).

I have so many more memories of my sister. I often wish that she was still a part of our lives. I feel the saddest for my niece, who may never know the joy of having an Auntie Chrissy. (And Auntie Chrissy is pretty much the best Auntie in the world…not that I’m biased or anything).

So my brother and I sent her several gifts of love. A rubber ducky, some books (as all children receive books from Auntie Chrissy), and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. The Johnson’s was to remind our sister of us, as naked babies in a bath tub singing:

“No more tears!
No more tears!
We’re going to stick with Johnson’s for years!”

I guess I’ll never know what happened to make her leave us. But I cherish the childhood memories that I have.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Rude Awakening

Sitting at my kitchen table with my flavor of the week and my parents wasn’t exactly how I envisioned Thanksgiving 2006. But there it was. The four of us, sitting there, talking, if you can call it that.

Brad wasn’t exactly everything my parents ever wanted for me. He was a republican. He was very much not Catholic. And he was a Nascar fan who cheered for the Cubs. Politics. Religion. Sports. The three most controversial subjects known to man. Or at least to my mom. She loves to argue her point(the only point). So of course, she loved him. Not because he agreed with any of her points. No, he argued with her and didn’t back down. Not once.

My dad hated him. That made Brad feel really bad. He knew that he was blitzed (I had picked him up from his parents’ house to save him from whatever was pissing him off at the time). He knew that he had fucked up, but really, I didn’t care. I knew he wasn’t going to be around in my world for too long.

So there we were in my parent’s kitchen and he was rambling the drunken ramble. And mentioned his dog tags. Dog tags. Mom got up from the table. “Did Dad tell you we got dog tags in the mail?”

“What?” I looked at her. Knowing. But not knowing. Wondering. And thinking. And feeling the inner turmoil spew its way up from the depths of my heart. She dropped a set of dog tags in front of me on the table, along with some pins and a chevron. I stared at them. Brad  kept talking, but I didn’t hear a word he said. It was as if I was overcome with this feeling. By far, the strangest out of body experience I’ve ever felt. I was in another place. Tears welled up in my eyes. “Did she send a letter?” The boy kept talking. I had no clue what was going on outside of the inner sanctum of my mind.

Back in the 80’s, it was apparently very popular to wear camo, army gear, dog tags, just about anything relating to the army. My teenage sister(yes, older sister) took Daddy’s army stuff and wore it. For the 10+ years since we had last heard from her, she had kept these things. You see, Deven disappeared from our lives when I was 12. She was 10 years my senior, and I adored her. As a kid, I literally worshipped the ground she walked on. But after she graduated from college, she left and never came back.

So that Thanksgiving evening in my kitchen, Mom pulled out an envelope and showed it to me. I stared at the handwriting, not unlike my own. The tears almost fell. I stared. And just as abruptly as she had mentioned it, she pulled the envelope back. And somehow Brad reappeared, as if I had forgotten for those minute seconds that he was there. In my kitchen. With my parents. And Brad. And I was finishing a bottle of vodka. Except, the vodka bottle was empty. And the things my mother had just shown me were gone. And everyone was still drunk. It was almost as if a dream had pulled me out of existence only briefly, to be shoved back into reality with a force that could not be reckoned with.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!